September 30, 2010

fall trends

There was a time, although I can hardly remember now, that I would purchase every fashion magazine on the news stand. I would comb through them for all the latest fashion and cosmetic trends and then work really hard to mimic them. I would count the 100 lipstick shades in my top dresser drawer and you would have NEVER spotted me without my nails in tip top shape and polished. Just ask my sister, I'm sure she would gladly dish the dirt on my glamor-girl days.

Having three messy, hungry children, a husband, a home, an at home business and more interests than I can count has zapped that area of my life for now. You will still find me on occasion with painted nails, you will never see me without makeup but sadly my wardrobe has seen better days. There is not a single fashion magazine in my house but I have every issue of MARTHA from the last 8-10 years and lots of graphic design publications.

Now days I follow home trends and recipes. I spend more time in the local fabric and craft store than I ever did in a cosmetic aisle at the drug store. I get really excited when I get a new planting catalog in the mail and a visit to the local nursery is a must in the spring, summer and fall! I spend a lot of time envisioning decor changes and color options in every room of my home and I absolutely love meeting women that share my interests and zeal for all things family and home.

When I was a teenager I would tell my mom that I was never going to be like her. I was never going to be a stay at home mom. I was going to be a career woman. I was going to climb a corporate ladder somewhere and I was getting out of that small town!

Well, I climbed the ladder for about 6 years after I got married and enjoyed it. I achieved the title of Senior Art Director and I was able to work on high profile projects - or at least they were high profile for the marketing agency I was employed by. I had other agencies making me offers to come work for them and that boosted my ego a bit I have to say. I was proud of my accomplishments and the title I had attained and then we moved for a job my husband was offered.

I'm still using all of my creative energy but in new venues. So stick around and you won't be disappointed!

For today I'll leave you with this...

All shades of purple! It's what is trendy in home decor, cosmetics and fashion so why not for your garden and plantings as well?

On the left is an ornamental cabbage and on the right is the purple hyacinth bean vine. It produces lots of lavender flowers and then in the fall all kinds of deep purple, seed pods which I harvest and save for the following spring.

Happy Fall Planting!

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

September 29, 2010

diy - outdoor pillow covers

This happens to be my 3rd set of pillow covers. I've been making them to change up my front porch decor on a seasonal basis. They are quite simple to construct and a very inexpensive way to give your porch entryway a little sparkle each season! I like to change things with the seasons and if you're like I am, you need to do this on a budget. It will cost about $8 - $10 a yard for outdoor canvas plus the cost of thread and ribbon you can cover two 16.5" x 17" pillows. Now I don't know about you but that is a huge cost savings for me compared to the $30 + per pillow at some of my favorite shops.

Here's where you start...
Grab some pillows that you've got lying around that need some freshening up!

Decide on a color scheme based on your decor or the season. You can get even more in vogue and visit this site to see what's on trend in fashion for the upcoming seasons.

Measure the width and height of your pillows from seam to seam to figure out how much yardage you will need. 1 yd. is sufficient for the size pillows I've been covering.

Head to your local fabric store and choose your fabric, thread and ribbon. If you shop like I do you'll have a wallet full of coupons to use if the items are not on sale already.

When you get home you're first step is to lay your fabric out and get ready to cut. Here's where a large cutting mat, rotary cutter and large clear ruler come in handy. You will thank me for giving you a heads up on this. I wish someone would have told me when I took on my first sewing project. It was baby bedding and I was trying to use my measuring tape, a regular ruler and a pair of scissors to get straight cuts on large pieces of fabric. Needless to say I was talking to a fabric store employee about my frustrations and she pointed me in the direction of those three tools. It was a GOD SEND!!!

Once you've got your measurements add 5/8" (.625") all the way around. So a 16.5" x 17" pillow cover done in this manner needs a 17.75" x 18.25" back piece cut and then the front needs 2 pieces of fabric cut large enough so they overlap when the pillow is completed. The width remains the same but the height will change to 11.25". Now remember you need two pieces cut 11.25 x 18.25". Cut the decorative ribbon that you'll be using to embellish the front to the same width as the fabric. You'll also need ribbon for the ties if you want that detail so make sure you purchase enough.

The last step before you can begin sewing is to fold the bottom half of the top flap and the top half of the bottom flap over 5/8",  iron those folds into place in preparation for top-stitching one of your ribbon choices to the face of the top pillow flap. The top flap is the only one that gets the ribbon embellishments on this particular style.

