Tuesday, January 31, 2012
It feels like Spring is coming early this year. It is still in the 60s and the sun is mostly shining. The Spring flowers are starting to come up and the birds are singing. Lots of birds. Singing. Early. In the Morning. In the trees. Over the driveway.
What a beauteous sight to see upon walking out to my car. Sometimes I celebrate living in the Mississippi Flyway. Sometimes I really enjoy seeing hundreds of birds of a particular species show up in my yard for a day or two. Sometimes I am fascinated by the fact that most of the migratory birds in North America fly over my neighborhood each year. And then there are days like today. The white spots on the pavement are more evidence of their visit. The mile long trail I walk was similarly festooned today. I'm just glad I was witness to the aftermath as opposed to the actual event.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Hi to the Handmade Parade.
Welcome to Quilting Gallery visitors! Thanks for stopping by. The direct link to the post about my little quilt Strange Winter is here. It is still listed on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative site if you are interested. You can find more information about this wonderful project by going here.
If you hang around a bit you will notice that I tend to ask quilting questions. I'd love to hear your suggestions and ideas in the comments. Thanks.
That's right, an envelope from AUSTRALIA. That could only mean that my swap package from Nilmerg had arrived.
The most important items in it were two Teesha Moore style patches made just for me. This first one is absolutely beautiful. I love the bright flowery fabric. I am amazed by the little tiny stitches all color coordinated to the flowers.
The second one is the gorgeous HAPPY patch. I think I said something in my questionnaire about wanting happy colors. The purple and green and orange in this are fantastic. Again, take a close look at the stitching. It almost looks like couching. The letter charms are adorable.
And then she threw in extras. The envelope practically exploded when I opened it up. I love the owls. The charms are fantastic. I don't have anything like that in my stash but I certainly know that I will be able to use them. But I absolutely laughed out loud when I saw the frog fabric. I have an long and storied history with frogs. (A long story for another day.) Let's just say that there are a fair number of people in the world who will be laughing when they see that! Not to say I don't like the fabric. I do. I am already trying to decide what is the best thing to make with it.
The whole package together. Thank you Nilmerg!!!
(I messed with the time stamp to keep my welcome message on top of the page today.)
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
My problem is that I don't know what to do with a honey bun. I can find lots of patterns for the 2 inch strips and charm packs but not so much for these narrower cuts. Any suggests?
And another question. Obviously I am going to have cut fabric to mix in with these strips. How do I judge the seam allowance on the pinked edges? Do I line up the smooth cuts with the outside edge, peak, of the pinking or with the inside, valley, of the pinked fabric? Do I cut my other strips at 1.5 inches or do I compensate for the pinks? Does anyone know how they are designed to work?
I didn't set out to buy a pair of orange shoes. I am almost embarrassed to wear orange shoes. But this particular pair was at the optimum of comfort and cost. So orange it is.
You can imagine my distress when I discovered a couple weeks ago that my toes were starting to poke a hole in the top of my shoe. This is not a problem I've ever had before with any other pair of shoes. I was stunned. I am guessing that the materials used to make it a lightweight mesh shoe are probably not that strong, or I have a defective pair. Whatever.
I tried to think of a way to make at least a temporary patch while I figured out what to do. Looking around I happened to see a box of fabric bandaids. Hmmmm.... flexible fabric already sticky on one side. So.... that is what I did. I cut the end strips off of a bandaid, maneuvered them into the toe of my shoe and went on my way.
I just realized that that was a week ago and my shoe has not ripped anymore and the bandaid is still there. I'm not sayin' this is a great household tip but it worked for me. I know. I am a dork. But I still have my orange shoes!
Monday, January 23, 2012
I know, cereal and donuts are always fine, assuming you have enough cereal or can send some one out for donuts, but the adult drivers were spread pretty thin so it was better to make do. Besides, when polled about breakfast (NOT my idea) the hungry monsters in the game room wanted pancakes. Ugh. I cannot make pancakes. Really. I can't. Let's not even go there.
I can make bread pudding. But if you call it bread pudding the monsters will revolt, or be revolted. If you call it French Toast they eat it up. So bread pudding... I mean french toast it was.
melt 1/4 cup butter in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Slop the butter around so that it 'greases the sides of the dish. (I don't know why it has to be glass, but it does. Maybe I'll do the experiment some day.) Add 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is mostly mixed in, but don't worry too much about it. Fill the dish with slices of bread. Use whatever you have. I sliced a bunch of ciabatta rolls into 3/4 inch slices and used those. You can stack or layer or slant or whatever you want. I needed it to look like french toast so I just put them in in a single layer. Whisk 6 eggs with 3/4 cup milk, 1 splash vanilla, 1 dash salt and a bunch of cinnamon. If you want to get technical it was about a tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt and about 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pour over bread in dish. Cover. Refrigerate. This can be prepped at night and can sit until the monsters come out in the morning. As soon as you hear them starting to stir, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dish and bake 30 - 40 minutes until the eggs are set and puffy. Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, milk and orange juice so you can tell their adults you TRIED to feed them something nutritious!
