Monday, January 30, 2012

Potholder Pass

The first flickr swap I joined this year (and my second ever) is called the Potholder Pass, organized by Amy of During Quiet Time. As the name suggests, the swap involves potholders, but this round you could sign up for Log Cabin potholders, Spring-themed potholders, or reusable grocery bags. I really wanted to join the grocery bag one, but decided that since I knew I would be joining at least one other swap and working on Wyatt's birthday that I should stick to potholders, so I joined the Log Cabin group.

When I got my partner assignment I was a bit worried at first because our color choices are totally opposite. Her favorites being pink/brown and navy/red and mine being, well, anything but those. I went with the navy and red and after going through my stash I realized I had a few of the Denyse Schmidt prints from JoAnn's that have some navy in them, so away I went...

I hope she doesn't mind a little aqua with her navy... Have you ever gotten some fabric out of your stash after it's been there a while and suddenly find yourself liking it much more than you originally had? See that binding print, that's also the first logs in the bottom potholder? I don't know what it is about it, but I really like it right now. I wasn't all that in love with it when I first got it, but bought it anyway since it went well with the others and was a smaller scale print. I even went back and got some more the other day. Crazy. 

This swap doesn't have a date that you have to wait until before you can mail, so I actually received my potholders on Saturday.

My partner was Jan, and she did an excellent job. These greens and yellows will look great in my kitchen. And she did such a neat job hand stitching the binding. I confess that mine doesn't look nearly as neat as hers. Apparently machine binding my last few quilts has left me a little rusty.

I just have to get mine in the mail tomorrow and I will be all done with this swap. One down, two to go...

And for the first time in quite a while, I believe I have a finish that I can link up for {Sew} Modern Monday and Fabric Tuesday!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What I've Been Up To..

Finally, a productive day! 

A little cleaning, a lot of laundry, and a bit of sewing. Up first...

Look at this fun stack of fabrics I got at JoAnn's yesterday:

Aunt Edna by Denyse Schmidt
There were a couple of other prints that I didn't get, but I have to say that I really love these. This warmer colorway is a little more "me" than the earlier lines. And it seems like the fabric is of a much more consistent quality than the last line. I did notice that the price has gone up another $3/yard, though these were all on sale. I've gotten a little stack of various DS for JoAnn's prints collected so I really think I need to start planning a quilt with them, don't you? Suggestions??

The instructions for our February blocks for do. Good Stitches was posted yesterday, so I thought I would get started on that today, too. We are making the September Modern Block of the Month from Sew, Mama, Sew. It is an interesting block involving triangles, so I was excited to give it a shot. I have to say that I was feeling pretty good about myself, until I got to this point...

Can you see how there is a good 3/4" variation from the top left to the bottom? Blerg. 

I also managed to finish widening all the strips on Wyatt's quilt so now all I need to do is sew the 5 of them together and get the chenille attached. Another accomplishment today...baking Susan's Lemon Cake, though there is no picture to show as I hacked into it as soon as it was cool. Delicious!

One thing that I didn't get done one of the "shift" keys on my computer that Max removed this morning. All of the kids have pried keys off my laptop at some point and I didn't have any trouble popping them back on, but this one just won't go. And it feels really weird to not be able to use it!

What did you accomplish today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No-Progress Wednesday and a Check-In

That's right, with all the traveling and catching up I really have no progress to show for the week. I did get just a little more done on Wyatt's quilt, but not enough to even justify taking pictures...

So, lets check in on the old Winter Stitching list, organized this fall by Sarah at FairyFace Designs.

1. Pay-It-Forward gifts...I have three lovely ladies to stitch for and I can't wait to get started on these. It is just a little intimidating to sew for other people, especially super-talented ones who are fabulous stitchers themselves. I have no idea what to make, so I'm open to suggestions! Done, Done, and Done...

2. Quillows for the boys using Nova's tutorial...I want to make one for each of the boys, or at least the older two for now. Nearly every day, Carson sees me sewing something and asks if it is his blanket and proceeds to tell me what color blanket he wants. I made the quilt that is on his bed (Ok, part of it...) but I guess he needs another. And it is getting really hard to keep telling him no, so I think he'll be getting one pretty soon. Carson's is finished, given to him for his third birthday. Wyatt's is in-progress...His birthday is a week from today, so it should be done by then, though his will likely not be a quillow...

Carson's Quillow
Wyatt's in the blue strip is complete and the red is about 4" wider...

3. Quilt for Baby M....Some friends of ours are expecting their second baby, due on Christmas Day. Of course this little guy will need a quilt, I just need to plan a little. Done!!

4. Christmas stockings...My kids have never had stockings (bad mom!) so I'm determined to get them made this year. I started on some last year, but was 9 months pregnant and quickly lost interest once Max was born.  While looking through our decorations, I actually found some really horrible fleece stocking that I forgot I had made a few years ago, so technically they had stockings, though I would still love to make them some less embarrassing ones... Not sure if it will happen this winter or not...

5. Quilt for Baby G....Another couple that we are friends with are expecting their second child as well. I think she is due in February, but they aren't finding out the gender, so I may wait. Or not, and take up the challenge of the gender neutral quilt. No progress...

6. Hometown Quilt... no idea about a pattern, but I think I will use it to make a quilt for my sister-in-law. They are doing a massive remodeling job on their house and from the descriptions of it that I've heard from her, I think Hometown would go really well in their new living room. The quilt may not get done by Christmas, but it can still be a house re-warming gift I guess. I'm using the Road to Tennessee pattern and have a bit done on it, but am finding it rather annoying to work on. Not sure why since it is a simple pattern...I think it will look great once finished, though, so I'll keep chugging along.

