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Archive for September, 2011

Joint project for the baby

For about 7 years I have had the Ikea Apa wooden toy box.  I’ve used it for storage but I’ve been clearing out a lot of stuff lately and don’t have anything in it so I thought, why not use this for the baby’s toy box?  I got some fabric to put on the sides and then Jason said, why don’t we paint it?  So this is what we did.

This is what we started with, $14.99 at Target.This is what we started with, $14.99 at Ikea.

First Jason painted it.  He got the high gloss green from Home Depot.  He only needed a pint and I think it only cost about $15.  On the inside of the short end you may notice a bit of pink paint.  That was leftover from our bedroom and Jason thought the toy chest looked kind of cool with a bit of contrasting color.

I measured each of the 4 sections I planned to add fabric to and cut the fabric to size with about 1/4″ extra on each edge.  Then I pressed down the excess fabric while measuring carefully to make sure I maintained the correct dimensions.

 

I hot glued the fabric to each section.  I found it worked best if I glued a few inches at a time and ended on a corner.  When I did the long edges I worked on both sides simultaneously, a few inches on one side, then a few on the other.

After the fabric was glued down we attached handles and some purchased feet from Home Depot.  We are already trying to think of the ways in which our kid will try to destroy our home and dragging a toy chest across the wood floor until it scratches the floor seems like a pretty good possibility.  Hence, the feet.  We debated putting casters on the bottom but decided against it.  I think if we had our little one would be tobagganing down the hill in his toy chest as soon as our backs were turned.

This is the kind of project I get really excited about because we repurposed something we already had and it didn’t cost much.  I think the materials cost for the project was under $30.  Since I had been using the chest for 7 years I don’t think the cost figures much into the cost of the project.

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Summer Squash Breakfast Sandwich

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about summer squash.  We had a bit in our CSA and needed to used the last two small ones.  I tend to do carb and protein for breakfast and as I lay thinking about the summer squash I thought about how I need to work fruits and veggies into my breakfasts.  The idea to work the squash into a breakfast sandwich came together pretty quickly and Jason liked the result so much that I offered to make it again this morning if he would take pictures for the blog.  Thus I present our first joint effort: the summer squash breakfast sandwich.

Ingredients (makes 2):

2 small summer or zucchini squash

2 green onions, chopped with green and white parts

2 eggs

2 slices jalapeno jack cheese

2 English muffins

Salt

Pepper

Grate the squash

Chop green onions

Crack eggs, add salt and pepper

Scramble the eggs. I usually use a fork for this because a whisk can overmix them. You could add a little milk but I don't think it is necessary in this application.

Saute squash in a little olive oil

A couple of minutes into the saute, add the thicker, whiter parts of the green onion you chopped. The idea is to sweat them a bit with the squash to incorporate the flavor. Everything will saute pretty quickly. When the squash looks somewhat wilted add the rest of the green onion.

When the rest of the green onion has been in the pan for a minute or so, pour in the egg.

Continually stir the egg/squash mixture to scramble it nicely.

Once the egg is fully cooked, divide it between two toasted English muffins, add the slices of jalapeno jack cheese, and serve.

Some notes:

You realize this is pretty flexible, right?  You could use a different cheese or another kind of bread, you could season the eggs or squash differently.  The first morning I made it I grated yellow onion into the squash simply because I didn’t think of using the green onion I had in the fridge and I sauteed the whole thing at once.

I love the pictures Jason took!  It made it a lot easier to do the blog post with him helping me and I think he is better with the camera than I am.  Thanks, honey!

 

Cloth napkins

I grew up using cloth napkins and have meant for a long time to get around to making some for myself.  We tend to use paper towels as napkins and I always feel slightly guilty every time I toss one away.  During my parents’ recent visit I took Mom and Dad downtown to the fabric district with the idea in mind that it was time to buy some fabric for napkins.  Mom was looking for napkin fabric, too and we hit a couple of $1 a yard storesn  looking for 100% cotton.  Of course, the $1 a yard stores suck you in with the intial promise but often you end up liking something that is not $1 a yard.  I picked a fabric with orange circles and Mom picked a calico.  I think my fabric selections startle my mother sometimes because her taste is more sweet and mine is more bold.  She’ll say something neutral in a quiet little voice such as,”That looks like you,” or, “It’s not my thing, but if YOU like it.”

I also found some Amy Butler fabric on sale for $6 a yard.  I was pretty excited because I really like Amy Butler’s designs and the fabric is great quality cotton and often pretty pricey by my cheapskate standards.

