"...for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Happenings!

W-O-W!!! Did this holiday weekend become jam-packed with food, family and fun!! I've spent today just trying to figure out exactly which day of the week it is! It's Sunday, for the record :)

Pretty Thanksgiving Table :)

I managed to clean up my scrapbooking/cardmaking room, which is otherwise known as the dining room :) I love setting my pretty blue table for Thanksgiving. It's the only time in the year it looks so nice!

On Friday we went to my grandparent's house for an old-fashioned family get together! It's been a long time since that many of us were together... at one point there were 18 people eating in the dining room, living room and kitchen! it was nice to see some cousins and aunts and uncles I haven't seen in a few years.

I spent the majority of the time visiting on Friday laughing, talking, eating, and embroidering! I hate to sit around doing nothing, so I brought along a little project....

Name Embroidery
I'm making new stockings for Hubby and I, and I embroidered our names for the cuffs.

Saturday was spent with my great aunt and uncle (Mom's aunt and uncle). They are truly some of my favorite people! We had a really lovely time, and we got to go out to Maggiano's for lunch! Maggiano's has *really* good food... and they don't skimp on it, either :)

Today I've been cleaning and getting the Christmas decorations out. I'm currently pinning out the new Christmas tree skirt I made...

Tree Skirt

I did a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping, too.... from the comfort of my computer chair! Quilthome.com (THE best place on the internet for the hottest designer fabrics!) had 25% all quilting and home dec fabrics... SCORE!! I have a bunch of Amy Butler solids coming, as well as some of my fav Kaffe clouds, some Heather Bailey for a border and binding on a quilt, and some Joel Dewberry "Deer Valley" fabrics that I want to make a bag with. Fabricworm.com also had a sale, and I bought some of the new Sandi Henderson "Meadowsweet" fabrics from them. I can't wait until it all comes :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

By popular request...

Jennie's Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Disclaimer: these are NOT "diet" potatoes. They are completely delicious potatoes. :)

5 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed but NOT peeled
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
about 12oz sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

cut the potatoes into chunks and boil in just enough water to cover them. Put the cloves of garlic in the water too, and boil them with the potatoes.

When the potatoes are soft, drain out the water. Add the milk, salt, pepper, butter and sour cream and smash together until creamy.

Whip with a wooden spoon until fluffy.

Make these potatoes a day before you want to serve them so the flavors can mellow together. I put them in a casserole dish and re-heat in the oven.

Have wonderful Thanksgiving, US friends, and have a lovely day, International friends!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fred The Octopus

I recently joined the "Hoop Up! Stitch And Send" swap over on Flickr! I'm so excited- it's hosted by John (QuiltDad) and I just know it's going to be tons of fun! It starts in January 2010. I'm going to be a "stitch boss" for it, too, making sure that the "stitcheroos" in my group keep things moving :)

I was browsing through some online coloring pages (one of the best sources for free embroidery patterns!) when I came across...

Fred The Octopus
Fred the octopus! Well, I named him Fred. He was nameless, poor thing, when I found him. He was just begging to be embroidered, so I transferred him to fabric and whipped out the ol' thread and needle!

I finished him into a circle to make it look like he was outside a port window. Now he hangs on the wall near my sewing machine and keeps me company :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leftover "Pie Crust" and The Bags In Action!

What a nice weekend I had! It was so laid back, and happy! I got a lot of sewing done. Before I shaved off part of a finger, anyway. I think Hubby is just about ready to ban my use of rotary cutters! But that would mean HE would have to cut out all my quilt pieces, since there's no way I'd give up quilting. So we just keep the bandages and Neosporin in stock and go from there :)

I worked most of the weekend on this....

Christmas Tree Skirt Beginning
It's a new Christmas tree skirt! Well, this is 1/3 of one, anyway... I am SO happy with it! It's made with plain strip sets and the 10 degree wedge ruler from Phillips Fiber Art. It's amazingly simple, really. The only "issue" is that the edges of the wedges are completely on the bias, so they need to be handled very gently. I have all the rest of the wedges cut out and sewn into pairs, so it should only take a couple hours to finish the top. Then I need to do the hard part (for me, anyway...) quilt it! I think I'm going to have to pin this one and do it on my regular machine. It would be difficult to quilt it the way I want to on my frame.

