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Reverse Tweezers

One of my favorite “unsung hero tools” are the reverse tweezers. What are they you ask??? Well, regular tweezers you squeeze to close them. Reverse tweezers you squeeze to open them so they are closed when resting. So when does this come in handy? Just about anytime you need an extra hand or finger. Today […]

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Quilt Block Mania – June 2023

The theme for this months blocks is “Places”. What better place than our blue pearl floating along in the universe? I immediately thought of a family of aliens coming to visit Earth. The kids were whining “Are we there yet?” to which Mom excitedly responds “Only 2.5 million miles to go…almost there!” Ha! Pattern includes […]

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Quilt Block Mania – April 2023

I’m excited to be participating in Quilt Block Mania. The theme this month is “Neighborhood”. When I first saw this I thought of a street sign. I know, I’m just a little odd… It could be the sign for your street or perhaps a dream vacation spot or maybe a memory of a fun time […]

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2020 Color Challenge – March


Do you ever have one of those days where you realize you probably just shouldn’t be sewing? Well, that was me doing the March block. It wasn’t that it was difficult, it was just me. I re-sewed the center five times. Five. Times…and it’s still not perfect but I can live with it! Granted it was late at night and I probably just should have set it aside and tried again the next day but it’s done now.

This month’s color was orange. I used my two different backgrounds and added an orangey-gold for the center pinwheel.

The instructions have you make what I call the Heart Flying Geese method, one of my favorites!

Do you ever have this happen? You pin at the points that need to match and the in-between parts aren’t the same size? Want an easy fix? Simply place the longer side (in the photo that would be the top layer) against the feed dogs. Your machine will take care of the rest.

See…all better! No ripples, tucks or wrinkles. Works every time.

Here are my first three blocks. I’m really liking how this is turning out! Next months color is purple and it’s my official turn to be a blogger (I smell prizes…)

You can get the free instructions here…but only for the month of March! Did I mention that there are awesome prizes too? Thanks for putting this all together Patterns by Jen! You can check out the March bloggers too:

Catherine of Ali & CC
Kathryn of Dragonfly’s Quilting Design Studio
Pamela of Pamela Quilts
Carolyn of Sweet Boater Chick
Anja of Anja Quilts

#2020monthlycolorchallenge #cherrywoodfabrics #purplemoosedesigns

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2020 Color Challenge – February


The February block for the 2020 Color Challenge is up. This months color is Aqua. Just like last month that is a color that is lacking in my Cherrywood stash…sigh…the rest of the months I should be fine. Nothing like starting off a challenge and making it more challenging! Here is my version of the block. I did use two different blues for some added interest…and to stretch my blues!

This block has a lot of half-square triangles that come together. They can be a little tricky to sew together sometimes.

When you have two squares like those shown above you have a lot of bulk where the diagonals come together which can throw off your machine. Here’s a couple of tips:

*Use a walking foot. This will help feed the top and bottom layers at the same speed.

*Start at the two-layer end first. I don’t usually do this with my go-to machine but one of my other machines doesn’t mind going from few layers to more layers. It detests going from much bulk to less. If I’m using that machine then I will sew opposite of what’s shown in the above photo.

*Use a fine point stiletto. Be forewarned…once you start using a stiletto you can never go back!

You can stick that stiletto point right up near the needle. It will help to hold the fabric layers in place and keep any flaps from flipping. Better to run over the stiletto than your finger (spoken from experience) Hmm…I see my machine needs a good cleaning…

Next month’s color is orange. I have lots of that color!

You can get the free instructions here…but only for the month of February! Did I mention that there are awesome prizes too? Thanks for putting this all together Patterns by Jen! You can check out the February bloggers too:

Kathy – Penny For My Thoughts

Joanne – Everyone Deserves a Quilt

Claudia – Create with Claudia

Carolyn – Sweet Boater Chick

Sheila – So This is Kentucky

#2020monthlycolorchallenge #cherrywoodfabrics #purplemoosedesigns

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Checking out the Asian Market!


When we lived in California I was a frequent visitor to the Japanese markets. I missed them very much during my time in rural New England. Not sure why it has taken us so long to check out the markets here in Colorado but today we took a field trip. First thing we spot after entering the door? Yup, duck…the whole duck. This market must be the real deal!

Then it was off to the housewares section. Found a couple of dishes I couldn’t live without. Not sure how I feel about the traps available there though…

Lost the kids in the ramen aisle. Yup, an entire aisle devoted to the staple of poor youth everywhere!

Lots of interesting items. Durian seemed to be the product of the day. Every aisle had some kind of durian product. Lots of stinky choices. I’ll pass…

I regret not getting the watermelon seeds. Guess I’ll be heading back!

Then it was off to the meat counter…so many choices…pork uterus, beef penis, pork stomach (loved the marbling on this one!)…uh, no…

The seafood counter was impressive! The Parrot fish looks too pretty to eat.

The produce aisle offered lots of interesting finds. Wonder how you make chocolate from scratch? What do you do with banana flowers?

