June 8, 2015

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas


This easy recipe for Couscous Salad with Chickpeas is one of my absolute favorites. I discovered it a few years ago and have made it many times for office pitch-in lunches and parties with friends. It's best made the day ahead so that the flavors can marry, and it gets better and better as a leftover. I recently pulled it out when my mom was looking for something to make for a weekend getaway with her friends, and as I was digging into the leftovers, I thought, "This is so good. I should share it on the blog." So here you go.

Source: Cooking Light, http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/couscous-salad-with-chickpeas

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 1 1/3 cups)
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (typically 1 large lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
Dash of sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint (I consider this optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 large ripe tomato, chopped (can substitute chopped grape or cherry tomatoes)
2/3 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Instructions
  1. Place couscous, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in boiling water, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and sugar. Add to couscous and stir to combine.
  3. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, mint, onions, paprika, chickpeas, tomato, and feta.
Tip: Make a day ahead for best flavor.

June 7, 2015

Big Finish: Chicopee Flowers Quilt

DSC_0758

Confession: Some archived photos of my first few blocks for this quilt are dated May 2013, so I'll be honest and say I've been working on it for 2 years. It has always been a quilt I was making for myself, so the timeline was flexible. But now it's finished and I can show it off! I started with a Denyse Schmidt Chicopee jelly roll (2.5-inch strips of DS's Chicopee collection) and a variety of low-volume neutrals for the background, and I began assembling blocks using this flower quilt pattern from the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott. It was one of the first quilting books I bought when I got back into this hobby and precuts were at the height of quilty popularity.



I increased the number of blocks to 61 so that it would be a better fit on my full-sized bed -- and then I had to buy a second jelly roll to actually make all those blocks. The blocks are easy to assemble, but with 13 pieces each, they do take a bit of time. Eventually I was chain-piecing 5 or 6 blocks at a time and making good use of my design wall.



For the background fabric, I used low-volume prints purchased from a bunch of different stores, including Indianapolis fave Crimson Tate and NYC's The City Quilter, which I visited on my birthday while on a trip with my mom. I love how this mixed background turned out and how it makes the overall design more interesting.


For the backing, in honor of my dearly departed tiger kitty Jack, I selected a print from Lizzy House's Catnap collection and pieced in another of Lizzy's prints to get the backing to size. The binding is also a Lizzy print. I love how the backing prints coordinate with the colors on the front without being too matchy-matchy.


Because of its size, I sent this quilt to Abby Latimer of Latimer Lane Quilting for longarm quilting using her plumage design. Abby did a wonderful job with the quilting (and also with centering the backing). After being bound, washed, and labeled, this quilt has visited the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild and has been hanging out on my bed. The finished size is approx. 81 x 81 inches.

Sharing with the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild

May 26, 2015

Big Finish: MQG Riley Blake Fabrics Challenge Quilt (almost)


This quilt started out as my entry for the Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake fabric challenge, adhering to the following rules:
  • Make something fantastic that is quilted.
  • Make something you've never done before.
  • Challenge yourself to learn something new.
  • Use only Riley Blake Cottage Garden fabrics and coordinating Riley Blake basics and solids.

The guild provided me with a small amount of 6 fabrics from the chosen line, and I had every intention to stick to the rules. But then I got started and ran out of fabric and well, I got impatient. I ordered more Cottage Garden fabric for the quilt backing, but I also incorporated some non-Riley Blake fabrics, effectively disqualifying my quilt from the challenge competition. And I'm totally okay with that because I'm happy with the design I used and the rogue fabrics I added to the mix.


The design is based on the Pink Ponk quilt from the March/April 2015 issue of Quilty Magazine. I resized the template to accommodate the smaller cuts of fabric I received for the challenge. The new-to-me skill that I used on this quilt is machine applique using a small zigzag stitch. I used freezer paper to press the rounded edges before stitching each half circle in place on its rectangle background piece. For the quilting, I first stitched the modified star design in the space between each circle shape, and then I created that same star shape within each circle, using curves to connect the midpoints. The resulting design resembles an orange peel pattern. The finished size is 39 x 41 inches.


December 1, 2014

2014 Holiday Wreath: Candy Cane Monogram


Ta-DA! Here is my 2014 Christmas wreath that ran me a whole $5 this year because many of the materials came out of storage bins in my basement. The wooden "G" was a Joann's purchase along with a little bottle of white acrylic paint and a red paint pen. The wreath, ribbon, and clip-on poinsettia were all Christmas leftovers.

