Monday, December 29, 2008

Return to The Batcave

I am taking a break. Well deserved maybe, but I am taking it whether I deserve it or not.

So I let all my listings expire so I can work on my new business plan for the new year. I guess all those watchers who weren't ready to buy on ebay must have paniced when the quilt kit listings ran out and I didn't relist them, so they found my ecrater store and I have sold a couple over there this week and even sold one of Missy's checkbook sets. But otherwise I am kickin' back a little and working on fun stuff for a while.

Like swaps, that I really shouldn't be doing because I really don't need any more stuff. Thanks so much Missy for getting me hooked on that! But they are just so darn fun and tonight I spent the night looking at cool patterns for "penny rugs" that really aren't even rugs, but are actually table runners made from felt. I am in a spring swap at the HGTV quilting forum and for some reason decided that these would be fun to make for my 7 days of spring gifts. I haven't quite decided on them yet but it was fun looking at the patterns.

Another thing I have been working on is 2 new blogs. I have decided that this blog didn't really end up to be what I intended it to be, which was a site for me to promote my business and talk about my crafty endeavours. Since this has turned into more of a family blog I felt that I should separate the two and I am going to be moving my family chatter to a new site, so Up the Rainbow Creek will be more focused on business. I also opened a "cooking school" blog last night, since cooking is something I really enjoy and I have an interest in sharing my knowledge on that subject, but it will also be an advertising /commercial enterprise eventually I hope. I will let you know once I figure all this out.

Matt Update: finally got to see the orthopedic doc today and it was pretty good news, except Matt didn't take it that way. The broken vertabrae is lined up and should heal well, he has weakness and tingling on the left side because the nerve bundle that goes through the vertabrae is the nerves to his left arm and should clear up when everything heals. The important thing is to stabilize the neck and and allow time to heal. That is the part Matty didn't like, he wants this to be over and to get back to work. There is still a chance that he may need surgery for ligament damage if there is soft tissue injury that could make his neck unstable, so they are going to schedule an MRI to check that out. I think we all feel better knowing what is going on and he will be OK, even if he doesn't feel that way right now.

Today is the last day of 2008, had a few ups and downs, bumps and bruises this year as always, but with 2 new grandsons and so many wonderful memories and all the love and support we have in this family this was one of the best year's ever, and I am sure next year will be even better. That's all the chatter I got for today, catch ya next year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wise Man Meets Barbie

Ok, to be honest I was not sure I was going to survive the week. The kids got here on Monday and no cookies were baked, the tree wasn't even decorated and no presents were wrapped. Heck, half of them weren't even made yet, so it would have been pointless to try to wrap them.

Anna had been promised that she could decorate her own tree when she got here and she was anxious to get started. I was planning on having her decorate the little one in the family room but seeing that the big one was completely bare still I quickly wrapped some lights around it and let her go at it. Kyle and Morgan joined in and the next thing I knew they had the most beautiful creation. Not everyone has a Christmas tree with teddy bear in a leapord costume hiding in the branches and a yellow balloon animal of some sort perched just below the angel. They were very proud of it and I wouldn't change a thing on it.

Tuesday night we finally got some baking done, kind of. I think it was actually early Wed morning when we got to the fudge. Mark and Mark were doing a little partying in the kitchen and they were making us crazy because they were so loud and couldn't take a hint that we wanted them to get out of the kitchen and leave us to our important work. In fact the more we hinted the more obnoxious they became and we were eventually rolling on the floor laughing. So I finally said they needed to leave because fudge making is serious business and that prompted Mark B to come over and start grazing through all the cookies just to aggravate me. Finally he gave up after he got me mad enough.

It was another one of our exclusive creations. Our top secret peanut butter fudge recipe is so top secret we aren't even sure what the recipe is. So we had our annual Great Fudge Recipe Debate and finally agreed on the peanut butter/chocolate layered fudge recipe and realized then we wouldn't have any marshmallow cream for the plain chocolate batch. I had a partial bag of mini marshmallows and we googled some recipes and made up one we thought would do. Both batches turned out perfect and we limped off to bed at 3 am or so, vowing an early start on the meatballs, turkey, ham and cheese balls. Right!

So somehow we managed to get all the food going by about 1:30 pm and get the house looking nice and festive. Mark W was taking care of a lot of honey-do's and wrapping gifts and Anna had been playing quietly by herself in the family room waiting for the other kids to arrive. Kaish decided to take some pictures to show Milena and she walked into the family room to take a picture of the mantel and found that one of the wise men from the nativity had apparently swept Barbie off her feet and was planning to run off with her! We thought it was too funny so we had to leave it that way. When Fred got here he seemed to think the scene was a bit too risque and felt compelled to adjust the cleavage a bit.

