Thursday, December 20, 2012

"The Not So Excellent Adventure"/Wildfire!

Screaming Tree
That's how I felt yesterday, like screaming!!!
As Mrs. Threadgood would say,
"you just sit back awhile honey and I'll tell you the story".
(Reference from the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes).
The great-grand baby was here, we're minding our own business.
I was sewing, (making her a taggie), she was in the playpen, taking the clothes off my vintage dolls.
Typical babysitting day.
Little did I know of the goings on outside of my little bubble.
The youngest daughter, (Ginger) calls from work.
(All dramatic like).
I'm confused, why wouldn't I be ok?
She goes on.....
"There's wild fires out by you"!
(This child always knows stuff before anyone else).
I didn't hear any sirens, but, the dogs were acting strange.
I go to look out the front door window, yep, I see fire trucks,
I go to the back door window, yep, I see fire trucks.
Yep, the fields just to the side of me are on fire.
Oh crap!
I call my neighbor, her house is in a direct line of that fire.
She's outside watching, assures me that the fire people have it under control.
I'm thinking, and you couldn't have called me???
I'm here with three dogs and a baby... With no vehicle.
The winds were gusting up to 35 mph, not a good day for a fire.
(The wind was blowing away from my house thank goodness).
She, the daughter, has my truck, she's 30 miles away.
She's on her way to get us out.
I'm putting the computer, camera and related gear into the briefcase,
packing up the diaper bag, looking for dog leashes, grabbing the bug out bags,
piling everything at the front door, buckling the baby into her carseat....
I'm in my jammies....
That done....
While I'm waiting for my ride, I'm looking out the front door window.
I can see the road, lots of vehicles exiting out of the area.
Then I see/hear a helicopter. It's circling the fire area.
All very exciting, if you're not in the mix....
She, the daughter, gets here, grabs the baby,
buckles her into the front seat of the truck.
Starts grabbing all the bags.
I'm holding two dogs on leashes who are acting all crazy.
The german shepherd is hiding in the shower.
Once caught, the german shepherd has to be lifted into the truck,
all 85# of her!
She's not wanting to get in,
probably because, the only time she goes for a ride, it's to the vet!
The other two hop right in. Good thing my truck has a back seat.
We bug out.
I'm still in my jammies.... Covered in dog hair.
We take the baby to the other G.G.
Spent the rest of the afternoon at the daughter's house watching a movie,
 hoping the wind wouldn't change directions.
The dogs and I picked up the hubby from work.
I call the neighbor and inquire as to the state of things.
No houses burned, just the field.
The daughter calls me today with a story.
Seems there was a body found, something to do with a meth lab!
(NO spell check, I did not mean math lab).
This child always knows stuff before anyone else.
I'm sure she'll have all the details before the day's end.
I hope you' all are safe.
I think I'll go sew something.
Till next time,
Screaming tree

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jalapeno, Paprika, Sea Salt, White Chocolate Candy Recipe

Jalaoeno white chocolate candy
We're making candy for Christmas....
We did the normal menu of flavors and threw in a few oddballs too.
Chocolate covered cherries/peanut butter cups
Pretzel letters/jalapeno white chocolate
Red hots
Melting chocolate/crushed candy canes
I use my electric skillet as a double boiler, (just add water to the skillet, and pop in your jars). I put the chocolate in wide mouth mason jars and got started. (When I have chocolate left over I just cool, cap and it's ready for the next candy making session. No muss, no fuss, plus this way I'm more apt to make candy at non-holiday times)!
The jalapeno thing just hit me, sounded good so I went with it.
If you're adventurous here's the recipe.
4 or 5 finely diced jalapenos, depending on size, mine were BIG
½ block or so of roughly chopped white almond bark
a Tsp. or 2 of vegetable shortening
Sea salt
Baking sheet
Parchment or wax paper
Put some water in your electric skillet and turn her on.
Roughly chop up the almond bark,  put it in the mason jar and set the jar into the simmering water to melt.
Wash the jalapenos and drain well.
Remove the stem end from the jalapenos, slice, and then finely dice. I didn't de-vein or seed mine. I wanted all the fiery goodness! Set aside.
Check on the consistently of the white chocolate, I wanted a wafer type candy so I added veggie shortening to thin it out.
Once you have the white chocolate to your desired consistently, spoon rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle/spoon on the jalapenos, a little paprika and sea salt.
Set in the freezer or fridge to chill.
Once set, place in plastic bags to give as gifts/ or eat them all yourself.
Continue on, making as many or as few as you desire.
I wasn't sure how these would turn out,
me being me, I had to try.
They are super yummy!!!!!
The flavors work very well together, they're not overwhelming hot, I would say rather medium-mild.
The addition of the paprika and sea salt brought the whole recipe together.
If you decide to give these a try, please let me know what you think.
Till next time, happy cooking,

