Learning each and every day

My quest to edify myself a bit every day

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Day 220 – July 29

I’ve been wanting to make a weighted doll for quite some time, but I never actually got around to it because I couldn’t find a doll big enough that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. A friend posted a tutorial on facebook and got a doll from Wal-mart for about $12. So, I decided to give it a try. It happened today because I’ve having a babywearing meeting tomorrow and need to have a demo doll ready in case the toddler didn’t want up in a carrier. Nothing like a deadline to motivate a project!

Here are the steps as I did them:

  • Remove the head by snipping the zip tie. Cutting the zip tie off proved to be a challenge. I don’t think I had the correct tool, at least not one small enough. I ended up chopping it off with some specialty pliers.
  • Stuff 4 kiddie socks with rocks to use in the arms and legs. (I used river rocks instead of BB’s because they were waaayyyy cheaper!) Stuff a 5th one with a little more for the butt.
  • Tie a knot at the top of the socks with some thread to keep the rocks from falling out.
  • Insert the socks into the arms, legs and butt. I tried just wiggling the socks down into place . . .that was not working well and do I gave up. I found it was much easier to remove the stuffing from the doll, insert the socks, and then restuff. I didn’t end up needing to add extra stuffing, maybe because the rocks took up more space than the bb’s?
  • Weight the head. Here is where I ran into trouble. I bought this expandable spray foam, and filled the head about halfway. An hour later, it seemed to be curing well, so I added a few rocks. Nope. . . they sank to the bottom, and the foam seemed to deflate when the rocks came into contact with it. I shook the head around to make sure the rocks weren’t at the bottom, added some more spray foam, and let it sit for about 2-3 hours. The big that was right neat the opening was dry . . . the rest, not so much. So I just dumped the rocks in, making sure they didn’t sink to the bottom, and then set the heads outside to see if that would help the foam cure better. They were outside for about 3 hours, and still not much drying took place. It has now been 7 hours and it’s still not dry. I don’t think the rocks are going anywhere, but the spray foam is not curing. I’m going to give it till the morning. If it’s not totally dry, I’ll just put a piece of tape at the base of the head and proceed to finish the doll as follows.
  • Pull out the old zip tie and insert the new zip tie.
  • Place the head back on the doll.
  • Situate the head so that the zip tie is right in the groove, then tighten it up, cutting off any excess.

That’s it! A weighted doll. I actually did two because my 3 year old insisted that A) she wanted a big doll (it’s about 20 inches and really looks real!) B) she wanted it weighted. Maybe she’s going to “help” me with the carrier demos? Who knows. Anyway, so now we have two dolls that weigh probably about 4-5 pounds, but it’s dead weight, so it feels more like 8-10 pounds.

We’ll see how well the doll works tomorrow!

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Day 219 – July 28

Today my learning wasn’t something new. It was something I “learned” about two years ago, but apparently I didn’t actually learn it because I could do it about two weeks ago. “It” was using a narrow hemmer foot. I can use all of the other hemmer feet and LOVE them. The narrow one works a bit differently, at least the way you insert the fabric is a bit different. I had figured it out two years ago and thought it was amazing. But when I went to do it a few weeks back . . . big. fat. fail!

Fortunately, I remembered a video I had seen on the blog Brian Sews that showed how to use the narrow hemmer foot. I pinned it to make sure I wouldn’t lose it again. I sat down and watched it again, and I was able to get it to work. I’m not going to lie, it was not easy. The fabric kept slipping out, or I wouldn’t get it fed through far enough for the feed dogs to pick it up. Then I ran out of bobbin thread so I had to get everything set up again. Honestly, I’m not sure it was faster to use the attachment, but with practice, it will definitely be an amazing little tool.

If you are wondering what kind of a hem it does, here’s a pic. It’s very narrow, like an 1/8 of an inch.

