Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Ultimate Homemade Adventure

I have to say that having a baby is the ultimate homemade adventure. It has been a little bit crazy and different, but in a really good way.  Little Charlotte is now just over a week old and is kind of amazing.  She eats and sleeps like a champ, and has already surpassed her birth weight. 

Since she's been born, I've had family here to celebrate Christmas and hosted my book club Christmas party.  Both were amazing.  I loved having my family here and wished they could have stayed much longer.  As it was we were contented with a spectacular Christmas feast, including my first turkey (and the most delicious turkey recipe I've ever had!).  And while I did the menu planning it was truly a whole family affair to get it on the table.

Our holiday table included a salad with pears, dried cherries and goat cheese.  The Bourbon Roasted turkey followed with apple-cranberry stuffing, and Sweet Potato Casserole, plus a pecan pie for dessert.  The recipe for the turkey came from the November 2011 Country Living magazine, and while the recipe is not on their website any longer, some dear soul has posted the recipe here Maple Bourbon Roasted Turkey.  This is seriously the most delicious turkey I've ever had, and the gravy is spectacular (and I even normally hate gravy).

So far, being a mommy is the best homemade adventure ever.  I think Miss Charlotte and I have lots of cooking, baking and crafting ahead in our future!

Welcome to my homemade life Charlotte!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Merry

Even though it feels too early to me to be thinking about Christmas, I feel like this year (because of baby) I have kind of had to.  I've done a little Christmas shopping, which feels really wrong since I've always been so adamant about not starting until after Thanksgiving.  The past couple of years I have made Christmas presents, and I loved it.  It's fun for me to make them, and fun to give people handmade, one of a kind items as well.  I didn't feel like I could commit to that this year though--what if baby comes and I don't get it all done?!?!  So, I am doing store bought presents, but in order to keep up the craftiness, I have done a couple small Christmas sewing projects.

My family has the tradition of filling eat other's stockings (you get a big present and a stocking stuffer from each person).  So, when I was in high school, my mom made pretty, quilted stockings for our family.  Then, as we've added more family members with me and my sister's husbands, we've made stockings for them as well.  This year, we'll have two little babies for Christmas, so it felt right to make them stockings as well.  They really are a quick and easy project.  I drew my own pattern and then used this tutorial to figure out how to put it together.  They really only took me about 45 minutes each. 

The one on the left is for my nephew and the one on the right is for Baby B.  I just did a little big of quilting on each one, and you really only have to do it on the front of the stocking.  I did both sides on Baby B's and it actually makes the stocking a little thick and hard to get things in and out of with all the fabric layers.  Oh, well.

I also had picked up a piece of flannel after the Christmas season last year.  I don't know what I thought I'd make out of it at the time since I bought about 4 yards of fabric, but it was cheap and I tucked it away.  As I was looking through my fabric bin last Friday, I decided that the flannel with it's cheery holly and red-striped print would make really cute flannel lounge pants.  So, I made a pair for myself.   Then, because there was still fabric left over, I decided to make a little pair for Baby B as well.  I used a basic unisex pattern from Simplicity for my pants (Lounge Pant Pattern--except not the plus size pattern, since this pattern runs HUGE!  I didn't see the regular one on their website though.)  For baby's pants, I used this adorable pattern from Jackie Clark called Britches and Bloomers.  Both patterns are super easy and only took about an hour each to make (if that.)  Check 'em out:

Here's a better picture of baby's pants.  I am thinking that I may be able to make a little embellished onesie to go with them. This is the backside with it's cute pockets.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At Home Photo Shoot

It's kind of amazing what you can accomplish with a friend who has a nice camera and a little pretty scenery around your house.  I wanted to create a photo shoot to record the last days of my pregnant belly--we did our shoot at 36 weeks.  Our original plan had been to go our to an apple orchard and take advantage of the scenery there, but with limited time we decided to just make use of the area around our house. 

Putting together the photo shoot wasn't difficult.  If you have a decent eye for spacial reasoning, color and design (which most crafty types do) you can come up with some clever shots on your own--or simply search the Internet for "maternity images" and you can see all kinds of ideas.

