Month: April 2014

the Matinee Dress Tour

Check out this perfect dress with a peplum skirt that is perfect for sassing around and showing off!

Jenn from A Jennuine Life released her first pattern this week!  It’s the Matinee Dress!

I was a lucky lady in her testing group!  Not only did I meet Jenn, a great mom-blogger-designer, but I also met some great sewing ladies in her pattern group – virtually of course.  We tested the pattern, Jenn edited, we reviewed, Jenn polished, and out came this wonderful pattern for girls.

The bateau top… the fancy back line… the gathered skirt… the cap sleeves… and the buttons and sash… oh my!  I adore this look on the little girls! 

Such a unique style… and the pattern offers so many options to change it up, either the dress style or the peplum style.  With or without cap sleeves.  With or without the hem band.  AND then you can sass it up with different fabrics and show off cool buttons.

I tested the peplum style with the cap sleeves.  I found the layouts to be easy to work with, and the sewing to be straight forward.  And the result, I think, is super good looking!  There were so many admirers, especially of the unique design of the back with the buttoned sash.

And the daughter LOVED IT… she wore it 3 days in a row – happily for me, it washes up nice 🙂

After I tested the peplum, and saw the gorgeously-cute dresses from the other ladies, I knew I had to sew up a dress too.

The pattern is for sizes 12 months thru 8 years.  Jenn has gone the extra mile to include layers in the PDF pattern printing so that you can simply print the size you want… if you haven’t worked with a layered pattern before, once you try this one, you will agree layers ROCK!

Jenn has included details to get the perfect fit for your girl, even if your girl needs a combination of sizes to accommodate a smaller torso or longer legs, or vice-versa.

The instructions include amazing illustrations with the step-by-step details for you to make your own Matinee Dress.  With her amazing talents and devotion, Jenn has created a professional pattern that you can purchase through her Etsy shop at Jennuine Design (use code MATINEE20 for a discount thru 4/25/2014, that’s tomorrow, so hurry!) or at Craftsy (discount priced thru 4/25/2014).

Be sure to visit A Jennuine Life to see more about the Matinee Dress Pattern… and to see the other amazing dresses from the testing group.

Thanks Jenn for all the testing fun!  And thanks y’all for visiting my blog!


If you ohhhh & awwww’ed over the Matinee Dress and Peplum, then leave me a comment to tell me so…

*** forgot to mention the POCKETS!  It’s that extra special detail from Jenn that makes this a dress that every girl loves!

Recipe: 1-2-3 Beef Stew

Growing up, one of our staple meals was 1-2-3 Beef Stew.  I don’t know where Mom learned the recipe, but it’s probably some wives’ club or bridge club or a PTA meeting from back in the day.  When my sister and I left the nest for our own places, this recipe came with us for when we needed an easy meal that might impress our guests.

The recipe is easy… Mom said, “It’s 3 ingredients: meat, mushroom soup, and onion soup, for 3 hours at 300. Easy as 1-2-3.”, and still to this day she follows up with, “and don’t add water! and don’t cook it faster or at higher temperature!”

While the recipe has been enhanced over the years and variations have been tried, the heart of Mom’s recipe stays the same and tastes the best.  And always, always reminds me (and makes me a bit sentimental) of my growing up days at HOME with Mom, Dad, and my Sister.

Here is my version of Mom’s recipe.

4 pounds of Stew Meat
2 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 packets of dry Onion Soup Mix
8 medium size Mushrooms

Spray a large Casserole Dish with non-stick – spray the lid too.  Slice the Mushrooms.  Mix all the ingredients in the dish. 

Put the lid on. Put in the oven on 300 degrees.

Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with Wide Egg Noodles and a veggie.

This is a family favorite at the box.  We have tried it with mashed potatoes and rice too, but the w-i-d-e noodles are the best for collecting a lot of the cream sauce with each bite.  We really like the sauce which is why I use 2 cans of soup.  The dish can be salty, so I prefer the low sodium soup.

And as Mom says, “don’t add water!  and don’t adjust the cooking time or temperature!”

Voila, easy as 1-2-3… and usually there are leftovers to enjoy another night.

From-a-Box Easter Egg Girl

Easter Girl

This didn’t start out to dress the daughter as an Easter egg… but turns out, she does look like an Easter egg in this outfit!

I wanted to use The Cottage Mama’s Classic A-Line pattern for a top with a round collar and shorter sleeves, and then wrap it in ribbons.  The daughter had to have pink and purple, so this is the result.

The sleeves are not lined, but the blouse is lined according to the pattern.

Then I used The Cottage Mama’s Vintage Shorts pattern without the ruffles, and wrapped some ric-rac around the hem and the pocket.

Instead of adding the gathers in the sleeve, I made little tucks… I like it!

Next time, I think some interfacing in the front band of the shorts will make the fit better.  But otherwise, once again, the patterns worked up great!

Overall, the outfit is cute, and I am happy with the result – AND she looks like an Easter egg.

Pattern: Classic A-Line Top by The Cottage Mama, from her Sew Classic Clothes for Girls book
Fabric: Pink Gingham and Tula Pink Acacia Butterfly Wings
Trim: Tula Pink Birds & Bees and various others

Stitched by Stacey Morales from a box

Happenin’ at the box? New Carpet on its way

Quick update on the box.

The paint is dry and now its time for new carpet.  Remember the deciding point on the carpet…

Of course I would have poured my bottle of red wine throughout the house to get new carpet. 

The current carpet, I am sure was lovely at one time, and perfect for the house of a decorator.  But for our family of 5 people and 2 cats, it doesn’t work. 

