GirlKit

I know I’m a bit late in posting this – so sorry! But, I am excited to finally announce the winners of the October Correspondence Kits!

Congrats to Bethany and Melissa!

Be sure to check you email for a message from me (and be sure to check your spam folder, my messages tend to end up there for some reason)– I’ll need to know what kind of kit you’d like (older boy, older girl, younger girl, younger boy, or birthday) and your mailing address.

Everyone else, Thanks again for participating and remember, I give 2 kits away every month & offer them outside of giveaways.

Happy Thursday!

It’s pretty safe to say we’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year – over 320! And, while I love a good garden tomato freshly sliced and salted, there’s just so many you can eat before you realize you’re on the verge of burning out and still not making a dent in the crop. So, in order to save the tomatoes, and still have some garden fresh tastes long into the winter, I opted to can most of our crop. Canning is a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort, especially come January when you’re snowed in and really just want a warm, hearty soup. At that point, there’s nothing better than being able to pull out your own garden’s produce and whip up a bowl of pure comfort.

To can, I follow the super simple steps my Grandmother taught me:

  1. Find a large stock pot and fill it 3/4 full of water
  2. Place pot on burner and turn heat to medium-high
  3. Add tomatoes to the still-cool water, until the pot is full and the tomatoes still have a bit of room to float aroundTomatoCanning_3
  4. Boil tomatoes until their skin cracksTomatoCanning_2
  5. Remove tomatoes from water and let them cool a bit (We had so many tomatoes that we boil in batches until all the tomatoes have cracked open)
  6. Peel and core the tomatoes
  7. Drain the water, put the peeled/cored tomatoes back into the pot (for diced/crushed/pieced tomatoes give them a rough chop before dropping back into the pot)TomatoCanning_1
  8. Add a tablespoon or so of salt and simmer the tomatoes for about 15 minutes
  9. In the meantime, get out your sterilized jars and can lids.TomatoCanning_4
  10. Bring a small saucepan 1/2 full of water to a simmer. Drop the sealing lids in the hot water for a few seconds to soften the wax.
  11. Once the tomatoes are finished simmering, pour them into your sterilized jars. Fill only to where the threads begin on the jar’s top.
  12. Wipe the mouth of the jar clean, top with a waxed sealing lid, and loosely screw on the rim.
  13. Let the jars sit until you hear that classic “pop” indicating that the jars have sealed.
  14. Once cool, store your now canned tomatoes away in a cabinet for use later.
  15. If you have any jars that failed to seal, store those jars in the refrigerator and use them within a couple of weeks.

Note, there are several ways to can, some call for additional processing. This is the method that works for me. And so far, I’ve gotten over 10 quarts of tomatoes canned and ready for the winter.

Do you can anything from your garden?

It’s the second third Friday of the month, and you know what that means: I’m way overdue in offering another Correspondence Kit Giveaway! (And also time to get those letters out to your sponsored kids - click here to read about how sponsors all over the world are connecting and writing the second Friday every month)

What is it?

Simply put, a Correspondence Kit is, as the name suggests, a kit to help you with correspondence; specifically letter writing to Compassion Sponsored children. Each kit includes a variety of paper, letter templates, and goodies all for you to personalize and send to your sponsored child. I give away 2 kits on the second Friday of each month.

Types of Kits:

I currently offer 4 gender & aged based kits – Young Boy, Young Girl, Older Boy, & Older Girl. I also offer a netral Birthday kit. The photos below show one girl kit, one boy kit, and the birthday kit.

GirlKit

Each kit will come with an assortment of pattered papers & color copies of the templates I’ve designed and featured on this blog. In the boy & girl kits, there will be enough paper & templates to write your child at least once a month for an entire year. In the birthday kit, there will be enough paper & templates to send a very special birthday packet as well as six months worth of letters.

Each kit will also feature and assortment of goodies that will be age & gender appropriate. These might include: stickers, paper puzzles, coloring sheets, activity pages, gospel tracts, etc.

How to enter:

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know that you’d like to win. Easy Peasy!

For an additional entries, follow me on instagramfollow me on twitter, tweet this giveaway, and/or share the giveaway on facebook (you can use the social media buttons at the end of this post). Leave one comment per task you complete to let me know. That’s a total of 4 possible entries.

This giveaway will remain open all weekend, and winners will be announced Monday night, October 20, 2014.

Please note, due to postage costs, this giveaway is limited to those with a mailing address in the United States or Canada.  

Good Luck & Happy Friday!

I’m also now offering these kits outside of giveaways. Click here or on the button in the side bar for more information.

