Saturday, February 27, 2010

Free Paper Doll Template

One of the projects I have been working on involves dolls and dolls clothes. After I finished free handing these clothes, I looked back at them and thought they would be perfect to print out and let your kids color them and play. So here they are. I did free hand them so they are my no means perfect but I figured kids just love to color.



I recommend printing them on card stock so they last a little longer. If you do print them out and let your kids color, I would love to see their masterpieces! As soon as I am done with the project that these patterns are for, I will post a tutorial for your enjoyment but until then, have fun with your paper dolls.

Update: I did a cleaner version of these dolls on the computer. You can find them below. New clothes are on their way! Look for Halloween Costumes and new clothes designs coming soon!

Update Oct 2011- I did a set of Halloween costumes for the dolls. You can download them here. 


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Photo Thursdays- Shooting better pictures with a point and shoot

This is my point and shoot camera. I love it. I love it because it was affordable, it is portable and I have taken some great pictures with it. My point and shoot is not top of the line. It was one of the cheapest models out there. We bought it because it did video and we wanted video of our little girl, not for its picture-taking capabilities. I now find myself sometimes bringing my point and shoot because I want pictures and I don't have room to bring the SLR.

On the next few Photo Thursdays, I am going to give you tips on how to get more from your point and shoot. I am going to start you off with my five basic tips today.

1. Limit your subjects. Do you really keep those pictures of a million different kids at the party? Chances are those ones aren't your favorite. Most people have the tendency to love cute closeups of their kids, so why not take more of those? When I used to take pictures for the newspaper, the rule was that if a picture had six people or more in it, you didn't need to name them. If six is so many at a newspaper that they aren't even important enough to name, don't you think it is too many for the typical photo?

2. Fill your frame. What do you want in your picture? A cute picture of your kid in the swimming pool? Then fill the frame with that. Cut out the unnecessary extra parts of the pool. You want to see your subject. Experiment with your optical zoom. Zoom in a little more than you usually do and see if you like the how much more your subject fills the frame. Make sure to be careful with digital zooms as they can often lower the actual amount of megapixels your camera will provide in the shot, thereby reducing the overall picture quality. Not all cameras have that problem, but be careful nonetheless.
3. Explore extra settings. Your camera is designed to do more than just point and shoot, but that is usually what everyone does with them. Explore your extra settings. Most cameras have scene settings, play with them when you have a little extra time and see what they can do. DO NOT wait until you are in the moment to try and start figuring out your settings. That moment of your baby blowing out their 1st birthday candles is probably not the time to try something you are not sure is going to work.
4. Don't always shoot horizontal. Sometimes the best way to fill your frame is to flip your camera vertical. Also, think of your frames: are they all hung vertically on your wall? Then you might want to take some vertical pictures. People have the tendency to just shoot horizontal because that is what's easiest.

5. Don't use your flash unless you need it. One of the easiest way to ruin a picture is too much flash. Sometimes you can't avoid it. Use it when you need it, but you will find that turning off the flash when it isn't necessary will help your photos lose some of the haze that seems to linger around.


I would love to know what you guys want to learn more about. If you ever have a photo question, leave a comment and I will answer it for you.

(The pictures with this post aren't completely random, I took them with my point and shoot this past week.)

How to make a sewing notions case

I hated always trying to locate my scissors or my measuring tape in my sewing box. So one day, I became determined to fix the problem, my sewing mentor at the time helped me come up with this.
I took a piece of quilted fabric, about a 1/4 of a yard and I serged the edges all around. If you can't get access to a serger, you can fold the edges under and sew it all around.

Then I laid all of my notions out and decided how much room I would need for each piece. I then folded up bottom about 2.5-3 inches and I sewed it up the sides, with a piece of elastic that was long enough to reach across the entire thing. Then following my own measurements for my particular instruments, I sewed up my bottom all the way to the elastic, to make my pockets.
I then sewed a ribbon to the outside edge, so when I fold the top down and roll it up, I can tie it shut.
I love mine! It carries my three pairs of scissors (fabric, paper and pinking) my seam gauge, my measuring tape, my seam ripper and screwdrivers for my machine.

With access to a serger, it is the easiest in the world to make. Without access, I am sure the difficulty only goes up a little bit.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays- How to make homemade bagels

I told you. I am in the mood to make bread today. Down in South Texas, we don't have a single good bagel shops. Sometimes if you want something you have to make it yourself. Here's how:

1 cup very warm water

1/2 tablespoon yeast

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon molasses

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups bread flour
+ some extra
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

cornmeal


Combine water and yeast in a mixer and mix until the yeast dissolves. If your water is too hot it will kill the yeast, trust me I have killed many a package of yeast.

Add the next three ingredients and stir until well mixed. The add the salt and then the two cups of flour.

Keep stirring the dough, adding more flour until the dough becomes dry to the touch. ( I have added anywhere from 1 to 3 cups doing this.)

Cover and let rise for about 35 minutes. You are looking for your dough to double in size.

