Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Pork Tenderloin

It's summer.  We all love easy meals... meals that don't tie us to the kitchen when we would rather be enjoying the sun.  It doesn't get much easier than cooking in a slow cooker.

This recipe was born out of a desire to "use up" ingredients in my kitchen... to take advantage of the staples that I always have on hand.  Here's my recipe for delicious pork tenderloin cooked in my "crockpot"... it's fail-proof :)


2 lbs pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. Teriyaki sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1.  Lightly coat bottom of hot, large pan with olive oil.  Lightly brown pork tenderloin on all sides.  This will take a couple of minutes for each turn of the meat.

2.  In medium size bowl, mix together the chicken broth, teriyaki, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and garlic.  Stir until sugar dissolves.

3.  Place pork tenderloin in bottom of heated crockpot.  Pour over sauce mixture and move tenderloin around to make sure the liquid covers the bottom of the pot. 

4.  Cook on medium heat for 6 hours, or until the meat literally falls apart with a fork.  In my family, it needs no extra sauce.  The delicious liquid from the meat is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

5.  Serve it with your favorite summertime sides, either on a bun or on it's on.  ENJOY!

Another Great Post from Riley Blake

I have a morning routine... coffee... retrieve toddler from crib... make chocolate milk for toddler... visit Riley Blake website to wake up the brain...

This morning, Cutting Corners, a page hosted by Riley Blake, featured a wonderful bag tutorial.  It is so worth sharing!

The full post can be found here.  I think I'll add an exterior pocket and cute button closure... now I just need to decide which fabric to use :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rag Quilt Tutorial

Baby Rag Quilt Tutorial

My daughter and I received an invitation to a baby shower… I love babies… and I love celebrating babies! The fact that this mom had waited so long to conceive made this one even more special. To me, she epitomizes the verse “For this child I prayed”… so, I wanted her gift to be extra special (meaning handmade ;)

Knowing the baby is a girl, a smocked dress is the go-to gift… but mom isn’t overly girly, and my hands hardly stand-up to smocking these days. When pondering options, I was inspired by a rag quilt hanging in Zig Zag, my local fabric store/hangout.   LOVE!   I thought it would be the perfect gift, so I left the store with a few yards of fabric and a plan in mind…

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.5 yds of EACH fabric (this will be cut in strips lengthwise, so don’t get less)  *I used 3 fabrics for a total of 4.5 yards (can be cotton or flannel, but should be good quality)
1.5 yds batting
coordinating thread (it will be seen J )

Step 1: Planning

This step is very important! Don’t cut your strips until you figure out what you’ll need of each fabric. I wanted random… believe it or not, random is harder to achieve and is actually not random at all but is carefully planned.

When I was ready to tackle this step, it was about 10:00 at night, so I reached for the nearest paper and writing instrument I had…

fancy, I know… yes, it is an opened up envelope written in crayon and sharpie… what can I say, I’m a mom… anyway, I started with the assumption that I was going to stick with odd number widths, 9 being my widest, and center (roughly) strip. I measured all my fabrics and figured out how much fabric I had to work with. After playing around with colors and widths, this was how I planned:
5 3 7 3 9 5 7 3 5 3 7

I needed to cut double the number, to allow for the back of the quilt (which I didn't plan ahead... too much to think about).  So, finally, these were the fabric strips I needed...

Bird fabric: 1 strip cut to 9”
             2 strips cut to 7”
             2 strips cut to 5”
             3 strips cut to 3”

Pink fabric: 2 strips cut to 7”
             2 strips cut to 5”
             3 strips cut to 3”

Green fabric: 1 strip cut to 9”
              2 strips cut to 7”
              2 strips cut to 5”
              2 strips cut to 3”

*these measurements allow for ½” seams for “fraying”

Of course, this style “quilt” leaves lots of room for personal preferences… for reference, using the measurements outlined above, you will have 11 finished strips and a finished blanket measuring approx. 44” x 48”.

Step 2: Cutting Strips

I admit it… I’m a fabric ripper. That made this step really fast for me. I simply measured across the width of each fabric, taking a 1” snip in the top edge of the fabric at each hash mark (9”, 7”, 5”or 3”, based on my notes).  From each snip, I carefully tore my fabric down the length, giving me even and straight strips to work with. If you would feel more comfortable measuring and cutting, then by all means, go that route. I just can’t seem to cut a straight line, so ripping works for me ;) Don’t worry about having everything at exactly the same length. You’ll take care of that later in the project.

