All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The School of Essential Ingredients

"Sometimes our greatest gifts grow from what we are not given."

"LIFE is beautiful.  Some people just remind you of that more than others."

- The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stitching Projects to Keep Loved Ones Close

A dear college friend asked me to stitch some gifts for her family members to help keep her beloved father's memory alive and nearby after his death this year.  With these projects in mind, she saved numerous articles of his clothing shortly after he died.  I can't believe she had the presence of mind to do so; many people would be delighted to do something like this with their loved one's clothing, but it's no longer an option since the items were tossed long ago. 

Linda had great ideas of what she wanted done with the clothing.

She had me stitch 2 quilts (48x66"), one for her mom and one for her, out of her dad's flannel shirts, sport shirts and pants. 

The 6" blocks allowed me to incorporate logos from shirts or jackets,

pants pockets,

shirt plackets,

shirt pockets,

and portions of his clothing that were uniquely his,

Photo credit: Linda P.

making this quilt a comforting reminder of his presence, especially for her mom.

I used the leftover buttons from the shirt and pants and tacked them in the corners of each block.  The button-stitch feature on my Bernina machine works great for this type of application.

Finally, I stitched a tag on the back to commemorate his life and his love for his family.

Linda also had me make an assortment of 12x16" pillows out of her dad's flannel shirts for her nieces and nephews.

I stitched a portion of his monogrammed shirt pocket on one side,

and a pocket on the other side in which Linda could tuck one of her dad's monogrammed handkerchiefs.

She also had me do some pillows for a niece and nephew who had lost both grandfathers this year, using a bathrobe...

... and button-down shirt.  A tie from his favorite men's store became the cording,

and the tag from the tie is stitched onto the pillow to document that special detail of his life.

Finally, she had me stitch some little zippered pouches out of his Linda's father's favorite plaid pants.  What a great idea!

An online tutorial walked me through how to easily make them.

It's hard to put into words how meaningful this project was for me.  It was such a privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility of turning remnants of one man's life into tangible items that would help to keep his legacy alive.  I felt so attached to a man I had never met by the time I was finished....  There's nothing more rewarding than to sew something that connects people, that will comfort and touch another human being for years to come.  And, I keep thinking how fortunate Linda's family is to have a daughter, sister, or aunt who would provide them with such a gift.

Thank you, Linda, for blessing each one of us!

Friday, November 25, 2011

24 Advent Gifts

I love this idea for an advent chain, featured in the December 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  My Aunt Maude always sent us an advent calendar every December, and I loved opening those doors every morning.  So, I was eager to create an advent activity for my nephew.

While I HATE posting something about Christmas in November, this is one Christmas project that needs a bit of preparation before December 1.  It takes a bit of time to wrap all the packages and string them together.  I found that boxes work best.  Be sure to use sturdy ribbon or twine.

I was determined not to spend much money on the gifts, so I scoured the house for fun little things that I was sure Ricky would enjoy. 

(Yes, he enjoys using my lint roller!)

A Christmas ornament stitched by my mother.

I did break down and bought a few things, but was able to keep the cost under $5.00.  Thankfully 8-year-olds aren't too difficult to please!

Note:  Be sure to use ribbon that isn't slippery; twine or string will probably work best. The ribbon I used allowed the packages to slide out, resulting in a mess when I presented the string of gifts to my nephew!  I was able to get everything back together, but I'll be sure to use something that works better next year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Centerpiece

This adorable turkey centerpiece was featured in the November 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  

It was such an inexpensive craft - I grabbed a pine cone from my Christmas stash, had some leftover googly eyes from last year's Thanksgiving craft with Ricky, and simply needed to purchase a few sheets of cardstock from A.C. Moore for a grand total of $1.08!

The scorer blade...

... on the Fiskar cutter worked great...

for making fold lines for the feathers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Did You Know...

... that the numbers on those produce stickers actually mean something?!

They are called a "PLU code"; the "PLU" stands for "price lookup".  In this case, the "3127" means that this piece of produce is a large pomegranate.  If it were smaller, it would be assigned another number.

What is of most interest to me is determining whether a piece of produce is genetically modified (believe me - a very, very BAD thing!!!!).  If it was genetically modified, there would be an "8" in front of the 4 digits (i.e. 83127).