Here's the link to the peanut butter cup recipe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Baby Blanket Tutorial/What I've Been Sewing

Handmade baby blanket, bibs and burp cloths
The Great-grand-baby's 1st birthday is coming up,
so I decided to make her a few cute, but useful gift items.
The weather is turning cold here in Texas,
and when I saw this cute fleece at the fabric store,
my mind went to baby blanket.
I bought 1 ½ yards of it, plus some quilting cotton for a ruffle.
The bibs were made out of fat quarters.
The thought was,
the blanket could be used length-wise in the crib as a normal blanket,
or, used width-wise to put over the baby seat/carrier.
It was quite easy to make, and,
if you would like to make your own, here are the specs.
Keep in mind....
It is near impossible to get a decent photo in this house,
the fleece fabric is a pink, brown, blue, yellow and white paisley/floral print, and the quilting cotton is a brown background with pink flowers.
I did my best!
1 ½ yards - 45 wide lightweight fleece/main body
1 ½ yards - 45 wide quilting cotton/ruffle
thread, scissors, cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler, sewing machine, ETC.
1. Using the cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler, square up/trim the raw edges of the fleece.
Trim off the printing on the selvages.
2. Cut 5 - 8" strips of the quilting cotton, selvage to selvage.
Trim off the printing on the selvages.
You will have about 14" of the quilting cotton left over, set aside.
3. Using a small plate as a template, trace a curve in each of the four corners of the fleece. Cut on traced lines.
4. On the fleece, cut down the length-wise fold line so you have 2 pieces. Using a ¼" seam, with a normal stitch length, stay stitch each piece separately, around the edges. Set aside.
Rounding corners/cut strips
5. With a ¼"  seam, using a normal stitch length, with right sides together, sew 2 of your quilting cotton strips together ( on the 8" side). Continue adding the strips until you have them all attached to each other. You will have a long circle.
Joining strips
6. Press the seams to one side. Now, fold your joined strips, wrong sides together, making the width 4". Press.
7. Using the longest stitch length, baste ¼" from the raw edge.
(This will be your gathering threads to form the ruffle).
Since this is such a long piece, I chose to break up the gathering threads into 5 sections, starting and stopping between the seamed pieces..
Just be sure to leave yourself enough tail ends.
8. Lay out your ruffle piece around one of the fleece pieces and start gathering.
Make sure you leave extra fabric at the corners so it lays right, I
didn't leave enough, and the ruffle wants to curve inward and not lay flat! Lesson learned...
Basting the soon to be ruffle/fitting to the blanket front
9. Once you have the ruffle gathered, with right sides together,
start pinning the raw edges of the fleece and ruffle together. (The finished side of the ruffle will be facing the inside/center of the fleece). Use lots of pins!!!!
10. Once you have the ruffle pinned in place, take it to your sewing machine and sew ¼" from the raw edge, using a normal stitch length. Take out the pins as you go, you don't want to run over them.
11. Now lay the other piece of fleece on top of the ruffled piece, right sides together, with the ruffle to the inside, and pin in place.
12. At your sewing machine, in a ½" seam, using a normal stitch length, stitch the front and back pieces together, leaving 3" or so un-sewn on one long edge for turning. Again.... Take out the pins as you go.
13. Trim the raw edges, except where you left it open for turning. I like to leave that section alone as it leaves you more fabric for turning under later. 
Give the blanket a few stiff shakes to get rid of any stray threads and turn right side out.
Fitting front to back/ turned right side out
14. At your ironing board, turn under that 3" raw edge and press.
Press the whole top, pulling the ruffle away from the fleece to get a good flat edge.
15. At your sewing machine, using a normal stitch length, topstitch, on the fleece, ¼" away from where the fleece and ruffle meet. This will close the 3" opening and give you a crisp, clean edge.
Clip away any stray threads, give it few stiff shakes and you're done!
16. Use that leftover, 14" piece of quilting cotton to make a bib or two, or to run down the center of some diapers to make burp cloths.
Well there you have it, easy birthday present for baby.
If your in a colder climate you might think about adding some quilt batting also.
I hope this tutorial is helpful and if you have any questions/directions weren't clear, let me know, I'll be glad to help. 
Till next time, happy sewing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making Homemade Sausage With Free Recipe