Definitely something I will keep in the kid recipe repertoire.
Sorry I don't have a picture. I was out driving spud one back to school and the scene in the kitchen when I returned wasn't pretty.
I'm a Craftster Best of 2011 Winner!
I was very excited to see this message in my inbox today. My slime mold quilt was was designated a Craftster Best of 2011 Winner. Thanks to all my craftster friends!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I was out shopping with a friend and I came across the most perfect shade of shot cotton. The same little shop also had a fabulous ribbon with which to embellish it. I had a plan and was ready to go. Until I discovered that I was 4 inches short of fabric. I spent days trying to figure out how to make lined handles, put a cuff on the top or insert panels into the side. I searched my stash from top to bottom to find the right fabric to use. I got so far as to cut a strip of fabric to make the cuff. But it didn't feel right. I wasn't making a happy bag.
I went back to the computer and did some more research. I finally settled on Leslie's saying, from Proverbs. It is "A happy heart makes the face cheerful".
Going from there, I got in some more practice on my embroidery software and set up a panel to embroider that had that saying. The panel was done on muslin. I used a vintage piece of polka dot fabric to construct the bag. I am pretty happy with the way it came out. And, I played by all the Morsbag rules.
Then it was on the the extras. A little matching birdie badge was a no-brainer. I had to send a chicken. I probably should have sent a turquoise one, but I just like the black ones better. I put my brave on and made her one of my tabby upcycled t-shirt necklaces. And then I just had to make her a happy heart garland. I made one for myself a couple years ago and it makes me happy! She said she liked it all. So I am very glad and very relieved. Thanks for being such a great swap partner Leslie!
Friday, January 20, 2012
I have the best spuds in the world. They decided that I wasn't feeling well and offered to make dinner. They got very creative and made a wonderful chicken and pasta dish. Look at how nicely they set the table. See the way they plated the noodles and sauce. See the cheese waiting to be grated on top?
I'm not sure what they did. I'm not sure that they know what they did. After we cleaned the dish they were discussing the process and ingredients. I asked for a bag to pack up the cheese. They thought it was parmesan. It wasn't. We're not really sure what it was, since it was a block of cheese leftover from the party so it could be anything. Whatever it was the whole thing was yummy.
Like I said, they are the best!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Day 1: Roast pork. Soak dried garbanzo beans. Eat some of pork roast. Save pan dripping for soup.
Day 2. Cook beans slowly for several hours until almost tender. Sauté carrots, onions and celery (all chopped to the approximately the size of beans) until soft. I use on onion, a handful of baby carrots, and a couple ribs of celery because they’re usually isn’t that much roast leftover. Add beans and cooking liquid, about 2 cups of chicken stock or reduced sodium broth and pork pan drippings. Skim fat or use one of these handy things. Add in diced pork (the same size as the beans). Simmer until beans are cooked through. Adjust the seasonings. (Go with whatever seasoning you used on the pork. If you used a rub or seasoning mix on the roast you may just want to add a bit more to the soup. We always use this one from Stonewall Kitchens. Add and taste often. That is the only way to get soup to taste the way you want it. Go easy on the salt and pepper until the very end. Serve with a nice crusty bread and a salad. Mmmm.
Day 3: Eat leftovers for lunch if there are any. Walk the long way round from the microwave to make sure the yummy smells permeate the office.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
... but NOTHING like the real story. Click on over to Mary Lou and Cherries Too to find out.
You can come back here when wipe your eyes and manage to get back in your chair. Just don't tell me about the coffee in your keyboard, 'cause I warned you!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
This is the first anniversary of Iron Craft over at Just Crafty Enough. In honor of that momentous occasion the first challenge is to craft something in paper. Kat and Susi have been gracious enough to let me sporadically play in their sandbox. I wanted to make something festive to mark the date.
I was looking around my crafty supplies and realized that I'd have to do some serious organizing to get to my paper. Part of that organizing would require recycling or filing a pile of junk mail. Aha! Paper beads. What would be more festive for a first anniversary than jewelry made of paper beads?
Firs I assembled my supplies: Scissors, white school glue, wooden skewers and junk mail.
Then I cut strips from the junk mail. These vary in size but they all taper at one end. I'd like to say that is because the tapered strip gives the most esthetically pleasing bead (which it does) but the real reason is that I could never cut straight strips or roll them evenly.
