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spring nests

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I'm privileged to be a part of the oldest and largest women's organization in the world--the Relief Society--with over 6 million women in 170 countries.  We serve others, the community, get involved in humanitarian aid, learn to garden, budget, become stronger spiritually, and so on and so forth.  It is an incredible organization within my church.

In my congregation, my responsibility is to help plan events for our local Relief Society.  In March, we celebrate the birthday of the organization with a special celebration which always includes good food.  

Our planning committee came up with a beautiful theme for our celebration (It is this Thursday evening!) of "Birds of a Feather Flock Together".  Every part of the evening is in keeping with the theme, including the very pretty favor: the spring nests.  

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The Relief Society committee was in my home this Saturday morning to finish our planning and put these nests together.  They were so absolutely adorable I couldn't help but share them with you today--with plenty of time for you to try them out for any of your Easter celebrations.

Enjoy!

spring nests

Makes 10-15 nests per batch , depending on size of nests

 

nests:

3 TBSP butter

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

6 cups chow mein noodles

 

filling in nest:

1/2- 1 cup melted chocolate chips

coconut

green food coloring

candy eggs (Mini Cadbury Eggs or Whopper's Speckled Eggs)

 

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Think of the nests just like making rice crispy treats, just with chow mein noodles.

Heat the butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add marshmallows and peanut butter and stir until melted.  Add chow mein noodles and stir until they are coated.

Take off heat.

Take a handful of chow mein mixture and form into a nest.  Form it on a counter top so it will have a flat bottom.  With you hands, work the side of the mixture to create a nice rim to your nest.

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To fill nests:

Turn your coconut into green glass.   Toss some coconut into a ziplock bag with a few drops of green food coloring, seal and toss.  Voila!  Green Grass.

Spoon a little melted chocolate inside each nest to just cover the bottom so the coconut will stick.  Now sprinkle the chocolate with green coconut.

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Place a few candy eggs in each nest.  

IMG_4844 Aren't they so springy?

Amber, my friend who shared the recipe, makes these with her children every Easter.  It is their special project they do together this time of year.

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We made several batches and they came together quite easily.  They would be fun for families and beyond: events to raise money, to give to neighbors, or for other spring-time events.

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And they bag up pretty, too.

 

I'm definitely feeling excited for a very special, meaningful week with my family this week leading up to Easter Sunday.  Yesterday being Palm Sunday, I thought it the perfect time to teach my girls the meaning of the Easter Egg, the most beautiful symbol of new life.  

What a wonderful week it is to teach our children. 

the sleepy time gal

 

homemade almond butter

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

Almond butter is fantastic.  Some years ago I was really introduced to it when Bobby made almond butter cookies for my birthday and I've been forever since trying to find that exact recipe.  Although I love peanut butter and we eat it like it's going out of style, almond butter is a different, exciting other nut butter.  And an awesome alternative to peanut-allergic kids/schools/events.

A few bonuses to almond butter vs. peanut butter:

  • Almond butter has 26% more Vitamin E, 3% more Iron, and 7% more Calcium than peanut butter.
  • It's higher in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and antioxidants.
  • Almonds are considered alkaline while peanuts are categorized as acidic.  Alkaline foods speed up metabolism, increase energy, and prevent sickness.
  • They are a powerful nut and the only nut categorized as very alkaline.

(Data from here.)

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

So let's make some.   I'm hungry.

homemade almond butter

2 cups almonds

pinch of sea salt

blender with tamper

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

Work in batches.  Pour one cup of almonds into your blender.  Start the blender and slowly raise the speed to high.  Watch the almonds and use your tamper tool (or your blender's equivalent) to constantly push the almonds into the blade.

It takes about two minutes of constantly pushing the almond meal over the blade to mix all of the almonds enough to create the butter.  If your blender isn't super powerful it should take a bit longer.  Be patient and help your blender's motor by moving the almonds.

Add your pinch of salt.

You'll see the almond butter coming together first closest to the blade.  Once you see it coming together at the blade you're almost there!  Keep pushing the almond meal away from the sides of the canister and over the blade.  If your motor starts to sound like it is wearing out, turn the knob to a lower setting and let it blend a bit at that lower level and then turn it up again.

