These Fish Were Made for…Throwing?

  I’ve had the pattern for these fish pinned for quite a while now.  I printed the pattern out back before Christmas, thinking they would be cute stocking stuffers, and just didn’t get around to it.  It sat on my desk, waiting for me to get to it, through the New Year…through the boys’ birthdays…through Easter even, until I finally decided to make it happen last week.

  The boys had been being especially rambunctious, and I hadn’t been successful in getting much done, and I was looking for an “easy win”.  These worked.

  Being my first attempt, the red fish took me longer to get done, but now that I’ve made a handful of these, each one only takes me about half an hour.  I made the mistake of doing quite a few of the details by hand on that first fish.  Doing all but the “gills” has given me a far better result ultimately, much more quickly.

  The instructions on the blog that the pattern came from are in a language I don’t speak/read…so it was a little bit trial and error figuring out the most efficient way to put them together.  One of the biggest time savers I found was this:

  Unlike, on most stuffed animals, there’s no need to leave a hole in your edge stitching for the filling to be pushed through.  There are holes left from the slits cut for the fins, that you will need to stitch up anyhow, and they work perfectly for filling the fish.  I machine stitch all the way around the edge, hand sew one of the fin slits shut, stuff the fish, and then sew the second fin closed.
  I also decided that while these fish were originally intended as kitchen/store play fish, I reaaaallly wanted them to throw well.  G and I have been driving each other up the wall lately, and I’ve been struggling to find a way to stop unacceptable behavior without things escalating all the way to a “YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM YOUNG MAN” time-out situation every time.  Putting beans in the nose of these and tossing them at him has been a pretty quick and easy solution.  They’re still nice and soft (believe me, I’ve taken several in the face myself), but the “beanbag” weight gives them enough heft that they fly straight and make a satisfyingly loud noise upon impact.
  I’m sure that come a few months from now, the novelty will have worn off, and I’ll have to find a new strategy, but for now, it’s a huge relief that, instead of every minor offense having to be a knock down, drag out battle to the death, I can lob a fish across the room and distract him enough to usually stop the bad behavior.  Plus, it usually results in an awesome game of “feed the zoo seal” that we both enjoy.

  If you have any questions about how I put these together, please let me know!


(Really) Last Minute Fishnet Fingerless Gloves

  Holy cow folks, Halloween is Thursday…do you have a costume?

  Obviously, living in Michigan and planning on taking 2 wee-bits out trick or treating in the predicted rainy, 48-60 degree weather, I won’t be wearing that, but I did wear it for the indoor masquerade party we attended this past weekend.
  My costume was thrown together at the last minute, and while the skirt was finished in a decent amount of time, when I finally put it all together I realized I needed something on my arms to complete the look.
  I was already wearing fishnets on my legs, so I wanted to keep some continuity there and decided fishnet fingerless gloves would be the way to do it.
  I grabbed a second pair of fishnets, snipped the legs apart and pulled them up my arms.  I made the mistake, with the first one, of clipping a hole for my thumb before making holes for my other fingers to fit through.  Don’t do that.  You wind up with a hole way down on your wrist that your thumb has no chance of ever reaching.  It makes sense when you think about it, I know…let me be the dummy for you.  Anyhow, clip holes (usually one string is enough to open it up) to poke your fingers and THEN thumb through and pull the stocking up your arm.  Chances are it’s going to reach further up your arm than you’d like, so cut a slash where you’d like the top to be, remove both stockings from your arms and cut them off at the same height.
  Next, grab some matching 1/4″ elastic and weave it through the netting at the top of your glove.  Your elastic should be long enough to comfortably fit around the portion of your arm where the top of your glove should sit with a small excess for joining the two ends.  Once your elastic is woven through, sew the ends of the elastic together and you’re ready to go!
  Obviously these aren’t going to add a whole heck of a lot of warmth to a costume, but if you’ll be partying inside and your get-up needs just a little something more, these get you more bang for your buck than is really reasonable for a 5 minute project!

How to Fix Broken Blush

  So I expect that plenty of you have found yourself in the same situation I did this weekend.  I was getting ready for the day and R was crawling around on the floor and he went for something he wasn’t supposed to have…and while I grabbed for him, my blush flipped upside-down, the circle of blush fell out of the pan and onto the floor, shattering into a bunch of little pieces.

  I about cried.  It was a brand new, fancy-pants, certainly-overpriced mineral blush, and it was now in a bunch of chunks on my bathroom floor.
  I’d seen a couple of pins on Pinterest about how to save it, but I wasn’t sure…would it work?

