Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WiP Wednesday - More Finishes

I have been on a roll the past two weeks trying to finish up my WiPs.

I did have 2 finishes this week - my improv log cabin pillow top that I made a few weeks back, and some plain pillow covers I've been meaning (for a LONG time) to make to revamp my living room couch.

Wonky Log pillow cover wm

The blue and green paisley/floral pillow behind the improv block pillow is one of the other pillow covers I made. 

My other WiPs worked on this week are:

I got MOST of the binding on my nephews quilt.  But when I had it all sewn on and ready to join the ends, I decided I didn't like how the fabrics were joining on that side (it is a scrappy binding and there was too much orange on the side where the ends were joining), so I have been doing a little unpicking and cutting and adding until I have it fixed a bit.  I will have that done by tonight.

I am just about done with snipping the rag edges on my son's Toy Story rag quilt.  I think I have one row of blocks and the outer edge to do and then I will be done.  Because it is hard on my hands, I only clip a few rows each night, hence the reason it has taken its time being completely finished!

And I had mentioned last week that I found a decade-old, unfinished baby blanket in a box in the garage and decided to throw a binding on it and get it finished and usable   

So while I was at Walmart one day, I stopped in their fabric section (since I had no plans to drive out to any other fabric stores for awhile) and found this pink floral in a tone pretty darn close to the pink in the quilt. 

 This is one of those "Get-It-Done" projects for me, so I was not picky about finding the "perfect" fabric.  And I think it cost me all of $1.28!  Not bad for a free blanket that has been long neglected!  I am just going to machine bind it, so this shouldn't take me much time to finish off once I sit down to do it.

I also finished up another block for the Virtual Quilting Bee at Diary of a Quilter.  This one is called "Going Dutch".

Sampler - Block 4

WiP's - 

2 finishes - Improv pillow and 2 plain pillow covers

Worked on: 
*Toy Story Blanket - All sewn, just need to finish clipping the seams.
*Baby Boy quilt - binding MOSTLY applied
*Discovered old baby blanket - binding made

 Not worked on:
Upcycyled Tees - 1 of 3 sewn
Denim Rag Quilt - not worked on

New WiPs (or WiPs pulled off the back burner!) -
None this week

2013 BOM's & Bees -

*Sister's 10 BOM blocks - Caught up!!
Virtual Quilting Bee blocks - 1 finished, 2 behind
Applique Quilt -  March fused but not appliqued, April & May blocks not started

Linking up over @ Freshly Pieced

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kid-Friendly Food Monday: Sour Cream Banana Cake

We don't usually have leftover bananas at our house.  In fact, if I let him, one of my twins would eat 4 or 5 bananas in a day.

But on occasion, a banana or two slips by them and ends up too "dirty", as my boys say, to eat.  Usually I will make the standard banana bread, or banana muffins, but sometimes I am not in the mood for those.  That's when I make this sour cream banana cake.

I've used this recipe for years.  I found it in an old cookbook I bought at a thrift store before I was even married.  It is especially good if I only have one lone banana that needs to be used, because it is the perfect amount if I half the recipe. 

I frost this cake with a variety of frostings - usually an old-fashioned, cooked, flour-based frosting that I have seen a revival of on food blogs lately, sometimes chocolate, and sometimes cream cheese.  And sometimes I skip the frosting all together and serve it as a plain snack cake, or maybe dusted with powdered sugar.   

Today I topped it with a whipped cream cheese frosting recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Food Banana Cake

Sour Cream Banana Cake

1/4 c. butter or shortening                                  
1 1/3 c. sugar                                                      
2 eggs                                                                 
1 t. vanilla                                                           
2 c. flour                                                             
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mashed bananas
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)

350° Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl.  Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.  Blend in bananas and nuts.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 40-45 min. Allow to cool, then frost as desired, or dust with powdered sugar.

Note: I halve this recipe all the time and bake it in an 8x8 baking dish, checking for done-ness at 30 minutes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Teacher Gifts - 2013

(Click HERE to see last year's Teacher Appreciation gifts.)


Before I get into the details of these little totes, here is a little school-related story (Go ahead and skip ahead if you want to get straight to the totes!):

  This past school year was kindof drama for us.  I started the school year with a bad feeling in my gut about their school situation that just weighed on me and never left.  

Without going into boring detail about the reasons why, after the holidays I ended up pulling my twins out of that preschool and placing them in another one that is run by a wonderful lady from our church that I have known since I first moved here to Virginia.

Now, one of my twins has just caught on to everything so quickly and easily that he is pretty much reading and spelling at only 4 years old.  (I might be biased, but personally, I think he's pretty awesome.) 

My other twin (whom I also think is pretty awesome!) has been struggling.  Last year he had a superb teacher who kept him right up with the rest of the class.  That is maybe why I didn't notice him struggling until this past school year started.  He (and I) was getting pretty frustrated at his lack of progress, and I just felt he was being quickly left behind.  

