Momma Told Me: 2012

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Starbucks Holiday Roast and Market Fresh #DeliciousPairings Make For Flavorful Gifts

delicious pairings
Momma Told Me: Like a cup of fresh coffee and a slice of Momma's apple pie.

There are some things in this world that we simply know are meant to go together. That's how the iconic phrase "Like peanut butter and jelly" came to be, and who Momma swore up and down any fresh baked good wasn't properly enjoyed unless accompanied with a cup of her favorite fresh roast coffee. My loyal readers already know I inherited a passion for the brewed bean from Momma, who essentially spoon fed the stuff to me from 12; but, much like the 'Cop-Donut-Coffee' #DeliciousPairings stereotype, Momma would never be seen sipping without her favorite freshly baked pastry. Not only did I learn a strong appreciation for various brews undertones, much like an aged oak whiskey, but I was taught the importance of proper pairing. Nothing was more crucial than the careful selection of seasonal baked goods to compliment the year's Winter blend. And no single coffee brand was trusted more, in my household, than quintessential Starbucks.
Recall those infamous 7 hour, 3 grocery store, weekly coupon treks with my Momma? They'd always start at 6AM, and begin with a much anticipated (and Momma would argue, needed) trip the the Starbucks kiosk inside our local Safeway. This was a treat for us, as Momma's strict budget kept this name brand splurge to coffee shop visits; we rarely would afford the treat of a bag in our home. Now managing my own household I still hold the flame for that evergreen mermaid, Starbucks the pillar of coffee excellence at home, and on the go, in my opinion. There is something simply indulgent about enjoying a simple cup of fresh roast coffee, inside one of these chains. The buzzing atmosphere and trendy vibe keeps this coffeehouse much more than a stop, but a hotspot hangout for friends and family. Knowing I can take a bit of that simple indulgence home, with Ground Starbucks, and K-Cups, is the perfect incentive for any long Winter day. Nothing illustrates this more for me, than Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend with "Notes of Spicy and Sweet, with Hints of Comfort and Joy."
Artisan Freshtiramisu
I recently discovered that my favorite seasonal blend, the yearly Starbucks Holiday Blend, is not only sold in 28oz Value Bags at Sam's Club, but pair perfectly with the warehouse chain's Artisan Fresh baked goods collection. Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend pairs perfectly with complimentary notes; ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin, cinnamon, orange, and cloves, making it the natural partner for a slice of Artisan Fresh Apple Lattice Pie, or Tiramisu. During a recent trip to my local Sam's Club I was especially inspired to create some #DeliciousPairings when I happened across the in house brand, Artisan Fresh, Assorted Sampler Pie and Tiramisu. I should note that the Artisan Fresh Sampler Pie is a truly unique, colorful, 4 flavor pie featuring individual quarters of Apple, Peach, Cherry, and Blueberry. It's a reach showstopper on the holiday table, and the perfect solution for those picky relatives who like to handpick their slice. On this occasion, however, I was stopping in to pick up a few of the 28oz Holiday Blend Starbucks bags, and 3 Tiramisus, to pair with a handmade Christmas gift I'd planned for my bowling teammates.
Because every good little elf should always reward themselves for a job well done, I skipped the work and began my project with a sampling of this year's 2012 Starbucks Holiday Blend. I have to admit, I love buying our ground coffee at Sam's Club because it simply goes further than stocking up on consumer portions at the local supermarket. We use an eco-friendly re-usable K-Cup, and I'm always guaranteed a fresh cup of my favorite Starbucks blend at an exceptional price over manufactured K-Cups. In any case, back to the juicy stuff- the 2012 Holiday Blend! Starbucks is known for it's amazing world sourced blends, and they certainly did not let down; this batch was mellow in undertones, and many of the finer points were easy to overlook when solo. My first few sips yielded a lingering aftertaste of spice, with a bolder roast than my usual Breakfast Blend. I'd place this a 7 on a strength scale of Breakfast (mellow) to Columbian (bold).

