Wining Allowed

Will and I had a party nearly six years ago that we considered our favorite party ever.  We had everyone bring a bottle of wine and we did a blind wine tasting.  It was low overhead and a lot of fun.  We kept saying we’d host the party again, but neither of us imagined it would be 5 years until we finally got around to it again.

The party this time around was another success!  I kept the appetizers to my most basic prepare-ahead variety so the setup was minimal and stress free as well.


We held the party on a Saturday night starting at 7:30pm (just after Julius retires for the night).  We sent evites out for the party 2 weeks in advance and included the text below.

Let’s get fancy and have some wine & apps!  We’ll do a blind tasting.  This is how it will work:

  • We’ll make a list of the wines that everyone brought
  • We’ll put each bottle of wine in a paper bag
  • We’ll number each paper bag
  • Everyone will taste each wine, and guess which wine on the list they think it matches.  Then we’ll see who got the most correct!  

If you’re going to join us, please bring a bottle of wine (one per couple). If you know what wine you’re going to bring ahead of time – let us know in the comments so we don’t end up with all the same type!   We’ll also give prizes away for the crowd favorite wines! 

Party Essentials

  • Obtain brown paper bottle bags (we collected these from our local liquor store) 1 per bottle of wine you expect
  • 1 oz pourers (1 per bottle of wine you expect – these will allow everyone to have a taste from each bottle without accidental overpours!)
  • Permanent marker
  • Tasting Sheet & pen (one per person)
  • 1 copy of the wine list
  • Wine glasses (one per person)
  • Wine charms/markers etc
  • Cocktail napkins and plates
  • An assortment of red and white wines of different varietals to have on hand in case every guest brings the same type of wine
  • Silly prizes for the winners (or just bottles of wine from the bullet above if you prefer)

    Some of our prizes included a corkcicle, a punny wine calendar and lindt chocolate


(GF = gluten free, V = vegetarian)

  • Assortment of cheeses 1-2 oz per person (GF, V)
  • Charcuterie assortment 1-2 oz per person
  • Assortment of crackers and thin sliced baguettes (don’t forget to include a seperate plate for gluten free if you have friends with gluten allergies) (GF, V)
  • Chili corn custard squares (V) with Frontera chipotle salsa
  • Red pepper jelly over Cream cheese – (this is exactly what it sounds like, spread cream cheese on a platter, top with red pepper jelly) (GF, V)
  • Olives (GF, V)
  • Caprese Salad (tomato slices topped with mozzarella slices, then sprinkled with basil chiffonade and drizzled with olive oil) (GF, V)
  • Crudites and hummus  (GF, V)
  • Flourless chocolate cake (GF, V) (I used this recipe in its entirety, but wish I had used my go-to ganache from Julia Child instead)

    The appetizer table included crackers, cheese, charcuterie, crudites chili corn custard squares, caprese salad and was sponsored by the letter c.

Set up

The morning of make the flourless chocolate cake

2 hours before the party: make the chili corn custard squares then let cool at room temperature.  While cooling, make ganache for flourless chocolate cake and frost cake.

1 hour before the party: set out wine glasses and wine markers in one area with pens and tasting sheets, cocktail napkins and plates in another (next to appetizer station).  Place wine pourers, paper bags and a marker in the area reserved for wine, along with the wine list print out. Slice tomatoes for the caprese salad.  Chop & plate crudites and refrigerate

15 minutes before guests arrive: Assemble caprese salad and chili corn custard squares.

As guests arrive: Put out appetizers.  Instruct guests to register their bottle of wine on the “wine list” then remove the cork, insert a 1 oz pour and place in a paper bag.

Blind labeled bottles

When all guests have arrived, shuffle the wine bottles around and label them with numbers from 1 to x (where x is the number of bottles of wine) using the marker.  Inform guests they are to write down their wine guess (using the “wine list” guests filled out upon entry) for each numbered wine bottle next to each corresponding number on the Wine Tasting sheet.  Guests can also include their own notes and their own rating for how much they liked the wine.

Ka posing with the wine glasses

At the end of the night, after everyone has added their guess for each wine bottle, remove the bottle from each bag to reveal the wine.  Guests will tally up the number of guesses they got right and prizes are awarded for the best guessers.  Finally, via a show of hands, have guests indicate which wine was their favorite.   Prizes are also awarded for favorite wines.

Our assortment of wines




Posted in Culinary Delights, Parties | Leave a comment

This Eggplant Parm is Awesome, no Jokes

Julius is a little prankster.  We have suspected for a while that he is a prankster, but now that he can move to directly disobey our wishes, we know for sure.  His favorite prank?  Tricking you into thinking he is playing nicely while he beelines for the dog’s water bowl.  Last weekend he was chasing around one of his plastic balls and he kept batting it in the direction of Dany’s water bowl.  When he got too close I told him, “Julius!  That is Dany’s bowl, don’t touch that!”  To which he immediately stopped, looked right at me, smiled a huge grin and then crawled really fast to her water bowl giggling the whole time.  I didn’t get there in time so he had time to dip his hands in and splash for a second.