  Happily, yes!
  I dumped all the chunks back into the pot, dripped a small amount of rubbing alcohol on top to moisten up the really powdery bits and used a small knife to smooth it all out.  I set it up on a high cabinet (to keep curious fingers out of it) and let it dry.  By that afternoon it was ready to go again.
  Now, it’s not the prettiest solution…I, of course, couldn’t rescue the pretty little flower that had been pressed into the top originally or make it nearly as smooth, but it’s a nice, solid pat again that I can swirl a decent amount of blush off of, instead of getting clown-like amounts of pink powder.
  Long story short, if/when you drop one of your eyeshadows or blushes, don’t hesitate to try this out!

You Won’t Believe What This Top Was

  I’ve been branching out in my workouts lately.  I’ve been doing zumba since the summer after G was born, and while I still love it, I wanted to find something else to add into my routine.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’ve started doing aerial silks.
  One of the things with aerial silks is that you need to protect your armpits and the backs of your knees while you do it if you don’t want to wind up with fabric burns.  Pretty much all of my workout tops are sleeveless, and workout gear is EXPENSIVE!   Rather than going out and buying new stuff, I made this:
  Can you guess what that black top used to be?
  How about if I tell you it took me less than 5 minutes to modify it into this?
  No?  What about if I tell you that I’m wearing it on the wrong half of my body in this picture?
  That’s a pair of tights.  All I did was snip the feet off and cut the diamond shaped portion out of the crotch to make a neckline.
  I came across the idea a good year or two ago when I was browsing some runway show pictures.  The designer had done the same thing with nylons, purposely stretching them til they ran to create ladders through the fabric, and the idea stuck with me.
  I was cleaning out my closet and realized I had tights I wasn’t wearing…soooo…. a couple quick snips and my new shirt was ready!
  I’m really happy with how this turned out.  It was quick, easy, and, because I already had the tights, free.  It’ll keep my armpits from getting destroyed by the fabric, and even better, it looks cute.  This is an incredibly simple project, but if you have any questions about how I did it, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Fall Infinity Scarf

  I don’t know what it is about changing leaves, kids heading back to school and the weather cooling off that makes me yearn for plaid, but it never fails.  Every year my inner lumberjack looks at my closet and goes “YECH.”.  Thing is, I’m not about to go out and buy (or make) a bunch of red plaid (cuz it HAS to be red) pieces to hang in my closet, unworn for 80% of the year…I only really want them for a few weeks!
  Luckily, accessories don’t take up much room, can be worn with anything…and this one only takes a yard of fabric to make.
  To make your own infinity scarf, all you need is that yard of fabric, some scissors and a way to sew a couple of straight lines.
  Start by cutting your fabric in half (NOT the way it was folded in half on the bolt) so you have two long strips.  Most fabric is around 44″ wide, so you should wind up with two strips 44″ long by 18″ wide.  Sew the two strips together (right sides together) to make one really LONG strip and iron the seam.  At this point I suggest wrapping your scarf around your neck and playing with safety pinning it at different lengths to find a length that is flattering for you.  For me, I needed to cut off about 8″ to make my strip 80″ long.
  Once you’ve determined the right length, sew the ends of your strip together.  Next, turn your right sides together and stitch along MOST of your outside edge to make a tube out of your fabric.  Leave a small opening to turn your scarf right side out.  When it is turned to the right side (pulled through the hole you left) use a hand needle to stitch it shut, or if you have a patchworked fabric like mine, or generally don’t care about a small, funky-looking seam, pinch the hole shut and stitch over the edges with a machine.
  A yard of fabric, 15 minutes or so of work and my inner lumberjack is happy.  If only all my wardrobe whims were so easy to deal with!

Apricot and Dijon Glazed Salmon

  G loves fish.  It’s a wonderful thing, because it motivates us to have it often, something we struggled with before he started expressing his delight in it.  I like fish, but it’s never something that jumps up and down screaming “make me, make me!” when I’m making my menu.  Probably because it’s seldom covered in cheese.  Luckily I tried this anyhow.
1/3 c apricot preserves
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp soy sauce*
salt & pepper
2 salmon fillets
*not in the original recipe, we used it to thin the sauce
  Combine all of your ingredients except for your salmon together and spread it over the fillets.  Place everything on a broiler sheet (covered in tin foil…you’ll thank me later) and cook it under the broiler for 10-12 minutes.
  This has a wonderful, almost teriyaki like sweetness to it, and I love how simple it is to make.  The process reminds me a lot of my mom’s flank steak.  Even I can’t get bored with cooking when it only takes 10 minutes.
  This recipe went over wonderfully with everybody.  G actually begged for seconds after having his dessert he liked it so much.  I ate more than I probably ought to have and am looking forward to the leftovers for lunch!

