Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amy Butler's Blossom Magazine {And a Discount Code}

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I'm 98% sure it's no secret that I heart Amy Butler Design.  I mean, when the opportunity arose for me to carry a small selection of fabric for sale in my shop, I did choose from Amy's Soul Blossom collection... that may have given it away, right?  Read more about that, here.

Another reason I heart Amy, and the other designers that I'm drawn to, is simply her desire and passion to see others creating.  She knows how to inspire... I'm inspired by her tremendously.

Needless to say I may have let out a little "Eeep!" of excitement when I opened my e-mail to see her announcement of Amy Butler's Blossom Magazine.  This digital magazine will published online twice a year... for FREE!  (I know you just did a happy dance, right?  Am I right???)

{Image Copyright Amy Butler Design}

" It will be full of fresh perspectives, inspirations, ideas, projects, sensuous color and more.  It will feature beautiful photography as well as musings from my heart. The content will have simple ideas for making your life beautiful, great resources for sharing not only my fabrics and patterns but other wonderful artists that I come across, and a focus on finding happiness in all the wonderful little pleasures that make up our creative lives." - Amy Butler

Have you signed up for it yet?  What are you waiting for?  Do it!

* * *
You can find a selection of beautiful fabrics from Amy Butler's Soul Blossom Collection in my new SoChick! Fabric Shoppe on Etsy... use discount code ETSY15 to save 15% on your entire order! 

XxOo~ Melissa

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Recipe {Whole Wheat No-Knead Artisan Bread}

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I pinned this recipe for Whole Grain Artisan Bread the other day:

Then, I changed up the recipe a little bit to make this:

Whole Wheat No-Knead Artisan Bread {my way}

Note: *I used King Arthur Brand Flour for this Recipe*When measuring flour, spoon into measuring cup and level with flat edge of knife or spatula.


-5 1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour
-2 c unbleached bread flour
-2 packets of active dry yeast (granules, not cakes)
-1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
-4 c lukewarm water (mine was 98 degrees, anything around 100 degrees F is good... test it on your wrist like you would a baby bottle, that's the temp. we're shooting for. *wink*)
-1-2 Tbsp dry oatmeal or seed mixture to sprinkle on the top (optional)


Making the dough:
  Whisk dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, I used my 5.5 qt kitchen aid bowl, you can use any other large bowl... you can even mix the dough in a plastic lidded container for storing in the fridge.
  Add water to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, or in my case the paddle attachment on my stand mixer.  Stir until all ingredients are incorporated and there are no dry patches.  I went for 45-60 seconds.  The dough is going to be "shaggy, wet, and loose" per the recipe in the first photo... I say it's "goopy".
  Loosely cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter for 2 hours.
  After rising, refrigerate the dough in a lidded container or wrapped in plastic wrap.  The recipe I used says it'll be good for about 14 days... yay!

  Once dough is fully refrigerated (mine was in the fridge for about three hours before I decided to make my bread... I couldn't wait until morning) sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, pull up and pinch off a piece about the size of a grapefruit.**
  **This is where things got tricky for me.  My dough was super wet and loose, so I added about 1/3 c of all-purpose flour to my cutting board and rolled my dough into it, lightly, without kneading, until I could accomplish the next step.
  With floured hands, gently stretch the top of the dough around, tucking the ends under the dough ball, to create a smooth surface.  I also shaped mine into an oval.  Set dough onto parchment paper, which has been dusted with flour, to rest for about 90 minutes.
  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, about 30 minutes prior to baking.  Place a baking stone or cookie sheet on the middle rack and a broiler pan on the bottom rack.  ***DO NOT use glass or pyrex.  I used a 9 x 13inch metal cake pan because my lame-o oven didn't come with a broiler pan***
  Just before you put your dough in the oven, lightly brush the top with water and sprinkle on your oatmeal or seeds; using a sharp knife make a few 1/2 deep cuts in the top of the dough to allow it to expand.
  Slide dough, with parchment paper, onto your stone/pan and pour 1- 1 1/2 c of hot water into the pan below the bread, quickly close the oven door to trap the steam.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
  Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.  My crust came out nice and crisp while the inside was soft and fluffy-ish.  Delish!

Let me know if you try this out!

XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, August 17, 2012

Random Updates {Family & Business}

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Friday already?!  I know, I know... "Yay, Friday!"  But that's hard to do when I feel like I still have so much to do.

Last week was super productive, and while this week was productive, too (in it's own way), I feel like I still have a ton to do, work-wise.  So, here is a list of what I did accomplish this week:

-I'm 12 miles into my #42MilesinAugust goal.  I'm confident that I can meet the goal by the end of the month... even though I had a few rain-outs.

-I embroidered and sewed some more custom grips bags for my oldest Chickie's gym/teammates.  This is my way of fundraising for the various fees and such involved with her Compulsory Gymnastics.  The bags look awesome and save the girls from losing their things at practice and meets.

-Speaking of meets, my chick has a mock meet today to start gearing up for her first competitive season of Compulsory Gymnastics... exciting!

- I made an embroidery design which I will be listing for sale... more about that early next week.

- School supply shopping is on the list for today, I also hope to deliver some new items for sale this weekend at Ali Smith Cake Design in New Bern.

Well, now I feel like I accomplished something... off for school supplies... 4th grade, here we come!

Have a great weekend!

XxOo~ Melissa

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Productive Week {A Semi InstaFriday Post... on Saturday}

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This has been such a productive week, although I didn't finish the new items I thought I would (i'm so close!), I was still able to accomplish 90% of my to-do list.  Sew awesome!  It feels great to get back on track.

Here's a snapshot of my week... I'm ready to enjoy the weekend and I hope you are, too!

Linking with LifeRearranged
life rearranged

I posted this fun Subway Art Mug Rug tutorial:

It's great to plan ahead, even if it's just a snapshot of the year to come.  This week I sat down with my 2013 calendar to look at events I'd like to attend.  SoChick! is going to be busy!

Some TLC was needed on my machine.... yuck!  This is a weekly occurrence, cleaning the bobbin area of lint, but it's never this bad... must be from the cotton thread I was quilting with.

I asked Andrea, of Bubblewrapp'd, if she could do a custom order for me... I know she's a super busy gal, but I love her blocks and figured it was worth a shot.  To my delight, she was happy to work on my custom order: Shop signs.  One large one for my Vendor Booths, and one for my space at a local Cake Shop, Ali Smith Cake Designs.

I was so excited when I came home to find my package waiting for me. (Side note: Our mail lady left two tiny milkbone dog treats on the box for our pups... so sweet.)  I was blown away when I opened the box to reveal my beautiful new signs!!

I asked Andrea if she could make them look like my business card (sitting atop the small block in the picture)... And, wow, what an awesome job she did!  The sides of the blocks are painted turquoise to match my branding and she even added nice holes in the back so that I can hang the large sign, Without risking destroying it by trying to add my own holes... she didn't say this, but I'm glad if she thought it! *wink*

I also had super cooperative little chickies on Friday and was able to get six new bags started, should have these babies in the Shop next week (also you can find a selection of them at Ali Smith Cake Design's Ghent Plaza location, in New Bern, NC, if you're local.)

Finally, rainy days in the house lead to being goofy... this is a perfect example of the Sewing Geek that I am:

**Don't forget to save 25% in the Shop through Monday with discount Code SUMMER25**

Lots of Love!
XxOo~ Melissa

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Subway Art Mug Rug Tutorial

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I am completely fortunate to have wonderful friends in my life, both in person and on the web (shout out to my Tweeps!).  It's great to have people you can count on, and it's even more fun to say "Thank You" and show your appreciation of them with a handmade gift.  

Here is a little something I put together for one of my friends, who also happens to be my neighbor, to say thank you for 1-being awesome and 2- taking care of my fur-kids when we go out of town for a weekend.  My dogs love her... true story.

Inspired by Subway Word Art, and knowing that this friend is a coffee drinker like myself, I put together this little Mug Rug as a token of my appreciation.

This Mug Rug is a quick stitching project, which is perfect for trying a variety of techniques, practicing/ refreshing your skills, and using scraps from your stash!

Subway Art Mug Rug
(Finished Size: 6in W x 10in L)

  Exciting news!  You can purchase a version of this Coffee/Morning inspired Subway Art Machine Embroidery Design in my SoChick Fabric Shoppe on Etsy!  Enjoy!

