Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Curried turkey, rice and peas

     Today is a typical day. I spent my afternoon driving kids around. Seriously that's all I do anymore from 2pm on. Olivia gets out of high school at 1:55. We left at 1:45 to get her and returned home by 2:10. I put Elena to bed and then left her home with Olivia while I went to get Andrew from his school that lets out at 2:35. I brought him home and waited around for a few minutes and left again at 3:00 to take him back to the high school for swim team practice. I ran a few errands, gassed up the van again, and came home to wake Elena up at 4:30 and drive Olivia to volleyball practice. We returned home at 5:00. I put a video on for Elena and started on dinner. At 6:10, my husband and Andrew will be home after their workouts and they will be starving.

     So I'm always looking for quick, easy meals that will appeal to all ages and meet Elena's and my dietary requirements - free of wheat, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, corn, soy and shellfish. This dish has become a weekly staple. I hope you enjoy it.

Curried turkey, rice and peas

Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground turkey
3 Tbsp curry powder
2 c. Uncle Ben's rice, uncooked
2 c. frozen peas
1 box chicken broth - 32 oz.
1-1/2 tsp. salt

     Saute the onion in olive oil and then add the ground turkey. When cooked through, add the curry powder and cook for another minute. Add the rice and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the peas and add the chicken broth and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

     This makes more than enough for my family of big athletes with big appetites. There are always some leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

     That's it. Maybe 15 minutes of prep and then 25 to simmer and it's ready. And I get to sit down and watch a video with Elena while it cooks and I check e-mail. A nice little rest because after dinner someone is going to have to go pick Olivia back up from volleyball at 7. :-D



Monday, October 28, 2013

Kids Clothes Week Fall 2013

     So maybe I didn't sew every single day, and I definitely did not take photos and blog about it everyday, but I did have a very productive week. Elena needed more warm pajamas so I made her two sets of flannel pants with knit tops. They're not the cutest things ever, but they are practical and came from nothing but scraps so I'm happy.

     Thank goodness the flannel was at least floral or for sure she'd look like a boy. I didn't even take the time to embellish in any way at all because, shoot, they're pajamas and she has others that I've made that are adorable if I'm worried about her being seen in these.

     The pants are the free Kid Pants pattern from Dana at DanaMadeIt. They have the full elastic waist. I love this pattern and have made a couple of nice flat front pants from it before, with pockets. It's a nice basic pattern that you can do a lot with and they fit Elena really well. The flannel is nice and thick and was passed on to me from a friend of my mom's last year.

     The shirts are self drafted raglan tees using a couple of old t-shirts of my own, a little cream interlock from the thrift store, and some navy blue ribbing from an old tank top of mine that was too short. I'm not at all against buying new fabric, but I sure love using up old stuff that was headed for a landfill. Repurposing makes me happy. It's also a bonus to get to re-use nice factory hems. And when I couldn't, I went with rib knit bands to avoid hooking up the double needle. I had very limited time this week.

     I also made Elena a pair of harem pants and a Bimaa sweater written about here. And then there was the Bimaa for friend Claire too.


     A couple weeks ago, I was told about a garage sale with lots of 2T clothes, but I was so busy I couldn't get there until Saturday, the final 2 hours of the sale. That turned out to be a blessing, because the seller was offering a deal to fill a grocery bag for $5 so I filled 2, of course. We needed long sleeved tees, but the number I got was pretty ridiculous. I couldn't help myself though. Whatever didn't sell was heading to someone who was going to turn them into dog clothes and I couldn't let that happen to all these nice things.
     A couple of the shirts were a little short on Elena so this week I cut them off 2" below the armpits and added on to make dresses.
The magenta one got the bottom half of green adult sized tee so it was already hemmed and has no side seams. That took all of 10 minutes to run a couple rows of gathering stitches and sew it on. Love the colors.
     The white and pink required slightly more time, maybe 25 minutes because I had to use regular fabric and sew the side seams and do a hem, with the dreaded double needle. I don't know what it is about that double needle, but I can barely ever get all the way around before a thread snaps and I have to stop and fix it. I'm thinking that the key is to thread the machine with both top threads at the same time instead of just adding in the second thread. Does anyone know if that helps?
     I also made my 15 year old daughter a pair of knit yoga pants and a pair of polar fleece sweat pants. I have no pictures of those because once they go into her room, forget about it. I don't like going in there. She likes clutter so I generally keep the door closed. They will come through the wash eventually, but that will be too late for pictures. I'm sure you can imagine some gray pants in the same Girl Charlee gray fabric as Elena's harem pants and some black polar fleece pants. Nothing fancy, but very useful to a girl who plays year round volleyball and needs something to cover those spandex on the way to the gym.
     I also cut out all the materials needed to make 4 more pairs of training pants for Elena. We want to start potty training soon. Look for that posting in a couple of days. Again, it uses up old t-shirts and scraps of flannel. In the meantime, I think I may go buy some PUL to make them waterproof. We do have a new sofa ordered afterall.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wheat Free Chewy Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies (or Peanut Butter)

