Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hot Air Balloons

My creative mojo has definitely left the building. I have several projects right now in different stages of un-done-ness. (Is that a word? Well, I'm making it a word.) I have a Christmas table runner that is cut, and needs to be pieced and quilted. I have Christmas panel I was going to make into a runner that needs to be quilted, and I promised my mom that I would try to do a table runner and two pillow sleeves for her birthday (which is near the end of February) but I should never have done that because now it feels like something I have to do, and sucks all the enjoyment of the project right out of it, and now I have zero motivation. I cut some material for the pillow sleeves, but that's as far as I have gotten. Also, I purchased a quilt kit from Quilt Taffy to make as a baby gift for a friend that is due in March. So, since there is not much happening at my lil homestead, other than that we have had 60-70mph chinook winds (it's been +7C lately) I decided to post pictures of my very first ever quilting project. I found the pattern at an on-line store called Snowflake Designs, and was originally looking for material for a Bug Jar quilt (which led me to her store). She also has kits for a really cute gumball design, as well as rag quilts, I Spy quilts, and many other easy projects. I found the pattern for the Hot Air Balloon quilt and purchased my own material. As a beginner I thought the pattern was fairly simple to follow, and I thought it turned out alright.
I love that I found light colored cloud material, to put around my "balloons". The balloons themselves I made using Moda Heart to Heart fat quarters that I purchased on e-bay a looooong time ago. If you do a search the material still comes up from various sellers.

I chose a light purple fabric for the sashing, and a soft purple (lilac if you will) flannel for the backing and binding. I thought this color brought out all the colors in the balloons rather nicely.

And this one is my favorite blocks, as I think this one looks most realistically like an actual hot air balloon. I tacked down the "ric-rac ropes" in the center of each, as I wasn't sure who this quilt was going to when I first made it, and thought little fingers would get hold of the ric rac if I didn't sew it down. I also found a really nice brown basket weave patterned material to use for the balloon basket.

So that is it! I know my basting and quilting skills have improved since I made this last summer, and I was going to give it to my niece for Christmas, but I forgot I had it to give to her and bought her something, so I have decided to keep it for myself, just to remind myself how far I've come and how much I've improved. I suppose this means I'm going to have to get motivation (I'll have to dig deep) to get creative again, as I think these are the last pictures I have of past projects for now. Or I'll have to leave the house more often so I have more to blog about!

One last thing, my book review for the last book I read is up on my reading blog, click on the image in the side bar to go to my other blog if you're interested!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chocolate Brownie Pie

I don't know if you have a Boston Pizza where you live, but we have two in my hometown. And they have this dessert, that is the bestest, yummiest, chocolate browniest, ice creamiest dessert. They call it the Chocolate Brownie Addiction. Well, lucky you!! I found a brownie recipe that tastes (to me anyways) identical to the one from the restaurant. And if you don't have a Boston near you, you don't know what you are missing! I found it in the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which I purchased after a friends mother gave me an awesome recipe for turkey stuffing from the same cookbook. If you are a new mom or new to cooking, or just love cooking in general, this cookbook is for you! It has lots of pointers and tips on things like how to whip cream (and pictures of what the different stages look like) and basics like how to cook a roast (I can admit I have needed help with this one!!) I find it to be a great resource as well as having lots of good easy recipes that use ingredients that for the most part I usually have on hand. You can buy this cookbook HERE.

The other book I have used while baking many times over and am sooooo glad I bought is called The Food Substitutions Bible. I purchased it for when I have those cooking know the ones....where you forgot to go over the recipe and make sure you have all the ingredients...and find that halfway through with your flour and sugar and eggs mixed that you're missing something...and you can throw away what you already started or go to the store and buy the ingredient that you don't have...OR!! You go to your Food Substitutions book and look up the food, and use one of the three substitutions listed to save yourself the shopping trip, and save your half made recipe. I used it making this recipe as I didn't have the unsweetened chocolate it asked for, so I looked it up, and removed 1 tsp of the butter and 3 tbsp of the sugar and used bittersweet chocolate instead. It still turned out great!! You can find this handy book HERE.

So, if you followed through with all that, here is the recipe for...(drumroll here...or theatrical music, whichever you prefer...)

Chocolate Brownie Pie


2/3 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)
5oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts.

