Friday, February 26, 2010

Healthier Tuna Salad Sandwich

Hi! My name is Rina aka Mama Bear from Gotta Little Space. You might recognize me as a former monthly Make It From Scratch carnival host! Stephanie invited me to contribute to the MIFS blog and I am super excited to do so!! Thanks Stephanie!!

I love food. A lot. My husband does, too. So does our 2 year old - and his tastes are pretty strange for a toddler! We love trying new things, and being in the kitchen with my hands in a mixing bowl or stirring something up on the stove is where I'm happiest.

Some time ago we realized that eating processed, fake foods wasn't for us
(but don't get me wrong, we enjoy our rare fast food moments - and I'm all about salt and vinegar potato chips!). So we decided to do our best to eat fresh, local, as un-tinkered-with foods as possible.

We're planning a fairly adventurous garden in the backyard of our first house, and we're lucky enough to live in an area that has a massive variety of other fruits and veggies to supplement
(and can, and freeze, and otherwise preserve!).

Last year my family took all of us kids
to California for a vacation, and my husband and I decided we were going to try and drop a bit of weight so we wouldn't be embarrassed to hit the pool or wear clothing to beat the heat.

Enter the
ChangeOne plan: an eating plan that wants to teach you how to lose weight simply, safely and forever. You can click here to view all of the ChangeOne posts
(about the plan, recipes, our experience and of course, our weight loss) on my personal blog, if you so desire.

It worked really, really well for us. My husband and I lost a combined total of 40 pounds in about 3 months - and we ate
more while doing ChangeOne than we did before (and we were gaining weight then, certainly not shedding it!). Unfortunately though, once we returned from California, despite our best (half hearted?) efforts, we strayed from eating properly - and we've both gained back a bit of weight.

So here we are,
starting back up on the ChangeOne plan. We're excited about it because we know it works, and we enjoy the food. One of the lunch recipes provided is for this tuna salad sandwich
(see the picture at the top of the post, click to view it on Flickr). It's really delicious on a grainy, whole wheat bread - add some crunchy lettuce and a few tomato slices, too!

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Serves 2

1 can white or light tuna in water, drained

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon pickle relish

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced onion

3 slices whole wheat bread

lettuce and tomato slices

Place tuna in a bowl and combine with the lemon juice. Add the yogurt, mayo, relish, mustard and onions and combine well.
Line 2 bread slices with the lettuce and tomato (if desired). Top each with half the tuna mixture and the remaining slices of bread.


Tex Mex: replace the relish and mustard with salsa.

Indian: add 1 teaspoon curry powder and 2 tablespoons raisins.

Italian: replace the yogurt and mayo with fat free Italian dressing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Changes are coming to Make it from Scratch. I am very excited, and think that these changes will make this blog a better resource for all of us. First there will be new contributors. Joining Jenn, who regularly blogs at Frugal Front Porch, Kellie, whose home blog is Greenhab, and myself, blogging at Stop the Ride,will be Rina author of Gotta Little Space, Liss, writing down under at Frills in the Hills, and  mom2my9 (soon to be 10) who shares her accumulated wisdom at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.These new contributors will be starting very soon.
Another change that will be coming in about a month: You may notice that all of our new contributors are long time regular hostesses of the Make it from Scratch carnival. Soon they will no longer be hosting the carnival. Carnival hostesses are scheduled through March. After March, the carnival will be hosted right here at Make it from Scratch. The day will be changing from Tuesdays to Thursday's and we will begin to phase out the Blog Carnival submission process and go to a MckLinky type format. I think this will make the carnival much more accessible for readers and participants. 

I know, a lot of changes to keep track of. For now, enjoy the posts from our new (and old) contributors. The changes to the carnival will happen slowly, and I'll be sure to keep you updated. Thank you for support of this blog, carnival, and the bloggers who make it all happen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Carnival #156- I'm late.

