Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mason Jar Pincushions

Everyone knows it's all about the tools. You can't sew without straight pins, so we decided to outfit our budding young seamstresses with their own pins and pincushion! Our first project of the 2015 Summer Sewing School (SSS) was to make a Mason jar pincushion.

I found this cute dahlia print fabric at Joann's. It was bright and cheery and I since it had three different colored flowers, I knew one piece of fabric gave us a variety of options. I measured a circle about an inch wider than the jar lid, and began to trace around the flowers which I then cut out. We had thirteen girls signed up for the class, but I cut out about ten of each flower color so they could choose their favorite. As I told you, as soon as I start a project, Possum Kitty shows up. Moral support, I guess!

Next I hot glued the fabric circle to the jar lid, being careful to use the rubber gasket as a guide. Don't go any further in than the orange rubber. You want to have plenty of room to stuff the pincushion. I glued around about three-fourths of the lid and then stopped, allowing myself space to stuff. Using fiberfill, stuff the pincushion as tightly as you can so it will support the pins and needles.

Once it was stuffed, I finished hot-gluing the fabric to the lid. As you glue, use your thumbnail to press the fabric into the glue and the little rim around the edge of the lid so it will hold better. Set it aside and allow it to dry.

I've just joined a Stampin' Up hostess club, and I've been stocking up on supplies. I used my "Label Love" stamp set and my "Artisan Label" punch and made these cute tags so the girls could be sure to keep up with their pincushion.

I went ahead and put straight pins, safety pins and hard candy into each jar and had all the other supplies ready to go before class.  All the girls had to do to finish the pincushion was to hot glue a piece of 1/2" ribbon around the jar ring and then cover the ribbon join with a dot of hot glue and a coordinating button. Then they wrote their name on their tag and attached it with a piece of jute cording. Done!

Pretty cute, huh? We asked the girls to bring their pincushions back to the next class in July so they can use them. If they don't use them before then!

Later this week I'll give you a quick tutorial on the Easy Sew Bookmarks we made. Hope to see you then!


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Sewing School - June 2015

I'm not quite sure why, but for some reason, I have yet to blog about Summer Sewing School. We kicked off our 2015 season last Thursday night, and it was a total success! Nancy Itson and I came up with the idea a while back and this is our third year of what we refer to as SSS (Summer Sewing School). The first year we had four nights of classes. Last year there were three. This year we are just doing two nights, but we are doing multiple projects on each night.

Before I proceed, I have to introduce you to my lovely assistant, Possum Kitty. It never fails. Lay out a project, turn around for one second, and there he is. Ready to "help". I'm not kidding when I tell you I had to move him off my fabric a dozen times while I was putting kits together!

We had a total of 13 girls in attendance, ranging in age from 1st to 6th grade. For many, this was their third year of SSS. Before we started the projects, I took a moment to show them what we'd be doing that night and to review some basics we'd already learned.  

We hold class in the "Fireplace Room" at University church of Christ, where Nancy and I attend. We had arrived early to set up our machines, and I had laid out all the supplies on a table for the girls to see.

Our volunteers set up their machines around the room and were available to help the young ladies with their projects.

Now that Mama is retired, she signed on to help, too.

While some volunteers helped with machine work, other provided valuable services such as helping to sew on buttons and prep ironing for the bookmarks.

I ended up manning the hot glue gun station.

A veteran student has learned so much that she now has her own machine, which she brought to use. A pink Janome, of course!

One of the young ladies displays her work from the evening: two bookmarks and a pincushion jar.

Here we are at the end of the night, with each student proudly holding her creations! We had a ton of fun and are already looking forward to our next class in July.

Check back in over the next couple of days as I share how to make the mason jar pincushions and the easy sew bookmarks.


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blueberry Lemon Upside Down Cake

Today I'm wrapping up Father's Day 2015 - Gone Fishin'.
You can read all about it here.

For dessert, I served something new called
Blueberry Lemon Upside Down Cake.
I mean, how could I possibly go wrong?

Blueberry Lemon Upside Down Cake
one yellow cake mix
two cups mini marshmallows
four cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
zest and juice from one lemon
3 eggs
canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash blueberries and remove any stems. Grease 9x11 casserole dish with butter and add blueberries, spreading them out to an even layer. Sprinkle over 1/2 cup sugar and then the marshmallows.

Prepare yellow cake mix according to directions, adding lemon zest and juice. Reduce water according to how much juice your lemon had. Pour on top of marshmallows and smooth it out.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Wait for 10 minutes and then flip over onto serving dish.
(This is an upside down cake,
so you have to flip it over before the fruit completely cools.
Be sure to have a large, flat serving dish ready.
A cookie sheet would work fine.)