Pinch off some of the dough and form into bagels. (You know, with holes in the center.) Make sure you keep your bagels equal size. Cover and allow to rise again, this time for about 25 minutes. It should almost double again.

Bring water to boil on your stove. Add the sugar to the water. Boil the bagels for about 25 seconds on each side. Let the water drip off and then add it to a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal. Repeat.

Bake bagels at 400 for about 30 minutes. (I tend to bake them a little bit less but I have a really hot oven.)

Tasty Tuesdays- Banana Bread


I feel like making bread today. Lots of bread. Here is the easiest recipe of all the bread recipes going through my head today.

Leftover Banana Bread
3 mashed bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Cream together the bananas, sugar and shortening. (I find the longer I let these ingredients cream, the better the bread.)

Add the remaining ingredients and place in a greased and floured bread pan. (This recipe makes two loafs.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (poke with a toothpick or something small to make sure it is done, if not let it stay in for another 5 minutes. Continue until the toothpick comes out clean.)Want to know a trick? The darker the bananas the better the bread, as long as you don't get into moldy regions of darkness. This recipe is really moist and delicious!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lemon Fish and Pasta




Is there anything that goes together better than fish with a little bit of lemon. This meal came about on a day where I wanted to make something with just what we had in the fridge and it came out delicious! These amount was just perfect for the two of us, so if you have more people you might want to add more.


Vegetables:


  • 7 or 8 mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 zucchini squash sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter



Put the olive oil and butter in a really hot pan. Wait until the butter is frothy and then add your veggies. Cook them until the squash starts to brown slightly. Set aside, in the same pan, prepare the fish


Fish:


  • a fish fillet per person (We used Tilapia), seasoned with garlic, lemon pepper, dill, thyme and rosemary. (we season it before we put it in the pan. If you don't have all of these, use what you have.)
  • enough lemon juice to cover the bottom of your pan
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Saute the fish in the oil oil for a minute on each side. Pour in the lemon juice and put the lid on the pan. Let the fish steam with the lemon until cooked through. (the fish will be white, at least with Tilapia.)

Cook a package of noodles to package specifications.

Layer noodles, then shredded Parmesan cheese, then the veggies, finish off with the fish.

If you want to make this a little bit lower fat, drain off the excess from the fish and vegetables instead of pouring over your noodles.


This meal was really good! We came up with it on the spot to support what we had in our fridge and I am so glad we did! post signature

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to make cute chip clips/ magnets

I live in a very humid climate and so we are very careful to close all of our food packages tightly. The cute fancy chip clips are expensive but the clothespin are not very attractive. I decided to make my own cute clips.

I took pieces of scrapbook paper and regular clothespins. I modge podged the paper onto BOTH sides of the clothespin by having a layers of glue underneath the paper and a layer of glue on top. I apply my glue with a foam brush.

I found it was easier to measure my clothespin and cut the paper to fit then to cut the excess off the pin afterward.
After finishing my chip clips, my wheels kept turning and I decided to hot glue magnets to the back of some of them.
They work great for so many things. You can put them on the back of your front door to work to hold your outgoing or incoming mail.
Or they work great to hold up little people's artwork on your fridge.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Review- Complications: a Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, is one of the most fascinating and nauseating books that I have ever read.

Atul Gawande goes through the problem and insecurities that plague the medical speciality of surgery, using examples of his own surgeries. He talks about medical mistakes, whether or not patients should be able to decide their own medical care, when good doctors go bad and following your gut instinct even when the tests don't match up.

Although about the medical world, it doesn't read like a text book, rather it reads more like a story book. Every philosophical or medical question is coincided with the story of a patient, you find yourself worrying about and crossing your fingers to find out about these patients.

Many of the stories are unbelievable, like the story about the 23-year-old with flesh eating bacteria and the clinic that has perfected hernia surgeries to a complete science. It was amazing to read of the advances in medicine and scary to read about the things that are still holding the profession up.

This book is going to have one of two effects on you. You will either be terrified of letting any medical student near you, or you will have a great respect for the profession. You will finally see that not all surgeons believe they are God and that they are people too. This book terrified me but had the opposite effect on my husband. It was a really wonderful read and I feel like I know way more about the field of surgery than I did before.

This book is not for the queasy. It is not horribly graphic but if you faint at the sight of blood, it is probably not for you. My husband and I both really enjoyed it. I think everyone could benefit from this book, it really opens your eyes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays- Chicken and Rice

My mom made this for me when I was a little girl and now I make it for my family. It only takes a half an hour of cooking time and it is super easy to prepare.

1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans of water
2 cans rice
1 Tablespoon dried onion

Mix all together in a casserole pan that will fit in your microwave.
Lay 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts on top of mixture.

Put 1/2 stick of butter melted
sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt
and 1/4 teaspoon paprika
on top of mixture

Microwave for 30 minutes every 15 minutes turn dish unless your
microwave is a turning one. Then cut up chicken and put back into casserole and stir around.

This is delicious and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How To Make Paper Roses

Scroll to the bottom for video of the roses!



