Monday, May 31, 2010

Aunt Jo's Diner

Saturday night we created our own burger joint - my sister Joanna likes to make her own french fries from scratch so I took pictures of her working and I am going to share them with you!  They take a little bit of work, but are so yummy and not that bad for you because they are baked.  You will need:
8-9 baking potatoes
4-5 tsp of canola or corn oil
salt and pepper or Cajun seasoning
paper towels
cutting board

The first step is to peel the potatoes.  BONUS tip:  When peeling potatoes or carrots, line a bowl with a plastic bag.  Let the peels fall into the bag as you peel, then when you are finished tie up the bag and throw away!  Sure beats leaning over the trash can for 20 minutes.

Next cut the potatoes into strips and let them dry on paper towels.  Here is how to cut them.
Cut in half

Turn one half cut side down - cut in half

Cut each of those pieces in half, turn those halves onto their side.

Cut into 1/2" strips- try to keep them all uniform, this will help them cook evenly.

Let them dry for about 10 minutes - patting with paper towels as needed.  The drying process helps them absorb the oil.

Now, put them all into a bowl and pour the oil over the fries.

Toss with a spoon to coat them well.

Lay them onto cookie sheets in a FLAT layer - they only brown when they are touching the pan.
Bake them in the oven at 450 for about 35 minutes, turning them over as needed so they will brown on all sides. 
When they are done, toss them with the seasoning in a bowl- serve up along side a big juicy burger and a diet coke- who needs to go out?
 Have a great Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are you stressed?

Currently, I am not.  But I know that it seems like EVERYBODY is stressed or tired or something.  Life is tricky- it takes a lot of concentration and energy.  Now ideally, we would all move out to the country, grow our own vegetables, ride our bicycles, and become yoga instructors.  However I know that may not work for some of here are my top 3 natural stress relievers.
Quick Fix:   Bach Flower Rescue Remedy - a blend of 5 flower essences that promote clarity, relieve stress, aid in coping with trauma, and quickly calm you down.  I love this stuff- I put four drops under my tongue and it works great.

Daily Dose:   Rhodiola Rosea- this is an adaptogenic herb that you can take every day.  It helps your body adapt to stressful conditions.  A great source of information on this herb is the book Rhodiola Revolution.

Long-term commitment:   Ultimately to reduce the stress and exhaustion in your life you must change your lifestyle.  A way to begin this journey is to exercise.  I love to do yoga.  I don't do it as often as I would like, but when I do it I feel so much better!  The website Yoga Today puts a free class on the web every week.  It's a great way to be a part of a class if you can't afford to go somewhere. 

So breathe deeply, drink a glass of water (and maybe a cup of coffee :), and try these tips next time you feel stressed.  Have a lovely day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to slice a mango

Mmmmmmmmmangoes :) Another lovely summer treat. Not just delicious- so good for you too! Did you know they contain:
  • phenols- antioxidants
  • high levels of iron
  • papain - a digestive aid
  • magnesium
  • potassium Yesterday we bought some at the store- 10 for $10. But, have you ever tried slicing a mango... and felt more like you were trying to wield a sharp knife around a wet piece of soap? Here is the solution for that problem. I once worked with a girl who grew up in Hawaii and this was her trick. Stand the mango up on the larger end (they have a slightly larger and smaller end- like an egg). The seed is in the middle running vertically. You will make two slices - one on each side of the mango seed. You end up with two little mango halves and the oval that contains the seed.Pick up one half and score a grid pattern into the fruit- first make vertical scores, then the horizontal ones. Don't cut all the way through the skin.Using a spoon, scoop out the little cubes that you have made, into a bowl. Easy breezy - you still have time to give yourself a pedicure before the company arrives :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Delicious summery cupcakes!

Tomorrow is my momma's birthday, so I am making some yummy Margarita Cupcakes to celebrate! I made these last year on her birthday and they turned out well, so we are making them again. You can find the recipe here, on Hostess with the Mostess. They are vegan (although I use butter and milk) and very easy to make (we also omit the tequila and they still taste lovely). Have fun! We're off to the beach today- can't wait for you to see the DIY tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

She sells seashells... - Free Pattern!

