Friday, April 28, 2017

Chevron Quilt: Persia from Free spirit

I've wanted to do a chevron quilt for awhile and when I saw the new Persia fabric collection from FreeSpirit, I knew it would perfectly show off these prints! While I normally use pastel fabrics, these rich jewel tones instantly appealed to me. They are warm and rich and will be perfect in the fall.

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I tried some new things while I was creating this quilt. I decided to round off the corners for a new look. WOW! Can I tell you how rounding off quilt corners is not only a fresh look as most quilts edges are square but it is a fantastic way to avoid mitered corners if that is a skill you have yet to master. It's perfect if you want to quickly get the biding done (I found it to be much faster) and move on to your next project while ensuring a beautiful finish. 
I do not have a formal pattern for this but I based this chevron pattern on an arrow quilt I've seen online. Instead of putting a border in between the colors vertically as you would for an arrow head design, I placed my sashing horizontally to give me a true chevron look. These chevron shapes are made from half-square triangles. This is not a new concept in any way, but it is the first time I made a quilt without a formal pattern in my hands. 
Not only did I try a new skill with rounded corners, but I opted to piece my back for the first time!

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I knew I wanted to use the rich, vibrant jade green but I also wanted to try something new! I decided to slice my backing fabric both lengthwise and width wise and added a strip of white fabric to create a cross shape (I was making this over Easter). 

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When quilting this, I opted to mirror the chevron shape with my stitching. I used the edge of my walking foot and followed the fabrics as well as make straight lines on the sashing. 

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These colors are bright, vibrant, and remind me of fall, my favorite season. I can imagine curling up with this yummy quilt on the first cool day. 
This fabric is available now; here are some of the fabrics up close for better viewing:
I have just enough left to make a zippered pouch out of some of the scraps from this project, which is great as I am planning on gifting this quilt away (Mother's Day is right around the corner....shhhh).
Thank you Free Spirit for letting me play with these gorgeous fabrics! I loved them and as always, Free Spirit fabrics are soft, colorfast (I've already washed this quilt and the dark fabrics did not bleed onto the white), not see through, and hold up to washings.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Jelly Roll Check Pillow Case

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I LOVE projects that utilize precut fabric. Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes are my two favorite precut sized fabrics and this quilting pattern uses jelly rolls! The pattern is from Fat Quarter Shop and its called, "Jelly Roll Check". I used it to make a few throw pillow covers to freshen up my living room but I am planning on making a full sized quilt soon. It is really easy and comes together super fact, I made this pillow cover in about 45 minutes!
The fabric is called Ava Rose by Riley Blake and I LOVE IT! The geometric design and the floral are my favorites. The aqua and peach colors are perfect for my living room. I wouldn't min getting some yardage of this line... photo 2844966A-4C54-43A1-9029-838771EA930B.jpgI also used a new tool in this project, which I also ordered from FQS. It is a ruler from Creative Grids. WOW! There are these cute polka dots on the ruler and they are a little rough (like a fine sand paper) and those hold the ruler to the fabric so that it doesn't slide as you trim with your rotary cutter. I am already obsessing over which ruler I will get next and just how many are too many...  photo 1e2775cc-c702-43c1-a431-d2a964a4e316.jpg 

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These squares can be used in so many fun projects! In the future, I think it would be cute to use two fabrics that are tones of each other (light blue and white, etc) which will give this quilt an almost gingham feel to the check pattern.
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 I sewed a little ric~rac in between the pillow front and back for a fun edge. Cording would also be cute. The back of the pillow was a simple solid with an envelope opening (no zipper, easy to change out). 
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Paige's Passion: Dad's Bowtie Quilt

I got really treated to something pretty special...Riley Blake sent me fabric of a new line before it is released later this month. Instantly I knew that it was the perfect fabric to use to make a quilt that I've been dying to create...Dad's Bowtie Quilt from the Polka Dot Chair. In fact, as soon as I opened the box, I went straight to Melissa's website and ordered the pattern!

