Holiday Decorating with Quilt Panels

Until recently, I didn’t even know what quilt panels were. But now that I know, it seems far too good a secret to keep to myself. I was browsing the interwebs the other day for Halloween-themed fabric (yes, I spend time looking up fabric online – Pinterest is way cheaper than therapy) and stumbled across a skeleton quilt panel –

Skeleton

I always thought that when one wanted to make a quilt, hours cutting shapes out of fabric were required. It then had to be pieced, sewn together, sewn to a backing, quilted… quite the process. But apparently there is this cheater method out there where you buy a panel with a cool design on it, sew that to a backing and then quilt it. In my mind, that’s just a regular old blanket, but I digress. Probably if they were called blanket panels that would confuse everyone.

At any rate, I have no desire to make a skeleton quilt, at least at the current time. But I did think to myself – how cool would it be to make a wall hanging of that? All I would need to do would be to hem the edges to finish them nicely, and then maybe mount it in on a dowel, or maybe even just stretch it over a frame or canvas. And voila, interesting fabric wall art for a reasonable price!

So of course then I ended up down the rabbit hole of searching for interesting quilt panels, and came across quite a few holiday ones. The smaller ones would look really neat framed up individually and hung as a gallery wall, I think. Here are my personal favorites for Halloween and Christmas -

Black Cat

Green Grinch

Grinch

As the photos show, all of the panels are available at Fat Quarter Shop, which is my new favorite place for fabric on the web. The selection is amazing, and the prices are reasonable. And despite the name, they sell much more than fat quarters – panels, fabric by yard and all kinds of accessories and notions. The panels above are currently priced at $7.75 each – which is not a bad price at all for a unique piece of fun wall art.

So, what do you think? Would you make some DIY wall art with quilt panels? There are all kinds to be found – it would be really cute to do for a nursery or kid’s bedroom as well.

Mississippi Milk Glass

Family vacation this year was a bit of a mixed bag. We were supposed to camp for a week at Mississippi Palisades State Park, but the weather was downright horrid – either dangerously hot and humid, or severe thunderstorms. So we ended up with plan B and stayed in a hotel for two nights, camped for just one and came home a day early. Fortunately we were able to salvage our trip with plenty of time in the hotel pool, as well as fun visits to the De Immigrant Windmill (where they grind their own flour – which tastes amazing), the Sawmill Museum, Heritage Canyon, and Wide River Winery (the Felony Red cabernet sauvignon is especially good and didn’t give us the tannin headaches we usually get with red wine).

And of course, we visited a few antique stores. The prices were downright cheap, and I was excited to find a few bargains in milk glass at Great River Road Antiques. I’ve long wanted a set of milk glass beer steins, so I was super excited to find four of them for just $2.50 each -

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I also found something I’ve never seen before in milk glass; four jars with lids. I confess for a split second I thought of spray painting the lids red, but then I came to my senses – the black and white graphic is just too punchy and fun to paint over -

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I was curious about what the jars once held, so I googled the name on the lid and discovered they’re marmalade jars from the UK -

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And shockingly – they’re going for $20.00 each on eBay! So I got $80.00 worth of jars for just $8.00. I knew they were a real find when I spotted them. The steins are starting for about $5.00 apiece on eBay, so those were a pretty good bargain as well. So all in, I got $100.00 worth of milk glass for just $20.00. And the best part – we’ll use them every day.

Yes, An Obsession

I am an admitted Downton Abbey junkie, anxiously counting the days until Season 5. And honestly, if there is a perfect era to fantasize about living in, it’s the Edwardian. Indoor plumbing and electricity, but still simplicity and elegance. And yes – Downton isn’t strictly Edwardian, I know – but it started there!

At any rate, to tide me (us) over until Season 5, I’ve been Pinteresting just a bit…

Downton

The Hoax of the Frozen Tomatoes

Last year I had a conundrum when it came to putting up tomatoes. I grew my own, but as luck would have it, they didn’t all ripen at the same time. I just couldn’t get enough to put up a full canner load at the same time. So I thought about solutions and scoured the internet and came up with freezing tomatoes. Everything on the internet said you could just pop them into freezer bags whole – no prep at all. No blanching and skinning, no coring. No dicing or quartering. Literally pop them in the bag, and presto chango – preserved tomatoes, all ready to go. And even my sister had done it, and sworn by it.

