Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fat Quarter Swap Received

I signed up recently for the fat quarter swap over at Stitches and Scissors, and today a package arrived from my swap partner, the lovely Marilyn. Prior to selecting her fabrics to share, she asked me what colours I would like, and I specified anything in orange, brown, or turquoise. She delivered on all three counts and even dipped into her stash to complement the 2 fat quarters she was sending.

Yay! Beautiful pieces - thanks Marilyn! Can't wait to use them! (although I may just stroke them lovingly for awhile!)
I took an easy route and ordered directly from etsy since Marilyn is in the US - I thought it would be quicker. Marilyn specified she would prefer a surprise, so I sent two fat quarters from Anna Maria Horner's newest collection, which I love! I'm sure Marilyn will make something fabulous.
Swaps are fun. I might be hooked. . .
- Donna

Toronto Craft Alert's Crafty Slacker Get 'er Done Giveaway

The folks over at Toronto Craft Alert are hosting a brilliant giveaway. Got an abandoned project lying around that you want to finally finish? Now's the time to get 'er done. Enter this contest by posting pics of your forgotten craft effort in their flickr pool and you could win the most awesome goodie basket put together by kind contributors, valued at over $700. Major crafty treasures, folks!

Anyone can enter, you don't have to live in Toronto.

I'm going to get my daughter's mobile done. Finally. She's only 6 months old, that's not so terrible, is it??

I started this mobile soon after seeing the pattern on spool's blog. I was about 4-5 months pregnant, and I happily sat in coffee shops stitching and stuffing birds and showed them off to my midwife as I got them done. My girlfriend Holly chipped in a few birds as she was itching to stitch. I seemed on track to get this mobile up and hung before baby made her appearance.

On Canada Day (July 1 for our international readers) my family and I were walking home from the pool at the end of our street and we spotted a pile of branches in someone's trash bin. I thought "score! perfect for my mobile!" so we brought them home, affixed a bungee cord around them, and put them on our back deck. A month went by, then two, three. It got cold, they got rained on. We brought them inside, leaned them up besides the chair in our living room, even hung some Christmas lights on them over the holidays to make them more festive.

But they weren't festive. Dirty bungee cord and all. My husband removed the cord a few weeks ago and looped white baker's twine around them. A definite improvement, but I'm not done with those branches yet.

This mobile is getting assembled this week. And not too soon, as baby m is getting moved out of our room on the weekend. Sadly, she's moving into my craft room as she's not sleeping through the night and we can't get her into her crib, which sits empty in her sister's room. Here's hoping this is just a temporary sleeping arrangement and I can have my craft room back soon. Otherwise I'm going to have many more abandoned crafts in my future.

- Donna

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

En Route

I finally managed to get my mobile finished up this evening and just in the nick of time. I was waiting to be able to collect the branches outside, but it wouldn't stop snowing long enough for me to get out there. The latest storm dumped 48cm of snow on us in less than 24 hours. To add salt to the wound, there's talk of another 20cm on the way, but I digress.
The mobile is packaged up and ready to make it's way to a far away land. I hope my partner enjoys this as much as I do mine!~Sara

Mobile Swap Received or Winning the Lotto

On my way home from work last night, I stopped to check the mail. A wonderful surprise was waiting for me inside - a card telling me there was a parcel at the post office with my name on it. It's great when you get a parcel right in your post box, but when you get the card instead, the anticipation can't be beat. Who will it be from? What will it be? Is it my mobile? If it is, I wonder who my partner was... I had no idea what beauty was inside the box, but I knew it was going to be good just by the vintage wallpaper it was wrapped in and the perfectly hand printed addresses. I barely made it to the car before I was holding up my very own precious mobile. It is fantastically sweet and so very creative. I think you'll agree...

I love, love and love it. I've had it hanging in multiple locations and can't decide where it's final resting place should be. It looks just right no matter where I hang it. Thank you so much, Des. You've brightened my spirit!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I give you my first free motion quilted, zig zag baby quilt:

I am pleased with how it turned out, for the most part. There's one pucker on the back that is bothering me eventhough it isn't half as bad now that I've washed and dried the quilt. I could also use a bit more practice on mitred corners, but that will come in time. I really enjoy binding a quilt (save for the corners) because it's at that point when the quilt really comes together.