Day 218 – July 27

Project run and play , in conjunction with Simple Simon & Co. is hosting this great project this month called “Skirting the Issue”. The idea is to make a bunch of skirts that will then be donated to girls in foster care. The babes and I have been meaning to whip up a few to send in. .. that hasn’t happened yet. Since the deadline is August 5th, we’ll definitely be working on this next week. Both blogs have been featuring some great skirt tutorials, and I’ve pinned a bunch on my skirting the issue board. One that I pinned was by LiEr, who blogs at Ikat bag. Her blog is full of great tutes, not only for sewing, but cardboard projects, birthday party themes and all sorts of other crafty things. The crafty stuff is fun, but not something I’ll likely ever do. (Heck, I can barely keep up with all of my sewing projects!) I really like her blog for all of the sewing tutes. It’s a nice mix of stuff for kids and stuff for adults.

The tute I worked on today was one she did for the Skirting the Issue project and it’s a wrap around skirts. I’ve always been a fan of wrap-arounds, and I was in need of a long black skirt for a concert tomorrow. I wanted something that would fit now as well as after the baby arrived. A wrap-around seemed like the perfect fit, and this tute made it look pretty easy.

The verdict: well, it would have been easy if I would have done it the was LiEr did it. I didn’t, so it took a bit more work, but it wasn’t difficult by any means. I used a very thin, black gauze-like fabric. I figured one layer would be way too thin, so I decided to go with two layers. The bottom layer is about 8 inches longer the than top layer. Looking through my trim box, this trim jumped out at me and screamed “ME ME ME!” So I used my handy edgestitcher and sewed it on. (Seriously, it’s an amazing attachment!)


Rather than pressing the side hems and sewing them, I used my hemmer foot and hemmed each layer separately. That meant that using the tutes method of attaching the ties would have resulted in a funny look. So I just slipped the tie in between the two layers and stitched it down.

All told, it took me about 3.5 hours, which included copious breaks to deal with the babes. So, really, when we make this skirt for the project, it should go MUCH faster since I won’t be using two layers.

I will say that I’m only so-so pleased with how it turned out. I LOVE how the trim looks, and really like the two layered look. The fit is another story. The side seams aren’t quite where I would want them to be, and I end up having to tie more towards the back. I’m glad I didn’t spend the money to make this out of brocade, I would’ve been upset. The pattern was good and easy to follow, the measurements and placement for the darts didn’t really work for my body, so I’ll be fiddling around with modifying that for the next time.

Here’a a pic of the finished skirt. I tried to take pics of some of the other details. Thanks to my junkola camera and my inability to photograph a black skirt, the pics didn’t turn out.

Day 217 – July 26

I tend to be a paranoid parent. I’m always checking and double checking that I have my keys when I go outside. I always like to keep my babes close. I worry that they’ll disappear in a crowd. That they’ll run out in the street. That they’ll mysteriously disappear. That they’ll drown. I suppose some of these fears are founded and some aren’t.

Today, I learned that the drowning fear is pretty well founded. Did you know that African American children are three times more likely to drown than any other race? I discovered this while watching an Olympic preview on NBC. There was an interview with an African American swimmer who has made it his goal to teach young black children to swim. I was really shocked when the statistic was stated. Why would one race be so much more likely to drown than any other race? If it’s a matter of lack of funds for swim lessons, there are poor people in every race. I can’t remember who did the research, maybe U of Connecticut? Anyway, some people there conducted some interviews trying to find out why so many black children don’t know how to swim, and consequently drown. Even when offered free lessons, many parents turned them down. The biggest reason . . . . they have a fear of drowning. Quite ironic.

The report told of a family that lost three boys in one day. They had gone to a river with some other friends. One friend got in and shortly thereafter started drowning because the bottom fell out from under him. Three boys jumped in to save him, even though none of them knew how to swim. The story ended very tragically with the original boy being saved by someone from a different party, and the three brothers drowning, while the adults in the group looked on helplessly. And I say helpless, because none of them knew how to swim. Just heartbreaking!

