Monday, July 13, 2009

Back to School Time


Picture from Organized Home

Call me crazy, but I started and completed the boys' back to school supply shopping on Sunday. Why? Are you Crazy? To be quite honest, YES! We are going on vacation in August the week before school starts. We arrive home on Sunday, meet the teacher on Monday and start school on Tuesday. I won't have time once August arrives to get that oh so necessary supply shopping done.

At the end of the year, the school sent home a flier for a Supply Kit. Hmmm, I almost bought it for the nice little price of $34.00 (which included shipping and handling) and that only would have been for M. Then I thought about it, I can do better than that, I have to buy supplies for 2 this year.

I knew on Friday I would be doing my shopping on Sunday. I received my email ad from Staples with penny deals. I wrote out a combined list for both boys, checked my current supplies, then checked the other sales ads and got ready to go. My first stop was Target. They had colored pencils for $.50 a box, I needed 1 but bought 2 the second is a backup for later in the year. They also had pencils boxes for $.50, picked up 2 as that is what I needed. Next on the list was backpacks. I got a great deal, I picked up two $9 backpacks and received for free 2 $9.99 lunch bags. I picked up a few other things that were not school related but vacation related and checked out.

I headed over to Staples, 3 pink erasers $1, a pkg of 8 pencils a penny with a limit of 2, scissors 2 pairs for $1, highlighters 6 per pkg $1 limit of 2, binders $.99 and then they had reams of copy paper buy them for $3.69 get a $3.68 rebate (makes them a penny each) with a limit of 2 and lastly a 60 pack of 4x6 photo paper for $8.99 with a $7.99 rebate (making it $1.00). They also had a coupon if you spend $20 you get $5 off. My total at Staples was $26.90 and I will be receiving $16.35 in rebates. Not to bad.

Next stop the dreaded Wal-Mart, but I finished up my shopping there and spent $17.56.

All being said, with 2 backpacks and all of their supplies I spent $46.90, which means I spent $28.90 on supplies for 2 kids and have lots of extras, versus spending $34 on one kid and still having to go out and go shopping. And we have enough supplies to get us started for the school year and we will have extras for later in the year. Will I hit the stores after school starts for their clearance deals? Of course, because extra supplies make great teacher gifts or stocking stuffers or friend gifts for upcoming birthday parties we will be having.

Up next I will be seeking some clothes deals. But I've decided they only need a few outfits each to start the school year. We're good on clothes as well!!!

Have you started your back to school shopping?

Friday, July 10, 2009


I haven't started anything new, I've been working on some old projects this week.

How's it going? Quite well...

1. John Deere Cushions for Lara - DONE - Sunday, July 5. Needs to be delivered the next time I make a trip home.

Lara cushions

2. Pinwheel Baby Quilt for my newest niece - quilt top almost done, working on prairie points.

Camille Quilt

3. Ragged Squares Quilt x 2 - my mom asked me to make for someone that she works with, one for the new baby girl due any day and one for her big sister. Both need to be sandwiched, quilted and binded. This is Lucie's.

Lucie Ragged Squares

4. Black and White Sox Quilt - this one is for my husband and his love of the White Sox. I started it in July and at the beginning of the week only had 5 sets of 4 blocks done. There are a total of 12 sets of 4 blocks. Making the quilt have 48 blocks. Here's the layout....

Sox Layout 2

and a somewhate closeup of the 12 different fabrics.

Sox Layout 3

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures, it's cloudy and rainy here on the day the pictures were taken.