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

This is what one cup of almonds turns into.  With a spoon, scrape out the beautiful, warm almond butter.

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

Spoon into a clear glas jar to show off your brilliant homemade-ness to the world.  Repeat with the remaining cup of almonds and you will totally fill one pint jar.

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

You've made almond butter!

Wouldn't a cute pint jar of homemade almond butter (with a little fabric under the lid or ribbon) be the perfect gift for neighbors at Christmas or for a housewarming gift?

My kids were so excited they came over with fingers all ready for a dip into the jar.  And so they did and then waited patiently for one of our all time favorite lunches and anytime smoothies/shakes...

almonds: make your own almond butter
almonds: make your own almond butter

It's our Banana Coconut-ty Smoothie/Shake!

Stick around tomorrow for the recipe.  Definitely a keeper.  I've had it two days in a row.

If you've missed any of the almonds series, catch up here:

almonds: make your own almond meal

almonds: make your own almond milk

 

feel better shower bars

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We've had some sick twins so far this week.  Very sick, fevered, and congested.

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I've had my Eucalyptus oil diffusing for the congestion, Peppermint oil on their feet for fever, R.C. oil blend on their chest and... sent them into the steamy bathroom to take advantage of our feel better shower bars.  

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The feel better shower bars are a new thing for us.  I've tried them out in the shower to clear my breathing and congestion and used it for the kids congestion.  They work like Vicks Vapor Disks in that the steam from the shower releases the incredible vapor of whatever oils you choose to add to the bar.

Eucalyptus oil is known for its incredible ability to break up mucus and congestion--which is what is used in Vicks.  I love using R.C oil blend in them as well because it is a highly concentrated blend of cold fighting oils.  It works magically on me every time I'm sick and rub it on my chest.

 These feel better shower bars are a more natural and cheaper approach to colds and sickness for you and the kiddos.

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All of the recipes out there for these "vapor disks" call for simply three ingredients: baking soda, water, and essential oils. (I originally found a recipe for these at Frugal by Choice.) They are truly the easiest things to make!

feel better shower bars

1 cup baking soda

1/2 - 1/3 cup water

Eucalyptus essential oil, R.C. oil blend, or your choice of essential oil

 

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{Ironically the little Ainsleigh stirring happily above would turn out to be one of the sickies in the top photo, needing to use the very bars she helped make.}

Mix the baking soda and water together.  It will create an interesting wet paste.

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I like to add several drops of my essential oils into the paste.  That way, as the bar slowly breaks down in the shower there are more oils to be dispelled.

 (You will also and primarily be adding more essential oils to the outside of the bars later.)

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Spoon the paste into any mold.  I used an[amazon_link id="B004GJ5G6O" target="_blank" ] oval silicone baking mold[/amazon_link].   The recipe should make 12 bars, depending on what baking molds you're using.

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Now bake on 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.  If you don't bake them and just let them set, they will crumble in your hands when you unmold them.  Been there, done that.  Bake them for the prescribed time and then let them cool.

Once they are cool, then carefully pop them out.  They should be hardened just enough.

Now the most important part is adding the majority of the essential oils to the top of each bar.  I use about 5 drops of Eucalyptus and 3 drops of R.C blend on each bar.  It soaks in perfectly and are then ready for the shower!

NOTE:  I prefer adding the essential oils to each bar actually right before using it in the shower.  Then I know my bars will be the most potent.  I keep a stack of the prepared bars in my bathroom and simply shake on the drops of oils right before I bring them into the shower.  

Simply put the shower bar anywhere on the floor of your shower, preferably not directly under the water--it will disintegrate it faster.  You will be amazed at the power of these!  After showering with one the other day, I had stuffy Rowan and Annabelle come in to the steamy bathroom just to take advantage of the quick acting vapors.  Just this morning stuffy Bobby came asking what he needed to do to put one in his shower.

