What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

life will be changing! {travel changing pad tutorial}

 With two grandbabies due in early June, what is a Lollee to do?  

Why, buy cute fabric and start stitching, that's what!

I had an idea for making a couple travel-sized changing pads that would fit neatly into diaper bags.  I wanted them to be washable, but most importantly, wipeable, for after those messy changes that inevitably occur when you're far from home.  My first thought was to order some of that adorable laminated cotton that I'm seeing all over the internet.  Cute prints abound, but the price is steeper than I want to pay, around $12 or $13 per yard.  So for the wipeable surface, I went with another idea--flannel-backed vinyl for tablecloths.  

At Joann's there were not many choices of color, other than white, which seemed completely impractical for obvious reasons.  The only color that remotely worked for babies was a fern green.  I purchased a 1/2 yard of that, at 52 inches wide, which would back two changing pads.

Then I ventured off to the nursery prints aisle to find something suitably boyish for Jeremiah (Brad and Hannah's baby) and girlish for Ellee (Jonathan and Abby's baby).  Hannah had told me that she's thinking of using a Noah's Ark theme.  She may or may not go with that, but I couldn't resist the adorable "All Aboard" animal print.  Abby said she just wanted sweet, cottage-y, and girlie.  I couldn't pass by this sweet pastel safari fabric for Ellee, who will be born in Africa.  

I decided to do a tutorial on how I made these.  Mine are a little different from the ones I've seen online, so I figured, why not?  You can buy yardage or fat quarters to use for the outer fabric.

{I'm just going to warn you-- working with vinyl is not like working with cotton.  That is why quilts and heirloom baby garments are made from high quality cottons, not cheap flannel-backed vinyl.  It is difficult to be a perfectionist when working with vinyl.  Just do the best you can and don't worry if your seams aren't perfect.  This isn't an heirloom.  It IS practical and wipeable, though!  These can be washed in the washer, but should be air dried.}

Travel Baby Changing Pad Tutorial
What you need:
  • approximately 15 X 22" piece of print fabric for the outside
  • approximately 15 X 22" piece of flannel-backed vinyl
  • same size piece of polyester batting to go between the layers
  • about 2" long piece of sew-in velcro
  • basting spray (optional)

Trim all your fabrics (including batting) to the size you want.  Really the size is up to you.  I was striving to make mine fit out of 1/2 yard cuts of printed fabric and still have some left over to make coordinating bibs, etc.  

Spray basting the batting to the flannel side of the vinyl works really well to keep it all together.  

Layer the batting, then the vinyl (right side up), then the print fabric (right side down) 

Pin through all the layers in the seam allowance.  You don't want to make unnecessary holes in the vinyl, so pin parallel to the edge of the fabric. 

Don't forget to round the corners like I almost did.  

 Stitch through all the layers, leaving about 4" open for turning.

Carefully turn...

 ...and press with a warm (NOT HOT) iron.  

Topstitching around the whole pad gives it a nice finish and serves the purpose of sewing the opening closed.  

Now lay the pad out and fold it where you like.  I wanted mine to fold in thirds lengthwise, then fold in quarters the other way.  I folded it first to get an idea where to mark.   

I used a Vis-A-Vis marker.  You DO NOT want to do that!!!  I thought the wash-off marker was a good idea but it bled to the white side when I applied a damp cloth to remove the marks.  The marker washed out, no problem, but you don't want to make that mistake.  Exactly how you should mark it, I don't know.  Maybe a fade away pen would work.  I'm not sure.  

Now it's going to fold the other way, both ends toward the center.  I left a little space in the center so it will lay flat when folded. 

Here are all the marks.  It really isn't rocket science.  It's pretty difficult to mess this up.

While you're marking your lines, go ahead and pin your velcro down, so you can do all the rest of the sewing on one trip to the machine.  I just pinned to the printed fabric and not through the vinyl.

Now sew on all those lines, from edge to edge.  This is where you apply what you learned about not being a perfectionist on this project.  The vinyl is likely to slip a little as you sew.  It's ok.  Mine did, too.

Stitch the velcro down really well.  This baby is going to get a lot of use! 

Ellee's finished pad--pretty side....

...and vinyl side, where the baby will lay.  

Folded and velcro'd.  

Two sweet!!!  

But not as sweet as they are!


italian meatball soup

Are you all ready for Christmas?  We are...except for making a big batch of these Christmas cookies tonight.  Then we'll officially be ready!

Our favorite recipe for meatball soup has come in handy during this busy season, so it is only right that I should share it here with you.  My friend Jean gave me this one and it is definitely a keeper.  Every couple of weeks the family asks for it again.  It's a simple family supper, but it's also good enough for company.  Jonathan really likes it.  You should see his reaction when he sees a pot of this stuff simmering on the stove.  It's quite humorous.   He comes over, lifts the lid, sticks his face about as close to the pot as he can, and takes a big whiff.  Then a huge smile spreads across his face.

Since I've committed this one to memory, I can grab all the ingredients when I'm at Aldi without a second thought.  There are only six ingredients: a bag of meatballs, a carton of beef broth, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of mixed vegetables, and 1/2 cup of elbow or any macaroni.  (Jean's original recipe didn't call for the mixed vegetables.)

