Folk Art Barn Quilt Calendar

Every year we release a new barn quilt calendar.  The planning begins over the holidays and this year we wanted to reproduce the painting style we did when we were first married.  We painted a few pieces in our home with images of farm life with lots of little details.  This year we added barn quilts and little farm friends in a perpetual calendar called Folk Art Barn Quilt Calendar. 

Folk Art Barn Quilt Calendar

We both had our favorite elements.  I loves the sun and the moon...and of course the quilted pasture.  Mike loved the corn and the sheep.  The calendar grid is painted onto wood with black stain to allow the wood grain to come out between the white lines.  The grid is a permanent calendar template.  The month and dates can be added with simple chalk to make each month your very own personal piece.

The opposite side is painted as well with a black board for messages and pictures to be added.  It's a great place to write your family mantras and messages that celebrate life.

The folk art style just warms our souls and being able to write this years calendar, goals, and mantras  on something that reminds of us of home makes it all the more fabulous.  We hope you enjoy this calendar.  If you are looking for something simple, please check out the Farmhouse Perpetual Calendar in our shop.

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Valentine Charcuterie Boards

What is Charcuterie you ask?  Well, it is a beautiful way to graze on delicious food, which means you will love it as much as we do!  You pronounce it as (shahr -ku-tuh-ree).  It is a very trendy art of preparing and assembling foods, both savory and sweet.  If you go to my Pinterest Board  you will see amazing displays for all types of parties and gatherings.  

For today's KUTV Fresh Living  we are making a Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board with lots of yummy treats and a few healthy ones too.  To begin any Charcuterie Board you need first a board.  You can use a long cutting board, a slab of clean wood, or even a sheet of bakers paper down the center of the table.  The one that I am using today was purchased from my Amazon Shop.  It is large and finished so beautifully, it is my favorite board to use.

The second thing you will want to do to create a fabulous Charcuterie Board is to create elements that rise and give "depth" to your food design.  A simple way to do this it to add small bowls of dip, or a mini-cake stand, a cup of bread sticks, etc.  

For this Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board I added two small heart shaped bowls filled with marshmallow fluff and chocolate ganache (of course sprinkled with "love dust").  Once your elements of height are added, you can begin to see a flow to the design.  This is where the art of display comes in.  I added the milk glass vase with three heart shaped rice crispy pops, the two bowls of sweet dip and then .... 

...the cluster of cupcakes and cake pops.  I then swirled the cookies across the tray to give a solid shaped curve and echoes the same curve with the candied popcorn.  I then added the chocolate covered pretzels, and strawberries (with their green tops up).   If you were putting together a savory Charcuterie Board you would fan out cured meats, cheeses, spreads, baguette slices, crackers, etc.

This is an important note when putting together a Charcuterie Board.  You want different textures and colors throughout the display, so adding the strawberries with their clean, bright green tops upright, added a fresh color pop to a very sweet pink and red display.

With those large swirled-curved elements in place the board was beginning to take shape.  I then went and added little elements like the yogurt covered cranberries and the chocolate kisses in spaces that were bare. If you were making a savory Charcuterie Board you this would be a good time to add small nuts and dried fruits or any other small item.  You would also want to add fresh fruits and vegetables sliced or whole.  It is fun to have a pop of a large red apple or a beautiful cluster of grapes...kiwis sliced add lots of green pop as do broccoli florets.  

 Now with just a couple of spots left to fill, I decided to add a couple of semi-homemade treats to the board.  I took a few Oreo Cookies and melted some white chocolate...dipped them and sprinkled some red and white candies for extra love.

 I also melted some milk chocolate and dipped the tips of strawberry filled wafer cookies. the melted yumminess.  You can find the melting chocolates in most baking isles.  They are inexpensive, and fast to melt in your microwave.  Just add them to a ceramic, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.  Lift out of microwave and stir to get the chocolate discs soft.  Put back in the microwave and heat for 1 to 2 more minutes.  Stir again until the discs are melted smooth.  Do not over heat, or they will turn dry and hard, not silky smooth.

I placed some parchment paper on the counter and dipped the tips of the wafers in the chocolate, using a spoon to get the chocolate "line" even.  Placed them on the paper to cool and added a little "x" or "o" to the tip.  When cool and dry, I added them in layers with the decoration showing in a fan type swirl out to the edge of the tray. 

 I hope this little lesson on Charcuterie Boards has inspired you to get a little creative with your next gathering, or even your next movie night!  The total cost for this Valentine's Board was $65.00 not including the tray...and I have so many left overs!  It really is a simple way to make a big impact without spending a ton!

You can catch my Charcuterie Board segment on KUTV Fresh Living today and if you miss it watch my You Tube Channel for the segment soon.  Enjoy!

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Forget Me Not Flourish Embroidery

We are so happy for the first Flourish Wildflower of 2020!  I worked on this over the holiday and fell in love with the little blue flowers of the Forget Me Not.  The Forget Me Not symbolizes "remembrance".  I always wonder why different flowers symbolize different virtues, and I have a few thoughts on this little beauty.  

With each Lazy Daisy that I stitched to create a petal, I though of how many little petals it takes to make this dainty little blue flower even stand out.  It made me think of how many little blessings and gifts we each receive and try to remember, especially as we say goodbye to a passing year and say hello to a new one.  Maybe it is about remembering the little things that combine to make something note worthy and great and not the big bursts that impact us in subtle, sweet ways.  I'm not an expert, nor am I the person who assigns meanings to flowers, but for me the Forget Me Not means remember the small blessings together as a whole.

