Color Block Quilt

I recently completed a color block quilt for my soon to be born third grandchild.  The parents decided not to learn if their newborn would be a girl or boy so they chose the neutral colors of grey and mint for decorating the nursery.  I love this combination of colors and since I had made a grey strip quilt a year ago (see that post here) I actually had some leftover fabric I could use.  The mint fabric I ordered from Carousel Designs where my daughter had picked out this fabric for some of the nursery linens.  You can bet I made sure it was 100% cotton quilting fabric before I ordered it so as not to have the issue I had with my last quilt (read all about that here.)

I cut out all the pieces including the white borders.

Squares

Borders

For some reason I did not take any pictures of piecing this quilt but did get one of the basting process.

Preparing-to-baste

The hand quilting went very quickly since I just quilted “in the ditch” around each of the blocks.  I made the binding out of the mint fabric, sewed it to the quilt on the machine, then hand finished it.  I really like the binding process and I think that is because it just finishes the quilt so nicely.

finish3

Finished1

Baby quilts are so fun to make, they go so quickly and I always think about the sweet little newborn who will be using it.

Bits and Pieces – August 2015

1.  We traveled to Houston a few weeks ago for a grandbaby fix and on the way I noticed these long thin rows of clouds.  It reminded me of perfectly spaced rows of corn, guess I have been spending too much time in Omaha!  I have no idea what these types of clouds are called, but I was in awe of these lines stretching as far as the eyes could see.

houston-7.26.15-web

 

2. Speaking of the grandbabies, these two adorable creatures were my playmates during that trip to Houston.

Levi-6.27.15-web

7.27.15-web

3. Also speaking of grandbabies, only about 4 weeks remain until my middle daughter and her husband bless us with our third grandchild which will be their first. I am so excited to see this little one, I am convinced it is a boy but we will find out soon.

Mom-to-be

4.  Look at these fun benches my brother-in-law Steve has been working on.  Wouldn’t these be perfect in an entryway or on a front porch?

greenbench2a

onesidebencha

modernbench

5.  The ABC Dinner Club is winding down with only four letters of the alphabet remaining.  Check out our “V” selection here.

sign

 

Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Trip to Missouri Star Quilt Company

A few weeks ago by sister, brother-in-law, Dave and I took a day trip about an hour or so north of Kansas City to a small town called Hamilton, Missouri.  Prior to 2008, this small town was best known for it’s most famous son, J.C. Penney, a retailer and philanthropist.

Mural

In late 2008, a phenonomon was starting when some kids got together and bought their mom a long arm quilting machine.  They had no concept of what was to come.

Storefront

I had become acquainted with the Missouri Star Quilt Company by one of the many free quilting tutorials Jenny Doan showcases on YouTube.  The name “Missouri Star” is an old quilt pattern so I assumed that is where the name came from and did not realize their retail store was actually in Missouri and not far from my town.  My sister and I were very excited about finally getting to visit the retail store in person, but after walking through it I have to admit I was a little disappointed.  It was a nice store but very similar to other quilt stores I had been to even in my own town of Kansas City.

quilt-shop-1

quiltshop2

As we were paying for the fabric and notions we had bought,  the clerk mentioned that we need to walk down the street and check out another store.  Since we made the drive we figured it would not hurt to see what else was in the town.  We were flabbergasted…….there are about 15 different store fronts, all fabric stores.  One devoted to solid fabric, one devoted to licensed sports fabrics, one with modern patterns, and the list goes on.  And yes, these are all part of the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  There are a handful of other stores in town, but ninety percent of Davis Street, Hamilton’s main drag, belongs to the Missouri Start Quilt Company.

chevron

solid-colors

When I say it is a mecca for quilters throughout the world, I am not exaggerating.  This sleepy town of about 2000 citizens hosts thousands of on-site visitors each year.   Missouri Star Quilt Company employes 180 people who sew, staff stores and ships thousands of packages a day.  The company is now in the publishing business, food service and is currently planning a “man’s land” to give the husbands of their customers something to do.

bakery

What a story this small town now has!  And for me is it exciting to know that success stories can happen even in the most unlikely of places.  Hamilton is a fun day trip from Kansas City especially if you like to sew or quilt.  I can not wait to go back!