Hold the wide end of the strip against the wooden skewer and start to roll it up.
When you get to the end. Apply a small amount of glue. I used the end of another skewer to just cover the end. Continue rolling it up and spin it around a few times. If you have a bit too much glue, the spinning just coats the outside of the bead and keeps everything in place.
There you have it. paper beads. Wait for them to dry, shellac or varnish if you like. String and wear.
Except that I really don't want any more paper beads or party necklaces and the first bead I made stuck onto the end of the skewer. I couldn't get it off. It looked pretty cool there. Hmmmm...
What if I glue the paper strip onto the end on purpose? Then roll and glue the bead. They would all be attached just like pretty beads on fancy party picks.
And this is where the obsessive attention to random details comes in. Lets decorate wooden party picks that will be used once and then thrown away! But what a great way to celebrate a first anniversary.
Not terribly obvious but fun and colorful never the less. Cheers Iron Crafters!
Check out the flickr page for more paper crafts in Iron Craft Season 2 Challenge 1.
Monday, January 16, 2012
You just know that some who calls herself happy heart and who has set a goal of making a heart a day just has to be a wonderful person. Leslie of Leslie's Art and Sew is exactly that. She is my swap partner for the Morsbag Swap on craftster. The Morsebag is supposed to be a simple bag; easy to sew and made out of upcycled materials. Ms Leslie took that simple bag
and turned it into a work of art.
She choose to make two wonky house block pockets on the bag. One on each side. The stitching and precision on everything she made is incredible, but these houses are adorable. The fabric selection is fantastic. Not only do the colors coordinate beautifully, but the patterned boxes on the fabric are perfectly suited to the wonky house design. The framing sets it all off and the pockets themselves are beautifully lined.
In addition she made just a "few" extras. I have been admiring fabric baskets all over the internet. She made me a gorgeous version in my new favorite combo of tangerine and turquoise.
It has the cutest scissors on the inside and it already resides on my sewing table holding all the tools I need to have handy.
I had the sense to admire some lavender sachets she was making for travel. She had the great idea of making them in the form of little stuffies so that they would small good and be a little travel friend. When I was small I had a little stuffed tiger who went with me everywhere. I am going to put this little guy in my suitcase! Don't you just love the sweet face and that tiny heart button?
And then, just because she wanted to make it, she made me a lovely polymer clay ring dish. The craftsmanship is superb. I am always looking to see how things are made. So I went looking for the ends on the braid around the top. I can't find them. She connected them so smoothly or hid the connection so well that the braid looks like one continuous piece of clay. It is amazing. Oh, and there was chocolate. But the spuds found that! They said thank you very much!
I can't thank Leslie enough for such a beautiful package. It is really special to know that some one worked so hard to make such lovely gifts for some one she just met, on-line at that. I am struggling to finish the return package. In many ways I am very grateful she sent so early so that I can step up and make something special for her. (There is a bit of a hint in one of the pictures above.) Now I am off to get busy. THANK YOU Leslie!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
The Fourth of July was a potluck in the garage porch. It sounds funny writing it that way, but that was pretty much how I remember it. The food would be set out on the screen porch and we we play and run and eat all day. At some point when I was in high school or middle school the Fourth of July party moved to my parents house. Endless hours of badminton, swinging, spelling bees, eating...
But my Aunt and Uncle always had their Christmas open house. It went on all day. Aunt would greet you at the door with a mug of soup. I always had chicken noodle. The food was laid out in the dining room. It was incredible. Aunt had spent time as a professional baker and she was a world class cook. There was always something new and different. I remember tiny miniature hamburgers in the seventies, long before sliders were popular. The cookies were perfect. I can still taste the cinnamon stars. I've tried to make them, but they never are the same. Even the vegetables tasted good at Aunt's house. The serving dishes were fancy and the presentation was gorgeous.
There was a toy cupboard under the stairs. The toys there were magical. I can't even begin to tell you what they were but they were shiny and small and perfect. The cousins of all generations still talk about the toy cupboard. (No really, last week we were talking about it on Facebook!) It was a special time. A time out from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. We would go and the uncles and aunts would sit and talk and eat. I don't ever remember us kids getting unruly. We dressed up. We behaved. We ate and played and enjoyed.
As a young adult, I would stop in and visit them on my way too and from grad school. It was a joy. They exuded unconditional love. We would talk current events, family, hopes, dreams whatever seemed to be the thing. Every time, Aunt would go to the freezer and pull out some treat for a snack. She showed me her freezer once. It was as magical as the toy cupboard. Some parts of grad school were difficult for me and yet I could stop in and visit Aunt and Uncle and regain my perspective and be renewed.
