Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cute Overload

This is my new favorite photo of my little knuckleheads...

Adorable, isn't it?  I think they take after their mommy.  ;-)

Monday, June 27, 2011


I am still knee deep in free motion quilting "the biggest quilt I've ever made," but I can see the finish line.  The quilting is about 80% finished...roughly one nap time's worth left to go if my son cooperates.  The next step will be figuring out what to do for the binding.  Since both the border and backing are solid, I'm considering making a scrappy binding using the leftover scraps from the blocks in the top.  I think a scrappy binding would stand out more and make the edge of the quilt more interesting.  Hopefully the next update will be to show off the finished quilt!   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ricki Recommends...

Instead of featuring posts that caught my eye from blogland this week, I decided to share of few of my current favorite things a la Oprah...

**Ricki's Favorite Thiiiiiiiiiings!**

For my face...

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Creme - this gel facial moisturizer is so light, cool, and refreshing...perfect for summer!

For my nails...

The Texas Collection's Houston We Have a Purple by OPI - I will admit that I am not the girliest girl you'll ever meet, but I do love a great pedicure and this glossy pink/purple jelly polish is my new favorite for my toes.  A big thanks to my friend Melissa for sending it my way!

For my lips...

Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker - Dr. Pepper is the state beverage of Texas (if not, then it should be!)  I carry this with me everywhere I go.  Juvenile?  Perhaps, but I love it!  If Bonne Bell ever starts making Sweet Tea Lip Smacker, this southern girl will be in heaven!

For my hips...

Yogurtland - My entire family is obsessed with Yogurtland's self-serve fro-yo and it's tempting toppings.  I'm a fan of the Toasted Coconut and Kona Coffee flavors.  My husband goes back and forth between the Cinnamon Graham Cracker and Red Velvet Cupcake Batter flavors.  My daughter Bailey is dedicated to a combination of Strawberry, Chocolate, and Nilla Wafer with a cherry on top.  We need a 12 step program for our fro-yo addiction.

*I have not been paid to review these products...they are simply of few of my favorite things that I wanted to share with you.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Machine Stitched Binding

To be completely honest, sewing the binding onto a quilt by hand is not my favorite part of the quilting process.  I love the look of hand sewn binding on a quilt, but it has become a chore I dread.  It can be tedious and time consuming, and let's face it, with a 3 year old and a 11 month old running around I don't have a lot of down time to sew anything by hand these days.  Once I get started it's not so bad, but I will put off a project for months to avoid doing it.  (cough, cough...for instance Jake's baby quilt or perhaps the Noah's Ark quilt...cough, cough)

But then I discovered this tutorial on one of my favorite quilting blogs, Red Pepper Quilts.  Step by step instructions, complete with pictures, showing me how to stitch the binding with my machine.  Where have you been all my life??

First I tried it on a tiny baby quilt.  It started out a little rocky, but with a little bit of practice, I finally got the hang of it.

So then I gave it a whirl on the Noah's Ark quilt...


Never again will I let a project go unfinished simply because of the dreaded binding!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taste the Rainbow

My kiddos' birthdays are only 4 days apart, so we'll be celebrating two birthdays in one for as long as I can get away with it.  This year we are celebrating the double birthday with a Yo Gabba Gabba party.  And what could be more fitting for a Yo Gabba Gabba party than a crazy rainbow cake?

Rainbow cakes are all the rage in blogland these days, but I originally saw this idea on Playing House.  This week I made a practice batch of cupcakes just to try out the technique and see exactly how colorful they would be.  I started by mixing up a Betty Crocker white cake mix, then dividing the batter into six small bowls.  Then I used Wilton gel food coloring to tint each bowl a different color of the, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  I layered the batter into a cupcake pan filled with paper liners and baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

I can honestly say that the process of layering the batter into the cupcake pan took forever and it was difficult to get the same amount of batter in each one, so I'll be sticking to cake form for the birthday party (and possible use 2 boxes of cake mix for a taller cake). And I will definitely be making my own frosting for the party cake, most likely a vanilla buttercream.  Yum!

As Muno would say...Razzle Dazzle!

How awesome is that?  This might be the most colorful birthday party ever!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Spy with My Little Eye...a Fabric Swap!

A few weeks ago, I joined my first I Spy fabric swap, hosted by Carla at Lollyquiltz.  The idea behind the swap was to mail in 20 five inch squares (also known as charm squares) of a unique novelty fabric, and I would receive charm squares in 20 different prints in return.  The only restrictions were that the fabric needed to be good quality cotton and licensed fabrics were not allowed.