IMG_4564 Please let me know if you try making them.  I'd love to hear what you think, how you change the recipe, and so forth.  You could make these with a variety of oils.  But Eucalyptus is amazing.   IMG_4659

And while all of the breathing of steam and vapors was going on yesterday with the sick half of the family, the well ones were dressing poor Rowan in their baby doll clothing.   Never a dull moment around here.  :)

 

the sleepy time gal

 

 

 

 

 

5 ways to maintain order in the home

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A few days ago, I finally got my home in order the way I like it and thrive best in it.  It had been weeks (with all of our sickness) living in a less than orderly house with piles that only grow taller and messes that only expand within each room.  I know for a fact my girls play/create/learn better when the day begins in an orderly house.  They have a blank canvas--lack of mental and physical clutter-- to start a new adventure of play, to write and illustrate a new fashion magazine, or turn the living room into an Indian village.

The trick to keeping up an orderly home for the child and their mother (I'm much more inspired to bake and read and create where there's order) is letting the maintenance follow the day's activities as naturally as possible.

Order in the home has become essential to our large family and our happiness together.  Although I'm not perfect, there are 5 things that help keep our home in such a way that we can live happily alongside one another.

5 Ways to Maintain Order in the Home

1. Always wake up to a tidied home.

There is something about waking up refreshed for a new day along with your children and being greeted by a happy, clean, and orderly house.  It only invites creativity and enthusiasm for the new day.

I'm a lot more willing to jump into the day myself--exercise or making a special breakfast or planning a special activity with my kids--when there is nothing around me to clutter my mind or overwhelm me.  Because those first few hours in the morning really dictate the remainder of the day, I've learned to do what it takes the night before (and sometimes that means putting in more time after the kids are in bed) to start a day with peace and strength for whatever the day may bring.

2. Close the evening with a final sweep of the house.

The only way to wake to an orderly house is to take care of it at night.  Our girls know that there are certain points throughout the day that we take care of any messes or clutter.  The evening is one of them.  After dinner and pajamas are on, my girls expect to be given different tasks to tidy before they can really enjoy the quiet evening in the living room with a book or story.  Some clear the dinner table, others are given the task of tidying the living room, and others have to confirm the art room is picked up--which it rarely is.  And so, every evening the children and both parents are busily attending to their tasks to close out the day.  It really is a natural process to slow down the day and prepare for the next.

Everyone works to then enjoy those quiet moments before bed with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of unity as a family to maintain our home's peace.

3.  Teach your children to be responsible for their play and tidying.

Although I still am a constant reminder-er, my girls know that when they choose to dump the bag of blocks on the floor, they will be expected to put them back when finished.  They know that their plate and fork and glass from every meal is their responsibility to take into the kitchen.  When your children is taught to own their play and activities throughout the day, that ownership allows them to mature and feel a sense of pride in being responsible, at any age.

As you give your children certain responsibilities over activities throughout the day, it means you have to remind less and they learn to remember more.

(Here's one example of a way to give extra responsibility that my kids and I love:  a Dinner Helper Station.)

4.  Be willing to work alongside your children.

Although there are many tasks my children can handle on their own, some tasks overwhelm them which can lead to a battle between child and parent.  Some disorder in our home requires a little (or a lot) of adult help.  Just having me in the room where a huge tidying job is present seems to give my kids the momentum to do it.  Jumping in and helping while giving instruction helps even more.  And in no time, the task is completed without a major struggle.  Everyone wins and feels the literal strength of working together.

5.  Most important, teach your children why order is so vital to the life of your family.

Use moments during your day to teach your child the importance of order.  Not only is this important for order to be understood and kept up for the family unit, but it goes deeper than that.  As you instill order into your children while they are young, it will become a solid principle they live by, whether at home, a neighbor's home (by tidying up at a neighbor's house) or more long term, as a student in college with roommates.

