And then this happened!

Here’s the thing. Crows make me insane.  On the one hand, they are loud and bossy, strident and demanding and can wake the dead on Saturday mornings when someone, who shall remain nameless,  doesn’t refill the sunflower seeds in the  wild bird feeder quick enough to suit them…and on the other hand they are scary smart…take my word for it, don’t do the research like I did or you will never again go outside without fearing the day they rise up against us!…Seriously folks lots of them are smarter than me on an average Monday.

The crows that make me absolutely crazy are the two or three fiends who swoop down onto the driveway, where puppy Théo  likes to hang out to play with his squeaky toys.  One of them has the job to  distract him and get him barking like a mad thing, while the other one or two swagger about and sashay around, stomping on his squeaky toy until they find the sweet spot that makes the dang thing squawk.  I AM NOT KIDDING.  This really happens.  I witnessed it almost every morning this week. Imagine the craziness if you can. Crows cawing and flapping, Théo yelping (or yodelling when he gets really worked up), Tigg, the older dog roaring around inside the house, throwing himself at the window and howling like he has come completely unhinged and a ridonculous  sound that can only be described as “oinking” coming out of the squeaky toy.  Whoever said retirement was boring certainly never stood outside my house in their pyjamas  on a Saturday morning, watching this madness ensue!

So to celebrate the looniness that is my life, I decided to make a “Crows” quilt. So far I’ve only got a few of the impish creatures made, but OMG they are all as cute as a button and I can already see the finished quilt clearly in my mind.  (I love it when that happens). I confess  I  was inspired by a bird block that I saw on Pinterest, which I followed back to The Patchery Menagerie so I could give the designer credit.  Her name is Lynne Tyler and she has a great website that you should definitely go visit.  Her pattern for “Liberated Birds” is not a freebie, but it is available for sale at a very reasonable price on her Etsy Shop by clicking here, should you be so inclined.

Naturally I wanted to put my own spin on a “bird” block, so I gathered my trusty pencil and graph paper and drafted up a very simple 6 1/2″ square unfinished block segment.  It takes 4 segments to make one 12″ finished block.  The pieces go together super quick and they are a hoot to make.   Here is my 1st finished block.

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Nope, Nothing Unusual Here!
Did I mention that this quilt is gonna be scrappy.  Oh and and not all crows are black in my world.

Here is the materials list and cutting instructions for one crow segment

Background.

Scrappy is better!  Use lots of low volume scraps

  • 1 rectangle – 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2″
  • 2 rectangles – 3″ x 3 1/2″
  • 1 rectangle – 3 x 1 1/2″
  • 1 rectangle – 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • 1 square -3 1/2″

For the Crows.

  • 1 – 3 1/2″ square bright or dark (white on black or blackish) fabric for body
  • 1 -1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangle contrasting print or tone on tone fabric
  • 2 – 1 1/2″ squares of same contrasting print or tone on tone.
  • Beak  – Bright scrap of any color
  • Legs –  2 strips of any dark or bright fabric 3″ x 3/4

Crow Body Construction

Draw a line diagonally on the wrong side of each of the 1 1/2″ coloured squares.  Place one square on the top left corner of the 3 1/2″ body square.  Sew on the diagonal line  as shown in the picture below.

Repeat using the other 1 1/2″ square.  It goes on the lower left corner.  Trim away the excess fabric.  Flip the corners and press to make one Body unit.

Next draw a line diagonally on the 3 1/2″ background fabric square from top left corner to bottom right corner.  Put this right sides together with the Body unit you just made, making sure that the diagonal line goes from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.


Sew straight down that line. Flip the HST open, press, then cut away the back as you would with any other HST.


Whew, the hardest part is over and it was really EZPZ wasn’t it?

Next sew the 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ body rectangle to the left side of the HST body unit.


Isn’t it adorable so far?

Beak/Background Rectangle Construction

Place the coloured beak scrap on the  2 1/2″x 3 1/2″ background rectangle.  I wanted the beaks to be long and skinny, so check the picture below to see the angle I chose.


You of course can make your beaks any size you like…just make sure that the scrap is large enough that when you flip it over, it covers the corner.  Press, flip the rectangle over and trim it back to 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″, as shown in the picture below.