To stitch this darling little flower you will need:

Crewel Embroidery Needle
Cotton Batting
Transfer Pen
Embroidery Snips
DMC Floss Numbers 
(Blue 793, Lt. Blue 318, Yellow 3821, Green 469, and Ecru Pearl 5)

1.  Right click on image and print from your computer to your printer.  Place image under your fabric and trace with erasable transfer pen.  (I use the Frixion pens that erase with steam.)  

2.  Place fabric tightly in hoop (remember drum tight) with cotton batting behind fabric.  The cotton batting that I use is a 80/20 Cotton.  It hides my knots, strings and gives my stitches a little extra lift.  Once your fabric is drum tight you are ready to go.

3.  Take your green and thread your crewel needle with all six strands of floss about an arms length of floss.  Tie a knot in the end and make a tail about 1/3 the length of your floss.  This helps you to hold onto your floss as you go through the fabric.  

4.  I will give you the stitches for each color and will attach the Tweetle Dee Stitching Guide to this post.  For additional help, go to the Tweetle Dee You Tube Channel.  

DMC 469 Green - Stem Stitch for Stems, and Braided Leaf Stitch/Satin Stitch for leaves/outline of leaves is back stitch.

DMC 793 Blue - Lazy Daisy for petals.

DMC 318 Lt. Blue - Satin Stitch inside of petals.

DMC Ecru - One stitch in the light blue fill in to add shading.  Back stitch "remembrance".

DMC 3821 Yellow - French Knot in center of each flower.

I am working on a video for this embroidery and will have it on the You Tube Channel shortly.  I hope you have enjoyed these little floral embroideries and are gaining a few new stitch skills as well.  Many blessings small and big to you this coming 2020.  xo
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Mamma's Potato Leek Soup

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that 2020 is here.  We hope your celebrations were everything you hoped for and that you are renewed and excited for this fresh new year.  When the producers of KUTV Fresh Living asked me to give them my favorite winter comfort food, there was no doubt which one I would pick.  Our family's most requested soup in Momma's Potato Leek Soup. 

For years this has been our kiddos taste of home.  It is so simple to make, and yet if you skimp on time by substituting anything on the can tell!  Trust me, I have tried and have heard the complaints.  Our family takes their potato soup very seriously!  

If you haven't cooked with Leeks before, you are in for a treat.  You can watch today's segment on KUTV Fresh Living to see how to wash and prepare leeks, but let me give you a quick review. 

Leeks are a part of the onion family.  They are sweeter and more mild than your regular onions and add a rich flavor to any dish.  My favorite way to eat them in saute in butter and olive oil with a little sea salt.  They are so good all by them selves, but when added this soup they are out of this world.  

You can find leeks in most grocery stores or if you are lucky and live on a beautiful farm in upstate NY...they grow in the woods.  I know first hand about that.  In the spring my cousins and aunts trek to the woods and gather the leeks from the dark rich soil.   The earthy smell of soil and sweet leeks is one of my favorite scent memories.  The family gathers for a ham and leek dinner cooked together in the farmhouse kitchen.   Yes, it is as magical as it sounds.  Because I live a thousand miles away from our family farm in the west, I go to my local produce store and can find them in the greens.

Leeks are not only delicious, but super good for you.  They are natures antibiotic, with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  They help support a healthy digestive tract by keeping good stuff growing and eliminating the bad stuff growing in our tubes.  They are the oldest recorded vegetable and it's easy to see why.... good for you and good to eat.

They grow in soil, so make sure you wash them well.  Choose stalks that have white ends, light green in the middle and dark green tops.  You want to avoid the brown or yellowish greens, as they are not so fresh.  When you get the stalk home, trim off the roots and the top dark green.   I trim about two inches above the white.  I love the greens, but the top of the stalks are tough, so just use the light to medium green parts above the white.  Cut them as you would an onion, slice, chop or roast whole.  A little Olive Oil and Sea Salt and you have a fabulous side.

So, with the introduction of Leeks and how to use them we are ready to make this Oh soooo good, over the moon, Momma's Potato Leek Soup...

Momma's Potato Leek Soup

10 to 12 Large Golden Potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks)
1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup + 3 Tbs. Butter
Olive Oil
2 Large Leeks (washed, sliced, and chopped)
3 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups Chopped Bacon 
4 Cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
Flaky Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Place peeled and chopped potatoes into a large pan and cover with water.   Add salt and boil until the potatoes are fork tender.  While the potatoes are cooking wash, slice and chop your leeks into 1/4" slices.  Chop your fresh garlic.  Heat a 1/2 cup of butter and 2 Tbs of Olive Oil in a frying pan.  When the butter is melted, add the garlic and leeks.  Sprinkle with some Flaky Salt and saute until the greens are bright and the white is slightly translucent.  Set aside.

Once your potatoes are fork tender, drain potatoes into a colander until the water is removed.  Add potatoes back into the pan, saving 2 cups of potato chunks to the side. Add softened butter and let melt over hot potatoes for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender or a hand mixer, mash the potatoes until they are soft.  

Add the chicken broth, and milk and mix until you get the consistency that you prefer.  I like my soup thick, but my husband like his thin.  Which ever way you like it, add the milk to that consistency. Once this is blended, add the saute leeks and reserved potato chunks. Stir in and let simmer on low to medium heat until everything is warm.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve garnished with cheddar cheese, bacon, chopped parsley or cilantro and green onion!

I promise you, this will be your new favorite go to comfort food forever!  It is the soup that all of our children request when they come home and it is so worth the added bit of love to peel your potatoes and saute those is a sure bit of heaven in a bowl.

Enjoy xo

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