The difference I have seen in him in the last three months since we made the switch has been amazing.  His writing and spelling have blossomed.  I know it is the difference between a teacher who truly loves him and cares, and one who may not have cared as much.  

I am SO happy I listened to that little voice in my head and heart that told me to move my boys.


So...even though I felt like these new teacher deserved something totally amazing for a teacher appreciation gift this year, time just wasn't on my side (their new school gets out almost a whole month before their old one did, so in my mind I thought I still had more time than I really did).  But these amazing ladies will be my twins teachers again next year for their last year of preschool, so I have a whole year to think of and make something amazing for them next year.

This year, these darling little mini totes (filled with chocolate!) will have to do :)

mini totes - teacher appreciation gift

I dug through my scraps and found these apple prints (Apple of my Eye by Riley Blake) which I thought perfectly appropriate, and followed this amazingly simple mini tote tutorial (by Monica Solorio-Snow) to make these adorable little treat bags for my twins teachers.

mini totes interior
interior view
They were so fast and easy, I can definitely see making a lot more of these in the future for all kinds of little gifts and favors.

mini totes size
This gives an idea of the size next to a quarter.  These came out to be about 4.5 x 4.5 inches.

Following the pattern, I would say these took about 15 - 20 minutes from start to finish.  You could, of course, take a little more time if you chose to quilt the bags, or add topstitching, or make fabric handles.

However, I really do think they are darling just the way they are.
 Linking up here:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WiP Wednesday

Even though there is no WiP Wednesday this week at Freshly Pieced, I still felt like doing a Work-In-Progress post, even if it is just for myself!

This past week I got a lot done.  First, I finished my Love Baby Quilt just in time to enter it into the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  (You can view that post HERE.)

Love front

Second, I finished sewing together my son's Toy Story Rag Quilt.  I just have to finish clipping the seams and it will be finished.  He already loves it and tries to steal it from me while I have it out to work on.

Thirdly, I sewed up some adorable tiny totes to fill with candy for my twins teacher appreciation gifts (which I will show in another post once I figure out how to iron them and have them filled and ready to go!)  These were so fast, so easy and so adorable, I can definitely see myself making a lot more of these as favors or gifts in the future.

Fourth, I have cut and pieced a couple of bindings - one for my nephews quilt, and one for a random, unfinished baby blanket from years ago that I found in a box last week.  Now that I have my Love quilt out of the way, I am going to focus on finishing my nephew's.  My sister will be here with him and my niece in about 2.5 weeks.

And Fifth, I finished the May Blocks for the Sister's Ten Modern BOM.  Now I just need to catch up on my Virtual Quilting Bee blocks (three behind).  And my Applique Blocks (also three behind).  Sigh.

Sisters Ten Modern BOM (May) - Aunt Eliza's Star

WiP's - 

1 finish - Love Baby Quilt!
(also started and finished Teacher mini Totes this week)

Worked on: 
*Toy Story Blanket - All sewn, just need to finish clipping the seams.
*Baby Boy quilt - binding cut and pieced

 Not worked on:
Improv Log Cabin Pillow - Not worked on
 Upcycyled Tees - 1 of 3 sewn
Denim Rag Quilt - not worked on

New Projects:
*Old Baby Blanket that needs binding - binding cut and pieced

2013 BOM's & Bees -

*Sister's 10 BOM blocks - Caught up!!
Virtual Quilting Bee blocks - 3 behind
Applique Quilt -  March fused but not appliqued, April & May blocks not started

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kid-Friendly Food Monday - Easy Spanish Rice

One of my sons just loves rice, so I am always on the lookout for easy, tasty, versatile rice recipes to fill him up.  

This one is a favorite because you can control the amount of spiciness your kids prefer simply by changing the heat intensity of the salsa used.  I use mild to medium salsa, depending on what I have on hand.  But my kids are ok with a little heat.  Feel free to use whichever heat your kids will eat.

I usually serve this with Tacos or Bean & Cheese Burritos, and a side of fruit.

Food Spanish rice

Easy Spanish Rice
2 T. oil
¼ c. chopped onion (can used 1 T. dehydrated)
1 ½ c. uncooked white rice
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. chunky salsa

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.  Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper as desired.  Serve.  6-8 servings.

Optional additional preparation:  Once it is prepared in the skillet, I often transfer it to a greased 2 qt. baking dish, top it with about 1/2 c. cheddar cheese and place it in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Love Baby Quilt

This quilt has taken me forever to finish, but I am glad I got it done in time for the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Love front

I call this quilt the Love Baby Quilt because, obviously, it is made from a handful of Amy Butler's "Love" fat quarters.  Creative, I know :)

I started this quilt back in October 2012, following Elizabeth Dackson's Sliced Coins Quilt-Along with the intention of gifting it to a new baby girl who was due that December.  The quilt top came together quickly and easily...everything from choosing the fabrics, the cutting and piecing...things were going along swimmingly!  Then I attempted to quilt it and that is where all the trouble began.