Sew the beak/background unit to the left side of the HST Body Unit.

Leg Construction

Sew one leg scrap to the right side of one of the 3″ x 3 1/2″ background rectangles.  Sew the other leg scrap to the left side of the other 3″ x 3 1/2″ rectangle.   Sew the scraps together with the 3″ x 1″ rectangle in the middle.

All that’s left to do is sew the 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ background rectangle to the top of the Body Unit and the legs to the bottom.  The legs segment will be a bit oversized, so trim the leg unit as necessary to square up the block to 6 1/2″.

Yay, you did it. Here is my example of a delightfully quiet crow.

 You made a crow block segment.  And I betcha you made it in a shorter time than it took to read this tutorial.  Now go…get back to your sewing machine and do it all over again 3 more times to make a block like I did, or perhaps just make a row of them.

BONUS FACT:  A group of crows is called a “murder” and I guarantee you will not be tempted to wreck havoc on these little guys.  I’ll have to get back to you on the fate of the crows in my driveway if they continue to make my puppies crazy.

PS If you make a crow or two, I’d love you to post pics in the comments.

PS2.  If you are a member of my “Bee Inspired” group online…you may be getting up close and personal with these guys in June!

 

 

 

 

I’ve got cabin fever

…and its not because its minus 4 gazillion degrees outside, or because of the wind whistling up my long johns at 90 km per hour, or even the freezing rain/ice pellets ricocheting out of the sky and into my face as I stand outside with our new puppy, crossing my mitten clad fingers that he will do his business before I freeze into an extremely unimpressed icicle. Nosirree Bob its not.

I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever because of the new quilting project I’m working on.  Its another quilt along, this time with Angie over at  Gnome Angel and Snips Snippits. This is not a quilt along for the faint-o-heart.  Holy OMG.  Here is a picture of the pattern book (please ignore the puppy chewed corners – Théo  wants to eat everything he sees).  Its 38 freaky pages long!

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Here is a picture of the actual finished quilt that may someday be mine!

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If you look closely you will see that there are 16 pineapple log cabin blocks spread over the quilt,  9 in one block on the right side about half way down, 4 on the bottom edge left of centre,  and another 3 closer to the top left.  Folks these are 5″ finished blocks. Yes, you read that correctly. The pieces are incredibly, amazingly, shockingly tiny.  There is a template on the back page of the pattern that I could scan and print (if I had a scanner, which naturally I don’t), so I decided to find a similar/same block on line, which I could save and simply print.

Lucky me, I found one.  Its a variation on the pineapple log cabin so I am happy as a pig in a puddle.  I wanted to share the blocks that I’ve finished so far with you.  Here are the 9 that will go together into one block that finishes at 15″.

I think they are adorable.  I admired them for about a day and a half before I broke down and started searching the internet again for blocks that I could modify for the 4 block piece.  Here is what I came up with so far.

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Its a wonky pineapple block.  Also 5″ finished and last but not least…so far

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A couple little birdhouses.  My plan is to make one more birdhouse for the section that has 3 log cabins in a row and 3 more wonky log cabins in other colorways.

Yikes,  I am afraid to even think about the other 4 log cabins, 9 courthouse steps or  21 churn dash blocks that I have to make after the pineapple log cabin variation blocks are done. And that my friends is only a small portion of the madness.

O and did I mention that this QAL kicks off officially in March and finishes in July which is only 4 months.  The schedule is crazy.  Check it out below or read the whole post at GnomeAngel

  1. Bow Tie – Make 2 –
  2. Square in a Square Stars – Make 1
  3. Crosses of the U.K. – Make 6
  4. Jacobs Ladder – Make 9
  5. Trip Around the World – Make 1
  6. Plus a Star – Make 1
  7. Churn Dash – Make 21
  8. Courthouse Steps – Make 9
  9. Log Cabin – Make 4
  10. Half Square Triangle 1 – Make 1
  11. Half Square Triangle 2 – Make 1
  12. Half Square Triangle 3 – Make 1
  13. Flying Geese – Make 64
  14. 60 Degree Triangle – Make 30
  15. Pineapple Log Cabin – Make 16
  16. Checkerboard

And just for a giggle I thought I’d share the scrap basket that I’m using to create this masterpiece – although my PEIMQG friends have kindly kicked in some strips of fabric for me to use.  Thanks again to Robin and Susan.

