Monday, February 28, 2011

Applique' Tutorial

     Today was "re-entry" day for me - that is what John and I call it when life goes back to normal after being so out of step for a while.  It mostly went really well until neither girl really napped, so we had a dinner melt down that led to an early bedtime.  I have heard it said that these are the Longest Days and the Shortest Years, and that really resonates.  My days are filled with caring for my little friends which takes a lot of energy, but as I even look back at the last two months, I cannot believe that March is here tomorrow.
     I will share one little funny before the tutorial.  This morning, I watched Lily run towards the living room with a wash cloth in hand saying, "I'm going to clean the kitty."  Makes me giggle all over again as I write that.  There was a lot of scampering and no kitty that had a willing spirit to be cleaned by Lily.  Moving on.

     You may or may not have ever heard of or done applique'.  It is one of my favorite things, and I use it all the time.  I did a tutorial on this for the moms' Bible study that I attend, and I thought I would share it again on the blog.  I made a baby gift for a friend this weekend who is expecting baby Nathan, and here's what she got.


I got the onesie for $3.99, and the fabric was about $1 (I got 1/8 of a yard, which is the smallest amount you can get at Hobby Lobby.) So, it is a fun, personalized gift for around $5 and 30-45 minutes.  You can use this on clothes, bags, towels - anything fabric.  And since there are so many fun fabrics out there, your possibilities are endless!  Here's the scoop.

Something I figured out sort of recently is that I like the way it looks when I use a font for lettering instead of just drawing something.  So I usually type out whatever name or initial that I am using and change the font till I get something that I like.  In this case, I used Copperplate Gothic, at size 350.  To save on printer ink, I make it an outline.


After I print it out, I cut it out.  (pay no attention to those other letters for a different project . . .)


I set the letter on the fabric to be able to cut the fabric the size that it will need to be.


Then I cut the Steam a Seam to about the size of the fabric.  I love this stuff.


I try to cut the Steam a Seam to be a little smaller than the fabric so none of it sticks to the iron.


Iron the fabric onto the Steam a Seam.  (or Wonder Under, or any other fusible webbing that will accomplish the same thing.)


Then I trace the letter (or shape) backwards onto the backside of the fabric that has the paper on it.


Cut out your letter, and peel the paper away from the fabric.


Position the letter where you want it to be and iron it on.  30 seconds or so on high heat usually does the trick.  Most fusible webbings come with clear instructions on how to best use them.


You could be done there, and it would stay on for quite a while, even through washing and drying.  I like to go a step further, because I like the way it looks, and it makes it more durable.  I sew around the edge about 1/8 of an inch inside the fabric.  This doesn't take long with something simple like a letter and gives it a little extra something.


And that gives you a custom gift or something fun for you or your little one.  Applique' has so many applications and ways to use it creatively.  You can layer with shapes, textures, pattern and color.  Now you are ready to cut and iron on to your heart's content.  I have used this extensively to personalize stuff for my girls, and you can even see another example of it in the girls' shirts here on my blog.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas

We just spent the past week in Texas, mostly with Chick-fil-A.  It was fantastic.  I haven't spent much time on this blog bragging on how wonderful our company is, but it truly is amazing.  We were hosted in San Antonio on the Riverwalk and got to enjoy 3 days of delicious food, great speakers and wonderful community with people who understand what we do on every level.  Such a privilege and a blessing.

On the Riverwalk -


Here we are, cruising Expo (a place where all the Chick-fil-A departments and vendors come to show us all the new goodies and innovations they are working on) with some good friends and posing with football Truett.  Good times with the Flowers - thanks, guys!

I could go on and on and on about how wonderful Chick-fil-A is, but there is really not the space or time.  We are so thankful to the Lord to be a part of it and very rejuvenated and challenged by our time at Seminar.

After Seminar, John and I went to Austin, TX to visit another Chick-fil-A, but mostly to check out the city that we had heard so much about.  It was so fun!  We decided that we could definitely eat our way through Austin.  It is covered in hip-happening restaurants.  And, the Food Truck craze is in full-effect there.  Somehow, that craze has not made it to Little Rock.  (Okay, I know why.  We live in a relatively little city that is not on the edge of cool.  So sad, though I do love where we live.)  We splurged on an amazing hotel in downtown Austin - The Driskill, and it was every bit as vintagely perfect as we could have imagined.

