March 31, 2011

Our Backyard

I have been a bit absent lately because I am working hard on finishing Audrey's Busy Book. I am very close to being finished, all I have left to do is "bind" it. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a finished project to show.

Spring has finally made its grand entrance around here and it is beautiful outside. I am itching to get out and start planting. In the meantime I thought I would share the transformation that our backyard underwent last year around this time. We had just moved in and desperately wanted a backyard. Luckily, our landlord agreed to foot the bill if we did the work. After a few weekends and a lot of help from family we turned it into something we are quite proud of. Here are some before and after pictures, all from last year. 



Obviously the grass was still growing in at this point. 

And can I tell you how much I HATE that Dish satellite. It isn't even ours! It's our neighbors and oh, was I mad the day I came home and found that this is where they chose to install it.

Nonetheless, we still love our backyard.

Oh, and if anyone has any SUPER cheap and not tacky ideas on how to cover a chain link fence I am all ears. Luckily the one in the picture is now being covered nicely by that honeysuckle, but we have one on the other side of the garden that desperately needs to be covered and asap. 

March 25, 2011

Lentil Soup

I know that it is spring and a soup recipe seems a bit out of place, but winter is hanging around a bit and a warm soup sounded like the perfect way to end a very cold and rainy day. It isn't necessarily the prettiest soup to look at, it is, well, very brown, but what it lacks in visual appeal it more than makes up for in flavor. This recipe is originally from the Food Network and oh so good, I just made a couple of tiny changes. It was a huge hit with everyone around here and will definitely be a rainy day staple.

Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 links Andouille sausage (or whatever kind you like), sliced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cup lentils
7 cups chicken stock
5 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup elbow pasta
salt and pepper

In a large heavy-bottomed pot heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned. 

Remove sausage from pot. To pot add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices and simmer until the juices evaporate and the tomatoes break down, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat.

Stir in the broth. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. 

Add sausage back to pot. Stir in the pasta and simmer until the pasta is done, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

March 21, 2011


We spent a very relaxing few days at my parent's house over the weekend and my mom sent us home with this bouquet of daffodils from her garden. They are gorgeous and such a great reminder that spring is here.

March 15, 2011

A Toy Clip and A Squirrel

I have been working really hard on Audrey's busy book and for all my whining I am actually enjoying it now. It is just taking a bit of time... there is a LOT of little pieces to cut out and I can't even tell you how many times I have had to change thread. Hopefully I will have a finished project to show soon.

I took a little break from the book yesterday to whip up a toy clip for Audrey. Bryce had the genius idea awhile back to get a pacifier clip for her toys. We use it all the time. We attach it to her stroller when we go for walks, to her high chair when we are out to dinner, and to her shopping cart cover. It is great because she can have her toy to play with or chew on, but when she throws or drops it the toy never lands on the ground. And we are not constantly having to pick it up. Seriously, genius. We have only had one for several months now and I decided we needed another. This was seriously the easiest and fastest thing I've ever made. It might have taken me 3 minutes and that is being generous.

Completely unrelated, but while I was sewing today I heard it starting to rain so I looked up to see out the window and this is what I saw.

Looking out my second story window this is not what I was expecting and it made me smile. It was raining hard and I think the squirrel was caught completely off guard.

March 9, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I've heard of people that plan their meals a month in advance. There are spreadsheets involved, multiple options for each day, plus side dishes, and extensive grocery lists. I am not one of those people. I do, however, like to plan a few meals at a time so I don't have to go to the grocery store everyday. After I pick out a few meals I write them on a little white board we have on our refrigerator. That way I won't forget what our choices are and each day I can pick which I want to make.

Here are the choices from last week.

All of them were recipes we had never tried before and other than the ravioli they were all delicious. And really the ravioli probably has potential, but we made some fatal errors that caused us to abort the recipe part way through.

Here are the links to the recipes if you want to try any of them. I don't know if you are anything like me, but I am always on the lookout for good, tasty, and healthy new recipes. Yeah, bonus, did I mention all of these fall under the healthy category?!

If I were a really good blogger I would have pictures of each dish we made... but I don't.

Guinness Lamb Stew from Cooking Light
This was really easy to throw together and tasted delicious. It was the kind of dish that I happily ate as leftovers for the next several days.

Mum's Everday Red Lentils from Aarti Sequeira on the Food Network
I loved these, especially with a dollop of plain yogurt on the top.

