Sunday, June 30, 2013

4th of July Onesie

Inspiration struck for GiGi's 11 month onesie for my onesie project. She hasn't quite hit 11 months yet so I haven't done her pictures but since the 4th is coming up, I thought I should post the project a little early in case you're looking for a little inspiration yourself!

This is another one of my raw edge projects so I intentionally left the raw edges of the fabric out so that it would fray and soften up in the wash. 

I put this on a onesie for G but you could easily apply this same idea to a kid's or even an adult t-shirt by adjusting the size. Check out how I put together this adorable American flag onesie!

What you'll need:

  • a scrap of lightweight fusible web (e.g. "wonder under")
  • a scrap of red fabric
  • a scrap of white fabric
  • a scrap of blue fabric (with stars if you can find it)
  • fabric marker or marking chalk
  • a onesie or kid's t-shirt

Step 1: Cut out the fabric pieces

To fit on my onesie, I cut my flag pieces 4"x6". I cut one piece of lightweight fusible web, one of my white fabric and one of the red fabric. I ironed the fusible web to the back of the white fabric. 

 fusible web

white and red fabrics 

Step 2: Sew the "stripes" 

To make the stripes on my flag, I stacked the red fabric on top of the white fabric--right sides facing up on both. Using a fabric marker, I drew a line horizontally every 1/2" on the red fabric. I sewed the piecies together along the lines to create the stripes of my flag. (You'll cut into these in a second.)

 horizontal lines drawn on the red fabric

the stripes sewn (backview)

Step 3: Attach the "stars" patch

I cut a small scrap of blue fabric 2.5"x2" If you've read about my other onesie project posts, you'll know that I've tried to use scrap fabric for all of my projects. This time I really wanted a blue fabric with stars so I indulged on a $1 fat quarter for this one. 

Sew the blue scrap in the corner of the flag using a 1/8" seam allowance. 

Step 4: Fringe the raw edges

Using a small sharp pair of scissors, cut between your sewn stripes to reveal the white fabric underneath . Snip the fabric vertically as close to the seam as you can every 1/4" or so to create a fringe affect. Do the same around the blue fabric. Don't snip the out edges quite yet. 

 seperating the fabric between seams to create your stripe 

fringing the fabric along the seams 

Step 5: Attach the flag to the onesie

Center the flag and place it about 2" below the neckline. Pin the flag in place and sew it to the onesie along all four sides. Fringe the seam along the outside edge. 

Step 6: Wash the onesie once or twice to fray the fabric

Wash and dry the onesie once or twice and you you'll start to see the stripes reveal themselves more and more. Check the flag out after you've washed it the first time and see if there are any areas you want to trim up and fringe again if the white isn't showing through. 

That's pretty much it! Adorable!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Apple Craisin Coleslaw

Week two of our summer CSA and another lovely box full of green things. This week we had some pea greens, Nevada lettuce and a head of cabbage. Cabbage is a vegetable I struggle with. I've roasted it, steamed it, and eaten it fresh but I haven't quite found that eureka! recipe for it quite yet so I decided it should be my chosen vegetable for this week's CSA recipe. 

We hosted some friends for a grill-out so, while coleslaw isn't exactly original for cabbage, it seemed like a good pick for this week. 

Apple Craisin Coleslaw
click above for an easy print recipe

1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
2 medium apples, diced
1/2 to 1 cup of craisins
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip
2-3 TB sugar
2-3 TB lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Chop green cabbage to a relatively fine dice. Julienne apples to fine pieces. With a whisk, whip together Miracle Whip, sour cream, and sugar. Whisk in lemon juice until light and fluffy. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix cabbage, apples and craisins together. Stir in dressing until you get the consistency you like. Garnish with chopped nuts if desired. 

What else was on the menu? Burgers, fruit and dip, chips and old-fashioned lemonade!

Nothing like a big fat grilled hamburger!

Some CSA lettuce topped off our burger garnishments

Old-fashioned lemonade is one of my favorite summer treats!

