Quilting: Show and Tell

My goodness it’s been a while since my last post. I have been so busy with new projects. You know what they say, time does fly when you’re having fun. I decided to do a little show and tell of what I have been doing since my last post. I dusted off my sewing machine and got creative at quilting. Ever since I started watching Jenny Doan’s  quilting tutorials from Missouri Star Quilting Co. (MSQC’s) I have been inspired to learn more quilting techniques. Needless-to-say, my quilt bucket-list is full of quilting projects.

Many of my favorite quilting projects includes needle turn applique in the design. My latest needle turn applique project was inspired by the McCall’s Quilt Along series featuring Erin Russek ‘s applique pattern called Fancy Flowers. I really enjoyed appliqueing this project. The pattern is a great one to learn several needle turn applique techniques. The design has straight lines, points, inner curves, and outer curves. Of course, the prep work is very important to achieving perfect applique stitches. I have found there are many resources for the beginner to learn the art of needle turn applique. For example, there are many books and  YouTube has  tutorials; my favorites are Erin Russek and Jan Patick.


Prep work.



I love the fussy cut butterflies in the center of the flowers.


McCalls Quilt Along

It’s ready for quilting.

Besides learning needle turn applique, I have made a few lap quilts and now I have step outside the comfort zone and started piecing a larger size (70″ x 70″) quilt called Twilight Stars, a Cheryl Wall Pattern. This quilt  will be a gift to a special young lady so I will hold off on the details until I send the quilt to her this summer.


A sneak peak of my quilting project. I love those stars.

Cooking for Diabetics: Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam Topping

Strawberry Jam

A perfect 4th of July desert topping.

The 4th  of July is a couple of days away, and most families will celebrate Independence Day grilling, barbecuing, sampling some awesome deserts and lighting the sky with fireworks. The holiday also creates challenges for diabetics which is resisting the temptation of holiday sweets. For this reason, I am always looking for diabetic friendly recipes for Randy, my better-half. I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this sugar-free strawberry jam recipe on Taste of Home, original recipe by Rita Christ of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. We tested the jam recipe on sugar-free short cake and sugar-free ice cream. It was delicious, and it was so easy to make. Oh course you can serve the jam on toast or just about anything you desire. You be the judge. Make a batch and share your thoughts. You are going to need 3 key ingredients and a container. Take a look.


¾ Cup of diet lemon-lime soda (I used Sprit Zero)

1 Package (.3 ounce) Sugar-free strawberry gelatin


Fresh strawberries

1 Cup mashed fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries

1-1/2 Teaspoons lemon juice

1 Pint or 12oz  jar with lid or plastic container


Prepare strawberries and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring soda to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly stir in gelatin until dissolved. Add strawberries and lemon juice. Pour into a canning jar, or if preferred a plastic container. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerate. Yields: about 28 servings give or take. Hint: If you use frozen strawberries, drain the juices after thawing the strawberries. Extra liquid could hinder the gel process.

Diabetic exchanges: 1 Free Food.

DIY: Quick And Easy Way to Make A Sundress

DIY SundressI love DIY projects, especially when they are successful. I did not plan my latest DIY project. Perhaps this is why it worked; I did not have time to over-think it. Anyway, a few months ago I purchased a cotton skirt at a local thrift store.  I love the beautiful blue floral print. The skirt had side seams with in-seam pockets, an elastic waist band, and a layered hem. Although I was not sure what I was going to do with it, I knew it was plenty fabric for any type of sewing project. Well yesterday, I finally gathered the courage to cut this skirt and repurpose it into a sundress for my daughter. I wished I had created a photo journal of the project; it would have made it easier to describe.  Nonetheless, this is what I did.

First, (after I washed and ironed the skirt) I removed the waistband and the in-seam pockets. Then I used one of my tank tops (as a pattern) to trace armholes where the pockets use to be.

Waistband and pockets

Waistband and pockets

To cut the armholes, I recommend folding the skirt in half; this way both armholes will be symmetrical.

Next, make a casing (for 1/4 inch elastic) at the top of the skirt for the front and back. You can also sew on some lace; follow the same stitch used for the casing.

Insert 1/4 elastic in the casing, careful to secure the elastic with a safety pin, (just saying) until you are ready to sew.

Finally, I added bias tape to the unfinished edges of the armholes, making the bias tape long enough to use as ties. The ties can be used to adjust the dress length. I will shorten the ties a little after my daughter tries on the dress and the length can be determined. Like magic, the skirt is now a size medium sundress.

This was a fun and easy DIY project; it took no time to make. Next time, I will “attempt” make my own bias tape and perhaps add pockets or make shoulder straps instead of ties. In case you are wondering, I did not discard the pockets or the elastic waistband. I am sure they can be repurposed into another project.  I am pleased with the outcome, and I think my daughter will love it too.

