weekly pinspiration

i was a little slack on bringing pins to life this week, mostly because i was busy creating a pin of my own. but i did manage to bring one lil' recipe into the real world.

from my eat me! board (that's an alice in wonderland reference, FYI, and nothing more) i wanted to try ye old jalepeno popper grilled cheese.

it did NOT disappoint...unlike my photography and the lighting in our cave/house.

now, i actually have never had the jalapeno poppers that this grilled cheese is an homage to, but i love a straight up grilly chee-cheese and i LOVE jalapenos (these are seeded and cored and broiled with skin removed, so there is almost no heat...just flava-flav, dont be scared!). despite not really getting the reference, this sucker was YUMZ. the cream cheese and the sour dough were awesome little allstar accompaniments to the roasted peppers. this was fast and delicious. total bar food without leaving your home.

one thing the guy didnt include in the recipe was the best way to layer the ingredients. granted, it doesnt really matter a lick as far as taste goes, but since we are working with shredded cheese, crushed chips and pieces of pepper that can scatter or fall out in the cooking process, i think it would have been helpful (especially since i got it wrong and didn't think of a better way until afterward). here's my recommendation:

top bread
cream cheese
tortilla chips
shredded cheese
bottom bread

the cream cheese is the mortar that holds the chippy crumbs in place and this way the shredded cheese is closest to the bottom of the pan and therefore the heat when you first plop it in. this will melt it faster/first and turn the cheese into the glue to hold the peppers in place for when you flip. after both sides have cooked, flip it back to the cheese side-down before you pull it off just to make the cheese extra freshly melted. glue and mortar sammie: scrumptious!

up next is actually not me taking the pinspiration, but someone else. 3 beloved someone elses. and my pin!

backstory: lena and danielle are two of my best friends and they are my kids' godmothers. neither of them have ever sewn before. our other friend elizabeth is living with lena right now and is getting married in january. her fiance is super artsy and handy and designy boo-boo. he is actually sewing their wedding invites. so he had borrowed a friend's sewing machine and set up shop in lena's dining room.

i published yesterday's tutorial and lena went crazy rabid and NEEDED a scarf or six. so she and elizabeth (also a sewing virgin) decided to make my scarf their first ever sewing project. i was so nervous because if my tutorial was awful, then these uber-novices would be marooned out on suck-island all because of me.

imagine my delight when they whipped up their scarves in no time (i only got one distress text involving a seam ripper). they called up danielle, who wanted in on the action and came over with an old dress of hers to use as her fabric and SHE made one too.

i could not have received a better stamp of approval than 3 WAY stylish chicks A: wanting to do my tutorial and then B: executing it perfectly with no experience (granted, they are highly intelligent). i told y'all sewing is easy. and lena was so pleased with how accomplished and competent she felt making a totally useful garment all by herself. it really is the best feeling.

so if you've ever doubted yourself, DONT. anyone can sew! inspiration! rainbows! exclamation!

probably a great idea to take your eyes off of the needle moving rapidly an inch from your fingers.

scarf #1: this fabric was too thick for them to braid so they just modified it and skipped that step to make a simple tub scarf. hello!? first-timers adapting patterns...love it! and love the striped knit

dan gets in on the action. not sure if she is saluting and whistling here or wiping the sweat away. luckily she is staying hydrated with her water nearby.

ag! love it. love the plaid and cream. love her. pretty sure lena forced her to pose with the measuring tape.

navy and ivory and lena: perf. (i spy judah!)

elizabeth is a teacher extraordinaire and went to bed before she could model her scarf but rest assured, it is flawless. these chicks were not coerced, blackmailed or paid in any way by me to try the tutorial. they just saw the prize and grabbed it. they have the hearts of true pinners. what's going to be funny is when all 4 of us show up somewhere with our scarves on.

surely this tutorial will lift me to greatness:

even the angels want one. (and let me save you time: 6. there are 6 chins on my face in this photo).

peace to the out, my homies. tomorrow (10/1) is mine and jesse's 5 year anniversary and we will be spending it...drumroll...APART! all day apart. ugh. but it's by necessity, and we will be truly celebrating next weekend. and then my 29th birthday is sunday, 10/2. nobody gets into october without going through me first! believe dat.