You will need:

- 5 x 7 in. piece of Muslin or light colored cotton solid for your embroidery, and any necessary supplies (i.e. stabilizer, etc). I used Muslin in this project.

- One Fat Quarter of Focal Fabric (Fabric A)*

- Assorted scraps of Fabric B

- One strip of binding fabric measuring 2 x 36 inches.

- One piece of Quilt Batting 7 x 11inches

- Home embroidery machine with a font design program, or embroidery font files.**

-Basic Sewing Tools: thread, a water soluble marking pen, ruler, rotary cutter (and mat), Iron, board or pressing pad, Temporary Spray Adhesive (optional)

*Choosing your fabric:

I picked two main fabrics for my mug rug.  The first is a focal print (Fabric A), I chose a Coffee Themed print from Michael Miller Fabrics, which has words like "Espresso" and "Coffee" throughout; I snipped these out for the applique.  The second print (Fabric B) is Lime Dots from Amy Butler Design, it coordinates great with the focal fabric.

I chose to bind my mug rug with Limestone Dancing Paisley print from Amy Butler Design.  Having a third print lends clean lines to the edge of the mug rug and keeps your binding from blending in with your focal prints.

The Layout:
Subway Art Mug Rug Layout
To Cut:

Fabric A (blue):
  1- 7 x 11in (backing)
  1- 3.5 x 4.5 in
  2- 1.5 x 6 in strips

Fabric B (green):
  1- 3.5 x 4.5in
  2- 6.5 x 1in strips
  2- 1 x 4.5 in strips

(Note: these measurements include 1/4 in seam allowance on all pieces)


-Embroider your Subway Art onto the 5x7 piece of muslin (or whichever fabric you are using):

  I used Hyperfont, which is part of my Singer Futura Ce-150 design suite, to create coffee/morning related words in different fonts.  I arranged the words to fit within a 3x5 inch space, as this is what will show in my mug rug.  Once the embroidery is complete, trim your piece to 3.5 x 5.5 inches (which accounts for our 1/4 in seam allowance).

**If you do not have an embroidery unit, you may choose to hand embroider or applique words into your 3x5 in piece.  Alternately, you may choose to fussy cut a piece of fabric or monogram this piece, too!

  I cut the words "espresso" and "Cafe au lait" from my Fabric A.  I used temporary spray adhesive to adhere them to the green 3.5 x 4.5 piece in the lower right corner, keeping in mind that there is a 1/4in seam allowance.  Then, I used my machine to sew a simple zigzag stitch around the edges.

Piecing your Mug Rug:
(Remember to use a 1/4in seam allowance when piecing your Mug Rug.)

(Oops, I forgot to add my 1 x 6in green strips to the top and bottom in the picture)
Step 1- Take the 3.5 x 4.5 pieces (on the right in the above drawing) and place them right sides together (RST) with the bottom of Fabric A matching up with the top of Fabric B.  Stitch together.  Press open with seam to Fabric A.  Set aside.

Step 2- Working with the embroidered piece and the 1 x 4.5 in Fabric B strips, match the short side of one strip to the top left corner of your Embroidered piece, RST.  The long edge of this strip will extend beyond the embroidered piece, this is OKAY.  Starting at the top corner, stitch down the long side of the strip, stopping 1/2 in from the bottom left corner of the embroidered piece.  Press open, with the seam to Fabric B.  Repeat with the second strip on the opposite corner of your embroidered piece.
(Refer to the layout drawing at the beginning of this tutorial to be sure you are matching your pieces up correctly.)

Step 3- The strips we just attached will extend past your embroidered piece,  fold these back and pin out of the way, leaving the seam allowance of your embroidered piece exposed (remember, we stopped stitching 1/2in before the edge.)

Step 4- Working with the Fabric A strips, match the long edge of one Fabric A strip to the top of the embroidered piece, RST, starting at the top right corner of the embroidered piece (This is why our fabric B strip is folded back and out of the way).  To the left, the Fabric A strip will align to the top short edge of Fabric B piece.  Stitch all the way along this edge.  Repeat with the second Fabric A strip on the opposite side of the embroidered piece.

