Burden on my family

For the second year in a row I have signed up to be a summer seamstress as my Junior League placement. Alex calls it a “burden on my family” as I have to get my 72 hours done in three months. That equals 20 diaper bags, 20 baby blankets and 40 burp clothes, FYI.

I obviously ignore him as I love it. And as Sonia says, I would be doing the 72 hours of volunteer work either way. The baby items I am making this year are taken to the new teen moms at Ben Taub hospital here in Houston. The girls get a bag, a blanket and two burp cloth and a Junior League volunteer (not me) welcoming their new baby to the world. Is there a better use of my time? I think not.

Zach was on me to make his shark sheet and I told him I had to make bags for babies who don’t have anything. They need a bag. You have a sheet. You have five sheets – simmer down.

But it is time consuming and has monopolized every extra minute I have been at home with the boys at school. Hence me not upping my blogging since I left work. But as of August 7th I am done! So I will get back on the blogging about nothing bandwagon. I know the 10 of you will be pleased.

In the meantime I thought one of you might be interested in making a bag or two as they are super simple. They only tricky part is the French seam along the side and the bottom of the bag. You don’t know what a french seam is? Me either, I had to Google it, let me show you.

So here is the side of the bag. I have just put it together wrong sides facing and sewed it together.

 Then you tuck the seam in and use the sides of the bag to cover up the seam and sew it again. Voila! The cut edge disappears inside like magic.

You do the same thing on the bottom but then cut out some of the corner to make it a flat bottom. Pretty Prudent has a nice tutorial if you are interested. You don’t have to make 20, one would be a nice gift for yourself or a great use of extra fabric too.

Off to finish those blankets and burp cloths.

How to make an ugly sign just OK

This was the sign I bought at Party City to use for James’ party.

Party Streamer Yard Sign 14in x 15in

Does that look the least bit on theme to you? Exactly. You can imagine my disappointment when this was my best option the day before the party. Oh I know it is a perfectly fine sign if I were having a New Year’s eve party or a general party. But not for a Noah’s ark themed party. It was like the time my sister tried to use this sign for her Cat the Hat themed first birthday party.

Hugs & Stitches Girl's 1st Birthday Yard Sign 14in x 16in

I sometimes am not 100% sure we are related.

We ended up covering that mess with squares in her theme and Chuck’s name. So I figured I could do the same for mine. But, of course, I was running low on time (icing rainbow cupcakes) and my sister suggested using the zebra duct table I bought for the waters (it looked like this) to cover the ribbons on the side.

And I realized she might be a secret crafting genius.

The reason it is just an OK sign? My handwriting.

So disappointing.

Shark Sheet

Otherwise known as “You know you can buy that, right?” per Lauren.

So Zach needed a new sheet for his “naps” at school. He had told me a week or so ago but I thought he was making it up and was NOT going to buy another crib sheet. We own five sheets and one crib, we don’t need another one. But then his teacher tells me that yes, he does in fact need a new sheet as his keeps “popping off” when he tries to put it on. They are teaching independence and he has a hard time doing it himself. Ughhh FINE.

But I am not buying one. I am going to make it. Out of an old set of sheets that need to go but are super soft (the only criteria for Zach). And because it is me I am not just going to leave it at that.

I was already working on a new blanket for him. He was with me in Joann’s at one point and spotted some shark fabric that was crazy soft and he had to have it. I had a coupon which makes everything OK.

So once I took the sheet off the bed (yes we were still using it) and cut it down to the dimensions my girls over at Pretty Prudent told me to I was on my way. Luckily this is not my first crib sheet making (please) so it went quickly.

Here is the before and after of the elastic corners. Don’t be scared by my pincushion bracelet.

Since it was such a blank canvas, that white sheet, I had the idea to do waves with shark fins coming out, to go across the sheet. 
Of course I did. That is not what normal people do. But I got SUPER excited about.
I looked out on Pinterest for a template of a wave. I found some, but my sewing around curves tends to leave something to be desired. Then I saw this picture and knew I could just make simple choppy waves and be happy with it. 
Blue Waves Loopy Heart Guest Escort / Place Card Business Card Template by fatfatin_blue_knot
I free handed some waves (super hard as you can imagine) on card stock and cut them out, then just traced them onto the fabric scraps I had. I know you too have fabric in lengths of 44″ in two colors of blue fabric laying around your house.
Same thing with the shark fins, though I did make Alex help me get the scale down.
Then I just sewed each section to each other, starting with the bottom one and leaving the top free to sew to the sheet. I sewed in the sharks before doing the blue wave. Finally I sewed the entire thing to the sheet stopping as to not go over the fins and sewing the straight bottom with a small hem. You guys, super simple. 

 Done! I love it. I am so excited about how it turned out. Of course, the edges are totally raw and this sheet gets washed every week…so we shall see how my water holds up in a month or so.