There were a few items that didn’t quite seem to belong…

Asian products always have the cutest packaging. A little sweet for the way home. Have you ever seen a hybrid drink container? Plastic on the bottom but metal on the top!

There were lots and lots of balls made from all manner of ingredients. The tempura balls seemed popular. And what would you need a ginormous sheet of bean curd for? It was folded several times in the package!

And just when we thought we had seen everything…

So…what did we have for dinner? Soup with dumplings and BBQ bow and leek bow. Yum. I also brought home some spices and condiments for future foodie adventures!

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2020 Color Challenge – January


The instructions for the January block of the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge are up. This month’s color is yellow. There is not a whole lot of yellow in my Cherrywood stash so it was a little touch and go whether I would have to break my “no buy” rule in the first month! I did manage to squeak out just enough…hope I don’t need any yellow in the coming months! Here’s my block:

You may notice a difference in the background fabrics. I did not have enough of any one color that I liked for the background. I chose to use two different ones. One with green tones and one with blue tones.

At first I thought I would do some blocks with one and some with the other. Then I decided to mix it up and use both in each block. I think it’s going to add some extra zing. What do you think?

You can get the free instructions here…but only for the month of January! Did I mention that there are awesome prizes too? Thanks for putting this all together Patterns by Jen! You can also check out the January bloggers too:

Kathy – Kathy’s Kwilts and More

Kathy – Penny For My Thoughts

Joanne – Everyone Deserves A Quilt

Sarah – The Quilted Diary

Willow – Bear Paw Stitch and Design

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2020 Monthly Color Challenge


Guess what I’ll be doing in the new year? I’m excited to be one of the bloggers for this color challenge. I’m only required to make a couple of blocks during the year but I’m planning on doing them all. This challenge is put on by Patterns By Jen. Each month you will receive instructions for a block done in one color way or one color and a black or white background. It’s totally free to participate. You can get all the details on Jen’s blog.

I’ve decided to dive into the stash of my beloved Cherrywood fabrics. I’m thinking I will use a couple of the darker fabrics for the background…we’ll see. I have made a vow to not buy anything new. Everything for this challenge must come from this bag. Nothing like adding a challenge on top of a challenge…

Sure hope you’ll join in the fun. I’ve had a peek at the blocks for the year (one of the perks for being one of the bloggers!) and there is nothing fancy or difficult. You can do this…grab your scrap bin and let’s get to it! First block goes out New Year’s Eve.

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The Long Game!


Twenty one years ago I started something and finally got to finish it. I had a brand new baby and her first Christmas was approaching. I needed a 1st Christmas ornament, but not just any ornament as I had something special in mind. I remember the day as if it were last week. It was the first time that I had left the house…by myself! The store that I wanted to go to was 45 minutes away and I knew Moosette would need to nurse again in a couple of hours. No time to waste. I ended up getting this handmade porcelain ornament. It was perfect.

It has lots of pink on it. Not my favorite color at all but it was for my little baby girl. Turns out, she’s not a pink person either! This ornament has hung on our tree every year. When it gets put away each year I slip a little note inside. I wrote down what her milestones were that year, who her besties were, what music she listened to, favorite foods. I even included a few personal things that only a Mom would include (shouldn’t everyone know when their boobs got bigger?)

I often thought about when I would give the ornament to her. Maybe when she turned 18 or had a child of her own…21 years old sounded perfect. It took some time to fish all the little rolled up notes from the belly of the ornament. Then she read them all out loud. We all laughed. It was interesting to see when the favorite foods/colors/music actually showed up in her life. Moosette and I both cried a little too.

All in all I think I did pretty good. I only missed two years…her second Christmas and 2017. She was just entering the terrible two stage at the time of the second Christmas so I’m sure I was a little flustered…I’ll give myself a pass on that one. I have no idea what prevented me from doing 2017. Now I’m wondering what I’m going to do when I put the Christmas decorations away this year…

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I Made A Light Box…For Almost FREE!

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I’ve been wanting a light box for awhile now. It just kept getting pushed down the to-do list. Well, today I made one. It may not be pretty but it’s very effective.

My Light Box – what are the chances that I would make it upside down? 100%…

I started out by watching this video. I liked that they had the light source come from the top instead of the sides like other tutorials. I did switch things up a bit though. They used a piece of poster board (as most tutorials do). Due to the size of the poster board it didn’t go all the way to the top of the box. I also didn’t have a piece of poster board on hand and that would have required a trip to the store. I did have some decor bond and some white fabric. I fused the fabric to the decor bond and cut it down to size. It ended up to be about the same flexibility and non-see-thru-ness of poster board. This was a big plus since I was planning on photographing taller items and wanted the background to go all the way up. An unexpected bonus was that I preferred the subtle texture of the background due to fabric instead of poster board.

I had almost all the other supplies on hand. Shocker…I still have boxes laying around after moving! I did have some led clamp lights from my vending days but wasn’t sure if they would work. While they are a bit clunky (and I may switch over to a more compact light source later) they work for now.

I then played with what to put over the opening at the top to diffuse the light. I tried a medium weight interfacing and a lightweight one. I preferred the lightweight. The lightweight was the only thing I didn’t have on hand. I spent 86 cents…breakout the loan paperwork!

