Friday, June 29, 2012

Flower Magnets

This was originally a guest post for a member of my blogging buddies group.  But I felt like I'd revamp it a bit and post it here.

Do you have a birthday coming up?  Are you getting a head start on Christmas?  Are you just ready for some flair on your fridge?  If so, this is the post for you.

These flower magnets are the perfect thing to make because...they're super easy.  They're fun, and this.... not so cute.

But much better.

Equipment Needed for Flower Magnets
Felt...just go for the cheap stuff you can get at the big box stores
Craft Glue
Any pretty fabric that you like

Let me start this tutorial by saying...just have fun with this.  I did not use a pattern, I free-hand cut everything.  Just eye-ball it and if you think it needs to be changed, snip a little here and snip a little there.  Perfection is not necessary and it's so much more fun if you don't have all the pressure to make things with a pattern and make things exact.  This is also a good project for the kids to help with.   So, with that in mind...

Cut a flower-y shape using three different pieces of felt and/or fabric.  You can make it scalloped or just round.  Do what you like.  Don't worry about the quilting fabric fraying...even if it does, it's gonna look cute.  Don't fret.

felt flower magnets

See...I wasn't thrilled with the look of the red felt.  So...

...I fixed it.

Sew on a button.

You can even get fancy with your buttons if you so choose.

A bit of craft glue placed strategically over the knot and stitching. 

Stick a magnet on and let it dry thoroughly.  I put the ruler there just so you can get an idea of the dimensions.  Make them smaller or larger as you prefer.

That's it.  So easy and so cute.  Here's what I made in about 10 minutes flat...maybe less...

All felt on this one.

Really teeny.

Who's looking at the magnet when you can look at that face?

There's just something about the gingham that adds a sweet flare.

Throw a few of these magnets in a cellophane bag, tie with a pretty bow...maybe add some garden twine for a little homey pizazz and you've got an elegant present sure to please.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Massage your Kale!

Today I am talking about beets and kale.  What?  That's right, possibly two of the most feared items in the produce aisle.  More specifically, I am talking about the beet greens.  I would recommend getting your beet greens from your own garden or a farmer's market as they're bound to be fresh and pesticide-free.

Here are some tender young beets, just pulled from my garden.  As you can see, the actual beets, are very small, but the beet greens, or the leaves are a pretty good size.  You cook these like you would cook spinach.  I boil some water, add a touch of salt, throw in the washed leaves and beets.  Reduce my water to a simmer, cover with foil and cook for 5 minutes.

Make sure you wash them really well!!  They are loaded with dirt.

When you can stick a fork in the beets, they're done.  So, it actually might not even take 5 minutes.  Depending on how hot your water is, they can cook faster.  You do not want to over cook these greens as they are very tender.  The less you cook, the better.

To serve, remove cooked beets from water.  Put on a plate, add a pat of butter, sprinkle on some lemon juice, salt and pepper and they are ready to be consumed.

I want to say that The Mister...who has told me from the day we began dating that he hates beets!!!!  he actually likes beets made this way.  He requests them daily from our garden and my supply is now gone.  I will be re-planting beet seeds today. 

So, there you have it, as a beet fan from day one, I feel vindicated...kind of like when his brother told him that minivans are only useful when your kids can't buckle themselves in (yeah, that's right, The Mister, not me, is the one in this family who wants a minivan).  Happy dance  I'm not getting a minivan  I'm not getting a minivan.  Ahem, alright then.

Now then, about the title of this post.  MASSAGE YOUR KALE PEOPLE!  I am here to confirm that if, before you eat kale, you rub their leaves a little bit, (mush two leaves together against one another and work out their sore muscles...aka...crush the fibers a bit), your kale will not be bitter!  It's a miracle.  The Mister took a bite of his salad last night...and was amazed as he saw kale, but didn't taste it.  I did remove the thick ribs, and just served us the leaves, but I am, from this point onward, massaging my kale every time.

So, eat your beets and kale, people.  They're good for you and tasty too!

Thanks for reading.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Quilting for the non-commital by Heather Inspiration Cafe IV

Hi everybody!  Thanks for visiting the Inspiration Cafe this week.  My name is Heather fromBeating Hearth and I am the contributor who's in charge of inspiring you all to sew.  I pretty much do it all, from quilting to crochet to embroidery to pillow cases and clothes.  So, hopefully I can inspire you a bit to try one of the stitching arts and get crafty with your bad self. 

My Crew

I am the sole non-redhead in the bunch.  Yes, you can cry for me.

Today I am going to try and get all you folks who are non-committal (and with good reason as getting equipped to quilt can be spendy!!) about quilting, to make a quilt.  Come on, I don't want you to fully commit and get married to quilting or anything, but maybe just go on a blind date with quilting.  Just see if maybe it's something you might be a bit more interested in.  Quilting is quite handsome (or beautiful), and fun, and smart.  Maybe a little different from what you've done before, but once you quilt, you'll never go back. 

