Meet Andrea.  A magician with a sewing machine, owner of a covet worthy fabric stash, generous giver, endlessly creative and genuine encourager.
She finds beauty and hope in trials.  Shares her talents and passions generously.  Can pair fabrics like no other.
When I grow up I want to have 1% of her sewing skills.  She came up with the sweetest little project for one of the sweetest days of the year. Who doesn't just love Valentine's Day?  I can see this happy runner adorning my table as we celebrate LOVE.
I am so excited to make one!  Aren't you?

Hello Every-bod-eeee!! I am so tickled to be guest posting on this blog. I know I *hearted* Julie long before she ever knew of me.  Julie, you're one of my oldies-but-goodies-most-favorite blogs I subscribe to ... your posts bring much happy to my days. My two favorite, laugh-out-loud ... spit iced tea on the computer ..."Freakcycle" & "If I didn't have a blog". Serious. Save them up for one of those really doozies of days ... this will put your smile back on. So, I'm Andrea from Knitty Bitties {my shop, my blog}. I'm a girl, doing my best to live each day intentionally, with joy even in the midst of heartache and making sure I have iced tea and a bit of peanut butter everyday! I have the great privilege of being a wife and mama first and a handmade business owner second.
And today I'm going to share a tutorial for my 'hearts on a string' table runner which was thought up just for Julie and her Joy's hope readers ... YOU guys. I hope it is easiest enough for the most novice of sewers with enough options to keep it fun for the sewing masters. It took me about 2 hours so I'd say it would take the average sewer about 2-4 hours. A fun afternoon project ;).
  • Scraps (if you've got them) or fabric in various red/pink prints. The largest size you'll need is 3"x3".
  • 1/2 YD fabric (front) - I used white Kona cotton
  • 1/2 YD fabric (back) - I used a red/white floral by Anna Griffin
  • Heat-n-Bond
  • Warm-n-White batting (approx. 14"x45")
  • Thread
  • Optional tools to make it easier - rotary cutter & cutting mat
  Step 1 - Gather your scraps and start cutting them into 3"/2"/1.5" strips. Then cut again to make squares (i.e. 3"x3"/2"x2"/1.5"x1/5").
Step 2 - Cut a 3", 2" and 1.5" strip of heat-n-bond. Iron your fabric squares to each heat-n-bond strip according to instructions on the packaging. Then cut them into into individual squares and make yourself some hearts. You know, fold in half and cut (it'll take you back to your grade school cut-n-paste days). Step 3 - Cut your front fabric to 14" x width of your fabric (approx. 45"). Cut your back fabric 16" x width of your fabric. Cut batting to 14" x 45".
Step 4 - Arrange your hearts on your front fabric piece so that they make (2) 'strings of hearts' that cross about 1/3 from one side. Picture an invisible string running between them as you place them on the fabric. {Refer to finished table runner for a 'visual' of what this should look like.} Move them around until you're happy with the placement and then iron them in place. Step 5 - Make your 'layer cake' for quilting. Back fabric (right side down), then batting and then front fabric (right side up). Center the front fabric/batting on the back piece so that you have a pretty even border of back fabric all the way around.
Step 6 - Draw a line about 2" in from each short end. Do not quilt in this small 2" section as you'll be cutting it away when you get ready to do your binding.
Step 7 - Using a walking foot 'quilt' a curved line along the first string of hearts. When you get to the end, pivot your work and quilt that line again, but not in the exact same line as the first time. We're going for a natural/organic look. Repeat a 3rd & 4th time if you'd like. Do the same for the other string of hearts. I used a natural thread and a pale pink for my lines, but if you wanted them to be more noticeable, you could use hot pink or red (oh-la-la). Now, pat yourself on the back!! **Now if you don't want to do any free motion quilting, skip the next step. No one will judge you ... but if you want a little spice in your life ... try it!! **
Step 8 - Using a darning foot for free motion quilting, quilt around the large 3" hearts. I went around 2 times. Don't worry about it looking perfect. Just go with it ...
Step 9 - Carefully fold back your back fabric from one short end and trim along the line you drew earlier MAKING SURE TO ONLY CUT OFF THE FRONT FABRIC & BATTING NOT THE BACK FABRIC (sorry I'm not really shouting, just want to get your attention on that one ;). Repeat on the other side. Now lay everything flat again and go around and trim your back fabric so that you have a 1" border on all sides. Now click over to "Made by Rae's" cheater binding tutorial which I followed to finish my table runner.
**Note, you can bind this table runner traditionally if you'd like. I was simply going for speed (... name that Cake song ... oh wait, I digress). ** Now, go ahead, lay that table runner out and admire it! I'll wait ...
Doesn't it make your heart happy? I sure hope so. ::MWAH:: Happy Valentine's Day from me to you!!