Later that day I was recounting the tale while Will was holding Julius.  Julius laughed at all the right parts!  I think (but am not positive) that he totally followed the conversation about how he pulled a prank on me.  He seemed very smug.   What a prankster!

If you want something to be smug about, make this eggplant parm casserole!  Will and I have been eating vegetarian twice a week this year, and one of our favorite things to eat is eggplant parm.  Unfortunately it’s fairly time consuming.  I’ve cut some corners by using one bowl for the egg dipping and crumb dipping and saved hands on time by oven baking the eggplant instead of frying.  It is similar to a baked ziti, so you can save time layering in a dish and instead mix it all together and dump into a casserole pan.  Unfortunately posting this recipe tonight is sort of pouring salt in my wounds.  I meant to buy eggplant from the farmer who comes to my work, and I accidentally forgot!  I bought everything else, and now I’m craving eggplant parm…

Lazy Man’s Eggplant Parm


  • 4 small or 2 medium eggplants
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 c cottage cheese (or ricotta if you prefer)
  • 1 24 oz jar sauce
  • 1/2 c parmesan
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.  Slice eggplant into 1/2″ thick wheels if small, or 1.5″x1.5″ chunks if larger.

Scramble eggs in a medium sized bowl.  Pour sliced eggplant into the eggs.  Toss until completely coated.  Pour the excess egg out of the bowl.

Either add the breadcrumbs to the bowl and stir until eggplant is coated, or add breadcrumbs to a large ziplock bag, dump the egg coated eggplant into the bag, seal and shake. Add more crumbs as necessary to coat completely.

Dump eggplant onto a nonstick baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until eggplant is browned slightly and soft, flipping eggplant halfway through baking.

Turn oven down to 350 deg F.  Transfer eggplant to a large bowl.  Add sauce and cheese (reserving 1/4 c of mozzarella) and toss to combine.    

Dump into a 8″x8″ baking dish and top with reserved mozzarella.  Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melting.

Serves 4. 

Posted in Culinary Delights | Leave a comment

Upstanding Citizen

Guys, I received the best compliment ever the other day (seriously thank you, you made my day).  My co-worker stumbled upon my blog and informed her brother that she had found the real Leslie Knope.  I told her that comparing me to Leslie Knope was the highest praise I could ever hope to receive because, if you hadn’t noticed, she is one of my idols.  The comment was followed up with a question about how I find the time to do blogging, motherhood and work, to which I responded (semi-seriously), “I don’t sleep”.

Well I used to sleep, some point before I had Julius, but lately I have re-discovered caffeine!  I don’t know if you guys have ever tried this stuff but it is pretty darn amazing.  Honestly I didn’t drink much caffeine at all before I was pregnant (except for the occasional cup of tea or rare mountain dew code red while in college), and I had sworn the stuff off since finding out I was pregnant.  Several weeks ago I hopped off the wagon.  I’m still nursing but I’ve convinced myself that if I have a cup right after I pump it doesn’t affect my milk.  The jury’s still out.  Good news is that blogging, motherhood and work doesn’t leave much time for me to google paranoid parenting blogs, so I may never know!

I may have to start sleeping a bit more though since I don’t think caffeine can solve all my problems.  Today I got up, got Julius dressed and fed, then got ready myself and threw on some clean pants and a shirt.  I was pretty proud that I did all this with enough time to get Julius off to daycare on time, and myself to work “early”.  When I got to work I realized the pants I was wearing didn’t look very familiar.  They were certainly my pants and were certainly very comfy.  I decided not to care.  Several hours later, in better lighting, I realized that they were one of the pairs of pants I’d retired into painting duty.  I thought to myself, “I can totally own these pants with their giant blotches of white paint”. Maybe someone would think they were meant to be paint stained.  Paint stained is still a style right?  Another hour passed and I ran into the bathroom to double check the crotch of my pants.  I’d realized that my retired painting pants usually have large unsightly holes in the crotch.   Crisis averted, no holes. I went through the rest of the day working those paint stained pants like it was my job.  When I finally got home I told Will the story of the pants and how I was able to pretend they were purposely paint stained.  That was when Will pointed out the giant 6 inch hole in the seat of my pants, through which you could see my underwear.  I’m not going back to work ever again.

Since I’m too mortified to show my face in public again, Julius is going to have to take himself to daycare tomorrow.  While he may not be able to drive himself to daycare this week, one thing’s for certain – Julius is growing up fast.  In just the past week he has gotten really good at standing.    Last Saturday he could balance for ten seconds or more at a time and he’s improving that number daily!  He’s really proud of himself too (and so am I of course).  The first time he showed me his standing abilities he had on the biggest grin.  Now he stands while going about his tasks like it ain’t no thang.  In no time he’ll be making his own lunches and ironing his own shirts.