1. Shows all the cut pieces that go into making this type of pillow cover

2. Wide ribbon pinned to the underside of the top flap in preparation for top-stitching

3. Top-stitching in progress

4. Once the top-stitching has been completed using the wide ribbon, pin the two thin pieces of ribbon into place being careful to keep the ribbon straight. Using a ruler on this step can be helpful. After completing the top flat go ahead and do the top-stitching on the bottom flap. It is actually hidden under the top flap when the cover is complete so adding the ribbon underlay would be a waste.

5. If you are going to attach ribbon ties this is when you'd want to baste them into place. Cut the ribbon to a length that would be sufficient to go around whatever you'd be attaching your pillows to. My ribbon ties needed to be roughly 16". Now measure 3" in from the top two corners of the top flap. Align the ribbon with the top half of the flap and pin. Baste them into place so they don't move when you're sewing the front and back together.

6. Right side of fabric needs to be facing each other. Make sure the top flap is put down first and then the bottom flap. Be careful that the ribbon ties that you basted into place are tucked down into the pillow and aren't in the way of your stitching path. Pin the entire pillow together and then sew around the edges using the 5/8" mark on your machine as your guide.

7. When that's complete clip each of the 4 corners on a diagonal being careful not to cut into your stitches. This step will give your pillow a nice sharp corner when turned right side out.

Voila!!!! You've got yourself a beautiful pillow that won't get blown all over your front porch when the autumn winds a gustin' because you were clever and thought ahead. Your pillow is tied in place with fancy-schmancy, grosgrain ribbon!

I just had to post this last photo. Can you find the hidden picture?

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!!!

Happy Sewing!!!

Jenny K.

September 28, 2010

mary, mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

It's a Terrific Tuesday and I've got a few things to share with you today. First of all did I mention that I love to grow things. There is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from working in the dirt and growing your own food.

First up is arugula also known as rocket lettuce. It does best in cooler temps. If you live in a warmer climate spring and fall are best for growing this green delight. It has a nice spicy bite and works so well when paired with chicken or tuna salad sandwiches. I first planted it in a cedar box in the spring and let it go to seed over the summer. The seeds dropped back into the soil and I have a second crop for this autumn season. This is by far my favorite leaf lettuce. You'll be surprised at how simple it is to grow. I can see your thumb turning green already!

To the right of the arugula is chocolate mint. This herb has a fantastic aroma and can be used as a garnish or put a few sprigs into your coffee grounds in the morning and you'll have chocolate mint flavored coffee. Mint is a very aggressive plant and is also a very easy one to grow. I recommend keeping it in a container unless you have a large area that you need ground cover for. I cut this beautiful herb all the way back a few weeks ago because the summer heat had taken it's toll, gave it a shot of fertilizer and look at the comeback it has made. Chocolate mint winters over well when planted in the ground. If you have it in a container move it into your garage during the cold season. Pull it back out again when it starts to warm up, keep it watered and it will keep performing for you.

TIP FOR PLANTING ON A BUDGET: When your mint plant has gotten some substantial size remove it from it's original container and divide it into sections and replant in new pots for multiples. They will fill their new containers in no time at all and you've saved a few dollars. On top of that this is actually an herb that you can take clippings from. Place the stem end of the mint in moist soil and keep it watered VERY WELL on a daily basis and it will root itself.

Next up is the lovely nasturtium. This is one that your grandmother would have grown. It also has edible leaves and flowers. The leaves are really peppery. Mix them in to your salad for a little twist on the every day lunch fare. Nasturtiums do well in containers but also do quite well when planted in the ground. They produce vibrant yellow, orange and red blooms. They will not only add a little spice to your salad but they will add spice to your landscape or container garden. They need to be consistently pruned all season long. The one shown below on the left was cut all the way back three weeks ago and has made an amazing comeback already.

It's not to late to plant your own lettuce in a container garden because it is a wonderful cool weather crop. Seeds can be found at your local farm and garden store depending on where you are at geographically. The mint and the nasturtiums are best planted next spring.

Happy Planting!!!

Thank you for visiting Blue Sky Confections!!!

Jenny K.

September 27, 2010

Good Morning and a Happy Monday to you!!!!

Saturday and Sunday are always BIG days around this household. My hubby is home and that means more gets accomplished or at least that's what we strive for. We had a community wide yard sale in which my oldest daughter participated. She was trying to sell some of her clothing that does not fit in order to purchase new clothing. She didn't do that well so I will look into other avenues to sell her really nice stuff that is in GREAT condition but just doesn't fit.