This is what I want you to least it's the beginning of something I want you to make.  These little beauties go by many different names, Hexies, hexagons, Grandmother's Garden, English Paper Piecing...but the great thing about them is you don't need much to make them.  They're quick and easy to make and darn cute! 

Here's the gear you'll have to buy...

This is it!  Here are the supplies need: Quilting Betweens (these are needles), thread (probably not bright turquoise), scissors, pencil, thimble, pins, English Paper Piecing patterns (You might have to buy these from a quilt store, or online...they are the only thing that might be a little harder to find...but not by much) and fabric.  So, go buy these items, you'll only be out 10 bucks and a few yards of fabric.  Don't worry about buying enough right now, you are just going to have fun.  You need 3 to 4 different fabrics for this project.  Have fun fabric's one of the best parts of quilting.  Pardon my racing heart beat.  Love me some fabric.

In fact, shopping for your supplies may be the hardest part of making these beauties.  Let's get started!

1.  Put your hexi on the backside of the fabric.  Now take your pencil and trace an approximate 1/4" around the edge.  Don't get your rulers out for this.  Just guess.  You are going to fold the fabric edges over so you want to make sure you make enough of seam allowance...but don't make it huge otherwise when you're quilting'll be sad.

2.  Cut out your fabric pieces right on the lines!! 

3.  See that...that's what you want.  Now make sure to put the hexi pattern on the backside of the cut out piece (not on the front like I'm showing you here) and then you...

4.  Pin the actual pattern piece right to the fabric, making sure to center it.  You are going to sew with these English Paper Piecing patterns as your guide to get the perfect hexagon shape you are looking for...don't worry...your quilt won't be crunchy and filled with card stock.  They get removed later.

5.  So, you take a long length of thread, tie a knot at one end and you are going to make a basting stitch (Term of the day, Basting Stitch: A larger than normal, temporary stitch used to hold something in place) right through the paper!  Just do it.

6.  As you bast you are going to need to fold down the corners.  Don't stress it, just fold them down and try and keep your fabric centered.

7.  Now, once you've got your middle hexagon basted and 6 outer hexagons basted, you can get to work sewing them together.  Put your center piece and one of the outer pieces front sides together.

8.  You are going to be using a whip stitch to hold your pieces together.  Basically this mean, tie a knot at one end, insert needle and pull through and then you come back around the top of what you are working on and insert needle back on the same side as before.  So the thread is going to be wrapping around the top of your fabric.  I always do about 3 whip stitches right at the beginning and end.  Also you are only catching the very, very top bit of fabric.  Try not to stitch into the paper pattern at this point.  If you's okay.

9.  You are going to use the whip stitch across the entire length of one of the sides.   This is what it'll look like.  I would say my stitches are 1/10" apart.  It really does go quickly once you get the hang of things.  Use your thimble here!  You don't want to hurt your finger.

10.  Now you need to sew on all the other sides.  So, just do the exactly same process, only on another angle.  Make sure front sides together, whip stitch and all good!

11.  Once you have sewn completely around the middle piece (really, any piece if it is surround on all sides, this applies too) You get to remove the middle pattern piece.  Just unpick your basting stitches and it should pull out easily.  Don't mind the holes this piece now has, re-use it until it dies.  You'll know when that is.

12.  Now you have to sew all the outer edges together.  Just line them up front sides facing and whip stitch until you have a completely sewn piece.

13.  Now, make another one.  You are going to start stitching your sweet little pieces together.  This step, is really the only tricky step, if I'd call it that because of all the sides on a hexagon, you need to make sure you start stitching with the correct two sides touching.  So, line them up right sides out, so you can see how they'll look when they're sewn together, and then very carefully, flip one over, making sure that the angle it lined up with before, is the one it is sitting on top of now.

14.  Simply whip stitch the proper angles together and when one of your hexagons is completely surrounded, remove the paper, and continue sewing until you have reached the last angle.  You will repeat this process again and again until the quilt has reached your desired size.

Here's the Grandmother's Garden quilt I made for My Oldest's crib.  I put the same yellow fabric in the middle of each one and mixed it up with different green fabrics,  So, yellow in the middle, two rows of green and then a white row.  Then I stitched the white rows of two different hexies together.  Oh yeah, and don't be afraid of the occasionally ugly fabric.  It makes things interesting.

My beloved Sister, who doesn't quilt, is making one.  As you can see she is using a rainbow of fabrics, all with a yellow center.  You can do whatever you want. 

Here's mine again.  As you can see I am doing a different pattern with my hexies from the two above.  That's because they are very versatile and you can mix them up as you like.  Want to see what inspired my pattern?!?

Ahem...that would be the bathroom floor at Disneyland.  And yes, I am that crazy lady who is looking at the bathroom floor, while at Disneyland, thinking...what an awesome quilt that would make!!!  Snap.   You can find inspiration everywhere! 