I am excited to say that I have my first free downloadable (is that a word?) pattern for you! Now, I know that this shirt is kind of if you have a boy, you could substitute the seashell for a cute crab or fish. Let's get started!

You will need:
A plain t-shirt that fits your little one: We bought this one at TJMaxx for $3 or $4.
A fun scrap of cotton fabric
A scrap of quilt batting
A fabric pen, or dressmaker's carbon paper
If doing the detailing by hand: embroidery floss, and embroidery needle
Or a machine that will do all of that for you :)
The free pattern

Print the pattern and cut out the seashell. Lay it on the cotton fabric and cut two seashells. Next cut one seashell out of the batting.

Make a little sandwich out of these pieces - fabric, batting, fabric. Pin them together. Trace the quilting design onto your fabric (the dotted lines on the pattern). Use your machine to "quilt" along these lines. You can use the regular stitch, just be sure all 3 layers are moving at the same time. Or, of course, you can hand quilt it. Some fun hand-quilting tips here.
Next, trace the words onto the shirt, using the carbon paper, or write your own using a fabric pen
Embroider the words.
Great embroidery tips here.

Place the seashell underneath the words. Use a blanket stitch, or a zig-zag stitch around the edge of the seashell to attach it to the t-shirt. Good job!

Now you have a fun new beachy t-shirt for your little one!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Skin Care

Today we are going to discuss skincare strategies for summertime and beach-going. Your skin is your largest organ and it is SO important to take care of it - and to put quality products on it, not products that will clog your pores. Since your skin is the first thing a massage therapist treats, it is important for us to know the proper products to use.

  • Exfoliating Sugar Scrub
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of jojoba oil, safflower oil, or in a pinch...light extra virgin olive oil
15-25 drops of essential oil, depending on your sensitivity to smell
lavender, chamomile, or peppermint would be nice
(Do NOT use citrus oils when you will be going out in the sun. They are
phototoxic, meaning they will cause your
skin to burn. The oils are designed to attract the sun to the citrus fruit, while
it is on the tree, to help it grow.)
I use sugar as opposed to salt, because then you can shave your legs and the salt won't sting your legs. Massage into skin in a circular motion while in the shower. Use caution as the oil may make your shower slippery.
  • Sunscreen:
My choices for sunscreen include:
Kiss My Face Sunscreen
California Baby No-Fragrance Sunblock Stick
Alba Botanical Kids Mineral Sunblock

  • Sunburn Soak
If you do happen to get a sunburn, this soak will help your skin heal overnight. Fill a bath tub with warm, not hot, water. Add 10-15 drops of Lavender essential oil(shocking right? ;). You can also add some oatmeal flour or use this oatmeal soak.
Lie in the tub and relax and let the lavender work it's magic.
  • Chamomile Tea Hair Rinse
Chamomile can condition hair and make the surface more shiny. Brew 1 tea bag for 10 minutes in very hot (just stopped boiling) water. Remove the tea bag and let it cool. When you are in the shower, pour it slowly over hair, starting at roots. Massage into scalp and hair and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse as usual.
  • Skin Repair Breakfast
These ingredients contain vitamins and minerals necessary for the skin to repair damage.

Yogurt Smoothie:
1 cup of lowfat vanilla yogurt - contains vitamin A, aids in healthy skin
1 cup of frozen berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries - contain antioxidants used to kill free radicals caused by sun damage
1 T. of flax seed - delivers essential fatty acids that help your skin produce good, moisturizing oils
(you may also sprinkle walnuts on the top of your smoothie once blended. They will do the same thing and are sometimes easier to find at the store.)

Blend all of these ingredients together and pour into a glass.
Pair with a toasted piece of whole wheat bread -contains selenium. Studies show that even skin damaged by the sun may suffer less consequences when high levels of selenium are present.

Enjoy your healthy glowing skin!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho, I cook, I clean, I sew...

Here's what I have done today...

