Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sugar and Spice, and a Tutorial!

Well now, it has been a long time, hasn't it? After a long break from blogging, which was unintended but turned out to be totally needed by most of us, the Praiseworthy girls are back! We'll be here and there, somewhat less regularly than we used to - we have springtime to plan for and babies on the way! - but I think I can speak for all of us when I say we missed you. So here we go.

I always thought that the little rhyme about "sugar and spice and everything nice" was a teeny bit unfair to girls ("everything nice"? I mean, that's a pretty tall order, don't you think?). Until I had a little girl - who is smart and helpful and funny and pretty and independent, and sometimes a whole lot more spice than sugar!

Here she is at just 4 days old. Sassy already! ;)

Now, to be perfectly honest, I love spice. Ask anyone. We have a whole kitchen drawer dedicated to spices, and a box in the pantry for what doesn't fit in the drawer. There are two ingredients I never measure anymore: vanilla and cinnamon. And when I use either of those two lovely lovely things, especially the cinnamon, I cannot help but think about how fortunate I am. I think "here is this precious spice, a spice that whole countries once fought other whole countries over, and I have a big jar of it right here in my pantry, and it's abundantly available to me when I run out. And here I am, I don't even measure it, I just toss some in like it never cost anyone anything." I don't know, I just love that thought; I love how simple it is, and how good for the soul.

Anyway, back to my point. My daughter has made me appreciate that little rhyme, by making me think about the spice. And I do love spice!

I also love this little skirt, which was made for my little Miss Sassy C when she was two:

It's sushi fabric! And it's reversible! She would wear this with her little red rain boots or her blue shoes with the orange stars, and just radiate the cuteness!

I loved it so much that when she grew out of it, I did some careful examination of the seams and stitches, and made a couple more in bigger sizes (and fabric that suited her better at four- and five-years-old). They're still favorites of hers and mine.

And so! When our Cortney's littlest girl had her last birthday, I knew just what to make. And I took pictures! So now you can make some too!

For a size 3-ish skirt, you'll need:

Two pieces of fabric: 37" x 13" and 37" x 15"
Elastic, 1-inch wide

Sew each of your fabric pieces into a tube with the seam along the short end. Zigzag stitch the seam together, and do another zigzag stitch along one raw edge of each tube. Fold that edge up 2" on the 13" fabric; and fold up 3" on the 15" fabric. Stitch those folded up edges close to the raw edge. Like this:

Turn one of your tubes right-side out, and pair them up right-sides together. Match up along the raw edges at the top. Make sure your tube-seams are matched up, too. Like this:

Stitch all around the top:

When you open it up, it will look like this:

Now fold it along the seam you just made, with wrong-sides together. Press to flatten, like this:

Now make another seam, a smidgen more than an inch from that one at the top, leaving a space open to feed the elastic through. Like this:

If you look between the two pieces of fabric, your opening where you'll feed the elastic through will look like this:

Trim your elastic to size so that it fits your daughter's waist with a little stretch. Pin one end of the elastic to the fabric with a safety pin, and put a second safety pin on the other end of the elastic. Like this:

Using that safety pin on the end, work the elastic through the opening and all around the skirt, making sure the elastic doesn't get twisted. Hook the two safety pins together, then shimmy and pull the elastic around inside the seams so it's all nice and even.

Once you like how it looks, stitch the two ends of elastic together and trim off the excess:

Turn the skirt back to wrong-sides together and stitch up the opening - just pick up that seam you left, right where you left off. You're done!

So cute one way ...

... and the other!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Are you having a great Labor Day weekend so far? Are you "laboring" around the yard and/or house? Or enjoying an end-of-summer vay- or stay-cation? Maybe you're like me doing a little bit of both. I'm playing matchmaker around here. Lookie what I mean.
Match #1
our pantry filling up for the winter!


Match #2
a new delicious grilling adventure!


Match #3
no explanation needed...throw in some popsicles, friends and family, and a party is born!


Match #4
Well, let's say this one didn't really get off the ground. Soon, though. Very soon. This doesn't shout "holiday weekend" to me, so we'll wait a little bit.

Hoping you and your weekend are a match made in summery heaven!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When life gives you lemons, I mean zucchini...

...make zucchini brownies!

That's right. 'Tis the season for zucchini coming out the wah-zoo, and if you're like me, about this time of year I'm really scraping for new ways to use our bountiful crop of emerald beauties. When we sit down to the dinner table, my husband teasingly asks "OK where's the zucchini?" I've gotten clever at the hiding game!

