Monday, March 30, 2009

Three Week Chick Update

Are you tired of hearing about our chicks yet? I guess I haven't got over my fascination with them! If I had nothing better to do, I'd could probably sit and watch them by the hour! (Can you tell we don't have TV!)

This weekend they graduated to full occupancy of the chicken coop. (They had been corralled to about half before.) We also transitioned them to the full size feeder and waterer. We needed to fill their water and feed twice a day. Since we are hoping to spend some time in the hospital some day soon, we wanted them to survive without constant care! Plus they were wasting so much feed on the floor and kicking litter in their water. The larger feeder and waterer seems to be working much better.

We are hoping that our chickens will enjoy foraging and free ranging. In hopes that they will acquire a taste for fresh greens, we began picking grass for them. Of course, the children love to help, and they usually have quite a pile for them! The chicks really do seem to enjoy the grass and it does not take them long for them to eat it up!

Some of the chicks are quite a bit larger then the others. I'm guessing they are the roosters. They also seem to be the ones who spend their time jumping over each other and showing off! While I was watching them this afternoon, one of the Black Austrolorp chicks jumped on top of the five gallon waterer. He was quickly replaced by Mr. Speckles, who flapped and looked as if he would certainly crow if only he could! But his reign as "King of the Flock" was short lived when another black chick took his place! Sometimes one of the chicks will find a piece of paper in their bedding. Soon, the chase is on in an all out game of tag! If these young'uns are not roosters in training, I sure miss my guess! The smaller chicks seem to ignore these antics and concentrate on scratching!

Mr. Speckles is the mystery bird that the Hatchery sent. At first he looked like the other brown chicks except for the spots on it's face. Now he is sprouting out some orange colored feathers. He is probably the largest of all the chicks and has a dominate attitude!

One poor chick is far smaller then any of the others. It seems to be eating and we haven't noticed that any of the others are picking on it, but it certainly isn't thriving. It spends most of it's time huddled under the heat lamp, feathers fluffed out, looking completely miserable. Do any of you know what could be it's problem? Should we go ahead and put it out of it's misery, or give it a chance to pull through?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Make It Yourself - Household Cleaners

I've been wanting to try making up my own cleaners for some time and just haven't taken the time to experiment yet! But I'm determined to give it a try when I finish the cleaners I'm presently using. I have two reasons: 1. I'm trying to encourage my children to help more with cleaning and don't want to worry about the chemicals to which they are being exposed. 2. The cost of homemade cleaners is pennies, especially when you compare prices on “natural” cleaners! Here is some recipes shared by readers or I found on the web! If you find one you enjoy, I would love to hear about it!

Window Cleaner #1
1/4 cup alcohol
1/4 cup ammonia
12 oz. water
Pour into a spray bottle. (an empty alcohol bottle works great ) -Joyce

Window Cleaner #2
Mix 1/2 tsp. mild dish detergent (I use Dawn)
3 Tbsp. Vinegar
2 cups water
Put all these ingredients into a spray bottle and shake it up some and you're ready to wash windows.
- Teresa

All-purpose cleaner

2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon borax
16 ounces hot, filtered water
¼ cup liquid castile soap (if using ordinary dish soap (concentrated) use only a few drops.)
Mix vinegar and borax in a clean 16 oz. spray bottle. Fill with water and shake until the borax has dissolved. Add the liquid soap. Shake to mix again. Spay and wipe.

Bathroom Tub and Tile Cleaner
1 2/3 cups baking soda
½ cup liquid soap
½ cup filtered water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Mix baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with water and add the vinegar. Mix with a fork until any lumps are gone and mixture has a pourable consistency (you may need to add more water). Pour into a clean 16 oz. squeeze container (I use an empty dish soap container). Shake well before using: keep the lid tightly closed to prevent the mixture from drying out. To use, squirt on tile, tub, sink, or toilet bowl and scrub. Rinse well. If any baking soda residue remains, rinse with a mixture of vinegar and water and next time use a little less baking soda in the recipe.

Stain Remover
1/4 cup liquid dish detergent
1/4 cup glycerin
1 1/2 cups water
Pour all into a squirt or spray bottle.
The book this recipe came from claims that this stain remover works well on ink, marker, newsprint, coffee, tea, juice, jams, bbq sauce and mustard. If it can handle those stains, it can likely handle most anything though it may not do grease or oil stains.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Enjoying Spring!

