Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christmas in July

Do you all know what is 5 months to the day from today? CHRISTMAS!! It's the most wonderful time of the year! It is my favorite Holiday and I love every little thing about it! I wish I was more organized and would have thought to do a project to share for Christmas in July...but I did not. We'll just say my plate is full right now with lots of fun, new exciting things to come and hopefully share with you all soon!

But have no fear, I have found some fun things to share anyway ('Tis the Season and all). I have found some really neat projects (decorations, gifts, etc.) and even a quilt along. I encourage you to check it out and give it a's never to early to start for Christmas!

Christmas in July Blog Hop

Christmas in July Block-Thon

These ladies have collected some talented bloggers and enlisted their skills to share some fun and exciting projects. The best part...each one tells you how you can make it also! Yay!

Merry Christmas in July Ya'll!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Desserts for the Deserving

Last month I was reading the different blogs I follow and I was touched by "Desserts for the Deserving" by Amanda over at i am baker.

Desserts for the Deserving was established in 2011 with the sole purpose of bringing people joy.  It is a non profit movement where bloggers, bakers, crafters, and all forms of creative people offer up time and resources to bring strangers joy.

Who wouldn't love to receive a surprise something in the mail, from a complete stranger (in a total non creepy way)?! This girl would! So, I signed up and was matched with a lady from Kansas. Here is what I received:

The person I want to nominate is my mom. My grandma passed away from an intense fight with cancer two years ago yesterday(June 6th). She left behind my wonderful grandpa who is 95 and still lives on his own. During my grandma's cancer journey my mom made a 5 hour round trip drive to their house every week to spend 2 days while still working full time. After grandma passed away and grandpa did not want to move home with my parents, she has continued to make the same 2-3 day trip EVERY week while still working full time. On top of this she leads a bible study and teaches sunday school. So for about 3 years my mom has given up many days every year to help her parents. In the meantime my mom has missed many family events and sacrificed her free time that she could relax and have time for herself so that she can care for her parents. She is so giving and puts EVERYONE before herself. She deserves a treat and this would be wonderful!  

My initial thought? What a Proverbs 31 woman! What an inspiration...I am truly blessed to send her a small little bit of sunshine in a box. I am so blessed to get to be a part of such a wonderful movement. 

What I sent to my recipient.
 I chose to make items that could be shipped easily and hopefully (still have my fingers crossed) wouldn't melt. I made Peanut Butter Cupcakes with chocolate centers, Monkey Bread in a jar and also Double Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Icing in a jar. 

Monkey Bread
1 can of Grands Flaky Biscuits
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two medium/large (14+ oz) Ball Jars with cooking spray. Combine sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and whisk together. Cut biscuits into 1/4s and roll in sugar mixture. Place 16 pieces in each jar (make sure it doesn't fill the jar more than 3/4 of the way), sprinkling remaining sugar mixture between layers. Place jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and bubbly. I placed a tablespoon of butter on top of mine when they came out of the oven. Allow to cool some before serving. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Icing
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt butter and chocolate together. Mix together completely and set aside to cool. Beat together eggs, vanilla, sugar and cocoa powder in a mixer until combined. Add chocolate and butter combination and beat until just combined. Next, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Add to mixer and beat until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the bottom of the bowl to make sure it all comes together. Pour batter into (8-10) 6 5 ounces jam jars that have been sprayed generously with cooking spray. Bake the jars on a cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are formed and spring back when touched. Allow the brownies to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup powdered sugar
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water. Bring it to a boil and cook it, without stirring until it turns a dark amber. About 7 minutes. (Carefully watch this step because it can burn in a matter of seconds) Once it darkens turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Carefully stir in the heavy cream and vanilla, stirring well even as it bubbles. Then allow it to cool. While the caramel is cooling beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy. Then add the powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated. Turn off the mixer and pour in the caramel and beat everything until it is light and fluffy. Spread evenly over cooled brownies.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extracat
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 pinch of salt  

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, or grease and flour cups.In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, shortening and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

 I hope the deserving recipient of these desserts enjoys them as much as my husband and I enjoyed the left overs! =) The high temperatures of travel from Texas to Kansas made me a little nervous, so I shipped them Next Day Air (UPS of course). I hope she receives them tomorrow and has a Blessed and Happy Friday. Thanks again to Amanda and her helpers for setting up such a special event and thanks for allowing me to participate! I can't wait to do it again next year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just another weekend...

