Pattern Review: Little Things to Sew…Explorer Vest

Oh. my.

I am melting.

He has his daddy’s curls and dimple.  That’s the same dimpled smile that made my fall in love with his daddy.

This little guy, Dean, is the youngest of my 3.  When you’re the youngest, you often get the hand-me-downs and the cats-offs.  I wanted to make this guy something special that was brand spankin’ new.  I’ve had Liesl Gibson‘s book, Oliver + S: Little Things to Sew, since it first came out last Spring.  The week after I got it, I cut this explorer vest out and quickly got distracted by my kid’s birthday parties and then other crazy projects.  A few weeks ago, I got the pattern back out again and was determined to get it done.  Sometimes patterns can seem like they will take more time than you might have (true in a LOT of cases which is why I don’t use them a much), but this one took me only a few hours.  I did a little bit over 2 nights.  If you are a lazy iron-er (*raising my hand*), you will have to suck it up for this project.  The iron makes or breaks this vest and if you leave it out you risk the sometimes feared “Did you make that?” question from strangers.  Nobody wants that.

For my fabric, I chose a kind of linen blend for the exterior which i got from one of my favorite fabric resources, Hart’s Fabric.  It is a heavier fabric and will hopefully wear well for a 3 year-old boy.  For the lining and the exterior pockets, I chose one of my very favorite fabrics from Heather Ross.  I spent way too much a wee bit of money for this camper fabric a few years ago, as it was out of print, and I’ve been hoarding it ever since.  I’m learning that I’d much rather see my favorite fabrics floating around on things I’ll see every day that will be well-loved, than just stare at them in my fabric stash.

Putting it to good use already.  That’s all a mother could ask for.

Forty Clove Garlic Chicken, my way

 We’re back.


You didn’t know I was gone, but we slipped away for 6 days to Kentucky for a beautiful wedding and a visit with some very special friends.  The weekend before that we had another wedding in the middle of the Mojave desert.

Fun times.

You can see some picture on my Instagram.  I’m @agoldenafternoon so come find me!

God blessed our trip and made it even a little restful.  Crazy, considering we were traveling with our 3 littles.  We got to help out too, which is always a wonderful bonus.


It is wonderful.  It is awesome.  It is a lovely gift to its often boring friend, Mr. Chicken.

This dish begs for friends to gather and partake of it.  Garlic, slowly simmering with wine into a marvelous sauce, is exactly what a group of buddies needs  to just relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Bread should also be involved, if possible.  It’s a great dish to take someone who just had a baby (like Rebekah soon!) or someone who is ailing.

I love the way God brings people together around a table, sharing delicious food and uplifting conversation.  We need  those close friends around, to remind us of the joy we have in Jesus that gets paused when we feel tackled by the every day life.  I’ve felt tackled recently and am so thankful for friends God has placed so carefully around, to comfort me with His promises of peace and rest.  When I share a meal with these wonderful friends, it means so much more than words in an e-mail, blog comment, or text can mean.  Hugs and tears are an important part of a relationship, that extend far beyond a computer or phone.

Food makes those moments happen.

So, let’s make some food so we can invite our friends over :)

Sound good?

40 Clove Garlic Chicken with a side of brussels sprouts it is.  Yes, brussel sprouts.  It won’t take a lot of work at all…

Start by patting dry and then browning your chicken in the butter or oil, like the little guys are exhibiting above.  Medium-high heat works best to get nice coloring.   Throw a little salt n’ peppa on them while you’re at it.

Saute the garlic until browned.

Mmmm. Sauted garlic.

Can You tell I love it?

Next, add the Brandy/Cognac, wine, thyme, and parsley to the pan.  Bring it to a boil.  Return the chicken to the pan and cook with the lid on for 45 minutes or longer.  Cooking it longer will cause the garlic to soften and therefore become all the more wonderful.   Once cooked, remove the chicken and then stir the flour and milk into the garlic “sauce”.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Pour some of the garlic sauce over the chicken and serve.

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

40 cloves of garlic (I always toss in a few extra)

2 T. butter or canola oil

1 whole chicken, in pieces

salt and pepper

4 T. Brandy or Cognac

1 1/2 c. white wine

1 T. thyme

1 T. parsley

3 T. flour

3 T. whole milk or cream

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apples

1 lb. brussel sprouts

1-2 apples, medium

olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

curry powder, to taste

Cut the brussels in half length-wise and slice the apples.  Toss both with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Shake on a bit of curry powder if you like.  It helps to balance the bitterness brussels can have sometimes.  Roast at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender.  Sometimes I drizzle a little maple syrup over the top, once it’s roasted, to help the littles out a bit. :)

Stick around and find us on:

F a c e b o o k  //  T w i t t e r  //  P i n t e r e s t  //  I n s t a g r a m  //  E m a i l


Cocktail: Grapefruit Collins + kid version

If you follow me on Instagram, you are not a stranger to one of my favorite drinks of late (cheers to you, Lizzy and Hannah!).  I love citrus because it makes me happy and relaxed.  It doesn’t hurt that the colors are just lovely.  I started making this drink because I saw my friend post a picture of one whilst at Craft & Commerce, one of my favorite restaurants here in San Diego.  At the time, I was alone at home while my husband was traveling for his business.

 I saw it.

I wanted it.

I made it.

In California, citrus grows year-round, but winter is when the stores are overflowing with it.  I’ve still been seeing tons of grapefruits around so I’ve been buying about 2 large bags a week.  That’s a crazy amount of these guys, but I’ve been searching for the super red centered ones, with no success.  I’ve tried 6 different varieties from a few different places.  Although, I’ve only been trying the organics…maybe the red ones are floating around in the non-organic produce section.  Either way, these pink ones I found at our local farmer’s market are begging for a Spring afternoon drink!

