Friday, January 30, 2015

Flashback Friday: Granola Bars

Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! I searched far and wide for the best granola bar recipe with quality ingredients, and I believe I found it. I hope you enjoy my granola bar recipe!


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: --
Supplies/Ingredients:
  • 2 c. rolled oats (quick or old fashion)
  • 2 c. rice cereal
  • 2 c. of "add-ins" (i.e., nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, candy, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (not natural peanut butter; it won't melt properly)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8" x 8" pan
  • Cooking spray
  • large mixing bowl
  • Medium-size microwavable bowl
  • wooden spoon
I searched far and wide for a good granola bar recipe. Not to toot my own horn, but these are the best granola bars I've ever eaten! Let's be serious...are these really "granola bars" or just cookies? Whatever...I'm calling them granola bars because it makes me feel a little healthier. This is a fast, no bake granola bar recipe

In a large mixing bowl, mix the rolled oats, rice cereal, and "add-ins". Your add-ins can be anything you'd like: nuts, dried fruit, candy, chocolate chips, etc. You only need 2 cups total of the add-ins. In this batch, I am using raisins, chocolate chips and mixed nuts. I chopped the mixed nuts.


In a medium-size microwavable bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the peanut butter is melted. Add the vanilla and stir until mixed.





Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.


Dump the mixture into a greased 8" x 8" pan, and press firmly.



Let the bars set for an hour or so on the counter before cutting into bars. That's it!



*****

Recipe:
  1. Combine the oats, rice cereal, and add-ins in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. In a medium-size microwavable bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the peanut butter is melted. Add the vanilla and stir until mixed.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.
  4. Dump the mixture into a greased 8" x 8" pan, and press firmly.
  5. Let the bars set for an hour or so on the counter before cutting into bars.
Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Flashback Friday: Taggie Blanket

Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! This is one of my more popular posts that instructs you how to make a simple sewing project. These small blankets make great baby gifts!



Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Piecing Fabric (beginning step of a quilt), Slip Stitch

Supplies:
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors (or rotary cutter and mat)
  • Pins
  • (4) 7" squares of fabric (for top of taggie blanket)
  • (1) 13 1/2" square of fabric (for backside of taggie blanket)
  • (16) 6" pieces of ribbon (varying types and colors)

Supplies needed for the Taggie Blanket

If you are someone who has always wanted to sew a quilt but does not know where to begin, this week's Taggie Blanket project is for you! You will learn the basic steps of piecing together fabric, which is the building block of making a quilt. The final product will be an adorable little blanket any baby is sure to enjoy.

I first saw a Taggie Blanket at one of my friend's baby showers nearly two years ago. Many babies love different textures, and the assortment of fabrics and ribbons of this small blanket provides various textures for little ones to play with. Be creative and have fun with selecting the fabrics and ribbons for this project!

1. To begin, lay out the four 7" squares in the pattern you would like it sewn together. If you have a patterned fabric such as stripes, make sure you place the fabric in the direction you would like it to be sewn together.

Lay out the 7" squares in the desired design.

2. Pin one square to another square -- right sides together -- along one edge. Do this to the other set of squares. Sew a straight stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance. (Refer to Mom's Tip #2.) View the video below for a more detailed explanation.

3. After sewing the two sets of squares together, press the seams open. You now have two rectangular pieces.  Next, pin the two rectangular pieces together -- right sides together -- making sure that your seams are aligned. View the video below for a more detailed explanation.

Pin the pressed seam open to ensure
the fabric does not bunch. 
Make sure the seams are aligned before
you pin the pieces together. 

The back side of the top panel will look like this
after you have pressed open both seams. 
4. Now that the top side of your Taggie Blanket is complete, sew the top side to the 13 1/2" square backside of the Taggie Blanket. Lay the right sides of the fabric together and begin pinning all four sides of the square. As you pin, fold each of the 6" ribbons in half creating a loop, and place the loop toward the inside of the fabric between the two pieces of fabric; secure the ribbons in place with pins. Once the blanket is pinned, sew a 1/4" seam allowance around all four sides leaving a 3" - 4" opening on one side. The opening allows you to turn the blanket right-side out. For a more detailed explanation, watch the video below.



You will sew around all four sides of the square except one
3" - 4" opening so that you can turn the blanket inside out.
5. Once you have sewn all four sides (except the 3" - 4" opening), you will need to turn the blanket right side out. The final step is to sew the small opening shut. For that, we will use a slip stitch.


Snip a small piece of the corner before turning the project inside out.
This prevents the corner from bunching.
The final step is to sew the small opening shut using a slip stitch.
Follow the pictures and their respective captions below for instructions on how to perform a slip stitch. 