I want my children to be able to feel the difference of a lack of order and order and choose the latter.  Children can feel it in their play, the mood of the home, the mood of the family, and its productivity.  I know they feel it just as I feel it if I wake to a wild and cluttered house, it truly affects my day.  As we use teaching moments to give them the vocabulary to express those feelings, they will want to keep the peace and order of their most precious place, home.

the sleepy time gal

patterns and colors: the big girls' made-over bedroom

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From the time I spray painted Johanna’s hand-me-down bedframe to making her quilt bedspread, I’ve been itching to pull their more “grown-up” bedroom together. I’ve literally had the hanging of Caroline’s big painting on my task list for almost a year. Their room has been one of those postponed projects for this reason or that. Hopefully I’m not the only mother familiar with those…

I love redecorating my home. I love reusing what I already have around the house. So I never quite know what the outcome will be to a room when I start gathering things from here and there and putting them together in a new way, for a new space.

Over their dresser I hung:

  • pretty mirrors I’ve had and never used for years (I’m still missing one somewhere)
  • glued ribbon to the back and hung so it appears they are actually holding the mirrors. Quite sly…
  • the girls beautiful flowers hung to dry

I love the simple, free decorating solution of hanging flowers.  So feminine and big girlish.

Caroline’s corner:

  • whimsical yard sale art in the corner
  • curtains made from fabric passed down from my Granny–they were actually twin sheets
  • her grand painting she made

And a new pillow that she and her sister are fighting over as to who will keep it on their bed. (I feel another pillow coming on…)

I used Sarah Jane’s Children at Play fabric with the coordinating Meadow Pink fabric backing for the little throw pillow.

Then there is Johanna’s side of the room…

  • her artwork in IKEA frames
  • drying flowers
  • a new poster I loved from the beach
  • that blue bedframe
  • and her new quilt, of course

There’s a little desk we’ve had in this space before that has returned. It is back with their homemade bulletin board, painted jar pencil holder, and, my favorite, a needlework piece of The Spirit of ’76, found at a yard sale for 50 cents! (Hello, colonial stuff!) I painted the old brown frame blue.

And the chapter book shelves with room time bag hook. This bookcase is reorganized by the girls every other day. Seriously.

There’s the tour! Lots of mixed colors and bold patterns all thrown into one space.

What do you think?? 

Too busy or just right?

the sleepy time gal

 

daily buckets

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There are times when I tuck in my older girls at night that they remind me of something we were supposed to do that day.  Some book to have read.  Some project to have started, some activity they've been asking about for some time.  Although I'm so totally aware that I'm not superwoman, I still close their door at night frustrated that I forgot again and didn't plan four little girls' plans, hopes, desires and needs better.

Late one night I began to gather supplies of things they have asked about or I've wanted to do with each girl.  I put them all in a pile on the table and then remembered the little buckets I picked up at the beginning of the summer for eating outdoors.  (And s'mores.)

I wrote everyone's names on the buckets, including mine, and began to excitedly fill each bucket.  (More details below on what to fill them with.)

The daily buckets are there to 1) remind me or my child of something important that needs to be done that day.  2) to set aside specific activities I want to do with each child or that they would be excited to do on their own at a specific time.  And 3) act like a personal mailbox for each child to check each morning for lists, reminders, surprises and such.

So here's the approach to filling our Daily Buckets:

Daily Buckets

1.  Assign each child a bucket.  Keep it in the same place so they can check it daily.

2.  Every night or early morning, fill each bucket with:

  • Activities that child has been asking to do (i.e. special activity books, crafts, play things that only come out every once in a while.)  Since these are "daily" buckets, one thing is all that is necessary.  This is a great time to pull out the activities that are usually forgotten and actually highlight them.
  • Projects, assignments, and important things that have due dates for you or your child.  If it is in their bucket that day, they will understand it has a deadline.  This could be an unfinished birthday card your child needs to finish, filling out a form (like my hospital registration), returning a movie to the library, or even a list of household jobs for that specific child that day.
  • Specific experiences/activities you want to personally have with each child that day.  Putting special, short projects in each bucket per child acts as a reminder for the most important things you want to do with each child that day.  It might be a book to read to them,  a cookbook, something you want to teach them (tying shoelaces), or something you want to sit down and help them with.
  • Something important you don't want to forget about.  For my younger girls, their buckets are more simple.  For example, Ainsleigh's bucket held a few puppets and coloring pages from her church nursery class that I wanted her to share with the family before I recycled them.  It is a way to celebrate the child and their works without shuffling the papers around on the counter.  It really cuts down on counter clutter by distributing the responsibilities.

