Monday, August 31, 2009

Check Out this Giveaway for Lisa Leonard

Simple Mom is hosting a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate to Lisa Leonard's store, which you can use for some amazing, unique metal jewelry. I entered, so now it's your turn!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

From WP to Blogger

Welcome to Made Cunningly's new home on Blogger. I used Blogger way in the past and then switched to Wordpress, but lately, I've been unhappy with Wordpress, so I'm back to Google-ware. I had to manually copy my WP posts, so some of them got left out, as did any comments left there.

Essays on Art by Artists

I received a new book via UPS a couple of days ago that I have had on myAmazon Wishlist for a long time. It’s called It was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. It’s a collection of essays by over 20 different writers, who also happen to consider themselves artists, and who also happen to call themselves followers of Jesus. Each of them is writing about being creative and making beauty as one made in the image of God, the Ultimate Creator.
I’ve been excited to read this book as I’ve felt for a couple of years this “something” inside of me that God has placed there that is a desire to create, to “do art,” for lack of a better phrase. I’ve dabbled in lots of different things trying to find exactly what that specific “something” is: sewing, music, visual art, writing. And I think it’s somewhat of a combination of those things. But I don’t want to just make something that’s cheesy looking or sounding like so much of Christian art and music; i want it to be truly good. And this is where I think I’ve gotten sidetracked because I want it to be good right away and not fail. But I guess everyone’s gotta start somewhere. I mean, even Jesus had to learn the trade of carpentry from His father, and I’m sure He probably couldn’t build houses at His first get-go.
Anyway, I read the reviews of this book, which made it sound awesome and inspiring to get out your pen, instrument, paints, pencils, whatever and start creating for the glory of God. Larry Norman (from waaaay back in Christian music) once sang, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” Why should the kingdom of darkness have all the good art?
Well, as soon as I read the book, I’ll post my thoughts on it. I’m waiting on another Amazon book I purchased at the same time on a similar subject, but more “hands on” oriented. We’ll see what it’s like when it gets here. I had a couple of small gift certificates for Amazon, so of course I buy books.

Paper Doll Chains

My oldest daughter Naomi is in love with this project. And it’s so easy for me to set it up for her. I found the idea in some toddler activity book someone gave us a while back, and my little artist is hooked. All I do is take a long sheet of paper, or several pieces of paper taped together, fold accordian style to however wide I want my “dolls” to be, draw an image of a boy or girl, and then cut it out. Now, I’m no talented artist, so the drawing part is hardest for me, but Naomi doesn’t need an extravagant figure. She just likes to color their hair, clothes, and shoes in hundreds of different ways. She totally reminds me of myself when I was younger. I used to draw clothes all the time. Anyway, here are some shots of her creations. My header also features her artwork.
The top row is all her girls and the bottom her boys

Cutest Diaper Cover

I crocheted this cute little number for Illiana and her cloth diapered little bootie. It was such an easy pattern for me, a relative beginner at crocheting. I’ve done it off and on for a few years, but this is my most proud achievement, I think. It actually fits her, too! The pattern found here calls for an elastic waist sewing inside a casing, but I went for a drawstring look, simply because I wanted to. And because I could do it easily enough while watching my Star Trek movie marathon. What is this, you ask? No, I’m not a trekkie, but someone lent us the entire 10 movie Star Trek series and I’ve been watching them as I sew and work on the computer. They’re so cheesy! Anyway, here’s the photo of the cover.

Illiana's Crocheted Soaker Diaper Cover

Fun Backyard Finds

Here’s a couple of pictures of things the girls and I discovered in our yard.

Onion Breath B & B Pickles

Our cucumber plants are pretty much exploding with fruit, so I finally had to find a decent refrigerator pickle recipe in order to use them up, and found one on that I tweaked a little. I knew my husband and I both loved bread and butter pickles, so I finally found one that sounded good. And I got to use up some green peppers from our garden as well. Jake’s the only who eats them in our family, and we’ve got tons growing. So here’s what I did:
These keep for a long time in the fridge, but I don't think they'll last that long.
These keep for a long time in the fridge, but I don't think they'll last that long.
12 cukes
2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. turmeric
3 c. vinegar
1 tsp. mustard seed
2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. salt
Put 2 tablespoons of salt over sliced pickles. Let stand 1 hour, drain. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, salt and turmeric. Bring to boil. Cool and pour over cucumbers, onions, and peppers that have been layered in jars. Refrigerate. Let stand 1 week before serving.
Oh my, these are superb, especially if you like a little kick in your pickles. Next time I might add just a little more sugar, but I don’t know. I don’t really like sweet pickles, but these could you just a little more…maybe. Oh, but they’re awesome! However, Naomi says they’re too sweet for her; she likes dill pickles instead. So, maybe they don’t need more sugar. And maybe I need to make bunch of dill pickles. How I wish I had lots of jars so my fridge isn’t overloaded.

