Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cucumber Soup

 I've been waiting to share this recipe until cucumber season. After making a double batch of this (using four cucumbers) I still have five in the fridge, so I think cucumber season is upon us. 

I only planted two or three plants and we've picked quite a few cukes this year. There's nothing (food-wise) that gives me more joy that making something delicious out of homegrown produce, so I hope to share several recipes over the next few weeks.

I originally found this recipe in Real Simple a few years ago. Using cucumbers and mint, both of which we grow in abundance, this chilled soup is perfect for hot August evenings.

Real Simple's Cool Cucumber Soup:

- 1 lb cucumbers peeled and cut (about 2)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients in a blender and chill until cold. Garnish with mint and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serves two. 

This is a great healthy lunch, and I think you could substitute sour cream with greek yogurt if you wanted to. I also like to serve this with an open-faced Caprese sandwich. Since we also usually have lots of tomatoes and basil or oregano we make this a lot in the summer and fall. They go great with a cool soup like this or with an Italian pasta dish.

Here's the quick run-down on Caprese in case you haven't made it:

Slice a baguette, top with a slice of mozzarella or shredded mozzarella and broil until bubbly. Top with sliced tomatoes and basil (or oregano if you don't have basil) and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with course salt (I used a garlic sea salt here) and enjoy.

I hope that if you have a veggie garden you are enjoying the fruits of your labor! If you don't have a garden maybe these dishes will motivate you to start one next year. Tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and mint are all easy to grow and you can even grow them all in pots so if you have so much as a patio you too can be a "gardener." Homegrown or not, I hope you enjoy these fresh tasting recipes : ) Happy Summer eating!

Thanks for reading!
- Haley

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opening Ceremonies

I love the Olympics. LOVE them. I go through withdrawal when they are over. We like to have an opening ceremonies party, so Thing One helped make some decorations. This is the first time he can really understand the Olympics so I've been trying to explain the different parts and then do a craft to go with it. He made a torch. 

 We didn't have any tissue paper, so we used felt.

We made some flags in preparation for the parade of Nations. I tried to stick with kind of simple ones, but I let him choose which ones he wanted to make. We ended up making flags for Italy, Japan, Israel, and Ghana to add to our USA and Canada. Thing One had fun looking for these countries in the opening ceremonies.

We put all our decorations together and we also colored a poster together. 

For Beijing we made a big Chinese dinner. This time we decided to have an English Tea. We went to World Market and picked up some British treats. 

We had iced tea and hot tea--Twinings of London. Thing One colored some labels for the tea too. We also did some USA tattoos : )

It was a delicious spread and a fun way to start the Olympics.

I hope you are enjoying all the competition. Go USA!

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Flowers From My Garden

I don't have lofty goals for my garden, really. My hopes are this: to grow enough flowers to pick a vase now and then; and to grow enough veggies to eat them throughout the summer and share with friends.  Here's a bouquet picked from my garden this summer. 

I think I'm going to take a little blog break. I'll see you in a week or two. Take care Friends : )

- Haley

Friday, July 20, 2012

"We" Built Picnic Tables

It's been a sad summer in Colorado. We're watching for news updates and praying for everyone involved in the terrible shootings last night. It's another reminder to always say "I love you" and live life like you won't get another chance. It's pretty hard to transition from that to anything happy, but I'll try...

To finish up our kids BBQ week, I wanted to show you this awesome kids picnic table that my husband just built. Isn't it cute? I love normal things in kids size. : )

We (meaning mostly my husband--which is usually what "we" means at our house) built a grown up picnic table and a kids one in the last month, using slightly different patterns. The kids table is from Ana White and you can find her plans here. If you have never been to her website it is awesome. She has tons of free plans and directions for building all kinds of furniture. Before Pinterest I had saved a picture and URL for a toddler picnic table from her site. When we finally decided to build the table I found that she also has a bigger kid version, which is what we made. The toddler phase is pretty short and we wanted the boys to be able to use the table for a long time.