I have to say I was particularly impressed with my decision to pair this blend with the Tiramisu; the heavier notes were especially complimentary against the espresso soaked sponge cake. The Artisan Fresh Tiramisu was wonderfully soft, yet less intense than I had expected, and helped shed light on a cinnamon undertone within the Holiday Blend. I knew the recipients of my pairing would not be disappointed, as I sat down to dive into an equally flavor inspired holiday gift craft with a fresh cup beside me. I'd recently learned of a last minute gift exchange among my bowling teammates, and wanted to whip up a holiday treat that would help get them through the week ahead, as well as inspire treasured memories. With some empty Pint size Mason Jars, Flannel Scrap Fabric, Seasonal Ribbon, Leftover Gift Tags, and a heap of Household Dry Goods, I set out to pair Starbuck's Holiday Blend and Tiramisu with may favorite baked recipes. These Recipes In A Jar include all the dry ingredients needed (simply ass eggs/oil/milk as required), to fill any home with #DeliciousPairings as tempting as my Sam's Club crafted duo.
It could not be simpler to create a rustic home crafted gift; hunt down your favorite holiday recipes and portion the dry goods to fit Pint Mason Jars (old washed jam/jelly jars work just as well as store bought ones). Layer the dry ingredients to create visible variations to excite the eyes. Be sure any flour bases for bread are mixed with rising ingredients (such as baking soda/powder) prior to layering. Cap the mason jar with a piece of ribbon tied around a 5" square of scrap fabric. Identify the recipe with a clearly labeled gift tag, complete with preparation instructions flip-side, and attach it to the ribbon with a bow. Include a seasonal cookie cutter for cookie recipes, and pair with your favorite Starbucks Seasonal Roast. Present the Recipe In A Jar and Ground Coffee in a wicker gift basket or hand painted crate. I had a few leftover mason crates from previous gifts I'd received. I painted them Holly Red with a Glitter Red Topcoat for an extra hint of pizazz. We also chose to include a Sam's Club Tiramisu with each Jar and Coffee bundle, along with a card that instructed; "Enjoy the Tiramisu and Coffee now, to keep holiday vibes flowing while you wait for your fresh baked treats to emerge from the oven!"
Starbucks Holiday Blendholiday craft

I picked 3 recipes in total to pair with the Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend; Cinnamon Pancake Mix, Spiced Apple Cake Mix, and Gingerbread Cookie Mix. You may wish to include the complete (dry ingredients) recipe as well, for those who desire to replicate your treats after baking from the jar. Try one of the  below out and let me know how you thought they pair with Starbuck's Holiday Blend!
Cinnamon Pancake Mix:

3 C All Purpose Flour, 2 TBSP Sugar, 2 TBSP Baking Powder, 4.5 TSP Ground Cinnamon, 1 1/4 TSP Salt

In a 1 Quart Jar combine all ingredients, layering. Gift Tag: In a Medium Bowl combine 3/4 C Milk, 1 Egg, and 2 TBSP Oil. With fork, blend in 1 1/3 C Pancake Mix until moistened, yet still lumpy. Cook on lightly greased griddle or skillet. Yields 10 (5") pancakes.

Spiced Apple Cake Mix:

3 C All-Purpose Flour, 1.5 C Sugar, 1.5 TSP Baking Soda, 1.5 TSP Ground Cinnamon, 1/4 TSP Ground Nutmeg,  1 Cup Chopped Nuts (I prefer walnuts), 1/2 C Golden Raisins

