What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

taco soup

We eat a lot of soup around here, especially in the winter.  Recently, I posted the recipe for a super simple meatball soup.   This one isn't quite that simple, but it's close.  The other day when Lacy requested this taco soup, I pulled out my new iPad mini to shoot some photos as I went.  It gave me a good excuse to play with my new toy.

Incidentally, it's so cool to snap the photos on the mini and have them magically appear on my laptop in just a few minutes, without having to get out the camera and the connector cable.  And honestly, I like the camera on the mini more than my expensive Canon.  I can do the photo editing on the iPad and could probably just write the blog on the iPad as well.  I may try that soon.

Back to the soup.  

This can be made in one pot.  I happened to use two pots because I started the cooking the beef and onions in the frying pan before I remembered I could have just started it in Clifford the Big Red Pot.  I also made a couple minor changes to the original recipe.  I used black beans because I prefer them over kidney beans.  I also used a can of tomatoes with green chiles instead of a can of straight green chiles.  I  try to be careful to not make Mexican dishes too spicy or Tom won't enjoy them.  

Start by chopping a small onion.

 Saute the onion with a pound of hamburger.  Drain fat if necessary.

Add a can of corn with the liquid, a can of beans with the liquid, and a can of chili beans with the liquid.  Do you see a pattern here?  

Then, add two cups of water.

Now dump in a can of tomato sauce, two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chiles, and a packet of chili seasoning.

That's all there is to it.  Just let that bubble away on the stove for a while.  You could also put it all in the crock pot and let her rip on high for a few hours.  Since I started this too late in the afternoon to use the crock pot, it just simmered on the stove top for two hours instead.

We top off the piping hot bowls with crushed tortilla chips, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.   My family thinks they've died and gone to Mexico.  Or Texas.  Or somewhere far southwest of here.

Taco Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 can chili beans with liquid
  • 1 can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 can whole kernel corn with liquid
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1 package chili seasoning mix
Brown beef with onions.  Drain fat.  Add the other ingredients and simmer on stove top for a couple hours.  

Or brown the beef with onions.  Drain fat.  Put in crock pot with the other ingredients for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Serve with chips, cheese, and sour cream.


UFOs no mo

You probably never knew one seamstress could have so many projects started, work all week finishing a bunch, and still have some left!  Well, now you know.

I pulled out a stack of recently and not-so-recently started  pieces and stitched like a mad woman, debt-snowball style.  If you're not familiar with a debt-snowball, it's a term coined by financial planner Dave Ramsey who suggests when trying to get out of debt, you start with the bill that has the highest interest rate and the least to pay off.  Then when you get that one paid off, you attack the next one.  Getting the smallest ones finished motivates you and frees up cash to put toward the next bill.

Let's just say I had a lot of sewing bills to pay!  Lots of you played along with my little guessing game, which was highly motivating to me.  I hardly set one down before I was picking up the next one to finish.  It's Friday afternoon and I'm aware that I could have probably forced myself to complete another one before midnight.  But I stopped.  Because as Caleb would say, "I tire!"  I got a lot done and finished a few pieces for my poorly neglected little baby store in the process.

So, without further ado, here we go from start to finish.  Hang with me, so you can find out who won my little guessing game challenge.


You already saw this one.  I completed it last weekend.  I still like it.  A lot.

 Eliza Jane 

This bunny was a team effort.  Crocheted by Lacy and dressed by me, she is wearing a little frock made from Ellee's nursery fabrics.  Lacy raised the cute factor really high by adding the shrug and headband.   She's the first of the Ellee creations.

 Jeremiah's Alphabet Quilt

This small wall-hanging is the first installment for Jeremiah's nursery.  Hannah wants a Noah's Ark, two by two theme.  But the homeschool mom in me thought he needed an alphabet quilt first.   Sorry, Hannah.  I briefly considered stitching two of each letter, but didn't want him to be dyslexic.

The hand quilting around each letter......

....makes the back almost as cute as the front!

 Maggie's Pillow

Maggie and I started this a year or so ago.  Maggie did all the appliqué by machine and embroidered the words by hand.   It's been sitting around needing a back and stuffing all this time.  Finally, it's at home on her bed!


I pieced this gender-neutral crib quilt top during my frenzy last fall.  It still needed to be quilted and bound.  

  The backing is gray with tiny stars.  The binding is aqua blue.  38" X 44"  

 It's for sale.  

Spring Fever

This one has been a UFO the longest.  I designed one similar to this as a give-away several years ago.   The pieces were all cut out and tucked in a zip lock bag, just waiting to be pieced, hand quilted, and bound into a mini quilt.

