A Birthday gift to me

Friday was my birthday. My 36th birthday. Which meant three things. The first was that I got notifications all day long from Facebook, people wishing me a happy birthday. Lots of people that I love and care about… and some people that I can’t remember why their on my friends list at all! Each Facebook message – and each phone call from family – was a precious reminder that I’m loved.

The second thing that happens is that I make a call to schedule my mammogram. I’m 36, and my two closest female relatives have battled breast cancer. For those of us with a family history, we start making our annual dates with this pretty machine when we turn 35.

The mammogram machine

Yup, that’s the photo I took last year, on my first date with the mammogram machine. It wasn’t so bad. There were no flowers or chocolates… but I also was told not to put on deodorant. Any date where you don’t put on deodorant as part of the getting-gussied-up process is going to have a different bar for success, don’t you think?

It isn’t a coincidence that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and MomSelect reached out to me to share this important message in February. For me, a mammogram in February makes sense because it coincides with my birthday. For you, it might make sense because of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s day is a great reminder to get an annual check. While you’re in the changing room trying on something lacy – make a quick phone call to the doctor to make sure that the curves that fill out that lace and trim is healthy – and stays that way! And if you’re not in a situation where you feel compelled to buy some lingerie mid-February, maybe you just need a reminder that your breasts need a little squeeze. A mechanical hug, if you will…

Love yourself - Schedule a Mammogram!

Last year I went for my mammogram, I was a little scared. It was like part of me was admitting that breast cancer could happen to me. And running away is so much easier, y’all. Thinking that everything will be fine. But getting the report back, confirming that everything is fine – that feels so much better! If you’re nervous about getting your first mammogram, check out the CTCA website and type “mammogram” in the search box. You’ll find lots of information on what mammograms are all about. Or, feel free to ask your questions in the comment section below – I’m no expert, but I’m happy to share what I know!

So, what is the third certainty that comes with having a birthday? Blowing out the candles and making a wish. A birthday isn’t a birthday without getting to make an annual wish while blowing out those dancing flames. I can’t tell you what I wished (or it might not come true!), but if you know me you’re probably guessing that I wished for something along the lines of a happy and healthy future for myself and my family. And you’d probably be right.

Yes, I received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. I am thrilled to participate because Mammograms are important.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeAndMyTea #CollectiveBias

Happy New Year! Have you made New Year’s Resolutions, decided on a word of the year, or started a new workout routine? The new year is a great excuse to make some changes in your life… like taking some time for you, and getting more organized!

Orange Cranberry Scones - and Printable Daily Schedule at Always Expect Moore

Those are two of my goals for this year – getting more organized, and stopping to take time for me. Starting off the morning right is the best way to get my whole day set up for success – and so does sitting down with a bite to eat, and a hot cup of my favorite Bigelow Tea.

I made these Orange Cranberry Scones, and a daily plan printable – both pair great with my tea as I take a few minutes to fuel myself for the day, and square away my plans. You can grab the daily plan printable here (I like printing them half-sheet size by printing two to a sheet)… and now let me share the recipe for these delicious scones!

Orange Cranberry Scones

4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup dried cranberries
zest from one large orange

ingredients for orange cranberry scones

You can find these ingredients, and the delicious Lemon flavored Bigelow Tea, all at Walmart.

buy Bigelow tea at Walmart

Start by mixing the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in cubes of the room-temperature butter.

butter gets mixed in

Mix until the mixture looks like loose sand. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl, or the mixer blade, several times.

mixed with butter

Add the sugar, milk, sour cream, and egg.

Mix in dried cranberries and orange zest until combined.

mix in cranberries

Roll out dough onto a floured surface, to about 1″ deep

cut into wedges

Cut dough into 8 rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper, and bake for 350 degrees for 20 minutes.bake scones

Now it is time for some tea! Pour hot water into a mug, and allow your tea bag to steep. I like mine with sugar and honey.