This is the fabric I chose to send as my contribution to the swap...

Cowboys of course!  Yeehaw!  I dutifully cut out my 20 charm squares and dropped them in the mail ASAP.  I was so eager to see what I would receive in return...I was not disappointed!  Less than one week later, I received these in my mailbox...

So many cute fabrics!  I think the gorillas may be my favorite, although the dogs in colorful sweaters make me smile too!  With 42 participants and 2460 squares of fabric (some sent in multiple sets), I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been to organize this swap.  I really appreciate being able to participate. When I add these 20 squares to the novelty fabric that I already have, it makes quite a nice little stash for a future I Spy quilt.  I can't wait for the next swap!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Daddy...

 Daddy & Bailey

 Daddy & Jake

Thank you for being such an awesome Daddy!  We love you!   
                                                              ----- Love, Mommy, Bailey, and Jake 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Craft Fail

Homemade maracas seemed like a good idea.  Fill a leftover plastic Easter egg with dried lentils, hot glue it closed, and voila...instant noise-maker!  Instead, I ended up with my fingers hot glued to a pink plastic egg.  Craft fail!  Although I'm pretty sure I made quite a bit of noise when it happened, so that part of the plan was a success. 

Since I can't leave you hanging, I'll leave you with this...

It's hard to believe this little guy is almost one year old.  Where does the time go?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


My family gets excited when they see that our stash of bananas have turned brown and mushy, because they know they'll soon be snacking on freshly baked banana bread.  I came across this recipe many years ago on one of my favorite sites, Allrecipes, and over the years have tweaked it a dozen different ways.  This recipe is fool-proof and so versatile.  In the past I've added in ground flax seed (which makes for a super moist loaf of bread!), chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and even cinnamon chips.  Most recently I've experimented with using McCormick French Vanilla extract (delicious!) and substituting whole wheat flour for half of the all purpose flour.  I've made it in a single large loaf, two smaller loaves, and in every variety of Bundt pan I own.  Any way you slice it, this is a great recipe!

Banana Bread
adapted from Allrecipes


  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (half white, half wheat flour is a good alternative)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sour milk (1/2 tsp lemon juice + milk to equal 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins: 1/4 ground flax seed, 1/2 cup chopped nuts, 1/2 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan or Bundt pan.
  2. Combine sugar, butter, bananas, eggs, flour, baking soda, milk, salt, vanilla extract, and any optional add-ins in a large mixing bowl; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Handprint Keepsake

In May 2009 I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom.  My daughter Bailey was 10 months old and I wanted to make a special gift for her Nana, Grandma, and Great-Grandma GeeGee (and myself).  I needed a handprint for her baby book, so I decided to make a few extra copies to frame as gifts.  Trying to get a 10 month old baby's hand inked up and put onto cardstock without smearing the handprint is nearly impossible, but somehow I managed to get four prints that looked pretty great.  When framed, they made great little Mother's Day gifts.

This week, I learned that the only thing harder than getting a handprint from my baby girl is getting one from a squirmy 10 month old baby boy!  It was like trying to wrestle an octopus!  Luckily, I only needed one print for this project and that's exactly what I ended up with.

This time around, I paired each handprint with a photo and placed them in white mattes...

I framed them using black frames from Wal-Mart and now I have a keepsake that I will always treasure...

I love them!  Now I just need to find the perfect place to hang them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Little Engine that Could

I've used an entire spool of thread and broken one needle, but I'm still chugging along...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ricki Recommends...

According to the calendar it is still spring, but here in Texas it definitely feels like summer!  Perfect weather for kicking back with a tall glass of sweet iced tea and browsing a few of my favorite blogs.  Enjoy!

This tutorial makes creating a scrappy bias binding look so easy.  I'm seriously considering using this type of binding on my current work in progress.

Picnic Food Book many cute ideas for painting.  My daughter will love this!

This Rocky Road Graham Cracker Candy Bark should be illegal...but I'm glad it's not.  

Blueberries in a cookie?  Yes please!  I'll take a dozen.

I am always looking for new ways to use polenta, so these BBQ Chicken Polenta Pizza Cakes caught my eye.  They are now on my menu for next week.

No post would be complete without a photo...

Jake's favorite activity this week is knocking over his sister's coloring desk and pushing it all around the house, taking a break every now and then to just sit on it for a bit.  The expression says it all..."Who me?"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's a Good Day to Try Something New...

This week I'm going head to head with the biggest quilt I've ever made (66 x 84 inches).  This quilt will be a gift for a close friend, so for now it's top secret, but I will definitely be showing it off after it has been gifted. 

