Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter: Food, Family & Fun

Good evening, everyone -

Hope your day was lovely, however you spent it. I was very fortunate to spend yesterday outside at UMASS Lowell coaching field hockey and seeing friends there.  It was the first day most of us had spent any time outside - it's been a rough spring here.  We still have plenty of snow at home, but traveling a wee bit south was all it took.  Hubby and DD headed to CT with the high school softball team and they had a great time outside there as well.  A wonderful coaching weekend was had by all.

Now, about the Easter ideas I shared back on Monday morning... I had the chance to put some into action today.  Thrilled with all the results!

For starters, I made loaded baked potatoes - the idea came from Key Ingredients.  I made mine a bit different - due to what I had available in the frig:

  • potatoes
  • bacon
  • cheese
In addition, they used garlic and sour cream - neither of which I had on hand.  So.... cooked the potatoes, mashed them with a bit of milk and butter then added the bacon and cheese ... omg...sooooo good!

I found a GREAT package of bacon at Trader Joe's yesterday (amongst quite a few other other items... you'll be reading about them in the future)  It was called "Bacon Ends & Pieces" - makes me think of the ends you can get at the deli?  It was $1.79 for this 1 pound package.  There were large slices, tiny bits, all sorts of pieces.  Oh, did I mention they are applewood smoked?  No...well, YUMMY!

Here is about 1/3 of the package, cooked up:

I cut this up and made lots of little chunks to add to the potatoes, along with about 1 cup of shredded cheese - oh was incredible!

This next bit of sweet deliciousness didn't photograph well, BUT let me just say YOU. MUST. MAKE. THIS.  I thought it sounded good - I was beyond right.  It was AMAZING!!  A huge hit with the family, which I thought it would be.  These peanut butter cheesecake cookie bars were, well, like I said, AMAZING!  They tasted like peanut butter fudge - melted in your mouth.  I didn't put the chocolate/peanut butter on top and they still were great.

I didn't end up doing the rolls - when I got to Trader Joe's they had a display of these pretty darn good looking ones right as you walked in.  For $1.99, I said, "Hmm... okay...let's do it!"  I succumbed, sorry.  We'll save the Texas Roadhouse rolls for another day.

I cooked the ham in the oven, rather than the crockpot.  If one is going to USE the crockpot, one needs to give one's self more than 3 hours to cook said ham.  I know it works - did it before - just not this Sunday.

Rather than fruit pizza, I threaded fresh strawberries and pineapple on a skewer and put them out on the table with the cookie bars.  The fruit was a nice break from the sweet, peanutty goodness above.

You all saw the wreath the other day.  That came out nice - lots of comments from folks that saw it up close and personal.

The last thing from that post I got to do for today was the cookie kits for the boys.  We had hidden eggs...twice (the beauty of younger kids...) and then brought out the kits.  DD and I made sugar cookies on Friday and bagged them with several different sweet decorating treats and a container of frosting each.  

They were a HUGE hit...might have been the gummy worms DD picked up this morning...maybe the jelly beans?  Anyway, they loved making them.  Way to go, Memere!

How was your holiday?  Hope you were able to enjoy the day and the whole weekend.  :o)

Stop by tomorrow and BE SURE to enter the drawing for fabric - it ends tomorrow (April 1) at noon!
Chat soon,

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Freezer Meals: Bacon, Egg & Cheese English Muffin - 1 Star

Good morning, friends -

As some of you know, I've been on this cooking binge.  I'm trying all sorts of new things and seeing how many, if any, are good to freeze.  I'm going to have to say that this one, freezing bacon, egg &  cheese on an English muffin is a bust.  It's edible, but not yummy.  So a single star.

But let's back up because the day I made them, they were GREAT!  These are a 5 star in my family's book! Here's the recipe and the results:

English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

For each sandwich you need:
1 slice of bacon
1 egg
1 English muffin
olive oil
salt, pepper & chili powder (scant amount of each)

Cook your bacon and set aside.

