Monday, November 28, 2011


We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year!  Much different than our celebration last year, we spent this year with our family.

I got to make a few appetizers to bring to the party so I chose potato skins, spinach artichoke dip and bruschetta.
The potato skins are another Simply Recipes favorite of mine.

Spinach Artichoke dip made in the crockpot is super simple.  Tip: buy bulk spinach instead of boxed spinach, it's about half the price! 

A nice simple bruschetta via Tasty Kitchen!

The appetizer table.

One carved turkey

Lots of bread and delicious homemade strawberry jelly!

Side dishes galore made by my mom and grandmother

Stuffing straight from the bird!

Brussels sprouts for dinner too, these are fantastic!

Poking around having some fun.

Sitting around watching football and chatting!

There were also lots of pretty decorations up. 

Beautiful chandelier.

Tasty tasty fruit (not really, it's fake)

There were lots of great desserts, but somehow I forgot to take pictures of the desserts; we were probably too busy eating them up!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jersey Bracelets

Reusing my old knit shirts from Saudi to make jersey bracelets was on my inspiration board of projects for post-Saudi life.  These were fun to make and a cute, casual way to spruce up outfits.

I followed the tutorial from V and Co, but I highly recommend checking out the video she made to go along with it because the written directions were a smidge confusing.

I wasn't super happy with my first attempt to tie them closed but I redid it to pull the ends together better and I think they look much better.

First attempt

Second attempt tying them, much better.

If you don't already have knit shirts to cut up, I would recommend buying jersey knit fabric and as a benefit you won't have the seam showing from the shirt strips.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crafting Frenzy: Rice Heating Pad

As part of my post quilt crafting frenzy, I made four new projects and the most ingenious one was this rice heating pad.  I've been pondering solutions to my cold feet and thought about buying moccasins to help keep my feet warm during the day, but I also wanted a way to keep my toes warm at night too.  An electric blanket also crossed my mind, but they're a bit expensive turns out.

When I stumbled across this rice pillow tutorial by wisecraft I had a huge duh moment.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of this on my own.

I used an old top sheet and a piece of scrap fabric to whip up a little 9" x 6 1/2" rice filled heating pad.  I also got to use a different stitch length on my sewing machine.  I used one of the finest stitch lengths on the inside shell to keep the rice from coming out.

I've used it every night since I made it and not only does it work like a charm, the warm rice smells lovely too!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cute Easy Halloween Decor

I’m not much of an autumn lover and that’s especially true this year because I’m constantly freezing!  I did manage to get a few Halloween decorations put up around the apartment before November showed up, although barely.

I tried to stick with a few simple ideas that wouldn’t be too hard or costly, so I made pumpkin bunting and some orange and black zig zag streamers (a la Oh Happy Day!).  I used cardstock for the streamers, and I think they might have stretched better with regular paper instead.

We also got a pumpkin from the farmer’s market, but we didn't do anything with it. I wanted to try painting it instead, kind of like these two, but it just never happened.  It might just happen yet, since it won't decompose nearly as quickly as carved pumpkins do and we don't seem to have pumpkin smashers around the neighborhood.

Sadly, we only had one trick or treater this year, and that's only because they ran into Steve as he was coming home and he told them we had candy to hand out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My First Quilt

I have a habit of starting new big crafts during unreasonable times, like when I decided to learn to knit during finals freshman year.  Or when I decided to loom knit a blanket (still sadly unfinished).  After admiring several quilts online and having no sewing access in Saudi, I wanted to make my own.  I don't have a lot of sewing experience with most of it revolving around pillow making and hemming pants.

Since I had very little idea what to do, I found this great quilting series by Diary of a Quilter and diligently read each step.  Quilting seems like it requires more accuracy and patience than I normally have in my sewing projects, but I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal.

I wish step one was a trip to the fabric store, but planning the quilt was definitely the hardest step.  I already had batting rescued from mom's house during a goodwill frenzy so I based the quilt front on the batting size.

I decided to use a 3" boarder and 4" blocks, which worked out beautifully to be 16 x 11 blocks.  Originally, I thought the fabric I had to choose from would be 54" wide but it turns out the fabric I wanted were only 43" wide so I had to do some frantic recalculations at Joann’s.  The planning and my visual spatial skills were getting overwhelmed so I simplified it with an Excel spreadsheet!

Next up was a trip to Joann’s for fabric and gleefully, they were having a huge sale.  I ended up buying eight fabrics at 1/4 yard each, 2 fat quarters, and 3 3/4 yards for the back and boarder fabric.  All the fabric I got was 30% off so I ended up spending less than $30 total.

Fabrics for the quilt

Not having a set schedule always quickly degrades my sleeping and I end up with a nasty 3 am to noon sleep schedule so I have a lot of quiet time for working while Steve sleeps.  Ironing all of my new fabric was a cathartic way to fill that time; there's something very soothing about the sharp, crispiness of ironed fabric.

With all the fabric ironed and ready to cut, I promptly put everything aside and did nothing for a week.  After planning everything and getting all the pretty fabric ready, cutting into it seemed daunting and intimidating.

I managed to only mess up one block too badly although the first fabric I cut wasn't as good as the later ones.  I need a better ruler if I'm going to keep doing this because the one I have wasn't the best option possible.
176 blocks cut and ready to lay out for the quilt top.

Laying out the blocks and rearranging them was also pretty easy though I did have to monopolize most of the living room to do it.
Each row of blocks stacked up ready to sew.  I numbered each row to keep them in the right order.

This is my sewing machine; it's a 1975 Singer 360 Fashionmate and it's awesome, although I think the bobbin winder is going to need replaced soon.

Algebra likes to "help" aka sit on everything and bat at the thread.

Sewing each row together

All the rows sewed and waiting to become a quilt top.

I originally planned on a 2" boarder but tried to switch to a 4" boarder because I had enough extra fabric and it seemed a bit too narrow, but it made the quilt too wide.  I narrowed it down to 3", which looked great.

Finished quilt top

My quilt pieces ready to baste and quilt!

I thought it would take a lot more time and effort to do all of this, but in the end it only took about 4 seasons of Psych and a few Stuff You Missed In History Class podcasts to get me through the whole thing, which now that I look at it is about 50 hours of work.  I guess this week my full time job was quilt maker!

My next steps are basting and quilting, but I'm a bit stuck.  Either I need to commit to hand quilting it or get a walking foot for my sewing machine so I can machine quilt it.  Hand quilting, while impressive just seems like more work than I'm willing to devote and waiting to get a walking foot sort of stinks.  I'm pretty sure my grandmother has a walking foot I can use so until I get it I'll have to wait and work on other projects.