January 30, 2013

A Heart-Stitched Baby Rag Quilt {Tutorial}


I recently made a crib sized rag quilt for a friend's baby shower. It is very similar to this rag quilt that I've blogged about before, except that instead of the usual "x" each square is quilted with a happy little heart. 


Several of the fabrics I used are from the "Seaside Cottage" collection by Heather Mulder Peterson.

To start, you will need to cut 70 seven-inch fabric squares and 35 six-inch squares of quilt batting.


Sandwich a piece of batting between two squares of fabric. 


Pin together and stitch big ugly basting stitches across the whole thing in an "x" pattern.  These stitches are just to hold everything in place for now and will be removed later.


Continue with the rest of the squares and batting until you have 35 basted little fabric sandwiches.


To sew your squares together, place the squares back to back (so, the fabrics you've chosen for the backing will be touching each other and the fabrics you've chosen for the top will be facing out) and stitch about 1/2" from the edge.


You'll have something that looks like this....


Continue sewing the squares together into 5 strips of 7 squares.


And then sew those strips together the same way!  Don't forget to put the back sides together when you sew. If you regularly sew things other than rag quilts this will seem backwards to you since you are so accustomed to putting the right sides of a garment together.  I confess I had to rip out and re-sew a seam or two because I had absentmindedly sewn the strips together wrong!

Sew all the way around the outside edge of the quilt too, 1/2" from the edge.

Next you will take a sharp pair of scissors and a couple episodes of your favourite television series and sit down to snip all of your edges so that your seams fray up nicely.  Be careful not to cut any stitches!


Cut a cute little heart from a piece of cardboard and use it to trace a heart shape in the middle of each square.


And quilt along your pencil lines.  Here is a youtube video showing you how to do a quilting stitch.


Remove your big ugly basting stitches and you're done!


I gave it a wash and a dry in the dryer to fluff up the raggy edges a little bit and remove my pencil lines.  And because it was a gift I put a few drops of lavender essential oil on my wool dryer balls when I dried it so that it would smell super nice.  




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January 16, 2013

Maple Pecan Granola


I love the ease of granola for breakfast. I love the crunchy sweetness. I love that everybody in the family eats it happily without complaining. I love that my older children can serve themselves while I nurse the baby and sip my coffee.

And I love that this recipe is so simple that I can make it from memory in my groggy pre-caffienated state.

This recipe makes enough for our whole family to eat it for breakfast twice if served with yogurt, fresh fruit, and a tiny bit of self restraint! 

 In a mixing bowl, combine:
  • 3 cups of old fashioned or "large flake" rolled oats
  • 2 cups of chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (super-duper good for you and available at health food stores and well stocked grocery stores or online here)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
In a small pot, combine:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • a splash of vanilla extract
Heat until the coconut oil has melted.


Pour wet ingredients over the dry, and stir.


Spread granola out on two parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a 300 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until fragrant and slightly golden brown.


The trick to perfectly cooked granola is to remove it from the oven just before you are convinced it is done, because it will continue to cook a little even after you've removed it from the oven.


Cool completely before moving to a tightly sealed glass jar. 


Serve sprinkled on yogurt, alone as a yummy crunchy snack, or in a bowl with milk.


Enjoy!

 Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

January 14, 2013

How to Clean your Baseboards


Before I tell you how I make my baseboards shine I want to tell you this: cleaning the baseboards is an entirely optional chore.  It can wait.  If you are stressed out and overwhelmed and barely have time to take a shower, please don't let this post add one more thing to your mental to do list. Just go browse pinterest for cake-in-a-mug recipes or polka dotted anything.  That's an order.

That said, cleaning baseboards is a quick and easy task that really makes a room sing.  Your walls and floors will look cleaner.  And, once done,  it stays done for a while...which for a mom with a house full of young kids and a never-ending barrage of laundry and dishes to clean, that sense of completion is a welcomed one!

To start, give the baseboards a quick sweep with a mini handheld broom.  If you don't have a little broom like this, a clean paintbrush will work too.



This will remove the dust so that it doesn't just get pushed around with your cloth.

Next, wipe the baseboard with a cloth dampened in a solution of warm water and dish soap.  If your trim is wood instead of painted you may prefer to use a wood cleaner for this step.


Make sure that your cloth is well wrung out so that it doesn't leave a lot of moisture on the trim.

Finally, take a cotton swab dipped in your cleaning solution and get into the corners.


I also like to dust off the top edge of all of my electrical outlets as I go, the tops of those manage to collect a lot of dust.


Then stand back and admire your job well done.


See, I told you that was easy!

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January 9, 2013

{Tutorial} Easy DIY Bean Bags

Today's post is a guest tutorial by Becca from Making Room With Us. Make sure to go visit her blog after you're done here. Enjoy!

A simple cloth sack filled with beans could be your child’s new favorite toy! Bean bags are easy to make, the materials are practically free, and they provide hours of good fun for imaginative children. I grew up making bean bags with my mom on her sewing machine and then inventing endless bean bag games with my siblings. One year we made bean bags from Fourth of July-themed fabric to play outdoor games at an Independence Day party. Some moms also put them in their freezers to use as “boo boo bags” for their children’s bumps and scrapes.