Are you enjoying this spring weather as much as I am! I can't seem to soak in enough sunshine or breathe in enough fresh air! I'm slowly working my way around the perennial beds cleaning out the leaves and garden debris. Progress has been excruciatingly slow, which I'm choosing to blame on lack of energy and not that I have too many flower beds! After planting our early vegetable garden and paying for it with sore muscles for the next two days, I've seen the need to pace myself until I get back in shape. (And this round basket ball shape does not qualify as “in shape”!)
I get such a thrill out of watching the children rediscover the outdoors after winter. Their questions are non-stop “What are these green leaves?” “Is this a good bug?” They roll over rocks looking for worms and other creepy crawlers. We found a large brown toad in one bed. Though I'm not particularly squeamish (except for snakes), petting a lumpy toad is not on my list of loves!
I've been reading “Last Child in the Woods” Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. He shares that parents often instill a fear of nature in their children, whether knowingly or not. I certainly hope to promote a wonder and fascination of God's creation in our children – even for the amphibian creatures – so I gulped down my distaste and joined the children's excitement in toad watching!
Our chicks continue to grow amazingly fast! After finding one chick perched on top of their feeder one morning, we feared they would soon be jumping over the sides of their box. We moved them from the box in the basement to the chicken house with their brooder light on a long extension cord. They seem to be enjoying the extra room!
Our first garden seeds have been in the ground for two weeks now, but so far, there is no sign of green. The few seeds I started on the window sill are growing slowly probably because of the small amount of sunlight they receive. But the tiny plants in the hoop house are growing very well! Apparently, even without heat, it has given enough protection to encourage growth. Hopefully it won't be too many more weeks before we enjoy our first spinach salad with some spring onions! How I love this time of year!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make It Yourself - Seasoning Mixes

Thanks to all those who shared your seasoning mix recipes!

If you buy your spices in bulk (such as at Martins Farm Market) you can see substantial savings over buying the little seasoning packets at the grocery store! You can also tailor the ingredients to your family's tastes. Plus you can avoid MSG and all the other strange chemicals on the ingredient list that look as if the typist just placed their hands on the keyboard and hit keys at random!

To save time, mix up several batches at once and place in air tight containers or jars. You'll never run out of your favorite seasoning mix again!

Is there any of your favorites that are not listed here? Send them in! I'm still looking for a good rice seasoning mix. I haven't been pleased with the ones I've tested.

Low Sodium Ranch Dressing Mix

Disclaimer: I have only used this in casseroles and have not used it to totally replace using Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix in other recipes. -Teresa

2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt-free lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

15 saltine crackers
2 cups dry parsley flakes
1/2 cup instant minced onions
2 tbsp. dry dill weed
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

Place crackers through blender in high speed until powder. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until powder. Put into container with tight fitting lid. Store dry mix at room temperature for up to a year.
To mix: Combine 1 tbsp. dry mix , 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk.
You can adjust the dry mix to your taste. I don't put quite that much in. Depends on how strong you like it. - Shirley

Ranch Dressing Mix

11/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tb. dried minced onion
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. paprika
3 tsp. parsley

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend till mixed. Store in air tight container.
To make dressing:
1 Tb. mix
1c. mayo
1c. buttermilk
1Tb. Worcestershire sauce
Mix well and let sit for several hours before use.

Taco Seasoning

1Tb. minced dried onion
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or hot paprika
Combine and blend together till "smooth" and well mixed. Use as you would bought taco seasoning. - Regina

Fried Chicken Coating Mix (Shake and Bake)

2c. Flour
1Tb. ginger
2Tb. salt
1Tb. ground mustard
2Tb. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1Tb. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1Tb. tarragon

Mix all ingredients well and put in a ziplock bag. To use, dip chicken in a mixture of egg and milk beaten together. Put chicken one piece at a time into bag and shake until well coated. Fry chicken in skillet (with about 1 Tb.of oil) till browned (about 15 min.) Place chicken in a baking pan and put uncovered into oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 min. - Laraine

Taco Seasoning Mix

This is a recipe that our family has used for years.
2 tsp minced onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp crushed dried red pepper
½ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cumin

Brown 2 lb ground beef with above seasonings. Add ½ cup water, if desired. Serve.

