Monday, October 17, 2011

Classic Pumpkin Bars

There are scads of pumpkin recipes floating around these days and I've tried a couple that were good but my all time favorite pumpkin recipe is still a classic Pumpkin Bar with Cream Cheese Frosting. I like them more than a cake because the frosting/cake ratio is closer to being balanced. Haha! If you don't care for cream cheese frosting, #1 What is WRONG with you? and #2 You can cut back on the recipe. Please note that then the dark bar batter will then show through and that's just wrong!
                                      Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
4 eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. veg. oil
15 oz. canned pumpkin

2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 15 by 12" jelly roll pan with cooking spray. In mixer, combine eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well combined. Scrape occasionally. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and nutmeg. Hand mix dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture just until wet. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minute. Cool on wire rack until completely cooled.

8-oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
In mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low. Then add vanilla. Frost cooled bars.

I took a batch to our college boy over the weekend and will take another to a Family Promise dinner today. If you aren't familiar with Family Promise you really should check it out. It's a wonderful program and is making a difference in our community. I hope you are having a great fall!             
Blessings to you,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mountain Ash Wedding

I hope you all have had a chance to enjoy the gorgeous fall days we have been having. Crisp mornings and warm, sunny days help me block out the winter weather that is just around the corner. I am really a "spring" person but one thing I look forward to each fall is the changing color of the beautiful Mountain Ash tree in our yard.
 They are such a brilliant, orange color which makes them perfect for fall crafting.
The clusters seem extra big this year too which really weighs down the branches but is super for getting a big pop of color in arrangements and wreaths.
This year some dear friends had asked to use them in their wedding. They added so much brightness to the reception tables. Because it was held in a huge, historic, rock barn, the bride was quite thrilled with the way they helped brighten the large space up.

 The soloist sang Frank Sinatra's "September Song" and I don't think there was a dry eye in the crowd! It was perfect for a couple who is later in life. Here is the happy couple.
Blessings to you~                    

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3-D Starburst Tutorial

I am SO excited about another 3-D technique that came to my attention last week. While these types of patterns do use a little more fabric, it is amazing how much depth and dimension they add to a quilt. This one comes from Linda over at her blog, Buzzing and Bumbling. She calls it a 3-D Starburst and I think it looks so attractive.
The tutorial can be found here . Linda plans to use it as a tablecloth with her turquoise Fiesta dishes. You can just imagine how pretty it will look, can't you?  It is such a clever way to use colored hankies too!

Speaking of fun 3-D patterns, here is a sneak peek at what I am working on now.
It's a pattern from Cotton Way called "Pinwheel Posies Again". I had never made fabric covered buttons before and was surprised how easy it is to do! The quilt itself will take me awhile since I keep getting distracted by all the cute little crochet hat patterns that keep showing up in my email inbox. :) And by the adorable purse pattern I saw and just HAD to make. I'll post about it as soon as I get the straps on.

Until next time... blessings to you~



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Same... Only Different

I've been busy stitching but in a different form. I decided to take a break from quilting for a week so I could really concentrate on learning to crochet. I really wanted a portable craft for those times when I don't have a binding ready to sew on. After making the obligatory beginner scarf, it was time to move on to something cute and useful. What could fit that bill better than those darling little baby hats with the huge flowers that can be seen on every photography site on the Internet? Here is the fruit of my labor and I have to say, I think I am addicted.
 These can be made in just a few hours (even if you are a beginner) and are a perfect baby gift for those times when you don't have time to make a quilt or you don't know the new parents that well but still want to give them a home stitched gift.
  For an awesome FREE pattern I went to the Aesthetic Nest blog and found just what I was looking for... and a lot more! Here is the link for the tutorial and it is also available in PDF form there.
 And for the baby boys, I went to Anneliese's Etsy shop and purchased the baby earflap hat. Wouldn't want them to feel left out! That will be my next crochet project.
 That particular pattern comes with directions to make this adorable Ruffled Rose so I added it to a hat I already had made. It doesn't seem to matter that the flower is, in fact, larger than a newborn baby's head! It just makes it all that much cuter! lol
   Anneliese explained that crochet is more forgiving than knitting, which a big plus for me. It also is cool that it cannot be reproduced by a machine like knitting can.
  If you haven't learned to crochet yet, I encourage you to try it. It's a great, portable craft that yields beautiful results. I told my husband, "I cannot believe I am making something so cute out of a piece of string!"  Blessing to you~               

