Today is fall back day, my favorite morning of the year! Yes, even better than Christmas morning! Isn't it great to wake up with the sun shining in bright through the blinds, and you know you have a whole extra hour to do whatever you want? Love it!

Since I was so looking forward to this morning, I decided to make something that takes a long time, beans. I love beans, and most of all I love red beans and rice. I've tried to make cajun food only twice before, and both times I failed miserably. So badly that I haven't tried to make anything cajun for years. In fact, I've never made really good beans either. They've always been too dry. But this morning just felt so full of potential, I gave it a shot!

I soaked the beans overnight, and when I woke up at 7 (it felt like 8! yay!) I was able to prepare the whole dish with tons of time before church. I left the beans simmering while I was gone, and they were ready when I came home! 

Wow, y'all! These are so good. I do a little dance with every bite, not even kidding. I've already eaten 2 bowls before writing this. So good that I had to interrupt my blogging hiatus. These beans are even better than what I've had at most restaurants. They are full of seasoning, but not too salty. The bacon grease, ham hock and andouille sausage give the soup a perfect heartiness and warmth. Seriously try these! Oh! And watch Ken Burn's documentary on Jazz (on Netflix instant!) while you eat this, for the full experience. You've just had a true glimpse of my day today.

Red Beans and Rice
Source: Homesick Texan
Serves 6

16 oz. red beans, soaked overnight.
1 tablespoon of bacon grease (or oil of choice)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 oz. andouille sausage, cubed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
2 smoked ham hocks (They look gross, but just drop them in the pot and don't think too much about it. You won't eat them, just enjoy the way they flavor the beans!)
8 cups chicken broth

For serving:
6 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice, very nice!)
4 green onions, green part chopped
Tabasco sauce (absolutely necessary!)

Clean and sort the beans, and then soak them in 6 cups of water overnight.

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion, celery and bell pepper in bacon grease for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sausage and for two minutes more. Add everything else to the pot except for the rice and green onions.

Turn the heat up to high and boil for 20 minutes. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on and let simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and simmer for at least 2 more hours. Mine went for 3 hours. Check on it every now and then and add more liquid if necessary. Are your beans soft now? If so, great! If not, keep simmering. 

When they beans are just right, smash some of them against the side of the pot to make the broth creamier. Discard the ham hocks and bay leaves. Spoon over cooked rice, and top with green onions. 
 
 
Yesterday, my friend Corinne and I went to the Capital of Texas QuiltFest! It was so incredible! I learned so much about quilting and gained a deeper appreciation of the techniques. Most of the quilts were in a more traditional style and didn't really appeal to my taste as far as patterns or colors go. But, the piecing of fabrics and stitching skills were jaw-dropping! So, as you look through all these pictures, try to imagine a little old lady actually sewing all these tiny fabric shapes together (sometimes by hand!), and pay attention to the beautiful stitching and how it enhances the pattern.
I love the red thread and how it contrasts with the blue and roses fabric. Plus, you gotta love the lone star of Texas!
If I remember correctly, the wreath is an applique done by hand! I also love all the rippling contours of the stitching.
I learned that as far as traditional quilts go, I'm partial to the red and white styles. It feels very Norwegian to me.
This quilt features all 50 state birds and they are all hand embroidered!
Ugh, it's so simple and classic I looove it!
I love how pure white fabric makes the quilting stitches really pop. In this quilt, I like how the more busy wavy quilting flattens out the negative space while simpler stitches allow the squares and butterflies to be puffier. This quilt seemed the snuggliest to me in the entire QuiltFest. 
I'm pretty sure this is called a scrap quilt because it is made from bajillions of fabric scraps. So many tiny pieces all cut and pieced perfectly! If you look closely you can see that even the white space is actually tons of different paler fabrics!
The colors of this quilt evoke the French countryside just perfectly. It's so La Madeleine. 
This is a wedding ring quilt with fabric from the 1930's. Or at least the patterns are, they may be modern reprintings of 1930's patterns. It's so lovely. 
I love the kaleidoscopic effect of the diagonal stitching on the corners of the quilt. So smart. 
I love the subdued hues of this quilt. It helps tone down the busyness of these fabrics.

There were a few avant garde quilts:
Can you even imagine figuring out how to piece these fabrics together. It's so perfect.
How do you even do this? It's amazing.
This is Harry Potter's bookshelf. Pretty cute idea, huh? You can see it won lots of rewards.

The shopping was also amazing. Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes abounded! Isn't that cute quilting terminology?
Lots of Christmas Inspiration.
And of course, tons of Texas pride. I had no idea that there was such a community of quilters in Texas! 
We also got to see magical quilting machines. The one below is called a "long arm machine" and as you can see it can do some amazing stitch work automatically.
I'm so glad Corinne and I went. I left feeling really inspired and ready to finish my patchwork shower curtain I've been working on for months. I can't wait to show it to you guys!
 
 
1. Lots of sewing and documentaries on Netflix.
2. Pastor Pork Torta from Chacho's in San Antonio.
3. ibid.
4. Nicolette's sweet cat.
5. Pizza at Main Street in San Antonio.
6. Nicolette's adoring fans.
7. A cute frog in Round Top.
8. Matt and Gia visit.
9. My highest score of Dominion yet!
10. Bolivar Peninsula.
11. Sand Castle right before a big storm.
 
 
For the past few months I've been working on a secret needlepoint project! I couldn't wait to finish it to show you the process pictures, so I had to show them now! I won't tell you who it's for or what it will be when it is complete. I even had to distort one of the pictures to preserve sensitive information!  As soon as I finish it I'll show you the completed product!
 
