Reusable Snack Bag Tutorial

Supplies Needed:
  • Reusable Snack Bag Pattern (Make as many as you like, but please don't sell from this pattern.)
  • Outside Fabric (patterned material of your choice)
  • Inside Fabric (I used a polyester shower curtain, I have also used PUL on bags that needed to be waterproof.)
  • Velcro
  • Thread

1.  Cut 2 pieces from each of your fabrics.
2.  Place the outside fabric "right" sides together, then place the inside fabric "right" sides facing out. Like so...
3.  Take one layer of the outside and inside fabric folding down your top edge once, and then again sewing along the fold to make a finished hem.  Do this with both of your pieces.  I like to iron my fold and then I don't have to use pins.  Okay - I never use pins.  (Sorry Gwam.)
4.  Place right sides together and sew along the bottom (opposite end from the hem you just added).  Only stitch the bottom for now and not the sides.
5.  Now attach your Velcro right under the hem, at the top of each side, lining it up with the stitching.  You can really place the Velcro wherever you want, but I like how the stitches line up this way. I usually single stitch and zig zag around the Velcro.  This may be overkill, but my kids like to open and shut the bags incessantly, and I thought they would hold up better this way.
6.  Now it's time to stitch up the sides and trim any excess from your seams (is that the right word here?)
7.  And last, but not least, flip your bag right side out and topstitch around the edges.  Again your probably don't have to topstitch if you don't want to, but I thought it would make it a little sturdier and look a little cleaner.
And VOILA one finished Snack Bag.  

I hope this was easy enough to follow.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will get back to you.  These can either be wiped out by hand or thrown into the wash.  And depending on what material you use for the inside you can decide whether or not you want to put it into the dryer.  

Happy Snacking!!


It's a Girl!!

We have a new baby!  Sarah, one of our regular blog contributors (and my Sister-in-Law) just had a little girl this morning.  We have been anxiously awaiting her arrival, and now she is finally here!  Sarah did amazingly, and both she and baby are doing great.  I am one proud Auntie and Sister!

Milena (Mil-LAY-nah) Jane
8lbs. 6oz.

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

p.s.  I see that I will be posting this on top of something that Sarah just wrote.  Please scroll down and check it out!

Master Baking Mix

Everyone should have the More-With-Less-Cookbook! But if you don't, I thought I would pass along one of my favorite recipes from it. This Master Mix recipe has come in very handy and I was eager to whip it up again while looking forward to the busy days ahead (should baby ever decide to actually grace us with his/her presence!). I like it because it is a great combination of convenience and control: I can throw this mix together and grab it when I quickly need to make something, while still knowing that good stuff went into it. Quality doesn't have to be sacrificed for the sake of time-saving!

Master Mix:

8 lbs. 4 lbs.
Sift together 3 times:

5 lbs. 10 c. flour*
3/4 c. 6 T. baking powder
3 T. 1 1/2 T. salt
1 T. 1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 c. 1/4 c. sugar

Cut into the consistency of cornmeal:
2 lbs. 2 c. vegetable shortening**

Stir in:
4 c. 2 c. dry milk powder

Store in covered container at room temperature.***

Changes I've made:
* I typically make the 4lb. recipe and use 5 cups white flour, 4 cups whole wheat, and 1 cup flax seed.

** vegetable shortening is a hydrogenated oil/trans fat, so I try to stay away from it. Instead of having it in there, simply add in oil or applesauce to your mix when actually in use.

***When using whole wheat, keep your master mix in the refrigerator, as that is supposed to help the wheat maintain its wholesome goodness better. This may or may not be true, but I say might as well do it...

This is what my 4lb batch looks like.


Pancakes or Waffles
(serves 4- who only needs 4 waffles?! actually, this is nice because most of the time I'm just making them for my two Littles, so I don't feel like much gets wasted, and if I have a bigger crowd I just multiply. This is my favorite way to use it because waffles always make a morning feel "special" and a nice break from the usual! Jeni, I thought this might come in especially handy for you all and your Saturday Gatherings!)

Beat together in a bowl:
1 c milk
1 egg
2 T to 1/4 cup oil if you didn't already add shortening to your mix

stir in:
1 1/2c. Master mix.
- sometimes I thin this out a little more with water too.

Coffee Cake
serves 6
Bake at 375 for 25 min.

Preheat oven
Beat together in a bowl:
1/3 c. milk
1 egg

1/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. Master Mix

Stir until well blended. Pour into greased 8" baking pan. Combine and sprinkle on top:
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. butter
1/2t. cinnamon
1/4c. chopped nuts (optional)

Bake 25 min. serve warm.
I did make this one a while back, and it came out alright, although a little dry and needing just a little more sweetness.

Biscuits (next on my list to try)
makes 8, bake at 450 for 10 min.
Preheat oven
Combine in bowl
1 1/2 c. Master Mix
1/3 c. milk

Add milk all at once, stirring 25 strokes. NOT 24, NOR 26! 25 shall be the number! (sorry, just struck me as funny and very specific- wonder how they came up with 25 as the magic number)
Knead lightly on floured board. Roll 1/2 in. thick, cut and place on ungreased baking sheet.

- use as topping on casseroles, cobblers, meat or vegetable pies or wherever biscuit dough is called for.