Basic Barbecue Rub

¼ cup brown sugar
3 T pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp celery seed
¼ cup paprika
4 T coarse salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne powder

Mix well. Use 2-3 tsp per pound of meat. Rub on meat several hours or even a day in advance. Or sprinkle on meat for a seasoning. We like this dry rub better then a marinade for grilling steaks!

A few more recipes with which I'm still experimenting. Maybe you'd like to try them as well!

Dry Onion Soup Mix

4 tsp beef bouillon granules
8 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp seasoned pepper

Mix well. Recipe equals one pack.

Onion Soup Mix – Large Batch

3 cup dried minced onion
1 cup dry beef bouillon (Herb Ox is a brand that contains no MSG.)
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 T sugar

Blend ingredients in blender. ¼ cup of mix is equal to one pouch.

Chili Mix

1 cup and 2 T flour
¾ cup minced onion
4-6 T chili powder
¼ cup paprika
2 T salt
1 T cumin
1 T minced garlic
1 T sugar

Combine all ingredients. To serve: Brown 1 lb ground beef, stir in ½ cup chili mix, 1 can beans, 1 small chopped bell pepper, 1 can diced tomatoes (undrained) and ¾ cup water. Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes. (I would use tomato juice instead of tomatoes and water.)

Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 T cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ginger
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves

Fajita Seasoning

4 T chili powder
2 T cumin
2 T oregano
2 T garlic powder

Mix well. 2-3 T equals a packet from the store.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Busy Mom's Tips for Meal Preparation

Several years ago, I jotted down a list of meal preparation tips that I gathered from various sources (which I've now forgotten). Every once in a while, when I'm getting overwhelmed and discouraged, I get out this list and am reminded of ways to improve my efficiency in the area of meal preparation!

This list probably looks obvious to most of you but when I lack consistency in following through in these tips, my frustration with meals soon appears! This especially shows up in the area of menu planning! I know today that I will be cooking meals every day next week, why wait until the last minute to decide what I'm having and battle a frozen chunk of meat!

(And to all those who think I'm just naturally organized – I really truly am not! I am learning how to be more efficient with my time, space and responsibilities, but would never say it comes natural! I often feel like any level of organization that I do have is so fragile that it may be blown off at any time! For illustration, several weeks ago, half way through a church service, I happened to look down at my feet to the startling realization that I was wearing two different shoes. Two radically different shoes! Both were slides that had similar height heals but one was a slim black dress shoe and the other was a clunky brown buckled shoe in a bad need of some polish! After turning several shades of red, I escaped to the van immediately after the service and waited for my husband to miss me! Maybe I should have stayed in church so that all you ladies could see proof of what a flap-brained person I really am!) But back to meal prep!
  • Decide by breakfast what you will serve for the evening meal. (Even better, decide the night before and get meat thawed so you can use the slow cooker.)
  • When making a casserole that freezes well, double (or triple) the recipe and freeze the extras.
  • Always plan enough for the evening meal so that you and the children can have leftovers for lunch. (And your husband too, if he likes leftovers as well as mine does!)
  • Keep your kitchen clean and organized. It makes meal prep so much more enjoyable!
  • Maintain a well stocked pantry with the basic ingredients for quick meals. Nothing ruins meal preparation like finding you need an ingredient!
  • Utilize your slow cooker and you may find it to be a busy mom's best friend!
  • Prepare the evening meal as early as possible in the day or whenever you are most refreshed! Many things can be prepared and placed in the fridge until time to put in the oven. At our house, 5:00 is the crazy hour when children are hungry and bored and mom is exhausted! I try to prepare supper and clean up the dishes when the children are napping!
  • Plan the next week's menu on the weekend. Especially note days that you have appointments so that you can plan ahead and use the crock pot.
  • Have an emergency plan for quick meal for an unexpectedly bad day or sometime that you arrive home about the time you should have food on the table! It should be something that does not need thawed, is very quick to prepare and your husband likes! Just don't use it too often! For me, this meal is salmon cakes and noodles!
  • Keep a list of your family's favorite meals noting ones that only take 15 minutes to prepare, easy to freeze, crock pot or easy Sunday dinners.
  • Keep it simple!!! Gourmet meals are great, but a happy mom is even better!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baby Chick Update

Our chicks are growing quickly! I think they've doubled in size the past week! We lost two but the other 24 seem healthy! When I walk into the room, they stretch their necks to peer over the sides of their box and see who is coming! They are sprouting out little wing feathers and run around their box flapping their tiny wings!

