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111  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge 2012! Enter your garden now through August 31st! on: June 28, 2012 08:23:41 AM
The Great Garden Challenge is UP! Enter now through August 31st! http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=413141.0

Hey everyone, make sure to get photos of your flowers, fruit, veggies and anything else you've got going in your garden this summer.  We're going to have a Great Garden challenge announced some time in July.   Smiley

112  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge - 2012 on: June 27, 2012 05:53:59 PM
Start getting photos of your lovely flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees, etc. together.  We're going to host a great garden challenge in late July! 
113  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Growing Mushrooms at Home on: June 22, 2012 11:02:02 AM
We've had shiitake mushroom logs for a few years now.  Once you get through the initial process of introducing the spores to your logs, they pretty much take care of themselves.  We purchased plug spores and drilled lots of holes in 3-4 foot lengths of dead white oak logs.  The spore plugs were inserted in the holes and then sealed with melted beeswax.  It took a year to get our first crop.

We keep the logs up off of the ground in a shady place by our back door where we can keep an eye on them.  My husband built them a swing of sorts under a bradford pear tree.

Once we notice the mushrooms sprouting, it takes about a week until they're ready to harvest.  These photos were taken a day apart across a few days to show how fast they grow.

This is our spring crop, we're expecting another in the fall.  They're a huge hit at our farmer's market and make a wonderful addition to risotto! 
114  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / A Sweet Harvest on: June 09, 2012 12:21:06 PM
We just completed our spring honey harvest.  The bees have been visiting our vegetable garden, flowers, tulip poplar trees, wild blackberries, orchard and clover. 

We extract honey from the hive frames in our kitchen.  Here's a frame with the beeswax capping sliced off to prepare it for going into the extractor.

The extractor is the large white container, it holds two frames at a time.  The crank causes the frames to spin inside the container and the honey flings out by centrifugal force and drips down to the bottom. 

We strain the honey into a 3 gallon bucket.  From there it gets ladled into jars.

A few of our frames had brood in it, here's a baby bee emerging.

The entire process took us about 8 hours, from removing frames from our two hives through cleanup.  Not a bad day's work!  I took 12 quarts to our small farmer's market yesterday, they sold out pretty fast. 
115  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Pimento Cheese on: June 05, 2012 09:26:10 AM
Pimento cheese is a southern staple and pretty simple stuff.  I grew up on it, so did my husband.  I don't buy it at the grocery store because I make it myself.  I always serve it on saltine crackers cuz it isn't fancy.

It's got just 5 ingredients; 8 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese,  3 Tbsp. of Duke's mayo, 2 oz. of drained jarred pimentos, 2 good splashes of worcestershire sauce and hot pepper flakes to taste.   Oh, and salt & pepper. 

I start by cubing the cheese before putting it in my mini food processor.

I process the cheese to break the cubes into crumbles then in go the rest of the ingredients.  The red pepper flakes are from our garden.  They're a super hot mixture of ghost, habanero, Joe's round and red caribbean peppers.  If I was going to use store bought flakes, I'd add about 1/4 teaspoon.

Give it a whirl in your food processor and it's done!

I met two documentary filmmakers at a cookout last weekend who recently completed a short film titled 'Pimento Cheese, Please!'  I took a batch and it was very well received (they took home the leftovers).  It makes a great appetizer and is usually even better the day after you make it. 

116  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Mushroom House Pincushion on: June 02, 2012 04:28:30 AM
For the sewing accessories swap, I made thisbirdsabsurd a mushroom house pincushion in a cup based on something she had on her wist. 

This project really tested my limited embroidery skills!   Cheesy

Here's an in-process shot.

117  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Spring Harvest on: May 17, 2012 07:03:43 AM
Here's this morning's harvest; asparagus, carrots and garlic scapes.  Scapes are the flower stalks of garlic plants and they're delicious grilled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Smiley 

118  MASTER CRAFTSTERS / BERNINA 3 Series / Sweet Appliqued Tote Bag using the BERNINA 350PE on: May 15, 2012 10:20:08 AM
Sponsored Content
* To see the overview of this Master Craftsters campaign, click here.
* To read more about the machine used in this project, explore BERNINA's website here.

Sweet Appliqued Tote Bag using the BERNINA 350PE

One of my favorite Craftsters is funthreads.  I fell in love with the 'Snack Attack' quilt she posted last year and it inspired me to make a tote bag using her sweet theme.  This project gave me a chance to give applique a try using the BERNINA 350 Patchwork Edition.

The adhesive product I use for appliqueing is called Lite Steam-A-Seam 2.  It's an iron on fusible webbing that is sticky on both sides and comes packaged between two sheets of protective paper.  

I drew the pattern shapes on the protective paper on one side of the webbing then peeled away the opposite paper and ironed the webbing onto the wrong side of my fabrics.  This allowed me to then cut my applique pieces to their exact finished sizes with a bit of adhesive on the back.  In this photo, on the left you see the webbing and paper ironed onto the wrong side of my frosting fabric and on the right you see my cut finished cupcake liner and cherry fabric pieces.

I sewed a strip of wood-grain fabric to the bottom of my background fabric and laid all the pieces out the way I wanted them.  I set aside the frosting and cherries then peeled the paper backing from the cupcake liners and ironed them in place.  

From here, they are lightly adhered to the fabric and ready to be sewn on.  I decided to use the BERNINA's blanket stitch (#78) and sewed carefully along the edge of the cupcake liners.  The BERNINA has a speed control feature, so I was able to adjust it to a speed I was comfortable with for this intricate work.

Once all the liners were sewn in place, I peeled off the paper backing from the frosting layers and ironed them in place.  A super quick change of thread color and I was off and running again.