Here's our room.


This hotel majored on doing the details perfectly.  Whoever shopped for their furnishings had impeccable taste.  I especially fell in love with a leather upholstered dresser in our room, which I did not get a good picture of.  We loved taking in all of the little touches that made it so much fun and so elegant.

Driskall 1
Driskall 2

We ate at The Roaring Fork, also in downtown Austin.  (John has already informed me that he will never be able to put the correct adjective in front of "Fork" when we speak of this experience in the future.  He has already called it the "Soaring Fork.")  It was a completely delicious meal with unique flavors that we shall not soon forget.  John ordered a side of Green Chile Mac n' Cheese that really wowed - actually everything really wowed.  We loved it.


 It was a great week to reconnect and be adults together for the week.  We missed our sweet girls, who were attentively cared for by John's parents at our house.  They had a great time together, and the girls did great, though Bella did sort of boycott bottles.  She ate a lot of Rice Cereal.  Here's a snapshot of their time.  So far, detox from grandparents has not been too bad.

LB at home

This week I will be back to projects and cooking and kids, as usual.  And that is a real privilege too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Starring Lily and Bella, photos by Main Street Studios

Right now, John and I are at the Chick-fil-A Operator's Seminar in San Antonio.  We are being spoiled rotten and really enjoying our time here.  I will post more about it later.  However, I have been itching to show off these pictures.

As you may know, I have a fantastic brother-in-law who happens to be a fantastic photographer.  If you have a chance, you could see his webpage here or go to his Facebook page here, where he regularly posts updates and sometimes contests to win free stuff from him.  He was gracious enough to take Bella's three month pictures and Lily's two year pictures, and we even snuck in some family shots.

I am posting my favorites here, but beware, there are a lot of favorites, so you may be scrolling a while.  This is the first one he took, because we were trying to get a squirmy, uncooperative Lily to sit with tiny Bella and have them both look pleasant-ish.  Great job, Luke!


We then moved on to the tires, where we got some cute ones of Bella by herself.

Bella Tire

I love how colorful this set was, especially when combined with their tutus.  This is my favorite of Bella from the day.


I love these, because they capture some of the sweet and sour moments of Lily during the shoot.

Girls Tires



Bella got a wardrobe change with these adorable results.

Bella Western

Then it was Lily's turn, and we walked around the block with her to have some fun.



I felt like Luke really captured her spirit in all of its many facets.

Lily 2 yr

Lily Tutu

Then we got to take some family shots, with an Aunt and a Nana providing entertainment to get the girls to smile.  Well, at least one of them was smiling.  I love the way these came out.



And I will leave you with Jungle Bella.


Thanks, Uncle Luke!  You're the best.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Tonight we branched out and went to the Lanterns Festival at Wildwood Park.  Truth be told, I got a Groupon for it and thought it could be fun.  We met up with some of our best friends and had a fantastic time traveling the "countries" and taking in the lights.


Kiddos had a great time with the neon necklaces.  It really is the simple things.


Got to guide two year olds through Sand Art.  Jake actually said, "It's hard."

Lanterns Sand

If you are in Little Rock, I highly recommend the event - and the weather for February just can't be beat.
One of my highlight moments was when the guys decided we should take the long, dark way through the woods to get around the lake.  Honestly, I preferred the woods to the crowds and once we got back in view of the lights, we realized all was well.


It was one of those delightful nights where we enjoyed time with great friends whose presence in our lives is a blessing, and we enjoyed time with our sweet girls, who were really amazingly sweet all evening long.  We got home and realized all over again how rich we are.  Thank you, Lord.  We want to cherish these times and drink them in.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Chicken: Yes, Please.

On Valentine's Day, it was my day to cook for Food Co-Op, and I opted for one of my stand by favorites - Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Chicken.  It is a knock-off of a dish from the restaurant Noodles in Fayetteville.  A great friend of ours from college basically made it up and nailed it!  It is also very pretty - prettier than this picture even shows, since I forgot the Grape Tomatoes to garnish it with this time.