Then I took my son to a birthday party for one of the sweetest little one year old girls I know. By the way, she has the most perfect hair you'd ever see on a wee one! I hope she enjoys her little monogrammed bucket bag. Cubby had a BLAST and I enjoyed seeing friends and visiting with everyone there.

That evening I cleaned out some kitchen cabinets because I'm into this purging and cleaning out what's behind closed doors thing now. I know my life is SUPER glamorous!

Then Sunday was filled with lots and lots and lots....

....from top left to bottom right!

I made monkey muffins inspired by the Cheeky Kitchen.

Baked some more french bread for the week only it was a light wheat version. All you need to do is follow the exact same recipe but instead of 7 cups of white bread flour use 6 cups of white bread flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

Crocheted a few more rows to the item in the bottom left corner. That project is going to take me a long time to complete. It's ginormous!

Planted these gorgeous ornamental cabbage in my four window boxes. That was after my dear hubby cleaned out all the old plants and soil from the spring/summer planting. Usually what I plant in the boxes in the spring lasts me through the end of October but because of the incredibly harsh summer we had not much survived. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do... I couldn't have barren window boxes now could I?

Lastly I made homemade applesauce in my crockpot inspired by this blog. It was so yummy! No sugar necessary just a few sprinkles of cinnamon and then let it slow cook all day. It was fabulous served warm as an after dinner dessert last night. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself.

I pray this rainy Monday is just as productive as this past weekend! I've still got a lot on my list... and October and November are jam packed with family adventures and outings so I better get movin'.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!!!!!

Jenny K.

September 26, 2010

Sunday Seven

My friend Cindy, over at Happy Little Studio, was posting seven things she is grateful for each Sunday. So before I had a blog I did a few Sunday Seven's on my Facebook page and this morning decided to post these on my blog to start the day out with an "Attitude of Gratitude".

1. I am so thankful for the RAIN that is falling this morning and I pray that it continues. Our summer has been so dry and all the plants are so stressed not to mention our water reservoirs.

2. I am thankful for my beautiful children and I love them unconditionally. They make me crazy most days but I love all of their little idiosyncrasies and the way they love me unconditionally.

3. I am thankful for my amazing husband and his strength. He remains my rock and my soft place to fall.

4. I am thankful for my husband's understanding and his appreciation for what I'm doing when I have a million projects going at once.

5. I am thankful for finally completing my 2009 Family Photo Book. Now it's on to the 2010 Photo Book.

6. I am thankful for the riding lessons that my oldest daughter started this past week and will continue until Thanksgiving. The farm is beautiful, she gets to hone her skills and I enjoy watching her ride while the two youngest play in the wide open. Maybe one day soon I'll get to take some lessons too. Really, I'd just like to ride.

7. Last but by far not least, I am so thankful for my Saviour Jesus Christ. I am thankful that he loves me in spite of me. In spite of all my shortcomings and failures.

I hope this inspires you to write your own Sunday Seven and keep the chain going. I find that I'm so much more productive when I start my day out with thankfulness in my heart rather than thinking about what is wrong. Thanks Cindy for inspiring this and I thank the one that inspired you as well.

Have a JOY filled Sunday.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

September 25, 2010

Blog Banner Design GIVEAWAY - Winner Announced

Isn't this exciting......

The names went into a hat, my husbands Green Bay Packer baseball cap to be specific, and my oldest daughter drew a slip of paper out. On that paper was the name Stacey. You are one lucky girl!!! Thanks Stacey for entering the giveaway. Gather any photo's you would like to use as well as the title, caption and color preferences. Send everything to me via email and I'll get to work on creating a new banner for your blog.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections today!

Jenny K.

September 24, 2010

what are you thinking about?

This morning I've got a lot on my mind. I'm thinking about what I'd like to get accomplished for the day. I'm considering hauling my kids up to WalMart or Target and purchasing some storage bins so I can more effectively organize some of my closet spaces. This task was inspired by my friend Leah over at Places Called Home who recently published an article on her blog about closet cleaning and storage. There just so happens to be a community wide yard sale tomorrow so it's the perfect time to purge.

