Powerscourt, Ireland.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I-Spy Quilt (Disappearing 9 Patch)

This is the first quilt I ever made.  Actually, it's one of the first things I ever made.  I started sewing not quite a year ago.  My son, Max has pretty short legs, so I bought a sewing machine so I could hem his ridiculously long pants.  So last year around Thanksgiving, I started on this journey.  You see, I really didn't even know how to sew.

By January I thought I was ready to try a quilt.  It actually came out quite well.  It's ironic that such an old fashioned art, like quilting and sewing, could be taught through modern methods.  I watched clip after clip on youtube and read blog after blog on tutorials.  One of my favorite teachers was Jenny at MISSOURI STAR QUILT COMPANY.  Another was Care at OBSESSIVELY STITCHING.  I learned how to thread the machine, sew and then quilt.  There is so much information out there that it made sewing...and making this quilt easy!

I didn't even know enough to buy actual quilting materials.  The quilt back and red sashing is an old red sheet.  The small blue setting squares and boarder are another old chambray sheet.  You can see from this picture that the "batting" I used is actually an old leopard print blanket.  The I-Spy squares mostly came from an I-Spy swap.  That's another great tradition that has gone modern through the internet!  You buy 10 I-Spy fabrics, mail 10 4" squares of each to your host and....Voila!  You have 100 different I-Spy squares to choose from!

I used a TUTORIAL from Care at Obsessively Stitching for a Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt: I-Spy Version.  I used ANOTHER TUTORIAL from Jenny at Missouri Star for the quilt as you go method.  The combination of both of these made my first quilt quick and easy.  Cutting out took a about an hour one day...the subsequent cutting, sewing and putting together took about another 5 hours on another day.  Instead of binding, I just folded the back over and sewed it on. 

I have many more plans for I-Spy quilts just like this one!  I have cut out another boy and 2 girl and versions and just need to put them together.  I'm not sure that using the quilt as you go method is actually easier.  I've made 4 other quilts and I'm still trying to decide.which way works best.  I will say that the disappearing 9 patch method does give you the most bang for your buck!

So here is the finished product and a sleeping kiddo.  I hope you enjoyed my journey from novice to quilter.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Placemats

 Don't have Halloween decor at your house?  Why not make yourself some Halloween Place Mats?

Recently I made some of these Halloween Place Mats.  It was super easy...anyone can do it!

You'll need assorted Halloween fabrics, sewing machine, thread, some sort of batting/interfacing.

I had a bunch of Halloween I-Spy squares, so I started with these.

Find a place mat you like the size of to use as a template, then sew together your fabrics.

Once your front is sewn, cut your back to about the same size. Place RIGHT sides together and sew around 3 1/4 sides.  Now turn inside out, add your batting (I used the stuffing out an old office chair...I'm all about repurposing!) and close your 4th side.  Quilt if you like. 

I quilted one set that I gave my sister and the other set (for baby Cooper and his parents) I just ironed to set the batting in place.

These are super easy and easily add a festive feeling to your house!  Enjoy!!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sticky Lemon Chicken

For those of you who have talked to me in the past few months, you're most likely aware that I have a new favorite dish...Sticky Lemon Chicken!  This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe and according to him (and I can't argue) it's F**cking Delicious!  Who would have thought that soy sauce, red wine vinegar, lemon and honey would make the best sauce I've ever tasted!

You'll need Chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts) soy sauce, red wine vinegar, lemons, honey, thyme and a little olive oil.  I had lemon flavored olive oil so I used that for a very tasty lemon flavor!

I start with the olive oil and boneless skinless breasts (dusted in flour) in a hot pan.

Brown chicken on both sides, drain out a bit of oil, add soy sauce, red wine vinegar, thyme, juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup of water and top with the slices of one lemon.  Cook about 15 minutes, add honey and you're done.  The most amazing and easy chicken dish!

Click on this Gordon Ramsay Clip to see how easy it really is!  I hope you try this dish.  Let me know if you like it as much as we do!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making Pizza With Max

Who doesn't love pizza?  Max is a particular fan of all things pizza.  As a matter of fact, I believe that "pizza" was Max's first sight word.  We were out and about one day when Max was about 4 and he pointed at a Pizza place and said, "Pizza."  It wasn't our usual place and we had never been there before. 

Here is a pizza we made over the weekend.

I had just made the mother lode of spicy tomato sauce (adapted recipe from book in the photo) and it makes a great base for the pizza! 

I made up a batch of dough using my kitchen aid mixer.  It's super easy....flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil.  Max is rolling out the dough.  This is generally his favorite part of the process.

Give it a taste...just to make sure it's not sugar cookie dough...haha!

Here we are shaping it to fit in the pan.

Here, mommy!  Ok...I wasn't ready.  You need to think quick on your feet when cooking with Max!

Let's put the dough in the parchment paper lined pan.  Makes clean up easier and the pizza comes out very easily!

We spread the tomato sauce on, topped with cheese, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, yellow squash, red pepper and a little salami. 

We then baked in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  YUM!