First, a couple of notes about ingredients:
  • I can find sunflower seed butters at Trader Joes and Heinens.
  • If using peanut butter, use a natural one like Smuckers or something freshly ground.
  • I am supposing that most other nut butters would work as well but we are tree-nut free so I can't know for certain.
  • Oat flour is generally available in 2lb bags from Bob's Red Mill, but I have taken to ordering mine in 50lb bags once a year or so from a bulk foods market. I keep it in the deep freezer in one gallon bags. This drops the cost to less than 70 cents per pound and is more cost effective.
  • You can also make your own oat flour by grinding whole oats in a blender. It works very well.
  • These are also free of dairy and eggs and you won't believe it.

The ingredients:

1-1/2c. brown sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sunflower seed butter or natural peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. oat flour
1-1/2 c. whole oats (quick oats would be second choice)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar or Turbinado sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Begin by mixing the brown sugar, water, oil, sunflower seed butter and vanilla until smooth. Add the salt, baking soda, and oat flour and stir until any lumps are gone. There is no gluten here so don't worry about over stirring. Mix in the oats and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes before dropping cookies by the tablespoon-full onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten by your favorite method (criss-crossed forks, meat mallet, bottom of a glass... and sprinkle with the white or turbinado sugar).

Bake for 12-13 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (this is important with oat flour - trust me). Also yummy frozen and it'll slow you down eating them and make them last longer. Makes 3 dozen cookies.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

H is for Harem Pants

     Welcome to my third week blogging. I love sewing and I love dressing my little one in unique clothes that you don't see everywhere. This outfit definitely qualifies and will likely get a few funny looks from some people I know, but I love it. (Elena insisted on the hat. We've been playing in the Halloween costume box a lot lately.)

      I made my 15 year old daughter some knit yoga pants yesterday and there were just enough scraps leftover to make harem pants for Elena. I was especially looking for an "H" inspired idea so I can join in on Katy of No Big Dill's Sew All 26.

     I used the Best Harem Pants pattern from toosweetspatterns. It was part of the Sew Fab Bundle on sale a couple weeks ago. It also included the very popular Bimaa sweater from Lou Bee Clothing. I made a 2T for both.

     The pants fabric is a cotton lycra from Girl Charlee. This pattern is super simple and quick. The whole thing - printing, cutting and sewing - took 40 minutes. If only I had a serger. Things like this would be even quicker. The only trouble I had was that the waistband wasn't tight enough and in the end I had to insert some 1-1/2" elastic to hold them up. But since I had some on hand, it wasn't any trouble and now they fit comfortably. Sorry for the lousy pictures. I am a sewer, not a photographer, but I'm working on it. Like I said, this is only my third week blogging so I have much to learn.

          The Bimaa is made out of a knit sheet set I found at the thrift store last year. It was basically a wearable muslin just to try it out. I LOVE it. Elena likes it too. This shirt makes me want to finish every tee I ever make with bands and no hems for the rest of my life. I know that's not realistic, but it was that quick and easy to do. I usually use a double needle for hemming and it's kind of a pain to wind a second bobbin to use for the extra top thread and setting it up and all that. This was just so fast.



     I loved the Bimaa so much that I whipped up another one in more Girl Charlee fabric from my stash for our little friend Claire's 5th birthday. She tried it on and left wearing it and carrying her Hello Kitty shirt home with her. Claire has some serious fashion sense and apparently likes unique clothing as well. Plus she's such a sweetheart she was probably trying to make me feel good. Love that Claire.

     There are likely to be many more Bimaa's in our future. I'll try the hoody one next and then the shawl. As for harem pants, maybe one pair is enough for Elena. When we put them on, she grabbed the extra fabric and said, "uh oh, broken" but she hasn't complained all day and she seems comfortable. I can't wait til Olivia, my 15 year old, gets home from school and sees Elena. She's going to ask for a pair too. Think I'll go check the Girl Charlee site now and see about ordering more fabric.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

G is for Golden Days of Fall


     Katy of No Big Dill and her Sew All 26 is inspiring today's post. What a great idea. Go check her out if you aren't one of her thousands of followers already.