This past weekend, our good friend Billy came down to stay. Matt had a weekend planned full of hunting and outdoor activities! He came down Friday and we immediately went and got in the deer blind. We had some sightings...

I apologize for the picture...I forgot my camera so I had to use my phone. I put a star around the doe we saw. She came and played for probably a good 20 minutes. We experimented with Matt's Primos Game Call on his iPhone. Then out the other window Matt spotted the hogs. We all watched them for awhile, counted at least 17 at one point. They moved on to the other feeder and we all took aim and shot on the count of 3. We found blood and tracked it for about 5', then it was dark and we lost the blood trail. Billy and Matt did find it the next day about 50 yards from where it was shot. (Sorry, no pictures, I was fabric shopping in Tyler with my sister).

As soon as I got home though, they guys were loading up to go I put on my boots and joined them!

The guys fishing.
You're wondering what we caught, right? I can definitely say it is a first for all 3 of us. We've all caught some serious fish in our day but this...well, see for yourself:

Yes, yes, that is indeed a real LIVE alligator! It was about 3' long. The guys hooked it...instantly became a combination of Willy from Swamp People and Steve Erwin and wrangled that thing! We put a zip tie around it's mouth and covered it with a towel to keep it calm, cool and collected. Then it was off to show as many people as we could and have a photo session!

Billy, Matt, Me, Daddy-O & Grandaddy
After our fun and photos, we decided to let him go free, so we took him down to Brushy Creek and released him.

You can see him in the center, swimming to freedom!
I don't know how you top an experience like that...but I'm sure one day we will succeed! We went back to the deer stand that night and we saw another doe. We watched her until just about dark and packed up and headed home. We enjoyed the company and cannot wait until next time!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ruffle Baby Quilt

Just last night I finished my next baby quilt...and I'm very pleased with the results! A customer asked me to make this as a gift for a friend, she sent me a picture of the babies room so I could see the color scheme and gave me creative freedom (which I LOVE)! I didn't want the quilt to be overbearing, but a nice accent to the room. I didn't have a pattern, but thought the ruffle accent would be cute, so I went with stripes.

Detail of fabrics used.

Finished front.

Finished Back (It's a white on white print - but with the sun shining it's almost see through)

I'm excited to give this to the customer and see what she thinks! I hope she loves it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Above All

Hello there my friends! I apologize for not staying up to date with my blogging...I really will try harder with that. I've been super busy lately with projects, and plan to share them with you soon As you know, sewing isn't the only thing I've been doing, I'm also working on design projects (contracting remodels also). It has been a BLAST! It's so much fun to get rid of everything old and replace it with new! I've got a few pictures I will share once they are finished of before and after so you can see. Just a little update on where I've been, but I wanted to share this with you:

Early this morning as I was driving to a job site way out in the Boondocks, I saw so many amazing sights...the sun coming up through the thick fog, a bunny, several deer (including a spotted fawn and young bucks in velvet), a fox and even a road runner. Where we live, it's not uncommon to see any of these things (just usually not all in one trip). I was in such awe and in my head popped Michael W. Smith's song "Above All", and then wouldn't you know it was the next song on the radio. I believe God has a sense of humor...and likes to share it with us at times! I really listened to the lyrics:

Verse 1
Above all powers
Above all kings
Above all nature
And all created things
Above all wisdom
And all the ways of man
You were here
Before the world began

Verse 2
Above all kingdoms
Above all thrones
Above all wonders
The world has ever known
Above all wealth
And treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure
What You're worth

Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

Our God was here before all of this...and He is above all of this...above all nature and all created things. It just really made me think...there is no way to measure what God is worth....more than anything and everything! I sure am one blessed lady to have Him as my God, He is my Father...He loves EVEN ME!!!  He loves us so much He shares these small blessings with us, and shows Himself to us daily, but we just have to look. No matter how busy you get, don't forget to notice the little could be God showing you His creations and bringing a song to your mind and then it playing on the radio. I'm rambling now...but, it's the little things (don't miss them being wrapped up in the big things)! =)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake

We were invited to a friends house on Cedar Creek Lake today, to watch an Air Show. It was A-MAZING! We had a great time, and actually watched the show out of the boat on the lake. It was so neat seeing all of the planes, and they all came so close to the lake. I of course forgot to take my camera (I actually thought about it, but it made me nervous because I didn't want to ruin it). I could kick myself for that now. I did however find a link where you can see some awesome pictures here. If you ever get a chance (I believe it's an annual event now), you should go! So, check out the pictures and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nutella Cookies

Nutella cookies...enough said! We love Nutella, so naturally anything with it would be amazing, right?  We picked some up a few weeks ago at the grocery store and I've been wanting to try a recipe with it, so today I did. I believe it's a keeper ladies and gentlemen.

 Whisk together the following and then set aside:
Flour, Baking Powder and Cocoa Powder
Cream together butter and sugars.

Add vanilla extract and Nutella.
Add half of the flour mixture, combine and then add the milk. Once combined, add remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
Mixture all combined.
Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then scoop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake as directed.


Chocolate Nutella Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup Nutella
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325°
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set the mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the extracts and beat for another 30 seconds or so. Add the Nutella and beat until smooth.
With the mixer running, add half of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the milk, mixing until combined completely, then add the remaining flour mixture and mix completely. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place them on the lined cookie sheet, allowing about 2″ between the dough balls.
Lightly press the dough balls with the bottom of a drinking glass and then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are crackly on top and soft, but starting to set. Remove from the oven and allow them to stand for about 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lil Football Fan

A friend of mine, whose husband is a coach at Athens, sent me a few pictures and asked if I could come up with an outfit for her little girl to wear for their family picture for the football program. I was excited and couldn't wait to start! There are so many cute things out there...but I narrowed it down. I found some fabric that would be perfect (maroon and white) and decided on the pillow case dress. Here is what I came up with:

Here are some close ups:

They are the Athens Hornets.

Aren't these adorable?
Just one more picture:

Thanks Kristin for letting me make this for Reagan...I can't wait to see a picture of her in it! Any one else need a custom football outfit? Now's the perfect time to order to have it ready for Football Season!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shiny, Sparkly, Special Something

There is an item that I have worn everyday for the past two years and I didn't know how much I would miss it until it was engagement ring and wedding band! It was not gone for good, just took a trip to the shop to get checked, repaired, cleaned, etc. I am so happy to have them back! Not only did my ring finger feel lonely, but on several occasions it would have been nice to have, but just look how sparkly and shiny...definitely worth the wait!!

Our rings.
My rings.

Matt's ring.
Do you need your rings spruced up? I know an A-MAZING jeweler! We've referred several friends and we are all so happy with their work! Gary (father) and Darin (son) have both helped Matt and I in picking out and designing our rings. They are both so pleasant and patient. Gary has retired and Darin recently opened his own boutique jewelry store with his sister. I strongly urge you to check them out, you can do that here. We've been so pleased with everything, including their very reasonable pricing. So give them a call next time you're in need of something special, or just need to have your something special spruced up, you will only be pleased! Oh yah, and tell them Matt and Nikki say "Hi!".

**Cheesy story: I picked up our rings today while in Dallas, so when Matt got home I held his ring out in my hand and asked him to marry me...he said yes!** (I love that man for putting up with me!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Egg Review

For Father's Day, my Honey (grandmother) got my dad a Green Egg. He and my mom have wanted one for a long time, so they were super excited!! On Friday, we packed, loaded and moved Honey from Tyler back to Palestine. When we were all finished, we decided to go to the lake and go swimming and have dinner (cooked on the Green Egg). Mom and Dad took the U-Haul back and stopped at the grocery store, while Matt and I took our nephews with us to Loren's in Elkhart for steaks. We all met back home and swam and cooled off and then started dinner!

