Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Reason To Love Target

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Another reason for me to love Target presented itself to me yesterday.  The Target near my house is in the process of turning into a super version of itself and while there are huge dumpsters and trailers in the parking lot, there is no evidence of the construction during the day when I go there to shop.  They must be doing all of the work at night while most of us are sleeping.  I love that.  So yesterday, because I was wandering around Target, not knowing where anything was because the whole store was being rearranged, I really took a good look at all of their “stuff”. 

I found this aromatherapy diffuser.  They had candles too and I was able to sniff all of their scents and this yellow one called Happiness caught my eye and my nose.  I swear the scent of this one is the same one that you find at Anthropology in that very pretty and expensive mercury glass candle that they sell.  I love that scent.  And the packaging is very Anthropology-esque  too if you ask me   My dilemma was whether to pick the candle or this diffuser.  The diffuser won.

A very good find. :) Price: $12.99. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Colors of Provence Rag Quilt

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I am so happy with my latest Rag Quilt!  I just loved the colors and the patterns of the fabrics when I saw them last week when I was shopping locally at Sew Heavenly here in Greensboro, NC.  The cuter fabrics are found in the local specialty stores, I am convinced.    I know that a lot of these kinds of quilts are made using flannel but so far I have been using regular cotton blend fabrics and they are working out just fine.  I think the “rag” edges are more defined when you use flannel but I like the brighter colors and patterns that I am finding with more regular fabrics. 

Here are some details on how I made this quilt:

This quilt ended up being about double the size of the first one I made. (If you missed it here is link) This one was made using 70 squares.  10 rows that are each 7 squares across.  (It was about the size of two baby quilts put together.)

I purchased 1 yard each of 4 different patterned fabrics. 

I purchased 4 yards of a plain yellow broadcloth for the back side. 

The size of the squares I used were 8 inches x 8 inches. 

I also used an 8 inch quilting square which helped make the cutting of the squares go even faster.  I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one already.  For my first quilt, I used a Land’s End Catalog which happened to be 8 inches wide.  Using a real quilt square like a grown up was so much better:)

The batting squares were cut to be 6 inches x 6 inches. 

I found a 6 inch x 6 inch quilting square and used that and the rotary cutter and mat to cut out all of the batting squares.

I used white thread.

A rotary cutter and mat make this job fast and easy.  You could use scissors but I wouldn’t recommend it!

I also cut all 4 four yards of the yellow backing fabric into 8 x 8 inch squares. 

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I cut out my squares using the strip method using my rotary cutter, mat, and quilt square.   And isn’t that the cutest pin cushion you’ve ever seen?  I have been using the same tomato pin cushion my whole life.  When I saw this one, it was time to splurge.  I found it at Hobby Lobby for $8.99. 

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A 6 inch x 6 inch batting square was placed in the center of the yellow  8 x 8 inch fabric squares that would be the back side of the quilt.  I then placed a patterned square on top and set them aside in piles before sewing them together. 

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At this point, you will be sewing an “X” across each square so that you are securing your squares with a piece of batting in between them. 

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You can speed sew these together by simply stitching a seam across from one corner point to the opposite corner point, and then slide in your next square, point first, under the foot of your sewing machine being sure to continue sewing the seams point to point until you have one seam across all of  your squares.  They will all be connected and when you have finished all of your squares you can then snip with your scissors to cut them apart from each other.  

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Once your squares are all separated, it’s time to do the same thing over again so that you have a stitched seam running across the diagonal from the opposite side, point to point.   When finished, you should have a nice “X” across all of your quilt squares.

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The next step is to take all of your quilt squares and lay them out on the floor in a pattern that you like.   I randomly placed my squares but I was careful to make sure that I did not place two of the same pattern next to each other.  Once you like the pattern you have laid out, it’s now time to stitch the square together into row. 

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Pay attention and have your seam ripper handy if you don’t when you get to this step!  Because this quilt had a different color for the back side of the square, I had to be careful as I pieced them together so that I got the rough seam allowance on the pattern side of the quilt because that rough seam allowance is your future “ragged” edge of your quilt.  I had to learn this the hard way and had to re-do 2 of the squares before I figured it out.  :)  Also notice how once they are sewn together, the size of your quilt shrinks down a bit.

