What I’m Lovin’ in January

It’s finally gotten chilly in the south and feels like winter! (Confession: I love cold weather.) I hope you are all staying warm and toasty wherever you are. Snuggle up and share a few giggles with me as you read on through the short list of what I loved about January…
january

1. Cookies made with Chickpeas

Guys!! Before you go rolling your eyes and completely abandon this post, hear me out!

Or just oogle this mouth-watering photo of proof I’m not crazy…

chickpea cookie

{I borrowed this delightful picture from Texanerin Baking. If your mouth is watering (mine is!), click the picture to jump over to the recipe.}

I have a very serious sweet tooth. I am a firm believer that dessert is essential – not optional. I also try purdy hard to stay healthy. So…I seek out “healthy” treats. {Chocolate Covered Katie is one of my favorite resources}

And y’all – these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites are a winner!

The recipe is super easy and fairly guilt-free. {Lazy Cook Tip: If you don’t have roasted peanuts on hand to make your own PB (see #2 below!), Trader Joe’s Creamy, Salted Peanut Butter works great – and the ingredient list is desirable with just peanuts and salt.}

Hubs loves them. And we even made these when my Mom came over for dinner and she was quite delighted and announced that they tasted just like peanut butter balls (which they kind of are, but I’ll let her have that connection!).

PS: If you also enjoy “healthy” [aka: less guilty] desserts, these flourless chocolate muffins are the perfect go-to if you need something easy to take to a party that your vegan and gluten-free friends can enjoy. I wouldn’t recommend the chickpea cookies for parties because 1) they are best served warm and 2) the first batch I made was a bit messy to eat.

2. Making my own Peanut Butter

As I said to my Mom earlier this month: “your generation would probably refer to my lifestyle as ‘crunchy granola’.” I’ll own it. I’m not offended (and yes, I once had a granola-supplier who recently went out of business and I teared up a bit…before ordering 5 bags as stock).

I was destined to be this way: I have a Public Health degree (aka: I was trained to be overly cautious about my health) and I’m a Researcher by trade.

Confession: The context of the statement above was when I was [being very Millennial and calling my Mom to debrief about my doctor’s appointment] after I explained that I told the doctor I had started making my own lip balm because I discovered what I had thought was just petroleum jelly in fact had dyes in it for reasons unknown (I’ve been having some lip issues [and I’ve already told you I’m a) a Public Health nerd and b) a Researcher] and was subsequently eliminating everything funky – including switching my toothpaste to Tom’s without fluoride – in an effort to eliminate triggers. Yep, crunchy granola).

Oh – and if you’re wondering: YES I’m going to share my lip balm recipe with you. I’m still perfecting it so stay tuned!

Anyways, back to the peanut butter!

When I discovered the chickpea cookies above, Texaserin recommended making your own peanut butter for the cookie recipe. She even has a recipe for the peanut butter, but I’ll spoil it for you: throw some [lightly] salted roasted peanuts in your food processor for 4 minutes. THAT’S IT! 

peanut butter

I know what you’re thinking: “but does it taste good?!” Yes, folks – it does! So delicious. I kept my batch in the fridge and it lasted about a day before I ate it all (while I seriously considered taking a spoon to the jar, I did not. I used most of it in the cookie recipe and the leftover was used in smoothies).

Next time your grocery store runs nuts on sale, grab a container of roasted peanuts and give them a whirl in the food processor – just for shiggles!

3. Homemade Vegan Korean Barbecue

korean bbq

{Picture borrowed from Brewing Happiness because my food never turns out this pretty. Click the image to get the recipe!}

DELISH!

The flavor is ahhh-mazing. This is one of the Hubs’ favorite new dinners. {Confession: The first time I tried this recipe, I got so frustrated because I was burning the tofu that *somehow* I pulled our junk drawer off it’s hinges and the contents flew all over the kitchen… Thankfully the Hubs was home and willing to talk me off the ledge – and clean up the mess [I’m a lucky gal!]. As a tip: Pre-measure the ingredients that you can and when you start cooking the tofu: stir often/constantly if you can.}

Since I try to keep my time in the kitchen minimal for everyone’s safety, I can’t speak about the taste of the aioli {I hit my ingredients-to-buy/time-I-was-willing-to-spend-cooking limit with the homemade barbecue sauce}. If you try the aioli, let me know if it’s worth the effort!