The adult picnic table plans we used can be found here at Popular Mechanics. We considered using the composite decking as it suggests, but once we priced it out, we decided to go with good ol' wood. 

I love that there is actually a place for everyone to sit now if we have people over and want eat outside. We're looking forward to lots of picnics in the backyard for the rest of the summer. I hope you enjoyed our little Kids BBQ series this week. Have a safe and happy weekend.

- Haley

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Felt BBQ [Corn on the Cob]

Now that you have your play grill and your grilling apron, you need some food to grill up. So today I'm posting a quick tutorial on how to make felt corn on the cob.

All you need for this is yellow and white felt a little bit of fiberfill, and a needle and yellow thread. Cut two rectangles of yellow felt 4" x 5" and one circle of white 1 3/4" in diameter. Cut one of the rectangles into 1/4" strips lengthwise and one into 1/4" strips vertically. (These should be the same length, even though they don't look it in this picture.)

Next, weave your two rectangles together just like you did when you made a placemat in elementary school art class. Remember doing that with construction paper?

Once you have them weaved together sewing along both sides that have loose ends to secure them.

Next, start sewing the white circle to the long edge of the rectangle. As you sew you need to pull the circle towards you to keep rolling it along the edge. Go slowly.

 Then your corn should look like this:

Line up the side edges and sew from the white end to the yellow end, curving in a little.

Trim the edges.

Then turn inside out and stuff with fiber fill. Finally, sew all the way around the opening weaving in and out and then cinching tight.

Secure with a few extra stitches once you've pulled it tight.  And now you have your very own mini corn on the cob!

Serve with other BBQ favorites. Enjoy!

One last Kids BBQ post tomorrow. See you then. Thanks for reading!
- Haley

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kids Aprons from Kitchen Towels

Now that you've got a play grill you're going to need a grilling apron. Today I'd like to show you how to make a kids apron out of a kitchen towel. It is super easy and the perfect sewing project even for someone who rarely sews (but has a sewing machine). 

Oh did I mention this project is cheap? For the one I made above I used a kitchen towel and a spool of grosgrain ribbon both from the dollar store. Even the cute girlie towel I used for the one at the bottom was only $2.50 at Walmart.

For this towel I cut off the top 7", folded over the blue part 1" and hemmed it.

Then I rotated it and put it at the bottom of the towel to make a pocket. Since the sides and bottoms are already finished I just sewed the two layers together (leaving the hemmed top open obviously : ) ), then I sewed up the middle to divide it into two pockets.

For the top I folded the towel in on each side until the top was as wide as I wanted it to be. Then I folded down the top twice and hemmed it along with the ribbon for the neck strap. Notice the ribbon is folded under the towel to seal it in. Alternatively, you can do the neck strap with D-rings to make it adjustable (which is really nice, and actually easier). You can read how to do that from my other apron post here.

I'll warn you, folding the top over twice did make it bulky. For the cupcake apron I just folded it over once so the cut edge was exposed. I don't have a serger, so I just zig zag stitched across the bottom edge to keep it from fraying. It was kind of ugly on the front though, so then I added a strip of ribbon to cover that up. I used three different ribbons that were all left over from various projects so I didn't have enough to go all the way across the inside of the top, but if you did have enough ribbon, that would look nicer. And yes, one of my ribbon ends got folded under and sewed like that. And yes, I was too tired to fix it. And yes, I start most of my sewing projects after 10 p.m. If I slept I'd never get anything done!

Anyway, it looks nice on the front though, right?

Finally, I added the side ties basically the same way as the top strap. I folded the ribbon under the side of the angled towel and then sewed around the ribbon in a squarish shape. Like this.

Now the back looks like this.

and the front looks like this

Or like this.

And you are ready to bake, or cook, or grill. Kitchen towels are always on clearance somewhere, especially after holidays. I find myself looking through them now always thinking that would make a cute apron! 