Julius is standing! (Without a hole in his jeans.)

Speaking of ironing your own shirts, I finally got around to making something that has been on my list for years!  A seam roll (or sleeve roll) is a cylindrical, firm, pillow type device that you use to iron out wrinkles in difficult to iron places like sleeves.  The roll allows the iron to press tight areas that would normally cause a crease when pressing.  The sleeve rolls needs to be filled with a material that can withstand high heat.  My friend Amy gave me a whole pail full of sawdust from her woodworking projects, making this project both free and upcycle!

Seam rolling

DIY Seam Roll

What You’ll Need:

  • about 1 cubic foot of sawdust (not compressed)
  • 10″x15″ piece of strong natural fiber fabric (cotton, linen, etc)
  • funnel for stuffing the roll
  • Pattern here
  1. Fold fabric in half (right side inside) to form a 5″x15″ rectangle.  Stitch along the long end of the fabric leaving .5″ seam allowance.
  2. With the template lined up along the fold, mark the corners for stitching.
  3. Stitch along the lines on one side of the seam roll, closing one end of the roll.
  4. Stitch along the two corners on the opposite side, leaving a gap where the dotted line is.
  5. Trim the corners and edges of the closed end of the roll, clip the corners on the open side.
  6. Turn right side out.
  7. Using a funnel, fill with saw dust.  Periodically stop and pack down the sawdust by pushing in and down on the edges of the roll.  You want the roll to be as hard packed as you can get it!
  8. Continue filling until you are about 3/4″ from the edge.  Turn the edge under along the 3/4″ mark so the unfinished edge of the roll is inside the seam roll.
  9. Slipstitch/ladder stitch the fabric together along the fold to make your stitching invisible.  (Or you can do the weird suture stitch I decided to do because I thought it looked neat.

Finished roll!


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Better than a mouthful of sticks

So I may have mentioned that for Will & my anniversary we were running late for dinner so I threw together something from what we had on hand.  At the moment that was eggs and mozzarella cheese plus tomatoes and basil from my garden.  I think my inspiration came partially from this series of books I have been loving called the “Magical Baking Mystery Series”.  The protagonist frequently will grab random items from her kitchen and plants from her garden and throw together mouth watering dinners.  I wasn’t sure about my combo but everything was screaming that I throw it together into an omelette or scramble.  I prefer egg scrambles to omelettes (I like my eggs light and fluffy and perfectly cooked without the browned edges that so many omelettes have) and thus caprese eggs were born.  As proof of their deliciousness they have become a regular staple in our home.  You’ll have to try it yourself and let me know how it fares on your table.

I know, I know you all want to hear about this fabulous book series I just mentioned, right?  Well let me tell you, I have just finished listening to the seven book “Magical Baking Mystery” series by Bailey Cates and I really could not get enough of it!  It has endearing characters, a sassy amateur detective, a Wiccan coven, an adorable dog, mouth watering food descriptions AND MURDER!  It is almost like this series was written for me!  Weirdly I first stumbled across the seventh book in the series while randomly browsing audiobooks that were “available now”.  There were some spoilers in book seven but that didn’t stop me from plowing through the rest of the series afterwards!  I highly recommend it.

Julius has been getting much better at eating real food!  Lately he tends to enjoy eating if he can grab the food and feed himself.  Unfortunately those two bottom teeth don’t do much for his chewing abilities.  He’ll frequently gum the food a bit and then just suck on it until it dissolves.  This doesn’t apply just to food, he will try this with almost everything he comes across that will fit into his mouth.

For instance last weekend Will & I had to do some yard work.  We set up a tent for some shade and plopped Julius under the tent surrounded by toys, while Will sat nearby and weeded the garden.  Julius immediately decided what Daddy was doing was far more interesting than his toys and crawled over to him.  When I finished mowing the lawn, I saw Will weeding the garden and Julius plopped next to him seemingly also weeding.  When I approached and asked how the weeding was going, Will informed me that Julius was not so much weeding as filling his mouth full of sticks.  I thought this was a joke until Will explained that he had gardening gloves on and didn’t want to put his hand in Julius’ mouth to remove said sticks.  Still not quite sure if Will was joking, I gently inserted my finger into the side of Julius’ mouth and fished out a stick.  I was still debating if I should be amused or grumpy about the supervised stick eating when Will informed me there were more sticks in Julius’ mouth.  So much for daddy daycare?

Daddy and Julius weeding

Does it look like I’m eating sticks?

Only a couple.

I promise this meal will be much more nutritious and tastier than a mouth full of sticks!

