Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm and November Newsletter are Coming!

As I write this, here on the east coast of the United States we are waiting for Hurricane Sandy, or as it has been dubbed by the local weather people, "Frankenstorm," to arrive. We have plenty of water, batteries for the flashlights, canned food... The electric company called yesterday to tell us to expect widespread outages (not a good sign), and Saturday we got the call that daughter's school has been cancelled for both today and tomorrow. They are calling for 80 mile per hour sustained winds and storm surges of 6 feet and more. Many areas are under mandatory evacuation. Please pray with us that everyone stays safe and that there are no serious injuries or fatalities from this storm.

In the meantime, I am working on the November Newsletter. It's a welcome diversion from all of the weather reports. If all goes as planned (we'll see....), the newsletter will be arriving in subscribers' in-boxes on Thursday, November 1. And it's FREE....

Caramel & Chocolate Covered Pears Recipe
(Click here for recipe)

Ideas for your Thanksgiving Table

Wool Acorn Pillow Pattern

Count Blessings Embroidery Pattern

For the month of November, we celebrate the color Brown.

If you're not a subscriber yet, you can sign up for free on the upper right bar of this blog.

And if you are on the east coast, stay dry and safe :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

NYC Is Good To Me: Part 1

Guest blogger Samantha takes on a trip to the Big Apple! 

A few weeks ago, while I was driving to work, an idea struck me.  I called my husband, and two days later we were on the train to New York! My goal for this trip was to see some things I had never seen before and to find a few destinations off the beaten track.  I can't wait to share the whole experience with you all!
First we went to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market.  Hubby and I had our doubts about this flea market... mostly because it was in "Hell's Kitchen." But the neighborhood has changed a lot since the time it coined its nickname, and we found so many fun things in the area, as well as in the flea market!  The first booth we stopped at was, I think, Hubby's favorite part of the day...

Hubby was happy to get 2 new-to-him comic books from collections he has had his eye on lately.  There were so many to choose from! One could spend hours looking through them all; that is, if you haven't already spent hours looking at the other booths...

There were some pieces there that were just beautiful.  Fur coats, old pictures, broaches, and cobblers models littered every table.  My personal favorite was a globe that looked like it was from around the 1920's with a bronze handle and stand.  I was very sad to leave it behind, but I had a long day of walking ahead of me...

Part 2 is next week! We saw some beautiful sights, and took lots of pictures!  Have you traveled anywhere interesting lately? What is your very favorite place to visit? Let us know in your comments!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

National Cookie Month: Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

I love peanut butter. I love jam. I love cookies. So.... you can guess how I feel about these.
My family has been making this recipe since I was little, for as long as I can remember. I think my mom got  the recipe out of an old Betty Crocker cookbook. I can still picture the red cover in my head, and when I eat these, they take me right back to my mother's Harvest Gold kitchen in the 1970's.

Peanut Butter &Jelly Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
jelly or jam of your choice

Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and egg. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Gradually combine with peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in chopped nuts if desired. Place on baking sheets, 3 inches apart (the cookies will spread a lot as they bake). Bake about 10 minutes until lightly browned but still a little moist in the center (don't over-bake). Remove from oven and immediately use the back of a spoon to make a depression in the center of each cookie.

Remove cookies from baking tray to cooling rack.

When cool, place a spoonful of jelly or jam in the center of each cookie.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Click here for a printable PDF of this recipe.

Did you miss our other cookies for National Cookie Month? There were quite a few lip-smacking, pant-tightening, milk-dunking recipes!

There were the Trailblazer cookies, which were decided to be "healthy"

There were also the Candy Corn cookies, which were a big hit with the kids and kids-at-heart in our family...

And last, my personal favorite, Pumkin Bars!


PS-- stop by LilyPad Quilting to see the cute project that Snoodles has made with my Oh Holy Night fabric  line....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mixed Media, Color & Design Class by Brenda Pinnick

I am into my second week taking Brenda Pinnick's Mixed Media, Color & Design Class, and I am really having fun!