For some reason I was surprised that this many kids can sound like a herd of elephants when they are racing up and down a 50' long tile hallway and running in a circle through the living room, kitchen, family room and back down the hallway. I had to enlist some helpers to get my presents wrapped so we could let them start opening them.

They kind of sat still for exactly as long as it took to take this picture. Poor little Anna was in bed with an earache by this time, so she is missing from the picture.
The hit of the year were the singing animals that Grandma Ruth got for all the kids from the Cracker Barrel gift shop. We heard about this from all the parents who got to listen to singing chipmunks and "YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT!" all day long on Christmas day. I am thinking Mark and Kaisha will want to shout when they get to listen to that for 2,300 miles in the car. HA! HA!
Carter and David's first Christmas
Morgan says David "has candy cane clothes!"

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night's sleep, I sure need it!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today's Special: Slightly Used Apples

I had a baggy full of slightly used apples. You know the ones that the kids say they want, and they don't want them cut up and they take about 3 or 4 nibbles and then you find them abandoned on the coffee table because they ran off to play. So I cut off the nibbled parts and washed them and put them in a bag in the frig.

Tonight I was wanting to bake something so I would have a little sweet something for my afternoon snacks. I came across a recipe for a caramel apple cake and remembered those apples in the frig so I came up with the idea of using a cake mix and adding 1/2 cup of applesauce, the slightly used apples peeled and diced fine and some chopped walnuts and cinnamon. I baked it in a tube pan and frosted it with caramels melted in microwave with milk, added some powdered sugar and a Tbl of butter and poured over it. I think it could have used some decorating if I was serving it to anybody else, but it turned out pretty tasty. So now you know what you can do with slightly used apples.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I have some good news... and bad news

So, as they always say, give me the good news first.

Kaisha and I decided last night that they could make it out here for Christmas if they drive in the new family truckster.

See how happy the kids were that last time they were here for Christmas. They were just tiny bugs then.

Since we are going to be driving to IL the day after Christmas we can caravan together with them and the kids. It should be so much fun!
I stopped by that new gift shop in Sedalia and talked to the owner and she said that I could have some space to set up my coat racks to sell my purses! She actually was pretty excited about it and said Di can bring some dolls to sell too. We are meeting there Friday to set that up.

I really had fun doing the new pattern, and I sold another one yesterday! I decided to list it here too. So one more step on my way to my new year's business plan. I just feel really good about that.

Now the bad news, of course.

Mark W. doesn't want to drive out here, says it is too far. They sound like old farts. No sense of adventure!

Avon decided that they want to move the schedule up and sell campaign 1 before the end of the year. They are supposedly going to bring a truck in on Christmas eve and want it delivered on Christmas day or the day after. Then they are sending the day 4, 6 and 7 trucks the next week. So no trip to IL.

ebay sales have dropped like a rock. My listings all just ended with only one item that got bids. I was really hoping to have some money coming in to put toward my new business plan.

No worries. I am not giving up hope yet. Things have a way of working out. They will. I just have to believe that.
We will all be together for the best Christmas ever and then I am going to see my mom and dad!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Workin' the Graveyard Shift

That CL lady actually paid me for the pattern! I guess you know what that means. I had to take a break from trying to organize this mess:

That pile is actually most of my quilt kit fabrics that I work from every day. Is that a disgrace or what?

And I did get the pattern mostly done. And it actually really looks good. I got the pictures sized and layed out in the right places with the words wrapped around them in a pretty attractive way. Which is more than I can do on this blog site. But that might come to me one day soon.

Anyway I think this pattern should be well worth the $12.95 for all the comprehensive knowledge I am passing along. It took me quite some time to design all these projects and perfect the construction of them all from my own little brain. Now here I am for a mere $12.95 plus FREE SHIPPING, willing to give it all up.

I have had some debates with a few folks on this subject, but what I maintain is that there are two completely different markets for patterns and supplies and handcrafted items. Those who are do it yourselfers are not going to buy finished items because they know that they can do it themself. But they will buy patterns and kits because they don't have the time or the skill to just design something on their own.

I have had a few people contact me to say how much they liked my purse tutorial on this blog. They seemed surprised that I would post the instructions for free. That makes me happy too. I love free tutorials and have found some really good ones that have inspired me. It's not always about the $12.95 to me either. Sometimes it just feels good to give something. More about that later.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Martha Stewart Didn't Make It, Again

Oh I always fancy the thought of a perfect holiday, my house perfectly clean, the tables perfectly decorated, the perfect dinner perfectly served in an orderly elegant manner. HA!

Of course none of that ever happens. But the food is awesome, the kids have a blast and we laugh and get really loud. A scandalous mess awaits me when I wake up the next day.
I guess that is just a different kind of perfection. I wouldn't trade a minute of it for that fantasy perfect dinner.
Morgan and the twins made these beautiful centerpieces for the tables. If that isn't perfect I don't know what is!

