Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 10 - We Are Family!

It's Week 10 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

I know, I know, I totally blew this off last week.  It's a trade off.  I have been substitute teaching a lot lately, and it's derailed my grand planning.  The upside is that it's helping pay for Christmas.  So, there's that.

The last two weeks I have barely crossed anything off my list.  I'm not stressed, though, because I know that whatever I get done is a bonus.  Whatever I don't get done is just the same as it would have been if I had never started.  Whatever.

Back on the horse, and trying desperately to get ready for Thanksgiving company, we're on to week 10, which is a deep clean of the family room.  This room stays fairly picked up because it is in the center of the house and is used so frequently.  The carpet does need a shampoo where some little girl, who shall remain nameless, spilled red juice that she wasn't supposed to have out of the kitchen.  Why we had red juice in the house at all is a whole different mystery.  I know, it says not to shampoo carpets this week, but really?  A red juice stain?  I gotta do it.

Of course we're still freezing dinners and buying gifts and working on our homemade gifts.  Yada yada yada.  Speaking of which, I started a forum topic on SeamedUP about how many people really try to get homemade gifts done for the holidays.  I do not have a good track record in this area.

This is also the week when we are going to polish the silver and clean the glass.  I used to roll my eyes at this one.  One year, when some miracle happened and I got a lot of stuff crossed off these lists, I did it.  Can I just tell you how festive and sparkly it makes your house look when these things are shiny?  Even if you just do the stuff people will see, it makes the holidays feel a little more magical.  If you have time, do it.  It feels great.  If you don't, don't worry.  Only your mother-in-law will notice.  And if she's like mine, she won't even mention it.  Mine is awesome like that. 

Go through the coat closet and donate any coats you no longer wear to a coat drive or local charity.  It's getting cold and someone can use them.  Not to mention, you could use an empty hanger and a spot for your guests' coats. 

Last, put away the Halloween specific decorations sometime after Monday and bring out anything that screams Thanksgiving.  We're rolling, rolling, rolling towards Turkey Day, full speed ahead.  Don't let it run you over!

Are you playing along?  Link up!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I've been sooooo AWOL but I couldn't miss out on Bloggers' Quilt Festival.


I love this, not only because I'm sad not to be in Houston, but also because I try to visit every single entry and always find new and creative blogs that I had never heard of before.

For my entry, I thought I'd share this quilt that I made in 2003.  It is called Bright Hopes, and was a donation to my children's elementary school. 

First, I asked each child in The Bear's kindergarten year what they wanted to be when they grow up.  The answers ranged from the hilarious to the ambitious to the tear jerker.  I printed the answers in fabric pen on 4 1/2" squares of white muslin.

I bought four batiks in each of four colors.  Then I made this block, called Bright Hopes.  This was a true sacrificial gift for me because it involved Y-seams!  But Marcia over at Quilter's Cache has simplified it for you so you don't have to deal with that.  

I cut 1 1/2" strips of each fabric, and added them to the muslin squares.  Then I arranged the blocks so that the colors moved in a diagonal wave through the quilt.

I added a muslin border and hand quilted the name of the school, the year, and a poem I wrote with a jewel toned, variegated thread.  The poem reads:

What will you be when you grow tall?
Will you be famous?  Admired by all?
What will you look like?  What will you do?
Who will you love?  Who will love you?
Just keep in mind when you're put to the test...
You're a hero to me if you give it your best!
I  also hand quilted intersecting circles between each block, but not overlapping any of the muslin.

I printed the poem on the label so it could be read, and bound it in the brightly colored scraps.  I was thrilled that the quilt raised over $2000 for the school!

I hope you like it.  Be sure to visit all of the other quilters in the festival!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gifts From the Studio - Think Pink!

I know, I days are all off.  I meant to post this Thursday but it's been crazy here!

This isn't really a holiday gift, unless you count "watching a friend blossom into an amazing person and advocate through a challenging time" as a holiday...which I guess I do!