Once I had all my strips “cut”, I ironed, folded, and sorted them by width and fabric.

Step 2b: Cutting Batting

Because the batting is not included in the fraying, it was not necessary to include the seam allowance in the strip widths.  Therefore, here are the pieces I used:

Batting: 1 strip cut to 8”
         3 strips cut to 6”
         3 strips cut to 4”
         4 strips cut to 2”

Since batting can’t be torn (ask me how I know ;), I did have to measure out and cut each strip (it’s painless, I promise).  With my batting folded in half, I started at the selvage edge (I knew that one was straight) and measured the width of my ruler (2") for four strips. From the fourth 2” strip, I turned my ruler and measured out my 4” , 6” and 8” strips.

Once everything was measured out, I just cut til my little heart was content.

Step 3: Matching and Assembling Strips

Because everything was already sorted and stacked, this part was a piece of cake.  Simply match up your fabric strips (should be two different fabrics) with corresponding batting and set aside.

I adore the look of stacked fabric...  ;)

Before sewing, lay one fabric right side down, and center batting along this strip. Place coordinating fabric atop batting, lining up edges with other fabric (should be a ½” seam allowance on each long side).

With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER AND BATTING IN MIDDLE, sew a mid-length straight stitch down the center. Repeat this process for each of the strip “sandwiches” you will be making for the project. (The top fabric is flipped up just to show the placement of the batting. When sewing, it will line up with the fabric on the bottom.)

I found that by placing my fingers on fabrics as shown below, it helped to minimize the natural puckering of the fabric and allowed me to better feel the placement of the batting underneath.

Step 4: Layout and Design

Once all strips are sewn, it’s time to lay out the pieces and see what you think.  This was a rewarding part of the process.  My daughter and I tried this at least half a dozen ways, and finally ended up with this layout.  I wanted to be sure that none of the fabrics were lined up beside themselves on either side, so we found it helpful to keep the top edges folded down.  Loved our final layout J

I’m not sure why this step took so long… ;)

JS loved the strips of fabric...
Step 5: Assembling Quilt

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of most of this process. I guess I was so excited I forgot to take pictures. Basically, you will want to carefully pick up each strip, going from left to right, and stack them one under the other. When sewing, you will line them up WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and sew down the ½” seam allowance, occasionally picking up the batting to prevent it from bunching up when washed. I didn’t pin all of my pieces before I began… I just took it one strip at a time. Once all strips are attached, you will have one side with no seams showing, and one side with all seams showing. These will be snipped for the fraying process.

Step 6: It’s all in the little details

To ease my mind about having the batting not bunch up (it is a gift, after all), I stitched horizonally at the ¼, ½, and ¾ marks of the quilt. I also stitched down the two outside vertical edges at the ½” seam allowance, because I knew I would fray that rather than bind the quilt.

When stitching my horizonal lines, I snipped the seam so that it wouldn’t get caught and flatten my fraying. I just made sure to open up the “v” and sew down the middle.

*I had no problem with my batting bunching up, so this step could be omitted if you prefer.

This is also when we deal with the uneven length that we didn’t worry about earlier. Starting a the shortest point along the top edge of the quilt, draw a line from edge to edge across the width of the quilt. THIS WILL BE YOUR CUTTING LINE, NOT YOUR SEWING LINE. Measuring a ½” seam from this line, straight stitch across your quilt. After sewing this line, cut along the line you drew. Repeat for the bottom edge of your quilt. (mine was really uneven because two of my fabrics were a touch over 1.5 yds).

Once the edges are even, carefully… CAREFULLY, at ½” to 1” intervals, snip all interior seams to about 1/8” from the stitching line. Do this for the perimeter seams, as well.

Step 7: Wash and tumble dry your quilt.

I opted for using a gentle detergent and a gentle wash cycle, but this is cotton, so it’s very durable. I tumble dried on medium and checked my lint filter twice during the process, just in case. Not as many strings as I had anticipated.

The final product…

This super-soft quilt features both a smooth side for peaceful napping and a tactile side, perfect for stimulating tummy time.

I was so happy with how the quilt turned out, and can’t wait for it to be enjoyed by sweet Lila Jane  ;)

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear from you... please feel free to ask questions or leave comments :)