Pardon my tardiness. I was just about to post up my carnival picks yesterday when our internet went down. It just came back a little bit ago. So sorry! But on with the good stuff.

This week the carnival is hosted by Liss at Frills in the Hills.  Liss has been a regular hostess around here, but she will no longer be hosting the carnival. Don't be sad. She now will be a contributor to the Make it from Scratch blog. Check out that sidebar. There several new contributors signed up to share with us wonderful made from scratch projects. It is all so exciting, but wait there is more. (Said in my best TV sales announcer voice.)

There are some more changes coming to the Make it from Scratch blog and to the carnival its self. Look for announcements about those changes to come very soon. But for now let's turn our attention back to this week's carnival, and some of my favorites from it.

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Scones
This recipe makes me want to run out and tap a couple of trees!

Dakota Britches
What an easy way to create a cute and practical gift.

How to Reuphoslter a Cushioned Chair
These turned out so nice. And even nicer that her husband completed the task.

Hope you enjoy the carnival this week! Stay tuned to hear from our new contributors and to learn about the changes soon coming!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Easy Faux Fried Chicken

Faux Fried Chicken is easy to make, tastes like fried chicken, and is WAAAYYY healthier for you. Now that I’ve gotten good at baking chicken where it’s not raw in the middle, we will never go back to the greasy fried chicken we ate for so long.

We L-O-V-E Faux Fried Chicken!

Step 1 – Assemble your line up Cheese Nips

In container #1: 1 cup of flour + dash of salt + 1 tsp of pepper, garlic powder, basil, parley flakes, paprika + 1 tbs minced onion mixed with 2 cups of crushed chips, pretzels, crackers, or even cereal make for an excellent crunchy coating.

You can also add red pepper flakes, ground mustard, or cayenne pepper or other spices. For this meal, I used the mixture listed plus 2 cups of crushed Nabisco Cheese Nips.

In container #2: You also need 2 slightly beaten eggs in a separate dish. I also flavor the egg wash with some salt and pepper.

Line up your dishes in this order for fast assembly: chicken, egg wash, flour mixture, baking dish.

Step 2 – Dunk. Roll. Dunk. Roll.

Remove the skin from the chicken. This is not completely necessary but if you are going for a healthy meal then do it. I can’t taste a difference either way so I remove the skin. You may also choose to soak your chicken in a buttermilk marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge to increase flavor. Then again, you may not. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t.

Lightly roll the chicken in the flour mixture. This helps the egg wash stick to the chicken. Dunk your chicken in the egg wash. Roll in the flour mixture again. I like an extra thick crunchy crust on my chicken so I repeat the dunk and roll process.

 flour coated chicken breast

Step 3 – Bake. Cool. Eat.

Place coated chicken on a pan coated with cooking spray. If the chicken has a very thick coating (like mine usually do) then spray the top with a little bit of water to help the top of the flour coating brown off and crunch up. (As you can see in the photo below, I should have sprayed a bit more water on the top of my chicken. Oh well, it still tasted FANTASTIC!) Bake in 425 degree preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes depending on size and quantity of chicken you are cooking. Internal temperature should be around 180 degrees.

Allow the chicken to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to redistribute and makes for a perfectly juicy and wonderfully flavored bird!

faux fried chicken plate

The crust is crunchy and FULL of nine kinds of flavor! This was served with roasted potatoes and herb flavored cheese puffs. So YUMMMM!

What’s happening in your kitchen this week???

Jenn also blogs about food, crafts, and raising a family all on a budget at Frugal Front Porch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clipboard Car Caddy

Kellie is a tree-hugger and craft-addict. She blogs regularly at Greenhab and the Green Phone Booth.

I have finally found something to keep the kids from killing each other while in the car: drawing! Coloring and drawing keeps them occupied for about 30 seconds at a shot at home yet, in the car, it turns into a whole new experience. They make up stories and illustrate them, draw pictures for all of their friends, practice writing letters and numbers. It's like having little alien children that I don't really know. But I'm NOT complaining!