Here are some examples from the photo above of our buckets one random day:

Johanna-- Her colonial paper dolls that require my cutting them out for her to play with them.  Alphabet flashcards to read to her little sisters.

Ainsleigh-- Her church nursery colored handouts and puppets to share at family night.

Caroline-- Her loom that she has forgotten about and will be a happy to be reminded of.  Dry erase boards to practice some left-handed handwriting skills with mama.  A nature book for her to plan out a summer nature project.

And...

Annabelle-- Our perpetual calendar that the girls take turns setting.  She and I would get to do it together and set it up on the bookcase for the day.

Mommy-- Hospital registration and baby onesies.  A reminder of a little project the girls and I wanted to do for an afternoon.

Because this is a daily ritual, I don't stress out over perfectly even buckets, the perfectly filled bucket, and such.  Some days a child will just have one item, other days, a few more.  The whole idea is that it keeps the ideas, projects, needs, fun, and learning in a reachable place that I can prepare before the start of a new day instead of forgetting and regretting.

As for my girls, it has become a special and exciting daily ritual.  The bucket activities sometimes fill up a free moment in the day, other times their contents are assigned by me, like Ainsleigh sharing her works in her bucket at family night.  There definitely is something exciting about them.  The girls come downstairs in the morning and peek in them, anticipating something new and different that day.  Sometimes they find a treat in their bucket, like little acorn faces for each of them.

The possibilities are endless. I'd like to start using the buckets for personal little reminders for my older girls, like packing for a day trip, so they can own it and take some responsibility for it.  And I'd like to leave reminders for family birthdays so that the bucket acts like a personal mailbox for them to check each morning, love notes included.

What would you put in your child's daily bucket today??

the sleepy time gal

pretty hand towels + basket

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Good morning!

Here' s a little project I think you'll enjoy.  Something to spruce up a boring bathroom.  That is definitely what it did for ours!  With potty chairs and the kids' stool at the sink and toys found here and there, I elevated our main floor bathroom from all-kids to something a little nicer.  We'll start with the pretty hand towels...

I love the color of the towels!

Pretty Hand Towels

 

  • colorful hand towels
  • cotton fabric (5 inch by 17 inch strip)
I picked my hand towels up at Target.  These are neither the cheapest towels nor the expensive ones, but the medium grade towels.  They worked perfectly and will wash well.

Iron 1/2 inch to an inch of all four sides as seen above.  Lay it on the hand towel, right side up, to make sure it lines up the way you want it.

Pin the fabric into place.  Stitch fabric strip into place on your machine.

That is it!

Make a stack of coordinating hand towels for your bathroom.  I used Amy Buter's Soul Blossom Joy Disco Flower Chocolate and her Soul Blossoms Passion Temple Tulip Cinnamon fabric.

Now you get to fill a basket you have around the house!

 For our bathroom on the main floor with a pedestal sink, storage is an issue.  We needed a place for extra toilet paper rolls, magazines, extra hand towels, and such.  A nice low basket I already had was perfect.  I keep the toilet paper rolls behind the magazines (as they are unseen), then a stack of magazines, then a stack of pretty hand towels.

(Never thought I'd take a photo of my bathroom floor!)

The basket slides right into the narrow space around the base of the sink.  Everything is in one place.

The hand towels, wrapped up with twine, would be a perfect bridal gift. There are so many options with mixing hand towel colors and coordinating fabric.  And they sew up fast.  (What else would you expect from a mother of 4??)  I whipped these up yesterday morning before breakfast.  Enjoy!

the sleepy time gal

croque monsieur, family-style

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Good morning!

It seems that everything I posted about here concerning my disciplined eating this pregnancy has been all thrown out the window durning this trimester.  The problem this trimester is really quantity.  And I crave sweets, just to name a few.   But what is pregnancy without the struggle with how much and what to eat??

