Thursday, March 7, 2013

Random Rambling: Pet Peeves and Household Rules

Pet peeves - I have a lot of them. Misspelled words, smacking sounds when people eat, crooked pictures on the wall, the bread on my sandwich not lining up perfectly....and that just barely scratches the surface!

But today I read an article that made me examine my attitude and I realized that I'm simply being selfish when I get irritated by these things. (Ouch!) I get irritated daily by things that other people don't even realize they are doing. How very friendly of me, huh?

Now obviously, not all of my pet peeves have their roots in selfishness. My annoyance with crooked wall pictures, for example, is not a selfish pet peeve. If I see a crooked picture, I straighten it. Problem solved. Harmless, right?

But what about some of the others? I have made rules in my house simply because things annoy me. For example, I cannot stand it when a child lays on the floor to watch TV and puts his/her feet on the bottom of the TV stand. There is no logical reason for this to bother me. It is a wooden stand, so I'm not trying to avoid smudges on glass or anything. And the stand is very sturdy, so I'm not worried about it tipping over. It just bothers me for some unknown reason. So I did what any pet peeve-having daycare owner would do. I made it a rule that feet don't touch the TV stand.

Isn't that ridiculous? Rules are supposed to be for protecting kids, for teaching them, and for developing the good habits they'll need as they grow. You know...brush your teeth, don't touch the light socket, don't drink out of the milk carton....that sort of thing.

But here I am making rules about touching a piece of furniture with your feet. And that kind of makes me a self-centered jerk.

So now that I've recognized this, I'm going to TRY to stop allowing silly pet peeves to control the way I raise my child and run my daycare. I will pay closer attention to my reasons for the rules in my home. And maybe, just maybe, I will stop letting little things irritate me. (Who am I kidding? They'll probably still irritate me. But maybe I'll stop letting that irritation show.)

Please tell me I'm not alone in this. Do you all have silly rules that are in place simply because something gets on your nerves?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Basic Homemade White Bread

I love bread. I absolutely love it. And I simply cannot resist warm bread straight out of the oven! Luckily, it's super easy to make! You just need a few basic ingredients and a couple of hours to allow the bread to rise.

I'll go ahead and warn you now, this post is going to be pretty picture-heavy. I've always been a visual learner, and apparently I'm a visual teacher as well. I can't just explain to you how to do something - I have some deep-seated need to SHOW you. Just go with it.

Ok, first gather your ingredients. You will need:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
5 tsp sugar
1.5 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
approx 2 cups flour

Step 0: It's not completely necessary, but I like to warm my metal bowl by holding it under hot running water before I start. Yeast likes things to be warm, not cold.

Step 1: Combine the packet of yeast, 1/3 cup warm water, and 1 tsp sugar in the bowl and stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Then walk away for 10 minutes. If your yeast is active, it will form a foamy layer on top of the liquid. If you see that, yell "It's alive!" in your best Dr. Frankenstein voice and continue to the next step.

Foamy top - might be a little hard to see in the picture, but it's there!
Step 2: Add the milk, melted butter, salt, and remaining 4 tsp of sugar and stir well. Now it's time for the flour, which can be a little tricky. For some reason, I never use the exact same amount twice so it's hard to give an exact measurement. I start with 1 2/3 cups, mix well, and then add the rest slowly until the dough is the right consistency.

You want the dough to be just slightly sticky. It should form a ball as you stir - if it sticks to the bowl, you should add a bit more flour. If you add to much and it gets dry and no longer sticks to itself to form a nice ball, you can add just a very small amount of water to moisten things up again. It's trial and error at this point, but eventually, you'll get a ball of dough you can hold without it sticking to your hands.


Step 3: Plop that ball of dough down on a floured surface.


 Step 4: Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Punch it, smash it, take out all your stress on it. Yes, your arms will get tired. Yes, you will want to quit early. Don't do it. Sometimes I just carry the dough around and squeeze it and stretch it for a while. Occasionally I enlist the help of some really cute buddies who LOVE to smash the dough.