It is no secret that I am a Mac.
Or that I adore Drew B.

So what happens when my squirrel loving girl needs a poster for Star of the Week?  The same poster that I have known about for over a month and somehow didn't get to until the day before it was due?

Spend a few minutes in Pages with their easy poster template.
Add in radtastic pictures from our day with Drew.
Stay away from the dreaded Comic Sans.
Send it to Costco one hour photo center.
Glue it to a foam core poster board.
Fool everyone I am a graphic designer by day, who totally planned ahead.
Which is HILARIOUS by the way!!!!

If the faux designer cred isn't enough to make you want to be a Mac, and sit in front of Drew's camera, I don't know what could.

Some random facts to fill your day...

1.  In the winter I have really, really, really dry skin.  Like the kind that makes me want to cry, peel it all off, or attack it with a metal rake.  I don't know how I would make it if I actually lived in a climate with real brutal and cold weather.  I'd have to invent a humidifier cardigan or something.

2.  I am not a big fan of my earlobes.  Silly and trivial, I know, but we all have some irrational body issue, right?  Anyway, because of such issue, I never, ever, ever wear earrings.  Ever.  I admire and appreciate earrings, but just didn't think they were for me.  Sweet Heather from Angel Face Designs set out to cure me with these aqua beauties.  Guess what?  I have been wearing them everyday and THEY ARE FABULOUS.  Who needs therapy when you have friends like Heather?

3.  This kid turned two.  I don't like it. Not one little bit.  So if you want to remain my friend, indulge me and say totally irrational things.  Like, "what is she now?  Ten months?" Or "my, how little and so very baby-ish she is!"  Denial is just a river in Egypt.

4.  Food coloring stresses me out.  Seriously.  Stresses me.  I wish I could be more fun and chill about it, but I just can't.  Crunchy Cheetos and M&M's are the only exceptions.  But if the M&M's were all brown, and the Cheetos less flourescent, I would like them a lot more.  Fruit punch?  Frosting?  Jello?  OVER THE EDGE.  At kid's birthday parties?  I need to go outside and take deep breaths.  Not normal.  At all.

5.  If you are named Jason, and perhaps married to me, and in search of a very special gift that I really, really, really want, look no further.
I love this.  I would love to wear this.  Because we are so dang cute.  It is so dang cute.
Pretty please and thank you!

6.  How about another sneaky peek from Drew B?
Awwwwwwww!!!  I sort of like us.  A lot a lot a lot.

As in, I forgot that I was storing a few left over frosted cupcakes in the oven, when I preheated it this morning.  Drippy, burning, frosting scented, smoke is just not the best smell to fill your entire house with first thing in the morning.  Or really ever.

Thankfully the weather is mild enough to open each and every window in an attempt to air it out.  The open window thing should happen more often.  The frosting fiasco?  Not so much.

{Thanks Jenny!  I lovey love this!}

With all of this fresh air, I am attacking the laundry like it is my job.  Because, lets be honest.  It totally is my job.  I have been acting like I've been unemployed for much to long.  Piles and piles of too long.  I keep resolving to do a load each day.  But each day? I so don't.

How do you best attack laundry?

Me?  A combination of denial and Nutella breaks.  The former isn't working.  The latter is awesome.
Send help!  And more Nutella!

Thank you for your notes, texts, emails, calls, flowers and love.
Thank you for being a part of our lives, our story, and the legacy that our dear Joy continues to write.
We are simply overwhelmed in the best possible way.

I love how my sis in law put it:
"Joy will be a much bigger part of your future, than your past."

We celebrated as a family at the beach with Drew B, sunshine, cupcakes, and happiness.

It was a perfect, beautiful, meaningful day.

I have so so so so much more to share.

So much.

Until then, I will leave you with this little sneak peek, of which I would like to have printed on a billboard, to put inside my house.  I get teary just looking at it.  How amazing is Drew?  Seriously, ridiculously, epically amazing.