Here are the props that we used:
  • Our countdown chalk board (which usually hangs in our dining room)
  • A pumpkin
  • A antique quilt
  • A mum
That's it.  Then, of course we had a couple of different clothing options, because it makes you feel like a model.  I think it felt a lot like our engagement photo shoot, except with a lot more focus on my belly.  We wanted to look comfortable, happy, and excited.  I think that comes through in the photos.  Check out the results:

This one was taken on our front porch. 

I had found the inspiration for this photo online.  In the photo I found the couple was using a soccer ball, but I thought that being the day before Halloween and that our baby is a fall baby, the pumpkin was cute.

You'd never guess, but many of these shots are taken in a tiny corner of what would be considered our back yard.  Our house actually backs up to a parking lot, and so we have only a 20'x20' space that borders a marsh that would be considered our 'yard', however, with the trees, leaves, and tall grasses, it make a great background.

I had my sister do just a little bit of photo editing on the first shot in the blog...Our day was very cloudy and we didn't really have great light for the shoot, but after she did a little color correcting and added some more shadows, it almost looks like it was sunny!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cozy, wee things

A few weeks ago, I picked up a pattern to make a sweet little baby bunting.  With all of the super cute polar fleece available, I thought it was worth a shot--even though sewing clothing is not my strength.  However, with this super easy pattern and a couple of hours to work, I managed to produce a darling little bunting that will surely keep my little baby warm this winter!

This pattern was even more simple than I thought it would be.  I have very limited experience with putting in zippers, and even that was a piece of cake.  The hardest part was actually the hat!

Also, if you are craving some cozy, yummy fall foods, have I got a couple of links for you.  Below are a couple of my favorite fall recipes that I've compiled from other blogs.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Crumble
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Chipotle Chocolate Chili

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homemade Baby Room

Over the last couple of months, I have been busy creating the things that decorate my little baby's new home.  It's almost ready for her to arrive (just a few more things to get) and I can't wait to see the space I've created in use. I thought I would share some photos of what I've been making.

As you enter the nursery to your right is my rocker and reading area.  The walls are a very light yellow (Behr Premium in "Cream Puff"), which my dear father-in-law painted for us a couple of months ago.  I pieced the quilt and recovered the cushions on the glider and ottoman.

Also, on this side of the nursery is this lovely Ikea cabinet (love, love, love it!) for books and storage.  On the walls are a couple of nursery rhyme prints.

In the corner we have our crib.  I made the smaller crib quilt, and the organizer on the end of the crib.  I also made the artwork which features teddy bear and kitty paper dolls that I had as a kid.

By the crib we also have this awesome golden moon hanging, which was in my room at home when I was a teenager.

We also have  a red dresser from Ikea for our changing table, and above it is artwork that I created out of paper dolls that are little mice (they are one of my favorite paper dolls ever--so cute!)

The artwork was simple to make with Ikea frames (they come with mats) and fabric in the back ground and then the table with the lamp was also one that I've had for years, and just dressed up the shade a little by adding ribbon, rickrack, buttons and the pre-pleated eyelet lace.

The little coat rack in the corner was given to me by Jane, and it was hers when she was a little girl.  I also made this stuffed owl for baby girl from a pattern I found at Heavenly Patchwork in Waconia.  Such a great pattern--simple directions and fun to make in a couple of hours.

One of my favorite things in baby's room is a stuffed animal that I picked up at the Handmade Market at the Creative Connection Event last weekend.  I must have went back to the booth 3 times before just buying it.  Turns out, the woman who creates them is from Northfield, Minnesota.  She was so friendly and her animals are so sweet.  Her blog is Little Big Pants and you can see some of her creations there.  I bought this gal.

She is a marsupial bunny named Amelie (she came with the name).  Her baby didn't have a name, so I named him Francois.  He comes out of her little pocket.  Amelie is super cuddly and I like to sit in the glider and hold her while I read stories to the baby.  My husband thinks it's kind of silly that I read stories to the bunny baby.  Last night we read the "Little Miss Austen" book Pride & Prejudice, which might be the most adorable baby book ever.  You can check it out here Little Miss Austen Pride & Prejudice.