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing thoroughly. Gift Tag: Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray bundt pan with on-stick coating. Toss 3C chopped, peeled, apples in 3 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice. Empty dry ingredients into large mixing bowl. Beat 3 Large Eggs in Medium Mixing Bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1.5 C Oil and Eggs. Stir until mixture is smooth and even. Fold in apples until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 Hour and 10 Minutes, until toothpick inserted removes clean.
I especially love this craft because children of all ages can help out. Younger children, especially, will love the layering of the dry ingredients and the puffs of flour that erupt from mixing and pouring. It's especially fun to enjoy the fruits of your craft alongside one of the recipes, prepared, and your favorite cup of Starbucks roast coffee. I was really pleased with how this simple craft turned into a meaningful handmade gift, and even underestimated it's popularity. Everyone was buzzing about the Artisan Fresh Tiramisu, and there were rumbles of breaking out a long lost coffee maker to sampler the Holiday Blend at the alley. I know my recipients will love indulging in the Delicious Pairings of  Starbucks 2012 Holiday Blend, Artisan fresh Tiramisu, and my handcrafted Mixes In a Jar, this holiday season! What would you pair with a fresh cup of Starbuck's Holiday Blend?

What Daughter Says: Like peanut butter and jelly, pair this year's Starbuck's Holiday Blend with your local Sam's Club Artisan Fresh baked seasonal varieties!

I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All photos and opinions are my own.  #CBias #SocialFabric

The Sweetest Time Of The Year?: My Thoughts on Sugar


It's that time of year actually seems inappropriate upon further inspection. While I thought I would open with a bit about how tempting the sweets are during the holiday season, I'm alarmed to realize that nearly every season in mainstream culture is a 'holiday' season. That is to say various major manufacturers are vying for your hard earned dollar with the same products wrapped in different parcels; the majority of these celebratory 'gifts' made of sugar. Yes, we may eat copiously among friends and family during November and December, but what about the month of sugar leading up to and following Halloween, or love filled February? The ultimately confusing practice of rabbits, eggs, and candy at Easter?  And, of course, there are multiple birthdays, peppered with cake, ice cream, and seasonal munchies, every other month. Even if your birthday falls during glutinous Fall, you are likely attending soirees all year round. So, when one considers it, we cannot truly blame 'this' time of the year, when we live in a society groomed to buy and celebrate.

And if you're controlled enough to be mindful of those extra celebratory indulgences, what of the sugar drinks, and desserts to tempt us each and every day? My ex-husband could, and would, drink a 12 pack of 12oz cans (of soda pop) on a single day off of work. As someone who has never really monitored or checked their diet and sugar intake, I would feel guilty just for the can I drank and craved every other day. I was even more alarmed to hear that, in the US, the average consumer drinks 45 gallons of soda pop a year, or an average of 2.5 cans/day. While you, or those you know, may not be drinking literal cans (perhaps they get their fix in a 32oz gas station drum, or 20oz bottle), the consumption is occurring, and at an alarming rate. That's an average of 3/5 Cup of sugar intake from soda alone, per day. But we cannot point the finger exclusively at Soda- I'll freely admit my recent medical awakening was thanks largely in part to a regular consumption of Juices and Smoothies. Fruits contain natural sugars already, and are often processed and combined even further when translated to commercial juices, and smoothie sherberts. Just one 12oz glass of my favorite juice has nearly 1/2 the sugars of a can of soda; and because it's 'healthy' and made from 'fruits' I never questioned my consumption.
Where are we going with all of this?

As an adult I have never denied myself any form of beverage or food. For the most part I have eaten what I want, when I want it. Yes, I exercise common sense. That is to say, I do not eat nonstop for the sake of eating, and I am mindful of the frequency of fast food, or 'junk' food. I try to eat my veggies regularly, and I preferentially forgo many carbs. But when I wanted candy, I'd have candy. And if I wanted to drink 64oz of grape juice in one day, I would. So, when I had blood drawn 8 months back, and was flagged as pre-diabetic, I was a bit rattled. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, and one that can not be reversed at this time. It was obvious to me, while I knew I would not like it, I had to cut my sugar intake immediately; or face a life without sugar at all. I thought I did good. I cut nearly all soda out of my diet and changed my daily routines to nearly a 50% cut in damaging habits. Where as I used to eat a Baby Bottle Pop (don't judge), a day, I'd have one every other day as a reward. I drank much more water, to help curb cravings and keep me filing full. I passed up desserts when out to eat, and ate carrots with peanut butter (natural, no sugar), at night. But when I returned for my 6 month blood panel, the verdict was not good.