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Sigh…will I ever learn? I think not.

 

 

 

Announcing the arrival of Théo the Wonder Puppy and  other Things! 

Thank goodness babies are cute because otherwise I’d be tearing my eyebrows out already. Nope we do not have a new “actual” baby. We have a new puppy.  He is a brindle phantom inter-variety (AKA Moyen or Medium) poodle.  This variety is quite rare in Canada and not recognized by CKC or AKC. It’s kinda a cross between a miniature and a standard poodle.  We hope he will grow up to be about 30 lbs and be a little brother to our big 76 lb Standard Poodle. So far Tigg wants very little to do with the new addition.

Here is Théo.  As  can see, he is fully loaded in the looks department but I don’t want anyone to think he’s just a pretty face. Here he is reading the newspaper with my hubby, which is, I’m sure you’ll agree quite astonishing for a fella as young as he is (talking about Théo, not hubby).


Now on a different topic, I am expecting again….Nope, not expecting a baby….I’m expecting to accomplish lots in my  sewing room this year.  This is what’s already on the agenda.

  • Patchwork City Quilt Along.  This started back in September with members all across Canada and already its coming along nicely. I am in awe of the talents of my fellow quilters in this one. It’s simply shocking how very very talented my friends are.  Stay tuned for further pics from this project.  Here are my  blocks so far. I seem to be stuck on green and orange.
  • Bee Inspired.  This is an online Bee comprised of bloggers I met last year in the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. My month is June. I’ve already sent one block off to the states. Only 11 more to go. 

It’s a simple paper pieced Block called Split Hatchet. I love it and am eager to see Sharon’s finished quilt.

  • PEIMQG Round Robin challenge.  My centre  block is boxed up and ready to start its travels beginning at the January meeting on Thursday.  Here is a sneak peak of the box and it’s contents. This one has me very excited.
  • Long Time Gone Quilt-Along.  Holy Heck Hermione.  I did this.  It’s A crazy crazy quilt along that aims to complete this quilt in 4 months. The pattern arrived in the mail earlier this week (and Théo has already chewed the pattern book covers)  so I cannot back out now. Yikes this one may be a bridge too far!

  • Japanese Crosses. I’m not sure where this one is going, but I’ve already got about 24 blocks done on this one.  Here is a quick pic of blocks I’ve made since mid-December. 
  • Marie’s Granddaughter’s Graduation Quilt.  There is very little info on this one yet.  It’s going to be a traditional photo remembrance quilt, which is something way outside my wheelhouse, but it’s always good to try new things.   This one has to be done by June, so stay tuned for pics as we progress.

So that’s it for my projects (I think).  I didn’t include the blocks I’ll make monthly for my PEIMQG Bee block exchange or any special blocks I’ll be making for Kindred Spirits Quilt Guild; and I also didn’t include the “150 Women Quilt” that Selina and I are considering making to celebrate our Nation’s birthday. It’s got 150 six inch blocks and it’s a monthly QAL. We are still thinking about this, not sure how or if we’ll get it done. It’d be really cool and I’d do it in a heartbeat, if I was convinced there was a possibility I could make another 75 blocks.


Here is a picture. Here is a link to the site.  150 Women.  Check it out. It’s an important quilt and one any Canadian quilter should have a look at!

What’s on your plate?

Sticks and Stones may break my bones..

I have a weird and unusual given name.  Its Velda.  When I was younger I detested it.  People couldn’t say it right (and OMG people, its pronounced exactly the way its spelled), or they spelled it wrong.  They called me Velma, or Zelda, or Hilda or even Helga. Once or twice I even got called Thelma.   Holy Heck Hermione, I may have had a bit of a complex.  I have have believed having an UGLY sounding name made me an UGLY person.  Sigh… Having an unusual name, combined with being a middle child, was very very hard for my developing psyche, but in retrospect may have been even harder for my parents than it was for me.  For a month or so waaay back in 1973 I may have actually thought I was a foundling, left in the crib by gypsies!!  LOL. That however is a story for another day, best shared with a bottle of the best red wine you can find….

