Wednesday Giveaway…

And the winners are: Cindy Walker and LaVerne Alves. Congratulations! I’ll send you and email asking for your mailing address. Thank you all for posting your comments. Mark your calendars for the next Wednesday Giveaway.

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Amish-Inspired Quilts was published in 2006 and is now only available in a downloadable format. I have 2 copies so there will be 2 lucky winners!

Add a comment to this post to be included in the drawing. All comments made from the time the post goes up until I can get to my computer on Thursday morning will be included. Good luck!

Side note: I use the random number generator that comes up when you google ‘random number generator’. That seems more random that asking Steve to pick a number :-).

DIY Chocolate Bars

In my world, a little bit of chocolate is the perfect way to end the day. I’ve been taking added sugar out of my diet and had finally gotten used to 99% cocoa chocolate bars and they are 1) expensive and 2) hard to find. So I consulted google and found recipes for making my own chocolate bars. It’s so easy that I thought I’d share the process with you.

NOTE: 100% cocoa chocolate is an acquired taste that took me a while to get used to it. You can add sweeteners (listed below).

The 3 main ingredients are cocoa powder, coconut oil, and coconut butter. Coconut butter is very flavorful and more solid at room temperature than coconut oil is. I like a coconut oil that has some flavor. Cocoas have different flavors so try a variety to find the ones you like.

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You can get creative with additional flavors. I typically add vanilla, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.

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In the past I have added 1 tbsp, you could add more to taste. A friend adds Stevia. You could add plain old sugar, maple syrup, whatever sounds good to you.

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DIY Chocolate Bar Recipe

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (other flavor extracts could be fun to experiment with)

Optional add-ons: toasted nuts, crushed hard candy, coconut, etc.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl with a spout.

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Warm the coconut oil and butter in the microwave until they are liquid. I find it easier to measure the warmed coconut oil and butter in one of these measuring devices.

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Whisk the coconut oil and butter, and vanilla into the dry ingredients.

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You can taste the mix at this point and adjust the flavor by adding whatever you think it needs.

You will need to pour the chocolate mixture into something to harden. You can line a pie plate with waxed paper. It works, it’s just not optimal. Silicone candy bar molds work much better. If you use silicone molds, place them on a cookie sheet for stability. Pour the chocolate into the lined pie plate or candy mold.

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Sprinkle with whatever you like. I add unsweetened coconut flakes.

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The chocolate will harden quicker if you place it in the refrigerator. When it is hard, remove it from the mold.

This chocolate will melt easily so I store mine in the refrigerator.

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Sit back and enjoy!

 

Wednesday Giveaway

Thursday Update: Congratulations to the lucky winner, Barbara Burkhalter! Be sure to mark your calendars for next week’s Wednesday Giveaway.

Welcome to the Wednesday Giveaway! This week you have the opportunity to win my 2nd-to last copy of our much-coveted out-of-print book, A Slice Of Christmas. It has a very slightly dinged corner, but other than that it’s in primo condition.

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This book is full of wonderful Christmas patterns. Click here to see the quilts.

If you’d like to enter your name in the drawing, leave a comment below before 12:00 midnight, CST, February 15, 2017. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner. Good luck!

Let it go…

I make quilts because I can’t not make them. But, once finished, I am more in love with the next quilt. Finished quilts tend to end up in my closet. It seems that I am not finished with the urge to tidy up because I can no longer ignore the shelves stuffed with quilts.

It began with the need to take better photos of my quilts. As I unload the shelves, I’ve found quilts that I haven’t seen in years, like this Amish pinwheel. It’s one of the few that I kept from before Linda and I started Piece O’ Cake in 1994. I had time to hand quilt back in the day!

Amish Pinwheel

I gave away most of the quilts that I made before-POC. I’ve given quilts away since then, but I kept way too many made for books and patterns. I thought that I might need them in the future! Well, the future is here and I don’t need to keep them all. What to do with the quilts that need a new home?

Several are finding new homes with my friends. It’s easier than I thought it would be to choose the right quilt for a particular person — it’s a lot like the wand choosing the wizard. Giving quilts is one of the funnest things ever. I LOVE putting a quilt-smile on a friend’s face.

I know that I will run out of quilts before I run out of friends to give them to, but that’s OK. There will be more quilts. And there are quilts that don’t fit anyone I know — those are traveling with me and will be offered for sale. One this is for sure, I’m done stuffing the closet!

Daisy

 

The Daisy quilt, above, was made for a magazine article for Rodale Press. Or maybe it was for inclusion in a book. 

