Pulling Tractor Party – Part 2: Decorations

Since our friend’s tractor,”The 100 Yard Dash,” is red, white and blue Ms M decided that the decorations should be red, white and blue. That works for me! With the party being right before the 4th of July it should be easy to come up with those colors.

As always, I set up the front entry with the favor bags. That way its easier to remember for everyone to grab one when they leave. Plus the bags add an extra tractor flair!

The welcome sign above the favor bags was a repeat of the invitation text.

Tractor Party - Front Entry

The tractors on the favor bags finally look like a pulling tractor! With that signature black smoke! (Notice the cute tractor fabric? I feel a tractor quilt coming on!)Tractor Party - Favor Bags

The fireplace mantel was my favorite decoration of the party. I traced the tractor on some poster board then decorated the mantel with a vintage Fisher Price farm set. And best off our favorite picture of the Dash at a pull.

Tracor Party Decorations on the Mantel
Throughout the rest of the kitchen area we hung logos of the kids favorite tractors. The Case eagle! Got to love this one (plus its also on the Dash).Case

Of course we had to have a Deere!John Deere

And one of N’s favorites. New Holland, or BLUE Holland as he used to say when he was littler.New Holland Then over the food we hung a bunch of pulling tractors and other signs.

Tractor Party Decorations - Country Cookin' Tractor Party Decorations Tractor Party Decorations - Farm Fresh

There were also some great tractor decorations on the food table (and more great tractor fabric), but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for those!

Other Pulling Tractor Party posts:

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Pulling Tractor Party – Part 1: Invitation

Both our kids love going to tractor pulls to cheer on our friend’s tractor “The 100 Yard Dash“. So last summer Ms M and I were trying to come up with a theme for her 5th birthday. She wanted another dinosaur birthday. But I really wanted to do something new.

“Mom! What about a tractor pull party?!!!!!”


There are tons of ideas out there for a tractor party (mostly John Deere) and tons of ideas for farm themed parties. But not a lot for a tractor PULL party. But, hey (not hay), we can do it right?!

The invitation was a lot of fun to put together. I used the County Life Cricut cartridge to make the barn and the tractor. I found a great striped paper that made me think of barn wood.

Tractor Invitation

And I think it’s so fun to open the barn to read the rest of the invitation.

Tractor Invitation

The outside text:

Jump in your tractor
and get in gear

XXXX Is turning
FIVE this year.

The inside of the invitation:

Plow on over for some birthday fun!

Planting time will be on Day, Month Date, Time

Join us at the XXXXX Farmstead

R.S.V.P. to Farm Boss NAME PHONE



Um, ok. So that wasn’t very tractor pull-ish, and much more general farm-ish. But it was still tractor-y right? Well, maybe I can get the decorations to be more tractor pull-ish.

Other Pulling Tractor Party posts:

  • Pulling Tractor Party – Part 2: Decorations (Coming up)
  • Pulling Tractor Party – Part 3: Food (Coming up)
  • Pulling Tractor Party – Part 4: Games (Coming up)
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Pie Challenge No. 17: Asparagus Tart

One of the things that I really love is teaching my kids where food comes from. I just love that for a lot of things we can just go into the back yard and make a large part of our meal.

As a kid growing up I couldn’t STAND asparagus. Everyone else in the family liked it but me. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I started liking asparagus, but I was still pretty picky about how I ate it. Pretty much I was only willing to eat it roasted, grilled or in a quiche. But I am trying to branch out. A few weeks ago I added it raw to a salad and loved it. But there had to be more things I could do with it.

One evening this spring the kids and I were walking through the yard looking to see what flowers had popped up and which ones were still working on waking up. When we got back to our asparagus patch I squealed and we started picking. We ended up with a pretty large bunch of asparagus. I decided this called for a new recipe.

I found a recipe for a cheese and asparagus tart and was thrilled. I’d get to try a new recipe AND get it to count for my 52 pie challenge. Hey, remember my original rules – TARTS COUNT.