I first met Brenda at Quilt Market a couple of years ago at a cocktail party hosted by Henry Glass Fabrics. Even though we had both been designing fabric for Henry Glass for a little while, this was our first chance to meet in person. We had a nice conversation, and then "met up" again on various blog hops, etc. I met up with her again in person at a trade show in California this past January, and we have been pals ever since! For me, having a phone conversation with Brenda is like talking to one of my best girl friends from way back when. Don't you love it when you meet someone who is a kindred spirit and who just "gets" you???

So anyhow, when I found out Brenda was teaching an online class, I was so curious and excited. I went to the art supply store with my list in hand and just had a wonderful time browsing.

And now that I am watching the videos and doing the exercises, I'm having so much fun. I am loving learning about all kinds of products on the market that I didn't know existed, and seeing first hand how to use them. I admit, I was kind of in a creative rut (we all hit the wall sometimes, right?), but this class has breathed new life into my creativity and studio space. It's inspiring to learn new techniques and play with colors!

When I had all of my supplies out, and projects underway, and a mess all around, youngest daughter wanted to try, also. She made a gorgeous printed fabric with Gingko leaves from the yard. Which wasn't even part of the class. But she is an over-achiever, so whatever......

It's not too late to sign up! All of the videos are archived on Brenda's website, so you can just jump right in. If you are interested in Brenda's class, click here. I hope you will join us :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home Sweet Quilt by Jill Finley Blog Tour

Well, it's finally my turn to tell you how much I love Jill's newest book! And your chance to win a copy of Jill's book for your very own!

There are lots of beautiful projects in Jill's book- I love Jill's fun and energetic color sense. Her projects are sure to brighten up any room- in fact, if you'd like to see some of Jill's quilts displayed in her own home, visit her blog here, where she shares photos from an open house she recently held.

One of my favorite projects from Jill's book, Home Sweet Quilt, is the Shadow Blossom Quilt:

Calming blues and fun pops of red "float" on this quilt. And such gorgeous applique, too. Isn't it lovely? By the way, Jill is an expert at applique and she has products she's developed, such as Appli-glue and Poke-a-Dots, to make your applique projects easier and more beautiful.

Another project from the book that I love is the Cottage Bloom Tablerunner- more of my favorite color, red! (Jill and I seem to have that in common!)

And look at the absolutely yummy colors in these projects:

You can see more photos from the book and purchase a copy  here.

Don't forget to visit all of the designers on the "Blook Tour":

 Sat, Oct 13:     Aurifil Threads
 Sun, Oct. 14:   Linda Lum DeBono
 Mon, Oct 15:   Madame Samm
 Tues, Oct 16:   PamKittyMorning
 Wed, Oct 17:  Amy Ellis
 Thur, Oct 18:   Stitch This (Martingale)
 Fri, Oct 19:     Chitter Chatter Designs                    
                        Gigi's Thimble
Sat, Oct 20:      Jacquelynne Steves  (right here, folks!)
Sun, Oct 21:     Henry Glass Fabrics

Now for the part that I know you have been patiently waiting for- You want to know how to win your own copy, right?
To win, comment here on this post and tell me, what color do you find yourself using all of the time in your projects? Are you a blue lover? Passionate for green? Do you think red is a neutral???

Let me know, and make sure that I can contact you if you win! (If there is no email address connected to your blogger account, or if your email address is not included in your comment, I will have to choose another winner. If you would like, you can leave a comment here and then email me with your email address.)

You must comment by midnight EDT on Tuesday October 23, 2012.

Good Luck!

PS The November Newsletter is on its way. If you're not a subscriber yet, you can sign up on the upper right bar of this blog. It's FREE and the upcoming issue will include:

Directions for this wool project which I have almost completed:

And the recipe for this beautiful and delicious autumn dessert, Caramel and Chocolate Covered Pears:

Plus lots more fun stuff! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Easy Fall Decorating: Fancy Pumpkin

Guest blogger Samantha has a handy and inexpensive crafting supply to share with you today. What a modern twist on the ubiquitous pumpkin!