After my 26quilts project, I took a bit of a break from quilting. The whole “let’s make 26 quilts in year” thing sort of burns you out after a bit. That being said, I couldn’t NOT make a quilt for my good friend Jamie – especially since she’d been wanting to make one herself for years and just didn’t know where to begin. Months ago – right in the middle of my quilting spree, Jamie brought me a tub full of flannel Elvis themed fabric. Being a huge Elvis fan, she’d been wanting to make an Elvis themed rag quilt, but wasn’t sure what to back the quilt with, or what design to use. Jamie had pre-cut tons of large squares from the fabric, and then got stuck. ElvisQuilt_3

I took a look at what she had, imported some photos into Quiltography, and we played around with different design ideas; finally settling on a chevron pattern alternating the Elvis print with a solid dark teal and a light blue patterned chevron print. I took all of Jamie’s pre-cut squares and made even more half-square triangles.ElvisQuilt_6

I arranged the half-square-triangles into the chevron pattern and stitched them all together. This is the first time I’ve really worked with flannel, and aside from being more lint-y, there was practically no difference. I backed the quilt with a solid yellow flannel, accented with one chevron of the elvis fabric running down the middle.ElvisQuilt_2

To quilt, I stitched across all of the diagonal lines formed by the chevrons, creating an overall diamond pattern that held just the right amount of fluff. ElvisQuilt_1

This is definitely a cuddly quilt, soft and full of wrinkles. The flannel puckers nicely when quilted, and just begs to be busted out on a rainy day with a book and comfy couch. I finished the quilt just in time for Jamie’s birthday – which was perfect, not only because it was her birthday, but also because we had plans to go to Graceland. What better way to kick off an Elvis-themed birthday than with a great Elvis quilt and a trip to Graceland?ElvisQuilt_4

Needless to say Jamie loved the quilt and the trip, too. ElvisQuilt_7

What fun projects have you been working on?

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Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Dallas for a work-related workshop. I flew in Monday and had the entire afternoon to explore Dallas before the workshop began on Tuesday. Before leaving, I scouted out several area attractions online and narrowed my options down based on proximity to the airport, proximity to my hotel, and amount of time required to see the entire attraction. Normally, I seek out a live theatre production or museum first. And, while Dallas has so many live theatre options – none of them had a show going that would fit my available time while I was there….super disappointing. Knowing that, I went back and forth between the Dallas Zoo, the Perot Museum, and the Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The zoo had some recent storm damage and closed exhibits – taking it off the list; the Perot Museum reads more like a children’s museum online with lots of reading exhibits (think posters on the walls type of displays) – which took it off the list; leaving the Arboretum. Being halfway between the airport and my hotel didn’t hurt, either.Dallas_03

The Gardens were beautiful – all decked out for Autumn with tons of pumpkins, mums, and other cool-blooming flowers. Not to mention, the squirrels were going crazy stocking up on pumpkin seeds and nuts. Dallas_07 Dallas_09 Dallas_06 Dallas_08 Dallas_05 Dallas_02

There were also a ton of monarch butterflies stopping by on their way to Mexico. Dallas_10 Dallas_01Overall, I’m happy that the Arboretum won and had a good afternoon wandering around the various gardens.

Have you ever been to the Dallas Arboretum – or an arboretum in general? Do you know of any other great attractions in Dallas?

 

This, simply this -

time and dreams – we have a limited number of one and an infinite number of the other and the key to it all is in the balance, the strive, and the prioritization.

What dreams will you chase tonight?

HATriangleQuilt

It’s Labor Day here in the US, and I hope you all are blessed and enjoying the extra long weekend – I know I am. But, if you’re not sure how to spend your day, and you’re looking for a few inspirations, be sure to check out the links below.

As for me, I’m spending the day covered in fabric – catching up on a few quilting projects. More info coming soon!

Happy Labor Day!

25FunExtrasPinterest

As you know, I’m a passionate Compassion International Child Advocate with three sponsored children in South America. As a sponsor, I give $38 per child per month to provide for their education, health, and Christian studies. More important that the financial contribution, however, are the letters I send. The words of encouragement and love mailed half-way across world to children in desperate need of validation. Words that serve as hugs on difficult days and offer glimpses into the life of someone who cares. By far, the letters matter more than the money.

Over my 8 years as a Compassion Sponsor, I’ve picked up a few tips for letter-writing, and now as an Advocate, I am called to support current sponsors and encourage them to make letter-writing an integral part of their sponsorship experience. In doing so, I thought it might be fun to share a few examples of the many “goodies” sponsors can send along with letters. Please note, Compassion restricts “goodies” to: small paper-based items no larger than 8-1/2″ x 11″ and cannot be more than 1/4″ thick. Also, it is a good practice to label all pieces with your sponsor number and the child’s number.

