Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween












I'll cast spell on you like I did my Grandma!








Lil' Punkin












Stephanie & Journey

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pics of Makenzie

I took some pics of Journey's little cousin Makenzie when they were down for a visit recently. I know her Mommy is anxious to see the pics . . . here are a few:
















































































Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where DOES the time go?

It's been six weeks since I posted anything - I've just been SO busy. So what have I been doing?? Well, to start with, Stephanie and I started a business - Journey Baby Boutique - and have been busy with that. We're going to craft shows selling baby items, most of which we make ourselves - burp cloths, bibs, hair bows/barettes, diaper bags & tote bags, diaper wipe cases, nursing covers, diapers, and more! Check out our blog:

http://journeybabyboutique.blogspot.com/
We attended our first craft show last weekend and it went great! Journey went along and was perfect of course! She drew in the crowds! We monogrammed lots of items on the spot and that kept us busy. We'll be at the Scarecrow Festival next weekend. Our booth will be next to Mary's, which is called Beads & Bling. Savanah is wearing one of her necklaces in the picture I posted in August (my last post).

YEARS ago, when Stephanie was a baby, Dana and I made some crafty stuff and went to some craft fairs, including the Scarecrow Festival. I took a "playpen" (that word is no longer fashionable, now they're called Pack & Play) for Stephanie and she went along too. I was into ceramics back in those days. Dana made wreaths and dried arrangements. We sold baked goods too - that was back before you had to worry about getting a commercial food license.

What else has been going on - we turned the back screened porch into a mudroom and SEWING ROOM!!! Well, it's not 100% finished, but getting there. I can't wait to have a dedicated craft room, what a luxury! The mud room is going to be nice too - with cabinets for more storage! I'll post pics soon.

Marc started a new batch of chicks. When the salmonella outbreak was on the news, people were beating a path to our door for eggs. It was crazy. So we decided it was time for more layers. We sold all the ducks - even Daffy - they were just too smelly & nasty - they poop all the time.

In addition to all the fun stuff, my company has been acquired by a bigger competitor and while I thankfully still have a job, I will have to move to another location which means a MUCH longer commute. I think I will start taking the bus again at that point.

I think that about sums up all the highlights for now.

Here are some recent pics of Rylan:





At summer camp - amateur archaeologist.

Here's Rylan and her Daddy, who is also her soccer coach, at practice.


Rylan's FIRST DAY of FIRST GRADE! I can still remember when her Mother went to first grade - she looked so much like Rylan.
Navasota recently had Homecoming and Journey and her Mommy went. Journey's wearing a sundress embroidered (by Grandma of course) with a sparkly diamond with a drill team dancer in the center and "Future Diamonette". You can't see her little bloomers, but her name is embroidered on them, all in Rattler Blue! Stephanie was a Diamonette (so was Liz), so maybe Journey will want to be one someday. She has a matching hair bow. Not shown in this pic is her corsage - too cute! I didn't go to the game (if it involves sports, I'm not interested), but I hear tell that Journey was passed around like a football, so I probably wouldn't have been able to hold her if I had gone.
i

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bathing Beauty

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Savanah Smiles (that was a movie wasn't it?)





Happy Birthday Liz!

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Sisters make Salsa


During the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Caroline, Stephanie and Caroline's friend Jackie came to make a couple batches of salsa. They each took a case home. We made up some cute labels for the jars. Labels seem like an extravagance, but they're so easy to make, look cute, and save you from wondering what in the world is in the jar and when did I make it. I have some jalapenos in the pantry that I put up last year and it's a guessing game every time I open a jar cause I don't know if they're pickled jalapenos or Cowboy Candy jalapenos cause I was in a big hurry and didn't label them.

Grape Stompin'


After working at a winery for almost 10 years, Marc's not too keen on picking or pressing any more grapes. He has a few wine grape plants scattered around and they're ready to pick. He initially planted 60 when we first bought the property, but wild hogs rooted most of them up before we moved out here. We have a bumper crop of wild Muscadine grapes this year too. They're not planted in civilized rows with manicured aisles between, they grow on trees, fence lines, etc. You have to watch for spiders, wasps, snakes etc., when picking them, and I don't like wild critters at all.
I remember when I was a teenager, Dana made some homemade wine. All I remember is that she put it in a crock in the pantry and must have used a lot of sugar, cause it was sweet. (I dipped a few sips out of the crock).