I grabbed my printable, and planned out my day… and colored it in while I was at it.

coloring page daily planning sheet

It makes the day so much easier to start it out with a plan! And I love this version, because it allows me to make a list of what I’d like to get done, and then plan it out on the printable. Setting aside blocks of time to get things done in is a realistic way to plan out a schedule. And not scheduling every minute – making sure to leave some “margin” room between and around events helps give a buffer.

color in and plan page

I hope you make it a great day!

getting ready for the day

Go learn more about Bigelow Teas here, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipe Guide

This is the ultimate cookie exchange recipe list. These cookies are all delicious, and there is something here that almost everyone can eat. There are options that are dairy-free, and egg free, and gluten free. If you’d like additional gluten-free options, add Rice Krispies Treats, or baggies of Muddy Buddies (made with Corn Chex).

The ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies! These 6 cookie recipes, and one perfect decorator icing recipie will help you make the perfect plate of holiday cookies. Tips for making all the cookies yourself over 2 days - or divide up the recipes among friends for the ultimate cookie exchange!

I like to add a chocolate-chip cookie to my plate of cookies as well. You can go with whatever your favorite recipe is. I like the one on the back of the Costco brand chocolate chips, but if you’re looking for a more festive cookie, try the pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

You can make all these cookies yourself in about 2 days. Or, you can divide the recipes up among a group of friends, each make a couple batches, and share at a cookie exchange party. I put these cookies on a simple decorated plate from the dollar store.

Tip: If you’re going to make all of these cookies yourself, make sure that you have enough ingredients on hand, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter all go fast when making this many cookies! Also, start with the Sugar Cookie and {Almost} Speculaas recipes, because these doughs need to be refrigerated/frozen. I usually make these doughs the night before my big day of baking. I also like to make my chocolate chip cookie dough the night before. I make a double-batch, and freeze tablespoon fulls on sheets of parchment paper. The next day, I throw the balls of dough into a zip-seal bag, and have dough ready to go.

At the end of the first day, I make the meringues. Because it is best for them to slowly cool as the oven cools (so they dry out), I bake these at the end of the first day. When they are done baking, I turn off the oven, and let them sit as I clean up the kitchen and get ready for day two… then I can put them in airtight containers overnight.

The Ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies

 

Meringues

These meringues are simple to make – they’re light, and fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth sweet! They look fancy on any cookie plate. If you hate tossing out egg yolks, you can poach them and chop them up to sprinkle on salads.

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

On high speed, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Slowly and steadily, add the sugar while continuing to whisk. Then slowly whisk in the vanilla.

Transfer mix into a large pastry bag with a large star attachment, or a large zip top bag (cut the corner off the zip-top bag). On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, form mounds, each about the size of a tablespoon, and at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 25o degrees for 40-45 minutes. Do not allow them to brown – if you start to see golden edges, turn off the oven!

When they are done baking, turn off the oven but do not remove the cookie sheets. Allow to sit in the oven as the oven cools, or for about 2 hours. Remove and store in air-tight storage containers.

 

{Almost} Speculaas

This egg-free cookie dough is the closest I’ve found to a traditional Dutch Speculaas Cookie Recipe, and uses ingredients you can find at most American grocery stores. I prefer it to traditional gingerbread. It has a great spiced flavor, and is perfect for the holidays. For the uninitiated, I compare it to a spiced shortbread cookie.

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c hot water
1 C unsalted butter, softened
4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cloves

Dissolve baking soda in water. Beat with butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Divide into 3 parts. Place each part on an 18″ length of plastic wrap, and form into a log about 2.5″ in diameter. Wrap tightly, twisting ends. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one log from the freezer, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut log into slices about 1/4″ thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 to 14 minutes. Repeat with additional logs.

 

Sveta

This recipe is a family recipe. It was given to me by my in-laws, passed down from family friends. It is a Slav cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays! The Nucoa is non-dairy, making these a great dairy-free cookie option.

1 cube Nucoa (margarine)
1 1/2 C sugar
6 eggs
3 C flour
3 1/2tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream Nucoa and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Add in extracts. Mix until incorporated. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, the cookies will be soft, and slightly brown around the edges. Sprinkle warm cookies with powdered sugar and allow to cool.