The Green Egg!
We put charcoal in the bottom and lit it, let it burn for 10 minutes and then closed the top of the egg and opened the dampers. It got to temperature quick!

Looking through the open damper on top.

It was 400 degrees and still cool to the touch.
Once it reached 500 degrees, we put the steaks on:

We let it get back up to temperature and cook for 2 minutes, then flipped them.

Dad was the genius behind the Green Egg...Matt was a good helper too!

Flipped and ready to cook the other side.
We let it get back up to temperature and then cooked for another 2 minutes. It was a waiting game!

Uncle Matt, with the boys (and Dutchess the dog) waiting patiently!
Once the timer went off, we took the steaks off the Green Egg and put them in a foil pan with a foil "tent" over the top. We let them sit for 10 minutes...

We had a photo session while waiting...all I can say is "Boys will be boys!!" You can see the facial expressions and just imagine what the littlest one did! I love my nephews so much...they are so clever and hysterical! We had a good day together!

After the ten minutes, dinner was ready:
...and it was delish!! Consensus was the Green Egg was a success, we can't wait to try it out with other new and exciting things!

Just had to share this picture:

the Boys, Mom, Dad and Matt
We had a wedding in Tyler the next evening and all went to Wasabi's for dinner...the sushi was wonderful, and such a fun experience! =)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flag Fetish

Looking through pictures recently I've noticed I have a bunch of flags...some random, some Texas, but mostly American flags. I don't know what it is about the "Stars and Stripes", but every time I see an "Old Glory" I feel the need to snap a picture! The meaning behind the flag, the flag itself, and what it stands for, just gives me a boost of patriotism, honor, and awe. So, I thought I'd share a few of my "Star-Spangled Banners" with you! It just gives me goosebumps to see these, from:

Talladega, Alabama to
somewhere in Tennessee,

on a random road in Oklahoma

and running errands in Tyler, Texas,

some where I don't remember,

and especially at the Ranger's Game,

even our front yard,

but certainly crossing the Mississippi River,
 just gives me a sense of pride, seeing all the places represented in this Grand 'Ole Flag! Thanks for humoring me and looking at my flag fetish!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DIY: Patriotic Frame

Here lately it seems that every where you go, decorations are out for the Fourth of July (except Hobby Lobby...they are starting to put out Christmas stuff...yes, seriously)! I've looked at some different items and haven't purchased anything yet, but I have made a few items. Today, I'm going to share one of them with you.

You will need:
  • A picture frame - 5"x7" opening
  • Paint & Brush (if your frame isn't finished to your liking)
  • 1 sheet of white card stock (8 1/2" x 11")
  • Printer
  • Small Decorative Brads (I got mine from Hobby Lobby when they were 1/2 off)
First, go to our good friend GOOGLE and search for your favorite patriotic song in sheet music. Once you find it, print it on the card stock. (You could also search in a music store for sheet music, or copy it out of a hymnal.)

Measure the opening on your frame and cut your sheet music to size (it should be 5"x7"). I forgot and did this after the brads, and it worked, but it would be easier to do it before! Now, take the brads you selected (I used red, white and blue, with a few stars mixed in, for the Holiday), and carefully place them through the music notes.
Cutting the paper to the size of the frame.

Finished insert.
For my frame, I had a lime green one that was still in the packaging and I decided to paint it myself. You can get frames from the Dollar Store, unfinished from a craft store, or you can spend $8-$10 dollars and get a nice one already finished. It's your decision on how involved you want to make this.

I wanted the rustic look, so I crackle glazed parts and distress sanded others.
Now, leaving the glass out (you can save that for another project), place the music sheet in the frame and secure the backing. Voila, an easy decoration!

Finished product.
What I love about this is how quick and simple it is...and you can make one for every Holiday. Hope you enjoy your frame. If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'll try my best to reply ASAP.