Meat Grinder
The Hubby, Nathan and I  were at Gander MTN recently looking at "stuff"
when I spotted this meat grinder.
Hubby wanted one last year and I said NO, they're too expensive!
I had been looking online and they were about $200.00.
I don't think so.
Imagine my suprise when I ran across this similar model on sale for 129.99
regular price $199.99.
It has three sizes of grinding options, and, I think,
three sizes of sausage stuffing thingies.
Still being unemployed, I had to think about it,
even on sale it was still quite a chunk of change.
But, God has been good to me thus far so I took a leap of faith
and bought it for him.
(Early and only Christmas present).
Tuesday we had an opportunity to test drive it, so to speak.
The thought was, can we make breakfast sausage, chorizo, andouille etc
cheaper than we can purchase it at the market?
Lets start small with breakfast sausage currently @ $3.00 pre pound.
We mixed rough chopped, raw chicken,  pork bacon, (ends and pieces) with onions and apples.

Grinding Apples And Onions

After we ground up the apples I drained/pressed them in a colander, then
 bottled, to make juice for the great- grandbaby.
I drained the onions the same way for future use in soups/stews etc.

Chicken, pre cut up and ground bacon, ends and pieces
While hubby was coarse grinding the pork I skinned and de-boned the chickens.

Adding spices and testing for flavor

Second grinding
 After we taste-tested (yummo) we ground it a second time with a smaller bit?
(Not sure what the correct terminology is for the grinding thingies).
The packaging was pretty straightforward.
I anchored the plastic baggies in this coffee can
so hubby could fill said baggies without me having to hold them..
I was else wise occupied with rolling, pressing out the air,
freezer paper wrapping and labeling.
(When you're working with raw meat it has to be very cold,
and you need to work very fast).
2 chickens, @  .88 per # = $9.68 (about 11#)
1- 3# package bacon, ends and pieces @ $5.97
(Took out about 4 oz for beans, so lets subtract .4975).
2 medium onions, @ . 49 # =  .49
½# red apples, @  .98 per # =  .49
(put a little lemon juice on apples to prevent browning).
Sage, ¼ cup @ $1.14
Salt, 1 tbsp. Cost?
Pepper, 1 tbsp. Cost?
hot pepper flakes, 1 tbsp. Cost?
Sugar,  ¼ cup @ $1.79 for 4 # =  .0497222
$17.3322222 for 8# finished product.
(Not counting the stock I got from simmering the chicken bones,
 the apple juice for baby and the onion juice for soup/stews)
Total for finished sausage product, more or less? 

$2.1652777 per #
This is not counting the price for packaging, time, electricity, water etc..
Would I do it again?
The final product cooked up lean and very tasty, not too much
of any one flavor being predominent.

I do have a turkey in the freezer......
Give it a try.
Have fun and enjoy.
Till next time,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Dog Night

high for the day, 45°.

It's definitely a three dog night, good thing I have "three"!
I woke up around 3:30  this morning to the sound of the howling wind.
It's not too cold in the house, thank goodness,
 and the heater has only clicked on once.
I think I'll bake the ham that I bought yesterday, 
just to help keep the house warm.
It was a total score @ $1.27 per pound.
Things have been a little hectic around here, we just finished
our last show for the season and now I'm filling the last minute
soap orders from my website.

