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Stock the Bar Party

So a few weeks ago my husband and I were invited to a Stock the Bar Shower.  It is like a bridal shower except for a toaster or a spice rack everyone brings BOOZE!!  That was for sure our kind of shower.  So instead of just bringing a bottle of something we decided to do something more fun.  I forgot to take pictures while I was doing so which is probably because I was drinking the “left over” booze but here are the directions:

We went to Ace Hardware and got a $2 plain bucket then taped it off with some painters tape and put chalkboard paint ( a few layers) in the middle.  This is so you can write a cute message for the bride and groom there.

We then hot clued little bottles of liquor onto dal rods and let them dry

We then got some baby beers and glued them to a circular cake sheet so the bucket would have something to sit on.  We also glued some shot glasses and put the red cups there. Don’t try to hot glue those red cups they will melt like chocolate in Texas. We also put glued some extra beers around the bucket

So lastly we poured about 4 bags of peanuts into the bucket and arranged the little bottles there.

This was the hit of the party and was so cheap to make!!

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Every year my husband’s family draws names for which adult we will be buying for that Christmas.  This past year I drew my Mother-in-law Marcy as my person to buy for.  Most people complain about their Mother-in-laws, but really mine is amazing.  She is an amazing artist (post to come soon).   She does oil and acrylic painting, but her newest passion is turning plain old gourds into amazing works of art. She is one of the most generous people you will ever meet and sincerity shines through her every action.  

Marcy’s sweet spirit has shined through some of the toughest days imaginable.  She has managed to raise 3 wonderful children and I was lucky enough to marry her only son.  She was widowed in 2000 and in 2010 she married a wonderful man named David. I have never seen her happier.  I wanted to make a gift that showed how much I appreciate her.  I had recently learned how to quilt and had fallen in love with it and decided that I would throw together a quilt!  It was going to be EASY!  There was a sale on jelly rolls and I was going to just sew the strips together and go!  HA!

I bought 2 jelly rolls of Hullabaloo by Moda and went in search of inspiration. Image

 It was perfect! Colorful and feminine but fun as well!  I buy these rolls and rush home!  When I get home I unroll all the wonderful strips of beautiful fabric and everything changes.  I don’t like how the colors fit.  My eye sees two distinctly different colorways. One pink and one red.  OH NO!  

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Marcy’s Quilt Front

I split the color ways up and decide that I will pick up a few yards of solids and have red on one side and pink on the other.  I run to my favorite store and grab some gray and some red and get back to piecing.  no real rhyme or reason to the piecing but I finished quickly.  I put it down to start basting and I REALLY don’t like the way it looks.  What now?  I like them individually but not together.  I did what I thought seemed logical.  I decided to turn it into 2 different quilts.  Logical Right?  The pink colorway was PERFECT for Marcy and the red colorway was PERFECT for my sister. I run back to the fabric store and find backing for both and head home.  I must say that after all that I am really glad that my husband’s family celebrates Christmas on New Years!  It saved me a sleepless night or two!

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Kitchen Sink Stuffed Peppers

After a lazy Sunday, or cave day, like we call it at our house I decided that we should probably have a dinner that wasn’t cereal.  So I looked in the fridge and noticed that I like Michelle (fellow hoecake) had some cowboy caviar left over from potluck that needed to be used so I decided to put it into stuffed bell peppers.  Because there is no amount of money that would persuade me to go to the grocery store on a Sunday evening i decided to just use what I had on hand.  So be creative here and please do not go to the grocery store if you don’t have to!

Ingredients:

Bell Peppers-I only had two and this recipe makes a lot!!