Who would totally win an award for cheesetastic blog titles?
This girl.
But seriously, I couldn't resist.
Which makes me think of The Count of Monte Cristo, have you seen it?  I love that movie.  It's been a while... Time for a viewing, I think, while eating a sandwich that shares (don't know exactly why) the same name.

So without further adieu, here is the recipe that you asked for.  It's good.  It's easy.  It doesn't make kids cry.  What more could a girl ask for?

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Ingredients to serve four:
Ultra thin sliced deli meat of your choice
Cheese or combination of cheeses of your choice.  Sliced or shredded.  Same diff.
Pillsbury Crescent rolls. One can makes four sandwiches.  Plan accordingly.
Jam.  We are boysenberry fans here, but raspberry or strawberry would work fine too.  But boysenberry is better.
Powdered sugar.

 Line your baking sheet with foil.
Spray it with Pam.
These guys tend to stick, or the cheese melts out the sides.  Who wants to scrape melted cheese?
Unroll the crescent rolls, making sure to keep them in rectangles.  See how two triangles make a rectangle?  Your high school geometry teacher was right, you will use it in the future.
With your finger, lightly press together the seams where the triangles meet.
 Sprinkle or tear the cheese so it fits on each rectangle.
Layer on a few pieces of meat.
Fold over the neat little pile of cheese and meat.
Seal edges by pressing down with your fingers.
 Bake until golden brown at 375ยบ for 15-18 minutes.
(Aren't you glad you used foil?)
Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a heaping spoonful of jam.
How easy was that?
Hope you love them as much as we do.

My husband learned how to make these in college from his pastor, and he made them for me on one of our first dates.  How could I not marry the guy?  He had me at Monte Cristo.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, I only made two sandwiches today.  One being, there was just bald baby and I eating lunch together, and two, I may or may not have used the other four Crescent rolls this morning to make Nutella Croissants.  For the love of all things hazelnut, they were soooo good.  Evil good.  Sparkles and unicorns good.  I'm in big trouble good.  I wish I made all eight good.
So make those too.  You know, to use up the extra Crescents.

*Remnants of Christmas are still scattered around the house.  Next year I am asking Santa for an un-decorating crew.

*It is warm and sunny and the beach sounds better than anything right now.

*I chopped up Junior Mints and mixed them in to vanilla ice cream.  One would think that would be perfection in a bowl, right?  Inexplicably, it wasn't.  At all.

*Just ordered Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts to read along with the inCourage Bloom book club.  I simply cannot wait.

*This kid threw up at school today.  So sad.

*This kid is up to the same shenanigans that her big sister drove me crazy with.  Grrrr.   NOT COOL BABY.

*The tunic I ordered for this kid to wear in our family pictures is GIANT.  Sizing can be so weird sometimes.

*So unless I get some time and guts to cut in to this pretty pile of fabric to make her a dress, we are in big, big, big trouble.  Does the entire look and flow ride on one outfit?  Heck yes.  Have I been planning this for a year?  Absolutely.  Do I always scramble at the very last minute?  Hello.  Am I going to try a new and daunting pattern?  With buttonholes?  Hold me.

*This recipe is cooking in the crock pot and smells amazing.  Is it dinnertime yet?

*Totally bummed that I ran out of Nutella because I would love to make this recipe right this very minute.

*This print makes me all kinds of happy.

With that, I'm out.  Happy Tuesday to you!

Non-blogging Alica, of Toffee Crack and Santa Fe Soup fame, as well as my Chick-fil-a partner in crime, shared this seemingly impossibly easy fudge recipe with me as we sat chatting in beach chairs in the parking lot.
Two ingredient fudge.
Incredulous, right?
She promised me it was really, really good.
Like from the fancy fudge store at the mall, good.
So, being the sugar and chocolate fiend skeptic that I am, I decided to try it out.

