Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Lengthen a Skirt by Adding Ruffles

I found a cute gray skirt for my daughter at the thrift store for three dollars.  It was too short. To lengthen it I decided to add two ruffles. I cut a strip of coordinating fabric seven inches wide and long enough to go around the bottom of the skirt almost two times.  I  made a 1/4 inch rolled hem on one side. It is much easier to hem before gathering! On the other side of the strip of fabric I ran a zig zag stitch to reduce fraying and then I ran it through the sewing machine with the ruffler foot on.

I made a second strip of fabric five inches wide and did the same thing.  Then I sewed both ruffles onto the lining of the skirt and topped it with lace, just to add a pretty touch and to hide some of the rough edges.

All done!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Activity Day: Value of Education

For our activity day this week (girl's group ages 8-11) we talked about the value of education.  We used a quote from Pres. Hinckley that was shared in the 2007 General Young Women's Meeting:
Resolve now, while you are young, that you will get all of the education you can. We live in a highly competitive age, and it will only grow worse. Education is the key that will unlock the door of opportunity.
Don’t just drift along, letting the days come and go without improvement in your lives. The Lord will bless you as you make the effort. Your lives will be enriched and your outlook broadened as your minds are opened to new vistas and knowledge.

Once we talked about the value of education then we had some science fun!  We  mixed menthos with diet coke for a huge, gigantic, messy old faithful type eruption.  We made GAK and glow in the dark drinks and we blew up a balloon using a mixture of "chemicals".  We watched raisins dance and we saw how colors break apart using a coffee filter and crayola markers.

The girls giggled with delighted surprise when I got a face full of erupting coke.  They squealed at the icky texture of the GAK and they went back to look at themselves with the black light (used with the glow in the dark drink).  Hopefully, the girls went home with the idea that learning can be fun and with a reminder that education is a privilege and a wonderful opportunity.

Safety Tips:

The menthos & diet coke experiment makes a huge instantaneous explosion- do this project outside on the lawn and make sure that everyone stands back about fifteen feet.

Hint about GAK:  The recipe I used calls for Borax- which is toxic.  Don't eat it.  Don't let your girl's eat it.  Don't let their siblings eat it.  DON'T dispose of it down the sink either- they say this stuff will clog your plumbing.  After playing with the goo throw it away in the trash can!  Now go have some fun!


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Make a Photo Prop Banner

There are lots of different banners used in photo sessions.  I've noticed a huge variety.  I have made a couple in the past.  Then I saw some using simple muslin and I decided to make a few of those as well.  I'm sorry that these are not original ideas- they are copies of what I have seen around the web- with directions on how to make them for your photo prop stash.

The first banner is made by cutting out fourteen triangles.  Then place two together and sew them on top of each other with a simple zig zag stitch (just making them thicker so that they'll hang better).

 The "string" is made by cutting strips that are two inches wide.  Fold in half and zig zag the length of your "string".  Place triangles onto string and zig zag in place.  Leave the edges raw, show the stitching- it all adds texture.

The gathered muslin strip is made by cutting a strip of fabric three inches wide.  Sew a large width straight basting stitch down the middle, and then again one fourth inch from previous row of stitching- do not back stitch.  Then pull end strings to gather.  When it is a "ruffled" as you like, sew down the middle again using a small straight stitch.  Drape as needed.

Now, I really ought to quit playing with props and start learning how to take photos with some real people!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

How to Make a Photo Prop Floor

I found a box of flooring at my Habitat for Humanity Restore for a very nice price.  It was the snap together kind.  I snapped it up- actually it took a few grunts and groans to get it into the cart- that stuff is heavy!  I brought it home and snapped my tiny photo prop floor together and took a few photos.  I think I mentioned this before and you can see the floor below-

What I realized was that I would like to have a rustic white floor, too.  Yet, I didn't want to give up my "wooden" floor- so, I just flipped.  Yep, I took the floor apart, flipped over each plank, and painted the back white.  Now, I can use the "wood" side or flip over the planks and use the "white" side as needed (they slide together either way).  I guess this is an obvious solution- but it took me awhile to come up with it!  Here is a shot of my rustic white photo prop floor:

To paint the flooring I cleaned the plank backs with TSP.  Then I painted on a coat of primer.  Then I added a coat of eggshell finish white paint and I topped it all with a layer of brown antiquing wax.

This floor isn't perfect.  When I have kids on it, they wiggle and the flooring begins to slip apart.  But it is easily snapped back together.  Of course when photographing infants you don't have this problem.  To store the floor between photography sessions it is easy stack the individual planks- so they don't take up tons of room.

