Be Sociable
PictureKeatchie House
I took some time to go visit my family in Arkansas the past few days. I just have to get back "Home" to decompress and enjoy life outside the big city of Houston.

The best and quickest route is US 59 all the way to Carthage then jaunt over on US 79 to I-20, around Shreveport/Bossier and then up the country highways to south Arkansas. But, today I felt a little adventurous and decided to veer off the beaten path some since I had all day to get back. I drove south out of Greenwood, LA on State Hwy 169. This was the best decision I had made in a while. Winding, shady highway with beautiful homes, picket fences and interesting sites. When I got a few miles south of Greenwood I came to a fork in the road...decisions, decisions. I took the left and, I think, the one less traveled. Thanks Robert Frost for the inspiration. :) I am so glad I did because I went through Keachi, LA, founded in 1858. You can read more about it here. For a town of less than 400 people, it has 11 sites on the historic register and a home that is the perfect example of Greek Revival architecture.

My only regret is that I did not stop to take pictures because it was raining. The historic buildings are in dis-repair and the Greek Revival home is one of the worst, including a grown up yard. The picture here is from 2009 and in the past 4 years the whole property has gone down a lot more. Although, it would make a perfect haunted house. I hope to go through there again on the way to or from Arkansas and take pictures of all the interesting sites.

After leaving Keatchi, I traveled on to Logansport, LA and Joaquin, TX making my way back to US 59. It took me an extra hour but it was well worth it.  I would have kept traveling on a different path, but I had my eye on a fabric shop in Garrison called Love Bug Fabric and Quilting and was determined to stop there. I stopped, alright....almost two hours I spent in there. The owner was very friendly and talkative. We talked about the quilt market, longarms, family and teaching.
She let me play with an Accuquilt
and experiment with how many layers of fabric can be cut at once. We tried 6 layers and it was a little too much. It was a good test. Fortunately, she let me take home all 54 2.5" squares that I cut out of a layer cake called Holiday in Kashmir.

Absolutely beautiful fabrics that could be used any time of the year.

I also left there with a quilt kit of purple and green fabrics that includes a Japanese panel insert. This is going to be a Christmas gift for a relative who loves the color purple.
Picture1. Three Bullet Cans 2. Embroidered Napkins 3. Binding 4. Hemming Lace
Before my journey really got started, I stopped at a little flea market on the Arkansas/Louisiana line that has excellent prices. Below are some of my finds.

Where have you been all my life? I joined Pinterest probably over a year ago and thought it was kind of neat. It's great to see what other people are making by hand and what new ideas are churning out there. But, about a month ago a gigantic light bulb came on and I realized this where I can keep ALL my inspiration. I have bookmarks, blog rolls, Evernotes, and Print Friendly PDFs all over Virtual creation. If something sparks my memory and I think, I want to make that and I think I have it saved in one of gazillion places. Let's go FIND it! It takes me forever and by that time I am too tired to make it. :)

Thank you Pinterest for helping me clean up my act! And the cool thing about it is, I don't just Pin and Forget. I actually go back and look up my pins and try them out from time to time. For example:
T-Shirts folded and then stacked vertically in a drawer instead of laying one on top of another. This is GENIUS! Mine don't look quite as neat as these, but I am a bigger person and wear big t-shirts so I have to squish them a little to get the drawer to close. But, now I can see all my t-shirts at once.

Custom Pressing board. I have been meaning to make one of these for a long time. Thanks to some inspiration from Pinterest and my lovely husband informing me that Lowe's sells precut plywood, I got busy Labor Day and made this one. It is 2' x 2' and as you can see fits nicely on top of Baron's kennel. He's my quilting and sewing buddy, so his kennel has to stay there and I work around it. Here is one of many I saw on Pinterest as inspiration: Riley Blake's Pressing Board.

Here is a close up of the board. I bought this layer cake over a year ago and knew I wanted to make something for my sewing room with it. This project was perfect.
I have also tried a few recipes:

General Taos Crock Pot Chicken : This had a great flavor but does not call for enough liquid. I skipped the veggies and that might have helped but I think I would still add some chicken broth or water.