I would like to try making some home made wine, but don't really have all the equipment yet, so I guess I'll have to wait till next summer. Meanwhile, I'm juicing grapes for jelly, syrup and maybe even just to drink.

I pulled out my trusty Roma Food Mill and inserted the grape spiral and started cranking. It was incredibly easy (Sidebar: I am not getting paid by Lehman's to advertise, but I have to say, this is well worth the price. You can get the basic food mill and all extras for about $75. It saves unbelieveable amounts of time and work) The skins and seeds went out one side and the juice and pulp the other. I ran the skins through again just to be sure I got all the juice. So far I have 1-1/2 gallons of juice in the freezer.

Journey's Special Christening Gown


the little angel

Stephanie was shocked when I suggested making Journey's christening gown out of her wedding gown. I had to talk her into it really. But when she saw her little angel in the dress she had worn exactly 6 years and 1 day before, tears came to her eyes.



wedding gown


Stephanie's dress featured an A-line skirt with corset back. It was a beautiful dress, but there wasn't a lot of fabric in perfect condition to work with. Imagine how hard it was for me to cut into after spending $$$ on it!! As I started to take it apart I was surprised to find that the entire dress was completely lined with self fabric! Then there was an interlining. I quit counting the boning strips at 40. I'm sure it was quite hot and heavy to wear.



bodice construction


As I looked at the back of the dress, with the loops for the corset ties sewn in place, I wondered how I could use them in the christening gown. The picture above shows my pattern piece laid over the two back sides of the of the dress. The loops are forming a "V" shape on the bodice front. In the center I placed the "modesty panel" from the back of the gown (which was already finished!) and after stitching them all together, cut my bodice front. Perfect!! The wedding gown featured a beautiful silvery-bronze embroidery with Swarovski crystals, bugle beads and sequins. With all of that going on, the christening gown didn't really need any embellishments. I made simple puff sleeves with entredeaux and lace and silk satin ribbon to gather. The wedding gown had no lace at all, so I did purchase the entredeaux, lace, and ribbon (and cheated a little by buying satin covered buttons). Otherwise, the entire christening gown was made from the wedding gown.


Because the wedding gown was A-line, I had to cut the christening gown skirt in panels (3 for front and 3 for back), and add a hem band at the bottom, to get enough fabric. I do have enough scraps left over to make a little boy's outfit if needed in the future.


The bodice of the gown was so detailed and beautiful. I was able to make darts to use the entire bodice as Journey's bonnet.


The gown featured embroidery on one side, just below waist pleats. I used that flourish of embroidery to cut little slippers for Journey. I used a scallop embroidery stitch on the machine to finish all edges and added silk satin ribbon to tie. I embroidered the soles of the little shoes with her name and date of baptism.



sleeve detail


bodice details

Baby Boy Christening Outfit



Journey's cousin Kaden was baptized not long after Journey. Kaden's mom, Brandy, asked me to make him a christening outfit using her wedding gown. I have never made boy's clothes before! It was hard to do because I couldn't add a bunch of lace, ruffles, etc.! Brandy asked me to incorporate some of the lace from her dress as well as something blue.

Her dress had a chapel length train that was completely re-embroidered scalloped lace. I hope they have a girl next and ask me to make a dress for her, because it will be beautiful!! I used some tiny lace medallions with some seed pearls and appliqued them to the collar of the outift. I used blue silk ribbon for the bonnet/cap ties and added some of the seed pearls to the ties. The entire outfit, including the lining, was made from Mom's wedding dress. It turned out pretty, if I may say that about a boy's outfit.