I can't believe the amount of food they are eating! But then, a good deal is getting wasted on the floor as well! I love to sit and watch them scratch enthusiastically in the wood shavings. They outgrew their first box so Ed cut out one side of the box and attached another box to give them more room!

I'm so glad we had the chicks delivered in March. I am sure having fun "mothering" these little babies! I love walking down right before bed and seeing them all snuggled up together sleeping! Almost like watching your sleeping child! We had talked about waiting until May to get the chicks but I think a new baby will give me enough of mothering at that point that I'll be glad the chicks are half grown by then!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Garden Rotation

Most farmers know the value of rotating their crops, but sometimes we gardeners forget that crop rotation is just as important in our gardens! Several years ago, I clipped out an article from the extension office that described crop rotation in simple terms. I'll share some of what I learned here!

First, why is it important to rotate crops? Planting the same crops at the same place every year can allow a build up of disease and insect pests in the soil. When insects emerge from the soil in the spring, hopefully they will be discouraged if their host plant is not readily available. Each crop also has it's own nutritional requirements. Locating your crops in a different area of the garden can help avoid depleting your soil of specific nutrients. Some plants actually add to the soil and assist the plants grown the following year.

Crop rotation is not difficult. Garden plants can be separated into four groups which share similar needs. By dividing your garden into four plots, you can rotate through the four groups. The goal is to allow three years before replanting any of the members of the same group in a bed.

Group 1 - Tomato/Potato
tomato, potato, pepper

Group 2 - Greens
cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower

Group 3 - Legumes
peas, beans

Group 4 - Corn/Squash
corn, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins

Onions, carrots, beets and radishes may be planted among any group.

That is the ideal! Since we don't live in an ideal world, our plans will probably need to be adapted! For me, the challenge comes because 1) my garden doesn't divide evenly in four groups as I have far more corn then broccoli! and 2) I like to do successive plantings such as following some late potatoes after I pull out my peas!

Still, this guide gives me something to work toward! I am most particular about not planting tomatoes and potatoes at the same places since I have had problems with blight in the past. Also, since corn is a heavy feeder, I like to follow corn by peas to help add back to the soil. It isn't hard to remember that the tomatoes were in the middle of the garden last year, so this year I'll place them in the back of the garden, and next year put them right in front!

If you have the space, you could evenly divide your garden into four plots. When one plot isn't completely filled by that year's crop, you can fill in with a "green manure" cover crop. I've already written about how much we like to use buckwheat - and there are many other cover crop choices! Most of us don't have the luxury of extra gardening space, but if you do, or you can extend your garden a little bigger to make this system work, you may find it beneficial!

I've only touched on the very basics of crop rotation! What has worked for you?

Make It Yourself - Ricotta Cheese

This week, a friend asked if I had ever made cottage cheese, and if I'd share the recipe, if I had!

Hmmm.... I wasn't sure I wanted to admit that cheese making, too, is one of my interests! But, since I was asked, and since I probably lost any reputation of being “normal” back when I shared how to make pasta and that I love cloth diapers, what more can I lose!

I haven't actually made cottage cheese but I have made ricotta which, I think, is similar. Anyone know what really is the difference between ricotta and cottage cheese?

Though I'm interested in cheese making and read a little about it, I have little personal experience. The biggest reason I haven't made more attempts is that I don't have an unlimited supply of milk. My parents generously give us fresh raw milk but we don't live real close and I often need to ration our milk until our next visit.

In my experience with cheese making, at least half of the milk is lost in whey, which I haven't found a real good use for yet. We talk about someday (meaning many years from now!) having a family cow but until then (if then) I doubt I'll become a regular cheese maker! But since I know some of those reading this are farm wives, maybe this recipe can be useful to you!

Even if cheese making is not your goal, if you want a fun project to share with your children, this would be a great choice! Watching liquid milk transform before your eyes into curds and whey is near miraculous and a great science experiment!