This was the result. I didn’t wait long enough for the puff pastry to get nice and golden. I was too impatient to try the results. And it was DELICIOUS!!!!! Mr. Steam even declared that it was his new favorite way to eat asparagus.

Asparagus TartWe were about worried how it would fare the next day. We were worried it would be soggy. But I had it cold and it was still amazing.

Pie Challenge List:

  1. Pizza
  2. Broccoli and cheese quiche
  3. Ham and cheese quiche
  4. Banana cream pie
  5. Mini ice cream pies
  6. Raspberry pie (my fav, or at least it was more on that another day)
  7. Pasty
  8. Chicken pot pie
  9. Spinach pie
  10. Lemon meringue pieb
  11. Blueberry pie
  12. Spaghetti and Meatball pie.
  13. Shepard’s Pie
  14. Mini hash brown quiches.
  15. Chocolate covered strawberry pie
  16. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  17. Asparagus Tart
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Pie Challenge No. 16: Strawberry Rhubarb

My favorite pie for most of my adult life has been raspberry pie. I never found anything that had that perfect combination of sour and sweet, as well as the super bright taste that means summer to me.

Never, until now, that is!!!!!

We have 4 rhubarb stands in the yard. We have TONS of rhubarb each year. And I am always struggling to find recipes to use it. I am not sure why I never have, but I never made a strawberry rhubarb pie. Yea, I know CRAZY!

And talk about fresh. Less than 2 hrs from being picked this pile of rhubarb…..

Fresh rhubarb

ended up cleaned and chopped. It was mixed with strawberries and lemon zest…..

Strawberry Rhubarb pieadded to the pie crust, with a little butter….

Strawberry Rhubarb pie

And baked to result in the best pie I have EVER had!!!!!

Strawberry Rhubarb pieSeriously. I LOVE this pie!!!! Hubs is going to have to freeze batches of rhubarb in the right cut up quantities so I can make it later this summer and into winter!!!! YUM!

Pie Challenge List:

  1. Pizza
  2. Broccoli and cheese quiche
  3. Ham and cheese quiche
  4. Banana cream pie
  5. Mini ice cream pies
  6. Raspberry pie (my fav, or at least it was more on that another day)
  7. Pasty
  8. Chicken pot pie
  9. Spinach pie
  10. Lemon meringue pieb
  11. Blueberry pie
  12. Spaghetti and Meatball pie.
  13. Shepard’s Pie
  14. Mini hash brown quiches.
  15. Chocolate covered strawberry pie
  16. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
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Pie Challenge No. 15: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pie

So remember that Pie Challenge I gave my self last month? Well I have been plugging away. And yep I am now up to Pie #22! How, did I get to 22? Well easy, sorta. I counted all the pies I have already made. Which included the 9 pies I made for this year’s pie day:

  1. Pizza
  2. Broccoli and cheese quiche
  3. Ham and cheese quiche
  4. Banana cream pie
  5. Mini ice cream pies
  6. Raspberry pie (my fav, or at least it was more on that another day)
  7. Pasty
  8. Chicken pot pie
  9. Spinach pie

Then of course there was the pie that inspired the challenge:

10. Lemon meringue pie

The next week I made another pie. It’s one of my staples, but this one didn’t turn out well either. Huh. Hopefully this wasn’t an indication of how the rest of the challenge would go.

11. Blueberry pie

Luckily my next few pies were DELISH!!!! I needed to catch up I was several pies behind to make it to 52 by the end of the year. So I made 4 pies. Hey, I had to cook for the week, I may as well make pie!

