Recipe: Mom's Black Bean Chili

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mom's Black Bean Chili
This one's an easy-for-a-crowd classic from my childhood that mom would make regularly. It takes an hour to cook, but it comes together rather simply and is pretty tasty. Usually served over dumpling-sized egg noodles.

'Makes ~3 meals' worth of leftovers, especially if you end up with a 1.25lb package of sausage like I did.

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients
1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 cans of black beans (slightly drained)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz beef broth (made from a bouillion cube, or from can)
1/2 to 3/4 cup carrots - diced
1 onion - diced
2 large bay leaves
  1. Brown the sausage, and drain the fat.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients in.
  3. Turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes
  4. Hand smash the chili in the pan - getting the black beans to thicken the sauce.
  5. Cook for another 15 - 20 minutes, remove the bay leaves and serve.

Mom's Black Bean Chili

Minecraft Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Minecraft Inspired Farm Animal Quilt
This is the second side to the Minecraft-Inspired Baby Quilt for some real life/Minecraft friends. Minecraft quilts are fairly common to find around the Internet, as the pixelated graphics of the game lend themselves quite nicely toward a square block quilt.

Many of the Minecraft quilts out there are rather large with 8+ characters, ending up around ~55 blocks wide. Single character quilts, such as this Creeper quilt from SewMod are one way to reduce the amount of work. For this baby quilt, I've kept it relatively simple, with four 8x8 animal blocks split by some sashing. About 19 blocks square, and just a little short of the correct width of a crib blanket (my fault for assembling the pig in a wonky way, and not buying enough sashing fabric!!). I took some inspiration from a few places, and dredged up random bits from my scrap stash, resulting in this super pixelated baby quilt. If you want a simpler, cleaner look, My Rainy Day Designs has some simplified Minecraft creatures. With a breakdown of the squares from elsewhere, you can still use the instructions on this post, or any website that describes how to assemble a square block quilt.

It is difficult to get exact Minecraft colors. I did my best by purchasing Solid Color Scraps by the pound from etsy/StashModernFabric. Any colors that were missing from that bundle, I filled in with Kona cottons and Symphony broadcloth from JoAnn Fabrics. In some cases, I didn't have enough of some colors, but many colors are swappable for others. For example, I used ivory instead of medium gray in the sheep, I added in a totally unnecessary shade of pink for the pig, mixed the white of the cow with ivory, used two different shades of super light gray in the chicken, used a sandy brown on the cow's muzzle instead of gray, etc. etc. Perhaps this is also enough to help us avoid copyright infringement? Perhaps?!

Some part of me suspects that a couple of these animals might even look like animals if you don't know Minecraft. But maybe not the sheep. The sheep is weird.

