Sunday, December 19, 2010


I somehow got caught up in family, life and other things!  Hoping to post something new soon....maybe tonight after the midgets are tucked all snug in their beds!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 minute pillowcase tutorial.

Tea party pillowcase for my daughter (all fabrics are Michael Miller), Space pillowcase for one of my sons (can't remember the designer, I bought it on clearance a while ago)!

 Several years ago, my mom made my two boys pillowcases for Christmas, and then for Valentines day. They absolutely love having their own special pillowcases! It's so fun for them to pick out which one they want, and snuggle with it each night.

I'm making a tradition with this, and doing it each year.  This year, instead of doing them all the same, I picked out different fabric combos for each midget, and set to work.  The best part (aside from having something homemade) is that they only take 10 minutes (or less!) each! 

So, pick out some fabric, and add pillowcases to your to-do list. You can have fun, custom made presents for your kids, friends, nieces and me, they'll love them! (If you don't want to make them as gifts, make them for your bed with coordinating fabric!)

This is the way I made pillowcase dresses for my daughter this summer.  I just threw out the dress part, and kept the pillowcase part.  This is such a fun, easy way to make pillowcases.

Even if you think you can't sew: you can do this!  It literally takes sewing 3 straight lines--that's it!
Materials Needed
-3 coordinating fabrics
-sewing machine / thread  or serger  (I used a serger just to make the seams stronger)
-cutting mat, rotary cutter, etc.

-3/4 yard fabric (for the main part of the pillowcase body)
-1/3 yard fabric (for pillowcase cuff--I have also done this with 1/4 yard, but I like it a bit bigger, so I prefer 1/3 yard)
-about an 1/8 yard fabric (for trim)

Cut the fabrics to the following dimensions:
-MAIN BODY (3/4 yard): 27 x 42 inches
-CUFF (1/3 yard): 11 x 42 inches
-TRIM (1/8 yard): 2 x 42 inches

Now, let's get started!!

The 3 coordinating fabrics I chose. (Riley Blake--this line of fabric is SO cute!)

Cut all of your fabric according to the dimensions listed above.  This is the most time consuming part of this project!

Step 2:  Take your trim fabric (the 2 inch width piece) and fold it in half, right side out, and iron.  (My poor ironing board needs me to make it a new cover. It's been killed by steam-a-seam!)
 Step 3: Lay the CUFF fabric on your board or table RIGHT SIDE UP---you'll want it so the short side is going up & down, and the length of it (42 inches) is running the length of your table.
Step 4: Take the trim fabric and lay it ON TOP of the cuff fabric, at the top.  Make the RAW EDGES of the trim fabric line up with the RAW EDGES of the cuff fabric.  They should match up in length, because they are both 42" long.

Step 5: Take the BODY of the fabric and lay it WRONG SIDE UP (or so that RIGHT SIDES are facing) on top of the other two fabrics.  Match up the raw edges at the top.  You should have all 3 fabrics lined up at the top, with the raw edges.  Now, the body of the fabric, should cover up the whole thing, with the wrong side of that fabric facing you.

Step 6: Now take the body of the fabric, and start rolling it up.  Make sure not to include any of the other fabrics as you roll.  Roll it up until you get to the MIDDLE of the cuff fabric.

Step 7: You can see in the picture where I stopped rolling.  Now, take the cuff fabric, and fold it up to the top, OVER the roll you just created.  Line up the raw edge with the other edges at the top.  The WRONG SIDE of the cuff fabric will now be covering everything. 

Step 8: See?  Now you have a little pouch with everything rolled up inside.  Make sure the edges are all lined up at the top, and pin in place down the length (42") of the fabric. 

It should now look like this.  A big long tube all pinned up.

Step 9: Now, using your serger or sewing machine, sew along that raw edge where you pinned.  If you are sewing, don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure your seams.

Now you have a big tube, with one side all sewn together.

Step 10: Now, pull the inside OUT of the tube.  It's pretty easy, and will just come out with a few tugs.

Step 11: It should look somewhat like this.  Now iron everything, so all the seams are straight and pressed.

Step 12:  Now, just fold it together, wrong sides facing out. 

Step 13: Now sew together the side and the bottom of the pillowcase.

Now turn it right-side out, and that's it!  You are DONE! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Banana Nut Muffins.