I still don’t know why this population is more likely to have unintentional drowning deaths than others, but it’s really strengthened my resolve to expose the babes to water and teach them how to be safe in the water.

Here are two webpages with info on the drowning rates:

The CDC
An organization called wee-swim.

Day 216 – July 25

Today I decided to try out a white chocolate mocha recipe. I happened to find some white chocolate chips at Aldi’s, and had all of the other ingredients on hand. Plus, when I was at a conference a few weeks ago, someone highly recommended the Starbucks white chocolate mocha. I was pretty happy to find this recipe for a Starbucks knockoff drink.

I think maybe I shouldn’t have used the cheapy white chocolate chips . . . they didn’t melt all that well. Yes, they melted, but there were definitely little pieces that didn’t melt. I also used cheapy Taster’s Choice coffee. I really need to get some better coffee. But, it was really pretty yummy, despite the problems. Since it was 102 degrees today, hot coffee just wasn’t all that appealing, so I poured the coffee into ice cube trays and froze them. That was a mistake. Once I partly thawed them so that I could whiz them up in the blender, the texture was just weird and it didn’t taste as good.

I’ll likely make this again, I just won’t be freezing it. Maybe I’ll do it iced, but not frozen.

Day 215 – July 24

Apparently I like to sew bags. I’ve made a bunch of bags this summer, and today I added another to my arsenal. I’ve had this insulated bag from the sew mama sew blog pinned for a few months, but didn’t have time to try and make it until today.

I think this is a project that will be filed under the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” tab. I loved the idea of having an insulated bag for my perishable groceries. We only live like 2 minutes from the grocery store, but sometimes we go to several stores or have several errands to run. This summer has been insanely hot, so this insulated bag was very appealing. The main problem with the bag is that it is ENORMOUS! I mean, huge! My 2yr old can sit in the bag, with room to spare.

If you fill the bag up, it’s very heavy. I had 2 gallons of milk, some cheese and various other diary products in it today. The bag was heavy and cumbersome to carry. When I was making the bag, it occurred to me that it might be heavy, so I added some padding to the straps. The padding was definitely not enough. In addition, the handles were just too narrow to be able to comfortably support the weight. I think the bag would be more useful if it was smaller. It did a great job of keeping things cool, it was just too, too big.

Sewing up the bag was another story. Two layers of insul-brite plus one layer of home dec fabric is alot of fabric to sew through. Quilting that much fabric is also a giant pain! Even using a walking foot didn’t keep the fabric from shifting around. I decided to leave an opening in the outer fabric rather in the quilted layer. The thought of sewing 6 layers closed was rather daunting. Also, after I finished the bag, I realized that the straps would need some major reinforcing in order to support the weight of a filled bag. So I x-boxed the straps. Yeah, I sewed through 8 layers of fabric. Fortunately, my Necchi Supernova is awesome!

Anyway. The bag will definitely get used. But, if I had it to do over again, I’d make it considerably smaller, I’d x-box the straps before the bag was complete, and I’d make the straps much wider with more padding.

Day 214 – July 23

I have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. Every time I pass by I think that a coffee beverage would be lovely. Then I go and spend $4 for a drink that ends up being highly mediocre. It just seems like it should taste WAAAYYYY better than it actually does. When I ran across this recipe for a frapuccino from the blog Chocolate covered Katie. When I realized that I had all of the ingredients on hand, I just had to make it, right then and there. Plus, I was intrigued by the option of having a drink that was actually yummy and not crazy expensive.

I used skim milk, cheapo instant coffee, white sugar, vanilla, homemade hot chocolate mix and salt. I waited somewhat impatiently for everything to freeze, and then whizzed up a batch. I ended up having to add milk so that the blender could actually blend, but, it was VERY yummy! I’m now dreaming up other flavors that I could make. I made a version for the babes today, caffeine free, of course: milk, chocolate syrup, leftover fresh blueberry syrup, chocolate chips . . . . it disappeared in a flash! I did take pics, but they didn’t turn out so great, so you’ll just have to imagine!