This recipe, unlike most cheeses, contains no rennet or cheese cultures and only uses common household ingredients and supplies. So, give it a try – even it is just to brag that you made cheese!

Whole Milk Ricotta

Heat 2 Quart of milk to 200 degrees
Add 3 T white vinegar. Bring temperature back to 200 degrees.

Remove from heat. Cover. Rest for 15 minutes.
Curds should separate right away. Line colander with a very fine cheesecloth or pillowcase.

Drain for an hour or more.
Break up cheese and salt to taste. (¼ to ½ tsp)
Enjoy! Keeps for 1 week in the refrigerator.

I love to eat this cheese just as it is or in recipes such as lasagna. I have read that to make it more like bought cottage cheese, just add cream to the cheese to the consistency that you prefer.
(By the way, if you are looking for a good cooking thermometer, I highly recommend this one from Polder. I use it constantly! It even includes a timer and clock. My favorite feature is the programmable temperature. An alarm sounds when it reaches a certain minimum or maximum temperature! Ideal for cooks like me who tend to get distracted, walk away from the stove and forget what I'm heating!)

Hope you try cheese making! I'd love to hear your experience with this recipe! And if any of you are experienced cheese makers – I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Through Child's Eyes - Grass Friends

I love sharing simple projects with my children, especially when it involves enjoying nature and observing the world around us! Here is a simple project we've done the past two winters! A great way to bring a little "green" to your home!

You will need:
Styrofoam or paper cup
potting soil
grass seed (possibly other seeds would work, but grass is what I had easily available)

Draw a face on the cup.
Dampen potting soil.
Fill cup with potting soil.
Generously sprinkle seed on soil.
Cover seed lightly with potting soil.
Sit on a sunny window sill and watch grow!

This year, our grass did not grow very thickly. Either we didn't plant enough seeds, covered the seeds too thickly or the seed was too old. The children still had fun with it but wasn't as great as last year when their grass friends hair grew thick and long! They had fun giving them hair cuts and even tried tying pony tails!

Give it a try! And I would love to hear about the projects your children enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mail Order Chicks

Our chicks arrived today!

Last Monday, we had some very low temperatures and I started to worry that we were completely bonkers to order chicks this early! But, a week later, we are having balmy spring like weather! But that has not kept me from worrying about our chicks! After years of wanting our own chicks and months spent researching different chicken breeds, I sure did not want anything to happen to them before they even arrived! Last night I even dreamed that I went to the post office for a box of dead chicks!

But, as usual, worry is vain! We received the anticipated call from the post office a little after 8:00 and by 9:00, we had brought our little babies home! I'm not sure who was more excited, me or the children! We could hear the chirping even before the post lady brought our box to the window! Now, that is a good sign! On the way home, my daughter said that they were chirping too loud! Their chirping was quite shrill but with food and water, it changed to a quiet contented tone.

Looking at the box they arrived in, I did wonder how they arrived the whole way from Iowa! Of course, it had to have air holes and appeared rather drafty for a newborn! We had ordered from Murray McMurray Hatchery who has done this for years, so I assume they know what they are doing! Only one chick didn't survive the trip, but since the hatchery had given us two extra chicks, we still have more then we ordered!

Our chicks first home is in a box in the basement with a heat lamp. I want to keep my eye on them these first weeks before they move to the chicken house. As I placed each chick in the box, I dipped it's beak in their water. Soon they were all drinking water and eating feed like any youngster that has been on a long trip!

I wrote about choosing chicken breeds earlier. Of course, I don't know what our final opinion of these breeds will be, but I do know now they have to be the cutest chicks ever! By looking at photos, I think I've positively identified them.
Partridge Rock
Black Australorp
Speckled Sussex

McMurray's sends a free "mystery" chick of some rare or exotic variety. There is one chick that is speckled around it's head which I assume is our mystery chick. It will be fun to see what it grows into and try to identify the breed!
I haven't accomplished much today! The children love watching and holding the chicks, but the almost two year old is far to rough to be left with them unattended! If we can survive the next few weeks with no casualties, it may be a miracle!

Signs of Spring!

Forsythia blooms on the kitchen table, (forced branches brought indoors several weeks ago)
new baby chicks,
the first crocus,

and yesterday, our daughter spotted the first robin!