Caprese Eggs

(Serves 2)


  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 1/2 c shredded mozarella (packed)
  • 3 or 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp butter or oil
  1. Chop tomatoes and basil and beat eggs.
  2. Heat oil or butter in a medium frypan over medium heat until melted.  Swirl to coat pan.  Pour eggs into the pan.
  3. Top eggs with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.
  4. Stir gently, breaking up eggs and distributing the toppings.
  5. Cook until eggs are firm and fluffy and have just become set and dry.  Serve immediately with garlic naan, a green salad and a dry red wine.
Posted in Culinary Delights | 6 Comments

Danycon 2.0

We had an awesome time last month hosting Danycon 2.0!  We had 83% attendance this year, though we missed Lauren and Andrew who were busy planning their wedding which is only a month away!  As an added bonus, attendance this year included the two newest Danycon members – Finnegan and Julius!  Some rough weather in the south delayed several sets of flights, but luckily everyone made it to Lancaster by the wee hours of Saturday morning for a full day of fun on Saturday.

The whole gang! (Minus Dany – it was impossible to get adults, babies and dogs in one decent photo.)

For the theme this year I was stumped for a while, then inspiration struck.  If you couldn’t tell by my tie dye party post, I’ve become a bit obsessed with tie dye.  I went all out on tie dye for Danycon this year, and tie dyed shirts and bags for everyone before the event.  Will was not surprised and has remarked since that I’ll probably tie dye everything cotton in the house before the year is out.  He’s probably right, so he better hide his boxers.

Dyed shirts hanging in the basement to dry.

Welcome bags

The event kicked off with the opening of welcome bags on Saturday morning.  Along with the usual programs, t-shirts and board game freebies Will & I included a puzzle hunt.  We  put together a series of puzzles the lead everyone around the house to the final answer which revealed personalized Danycon cups filled with candy.  In addition to being a prize, the personalized cups allowed us to cut down on plastic cups or excess dishwashing.

As for the puzzles, the idea was to force everyone to work together.  The clues alternated different combinations of people required to figure the puzzles out.  All the puzzles were pretty darn awesome (if I do say so myself), so I’ll just tell you about my two favorites.  One of the sets of clues lead everyone to the tool chest in the basement.  Once unlocking the tool chest one drawer yielded a box that read “EAT ME” filled with letter shaped cookies.  A second drawer revealed glasses and a sign that read “DRINK ME”.  My sister’s terrified exclamation at seeing the signs for consumption was something like, “And here is where it gets real…”  The indicated person had to determine what spice was overwhelming the cookies, or extract overwhelming the drink.  They then found the next clue in the spice cabinet inside the spice or extract bottle specified.

The other clue I thought was very silly is that one person got a clue that said “you are a special egg”.  The first joking answer someone gave, to smash the box of eggs, was actually the right one, though they spent a lot of time looking in the vegan egg substitute box.  Eventually they discovered that one of the eggs was lighter than the others and was actually hollowed out.  They smashed the egg to reveal a note with a part of the final clue.


This year we decided to do a full on tournament instead of the Happy Salmon tournament we had last time.  Each round consisted of a different number of players.  We “seeded” the bracket with Rolling Japan and put everyone into a bracket.  The first round was 4v.4 Captain Sonar, followed by 2v.2 Codenames, and finally 1v.1 Villaa Paletti.  The last round we intended to do an epic Galaxy Trucker battle, but it was sadly left at work.  Instead there was a (power couple) face off between Mandy & Bailey in Villa Paletti which is like Gaudi meets Jenga.  Bailey was the ultimate champion of this year’s tournament.

Mary Elizabeth and Mandy look on as Bailey makes one of the final moves of the game.




  • Pulled pork with homemade pickles
  • Veggie burgers
  • Carrot salad
  • Caprese salad

    Pulled Pork, caprese salad and carrot salad dinner



  • Oatmeal bake with peaches (I used almond milk instead of dairy and vegan egg replacer instead of eggs)



  • Veggie kabobs (mushroom, peppers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Teriyaki steak kabobs
  • Italian chicken kabobs
  • Risi bisi
  • Peanut butter brownies

    Jesse and Mandy dig into kabobs & risi bisi



  • Scrambled eggs (or vegan eggs) with cheese and chopped veggies leftover from the kabob’s
  • Plums and peaches

We can’t wait for Danycon III!!

By popular request here’s the photo with Dany!

Posted in Parties | 4 Comments

Lucky Duck

Over the past 2 weeks Julius has gone from army crawling to pulling up.  And now he even alternates between army crawling and legitimate crawling.  It is amazing how quickly he has progressed.  Every day you can see the progress he has made!  It’s funny, I watch all the videos of my nephew Finnegan beginning to try to control his hands and that all seems like a lifetime ago for Julius.  Looking back that is where I can pinpoint the start of the transition from Julius going from squish to grown up baby.  Babies really are amazing!

