Saturday, August 25, 2012

What to be look forward to from my new hobby.

Now that summer is over, the time and energy that I had to put towards sewing will now be re-directed back towards my career.  However, one last trip to the craft store proved to be very useful!

The craft store was running a 1 day special on patterns.  All Simplicity patterns were only $1!  That is crazy cheap!  I got a little excited and ended up with 10 patterns (the store limit... or I might have gotten more)

Here are some projects that I might start to work on this fall:

I did get alot of baby stuff... and NO!  We're not pregnant!!!!  However, I have lots of friends in my life that are... so here are some things potentially for them :)

 In total, I did get some fabric and basics that I needed to add to my collection.  I spent about $60... but look at that savings!  I am kinda proud of myself :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quesadilla Casserole... This one is for you, Aunt Terri

My sister came home from visiting family in North Carolina and was telling me how my Aunt Terri wants a new casserole recipe.

Well Aunt Terri... here is my best try at it.  (Erin didn't tell me that you wanted a chicken recipe... so this one is beef... oops)

I took the recipe from Joyful Mommas Blog and changed a few ingredients.  It turned out spicy!  I loved it but if you don't handle spice well, I would adjust some of the ingredients accordingly!  I feel like it takes alot of ingredients, but really it is all stuff I had on hand.  I only had to send Bryan to the store for sour cream (and he came home with ice cream too). 

1 lb of ground beef
1/2 an onion (chopped)
1/2 a bell pepper (Chopped)
1 16 oz can of corn (drained)
1 16 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 16 oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/4-1/2 cup of jalapenos
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
6-8 "shots" of Louisiana hot sauce
6-8 tortillas
1 4 cup bag of cheese (I used nacho and taco cheese)

Serve with sour cream or guacamole if you would like.

Brown your ground beef, and add the onions and bell pepper to cook.  I used a yellow bell pepper because that is what I had on hand.  I don't see why you couldn't use whatever you have handy. 

After it has cooked, add the beans, corn, jalapenos, tomato sauce and water.

Add the spices.  Stir.  Bring to a boil.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.

It should start to thicken up just a litte bit.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  Move a layer of this mixture over and spread out evenly.

Add a layer of tortillas.  It is not a big deal if they over lap.

Add a layer of cheese.

Repeat.  Meat, tortillas, cheese.

Pop it into the oven for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese. 

When you take it out, let it sit for a few minutes (10 or so).   It is delicious!  We will be having it again.  It re-heats well for lunches, and the original recipe says that it can be made ahead and frozen and warmed up whenever you're ready to eat it.  It would be good to make a double batch, however for just Bryan and I... this was plenty!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sew, what have I learned this summer?

As many of you may know, before the summer began I bought a sewing/embroidery machine.  I haven't ever used a sewing machine before in my life, but I figured it would be really great if I could learn how to sew.  Honestly, part of me buying this machine was so that I could embroider on pillowcases or towels... a really cheap, but personal gift.  This was going to make my life so much easier!

Well, while it has been a blast this summer trying to learn (still learning FYI), I have also learned a few life lessons along the way.  Me and Jesus have had some interesting conversations while I have been sitting at this machine. 

First of all,  I physically cannot sew a straight line.  I can't do it.  I know that I am supposed to "follow the guides" and all, but when I get done it looks more like a line that a drunk would walk. I cannot do it perfectly, and to be honest, it is driving me nuts!   My personality might fall closer to the perfectionist side than I would like to acknowledge.  I like for things to look right, look nice.  But when it comes to sewing, I'll be, it's crooked.  I was talking to Bryan earlier this summer in the car about this issue.  I came to the conclusion that I cannot sew perfectly, because I am not a perfect human being.  I have flaws.  The only person who is perfect is Christ.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is the only one who can do it.  I bet you He could sew a straight line. 

All this straight line talk has got me thinking and talking to the Lord...

 "Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.  Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." -Ps 27:11-14

Even if I can't sew a straight line, I still want my life to be on the straight path.  I want Bryan and I to have a marriage that is centered around Christ and is on the straight path... even if I can't do it by myself.

