New Fall Items

Many of you know that I have an Etsy shop, Sweet Pie Studio, where I sell personalized monogrammed items such as burp cloths.  Here are a couple of my best sellers:

 

Although I have a few dish towels in the shop already, this fall I decided to add some seasonal dish towels, or tea towels as my momma would say.  I really like this flower vase and flowers, so may colors and textures going on here.

 

I really love monograms and hope to do more with them in the future but for this fall I decided on a monogram in a fall wreath that can be framed and added to your fall home decor.  It really works best to frame it and leave out the glass so you can see and touch the texture of the embroidery.  It will fit nicely into an 8″x8″ frame.  I think this is my favorite fall item in the shop.

 

And just for fun I decided to add a couple of pillow covers.  I really debated on selling these with or without the pillow insert and decided for shipping purposes to go without the pillow insert.  If anyone really wants a pillow insert included just let me know and I will supply one.  I have so many ideas for pillow covers so will probably be adding more of these in the future.

If you have not visited my Etsy shop yet, I would love for you to stop by and look around.  Keep in mind that I love custom orders…..if you think of something and do not see it, let me know and maybe we can create it!

Buffalo Check Quilt

I have been a fan of buffalo check for many years, long before it became a popular modern farmhouse staple.  At least two master bedroom decors ago, I had a black and white buffalo check duvet made.  That was long before we took pictures of everything we made, or ate or every place we visited so unfortunately I do not have a picture of that duvet.  Over the years I have re-purposed the fabric from that duvet to create several items including a window seat cushion, upholstery for a rocking chair, a few pillows and I still have some of that fabric left over.

Several months ago I ran across a buffalo quilt picture on Pinterest and I decided right then and there I needed to make one.  I bought black, gray and white fabric and begin the process of measuring, cutting and piecing the quilt.  The quilt top went together quickly and for about a minute I considered quilting it myself.  I have machine quilted several crib size quilts and one full size quilt on my sewing machine.  I immediately remembered how cumbersome quilting the large quilt was on the small sewing machine so I decided to send it out for machine quilting.

I have used Missouri Star Quilt Company to do quilting before and also a local quilter who has since retired.  This time I came across an Etsy vendor Nancy’sQuiltingCoShop who mentioned she had a fast turn around time and was less expensive than other quilters I had used.  I worked with Nancy to pick a quilting pattern, mailed her my quilt top and about a week later I received my quilted top back.  That was FAST!!!  I am very happy with her work and will send quilts to her again in the future!

I love this new quilt and cannot wait for a cool evening so I can snuggle under it while watching tv!

I also recently made a baby quilt for a friend’s new grandchild and embroidered the baby statistics into the quilt.  It turned out really cute.  You can see it on my Instagram profile page @swtpiestudio.

My husband the NASCAR driver….

…..well for about 5 minutes anyway!

I think my husband’s love for all wheeled vehicles started with his matchbox car collection which still holds a valued place in his home office.

When he was growing up he would help his father work on cars any chance he got.  As a teenager he and his friend Andy (the best man at our wedding) spent hours tinkering with Andy’s 1957 Chevy.  I asked if they ever got it to run and he said it ran well, but they would replace the engine or the transmission just because they could.  Cruising to school in the hot rod was a favorite pastime.  Sure wish I had a picture of that.

Eventually Andy and Dave started a yearly tradition of traveling to Indiana for the Memorial Day Indianapolis 500 race.

That lasted for about ten years before kids and family commitments started to get in the way.  Although occasionally he has been to both Indy and NASCAR races since then.

It was about this same time Dave bought a new bicycle and started riding with family and friends.  I am thinking he rode in the annual MS-150 charity bicycle ride for about 10-12 years before all of his bicycle buddies started hitting 50 years old.  Then they all went out and bought Harleys!  You can read about that transition from bicycles to motorcycles by clicking here.

Through all of these other wheeled past-times Dave has never lost his love for cars.  I think he has been a subscriber to Car and Driver Magazine for at least 30 years.  If he is watching TV it is typically some car show……do you know how many different car shows one can find on cable?!?!?

I provided all this history to give you a feel for his life long love affair with vehicles (two or four wheels).  When I was trying to decide what to get him for this birthday this year I happened across the NASCAR Racing Experience at the Kansas Speedway.  It was the perfect present for him!

A week ago it was time for him to cash in his present and I have to admit it was a fun activity even for us spectators.  The staff was wonderful and extremely safety conscience.  Dave started with a 40 minute training session for drivers. He said he had not been nervous at all until the instructor started talking about all the things to remember;  where to drive on the track, where to keep the RPM’s (5000 or less), no burn-outs, make sure the left wheel does not touch the apron or the car may spin out, and many other “rules.”