 
I have this navy cover up that is perfect for the beach, but it's a bit plain. I was inspired by the anchor on the tag and thought an anchor applique would make the hoodie more unique and visually interesting. 

For Christmas I got an awesome book called Embroider Everything that comes with a lot of iron-on patterns. It has an iron-on anchor, so it was perfect! I ironed the drawing onto a white piece of felt, then decided what color I wanted the anchor to be. I decided to go with classic yellow.
Then I stitched up the anchor and cut off the excess felt.
Then I sewed it straight onto my hoodie! Easy peasy!
I was nervous about how the badge would hold up after being washed, but it still looks great! Seriously guys, everyone should get into needlepoint. I did this whole project in about two hours and all the materials are really cheap. Think about it!

FYI: I was not paid to advertise for Embroider Everything, but it is a really great book! If you are interested in needle point you should totally get it.
 

Twins!

07/07/2012

0 Comments

 
My sister had twins! Yes, over a month ago, but I've never mentioned little Caleb and Connor on my blog before, cause I'm not a very good blogger. But we can still celebrate, yaaay!

My sister asked me to decorate a baby shower for her and I made this banner. It was such a blast to make. Again, I used directions from the Home Ec course. It's really worth the cost!
I know, I know. There should be an apostrophe after the t. In fact it should say "They're twins." But that would be too long. I couldn't figure out if the apostrophe should have its own circle or if it should just be next to the t. The crafter in me decided to leave it out, but my grammar elitist side cringes every time I look at this picture!

Discuss: What is more important in a creative endeavor, beauty or  correct grammar? : ) 
 
 
Check out this cute little lady I made for my niece on her 2nd birthday! I used the instructions from that Home Ec course I'm always raving about. Right now my sewing machine is all packed up in a moving truck somewhere on his way to our new apartment. I can't wait to get him out and start sewing again! (It's a he because it's a Brother machine.) In the meantime, I'll just post some old projects I've made but been too busy to write about.

This is a great project for new seamsters because you basically make your own pattern and use whatever colors/patterns you want. I had these fabrics on hand that I thought complemented each other well.
Then I drew this simple pattern.
I cut out all the fabric pieces, embroidered some eyes and a little nose on the face, and then made some changes to the pattern. I realized the round tummy would fray if I just sewed it on as I originally planned, and I didn't know how to fix that with my mediocre skills, so I just made it a rectangle instead.
Then I sewed all the pieces on the front and back.
I also made a yarn pom pom and sewed it on the back by hand. See that bunching when I sewed the tummy onto the orange fabric? I don't know what happened there! Anyone have tips for how to avoid that? 

Then I sewed the front and back together, so the bunny is inside out.
I left a space so I can turn the bunny outside out, and then stuff it. You have to sew that opening by hand, it was totally the hardest part for me.
For some reason the ears curve in towards each other after I turned the bunny outside out. Like I said, I have mediocre skills. Does anyone know how I could have kept the ears from going all wonky jog? 

In the end, she's still real cute right? I love her, and I hope Delaney will too!
 
 
Yesterday Jared and I went to some of our favorite places in Austin when we were in college: Bouldin Creek Cafe for coffee and Polvos for fajitas. It was a great day. Jared worked on his story while I finished some needlework and wrote blog posts at Bouldin Creek, pretty perfect!

Happy 4th of July! What are your plans?
 
 
We made it to Austin! When we crossed the Texas border there was this amazing rest stop with tons of photo ops. I was so happy I cried, I'm not even exaggerating! There were so many people there with big, friendly smiles taking pictures of each other in front of different signs. 

We're in Austin, but we're not quite settled yet. So, forgive me for not blogging a lot; it's been quite busy with all the little moving details. I plan to go to one of my favorite coffee places today and blog like crazy. That will definitely be a nice break!
 
 
I loved being at the University of Chicago Divinity School. If I could do it all over again, I would worry less about what my classmates and professors thought about me, and more about the work I was doing. That might sound cliche, but it really is one of my greatest regrets. I still cringe when I think about some of the mean things I said just to make people feel like I was smarter than they were or read more than they did. I missed many opportunities to forge life-long friendships, and to be Christ's hands and feet to those around me. Thankfully, God is merciful and I can look back on this time as a sober reminder to try and not make the same mistakes again.
This is Swift Hall, the building in which the Divinity School is located. It's gorgeous, right? I got to go to classes here every day! 
This is Bond Chapel, right behind Swift Hall. Have you ever seen so much Ivy?
This is the inside of Bond Chapel. It's such a beautiful and peaceful place. 
This is Harper Library, my favorite place to study. Unfortunately all the books I needed were in a different library, and this one had very few electrical outlets, so I couldn't spend all my time here.
This is Rockefeller Chapel. John D. Rockefeller gave UChicago like a bajillion dollars. Did you know, his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr.,  bought lots of land just to give it all to the National Park systems! I've been watching an insane amount of Ken Burn's documentaries, lately. I highly recommend them.
This is the Quad on a snowy day. They didn't do a really good job of keeping the sidewalks  clear. I actually slipped and broke my elbow one winter! 
This is Swift Hall again, now dusted with fresh snow. So picturesque! 
This, my friends, is a library card from a book I checked out. Can you imagine my excitement when I realized David Aune, himself, checked out the very same book! *swoon* and way back in 1968! I'm sure the other guys are great too, but Dr. Aune's work happened to be a huge help to me on that research paper. I seriously considered keeping that library card, but decided not to, so the next checker-outer could be as excited as I was.

Don't you kind of wish they still used this card system? Now, no one will know whether the brightest minds of our generation checked out a book! 

Once again, thank you for allowing me a venue to process our upcoming move from Chicago. I can't imagine it's very entertaining, but it has been really helpful for me. So, thanks!