Annual Humanitarian Quilt

Every year our community gets together to make school bags, stuff childrens toys, donate quilts, and eat soup. It is a great time to serve others and to come together as a community and bond.
This year I was a little short on time so I did a quick fat quarter twin size quilt.
To make the quilt:
I cut 20 squares that are 18x18 inches wide. I wanted them to be square, but this would work just as well if you used fat quarters.

Then I sewed all the squares together.

My mother in law helped me tie the quilt

Then I used a full size flat sheet for the backing. Which made the binding really easy

I just folded over the sheet and sewed it down. I know that is not the "proper" way to do things, but it works just fine for me.

Halloween Costume: Princess Frog DONE

My oldest decided this year that she wanted to be the Princess and the Frog with her sister.  Both of them being frogs. This definitely makes my life easy....right.

For one thing...I despise dressing up like a "princess"  Why?  I don't really know.  Maybe cause EVERYONE does it.  Everyone wants to be a princess.  Well girls hate to break it to you, but really you are a princess.  But you aren't one of those fantasy princesses.  You are a full blown princess because you are a daughter of God.

But you don't need a name like Cinderella, or Tiana, or Aeriel.

Nope any nice pretty name will do.  Why?  Because you are you.

So when my daughter didn't want to be the princess in the dress, but the frog.  I jumped at the chance.

Plus, I could make a costume that is warm.  Which is a must in the Idaho fall.  Who knows if we will be trick or treating in the snow or in our shorts.  It really could go either way.  Honestly.  We've done both....

but most of the time it is in the snow or really cold and windy.  
Princess and the Frog Costume made from Fleece

Happy Birthday Honey! Football Rag Quilt

All my husband wanted for his birthday was a football quilt.
He is a huge Brett Favre fan. Hence the #4 on both sides. This blanket is a nice representation of his football love. Torn between 2 teams, the former Favre team (Green Bay Packers) and the current Favre team (Minnesota Vikings)
I will say that he has yet to use it. He was however impressed. I think. The direct quote from him is "I knew you were making it. I am a great detective. Its not quite what I was thinking."

Yes, I was trying to surprise him. Yes, he kinda designed it. No, I am not great at hiding things,

I used the Addy Mae Pattern found HERE

Essentials for Cleaning

Now I am not going to pretend that I have a clean house 100% of the time. I don't. I feel like 90% of the time my house looks like the above picture. Thankfully, I really know better that it is not that bad.

I hate cleaning. I put it off for as long as I possibly can.

I do like to be organized though.

Weird I know.

So when I do clean, here are the things that I HAVE TO HAVE to get the job done

I think this is the 1 most important element in cleaning. If you have water you can clean almost anything. It may be a little more difficult without some of the following tools, but one can always manage as long as you have water. At least that is my opinion.

I like to have rags like this, but I know many people that use old clothing that they would have thrown away instead of wash rags. I like this type of rag because it holds in lots of water and it can scrub fairly nicely.

I use rags like this for many things like:
  • cleaning bathrooms
  • mopping floors
  • wiping baseboards and walls
  • cleaning out cupboards
  • cleaning the fridge
  • etc
I do keep my cleaning washrags separate from my rags that I use to clean my face.

When I am really doing a good cleaning job (like washing walls and floors and everything in between) I want to have a bucket next to me. That way I am not running to the sink in the bathroom or kitchen all the time and then dripping water back to where I was working at. It just makes life tons easier. One could also use a pot or a large bowl, but make sure to clean it really well before eating out of it later on.
I LOVE Windex. I have not really tried other window cleaners. Very rarely do I stick to a brand, but I have stuck to this brand.
I ALWAYS have an antibacterial cleaner handy. This is what I use to clean my bathrooms and kitchen counters. Everything just feels so much cleaner afterwards.
Isn't this vacuum dreamy?!? I think I might actually vacuum everyday if it looked this good. But seriously, this is essential!

Gotta have it. I use to to sweep the floor (obvious I know), but I also use it to get cobwebs down (yes I have them too) from the ceiling. My mom even defended herself from a mouse with one

Scrub Brush:
I love having a scrub brush to scrub the floors and the bathtub. They do a great job with those harder to clean jobs.

Now I think I have motivated myself enough to have a cleaning day. What do you use to clean?

