July 29, 2013

A Review: One Step Ahead Splash Pad

One Step Ahead Splash Pad: ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5

This is my personal review on the One Step Ahead Splash Pad. This item was on my wish list for my baby for a few months in the spring. I was lucky enough to actually find this one at a garage sale for only $5 right at the start of summer! What a score! (They are usually about $20)

Since my baby Christian was 8-9 months through out the summer, I wanted something that was age appropriate for him to cool off in that we could have fun with at home. I didn't like the idea of a baby pool because that was one more thing to clean, it held too much water for my liking at his age, and it was another huge thing to store. So when I found the idea of a splash pad on pinterest, I was very excited!!
1. The price is great (mine was extra awesome :o)
2. The look of the pad is fun, colorful and engaging
3. The hose connection is pretty good, connects well, minimal leaking
4. There is a pretty good drain, just pop the lid and pour it out
5. The water sprays are great, and there are many
6. Floating toys in a water ring
7. Storing this is a breeze since it fold up nice and flat
8. No cleaning necessary!
9. Great size, pretty large, enough to fit at least 3 babies comfortably

Cons/Potential Cons:
1. You have to constantly run the water so the water pressure pushes through creating sprays (lots of water for lots of fun)
2. Because of where the drain is placed you have to maneuver the pad around trying to angle the water out of the drain (I got most of the water out and the water that was left in there, which was very little, evaporated within a day or so)
3. Depending on the age of your baby, this pad does hold a good amount of water creating a small pool (probably about an inch and a half) since the sides are raised from the water pressure keeping everything in. I didn't mind this at all.
4. Because the water is constantly running, it does stay cold, BUT if used on a nice hot summer day.... not so bad.

Overall, this was a great find/purchase and I'd encourage anyone who has a younger baby to definitely seek one of these splash pads out!!

July 26, 2013

Quilting: Rail Fence Block

This block is a very easy block, and a good place to start if you'd like to make a quilt! I've sewn quite a bit but I'm new to quilting.

*This makes 9 total blocks*

1. First,
cut off the edging (also known as the salvage). Make sure you have a straight edge on one side (the side you cut the strips from). You can make this by lining up the fabric against a line on your cutting mat and cutting a straight edge. From this side, cut 2 1/2" x 22" strips from three coordinating fabrics. You can see in my picture, I chose a dark, a medium and a medium light fabric.

2. After the strips are cut, take the dark strip and medium strip and line them up face to face. Sew 1/4" seam (always when making a quilt). Steam the seam with an iron towards the dark fabric. Open up the pieces so the fabric faces are out. 

3. Add the medium light strip to the medium strip (strip in the middle), face to face. Sew seam and press. 

4. Now that the pieces are all sew together, cut down your sewn block strips into 3- 6 1/2 inch squares.

5. Repeat all these steps, to make another set of three blocks, for 9 total blocks.

*Straight edge should also be used to line up material at (0,1) on your mat to cut strips.

July 24, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This is a pie that's been around in my family for awhile. It would make an appearance often for my sister's July birthday. It's a tasty fruit filled pie, perfect for summer!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
-9" deep dish pie crust (I purchased this pie crust because of a time crunch, but when I do make a crust from scratch I always use the original pie crust from Joyful Cooking.)
- 4 cups diced rhubarb (about 1.15 lbs)
- 3 cups sliced or chopped fresh strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 T. quick cooking tapioca

Crumb topping:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted

*The most time consuming part of this recipe, is dicing the rhubarb!  Also note that rhubarb is very juicy so make sure you wear an apron so you don't get sprayed!

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a pan with a bottom crust.
2. Mix together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and tapioca. Spoon this into the pie crust and set aside.
3. Mix ingredients together for the crumb topping. Cut in the butter last until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle this over the pie filling.
4. Bake at 400°F for the first 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 35 minutes. Serve with fresh strawberries, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream! Yum!

July 22, 2013

Weekend Fun in Photos

Next up, Mars :o)
Too bad I'm not a beer drinker, this sounds good!

Beginnings of a Quilt: Fabric and Tools

I have always wanted to sew amazing things. I had a very simple sewing kit when I was younger that allowed me to hand stitch felt stuffed animals. Over the years I have gotten to be a little bit more adventurous in the sense that I started sewing seams and then graduated to completing a very easy dog pillow. Nothing complicated. I didn't even worry if I was sewing very straight seams.
Since getting older I feel that I should now be at the point where I am able to sew and create beautiful things, especially things to pass down to my kids.

I had the very large and challenging ambition of learning how to quilt after I found many free patterns online of Harry Potter quilting blocks (I am a huge HP fan! I am also gaga for the Lord of the Rings, and would love to try this LOTRs project as well. Also Jennifer Ofenstein's Sew Hooked and Fandom in Stitches are great stitch along sites!)

