Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sewing - How to thread a sewing machine

You've accomplished Parts One and Two, and now it's time for our last segment of this 3 part mini series.  Are you ready to start sewing?  I bet, so let's begin!

The final steps before you sew, is to thread your sewing machine needle.  While is this rather challenging the 1st few times, after you do it, it's no sweat.

I think everyone has their own little way of doing this, but the premise still stays the same. I start by placing my thread into the spool holder at the top of the machine.  Make sure to secure with the spool holder, cap, thingy.  I'm real technical...can't you tell :)

Move the lose thread from the spool, to the left hand side of your machine.  You're about to thread your machine.  Wee...

To the left, then down, around the pin...

Now down the "shoot". I believe this is known as the "Tension" but again with the technicalities.  FYI:  Most sewing machines these days have the instructions marked on the machine for reference.

Now before you move your thread back up the other side, you'll want to pull the hand wheel towards you to raise the hook.

Hand Wheel (On right hand side of machine)

Once the hook is raised, go back up the tension, and place your thread over the hook and back down the other side.

Once more, you're going to turn the hand wheel towards you. This will raise the needle. This is optional, but it's easiest if you have your needle to be up as high as it can go.  

Take a quick look at your thread, before we go to the next step.  Is it frayed?  If so, go ahead and snip the end with scissors.  Now that it's straight, go ahead and thread your needle, going directly through the front of the eye of the needle (or the hole), and pull a few inches of thread off to the left.

Holding onto the thread you just pulled to the left, move your hand wheel towards you once again, so that the needle goes directly down into the machine, into your bobbin, and pulls up your bobbin thread.

Continuing to hold onto the thread, pull your hand wheel towards you once again.  As the needle raises, it will pull the bobbin thread up.  Pretty cool!

Now you can slowly pull your bobbin thread out, and to the left.

I didn't photograph it, but to start sewing, you will want both thread pieces placed behind the needle.  So you're shifting the thread a full  90 degrees to your right.  Make sense?

Okay...then there you have it.  Time to start on that 1st project!

One last piece of advice?  When you start sewing, make sure you raise and lower the sewing foot.  If you have any questions, just ask!

Hope this series has helped and gotten you well on your way.  I'd love to see pictures of your 1st projects, just send them my way!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Braciole alla Panna (Pork Chops in Cream Sauce)

This recipe is ridiculous!  I'm not even kidding you...
This is one of the best pork chop dishes I have EVER made!! 


I found the recipe here.  She is amazing!  
The only change we made to this recipe, was to omit the mushroom's. 
We're not a 'shroom loving fam, but other than that...don't change a thing! 

You'll Need:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
1 cup Marsala wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
8 ounces button mushrooms – sliced

(Recipe is presented in her words)

What to do:
1. Into a saute pan add butter and oil and heat over medium heat until butter has melted. Add pork chops. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides. Turning as necessary. Transfer pork chops to a plate and keep warm.
2. Into your hot pan add Marsala and deglaze pan. Cook until wine has reduced in half. Place flour into cream and mix together. Add cream mixture to pan and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and continue cooking on LOW for approximately 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through and sauce has thickened. Then, return pork chops to pan. Turning to coat.
Buon Appetito!

This is an amazing "go to" recipe!  I have been making this dish over and over for the last 8-9 months, and it still knocks our socks off every.single.time!  ENJOY!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sewing - How to Insert Sewing Machine Bobbin

This is Part II of the Mini Sewing Series.  For Part I, please reference here.

Today I'll be showing you how to thread your bobbin into your sewing machine to start sewing.

You'll Need:
A full bobbin
Bobbin Case

To get started, you'll want to have your full bobbin and bobbin case handy.

The bobbin case looks like this:
You're going to keep this side up, while sliding your full bobbin into the center of the case, keeping a small thread dangling out.  Slide that thread into the slit on the bobbin case.  Like this:
With the dangling thread, slide it directly under the middle metal casing, until you hear it click
It should look like this:

Now it's time to place it into your machine.  Keeping this side up, push the bobbin case into the compartment
Viola!  You have successfully inserted your sewing machine bobbin.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sewing - How to Thread a Bobbin

Okay, so let's be truthful here...  I am not a seamstress, but in this day in age, people are reverting back more and more to the DIY's of the "olden days".

From what I've observed, sewing seems to be hitting a lot of these DIY categories lately, and I absolutely love it!  Sewing is a craft that will be around until the end of time.  So if you're curious as to how to get started, I've put together a three part mini sewing series to get you moving on your way.

Today we'll be going over how to thread your bobbin.

