I finished it! The Kara Tote PDF Sewing Pattern is finished and ready for purchase! I sent it out to pattern testers on Sunday and a couple of them were so fast at getting back to me I was able to get the pattern up for sale much faster than I had hoped.
This is one of my favorite bags. I’ve been making it for years and it has always been a best seller in my Etsy Shop.
Some of my testers sent in some gorgeous pictures of their Kara Tote. Erin of Diedelbug Handmade made this amazing bag.
I love how she switched up the fabric on the straps and handles.
Just down the street from our house are three huge Chokecherry Trees. No one seems to know that they are Chokecherries because apart from the birds, we’re the only one who picks them. In fact every year we go out to pick we get several neighbours come over to ask us what we are picking. Maybe this means eventually someone else will beat us to them but I don’t really mind if it means more people are becoming aware of the free food around them.
We were a few days late this year meaning the birds had cleared two of the three trees already.The kids got right in on the picking which made it go really fast. We had a good 6 liters in about half an hour. Two years ago Travis made wine out of the berries, this year I used it for Jelly.
I ended up making up the recipe as I went as I found only a couple recipes for Chokecherry Jelly specifically online and both of them had ridiculous amounts of sugar in them.
First thing I did was cook the berries to make a juice.
3.5lbs of chokecherries
3 cups of water
Heat water and berries to boiling then simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain juice into a large bowl through a cheesecloth to catch all the berries. Hang the berries in the cheesecloth for a few hours. I gave the cloth a squeeze every time I walked by. I’ve been told this makes for a more cloudy jelly but I was going for flavor not look. Once you have all the juice strained out it’s time to make the jelly.
3.5 cups chokecherry juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 package pectin
4 cups white sugar
1 tsp butter
Stir together juices, pectin, sugar, and butter in a medium sized heavy pot. Heat until boil. Boil for one minute. Skim off any foam. Pour into sterilized half pin jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn heat off, remove lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.
If you’re like me and you don’t want to wait the 24 hours to try your jelly just pull out a bit extra when you’re skimming off the foam!
We have a slightly ridiculous amounts of beets this year. Last year was the first year we grew them and the entire family loved them so we grew three times as much this year. Beets should keep well in cold storage so I’m looking forward to eating them most of the winter.
However, lots of beets means learning new ways of preparing them so last week I took a stab at making beet pasta. It turned out great. The dough was a really pretty color and the kids thought that was pretty awesome. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the color of the pasta after it had been cooked. Most of the red came out in the water so we had very pale pink noodles. Aside from that they were easy to make and not a whole lot more time consuming that making regular pasta.
Want to make your own beet pasta? Here’s how I did it.
Recipe makes approximately 8 servings. This is a long process although not a ton of work. Start early!
Peel and chop 1-2 beets. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees until soft. Let cool.
If you store your eggs in the fridge, take 3 out to bring them to room temperature.
Blend until smooth in a blender. Try not to cringe at the color whirling around in your blender…
Once your beets are blended, measure out half a cup of puree. Save any leftovers for another meal, throw it in the freezer, or feed it to your baby if you have one!
Put 3 cups of all purpose flour in a stand mixer and crack your three room temperature eggs in.
Use the dough hook to mix all the ingredients together. Don’t have a stand mixer? No problem, use your hands and your dough will most likely turn out even better than mine.
Continue to knead your dough. Add flour until your dough is smooth and not sticky. Depending on the size of your eggs you may need to add quite a bit more, or just a small amount. If your dough is ever too dry you can add a bit of water.
Once your dough is looking smooth and elastic, remove it from the bowl and knead by hand for about five minutes. Longer if you’re tough, shorter if you’re a weakling when it comes to kneading. Like me.
Check out the color of that dough!
Cover your dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least half an hour. Longer if you have time!
After the rest period split your dough in to four sections. Keep one section out and cover the other three back up.
The rest of my instructions include using a pasta machine. If you don’t have one you can hand roll and cut them. I tried to find a good online tutorial for this but I didn’t have much luck. It might be worth looking into however, I’ve done it before and it’s not very difficult.
