Monday, September 6, 2010

Matt here finishing up a quiet and relaxing four day labor-day weekend at home with the family. heading back to work with a busy week of travel. Thoughts of excited anticipation and uncertainty filling our minds, yet no one can foresee the future so it's best not to dwell there. So instead, here's the recent past.. Summer 2010 for the Horn's of Marshall in a stream of non chronological ordered sentence fragments..

  • Hosting our families at Debra and Jaspers b-days celebrations
  • Sowing seeds on the front porch giving life to our garden
  • Mika and Jasper's first real experience of loss as they say goodbye to Nado
  • (happy bonus) Nimba's affection rating with Mika skyrockets
  • RenFest, the Currie Train Museum and Pipestone during a great week with Grandpa John (see montage)
  • Parks, bikes and scooters with a few skinned knees
  • A family summer vacation to Omaha and the Zoo exceeded our expectations
  • Twin Cities for the 4th o July fireworks followed by 2 hours in a parking lot waiting to traffic to unjam.
  • A decent harvest of heirloom tomatoes
  • 20+ jars of various tomato sauces canned
  • swimming lessons.
  • Getting ready for Kindergarten and preschool.
  • The Perfect Luchbox..

Surely there's was more but those were the standout moments from our past few months.

Summer always make me acutely aware of the passage of time. That feeling of having to get it all in before the winter months can be taxing. I guess it was good 'timing' then to watch The Time Travelers Wife. The film focus's on the sadness and grandeur of life and the mystery of time. A familiar plot I find myself in each time I contemplate my past and the future lives of our amazing kids.. Our first lifetime enduring memories are formed during these years so I find myself striving to recreate the same memorable moments I had as a 4-6 yearold. Blanket forts, saving the princess, bike adventures etc..(to future kids, Did it work?)

ugh..My role as a speck in time always becomes so apparent during blog entries - no real point to this other than to thoughtfully address the future audiences of these pages. The internal optimist in me knows it all turns out wonderful.

(posted by: Matt logged in as Debra)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yummy Pizza

I make my own pizza crusts now since I'm gluten free due to migraines and they are good but sometimes you just need something new. The kids LOVE quinoa, so I was thinking a quinoa crust pizza would be good, but they don't love red sauce so I was planning on topping with just cheese but Matt added a cream sauce which was good since it would have been dry without it. We also topped with asparagus, fresh mozzarella, cherve cheese, fresh oregano (from the garden) and fresh tomatoes. Although it took some coaxing for the kids to eat it, they did and I think with a couple more tries they'll love it more. It was the cream sauce that threw them, but this pizza was delicious. The sauce was a combination of shallots, garlic, white wine, parmesean, cream and gluten-free flour. The crust was quinoa cooked with vegetable stock and then mixed with two eggs, a bit more of the GF flour and made into the crust in a non-stick skillet and then flipped and topped and finished off under the broiler.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

So Debra's HD is bursting at the seams and unable to hold any more content. This means no fancy photo-shopped triptych's or Illustrator montages in this months update. Just the natural untouched photos from the past couple of months of our summer out on the prairie. Above, sunsets out the backdoor and Princess Mika with a bouquet of squash blossoms from this mornings trip to the farmers market (soon to be had at dinner in the form of squash blossom quesadillas)

The garden is doing quite despite the 40mph+ force winds from the last half dozen thunderstorms. We have a dozen various varietals of heirloom tomatoes all beginning to bear fruit. A rapidly expanding pumpkin patch (with blossom below), herbs, hot peppers and some cantaloupe. See below:

The kids think the pumpkin plants are alive when they see the tendrils reaching out and spiraling around anything they can find (click on the photos to enlarge)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Day! MAY DAY!!!

This May Day update brought to you by Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers!

Husband Matt here, (who hasn't contributed to the family blog in months) deciding to post some of the images of the kids, Easter eggs and our garden seedlings as we continue the transition from frigid winter to balmy Spring. May gets my vote as the most dynamic and transitionally jarring month in respects to food, produce and cuisine. Highlighted by precious, short seasonal specialties like Morels, ramps, fiddle heads and Fava, spring always reminds me why I love food and cooking.

