A simple maxi dress

So, my friend Sarah was out shopping at a local boutique and told me about this amazing maxi dress she found. She loved it because it was comfortable, but had a little band that covered the “pooch” area. Well, this got me interested, so I went to check out the dress.  It was a super cute dress, but for what it was, they were asking way too much money. I thought, I could make that for way less. So I did:) I actually made a short version as well, and took pictures of the process.

This dress is super easy to make (I think it took about an hour) and very comfortable to wear. And it hides the problem areas. Well, my problem areas!

Here’s what you need:

2 yards of stretch fabric (cotton jersey, or a polyester/spandex, just make sure its at least 4% spandex, you need stretch!)

1″ elastic

Coordinating thread.

For all seams, use a long stitch with a zigzag.

1. Start by measuring your waste . You want the band to be snug, so take your waste measurement, divide by two, then subtract 3-4″ (this will be the waist measurement). I just kept trying the band on to get the right fit. Cut out a 2 pieces that are8″ tall by waist measurement. Then, fold this piece in half, so now you have a double thickness 4″ x waist measurement (mine was 14″) .Sew the side seams of the two folded pieces so you now have a tube.

2.  Cut out your skirt. You want the length to be about the length of your hip bone to the ground. You can always make it long, then cut at the end to your preferred length.  Your width will be the same as the waist band (or a few inches wider depending on the fit you want) at the top, but as wide as possible at the bottom. Just cut out a trapezoid, with this fabric, it will drape nicely, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Mine was 40″ long, buy 14″ at the top and 27″ at the bottom. Cut two pieces. Sew the side seams with right sides together. Attach the waist band to the skirt, again with right sides together (stretch the waist band if necessary as you sew if your skirt is wider). Now you have a cute maxi skirt, should you choose to stop here.

3. Cut out you top. You should make it the length of your torso, plus about 3 inches. Mine was 17″ long by 1/2 the width of my bust, about 20″. Cut two pieces, then sew side seams. Attach this to the skirt, again right sides together.You will need to pin the side seams, and make sure you stretch the waist band as you sew, since the top is wider than the skirt.

4. Lastly, attach some elastic. Just wrap it around your body, and decide how tight you want it. Then sew it into a circle. Pin the elastic to the inside top, matching the edges. Pin at the side seams and stretch elastic as you sew it on as close to the top as possible. Then, fold it over, to the inside of the top, and do a top stitch (not zigzag, but a long strait stitch) along the bottom of the elastic (this will be about 1″ down from the top). Pull the top so there is no gather as you sew.

And that’s it. Super easy. And very forgiving if you have some imperfections!  Here is a picture of the “mini” version of the dress.

March 30, 2012. Tags: , , . Sewing and Crafts. Leave a comment.

Wild bread!!

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If you went to school in San Luis obispo or in Davis California, you are very familiar with wild bread. I was lucky enough to go to school in both towns, so I’ve had my fair share of wild bread! Basically, it’s pizza dough, brushed with oil, and topped with oregano, garlic, and salt. Cheese is optional. Then you dip in ranch dressing or pizza sauce. Yum!
I made a version of this bread using some leftover dough. Just oil your dough, spread on a pizza pan, top with seasonings of your choice (oregano, salt, rosemary, garlic…get creative!) then bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.
Need a good dough recipe, try this one
Now, mine should have a lot more spices, but, they are too green for my son and he won’t eat it. If I were to make just for me, I’d be way more generous!

March 24, 2012. Tags: , , . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

The best ever pizza dough

Well, it’s that time of year again where I have to come up with meat-free meals. Yep, it’s lent and time for cheese pizza Fridays! My husband is incredibly picky and there are few things he’ll eat with out meat (pasta), he doesn’t like fish, and he’d starve as a vegetarian. So, cheese pizza it is!
I have a great pizza dough recipe I’m going to share. It’s kinda my specialty. It’s very simple, but you do need an electric mixer! I made a cheese version, but feel free to get creative!
Ok, here we go!
Start by putting a package of rapid rise yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 1/2 cups hot (100-110 degrees) in your mixer bowl.

