Thursday, December 18, 2014

Candy Cane Cookie Bark

Forgive me for sharing these... I'm not sure if they're naughty or nice. There's absolutely nothing healthy about them, and they're bad for your teeth too. But my goodness, the kids and I had fun creating this recipe! And eating them. And then I sent some to work with my husband, and they loved them too. Aren't they pretty?

If you have kids laying around the house, make sure you use them to help you crush all the cookies and candy canes! Put those little elves to work! If you don't have kids, you can borrow mine! ;)

Candy Cane Cookie Bark

1.5 bags quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I love Ghiradelli)
1 bag quality white chocolate chips
1/2 package grasshopper cookies or mint oreos (about 20 cookies)
1 package candy canes (about 18)
pat of butter
peppermint extract (optional)

1. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Crush cookies in a ziploc bag, using the end of a rolling pin.
3. In a glass bowl, melt 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips + a pat of butter.*
4. Mix cookies into chocolate, and spread on the parchment. Freeze for 15-20 minutes.
5. Crush candy canes in a ziploc bag with a hand towel around it, using the rolling pin. Crush them to very small pieces.
6. In a glass bowl, melt the white chocolate chips + a pat of butter.*
7. Mix candy canes into white chocolate, and spread on top of chocolate layer. (Make sure that the white chocolate isn't too hot that it melts the semi sweet chocolate underneath). Freeze for 15-20 minutes.
8. Melt the rest of the chocolate chips.* Stir in a few drops peppermint extract. Drizzle on top of chocolate layers and freeze 15-20 minutes.
9. Remove from freezer, and after about 10 minutes, cut into pieces.

*To Melt Chocolate:
For microwave method, use a glass bowl, melt for 30 seconds, stir, melt 30 more seconds, stir, melt 15 more seconds or until completely melted.

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Christmas Cards from Purple Trail

One of my favorite things to do right after Thanksgiving is order Christmas cards. It's a tradition that I just love, both the sending and receiving. This year, I knew exactly what company I wanted to order from, because I used them last year too, and I loved them. If you haven't heard of Purple Trail yet, consider adding them to your list of great companies to use for Holiday CardsWedding Cards, Baby Shower Invitations, Stationery, Business Cards, and more.

After browsing their Holiday Card section, I came across this template and I KNEW it was the one. I am a sucker for the deer bust trend right now, plus the gold lettering. I love that I was able to personalize the card by changing the fonts, the size of the deer and "Noel," and the shape of the card to a bracket. All those things can be personalized in the design center, which is really user-friendly, and includes lots of different options. My cards are printed on a nice, thick paper. They feel luscios, and don't attract fingerprints.

My cards arrived perfectly packaged, and within 3 days of placing my order online. I love great service like that! Purple Trail is also listed as a Google Trusted Store, something I look for when considering a paper card company.

I've spent the last few nights watching Christmas movies, while addressing and stuffing my envelopes. In the future, I might consider uploading my address book into my Purple Trail account, which would be nice because then I could have all the addresses, plus my return address, printed on the envelopes for me! It's a pretty genius option. 

Here are a few other templates for Christmas cards that I loved:

My husband and I were married just five days before Christmas (11 years ago)! I always love associating the holidays with a little love in the air. Check out the Wedding Invitation Page... there are so many cute options here, it kind of makes me want to marry my husband all over again.
Do you love to send out cards too?

Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for this blog post. I approached Purple Trail on my own, requesting to do this review. All opinions are 100% my own, and reflect the excellent experience I've had. I am much obliged to them for providing superior products and service!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Clamshell Mug Rug for Santa

I'm so excited to be participating in the Merry Mug Rug series over at an amazing quilting blog, Ellison Lane. I've been wanting to make a festive placemat for Santa's cookies and milk, so this mug rug was the perfect opportunity! I used a Clamshell, also known as Scallops, design. This entire project (minus the front side of the binding), is hand pieced. It's the perfect little project to work on while you're out and about... doctor's office, carpool lane, ballet lessons, etc.

My friend Mary, over at Molly Flanders Makerie, showed me how to make these adorable clamshells. She just posted a great tutorial on how to create them, so click over to learn for yourself from one talented lady, like I did! 

The main idea is creating a clamshell template, then cutting out your clams and arranging your design on a muslin grid, then glue basting them to the muslin, then needle-turned applique to stitch them down, then creating a quilt sandwich and hand quilt all 3 layers together. Whew! Again, be sure to read Mary's clamshell tutorial. She shares all the helpful instructions. For reference, my clamshell template was 2 1/4" by 2 1/4". 

I found it helpful to arrange all my fabrics and snap a picture on my phone. That way I could see the scale of all the colors from a different perspective, to make sure I liked the layout. I could also refer back to it in case things accidentally got out of order. 

Then I basted and stitched. I worked on one row at a time. 

Don't look too close, my hand stitching and quilting certainly isn't flawless, but considering I had a baby on my lap during most of the time I was stitching, I'm okay with that! 

