Monday, November 28, 2016

A Fun & Easy Quilty Gift and Cookies!


And it has begun ~ Christmas gift making and baking is underway!

Today I'm going to share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe and a fun little quilty project you can make for your friends.

Christmas Cookies 2013



Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the food - especially baking; the time with family, the decorations and most of all the celebration of my Savior's birth. Normally I begin baking about two weeks before the big day and use my freezer (or if it's cold enough - the workbench in the garage) to store the goodies until I make up gift trays and baskets to share with family and friends a few days before Christmas.  

I make several different kinds and many are old family recipes that my mother made when I was a kid and one is my grandmothers Chewy Ginger Molasses cookies which I will share below.  One year I even kept track of the stats:  16# of butter 14# of flour and after that I was too depressed to add in the amount of sugar.  The count ended up at 120 dozen.  95% of which were given away, donated to a cookie walk where my sister Em lived and the rest eaten by my husband and me 😊😊😊


 We had a bit of a letdown this Thanksgiving weekend and our plans to travel to Nebraska to be with the family were cancelled when the ski racer (aka: husband) came down with a nasty bug.  We didn't want to infect everyone so we decided the best choice was to stay home.  It was hard.  We don't get to all be in the same place at one time so I admit to being a little depressed.
Plus my nephew and his darling wife just had a baby girl and she was to be baptized on Sunday and we were going to miss that too which made me very sad. (Isn't she just the most beautiful baby?  I love her already and we haven't even met yet!)  Add in missing the newly engaged niece and wedding dress shopping (thankfully she was texting me some pics from the bridal salon - OMW there is one dress I loved!) and you can see why I was in a funk.  Plus we had no fresh food in the fridge and no turkey for Thanksgiving since I had not planned on cooking.  I managed to make Chicken soup from what I had in the freezer along with a loaf of homemade bread and that was our dinner on Thanksgiving, which the uber sick ski racer loved. It was a pretty low key day for sure.


I decided the best thing was to work on some sewing/quilting projects to take my mind off what we were missing. 

I needed to make 22 of "something" for a group I belong to and this was my criteria:  needs to be:  1) Cute 2) Easy to make 3) Made from stuff I already have in the house 4) Useful.  Hmmmmm! 

Mug Rug to the rescue!


Supplies Needed for each mug rug:

Cute fabric:   one 4.5" x 4.5" square
Coordinating fabric:  two rectangles cut 4.5" x 1.5" and two rectangles cut  6.5" x 1.5"
Batting:  one square of cotton batting cut 6 1/8" x 6 1/8"
Backing: one square 6.5" x 6.5"
Ric Rack:  one package of large size in coordinating color (approximately 26 inches - one package will do 3 mug rugs)
Scrap of Wonder Under


Sewing Steps.It's pretty simple.  You start with the center square and add the rectangles on each side, pressing between each addition. 

 
















 
Next we need to round the corners of the block we just made.  This is important if you are adding the ric rack.  It will turn nicely around the corners and if you left them square....well I wouldn't want to tackle that.  I have this vintage drafting tool I snagged at an estate sale a few years ago and it makes quick work of marking the corners.  If you don't have this kind of tool a large spool of thread works too.


All four corners are marked and I just trim on the line using scissors


Now we add the ric rack.  You can see that I just line up the edge of the ric rack with the outside edge of the block and sew using a 1/4" seam.  When you get to the start/end spot just pull the ends off at an angle so they are outside the seam allowance area as shown in the photo below.



 

 

Grab your backing square and place it right sides together on top of your block with the ric rack.  Pin and leave about 2.5" open for turning.  I like to sew from the block side and just sew inside the seam line for the ric rack - that way I know my non matching thread won't show when I turn the block right side out. I sew the backing on first and then I add the batting sewing around the edge again.  Seems like an extra step perhaps but I like the precision of being able to see the line I sewed the ric rack on and if the batting is there I cannot as it is covered.  I like to add the batting on the same side as the block as shown below so the batting seam allowance is not facing the block when turned.  Crazy logic I know, but trust me.


Be sure to leave your batting square square.  You will trim it up later after you have sewn all three layers together.  You will notice that the batting square is cut just a tad bigger than the seam you sewed - this is to cut down on bulk and eliminate the step of trimming it after sewing which is tricky and time consuming.  If you catch nothing else but the corners it is OK. I sew with the batting up, using my 1/4 foot on the edge of the block (turquoise fabric here) and I find that you can snag a little of the batting in the seam as you sew you will be fine.