Tie-dye Easter Eggs, planting our seeds on the front steps in late March and the result 6 weeks later.. all ready for to be transplanted to the garden. about 10 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, variety of hot peppers, melon, herbs etc..

I often wonder if the writings, pictures and short clips from this blog will survive and be handed down as some sort of digital heirloom to future generations of the Horn family... Will Jasper's grand kids read (or merely access the file via a brain interface) these words a century from now and remark at how primitive our lives must of been? I hope they do. Just a few blips of archived time to remind them of how life once was...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Awesome Giveaway

I know, I know, I need to post something about me. I have lots of projects around thea house post-worthy but just need to get to it. In the meantime, check out this giveaway over at I Have A Notion. They have buckets of giveaways right now, but the big one--the one I'd like to win the most is an AccuQuilt, which cuts your fabric exactly for you so your pieces are all the same size.

They also have a great store.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Mail Bag--Tutorial!

So I've never written a tutorial and I'm no expert sewer, in fact, I'm not very precise so please bear with me. When I saw this mail bag online it was unavailable, from a large retailer, so I thought I could make it and gave it a try. I think I did a good job recreating it.

First, you'll need to cut all your pieces. I'm using a quilting weight red for the front and a heavy weight canvas stripe for my lining and applique and straps which I happened to have on hand.

Two pieces 7.5 by 16.5 inches for the back that wraps around to create the front flap. (This measurement is .5 inches less than mine, as I felt it was a little long). It doesn't show it in this photo, but you should also round your corners on this piece and the front. See later photos. I just used about a 2.5" diameter circle and marked it on the back of the piece and with the front and back together I cut them both at the same time.

Two pieces 7.5 x 9 inches for the front. It doesn't show it in this photo, but you should also round your corners on this piece and the back. See later photos. I just used about a 2.5" diameter circle and marked it on the back of the piece with them together and cut them both at the same time.

Two pieces 4 x 17 inches for the straps (since I've made the bag, my daughter has been wearing the bag, as a backpack, instead of hanging it. So if you anticipate your child doing this, you could make your straps longer as 17" is a little tight for my 5 year old)

Two pieces 2.5 x 22.5 for the sides (I also put interfacing on my quilt weight piece so that the bag would have some stability)

With some steam a seam or iron on interfacing attached cut a heart and the word MAIL, you'll also need some rick-rack and I used two sets of dot hook and loop tape (velcroe)

Now lets make the straps. I made them just as you would make bias tape or quilt binding. Iron them down the center horizontally and then press each side towards the center seam again. Now refold and press once more. Also unfold the end and press in about a half inch and press again so all raw edges are encased. I also hand sewed a hook and tape dot on one edge so that it could be undone to fit on our chairs. This isn't entirely necessary depending on your chairs. Ours are wide and if I hadn't done this, they wouldn't have hung well. Now sew all the way around your straps doing and edge seam.

Time to applique. Lets get one thing straight--I'm in not good at this, so don't judge me! On the back piece, (the larger one) using what will be the front of the fabric find the middle and place your heart right side up and pin in place. Now applique that on with a small zig zag stitch and also applique a key hole. Do the same for the word MAIL on the smaller piece which is the front of the mail bag. This will be at the bottom but leave room for the seam. I put it about 3/4 up from the bottom. Once you've finished your applique, put the two main pieces and the side piece with the lining pieces right sides together. Notice how my corners are rounded now. Now we are ready to put in the rick rack and sew these together.

I marked a line on each side at 9" from the non-heart side. Then starting at that mark start pining in your rick-rack right next to your edge. It shouldn't be peeking out at all. Just leave the tail out at the beginning and the end. Wrap around and pin around the corners as best you can and as you are sewing make sure you keep the rickrack even with the edges of your lining and front fabric and stitch all the way around the pieces with a 1/4" stitch (backstitching at the beginning and end) leaving about a 3-4" opening for turning.

