Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Beating Hearth is going into business...the Custom Quilt business

I've been thinking about starting a little business.  A collaborative business where I co-design quilts with my customers.  The customer gets all the fun of choosing the fabric (with a little input from myself) and the quilt design.  This is for people who love quilts, but don't have the time or desire to actually make a quilt, make a quilt.

Here's an examples of some quilts that I've been commissioned to make.

Let me know what you think of this idea.

This is a baby quilt for little Echo using the cutest Dr. Seuss fabric.  As soon as my customer and I saw it, we had a fit over how adorable it is and knew it was the fabric for us: the bright blues and reds together, contrasted with the white and black, too much fun for a baby boy.

 I particularly like how we used the striped fabric for the name and the binding, and the giant half square triangles have a big visual impact.

The backing!

Baby quilts are approximately 36" by 36".  The perfect size for a new baby.  The best thing about a quilt this size is once the baby is done using it as a quilt, you can hang it on the wall and use it as a wall hanging.  The quilt that keeps giving.  This particular quilt cost $140.  Prices vary depending on fabric and design and I know it can seem steep, especially when you can buy a quilt at a store for significantly less than this.  The thing to remember is, this isn't just a quilt, it's a quilt that you helped design, hand picked the fabric and collaborated on the design, which was then hand-made with love just for your special somebody.   It's not just a quilt you're paying for, it's the whole experience and joy you receive for giving a loved one something truly unique that you had a hand in designing.

The raw materials, fabric, batting, thread, and fusible web for this particular blanket cost just shy of $70.   I will be completely upfront about fabric costs.  You can choose to buy your own fabric at a quilt shop and ship it to me, in which case I will only charge you for labor and misc. supplies, like thread and fusible web and not fabric, or together we can shop the many amazing online fabric stores out there and you can buy the fabric and have it shipped to me, or I can buy the fabric and have you pay me via PayPal.  Lots of options.

Quilt sizes are customizable.

Here's a few more examples of my work.

Tell me what you think and drop me a line if you're interested in getting started! It takes about 3 weeks for me to complete a quilt, depending of course on what we're doing.

Some of my images are pre-iron.  I am sure once this business really gets started I'll take MUCH more professional photos...ha!  Doubt it.  I get too excited once my creations are done that I don't have time to wait for such trivial things as ironing, I just want to show them off!

Aren't the hearts fun?  And I love the rainbow letters.

This one for little Sadie Lyn is so soft and girly.  It makes me want my sister to make me one more baby niece to love.

One of the things I do to keep you in the loop, is send picture updates via text or Email so you really get a sense of what I'm doing.

Again, don't look at the wrinkles.  This is the quilt I am currently working on, it's a twin and I just LOVE the fabrics.  So perfect for a little girl.

I also make custom throw pillows, pillow cases and wall hangings!

I am still working on a web page for Beating Hearth Custom Quilts, but if you are interested before things really get going, leave a comment here and I'll get with you right away.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

De-Mystifying the Rachael/Reuben Pannini Family Supper

You can make a reuben using this technique; if you enjoy corned beef, that is.  I personally prefer the rachael which is made using roast turkey.  A more satisfying and delicious sandwich, you won't find.   This isn't so much a recipe post as it's a how-to post.
step by step rachael sandwich
Here's the problem with making your family a batch of rachaels for supper, you've got to be really ready to move.  There's no time for day-dreaming here.  Remember your 7 P's and you will be fine.

Before you do anything, get your ingredients out and do any prep work you can before you need it.  Drain your kraut, butter one side of all the rye bread you will be using (I like Russian rye), two slices per sandwich (that may be obvious), lay out your turkey in neat piles on a plate, however many slices you want per sandwich, I find that 3/4 pound of turkey makes four nice sandwiches for two parents and two littles.   Have your Swiss cheese sliced and ready.  Open up your Thousand Island dressing, have a knife handy for slathering your sandwiches.

Okay, prep work complete, let's get to it.  While you are cooking, make sure you have any side dishes ready to go and that your kids are setting the table and have your plates out so you can toss a toasty, warm panini down for immediately consumption.

Preheat a frying pan over medium, medium-low until nice and warm.  Have a smaller, heavy frying pan ready to do some sandwich smashing.

Now, go!

Place one slice of buttered bread in hot pan, buttered-side down.  Quickly smear Thousand Island dressing on.

Place on your neatly portioned turkey.

Smother or lightly top the turkey with kraut.  I prefer to smother, my kids prefer not to know kraut is on their sandwiches, but I still put on a light smattering of the pungent stuff for them.

Next comes a slice of Swiss cheese.  Which you will then top with another slice of bread, buttered side up.

Smash the heck out of the sandwich with a heavy frying pan.  You want to toast the sandwich and melt the cheese and make everything warm and gooey. 

Don't burn your sandwiches!!!  You will probably need to turn your burner down the more sandwiches you make.  As soon as one sandwich is toasted on both sides and lovely and golden and melty, don't just stuff your face, give it to a family member and quickly repeat the process until everyone in your family is noshing gleefully.  These cook up so quickly you won't need to wait too long before enjoying one yourself.

Rachael Sandwich how-to
Yum, yum, yum!!!  You might wonder if I want some sandwich with my kraut.  Maybe.

Thanks for reading!



Monday, March 23, 2015

How to do Glamping Part II

If camping ain't easy, I don't want to camp.  So I spend my off-weekends, planning how to make each successive camp-out that much easier. It starts with planning, planning and more planning.Take a page from my years of experience to make your next camp-out a breeze.

This is my second post on how to make glamping easy.  Click here for other tips and tasty recipes from the post, How to do Glamping.

