Tutorial: Soft Shorts

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
These shorts are pretty much all I want to wear in the summer. They're loose and airy, and soft. There's almost no worry about sizing, because this pattern is one size fits most, and elastics are my friends.

Soft Shorts

Want to make your own? Here's a quick tutorial. The dimensions for the pattern are below. (Also, save that Amazon packaging paper! It's awesome for patterns!)

Soft Shorts

The shorts require exactly 2 pieces of fabric, with identical dimensions, and enough elastic to fit around your waist.

Soft Shorts

See? Two pieces. The pattern includes seam allowances and hemlines.

  1. Draw the pattern above. Yes you need to take out your Crayolas and a ruler. If it's not perfect, don't worry! Roughly approximate curves will still work out here.
  2. Cut out two pieces of fabric based on the pattern above. Don't forget you have to fold the fabric.
  3. Take one piece, and fold it in half, right sides together, then sew the short curves together. You should now have a partial tube.
  4. Repeat for the other piece.
  5. Take both tubes, align the long curves together, right sides facing, and sew all the way along the curve. When you're done, you'll basically have a pair of shorts, just with a really big waist.
  6. Cut a piece of 1" elastic the length of your waist, wherever you want the shorts to sit.
  7. Sew the ends of the elastic together, so you have a circle.
  8. Fold the fabric at the top of the shorts over the elastic to create a tube for the elastic. Sew all the way around to encase the elastic. You might have to stretch the elastic as you go.
  9. Hem the bottom of the shorts.

Other nice options:
  • Serge or zig zag the raw edges of the inside seams. Since there are only 2 seams, it's not a lot of work. I covet finished seams. Plus your sewing will last longer.
  • Turn under the fabric that encases your elastic so that you hide the raw edge.
  • Take length off the bottom of the shorts, for something more modern looking.
  • Add length to the bottom of the shorts to make culottes.
  • Don't use elastic. Pleat the waist, and add a zipper.

Soft Shorts

The fabric I used here is yet another reincarnated duster, and I love the colors. I prefer wearing tops and shorts to sleep because shifts and night dresses always ride up during the night. Now that I've made these, I want a dozen more! Though, honestly I probably only need two to alternate.

Nest time, another variation! I DID OPTIONAL STUFF.

First Garden Harvest of the Year

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Things are happening in the garden folks! I haven't had a chance to snap a photo, but the flowers are blooming, the beans have sprouted, and the herbs are almost all ready to use.

Garden harvest1

I couldn't resist clipping some thyme, lavender, and chives. Some of the thyme went into a pot of pasta sauce. Personally I think it tastes so much like oregano it's a perfectly good substitute. Our oregano didn't turn out well, so this will do. I also love the wee flowers on the little bushes of thyme.

Garden harvest2

The chard is already ready to pick, and it's lovely and sweet, and I love the red color. Our weird little toddler grabbed one of the leaves and started eating it raw. Oh, I'm so proud. Instilling a love of vegetables into the kiddo was the whole point of the garden! (Mind you, she just loves food - period. I don't think the girl has tastebuds.)

Garden harvest

And for us grownups, I sauteed the chard with a splash of red wine, garlic, rosemary sea salt (dried rosemary also from the garden), and topped it with some deep fried onions. Tasty. I think it tastes better because of how much work we put into the garden.

Summer Garden Update

Monday, June 27, 2016
Garden

Things are growing and in bloom! So far it's just berries, lettuce, Swiss chard and herbs that are ready for picking, but check out those tomatoes! I think we're going to be drowning in them once they're ripe. Time to check out some canning recipes maybe?

Garden

And the hydrangeas are beautiful right now. You can't even see the leaves, because there are so many flowers. I love how the flowers gradiate from purple to pink. It makes the yard so colourful! I'm glad we took down the fence at the back of the planter box too. Now the plants get light from all sides, so they're growing like crazy.

#gardenlove

Date Night Dice

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


A few months ago date nights seemed impossible with baby around, but she's sleeping better and getting bigger. Sometimes it feels like there's never any time for us adults, so we need to make time for each other.

These date night dice could be a fun valentine's or anniversary (or just because) present. We all get stuck in a rut sometimes.
Materials: wooden cubes, black paint, white pen
Time: 10 minutes plus drying time
How to: Paint the cubes black, let them dry, and then write on your date night suggestions. 

Here are some suggestions:
Picnic, Coffee , Long Walk, Drinks, Massage, Candlelight, Restaurant, Ice Cream, Dessert, Try a New Thing, Movie, Boardgames

It might be even more fun to make one cube with locations, and another cube with things to do. For example: 
Places: Park, Couch, Beach, Mall, City, Restaurant
To do: Massage, candlelight, drinks, try a new thing, long walk, good eats

Infinitely customizable. Have fun!

Couch Slipcovers

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


My most useful sewing project to date has been my dining table chair slipcovers. With the toddler around, food gets flung EVERYWHERE. It's amazing how far it will end up. We draped some old blankets from Goodwill on our couches for everyday, since the tod climbs all over them, and drools, and spills things... if you have a kid, you know how it is.

This worked fine, and we'd just take off the blankets if people were coming over to visit, but the blankets would often fall off in places, and generally wouldn't stay put. So... as much as they are a tedious pain to make: slipcovers.


I took the blankets which already were large enough to cover the love seat and sofa, and pinned them in place bad side up, and trimmed the fabric. There was no measuring involved, as these are not really for looks, but function. Then I basted them all together with a hand stitch before running them through my sewing machine.

Here's the final product. Not the most stylish of things, but hey, practically free, and really just for catching messes. Maybe when baby has grown, I'll make some in a better color - or not. As I said, they're a tedious pain to sew. This is why slipcovers cost so much.