Take a threaded needle with a knot at the end of the thread and slide the
needle up through the pressed edge of the fabric; pull the thread tight so
that the knot is hidden on the under-side of the fabric. 
Insert your needle on the other side of the opening directly across from where
you brought the needle up.  Pull the needle through. Slip the needle through the
same side of the fabric about 1/4". Then, insert your needle on the other side
of the fabric directly across from the previous stitch. Continue to "slip" the
needle 1/4" and insert the needle across the stitch until you reach
the end of the opening.  
To knot the thread at the end of the opening, do not pull the thread tight
at the end of the last stitch but rather leave a loop. Place your needle through
the loop and pull the thread tight. Over the same stitch, do this step 2 or 3
more times to ensure the thread is knotted. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Flashback Friday: Threading a Sewing Machine

After a little hiatus around the holidays, I'm getting back into the swing of things. Here's this week's Flashback Friday where I dig up an old post. If you haven't seen it before, then it's new to you! Some of you may be motivated to dust off the sewing machine or try sewing for the first time. In either case, this post should help you get started with your sewing projects! 


Skill Level: Beginner 
Skills Attained: Threading a Sewing Machine
Supplies:
  • Sewing Machine
  • Spool of Thread
  • Bobbin (This is included as one of the parts with the sewing machine.)
As part of my blog, I want to include some basic instructions that will help get you started on the projects I describe in my posts. Many of the projects I include assume a basic level of knowledge to begin the project. So, for those of you that are true beginners, I want to provide you with some fundamental skills. For example, in my sewing projects, I assume that you know how to use a sewing machine. For those of you that have never used a sewing machine, this post will teach you how to thread a sewing machine. The instructions I provide below are based upon a Singer Model 7442. I understand there are a variety of types and styles of sewing machines, but the basic parts and steps should apply to most sewing machines. 

There are three main steps in threading a sewing machine: 
  1. Winding the Bobbin
  2. Threading the Top Thread
  3. Threading the Bobbin Thread
The instructions below break down these main components to threading a sewing machine. For each of the three steps I have included step-by-step instructions with pictures and an instructional video at the end of each section. 

Winding the Bobbin


On the top of your machine, there is a spool pin to place the spool of thread. Slide the spool of thread onto the spool pin followed by the spool pin cap to secure the spool of thread. 


Unwind some of the thread and guide it through the thread guides as shown in the picture below.


Insert the thread through the hole in the bobbin.



Make sure the bobbin winder shaft is in the left-most position. Slide the bobbin onto the shaft so the hole with the thread coming out is on top. Slide the bobbin winder shaft to the right position. 


Hold onto the thread coming out the top of the bobbin and press gently down on the foot control with your foot to start the machine. The bobbin will begin to turn. When the bobbin is full, the bobbin will automatically stop turning. 



Slide the shaft to the left position; remove the bobbin; and snip the thread leaving a 6 - 8" tail. 



Threading the Top Thread


Before you begin, do the following: 
  1. Make sure the pressure foot lifter is in the up position to ensure proper thread tension. 
  2. Raise the needle to the highest position by turning the hand wheel on the right-side of the machine. 

With the spool of thread still on the spool pin secured by the spool pin cap, unwind some thread and guide it through the thread guide. This is where the steps will vary depending upon the type of machine. Most machines have either arrows or numbers that guide you through the steps of threading the top thread. On most machines, the top thread passes through the following:
  1. Initial Thread Guide 
  2. Pre-Tension Guide
  3. a) Tension Discs and b) Thread Take-Up Lever (On my machine, this is two separate steps, but this is one step for some newer machines.)
  4. Eye of the Needle (Be sure to thread the needle from the front to the back.)
Steps #1 & #2
Steps #3a & 3b
Step #4



Threading the Bobbin Thread


The bobbin may be top-facing (horizontal bobbin) or front-facing (vertical bobbin) depending on the machine. Also, many front-facing bobbin machines have a bobbin case that you insert the bobbin into before placing it into the machine. The instructions below are for a top-facing bobbin. The same basic steps should apply for a front-facing bobbin.

Top-Facing Bobbin
Before you begin, raise the needle to the highest position by turning the hand wheel on the right side of the machine.




Take off the bobbin cover plate by sliding the release button to the right.



Drop the bobbin inside the bobbin chamber ensuring that the bobbin spins counter-clockwise when the thread is pulled. This is extremely important as issues will arise if the bobbin is inserted the wrong direction.



Along the bottom edge where the bobbin is inserted, there are two small slots. Slide the thread through the slot on the right (Slot #1) and pull to the left (Slot #2). Pull out about 6 - 8" of thread.



Turn the hand wheel on the right side of the machine causing the needle to go down and up. This will cause the top thread to catch the bobbin thread. Once the needle is in the up position, pull the top thread so that the bobbin thread comes up through with the top thread.


Put the bobbin cover plate back in place.