Well there was one minor imperfection. NO PUMPKIN PIE???!!! Ahem, Marly ... I sure did miss that leftover pie I was counting on for my afternoon snack.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ok, let's get cookin'

I got so much work done the last couple of days, I am even impressing myself. I got a couple more purses done and listed almost everything I have left from the craft show. So I am ready for Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever happens. I might even sell something if I am lucky. If not I work for the sheer pleasure of existing in my happy little batcave.

But my house is trashed from absolute neglect so tomorrow is going to be a marathon of cleaning, cooking and looking forward to the kickoff of the official holiday season. Missy says Morgan is already getting excited. Like mother like daughter. She is planning to come to grandma's and decorate and play with her friends. I have some baskets and pinecones and floral picks for the girls to make centerpieces for the tables. How fun is that?!!

I guess the more grandkids you have the better it gets. So much to be thankful for and so much fun to look forward to. I love Thanksgiving! And pumpkin pie.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Challenging My Inner Writer

or some such BS.

I write in my head all day, for as long as I can remember. But as soon as I put a keyboard in front of my face it all goes POOF! Gone. Now what was it that I had to pontificate on and on in my brain about?

So when I am actually forced to write something other than a grocery list (which I will forget to take to the store anyway) I guess I can come through with some appropriate and understandable language. Which is to say that I can bang out a pretty decent ebay listing without too much trouble now. Everything else is a start and stop effort. I use the backspace key so much I am surprised it hasn't worn out.

I am wondering if technical writing really counts as writing. 'Cause I decided a while back that patterns seem to be pretty profitable and on a whim I listed a pattern for sale for 12 quick and easy rag quilt projects. This seems like a great idea for the holidays because people love handmade gifts and with the economy tanking people are looking for cheap gifts to make. I figured if anyone buys it I would just whip it up and send it out. I originally listed it on craig's list and got one buyer who never paid. Of course. CL is just loaded with beggars who never want to pay for anything but will drive you nuts with emails and phone calls asking 101 questions and hoping that you will get sick of hearing from them and just give them the damn widget to get them to stop calling. Which has actually happened to me. But that wasn't really my point.

My point is that now I have to write the instructions for this pattern and it turns out that it is really harder than I pictured it in my head. I thought I had the wording all right there on the tip of my fingertips when I was writing this pattern in my head. And now that I have the keyboard in front of me, where did the words go? Well I am off to look for them. Will let you know how the pattern sells. I think it will be a blockbuster!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Funday

I survived the craft show and I am not going to bore you with the details, but I think I am getting too old for that kind of stress, but probably too dumb to remember that next year when someone mentions craft fairs. I learned a little bit of the do's and don'ts and might try it again if my memory fades enough by then.

So I guess Sunday's are my goof around day, even though I don't ever mean them to be. I start out thinking that I am working on something and end up piddling around making something that I find personally satisfying even if it isn't going to sell. Like all those crazy quilt stocking ornaments and table toppers that Ididn't sell. That's OK. Today I was working on instructions for a pattern I am going to sell. It is "12 Quick and Easy Rag Quilt Projects" and it includes 3 raggy ornaments, a heart, a star and a stocking.

Since I have never actually made any of these raggy ornaments I decided that I should try some so I would have a better grasp of how to write the instuctions.

So I fooled around all day and ended up with 6 pretty cute ornies. The star somehow turned into a Santa star. Was supposed to be a plain old raggy star, but I like him and might even include him in my pattern instructions.
So Sunday Funday is fine with me. Tomorrow I will work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All Ragged Out

Well I made it to the craft show setup and was only missing 6 purses, 5 wallets, and two baby quilts. The purses still need buttons and the quilts need to be clipped and washed. I will get them there by Friday. Of course I forgot my camera, so pics tomorrow.

I planned on finishing the purses tonight but was stahhhrvin' when I got home so I set out to make a decent dinner. Chicken Alfredo casserole which I just made up, kind of a mac 'n cheese redux, but much better with parmagan reggioano cream cheese sauce, penne pasta, chicken and peas and carrots.

Then I was going to clean the kitchen up, but I sat down and promptly fell asleep, until the phone rang. I got up and thought maybe a little something for dessert would be nice too. So I made up another Jiffy muffin mix recipe and it turned out really good. So, in case you are tuned in Mona, this is a pretty good little cheater recipe and it makes a small cake to serve for a few people. I did it in a loaf pan but could probably use an 8x8 if you want.