After several minutes, you will notice that the consistency of the dough is changing. It will become smooth and kind of elastic-ish.


See, doesn't that look different than before?
Step 5: Yay...the hard part is done! Spray a bowl with non-stick spray. I put the dough in the bowl and then flip it over so there is a thin layer of non-stick spray on both sides...I have found that this keeps the dough from getting dry on top.

Then find a warm place for your dough to hang out while it rises. Some people use the light in their oven to generate a bit of heat and put the dough in there. I have a different method. I get the best results when I fill a bowl with hot water, put a rack over it, and put my dough on the rack. Wherever you decide to put your bowl, cover it with a towel and leave it alone for an hour. It should double in size.

From this...
...to this.

Step 6: Move the dough back to a floured surface. Punch it down (it will return to its original size) and knead it a few times. Then flatten it out into a rectangle that's about the same length, but wider.


Step 7: Start at one of the short sides and roll up the dough. Try to roll as tightly as you can.


Step 8: Fold the sizes of your dough under and put it into your greased loaf pan.


Step 9: Put the loaf pan back in the warm place, cover with a towel, and leave it to rise for another hour. Before your hour is up, make sure you preheat your oven to 375.


Step 10: After it rises, move your bread to your preheated oven and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven and immediately move the bread from the pan to a rack to cool.


If you are anything like me, you'll probably start eating it before it ever gets a chance to cool. Enjoy!


* This bread is just a very basic recipe. You can alter it by using different types of flour or adding things such as cinnamon and raisins. You can even branch out a little and start making your own pizza dough, bread sticks, and hamburger/hotdog buns! The possibilities are endless!

**Keep in mind that this bread doesn't have the preservatives that store bought bread has, so it won't last as long before growing stale. Enjoy it while it's fresh!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Huffleblossoms Rae Bag Giveaway

Most of you are probably aware that I am using the profits from my Huffleblossoms store to fund the missions trip I am taking my daughter on later this year. If not, read all about it HERE.

After sharing that post, I received an email from a very generous friend who I'll just call Miss L. She has paid the cost of a Rae Bag and instead of having me ship it to her, she has asked that I give the bag away to one lucky person!

First off, I want to publicly thank Miss L. for her generosity! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

The bag that will be given away is shown below. It is made with two contrasting black and white floral prints. The outside fabric was reinforced with fleece interfacing to make the bag sturdy and allow it to maintain its shape. It measures 12 inches wide, 10 inches tall, and 3 inches deep. The closure flap has a magnetic snap and there is a pocket inside to help keep track of keys and other small items. The 35 inch strap is long enough for this bag to be worn across your body, but is still short enough to carry it on one shoulder if you prefer.



Magnetic snap closure

Inside lining with pocket

Use the form below to enter the contest. Notice you have the option to share a link to this blog post every day on Facebook to gain another entry! The contest will end at 11:59 pm next Friday, February 1. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 11, 2013

Purses, Necklaces, and Missions Trips

Those of you who have followed me for the last couple of years over on my other blog, Tweeny Hair, know that Syd and I have decided to make missions trips a regular part of our lives. For the last two years, we have traveled to Guatemala and offered our time to the impoverished people there. This year, the location will be different, but our hearts and purpose remain the same.

This summer we will be heading to Navajo Nation, where we will meet up with others from across the country to serve the Navajo people and help meet whatever needs they have. We may be running a children's program, helping with home repairs, assisting the elderly with anything they need, etc. Basically, we're going to show up and say, "We're willing." And then we'll find out exactly what we said we're willing to do.

It's going to take money to make this trip happen for us. The cost of the trip is $425 each, which covers food, housing, work materials, and other necessities while we are there. However, I'm going to have to come up with quite a bit more money than that since the Navajo Reservation is a 22 hour drive (yikes!) from where I live. The cost of gas, hotels, and food during the drive will add up quickly.