I've also been doing quite a bit of sewing,
adult and kid aprons, baby bibs, burp cloths, dolls, anything and everything
that I can think of that might generate income.
I sold several aprons at the last show,

Handmade Aprons
 and the dolls are doing well also.
Handmade Rag Doll
The baby items are a new endeavor for me,
inspired by my great-grand-daughter.

Baby Girl
This little pumpkin and I have been spending
some time together, (read babysitting),
and I do believe God has truly blessed me.
Just look at that sweet smile, kinda looks like the one on the doll!

Well, It's taken me awhile to even get this post published,
many error messages, having to sign off and then back on... several times,

Time to put in that ham.

Till next time,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mini, Christmas Stocking Gift Bags And Tutorial

We had a great day at the festival on Saturday which means I've been busy
making more products for our show this weekend.
I sold a few aprons, lots of soap and related bath products
and all but four of my cuff bracelets.
Needless to say, I'm a happy camper.
I put a lot of time and effort into the things I create so it
feels wonderful when a customer likes my handmade items.

Yesterday, in between canning and cooking
I found time to do some sewing.

These are little Christmas stockings that I market
as gift bags, big enough to accommodate a soap bar or two,
bath oil, body butter ETC.
They're a unique alternative to the standard gift bag.

I free-handed the pattern, pinned it to my fabric,
cut it out and got to work.
I do these in an assembly line fashion, grouping
like colors together to minimize thread change outs.
If you would like to make some of these for gift giving
here are the directions.

2 - 9 ¾” length x 8 ½” width pieces of fabric
2 - 6” wide x 5” long contrast for cuff
1 - 11” x 1” grosgrain ribbon for handle

My finished stocking measures more or less, 8 ¾” long x 7 ½” wide at the bottom and 5 ¼” wide at the top.
I drew the pattern freehand so yours might vary.
All seams are ¼”

Draw your patterns, one for the stocking, one for the cuff. Pin pattern to fabric and cut.
The top width of my stocking is 6” so I cut my cuff 6” wide x 5” long.


1. With right sides together, pin and sew each cuff to top edge of stocking front and  back.

2. Press seam towards cuff.

Attach cuff to stocking.
(If you’re going to embellish the stocking with ribbon, buttons ETC, do it now).

Sew on ribbons, buttons, beads ETC.
3. Press under ¼” on the cuff top edge. (It’s easier to create your hem line at this point).

4.Open out the pressed hem line and with right sides together, pin and stitch stocking front and cuff to stocking back and cuff  (I zigzagged the seam also).

5. Clip seams almost to stitching line at curves.

6. Fold cuff in half towards the seam where you joined it to the stocking body

Attach handle.
7. Position your ribbon in the center of the cuff sandwich, with the raw edge
overlapping the seam about ½ ”.

8. Pin in place.

9. Fold the stocking toe towards the top, out of the way, bring the other ribbon end down and over the bottom and up to meet the other end of the stocking cuff sandwich .

10. Pin in place like you did with the other end of the ribbon.

11. Pin the rest of the pressed cuff edge over the seam.

12. Turn the stocking right side out and stitch the hem in place. (It was easier to sew this way).
At this point it looks like you attached the ribbon upside down, you didn’t.

13. Turn stocking right side out and fold the cuff down which makes the handle on top.

14. Press.

Handle at the top.

More stockings

As to the canning.....

My Hubby does not like me to blog about our food!
My grandson Brian came over to help/learn to pressure can food.

He learned the basics of canning meat and stock/ broth
and helped/ learned how to make a chicken pot pie from scratch.
I sent him home with the pie and a few other goodies.
(I forgot to photo the pie).

Don't tell the Hubby!
I'm off to do more sewing,
till next time, teach the kids some skills.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Unique Apron Design And Tutorial

Thanks Sue:-)


Yes, I'm still making aprons but I'm getting bored
with the same - o, same - o!

In the box of way cool stuff that Sue sent me a few months back
was this curtain valance.

It was intact when I received it,
forgot to photo before the seam ripper attacked it.
It had a ecru lining and the ties were attached in the top hem.

Looked like the start of an apron to me.
I had some fat quarters that coordinated so I got to work.