Serve warm.

We made some fresh whipped cream to serve on top. I beat about 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with maybe two tablespoons of white sugar and a dash of vanilla. Be sure not to overbeat it or it becomes butter! (Not that butter wouldn't be divine on top of this cake...) Brack had two servings back to back, plus some cold out of the fridge the next day! 

Well, that's a wrap on Father's Day 2015!
Who knows what'll happen next in Our Neck of the Woods?!


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Friday, June 26, 2015

Broccoli Apple Slaw and Crab Corn Muffins

We honored Gerald and my daddy last Sunday for Father's Day with a luncheon I called - Gone Fishin'. Above is a closeup of the centerpiece and some old reels I used as decoration. The whole tablescape can be seen here.

Yesterday I shared our menu and the recipe for
Garlic Grits Casserole.

Today I'm posting the recipe for the broccoli apple slaw
and the crab corn muffins.

Broccoli Apple Slaw
one package broccoli slaw mix
one granny smith apple, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries and blueberries
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
roasted sunflower seeds
apple cider vinegar
balsamic vinegar
seasoning packet from Oriental style ramen noodles
canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix fruits and vegetables in a large bowl and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon balsamic vinegar. 

Slowly drizzle in about a 1/2 cup of canola oil, whisking well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust amounts as desired. Add enough dressing to coat, but not enough to make it dripping wet. Refrigerate at least an hour to marry flavors.
Toss in sunflower seeds before serving. 

I really liked the combination of tart apple and sweet fruit.
And the broccoli is a nice change from cabbage slaw.

Crab Corn Muffins

The corn muffins were a last minute creation. I added a drained can of flaked crab meat and a half cup of drained yellow corn to a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. It turned out to taste really good, although the flaked crab pretty much melted into the cornbread. Next time I may try a can of lump crab to see if it will stand out a little, but regardless of not being able to pick out the crab meat, they were really good. In fact, there were none left!

Tomorrow we'll wrap up our Father's Day posts with dessert.
Brack would tell you I'm saving the best for last!
Want a hint?
Blueberry Lemon Upside Down Cake.
Yep! So y'all come on back!


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Garlic Grits Casserole


This week I've been sharing the details from our Father's Day lunch last Sunday, which I themed...Gone Fishin'. Above is a little peak at my decorations. You can see the entire tablescape here and learn how to make bookmarks from fishing lures here

Today, I'll show you what we had to eat and share the first of four recipes with you.

As I mentioned, Gerald and my daddy have been doing a lot of fishing lately, so I started with striped bass for the main dish and went from there. Garlic grits, broccoli and apple slaw, and crab corn muffins rounded out the meal. I'll save dessert as a surprise for later!

Cheese grits are a Southern staple alongside fish and shrimp. I usually just throw a handful of sharp cheddar in my grits or make Paula Deen's grits casserole recipe, but I wanted to mix it up a little. I found a recipe in our church cookbook by Lucy Clifton, and I knew it would be delicious. Brother and Sister Clifton are expert cooks and entertainers, and I love all their recipes. (I have adopted Miss Lucy's sour cream poundcake recipe and it has really become my signature dessert.) I was confident in making her grits recipe.

Garlic Grits
1/2 cup quick grits
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 stick oleo*
1 egg
3/4 c milk (about)
1/2 (6 oz) roll garlic cheese**

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook grits in water with salt until thick, stirring often. Melt oleo and cheese over low heat. Beat egg and put in measuring cup; add milk to make one cup. Combine grits, cheese mixture and egg; mix well and pour into 1 quart casserole dish. Bake 35-45 minutes or until center comes out clean. 

*I used real, unsalted butter. I just don't cook with margarine.

**As I was typing this, I realized that I didn't read the recipe right! I just saw 6 oz roll garlic cheese. I believe that it is actually calling for half a six ounce roll. I used an entire 6.5 oz tub. Oops! 

It was delicious, but not as thick as I might have liked.
I think next time,
I'll use the entire tub of garlic cheese, but add an extra egg.

As you melt your butter and garlic cheese, be sure to do it over low heat.
If you get it too hot, it could break.
It should look like the mixture above.
Yum. I could have stopped right here and just eaten it with a spoon...

Because I just can't leave well enough alone,
I added some grated sharp white cheddar to the top.
Enough said.

This was really good and very simple.
I think I'll be making this again.
Another winner. Thanks, Miss Lucy!

Check back tomorrow for the broccoli apple slaw recipe!