Speaking of amazing, Will and I celebrated our seventh anniversary a couple weeks ago!  I planned to make us eggplant parm and homemade ice cream, but we were so tired that I ended up making a breakfast-for-lunch type dinner using a hodgepodge of things I had on hand.  It ended up being so delicious that I have made it several times since then.  I’ll be posting about it later, but sadly my anniversary gift to Will was just as much of a shortcut.  I had about a thousand ideas for what to make (and I may make them yet – after all it’s a whole year until our next anniversary) but once again I was limited by time.

Since it was the copper/wool anniversary I decided to make Will an engraved penny from our lucky year.  I already have a set of metal stamps from Christmas a couple years ago, but I needed to invest in a larger heart stamp.  As always, be sure to use safety equipment while you’re working on a project.  In this case, copper/zinc shards can be hazardous.  I guess I should add something about not destroying legal government tender, but since those penny press machines exist I hardly think this project is a huge deal.

Lucky Anniversary Penny

What you’ll need:

  • A 4mm jump ring
  • A key chain
  • A penny from your anniversary year
  • metal stamp set with letters, numbers and 5mm heart
  • 1/8″ drill bit and electric screwdriver
  • 1 permanent marker
  1.  Position the heart stamp over the year on the head of the penny, then make a few swift raps with a hammer to engrave a heart around the year.

    Hammer heart over year on penny.

  2. Engrave the month and day in numbers with a ‘.” between them.
  3. Flip the penny over and in the center of the penny’s tail side engrave a ‘+’ or ‘&’ surrounded by the couples’ initials.

    Hammer letters and numbers for date/initials.

  4. Using a nail, hammer a starter dent into the top of the penny where you want the hole to be.  (If you have an awl you can use this instead of a nail)

    Hammer pilot hole into top of penny to use as a guide for the screwdriver.

  5. Place penny in vice, with pieces of wood acting as a buffer.  With an 1/8″ drill bit, drill a hole in the penny using the starter dent as a guide.  Using fine sandpaper, remove any sharp edges from the drill.

    Drill the penny at the pilot hole.

  6. Fill the engravings in with permanent marker, rubbing off any excess markings on the face of the penny with a cloth.
  7. Insert jump ring through the hole in penny and pinch closed with pliers.  Attach key ring through jump ring.

    Back of penny.

    Front of penny.


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 3 Comments

Over the shoulder bag

So Julius started getting separation anxiety for a brief period last week.  I’d drop him off at daycare or hand him to daddy and he’d cry until I took him back.  While it is frankly adorable that someone seemingly needs you so much they cry, it is actually more torturous than you may imagine!  Really tugs at those heart strings.  Good news is that he really only cries for a few seconds, and as soon as I’m gone he stops.  Learning how to push those buttons I guess!

Another interesting habit Julius has learned is also slightly ridiculous.  For several months now I haven’t been able to read or do anything at all while he is eating because he is super distracted.  At one point he decided to never again eat in front of people, around any noise whatsoever or while I am holding something.  He especially likes to flail his free arm around, grabbing at anything that is in reaching range – a cell phone, a kindle, my hair, my clothing, his hair, his clothing, etc.  Once he obtains an object, he continues to flail until it whacks me or him in the face.

For a long time now he has enjoyed stick his hand in my mouth.  I’ve seen other babies do this, so I know this isn’t as weird as it sounds.  Problem is I always pretend to eat his hand when he sticks it in my mouth and he finds this hysterical.  This means when he blindly sticks his hand in my mouth while he’s eating he immediately starts giggling and looks up at me.  I then have to coax him back to eating.  So now to prevent this, I clamp my mouth shut so he cannot possibly pry my lips open, stick his hand in and giggle.  He has found a work around.  He now discovered that if he simply sticks his fingers up my nose it eventually elicits a laugh from me which causes even more laughter on his end and the stoppage of eating for several minutes. What a prankster…

The craft I have for you today will keep your hands (nose and mouth) free while shopping.  Long enough to hang off your shoulder, but not too huge, this sturdy canvas tote bag is stylish and durable.  I used white duck canvas fabric from Joann fabric that was 100% cotton so I could easily tie dye them.  And the best part?  The bags cost about $1.50 to make.  

Shoulder Length Market Bag

What You’ll Need:

  • ~ 1/2 yard of 59″ wide cotton duck canvas (will make 2 bags)


  1. Cut a 3.5″x59″ strip of fabric for the handles.  Cut a 13.5″x29.5″ piece of fabric for the body.
  2. If desired, tie dye the disassembled canvas fabric as in this post.  I dyed only the fabric for the bag body and left the handles white.
  3. Fold under 1/2″ of fabric on the short edge of the body fabric .  Press.

    Fold fabric under 1/2″ on short side.