I have a family dinner to share that was quite satisfying, fast, and most importantly, the whole family enjoyed.  Here is my own Croque Monsieur...

Before I get to the sandwich making, here is our recipe we use in our bread machine for focaccia.  This or a ciabatta loaf are great for this recipe.

Our focaccia recipe comes from [amazon_link id="155832156X" target="_blank" ]The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookboo[/amazon_link]k.  You can find the full recipe for your bread macine online here.

Add  ingredients to your machine (I replaced half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour) and set it on the dough cycle.

I just form two loaves with this recipe as if they were ciabatta loaves, long and thin. Let rise and bake according to the recipe.

Croque Monsieur, Family-Style

 

Ingredients:

Focaccia or ciabatta loaf

deli ham

sliced brie

parmesan cheese

1 cup of milk

5 eggs

salt and pepper

fresh nutmeg

Grey Poupon

tomato (optional)

Gather your ingredients.

Make the egg mixture.  Add the eggs, milk, some shredded parmesan cheese, a pinch of grated fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.  Beat together and set aside in a casserole dish.

Spread Gray Poupon sides of sliced loaf.  Begin layering with ham and brie cheese.  I added tomatoes to half of the loaf for those who like tomatoes.

Carefully place the loaf in the egg mixture to soak for a few minutes.

Now soak the other side.  I use two spatulas to transfer the loaf sandwich.

Set on a hot, buttered, skillet and grill.  Both sides.  Take off grill when the cheese is starting to melt and all of the croque monsieur layers are warmed through.

You can present the beautiful croque monsieur on a platter for your family and slice once seated.

Then you can slice the right size for the right child, with or without tomatoes as well.

To keep the dinner simple and fast, serve with fresh fruit, baby carrots, and chips and hummus.

Bon appetit!

the sleepy time gal

 

the roll-up canvas sack

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The other day a friend stopped by to see my burlap buckets I've made.  She thought it would be a great idea to make a few to hold bottled waters and snacks for the wedding party on the day of her daughter's upcoming wedding.  I loved the idea, the easy transportation via plane and such, but knew it would take some time to make each burlap bucket and time was of the essence.

This idea of a roll-up canvas sack kept coming to my mind.   It is kinda like the bucket put completely simple.  Canvas, especially the duck cloth I use, is sturdy enough that the sack stands on its own, no lining or batting.  What you see is what you get.  Plus I thought her idea of storing bottled waters and snacks in these would be more aesthetic than the wide-mouthed, flimsy burlap buckets.  

So here is the roll-up canvas sack.  So versatile that I really can't wait to make a few more this week: one for our weekend trip to Virginia labeled "travel" for waters and snacks to keep in the car and another for random half eaten baked goods to be stored in one place for my counter.  Once you let your mind start exploring all of the descriptive words that you could paint or stamp or stencil on the sack, you realize they could be used in so many rooms of your house for organization, and beautiful organization at that.

More ideas:

  • make multiple sacks for your pantry to be stored neatly in a row: boxed pastas, snacks, dried fruit, onions, potatoes, and so forth.
  • a sack for next to the front door for mail, keys, sunblock, or whatever you need on the go--labeled "welcome home" or "mail".
  • a large sack for all of the unmatched socks which can sit pretty on the dryer--labeled "socks".
  • a small sack for each of your children's small trinkets, jewelry, stickers, and rocks for their bedrooms--labeled with initials or names.
  • a sack by beds with bedtime books--labeled "bedtime".
  • a large sack labeled "donate" where you collect items until the sack is filled and then you donate them.
  • a sack to keep in your trunk with bottled waters, an outdoor blanket, and emergency supplies--labeled "car".
  • a large sack for outside each bedroom's door where clean clothes can be tossed for older children to fold and put away--labeled "clean".
  • mini sacks made as party favors, filled with candies, a candle, flowers, or homemade cookies--labeled "for you" or "thank you".
  • a sack to be kept in the shed or garage with gardening supplies labeled "garden".