  1. Spaghetti and Meatball pie. I am not a fan of baked pasta, but this recipe was A WINNER! It stayed moist and didn’t dry out even as left overs. I think it was the cream cheese. I cheated and used store bought meatballs and it was still major awesome. We will for sure be making this recipe again.
  2. Shepard’s Pie. This was was also incredible. I wasn’t sure that Mr Steam would like the cauliflower / potato mash, but he really liked it. I am not a fan of Shepard’s pies, but I LOVED this one. And I think it was because of the cauliflower mash.
  3. Mini hash brown quiches. These were so horrid I didn’t even eat them. They wouldn’t come out of the muffin tin and were bland as all get out. However, Mr. Steam loved them and ate them all. Go figure.
  4. Chocolate covered strawberry pie!

Oh yea chocolate and strawberries! The mini Steam’s and I had just gone to our favorite store to buy some fruit and cheese. The store is locally owned and they put out many of fruits and cheese for you to sample. I love it because you get to try new fruits and cheeses without committing to a large purchase. The kids love it because I let them pick out what we get and the get to sample EVERYTHING. What’s not to love?!

We had just gotten some AHHHHHH-MAZ-ING strawberries. So I went looking for some strawberry pie recipies. When I came across this one I knew I had to make it.

I cheated and used a store bought chocolate crust. Here’s the strawberries waiting for their chocolate covering.

Chocolate covered strawberry pie

After adding the chocolate and whip cream. Ms. M took one look at the pie and asked “When are we going to eat THIS?!” I think the pie should be renamed to “when are we going to eat this pie!” Don’t you?!

Chocolate covered strawberry pieAnd when we cut into the pie, it looked even better.

Chocolate covered strawberry pie

One modification from the recipe that I would recommend would be to cut the strawberries smaller. It looked really pretty but it was a bit hard to eat.

This one is definitely a keeper!

Tomorrow Pie no. 16 – My NEW FAVORITE!!!!!!

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Smarty End of Year Teacher Gifts

So late last week I realized the end of the school year had snuck up on me yet again! Holy cats! I was going to need a teacher gift for 10 teachers (2 kids, school, day care, PE, music, etc) that I could do in a VERY short time.

The mini Steams and I did some brainstorming. I tossed out an idea, but the mini Steam’s were unimpressed. The Ms. M threw her fist in the air and declared that she had an idea

Ms. M: We should get them a BOOK! We should get them a book that they want but don’t have and no one else will get them.

Me: M that is a brilliant idea!!! Lets keep that in mind, but lets see what other ideas we can come up with.

I loved the idea of getting a gift certificate to the local bookstore, and I love that my 4 year old daughter came up with it all on her own. I wanted to see if we could come up with a homemade gift that the kids could help make. Then I found a fun Pin.

Me: Oh, guys look at this. What if you and Daddy made homemade cookies (I don’t make cookies. That’s Mr. Steam’s job) and we gave the teachers a few of them along with a card that said “Thanks for making me such a smart cookie!” What do you think of that.

N was not to fond of that idea. And then all of sudden he got a light in his eyes. You know that trouble maker glint? Yea, that one.

N: No! I have a better idea. We should get some Smarties candies. Give the teachers some of them and a card that says “Thanks for making me a SMARTY PANTS!!!!!!!” Bwahahahahahaha!

Of course the two of them couldn’t stop laughing for many many minutes. I wasn’t going to be able to back out of that one. So we compromised.

While I was at my quilt guild meeting Mr. Steam and the Minis make chocolate chip cookies. I stopped and got Smarties on the way home. Then we made these:

First N put a few homemade cookies in the gift bag.

Adding the cookiesThen Ms M put a few Smarties in the same bag.

Adding the Smarties

Then we tied up the bags with some cute bakers twine and added the card.

End of Year Teacher Gift

They were pretty happy that they helped make the teacher gift this year. I am pretty proud of their creativity!Proud kiddos Proud kiddos

Now I have to get my aunt’s quilt done, get the quilts done for the camper and pull of Ms M’s 5th birthday! No rest for the crafty!!!!!

