Flower Rag Quilt

About a week ago I decided that it’s about time I did something to sort of acknowledge that we have another baby joining our family.  I happened upon a pattern that I really liked, and then went on a hunt for some fabric that really grabbed me.

I was hoping for flannel, but found these cotton prints instead.

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The pattern I chose is called “Lazy Daisy” by Sweet and Shabby Designs.
The fabric line I chose is a new one called “Whimsy” by Pillow and Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics.
The fabric is definitely retro but I loved it.  Of course, I supplemented with lots of fabrics from my stash, which is always good because the finished product has more personality that way.

In case you’re not familiar with a rag quilt, it is a quilt that has the seams on the top facing out instead of facing the inside of the quilt.  It’s  kind of a shortcut, because you quilt it as you go, but it’s also a kind of quilt that really has its own style.  The way the seams look after they’ve been washed is really fun.

The pattern wasn’t difficult to follow, and had a mistake or two in it, but I noticed a correction on their blog.

First, I cut all the fabric according to the instructions.  I love how quilting takes these stacks of fabric, and then you cut (carefully of course) and end up with these tidy little stacks of fabric in various shapes and sizes.

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Next I cut the batting.  I decided to use cotton batting.

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Next I assembled each square for the quilt.  I did this by laying the bottom piece face down, then a piece of batting, and then the top piece face up, like you’re assembling a sandwich.

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Repeat this with all the fabric and batting.

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Now it’s time to start quilting each block.  On the long, thin strips for the borders I just sewed a straight line down the middle of the fabric.  On the large blocks I sewed diagonally from corner to corner, and then went the other direction so they had a big X on them.

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The squares with the flowers were fun.  I tried a quick new trick and am really happy with the results.
It’s called a washable glue stick.  The key word is “washable.”  I also like the price:  15 cents.  Tell me what you can buy for 15 cents now-a-days!  I call that the deal of the week.  Using the glue stick allows you to stick the piece in place while you sew, but the glue will wash right out when  you wash the quilt.

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On the wrong side of the flower, just swipe the glue in enough spots to hold it in place while you sew around the edges of the flower.  I love that this means I didn’t have to use any pins!

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Glue the fabric on your square and sew around the edge of the flower, about 1/4 inch in from the edge.

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Repeat with the larger circle for the center, and then the smaller circle as well.

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After sewing the three pieces on, the back of the square is now quilted in a cute flower, too!

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When all of the pieces to your quilt have been quilted, it is ready to assemble.
For the sake of holding less fabric, I decided to snip the edges of the flowers before assembling.
Just make sure you don’t cut through the seam!

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It will look like this when you’re done.

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Now just lay out your squares as you want them to look.
Whenever I’m doing this I feel grateful that my office doubles as a guest room because the bed is a great spot to lay things out and move them around until I like them.

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For this pattern, you must first sew the strips to the bottom of the flower pieces, and then sew the pieces together into rows.  You ‘ll have four rows of four pieces, and then you sew the rows together, too.  Add the border last.

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The seams look rather ridiculous at this point.  Whenever I make a rag quilt, when I get to this point I always wonder why I picked a rag quilt instead of a regular one.  But it’s too late now, so carry on.

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The back always looks fun at this stage!

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Your last real step is to snip carefully into all of those rows of seams!

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Once again, be sure you don’t cut the seam.   If you do , you’ll need to restitch it so your quilt won’t come undone.
This step seems to take forever.  You can either do it in little pieces, or if you’re like me, you know that you won’t feel like picking it up again so you’ll just plow through and do it in a single sitting.  I always regret the way my hand feels after doing it, but it doesn’t last long.  This is certainly the boring step in the quilt, but I remind myself that it’s not super exciting to sit and bind a quilt by hand, either.

After cutting everything, the next step is to toss the quilt in your washing machine.  Wash it and then dry it in your dryer.  This step is what will make the seams look right.  (Be sure to clean out your lint filter on your washer because there will be tons of lint from this blanket.)

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When the quilt is done drying, the seams will be soft and cute.
Use your scissors to cut off the longer strings.  TaDa!  You’re finished.
A lovely, new, baby-sized quilt in just a few hours.

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Sweet Pepper Chicken and Rice

I saw this recipe in a little cookbook a while ago and wanted to try it.  But when I actually tried it, for some reason I didn’t really follow the recipe.  (I’m good at doing that.)  We ended up with a delicious meal, and the smell was heavenly.  This is a crockpot dinner, which means less last minute work for the cook.  I’m a fan of those!

This is my crockpot.   It’s very old, and I love it.  But on to the recipe.

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Begin by browning some chicken in a skillet.  (I cooked about 2 1/2 pounds, but I was feeding a crowd)  Sprinkle some salt and pepper on it while you’re at it.

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Place the chicken in the crockpot when both sides are browned.
Julienne 1 red bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper.

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Place on top of chicken in crockpot.

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Thinly slice 6-8 ounces fresh mushrooms and add to crockpot.

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Now slice 2 medium onions and add to crockpot, as well.

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In a separate bowl, empty two cans cream of mushroom soup.

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Add 2 cans cream of chicken soup

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and 1 cup half and half.

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Add 1 tsp. garlic powder and stir.

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Pour over food in crockpot.

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Stir ingredients a little.

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Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 3 hours.
You won’t believe how good it smells after a little while.

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Wow.  So colorful, pretty, and heavenly smelling!
Cook some rice to serve with it and you’re set!

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I served this to a fairly large group and it got rave reviews from everyone.
I hope you enjoy it, too.

Sweet Pepper Chicken and Rice  (can easily be cut in half)

2 pounds chicken tenders
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 medium onions
6-8 ounces fresh mushrooms
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup half and half
1 tsp. garlic powder
cooked rice

In skillet, brown chicken on both sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Place chicken in crockpot.  Julienne red and green peppers and add to chicken.  Thinly slice mushrooms and add to crockpot.  Slice onions and add to crockpot.  In mixing bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, half and half, and garlic powder.  Pour over ingredients in crockpot.  Stir gently.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 3 hours.  Serve over cooked rice.

Wonderful Old Crockpot

I just wanted to tell you about my crockpot.  It’s been my friend for 18 years now.
I hope to have it till I die.

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It was old when I got it.  My dad bought it for me at a yard sale before I left for college (my Dad and yard sales are an amazing combination.  I swear he can find anything at a yard sale.  I wish yard sales where I live were half as good as they are back home).

At the time, I remember looking at it and thinking, “Wow.  It’s big and it’s ugly, but I might as well take it.”
Now I think it’s beautiful.  And yes, it’s big.  6 quarts!  I love it.

I have newer crockpots, programmable ones, littler ones.   Yet this is the crockpot I use EVERY time.  They really don’t make them like they used to.  It never fails me.  It cooks food the way I want it to, in the time I want it to.  It doesn’t scorch, make its own decisions, or cook too fast or too slow.  It’s just right.  And it holds just the right amount of food for a woman who’s always cooking for a crowd.

This crockpot has cooked dinner for the Cub Scouts Blue and Gold Banquet, potlucks, countless meals for people with lives temporarily upside down.  It’s saved me time and again on a crazy day.  I can’t count how many family dinners it’s helped me with.  I really mean it when I say that I love my crockpot.   It may not be a vintage item that sits out for display, but it proudly parks on my kitchen counter quite regularly to serve as my number one assistant.  In my book, it certainly counts as one of my wonderful old things!

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