Paige's Passion is so beautiful and reminds me a Springtime in North Carolina. Everywhere you look there are azaleas blooming, bulbs sprouting up, and pollen. The colors are both vibrant and soft and the fabric itself it everything you've come to love about Riley Blake...high quality and soft to the touch.

I followed the pattern step-by-step and it wasn't nearly as daunting as I thought it might be!
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I used four prints from the line for my contrasting fabrics, Riley Blake solid white for my background, and Riley Blake Sunshine (a butter yellow) for the backing.
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Laying out the bows and not having them repeat too often became an obsession. I must have moved and laid out the quilt thirty times. I finally looked at Melissa's quilt front and you know what? Her quilt had some repeats and diagonals touching like prints. It's OK! It's still beautiful! 
If it is good enough for Melissa, it is surely good enough for me!
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The pattern has two options when it comes to the large border; using pinwheels in the corners or making the border a solid strip. I really worked hard on my pinwheels and loved the patterns in them, so I  opted to use them.
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I haven't loved a line of fabric this much in a really, really long time. This aqua with the pink flowers is amazing! 
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Because I am still very new to quilting, I opted to straight-line quilt it. I thought about getting out a marking pen and ruler to make my lines perfect and even, but opted instead to make it very organic. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guide. At times the lines are a little wonky and off but I think it gives the quilt a little personality. With so many straight lines in the design, I think the lines being a bit wavier break up the harsh edges. 
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I will say this...straight-line quilting takes a lot of time. 
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I prefer hand binding and cuddled up to a few episodes of Mr. Selfridge and before I knew it, the quilt was ready for the wash.

As soon as I took the quilt out of the dryer I ran to look Lila Tueller up on social media. I HAD to tell her how much I loved her work. I wanted her to see how excited I was for the launch. She is so sweet and showed me some of her projects, too! Fabric brings the nicest people into my life!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Artichoke and Spinach Dip Pasta

In the summer of 1997 I was preparing to head off to college as a freshman. I was working in a restaurant, had met my future husband, and was living at the beach. I wore bikinis and used oil instead of sunscreen. I wasn't worried about sun damage. Or calories. Maybe that is why I also fell in love with spinach and artichoke dip. On nights off at the restaurant, Matthew and I would go out to eat and play tourist. We often ordered this dip as an appetizer. Sometimes, it came with tortilla chips and other times pita bread. We dated for the next five years and still ordered it almost every time we ate out, wherever we ate out. Fast forward a few years...Matthew and I married and were saving to buy our first house. Eating out wasn't as common and food trends shifted from spinach and artichoke dip to things like nachos and burger sliders. It didn't really dawn on me until recently that I haven't seen artichoke dip on a menu in a really long time. I decided to hunt for a recipe and make up a batch to take to a Super Bowl party this year. After all, enough time had passed that instead of being an over-done food everyone was tired of, this dip might just be a fun retro throwback.
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As I made this appetizer for the party, it hit me that it would make a great dinner...add some sauteed chicken and pasta, and you could totally get away with turning it into a meal! Or I just wanted an excuse to gorge myself with this and call it dinner. Either way, I decided to try it. It got a thumbs up from all members of my family and if it wasn't for the caloric intake that it provided, we'd add it to our weekly rotation. I am basing my recipe on the one I found on the NY Times but have made some changes to make it work as a pasta dish from a sauce.
 photo D6E6D4AF-62F1-4497-8BFF-68D28C72FDC2.jpg Ingredients:
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1 Box pasta (I used Gluten Free and it was just as tasty)
2-3 chicken breasts diced (can also used cooked chicken and add it in)
4 c spinach (or 1 12 oz. box frozen spinach, drained and chopped)
1 12 or 16 oz. can Artichoke hearts
4 oz. sour cream
3-4 tbsp. milk (more or less to think out the dip into a sauce. a splash of white wine would also do)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella
4 oz. fresh Parmesan
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
pinch sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

step 1: Heat olive oil and saute garlic until it smells wonderful and then add your spinach until it wilts.