 Fawn Vintage Pillow

After she discovered how much fun it is to play with colored thread, Abby went "cracker dog" with the needle and floss.  She left several embroidery pieces here and told me to do whatever I wanted with them.  The first  I turned into this vintage nursery pillow.  Hand embroidered and hand-quilted pillow slip with removable pillow form.   $20.

The next is this vintage baby giraffe pillow.  
Hand-embroidered by Abby, hand-quilted by me.   Removable pillow form.

The back view shows the envelope style closure.

Last but not least is this vintage style tote.  It measures about 8.5" X 9" X 1.5". This would make a great little tote bag or purse for any little girl.  I lined Abby's embroidery and made it into a pocket for the front, then trimmed all the way around the top with lace.  The back looks just like the front except without the pocket.  $20

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to the trivia question:  How many UFOs can Laura Lee finish in one week?


So who guessed nine?


Did I plan it that way?  Of course not!  I just worked until I couldn't see straight and threw in the towel.

Which means...I had to assign everyone a number and put them in the handy dandy number generator and let some computer out in cyberspace choose a winner!!

Alyssa Romano,
That someone is you!

As your prize, you may choose any one of the five items pictured below.  Just send me a message telling me which one you want.
Have a beautiful weekend!


the first of mini

Designing that last tiny quilt for the give-away created a monster.  I have had mini-quilts on the brain ever since, using much of my free time the past couple weeks dreaming up the next one.  These are great for me because I can go gang busters on them and they are highly portable, allowing me to work on them almost any time I have a spare minute.  Last week I put together this mini which I believe will be the first of many, the inspiration coming from a 1960s era children's book appropriately titled Little Girls.  I've adored the line drawings in that book from the moment I found it several years ago.  I knew some day I'd turn one of them into a quilt.  I call this one Innocence.

A little lassie with a lamb evokes wonderful feelings of fresh air and country life.  I believe if I could, I'd pick up and move right into this happy scene.   In my imagination I fancy that this sweet girl has just gathered a fresh bouquet for her mama.  Running and playing without a care in the world, she stops for a few moments to have a conversation with her woolly friend.  She wears a simple blue sundress and sports a red-checked scarf over her nut brown pig tails.  She's the picture of innocence.  I would be her friend.   Wouldn't you?

I will likely offer this for sale.   I need to figure out how to price items such as this.  While it and others like it may be small, (this one measures just 10"X11") they still take hours to put together.  Nearly everything I quilt is original, which means I'm not following anyone else's pattern.  I delight in drawing out the scene, deciding on fabrics for appliqué, designing the embroidery, etc.  And obviously, since it is original, there isn't another one on the planet like it. Such is the beauty of truly original artwork.  The more I've designed, the more I find myself eschewing patterns altogether.  Funny how that works.

I'm also trying to settle on a name for my non-baby related creations.  Cradle Moon is solely for baby gear; I need something else for the other stuff.

I started this wee pink cottage after I finished Innocence.  I got the idea from a vintage 1950s greeting card.   It won't be as small as Innocence,  but I'd still consider it a mini.  I have more to go on it; later I'll show you the finished piece.  Under the cottage I'm going to embroider "Bless the roof and chimney tall.  Let Thy peace lie over all."  I love that verse from the hymn "Bless This House."  We had it sung at our wedding.

My inspiration comes from various places as you can see.  Story books, greeting cards, almost anything.  The problem is that the inspiration comes way faster than the fingers can stitch.  I have at least half a dozen more mini quilts brewing in my head.  The challenge is going to be finishing one before pulling another from my swirling gray matter and putting it into fabric.

Which brings me to my next topic: UFOs.  These aren't "unidentified flying objects", they are unfinished objects, sometimes also referred to as WIPs, or works in progress.  You don't want to know how many of them are tucked around in my sewing room.  As a conservative estimate, I'd say I have at least 20 of them in varying stages of completion.  A constant but never achieved goal is to get them all finished.  Every once in a while, like this past weekend,  I get my motivation on and pull out some to complete.  I take the "debt snowball" approach, finishing the ones that need the least work to complete, providing almost instant satisfaction.

Needing a shot in the arm and a challenge, I thought it might be fun to ask you how many UFOs you think I can complete this week.  Want to play along?  Tell me how many you think I'll finish in one week.  I'm counting what I did this past weekend, and I'll add to it what I finish this week through Friday.  Take a guess and let me know.  I'll have a little gift for the winner.  If there is a tie, I'll draw from the correct guesses to choose a winner.  If no one guesses correctly, I'll just draw a name from all the entries.