I'm thinking about the giveaway that I am announcing a winner for tomorrow on my blog. I've only had TWO people enter. I guess there weren't many people at the 5k that blog or know of someone that blogs. So that's the bad news! The GOOD news is I'm going to open the blog banner design giveaway to everyone out there in the blogosphere. SO if you are a blogger or you know someone who blogs enter this giveaway by FIRST visiting my website "O" Design Factory", flip through my portfolio and then come back here to my blog and leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite portfolio piece happens to be. Scroll down to where it says [COMMENT] click on it and type away. You don't have to have a google account to leave a comment. You can do so anonymously. Just be sure to leave your email address in the comment so I have a way of contacting you if your name is drawn. I really hope I get more responses this time.

So back to my thoughts for the day...

I want to get my daughter started in riding lessons for this fall but her school bus route has changed and she's getting home almost a full hour later and that gives us no time at all to get to lessons. Doesn't she look so happy with a horse beside her though. I may have to arrange something with the instructor. I hope she can make an exception.

I'm also thinking about a new friend I made, Jen, from Green Hearts Farm. She gave me a jar of the most amazing Damson Plum Preserves. It tastes like it's been simmered with wine and pairs wonderfully with the light wheat bread I made this week. She does a farmers market in Short Pump with all of her homemade goodies and fresh produce. If you travel to that area you need to check out her stand on Saturday mornings.

My neighbors are in my thoughts today as they participate in the Ragnar Relay. It's going to be a hot one and I hope they keep themselves hydrated! Keep up the amazing accomplishments you guys!!!

There's a lot more but I'll have to save that for another time. I must wrangle my kids into the car and head to the mad house they call WalMart so I can get to work on my remaining closets.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections today!!!

Stay tuned... I hope to post another completed project very soon.

September 23, 2010

monogrammed bucket bags for wee ones

As promised I am posting the first completed project. Tiny, monogrammed, bucket bags for SOME of my favorite, little gals. While I was cutting the fabric I had some interesting scrap cuts that I may just turn into an additional little frill so stay tuned.

Let me give credit where credit is due: I got the inspiration and the how-to's from this book "The Perfect Handmade Bag" and then I added the personalized detail with wool felt purchased from "The Heather Bailey Store" Heather has a great variety of fun colors.

The best purchases that have made my introductory to sewing so much easier are a large cutting mat, a rotary cutter and a large clear ruler. All can be found at your local fabric store and if you watch sale fliers and coupons you can get some good deals.

Supplies you will need for one bag:
2 pieces of main fabric and 2 pieces of lining fabric
each 10 1/2 x 8 1/4"

2 pieces of main fabric and 2 pieces of lining fabric
each 2 1/4 x 12" for handles



The book has great details on how to make your own. Check it out and sew up some great little personalized gifts for the bitty gals in your life. Then fill them with tiny treasures or goodies.

For Monogramming:
  1. Purchase felt that works well with the fabric color scheme
  2. Pick out a clean, block font on your computer
  3. Type out the initials you want to use and enlarge them to at least 250 pts. making sure they will comfortably fit on the face of the bag
  4. Outline the font and leave the inside white that way you're not wasting a lot of printer ink
  5. Lay the print over the felt and cut out the letter staying as close to the lines as possible
  6. Use fine tip scissors to get the corners sharp
  7. Use a steady hand when sewing the letter to the bag
  8. If you think you might accidentally shift the letter while sewing, angle it slightly and make it look intentional

Fun tip: I used the salvage edge of the red gingham fabric for the little tag on the side of the bag. It has a great fringed edge and gives the bag added personality.

As I was finishing the bags up last night my 3 yr. old son was stressing that he wanted a purse for himself. I told him I would make him a tool belt instead. He was okay with that but still insists that I make him a purse too!

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections. I hope you've been inspired.

Jenny K.

September 21, 2010

a penny for your thoughts

My hubby spotted this tiny creature on our deck this past weekend and encouraged me to photograph it's wonderment. Well, he didn't say "wonderment", that's me. He just said, "hey, you should take a picture of this thing".

I have no idea what in the world it is. It almost looks like a tiny starfish but it has a caterpillar like body underneath all of those arms. Does anyone out there in the blogosphere have any knowledge on this? Has anyone ever seen one before?

Maybe my husband has discovered a new species and scientists will come from miles and miles around to study this bitty creature in our very own back yard. His name will be printed in all the ecological and scientific magazines and books and then they'll name this fuzzy, orange colored insect after him.

I appreciate you visiting Blue Sky Confections today!!!

Jenny K.

September 20, 2010

happy monday - upcoming projects and tutorials

This morning happens to be a gorgeous, autumn morning. The air is cool and crisp, the wind is blowing ever so slightly, my windows are open, a flock of geese flew over the house headed for their winter homes and I have a hot cup of coffee. Need I say more?