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U is for UNK’s Burgers

006

The ABC Dinner Club is getting close to the end of the alphabet.  Check out where we dined for the letter U here.

Homemade Ice Cream with EASY, EASY Chocolate Dipped Cookies

A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Pioneer Women where she was making homemade ice cream and I was not able to stop thinking about how good that sounded.  With warm weather and the summer cookout season coming up I took the plunge and ordered a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker.

cuisinart

The day I received it Dave was out of town so I decided to fire that baby up and dig in to some homemade strawberry ice cream.  I used the recipe that came with ice cream maker and about 30 minutes later I had something that resembled strawberry ice cream and tasted really good but the texture was really icy, not at all what I had in mind.

I googled “icy homemade ice cream” and sure enough there were several articles on why homemade ice cream turns out icy.  It seems to be associated with the water content in the ice cream and if you are mixing in items with a high water content (like strawberries) the water will crystalize leaving the ice cream with an icy texture.

A few days later I decided to try again but with chocolate….cocoa does not have any water in it so I thought it would be safe.  Sure enough, it was PERFECT!!!

chocolate-ice-cream

I really wanted to try the strawberry again so this time when I purreed the strawberries, I drained them and actually patted them with a paper towel to dry them a little.  The original recipe called for adding lemon juice and I left that out also.  That was the trick……strawberry heaven in a bowl.

Since we were having a cookout over memorial day weekend I decided to serve some of this frozen perfection but I wanted a little something else to go with it so I remembered what I had watched this week on Ina Garten (I know, I watch Food Network way too much!)  Ina had served some homemade ice cream along side chocolate dipped shortbread cookies.  Of course Ina made her own shortbread cookies but as far as I am concerned, Lorna Doone’s are amazing so I decided to just buy some of those but dip them in chocolate myself.

Lorna-Doone

I wrote a post a while back about tempering chocolate for dipping items like fruit.  It is a complex process using multiple pans, water baths and thermometers.  You can read that post here.  Leave it to Ina to come up with a quick process that produces the same results.  If you have ever melted chocolate for dipping you might have seen how the chocolate turns a dusty gray color when it dries, this is called “blooming.” Tempered chocolate dries glossy.

Ina’s method is to melt half of the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second sessions, stirring between each session, until the chocolate is melted.  Remove the chocolate from the microwave.  Break up the second half of the chocolate and stir it in to the hot chocolate mix.  The more you stir the glossier the chocolate will be.  Within just a minute or so all the chocolate will melt and will be ready for dipping your cookies or fruit or whatever you want to dip.  SO EASY!

Choc-dipped-shortbread

Happy Weekend!

 

Small Gatherings|May 2015|Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders

For this month’s small gathering we hosted family and friends for some good ‘ole Kansas City Bar-B-Que, smoked pork sliders and ribs.  Dave is the official griller/smoker in this house but on this particular day he had an obligation away from the house for several hours.  If you have ever smoked meat you understand that it is an all-day process and according to the hubby depending on the quality of your smoker can require a large amount of attention/intervention.  Much to Dave’s unhappiness our smoker is on the low end of the spectrum which means we have to babysit the charcoal fire every hour, all day long.

The night before smoking day, Dave applied his go-to rub (recipe below) to the pork, covered it in foil and refrigerated it for about 12 hours.  The next morning before he left, he started the pork in the smoker and tutored me in the process.

First, I had to make sure this fire did not go out which meant I had to continually add charcoal.   I also had to throw on a few pecan and cherry wood chips every so often.  According to Dave’s smoking bible, “The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake, wood chips add a taste dimension to your finished product.  So far not too hard, but very messy!

Charcoal-Fire

Next I had to slather this hunk of pork with the mop (a basting sauce used to add moisture during the cooking process)every so often and monitor the internal temperature.  We were shooting for an internal temp of 165 degrees before we wrapped the pork in foil with additional mop and continued cooking.

