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Scrappy September

Since my husband is back to work as of today (well, officially as of last Thursday, but today is the real deal, with students and all), I’ve decided that now is the perfect time to take on some new scrap-bin projects. You know, with all the free time I have, being the mama of a very attention-demanding 10-month-old.

It’s OK, though. I think Scrappy September will be a month we’ll both enjoy. I’m sure Finn will love digging through my scrap bins just as much as I.

Here’s my plan.

I have had two projects in mind for a while, and I’m just going to break down and start them. The first is this spiderweb quilt, which I’ve been wanting to make for a couple of years now. I was recently inspired by Amandajean’s finished spiderweb quilt. She does beautiful work, and now that I’ve seen hers, I must have my own.

I harbor no delusions of finishing this baby anytime soon, but I really think it’ll be satisfying to get a start on it.

The second project I have in mind is a braided rug. My great-grandmother made beautiful braided rugs, and I really want to carry on that tradition. Of course, hers were made with heavier fabrics than the quilting cotton scraps that I plan to use, but I think that’ll be OK. A good friend of mine has a braided rug (made by her sweet grandmother) which looks to be made from lighter-weight fabrics, and I really like the floppiness of it.

There are several motivating factors at work here. First, I have two tubs full of scraps, and I really need to start using them. Second, in addition to being Scrappy September, it is also Spendthrift September (or Stingy September??) in our house. I do, in theory, have a monthly fabric allowance, but I’ve been trying to resist the temptation to buy stuff the last few months. It’s not easy, let me tell you, but it’s certainly been worth it to, you know, keep food on the table.

Kidding.

Maybe.

In any event, I’m very much looking forward to using up some of my scraps and decorating my home in the process.

Think Spring

Before I get too far into creating Finn’s summer wardrobe, I wanted to share some cute mama-mades for spring.

While I’ll admit that he looks a bit like a tiny jailbird, I’m totally in love with green and white stripes!

Both the hat and the pants were made from an old long-sleeved t-shirt. I used the sleevy pants tutorial from vegbee, which is a fabulous, quick and easy way to make some pants for baby, especially if you have old shirts lying around. To make the matching hat, I used the sweater hat pattern from Amanda Soule’s book, Handmade Home. Another quick and easy pattern–perfect for a mama with precious little time to spend at the sewing machine!

I’ve been planning for a while to make a summer wardrobe for Finn. The Oliver + S playsuit pattern (which is actually packaged within the tea party sundress + bloomers pattern) looked so adorable, I just had to try it. I figured that a summer wardrobe consisting of playsuits and bloomers (though, not worn at the same time!) would be perfect for both the Wisconsin heat and humidity and our time at the ocean.

This is my first attempt at the pattern. It’s actually not quite finished–I need to add snaps and finish the seams, and obviously it needs to be ironed :-)–but I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

I didn’t add any of the extras on my first try–things like snap tape and piping can be added–but I definitely plan to try the snap tape on the next version. The pattern has very few pieces, and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. A person can’t really ask for much more than that! I’m not a garment sewer; I definitely prefer quilts, mostly because the margin for error (or at least the ability to cover up mistakes!) is so much greater. However, constructing the playsuit definitely has me itching to make more clothes for the babe, and maybe I’ll even try some for myself!

As for Finn, I think he’s rather enamored of the playsuit as well. He’s definitely ready for some beach time–he’s already practicing his lounging!

Mr. Gnome

After completing Finn’s Easter basket, I had to have things to go in it!  I’ve made a long list of things I’d like to include, though most of them probably won’t make the final cut.  What will be included, however, is Mr. Gnome.

Ok, gnomes don’t scream Easter, but I’m absolutely in love with them.  I bought this pattern from Wee Wonderfuls quite a while ago, and I decided it was finally time to make it. 

The pattern is great–clear instructions and easy to put together.  I did make one change, though.  As I was putting the gnome together, I sewed the felt on to the guide piece-by-piece, instead of pinning all of the pieces on and then topstitching.  It just worked better for me, because things seemed to keep shifting no matter how much I pinned.  All in all a great pattern–if you love gnomes, or your kids love gnomes, or you want your kids to love gnomes,  I definitely recommend this pattern.  You can’t go wrong!

I used wool felt from felt-o-rama–my new favorite shop!  This was my first experience with wool felt (as opposed to a wool blend), and I’ll never use the blends again.  I love love love wool felt!  If you use felt (even blends–and they also have bamboo felt!) and haven’t discovered this great resource, head over there immediately!

As a child, I always looked forward to my great-grandmother’s culinary creations.  So many of my favorite foods–my favorite desserts, in particular–are things that I first tried in her kitchen.  Zucchini bars are no exception.  This was pretty much my Nana’s signature dessert; everyone loved them, and she made them for just about every family gathering. 

In truth, I’ve only had her zucchini bars–or rather, bars made with her recipe–once in the ten years since she passed away.  When I made them, I followed the recipe pretty exactly (I may have turned the teaspoon of cinnamon into a MEGAHEAPING teaspoon, but who wouldn’t?), and they were as good as I remembered.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago.  While we were doing our grocery shopping, we stopped at the bakery for a little treat.  Sitting there, right in front of me, were squares of zucchini-carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Despite the fact that I will almost always choose a chocolate dessert, regardless of how much I may love the other offerings, this time I just had to go for the veggies.  It was quite divine, and on the drive home I found myself thinking that, with a few tweaks to Nana’s recipe, I could make something just as good.

So I did.

Zucchini-Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded and drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon lover like I am, feel free to make this a mondo-heaping teaspoon of cinnamon.  Or 2 tsp.  Whatever suits your fancy)
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants

Combine sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and orange zest.  Add applesauce and yogurt and mix.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  When the eggs are mixed in, add the carrots and zucchini.  Mix well and add currants.  Pour into greased 9×9 cake pan.  Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Let cake cool completely, then frost.

Honey-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger
  • optional: chopped walnuts for topping

Mix butter and cream cheese together on high speed until well combined and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and ginger.  Mix.  Add milk, vanilla and honey.  Mix until well combined.  Spread on cooled zucchini-carrot cake.  Top with walnuts.  The recipe makes enough frosting for a very thick layer.  Halve the recipe if you want less frosting–there’ll still be plenty for the cake!

Finn’s Basket

With Easter fast approaching, I decided that my boy was in need of an Easter basket.  Finn is only 4 months old (5 months by the time Easter rolls around), so he might be a little young for the whole  basket thing, but any good tradition has to start somewhere, right? 

The project came together quickly and easily, a must when there is a little one demanding to be fed, pottied or adored.  I didn’t use a pattern, but I’ve seen a few out there that’ll turn out something like this.