It doesn't look like much, but I feel good about getting a bit of work completed this week. There are still some WIP that I need to pull out and work on, but I think working on 3 projects at a time, a little bit each day is enough for me to handle. With a little persistence, I should have at least 3 of these done by next week!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Independence Day

Fourth Cookies

We attended a party on the 4th of July, I had not been feeling well for a few days and needed something quick to take with us. Not that these were quick, but they were fun and I made them festive. My original plans were to make all white sugar cookies and use blue and red sprinkles on them. I didn't have any blue sprinkles and neither did the grocery store (and I wasn't about to run all over town looking for some). I ended up having a lightbulb moment and thought, why couldn't I tint the cookies. So that's what I did, rolled them in sugar and baked!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stacked Coins Quilt

My neighbor had a baby boy in May. A few of our other neighbors threw an impromptu baby shower for her, I had 2 days notice. I went, without a gift, BUT told her that I would like to make her a quilt. And here it is.

Nathans Neptune Coin Stacks

A glimpse of the back, with it's tag.

Nathans Neptune Coin Stacks 2

All folded up....

Nathans Neptune Coin Stacks 3

ready to be delivered....

Nathans Neptune Coin Stacks 4

I used 2 charm packs of Moda Neptune and unbleached muslin. For the back, I had a leftover piece of pre-quilted fabric from a bedspread another neighbor wanted me to make and I followed the quilted lines for my quilt.

The pattern used can be found at Moda Bake Shop. The pattern is Stacked Coins Baby Quilt.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three by Three Swap - June Blocks

Completed, packaged and mailed off Wednesday!!!

Three by Three Swap YellowBlue

Three by Three Swap BlueYellow

Three by Three Swap WhiteStrip

Three by Three Swap StripWhite

Three by Three Swap StripPink

Three by Three Swap PinkStrip

Three by Three Swap PinkGreen

Three by Three Swap GreenPink

Sorry, my photo taking skills need improvement as well as my phot editing skills.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friday Baking with NotQuiteJuneCleaver

I was reading about NotQuiteJuneCleaver's Friday Baking and decided on Monday I was going to make the recipes. Shannon was going to a White Sox game and well, it was just me and the boys. We headed to the store to grab a few missing ingredients (3 to be exact) and came home to get started.

You can find the recipes here. First up, Quiche Susan. I have made Quiche once, did not bake it long enough and the middle was not quite done and well, it was gross. This one however, was AWESOME! The boys helped themselves to seconds.

I used 1 cup orange cauliflower, 1 cup broccoli and 1 cup mushrooms (these were all in the refrigerator). Sauteed them in olive oil and butter, until they were crisp tender.

Quiche Susan Veggies

I used a store bought deep dish pie crust (I didn't have time to make one as when I decided to start it was already 4:30 and we had to run to the store for those missing ingredients).

I used a mix of mozzarella, monterey, colby and parmesan for my cheeses. How yummy does this look right out of the oven????

Quiche Susan Oven

And let me just say (and the boys agreed) this tastes even better than it looks. We'll be making this recipe again with different veggies, whatever we have on hand.

Quiche Susan Cut

Next up was the Mixed Berry Cobbler. In the freezer, I had a bag of Mixed berries that included blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The bag contained 3 cups. Hmm, what to do since strawberries were not recommended and I have lots of those in the freezer, I had some rhubarb. Well, that should work. I followed the rest of the directions and well, it was pretty good.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

I forgot to snap a photo of it with the ice cream on top. It was really good and the kids have enjoyed it warmed with ice cream the last few days. I did get my strawberries into the cobbler through my ice cream, I used Strawberry Supreme Frozen Yogurt by Schwan's. It was oh so very good!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tea Towel and Potholder Swap

As I talked about here, I participated in a Swap over at down---to---earth. The items were to be postmarked by April 26, 2009. My swap partner was on holiday and not able to get a package ready to send to me, so I was waiting to hear back from her. I posted my package to her today. We are already getting busy with summer activities and I didn't want to sit on it any longer, better she has it and is able to use it.

Here is what I sent to her:

2 potholders

Swap Potholders

A dishtowel that I added the same fabrics from the potholders to:


She has chickens and I thought it only appropriate to send her an embroidered tea towel.


Okay, two tea towels, you can't have a rooster without a hen:


I found the embroidery patterns at Vintage Transfer Finds. She has a lot of great embroidery patterns.