Smoked-Pork

Fortunately for me Dave came home before we had to wrap this beast in foil because I was not quite sure how I was going to do that by myself.  This was a LARGE (and very hot) piece of meat.  We cooked the meat for an additional four hours, about 12 hours in total before it was taken off to cool.  Once it was cooled, the pork was hand pulled and the “finishing flavors” were added.  The next day, about an hour before we served it, the pork was put back on the smoker to add the final touch of smoke.

The process is lengthy but if you enjoy pulled pork it is worth it.

Pulled-Pork

Here is the rub Dave likes to use:

Pulled Pork Rub

“The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake

½ cup Chili Powder

¼ cup Paprika

1 TB Kosher Salt

1 TB Ground Cumin

1 TB Ground Poultry Seasoning

1 TB Superfine Sugar

1 TB Garlic Powder

Combine all ingredients and blend well.  Liberally cover all sides of the pork, wrap the pork in foil and refrigerate for 12 hours.

In the next post I will share the fun dessert we had!

Garage Organization

I have been thinking about doing some garage organization for a couple of years. We park our cars in the garage each night and always come in and out of the house through the garage where I am constantly subjected to this.

 

Before-1

Not my happy place for sure!  The Mr. was not enthused about this project because he had some strange idea that the garage was his domain to do as he wished.  He argued that we could always get 3 cars plus a motorcycle in the garage and that he had seen garages in much worse condition.  I agreed, but wouldn’t it be nice if everything were neat and tidy and you could always find whatever you needed I coaxed?  His reply was that he already knew where everything was.  I finally had to promise him shiny new cabinets with a new workbench to get him to reluctantly agree. Here are a few more pictures of what we started with.

 

Before-2

Before-3

Because we knew this was going to take us a few weekends (four to be exact) we had to do this in stages.  We started by moving everything off the back wall where the new cabinets would be placed and then painted the wall.  The day after we finished the new cabinets were delivered.

Cabinets-delivered

Dave spent a few days assembling the cabinets and securing them to the wall.

Assembling-cabinets

Once that was completed, the hardest part of the project for my gearhead, hoarding, tool-loving husband began.  It started with both of us going through the old cabinets and shelves, grouping like items together and deciding what to discard. For the sake of our marriage it became pretty clear that Dave needed to do this job on his own.

Not only does Dave have a fondness for tools but he also inherited many of his father’s and father-in-law’s tools which resulted in multiple’s of many items.  The beautiful white metal cabinets you see in the before pictures were actually out of his parents original home and he just did not understand why I thought those needed to go.  I must say that Dave ended up doing a great job, even willingly departing with a few items.  I also got a little satisfaction as he was sorting through cabinets and boxes, when I heard him exclaim more than once, “I have been looking for that!”

after3

After the new cabinets were filled up we proceeded with painting the other walls and hanging as many items as we could using all available wall space.

painting

after6

We also painted the steps into the house and built a couple of shelves above the garage sink.

Backentry

shelves-above-sink

One of my favorite items we did was hang two bins above our large recycle container to hold the glass items that our recyclers do not pick up and the plastic bags that we take back to the store.

recycling-bins

At one of our multiple trips to Lowe’s during this project I found some really fun tape that I needed for something, although at the time I just did not know what for.  It was Scotch Brand Tape in a chalkboard finish or a whiteboard finish.  I chose the Chalkboard finish and it came in handy when I labeled the bins.

Even though we still have a lot of “stuff” in the garage, everything has it’s own defined place to land which was exactly my goal for this project.

after4

after17

And just because I love a good before and after picture….here are a couple of more looks!

beforeafter1

Before-and-After-2

Being organized is definitely my happy place!

Linking to Wow us Wednesdays at Savy Southern Style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T is for Tavern at Mission Farms

Check out the “T” installment of the ABC Dinner Club here.

Tavern-entry

Mother’s Day is almost here!

Gift suggestions for Mother’s Day are all over the place right now but I wanted to get my two cents in…..here are a few ideas I came up with!

Mother's-Day-gift-idea1.  Keds for Kate Spade – are these not the cutest sneakers you have seen for awhile?  I can not seem to get enough polka dots these days.

2. Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead cookbook – I love Ina and her calm demeanor.  Wouldn’t you just love to sit down with her for lunch?