PS: Another favorite recipe from Brewing Happiness: Baked Veggie Dogs {they were on my September list}.

4. Tea Time

I got a batch of Lady Grey Loose Leaf Tea for Christmas from my step-sister. I’m trying to balance my sweet tooth with hot tea {otherwise I’d probably eat an entire batch of the Chickpea Cookies in one day which would make them far less “guilt free”}.

tea

Loose leaf tea is gorgeous. And I kind of want to learn to make my own blends, but I’m not sure where to start – if you know any good recipes, let me know!

Also – along with the tea, my step-sister gave me the most adorable ManaTEA tea infuser!

manatea

I named her Minnie the Manatee

Minnie motivates me to drink more tea and eat less sweets. Like a boss.

PS: I found Minnie’s twin Manny [well, they call him “Fred”] on Amazon if you’re interested in your own ManaTEA.

5. Family Recipes

Some friends invited us over for chili a few weekends ago and I knew immediately that I wanted to dust off Jeremy’s grandfather’s cornbread recipe! It’s always a big hit and we’d just eaten some his PawPaw made at Thanksgiving which reminded me how delicious they are (and that we hadn’t made them in forever).

cornbread

I know you’re shocked: Yes, I own an apron. And yes, the reason it looks well-worn is not because of yours truly – it’s vintage 😛

I weaseled the recipe out of Jeremy’s grandpa several years ago. We used to make them all the time, but it’s been years since we’ve made a batch.

The recipe is more of a Mexican-style cornbread with jalapenos and cheddar cheese. I’m not authorized to spill the family secrets, but here’s a similar recipe you could try 🙂

6. Our new knit sweaters

Speaking of grandparents, the Hubs has the best! Last week we received two packages from England!

Since we’d just chatted with his grandma, we had an idea of what they were. She has been working on sweaters for both of us since we visited last Christmas. {In fact, she had my sweater nearly done, but when I arrived and she measured me she realized the bodice was going to be too small and unraveled the whole thing! She laughed at my reaction because I almost cried!}

It felt like we’d won the lottery! 😉

sweaters

We were overwhelmed with excitement [obviously], but I promise to attempt a better picture of the sweaters later…

And with the recent cold weather arriving in South Carolina, we’re both pretty grateful for these snuggly new garments!

Isn’t Jeremy’s grandmother SO talented?! She’s been knitting for…forever. This is my third sweater from her. I wear the other two quite frequently when it gets cold and I know this one will be well-loved too!

PS: Did you know that “knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol“?! You can read all about the health benefits of knitting and real stories about how knitting has helped people get through tough times {like having a baby in the NICU and quitting smoking} in this article from the NY Times. Fascinating research!

7. Snow

Speaking of cold weather, last weekend we got snow!

snow

If you look REALLY close you can see the light dusting on the roof {and a fur baby peaking out the front door}

Anyone not from the south is probably laughing hysterically at my claim of snow based on the above picture. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t get any snow this year so I’ll take what I can get!

I did watch some tiny flurries come down from the window in front of my sewing machine and it was lovely (even if they melted as soon as they hit the ground).

Now I’m not wishing bad weather on anyone, but I do wish we’d get a little more snow this winter!!

8. My new accessories for sewing

earrings

Because who doesn’t need to look glamorous while sewing?!

My sweet friend Caroline surprised me with these the day before our first quilt guild meeting this year {so I was accessorized quite festively for the meeting}.

love them! And I love my sweet friend for being so thoughtful. She’s the best.

PS: My new earrings coordinate perfectly with my new planner from Sugar and Type {it looks like the planners are all sold out which is a shame because it is so useful!}.

9. Paper Piecing

At our Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild meeting this month, our president did a paper-piecing demo.