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bonus Quilt

I was lamenting to my son last night about never having any original ideas. I almost always have to see some one else's idea before it becomes even a microscopic blip on my brain's creativity radar screen. Then I think, "Now why didn't I think of that!". It's as if my brain is finite, with set boundaries that cannot be expanded. It cannot be forced to go places that don't exist. I do not like fiction books and I didn't teach my kids fairy tales or nursery rhymes. Sad, huh? Kind of makes it awkward during those baby shower nursery rhyme games. Haha! This is why I present to you, with great pride, exhibit A.
 There was no pattern. After what you've just read this is shocking, I know. I had some left over floral fabric from the back of this quilt and wanted to showcase it somehow because I think it is so pretty. I got right brain stretch marks from trying to figure out ways to use what I had and turn it into something of a usable size. I had to piece one of the large flowers to get the number of blocks I needed. In some circles this is seen as tacky. In the senior center quilt group where I volunteer, it is a badge of honor. To depression era folks (the first one, not the one we are in now), it means you were frugal and used what you had in your hand. It is something to be praised and admired.
 I won't tell them I had to go out and buy the border fabric to pull my "bonus quilt " all together. Shhh!

Blessings to you~   


Saturday, August 13, 2011

I May or May Not Be Indecisive

  Ask my family to describe me in one word and they will likely say "indecisive". I don't like being that way but it just sort of ... happens. Take me to a new restaurant with an unfamiliar menu and I'm a mess. I have learned to hide it most of the time to avoid appearing like a crazy goon but, when quilting, it oftentimes overtakes me.

  There are SO many decisions to make before even sewing a stitch! Will the recipient value it? What is their decor style and colors? What pattern should I use? Which fabrics? Paper piece? Or not? What size? And then later... Which batting? Professional quilter or... me? Freehand custom or computerized all-over design? And what color thread? Bias binding? Label? Whew! I'm exhausted just typing this!

  I think I am the reason they started selling quilt kits. Most of the decisions have already been made for you! Trouble is, I always look at the price and say, "One hundred, sixty-nine dollars! I could make it for less than that!". So I am back to where I started from.

  I just finished "That Dorky Homemade Look" by Lisa Boyer. Love her sense of humor and can't wait to read her other book, "Stash Envy". My favorite chapter addresses just this problem. She says the solution is to 1.Make the best decision you can  2.execute it, and 3. learn to love your results. It is really freeing to let go of the stress and not over think it. That way I am not so overwhelmed before I even start that I don't do anything. (Which has happened to me on many occasions)
  Join me as I strive to love my decisions, even if they include some mistakes. Now, what to make for dinner? Sooo many choices!
Blessings to you~


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Raspberry Bread and Cream Cheese Spread

Yesterday I was invited to help a sweet, older woman pick raspberries from a large patch with branches hanging heavy with beautiful, ripe deliciousness. The sky was overcast so even at mid-day, we could comfortably  pick to our hearts content.

My mind kept wandering to a quick bread recipe I hadn't seen for years in my highly organized tangled, chaotic mess of recipes. The moment I got home I began to franticly shuffle through stacks of random pieces of paper with hand scrawled recipes, newspaper clippings and reams of computer generated print outs. It is truly a miracle that I found it and even more so, that I had ALL the ingredients to make it!  

                           RASPBERRY BREAD AND CREAM CHEESE SPREAD         
3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 (3oz.) pkg. red Jello
Stir together and make well in center. Set aside.

3 eggs
2 c. fresh raspberries
1 medium banana
3/4 c. oil
Puree together in blender. Stir into dry ingredients until combined. Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 375' for 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes and then turn out onto rack and cool. Meanwhile, make spread.

8 oz. cream cheese
2 T. powdered sugar
3 T. berry juice
Combine until smooth and spread on a thick slice of bread!

As with most quick breads, it is better the next day, if it lasts that long! Look how pretty the batter is.
I took a slice to my neighbor but had to stop by the flowers and take another picture. Couldn't
 resist! Blessings to you~

Monday, August 1, 2011

Toilet Paper Roll (yup, that's what I said) Wreath

 The "Lawyer" at Sisteroo did it again. This time she has come up with a beautiful craft made out of something we all have a steady supply of. Toilet paper rolls! You would never know of its humble beginnings, would you?
She glammed it up with paint and jewels so it really looks pretty and delicate. You can find the tutorial here if you'd like to make your own. Or you could just read it for the the laughs because she makes even a toilet paper roll craft sound like fun!
Tomorrow, a recipe to use up some of these-
Blessings to you~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chocolate Butterflies and WIP

While checking out blogs I came across Sisteroo and got some great ideas. It's a fun blog by four sisters who have very different backgrounds. I especially fell in love with these lacy chocolate butterflies and dragonflies. Aren't they pretty and delicate looking? "Lawyer" shows us how to make them here with a great tutorial that makes me feel like I could even do it!
This post about turning a plain pair of pumps into a layered heel style that mimics a VERY expensive Kate Spade style is drool worthy also. In a different way, of course.