Some of you may already know this, but I'm about to let you into a little decorating secret.  You know what the most valuable you will ever have in your DIY arsenal is? Spray paint. Spray pain helped transform this room and this room, and now it's even helping me throw together some decorations for fall!  I snagged this adorable "spooky pumpkin" from my local produce market and turned it into a rustic yet modern centerpiece for the season!

Here's what you'll need:
pumpkin/ spray paint of your choosing/ painters tape

1. Wipe down your pumpkin with a damp cloth or paper towel.  Then begin taping your design onto your pumpkin.  Think about what kind of design you want to make and how much paint vs. how much pumpkin you want showing.  Make sure you secure all of the paint edges so that no paint gets underneath.

2. Start spraying!  Try to keep the paint can as far away from the pumpkin as you can, so that the spray covers the surface lightly, not coating too thick with drips.

3.  Let dry for an hour or two and then carefully peel off the tape.  Some of the edges of the paint may be loose, so press down on them with your fingers.  Then, put on display!

I love the way this shiny, modern pumpkin looks next to the little pumpkins and the berries!  There are so many ways to decorate your produce for fall; paint polka dots, stripes, or faces!  Let me know what you come up with!

Happy weekend (I know it's only Thursday, but I like to get a jump on my weekends!)

PS Don't forget about Jillily's "Blook Tour" with prizes. Saturday is my turn to act as "hostess" for the tour, so stop by here for a chance to win a copy of Jill's newest book!

Monday, October 15, 2012

National Cookie Month: Pumpkin Bars

Since it's October, we can't get by without at least 1 pumpkin recipe, right? We had a church dinner yesterday, and I brought a plate of these. Moist and gooey- they are particularly delicious when served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side (voice of experience speaking here.)

Pumpkin Bars
Makes about 2 dozen

For the crust/crumble topping-
1 cup chopped nuts
1 stick + 2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup oats

For the pumpkin filling:
1- 15 oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Toast the nuts (do not skip this step- it makes all the difference): Place chopped nuts in a dry non-stick pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until nuts are golden and fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside.

Make the crust/crumble topping:  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking soda, oatmeal and nuts. Gradually add to butter and sugar mixture. Mixture should be crumbly.

Make the filling: Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Place about 2/3 of the crust mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan and press down. Spread pumpkin mixture over crust. Sprinkle with remaining crust mixture; gently press crust mixture down into pumpkin.

Bake about 30-35 minutes until golden and set.
Cool slightly and cut into bars.

Click here for a printable PDF of this recipe.

Don't forget Jill Finley's "Blook Tour" this week! All of the designers below will be giving away a copy of Jill's book, so visit each of them for your chance to win:

 Sat, Oct 13:     Aurifil Threads
 Sun, Oct. 14:   Linda Lum DeBono
 Mon, Oct 15:   Madame Samm
 Tues, Oct 16:   PamKittyMorning
 Wed, Oct 17:  Amy Ellis
 Thur, Oct 18:   Stitch This (Martingale)
 Fri, Oct 19:     Chitter Chatter Designs                    
                        Gigi's Thimble
Sat, Oct 20:      Jacquelynne Steves  (right here, folks!)
Sun, Oct 21:     Henry Glass Fabrics

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jillily Studio's New Book!

Happy Weekend, Everyone! I just wanted to tell you about the "Blook Tour" - a Blog Tour about a Book- happening at Jillily Studios this week. Stop by and take a peek at my friend Jill Finley's newest book, Home Sweet Quilt by Martingale. Every designer will be giving away a copy of the book, and there will also be chances to win additional prizes. Here is the line up of "guests" for the tour:

 Sat, Oct 13:     Aurifil Threads
 Sun, Oct. 14:   Linda Lum DeBono
 Mon, Oct 15:   Madame Samm
 Tues, Oct 16:   PamKittyMorning
 Wed, Oct 17:  Amy Ellis
 Thur, Oct 18:   Stitch This (Martingale)
 Fri, Oct 19:     Chitter Chatter Designs                      
                        Gigi's Thimble
Sat, Oct 20:      Jacquelynne Steves  (right here, folks!)
Sun, Oct 21:     Henry Glass Fabrics

Friday, October 12, 2012

National Cookie Month: Carrot-Spice Oatmeal Cookies with Caramel Glaze

My daughter and Friday Guest Blogger Samantha is getting in on the National Cookie Month action- these look scrumptious....

