Monday, February 28, 2011

A Very Merry Unbirthday To You!

Happy Unbirthday to you!!!  It's time for a giveaway!

See?  I even wrote it down on new quilted To-Do chalkboard!  I made two chalkboards because this was so cute I knew I wouldn't be able to send it away if I didn't have one of my own! 

In celebration of my 31st birthday on March 3rd, there are three possible prizes you can win: 

Option#1:  Moda galore!  A Sherbet Pips chalk board and two charm packs!

Option #2:  Rainbows, rainbows everywhere!  A rainbow collection of thread, scissors, needles, and fabric!  The fabric pieces include Bliss, Hope Valley, Katie Jump Rope (green basketweave!), Daisy Chain, Tufted Tweets, Ta-Dot, and Weekends.  Pieces range from approximately fat eights to fat quarters.

Option #3:  This is the "Kelly's twin" option.  This is the sister purse of one I made for myself and a large charm bundle (each piece is about 6"x7") of Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks plus a FQ of Kona Ash.  I'm currently loving all the bee blocks my Flickr ladies are making me with these fabrics so I thought I'd share the love.  All but one of the Good Folks Prints are included (somehow I missed the chocolate Festival print!)

So, what do you have to do to win?  Just leave a comment!  Becoming a follower is great, but it's not required.  If you have an order of preference for the prizes, please say so in the comment.   Only one entry per person.  I will leave the comments open until 11:59pm CST on March 3rd and I will announce the winners on March 4th.  Good luck!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pips and Pepper Spray

My sweet hubby let me sleep in this morning (even though it was his turn to sleep in) since I was up late working on this:
This is a sneak peek at one of the items to be included in my giveaway this week! Mama, the fabric line is called Sherbet Pips, that's why the post has the work "Pips" in it--sorry fabric junkies, I have to break it down for my Mama sometimes.  My birthday is March 3rd so I've decided to have three winners!  Each winner will receive a gift and some fabric.  Yay!  Hopefully the giveaway post will be up tomorrow.

Oh, so back to my story.  I wake up, stagger out to the kitchen to get my necessary cup of coffee and my husband hands me this little black thing with a trigger on it and asks, "What's this?"  Even in my stupor, I quickly answer, "Uh, pepper spray."  DUH!  Then all the sudden he starts coughing and his eyes water.  He begins to explain he just sprayed it in the laundry room because he didn't know what it was--WHAT THE HECK?!?!?  Why would you spray a mystery substance?  Especially one that even I can readily identify as pepper spray!  I hear a small cough and realize that our baby is standing in the laundry room taking in lung fulls of the nasty stuff.  YIKES!  Off to the shower with them and my oldest too since he begins to cough and says his tongue feels funny.  Lovely.  Please, keep in mind, I have not even had a chance to pour myself a cup of coffee and now I'm dashing all over the house opening windows, turning on fans, and cleaning up my pepper sprayed family.

Next time I think I'll just get up early.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finished Brooke's Quilt!

Here's is the beautiful quilt Brooke made all quilted up by yours truly!  I managed most of it in one night and finished the rest off in the morning.  I ♥ this quilt so much and I will be sorry to send it back home to *brrrrr* Maine on Monday.

Brooke's quilt front

Brooke's quilt, close up

Brooke's quilt, larger back view

Brooke's quilt back

Brooke's quilt

Friday, February 25, 2011

Right Now I'm......

Drinking this:

Listening to this:

Getting ready to quilt this:

And thinking about what fabric I'm going to give away with this:

That beautiful quilt above was created by the talented Brooke.  I've admired her ability to combine fabrics I would never think go together into some truly inspiring work.  She doesn't quilt larger items (for now) and I begged and begged until she finally agreed to let me quilt this one!  Read all about her inspiration here.  Oh, and she's destashing some excellent fabric to save up for a fabulous trip to Iceland here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Cook Too!

*completely unrelated to this post, I just thought it was funny he climbed up there*

I haven't done a cooking post in a while so I thought I'd throw one out there.  If you don't cook, feel free to ignore this!  Though I could never see myself sewing as a job, I could definitely be a cook.  I adore making people food.  It makes me very, very happy--so long as someone else is taking care of my kids while I do it!  Today is all about Cheater Chicken and Dumplings.  You can cheat this recipe in more ways than I did and I will try to let you know other short cuts as I go along.  Ready?  Here's the recipe (in all fairness, this is a modified Emeril recipe):

