Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fashion Tip of the Day

Posted by Tara
 
We live in Arizona. It. Is. Hot. So I know layering clothes isn't always a good idea, but it does look really cute. Layering clothes with my outfits is one of my favorite things. Neon colors are in, and I love them. 
Here I am wearing a white striped shirt from H&M. Love this shirt because it can go with any color of skinnies or a pair of denim. Here I paired it with a pair of white shorts. What is best about this shirt is it only costs $5!! I slipped a neon yellow shirt underneath (Got it at Target) and WA-LA! 
 

I really liked how these two shirts layered together. Remember while getting dressed, if a shirt is getting old to you and you want to change it up, look around your closet and try layering it with something else!

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Monogrammed Kitchen Towels for Mom

Posted by Devin



April will soon be turning into May and that means that Mother's Day is right around the corner. Actually, it's just 2 weeks away now, yikes! If you need a simple idea for a homemade gift (and now that I'm a mom I realize mother's really DO love the homemade things their kids make for them), I've got the tutorial for you! This monogrammed kitchen towel only took me 15 minutes to put together and cost me less than a dollar as I already had most of the supplies on hand. I think it turned out super cute and will be making 4 more for all of the other mothers in my life.

Materials Needed:
- kitchen towel (the ones I purchased are 15" wide by 2' long)
- scrap fabric (1 square large enough for your letter and a 2" strip a little over twice as long as your towel is wide)
- Heat n' Bond
- rotary cutter or scissors
- letter stencil (my stencil square is 5" wide by 6" tall)

 
 

Step 1: Buy some simple kitchen towels. I was going to buy plain white ones and possibly paint a stripe down the side of them, but I came across these towels on clearance at Walmart and loved the stripes they already had. Score! Once you get them home, give them a good ironing to get out any wrinkles.


Step 2: Prepare your fabric for the monogram.  This is where the Heat n' Bond comes in. This stuff is amazing (I have a crafting-crush on Heat n' Bond, the possibilities are just endless!) and it is available at most crafting stores. I purchased mine at JoAnn's. To use it you simply cut a piece large enough for your letter stencil to fit on (mine is larger as I am planning on cutting out more letters later) and put it on the back side of your fabric, paper-side up.


You then press your iron, holding it still for 2 seconds, on each part of the paper. I usually have my iron on a cotton-setting, but you may need to adjust the heat to find the right temp for the Heat n' Bond to adhere. You will want to start at one end and work your way to the other, smoothing the paper as you go.


Step 3: Trace your stencil onto the paper and cut it out. Be careful with this step. Make sure you place your stencil right side down, otherwise you will end up with a backwards letter when you are done (and you know mama didn't raise no fool).


 

If you are cutting out a letter with a center, I fold the letter in half and make a snip. I then put my scissors into the slit and now you can cut the center out.



Step 4: Peel the paper off of the letter and place it right side up where you would like it to go on your towel. I folded my towel in half and placed it just right of center. This way it will look nice when it is folded and hanging in mom's kitchen.


Step 5: Iron it on. Take your warm iron and press and hold it over each part of the letter for 8 seconds. Do not move the iron around, just press and hold and then move on to the next section.


Step 6: Cut out a 2" strip of fabric. I cut mine 45" long so I would have plenty of fabric once I started to make the ruffle. I only ended up needing 32", but I just cut the ends off when I was done.


Step 7: Prepare the ruffle. I made the easiest ruffle ever. I took the fabric and folded it over every few inches and pinned it, creating a pleated look. Once I had pinned enough fabric to cover the width of the towel I stopped. Also, I did not hem my strip as I thought a frayed edge would be cute (and one step easier, woot woot!).


Step 8: Attach the ruffle to the back side of the towel and sew it on. To attach the ruffle, I lined up the top edge of my fabric with the seam line on the towel. This helped me to keep it straight.


Sew it!



Step 9: Cut off the left over fabric on each end of the ruffle and you are done! Put some ribbon around it, add a few kitchen gadgets or utensils and you have yourself a homemade Mother's Day present! Won't mom be proud? ;)

 

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where's The Cornbread???

Posted by Devin
 
 
This post is an update to my A Berry Sweet Teacher Gift post yesterday. After eating the goodies we gave them, the darling ladies down at Chase's preschool were asking me today, "How did you make your cornbread?!! You didn't put the directions on your blog!!!" Sorry! That is an oversight I will now correct. :)

I probably didn't include it because it's so simple. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized "Yeah, the Gables sort-of are cornbread connoisseurs. Even if it's just the directions off of a box of corn meal, we are pretty particular about WHICH box of corn meal." LOL!

