Homemade Pop Tarts

poptartsWe’ve been dealing with illness a lot lately as you have probably heard. We are not sure, but the doctor (who saw Will) seemed to think it was the flu. Will had a fever of varying degrees for 11 days straight. And that didn’t even count two other days of fever that started us off on this season of illness a week before the LONG fever streak started. Thankfully no one else has been hit as hard as Will.

A couple weeks ago I was in a baking mood despite the fact that I was feeling pretty sick myself. Elise agreed to help me make homemade pop tarts. There are several recipes online, but the one we used was from Smitten Kitchen since I have made several homemade versions of special treats (graham crackers and wheat thins) from her site quite successfully.

Elise_poptartsThe recipe was really easy to follow. A little more time-consuming than some treats, but not bad. And granted, it took us a little longer than normal since we hadn’t bought a rolling pin yet. It’s funny a rolling pin is something you don’t really think you’ll miss terribly and don’t really feel like you use that much, until you don’t have one. It’s amazing how many times over the last few weeks I’ve wished I had one. Surprisingly, there really is no substitute and flattening stiff dough has to be done with your bare hands. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it as we’ve had to make all our own tortillas here in Germany as well. But, I would suggest you use a rolling pin, and I am happy to say that I now own one again, and will be using it next time we make this recipe.

We used whole wheat flour. I think if you use white the dough will probably come out a little more like what you’d expect in a pop tart, but of course the whole wheat if healthier. We did the cinnamon filling and it was delicious. Drier than the store bought version, but the taste was absolutely delicious, even if it wasn’t the healthiest option of filling. Next time we make them I’ll try the jam version.

Elise used these as her snacks for several days at school. And I admit that I ate probably just as many at home. They lasted quite fresh in an air tight container and made a quick and easy snack to grab. Though I suppose they’d be even more delicious if you reheated them first. But of course, since I spent the days following this baking day mostly in the recliner due to what we suspect was the flu deciding to attack my system for one last fight, grabbing and eating them cold was the only option I tried.

Cooking in Germany notes: This recipe didn’t have any issues with hard to find ingredients or cooking in my convection oven other than the fact that the convection oven tends to bake much more quickly than a regular one. I’m afraid I didn’t take a note of how long it took. I’ll have to add that in later.

Sometimes I just have to sew.

Sewing moods come and go for me. I’ve had some fabric on hand for summer clothes for the kids for awhile now, and realized I better get started on it before it is fall. It’s hard to fit in personal sewing with all the Baby Vardo work I have, but yesterday and today I took some time to do a quick project for Elise. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. And as a bonus, here are some cute photos of the boys as well. They didn’t want to be left out from Elise’s photo shoot, but of course had to put their own little spin on it.

Button Up Shirts

So just a little bit of bragging here. I wanted to post some more pictures of the boys button up shirts I did for Easter. I have done these for Baby Vardo and am enjoying being able to make my boys their dress shirts now. I figured out one change in the pattern this last time too that ended up making a much better fit on the chest/neck. Will’s shirt is the one I changed. Seth’s was still OK, but I think I will change all those smaller patterns slightly as well to create a little more room in that area. Oh, I made Elise’s dress as well. It was the practice run of her flower girl dress for the wedding. I decided I might as well finish it up and get some use out of it.

Unfortunately, a crayon somehow made it into the wash with the boys’ shirts today and now I think at least Will’s shirt might be ruined as it seemed to have taken the brunt of the crayon’s attack. So, I’ll be pulling out one of the other fabric prints I specifically bought for him and sewing it up a bit quicker than I had expected.

Seth turns 2.

We celebrated Seth’s birthday a little late because of Thanksgiving and illnesses. But he didn’t know the difference, and it was a really fun party. We set up several tables and fed everyone homemade lasagna and breadsticks. Instead of making a cake, I baked cupcakes and bought all sorts of different kinds of candy. Everyone decorated their own cupcake to eat. The kids, especially Seth, loved this. Seth loves candy, which he calls “dee.” He wasn’t too interested in the cupcake though. He would fill up his cupcake with candy, eat it all off, and then start over again. He did this about 3 times before I banned him from the rest of the candy.

Seth thought opening presents was fun, but a bit tedious towards the end. He’s hard to buy for since we have started to seriously limit the number of toys we buy for our kids. I had decided to buy him a hat, but after searching online for the perfect one in his size, I stumbled on a really fun etsy store called Emie Grace Creations. The crochet hats there were adorable, and they had patterns available for purchase. I purchased the Logan Puppy Hat pattern, ran to Wal-Mart to buy some cute colors of yarn, and sewed this up in a couple evenings of time and one naptime. You can see him wearing his hat in the first picture. He loves it, by the way. He wears it all the time, at home or out and about, and we get compliments on it wherever we go. I haven’t crocheted in awhile, and I found that sitting quietly counting stitches, praying, and thinking was a very refreshing change of pace for me. If you like to crochet, I would recommend the patterns from this etsy store, and if you don’t like to crochet, but have a need for an absolutely adorable little hat, then you can also buy them directly from the store already made.