Jiffy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

In small mixing bowl soak 3 Tbl oatmeal in 1/4 cup very hot water til water is absorbed
Add 1 Tbl cocoa powder, 1 box Jiffy Oatmeal Muffin Mix, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup milk
Stir in a handful (about 1/2 cup?) chocolate chips
Spray large loaf pan or 8X8 baking pan with nonstick spray, pour batter into pan
Sprinkle the top with another handful of chocolate chips and chopped nuts (optional)
Bake in 350 degree oven 20-25 mins until edges are brown and center is set.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spam... Really!

I heard a news report that due to the economy the folks at Hormel are doing double shifts to keep up with the increased demand for SPAM ... the so called "everyone's favorite canned ham."

Really people, I think we could do better than that for coming up with ideas to economize. In fact I don't even think at $2.49 for 12 ounces that SPAM is that cheap. I got a 3 lb. bag of chicken breasts on special at Wally's for 5 bucks the other day. The pieces were small but 3 lbs is 3 lbs. With a .96 box of stuffing and 6 pieces of chicken that is $3.46 for dinner for 6. "So what are people doing with this SPAM anyway?" I wondered. Of course I googled it and sure enough there are websites like this with recipes for things like SPAM Carbonara and Cheesy SPAM Rolls. Yummm...

So this is the kind of stuff that I actually spend my time contemplating while I am creating fabulous quilts and table runners and potholders down in the batcave. Unfortunately I didn't get any of them finished yet because I ran out of the fabric I needed for binding the runners. I did get a few raggy runners and coaster sets done yesterday, but they are not washed yet so no pics 'til tomorrow.

Here is what I am going to do tomorrow with the rest of the bag of chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie

Dice chicken into bite size pieces and saute with chopped onions in a little olive oil. Add 2 Tbl butter to pan and 1/4 cup flour, stir to blend, then slowly add one can of chicken broth, this will make a thick gravy. Add about 1 cup of milk and bring to boil, thin with more milk if needed. Add 1/2 bag of frozen mixed veggies and one potato diced small, salt and pepper to taste. Bring the pan back to a simmer. Pour into 13"X9" baking dish. Separate one can of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (actually I use Great Value if the are cheaper) and roll them out to flatten a bit. Lay on top of chicken mixture and bake at 375 degrees about 25 mins until biscuits are golden brown.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Bed of Roses

I just couldn't resist buying these fabrics when I saw them at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago. I am not even into shabby chic style, but I could just picture this quilt as soon as I saw them. I think it turned out gorgeous.

I also made two dresser scarves/table toppers and a couple of purses and wallets with the rest of the fabric.

I am hoping this will be an eye-catcher in my craft booth to get buyers in to look!

What do you think?

Did you know? If you click on the pics in this blog you can enlarge them. I just figured that out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Comfort Food

I am obsessed with sewing and trying to get enough stuff made for the craft show now. Actually if I wasn't working on craft show stuff I could probably be selling some quilt kits and purses on ebay and making money. But I am having fun being creative and if these things don't sell at the show I will have plenty of time to list them or else I have everyone covered for Christmas gifts.
This table topper is one that I made from a charm pack of Moda Peace on Earth. It is really pretty, the picture doesn't do it justice.

My other obsession seems to be the economy. Trying to save money has become kind of fun for me. This oven stroganoff recipe is cheap and really good. And the jiffy mix Reeses Muffin recipe I made up tonight was awesome. For 84 cents or so Jiffy mix or Martha White muffin mixes are great!

Oven Stroganoff:
1 pkg beef stew meat, or sirloin cut into 1" cubes
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth
sliced mushrooms and onions
Stir all ingredients together in a large casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hours until meat is tender. Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream. Serve over noodles.

Jiffy Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Muffins
1 pkg Jiffy Mix Chocolate Muffin Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp peanut butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Mix jiffy mix, egg and milk, stir in the chocolate chips. Fill 6 paper lined muffin cups, spoon about 1/2 tsp peanut butter in center of each, push down a bit to cover with batter. Bake at 400 degrees 12-13 mins.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our craft fair debut was fun. But we could defintitely use a little work on our display!

It was tight quarters but we managed to get all our wares displayed and even sold a few items. Being rookies at this it didn't take a whole lot to make us happy.

Kleenex pouches were not such a big hit. I sold 1 of the 38 that I stayed up all night making. It was one that matched the purses that Andrea and mom have. I figured if it didn't sell I could give it to Andrea. Went out for a break and when I came back Andrea was paying Marly for it!

I lowered my price on those potholders to $12 and sold a couple. WhooHoo!