Braided Infinity Scarf: Free Tutorial

I have a tutorial that is forty thrillionty times easier and better than my previous (ahem, first ever...give me some grace!) tutorial.

It is accessible to infinitely more people (you dont have to have a baby, OR a dress to start out with). And it is really simple. there are only 4 lines of stitching total.

Oh, did I mention it's mega cute and chic also?

5 weeks ago I saw this scarf on pinterest. it was pinned by a VERY popular pinner that I follow under her DIY board. I knew I had to make one for myself. but when I followed this "DIY" link, it actually led to a german store where the scarf was 35 Euros ($60 shipped!). No DIY tutorial = no thanks and bum out!

LOVE these colors. must make a yellow and gray one for me. source

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted this, and wanted it CHEAP. I said out loud in our living room, "I am GOING to figure out how to make this for myself."

Then I got busy. the hardest part was figuring out the knot/braid, but Jesse jumped down and took charge like a freaking Eagle Scout. He actually got really handsy and sort of bullied me out of the way. My hackles were up, but no matter! He had figured it out.

High on our success and planning the tutorial that would certainly be "my big break," I tweeted the following:

And then naturally I got sidetracked with sewing orders and running and sleeping and life and never followed through on sharing this with anyone. I never even finished sewing one for myself.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that same pinner (with her tens of thousands of followers) linking to a tutorial for this style of scarf last night! I was SO bummed. my laziness had gotten me beaten to the punch.

Granted, it's not THAT hard to figure out and there is nothing new under the sun, but I had so wanted to be the first on the scene with the DIY how to (character flaw? yes!). I resignedly went over and looked at the tutorial of my idea-twin. But, hey, as it turns out, the way I did mine was pretty different.

The scarf is essentially two big color blocked tubes of fabric "braided" together using square knots. But I noticed the other tutorial attaches the different ends of each tube together by sewing straight across all the layers, thereby closing the tube and forcing it to be flat in the place where the two colors meet up, so you cant twist or rearrange it (imagine a paper towel roll that's been stapled in the middle).

The other (now massively popular and pinned, woe is me!) tutorial is very easy and fast and works great if you don't mind the flat section, but I wanted to keep my scarf tubular all the way around so it would be soft and breezy and not squished. My method to accomplish this a little more tricksy, but I personally like the result much more.

Here's how!

What you need:

-2 long rectangles of fabric. I use cotton and poly/cotton blend jersey knits which are more soft, but almost any fabric  you would want around your neck should work
-thread that is the same color as one of your fabrics
-hand-sewing needle (don't be scared!)

My rectangles are about 60"x18" each which will create a long scarf looped once but also enables doubling. simply adjust the length if you'd prefer a shorter/longer scarf and adjust the width of this rectangle if you prefer a chunkier/thinner scarf. Just compare the look you want to my finished product on me (i am 5'7, FYI).


1. Upcycling/Recycling: You can pull this project off for FREE by using a big t-shirt to create each rectangle (you're probably going to need a XL or larger. Of course: you can always take a few shirts' fabric and piece them together to get the dimensions we need.

cutting along the red dotted lines at the indicated measurements will create a 2-ply (front and back of the shirt) circley-loop that is 15" high and close to 60" around. you will cut one of the sides (if there was a side seam on the shirt, cut there to eliminate it) to get an open rectangle of fabric.

2. Buying Yardage

Another option for fabric is to just use yardage from a fabric store. Jersey knits off of a bolt are typically 58" wide. this means that your rectangle's long edge is accomplished by the width of the fabric straight from the bolt, so you only need to order/have cut around 18" of each color. Fabric.com has an awesome selection of jersey knits AND they have free returns, if you're like me and need to feel your fabric before committing!

I try to stick with cotton or poly/cotton blend jersey, and this Robert Kaufman Laguna collection is excellent and comes in tons of colors, and works out to less than $10 per scarf.