What's Happening?

Wow, so much has happened since last I posted on here. I was thinking of just giving up blogging because there are so many other things that make demands on my time that I consider more important, but it is a nice place to have a record of all the little projects I’ve been working on and things I’m thinking. Anyway, I did finish that shirt I mentioned here.
Here’s a shot of me wearing it. I did leave out a couple of things that the pattern called for. One was the tie strings that you tie in back of the shirt. Those things annoy me when I’m sitting down, because I just feel the knot from the bow in the middle of my back. Secondly, they remind me too much of maternity clothes, which I love to wear when pregnant, but not when I’m not. The other thing I left out was the interfacing in the yoke. Just laziness, I guess. And I didn’t have any interfacing on hand, and wanted to just finish the shirt.
So here she is:

Breastfeeding Nausea

Man, the past week or so has been a reminder about how I felt during the first trimester while pregnant with my three girls. It’s the strangest thing; whenever I nurse Illiana, I get all queasy and feel like barfing. I looked it up and it appears that it is not such a strange thing after all, as I read about many moms experiencing this b/f nausea. I’ve noticed it more lately since it’s been hotter out and my body’s been feeling a little more dehydrated, so I’ve started chugging water constantly. Apparently, when you nurse, your body gets flooded with hormones, and if your blood sugar gets low (which mine is known to do) or you are dehydrated a little, then the effects can amplify. So, I get to drink more agua and eat more food. Unfortunately, that does not necessarily help my efforts of trying to lose the remaining 7 or 8 pounds of pregnancy weight I’ve got left on me…mainly hanging out there in my belly and legs.
Mmm...spirulinaI think all this nursing and queasiness has been tiring me out lately, so I finally decided to order these vitamins I’ve been eyeing for a long time, called Supermom vitamins. They are chocked full of all those great vitamins that give you energy, like B complex vitamins, and they’ve got some spirulina and other yummy algea
creatures packed in there. Mmm (see image to the right). Supposedly spirulina is loaded with antioxidants and B vitamins and other great things that help your body get more energy from the food you eat. A three month supply was only $43 with shipping, so I went for it. I’ll update you on how they work out.
Meanwhile, this little, tired mama needs her sleep.

Hillbilly Muffins

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon this great website called Hillbilly Housewife…great name, I know. While I haven’t explored the whole site, I have found a number of useful recipes from their vast collection of quick, easy, and inexpensive meals and treats. There are some really cool things like how to make your own “convenience foods,” like hot cocoa mix, rice blends, baking mixes, etc. As outrageous as it sounds, there are also two separate one-week menus, complete with recipes for a family of 4; one is for $45 for the whole week for everything, and the other is $70, I think. I don’t know; I’ve never tried them, but I know grocery prices are high, so I’m not sure how old those plans are. For those of you who don’t feel the need to serve meat at every dinner, there are some great vegetarian recipes on the site as well.
OK, anyway…on to the muffins. I made these amazing muffins last night for breakfast, since we were low on milk for cereal and didn’t want to go buy any. They are raspberry muffins on the website, but I used a frozen mixed berry blend. I don’t have any pictures for these babies, because they got scarfed way too fast.

Below are the alterations I made:
I used half whole wheat and half white flour in place of all white flour.
I used applesauce in place of oil.
I used reconstituted nonfat dry milk in place of skim milk.
The first time I made these, I added white chocolate chips to the mix. And I think I used rolled oats in place of chopped pecans for the topping.

These are fast, quick, and easy. They’re relatively healthy if you want to use whole wheat flour and applesauce, too.

Next Project

This is my current project I’m working on. I’m using the same yellow fabric I used on the twirly skirt for the shorter, sleeveless version of this shirt. We’ll see how it turns out. This is my first clothing item to be made for myself and not my girls (who say they want to wear all my clothes when they’re bigger). This is Simplicity pattern 2962.

