Month: May 2013

Chive and Cheese Drop Biscuits

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Sometimes you just want a biscuit. Right? I made these the other day when I was at a loss as to what to eat for lunch. There was hardly any food in the house (at least, that I wanted to eat) but there were chives in the garden and a hunk of cheese, so I made these, and they were delicious. And fast, which is key. I mixed these up in the time it took to preheat the oven, all during my baby’s morning nap.

Speaking of chives in the garden, the garden is starting to explode with all manner of good things. None big enough to eat, yet, but we have a japanese cucumber that promises dozens of tender cukes, several tomato plants that are soon going to rival me for height, and a stunted, but recovering, summer squash that has a couple of yellow babies. And there are herbs. Oh delicious herbs. Delicate, oniony chives, pungent parsley, fragrant rosemary. Herbs are a gift of summer.

Chive and Cheese Drop Biscuits

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cheese, coarsely grated (I like Gouda)
1 bunch chives
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp milk for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 F (about 200 C).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingertips, until the mixture becomes a fine crumble, like cornmeal.

Hold the bunch of chives in your hand and use a pair of scissors to snip small pieces into the  flour mixture (about 1/6 inch). Add the grated cheese and stir into mixture.

Pour in the buttermilk and fold in gently with a spatula until mixture forms a sticky dough. Divide roughly into 8 and drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with milk.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.

Enjoy hot with butter!

Best Camping Gear for Babies

bridal veil falls

Over the long weekend we took an awesome trip up to Yosemite National Park with a group of friends. I was feeling a bit of trepidation about the trip because A) it’s a long drive with a 1-year old and B) I was nervous about how Baby Brownie would do sleeping at a campsite. It turns out, I worried for nothing. I guess Baby Brownie is just an amazing night sleeper because she went right to sleep at 8pm every night and woke up at 7:30am.

We had an awesome time biking around the valley, admiring the view at Glacier Point, cooking meals at the campsite, making s’mores around the campfire, and spending lots of quality time with friends.

We did bring some key baby gear, however, that made camping much easier, and I thought I’d post about them here in case some other brave parents are taking their babies camping this summer!

essential baby camping gear

baby camping gear

1. Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

I’ve posted about how much I love the BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light before, when we flew to China and Baby Brownie was just 8 months old. I still love it, and at 14 months, my daughter still fits in it just fine. The Baby Bjorn Crib takes about half a minute to set up, and maybe a minute to fold down once you have it figured out. It’s lightweight (though it is a bit bulky, but that’s not really an issue when you’re car camping) and folds down into a convenient carrying case.

I like how the fabric and mesh of the crib is breathable but comfortable and soft. It’s not a plasticky, rustle-y, tent fabric like many of the other travel cribs out there, so it doesn’t make noise when the baby moves. I also like how the mattress pad is an actual pad, rather than an inflatable mattress; it helps to keeps baby warmer. I added a fleecy plush crib sheet to help keep Baby Brownie warm. You can just have the travel crib right in your tent or camper, and baby has a nice, enclosed place to go to sleep.

2. Sleep Sacks

Baby Brownie is used to the HALO Fleece SleepSack, so that’s what we used. They’re not as warm as I’d like, especially for camping in the mountains, but Halo doesn’t make padded sleep sacks (you can buy padded, duvet-style sleep sacks online, but we just used what we had). I just layered lots of PJs on Baby Brownie — first a long-sleeve onesie, then a fleece footed sleeper, then an extra fleece pullover to keep her arms warm, and then the fleece Sleep Sack. I had an extra blanket to put over her but by the morning it was bunched in a corner of the crib, so it wasn’t much help.