I know that it's perfectly acceptable to ask for donations to raise money for missions trips - and if anyone would like to make a donation, please email me at raevslife@gmail.com. But I really don't like simply asking for money, so I have chosen to use my talents to raise the money instead.

Huffleblossoms is my online shop where I sell my handmade accessories. For the last year, I have been selling duct tape flowers, fabric flowers, and ladder ribbon jewelry. The sale of those items provided a large chuck of the money we used for our Guatemala trip last year. This year, you can still find those items for sale, but there is now a new addition. Remember when I told you last week that I was obsessed with making purses? Well, I decided to put that to good use. Huffleblossoms is now also selling my handmade purses! Take a look at some of the products that are currently available. (click the pictures to go straight to that listing in the shop)






The purses available right now are my original design, which I've named the Rae Bag (not too creative, but I like it), and there are multiple sizes available. There are a few currently listed, and I will be adding several more later today and in the weeks to come. Also be on the lookout in the very near future for wallets and more purse/bag styles, along with new flowers and jewelry!

If you like these styles but are looking for a specific color scheme, feel free to contact me and I'll be sure to create a one of a kind item especially for you! And, as always, every dollar made from Huffleblossoms sales goes directly toward missions.

Please consider partnering with us to help others! Check out the Huffleblossoms site by clicking the link below:
http://huffleblossoms.storenvy.com/

Thanks for helping us make a difference in the lives of others!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Latest Obsession: Purses and Bags

I seem to have developed a new obsession with bags and purses. I just can't stop making them...I've made 5 in less than a week!

This first bag is the one I showed you all last week. You can see the blog post HERE.

I made this bag the same day. It's similar to the one above, but I changed the shape a little by clipping the top corners off of the pieces before putting it all together.

Then I decided that I needed to jump on the buttercup bag bandwagon. Have you all seen these little bags? They're adorable! You can find the free buttercup bag pattern on a blog called Made By Rae. My 12 year old wanted me to make her a purse, so she picked out the fabric for this one. She has a love affair with lime green, so this is one bright little bag!

 All of the above bags were made with just 2 fat quarters of fabric. Cheap, easy, and cute.

Then the other day, I remembered that I still had some yarn left over from a blanket I crocheted for my daughter for Christmas. I got that yarn out and whipped up this little round bag. I didn't follow a pattern...I just kind of made it up as I went along. I should have taken notes as I went! I'll try to make another bag the way I think I made this one. If I can successfully recreate it, I'll make a tutorial to share with you.


And I saved my favorite one for last. I spent a lot of the day yesterday creating a pattern and then using it to construct the bag pictured below.





Cute, huh?

But now I have WAY more bags/purses than I will ever need. And at this rate, I will run out of room in my closet in no time! I have a feeling there will be a new purses section added to my Huffleblossoms shop in the very near future. That way, I can keep making them WITHOUT having my house turn into something that should be featured on "Hoarders."

So there it is. I am addicted to making bags. And I will not be fighting this addiction. In fact, I will embrace it and make as many different bags as possible. I know, I know....I have no shame. LOL!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cute Reversible Tote

Hi everyone! I apologize for my absence lately...the Christmas season got a little hectic around here! But things have calmed down now and it's time to start sharing the projects I've been up to lately.



First up is this cute little reversible tote bag, which was quick and easy to make and can be made any size you wish. I made this one with just 2 fat quarters of fabric - one for the outside and straps, and one for the lining.

To get the pieces for this tote, choose a fat quarter for the outside fabric (a fat quarter measures approximately 18 inches x 22 inches). After squaring the fabric up, cut two 2.5 inch strips off of the long end so they each measure 2.5" x 22". Then cut the remaining fabric in half, which leaves you with pieces that measure 11 x 13. As you can see in the photo below, this uses up every bit of the fat quarter.



Next, cut two 11 x 13 pieces from a coordinating fabric to use for the lining. Now you have the six pieces required to make this bag!