Some of you may have noticed I posted a picture of a quilt block last night.  It is currently my favourite block ever.  That photo was supposed to appear right here with the caption “a Rose by any Other Name” .  Its just so pretty.image

But in my eagerness to make one final post in 2016, I clicked the “Publish” Button instead of the “Preview” button and off it went.  Twas late at night, so I was unable to figure out how to get it back into “Draft” form, so to all of you out there who were wondering how many tumblers full of wine I had in my belly when I made that post, please accept my apologies and continue reading below.

Over the past couple of weeks I have made about a gazillion of these blocks, well perhaps 14 might be a more accurate estimate.  This block is commonly known as  Crosses and Losses or Sometimes +s and Xs,  but I did a little research and this block appears way back in 1938 in the Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns as “Japanese Cross”.  Who knows why its maker gave it this name but I love it all the same and have decided I will call the quilt I’m making with this pattern, “Velda’s Cross”  My whole point is this.  Names mean nothing when it comes to the quilt blocks I love, or people either for that matter.img_3246img_3039img_3119img_3156

Here are some more of the Japanese Crosses I’ve made recently. Seriously gawjus every one of them.  Be warned folks, you will see a lot of these blocks this year.

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As you can see this quilt is going to be totally unashamed of its block name.  Its going to be out there, wild, colourful, crazy, beautiful and the way I may (or may not) have been back in the day.

Happy New Year everyone.  Lets make this year the best one yet!!!

Soon it will be Christmas Day…..or Grandma got run over by a reindeer….your choice

At our house, we have been listening to Christmas music for about 3 weeks straight now.  We actually tuned our radio to CFCY in Charlottetown, PEI where the DJs are playing country christmas songs with some of the really old, all time favourites thrown in once in a while. I have to say I really get a kick out of the country hurtin’Christmas songs, while my hubby is a fan of the silly songs.

Speaking of hubbies, I have one who is a Christmas decorating, Ninja.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but my sweetie REALLY REALLY loves it…For example when we moved to PEI, we brought about 30 tubs of decorations with us including more than 40 plastic poinsettias and close to that many Christmas  nutcrackers. And that’s just the bare beginning of the stuff that gets set out at our house in December. We have two fully decorated and lit trees already and about two weeks ago when we were putting them up, he suggested we should consider getting another tree so we could put one in the bedroom…not a word of a lie folks. I  did manage to put a stop to that particular excess but I think I’m lucky and wouldn’t want to change a thing about him.

I am a bit of a grinch in some respects.  I do not like the hustle, bustle, hassle, shopping, parking lot craziness and freaking out that usually culminates around mid-night on December 22…which coincides perfectly with the realization that our budget, and often our contingency budget has run out, but I love the other more homely stuff, like baking cookies with the grandkids, surprising hubby with a batch of homemade peanut brittle (not that its much of a surprise, its actually more like a tradition at our house) or searching out the Christmas quilts that don’t come out any other time of year.

I thought I would share some of the little Christmas Quilts ( and a couple of the nutcrackers) I’ve made over the years to decorate the door to my hubby’s office (because of course he had a whole selection of office decorations too).  Now that he’s retired these little darlings don’t get out much anymore.

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I love this little door quilt (and there are a couple of the nutcrackers!.
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Tangled Christmas Lights – part of the Joy of the Season.

This year we are very excited for two reasons.  First – our son Kevin is coming to PEI to visit us.  He arrives early early in the morning on Boxing Day, so we are saving our Christmas Festivities until Boxing Day.  We will of course have Christmas Dinner with my mom and sister on the big day, but the main party is reserved for Boxing Day afternoon.  We are having friends and family over for Open House (including all the wonderful treats I’ve been baking and buying this month).  We are both looking forward to spending time with close family members.

— AND —

We have gifted ourselves with a brand new puppy.  So there will be a baby in the house again starting December 27, 2016.  I promise I will post pictures of the new addition (its a boy) as soon as he arrives and settles in.  The last few days we have been trying to choose a name to suit our new bundle of joy.  Here is where we are at in that regard.