  4. Fold fabric under again by 1″ to form a finished hem.  Press.

    Fold fabric under another inch to form a hem.

  5.  Repeat step 3 for second side.
  6. Fold the handle fabric in half lengthwise.  Press.

    Fold handle in half lengthwise, press.

  7. Open out.  Fold the unfinished edges to the inside of the handle.  Press.

    Open out, fold unfinished edge towards the fold. Press.

  8. Stitch along the edge forming to form a handle.
  9. Cut strip in half forming 2 29.5″ pieces.

    Finished handles.

  10. Pin the edges of the handles to the folds from step 3, about 1.5″ from the unfinished edge.

    Pin handles to canvas bag.

  11. Stitch close to the fold of the hem edge step 3.

    Stitch along side near the folded under edge

  12. Stitch close to the folded under edge of the hem in step 3.

    Stitch the edge of the fabric along the fold.

  13. Fold bag so right sides are together (folded seam is on the outside) and stitch along the unfinished edges.

    Stitch 1/2″ from the unfinished edges.

  14. Serge the edges you just stitched above.

    Serge the unfinished edge

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 4 Comments

Tie Dye Party!

Will and my seventh anniversary is tomorrow!  I can’t believe it has been seven years.  The time seems to have flown by.  I am going to get all cheesy for a minute.  I know people say this all the time, but I’m so lucky to have married my best friend.  Seriously though I don’t know what I’d do without that guy.  On top of our anniversary, Julius turned 9 months old last week!  Someone told me a while ago that once you have kids there is a phenomenon referred to as “long days, short years”.  The premise is basically that you are so tired and exhausted every day that the day seems to stretch on forever.  Once you look back, however, it seems like the time just flew by.  I guess if those seven years flew by, we’re going to be approaching light speed.

Anyway, I have to get this post up so I can go work on Will’s anniversary gift.  (If it gets done I’m sure I’ll have a post coming.)  As promised, I’m going to tell you all about our latest ladies’ night!

Julius showing off a masterpiece.

Tie Dye Party

For ladies’ night this month we had a tie dye party!  It looked like everyone had a lot of fun, and though a few people claimed their shirts didn’t come out great, I think they all came out spectacular.  I really love the mystery that comes with shibori or tie dye.  No matter how close you match the steps of folding, binding and dyeing, each piece will be utterly unique.

Tie dye results

Tie Dye Activity Setup

What You’ll Need:

(For a party size of 10):

  • 2 tsp each of 6 colors of fiber reactive dye (Procion MX)
  • 3 quarts of chemical water stock solution
  • 6 – 2 cup Plastic condiment bottles
  • ~100 elastics of varying sizes and thicknesses (I got mine from dollar tree)
  • 10 to 20 100% cotton white t-shirts (I got them on sale at Joann Fabrics for $3 a piece!)
  • 2 to 4 cups of baking soda or soda ash (depending on number of shirts)
  • 10-20 gallon zip lock bags (depending on number of shirts)
  • A box of disposable vinyl gloves (I’m really sorry Earth :() – I got mine for $5 at Walmart for 100 gloves
  • 2 large buckets
  • tables covered with disposable tablecloths
  • Synthrapol or a pH neutral detergent

The night before: wash your shirts in synthrapol or other pH neutral detergent and dry.  Using a mask, eye protection and gloves, mix up 3 batches of chemical water and refrigerate.  Also measure out 2 tsp of dye into each plastic condiment bottle, cover, and label the bottle with permanent marker.

Before guests arrive: Set up two tables out of doors with plastic tablecloths.  Place buckets, elastics and gloves on one table, and bottles of dye on the other.  Fill each bucket  halfway full of water & baking soda – 1/2 cup of baking soda per gallon of water.  Stir until baking soda dissolves. (I used 2 gallons of water per bucket.)  Divide the shirts into the two buckets, soaking them for at least 15 minutes and moving them around occasionally.  Pour a small amount of chemical water into each bottle of dye, replace cap and shake gently to mix.  Fill each bottle with additional chemical water to total 2 cups, and gently rock back and forth to stir.

Filling my dye bottles with chemical water.

Shirts soaking and dyes ready.

Shirts soaking.

Food Preparation

Ladies waiting to dig in


  • Hamburgers (either buy your favorite frozen variety or form 80/20 ground beef into patties yourself)
  • Veggie Burgers (I use red pepper instead of green and add 1/2 cup of corn for texture)
  • Toppings: Buns, Cheese (American & Pepper Jack go well with both), Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Homemade Pickles, Lettuce, Mustard & Ketchup
  • Potato Salad
  • Fruit Salad (this time the seasonal fruits were: cantaloupe, watermelon and blueberries but I change this up depending on what the farmer/grocery store has)
  • Peanut Butter Brownies

A week before: Prepare veggie burgers and freeze.  Prep the homemade pickles (I use the recipe above and omit the sugar).  I always have a batch on hand in the summer, but you could just as easily serve your guests your favorite jarred variety.