Would I do it again? Certainly. In fact, I have a coin quilt in the works as I type. Will I be better prepared the next time around? Definitely. In fact, I went right out and procured the necessary items - in bulk! I'm hoping that can of spray glue will be my dream come true. We shall soon find out!


First ATC received

Seriously sweet. This is shaping up to be my favorite kids swap. Elias, you've got talent!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How I Spent my Sunday Evening

It's late. I want to be done this job. I have a long way to go and many threads to pluck. Who knew I could do so much damage in less than 15 minutes of free motion quilting?
I had grand plans of using cream coloured thread on the sashing, and then swapping it out for a coloured thread for the blocks, while keeping cream thread on the bobbin as the back is mostly creamy fabric. I picked out a juicy orange thread, but with a two and a half year old who has access to my sewing area, it went missing. I grabbed a colour that I thought would work (turquoise) and it DID.NOT.
Ah well, starting on the outside working in when it's your first quilt (even a tiny doll one) is not a good idea, I don't think. I got it all quilted, all around the edges, and then realized I should have done a much better job pinning the darn thing. Plus, I can't seem to get my tension set quite right, so two colours is not a good idea since the bobbin thread peeks through ever so slightly on the top. Not pretty. Using one colour will mask this a bit, although it would be best if I could get the tension set perfectly.
So it' s back downstairs to the seam ripper I go. *grumble, grumble* The amount of time ripping versus sewing is madness. Madness I tells ya.
- Donna

Sunday Stash

Just received in the mail this week, some lovely reclaimed bed linens from Whimsie Dot's etsy shop. This was the last of my January etsy orders. . I'm sticking to the no purchasing pact Sara and I made. (even if it's killing me a little bit!)

Some pretty great stuff - not sure what I'll do with it yet but I love the combinations and they sorta scream girl baby quilt. We'll see.

- Donna

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed."

- Michael Pritchard

I decided to jump in with both feet and get to quilting this quilt last night. I started by taping the back to the floor which I hadn't thought of doing before and am so glad I read about it somewhere in my travels because it made a world of difference while pinning. I pinned until I didn't have any pins left to pin with and then I took the plunge. So far, I am pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the quilting process is going. I am a little over 1/3 finished (I had to put it aside to watch Grey's otherwise I might have gotten further!) and no major catastrophes to speak of yet...knock on wood. It's all I can think about and I cannot wait to get it in the washer so that I can see those beautiful puckers this style of quilting produces. If you need me tonight, you know where I'll be!


Sew, Mama, Sew! Fat Quarter Swap

I always get nervous when I'm sending out a swap, that my partner(s) will be disappointed with what I send. Is this grandma fabric? I like it, but that doesn't say much because I have been told on countless occasions and from a very young age that I'm a grandmother before my time. At any rate, they're in their envelops waiting to be sent to their rightful owners. I. heart. swaps.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

An ode to my ice cream maker

Oh Ice Cream Maker, how I love thee. You deliver tasty, cold, delicious treats with no chemicals. The ice cream that emerges from your depths is creamy, and does not foam when it melts (as does this brand). The sorbet that slides out of your tub is fruity and sweet and memorable. The sherbet, light yet complex.

My sister gifted me an ice cream maker for Christmas (pictured above). My husband has a hate on for one-purpose kitchen appliances, but I do believe he's come around thanks to the luscious treats I've served up thus far: caramelized pear ginger ice cream, vanilla bean fudge ripple studded with chunks of homemade almond roca, cranberry orange sorbet, mocha sherbet. Last night we added peach frozen yogourt to the list.

Oh so tasty.

Here's the recipe, along with a few photos from the proces.

Peach Frozen Yogurt
From David Leibowitz's Perfect Scoop
Makes about 3 cups.

1 1/2 lbs ripe peaches (about 5 large peaches) [I used up the last of the lovely Ontario summer peaches frozen in our freezer and this worked just fine)
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (I used Hewitt's all natural)
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice (woops. had the lemons out but was bouncing a baby on my hip and forgot to add this. I imagine it would have brightened the flavour a tad)

Peel the peaches, slice them in half, and remove the pits. [Or, conveniently pull a bag that has been thus prepared months ago by your husband]. Cut the peaches into chunks and cook them with the water in a medium, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the sugar, and chill in the refrigerator.