Some other things...

Leftovers Mini Top
I took the leftovers from my "Pie Crust Pile Up" quilt and made a mini! I just love this little quiltie :) I am still deciding how I want to quilt it.

And, the grocery bags in action!!

Pretty Groceries!
I got so many compliments on these bags... people were definitely looking! They certainly are a lot brighter and happier than those drab "green" bags most grocery stores carry. Many people asked me where I got them... it was fun to see the look of surprise when I said I had made them. I guess there are a lot of people out there who don't craft and create things.

Those poor people... I really feel sorry for them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Other Stuff

Sometimes I go a little nuts and do some crafty things that don't involve a sewing machine! Yesterday was one of those days...

Simple Christmas
I designed the Christmas card I plan to send out for this year! It's super simple, but I think it's just so darn cute!! Now I need to make a lot (LOT) of them. I like to mail my cards by December 1, so I need to get cracking!

I also sat down yesterday and pulled out a book I found on vacation. It's called "Knitting Circles Around Socks" and it interested me because it is a technique to make a pair of socks at the same time, on the same circular needles. The best part is? It actually works!! Which is super amazingly cool because I actually want to knit socks now, when I can make them a pair at a time!

A Pair At A Time!
Here's my start! The yarn is "Socks That Rock" by Blue Moon Fibers. They come up with the funniest color names... this one is called "Faulty Dryer"! It's 100% superwash merino wool- so soft!

If you are a beginner, or a "pre-beginner" to socks, I have 2 books to recommend very highly:

Sock Books
Start with the book on the right- Ann Budd's step-by-step isntructions are outstanding!! Once you're comfortable with the idea of knitting socks, try the book on the left. Knitting them a pair at a time is so satisfying- you can wear them right away!!

I knit socks on two circular needles, and highly recommend it. I found double pointed needles to just be frustrating. They were constantly falling out and getting lost. Knitting on circular needles is especially nice for travelling, since the cables keep everything connected :)

Today's plans include binding my STUD quilt and sending it off to Norway and cutting all the cardstock for the Christmas cards. I also have some cleaning to do but hopefully that won't take very long :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner!!

OK, boys and girls! Here it is!! There are 188 comments (O-M-G!!!).

Using the random number generator at Random.org, the winner is #76!!! Sorry, I can't get the screen capture to work... but I SWEAR that's what it says!!

#76 is:

"Mary Grace McNamara said...
Happy Anniversary to you! What a great giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win such nice gifts.MGM from Leominster, Massachusetts"

Congratulations, Mary Grace! Thank you so much for leaving me such a lovely comment! If you will send your mailing address to the e-mail in my profile, I'll get your threadcatcher and fabric out to you!!

If you didn't win and want to make your own threadcatcher, you can buy the pattern online from Tammy Tadd Designs.

Thank you so much to everyone who came by and participated in my blogiversary!! I had so much fun reading all the comments and visiting new-to-me blogs! Here's to another year :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cool Giveaway!

One of my favorite Etsy sellers, FabricSupplies, has launched their own website, http://www.hawthornethreads.com! They are having an awesome giveaway to celebrate... go here to sign up to win!!

Then check out the fabrics they sell... fantastic selection at great prices! I think half the fabric I've bought in the last 6 months has been from them :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Retreat Fun And One UFO In The Bag!

This past weekend I was at a quilting retreat that's organized by my friend Vicki! I LOVE this retreat, we always have so much fun- and this time was no exception!

I was really productive at this retreat, too!!

First off, for the Tallgrass Prairie Studio "Joy In the New Year" UFO challenge, I got one (out of ten) done!!