I can't think of a better way to make use of a wedding gown. You could save it and hope that your daughter would wear it, but styles change, and the likelihood of its being used as a wedding dress again is slim. A christening outfit is special, but making it from mom's wedding gown really makes it an heirloom.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Swimsuit for Journey



In the recent "Blue" issue of Sew Beautiful magazine there was a little gingham two-piece swimsuit featured, including a free pattern. I knew it would be adorable on Journey.
I had a piece of turquoise seersucker that I'd been saving for a while. I had enough to make the swim suit as well as a hat. The suits in the magazine and the ones featured on the Sew Beautiful blog all had monograms on the bodice. While I love monograms, I wanted something fun and playful. I found a seahorse on the Embroidery Library website (http://www.emblibrary.com/). I'm on their email list and one of the latest emails was all about 'beachy' patterns. Here's a close up of the seahorse:


I love the combination of turquosise and lime green and naturally Journey needed hot pink, so I combined all those colors on the seahorse.
I needed lime green Ric Rac and guess what - the only store that carried it was Buttons 'n' Bows in Houston! I bought all they had. I looked at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, a quilt store, even JoAnn's!! How frustrating! Buttons 'n' Bows has a lot of nice things, but they're not exactly close to me! I guess I need to plan ahead and order everything online from now on. . .

I changed the pattern/design just a little bit. I tapered the ends of the lower bodice ruffle to match the upper ruffle and I made two ruffles for the the pants, each open to the sides, instead of one that opens to the back. I found that the directions in the magazine were kind of vague, so if you decide to sew it, be sure to read it thoroughly. You have to know how to construct a garment before tackling this, since the instructions are so skimpy. All in all, I really liked the way it turned out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Diaper Wars"

I watched Nightline the other night and one of the stories was on the "diaper wars" between big diaper companies trying to get the largest share of the market. The reporter stated that some parents had posted on facebook that their babies developed a rash or irritation from the new Pampers DryMax. Pampers spokeswoman said she was "surprised" to hear this claim and they chalked it up to "advocates of cloth diapers" spreading rumors. I thought it was interesting. I'd heard that to make disposable diapers more absorbent they were adding gels and fibers (not natural) that may or may not be a health risk in the long run. Of course, not having a baby in the house, I'm not too concerned about it, right?
So the next night Journey was visiting at her great grandma's and needed a diaper change. Rather than run home and get a cloth diaper, Stephanie borrowed one from her sister in law. Journey wore ONE disposable diaper for only a few hours. The next morning it appeared that she was burned. She cried and cried. The Dr. looked at it today and said it was in fact a chemical burn caused by the diaper.
Nevermind that landfills are brimming with plastic diapers that will never disintegrate, or that they cost way more to use, but how about the fact that the disposable diapers can be harmful to your baby??
When Stephanie was a baby I used cloth diapers. I remember being excited about "prefolds", which people now use to make burp cloths. Back in The Day you had a large square of birdseye and you had to fold it every which way to fit your baby and then use diaper pins (scary!). So the prefolds eliminated a lot of that work and I found some little clippy things that eliminated in the pins. I also used liners so I didn't have to rinse a poopy diaper in the toilet (disgusting).
But now, with extra absorbent FITTED diapers and cute covers, why would anyone use disposables? With enzyme sprays, you don't even use a diaper pail with water. There lots of websites that discuss how to use cloth diapers, the different styles, and the cost comparisons. It just seems SMART to use them nowadays.
Here's a link to the Nightline story:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Journey's New Diaper Covers

Journey is wearing bigger diapers now and needed some new covers. Making waterproof diaper covers is fast and fun.


The bumble bee cover is cute, but I love the cheetah one!! The purple one is for Ava, Jackie's baby. It's a size small I think. The others are size medium.

Here's Journey modeling them for us:


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Farmers Market

Here's a pic of Marc helping customers at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market in Houston. We go every other weekend to sell extra veggies and eggs. We had watermelon, cantaloupe, squash zucchini, tomatoes (3 varieties), bell peppers, seedless cucumbers and duck and chicken eggs. The crowd wasn't quite as large as other weekends so we ended up taking home a lot of tomatoes, which is ok, cause I need to can more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Remember when I said I wanted enuf Salsa to last the whole year, and how I wanted to try to produce all the tomato products we needed? Well, I have 62 jars of Salsa so far, so I'm pretty good on that, and have about 42 jars of tomato sauce, so next will be stewed tomatoes. Last night I made Salsa Verde (green that is) from Yellow Pear Tomatoes. I thought it would end up yellow, but apparently the color is in the skin, which is discarded when making salsa. This was SO easy - no coring or chopping - just drop them in the hopper and grind away.