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With the back sides ( yellow sides) together, I stitched together two squares side to side.  Keep attaching the squares on the side edge to the row you are working on.  Once all are stitched together, do a double check to make sure all of your ragged seam allowanced are on the pattern side and that your back side (my yellow side) is neat and smooth.  

Once you have all of your squares sewn  into rows, you can now start sewing your rows together to form the quilt.   Again, you will be sewing your rows together with the back sides of the squares together.  Up until this point, I really haven’t had to use pins.  NOW is the time to break out your pins.  I would also highly recommend you get the bigger quilting pins with a color ball on the tops, they will make your life so much easier.   Be especially careful to pin and sew your rows together one at a time and match up your seams between each row so that your back side looks nice.   I worked with all my rows laid out on the floor and one row at a time, I sewed them together always checking to make sure that my pattern was still in tact. 

Watching the youtube video called Beverly’s How To Make a Rag Quilt is very helpful at explaining the easiest and best way to sew together your rows.  It can save you a lot of aggravation so I can’t recommend it enough!

Once all of your rows are stitched together, stitch around the outer edge of your entire quilt about 5/8 to 1/2 inch in from the edge.  You will be snipping that outer edge of your quilt and it will have a fringed look to it.  There is no binding  to sew. 

I will warn you, once all of your rows are stitched together, it isn’t pretty.  But it soon will be.  Have faith!

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The thing I love most about making these quilts is that they are VERY FORGIVING!.  Your quilt will look like a mess once you get it pieced together, but in the end, it all falls into place.  So don’t worry if something looks crooked, it won’t in your final quilt. 

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The next step after you have finished sewing your quilt together is to snip all of the seam allowances on the outer edge of each square about every 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Snip up to the outer seam that you just stitched but be very careful not to cut through it. 

Do yourself a favor and get a pair of rag quilt scissors…mine are made from Fiskar’s and I love them.  They have a spring and they are much easier on your hands than regular scissors.  This step might take awhile.  Turn on the radio, or your favorite TV show or movie and take your time and snip all of your edges.  The quilt gets snipped around each square edge and the entire outer edge of your quilt.    This is also a very messy step and you will have fabric threads everywhere and all over your clothes. 

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Once all your edges are snipped,  you can pop your quilt in the washing machine.    Run it through a full wash cycle.  Some people recommend that you do this at the laundry mat to spare your machine.  I haven’t had any problem doing this step at home but if you are not sure and don’t want to take chances, take it to the laundry mat.  I did not use soap.  You mostly are using the water and the agitation from the washing machine to get your edged to start “ragging” and then your dryer will finish it off.  I cleaned the lint screen of my dryer after about 5 minute in the dryer.  There was A LOT of lint!

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These are fun to make and easy to sew.  And I find it easier to work on it a little bit each day so that it’s not too overwhelming.  This one took me less than a week probably because I was so excited to see the finished quilt that I keep finding the time to work on it.  I just love how it turned out.

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I hope this tutorial is helpful and inspires some of you to give this a try.  I only learned how to do this a few weeks ago and I was able to learn how by reading the tutorial over at  I Can Teach My Child.  I  also highly recommend the tutorial found on the you tube video  Beverly’s How To Make a Rag Quilt.    Good luck to you if you decide to give this a whirl! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It makes my day when I see new cookie recipe. I saw them this morning over at The Girl Who Ate Everything. Talk about some amazing recipes. This is a great site to visit if you want to find something new to try. The recipe I posted here has been doubled. They got rave reviews. Need a chocolate and a peanut butter fix? These will do the trick.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 cup peanut butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Add the sugar and peanut butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix.

I like to make large cookies so I use a large cookie scoop. For large cookies, bake for 17 minutes. For traditional small sized cookies, bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before moving to a cooling rack because they will be soft when they come out of the oven. This recipe made about 30 large sized cookies.