The idea for this apron stemmed from a previous apron that
I miscalculated the width on.
Live and learn, AKA improvize!

The idea is to sew two different fabrics together making a tube, but rotate
the tube so the seams are shifted about 6".
So now you have part of the back showing on the front and
part of the front showing on the back.
I chose to put trouser pockets in the seams
as not to have any patch pockets distracting
from the vertical lines.

Directions are for this apron,
both are made the same, only I varied the rotation amount and
I didn't add a contrasting bottom strip to the first one,
 and the photos are a combo of both projects.

Cut one each - Apron front/back 21” (side to side) x 17 ½” (waist to hem) (2 different fabrics).
Cut two - (1 for waistband 1 for trim at the bottom). (side to side) 21 ½ ” x 5” deep
Cut 4 trouser pockets from waistband fabric.
Grosgrain ribbon

 With right sides together pin each of the four pockets to the apron front and back at the side seams, about 1 ½” to 2 ½" down from the top of waist.

 Sew pockets to apron front and back on each of the sides in a ¼” seam.

 Press seam toward pocket, pressing pocket out.

If you're going to add any trims, ribbons ETC., do it now!

With right sides together pin apron front and pockets to apron back and pockets at side seams, having raw edges even.

Sew apron front to apron back, (starting at the bottom) in a ½” seam. When you reach the pocket, continue sewing up the side seam about 3 ½” past the pocket. Stop, and with the needle in the fabric turn the apron around and sew back over first stitching stopping ½” from the pocket edge. Pivot and continue around pocket, pivoting again ½” from the pocket top edge. Sew straight across pocket top edge and pivot ½” again to continue finishing the side seam. With the needle still in the fabric, turn the apron around and sew back down the side seam over the first stitching 1 ½” past the pocket, spin around again and work yourself back to the top.

This is where it gets interesting.

You have the front and back sewn together at the side seams, with trouser pockets in either side

Rotate the front at the side seam towards the back 6”, which moves the back 6” to the front, and therefore moves the front 6” to the back. Now your pocket is moved in 6” which gives you 1 pocket 6” in from each side.
Depending on which way you rotate you can place the pocket for either a leftie or a rightie.

Once you have the rotation correct, press the sides to create new “side seams“.

Press original side seams towards the way you want the pocket to lay.

Since I chose to drop the pocket down from the waist area 1 ½’ to 2 ½ ”, 
it kind of left the pocket top hanging in the breeze so to speak.
Typically, trouser pocket tops are encased/anchored within the waistband.
I just didn’t want them up that high.

My solution was to sew a button to the outside of the apron, through the pocket top to act as an anchor on each side of the apron. I used embrodiery floss for my thread.

Now, we have the top and bottom still open.

I chose to add a solid color waistband, and trim the bottom in the same.

Baste the front to the back at the top and bottom edges in a ¼“ seam.

Center the waistband to the top and stitch in a ½” seam.

(Remember we cut the waistband and trim ½” longer that the apron width).
Do the same for the bottom.

Press in the ¼” on each side of the waistband and trim sections, to the wrong side of the waistband and trim sections. Now press up ¼” on the lengthwise of the waistband and trim sections to the wrong side.

Fold this pressed edge over the waistband to cover the basting and pin. Stitch in place.

Do the same with the bottom edge.

Now we need to add the ties for the waist.

We left the sides open at the waistband, and bottom trim. Here we insert the ribbon ties.

Measure the opening at the waistband, mine was 2” so I used a 1 ½” wide grosgrain ribbon.
Length depends on how you tie, I like the ribbon to cross in back and tie in front, you decide.

Insert the ribbon into the waistband opening about 2”, align the ribbon to the waistband top edge and pin in place.

Starting at one top edge, topstitch a scant ¼” from the apron edge down the side, across the bottom and back up the other side. I triple stitched over the whole width/depth of the ribbon, at the waistband .
Finish off the ends of the ribbon by folding it twice to the inside and stitching the end down.

Viola, you now have a cool, unique apron.
I hope you like it.
 Till next time,

This is my design, for personal use only,
please do not reproduce or copy for commercial purposes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Woman's Best Friend And Protector!