All in all I'm very pleased- two floors for $15!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Activity Day: Homemade Chocolates

With Valentine's Day coming up I thought it would be fun to teach the activity day girls (church group of girls ages 8-11) how to make homemade chocolates.  We used the delicious billionaire chocolate recipe and this chocolate peanut butter candy recipe.  I've made the billionaire chocolates before and they were a huge hit.  Make the filling balls small (nickel size or smaller) so that after dipping in chocolate they are the perfect size- if they get too big they are a little hard to chew.

I made the billionaire filling ahead of time and rolled them up all ready to dip into chocolate.  If you run out of time doing this activity you can send these home to eat without dipping them in chocolate- they are delicious as is!

While the girls were here we made the peanut butter filling and rolled both kinds of candy in chocolate. We got chocolate EVERYWHERE.... this may go down in history as the most messy activity day EVER!

We put some of the candies into little candy cups and the girls boxed up a few of their chocolates with a ribbon to give as a gift.  The other candies were placed onto a pink paper plate.

We ran out of time. Next time I'll make both types of candy fillings ahead of time.  This will allow them to firm up in the refrigerator before dipping in the chocolate.  This advanced prep might also allow us some time to put the finished chocolates in the refrigerator for a few minutes so that the chocolate is set before the candy needs to be transported home-we ended up sending home some very unique and interesting looking mounds of chocolate- but the girls were thrilled with their results.

For our spiritual message we talked about how important it is to follow directions when making a recipe.  We talked about how important it is to follow directions in life.  We discussed how we can find the directions we need in the scriptures, from our leaders, and from our parents.  We talked about My Gospel Standards and how they are a great "recipe" for life.  It was a yummy fun day although it destroyed my healthy eating plan for the day!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pecan, Apple & Spinach Salad

I had this salad for lunch yesterday.  It is one of my favorites.  The salad is made with a spring salad mix, baby spinach, chunks of apples, pecans, diced roasted chicken, and goat cheese all topped with Braswell's raspberry vinaigrette.  This very yummy salad dressing has sugar in it- but I still use it occasionally...mmm.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yummy Healthy Meals

I found out that I don't like roasted cauliflower last week.  The flavor doesn't dance on my tongue - it had a funny sweetness to it.  No, the flavor just kind of rolls over like a sluggish couch potato.  Ick.  However, in my experimenting I found a few healthy recipes that I do like.

Southwest Chicken.  I added about 1 t. chili powder and 1 t. cumin to the recipe and I chopped up the chicken when I served it- so it was kind of like a stew or casserole rather than a piece of meat with stuff on the side.   My husband asked that we have it again.

Beef Stew.  This beef stew does not have tomatoes and the other flavors really shine through.  Allow each person to season their bowlful with some of Jane's krazy mixed-up seasonings original mixed-up salt.  It is worth a trip to the grocery store to get this stuff.  SUPER good!

By the way, this salt tastes amazing on pot roast, too.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Product Reviews

I thought I'd share a two more wonderful products.  First, my husband put in a new disposal and this thing is awesome.  It can chew up anything.  It is the waste king L-8000 legend series 1.0 horsepower disposal.  It's a  nice kitchen upgrade that gobbles up all the carrot peelings when my husband makes me carrot juice... he's amazing.

Other products I love are the school uniforms from academy sport.  I LOVE school uniforms.  It takes the kids three seconds to get dressed for school, no tears and no stress (unless I forgot to wash them).  

At first I purchased their uniforms at Target.  I tried the Cherokee and the Circo brands.  Those brands didn't fall apart or get torn.  It's just that we have the world's hardest well water.  Every time I washed those clothes it was like they were getting sand blasted.  After two or three washes they looked like they had been well, sand blasted- like the clothes were fifteen years old, faded, ratty, ick.

This year we tried the Austin brand of clothes from Academy.  They were a little more expensive up front but somehow they have survived the sand blasting laundry much better and after six months are still looking pretty good!  But I need to buy some more today because Junior seems to have grown three inches and his little ankles are starting to stick out :o)

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Felt Embroidery Doodled Valentine Magnets

Surprise, surprise.  I did a craft project and it didn't have to do with activity days or anything- just made something for fun.  It has been awhile.

I made these little embroidery doodled Valentine hearts and then turned them into refrigerator magnets.  Here is how you do it.

Use a water soluble marker and draw a heart onto white felt.  Select your embroidery thread and doodle.  Cut out your heart.  Place onto red felt and cut around using your white heart as a pattern- leave a little bit of red showing to "frame" your stitching.  Sew your white heart onto your red heart.  Glue magnets onto the back of the red heart.  Display or give them to a friend.

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