*** Recipe Alert!: These are delicious right after you make them but after a couple of days they get hard as a rock! So eat them up quick.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Strawberry Tarts : Tarte aux Fraises

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I pretty much like anything when it comes in a “mini” form like these Tarts aux Fraises.  Mini Strawberry Tarts would make a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert.  I found the recipe in my copy of My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris.  She is also the author of the book Chocolat that was also made into that wonderful movie starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.

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The cookbook is filled with wonderful photos and French recipes.  This one caught my eye because the pastry crust calls for ground almonds.  I have a lot of almond flour because I stocked up back when I was living my obsession of learning how to make French Macarons.  The almond flour I needed for the macarons wasn’t always easy to find so whenever I saw it, I bought it. I have 2 and a half bags of the stuff so I am happy to now have another use for it and I can start to use up my supply before it expires on me.  And actually, there really is something nice about the flavor of something made with ground almonds. 

Almond Pastry

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces) ground almonds (almond flour)

3/4 cups (  1 and 3/4 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces)

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2 to 3 large egg yolks, beaten (I used 3)


1/2 cup red currant jelly

2 pounds strawberries, washed and cut into small pieces.

For the pastry, mix the flour and ground almonds in a bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse bred crumbs.  Mix in the brown sugar.  Add the egg yolks until the ingredients come together into a ball of dough.  Lightly knead the dough on a cool, floured work surface to ensure the pastry is evenly blended.  Wrap and chill in the refrigerator to rest for 40 minutes.

Lightly butter your tart pans if you are making mini tarts.  This recipe will also make a crust for a 10-inch tart.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface.  Gently line your pan with the pastry dough and place in the refrigerator to chill and relax for 20 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Line your pastry shells with parchment paper.  (I took the tart pan and traced the bottom of it with a pencil onto the parchment paper and then cut the shape out with scissors.  Turn the parchment paper over so that the lead from the pencil does not come in contact with your food.)  Fill your tart with dried beans or pastry weights and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the paper and the beans, reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake for and additional 25 minutes until the tart shell is golden and set.  Caution:  if you are using the mini tart pans and not the 10 inch tart pan size, watch your tarts so that they do not overcook or burn.  I would suggest you check on them after 10 to 15 minutes or so and keep your eye on them. )  Remove from the oven and cool.

Gently heat the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat or use the microwave and stir after 30 second intervals.  Mine was melted after the second 30 seconds. 

Carefully release the  cooled tart shell and transfer it to a large flat plate.  The pastry is fragile!  (I actually left mine in the tart pans until it was time to serve them.)  Pile the strawberries into the pastry tart shells.  Spoon the warm jelly over the strawberries and coat them evenly.  Let them set for 1 hour before serving. 

Serve with  vanilla ice cream or whipped cream,  Bon Appetite!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sartori Espresso BellaVittano Cheese

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  I tried a new kind of cheese today.  It’s American made by a family company in Wisconsin called Sartori Cheese.  They have several varieties and flavors but the one I fell in love with today was their award winning Espresso BellaVitano .

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Each wheel of this lovely cheese is  hand rubbed with freshly roasted espresso!  It sounds like the oddest combination…coffee and cheese…but it works and it’s delicious. 

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The flavor reminds me of one of my favorite cheeses Parrano.  It’s similar to a nice Parmesan but this one has a slightly softer feel and it’s a bit creamier and then the subtle espresso flavor puts it over the top.  Delicious and not overpowering.  It’s a great flavor combination.  I am looking forward to pairing it up with something made out of chocolate.  Also, it would be nice with a glass of red wine.

Looking for something new?  If you are a coffee and a cheese lover, you can’t go wrong with this one.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Carolina Cakes From Our State Magazine


This is one of my favorite magazines.  It’s called Our State and each month it is filled unique articles and  gorgeous photos about the people, places and most importantly the food you can find here in North Carolina.  I spotted this month’s issue at the checkout stand at the Harris Teeter yesterday and tossed it in with the rest of my groceries without really reading what was on the cover.  I saw the picture of the layered cake and figured it would be an issue that I would enjoy.  So last night, after cutting a new batch of fabric squares for the my next Rag Quilt (my newest crafting obsession, might as well ride it out before it passes), I sat down for a few minutes to look at my new magazine.   


