Friday, June 27, 2014

My Most Used Cookbooks

While reading all the lovely blogs I enjoy, I saw that Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen was asking what our four favorite cookbooks are after listing her own. If you haven't seen her hilarious, truthful, full of recipe goodness blog, you are so missing out. 

Of the four she listed, I've only cooked from one: The Pioneer Woman Cooks, which is an amazing book of fantastic photography, great stories about ranch life and, of course, delicious recipes. Although we didn't get to meet her, my youngest daughter and I went to her book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore a few years ago. We stayed over 5 hours and didn't even get close to her but she signed our books and left them for pick up.

My favorite PW recipe is Comfort Meatballs ... and they're going on my To Make List ... yum!
It's just plain impossible to choose my four "favorite" cookbooks. I have over 200 - on a bookshelf in the garage and on the bottom shelf of my kitchen baker's rack. Whatever I'm cooking from most frequently of late is rotated through to my baker's rack. While I can't choose absolute favorites, I figured the books with the most bookmarks/sticky notes were the winners today …

Pictured from top to bottom, they are:

Happy Holidays from the Diva of Do-Ahead by Diane Phillips ~ Exactly what it says, recipes that can, all or in part, be prepared ahead of the meal so you can enjoy time with your family and friends. Love the Roasted Red Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Rosemary and all the compound butters.

The Mac + Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo + Erin Wade ~ One of the newer books on my shelf, this one features a basic b├ęchamel sauce that is the start for 50 mac and cheese recipes from the Homeroom restaurant in Oakland, California. The Spicy Mac recipe is ridiculously good!

The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrne ~ Over 150 dessert recipes that begin with a mix. So many great recipes, but I've made the Peanut Butter Frosting to ice chocolate cake many times.

The White House Cook Book by Hugo Zieman (Steward of the White House) and Mrs. F. L. Gillette ~ Published in 1907, I may never make a single recipe from this book but for sheer entertainment value, it can't be beat. Gifted to me by my baby sister, my copy is full of handwritten notes from a previous owner on yellowed pages. This one may be hard to find, but would be well worth the search.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sewing Geisha Girl Potholders

Having a lovely domestic kind of day ... reading cookbooks, making pesto butter to melt over barbecued steaks tonight, enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches with the granddaughter for lunch along with the latest episode of Master Chef, and finishing up the binding on a couple of cute potholders for a friend at work.

A few years ago, I picked up the Summer 2012 issue of Quilts and More magazine and just had to make the Classic Carryall Tote Bag featured on the cover. This bag provided a lot of firsts for me including half square triangles, chain stitching, using cotton webbing in handles, and grommets. Boy, did grommets scare the daylights out of me. Cut a hole -- even worse, 4 holes -- in this beautiful bag I just painstakingly stitched together? But they work and they're amazing.

I had picked up a small fat quarter bundle of Asian inspired fabrics at Joann's and used them for this bag, adding a few additional fat quarters and some gorgeous blue batik for the lining. Here's the bag 

So I've been carrying this tote to work -- loaded with my lunch, water bottles (love the big pockets inside), the occasional real paper book -- and one of my sweet co-workers raved about how cute it is and how much she loved the fabrics. I told her if I had any left, I'd make her a potholder. I was happy to find that I had enough to make two.

I started by fussy-cutting two of the remaining Geisha Girls out of my tiny piece of leftover fabric to use as the center. I went with a 3" square and laid out the other fabrics to see what looked good.

I cut strips 1-1/2" wide and started building out from the center square.

Once they were pieced, I ironed lightweight fusible interfacing to the backs of each. Then made a quilt sandwich with 3 layers of flannel inside and quilted around the edge of each square. I'm sure glad I was able to buy a walking foot for my wonderful old 1969 Bernina. She's a workhorse and I love her!

Trimmed the potholders to a nice even square …

Decided to make a hang tab with a small strip of fabric. Stitched them on the top corner and snipped off the extra fabric …

Since I had yardage of the batik fabric, I used it for the back and the binding, cutting the binding strips 2-1/4" wide.

Hand-stitched the binding on the backs of each one …

Ready. To. Use.  Thick, sturdy and completely cute, the finished size is 10-1/2" square. Love 'em!

Wrapped in my favorite tulle ribbon for giving with a sweet little layered tag …

So many projects, never enough time ...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pincushions as Wall Art

Does anyone out there enjoy ironing? Seriously, if ironing is your happy place, I'm a little concerned. I have to admit that ironing is one of those chores that I put off for as long as possible, then once I've been steaming and pressing away for about 20 minutes, all of a sudden I'm in the zone. I listen to the TV -- Rizzoli & Isles, Law and Order SVU, Grey's Anatomy -- and breathe in the steam and lovely fragrance of spray starch. First you couldn't pay me to iron ... next thing you know, I'm ironing everything in the house.

This go round, I started with table runners, a couple of blouses, fabric squares to embroider on and aprons that I wear at work. I do love my Black & Decker iron!

I was able to give my daughter her happy little house pincushion over the weekend. She said she'd like to hang it in her workspace so I stitched a loop of ribbon onto the back. Then I decided I wanted to be able to hang mine as well. I like that I can enjoy it as artwork on the wall but take it down and use it as a pincushion if I need it. She sent me a photo of her pincushion hanging at work. And here's a picture of mine hanging in my craft studio over the thread rack.

Once I had some little fabric squares ironed, I was ready to trace the design for the Garden Delight Needle Book from Patchwork Loves Embroidery. I used painter's tape to hang the printout on the back door glass, taped the fabric square to that, then traced away with a water soluble pen.

