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Well, SUPPOSEDLY spring has sprung. I’m sorry, but Phil lied. Here in southern Virginia it SNOWED yesterday. I don’t live in the mountains…rather close to the beach, actually. Yet, snow. SNOW!!! And I think it is supposed to snow again next week. Geesh!
Regardless, I am sitting around planning for my vegetable garden. In fact, I am sitting knee deep in seeds and graph paper as we speak. Blogging about it is my “break” from the grueling process of organizing my plants on paper! Notice the required water glass and dark chocolate to get me through this process!
I feel like I am getting a late start this year. I do all of my gardening from seeds and it is about time for me to have them sown indoors. That is going to be an important task for me this week. After creating my plan tonight though, I have figured out I only have about 1/3 of what I need. Hopefully I will be able to find all the other seeds I need this weekend.
We have decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME! this year with our garden. I am SOOOO excited! We are going to have quite the set up out back if I don’t kill everything I plant. I used some pre-made vegetable garden plans I found at Better Homes and Gardens and adjusted them to work for my own space and food needs. They gave me great ideas about arranging plants and adding beautiful flowers to the mix!
We will have four, yes, four boxes that are each 4 feet by 8 feet. They will be filled with just about every vegetable possible, including:
green bell peppers, swiss chard, red cabbage, lettuce, radishes, oregano, onion, pole beans, rhubarb, broccoli, parsley, carrots, cucumber, snap peas, basil, chamomile, bush beans, zucchini, eggplant, lavender, spinach, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, spearmint, sweet potato, jalapeno peppers, roma tomato, purple tomatillos, yellow squash, and butternut squash.
Quite a list, huh? It’s actually pretty darn intimidating and I just don’t know if I have that green of a thumb. All of the bold veggies above are items I have never grown before. Notice many of them are root vegetables. I was scared to death of root vegetables until I tried radishes last time I had my garden. They were a wild success and I am ready to conquer more now! Some of these plants may change. I am not sure about the butternut squash. They spread pretty far and I just don’t know if I want to give up that much space for one vegetable.
So, that is that! I would also like to do a bit of landscaping along with my garden beds. Here is the plan I have right now.
The boxes are on the left, a fire pit area with seats and benches in the middle, and a mulched area with a swing set and fort on the right. The gray area around the boxes and fire pit are pebbles. None of it exists right now except those two green trees off to the right! We are getting the swing set from a friend tomorrow.
How ambitious is it to hope that the mulch and pebbles will be in by next weekend? Who knows!? Probably WAY too ambitious!
Have any of you gotten the spring gardening bug? What do you do with your veggies after you harvest them?
Last summer we moved into a new house. While there are certainly lots of upgrades and projects we want to do to the house, we’re taking it slow. A new fridge, dishwasher, toilet repairs, carpet, paint, and AC unit will definitely put the brakes on the fun projects.
My son’s bathroom is one of the rooms that I can’t wait to work on. While I certainly want to make some major changes, I started with a simple bathroom rug. I made one similar to this for our bathroom two years ago, but finally got around to taking pictures for a tutorial. I know there are numerous styles of this type, but here’s my take on it.
First you need a base. For this rug, I used an old bath mat. I planned on it being washed quite a bit and I wanted something that would stay relatively fluffy. Depending on the size of your rug, you could use a bath or hand towel. For my first rug, I used a piece of fabric that had been folded for double thickness. Just make sure it’s somewhat on the sturdy side.
Next, you’ll want to make your strips. I used a jellyroll for this rug, but you can certainly cut your own strips of fabric. My first rug was literally scrap fabric from a previous project. You can zig zag the edges, cut them with pinking shears, or leave them to ravel. I used the serger on mine just because I wanted the look of it. My other rug was cut with pinking shears. At this point, you’ll want to sew the ends of your strips together to make one super long strip. This is so you don’t have to piece together ruffled strips; instead you’ll be able to trim them as you go, waste less fabric, and have a much neater looking rug.
After your edges are decided, you need to make your ruffles. If you have a ruffler foot, this will be very easy. If you don’t (I don’t), it can still be easy. Take your time and sew a straight line down the center of your strip. Gather the fabric right before it goes under your presser foot so that you’re sewing a gather. I call it my ‘gathering cheat’. I’ll never run a long stitch and pull threads ever again. Ever.