The scariest part of this project was whacking off the excess clamshells to square up my little quilt.

For the binding, I use the French Binding method. The tutorial is from Mary's blog (she's genius, I tell ya). Instead of using 2 1/2" strips, I cut mine at 2 1/4" which I think looks tidier on such a tiny little quilt.

Here's a look at my backing... aren't those soldiers so brave cute looking? They were so perfect for fussy-cutting the clamshells, too. I ordered this fabric from Mary's brand new shop called Sunny Day Supply. Her website will launch soon, but if you are just dying to get your hands on some of this fabric, leave a comment here, or you can get in touch with Mary via her blog or a direct message on instagram.

I think Santa will approve of my Merry Mug Rug... and probably the Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookies, that my 8 year old made all by herself! (Ok, I'll be honest, we already ate al the cookies, so I guess we'll be making more in time for Santa, haha)!

Be sure to visit Ellison Lane to see the full lineup of Merry Mug Rugs! I'm in good company, sewing and blogging along with 16 other really talented quilters. There's also a great giveaway with the series, a $30 gift certificate to Southern Fabric, enter here! (ends Dec. 14).
Ellison Lane Givaway

Friday, December 5, 2014

Blog Around the World


Today I'm participating in the series "Blog Around the World." Several sewing/quilting bloggers have been doing this, and I'm excited to join in! (Thanks to the amazing Amy of nanaCompany, who offered the above image to anyone participating... its too cute I couldn't resist).

You might ask what the following picture has to do with this blog hop. Well, nothing really, except that "Blog Around the World" sounds a lot like "Christmas Around the World," which has me feeling nostalgic for the days that I danced on the Folk Dance team at BYU.

It was this very weekend each year, that we were performing for "Christmas Around the World." It was a huge production, and is one of my favorite things I have ever done in my whole life.  There were dances from all around... Hungary, Ireland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, China, Africa, Israel, Turkey, Mexico, and the US (clogging)!! I am sitting in the middle of this picture, wearing a Hungarian costume (with embroidered flowers on the bodice and hat). Every single time I danced the Csárdás, I thought of my T-roy, who was in Hungary serving a church mission, the very time I was touring with the folk dance team.

I'm supposed to be here talking about sewing! haha. So here is a little bit about my sewing background, and what's been going on in that department lately!

1) What I am working on?

Oh boy, that's funny!!!!!!! I literally have 20+ unfinished projects at the moment, and no I'm not proud of that. It tugs at me almost every day... I really wish I had more time to sew. I love it, and could spend hours every day sewing without growing tired. But I have to discipline myself. I've got 4 young kids, so I try really hard to not let my hobby get in the way of their needs. Which means I don't crank out projects very fast, but I try to award myself at least 20 minutes every day to do some type of sewing.

Here's a peak at a few of my "works in progress."

--Weekender Bag
I'm oh-so-close to finishing this... the exterior is finished and I just need to sew in the lining. More details coming soon!

--Blocks for a Bonnie & Camille sewing bee that I'm in over on Instagram

--A Mug Rug for Santa's cookies and milk! This is my first clamshell project, taught to me by Mary.

--Baby Ornaments for my Kids

--My Super Tote

2) How does my work differ from others its genre?

I suppose I should define my 'genre' first. When I began this blog, my subject matter was all over the place... sewing, crafting, cooking, attempted DIY projects. The more I created, the more I realized I would always rather be sewing during my free time. With a limited amount of sewing time, I have to be choosy about which projects I want to devote my efforts toward.

I used to enjoy sewing clothes for my kids, but I hate cutting out patterns, and I get frustrated when they outgrow a handmade outfit or stain it. I'd rather find clothes for them on sale at Old Navy (and save money doing it)! Every now and then, I'll sew an outfit or a costume for a child. My 8 year old and I made this dress together, which was a great experience for both of us!

Mini Maxi Dress

I occasionally sew apparel for myself, which is fulfilling because I won't outgrow my clothes (well... hopefully)! I think its useful to understand garment construction, so I create a few simple things for myself every year, to stay in touch with that aspect of sewing.

Improv Maxi Skirt
Bandage Style Knit Skirt

But my favorite kind of sewing these days-- my 'genre' of choice-- is quilting! I absolutely love mixing or matching fabrics, using scraps, fussy cutting, and hand quilting. There is so much to learn about sewing. One of my goals with each project is to try a technique or design that I've never done before. I may not be a master at any particular technique, because I'm always yearning to try something new. This is why I love sewing-- I'll never allow myself to get bored with one pattern or fabric. 