I rarely post about a work in progress but it was a giveaway requirement so here I go...
It is a charity quilt made from all kinds of dog prints using the 10 minute block technique. I plan to put a solid sashing between the blocks since there are a variety of prints being used. I did manage to make each block from the same print though. It's going together quickly which is fine with me. I like to see fast progress!
Blessings to you,



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cherry Sweet Rolls with Rhubarb Jam

 For one 24-hour period it got cool enough to actually turn on my oven! I knew it had to be for something really good and I had been saving this recipe for such a time as this. They were worth the wait and you can find the recipe here at Barbara Bakes. This dough feels SO good in your hands! I think it's all the eggs and butter. Yum! Sadly, I had no anise but they were delish anyway.
Also, where it calls for black cherry jam, I substituted my homemade rhubarb/strawberry jam.
                                                        Rhubarb Strawberry Jam 
                                        4 c. chopped rhubarb
                                        4 c. sugar
                                        1 box frozen, sweetened strawberries
                                        1 (3oz.) box strawberry gelatin
Mix rhubarb, berries and sugar. Cook and stir for 15 minutes from the time it boils. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until it is dissolved. Pour into jars or freezer containers. It thickens as it cools. I leave one in the fridge at a time and freeze the rest.
Variation: Use 5 c. rhubarb, 4c. sugar, 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple and 2 (3oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin.

Sweet blessings to you~

Monday, July 18, 2011

Celery Heart Stamp

 This idea from Maureen at Maureen Cracknell Handmade really caught my eye. I love the idea of using what you have on hand and this certainly fits the bill! If you remember the potato stamp craze you will not find this strange at all. :D I LOVE the rose shape it duplicates on paper and it has me wondering about all sorts of veggies and what I could stamp with them. You can find Maureen's directions here. While you are visiting, check out her more recent posts showing things she has made using felt flowers. So bright and cheerful!
Making cards

If only I could figure out to do with that jar of Hearts of Palm in my pantry!                                  Blessing to you~                           

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My "Learning Curve"

Whenever I spend time in quilting circles I usually always hear at least one person express their fear of curved piecing. I admit, I was fearful too. Until I found a pattern that was done up into such a beautiful quilt I HAD to give it a try. This is the result...

The pattern is called "Learning Curve" and was found in the August 2006 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. It is written for a 48 1/2" square quilt but I wanted a baby quilt so changed a couple things. I had a lot of fun with it and have to say that the curves really weren't THAT bad. Especially for a small quilt like this.

 As usual, my long arm quilter made up for anything lacking due to my inexperience. I love her for that!
Yes, I know. It's very... well... PINK. But after having three boys, I think I've earned the right to make it as pink as possible for my niece's baby girl. Hope she loves it! Don't the blocks below look a little bit like old fashioned baby carriages. Okay, maybe I went too far that time!
                                          The curly hearts look so nice quilted in there.
 Blessings to you~


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Easy One Seam Potholders

 I had some left over fabric after making the Patriotic Pinwheel Table Runner and decided to make some matching potholders out of it for the same friend. While at Sit and Sew one week someone showed me this easy way to make them so I was eager to try it out.
  All of the squares are cut the same size. I had enough to make 8" squares but make them whatever size you like. First, layer one square, wrong side up. Next, put a square of heat resistant batting.(I used two for extra protection) Then, layer another square, right side up.(This will end up being the bottom of you pot holder.)
 Take the four squares you want showing on the "woven" side of your potholder and press them diagonally, forming triangles. Match one of the short sides of each triangle to the edge of the pile of squares. Work your way all around in this manner.
                                                        This is how it should look.
           Alternatively, you can fold them from side to side forming a rectangle and then layer them.
 When positioning the fourth side you will need to lift the first one to layer it properly. (Like you would if closing a box.)
        Sew around all four sides, without lifting the presser foot, using a 1/4" seam. Clip corners.
                                                           Turn right side out.   
                                                           That's it! Sew easy.
Blessings to you~