Take your base piece and mark the lines where you’ll be sewing down your ruffles. My first rug had narrower ruffles so I spaced them closer together. I spaced this rug’s ruffles two inches apart. It’s totally up to what you like. (The picture shows markings at one inch. I originally planned for one inch, but then realized that the ruffles were too close to lay flat and you couldn’t see the fabric so I switched to two inches…just something to consider.)
Once you have your base marked, go ahead and pin down your ruffles. I started out with pinning as I sewed and ended up with my ruffles all veering to one side. Pin first, then sew. It makes for straighter lines.
Keep sewing your ruffles onto your base piece until it’s covered as much as you want it covered. For the underside, I hand tacked some of that rubber grippy stuff used for cabinet shelves to keep it from sliding all over the floor. I first tried sewing it on the machine, but the feed dogs chewed it to a mess. Thanks to Pinterest (thank you!), next time I’ll try putting invisible tape on the bottom of the presser foot to make it slide better. Next time…
And that’s it! Super simple and (I think) super cute!
He likes it. Really. He does. (That dark blue paint isn’t long for this world.)
Here’s a look at the bathroom rug I made for our master bathroom. Forgive the flat ruffles. I should have washed and fluffed it before taking the pictures, but who has time for that?
It seems our summers are pretty busy this year. I just realized that I haven’t posted anything since March. Ack! (It’s for good reason, though! I promise!)
When my husband and I decided that we were ready to upgrade to a king size bed, we decided to go with a California King. He’s pretty tall, and was tired of his feet always hanging off bed. For those of you that don’t know (’cause I certainly didn’t at the time), a California king is four inches narrower and four inches longer than a regular king. While four inches doesn’t sound like a big deal, trust me, it makes a difference in finding linens. As much as I love his feet staying on the bed, I have a hard time finding CA sized linens. (One of our few sets of sheets are lime green. When I brought them home, Husband looked at them with wonder. I told him, “Just deal with the color. They’re the right size and they were a lot cheaper than the others.” When we were going to bed that night, he says to me, “Wow. The light’s off and I can still see perfectly.” Hmrp.)
The quilt and sham set we currently have was a clearance find and is actually a regular king size. It’s not perfect, but it works. I’ve been on the hunt for a bed skirt for quite a while now. Last weekend, I went to Goodwill and happened to find a king sized bed skirt that was a close color match for our quilt set. Although it wasn’t a CA king, it was only $4 and was in almost new condition so I decided I could work with it. I brought it home and put on my thinking hat. Today I finished it. With a few minor alterations, it’s now a CA king size bed skirt. Granted, I know this doesn’t pertain to everyone out there, but I still wanted to share how you can easily trim something down to make it work.
First, decide how much you need to trim down on each side. For me, I needed two inches off of each side. The bed skirt had a pleat in the middle so I took off two inches from each side in order to keep it symmetrical. Had it been pleat-free, I’d have just taken four inches off of one side.
Second, take a ruler and mark your new seam line all the way on your ‘platform’ piece (the part you don’t see that lays flat on the box spring).
Once marked, fold over the excess and pin it down. I started out with not pinning it and because the skirt and platform fabrics were so different, they didn’t want to feed into the sewing machine at the same rate so I started over. I heard my Granny in the back of my mind saying, “Just take the extra time and pin it. The difference will be worth it.” Take apart your corner (mine wasn’t a continuous piece but rather two pieces that were sewn overlapped.
Start sewing your new seam with the taken up portion creating a ‘flap’. You can trim it off later or you can leave it. I left mine because I figured I was the only one who would know it was there and why not save some time???
When you get to your corner, you can either trim off the extra two inches or fold it back and sew it down. I sewed mine down and it looked just fine.
Should you need one, take a coloring break. My son woke up from his nap in the middle of the project and needed some coloring time.
Once you finish one side, get going on the other one (if needed).
And that’s it! All in all, the project took me about an hour (coloring break included). For those of you wondering, yes, the skirt is a couple inches too short going from the head of the bed to the foot, however, because I have night stands at the top of the bed, you really can’t tell. It looks worlds better with a skirt, yes?
Of course, making the bed always helps, too.
