Category Archives: homemade

My Second Winter Project Is Finished

It’s been a couple weeks since I finished my second big winter project. I have just been negligent in blogging about it. This project is a rag quilt that I made for our bed.

This quilt was more involved than the t-shirt quilt I made for my daughter because for her quilt she supplied the t-shirts and selected the flannel that it would be backed with. Also our bed is queen size so this quilt is larger than the one I made for her.

For our quilt I started with selecting the materials. It took several trips to the fabric shop before I had all that I would need. Our bedroom is done in blues and browns so I decided to stick with (mostly)those colors.

Fabric for quilt topside
Fabric for quilt underside

One of the reasons it took so many trips to the fabric store is because I didn’t really have a plan. So I took so measurements then drew it out on graph paper.

I decided to do an on-point design (the squares line up on a diagonal) and to use 12 inch squares. Once I knew how many squares I would need, 72 squares for each layer, I finished buying fabric. The quilt would be three layers but for the middle layer I planned on using an old flannel sheet set that I had so I only needed to buy enough fabric for the top layer and underside.

It wasn’t until I had purchased all of my fabric that I added the colors to this chart determining the actual pattern. This project actually involved a lot of math. You’ll notice some of the squares have different colors in them, these were changes that I made in the design and the inner most color was the correct one.

This chart was my road map throughout the cutting and sewing process. I would have been lost without it.

When cutting the fabric I layered the three fabrics together then made my cuts.

After I had all 72 squares (x three layers) cut it was time to start sewing. I sewed the layers together by stitching and X across each square.

Then I began piecing and sewing the rows together according to my chart.

In the above photo I was almost at the halfway point.

When the sewing was finished (above) it was time to start clipping the edges as in the photo below.

Clipping the edges was probably the longest part of the project with most of the edges having six layers of fabric to clip through (the outside edges had three layers) but the task was made a bit easier by using these small snip-type scissors that I purchased on one of my trips to the fabric store.

Once all of the clipping was finished it was time to wash and dry. This causes the edges to ruffle. While the quilt was drying I stopped the dryer every 15 minutes to empty the lint filter. The first few times it definitely needed to be emptied. There was less lint the last couple of times I emptied it but still enough to clean it out.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out and my husband was wowed. He has commented several times on how much he likes it and how warm it is. 🙂

I like the design on the underside as well so reversing the quilt is always an option.

Thanks for visiting.

Winter Projects – I’ve Finished The First One

I had two big winter projects planned and I’m happy to say that I have finished the first and I’m working on the second.

For two years my youngest daughter, Lindell, worked in promotions for iHeartRadio. Last fall she told me she had a bunch of t-shirts that she received while working at iHeart that she would like made into a quilt. I told her I would be happy to do it, but it would not be until after the holidays, and she would have to pick out some flannel that she wanted go along with the t-shirts. I would make them into a rag quilt. For a tutorial click here.

It was early December when we shopped for the fabric but it wasn’t until after Christmas that I began cutting up shirts and laying things out.

iHeartRadio has several FM radio stations in Detroit, all broadcasting out of the same location. She worked for all of them. The t-shirts she received were from various promotional events she attended. Some of them were printed with a logo on the front and event sponsors names on the back and also identified her as “Staff” (“Camper?”).

I set them out in several different designs trying to find the right balance.

Each t-shirt block is backed by two layers ( blocks) of flannel. I stitched an X across each block to hold the three layers together.

Each of the flannel blocks is also backed by two layers of flannel.

On this kind of quilt the seams are sewn on the outside. Once they are all sewn together the seams are clipped about every 1/ 4 to 1/2 inch then when the quilt is washed and dried the clipped seams create a ruffle.

I continued to lay the pieces out on the floor in between steps to make sure things were coming together the way I wanted them to.

If Trooper was around when I Iaid it out on the floor he would immediately go and lie down on it. I often put a blanket down on the floor for Trooper to lay on while I brush him, so I guess he thought he was going to get brushed. This was ok because the very last step was to wash the quilt.

One of my biggest challenges was deciding how to include this pocket from a hooded sweatshirt that said “UNEEK Detroit”. It’s size and shape were unlike any of the other blocks so I had to come up with a unique way to use it.