Crockpot Spaghetti: This turned out really well, even without the alfredo sauce, which I didn't have on hand. I added seasoned ground beef and some leftover meatballs. It cooked about two hours while we were in church and it was perfectly cooked when we got home. Great Sunday Meal.

Egg McMuffin Knock-Offs: This recipe was awesome! I baked the eggs in ramekins but will be buying a muffin top pan soon because I don't have enough of the right size ramekins to make six at at a time. Much better than McDonalds and can easily be modified - scramble the eggs, different cheeses, different meat or no meat. The possibilities are endless. Oh, and they freeze perfectly wrapped in wax or parchment paper. Pop them in the microwave for about a minute and ENJOY!

One of my favorite places for quilting inspiration and fabric is Connecting Threads. Although I did not enter a design this year, it is one of my goals to attempt to design fabric. I should make a goal for next year.  There a lot of entries that are great so head on over to by Monday, September 2, and vote for your favorite. Here are mine:
Pretty Birds
Fireflies Dancing
I am deviating from my usual blog topics to write a little about child-parent relationships. It's so hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I am about to be 40 years old but the hardest thing to wrap my brain around is that my dad is 71 and is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease. He sleeps in a hospital bed in my parents' livingroom. No, he lives in a hospital bed, as of last Thursday. He is not really responsive and doesn't move around much at all. My mom is exhausted from physical stress not to mention the emotional stress she has to be going through.

I have to admit I was closer to my mom than my dad while I was growing up. My dad was always working to provide for me the things I wanted and those music lessons and talent shows I entered all the time. What for? I don't sing anymore and instead of the money he spent on things, I wish I had the time with him.  Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of good times camping and vacationing that I wouldn't trade for the world.  He was a stoic man and he loved me by working hard and setting a great Christian example of what a dad and a husband was supposed to be.

So, if anyone is reading this, please pray that God will gives all of us the strength and peace we need to get through this trial.


by Michelle Hand

Good evening y'all! This post is to share a new dish I discovered just this week.

But I have to include the story of the brand of croutons I used.

See, we have a grocery store here in Texas called HEB. It was started in Kerrville with $60 then the son took over the business. The only thing NOT business friendly about HEB is the "B" part.  It stands for "Butts", the last name of H.E.
Now, I bet you would agree if ole' H.E. had stuck with the last name for the grocery chain it more than likely would not be as successful as it is today....or maybe not exist at all.
Anyway, I used to love telling that story to my students in food lab. I would tease them and say I got their food for lab at Butts. HA!
I digress...
The croutons used for this recipe as seen in the above photo are the HEB brand and are quite tasty. Before this recipe, I never thought about using croutons as a crunchy, yummy topping for fish. I bet it would taste equally good on chicken.
Here is my version of the recipe you see there on the package.

1/4 to 1/2 cup HEB seasoned croutons, crushed or processed ( any of your fav brands or flavors will do. I used a rolling pin and crushed them in the orginal bag because I had just enough left for the recipe.)

2 teaspoons of sour cream

2 fish fillets, fresh or frozen (thaw ahead time). I used tilapia.

Salt to taste

Lawry's seasoned pepper to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

Cilantro ( I used dried but fresh would have been so much better)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Line a baking dish or sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
3. Crush croutons or pulse in food processor or blender for about 15 seconds.
4. Place fillets on lined baking pan and season to taste with salt, seasoned pepper and cayenne pepper.
5. Spoon a teaspoon of sour cream on each fillet and spread to cover.
6. Sprinkle crushed/processed croutons on each fillet, covering liberally.
7. Sprinkle with cilantro to taste.
8. Place on center rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.


by Michelle Hand

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone's week was great. I started a new job and it is  a totally new world and quite the opposite of teaching. I am learning a lot about real estate but the best part is that I can leave it at the office. So, when I get home, I am all about the grad school homework and sewing with no  worries of grading papers or prepping for the next day.  YAY!

Speaking of sewing, I started a new block for Valentine's Day. I have no idea what I am going to do with it once it's finished. A pillow? Frame it? Maybe all of you can give me some ideas.

The picture here is just the first step but I thought I would give you a sneak peek. FYI: If you ever decide to sew long strips together, remember to sew from top to bottom then bottom to top. This will prevent waves and uneven strips like I got. I will add a white background and it will take on a heart shape.