It is my turn! As Jen said last week, we’re always excited when we receive the latest Gooseberry Patch Early Reviewer book…I love getting a sneak peek at these books and trying the new recipes, and it is even more exciting to be able to give away a copy of the book. Read through the whole post for directions on how to enter the giveaway.
Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember, and also the unofficial start of summer. And, what says summer better than state fair. I grew up in Sacramento, a child of the suburbs, but every summer we would make our annual trip to the California Exposition and State Fair. I know that we rode rides, walked through building after building of county exhibits, and saw livestock, but my favorite memories are of the fair food – funnel cakes, frozen bananas, and corn dogs. So, when I was flipping through the new book, 101 Cozy Casseroles, I knew that I just had to try Tiffani Schulte’s recipe for Blue-Ribbon Corn Dog Bake. It was easy to make and was a tasty combination of corn bread and hot dogs — and I think it tasted even better when I reheated a piece (in the oven, not the microwave) for lunch the next day!
Blue-Ribbon Corn Dog Bake
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ Tbsp. baking powder
[Here I digress—I don’t know about you all, but I have 4 sets of measuring spoons and not a single one has a “3/4 Tbsp.” measure! But, Google http://www.google.com is my friend, and I found a great conversion chart. http://www.calcul.com/cooking-conversion I learned (I’m sure that somewhere in the deep recesses of my muddled mind I knew this, but it wasn’t rising to the top) that 1 tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons, multiply by .75, and for those of you who also do not have a ¾ Tablespoon measure, you need 2 ¼ teaspoons!.]
½ tsp. salt
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ Tbsp. butter, melted
¾ cup milk
In a small bowl, mix together sugar and egg. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Add cornmeal, butter, and milk, stirring just to combine. Fold in hot dog pieces.
Pour into a well-greased 8” x 8” baking pan.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serves 6.
Do you want to win a copy of 101 Cozy Casseroles?
How to Enter
We will be giving away ONE copy of the cookbook to one lucky winner. If you would like a chance to win, leave us a comment in this post and tell us about your favorite summer foods. Leave your comment before June 7 at 9:59 p.m. CST.
Don’t worry about being creative in your comment, the winner will be chosen by a random number generator. Please make sure that you fill out the required fields by putting your first name in the name field and your email address in the email address field. We do not share email addresses and you will not receive emails from Threaded Together unless you win.
We will choose ONE winner randomly and announce the results here on Threaded Together sometime after June 2.
No purchase necessary to enter or win. Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and who are 18 years of age at time of entry. For this giveaway, entrants can enter 1 time. We will disqualify any entries that we believe are generated by scripts and other automated technology and Threaded Together assumes no responsibility for late or misdirected entries due to SPAM, technological issues or for prizes lost in transit.No substitutions including for cash are permitted, except Threaded Together reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater monetary value for any prize. Void where prohibited by law. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state, and local taxes on the value of their prize. Relatives of Threaded Together are no eligible to win.
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Today was a rainy, nap-taking kind of day here in NW Florida … only I don’t take naps, so I got myself into the kitchen and made recipe #3 from Gooseberry Patch’s new Meals in Minutes – 10th Anniversary Edition.
If you follow all of us here at Threaded Together then you already know that we are all trying to eat healthier. Without knowing what I would do with it, I picked up some couscous a few weeks ago when I was on the shopping aisle looking for some alternatives to plain white rice (I LOVE plain white rice, but I’m trying to LOVE brown rice, too!). So, when I saw this recipe in the new cookbook, I knew I had to try it … I loved it! I think it is my new favorite salad recipe! Yum!!! The couscous was unbelievably easy to make (bring water to a boil, toss in the couscous, cover and remove from heat…wait 5 minutes and then fluff!). The dressing is an exotic blend of flavors … sweet, tart, spicy. This salad was so good that I called Jen and told her I was on my way down to her house to bring her lunch – a small container of this salad!
I did make a couple of minor ingredient substitutions … I did mention that it was rainy, right? Not only did I not want to spend the money, but I also didn’t want to get wet!
Colorful Couscous Salad
10-oz. box couscous
1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced
4 carrots, shredded
15 ¼ oz. can corn, drained
15 ½ oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 T. garlic, minced
3 drops hot pepper sauce
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. lemon pepper
½ tsp. seasoned salt
¼ tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
Prepare couscous according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a large serving bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and seasonings; stir in vegetables and beans.
