Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Pillows!

Last year at one of my favorite home decor boutiques I bought the most adorable pumpkin pillow. I loved it! This year, I wanted more than the one, but the $25 price tag (for the small one) stopped me short! Mine turned out just as cute, and I did the whole bunch for about $15.

What you need:
  • Fabric for the body of the pumpkin - I used home decor fabric remnants that I got for super cheap at the fabric and craft store. I used a half yard cut for the largest pumpkin, the smallest was about a quarter yard.
  • Fabric for the pumpkin stem - small scraps work great for this
  • Fiber-fill
  • Fabric scraps for bean bag - color doesn't matter
  • Rice or beans - for the bean bag
  • Coordinating fabric or ribbon for the bows around the stem

Here's what you do:

  • Cut two squares out of your body fabric roughly the size you'll want your finished pillow to be. The sides don't have to be straight, so just make a rough square shape.
  • To create the pleat, find the center of your square by folding it in half and marking it with a straight pin. Now, make an accordion fold on the left side, making sure the folded edge hits your center. Pin in place.

  • Do the same on the right side. You'll end up with something that looks like this:

  • Stitch over the pleat to hold it in place. Repeat the process on the second square of body fabric. Set aside.

  • Out of a coordinating fabric, create your stem. I cut my stems approximately 3" wide by 4" long. With the right sides together, sew around three sides of the stem, leaving the bottom open.

  • Turn the stem right side out and stuff with fiber-fill.
  • Take one square of your body fabric and place it on your work area, right side up. Pin your stem to the body fabric and then place the second body piece and place it on top (right sides together). Pin in place.

  • Leaving an opening at the bottom, sew the 3 pieces together. Stitch in a rough pumpkin (oval or circular shape). You'll have something that looks like this:

  • Trim the excess fabric:

  • Turn your pumpkin right side out. Stuff with fiber-fill and set aside.
  • To help the pumpkins stand, you'll need to create a bean bag. Taking your fabric scraps, cut a rectangle or a square that is slightly smaller than the length of your finished pumpkin. Leaving an opening to fill it, sew around the edges.

  • Fill with rice or beans and then sew the opening shut.
  • Place bean bag inside the pumpkin and hand stitch the opening shut.
  • For the bows around the stems I took a length of fabric about 3" wide and sewed down the long end. Once sewn, I turned it inside out and then sewed the two ends closed, making a long ribbon out of the fabric. Of course, a cute ribbon would work just as well!

Enjoy creating your very own pumpkin patch!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Potty Prizes!

We've been potty training again, which is why I've been noticeably absent from the blog lately. Potty training has been consuming a lot of my time. OK, maybe it's not all potty training, but the moping of the floors (yup, we've had accidents - thank goodness for tile!) and the inevitable loads of laundry that goes with the potty training. Thankfully, it looks like we've got the hang of it and that it's going to stick!

I freely admit that I bribe her to potty on the potty. I figure it's a short term loss, long term gain thing. Plus, a little sugar is a fantastic motivator! Pixy Stix are a favorite of hers, but carrying them in my purse doesn't work (purse full of sugar powder, anyone?). I had a stroke of genius at the Dollar Store the other day (oh, how I love you Dollar Tree!).

This little plastic pencil case is the perfect Pixy Stix holder! It's rigid enough that they won't get bent and broken in my purse, it's the right size, and it's light enough that it doesn't add too much weight to my already stuffed purse.

Perfect for our potty prizes on the go!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yummy Cheese Soup!

It's officially fall! Even though we've still got a couple of weeks here before it'll finally start to cool off a bit, I figured I'd post one of my very favorite soup recipes in the hopes that I'll be in the mood to make it here soon!

Easy Cheddar Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk
1 pound shredded Cheddar Cheese
Fresh Broccoli, chopped (optional, about 2 cups worth)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in flour and cook until the flower and the onion mixture are thoroughly blended.

Add chicken broth and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly. Add milk, broccoli and carrots (if used) and heat just to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese. Once cheese is melted, remove from heat.

It's such a yummy soup recipe, and really easy, too! It's good as just a cheese soup, but I like it best with the broccoli and carrots. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Birthday Present

This birthday present was inspired by a post I saw in the gallery at 2 peas. I love it, so I had to try my hand at it!

I bought the frame at the model home sale I went to a couple of weeks ago (loved it!) with the intention of using it for this project. I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit inside the mat. I made a heart template out of a piece of cardstock and then positioned it on the paper and traced around it with a fine point felt tip pen.

The chipboard dots and jewels are "Rock On Chip Plates" from Prima (they came from the craft store). They are self adhesive, so I just started sticking them down to fill in the heart outline. I added a couple of yellow buttons, too.