I mentioned this verse in an earlier blog, but Jesus tells us in 2 Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  So even with my imperfect self, God can still use me.  He is the whole reason for everything.  Because of the sermons at church recently, I have really thought alot about materialism and selfishness in our culture and even within my own life.  Look at my sewing projects for example,  I have made some different things, starting out small and working my way up.  I started with a project for my husband and then quickly started a purse (for myself).  I made Baby Nathan (my future Nephew!) some wash clothes, which I love, and then started making a skirt for myself, and a casserole carrying case (for food for me to eat) followed by another dress (for myself).  In all reality, I am starting to see a pattern.... myself... myself... myself. 

It wasn't until a weekend when I got to spend some time with my sister that I got to do something really for someone else.  Erin and I spent the day picking out fabric and making a dress for her!   And while the dress wasn't perfect or sewn straight, it turned out great!!  I can use this strange developing talent, that is far from perfect to love on and bless someone else.  Do I really need another dress?  No.  Would the materialistic side of me like one, Heck yes!  But what good does another thing for me really do?  What if, instead of collecting more things for myself, I spent time making things for other people?

For the most part, sewing is very forgiving.  There were many, many times when I would sew something backwards... you have no idea!  I have gotten to know this seam ripper quite well.  I can just see Jesus smiling down on me with a chuckle knowing I would do this and get frustrated.  But you know what, I haven't given up yet.  Jesus hasn't given up yet on me either. 

Jessica did teach me this summer how to sew using a pattern. We had talked about it early in the summer and she felt that it would be important that I learn using a real pattern, not just using pintrest and blogs.  So later that week when I was at the fabric store, I picked up two of the cheapest patterns they had (a shirt that looked like I could wear to work and a bag pattern.)  I think I paid $2 for them... I mean... cheap.  Maybe that should have been a sign.  I picked out two fabrics that I liked for a shirt and skipped on fabric for the bag.  I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so not only did I pick out a cheap pattern... I picked out "cute" fabric... not easy fabric to sew with.  (My bad... I'm so sorry Jessica!)  I got home and decided that I would try and do this without Jessica's help.  That would be a big, fat NO!  I didn't know what I was doing.  So when Jessica so kindly came over a few days later she taught me what was going on.  Once she explained it, I felt like I knew alot more about what to do.  We made the first shirt together and then I just recently finished my second shirt.

I started thinking about how this is the perfect example of discipleship.  In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."    As a person new to sewing, I didn't have a clue how to make a shirt following a pattern.  Jessica was kind enough to teach me and then I was able to do it on my own.  The pattern that we have been given from God is the Bible, and while I do believe that the scripture is sharper than a two-edged sword and He is capable of showing Himself to any one whenever He wants to, it is helpful to have someone explain and SHOW you how to do it (follow Christ). 

I went from being a person who didn't know how to follow a pattern, to be someone who did.  And the crazy thing about it now, is that I have two shirts (and one day possibly more) to show off to the world.  When people see my shirt, I can explain how I made it from a pattern and we can talk about it.  If Jessica hadn't helped me to make the first one, the second one would never have been made.  Do you see what I am saying?  God has plans that are bigger then we can see.  Jessica didn't have to come over and teach me, she didn't have to put the idea that I should learn about a pattern in my head.  But she did, and now look... I have two cool shirts!

Through kindness, thoughtfulness, and a Christ-like love, and I have two school shirts to wear.  The total cost of the two shirts might have totaled to $12, which is good for the Hazzard's budget, but also I have a walking advertisement for what I did all summer.  I can't wait to see what Christ is going to do this year! 

Thank you summer, it was a lot of fun!  Fall... Bring it on!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mom's Birthday Gift

At our first Christmas as a married couple (Christmas '11) I was all excited about decorating.  We needed everything.  Goodness gracious... Decorating can be expensive!  We inherited a small tree from my parents, and had a few ornaments to hang, but we didn't have so many of the things that makes the house feel "Christmas-y"  I went to the craft store to buy stockings and so many things only to find that we could either have stockings and decorations OR we could have Christmas presents for each other and the ones we loved.  $20 for a mediocre Christmas stocking... really?  That is really why all of this sewing stuff has started.  A friend from a small group invited me to make stockings with her.  (It was their first Christmas together too).  I was able to make both of our stockings with our own personality for much cheaper. 

