Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pressure cooker black beans

Ever since I broke the insert for my smaller crockpot I've been experimenting. Having beans around provides a cheap protein source. Doing two pounds in the big crockpot hasn't worked all that well. My mom gave me a 1970's era 4qt pressure cooker so I decided to try it. 

My pinto beans weren't awesome. 

Then I needed black beans for burritos I was making with Cook's Illustrated crockpot everyday beef filling (yum). There is lots of conflicting advice so I tried to take the best. 

Pre- soak - normally I wouldn't but I decided to do one of the hurry-up methods. I covered them with water and brought them to a boil. I boiled them for 2 minutes, turned them off and then set the lid over. (The other way is to pressure cook for 2 min. But that's a hassle)

Then I went to the grocery store, came home, made lunch, and then went back to the beans. 
I drained and rinsed them and the ps and then sautéed a small onion chopped small until it was soft with some sliced "Kentucky Legacy" ham cut in squares

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Trying another approach to training pants

Mr 3 has no desire to use the potty. When he craps his pants he doesn't even  want to get cleaned up. Sigh. 

Lots of people reassure me that boys are sometimes like this and they'll get it eventually. A co-worker say her son got it when they just put him in underpants anyway. I did that last weekend and the crap was horrible to clean up. 

I made training pants with PUL but they're too bulky and too small. 
This picture is a year old but you see:
What to do?
So I sewed some PUL and a cheap cloth diaper into his big boy underwear. Idk. I hope they'll feel wet and he'll want to keep them nice. I'm not too hopeful. 

The pictures are what they are. My phone just doesn't focus like it did before recent updates and the house is what it is. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Après swim ponchos for Mr and Ms 3

They're often cold after swimming even on a hot day. I wrap them in a beach towel but it always falls down and trips them. Or prevents them from holding my hand. 

I looked around and found this sensible solution:

It's not that much sewing , it uses bath towels which are thicker and cheaper (so sad I couldn't go to Costco to get even cheaper), and looks like they won't grow out of it as fast as something more fitted. 

Changes: snaps on the sides, a kangaroo pocket, and a single layer hood. 

I traced a hoodie and added some depth to the hood. I just doubled the pocket. 

Ms 3 likes hers ok. We'll see about Mr3. He's into me making him into a burrito so tightly wrapped that he can't move his arms. 

The kids picked out the colors. These are from target - 3 total of their mid line and there's almost half a towel left over. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hawaiian bowling? Shirt for the boy

Well I don't take very good pictures but there it is. 

There aren't very many patterns for boys. I am thinking about making something from the sewing for boys book but I found this in Joann's when they had a big sale
The pants are too baggy but it's a thing I guess. 

This was pretty easy but I need to check something with the collar-I'm not sure it lays completely flat. 

Seems like it should have more buttons. Also, I should have paid attention to the pattern in the front so you don't have double half monsters. 

If he wears it, I'll make another. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cargo shorts for Mr. 3

How hard could it be? Not very but slow with lots of steps. 

There are lots of tutorials online (including this nice one on pockets: ). One tutorial in particular was most helpful. I recommend this one:

So I used what I learned with the last pants for him, plus looking at his cargo pants and shorts and my husband's. 

First step is to trace some pants or use another pattern. I tried to trace but it's super hard with all the pockets and adjustable waist. I have 2 new uncut boy's patterns but neither looked good and both looked about the same as the pants from the same pattern I've been using for Ms 3's skirts and jumper. So I started with that. 
Most everything else is eyeballed. I hope he will wear them. 
And I tried to make an adjustable waist. We'll see. 
There are definitely lessons learned - top stitch waist last. Put on button after that. I'll probably need to redo the hem. We'l see in the morning

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Knit shirt for Mr. 3

Wanted to make something for him as he's always been so interested in Ms. 3's stuff. He picked out the fabric but now I think it looks like pajamas :(
Several problems here. First, I was sure a half yard would be enough. Alas, the pattern is directional and it turns out his 5T tshirt I traced was maybe 2.5" longer than my fabric. 

Second, I should have bought something for ribbing. I have an old red tshirt but it's faded. 

Third, I just couldn't get the double needle to work right. 
Maybe here it was because of the differences in thicknesses. 

I found setting the tension to 5 worked the best. I think next time I'll do the neck like I did for th one hour pajamas or just zigzag. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Toy storage

The kids are at the point when a lot of their toys are sets or come with lots of parts. We have a big toy box but stuff gets lost in there. 

I tried this clear box but it doesn't work well

And it doesn't work well with the toy box

I wanted draw string bags but they had to be see through or the kids wouldn't be able to find their toys. One crafty mom sewed in clear plastic but I didn't like that idea. 

I decided on nylon mesh bags but I wanted various sizes. Some were like $3.50-$8 a piece. And some were too fine a mesh. Finally at Walmart I found these for a dollar
Later I found heavier mesh for like $3.50 a yard at Joann's. These are pretty flimsy. I can't imagine successfully hauling a load of jeans in them. 

I cut one a third in length and then narrowed by a few inches. Sewing concerned me so I bound in bias tape made from denim left over from Ms 3's jumper. This first reused the cord. I think I'd also use the denim (or poplin or whatever) for the channel but I don't know what to use for cord yet. 

