Friday, November 29, 2013

Granny Quilt Take 2

I love mixing techniques together.  One of my favorites is crochet and quilting.   I love the combination of the texture that crochet brings with the warmth and stability that the fabric has.  These are great winter blankets since all the "holes" from crochet are covered.  I also love to use them when I put my little ones on the floor.  They have a little extra cushion since they are two layers.  If you want a really cushy version, check out my first take on a granny quilt - Granny Quilt Number 1 .  In this blanket I add a layer of fleece between the afghan and the fabric making it VERY thick and padded.

This version omits that fleece layer, giving you more of a blanket, less of a mat.  The first version is great and extremely warm, but not very flexible which is necessary to snuggly tuck a munchkin in their car seat.  So, if you love the Granny Quilt, but want a thinner option, try this!

My blanket after quilting and trimming.
The technique is simple.  Layer your pieced granny afghan on top of a piece of flannel (or cotton, but flannel is so cozy).  Be sure you have plenty of fabric so it hangs past the edge of the afghan.  I left about two extra inches on each side.  The last thing you want is the fabric to creep in while you sew leaving a gap.
Pin at the corner/intersection of EACH granny square.  I know this sounds like overkill, but it serves two important functions. 
First it keeps the layers from shifting and stretching.  The afghan will have a lot of give and having it well pinned will keep you from ending up with a distorted blanket. 
Second, it helps to know exactly where your pins are.  They get lost in the afghan and if you know you have one at each intersection, you will not leave any behind to stab an unsuspecting person.
Now sew.  I run along the edges of the squares, but you can do whatever you wish, it's your blanket.  I do all the lines in one direction, then all the rows that run across, forming a checkerboard pattern.  Go slowly!  You have to do this with the crochet side up (so you can follow the lines) and it can easily get hooked on the presser foot.  Finish by sewing around the edge of the blanket.  This will make it easier to sew on the binding.
Trim any extra fabric from the edges.
Now bind and you are done!  Don't know how to bind?  See the simple technique I use here .

Friday, November 22, 2013

Circle in a Square

I love a good granny square blanket.  For instance:


My new favorite granny square is a cool, modern and very simple pattern.  I found it on every crafty girl's best friend and worst enemy, Pinterest.
The squares go together quickly and combine to make an amazing blanket.  Crochet on an edging and make and afghan, or sew a flannel panel on the back and bind the edges into a quilt like I did.  It is great for a baby blanket or full scale cover.  Make all the circles one color or each a different color to use up scraps.  The possibilities are endless! 
Want to make your own?  Check out the square tutorial from Three Beans in a Pod.  Then check back here tomorrow (or the next day, I might be lazy) for my simple tutorial on adding flannel backing and binding!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bean Bags

I use beans a lot.  Beans are yummy and kids like them.  Beans are easy to mush around if you don't have a bunch of teeth yet.  And, beans are cheap... kind of.

I am always playing mental tug of war when I go to buy beans.  On one side is the much cheaper, but also mushier, store brand can of beans and on the other side, the significantly more expensive, but (I hate to admit) superior quality, can of beans.  I realize we are talking under a buck difference, but that can add up quickly, especially when you use them frequently.

I was watching my new favorite cooking show (new to me, not new to existence), 10 Dollar Dinners, and Melissa d'Arabian was cooking with beans.  She buys dried beans, which she cooks, then freezes.  Holy great idea!

I loaded up on dried beans at the grocery this weekend, then spent a few hours today (okay, it was 4, but most of the time is hands off) soaking, cooking and bagging.  I ended up with the equivalent of 16 cans of beans for less than the cost of 4.  Go me.  Next time I will do it when my 10 year old is home.  Bagging the beans will be a great job for her... and less work for me.

How to Freeze Beans
Soak the beans.
I prefer to quick soak mine which means you combine 1 lb. dried beans and 8 cups hot water in a large pot, heat to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, cover and let stand, off heat for 1 hour.  You can also do an overnight soak.  To do this, add 8 cups cold water to 1 lb. beans and let stand overnight or at least 8 hours.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
Cook the beans.
Add 6 cups hot water to beans in large pot.  Simmer gently until tender.  This will take 1-2 hours.  Check beans at 15 minute increments after the 1 hour mark and cook until tender, but not mushy or falling apart.
Drain the cooked beans and rinse in cold water.
Bag the beans.
Each pound of dried beans will yield 6 cups of cooked beans.  I freeze mine in 1-1/2 cup quantities which is about the same as 1 can.  Label your freezer bags with the bean type and quantity before you fill them (I know, duh).
Freeze the beans.
Again, duh.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Crunch Banana Bread

I love banana bread as do my people.  It is a good thing, because I accidentally left my brand new bunch of bananas next to the last banana from my previous bunch and ended up with six, yes six, overripe bananas.  That was a lot of banana typing.

