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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cake Mix 3

I am a self-taught sewer (sewist?) and quilter. Thankfully, when I need help, inspiration, or am stuck I can turn to sewing blog and YouTube videos. Quilting has so many techniques or varieties of quilting; paper piecing, hand quilting, long arm quilting, free motion quilting, strip piecing, etc. 
One of the new-to-me techniques is triangle paper. This is paper that you sew on top of and then cut into the perfect shapes that will make up your quilt squares. One take on triangle paper are these cake mixes. These arrive like large pads of paper. You place two fabrics that are 10" x 10" facing each other, lay a piece of paper on top, and sew through it. Then, you simply follow the cutting lines and have perfectly joined half-square triangles.

Fat Quarter Shop sent me this set of "recipe cards" to try out. I decided to use up some of my favorite fabrics that I've loved and hoarded but didn't have a lot left of to use in bigger projects. You can also purchase a layer cake from Fat Quarter Shop that will come pre-cut and coordinate (this is a layer cake that I have my eye on...)
These fabrics are from several different lines and designers but I love each and every one of them. Though I wouldn't normally put them together, I was impatient to get started and decided to make it work. 

Here is a square of two pieces of fabric and the sheet of paper that I've sewn through. There are sewing lines that you follow and cutting lines that you breeze through with a rotary cutter.

The sewing lines have arrows that guide you; I kept the line in the center of my sewing foot as I went. I kept my needle in the down position so that I could pivot and turn quite easily.

The cutting lines are the black lines and it is another step that goes quite quickly.
I can honestly say that I will never, EVER, make half square triangles without triangle paper again!!!
Once you get your shapes cut and ironed, there are several templates that you can follow to set up your quilt squares. I am loving the organic look of these mis-matchy diamonds in such a classic shape. I am going make 42 of these so that my quilt will be comprised of 7 of these blocks by 6. This should make a pretty large and comfy throw.
***that WAS the plan...I opted for a table runner instead to use this Spring, which was 8 blocks by 2 blocks and a strip down the middle, separating the two blocks***
Here is one completed practice square. My white fabric is a bit see through and therefore making sure that seams are nested will be important. I love how to points match up so well because of the way they are sewn and cut by use of the paper. It is a very quick process and the possibilities are truly endless! If you look at the bottom of the cake mix front page, it shows you a few ways that you can arrange your shapes and the different quilt squares that you can make.

After I made 16 blocks I decided to make a row using some leftover squares. I oriented them to make "bars" and use this long strip to separate my two rows of 8 blocks.
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After separating the two rows of blocks by the strip in the middle, I added a 4 inch border of fabric around the whole thing.
I opted to quilt this using a wavy line. On my Bernina, it is stitch 4. This is a popular method and while I adore straight line quilting, I thought the wavy line would break it up a bit. I loved it. It was not only a fun stitch, it was quick and easy!
I made a wavy line at each seam line. I centered my walking foot over each seam and let the needle dance back and forth over the seam. 
I bound it using a pink from one of the squares.
I tried using the walking foot with the stitch-in-the-ditch foot to blindly machine sew my binding, but to me, nothing beats hand stitched binding. I won't be so lazy again...
Here it is, fresh from the dryer. I LOVE a freshly washed quilted piece.
This is a large table runner, but I have a large table! 
I am so thankful to Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring this project!

***Also, don't forget to enter my recipe rut quilt contest! ***

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


This is the Yeti of water bottles. The Hydroflask keeps ice in my water for at least 24 hours. I use it daily and LOVE it!

Coffee is a big part of my day. I drink my coffee piping hot and don’t like it lukewarm. The Yeti keeps it that way for several hours and it is a staple in my day!

At Starbucks in the summer, I get the Shaken Passion Tea with sugar free vanilla’s such a treat. I bought the ingredients and am going to try making them at home this summer!

I have these shoes (Emery Flat) from the J.Crew Factory Store in both clay and black. They take a good while to break them in, but they are SO cute! Very dressy and they elongate the foot making me feel more slender. They remind me of something Laura Petrie would’ve worn on the Dick Van Dyke show.

I eat these every morning with a Greek yogurt. They are filling, sweet, and come in a few varieties. I look forward to these and my first cup of coffee every morning.


This is my new favorite facial scrub. It has very fine particles and doesn’t scrub is silky smooth and you leave it on for a full minute. When rinsed, your skin is a little brighter and softer.

Bobbi Brown smells like summer and sunscreen. I wear it on and off year ‘round and adore it.

I just took the girls for their first pedicure and this is the color I had put on my’s called “Hotter than You”. It’s a pretty neutral pink and I am ready to paint my fingernails in this shade too.

Every Christmas, my mother in law, Margie puts a Black Honey in my stocking. It is one of my favorite yearly gifts. It is the best color...sheer with a berry tint.

Up until now, I’ve been quilting with Warm and White, which I love, but I just recently received Dream Cotton from Quilter’s Dream and I love it! It’s a little thicker without being higher loft. I am using it on my next quilt!

Yellow is one of my favorite springtime colors and this necklace from Target combines the Yellow I love with turquoise, which I also love!

Chik-Fil-A Vanilla Shake and Fries
Sometimes, I just need to give into the cravings and make this my lunch
I even have a favorite blog lately, too! Amy Smart is my quilting superhero. If she suggests it, I do it. If she uses it, I order it. If she has a technique, I adhere to it. I adore her taste and color choices. I love her patterns. She is just lovely!

In case you didn’t know who Laura Petrie was...check out the Sloan pant from Banana Republic. Pair it with a sweater and the ballet flats above and you have Laurie Petrie (and my school uniform. seriously, I have each in several colors and just rotate).