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Every year my wife and my mother get together and make holiday cookies. It’s honestly one of the only things I really love about the holidays, and this year it was extra special because my sister and sister-in-law were able to join us! So, just in case you want to try something new this year, here are some of our favorite family cookie recipes, including some that are gluten free! Please note that some of these are edited by me and some are edited by Joyce:
This is one of my favorite cookie recipes and comes from my grandmother (Joyce’s mom), although we’ve done a bit of tweaking to it.
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 3 cups of ground pecans
Mix and Shape into small balls.
Don’t grease pan!
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll in powdered sugar when hot and roll again when cool.
This is a recipe that used to call for peanuts and peanut butter, but I’ve tweaked it now that I’ve developed an allergy! – Joyce
In microwave safe bowl, combine:
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
- 1 cup of butterscotch chips
- 2 tbsp of sunflower seed butter
Melt in microwave – microwave for 30 seconds, take out & stir, and again for 30 seconds more – repeat until melted.
Pour melted mixture over:
- 4 cups of rice krispies
- 1 cup of salted roasted sunflower seeds
Pour into 9 x 13″ wax paper-lined pan and smooth, or drop into cookie shapes on wax paper.
Chill for 1 Hour. If you poured mixture, cut apart before serving.
Skippy Truffle Cookies
This recipe is from my Aunt Joyce, and is naturally gluten free (YAY). The original calls for Skippy peanut butter (and it works best with Skippy brand). Since I can’t have PB, I’ve tried it with all sorts of variations – sunflower seed butter is probably the closest to PB, but almond butter is good. Nutella is pretty amazing, too, although the texture is a little different from the original version. – Joyce
Yields: 4 1/2 dozen
1 cup of Skippy brand creamy peanut butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In small bowl combine ingredients except chocolate chips. After blended, fold in chocolate chips until combined. On ungreased baking sheets, using slightly rounded teaspoonfuls, drop dough 2 inches apart (do not flatten). Bake 9 minutes or until cookies are puffed & golden (they will be very soft). Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from sheets and cool completely.
Almond Biscotti + Variations
This is the recipe that started the whole biscotti journey. It’s from here that I create all kinds of variations. To make Phoebe’s favorite – gingerbread biscotti – just leave out the almond extract and almonds, and add in gingerbread spices (1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves – adjust to your personal preference). – Joyce
Yields about 30 slices
1/3 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
1 egg yolk (optional)
1 tablespoon milk or water (optional)
In a food processor, combine butter, 1 cup of the flour, sugar, the 2 eggs, baking powder, and vanilla; process at medium speed til combined. Add in remaining flour and nuts.
Divide dough in half.
Shape each portion in a flat 12ish x 3ish inch log. (Should be about 1 inch deep.) Place about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. For a shinier appearance, stir together egg yolk and milk or water; brush onto logs. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 1 hour.
Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Lay slices, cut side down, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes. Turn slices over; bake 8 to 10
minutes more or until dry and crisp. Cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate and Cinnamon Meringue
If the only meringues you’ve ever had were dry and crunchy and made you think you were going to choke, try these – you’ll think you died and went to heaven – and another good gluten free solution! – Joyce
Yield: about 16 meringues
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated coarsely
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the
cinnamon and beat the whites for 30 seconds. Sift the confectioners’ sugar with the cornstarch in 6 batches over the whites, beating the mixture for 30 seconds after each
addition. Fold in the chocolate gently but thoroughly and drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the meringues in the middle of a preheated 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until they are firm when touched lightly. Turn off the oven and let the meringues stand in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Transfer the meringues to a rack and let them cool completely. Keep the meringues in an airtight container.
Enjoy – and happy holidays from the family at Quilting Adventures!
Phoebe and Joyce, (and Rick, Selina, Pattie, Amy, Annie, Becky, Betty, Brittany, Chesley, Emily, Jen, Kelsey, Kim, Lara, Maureen, Shelby, and Ryan!)
If you’ve been sewing for any amount of time and spend at least some of that time using inspiration from the internet, then you’ve come across a mug rug or two (or three thousand). Tutorials abound – from the simple nine patch to the insane 20 hour paper pieced block. And up until this holiday season, I can honestly say that I never really “got it.” But after thinking about it in the context of holidays and finding the perfect gift for everyone, I can honestly say that a mug rug seems to fit, and here’s why:
Do you ever slow down and take a minute for yourself? Take time away from taking care of your kids or significant other or aging parent? Do you ever slow down from the hectic job or cleaning the house? And can you honestly tell me the last time you just sat down, in your favorite chair, and savored a cup or glass of something soothing – tea or coffee or wine? Now think about your loved ones – can you think of any who are in this boat, too? Unfortunately I know that it can be hard to take that bit of time for ourselves, when so often we desperately need it (especially this time of year!).
