Monday, February 23, 2015

Sewing: PlusSize Refashion

Ok refashion friends, can we have a frank talk about plus size refashioning?  I buy most of my refashion projects at thrift shops.  I LOVE thrift shops but most of the clothes are NOT plus size.  Sometimes they are and that's great, but i'm more likely to find a dress that's too small than I am to find one that's too big.

In my opinion its WAY easier to make a dress smaller than it is to make it bigger.  In this blog post we will learn how I turned a teeny tiny print dress into a cute skirt for myself.

Size petite Small
Lets back up for a minute.  Here is where this dress started.

Starting materials
I found a print that I LOVED in a dress what is WAY too small.  This is a maxi dress size petite small!  I am a size 16/18.  I'm short but not small.  Here's what I did.

Step one:  Find fabric that you like.  Ideally something stretchy.  A dress (or skirt) with pleats works GREAT.  Those pleats mean that after you cut the dress there will be more fabric than you think.

Step two: Before you buy a too small dress you need to figure out if it could potentially fit you.  So, try it on as best you can.

Me squeezed into a too small dress
I squeezed into this dress the best way that I could.  I pulled it over my head and slipped one arm out an arm hole.  As you can tell from this shot there is enough fabric to wrap around my body.

Step Three:  Buy the dress and take it home.  Smart shoppers will know to buy refashion items on sale.  If the refashion doesn't work you're not out too much money.  I purchased this dress for $4.25 at Good Will.

 Now that you own it, cut the dress.  Simply cut off the parts that make it too small.  I've done this before so I know exactly where I need to cut on this style of dress.

Before the Cut

After the Cut

  I basically cut off that teeny tiny bodice, leaving just the skirt.

Step Five:  EXPERIMENT!  I like this fabric a LOT but I need to find a way to wear it that i'm comfortable with.  So - I tried it all different ways!

Look #1 - 
This is the dress with the bodice cut off.  I like the fabric but I'm not a skin tight dress kind of girl.

Just the fabric

 Look #2
This is the dress with a little sweater. 
Dress with a little sweater
Look #3
This is the dress with a wrap top.

Look #3 is my favorite and the way i'm most likely to wear this dress.  This look covers my hips and is appropriate for work.  It's a look that pairs well with heels for flats.  It's comfortable and flattering.

Step Six: Road test the look.  Before I cut this dress off and make is a skirt, i'll wear it to work just like it is.  I need to know how the fabric will behave during my normal work day.  Will it twist or bind?  Will it ride up?  I don't know.  So this outfit will have to go to work one day so that I can see.

Step Seven:  Complete the look.  Once I determined that my new skirt is comfortable, it can be cut into a skirt with added elastic or left as a dress.

Finished Skirt!


*  For a straight (more fitted) skirt use a straight cut dress.

*  For a more flared skirt use an A-line dress.

* Both of the dresses referenced in this blog as made from stretchy lycra fabric.  I LOVE this fabric because it's easy to work with, it's comfortable and packs easily (just wash and wear).

*  I almost always go prefer patterned lycra.  Because lycra clings to the body it can show every figure imperfection.  When the garment has a pattern the imperfections disappear!

For more ReFashion Tips, click HERE!

HELP - My Sink is Clogged!!

There are simple clogs and complex (deep pipe clogs).  This blog will cover how to repair a simple clog.  For information on more complex clogs click HERE.

Yesterday the boys let me know that "something" was wrong with their sink.  That's code for "we put something in the sink and now its clogged."  My sons are pretty famous for clogging plumbing fixtures so his announcement was no surprise. 

A few years ago we built the kids a play restaurant that included fake salt and pepper.  I have reason to believe that the beads from the salt and pepper ended up in the drain.

Those little beads should not have been enough to clog the drain.  Beads + hair + god only knows what would have done the trick!

ANYWAY- this clog is an easy fix.

All you need is a little drain cleaner tool.

Zip It drain cleaner
This little tool is available everywhere.  I got mine for about $2 at Home Depot.  Its sometimes called "Zip It" drain cleaner.  There are a bunch of different names.  Look for it in the plumbing aisle.

Start by threading the cleaner down the drain. 

Push it in as far as it will go.

 Now work the cleaner back and forth while running hot water.  The idea is to break up the clog so that you can either pull it out or wash it all the way down the drain.  Hot water will help to melt greasy clogs.

Continue working the cleaner in and out of the drain until the clog is cleared.