My mom gave me this recipe a couple of years ago, and it's a winner. Rich, moist brownies with a fudge-like frosting. And, thanks to the cooler-than-normal summer we're having, I can actually stand to turn on the oven in our non-air-conditioned house and bake up a batch of these. I like to grate zucchini and freeze it in 2-cup portions so I can make this year round too.

We're bringing these to our neighborhood picnic tomorrow, and I expect the dish will be empty by the end of the night! I hope you'll try these and let me know what you think.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg (optional - If you add it, the brownies will be more cake-like. If you leave it out, they will be more fudgey.)

2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Combine first "wet" ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add dry to wet and combine well. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Top with frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk

Mix together in saucepan and boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat and add: 2/3 cup EACH chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are melted and spread on brownies. Let set until frosting firms up like fudge. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We all scream!

Did you know this month is National Ice Cream month? Did you know there was such a thing? Thanks to President Reagan's declaration back in 1984, July is officially the month to celebrate this frozen concoction of deliciousness. The third Sunday of the month (or this past Sunday) is National Ice Cream day.

I don't know about you, but I usually don't need an occasion to enjoy a bowl of cookies n' cream or a pudding pop. But it's nice to know it's celebrated in our country.

I once heard that there is more ice cream consumed in winter months than in the summer. Has anyone else heard that? It's been so long since I learned that surprising fact that I'm starting to wonder if I made it up so I wouldn't fee so guilty digging into a dish of caramal cashew on a chilly February night.

Anyway, we like to make ice cream at our house, but we usually like to make it when it can all be eaten the same day as it's made, so we'll invite you over sometime to help us eat it! Re-frozen homemade ice cream just seems to lose a lot of the texture and flavor that it has when it's eaten right out of the ice cream maker. Here's a site with all the recipes you can imagine.

But for a "quick fix" I love a good Dilly bar or a soft serve cone too! It's worth all the brain freezes in the world!

Happy ice "screaming" this month! What's your favorite kind?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hope for little lambs

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday, and I wanted to share just a couple of thoughts with you. The subject was mostly on hope, and I related it to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how vital it is to have hope in our lives and in our families. There is an element of action that needs to take place along with hope.

"As parents, we find our fondest hopes center around our children. We hope they will grow up to lead responsible and righteous lives. Such hopes can be easily dashed if we do not act as good examples. Hope alone does not mean our children will grow in righteousness. We must spend time with them in family home evening and worthwhile family activities. We must teach them to pray. We must read with them in the scriptures and teach them important gospel principles. Only then is it possible our fondest hopes will be realized."
-Elder Steven E. Snow

I realize more and more the importance of the responsibility I've been given to raise righteous children. I'm certain the challenges will be greater the older they get too. But I also know the potential of my hopes and actions becoming exponentially far-reaching, perhaps for generations to come.

"The Echo"
C. C. Miller

’Twas a sheep not a lamb
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told,
A grown-up sheep that strayed away
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
And why for the sheep should we seek
And earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger when sheep go wrong:
They lead the lambs astray.
Lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray.
When sheep go wrong,
It won’t take long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today,
For when the sheep are lost
What a terrible cost
The lambs will have to pay.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Well this weeks topic is one of my favorite things. I figure Oprah has them, so I can have them too. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Huckleberries, etc. Yummy!

I love berry muffins too. Here is one of my favorite recipes. It came from allrecipes, but I adapted it a little, so I will call it my own. :)

Blueberry, or any berry for that matter, muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon or so of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or so of nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries/huckleberries,raspberries/etc

Crumb Topping
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 or more teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter (room temperature)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2.Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
3.To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Mix with fork till there are small crumbles and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
4.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
Try them, you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's that time of year when all the berries are their full glory. I guess strawberries have been on for a while already, but the blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are catching up. And that means stocking up!

Growing up, we had a huge strawberry patch at our house, and it was my summertime household job to pick berries and make freezer jam pretty much every other day. Any time my away-at-college sisters would call home and ask what I'm doing, no matter what time of day, the answer would always be "dishes" or "making jam." I got pretty sick of it sometimes, but we were sure glad to dig a carton of homemade jam out of the freezer in the winter when we were craving a little taste of summer.

Speaking of summer, it's having a hard time making an appearance around here. Our heater kicked on this morning! So, our harvest may be meager at best, which means we'll be visiting our local "u-pick" farms for berries. If you haven't heard of, you must go and check it out. You can search by location and narrow your search by the type of produce you're looking for. It has extras like recipes, canning tips and picking tips. Our favorite is blueberry picking at Canter-Berry Farms. They don't use any pesticides or herbicides, and they encourage you to eat as much as you like while you're picking.

