Wednesday, November 30, 2011

why i love pinterest: diy ruffled tree skirt

If you don't Pinterest, then you don't, uh, waste a whole lotta time.  But while hours can slip by while I peruse the goodness of Pinterest, I sometimes actually MAKE something I pin!  Which, if you are familiar with Pinterest, is a pretty awesome feeling.  Since I like to take full advantage of when my parents come and visit, I thought my mom and I could knock out a tree skirt I've been eyeing for a while.  Let me tell you, it was fun and pretty easy, especially if your mom helps.  And it turned out just as pretty as the original tutorial.
If you want one of your own, you'll need:

3-4 yards fabric of your choice
4 1/2' x 4 1/2' square of canvas
glue gun
one thousand glue sticks
sharp scissors
rotary cutter
yard stick

I chose to make mine colorful and fun rather than try for elegant since it was going in the family room.  These retro Santas really called to me.  I also picked up a cream fabric with gold sparkles for alternate rows.
Start by cutting your fabric into 3 inch strips.  Or around there.  You can use scissors, but that might take you forever.  You could also use your mom to rotary cut out the strips.  (thanks, mom!)
We cut up 4 yards of fabric, but had a lot left over.  So I would start with 2-3, and go from there. 

Now grab your canvas.  I used a painter's fabric dropcloth.  Cut out your 4 1/2' x 4 1/2' square.  Now fold into a fourth. 
And now fold that over one more time.
Now you want to cut a small hole at the tip (for going around the trunk).  I didn't get a shot of this, sorry.  Not sure how that happened.  And I was just going to cut a random curve at the bottom, but my mom got all fancy and mathy by using the yard stick and pencil to make a perfect circle.
She put the end of the yard stick at the point and put the pencil tip at one of the folded corners.  Then she pushed the yard stick with her pencil, keeping her pencil tip at the same measurement on the yard stick, and leaving a mark, all while holding down the other end of the yard stick at the point.
If that didn't make sense, call my mom.  Now cut along the line your mom just made for you.  Don't ask me why I'm cutting like my thumb is in traction. 
I also failed to get a picture of this, but you will need to cut an opening in your completed circle so you can actually put it around the base of the tree.  Unless you are planning on using it around a Festivus pole.  In which case you could just slide it on over.  Anyway, cut a straight line from your center hole all the way to the edge.  Now break out your glue gun and get ruffling!  Starting at the bottom of the skirt, make about a 6 inch line of glue, and then lay your fabric strips on top, pinching as you go.  You want to be pinching on top of your line of glue.
Go all the way around, leaving a bit of an edge to tuck over the end and glue down.
Now if you are using alternating fabrics, grab your other strips and start at the begining, a couple inches above your last row.
This was about the time mom abandoned me to help Fletcher make a tree skirt for his little tree.  No ruffles with his, just a lot of cars and felt balls.
Keep on ruffling until you reach your trunk hole.  Once I had my last little row put on, I glued under the canvas at the top to keep it from fraying.  On the original tutorial, they had you also glue on ribbon so you could tie it.  I didn't feel it was necessary, so I skipped it.  But go right ahead if you really want to glue some more! 
I think it turned out pretty cute. 
Be sure to by the glue sticks in bulk.  You'll go through a lot.  Be patient about the ruffling- it can take a bit to get into the swing of it.  You may also lose a few fingerprints if you aren't careful.  But hey, that might come in handy, right?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ihf- bust a gut

I didn't have a picture in mind until I snapped this shot tonight while Brian and Rowan were playing.  She loves the horsing around with her Papa.  I love watching them!

I'm slipping it in under the wire, but if you want to see more happy laughing faces, check out i heart faces!

Monday, November 28, 2011

tree hunting

 Brian loves a real tree for Christmas.  For me it just means more work with sweeping up dropped needles and keeping it watered, but whatever.  It's Christmas.  I guess I can give into this since it's only once a year.  So we went on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.
 There were a lot of gorgeous trees, and we kept finding great ones at every turn.  Rowan tested the needle strength.
 Look, Papa!  More trees!
 Every tree was perfect to Fletcher.
 Our failed attempt at a family picture.
Rowan gives good bottom lip.
 We found one and brought it home with us, and we're in the process of decorating it, along with the rest of the house.  Did I mention I'm hosting Brian's work party?  Because I'm insane, that's why.  So we're getting the house pretty for the upcoming party, thanks in huge part to my mom.  We brought home bough scraps from the fresh trees and mom and I wired together a beautiful garland for the front door.  I'll be posting pictures soon of the decorations.  Here's a sneak peek of our mantle.
After all the busy decorating all weekend, we wound down with a big bowl of popcorn and watched "The Polar Express."  It was so lovely watching these littles sharing their treat and watching the movie in rapt attention.
 Ok, maybe not rapt attention for Rowan.  This is what happened when I thought I could take empty Christmas crates back up to the attic while the littles were busy. 
Parenting fail.

