Something new in the works…

If you’re wondering where I’ve wandered off to, I’ve started a new blog all about family travel. Check it out!


Handmade Holidays on Sew Mama Sew

I’ve got a handmade for musicians giving guide featured on SewMamaSew. Check it out!

Class Sewing Project 1

Something new for me, I’m teaching a machine sewing class at my girls’ school. I have 10 students ranging between 8-12. Three boys and 7 girls. I have never taught anyone but friends and family, so this is a challenge. Just what I needed!

Last week was our first class. We spent a lot of the class (the class is 1 hour long) talking about sewing machine safety and learning about the machines. We are using 4 Brother sewing machines (which I quickly had to learn how to use!) and one Singer Inspiration that my lovely friend Cory left with me when she moved. My machine is in the shop, since after last week it decided to only sew backwards. Crazy!

All the kids got the chance to wind a bobbin and thread the machine. I than let them practice on some sewing worksheets that I got here. And the last few minutes of class were spent trying some of the cool embroidery stitches that come with the Brother machines. Very fun!

Today we are going to try our first project. A bookmark!



Wait a minute, no. A bracelet!


Hmm… not exactly. A pin cushion!


Nope that’s not quite right either. Oh! I remember! It’s ALL THREE!


I got this from Jenny Ryan’s Sew Darn Cute book. I’ve actually made one of these before for my friend, Yancey. I thought this would be a great project because it’s pretty easy and so, so very useful. And you can really get creative with it.


With this project we’ll learn…

measuring and cutting

how to use interfacing

how to sew on trims and velcro

the importance of ironing in a sewing project

practice sewing straight lines


…and hopefully we’ll have a lot of fun! I’m really excited to see what the kid’s come up with. For those of you thinking, “How are those kids going to make all that in one hour?”, I’m planning on splitting the bracelet/bookmark project into one class and the pin cushion into the next.

What new challenges are you pushing yourself to do? Wish me luck!

Family Dinner: Asian Meatball Casserole

Last night was Family Dinner night and it was Pannonica’s turn to choose what to make and cook. She chose asian flavored meatballs and I had the idea to make an easy casserole out of it. We used fried rice, some stir fry veggies, and the meatballs she made. It came out great! The whole family enjoyed it and there was just enough left over for both girls to take for lunch today. That’s a win win in my book!

It tasted so good, I almost forgot to get a picture! Thank goodness I remembered while packing the leftovers into the girls’ lunch boxes. This recipe was super fun and easy. When cooking by myself I probably would have stir fried my own veggies and made my own fried rice. I was taking into consideration my 8 year old’s enthusiasm and energy level after a long day of school. This whole meal probably took us 45 minutes from start to finish. When choosing a recipe to make with kids, you definitely need to keep in mind that they move much slower and so a 20 prep time will be longer. Keep it easy, let them do most of the work, and have a great time!


I’d love to hear what you and your kiddos enjoy making together. We can always use some new ideas!

Asian Meatball Casserole

Ingredients for the Meatballs

1/4 cup Panko crumbs

1 lb ground turkey white meat

1/4 lb ground turkey dark meat

1/2 tbsp ginger paste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Casserole Ingredients

3 cups fried rice (I picked this up at my local Safeway deli counter, but feel free to make your own!)

1 bag of frozen stir fry veggies

Teriyaki sauce

How to Make the Asian Meatball Casserole

Makes 16

Preheat oven to 500F

Spray a non-stick cooking spray onto a cookie sheet and baking rack. Place baking rack onto cookie sheet.

Put all the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix it all together with clean hands. Roll mixture into small meatballs. Put into oven and cook for 15-18 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350F

Next, cook the stir fry veggies according to the bag. Either stove top or microwave works fine. (If you want to use fresh veggies even better! Try red bell pepper, green beans, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms).

Once the veggies are done, pour them into a 8×9 baking pan. Add the fried rice and the meatballs. Drizzle 3 or 4 tbsp of the Teriyaki sauce on top and put in oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!



Must Make Monday: Breakfast

I have been known to spend an hour or two hunting up cooking inspiration on Pinterest. Finding something healthy, tasty, and pleasing to 4 people’s special diet needs and taste buds isn’t always an easy task! If you’re in the same boat, or even just on the same river (ha!), perhaps I can save you some time with these yummy morning recipes. A few I’ve tried and some I’m just excited to try! Let me know if you’ve got any great breakfast recipes. It’s the most important meal of the day people!

gimme some oven’s 3-ingredient coconut oil biscuits – these look fantastic! I’ve got a kiddo who could eat biscuit with jam all day long, so this is one I’m definitely going to try.

Minimalist Baker’s pumpkin french toast bake and 7-ingredient muesli bread – I’ve never had muesli bread, but it looks delicious. And the french toast bake looks so easy!

Rachel Schultz’s baklava no-bake energy balls – these are not the prettiest little guys, but they sound easy to make and yummy to boot!