Super Simple Old-Fashioned Lemonade
yields 2 quarts

Juice 5-6 medium-sized lemons and set juice aside (aim for about 1 cup for 2 quarts of lemonade). Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat it up to a boil until sugar is totally dissolved in the water. (You've just made simple syrup!) Allow to cool. Combine cooled simple syrup, lemon juice and about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of cold water in a pitcher. Test it to make sure it's the right balance of sweet and sour for your taste. Top with ice and serve. 

Easy Fruit Dip

This is one of my favorites! Just whip together 8 oz of softened cream cheese and a 7 oz jar of marshmallow creme. Done! 

If you want to be fancy about it, you can whip in a small can of crushed pineapple or really any other crushed fruit to flavor it. (If you want to be REAL fancy about it, serve in a cored out pineapple or watermelon for a bowl.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Potluck Day!

I work with these amazing people. Really. We've had some crazy times in our office. Really. Somehow we manage to stay sane and keep it together. One of the ways we cope and celebrate whenever we have an excuse is to host a POTLUCK! 

Not from the midwest? Potlucks are part of our culture! Everyone brings a dish to pass and you spend the day chatting and grazing (I mean...working). You never know what you're going to get, but I tell you, the folks in our office take potlucks to a new level! Every event is an opportunity to display their incredible creativity and originality so I thought, wouldn't this make a great blog post?! (...and I don't even have to do the cooking!)

So here it is... check out a typical potluck day and some great recipes from some pretty incredible people.
Click the titles below the pictures for easy-print recipes.

Homemade Soft Pretzels by Joel with dip from Wildtree

Even the gentlemen get in on the action in our office. No one can compete with the breadmaking mastery of Joel. These awesome little pretzel bites were as beautiful as they were delicious. For a twist, Joel made the pretzels into 1x2 inch pretzel bites so they were perfect for dipping.

Isn't quinoa (keen-wah) just the "it" food right now? Fiber, iron, lysine and protein--this supergrain is taking health food markets by storm. Combine it with some other super foods like spinach and almonds and a touch of sweet yogurt, lemon and cherries and it's a perfect trendy treat. 

It just wouldn't be a midwestern potluck without some "bars." [insert Minnesota accent here] We always invite our students to join in and chow but never expect them to spend their time and money on feeding us pros. Our sweet student Sarah shared this awesome treat with us--a nice twist on a Reese's and so much better!

We have a few staff members who work from off-site offices in the Minneapolis metro area so sadly they're usually not able to participate. Fortunately for us this potluck was to welcome a new member of their team so they drove up to join us (...for training, not just the potluck). To continue the healthy options, Angie brought this super healthy layer dip (served with sliced cucumbers) and Jess brought a delicious fruit salsa with cinnamon-sugar pita chips. Sure glad they could be here!

Jess's Fruit Salsa

2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and diced
8 oz raspberries, diced
1 (16 oz) carton of strawberries, diced
4 tsp Truvia, or other natural sweetener (original recipe called for 2 TB white sugar & 1 TB brown sugar)
1 TB raspberry jalapeno preserve (original called for 3 TB fruit preserves, any flavor)

Serve with cinnamon pita chips!

Nina's Mango Pineapple Fruit Salsa

What did I bring? Apparently Jess and I were on the same wave so often happens with potlucks! I brought a spicier version of fruit salsa with my Mango Pineapple Fruit Salsa.

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced (about two cups)
2 medium mangoes, peeled, cored and diced (about two cups)
1/2 small red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small jalapeno, diced (take out the seeds and ribs for less spice)
2-3 TB chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Adjust ingredients to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors combine. I served with multigrain tortilla chips but it's awesome with pita chips, on top of salads or chicken or white fish. 

There were at least another half-dozen items shared by the team but I didn't get a chance to capture them all... guess that means I better make this a series. :)

Thanks everyone for sharing your recipes with me! 

