How To Make A Tie Apron

TIe Apron

My grandma sent me a couple of pictures of an apron she had made out of ties the other day and it was so cute and creative I told her it had to be shared on my blog. My grandma has always been crafty and would sew us all kinds of stuff when we were kids. I’m not shocked that she made something as clever as an apron out of ties. She was sweet enough to take some pictures and write out, step by step, the instructions on how to make one. I will share what she wrote below :)

IMG_0327Meet my Grami :)

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Let’s make an apron out of ties. Are you out of your mind? It will be pretty and colorful, you just wait and see. It’s fun to go to a thrift shop. There are many treasures and a “lot of stuff” there. Look at the ties. They are so beautiful and colorful. So what could you do with them? Have you ever thought of making an apron out of ties? They usually sell for $1 each, but if you are buying nine ties, they will usually let you have them for .50 each ($3.00).

Well I’m going to tell you how to do it step by step. Here goes.

1. Select nine ties that look good together. Tans, browns, blues, reds, tropical prints, solids, burgundy, black, etc. Let your imagination go to work. Ties are made of rich fabric and you will be surprised with what you come up with.

2. Now you’ve got your ties at home spread them out on a table. When you have them arranged to your liking, measure from the bottom 13” to 17” (however long you want your apron) and cut all nine ties.

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3. Overlap one tie slightly over the other and pin in place leaving 2″– 4” open at the bottom so you have a sexy apron. Now use a small zigzag stitch or sew together by hand.

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4. Now take narrow ends of two of the above ties you’ve used in your apron skirt and choose them for the belt, sew together in the middle making one side longer than the other so you can turn it under to finish it off. Use machine or sew by hand.

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5. Take narrow ends of two more ties to make a bib to sew to the skirt. Slant ties so they are approximately 10” apart from outside edge at the bottom and 8” at the top. These two long pieces will go from the apron skirt and up around your neck. (Use whatever distance you want depending on how wide you want the bib.

6. Cut and pin tie strips horizontal 2” up the strip on the 10” slant side, pin another color strip 7” up from that, now pin another strip inside the two. Use your imagination if you want more.

7. Fun part – weave the small tie ends between the horizontal ones with the small points of the tie going up.

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8. Sew bib to apron and then sew belt over that. Now you say “what a mess”! Well, you just finish it off on the inside with bias binding or a plain strip of fabric which you sew on by hand.

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All of the above can be done by sewing machine or by hand sitting around watching TV in the evening. It’s easy and makes you feel so creative. These aprons are creative and classy looking with your selection of ties.

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So there you have it. Grami’s Tie Apron! I don’t know if I’m brave enough to attempt making one myself, but maybe Grami can be convinced to make one for her favorite granddaughter ;)

Vegetable Chicken Soup

Veggie Soup

The other night I was coming home late from nannying and as soon as I got home we were only going to have about 20 minutes until we had to leave for our church small group. I called Mark on my way home and he said he was whipping up something for dinner and it was a surprise. Mark is a great cook, but never really ventures out with recipes unless I ask him for help.

When I got home I could immediately smell something delicious and I asked Mark what he was making. He said he was making a vegetable chicken soup. He was multi tasking with zucchini in one pan and something else goin’ on in another pan. It was really good so I asked him how he made it so I could share it with y’all.

So here is how you make some yummy vegetable chicken soup, courtesy of Chef Mark!

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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO according to Rachel Ray)

8 oz chicken breast, cut into bit-size chunks

1 small zucchini, finely diced

1 large shallot (onion)

½ tsp Italian seasoning blend

1/8 tsp salt

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 14-oz can reduced sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 ½ cup baby spinach

1 16 oz box corkscrew noodles

(use how ever much noodles you prefer. We added a lot of noodles and just compensated with more chicken broth. You can make it however “soupy” you like.)

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1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium to high heat.

2. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionaly, until chicken is browned. About 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate once browned.

3. Add zucchini, shallot, Italian dressing and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened (approx. 2-3 minutes0.

4. Add tomatoes, broth, wine and pasta. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender (approx. 8 minutes).

6. Stir in spinach and the cooked chicken. Stir until the chicken is heated through again.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Coping With Anxiety

Hi, friends!