Peach Coffee Cake with Vanilla Icing

Peach Coffee CakeI could not resist purchasing some fresh peaches yesterday and as luck would have it, the weather was cooler this morning compared to the last few days, which made it a perfect time to bake a peach coffee cake.

It is believed that coffee cake originated during the 17th century and introduced to America by immigrant settlers. Most family recipes were passed down from one generation to the next; with each generation putting their own spin on the recipe by adding fruit, sour cream, or other delicious toppings. Personally, I think the spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon makes the cake a genuine coffee cake. Researching the history, I learned that the cake was more like bread typically made with yeast. However, there are different opinions as to whether the coffee cake should be dense or light and crumbly. I suppose it is a matter of preference.

This is a terrific recipe to make when entertaining guests, take to a church function, give as a gift, or whatever you choose. The smell was delightful with the aroma of brown sugar, cinnamon, and peaches lingering throughout the house. The prep time took about 30 minutes and about one hour to bake. It will last about two weeks in a sealed container. Although the original recipe did not require well-ripe peaches, I decided (after testing the recipe) that using well-ripe peaches would be better, or you could pre-cook the peaches until they are tender. I do not recommend frozen or canned peaches unless you remove all the liquid as the liquid could make the cake soggy. All-in-all I am pleased with the recipe. I will add this recipe my favorite recipe journal.


Peach topping ingredients

4 cups of diced peaches (5 or 6 large well-ripe peaches)
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1-1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
4 tbsp. flour


Wash, peel and dice the peaches. In a large bowl, mix diced peaches, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Set aside. Follow the instructions for cake batter ingredients.

Cake batter ingredients

2 large eggs
4 tbsp. butter
1-1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda


Step 1 – Prepare 9 inch springform cake pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.
Step 2 – In a small bowl beat eggs.
Step 3 – In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and sour cream or yogurt. Add eggs, and mix well. Set aside.
Step 4 – In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar.
Step 5 – Combine dry ingredients in with the liquid ingredients. Do not over mix. Pour into springform pan. Gently spread the mixture evenly in the pan.
Step 6 – Add the previously made peach topping, gently spread the topping evenly on the cake mix.
Step 7 – Bake in a preheated oven for 50 – 60 minutes. (Make the icing while the cake is baking)
Is it done? Test by inserting a butter knife in the cake. If the knife comes out clean, your cake is done.

Icing ingredients

1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup powder sugar
*3-6 tsp. heavy cream


In a small bowl, mix butter, vanilla, and powder sugar. *Add heavy cream until you reach the desired texture. Hint: you want to drizzle the icing on the cake; therefore the texture should be creamy. Set the icing aside until the cake is done.  Cool cake to warm to touch and drizzle icing on the cake. Let cake cool completely before removing the spring-form pan. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8 – 10 (small to medium slices)

Canning Blackberry Jam

Suzy Mathews:

Time to share the blackberry jam recipe again.

Originally posted on Everything But The Kitchen Sink:

I like simple recipes and lately I have tried a few recipes that really deserve mentioning. Life can be complicated enough without adding to the mix. So when I find an easy recipe everyone likes I add it to my favorite recipes list. Blackberry season is in full swing here in Northwest Arkansas. This year I decided to can a few jars of jam. Canning is not something I do often, so I am off to Pinterest (my newest hangout) to search for an easy recipe. The recipe I was searching for needed to be low in sugar and of course easy to make. With a few key words and a couple clicks I found the recipe, it was easy to make. So easy that (with my lack of expertise making jams) if I can do this, anyone can. The best way to begin is to read directions carefully.For this recipe…

View original 690 more words

Rose of Sharon

Rose of SharonRose of Sharon 1

Before heading off to work yesterday morning, Randy and I took a walk around the back yard. We noticed our Rose of Sharon is in full bloom. As we got closer to the shrub we could hear the bees buzzing happily. Not missing an opportunity to practice his photography skills, Randy snap some photos using a Nikon wide angle lens. The Rose of Sharon also known as a Hibiscus syriacus, is easy to grow and an ideal shrub for the garden, because the flowers attract the bees needed for garden pollination. These hardy shrubs can get as tall as 8 to 12 feet and they do multiple quickly, so you may need to transplant the new growth. They do well in full sun and light shaded areas. The flowering shrubs come in a variety of colors; we have white and purple.