Retreat Projects
These grocery bags were designed by the same Vicki who organized the retreat! These six have been cut out and ready to put together since May 2009. I got a bit of work done on them at a retreat in September, but they were STILL unfinished! My first priority at the retreat was to put those suckers together... and I did! Now I have six fabulous grocery bags to do my shopping with- maybe I'll actually enjoy grocery shopping :)

Vicki has a pattern almost ready to go for these bags. I'll let you know when you can get your hands on it!

Retreat Projects
This super amazingly fast pattern is by Terry Atkinson, and it's called "Pie Crust Pile Up". I made mine with fabrics from the "Eva" collection by BasicGrey. The background is a really pale green that Vicki and I found in the shop to go along with the Eva fabrics.

I think this is my new favorite pattern! I started cutting it out at 3pm, and was showing off the finished top at 10pm. And that was with a break for dinner!

Retreat Projects
And lastly I made myself a thread catcher like the one for the giveaway, since I liked it so much I almost considered NOT giving it away :) I had enough fabrics left over to squeak another one out, so I did!

I also worked on those owl blocks, and made a lot of progress on my zig-zag Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along top (which is also on the UFO list!).

The blogiversary giveaway is going until Wednesday, so make sure to leave a comment on that post to get entered to win! I've had a blast reading comments and visiting new blogs, and I thank all of you for coming to my blog and leaving me such lovely comments!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Re: Tutorial Request

Some people have asked for a tutorial for the threadcatcher. It is a published pattern, so unfortunately I can't do that.

You can go to http://www.tammytadddesigns.com/ and order a copy of the pattern!

A Quick Check-In!

Hi everyone! I'm having a BLAST at my quilt retreat! I've also been reading all your comments- thanks!

Make sure to comment on the giveaway post to enter to win!

Friday, November 6, 2009

My First "Blogiversary" And A Giveaway!

One year ago today I started my quilt blog! I started it for a couple reasons: to meet other quilting bloggers, and to give myself a place to show off my projects. I have met so many amazingly wonderful people through this blog- I am inspired each and every day by the blogs I read, and I am so thankful for all my creative bloggy friends!

To show how much I love you all, I'm doing a giveaway!!!
Isn't this just the cutest thing? It's a pincushion/thread catcher that was designed by Nan, a woman who works at Tammy Tadd Designs. If you have the fall 2009 Quilt Sampler magazine, look on page 6- they featured it along with several other cute pincushion patterns!!
I made this one with "Flutterby" fabrics by Tula Pink for Moda. The pincushion has waterproof sterile sand in it.

Also for the giveaway, charm packs and "Taddles"! There are charm packs from "Birdie", "Love U" and "Wonderland", all from Moda. The box contains 13 "Taddles" of "Be Merry" by Riley Blake- "Taddles" are 11" squares that they cut and sell down at Tammy Tadd Designs.

One person gets all this!!
How to enter:

Leave me a comment! Tell me where you're from! Wish me a happy blogiversary :) That gets you one entry into the giveaway.

Become a follower! Leave me a separate comment that you've become a follower, and that gets you another entry! If you are already a follower, leave that in a separate comment so you get a second entry too.

Blog about my blog/giveaway! Leave another (separate) comment that you've done this, and you get a third entry :)

I'll be picking from the total number of comments, so be sure to leave separate comments about following and blogging to get your extra entries!

I will pick a winner on Wednesday, November 11 at 12pm (noon) Central Standard Time (US).

I am really looking forward to another year with all my bloggy friends!!
11/13/09 Edit: The prize was awarded on 11/11/09- thank you so much for stopping by my blog!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life's A Hoot!

Especially with these cute little guys hanging around!!

Owls In Waiting

These are some of the owls I have cut out and fused to make a pattern called "Hooterville" by Brandywine Designs. I saw it in a quilt shop the other day, and I HAD to get it... and the fabrics to make it with :) Fortunately this was before the car issues!

I'm packing for my quilt retreat tomorrow- I can hardly wait! I am having trouble deciding what all I want to take with me... I don't want to take too much, because then I'll be unhappy if I don't get it all done. I'll only be 20 miles from home, so I guess I could come back and get some more stuff to work on if I needed to!