I’ve been really wanting to try paper-piecing, but was too scared. Amber demystified the process and I went home and gave it a try with the simple diamond blocks she shared with us.

paper pieces

I’m hooked!

What are some of your favorite paper pieced patterns? I’m looking to try more so I’d love it if you left me your favorite in the comments.

PS: If you’re local to Columbia, SC – follow the Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild on Facebook and consider joining us! We meet every third Thursday of the month and have a sew-in once a month (so fun).

10. My Double Zip Wallet

doublezip2

I won’t bore you with all the details [because you can read those here], but I’m still lovin’ it.

I think my favorite part are the two zipper pouches. I love zippers because they make your goodies feel so secure {and help you to avoid embarrassing moments when change starts flying out of your clutch like a slot machine}.

This also reminds me that I need to finish that Veronika skirt the corduroy was intended for…

Since I haven’t blogged as much this month, I had a lot to share! Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom – you’re such a trooper!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

 

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Mug Rug Inspiration and Free Gift Tag

I am on a kick with mug rugs lately! Not only are they super fun to make (and don’t take near the amount of time an actual quilt would), they make great gifts so I’m stocking up for the holidays 😉

In addition to sharing some of the mug rugs I’ve had fun constructing, I’ve thrown in a few extra goodies – links to free patterns & tutorials as well as FREE printable gift tags designed by yours truly especially for you!


mug rug blog post

“What’s a mug rug?” you ask? A mug rug looks an awful lot like a potholder, but functions like an oversized coaster + mini placemat.

I have one on my desk at work. Not only does it add a pop of color and pizzazz to my office decor, but it keeps my smoothie and water bottle from smearing condensation all over my desk.

I gifted the one pictured below to my stepmom and she said it’s been very useful on her desk as well!

mug rug

I picked up a quilting book from Red Hen Fabrics a while ago. The book teaches you how to build several different quilt blocks. The pinwheel design caught my eye so I figured I’d give it a try for a mug rug. It was much easier than I thought and I’ll definitely be visiting the design again!

If you’re interested in trying out the pinwheel block design, here is a great tutorial for how to make the perfect pinwheel.

mug rug 2a

{Front of the Liberty of London scrap mug rug}

The mug rug above is made from Liberty of London scraps I snagged from Mad For Fabric on Instagram. The pieces are mostly too small to sew as a traditional block so I used some pretty messy zig zag stitching to keep them in place.

As you can see on the back, the zig zag was pretty crazy, but it looks kind of fun, right?!

mug rug 2b

{Back of the Liberty of London scrap mug rug}

Perhaps in the future I should attach the scraps to the batting and add the backing fabric after all the craziness 😉

One of my favorite mug rugs so far is this one (which I’m saving for my sister):

mug rug 3

Last month I joined the Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild and at my first meeting the President showed up with 3 gallon size bags FULL of beautiful scraps. She let us pass them around to plunder and take what we wanted. She had a lot of modern designer fabric that I have been admiring online, but hadn’t splurged on yet. I jumped on the scraps to use for mug rugs!

Here is a great tutorial for how to create a frame quilt block (a great way to “frame” a design like I did with the mermaid above – except that the tutorial includes a way cooler frame design!).

mug rug

I think the mug rug above is the one I’m most proud of! I followed this tutorial from Owen’s Olivia (linked again below). This could be a newbie issue, but once I had the top pieced together, I realized that it was much smaller than the backing I’d cut. This worked out great because I was able to wrap the backing around for the binding (yep, no separate binding attachment! A great time saver).

Here is a great tutorial for how to bind a quilt with the backing. Speaking of binding, here’s a helpful post from Crazy Mom Quilts on how to bind tiny things.

Even by “cheating”, the mug rug still came out to the specified dimensions: 8 1/2 inches square.

Mug-rug-gift-making-hack: If you are following a tutorial and cutting specific sized pieces, cut double what you need so that you can make two at a time. Since they are pretty quick to sew, it’s much easier to sew them simultaneously than one at a time (for the same design at least).

Want to make your own mug rug?

