Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Festival of Scrapiness 2

My entry number two for the Festival of Scrapiness that Rachel over at Stitched In Color is hosting. This mini measures 12x15' and was made with a fussy cut bird scrap, scraps from my FTLOS swap and some random stripe fabric from the scrap basket.

Detail of bird - I think both bird and strips fabric were Alexander Henry fabric. Good luck to all of us in the Festival of Scrapiness, an amzing collection of what you can do with "leftovers"!

Festival of Scrapiness

So Rachel over at Stitched In Color is hosting the Festival of Scrapiness right now and even though I haven't managed to sew much this month I wanted to enter the two mini's I have gotten done. This mini measures about 14 1/2" square and was made with all green scraps, of which I have no shortage. Green is definitely my color! This is my March mini and I love it so much that I'm planning on keeping it up somewhere all year.

You gotta be in it to win it, right? So here goes ;-) And Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SO lets catch up.

So, what a month. I am SO ready for March to move on along and April to get here. Come on April! I feel like I've completely fallen off the blogging wagon, forgive me, I'm hoping to be back here now. Because I miss you guys and I like being here! But you know how, when you're feeling stretched to your absolute limit, something has to give? Well blogging was it this month. But I'm back on the horse! Yay! So lets get started catching up. We started the month with my husband's birthday, then the passing of my great aunt in NY, not expected so even though she was almost 82 we were surprised and saddened. Then there was the Jerry Springer-esque family drama surrounding the funeral, will and estate. I'll spare you the gory detail but it was (and is) atrocious. I guess I'm a bit naive and constantly surprised by how awful people can act. *sigh* Then my in-laws came for the weekend and we celebrated another family birthday a bit south of Atlanta. There was the first baby shower for my sister-in-law then next weekend and of course I'm always happy to bake. For anything. Anytime. Oh and then yeah, happy to eat too ;-)

I made chocolate sour cream cupcakes with home made vanilla butter cream (I think I've shared both these recipes here before). Then I bought these cute cupcake toppers on etsy from Kelly Medina Studios as a pdf, printed them out and used a glue stick to sandwich a toothpick between the front and back. Tasty.

Then I made Gwen's Jello Cookies - I was intrigued when I saw the recipe on her blog - how would they taste? Weird? Uh, weird like this: "hmmm, this is a blue cookie. Weird. munch, munch, munch. I need another one to really understand this flavor. Ok, just one more." And you pretty much get the idea. I used blue jello - it had some catchy name that I can't remember but it was a berry flavor and they were good. Like I'm making strawberry next and then probably lime. I added a dash of frosting because I had some leftover from doing the cupcakes. I liked it with but they were just as good without. Plus, who else brought blue cookies for the shower? NO ONE! Teehee! Recipe here!

So then my mom (my poor mom) had surgery on her foot last Wednesday - a bunion-ectomy - and it's been a whirlwind of hospital, pharmacy, DR's office, pharmacy again, etc. Thankfully we live close enough and have a big enough house that she could come stay with us. Even though it was a much needed procedure (re-doing the first one she had done in 1989) it has not been fun. Seeing someone you love in pain completely sucks. I also have a new appreciation for being able to pick something up and carry it with me as I walk around the house (something I do millions of times each day). Crutches pretty much take that ability away completely. I've also realized that I probably do NOT have the coordination to manage crutches at all anyway. Luckily we have built in entertainment around here in the form a toddler willing to sing, dance and demand stories read to her at any (every) given moment. Great distraction to say the least and my dear daughter was literally thrilled to have a captive Nana. My mom went home yesterday and H cried when she realized that Nana wasn't moving in for good. Aaaww.

So later this week I'll have a recap of our Crafty Meet-up and the project I took. Also assuming my sewing mojo shows back up I might even get a mini quilt done soon, to celebrate the arrival of APRIL! Sweet! Oh and Debbie tagged me this week with some fun questions that I'll finally be getting around to answering :-)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Still alive

Just so busy. Hoping for a longer post tomorrow - hope all is well with you. Here's what made me smile today:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It works!

Trying to figure out how to post from my phone - probably more of a challenge than it should have been. But I think I have it figured out (kind of). Baby shower baking including Gwen's Jello cookies. They may sound strange but they taste YUMMY! Pictures of the finished goods to follow :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Crafty Meet Up NEXT Friday (so excited!)