Green Flower Dress

I finished another dress for Elise. She picked out the fabric herself (she did a wonderful job as usual). I know it is very summery, but when we picked out the fabric and designed the dress it was still quite warm outside. I’m hoping she can still wear it this fall and winter with a cardigan and tights.

I had some issues with the dress as I decided to make it open in the front, but then didn’t allow for an opening in my waistband and skirt design. Thankfully she is skinny enough that she can slip into it with just the buttons in the front. I added a tie so she can tie it tighter once she gets it on. The buttons are off-center because I forgot to allow enough room when I cut it to allow for buttons and tried to fix that by adding a button stand. I just forgot until she tried it on that the way I did the button stand meant that it was only overlapping to one side instead of dividing the front right down the middle. Oh well. Maybe no one will notice . . .

The skirt is a circle skirt so it has lots of twirl ability, which of course was tested and heartily approved by Elise. I’m still working on getting collars put in nicely, so that might need a little work, but it turned out better than my last attempt at a girl’s collar.

All in all, there are some things I would do differently next time, but it was a great learning project for me, and turned out to be a very wearable dress for Elise.

More fun with paper crafts.

We did crafts again today after taking a week off because the kids were all running temperatures off and on last week. This morning they all woke up fever-free and fairly happy. I say fairly, because Seth has still been occasionally grumpy enough for me to wonder if he is hurting somewhere, but with no other symptoms it is impossible to tell.

The kids wanted to do monster puppets. The book said to use juice cans, which we did not have, so I cut up paper towel tubes for them instead. I helped them get started with covering their cardboard tubes with paper and adding noses and eyes. After a bit, I just let them go at it with scissors and glue because they were doing so well on their own. You can see their creations. I made Seth’s for him, and after the pictures, he promptly tore it all apart and ate the pieces. In case you are wondering, Will is making a scary face. It was the only way he would cooperate for a photo.

Craft Time.

We’ve started a new craft time at our house. I know I sometimes tend to go through a day mostly only spending time with the kids when I have to. This means of course that many of our interactions are negative as they happen when I am trying to break up a fight, trying to get them to clean up their messes, or finding out what they’ve been doing so quietly for the last 5 minutes. To help remedy this, I put together a new schedule for the remainder of the summer and each morning for 30 minutes we all sit down and do a craft project together. Even Seth can get involved in many of the things and it gives Will a chance to develop a bit more fine-motor skills. Here are some pictures of one of the crafts we did this week. If you are looking for a fun, simple cheap idea for crafts, this was a good one. I bought the posterboard for just under a dollar each sheet (they might have even had cheaper ones, but I wanted the thick ones). Each kid got a sheet and they were able to do both sides of the sheet, so they got two different art pieces out of it. First, I had them lie down on the sheet to mark the head placement and did a few marks to mark the approximate size of their face. This was Seth’s favorite part of the whole thing, he kept lying down on his sheet wanting me to trace him again. After they got up, I made an oval where their face was and told them to draw their person or animal or design with the oval as the face. When they finished, we cut out the oval and ta da! They could dress up as whatever they created. Will and Seth both had help on their drawings, though on the side you can’t see of Will’s he has created an abstract art piece that actually is quite interesting when you add his face to it. (By the way, Will’s eyes are closed because he seems to think he’ll get a flash whenever I take a picture even though I hardly ever use the flash.)

Seth’s striped shirt.

Here is my second attempt at sewing a button up shirt from scratch. The pattern probably needs a little more tweaking, especially in the sleeves, but overall it turned out very well.

My first attempt, pictured below, was a long sleeve shirt, which was good as I learned the process of inserting a sleeve placket, something I’d never done. On this short-sleeved version for Seth, I learned some new techniques that helped to make this shirt look a whole lot more finished and professional, all things I will use when I am making shirts to sell this fall.

According to my shirt-making book, all seams should be hidden, so that you have no raw edges. In order to accomplish this I had to learn to do flat-felled seams. Both by hand for curved seams like the shoulder seam and with a felling foot for straighter seams like the side seams. The result is a double seam that hides all raw edges and lies flat so that it doesn’t add any extra bulk.

In my quest to make the process faster, easier and more professional, I not only invested in the felling foot for my machine, but also bought a hemmer foot, which double rolls the fabric while sewing for the hem. It makes the hem easy to do in one step without ironing, and results in a pretty professional looking hemline. I had a bit of trouble learning to use this foot, if you are working with thin cotton fabric like I was, make sure you have a pretty small needle, mine was making too big of holes in the fabric and once punched it down into the machine so that I had to take part of the machine apart in order to release it without ruining my whole shirt. But with a smaller needle and a slower sewing pace, I was able to complete the hem. With practice I think this will become much easier.