Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cooking - Homemade Icee Syrup

Homemade Cherry Icee
Icees are so easy to make!  It seems CRAZY that I never thought to do a blog post about them until now!

Icee Syrup Ingredients
Homemade Icee Syrup

1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid (any flavor)
1 c. sugar
1 c. tap water

In a saucepan combine water, sugar and Kool Aid Powder. Cook over low heat until sugar is melted.  Stir.  Set aside to cool.  The syrup will thicken slightly as it cools.


Drizzle as much syrup as you like over shaved ice.

Ice shavers are cheap and easy to find.  I got mine from Target YEARS ago for less than $20.  It's so easy to operate that my kids use it to make icees for their friends.

You can use this syrup to make fruit flavored soda (pop if you're from the midwest).

To make soda, drizzle icee syrup over ice cubes.

Tropical Punch Soda

Fill the glass with seltzer or ginger ale

Homemade Soda Pop

YUMMY Fruit Flavored soda pop!


Use flavored seltzer for an extra kick!  I recently discovered coconut flavored seltzer.  It makes our homemade soda taste like the cream soda from my childhood!

Flavored Seltzer + Icee Syrup!

Homemade Red Cream Soda

Red Cream Soda takes be back to my 1978 at the Spring Mill Bible Camp canteen!!

For more recipes, click HERE!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

ReFashion Runway - Week #5 Boho Chic

Let's be honest here, i'm not even entirely sure what qualifies as Boho Chic!  But, when the Renegade Seamstress said that she wanted to see Boho Chic, I did my best.

This dress is actually a refashion of a refashion.

The "During" section of this dress was kind of a mess.  You see I purchased a very summery dress in the fall.  Here's the original dress.

Original Dress
I liked it but it was WAY to small in the chest area and WAY too big everywhere else.  My idea was to combine it with a fall top and make a fall maxi.

Proposed Top for my fall Maxi Dress
Also, because i'm used to buying lycra dresses that are too small and making them bigger, I was looking for a dress that had lots of gathers.  This dress had a giant gather in the front that I knew would make it much bigger.

The resulting dress was, in a word - UGLY!  I still kind of liked the skirt fabric but I HATED the top!  So I just set the dress to the side and trusted that I'd figure it out later.

A few months later an idea struck.  I could just cut this mess into a plain shift dress and be done.  I cut off the yellow top (I don't have the patience to use a seam ripper).

Giant gather in the middle became a cowl neckline.

Using an old dress as a pattern I cut the shirt into a dress.

After #2

New neckline
That large gather from the front of the skirt became a cowl neckline.

I like this dress, but for some occasions, it's WAY too much pattern!  I tone it down with a little sweater or shrug.

When I want to be a little more boho, I wear this dress with funky jewelry!

I made the earrings

Funky flea market necklace with homemade earrings

Because I work in a conservative kind of place I wasn't sure where (or if) I would wear this dress.  Recently some friends and I took a group picture for a game show we wanted to be on.  I told the ladies to wear something bright and festive.  This dress was perfect for the occasion!

For more Refashions Click HERE!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Matching Christmas Pajamas

Every year I give an overview of all of the places that you can find marching Christmas pajamas.  Recently I've noticed that I'm getting a LOT of hits from people using the search term "Family Pajamas" or "Matching Christmas Pajamas".  

If you just can't wait - here's the link to last years overview.

Otherwise, look to newly updated Christmas Pajama information in about a month or so.  Feel free to subscribe to this page so that you're notified when it gets posted.

Until then, enjoy the last days of summer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cooking - DIY Basil Paste + Easy Basil Chicken Recipe

Basil Chicken (made with Basil Paste)
Just a few days ago I stopped by the farmer's market on the way home.  I got yellow tomatoes, eggplant and fresh basil.  My entire kitchen smelled AMAZING!  I roasted the eggplant, tomatoes and a few other veggies to make delicious ratatouille.   The problem is that I didn't use all of the basil.

The next morning  my basil was looking a little blackish.

Day old Basil
 There had been some dark spots when I bought it, but this was CRAZY!  I didn't want to throw it out, so I decided to make it into basil paste.

Store bought basil paste
Let's be clear, I've NEVER made basil paste before and I wasn't sure what was in it.  As is my custom, I decided to just wing it!

My basil looked bad, but still smelled GREAT so I cut the basil from the stems.

Remove the stems
Then I rinsed the leaves thoroughly.

Thoroughly rinse the leaves
There was a LOT of sand in the leaves so I'm glad I rinsed them well.  I didn't dry the leaves, I drained them and stuck them in the blender.

Into the blender they go
I knew that they'd need some sort of liquid to get things moving in the blender to I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Not smooth enough yet
With the blender running I drizzled in approximately another 1/4 cup of olive oil until the mixture turned into a smooth paste.

Basil Paste!
That's it!