How to Raw Edge Applique Tutorial

I love to raw applique. It is quick and easy and BEAUTIFUL. It can change the look of a quilt so quickly. I also raw applique clothing, baby bibs, receiving blankets, and tons of other items. Here are a few examples:

Pink and Brown Car Seat Tent
Football Blanket

Today I am going to show you how to raw applique:

This is a childrens art case. The pattern can be found HERE. My daughter loves it, but can you imagine how boring it would look without those fun little flowers sewn onto it?

First cut out your appliques. Make sure you use fabrics that will fray (like 100% cotton and flannels) other fabrics like minky will not fray but are still fun to use as an applique.

I have lots of appliques that I have uploaded for you to use for FREE HERE. Many of the appliques that I have come up with were pictures found online. Then I printed them off, cut them out and then cut out the fabric in the same shape. It works well. Just be careful not to pick designs that are too detailed because they will be hard to reproduce with a sewing machine.
Now pin your appliques onto your fabric. The flower applique that I am doing today will require the fabric to be sewn on in layers. The first layer is the leaves.

Now sew around the edge of the fabric appliques using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You want the edges of the fabric to fray.

Now pin on the next layer of your applique. Which in my case is the first set of circles. Sew around the edge of them with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Then repeat with the remainder of your layers. Each time pinning them in place and then sewing around them.
Now you have a beautiful piece of fabric with some awesome appliques. Embellish as desired (I did with the buttons)

Then make sure to wash your item to make your fabric fray. The more you wash it the more frayed it will be.

All of the above patterns are available on SALE for 25% off right now in my Etsy shop. Check it out today

Essentials for Etsy Selling Success and a Gardening Analogy

This week on Essentials For.... I am going to share with you what has helped make my etsy shop a success.
How to Be Successful on Etsy Selling

Selling online for me is like growing a garden: get the seeds (your product, your time that you devote to selling, your links to your shop and other places online, advertising, etc) You don't want to just plant potatoes in your garden, then you won't get a good variety but also what happens if that potato seed is not good. You won't have anything grown.

Then once you have gotten your seeds, you need to plant them. I like to plant my garden in a nice row, with all the different seeds planted in their own row or place. I don't just throw the seeds around and hope they grow. Some seeds need to be planted deep in the ground, others can be barely under the surface. Planting your seeds is like setting up your shop and starting to link to your shop.

Analogy to being a successful entreprenuer
Then once your seeds are planted you can't just walk away from the garden and come back in the morning and have a ton of produce for you to enjoy. It takes a lot of work, energy, and care. I have to water my garden several times a week, fertilize it, remove the weeds, protect it from the elements. This can all be likened to continuing adding items to your shop, taking out the items that are not helping your shop, promoting your items so they don't get lost among everyone elses stuff out there.

Then after a ton of work and effort you will start to see the fruits of your labor. I have been working hard on my shop for over a year and am now seeing all that hard work being rewarded. My garden also has tons of produce for me to enjoy. Now I am preserving whatever I can from the garden by canning the tomatoes, making salsa, digging the potatoes and storing them properly, and on and on. That way I can enjoy all that hard work during the next year. Same thing with my shop. I still have to maintain it. I need to preserve the hard work that I have put into it so that all that work does not go to waste.

Remember though, that not all the produce will mature at the same time. I canned beans several months ago, the corn about a month ago, but am now taking care of the onions, tomatoes, and potatoes. Different parts of your shop/garden start to reward you at different times. That has helped me keep going to start seeing my hard work actually produce something.

Here are a few things you might find helpful in growing and being a successful etsyer.
  1. Have a product that people want. This is the most important thing in selling anything. You need to have something others want. Maybe it is a piece of jewelry that is very unique, maybe it is something that is for Men (because we all know that the handmade business has not focused on Men).
  2. Take great pictures of your item. Photos are by far my weakest thing. Blankets/car seat tents are very large and are hard to photograph and get the details without loosing what the item is. I really struggle with the photographs. I do however keep learning and keep trying. I have a point and shoot camera. Nothing fancy. It works. It takes decent photos
Here are a couple of examples of items that I have sold. One was awhile ago and the other more recent. Definitely an improvement

