Friday, January 27, 2012


Just a mention that I joined the Swoon-A-Long hosted by Katy at Monkey Do.  I suppose now that I have purchased my background fabric, I should start on a few blocks, eh??

Cooky #3 - Brown Sugar Coconut Drops

This morning was spent making Valentines, and these cookies (page 8) with my twins.  We live literally across the country from my parents, and don't see them often enough, so we make Valentines to send them every year.  January always seems way too early to start Valentine activities to me, but I seem to forget every year that Valentines Day sneaks up on us a mere 14 days into February, and if I don't plan a little early for it, we miss it almost entirely!  So this morning seems a good day to pull out all the pink and purple crayons and glitter glue and get to work.  They created masterpieces, if I do say so myself!

And now, the cookies.  I have been wanting to make this recipe since the beginning, simply because it calls for buttermilk, and I have some buttermilk that needs using.  Now I am glad I made them, because I don't have to worry about making them again.  These were way too boring for me.  Even with the addition of coconut.  I kindof knew they would be from reading the recipe, but you know, the buttermilk.  Anyway... 

They are very soft, almost cakey cookies.  They are simply flavored, pretty much a chocolate chip cookie dough flavor without the chocolate chips.  I'm not really a cakey cookie kind of girl.  I feel like any cakey cookie needs frosting on it to make it worth it.  And you could put a frosting on this very easily.  But I was A) lazy today, and B) wanted to stick as close to the recipe as possible and it didn't mention frosting in any of its variations. 

So needless to say, I won;t be making these again.  But, were they a total bust?  NEVER! (As my three-year-old would say.)  He went back quiet a few times, risking his sweet, tiny arm each time by reaching up onto a still-warm pan to grab another one.  I guess at 3 years old, a cookie is a cookie is a cooky...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cooky #2 - Butterscotch Brownies

Cookie # 2 - The Butterscotch Brownie (pg.11).  Simple and yummy.  If you like the flavor of caramel-y sugar, this might be the recipe for you. The point of these, I'm guessing, is to have the dense, chewy texture of a brownie, without the chocolate.  They were definitely chewy.  It is a simple recipe, whipped up in about 10 minutes total.  Butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, walnuts, salt, baking powder and flour.  They had a few variations.  Coconut would have been good, and I debated it, but in the end, I stuck with the basic recipe.

I think I was a little hasty in cutting them.   They were still warm, so they cut a little sloppily, but they still tasted good!  The bars in the center were a little thin, so they didn't come out of the pan in one piece until they were completely cool.  It is definitely best to wait to dig in until they are cool.

The one thing I will do next time (and from now on with the recipes in this book, I think) is use unsalted butter.  I had the same problem as I did with the chocolate chip cookies with the salted butter and the salt from the recipe being just slightly too much. 

So what is the final verdict?   They were definitely good. Chewy and rich.  Will I make them again?  It's hard to say, only because I have another brown sugar square recipe that I think I like a little bit more.  But let's just say that if someone asked me to make these, they wouldn't have to twist my arm!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fabric Love and Other Things

I got my fabric in the mail on Saturday. It was a fat quarter bundle of the entire line of Love by Amy Butler.

First thing I did was separate it out into my initial, gut-reaction yes/no fabric piles.

Obviously, in getting the whole line of fabric, there are going to be some pieces that I don't like as well, or that I just feel won't go with the idea that is my head right now.  (Those are the ones in the pile near the top of the picture, if you can find them among all the clutter on my table right now!)

Then I grouped them into sets of two (because I need 2 co-ordinating or contrasting fabrics per block), and will let them sit together for awhile until I decide if they are playing well together as friends. 

I still need to go get my background material before I can start piecing the blocks together.  AND....I have a feeling I will be ordering a few more bits of fabric before I get everything sorted how I want it.  But that will happen a little later on, after I have started the blocks and see how my fabric combos are coming along.

In other news, I have another, more pressing project that needs to be finished within the month.  My twins go to a co-op preschool.  And because we do not get state funding, we have fundraisers throughout the year to raise the needed money for the school.  Each parent must participate in 2 fundraiser a year to fulfill their obligation, and keep tuition costs down. 

For the current fundraiser that I am participating in, a Spaghetti Dinner, we decided that each parent on the committee would donate a gift basket that could be bid on throughout the evening, with the proceeds going to the school.  So, of course, I donated a quilt.  It will be a small quilt, probably the same pattern as Clover's Patchwork quilt that I did last year, so it shouldn't take much time.  I have to go get the fabric for that, which I plan to get all on sale or with coupons at Jo-ann or Hancock.  Doing that will minimize the cost out-of-pocket, and hopefully maximize the end profit for the school.