So here’s why I’m excited about this mug rug – it makes for a great ritual. Now, don’t go running for this hills with that word – think it through with me… What if every day, or even every other day, you sit down in your favorite chair? And next to it you have a table where you place your mug rug. On top of the mug rug you have a cup or glass of your favorite drink, and a favorite snack or delicacy. You also have your favorite book or your journal or your hand sewing nearby. And you have to take this time for yourself until the coffee or tea or wine is all gone AND you’ve eaten the snack. Doesn’t that sound amazing? And wouldn’t you love to offer that gift to someone else?
Well, here’s your chance! I’ve designed this mug rug to use linen as my coaster and for the back. If I spill my drink on that part, it will just become part of the character of the fabric, and not ruin my pretty design. On the other half I’ve used this super-cute Rocky Mountain Puzzle block, but you could use any block you want. You could also adapt the size of the mug rug to suit any of your old UFO blocks – just make sure that the linen piece is the same size as the block itself. Make sure you check out my wrapping/gift giving suggestions at the bottom of the tutorial, along with some wording that you are free to use in the card!
Mug Rug Tutorial
Supplies for a 6.5 x 12.5″ Mug Rug:
- 1 FQ Essex linen/cotton blend in natural
- One finished 6″ block (6.5″ unfinished) OR scraps:
- 11 x 7″ of background fabric (a scrap of shot cotton left over from my 241 Tote)
- 2″ for center square (a scrap of Folk Festival from last week’s apron entry)
- 6 x 5″ of frame fabric (a scrap of Nellie Hill also from last week’s apron)
- 10 x 7″ of points fabric (a scrap of Sketch Bias in Mint)
** I found it best to choose blocks or prints with texture to them in the hopes that stains will show a little bit less!
- One 7.5 x 13.5″ rectangle of quilt batting (I used Quilters Dream Cotton Select weight)
- 100% cotton thread – neutral thread for piecing + a coordinating color for quilting
- Sewing supplies: rotary cutter, mat, ruler, scissors, sewing machine, new sewing machine needles, pins, marking pencil, Wonder Clips, etc.
*Please note that a 1/4″ seam allowance is used throughout unless otherwise noted.
*If you are using a pre-made 6″ block, skip all of the cutting except for the linen and skip ahead to Step 6.
Points: cut 5 – 2.75″ squares
Frame: cut 2 – 1.25 x 3.5″ rectangles and 2 – 1.25 x 2″ rectangles
Center: cut 1 – 2″ square
Background: cut 5 – 2.75″ squares and 2 – 2″ squares
Linen: cut 1 – 6.5″ square and 1 – 9 x 15″ rectangle (backing)
Step 1 – Draw a diagonal line on the back side of all 5 of your point fabric squares. Place them right sides together with the 5 – 2.75″ squares of your background fabric and pin.
Sew a scant 1/4″ on either side of your drawn line.
Cut apart on solid line.
Press seam towards darker fabric. Square up to 2″.
Step 2 – Sew the two 1.25 x 2″ rectangles to the top and bottom edges of the center square. Press towards the border strips.
Sew the two 1.25 x 3.5″ rectangles to the left and right sides of the center square. Press towards the border strips.
Step 3 – Sew 2 pairs of half square triangle blocks together as shown. Press seam open.
Step 4 – Sew 2 identical rows containing 3 half square triangle blocks with a solid background square on the left edge as shown. Press seams open.
Step 5 – Sew the units made in step 3 to the left and right edges of your center unit. Press seams open.
Attach the units made in step 4 to the top and bottom. Press seams open.
Step 6 – Attach the solid linen square to the right edge of your block. Press seam open.
Step 7 – Layer your mug rug top with batting and backing. Put a few safety pins through all layers to baste. The backing is extra large to allow for shifting + shrinkage, plus it will later be folded to the front as binding.
Step 8 – Quilt as desired. I did stitch-in-the-ditch on the block and then marked vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines to mimic the block on the solid linen. Make sure you only quilt to the very edge of the quilt, no further.
Step 9 – Trim the excess quilt batting: use sharp fabric shears and cut the batting flush with the quilt top. Make sure you don’t accidentally cut through the backing! Trim the backing 5/8″ past the quilt top and batting.
Step 10 – Measure 3/8″ in from the corner and trim to blunt the corners. This reduces bulk later.
Step 11 – Fold the edge of the backing in 1/4″ and press – there should be approximately 1/8″ between the edge of the quilt and the folded-in edge of the backing. Unfold.
Step 12 - Along one side only, fold your backing over 1/4″ and then to the front of the quilt. Pin or use Wonder Clips to hold in place.