Well, except for... I had to clean up moon sand, sawdust, pizza sauce and dog urine off of my deck first thing this morning. Yes, my hubby was in charge of the kids for a short few hours late yesterday afternoon so I could run some errands and well lets just say clean up is not his strong suit! I love him dearly!!! That's all I'm going to say on the subject. ;~)

The above photo's are a handful of projects I've got going simultaneously. In a previous post a couple weeks back I made it clear how the autumn season seems to send me into overdrive. Stay tuned for finished projects and some tutorials on how to make some of the items yourself if you'd like.

I can't forget this lovely piece of furniture that is undergoing a much needed makeover. I won't give you much detail now other than it involves 1, 2, 3, 4.... paint colors. Yes, I said FOUR! Let's see how long it takes me.

Happy Monday with much love!

Jenny K.

September 17, 2010

free blog banner design to one lucky winner

You may recall my post last week about the business cards and the postcards that I was bragging about. Well here is where the postcards come into play. Tomorrow is the LSV 5k Race. Now because I was a design contributor to the race I was able to drop these little pretties into the race bags that go into the hands of all the registered runners. If the runners follow the instructions and leave a comment and become a follower of my blog they will be entered into a drawing to win a blog banner design for there very own blog or the blog of a friend or family member.

I am a graphic designer by trade and am continually looking for ways to grow my business. I see this as an opportunity to meet new people that want to build positive relationships that allow uncommon success and creativity to grow!

In order to be entered into this giveaway check out my website tell me what your favorite portfolio piece happens to be and YOU MUST LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST AND BECOME A FOLLOWER OF BLUE SKY CONFECTIONS.

Good luck. The winner will be announced on September 25th. You will be notified by email so PLEASE leave your email address in the comment. Isn't this exciting?!?!?! It's my first official GIVEAWAY!

September 16, 2010

brown sugar, cinnamon swirl, raisin bread

I wanted to hit the ground running so to kick off the beginning of my serious blogging about a month ago I did a little neighbor giveaway. I handed out a jar of fresh salsa to a few close by neighbors that were home at the time and asked them to check out my blog, become a follower, spread the word to friends and they would be entered into a giveaway for a loaf of this yummy sweet bread. I had a couple that responded to the call and the winner was Stacey B. I hand delivered this loaf of fresh sweetness last week, with a thank you note for participating. I really hope she and her family enjoyed it toasted and smothered in butter.

1 Tbsp. Active Dry Yeast
3 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 c Warm Water (110° - 119° F)
1 c Warm Milk (110° - 119° F)
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Egg
6 - 6 1/4 c Bread Flour, plus more as needed
3/4 c Golden Raisins
3/4 c Dark Raisins

For the Filling:
2/3 c Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
4 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

In a small bowl, add the yeast, a pinch of sugar and a 1/2 cup of the warm water, stir and let dissolve. You want to let this yeast mixture proof until it gets foamy. 1. is of the mixture when it's first starting out... 2. is of the mixture when it's ready to use. Now I've gone to change diapers, or clean up a mess and have come back to the foamy mixture spilling over the side of the bowl. I still used it and the bread turned out fine.

September 9, 2010

look what the UPS guy dropped off at my door yesterday...

My swank, new business cards for "O" Design Factory. They match my updated website. I was handing out old cards to potential clients that look nothing like my website so it was about time. That is a huge faux pas when you're a graphic designer, if you know what I mean!

September 6, 2010

back to school bread baking basics

I really enjoy baking but my absolute favorite thing to bake is bread. I've tried several recipes and this one is definitely a front runner. Mainly because there are very few ingredients and it's so simple to throw together. You can find the original recipe in the KitchenAid® Mixer cookbook that comes standard with the machine when you buy it. Yield is two full size loaves of bread.

Ingredient List:
7 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water (115º )
2 packets of yeast or 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tbls. melted butter
1 tbls. salt
cornmeal for dusting

Tools Needed:
KitchenAid® mixer
Measuring utensils
Baking stone
Large glass bowl
Temperature gauge

September 2, 2010

longing for cool, crisp, fall weather and beautiful, autumn colors

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the crisp, clean air, the fall colors, pumpkin patches and apple festivals. I have a passion for baking pies, doughnuts, apple dumplings and breads when the air is brisk and my family likes eating all of those goodies with that cool, weather snap. Mmmmm.. Mmmmm...

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