The easiest way to make your camp-out easy, if you ask this mom, is to make the meals and snacks as low-pressure as possible. When the food is easy, you can spend lots more time doing the fun stuff.

First, plan what you're going to eat for each meal. I have a meeting with my fellow moms and together we decide what we are going to eat and when.  We usually plan to eat as a group a couple times during the camp-out, typically we'll each make one dinner and one breakfast for everyone.  Then on the days we aren't sharing food, we still make similar things, like hot dogs, chips and fruit on the day we get there, because, really, who wants to cook after you've just set up camp.

Tin foil dinners are always a classic if you've got a spare night. Pre-pack each pouch before you leave with the meat, rice, veggies and seasoning, freeze them and store in a zip-lock bag to avoid cross-contamination.

My number one rule about cooking while camping is to prep as much food as I can while in the comfort of my home kitchen, then pack it away in ready to go pouches.  There are a number of reasons for this rule.

1-I don't want to clean while I'm camping.  This includes (especially) washing a bunch of prep dishes.  Ugggh.
2-Cooking is much more difficult in the wild outdoors.  Cook where it's easy.  I have camped with only a very small table before.  Can you imagine trying to chop onions and peppers and make meatballs with no prep space as most of the very small table was already being used by a water jug and a myriad other things. I learned a lot after that camping trip.
3-I'd rather be having fun, than cooking.


You can take anything camping.  Imaging how easy it would be to take tacos.  Cook your meat, cool it and stow it in a plastic zip-lock bag, then freeze it to help with spoilage.  Then when you get to your campsite, you only have to thaw it and warm it up. Pre-shred your cheese. Chop some lettuce. Pour salsa in a zip-lock bag. A baggy of jalepenos, some sour cream and tortillas. Or, even easier, make a Dorito Pie.  Buy individual bags of Doritos, toss all your taco fixings in and devour, no tortillas needed.

An easy, dutch-oven dinner is giant meatballs and veggies.  Take some ground beef, bread cubes and salt and pepper and wrap meat around a Laughing Cow cheese.  Freeze them on a cookie sheet individually and once they are solid, throw them all in a zip-lock bag.

easy camping meals
Bunch of vegetables: I like potatoes, carrots and onions, a little pre-chopped garlic and already diced green onions for garnish.  Par-boil your potatoes and carrots.  Saute your onions in advance also.  Pack everything into a well-labeled zip-lock bag, everything in one giant bag, individually bagged inside the bag. I keep everything separated in their own individual bags to keep flavors from melding.

Time to eat: Make sure you have plenty of hot charcoal on the bottom of your dutch oven and plenty to go on top. Throw some oil into your dutch oven, once the oil gets hot, toss in your garlic, saute it for a minute and then throw in your meatballs.  Brown the meatballs, throw in your veggies and sauteed onions, add a can or two of cream of mushroom soup, let cook until the meatballs are cooked through and you have a nice, satisfying meal.

Rice Salad is always nice to take with because none of the ingredients will get soggy between when they are packed and when you want to eat. Pre-cook everything, the rice, the bacon, chop the pepper and olives all in advance, bag everything individually and then pack all the ingredients into a large bag. Click here for my rice salad recipe!  This is a great side dish for hot dogs or if you're just having sandwiches. And when you want to assemble the salad, everything is right there ready to go, and all that is needed is a large bowl and spoon for mixing.


My go to lunch.  Because I want things low-fuss and I have a personal issue regarding soggy deli meat, I love the ease of peanut butter and honey tortilla roll-ups.  It means I don't have a loaf of bread to get squished and my kids and husband alike will eat these happily.

Chips. These make a good side-dish as well as an easy snack.


I always cook breakfast when we camp.  Do I always cook breakfast at home?  Hell, no!  Camping though, is special.

An easy way to store eggs is to crack as many as you'll need into a large-ish container with a lid. I've used a kefir bottle and it worked beautifully. It's kind of an adventure watching the egg yolks get sucked down into the bottle, you cross your fingers and hope there isn't any over-flow. Note I have labeled this bottle of kefir, eggs. 

Frozen, pre-cooked sausages. They are easy to throw on a griddle and I like having protein at breakfast.

Pre-assembled biscuit mix.  As you can see the proportions here are enough for two batches of biscuits, and yes, I bake them in one of my dutch ovens.

I drink a lot of kefir, obviously, but this kefir bottle has regular milk for my coffee and the water bottle with the initials, BM, ummmm, is butter milk for my biscuits. I could have bought a quart of milk, but I had the kefir bottle empty and felt I could polish off the gallon of milk I already had.

Ham steak.  This is so I can fry it up and serve it with my biscuits for breakfast biscuits.  Fresh biscuit with a slice of salty, smoky ham on it with a side of eggs.  Yes please!

I also always have pre-made pancake batter, butter and syrup as my kids and husband are always happy to eat pancakes while camping.

If you drink coffee or tea for breakfast bring it. I like instant coffee packets for their ease of use and cleanliness.  Don't forget the sugar and creamer if you take it. You'll also need a tea pot to boil your water.


Whatever your kids like to eat.

Whatever your husband likes to eat.

Whatever you like to eat.  Learning lesson, the un-wrapped Reece's minis melted and became a giant mass of chocolate and peanut butter.  The M & M's and taffy worked much better as camping treats.  Bring more snacks than you think you'll need.  You're always hungry while camping.

Individually packaged cheese slices.  Genius.


S'mores.  Every night.  These s'mores were made by sandwiching the marshmallow between an Oreo.  Yummy!

 You may be asking yourself, is all this work worth it?

Oh yeah.
Happy glamping!

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