Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Baby Girl's Quilt

Every pretty baby girl needs a quilt. 

Baby Greta's quilt is based on this pattern... with just a few modifications (namely being about 6x bigger) I made the blocks as instructed, then sashed it with 3 1/2" strips all around. My very favorite part is the aqua binding...

Crib sheets are the simplest thing ever to make. Here are some very easy to follow instructions - and it makes the quilt seem extra special to have matching sheets! What I {L-O-V-E} about homemade sheets is that you can choose a fabric that is high quality and very very soft. Sometimes store bought crib sheets are like sandpaper... and what baby wants that?

(10 weeks!)

Greta loves her quilt!

<3 AmberLou

sharing at a few of these parties... :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Knights Who Say "Ee!"

Today is my kids' first Halloween ever. Really.

No, I'm not one of those people who hates Halloween, but every year from October 25th until November 5th, our family has gone camping, and so we've never bothered with Halloween. 

Kindergarten changes everything!

My son came home from Kindergarten in early October, and said "Hey Mom, there is this day, it's called Halloween, and you're supposed to dress up and people give you candy!" 

My response: "It must be a brand new holiday!"

So Eli told me he wanted to dress up as a knight. (Halloween is a foreign concept, dress up is not)

His tabard is 1 yard of muslin, cut in half and sewn into a long strip, with a hole cut for his head (edged in bias tape) and his personal "coat of arms" appliqued on the front. For his coat of arms, he wanted a dragon, a lion head, and a letter "E". After I made the uppercase "E", I was informed that it should have a lowercase "e" also. That is so Kindergarten!

He also has a belt and a "sword holder", sewn from red flannel, interfacing, and a couple of "D" rings. I bought a sword for $2.97 at Wal-Mart. The crowning glory of his Halloween costume is his shield. I drew a template for the shape, my husband cut two pieces of thin oak veneer and glued them together. I painted the coat of arms on the front and we stapled nylon webbing straps on the back. 
Easy peasy. 

He is in love. 

(some action shots...)

Iris was going to be a dragon, so Eli would have someone to fight, but when she saw his costume (the sword especially...) she wanted to be a knight as well. 

So she's the purple knight. 

Same concept, except that she is shorter, so I got away with using only a half yard of muslin for her tabard. Her coat of arms is a kitty, an iris, and an "Ii". She also wasn't interested in a shield, so we skipped that bit.

Baby Greta ended up being the ferocious cuddly dragon. I had a size 0-3 month fleece sweatsuit from Old Navy. I used a bit of red fleece and green felt to make the tail, ears and spikes, and some shimmery green scaly fabric from JoAnn for the belly. Red socks complete her scary adorable dragon costume! 

So having your first Halloween at age 5 is slightly hilarious. We went to a Trunk or Treat, and Eli went to the first car in the line, said "Trick or Treat!" as instructed, and got 3 pieces of candy. He was thrilled, and went to get back in the car. His eyes almost popped out when I told him that he could go get candy from EVERY car.  
We'll see what happens when we go Trick or Treating in our neighborhood tonight!


<3 AmberLou

Sunday, October 30, 2011

DIY Twix bars using homemade caramel!

I've recently started using Pinterest.com, which is a self-described online pin board. It's used to organize and catalog ideas you find on the internet. I'm pretty behind the times about such things, so you've all probably been using it for ever, but if you haven't you should check it out.

Anyway, I found a couple of recipes in the last few days that went together well and I decided to combine them.  First I found a recipe called better than Twix bars, which called for packaged caramels. I decided to make them Saturday for a pre-Halloween treat.  Then, I found a recipe for microwave caramels and decided to combine the two into one perfect concoction. They. Are. Amazing!
Here's the recipe I came up with:

Better Than Twix Bars

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Homemade caramel (recipe follows)
8 ounces milk chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable shortening, optional

Preheat oven to 300ยบ. Line 8 x 8 inch pan with nonstick foil or greased regular foil.

Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. Press evenly into pan...you may need to flour your fingers to prevent sticking. Prick crust with fork. Bake 35-45 minutes till crust is golden.