I like the feel of the interlock fabric off the bolt better than t-shirts, but it's totally up to you!  Several readers have sent me pictures of scarves they made from their old t-shirts and they totally rock. it's your world....have it your way.

Fabric PSA complete. We now we return to your regularly scheduled tutorial.

So whatever you did to acquire/create/procure/piece together your approx 60x18" rectangles, you now have your two long rectangles (folded width-wise here because i'm dumb like that)

STEP 1: fold each rectangle lengthwise (aka not like above), matching up the raw longest edge and keeping right sides together if you have a fabric that has a non-patterned side. Sew with a zig-zag stitch  or serge along the long side, backstitching at each end to anchor if sewing:
Repeat for the other rectangle/fabric:

STEP 2: reach your arm inside each rectangle and turn rightside-out. Don't press these seams because we are going for tubular not squashed, remember.  Gotta love a step that forbids ironing!
The resultant two long tubes of fabric.

STEP 3: make your braid. it can be difficult to explain so I have attached pictures of the process and a really quick video of me doing the knots (in which I show what a HUGE nerd i am at the end and Jesse patronizes me silently while taping)
a: make two loops by folding in the middle of each tube- overlap them on on top of the other. b: reach your arm under the crook of the bottom (blue) loop and grab the ends of the top (purple) loop. c: pull the ends of the top loop back through the crook of the bottom and lay them on top of the bottom crook. d: cinch and straighten making sure the knot is in the middle. e: spread the ends of the top loop out and away from each other. f: reach between the top ends and under the bottom crook to grab the tails of the top ends. g: pull the top ends back through the bottom loop. h: pull through to lay them over the bottom loop. i: pull all four ends to cinch the knots tighter j: squnch and shift to make your knots compact. k: twist and adjust and do what you need to to make the knots uniform and pretty. l: admire!

and watch it live (with special price is right hands at the end!):

You're so welcome, world.

NOTE: you can repeat the steps as many times as you like if you want your knot/braid to be longer. these steps make a braid with 3 sets of V's (just like the inspiration scarf), but you could make as many as you like. just keep in mind that every additional V makes your total length a bit shorter.

*IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A DOUBLE BRAIDED SCARF STOP HERE. you can pick up with the steps for that tutorial here.

Now we are going to sew the tubes together for our completed scarf. we want to keep the tubes open on the interior so the layers aren't all squashed together. we are going to sew in the manner you may have used if you have made a reversible garment before. we have to sort of sew our way out of the fabric. here's how--

STEP 4: lay out your finished knot into an X shape. match up the top tails of the X (one from each side/color), bringing the raw circular ends together. you can add in a few twists on each individual tube before matching the ends up to give your finished scarf that twisty swirly look rather than just a straight loop (i didnt twist mine so you can compare that look to the yellow and gray one which was twisted...i will twist next time!).

Top raw tails together, bottom raw tails together. onward to step 5!

STEP 5: find the seams from when you created your tubes in STEP 1 and align them side by side:
nice bandaid...hey, guys rotary cutters are mother flipping sharp. fiskars don't play.


So here are your two raw edges that you have matched up. for reference, I am going to call each layer of this little pita pocket by a number:

STEP 6: pinch the two inner layers together (keeping that long seam aligned...see how mine are both at the bottom?)

STEP 7: Take your pinched together 2 and 3 layer and put them under your presser foot. start sewing, taking care to keep layers 1 and 4 away from the needle and out of the way:

Now since these are tubes, we are dealing with circles, so as you go, what was your 1 and 4 layers, start to come around to the middle and become your 2 and 3 layers that you are sewing. That's okay, keep going:

You can see on the left below where I started stitching. it is coming back around and I am starting to run out of room. What we have done here is essentially sew a small portion of the ends of these tails inside out. You wont be able to complete the circle of stitching because the back door has to remain open for the rest of the scarf to go out of:

STEP 8: you will start really running out of room running up against the long tail of the rest of your scarf. Just go as far as you can WITHOUT stretching the fabric and then backstitch at your stopping point:

When you snip your threads and remove from your machine, this is what you will have: a little almost-circle stitched around the ends and turned inside out around the remaining material. A tortellini of fabric spewing scarfy goodness:

STEP 9: flip the end right side out:

REPEAT STEPS 4-9 with the other two raw ends of your scarf

Tta-da: you have successfully sewed 90% of your tube circumference with an awesome invisible seam:

But there's the 10% you couldn't quite reach (see how my blue has more length at the hole than my purple...it's because i got greedy and did a no-no and stretched my fabric back on step 8. this is why you shouldnt do that...sadface):

STEP 10: We hand sew the little openings closed. grab some coordinating thread and a need and blind stitch that puppy closed.