 

D’Amaretti Biscotti

This biscotti recipe, and the one below, are family favorites. Make these two, wrap them up, and you’ll be asked for them year after year! Though biscotti is twice-baked, that doesn’t mean it is twice as hard to make! It is a delicious cookie that stores well for gift giving.

3 1/4 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
3 eggs (plus one egg white)
2 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded
1 tsp anise extract
1/2 C toasted and chopped hazelnuts (if you really can’t find them, you can use almonds, if you must)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly Grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, lemon peel, and anise extract. Slowly add dry ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in nuts.

Divide douh in half, form into two logs on the cookie sheet, each about 12″ x 2″ x 1″. Beat egg white until foamy and brush over the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes until light brown. Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool. Store in air-tight container.

 

Biscotti Toscani

This biscotti has the extra step of adding a layer of chocolate to one side, making it both delicious and fancy-looking! When you are done adding the chocolate, turn the leftover melted chocolate into hot cocoa! Add 1 cup of milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave for 30 more seconds, and enjoy!

1/2 C Whole Almonds
1/3 C Butter, softened
3/4 C White Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
2 tsp Grated Orange Zest
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Bake nuts in 325 degree oven about 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Allow to cool, then rough chop so the almonds are cut once or twice each.

Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and orange zest. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. DO NOT ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Split dough into two halves. Place each half on cookie sheet, and form into logs. Each log should be about 1/2″ thick and 12 inches long. Keep them at least 2 inches apart, they will expand a little in baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Use a spoon to spoon about 1 tbsp onto one side of each cookie, use the back of the spoon to spread it across and to the edges. Allow chocolate to set. Store in air-tight containers.

 

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

These sugar cookies are tender and sweet – and keep their shape when cut out with cookie cutters. Decorate using the royal flow icing recipe below, or with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1/4 C Sour Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
4 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

In mixer on high speed, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs until well incorporated. Add Sour Cream and Extracts. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until dough no longer sticks to sides, then STOP! Knead the rest of the way by hand on a lightly floured surface if needed. Do not overmix – this makes the dough tough.

Divide dough into 3 parts, form each part into a ball, then flatten into a 1″ thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until edges are *just* starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and move cookies to cooling racks. Wait until they are completely cool to decorate.

Flow Royal Icing

This icing is liquid enough to flow, but solid enough to create outlines, so you don’t need two icing consistencies to decorate your cookies! To prevent bleed, allow one color to set a little before adding a second color.

5 T of Meringue Powder (available at the craft store in the Wilton baking section)
1/2-3/4 C of water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract (buy the clear stuff when you’re buying the Meringue Powder)
1 T Light corn syrup
Gel food coloring

Add the ingredients, in order, while you mix at a low speed. Once they are incorporated, beat on high for several minutes. Mixed icing should be matte colored and stiff peaked. Keep icing stored in air-tight containers until ready to use. Keep refrigerated, but allow to come to room temperature before using. Add gel food coloring to tint.

Babysitter Information Sheet

At the end of last year, I shared a Date Night book over on 30 Minute Crafts. The other half of date nights is babysitters. So, I came up with this simple babsitter information sheet to help keep date night fun and stress free!

babysitter's info sheet

Simple Babysitter info sheet

babysitter contact sheet word doc: https://app.box.com/s/9avk8jbb1imfef2tzsni

babysitter contact sheet pdf: https://app.box.com/s/nkdlmgqyrqnf4l8t9eyj

How to fix a quilt mistake (after it has been quilted!)

Last spring, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. They sent me the fabric, and a computer-generated image of what the quilt should look like. And I went to work cutting, and piecing, and laying out, and more piecing, and quilting… until it was all done. After I had the quilt all put together and quilted, I laid it out on my living room floor only to discover… I’d made a mistake. I had placed the wrong block in one of the spots. And, it wasn’t out on an edge of the quilt where I might be able to pick everything out, replace the block, and then stitch everything back together. It was in the middle.

wrong fabric in place

After painstakingly laying out all the blocks, making sure everything was EXACTLY right, checking, re-checking, and double-checking at every point, I was so frustrated to have a mistake slip through! If the quilt was for my own bed, I might have left it. Things that are handmade are not perfect. That is part of the joy of handmade. The imperfections that show that real human hands put it together.

