November 26, 2012

Christmas Quilt

I decided I needed a project to kick start my holiday mood. Because, it does NOT seem possible that December starts on Saturday. Wasn't I just taking the kids to the pool on a 105 degree July day? I can protest all I want, but I suppose it won't make time slow down any.

This is a super simple quilt that I sorta based on this design. Rag quilts are easy. They don't require true quilting, you don't have to baste or bind and you don't have to be a perfectionist.

I chose three different (but similar) Christmas fabrics, used white flannel for the "lining" and ended up using red fleece for the backing. Turned out to be a very cozy quilt that helped keep me warm on our Thanksgiving trip this past week. Granny likes to turn down the heat at night! I brought it along to snip on our trip and I was able to put it to good use.

Here's the finished project:

I asked hubby what he thought of it and he said, "It's very Christmassy." I guess I'll take that as a compliment.

November 15, 2012


I'm just barely squeaking this in before the deadline! It's a fun little project that is part of a fabulous festival called, "Donktober!"


It's a gathering of crafts & sewing projects centered around a donkey theme. My entry for Donktober is this pair of sock donkeys. Full tutorial here. I've made several sock monkeys before and I just adore them. And I've seen patterns for sock elephants, but this is my first encounter with sock donkeys.

I was just going to make just one and give it to one of my kids, but then I decided they should each have one. That way, the donkeys can be friends and then there would be no fighting or hard feelings amongst the kids. There's enough of that going on anyway.

So, how adorable are they? Definitely not perfect and lovably lumpy (I'm not so good at the stuffing part).

I'm not sure how much mine actually look like donkeys. Perhaps more like moose, or a character from Backyardigans?
Oh well, whatever they resemble, they are definitely cute and the kids think so too. We're still deciding on names, so far, it's just Donkey and Mr. Donkey.

Now, this has got me I making some sort of political statement by making these and joining in on a donktoberfest? If so, I should probably go ahead and make those elephant ones just to be fair.

Thank you to Missy Mac Creations for sponsoring this party!

November 14, 2012

Catching Up...

on a lot of things around here. It's been such a busy month.

We went on a nice autumn vacation to the Ozarks:
We survived Halloween! Spaghetti & meatballs turned out awesome-

My pumpkin creation won a prize-

My son's definitely deserved a prize too, but he's been first place three years running (time to let someone else win!)

And we survived the craft fair. It was fun, a bit stressful and sometimes a bit discouraging, but overall I'd call it a success and definitely a huge learning experience! Here's our booth during set-up:

So, now I'm awaiting the busy storm of the coming 6 weeks. I've vowed to try as hard as I can to keep things low-key and low-stress, low-budget and low-"gimmie". Hopefully when January comes I can say that we succeeded.

I've been doing a bit of sewing during the past week, mostly Christmas gifts and today I tackled a fun little project that I'll be posting about tomorrow...

October 01, 2012

Happy October!

Where did September go? I do so love this time of year, I sure wish time would slow just a bit. The leaves are starting to turn, the air is drier and chillier and I'm loving getting out all my fall decor. Got scarecrows in my pansy-filled flower pots, mini gourds in baskets and almost every room in the house has something fall-scented in it. Fall scents are the best!

Another amazing scent is baking bread. And I baked exactly two loaves today. That's a HUGE accomplishment for me, especially on a day like today when my to-do list was pretty long. The first was just a regular loaf of oat/wheat bread and the next was a new recipe for Rosemary Olive Oil bread. It turned out so good and was quite lovely to look at too:

The only thing I'll change next time is to reduce the salt, probably to 1/2 a teaspoon.

It sliced up nicely:

And we ate sandwiches for dinner. Piled on the turkey, cheddar & some horseradish mustard, with sides of sweet buttery dilled carrots and cole slaw. It ended up being a hit of a meal, everyone cleaned their plates with no complaints, other than the fact that I didn't make enough carrots.

This month promises to be a very busy one! I'm trying to finish up craft show stuff, we're taking a mini vacation for fall break, there's Halloween costumes to work on, and a prize winning pumpkin to create for the annual pumpkin contest. My plan is to win first place this year. Good luck to me in all my October endeavors. I think I'm going to need it.