Turkey sausage links

spinach-about two handfulls

Rice-I used instant white rice

Cowboy Caviar (if you don;t have this use corn, black beans, cilantro, peppers, anything goes here)

Shredded Mozarella

Corn Tortillas-I just baked these for chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350

Cook the rice like you would normally

Remove the sausage from the casing and brown in a little bit of olive oilImage

Once the sausage is almost done add the spinach.  I am always trying to sneak spinach into recipes because me husband is not the biggest fan.  Once that is done add the rice and the cowboy caviar to the mixture and turn off

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Once that is just chilling, cut the tops off you bell peppers and clean out.  Helpful hint-I always cut a little bit off the bottom so they won’t fall over

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Fill peppers and top with Mozzarella and put in the oven for about 20 minutes

Here is what the final looked like with baked corn tortillas.  ENJOY

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Fast and Easy Jelly Roll and Charm Pack Quilt – Part 1

This block started a little something like this…Sometimes I go to my favorite fabric store, the Cabbage Rose http://www.cabbagerosequilting.com/, during my lunch break and just wander around.  This usually puts me in a better mood and I usually end up buying something for my stash.  One day while I was there the owner had lost her cell phone and shouted that whoever found it would get a free charm pack. It was on!  I had seen the Half Moon Modern by Moda charm pack and I wanted it!  I love a bargain and free is even better!  I was going to win!  So I waited and listened and I almost took out a display but I found the phone!  The problem then was I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.  I talked to the wonderful staff and then came up with this pattern. I bought the correspondeing jelly roll, my idea of a neutral gray solid and got to stitching.

This block is made with 1 jelly roll (2.5 inches wide), 1 charm pack (42 5 inch squares) and 1 solid color (I got 3 yards and if I have some left over I will incorporate it in the back or use it for bindng).  This will WOW your friends and is really quite easy!  The only parts of this block that you can’t skimp on are 1) a consistent seam allowance and 2) you really need to iron all the seams before moving on to the next step.

**I didn’t like some of the squares in my charm pack so I found a couple of complimentary fabrics and substituted the ones I didn’t like.  The red pictured was one of those replacements**

The first thing you want to do is decide how wide you want your connecting strips to be.  I wanted the color of the outside “panes” and the interior “window” to be the focus so I made my connectors 1 inch finished.  (I cut each of those to 1.5 inches for a 1 inch finished piece.) I wanted my interior solid frames to be larger than my connectors but smaller than my panes so I wanted them to be 1.5 inches finished.

Lets start by cutting your fabric for your first block!

Cut 2 pieces of your solid fabric 2 inches X 5 inches.  Cut 2 more pieces that are 2 inches X 7.5 inches.  Begin by sewing the 5 inch X 2 inch strips to each side of your charm square. Press your seams open and continue. You now have a rectangular piece.

Take your 2 inch X 7.5 inch strips and attach to the top and bottom of your rectangular piece.  Press your seams open and continue.  You now have a charm square that is framed by your solid.

Now take 1 of your jelly roll strips.  Cut 4 pieces from your jelly roll that are 3.5 inches long.  Cut 4 pieces from your solid fabric that are 1.5 inches X 2.5 inches.  Take 2 of your 3.5 and sew the solid piece to each.  This makes your first pane and connector piece.  Repeat with the next 2*3.5 pieces and 1*1.5 piece.  Press your seams open and continue.

Take the 2 pieces that you just put together and sew to the sides of your charm square framed by your solid.  This should measure exactly.  If you happen to have some hangover during this step, mark the center and trim the ends.  Press your seams open and continue.

Now take the remaining section of your jelly roll strip and cut 4 strips in 5.5 inch sections.  You are going to assemble these longer pieces just like you did the shorter pieces.  Press seams open and attach to the top and bottom of your  block.  Press 1 last time and admire your work.

Part 2 – Putting the Blocks Together is coming soon!

My Beauty, they call her The Beast

The Beast, in all her glory.