Luckily, each loaf of banana bread requires three overripe bananas.  So, guess who got to make two loaves of bread?...  this girl.  And since I am easily bored, I decided to experiment and create two different types: Peanut Butter Crunch and Double Chocolate.  First, I am going to share the peanut butter version with you, because it was my favorite.  With peanut butter stirred into the batter AND made into crumbles that are layered with the batter then sprinkled on top, it is a peanut butter banana explosion.  So, if you are staring down some brown bananas and want a fresh take on the old standard, try this out.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

Peanut Butter Crunch Banana Bread
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Melt butter in a pan over medium low heat.  Continue to heat butter until solids (they look like sand at the bottom) begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty.  Be careful once it starts to brown, it can burn VERY quickly!  Let cool a few minutes.
Combine 1/2 c. sugar and browned butter in mixer and beat together.
Add eggs, bananas, vanilla and 1/4 c. peanut butter and beat to combine.
Add flour mixture and mix on low until no flour pockets remain.
Using a fork, combine remaining 1/2 c. peanut butter and 3/4 c. brown sugar in a small bowl.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and spread 1/3 batter in bottom.
Top with 1/3 brown sugar mixture.  Repeat two more times, finishing with sprinkling the last of the brown sugar crumbs on the top of loaf.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
***Want more crunch?  Try crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth.***
***Want another banana bread recipe?  Check out Banana Lovers Banana Bread .***
***Want another super peanutbuttery dessert?  Check out my Peanut Butter Lovers Pie .***

Friday, November 8, 2013

Painting Ceramic Tile

My kitchen backsplash was kind of ridiculous.

White, blue and gray.  Great if you like "Home Sweet Home" happy duckling wallpaper, but not so much my style.  Ever tried to take down tile?  Sometimes you're fine, sometimes it peels drywall down with it and then you are screwed. 
I did some research and discovered, if you do it right, tile is paintable.  Especially kitchen wall tile since it does not get walked on, or subjected to showering and bathing.
It is very simple and inexpensive to do, it just takes a little patience and a steady hand.

First, rough up the tile you intend to paint with fine grit sandpaper.  This will help the paint stick.
After all the tile is sanded, clean it VERY thoroughly.  I used soap and water first, let it dry and then wiped it well with an alcohol soaked rag, letting it dry completely before the next step.
Using a sponge brush, paint each tile with a paint suitable for ceramic.  I find that sponge brushes leave a smoother finish than a bristle brush, which was important to me because I did not want it to be obvious my tiles were painted.  I used Martha Stewart Living metallic paint that is sold at Home Depot and runs just under $6 each.  Allow the first coat to dry and follow with a second coat.
Allow to dry overnight and cover painted tiles with two coats of a water based polycrylic.  This will give an authentic ceramic tile shine and protect the paint job you just worked so hard on!
These painted tiles can endure wiping, however be careful if you must scrub as they will scratch, so use a soft cloth.
So, before:
And after:
I was VERY happy with how my tiles turned out.  Is it something I would have picked myself to install, heck no, but I can live with it now.  So, if you have awful tiles, but aren't into a tear down yet, try this out.  It is a cheap way to make a HUGE difference!
***Like my colors?  The top color is Vintage Gold and the bottom color is Cast Bronze.***
***Got a sharp eye and noticed I changed my hardware?   I bought mine at .  Find my bin pulls here. Find my cabinet pulls here. ***



Monday, November 4, 2013

Peanut Butter Lovers Pie

My people love peanut butter.  They love it in sandwiches, cookies, ice cream, noodles and on spoons.  Most of all, they love it in pie.

I have a peanut butter pie I have been making for quite a few years.  It is a simple, no bake pie and it is super yummy.  Recently, I went to whip one up and remembered my mom making a peanut butter pie when I was little.  Her pie was very different from mine.  It was also simple, consisting of peanut butter and sugar mixed together to make a crumbly concoction that was sprinkled in the bottom of a baked crust and then topped with instant vanilla pie filling.  Easy, but not very peanut buttery.  My version packs a pretty good peanut butter punch, but I decided the peanut butter crumbs from her pie could make it a knockout.  So, here you go.  My new hybrid extra peanut buttery pie.  Be sure you have plenty of milk!

Peanut Butter Lovers Pie
Pre-baked pie crust (want an easy recipe?  Try my simple crust )
1 package Dream Whip, prepared according to directions (you could also use about 3/4 of a tub of Cool Whip)
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c, powdered sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter, divided
2 Tbsp. milk
Combine brown sugar and 1/2 c. peanut butter with a fork until combined and crumbly.
In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add remaining 1/2 c. peanut butter and milk and beat until smooth and a little fluffy.
Carefully fold prepared Dream Whip into cream cheese mixture.
Sprinkle 1/3 peanut butter crumbs in the bottom of prepared shell.  Top with 1/2 filling. 
Repeat layer and end by sprinkling last 1/3 of crumbs over the top of pie.  Chill. 
***Don't have Dream Whip or Cool Whip?  Make 2 c. (finished volume) of lightly sweetened whipped cream.***
***Immediately after this post went up, my mother called to let me know that even though her recipe may have called for instant pie filling, she made her own filling from scratch.  She has "never in her life" used instant pie filling.  So, do not doubt my mother's amazing cooking skills.  Apparently it irks her... greatly.***