Gin is one of my favorite drink additions because it has such a great herb-y characteristic that suits so many juices and syrups.

This vintage shaker is one of my favorite estate sale finds of all time!

Grapefruit Collins

2 oz grapefruit juice, strained

1/2 oz lemon juice, strained

1 oz simple syrup

2 oz Gin

club soda

Mix all but the club soda in a shaker with ice.  Pour over ice into a highball (or a glass of your choice) and top with the club soda.

Straws can be found here at this lovely shop.

Kid or alcohol-free version:

double everything and remove the gin :)

My kids get a thrill out of these special drinks and the bonus for their little bodies is the fresh-squeezed fruit-juice.

This is my favorite place to enjoy this kind of drink with friends or even just with my favorite person in the world that I happen to share a room and blessed life with :)

Coloring Eggs with Nature

I love color, don’t you?

Maybe my love for it came from growing up in a house with walls painted entirely in one color…”Navajo White”.  Maybe it’s just because color brings joy and peace to an otherwise loud and crazy household, which includes a fighter pilot, Peter Pan, and Fancy Nancy running around fighting pirates.  Whatever the reason, color can make a huge difference in my day.  Yes, this is totally why my entryway buffet table is painted a very cheery yellow.  I see it, smile, and thank God he gave us eyes to see the lovely things around us.

I must confess I am one of THOSE people who is trying to eliminate food dyes wherever possible.  So, we are left to play around with the colors God gives us in nature.  Some we can find in our yard, some are in our spice cabinet, while some are even in our morning cuppa’ joe.  Besides being better for our bodies, natural dyes are a really fun way of explaining how people colored their clothing and draperies long ago, before true chemistry arrived on the scene to create red dye #40.  I love being able to describe things to my kids, like the curtains and veil in Solomon’s temple, and talk with them about how God’s people could have attained “blue and purple and scarlet yarns” (Exodus 26) using plants.  Pomegranates, grapes, beets, carrots…oh…wait…we can use the same things they did to make dyes?  The kids thought that was pretty awesome.

Enter: Easter eggs

We boiled several different things in water.  The cabbage (1/2 head), red onion skins (3 onions), spinach (1 bag), and turmeric root (several tablespoons) all boiled individually, while the carrots and paprika (lb of carrots and a few tablespoons of paprika) were in the same pot.  You should know, boiled cabbage is one of the worst smells.  Ack.  It’s pretty bad.  For the coffee I use 2 Starbucks VIA packets so the color would be dark.  I’m sure you could use a few shots of espresso as well.  The pomegranate juice was straight from the bottle.  The beets I chopped and let soak in water.  Those guys live for staining things so it won’t take long for the water to turn blood-red.

Fill jars with enough of each liquid to cover the egg (s), but not too much that it overflows.  Add vinegar to the liquids to encourage the color to bind to the shell.  I tried the cabbage and pomegranate juice with and without vinegar.  The pom worked fine without vinegar.  With vinegar, it ended up bubbling around the egg and turning a brownish color.  It does look kind-of cool, especially for my littlest who loves brown.

I labeled them with washi tape (why not?) so I could keep track of how long each had been in the dye.  I left mine in for about 18 hours.  It definitely requires more patience from the kids, but it’s worth it.  My times are very spread out on my markings because I was working with children :)  My fridge pretty much looked like a big science experiment, which is fabulous considering we do have a school here.

Here’s what we tried and the results:

If you want to take the process a step further with designs, try this option.   They look pretty cool.  I think I’ll do that next year or even these with vintage graphics.

Overall, I’m super excited about what we learned during the process.  God makes some really amazing and vivid colors for us to work with.   He certainly knows how to capture our attention and remind us how awesome He is!

Which colors do you respond to?

Stick around and find us on:

F a c e b o o k  //  T w i t t e r  //  P i n t e r e s t  //  I n s t a g r a m  //  E m a i l

The importance of a date

Spending time with my kids alone is really important to me.  Faith and I got to spend a much needed day together when Ed took the boys camping until the next day (we lost a day because there was snow in the mountains and it was apparently too cold for tent camping. whatever).  We had so much fun together doing whatever we wanted and it was so nice to wake up in our own house without those crazy boy noises.  I’m so glad she was up for it after what happened a  few weeks ago.

We ate:

Extraordinary Desserts Lunch

(cheese tray, house-made kettle chips and caramelized onion

dip, blackberry lemonade)

Cereal for dinner

ice cream for dessert

Craft & Commerce Brunch

(chicken and waffles for me, smoked salmon plate for her…a fav)

farmer’s market samples

We went:

Becka Automotive to fix our car

thrift store to pass time

Point Loma Lighthouse


The Shine Project‘s beach clean-up

Little Italy farmer’s market (got some awesome spring onion and leeks)

Bottlecraft for some fresh IPA’s and a few other random beers

The French Garden Shoppe for some wood conditioner for my chopping block and spoons

The art gallery of  Jacqueline Lavenu for a lovely peek at her work and some excellent conversation.  Faith got to see her studio and creative space :)

Architectural Salvage to see the always smiling face of Enrique and to score a few treasures.

Target for some candy and some summer kid’s tanks while they were $5.

We listened:

The Parent Trap…one of her favorite movies apparently.  She’s getting so big :/

 The Hunger Games soundtrack with our fav Safe & Sound. I’m EXTREMELY disappointed the soundtrack wasn’t in the movie at ALL…not one song. Lame.

So thankful to have time with all of my kids alone before they grow up and forget how much Mom loves them.

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