We upgraded his “experience” to allow him to ride with a professional driver before he drove on his own.  Oh yes, there are many opportunities to upgrade only limited by the amount of money you want to spend!  Dave and the driver did three laps and got up to at least 160 mph.  I am not sure that provided much relief for his concern.

As he was preparing for his solo experience I realized I would never even be able to ride in one of these vehicles.  Do you know they do not have doors?   You have to crawl in and out through the window!  Even if I could do that, there is a claustrophobia factor there.

Since NASCAR is synonymous with loud, here is a short video with the pit crew signaling that he is buckled in and ready to go.

 

He finally got to drive all by himself, although there was a spotter watching and talking to him through a speaker in his helmet the entire time.  The control tower even has a remote control where they can turn off your car if you are not following the rules.  Overall, he said it was harder than he thought it would be but he loved every minute of it!  He was a little disappointed because he only got his speed up to 146 mph!!! That seems pretty darn fast to me….

My guess is that this was just enough to whet his appetite!

 

 

 

An Obsession and a New Adventure!

Last fall when I was facing surgery and knew I would be laying low for about 12 weeks to recover, I decided to purchase a new sewing/embroidery machine.  Since I already own two sewing machines I really purchased it more for the embroidery capabilities than anything else……..except for that self-threading needle!!!!  Pretty sure I decided to buy it the minute the sales clerk showed me that feature.

Isn’t she beautiful!?!?!?

To say I have been sewing frequently is a bit of an understatement.  If I am not helping with those adorable grandbabies of mine, I am at my sewing machine trying a new design or making a gift for someone.  I have sewn/embroidered bath towels, flannel scarves, scarves for furry friends;

baby blankets and kitchen towels;

napkins and baby bibs;

doll diapers and doll carriers,

and I even embroidered on a jeans jacket.

About five years ago when my first grandchild was born, my nephew’s wife embroidered a few cloth diapers to use as a burp cloth and gave them to my daughter as a gift.  I have been a little obsessed by them ever since and currently they are my favorite thing to make.  They are definitely a practical baby gift since all new mother’s can use a few extra burp cloths,  but they are also adorable, especially with the baby’s name embroidered on them.  The design possibilities are endless and can be tailored to the family who is receiving it.  Here is the latest set I made for a family friend’s new baby.

I love these burp cloths so much that I have decided to open an Etsy store and make them available to anyone else who needs a baby shower, welcome home baby gift or just something for your favorite baby!!

I have several examples of items in the shop but since they are made to order, I can probably accommodate any design you have in mind.  I love trying new designs!  In addition to the burp cloths I have added a few kitchen towels to the shop.  I am just getting started so will be adding new items frequently.

Please come stop by the shop and if you know anyone who is looking for a unique personalized gift please pass this information along!

Here is where you can find me https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetPieStudio.

Quilts for the Triplets

As many of you know I have been blessed to be a grandmother to six adorable children, three of which are seventeen-month old triplets.

christmas-2018

They are so darn cute and so fun now that they are toddling around but I might be a little biased.  I have made all my grandchildren handmade quilts when they were born and I finally finished the quilts for these three in time to give them for Christmas.

I started with Nora’s quilt and selected pink and gray fabrics.

nora2

I really like the floral fabric that I used on the back and to bind the quilt. If you look in the lower left corner you can see that I added her name to the quilt.  As I was finishing this quilt I bought a new sewing/embroidery machine and was just learning to use it.  I was actually at the point where I was getting ready to start the quilting so I only pulled apart this little square to get her name on it.

nora3

nora1

The fabric for the boy’s quilts is from Missouri Star Quilt company in Hamilton, Missouri, my favorite place to shop for quilt fabric.  They have the best selection of fabric of any quilt store I have visited in person.  Actually the company is made up of twelve different store fronts on Main street with each having their own fabric theme.  I bought the fabric for the boy’s quilts in the kids shop and I sure had a hard time making a selection, so many cute choices.

asher1  asher2

asher3

As you can see, I had become a little more knowledgeable on my embroidery machine by the time I was making this quilt so was able to add a name block along with the year it was made to both Asher and Bentley’s quilts.

bentley1

bentley2

In the past I have always hand-quilted or had my quilts machine quilted by someone else.  Since I had a new sewing machine I thought I would try my hand at machine quilting these quilts for the boys.  It was easier than I thought it would be and it went very quickly since I only used straight line quilting for my first attempt.  Not sure I would be brave enough to do it on a full size quilt yet but it worked great for these crib size quilts.

bentley3

I have been thinking about what my next quilt will be and am thinking about making one for Dave and I, it has been a long time since I have done that.  Now to pick a pattern and maybe make another trip to Missouri Start Quilt Company  (yea!!!!).

cancer

There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to get you thinking about life……

  • Have I accomplished all I want to accomplish in my life?
  • Has my life turned out the way I envisioned it would?
  • What are the important things in my life?
  • What should I stop doing?
  • What should I start doing?