SO, this is what I saw when I walked in the door tonight. All I could say was OMG. Mary came over, walked in and said OMG. Seriously, have you ever seen so many tomatoes from ONE picking???




Sunday, June 13, 2010

Journey's Baptism


Sweet little Journey was baptized today at the First Presbyterian Church.

Mommy & Daddy celebrated their 6th anniversary yesterday. They were married in the same church. Journey's dress is made out of Mommy's wedding dress (which I'll describe in another post).


Journey's Godparents, Evin & Jason Coad, came all the way from Georgia with their little boy, RJ.




Mrs. Paiyou made a cake for Journey. The first layer is Italian Cream Cake. The top layer (the cross) is Vanilla with Raspberry filling.

Aunt Caroline made all the food, including a beautiful watermelon cut in the shape of a basket, fillled with fruit salad.











Monday, June 7, 2010

Salsa!

Last year our tomato crop was sad (due to various operator errors...) and we had about enough tomatoes for a couple batches of salsa. We rationed it for as long as we could. It was a sad day when we ran out.

This year I stood in the garden after pulling a turnip and vowed, as God is my witness, I WILL have salsa this year!

Seriously though, my goal is to grow and preserve EVERY tomato product we will use for the next 12 months. Tall order? Yeah, maybe. I've never made tomato paste - not sure if it's even feasible at home. So maybe I won't try that one. But I refuse to pay $1.00+ for even one can of tomatoes this year.
Marc is even on board with making home made ketchup. He's never tried home made ketchup before. He likes all things pre-prepared - Heat & Eat. He probably won't like home made ketchup. I made it once years ago and while good, it's not as smooth as store bought.

I made the first batch of Salsa last night. It took about 3 hours from start to finish, which is pretty good. The OLD method involved scalding tomatoes, peeling and coring them while still hot (ouch), then chopping in the food processor. What a mess!!

I have a gizmo called a Roma Food Strainer & Sauce Maker. I bought this from Lehman's online. (I had one many years ago that I got with S&H Green Stamps!! I guess I sold it in a yard sale somewhere along the way). Anyway, it looks somewhat like a meat chopper. It has a big bowl that holds the food, a handle that you crank and an auger kinda like a meat chopper. But instead of knife blades, it has cone shaped "screens" that the food travels through. Here's the cool part: the good stuff (pulp) comes out one end and the stuff you don't want (peel, seeds) goes out another. No peeling tomatoes!!! It's super easy to use, you just cut up the tomatoes and throw them in. No cooking or peeling!


Roma Food Mill

The Roma can be purchased with various screens - at an additional charge of course. It comes with the basic puree screen. I've used this to make tomato sauce and "apple" sauce (from pears). The additional screens are: grape, berry (it takes those pesky little seeds out of dewberries!!), pumpkin and Salsa. Pumpkin works for other large seeded things like butternut squash.


Close up view of the soon-to-be-Salsa

The Salsa recipe I used came from Mary who got it from Haven Wisnoski. It's really good. Here's Haven's recipe:

  • 1 1/2 Gallons chopped tomatoes (liquid drained)
  • 3 large chopped onions
  • 8 bell peppers/poblanos chopped
  • 1 quart jalapenos chopped (I don't seed all of them)
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. veg. oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
Put all ingredients in a large pot- bring to a rolling boil- turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Put in sterile jars and seal makes approx. 17 pints

That's a lot-a Salsa!

I increased the vinegar to 1-1/2 cupes and processed the jars in a water-bath canner for 15 minutes. All of the veggies were grown in our garden.

The finished Salsa

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Prune Pop Anyone?


Journey's chillin' again - this time in her own little pool. What's she snacking on? A home made Prune Pop, made from prune juice.

Yum-O