Looking to recycle an old wreath into something new to dress up your door? Follow these simple steps:
  1. Remove adornments from an existing wreath (or pick up a new plain wreath if you don't have an old one to recycle). My old wreath had some gold jingle bells and some plaid ribbon wrapped around it, and it didn't even come out with the rest of my decorations last year, so it was primed for a comeback.
  2. Select 3-4 yards of wired ribbon. I was able to find a spool of ribbon in the depths of my holiday decor stash, but if you have to buy it new, it should cost around $3-$6 on sale (and this time of year, practically everything is on sale).
  3. Purchase a wooden letter and paint it white. I applied two coats to make it opaque. Don't waste any time sanding the letter before you paint it unless your letter could cause splinters or prohibit you from drawing straight lines across it easily.
  4. After the white paint is dry, use a ruler and pencil to draw diagonal lines across the letter every 1/2 inch.
  5. Use a red paint pen to create the candy cane effect, drawing over and filling in between your lines as pictured.


I used a length of ribbon to tie the "G" to the wreath and then hid it with a poinsettia-topped bow. The lengths of ribbon behind the wreath are simply looped onto the wreath hanger and draped behind the wreath for a little sparkle.

Pinterest is the best place to find wreath inspiration. Below is the original from Craftaholics Anonymous. Instead of decoupage, I painted. And instead of purchasing a new boxwood wreath, I recycled some faux greenery. The end result is essentially the same, and it cost a lot less, which makes it a hands-down winner in my book.

http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/monogram-christmas-wreath-tutorial

November 12, 2014

Big Finish: Rainbow Volume Quilt


I started this baby quilt as part of my post for Craft Buds Craft Book Month in September. The pattern is from Emily Cier's book Scrap Republic, which offers 8 bright and colorful patterns and loads more ideas for using scraps and mixing things up. When my turn came around to post for Craft Book Month, I only had the quilt top done -- you can see that post here.

Volume quilt

I decided to finish this quilt as a baby quilt for someone special, so I sifted through my stash looking for potential backing fabrics. Luckily, the front is so colorful that almost anything looks good on the back. I decided on a large piece of this pink apple print that I'd picked up at a backroom clearance sale at my mom's local quilt shop in TN. I added a coordinating green print from DS Quilts to make up the difference.

Volume quilt

This small quilt with straight column seams was a great opportunity to experiment with some new machine quilting. I used my walking foot, increased the settings for my zigzag stitch, and quilted on either side of each vertical seam. With so many seams in the piecing, I think any denser quilting patterns would have made the whole thing just too stiff. The minimal zigzag quilting secures the quilt and adds enough visual interest and texture without going overboard. For binding, I got lucky and had enough of this bias stripe left over from another quilt (seriously, I had about 6 inches to spare - perfect fit!). The colors were right, and I was happy to not have to make binding for a change.

Volume quilt

I love how this quilt turned out. Everyone who sees it in person says "It's so much smaller than it looked in your photos!" But I think that surprise is part of the fun, and it makes for a perfect baby quilt. I can't wait to send this one off to its new home where I know it will be used and loved for a long time.

Volume quilt

November 11, 2014

Big Finish: My 2012 Craftsy Block of the Month Quilt


This quilt has been a long time in the making. Back in February 2012, I'd finished teaching 2 of my friends the basics of quilting with some simple patchwork quilts for donation, and they were eager for another project. We found the free Craftsy Block of the Month (or BOM) series that was just getting started with instructor/blogger Amy Gibson. For 10 months, the series supplied patterns and instructions for 2 blocks each month -- all different and each one using new skills and techniques.

2012 Craftsy Block of the Month

We bought our fabric and got started, meeting after work at each others' homes to work on our blocks together, and I posted most of our finished blocks here on the blog along the way. Amanda went on maternity leave and had to put her project on hold, but Caitie and I kept meeting and eventually finished our 20 blocks.

2012 Craftsy Block of the Month

Caitie was the first to assemble her quilt top and begin quilting. I was drawn into some other projects and took a little more time to figure out what kind of border I wanted to add to my quilt. Then I changed my mind and needed more time to actually piece the border, a scrappy variation on Dresden plate wedges.

2012 Craftsy Block of the Month

I have to admit that by the time I'd finished my quilt top, I was pretty tired of looking at it and not at all interested in attempting to quilt it myself. So after letting it hang in my closet for a while, I contacted Melissa at Sew Shabby Quilting. Best. decision. ever. Melissa was great to work with -- responsive, skilled, affordable, and fast. I sent my quilt top and backing to her in Utah and had it back -- longarm quilted beautifully -- in around 3 weeks.