So...while still no actual work done yet on TBQ, I am warming to my fabrics and am itching to get to the fabric store!  Unfortunately, getting there is not as easy as it should be, but more on that dilemma later.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cooky #1 - Chocolate Chip

So for my first (OK, technically second) "cooky" (as it is spelled, singularly, in the book), I decided to go with something simple.  The plain, old Chocolate Chip Cookie (page 144).  Partly because I wanted to start with a classic, and mainly because it is what I had all the ingredients for!

My review?  Really good.  In fact, possibly better than my current "go to" Chocolate Chip recipe.  I compared the two, and while they consist of exactly the same ingredients, the amounts of each are different in the two recipes.  The Betty Crocker cookie has more butter/shortening, more sugar and more vanilla.  Honestly, I think it made a difference.  The flavor seemed enhanced in the Betty Crocker version. 

Some small changes I made:  the recipe calls for all shortening, or part butter or margarine.  I was out of shortening and used all salted butter.  I think next time I will try it with half shortening as written, or unsalted butter instead.  I think the salted butter along with the additional 1/2 t. salt called for in the recipe made the salt flavor a little more noticeable than it probably would have been with the shortening.  I also used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet.

I will be making these again.  And probably again and again. 

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book Challenge

So when I first got married over seven years ago, my mother-in-law gave me the reprint of the original Betty Crocker's Cooky Book for Christmas, because it had in it the Chocolate Crinkle cookie recipe that was a holiday tradition in their family.

As of right now, it is still the only recipe out of the whole entire book that I have made. So I decided, just for fun, to change that. I am going to bake my way through the book.  I'm sure I am not the first person to think of this, nor the last.  But I think it will be a fun little challenge for myself that I am sure my husband and boys will not object to!

Here are my ground rules (subject to change as I go along):

1- I will make a recipe at least once every other week, but no more than once a week. Or in other words, 2 times a month minimum, but no more than 4-5 times per month. Why? Well, mainly because I have 3 little boys that don't need to be eating a gajillion cookies, and let's be honest, I don't need to be eating a gajillion cookies, either. So that is why no more than once a week. The "at least every other week," is to give me some wiggle room for those weeks when things are busy and I just don't have time or energy (or desire) to make cookies.

2- For the cookie recipes that list different variations of the same recipe, I will only "have" to make one version to fulfill my requirement of making "every recipe" in the book. However, if I feel like making more than one variation, I reserve the right to do so :)

3 - I am not requiring myself to make the cookies in any sort of order. I will just make whatever sounds good at the time.

4- Not technically a "rule", but more of a "heads up."  I will not be posting the actual recipes.  I feel like that is probably a copyright violation, since I will be following the recipes as closely as I can to how they are written, so they are not really mine to share.  However, I will give my opinion of each recipe, the page number, and I will post a picture of each recipe made.  If you are really interested in making all these cookies with me, you can purchase the book here! (Or, call me and I will give you the recipe.)

Ok. I'm off to bake!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


So I have a pattern.  Now, to decide what to make it out of!  Hmmmm.....Well, let's talk about the process of picking fabric.  I know there are probably plenty of quilters out there who grab a stack of fabric, pick a pattern in 5.2 seconds and go at it.  I am (usually) not that way.

Last year about this time, I made a baby quilt for one of my BFF's new baby girl.  I literally bought fabric three times to get it how I wanted it. 

Yet, on the other hand, I decided last minute to make a quilt for another friend's baby girl.  Because the pattern I chose was fairly simple, I was able to pick the fabric in one trip to the fabric store.

So, I suppose, really, the ease of choosing fabric for a project, for me, depends on the project. 

TBQ was not so easy.  When I initially decided to make a quilt for my bed, I decided on fabric first.  I was going to use Buttercup by Fig Tree Quilts, regardless of the pattern! I loved the line, but I did have some reservations.  First of all it was pretty traditional, which in general, I would say is totally my style.  But for some reason, I felt I wanted something more vivid in this quilt.  I was envisioning something more deep reds and dark blues.  Also, I figured my husband would probably appreciate something a little less "girly."  So I set the idea of "Buttercup" aside and kept looking. 

Once I actually bought the pattern and had to decide on fabric for reals, I thought a bit about Fig Tree's newer line, Butterscotch & Roses.  It had the red in it, but as much as I usually love brown, it had a lot of it, and again, I had VIVID in my mind.  So, I scratched the idea of Butterscotch & Roses, and figured I would just have to wait until some new fabrics came out that grabbed me.  Darn it.