  1. Get as many items in your Etsy shop as possible. I found that once I hit 50-60 items sales really started to do better. Then once I hit 100 I did even better. I am nearing 200 and I assure you that more is definitely better.
  2. Tag your items correctly. If you don't tag your items with the right keywords then people will not be able to find you. If you are wondering what the best keywords might be search etsy for other similar items, or you can also use this google keyword tool
  3. Learn the basics of SEO (search engine optimization). I have searched the Etsy Forums for SEO and have learned a ton. I attribute most of my success to learning the basics of SEO and implementing them. It works. Here is a search of the etsy forums already for you with all the SEO topics
  4. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK: I read often in the forums of people that are not having any success and there are a few common denominators: they are not networking, or if they are networking they are not networking appropriately. This topic kinda goes along with the SEO thing. The more links you have out there in the World Wide Web, the more chances you have of Google and other search engines of finding you. So place your links appropriately, don't just throw them haphazardly around.
  5. Start a facebook fan page
  6. Start a twitter
  7. Blog
  8. Try other networking places (I like, martha stewart groups, yahoo groups, etsy teams, and many more)
  9. Continue to work on improving your shop. Again it is a work in progress. There will never be a time that you can just sit back and watch the money roll in without much effort. Those stories are to go to be true. Your success will come after a lot of hard work.
  10. No time is better than the present to get going on it. Remember that this will all take time. It will not happen overnight so the sooner you put in the time the sooner you will be seeing the rewards come in.
to view the other Essentials for go here

Do you have any essentials for selling or questions on how to make your shop better. Please comment below and I will help you in any way that I can
If you have any ideas or questions for the essentials for series or would like to write your own essentials for on my blog please email me at boblyns at yahoo dot com

Essentials for Cooking

This is the 3rd part in my Essentials for... series. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Also make sure and stop by and enter the giveaway here

Today we are going to talk about what I think is essential to COOKING. I love to cook. I have a list of 20 recipes that are my fall back recipes. We end up having those things a lot.

A good stock pot. You can use a large stock pot like this one or even have a set of smaller ones. I have 4 different sizes. A small one that holes 4 cups about, a medium one, a large one, and an extra large one like pictured. I use them all, but for different purposes. When it was just my hubby and I, I rarely used the extra large one and mostly used the 2 smallest sizes. Now that I cook for 6 every night I use all the different pans at least once a week.

A good frying pan. I use a frying pan at least a couple times a week. Just like with the stock pots I have 3 different sizes. One small one, a medium one, and then a large one. I love using the non stick ones. They make for easy cleanup.

Spatulas that can be exposed to high heat. This is what I use because I use pans that you should not use things that will scratch the surface of the pans. I have a set of different sizes and really those sizes don't matter much to me. Just that I have a good set of spatulas and several of them so that I am not constantly washing them while I am cooking.

Good set of knives. Again, I am a Cutco nerd. I love them. I rarely use my 2 set of knives that are not Cutco. If one of my Cutco knives are dirty that I am needing then I will use my back up set but not very often. They are extremely sharp, lightweight. Just super nice all around, but they are spendy. If you are really wanting a set of these check out Ebay. That is where I got my set and they are perfect.

A way to grade cheese
I have several different ways that I can grade cheese. A regular cheese grader, a cheese slicer, and my bosch. I use all 3 ways just depending on what is easier for me at the moment.

A can opener. Even though many cans are now having pull tabs on them there are still many out there that don't.
a good set of food storage. It is never more frustrating for me when I have decided to cook something and then to find out I don't have all the ingredients needed. I HATE that. This is not my pantry, but it looks great. I know what we use a lot of and what we don't. I try and keep a list on my phone of the things that I need to pick up at the grocery store. I also try to only go grocery shopping once every week or 2. If we really need something from the store hubby will stop and pick it up on his way home from work.
For me having the right tools to cook makes my job much easier as a mother. What tools are essential for you to cook?

Zucchini Bread

I LOVE Zucchini bread. So do my girls. Even my baby luvs it for her snack in the afternoon.

This recipe with make 2 loaves:

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs 1 c oil
2 c sugar 3 c flour
2 c peeled and grated 1 tsp baking soda
zucchini 1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon 3 tsp vanilla
Mix together. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.