Can't wait for the next potluck! You know, the 4th of July is coming up. I smell a red, white & blue theme. Just saying... 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Grilled Romaine with Balsamic Reduction

We joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) four summers ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We belong to Bluebird Gardens out of Fergus Falls, MN. We bought a membership and every week we pick up an awesome box full of vegetables picked at the peak of perfection and full of healthy, straight-from-the-ground nutrients. Our farmer Mark and his crew are amazing! Each week he sends an awesome email describing the activities of the farm and what we'll find in our boxes. It's amazing to actually connect with the very people who produce your food and know all the love and care that they put into it. If you have the opportunity to buy into a CSA, do it! You won't regret it. 

Soapbox speech done... onto the good stuff. So this being the first week, we received these beautiful babies:

The biggest head of romaine lettuce I've ever seen and a head of bok choy. I didn't want to start out with just an ordinary lettuce salad so when I heard the idea of actually "grilling" lettuce, I was intrigued and put my grilling hubby to the test. 

Here's how: Grilled Romaine

I read a few different recipes and recommendations for how to actually grill the lettuce and settled on doing it this way. I took off the outer loose leaves and saved them for a plain old lettuce salad. I washed the lettuce under nice cold water inside and out the best I could. I dried it off well by rolling the head in clean towels.I cut the tight part of the head of lettuce in half through the stem. I rubbed the flat sides with olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper and a bit of garlic powder. 

Place the flat sides of the lettuce down on a hot, hot grill and just give it a minute or two to char. Flip the lettuce on all sides for a quick char and you're done! The grilling gives the lettuce a nice grilled flavor and brings out the sweetness in the lettuce. It was a fun way to prepare it and a beautiful way to present it if you want to get a WOW out of the crowd. 

But what to serve with it? Ordinary salad dressing seemed a little silly with such a beautiful presentation and since we were serving it with steaks, I decided to try my hand at a balsamic reduction (... doesn't "reduction" just make you sounds like a chef?)

Here's how: Balsamic Reduction

Combine 2 cups of balsamic vinegar and four tablespoons of brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it rock until it has reduced by half and sticks to the back of a spoon. 

You're going for the consisistency of syrup. It will thicken up a bit once it has cooled so be careful not to overdo it or you'll have a sticky mess. 


It can be stored at room temperature so put leftovers in an airtight container. Yields about 1 cup of glaze. 

What did we serve with our grilled romaine? Steak of course! Awesome organic grass-fed ribeye steaks from Lynn Brekke's farm. (Yeah, we're those people.) Mmmm... some grilled peppers and onions and grilled asparagus. 

 To grill the peppers and onions we just thinly slice the vegetables and toss in olive oil and season with S&P and cook on a lovely grill pan. 

Grilled asparagus... I think we eat it at least weekly in the summer. Trim off the hard bottoms of the asparagus and lay flat on a cookie sheet. Toss a little olive oil on them, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and squeeze a little lemon juice on them. Grill for just a few minutes on each side and squeeze a little more lemon juice on them before serving. Don't overdo the grilling. Asparagus tastes best when it's just a little softened and not mushy.

 Beautiful little babies. My hubby is a rockin' griller. 

Here it is! Grilled romaine with peppers and balsamic reduction. Not bad for week 1.

Friday, June 14, 2013

DIY Scrabble Picture Frame

Lauren is my crazy talented photographer friend and someone who really just inspires me. She is magic behind a lens and captures expression like no one else I know. She also happens to be a rockstar gift giver. For Father's Day, her very lucky hubby will be receiving this beautiful picture frame with a beautifully captured daddy-daughter moment with her sweet daughter "P". When she shared the photo with me, I just had to ask her to write a guest post so here it is! 

DIY Scrabble Tile Picture Frame

Hi thatssewnina readers!  I am so honored to be guest posting here on the blog!  It’s my first post on someone else’s blog, so bear with me.  Nina saw a project I had done for my husband for Father’s Day and asked if I would do a guest post… and of course I said yes!  It’s a quick project and super easy.  I originally found the idea on pinterest.  The original pin had no instructions, so hopefully my little tutorial will help you out.