Immediately after removing crust from oven, run knife around edges to loosen crust. Cool.

Make caramel according to recipe below and pour over shortbread. Allow to cool for 30 minutes or so.

Gently melt chocolate in microwave or in double boiler over low heat. Add shortening or oil if too thick to pour. Pour over cooled caramel and spread to edges. Chill till chocolate is well set. Cut into squares to serve. Store covered in refrigerator, but remove a few minutes before serving.

Microwave Caramels (For an 1100 watt microwave oven)

1/2 cup butter (real butter, not margarine)
1/2 cup light Karo Syrup (don't use dark)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

  • Line either an 8 x 8 baking dish or a 9 x 5 loaf pan with foil. Butter the foil.--An 8 x 8-inch pan will give a thinner candy, 9 x 5-inch loaf pan will give a thicker candy.
  • Melt butter in large microwave bowl. (I used a glass bowl.)
  • Stir in Karo syrup, both sugars, and sweetened condensed milk.
  • Mix until most of the sugar is dissolved.
  • Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes (that's 3 minutes and 30 seconds)
  • Stir down and scrape sides of bowl.
  • Microwave on high 3 1/2 minutes. (This will be soft ball stage.)
  • Stir in vanilla and nuts (if you are using nuts).
  • Pour immediately into buttered dish (or over shortbread for Twix bars) and refrigerate until set.
If making traditional caramels: Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before cutting. The caramels can be left plain or decorated at this point by dipping them in chocolate and then in chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc. Wrap each piece in wax paper.

We really liked these. They were very, very chewy, especially until they warmed up a bit. We cut the first pieces as soon as we could get a knife in them, because we were impatient. Our teeth and jaws were sore and we feared for our fillings. But the next morning, they were much more manageable.

These will definitely have a regular spot in my Christmas goodie plates from now on.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Baby G's blessing gown

I've told how I learned to knit here. I love to make lovely things for my children and grandchildren. When my first grandson was born 5 years ago, I was only just beginning to knit, but he had a few sweaters and blankets that I'd made for him. Two summers ago, my daughter Amber was pregnant with her second child and she asked me to knit her a christening gown, in the hopes that her baby would be a girl. Then she told me to make 5 more christening gowns so that if I died before her siblings had children, she wouldn't have to share with them. Such a kidder, that Amber! Ha ha. (I'm pretty sure to this day that she wasn't kidding).

So I made a lovely little gown and baby girl "I" was born in February of 2010. She was oh so sweet in her little gown, but had a hard time expressing just how much she loved it.

The week that "baby I" was born, my older daughter had an ultrasound and learned that her first baby was a boy. I had 5 months to come up with a blessing suit for baby M who was born in July.
When Amber learned that baby #3 was another girl, she asked me to make another blessing gown for her. I wanted to make something a little more ambitious (because I have a bit more experience now). Amber selected this pattern and I was able to get a wonderful bamboo/silk blend yarn. Since I live in Hawaii, I buy most of my yarns online and I was slightly disappointed when the yarn arrived and it wasn't pure white, but a bit of an ivory. But the dress turned out so pretty, I wasn't disappointed long. I'll be going back to Hawaii before her blessing, so we had a little fashion show a bit early. Here is our newest family member, Baby G, modeling her gown.

And, of course, the outfit isn't complete without the shoes.

 I loved making this for my baby granddaughter! I imagined Amber saving the dress for G's daughter to wear in 25 years!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Creamy Pesto Shrimp Linguine

13 oz. box of linguine pasta
8 Tbls. butter, seperated
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 -5 sliced mushrooms
2 chopped green onions, optional
2 cups half and half, I used fat free
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pesto - Thanks Amber for the homemade!
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

~Cook linguine until al dente and drain.
~In a skillet, melt 2Tbls. butter and saute mushrooms. As soon as they are done, pour shrimp on top of mushrooms, remove from heat and cover with a lid. Set aside for now.