My numbers had actually gotten worse! I've never walked out of a doctor's office with more of a grave sense of control and necessity. Not only had I agreed to be put on a beginning diabetic maintenance drug (now the 5th pill in my regimen, at 26), but I knew this was all or nothing. No more sweet rewards at night; all of my stockpile was replaced with 'sugar free' confections that upset my stomach in any quantity and have an aftertaste that naturally curbs my  cravings. Any soda I wanted would have to be diet; and as I dislike the taste and chemicals so much, primarily seltzer water with citrus juice. I began looking at every label, educating myself. The 'sports drinks' I had been substituting soda for, prior, had just as much, if not more, sugar AND blood pressure aggravating sodium! All of the sauces I loved to dip fries and protein in were chocked full of sugar. Ketchup and barbecue sauce are now extreme indulgences. The changes were swift and without favor.
Interestingly enough, each time I have cut sugar, the first and most recent changes, I have found myself regain more energy. I truly can't stand the flavors of diet, so I drink less and less (diet) soda or drinks; which means more intake of necessary water. I can taste food with more clarity, and get more enjoyment from the flavors I do ingest. I enjoy those foods more, especially the ones with a bit of sweet essence for flavor. When one enjoys their meal more, they tend to eat less, and feel more fulfilled. The pill I have been taking, to very gradually reduce blood sugar over a long period of time, makes me fairly ill, and reacts poorly with various foods (particularly greasy ones), so I am learning to naturally eat better.  There are still times I crave my favorite candy like I would expect any addict would, but the times when I resist are even more rewarding than those in which I give in. Don't get me wrong, I do have a treat 1-2 times a week (particularly when the blog calls for my opinion or sampling of something sweet), but I feel it's fair to say I have eliminated over 90% of the sugar intake from my precious diet. I've even lost a few pounds, amidst the holidays!

I get a kick out of vintage ads from the Sugar Information Panel, much like any consumer product, trying to take the rational fears of informed consumers and turn them on end with backwards reasoning. The ad at the top of this post tells mothers that kids need sugar for the confidence and boost to get them through the day. That sugar is a great reward and incentive, a bring me up (sound like some other not-so-good-for-you products?). The problem there is that sugar, like other 'upper' products only makes you feel that way for a short period of time, then crash. So, as part of a 'balanced diet' sugar's place would be increased exponentially each day to account for the body's adaptation and thirst for those feelings. Just like tobacco, at the time, sugar had industry wide campaigns to promote the product, not one brand or make. When an entire industry has to sell itself to you with such creative ads, what does that tell you as a consumer? Have you seen similar ads, recently for High Fructose Corn Syrup? Please don't read this as an anti-sugar blast. I LOVE sugar, and I will, hopefully, continue to enjoy it in educated moderation. This is simply a post to get the masses thinking a little more about the frequency of, and what is put into their bodies!

Note: This is a piece of good, old-fashioned, blogging. It is not endorsed or sponsored by any organization, individual, or brand, All opinions within are mine, and mine alone.

Tasty Tuesday: Doritos Chicken Casserole Recipe- Let's Pin It!

Momma Told Me: You don't have to be gourmet to be creative in the kitchen.