The little teeth on the cleaner may catch hair or other goo from the drain.

Hopefully this method does the trick.

Let he hot water run for a few more minutes and you're all set!

For more home repair tips and tricks, click HERE!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cooking: Homemade Sausage

Homemade Sausage

Never in a million years would I have thought to make homemade sausage.  That's just crazy talk!  Then I saw Rachel Ray make it as part of a 30-minute meal.  Sausage in less than 30-minutes.  Hmmmm!  The idea intrigued me!

Turns out, homemade sausage is REALLY easy to make.  "Sausage Spice" is just a mixture of seasonings and herbs.  Add that to meat and voila - you've got sausage.

There are a TON of sausage recipes on the web and I can't recommend one in particular.  About a year ago I discovered a sausage spice that I REFUSE to live without!  It's called Frying Pan Pork Sausage Spice.   I buy it from a spice shop near my home.  They're NOT paying me to recommend them (oh lord how I wish they would - they could pay me in spices!).   This stuff is AWESOME!  

Even though their sausage spice is good, I still add to it.

Sausage tips:
- use any raw ground meat you like (we like chicken)
- use spice as directed!  Too much and your sausage will be too salty
- don't be afraid to toss in some herbs
- DO NOT use an entire egg.  Use only the white OR the yolk - NOT BOTH.
   (egg white holds the meat together and doesn't change the flavor.  Egg yolk gives the sausage a deeper, richer, flavor).  It's good either way.

Kathy's Chicken Apple Sausage 

1 lb ground chicken (or any meat you like)
1 Tablespoon Frying Pan Pork Sausage Spice
1/4 cup applesauce (any kind is fine.  Homemade works great)
1 egg white (or 1 egg yolk) NOT BOTH
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

Optional add in's
1 Tablespoon fresh or dried parsley (optional)
1/4 small onion (finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon dried chives

SPECIAL NOTE:  If you decide to leave out the applesauce, you can leave out the egg.

Mix everything together in a bowl and allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.

Form sausage into patties and fry in a pan over medium heat.  Do not over cook.  Be careful not to press the sausage too much.  You don't want to dry it out.

Serve hot with your favorite breakfast foods.


* Add a teaspoon of Sausage seasoning to homemade pasta sauce for a delicious kick.
* Sausage is even better the next day because the seasoning have had time to set.
* Add left over sausage to pizza, sauces or gravy

For more recipes, click here!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Homemade Pizza Making 101

homemade pizza
For month's I've been promising to update my blog post on pizza making.  It's so super easy and delicious!  I can't believe that it took me this long to get around to it.

Pizza at our house in one of those mommy's tired, quickie, week night meals.  With a little practice you can easily make homemade pizza any night of the week.

In this post I will cover:  homemade crust, homemade pizza sauce, variations on homemade crust and other pizza making tips

First, the crust

Basic Homemade Pizza Crust

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of dry yeast (that's 1 little envelope)
1 cup warm water (NOT HOT)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Just stir with a fork until it's blended.  In a large cup combine water and oil.  Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir into a dough.  Your dough may be a little lumpy.  That's OK.

freshly mixed dough

Allow the dough to rest in the mixing bowl for about 15 minutes.  (You can use this time to make the pizza sauce)

Rested dough
Pre heat the oven to 400.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (I use my cutting board, but you could also use the counter top).  Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).

Turn rested dough onto floured counter
Knead until smooth and elastic

Kneaded dough - Ready to Roll

New pizza makers can cut the kneaded dough ball in half and make 2 pizzas.  It's a little easier to handle that way.

Once the dough is kneaded, use a floured rolling pin to roll out the crust to your desired  shape and thickness.

Flour a rolling pin and roll your dough
Ready for the oven
Place dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. 

Remove the cooked crust from the oven, top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings.

Baked crust - ready for toppings

Fresh from the oven

Bake again until the cheese is melted.

Voila PIZZA!

Slightly cooled and ready to eat!

OK.  So now that you know how to make a basic pizza dough, we can change things up!

My family LOVES a honey oat crust.  The honey oat has more fiber and a hint of sweetness.  The basic dough recipe came from the 1950's Betty Crocker Cookbook.  Honey oat is my own spin.

To make Honey Oat Pizza Crust, you all the directions listed above.  Here's the recipe

Honey Oat Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of dry yeast (that's 1 envelope)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water (NOT HOT)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Mix the flour, oats, salt and yeast.  In a big cup stir together water, oil and honey.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Then follow the directions listed above.