Add couscous, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Things I did a bit different:
*I didn’t have any white wine vinegar so I substituted red wine vinegar.
*I used 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
*I used Tabasco for the hot pepper sauce
*I didn’t have any turmeric. After doing a bit of online research (Google is my friend!), I decided since it seemed to be mainly for color, to just leave it out. No harm, no foul!
*Don’t look too hard in the pictures for the diced green pepper … I’m not a huge fan, so left it out. I increased the amount of carrots and green onions to make up for the “bulk”.
*I don’t have a 1/8 tsp. measuring spoon, but I have these to meaure a smidgen, a pinch, and a dash … aren’t they cute??
I think I used a smidgen each of cinnamon and ground ginger.
My sweet little boy turns two years old this week. Where. Did. It. Go?
I started this quilt for him when he was two or three months old (don’t judge me…I have a problem finishing projects). A few months ago, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to start another project until this one was DONE. Maybe it was the realization of him getting so close to his second birthday or maybe I was tired of the guilt trip it caused seeing it incomplete for so long…whatever it was, it motivated me to sit down and get it finished.
The design was fairly simple being that the front of the quilt only had eight sections in total (not including the owl). Normally I put my quilts on my free-arm frame, but I decided to do this one by hand. I quilted each section with a different design; one section had small quilted circles, one section was diagonal lines, and another was quilted to follow the flowers patterned on the fabric. It was ‘a little bit of this, and a little bit of that’.
I appliqued the owl on the largest section in a color completely different from the others. I’m still not sure what I think about him, but he’s slowly growing on me. I used the sewing machine to applique him as I know how my son’s fingers can pick apart just about anything.
I also tried a new technique on the binding. Normally, I use four separate pieces of binding and my corners always look sharp and…awkward. A sweet lady at work had given my son a baby quilt and she had used one long piece of binding. Her corners were slightly curved and tucked in on the back…they looked great!
So…I did what any crafter would do.
I studied it.
And I copied it.
It took some time (I think I picked it out a couple of times before I finally got it down right), but I got it and fell in love with it. Basically, you sew your binding to the front as usual. Once you reach a corner, you ‘tuck’ in two or three tiny pleats/tucks to make your binding curve around the corner. When you hand sew it down on the back, you’ll tuck under the extra fabric and sew it down flat.
Now that this quilt is FINALLY finished, I have about seven other quilts I want to start making. My only problem? I have about four other quilts that still need finishing.
What motivates you to finish those forgotten projects?
Okay, so it turned out to be a 25 month Stitch-A-Long, rather than a 12 month Stitch-A-Long, but it is still FINISHED! And, I do like this method of taking large projects and breaking them up into “doable” chunks.
I’m afraid the budget doesn’t allow for a gorgeous double -matted frame job, so what to do, what to do? I reached way back into my “toolbox” of sewing skills (WAY back, haven’t made a quilt or wall hanging in years!), and decided to turn it into a little wall hanging. I found some sweet fabric to reflect some of the dominant colors which are also found in my office (I spend much more time there than at home, so decided that is where it will hang — it will also help on some of those challenging days to remember these “Living with Charm” words).
I considered how wide I wanted the finished product to be, and decided that I wanted the emphasis on the stitching so the borders and binding are fairly narrow.
It needed a little something to give it some form, but I didn’t want to use iron-on interfacing. I had some leftover pieces of soft white flannel which worked perfectly!
I was in the grocery store today and the refrigerator pie crusts were on sale for $2.29 for a brand that will remain nameless. My first thought – I NEED TO GO INTO THE PIE CRUST MAKING BUSINESS!!!
Why? Well, have you ever made your own pie crust before? I hadn’t until four days ago. It is RIDICULOUSLY easy.
My husband and I were discussing our current food cravings and the first thing he wanted was a pumpkin pie.
“But sweetheart,” I told him, “I don’t have any pie crusts.”
My spoiled husband’s response was, “well can’t you just make one?”
I had never tried before and had no idea what went into it. I explained to him I would probably have to use yeast and let the dough rise and all those fun things. I also had NO motivation to go to the store to buy a pre-made pie crust. I get an F- on that one. I could not have been farther from correct.