September 22, 2012

Fair Inspired Goodies

The last few weeks have been so busy! I've been working hard sewing more stuff for the upcoming craft show:

Celebrating a four year old:

And doing fun stuff like going to the State Fair! I'm not sure who these strange fair-going kids belong to:

You just never know what you'll see at the fair.  Take a look at these prize winning carrots! Really makes me want to bust out some ranch for dipping. (in their defense, this was day 6 of their showing)

Here's a funny chicken:

And a friendly camel:

Some of the usual crazy fair food offerings:

Then this weekend was our little burg's fall festival complete with rides and more nasty fair food. Okay, not all fair food is nasty, some of it's pretty good. Like my favorite Indian Tacos, roasted corn, caramel apples...and this yummy concoction. Two years running it's my son's lunch choice a the state fair. They call it a "Barbecue Parfait." It is layered baked beans, mashed potatoes and pulled pork, drizzled with bbq sauce on top. Looks like a yummy dessert!

So, this last week, we decided to make our own at home. Simple enough! Stuck some pork in the crockpot with bbq sauce, whipped up some potatoes and warmed some beans, then layered it in a glass.  

My other fair goody wasn't something we ever ate AT the fair, it was on the way. There is a bakery in an Amish town on the road up to the fair. It was always a tradition for us to stop and get some of their marvelous cinnamon rolls. Well, last year after we got home from the fair, we learned that the bakery was closing :(. No more gooey, nutty doughy rolls to complete our day at the fair. So sad. Then, a few days ago I spotted this recipe and couldn't stop thinking about it. I was craving that doughy cinnamon something. I think my brain automatically expects me to overindulge in some cinnamon roll type treat mid-September. I just had to make it. I did, and it was SO good.

Apple Walnut Pull-apart Bread...this kind of sweet treat is my weakness.

So, September is winding down, there is another somebody with a birthday coming up, then October hits with crazy Halloween busy-ness (a kid wants to be spaghetti & meatballs for Halloween....good luck to me making that costume). Then November will be upon us and with it, the Craft Show!! Yikes!! Slow down time!!

September 02, 2012

Sewing, sewing, sewing

I'm so excited to report that my sister & I have been given a booth at one of the biggest, busiest Christmas craft bazaars in town! It was quite a nerve-wracking summer waiting to hear for sure. We applied in April and were supposed to hear back by June 30. What a joke! June 30th came & went. So did July 30th. So much for sewing the summer away! It was a frustrating wait, but finally just about 2 weeks ago we found out that we will indeed have a booth. That means it's time to kick our rears in gear and get some stuff made!

I decided to first focus on making purses and some roll-up tote bags. I ordered some really pretty fabric last spring, thinking positively and planning ahead for our booth. I was excited to finally use it. So, last weekend I was very productive and completed four purses:

And four roll-up tote bags:


Doing four at a time assembly line style actually went rather quickly. And I was on such a sewing roll, I went ahead and finished up this chevron mini quilt that has been laying around forever just begging to be assembled & quilted:

Just a fun little scrap-buster to display on my "new" quilt rack.

After finishing up the bags up I am so excited to make some more.  I have NO idea how well they'll sell, so it's hard to know how many to make. If I have leftovers I suppose I can try to sell them on etsy, so I'd like to error on the side of making too many.

Here's the fabric for my next batch of bags:

I already have the pieces cut, I just have to squeeze some sewing time into this busy holiday weekend.

August 14, 2012

A New Season

Not technically fall, but I can smell it in the air. And now that school has started and the weather has cooled somewhat, it really does feel like fall! I'm so ready.

Since we've returned from our vacation, I've had this very strange urge to clean, organize and get rid of stuff. I even cleaned & vacuumed the car. I know, strange. I'm just so tired of the stress of messes. I desperately need a fresh start with this new season.