The next task was a tree skirt.  Following directions from a Pintrest idea. I made a skirt.  I followed these instructions: No Sew Tree Skirt

When my mom saw what I had done, she made a comment "Wow, I'm impressed!  I have been married for 30 years and don't even have a tree skirt"  **Mental Note**  My Mom needs a tree skirt!  What a great B-Day gift....  :)

So when all of this crafty stuff started this summer I started keeping a look out for Christmas fabric to use.  However, in the Fabric store's small selection in June, I decided to wait for her birthday in August, and tell her about the project and that we could go pick out the fabric together.  This way, she would have a say in the color scheme. 

However the week before her birthday (and the week of Jessica's baby shower...)  I was in the fabric store with a sale and coupon combination that I couldn't pass up!  (The fabric was 1/2 off and then I got an additional 25% off my entire purchase.... a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!) I picked out out fabric and brought it home :)  On the drive home I had the sudden realization that because my mom's birthday was in 5 days and we were no longer going to have to go get the fabric together... I had to get this done before her birthday and get ready to host a baby shower.   YIKES!

I blocked off Thursday morning/afternoon for this project.  I hope you enjoy!  My advice... buy A LOT of hot glue, and cut all of the fabric at once (don't cut a piece and glue and then cut another one)

Start with your supplies.  You will need:
Fabric (I used 1 yard of 3 different fabrics)
1 yard a canvas material
fabric scissors
hot glue gun
lots of hot glue

Start by cutting the fabric into 2 1/2-3 inch strips

When you have all of your strips cut, put out your canvas material.  You will want to cut a square out of the material.  Mine was about 4 ft x 4 ft.  (obviously, the larger the square, the larger the finished product)

Fold the square in half (a long rectangle)

Fold the rectangle in half (back into a square)

Take the bottom left corner, and fold it over to touch the top right corner.

Using a curved line, cut off the left side as shown below.  Then using the same curve, cut the bottom right corner too.  Looking at the picture, imagine the semicircle folded in half-- it came undone for the picture.

When you unfold the canvas, it should look like a donut (or as in the picture, half a donut).

Cut down one of the folds to make the opening for the Christmas tree.

Here's the "donut" ready to be decorated!  You will start at the slit up top.

Start by taking your first strip, fold and glue the edge to the back of the canvas at the slit.  Glue about 1/2 an inch on the backside.  You want the strip of fabric to hang mostly past the canvas. Glue the front side of strip to the canvas to start making your ruffle. 

You will start to make your ruffle by gluing the fabric on.  For each ruffle, I would have to use 3 dots of glue.  Maybe you can do it with less, but I had to glue the fabric to the canvas, then I would put a dot of glue where I had glued the canvas but on top of the fabric, pull the fabric back so it would glue to itself and then glue the underside of that down as well.  Does that make sense?  3 dots of glue = 1 ruffle.  You can imagine how much glue I used....

Continue working your way around the edge of the canvas making sure you stay pretty even as you go.

When you get to the end of a strip of fabric, you will start the next one by folding over 1/2 an inch or so.

Lay it flat onto the end of the strip and continue gluing. 

** Note:  Be sure to glue the strip so that the outside lines up, not the inside.  If your strips are not the same size--mine often were not-- the other ruffles will cover this.  You want it to look like one continuous ruffle. **

**Below is what you do not want!  Be sure to adjust as you go.**

When you finish your first layer of ruffles, change fabric and start the process over again.

You will want to set it up so that the glued portion of the fabric is covered by the next layer.  You will have to be cautious of this as you go because of the different size slips of fabric.  Don't be afraid to adjust as you go.

As you work your way around, when you get to the end, it is very likely that you will have extra.  Cut it off so that you have only 2-3 inches left.  You can use the portion that you cut to start the next round when you get there.

Pull it around the the bottom and glue it.  It should look similar to how you started the fabric.  Be sure to double check the look of the last ruffle on the front before you glue it down.  You also want to make sure that the bottom of the fabric matches up with the other side evenly.

See the even part?

When you get to the top, don't worry about trying to make the row you are on stretch to the top.  I tried... it didn't work.  But you do want to make sure that the canvas showing is close to the same width all the way around. 

For the final round, you want it to hang off the canvas about half way.  This level might be the most tricky.

Start it off the same way but with the top half hanging off. 

When you get it all the way around, don't put the glue gun up yet!

Fold the top layer over and start gluing it to the back. Make sure you are satisfied with how the front looks... this is what you will see :)

The back of the skirt should look ugly... like this.  But it doesn't matter because it is not the side you see when it is on display.

Flip it over to admire your work!