You totally should! I’m sharing some fun [free] patterns and tutorials I’ve found around the blogosphere and beyond. Each image links directly to its source – if you see one you like, just click the image and you’ll be routed to the tutorial.

I don’t usually follow a specific pattern when I’m making my mug rugs. I’ve been using these as opportunities to build my quilting skills. I just find a quilt block tutorial I like and give it a shot. When I get it to a size I like, I stop and add binding. It’s been a really great way to build my quilting skills and knowledge as well as use up a lot of fabric scraps 🙂

If your quilt block comes out too big, just turn it into a pillow cover {PS: my Pillow Ideas Pinterest Board might be of help here 😉 }

Mug Rug Patterns & TutorialsNote: these are not my tutorials nor have I followed all of them (yet!) unless otherwise noted. They all look fabulous and I intend to try them out, but in the meantime I wanted to share them with you and also to credit their source – please click the image to find the artist’s tutorial.

Honeycomb Mug Rug from Going Home to Roost

honeycomb

Honeycomb Mug Rug Pattern and Tutorial from Going Home to Roost

Mini-Hexie Mug Rug via Craftsy

hexie 2

Here’s another hexagon-themed mug rug – you can find the free pattern & tutorial on Craftsy

Peppermint Twist Mug Rug via Fort Worth Fabric Studio

peppermint

Peppermint Twist Table Runner and Mug Rug Tutorial from Twiggy and Opal via the Forth Worth Fabric Studio Blog

Half Star Mug Rug from Owen’s Olivia

half star

Half Star Mug Rug Tutorial + How to Match the Binding to a Design from Owen’s Olivia

Looking for more ideas? Check out my Quilting Pinterest Board!

Tips on How to Gift a Mug Rug

The obvious choice is to pair a handmade mug rug with a mug when gifting.

Mug recommendations:

  • Handmade mug from a local potter (My favorite: Kyle Smith – I can’t say enough great things about Kyle! His pottery is incredible quality and he’s just a super cool guy [who, btw, teaches art – including pottery! – to middle schoolers…bless him!] you can find him most weekends at the Soda City market and he’ll also be at Crafty Feast! Follow him on Facebook to stay in the loop.)
  • Vintage teacup – hit up your favorite thrift store and search the shelves! {For teacup inspiration, check out my recap of the DIY Bridal Tea Party my sister helped me throw for my BFF Caroline!}

Accessories you could pair with the mug rug:

  • Handmade tea bags & blends – use this picture to inspire you to make your own hand-stitched tea bags! You can find loose tea in most specialty grocery stores or google around to find some recipes.
  • Share your favorite pre-made tea bags with this adorable paper teapot (DIY it with some pretty scrapbook paper) to hold them!
  • Got a techy tea-lover on your gift list? Gift them this super fun robot tea infuser!

FREE Printable Gift Tags!

Because your recipient may not instinctively know your beautiful mini-quilt-of-sorts is actually an incredibly useful mug rug [and you don’t want to risk it being called a potholder because that’s a real downer], I’ve designed a FREE Printable Gift Tag for you to attach!

Below is an image of version 1 of the gift tag. Click here or on the image to open a printable document.

mug rug tag

{Click image for free printable!}

The document contains 2 different versions of the tags: on page 1 there are 3 larger, rectangular tags (like the one pictured above). On the second page, there are 6 smaller, rectangular tags (like in the image below). Just pick your preference and print the corresponding page.

You can print these on card stock and punch a hole in the top left to attach with yarn or ribbon (like I did in the picture below) or you can use the version on the first page to wrap around the mug rug. You could even glue the tags to scrapbook paper or other colorful paper to frame them. Be creative! 🙂

mug rug 2

Note: You are welcome to use the printable for personal use (to attach to gifts). Please do not use my tag to profit in any way (selling of the document/images or attaching the tags to sold goods is not permitted). Feel free to contact me {find my info here} if you have any questions on how you can use the gift tags. 

Thank you for supporting this little blog of mine! I would love to see your mug rugs – tag me on Instagram (@jordslice11) or post your image on the blog’s Facebook page.

Happy mug-rug-making! 🙂