When the peaches are cool, puree them in a food processor or blender with the yogurt until almost smooth but slightly chunky. Mix in a few drops of lemon juice. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

So easy and pretty healthy as well. No foaming here.

- Donna

One more Valentine's Day Craft

I made a few of these totally last minute as we were heading out to a dinner party on Saturday. Two little girls, the same age as my M were going to be there so I did up little bags with a few chocolate kisses, some stickers, and a barrette. Cute to see the girlies put them in right away. I used 100% wool felt and what a treat to work with it is. Craft felt now just feels wrong. I should probably plan on winning the lottery soon so I can order many, many felt bundles from here.

- Donna

Procrastination Nation

Alright, so you'll have to pardon the pictures - it was late and there was no natural light to be found. I was so relieved to have the top of this sucker finished, I wasn't waiting around for the sun to wake up to get a picture of it!

It's measuring 54"x39" unquilted and unbinded (I'm pretty sure those aren't words). I find it quite large for a baby quilt myself, but I'm hoping once I get it quilted and get the binding on, it'll frame it up nicely and it won't look so gigantic. I also finished the back and cut the batting to size, but that's where my determination motor started to sputter and finally stalled. Next step: free motion quilting something larger than a barbie sized quilt. YIKES! So I did what any terrified person faced with such a horror would do - I got my Sew, Mama, Sew! Fat Quarter Swap all bundled up, made cute mailing labels and affixed them to the envelopes, cut out Donna's 5x5 for March and even wrote her card up to go along with them. Then I went to bed. Ahh, the fine art of procrastination!

Things I did on this quilt top that I know never to do again:

1. Use 4 inch squares to make the triangles that make the zig zags. Too small and time consuming. Go big or stay out of the sewing room.

2. Buy only two meters of white fabric. There's nothing wrong with having a lot of white fabric, Sara. Don't be afraid.

3. Make bobbins mid project. Think ahead, woman. Make several bobbins before you do anything else. You'll thank me later (thank you, Self!).

4. Choose fabric with a directional pattern for a zigzag quilt. I really had to stretch my brain to manage getting the pattern all going in the same direction. Sara, you quilt to relax, not to exercise your cerebral cortex!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Big E's ATC Swap

Is it because I'm her mother that I find these so heart wrenchingly adorable, or do you see it too? These are Big E's contributions to the Kids Artist Trading Card Swap going on over at House on Hill Road.

I sent them all off last evening, so they should be in the hands of their collectors soon enough. I was impressed to see that out of the 6 children in Big E's group, 4 were boys. I don't know about Big E, but I am really anxious to see what turns up on our doorstep!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Stash

I had been coveting this Heather Ross fabric for way too long, so I bit the bullet and ordered up before there was none to be had. I'm so glad I did, it's adorable.

I have a top secret plan for the VW print that I am so excited about, but can't share because then it wouldn't be top secret anymore, right?! And the bikes, well they just make me so darned happy. I used to have a bike JUST like that when I was little and it was even orange. In fact, it was my first bike so that's probably why I have such a deep love for this fabric. How oh how will I ever cut into it?

I found it on Etsy at Top stitch Studios and again, great service. She sent along some teaser scraps that make me want to put in another order, but Donna and I have made a pact to not order anything for the entire month of February. All of a sudden February is the longest month of the year!

What fabric have you been coveting?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mobile Swap

Over the past year I have been admiring all of the participants in the Elsie Marley Mobile Swap. In that same time, my love for polka dots, red and mushrooms has grown exponentially. Why not bring the two together, then? It was obvious what I should do when I signed up for this years swap.

I haven't contacted my swap partner yet (it was optional) so that I could share the progression of the mobile as I went along. I am satisfied with the mushrooms, but I have them hanging from an embroidery hoop and it doesn't work at all. So I'm druming up another idea for what these little pretties will hang from which may involve a hike in the woods. The weather isn't cooperating, so it'll have to wait. Good thing I started fairly early!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Slow But Sure

This project is coming along nicely. I really wish I had more time with it, but I don't so I just have to make the most of what little time I do have! I am really enjoying this process and am using some of the great tips I've found in my travels here in blogland. There are just so many great resources to learn and get inspiration from.