The only thing that doesn't quite work for me is the mess - there's always a zillion stray pieces of paper, crayons under the car seats, colored pencils rolling around, and someone looking for something to press on. After much thought I designed this clipboard caddy that holds paper, pencils (or markers) and crayons.

For the project you'll need a clipboard (mine is 9" wide by 15.5" tall), fabric (I used less than a yard), velcro strips and velcro circles with the sticky back.

From the fabric, cut:
  • two pieces 9.5 x 9.5" (small pocket)
  • two pieces 9.5 x 16" (large pocket)
  • two pieces 9.5 x 15" (lining)
  • one piece 9.5 x 29" (outside)

Let's start with the easiest part - the lining. Take your two 9.5 x 15" pieces, face right sides together and sew along both 15" sides. Sew the bottom too, but leave a large hole for turning the whole project right side out later.

{I've allowed for a strict 1/4" seam allowance, unless otherwise noted.}

Try it on your clipboard just to make sure it fits. It should be snug!

Next we'll make the two pockets. Take the 9.5 x 9.5 pieces, face right sides, sew all the way around leaving a small hole for turning. Turn, press. Repeat with the 9.5 x 16" pieces. Don't worry about sewing up the turning hole yet - we'll catch that later.

Now we'll structure the pockets. Starting with the 9.5 x 9.5 piece, fold the bottom up 2.5 inches and press; fold the top down 2 to 2.25 inches and press.

This is going to be the pocket for crayons, so we're going to make one inch wide pockets, one for each of 8 crayons. Beginning from the left, measure out 1.5 inches and draw a line. From there, make lines every inch. When you get to the other side, you'll be left with another 1.5 inch opening. This is good; this is what we want!

Sew along each line and also up and around the top flap. At this point I also added the sticky velcro circles that will keep the pocket flaps closed.

Now we'll do the same with the bigger pocket. For this one, we'll fold the bottom up 5" and the top down 3". Repeat all the same steps to make little pockets for your colored pencils.

Great job! Now put those to the side for a moment.

Take the 9.5 x 29" piece (this is the outside piece that the pockets will attach to) and fold it in half with the right sides facing OUT, wrong sides together. Press so you'll you exactly where the bottom will be.

Now bring the pockets back and arrange them how you'd like - I put the large pencil pocket on the bottom and the crayon pocket on the top. When you pin them where you'd like, make sure you only pin it to the top layer of fabric.

Sew the pockets onto the fabric by sewing the bottom and both sides but make sure you don't sew the flap part that folds over...because then it wouldn't fold over.

Now that the pockets are sewn on, we can complete that outer bag. Fold the long piece up so that right sides are now facing. Sew the sides closed. Go slow - with the pockets already attached it's a bit bulky and will try to wiggle under your presser foot.

Flip the bag right side out. Insert it into the lining piece so that the bags have right sides facing each other. We're going to sew the tops of each bag together, but we need to insert the velcro strips first. They'll hold the bag securely on the clipboard. Mine fit really snugly, so I think you could probably leave the velcro out but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Cut two sets (one hook, one loop) of velcro. I started with 3" strips and trimmed them down later. On the right side of the bag, about one inch from the end, insert one piece of velcro between the inner and outer bag with the hook (or loop) facing down. Insert the opposite piece (loop if you used the hook on the other side) between the back two pieces of the inner and outer bags, again facing down. Repeat on the left side. It should look like this from the top when you have it all pinned:

I hope that makes sense because it's feeling hard to explain. (I'm also thinking now that you could use ribbon instead of velcro and tie it at the top of the clipboard.)

Sew the tops all the way around, then pull the inside bag out through the hole in the bottom of the lining piece like this:

It may need a little pressing at this point. Gently slide it onto the clipboard. It should fit very snugly. Attach the velcro pieces - you can trim them now too if they're too long.