Cut your small section in half and roll one piece through the thickest setting on your pasta machine. Fold it in half and run it through again. Continue to fold and run through until you get a nice uniform piece. When you get a nice piece start rolling it through thinner settings until you get to the second smallest setting, or smallest, depending on your preference.
Cut your long piece in half. This is totally optional, I do it because my pasta machine is terrible at cutting the noodles so the longer they are the more of a pain it is for me to separate them.
Dust with more flour and run it through your choice of noodle. I always use my linguine cutter again because I have to separate all my noodles after they have been cut and that takes twice as long on the spaghetti cutter.
Repeat steps with all the dough.
This is also where I get help. Lots of help. Three kids fighting over who gets to help in fact!
The next step is optional. I like to hang my noodles partly because I freeze half of them and partly because I find if they dry for a half hour or so they just come out a nicer texture. You can however cut and boil your noodles right away. If you don’t hang them, flour them liberally as you continue to cut the rest or you’ll get a big pile of noodles all stuck together.
I use my laundry rack to dry my noodles. And yes I wash it before and after!It looks like a lot of noodles but this is barely enough for two meals for my family.
Once your noodles have hung for a bit get a big pot of salted water boiling. Add your noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes. I’ve never actually timed it I just keep sneaking noodles and trying them until they are ready.
Drain and serve any way you like!
3 eggs, room temperature
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup beet puree
Combine eggs, 3 cups of flour, and beet puree into a stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until well combined. Continue to add flour until you get a smooth, elastic, and not sticky dough. Let rest for at least half an hour. Roll out and cut. Boil in salted water for 5-7 minutes.
My littlest dude is eight months. Already. This means that he’s been on solid food for a couple of months already. I made a decision when I was still pregnant with him to try to completely avoid processed food and formula for him. At first I thought it would be a little difficult when it came to baby cereal but it turns out it was extremely easy. I mostly fed him oatmeal cereal at the start and then quickly switched to regular cooked oatmeal when I decided to do Baby Led Weaning with him.
It’s really easy to make baby oatmeal. All you have to do is dump a couple of cups of instant oats in a blender or food processor and blend! I then put it in a mason jar and stored it in the fridge. When it came time to make Lachlan cereal I put a couple of spoon fulls in a bowl and poured boiling water over top, whisking as I poured. It starts out looking like it will be really lumpy but once it cooks a bit and you whisk it with a fork it smooths out.The only other baby cereal I made was rice cereal. I bought heritage grain short rice and cooked up a pot of it. Then I blended it and poured it into ice cube trays and froze them. Then I just pulled out a cube or two whenever I needed one. If you avoid using the microwave you have to remember to pull it out ahead of time to let it defrost then add a bit of boiling water to warm it up.
Have you made baby cereal before? How did you do it?
Those cold plastic change pads seem really awful to me. It’s bad enough to a tiny baby that you’re going to take their clothes off and clean them up with cold wet wipes, who wants to lay on cold plastic too? Never mind the fact that IF your little one pees during the whole changing process they end up laying in a puddle of pee. Then again I really don’t want that pee to seep through a fabric change pad and end up on the floor so here’s a change pad that has a waterproof layer, can be made with cute fabric, and is soft for baby to lay on!
I also made myself a little diaper clutch. Maybe a tutorial for that will follow up at a later date!
Waterproof Change Mat Supplies: 1/2 yard PUL fabric 1/2 yard cute cotton print 1/2 yard cotton toweling (terry cloth) Thread 2 inch piece of 1 inch wide velcro Sewing Machine Rotary Cutter and Mat or Scissors
Cut one 25×17 inch piece out of all three fabrics. Cut one 6×2 1/4 inch piece of the cotton print. Set aside.
Lay the three cut pieces on top of each other in this order:
Cotton Print (right side up)
Pin around all four edges and stitch around all edges leaving a 4-5 inch opening.