I went with my first thought, to make it into a unique shaped panel at the top of the quilt, because I needed/wanted the extra length in the quilt. I stitched the pocket to a block of flannel with a unique pattern. The other option that would have worked was to make it into a pillow instead of putting it in the quilt.

I was quite pleased with the end result and my daughter was thrilled with it. I had to lay it out on the table for the final pictures since it was already washed. The table is not big enough to get the whole thing in on shot – sorry.

For the back side my original plan was to have a symmetrical design with the blocks but a mid-project change in the blocks on the front messed up that plan. Oops! None-the-less Lindell loved it and was eager to take it home and wrap up in her beautiful memories.

What’s keeping you busy these days?

Below is a sneak preview of my second winter project.

Be sure to follow this blog to see how this one comes together.

Thanks for reading and remember Make It A Great Day! 🙂

I Scream, Use Cream, We’ll All Love The Ice Cream

I’m Eating Ice Cream Again – YAY!!!!!!!!

The Back Story

I stopped eating ice cream a couple of years ago after learning of the potential health problems that can be cause by carrageenan. Carrageenan is a additive that is commonly used by food manufacturers. It has no flavor or nutritional value but is used as a stabilizer and thickening agent. It is used widely in dairy and dairy-like foods but is used in some other foods as well.

According to this report by the Cornucopia Institute carrageenan may cause digestive problems such as intestinal bloating, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis, so I decided to remove it from my diet.

As I began reading food labels I discovered that in most of the products I buy, like yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and almond milk some brands contained carrageenan and some did not so it was easy enough to choose the products that did not contain carrageenan. The two exceptions were whipped cream (whipped topping) and ice cream. I don’t use a lot of whipped cream but when holiday time rolled around I discovered that homemade whipped cream is super easy to make (with an electric mixer) and far superior in flavor and texture to the store bought products. With so many ice cream products on the market I kept searching for those that did not contain carrageenan, but every label that I read listed it as an ingredient. According to this carrageenan shopping guide there are a few organic brands without it but none that I have seen in stores.

So I stopped eating ice cream.

For more information about carrageenan or foods that contain carrageenan please see the carrageenan report or shopping guide linked above.

A Bit of Hope

I really didn’t find it difficult to not eat ice cream as there are plenty of other satisfying desserts that I enjoy (too many if I am honest.) I did, however, continued to check ice cream labels now and then.

Last summer my daughter, Tina, was telling me about buying really good milk and ice cream from a local dairy. I immediately wondered out loud if their ice cream had carrageenan in it. As I was thinking “I’ll have to check it out” she pulled up their website and began looking at the ingredient list for their various ice cream varieties. Oh, how disappointed I was to learn the this company that boasts premium quality products was using this potentially dangerous ingredient.

A Surprise

For the past several year Tina and Ken got us beautiful personalized Christmas ornaments for Christmas. I keep them displayed in our hutch year round. This past year my husband suggested to Ken rather than a Christmas ornament they could get us some type of farmer-themed vanity license plate for our car. When Christmas came I was expecting either an ornament or license plate from them, so imagine my surprise when I opened an ice cream maker.

Tina and Ken bought us an ice cream maker 🙂

It was several days later when I decided to try it out. I took it out of the box and found the instruction manual which also included a few recipes. After reading the recipe for chocolate ice cream I was excited that I happened to have all of the ingredients that I needed.

The Drawbacks

There are a couple of drawbacks to using this ice cream maker. The first is that you have to plan ahead. The container part of the machine that holds the ice cream has to be frozen, so it must be put in the freezer for several hours or overnight to assure that it is. Also all of the ingredients must be chilled, so for the chocolate ice cream recipe that requires the ingredients to be heated when combined that mixture had to be refrigerated overnight as well.

The second drawback is that the machine is very noisy while it is running. It needs to run for 20 – 40 minutes so the noise can be bothersome. (After tasting the results I decided I am willing to put up with the noise.)

The Advantages

It probably goes without saying that being able to control the ingredients that go into the recipe is a huge advantage. The other is that this is probably the best ice cream I have ever eaten.

The Recipe

Below is the recipe that I followed. Note the ingredients – whipping cream, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla – it was thick and creamy with no need for a stabilizer! I did substitute 1 cup of half and half for 1 cup of whole milk (because that’s what I had on hand). It was scrumptious!!!

