Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jack O Peppers

Tomorrow we will be celebrating Halloween. In our circle of friends, we focus more on the Reformation than on ghosts and goblins, but it's still fun to carve pumpkins and dress up in silly costumes. (This year I'm showing up as a mom who doesn't get enough sleep.)
Today my older daughter said she wants to prepare a Halloween-themed meal for dinner. She tossed out a few ideas (make spaghetti and pretend that the pasta is worms and the sauce is blood), but that REALLY didn't sound like something I'd want on my table. However we like stuffed peppers, so I suggested that perhaps we could carve faces in orange bell peppers, and so the idea of "Jack-O-Peppers" was born.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Free Pattern for Reusable Shopping Bags -- Easy Enough to Make for Yourself, Pretty Enough to Give as Gifts

Isn't this cute?

There is a growing trend in the United States to "go green," which means doing your part to conserve energy and resources. Environmental groups offer many suggestions for how to be green. Here are a few:

  • set your thermostat down a few degrees
  • take shorter showers
  • eat one meatless meal per week
  • don't buy bottled water
Sure, those are all things that we as individuals can do. They're easy, and don't cost anything.

But communities are also getting into the movement. Recycling of paper, plastics, and glass is becoming commonplace. And some towns, especially large municipalities, are placing a ban on plastic grocery bags. If you shop in Olympia, Washington (for example) you need to either bring your own reusable bag or pay 5 cents for a paper bag.

Unfortunately many reusable bags are made of plastic products, so although they do not go into the landfill, their manufacture uses petroleum products (so are they really green?) and they aren't washable. But I have designed a 100 percent cloth bag that is reusable, washable, sturdy...and it's gorgeous!

Materials and Equipment you will need
  • 1/2 yard canvas or duck in your choice of color (I used black)
  • 2 3/4 yard 100 percent cotton webbing (1.25 inches wide)
  • scrap of color fabric for contrast (at least 6.5 inches by 16.5 inches)
  • long pins to help with positioning webbing
  • heavy-weight thread for machine stitching
  • steam iron and ironing board
  • sewing machine
  1. From the canvas cut a rectangle 15 inches wide and 34 inches in length.
  2. Fold over 1 inch on the top and bottom of the rectangle (on the short side). These two edges will be the top edge of your finished bag. Iron. Stitch 1/2 inch from top edge. Your rectangle is now 15 inches wide and 32 inches long.
  3. The next step is probably the most difficult, but don't worry. I'm here to guide you to the finish line with written instructions, a photograph, and a diagram.
  4. Place the canvas right side up on your work surface, long edge facing your tummy. Starting at the upper right-hand corner, begin to position the cotton webbing onto the canvas. You will need to pin in place as you go.
  5. Think of the webbing as a continuous circle. The cut end of the webbing is pointing to the left and that is where the circle begins.

    Moving from left to right, the webbing will be extended to the finished edge of the bag, will then be pointed downward to form the handle, and then positioned to continue the circle, reading from right to left.

    At the other finished edge the 2nd handle will be formed, and then the webbing is re-positioned so that it is reading from left to right.

    Trim the end of the webbing is that is abuts against the first end where the circle began. Don't worry about this--the joint will be covered up with a decorative piece of fabric.

Here is the canvas with the left and right (east and west) sides turned and stitched. The long top and bottom edges (north and south) are raw edge. Positioning of the webbing began in the upper right-hand corner.

A closer look at the left-hand side. Note that the webbing is one continuous piece. This contributes to the stability and strength of the completed bag.

And here is a diagram which gives precise measurements:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Free "Quilt Block" Potholder Pattern

My younger daughter bought her first house a few years ago -- a mid-century fixer-upper. Room by room she is making improvements, restoring a long-neglected house, and making it her own home. Right now she is in the midst of a massive kitchen remodel. Except for the countertops, she is doing all of this on her own, from the subflooring up. Gone are the dark brown cabinets, brown countertops, brown backsplash, and (can you believe it?) brown floral carpeting

The floor is now a beautiful dark grey slate, cabinets are pale gray with shiny black hardware, the counters are slate-colored, and the backsplash is a dazzling bright white subway tile. This neutral palette is just begging for pops of color, and that she is doing with a red toaster and Kitchen Aid, bright yellow pendant light, and an aqua blue accent wall. 

I think a beautiful new kitchen is deserving of a new set of potholders, don't you? Luckily I have enough fabric scraps and quilt batting remnants in my studio that I can make a set of potholders without having to go shopping, and I have the red, yellow, and aqua that will make it happen.

Here is the pattern I drew. With this project you will learn the quilting technique called "foundation piecing".

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thought for Today

I loved you the moment I heard your heartbeat.
I loved you the instant you were born.
Then I saw your face and fell in love even more.
You were only a minute old, but I knew I would die for you and to this day I still would.

When you choose to have a child, 
you make a conscious decision to allow your heart 
to walk around outside of your body.

(For my daughter--loving you forever and always.
Happy Birthday)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Coffee Liqueur for the Holidays

It's not too soon to start thinking about Christmas gifts. This one is easy as pie, but needs to age for a month or two. 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or powder
  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 2 3/4 cups vodka
  • 3/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  1. Heat water in medium saucepan. When hot, add coffee and stir until dissolved. Add sugar and vanilla bean, stirring well to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
  3. Pour vodka and brandy into aging container.
  4. Add the cooled coffee mixture and the chocolate extract. Stir well.
  5. Cap and let age in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks.
  6. After initial aging, strain liqueur through a cloth-lined wire mesh strainer. Add food coloring.
  7. Bottle, cap, and let age an additional 1 to 3 months.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thought for Today

Holding a grudge doesn't make you strong; 
it makes you bitter.
Forgiving doesn't make you weak; 
it sets you free.