Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quilt Gifts are the Best!

My sister Carol is awesome!  But most of you know that.  Today when I got home from work I opened a box from Carol to find:
 A beautiful quilt.  Mary of Quilt Hollow did great quilting on it - thanks Mary!
I love the blue fabric on the backing,  it is also the binding and sets off the quilt so nicely.  Carol, you're amazing, I am so blessed to have you as my sister.
Love you a bunch, Kate

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Hour Christmas Gift

Caution: these are so fast and fun you'll make a bunch!
Kleenex boxes are just a necessesity to have out - but how fun if they would also add to the decor!  This takes just one fat quarter and a yard of ribbon - and viola!  And since we're just covering a Kleenex box it can be inexpensive fabric.
Start by laying out your FQ to 11x22 inches, right sides together.  Make two cuts to so the folded fabric measures 9.25 x 15.5 inches [18.5 x 15.5 flat]

Stitch a 1/4 inch seam down the long side.  Center the seam to the back and press.

Cut out the corner on each side by measuring up from the bottom 2.25 inches and in from the side 2 inches. 
Mark and cut.

This will leave the bottom measuring 5 inches across.
Sew 1/4 inche across the bottom. Then rotate and match the notched sides and sew at 1/4 inch.

I tried a second method of sewing across the bottom and marking to sew and cut off the corners to yield the same as above - it didn't save me any time - but try it if you like.

Next fold back to the original seam orientation and measure for ribbon opening.  On the fold measure down from the top 5.5 inches and in from the side 1/2 inch, mark.

Using a standard paper punch; punch through both layers.  Unless your punch is very sharp you may need to finish the cut with a scissor.

When my sister Carol and I first worked to develop this pattern based on receiving one as a gift we finished the opening with colorful little rivets (lots of extra time) just to have them come out when the ribbon was tied.  Once you have a bow in the cozy you don't even see the opening.
Next turn down a 3 inch cuff.

Stitch the edge down.  I stitch the first seam with the turned cuff facing out.

And the second with the front side of the cozy facing up - I like to see the seam in relationship to the punched opening.
With a safety pin thread your ribbon through the channel created.  Open your Kleenex cube and pull up a tissue.

Tie the first part of your knot to cinch the opening leaving enough room to easily pull out the Kleenex, distribute the gathers and finish the bow.

Now, even you need a hostess gift tonight you can bring a unique, Christmas-y gift.  And so easy to make a style and color to match any home.

I also make these for nurseries - cute baby shower gift to round out the layette, especially if you're matching that baby blanket or quilt you made.
Or for that hard to match bathroom decor - I could never find a Kleenex box to match my bathroom.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Last Minute Gifts

Moving along with gift giving, 12 Christmas tree napkins for my friend.  You can view a tutorial here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Sew Monday

What do you mean no sewing?

No sewing machine, no sewing.

Aughhh!  What happened to her?!?

Not to worry, she has gone in for yearly maintenance, just did it earlier this year.  She'll be back tomorrow.

Oh, that makes me feel better.  What will we do without her?

We will box up some of the gifts we completed before she left, potholders and a coordinating dishtowel for Crista, the oldest daughter, more blue on her set.

More potholders and a towel for Elena, the younger daughter, more green in her set.

And get ready for baking gingerbread cookies, yum!

Let's go before Chicken hides my cloves again, bad Chicken.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Sage Stuffing

It's starts with the bread.  I know a lot of recipes call for dried bread cubes or day-old bread.  I don't like to start with dried bread because you're just working to re-hydrate it.  If you start with good bread you'll have a better tasting stuffing.  I like a sandwich type whole wheat bread.  Pretty much if you like the taste of the bread you will like the stuffing - sourdough makes a great option also.  I do toast it a little bit to give me time to mix the wet ingredients.  You can use pre-made stuffing croutons, it is just personal preference.  You'll need about 4 cups of bread cubes. 

I cut the whole loaf into cubes - it's the season for the electric knife.  I got one 31 years ago as a wedding present and it pretty much only comes out for turkey season.

Place the bread on a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and toast in a 350 degree while you prepare the veggies.
I use only celery and onion for my sage stuffing along with the spices, I added apples one year and my daughter was pretty adamant that they had no place in the stuffing she was used to having every year. : )
Like with many recipes this is a great time to use the tops of the celery.  From one bunch of celery I use the less mature inner stalks, the tops of the other stalks and one or two green stalks, depending on how much you get from chopping the tops. One large outer rib will give you about 1/2 cup chopped.

I end up with a full 'one cup' in a glass measuring cup.

Chop one small onion, or a leek, or scallions. You will want about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of chopped onion.  

In a heavy skillet melt 6 tablespoons of butter - you can also use a mix of olive oil and butter.  Add the chopped celery and onion, generously salt and pepper.  Add 2 tablespoons of crushed dried sage leaves - I like a robust sage taste and use 3 tablespoons.  If using fresh sage double the amount.  I also add a heaping tablespoon of parsley - but it is optional, the great taste of this stuffing comes from the sage.  It looks brown in the picture but it is more green in color and you know you have the right amount by the smell of sage and the butter turning green after the addition of the herbs.

Saute until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Pull the bread from the oven, add it to a large mixing bowl.  Pour the veggie mixture over the bread and then pour 8 ounces of chicken broth.  Mix quickly and thoroughly.  Pour the stuffing into a greased casserole dish, lightly press down.  Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes depending upon the depth of your casserole dish.  This year at Thanksgiving I experimented cooked the stuffing in the crockpot.  It came out very nice, but I do like the crunchy crust from cooking in the oven.
Enjoy your holiday cooking.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Tree Napkin Tutorial

 Finished folded napkins looks like a Christmas tree.

To complete 8 napkins you will need 2 yards of fabric, 1 yard of each print.  Contrasting prints make a nice effect when folded.
Cut your one yard lengths into 9" strips.

Fold each strip in half a second time, you will have four layers of fabric.
Using a Cut a Round ruler place the corner on the second fold.

Use the slot for a 18" circle.  Since the fabric is cut into a strip this will yeild two semi-circles each with an 18" diameter.

After cutting both fabrics place contrasting pieces right sides together and stitch 1/4" around the edge leaving a 3" opening for turning.  Backstitch at the beginning and ending of the seam to prevent the seam from coming open when turning.

After turning press the edges and whip stitch the opening closed.  You could topstitch the edging if you choose.
To create the tree effect press the first fold about 2 inches off-center as shown above.

Fold both flat edges back on the first fold to create the exposed layers.  And viola!  A Christmas tree.
Have fun!