Zach liked it too. Here he is taking it for a spin.

He did initially ask me to make the eye and mouth that are on his other sheet which just made my day. Turns out he DID notice my work! A year later, but I can’t be picky.

But I, of course, had to tell him no, Mommy has a new vision for your sheet. Please don’t try to ruin my dreams.

The cupcakes that stole the show

I had no idea when I made rainbow cupcakes for James’ party that it would garner such praise. They were very, very easy to make just a tad time intensive. But way less than rainbow cakes. I mean, the labor involved in that. Baking six layers of cake all dyed different colors, then leveling it and icing it? No thank you.

But I had made three color cupcakes last year for Mardi Gras (which I am shocked I did not blog about) so I thought, could I add three more colors with the same result? Worth a shot and it if they look terrible, we will just have solid color cupcakes in rainbow colors. I could live with that.

I just used two boxes of cake mix (I can’t be bothered to make it from scratch) and gel food color. I split the batter into six bowls.

Then just put about a tablespoon (those are the small spoons from my flatware set) in each liner layering in the colors of the rainbow. You can see the bottom three colors here.

My trusty sidekick insisted on sitting on the island next to me to “help”. Mainly he ate some old pretzels and pointed to each color saying, “Blue?”.

I baked the cupcakes for the amount of time on the box and they were perfect.

I only allowed the boys to eat one to test it. Well and Dewayne got a left over purple one too.

For the icing, again I did not make it, but did pipe the store bought version on the top of the cupcakes to look like a cloud. Well that is what my sister called it. Really it looked terrible until I nestled two of each kind of animal on top and one of the toppers (which Lita at Kindly Reply customized for me to print out). Dewayne and Lauren helped me identify the animals in the pack. It was not an easy task.

And while the icing was the least attractive part, that was the only part that James ate. But don’t get confused into thinking he was impressed by any of this nonsense. He would have preferred I put a plate of icing down in front of him and back slowly away.

Afternoons with my boys

People have been asking me what I have been doing with myself in the month since I left my job. My initial answer is to shrug and wonder myself. Really my days have been busy and go by faster than I ever would have thought. I thought I would give a run down of a day in the life of this stay at home mom.

7:00 James wakes up in his bed and starts crying to get out. Once out he wants to watch Thomas and have a snack. Neither of those things happen. He then gets my chap stick and starts smearing it all over the lower portion of his face.
7:30 Zach gets up and comes in (Alex is usually showering or doing something by this time). I rouse myself and get them both breakfast. They play and get dressed until around nine when we mosey up to school.
9:30 I head to the gym in an attempt to be a skinny SAHM I see all over town. Lulemon top – check, four year old running shorts – check.
10:30 head home to shower (maybe) and straighten up the house from the morning
12:00 eat lunch. Maybe with a friend, maybe in the kitchen, maybe on the couch. I can’t really say.
1:00 – 3:00 go to the grocery store, pet food store, return hideous top to Target, etc. Some light cleaning, prep dinner or work on my Junior League sewing project.
3:30 pick up the boys from school and our afternoon begins.

Some days Zach just wants to come home and play. The boys have really started to play together and it is awesome. Oh they fight of course, someone always starts crying after about 20 minutes (usually James saying “Zaaaach. Zaaaach mama”) but on the whole they are great together.

However today Zach wanted to go to the science museum. Vince became a member last year so we can go for the member rate and it is nice and cool. It is also open until 6:00 p.m. in the summers so getting there at 4 gives you plenty of time to visit. I might note though – it takes us an hour max to see anything. Museum, aquarium, pools, a hour is always the most we stay. So you have been warned if we have an outing planned with you.

Zach loves to ride the Bronocosaurus which is a mechanical dino that roars and bucks slightly. James is terrified and clutches me the entire time. I usually say no but Vince let’s him ride it and I was not in the mood for a battle that day.

We wander through the dinosaurs, which are really very cool, but avoid the mummy section. Apparently Vince and the boys stumbled upon them one day and Zach was very scared of the “dead bodies just laying there”. Valid.

I get in trouble in the dinosaurs section when James decides to bang on a Plexiglas picture of monkeys. A security guard rushes over to tell me that he can’t touch that. My response, “Yeah, I am on it.” Which I was, sort of. Zach had taken off to see the giant sloth and at least I knew were James was thanks to the banging. I mean he had not crawled up into an exhibit, calm down.

We then go through the Africa exhibit which has stuffed animals (real ones) in a variety of poses. Personally I am slightly terrified of the gorilla but have to pull myself together as my two year old is trying to make out with it.

They also had a section on shells (snore) but it included a small fish tank was in the back with a few crabs. James proceeded to yell “MAMA FISH” about 25 times until I persuaded him to leave with some illegal goldfish. Zach is fascinated by the giant shells hanging around him.