I am still, after many years, a novice quilter – I’m also the one who doesn’t understand why I have to iron everything, or why math ever has to enter the picture while I’m blissfully sewing away, making one crooked quilt after another.  Which is probably why I’m still a novice. I put so much love and heart into my quilts,  I hope it somehow compensates for the  fact that you have to lean sideways to see my design.
I sew on a 1960’s mint green CAST IRON vintage Perfection sewing machine, and I’d like to tell you the story of my torrid and tumultuous love affair with my machine. She was named The Beast as in my friends would watch me sew and say “Good God, that thing is a Beast”.   Damn right she is.
The true origin of my machine is mysterious and unknown. Some have said that stitches from my machine were found in the couture garments sewn for Jackie O during the Camelot years in the White House.  Others have whispered about unconfirmed sightings of my machine in the jungles of Vietnam, patching and mending uniforms  for our troops.
I remember my Mom sewing  Halloween costumes for us  when we were little.  She was not the most patient of seamstresses,  but The Beast was always faithful and tolerant of her temper tantrums.  That was certainly good practice for  when I came along. When the sewing bug bit me in my 20’s, I  asked if I could borrow the machine.  Eventually I had  it completely refurbished to the glorious state she is in today.  I have her cleaned and serviced once a month, and I sit by like a proud Mother Hen while my repairman gushes over her.  We both have no doubt she will sew forever.
She weighs in at about 85 pounds, just shy of her fighting weight of 92 pounds.   When I have to carry her, you will see me stopping and letting her rest every few feet.   I am always careful to place her on a table that is suitable for her.  More than once I have set her on one end or the other, only to watch her flip the entire table over as she is obviously unhappy with the spot I have chosen.  This is just one of the subtle ways she communicates with me.  She is rarely fussy and would sew through sheet metal if I asked her to.  She sits proudly at the end of my dining room table, and we have dinner as a family together every night.

Flowers for my girl.

She has a great sense of humor.  A friend was telling me about how when her machine runs out of bobbin, a little sad face appears on her sewing machine’s computer screen.  I saw The Beast roll her eyes and scoff.  I then explained that when my machine runs out of bobbin, she lets me know by pointing and laughing when I  take out my entire piece  and it is not sewn together.  Ah, that Beast! So michevious!
She is no wallflower, never timid or submissive. When I press her pedal and stitches are sewn, you are sure as hell going to know it,  and so is everyone within a half mile radius.  Her sweet song has been described as similar to “the rapid fire of a Tommy machine gun.”
Obviously, I love my machine more than I probably should.  I am sometimes surprised when I remove my fabric and it has turned out perfect, when I never imagined it would.  Her spirit is strong, and she is loyal.  I can’t ask for much more than that.

Vodka Roses

So you’ve spent your whole year working on your roses. You’ve pulled at least one hammy trying to see which cane you should prune and trying to figure out exactly which direction “the outward growth is in a regular and even fashion” would be.  And now spring is here and there they are:  those beautiful, fragrant blooms that you actually take pictures of and send to your friends.

When cutting roses from your garden for an arrangement, there are a few simple things to remember. First, I will show you when NOT to cut them:

Yes this rose is nice.  But way past its prime to last much longer than a day.  And as you will CLEARLY be announcing to everyone within earshot that these were NOT purchased but actually grown by your own two hands, don’t cut a rose that looks like this.  It will droop and drop all over your table. No bueno.

Instead, think ahead and cut for your arrangement something like this:

This rose will open up in a few hours to the perfect bloom and people will talk for weeks about how amazing you are with your roses. And we know that’s what it’s all about in the end.

And the secret to making them open up and practically sing with joy? Vodka. Right there in the water.  How much, you ask? Well I like to follow the a-little-for-me, a-little-for-you rule. Just a splash will do. Pour it in your fresh water and watch the magic happen. (I do need to mention that this only works for ROSES — no other flower will respond as appropriately as the rose will. They will respond inappropriately as most drunks do.)

So raise your glass and pour it in the vase —

(this post was brought to you by my sister and guest blogger, Heatheroo. The girl just knows about flowers; it’s a gift)

Conquering Hexagons with Dr. Seuss

I thought I would share pictures of the hexagon quilt I made for my nephew’s 3rd birthday.

I have wanted to work with hexagons since I can remember.  Everything I read on piecing them was terrifying!  Paper piecing, running stitches and templates OH MY!  Then out of nowhere, I stumbled across a super simple way to piece them using a machine.  I took the information I found and added my own spin on that technique.  I did conquer the hexagon and it is no longer a scary and time-consuming process. I also challenged myself by free motion quilting the whole thing.

I will be posting a tutorial on machine piecing hexagons the hoecake way in the very near future.  It is so easy!

**I apologize for the poor photo quality.  I have a habit of giving away my work without photographing it.**