Having your kids help you make a pizza is a great way to get them to eat veggies.  Max willingly ate spinach, tomatoes, squash, peppers, and mushrooms without any complaints.  He actually asked for more! 

Hope you enjoyed our pizza making....give it a try!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

So the end of the growing season is both a happy and a sad time.  I love eating fresh foods that we have grown ourselves.  There really is nothing better tasting that a home grown tomato.  Put that on a BLT with a little avo and it's a slice of heaven on earth!  When the branches of the plants are brown and the harvest is dwindling, this is the time to preserve.  Although it's called "canning" it really is "jarring" your bounty.  Here is an account of my tomato sauce. 

Start with tomatoes, onions, garlic, seasonings. 

Dice onions and garlic, cut tomatoes in about 4" to 6" pieces.  Cherry tomatoes can go in whole.  Cook for several hours until falling apart.

Remove any large pieces of skin floating on top with tongs.  (Please ignore the tomato splattered stove)

Using a hand blender puree until smooth.  The recipe I used from the Ball Canning Book says to strain the mixture to get out the seeds and skin.  As there's lots of fibre in the skin and the seeds hold lots of nutrients, I left them in. 

Fill jars leaving 1/2" headroom.

Be sure to wipe off any drips and put on the lid.

Process in a boiling water bath for about 40 minutes with the lid on.

Voila!!!  You have fabulous tasting sauce for the Fall and Winter months!!

We had a little left over sauce, so I made up a dish for lunch.  I roasted some giant zucchini in the oven, added some salami, fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella.  Wonderful!

Canning (jarring...haha) really is easy.  You can only use the water method on high acid foods like pickles (later this week) or fruits.  Other veggies require a pressure cooker, which I do not own.  I hope you enjoyed my tomatoes as much as I did!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Family Camp in Big Bear

We just got back from Our Family Camp in Big Bear, California.  What an AMAZING experience!  There were families from Ventura County to San Diego and all places in between.  What was unique about this camp is that each family had a child with Down syndrome.  The kids ranged in age from 2 years old to teens....and there was fun stuff to do for all ages!  Marissa and her husband, Dave started the camp three years ago and it keeps growing every year!

(Look how dirty Max was after 5 minutes at camp!)

There were several sleeping options from tents to dorms.  Out of the 140 folks participating, most seemed to opt for the dorms.  Our family was one of 6 families that brought our own tent.  My son, Max, absolutely LOVES sleeping in the tent!  The camp also offers 3 sided cabins, which were not too popular with our group.  All food was included as well.

This was our campsite :-)

Brandon, Bella and Max (with hubby) had a lot of fun blowing bubbles!

Max loved riding on "Big Red" who spends half the year at Camp Oaks and the other half as a Polo Pony in Santa Barbara. 

Max also loved the boats...the life jacket had to go, though! 

Max testing out one of the ropes on the "Low Ropes" course.

Larry exploring the camp...he gives it a thumbs up!

We spent every afternoon in the pool.  Much to Max's disappointment, the pool was not open in the mornings.  It was pretty cold...even heated the water was in the mid-70's.

We liked the canoes so much we did them on both Saturday and Sunday!

Of all the activities, the piano in the lodge was one of the most are John, Sevilla and Max playing a number for the crowd!

Max with his pal Brandon (and Larry) on the way to the big campfire!

Family picture by the "lake."

There were all sorts of activities....we were just too busy having fun to take more pictures!  .We did a hay ride across the camp, swimming, hiking and participated in the camp fire.  The camp offered a climbing wall, archery and riffle range, but they were quite a walk for Max.  Although we were right next to the craft cabin, we never made it over there either.

We will most definitely be going back next year.  It was so great to meet  all of the kids and their parents.  It was more fun to participate in the activities as a family...with other families who have a shared experience.

Here are the 2011 campers!  Max is on Larry's shoulders in a lime green shirt.

Hope you enjoyed reading about Family Camp....we sure had fun participating!!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Special Surfers Day at The Beach-La Jolla, CA

Every year the WindanSea Surf Club puts on an amazing event--The Special Surfers Day at the Beach.  This year we took Max and we're so glad we was an amazing experience!  Although it was our first year, we were greeted as old friends.  It is a very laid back atmosphere...what else would you expect from San Diego surfers..haha!
Max was so excited that he charged right into the water!  I went in (yes, fully clothed!) with him because he was on a mission.  Some experts soon took over.  They got Max on a board right away to get him acclimated to surfing.

Max's first ride...and he's off!

Wow...I'm doing it! 

Hold on!

Wipe out!

That was sooooo fun!

We tried to get a picture of Max and Tori surfing together.  This was as close as we could get.  The Williamsons were one of the first families we met when we moved to San Diego.  It's been a treat to see Tori grow over the years...and she's a natural on the surfboard!  That's mom Rachel with Tori and a nice volunteer with Max.

Another great volunteer took up with Max.  Max is always finding the good lookin' ladies to help him out!  He decided that he much preferred riding the waves while sitting indian that's how he rolled for the rest of the day!

Mommy finally went and put on her suit so we could catch a few rides together!

Overall, we had a fantastic day!  Thank you so much to the folks at the Windansea Surf club!