I double this for our big family.  I triple it for company.  Since we were having company when I took these photos, you're seeing the triple batch.  Don't freak out at the size of my pot.

It's mammoth.

Pour in the meatballs, beef broth and tomatoes.

Add the mixed vegetables and the Italian seasoning.  Bring it all to boil.  Then reduce to a low simmer, covered, for as long as you like.  This could even be cooked in a crock pot on low for hours.  I typically simmer it on the stove for close to an hour.

About a half hour before you plan to eat, toss in the elbow macaroni.  Let it all cook for another 1/2 hour.

Served with a salad and breadsticks, you have a simple, fast, delicious meal.

Italian Meatball Soup

  • 1 bag Italian meatballs
  • 1 32 ounce carton of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can mixed vegetables, undrained
  • 1/2 cup elbow or any macaroni.

Put the first five ingredients into a large pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a slow simmer for 1/2- 1 hour.  Add the elbow macaroni during the last 1/2 hour of cooking.


my mom's apple cake

Here is a simple apple cake recipe that my mother has been making for as long as I can remember.  When my siblings and I were little, she made these every Christmas for us to take to our teachers.  I'll never forget the sweet note to me from my second grade teacher, thanking me for the gift of delicious cake.

Mom used to bake the whole recipe in one tube pan which is what the recipe calls for.  Today I mixed up the batter and baked five small 3X5" cakes to give as gifts.  I reduced the time from 1 hr and 15 min down to 50 minutes and they turned out great.

I was daydreaming and dumped the sugar on top of the apples.  That was not a good idea.  It took a lot of stirring to make sure I had all the sugar incorporated into the batter.   It turned out fine, anyway.  But you'll be better off mixing the sugar with the flour first.

It's a thick, lumpy batter.  Stir well!!

In the pans, ready to bake. 

And cooling on the rack.

Mom's Fresh Apple Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups chopped apples (about 4)
Mix the dry ingredients well.  Mix the oil and eggs and add to the dry ingredients, stirring well.  The batter will be very thick.  Mix in the apples and the nuts.  Pile into a tube or bundt pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

If using smaller pans, reduce the time accordingly.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.

This Christmas, I hope you enjoy baking for the ones you love!


let's make kyle a stocking! {scrappy christmas stocking tutorial

Twenty-nine years ago, back in 1983, I made Tom's and my Christmas stockings out of fabric scraps.  When baby Bradley arrived, I continued with that tradition.  Each new child that came along sent me digging through my scraps again to fashion another stocking.  

They are all similar, yet they are all different.  I wasn't a quilter back then, so I just sewed the strips together, put a back on, added a hanger, and called it finished.  Over the years, I've thought about maybe taking them all apart and quilting them.  I usually entertain that notion for about two minutes before talking myself out of all that extra work.  

I've had several people ask how I construct these stockings, which prompted me to do this tutorial.  Really, they are very simple.  I'll show you step by step what I did to make Kyle's stocking today.  Last year I had three new ones to make, but only finished two.  So Kyle was way overdue for his stocking.  

Bad Lollee!

I used original fabrics from his very adorable nursery which Abby and Jonathan had to dismantle last week when they began packing to move to Lesotho.  Since they can't take his nursery with them, I knew I would preserve some of his fabrics in his stocking.  

These are the original fabrics.  I cut all the strips anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide.  I like to use varying widths.

 These are fabrics I pulled from my stash to complement the original fabrics.

 I cut all the strips and laid them out to get a general idea of color placement.  I placed a completed stocking over the top to make sure I would be able to cut the right shape when I got finished.

 At that point I just started sewing strips together.

Using Hannah's stocking as a pattern, I cut around the part I had completed, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

This is the bottom half...ready to start the top half.  I pretty much copied Hannah's layout, just to save myself some time.  Normally, I try to make an original layout.  But after eleven stockings some repetition is ok.

Because I say so.

The top strips run vertically, with a horizontal strip at the bottom.  Another horizontal strip will run along the very top.  It obviously needs to be trimmed along the top, using the other stocking as a pattern.

I like to embellish with some ric-rac or lace or other gender appropriate trim.  For Kyle, I used this spunky ribbon that Abby picked out for another project.  All the colors work with his nursery colors.  I just sewed it right over a seam between two strips.

At the very top, I embroider everyone's initials.  So here are Kyle's, with the St. Clair initial larger in the center.

I chose a dotty red fabric for the back of his stocking.  Just be sure to lay the right sides together in order to cut the back.  Now sew the front to the back using a 1/4 inch seam, leaving the top open.  

 Turn inside out and press the stocking.

 I turned the top edge down and used a decorative stitch to hem it.

For a hanger, I just used a tie from the bumper pads.  But all you have to do is cut a strip of fabric about 4 inches long and one inch wide.  Fold it neatly to the center lengthwise and create a strip about 3/8 inch wide finished.

 I stitched it securely to the top of the stocking.

 Now it's ready to hang on the same hook with his mama's 1990 vintage stocking.

 ....and his daddy's that I hurriedly stitched four Christmases ago.

And the finished product.  Kyle's sweet stocking.

I love that baby.