I'm a big fan of jewel tones and rich colors and this little piece of fabric in my stash is just begging to be made into a snazzy little needle book. The print has a black background featuring flowers, vines and leaves in burgundy, pink, green and metallic gold. Matched some embroidery floss to it for the design.

I really enjoy hand-embroidering in the evenings while watching TV with hubby. Peaceful!

So many projects, never enough time ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Zucchini Muffins

I've always been a fan of zucchini bread, but sometimes muffins are just easier -- to share with co-workers, to eat on the go, even to freeze for another day. This is my favorite, easy, healthier recipe (using applesauce rather than oil) ...

Zucchini Muffins

(Makes 24)

3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 cups raw grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients in order as listed. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Grease and flour muffin pans or use cupcake papers. Fill about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes.

Happy baking!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th

I didn't have a relevant title for this post so went with today's date ... good thing I'm not superstitious! Spending some time in my craft room this morning, organizing and thinking about what I want to get done next week. My steadfast companions ~ Miles and Louie ~ are hanging out with me, snuggled together on their pillow under a table …

I finished two pincushions from Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan this week. I was recently the extremely happy and wildly lucky winner of this book, along with fabric and thread from Martingale. Here's the post, if you missed it. The bluebird pincushion is mine and the colorful, happy little house is for my newlywed daughter …

These are the sweetest hand-embroidery projects. Many of them are small, easy and quick to finish. If you want to try embroidery, Patchwork Loves Embroidery is a great place to start. My next project from the book will be the Garden Delight Needle Book …

Photo from Patchwork Loves Embroidery Book

A new great-niece is due in August and I purchased a charm pack of Bartholo-meow's Reef by Tim and Beck for Moda that I'm going to make her quilt with.

Such cute prints -- anchors and waves and fish and stars …

I've already designed the quilt for this new little love joining the family -- there will be embroidery. 

So many projects, never enough time ...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Handmade Wedding :: Pinwheel Place Cards

Our youngest daughter and her sweetie pie were married in our back yard in March. We were lucky to have two amazing photographer/family members attend who captured everything beautifully. It was a perfect day as seen in this stunning photo taken by the groom's father, Roy …

Another favorite, taken by my middle sister, Kelli, aunt of the bride, shows our daughter sipping her pre-wedding morning coffee in the yard where the ceremony took place, prior to the guests' chairs being set up.

We were fortunate to have some truly special touches provided by other family members that made the day even more wonderful. My youngest sister, Sara, aunt of the bride, is a card-making, origami-folding, scrapbooking pro who spent many hours hand making amazing pinwheel place cards for each guest.

The reception was held on our sport court …

Tucked into each napkin, the pinwheel place cards were the ideal way to celebrate an outdoor event and were enjoyed by everyone. They also made a fun takeaway.

Sara found the instructions for the pinwheels through Pinterest at, but made a few modifications. Here are the supplies she used:

Her modifications are shown in italics:

Supplies for Pinwheels:
1. Floral Origami Paper. $5
I used 6" square double-sided scrapbook paper found at Michael's Crafts, Paper Pad by American Crafts, $5.99.
2. Dowels or Pencils (the pencils work well because you can use the eraser for the pin). $4
I used paper drinking straws found at Craft Warehouse, Stylish Stix by Queen & Co., package of 25 for $4.99.
3. Map Pins. $4
I used size 17 ball point sewing pins and paid $2.70 for 90 at K-Mart.
4. Scissors.
5. Strips of cardstock for names. I used regular 20-lb printer paper but wished I'd used the stiffer cardstock.
6. Super glue. I used Insta-Cure super-thin cyanoacrylate.
7. Seed beads.  Honestly, had some from a broken bracelet but are widely available.
8. Wire cutters.
Step One: Cut the origami paper in fourths. Hint: Measure paper beforehand to ensure it's perfectly square. I had to do some trimming. I cut 4" squares for the bride and groom.
Step Two: Fold the small square corner to corner in both directions.
Step Three: Cut along the folded line 2/3 of the way toward the center on all four corners.
Step Four: Now you are ready to pin. Take one corner of each cut section and pin them all in the middle of the square then add the strip of paper before pinning it all to a dowel or pencil or paper straw.
Step Five: Adjust insertion of pin so that pinwheel spins easily when blown upon and use wire cutters to snip off end of pin. Hint: Hold over a magnet when snipping and you won't have little sharp pin points all over.
Step Six: Over remainder of pin, apply dot of glue and place seed bead. Hint: Using pliers to pick up and place the tiny beads is helpful.

Sisters are the best!

I want to show you the gorgeous wreaths we made for our double front doors and garage but I'll save that for another post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Patchwork Loves Embroidery and I Love Martingale

I am so beside myself with joy that both of us are ecstatic! A wonderful package recently arrived in my mailbox ...

A few weeks ago I left a comment on the Martingale blog about hand embroidery. Here's the link ...

Which won me some amazing prizes -- this wonderful book, "Patchwork Loves Embroidery," by Gail Pan ...

Sharon Pederson's rich Sashiko Collection of Aurifil Threads ...

And 19, count 'em, 19 beeyooteeful fat quarters of Red Rooster Fabrics, Baskets in Bloom ...

Heaven in a box. Thank you, Martingale. ❤️❤️❤️

I can't wait to get started on the adorable projects in the book!

So many projects, never enough time ...