Coming up next for our kids BBQ week: another felt food tutorial. See you soon : )

Thanks for reading!
- Haley

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kids Play Grill

Last summer I saw this kids play grill at Apartment Therapy and fell in love with it. When I saw these plastic bowls in the dollar spot at Target I had the motivation I needed to start the project. We had a little friend with a birthday coming up, so I decided we would make him and Thing One each a play grill. While I love the adorable grill, it was a time consuming project and more complicated than it looked at first, so I'm really glad we (my husband helped quite a bit with this project) went ahead and made two at once. I probably would not have been motivated enough to make one for Thing One later. That said, I think this pretend grill is the cutest and it is worth making. I also made some fun BBQ stuff to go with it and later in the week I will share another felt food tutorial and a simple grilling apron tutorial too. It's going to be a fun week!

You can pop over to Apartment Therepy for the tutorial. After making two here's a few things to keep in mind: some of the measurements are based on the size of bowl she used, so you may need to make some adjustments if the size of your bowl is different (as mine was). You will also need to measure the top of the bowl and adjust all the measurements for the grill top accordingly. Just make sure the decreasing increments are the same. (For example: 2 - full length for the middle, 2 - 1/4" shorter than full length, 2 - 3/4" shorter than full length, etc. rather than using the exact measurements).

I also used two bowls for each grill so that it would have a top. I bought a cabinet handle and some very short screws. I really think having the top makes it look even more like a little Weber grill. 

The other thing I added was some charcoal briquettes. Here's where you do what I say, not what I did. I used floral foam (for silk flowers) that I bought at the dollar store. Do not use this, it was a big mess and falls apart easily. I thought the spray paint would seal in the crumbly foam, but it didn't. Use regular styrofoam. You can use the same method as I did below though. Cut the styrofoam into two inch cubes. 

Use your thumb to push in all the edges and corners to round them. Spray paint the briquettes with silver or grey and black.

Use hot glue to glue all the briquettes to the bottom of the grill. Then it should look something like this. You could do more if you want. I mostly used them to cover up the washers.

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for this fun idea and tutorial. Come back later this week to see how to make a quick and easy grilling apron that will cost you less than $2.

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Like Chikin

So we are doing this today.  Are you?

God bless you, Chick-fil-a!

Have a wonderful weekend!
- Haley

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I-Spy Activities

I've been reading Delia Creates for a long time (like shortly after she started). She has a lot of fun kid ideas and activities that she does with her two boys (and now baby girl!).  This is one of my favorites. It's a DIY I-Spy book. You can find Delia's here. I made this about a year ago for Thing One and he still likes to look at it sometimes. I think he likes that it's all his toys; things that he's familiar with.

Just arrange the toys for each scene, snap a picture and get them all printed out. Then put them in a cheap photo book (think dollar store) and let your kiddo search through a mini book of their own toys. Each picture has two pages, one with a photo list of what to look for and the other with the I-spy scene. I don't want to bore you so here's just a quick look at Thing One's I-spy scenes.

As I said I made the I-spy book a year or more ago. Since then I started seeing these I-spy bottles and thought that looked like an great riding in the car activity for Thing One. I based mine on one I pinned from here. I once bought a mega button mix at Hobby Lobby that came with all these things that are not buttons. I guess you can use them for 3-D scrap booking or something. I didn't really know what to do with them, so I had sorted out all the non buttons and they were exactly what I needed for this project. 

I arranged them into little categories and took a picture so that Thing One would know what to look for.  Don't forget to take a picture before you put them in the bottle! I almost forgot. Once I got the picture printed I stuck it into the I-spy photo book, so that all our I-spy fun is in one place. But you could just get a little sleeve for the one picture, that way it doesn't get crumpled up and kids can mark off what they find with a (washable) dry erase marker.

Then sprinkle your little treasures into a clear container with rice, and seal the top. I hot glued around the cap of this one before I put it in. If you don't have a clear bottle handy you could make a clear vinyl bag like this one. If you still have a road trip in your summer plans, this is a great quiet car activity!

Happy spying!

Thanks for reading!
- Haley

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