I'll try to update with how they are accepted and hold up. I'm thinking that for the effort I should have started with better quality bags. We'll see!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cotton Pique Dress and Shorts for Ms. 2

Got this pattern for $1.66 (-20%, I think) at Joann's at one of their big sales. This is a fairly generic pattern that makes several nice tops, tunics, dresses, shorts, and cropped leggings for little girls. The pattern was kind of screwed up because it acted like you could just stitch like you would with woven fabric. Luckily, I learned from making the pink dress.

I had some fabric from G Street's remnant table that was $3/yard. It's very stretchy, and rolls, and was somewhat difficult to deal with.

I made these changes to the pattern instructions: 
I used zigzag stitch and my machine's stretch stitch
I used a strip of interfacing for the shoulder (didn't notice the notion when I was at the store
I used a double needle for the shorts, but I regret it. It is not as stretchy as the stretch stitch.
I'm worried about the durability of the pockets and the fabric around them. I considered using interfacing but didn't
I pulled out and re-did the neck - cut 1/2" in from the original line and then used 2" casing ~18" long.It's very stretchy and looks good.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"One hour" pajamas

Meh. This is from a xxl long sleeved tshirt 
This is from

I learned a ton though. I used a twin needle

And I tried some different stitches on my machine

But my son won't even try them on. I don't know if I messed up but the front and back are the same so the neck is too high in the front. 

Bottoms are pretty much like harem pants. Also I should have stretched the neck stuff. 

Still a good project. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In which I finally make something for Mr 3

His sister got two skirts and two dresses so it was time. This is from Dana Made It: 

I used some Eddie Bauer pants of mine that didn't fit and were never flattering. Unfortunately I didn't notice and he's already got a stain :(

They fit perfectly - uh oh -I held them up to other pants and I thought they would be big. 
Cut them out so I could reuse original hem. 

Had to sew it down a bunch. 

Made the from flat with interfacing fused in and made the back adjustable with snaps. Probably didn't leave elastic long enough. 
This last is with the elastic safety pinned on one side to try on. 
Thought about zigzagging or pinking seams since I don't have a serger but didn't. Did reinforce crotch with another line of stitching. 

We'll see!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Knit dress for summer

Had the itch to make something and Ms. 3 loves her cotton dresses. Looked around online and found this: and her instructions for sewing knits. I was skeptical and if I had money I woul have used the excuse to get a serger. Alas. 

A bunch I people say it's fine to use zigzag on a regular machine but the pictures never show a finished garment with zigzags. 

Here's mine. She hasn't tried it on yet. 
This is from a 3xl tshirt from Walmart. $4.58 and I've got a bunch left. I had hoped it would cost $3.78 but that's only smaller sizes. 
Issues: cut off right below pits and that didn't leave enough fabric for the top. So it's shorter and sewn up the middle of the back. 
Also I wanted to reuse the hem which was probably a good idea. 
Cutting with a mat and roller worked so much better than expected. It seems like it will roll though.  

We have a few 3xlt tshirts that are now too big for my husband. They're pretty sober colors. 

Here's the stitching. 
I forgot- the 1" strips for the binding is too narrow. Should be at least 2" and more would probably be fine. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fluffy soft burger buns

I had some pork in the crockpot to make pulled pork so I needed some buns. I looked through a pipe of printouts from who know when and ran across ATK's potato burger buns: Good thing I printed because apparently it's not part of my membership. 
This was an attractive recipe because I had a bunch of russet potatoes to use. 
But ugh  tiny litte guys - 6 to make a pound. So I didn't peel till they were cooked at I did it in the microwave. I melted the butter since they weren't as hot. 
I read the whys about bread flour and that scared me off of putting some wheat in. Turns out it would have been fine. 
Kids did the painting and sprinkling with sesame seeds. I think the top cracked since it got dried out while rising. Very tasty though. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Modifications to Cooking Light's Whole Grain Breakfast Bars

These are from p92 of the December issue

I get super hungry around 8:30 at work and I don't want to eat crap (but I will!). So I gave these a try. Pretty good. Chew thoroughly and drink water with :)

I cant keep bananas in the house long enough to have them for this so I substituted 1 cup canned pumpkin. 

I added about 1/4 cup each of wheat germ and flax meal because I saw them used  in other recipes. 

The rest are in the freezer these are left over pieces from my son eating some. He likes a few bites. Daughter doesn't like the cranberries or nuts (color shape texture ? )

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Amazingly quick burger buns

Still recovering from this horrible flu like thing and had to come up with something for dinner. I had formed turkey burgers and put them in the freezer but they needed to be repacked. Made sense to eat them. But no buns. Maybe bread? No, finished off the soft white KAF pain de mie at lunch. 

My go to for burger buns is Moomies from KAF but I looked into the bread machine and then lost a bunch of time googling to see about a new pan since the axle is frozen up in that one... And my stand mixer bowl was in the washer and tick tick tick...,
So I looked for a fast recipe and found this one: 
40 minutes ? Yeah right. 

I followed the instructions and just kneaded and added flour until it seemed right ( no idea timing) and then baked. Voila !

My daughter made her own little bun

And with a quarter pound burger on one for scale :
To address commenters concerns:
1. Yes tablespoons of yeast
2.  Agree did warm egg by letting sit whole in a glass of warm tap water while proofing yeast
3.  Not slider buns - I made 12 big ones
4.  Don't use this if you do have time- doesn't develop the flavors and isn't as good. 
5.  Roll in balls then smoosh down with palm. 

Not quite as light and fluffy as I'd like but wow for 40 minutes.