But friends – do not be seduced. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. And so it is with freezing completely unprepared tomatoes. Naturally. These things were far more trouble than they were worth. Defrosting was a nightmare – it took forever. And when I didn’t have forever to wait, using the defrost function on the microwave (yes, I cheated a few times dang it) turned them into cardboard-textured mush. Moreover, I ended up pitching half of them into the trash, because have you ever tried to peel a skin and pull a core out a half-defrosted, cardboard-textured tomato? If you haven’t, take my word for it that it is not something you want to spend your time on. Completely the definition of “fruitless (such as it were, that is) endeavor”.

Sigh. This year I planted a variety that is supposed to ripen at once, more or less. Unless nature is wanting to play a cruel joke on me two years running, which frankly, I won’t quite rule out!

And So The Garden Grows

I woke up this morning when the alarm went off (ugh, Monday) and realized that the summer has been rapidly slipping away. How is it nearly August already? This summer has been a study in what not to do – do not take business trips, do not work 50 hours per week, do not spend time indoors too tired to do much else…

I’m hoping I can get back on track as we move into the tail end of summer and the beginning of fall. I’m seven months into my job promotion, so I’m starting to feel a bit less like every day is a panic attack (although only slightly). And we’re house hunting – oh, did I mention that? So while weekends have been consumed with seeing real estate in every free moment, there will be an end in sight once we find the right place.

All that aside, we made it over to the garden plot today to assess the state of affairs, and have mixed results. The row of yellow onions is looking amazing. We had half a row of chard come up and it’s huge – definitely ready to harvest some of that this week. I’m think pork and chard hand pies are in order! The beans are mixed – the edamame and Jacob’s Cattle have been ravaged by the rabbits, but are still producing beans. The rattlesnake pole beans are hardly doing anything at all – they’re barely a foot off the ground. By comparison, the ones my sister is growing at her house are topping six feet! Grrrr, that’s gardening for you. But we do have a nice showing of green tomatoes, and the plants have finally grown to a good size. We’ve got a few jalepenos and one solitary sweet pepper has survived. And happy surprises – we have a little watermelon, with more flowers on the plant, and cucumbers just starting to form. And shockingly – the pumpkin plant that I thought was dead and was tempted to rip out has rebounded and is taking over. All of the potatoes rotted in the ground and didn’t do a single thing.

So, a mixed bag. Much like my summer I suppose. You get out what you put in, so I’m glad it’s not quite over yet. Still time to make the most of things.

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Apparently, 8 years ago today I started this blog. Has it really been 8 years? I actually remember that night vividly, and it’s interesting that it’s the summer solstice. Today was the longest day of the year, but it hardly feels like it at all. It’s been a rainy summer, so getting outside has been tricky. At any rate, we’ve got a few months left – maybe we’ll get some nice weather yet.

Camping Gear From the Dollar Tree

Yep, you read that correctly. I am a fan of the Dollar Tree. There’s a lot of junk in there, no doubt, but there’s a lot of treasure. You just have to know what to look for. Did you know you can find a bunch of stuff that’s great for you camping kit there? Well, it’s true. Some of the gear I’ve picked up in the last year has included -

- Metal buffet serving spoons. They’re the perfect size for camp cooking.

- Metal buffet spatulas. Ditto on being the perfect size.

- Mini cutting board.

- Paring knife with plastic sheath.

- Mini colander.

- Metal can opener.

- Purell hand sanitizer wipes.

- Pocket packages of tissue.

- Plastic toiletries containers.

- Jif To Go peanut butter

- Reynolds Wrappers aluminum foil sheets

- Cream of Wheat instant farina 3-pack

- Advil or Aleve travel packs

Mostly kitchen and toiletry items, but no camping trip is complete without them, so why spend a fortune?