I woke up to these this morning. My husband decided that paper roses were the way to go this year. I love them! He learned how to make them from a student last week and decided to make them for me. I begged and begged for him to let me do a tutorial and he finally relented (probably just because it is Valentine's Day.)



OK, to start off, you want the non-pretty side facing up. Fold a triangle into the paper. A strip of paper will be left at the top.


Cut the strip off. (This makes the paper square)


Take one end of the triangle over to the opposite end, you are just making a smaller triangle.


Then you unfold it back to a square. Then you flip it over so the pretty side is now out, then you pinch it in the center of the paper, making kind of a mountain until you can make it back into a triangle.





Then take bottom right corner and fold it to the top of the triangle, and then do the same with the other side. You will have a diamond on one side and still a full triangle on the other.





Then flip it over and do the same thing to the other side until you end up with a complete diamond.


Take the right flap and fold it across the center until it meets up with the left. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side. Rotate 180 degrees.


Fold the right side until it meets the center. Do the same with the left. Flip it over and repeat.






Take the two folded corners and tuck them into each other on both sides.


While holding sides like shown below...

gently blow into the hole at the bottom.




Now peel down the four petals.

Voila! A finished rose. Take the remnant that was left from making the rose square and fold it in half long ways. Cut it down the center. Roll over a pipe cleaner and put up the hole at the bottom.





Friday, February 12, 2010

Cute Valentine Card

Need a cute card quick? This is perfect.

You will need.
A 12x12 piece of plain card stock
a color piece of paper
green paper
a cupcake paper
a picture of your child or you that the face is small enough in to fit in the center.

Cut the 12x12 paper down the center long ways. Then fold in half to be a card. Cut the colorful paper to be just slightly smaller than the front of your card and glue it to the front. Cute a stem out of the green paper. Glue to the card. Cut the face out of the picture and glue to the bottom of the cupcake paper. Fold out. (Glue to the bottom of the cupcake paper and then fold out. Don't glue to the inside of the paper.)

Glue on your flower. Add any other embellishments you want and you have a super cute card that no one can resist.

Book Review- Flight of the Doves

My grandma recommended this book to me years ago but it was out of print so I couldn't get my hands on it. Some years pass and enter Amazon. She is still shocked it was so easy for me to buy it and that I got it for a reasonable price, ( as in 20 or so cents).

Flight of the Doves by Walter Macken, is about the two flight of the two Dove children. They are being treated very poorly by their stepfather after their mother dies and they decide they are going to cross the water from England to Ireland and find their grandmother. Their stepfather is more than happy to not care that they are gone until he finds out they are heirs to a large some of money. Then the chase begins. The make it to Ireland very early in the book and then spend the rest of it roaming the Irish countryside trying to get home to their grandma.

All in all, I really liked this book. I started reading it about 11:30 last night, planning of just reading a few chapters, when I looked up it was 1:00 in the morning and I had finished it. It was a sweet story about siblings who adore each other and take the pains to take care of each other. It is not the best written book I have ever read but it is sweet and it is a very easy read. So, if you find yourself in the need of an easy but fun read, pick up Flight of the Doves.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Photo Thursdays- Facial Recognition Software

Looking for my giveaway? Go here, it ends Sunday night!

(Photo Thursdays is designed to help average people learn how to make their photos better. All the tutorials are done using Picasa which is a free program from Google. Go here to download it and join in the fun. If you want to read the rest of my tutorials and get caught up, go here.)


Did you know that the newest version of Picasa has facial recognition software? This means that you can label everyone in your pictures and if you ever need a picture of someone in particular you can just click on their folder. Here is how you set yours up. There should be a tab named 'unnamed people' it is towards the top before your folders.Click on that. It will give you a group of picture with type boxes underneath life the picture below. (Just FYI, if you just barely downloaded Picasa you might not be able to do this yet. It takes quite awhile of Picasa being open on your computer for it to scan all your pictures for faces.)

Then when you find a picture of someone you want to name. Start typing their name in the box below the picture. If you have already added that person, you will find their name on the drop down menu. Select their name and it automatically add it to their folder.
If you haven't already created that person, type the name in the text box below the picture. Finish typing it and press enter. A box like this will pop. Select new person and then OK on the next screen and it will create a new person with the name you typed it. It then scans your pictures and put every picture it thinks has that person in it into their folder.

It creates a folder for you. Click on the little icon at the top right of their folder that has a question mark in it and it will show you all of the suggestions for that person. You can confirm or deny each suggestion.
When you show only the suggestions it will look like the picture below. See how each picture has a check or a x below it? Go through the pictures and check the ones that are of the person the folder is named for and x those the aren't of them. The more you do this, the more accurate the software gets because it has more to go one.
Like if you look at the one below, it has both adult and child pictures of the same person because I have labeled pictures of that person as both an adult and a child.
Some major pluses - If I want to find a picture of my husband, I just click on his folder and voila!
Some minuses- It has a hard time with baby faces and I didn't realize how much my sister and I looked alike until it kept mixing us up.
Self-esteem boost- It thinks pictures of me as a baby and my little girl are the same person. Sure make me feel good to know this program thinks she looks like her mama.