 



After the three pieces are sewn you need to do some trimming.  You trim the corners to match the block and I also trim away as much of the batting in the corner as I can so it turns easier.  Also you need to clip the seam allowance to minimize bulk at the corners as shown below.  Take care not to cut the seam.


Next up is a little trick to make it easier after your turn the rug inside out.  Grab your Wonder Under fusible web and cut a strip a little longer than your opening and about a 1/2" wide. Press back the seam allowance along the opening.  Lay the strip of Wonder Under along the open edge and over the seam allowance and press the strip along the edge as shown.  When cool, remove the paper backing and turn right side out.  You can use a chopstick or other turning tool to get the corners turned properly and I also find it helps to tug on the ric rack to pull the seam allowance into submission. 
 

Once you have it turned and all the corners look nice you can press the rug, taking care to match up the opening so it looks like a completely sewn seam. 

I decided since the fabric was sew cute that it didn't need much in the way of stitching so I just did two rows - once in the border near the edge and the second in the "ditch" of the center square. 

There you have it - a super cute and easy gift that would be perfect for anyone! 



By this time you are probably wondering about those cookies......

 

Grandma's Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies


 Ingredients:


4 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/2 c. butter, room temp
2 c. white sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 c. molasses 
White sugar for rolling


 
Preheat oven to 350 °.  Sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
 
In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and well mixed.  Add eggs and beat till combined; add water and molasses.  Mix well.  Gradually add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Using a 1" cookie scoop make a "ball" and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet or tray.  Place in fridge for about 30 - 45 minutes to firm up.  Once firm roll each ball in white sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2" apart.  They spread.  
 
Bake for 8 minutes in preheated oven, turning sheets at halfway mark. Do not over bake.  Allow cookies to cool on pans for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.  Store in airtight container.  
 
Can be frozen for a few weeks without losing their chewy texture, just be sure container is sealed well.  These ship well (if they last that long) and are always a hit at cookie exchanges.  If you want to skip the rolling in sugar bit you can add a white chocolate disk to the center of each cookie right out of the oven and let melt while cooling and then spread like frosting.  Personally I prefer the sugared version.  Makes 8+ dozen 2 1/2" cookies.


Make a few mug rugs, a batch of cookies and spread some love among your friends - they will have to supply the cup of coffee thoughEnjoy! 
 

Blessings to you and yours during this season of Advent,

Linda T.

 







Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Virtual Book Tour ~ Pat Sloan

Teach Me to Machine Quilt!

 

Hey peeps just wanted to let 

you in on some fun.    

 

My friend Pat Sloan has a new book that just hit the streets "Teach Me To Machine Quilt" and you can enter to win a free copy as well as some other fun quilty stuff.  Here is a link to her blog where you can enter to win:  http://blog.patsloan.com/pats-mega-fun-book-tour/ check it out!


 

Many of you know I have been teaching machine quilting both on longarm and on domestic machines for nearly 30 years and this is the perfect book for beginners who have never machine quilted or if you struggle with your machine quilting.  There is a lot of information on not only how to, but also batting, thread, needles and even some fun projects for you to try the different techniques on.

 

Project Alert!   

 

Toward the back of the book Pat includes lots of projects from simple table runners to wall quilts to larger throw quilts and even a darling bed quilt.  Some pieced, some scrappy, some applique and there is something for everyone. 


Here is a simple quilted table runner that would be perfect for the upcoming holidays - do it in fun Christmas prints and since it won't take any time at all you can give it to your friends, your hairdresser or anyone you need a quick gift for. 

 If you have a bit more time this darling "Mini Charm Star" quilt is a fun option.  I love the scrappy look of this one and it would look nice on the wall as shown here or even on your table. 
Lastly my favorite quick project in the book is this darling "Dresden Candy Dish" which gives you a chance to show off your newly discovered machine quilting skills in the "white space" around the block and use up some of your scraps since the blades are pieced and the best part, you only have to make one! 
What's not to love about a Dresden right?


So don't forget to enter the drawing for your chance to win the book but also some fun quilty stuff.

Until next time, may your week be full of  blessings from above.

kind regards,


Linda