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I HEART...A Good Book(mark)

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

On Monday I showed you the tablescape from our Father's Day luncheon. Gone Fishin' was the theme, and as I was making my plans, I came upon a blogpost by Joanna Gaines of HGTV's "Fixer Upper". It was a how-to for making bookmarks out of fishing lures. Perfect!

My version is above.
Each guest received a bookmark wrapped around their coffee mug.

To make the bookmarks, you need fishing lures, barrel swivels and twine. I paid $6 for a package of 5 lures. (I only needed six, but Gerald has assured me he'll find a use for the extras!) The barrel swivels were about $1.25 for a dozen. 

The original craft instructions called for using seed beads, which I have tons of from other projects, but after it took about 10 minutes to get 45 beads on the wire, I decided that the twine would work nicely with my decorations!

All you do is use a pair of sharp pliers to snip off the treble hook and then cut your lengths of twine. I cut about 10" lengths, but you can cut some longer or shorter according to your own needs. Tie the lure to one end and the barrel swivel to the other. Trim your ends, and voila! You're done.

These bookmarks are simple but very pretty!

Every beautiful bookmark needs a good book, and I have one tucked in my copy of Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer, which I recommend. I'm not finished with it yet, but I'm really enjoying it so far. It's a collection of his editorials over the last 15 or so years, and while I don't agree with absolutely everything he says, he really makes me think. And as a result of reading about what he finds important (family, politics, baseball, etc.), I have been re-evaluating what I find important. I've written about him before if you're interested.

The bookmarks were a big hit! They were such a simple and quick craft, but they added a lot to my luncheon. I'll bet the fisherman in your life would love one, too!

Tomorrow I'll start sharing my recipes from Gone Fishin'...Father's Day 2015.


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Monday, June 22, 2015

Gone Fishin'...Father's Day 2015

My daddy just retired. Well, kind of. When he's not at Faulkner these days, you can usually find him on Lake Martin in his new boat that I have suggested that he christen, The Wet Eagle! (Jury's still out on that one.)

For years we have enjoyed eating bream, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass. Now he's fishing for striped bass. Which really isn't a bass at all. It's a saltwater fish that used to make it's way up from the gulf each year before all the dams were built. Now the Alabama Wildlife Department stocks them annually - just 2 per acre, is what I've heard. So there's not a lot of them. And you don't just go sit in a slew under a tree and wait for them to come to you! It's work. But man, is it worth it.

The first time Gerald went with Daddy, he told me it was pretty boring. He didn't catch one. But when he finally did, he was "hooked" immediately! Even Mama has gotten in on the action.

We have enjoyed eating these clean, meaty fish. We've grilled them, sauteed them and even made fish tacos! With all the fish they've been catching lately, I didn't have to think hard to come up with my menu and table decorations for Father's Day. 

Gone Fishin'!

I dug into my stash for all things "fishy" and actually had to buy very little. The off-white tablecloth is one I've had for years. It's actually meant for my smaller kitchen table, but I like the fact that my wood table shows a little at both ends where Gerald and Daddy sit. It's very masculine! I did spend $5 on a piece of blue burlap to place in the center to mimic the feel of water. The placemats came from Dollar Tree years ago. I bought them for a luau-themed Bunco party that I hosted. But I thought they looked a lot like cane fishing poles!

The plates are from a set called "Mosaic Shells" by Oneida. I got these years ago for next to nothing at the Oneida outlet while we were at the beach. The salad plates and mugs have seashells and sand dollars on them, which were a little too beachy for my theme, so I swapped them out for glass dessert plates and mugs. The glass plates were a gift from my daddy's sister. She loves to shop yard sales and had been collecting these over the years. She knew I would put them to good use! They are made by Arcoroc. They go well with my Dollar Tree clear glass coffee mugs! The flatware is "Margate" by Pfaltzgraff, and I had it before we married. I have found it from time to time at Big Lots and on ebay and I have 24 place settings, plus extra dessert forks and teaspoons.

The vintage brown stems were also a wedding gift from my Aunt Dale. They are "Woodland" by Fostoria. When we married, she gave me a number of items from her large collection. It included pickle dishes and cake plates belonging to my grandmother, great aunts and great grandmother. It was such a sweet thing for her to do and it was one of my favorite gifts! Wrapped around the coffee mug is a fishing lure bookmark that I made for each guest. I'll show you later this week how easy they are to make.

My centerpiece was a simple fern in a small galvanized bucket. I get these buckets off the dollar aisle at Target and usually keep them filled with plastic utensils for outdoor parties. Gerald pulled some old reels out of storage and I placed them around the fern.