Stinkin' Diary

So, Naomi is the queen of hilarious expressions! The other day we were reading a George and Martha book, and in the story Martha was writing in her diary, trying to keep its contents secret from a spying George. When we got to that part, Naomi asks me, “Mom, what’s a diary?” So I explain it to her.
A few days later, she holds up her notebook and says to her dad, “Hey Daddy, this is my diarrhea!!” When she told me later, I couldn’t help but crack up!

Then yesterday, we made her a PBJ with blackberry jam. Usually she gets strawberry jam, so this was something totally new and different. She took a bite, and with a really loud voice (what else is new) exclaims, “OH MAN! THIS…IS…AWESOOOOOME!!
I love how excited Naomi gets about stuff. I’m not sure really where she gets it from, as the rest of us are pretty mellow people. But I sure am glad to have her in the family; she brings the party on here!

Better Than Coffeeshop Molasses Cookies

Though Ms. Betty Crocker just calls these babies Soft Molasses Cookies, I think I’m going to dub them “Better-Than-Coffeeshop Molasses Cookies.” Even my husband, who’s not as crazy about molasses cookies as I am called them amazing. Here’s how they go:

Mix together:

1 c sugar

1/2 c butter or marg., softened

1/2 c shortening

3/4 c sour cream

1/2 c molasses

1 egg

Stir in:

3 c flour (I used half white, half whole wheat…it makes me feel healthier)

1 1/2 teas. baking soda

1 teas. ginger

1 teas. cinnamon (*I didn’t have ginger, so I just did 2 teas. of pumpkin pie spice instead of the ginger & cinnamon)

1/2 teas. salt

Heat to 375. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes (I had to go a little longer w/my over) or until almost no indentation remains when touched. Cool 1-2 minutes, then remove from sheet. You can sprinkle them w/sugar or do what I did to make heaven in your mouth: frost them with this:

3 c powdered sugar

1/3 c butter or marg., softened

1 1/2 teas. vanilla

2-3 teas. milk

Mix until smooth & spreadable.

The Turquoise Dress

This is the turquoise dress I made for Naomi from McCall's pattern M5308. I also made one in a black, flower printed fabric. That one had pink straps and ties. Next time, if I make this again, I would leave out the ties (not comfortable for little kids). The pattern also called for nine buttons in the back, but I just sewed up the back and it still fit Naomi fine. No time for 18 total buttons.

Still Awake

I’m still awake at almost midnight. Jake and I just finished cleaning up after another perfomer-packed open mic, and now he’s jamming on bass guitar with a few other night-owl musicians upstairs. I actually “performed” at this month’s event, just to diversify things a bit. Mostly we have a lot of people playing guitar and singing songs they wrote or cover songs. One regular brings his uke and does a song or two on it. I, however, am not currently proficient at any instrument, though I’m learning banjo–at a much slower pace than I’d prefer–therefore, I read a few poems I’ve written recently. Here’s one of them, the untitled one.

In the little closet where the windows to my soul
are closed and my internal pose is prone
I crave an occasion where majesty and awe
take over and I am left exposed to its power
to vaporize any sense of self left lurking
in the shadowy clefts hiding from the light.
I cannot begin to delight in a world devoid
of this wonder and beauty beyond imaginings.

Limit me not to my mere faculties of mind,
but open wide the gate of beyond-all-I-could-hope;
open wide the window where I shout in joy,
calling out things that are not as though they are,
as I hold hands with the presence of the One
who hovered over the surface of the untamed waters;
open wide the door of flames through which
I will walk to be overtaken by the all-consuming Fire.

Twirly Skirt in Yellow

I’m so excited to have finally finished this twirly skirt, created using the tutorial here, at House on Hill Road. I think next time I’ll make it a little bit longer, as Naomi likes long skirts and is still learning to “sit like a lady.” Anyway, I love the yellow fabrics together. I can’t wait to see it on Naomi; she is in bed as I’m writing.

The Little Artist's Paint Creations

Naomi got some new paints for her birthday this month. Here are some of her creations.

Easy Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

One of my favorite cookies to make is the easiest; I use cake mix, oil, and eggs and then experiment with additional flavorful things. Today, I made lemon poppyseed cookies with this method. Here’s what’s in them:

1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1-2 Tablespoons poppyseeds

Mix all together. Roll into 1 inch balls and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Yummy!