While visiting my parents in Virginia recently, I made a few bean bags for my own daughter, Lena, who is now 21 months old. Although she couldn’t help me too much (ha!), it was fun to capture our first bean bag-making session for this tutorial.

Here’s a step-by-step guide so you can whip up a few bean bags of your own!

You will need:
  • Two 4.5-in x 4.5-in squares of material of your choice for each bean bag
  • 1 cup of beans, rice, seeds, popcorn, or glass bead filling for each bean bag
  • Measuring cup
  • Funnel
  • Needle, thread, and scissors

Start by putting your two squares of fabric with right sides together. Pin them in place. Then sew around the square with a ½-inch seam allowance. (You don’t want any beans slipping out one day because of a narrow seam allowance!)


 Allow your child to help out with the sewing part if you like. I still have memories of sitting on my mom and grandmother’s laps as we worked on the sewing machine. I almost sewed my fingers a few times, but it was worth it!


Leave a 2-inch (or so) gap at the end of your sewing. You’ll use this hole to turn the bean bag right-side out. Also be sure to back-tack a few times at the beginning and end of your sewing to reinforce this seam.


Now turn the bean bag right-side out. Use your finger or a blunt tool to poke out the corners.


Now comes the fun part! Measure out a cup of the filler of your choice (beans, popcorn, rice, seeds, etc.).


Put the tip of the funnel inside the hole in your bean bag and pour the filler into the top of the bean bag. Little hands love to help with this part!


The bean bag should be ½ to ¾ of the way full. Tuck the edges of the seam in the hole and pin the hole closed.


Using your needle and thread, whip stitch or slip stitch the seam together. Make tight little stitches to keep any beans from slipping out.


And now there’s nothing left to do but go invent some bean bag games with your kids! Have fun!



Becca lives in Sicily, Italy, with her husband, daughter, and their Maine Coon kitten.  They are expecting their second child at the end of this month!  She loves waking up each morning in an Italian villa just below a thousand-year-old castle.  She blogs about motherhood, homemaking, and living abroad at makingroomwithus.blogspot.com.

January 8, 2013

An Organized {and Girly} Closet for Two

We've begun finishing our basement to make more room for our family and my two oldest daughters now share a room down there.  In our hurry to get things done we didn't do much with the closet except put up a closet rod.  But I love a nice, tidy, organized closet and theirs was anything but.  They needed storage they could reach (and some the couldn't!) and a way to each have their own little section of the shared closet.

Luckily, I have a husband who can come home to a doodle that looks like this:



And using melamine shelving and some quarter-round trim, turn it into this:


I used inexpensive cube bins at the bottom to store shoes and accessories.



Large baskets at the top store seasonal items and extra linens.  I printed each child's initial using this vintage monogram from The Wedding Chicks, mounted them in white frames and adhered them to the front of the baskets.


The frames are attached to the baskets by string laced through holes drilled in the back of the frame.  I just tuck the strings between the basket weave and tie them tightly together on the inside of the basket.


My favourite part is the memo boards I made so that the girls could display cards and crafts they want to keep.  I spray painted a couple cookie sheets white and lined them with pretty chevron scrapbook paper to make magnetic memo boards.  I added some push pin magnets and screwed the memo boards to the closet with discreet white screws.


I love how neat and organized it is and my daughters love each having their own little space.


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January 5, 2013

Yummy, Easy Spelt and Buckwheat Pancakes


Our family is abstaining from sugar and common wheat for 30 days to help retrain our taste buds to want real, nourishing, nutrient dense foods (a.k.a: something other than Christmas cookies) and also to help me get over the I-don't-know-what-to-make-for-dinner, let's-just-have-pasta frump I've been in as of late.

And after a week of green smoothies and eggs without toast, I felt my family deserved a sugar-free, sorta wheat-free (Spelt is a close cousin to common wheat.  It counts for our wheat-free month because I'm in charge and I'm making the rules...) Saturday morning treat.  So I made pancakes.  (And bacon, and coffee, and orange juice. All while hubby was still rousing from his slumber.  Where do I pick up my wife of the year award?)

I think I actually like these better than pancakes made with normal wheat flour.  They are light, airy, and easy to make. Oh, and delicious!


Spelt and Buckwheat Pancakes
(makes 12 to 15 good-sized pancakes)

In a mixing bowl combine:
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
In another bowl, stir together the wet ingredients:
  •  2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk (or if you don't have buttermilk substitute milk soured with a splash of lemon juice)
  • 2 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • a splash of real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter (I just melt it in the pan while I wait for it to preheat)
 Stir wet ingredient in to dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

Heat a buttered cast iron skillet (or whatever skillet you have, although cast iron is the key to perfect pancakes...in my opinion) until very hot and add about 1/3 cup of pancake batter.  Cook until large bubbles start forming near the center of the pancake, flip and cook the other side until browned. Continue with remaining batter, periodically greasing the pan with more butter.


Enjoy!
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