Found Fluffy
I admit it, I’m not really into pets.
I think it dates back to my childhood.
I’ve had several pets in my lifetime, dogs, cats. birds, rabbits …
Pet equals, eventual death of pet.
Why put yourself in the mix, risk heartache?

At present we have three dogs, all rescue of some sort or another.
Fluffy is the latest in the mix, wandered up on New Years Eve of last year.
Cutest little Australian Sheppard ever,
who would leave this pup to fend for herself ?

Abandoned dog!
Now, Fluffy is laying in the floor wondering,
“why do I feel like crap, why was I left at an unknown place
all day without my buddies, why can’t I have food or water“?

Because Fluffy….
We had to get you “fixed”.
I’m sorry!

I realize these dogs would lay down their lives for me.
They position themselves in a triangle around me, wherever I am,
covering any angle just in case…..
And poor little Fluffy, in her less than perfect condition,
is in the mix, protecting me.

How cool is that?

My newest best friend at my feet!
Till next time, realize!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hubby Inturiptus

Farmer's Market New Potatoes
Recently I was trolling sewing blogs and ran across one
that caught my eye.
A sewer, a crafter, a thrifter, a soaper,
 and the icing on the cake? In my area.
What more could you ask for?
We have similar interests, why not ask to meet?

I know what you're thinking because my husband said it out loud.
You don't know this person!
She doesn't know me either!
So I sent her an email, no pressure, yes answer, ok, no answer, ok.
I picked a neutral location, public, for both of our ease of mind.
I chose The Dallas Farmer's Market.
She was good with the meet-up.

Tagged along,


Hubby wanders off and I meet up with Meka.
 She is the cutest, nicest person and
we're getting to know each other a bit, talking sewing, soaping,
you know, stuff.

Only thing is.....

Hubby keeps calling me with questions.
Is this a good price on potatoes?
Is this a good price on tomatoes?
Is this a good price on strawberries?
Yada, yada, yada...

I'm looking to get to know this person,
maybe have a buddy to thrift with,
talk sewing with, maybe have a Canton buddy.....
I was, well, you can guess how I felt!
Like, embarrassed!

I think maybe Hubby is a little.....

I think next time I'll tell him...

Going to get fuel, be back in a few!

On another note...
I got a pic of the cutwork curtain panel/apron on me.
Here she be!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Have a great evening.
Till next time,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cutwork Curtain Panel Up-cycle/Re-cycle Apron

Wanna-be apron


I found this cutwork curtain panel, plus it's two side mates
 at my local thrifty shop for .75 each.
I just had to have them even though I didn't need them!
I take that back, I did need them!
I sold the shawl that was the curtain for my bathroom window.
I just didn't need all three of them.

I used the two side panels on the bathroom window
and decided to make an apron from the center panel.

This is how it started out.
First I took out the hem/rod pocket stitching at the top.

Then, I thought to self....

A white apron just seems wrong.
So I got out my dyes.
Finally decided on red, but I wanted a vintage feel to it.
Maybe only use a small amount of the dye to a large amount of water?
I was hoping for a kind of washed red.
Well, it worked, I used about a third of the dye to a large dishpan of water.
 it took a lot of rinsing to finally get the water to run clear.
(Big water waster).

I cut off the excess fabric on either side of the panel,
(saving the excess for who knows what)
and searched my fabric stash for a suitable pocket material.
I found a small piece left over from the skirt/purse refashion
that added to the vintage vibe I was going for.

I added a piece of off white lace,
light pink ribbon and little fabric roses,
horizontally across the apron front and the pocket.
The lace and ribbon across the apron front concealed
the hem/rod pocket stitching lines.

I decided to line it with an off white piece of lace
that I attached to the sides and the top,
using french seams. I left the bottom  un-sewn.

I folded the lining at the top of the apron,
 to the front side 1 ½”,
 and sewed it down, creating a waistband.

The ties are a 1 ½” off white, grosgrain ribbon
that I attached to each side of the waist.

Wish I had someone to take my pic wearing it!

I found a pillowcase to grocery tote tutorial that I plan on trying tomorrow.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Till next time,
happy sewing!