The Yummy Life’s blueberry maple refrigerator oatmeal – this one looks right up my alley. The fact that it is a make ahead is wonderful for those busy school mornings and the chia seeds will keep us all full until lunch.

The Clothes Make the Girl’s scotch eggs – this looks like something my girls would love to eat for breakfast, snack, and anytime in between. Can’t wait to try these out.

Make and Takes’ chocolate zucchini bread – while we don’t have any zucchini in our garden this year, I’m hoping to trade some tomatoes for one just so I can try out this recipe. Choc-o-late!

The Uprising’s vegan raspberry oat bars – I’ve made these before and they are so good! Like cereal bars, only much cheaper. Now that Pannonica has a retainer and granola is too crunchy, these may be just the thing for her school snacks.

Project Day: Mini Maker Faire

Yay! One of our favorite events, the Portland Mini Maker Faire, was yesterday. We went with some friends of ours (I’m talking about you Tanya and Brian!) and saw so much cool stuff!

Walking around with Pannonica, she enjoyed making a vinyl superhero mask, checking out some of Portland Center Stage’s handmade props, and getting the chance to use a 3-D pen.

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We also liked watching a demonstration of local robotics team, the Flaming Chickens. They’d made a robot catapult. Super cool! Check out my friend Heather Q’s documentary about them.



After that we hooked back up with the rest of the family and our friends and got to see some other cool exhibits like PCC’s push-button drums, Intel and ADX’s scrap sculptures, and we also made a couple of cool robot friends. All in all a pretty great event!

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And here’s just a sneak peak at what we were inspired to go home and work on. Thanks Brian for all the help!


Family Dinner: Quinby’s Tomato Soup and Bacon Pesto Sandwiches



Wednesday night is Family Dinner night at our house which means one of the girls, depending on the week, gets to choose what we are having and does the majority of the work cooking and getting the dish on the table. This week it was Little Miss Q’s turn and she chose tomato soup and bacon pesto sandwiches, her favorite meal.

I thought this was a great dinner choice since we have a tomato or two in our garden. Ha!!


And my friend/neighbor Anne had given me a nice bundle of basil from her garden the day before.


Delicious! The basil smelled so good in my house! I just love using fresh ingredients! Speaking of which, we also had some of this fresh baked from New Seasons that morning.


Add in some bacon and some gouda and here’s what you get.


I got so excited to eat it I almost forgot to snap a picture. Note the half-eaten nature of the sandwich and tell-tale ring of soup around the bowl.

Now, if you’ve got an abundance of tomatoes in your garden or a basil plant that is just begging to be eaten here’s what you do…

Quinby’s Tomato Soup and Bacon Pesto Sandwich

Serves 6

Soup Ingredients

A couple of pounds of tomatoes (we used 12 med/big ones and a handful of cherry tomatoes)

a handful of basil leaves

about 1 cup of organic low-sodium chicken stock

about 3 tbsp cream (we used soy creamer)

3 cloves garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper


Pesto Ingredients

a few handfuls of basil leaves

olive oil

a handful of pine nuts

a 2 inch chunk of parmesan cheese

Sandwich Ingredients

1 maybe 2 loaves of sour dough bread







Pick a bunch of tomatoes (we used about 12 mid/big ones and a few cherries)

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, removing the seeds, and put on baking pan allowing for some elbow room. Chop up three cloves of garlic and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over the whole thing and put in a cold oven.

Put your bacon on a rack inside a pan in same cold oven. Turn oven on to 375F and cook both tomatoes and bacon for about 35-45 minutes. Check every 5 minutes after 20. Your tomato skins should be popping off and the tomatoes should be slightly caramelized.

Meanwhile dry toast your pine nuts in a frying pan over medium heat until they start to get brown (maybe 10 minutes). Grate your parmesan cheese. Put a few handfuls of basil into your blender or food processor. Add the grated parmesan, the toasted pine nuts, and a couple tbsp of olive oil. Blend. Add more oil or a little water if you are having trouble getting it chopped up. Scrap the pesto into a bowl and set aside. You’ll probably need to clean out your blender if you’re going to use it for the soup too.

Next remove your tomatoes and bacon. Pull the skins off the tomatoes and either toss aside or eat. Let tomatoes cool about 5 minutes and then put in blender. Add a handful of basil and the chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Add cream, salt and pepper and blend for another few seconds. The soup should still be warm from the roasted tomatoes, but if you want it hotter just pour into a pot and put it on the stove on medium heat until ready.

Now slice your bread, put butter on one side of each slice and pesto on the other. Add bacon, gouda, and tomato slice. Put sandwich together with butter sides out. Cook in a covered frying pan for a few minutes. Once the cheese has started to melt flip over and finish cooking on other side.

Put your soup in a bowl. Sprinkle a dash of oregano on top. Plate your sandwich. And enjoy! Q and I would love to know how you liked our dish. What else do you like making with basil and tomatoes from the garden. We might need some more ideas!!