We were also supposed to include a sweet or savory recipe. She chose savory, so I sent her our recipe for Sausage & Pepper Pasta.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cookie Carnival - June - Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make them soon. And soon I did, I made them the day I received the email with the recipe in it. This month's Cookie Carnival Recipe is for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. I LOVE strawberries! But more importantly I LOVE strawberry shortcake. A recipe that turns my favorite dessert into a cookie, what's not to love.

I made my dough in the food processor, the recipe said to use a fork or your hands to cut the butter into the flour, I make my pie crust in the food processor, why not the shortcake dough.

shortcake cookie dough

I pulled my berries out of the freezer (preportioned into 2 cup size bags) and defrosted added the sugar and lemon juice.

shortcake cookie berries

Then I dumped my shortcake dough into a mixing bowl and added the strawberries. Mmmmm, this looked so good.

shortcake cookie mixed

I had the oven set at 375 and tried to bake the first batch for the time suggested. This is what happened.
shortcake cookie what happened

Oh wait, you can't really see what happened. Let's try again.

shortcake cookie what happened 2

That was after only 20 minutes, I think if I had left them for the 24 to 25 minutes they would have been completely blackened.

Oh well, the next 2 sheets came out just fine. I was able to get 38 cookies using my small Pampered Chef scoop. The kids loved them. I liked them, didn't love them as I hoped that I would. They seemed to be missing something, I'm not sure what though. Will I make them again? Most definitely, with some adjustments.

Shortcake Cookies Strawberry

Here's the recipe should you decide to make them yourself.


Makes about 3 dozen.
* 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
* 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.


Interested in joining the Cookie Carnival, visit Kate at The Clean Plate Club.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Last day of school

First day of school,

Michael 1st day of school

Last day of school,

last day of school

He went to school with a gift for his teacher. A basket I made using a tutorial by Pink Penguin (I of course messed up the directions, but it still turned out cute).

fabric basket

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flower Pops

Gotta love cake on a stick or Cake Pops as Bakerella likes to call them. My brother is getting married and all of his sisters had a bridal shower for him in May. Nancy and I decided that we were going to make Cake Pops as favors for our guests. The theme of the wedding is baseball realated and the bride to be loves gerbera daisies (orange ones to be exact). We were both going to make baseballs. I happened across a small daisy cookie cutter in my cookie cutter box and called Nancy and said I would make flowers. Nancy used a white cake mix and I used a chocolate cake mix. I used a M&M for the middle of the flower.

Let me just say, these are addicting.

Flower Pops

And the closeup is not very good, I was in a hurry, but you get the idea.

flower pops 2

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three by Three Swap

I am participating in a 9-patch block swap over at twiddletails. I sent off my first 16 blocks at the end of May. I am just no getting around to sharing the pictures. I love to use my camera, I just don't take the time to upload the pictures to the computer, edit them, add them to flickr and then post about them. Anyway, here they are....

Threebythree swap all

Three by Three - May Blocks

I love how they turned out, the pictures do not show their true colors bad lighting due to a windy day outside forced me to take the pictures inside. I can't wait to see what I get in return. I am working on my second set of 16 today. Hmm, will it take me as long to post pics. Probably.

Oh and as a side note, if you go over to twiddletails she is having a giveaway today, Just Because!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

Sew, Mama, Sew! is hosting a Sewing Machine Month over on their blog. I thought what a great way to start off June. The month of May, escaped me. We became extremely busy towards the middle and did not stop until the end. June is shaping up to be somewhat fast paced, with what I hope to be a lot of down time. The boys and I need it. Michael is finishing up his last few days of Kindergarten, with the last day being Wednesday. Trevor finished up with his Preschool Graduation on May 8th. We have swim lessons and Vacation Bible School planned during the first 3 weeks June, all of a morning. That will give us our afternoons off, something we haven't had since August!! I have lots of sewing to catch up on and lots swirling in my mind. A list is needed, but I'm afraid to get it all out in the open, I may become overwhelmed and not start anything.