Now we are psyched for craft shows and looking into getting us into one more before the end of the year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

4:30 a.m. Ready For the Craft Show

I am ready for our big day at the craft show. Got everything packed. Set up time is 7 a.m. so I am really ahead of time. Only thing is I have not gone to bed yet. Maybe an hour or two of sleep would be a good idea. But I am thinking if I go to sleep now there is no way I am making it anywhere at 7 a.m. I don't do mornings and at my age pulling these all nighters is rough. This is two in one week since I spent the night at the hospital with Matt and Krissy on Wednesday. That set me back a little on my crafting, but hey, I do what I can. Thanks Gail! for the kleenex pouch pattern. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have anything to sell. This should be fun, I haven't done a craft show since Marly was expecting Benny and we had the Pecan Pie Incident. I am doubting there will be any pecan pies for sale. Too bad, I could really go for a pie right now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome, David Matthew

Good Morning. David Matthew arrived early this A.M. at 00:53
He is 6 lb 9 oz, 21" long.
Long day and long story, but everyone is doing well. Mommy, daddy and baby are all exhausted. Me too. I am off to bed for a nap.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A $150 Pot Holder?

I am all caught up with orders, stocked up on quilt kit fabrics and I was looking for some small projects to whip out for the craft show. I figured if I just stay home and work on some small items I can manage something to take to the show. And the pefect idea came to me when I was browsing one of my quilt books. She had this cute quilted trivet that was filled with a little bag of shmelly shtuff so when you put a hot pot on there it will fill your kitchen with the scent of apple cinnamon good shmelling shtuff.

I fell for a new Moda print that Carol just got in at Sew-Ciety and grabbed two charm packs and a couple of yards. It is called Bistro and has two colorways that I love. But before I cut into them I decided to try the potholder with something I am not so committed to, found this charm pack of "Winter" and figured I would try the depression block pattern. Just had to downsize it to an 8" block and add a border. Cut the charm squares into 2 1/2" squares. I hate to waste half of each so I decided to stitch on either side of the diagonal line and cut down the middle rather than stitch down the middle and scrap the other half triangle. And my block would be about a half inch smaller. This was pretty challenging for me and it took me all day to get the 32 little triangles together to make this one block. I didn't have any yardage to match so used this homey check and then put a pillow sham style backing so the pouch can be removed for washing. Concocting the shmelly shtuff was a whole 'nother adventure. I am on my second round of trying to find the right mix of popourri, rice and excelsior for filling. So I guess if I can sell this potholder for about $150 .... Maybe Cindy McCain needs one for each of her houses? Of course I persisted in my madness and got 7 more done on Sunday so that should cover her and leave one for the craft show.

I guess I will hold off cutting into the Bistro fabric for now. My friend Gail gave me her top secret pattern for making purse size tissue pack holders that can be done in about 5 mins, so there is still hope I can get something done for the craft show. As soon as I finish the trick or treat bags for the kids and quilt kit orders ... sigh

Friday, October 24, 2008

Call the Cardioligist Mac n Cheese

I don't eat mac n cheese because that stuff in the blue box is just disgusting. I used to buy it for the kids when they were old enough to cook it for themselves, which is to say that I never actually made it and fed it to my kids myself. Then they came up with an even more disgusting one called "easy mac" which I have tasted and it tasted exactly like slimy water to me.

So suddenly I got a craving for mac n cheese yesterday. I guess since I am still in my zone of serenity and feeling so content that mac n cheese hit me as a comfort food. My mom used to make the kind that starts with a bechemel and then you add cheese, etc. I didn't want to muck around with all that. So I looked up some recipes for the kind of mac n cheese that really is comfort food and then chucked those and made up my own recipe as usual. Here is what I came up with from ingredients I had on hand:

Melt about a 3 inch chunk of Velveeta diced with 1 cup milk and 2 Tbl butter in the microwave.
Add about 2 big handfuls of grated cheddar cheese to the hot milk mixture, let stand
When noodles are cooked (I used 8 oz. mini penne) put them in a large bowl and pour the mixture over them. Add a big spoonful of sour cream, 1 egg and more milk if needed to make it really creamy. Pour into sprayed casserole dish. Chop up two slices of bread and top the casserole, drizzle with a little melted butter or olive oil, bake at 350 for about 30 mins.

Now don't have a heart attack, this makes enough for 8-10 servings. The trick of course is to only eat one serving.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Economic Crisis Is Working For Me

This huge crisis is going on around us, a bazillion $$$$ are being spent to fix it. Why does everyone seem so normal, going about their daily business and happy as clams? I went to the Rockyard to get my growlers filled a couple days ago, it was packed with people enjoying happy hour as usual, laughing, drinking and generally ignoring the crisis. As for me I am in a complete zone of serenity. Maybe it is the poor working stiffs who are not feeling any panic. We don't have a dog in the hunt so life goes on. I am kind of a freak, so when Mark said his boss was coming to town last week I said, "Is he going to fire you?" He just looked at me like I was from another planet, which may be so. But he just came here to hang out for a couple of days, said "you're doing a great job" and left. We actually never figured out why he was here. I won't speculate about why he called the week before to ask Mark what the name of the hotel was where they busted all those hookers. Let's just assume it is because the rooms are cheap, huh?