Hi all! I thought I'd get your weekend off to a great start with an invitation for NEXT weekend - Deborah at Whipstitch has put together a fantastic weekend with Rae from Made by Rae and Karen Lepage, co-author of Sewing For Boys. It all kicks off Friday night with a Crafty Meet Up at Whipstitch from 7 - 9:30. It's free, all you need to do is RSVP so we know how many to expect. You can find all the RSVP info over on Deborah's blog right here.

You can bring your sewing machine, hand sewing or any other kind of crafty WIP you'd like. Rae will be there to chat and play along and I will too - SO excited! Blogging is a great way to meet new people but getting together in person can't be beat :-)

The activities on Saturday are going to be awesome as well but if you're not into sewing for kids or you have a busy weekend, come join us Friday night. If you have fun you might want to think about coming back some weekend and joining us for the Atlanta Modern Sewing Circle meetings. We meet the last Saturday morning of every month at Whipstitch to sew and hang out - no pressure, just fun.

Hope to see you next Friday! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Whew, SO glad it's Friday!

What a week, no in fact, what a month it's been. I'll spare you the gory details but family drama and sad anniversarys have made this a month I'm ready to see be done. Sorry if it's been a bit quiet around here, hoping to get back our normal rhythm soon. Like today :-)

I've been so nutty this week I thought today was the 15th - it's not. Not even a little. So I mailed my For The Love of Solids Swap a day late - whoops. Hate that though, I really, really like being the early one so to be the late one kind of kills me. I'll live. But anyhoo, here's the mini quilt I ended up making for my partner. I had a hard time making up my mind about what to make this round. To the point where I cut out three different quilts!

Totally my problem, just wanting to make the "right" thing. So after a couple false starts I decided to just go for it with this wonky log cabin that was in my partner's inspiration mosaic. I'm usually a very careful measure-er and an over-pinner and a slow sewer. Not with this baby! To the point where my husband actually stopped and said, "uh, WHAT are you doing?!". I told him I was going for it! And I did! I think you can tell whether you've made something good to swap or not based on whether or not you want to keep it a little. That was definitely the case here so I feel good about sending it off to it's new home. I hope my partner is happy with it too!

Now off to a bizarrely warm spring weekend where all the dogwoods and azaleas are all blooming a month early - I'm hoping this doesn't foreshadow a sweltering summer - but I'm going to get outside and enjoy the weather while I can! :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Monday!

Today was a very happy Monday for me indeed - my entry into the Tangerine Tango Challenge WON second place in the Mini category! The competition was as impressive as the judges and a big thanks to them, as well as all those who offered me advice and support during the making. It's so exciting to see something in your head, actually make it look similar and then have others like it as much as you do!

Go check out all the fabulous winners on Ali's lovely blog Asquaredw.
All the amazing entries are also still up in the flickr group!

Then as if that wasn't enough greatness for one day, my For The Love of Solids Swap package arrived all the way from Australia!! Wow! Check out the amazing pieced mini quilt - those are so my colors and since I haven't been brave enough to try any paper piecing yet I'm doubly thrilled with this work of fabric art now hanging on my wall.

As if the mini wasn't enough I also received a beautiful pillow cover and some TimTams - if you aren't familiar with them they are this yummy chocolate cookie with a chocolate mousse filling. Pepperidge Farm actually sells them here in the states during December but the rest of the year they are an Australian only treat. We know about them from my cousin's semester abroad and my husband's recent business trip, so I was thrilled to see them Not as thrilled to have to share them but I'll try ;-)
Thanks a MILLION to my lovely swap partner Kim! I love it all!

My secret swap item is *almost* done - inspiration struck at the 11th hour on this one. I'll be sharing it a little later in the week. Hope your Monday had some happiness too :-)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oh cookie you're so fine, you're fine you blow my mind...

oh cookie! oh COOKIE! (teehee).

So we've already established that I'm a sucker for a good cookbook, which is pretty much every baking cookbook ever. I'm also especially a sucker for those with bake sale in the title. So when I saw the Cookies for Kids' Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook I was instantly sold. I found my copy at Barnes and Noble but weirdly couldn't find it listed on amazon - maybe you'll have better luck. It's written by Gretchen Holt-Witt and all her proceeds benefit the Cookies for Kids' Cancer organization. So I was instantly drawn to several recipes in the book but ultimately the coconut-almond chocolate chip cookies won out. I think I was trying to itch my girl scout cookie craving and I gotta say, these did the trick nicely.