My original plan was to freeze the paste into an ice cube tray, but I couldn't find my tray.  So, I just put it into an air tight container.

Homemade Bail Paste
Because I wasn't sure how I would use it, I didn't add any additional ingredients.  This is just basil and olive oil.

NOTE:  The mixture was a soft paste when I made it.  Once refrigerated it thickened into a much more solid (but not hard) paste.

Serving Suggestions:
Use Basil paste on warm pasta, on garlic bread, in place of red sauce when making pizza.  You can also use it as a marinade for Basil Chicken!

A day or two later I decided to make

Easy Basil Chicken
My kids were away for the night so I made a small meal for 2
Homemade Basil Chicken
1 Large Boneless Chicken Breast Sliced
2 Tablespoons of Basil Paste
1 medium onion, chopped

Put the sliced chicken in a Ziploc bag.  Add chopped onion and basil paste.  Squeeze the bag closed until everything is well coated in basil paste.

Chicken and Basil in a ziploc bag
Return the bag to the refrigerator and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes.

Add the chicken, onion and basil to a non stick pan.  Cook over medium heat until the chicken is no longer pink and the onion is tender (about 10 minutes depending on the size of the chicken slices).

Basil chicken with ratatouille
I added a little bit of left over ratatouille.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over warn rice or pasta.

All done!
Basil chicken makes a GREAT burrito!  Roll warm basil chicken, rice and chopped mozzarella in a tortilla.  It's the best way to use leftovers!  

For more recipes, click HERE!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Refashion Runway - Week 4 (Maxi Dress)

This week i'm doing dual duty.  Not only is this a refashion, but it's also an ikea hack.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I saw this duvet at GoodWill and I liked it.  It wasn't until I began to cut it apart that I discovered that it was from ikea.

Turns out, this $7.99 duvet is actually an Ofelia Vass ($49.99) duvet from Ikea.  Who knew!?

Anyway - on to the dress.

This weeks challenge for the Refashion Runway was to make a maxi dress or shirt.  I'm a fan of the Maxi, but as a plus size girl it's hard to find a garment that has too much fabric.  In the absence of some obscenely long thing for me to cut into a dress, I opted for this duvet.

The dress is a simple design accented with a bright silk sash from a failed refashion that was on my sewing room floor.

I had a very general idea of what I wanted to make.  The most important thing to me was the lines.  I LOVE the lines in this fabric, and I wanted them to be horizontal across my chest and vertical in the skirt.

Sketch of dress
Here's what I did:

I measured the fabric around my waist, and added some extra.  I wanted a nice full skirt.

Next I measured around my chest and cut some extra because I knew that shirring the top would cause it to contract, making it smaller.  

Note:  I use to word "measure" loosely.  No actual tape measures were used in this process.

I started by shirring the top of the dress.

Shirred top

There are shirring tutorials in a couple of places on this blog.  The Ofelia Vass has natural seam lines, so I just shirred across the seams.

Next I gathered the skirt and added a waist band.  That's pretty much it!

I knew that I wanted a long dress with a train so I left this dress extra long for what wedding dress effect.

Failed Refashion
The sash of the dress was made from an old (failed) silk dress that I tried to make a while ago.  This dress never fit correctly, but I LOVED the colors!   So I cut the dress into wide strips and sewed them together.

The newly created sash was VERY frayed at the edged, so I singed them with a candle.

Before Singe 
Running the edges across the low flame of a candle sealed (and lightly curled) the edges.

After Singe
I could have sewn the edges, but I wanted them to be light and ethereal.  It was important to me that they blow lightly in the wind and I thought that sewing would make them too heavy.  Anyway, it turned out just fine.

The rest of this wedding set was stuff that I had around the house.

net mesh veggie bag became a veil
The veil was an old net mesh vegetable bag

Silk hydrangea completed the diy veil
The hydrangea was from a diaper cake that I made 3 years ago.  A little hot glue and voila!

Instant wedding veil
The bouquet is actually a bunch of old flower pens (I used to give them out when I sold real estate).  I taped pens together and wrapped them in strips from the dress that I used to make the sash.

ikea wedding dress and silk flower pens

It feels TOTALLY crazy to me that this entire wedding ensemble is made from things that were on my sewing room floor. (I REALLY need to clean!)

The purse is from Week #3 of the refashion challenge.

Refashion Challenge clutch

I made the earrings a while back as part of my (very brief) earring making obsession.

Handmade earring complete the look!

OK, so here it is, all put together.  

Wedding ready

Ofelia Vass wedding dress

Final Note:  After I made this dress I discovered online that J. Crew has a line of simple wedding dresses called Cotton Cady Wedding Gowns.  The gowns are all simple and beautiful.  They also cost like $700!  That's AMAZING to me!!!!!  Even if I had purchased this duvet for full price, this dress would have only cost like $50!!

For more Refashions, click here!