Here's what you need:

  • A shadowbox – I got a 8x10 from Hobby Lobby.  All frames were 50% off this week, or you could use their coupons.
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Scrabble Tiles – I ordered mine from Ebay to get the exact letters I needed.  You could sort through an old game OR check out the Hasbro website.  They sell refill kits for $7.99 on their site. 
  • A pic of your little one – ‘Daddy’ and ‘Daughter’ worked out well for a 5x7 picture in an 8x10 shadowbox.  Other words may fit better on a 4x6 photo if they’re shorter.

Here's how:

All you have to do is disassemble the frame and adhere the photo and tiles directly to the mat.  I used hot glue.  You could also use superglue.  Elmer’s or school glues may not work as well due to the velvety texture of the mat.  Reassemble the frame and voila!  Perfect gift! 

Other ideas for scrabble frames:
Mommy & Me
Grandma (or Grandpa) and Grandson (daughter)
If your child has a name that starts with an M, D or G, that could also work well.  IE Mommy & Margie, Grandma & Grant, etc, etc. 

Thanks for letting me share my project!  Hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DIY Word Art

Just in time for Father's Day! A fun DIY project. 

My best friend in the whole world is having brain surgery... yes, brain surgery. She is very light-hearted about the whole thing but I suppose all of the wonderful people in her life can worry enough for her. She is a wonderful godmother to my girlies so I thought it would be fun to put together a little get-well gift that the girls could participate in (well, kinda anyway). (P.S. Out of surgery and doing fine, I hear)

You can ignore the religious context of my project if you like and imagine a canvas full of all kinds of words to inspire! Family, friendship, happiness, peace...whatever you like! This would certainly be a fun project for Father or Mother's Day. 

Here's how: DIY Word Art

What you'll need:
  • an art canvas (size of your choosing)
  • a bunch of alphabet and/or shape stickers (you're just going for an outline here so color really doesn't matter)
  • a few coordinating paint colors
  • something small with a hard edge (like a credit card or old hotel key)
  • a utility or craft knife

Purchase a canvas at any craft or art store along with your choice letter stickers. This is a GREAT way to use up some old mismatched stickers if you have them. (Vinyl type stickers over papery stickers work best as I'll explain later.) I decided to turn mine into a easy-replace picture frame with the use of a clothespin but you could certainly skip that and just do words or embellish in other ways like fabric flowers or a mirror. 

Place your letter stickers all over the canvas in whatever arrangement you like. Feel free to use shapes in addition to words.  (Flowers, circles, etc. I used some of the extra punctuation stickers since alphabets were all I had.) Remember that we are just using the outline of these stickers so the color of the stickers really don't matter. Swipe a credit or something with a hard edge across the stickers to make sure they are securely on the canvas. 

Squeeze some small blobs of paint around the canvas. A little goes a long way so don't go too crazy to start.

This is the part I was hoping the girls could participate in. Curly Girl got one finger in the paint and ran for her life. I tried to get GiGi to place a neat hand print under the space for the picture and she got paint EVERYWHERE!

Using your edge, swipe the paint around in different sections of the canvas in all different directions. Blend it together and play around with it until you get something you like. Keep adding blobs of paint as you go to get the color where you want it.

Don't forget to paint the edges of your canvas.

Here's my painted canvas! Let the paint dry thoroughly.

Using a knife, beginning picking at the edges of your stickers to lift them off of the canvas. Tip, I seemed to have the most luck when I peeled up at least a full edge of the letter before trying to peel the sticker off. Some of my stickers were a more vinyl material and others were a more absorbent paper sticker. If you have the choice, the vinyl stickers peeled much more easily.

Peeling the sticker off.

You're going to find that the paint does bleed into the edge of your letters. I like the raw look of this but if you don't, I was able to scrape off a lot of it just using the edge of my knife. I'm sure there are some painting tricks to avoid this (like try painting your whole canvas white and letting it dry before placing other colors over your stickers).

To finish it off, I painted a clothespin to match and hot glued it in the center of the canvas. I found a quote sticker I really liked so I also stuck that on my clothespin. Now Godmother can easily switch out pictures as the kiddos grow.