Here's a close up of the machine blanket stitching around the cherries on top.    

Here's the finished tote bag front with everything sewn in place.  I was very pleased with my experience appliqueing using the BERNINA 350PE.  

For the back, I made a patchwork gumball machine filled with a fun candy fabric.  I'm obsessive about collecting candy and snack prints, I love to have them on hand for inspiration.

I lined it and added some complementary straps to finish it off.  This immediately became my favorite tote bag ever!  I'm expecting to get lots and lots of comments on it.  

Funthreads is hosting the full quilt pattern for free on her blog for a short time.  If you're inspired by her as much as I am, hop on over soon to download the PDF!  http://funthreads.blogspot.com/p/quilt-tutorials.html
119  MASTER CRAFTSTERS / BERNINA 3 Series / Scrappy Business Card Wallet using the BERNINA 350PE on: May 15, 2012 10:19:16 AM
Sponsored Content
* To see the overview of this Master Craftsters campaign, click here.
* To read more about the machine used in this project, explore BERNINA's website here.

Scrappy Business Card Wallet using the BERNINA 350PE

I decided my first project with the BERNINA 350 Patchwork Edition would be something simple: a business card wallet.  It could also be used to carry all those extra cards that take up space in your regular wallet... store rewards cards, airline hotel and car rental membership cards, your library card.  You know, those things you don't use every day that just make your wallet fat.

One of the things I love about this project is I get to rummage through my scrap bin and resurrect my favorite fabrics into something new and functional.  Here's what you'll need: 5 by 6 inch cuts of both your interior and exterior fabrics and also a piece of flannel which will give your wallet some stability.  Cut two 3 by 5 inch pieces of your pocket fabric.  You'll also need a coordinating button and hair elastic.

I selected the No. 1 presser foot for this project, because it allows me to easily sew both a 1/4 and 1/8 inch seam, and I'll need both.  The feet just snap into place, they're super easy to change out.  Start with your pocket fabric.  Fold the long edge over 3/8 inch and press it with a hot iron.  Sew a 1/4 inch seam along the pressed edge.

Pin the wrong side of your pockets to the right side of your interior fabric along the 5 inch edges.  Sew them in place with a 1/8 inch seam to anchor them for the next step.  

Now it's time to sandwich your fabrics together.  Lay the piece you just sewed right side up and place your exterior fabric on top.  They need to have right sides touching.  Then lay your flannel on top of that and pin everything together.

Starting along whichever short edge you want the elastic to be attached to, sew a 1/4 inch seam around your pinned fabric stack, making sure you leave about 2 inches open so you'll be able to turn it right side out.  

Take a pair of sharp scissors and round off the corners.

Turn it right side out through the 2 inch opening.  I use a chopstick to get into the corners.  Press your wallet, making sure you tuck in and press the fabric at the opening.

Pin the hair elastic in place at the center of the open edge.  

Sew around the entire wallet with a 1/8 inch topstitch.  Make sure you sew over the hair elastic a few times to anchor it in place.  The final step is to hand sew a button on the opposite side from the elastic and you're done!

This was such an easy project, I couldn't just stop at one!  

I can't wait to see where the BERNINA 350PE takes me next...
120  MASTER CRAFTSTERS / BERNINA 3 Series / Patchwork Portable Sewing Wallet using the BERNINA 350PE on: May 15, 2012 10:18:31 AM
Sponsored Content
* To see the overview of this Master Craftsters campaign, click here.
* To read more about the machine used in this project, explore BERNINA's website here.

Patchwork Portable Sewing Wallet using the BERNINA 350PE

I decided to try the BERNINA 350 Patchwork Edition on a project I've made quite a few of over the years - a portable sewing wallet.  I had in mind some variations to try which utilize a few of the machine's special features.  

In the past, I've done these with a solid fabric front but decided to make a scrappy version with some lettering as a focal.  The BERNINA 350PE makes lettering super easy!  See the 'A' button on the right?  Just use it to scroll through the alphabet.  I started with the letter 'M', you can see it selected in the LCD screen on the left.

The word I decided to use for the center front of the wallet was 'MAKER', which I felt was appropriate for an embroiderer or hand stitcher.  Here's a side view of the word being sewn.

Since I was going to make this version of the sewing wallet scrappy, I went with a log cabin design.  I added strips of colorful fabric to the top and bottom of my center piece, then to the sides.  I just repeated this process until I got it to a size I liked.  

I made the back cover in the same fashion, then trimmed it to be the same size as the finished front piece.  Here are the front and back completed.  

I used a pink and purple batik fabric for the interior, cut to the same size as the front and back panels.  Here I'm attaching a side pocket.  To secure the pocket, I anchored it by tracing the stitch in reverse for about a quarter inch.  The reverse button is so handy on this machine.  

I knew I wanted to include a piece of felt to hold pins/needles.  I decided to try to combine a decorative stitch with the machine's alphabet capability.  Reviewing the stitch pattern summary card, I selected a lovely floral (#68) and programmed it into the machine.  One really handy feature is the pattern end button.  When you select it, the BERNINA 350PE sews just one decorative stitch pattern at a time (exactly what you see on the card).  It stops sewing when it's done.  To sew another one, just lift your foot off of the pedal and push it down again.

I decided to write the word 'PINS' between the floral decorative stitching, all in one line.  The BERNINA combined the decorative and alphabet stitching together.  So cool!

When I had both interior panels completed to my liking, I sewed it together with some fusible fleece inside to give the wallet some structure.  To finish it off, I sewed a ribbon to the interior that will secure a pair of scissors and made a small pincushion that fits into one of the interior pockets.  

This is my favorite version yet!  I'm loving how the crazy colors work together, and the lovely decorative touches I was able to include thanks to this machine.

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