If you're looking for something delicious and different to make with your berries, try this Rhuberry Pie. It combines FOUR kinds of berries and my favorite - rhubarb. Hurry before the rhubarb is gone for the season! Or convince yourself to break open one of the 6 bags you're hoarding in the freezer for year-long rationing. Not that I do that.

Happy Independence Day next week, everyone! Make something deliciously patriotic with all those berries out there!

P.S. Speaking of strawberries, this is one of our favorite books! We all love the illustrations, and I love that I totally relate to it (although my freckles didn't go away when I got older either!).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Still here....

Well, Jen has been true and faithful...but the rest of us, well, I guess we're lost. :)

We are still here. I'm can't speak for the rest of the women, but I can say that for myself, I have just been anxiously engaged in a few other good causes...namely the Book of Mormon Challenge, and moving! I have not forgotten about this Praiseworthy blog and our Praiseworthy cause--quite the opposite is true! My mind is filling up with thoughts and ideas and things I'd love to share. However, there is a time and a season for all things...

Last week's topic was "sorry."
I'm sorry I didn't write anything.

The topic this week is "white." I didn't want to let this one pass me by completely! There are so many wonderful white things in this world! For example...

wedding dresses
a big, white-toothed smile
new paint
fluffy clouds in a blue sky
a blank canvas
pages in a book
sea shells
clean socks
fresh whipped cream

The other day my daughter asked me if I knew what her favorite part of her body is. Then she proudly declared "My teeth! Because I like to take care of them."

Clean. White. Smile. :)

My sister is getting married in August. It has been fun to help find a unique and beautiful dress for her to wear to the temple. It has a bow. It has a train. It has been fitted just for her.

Clean. White. Smile. :)

There is just something comforting in the beauty of white in this world!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In bloom

I'm loving this one right now:

And this Japanese variety is pretty spectacular too:
This soft pink one smells like a sweet breath of fresh air whenever I walk by:
But you know which is my favorite? The white one. Look closely and you'll see tiny flecks of bright red in a few spots.

It's a reminder that something doesn't have to be perfect and pristine to be beautiful.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Have you ever heard the saying "Love means never having to say you're sorry."? It's actually a line from a book and a 1970 movie, and I've heard it here and there in various contexts. Two years later, the phrase was repeated by Barbara Streisand's character in another movie, to which her costar Ryan O'Neal responds, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."

I have to say I agree with his answer. Since being married, I've learned that "I'm sorry" is one of the most important, and necessary, things I can say to my husband. I don't think I say it too much because I think overusing it just becomes a trite cure-all phrase, and because I try my hardest to not do or say too many things in the first place that I'm sorry for. But there are definitely times where I have to put my pride aside, get a little perspective on the situation, and turn on the empathy. It might be easier to just disregard the situation, and when the bad feelings subside, just go back to life as usual as if nothing happened. But, as I'm sure you all know, that doesn't make it better in the long run.

I recently read an article titled "Making a Marriage Work" where Elder Pinnock lists ten ideas to not only make your marriage work, but to strengthen it (I highly recommend reading it individually and then as a couple). The seventh idea is:

"Say, 'I’m sorry,' and really mean it. Contrary to a popular saying, love, in part, means learning how to say 'I’m sorry.' So often when we make mistakes, even innocent mistakes, damage has been done and an apology is in order. Along with learning to say, 'I’m sorry,' husbands and wives must learn to say, 'I forgive.' Jesus taught that to be forgiven by our Heavenly Father depends, in part, on our ability to forgive those who trespass against us. Some of the strongest marriages of which I am aware have been between partners who could say, 'I am sorry,' and who forgive each other."

So, if I could re-write the saying based on my own experience, it would say something like "Love means saying you're sorry even when it's the most difficult thing you've done in a long time and it wasn't your fault to begin with and you want to sulk until the other person comes to you and apologizes and you don't want to talk about it and you don't care about being sorry because you just want to be right."

Now that's TRUE love.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

She was born on a Saturday.

I gave birth to her at 3:27 am on a Saturday.

In these short two years, I've seen some of myself in her.

She's a little crafty...

...and a little domestic.

She loves being outside...

...even if it means getting dirty.

She's independent, determined (sometimes to the point of stubbornness) and has a special admiration for her big brother...just like her mom.

But she's very much her own person.

She takes an unconventional approach to life.

And she could teach me a thing or two about finding joy in simple things.

Yep, she was born on a Saturday...

...and I'm changed because of it.