So here it is: Albers Enriched & Degermed White Corn Meal.
 
 
Cooking cornbread out in the desert is a Gable family tradition. Putting extra sugar in it dates back to Jake's great-grandmother who added sugar to everything, even her vegetables.  So the recipe I use is the Sweet Corn Bread recipe on the side of the Albers box. Sweet cornbread is the only way to go.
 
 
To our favorite Preschool teachers down at the Child Enrichment Center, there you have it! We love you guys and thank you for making Chase's year in your classroom a wonderful experience!

~Devin

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A "Berry" Sweet Teacher Gift

Posted by Devin
 
In my recent post, Strawberry Freezer Jammin', I promised to tell you about my gifts for the boys' teachers this year. I made each of them a dozen mini-muffins paired with a jar of our homemade jam and placed in gift totes with my printable tags. And here they are, all finished!


What I did:
 
Step 1: Major jam session with Tara. For recipe and instructions, see my post on Strawberry Freezer Jammin'. When you are done with all of the jam-making fun, put some of your jam into clean baby food jars. (I knew storing all of those baby food jars would pay off someday!)

 
Step 2: Paint the lids of your jars. I just happened to have some red spray paint on hand so I put a few coats on my lids and voila! Looking cuter all ready.

 
 
For cuteness overload; take some white acrylic paint, a pencil eraser, turn on a good show to watch, and add some polka dots! Now we're talking.
 
 
 

 
 
Step 3: Make some muffins. I chose to make mini-cornbread muffins, something simple to highlight the strawberry jam yumminess!
 

Step 4: Print these gift tags I made! They say "Thank you berry much for being my teacher this year." Here is the link for small ones and here is the link for slightly larger ones in case you'd like to give your teachers a large jar of jam (gotta keep it proportional). Personally I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do the small ones, I have a love for all things miniature. Cut out your tags, making sure to leave room for a hole punch at the top.
 
 

Step 5: Assemble it all together! I found the cutest polka dot gift totes in the dollar bins at Target. I'm not sure why the label on the shelf says "duct tape" but they did actually belong in the dollar bins, nonetheless.

 
Put some muffins into a cellophane bag (I had striped ones left over from Christmas that I thought went nicely with the totes, yay!), then place the bag of muffins and the jam into the gift tote and tie on the tag! I used raffia for all of my ties. My mom gave me a giant bag of raffia, probably 10 years ago, and I think it regenerates! I use it all of the time in place of ribbon (not to mention that it's the straw every year for the manger when the Gable grandchildren have their Christmas nativity) and it never seems to get any smaller! Strange.
 
 
 
 
Anyways, that's it! I hope our teachers like them and if you choose to make your own, I hope your's do too!
 
~Devin

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Becoming A Runner

Posted by Devin

 
Tara and I are runners.  She has always been a runner. I have not. When I was pregnant with my 4th child, Jake began training for and participating in triathlons.  I went to his races and cheered him on and something inside me began to really, really want to do it too.  It looked painful and hard and for some reason, super satisfying at the end!

In addition to my desire to race with Jake, another motivating factor (and probably my biggest) was post-pregnancy fitness. I wanted to get my body back and I wanted to do it fast. And the thought of being able to run, free as a bird, without carrying along 30 extra pounds of weight sounded fabulous! Knowing that this was most likely my last pregnancy and that I would be turning 30 in less than a year added an extra allure to begin my next stage of life in shape. So as soon as I was given the all-clear from my doctor after the birth of my fourth son in May 2010, I got to work!

Jake made me a 4-month, couch-to-5K running schedule (Click Here for a copy). To say that I was not a runner is an under-statement. My visions of "free as a bird" were hardly a reality for awhile. I have always been fit and enjoyed participating in sports, running just wasn't one of them.  I began on Week 2 of the training schedule and my first day required me to run for 3 minutes in a 30 minute walk.  I thought I was going to die. Looking back, I can not believe that I could barely run for 3 minutes, but it was tough!

However, I had faith in the training plan and to my astonishment, it worked!  In 4 months, I had become (dare I say it?) a runner! I have been a regular runner since then and have participated in The Cactus Cha Cha 3-mile Trail Run, The Litchfield Kiwanis 10K, The Litchfield Kiwanis Sprint Tri in the Park, The Color Run (Tempe, AZ), and The Arizona Half Marathon (Goodyear, AZ).  Tara and I trained for and ran the 1/2 marathon together and came in at our goal time, right at 2 hours.