Here's a bit about my Sewing Machine...

What brand and model do you have? Singer, I don't know the model. I just know it has decorative stitching.
How long have you had it? Since December 2004
How much does that machine cost (approximately)? $150
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? quilting, handbags, home dec projects, some clothing, dolls, a little bit of everything
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? I don't sew often enough, it is therapy for me that does not get taken advantage of near enough.
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? No, it does not have a name, am I passionate about my machine, no. I like my machine in love iwth it no.
What features does your machine have that work well for you? I like the drop in bobbin, sounds strange I know, but on my grandmas machine (which is what I was using when I received this one) I had to get under the desk to put the bobbin in, crazy and complicated.
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? No, the things that I could complain about are operator errors.
Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it! I was using my grandma's machine that is in a desk and not removable from the desk. You used your knee to make it work. Anyway, it would work fine one day and then the next day it would not work at all, not turn on nothing. Try again a day later and it would work. It was giving me fits. Anyway, my husband asked my mom what kind to get me, she sent him out shopping. I received my current one as a Christmas gift in December 2004.
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? I would recommend it for beginners. I have really taken a liking to quilting and it does give me some fits but again that could be operator issues.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Ease of use and what you are going to be using the machine for.
Do you have a dream machine? Juki TL-98Q , however, I have to save my pennies in order to work towards this beautiful machine.

Okay, that's it for the fun little.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some more baking

Wow, I really do have a lot of photos backlogged. But I never seem to remember to take photos of the quilts and sewing that I’m working on. I WILL get better about that. Each month I try to participate in the Cookie Carnival. I participated in February, but not until March and then did not participate in March and had planned to in April but realized my photos were due at the end of April and well it’s now May.

February was the month that we celebrate T’s birthday. He’s all about trains. I thought I would share his cake…


I used an 8x8 cake pan. I cut the cake in half. For the cab of the train I cut the remaining half of the cake in fourth and placed one fourth on top of the cake. I used the other three fourths of the cake to make the car’s. Buttercream icing tinted blue and then lots of candy for the cars. The wheels are made of oreos and the connectors are made of licorice. He enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordless Wednesday




Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A sneak peak and a WIP

I joined in a swap over at Down to Earth back in February. The swap is for a hot pad and a dish towel and it was to be mailed by April 25th. I was very excited to get my partner and get to work on my items for her. My swap partner is from Australia and when we chatted a bit, I found out that her kitchen was in red, black and white. From her blog, I found out that she has a garden, loves flowers and raises chickens.

My partner should be receiving her package very soon and as soon as she does, I’ll show you what I made for her. But here’s a peek of the fabrics I chose…


I have also recently joined in a swap over at the twiddletails blog. The swap is for 9 patch blocks. We are to ship 16 in May and 16 in June. Here is a peak of mine in progress...


The only thing I have left to do is to put the blocks together. I wasn't sure how the colors would work out together, but all I can say is WOW! I really like them. I found a new favorite fabric store in the process. I was looking for some fabric for a baby quilt I am working on for a neighbor, I stumbled across this little (big) shop by accident while driving to my regular shop. They carry over 6000 bolts of fabric and offer classes. Hmmm, I think I may be spending some time there! I would like to go back when I don't have any kids with me. I had Ethan with me that day and he was ready to go. I had fabrics picked out at home for the swap, but when I stumbled upon their fat quarter and 1/2 yard cabinets, I couldn't resist picking up a few new fabrics.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cookie Carnival - February but it's May



It's been awhile since I participated in the Carnival! I had oven problems most of last year and finally broke down and bought a new oven in December. I have been baking lots since then. I did make the cookies for December in January, but didn't get to take pictures before the boys devoured them.