Since it's introduction in 1968, by Frito Lay, the Doritos enterprise has captured the hearts of Americans, and junk food lovers worldwide. And, while you likely recognize the fire engine red bag of Nacho Doritos first, with Cool Ranch a distinguishable second, there have actually been over 20 flavor variations of the popular tortilla chip, including Fiery Buffalo, Zesty Taco/Chipotle Ranch Collisions, Tapatio, and Salsa. Like most things, the more obscure flavor varieties were sold in limited release, often with small international markets, and tied to a larger event or promotion. Whatever the case, it seems that the name 'Doritos' most often solicits an association to the Nacho Cheese variety, which recently inspired the Yum brand's chain, Taco Bell's, wildly successful Doritos Loco tacos. Already a snack time staple, and one of the key players in the Frito Lay brand, I spent many childhood lunchtimes trying to barter granola bars and apple slices for a Fun Size bag of these orange tortilla chips.
I wish I could say my Dorito munching habits have subsided, like the speed of my metabolism, but this is one junk food favorite I've refused to part with through the years. I want to make it very clear I am not advocating a diet of Doritos; it is a high calorie snack with basic (minimal) nutritional value, in my opinion. However, I do have a recipe I'd love to suggest the next time you are looking to serve up nachos for the big football game, or tostadas/tacos for your family's Southwest night. I'll admit, when it's all melting, halfway to completion, in a giant pot on my stove, it hardly looks appealing, but this Doritos Chicken Casserole is impressively flavorful, and well rounded with veggies and protein. Of course there's plenty of cheesy flavor, thanks to Velveeta, and the addictive crisp of Doritos too! Just consider it a thick Enchilada/Torilla Soup, perfect to warm up those chilly winter nights and sure to put a smile of wonderment on the youngsters faces!
2lbs Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts
1 (11.5 oz) Bag of Doritos Nacho
1 (10.5oz) Can of Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup
1 (10-12oz) Can of Rotel
1 (8-10 oz) Can of Corn Kernels
1 (8-10) oz Can of Cooked Pinto Beans
1 (16oz) Velveeta Cheese Package
1/2 White Onion
1 Bellpepper, Red/Green (Optional)
1 Stick of Butter
Preheat Oven to 350F

1.  Boil or crock pot chicken breasts until fully cooked. I prefer to crock pot a large amount of chicken at once and portion the breast meat for meals like this. Either way, ensure you have about 2 mounding cups of shredded chicken.
2.  Saute your onion and bell pepper with your block of butter. Adjust butter to met the quantity of veggies you are sauteing. If you are forgoing the bell pepper, use about 1/2 a stick of butter.
3. When your veggies are soft add in your can of cream of mushroom (don't forget to add water for condensed), cook for about 10 minutes.
4.  Next, add the can of corn, pinto beans (drained well) and Rotel. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes.
5. While the mixture is simmering slice the Velveeta into cubes, then slowly add them to your mixture. Be sure to stir constantly, while adding, and after, to ensure even melting.
6.  Once all of the Velveeta has melted into the mixture combine with shredded chicken.
7. I use a large 4 qt Pyrex bowl, but a Lasagna Pan will do as well- Coat with a non-stick spray such as PAM.
8. Cover the bottom of your cooking vessel with a light layer (1.5-2") of the cooked mixture.
9. Crumble a handful of Doritos across the bottom layer. Repeat the layering process, ending with a generous coating of Doritos, until the pan is full or product is gone.
10. Cover with foil and cook 25 minutes, removing foil for the last 10 to ensure a nice crisp to the top layer.
As you can see my favorite, and the messiest, part is crumbling the Doritos chips! You could, of course, put them in a gallon size back and smash the heck out of them, but then there wouldn't be any yummy orange residue to lick off your hands! This is definitely the part the kiddos will have the most fun with! We enjoyed our Doritos casserole for 2 days, reheating beautifully each time. Feel free to keep a reserve of chips on hand to spruce up the crunchy factor of that top layer. This is actually a very filling dish, and not at all as intense in flavor as you might amuse. Many recipes will omit the additional corn, or exclude beans- I found the addition of beans really rounds this recipe out and gives it some extra 'meat'.

***Please Note: This is not, in any way, sponsored or endorsed by Frito Lay, Doritos, or any brand name referenced within the recipe above. This is an adapted version of Doritos Chicken Casserole, as found through Pinterest on multiple channels, primarily adapted from Brands may certainly be substituted for generic, or like ingredients with the same result.