Amy Butler fabric napkins

Both fabrics yielded 6 napkins that are 16″ x 16″.  I hemmed them pretty simply around the edges.  That should be enough to get us started using cloth napkins!  My mother gave me an interesting tip.  She was shopping at an antique mall and saw a booth with beautiful vintage linens that were absolutely spotless.  She asked the seller how she got the linens so clean and the woman told her she soaked them in water mixed with Tide, sometimes for up to 3 days.  She just keeps checking them until the stains have all come out.  Apparently Tide is stronger than other detergents.  I plan on keeping this tip in mind for baby clothes, too!

Here is how I hemmed the napkins:

Press about 1/4" on two opposite sides.

Tuck the raw edge of the fabric under toward the crease you pressed and stitch down.

Now that you've stitched the first two sides, press down the two remaining raw edges in the same fashion

Clip or "miter" the corners a little before you stitch these sides to reduce bulk in the corner of the napkins. I only did this on the Amy Butler fabric because it was a heavier weight. The other fabric didn't need it.

Now you have hemmed all four edges and your napkins are done.  I tend to do this kind of work in assembly-line fashion.  I did two sides on all six napkins first, then did step two on the napkins all at the same time.  Clip any stray threads and you are done!

This is the other set of napkins I made!

A money plan for a kid

It may seem to soon to think about this kind of thing but I like to be prepared and I like to think about saving money so Jason and I have already started discussing our plan for teaching our child about money.  My parents were always very careful with money and I think they brought up myself and my sister and brother to be pretty good with money.  My sister is an amazing bargain hunter and my brother can squeeze a nickel til it cries.  Although it is possible that I could be perceived as looser with my money I think I’ve spent it on experiences that are meaningful to me, such as travel.

My parents were always very prepared for any financial situation that arose because of their savings and that passed along to us kids.  I remember when I was about to go off to college my mother was discussing finances with me and she said since I was the oldest they had started saving for my college later than my brother and sister so they didn’t have all the money set aside.  I always remembered that and it was always my intention to start college savings for any child of mine as soon as they were born (or perhaps before).  I have read a number of books about family financial planning and have discussed potential plans with Jason and we have agreed on a plan.

To begin we will open a college savings account and deposit into it every month.  Any money our child receives as gifts for birthdays, holidays, etc for the first couple of years will go into that savings account.  As our child grows older and starts to want money for things there will be an allowance given but divided into three parts, long term savings (which will go into the college account) short term savings (for bigger ticket items they want) and pocket money (popcorn and candy money instant gratification).  Periodically, perhaps once a quarter, we will sit down with our child and show them how much money they have in savings for college.  We want to help our child understand that the savings money is his and will be his responsibility when he reaches adulthood.  As to what they will do with that money, we are not rigid about college.  The child might decide to go to trade school (like my husband) or get an associates degree or they could use it for starting a business.  We have decided to be open to suggestions.  We will help them formulate a plan to take charge of the money and spend it wisely but we plan on this being the only money we give them for college.  We want them to learn to budget and prioritize and to work during college (if that is what they choose).

I think that “great recession mentality” has set in with me already.  On a day to day basis in my current job I am not really using my college degree and I have a lot of friends who are paying off student loan debts and questioning what they got out of the experience.  I was fortunate that my parents paid for me to go to college and I think it has been useful to me in the past and will be useful in the future but I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a recent college graduate right now looking for a job and trying not to think about the student loan payments that are going to start happening in 6 months.

Boys can be cute, too!

Great vintage look. These would look adorable in some leather I've been hanging on to.

I tried not to look too much at baby clothing before we found out whether we are having a girl or a boy but now that we know I’ve been looking around and finding cute stuff for boys is kind of challenging.  Neither Jason nor I give much of a flip about sports and there is so much boy stuff that is sports-themed.  I’ve found some cute stuff I thought I’d share with you that works great for boys.  Since I sew I checked out the patterns available on Etsy and there are a few cool options.

I love this hoodie!

This romper has some great variations.

Jason introduced me to another fun website, threadless.com.  He has bought some t shirts for me from threadless in the past and we plan to buy some onesies for the baby.

One of Jason's favorites, it really cracks me up.

"Survived" onesie

From Twitch tots.

The above romper is from Twitch tots.  I follow the Twitch vintage blog and she did a post about her children’s clothing website.  I will likely be buying some stuff for the baby from her well-currated selection.

A kid came into the shop today wearing some cute shoes from this company:

http://nativeshoes.com/

They make women’s shoes, too.  It might be cute to have matching mommy/son shoes!

Big Deal

I’ve been checking Craigslist.com for good prices on baby stuff and today I bought a huge box of baby boy clothes for only $25.  I sorted through the box and there are 88 pieces which makes them about 28 cents each.  There are clothes for newborn through toddler and everything is in great shape.  It won’t be everything we ever need for the baby, but it’s a good start and I LOVE a deal.  I sorted everything by size and I’m going to store them by size so when the baby’s size changes I can pull out a box and have a bunch of clothes ready to go.  My sister did this when she was expecting and I thought it was a really good idea.