The cookies this month are called CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES with TOFFEE and DRIED CHERRIES by Regan Daley. Oh my, my did they ever sound delish. A quick survey of the pantry and I had all of the ingredients except for the dried cherries and toffee bits. Hmm, I added the ingredients to the shopping list. It was hard not to run out and buy the ingredients and make them right then. But I'm on a budget, trying to only shop once a week and really trying to stick the grocery list. As long as the item is on the list it's okay to buy, if it's not then it's not an okay purchase.

The ingredients were purchased and I was going to make these for Valentine's Day for S, but had to many other things planned for that day so these sweet treats did not get made. A trip to the auto show on Sunday derailed my baking plans for Sunday. On Monday, the kids had no school, maybe I could get them baked, but time got away from me as I was in a cleaning groove. Finally, I was able to bake these on Tuesday and let me just say they were well worth the wait.

I was surprised at the amount of cookies that the recipe made. The recipe said to it would make 40 large cookies by dropping the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet. I used the small scoop by Pampered Chef and the recipe made 81 cookies. Fresh out of the oven they are soft and gooey. Cooled a bit, they have a slight crunch but a soft middle. The boys liked them, that was a relief. S isn't home to try them, but I'm sure as soon as he gets home they'll be a hit with him as well, for he loves Heath bars and cherries, although usually separate.


Without further ado, the recipe for CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES with TOFFEE and DRIED CHERRIES by Regan Daley.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup plump, moist, dried sour cherries
8 oz. bitter or semisweet chocolate chopped into chunks about the size of the cherries
1 cup English toffee pieces for baking such as Skor Bits

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. line two heavy baking sheets, not non-stick, with parchment paper and set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside. in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour-mixture in 3 additions, blending just until the dry ingredients are moistened. i find this part of the job easier with a wooden spoon, rather than a mixer, as I can see better which parts of the batter need more attention without over mixing. Stir in the chunky ingredients and mix until they seem evenly distributed. (the dough may be frozen at this point for up to 4 months: wrap the dough securely in plastic wrap, then in a plastic freezer bag. thaw the dough in the refrigerator without removing its wrapping before portioning the cookies and baking.)
2. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets and place them in the center of the oven. If you have a large, evenly tempered oven, place the 2 sheets in at once, on two racks positioned close to the middle of the oven. Switch the position of the trays once dur­ing baking. If your oven is small, or tends to have hot or cold spots, bake one tray at a time so the cookies bake evenly.
3. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, or until barely set in the center and just firm around the edges. Rotate the sheets once or twice. Cool the cookies on the tray for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before storing. (Feel free to eat them at any point.) Run the hot tray under cold water to cool it, dry thoroughly and repeat with remaining dough. Store the cookies in airtight containers, layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 5 days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Taco Soup

My cousin, Nancy (you can find her here), piqued my interest about Taco Soup a few months ago. I had never had it nor heard of it and that sent me in search of a simple recipe and since I had all of the ingredients on hand I made it that night. It was good and I have made it again since then, but I have been searching for another recipe to try. A few days ago, I found it! It sounded oh so good! You can find the original recipe at Little Birdie Secrets.

Taco Soup

Here it is with the changes that I made:

Taco Soup
1 can (16 oz) refried beans (I used Fat Free)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen corn OR 1 can whole kernel corn (I used Sweet Whole Kernel Corn No Salt Added)
3/4 cup salsa
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken OR 1 lb. ground beef, browned (I used 2 chicken breasts cubed)
1/2 cup water
1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips, optional

Coat a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray and add the cubed chicken breasts, saute until browned. In a large saucepan, combine first 8 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cheese. If you like, crumble tortilla chips on bottom of bowl and ladle soup over chips. You can also just crush a few chips on top of the soup if you prefer. Sprinkle cheese over top of the soup and serve with chips on the side. It's also great topped with a spoonful of sour cream.

This soup was really good. It was a thick and hearty soup. The kids loved it and asked me if we could have it for tomorrow for lunch. I highly recommend trying it (with or without the alterations)!!