Makes 12
Bake at 425 for 20 min.

Preheat oven.
Beat together:
1 egg
1 c. milk
2 T. sugar

3 C. Master Mix

stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake.

add drained fruit or chopped, dried fruit, or chopped nuts.
-or bake as fruit bread using 5x8 greased loaf pan and bake 40 in. at 350.

Replace 1/3 mix with with quick-cooking oats or all bran cereal.

Happy Baking/Eating/Simplifying!


T-shirt Skirt Tutorial

I just finished my second t-shirt skirt and I am sad that it is now fall and I will have to wait until spring before I can wear it!! Here is a long thorough tutorial for this very EASY sewing project!

I started with a XXL men's t-shirt that I found for $1.50 at a local bargain store (Bargain Depot in Lawrence, KS...I love this place). You want to make sure that the t-shirt is plain with no logo/writing on either side.

1) Wash the t-shirt.

2) Turn the t-shirt inside out before you start cutting (this is a very important step).

3) Cut the t-shirt just below the neck opening.
4) Unfortunately, I do not have a template for cutting out the skirt. I cut my t-shirt to the following measurments: 24" long, 24" bottom hem and 20" top/waist. Note that you use the bottom hem of the t-shirt as the bottom of your skirt, so you only make 3 cuts (2 sides and the top).
5) Pin sides and sew a 3/8" (or 1/2") seam.
(If you slip the skirt on at this time it will most likely fit big, but you will be adding elastic to the waste and that will make it fit...I promise)

6) To sew the casing for the elastic waistband you will fold the top down 1" and pin. I used 3/8" elastic, so I wanted my casing to be 1/2". I sewed around the waist at 1/4" and 3/4". Make sure you leave about an inch open so you can insert the elastic. In my photos you will see a piece of black/white fabric...I used this as a "tag" so I know which is the back of the skirt.
7) Thread the elastic. I do this by hooking a safety pin to one side and feeding it through the casing.
8) Try the skirt on and pull the elastic through until it fits the way you want it to. Cut the elastic and sew the ends together with a zig zag stitch. Tuck the elastic back into the casing and sew the casing closed, being sure to backstitch and secure the casing.

This skirt took me about 1 1/2 hours to make (not including washing the t-shirt) but I was doing a lot of measuring, writing instructions and taking photos. This skirt is super comfy and very simple, but you could dress it up with some freezer paper stenciling, which I think I will do once I decide on a design.


Reusable Snack Bags

We have been trying to cut back on the amount of consumable products that we use around our house.  It started with cloth diapers and has found its way into almost (I'm still a little wary of cloth toilet paper) every area of our home.  We aren't trying to make any sort of "green" statement, but if you don't consume it, you don't have to rebuy it.  My new favorite non consumable...(insert drumroll)
...the reusable snack bag.  Okay it doesn't take much to get me excited.

It takes merely minutes to sew up, uses very little material (I used fabric scraps, an old pillowcase for the outsides, and an old shower curtain for the insides. ) and they are much cuter than a Ziploc bag!  Since is has a waterproof lining we can throw in fruits and veggies as well as dry snacks, but I'm thinking we are in a snack rut.
Anyone have any snack ideas?  I prefer the healthier variety, but any suggestions would be great!
Though Micaiah looks pleased with his veggie chips here, he later told me they tasted like frogs.  I'm guessing that's not a good thing.


Book Review

Maybe no one else out there is like me ... I love to have veggies at mealtime! But, I struggle with making them in new and creative ways. They tend to get roasted or steamed in simplicity, dabbed with butter and seasoned. Not that cooking them like that is wrong! But, sometimes I stare at a bag of frozen corn or peas and wonder if there isn't something else that I could come up with. Something tasty, something different.

Enter Fast, Fresh & Green, by Susie Middleton. I checked this out from the library on a whim after I read a review of it in the local paper, probably close to three months ago. The article reviewed around four different cookbooks, all written around veggies and local produce that was available during harvest seasons! This one struck my eye, so I requested it from the library ... waited another month before it was my turn ... and have devoured it since then!

I have been so impressed with all the recipes that we have tried so far. Middleton breaks up her cookbook into eight different cooking methods for veggies, but I usually see what's on sale, look up that vegetable in the index, and go from there! Here are some that we have tried:

- Roasted Broccoli Florets with Two Dipping Sauces
- Sweet Potato mini-fries with Limey Dipping Sauce and Spiced Salt
- Gingery Braised Brussel Sprouts
- Corn Saute with Chile and Lime
- Crushed Red Potatoes with Scallions, Pancetta, and Sour Cream
- Big Bowl Spinach and Snow Pea Salad with Cashews
- Stir Fried Carrots with Ginger, Lime, and Cilantro

We've loved them all ... and although they may sound a bit "froofy" or something, most of the ingredients I have had on hand and the recipes come together quickly. It has definitely upped our intake of veggies on a regular basis, and gotten us out of a "tried and true" mindset! Not that I don't love those tried and true whip it up quick meals/dishes, but something I really want to step outside of what I always fall back on.

Anyway, if you need something on your Christmas list (looking ahead), this might be a fun book to request. And yes, I still have the one from the library ... so if you request it now, you'll be stealing it from me! I confess that I am hoping to get it as a Christmas gift myself rather than buy it now!