Cranberry Perk: A Guilt-Free Bubbly

This year has been a tough one for my family. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones, so hugs all around. HUG! Unfortunately, when I get stressed, my health is usually the first ball I drop. I stop exercising and junk food starts creeping back into my diet. As the school year begins, and we edge into autumn (my absolute favorite time of year!), I’ve decided to restart my journey toward a healthier ME.

My ongoing mantra for the past week or so has been, “Stay positive. Stay focused. Make healthy decisions for my body.” It really does help to have something for my mind to go to when things get fuzzy or overwhelming.

With all the other junk foods I’m systematically removing from my diet, soda is one of the hardest. There comes a certain time of day, usually around two or three pm as my morning caffeine starts to wear off, when I just need the pick me up of bubbles. So here’s my new go-to bubbly drink.


I’m calling it a Cranberry Perk. It’s quite simple, tasty, and healthy! I use my soda stream (thank you Cory!) and some Santa Cruz Organic Cranberry Nectar and that’s it! Simply make your bubbly water, then fill the rest of the soda stream bottle with the cranberry juice (about 4 oz, which means approx 60 calories per liter as opposed to the 500 calories a liter in regular soda pop). Add a lime if you want to get really crazy!

If you don’t have a soda stream, sparkling water will do the trick. Whichever you use, I’m betting this soda substitute will give you just the perk you need! What is your favorite soda substitute?


Project Day


Well our first family project day was Sunday and it went really well. Hubs and Q, (my 6 year old), built 3 birdhouses from old lumber we had around the house. She chose the project and drew up a plan. I’m so proud of her getting to use the power tools for cutting and making the door!




When they were done PZ, Q, and I painted them. I think they came out pretty tweet! haha. Meanwhile, PZ (my 8 year old) and I worked on a sewing project. I’m gearing up to teach a machine sewing class at the girls’ school starting on Friday, so wanted to get a feel for what kind of projects I should do. Yesterday, we started and got close to completing two velcro snack bags. I was very good and let PZ do almost all the work. I’m definitely starting to see that even simple projects are going to take awhile with beginners.



Just an aside, if you are looking for a good book to read with your kiddos try Shel Silversteins’s Runny Babbit. We started it on Saturday night, our family reading night, and each person read one of the short poems. It was hilarious! I was afraid the kids wouldn’t get it, but we were all laughing and having a great time with all the silly mixed up words.

Getting Back into the Swing of Things


Well, It’s back to school time which always gets me excited to hunker down and get some good work done. The momentum gets a bit muddled near Halloween and has usually completely petered out by January, so I’ve got to jump on it while the feeling is there!

To help me and my family stay focused, I like to make new chore and evening activities lists so our school day evenings don’t turn into a nightmare of arguing whose turn it is to set the table and pointless negotiations for TV time.  Most of the items on our chore list are things the girls always do, this makes it not so overwhelming. The two new chore items, that after a summer of seemingly endless pick-up, I really want my girls to incorporate into their daily routines are hanging wet towels back in the bathroom and putting dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher after meals.


We started our new chore list yesterday and so far so good! The girls are always excited to check things off the list and like I said, most of these chores are things they were already doing so it feels like getting something for nothing. Ha! Next Tuesday evening I’ll tally up the “checks” and whoever has the most marks gets to decide the family activity for Friday night. My girls were super stoked with that prize. I’m going to fill a jar with Friday night ideas that they can pull from if they are having trouble. 

This Friday night we’ve been saving to watch the finale of So You Think You Can Dance. We were out of town visiting my parents when it aired. PZ is beyond excited. She has declared she wants to be Mary Murphey for Halloween. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that costume!! HAHA! 


Last night out evening family activity was Family Dinner. This is where one child, last night it was PZ, gets to decide what we have for dinner and help prepare it. We ended up having a twofer last night; meatloaf AND tomato sauce from our garden. The meatloaf PZ and I prepared along with cooked carrots and steamed broccoli (all her choices). The tomato sauce happened because of the ridiculous abundance of gorgeous tomatoes we’ve grown and the need get them off my counter before we are infested with fruit flies! 


It worked out great! PZ had real pride in her work. The meatloaf tasted great! And everyone except for Q loved it. PZ asked Q not to make scrunched up faces while she took her two “no thank you” bites, because it “hurts my heart a little”. I don’t think PZ will be making any faces next time she doesn’t like a meal. She learned a valuable lesson and I actually had fun cooking dinner, a chore I’m not always fond of. Next Wednesday will be Q’s turn. We’ll see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot. 

Tonight is Music Night. This is a chance for us all to perform for the family whatever we’ve been working on musically. I’m teaching myself guitar, so this is great for me! Q is learning piano, PZ takes trumpet and ballroom dance, and Hubs plays guitar and base. My hope is that this encourages us all to practice, memorize, and perform. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have a family band one day! 

I’d love to hear about what kind of evening activities you and your family do. Drop a line and let me know how the first day of school was at your house!