We like muffins. A lot. In case you couldn't tell.  Awesome for breakfast, lunches, after school snacks, and freezing. 
The other day I had a ton of really, really ripe bananas.  I had planned on making a super awesome banana bar/banana cake with a great frosting.  But...I wasn't in the mood.  I didn't want to make banana bread either.  So, I hunted for a new banana muffin recipe, and found this one by Tyler Florence .  (Who is such a cutie, I could totally put him in my pocket!) 

They were fantastic!  I made a tiny change or 2, but they were great just as written!  (Go figure, I guess his career IS validated.  So glad I could give him that validation...) My midgets loved them, and ate them constantly for a few days.  I didn't even get the chance to freeze any!

Banana Nut Muffins
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 or 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • a few shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans (you can omit if you want, but I wouldn't.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tins, or spray tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. 
  3. Mash 1/2 of the bananas with a fork on a plate, so they still have a bit of texture.  In a mixing bowl, (kitchen aid) using your wire whisk attachment, whip the remaining bananas and brown sugar together on high, as Tyler says "like you mean it", for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides if necessary. 
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients in small batches just until incorporated. 
  6. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. 
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins about 1/2 way full.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out on a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cranberry BBQ Chicken

Yeah, I know the picture sucks.  It's too dark to get a decent looking picture these days.  Deal.
Did you accidentally buy 43 cans of cranberry sauce when it was on sale?  Join the club.  (Actually I didn't, I like fresh made cranberry sauce.  BUT, don't let that stop you.)  This is a quick, easy, kind of funky dinner!  A great twist on traditional BBQ chicken.

Crockpot Cranberry Barbecue Chicken
  • 3-4 chicken pieces (I used about 1.5 pounds)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (16 oz.) can WHOLE BERRY cranberry sauce (not the jelly that stays shaped like the can)
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce (your favorite. I'm super picky about BBQ sauces...I like homemade ones, or the Shirley J mix.  Jack Daniels is the best "store bought" one I have found.)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.  (Spray cooker before adding ingredients, it will make it easier to clean!) 
  2. Cover and bake on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.  (Unless your cooker cooks really high and fast like mine does, then do it for less time!) 
  3. Optional: Before serving you can thicken the sauce with cornstarch.  I can't remember if I did or not...
A quick, no-brainer meal.  We all need those sometimes, right?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Popcorn

When we were growing up, it seemed like during the holidays there was always and abundant amount of "munchie" stuff.  My mom always had some great treat for while we were playing games, watching movies, sitting in the kitchen chatting...  I have such great memories of treats that were only part of the holidays, things we didn't have any other time of year. 

In fact, I remember when my husband and I first got married, I called my mom and had to have this recipe for Christmas.  It was just my husband and I, we had no need for a huge bowl of this, but I made it anyway.  I'm fairly certain most of it got thrown away, because we couldn't eat it all.  But, it wasn't Christmas without it!

These weren't the most fancy recipes---probably nothing you'd find in Martha Stewart.  But maybe that's what makes them so awesome.  They are family friendly, fun, not good for you treats that we can indulge in during those special times of the year.

This recipe is one of those fun recipes.  This recipe SCREAMS Christmas to me.  I can't even remember what my mom called this, but to me, it's "Christmas Popcorn".  I made this the other night for the kids to snack on while we got all of the Christmas stuff out and decorated the tree.  They were thrilled!  They thought it was such a fun treat.  I hope it becomes a fun "food memory" for them, like it is for me.  (And by keeping it to a once or twice a year tradition, I'm hoping the food memory they have won't be clogged arteries.)

I said before: This isn't fancy.  This isn't healthy.  But, it's everything else: Fun.  Gooey.  And something your kids will probably love!

Christmas Popcorn

  • 4 quarts popcorn (hot air popped, not microwave)
  • 1 c. nuts (peanuts---this is optional.  I left them out the last time I made it, because I didn't have any on hand.)
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 3 c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 c. gumdrops (I used the red & green "spice" ones)
  • 1 c. melted butter
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Pop popcorn, and remove all old maids. 
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together popcorn, nuts, coconut, marshmallows and gumdrops.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, sugar and corn syrup to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  (Be careful if you are using REAL vanilla---which you should be---it contains alcohol, and will pop and splash back at you when you add it to such a hot liquid. 
  4. Cool for 2 minutes, then pour over dry ingredients.  Mix well so everything is coated.
  5. Keep in a covered container.