My aunt became ill when I was still in school. For a couple years, I hosted the family Fourth of July party. My aunt was able to attend. We opened the time capsule. We had a wonderful time. And then she was gone.
I have always said that I inherited the holiday party from my aunt. After she passed away, I started having the party. I invited all of the relatives, my friends, neighbors and co-workers. I always aspired to Aunt's level of hospitality. In the early days, we had little money to go to fancy places so we started the tradition of Formal Attire Allowed. To this day you will see everything from blue jeans to Tuxedos at the party. Each of the spuds wore tuxes from the time they were born until they were in grade school.
I continued to visit Uncle for several years, until he moved away to be closer to his family. He had a sale when he downsized. I ended up with a wonderful chair, a dresser and Aunt's sewing machine. I sit in Uncle's chair when I blog. I am there now. It still wraps me in that feeling of love.
It has always been called Uncle's chair. When spud one was tiny, Uncle came to the Christmas party. I re-introduced him to Uncle. He looked at Uncle, looked at the chair, looked and Uncle and grabbed his hand. He dragged Uncle over to the chair and told him "That is YOUR chair." I don't recall who was sitting there at the time, but little spud one made them leave and installed Uncle. Uncle's smile that day is a precious memory.
So, for almost 30 years, I have been hosting a holiday party. The date changes, the guest list changes, some of the menu changes but it is always Formal Attire Allowed, the soup is always on the stove and there is always room for one more. And I always say a little prayer of thanks for having been the recipient of Aunt and Uncle's love.
Linky Party Tuesday
Saturday, January 14, 2012
The dining table: chocolate raspberry torte, cheese tray, tortilla chips, chocolate toffee potato chips, other stuff.
Soup goes here. There were four kinds, jambalaya, vegetarian tomato, beef barley and French onion.
Side table with bread tray, broken glass, other cheese tray, chocolate pretzel things.
The dessert table, fruit, empty cake stands, the box with the cupcakes and gingerbread boys. Fudge.
Lesson, do NOT put the on/off crockpot full of cheese dip into the basement.
Chocolate gingerbread house. Assembled by spud 3. At least he was successful using the frosting this and didn't resort to the hot glue when I wasn't looking.
The 'walk in cooler'. Otherwise known as the garage.
Another view of the dishes. They are all done now.
Yes, we are a bit over the top around here. But it is fun. Just over 60 people attended.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
You make three more. And then you realize you are left with a stack of half shirts. You could wear them, but you are upcycling because you don't wear these t-shirts anymore. Besides, that half shirt look should probably just stay in the eighties. Definitely a case of if you could wear it the first time around you ought not the second!
But what are you going to do with the rest of that fabric. Throwing half a shirt in the landfill isn't all that much better than throwing away the whole thing. So it is time to salvage the rest
Start by cutting up the sleeves. Cut off the hem and set it aside. cut the rest of the sleeve into strips.
You don't need to worry about uniform lengths here so just keep cutting and square it off when you run into the shoulder seam.
Now you can even up the top of the shirt. Just cut away the seam and square up the edge a bit. Don't worry about being too particular here. You are just going to keep cutting and stretching.
Cut your strips all the way up to the bottom of the neck hole.
If you open it out you see that there are still a few more strips of fabric to be mined here. Cut them up as well.
You can even salvage some little strips from the top of the shoulder.
You will likely notice that all of those strips from the sleeves have a seam on the end. The seam doesn't pull into thread very nicely so you will want to cut those off.
Just flip it inside out and give it a snip. You can do this with those unfortunate thrifted finds that have side seams. You thought you couldn't do much with them but this version works. Just snip out those seams.
You should now have a bit pile of strips of t-shirt fabric. You will likely have chopped up the screen-printed logo. Don't worry. It will just give your project character. Start pulling. Stretch each strip until is rolls up.
Finally you are ready to make your lovely new tabby scarf.
Grab two pieces of 'yarn' and tie them together. You know the routine. Right over left, left over right and under....
Pull those knots nice and tight. Leave the tabs on them. Keep going for about a mile or so. Ok, it only seems like a mile but you want to use most of the shirt scraps. You will get a really long pile of knotted yarn. Start coiling it up and looping it around until it looks about right. You want 12 or more loops to make a nice full scarf. Be careful with your loops. This ginormous string will tangle. If it gets too bad, you can just cut it, untangle it and then re-tie it! Yep. It's been done before!
Remember that sleeve hem you set aside earlier? You can use it to tie a slip knot around the top of the scarf. This keeps it neat and tidy and long (there is a limit to the number of times you can cut out the tangles).
Ta Da! A beautiful tabby scarf.
Or you can get crazy and mix up all your scraps. That is what I did to make this Valentines version.
Next up, what to do with all those teeny tiny pieces you cut from the sleeve and shoulder...