That gorgeous cake on the cover wasn’t anything close to what I thought it was.  That is a shot of a  Maple Syrup and Country Ham Cake.  Mmmm hmmm.  What do you think?  Could you eat this?  Could you serve this at your next party?    This is served with a Red Eye Gravy Drizzle!!!


Or, how about this one.  It’s called The Nabs Cake.  Now, for everyone who wonders what the heck a “Nab” is, let me educate you much as I needed to be educated once upon a time.   From what I can tell, and it’s actually my daughter who informed me, “Nabs” are Southern slang for  those orange cheese and peanut butter crackers that you have probably been giving to your kids as a snack all these years.  My daughter was babysitting and the Mom she was sitting for told her that when the kids got hungry to just give them a pack of “Nabs” and something to drink.  Well, the babysitter called me later in a panic to ask me what “Nabs” were.  Heck if I know!  You better just ask the kids and let them tell you.    The kind we always buy are the Lance Toastchee crackers.   I wonder though if they are called Nabs all around the South or just here in North Carolina?  Anybody out there familiar with “Nabs”? 


The Pimento Cheese Cake (cough, cough, gag, gag,)  :)  Okay, enough said.  I can’t even go here.


The Krispy Creme Cake  Now, if calories were not such an unwelcome yet important part of my world, this might be a possibility. 


And now for the grand finale, I give you The Pepsi “N” Peanuts Cake.    I can’t say that I am not intrigued and would love a bite before I plunged ahead and made a whole cake.  Did you know Pepsi was invented in North Carolina?

I love how creative each of these cakes are and I also love how they identify which ingredients used are from North Carolina.  Need something unusual to take to that Superbowl party this year?  Any one of these just might be the ticket!

All of these recipes are available on the Our State North Carolina magazine website.  Just click on any of the cake names here and you will be linked to the recipes.  Bon appetite y’all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rag Quilt

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Can you believe it? I actually made this rag quilt! I was so excited to post it here today. And it only took me about a week to do it. I saw one on Pinterest last week and decided to give it a try. Very fun and easy to do .

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These are the photos that I spotted on Pinterest that inspired me to give it a try. They are from the blog and you can find an easy to follow tutorial on how to make one for yourself. Aren’t they beautiful? I just love the gray and yellow one. And the other one is sweet for a baby. The tutorial there is great and I found all the instructions easy to follow. I also watched a video called Beverly’s How To on youtube because I always seem to do better if I can watch someone else do something first and I also picked up a lot of great hints there. One of the best hints was to pick up a pair of the Rag Quilting Scissors. They have a spring in the handle that helps make it easy to do the mega amounts of snipping you have to do the get that ragged edge. I found a pair at Jo-Ann Fabrics today. They are pricey at $21.99 for a pair but somehow I ended up with 40% off so that made it less painful.

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Of course, the most fun part of any sewing project is picking out the fabric. I found 5 patterned fabrics that I thought would go well together and then later after I decided I wanted my quilt to be bigger, I went back and purchased a couple more yards of the solid green fabric you see in the finished quilt. The second most fun part is washing the quilt when you are done and pulling it out of the dryer and seeing the edged all “ragged”. Cute.

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I wanted a puffy quilt so I made the one that sandwiches a piece of batting in between each fabric square. The quilt in the youtube video just used a soft flannel. I also used regular fabric and it “ragged” just fine. I think flannel “rags” a bit easier but I am very happy with how mine turned out just using regular fabric.

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There is something about that aqua blue fabric next to that green fabric that I just love.

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The size I ended up with would be what I would call a lap quilt size. Perfect for keeping warm while watching TV or to use when curled up with a book. It would make a good quilt to use while studying which is why I think I am going to take this over to my daughter who is away at school.

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Here is a photo of the back side of the quilt. One side has the “ragged” edge and this side is smooth like a traditional quilt.

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And here it is folded in half and set across the foot of a bed. I am a sewer with very basic skills and if I can do this you can too! Watch the video and take a look at the tutorial and you just might find yourself at the fabric store this weekend. That is where you will probably find me. I am definitely making more of these.

LinkI am linking up to 2805's Potpourri Friday party today and

I am linking up to the “Get Your Brag On” Party over at Gluesticks