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Let this sit for about 10 minutes, and it should look like this:

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Now add 4 1/2 cups of ap flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 3 tbsp oil. Mix together with your dough hook. Now, once mixed, Adjust your consistency. If its sticking to all the sides and not forming into a ball, sprinkle in a bit more flour. If it forms a ball, but doesn’t stick to the bottom, add a bit more water. You want it to form a ball around the dough hook, and only stick to the bottom of the bowl. Like this:

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Now, continue to kneed at low speed for 10 minutes. Then, coat your mixing bowl with oil, cover your bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise. At least 2 hours. It will go from this:

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To this:

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Now it’s time to make your pizza! Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and put your oven rack as low as you can. Grease the pan with butter or margarine. Spread out your dough thin (this recipe will make 2 pizzas). No rolling or stretching, just use your fingers to spread it out in your pan.

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Now let’s talk sauce! The key is San marzano tomatoes! Just mix a can with some olive oil and garlic salt. Use your hands to gently break up the tomatoes. Or, buy a jar of Mario batali pasta sauce. Tomato and basil is perfect. That’s what I had on hand:)

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Then add your toppings. Place pizza on lowest oven rack and bake for 6-10 minutes, until your cheese starts to brown (more toppings = longer cook time). The pizza cooks fast, watch it closely!!

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Your crust should be golden brown, like this.

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But, if not, I have a great trick! Turn your stove on low, place the pan directly on the stove, turning it often, until your crust is crispy and browned. Then enjoy! I cut my pizza in a grid, like they do at Chicago fire pizza in Folsom.

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Any unused dough can be stored frozen. Just let it rise at room temp for 4 hours before use.

February 25, 2012. Tags: . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

A little experiment…or two

This post has two purposes. First, a little experiment to try a post using the WordPress app. Second, tell you about my latest quest.
See, my kids love Rubios. I guess it’s ok, just not incredibly healthy. But, they have one menu item that I love. And it’s not the fish taco! I love their tortilla soup. I really want to create it at home. I love that it has a light broth and isn’t too heavy (a lot of the recipes I’ve tried are heavy, like chili). There have been a ton of recipes posted on pinterest, so I decided to try this crockpot version. It actually looked hearty in the picture, but the recipe sounded like it may be close. Anyway, we had it tonight. Not bad, but not Rubios:( I’ll keep searching!

Here is my version. If you have a great recipe, please share!!

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February 22, 2012. Tags: , . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

Engagement Dinner Party

There is some really great news in our family. My brother-in-law has asked his girlfriend Shannon of four years to marry him…finally! I was so excited to hear this news, that I knew I had to do something special to celebrate with them. So, I threw them a little dinner party.

I wanted the table to be simple, but elegant. So I went with a black and white color scheme, and added some red rose centerpieces for a little pop of color.

I made little menu cards for each place setting. Gives it a more formal feel. Then I busted out my silver chargers. I actually got these for my wedding, but I rarely have such a formal event to use them for. I do have 2 young boys, after all! I also used my chalkboard painted wine glasses for the seating tags. I love how they tie in with my black and white theme. I served a green salad with Dijon vinaigrette, twice baked red potatoes, Gorgonzola crusted Fillet Mignon, and sauteed green beans with toasted almonds.

For desert, I wanted to make them something really special. Here are some “champagne” Cake pops. I used white nonpareils  for the bubbles and a white candy melt for the glass base.

The champagne bottle was really fun to make. But a lot of work, so there is only one! I made the bottle green, then painted it with some gold edible paint for the foil at the top. The black and red decorations were colored on with edible pens. The bottle monogram was made by piping white chocolate on some wax paper. I flipped the label over, then used an edible pen to draw on the monogram.

Overall, it was a great night. The food was delicious, the wine was flowing, and most of all, the bride and groom to be really enjoyed that we made this celebration special. Congratulations David and Shannon!

February 19, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Food and Drink. Leave a comment.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My valentines are DONE. This year, much like the last, was all about the cake pop…and cake ball. I’m sure you’ve seen this idea all over pinterest (with lollipops, not cake pops), but I LOVE it, and had to try it with my boys. Not the best picture, but you get the idea. I uploaded my picture to shutterfly, and they had some cute valentines day borders.

I also made some cake balls, but not just any cake balls, these ones I shaped into hearts. I love how they came out.

This one looks like a box of chocolates!

Tomorrow I plan to celebrate valentines with all my boys. We are having heart pizza and broken arrow cupcakes…I’ll post later:) I put out a little valentines treat for my boys to discover tomorrow…

I picked these cute little mailboxes up at the Target dollar section. What’s inside? Silly putty,a hotwheels car, a mini slinky, a mini strawberry pot, and some jelly beans.

Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day!!

February 14, 2012. Tags: , , , . Cakes and other Treats, Fun for Kids. Leave a comment.