My Pony Moment: Childhood Gift Obsessions

Growing up there was always something about Christmas that seemed just a bit more magical than even my birthday. What could possibly make this holiday outshine an entire day dedicated to myself? Perhaps it was the fact that every major toy company was vying for the dime of those shopping for me. Yes, right around November each year the hottest toys began to surface through infamous sources such as the notorious Toys R' Us Big Book. It didn't take many years for Momma to figure out this was one propaganda filled periodical she did not need in the hands of her daughter. I'd go crazy, circle things, I didn't even know what they did! In honesty, I think it was the sheer idea of Christmas; colorful parcels tied with ribbons and bows, just waiting to be unwrapped. For the most part I cared quite little what was inside- simply that those presents were for me.

I grew up in the 90s; a childhood in which the first half was governed by statistics that showed the average girl had 7 Barbies (and we're not talking knock-offs), and the second half by malfunctioning attempts at interactive toys, such as the Furby. Anything classic (dolls, puppets, doll houses) Momma would always make for me. I recall the first 10 years of my childhood were marked by handmade gifts from Momma; I have meticulously protected through my adulthood, for their cherished memories. The exception to this being the very first gift I received, a 1986 Limited Edition Cabbage Patch Doll, a sort of 'Welcome Home' gift, that sits in my living room to this day. And, while I could go on about how they don't make toys like they used to (Chubbles, GloWorms, Radio Flyers), this post is about my 'Pony' moment.

We all have at least one. That one thing you wished for most as a child, writing year after year to Santa; even dropping a few casual requests into those prayers. How iconic is the image of a little girl in ribbons and satin, bounding down the stairs on Christmas Morning, hope for a Pony dancing in her eyes? It may not be so iconic, but I certainly had a Pony; an item I wished for for years (and not to spoil the tale, but ultimately went out and bought myself with my first paycheck as an adult, just because). Yes, that golden gift was a Super Nintendo system. My childhood lullabies had been tirelessly accompanied by the soundtrack of Zelda and Star Tropics, as Pop played into the wee hours in the bedroom beside mine. And when I awoke in the middle of the night, terrified of the monster beneath my bed, I'd often sneak into my parent's room where the NES credits still scrolled on the glowing television screen.
Our NES system had been a major purchase for our family; finances tight with one working parent, a disabled Momma, and a young child. Looking back I suspect it was Pop's Lazy Boy Recliner, or Big Screen TV- that was his baby. But I knew video games from birth, and the 1991 Summer introduction of the Super Nintendo System quite literally rocked my world. I spent every year from 5-18 listing it at the top of my Christmas wishes. Year after year I would come home from Grandma's (where we spent our Winter holidays), crestfallen and longing for that shiny silver system. It was my Pony. So much so that even after I had received a Playstation 2, the year of my high school graduation, I still spent December 26th next door playing the neighbor's SNES.

This year some of the hottest toys are already sold out and back-ordered at major toy stores. It seems every year tenacious parents have to foresee the trends and stock up long before Black Friday, if they're to see those treasured smiles Christmas Morning. Thankfully we live in a day and age where we can not only browse and shop millions of items at our fingertips, but enjoy the benefits of competitive pricing and lightening fast shipping (right up until the day before Christmas). I do virtually all of my holiday shopping online, and one of my favorite places, for child or adult, is eBay, where I know I can find out of stock and hard to find hits. I'm also guaranteed to find unique gifts I won't see anywhere else, for a truly memorable Christmas moment. I've saved so much time and money getting my holiday shopping done online, that I've even indulged in recollecting some childhood memories; most recently the Chubble I'd misplaced in moving. Holiday shopping doesn't have to be a headache, or a disaster- check out this hilarious commercial from eBay; it about sums up the ease of click and ship gifting.

Do you have an item you asked Santa for year after year? What one toy is most iconic to your childhood?

As Required By The FTC: This is a Fashionista Events opportunity. All thoughts are my own.