Later in the day I turned to my trusty old allrecipes.com and looked up a pie crust recipe. OMG, I cannot believe I have never made a pie crust in my 30 years. It takes only four ingredients, and ten minutes of your time. You know what else? I think it made a BIG difference in the taste. It was the best pumpkin pie I had ever eaten, even with our family’s well guarded secret recipe (I think Libby’s stole it though because last I checked it was on the back of their pumpkin pie can).
So here is the recipe for homemade pie crust. Try it and see how yours tastes.
I have no picture because the pie disappeared far too quickly. If I remember, I’ll post one next time (which according to my husband is going to be soon).
There’s a huge Christmas charity event that happens each year where I work. They poll area schools for 100 children to come out, ‘meet Santa’, attend a party, and…the best part…get presents. This event is huge. I mean HUGE. They plan for it all year, host several fundraisers, and it always makes the local newspapers. They allow the teachers to select the students and then they take it from there to make sure each child is taken care of. I’ve seen it two years now and each time it makes me cry.
As the Christmas party gets closer, they have a silent auction to have one last fundraiser before the party. Each year I’ve wanted to donate something, but having time to prepare was always my problem (time is almost ALWAYS my problem). This year, though…this year I planned ahead and made a lap quilt to go in the auction.
I know it’s a simple design, but I’m a sucker for a good ol’ square patterned quilt. I love the simplicity of them, the allowed randomness, and, I don’t know, I just like ‘em. I made this one in red, white, and blue fabrics (that I bought in a yard sale!). While I did follow a diagonal blue and red pattern, I didn’t follow a pattern in how to arrange the various patterns of fabric. I used 9 different patterns and didn’t worry if one of the squares was touching the same pattern…I just went with it.
I did run into a little issue about which I’d like to give a ‘quilting tip’. I wasn’t paying close attention to how wide my quilt top was in relation to my back fabric. The top was about 2-3 inches wider than the back. I really didn’t want to remove a row of squares and make it narrower (the quilt measures 43″ wide and 56″ long). So I started thinking…I made my bias tape for the edges and instead of making the top side equal to the bottom side, I simply made the bottom about twice the width as the top. You can see in the pictures what I mean.
Because I was using fabric from a ‘grab bag’ found in a yard sale, I was on a bit of a ‘budget’ for the backing fabric. I didn’t have a large enough fabric piece to use for the entire back, so I ended up using four different fabrics (all were also used in the quilt top) to complete the back. I was a bit afraid of how it would turn out, but now I love it. It’s truly a scrap quilt!
(Pardon the junk on the shelves. The craft room is a work in progress.
Do you have any crafts or ideas that you frequently use for donation items?
I LOVE hummus … I do NOT love paying for it in the grocery store, especially for the good stuff; in addition, when you make it yourself you can control the ingredients/taste – I added some extra garlic to mine. Jen alerted me to her friend Briony’s blog several months ago, Freeze Your Way Fit, and this yummy recipe for homemade hummus. Full disclosure here – I make a HUGE mess in the kitchen when I make this recipe so I make a lot of it at one time. I can fit 3 “batches” into my 9 cup Kitchen Aid food processor; this time I made a total of 6 “batches”. Tahini is the most expensive ingredient, and it is also the messiest! Even our local Walmart here in L.A. (lower Alabama, also known as NW Florida) carries tahini, $4.75 for the amount needed to make all of these batches — it probably cost me about $12.00 to make all of the hummus shown below.
Ingredients (for one batch – multiply by 3 to fill a 9 cup food processor):
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I grew up calling these garbanzo beans!)
1 small garlic glove, minced
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne (red) pepper
3 Tbsp. juice from lemons (I uses concentrate this time and it worked just as well)
¼ cup water
6 Tbsp. tahini, stirred well
2 Tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Step One: Put chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor; process until fully ground. Scrape down sides with a spatula. Make sure all parts of the food processor are put together before you put the ingredients in!
Step Two: With the food processor running, slowly add the lemon juice and water and continue to process for one minute. Scrape down the sides with a spatula again.
Step Three: In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini (easier said than done – it is the consistency of tile grout!) and 2 Tbsp. oil.
With the food processor still running, add the oil-tahini mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. Continue to process until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed.
Can be served immediately with crackers. Refrigerate any not used immediately. Also freezes beautifully! Freeze small portions. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds on full power, stir, and heat another 5-10 seconds. If it seems a little dry, just add a little bit of olive oil.