I've discovered the one of my problems is that I have too many baskets, bins, containers and little doo-dad holders. Because, if you have a container, it WILL get filled. I've been sorting things and going through piles of stuff that I've been ignoring for a long time. And getting rid of the extra containers.  What a wonderful feeling to walk into a room and not see these little piles anymore. And it's getting addictive. I'm looking around excitedly wondering what to clean next.   I'm sure it's a phase that will pass, but while it lasts, I'm rolling with it.  Husband reminded me that I went through something similar last year at this time, but I don't recall...

So, in honor of the upcoming change of seasons, I made this wonderful "Autumn Chopped Salad" that I found on pinterest. We added some cut up turkey cold-cuts on top and it was a very nice main dish salad for dinner yesterday. And it was so pretty too!

August 06, 2012

Have Toothbrush, Will Travel

We just returned from a nice camping trip to the mountains. We had a wonderful relaxing time. Except for the long drive of course, and some of the usual sibling bickering, but overall lots of fun. My only other two complaints were some overly curious bears (this was at our neighbor's campsite) -

and some very chilly/rainy weather-

I know it seems crazy to complain about that when its still over 100 here and dry as a bone. Wish we could've brought some of that rain home with us!

Anywho, while preparing for our trip, in the midst packing and cooking and cleaning and laundry, I managed to sew this little gem. I saw this idea on pinterest a while back, a roll-up toothbrush 'caddy!' Since it was just a listing on etsy, there was no tutorial or instructions, I just winged it. And I winged it in a matter of minutes. It was so easy!

I bought two regular sized washcloths at the dollar store. I folded one in half and placed it on top of the other with the fold in the center. I sewed around the sides & bottom, then sewed seams to separate the folded cloth into four sections. I also sewed in a piece of elastic. (forgive these gosh-awful pics!)

So, you can slide your toothbrushes & flossers into the slots, then fold the top down.

Then roll it up & loop the elastic around it to hold it closed.

I love that it's an absorbent holder, I always hate just throwing everyone's toothbrush into baggies and I've never met a plastic toothbrush holder I liked. Then, when you're back from your trip, you can just toss it in the wash. Genius!

I love this idea & wish I would've discovered it sooner. It's a keeper!

July 11, 2012

T-Shirt Makeover

I've got lots of old souvenir t-shirts that I can't seem to get rid of. They each hold special memories of some of my favorite places. But, I just don't wear big boxy t-shirts anymore. Hard to believe I ever did! Can you say 'unflattering?!' So, when I saw this idea on Pinterest I thought it would be perfect to try on one of these old shirts.

Hellooo Pikes Peak! Goodbye ugly t-shirt!

This is so simple. And super quick too. It literally takes less than 15 minutes. If you have that much un-interrupted time, that is. Tis rare for me, but I did on this occasion (nap time, yay!). So, you just cut off the sleeves and cut along the top just under the collar.  Slice off the stitched hem then cut a straight raw edged piece about 1" wide. Fold down & the top edge of the shirt about 1", pin in place then stitch a simple casing. Stretch out your hem piece, cut it in half then thread it through your casing, tie at the shoulders and bam! You've got a new tank top!

I've been wearing mine over my swimsuit when we head to the pool. And evenings at home when it's hot and I have to go out and water. Admittedly it does not have a lot of coverage so my modest 40 year old self does not wear it out & about as a "real" top. But I'm sure others could get a way with it, no problem. And my sister gave me the great idea of taking a larger child's t-shirt and making a dress or nighty for my daughter. I think that would be awesome!

July 07, 2012

Iced Coffee Drinks

I guess these are all the rage, they keeping popping up in my Pinterest! And understandably so, they are delish in all shapes & forms. Even though I am a non-coffee drinker I adore them. Of course, the more cream & sweetener they have the better. I've tried THIS and it's delightful. And THIS is tasty, especially with that very naughty evaporated & condensed milk concoction mixed in. And THIS post was my inspiration for my latest favorite. It's more of a mocha slushy shake thing that is wonderful, especially on a 107 degree day like today! Here's how I make it:

Mocha Shake
1 package hot chocolate mix
5-6 ice cubes
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1/2 cup milk
sweetener to taste (I use above said naughty concoction)

Dump in all in the blender and blend it up!