Scramble and cook your egg.  I like to cook mine in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and chili powder.  Once the first side is cooked, flip and add the cheese, like one would an omlet.  Then, fold over in half and again in a quarter for an egg that fits a muffin nicely.

Toast the muffin (I try to time it so the muffin pops when the egg is done - a bit of a timing act...) and then put the bacon and egg/cheese between the muffin.  You can butter the muffin first, but I find it doesn't need it.

Eat. Yum. Love bacon.

Now... these were amazing when we ate them at that point.  I froze a half dozen to see how they came out.  After they cooled, I wrapped each one in plastic and then bagged to keep from any freezer burn and make them easy to take to work.  My thought process was good.  The result?  Not so - but perhaps because we are pretty picky?

I took one out this morning to try.  Unwrapped it, wrapped in a napkin and microwaved it for 1 1/2 minutes.  It looked GREAT!  But....was chewy and just kind of blechy in comparison to the original.

I am thinking several thoughts:
  1. Maybe bacon IS really better fresh and crispy?  Would a piece of sausage be better?  Your thoughts?
  2. Perhaps cooking the egg differently would work?  I saw some on Pinterest that cooked the eggs in the oven in muffin tins.  Would that improve the egg?  Make it not so chewy?
  3. Am glad I didn't make more than a half dozen.
  4. Will TOTALLY make again fresh...for now?  Not to freeze!
Have you tried this idea?  How did it work for you?  Thoughts for me on how to?  I'd love to hear from you.

Have a creative day,

Reminder: Love fabric?  Want to play?  Just a few days left till the drawing for 38 pieces of header fabrics (fills a flat rate) and a quilt pattern.  Come on over and check it out here! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Find it for Free on Friday: Apron Patterns

Happy Friday, Everyone!

That means it's time to head out and see what sort of free patterns I can find to share with you.  Yippee!  I decided to focus on aprons this week - it's back to the super cooking fun I'm having and getting tired of my same-old-same-o apron.  Variety = spice of life and all that.

So, here's what I found this week for you and I to contemplate and try.

First off, this one from A Girl & A Glue Gun is perfect for many reasons - I love the fact she shows you how to make with an old pair of jeans!  Head over and see how she did it.

Here's an adorable one for the little chef in your world from Living with Punks. The pattern includes an apron and mitts!  I LOVE the fabric she found. Zip over to her site and learn more.

This pattern comes from The Quilter in the Gap and uses a charm pack to create it.  She has fantastic directions - very clear as in how to do it.  This would be a fun one to try.

How about a reversible one?  Messy on one side...just flip!  My kind of apron!  I love the fabric Lori at Vintage Apron Patterns found to make this one.  She has oodles of other patterns - some free for the taking, others for purchase.  It's perfect!

While I was peaking around there I also found this "disposable" apron pattern she had using a table cloth.  What a GREAT idea!

This next one comes from Creations from My Heart and is a link to a wonderful pattern from JoAnn's Fabrics.  I love the fabric choices.

Looking for an apron to cover MORE of you?  I tend to make a pretty big mess, so I might need to go with something more like this one from Amy Hearts it. Her fabric choice is stunning.

Here is another full size apron. The pattern for this comes from Ink & Spindle.  The posting I found it at is here on Martha Stewarts Craft Depot.  You print the pattern from a link on the post.

How about one you make with fat quarters?  I LOVE the fabric choice here - so bright and cheerful!
Pop over to Art Gallery Fabrics for this pattern.

This next one is a full size apron, as well and as previously mentioned, a good idea in my book.  I found this over at Skip to My Lou.  It's made with a tea towel.  Her directions make it look SUPER simple!  You should skip on over and check it out!

The last one for today comes from Make it Do.  Calli created a wonderful post about a gardening apron.  I am going to NEED one of these, right?  If those seeds all come up?  I think it would be good for a vendor apron at craft fairs and such, too. What do you think?