The Roll-Up Canvas Sack

You'll need:

duck cloth (a very thick, sturdy canvas found at any fabric store)

needle and thread

paints and brush

Decide how big you want your sack to be.  This sack I made is about 15 inches wide.  I consider this a medium sack.

With your cloth folded, cut the fabric 1 inch extra than what you want the sack to end up measuring width-wise.  Don't trim off the top until later in the sack-making process.  This is how your fabric should look above to begin.

All the sack comprises of is essentially two side seams.  So sew along each side, with 1/2 inch seam allowance, which will create a basic bag.  Flip inside-out and press.  You will be leaving the top unfinished.

Roughly fold down the top of the bag to create this above.

Now stick your hands into the bag and form a simple bottom by pushing the sides of the sturdy cloth out against the backs of your hands.  Bring your hands outside of the bag now and you'll see that you have just created two natural folds that can be pinned down to make a permanent bottom as seen above.  They don't have to be perfect.

This is how the two pinned-down folds should look once pinned.

With your needle and thread, stitch a few stitches on both sides of the folds to secure the bottom.

Now that the bottom has been created, decide if you want to trim any of the roll top.  Because the cloth is so thick and sturdy, the more you keep to roll down the more bulky the mouth of the sack will be.  I trimmed off a few inches and was satisfied once I rerolled the top.

Embellish.  Flatten your bag and slip a scrap of your canvas into the sack to prevent paint from seeping through.  Get creative with this part!  Stamps, stencils, freehand painting, children's artwork painted on, iron-on adhesive of your favorite fabrics, sewn-on buttons or charms, or left simply blank.

Once your paint dries, you'll have a beautifully simple organizing sack to add to any corner or cubby of your home.  Fill it to the brim or keep it lightly filled, either way the duck cloth will hold its shape perfectly because of the rolled top.  And if you couldn't tell by the tutorial, this sack, before the embellishing take roughly 10 minutes to make.  I'd love to have a stash of these flat in a closet somewhere, ready to be filled as a gift basket--and a reusable gift basket for the recipient at that!

If you want to make a bunch of these, make them in an assembly line.  Have all of the fabric cut and sew all of the side seams first.  You could sew 10 sacks' side seams in minutes.  Then you can do the hand sewing all at once, as well.  You could definitely whip out a ton this way.

How would you fill a sack?

the sleepy time gal

 

outdoor pillows

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Good morning!
I had a little technical difficulty yesterday but now I'm back.  I'm happy to share this simple tutorial for outdoor pillows.  It is a basic pillow but can add so much life to a backyard, table with chairs, lounge chairs, or whatever you may have.  We were happy to pick up a table and a few chairs at a yard sale a few summers back.  They aren't the sturdiest, but they have made it into their second summer on our porch.
Since it is a field of brown when you look out onto our porch, I have been wanting to add a splash of color on the porch and outdoor pillows was the perfect solution.  Come see...

Outdoor Pillows

What you'll need:

outdoor canvas (It is in the canvas section at Jo Ann's labeled "outdoor")

thread

batting

 

If you know how to make a simple pillow, that is exactly what to do for an outdoor pillow.  If you need a little guidance, here goes.

As seen above, cut out two rectangle pieces the size of the pillow you want.  With right sides together, you are ready to begin sewing.

Sew three of the four sides of the pieces together, about 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Sew 3/4 of the fourth side together leaving a large enough opening for turning the pillow outside-in.

Turn outside-in and press.

You will have a nicely pressed opening now.  Stuff with your batting until the right thickness.

Now back to your machine, stitch the opening closed.

I made a variety of sizes of these outdoor pillow.  Aren't they pretty and simple?

Because they are made of outdoor canvas they are more rugged and sturdy but I still bring them in the house because they aren't water resistant.  I'm thinking if you want them resistant to rain you could coat them with spray.

We have enjoyed these pillows for a few outdoor dinners and relaxing outdoors.  Jo Ann's actually has some attractive varieties of outdoor canvas that could add to your backyard.  I hope you try them--they sew up fast and are quite thrilling once they are a part of your backyard.

 

the sleepy time gal