Coconut-Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 C. sugar
1 1/4 C. sweetened, flaked coconut
1 large egg, at room temp
2 Tbsp. water, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 C. all purpose flour
1 C. oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips
2 C almonds, toasted, chopped and cooled.

The changes I made here were very slight: I used shaved coconut instead of flaked and I threw in the whole bag, which I think was more like a cup and a half, I used milk chocolate chips because I like 'em better, I used a bag of sliced almonds from Trader Joes (toasted but NOT chopped, just left them sliced) and finally I used a whole tsp. of almond extract because I like almond. REALLY like almond.

Preheat the oven to 325 and use silpats or parchment on your cookie sheets.

Cream butter and sugar together, then add egg, water, vanilla and almond extracts, beating well between each addition. Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk to combine then add to butter mixture and mix until everything is well incorporated. Then add chocolate chips, almonds and coconuts (I mixed these in with a wooden spoon).

Scoop into heaping teaspoon sized balls and place them about 2" apart on cookie sheets. using your palm (or glass) flatten the balls slightly.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown on the edges. My cookies took more like 18 - 20 minutes to get a little brown but I know my oven is slow. They never got really brown but they seemed (and tasted) fine.

Next time I'm going to try switching brown sugar for the white to see if I can get a little more caramel flavor but other than that these were great - crunchy, nutty, slight chewiness from the coconut and of course, chocolate-y. Even the 2 year old approved!

And this is to show you why I don't get any sewing done when my assistant is awake. Can you even tell there's a sewing project under all the blocks and m's and cups and whatnot?

Because there is. There really truly is.
And as soon as she falls asleep (please pray for sooner rather later) I'm going to go excavate it!

Happy Wednesday, we're almost there people :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday at the Table: Cookbooks I have loved

Debbie over at A Quilter's Table is a lady after my own heart, she's all about fabric and food! I'm sure she's about even more than that but those two things are pretty much the heart of her lovely blog. Her post today inspired this one.

So first I counted my cookbooks. This bookcase is the one close-est to the kitchen - we have an open kitchen/living room so this is in the living room right next to the kitchen. These are the ones I find myself reaching for the most frequently these days. Many of these are geared towards the age-old "what in the @#$* are we going to have for dinner?!" - which somehow manages to sneak up on me most every day.

After shocking myself with the number of cookbooks that one unassuming bookcase holds I moved on back to the craft room. We call it the craft room but it's more like a multi-purpose sewing, crafting, kid stuff and library rolled into one. Oh and there's a futon in there for the occasional overnight guest. his is where the BIG bookcases live - the IKEA ones that hold way more than they should. Try to look past the pile of toys and not be jealous of my circa '79 paint-by-numbers masterpiece. I'm not going to put my total here because my dear husband does stop by once in a while and I don't want to give him a heart attack but Debbie, I might have you beat. Yikes!

So here are the three that sprang to mind when I first read Debbie's post. The Better Homes and Gardens '68 edition was the cookbook I grew up on. The one that my mom got as a wedding gift. This one is not my mom's copy, but I have my name on it for the will. This is the one that held the decadent pecan caramel rolls that we had every Christmas morning. The one I used when I was first trying to "sneak" and bake my first solo recipe when I was probably 7 (corn sticks, kind of like cornbread - they turned out fine). The one I used to attempt to make petit fours with a poured fondant icing when I was 10 (utter failure and frustration).

The Fannie Farmer Baking Book was a Christmas gift from my mom the year I was 16 - I still have the card inside with the inscription marking it as the first in my "cookbook collection" and so it was. I continued to bake my way through high school with delight. Home made donuts? Sure. Cookies, bread, pizza? Yes, yes and yes.

Finally the Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook was the first cookbook I bought for myself as I wandered the university bookstore my first semester living away from home. There wasn't much opportunity to bake anything in the dorms which may have influenced my eventual decision to return home and go to a school I could commute to.

As I look back baking (and cooking) has been such a constant in my life, what I do for friends and family, how I express love and support, how I give comfort. Oh and sometimes just for FUN. Thanks so much to Debbie for inspiring this trip down memory lane.

