eat your veggies: kale chips

Today I tried to sew a cute top like this one....and it bombed.

Then tonight I tried to sew another skirt like this one....and it bombed.

To be honest, I think I know what went wrong on both counts.  And I can always try again.  But it stinks to know that I wasted a whole naptime doing battle with the shirt, and then another hour and a half tonight trying to make that skirt.

Here's something that did go right today.  Awhile back I saw a quick blurb about oven-baked kale chips in a magazine, and then a week ago my mom mentioned seeing them somewhere too.  I can't recall ever even trying kale, perhaps because the only way it was ever presented to me was a yucky, sloppy mess (and yes, I know I'm a weird Southern girl because I don't like collard greens or turnip greens or any other kind of slow-cooked stringy green stuff.  But since I mostly grew up in Florida, I think I can be excused just this once).  But apparently kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, and while I try to eat spinach regularly I usually don't eat any other dark green leafy veggies.  So today when I was grocery shopping, I bought a little bunch of kale for 98 cents and figured I'd given it a try.  Here's how I did it.

The Ingredients.

Kale (figure two or three leaves per person)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

The Method.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.  Depending on the amount of kale you use, you may need more than one baking sheet.  Since it was just me, I only used a few leaves of kale and one baking sheet.
Make sure the kale has been washed, and then cut away the stem and the tough inner "ribs" of each leaf of kale.  Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and seasonings and toss.  Lay out in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until crispy and brown at the edges.

So these were surprisingly good.  The chips actually do get very crispy, almost to the point where they are more fragile than potato chips.  Now they do still have a slight "kale-ish" aftertaste, but if you like vegetables already it shouldn't bother you.  Even my toddler ate a small bite.  My main gripe with mine was that some of them ended up being a little too salty, but I still ate them all.  Next time I'm going to try just spraying the leaf bits with nonstick spray and then sprinkling them with the seasonings and see if that works just as well.  It might also be fun to experiment with different seasonings, like cumin or cayenne pepper or garlic!  I still have a TON of that 98-cent bunch left, so this is also a very economical side dish.

I did google a few recipes for this, and one called for baking the kale chips at a lower temperature (275 degrees) for 20 minutes, stirring them halfway through.  Not sure if this is a better way to do it, but if anything it may help keep you from burning them since they seem to brown up pretty fast at 350!  They should be yummy either way.  Enjoy!


rice bag

Today I re-arranged and re-organized all of my sewing stuff, so I came across some unfinished projects.  Like this rice bag; I was about two-thirds of the way done a couple months ago, but ran out of rice.  Today I finished it and it's ready to use!  And given the fact that I started the Couch-to-5K running program this week, I might use this sooner rather than later (I know, I must be insane).

You either put it in the freezer for an hour or so, or heat it up in the microwave for a couple minutes, depending on your pain-relief weapon of choice.  It has three separate compartments so the rice doesn't all flow to one side, along with some heavy-duty belting for the handles.  I used this tutorial from Make It and Love It and had no problems.  To be honest, this was my second time making one of these.  The first was for my dad last Christmas:

Note the masculine fabric choice.  Gotta love discounted remnants.  I think they're responsible for at least a third of my fabric collection.  :o)

I tried to take additional pictures of the one I made today, but sadly our camera appears to be dying.  Even with new batteries, it turns off after a minute of use (or even less if I'm using the flash), and no amount of coaxing can cause it to cooperate.  Given the fact that we have a growing boy and I haven't taken pictures of him in awhile, I hope we can fix this problem soon!


paisley nursing cover

I had the opportunity to make another nursing cover, this time for a friend who is expecting her third child in a couple of months!  This friend also sews, but having two small boys makes it harder for her to find the time to do it, so I offered to make her this as a gift.  She told me which colors she prefers, so hopefully this fits the bill!

The process was pretty much the same as with the other cover I made, only this time I also added some dark green bias tape to the top and bottom to help bring the two fabrics together (and maybe also to cover up some really crooked seams...oops!).

I got the turquoise paisley fabric at Jo-Ann, and I got the coordinating fabric a few years ago when I first discovered the wonder that is Hobby Lobby.  :o)

As with the other cover, there is also boning at the top of the cover to help Mommy see Baby...although I can never find half-inch boning, so I had to settle for quarter-inch instead.  Still does the trick, I just had to make the pocket for it smaller (and again, the bias tape border did a great job at hiding that extra seam!).