Holy Mackerel, are these cookies yum.... (wait for it) .... meee.  I made these for a young adults Bible study at our apartment last week, and it was a miracle I was able to save a few for pictures.

When I decided I wanted to make cookies for the group, my first instinct was to make something pumpkin.  But after my pumpkin bread a few weeks ago, I didn't want to keep playing the same tune, so I decided to step out of the autumn-box and make something inspired by another fall dessert: carrot cake.  I used to not be a fan of carrot cake, but I realized that the secret is in the spices.  The more spice in a carrot cake, the better.  And a good dose of icing doesn't hurt either.  And that is the principle I applied to these cookies.

Here's What You'll Need:

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 T honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (I did mine in a food processor)
1/2 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat butter and sugar at high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg, honey, and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add in dry ingredients and mix at low speed until combined.  Add in carrot and spices, tasting as you go to determine the amount of spice you want.  (Generally, my rule of thumb is to add spice until it is just a little bit too spicy; they baking will calm down the spice a little bit.)
3. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 1-inch apart on baking sheets.  Bake for about 6 minutes, turn or switch the position of the pans, and bake for another 6-8 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for about 2 minutes, then let cool completely on racks.  Wait until completely cooled before icing.

Caramel Glaze

1/2 stick butter
2 tbs powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs milk or cream

In a small saucepan, melt butter, stirring continuously.  After the butter melts, continue to stir the butter over the heat until it has turned a caramel-brown color.  (Keep an eye on it; don't let it burn!)  Remove from heat.  Mix in sugar, and stir until lumps are mostly gone.  Add vanilla and milk or cream and continue to stir.  The glaze will have a syrup-like consistency.  Let it cool before adding to the cookies.

How you choose to glaze the cookies is up to you.  You could either drizzle it over the cookies while it is in liquid form or let it harden a little so you can spread it on the cookies, more like icing.

(Makes about 1 1/2 dozen)

Be careful! Having these at home could prove to be dangerous, especially any leftover glaze.  Hubby may have caught me eating it with a spoon a couple of times....

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In The Studio Today...

.....I am sketching, sketching, sketching! The cool cloudy weather over the last few days has put me in the mood to spend all of my time at my drawing table with my pad and pencil and a cup or 2 or 3 of tea. I am having visions of pumpkins, sunflowers, acorns, colorful leaves, crab apples......

While a lot of my work of late would be considered, for lack of a better word, whimsical....

I really enjoy doing art that is more realistic, also. I enjoy scouring seed catalogs and magazine photos of plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, still life's and tableau's.... My method for this type of artwork is to collect a lot of reference photos, and then assemble them into still life's and arrangements of my own on paper. (This is also an excuse to hold onto 10+ years worth of magazines- all neatly arranged in my basement, in what I now refer to as my "reference library". It's also a convenient way to justify and rationalize my addiction to magazines).

An example of what I would consider my "realistic" artwork:
I did this bird painting several years ago, it is available as a note card design on my website.

While many people work with a sketch pad, I most often do not. I get an idea, do some really, really quick and rough thumbnails on computer/printing paper (which barely resemble the finished product, but I know in my mind where I am going with them), and then do the sketch/drawing directly onto my watercolor pad. This  drawing then gets ink and watercolor, and becomes my final rendition.

The cool weather is also, of course, a great time to sit down at the sewing machine (nice segue, huh?). Snoodles at Lilypad quilting has been busy working on some Christmas projects... Hop over to her blog to see what she's been doing with my Oh Holy Night fabric line....

Don't you love the dimension she has given the holly leaves in her project? Fun!

What kinds of creative things are you doing today? Let me know in your comments....


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