Quilts are often thought of as daunting “I can’t do that” projects. But really they are not so bad and you only need the most basic sewing skills to do a patchwork quilt like this one. I’ve made several quilts for friends and have been planning for a while to make one for myself. I’m going to blog it as I go (so posts will be spaced apart). The supplies and steps will be based on each specific part of the tutorial.
Part I is incredibly easy. We are going to create a cardboard template to use for your triangle patches. You are going to want this to be as perfect as possible. If it is off even slightly it can skew the whole quilt. We will then use the template to cut out 420 triangles (for a queen size quilt).
10 yards of 44″ wide fabric (I would go with at least four different fabrics and feel free to just use scraps until you have enough squares)
1. Take you cardboard (I used a scrap from a box) and measure 8″ on a clean edge. Mark.
2. Use your triangle and ruler to create a perfect 8″ square based off of the clean edge.
3. Connect opposite corners to create two triangles and use your utility knife to cut.
4. Carefully trace the template onto the backside of the fabric and cut out.
5. Repeat 420 times
*hint* alternate to the second template half way through as it will start to wear after a while.
*hint hint* stack the triangles in piles of twenty to easily keep count
This is a summer tradition for our family. My grandmother boils down maple syrup from our cousin’s farm while little fingers and mouths wait anxiously over pans of snow. When I was a kid we would eat it until we were sick. Today we don’t give the kids that chance. I decided to try my hand at it for New Years Eve Brunch.
The snow is pretty important. It should be packed down icy snow (almost like slushy ice). If it’s to fluffy the hot syrup will sink right through it. One trick it wait until you have a few snows right in a row and dig down the first one. Another trick is to just use a slushy machine.
• 1 cup maple syrup (you’re going to need the real stuff)
• a tall pot
• small tupperware container of clean snow
• candy thermometer (optional)
• pan of clean snow
1. Bring the 1 cup of maple syrup to boil in a tall pot. It’s going to bubble up and you want to let it reach the “soft ball” stage. This is when it’s thick enough that it drizzles off the spoon, not drips. Or 230 degrees on a candy thermometer, around 20 minutes into boiling. Don’t let it go past this!
2. Test the “wax” on the small tupperware container of snow. When it’s ready it will firm up into a taffy like texture once it cools on the snow. Ideally you can stick a fork in it and swirl it around the prongs.
3. Once the tester passes pull the wax from the hot burner and drizzle onto the pan of snow. You should be able to get a couple rounds from one pan.
I love the differences in family traditions around the holidays. My friends Italian family has lasagna every Christmas while my friend in California fries up delicious tacos. In my family it’s Venison Roast. This is a slight modification on how my mother made it growing up. Her way was in a crock pot (which you could easily do with this recipe as well, just skip the braising).
Venison Roast cut
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 qt. beef stock
1 heavy beer
1 large white onion chopped
bunch of celery – clean and separate the leaves and chop 4 of the stalks
2 medium carrots chopped
handful of parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a dutch oven on the stove top with the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on high heat. Once hot place the roast in and braise each side for a minute or two. Venison dries out very easily and this will help keep the juices in. Remove the venison from the dutch oven, turn heat to medium and set aside. Throw all the chopped veggies in, mix, and let them heat cook for about five minutes. Place the roast back in and add 1 qt beef stock, heavy beer, and herbs. Put the lid on and place in the oven for one and a half hours or until roast is just cooked through.
Now Mark usually throws out all the mushy vegetables however this is one of my favorite parts. You can even throw a few potato wedges in there if you wish. Serve with buttermilk buscuits.
With all the hustle and bustle preparing for the holidays it can be hard to find a moment to sit down. Once the gifts are wrapped and the cookies are baked, why not take a moment to enjoy a quiet night at home before the festivities begin tomorrow. Here are some of my favorite ways to wind down during the busy holiday season.
- WATCH / White Christmas: One of my very favorite holiday movies. Nothing beat’s Bing Crosby’s rendition of White Christmas.
- LISTEN / She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas: I love classic Christmas albums, but if you are looking for something more ‘now’, try A Very She & Him Christmas.
- READ / Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris: Since Holidays on Ice is short stories, it’s easy to sit down and read one or two with a hot drink.