     Gold leaves are my favorites in the fall. Gold is warm. Gold is sunshine. Gold is the beach.

     I made this tunic using McCall's 6785, view D. It was super easy. It is a raglan sleeve tunic with ruching at the sides. The hardest part was matching up the stripes at the shoulders. Not perfect, but pretty darn good I think. The trim is something that came in a bag of assorted craft supplies at a local discount grocery store that also carries closeouts. I can't believe how many useful things were in there for $1.99. The outfit was looking like pajamas so it needed something.

     I lucked out and found the ties in my mom's stash so I didn't have to try to make anything so skinny myself. Elena is so tall and narrow, that without the ruching she'd look like a striped hot dog or something so I like that detail and it was easy. All you do is sew the seam allowances down to create a channel.



     The leggings are self drafted from some cream interlock I found at the thrift store for $1. So far that has become these leggings and a long sleeved tee and there's still more. A good buy I'd say. I added ruching at the ankles by sewing elastic to the inside, to again avoid looking like pajamas. Of course the boots are mostly covering it here.
     Along the Lake Erie shoreline, things are still pretty green and gold. We still have a lot of leaves on the trees and the weather has been in the 60's. Amazing. But I know the 40's and 50's are just days away so I want to see more golden pictures at the beach to wrap this up.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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The BBC Vest

     I grew up going to the fabric store with my mom and looking through those pattern books. I thought it was so fun and so inspiring. Once she settled on a pattern, I wanted to be the one to go find it in the rows of file cabinets. That envelope held all the creative possibilities.

     Fast forward 30 plus years and the world of patterns has changed. I still buy patterns sometimes at Joann's when they are 70 cents or $1 each, but I find them to be kind of basic. I have trouble with the sizing and the directions sometimes leave me scratching my head or looking for a bottle of wine. Sometimes I have to just put the directions away and look at the project and do what makes sense to me. But I will say that I have learned a lot and I find them very useful as basic pieces to mix and match into something more interesting. You know, frankensteining.

     The PDF patterns are very new to me. I purchased the Sew Fab bundle recently, but the first one I bought was the ShwinDesigns BBC vest. I was inspired by this one by Craftiness is not Optional and this one by girl.Inspired. I finally sewed one up yesterday for my little Elena.

     The fabric choice is a little busy for me but I LOVE the shape of this vest. The racer back and the peplum are adorable. Based on the measurements given, my tall, thin girl required the 12-18 month size in width and a 2T in length. But oh yikes, it is hard to tell with this pattern what is the width and what is the length on those collar pieces. Things were not matching up, but I eventually figured it out and it all worked out perfectly. It fits her sooooo nicely. But next time, I think I'd pick one size and just go with it.

     Did you see what I said? Next time. I guess that means I'm considering making more of these. This one was a little bit like giving birth. It was pretty tough for me to get through but in the end, it was so beautiful, I fell in love and forgot all the pain. I can hardly even remember it now. I mean, look how cute it is. Those pleats in the peplum are to die for.

     We are having such a nice fall around here. We had a great time down at the beach today. No wind, no waves, mid 60's. When I suggested we go to the beach, she went and grabbed a swim suit and added it to the diaper bag. She had to settle for throwing rocks into the water.


     I was very lucky to inherit a large amount of my mom's stash of buttons, trims, fabric, etc. when she did some recent purging. She is pretty excited that I'm using so much of it. That's where I found this button.

     Overall, I liked the BBC Vest pattern very much. It really makes a beautiful product in the end. I could see a fancy one being part of Elena's Christmas outfit this year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wheatless Waffles

     All three of my children have had food allergies. Mostly the usual – milk, eggs, tree nuts, fish, shellfish; but also things like corn, beef, yeast and even rice (seriously?).  After the first two (Olivia and Andrew), I was reluctant to have more babies because I was afraid one would be allergic to wheat and peanuts and then we’d have nothing quick and easy left to eat. Many years went by but the desire for more children never waned so 11 years later, Elena was born and low and behold, she’s allergic to wheat! She is also allergic or sensitive or intolerant to milk, eggs, tree nuts, corn, soy, and we’re just assuming shellfish too. And let me tell you, it’s a bummer sometimes because for as long as I am nursing, I can’t eat those foods either. In addition, I have nursed them each for a long, long time because I have to be their main source of calcium and other nutrients I worry they’re missing out on.