I really wanted to be able to make each of my children a quilt, and I wanted to start with a Harry Potter quilt. I couldn't just jump right into it without knowing what I'm doing or the basics, so I finally looked for an affordable class in my area. It didn't take long until I ran into a local shop that offered a Quilting 101 class that taught quilting basics such as how to choose fabrics, the proper tools etc. Sign me up! It was the perfect time too with summer just starting, so I had a lot of free time on my hands, since I teach for a living.

From there I started learning the basic blocks and started to piece together a sampler quilt made of different kinds of quilting blocks. Through a series of posts, I'll share the different blocks I learned and other tips along the way. Seeeew, on with the sewing!

My first Quilting 101 class session covered the tools and fabrics needed to make a sampler quilt (a quilt constructed of a collection of different patterned blocks).
I was limited to the fabric selection that was available in the shop where my classes were held, even though I could have gone else where to purchase fabrics. Since I was new to all of that, I decided to get help and purchase at the store where I was taking my class. The shop specializes in vintage 19th century reproduction fabrics, so that is what my sampler quilt fabrics are comprised of. 

I picked out 8 different colors for my sampler quilt: (L to R) 
-2 darks
= 1/2 yard (one dark can be the focus fabric, aka the outer border of a quilt. This will need an extra yard of fabric equaling a total of 1 1/2 yd. for focus fabric and only 1/2 yard for other dark option.)
-2 mediums= 1/2 yard
-2 medium lights= 1/2 yard
-2 lights
= 1/2 yard

-inner border= 1/4 yard (for a finished 1 in. border)
-binding= 3/8 yard
-backing= 1 1/4 yard

*They are all complimentary colors of my focus fabric (far left fabric).
*Measurements are for a small-ish sampler quilt (I will put up measurements after quilt is made).

-working sewing machine (I have a Singer 7258 Stylist)

-1/4" quilting presser foot (optional if you have a marked 1/4" line on your machine) 

-100% cotton thread 

-18 x 24 cutting mat (I like the Olfa mat

-6 x 24 ruler

-6 x 12 ruler

*These can also be found at a Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael's etc.*

-45 mm blade rotary cutter

-sewing pins (glass heads are best so they don't melt!)

-sharp scissors

-sharp seam ripper 

-iron and table for pressing the blocks

July 19, 2013

Albert Lea, MN Hot Spot: Antiques

Another all time favorite place of mine to visit while in Albert Lea, is the local antique store. I love all things vintage, and I always find the neatest pieces here! I can just look for hours, and the prices are great. There should be shops like this closer to home!
There's always a lot to see, especially with this store having multiple sellers.
I wish I could buy most of their clothes! Even if I couldn't wear it, someone I know could OR the fabric would be great to use and turn into some sort of pretty project.
 I LOVE this old radio, and only $10!
What a grand old suitcase with a lot of character!!
 Swoon...broaches and pins.
My favorite find was this little Alaskan sled dog lamp! I did not end up purchasing it, but it was sooo adorable and unique! Now I'm having some reverse buyers remorse! If it's there the next time I visit, I'll take it as a sign that it should be mine ;o)

July 17, 2013

{Simple} Fish Fry

It's been well known in my and my husbands family, that when you go fishing, you always bring along makings for a shore lunch fish fry! My husband would make the trek to Canada to fish with his dad and family friends, and I grew up fishing rivers with my dad, sister, and family friends in Arkansas (we'd make the two hour drive from Springfield, MO).

This fish fry however is the traditional Canadian fish fry that my husband grew up with (I'm sure one day I'll share the shore lunch fish fry makings from my side of the family).

Canadian Style Fish Fry 
-1 box Shore Lunch fish breading/batter mix, Cajun Style, or original (can be found at Menards or Amazon)
- 4 fish fillets, we used walleye
- canola oil
- gallon size ziploc bag
- large pan

1. Heat canola oil in a large pan on the stove (enough to cover half the fillet)
2. Pour some Shore Lunch breading into a ziploc bag. Add a fish fillet and shake until fish is fully coated.
3. Once the oil has heated, add the breaded fillets.

4. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side. Then flip.
 5. You'll know they are done, when they have a nice goldish-brown coloring.
Wa-la, an easy at home fish fry!

My husband made these for me with fish they caught in Canada. I had never had my walleye cooked like this before, and I had my doubts, but it was sure delicious!!! The fish was great and the breading was nice and crispy.

July 16, 2013

Sneak Peek & Photo Challenge

Here's a sneek peek of a new project coming up! Excited!!

I'm also starting the 30 day self-portrait challenge that A Beautiful Mess (my favorite blog) is starting today!
It will definitely be a challenge since I don't really like any pictures of myself, and I'm the photographer of the family! Here's to a challenge! Especially since I have a short vacation coming up!

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