Project Repat: American Made Custom T-Shirt Blanket Giveaway and Review~ 12/1

Momma Told Me: There's enough clutter in this country to clothe the world.

I still recall the first time I walked into a Salvation Army, tightly gripping Momma's hand, eyes wide with wonder at the seas of white basins, mounding over with forgotten clothes. It was unlike any store I'd ever been into before. There was an odd aroma in the air, I could not place, and people feverishly combing through racks double my height, with everything from ball gowns to jeans. Usually on our excursions out I'd be permitted to select one item, in tandem with good behavior. Momma had to hoist me up to see into the children's clothing bin; in my eyes a ball pit of rainbow fabric. In no time I had clutched onto a bright pink pair of overalls with a teddy bear applique. I look up to Momma with hope in my eyes, wondering if it was within my 'budget' (I was much too young to have a clear concept of value or money). On the left lapel where was a colored scrap of paper stapled to the denim, Momma inspected this piece of paper then looked down at me. "Yes, and you can pick out another!" I was in love.
Long before I could comprehend the delicate balance of our environment, and the waste we create within our lifetimes, I had a romantic fondness for the notion of re-purposing. There was something inherently magical that I could walk into a store and purchase something otherwise discarded by it's previous owner, and love it just as much, or more, than in it's heyday.  As a crafter, we typically frequented second hand stores with the sole intent to up-cycle, or repurpose, though I'd often find treasures of my own. Of course, through the years, I began to see the extended benefits of what we were doing, in recycling our own forgotten treasures, and purchasing those of others. Over 250 million tons of waste is generated and thrown into American landfill each year, and of that, roughly 30% is actually recycled into new materials. Of the constant output of waste, generated worldwide, an estimated 5% annually is used textiles (think clothing, blankets, tablecloths, etc). In my opinion this is one of the most upsetting statistics; there is virtually no reason a fabric based product should ever be thrown out- barring severe wear and tear. We live in a world were mechanical laundering is not only common, but typically taken for granted, and our own citizens (even our Veterans) go cold at night. When you are without a warm meal, or shoes on your feet, in the middle of Winter you care not what brand the shirt is on your back, or the pattern of the blanket around you, you are simply grateful for their existence.
You don't have to be Betty Homemaker to cut down on material waste- I live in a town where we have 7 identified drop bins for clothing collection. It doesn't get easier than taking the old clothes you were about to toss in your garbage bin, and dropping them into a slot on your way to drop the kids off at school. This is something I try to do twice a year, and even at that it seems we always have clothing that doesn't fit, or hasn't been worn in ages, just lying around in our closet. When my grandmother passed away earlier this year my younger cousins had mentioned an intent to sew some of her old clothing into baby blankets, for her grandchildren; so that her love and memory could touch children for generations. Somehow I had never heard of this concept before, as ingenious as it seemed. To take squares of fabric from a loved one's clothing and sew them together in mini-quilts for memorial is a touching and green concept. So I set out online to see if anyone was offering a service like this, memorial, or otherwise. As it turns out, someone was; Project Repat.
Short for 'RePatriot,' Project Repat focuses not only on the re-purposing of old textiles, but individuals. Their unique business model puts Americans to work at respectable jobs, earning fair and living wages repurposing old T-Shirts into scarves, handbags, and blankets. Repat is 100% USA, creating jobs and products within our country; something extremely important to me as the granddaughter of a Navy veteran. I understand that we cannot always buy USA made, but I try my best to whenever the opportunity (and knowledge of origin) is present. Putting money back into our own economy benefits us all, even if at a cost of a 2% markup over foreign goods. But with Project Repat, you're not only helping bring dignity to individuals otherwise jobless, and buying American processed, re-purposed, goods- you'll find T-Shirt quilts at 1/3 the price of alternative options. 