By sewing the pocket sides and bottom you also created a little pocket where you can store smaller pieces of paper!

Add your pencils, crayons and paper and you're ready to go!

If you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll try to clarify. It's not a hard project at all, just many little things that all need to fit together. It's a lot like making a purse with a lining.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daffodil Cake

Last week in my post here,  I shared with you a couple recipes that I am using to alleviate the never ending flow of eggs into my kitchen. You offered me lots of wonderful suggestions for more ways to use up my egg supply. Jess's suggestion for angel food cake got me reaching for the cookbook. After all, who doesn't like dessert?

I've never made angel food from scratch, so, I pulled out my go to book for basic from scratch recipes, a 1965 edition of the Settlement Cookbook. Not only did I find several recipes and variations for angel food, I also found recipes for sponge cakes and chiffon cakes, all of which use a lot of eggs. We will be trying several of these, but for my first attempt I settled on Daffodil Cake.

I went with this cake because it uses a lot of egg whites, and it uses some of the egg yolks too. Or maybe it was just the name. Daffodils can only remind you of spring. Spring that I am rather impatient for.  The  recipe in pictures:

And the complete recipe:

Daffodil Cake

An angel food cake variation that uses the egg whites ...

See Daffodil Cake on Key Ingredient.

The taste and texture of this cake is different than what I am used to from a commercial angel food cake. It is very good, just not quite what I was expecting. The kids had no problems eating it.

A couple of notes about the recipe:
The recipe indicates it will take 12-13 eggs to get a cup and 1/2 of whites. It took nine of my eggs.

I am not a flour sifter by rule, but this is a recipe I think would greatly benefit from sifting the flour before incorporating it into the batter. Sifting would make it easier to incorporate the flour, and lighten the texture of the entire batter. I will be sifting for this recipe the next time.

Thanks Jess for the great suggestion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carnival #155

This week the carnival is hosted by Jen at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.
Thanks to her for another wonderful hosting job. Here are a few of my favorites from this week's carnival.

Homemade Brown Sugar Scrub

This looks easy to make and luxurious.

Oreo Brownies
Oh do these ever look good!

Book of Days

I am so completely unorganized when it comes to remembering birthdays and special days. These easy do it yourself book would be a great help.

Be sure to see the entire carnival over at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Baked Shrimp Pasta (with some minor changes)

I made this last night after realizing the chicken I planned to bake was still frozen. I knew there was some cream in the fridge, large shrimp in the freezer, and pumpkin puree in the cabinet so surely I could find a recipe utilizing what was on hand. UREKA! I adapted Paula Deen's Pumpkin Baked Ziti recipe to accommodate the ingredients in my pantry.

The result was delicious and tasty but missing “something”. Next time I will add some cayenne, chili powder or paprika for a kick of flavor since I omitted the sausage and all the beautiful flavors it contains. I have to be careful in the heat department. The kids won’t eat it with too much heat but too little….

Well, it’s just bland as cardboard – or what I imagine cardboard would taste like if I actually tried to eat it.

The texture was creamy, herby and smooth. Not at all pumpkiny but next time I will use smaller shrimp or chop my shrimp into bite size chunks so the kids don't have to struggle so much with eating a huge shrimp covered in sauce and pasta. I ate two bowls, hubster ate three and the kids even ate it. It was a great end to Valentine’s Day. This recipe is a definite keeper.

Pumpkin Baked Shrimp Pasta

Here is Paula Deen's Recipe courtesy of Food Network, my alterations are in red. Click here for her original recipe on Food Network.