So here's to happy nursing.  And being modest while doing it.  :o)

Linked up to Creations by Kara!


funk-busting jewelry

In a funk?  I sure am.  Seems all I've wanted to do lately is lay around and watch my kid play.  And with me, that much fatigue leads to depression.  Which leads to isolation.  Which means I haven't been very fun to be around, if I've even been around you at all.  Sorry about that, friends.

After confirming this week that a) I'm not pregnant, b) my body seems to be functioning normally, and c) this funk has caused me to gain back five or six pounds of the forty-eight that I worked so hard to lose, I decided to try to do something about it.

My friend April jump-started this resolution tonight when she convinced me to let her husband watch our kids so the two of us could go get pedicures together.  I have gotten one other pedi in my life, and that was the day before my wedding...four years ago.  And this time was just as much fun as the first.  Except when the guy was forced to charge me three extra bucks for removing the wicked callouses that I had acquired from all that walking I've done the last year and a half.  And I was fine with it, except the guy really didn't have to remark to his other nail buddy about my feet (and yes, even though he was speaking Chinese I know that's what he was talking about), just like he didn't have to show me the uh.....fruits of his labor, shall we say (let's just say I will never look at zesting a lemon the same way again...too eerily similar for me).

Now that I've sufficiently grossed you out, I'll actually show you Phase 2 of my funk-busting plan....which is to start being creative again.  Tonight, that meant jewelry making.  I started this a few years ago but hadn't done it in a while.  I don't know how to do anything fancy, just a single strand of beads is all.  My sister requested a couple of items for her birthday next week, but since I don't want her to see them if she checks my blog, I'll show you what I made for myself!

I love the black and turquoise together, and the wooden flower beads are favorites too.  Best of all, these beads were pretty large, so it took no time at all to string these bracelets together.  And Cathy, if you're reading this, I'm putting your stuff in the mail on Monday (sorry for the lateness!).

Maybe this weekend I'll start Phase 3....which is to start exercising again.  Those callouses aren't going to grow back by themselves...


in the kitchen: strawberry pie smoothie

I read in a recent issue of Food Network magazine that a lot of restaurants and diners are starting to make milkshakes with slices of pie in them!  Throw a slice of pie in a blender with some ice cream and maybe a little milk, and you have an authentic pie-shake.  Um, I have one question.  Why did it take so long for this idea to catch on???  YUM.

I love pies, but rarely do we have actual pie in the house!  And if we do, we're probably more likely to eat it as nature intended...on a plate, with a fork, and maybe a la mode.  :o)

I'm a big smoothie fan, so I thought I would try to replicate this idea but make it a little healthier, and with ingredients I often have on hand.  I didn't really measure stuff as I went, but tried to estimate the amounts for the recipe.  As always, you can add more or less milk and yogurt depending on preference.

The Ingredients.

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
2 graham cracker sheets, broken into several pieces

The Method.

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Add a little ice if desired.

This recipe is enough for one person.  The graham crackers blend into the smoothie completely, and give it a smooth, creamy texture that reminds me of a milkshake in a way.  Using half-thawed frozen strawberries would also give it a milkshake effect. This would also be good with other kinds of berries or peaches. And be prepared to have a spoon on hand in case your toddler wants you to share.  :o)

Linked up to Creations by Kara!



Recently Hobby Lobby put a BUNCH of home decor stuff on clearance.  I think I went down those two or three aisles every time I went there, and each time I found something new for dirt cheap.  It's where I got wind-chimes for our back porch, picture frames for future projects, and some pretty vases.

I also found a large metal heart wall hanging for a great price.

I didn't really like the off-white color of the heart itself, so I figured I'd paint it with leftover acrylic paint from those flower paintings I made a couple of weeks ago.  And I found my opportunity this past week when I was beyond frustrated with my sewing machine and decided to take a quick break from all things fabric and thread.  So pretty soon, this...

...became this.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but I painted it with a thin coat of a golden yellow (one of those skinny foam brushes did a pretty good job of getting in all those little nooks and crannies), and then did the top edges with an avocado green.  I didn't really focus too hard on painting every single inch of the thing, since I wanted to keep the heart looking kind of rustic.

 After it dried, I hung it up in our dining room.

My husband complimented me on it, but also requested that I refrain from putting any more "girly things" in "our eating area."  I told him since this corner of our dining room is my sewing nook, I figured it was okay.  And it's not like I painted it pink or purple or anything.  Boys are silly.  :o)

And yes, my nook is incredibly cluttered right now.  Please excuse the mess.
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