 I just happened to have some frosting and white chocolate chips in the pantry.  Apparently the recipe works in any combination of frosting and chips.  Off the top of my head I can think of dozens of fun combinations and add-ins.
 So here is how you make it:
Pour chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl.
Microwave in one minute intervals, stirring in between, until melted.
Pour entire frosting tub into melted chocolate.  Stir to combine.
(I also added a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla to make the frosting taste a tiny bit homemade.  It is a great trick anytime you use a tub of frosting.  So I guess technically this is now four ingredient fudge.  Semantics.)
Put bowl back in microwave and cook for one more minute.  Stir thoroughly.
Then pour in to a greased or wax paper lined 8x8 pan.
Pop the dish in the fridge to chill and set.
The results:
I am a wholly admitted frosting snob.  I honestly didn't think that this fudge would be anything like my favorite fudge recipes, and I feared it would taste all chemically, and a bit too much like tub frosting.
Wow.  I was wrong.  So wrong.
It is rich and creamy, the texture is phenomenal, not dry in the least.  It tastes homemade.

Now I wish I didn't know how good it tastes and how easy it is to make.
Because give me five minutes and my power to avoid sugar suddenly dissolves in to nothingness.

Next up?  Chocolate frosting and peanut butter chips, or lemon frosting and vanilla chips, no wait, Funfetti frosting and white chocolate chips, chocolate frosting, milk chocolate chips, chopped up Skor bars sprinkled on top.... Need I go on?

What combos would you try?  Where was this easy-peasyness back during Christmas cookie exchange time?

Would I love to hop on a plane headed for Kauai?
Is that my reality right now?
Not so much.
All I have been wanting was a day filled with nothing.
No meals to cook.
No people needing things.
No list of things to do.
No laundry.
Just quiet, some reading, perhaps a nap or two, and all of meals brought to me.
Who knew that all of that and more could be found in a tent in a Chick-fil-a parking lot.

(Before sunrise and right after we collected our prizes.
who needs Kauai?)

Twenty four hours of doing absolutely nada.
People singing karaoke who had no business holding a microphone?
But it is exactly what I wanted and precisely what I needed.
Did I do it for the free chicken?
Honestly, not really.  I did it for the break.
I'll take what I can get.  The free meals for a year?  Total bonus.

(Click here to read about our other Chick-fil-a vacays.)

Ten on Ten: Take a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month. Document a day of your life and find beauty among the ordinary moments.

Lazy Monday Hipstamatic Edition

 When oranges are cheap, I buy dozens and dozens of them, because honestly, is there a better way to start the day than with fresh squeezed orange juice.  If I won the lotto I would have it year round, with a full time orange juice sommelier.  Until that day, I wait for sales.
 Meet my new best friend.  My very first BRAND NEW sewing machine, gifted to me this Christmas, by my husband who knows that a sewing wife equals a happy wife.  I've always been team Singer, but now I have great love for those manly Vikings.  It's just so stinking amazing.
 Mondays are beach days around here.  When ever I crave a quieter life with wide open spaces, I need to remind myself of this gorgeous wide open space that is just minutes away.  Barefoot in January.  It is for real.
 Ugh.  December was especially chaotic and over scheduled.  Meet the debris it left.  A month of neglected laundry.  Which will take nearly a month to get through.  Scratch the o.j. sommelier.  Give me a laundress instead.  Or ten.
 I am rarely alone in my car.  But when I am WATCH OUT.  The music is loud.  Like a gansta rolling in her swagger wagon loud.  Except my gansta music today is Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane.  I cannot explain how good this album is.  Deep, thoughtful, rich, melodic, beautiful.  Every song.  So very brilliant.  I am the mom in the pickup line singing out loud to myself.  It's awesome.
 After school book rest.  This little reader freaks me out a little.  It is like seeing what I was like at her age, excitedly escaping in the world that is contained within the words on a page.  I am so proud to see her love for reading emerge.
 The curse of an artificial tree.  When we had a real tree it was on the curb by sunrise on December 26th.  I couldn't handle the needles, the watering, or the fear that it would spontaneously combust for another minute.  But now, weeks after Christmas, I finally get fed up and want to reclaim the house.  Tell me I am not the only one who still hasn't finished packing up everything.  It's hard work, yo.
 Happy mail.  One component of about five million that are part of our wardrobe for upcoming family pictures with DrewB.  It is either going to be brilliant, or Punky Brewster gone wrong.  I am hoping for the former, but fearing the latter.
 Monte Cristos.  One of the few meals that my doesn't make my picky, picky, picky family cry.
What sugar fast?  Thanks a lot Heather.  This bowl of peppermint jo-jo's is all your fault.  Totally worth it.  Tragic that it was the last of the carton.