This weekend my walking buddy of days gone by is participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For the Cure Breast Cancer Walk.  She is walking with several of our mutual friends, plus her mom and sister who came to town for the event.  If you remember, we whipped up a little something for her mom last summer.  I'm glad to report that her mom is doing great and they should be about half way through the 60 miles right about...NOW!

My foot issues prevented me from walking with them, although I did hop on some of the training walks for a few miles at a time when I could.  It has been an amazing thing to watch my friend get to this point.  When we met and started walking together several years ago, we high fived on the day we bumped it up from two to three miles.  Now she's walking sixty in one weekend, and logged literally hundreds during her training.

I wanted them to know that I was with them in spirit and cheering them every step of the way.  I decided to make some mementos.  The first was this little "scrap tail" that they can write on.  This was easy to do with scraps of pink and white fabric and some fat pink rick-rack.  I used a pinking blade on my rotary cutter, but you could use pinking shears too.

I put the fabric slices back to back with the rick rack in between.  I used a 23" strip of rick rack. The strips were varying sizes, but on average they were 2" wide and 7" long.

Then I just stitched down the center of the rick rack.

And voila!  I thought this would be cute to make even longer like a feather boa, but my buddy wanted something a little shorter to attach to her backpack.  I gave them each a Pigma pen to carry and add names along their journey.

I wanted something extra special for my buddy and her sister to wear in honor of their mom's fight last summer.  I printed a picture of her mom on a fabric sheet, along with "I walk in gratitude for " her name, and "Survivor" on it.  I couldn't leave out mom, so I made one for her with a picture of the three of them and the text "I'm walking with my daughters" and "I'm a survivor!"  I also made one more for my buddy with the picture of a friend who is a survivor AND walking her 5th walk this year!  Yes, I am friends with some amazing women.

Anyway, back to the tut:

I cut 1" strips of pink ribbon fabric and stitched them around the edge of my photo.  Then I made a little quilt sandwich with a piece of pink ribbon fabric and batting cut to the same size.  Make sure your fabrics are right sides together with the batting at the back.

I cut a 4" piece of pink rick rack to tuck in the corner to hang it by.  Make sure to pin the raw edges in your seam allowance, and be sure the middle doesn't get into your stitch line.

Stitch around the edges and leave a small opening for turning.

My buddy said this was a really special way to let everyone know who she was walking for!

To find out about a 3-Day event in your area or to make a donation, visit

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 8 - The Heart of the Home

It's Week 8 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

How does your guest room and bath look?  Mine is not bad.  I just need to spend a day at the mall taking back some returns from The Bear's birthday that have been stashed in there.  That might sound fun to you, but I'd rather go to the dentist than the mall!  If I'm going to shop, I want it to be for fabric.  Clothes don't count.

Moving on to Week 8 in the kitchen.  This is one of the most labor intensive but important weeks, in my opinion.  We spend a lot of time in our kitchen; it truly is the heart of the home.  Since it gets used a lot, it can always stand a deep cleaning.  Luckily, the other side of that coin is that I keep it pretty organized.

Of course this week we will continue with our ongoing tasks of:
  • making a meal to freeze
  • making a batch of goodies to share
  • working an hour a day on homemade gifts
  • buying 1/8 of your gift list (don't forget to wrap and tag!)
The big things to remember this week are:
  1. Make sure you are ready for Halloween.  Is everyone's costume made/purchased/assembled?  You might want to do a quick test run to see if there's an accessory missing, a hem that needs to be raised or lowered, or an area that could stand some reflective tape.  Safety first!  
  2. It's also crunch time on those holiday gifts.  If you are truly stumped, this would be a good time to contact the spouse/sister/best friend of that person to brainstorm some ideas.   
  3. Be honest.  If a homemade gift is not going well, take the pressure off and see if you can come up with something else.  That gift can wait until next year's birthday/Mother's Day/anniversary.  
  4. Buy your pumpkin!
I hope you have a great, productive week and that the weather where you are is as perfect and beautiful as it has been here the last few days.

