Friday, February 17

Texas State Flag Quilt

Click the photo to view larger.  
My daughter Jami and her husband Donnie and the kids moved to Texas for a job in 2009. I hate that they're so far away (I'm in Ohio) and that I don't get to see them much. But we have taken numerous trips to Texas and we think it's a nice state to visit. We've even been to the Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll in Dallas.

I have been making quilts for family members for the last year so decided to make Jami and Donnie one for Christmas gift.

I searched Pinterest for ideas and knew as soon as I saw it that the Texas State Flag would be the perfect quilt for them. And besides, patchwork is my favorite quilt pattern.  I always seem to be drawn to it the most, even before making quilts myself. Of all the quilts I've purchased over the years, I have the most of the Patchwork pattern. It just feels very homey to me and very “usable.”

I used 4-inch squares for this quilt (cut at 4 1/2 " for seam allowance)

I did not have a pattern so to make the quilt I first needed to figure an approximate size. I say approximate because my quilt sizes are never exact. For example: If I strive for a 60 x 90 it may end up as a 64 by 92, depending on the size of the border, the pattern used, the binding, etc.
For the Texas State Flag Quilt, I decided on 80 x 100 quilt, using a patchwork pattern, which is numerous squares sewn together.
Remember, each square has to have an extra ½ inch added for seam allowance, and although some do and some don't, I iron all my seams flat.

Rows laid out to make sure no two squares of the same fabric were touching

I also number the rows so I remember which one to sew together next

I chose many different prints of fabrics for each color and also laid out many rows at a time to make sure there are no matching squares next to each other. And numbering the rows helps a lot. 

What I Did:

Red Section:
I used 150 – 4-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) to make a 40” by 60” section. That's 10 -four-inch squares across and 15 -four-inch squares down.

Cream Section:
I used 150 – 4-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) to make a 40” by 60”section. That's 10 -four-inch squares across and 15 -four-inch squares down.

Rows are sewn together

Blue Section:
The squares for the blue section are 20 – four-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) across and 10 -four-inch squares down, (cut at 4 1/2  inch) leaving a space to add the wonky star.

My scribbles and wonky star designs on paper

Now here's where it gets tricky, making the star.

Wonky Patchwork Star:
The Texas state flag has a star in the center of the Blue section. I decided to make what is called a “Wonky Patchwork Star.“ It was the first time trying it and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

To make the star, I first drew a wonky star on paper, then used it to cut the star out of fabric. The star is cut out of different patterns of fabric stacked on top of each other. You then chose one piece from each fabric of cut out stars and sew them together to make a wonky patchwork star.

Wonky Star cut out of multiple fabrics then patchwork pieced back together

After making the star, (I practiced, making three or four) I added a border. My star ended as a 12 ½ ” by 12 ½ ” square once I added the border.

Wonky Star is sewn together

I then started sewing all the blue squares together, making sure to add the Wonky Patchwork Star in the middle of the blue section.  The Wonky Star replaced 16 of the blue squares. 

Adding the Wonky Star to the blue section

Once all three sections were finished, I sewed them together.

For the backing, you can use one of the fabrics you used in the quilt front so it ties together or use multiple fabrics to make a design. I like my quilt backing to have a design.

Quilt  backing design 

For the top stitching, I take it to a local lady who has a huge longarm machine. I chose a stitching that has stars and what reminds me of barbed wire. Perfect for this Texas State Flag quilt.

Top stitching of stars and "barbed wire" 

The finishing touch was, of course, a quilt label.
For directions on making a quilt label go here: How to Make a Quilt Label

Quilt Label

This is one of my favorite quilts I have completed so far. Truthfully, I say that every time I finish one, but I mean it this time, at least until I make the next one..........

Elizabeth

Finished Texas State Flag Quilt





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Quilt folded and ready to pack to mail to my daughter



Monday, February 13

Best Ever Monster Cookies

I make these cookies for different holidays, so this week, they're for Valentines Day!