My blogiversary is tomorrow!! Be sure to stop over and sign up for the giveaway!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

There Is No Great Loss...

...without some small gain! Remember that old saying? Well, that's pretty much been my life the past week!

I have my car back... again. $900 later. OUCH! But it has new serpentine and timing belts and a new water pump! And in the past 2 months it's also gotten a new catalytic converter, a new thermostat, a new ignition coil, and a new driver's side window. We've had to put a lot of money into the car, unfortunately... but hopefully that's all, and my little Jetta will be a happy car again!

The "great loss": I was supposed to go to my sister's this weekend, but money issues have made that not possible. I'm super bummed- I really like La Crosse, WI and my sister and I always have fun when we're together! We will see each other at Thanksgiving, though.

The "small gain": well, this is not so small... I had been signed up for a quilting retreat that my friend Vicki puts together, but I cancelled because I was going to see my sister. Well, it turns out there was still room in the retreat! So I get to go to that this weekend instead! It's close to home and doesn't cost a whole lot- and it's 3 days of fun, food, and inside jokes! I'm excited- we always have a TON of fun at this retreat :)

The "great loss": Hubby's uncle passed away at the age of 74 (Hubby was adopted when his parents were older, and his family is a lot older than a typical 31-year-old would have) after a long battle with diabetes and renal failure. He passed away very suddenly, and it's been hard on Aunt Carol and his children and grandchildren.

The "small gain": the funeral service was lovely, there were so many funny stories shared about Uncle Martin that most people laughed more than they cried! We got to visit with family afterwards, and the ladies of the church gave an AMAZING luncheon after the funeral. Also, the weather was lovely, sunny and not too cold, which made everything (including our 3 hour drive) much nicer.

I'm off to start sorting my projects for the retreat, and to get some laundry done. Then I'm going to quilt the mini I made for the STUD swap... it's SO cute! I hardly know how I'm going to mail it off this weekend!

Oh, yes... another "small gain" this week: I got a new chair for my sewing room! No more chair that doesn't move up or down and has screws sticking through the padding. YAY! Giving up that old chair is no "great loss", believe me :)

My blogiversary is on Friday! I have a giveaway planned, so be sure to stop by on Friday to check it out!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Creative Therapy

It's been a really, really good thing to have my sewing mojo back... they say bad stuff comes in 3's, right? Well, I can tell you, it's true!

First off, Hubby's uncle passed away last Thursday night. He'd been very sick for a very long time, so it wasn't that much of a surprise, but I really feel sad for his aunt- they'd been married for 53 years.

Our cat is sick, too, and I think I'm going to have to take her in to the vet.

But, wait! How am I going to take her to the vet? My car is broken- AGAIN! I was coming home from a quilt shop yesterday when the temperature gauge suddenly went WAY up, lights and beeps came from everywhere, and there was a gurgling sound, coupled with the smell of antifreeze! Fortunately I was pretty much on my street and able to get home. Hubby thinks something is wrong in the cooling system or with the *brand new* thermostat... so the car gets to go to the doctor tomorrow too :)

So instead of freaking out (or running the errands I need to run...) I spent the day making things again! I made November blocks for my 3 quilting bees, and I made a mini quilt that I've had in my mind for a while. I may use it for the November STUD swap on Flickr... I'll have to see who my partner is and what they like!

Here are the bee blocks!

Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee November
This is for Lori, in the Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee... she sent some brights and the black, and asked us to add in some of our own brights for a log cabin block. I used three that she sent and three of my own to make this block.

APOWB November Block
This is for Liz in the A Piece Of Work B bee... she sent the darling bird fabric and some solid white, and asked that we use our scraps to make wonky stars!

November Buzz Cuts Blocks
And these are for Julie in the Buzz Cuts bee... she sent "Neptune" fabrics and asked for anything! The circle one was inspired by one of the fabrics she sent (I didn't end up using it, though). The other one I put together with scraps from the first, making it a bit wonky to look like seaweed.

I also made.... something.... for my 1 year "blogiversary" on Friday, November 6. Be on the lookout- I have a pretty nice giveaway planned :)