Wednesday, August 29, 2012

While the tomatoes are going wild...

Everybody must make Panzanella Salad.  What the heck is that?  It's also known as Bread Salad.  What the heck is that?  Pretty much my favorite thing to eat...Ever.  It might sound a little....strange....but it is amazing. 

I've adapted this recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  It's a little fiddly...but totally worth it.  Take the time to do all the steps and you will have a dish that you will make every August through October....possibly every weekend.  If not multiple times per week.  If not daily.  Depending on how your tomatoes are growing and if your young devour them all before you get to them.

Panzanella Salad
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

6 Cups rustic/crusty bread (I use a crusty bread with garlic pieces baked in and it is amazing)
8 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (You will split this up between two steps)
As many cherry tomatoes as you can pick...or approximately 1 1/2 lbs.
3 Tbl. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cucumber, peeled and halved
1 Shallot, sliced
Optional: 1/4 C Chopped fresh basil (I usually omit this, simply because I like the garlic flavor from my bread to really shine)

1. Heat oven to 400 F

2. Cut your bread into 1 inch pieces.  Place on rimmed cookie sheet.  Pour 2 Tbl of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt over the bread cubes.  Toss.  Bake until they just start turning golden.  Approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  (mine took 19)  Stir half way through.   Remove from oven and set aside until cool. 

****I normally do this step in the late morning of the day I know I'm making this dish.  That way I know it will have enough time to cool and I don't have to worry about it.****

3. Cut tomatoes in half if they are cherry-sized or smaller if they are large tomatoes.  Place in bowl and toss with 1/2 tsp salt.  Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and place over a bowl and allow juice to drain for approx. 15 minutes.  ****Do not throw away the tomato juice.  You probably won't get much, but you are going to use it.****

4. Take cucumber and remove the seeds.  ***you've really got to watch the sog factor with this salad.  The seeds will just make it too soggy.  Get rid of them.  It's easy.  Just slide a spoon along the seeds and you can scoop them out.  Easy.  Thinly slice. 

****Removing the cucumber seeds reminds me of Pimento Cheese Stuffed Pickles  Not one of my more successful dishes.  But it was fun and I had to remove the pickle seeds.****

5. Whisk the remaining 6 Tbl of oil, red wine vinegar and some pepper into the reserved tomato juice.

6.  Toss your toasted bread, cucumber and shallot together with the vinaigrette you've just made.  Taste to make sure it has enough salt.  I typically have to add some.

7.  Serve and eat pretty much right away.  You can let the bread sit for a few minutes to absorb the liquid, but don't let it sit for more than 30 minutes or it can get too soggy.

The flavors are so good.  The vinegar really adds a tangy punch to it.  The vegetables are perfect and the bread...oh yum...a bit chewy, but softened by the dressing.  This is food love right here.

I forgot to take a picture right after I had tossed everything you get the leftovers that had been sitting for a few hours.  But, it gives you an idea of what you're after.

Please make this as it is so good.

****edited 9-3-12****

I made it again this last weekend.  So I decided to put in a picture of this salad looking at it's tasty best...besides missing the cucumbers.  It was still good, even without em. 

Thanks for reading!


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am not the type to remain a project that is.  wink wink to The Mister  I love to have options.  I die for the chance to one day put something together with my sewing machine, and the next to crochet something fun.  And then to abandon everything for several weeks and just hand quilt something I have in the works.  I'm a fickle woman.

But...there comes a point when you have too much going on!   I've got The Mister's Man Quilt and My Youngest's Hopefully it's pink enough quilt as well as working on my next Inspiration Cafe project (it's a'll just have to wait) as well as the desire to just make...whatever whim comes my way.  So, it's too much.  I have to buckle down and FINISH something.

This is my priority at the moment.  It can change on a whim.  But, My Youngest is going to freeze this winter...which is rapidly approaching, and so this must be quilted.  I would like to say that I am over half way done quilting it.  There are 11 rows down and 8 across.  I am done with six of the eleven and have started on the 7th.  Phew.

And of course, The Mister's quilt that is using all neutral colors...ahem.  You know, I still maintain this is a neutral quilt.  And, I am loving it.  I would like to get one of these done a day.  HA!  It's more like 1/4 of a block done a day...if that.  Busy times, busy times.

I actually do have one more crafting priority.  This one.  She told me the other day that she wants to learn how to make her crochet fatter.  I told her, she needs to work on her chain a little bit more and then we'll learn how to make it fat.  She loves to count how many bodies long her chain is.

Can you imagine crocheting this way?  Yeah...I don't think so. 

Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Gorgeous wrap bracelet by Natalie...Inspiration Cafe

Hey Everyone,

Hope you all had great weekends. Its time for Inspiration Cafe again - yay, so lets get started.

Today  I'm going to show you how to make a Wrap Bracelet

There are so many of these wrap bracelets around blog world with loads of great tutorials. I have to admit that when I first saw these bracelets popping up on Pinterest I thought they would be too difficult to make. That was until I saw a tutorial from Happy Hour Projects. So simple and so easy.