There's plenty to play around with in today's post.  Have fun and let me know what you try!
Quilty hugs,

PS.  Don't forget to enter the drawing for a set of fabric headers (35+ pieces of fabric) and a quilt pattern over at THIS POST!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DIY Powdered Laundry Soap - 4 1/2 Stars

Good morning, everyone!

I had come to the end of my container of store-bought laundry soap and saw I was staring down the the opportunity to give making my own a try or walking away and heading to the store to buy more.

Once again, here are my reasons:
  1. It seems pretty easy (well, except for the shredding soap, but I digress).
  2. It saves a LOT of money!
  3. I know exactly what's in it.
  4. I want to know if it works.
My DDiL made some liquid laundry soap.  It seems to be working for her, but it was a bit more complicated than I wanted, so I went with a powdered formula.

There are quite a few out there, all somewhat similar.  I went with baking soda, washing soda, Borax and Fels Naptha soap.  I am going to pick up some Oxy-Clean the next time I'm out and about to add that as well.

Some of the "recipes" I found used a scent to make it smell a bit better.  I thought the Fels Naptha is a bit strong when you open the container, but the clothes smell fine, so I'm not going to add anything extra.

I also found that most of the "recipes" made a HUGE batch.  I wanted to see what I thought BEFORE I committed to making a year's worth.  If it didn't work, what on earth would I do with it?  I'm going to add a series of links you can take a peek at and see if you want to go with their quantities/ combinations.  There might be something you see there you like better or want to try.

BTW, you might have noticed I gave it 4 1/2 stars.  It washes very well, a 5 star-er, BUT I have to be honest that the smell in the container isn't my favorite, hence, 4 1/2 stars.  I'm picky, but overall I like it.

But for now, here's what I did.  As I mentioned, the formulas made HUGE batches as they used the full size boxes of each.  I cut the batches down to a manageable amount for a first try.  I used the small, 1 pound baking soda box as my measure (not the giant one in the picture).

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 lb baking soda
1 lb washing soda
1 lb Borax
1/2 bar Fels-Naptha

As mentioned above, I took the small, 1 pound baking soda box and used that to measure my quantities.  It might not be exactly 1 pound of each, more so 1 container.

Pour Borax, washing soda and baking soda in a bowl.  Add Oxy-Clean, if you have it.  I stirred this with a wisk - a bit like flour, sugar and baking powder!

Here's the one part EVERYONE complains about - shredding the soap bar.  I used the grater "blade" on my mandolin and went at it.  I considered it exercise for the morning.  I found other ideas from people out on the Internet, but I wasn't interested in tucking it in the microwave and seeing what happened....just sayin'.  I told myself to get over it and and grind.  I did.  I survived.  It's fine.

Add this to the bowl and mix.

Pour the mixture into a container.  I think that down the road, I will make up something lovely to hold it, but for now I will use a mason jar.  Actually, 2 mason jars.

Here's where the money saving part comes in.  You only need 1-2 tablespoons in a load to wash your clothes.  Seriously!  I've done about 4 loads so far and that's all I've used in each.  I sprinkle the mixture in the empty washer, add the clothes and turn things on.  The clothes are coming clean and they smell just fine when the are done drying.

Crazy, huh? 

Here are some links to other bloggers who are making their own, as well.  Take a look and create your own!  It's worth it.  :o)

Between mine and the links above, there's plenty for you to consider if you are thinking about making your own.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes  for you.

On a side note: My DD came home from college for Easter break last night.  She brought home her laundry (BIG surprise, eh?) and as a field hockey goalie had some kind of smelly duds. She LIKED the smell of the laundry soap (my 4 1/2 stars...) and we found that this mixture totally cleaned her practice clothes!  YAY!!!

Be creative today,

PS. Don't forget to enter the drawing for fabric headers and a quilt pattern!  Do  as many or few entries as you want on THIS POST - Rafflecopter will select a winner on Monday night - it could be you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Seedling Update

Good morning, everyone!