I found the net at Hobby Lobby for $6 - before my 40% off coupon! The little fishing rods also came from their dollhouse section (30% off $3.50). I had intended to stick them in my fern, but they were just lost in there, so I put them out on the table. The tealight holders came from Walmart a million years ago. I have them in gold (above), white and red. Above is a picture of me and my daddy when I was about four. We were making butter! The simple black frame was just $2 at Walmart. He can display this in his new office.

Gerald got a picture for his office, too. In fact, this is my favorite image of Gerald and the kids. Appropriately enough, they're all smiling above a mess of fish they'd just caught!

Finally, the placecards announced the theme - Gone Fishin'. I found the stamp on sale at Hobby Lobby for around $3 and used craft paper card stock for the placecard. In all, I spent about $20 for the fishing lure bookmarks and the other odds and ends I used for the tablescape. Not bad! And it all goes into my stash to be used again one day.

Over the next few days, I'll share with you how I made the bookmarks as well as the recipes from lunch. I hope you had a wonderful Father's Day and got to celebrate it with the special men in your life!


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Friday, June 19, 2015

Miss Manners Meets Southern Lady

Miss Manners, meet one of my favorite magazines, Southern Lady.
Southern Lady, please meet the sweet girls of Miss Manners!

Miss Manners

I'm just tickled pink to tell you all that Miss Manners is being featured on the Southern Lady blog today! A while back, I introduced you to my dear friend, Melissa Lester. Melissa is an associate editor at Victoria magazine and I got to tour where she works at Hoffman Media last fall when I went to Birmingham for a Girls' Night Out.

Melissa shared the details of Miss Manners with the editors of some of the sister magazines at Hoffman, and the associate editor at Southern Lady, Annalise DeVries, asked to do a special on Miss Manners on their blog! You can read the article here.

I discovered Southern Lady over 15 years ago when I was collecting ideas for my wedding. It was a brand new publication back in 1999, but I could tell even then that it had legs. It is such a beautiful magazine and I am always inspired by what I see in its pages.

You can imagine my delight in having my group featured in their series on etiquette! I hope you'll hop on over and take a look. There's a lot of great inspiration just waited to be discovered!


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles and GNO!

A couple of weeks ago, me, Jewell and my mother drove over to Opelika for a Taste of Home Cooking School. This was Jewell's second time, and my third. Now that Mama is retired, we were able to convince her to go with us.

These cooking schools are a lot of fun! Tickets are only $10 and you get a bag full of goodies, including two Taste of Home magazines, plus a free digital subscription!  The program lasts about two hours. The guest cook demos 10 recipes and they give away scads of door prizes throughout the evening. At the end of the evening, they draw names to take home the food that was cooked that night. They are done until fall, but if you ever have a chance to attend one, I highly recommend it.

The recipe that really made my mouth water was called Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles. I took the recipe and made a few changes. It was super easy, pretty to look at and it tasted incredible! My adapted recipe is below.

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 chicken broth
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
16 oz pkg A Taste of Thai wide cut rice noodles
1 lb ground chicken
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 small crown of broccoli, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced on the bias
chopped peanuts for garnish

Whisk together first seven ingredients and set aside. Cook noodles according to directions. In a large skillet, cook the chicken and carrots over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink, breaking chicken up into crumbles. Drain if needed. Add broccoli and garlic and stir-fry until you smell the garlic. Add peanut butter mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3-5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Toss in the drained noodles. Thin with a little water if sauce is too sticky or thick. Garnish with green onions and chopped peanuts.

Notes - the recipe called for carrots and red bell pepper. Gerald prefers broccoli. It also just calls for multigrain spaghetti noodles, but I had the rice noodles in my pantry. It called for lemon juice but I had limes. I tripled the garlic. (One clove is never enough for me.) I also added the brown sugar. (I like a little bit of sweetness.) If you don't have ground chicken, you could chop up a couple of leftover chicken breasts or you could probably use a rotisserie chicken.

The local Chinese restaurant in Tallassee is owned by a family in our taekwondo studio. They make the best egg drop soup! I always get Gerald to drop by for some on the way home from work whenever I'm making Asian food. Get it? "Drop" by? I got these fun soup bowls and spoons off ebay a long time ago. They add a little authenticity to the meal.

Remember this plate? It was only 99 cents at Big Lots. I last used these during the Orient Express birthday dinner I hosted for my mother. Although they usually drop a couple of fortune cookies in the bag with the soup, I always keep some handy. You can get them at any grocery store on the Asian food aisle. I'm not sure if it's true or not - but I was once told that the proper way to receive a fortune cookie is by passing them around and letting everyone choose their own. Never allow someone to "choose" your fortune for you. While the last person to get a cookie doesn't get to choose their fortune, "fate" makes sure you get what you deserve!

I love the sweet and spicy mix in this dish. I will definitely be making this again soon.


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