Minecraft Inspired Baby Quilt

The illustrated guide may be more useful than the photo guide below, as the photos are not 100% complete. Although, they're more complete than the Diamond Ore Tutorial!
  1. Materials
    Animal Square Yardage: 1/8yd yields 11-12 squares (use for determining how much of the fabrics from the diagram needed - Note: these colors do not have to be exactly the same as the pixels in the game. You have a decent quantity of leeway, and I definitely adapted my color choices based on what scraps I had laying around.)
    1. White fabric: 65 squares (can use a mix of white & ivory/bone) = 5/8yd
    2. Light gray fabric: 30 squares = 3/8yd
    3. Medium gray fabric: 17 squares = 1/4yd
    4. Goldenrod fabric: 4 squares = -1/8yd
    5. Dark goldenrod fabric = 4 squares = -1/8yd
    6. Red fabric: 4 squares = -1/8yd
    7. Beige fabric: 23 squares = 1/4yd
    8. Tan fabric: 13 squares = 1/8yd (beige and tan are somewhat interchangeable)
    9. Dark brown fabric: 32 squares = 3/8yd
    10. Black fabric: 10 squares = 3/8yd
    11. White pink fabric: 10 squares = 3/8yd
    12. Light pink fabric: 30 squares = 3/8yd
    13. Medium pink fabric: 12 squares = 1/8yd
    14. Pink fabric: 8 squares = 1/8yd
    15. Dark pink fabric: 2 squares = -1/8yd
    16. Sashing fabric: 3/4yd
    1/2yd Fabric for continuous bias binding
    ~4yd Fabric for the quilt backing
    Sewing machine
    60x60” low loft quilt batting
    Thread, Pins, Scissors
    Thread or safety pins for basting
    Rotary cutter, mat, ruler
    0. Materials
  2. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
    0. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
  3. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.25-3.5” squares, in colors from instructions guide at top of post.
    1. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.25-3.5” squares, in colors from guide at left.
  4. Lay fabric squares out, according to diagram
    2. Lay fabric squares out, according to diagram
  5. Flip right-most column of squares onto neighboring left column.
    (the guide has a good illustration of this step). I use chain piecing to keep my pieces in order and not spend too much time on backstitching ends!
    Flip right-most column of squares onto neighboring left column.
    You will be sewing along the right edges of the squares. I like to work
    in quadrants (i.e., only 8x8 squares, or one animal, at one time).
    3. Flip right-most column of squares onto neighboring left column.
  6. Stack the top pair onto the pair below, all the way to the bottom.
    Stack the top pair onto the pair below, stack these 4 squares, onto
    the pair below them. Continue to bottom of column, repeat for
    remaining columns. You should have 8 piles.
    4. Stack the top pair onto the pair below, all the way to the bottom.
  7. Sew pairs of squares together. Iron Seams open.
    Sew pairs of squares together, along right edge. No need to snip thread between pairs, just keep feeding pairs of iron seams open.
    5. Sew pairs of squares together. Iron Seams open.
  8. Pin & sew columns together, right sides together. Iron seams open.
    At this point, it doesn't matter so much how you assemble the squares, just so long as you do it the same way for all the quadrants. If you trim blocks to be evenly/square in between sewing, you'll likely also end up with animal quadrants being different sizes. I tend not to do any trimming until the animal quadrant is completed.
    6. Pin & sew odd rows together, right sides together. Pin seams on one row to  seams on the next, ensuring matching corners.
  9. Pin & sew odd rows together, right sides together. Pin seams on one row to seams on the next, ensuring matching corners.
    I don't have a photo for this step for this quilt top, but you can find a very similar tutorial and step in the previous Minecraft Inspired Diamond Ore Quilt Tutorial.

    If you're like me and not 100% precise, you'll run into the occasional square that cannot be stretched out to match corners of the square it's being sewn to. In this case, I opt to sew in a pucker at the seam. If done well, the pucker crease will line up perfectly with the 4-corners, and will be nearly unnoticeable after machine washing & drying.
  10. Sew together remaining rows, and repeat for 3 remaining animal quadrants.
    7. Sew together remaining rows, and repeat for 3 remaining animal quadrants.
  11. Cut & assemble sashing
    Sashing strips should be same width as a single uncut block, and should be the length of the shortest edge of an Animal Quadrant. You'll have to trim all animal blocks to this size (try to cut equal amounts from either side of the quadrant, centering the design). If you purchased 3/4yd of sashing fabric, then you can cut the long ways (up to 27" long). If you purchased 5/8yd, then you'll have to cut the short ways, and your sashing will only be 22" long. You'll have to trim your animal blocks down to the size of the sashing.