Pillowcase Sleep Shorts

  G is quite the proper little gentleman.  Regardless of how hot it gets, he refuses to sleep in just his underpants and absolutely must be wearing a top and pants of some sort at night.  That’s fine…but unfortunately all of his pajamas that fit were long sleeved, full length flannel numbers.  Not exactly conducive to good sleep in 80-degrees-at-night kind of weather.
  Lucky for him, Mama had some old pillow cases that were just begging to be turned into shorts.
  To create these I used my usual technique for making my own pattern from a pair of shorts I knew fit him.  I actually messed up a little doing it…I forgot to stretch out the elastic in the waistband and so the first pair I made was, ahem, a bit snug.  No problem!  Just slashed the sides and put in a band of contrasting fabric.  He loves the “stripes” down the side anyhow.
  These are a quick, easy project and now he has a couple pairs of light-weight cotton shorts to snooze in.  Honestly, they turned out cute enough I’m probably going to have a hard time reserving them for pajamas!

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato Basil Cream

  I think I might officially have to get myself a subscription to Southern Living.  I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever tried two recipes from the magazine, and both have been easy and incredible.  First the Beef with Red Wine Sauce, and now this!
  Here’s what you need:
20-oz. package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli
16 oz jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce 
2 Tbsp white wine 
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c basil, chopped
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, grated 
  Start by cooking your pasta according to the package directions.  This usually doesn’t involve much more than boiling it for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your alfredo sauce in a saucepan over medium heat.  Use your wine to rinse any remaining sauce out of the jar and add it to the sauce in the pan.  Stir in your tomatoes and basil, and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Toss with pasta, and put your Parmesan cheese on top.
  I expected this to be decent.  I did not expect it to be “food striking 3 year old asks for a third serving instead of the Oreos he had in his hand” good.
  You can bet I’ll be browsing the Southern Living magazine’s online recipe archives for more ideas to try soon.
**Apologies this is late to post…for some reason the edited, scheduled version got eaten, so I had to re-write it all this morning!**

How to Sew Your Own Pillowcase

  We’ve been really lucky with how G has adjusted to the new baby.  Having heard lots of horror stories of parents who can’t leave their children alone in the same room together for fear of the elder pinching or trying to smother the baby, I was prepared for the worst.  I won’t say that we haven’t seen some behavior backlash in the wake of the birth, but it has all been directed at us.  
  G loves R, to an almost comically possessive degree.
  One of the things that I think has probably helped keep G from feeling resentful towards R is that we’ve involved him in absolutely everything to do with the baby that’s possible.  He helps us give R his bath, helps change his diaper, re-covers him with his blanket in his swing if he kicks it off and almost always comes with me when it’s time for me to nurse R.
  Obviously, there’s only so exciting that can be for a little boy, so he has made up games to play while R eats.  His favorite is to make a nest of blankets and pillows on the floor and put his stuffed animals “to bed”.  This game has led to a voracious appetite for pillows, which led to some conflict over the one pillow I needed to support my back while nursing.
  Rather than have a constant turf-battle with him, I decided to make a “special” pillow for his favorite stuffed animal, Clifford.
  We happened to have a small travel pillow that had been kicking around that had seen better days.  Somebody (*cough, cough* G) had spilled hot cocoa all over it, and it had fallen out of favor.  A new pillowcase was just the answer.
  I dragged him into the office, pulled out all of my cottons that were large enough for the project and told him to pick two.
  Kudos to you if you recognize the bright green as the edging on his owl pant pockets.
  This is a super fast project, and obviously there is no reason you can’t make full sized pillow cases the same way.
  Here’s what you need:
Travel pillow sized case
1-16.5″x 25.5″ piece of fabric (body)
1-8.5″ x 25.5″ piece of fabric (edge)
coordinating thread
Bed sized pillowcase
1-27″ x 37.5″ piece of fabric (body)
1-8.5″ x 37.5″ (edge)*
coordinating thread
*notice that I gave my travel pillow a proportionally wider edge than a “professional” pillowcase.  If you want a wider, floppier edge on your big case, you’ll need to increase the 8.5″ measurement a few inches.
I’ve used 1/4″ seam allowances since that’s what my serger creates.
  Start by folding your edge piece in half (wrong sides together) to make it long and skinny.  Your 8.5″ measurement should become 4.25″.  Iron it flat to set the crease.
  Placing your right sides together, pin the unfinished edge of your now-folded edge piece along your body fabric.  Obviously at this point your edge piece is all “right” sides, so just make sure you’ve got it facing the right side of your body piece.  Stitch the two together and press the seam flat.
  Fold your now-joined pieces in half placing right sides together.  For your travel pillow this will make your 25.5″ edge 12.75″ long and your bed sized pillow’s 37.5″ edge 18.75″ long.  Sew the bottom and side edges of your pillowcase.  Flip right-side out and iron.  You’re done!
  I don’t tend to make a lot of these, since most sheet sets come with their own pillowcases, but this is a great way to make something special for a child or to accent current bedding.  It’s a wonderful project for beginning sewers.
  If you have any questions about how these go together, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help!