Monster Cookies are not new and the recipes for making them are endless. Probably 95% of my cookies are homemade, but sometimes you just need a quick and easy recipe. 
I decided to come up with my own version of Monster Cookies which are easy and great to throw together when we have unexpected visitors or to serve at club meetings or any other last minute function I need to take something to.
For me, there will always be room in my recipe collection for a few super easy and fast recipes for busy days.

They're called Monster Cookies, I believe, because it's easier than saying “peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal M & M super yummy cookies!”

Besides easy, did I mention they're a wonderful tasting soft chewy moist delicious cookie?

Suggestions:
You can add different ingredients like:
nuts, raisins, coconut, chunks of chocolate, cranberries, etc.

Since it is almost Valentines Day I used red, pink and white M & M's.
But I also use other holiday colors of M & M's like green and red for Christmas, 
brown, yellow and orange for fall and 
green for St. Patrick's Day.
There's even pastel M & M's for Easter and Red White and Blue for the 4th of July!

Use different color M & M's depending on the holiday or party theme 

Easy Holiday Monster Cookies

Ingredients:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 to 1½ cups M & M's milk chocolate candies
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Mix the butter, vanilla, and eggs into the cookie mixes

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, stir together the two pouches of cookie mix and the oats.
Mix in the butter, vanilla, and eggs until soft dough forms.
Gently fold in M & M's and nuts.

Gently fold in the nuts and M & M's

On ungreased cookie sheets, place about 1/4 cupfuls dough for large (monster) cookies, about 3 inches apart.
For smaller cookies place about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
If you want you can gently push 2 or 3 M & M's into the top of the dough right before baking. 
Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. The best tip I could ever pass along about cookie making is this: Do Not Over Bake!

Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart


Cool 2 minutes, then remove from cookie sheets onto wax paper.
Cool completely.

Cool on wax or parchment paper


Store in covered container at room temperature for few days (if they even last a few days) or store in the refrigerator. Cookies can also be flash frozen then placed in a container with layers separated by wax paper and kept in the freezer. Thaw before serving. 





Now try not to eat too many!! 
Elizabeth

PRINT RECIPE


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Monday, January 9

The Mercantile

A few years back I received The Pioneer Woman's first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, as a gift for Christmas. 
I love it and have since bought for myself or received as gifts all her other cookbooks!
The Pioneer Woman or Ree Drummond also has her own blog and recently opened a shop called The Mercantile in her hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Ree and her husband Ladd purchased an old red brick building in downtown Pawhuska and she had it completely remodeled.  And the results are stunning. I just love old red brick buildings and am always so happy to see them rescued from demolition.

According to The Pioneer Woman's website, the building was originally a mercantile beginning in 1910 and was known as the Osage Mercantile.
It was a place for trading goods and browsing. Ree and her family wanted to honor that legacy by recreating that shopping experience with hints to an earlier time in small town America.

Monday, December 19

Fran's Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe

Cranberry coated Cheese Ball
We've purchased or made from scratch and tried many different types of cheese balls.  A cheese ball is nothing more than a mixture of cheeses, maybe chopped veggies and a few spices rolled into a ball and served as a dip with crackers.

It's an appetizer that has been in and out of popularity many times but still seems to hang in there.  Even though a cheese ball may be considered sort of retro by some, it's one appetizer you can be sure of.  And there's an entire book devoted to it.  The book, Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi has more than 50 savory and sweet cheese ball recipes!

This cheese ball recipe is our favorite and was created by my sister Frances. It has great flavor and can be easily changed to make many different cheese balls.

My sister Fran is a wonderful cook and I have been lucky enough to acquire a few of her recipes. She even wins numerous first place awards and ribbons (plus second and thirds) every year for her desserts at the Ohio State Fair!
Here are a few ways we have slightly altered this recipe in the past.