When you reach a corner fold it down along the next edge as if you were wrapping a present. Press.
Step 13 – Fold down the second edge 1/4″ and over to the front as you did with the previous edge. Pin or clip in place. Repeat steps 12 & 13 until all sides are covered.
Step 14 – Topstitch 1/8″ from the edge of the binding all the way around the quilt, pivoting at the corners and backstitching at the beginning and end. Trim the threads and you’re done!
Here’s how to gift your mug rug: roll it up carefully and tie it with a ribbon. Place it in a gift bag, along with, perhaps: a special mug or wine glass you know the recipient will like. Some of their new favorite coffee or tea. A special tea infuser. A scone mix or hot chocolate mix. A special, small journal and pen. Include in the card:
The most precious gift we can receive is time. And one of the things I wish most for you this holiday season is time to sit and enjoy your days. This mug rug is to encourage you to take that time for yourself. With a perfect place to rest your mug of tea and a favorite treat side by side, sit in your favorite chair and savor the moment. I hope that you can continue this ritual every day through all the seasons, for there is nothing you deserve more. With love,
P. S. If you’re looking for the amazing artist who made my daffodil mug in the pictures, her name is Casey Seawell Freeman and you can find her work here. I own many of her pieces and she is a wonderful person and artist – make sure to check out her work! The cupcake was from my local cupcake shop – Carytown Cupcakes.
My wife absolutely loves to bake. And one of her favorite things ever is baking holiday cookies. So this year I thought she deserved to have a fun new apron to celebrate in style! I thought the Mommy and Me Apron pattern card from Valori Wells was just perfect, and I let Selina have free reign with choosing the fabric. I was very excited when she chose two prints from Rosalie Quinlan – the main print is from Folk Festival and the coordinate is from Nellie Hill, with the addition of one of Robert Kaufman’s Spot On prints, as I thought it would be fun to have fabrics that would work for the holidays, but didn’t scream Christmas.
The Mommy and Me Apron pattern card is fun because it includes two patterns in one – an adult apron and a child’s apron! It also is an inexpensive pattern, and fairly simple. I love that the pattern uses french seams so that the apron is easy to care for – just throw it in the wash as often as you need to! For that reason, I would highly recommend pre-washing all of your fabrics. It also includes the option of adding ric-rac to the seams as a fun accent.
There are two little things that I initially had trouble within the Mommy and Me Apron pattern (but aren’t that big a deal!): first of all, Diagram 1 – I kept looking at the diagram and thinking, okay when do I cut all of my pieces down? The diagram makes the skirt look a bit like a pyramid and so I kept assuming that I needed to trim the skirt into that shape. In reality, the piece is gathered – just follow the directions and you’ll be fine! I also found a small typo in the cutting directions – for the adult sized apron only, the first two measurements under fabric #2 are switched (pieces A & C). The second piece (C) should be the larger of the two.
The Mommy and Me aprons are fast and easy project to add to your holiday decor – can I call it decor? This took just a little bit of time, and I know that my wife will love making me holiday cookies while wearing the apron! Tell me, what holiday decor and traditions does your family have? (My mother and wife get together every year and bake a gajillion cookies – I’m there as the taste tester.)
A few months ago Robert Kaufman came out with a new pre-cut – half square triangles of an assortment of Kona cotton solids. The Kona HST packs come in 4-5 different palettes, but the ones that caught my eye were the dusty palette, the classic palette, the bright palette, and the pastel palette. Ever since then I’ve been dreaming of ways to use these and I’ve finally made the perfect project with my Kona Starburst quilt!
The Kona Starburst quilt is super easy to make, and is perfect for the advanced-beginner quilter. Because the triangles are already pre-cut, it also takes quite a bit of time out of the process so it would be the perfect last minute gift. The Kona Starburst quilt finishes at 63″ square – perfect as a lap quilt, a play quilt, or a wall hanging.
Kona Starburst Quilt Tutorial
- 1 pack each of the Kona HST packs in Dusty, Classic, Bright, + Pastel OR save a few dollars and purchase our kit found here
- Regular sewing supplies including sewing machine, rotary cutter, mat, ruler, neutral 100% cotton piecing thread, new sewing machine needle, pins, etc.
- A large space in which you can lay out this quilt completely – the living room floor, a bed, or a design wall
Step 1 – Begin by opening up your 4 packages of triangles, but make sure that you can still identify each stack once the packaging is removed. Each package contains 2 stacks of pre-cut HST shapes.