The color is white (well, aged and dirtied white now), its wool (yes I understand that is great warmth for this climate, and I understand that is expensive, yada, yada), and its looped (perfect for grabbing with doll strollers, star wars models, and cat claws).  The youngest one grabbed an undone loop when we first got here and pulled – She excitedly called for Mom to show the popping effect across the floor as she pulled more.  See, this carpet is not for us, hence when I accidently spilled coffee in a prominent location on the stairs, and then ‘accidently’ spilled a bit more, I secretly rejoiced.

So, we returned to our flooring specialist (Bill at Great Floors).  Reminded him of our situation and flooring desires (want ‘economical’ to support us for another few years here).  He turned us on to an in-stock carpet, blah, blah, blah… the install is scheduled for next week. WOOHOO!

oh but wait, it couldn’t be that simple…

The floor measure guy came to the box to get the official measurements of the carpet area.  As he was leaving, he mentioned that all of the new baseboards (remember from here) that he said “looked like a million bucks” needed to come off the wall and be reset for install because the boards were too close to the carpet.  errrrrrrkkkkkk! (that’s the slamming on the car brakes noise)  Based on my reaction, the guy ended the visit with, “sorry to give you bad news… I will tell Bill too”.

Here is the picture he took to show the problem.

After I got the expected response from the Husband to this news, “Well, that’s a non-starter. No new carpet”  and he found a remnant in the garage that “would be perfect to replace the coffee stained step”, I had to decide the best option for me and my bottle of red wine.  I could get the Husband drunk and convince him to replace the carpet.  I could pour my bottle of red wine throughout the house and force the new carpet.  Or, I could drink it myself and at least feel better for a while.

But no, I went to my sewing drawer!!! Cause I know that sewing makes it all better.

I ripped back the corner of carpet and snapped these pictures using my handy seam gauge.

Looks like plenty of room under the baseboards to me…

In conclusion, Bill said that based on my evidence (measurement with a seam gauge) compared to the floor measure guy’s evidence (crappy cell phone pic).  The baseboards will be fine, and he would check into an eye test for their employees.  I really like Bill!

So, the new carpet install is scheduled for next week.

Stay tuned for big reveals of the updated box.

(and its ok to comment on how gross the carpet looks)

Testing… Testing… this is only a Test

This is not ONLY a test.  This is some kind of incredible fun!

I submitted myself to be a pattern tester for a few designers, and I was lucky to get invited onboard to test along with some lovely ladies. 
So the way this works (I have recently discovered) — Pattern designers draft their original patterns, complete the instructions to accompany the pattern, and then select testers to try out the pattern in all the various sizes and options.  The testers agree to return valuable feedback in addition to pictures of the completed item to the designer.  The designer uses the tester’s feedback to improve their pattern for market.
It’s a win-win arrangement!  The testers get first chance at a new pattern for free, in exchange for critical feedback to the designer.  Plus, the testers have a new high priority project with a built-in deadline with immediate value to all!  I am always ready for a new project.  And, the deadline with a designer relying on me, is just the motivation needed to also complete the project.  Who couldn’t love a deal like this?!!! 
There is no ‘pay’ involved… so I still have to keep my day job… but as my insightful sister pointed out, “Enjoyment is a form of payment”… doesn’t that sound lovely!
I have three tests completed that will release soon, and two tests to start (and complete) in the next couple of weeks.  Once the pattern is officially released to the market, the designer could choose to include my pictures and possibly link to my blog to show off my creations of her new pattern.  It is just so EXCITING!
And since the designers don’t want their not-yet-released patterns out on the street, I cannot share the results yet… BOO… but I can share the super cute fabric and trims that I am working with.
Stay tuned… some amazing patterns are about to be released, and I hope my creations of them will be shown off!  (at least I know I will be showing them off here) 

Happenin’ at the box? Paint, Paint, & more Paint

Besides spring getting sprung at the box… Check out all the light!

The inside of the box is getting some much needed updating.

After accepting the fact that we will not pull out the painting supplies anytime soon due to lack of interest in the work of it, we found a team of awesome painter ladies… that’s right, a couple of girls that paint houses.  They are young women that are not afraid of sandpaper, caulk and wood putty, paint machines, long pole rollers, and tall ladders with scaffolding, and know how to use all of these. Plus, these women have the organization and management skills to make them better than great! The ‘painter ladies’ as we call them, showed up every morning exacting on time with a plan to complete the work in an organized fashion.  Starting with the upstairs mouldings and stair banister, then the second story ceilings, and today they will start the walls.

But first, you need to understand where the box started… you will see that I clearly marked all of the pictures as BEFORE so there is no impression that I am responsible for this.

(althou, I am responsible for the Daughter’s name painted on the wall in the test color… hoping I didn’t set a precedence that gets her in trouble later)

front room and dining room are in this orange fruity color that matched perfectly with previous owners, and is a lovely color when used in moderation, and not on the walls of our box

Collette is also happy that the painting is happening

ah, more orange… this is the front room and the dining room…
and the Zazzles Cat

orange, even in the front hall niche

The Husband changed out all of the mouldings and trim to this more updated mill work.  He did an awesome job and worked many late nights with the chop saw.  It made me proud when the neighbors asked what was going on at the box – although they probably noticed the action over here when the chop saw and shop vac noise got their attention at midnight… sorry y’all.
yes, that is track lighting at the top of the stairs…
no offense to track lighting lovers, but it is not going back up

see the year’s worth of color testing on the walls

upstairs hall… the doors are staying brown and louvered, but with white trim

Here are the paint colors we selected… quite different from orange.

I am anxious to show off the results at the end of the week.  And will be so happy to have this paint job off the box-to-do-list!