Monday, December 12

Cookie Cutter Christmas Ornaments

I make Christmas ornaments every year for my kids and now my grandkids and to give as gifts. It started out as making ornaments only for my kids, but then I started making two or three extra to give as gifts, and that has now grown into a yearly Christmas Ornament Exchange!

For me, it takes lots of planning and looking to find just the right ornament I want to make.
A few I've made in the past are Vintage Paper Ornaments, Vacation or Beach Ornaments with sand and shells from St. Augustine, Florida, a Flag of Ohio ornament and Felt Snowman ornaments.

And last year I created ornaments using vintage cookie cutters.
I was in a beautiful little antique store and gift shop in Grove City, Ohio and found a basket full of cookie cutters for $1.00 each.
I decided to use them to make little vintage – Victorian looking ornaments.
I of course, kept the old cookie cutters I didn't already have and added them to my collection.

Thursday, December 8

Elizabeth's Breakfast Casserole

I created this Breakfast Casserole by changing a recipe I found in an old Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook years and years ago.  The original recipe was for an Impossible Taco Pie or Impossible Seafood Pie, something like that.
And we seem to go back and forth on the name, either calling it a Breakfast Casserole or a Breakfast Quiche.

I usually make this recipe around the Holidays, for Thanksgiving morning and Christmas and New Year's Day. It's easy to make, a breeze to serve and clean up and it can be made for a few guests or a house full.

Sunday, November 27

Grandma Coy's Caramel Chocolate Bars

This recipe came from my mother-in-law Coy. She cut it out of a magazine years and years ago and had been making them for holidays and her grandkids ever since. My son Daniel especially loved these delicious cookies and Coy always made sure to bring him a special container of his own.

Sadly, Coy recently passed away, so I wanted to share her cookie legacy and recipe.

An easier version of this recipe uses a 12-ounce jar of caramel ice cream topping mixed with flour in place of the 42 caramels, but I haven't tried it yet.
I for one like an easier version of a recipe as long as it doesn't compromise the taste.

Friday, November 18

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

I had a request to do a blog post on this cheesecake (yea, it's that good). 

I found the original recipe for this decadent cheesecake in a Paula Dean Cookbook , but for time and convenience sake, I made a few small changes to make it a little easier.
For one, I use a pre-made graham cracker crust and I use a bottled caramel sauce. I also add a little vanilla.  We love our Homemade Vanilla.
And I'm sure using real caramels would taste better but I usually just don't have the time to spend an hour melting them!
But even with the changes, this has become one of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving! Everyone just loves it and there's usually none left over.

Thursday, November 3

Maple Leaf Quilt Block

I'm in the middle of sewing a Farm Quilt, using patterns from Lori Holt's quilt book, Farm Girl Vintage.  I'm making the quilt blocks that relate to my own little farm, like a bee, black cat, chicken, strawberry, pumpkin, tractor, etc.

I have multiple sugar maple trees and in late winter I tap those trees to make real maple syrup. So, of course, I want a maple leaf block in my Farm Quilt.

There are many patterns out there to make a maple leaf  and I almost used the one from Farm Girl Vintage.  By the way, I love Lori Holt's books!!
But although her maple leaf is super cute and really easy to make, it's missing the top part of the maple leaf. Here is the scrappy leaf by Lori Holt (Bee in my Bonnet).

Monday, October 24

DIY Costume Awards

We have a fall / Halloween party every year and many people come in costume although it's not mandatory.
Our Halloween parties started when the kids were little but it has now evolved into a mostly adult party, although kids are encouraged and welcomed to come and I always have kiddy food, drinks, and treats.

When my kids were little I would give out prizes for top voted costumes but we haven't had a costume contest in years.
My daughter Alexis asked me to revive the tradition. So this year we had a costume contest, complete with voting jars for each category, and slips of paper and ink pens for everyone to pick their favorites.

We also decided that if you win an award in one category, you could not win in another.  That rule just allows more people to take home an award, but feel free to make up your own rules.