Step 5- Unpin the Fabric B tails.  Fold to the front (with RST) and stitch to the remaining Fabric A pieces, to join.  Press all seams away from the embroidered piece.

Step 6- Working with the final Fabric B pieces, align one of the 1 x 6in pieces to the top of the block we just made, RST, and stitch in place.  Repeat with the final strip, along the bottom of the block.  Press seams to back of Fabric B strips.

Step 7- Attach the left and right sections of the mug rug by placing both pieces RST, making sure that your designs are facing the same way.  Stitch in place and press.

You've finished the top of your mug rug! Yay!  Now, simply layer, quilt as desired, and bind.

The following is a quick run-down of how I finished my mug rug:


I chose to use straight lines for all of my quilting (below); you can see that I went ahead and used a water soluble marking pen to mark where I wanted to quilt a zigzag pattern in the top right corner (above).

To Bind:

Fold the binding strip in half width-wise, making a double thick strip which measures 1 x 36 inches. Starting at the bottom of the mug rug and using a 1/4in seam allowance, I stitched the raw edge of my binding to my mug rug, mitering the corners.  I then folded the binding to the back, pinned and hand stitched it down with a blind stitch.  
*There is a great post showing how to bind and blind stitch on Quilting In The Rain Blog.

I really love how this Subway Art Inspired Mug Rug came out.  It was also a great way for me to freshen up my quilt binding skills for when I bind my oldest chickie's quilt. (I am thisclose to finishing the quilting on it!) 

While my machine was set up for embroidery, I went ahead and made a ruffled kitchen towel to match my mug rug, rolled it all together and gifted both as a matching set... my friend loved it, and that makes me so happy!

Let me know if you try this tutorial, it's my first with piecing and quilting... I appreciate all feedback! 
XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Quick Survey: How do you follow SoChick?

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This morning I posted a poll over on the SoChick! Facebook Page... I would love for you to swing by and let me know how you follow SoChick!; is it via Facebook, Twitter, this Blog (via Google Friend Connect or Subscription), or are you a Newsletter subscriber?

All of these options are on the Facebook Poll, which is pinned to the top of the page... I appreciate your feedback!

~Once the SoChick Facebook Page hits 500 followers, I'll have a GiveAway to celebrate! *Woot!*  Be sure to share with your friends!
~ You can still save 25% on everything in the Shop with code SUMMER25 at checkout (That's a great savings on Amy Butler Fabric and Handmade Bags & Accessories, Including CUSTOM options! *Happy Dance*)

XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pinterest Confession: What I Pinned Yesterday

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I've spent some time away from Pinterest... I know, crazy, right?! Well, the good news is that yesterday I hopped back in the Pinning Saddle, and started pinning, and repinning, some great ideas.

Here are a few of my favs:

{Family Management Center}

{Homework Station}

{Bento Lunches}

{Herb Garden}

Mostly, I found that I was looking forward to staying organized for the fast approaching new school year... and next years herb garden!  

What have you been pinning lately?  You can follow my boards at TheSoChickChick.

I hope to share a fun sewing project with you next week, and don't forget about the SUMMER SALE in the Shop right now! 

Have a great weekend!

XxOo~ Melissa

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Sale and Restocked Items

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August Already?  That means that SoChick Handbags will officially be 2 years old on one month!  I can't believe that two years ago I left my full-time, out-of-the-house, job to stay home with my chicks and run SoChick! full-time.... awesome! While I plan to celebrate the excitement in September, for now let's have a Summer Sale... 

Save 25% on ANY purchase in the Shop by entering code SUMMER25 at checkout.  

That's a pretty great savings on Amy Butler Fabrics, Handbags, Accessories and Bag Making Kits! (Unfortunately, this does not include PDF sewing patterns)

Also, newly restocked in time for this sale are the popular Julie Wristlets (shown in the above picture).  And, for a limited time I've added the option of ordering custom Julie Wristlets and Savannah Totes...  basically, you can choose from any of the available fabrics in the shop to make your own color combo for these hot items!  This sale is a perfect time to take advantage of this Limited Time Option.

(Act fast... this Summer Sale ends on Monday, August 13th @ 11:59PM EST)

XxOo~ Melissa
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