Do the same for the front piece and the side piece again leaving openings for turning. Turn and press all pieces and you should have something like this! You don't need to worry about finishing the holes that you left for turning as they will get closed up when sewing the pieces together.

Next sew the side piece to the front piece that says mail on it. Pin it first so that you make sure it is even and matches up nice. I used an edge stitch here and found it easier to stitch with the side facing me as opposed to the front piece. Sew carefully around the corners to avoid puckering. Pressing it flat with my finger as I sewed it worked well for me.

Next pin the straps to the back piece the longer one, slightly under where the rickrack begins. Make sure they are even with each other and sew them on with a X and a square. Maybe you can do a better job than I did. You can also sew your spouse piece of hook and loop tape on at this point as well which would probably be easier than at the end like I did.

Now sew the back to the side, making sure to pin first so that it all matches up well and is even. Again I found it easier to work with the side facing up on the sewing machine.

For the mail slot I marked about a 3.5-4" line and made a narrow rectangle on the top closer to the back of the bag to make sure the mail would go in the bag and just stitched an tight zig zag applique stitch and started a hole with my seam ripper and then cut carefully within the narrow box I had made.

I used some iron on letters I got at Michaels for her name and simply followed the instructions but you could embroider it on at the beginning before you stitch the lining and front together if you are good at that type of thing as well. I think a magnetic purse clasp would be nice as well for the flap but I didn't have two laying around and I have to make two of these so I for went that. I may add a button to the front flap since that is cheaper and my kids need to practice buttons anyway.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rocky Ledge Bars

Ok, so these are almost a staple in our house. I make them often. Everyone loves them. I did make a small change however. The caramel gets a bit too chewy in them so toffee chips work better for us. The kids don't like the chewy bits and I'm not a big caramel fan anyway. Even Matt who loves caramel prefers the toffee, I think it adds that extra bit of saltiness. Anyway they are pretty easy and they make everyone happy. I found that the white chocolate chips are mostly partially hydrogenated.... bla bla bla stuff, so I buy white chocolate baking bars and chop them up. The ingredients actually list white coco first. Also I do not line the pan with parchment. What a waste! I butter and spray with pam, they come out just fine. Yum! These bars are yummy--try them for yourself. Photo from Find the recipe here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We took this video in St. Paul right before Christmas during the big blizzard. Jasper wasn't prompted at all, we think it's pretty cute. It's on YouTube

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweet Dreams Quilt

So this is Mikas' quilt, her birthday was Saturday. It's small, about 38" square. I used almost scraps entirely. The only purchased fabrics were the white, the brown floral, the binding and the minky. I had never done a paper piecing before and the center is done with four and then sewn together. After I did that I really didn't have any clue what I was going to do next. I saw some perfect castle fabric but it isn't due out till January so I decided I should just make castles. That was paper pieced as well. It really was a labor of love since those pieces are small and labor intensive! All in all I do think it turned out great and she does love it. I had never done a star block either so it was all new to me. Perfect quilt to learn on though since any mistakes are minor and a 5 year old is happy regardless.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pagemaps Kit Creations contest

I did this layout based on a pagemaps sketch. I love this photo of the kids. It's from December 2007, but I just did this layout last Friday! I enlarged the cute little deer to make the embroidery. It is really helping me to do it on paper. I may even try fabric one of these days. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bubble boy at the fair

This was the best ride ever! Combined two of the kids favorite things—mermaids and bubbles! This shot was too funny not to post. Mika is distracted looking at the turning mermaid in the center of the ride. Fun at the Minnesota State Fair.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canning, canning, canning!

I think I'm up to 30 pints of marinara sauce now. Three batches. We have no more tomatoes though, so I should be done unless I decide to make some more apple butter. I only did one small batch of that so far but tomorrow we go to the apple orchard again with our play group. Uh oh!

First day of Preschool!