The Bird Watcher


On occasion, our backyard is frequented by wild animals such as deer, ground hogs, possums, and of course birds. While we do not intentionally feed the animals, some never miss an opportunity to sneak a morsel of our cat’s food. Sometimes we are prepared to snap a few photos during their visit. On such a day, Randy watched a blue jay feasting on the cat food. With camera in hand, Randy photographed the feasting in action.

Sausage Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls

Sausage Cream Cheese Crescent RollsI remember the kitchen (particularly during the holidays) being the social gathering place; with what seemed like a hundred conversations going on at once. The aroma of fresh dinner rolls, breads, pies, and a host of other wonderful foods lingered throughout the house. The children (me included) would sit at the kids table while the adults continued their conversations and ate at the “grown-up” table. Time has a funny way of changing what use to be. Some family members have passed, but not forgotten. Families grow; their lives become busy, and some have relocated to different parts of the U.S., making it a challenge to have many kitchen gatherings.  Even so, the cooking has not stopped and with social media (Facebook); we continue to share and collect a few old and new favorite recipes, which we added to a cookbook. I plan to add more recipes to this cookbook in hopes they will be enjoyed by generations to come. A recipe I plan to add to this book is a Sausage – Cream Cheese Crescent Roll recipe. These are wonderful to serve to your family for breakfast, or to serve to your guest at your next social gathering.

Sausage Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls


2 (12 oz.) cans Big Buttery Crescent Rolls

1 (16 oz.) Jimmy Dean Sausage (I used mild flavor)

1 cup chopped onions

1 (8 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese

3 tbs. French onion dip

2 tbs. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

1 tsp. Black pepper

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown sausage and sauté onions, drain any grease. In medium size bowl mix together (until creamy) cream cheese, French onion dip, ranch dressing mix, and pepper. Stir in meat mixture (mix well), and salt to taste.

Unroll crescent dough; spread a thin layer of cream cheese/meat mixture, and roll the crescent dough according to the directions on the package. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Best served warm. Serves 16

Adding Wow Flavor to a Bisquick Recipe

Ranch, Bacon Cheesburger Pie

Experimenting in the kitchen this evening I decided to perk up Bisquick’s Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie recipe. I added cooked, crispy bacon and Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning & Dressing mix. Wow! The flavor is delicious. I think we should name the recipe “Impossibly Ranch, Bacon Cheeseburger Pie.

Turning an old favorite into an Impossilby Ranch, Bacon Cheeseburger Pie


1  lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon salt (or less/optional)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 slices of bacon (low sodium, fully cooked, crispy. Break into small bits)

1 cup shredded marbled cheese

1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix

1 cup milk

2 eggs

2 teaspoon Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (Seasoning & Salad dressing mix)

Pre-heat the oven 400 degrees; spray 9” glass pie plate with cooking spray. In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in cooked bacon bits and salt. Spread meat mixture into the pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a wire whisk until blended. The mixture will be liquidity. Pour mixture over the meat and cheese mixture.

Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serves 6

Side dish suggestion: Tossed green salad

Raising backyard chickens: What you should know about cleaning the chicken coop

Mother Earth News_The Bird Droppings Disease

Image from Mother Earth News

If you raise chickens in your backyard then there are some things you should know about cleaning the chicken coop. To begin, recent events have me on a mission to share important information about the disease Histoplasmosis. Until this last spring, I have never heard of the disease and for those who are not aware; Histoplasmosis is caused by a mold spore (fungus) called Histoplasma capsulatum.  Soil containing chicken, bat, or bird droppings can create perfect conditions for the mold to grow. When the soil is disturbed the mold spores become airborne and if inhaled into the lungs it can cause severe respiratory stress and an infection that often mimics influenza; if untreated it can be fatal.  Health officials have advocated that chicken coops or chicken houses (where chickens roost) create perfect conditions for the mold spores to grow. Following the recommended precautions while you clean the chicken coop can reduce or prevent the contaminated dust from becoming airborne.

  • Always wear protective gear, such as a disposable face mask capable of filtering dust particles as small as two microns in diameter, protective clothing, rubber gloves, and disposable shoe coverings.
  • Never shovel a dry, dusty chicken coop. Instead wet the area with water. While water will not kill the mold, it will help keep the dust from becoming airborne.
  • Dispose of the used protective gear in a plastic trash bag. This will help prevent contamination in your home or any other area, such as your vehicle .
  • To protect the surrounding environment from possible contamination, you should consult with your state or local regulations before you dispose of waste or poultry litter.

In addition, any area where birds or bats roost (caves, trees, abandon buildings, and under bridges) should be an area of concern, specifically when these areas have been undisturbed for a period of time. Individuals with lung conditions, a comprised immune system, and children are most vulnerable, however the disease does not discriminated. Thus use caution while you clean the chicken coop.

Other Resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Mayo Clinic


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