Even the kids love these drinks. I bought some decaf coffee beans that I use when I'm making enough to share. I'm not crazy enough to give them anything that increases their energy level. Save that kinda stuff for Mom!

July 02, 2012

Flag Wall Hanging

A while back, my sister asked if I could sew something for her. A co-worker of hers had recently received her US citizenship, and she thought it would be nice to give her an American flag wall hanging to commemorate the event. I was flattered that she asked, very excited to start, but also a bit nervous, since I've never made a wall hanging before. The first thing I did was find some images online of quilted US flag wall hangings to get some ideas and inspiration. We settled on something this one-

I thought it looked do-able (minus the lettering) and she liked it a lot. So, I sketched out a plan, headed to Joann's, bought the fabric and got to cutting and sewing. Here are my pieces laid out-

The hardest part was the diagonal aspect of the stripes. Stitching them together, then cutting them on the bias makes the edges very susceptible to stretching and warping. And once they are wavy, there's no going back. So, I used a lot of spray starch to keep those diagonal cut rows stiff. And, once I finished the whole flag top, I used some twilled tape and fused it to the underside around the edges to keep them super flat. It worked wonderfully! It kept everything in place during quilting and binding. Here's the finished top-

And here's the finished flag, quilted & bound-

Another great idea that I found online was how to hang the flag. I just sewed some triangle pieces of fabric on the back top corners, then a dowel can be slid up under them for hanging.

I had this flag on my wall for a couple days after I finished (I had to test it out, you know) and I just loved the way it turned out. I still have leftover fabric so I'd like to make another one for myself sometime soon. This was a fun project and I really hope the recipient enjoys it!

June 30, 2012

A Few Fun Activities

I'm way behind on posting here. We've been so busy with summer stuff! Swim lessons, birthday parties, trips to sister's house, summer school, afternoons at the far it's been a great summer. I love being busy and I think it does the kids good too. No time for boredom. Well, this week we did have a few evenings of down time when hubby was busy doing guy stuff, and I suffered through had the privilidge of entertaining the children during those special hours I usually have to myself. So, I leafed through my virtual folder (pinterest) for some activies I had bookmarked to keep us busy.

First are these fun little rubbery balls we made from beans & balloons. Here's the how-to. We used beans instead of lentils and we liked the end result, but it was kinda hard stuffing them through the funnel into the balloon when it got almost full. So, we'd like to try it again sometime with lentils. Here's our finished product-

They are great for juggling or playing catch and they are just kinda fun to hold & squish.

Next up is a no-mess painting activity using large ziplock bags. You just squeeze a few different colored paints into the bag, make sure there's no air inside then seal it up. Then you can just push around and blend the colors making neat designs.

And finally this stuff is awesome, homemade puffy paint! So simple, just mix 1/4 c flour, 1 t baking powder, 1 t salt, 1/4 c water & food coloring together. Then paint a design on paper (the thicker the better) then microwave it for about 15 seconds and it puffs up! You won't be able to paint intricate designs and it is pretty messy but it's worth it. Both kids thought it was awesome. Hard to get the full 3-D effect in a picture, but here's one of our designs:

Right now we're in the middle of a nasty heatwave. 100+ temps as far as the eye can see :( And next week off from summer school. So, when we're not exploding things in the driveway or spending time at the pool, I'm going to try to come up with some more indoor acitivies like these to keep us entertained.

June 14, 2012

Watermelon Salad

'Tis watermelon season. And so, more often than not during the summer, we have a ginormous watermelon in the fridge taking up space and no one is really in the mood to cut it up. Well, yesterday I bit the bullet and just cut a whole (3/4 actually) big thing up into nice little cubes. Then I remembered seeing a recipe for watermelon salad from Snack Girl. It sounded weird but I was willing to try it. It's basically cut-up watermelon with feta cheese sprinkled on top. I also had seen a recipe somewhere for watermelon salad that had sunflower seeds on it. So, I combined the two ideas and it is a WINNER! No dressing or anything. The combo of the salty cheese and the sweet juicy watermelon and the crunchy little seeds is amazing. And it's so filling too! The perfect light lunch for a hot summer day.