And so, here are 25 Fun Extras to Include in Your Compassion Letters:

  1. Bible Coloring Pages (include 2 – you color one and let your sponsor child color one)
  2. Extreme Dot-to-Dot (great for older sponsored kids)
  3. Bright Pocket Folders (no brads – these are slightly larger than the 8 1/2″ x 11″, but I’ve never had a problem with them going through)
  4. Sticker Sheets
  5. Sticker Dress-up Dolls
  6. Holiday Cards
  7. “Thinking of You” Cards
  8. Letter Templates
  9. Paper Origami Sheets with picture instructions
  10. Color by Number Pages
  11. Watercolor Pages
  12. Hidden Picture Posters
  13. Temporary Tattoos
  14. Card-stock Dollhouses (Found at Dollar Tree)
  15. Travel Postcards
  16. Photos of You
  17. Photos of You when you were your sponsored child’s age
  18. Photos of your sponsored child (They may not have one)
  19. Travel Postcards
  20. Decorative Post-it Notes
  21. Certificates of Achievement
  22. Decorative Band-aids
  23. Paper cut-outs for bulletin boards (stars in above photo)
  24. Small, thin story books
  25. Lacing Cards

For an ever-evolving list of “goodies” to send to Sponsored Children, be sure to follow my Pinterest Board.

 

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27. August 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Sewing · Tags: ,

26quiltsgridbFrom April 2013 to April 2014 I set a goal of finishing 26 quilts to celebrate my 26th year. It was an insane project that truly took me until May of 2014 to complete 100%, and definitely kept me busy – at one point, I was finishing a quilt a week. But, in all of those months of quilting, I can say, without a doubt, I accomplished the goals I set when I first started this project. I am a more confident quilter. I have tried new techniques and, as a direct result of this project, have participated in two quilt swaps (more on these coming soon). I have shared woven love with friends near and far, and in the process, created a plethora of memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Most importantly, I learned so, so much. A few of the tidbits I discovered include:

  • Quality fabric is expensive, but worth it
  • The “simplest” of quilts can be the most appreciated of gifts
  • Seam Rippers are my best friend
  • It’s always a good idea to buy more needles and thread that you’ll think you’ll need
  • Audiobooks are awesome background noise
  • Cats are strongly attracted to quilts – both finished and not
  • Quilting is an excellent ‘escape’
  • free-motion quilting is harder than it looks
  • corner matching can make or break your pattern
  • Like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing (It took me three months after #26quilts to want to pick up another piece of fabric)

While I do not have anything planned for my 27th year, I am still quilting. In fact, I have at least 5 quilts on my list that need to be finished before Christmas. So, all in all, I’m calling this one a huge success. To view a complete list of all 26 quilts, click here. For a glimpse of my upcoming quilting projects, follow me on instagram.

Happy Quilting!

 

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We have an incredibly mild summer in Northeastern Arkansas – and the straw-bale garden has been booming because of it. As I said back when we first planted the garden, this year we moved the location of our straw bales to an area that gets full sun all day. That simple change has made a huge difference in our yield.GardenUpdateS2014_5

Unfortunately, the tomatoes and carrots are the only plants still producing, but despite the loss of the cucumbers and squash, we still had an abundant harvest. I’m fairly sure that the mosquito sprayer, paired with inadequate spacing on my part, is what finally got the cucumbers & squash. Next year we plan to add another 12 bales and have an entire row of tomatoes and then 1/2 a row of cucumbers and 1/2 a row of squash – spacing everything out more and better supporting all of the vining plants.GardenUpdateS2014_1

Thankfully, other than major sprawling from the vines, we haven’t had any real problems with the garden this year. Both the cucumbers and squash produced a ton before finally croaking, and we were even able to harvest some broccoli and cauliflower this year – a first for us. I can confidently say that each year since we first started straw-bale gardening, we’ve seen nothing but improvement. This is still the easiest gardening method I’ve ever tried and the most bountiful.
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So far this growing season, we’ve harvested:

  • 172 tomatoes
  • 12 carrots
  • 21 yellow summer squash
  • 5 zucchini
  • 3 watermelons
  • 4 cantaloupes
  • at least 4 quarts of strawberries
  • at least 4 bundles of asparagus spears
  • 80 cucumbers
  • 5 heads of cauliflower
  • 10 heads of broccoli

That’s more than double what we harvested last year.
GardenUpdateS2014_7
Last night alone, I picked nearly 30 tomatoes. Seriously, I love a good garden-grown tomato & we are up to our ears in them! I’ll be canning the majority of our harvest and plan to share my canning process soon. I also did a bit of pickling with the cucumbers, but honestly, haven’t found that golden recipe for awesome pickles just yet. If you’ve got a favorite pickle recipe, I’d love to know what it is! Mine turn out much too sour or the vinegar is much to strong….
GardenUpdateS2014_4

How is your garden? Do you have any plans for Fall planting?

 

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