Mine is wonky on the blue because my open ends weren't even-- due to my truancy in step 8 Yours will be more perfect:

That's it! you're done

Much more difficult for me than this tutorial was trying to get acceptable shots of me wearing the scarf. ugh. jesse almost lost his head because i was so self-conscious and picky. i HATE having my picture taken by myself. why, you ask?

because i need to never been seen by humans.

Jesse took his ball and went home so I had to take the un-looped scarf pic by myself.

I got a lot of free turquoise jersey...that's why it's in all 3 of my last projects...like the camera strap.

Game over!

And here are tons more cute ones i have made since first posting:

the DOUBLE braid version. (tutorial here)

the possibilities are endless!!! getcha some!

and if/WHEN you make one of these beauties for yourself (or if you plan to sell them using my tutorial), would you PLEASE send me a pic? that would just make my life. you can email it (and any questions about the steps or anything else) to putapuredukes (at) gmail (dot) com.

*since a bunch of you asked, I am also now selling these in the colors of your choice in my etsy shop if you're unable or unwilling (no shame in that game!) to make one yourself.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS: I highly recommend washing your scarf in a delicates bag. the braid is sewn in so it can never come "untied;" however, it can get all cattywampus whacked out and be a super puzzler to put back together. keeping it isolated in the wash is a safer way to go, and you might even consider putting a somewhat loose rubber band around the braid as well for extra security.





because i want to tell you about these things but there is no unifying thread. ready, set, go.

since having layla, we havent done respite care for jesse's little sister, elena because i had to make sure i could take care of 2 humans before moving up to 3. now that i (sort of) have life with two kids under control (relative term), we were long over due for an elena spend the night party! she is a trooper and slept on the couch due to all the rooms being full, and we had an awesome time. (why i love elena and proof that judah loved her way back when).

elena is a great stoic picture subject. it is usually IMPOSSIBLE to get her to smile for a photo without enlisting the aid of "do it for your boyfriend!" this was totally unsolicited. she loves the kids and they both LOVE her. judah was flirting and being all shy with her like whoa, and as far as layla was concerned, elena was a MAGNET whom she could not stay away from. it was so cool to see aunt elena in action!

made these bad boys for a high school friends bridesmaids gifts.

missy-sissy is drinking out of a sippy cup now. not exclusively, but during full daylight for sure. she is also starting to get some whole milk in with her nightcap. the end of formula is in sight! hallelujah. i mourn so hard that i have never been able to keep breastfeeding going after i go back to work and they start sleeping through the night, but the thought of still breastfeeding this whirling, walking, flailing, tooth-having humongous dervish also intimidates the junk out of me. you moms who go all the way to 12 months and beyond with the boobs are AMAZING!

anything she can do, i can do...poorer. another raechel creation (cre-raech-on?) that i had to try for myself. LOVE how my camera strap cover turned out. i will say that i spent half the time trying to get the butterfly perfectly centered on the lens cap pocket and finally succeeded! aaaaand then promptly realized that we lost our lens cap long ago. that wouldn't do, so naturally i spent $9 of my keight money on replacing it...because it's so useful? NO! to fill up the little butterfly pocket that i made, doy!

make one (strap cover, not lens cap) yourself using rae's awesome tutorial!

i hit up an awesome consignment shop in our neck of the woods yesterday when i realized layla has hardly ANY clothes for this size and season. we are overflowing with 3-6 month sized things in her drawers and it's such a headache every day to dig through them to find the few current pieces. rotating and keeping up with a growing kids wardrobe is so annoying!

