Archive for the 'family stuff' Category

Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast

Today is cold with traces of yesterday’s sleet still on the ground. These will probably be the last cold days of winter here.  It was perfect for trying something that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time:  Baked French Toast.

Our Sunday afternoon was free after our plans were cancelled due to the weather.  We started off with our favorite cinnamon bread recipe but instead of making a loaf, we split it up into 8 equal parts and made mini loaves.  My 13 year old helped with the rolling and preparing of the dough.  These small bits of dough are a lot easier for kids to handle.
Baked French Toast - dough

We rolled them and put them into the mini loaf tin to rise for 3 hours.

Baked French Toast - rising
Then last night I baked the bread.  The house smelled great.  After it cooled, I poked each loaf full of holes with a toothpick and put it in an egg and milk mixture (with a little salt and sugar added – just like French Toast).  I flipped it a couple of times and let it soak all night.  *The best way to do it would have been to cut them in half and let them soak (explained below).
Baked French Toast - soaking

When I woke up this morning, the kids were waiting.  They had skipped their normal breakfast and were in the school room working, all wondering when the French Toast would be ready.  The nice thing about these recipes that take a long time is that by the time the food is done, the kids have been waiting, salivating, and waiting some more.  The anticipation makes the experience of eating that much better.

I cut open one loaf and saw that the egg mixture hadn’t penetrated through to the center of the loaf like I hoped.  I cut the loaves in half and let them soak a few more minutes cut side down.  I stuck them back in the oven for 30 minutes and they were done!  The egg mixture around the edge had cooked up nicely as well.  You can see it stuck to the bottom of the piece below.
Baked French Toast

I had 1 half loaf.  The kids each ate FIVE!  They certainly are growing boys.  So this isn’t a recipe post, but a post to encourage you to try something you haven’t tried before but have wanted to.  There are Baked French Toast recipes out there, but most of them look like bread pudding and I wanted to use my little loaves.  So I did.  And love how they turned out.  Breakfast isn’t a meal that we usually sit around the table to eat, but today we did and it was special.

Fruit Salad Quilt

Even though school has started it still feels very much like summer around here.  We’re still wearing shorts, tank tops, applying sunscreen, and staying inside during 100+ degree temps.  Summers around here mean our fruit basket is always full of nice, ripe nectarines or plums.  Our fridge is stocked with berries and there is usually a melon or papaya on the counter.  Lots of fruit means large bowls of fruit salad at dinner.  I always like a nice sweet melon to be the foundation of my fruit salad, then toss in berries to give it color.  The kids often request banana slices and peaches are a nice touch as well.
Fruit Salad

I was working on a quilt this summer that reminded me of our fruit salad.  The way I like to build a fruit salad is similar to the way I like to build a quilt.  I like using linen to tie everything together and use prints to give a splash of color.  The linen is my melon and the prints are my berries.  

Chimney Sweep Quilt

This quilt turned out a lot larger than I expected, about 4 ft square.  It was intended to be a baby spit-up quilt but I’m sure can be used as a blanket when baby is well into the toddler years.  This quilt design is called “Chimney Sweep”.  This is the second one I’ve made and I’m not tired of it yet.

Chimney Sweep Quilt
Admittedly the berries we get in Texas look beautiful, but don’t taste very sweet.  Not like the sweet blueberries we could get when we lived up in Michigan.  For those of you who live in a part of the world where berries grow all summer long – you are blessed!  We get to pick strawberries for about a month before it gets too hot for them to grow.  By the time the trucked-in berries make it to our grocery stores they are pricey and bland.  If you live in an area similar to mine, let me share a little trick with you (learned from my mom) for sweetening up strawberries that need a little help:  sprinkle a little vanilla pudding powder on them after slicing.  It looks nice sprinkled on blueberries too.

Pudding Powder


How can I call myself crafty and never have made a costume for my kids for trick-or-treatin’?  All these years of watching people do things for their kids and I’ve never had anything to show.  Well all that has changed.  The kids were supposed to have a Lego-themed costume for a trunk-or-treat.  They all had soccer games, with no time to change so these were perfect.  Brickheads!

This experience has taught me that I prefer sewing to spray painting, but the kids loved them.   When I heard some kids say, “Look!  Lego heads!  Cool!”  the little kid in me had to smile.  A nice bonus is that brickheads are easy to spot in a crowd.

And now they look pretty cool up in the toy room.

Cad Bane has been trapped on a planet of giant brick mountains.
But worse, he has lost his hat…

Our First Vacation Without the Kids (as Told Through Emails)

June 29, 2011

Hi Boys!
I hope you had a good day today!  I wanted to show you this picture of an cow elk.  The COW part means that it’s a girl.  I heard this elk before I saw it.  I heard it sneeze a few times.  I was a little afraid that it might be a bear, but as we got closer, I saw it’s feet and told daddy that there was a horse in the woods.  🙂  It turned out to be an elk and she was sneezing and sneezing.  I think she had allergies so I gave her one of my allergy pills.  Just kidding!

Also, even though it gets warm here, there are still parts of the woods that have snow in them.  I’m holding a snowball in the picture.

