Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Doubts & Direction

When I started this blog a few months ago, I wasn't quite sure which direction I wanted to take it.  I knew I wanted to blog about those things I love: my family, sewing, decorating, cooking, child development, etc.  I also knew that I wanted to keep it real and keep my content authentic. The blogs I love best, are ones where the blogger shines through as someone that is inspiring, talented, and they make me want to come back again and again because I get to know them and their family. In short, they are a real person. I've been thinking a lot the past few weeks about where I want to take this blog this year.  One night I sat down with my husband and as we talked, I began to tell him about some frustrations I've had with blogging.  Mainly, I didn't know which direction I wanted to go (which 'tribe' I wanted to join), and my lack of progress in attracting an audience. I had three goals when I started this blog:
 1) To inspire others
2) To find a way to use my degree in some way besides being at home all day.
3) To find a way to bring in some sort of income without leaving home.
I told my husband that I felt like I was reaching none of these goals.  And I was reaching none of these goals because I let fear and doubts get in the way.  I am a person who always doubts myself.  My husband tells me that I am way too hard on myself and he is right.  I doubt my ability to be successful, make friends, be a good mom, be a good wife, be a good blogger, be a good preschool teacher, be a good cub scout leader, be beautiful enough, be talented enough, be creative enough...the list could go on forever. I often let fear paralyze me from becoming the person I know I can be. I let my doubts lead me to inaction.
So I set a simple goal for myself. 
It sounds simple, but for me its a mountain to climb.
 In part of learning to act, I have reflected quite a bit on what it is that I would like to focus this blog on. I came to two realizations:
1) In my spare time I am always browsing quilting blogs. Seriously. I love to sew.  Fabric kind of makes me giddy. Creating something beautiful out of a pile of fabric makes me happy. In college I did an internship in a fabric store...I never had a pay check because I spent it all on fabric. I've repeatedly told my mom and husband that I would be perfectly happy owning a little quilt shop. 
2) Secondly, I realized that this blog is very impersonal.  Gah! That's something I hate about blogs.  I hate it when posts are all about content and not at all about real life. It almost makes it a chore to read the blog. So its time to make this blog more real and less robotic...
Here's a picture of my kiddos last Sunday at church.  Well, in the bathroom at church :). My baby was making the cutest faces at himself in the mirror while his brother was washing his hands.  I tried to capture the pure joy he had when he saw himself in the mirror. Instead I caught him admiring his older brother. Precious. I stinking love these boys. Being a mom is the best job ever.

 So I'm the nerd that asked for fabric for Christmas. The husband was even kind enough to let me go pick it all out while he waited patiently outside the store with four rambunctious boys. I needed 18 fat quarters for my latest project and happened to hit a sale where it was buy two fat quarters, get one free.  I was pretty much ecstatic that I got a third of my fabric for free! I've been using it to make these blocks...

for my Swoon quilt. (Sorry for the blurry IG picture!)  There was a  Swoon-along hosted last year and I followed it, admiring all of the beautiful Swoon quilts, but was unable to participate. A few months ago, I saw the pattern at one of my favorite quilt shops and bought it on a whim. The pattern is by Thimble Blossoms, and the designer, Camille, is a friend of a friend, and one of the many quilting bloggers I follow. These blocks have been so much fun to put together, and I'm excited to get working on the rest of them.That is, when I can find time with so many little ones under my feet all day. In fact, sometimes I have to put Boy 1 to work, so I can get some work done! He's working hard at cutting 'block' for a quilt he wants to make for his "baby" (a stuffed bear he adores, but shh, don't let his other 7 year old friends know).

Yes, I realize he's holding the rotary cutter wrong, and yes, right after I snapped this picture I stopped him from cutting his thumb.:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

These biscuits are another favorite at our house.  My husband especially loves these and requests them all of the time.  They are great with soups, or as a quick alternative to rolls if you are short on time.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
4 T butter
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and garlic powder. Cut in the 4 tablespoons of butter with a pastry blender until butter is pea sized. Quickly stir in milk and cheese just until blended.  About 20 stirs.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. Brush with melted butter.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quilt Scrap Hot Pads

My baby has gotten to the point where he makes himself at home in my kitchen by crawling around and emptying drawers.  The other day he emptied the drawer I keep the bibs and hot pads in.  As I was putting everything away, I noticed my hot pads were getting pretty shabby looking. So I decided to whip up some new hot pads using quilt scraps and insul-brite.  The quilt scraps came from this half square triangle chevron quilt that I made for boy 4.

 When I was making this quilt, I made too many blocks, and had thrown the extras into my scrap drawer. Those blocks were the perfect size for this project, and it made me feel thrifty that I was finally using those blocks for something else.  These hot pads are super fast (and easy) to make. 

To make your hot pad you will need:

-quilt block (or fabric of your choice)
-insul-brite.  Regular batting won't work.  You need insul-brite to protect your hand from heat.
-backing fabric
-binding.  I used left over binding from the same quilt.