You'll Need:
A sewing machine

To start you'll need to put your thread onto the thread spool of the machine, and feed the thread through the tract.  Every machine is different, but most beginner ones look like this:
Over, down, then around the silver piece, and to the right.
With the dangling thread, poke through one of the holes in your bobbin.
Leaving the thread poking through the hole, wrap the opposite end around the bobbin several times:
You just need a tiny bit left at the top so it doesn't unwind itself.
Now on top of of your machine, there is a bobbin winding mechanism.  Place your bobbin in that, and lock into place.  With your left hand, gently hold the lose thread.  Press down on the machine's foot pedal, and watch your machine work it's magic!

When the bobbin is full, your machine will stop.
Viola!  One filled bobbin.

*Note - Please be aware that anytime you change your color of thread, you will have to change the thread on your bobbin to match.  Just an FYI'er*

Training Pants/Panties - DYE 'em!

As I've mentioned before, my wee one has very sensitive skin, but we've been successfully potty training, and she's graduated from wearing diapers to wearing training pants & panties full-time.  

Reasoning?  They don't make sensitive Pull Up's/Easy Up's.  Why is this?  Your guess is as good as mine!  Huggies...Pampers...Are you listening?!!  Hear my cry!!

So, it was time to get down to business, before the business took care of me.  
Quite literally.

The only training pants we've been able to find locally, (without spending a gazillion dollars), are the regular ol' Gerber training pants.  They're great.
No...really they are, BUT they're sooooo boring!  Zzzz...

Plain white?! What little girl wants to walk around looking like she's in tighty whities all day?
Even if she's only 2.  Her Momma wants much more for her than that! 

My solution?  Dye them!

I have never taken on such task, so we're going to go through this trial and error process together.  The outcome!  So worth the time!!  Seriously...her little tush looks so cute in these!

You'll Need:
2 Package's of your favorite Training Pants
Rit Dye
Large Measuring Cup
Large Stock Pot
Metal Spoon
Whisk (Optional)
Hot Water
1c. of Salt
Old Towel
Latex Gloves or Food Service Gloves

To start, you're going to fill your stock pot with really hot water from your sink.  Bring to an under boil (just below boiling) on the stove.

Once pot is just under boiling, turn it down and let it simmer, while you create your dye mix.

To do this; 1st cover your counter surface w/ an old towel or wax paper.
Also, when working with dye, it's best to use gloves, so go ahead and put those on too.

Take 2c. of very hot water, 1c. of salt, and the entire package of Rit Dye Mix.  Give it a good stir with your whisk or spoon, and pour the mixture into your simmering stock pot.

Make sure to scrap all the salt out of the bottom, then stir the two mixtures together.

Now over to your sink.  I put the stopper in the bottom of mine, to save on water.  Then doing a few at a time, laid them in to soak.  Make sure they are completely submerged.

One at a time, squeeze the excess water out, lay flat, so there are no wrinkles, then gently place into your stock pot.

Continue with the rest of the pants until they're all in the dye bath.

You'll need to continuously stir for 30 min's, or until desired color is achieved. I soaked mine for 16 min's.  How's that for precision :)

Now it's time to rinse.

Move your hot pan over by your sink.  With your tongs (The water will be very hot.  Do not just reach in!) pick up a pair of your pants, and transfer them into your sink.  


Run under warm water until water runs clear.  Then again in cold.


I did them in stacks...So all of them went under a warm bath, then cold bath.

Do this with each pair of pants.

After you've fully rinsed them.  Wring out the access water, and lay flat.  SO pretty already!

 Now you'll need to find something to lay them on, to transfer them to your laundry station.
(I used a plastic grocery bag)

Launder separately.  I washed twice.

Viola!  Adorable little undies taylor made - Just for you!
  Now how cute is that?!!

What I love even more about this project?  It's versatile, and is perfect for boys and girls alike!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kit Kat Cake Tutorial (BONUS! Spider Web Tutorial)

For one of my baby's 1st birthday cakes, we made a Kit Kat Cake, and it has become quite popular with friends and family, so I'm here to share a "How To" with you today.

Kit Kat Cake

You'll Need:
2 Pre-made 8" round cakes
1 can of frosting
1 tube of frosting in a different color (or you can pipe it)
Food Coloring
11 Kit Kat's (Takes 9.5 to cover the cake, but you want extra in case of breakage)
Large Knife
Cutting Board
1 Family Size Bag of Candy for Topping (M&M's, Jellybeans, raisins, nuts, you be the judge)
Ribbon to wrap

Spider Web

You'll Need:
Cake, Cupcake, Pie...Really anything that can have an added surface
Additional color of frosting, chocolate syrup, again...you be the judge
Spaghetti Noodle (Skewers works great too)
Decor (optional)

Today I'm going to show you two different techniques.  One is how to create a spider web, which is so fun!  I am asked almost every Halloween how I make my spider webs, and it's soooo easy!