The night before: Form ground beef into patties and refrigerate.  Prepare potato salad and refrigerate. Make peanut butter brownies.

Before guests arrive: Chop tomato, onion and lettuce and place them on a serving platter with the other toppings. Cut up brownies and place on a platter.  Preheat the grill and oil a sheet of aluminum foil for the veggie burgers.

As guests arrive: Set out condiments, salads and brownies.  Grill burgers to your preference, and tent them with foil until they’re all ready to serve.

Potato Salad, Fruit Salad, burgers and all the fixings.

The Party

Serve dinner while the shirts are soaking.

After dinner have everyone don their gloves and leave their beverages inside.  Each person should ring out their shirt until damp but not sopping wet.  At this point you can choose from many techniques to bind your shirt (or make up your own method).  Make sure guests fold and bind on one table and dye on the other or you’ll end up with a mess!  When they are done dyeing, place each bound shirt into a plastic zip lock bag, removing as much air as possible.

Ladies get down to business

I give a brief tutorial on some tie dye techniques. (Is it just me, or does everyone look overwhelmed?!)

I tie dyed my shirts two ways.  First via the traditional spiral pattern.  To make a spiral, pinch the shirt in the middle and turn, tightly twisting the fabric around the center point.  At the end you should have a disk like shape.  Bind the spiral disk with elastic across the circle, dividing the disk into “slices” like a pie.  Fill each slice with one color of dye on both the front and back side of the disk.

Pink Spiral before.

Pink Spiral after

The second method I used was similar to the triangle folding method I used in this post.  Instead of a triangle I folded my shirt into squares, accordian style, then I bound the shirt with 4 elastics, near the edge of the square on each side, forming a shape like a frame.  I covered each edge of the “frame” (on both sides) with dye, overlapping on the corners.  I left the center of the square blank.

Multicolor square before

Multicolor square after

Let guests take their shirts home in the zip lock bags with the following instructions for washing:

“Batch” the shirts (keep them in the plastic bag so they stay wet) for 24 hours at a temperature of 70 deg F or above.  Then air dry your shirt.  When dry, rinse in lukewarm water (until the water runs clear – I cheat and use the rinse cycle on my washing machine) followed by a hot machine wash with Synthrapol or other neutral detergent (AND NOTHING YOU CARE ABOUT DYEING).  Rinse with warm water.  Dry.  At this point the dye should be set.  

Some finished shirts packaged in zip locks.

Happy Dyeing!

Piper and Kathy model some sweet designs!

Evan and Andrew are sure to love the matching shirts Laura made them!

Em pulled off some stylish shirts

Vicky looks like she likes the onesie Ka made her!

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Raise a Glass

I really didn’t realize how sad my last blog post sounded until several of you commented!  Thank you for keeping an eye on me, it makes me feel loved!  This past weekend was Danycon 2.0 which I will write about in a future post!  It was the first time Will and I met our nephew Finnegan!  He is an adorable little fellow and we can’t wait for him and Julius to be best buddy cousins!  So far Julius has tried to grab Finn’s toes, but there has been minimal interaction otherwise.  (Finn is still a squish right now, and though it seems it happened so quickly, Julius is a fairly sturdy, busy baby. )

Julius is playing with Finn! Or maybe he’s just stealing his toys. Hard to say.

After my last blog post, Julius seemed to get over the funk I mentioned.  In fact, several days later he even gave me baby kisses again!  This age is definitely the most fun so far.  Every day it seems like he is learning more and more.  You can almost see the gears turning.  Most people warned us that it is a pain when babies are mobile, but right now we just find it fun.  Julius likes to explore, but he is equally happy to sit and play.  The cutest thing he does is scoots over to where you are standing and tries to climb up your legs until you pick him up and give him a hug.  After that he’ll let you hug him until you put him down again whence he goes on his merry way.  I am loving every minute!

One thing Julius finds fascinating now is drinking glasses.  He always wants to drink out of my glass when I’m holding one.  I’ve started letting him drink out of them, and though he doesn’t have the technique down, he has gotten better.  Well for this Danycon I decided to make Danycon pint glassses.  They were a hit and as an added bonus cut down on waste from cups.  I used folk art multisurface paints that I had from my paint night ladies’ night, but you can use any paint suitable for painting on glass.