I included the Strawberry Sorbet recipe in the photo because we still have strawberries in the freezer from last spring so I plan on making the sorbet this week.

Thank You Tina and Ken for this wonderful gift! 💖

Homemade Holiday Décor

I have received some early Christmas gifts, gifts that were cleverly and loving crafted by the giver, so I wanted to share them with you.

Coat Hanger Ornaments

The first two are some Christmas decorations that my dad made.

Both the angel body (above) and the star (below) are made from plastic coat hangers and zip ties. So creative! Since these are made with plastic they are suitable for either indoor or outdoor decorating. I added the lights since I planned on displaying them outdoors.

Incidentally, I hadn’t told my dad that I been looking for an angel ornament to hang outside but had not seen any in the stores I had visited. It is the perfect gift.

Broom Corn Ornament

The other hand crafted gift (pictured below) came from my neighbor.

This lovely decorative broom is even more special because some of the components are things that we grew on our farm.

It was one day this past fall when our neighbors Matt and Karen stopped by the farm for a visit. Karen asked if she could collect some pinecones for some crafts that she was working on. After I showed her the tree where the pinecones were most plentiful, and she collected as many as she wanted, we walked back to the barn where my husband handed her a bunch of broom corn and said, “see what you can do with this.”

What is broom corn you ask? The short answer is that it is the plant that makes up the base for the above broom decoration.

Broom Corn 2020

A longer explanation is that broom corn is not really corn at all. It is a variety of sorghum that has historically been grown for use in making brooms. Out of curiosity my husband picked up a couple packets at a yard sale last year and planted them along the garden fence this past spring.

Broom corn grows very tall. Some of ours reached about twelve or thirteen feet, but I have read it can grow as tall as 18 feet (5.4864 meters). Unlike corn the seed does not grow on a cob. They grow on branches at the top of the plant.

Broom Corn Drying

When cut and dried these branches become very stiff. It is these branches that are used for making brooms. The video below show the broom making process.

Nowadays broom corn is more commonly used as a decorative plant, put in vases or turned into decorations like the one Karen made.

Speaking of Karen’s creation I also want to point out that the flower in the arrangement, just to the left of the two pine cones, is actually made out of a portion of pinecone which was cut near the bottom then painted. How clever!

I’ll close with a thank you to Dad and Karen for these wonderful gifts and to you for taking the time to read my posts.

Garden Meals – Eating Well

Despite not following some of the gardening strategies that I had mentioned earlier this year, like planting by the moon and companion planting, our gardens have produced abundant crops. For the last several weeks we have been blessed to be enjoying meals prepared with fresh home grown vegetables. We are thankful to be eating well.

Some of the meals we’ve enjoyed include:

Yesterday’s DinnerBeef Stew (with home grown potatoes, swiss chard, celery, tomatoes and garlic)

Thursday’s Dinner Pepper Steak over White Rice (with home grown bell peppers, tomato and garlic)

Wednesday’s Dinner T-bone Steak, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Acorn Squash and Sautéed Swiss Chard. (with home grown potatoes, garlic, squash, and Swiss chard)

Eggplant Parmesan

Stuffed Cabbage

Spaghetti – with home made/ home grown sauce

Corn on the Cob

Green Beans with Garlic Butter

Swiss Chard

Cucumber Salad

Tomato Sandwich

Banana Pepper Poppers

All this, my friends, is why we do what we do.

The Banana Pepper Poppers are one of our favorite side dishes. They are easy to make so I decided to share the recipe. (Please note that I am one of those cooks who does “a little of this and a little of that” so the amounts do not need to be exact. Feel free to put the word “about” in front of each ingredient listed.)

Banana Pepper Popper Recipe

6 – 3 to 4 inch banana peppers

4 ounces cream cheese softened

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

three strips of bacon cooked and cut into bits

a few shakes of crushed red pepper (optional)

bread crumbs (optional)

Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove stem and seeds. Place in baking dish. Mix together the cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, bacon bits and crushed red pepper. Fill each pepper half with cheese mixture. Sprinkle each pepper with bread crumbs (optional). Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes (until peppers have softened). Enjoy! 🙂

Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator they are even good eaten cold.

Are you eating any in season vegetables?

Do you have a favorite seasonal recipe you would like to share?