Turn fabric through the opening, making sure the cotton print and PUL layers are on one side as pictured above. You want to make sure when it’s turned that you don’t see the PUL, only the cotton toweling and cotton print.
Use a point turner to get all four corners nice and smooth. Carefully iron all around then top stitch through all layers and all the way around the mat.
If you want to add the velcro strap so you can roll it up, now is the time! Take your 6×2 1/4 inch piece of fabric. Fold in half right sides together and press. Stitch around one short edge and one long edge. Flip right side out and press. Fold unfinished edge over and press.
Stitch one side of the velcro to one end of the strap.
Measure about 4 inches from one short end of the mat and stitch the opposite end of the velcro strap in place.
Measure down 5 inches from the attached end of the strap and stitch the other piece of velcro in place.
To roll up your mat, fold it in half and roll from bottom to top sticking the velcro pieces together.
And you’re done! The whole thing can be thrown in the wash machine and dryer if your little one makes a mess of it.
Playdough has become a good friend of mine. My kids will play with it for up to 2 hours some days and it gives me a chance to feed my little dude and get a few other things done while they are happily entertained.
I’ve always made my own playdough but my old recipe used a lot of cream of tartar which is really expensive so I didn’t make it all that often. I while ago I started seeing Jello Playdough around the web and it used less cream of tartar so I thought I would give it a try. I love the playdough and the Jello makes it smell nice and gives it a really great smooth texture. To make things even more fun for the kids I’ve added sparkles.
Here’s my recipe!
Sparkly Jello Playdough
1 1/4 cup flour 1 pkg of jello 2 tbsp salt 2 tbsp cream of tartar 2 tbsp canola oil 1 cup warm water 2 tbsp (more or less) of sparkles
Wisk together the flour, jello, salt, and cream of tartar in a sauce pan. Add in water and oil and wisk until smooth over medium low heat. Add in the sparkles while the playdough is still more or less liquid. Cook, stirring constantly until the dough forms together. It will still be slightly sticky still.
Spoon dough onto a floured counter and once it is cool enough to handle knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If you’re kids are messy (like mine!) you may want to add in enough flour to make it a bit more firm so it doesn’t stick to their clothes or anything else.
Store in a sealed container or ziploc bag in the fridge!
Last week I was putting together some gift baskets for a silent auction the youth group at our Church is putting on. I wanted to do one for women and one for a baby girl but when I put the stuff in the basket for the baby girl it seemed pretty empty still so I decided to stitch something up quick.
Baby blankets are always a quick sew and I’m the first to admit you really can’t have too many baby blankets. Extra soft wash cloths are also really nice to have to so I made some of those as well. While I stitched I snapped some pictures, in poor lighting of course, so bare with me.
On to the tutorial!
Flannel and Fleece Baby Blanket
1 yard flannel
1 yard fleece (or another yard of flannel)
Decide on the size you want your blanket to be. I made this one 36 inches by 36 inches. Nothing is more annoying than trying to swaddle baby in a blanket that’s just not big enough!
Cut one 36×36 inch piece in both the flannel and the fleece.
Place fabrics on top of each other, right sides together and pin all the way around.
Stitch around all 4 edges using a 1/4 inch seam allowance and leaving a 3-4 inch opening on one side.
Clip all four corners to reduce some bulk and then turn the blanket right side out. Use a point turner if needed to get your corners nice and smooth.
Press all the edges of your blanket on the FLANNEL side. If you used fleece for the other side be extra careful not to touch it with the iron or it will melt!
Top stitch all the way around your blanket to finish it off and to close up your turn hole. I like to use a zig zag stitch but a straight stitch works just fine too!
That’s it! Your done the blanket! Now on to the wash cloths!
Super Soft Wash Cloth
7.5×7.5 inch piece of flannel
7.5×7.5 inch piece of minky dot fabric
Basically we are making the blanket all over again only in smaller form! Cut out your two pieces of fabric. Lay them on top of each other, right sides together and pin.
Stitch all the way around with a 1/4 inch seam allowance leaving a small 2-3 inch opening.