When I do finish it...hopefully before V-Day <grin> I  will post the completed block along with the link to the blog I got it from. 

Stay tuned and I would love to know what you are making for February 14!


by Michelle Hand

Blessed. That sums up my thoughts for the day. This was our Fall mantel in 2012. All done with either items on hand or items from the Dollar Store. The center artwork contains letters cut with the Cricut, fabric and a Dollar Store frame. The flanking artwork contains burlap, silk leaves and Dollar Store frames. I hope to post a tutorial on how I did it very soon.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. " Jeremiah 17:7

by Michelle Hand

I know it's hard to believe but I have never bought a shoe organizer before. Now, the hardest thing to believe, probably, is that I've never had a need for one because I've never owned that many pairs of shoes at one time. What? A woman who doesn't like shoes? Well, I like shoes, but not 24+ pairs at time like.

So, this past week I bought an over the door shoe organizer to help me organize sewing supplies.  I had gotten so tired of digging through an overstuffed drawer of interfacings and fusibles to find the right one I need and to help me not to waste money buying a type of interfacing or fusible I already have.  It's working out pretty well so far. There are 24 expanding pockets that are see through. It came with the hooks and was less than $7 at Wal-Mart. I only have it about half full but I know it won't take long to fill it up. It's great at holding packaged fusibles but it can also easily hold folded yardage of interfacings, vinyl, fusible fleece and even packaged zippers.

The downside, as you can see by the pic, is that it's not that pretty out in the open. Especially, since my sewing room is actually the breakfast room off of the kitchen. Oh, also it's the dog's room.  Over a year ago, I took over the breakfast room because the hubby wouldn't let me take over a guest room.  Baron, the dog, wouldn't let me move his bed so I work around it and him. You can see a corner of it on the left side of the pic and on the right you get a glimpse of my design wall, which is made from a Christmas vinyl tablecloth.

Since Baron won't let me move his bed (which is a metal crate and quite large) I am going to utilize it somehow as a pressing surface.

When I get more done in my sewing room, I will post a tour.   Have a great weekend and share how you have re-purposed a shoe organizer!


by Michelle Hand

I attempted my first quilt a little over a year ago. I attended a beginner's class at my local quilt store and once I learned about all the latest handy tools out there that makes it less of a daunting task, I was hooked. The ladies who conducted the class were awesome teachers and we have been friends ever since. Although I have only completed one other quilt since then, I still plug away at it, usually with a couple in the works at the same time. I am just SLOW! I stop and start. I stop to work on other sewing projects and other crafts. I will get them done, it just may be at the end of this year, who knows! :)

Anyway, back to my first quilt. I made a disappearing nine patch for my granddaughter. Yes, I have a grandaughter by marriage. I'll explain that in another post sometime. I actually finished her quilt in a month because I started in October and gave it to her for her birthday at the end of November of 2011.  I really enjoyed the process and learning all the ins and outs of picking out the fabric, sewing and cutting it apart, sewing it together again, pressing  seams, auditioning the blocks, sewing rows together and then quilting it.
When looking back, I can't believe I actually machine quilted it myself. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I quilted half of it without a walking foot....what was I thinking?? The walking foot is a must for quilting on your own machine.  Believe me, it's worth the money and a lot less heartache. I used Moda's Amelia
Charm Squares (5" precuts of fabric) to make the disappearing nine patch block. 

My granddaughter absolutely loved it ... primarily because her favorite color is Purple.

Here is a video by Missouri Star Quilt Co. demonstrating how to make the disappearing nine patch block.


by Michelle Hand

Green Hamburger? What? You think I am proposing you eat rotten hamburger meat? Rest easy, that would totally go against my safety and sanitation training. What I am talking about it is saving money and the landfill of plastic freezer bags. I buy hamburger meat in bulk and since it is just my husband and I, we don't eat a big quantity at a time. If I divided 5 pounds of hamburger meat in 1 pound amounts it would take five bags as compared to just two.  So, here is my method of going green with hamburger freezer storage. When ready for ground beef for a meal, take bag out of freezer and break off only what you need then return to the freezer. This works perfectly for 2 people
meals (like me and David). It also saves freezer bags and the smaller chunks defrost more evenly in the microwave.