If you're playing along, link up and share.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gifts From the Kitchen - Even Better Snickerdoodles!

I know I shared my snickerdoodle recipe with you all last year, but I've learned of a way to make these simple cookies even better!

The Pit Boss called on a client at a local movie theater where they bake their own brownies and cookies every day.  It was while we were on the crazy cleanse, so they were off limits.  He said it was the most difficult day he faced the whole four weeks!

On top of the heavenly bakery smell, he realized that the baker had combined two of his favorite things to make an even more perfect thing - snickerdoodle sandwiches with cream cheese frosting filling.  He's been talking about them for weeks, so I decided to test them out for our Homecoming tailgate party.

I made regular snickerdoodles, but flattened them a little bit before I baked them.  Not too much!

Then whipped up some cream cheese frosting, tinted it green for our home team, and smeared a little bit between two cookies.


And, just for you, my peeps, I threw a few in the freezer to see how they would hold up.  I thawed them out today to taste (purely in the interest of science!) and they were just as fantastic as when they were fresh.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 7 - Be Our Guest!

It's Week 7 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

How do the kids' rooms look?  Mine are in various states of organization.  Gracie is probably my child who willingly cleans the most, but often gets off track when she decides to rearrange furniture or reorganize her hair accessories.  This frequently ends with a bigger mess than we started with!  The boys are reluctant helpers but tend to get in and out and finish quickly.

This week we are deep cleaning the guest room and bath.  Mine is usually in pretty good shape since it is on the main level and visible to company, but lately I've been storing stuff in there and keeping the doors closed.  Since we don't have frequent guests, it isn't a big deal.  But this Thanksgiving my cousin and her daughter will stay with us, so I want the room to look fresh and clean.  Looks like I have a busy week ahead of me!

Of course this week we will continue with our ongoing tasks of:
  • making a meal to freeze
  • making a batch of goodies to share
  • working an hour a day on homemade gifts
  • buying 1/8 of your gift list (don't forget to wrap and tag!)
If you decorate for Halloween, make sure to put those items out this week so you get to enjoy them.  

Are you playing along?  Link up and join in!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gifts From the Kitchen - Homemade Pet Treats

In honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, today we are cooking up some special treats for the pets in your life.

Daisy and George's favorites are the liver treats from Bullwrinkle.  These freeze nicely, so you can keep some in your fridge and freeze the rest of a big batch.  They are quick and easy to make, so you won't mind giving them away to your pet's friends.  Or your friend's pets.

I don't normally cut these into little heart shapes, but for gift giving I decided to go all out.  My poor doggies get the cut up outlines, but they don't seem to mind.

George is hilarious with these.  Daisy can catch just about anything, even while laying down.  She is very nonchalant about it, like a major league player catching with the kid from the rec team.  George, however, is so food motivated and impulsive that he often snaps at the treat too soon and it bounces off his snout.  Every catch lifts him out of his sit as he scrambles for the treat. I just had to show you:

Another easy favorite of theirs is sweet potato chips.  I just slice a sweet potato with my mandolin, lay out the slices on a cookie sheet, and place them in the oven on the lowest possible temperature for several hours.  Flip them when you think of it.  These can be saved in an airtight container or frozen.

For your favorite felines, check out some of the recipes here.  Gracie and I decided to make a batch of Sardine Surprise Treats for Maggie, Tiger, and Snicker. 

The internet is an amazing thing.  It turns out there are also recipes for hamster treats, homemade fish treats and treats for reptiles.  We aren't making those, but knock yourself out.

Are you playing along?  Link up!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Do U Uberfest?

There are so many blog hops and quilt alongs going on right now, it's hard to rein yourself in.  I was going to restrict myself to one at a time and focus on the Bloggers Block of the Month, but then I saw Scott Hanson's Quilt-Uberfest over at Blue Nickel Studios.  Let's face it - this will be over before the next Bloggers BOM comes out, so that's not bad, is it?

