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Monday, April 14, 2014

Colorblock T-Shirt Maxi Skirt

Some of you may already know about an email subscription you can register for from All Free Sewing which provides you with an email of lots of free sewing patterns for all kinds of cool stuff. I get one approximately each day, sometimes less. It shows you their top 10-15 or so choices so it's an easy read, you can pick and choose what to look at. I enjoy it, I've come across some neat projects. Anyway... I came across the link to a colorblock dress. When I clicked on the link, it was a prego lady wearing it - no prego lady wear needed here! - but, I thought the concept would be great as just a skirt. 

So I grabbed a few t-shirts and decided in what order I'd like to have the colors. I found an orange one that had grease stains on it, so I used what I could before the stains. (I know, I have some neat aprons and I reeeeally need to get in the habit of wearing them more!) Try to use t-shirts that are close in size so you don't have to do any adjusting. But, if you like one that's a larger size, you can always just take it in. Maxi skirts can be flowing or tigher, so depending on your preference, you can use bigger t-shirts so that it's more loose. I used my own sized t-shirts for my own fit. 

Let's begin. I didn't take pictures of the first gray section as I didn't think I was going to be doing a tutorial on this and I was really trying to get it done before I had to pick up my second grader from school. But once I got started, I thought I'd better take some pics. Basically, use a large section of t-shirt as your starting piece, adding about another 5-6" to your colorblock width so you can fold it down, like yoga pant style. If you can use the bottom piece of a t-shirt from the hem, all the way up to the armpit, and then use the bottom hem of the t-shirt as your top hem of the skirt that folds down.
I used a white piece from an old t-shirt. I did not measure, just eye balled an appropriate width.

I turned the gray starting piece & white piece inside out, and pinned together. I sewed a 1/4" seam allowance. This particular white shirt did not have side seams, but if you do, match them up.

Next came the orange t-shirt, I could use the piece above the stains and below the arms, so that's where I cut. Again, no measuring for width, just used what I could.

Matched up my seams to what looked like was lined up with the gray since there wasn't any with the white, and sewed a 1/4" seam allowance.

At this point, it's getting a little exciting that it's taking shape!

My last color was an aqua piece from this t-shirt. I wanted to take advantage of the hemmed bottom of this one, so I made sure this would be my bottom piece, then I wouldn't have to hem anything. At this point I tried on the skirt and had my daughter measure from the bottom of the skirt to my ankle bone, plus 1/4" for seam allowance. This would complete the skirt.

Following the other pieces, I pinned together, matching up the seams and sewed. 

And there you have your upcycled maxi skirt! (Not a fan of being the model!) and I normally would not wear these shoes, but I was getting ready for a parent advocate meeting at school so I didn't have time to chase down some flip flops or something summery!

 I may try the whole dress thing starting out with a regular t-shirt as the top like the original tutorial.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Mixer Makeover

This will probably be one of my shortest and easiest posts but it's one that excites me the most! (haha, like that rhyme there?)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Kitchen Aid mixer. I probably use it almost every day. But there's just one teeny tiny thing about it that always sort of bugged me. It was stark white. I'm not a white person - I am a cream person. I do not have any white walls in my house, they are cream. You would be awfully hard pressed to find anything white in my house, besides... well, my Kitchen Aid mixer. We got it for a wedding gift from my parents and I can not express enough how much I love it (and my mother has approved this post!) But 8 years ago, they didn't have the color options they have available today.

For the past few years that I've been on Pinterest, I've noticed the pins where people have done a mixer makeover. Mind you, some of them are with pretty funky colors and have flames & decals, etc. I'm not looking for that.... I just want mine not white. I've been putting it off for a long time because I've been scared to do it. I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good mixer. But, I can safely say I've had a few more DIY projects under my belt since my first inclination to do this, so now I felt much more comfortable. Against the brow scrunching and scrutinizing of my husband, I forged ahead.

First I purchased Rust-Oleum's Appliance paint in Almond at my local home center.