At the end of July 2018,  I went for my normal yearly exam feeling great and having no unusual symptoms.  Two weeks after that I found myself having a biopsy, being diagnosed with endometrial cancer and making an appointment with an oncologist.  Life sometimes throws you a curve ball when you least expect it.  Just a year before I had retired from my accounting position to help my daughter and son-in-law with their three year old and brand new triplets. I was very busy and people relied on me, I did not have time to be sick!

Insert laughter from above here…..like I had any control of the situation at all!  Within a couple of weeks I had surgery and started an eight week recovery where I could not lift anything greater than 10 pounds.  That certainly ruled out picking up my sweet grandchildren.  The time was good for me though, I did some self reflection and slowed down for the first time in many years.

I am very fortunate to have had a very early cancer diagnosis and one that is highly curable.  A quick surgery with no chemotherapy or radiation treatments seems to have left me cancer free.  I thank God for that!  But being the human that I am,  it is not a surprise that the mind will wonder down paths that are dark and not pleasant.  I truly have no fear of dying because I believe in God and his merciful grace.  However, when I thought about having to say good-bye to my loved ones I was struck with such pain.  It was a scenario I could not fathom……just too hard to consider.  I am in a much better place now and know I do not have to travel in that direction for the time being.  Obviously we will all be there someday and in retrospect it would seem like such a gift to be able to say good-bye if that time comes.  So many lose loved one’s unexpectedly and do not have that chance.

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I visited my oncologist today for my “End of Treatment” appointment.  I was told there is about a 5% chance in my case that the cancer will return.  Pretty good odds I think!  I will continue to visit with the oncologist every three months for the next three years and every six months for two years after that to keep close tabs on my health.  Honestly I almost feel bad about telling anyone I had cancer since for me it was such a quick event with a successful outcome.  So many others fight this disease for years and even lose their fight.  My oncologist told me that this is a common feeling for those in my same situation but I need to remember that each cancer diagnosis is unique and each person experiences a different emotional reaction.  Depression and even a fear of recurrence can cripple even the strongest person.

For me, I just want to concentrate on being thankful and grateful for my family, my friends and all the experiences I have had in my life.  I hung this sign up recently and I hope to practice this everyday!

I made bagels!!!

Hello friends, I have been absent around here for a long time because, well…….. life!  However, yesterday I made a recipe that I just had to share with you all.

I found the SkinnyTaste blog several years ago when I was attending Weight Watchers.  All of the recipes on Gina Homolka’s site include Weight Watchers points and nutrition information.  She has an incredible number of recipes and one that I love and have made several times is the individual meatloaves with skinny mashed potatoes.  A while back she published a cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow that my cookbook club just happens to be cooking from this year.

When I saw this no-boil bagel recipe from Skinnytaste pop up on my Instagram feed, I knew I would have to try it.   These bagels are about half the size of a Panera bagel and have about half the calories (300 for a Panera everything bagel and 152 for these bagels).  However, the real news is that even though half the size they still have the same 10g of protein due to the greek yogurt in the recipe.  I promise this recipe is EASY, EASY, EASY!

Easy Bagels

The original recipe makes only four bagels but I doubled the recipe to make eight which is what I reflect below:

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups non-fat greek yogurt

2 egg whites

Everything Seasoning (see note below)

Steps

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

2. Stir the yogurt into the flour mixture until combined.

3. Move the dough to a lightly floured countertop and knead about 15 times.  The dough will be slightly sticky.

4. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into a rope about 9 inches long, then shape into a bagel.

 

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5. Place the bagels on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or with parchment sprayed with oil.  I highly recommend a silpat which I use for almost all my baking.

6. Use the egg white to wash the bagels….I gave each at least two coats.

7. Then sprinkle each bagel with Everything Seasoning.  I also use this seasoning on baked chicken breasts.   To make the seasoning I used:

1 T black sesame seeds

1 T white sesame seeds

2 T poppy seeds

2 T dried garlic flakes

2 T dried onion flakes

 

 

8. Bake the bagels for 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  Cool ten minutes before slicing if you can stand it.  I will guarantee you will be starving by the time these are done, they smell soooooo good!