- BATH / Make Bath Teas: Or if you don’t have loose tea ingredients, why not just throw a few of your favorite spicy tea bags in the bath with you for an instant and inexpensive fragrant bath.
- INDULGE / DIY Mud Mask: With ingredients from a natural grocery store, you can make an indulgent face mask.
- NAILS / Tinsel Manicure: I’m terrible at nail art, but I would love to try this festive manicure.
- SAVORY / Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar: Try this grown up spin on a cold weather classic. Make sure to make them in oven safe mugs.
- SWEET / Easy Peppermint Bark: Quick and no need to be pretty. Use up some of the candy canes you have collected this season and make some decadent peppermint bark just for you.
- DRINK / Hot Buttered Bourbon: This sounds about as close to Butter Beer as it gets. Certainly indulgent and guaranteed to warm you from the inside out.
Making our Christmas card has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. It’s a chance to be as creative as I want with out all the pressure of like… a wedding invite let’s say. My pinterest is filled with tags used as stationary and I used that inspiration for this years card. I also stumbled upon this fabulous tutorial to guide me in printing on tags and this other wonderful tutorial to create pretty font effects in Photoshop. I replaced the white string on the original tag with striped bakers twine to make it more festive. I love that it can also double as an ornament!
I have a million recipes for sweets pinned on my Pinterest, and I had plans to make almost all of them this winter. But 1) Who has the time (or the money)? and 2) No one needs all of that butter. NO ONE. So I settled instead to make a simple and delicious Sugar Cookie recipe, which can be tweaked and edited and iced with whatever your heart desires…
You could also cheat, and buy pre-made sugar dough, and try some of the add ins and frosting ideas listed below. I won’t judge.
Easy Sugar Cookies:
recipe adapted from Christabel Martin
Makes approximately 36 Cookies (more or less depending on the size of cookie cutters you use)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (if you’re like me and you forget to take the butter out early, you can also grate it with a cheese grater and use immediately!)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until pale and fluffy, then add in the egg, beating until just combined. Sift in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Divide the mixture in two, shape the halves into disks, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour–this will make the sticky dough easier to roll out).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper for easier clean up, or skip if you don’t have any.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of parchment) to about 1/4inch thick. Cut the dough using cookie or biscuit cutters, re-rolling the scraps as you go. Be warned…the dough softens up quickly. You may need to add more flour to your work surface to keep the dough from sticking. Or put it back in the freezer for a few minutes to cool the dough back down.
- Place your cutouts on your prepared cookie sheets, approximately 1-1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until very lightly golden around the edges. For a crispier cookie, you can bake them for up to 12 minutes. Allow them to cool on the sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining cutouts. Let them cool completely before decorating.
- The cookies will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.
Easy add ins and and edits:
- Swap out the Vanilla Extract for Peppermint, Almond, Peppermint, or even Orange Flower Water
- If you add Orange Flower Water, also consider the zest of one orange added to the dough
- For Chocolate cookies, add in 2-3 TBS of cocoa powder
- Add in spices–such as cinnamon, ginger, or cardamon (start with 1/2 tsp and add more or less to taste)
- Add in nuts, chocolate chips, or chopped dried fruit–like dates, figs, cranberries or cherries–and drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake, rather than rolling them out.
Simple Sugar Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp hot water
- Add the three ingredients to a bowl and stir until smooth.
- Pipe, dip, or spread the frosting on the cookies
Easy Frosting and Glaze edits:
- Substitute lemon juice, lemon extract, almond extract, OR peppermint, for the vanilla extract
- OR Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 tsp and add in 1 1/2 TBS maple syrup with the hot water and confectioners’ sugar
- OR combine 1 TBS hot coffee with 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for a coffee glaze
- OR spread with a simple chocolate ganache (8 oz melted chocolate mixed with 8 oz heavy cream), or just melted chocolate, and sprinkle with sea salt
- OR Skip the glaze and use jam or nutella to frost the cookies, and make into sandwich cookies
- OR Sprinkle an additional 1/3 cup of sugar across the batch of cookies and gently press it into dough prior to baking, instead of frosting
- OR Dust confectioners’ sugar across the cookies once they are cool.