~In another skillet, melt the 6 Tbls. butter and saute minced garlic and green onions, then stir in half and half, season with pepper. Stirring constantly, cook about 6 minutes on medium heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and pesto, cook until thickened.
~Stir in the shrimp and mushrooms,the shrimp will be mostly pink from the steam of the mushrooms, but if not cook, (this will be only a minute or 2) until shrimp are all cooked through and pink. Spoon over the hot linguine. Sprinkle with a little fresh Parmesan and sea salt.

No picture of this because we are forgetful. But it is so good. I used whole wheat pasta and my teen-ager loved it despite it having additional fiber :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Arrival

You may have noticed how us posters here at Paisley are a little distracted with life and not too consistent at posting lately. Look and see what a beautiful distraction we have... Happy BIRTH-day to Amber's new daughter and Lorie's new granddaughter, Lil' Lady G! She weighed in at 7 lbs and 8oz. She was delivered at home and her and her mama are doing GREAT!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Homemade Sweet & Sour Sauce

When I was a girl, my mother frequently brought home Chinese takeout and my favorite was the sweet & sour pork. As a young wife and mother, I wanted to learn to make my own, and got this recipe from a friend many many years ago. It has become a family favorite of ours.

  •  1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 6 TBSP soy sauce
  • 3 clove minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
Mix brown sugar and corn starch in small sauce pan until well blended. Then add liquids and other ingredients. Heat until thick. Use for dipping egg rolls, won tons or chicken nuggets, or add pork or chicken and vegetables for a main dish.

Traditionally, sweet & sour pork is made with marinaded pork (Marinade raw pork chunks in garlic and soy sauce) drenched in corn starch and then deep fried. It's delicious if you want to go to all that work and have the extra calories. I've gotten lazy and more calorie conscious over the years, though, so I usually just use grilled chicken or slow cooked unseasoned pork, which is also very tasty. I like to add red and green bell peppers, onion chunks, carrots, celery and pineapple tidbits to my dish. Stir fry the vegetables in a bit of olive oil, add the cooked meat (I used pork here, but boneless grilled chicken works well too).

Then pour over the prepared sauce and serve over steamed white (or brown) rice.

I love this sauce! I've been using this recipe for over 20 years and have always had good results with it. As a bonus, it's much lower in sodium than bottled sauces and there's no MSG, for folks who are concerned about that.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raspberry Coconut Cookies

I tried a new cookie recipe from Taste of Home. They are so yummy. A little crunchy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. I made these with my homemade raspberry jam and they were a BIG hit!


1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam


In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, water and extract. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in coconut (dough will be sticky).
Set aside 2/3 cup dough; roll remaining dough into 1-in. balls. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a 3/8-in. deep indentation in the center of each ball. Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon jam. Cover jam with a teaspoonful of reserved dough; seal and reshape into a ball. Repeat.
Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.
Happy Baking

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2 Fat Quarters and an Old Shirt

I made these shorts in the same manner as the ones shown in a tutorial Here. They are an upcycled t-shirt! So easy when you use the t-shirt hem for the hem of the shorts, makes for a quick project.

Then I made a basic pillowcase dress or in this case a shorter version for a shirt like this One. I always make a few adjustments each time I make one, this time being no different, I wanted to share what I did.

Instead of the typical binding with bias tape (bought or homemade)to go around the armholes, I used the remaining hem of the t-shirt after making the shorts, it was the perfect length for this approx. size 3-4 shirt.

After sewing the front and backs together, I pressed open the seams and pinned the shirt hem along the arm hole, right sides together. Then stitched it up.

Then I pressed it and top stitched so the seam would lay flat and not rub little Misses underarm...
Then I folded over the top to make the casings on the front and back...

I have misplaced the ribbon I intended for the ties and am quite happy I did so. I really like the 1/4" drawstring I used instead. I knotted the drawstring over the shoulder rather than a bow and it worked great - no retying bows all day.

I think she is pretty happy to be wearing her new outfit...
or maybe the smiles are for the geese and ducks along the Snake River we went to feed.

This outfit is 3 fat quarters and an old t-shirt. I used a 3rd fat quarter as the binding, ties and hem. This was actually a dress 2 years ago and is now worn as a shirt with capri's made from an old t-shirt.