3. Flowers are ALWAYS a good idea!

4. Mom’s always love a little bling and this Infinity bracelet from BenyDesign on Etsy is really sweet.  I could see having charms with your kids or even grandkids initials.

5. Itunes gift cards are the perfect personal gift because Mom can pick out music or books for her own taste.  In my case, it would be an audiobook because I love to listen when I am out putting miles on my fitbit….it makes the time go by so much faster!

Happy Weekend friends!

If this quilt could talk….

My second grandchild was born in March, a beautiful little girl named Alexia Grace.

kindra-and-lexi

Months before her arrival her mom showed me the fabrics she had picked out at Carousel Designs to have drapes, a crib skirt, sheets and a changing table pad custom made.  Since fabric was available by the yard,  I had the fabulous idea to buy some of the coordinating fabric and make a quilt for Lexi’s room.  In November I ordered a yard of each of the three fabrics and actually got it on sale for 20% off.  The thought was that I would have it made and give it to her to take back to Texas after she visited at Christmas.  That did not happen.  January came along with an extended stay in Omaha and all I had done was wash the fabric.

fabric

Finally I decided I had better get started so I planned a design on paper using a herringbone pattern.  Then I cut out my squares of fabric and started sewing the squares into layer cakes. If you have no idea what layer cakes are, check out my post here.

cut-squares

chain-stitching

cutting-layer-cakes-2

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that it heard more than it’s share of expletives coming from the mouth of it’s maker.  After all the squares were cut and sewn, I started laying it out in the pattern and it appeared I did not have enough squares.  The actual problem was I had cut the squares 6.5 inches instead of 10.5 inches.  I have no idea where I got that number from.  I had to go back to Carousel Designs and order another yard of two of the fabrics, this time it was not on sale!

It was close to the end of January before I received the new material and I was starting to panic that Lexi would be here before the quilt was done.  I buckled down and spent an entire Saturday in cold, snowy Omaha cutting out the new squares, making the new layer cakes and finally being able to sew the squares into rows.

sewing-rows

Once the entire quilt top was sewn together I hand basted it to the backing and batting and started the process to hand quilt.  If this quilt could talk it would tell you to never attempt to hand quilt something that is not 100% cotton.  Hand quilting requires a loose weave so several stitches can be picked up on one pass of the needle.  It took me about five minutes to realize I would not be hand quilting this tightly woven fabric blend, especially when the needle came through the leather thimble I was wearing and stuck in my finger as I was pushing it through the fabric.  OUCH!

I was totally bummed for a day before I had another idea. In the past I have had a few quilts machined quilted by someone who lives just a few miles from me.  I immediately called her and asked if she would be available to quilt this for me and she said that yes she could do it but her next opening was next September.  Whaaat???  I actually told her to save me the spot because I had just found out I have another grandbaby due next September.   This would not work for Lexi’s quilt though because she was due soon and I realized then that the quilt would not be done before she got here.

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that it traveled halfway across the country and back before it was even finished.  I had one final idea, I have a cousin who lives in the state of Washington and does machine quilting.  I gave her a call and practically begged her to quilt this baby blanket.  She graciously agreed so I removed the basting in the quilt since I knew she would need to do that and packed up all the pieces and shipped them to her.  A week or so passed and I got a phone call from her.  I could tell by the tone of her hello that it was not good news…….the quilt had broken multiple needles on her machine, she was not going to be able to quilt it.  I thanked her for trying and asked her to pack it back up and return it to me.

When I received it back I knew there was only one other choice to finish this quilt and that was to tie it.  Dave even offered to help me pull the needle through with pliers if needed.  My grandmother had tied most of the quilts she made but I had never tried that.  I searched for instructions online and went out bought a few supplies.

tying-supplies

I was pretty disappointed at this point, the quilt was not turning out how I had envisioned it at all.  I started with the tying process and found it was going pretty fast.

tying

About half way through I was starting to like the look of the ties.  It seemed to make this lavender quilt even more feminine, like little bows.  After the tying was completed, I made the binding and finished the quilt.  finished-quilt-4

finished-quilt-3

If this quilt could talk it would tell you that all the challenges in creating it were absolutely worth it when it’s maker saw this sweet picture.

Lexi-with-quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

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