Here is what you need.
1 bag of 12 oz Bow-Tie Pasta
1/2 bottle of Garlic/Herb Marinade
1/4 cup of Butter
1/2 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 pint of Half and Half
10 oz bag of frozen Spinach, thawed
1 can of Artichoke hearts, cut into pieces
2 cups of cooked, cubed Chicken
Parmesan Cheese
Grape Tomatoes


Like I said, I completely forgot the tomatoes on this round, and they add that gorgeous red.  Another note, this is delicious, but not exactly "heart healthy."  All in moderation, as you know, or at least as I try to tell myself, because I like to keep eating this particular pasta.
The instructions are pretty simple.  Cook and drain your noodles.


Put them back into the pot, and then basically, you can dump everything else in there until the whole thing is heated through.  Pretty simple.  I start with the marinade and follow it with the butter so it can melt pretty smoothly with the noodles.  Then I add in the creams - I like any sentence that says "I add in the creams", plural.


Finish off by adding the spinach, artichoke and chicken.  I heated it over medium to medium high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then garnish with the parmesan cheese, which I do by the heaping pile, and the tomatoes.  Ready to go!  I served it with a Bacon Caesar Salad and Parmesan Bread with a White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake for dessert.

While I was cooking, I looked over to find my girls quite occupied with one another.  Never a dull moment.

Girls by Swing

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Sometimes, (okay, many times), owning a restaurant has its perks and you get to play in the middle of the week.  There are many times that owning a restaurant has downsides, like when your husband goes in on snow days.  However, today was one of the times we got to get out of Dodge on a Wednesday and play at an amazing lake house.  Some good friends of ours were kind enough to let us join them in enjoying a night and day away.  John and I even got to have a mini-4-wheeling adventure while our little friends napped at the house.


We drove up to a scenic overlook, scenically overlooking Lake Ouachita.


I must admit, we felt a little (or a lot) redneck while speeding through the woods, especially since I was tricked out in Carhart looking crazy.  John and Zach had gone out earlier in the day and covered about 60 miles of muddy, hilly terrain.  What a day.


Anna and I spent that morning hanging out drooling over Paula Dean's cooking on Food Network and watching all of our little friends run around (or sit around) the house.  Side note, after watching Paula, I am inspired to make some kind of amazing stuffed, twice baked zucchini.

Cheerio eating was a major activity in our morning.  Avery and Dottie are so cute and sweet.

Kids Lake House

It is so nice to get out of our routine every once in a while to have a little adventure.  Thanks, Zach and Anna, for giving us this opportunity and spending a relaxing and adventurous day with us.  Your hospitality was such a blessing.

And I will round out this post with a picture of what I found as I was getting us ready to go.  I think this Little Prince and Princess are in love, at least according to the heart-shaped, glass paperweight that they were paired with.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Crave-Worthy Almond Bark Popcorn Recipe

Happy Valentine's Day!  Here's Bella all dressed up for the occasion.


Onto the post topic - Almond Bark Popcorn.  This was introduced to us by some of our great friends, the Lawsons - shout out to you guys and your awesomeness - miss you.  The reason that I call it Crave-Worthy is that John described this to me as his "Puppy Chow."  If we have Puppy Chow in the house, I cannot stop myself from eating it.  Really, it is a problem.  And my stomach usually becomes sort of sick from it.  He feels that way about this treat that is super easy and fun.

I start by melting two or three squares of almond bark in the microwave at 30 second intervals until it is all melted.


Then pop the popcorn - I think any popcorn will work well.  For some reason, we have mass amounts of popcorn in our pantry, though we haven't bought it in a long time.  I opted to use the popcorn that expired in 2008 vs. the one that expired in 2004.

Popcorn Expire

Once the popcorn is popped, pour it into a bowl and pour the melted almond bark over it.


Then, spread it all out onto wax paper to let it dry.  It will be ready to enjoy in about 10 minutes.


You could easily make it festive by dying the almond bark the color of your choosing.  It is that wonderful blend of salty and sweet.  Crave-worthy.  Enjoy!