But this quilt was for the fabric manufacturer, and to hang in their booth at a Fabric Tradeshow. I wasn’t willing to let this big of an imperfection slide. So, I decided to fix the mistake.

All I needed was freezer paper, the correct fabric, a needle and thread, and my iron.

I started by tracing the triangle that was the wrong fabric onto the freezer paper.

trace incorrect piece

I cut it out, then fused it to the back of the correct fabric. I then cut about 1/4″ around the freezer paper, and ironed this in towards the freezer paper to make an applique.

remove freezer paper

I pinned the patch into place, lining up the edges of the patch with the edges of the fabric underneath.

pin down the patch

Three quick stitches in place underneath to anchor my thread before beginning…

anchor the thread

Using an invisible stitch (also called a ladder stitch), I stitched the applique piece over the incorrect fabric.

stitch down the patch

keep stitching around the patch

Once the patch was in place, I needed to quilt it. Luckily, I used a very simple straight-line quilting on this quilt, so I just needed to continue the lines across the patch.

quilt on top of patch

Yay! Quilted in place… you’d never know that there is a different fabric hiding under there…

quilted over patch

The last step was to bury my quilting threads. With both threads pulled to the top, I tied a double knot, and buried the thread and knot into the batting.

bury the threads

Although I had to hand sew on the patch, it was so much faster than tearing out all my quilting and piecing to reach the patch, replace the fabric, then re-piece and quilt everything. The extra layer of fabric doesn’t add much bulk, and isn’t at all noticeable in the finished quilt. And aren’t these Art Gallery Fabrics stunning? I just love this quilt!

fixed quilt

Simple Money for Kids

This holiday, I thought my oldest son, now 6, needed more help understanding that Christmas is about giving. With so many aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, and grandparents, there sure is a lot of getting going on! Getting is easy to enjoy… but so is giving. Giving time, giving thought, and giving donations are all ways that we can help support our communities. I love this article from Yahoo sharing  6 simple ways to give back. A great place to get started when thinking about others.

I came up with a plan for him to help earn some Christmas money that would be spent on holiday gifts. He enjoyed helping, and he loved shopping. It was hard for him to pick gifts for others when there were so many cool things HE wanted. And it was hard for him to spend money he had worked for on others. But he did enjoy finding the right thing for each person, and getting some special shopping time with me.

As he gets older, I want to keep this lesson of giving, as well as an overall responsibility with money. These are great lessons to learn young.

To help teach these concepts all year long, I grabbed three mason jars, some construction paper, scissors, and pens. I made three mason jars – one for money to save, one for money to spend, and one for money to give. I know some people use a similar system, and have certain percentages of their money that should go into each. I don’t want this system to be that rigid. I’d rather my son decide where he’d like his money to go. And because the jars are glass, he can see how much money is in each.

Simple Money for kids

I traced the lids onto the construction paper.

trace lids

Cut them out, then cut a slit in each. Make sure the hole is big enough that a folded dollar can fit in.

cut hole

Each lid gets a word – spend, save, give. You can choose different words if you like.

write on papers

Remove the metal plate portion of each lid, replace with the paper, and screw the lid back in place.

put on lid

Repeat for all the lids, your jars are done!

finished savings jars

If you’re looking for more ideas for giving, check out the Yahoo article on  6 simple ways to give back.

How to Square up Quilt Blocks

When quilting, squaring up quilt blocks is important. Squaring up blocks helps to keep the entire quilt square. The finished quilt top will lie more flat. The entire quilt will be more even. But squaring up blocks is a pain. It takes time, and sometimes it seems like maybe shaving off all those slivers can’t be as important as getting the project done NOW. But it is. Squaring up is such an essential part of having your points line up.