3. Wee Ride Kangaroo Bike Seat

One of our favorite parts about camping in Yosemite was riding bikes around the valley. We’ve tried bike trailers before but found that our toddler didn’t really enjoy them because she couldn’t see anything. With the WeeRide LTD Kangaroo Child Bike Seat, our daughter could see everything and was safely strapped in front of her daddy. Although this seat won’t fit an older child, it was perfect for our 1-year old. We loved that sitting in front, she could see everything, and it seems safer in case of a fall, so my husband could catch her and keep an eye on her.

wee ride collage

4. Baby Food Pouches

I’m so glad we brought plenty of baby food pouches like these Happy Baby Organic Baby Food Pouches. They were so handy when we were on the trail (or in the car) for a snack for our toddler, or just to supplement a meal and to add fruits and veggies. Although Baby Brownie is eating solid food, sometimes camping food isn’t the most nutritious. We also brought healthy finger foods like cheese sticks, bananas, grapes, and crackers.

Are you planning to go camping with your little one this summer? What’s your baby camping gear essential?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

A Few Yard Updates

Sorry about the lack of house posts this week, folks. We’ve got a couple of projects on the backburner and they’re just taking a while to get to the point where they merit a post. I’m really excited about them though and think they’ll have a big impact on our space.

Here’s a quick little update on the status of the yard. We recently added these new patio chairs. They’re from Kmart, of all places, and they were only $13 each, on sale! My husband is really good at finding deals like this.

new patio chairs

The new chairs are nice and comfy. They’re obviously not the highest quality things, but they are comparable to thirty-dollar chairs at Target or Home Depot, so I’m ok with the price we paid! They replace these grody things:

old patio chairs

The whole patio set was a hand-me-down from Chris’ parents. It was awesome, still sturdy and functional, but the chairs had seen better days. There was a ton of discoloration from sitting out in the sun for years, and it didn’t improve despite my attempts to bleach them out.

I finally got Chris to agree that we should get new ones. Now that we have nice chairs out there, I actually sit out there more! I’ll watch the baby running around the yard while I have my morning coffee.

patio chairs from kmart

The paint on the table is badly chipping and we’re planning to scrape it down and spray paint it. Guess what color we’re going to go with?

hose reel

We also installed a new hose reel this week. Suddenly the hose, which was lying coiled on the patio, is gone, and we have so much more usable space! It’s the little things…

Boy, we really need to get the outside of the house repainted. Sigh. That’s what happens when you buy a fixer. You have to live with peeling paint until you get around to it…which could be months or years. Be warned!

Turn Your Kid’s Pants into Shorts (in 3 Easy Steps)

Here’s a quick project that took me all of 15 minutes, and helps reuse something you would otherwise give/throw away, use as a rag, or lose in the bottomless black hole you call the closet (or is that just me?).

With the warm weather we’ve been having, I’ve really been wishing that my toddler had fewer long pants and more shorts. She’s going to outgrow her long pants before the weather gets cool again. Well, duh, I told myself, why not just shorten the pants?

turn kids pants into shorts

You’ll need:

1 pair of jersey cotton pants
sewing machine
thread that matches pants
scissors

I love the neon pink polka dots on these pants but they were kind of a weird shape on my girl. She has skinny legs so the pants ended up baggy around the thigh, but weirdly tapering at the ankle. So I decided that this pair would be a perfect candidate for a redo, and if it didn’t work out, oh well.

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Warning: I am not a seamstress. Not even close. I’m a total amateur who has to look at the manual every time I try to thread my sewing machine. So if I can do it, you can too!

Turn the pants inside out. Fold the pants in half lengthwise and snip off the bottom portion. I just eyeballed it, but remember that you’ll lose more length after you hem the pants.

cut off pant legs

Fold up the cuffs at the bottom of the legs. You could be all fancy and zigzag stitch them, but the knit t-shirt material won’t fray, so don’t worry about it.

diy baby shorts

Besides, who’s going to be snooping in your baby’s wardrobe criticizing your hemming skills? (uh…don’t answer that question.)

Just sew around the hem with the sewing machine. Let the machine pull the fabric through to avoid stretching the fabric. Just make sure you don’t sew the leg shut. If you want to be fancy, you can sew in a double seam (just add another seam next to the first).

hemming shorts

(I forgot to take a picture while I was sewing, so I faked the above picture.)