before the consignment shop, i panicked and rashly spent $40 on 65 pieces of 12 month girl's clothes on ebay without actually being able to see all of the pieces. i thought, "well, how bad can it be?" but then i thought of how i hate 75% of girl clothes out there. the package hasnt arrived yet, but i am kind of dreading it. oh well, i will just yard sale the stuff that engages my gag reflex. stupid, stupid keight.

but back to smart keight at the consignment shop. i went in with a budget of $30 wanting to get some good, solid pieces that would go the distance and get weekly wear for lay. most of the stuff in this place is the brands i like (old navy, gap, children's place) and the pieces are about $3-$5. but sometimes the have an X on the tag that means 70% off, so i was really hunting those.

here is everything i got:

childrens place onesie (new with tags), no name black cute sweater, old navy fleece hoodie, children's place sweater.

apple bottom (shame, i know) leggings, old navy cargos, osh kosh overalls, no name jeans, gap bloomers

so the bloomers and the black sweater were all that was 70% off. everything else was the regular $3-$5 price. my total was going to be $25. but i went up to the counter and the lady scanned the bloomers first and then set the computer to 70% off. i guess she forgot to turn it off because i got home and realized that the entire total was $10.17 for everything. i got each of these things for $1.11! that's yardsale cheap without any haggling or digging for sizes.

whats more shocking is that i went to our awesome goodwill store after this and all of their baby clothes (in much worse condition/style/quality) were all $3 each. as if! so i beat goodwill...by a lot! but i did find the kids 3 pairs of shoes for $9 (2 chuck taylors and some dressier shoes for judah) there so i cant hate on goodwill too much.

good times on many levels. you have now been randomized.


true confessions of a snacker

so i am going to tell you my favorite snack. it's a tad embarrassing and unconventional. it has been known to make my friends gag. i was introduced to this when i lived in mexico when i was 22. my mexican "mom" would make it for me all the time...not that it's hard, but it was and remains my favorite go-to easy snack.

set phasers to "judge:"

cold hotdogs (not RAW...they come precooked) with lime juice and ground red pepper.

my mexican mom called them "salchichas con limon," or "sausages with lime." jesse just calls them *eyeroll.* they are SO SO SO good. low-cal, no-effort, high protein, low-fat (i usually get turkey dogs) and lots of flavor.

like a big cold baloney stick with wet spicy-sour sprinkles. YUM!

ok so maybe that tagline isn't the best. but everyone can agree that my plates are the bomb though, right?

are you so grossed out? kind of intrigued? any snacking confessions you'd like to make? give it up, yall.


weekly pinspiration

pinterest is still working its magic on me. i am trying new projects and recipes left and right thanks to the awesome spur of motivation that this sight brings. i thought i'd start a regular little bloggy feature on the outcomes of things that i've pinned and then tried in real life. here was my first one.

this week i took on a recipe and 2 cheap and easy DIY home improvements.

first i tried a yummy looking crock pot recipe from my food board. this one appealed to me because it looked like more than your typical crock pot cheesy-chicken-rice mash up (which i also happen to love). i went my own way with the mushrooms since the kinds the recipe called for were too expensive. we just used baby portobellas.

but i am SO glad i unearthed an unopened bottle of white wine that someone had given us and used it like the recipe called for instead of using some kind of substitute. it made the flavor amazing. if i hadnt found it, i would have bought one of those little 4 packs of miniature wine bottles that i've seen in the grocery store. they seem like a good option to have on hand for cooking, if you're not the kind to finish a bottle after using a 1/2 cup for the recipe. i only drink the classiest, pinkest of wines (i find a 2011 reunite has the subtle undertones of a cherry blowpop dipped in sprite, without being pretentious about it), so the rest of our too-nice-for-me white is turning to vinegar in my fridge right now as i tell myself i will find another use for it.

i literally burned my face several times while this was cooking because i HAD to open the lid and inhale the essence of goodness that was permeating my house as this simmered all day.