So my sales have been better than they have ever been. Baby rag quilt kits are becoming a little boring but I am planning on shopping around and getting some new designs on line soon. I did a Santa and Snowman kit that I listed yesterday. Next two weeks are going to be busy trying to come up with some items for the craft show. If I don't get busy soon I will just have to sit there and watch Marly sell her cute wooly mitten ornies, and Missy selling her checkbook covers. I have a few ornies made up. Here are the Santa and Snowman. I have some of them cut out just have to get to sewin' em. Actually I started those last year, and ran out of time. Now I have all this new fabric and all these new projects that I want to do. Soooo much fabric, so little time!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Holy Pumpkin Roll Batwoman! What are your thinking?

So I must have too much on my mind or spending too much time in the batcave is getting to me. I keep making goofy mistakes.

First there was the quilt quandry. I sold a lavender butterfly rag quilt set. This is the set. I had a very busy week that week and sold a couple of purses and diaper bags and lots of quilt kits too. Then I got this feedback on ebay from the lady who bought the quilt:
"I thought this was suppose to be lavender,but already sewn together."
The feedback was positive and no complaint from the buyer but I was curious what this meant. So I emailed and asked her if there was a problem. I got this response: The item was fine, just thought it was lavender, already made it for a gift.
So I emailed again and asked if she got a lavender butterfly quilt with pillow. She said "no, I got a pink quilt kit, but it was very nice so I just made it to give for a gift. " No request for a refund or anything. Now I have not heard a word from whoever got the quilt, so can I assume they are happy with it? Today I had 5 quilt kits to ship and was I ever careful to make sure I got the labels on the right packages.
Then the pumpkin roll. I was craving this and got everything to make it a couple days ago. I had some chicken and dumplings cooking and decided to mix up the cake and throw it in the oven. I had it all mixed and then checked the recipe one more time to be sure I had all the ingredients in there. That is when I noticed that the recipe called for 2/3 cup of pumpkin. NOT the whole can? Geez, I figured I could double it and make two but I had used my last 3 eggs. So I decided to just add extra flour and baking powder and make it into a cake. Forgetting that it did not have any oil in the original recipe and that cakes have oil, it turned out a bit "heavy" shall we say. I am going to make some cream cheese frosting for it and call it a pumpkin bread I guess.

The Great Grape Massacre

I tried to put my jammin' pics up last night and gave up 'cause they wouldn't stay where I wanted them. But the jam turned out very nicely and I had a very tasty PB&J toast sandwich for breakfast this morning. I have only got half of the jam made so far, my stupid electronic glass stove decided to shut down on me last night halfway through processing the third batch. I wasn't sure how long they had been in the water bath, but they popped when I took them out to cool so I guess they are sealed OK.

Anyway I got 8 pints and 8 half pints done and can hopefully get the rest done tomorrow night. That should be plenty to keep us through the year and some to share with Miss Cassidy, who loves her "doni jelly."

I think I want to get a bread maker. With all this jam we are going to need a lot of bread and I hate going to the store. I could just buy those big bags of flour at Sams and make my own. And while the bread is making I can be down in the batcave sewing instead of taking the time to drive to the store.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

From the Garden

Here is my trunk loaded with all the goodies from the garden at Marly's. We picked all these yesterday while mom was in surgery.

The grapes are just beautiful and the fragrance from them is amazing.

I came home with:

34 1/2 lbs of gorgeous ripe tomatoes

3 1/2 lbs of cherry tomatoes

19 lbs of grapes

I have never made grape jelly before and can't wait to see how it turns out.

I decided to make freezer salsa from the tomatoes. After reading all the info online about canning salsa I am not sure I want to go for that yet. You have to have the acid content just right to prevent spoiling, that's something I didn't know. I am new to canning and try to follow all the rules. Also Wally's was out of canning jars so I had to go to King Soopers for them and paid $3/box more than wally's. That sucks, but maybe next year I will plan ahead and get them when they are abundunt. Right...

Tomorrow: The Great Grape Massacre!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Can't Believe It

October 5 already, for goodness sake! Don't know how that is possible. Matt and Krystal's baby "Scooter" is due in 4 weeks now. Marissa had a baby shower for her yesterday. OMG, I hadn't seen Krissy in a while and could not believe how big she is. Four more weeks? I am not too sure about that. The shower was fun and I got to have fun helping her plan it and making the invitations. Andrea finished the sweater she started for Carter before he was born, it is a little too small for him now. So she gave it to Krystal and only had to finish putting the buttons on after the shower. That's just Andrea! We had to laugh when she showed up and asked if anyone had a sewing needle. Morgan thought the baby gifts were for Carter and tried to give them to him.
I guess she will understand this new baby thing soon. She says Matt and Krystal are going to have another Carter.
I really haven't been slacking off. I had a ton of quilt kits and bags sell in the past couple of weeks that kept me so busy and made me happy that things are selling again. So where do I get time for all my new projects? I started playing around with the felt bags I want to make for the craft show and really got into those, but had to put them aside to do real work. Then I made some ornaments and had to put those aside too. Made a really cute rag quilt charm square wallet pattern and got a few of those done. I have my orders from the weekend ready to ship tomorrow and will get Milena's quilt finished tomorrow. Now can I go out and play?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Morgan and Carter