DIY Stenciled Pint Glasses

What you’ll need:

  • glass paints (I used folk art multisurface)
  • spouncer
  • pint glass (I got mine from the Dollar Tree)
  • contact paper
  • X-acto knife
  1. On a piece of paper print or sketch your desired design.  Designs with solid shapes work best.  Those with negative space in the center are difficult to create.
  2. Place your piece of paper on top of the contact paper and on a cutting surface.  Cut around the design using the Xacto knife, pressing hard enough so it transfers through to the contact paper.
  3. Remove the backing from the contact paper and stick it to glass in your desired location.
  4. Using the spouncer, dab paint on the stencil on the cup.
  5. Remove the stencil immediately.
  6. Let the paint dry 24 hours then place glass in a cold oven.  Bring the oven to 350 degrees F then cook for 30 minutes.  When finished, turn off the oven and let the oven cool completely.  Glasses will be top rack dishwasher safe.
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We’ve Got You Covered

Well I think the tides have turned.  This is a heartbreaking week for motherhood.  Julius won’t nurse consistently for me.  It has been a struggle for a while, but it was mostly due to distraction which I could handle.  Over the past few days though things have progressed beyond distraction and he will go 5 hours without nursing.  To prevent him from starving, we finally have to give him a bottle, which he takes mostly happily.

Along with that awful blow, Julius hasn’t been his ecstatically enthusiastic self for mama either.  Saturday Will went to another bachelor party and gave Julius a big hug before he left.  When Julius was handed back to me he actually sobbed!  AND he hasn’t given me baby kisses in nearly a week!!!  What is going on?!  Forget any hopes of being a mama’s boy, I just hope he hasn’t outgrown mama already.

All this seriously makes me regret ever heading home from work late!  What was I thinking?!  Who cares if I get fired, I could have had so many more baby kisses and snuggles!  I miss them already…

Enough mama drama – I have a crappy project to show you!  Okay, okay, it is a really bad pun (but that won’t stop me from making it the title of this post!)  I’m going to show you how to make the cloth diaper cover that Julius has been wearing for a couple months now (not continuously). I wanted to wait until we’d used the cover for a while before I posted it.  I can tell you it works great!  Just like a normal diaper cover!  Plus it was exceedingly inexpensive to make (I think it cost me around $4 for materials with a Joann Fabrics coupon).  What’s the catch?  Well, it was fairly time consuming to make.  I’ve been meaning to make more for months.  This diaper making procrastination may have become worse than my curtain making procrastination.  The cover, while re-sizable, runs a bit large.  We use pre-folds instead of inserts, and it comfortably accommodates these.

Here let me get that shirt for you.

Multisize Cloth Diaper Cover

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 yard of PUL material (plus more for seam binding)
  • 1/2 yard of 1/4″ elastic
  • Plastic snaps
  • Diaper pattern here
  1. Following the pattern pieces cut out the diaper cover, two gussets, inside cover top and two inside cover sides.

    Cut out pattern pieces.

  2. Make bias/binding tape by cutting a 2″ strip, so if you pull the edges of the strip it has the most give.  (For the knit PUL I have, that is NOT on the bias).  Or you can use this tape, which I am going to try on my next diaper project!

    Make bias tape.

  3. Pin the top cover to the inside cover top and sides, shiny waterproof sides together.  Stitch along edges of the diaper cover.

    Attach diaper cover to diaper cover lining, wrong sides together.

  4. Cut a 3.5″ piece of elastic for the front top of diaper cover.  Cut a 6.5″ piece of elastic for the back top of diaper cover.  Cut a 4″ piece of elastic for the inside of legs.  Stretch each piece of elastic and stitch, fully stretched, between markings on pattern using a zig zag stitch.

    Attach elastic, fully stretched, using zig-zag stitch.

  5. Cut a piece of binding material so it is slightly longer than the straight edge of your gusset.

    Cut binding material slightly longer than gusset.

  6. Pin right sides together along the straight edge and stitch.

    Pin right sides of gusset and bias tape together and stitch.

  7. Cut a 4″ piece of elastic for the gusset.  Attach a piece of elastic to the seam allowance using a zig zag stitch.
  8. Fold the bias tape over the seam allowance as you would double fold bias tape (hiding the unfinished edges). Stitch outside the elastic.

    Fold bias tape over edge of gusset and elastic.

  9. Pin the gusset to the diaper at leg markings, wrong sides together.  Stitch.
  10. Repeat steps 5-9 with the second gusset.
  11. Attach bias tape right sides together all along the edge of the diaper, stitching just inside of where the elastic is.

    Attach bias tape around edge of diaper cover.

  12. Flip bias tape to the inside over seam allowance, tucking in the unfinished edge of the bias tape.  When you get to the leg gussets, encompass the unfinished edges of the leg gusset bias tape inside.  Stitch at the edge of the bias tape, outside the elastic.

    Enclose the unfinished edges of the leg gusset bias tape.

  13. Mark placement on diaper for snaps, following pattern.

    Mark placement for diaper snaps.

  14. Attach snaps according to instructions on package.

    Attach snaps.


    This picture was taken over two months ago! He’s gotten even bigger since then!


    Front view on smallest setting.

    Back view of cover.

    Is it cool if I suck my fingers?

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