I'm so in love with this room.  I can't wait for baby to move in!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stocking Up for Winter

A new tradition for Jane and I is to can tomatoes in August.  Last year we did a 1/2 bushel, which gave us each about 9 pints to enjoy in soups and pasta throughout the winter.  The only problem was that the 9 pints only made it until about December--that left us with a lot of winter where we didn't have our own little jars of summer left to use.
So, this year, we decided to do double the amount we did last year--a whole bushel.  We ended up with 33 pints this time, which probably still won't get us all the way through winter, but hopefully at least until February.

The tomatoes we had this year were fairly small and round.  They also weren't quite as ripe as we would have liked (it make peeling them more difficult.)  These were from the Minneapolis Farmer's Market.

Jane bought our tomatoes at the Minneapolis farmers market.
I don't know how many times we filled and refilled the giant bowls with the cut tomatoes.  It seemed like so many when we were doing it! 

A big bowl of peeled and cut tomatoes.
 To peel the tomatoes, you first have to dip them in boiling water, and then immerse them in ice water and in theory the peel slide right off.  It worked most of the time.

One of the things that I admire about women years ago who canned a lot is that tomatoes are ready at the hottest time of year and with all the boiling of water it takes to prep them and can them, the kitchen gets really hot. Those women did all of this hot work in non-air conditioned environments.  It is very long hot work!  I also can't figure out how they decided how much they needed to do.  Jane and I kind of just pick an amount and know that if we run out, we can always just pick some up at the store.

Here I am with some of our bounty. I can't wait to use these in my favorite recipes--especially in the Butternut Squash Crumble.  Oh, baby, does it taste like fall!

Me with my baby belly and a about half of the job done.

Up close with the tomatoes


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pizza Night at Two Ponies Gardens

One of my all-time favorite, under the radar places is Two Ponies Gardens located just a few miles from my home.  I stumbled across this gorgeous little hideaway last summer when I was looking for service projects for the students at work.  I've taken students there to volunteer a couple of times, but even better is that I love going out and enjoying the events! I've attended their Dahlia Open House and attended a Harvest Dinner last fall (one of the most Martha Stewart worthy moments of my life.) 
Last summer they were in the process of building a wood-burning brick oven at the farm.  Siri and Lisa (the two awesome women who run the farm) were hoping that once it was done they'd be able to have pizza nights at the farm.
Well, the oven is done and pizza night is awesome.  My husband and I attended along with my friend Heidi.  It was a fun night.

The menu---we brought our own drinks and cupcakes (which is allowed!)
The front pizza was the basil, tomato and mozzarella pizza.  The back one was the prosciutto, pesto and chevre.  Both were DELICIOUS!

The pizza makers rolling out the crust (the oven is that stone thing in the background.)

Heidi and I looking hot.  Because we were sweltering and melting (it was probably 90 degrees that night.)

Wanna check out other events at Two Ponies?  Check out their website.  Two Ponies Garden Website

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Really? It's been that long?!

So, I know that I am waaaay behind in writing and it is combination of things that has kept me from being really present here.  I didn't realize until just now that it had been almost two months though!  Argh!  I'm sorry, dear readers.  Some of the reasons (not to justify, but more to explain):
  • No batteries for the camera...easily remedied, but forgotten about many times until yesterday.  No camera, no pictures.  No pictures in my mind means really boring blog.
  • Baby Berger mania.  Yes, my husband and I are expecting a baby in November.  Not that I have been consumed with getting ready for it.  Yet.  It's just that in my free time I would rather pour over my book "Bring Back Beatrice" (fun little baby name book) rather than sit down and blog.
  • Planning, prepping and pulling off The Soul Sisterhood Retreat.  A rather momentous week, all fabulous and fun, but a ton of work.  I kind of felt like I'd been hit by a truck when it was all over and it took me a week to recover.
  • Just life in general...summer seems to be whizzing by and I'm wondering where all the time has gone.
  • And although I am really happy and excited about life right now, I just haven't felt very interesting.  I've been crafting, but not ready to post about.  Cooking, but nothing really new or different.  Dreaming, but not ready to share yet. ;-)
So, lame-o excuses out of the way, I think perhaps I've come across the perfect summer project for my blog.  I've been reading a glorious book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp and it is so inspiring.  Basically, the premise is to find, record, and delight in one thousand things that you love.