Cooks Tip:  Measure the oil first, then use the same spoon to measure the honey.  The oil will coat the spoon and allow the honey to slide off more easily.

Cooks Tip:  Honey Oat dough tends to be wetting and thinner than regular dough.  It's easier to mix and knead.  You will need to a little more flour than normal to knead.  Also be careful that you don't poke a hole in it while placing it on the pan to bake.


Homemade Pizza Sauce

Pizza (or pasta) sauce is SUPER easy to make!  It's also super easy to buy.  So if you happen to have a jar of your favorite sauce lying around, by all means, use that!  If, however, you want to go with homemade, it's really very simple.

This sauce can be made with either tomato paste or tomato sauce.  I prefer paste because I can make the sauce as thick as I like.  It you've got tomato sauce on hand, use that.  The recipe listed below calls for tomato paste and water.  If you're using tomato sauce, don't add the water.

Basic Pizza Sauce

1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 c water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-small onion chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar to taste

Saute the onion in the olive oil until the onions are transparent around the edges. 
Stir in everything else.  Simmer 5 minutes over low heat.

Cook's Tip:  for thinner sauce, add more water
Cook's Tip: other optional add in's (fresh basil, garlic powder, red pepper flake or sauted shredded carrots

Sauce variations:  One of my kids HATES veggies.  I hide them in the pizza by adding shredded, sauted carrots or chopped spinach to the sauce. 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 Simple Valentines Day Crafts

1.  Set a nice table with napkins folded into hearts!

It's easy.  Here's how!

2.  Leave a love trail for a child, friend or a love!

3.  Create a festive atmosphere with Valentine inspired centerpieces!

4.  Leave Love Notes!

1 pack of pick post-it's makes this craft! 

5.  Make a heart healthy snack!

Check the cake decorating aisle for small heart cutter

6. Bake a simple heart shaped cake

1 square cake pan = 1 round cake pan = heart

7.  Strawberry Crepes for Breakfast!

 Here's the recipe for crepes!

8.  Make Button Art

9.  Enjoy a little Valentine Pizza

Check the cake decor aisle for tiny heart cutter

Buy pre-made pizza dough, crescent rolls or make homemade.

10.  Make Heart Shapes Crayons

Melt broken crayons in a silicone mold

Click HERE for more Crafty ideas!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cooking - Brown Sugar Cake for 1 (with Frosting)

Brown Sugar Mug Cake and Frosting

Real talk - Sometimes you just need a little cake.  Not a lot of cake.  Not cake for the whole family.  Just a little bit of cake to get you though the day.

I've made snack cakes for years.  That's nice when I want a little cake for all 5 of us.  This recipe makes enough cake for just 1 person.

Brown Sugar Cake for 1 (with Frosting)

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon oil
drop of vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Mix everything in a bowl
Pour batter into a small microwave safe container.  I use a 4 oz mason jar.

Ready to bake
Microwave for 32 seconds (Based on a 900 volt microwave).

This recipe makes what looks like a tiny bit of batter.  Don't worry.  The batter will double in size when baked.

Unbaked batter

Fully baked batter

Now set the cake aside to cool and make frosting.

Frosting (for 1 cake)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon soft butter (NOT melted)
1/2 teaspoon milk
1 drop of vanilla

Using a fork, mash powdered sugar into the butter.

Work the butter into the sugar
Add the milk 1/4 teaspoon at a time.  Frosting will be stiff.

Mash butter into powdered sugar
Stir in vanilla.  Believe it or not, that tiny bit of vanilla will make the frosting smooth and easier to stir.

Once the cake is cooled completely, frost the cake.

Bakers Tip:  If you frost a warm cake, the frosting will melt into the cake.  (Some people like it like that.)

Dessert! (or breakfast)
One of my favorite things about this little cake is that it fits easily into a lunch bag.

Nutritional Information:
Cake:  Calories-156, Carbs-25, Fat 5, Protein 3, Sodium 246, Sugar 12
Frosting:  Calories 154, Carbs-24, Fat 6, Sodium 126, Sugar 23

Save a few calories by sprinkling the cake with powdered sugar instead of frosting.

For a chocolate mug cake, CLICK HERE!

For mug brownie, CLICK HERE!

For more recipes, CLICK HERE!