It's so great these little pillowcases dresses can 'grow' with our little girls. I love the Endless creativity and super cute girls!!
Happy sewing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Play dresses

Twenty years ago my little Amanda began her stage of refusing to wear pants. She only would wear dresses from age 3 until 1st grade. At times it was difficult with our cold Idaho weather, but warm jeans and leggings under dresses became a fashion statement at our house. I often resorted to making simple 'play dresses' for Amanda and now that she is a mother of a 3 year old herself, we have resorted to the apparent tradition of Play Dresses.

I have made these dresses for Miss H for holidays in the past...
here is the Halloween dress of 2009...

here is the autumn dress of 2010...

and more recently Fourth of July 2011.

Knowing Miss H would want to wear it everyday, I thought I had better throw a couple more together. I chose the t-shirt and she chose the fabric for the skirts. See how she is in love with The Princess and the Frog lately? By notice...I mean how dirty it is because she wore it 2 days before the yellow/pink one was finished.

All I do is get a t-shirt and 1/2 yard matching woven cotton (for size 3 - more for older girls - measure length you want and multiply by 2). I sew the 2 short ends together and then fold wrong sides together and so the rough edges are together then making the fold the hem - yay no hemming! I gather the two rough edges and sew to the bottom of the t-shirt. So easy to make a high waist or a drop waist dress. They can be embellished with ribbon, rick rack, buttons or flowers. Endless creativity! Just make it quick so the little Miss can phttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifut it on! Apparently they are super comfy, because my girls wear them out!

Also, this is a great way to reuse shirts that have stains on the lower half, as I am doing next.
Happy stitching!

I am sharing at these linkys. Thank you!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sew-Along Finalists

Hey everybody, Mz. I's outfit is one of the finalists in the Cottage Home Sew-Along Design Contest...

Voting ends tomorrow night - please go vote for me? Pretty please?

Go here to vote...


<3 AmberLou

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Idaho Staycations

My youngest son and I have talked about going on a vacation this year. However, with economic set backs in recent months I was leery about spending too much on a vacation. So we decided to have a few short trips in our surrounding Southern Idaho and get to know more about this great state!

My ancestry homesteaded in Star Valley, Wyoming area so the first staycation with Amanda and Miss H began there. Then last week, said son and I went to Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, ID. Having had a very wet spring has increased water flow to the highest level in 10 years. These pictures just don't do it justice.

Click on the picture to enlarge it...

Also near the falls is the Evel Knievel jump site - if you are old enough to remember his death defying jumps this may interest you. My teen-aged children have always found this intriguing - they are all boys!!

Some other great places to visit when coming to Idaho...

-Bear Lake - south of Montpelier
-National Oregon/California Trail Center at Montpelier
-Minnetonka Caves near St. Charles
-Mormon Tabernacle in Paris
-Geyser Park in Soda Springs (only captive Geyser in the world)
-Chesterfield Historic Town Site a restored town site from 1880.
-Mineral Hot Pools in Lava Hot Springs
-Fort Hall replica in Pocatello
-Bannock County Museum in Pocatello
-Idaho Natural History Museum at I.S.U in Pocatello
-Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum - Fort Hall
-Idaho Potato Expo in Blackfoot
-Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls (currently the BODIES exhibit is there)
-Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve near Arco
-Climb Borah Peak
-Ski Sun Valley, Targhee, Kelly Canyon, Pomerelle etc.
-Minidoka Internment National Monument (relocation site for interned Japanese)located between Twin Falls and Jerome.

There is also an abundance of fishing, camping, hiking, white water rafting and mountain biking places to visit. As a non-traditional student in college, I took an geology class that opened my eyes to the place I had lived for 30 years. There is a wealth of geologic treasures to be seen in Idaho. I think I am sounding like a PSA or a Chamber of Commerce ad - so I will leave it there. But...many of these places are just off the freeway and so easy to find. I look forward to a few more stops while going on our own staycations.

Leave me a message and tell me your favorite place to staycation near your hometown, I will put it on the list of places to visit!!
Happy exploring!

PS... A couple websites to visit...
Look for historical markers Here!