Made homemade applesauce:
This is so easy and healthy for your family. Since you cook the apples with the skin on, you retain all of the nutrients in the whole apple. Charlotte would eat the whole batch by herself if I would let her. Here is what you will need:

1bag Macintosh apples
1/4-1/2 cup of organic raw sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Large pot

Let the apples soak in cold water for a few minutes, then scrub the skin.
Chop the apples into quarters, not worrying about the core or seeds. Place them in a large pot.Put about an inch of water -no more, because the apples have a lot of water in them already. Cover the pot and cook the apples on low for about an hour.
Ladle about half of the cooked apples into the ricer - situated over a bowl. Work the cooked apples until all you are left with is a small amount of skin and seeds in the ricer.Empty that into the garbage and do the other half the same way. Once you have all of the applesauce in the bowl, add the sugar and cinnamon. Start with a 1/4cup of sugar and add the cinnamon.Taste it and then add more sugar/cinnamon to taste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to eat it. We like to eat it cold.

Cleaned our wedding rings:
In honor of my little sister's 1st wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow)- we cleaned our wedding rings. Super easy. Pour a small amount of plain ammonia into a small bowl. Drop your rings in and let them soak for a few minutes.Take a cleaning toothbrush and VERY gently brush the rings. Rinse off in cool water(plug the sink so they don't go down the drain). Your diamonds will sparkle like the day you were married! Happy Anniversary Joanna and Matt!
(photo taken by the talented Laura Hinely -

Worked on my quilt:
My long term project is a queen sized quilt for our master bedroom. I am still in the piecing stage, but I am hoping to finish it while I am here at mom's. She has a quilting machine, and I am going to try my hand at machine quilting. I used 4 fabrics from Anna's Good Folks Collection, 1 fabric from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane, and 1 fabric, that I can't remember the name of right now.
Busy day - busy weekend ahead, but filled with fun! Get ready for next week- it's beach week on sewhomegrown!! We'll be talking about skincare, yummy beachy foods, quick beach blanket, and more!! have a great weekend

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

French Press Cozy Tutorial

This Mother's Day I made my momma a French Press Cozy. If you don't know, French Press is the most pure way to make coffee. You boil the water and pour it over the grounds in the press. Then you let it steep for 4 minutes, and then press the grounds to the bottom of the pot. The only problem is that it does not stay hot very long. Mom is always wrapping a dish towel around hers to keep it warm. So...I made this French Press cozy- taking the idea of a tea pot cozy and stretching it to fit this size pot. Here is the tutorial for you to make your own!

Step 1:
(These measurements are for a 4 cup french press-if yours is larger or smaller, simply measure the height and circumference(including the handle) of your press).

Cut out six rectangles. Two for the outer fabric - 9 1/2" x 11". Two for the lining fabric - 9 1/2"x 13". Two for the insulation fabric - I used terry cloth(which would be a great repurpose for an old towel), but you could also use batting. The insulation should be 9 1/2" x 12".

Step 2:
Now is the time to do any embroidery or decoration that you would like on the outside of the fabric. I embroidered the word, "Energize". If you are insecure about your handwriting, you can go here and find some great free fonts - print out the word you want to use and trace it onto the fabric.

Stitch the outer fabric to the lining fabric, right sides together, along the bottom edge.

Press the lining so that an inch of it shows below the outer fabric- to create the band at the bottom of the cozy. The top edge of the lining and outer fabric should now be aligned.

Step 5:
Insert the insulation material between the lining and outer fabric. Pin it well.

Step 6:
Pin the front and back pieces together along one side, right sides together. Wrap it around your press, and pin it to fit the shape of the press. You will create a dome shape with the pins. When you are satisfied with the shape, slip it off the press and lay it flat. Trim 1/2" larger than where your pins are. This will allow for a 1/2" seam.

Step 7:
In order to keep the insulation material from sliding, I hand-quilted the front piece, and tacked the back piece (because I was getting lazy...). You may choose any quilting pattern you like - I followed the diamond pattern that was in my fabric (which comes from Anna Maria's Good Folks collection).

Step 8:
You're almost done! Put front and back pieces right sides together. Stitch together, using a 1/2" seam. Turn it right sides out.

Step 9: I ran some thin ribbon through a needle and created the loop on the top of the cozy. You could also make a loop out of your fabric, and stitch it in when you stitch the seam.

Now make a lovely pot of coffee, get a cookie or two. Sit back, relax, and admire your work. Well done!