  • Butter, for greasing I sprayed Pam on my 9x13 casserole dish
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (1 pound turkey sausage, for Richard Simons' version) I sautéed 12 large black tiger shrimp in extra virgin olive oil for about 3 minutes on each side
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion I used one palm full of minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic garlic powder was used here
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 (15-ounces) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves I used 2 tablespoons of dried basil and 1 tsp thyme, paprika, sage, and rosemary each
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (omit ingredient for Richard Simons' version) I used one full cup because the sauce seemed too thick with just the pumpkin and chicken stock
  • 1 pound ziti pasta, cooked (1 pound whole wheat ziti, for Richard Simmons' version) I used large egg noodles cooked 6 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves I used dry parsley
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1/4 cup Parmesan, for Richard Simmons' version) Italian shredded cheese is what I had in the fridge


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter (8) 8-ounce ramekins. Greased 9x13 casserole dishSauteed Black Tiger Shrimp

Cook sausage in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered about 8 minutes. Remove  from skillet with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard any fat from the skillet in excess of 2 tablespoons. Thaw shrimp in cool (not hot) water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain well and toss thawed shrimp in a couple of tablespoons of Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Sautee shrimp in 2 tbs of EVOO over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side (less if you use smaller shrimp). The shrimp is done when it turns pink and the tails start to hold their curl. At this point, you can either chop it into bite sized portions or leave it whole. Set aside.

Add onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and oil to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until soft; about 3 minutes. No need to soften the dried herbs, immediately add these ingredients to the pumpkin puree and chicken stock mixture. Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock and sage and other dry herbs. Mix together and add salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cream and sausage shrimp if you chopped it. Simmer until the sauce comes together and is thickened slightly.

Add cooked pasta and parsley to the skillet and gently toss all the ingredients together to coat. Divide the rigatoni mixture between the 8 prepared ramekins. Place mixed pasta and sauce in casserole dish. Layer the cooked shrimp on top of the mixture. Sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with Parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown. We couldn't wait till it was golden brown and dove in as soon as it was melted. It was still good.

Pumpkin Shrimp Pasta

Tomorrow we’re having Faux Fried Chicken. If it turns out well, I’ll share it with you next Monday. Till then, what are you eating???

Jenn also blogs about food, crafts, and other family friendly activities at Frugal Front Porch.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You can fry 'em, boil 'em, scramble 'em. . .

Our hens have picked up egg production in a big way the last few weeks. Their increased productivity has left me with a refrigerator full of eggs, and sounding a little like Bubba from Foresst Gump talking about his shrimp.

Every morning I ask the kids, "How would you like your eggs? You can have them dippy, scrambled, boiled, in an omelet, or on a sandwich." Their response, "Eggs again?"

I've had to come up with some more interesting ways to use up those eggs.

Pancakes and French Toast are always favorites here. Though, they do use eggs, they don't use them in the quantities I have. I have a couple of other recipes that use up a lot of eggs. Both are quite delicious, and the kids have not yet tired of them. One of is Breakfast Casserole.

Breakfast Casserole

A delicious and easy breakfast. Everything except the baking can ...

See Breakfast Casserole on Key Ingredient.

The other recipe, German Pancakes, was recommended to me by Becca of Bright Haven Days. This isn't your average pancake. It uses a lot of eggs and is scrumptious. Check out the recipe at Allrecipes. A couple of notes about this recipe:

  1. The buttermilk syrup is a must. It is so delicious that my husband said that we should never buy syrup again. I tend to agree with him.
  2. It takes about one and half of this recipe to feed my family of six.
  3. The syrup recipe makes enough for about two batches of the pancakes.

These two recipes have helped keep the eggs from taking over the refrigerator, but I could always use more. What are your favorite egg based recipes?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Carnival #154

Is it snowing where you are? Is there more on the way?

Here, in West Virginia, it has been an unusually cold and snowy winter. I am not a big fan of winter, but when it is here, you've got to make the best of it. It is time to set a fire in the fireplace, and grab a hot cup of something to drink.

Winter is also the perfect time to try new projects. In this week's Make it from Scratch Carnival you will find lots of great recipes and ideas that will help to pass the time these cold winter months.