Here's what you need:
Cord, cotton for sewing, a needle, beads (uniform in size) and a button. 
I also used a clipboard to secure the cord so that I could work neatly. 

I roughly measured my wrist and allowed for a bit extra. Double the length and cut the cord. At the bend in the cord (halfway mark) knot the loop for the closure, make sure that your button will fit snugly through the loop.

Here's how to sew it:

Thread the needle with a double thread and secure to the cord.
I worked from left to right in a figure 8.

Thread the first bead onto the cotton and pass under the right cord.
Loop over the right cord and thread back through the bead.
Pass under the left cord and loop over - thread the next bead on.

Again pass under the right cord. Over.
Thread back through the bead.
Under the left cord and over. Thread the next bead on.

Continue until you are
happy with the length, then secure the end of the cotton onto the cord
and cut off. Thread the button onto the cord ends and secure. I liked
the end pieces sticking out but you can cut them off for a neater look.

Pretty easy right?

I love it - its by far my favourite bracelet to wear. And I get loads of compliments and "where did you buy its" when I wear it.

 I haven't had time to make more yet, but I definitely will, and I think next time I will make it longer so I can wrap it twice around my wrist.

I hope you enjoyed Inspiration Cafe today.  Be back next week to see what Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird has in store for us

Take care



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Proudest??? Crafting Moment of My Life

And it has nothing to do with something I made. Scratch that, it has everything to do with something I made, and that would be my daughter.  I made her, after all.  She has wanted to learn to crochet for about a year now.  Last year at this time we tried and she was hopeless.  She didn't have the patience to learn to hold the yarn properly and couldn't conceive of what to do with the hook.  A year later and she is making chains like you've never seen a kid chain!  And what do you think she did with her handy work?

crochet rattail

I want you to try and imagine my utter joy paired with horror when my daughter came down the stairs, proud as a peacock and announced herself and her rat tail. 

Ladies and Gentlemen may I present MY RAT TAIL!!!!

I'm sorry, what did you say? 

Then she turned around, biggest grin of her life to show me her handy work, and Mama almost cried with joy.  That's right, she crocheted herself a rat tail!!!  Are you having a horrible flash back to 1988 and the nasty boys who had rat tails? Ahem, I'm looking right at you Mister.  And what do you know, I love it.

I never thought the day would come when I encouraged my daughter to bring the rat tail back into fashion, but I'm going to do it.  I think it's due for a resurgence.  We will make it what it was always meant to be, a girls' fashion statement, and a crafty one at that. My baby took a skill I taught her and made it her own.  She was as crafty as they come and made something she was thrilled with.  You might wonder why she even knows what a rat tail is. Well, I blame that on our little town's festivities. She went to the fishing booth and came back with a rubber rat tail as her prize.  We thought it was quite hilarious at the time, but it obviously made an impression on her.

So everybody, let's embrace the rat tail. Let's show those boys of the 80's how a rat tail really should be worn.  Crocheted.

Thanks for reading. And my oldest is now taking orders, so if you want your crocheted rat tails, just drop me an email. We'll work out the details.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our resident fairy...

Fidget Goblinshimmer is her name.  She is My Oldest's tooth fairy...thanks to the fact that she has now lost 8 teeth!!!  I am only going to briefly state here how much I am displeased with pulling my daughter's teeth.  She freaks out every time.  Even though, every time I get one out, she is amazed that it didn't hurt at all!!  Grumble.  How many more baby teeth can possibly be in her mouth?   So, I try to make the process of losing teeth...a bit better by making it fun. 

If your child is losing teeth or about to lose teeth, I would recommend giving their fairy a name.  There are many sites on the web where you can do this.   Just google it.  It's a fun personal touch.  My Oldest writes her fairy a question every time and leaves it on her old is she, what's her favorite food...and last night's what are you afraid of?  Fidget always leaves a reply.  She writes with her wand and so it is silvery and magical.

Fidget also leaves $4 for every tooth...but not just any $4...oh no, she only pays in gold dollars!!

The other nice thing about our tooth fairy, is she likes to have my daughter put her teeth in this special tooth pouch...and then under her pillow.  The tooth fairy does not like to have to fumble and fiddle under pillows with no hope of ever finding the tiny tooth that is left there.  Once she has retrieved the tooth, she then places the gold dollars back in the pouch and back under the pillow.  Easy Peasy.

Making a tooth very simple.  I just take a bit of felt...and cut it.  Nothing terribly specific or particularly straight about it.  I just cut to what I think is a god size.  this was about...3 inches by 4 inches, I would say...give or take.

Then I fold the bottom half up, leaving a lip.

Then I fold the top lip down and pin in place.  I want to make this little pouch so that the tooth will have a harder time escaping, so that's why I'm enveloping it like this.

I chose to put a tooth on the pouch this time...we've already lost one of these pouches.  I wanted to make it homey and a little rough cut.  So...

Just cut a bit of white fabric until you've got what looks sorta like a tooth.  Make sure it fits on your pouch and use a bit of embroidery thread and tack it down. 