Then, before totally giving up, I decided to do a random search for fat quarter bundles on Etsy, just to see what was out there.  And then I saw a bundle of Amy Butler's LOVE line.  And I was, well, in love.  A little more modern, and a totally different color palate than I originally pictured, but I knew as soon as I saw it, that I wanted it in TBQ.  Again, that gut reaction, along with my previous musings, and I had picked my fabric.

And now I wait impatiently for the mail every day until it arrives!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Picking the Pattern

So the pattern I chose to make for "The Bed Quilt" (TBQ) is Swoon by Camille Roskelley.  I knew the minute I saw it that I had to have it on my bed.  But since I am writing about the process of choosing the pattern, I suppose I can't just leave it at that.

I suppose, if I am going to tell the story, I should start at the beginning.  And the beginning, as far as my master bedroom goes, starts at our wedding. 

We got a bedding set when we got married.  And I HATE our bedding.  Hate.  Ugh.  Can't stand it.  And I think because I hate it, I have never bothered trying to decorate our bedroom in the whole seven years The Hubs and I have now been married.  Because, not only does the bedding, (which, let's be honest, is the focal point of the room) not inspire me, I think it actually drains the creativity out of me just looking at it.  I don't even want to try to "work with it," so I've just let it be. 

So, last year when I really started quilting, I decided one of the first things I wanted to do was find a great pattern and finally make myself some bedding that I LOVE.  Yes, you read that right, last year.  I looked and looked, but nothing really grabbed me. 

Now, in discussing that process of choosing a quilt to make, I think it is important to know what you like, or, if you see something that is different than what you usually like, to be able to identify what it is that you really do like about it.  I didn't have anything specific in mind when I started looking for a pattern.  But there are things that I am more drawn to.  I know I love Stars.  And Dresdens.  And Hexies, and Cathedral Windows, and...etc.  I know I like a mix between modern and traditional.  I know I like a bit of shabby and/or vintage.  In other words, there are things I knew I liked, but I was also willing to be open to something that caught my eye.

I finally saw something I liked...this picture of a charm square quilt over at Crazy Mom Quilts.  I loved the colors, and I loved that it was fairly simple.  But I wasn't sold.  For some reason, even though I really liked it, I couldn't commit to it.  So, the idea of making TBQ was put on the back burner while I focused on some other projects.  I kept my eyes open, but wasn't actively looking.  Finally, some months later, I saw the Swoon pattern, probably on Pinterest, and loved it immediately.  It had a lot of the qualities that I generally like about quilts. I pretty much decided then and there that I had found TBQ pattern! 

So there it is.  The first step in my quilt making process...deciding on a pattern.  Just like a lot of other decisions, I think it just comes down to a little bit of knowing your personal aesthetic, and a little bit of going with your gut about what you love. 

Now to choose the fabrics!

The Process

I have had people ask me, when I make a quilt, how I decide on the pattern, fabric, etc.  So, since I am just starting the process of making a quilt and pillows for my own bed, I thought I would document the entire journey here.  Even if nobody really cares enough to read, it will still be a fun thing for me to do and keep for myself as a record. 

Now, a few things I should point out. 

First, I have three very young boys.  Twin three-year-old's and a one-year-old.  They keep me either a) too busy to do much sewing during the day, or b) are too mischievous for me to be able to leave any large part of the process out and about to work on as I please throughout the day without risking certain destruction.  Therefore, I mainly do my sewing at night after The Hooligans, as they are lovingly called in our house, are in bed. 

This is important for two reasons:

1- This quilt may take me a longer time to finish than it should.

2- Any pictures I take of the process are bound to be taken at night under terrible lighting and with a flash.  Besides the fact that I am by no means a professional photographer, nor do I pretend to be.

The second thing I should mention is that I may start another (or two or three) project during the time I am making my bed quilt.  Fortunately, I rarely leave projects unfinished.  I may put them on hold for a bit, but I always come back to them within a reasonable amount of time.  I just hate leaving things unfinished.  Why do I mention this?  Because, I plan on blogging about all my projects here so my posts may not be consistently about my MAIN project (which, while I may come up with a catchy title for it at some point, as for now will be known (boringly) as "The Bed Quilt.")

So there you have it.  I do have a goal to have this project done and on my bed by the end of the year.  That is being very generous, but I have quite a few other projects in the wings, and like I said, I may start a few of those in between the start and finish of The Bed Quilt.  Also, when I say "finished," I mean, quilt and any and all bed pillows to go with it. 

On your mark, get set, SEW!