So we've started preschool and it will take some time to get in the groove, especially since it's just two days a week. They like it but it does wear them out since the class is late for Jasper but it was all we could get. We get home at 3:15 or so and then he takes a nap till about 5! Some adjusting time is needed but all in all they are both happy, just tired and a bit whiney at times. Jasper is doing SO well with the potty, which makes me a happy mom! Thank goodness the diaper fairy came and took all his diapers away about 10 days before school. He really did wonders!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Market Skirt

I made this cute skirt for Mika out of scraps from Linkon's quilt and the white was some super cheap fabric I picked up at Walmart. I had to double it so it wouldn't be see through. The pocket called for a cute button, but Mika hasn't gotten over her fear of buttons yet, so no button on this skirt! I only did one pocket so you could see more of the cute Blast Off fabric. It was a perfect skirt for her brothers birthday, since I didn't get a photo of them all that day, I took this one the other day at the park. Kind of goofy, but at least you can see her whole outfit! Find the tutorial here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Matt hanging with the Celebrities

Long ago before Matt and I met, he worked at Cooks on Crocus Hill teaching cooking classes. Some of the classes were co-taught with Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods. Andrew featured Matt on his blog last week, read it all here! How cool is that?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Treasured Items

We went back to my hometown recently for my 20th high school reunion. It was a nice time. The kids had fun swimming in the hotel pool with us and I got to see lots of old friends. One other benefit was stopping in to see my step-grandmother, Pearl. My grandmother died 1982 and my grandfather in 1992 but many of their things are still in the house and Pearl still keeps it pretty much as it was. Unfortunately she was ill and we didn't get to stay and chat long but Matt and I did manage to bring my grandmothers' old treadle sewing machine downstairs and out to our van and now it has found a place in our spare room. We're calling it the vintage room. Pearl also gave me one of the quilts my mother and grandmother made and finished when they were alive so that means so much to me. I love the quilt. The colors and style fit in the room very nicely. It took quite awhile to clean up the machine and table but it was well worth it and it just needs a new belt or I may be able to fix it. The vintage sewing manual has arrived from ebay as the one that was in it had been damaged in a flood long ago. The machine also housed lots of other goodies including two unopened satin blanket bindings and an item we don't know what it is. So if anyone has any ideas, let me know! On a sewing blog, they've suggested that it is a pin frog used for flower arranging which it does look like, Alana and just can't figure out why it was in the sewing table. So now I think our guest room is almost complete. I just need to find our create some artwork. Our chaise is thanks to Wendy and it works perfectly in the room too. Want to come and visit?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cookies--Week 4 and 5

Ok, so I kind of failed on my Lemon Squares review. After searching the MSLiving page, I couldn't find the recipe for the lemon squares that I made out of the cookie book but she has plenty of other lemon bar/square recipes. Matt liked them lots, but I had a couple and that was enough to satisfy my craving. I guess I'm not much of lemon "bar" type of person. They are VERY lemony. Super lemony. Matt loves lemonade and can drink it everyday, twice a day. That is too much for me and if I'm making a bar or cookie, I'd like to indulge in it twice a day but didn't want to with the lemon bars. The kids only liked the crust. Not too surprising. I had him take the pan to work. It came back empty. This recipe also called to line the pan completely in parchment and the butter to lift the bars out which I did not do and the bars came out just fine with a sharp knife so make sure you make them in a glass pan so you don't scratch a metal one.

Surprise Cookies
These were super good. Kids loved them, I loved them. Matt didn't get too many since he was traveling. I'll make some more since I didn't use all of the frosting it called for and we'll make some more in the next day or two. My first batch was a little burnt on the bottom since I kind of forgot that once you baked them for the allotted amount of time you have to top them with the half marshmallow and bake for 2 more minutes. So I recommend baking only 8 minutes and then 3-4 minutes with the marshmallow to get it a little toasty and a more developed flavor to the marshmallow, but that is probably a personal preference. I didn't cover the marshmallow completely with the frosting either so it really isn't a surprise, but that much frosting was a little overkill to me. Our neighbors liked them and the 7 year old boy thought they should be called s'mores cookies. They would just be missing the graham cracker. Martha remarks in the book that it is reminiscent of a hot chocolate. I can go with that. Also the recipe calls for whole milk and I just can't buy a half gallon of it when I'm already buying two kinds of milk--2% worked just fine. (photo taken from the Martha Stewart Cookies book)