A few more words on why you should make a hexagonal quilt.  Very little equipment required.  It's fast and easy.  In fact, if you're lucky you can get your spouse to trace out and cut your fabric...that makes it go even faster. You can get fabric with cute little images and have those be the focal point. It's portable.  If you're like me and are going camping and want something to do...bring this.  You can pre-cut some fabric, put it in a baggie and take it with you.  If you're at the Doctor's office...this is perfect, you can stash it in your purse and bring it out and have an enjoyable wait. 

Thanks for reading, and I really hope those of you who have thought about quilting but didn't know where to start, will make this quilt. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email or message and I'll help you the best I can.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The bad and the ugly of quilting...and the tedious too.

Two projects had a deadline of  Neither are going to be completed.  Sometimes, it's just what it is.  You run out of time.  Luckily, My Youngest, whose birthday has come and gone, was just fine with her loot. So, that means she is going to get an early fall present...maybe it'll be a first day of school present.  I am not going to fret too much about not getting it done.

This is what I've been working on with Her Quilt over the last little while, and if there's any part of the quilting process I don't like, it's these next three things...

1.  Basting your quilt.  Luckily I have discovered spray basting and it's awesome...except when you gas yourself.  But, you do get your flimsies so much smoother and you don't break your back in the process.

Here's the front in it's entirety as it's being spray basted.

And the back.  The thing about putting together the back of a takes just as much fabric as the front....aka... A LOT!  So I'm always surprised when I think the yard of fabric I have left over from piecing the front isn't enough to make up the entire back.  So then I start having fun and just piecing things together and then I end up with a mish-mash of fabric goodness.  It's the's all good!  Plus it's fun to just sew whatever you want with no real rhyme or reason.

2.  Marking my sew lines.  UGGGGHHHHH!! I do not like marking my lines.  It's time consuming and you have to be all hunched over and it takes forever.  If there's any reason for strictly stitching in the ditch...Term of the day...Stitch in the Ditch:  To sew right next to your seams...ahem, if there's any reason for only stitching in the ditch, it is to avoid having to draw on sew lines.  BORING.

Next thing I don't like about quilting...

3.  Machine Quilting.   I would recommend hand quilting almost always, except for maybe a small piece...I guess you could machine quilt...If you were desperate, that is.  It is boring and you have to roll up the excess quilt and it's unwieldy and a struggle to keep things straight.  I know, I know, I am completely in the minority here.  People love  to machine quilt.  Except me.  I do not like to machine sew my quilts.  There, I've confessed.  It might be old fashioned, but if you hand sew, you can be with your family (if like me your sewing machine is located in the dungeon of your house), you can really enjoy your handy-work and take some sweet time with it, and there's just something relaxing about hand stitching.

 I know that machine quilting is much faster...but being fast isn't all it's cracked up to be.  I really like to take my time and enjoy the quilting process.  If you have to be FAST FAST FAST all the time, where's the fun in that? 

In fact, I might do something crazy, machine quilt my long, straight lines...because they're almost done...and hand quilt the middle hexagons...I am seriously considering this.  I'll keep you posted. 

So, here's what I am saying...Hand quilt, stitch in the ditch style.  You'll be so much happier.  Also, don't let these 3 aspects make you re-think quilting.  Quilting is an amazingly creative process that keeps me happy.  It allows me to express myself and make something beautiful and useful for my household.  Plus, even though they are my least favorite part of quilting, the only one that you have to do is baste.  You don't have to machine quilt and you don't have to draw on sew lines.  So, HA!  Take that the 3 things I don't like to do.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Learning Part I

To help my babies be ready for school next year, and not lose all their learning from the previous year, my sister and I are doing a weekly summer school session.  We take turns preparing a fun activity and lesson for the kids; so it's not quite so overwhelming.  Every Thursday is learning day and the girls really look forward to it.  I've told The Mister that he gets to do some of the heavy hitting topics like...GRAVITY and SCALE and DENSITY.    He's pretty excited.  He has all these science-y ideas. 

My ideas...not quite so ambitious.  My sister did osmosis!!  Uhhh...alright then.  It was a fun project where you stick an egg in vinegar and dye and see what happens.  The kids really enjoyed playing in the egg afterwards.  My Sister's Oldest, loved loved loved her egg's membrane.  tehehehe.  She asked her Mama if the membrane helped the egg think.  Little smarty pants.

For this mama though...we learned about the SEASONS!!!

I prepared some props to give the pictures texture and a bit of fun.  Basically this is cotton balls, different color strips and shapes of fabric and construction paper.  We would talk about what happens in each season and make a picture.




Then we practiced writing the words of the seasons and then placed them in their Summer Learning Binders...which by the way, is my girls' favorite part of the whole process (keeping and showing off their work).  They can't wait until Daddy comes home so they can show him what they learned and My Youngest looks at hers almost daily.

It really makes me happy to see them enjoy learning.  Another thing we are doing is reading...and I just thought I'd show this as it really makes me happy.

My Oldest, rigging up a trap to catch a monkey.  We're almost done reading Summer of the Monkeys and I just really love seeing a child's imagination take flight. 

So far, Summer of Learning is A++++ in my book.

Thanks for reading!

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