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 :)