I'm still on a stash diet, so I couldn't indulge in the gorgeous Sleeping Beauty line that the designers are using.  I decided to use this adorable snowman fabric and a white with a hint of glitter.  I have no idea why I have fabric with glitter.  Don't judge.

Above is my block one, published October 1.  It was designed by John Adams aka Quilt Dad.  It's a cute little block, isn't it?  I wonder what a whole quilt of these would look like?

This is my block 2, Flying North, designed by Miss Print aka Kaye Prince.  It think you could do a lot with this block, swapping around the fabrics where the flying geese are or even putting a different patchwork there.

I can't wait to check out the next 14 days of blocks!  If you decide to join in, come show off your blocks at SeamedUP!  This quilt along has been added to the pattern library so we can all see each other's blocks as we quilt along.

Don't forget to add me as a friend.  I'm QuiltinJenny over there and would love to see you.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 6 - Babes in Toyland

It's Week 6 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

How's your bathroom look?  True confession:  I did nothing on this all week.  I didn't get any gifts bought, I didn't get any meals in the freezer, I didn't even get any goodies made to share.  Ugh!  But, like I always say, it doesn't have to be perfect to be progress.  Anything I do get done is one less thing to worry about in December.

So, fresh start for week 6.  No looking back or swearing I'll get to it.  The bathroom will be fine like it is.  (Okay, maybe I should give the toilet a quick swish.)

This week's deep clean is the kids' rooms and play areas.  It's the week that always feels like too much to me.  Seriously, the attic and garage each get their own week, but all three kids' rooms AND the basement have to be done this week?  Not a chance.  The only good thing is that my kids are finally old enough to do a lot of this themselves.

Of course this week we will continue with our ongoing tasks of:
  • making a meal to freeze
  • making a batch of goodies to share
  • working an hour a day on homemade gifts
  • buying 1/8 of your gift list (don't forget to wrap and tag!)
In addition, it's time to check your smoke detectors and batteries!

Last, make up a basket to keep in the guest room/bath with some travel size items most likely to be forgotten.  It will make your guests feel welcome, and you won't spend the first few hours of their visit running them to the store or looking all over for your own extras.

Are you playing along?  Link up and share!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stock the Freezer Saturday - Marinated Chicken and Veggies

It's Stock the Freezer Saturday, and time to prepare for those unexpected warm days that pop up throughout the fall.  Do you have those?  Here in Georgia, it's not unusual to have a random sunny day where temps hit the high 60s or even low 70s.  In fact, I remember one year when we decorated the Christmas tree in shorts!

The Pit Boss, 1995
Those are the days when I love to hit the outdoor mall nearby for some holiday shopping and inspiration.  The one I like has a wandering Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse and carriage rides, and decorations galore.  These are not the days I want to spend slaving over a stove or worrying about what's for dinner.

With a few quick preparations, you can have a delicious dinner that will cook low and slow in less than an hour on your grill.

First, buy some bone in, skin on chicken.  Some people prefer breasts, some only want leg quarters, some want lots of drumsticks.  It doesn't matter what you choose.

I buy lots when it's on sale.  Now - and here's where it gets complicated - take it out of the package and put it in a large freezer bag.  Pour in about a half a bottle of zesty Italian dressing.  Freeze.

Did I lose you?  LOL!

If you want to get fancy, you can also chop up some fresh veggies that would grill well.  Think bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini.  Blanch them and then put them in their own freezer bag with the rest of the dressing.

Where did that little girl go? 
The morning of your blissfully beautiful fall day, the kind that reminds you that you can survive the rain and fog and chill, take this out to thaw.  Then, about an hour before you want to eat, heat the grill.  Turn it down to low, put the chicken on, and let cook for about 45 minutes.  Turn occasionally to get that crisp outside, but be careful so the juice stays in to keep it moist.

When you take the chicken off, you can turn the grill back up to medium-high and put the veggies on while the chicken rests.  They don't take long, and are the perfect side to this delicious dinner. 

What's in your freezer?  Link up and share!

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