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Dinning In...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I have rediscovered the joys of cooking since we have come home from the hospital.  Now, keep in mind this doesn't mean that I'm cooking crazy complicated menus.  But, I do enjoy making healthy meals that are tasty!  I've also really worked to incorporate local fruits and veggies into my weekly menus.  

This Saturday night, I took advantage of the last of the heirloom tomatoes.  What better to showcase these tomatoes bursting with flavor than a simple pasta?  So, here is a quick and easy pasta that a great substitute for a meal out.  

First, put on a large pot of water to boil and add a nice amount of salt.  When it comes to a boil, add a box of whole wheat penne pasta.  

While you start your pasta slice a couple of pounds of heirloom tomatoes.


Once your pasta is cooked, you will need to reserve about a cup of the liquid from the pot.  

Have a four ounce roll of goat cheese ready to slice up. 


Drain the pasta and add back to your pot along with the tomatoes.


Next, add in your goat cheese and stir in until melted.  Add reserved liquid as needed to make a sauce.  Its important to do this while the pasta is still hot so it all melts together.


Add some fresh cracked pepper.  You can also add chopped basil to taste.


Its a great creamy, light sauce that makes a great meal with a salad, some fresh bread and a glass of wine.  You also have some great leftovers for lunch!  

No secret, life has certainly changed.  Our weekend nights out have been traded for staying in with our little man.  And that's okay.  Having a few tricks up my sleeve for a good meal makes it less hum drum!  

Try out this pasta for a quick weekend or week night meal.  This is a meal that is sure to be a family favorite!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Cheese
2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 box of whole wheat penne pasta, 16 ounces
4 ounces of goat cheese
chopped basil to taste

Place a large pot of water on to boil with plenty of salt.  When boiling, add pasta and cook until tender. Reserve 1 cup of liquid and drain.

Add the pasta back to the pot.  Add tomatoes and goat cheese.  Stir quickly adding reserved liquid as needed to make a sauce.

Add chopped basil to taste along with fresh cracked pepper.





Nap Time Crafter

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When King Diaper came into the world, I was convinced that my crafty past might be over.  Now, I'm just a lot more clever with my time.  I'm the chief nap time maximizer with my time.  

Several weeks, ago I saw the inspiration for my most recent craft time at a school where I was working for the day.  The secretary had this cute little owl door hanger in her office that I was certain I could recreate.  Take a look at the inspiration piece below.


Basically, its an owl made of burlap with a fabric piece of choice to decorate the front.  

I set out to make my own owl, the following items were purchased:

  • Burlap fabric - Choose whatever colors you want.  But, I would go with a neutral colored backing piece, cream or white for the eyes and belly, black for the eye pupil and color of choice for the feet and beak.  Essentially, you will need 3 or four different color selections.  
  • Colorful front body piece of fabric.  This can be whatever you choose.  
  • Mesh Ribbon to coordinate with your fabric for the bow.
  • Jewelry wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Poly Fiberfill Stuffing
  • Thread for sewing
  • Newspaper or Freezer Paper to make a paper pattern
  • Glasses or round pieces to cut out eyes
  • Scissors
I decided to purchase a patterned piece of burlap instead of using a fabric piece for the front body.  It was a piece of green and cream colored burlap.  Depending on the size of your owl, you will need a 1/2 yard to 1 yard to make the front.  And other piece the same size to make the back.  


After drawing my pattern off, I cut out my large owl body.


Next, I started cutting out the eyes.  I used a glass to cut the round circles for them.  I used the largest size glass to cut the bottom piece of the eyes.  They are in three pieces.  The bottom is a brown, neutral color.  When cutting out the eyes, remember, that you will need two of every piece.  


For the middle portion of the eye or the white of the eye, I used a cream color.  The glass for this one was slightly smaller than the largest one.


I used a shot glass to make the pupils of the eyes.  No, I wasn't doing shots as I created this during King Diaper's nap time.  It actually didn't even occur to me until I was typing this up!


To keep everything in proportion, I placed the eyes on the body pattern and drew a belly piece to use for cutting those out.  I used the same color for the middle portion of the eyes for the belly.


After cutting everything, out, it was time to start stitching everything together.  I did this using a machine.  Very simple stitching.


When I did the eyes, I sewed the bottom brown piece and the cream middle piece together first.  Then, I added the black pupils to the eyes.


Last, I stitched on the belly piece.  Now, it is time to sew the back to the front.  Remember, I used a print for the front.  But I used a brown piece of burlap for the back.  Leave the top of the head open between the ears to stuff it.


After I loosely stuffed the owl, I sewed the top shut.  I did this with a machine as well.  Finally, I hand stitched the beak and feet into the owl.


To finish off the owl, I made a wire hanger of jewelry wire.  This can be cut to the desired length of choice.  I poked an end piece of wire from back to front at the inner part of the ear at the top of the owl head.  I then wrapped the wire around a round paint brush five times.  Next, I rolled off the amount of wire to have the proper amount as a hanger.  You determine the length, but add about 6 inches to this amount.  Cut your wire.  Now poke the second piece back to the front on the other side and wrap five times around a round paint brush.  Or, you can use a pencil.  The point of this is so the hanger wont come out and it looks pretty.


Make a bow and attach it to the head with wire.  Secure it right into the burlap.  

One final detail for my owl was an initial letter.  I painted my piece orange to match the bow and added a little bronze detail.    I attached the letter just under the beak to make it look like it was holding it in the beak.  

So, what did this craft project cost?

1.  Burlap for body and back - 1 yard @ $4.99
2.  Burlap for eyes, beak and belly - 1/2 yard @ $2.49
3.  Fiberfill - already had this
4.  Ribbon - $6.99
5.  Initial Letter - $6.99
6.  Wire - $1.99
7.  Paint - $1.99
8.  Accent Paint - $1.99

Total $27.43 (plus tax)

This amount would be less if you didn't add the initial letter.  Also, you may already have items like paint or fabric that you could use for this project.  So, the costs would be entirely up to you and what you wanted to do with this.  Also, remember that you could use left overs for other crafts.  

Some ways to make this a less expensive project:
  • Use some fabric you already have for either the body, beak, feet or eyes.
  • Omit the initial.
  • Use ribbon you already own for the bow.
  • Paint the eyes rather than using layers for the eyes.
  • Paint an initial onto the belly rather than hanging a wooden one.

So, now the big question....how many nap times did this take???  Well, lets just say that the first day was just cutting out pieces.  Next nap, I sewed together the pieces and stuffed it.  After that, I sewed on the accent pieces by hand.  The initial was painted and bow attached during another nap.  Finally, I added the hanger and added the initial to the body.  

This has given me some hope to being able to nap craft it up!  

What's my next project?  I'm planning to make a dress for myself.  And being truly my mother's daughter, I think I'll use the left over's to make my little man something to match.  Yes, I'm going to be that mom!  I can't help it.  I waited 40 years for this.  And, if I'm going to be asked if I'm that kid's grandmother on a regular basis - well, I've earned the right to put he and I in some homemade matching goodness.  

Get out there and craft it up.  This is a great project for fall doors.  Have fun and space out your projects.  They don't have to be done in one afternoon.  

Spacing these things out gives me something to look forward to as I work on it each day - and a finished project in the end!  








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