June 01, 2012

And Summer Begins...

June already, Wow! It's been a busy few weeks, with end of school activities, laptops getting viruses then breaking down, then getting ready for and spending a long weekend at the lake. Whew. Life is good, but crazy and busy. The summer has barely begun and my nerves are already quite frazzled. So, blogging has not been at the top of my list, even though I have lots of recipes & sewing projects to talk about.  So for now, I'm just going to mention a couple of my goals for the summer. 

The first is to get SERIOUS about helping my family eat healthy and stay physically active this summer. This is such a challenge since summers for us are just packed full of 'special occasions' that call for special (fattening) meals, special desserts and special grandparents who like to spoil my children with treats. Treats and special occasion meals are great, but they add up and I'm going to do my best to make the special meals healthy ones. And then there are just the days spent at home with the kids. It's hot, no one feels like going anywhere and these kids are ALWAYS hungry. So, I have to be prepared with healthy snacks & lunches that are not frown-inducing. And I have to be prepared with activities that don't involve sitting on our butts and staring at a TV or computer screen. It's hard! Especially with two kids who have different interests and who LOVE to argue, pester & annoy each other. How many days till school starts again?

This past weekend at the lake was packed full of ridiculous amounts of junk food :( So, since we've returned I've decided we are in 'detox' mode. We went to the store yesterday and bought all kinds of fresh fruits & vegetables. I let the kids pick out a few things each that looked good to them, and now the fridge is nicely stocked. And this next weekend, my goal is to GET RID of any candy or junky junk food that is lurking in the cabinets & drawers. The kids can seriously sniff these things out, even if they are hidden. It'll be good for the grown-ups too, to have the temptation gone. I'm actually looking forward to it!

So, yesterday for our first dinner back home I found a nice light dinner recipe that was different & delicious! It's from Our Best Bites. I didn't even plan on making it before we went to the store, but I ended up having all the ingredients on hand. The recipe is for Pasta with Cilantro Peanut Pesto. Almost a tongue twister there. It was a wonderful blend of flavors, such a fun new recipe. We had ours with chicken so the meat eaters wouldn't grumble too much. The only real change I made in the recipe was in place of some of the cilantro (since I didn't have enough) I used fresh spinach. I thought that was a genius substitute, if I do say so myself.

Here is my bowl of yumminess:

I'm going to scour their blog for more delicious summer recipes, I know there are many more and I need all the help I can get!

May 10, 2012

Cosmic Burst Quilt DONE!

I'm so excited to have completed this quilt! And I have to admit, it turned out SO much better than I ever expected. After I purchased my fabric, cut it and piled it all together, I just didn't really care for it. I kept looking at other people's color combination and wishing I'd done something different. But, I sallied forth and quilted along and finally finished it up this weekend.

Now, I actually LOVE it. I love the slightly country feeling it has. I love that it's bright & happy without being too cutesy or contemporary. I'm not much into modern fabrics or designs, I like looking at them but I don't really feel like they are "me."

I think the most exciting part of making a quilt is when you first wash it and that moment that you take it out of the dryer. Somehow in the dryer, little flaws disappear and it transforms into something so warm and cozy and quilty and wonderful. I may or may not have hugged my quilt and danced a little happy dance after taking it out.

It's definitely not perfect. The backing is nothing special, I pieced a row together to join the two larger pieces of fabric and it's just kinda...blah. And there's some rather large puckers that found their way into the back during quilting :( Here's a little peak, I dare not show the whole thing.

I'm a binding cheater. I don't have the patience to make my own binding or take the time to hand-sew it on, so I just use the wrap-around method, folding the backing over the front and sewing it into place. I know that knocks my quilting credibility down a few notches. But, if it weren't for that method, I'm not sure I'd have any finished quilts.

Whenever I'm in the midst of making a quilt, I think to myself, 'this is too much work and it's not really coming together and I think I'm just not meant to quilt.' Then when it's done, I fall in love & can't wait to start on another!

Thank you Julie at Distant Pickles for this quilt along. I hope to join you for another someday!