Weeding tips…

anudge asked for tips on how I weeded out my stash. Here goes:

I used to keep my linen, vintage, hand-dyes, etc., in their own separate groups. I realized that I forgot about them when I was pulling fabrics for a quilt so I decided to merge all of my fabric.

I emptied the top shelf in my closet. I worked standing up at the long dresser in the bedroom where my fabric lives. I worked with one stack of at a time. I touched every fabric and decided to keep it, or not. The ‘nots’ went into bags.

The keepers were sorted into stacks of solids, lights, mediums, or darks. Where it made sense, I grouped similar shades of a color together. For example I have yellow-greens in one stack and blue-greens in another. I know that my stacks are going to eventually get messed up so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this.

Next I pulled my ‘special’ fabrics, sorted them and added them to the cottons in the closet. 1-yard big print pieces that will be used for backings are still separate.

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Let me show you how it works with a much smaller group of fabrics. The back story is that I have been inspired by friends to work on a quilt using Liberty of London fabric. My friend, Kathy (hi Kathy!) sent me a fat quarter bundle from the Liberty shop in London — how cool is that! I do love these fabrics from the bundle…

I don’t love these 4 fabrics. If they were just plain old fabrics in my stash, they’d be gone.

But I’m going to make a Liberty of London quilt and can’t afford to be picky! Plus all the fabrics in the bundle actually do play well together. (It goes to show that you can make just about any fabric work, but that’s another story.)

And the bundle fabrics look really good with my other Liberties…

So what does this mean? It means that there are some fabrics I like and some that I like less. When I have too much fabric, I have to decide what no longer fits. Making decisions is hard and it can wear you out if you over-think it. So I don’t think too much as I’m sorting. I put the cast-offs in a bag so that I’m not tempted to bring them back.

If you have more fabric than I do (and that’s a real possibility) I would suggest tackling one color at a time. If you start with yellow, pull all of your yellows, from everywhere. Put them on a big table or bed. Work through them. Put your tidy stacks on the shelves, ignore the cast-offs, move on to the next color. Don’t give up (you’ll be tempted). Power through it, you’ll be glad you did

 

Weeding out your stash…

My color lecture always includes the suggestion that it’s important to weed out your fabric stash. This idea is often met with skepticism, but it’s something I learned from Linda long ago and I stand by it. I usually weed out my stash once a year and/or when there is lots of fabric stacked on the floor.

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There’s more fabric on the floor than you can see here.

The shelves inside this closet are about 5′ wide — you can’t see the far ends of the shelves unless you are in the doorway. There are shallow shelves inside, to the left of the door that face the main shelves that also held fabric.

I arrange my fabric by color and value. Over time, however, the values get mixed up and the colors don’t always end up in the right place. The fabric is squeezed between the shelves so tightly in places that it was hard to get to it.

With the unicorn quilts finished last Friday, I turned my attention to this project. Over the course of 2 days, I removed 44 lbs of fabric from my stash.

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Here’s my newly-clean stash:

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I didn’t stop with the closet. I also cleaned out drawers with hand-dyed and hand painted fabric, vintage fabric, silks, and more. I found appliqué blocks that I don’t have any idea what to do with, and more. So much more that I’m going to have an online Studio Sale next Tuesday morning, January 10. I’ll send a newsletter* reminder. I’ll also put a Studio Sale link in the menu bar that Tuesday morning at pieceocake.com.

*If you aren’t on my newsletter list, go to pieceocake.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up in the newsletter box.

Now that this job is done, I get to think about what’s next. I’m excited!

Christmas pillows…

My DIL, Celia, always puts the cutest Christmas pillows on her sofa and bed. I admit to being inspired! I often buy pillows but you know what? We can sew and pillows are EASY! I made these 2 blocks when I was teaching Pick-Up Sticks (from The Quilter’s Practical Guide To Color) with the idea in mind that they would make a good pillow.

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The four 8″ x 8″ blocks in each of the larger blocks are the same, they are just turned differently. I sewed the blocks together, being careful to leave an opening for stuffing. You could insert a zipper on one side and insert a pillow form if that suits you better.

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I turned the pillow right sides out and pressed with steam, using my new Laura Star iron. (More on that in a future post.) It did not take long to stuff it with polyfil and sew the opening closed.

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I love a fast project! I’m not sure which side I like the best.

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The Santa pillow came from Hobby Lobby. It didn’t look nearly as good in the store as it does on my sofa :-).

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