YUM! Blueberry basil lemonade!

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Ninety degree temps ... a basil plant that is soooo bushy ... and an abundance of blueberries at the market ... what do you do with all of that? You make blueberry & basil lemonade to cool off on the deck! The ingredients are simple: washed berries, basil leaves, honey, lemonade, ice.

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Tear some basil into a tall glass ... add a small handful of blueberries and a dollop of honey.

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Use a wood spoon to mash the berries and basil just enough to crush them and release their juice and flavor.

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Fill the glass to the brim with ice cubes. Pour over your favorite lemonade and give it a quick stir to mix the berries and basil flavors. Garnish with a basil leaf and a few blueberries. It's so delicious!!

For a gathering you can make a pitcher full. For a boozy drink ... add vodka or even blueberry vodka! So good. Bottoms up!!

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Masking hack for the hair salon!

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Masks are the new attire while we wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. You're supposed to wear them everywhere ... even at the hair salon ... but what the heck ... how do they cut around your ears without cutting the straps off the mask? Once I was able to snag an appointment for a cut and color, my thoughts turned to how to solve this problem. Double stick tape came to mind at first but I didn't think it would hold for the entire appointment. I remembered my friend telling me about a sticky product her daughter used to hold up her pageant dresses and I found some at Walgreens. So for this mask hack you need a disposable mask + Hollywood Fashion Secrets fashion tape. The tape is individual pieces and there are a lot in the tin so share with your friends.

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The tape has backings on both sides. Pull it off of one side of a piece of fashion tape and secure it to one side of the back side of the mask. It's really sticky! Don't remove the top backing until you're ready to put on the mask.

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Try on the mask using the ear straps and adjust the nose piece if you have one. It's ready to take to the salon! When you get there, remove the backing film from the fashion tape and place on your face, adjusting it before you press it on completely.

Here are a few things I learned after my first haircut.

  • Open and adjust the mask before you apply the fashion tape.
  • Move the fashion tape in from the edge about 1/4" keeping part of it on the firmer, stitched edge. That will protect it from facial movement and also from water if it gets damp.
  • If you don't think you'll need them, cut off the straps. They were a nuisance.
  • Be sure the mask fits comfortably before you stick it to your face.
  • Make sure you've wiped off any moisturizer or makeup before you stick the mask to your face.

I can't believe I went four months without a haircut! My last cut was in February and I was scheduled for a cut in March but the night before, the governor shut everyone down. There were little snips now and then to keep my bangs in check during that time but it was hard not to chop off more. And then there was the whole touch-up issue. Ugh. Not taking getting a good cut and color for granted again!!

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Block #1 of the Friendship Quilt Along is FUN!

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I love the concept of this quilt-along by Amanda Herring ... it celebrates the qualities we value in friends. The Friendship Quilt Along  reminds us of why we choose our friends ... because they're fun, trustworthy, gracious, dependable, honest, warm, loyal, humorous, empathetic, patient ... and more! In fact, all of the blocks and the templates that go with them are named after these wonderful traits. The quilt along will continue all Summer so you'll have time to enjoy the process of making the blocks + thinking about the feelings you enjoy when you think about your friends. Start here with Block #1. There you'll find more information from Amanda and see the links to the other designers who are taking part in the FUN block. I've taken a little bit a of a different slant on this block!

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I followed the pattern instructions and use a variety of the templates to make my block ... including one of the FUN templates. I was using a combination of wool and cotton so I choose to use fusible web on my pieces and not turn under the edges.

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After I traced the shapes on to the fusible ... leaving some space around them ... I placed the fusible side against the wrong side of my fabric and pressed in place. Then I used my scissors to cut out the shapes on the traced line. Don't forget to remove the paper backing! The shapes will be placed on the background of the block and pressed in place.  Sharp scissors are important ... I like OLFA's 5" applique scissors best. 

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The flower template has a lot of curves so to make sure they came out round and not pointy, I clipped into the V of the curves first. It made is so much easier to cut each petal smoothly as I rounded the curve.

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Because wool is thicker, it isn't easy to make it fuse to the background. I gave those pieces a little nudge with Roxanne's Glue Baste and Clover's applique pins.

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My block fused in place and ready to stitch! My stem was too big ... I cut it the width stated on the pattern ... but because I wasn't turning under the edges, I trimmed it to 1/2" instead. The leaves and flower parts also weren't turned under so I had to make sure there was enough space allowed for the seam allowances later when it gets sewn with the rest of the blocks. They are just a little bit bigger than if you needle-turn applique but it all works out.

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Using two strands of floss, I stitched the leaves and stem with a running stitch.

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To stitch the large wool shape, I alternated whip stitches and cross stitches to give it texture. I like using floss for that reason, too.

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A whip stitch held the scalloped flower in place but on the flower center, I just made long stitches over the shape both ways. I love how it softened the brightness of the yellow.

Using this fusible method, I had the block done in no time! I loved watching it develop by working it with a needle and thread. As you make this quilt, try this method on the other applique blocks in the pattern. Enjoy sewing ... and invite your friends because everything is more FUN when you include them!

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Christmas just keeps on coming!