Stay tuned for Christmas treats, projects, and decorations!  We're busy elves around here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

still stuffed

Yep, still stuffed from Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely day with a small portion of my mom's side of the family.  Of course since my mom is one of 8 siblings, a small portion on my mom's side is still 12 people.  Here's a little peek into our day.  Hope yours was filled with blessings, family, and good food!  Now I just have to work on all the Christmas boxes all over the house...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

baking beauties

My parents have been visiting, and we are gearing up to spend Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family in North Carolina.  We've been doing all sorts of baking and cooking, with the help from the littles, of course.
Did you notice our short sleeves?  I had to go digging for summer clothes.  It was 80 degrees yesterday.  Not exactly cookie baking weather, but oh well. 

The littles love to help.  Mostly because their Gigi lets them eat marshmallows and chocolate chips along the way.  But notice how Rowan is helping to read the recipe here.
Fletcher requested double chocolate cookies.  I have no idea where he gets his love for chocolate.  It's weird.
Rowan didn't have any special requests, other than asking to eat all the ingredients.  But she paid very close attention. 
And she even helped a little, too.
They filled up a new cookie jar, and made a pan of Hello Dolly's.
And I made a bourbon chocolate pecan pie.  Man, oh man.  Excuse me while I go let out my pants.
It's going to be a very tasty Thanksgiving, indeed.  And we might even make it through dinner before all the dessert.

I know that some of you have been wondering what happened to me asking Fletcher what he is thankful for every day.  Well, the truth is that I have been doing it, but his answers got a little less colorful.  There was few days of being thankful for "Food, again." This was followed by an immense growth spurt on his part.  Now all his pants are floods.  And then we had more of being thankful for "Mama and Papa."  Which is all great, just not very entertaining.  And then most days he would throw his arms out wide with his palms up and say he was thankful for "Everything!"  How can you argue with that?  He's a thankful boy.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and enjoy your friends and family. Eat tasty food, relax, and make new memories.  And maybe throw your arms out wide and thank God for "Everything!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the best sammich ever

In my humble opinion that is.  Fletcher calls them sangwiches.  It's pretty cute.  This is a relatively low-key recipe, and I make it when I don't feel like doing any real cooking.  Plus you can use up some of that left-over turkey later this week on it if you'd like!

For 2 servings, you'll need:
1/3 big loaf of soft bread
1/2 green pepper
1/2 onion
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 c white wine vinegar
about 20 green olives
1/2 c greek yogurt
6 slices salami
1/4 lb roast beef OR your choice of chicken, turkey, etc.
6 slices provolone (preferrably smoked)
1/4 c shredded parmesan
optional:  lettuce, tomatoes, mustard

It's kinda like a muffaletta, but I don't want to actually use that word because there are some people that would find that a sacrilege.  So I'll just call it a sammich. 

First slice your pepper and onion very thinly. 
Saute the p&o's in your olive oil. 
When they are starting to brown, you add in this tasty secret ingredient.
Pour it right in.  This takes sauteed p&o's into devine territory.  I throw into a lot of recipes, and now you will, too. 
Add ground pepper to taste.
Turn your heat down, and let the p&o's really carmelize in the vinegar, stirring often.  Until they look like this.
I've put these on the sammiches still warm, and I've also made them ahead and put them on cold.  Both ways are very tasty.  Now grab your olives and yogurt. 
You can sub in mayo or sour cream for the yogurt, but actually prefer this yogurt.  So creamy and good, and fat free!  It's my only contribution of being healthy to this sammich.  Now throw your olives and yogurt into a food processor/blender.  Do just a quick blend.  You don't want to completely obliterate the olive texture.
Take a spoon and take a big taste.  Yup, it's that good.  Okay, get your bread and cut off your preferred size.  I cut off about 1/4 of a big loaf for Brian's sammich.  And I do thick slices for meself. This bread did a great job of marketing to little old me, homesick for Chicago.
Anyway, like I said, cut off the amount you'd like, and then dig out a bit of the soft innards.  We don't have a dog anymore, but I had eager children waiting to eat the scraps.
You can almost hear her saying (in a cockney accent) "Please, sir, more bread?"  Ok, so dig out the bread a bit, and feed your begging dogs/children. 
Spread a good layer of the olive yogurt on each side.
Now add a stack of the p&o's on each side.
Add the cheese...
and the meats.
Sprinkle the parmesan on top of your meaty stack.  Heh.  Meaty stack.
Brian likes to add spicy brown mustard.  I don't like it on this sammich because I feel like it competes with the other strong flavors.  But whatever you like.
Now really press this sammich down.  For a real muffaletta, you wrap the whole shebang tightly in saran wrap and leave it be for a few hours.  But these aren't real muffalettas.  So I just press down really hard and call it a day.
For my own sammich, I really went of the muffaletta rails and used slices of the bread, and added tomatoes and lettuce.  Brian doesn't like vegetables to compete with his meaty stacked sammich, but since I'm a vegetarian, I have to add something.  It's still pretty tasty!
Eat it like a man, or cut it into managable pieces.
Open wide!