    You'll need: 12 pieces of sashing and 9 sashing-squares. Assemble these sashing+square pieces as follows: 2 sashing, 3 sashing-square-sashing (these are horizontal sashing pieces), and 2 square-sashing-square-sashing-square. Sew with right sides together. Iron seams open.
    8. Cut & Assemble sashing.
  12. Trim animal quadrant blocks to length of single sashing.
    Longer sashing = less trimming of the animal blocks!
    9. Trim animal quadrant blocksto 22” (length of single sashing).
  13. Attach single sashing to quadrants.
    Sew sashing to right side of sheep block, right sides together. Sew to left side of
    pig block. Repeat with remaining animal quadrant blocks.
    10. Attach single sashing to quadrants.
  14. Attach central sashing-square-sashing between both halves (right sides together, pin, iron seams open).
    Repeat for 2 top and bottom sashing-square-sashing pieces.
    11a. Attach central sashing-square-sashing between both halves (right sides together, pin, iron seams open).
  15. Sew square-sashing-square-sashing-square to right-most side of quilt (right sides together, pin, iron seams open, etc.)
    11b. Sew square-sashing-square-sashing-square to right-most side of quilt (right sides together, pin, iron seams open, etc.)
  16. Repeat for left-most square-sashing-square-sashing-square piece
    Always be sure to pin the square's seams to the sashing, so the seams line up in perfect corners!
    11c. Repeat for left-most square-sashing-square-sashing-square piece
  17. Iron seams open.
    12. Iron Seams Open.
  18. Quilt top is complete!
    Close Up of Completed Quilt Top
  19. Complete the quilt.
    Make a quilt backing larger than the top; quilt sandwich the backing, batting, and top; quilt; make continuous bias binding and attach binding!
    Complete the quilt!
  20. Remember to include wash/dry care labels during binding phase!
    Remember to include wash/dry care labels during binding phase!
  21. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold delicates / low tumble)
    I never pre-shrink my fabric & batting, because the shrinking that happens in the wash covers up a bunch of mistakes!
    14. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold delicates / low tumble)
  22. Done!
Minecraft Inspired Baby Quilt Minecraft Inspired Throw Quilt
Completed Farm Animal Baby Quilt
Completed Farm Animal Baby Quilt Completed Farm Animal Baby Quilt
Diagram of Fabric Colors for Both Minecraft Inspired Quilts

Minecraft Inspired Diamond Ore Baby Quilt

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Minecraft Inspired Diamond Ore Throw Quilt
Some dear real life and Minecraft friends are expecting a baby this summer. It just so happens that pixelated Minecraft graphics are 100% calling to be turned into a quilt. Hence, the Minecraft Inspired Baby Quilt Tutorial here.

Many Minecraft quilts are large, as in 55+ blocks wide (although the exception might be this giant Creeper quilt from SewMod). Baby quilts are usually simpler with large blocks, and so is the one in this post. 16 blocks square, and just a little short of the correct width of a crib blanket (my fault for assembling a previous quadrant in a wonky way).

It is difficult to get exact Minecraft colors. I did my best by purchasing Solid Color Scraps by the pound from etsy/StashModernFabric. Any colors that were missing from that bundle, I filled in with Kona cottons and Symphony broadcloth from JoAnn Fabrics. I super under-bought the medium gray, and ended up filling it in with some purple-undertone Gray lying about in my stash. I also went for 4 shades of turquoise, instead of white, light blue, sky blue, and turquoise - the colors as written would probably come out more accurately. But at least this way we're somewhat sidestepping copyright issues?

This quilt is actually two-sided. The second side is essentially another Minecraft quilt top with farm animals, so it gets its own post in a couple weeks.