I apologize for the lack of posts on here the last few weeks. We have been really busy lately, and last weekend we spent a few days down in Florida with our families. It was much  needed, but it is good to be back home and going about our daily lives.

Today’s post is a little more serious than normal. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time and it has definitely been a journey and a challenge learning ways to deal with it. If you deal with anxiety, then you probably know how confusing and lonely it can be when you are experiencing a bad spell with it. I’m not a doctor or therapist, so by no means are my coping mechanisms going to work 100% for you, but maybe if you have anxiety I can share a tool with you that you haven’t heard of, or even just sharing my story might make you feel a little less cray cray.

I never really noticed anxiety in me as a child. I was always a little bit of a worrier, mostly when it came to my loved ones. I would panic if I couldn’t get a hold of someone in my family (I still do) and would call and call and call until they picked up the phone. There was never any in between, gray areas…either they picked up the phone, or they were dead in a ditch. But other than the fear of something happening to someone I loved, I was a pretty care free, easy going kid.

Once I got into high school I started to notice I would get uneasy in school. The girls were super cliquey and not very nice so I mostly stuck to myself and was happy with my few super close friends. I never felt the need to have a ton of acquaintances, but wanted to invest my time and heart into a couple friends who would be lifelong (it worked because they still are). But the whispers and sneers you would hear in the classroom still bothered me. Maybe I was paranoid, but I always thought they were gossiping about me. I hated drawing attention to myself, so often times I would ask to go to the bathroom because I felt like I was going to faint if I had to sit and be quiet in my seat. A few times when the anxiety got really bad I called my mom from the nurse’s office and would go home for the day.

None of this was an every day occurrence, it actually was fairly infrequent. But that was when I became aware that I had a tendency to be more nervous than others.

In college I was totally happy and only had anxiety on exam days when you had to be quiet and couldn’t leave the room if need be. I tried to alleviate some of my nerves by sitting in aisle seats on these days, just in case of an emergency I could easily run out of the room. Almost 100% of the time, just knowing I could easily run out without stepping over a hundred legs to get free made me feel better.

There were also a few times when I had to cancel last minute trips because I had this random fear of flying. My dad was in the Army for goodness sake! I had flown tons and tons of times with no issues, but after not flying for about 5 years, I was terrified of it. Again, because I feared not being able to get off the plane if I wanted to.

My anxiety is almost like a type of mental claustrophobia in which I don’t like to feel stuck. I have no problems with elevators (I don’t love them, but I have no problem getting on one. It just better not make any weird noises.) or anything like that, it’s more situational claustrophobia, if that makes any sense.

The hardest part about my anxiety was that I was the only one in my family with it and I felt like the black sheep. Everyone thought I was over reacting and would say, “You’re safe, nothing is going to happen, just relax.” I’m sure you’ve heard this if you have anxiety, and I’m sure it drove you crazy, because it drives me crazy. That’s like telling a drug addict to “just stop” shooting up or telling an anorexic person to “just eat”. It’s obviously not that easy, or I would do it. No one in their right mind would willingly opt into feeling like they are on the brink of death.

I had my anxiety under control due to the help of medication and therapy off and on over the years and I had a pretty anxiety free couple of years up until about a year ago when it came back with a vengeance.

I had come off my medication and was doing great and then life stepped in the way and gave me a swift kick in the rear.  My anxiety was through the roof and I knew I needed to start taking my medication and start talking to a therapist again.

There is absolutely no shame in my game when it comes to medication. Sometimes our brain is just chemically off and there’s really no way to fix that other than medication. I’m also pretty sure 50% of the world is on some kind of mental medication, so it’s not like I’m the minority. If you need it, you need it, and that’s that.

I also strongly believe in cognitive behavioral therapy when it comes to my anxiety. I’ve seen probably 5 different therapists just for a few visits here and there during my most anxious times, but last year I finally met one that I didn’t want to laugh at when she suggested coping methods and I actually felt comfortable with. So, find a therapist you feel relieved to go talk to. It always felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders after my visits with her and that’s how I knew she was the right one.