  • 4 BONE IN chicken breasts you can use a whole chicken, but I don't like dark meat
    • Cheater tip, use a whole precooked rotisserie chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
    • If you are cheating and using a rotisserie chicken, pony up and buy stock, it makes a difference
    • I keep an additional cup on hand if I'm making extra dumplings (so 7 cups total)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (eyeball it)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (eyeball it)
  • 2 large onions diced
    • If you want to cheat, you can buy precut onions at most stores.  It's about 1 1/2 cups of onions
  • 1 stick of butter--yes, it MUST be real butter.  Salted or unsalted is up to you, I use salted
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white wine.  I just guess so my amount may be up to 1/3
  • 4 carrots diced.  I finely dice these because none of the boys in my house will eat a veggie if it's a big chunk, but feel free to cut carrot rounds. 
  • 3 stalks of celery, don't be afraid to use the leafy tops, they have lots of flavor!
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half.  Once more, I just eye ball it.
    • If you want to save some fat grams, they make fat free half and half
  • 5 to 8 Pillsbury HOMESTYLE biscuits cut into 6 pie wedges each = 30 to 48 dumplings.  The number depends on how many dumplings you want.  5 biscuits is plenty, but we like lots of carbs in this house! 
    • Please note, if using 8, you must cook the dumplings in two batches and use the extra cup of stock I mentioned above
  • 1 cup peas: optional, my boys won't eat them so I don't put them in
If you're starting with raw chicken:
Place 1 diced onion, 6 cups of stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and chicken breasts in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour--they're usually done at 45 for me.  Strain and reserve the broth!!!!  Lay the chicken breasts out to cool a bit, those bad boys are hot!

If you're starting with cooked chicken:
Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat in a large pot (think 6 quarts or more).  Once melted, whisk in flour and continue occasionally whisking for 3-5 minutes so flour is a toasty almond color.  If you want a super duper thick soup, you can add a bit more flour.  Be warned, flour to butter ratios should be about equal.  If you add too much flour, it won't be absorbed by the butter and your soup will be clumpy and taste like flour--yuck!  So the moral is, if you add more flour, add the same amount additional butter.  Next, whisk in the wine and chicken stock (*the reserved chicken stock if you're starting with raw chicken). 

*my store was out of fresh thyme*
Let me introduce you to my new best friend, mini wine bottles!  I don't drink white wine and I hate buying and opening a whole bottle for maybe one recipe a week.  So last week I slapped myself on the forehead and realized I could buy a 4 pack of mini bottles and have much less waste and screw on top for the same price as a full bottle! 

If you're cheating with a rotisserie chicken, you may want to add 5 cups of stock and see how it looks--if it looks thicker than you'd like your soup, add more stock.  During the cooking process of the raw chicken, the stock reduces so you don't end up with a full 6 cups.  Bring to a boil and let thicken, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the thyme, carrots, the remaining onion, and the celery.  Cook 15 minutes. 

*just stab the fork in and pull down like a lever*
While the veggies are cooking, shred the chicken.  I use a fork to do this because, duh, it's hot! You can dice the chicken if you prefer, it would be faster.  This process takes me a while because I can't stand all those little vein things or discolored parts in chicken.  Yucky!  Drives my husband nuts.  I have to trim chicken within an inch of its life before I can eat it......well, I guess it's already given it's life, but you get my point.  Add shredded or diced chicken, optional peas, and the heavy cream or half and half.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

*dumplings before*
Lower your heat just a tad to medium low and add the 5 cut up biscuits.  Cover the pot and let them cook 15 minutes.  Inevitably, I have some stuff stick to the bottom of my pot at this stage, it's no biggie.  There is a good deal more solids than liquids in this so the chicken sinks to the bottom and sticks some.  I do lower my heat, but my cast iron pot is smokin' hot by this point on almost any heat level.  *Sigh*  I miss my gas oven.

*dumplings after*
If you want more dumplings, you will have to removed some of the cooked dumplings before you cook the remaining biscuits.  I usually do this by serving  up my family's dinner, adding the remaining biscuits and an extra cup of stock and setting the timer to finish cooking the dumplings while we eat. 

*I took a few bites before I remembered to take a picture*

Voila!  Chicken and dumplings!  I guess I should mention that the reason I use the biscuits is that I hate baking.  All that measuring really stinks--I prefer to guesstimate!  Yes, I consider making raw dough baking.

Pity Party Purse

I've been sick for two weeks with a horrible cough and yesterday it began to get worse with the addition of cold symptoms (sore throat, runny nose).  I had to throw myself a pity party and make a new spring bag so I would feel better........or at least so I could have a cute purse!

The exterior and purple parts of the interior are Echino--boy, do I love their lines!--and the lining is Robert Kaufman's Metro cirles.  Many thanks to Kaelin who gave me the scraps of purple!  I had just enough to add a pop of color to the inside.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Finishes

I made a sewing machine cover for my friend, Cat.  She bribed me with flattery and said I could do whatever I wanted.  I was a bit nervous since her style is more traditional than mine, but, fingers crossed, she'll like it.  I tried for clean and modern with a bit of visual interest in the pebble quilting and hand quilting.  The light tan fabric is Essex linen cotton blend in Sand.