There is also a McDonald’s in the museum which Zach so sweetly told me, as if I could not smell the fries and read. I decided that we all needed a treat, me for getting in trouble, Zach for being a good listener and James, well, James just got it by default.

I stupidly let them get ice cream which we had to rush outside to eat. We switched cones about four times until everyone was happy with the cone they had.

This is James saying, “Cheeeese”.

And I am done. Home for bath time, brushing teeth and bedtime. Then some alone Mommy time until Alex comes home. Or I get to watch the Real Housewives in peace.

Beach in a Box

I knew when I made these snacks for Zach’s class I was either a crafting genius or completely crazy. I will let you be the judge.

Zach’s class was learning about the sea and had been making jelly fish, treasure boxes, etc in the week leading up to our snack week. When I saw this sand pudding on Pinterest I knew I had to do it.

But because I am me and can’t leave a good thing alone I decided to add a twist by dying the “water” blue. Please witness the banana jello pudding I dyed blue. Yes, you read that correctly, I dyed pudding blue.

Then I ground up Nila wafers in my food processor to resemble sand. Which it totally, totally did but also horrified James. He stood at my feet crying,”Cookies! Mama, cookies!”. My trusty helper then spooned the “sand” into individual Chinese food containers we are calling buckets.

I layered the blue pudding in.  

Do you see my vision coming together? Are you as excited as I am?

Finally I spooned more “sand” on top and voila! Beach in a box.

It was about this time it occurred to me that I was taking blue pudding to a bunch of four year olds. Blue pudding. No pudding is blue. They don’t make pudding in wacky colors and there could be a reason for this.

I got slightly concerned it might go terribly, terribly wrong. So I stuck a bag of Goldfish in (still on theme) for good measure.

As we walked into school with our beach in a box, me feeling oh so smug and excited, his teacher told me that sea week was over. This week was space. Well crap. Moon sand is not tan nor is the moon underneath it blue and squishy.

So I send blue pudding with crushed up cookies to four year olds who were learning about space.


Blackberry Crumble

So what to do when you come home from 15 minutes of blackberry picking with a bushel of blackberries? Blackberry crumble of course. In the pan that you brought the blackberries home in because, the thought of cleaning another pan makes you want to crawl under your desk and hide.

My friend Beth brought me the peach crumble version after I had James and I successfully ate the entire pan, though not in one sitting. It is perfect to keep in the fridge and dish out a bit each night. I dream about this crumble, I have made my fair share and this one is the best in my book. The perfect combo of fruit to topping. I don’t know what Alex thinks as I can’t be sure he has had any versions of this dish. I would ask him but then he would know he was missing out. Let’s just keep this our secret. And we know he won’t read it here – remember he “lives the blog” so doesn’t need to read it.

The crumble is great with any fruit in season. Make it today with whatever is on sale. Then bring some to me because I have a two year old who can turn on the light in his room and does so at 5am. See you tomorrow morning.

My only comment for the recipe is to be sure to use the 11×7 pan if you have it. You want this to be a thin layer of fruit and topping or it gets way too buttery. Alternatively, you could scale back the butter. But why? Just use a bigger pan.

Fresh Peach Crumble


6 cups peeled sliced ripe peaches (any fruit will work and I didn’t peel the peaches – waaay too lazy for that)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 Heat oven to 375*.
2 Put peach slices in greased, shallow 11×7 baking dish.
3 Mix brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, peel, and cinnamon.
4 Sprinkle over the peaches.
5 Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
6 Stir in egg until mixture is coarse crumbs.
7 Sprinkle over peaches.
8 Drizzle butter evenly over topping.
9 Bake for 38 minutes.

Two for Tuesdays

So if you are like me and have seen the Ferris wheel at the downtown Houston Aquarium and thought, who would pay to ride that and get a view of the freeway?

This girl.
Do you see my precious babies in their first Ferris wheel? Do you see how there is zero fencing aside from a back rest keeping them in the car? And do you also see that I am obviously sitting across the car from them? Yeah, stay at home mom fail: putting children, you quit your job to be with in peril.
I mean they were fine, obviously. James was not impressed but Zach loved looking at the buildings and spotting Alex’s office and my old office. I wanted to vomit the entire time.
But on to better things. The reason we went to the Aquarium was that on Tuesday’s you get buy one get one free admission. And children are free under two years of age. Being a stay at home mom (who does not stay at home much as my mother points out) and watching our family budget (which is what all mommy bloggers say) I knew we had to go prior to James turning two.
It was actually much better than I thought. We showed up right when it opened at 10 and hopped on to the train. It goes through a tunnel where sharks swim behind five inch glass all around you.


Even James was impressed.