Then I got to work taking the mixer apart. There is a cap on the back of the mixer that hides the wires, etc. that comes off. I then taped up the wires by covering them with a piece of plastic wrap and tape. Took the front knob off where you would put attachments and the metal Kitchen Aid band comes off with 2 screws from the back.  The rest of the knobs, screws and the thing where the whisk attaches to, I taped. I gently used an Exacto knife to trim the tape around the screws. Don't forget to tape the cord too.

Following paint can instructions, start painting your mixer! Make sure you paint evenly and a few coats.

After it's dry, put your mixer back together.

I'm even more in love with my "new" mixer!! (see, my husband had nothing to worry about!)

The before (white) and the after (cream):

All is well in my cream world!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Loaded Zucchini & Bacon Frittata

We love having breakfast for dinner and do frequently when I'm under the gun to try and come up with something quick for dinner. I love omelets, but the stress of not over stuffing it with ingredients and not having it come out like scrambled eggs is too much, so I usually just make scrambled eggs with all the fixin's in them. 

But, the Italians were smart when they came up with their version of the omelet... the frittata. It's an omelet you can load up with goodies and it comes out in perfect shape to eat. Mind you, it's more like a piece of pie, but still... everything is all in pretty form! And when I say loaded... you can put waay more stuff in them than an omelet! Throw in whatever you have on hand.

For this particular frittata I went with zucchini, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, onion, black & kalamata olives and feta cheese. See what I mean by you can load up? I started by cutting up 3 pieces of bacon and a small amount of onion. I cooked those together in a 10.5" iron skillet, removing some bacon grease when done. I'm on a skillet kick - this is my third night in a row cooking in my skillet. I love it!!

Then I threw in the zucchini and mushroom, cooking it all together for a few minutes.

I then added the tomatoes and olives. Aren't all those colors great?

In a separate bowl I whisked together 9 eggs, some milk, pepper, dry mustard and basil. 

Add the egg mixture to your pan of veggies.

Add some feta!

Mmm... doesn't that look yummy? And no stress to keep it in an omelet shape!

Turn the heat down to med-low and cover. 

 Cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until you feel the middle is firm. 

Top with cheese of your choice and stick under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is just starting to brown. Remove and let cool. Frittata is best served room temperature or cooler, but I'm not a "cold food" kind of person, so I just let it cool down some and enjoyed it warm. And enjoy we did!!

I served this with a side salad.  And there was one lone piece left.

What do you or will you put in your frittata?
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Loaded Zucchini & Bacon Frittata (printable version)

chopped onion, to taste
3 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 small can of mushrooms or 2-3 medium fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced & cut into quarters
12-15 grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
several black olives, sliced
several kalamata olives, sliced
9 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp basil
salt & pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese
fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese for topping

In a deeper skillet, cook bacon and onion. Remove excess grease, keeping about 1/2 tablespoon. Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, moving ingredients around in the pan. Add tomatoes and olives and cook a few minutes, also moving ingredients around. 

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mustard, basil, salt & pepper. Add eggs to the pan of veggies along with feta cheese, stirring to mix well. Lower heat to med-low and cover. Cook for about 12-15 minutes, until frittata is firm. Remove from heat and turn on broiler in your oven. Add grated cheese to the top and broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and just starting to brown. Let cool to room temperature or desired warmth. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Easy Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

There's nothing better than knowing exactly what you're eating. This hot fudge sauce has only 6 ingredients - all which you can pronounce. Not to knock on Hershey because I've always been a fan of Hershey products and I'm sure the ingredients are all the same for most brands, but have you read the label of a bottle of Hershey chocolate syrup? First and foremost is High Frutcose Corn syrup and then more corn syrup, water and ends with stuff I can't even pronounce. Wowza. So, I want to share this with you because everyone needs a syrup recipe they can trust. And, it just tastes so much better too! It's nice because it's a quick, easy dessert if you have nothing else planned and it jazzes up plain vanilla ice cream. It's good either hot or cold.