Then there's the big momma...the Kit Kat Cake!  This tutorial is sure not to disappoint!!

So lets scroll on down, and get started!

First up?  Frosting.  You'll need to decide on a color.  Since I am going to show you how to do a spider web, I chose grey.  OoooOOoo...SpOOky!

Dump your entire can of frosting into a bowl and add food coloring to desired color.

Now for the cake.  You'll want to start by stacking your cakes. Here's a refresher on how to do that here.  FYI:  On this cake, I typically do not level my top cake layer, as I think it gives it more of a bountiful look when it's filled with candy.  Did I really just say "bountiful"...

When stacking; Make sure to frost in between the cakes, then on top and around.
Doesn't have to be perfect.  Remember, you're going to cover it up.

Now it's time for your Spider Web!!  Oooh...I'm so excited to share this with you!

Using a different color of frosting, circle around the cake. Starting directly in the middle, creating a bulls-eye, then gradually have the circles outside the bulls-eye become larger as you move closer to the outside of the cake. Like this:
The sprinkles are my daughters addition.  What can I say? She's a big helper  :)
Then, with a regular ol' piece of spaghetti, start from the "bulls-eye"
and make one vertical movement downwards till you reach the top tip of the cake.
Now continue all the way around the cake
Add decorations.  I wanted to add this little guy, but was instantly forbidden, in a very matter of fact, sweet, 2 year old way!
She's so cute and sparkly, but she does belong to the girl.  Sniff.

So instead, I settled for a few leftover spiders from last years decorations...and a massive sprinkle blob.
And there is your spider web!

Now for the Kit Kat Cake...

Remove spiders...I'm sure you all need this step, right?! Hehe ;)

Open Kit Kat Package.  I find it's best to stick them in the freezer for just a minute or two before cutting, but don't forget about them.  The longer they're in the freezer, the more they crumble.  While I believe it's best that the chef receive nibbles of chocolatey goodness from time to time, you want to make sure you have enough candy to go around the cake. :)

My rule of thumb, is to stick one bar in while I'm chopping the others (I use king size bars, which come in 3/pkg, so I'm chopping 3 bars @ a time)  This is what mine look like:
4.5 oz. package has 3 regular size Kit Kat's.

To prepare Kit Kat's:

On a cutting board, cut down on the "seams" of the Kit Kat's with your knife. 

I like to have several handy, so it goes faster.

Then start lining them around the cirfumferance of your cake.
OCD #1: See how I have all the Kit Kat's turned the "correct" way.

OCD #2: Once I get a palm-ful around the cake, I always "hug" it with my hand, to make sure it's sticking.  
Once you have the cake all lined.  Time for your bow.
Now the show stopper....MORE candy!
Okay...so I teased you...I WAS going to use M&M's, but opted for Jellybeans.... 
Viola!  Now that's how you make one WICKED cake into another.  ;)


Changeable Initial Frame

Ever have that blank space on your wall that's yelling "Fill me", but you're just not quite sure what to fill it with?  I have a few spaces in my home like this.

I'd like to think that I am half way smart with my money.  Not cheap, but frugal...So when I find a piece that I know will fit perfectly in my home, I have zero problems adding it to my shopping cart, but if I'm just not sure about it, then I don't buy it.

Why?  Art, frames, and home decor are expensive!  Why spend a fortune on something you don't truly love?  Improvise!

So I came up with a super easy DIY that fits our temporary needs.  A changeable initial.

Unlike most monogrammed pieces you can find/make, they are stationary.  I like to change things up from time to time, so this idea was perfect for us.  Hope you'll enjoy it too.

So many decisions...

So little time!

You'll Need:
1 Frame
Piece of Scrapbook Paper
Hot Glue Gun/Glue Sticks

First, you'll want to plug in your hot glue gun.  This project goes super quick!

Then start cutting down your scrapbook paper to fit inside your frame.  Add the paper to the frame, just like you would a picture.  Seal up the back.

To add your monogram, put a coat of glue on the back side, making sure not to get too close to the edges.  You don't want glue oozing out everywhere once you apply.

Now place the monogram directly onto the glass of the frame, and let dry.

I choose to add mine directly to the glass, so that if my need/want to redecorate arrises, then I can easily change out my scrapbook paper for something new and fresh. 

You could also use fabric rather than scrapbook paper.  That'd be cute too!