I know we may have more winter weather ahead, but today when listening to the birds sing while hanging laundry out on the line, it sure felt like spring had truly arrived!

Here's an idea I read somewhere that I am hoping to start this year. Make a "Spring First's List". On a piece of paper, list all the signs of spring you can think of (first dandelion, robin, honey bee, road kill groundhog?) When that item is spotted, date and sign it. Keep the list for coming years. Help encourage alertness in your children and enjoy comparing the coming of spring in various years!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sandwich Buns

Our favorite roll recipe for sandwiches! I've also made this recipe for small dinner rolls as well! I usually double the recipe in my Bosch mixer. I also use at least half whole wheat flour and add a little vital gluten.

1 cup very warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 egg
2 T butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 cup flour (plus more later)
1/2 T salt
2 T yeast

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Begin adding MORE flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Don't add any more flour then necessary or the dough will be heavy. Knead for 5 minutes with bread hook or by hand. Turn onto greased counter and divide dough into four parts. Cover and allow dough to rest for 20 minutes. Roll dough to ¾ inch thick and cut with large biscuit cutter. Place on greased baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg or milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Allow to rise until double, usually about an hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Frayed Baby Quilt

One of the things I most look forward to during pregnancy is making a baby quilt for the new little one! Baby quilts are such fun! They are small quick projects that give me an opportunity to use soft cuddly fabrics.

I just completed the quilt for our expected spring baby and am thrilled with the result. I used a pattern from the book Frayed-Edge Fun which I borrowed from my sis-in-law. This pattern has been making it's rounds at our church and I think I'm the fifth lady to use it! I had the advantage of gaining tips from the others' experience. I found the directions in the book hard to follow at some points! Or maybe I'm just slow to figure things out. Since I believe the book is now out of print, I thought I would share how I made this quilt, just in case you have a baby quilt in your future! It is not a difficult quilt, though a few times I did long for some simple squares instead of all those circles!

1. Choosing fabrics
Soft brushed cottons or cotton flannels work best for this quilt as the seams are frayed to result in a cuddly quilt. You can choose two fabrics, one for the top and one for the bottom, or as many as six different fabrics, three for the top and three for the bottom. The bottom fabrics will show on the top of the quilt. I had trouble finding matching flannels and chose to use only four different fabrics. If you want to make assembly easier on yourself, choose fabrics that are NOT directional. Somehow, all my fabrics ended up having a direction to them (plaids, stripes, etc) which certainly complicated matters but neither were they impossible to work with. However many fabrics you choose, if you have a combined total of about eight yards, you should have plenty. Unless you want to extend this quilt to a larger size.

2. Cutting
Make a 7 inch circle to use as a pattern. I layered my top and bottom fabrics together, wrong sides together, marked and cut the two fabrics at the same time. Cut 25 circles for the center, 24 circles for the inner border, and 28 circles for the outer border.

3. Sewing Circles
Holding your front and back circles together, stitch a 3/8 seam completely around the edges.

4. Marking
Make a 4 1/4 inch square to use as a pattern. Trace the pattern in the center of your circles. The points of the square should just touch the stitching in step three. This line will be your stitching line to sew the circles together into strips. I only marked every other circle.
5. Sewing Rows
Sew the circles together along the marked line.
6. Sewing Flaps
Fold the "flaps" of the circles over the circle. Stitch the flaps down following the stitching line you created when sewing the circles together in step 3. It is much easier to sew the first flaps down one row at a time, before sewing the rows together.

7. Sewing Rows
Sew the rows together following the straight line you traced in step 4. I stitched through the seam allowances and folded flaps. It won't be noticed in the finished quilt.

8. Final Flap Stitching
Smooth the flaps down and beginning at one end, stitch the flaps down following a figure eight pattern down the row. Do the same to the opposite side. I left the outer edges open to create a scallop.
9. Clipping
Clip all seam allowances about every 1/4 inch being careful not to clip through the seam itself.
I like how sewing down the flaps results in a nice quilted pattern on the back of the quilt.

10. Washing and Drying
Almost done! Place the quilt in the washer and dryer to fluff up the seams allowances! The result: a super cuddly quilt for a new baby!


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