Mine-craft Inspired Diamond Ore Throw Quilt
The written instructions on the illustrated guide may be of more help than the photos below. They are somewhat incomplete.
  1. Materials
    5/8yd Medium Gray Fabric
    7/8yd Gray Fabric
    1yd Dark Gray Fabric
    1/4yd Charcoal Gray Fabric
    1/8yd White Fabric
    1/4yd Light Blue Fabric
    1/8yd Sky Blue Fabric
    1/8 yd Turquoise Fabric
    1/2yd Fabric for continuous bias binding
    ~3yd Fabric for the quilt backing
    60x60” low loft quilt batting
    Sewing machine
    Thread, Pins, Scissors
    Thread or safety pins for basting
    Rotary cutter, mat, ruler
    0. Materials
  2. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
    0. Always starch & iron fabric before measuring & cutting!
  3. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.5-3.75” squares, in colors from guide at top.
    1. Cut starched & ironed fabric into 3.25-3.5” squares, in colors from guide at left.
  4. Lay fabric squares out, according to diagram
    1. Cut & Layout Fabric Squares
  5. Flip right-most column onto neighboring column for entire quadrant, then stack top-most pair on top of underneath pair, etc.
    (the guide has a good illustration of this step). I use chain piecing to keep my pieces in order and not spend too much time on backstitching ends!
    Flip right-most column of squares onto neighboring left column.
    You will be sewing along the right edges of the squares. I like to work
    in quadrants (i.e., only 8x8 squares at one time). tack the top pair onto the pair below, stack these 4 squares, onto
    the pair below them. Continue to bottom of column, repeat for
    remaining columns. You should have 8 piles.
    2. Flip right-most column onto neighboring column for entire quadrant, then stack top-most pair on top of underneath pair, etc.
  6. Sew pairs of blocks together using a 1/4" inseam (pretty much always)!
    Sew pairs of squares together, along right edge.
    No need to snip thread between pairs, just keep feeding
    pairs of squares into sewing machine. Iron seams open.
    3. Sew pairs of blocks together.
  7. Iron seams open, and double check that squares are in correct order.
    4. Iron seams open.
  8. Pin & sew columns together, right sides together.
    It's worth noting that the order you sew the squares together from here on out doesn't really matter, so long as you do all 4 quadrants in the same way, otherwise they'll end up being different sizes. Just be sure to double-check the ordering of the squares is correct.
    5. Pin & sew columns together, right sides together.
  9. Iron seams open.
    6. Iron seams open.
  10. Pin & sew rows together.
    Pin & sew odd rows together, right sides together. Pin seams on one row to seams on the next, ensuring matching corners. Repeat for even rows.
    7. Pin & sew rows together.
  11. If everything's cut perfectly and sewn with 1/4" inseam, all the squares should line up throughout this entire process.
    If this is not the case, I choose to sew little carefully placed puckers into the seams. When I did this correctly, the pucker lines up perfectly with a seam and nearly disappears after the quilt is washed.
    Close-up of completed Diamond Ore Quilt Top
  12. Iron seams open.
    8. Iron seams open.
  13. Use a pin to indicate the upper -right corner of the quadrant block, so you don't have tor re-figure it out later!
    9. Use a pin to indicate the upper -right corner of the quadrant block, so you don't have tor re-figure it out later!
  14. Repeat for remaining three 8x8 quadrants.
    10. Repeat for remaining three 8x8 quadrants.
  15. Pin and sew two neighboring quadrants together, iron seams open.
    Pin & sew top-most quadrants to bottom-most quadrants,
    right sides together. Pin seams to match! Iron seams open.
    11. Pin and sew two neighboring quadrants together, iron seams open.
  16. Pin & sew remaining halves together.
    Pin & sew halves together, right sides together.
    Pin seams to meet, so corners match!
    12. Pin & sew remaining halves together.
  17. Iron seams open.
    Quilt top is done!
    13. Iron seams open.
  18. Complete the quilt.
    Make a quilt backing larger than the top; quilt sandwich the backing, batting, and top; quilt; make continuous bias binding and attach binding!

    I chose to quilt diagonally, at a 45 degree angle, through the corners of the squares on the other side of the quilt. The continuous bias binding is actually leftover from the double wedding ring quilt. I think a solid color in hot pink, or something bold, would work really well, too.
    14. Complete the Quilt
  19. Remember to include wash/dry care labels during binding phase!
    Don't forget to include wash/care labels during the binding phase!
  20. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold delicates / low tumble)
    I never pre-shrink my fabric & batting, because the shrinking that happens in the wash covers up a bunch of mistakes!
    15. Wash & Dry the Quilt (cold+delicates, low tumble)
  21. Done!

Bias Binding on the Diamond Ore Block Quilt
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying
Minecraft-inspired Diamond Block Quilt Tutorial Completed Minecraft Inspired Diamond Baby Quilt
Cat enjoying the Minecraft-inspired quilt, prior to washing & drying

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