Love side

I fought my machine on this quilt for months.  For some reason, when I started the quilting on this quilt, my machine decided it was allergic to free-motion quilting.  So I gave up and shoved this quilt in my closet where it languished for a few months before I finally decided to pull it out again and give it a go.

But after crossing my fingers, and much unpicking and swearing, I finally conquered the Curse of the FMQ!  The sigh of relief I heaved when I stitched the last quilting stitch on this little baby was probably heard round the world...or at least heard throughout the Northern Virginia area :)

However, by the time I got the binding on, I found myself very attached to this little quilt, probably because of all the struggle I put into it.  So much so that I have considered keeping it for myself.  (Besides the fact that it seems almost embarrassing giving a baby gift now that the baby is almost six months old!)

So, we will see where this little quilt ends up.  But as for now, I just love looking at it.  I love the colors. I love the patterns.  I love that it is finally finished. To me, it is just a beautiful little thing.  

Love back

  • Quilt Measurements - 47x51
  • Quilted by…ME!
  • (Photos taken before washing.)

Also linking up here: Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WiP Wednesday - 2 Down and How Many to Go??

The only thing I have to show for this week are my two finished April blocks for the Sister's Ten Modern BOM.  

Sister's Ten Modern BOM (April) - Lady of the LakeSister's Ten Modern BOM (April ) - Lady of the Lake

Yes, the April blocks. Which means I still have my May blocks to complete.  And I am not caught up on my Virtual Bee blocks, being 2 behind. Or my applique quilt blocks, now being 3 behind on that one.

In terms of statistics, that means I have 2 down and 7 to go to be caught up with all my BOM's.

Anyway, I did two different versions of this block on purpose to see which one I liked better.  I made a monochrome version, and one with contrast.  Personally, I like the purple monochrome version the best.  My husband on the other hand, who rarely offers an opinion on my quilting, liked the aqua one the best.  Go figure.

Other than that, I have about half of my Love baby quilt basted.  In my defense, we decided to go to D.C. for Mother's Day weekend, so I lost all my prime sewing time to that much more exciting adventure :)

WiP's - no finishes (Again!)

Worked on: 
*Love baby quilt - Binding half sewn on the back
*Toy Story Blanket - All the squares sandwiched and x's sewn

 Not worked on:
Baby Boy quilt - just waiting to be bound!

Improv Log Cabin Pillow - Not worked on

 Upcycyled Tees - 1 of 3 sewn
Denim Rag Quilt - not worked on

2013 BOM's & Bees -
*Sister's 10 BOM blocks - April blocks finished, May not completed

Virtual Quilting Bee blocks - 2nd April block to complete, 1st May block to complete

Applique Quilt -  March fused but not appliqued, April block - picked up, but not worked on, May block not picked up

Linking up @ Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WiP Wednesday - SOOO Close, yet so far away

I did a lot this week.  A LOT.  At least it feels that way.  But yet, I still have nothing to show for it!  Bummer.
I finished the quilting on both my nephew's baby quilt, as well as my Love baby quilt. 
I am THRILLED about the Love baby quilt!  I started this back in October, but my sewing machine was giving me fits as I tried to quilt it.  (You can read more about my battle HERE.)  So I gave up and put it away until after the holidays.  I pulled it out again a few months ago and was able to quilt about half of it before my machine started protesting yet again.  I decided to give it another try over the weekend after finishing my nephew's quilt, and was finally able to finish the quilting!  HUGE sigh of relief.
Yesterday I made and applied the binding to the front.  So now, between both baby quilts, I see a good weeks worth of nights in front of me, hand binding while watching TV.  Hand binding is probably my favorite part of the whole quilting process, so I am actually pretty happy about it! 
I also worked a bit on my son's Toy Story blanket, sandwiching the squares and getting halfway through chain sewing the "X's" through them.

 I am SUPER behind on my BOM blocks, but hope to get back on those now that my two baby quilts are almost done. 
I did get in practicing some free motion quilting. First try with this design, so don't look too close!

WiP's - no finishes (Again!)

Worked on: 

*Baby Boy quilt - Quilting finished!  waiting to be bound.
*Love baby quilt - Quilting finished and binding sewn onto the front.
Toy Story Blanket - squares sandwiched and "X's" half sewn. 
Improv Log Cabin Pillow -  fabric purchased.

Not worked on:

 Upcycyled Tees - 1 of 3 sewn
Denim Rag Quilt - not worked on

2013 BOM's & Bees -

Sister's 10 BOM blocks - April & May blocks not completed

Virtual Quilting Bee blocks - 1 April blocks to complete, 1st May block to complete

Applique Quilt -  March fused but not appliqued, April block - picked up, but not worked on, May block not picked up

Linking up @