Love,  Mommy

June 30, 2011

Hi mom do you think I would think that you gave an elk a pill? Elk can bite you know.
Anyway how are you and dad? How can snow be there in the summer? How can you hold snow without gloves?
love, Timo

I like your pictures why aren’t you wearing gloves?
love, Josh

Hi mom why are you not wearing gloves wen you are holding the snow ball?
love, nathan

June 30, 2011

Hi Guys!
So nice to hear from each of you!  The snow was cold, but I only held it for a few seconds.  After daddy took the picture, he was still looking at the camera when I threw the snowball over his head.  He got really scared because he thought it was going to hit his face!  It was funny.
Timo, do you really think elk can bite?  I’ve never actually seen their teeth.  Maybe they just chew with their lips.  Ha ha, I’m so funny.
We went rock climbing yesterday.  Here’s a picture of me on a rock.

Here is also a picture of me hiking in the snow this morning.  Daddy said I would be fine in shorts, but I wasn’t!  It was way too cold for shorts.

We’ll see you soon!

July 1, 2011

You are not funny !!!  Besides why trust dad?
You are an adult you can make your own decisions.
This should teach you a lesson, never wear shorts in the in the snow.
love, Timo

why did you trust daddy?!?!?!?!?!
love,  josh

why trust dad? daddy is not smart. ha! ha!
love, nathan

Ahhhh, vacation…

This was the first time Matt and I have taken a trip without the kids.  We went to Colorado, the dog stayed at home with a sitter and the kids went to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  We talked to them on the phone, but what was really special to me was that this is the first time the kids have ever sent me emails.  They were cracking us up.

We did a lot of hiking in these:

and a little bit of rock climbing in these:

Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful

but I missed the kids and kept thinking how much they’d enjoy hiking with us.  Next time it will be a family trip.

Sweet + Salty = Kettle Corn


I love it when the kettle corn guy is at the local high school craft show.  Even if I don’t buy anything at the show, I’ll bring home some kettle corn for the family.  I’ve tried the microwavable kettle corn but it has a funky taste.  So I’ve been perfecting my non-dairy kettle corn recipe and with my sister visiting last weekend, I finally got the ratio of salt to sugar down.

Kettle Corn The Old Fashioned Way

1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Sugar
3/8  tsp salt
1/2 Cup popcorn
Pot with lid


1.  Mix the sugar and salt together and grind with mortar and pestle until fine.  Grinding it up makes a little bit go a long way.  Less sugar = more healthy, right?

2.  Put Olive Oil in a pot with 5 kernels of popcorn and cover with lid.  Heat on medium high until you hear 1 *pop*.


3.  Quickly add Sugar/Salt combo and remaining popcorn and give a couple of good shakes to get everything mixed up well.  Shake the pot front and back over the fire while doing a little dance. Popping will pick up, then it will start to slow.  Remove from fire.

4.  Continue to shake for a few more seconds and enjoy!



* Burned sugar is bad – very bad.  Do not overcook!
*I use a gas stove.  I imagine that an electric stove could get too hot and burn the sugar – be careful here and experiment to find the right setting on your stove.

Pop! goes the brain.

Ah, vacation – it really is lovely.  This year our family went to visit my sister’s family in Seattle. 


After a couple of days away from the house and the sewing machine, I started to feel my brain relax.


Really.  It actually popped like my ears pop during the plane’s descent – free from the tight wadded up, stressed out ball of neurons it had become.  I slowed down and started looking around.

twin falls trail

I was seeing beauty everywhere – especially on the trail we hiked on our last day.


And this beautifully symmetrical weed-looking-celery-looking-leafy thing?  I can’t explain why I like the shape so much, but I do!

I spent the flight home sketching and taking notes on design ideas.  Then, when we came home, I started focusing on  all the things I had to get done, and I could see myself rapidly returning to the stressed out crafter I was before we left.  Not a good feeling.  So today I shipped off pattern orders and spent time throwing stuff out.  That’s the plan for this week – the last week of summer.

Amazingly, Joanna and I didn’t get a chance to sew together.  With 6 young boys between us I don’t know why I thought we could.  Maybe a sew-along is in order.  :o)  Thanks for a great week, Joanna!

Shaving Fuzzies

I have this sweater.  It’s not particularly beautiful, but it’s so cozy and has warm pockets.  It looked great when I bought it, but after the first wear it started to pill up and it only got worse until I was embarrased to be wearing it.  But I still did, ‘cuz it was SO COZY!  I tried everything – a DFuzzIt, a Sweater Stone…they all failed me even after hours of defuzzing or rubbing with the stone.

defuzz before

Did you know that fuzzies are really hard to capture in a picture?   After some brainstorming, I decided what I needed was clippers like what I buzz the boy’s heads with.  And then it hit me – I HAVE clippers that I buzz the boy’s heads with!  I got it out, took off the guard and started buzzing.  And buzzing.  And buzzing.  Carefully.  Can you see the difference? 


It was really fun.  And addicting.  It was WAY  past time to start school when I looked at the clock, but we managed to finish our school for the day anyway.  And now I get to wear my cozy sweater – fuzz-free!

Disclaimer:  This worked really well for me, BUT you have to be careful because although I didn’t tear my sweater, I could see it happening if I were careless.

Craft Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, crafting is my apple. It’s what I do to maintain my sanity while taking care of my family. I homeschool my three boys, ages 14, 15, and 16), am a quilter, a bagaholic, and pattern designer.  Oh – and I also like taking pictures.

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