Project REPAT is a company of very real people, with a classic American feel for customer service and quality. When you arrive on their site you'll often be greeted personally within a few minutes. During my last visit Repat President, Nathan, flagged me down via the site's interactive customer service chat. While Repat originally began as a non-profit initiative involving the selling of T-Shirts reclaimed from Africa, the business model changed as the owners noticed a practical need for T-Shirt re-purposing. What if they could provide Americans real income earning jobs, while cutting down material waste, and offering a really unique product? All that was missing were some worthy and dedicated employees; after all President and CEO, Ross and Nathan weren't professionally textile inclined. And boy have they compiled some great Production Partners; NuPath Inc- a non-profit which employs individuals with disabilities, Precision Sportswear- a manufacturing company out of Fall River, MA (my Father's hometown) who has overcome generations of industry obstacles, and Opportunity Threads- that offers meaningful textile jobs out of North Carolina.
So how does one purchase an amazing T-Shirt quilt blanket made from their own up-cycled threads? The process is incredibly streamlined, and cost effective for the consumer. Simply visit Project Repat and add the blanket size of your choosing to check out. Be mindful that the various sizes require different quantities of old T-Shirts, ex; 4' x 3' = 12 shirts, and 7' x 7' = 49. These formulas are based on the 1' x1' squares Repat will cut from your shirts, and then sew together back to front, or front to fleece, depending on your chosen backing. Once you have paid for your blanket online you will receive a very colorful Project Repat box in the mail including an official order form (for placement instructions and special requests, as well as identification), and postage paid return mailing bag.I should note that the customer does not pay any additional shipping fees out of pocket; all of those are included in your initial purchase price.
When our Repat box arrived we already had 24 of our own, personal, retired T-Shirts set aside, with a requested 30 for completion. I didn't hesitate to take the other half on over to our local second hand store and scour the racks. We found some really great local shirts that pertained to local hangouts and themes to fill in our remaining 6 slots. I paid less than $5 for all 6 shirts, and the profits went directly back into my community through the thrift organization (WIN!) When we got home we neatly folded all 30 of the blankets as best as flat as possible and began sliding them into the prepaid mailer bag. The bag is made of thick plastic, but still tested the laws of physics with our 30 shirts (half of them were rather excessive in fabric at a size 2x). In the end I scrunched every last shirt in, almost forgetting to include my order slip, and taped the sucker up with a generous portion of duck tape. It was dubious whether my local post office would accept it but the parcel miraculously made it to Repat without incident.
The average production time for these blankets is 5-7 weeks. (So get those holiday orders in now!) However, you may 'rush' an order for a 1-2 week turnaround for an additional $50. Ours arrived within 3 weeks; though I suspect this is due to a media rush for our posting deadline. Air on the side of caution, especially this time of year, and anticipate an average 5 week production period. I could hardly wait to see our beautiful Project Repat creation and was beyond thrilled with the detail and quality in craftsmanship. It was clear skilled workers had processed our shirts and carefully sewn them together; with a lovely little fringe border around the outside. The majority of our 'fronts' are arranged on the main 'front' side of the blanket, where some printed backs appear checkered throughout the back. I have to say I'm fairly pleased with the cropping decisions and placement; though you can literally layout your blanket shirt by shirt for a nominal extra charge.
Our Repat blanket is buttersoft to the touch thanks to all of the processing (wear) we meticulously put into the shirts over the years, and quite warm considering is is double layered cotton. Repat is now offering baby blankets, a great way to memorialize your little one's first years; and would make a wonderful gift for any college student. In truth, I could see limitless cases where a custom T-Shirt blanket would make a very meaningful gift, and the eco-friendly, American made, initiative behind the company is simply the icing on the cake. If you are looking for a one of a kind family heirloom or gift this holiday season look no further- place your order today and enjoy an exclusive (and generous) 25% discount with code: mommatoldme.

What Daughter Says: Be part of an amazing movement, support American jobs, cut material waste, and experience the awesome 'T-Shirt Blanket,' with Project Repat.

One Momma Told Me reader will have the privilege of putting together their own 5' x 6' T-Shirt Blanket from Project REPAT.