This recipe is the recipe I grew up on. My mom used to make it for us all the time when my brothers and I were in high school back in the 80's. We'd have sundae bars, being able to make these big fancy sundaes. Oddly, my favorite toppings were whipped cream, the fudge syrup and wheat germ. Ice cream has always been an important staple in our family, we rarely were every caught without it in the freezer. And now, I can say my own freezer is the same way. All my kids (& hubby) LOVE ice cream. I can't make this sauce without being taken back to the 80's and remembering making sundaes. Sigh.... thanks mom for the fond memories! XOXO

HOT FUDGE SAUCE (printable version)

2 cups sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
6 tbsp cocoa
2 cups milk
5 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and cocoa. Add milk and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool down slightly before eating. Makes approx 2+ cups of sauce. Enjoy!

The sauce fills 2 half pint Ball jars. Keep one for yourself and pass one on to a friend. They'll love you forever!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Awesome Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Along with most everyone else, chocolate mint is a combo you just never can get enough of. If you are looking for something to fulfill your chocolate mint craving, these babies will certainly do it! I can't deny, I've been known to eat 2 in a sitting. For breakfast. Even though St. Patty's day is just around the corner and these would make the perfect treat, we enjoy them anytime!

They have the perfect chocolate cupcake base, then just the right amount of mint and cream cheese layer, topped with the perfect chocolate buttercream frosting. I mean come on.... how. can. you. go. wrong?

I've shared the perfect chocolate cupcake base recipe (from Hershey) previously, but because I like to share, I will share it again. Then, the cream cheese frosting is adapted from Buddy Valastro's (aka The Cake Boss)  The No-Fail Cream Cheese Frosting he shared on the Rachel Ray show. He uses 2 blocks of cream cheese, which quite frankly I didn't care for. It was waaaay too cream cheese tasting. The chocolate buttercream is my basic go to buttercream frosting recipe. So, I will put everything in one place so you can whip up a batch of these beauties! Trust me, whether they are for a St. Patty's day treat or just because... whoever you make them for will be lucky!!

I got 27 cupcakes out of this recipe and I had leftover mint and chocolate buttercream frosting. I normally don't have leftover buttercream, but I didn't pile it on as high as I normally do if it were the only frosting. It's up to you. You can either half the mint cream cheese recipe or throw the leftovers in the frig and make another batch of cupcakes later. I wouldn't say I had enough of the buttercream left to go halves, so I just put both leftovers in the frig to use again later. I would half the buttercream recipe next time and combine the leftovers. 

Another thing to mention is this cupcake batter is VERY runny. I find it easier to put it in a condiment bottle (I cut the tip a little bigger) and squeeze into the cupcake liners. That way I'm not dribbling all over my pans but if that's all you can do, then do it. But I promise you, you'll be making these cupcakes a lot, so investing in a cheap plastic condiment bottle is a huge help. I still dribbled all over using a ladle!

Ok, on to the good stuff!

Awesome Chocolate Mint Cupcakes (printable version)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable/canola/olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (last batch I used 1 cup of fresh brewed, hot Highlander Grogg coffee)

Heat oven to 350F. Insert cupcake liners into 2 cupcake pans. 

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lower speed to low and gradually pour in boiling water. Be careful, it may splatter. I sometimes like to stir it in slightly with a spatula before turning my mixer back on. Fill prepared cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-17 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mint Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks softened butter
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pure mint extract
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring

Using a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add cream cheese and both extracts and beat until fully mixed. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low until well combined. Also gradually add food color until your shade is achieved. Beat on high until smooth and well combined.

Using a wide frosting spatula, plop a good sized frosting blob on the cupcake. Pat down from the top with the spatula until it smoothes out to the edges. Set aside to be topped with chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter, softened
3+ cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes until creamy. Add cocoa powder and gradually add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Add vanilla and milk or cream, 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary. 

Using a frosting bag and large round (2A) tip, pipe frosting on top of mint frosting. If you don't have a frosting bag and tip, just put frosting inside a ziploc bag, cut one corner off at an angle and pipe from the bag. 


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