Then on to said terrifying, Ferris wheel and the marine animal carousel. I offered to take a photo of another stay at home mom not at home so she would take one of me.
I am a giver.

We were all sweating (obviously) so we headed inside to the actual aquarium. The only thing we didn’t do was the sting ray feeding/petting area. I had zero desire to hold a sweaty baby while a four year old clutched my leg saying he didn’t want to touch them.

I didn’t want to touch them. I am still traumatized by Steve Erwin.

The aquarium exhibit is just one long pathway with fish on all sides. All the tanks are low to the ground so both boys could walk and press their faces up against the exhibits. Including this enormous lime green eel and neon pink fish James was fascinated with.

Oh James, why so serious? You are sitting on a treasure chest filled with glued down junk?? See how happy Zach is?

Is it because I made you sit on a treasure chest filled with glued down junk? Fair point.

At the very end of the exhibit, for some strange reason, is a white tiger. Allegedly there are more but we only saw one.
One very large tiger in a fake temple with only small windows but a lovely water feature. I tried not to be sad for the tiger and told myself surely he gets to go outside sometime. Right?

And James loooooovvvveed the tiger. He elbowed his way through a group of elementary kids to get to the front. One tried to move him but he yelled, “HEY!” and they backed off. Don’t mess with that baby.

All in all it was a good day. No one died (though I tried my hardest) and we did something fun together. Stay at home mom win!!

I have such low expectations. 

Two years old and not impressed

You guys, my baby is two years old.

And no, you may not have one of his three “pops” he is clutching.

James turned two on Sunday and we had his party that afternoon out at Noah’s Ark Pool which is a super shallow wading pool complete with an ark in the center, slides, squirting water and a raining mushroom.

He loved it.

He actually did love it and spent the entire time either going down the slide with his grandpa,

Or belly flopping into the shallow water.

This is the move he does in any water at all. Imagine him doing this in two feet of water in the Y baby pool. Then imagine me leaping over people to grab my floating and trying to drown baby. Yeah, not pretty or fun. But at this pool, since it is only six inches deep, there was no issue.

Apparently there was a 60% chance of rain on Sunday. I had no clue. It sprinkled a bit around 11 and Lauren (who was in town) asked if it was supposed to rain, I looked at her like why would I know, so she checked on her phone. She turns to me and says, “Well there is a chance of rain.”, omitting that the chance was 50%. I would have lost my sh**. She is a smart one, my baby sister.

I think my optimist has rubbed off on me as I didn’t even bat an eye about “a chance”. It was not going to rain on my James’s party. She asked about my back up plans.


We would just huddle under the pavilion and wait for it to pass. No one was coming back to my hot mess of a house, rainbow cupcakes or not.

Luckily there was no rain and a lot of his friends from school came as well as our friends with kids. I did a terrible job of taking photos of everyone and of the decoration. So let’s just close our eyes and picture it together, shall we?

Imagine six round tables with solid table covers, one for each color of the rainbow.
On top of those tables were balloons, also in rainbow colors. I had snack bowls in, again, rainbow colors and a super cute sign that looked like his invitation.
Do I have a photo of any of that? Of course not.

I do have a photo of James’s girl Stella drinking out of the water spout.

Many, many photos of children going down the water slides.

Photos of two of the four babies that were in attendance and ready to swim.

And copious photos of my rainbow cupcakes and James being unimpressed by them all. 

My crafting is seriously under appreciated. 
However my friends at the party gave me props for the cupcakes. Don’t worry those cupcakes will get their own post – that is how proud I am of them. (I know you are all just anxiously awaiting that post.) 
James was the last one out of the pool, Alex had to pull him out kicking and screaming. If you can’t have a giant fit on your birthday, when can you? Oh that is right every. single. day.
Welcome to the terrible two’s James! I know you have been gearing up for them!

Eight Years Today

Alex is the optimist in our family. I don’t like to call myself a pessimist, but I also don’t like to call myself bossy and pear shaped either.*

The other day in the car, I made some snarky comment about how doing yard work reminded me of when we were newly married. Back well before we had these children and our life became so glorious.

Alex looked and me and with all sincerity said, “I know, our life is so good.” As I looked back at my children one of whom was screaming for the tambourine the other was manically waving just out of his reach I had to laugh.

The fact that to Alex the glass is always half full is what I love and what drives me the most crazy about that man. He always sees the good in everyone and in every situation. He has never lost a friend and I joke that if one of his friends happens to become a murderer, he would still say, “But Kinsey, he is a really good guy.” And begin to list all his good points.

My point to all this? Today is our eighth wedding anniversary. Eight years of being married to an optimist is not all sunshine and roses people. Says the pessimist.

This morning, I said I couldn’t believe it has been eight years! He said he never had any doubt.

Of course he also says he is “head of household”, so he is known to lie.

*I prefer realist, leadership abilities and curvy.