This was good, not fantastic, but tasty enough we will make it again. I would go lighter on the lemon next time. 
If you like blue cheese this is a recipe you should definitely try. We loved it. 

These sandwiches were fantastic and our favorite meal of the week. We already have plans to make them again when we have company for lunch next weekend.

March 7, 2011

The Shirred Shirt Dress

Can you say that name ten times fast?

To shirr means to gather fabric and make it pucker by using elastic thread for the bobbin. Here is a great tutorial from Ruffles and Stuff if you're interested. It is such a simple technique and I love the look of it. I've been wanting to shirr something for awhile now, but couldn't figure out what to make. Then I came up with the idea to turn a men's button down shirt into a dress for Miss A. This dress turned out exactly like I pictured and I love it. It just may be my favorite project to date. And it was SO EASY!

Want to make one? Here's what to do:

You'll need a men's button down shirt. Paco's shirt was a Goodwill find.

Decide how long you want the dress, measure from the bottom of the shirt and cut straight across. You need to make sure you have a shirt long enough that you are able to cut below the armholes. Don't cut off the bottom, this will become the bottom of your dress. 
Open the shirt and hem the top. 
{Please don't judge my completely uneven hem line... luckily in the end it doesn't matter at all}

And it's time to shirr. With the shirt open start at the top and shirr in a straight line all the way across the shirt. And repeat every 1/4" as far down as you want. For a size 12 month dress I shirred the top 3.5 inches.

When you are finished sewing spray the shirred area with water and press with a hot iron. This will make the elastic tighten up even more. 

At this point if the dress is still too big it can be easily taken in at the side seams. I had to take another 6 inches off of Audrey's dress and just used the Serger to serge down the sides, it was quick and easy, and you wouldn't know I did it after the shirt was already shirred. 

Now button the shirt back up and sew the shirt closed.

The only thing left to do is add straps.

It is such a simple process, but makes such a cute dress. I can't wait until it is warm enough for Audrey to wear it!

Posted at:
Made By You Mondays on Skip To My Lou
Get Your Craft On on Today's Creative Blog
We Did It Wednesday on Sew Much Ado 

March 2, 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose

We have been getting a lot of rain storms the past couple of weeks which means a lot of inside activity. I'm not complaining, I love the rain, but when we had a break in between storms the other day we took the opportunity to enjoy the sun and headed to the park to feed the ducks and geese.

March 1, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard

Two nights ago I found myself trying to bounce Audrey to sleep in the middle of the night. Which is not that abnormal of an occurrence. I've mentioned before that Audrey is was* not a great sleeper.

*Luckily it seems as though we figured out what the problem was and have been able to fix it. Yes, there was an actual problem and an actual fix to the problem, I just love that. No abstract nonsense, no guessing. Her sleep has improved dramatically and it was been well over a week since we've had a really bad night.

{This is how I found her in the morning a couple of weeks ago}
Anyway, back to two nights ago. Like I said I was bouncing her to sleep and everything was going fine until I looked at the clock and realized it was only 10:48pm. We hadn't been in bed very long and she hasn't woken up that early in the night for awhile. And then I realized I wasn't wearing pants (is this TMI? I usually don't wear pants to sleep in, but keep a pair of sweats by the bed to put on in case Audrey needs me). And then I realized she already was asleep, very asleep, on my shoulder. All of this was starting to seem a little strange to me, but what was even stranger was that at this point instead of just laying her back down I decided it was critical that she have her diaper changed.

However, I was not going to do it without my pants. So I woke Bryce up to hold Audrey so I could get my pants. I know, weird, right? Long story short, kind of, we changed her diaper (which was bone dry), laid her back down and she was asleep in seconds. When Bryce and I went back to bed he asked me what had happened because he hadn't even heard her cry and I realized I didn't remember anything until looking at the clock and seeing 10:48. My only memory is of Audreys (yes, pluralized) crying in her crib. It appears as though I had a dream she (or multiple shes) was crying and I slept walk (which I've never done before) into her room, picked her up from a dead sleep, and then tried to traumatize her by waking her up to change a dry diaper.

Yeah, major Mom fail. 

I remember when we were at my parent's house for Thanksgiving and Audrey was having a really hard time sleeping my brother-in-law told me to make sure I don't go crazy with such little sleep. Well, Troy, I think I've officially gone off the deep end!

Apparently it is going to take me a little time to get used to "sleeping through the night" too.