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On this super cold -14 degree day in Minnesota, it's such a pleasure to have the mailman ring the door bell with an unexpected package! As soon as I saw the return address from Cordova Alaska, I felt all warm inside because I knew it was going to be something great!

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That beautiful card! It was signed by my friend Terri ... many of you know her as Mrs Dilly Dally from her blog or her Facebook page. Anything wrapped in craft paper and tied with yarn and jute makes me happy ... but doesn't keep me from ripping into the package!

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How cool that it's a gift inside a gift! This pretty tin will be put to lots of use! But wait ... there's more!

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I've always been jealous of Terri's knitting skills ... she designs her own knitting patterns! Throughout December, she's been showing sneak peeks of what she terms her '007 projects' that she doesn't want anyone to see until Christmas. Because she has to ship her things from a remote part of Alaska, she doesn't like to talk about them until they are in the right hands. I sort of remember seeing her knitting some socks ... not knowing that one day they'd be mine! They are the softest wool in gorgeous shades of blueberry ... just like they grow in the forest near her home. I truly do not know how I'll be able to wear them because I want to keep them just as they are. But I know eventually they'll go on my feet because Terri makes her things to be worn. The other Alaska trinkets will find a home where I can see them and smile at my memories of Cordova.

A Minnesota girl, Terri and I became friends following one of the Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop bus tours in 2008. Our paths have crossed so frequently since then that it's scary ... seeing how we are thousands of miles apart and all. Once again, we'll be together in July when we'll meet up at Quiltstock in Dallas. But my favorite get together with her was when she invited me to teach at her quilt guild in Cordova. I found the town so enchanting that I often dream about returning ... and can't wait until I do! Because I will. In the meantime, I'll look back on my photos of the harbor and imagine Terri seeing the same view as she works on another 007 project for some lucky recipient!

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A Little Something for Christmas ~ Jewelry Keeper

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I like to get a lot of use out of my quilting and crafting books so when I was flipping through A Little Somethingmy book published through Martingale , I started thinking about other projects that could be made when you combine pieces from many pages. And then the wheels started turning! Here's one ...  Jewelry Keeper ... but remember ... you need to have a copy of A Little Something to make it. 

A Little Something cover

To make the Jewelry Keeper, you'll need a 9" square of wool for the outside, a 4 1/2" square for the inside, scraps for flowers and leaves, and a long strip for the ties. Of course, don't forget floss ... matching or contrasting is fine ... sharp scissors, Roxanne's Glue Baste, and #9 embroidery needles.

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Use freezer paper to make templates and cut the wool for the scallop and circle. The patterns are on pages 30-31 or a larger circle on page 27. You can find info on how to cut wool shapes on page 78.

On the scalloped piece, use two strands of floss to blanket stitch the edge. I worked from the front so my stitches looked best there, and I hid my knots on the inside as much as I could. You're only working with one layer of wool so it's a bit tricky. Just make it look nice.

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A Little Something jewelry keeper 5

Press the circle in half, then in half again ... use steam or mist with a spray bottle because you want the folds to stay.

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Center the circle on the scallop. Use a running stitch and two strands of floss to stitch along the folds, going through all of the layers. Hide the knots under the circle. This makes the pockets for your jewels.

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So next you have to make templates for the flowers and leaves. I used the large and small flowers on page 23, the leaf on page 31, the flower and small and medium and large circles on page 33, and the leaf on page 53. Look at the photos to see what you need to cut. I used scraps from my stash.

Fold the scallop in half and then use glue baste to hold the flowers and leaves in place. Notice that the rounded ends of the leaves are facing out. The shapes are only placed on half of the scallop. If it makes it easier to lay them out, lightly press the scallop into quarters.

To stitch the flowers and leaves, use one strand of floss. Try your best to keep the stitches under the inside circle if you can ... but if you can't, make them neat on the back. If you don't know how to make the stitches, we've included photos on page 79.

Make one long stitch down the center of the leaves.

The larger flower is anchored by large X stitches in each petal.  The smaller flower and center circle are anchored with a star stitch over the top of the center circle, going through all of the layers. The small flower is loose.

Whipstitch the larger circle flower along the edges. Make a star stitch over the center of the small circle to hold it in place.

Cut two strips for ties ... a scant 3/8" wide x 10" or so long. Layer a small flower and circle, then glue baste about 1" or so from the end of each tie. Anchor with a star stitch over the center circle. On the back, cover the stitches with a circle, then stitch a large X through the center, hiding the knots underneath. Notch the ends of the ties about 1/2" beyond the flowers. Look at the photos above to see how they should look.

Fold the jewelry keeper into four and press lightly. The flowers will show on the front and the back when it's tied.

Make a mark 1/2" from the scalloped edge along the fold on both folds. Cut a slit a scant 1/4" long along the fold. Push the other end of each tie through the slit to the inside. Tie a knot in the ends and trim the excess.

Tuck necklaces, earrings, and rings into the segments of the inside circle. Fold the jewelry keeper into four and tie it to close.

If you don't have a copy of A Little Something yet, you can order an autographed copy here!

Happy stitching! Enjoy making 'a little something'!!

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