Here, I’m going to show you how to square up Half Square Triangle, or HST block. Because HSTs are stitched on the bias (an angle across the fibers, instead of parallel with the fibers), it can make the blocks stretch out of whack when you press the block open. I’m trimming these HSTs to 3″. I could use a 3″ ruler, but instead I use a square ruler that is larger than 3″, and just keep an eye on my 3″ mark.

trim block

I also line up the angle of the block with the 45 degree line at an angle across the ruler. This will help all the points line up. I make sure that the block is inside the 3″ mark, then trim off the excess on the two sides, where the block hangs out past the ruler.

The block gets rotated 18o degrees, and then I line up the 45 degree line, as well as the 3″ line both horizontal and vertical. Trim off the excess on two sides, and the block has been squared up!

trim other side

Repeat – over and over and over again… until all your blocks are squared up!

trim half square triangle blocks

That scrappy pile on the right… that’s a whole scrappy pile towards accuracy.

Applique Zippered Bag

I’m on a little applique kick, making some samples, and I thought I’d show you how to make this simple applique zippered bag. Super fast and easy to make, once you get it down, you’ll be making all kinds of zippered bags!

applique zippered bag

Start with your supplies. You’ll need:
9″ zipper
2 rectangles from outer fabric – 9″x6″
2 rectangles from lining fabric – 9″x6″
Applique shape cut out with fusible web on the back.

supplies for applique zippered pouch

Fuse the heart onto one of the outer pieces, stitch in place. I used a tight zig-zag.

stitch around applique

stitch around heart

Place one outer piece and one lining piece, right sides together, with the zipper between. Stitch through all three layers. If the zipper pull gets in the way, stop stitching. With the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and carefully open or close the zipper to move the zipper pull out of the way.

Press them open, exposing the zipper. If you like, add topstitching along the top of the fabric.

press to one side

Repeat with the other set of lining and outer fabrics.

stitch on second set

Once you press open the second set, lay the fabrics so that the outer fabrics are right-sides-together, and the inner fabrics are right-sides-together, with the zipper in the middle.

put right sides together

VERY IMPORTANT: Open the zipper at least halfway. This will keep you from swearing later. Then stitch around all four sides, leaving a hole about 4″ long along the bottom of the two lining pieces.

stitch all the way around

Trim off the excess zipper, then turn the bag through the hole you left.

finish applique zippered bag

Hand-stitch the hole closed, and you’re all done!

applique bag set

 

Hosting a Dr Pepper and Dye Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

For more ideas on how to create your own #BackyardBash, check out the tumblr page at www.drpepperbash.com.

hosting a dr pepper and dye party

This past weekend, I invited my friends over for a backyard bash for some one of a kind tie dye fun. I recently took a class on shibori dye techniques, and it amped up my pre-existing love for dye. I wanted to share this with my friends who haven’t tried dye before and… (spoiler alert) they loved it! I love throwing parties, including outdoor parties, and this was a one of a kind idea for creating a get together for my crafting friends!

Several of my friends came over, kids in tow, for a fun mommy-date. I hired a sitter to stay inside with the kids while we moms braved the 100+ degree heat to play with our dye.

I have a big bin in my craft room filled with all my dye supplies, so for me hosting the party was as easy as having people bring their own items to dye, pulling out the bin, gong to Wal Mart for some Dr Pepper and Cheeze-Its… and tidying the house of course! If you want to host your own dye party, but don’t have a dye bin handy, I’ll give you some tips on what to buy at the end of this post.

dye party supplies

We had a great time trying different dye techniques. We did traditional twisting dye…

pour on the dye

and I shared some techniques for using rubber bands to get different looks.

rubber bands to tie dye

Once everything was sitting in dye, we headed inside to snack. The fabric got to marinate in the dye, and develop a nice, rich color.

dye in a mason jar

After we ate, we took turns rinsing out our dyed creations.

rinse off the dye

It was so much fun to see what everyone created! This blue shirt below was as easy as folding, clamping, and soaking in dye.

shibori tie dye technique

 

These pearl grey and petal pink dyed fabrics will be going into a quilt.

grey and pink tie dye

Different colors and different techniques, and in one afternoon we made half a wardrobe!

drying off the clothes

Although it was hot, we had a perfect day with just a slight breeze. To keep garments down while dying, I was able to use Dr Pepper cans! These worked perfectly!

use dr pepper to hold down clothes

This shirt is a new technique I thought I’d try – I can’t wait to show you the results later this week!