angel chicken, by cleverly inspired

what you end up with is really yummy chicken and a TON of the shroomy sauce. serving this NOT over something really isnt an option. we served ours with jasmine rice (she also suggested angel hair pasta) and it was so so so good. there was enough of the sauce liquid/nectar of the gods to totally permeate every bite. two hearty thumbs up for this one!

i LOVE pinterest for consolidating all the handy organization and life-hack ideas that are out there on the web. seriously, there are some smartie-smarts out there solving everyday problems with DOY! solutions that i never could have gotten to on my own.

this is an example. my awful bathroom linen closet. my former method of medicinal organization--more like SNORGINIZATION! (...mmm too far?)--was two baskets fill to brimming with stuff. any time i wanted to find a benadryl or pop a stool softener (childbirth, yallz) i had to guess which basket it was in, get it out on the counter and DIG like one of hagrid's nifflers to unearth my prize. and then i just piled everything back in and pitied the next person who needed to find a single pill or tube in a pinch (ew, stool softener pun not intended). not cool.


LAZY SUSAN! girl gets a bad rap as a slacker, but i've never caught her sleeping on the job.

all but the biggest of my pill bottles, droppers, and tubes fit on this lil' gal that i found at wal-mart for $6. i love how it maximizes shelf depth for a large quantity of small items without having to pull everything out of rifle through them all to get to the back. one spin and i can medicate a world of hurts!

i also put one of these in the kitchen cabinets for my extra spices that arent represented in the good-looking official family spice rack (really, bed, bath and beyond? yall got coriander and fennel seed in the big leagues, but no love for chili powder and ground mustard?)

and then the smaller little blister packages of pills, bandaids and tubes that couldn't stand without assistance went into one of 3 shallow bins (they were like $2 for a 3-pack) that are easily accessible but totally reach-overable to get to the stuff in the back.

loud and proud with the 'roid cream (pregnancy, yallz)

it's really insane how much improved this makes things. it's like you don't realize there was a white noise machine on until someone turns it off and it's like, "hey, that WAS loud. this silence is impeccable!" well, i am starting to see that disorganization and clutter is like white noise for my eyes and stress level. i dont really consciously acknowledge what a headache it is, but it's taking its minute toll, day after day, and when it's finally gone, she-bowz: it's like i've pulled a few leeches off of me that i couldn't even feel slowly sucking the life out of me. and hey, accessible tampons finally, am i right?

NEXT! i spotted this and immediately pinned it to my upcycling board. and like all good DIY pins, i kicked myself for not thinking of it first!

krylon "oil rubbed bronze" spray paint. it might look "black," but it's so much more. it's like antique-y off-black with a yummy bronze sparkle undertone. yes i want to make out with this paint.

nasty old gold door hardware that came with the house

BLAMMO- one awesome before and after. do you KNOW how much new all doorknobs would have cost? this whole project cost $14 (2 can s of primer and 2 of the paint)

i cant even tell you the difference this project makes. the overall impression of our entire house seems so much more high quality and more modern with these "new" fixtures.

we have only done half of the doors so far, but one can of primer and paint ($7 total) did 6 or 7 doors worth of handles, plates, screws and hinges (you need to do it ALL if you want it to look right. make a note of all the pieces that show on a finished door and then paint each one). i am excited to speed through the second half of our house with these now that we both have power drills to speed through the hardware removal and re-installation.

a few friendly tips:

1. figure out a system for spraying and drying your hardware that doesn't involve your bare hand. you can wear gloves or rig up some device for keeping your hardware upright and accessible that doesnt involve to touching it. why, you ask?

dont mind me, just been out destroying some mad horcruxes.

2. spraying the heads of dozens of tiny screws can get messy and wastes paint. i rigged this up in the front yard to avoid both (after dousing my hand a few times first before learning my lesson) i laid out newspaper in the grass and stuck the screws through. then i could spray and let them dry in bulk without having to hold them one at a time.

much better. more fun; less cadaver-handsy.

that's it, peeps. have a great weekend! it's my last one as a 28 year old. gonna do it so right.

p.s. judah is doing so much better. he still looks appalling, but we got an oral steroid from the doctor for the swelling and redness and all the venom is out. now we are just treating the wounds and keeping them clean.