To assemble the bag, I used pretty much the exact same steps that are used in an easy to follow tutorial over at Skip to my Lou. (Love that site!) And since she already wrote such a great tutorial, it would be pretty redundant to write another one with the same instructions. Once you have your pieces cut and ready to go, follow the link below to learn how to make your bag!

http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/07/17/how-to-make-a-simple-reversible-totebag/



This little tote is really quick and easy to make, is completely reversible, and the size, colors, and even shape can be customized! This means it makes a great gift for girls/women of all ages!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rice Bags - A Tutorial



Rice bags have become a must-have for our house. They can be used to soothe sore muscles, warm cold feet, ice bumps and bruises, and even help relieve headaches. The rice holds both heat and cold, so you can warm these bags in the microwave to turn them into heating pads or keep one in the freezer to use in place of an ice pack if somebody gets injured. The best part about these rice bags is that they are cheap and simple to make!

I use a few different methods to create these bags, but I'll share the one I think looks the best when finished. To make a rice bag like the one above, you need to start with a rectangular piece of fabric. My rectangle for this tutorial measured approximately 11 inches x 17 inches, which made a bag that is approx 5.5 x 16, but you can use whatever size you prefer. We have several sizes and shapes of these bags in the house.

You can also use different types of fabric. Here, I'm using duck fabric. Natural fibers are recommended, since these will be going into the microwave and synthetic fibers can sweat. And PLEASE don't use any fabrics made with metallic threads. Metal and microwaves just don't play nicely together.


Fold your fabric lengthwise, right sides facing together, and pin along the long edge.


Sew along that edge, making a tube of fabric. When making these bags, I like to do a double seam. This way, there's a back up in case one seam fails. Let's face it - nobody wants to clean a floor covered with rice that fought its way out of the bag. I made these seams with 1/4" and 3/8" seam allowances. And since I'm using a fabric that unravels pretty badly, I also used a zig zag stitch along the very edge to help combat that. Fray Stop would have worked, but I ran out several projects ago and just can't seem to remember to pick more up when I'm at the store.


Now adjust your seam so that it's in the center of your fabric tube and press it.



Fold just one end over one inch and press it down.


Time to head back over to your sewing machine. Sew the unfolded end closed. I used the same double seam and zig zag stitch I mentioned above.


Now turn your tube right side out. Use something with a dull point (oxymoron?) to get those corners nice and pointy.

Top stitch a double seam along the closed end of your bag, again at 1/4" and 3/8". This is not needed for functionality, but it will make your bag symmetric when you're finished. You'll see what I mean.



Before I proceeded, I used a zig zag stitch along that last unfinished edge that had been folded over, then tucked that little flap back down inside my bag. You can skip this step if you're not using a fabric that frays so badly (I only do with when using duck fabric).

Now it's time to add the rice. Don't use instant rice for this. You can use corn (not popcorn!), beans, or any other grain to fill these bags, too. I've heard that barley works great, but I haven't tried it yet.

You don't want to fill the bag too full. I only fill the bags about halfway. This leaves the rice plenty of room to move around and form to whatever part of your body you are applying it to. For a bag this size, I used about 4 cups of rice.

Now it's time to pin those folded under ends of your tube together.


Sew a double seam here, with the same allowances you've used throughout the project. This end will look just like the other end and you are done!


 As I mentioned before, these can be made in all different sizes and shapes. Below are a few of them that we use here at my house. The long one is almost 2 feet long and is great for applying heat to sore backs or necks. The medium sized ones are my daughter's favorites. She heats them before bed and puts them under the blanket down by her feet. Nice toasty toes! The little denim one are the perfect size to heat up and put in your coat pockets if you need to go out for a while on a cold day. All of them can double as cold compresses, too. Since I run a daycare, I can never have too many of those around! No matter what you use them for most often, I can almost guarantee that once you start using these rice bags you'll never want to be without one again!