Keep Warm and Toasty in the Kitchen

Kristia presents Chicken, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas posted at Family Balance Sheet.

SimplyForties presents No Cheese, Vegetable Quiche posted at SimplyForties.

June Tree presents Gourmet Coffee Recipes: Make Your Own Starbucks Coffee Drink posted at The Digerati Life.

OCMomActivities - Katie presents Cost Saving Make at Home Specialty Coffee Recipes posted at OC Mom's Activity Guide.

Abi presents Brownie Butterscotch Explosion posted at lighter side.

Liss presents I can't believe it's this easy to make dog biscuits! posted at Frills in the Hills.

Bobbie Whitehead presents Cabbage and Apples posted at The Backyard Grower.

Make it from Scratch presents Crowd Pleasin Chili posted at Make It From Scratch.

Let the Creativity Flow

Becca presents The Making of a Regency styled apron posted at BrightHaven Days.

RecycleCindy presents Plastic Ditty Bag posted at My Recycled

Beth Terry presents When is Wool Yarn not 100% Wool? posted at Fake Plastic Fish.

Cyndi L presents Snow painting posted at Mixed Media Artist.

Jenny Stowe presents Top 40 Scrapbooking Blogs to Remember posted at Masters In Healthcare.

Wise_Bread presents 10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Get it Right This Valentine's Day and Beyond posted at Wisebread.

Money Saving Projects Big and Small

Darcy presents Dinghy Build posted at Of Winds and Water.

Lindsay presents How to Build a Composting Toilet posted at Off the Urban Grid.

Condo Blues presents Keep in the Heat: Insulate Outlets and Switches posted at Condo Blues.

TSW presents Paying for College: How To Pay For School On Your Own posted at The Smarter Wallet.

Eugene Smith presents How To Make Natural Homemade Soap posted at How to Make You Own Soap.

Bruno Vigneault presents The New Alternative Energy - How To Make Free Electricity With A Magnetic Energy Generator posted at How to make free electricity at home.

Thank you for joining us for the Make it from Scratch Carnival. Next week the carnival will be at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven. Please join us by submitting your posts via Blog Carnival. Enjoy the snow if you have it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Make it Yourself Valentine's Goodies

I've been feeling under the weather for the last couple of weeks but I'm hoping to make several goodies for my oldest son's Valentine's Day party this week.

At the top of my list is brownie pops. A twist on Bakerella's Cake Pop recipe using chocolate brownie goodness and a small heart shaped cookie cutter. Insert a popsicle stick, coat in melted pink candy coating, allow to dry and WHA LA! Brownie Pops. My back up plan, in case this wonderful idea doesn't pan out, is simple heart shaped brownie bits drizzled in caramel.

Another super simple yet very elegant idea is Chocolate Mendiants. I stumbled upon this yesterday while looking around a few new food blogs for some inspiration. Anita at Dessert First dives into where mediants originated and their traditional symbology of this decandent dessert. A modern take on this classic dessert give it limitless possibilities perfect for any occassion. A simple wafer of melted chocolate topped with nuts, fruit, candy, or anything else you can think of. This couldn't be easier to do! PLUS you can totally customize it to you taste or allergy. I would use parchment or wax paper to make removal of the chocolate wafer easier.
Peabody's savory Caramel Topped Marscapone Cheese Tart would be simply PERFECT in individual serving heart shaped tins. I have never used marscapone cheese but I have seen Giada DeLaurentis use it on Food Network and after seeing what Peabody's done with it, I can't wait to give this recipe a try.

Another Valentine's Day treat is chocolate covered strawberries. Culinary Institute of America has a great tutorial on how to cover ANYTHING in chocolate with perfect results.

Cake Central also has plenty of ideas, tutorials, recipes, and how tos. From making marshmallow fondant to how to make gumpaste roses, all you cake making and decorating questions are answered.