Happy Birthday Jason (aka Daddy)

I love to bake cakes. I especially love to decorate them (you can check them out at Sweet Cakes by Karla and Sarah). My kids are fondant junkies, they love to eat my scraps, but rarely do they get to play with it (let alone decorate a cake!!). Except on dad’s birthday. I started this tradition last year. Here is last year’s cake:

The cake was so small, most of the fondant ended up on the cake board! But they had fun cutting out their favorite shapes, then coloring them with edible markers.

This year, I wanted to give them more creative freedom. So, I baked a chocolate mint cake with vanilla mint buttercream (my husbands favorite flavor combo). I was sure to make this cake a little bigger! Its covered in chocolate ganache (not perfectly I might add, but I figured they would be covering most of it anyway!).  The kids picked out all the cookie cutter shapes. so random what they chose…Christmas and Halloween?!? And I had some Duff cake wires that we decided to try. The kids put them in the cake, that’s why some are protruding out the side with balls of fondant attached to them. Anyway, here is the finished cake. I especially love the reindeer with the bug eyes:)

It was so fun to see them present their creation to their dad! They were so proud!! I think it cake out pretty cute!

February 8, 2012. Tags: , , . Fun for Kids. Leave a comment.

Tutorial: Make a Key Hanger using Stretched Canvas

Up until now, my husband and I were throwing our keys on the counter. But I HATE clutter, so it would drive me crazy. We have really been needing a key hanger, but I just never got around to buying one. So I made one! Here’s what you need:

  • Stretched canvas, any size will do, but I used 12 X 24.
  • Acrylic paints and paintbrushes or fun fabric
  • decorative hooks (I got these at Lowes)
  • Power drill

Start by painting a design of your choice, or if you are not an artist, buy some fun fabric and use a stable gun to attach it to the back of your canvas (I was going to go this route, but since I’m planning on painting some large canvases in our dining room, I wanted the practice!).  Next, drill holes in the wood frame of your canvas, then screw in your hooks. And that’s it!

I tried gluing the hooks on, but since the canvas is not very rigid, they heavy keys pulled off the hooks. Really, screws are the way to go.

Ahhh, all nice and organized. Now maybe my husband will be able to find his keys in the morning:)

February 2, 2012. Tags: , , , . Sewing and Crafts. Leave a comment.

Felt Car City

My boys are obsessed with hot wheels. But hot wheels tracks never stay together and always seem to get broken. Plus, they are always racing their cars on the counters, on the floor, or up the walls. Sometimes they have me draw them a track outside using chalk. But it never lasts. Sooooo, I thought I’d make them something a little more permanent, but that doesn’t take up a ton of space like a train table.  I did a little search, and there are a ton of ideas out there, but I really liked this one by Oopsey Daisy.

My younger son was sick this week, so it seemed like the perfect project for us to stay home and do.  I bought two yards of green felt, plus a quarter yard of a variety of colors (though 1/4 yard was waaayyy too much!). As I cut and glued, he drove and parked his cars…for hours. Here is the finished project. It took two days, but well worth the effort, as they have already spent countless hours playing on it!

It’s certainly not perfect, but they don’t care! It does the trick and the best part is I can fold it up and put it away when they are done playing!

January 29, 2012. Tags: , , , . Fun for Kids. 1 comment.

Boy Fun

I can’t say the weather in California has been bad. Because it really hasn’t. We’ve had a few cold days and a few rainy, but in preparation of some horrible weather, I searched the web to come up with some fun kid activities.For my day job, I’m a scientist. So, my discovery of Science Bob was very exciting. He gave us a few fun projects, like the lava lamp.

Start with a 2L soda bottle, with 1 1/2 cups water and fill with oil (we used canola)

Add a few drops of food color (we only had blue)

Let the kids drop in some alka selter tablets.

My pictures don’t do this justice. It was pretty cool:)

Our next experiment was making goo. We used the old Elmer glue/borax recipe, available all over the internet. We made a red batch with white glue and a blue batch with clear glue. They got mixed together, so now we have purple goo!

Finally, the ivory soap foam trick. This was the easiest. Just microwave the soap. The kids loved watching the soap grow before their eyes! Start with plain ivory soap

Microwave for about 2 minutes, or until you see this:

It’s firm, but flaky

What to to with all that soap? How about a car wash in the kitchen sink!

And we finished our fun with some pizza:)

January 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Fun for Kids. 1 comment.

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