Morgan and Carter came over for a visit today. Morgan has been missing Grandma and TaTa so much since they moved out two weeks ago. She was only 22 months old when they moved in with us last November, so I don't think she has much memory of living away from us before. Marissa told her they were coming to see us today and she wanted to know if she could bring her bed with her!

Morgan loves to paint and Marissa got some projects for her to paint for us. She brought TaTa a present for his birthday. It is a wooden plaque with pictures of Morgan and Carter.

She brought me a very beautiful birdhouse. I thought she did an excellent job on it and we decided to put it on a shelf in the new playroom.

I bought some strawberries for Morgan and told her I had a surprise for her. So we went to look in the little frig for her surprise. Of course she spotted the Boston Creme Cake I had bought for dessert and said "Chocolate cake for me!" and grabbed it and tried to run off with it. I had to talk her into trading the cake for one of TaTa's birthday cookies.

Marissa told me Carter is sitting up pretty good now so I plopped him on the floor in a sitting position and walked off. He went thunk and fell right over. So it was explained to me that he is not sitting up quite that well yet. But he didn't seem too upset, at least not as upset as his mama was.
When it was time to go home Morgan was not ready to leave. But TaTa gave her some of his special birthday cookies to take home in her backpack and that made her happy. I think she was pretty tired too, and since mama wouldn't let her bring her bed she was probably happy to go home anyway.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Swappin' Fun

Marissa found this group on called "Color Me Happy Swaparooni." It is an online swap group where you are assigned a swap buddy and exchange a gift for whatever theme the group has selected that month.
Last month was the Creature Comforts and Leisure, pillowcase and and book swap. It was so much fun. My swap buddy was Paulette, from Tennessee. I really enjoyed getting to know more about her. She works with her husband on their farm raising natural foods and homeschools her 3 beautiful girls. Her blog Capturing Today is so interesting. She sent me a cute embroidered pillowcase with my name on it and a great historical novel, with a pretty handmade beaded bookmark.

So Mark totally doesn't get it why someone would go online and sign up to send gifts to a perfect stranger for absolutely no reason. I guess if you put it that way it does sound a bit strange.
I tried to explain it to him this way.
Me: You know how we have been married for 30 years and every birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or Valentines you don't have a clue what to give me or what I would like?
Him: Yeah...
Me: So I can go on the internet and make a list of my basic likes and dislikes. I like red, orange, summertime, cottage style, etc. And a perfect stranger will send me a wonderful surprise in the mail. And I get something that I love and I don't have to tell her what to buy or go buy it myself.
Him: I don't get it.
Me: It's a girl thing.
Him: OK, whatever.
This month is the Local and Fair Trade Swap. I am not having so much luck on that one. But I still have a few days, so will hopefully pull it together by the deadline.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh, It Can't Be The End

Can it really be Labor Day weekend already? That means the end of summer doesn't it? How sad. And yet, there is something about fall that just never fails to stir some anticipation of crisp sunny days, delicious meals loaded with fall veggies, and slowing down the pace of life a bit. (The start of a new football season with delusions that the Broncos might have a winning season is always adds an interesting element too.)

I read one time that most people actually think of Autumn as the real "new year" since the traditional school year begins and we started a new grade with new teachers, and most importantly, new school supplies and "school clothes." Of course it was always too hot on the first day of school to wear your favorite new fall outfit. What a disappointment!

Now the summer break is so short and the kids in our area are back in school in early August, so I wonder if they will have the same association with Autumn that the older generations do.

I have even started collecting some gorgeous new fabrics for Christmas runners and candle mats to make. Some for gifts and some for sale. I have so many projects lined up, you would think I could stay out of the fabric stores and stay home and sew and get some new kits ready to list. That is my plan at least.

Here is a fall table runner I made for my mom last year.
I really love that Alexander Henry fabric in the center. Unfortunately I only bought a yard of it and when I went back to buy more it was gone.
I have seen a few new Moda prints that I have my eye on, we'll see how long I can hold out without buying anything new.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My peach jam!

I did all my peach canning a few days after we got back from Pallisade.
I ended up with 3 batches of jam, one batch of peach and sweet cherry pie filling, and one batch of peach salsa.

The Peach and Cherry Cobbler filling will make a nice gift basket for Christmas this year!