2012 Craftsy Block of the Month

I bound it by hand with a green print that I had in my fabric stash (yay for not spending more $!), and following a spin in the washer and dryer, the quilt that was more than 2 years in the making is finally cozying up my bed, just in time for the chill of fall and winter.

September 15, 2014

Craft Book Month: Scrap Republic

Craft Book Month

Happy Craft Book Month! I hope you've been enjoying all the wonderful projects and posts you've seen so far as part of this little celebration. I love the see the wide range of projects that people are tackling and the diverse selection of craft books they come from. I've spotted a few new-to-me books in the group that I will definitely be checking out soon.


This is my third year participating in the blog hop for Craft Book Month, and I'm honored that Lindsay at Craft Buds asked me to participate. Initially, I had a book and project in mind. I didn't own the book, so I requested it from the library and sat down with it. After a few days of mulling it over, I decided to set that book and project aside -- I just wasn't feeling inspired. And that's okay, right? Instead, I picked a book from my own collection, Emily Cier's Scrap Republic. This book published in 2011, so it's not new on the scene, but it's not to be missed. My non-quilty friend Jessica bought me this book for my birthday years ago; she'd seen it at the bookstore, thought it was cool, and thought I might enjoy it. At the time, I loved flipping through the book, but I just never got around to making any of its scrap-tastic projects. And so Scrap Republic sat on my bookshelf, forgotten and unappreciated, until a few weeks ago.




There are 8 cool, colorful projects in this book. One thing I love about these designs is that they look far more complicated than they truly are. I chose to make the Volume quilt, thinking it would be a great way to both sort and use up a lot of my scraps. I like that Emily provides a second option for each project, calling it "Solace for the Scrapless." It's a clever way to change up a pattern depending on the fabrics you have on hand.

I cut many more scraps than I needed (which means there's another Volume quilt in my future, for sure), and once I got to work chain-piecing and putting the pieces up on my design wall, I couldn't stop. This quilt is addicting. Consider my Instagram activity as evidence:


As you can see (I hope), I chose to put my lighter shades to the left and let the color intensify as the eye moves to the right. I had a lot of fun picking my scraps for each section and positioning them so the color saturation moved the right way.



Thanks to some other projects in my queue lately, I wasn't able to completely finish this quilt in time for today's post, so I'm sharing the finished quilt top now and I'll share the finished quilt shortly. I have a plan for this one and can't wait to see it finished, gifted, and enjoyed. And I'm confident that I'll be picking up Scrap Republic again for more projects in the future.




2014 Craft Book Month Blog Hop!

I've teamed up with some fabulous bloggers who will be showing off their projects made from craft books, all month long!

Monday 9/1: Fabric Mutt / Lindsay Sews

Tuesday 9/2: Rae Gun Ramblings / Craftside

Wednesday 9/3: The Feisty Redhead / The Fabric Studio

Thursday 9/4: Marci Girl Designs / Small Town Stitcher

Friday 9/5: LRstitched / A Prairie Sunrise
Monday 9/8: Hopeful Threads / sewVery

Tuesday 9/9: 13 Spools / Lisa Liza Lou

Wednesday 9/10: Stitch This! / My Sewcial Hour

Thursday 9/11: The Littlest Thistle / Fabric Seeds

Friday 9/12: Sew Sweetness / Clover + Violet

Monday 9/15: Inspire Me Grey / amylouwho

Link Up

9/1-9/30: Link up your craft book project at Craft Buds from your blog, instagram or Flickr account, and enter to win prizes. To participate in the month-long contest, just link up any project you've made from a pattern in a craft book. That easy! You'll tell us a little about the book, the project, how you personalized it, etc. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October, 1!

Rules

1) One entry per person.

2) Your craft book project must have been completed in 2014.

3) Create a new blog post, instagram or Flickr photo (dated September 1, 2014 or later) and link back to Craft Buds/Craft Book Month in your post or photo description (tag #craftbookmonth for instagram). In your post or photo description, make sure to list the craft book you used and provide a link if possible.

4) All winners chosen via Random.org. Some prizes available to international winners, so please join us!





Prizes

Visit Craft Buds and link up your craft book project during the window of Sept 1-30 and you'll automatically be entered to win some fantastic prizes from the Craft Book Month sponsors!
Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

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