      I can live without shellfish, beef, and nuts. Not having eggs isn’t bad either once you learn how to bake without them. No dairy hurts though. That’s a painful one to give up - especially cheese. I still dream of cheese - especially an aged, New York white cheddar, mmmm. Mexican food isn’t the same without cheese. Asian food isn’t Asian food without soy, teriyaki, miso, etc. But wheat, losing wheat was the toughest. one. ever.

     It is quite an adjustment to eliminate wheat. I felt hungry all the time for the first couple of months. I went through some kind of withdrawal, both physical and psychological. You just have to go all in. Just do it. No looking back. No halfway.

     Goodbye sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage sandwiches, pizza (which isn’t the same without the cheese anyway so I was already over that). Goodbye garlic bread, crackers, birthday cakes … ok, you get the idea.

      But a strange thing happens when I cut out these foods, especially the wheat and the dairy. I feel better. My mood is better. My energy is way better. My weight drops. After Olivia and Andrew weaned, I slowly added everything back over a few years time. The weight came back with it. The mood swings too. Giving them up again for Elena has shown me that I really am better off without them and I don’t think I’m ever going back -even though the pressure to just eat normal is huge from a social standpoint.

      People always ask, “So what do you eat?” You’d be surprised how many awesome foods are still available when you don’t rely on wheat and dairy to be your staples. I currently eat all kinds of meat and fish (but not shellfish), beans, peanuts (thank you Lord!), all fruits and vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, rice, quinoa, oats, and a little bit of barley. Did you even know that rice comes not only in white or brown, but also red and black varieties? Quinoa also comes in white, red and black. So instead of seeing it as limiting, I try to see it as expanding my horizons. A whole world of foods opens up when you put down the bag of pretzels and explore new options.

      Just please remember that I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I am just a mom with a lot of experience, and I know what has worked for my family. There are many great sources of info on food allergies. I joined FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) for a year way back in the beginning and learned a lot there. But mostly I read cookbooks and magazines and modify recipes to fit our needs.

      So whether you want to eliminate wheat (who wants to eat it anyway after reading “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD?) or if you have to give it or other foods up for health reasons, I am here to help and I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions as well.

      My saving grace is waffles. I make a batch and it usually lasts Elena and me close to a week. I put half of them in a bag in the fridge and the other half in a bag in the freezer. When I cook them in the waffle iron, I go about 4 minutes on the hottest temp to get them light brown but crispy. When we eat them, I toast them on a pretty light setting in the toaster oven. We like them with peanut butter or sunflower seed butter and some sliced fruit with or without maple syrup. We also use them for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to pack in our bag when on the go.

      This recipe is not only wheat free, but also egg and dairy free. You can modify it in so many ways to fit your needs. This is how I do it:

Wheatless Waffles

 Mix the following dry ingredients together well in a large pitcher. I use an 8 cup plastic measuring cup.

 2 c. oat flour
½ c. brown rice flour
¼ c. arrowroot powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. ground flax seed (This is the egg substitute. It will act as a binder)

 Then add the wet ingredients.

 ¼ c. canola oil
2 c. milk substitute (I use Silk coconut milk)

You may need to add up to another half cup or so of water to thin it down a bit. You’ll have to eyeball it. It should be the consistency of normal waffle batter. It’s ok if it seems thin at first because it thickens up after a few minutes.

That’s all there is to it. Let me know how you like them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just in Time for Fall - The Apple Dress

The Apple Dress
     Just in time for fall, I made Elena the apple dress. It is the sleeveless version of McCalls 6388 in a 2T with 3T length. I had cut out the sleeves, but decided at the last minute to leave them off so we'd have more options for Indian summer days like this one. I'm glad I did that because the three piece sleeves were going to be a pain to sew and a bigger pain to iron. The fabric is a cotton lawn that I think I bought through Walmart's website last spring. So light and cute.
     I added homemade red piping and chose red buttons for a splash of color. I love the curves of the yoke.
     The pattern calls for the top layer of the flounce to go halfway around from the center front to center back. (?!?!) I just thought that was too odd looking for my symmetrical mind so I cut 2 instead, on the bias as instructed. I am really glad I did, but I wish the direction change showed more. Probably would show more with a different print.
     I'm new to the world of sewing blogs and am learning about so many awesome indie pattern designers and I can't wait to get started sewing up some of the ones I bought including the ShwinDesigns BBC vest and the SewFab Bundle as well as some downloaded for free. (Free is so awesome and generous of these ladies!) But until then, a few more pictures of Elena enjoying her apple dress on a beautiful fall day.