My peach salsa recipe called for 4 jalapeno peppers, but I thought it could have used a little more heat for my taste. Maybe it will develop a little more spice after it was processed. I am planning to pop open a jar next time I have a little party.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Make A Charm Pack Raggy Quilt Purse -Here's How

These little rag quilt bags are fun to make and actually very simple. For this one I used a Moda Charm Pack and about 2/3 yard of coordinating fabric for lining and pockets. What you actually will need is: 25 5" charm squares, 25 5" lining squares, 19 4" Warm n' Natural batting squares and about a 2" X 10" scrap for the button loop. This makes a finished bag that is approx. 12"X8" with a 4" gusset (that is the depth part.)

Here is my charm pack, it is called "Portugal"

Next I cut 25 5" squares from the coordinating fabric for the lining.

The 19 batting squares will be cut to 4".

Here are all the materials ready to go.

Now you make the 3 layer "quilt sandwich" by laying the top face down, the batting square is centered on the top, then lay the backing square face up.

Make 19 sandwiches, set the other squares aside for now.

If you have any doubts about your ability to sew a straight line you may want to mark an X on the back of your sandwiches.

Do this using a fabric marking pencil or a water soluble marker.

You might try stitching a few Xs and see how accurate you are, these do not have to be perfect so if you get them pretty close you can go ahead and skip this step.

The quickest way to sew the Xs is to chain stitch the squares. Stitch from corner to corner in each direction.

Here is a nice pile of finished squares. Clip them apart.

Lay out your front, back, two sides (gusset) and the bottom. I chose to alternate light and dark squares, but since this is a charm pack you can just lay them out randomly and they will look great I am sure.

Yes, that is my real sewing machine. I call her The Beast.

Now using a 1/2" seam allowance for all seams,
stitch the 3 rows of the front and back together. Stitch top and bottom squares to make the 3 rows for each side.

Be sure to stitch the squares WRONG SIDES TOGETHER so the seam will be exposed on the outside of the bag.

Make 3 pockets from the 6 left over lining squares. Stitch across the top, Right Sides Together, press the seam and topstitch on the outside. Lay two pockets down on row 1 of front of bag. Lay row 2 on top of row 1. Stitch from top to bottom.

Repeat this step, adding row 3.

For back of bag stitch the 3 rows together with seam exposed, of course.

Stitch the bottom 3 squares together now too.

Stitch the front to the bottom, starting at the the intersection of the X and the 1/2" seam allowance. Stitch across the bottom of the bag leaving 1/2" open on each end.

Stitch the back side to the bottom in the same manner.

Now you will have something resembling a little mini quilt. The top two rows are the front, the middle row is the bottom and the last two rows are the back.

Stitch the two squares for each side together too.

Lay the side piece on top of the front of bag and stitch from top to 1/2" from the bottom. This will be at the intersection of the X. Now stitch the back and side together from top to bottom, leaving 1/2" seam allowance open.

NOTE: Take care that you align the edges of the pockets with the front and side before stitching.

Repeat this for the other side.

This is what the side will look like when stitched.

Now pin the bottom and side together.

Stitch the side panel across the bottom between the X intersection. I usually backstitch a couple times to make sure the corner is nice and tight.

The body of the bag is done and ready for the finishing touches! WHEW!

That wasn't really so hard was it?

Here is and inside view of the bag and the 3 handy little pockets.

Take the remaining 6 squares and stitch them together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seams to one side.

Cut the strip in half to make two 2 1/2" strips.

Cut a strip of batting 1 1/2" wide X approx 28" long. Center the batting on one strip and then pin the other strip in place on top.

Stitch the strap together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Stitch again 1/4" inside the first row of stitching.

I like to clip the strap before attaching it to the bag. Using a sharp scissors or spring type snipper, clip the edges every 1/4" to just outside of the stitching line. Do this on both sides of the strap.

Pin the strap in between the layers on each end of the bag taking care to center them.

Make a button loop with a 2" X 10" scrap of lining fabric. Fold in half wrong sides together and stitch, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn with a safety pin. Topstitch close to edges. Fold in half and lay flat to form a point. Stitch across the upper edge of point. Pin in place between layers of back center of bag.

Stitch around the top of bag 1/2" from edge. Stitch again 1/4" outside first row of stitching.

Clip all exposed seams, taking care not to clip into your stitching lines. Clip 1/2" - 1/4" apart. The smaller your clips the fluffier your "chenille bloom" will be.

Run your raggy bag through a gentle rinse cycle in the washing machine. Dry on low heat. I add a sweatshirt or a couple of towels to the dryer to help it dry faster and come out nice and fluffy.

Add a button to the front. I used a covered button on this one. Vintage buttons or a large decorative button are also a nice finishing touch. Enjoy!

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