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Floral cabin – Part 3 Progress

One of the reasons I picked the design I did is there was minimal marking needed. I marked the spine using a french curve. I also marked the center line for where the feathers would meet in the middle. Finally, you can’t see it in the picture, but, I marked the corner points for the continuous curve. I marked one row at a time. It only took about 5 min to mark a whole row.
Minimal MarkingNow to put feathers (and curves) to fabric.

Green BlockEach block took 2 passes. one pass for the continuous curve and one pass for the feathers. I used a dark cream thread. Its a little visible on the dark green and dark red fabric, but it blends nice on all the other fabrics.

first rowI love to watch the progress and watch the full character of the quilt build as each component of the quilting is added.

First blockThis is part of why I love the quilting process. The transformation is so much fun.

first rowThe first row is in the books! Now to finish the next four!!!

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Floral cabin – Part 2 Border Design

So, I got the Floral Cabin loaded on Millie and was all excited to start quilting some feathers.

Um, yeah.

BordersI forgot the quilt has a triple border. Back to the design board. Thankfully these designs came much quicker than the design for the blocks.

The green border is the largest and least patterned. So a feather vine sounds perfect.

feather spine

feathers on a vineThe pink floral border and the green floral border were too patterned to see any quilting design, but I should be able to see texture. At least I hoped.

Some diamonds on the pink.
Tripple border

And a pattern from Sue Hienz’ book for the green. I really like how the three designs look together.

Tripple borderNow, that I have those borders done, I can get started on some log cabin blocks!!!

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Floral cabin – Part 1 Quilting Design

My aunt and cousin made a king size quilt and I offered to do the quilting. As usual I had some general ideas, but not a specific design in mind.

The quilt is a log cabin with a pinwheel setting.

Log cabin

I drew out some sample blocks and started drawing. I knew I wanted feathers in the cream section, but what should I do in the colored sections.

1st idea: Double feathers. I really like how it looked, but I think its too many feathers (yes, I really did say that).

Double Feathers

2nd idea: Replace one of the feather sets with some swirls. I really like this one, and it may be a keeper. But, wasn’t quite singing to me.

Feathers and swirls 3rd idea: Feather wreath. And although I really like how it looks. My wreaths still need a lot of work. And being such light fabric you would see all my learning. I think I’ll save my practice wreaths for a busier quilt.

Feather wreath4th idea: Feathers and continuous curve. OH YEAH! That sings to me!

Feathers and continous curvesNow I just need to load the quilt and get started quilting this baby!!!


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Not Quite as Easy as Apple Pie

So I can’t remember how it came about, but Mr. Steam suggested that I make a lemon meringue pie. And being that…

  1. I LOVE lemon meringue pie and
  2. I am almost always up for a culinary challenge

I said SURE!!!!! I knew that lemon meringue pie could be a little challenging. So I did a bunch of research on line for different methods and recipes.

I settled on using Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network. I had remembered watching his show and him going through the science of both the lemon custard and the meringue. The viedo was even attached to the recipe! Yeah!

A while later, THIS came out of the oven.

lemon meringue pie

Two most beautiful pies!!!! Now I just had to wait for them to cool off to see if I had pie or soup.

Alas, after dinner when the pie was served, we had lemon soup. Mr. Steam and I still enjoyed it. And declared that a do-over was REQUIRED!!!!

And don’t ask my why. But this semi-failed attempt at a lemon meringue pie inspired me to try and make a pie a week this year. (I know completely logical right?) But no, not a pie a week for the rest of the year. No, that would be too easy. 52 pies this year.

Yep. I am a nut.

But, I did grant myself some gimme’s.

  1. Savory pies (chicken pot, etc) count!
  2. It can be a pie I have made before. It doesn’t have to be a new to me recipe.
  3. The pies I already made this year also count (HA! Remember the 9 pies I made for pie day?!)
  4. Tarts count!
  5. If it has pie in the name it counts!

Now lets see if I can pull this pie challenge off!!!!

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