So get in the kitchen and start making those Valentine's Day goodies. Don't forget to report back here with what you're making. I'm dying to know - I promise I won't steal borrow it.

*On a completely unrelated note, I MUST find a reason make these Fried Donut Pies from CakeSpy.*

Jenn also blogs about family, food, and crafts at Frugal Front Porch.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine's Day Redux - Heat Therapy Bag

Kellie is a crafter and tree-hugger who blogs regularly at Greenhab and the Green Phone Booth.

I've been working hard on a cute and functional tutorial for you all but, as things often do in the world of sewing, it just didn't quite work out as perfectly as I'd hoped. Instead of giving you a half-baked project, I decided to work on it for a little bit longer.

So today I'm recycling a project from last year around this time - the Heat Therapy Bag, which is a perfect Valentine's Day gift for teachers and daycare providers. Enjoy! I promise to be back soon with a great new project for you.

Heat Therapy Bags ~ A Valentine's Gift

I tried my hand at making some "heat therapy bags" as stocking stuffers at Christmas. They were very well-received by family (or maybe they're just good fakers) so I decided to make some more - complete with tutorial this time - as Valentine's Day gifts for my son's teachers. I've vowed to have a complete Make If From Scratch Valentine's Day this year with no store-bought ticky-tacky junk...thus the reason I'm getting an early start!

If you're not sure what a heat therapy bag is, it's just a little pouch filled with rice, flax seed, buckwheat, whatever you'd like. You pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and it stays warm for long time. It's a life saver for cramps and muscle aches. And I've been tempted to just curl up with it on a few very cold days this winter. Here's the one I made for Christmas...

First I made the insides. No tutorial here because that part was pretty easy. I used some cheap muslin I had laying around and cut it into a 4" by 16" rectangle. Fold in half and sew up, leaving just enough room to stick a funnel in. That's where you'll pour in the rice. (I've seen people use beans too, but I was a little leery of the smell it might give off when heating it in the microwave.)

Mix up a big bowl of rice with a few drops of an essential oil you like - something relaxing like lavender. Then pour it into the bag using a funnel. Stitch up the opening. Since no one will really see this inside part much, I just sewed it leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the outside and trimmed the edges with pinking shears.

Next you'll cut the fabric for your outer bag. I used a decorator weight for this tutorial, but I've also used upholstery weight and a very thin calico as well. They all seem to work just fine. This is the fabric my mom used to wrap up an antique map she gave my husband for Christmas. I thought that was a totally clever idea and thought it only fitting to repurpose the fabric for this project.

Anyhoo...moving on! Cut your fabric in a 4.5" by 18" rectangle. Fold in half with right sides together and pin the top and bottom.

Sew the top and bottom, then turn out. Voila - you have a bag. Easy-peasy! You may want to press it at this point.
Now you'll sew on the velcro which will be used to close the bag so that the inner rice bag doesn't fall out. You can use the little pre-cut pieces of velcro if you'd like. I happened to have this long strip of black, so I just cut it into pieces. you will sew this about 1/4 inch from the top (open end) of the bag on the outside.
Turn the top inch or so in (oh yes, I'm all about precision aren't I?) like so, and press it.

Pin it, then sew a line all the way around the top of the bag. I sewed mine just below the velcro. It's a little fidgety under the machine and you have to be careful not to sew the two layers together. Er, not that I did that...more than once.

Slide the rice bag in and you're just about done.

The last thing I did was to make a little tag with an explanation and instructions. I'm thinking some people might know what was, but others might just think it's a giant hackey-sack. Plus it's a whole lot cuter with a bow and tag. And I'm all about cute.

It says something like "place in the microwave for 2 - 3 minutes, then use on sore muscles or to relieve tension". I also put a disclaimer saying to spot clean and lay flat to dry. I'm not so confident in my mad sewing skillz yet and don't want anyones gift falling apart in the washer.

There you go - four little teacher gifts made from fabric and supplies already in house.

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!