One Thousand Gifts

It is an exercise in cultivating gratitude and a recognizing all of God's grace and glory made present in our world.  My friend Becca, is doing the One Thousand Gifts challenge this summer on her blog (  I want to try this out too.  It will probably take longer than summer, but it is something fun to try!  I don't have a plan for how often I want to post, but I plan to use this as my place to record my one thousand things.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crafty Day

Lindsey working on her rolled fabric flowers for our last Crafty Day in April.
 Once a month, I get together with a group of fun women to craft.  It's sort of like a book club, but we make stuff instead.  In fact, we have Crafty Day on Saturday, so I thought it would be fun to talk about some of our past Crafty Days. 

The quilted tablerunner, from February 2011.

It started out with just Melanie and I, and then other people have joined us.  We've done several fun projects as well--sewing Christmas presents, working on quilts, making a table runner, a spring wreath, and this month, we're going to tackle mosaic flower pots.
We typically pick a Saturday morning and then someone hosts (providing both the craft idea and lunch) and we meet at their house to work.  Some Crafty Days have lasted all day, while others have just been a couple of hours.  The food is always delicious and the conversation is great too.  The worst Crafty Day for me was the one where I remembered to bring every supply except my sewing machine...for making a quilted table runner.  Luckily, Kara was gracious enough to share with me that day!

Our finished April project--the rolled fabric flowers were fun and easy to make.
It's such a perfect excuse to get together with friends and be creative--plus it makes you try new projects and learn new creative techniques.  Most of our ideas come off of various blogs and websites, but it doesn't even have to be as complicated as some of these.  (Honestly, the wreath with the rolled fabric flowers was the first project I've ever accomplished during Crafty Day--I usually have to finish it up at home!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Easter Babies

Little Hank and I bonded.  It turns out that he is a fan of Mumford and Sons, too.

Just 3 weeks ago, my sister gave birth to a wonderful little guy named Henry Joseph and I've been dying to see him in person, so when we had a long Easter weekend, we decided to spend it in Peoria.  I loved spending Easter with my new nephew, Hank.  He is so small and sweet, but he has giant loud farts.  It's hilarious!  Hank tolerated having house guests very well and I'm hoping he'll let us come visit again.

It is amazing to see how much stuff one little baby has.  And especially the fact that right now, he really doesn't use any of it.  He's too small to appreciate all the stuffed animals and books (I read him stories anyway.)  It is also crazy how when you see baby clothes at the store, they look so tiny and then once you put them on the baby, he still has room to grow.  It's a little staggering, really, to think we all start out that small!

Hank wasn't the only baby to be celebrated on Easter.  My friend Elizabeth had her baby, Easton, that day.  I can't wait to meet him, but he was a little early so he has to stay in the NICU for a little bit.  It's a lot of fun all these babies in my world right now...not to mentioned that there are still 15 more to come from other friends yet this year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring on the Inside

The view from my kitchen this morning.
Well, it's a gorgeous spring day in Minnesota.  As one of my girls put it at Girls Group Monday night, "If Mother Nature was a real person, someone would have murdered her by now."  I think we are all sort of feeling that way.  But, I guess if we can't have spring outside, then the next best thing is spring on the inside--and it was definitely spring at our fundraiser for the Soul Sisterhood Retreat this weekend!