The piecing of the quilt top was a snap, but now the time has come to quilt it.  I typically use my walking foot to quilt straight lines, but this quilt needs a little something extra, so I'm going to try my hand at free motion quilting.  I've practiced on little quilt sandwiches (see photo above) and I'm pretty confident that I've got the hang of it, but the thought of trying to maneuver such a bulky quilt through my tiny machine is intimidating to say the least.  It'll be a challenge, but I can do it....I think.  I'll have my seam ripper handy just in case!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dinner is Served

Photo and recipe courtesy of Picky Palate.

If you ask my husband to name his favorite meal, I guarantee he will say "Chicken Tacos."  Just about every week, I cook up a crockpot of taco-seasoned chicken (chicken breasts + one packet of taco seasoning + chicken broth to cover, cooked on low for 6 hours).  We have chicken tacos the first night, then I usually use the leftovers throughout the week in burritos for lunch or in enchiladas for another dinner meal.  This week I wanted to try something new, so I gave Picky Palate's Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake a whirl. 

The was delicious!  And so easy too!  Since I was using leftover shredded taco chicken, it was as simple as cooking up a pot of instant rice and opening up a few cans.  Layer everything in a dish, top with cheese, and voila...dinner is served!  I love meals like this!

2 cups white long grain rice
2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
One 15-ounce can mild green enchilada sauce
One 4-ounce can sliced black olives
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (*my advice: drain the tomatoes or it will be too soupy)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Roasted Ground Cumin
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Place chicken, enchilada sauce, olives, tomatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper and cumin into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Pour cooked rice into prepared baking dish and layer beans on top of rice. Pour chicken mixture over rice and top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and rice is hot.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Monday, June 6, 2011

My First Sale!

One month ago, I sold my first quilt!  Yippee!  I had just enough scraps left over from making my son's quilt to make a small baby quilt for my Etsy shop.  I called it "Puppy Dog Tails."   

The quilt top was machine pieced in a simple patchwork design. It was backed with the last big piece of colorful puppy print.  The paw print binding was machine stitched for extra durability.

The quilting was very simple...straight lines machine quilted with light blue thread to accent the patchwork design.

It was tiny, only 23" x 23," but still the perfect size to place on the floor for newborn tummy time or to be treasured as a beloved blankie by an infant or toddler.  It will make the perfect snuggle accessory for a very lucky little baby!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ricki Recommends...

I have a confession to make...I am addicted to Google Reader.  I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread!  No more disorganized bookmarks for this girl!  With the help of Google Reader, I follow over 80 blogs (crazy, I know!), mostly about cooking, quilting, and crafting.  Today I would like to share a few fabulous things I've come across in Google Reader-land this week.  Hopefully this will become a regular feature.

My hair has gotten really long over the past few months, and lately I've been using a curling iron to add waves to it (it's normally straight as a board).  I can't wait to try this tutorial for vintage curls without using heat.  So much healthier for the hair!

I love the adorable lunches that Jill makes for her kiddos over at Meet the Dubiens.  She is so creative!  This week's trees made of apples made me smile.  I need to get my hands on some food-safe markers so I can put smiley faces on my kids' Nilla wafers.  I won't lie, I'll probably use them to draw on my food too.

One more project to add to my list...stuffed fabric turtles.  Adorable!

I've never made my own BBQ sauce before, but I'll definitely be giving it a try after seeing this recipe for Grilled Blueberry BBQ Salmon.  Yum!

Since I can't stand the thought of having a post without a photo...

For all of you Texas Rangers fans out there...claw and antlers baby!  :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Slice of Chocolate Heaven

I take issue with the name of this cake...there is no such thing as too much chocolate!  Like the name implies, this cake is indeed super chocolatey, super moist, and super delicious!  This is my go-to recipe for chocolate cake.  You can stack it in layers and cover it with chocolate buttercream frosting, or bake it in a Bundt pan and give it a simple drizzle of chocolate powdered sugar glaze like I did this past weekend.  Honestly, it's delicious enough on its own with no topping at all.  I guarantee you will get a ton of compliments from anyone who takes a bite.  I have heard that when you slice into a cake, all of the calories fall out, so bake this cake the first chance you get and enjoy every bite of chocolatey goodness!

"Too Much Chocolate" Cake
recipe courtesy of


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of this in my mailbox...

I ordered two stacks of 10 inch squares of this Mountainside Batik Sampler from Connecting Threads last week.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to make with it, but without a doubt it will be beautiful!

Waiting for a package to come in the mail is like waiting for Christmas seems like it will never get here, and it's so exciting when it finally does!