What sparked my interest in such a mundane thing??  I was at Root's yesterday; one of the stand owners, who knows I'm always looking for organic produce, told me that one of his customers told him that his pomegranates were genetically modified.  WHAT??!!!  NO WAY!!!  Not pomegranates, one of my favorite winter fruits!  Not the fruit that I introduced to my nephew, that has become his favorite fruit.  So, that sparked the above research on my part. 

Thankfully, this pomegranate is not genetically modified, and likely nor are any pomegranates.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011


Finally made it to Afternoon Tea at Hershey Pantry with a friend - had been on my list of "Fun Things to Do" for ages!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Little Pumpkin...

... (the one in the top left corner)...

 ...became supper tonight!

I grew these little ("Little" being the operative word; every variety of winter squash I grew this year could be described as little or miniature - still not sure why!) pumpkins this summer since they are considered to be a nice pumpkin for eating. 

 But, what to do with them other than using them for soup (Julia's delicious Curried Pumpkin Mushroom Soup) or a yummy dessert (Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Creme Brulee...)??  I was determined to find some new-to-me ways to use the healthful pumpkins in my cooking.  This recipe was a great option.   These little Sugar Pumpkins are nice if you need a small amount of pumpkin for a recipe, and they're easy to peel.  Much less of an ordeal than cooking down a large neck pumpkin.... 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

What's Ricky Up To....

Comfort Casserole

I almost always have a quart of chili in the freezer, so this makes a quick, comforting casserole.  I love the combination of the sweet cornbread with the spicy chili, and you don't have to fuss with crumbly cornbread or muffins!

(Someday I'll come up with a better substitute for those inexpensive Jiffy Cornbread mixes, but for now, this will do just fine- especially since I got it dirt cheap at BB's!).  :)

Chili Cornbread Casserole

Source:  C. Funck

1 qt. chili
1  8 1/2 oz. box cornbread mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread chili in 8x8" square baking dish.
Prepare cornbread according to package directions.
Spread cornbread mixture over chili. 
Bake 30 min. or until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How cool is this??!!

Very cool, unless...'s almost the size of a dinner plate and you uncover it in YOUR COMPOST PILE!!!!  

I knew I had a yellow jacket problem and guessed there was a nest somewhere in the bottom of my compost pile because I've been seeing yellow jackets flying in and out of the base of it for the last month.  Of course, I hadn't noticed their activity until after I got stung while turning one of the piles.   

Since I use the compost in my vegetable beds, I didn't want to use any insect sprays directly on the compost; I decided I should I try some "organic" home remedies, but to no avail....

Supposedly you can place bubble wrap near the entrance of the nest.  The sunlight reflecting on the plastic will confuse the bees and cause them to not be able to find the nest.  HA!  Not the case!!  My yellow jackets simply ATE through the bubble wrap!!  Yikes, this is serious!

I  started feeling desperate, thinking that if I didn't come up with a solution, I was going to have to pay big money to some exterminator, not something I wanted to do!  So I was willing to try this goofy remedy:

Suspending a hunk of fish above a dishpan of soapy water was supposed to lure in the wasps, then drown them as they flew too close to the water.  Yeah right!!  The yellow jackets didn't even bother checking out the fish - too cheap of a cut for them, I guess!  I was unwilling to share the wild-caught Atlantic salmon I had in the freezer with the guys, so I trekked off to the grocery store to buy the cheapest fish available.   

I gave the whole dilemma a break, then decided I needed to tackle it this weekend if I was going to be able to turn my compost pile in preparation for cleaning out my flower and vegetable beds.  So, I took the hose and flooded the area where I thought the nest might be, still not sure if it was even in the compost pile or in the ground.  That seemed to slow things down, so I proceeded to very cautiously turn the pile.  Thankfully I didn't get attacked when I uncovered the nest.  I would have liked to have gotten close enough to inspect it and take some better pictures, but I didn't want to risk alarming the guys.  I hated to do it, but I ended up flooding the nest again with the hose later in the day after more of the yellow jackets had returned home, then broke it up with my garden fork and added it back into the turned compost.  :(  I just didn't want to take a chance of them rebuilding another nest, especially since this is their busy season.

I also found a mouse and its nest in the compost pile as well - what's the deal?!  We've had earthquake, flood, snow; next I''ll be overtaken by insects and critters!