Heat oven to 350F. Grease bottom and side of pie plate, 10 x 1 1/2 inches , with shortening. (I used two 9" plates and PAM.) In 1-quart saucepan, melt butter and chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Cool 5 minutes. In medium bowl beat sugar, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on high speed 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour just until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in walnuts. Spread batter in pie plate. Bake 35 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Hot fudge sauce?? you ask? Here is the recipe for that from the great Betty Crocker as well:

Hot Fudge Sauce


1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1 bag (12oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla

In 2 quart saucepan, heat milk, chocolate chips and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly, remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth and creamy. Cool about 30 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Serve warm. Store remaining sauce covered in refrigerator up to 4 weeks Sauce becomes firm when refrigerated, will thin out when heated. (Also great on ice cream alone!!)

So I served up a brownie wedge with Breyers vanilla ice cream and the hot fudge sauce with a little cool whip (from the aerosol Wwwwssshht! can). Let me know if you make this recipe and how you liked it, because I thought it was great!! There is also an icing recipe if anyone is interested, and you can bake the brownies in a 9" square pan if you want to do a more traditional brownie. Enjoy!!!

P.S. Anyone else out there having trouble with Blogger not putting in spaces and such?? I had spaced out the whole recipe section (two or three times but when I publish it the spaces disappear, what gives??) And now I added a picture, and it keeps adding spaces where I don't want them!! ARGH!
Also, I forgot to mention that I received my first blog award!! YAAAAY ME!! Ginger from Ginger's House nominated me and I am very thankful.
I really enjoy her blog, and she posts some beautiful word art for free. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to pass it on, so for now I will just say thanks, and I really appreciate it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speedy Baby 2

Okay, so I know I am slacking in the creative department. I've got no gumption lately. I was crafting like a mad woman before Christmas hit and I think my creative juices must be on holiday somewhere tropical while the rest of me waits out the winter. So I found some pictures of a quick quilt I did for my son a while ago. It's called Speedy Baby 2, and you can find the free pattern on the Quilt Taffy website.

I used a charm pack of Disney and cartoon characters that I purchased on e-bay (sorry, no longer sure of the seller, but if you did a search I'm sure you could find something!)It was kind of a neat package of materials, as it contained everything from Mickey Mouse and Strawberry Shortcake to the Grinch and Buzz Lightyear. The main attraction for me was that it had a little bit of Batman and Robin in the charm pack. My son is going through a superhero phase (don't all little boys??) and was so excited that he got a blanket with them on it.

I had a hard time figuring out the layout, so I chose to go from lightest to darkest. The Transformers material for the center and the outside corners I purchased at the local fabric store, as well as the blue toned borders.

I think the original pattern is more symmetrical in the fabric colors, but what the heck. It's an original. The pattern was super easy and quick, and I enjoyed making it. Voila!! A craft for you that didn't suck any of my creativeness, which is good, since right now I have none :)
Also wanted to share a fun site with you, I uploaded a picture of myself and cartooned it (or one of the funky editing tools they have) and this was the result.
I think it looks kinda cool, but the resolution wasn't very good for saving it to my computer, I think for printing or enlarging it or anything the quality wouldn't be the greatest. It's a fun site anyways. Another site I love for playing with pictures is They also have a great variety of one (or two) click features which enable you to do all kinds of things to your photos. Playing with the same photo, I came up with this on their site.
The nice thing with the picnik site is that when you re-save the picture after making changes the resolution and quality is still good enough that you could do something with your creation afterwards. So check them out, they are way fun!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rants 'N Random Readings

So I copied Five Funny Feet again, and created my own book review blog. It is really just a space to list the books I've read, keep track of how many pages I've read and share my thoughts about what I have read. I love books and reading so much, it is such a great escape for me. I can't imagine the writing process and how authors are able to put me right in the middle of the action and make me feel so many different things just by the words they use to tell the story. Reading is one of my passions and I will be sharing it HERE. I also have my current read and my last read listed on this page, as originally I was only going to post them on this site, but I liked the idea of loving books and stories so much that they deserved their own space. So if you're interested, check it out, and if not that's ok too. Like I said, my new book site is really going to be dedicated to keeping track of my reads, and my opinions on what I've read.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scrapbooking, Finally

When I started this blog, I was so happy to find all the digi-scrappers out there in blog land that I couldn't believe my good fortune. I started downloading, and downloading, and downloading. I haven't done a layout in months. So today, I sat down and did several. This first one is a layout I did using a template from Moriginals (you can find it HERE) and the kit was called About A Boy from A Work In Progress (you can find it HERE). The date slider was from One Memory At a Time and is included in the Miracle kit. Visit her blog HERE to find it. So this layout is for Week two of my Project 365. Basically (from what I can understand) you take a picture every day (I usually take several anyways, though not necessarily every day, but I am going to try!) and once a week I will do a layout with the pictures from that week. Then at the end of the year, I'll have at least 52 pages to put into a hardcover book (you can order them at HERE). Makes for a great Christmas gift (although I might have to start my year at Christmas 2008 so it could be ready in time for Christmas this year) but even so, it would make a wonderful year in review book to keep, especially with my kids being so young and changing so quickly! Whew. I had a lot to say there.