It's Wordless Wednesday, a chance to share an image or two from my world with little to no explanation - just the image.  Time to sit back, relax and look at all we have.

Feel free to link to this posting with your own images - we'd love to see.

Today is a glimpse at the progress my seedlings are making.  Looking good so far!

Oh... and a shot of a icy, cold leg once about 1/2 gallon of sap hit it.  Lesson: take your time when lifting a 5 gallon bucket up off the ground to carry it...and it's full... just sayin'...

Keep up the good work, guys ... warmer weather WILL come!

Quilty hugs,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BlogLovin - new reader for me, how about you?

Good evening, friends -
Just a quick note to put out there the info many of you have probably heard about - that Google Reader is not going to be available and for those of us who use it to keep up with blogs, well, we have to find something else!

One option is Bloglovin - I've been using it for about a week and I like it.  It's clean, clear and easy to read. There are others out there - but this is my choice for now.  If you are a Google Connect friend, this is one option for you to follow this blog - here's a link:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Be on the lookout for more frolicking in a crafty world this week - chat soon!

Quilty hugs,

Scrappy Quilt Pattern & 38 pc Header Set GIVEAWAY!!

Good morning, friends!

Okay... I have WAY too much fabric and NEED to start getting it into good homes!  Yup.... that might just be YOU!

Here's what up for grabs this week:

The pattern is Scrappy Squares from Pacific Patchwork.  You can create either the Scrappy Square pattern (the one with blacks in the background) or Not-So-Scrappy Squares (in the lower left-hand corner of pattern).  Both produce a 58" x 73" quilt.

Either way, this packet of fabrics will give you a GREAT start!!  There are 38 pieces of fabric from a variety of lines, meaning each header coordinates with the others in the header.

What is a "header" you ask?  Good question!  A header is a selection of coordinating fabrics in a line from the manufacturer for the shop owners to see and decide if they'd like to carry it.  I have LOTS more of these....sooooo.....:o)

These fabrics and pattern fill a flat rate envelop...nice and full!

To enter, jump down to the Rafflecopter widget below and enter.  Choose and few or as many options as you'd like.  Rafflecopter will select a winner a week from tonight - it might be you!!

Good luck and happy crafting,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spring Fabric "Scrunchie" Wreath

Good morning, friends -

I went right to work with the wreath idea I found at My Creative Way yesterday.  I tweaked the concept due to materials and what I wanted to achieve and I am pretty pleased with the results.

Here's the finished wreath, hanging on my front door:
My only concern is whether or not the washi tape will hold with the heat generated between the doors when the sun is out.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Here's how I did it:

I had a 21" x 44" piece of fabric, so I cut it in thirds and then sewed them into one long piece.

Rachel (at My Creative Way) using pinking shears to edge her wreath.  I don't have a pair (we'll have to remedy that one...) so I did a quick little hem so it wouldn't unravel

Next, I turned the other side under about 1 inch or so and sewed that to make the pocket you need to feed around the wreath wire.

Then, it's time to feed it through and bend the wire to close it off.  I used a hanger which worked well.

At this point I realized I had the two ends to join together.  I snipped in about 1/2" on both sides and then folded one over and began sewing them.

Since the hanger would look a bit icky, I covered it with a scrap of purple I had on hand.  I have a lot of scraps of purple on hand... I wrapped it around the wires and then stitched it on.

Time for the eggs!  Fortunately, the ones I had have little holes in the ends!  I ran a thread through them, taped them shut with washi tape and sewed them on to the wreath.  It was a bit of trial and error.

I had a piece of glittery purple ribbon (again, more purple) so I tied that in a bow and attached that to the top of the wreath as well.  Viola!  A gorgeous spring wreath on our front door!

Thanks goes out to Rachel at My Creative Way for putting me on to this idea!  Head over and check her page out.  
Quilty hugs,