First, cut the insul-brite and backing fabric to the same size as your quilt block. Trim all sides so the hot pad is square.  Next, baste the pieces together using safety pins.  Then machine quilt as desired.  I decided to do straight line quilting.  After quilting, attach binding.  I attached my binding in the same way as this tutorial. Enjoy your new hot pad!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


These two robots joined our family this Christmas.  They took me a few late nights to cut out and sew, but it was definitely worth it. Boy 2 and boy 3 adore them, and they are already a must grab item for going to bed. 

I bought this Freddies Friends pattern at a local quilt shop about two years ago.

It was right before Christmas, and I was in the middle of making boy 2 and boy 3 quilts, and I thought it would be fun to make them each robots out of the left over fabric.  I didn't like how the robot pattern had raw edge seams so I decided to give the robot a more finished look and make the seams all inward facing. It turned out to be a disaster as it made it nearly impossible to stuff and then my seams started to rip apart. It was too close to Christmas for me to try again, so in frustration, I put the robot away in my sewing room and gave up. 
A few weeks ago, boy 2 found the half finished robot and begged me to finish making him.  I wasn't going to touch that thing again, so I told him I would make him a new one out of his favorite color: yellow.  Since boy 2 and boy 3 are so close in age, and have to have everything the same, I made boy 3 a robot out of his favorite color: blue.  This time I left the raw edge seams (even though the OCD person inside of me wants to scream that they don't look finished enough).  Also, I decided to give my robots only one antenna instead of the two the pattern calls for. I like them much better that way. Boy 1 liked the robots so much that he is now begging me to make him one out of his favorite color: green.  And since I'm going to pull the pattern out again, I think I'll make boy 4 one as well, even though he's still a baby and could care less.  Chances are in a year or two I'd have to make one for him anyway.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Aqua Hutch

I am so excited to show you the newest addition to the family! My husband and I just spent the last three days working our hearts out trying to get her refinished, and I am so pleased with the results. 

Cupboard space in my kitchen is very limited, and for quite some time I have been looking for something I could do to give myself some more storage.  Last summer my Grandmother passed away.  Shortly after her passing, I was talking with my dad and telling him that I had been looking at garage sales for a hutch to put in my dining room. He immediately told me that Grandma had quite a few hutches in her house and that he would make sure to get one, as part of his inheritance, to give to me.  A few weeks later, my aunt texted me pictures of all the hutches in the house, and I decided to go with this one. Yep, this is the original picture she texted me.  In my excitement to get her refinished, I forgot to take a before picture!

I was able to make a trip back home a few months later and see it in person.  This hutch had always been in Grandma and Grandpa's living room, but I hadn't paid too much attention to it before.  At first sight, the husband and I both agreed that the big brass pulls on the bottom had to go and we talked about taking all of the detailing on the bottom off. Since we had no way to bring it home with us, it sat in Idaho for another three months until my parents were able to bring it to me. 

This week we finally tore into her.

First, I gave her a good scrub down.  Next, we removed all of those lovely brass pulls and all of the hinges.  Then I put wood filler in all of the holes and sanded. After that, I taped all of the glass, because at this point, I hadn't realized that I could pop the gaskets off and take the glass out.  Lesson learned. 

Then (in the garage) my husband applied the primer.  We used Zinsser oil based primer, as recommended by Centsational Girl.  After it dried, we brought it into the house and I got to work painting. I figured since I was using the same paint I put on the wall in my bathroom, that it would be okay to paint inside with the back door popped open.

After reading quite a few tutorials on refinishing furniture, I decided to invest in some Floetrol and a good quality angled brush. Floetrol helps slow drying time so your paint will flatten out and you won't leave brush marks behind.

Then I painted and sanded.  And painted and sanded.  Then I got discouraged because it wasn't looking at all how I imagined.  Then I let it dry and started to get excited because it was actually looking nice!
After everything dried, we applied a new back to the top section.  My original plan was to use a piece of bead board left over from another project..  When it came time to put it on, it was two inches too short. I had the option of putting on a trim piece to hide the gap, or to go to the store and get another piece.  I ran over to Lowe's and bought a differnt kind of bead board that looks more like planking.  Also, I decided to run it horizontal instead of vertical.  I. Love. It.

Next, we attached the new knobs (also found at Lowe's) and I love that they have the same rope motif that is found underneath the crown molding of the hutch. At first, I really wanted to do glass knobs, but couldn't justify the $17 (each) price tag. I am so glad I decided to go with black knobs because I really like the contrast.

After spray painting some new hinges black, we put it all back together, and the husband and I sat down on the kitchen floor to admire our hard work.

I'm so glad we decided to keep the detailing on the bottom.  Its one of my favorite parts of the hutch.

Paint color is Almost Aqua by Glidden.