 

If you want to host your own dye party (and you know you do!) here are my tips:

Tips for hosting a dye party

Start by deciding on a day and time that works. I picked a day when I would have a sitter handy to watch the kids. Half a dozen kids over while I have my hands in dye could be a recipe for disaster… so I wanted someone to keep an eye on the goings-on inside the house. Since I live in the desert, I wanted an early morning time (but not TOO early!), so we went from 10-2. This gave us enough time to prep our pieces, let them soak in the dye for at least an hour, and give everyone time to rinse.

If you’re new to dye, look for some different dye techniques online. Try them out before the party, if you can. I had a sampler from the class I took to show my guests what different dye techniques would look like. You might want to print out instructions for various techniques if you have lots of people coming.

Make sure you have the supplies you need on hand. Depending on the techniques you’ll be showing your guests, you’ll need different supplies. I headed to Wal Mart to buy my Dr Pepper, and any other supplies I didn’t have on hand already. While I was there, I also picked up a little Coleman cooler to keep my drinks cool during the party.

shopping for dr pepper at walmartMy shopping buddy wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures.

Here is my supply list:

Several different colored bottles of Rit Dye
Rubber Bands (I buy the large pack of black rubber bands from the hair section of the store)
Several containers for dye baths (large mason jars, wash bins, and plastic storage bins all work well)
Salt (helps give more vibrant color on cotton)
Stir Sticks (to stir your dye)
Water
A sink close at hand for rinsing
Rubber gloves (or guests who like colorful hands)
Dr Pepper, pizza, and some snacks – like Cheeze-Its!
Puppy Pads (for under dye trays)
Squirt and spray bottles
Plastic bags for taking home wet dyed clothes.

Have your guests bring their own items to dye – shirts, towels, sheets, shoes – anything white or light-colored (over-dying on pinks, yellows, light blues, and other light colors looks awesome!). The items can be old and stained (the dye will help hide the stains) or brand-new from the store.

 

After your guests rinse out their clothes, have an area they can hang them to dry. Because of the Las Vegas heat, lots of the clothes dried before my guests headed home. I also gave them washing instuctions: Wash each piece in LOTS of water (with a second rinse cycle if your washer has it). Don’t mix colors – if you have several garments with blue dye, they can be washed together… but don’t wash two different garments of different colors. Washing red and blue together, if you haven’t fully rinsed, can result in a whole lot of purple (ask me how I know!)…

Thanks again to Dr Pepper for making this such a fun party! #BackyardBash #CollectiveBias

Mini Quilt Math

Mini Quilt Math for converting your favorite patterns

Last year, I was really cranking out quilts – at a rate of about 2 per month! Yes, that is a lot of quilting! I love making quilts, and still have a lot of UFOs, as well as quilts on my wish list. But I really don’t need to make another mountain of quilts this year. To get that quilting satisfaction without all the time (and fabric!) commitment, it makes sense to make mini quilts. Several designers have started offering mini versions of their popular quilt patterns, but not every pattern is available as a mini. Instead of just crossing your fingers and hoping that your favorite patterns will be offered as mini patterns, I wrote a two-part post for Craftsy on how to use basic math to convert standard patterns into mini quilt patterns.

The first post is on basic mini quilt math. I take you through the basic steps, and at the end of the post have some tips that will help you in creating your mini.

mini jack in the pulpitThe second post is more advanced mini math – half-square triangles. It seems like they would be tricky, but if you know the “magic number” for HSTs, it is super easy to figure out how to make your mini.