Once the heart was filled in, I stamped the name and est. date on a scrap piece of cardstock, added a bit of trim and popped it into the frame.

I'm wishing I bought enough to make one for me now!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cricut and Today's Mama Great Escape Meme Contest

Do you have a Cricut machine and love it (and want more cartridges)? Do you want one for your very own? If so, this is the contest for you!

I have a Cricut machine and use it for lots of things. I'm seriously in love with the thing! I use it for paper crafting, scrapbooking, homeschooling, sewing, decorating - you get the idea. Today's Mama has teamed up with the folks at Cricut again and are giving away a choice of fantastic prizes - either a Cricut machine or all 4 of the new cartridges. How's that for a prize!? You can see all of the details here on the Today's Mama site or go check out the Cricut site here. Basically, to enter, you copy and paste the Great Escape Meme from the link above, create a blog post about it and then send an email to the folks at Today's Mama with a link to it. Easy, peasy.

Here goes:

Great Escape Meme

This is a contest entry for those crazy folks at TodaysMama and Cricut. Be sure to check out Cricut's cool new cartridges and the chance at $30,000 in travel for you and your friends at the Great Gypsy Escape site!

1. If you could escape to anywhere in the world where would it be?
I'd head to the UK. I love England and have always wanted to go to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I'd love to spend about a month exploring!

2. What song do you play when you are by yourself in the car?
Viva La Vida by Coldplay and Cowboy by Kid Rock are my favorites!

3. If you had a night to yourself, and money was no object, what would you do?
I'm easy - I'd go to the movies and see a chick flick. (the 8 or so movies I saw in the theatre were rated "G")

4. What is your guilty pleasure?
Fountain soda and quilt fabric. I can't get enough of either!

5. What is the farthest place you have traveled away from your home?

6. Last book that you couldn't put down?
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer. It's not a literary classic, but it is a
fun and entertaining read!

7. When you want to escape into another time, what movie do you watch?
I really enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl and The Duchess. Fantastic sets and costumes!

8. What is your favorite local escape?
We are loving the community pool just down the road that is like a mini water park! It's great
fun and we can all get in to play all day for less than $5!

9. How do you escape on a budget?
We stay at places that have a mini fridge and bring our breakfast and lunch stuff (like bagels
and sandwich fixings) and snacks. Doing this vs eating out saves us a bunch!

10. Best food you've ever had while on vacation.
Hands down, Paella in Spain. I ate it for practically every meal when I was there and have yet
to find any in the States that tastes as good!

So, there you go. If you decide to play along, leave a comment with a linky. I'd love to read yours!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I love coupons!

Shopping with coupons is so much fun! No, really - it is! I got a coupon high after grocery shopping today, so I figured I'd share!

I used to do the Grocery Game, but then I figured it was silly to spend money on a program that's supposed to save money, so now I do it all myself. On Wednesday when the new grocery ads come out I sit down with them and my coupon binder and make my shopping list. I have a pretty good idea of what's a great sale price for most items, so that helps a bunch.

This week I spent the bulk of my shopping money at Fry's. They are doing quadruple coupons (up to $0.25, so that coupon for $0.25 off is now worth $1.00) and they are accepting store coupons from other stores. That's a great thing! Today, I got a cart full of groceries and my total before sale prices and coupons was $121.40. What I actually paid was $43.26, so I had a savings of $78.14 after sales and coupons. That's 65%! For our family of four, I usually spend about $150 every two weeks. That includes everything - food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, cleaning stuff and health and beauty stuff.

When something is cheap, I buy a bunch of it so it will last us until it goes on sale for super cheap again. This obviously requires lots of storage space. I'm pretty lucky in that I've got a really big pantry, a big laundry room where I've got an extra fridge and a freezer in the garage!

Here's what my pantry looks like:

It's big and I love it! I've got everything in here from food, extra health and beauty stuff (in the baskets) and big kitchen gadgets. It's pretty well organized (most of the time anyway!). I make sure to rotate my stuff when I go shopping, so I've never got old stuff hanging out in my pantry. FIFO - first in, first out.

I have a love/hate relationship with my coupon binder. I love it when I'm shopping and see my total going down on the register, but when it's time to clip the coupons and file it away, I hate it.
My binder is pretty well trashed, so it's time for a new one. I'm thinking this time around I'll make it pretty with my scrapbook supplies.

The inside is filled with trading card and photo pages that came from Wal-Mart. The trading card pages are for the small coupons, the photo pages are for the enormous ones!
Want to learn more about shopping with coupons (and not have to subscribe to a paid service)? Check out Hot Coupon World. Tons of info there!