Day 212 & 213 – July 21 & 22

July 21 – Last weekend, the kids went to a birthday party and got party favor bags. I’m usually not a fan or party favors . . .they tend to be low quality toys that get played with for a few hours, and then just junk up my house. This particular bag was pretty good in that it had a little activity book, sunglasses and a giant balloon. The balloon was one of those with the rubberband attached to it so that you can then punch the balloon. I went to blow it up and it was NOT easy. Then, I remembered seeing something on Pinterest on how to blow up balloons. So, we tried it out. Here’s what we did.

Put about 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a bottle.
Dumped a bunch of baking soda into the balloon.
Placed the balloon over the bottle and tipped it over allowing the baking soda to go into the bottle.
This caused a reaction that caused CO2 to flow up into the balloon, thus blowing it up.

The kids thought it was pretty cool. It was. The only drawback was that not all of the baking soda made it into the bottle as it got clumpy. This meant that the balloon didn’t get blown up all the way, so then I got the pleasure of blowing it up and tasting the vinegar/baking soda mix. Blech!

The Pinterest pin claimed that this was a great way to blow balloons up for a party. I’m not so sure that this is more convenient than just blowing up the balloons . . . it’s certainly more time-consuming.

July 22 – Blueberries were on sale at Meijer’s, so we bought a bunch. The babes love to eat them for a snack. Even so, we still had a bunch left over. I had a hankering for some sort of breakfast cake, and I pinned this recipe from The Newfangled Housewife. I liked it because it was quick, somewhat healthy and easy. Our square pan has seen better days . . it’s all rusty and gross on the bottom. My 5 year old wanted to use the snowman baking pan, so we did. They turned out great, everyone loved the bread/bars and made for a yummy breakfast!

Day 123 – April 23

So I started this post 3 months ago, and then totally forgot to upload the pics and actually post it! Oops!

We just got back from a little extended weekend outing. I flew solo with the three babes, which was quite the adventure. To make things easier, I thought it would be wise to have a variety of activities for the babes for the plane. I wasn’t particularly interested in lugging all of their stuff around, and their toddler backpacks were too small. Sooo, I decided to make them messenger bags. I found this tute over at ikat bag I made a few modifications. Rather than using webbing for the strap, I made a fabric strap. I wanted to add a zippered pocket, but I didn’t have time. I did, however, manage to add a mesh pocket on the side for their water bottles. They picked out their own fabric, and I think they turned out pretty well. From the first cut to the final stitch, it took me about 4 hours, so not too bad, especially with all of the interruptions.

And, here are a few pics.

And a little mesh holder for their water bottles.

Day 210 – July 19

I’m a couple of days late posting this one. Pasta is a staple in our house. But sometimes, I just get tired of the same ol same ol pasta with sauce. DH could eat is every day. When he used to work in an office, that’s what he took for lunch every day: a pound of pasta and a jar or two of pasta sauce. (Yeah, he LOVES pasta.) Anyway, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting, even uninteresting pasta recipes, so long as they are new.

Today, I tried a super simple recipe. Pasta with a butter garlic sauce and cherry tomatoes. It was a huge hit! Everyone gobbled it up and there was nothing left! That’s a winner in my book! I found the recipe on the blog Goddess of Scrumptious Recipes and pinned it on my entrees board.

The rest of my family doesn’t eat chicken, so I didn’t do the chicken part. But, I bet the chicken part would have made it even more delectable. I added extra garlic, cuz we like garlic. McKay’s fake chicken seasoning doubled for the chicken stock and I didn’t have parsely, but I didn’t really miss it. Next time, I’ll use alot more basil, maybe double or triple the amount. The flavor of the basil was so faint, I like it to be more obvious. No matter, it was still a yummy recipe!

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