I love Dino, Fitz, Theo, Matteo and Mozes.  All of these are perfect for a black standard poodle puppy.  Hubby is a big fan of Dantes, Gunner, Tio, Marco and Sparky.  Come back early in the new year to find out what we ended up deciding to call him. There is an off-chance he will be Noel, or Gabriel to celebrate the season.

So that’s it for me in 2016 (I think).  Merry Christmas Everyone.  Enjoy your time with your family and friends.  Eat lots of turkey and stuffing, drink responsibly, be kind to everyone and pay it forward to someone needy if you can.

 

“Crosses and Xs”, A Picto-Toot’…

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This modern looking beauty is a VERY traditional block.  It is sometimes called Japanese Cross or Crosses and Losses.  Quilters like me have been crushing on it  since the 1930s.  This block was originally credited to Nancy Cabot in 1938 according to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Block Patterns.  So there you go…Everything old is new again; what goes around comes around…You get the idea.

I saw this block featured on my  Pinterest feed and I absolutely love it. It looks ahhhmazing in a pastel-y palate and just as great if you are a wild woman like me when you are picking colours for quilts.

(There are more pics and links to finished projects at the end of the Toot).

So without any more chit-chat, here is the Picto Toot that will make a 10.5″ unfinished block.

    This block requires SEVEN FABRICS in any combination. Go. Wild.  I dare you. I did!

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    Seriously folks, 7 fabrics–Absolutely No Exceptions.

    Now lets get out those rotary cutters and start having fun. Here is how I cut the fabrics for this Toot’.

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    Yikes.  Relax you can do this.  Lets start with the 8 x 2.5″ squares.

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    Use a ruler and a pencil to draw a diagonal line on the back of each of these 8 squares.  You could also fold the squares on the diagonal and press the line – or – use a Hera tool – or – if you are super confident, just wing it (I don’t have that kinda courage).

    Pick up the 4 x 4″ squares and the marked 2.5″ squares and head over to the sewing machine.

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    Place a small square on each of the larger squares (just like in the pic) and sew ’em together right down that line.  Then do it all over again on the opposite corner.  You’ll use two smaller squares on each larger square.  But you knew that already didn’t you?

    After they’re sewn on, flip the smaller squares back on the sewn line, and press,press,press…before you start cutting off the ends.  I find pressing at this stage helps to square everything up, if your stitching line tends to be a bit wonky. Sigh.

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    Now you can cut the undersides away like the above picture.  Flip the small corner triangle back into place. Then just sit for a minute and enjoy how pretty they look (and give yourself a pat on the back for your bold colour choices).

    Okay, moving on to the next section.  Confession time… I  didn’t take very many pictures of this stage… my iPad was perilously close to running out of battery life. Here is the only pic I took.

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    Its pretty self explanatory.  Pick two of the remaining teal 2.5″  blocks  and two lavender (pink?) blocks  to sew together and and sew the last two lavender (pink?) blocks to each side of the teal 6.5″ rectangle.

    Whew…you’re almost there.  Set out your block like this….

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    Sew them together in rows, matching seams if you are that kind of girl, which I’m not… but that’s a story for another day.  Then head back to the pressing station one final time.   I prefer to press the rows towards the cross because it helps to make those pretty crosses pop…but that’s your call. You could also press the seams open to reduce bulk if that’s the kinda thing that makes you crazy. 

    Prepare to be amazed and impressed with yourself.  This is what the finished block will look like.

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    Yay You.  You made a beautifully modern/traditional block.

    And now for your viewing pleasure, here are a few more pics of how this could go together into a quilt and/or what some other colour choices would look like.

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    My personal favourite Color combo–so far!

    The grouping of blocks below came from Flikr.  I love them too because this shows you that more low-key  colorways can also be very effective in this block.

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    You can also go to my Pinterest Feed and find about another gazillion colour choices.  Here is the link for Granny Can Quilt – Modern Granny.  Just scroll through the Board and you will find some great colorways for this block (and lots of other fab-u-lous stuff IMHO!)

    or just click here; or here; or here; Gawjus…Gawjus…Gawjus.

    Update:

    Click  here for a link to a Pinterest tutorial for a 5.5″unfinished block. 