Next up are a sham and throw pillow that were a custom order from the lady who bought my Mendocino mermaid quilt:

Mermaid Pillows!
Custom mermaid throw pillow
Custom mermaid sham

I feel like I should be getting more done since I have a long to-do list, but I've had a persistent cough for 2 weeks that has made sleeping hard work.  I try, but usually I toss and turn and cough.  Boo!  My oldest had it for 2.5 weeks so I'm hoping there is a light at the end of this sick tunnel!  No, I have no been sewing when I should be sleeping.  For those of you who don't know, I love my sleep and am rarely in bed after 1030.  I get all my sewing done during the day (I'm a morning person).  However, being so tired is not very motivating!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Blessed Day

I am seriously blessed today!  I sold two quilts before 10am!  Wow!  My Child of the 80s and I ♥ Rainbows quilts are about to have new homes!  Hooray!  It somehow feels even more satisfying (validating?) to sell something to a perfect stranger.  Don't get me wrong, it feels great when my friends and family like what I make, but when someone you don't know loves it's fantastic! 

Speaking of selling quilts, I read a recent post on Flickr about how some people can't bear to sell their quilts or can't bear to sell them for "reduced" prices.  It's true that if you counted the hours put into each quilt and only charge minimum wage plus the cost of materials, the quilt price would seem astronomical to people unfamiliar with the work that goes into it.  I agree with these people that the "art" should be appreciated more, but I don't agree with their resentment/anger toward those of us who sell our quilts for a bit less.  I think it's a personal choice what you do with your quilts.  I usually add up what I think the quilt has cost me and then add a "fee" for my time based on the size of the quilt--not an hourly wage.  From my browsing on etsy, my quilts are slightly less than average for their size, but that doesn't bother me.  I'm not trying to run a business, just recoop a little of what I put into a project. 

For me, it's the creativity and enjoyment of the process that I love.  I have no desire to keep every quilt I make, just the opposite in fact.  It makes me sad to see a huge pile of unused quilts.  I saw a blog post recently where the blogger took pictures of her cabinet full of quilts.  This makes me shudder!  All those pretty quilts going unused and unloved!  However, to each her own!  If that makes her happy to stack all those quilt prettily in a cabinet, great, but I don't want anyone to make me feel guilty for selling my own work at prices I feel are adequate.  No one can force you to sell your work, nor force you to sell it at a price that seems unreasonable to you.  I posted something similar on the Flickr discussion, but then removed it for fear of being attacked.  Those quilt ladies are feisty! :)

Sorry for the rant, but it's been on my mind.  Do you guys have any thoughts about this?

Oh, and just so I don't have a post without a picture
Roarke got put in time out the other day and he got really quiet (not the usually crying/kicking/screaming).  When the timer went off, I checked on him to find he had fallen asleep on the stairs!  I guess he needed a nap, not a time out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Urban Home Goods Swap

Emmaline apron side 1, UGHS
Emmaline apron side 2, UGHS
I'm participating in the Urban Home Goods Swap on Flickr and I thought an apron with Anna Maria Horner fabrics would work nicely as her big item.  Half aprons are a much quicker (and cheaper) project, but I just think a full size apron is more practical.  I know when the spaghetti sauce pops on me it always gets on my clean white t-shirt, not my dirty blue jeans.  I have no need for another apron since I have three, but this one, by far, is my favorite.  This is the Emmaline pattern from Sew Liberated.  I modified the straps a bit since I heard it would be better to have them adjustable (they're supposed to be one solid halter piece).  This made total sense to me--everyone is a different shape and height, I doubt one strap length would work for everyone.  So I knew I was going to make two pieces to tie around the neck.  After reading the instructions on finishing the bodice with homemade bias binding......lets just say I got a little lazy.  I decided to leave an opening at the top of the apron to turn it--the instructions say to leave the opening at the bottom.  Then, I made straps from the bias binding I had cut by folding it in half, sewing 1/4" seam down the open side and turning them right side out.  Oh, before I sewed the straps, I angled the ends to mimic the ends of the apron back tie.  Next, I put the unfinished ends in between the top of the two bodices (remember I left the top open),  in the far corners.  Pin. Pin. Pin.  Then I top stitched 1/8" and a 1/4" seams across the top to close the bodice and secure the straps to the apron.  You do lose the aesthetic of having the solid color along the sides of the bodice, but frankly, my way was SO much easier, faster, and required no hand sewing.   I don't regret it in the least!!!

As a side note, while I was making the apron a friend asked me to make her a sewing machine cover.  I asked if she disliked any colors so I wouldn't put them in her cover.  She said red and purple.  ha ha!  I guess I can't use the leftovers from this apron!