 

I am already thinking about my next batch, Asiago cheese, cinnamon….the possibilities are endless.  Let me know if you try them!

Fabulous Fall

I have mentioned many, many times on this blog that fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about it.

Lovefall

Today was a glorious, sunny day and I wanted to find some activity to get outside and enjoy the weather.  I have been noticing that several of my neighbors have been very creative in their fall decor so I decided to snap a few pictures and share some of the eye candy with you.

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Are you inspired yet?  Have you done any outside decorations at your house, if so send me a picture!  If you need additional inspiration, here are some links to fall related items that I have done in previous years.

October

Pumpkins and Mums

It’s Fall, Y’all!

It’s beginning to look alot like….

Fall entertaining workshop

 

 

 

New Patio and Firepit

We built our current house twenty years ago this November and over the years have often thought it would be nice to have a bigger patio area than the standard builder’s size that was installed originally.   Last winter we finally drew up a plan and obtained a few quotes.  We made our final decision in April which is the WORST time to get in the que for landscape contractors.  Everyone is thinking of their outdoor projects and hiring these contractors at the same time.  We were told there was about a twelve week waiting list which would make our install mid to late July.    Even though half the summer would be over by that time, we figured fall would be the best time for the fire pit anyway so we decided to go ahead with the plan.

Our contractor, Hinkle Hardscapes, did a great job of keeping us updated with a weekly on-line newsletter showing us the updated que and teasing us with photos of their current projects.  Amazingly enough, the install process started very close to the projected date they provided 12 weeks earlier.  This is not always the norm when hiring out for construction projects.  They had told us the project would take about five days and in reality it only took four.

The first day they delivered a dumpster to our drive-way which they used to haul off the construction debris.

They also demo’d the existing patio and set the forms for the new one.

At the same time all this was going on at our house, our triplet grandchildren decided to be born so we became a little too distracted to take pictures on day two.  However, on that day they prepared the area for the concrete by laying down gravel, leveling it out and installing the rebar.

The third day, the crew poured and stamped the concrete and I managed to take at least one picture when they were done.

On the final day of install, many activities were completed including, cutting expansion joints, sealing the concrete, staining the border and building the firepit.

 

 

 

After the crew left we had a few things to finish off; some touch-up painting around the door and trim, adding dirt and grass seed around the edge of the patio and decorating with furniture both new and old.

 

 

There are so many things I love about this new space including four different conversation areas,

 

the new dining area and space for the grill and smoker,

and of course the firepit!

We wasted no time inviting friends over to cook-out and enjoy the patio.  We had a beautiful, and somewhat unusual cool August evening that was perfect for the first fire.  When the sun went down all ten of us pulled our chairs around the new fire pit and there was easily room for a couple more.  Pretty sure this is my new favorite “room” in our house!

Now for the before and after…….

 

Strip Quilt

Before my grand daughter Aria was born I made her a gender neutral quilt because her parents chose not to find out if they were having a boy or girl.  My daughter Kayla decorated the nursery with a cute mint/gray color scheme that I matched for Aria’s quilt.

Finished1

You can read about that quilt here.  Infants do not use bulky quilts much so that quilt still seems almost brand new.  Since one of Aria’s new baby brothers (yes, she will soon have three new siblings!) will be using that original mint/gray bedding, Kayla is going to pass that crib quilt down to him.

Aria recently moved into a new room with a new toddler bed and I had been thinking about making her a new quilt to match.  A few weeks ago I made three mini quilts for her triplet dolls.

triplets

Kayla told me that night Aria insisted her mom and dad lay those three mini quilts over her for bedtime even though they probably did not even cover her legs.    I knew I needed to get her new quilt made quickly.

I had been wanting to try a “quilt as you go” quilt because it was suppose to be fast so I went to the fabric store with a strip quilt in mind and selected five different fabrics.

Fabric

I cut the fabric into strips the width of the material and into random 1 1/2″ to 5 1/2″ pieces that when pieced together would measure approximately 48″ long.  I think I cut 19 strips in total.

Cut-Strips

I also cut a piece of fabric the size of the quilt backing and strips of fabric for the binding.  I laid out the strips randomly to see how it would look as a finished quilt then sewed them directly onto the batting and quilt backing.  There are several good tutorials on-line that shows exactly how to do this, including the one I used here.

Quilt-1

After purchasing and washing the fabric, it took about eight hours to cut, sew and bind the quilt.

quilt2

Quilt-3-

It was a fun,  fast quilt to make.  I hope she likes it as much as she did the doll quilts!