    If by chance you want to make a 15.5 inch unfinished block, here is the cutting information you need. Then just follow along with my tutorial to make a gigantic version. 

    • cut 2 squares 3.5″ and 1 rectangle 3.5″ x 9.5 from the cross fabric
    • Cut 4 squares 3.5″
    • Cut 8 squares 3.5″ for corner triangles
    • Cut 4 squares 6.5″ for Xs

    One last thing I should say…look at all the blocks on my Pinterest Page and you’ll see that you can use the 7 fabrics wherever you want in the block.  As an example, you could make all four arms in the Xs from the same fabric, or from 2, 3 or 4 different ones.  IMHO you should probably make the crosses from the same fabric, so they don’t get lost in the mix, but you could probably get away with using different ones that were very equal in tone and value. Click here to see what I mean.

    Leave me a comment if you like this tutorial; and post some pics if you make the block.  I’d love to link them up here.

    Have an amazingly creative day.

    Is it a Cookie? or a Candy?

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    When Stefanie (best daughter ever!) was still my itty bitty princess, she loved to help me bake Christmas cookies and  in those days we made lots.  There were cookies for teachers, cookies for classmates, cookies for figure skating, cookies for the Christmas concert, cookies for girl guides etc., etc. Our list was humungous.    I remember years when we made and distributed more than 40 dozen cookies in the week before Christmas Eve.  Stefanie is of course grown and flown from the nest a long time ago and now she and Jessica (best grand-daughter ever) are continuing their own cookie baking tradition out in Calgary, Alberta.   We still FaceTime every day in December to share their cookie successes and the occasional cookie disaster!  And every year we try to come up with some new receipes to go along with the old favourites. So, naturally  I am delighted to take part in this virtual cookie exchange and share your recipes with my girls.

    Here is the list of folks who are participating this year.  If you haven’t already done so, you should go see all the delicious, beautiful cookies on display in their kitchens. But don’t forget to come back and get my recipe.

    December 5

    Just Let Me Quilt – Giveaway

    Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

    Kris Loves Fabric

    December 6

    Creatin’ in the Sticks

    Brenda’s Quilting Blog

    Bumbleberry Stitches

    December 7

    What’s Up With Kim

    Granny Can Quilt – yippee that’s me

    Rosemary’s Recipe – posted at Just Let Me Quilt

    December 8

    Deb’s Rustic Quilting

    Treasured Nest

    Just Let Me Quilt

    I’m so glad you’re back.  Is this month absolutely crazy busy at your house?  Holy Heck Hermione, I often wonder how we get it all done in time for Santa to make it down the chimney.  One thing I decided to do was to forego my mix master and measuring cups this winter and make simple no bake goodies whenever possible.

    So here is a recipe for Pretzel Hugs. I think it would be perfect to make with the kids/grandkids, or perhaps let the kids make themselves…with just a tiny bit of help from you getting the baking sheet into and out of the oven.

    These things are so EZeePZee to make and they look adorable on a plate of Christmas dainties (if they even make it to the plate).  Ingredients are square pretzels, M&Ms (peanut or regular), and Hershey’s Hugs.

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    You’ll also need a cookie sheet and parchment paper (I used aluminum foil because there was only a tiny little piece of parchment paper left on the roll).  Either one will work just fine.

    Cover the cookie sheet with the foil and place single layer of pretzels on top.  Noboby will notice or hold it against you if you nibble on the broken bits as you go along.  Top each pretzel with one (unwrapped) Hershey Hug.  Check them out…Aren’t they adorable already?  Wait, they get even cuter!

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    Pop them into an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for a few minutes.  Four minutes should be perfect.  All you are doing is warming the Hugs.

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    When they are warmed up, take them out of the oven and press an M&M into the centre of each one to flatten it. And that my friends is it.  They are done.

     

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    OMG they are just cute as a button and took no more than 10 minutes to make….and most of that was unwrapping the Hugs!  So there you have it, salty sweet perfection.

    Oh yeah you should probably put them in the fridge for a few minutes to harden them up again and then put them away in the freezer so your husband cannot get into them until a few days closer to Christmas. Just Sayin.

    Thanks for dropping by.  Let me know if your family loves them as much as we do.