And it’s as easy as 1…2…3!

turn kids pants into shorts

Is it perfect? Nope. I’m incapable of sewing a straight seam. Does it work and are they comfy? Oh yeah.

I tried to get a pic of my daughter modeling the shorts but she moves too fast. This is the best I could do and it’s a little blurry.

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Of course, when you hem your shorts you will use a matching thread instead of white, unlike me, right?

The shorts are a little loose and flowy which is actually nice for this warm weather. They are the perfect play pants now.

DIY Clutch from a Placemat

diy clutch from a placemat

I’ve been wanting to make a diaper clutch for a while. I have one that is a diaper clutch + changing mat all in one, but it’s kind of bulky. I just wanted something a little more compact that I could throw in my purse. This clutch is perfect. It’s cute enough to use as a little purse on its own too. I can just slip my wallet inside and carry it along with a diaper and a pack of wipes when I’m out with the baby.

I got this awesome idea from Nalles House. She takes a placemat, folds it, and sews up the fold to create a 5-minute clutch, perfect for toting diapers and other stuff. I decided to make mine a little shorter, and to add a strap, so it ends up taking a little bit longer, but it’s still pretty simple.

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I grabbed a blue and green ikat placemat from Target. It was nice and stiff, and I love the pattern for a clutch. Here’s the how-to!

I wanted my clutch to be a little shorter so it would hold diapers/wipes more snugly. So, cut off about an inch on each side (lengthwise).

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Use one of the extra strips to make a strap for the clutch. Cut off both ends; then fold the raw edges under and iron them, like so:

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Fold the strip closed so that the folded edges are flush. Then top-stitch with the sewing machine:

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With the layers of interfacing that are already sewn into the placemat, you now have yourself a nice sturdy strap:

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Now you need to close up both sides of your placemat proper (since we cut off the sides). Turn it inside out so the wrong sides are out:

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Sew along each side (leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance). Remember to leave about a 3-inch gap at one corner so that you can turn the placemat back right-side-out!

right side out placemat

Turn the placemat right-side-out and iron it flat. Tuck the raw edges of the gap under and iron them flat so they lie flush with the sewn edge.

Decide how deep you want your pocket to be and fold your placemat accordingly.

IMPORTANT! Make sure the 3-inch gap is in the front corner of your clutch (see picture below):

folded clutch

The placement of your gap is important because that is where we will insert the strap. The ends of the strap will sit inside the top layer of the placemat, so the raw ends can’t be seen on the inside of the clutch.

Sew from the top corner, down across the gap, the straps, and the rest of the edge of the clutch. You’re sewing through multiple layers, and your machine may not like this. I recommend going very slowly, and you may need to manually turn the wheel of the machine to make the needle go through smoothly. Backstitch across the straps for added security, then continue sewing down the rest of that edge. Backstitch and trim your ends.

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Now start at the opposite diagonal corner (beginning at the fold), and stitch along the remaining open edge. Continue topstitching all around the rest of the top flap, ending at the place where you stitched in the strap. Backstitch and trim off your thread.

sewing clutch

Note: While you’re sewing you may want to backstitch along any areas where there will be tension.

Now, you’re pretty much done! You should have something that looks like this!

(I hand-stitched in a hook-and-loop closure. I didn’t want to sew right through the fabric so I just used a whip-stitch to sew it into place. Please, please, please don’t make fun of my hand-sewing. It’s a good thing my marital prospects…and future…don’t depend on my sewing skills…)

diy diaper clutch

Voila!

diy clutch from placemat

You could, of course, have made this from your own fabric instead of from a placemat. However, I liked how the placemat was already the right size, and came with all the interfacing and lining fabric so I didn’t have to buy those and cut them to size. My sewing skills are pretty much limited to sewing a (more or less) straight line, so this was a quick and easy project for me!

Hand-wash your clutch and DO NOT tumble dry! I find that these placemats shrink abominably and get all wrinkly when you machine dry them!

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This makes a perfectly sized diaper clutch, but you could also use it as a mini purse, or to store toiletries or other little things in! Do you like?

 

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