May I add here that training with a friend is awesome?  So much easier to get through those long Saturday runs with someone to talk to and laugh with.  And when you trip on the sidewalk and land in a bush because you are running at 5a.m. and it is super dark outside and you can't see a darned thing, there is someone there to help peel you off the ground and dust you off.  Not that that has ever happened to me... (Thanks again, Tara!)

The moral of my story: If you have always had a secret wish to run, but felt that you just "are not a runner", think again.  Running, like most sports, is all about the training.  Find a good training plan for you and give it a try! You'll be surprised at the results if you stick with it and remain dedicated.

Tara and I are still running together 2-3 times a week.  We are currently on the hunt for a good race to participate in this fall (because as we all know, Arizona is NOT a fun place to partcipate in a run during the summer).  We'll keep you updated when we find one and share our next training plan (and the ups and downs that go with it)!

~Devin

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Strawberry Freezer Jammin'

Posted by Devin

Ooh, yeah! All right!
We're jammin':
I wanna jam it wid you.
We're jammin', jammin',
And I hope you like jammin', too.

Sorry, couldn't resist throwing a little Bob Marley in there. I had this song in my head all day while we were making our jam, so I thought it appropriate to share.

I know many of you have probably made freezer jam before, but if you haven't yet it's time to give it a try. It's easy, fun, and oh the sweet yummy homemade jam-goodness! So grab some friends, read this how-to, and let the jammin' begin!

Strawberries were on sale this weel for $0.99/lb so Tara gave me a ring and said "Let's make jam!" Awesome! We took advantage of a preschool morning and met each other at the grocery store after dropping off the kiddos. Here's what we each bought: 8 lbs strawberries, 5 lbs sugar, and 5 boxes of pectin. We weren't sure if we had exactly the right amounts and as it turned out we didn't, ha! We had more strawberried than we needed. I'm supposed to be the "math person" so we'll blame this one on me.


 
 
As we soon found, though, it's not an exact science. The amount of strawberries you need depends on how chunky you like your jam. I preffered mine a little more processed so it only ended up taking 5 lbs of strawberries to make 2 1/2 batches of jam. Tara liked her strawberries a bit chunkier so it took 6 lbs of strawberries for 2 1/2 batches. The thinner strawberries went further. Here's Tara triple checking how much fruit we were supposed to use.


So here is what we ended up using:

We are calling a "batch" enough to fill 5-6 pint sized mason jars. You can half this, double it, whatever you need. We each made 2 1/2 batches.

Ingredients for 1 batch:
- 2 boxes of Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin
- Strawberries: 2 lbs for my smoother jam, slightly more for Tara's chunkier jam (2 2/5 lbs), it needs to make 4 cups after it is processed.
- 8 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 5-6 pint sized mason jars


Step 1: Wash your strawberries, cut off the stems, and dice them into medium sized pieces.

 

Step 2: We put our strawberries into Tara's Bosch blender and simply pulsed it a few times until it reached our desired consistencies. Smoother for me, chunkier for Tara. All of the strawberries didn't fit at once so it took about 3 times of filling the blender jar 1/2 way full to get it all processed. Pour precisely 4 cups of the processed strawberries into a large bowl.

 
 

Step 3: Pour sugar into the strawberries and stir until blended. Let sit for 10 minutes.

 

Step 4: While strawberries are sitting, put your water and 2 packages of pectin into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly throughout this process. Remove from heat. (You can see Tara and I stirring, stirring, stirring!!!)

 
 

Step 5: Pour the pectin/water mixture into the strawberries once the 10 minutes for step 3 have finished. Stir for 3 minutes.

Step 6: Pour the jam into clean mason jars (or any container with a tight lide).


Step 7: Let the jam sit 24 hours at room temperature. Then put the jam into the freezer or if you want to use it right away, into the refrigerator. The jam will stay good in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and for 1 year in the freezer.
 

And that's it! Not too bad, huh? Tara and I are set on jam, at least forawhile. With my 4 boys and her 5 kids it probably won't last long in either of our houses.

One more thing: on top of being an awesome, delicious treat to have stocked up in your freezer, homemade jam makes a wonderful gift. Wouldn’t you like to get some? I would! I decided to fill a number of baby food jars with jam and will be using it for teacher appreciation gifts. The end of the school year is fast approaching! Check out my blog post for that coming soon! 

~Devin

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