Admire my sharp corners please and thank you. :D

Leather Baby Moccasins

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


The little bean is officially a toddler, and that means walking (or running) everywhere. She wore out her old faux leather moccasins, and outgrew them, so I wanted to make her some new ones. They really are the easiest things to slip on and off a wiggling baby, and she can walk really well in them. In hard soled shoes, not so much yet.

One of the new pairs is made of thick suede. They're so soft they're almost cuddly, but I think these will be much more durable than the faux leather, and also more breathable. One downside to the faux leather is that baby's feet would sweat in her shoes. On the other hand, suede bottoms are not ideal for walking on grass or other moist surfaces, because they aren't waterproof. For running around a gym or indoors these are perfect. I didn't want to treat them with suede protector just in case baby decides to chew on them.



I also made a pair from suede, and red nappa leather. The red leather is half as thin as the suede, so I'm not sure how it will hold up. It was also a lot harder to sew with, and tended to slide even with a Teflon foot and leather needle on my sewing machine. The suede was no trouble at all, so maybe something a little thicker would be easier to sew with. However, the nappa leather is a little bit more water and dirt resistant than the suede. I glued some suede into the bottom of the finished shoes to make a thicker insole and I'm glad for the extra padding. Regular white glue bonded the suede really well.

The old free pattern I used was only good for 6-12 months. This time I bought the Lil' Papoose Moccasins pattern, which was straightforward to use and good up to 4T sizes so I won't have to buy another. Bonus, it's only 5$ and a download that prints on regular sized paper. I'm totally happy with it.



Check out the wear and tear on these old mocs! A sure sign these were well loved and used.



TIP: Since these are shoes, and the seams are tucked in, using some hot glue along the seam helps prevent slipping between leather layers. You can peel it off if any is visible afterwards as well.

DIY Cork Drawer Dividers

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Let me show you the contents of my drawers. Har har, enjoy the terrible pun?



There's not too much to be embarrassed about, because for once, they're actually organized! I made some dividers out of cork to corral the mess. Cork is soft and easy to cut, which made this a quick project that required nothing more than a utility knife. Note: you could totally use cardboard or foam board instead. Both those materials would be more stable than cork.

The directions are simple: Cut a length of cork the same length as your drawer, and make notches where you want width wise cross pieces to go. Cut notches into the cross pieces. Fit together like a puzzle. The result is a removable divider system.



You can make each of the divisions a different size. However, because the cork is soft and flexible, the more cross pieces you put in, the more stable the drawer divider will be. I also cut leftover cork to fit into the bottom of each drawer to keep the cork from sliding around. If you hot glued your cork pieces together, that would also reduce the wobble.



And this is what they drawers looked like before I filled them.



It's amazing how much more you can fit into a space when things are properly folded and organized. I had no idea how many socks I had! This project makes me way too happy, even though no one but you will ever see it. Alas.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Garden plots

This summer's project is the garden. The local raccoons and crows tore up our front yard (there's a beetle infestation in our area), and so we decided they did us a favour. We made several large planter boxes here because it gets the best sun, and also so we can save the back yard for the kiddo to play in.

Garden plots

We also took down the ugly fence, and decided it didn't need to be replaced. Now you can see the lovely stone planter that was already there in the front of the house. There used to be two stumps of cedar in the stone planter, but we chopped those down, so now we can actually use it for something.

Now... the hard part! Deciding what to plant!

Fiesta Themed Baby Party - Menu

Friday, April 8, 2016


SO we've got the decor covered. Onto the food! We had a taco bar setup for the party and it was a lot of fun. It also made it easy to cover a variety of different dietary requirements (vegetarians, no-red meat, picky toddlers). Best of all, it wasn't too expensive, and most of the dishes could be made ahead so the day of the party wasn't too stressful.

Here's a Sample Menu

Taco fillings:
Grilled Shrimp
Ground Chicken Taco Filling

Salad:
Black Bean and Corn Salad (also doubles as a vegetarian filling)
Pico De Gallo
Garlic Cilantro Coleslaw

Toppings:
Re-fried beans
Lettuce
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Grilled peppers
Pickled onions
Tortillas (3 per person)
Guacamole
Lime Wedges
Cilantro
Salsa verde
Hot Sauce

Sides:
Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
Cornbread

Snacks:
Chips
Puff Pastry Churros
Cantaloupe

Drink:
Virgin Margaritas (With a bottle of rum on the side)

Dessert:
Coconut Lime Cake



And yes, shooting photos of the food after people have dug into it isn't ideal, neither is the evening lighting, but eating hot, yummy, food comes before blogging, right? It's the taste that matters. If you're wondering what that square cut dish is in the first photo, it's my mother in law's baklava, a real labour of love. Speaking of baklava, I think there's more in the fridge so I'm going to go now...

Recipe: Coconut-Lime Cake.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Coconut-Lime Cake
(Note: I doubled the recipe to make a larger layer cake)

Cake:
  • Basic White Cake (You could use box mix in a pinch)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • Zest of 1 lime.
Follow the white cake cooking directions, and add both the coconut and lime at the end.

Icing:
Add the lime and coconut extract to the butter and sugar when you're making the icing.

*Note: One of my friends asked me, WHAT IS THAT ICING? It really is sooo good. It's not too sweet, it's not oily, but light and airy, and won't melt like whipped cream will. It's the original icing for red velvet cakes. It's good. Trust me.



P.S. Decorating cakes is not my forte. I made a pennant out of chop sticks, string, and washi tape. Couldn't be simpler, and reusable too. It might not look the greatest, but it tasted awesome!

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