We had a sunny, although chilly, day for our fundraiser, but it was warm and fun inside.  We had a silent auction, bake sale, raffle, dessert buffet and a great speaker, Jessica Zuehlke.  Sixty-four people attended, and $2500 was raised to support our summer camp for girls.  It was wonderful.  Here's some of the highlights:

Our dessert buffet included cheesecake, peach cobbler, angel food cupcakes, Oreo truffles, lemon bars, raspberry bars, Oreo cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcakes, brownie pops, Raspberry Truffle cups, and yogurt parfaits. Oh, and Chocolate covered strawberries.  There were probably other things as well, but I can't remember all of it.

We decorated the tables with vintage linens (from my personal collection), gorgeous clusters of daffodils, and we also gave each of the women who came a merit badge as a token of thanks for their support for the Soul Sisterhood Retreat.

The bake sale was not huge, but featured yummy goodies like banana bread and muffins, red velvet cheesecake brownies, lemon drop cookies, pumpkin bread, lemon poppyseed bread,  Raspberry bars and Oreo cupcakes.  (Some of the women brought home treats for their deserving husbands and children!)

These are some of the silent auction prizes.  The quilt on the left is the one that I made for the event.  It received many oooh's and ahhhh's.  We also had homemade soaps, jewelry, a garden basket and other great prizes.  Everyone was so generous with their talents!

These were a sampling of the raffle prizes too.  We had cookbooks, gift certificates and some more jewelry.

This was our speaker, Jessica Zuehlke, who along with her husband wrote the musical The Church Basement Ladies.  She was so funny, personable, and encouraging.  She talked about her creative process and her writing, and how she creates the characters and the settings and action in her work.  She really encouraged people to just try writing.  One of my middle school girls (who is a writer and actress) even wanted to follow up with Jessica for advice.

All in all it was a wonderful afternoon and everyone had a great time.  I have to admit though...I really don't want to spend any time in the kitchen right now. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Something Delicious This Way Comes...

So earlier this week I made one of my all time favorite recipes.  It's quick, easy, delicious, and really good for you.  So, without further ado:

Spicy Chicken Couscous

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
1 tbs. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 can (15.75 oz) Chicken broth
1 box (10 oz.) plain Couscous
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
1/3 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tbs. sliced almonds

The Ingredients
First, combine chicken and jerk seasoning in a Ziploc bag (or bowl) and toss until covered evenly in the seasoning. 

Coat the chicken evenly with the jerk seasoning.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 3 minutes. Just like this:

The chicken should be 3/4 of the way done before you add the broth.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add couscous, raisins, and cherries; stir well. 

The couscous cooks while the covered skillet rests for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine orange juice, and next 5 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a bowl.  Stir with a whisk.  Fluff couscous with a fork, pour orange juice mix over couscous and toss to combine.

My husband thought I should be in the picture.
Top with cilantro, green onions and almonds.  Enjoy!

I served it with asparagus. Yum!

So delicious!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Demonstration of Creative Prowess

Sorry, it's been a while.  I've been super distracted lately by too many fun things all at once.  It's a good problem to have, but the bad part is that I forget my camera a lot, so I can't share those fun things with you.  Anyway.

On Monday night I offered my girls group a Cake-boss style challenge.  Only they had to use play-doh.  It was a super fun, colorful, night with lots of creative, inedible goodies.  Here are some of the highlights:

These were the goodies that I made:  A chocolate covered strawberry, two truffles, and a frosted cookie.  They almost look good enough to eat!

One of the girls made a movie snacks themed cake.  These were the beginnings of the pieces she used to decorate it.  It had soda, popcorn, pretzels, cookies, dots, and so much more on it.  When we had our "show and tell" at the end of the night, it was clear who the cake boss was.  There was an audible gasp at the intricacy of her play-doh cake.

A towering creation...we used the play-doh cake maker kit (in Target's toy department) and it had tons of fun features like cookie cutters, a cupcake base mold, little molds for roses, stars, and other things you'd use a specialty frosting tip for.  It even had a little squirting frosting bag!  It was awesome.

This is many of the girls hard at work on their "cakes."  We had a really good time being 5 again.  It really made me want to get out a coloring book and crayons too!