Step 2 – Making sure that you can still identify each stack, rearrange them so that you have the following pairs:
- Classic + Bright
- Dusty + Pastel
- Pastel + Bright
- Classic + Dusty
Step 3 – Now you’ll notice that each stack doesn’t always start with the same color, which makes for a confusing time. Rearrange the stacks as follows by removing the specified number of triangles and placing them at the bottom of the same stack. At the end of this process, all the stacks should start with purple:
- In the Classic + Bright pair, move the top 6 triangles in the classic stack to the bottom. Leave the bright half alone.
- In the Dusty + Pastel pair, leave the dusty half alone and move the top 19 triangles in the pastel half to the bottom.
- In the Pastel + Bright pair, move the top 21 triangles in the pastel stack to the bottom. Leave the bright half alone.
- In the Classic + Dusty pair, move the top 2 triangles in the classic stack to the bottom. Leave the dusty half alone.
Step 4 – Go through each matched stack and compare them with each other. You will be sewing the pairs together in order, so by looking through the stacks you can get a feel for how the pieces will look together. Feel free to slightly shuffle within the stacks themselves to make sure that your pairs are appealing. Make sure to keep the stacks in a purple-blue-green-yellow-orange-red-pink order. I did some minor tweaking with my stacks, but I wish I’d done more.
Step 5 – Choosing one pair of stacks at a time, go over to your sewing machine. Sew your triangles together in the order in which they are stacked, doing one pair of stacks at a time. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure to keep your stack in color order! Repeat for the next 3 stacks.
Step 6 – Keeping your half square triangles in color order, press all the seams to the darker side.
Step 7 – Still keeping the blocks in color order, square up your blocks to 5 3/4″.
Step 8 – Grab a few blocks off the top of each stack (all of the really purple-ish blocks). Lay out a pinwheel design with the first blocks. Make sure that there is enough contrast between each of the colors that you can see the pinwheel design.
Note: If you don’t want the focal point to be out of purple, feel free to shuffle the stacks until you have your preferred color on top. Make sure to shuffle all of the stacks, and make sure that you don’t disturb the continuity of the color loop!
Step 9 – Add a row of blocks all the way around the pinwheel to form the star shape. These should still be the blocks coming off the top of your stacks and should be in the purple to violet range.
Step 10 – Continue adding blocks around the star. To keep the color-burst look, you’ll want to always pull your blocks off the top of your stacks so that you keep them in color order. You’ll notice that I chose to make my star fall off-center to create a focal point. You can place the star wherever you want in the quilt. If you want it centered, continue adding blocks all the way around the star until you have a quilt that’s made up of 12 rows and 12 columns of blocks. If you want the star to fall where mine did, add two rows above the star and two columns to the left of the star created in step 9. Add all other rows and columns below and to the right of the star until you reach the 12×12 layout. Once you have your 12×12 layout, feel free to tweak the color placement using some of the extra blocks.
Step 11 – Piece blocks into rows. Press seams open. Piece rows together. Press seams open. Quilt as desired.
I chose a beautiful aqua-ish Kona Solid for the backing of my Kona Starburst Quilt and it is at the quilter right now – any thoughts on how this quilt should be quilted? As soon as it’s done it will be hanging in the shop!
A few months ago we were contacted by Ali and Courtney of Wives of Whitewood, a local design duo, to see if they could come show us their bag patterns. They had just started out with a small line, and gave me a copy of their new Tuxedo Trio to review. Since that time we’ve moved the shop, gone to Quilt Market, and they’ve released a few more patterns. I’m thrilled to finally be bringing you this review of their Tuxedo Trio pattern!
The Tuxedo Trio pattern has designs for 3 different bags – a hobo bag, a wristlet, and a wallet. I chose to make the wristlet and it’s the perfect size for a party or event. It includes a hidden exterior pocket and a few pockets on the inside, which means that you can carry just the necessities. All three of the patterns include a stunning pleated detail on the front, and the pattern is stuffed with step-by-step photographs. The pattern also includes full size templates to cut your pieces, which, in my opinion, is awesome!
I made my Tuxedo Trio wristlet out of two of our favorite basic prints – Confetti Dots in Shell and Zig Zag in Navy. The one thing you do have to be careful about with this pattern is the fabrics you choose – because you put so much work into the pleating, you want something that will show them off, not overwhelm the pleating – some prints can be too much. A solid or tone on tone would work beautifully, but I would stay away from really geometric prints (for example, I probably wouldn’t use the Zig Zag print in the pleating, but it’s perfect as the accent).
Wives of Whitewood have recently released their fall pattern lineup and we’re excited to add a few more of their patterns – the Starburst clutch and the Zippers Galore bag. We love carrying local designers’ patterns and we can’t wait to see what they come out with next! I’m hoping that I can do another review of their patterns in the Winter/Spring so that I can have an excuse to make the Starburst clutch myself!