I had hoped to get some sewing done today but my tiny dictator had such a meltdown (and I do mean MELTDOWN) at school when I tried to drop her off that I just brought her back home. I mean, she's two, they aren't doing SAT prep yet. So we'll try again Thursday and hopefully be back to our normal, drama free drop-off. Tomorrow I have a yummy cookie recipe to share and maybe, maybe (fingers crossed, whispering so as not to tempt fate) I might have some sewing to share closer to the end of the week :-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Choosing Happiness

Marc and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living is a blog I enjoy tremendously. They have a newsletter filled with tips and stories that inspire, entertain and always make me look forward to hearing more from them. As I've started searching for happiness in my life I've been finding the topic pop up more and more, everywhere and anywhere - funny how that works isn't it? So the last newsletter from Marc and Angel was titled "10 Ways Happy People Choose Happiness" - I was delighted as soon as I saw the title and the following 10 tips didn't disappoint. The intro and first tip really struck a chord with me:

Happiness is a choice. For every minute you are angry or irritated, you lose 60 seconds of happiness. Be happy. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.

If you have the courage to admit when you’re scared, the ability to laugh even as you cry, the nerve to speak up, even if your voice is shaking, the confidence to ask for help when you need it, and the wisdom to take it when it’s offered, then you have everything you need to get yourself to a happier state of mind.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your own contentment. Here are ten ways to choose happiness:

  1. Choose to be the best YOU can be. – Give it your all in everything you do, commit to your goals, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. John Wooden once said, “Success and happiness is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Never try to be better than anyone else, but never stop trying to be the best you can be. If you feel called to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
Did you catch that last part? It really hit me - only compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. So simple. So liberating! When I compare myself to the person I was last year or 5 or 10 years ago I am literally astounded at how far I have come. I feel filled with pride in my accomplishments - the exact opposite of how I feel when I compare myself (as I so often do, sadly) to others. How great an idea is that? Compare yourself to yourself. Only try to be a better version of YOURSELF (instead of a frustrating version of someone else)! I can actually DO THAT! Sweet!

So my goal this week is spend more time trying to be a better ME and less time trying to compare myself to or compete with anyone else. Want to give it a go with me? Either way I hope your week is off to a lovely start and that you find some happiness of your won this week :-)

Oh and the other 9 great tips from Marc and Angel on Choosing Happiness can be found here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gotta love a mini quilt!

I have to say that I am a girl who LOVES a mini quilt, so I've been thrilled to be following along with Jennifer's Modern Mini Challenge over at Ellison Lane Quilts. She had so many wonderful contributors and so much lovely inspiration. I could seriously devote myself to mini quilts! So cute! So satisfying!

I knew I wanted to enter something and honestly I had a hard time choosing from the mini's I've made lately. I went with this improv one because I just loved how it turned out - the colors, the wonkiness, all of it. But it was a tough choice.

There was the valentine mini - so pleased with how my points lined up!

My new March mini - another LOVE. You know how you start to throw somehting together quick and then it becomes something so much better than you anticipated? Happened with this little green string mini. L - O - V - E!

Here's the March mini in it's hanging spot - I'm thinking I'm going to challenge myslef to make a new mini for this spot each month this year. With all the inspiration from Jennifer and her contributors it should be no problem to come up with ideas! Thanks Jennifer for putting together such a fun challenge!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Yummy crockpot potato soup recipe

If by chance there is still winter where you live you will be thanking me later for this so easy, most delicious soup recipe. It came (of course) from another blogger who had pinned it from yet a different blog (you know how these things go) and I was a little skeptical because it IS so easy. How could it possibly be as good as I wanted it to be when it was so easy? Well it was SO good that I was calling my BFF on the phone after dinner telling her to make it the next day. Rarely do good and easy come together in such a nice package. Here you go:

Crockpot Potato Soup

30 oz bag of frozen shredded hash browns
42 oz chicken broth (I used a small carton and a can, pretty sure I was close anyway)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz block cream cheese
1/2 C. chopped onion (I don't like onion so I left this out and added a tsp. of Penzey's toasted onion powder)

Put it all in the crock pot and let it go for 6-8 hours on low. Mine was done after 6 and I did open it a couple times to stir and incorporate the cream cheese. I thought it was too thin at first but it thickened up as the potatoes cooked. And this is really truly it! We ate ours with shredded sharp cheddar and bacon, along with a spinach salad for those who like green stuff and a loaf of fresh baked bread. It was a tasty meal for one of the three cold nights we've had this winter. Sadly, I think winter might really be on it's way out - it was in the mid seventies here today. I'm sure if you're stuck in the snow you're telling me to suck it right now but I'm a winter girl at heart who has had NO winter this year. Sniff, sniff.

Ah well, I can always crank the A/C and comfort myself with soup ;-)

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