Robot Party

Jasper had a wonderful party! He loved that everyone was there to celebrate with him and was excited about his cake. His favorite part of the cake was the little bolt eyes and had to eat them and of course he loved them. They were made of almond paste and very sugary! I think we did pretty good for our first fondant cake. I searched all over the web for Robot cake inspiration but found none. There was one awesome one, that I didn't dare try recreate and it had lots of airbrushing, but don't own a $200 cake decorating airbrush set and it isn't on my list of things to get! I used plastic curtain rod molds for the arms. They held the rods in the box from Jaspers' new book "shelf", when I unpacked the rods, I thought, "hey, this might make a good robot arm!" and it worked perfectly. It was a rainy day so we ended up inside instead of at the park like planned but it was still a nice party. I wish I would have taken more photos. I was hoping to get a photo of all the kids in their robot shirts but completely forgot in all the party revelry. It was a good weekend. We especially loved having all the family and friends here. Thanks to everyone for a great weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Purse on my birthday

My super sweet husband gave me the day off on my birthday last week and I took the day to finish up a skirt for Mika (will post photos later) and make myself a purse. I'm super happy with how it turned out, being my first one. Next time I'll either use a heavier fabric or some interfacing. I had received this fabric in a scraps stack I ordered in hopes to use on a quilt for my sister. Sorry, I just had to use it in the purse. The print was too big for her quilt anyway. The purse pattern is free from a blog and you can find it here. It's called the Buttercup purse and you can also see many versions of it on flickr. That night after a wonderful day to myself of sewing, organizing and getting stuff done, Matt made me my requested birthday dinner of Buffalo Shrimp. Seems like an odd request, but I had them in Florida with my friend Rose years ago and loved them and it's not like we can get them here on the prairie. He made his own batter and buffalo sauce. We ate a pound and a half. Yummy!

I was sick last Monday so I didn't make cookies but I did make some Pinapple Macadamia muffins for our trip up north. They were missing something... we decided it was white chocolate chips. Then I think they'll be a winner! I did make Lemon Bars tonight and will do a review and find a link for the recipe later this week.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Propulsion and projects

Matt really propelled Jasper up into the air today but boy does he love that. Getting the kids to giggle is a specialty of Matt's. Of course Mika had a turn too, but I didn't get as good of a photo. The sun was coming down so this one isn't the best either but it was too cute to pass up posting.

I had to get some photos tonight since Jasper is wearing one of my latest project, his shorts that I finished up on Wednesday. I used the robot fabric left over from Linkons' quilt and the rest is from a mens XLT button-up shirt I got at Goodwill for $3.50. I knew I could find something to use for a pair of shorts there and found the perfect shirt to transform into great looking shorts for Jasper. The pattern is from Oliver + S, it's the Sandbox Pants, but I just shortened them. I'm glad I started with cheap fabric since so much of the pattern was new to me. I did my first button holes and pockets, 4 of them! There was lots of topstitching too which was difficult to line up perfectly with all the fabric underneath, but I think I did pretty good for my first pair. Oh, and Mika is wearing the Pink Fig Girly Skirt I made for her for Christmas. So nice that they like the stuff I make for them. Makes me one happy mom.Jasper has a birthday coming up and tons of books in his room so we gave him an early birthday present today of this...I saw the photos and a tutorial on a blog. The girl who came up with the great idea actually won a $250 gift certificate to Esty for it from Apartment Therapy. It's genius—works perfectly and is much more cost effective that other book storage ideas that we had looked at but were unwilling to pay for. It was super easy as well, now I just need to make a second one as you can see the extra books sitting below. Maybe Christmas. It's just some fabric on a double curtain rod. All I had to do was, cut it out, stitch it together and make the casings for the rods.