The next layout I did was one for Chase's 12 x 12 frame, and it was some of the same pictures of him outside. I used another template from Moriginals (get it HERE) and the kit was Chocolate Valentine from A Work In Progress. You can also click on her blinkie (on the right column) to take you to her blog. She has some new kits for sale as well as lots of free kits (most of which I have downloaded!)

Then I did a page for Rayna's 12 x 12 frame. I didn't use a template this time, but I used Chocolate Valentine again. I love how I can use the kit for both my kids!

And the last page I did was one with a picture of Rayna that I am just in love with. She has just started holding her bottle and I think it's so cute. So I did a January page for her album using the Painter's Quilt kit from Stolen Moments. (you can get the kit HERE).

And on a side note, check out the warm temps we have been having! I almost can't believe it. My deck was dry yesterday when I took this picture (although, now it's covered in snow again as we got a little dump during the day.) We have a saying about the weather in Alberta, if you don't like it, just wait 5 minutes! It literally went from -15C to +5C within a few hours. Crazy.

Okay. Also a little update on my "organization" project. I cleared out my entrance, re-organized all my actual paper scrapbooking stuff, took down the play pen and moved some toys, took down some more of the Christmas decorations, and did a general de-junk of the front entrance and living room. It's not perfect, but it's a start. I still need to re-organize my sewing stuff, and get my stash under control. And the list of my projects hasn't materialized on here yet either, but being a procrastinator, I'll do it.....eventually lol.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mr. Bean

Just wanted to share something that I think is hilarious. I used to watch Mr.Bean on tv when I still lived at home with my parents and this was one of the first episodes I ever saw. Enjoy!

you can watch it HERE.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Key

Well, I suppose since it's a new year and all I should try to make some kind of resolutions about what my goals are going to be for this year. So number one. Try to lose my pregnancy weight. I think this is probably the number one resolution out there. Every year weight watchers sends me a coupon to rejoin. It's a good program, and I have joined on-line to motivate myself.

I will let you know at this point though, that I am a procrastinator, and am excellent at wasting time, and with the whole resolutions thing, I will be aiming low so as not to disappoint myself. I love it when I exceed my expectations, so if you aim low, you're sure to succeed!! Ha.

Secondly, I need to get my projects listed and organized, prioritized even, and I believe since this blog is part of my creative outlet that this is where it will all begin. Along my sidebar, I think I will post my up and coming projects, and list off which ones I finish as well (along with showing you pictures and links in my posts). I have kind of fallen off my creative wagon since Christmas has gone by, as I was in overdrive before trying to get everyone's gifts finished before the big day! And reading the Twilight saga didn't help with my sewing projects either as of late, as I couldn't tear myself away from any one of the books while in the middle of reading it. Only the sheer size of the fourth book kept me from reading it all in one day. It took me two. And again, Twilight is veering me off course. SO! Organize and prioritize my upcoming projects.

Third, I desperately need to de-clutter my house. I need to make the commitment to myself and my home to go through room by room, closet by closet, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by awful junk drawer, and ditch all the crap in my house that I have no need for, but that is slowly and surely swallowing up our living space. The problem I have is that I like to acquire things. And then I put them in drawers. Then the drawers get full. So I put things in the cupboards. Then those get full, so then it moves to the pantry and closets. You get the picture. So I am going to do before and after pictures of each room, closet, cupboard, drawer and nook and cranny that I have crap shoved into when I go through and clean them out. (See how positive that was?? WHEN I clean them out!! Go me.)

So I think for the next several months, this will keep me busy. Hopefully I can organize my crafts and my time, as I promised my mom some pillow case covers and two table runners for her birthday at the end of February, and I still haven't finished my Christmas table runner. It might end up on the bottom of my list for this year, so I have it for next Christmas. I also have a quilt to do for a baby that will hopefully not show up until I have it finished! Then with the house getting de-cluttered, it will make me feel better about spending my time here, and apparently, according to this clutter book "It's All Too Much" excess junk in your life and house = excess weight. So we'll work on both of those issues at the same time I guess! So all over my house and my home, organization is the key.

Beware the few racy photos...thought it was worth it to see all the other ones!