Medium Weight Interfacing
Lightweight Interfacing
Lightweight Interfacing
Medium Weight Interfacing

I also tried a light inside the box but it really yellowed things out and created too many shadows.

Inside Light
Inside Light

Light boxes are great for photographing items without distracting backgrounds, excessive shadows and letting the items take center stage. If you’re thinking of a light box I highly recommend getting it done. It took me about an hour and a half, start to finish. Easy peasy! Who knows, after I play with it a bit I may gussy up the outside…maybe some purple paint…a little something snappy…

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Homemade Ramen


I don’t know how it is at your house but things get pretty creative in the menu planning department around here towards the end of the month. Such is life when you only get paid once per month. Last week I was trying to figure out what to make when I started thinking about the cash-poor/starving-college-student staple, ramen. I decided to see if I could make a homemade version and take it up a notch. I scored! Here we go…

  • 3 boneless chicken thighs
  • a bit of oil for sauteing
  • 1/2 onion, chopped small
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped small
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, small
  • 2-3 baby bella mushrooms, chopped small
  • 8 cups chicken stock, homemade or boxed
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 package of thin fettuccine noodles or thick spaghetti noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg
  • garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cured sumac, optional but highly recommended *see note below

In a large stock pot quickly brown chicken in oil until almost done. Remove from pan and set aside to cool a bit then chop into small bite sized pieces. While the chicken is cooling saute onion, carrots, mushrooms and broccoli in the same pot until almost done. Add chicken stock to pan being sure to scrape up all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pot. Add chicken back to pot and season to taste with the spices. Once it’s come to a boil add noodles and cook until they are al-dente. Add the butter, corn and peas to the pot and mix well. Crack egg into cup and mix well. With a spoon in one hand, get the stock swirling in a circle. With the other hand slooowwllly add the egg to form ribbons. Serve it up. Tastes even better the next day when the noodles have soaked up the juices!

One of the beauties of ramen is all the different versions there are. Feel free to add or eliminate items to suit your own tastes.

*Sumac Note: I love to try new spices and this is my new favorite one. You probably won’t find it in your local grocery store. I get mine from The Spice House. This spice hails from Turkey. According to their description it is “Big and bright with lemony notes of sour cherry and dried cranberries…” It really did put the OMG in this dish. Try it out yourself! Will your ramen taste ok without it? Probably, but I’m not willing to risk it…

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A Quick Meal For Those Busy Days!


I love to feed my family a homemade meal made with fresh and healthy ingredients. Some days though…I just want something quick to make. I’m sure you can relate to a busy day during the run-up to the holidays. Today was just such a day for me. I decided to make Tater Tot Casserole. It may not be the healthiest but it’s stick-to-your-ribs fulfilling and it’s tasty. It’s not something I make often but it was perfect for today. 10 minutes of assembly and I’m back to work.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

1 pound of hamburger (you will not have a chance to drain the fat so don’t use the cheap stuff, get the least % of fat available!)

2 cans cream of XXX soup – you can totally change the flavor profile by which soups you use – cream of celery, mushroom, chicken, chicken with flavorings… Today I used Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic and Cream of Chicken with Mushroom

1 container of French Fried Onions – the kind you use in the famous green bean casserole. It used to come in a small cardboard “can” but I can’t find those anymore. It would use the whole container. Now I get them in the salad fixings sections but it’s in a bigger bag so there will be leftovers. Side note: super tasty on a salad!

1 package of Tater Tots – I used the store brand, it was a two pound bag and there were still some left over

Salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder

Layer it up!

1.Spread the raw hamburger evenly in a 9X13 pan and pat down. 

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. I don’t measure, just sprinkle. Easy on the salt though, the other ingredients have salt too.

3. Crush the fried onions in your hands and spread over the hamburger. )

4. Place dollops of the cream soups on top of the onions. Spread into an even layer making sure not to move all the onions to one end!

5. Place frozen tater tots on top. I line them up like little soldiers. If you wanted to take a little more time maybe you could come up with a cute quilt pattern for them!

6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until soup is bubbly and the tater tots are browned. Let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. If you don’t let it rest, it will be a big pile of mush. Still tasty, just not very pretty.

Today I served it with steamed broccoli. Depending on your appetite you can get about 6-8 servings. Bonus – we have enough leftover for lunch tomorrow!

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31 Day Blog Challenge


Cheryl Sleboda of has issued a 31 day blog challenge for the month of December and I’ve decided to take the challenge! Each day (hopefully!) I will do a blog post. I have the first few days all done and scheduled. Several more are in my head and just need to be written.

What kinds of things will I blog about? Quilting tips, recipes, color inspiration photos, highlights of cool products…all fun and informative stuff. We’re even going to have a couple of FLASH SALES. Super prices on cool products for a very quick time period. What day will those be on you ask? Well…you’re just gonna have to check back to find out!

Lots of folks have taken up Cheryl’s challenge. You can find the list of participants here. See ya tomorrow!

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