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step 2: add artichoke hearts and heat through and toss in some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.. Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente.
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step 3: lower heat and add cheeses. stir until melted. Add sour cream and milk. While this is getting melty and heavenly, in another pan, saute chicken until golden brown and cooked through.
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step 4: decide if you want to mix the chicken, pasta, and dip in one pot and serve. OR...combine and toss into a casserole dish, top with additional cheese and bake. OR...put pasta on the plate, top with chicken, and then pour some dip on top. I went with that option.
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This is not diet cuisine. In fact, make a big salad and fill up on that first. This is really rich and decadent but so worth it! All three kids rated this a 9.5/10 and that alone makes it worthy of coming into the rotation!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Graduation Cards...already?! Meet Basic Invite

*This post is sponsored by Basic Invite*

It is the time in the school year that as a teacher, I both equally look forward to and dread...graduation! This year I particularly am dreading the end coming. I have been with my 8th graders for four years! I've seen them truly grow up before my eyes. When I first met them, they were babies and now they are young adults. It is amazing to watch this happen. I will miss them terribly but that is tempered by knowing how ready they truly are to take on the world. 

With the graduation of this class coming, I wanted to get some cute note cards to write each student a letter and I've found a fantastic stationery site, Basic Invite. Seeing the graduation cards made me think of my students (and my own children, ouch!). I love having personalized stationery and the end of the school year it is a must as the students tend to bring in end-of-the-school-year gifts. I love having these at my desk to write a quick thank you and tape it to their locker (I hope 10% make it back to their mommas...). 

I LOVE this site! The hardest part is choosing. I think these are perfect...they have my favorite colors (though I've played with changing those up just for fun) and are whimsical and yet, not babyish. The prices are wonderful and it tells you exactly when you can expect to receive your order. It is a great place to shop as you can get everything at once...invites, thank you notes, etc. 

Here are some other perks to Basic Invite:

Almost Unlimited Colors - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what sets them apart from other online stationery stores I've looked at. I've never seen a template allow you to totally change every color!

Custom Samples - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before you ever have to place your final order.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes - Basic Invite is just as colorful with our envelopes as they are with our invitations. You can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to your envelopes so that you can make your invitation stand out even before it is opened. I also love that these are peel-and-stick envelopes, which when sending more than a couple is a huge deal!

Free Address Collection Service - Use the free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps. Share a link, collect addresses, and get free envelope printing. That is so cool! Really makes getting your mail out so much easier (are you thinking Christmas cards already, too?!).

Here are some of my favorite...I am totally swooning over the gold glitter feel that these have. the polka dots are pretty adorable, too. While these are graduation cards, they could easily be customized to become Christmas cards and thank you notes!
The above picture graduation card is ideal for family that doesn't get to see them everyday! This one would make the grandparents weepy!
Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own and I am truly excited about ordering my thank -you notes!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lucy 2017

These are old pictures from my blog. It kills me to look back at pictures of my children. Being at home with them when the most difficult decision I had to make was what to make for lunch and the biggest fight on my hand was getting shoes on was a very sweet part of my life. I want to freeze time and I want to go back. 
I dug for these because tomorrow is the time that we will need to say good bye to our Jack Russell, Lucy. I found her on the side of the road almost 13 years ago. She has been a survivor. Truly scrappy. In her hay -day, you couldn't tire her out. She would catch the ball until you were sick of throwing it. She'd dart out of any open door and you'd have to chase her for a few miles to catch her (no exaggeration). Over the last year, we've seen her healthy decline. She's not eating much at all, she's lost weight, and has a lot of mysterious lumps and bumps. She lost her hearing and eyesight over a year ago and bladder control shortly after. Her quality of life has drastically diminished and she is now noticeably uncomfortable. 
My heart breaks for her and for that of my children, whom we will have to explain this to. There is never a right time. We've been lucky to have such a fun pet and I hope that in time, pictures like this will only bring a smile.
Lucy, you've been a wonderful dog. Thank you for loving us.