Deer Reverse Appique Mini Quilt

In truth, I'm not exactly sure how to define my style yet. At this point, my tastes are eclectic and I dabble in all sorts of fabric, designs, patterns, and quilting. I definitely have 'idols' who influence my quilting choices... I admire the work of Mary Dugan, who has an amazing talent of matching saturated and bright prints, loves curves, and adds her signature pick-stitch or loopy free motion quilting. There's Amy Sinibaldi, who creates the most adorable things with linens and low-volume prints, and super sweet hand quilting. I love Camille Roskelley and her fresh, clean, yet modern projects. Katy Jones has a quirky style, incorporating bold colors and texty fabrics. And Ashley J, who is one of the quickest and most precise quilters, always choosing just the right fabrics for just the right project. Depending on my mood, I will likely channel one of these designers to create something of my own!

My work is rarely perfect, but its all made with lots of love, and usually a baby sitting on my lap. As long as I'm learning as I go, I always feel happy with what I've made.

Made for Mary

3) Why do I create what I do?

I just can't help it! I crave it! My love of working with textiles and fibers started as a child. I loved making little things for my American doll, Kirsten. My best friend's mom taught me how to cross-stitch. My sister still has the cross-stitch I made for her, when I was about 10. I made the blue cross-stitch for my husband before he left on his LDS mission.

As a teenager, I sewed a few things, but I was mainly interested in ballet and snowboarding. My mom is an incredibly talented seamstress, and looking back, I really missed out learning more from her. But my desires had to come on my own terms. Once I left home for college, I enrolled myself in all the available sewing classes BYU had to offer. I majored in Family and Consumer Science Education, and taught middle school sewing afterward. When my first child was born, then the second and third, I laid sewing aside for a few years. But then I discovered blogging, which re-lit my "sew-jo" once again, and I never plan on stopping! It's a constant balancing act with 4 kids and many other responsibilities, but one worth fighting for. There is something so satisfying about finishing a project. It isn't likely to be undone and forgotten about in a few minutes. I just love to sew!

Quilted Passport Clutch Tutorial

I love blogging as a method of keeping track of what I've made, how my tastes are changing, how my skills are improving, and as an outlet to share with others. Most of my projects fall into one of 4 categories: sewing for fun, sewing to learn something new, sewing for someone else, or sewing for a specific blog purpose.

4) How does my creative process work?

My mind wanders... I think about sewing all the time. I usually visualize the end result before I even start, and then cross my fingers along the way that it will turn out as I hope. I love diving into a new stack of fabric or felt. Fabrics that excite me are the driving force to creating something I love.

I make a lot of smaller quilted items, mainly because I am so busy and I love quick finishes. Since I'm on-the-go a lot, I love bringing along supplies so I can work on a project while my kids are at lessons or while I wait in the carpool lane. It's liberating to be able to create when I'm not home and can't haul my sewing machine along!

This was made mainly while my son was at soccer class, as a gift for Ashley.
Reverse Applique Anchor Tutorial

These squares were made mainly while my daughters were at ballet lessons.
Pottery Barn Inspired Advent Christmas Tree 

I appreciate all that I learn from other seamstresses through classes, tutorials, and patterns. Learning from others has really helped build my foundation in sewing and quilting. I try to contribute by adding my own patterns and tutorials on my blog. My Ruffle Duffel Bag is one of my favorite things I've ever come up with. It was through a lot of trial and error and hard work that I was able to create it.

Quilted Ruffle Duffel Bag

Sometimes, I get a little scissor happy and just start cutting without a clear plan, hoping that my vision will turn into the reality I hope for!

Thanksgiving Advent Tree Tutorial

That's it for now! Thank you so much to those who read my blog! I really appreciate you taking the time to stop in on my little corner of the internet!

I was invited by my dearest friend Mary Dugan of Molly Flanders Makerie, to participate in Blog Around the World! When I first "met" Mary, it was through her blog. I had seen so many of her beautiful quilted creations on pinterest, and then I started following her blog. I later found out that we actually lived in my same city. I was practically starstruck when I first met her at our local quilt shop... but I shouldn't have been, because Mary is the nicest, warmest, friendliest, most approachable person ever. Never did I imagine that a close friendship with her was on the horizon. We share so much in common. I think its safe to say she has become one of my kindred spirits (as Anne Shirley would say). I have been privileged to take several quilting classes from her. She inspires me so much, and has taught me a lot about quilting and sewing. I'm so grateful for her! Be sure to read her Blog Around the World post!

I passed the Blog Around the World torch along to my bestie Ashley of Mommy By Day, Crafter By Night. My life changed for the better when I met Ashley. We met at church, and little did I know how much we had in common... we were both brand new to our state, our kids and husbands hit it off, we started blogging around the same time, and we both love sewing!!! She is my other kindred spirit. She's one of the funnest, sweetest, and most exciting people to be around. She has always encouraged me to challenge myself and motivates me to try new things. Without her, my sewing journey would not have been as much fun as it has. We used to have playdates for our kids, while we would sit around and stitch and talk about the latest fabrics, trends, and projects we were working on. She moved this summer and I miss her terribly! Our sewing will always keep us connected, and I'm always dying to know what she's working on next. She's one of the most talented gals I know. Be sure to check out her Blog Around the World post!