Anywho!  Back to the Urban Home Goods Swap...I haven't decided on the second item yet.  Any suggestions?  Pot holder?  Something for her sewing room?  I'm actually glad this swap group has limited the items sent to two--I'm one of those people that goes overboard without meaning to.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Scarf!

(please don't judge me from these pictures! My hair is in a ponytail since I haven't showered and the only makeup I have on is mascara.  YIPES!)

During a recent failure on my fabric diet, I ordered some Anna Maria Horner velveteen and voile from (on MAJOR sale!).  I decided to make the Figure 8 scarf that AMH has as a free tutorial on her website.  I didn't have the full 72" in length, only 36", so I just cut and paste--i.e. just sewed two 36" pieces together before proceeding with the instructions.  Also, I didn't make it as wide as the directions call for, I made it 13.5" instead of 18" because 18 just seemed HUGE......and if I didn't cut it 18", I can get two scarfs from 1 yard of voile and 1 yard of velveteen.  :)  I don't really have much need for a scarf here in Florida, but I like it all the same!  Now I just have to decide who to make the other one for!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mermaids and Mystery Stains

I finished Amy's block for VIBs tonight.  She asked for triangles, but I had to throw some parallelograms in there so I could get bigger pieces of mermaids.  I think she gave me those trusting I would highlight the mermaids.  I hope I didn't disappoint!  This block measures 16.5" (finishes at 16")
Amy's block

I am also sad to report this mystery stain on my Nicey Jane quilt.  I was going to donate it to Tracey for charity.  I took it out to take some new/better pictures only to discover this blue mystery stain that runs through the quilt to the other side.  I have no idea what it is or where it came from.  Two months ago I had given the quilt to a member of my guild to see if it would work for a friend of hers who was looking for a baby quilt.  I know it was perfect when I gave it to her and I never looked at it when I got it back (they said it wasn't "baby" enough).  I honestly don't know if this happened while the quilt was in her posession, but I'm heartbroken I can't get it out.  I had a few people suggest rubbing alcohol since it looks like ink, but it hasn't worked yet.

In other crafty news, I made a new skirt (AB's Barcelona pattern, the A-line skirt version) with some of my AMH voile.  It came out nice, but I need to cut some off the top of the pattern next time.  I already knew the skirt was long so I trim about 3-4 inches off the bottom, but the skirt also sits high on me--I prefer my skirt to sit on my hips, not up by my waist.  Sorry, no picture right now.  I don't see the point of posting just a picture of the skirt without a body in it and I'm too pasty white right now to pose for a skirt picture! :)  Speaking of skirts, does anyone have a good tutorial/tips/website to teach me about heming a skirt?  I can do it, but, being circular, sometimes there are tiny bunches on the underside of my hem.  It doesn't show on the outside, but I don't like knowing it's there.

I have patterns to make two new tops (also with AMH voile) to hopefully add to my wardrobe.  I'm a total novice at clothing, but I tried to choose my patterns wisely by researching extensively on  I'll keep you all posted!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Block Party!

In case you all haven't heard (which I doubt), Quiltstory is having a block party with some super fab prizes! 

Fresh Poppy Design

I'm a little intimidated to enter since there are some fantastic blocks already entered, but nothing ventured nothing gained, right?

This is my entry for the "traditional" category.  This was a block I made for Rene in Putting the Bee In Christmas VQB.

block #2 for Rene

Next up is my modern block.  This one was for Anne in The Stitchin' Bee.  She was making her hubby a "math" themed quilt. 

Pi anyone?

Finally, my entry for creative block.  This one was for Tracey, also from Putting the Bee In Christmas.  Tracey wanted a ticker tape tree and I decided to be a tad unconventional.

Tracey's Tickertape Tree

You should all go check out the other entries!  There are some mighty talented bloggers out there!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Finish of February!

Heather Ross Mendocino quilt.  Enough said.  :)  Now listed in my etsy shop.  UPDATE:  Sold!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Child of the 80s Quilt

So I finished my 4th quilt for the month of January!  It came out of the dryer last night and I love it!  In the interest of full disclosure, I had some binding issues.  I never make bias binding and this quilt reminded me why.  I cut the wrong way, or have the fabric folded incorrectly, or sew the strips with the 45 degree angel the wrong way, or the stripes go in the opposite directions, etc.  It was a nightmare!  I needed about 1/2 yard of fabric for the binding, but I used my whole yard because I made so many mistakes!  I was so angry at myself!  I know there are tons of tutorials for cutting bias binding, but, seriously, my brain just has issues with this concept. 

You can find it in my etsy shop.

Also, I received my shoe order from Beth yesterday and I couldn't be happier!!!  Cian loves his new kicks!

If any of you are in the market for baby shoes up to size 24 months, bibs, baby blankets, etc, check out Beth's store!
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