I really love this pattern (hint, hint!) and think the method she uses for cutting the squares is brilliant. I also took advantage of this little hint over here. Such a time saver, not to mention the mess of thread you avoid.

I am a little nervous for the next stage of this, but I guess the best thing to do is jump in with both feet and consider it a learning experience if it doesn't work out!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day - not just for lovers

I'll admit that I've always thought that Valentine's Day was a bit of a commercial grab - I've never been a fan of giving gifts on Valentine's Day to my sweetheart, and I've never felt this rush of love on February 14 just 'cause Hallmark says I should.

But, but.

I do remember the pure joy of making or writing on store bought valentines (depending on my mom's energy or my willingness to get crafty), and handing them out to friends. Sometimes little candies would accompany these. . conversation hearts or cinnamon hearts.

Thing is, I have kids now! I can relive these FUN parts of holidays and be innocent again. Yippee!!!

I decided to make some sugar cookies and decorate them for my daughter to gift to her daycare buddies. I have been meaning to try slightly fancier royal icing decorated sugar cookies, and so I turned to my trusty friend, Baking, by Dorie Greenspan. I love this cookbook - I feel as though Dorie is leaning over my shoulder guiding me. She write very conversationally, which I enjoy. And her recipes (at least the ones I have tried so far, have been bang on).

I think they turned out pretty well, and I can't wait for Big M to give them out at daycare.

(Can you tell that by the last cookie I was trying to use up the red icing? Those are some BIG polka dots!)

Here's Dorie's Sugar Cookie recipe. One of the best I've tasted:

Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Excerpted from Baking: From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I think we keep our house too cold . . room temperature in our house requires a quick zap in the microwave)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated — because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

3. Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you — I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you're going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.4. If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies — I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you've rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

5. If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between the cookies.

6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you'd like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

7. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Make some today. You still have time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Be Mine

These are my big E's valentines for her class this year. I covered AERO bars with the prettiest scrapbooking paper I could find and tied them up with matching ribbons. I had wanted to try this idea for a while now and thought that they'd be perfect as valentines. I did 20 in all and finished them in 2 evenings. Not that I spent the whole evening doing them each time, just that I stole some time on 2 separate occasions to get them finished! It was probably 2 hours work in total, but it really isn't work when you're dealing with pretties like these, is it?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quilting along with Sew Mama Sew

Sew Mama Sew is hosting a doll quilt sew-along. Having never made a quilt, and being just a beginner sewer, I'm very excited about participating. Click on over to find part one of the series here and part two here.

I'm a bit behind, but I have started. Being home all day sounds great in theory, and while I'm enjoying maternity leave immensely, a baby who will not nap and prefers to be held all day is getting a bit wearing. Ah well, I remind myself that my machine is not going anywhere and this brief period in my child's life will be gone in a wink. Can't help but wish I was sewing during my last leave with my first daughter . . .she NAPPED. But as I said, I'm just new at this whole sewing thing.

On to my quilt.
I decided to try and encorporate some of the pieces I've received from Sara in our 5 X 5 swap, some of the fabric I've picked up at the local thrift store, and some bits and bobs from scrap packs I keep buying. I tried to limit how many colours I used, sticking with orange, brown and turquoise as the predominant tones. Since I was cutting 3.5" squares from some larger pre-cut squares, I had some small bits left over, so I decided to make a strip to include on the back. This is the layout I'm going with for both scrappy sides:

I actually have the front almost entirely pieced and the back strip is also done - soon I'll be on to part two, by which time part three will be posted on the sew along. I love how this internet thing works. Keeps me motoring and inspired all the time.

Are any of you participating?

- Donna

Parcel received!

Poor Donna finally received her February 5x5 from me. The mail seems to go faster from West to East and slower from East to West. Go figure. This is what I sent her with a red theme in honor of Valentines day:

The first one on the left is vintage. When my step-grandmother passed away, I went through her sewing trunk and took out all kinds of great fabric. That particular piece is from an unfinished skirt. I also have quite a few blocks for a quilt that I'd like to finish up and give to my step mom at some point. It's something I really want to do, but am putting it off because it'll be the biggest quilt I've worked on and that's just scary!

So now on to Donna and I and a testament to our Kindred Craftiness:

We both included homemade valentines inspired by ideas found over at Purl without discussing it beforehand! If that's not kindred, I don't know what is!!