Clip all four corners to reduce bulk then flip cloth right side out through the slip hole. Use a point turner if you want to make the corners nice and smooth.
Press the cloth on the flannel side, taking care not to press the minky fleece with the iron or it will melt!
Stitch around all four sides finishing the wash cloth off and closing up your turn hole. Again I use a zig zag stitch but a straight stitch would work just fine too!
Now make a couple more and you’ve got a great addition to a baby gift!
Last night, while the guys watched Football, my sister and I decided to get our creativity on and paint some leather bracelets. We got the idea from A Beautiful Mess (which is an amazing blog btw) and after scanning her DIY instructions we painted away.
It was super fun and considering I’m not even the list bit artistic I’m pretty happy with the results. I still have to put snaps on mine but I plan to do that today.
We used acrylic paint which seemed to work well, so far I don’t have any cracking anywhere but I have a feeling it might a bit eventually. I’m guessing you can probably use some kind of paint sealant over top but we were going for a “use what we’ve got” kind of project.
My sister cut thin strips of leather and sort of stitched them together to make one big long wrap around bracelet which looked pretty cool.
She also braided one and you can wear it suede side up (like above) or the shinier leather side up. Either way it looks awesome.
What did you do for the Superbowl? Or should I ask, what did you eat?
coordinating cotton print of your choice 2 – 13×6 inch pieces
lining fabric (cotton or other) 2 – 13×14 inch pieces
1 inch wide cotton webbing (2 strips 18 inches long)
1 magnetic snap (optional)
Cut out all your fabric pieces. You should have 2 lining pieces, 2 canvas outer pieces, and 2 coordinating printed pieces.
Take your 2 printed pieces (6×13 inch) and fold the top down 1/2 an inch and press. Repeat for both printed pieces.
Pin the printed pieces to the bottom half of the canvas pieces, lining up the bottom and side edges. Pin along your folded and pressed seam. Set aside.
Attach your magnetic snaps to your lining pieces. Centred and approximately 1 inch down from the top edge. If you’ve never attached a magnetic snap before, check out this post:
Once your snaps are on, pin the lining layers together, right sides together. Stitch all the way around both sides and the bottom, leaving a 3 inch opening along the bottom seam. I usually double stitch it, just for added strength. (second seam approximately 1/4 inch on the outer edge of the first seam)
To create a boxed bottom on your tote: Clip the corners. Then you are going to fold the bottom two corners together, lining up the seams on either side. This gives you a triangle. Stitch approximately 1 inch from the point of the triangle all the way across.
see where my thumb is? You’re stitch line should be horizontal just above my thumb there.
Cut off the excess fabric 1/4 inch from your seam. Repeat on the other bottom corner piece and you have a nice boxed shaped lining!
Grab your outer canvas piece and top stitch along the folded seam of your printed cotton. You can do just one line of stitching or do a couple for added detail.
Next you’re going to stitch both your outer pieces together. Place the two pieces right sides together and line up the printed fabric seam so there are even when you stitch it all together. Stitch all the way around both sides and bottom. You do not need to leave an opening on the outer bag.
Repeat the boxed corner steps that you did on the lining so your outer bag is boxed as well.
To attach straps: Flip your bag right side out and measure in 3 inches from each side. Pin each side of the strap and stitch across. Repeat for the other side of the bag making sure your straps line up with each other.
Slip the lining over top of the outer bag. You want the right sides to be together so your lining should still be inside out and your outer bag should be right side out.
Line up your side seams on the lining and outer bag and pin all the way around. Stitch 1/4 inch all the way around.
Flip your bag right side out through the opening you left in the lining. Press your top seams carefully all the way around the top of the bag. Take care by the straps especially if you used nylon webbing, it will melt! Take care around your magnetic snaps if you used those as well, if you iron over top of them you can get a funny spot on your fabric.
Top stitch all the way around your bag and slip stitch the lining hole closed. You’re done!
If you make a Simple Tote please share some pictures with me Feel free to use this tutorial to sell items made with it but please do not reproduce the tutorial or use any of my photos without permission.