She has shared many different coping mechanisms with me and I wanted to share the ones I feel have helped me the most:

Positive Self Talk – I know that when I start to get anxious I fight it with everything in me. Instead of doing this, try and accept that the anxiety is there, and your body is only trying to protect you. I tell myself that everything is okay and no one is going to die. I tend to think very negatively when I get anxious and some of the scenarios I concoct are just outrageous. When my mind starts coming up with crazy scary scenarios like that I will say to myself “thought thought thought” and brush it off like it is just a passing thought.

This method takes a TON of work, but trying to accept the anxiety and rationalize with my irrational self usually helps to calm me down. I’ve gotten really good at it and this is what I do most when I get anxious.

Breathing – I’m sure you’ve heard of this coping mechanism even if you don’t have anxiety. But breathing is really important when you feel a panic attack coming on because I’ve definitely fainted before from hyperventilating (long story, short: I was super anxious the night before my high school graduation because I didn’t want to be stuck on stage and faint in front of all my peers so I ran into my mom’s room in the middle of the night and just fainted on the floor. Ahhhh, the good ol’ days).

Anyways, there are a ton of different breathing techniques and patterns for anxiety (like this one) that you can find online and see which one works best for you. For me, I get too easily distracted when I have anxiety so I simply try to take the deepest breaths I can, in through my nose, out through my mouth, and focus on my stomach filling up with air and emptying the air.

Meditation – This one has proven pretty difficult for me because when I’m anxious my thoughts are going a mile a minute and trying to focus on someone talking in a quiet voice just doesn’t work. I need to work on focusing a little better! My mind will drift and then I will get negative and think “Blake, you seriously suck at meditating, you should just stop” so I turn it off after a few minutes and never really give it a chance. Or sometimes I’m just immature and have to laugh at what the person is saying. Like the one time the lady on the video told me to envision I’m in a wide open space with mountains all around and suddenly my favorite animal appears and I go over and pet it. I had to laugh at that one. But I know meditation helps so many people with anxiety. I just go on YouTube and search for different relaxation meditation videos or anxiety related meditation and find one that way.

You can also try yoga which many people prefer, but sometimes if you are at home you have to resort to meditating on your own. You can also search for different apps like “Headspace” or “Calm” to help you relax. “Calm” has different soothing backgrounds you can choose from to help you relax and walks you through breathing in and out and then goes into meditation.

Give Yourself An “Out” – If you have certain anxieties, this method may work for you. This one is one I made up myself and it usually helps me a lot. If your anxiety comes from a place like mine, where you don’t like certain situations, try and come up with an “escape plan”. Like I used to do in college when I was anxious to sit in the middle of the row, I simply sat on the aisle seat and was totally fine. At times if I feel anxious at church, I just tell Mark and we will seat at the end of the row so I can leave if I need to. If I feel anxious being alone, I just tell Mark to keep his phone by him all day in case I need to call and just knowing he is a phone call away will alleviate my fears. This is a super simple method and usually makes me feel a little less nervous.

Talk To Someone – Talking to a friend of family member pretty much always makes my anxiety go away, even if just for a few hours. I have a friend who also has anxiety and I love talking to her about my thoughts and fears because it’s nice to have someone who can relate and help me through it. I also love talking to my mom because “mom makes everything better”. And Mark is a huge huge huge anxiety reliever for me. I can tell Mark all of my thoughts and he never judges me or calls me crazy even though sometimes I feel crazy.

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This post was way longer than I had intended so props to you if you are still here. I just randomly felt the urge to sit down and write this post so I figured I’d better do it while I feel compelled to share my anxiety story before it passes.

Anxiety is so tough to deal with sometimes and I feel for you if you have it. But there are so many ways to help you through it, but it takes a lot of determination and consistency if you want it to work.

The biggest thing I hope you take from this is that you are not alone in this fight. Anxiety is a son of gun and so many people out there are dealing with it even if they don’t open up about it. People tell me all the time that I seem so calm and like I have it all figured out but holy cow would they think over wise if they even knew an inkling of what was going through my head!

So just know that you have an anxiety ridden friend in me and don’t be afraid to try different ways of coping with it. You might be surprised with what helps you feel better.