Again, I wanted it to be a bit homespun, so I didn't fold down edges and applique, I kept it rough.

Sew down both your sides at 1/4 inch.

I also sewed down the flap about 1/4" in from the edge as well...again to keep the tooth secure, but not so secure that the tooth fairy couldn't get things in and out.  I mean, it's so simple I didn't even back stitch.  It's perfect for it's purposes and only took me...5 minutes.  That's the kind of project this tooth fairy digs.

Thanks for reading...and make losing teeth fun...for you and the kidlettes.


Thursday, August 16, 2012


It may not seem like it, but I have a serious crush on solids.  I know, I am the print queen...but someday I may turn into the solid queen.  Just never know.

rainbow solids quilt

See, photographic evidence.  Isn't it cute?  I love my little wall-hanging made with Kona Solids. 

I started by cutting my solids into strips and sewing them onto a white strip.  This whole project started out as just fun sewing.  I was making it up as I went.  My favorite kind of sewing.

I cut those strips into smaller pieces and sewed two with the same color together on the diagonal to get a 4-patch.

I placed these 4-patches out in the pattern I wanted and then gathered them up by row and numbered them so I would have ease in sewing them together.

Sew the rows together.  As you can see, I have pinned the row # to the very first 4-patch.  Again, for ease of sewing everything together.  I am sewing everything on the diagonal, so I need to keep very close track of what patch goes where since it changes on each row.

No matter how careful I doesn't mean everything goes completely smooth.  Enter seam ripper.


I have a helper as you can see.  Puss is a great quilting buddy....she doesn't get in the way at all.   

Pin like crazy, baby!  For something as simple as this quilt, I really wanted my corners to line up perfectly.  When ironing, you want to alternate which direction you iron to.  If you notice, I always ironed to the colored solid back when I was first sewing my 4-patches together.  It will hep your seams line up.

So simple, yet so pretty.

I used the walking foot to quilt this and even though it is my nemesis, for such a small quilt with simple, straight lines, it worked perfectly.

Oh, and the's a print.  Don't hate me, I couldn't resist.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What NOT to do when camping

I never had a banana boat until this last weekend. Banana boat...not banana hammock. Big difference. I do not think I am ever going to have one again. Guh-ross. 

Sorry about the photo quality on this one.  I only had my camera phone and we were losing daylight.

Okay, so what is a banana boat exactly?  You take a banana; in it's peel.  Take a knife and split it down the middle, but be sure not to come out the other side of the banana.  Spread it apart a bit.  Take some graham crackers that have been split into fourths and stuff them just inside the peel.  Then take a giant handful of mini mallows and put them in and around the banana.  Then top it with chocolate chips.

Wrap this concoction in foil and put on the coals of your camp fire.  Let cook for a bit until you think everything is nice and gooey.  Figure out a way to get them out of the coals...

That's right.  If you're The take some foil and wrap it around your hand and then proceed to scoop out the banana boats in grand style.  Notice the flames.  These are actual hot, live coals.  I do not recommend this method to anyone.  If you are smart, you'll bring a shovel....or not make these at all.  Your choice.

Eat with a spoon.  I am just going to direct you to My Youngest and the look on her face.  That is exactly how I feel about banana boats too.  The Mister claims that our bananas were too ripe.  I claim that they're just yucky.  Mine had a seriously wrong taste of gasoline...and we don't use any kind of flame starter on our fire...just good old wood.


A much better use of your time than banana boats would be to lug around a giant log.  Please don't judge me and my children based on the level of filth in this picture.  We were camping.  Filth happens.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Put it on the fridge by Danni...Inspiration Cafe

Welcome to the

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that most of my projects are pretty quick, fairly versatile and very inexpensive. 

With summer winding down, and a busy fall season just around the corner, I decided to make a small white board I could put on my fridge to remind me of some upcoming events that I'm looking forward to, like.....

 I started out thinking I was going to cute up this little whiteboard that I got from our bank when they had a grand opening for their new building.

Unfortunately, the pen was not a whiteboard marker.  Don't know what that was about, but anyway, I needed a change of plan.  I had a chalk marker and a piece of adhesive chalkboard vinyl that a friend gave me, so I figured it was time for my first chalkboard project.

Now I love Freedom Bank, but their logo just doesn't match my decor, so I got out my scissors, cut off the logo, trimmed down the chalkboard vinyl to fit, removed the pen holder, then got out my washi tape and trimmed the edges out.

Now it's looking a little cuter and I haven't spent a dime on this project.  I used a strip of magnetic tape that I cut in half and fastened on the marker to make it stick to my fridge so it will always be handy.

 You can see that I have some fun things coming up on my schedule.  I've decided to use it for only the fun things.  That way when I'm feeling overwhelmed, all I have to do is look at it and I'll be cheered up!  

Thanks for stopping by the Inspiration Cafe today and don't forget to come by again next Monday to see what Sherry from Pondered Primed Perfected {P3} has been doing.  You can bet it will be something special.

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