7. My parents' quilt...Not sure about this one yet, either. Their 40th wedding anniversary is in June, so that deserves a quilt, don't you think? Possibly Swoon....Having a very hard time deciding on this one. My mom made a great quilt that is on their bed right now, and they aren't really the snuggle-up-on-the-couch-with-a-quilt kind of people, so I'm stumped. I guess I just need to make it and not worry so much about what she'll do with it...

8. Sewing Machine Cover...Pretty self-explanatory, really. I never remember to put the hard cover over it so my machine keeps getting dusty and sad, but I think if I had a pretty quilted one I just might take better care of it. Ummm, no progress here, either. Though I did list it as one of the possibilities for my partner to make in the For the Love of Solids Swap, I just need to post the measurements if I expect to get one...

So it looks like I'm roughly halfway there, but I need to add my three current swaps to the list, too. I plan to do my Potholder Pass work this weekend, then start my Mouthy Stitches pouch, and figure out what the heck to do for the Solids Swap...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dairy Free??

This edition of Tuesdays at the Table is more of a plea for help...
Do any of you have any good tips for dairy-free cooking and baking? Max is allergic/intolerant to dairy and possibly soy. This hasn't really been that big of an issue until the last month or so, now that he is getting old enough to really be eating most of the things we do. It is easy to avoid the obvious things like adding cheese to recipes and switching to rice or coconut milk, but there are so many things that have dairy (and especially soy) in them that I'm spending an obscene amount of time reading labels.

So, does anyone use coconut oil for baking? I haven't tried it yet, but can't seem to come up with too many other options. I generally always use butter in my baking, but that isn't an option if I want him to be able to eat it. I had thought it would be a simple switch to margarine, but alas, most margarines have some form of dairy in them as well. Surely there is some other option I'm not thinking of...

As far as his soy intolerance, it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue when it is just soy oil or lecithin, but things like soy milk are a problem. 

So is that enough whining? Any vegans out there that can help? Or anyone with dairy allergies of their own?

I've seen some fun recipes linked up at Tuesdays at the Table so far...Susan has a tasty Jambalaya recipe up today, and Debbie must have been reading my mind this morning when she posted her recipe, as I found an abundance of fruit as I was cleaning out my freezer earlier today...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Well, not much to see here today, kids. Seems I've been doing little sewing this week. 

I did get a few more strips done on Wyatt's quilt, but I'm going to have to go back and enlarge the red, orange and possibly yellow strips.

When I made those first strips so narrow I was basing it off his picture that included white space between each color, but turns out he just wants all the colors together with no negative space. 

Really, that's about the extent of my productivity this week. I attempted quilting the heart mini a few different ways, but wasn't pleased with any of them, so I spent a little time with the ripper. I've got the binding made and am going to try hand quilting instead. 

After we pick up Wyatt from preschool this morning we'll be making our way to Iowa for a quick visit to my parents, so I think I'll be delivering the heart mini as a gift to my mom. She's much more into that kind of thing than I am!

Hope everyone has a delightful rest of the week! See you Monday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bacon, Leek, and Potato Soup

Are you very adventurous when it comes to trying new things? More specifically, trying new foods? 
I love sampling new foods and I'm blessed to have a husband and kids that don't mind to, either.

I remember traveling to Europe as a teen and while my friends played it safe (and boring) with their tomato/cheese pizzas and chicken with french fries, I loved requesting something random off the menu and being surprised and delighted with what was placed before me. Honestly, I can remember only one time in my life when I was not able to at least choke down a new food. And I've been pleasantly surprised several times when trying something that I thought I wouldn't like and finding that I actually enjoyed it. Moral of the story: Be adventurous!

There aren't really too many fruits and vegetables that our ordinary grocery store carries that I haven't tried at some point. The other day I was shopping and noticed quite a few leeks on display. Though I have attempted to grow them in my garden (failure due to neglect...) I couldn't think of a time that I had actually ever cooked with them, so of course I threw them in the cart. Then, I threw them in the crisper drawer of the fridge where they languished for at least a week. Finally, knowing that if I didn't act soon I would be cleaning rotten leek out of the fridge, I set off to find a recipe for them. 

Seems that the most popular thing to use them for is in soup with potatoes, which sounded great to me. I mean, it's pretty hard to mess up potato soup, so I figured that's a safe choice.

I found a great recipe at Allrecipes that sounded simple so I set to work. Chopped some bacon, leeks, and potatoes and was on my way. I am pleased to report that everyone loved this soup and I am definitely making it again. I prepped most of the ingredients earlier in the day so when it came time to actually assemble the soup it came together in about 20 minutes. I didn't exactly follow the recipe, so here is my modified version:

Creamy Bacon, Leek, and Potato Soup
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced 
1/2 lb bacon, in 1" pieces
5 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover your potatoes
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped fairly small
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup potato flour (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon to your desired crispiness. Drain most of the fat, reserving 1-2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the leeks and saute for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in the chicken stock until tender. Once the potatoes are done, add the sauteed leeks, bacon, and cream and heat through, seasoning with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thin, add potato flour until it reaches your desired thickness. Serve hot. Especially good with homemade bread and butter!

I'll be linking up to Tuesdays at the Table over at A Quilter's Table. I see that Debbie has a tasty looking salad recipe to share this morning, so please stop by and check it out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Are You Doing?

So, what's going on at your house this weekend, friends?

We've been doing a little bread making, a (very) little sewing, and a little bit of cleaning all while blatantly ignoring the three baskets of dirty clothes that need taken out to the laundry room and sorted.

I am also trying to get caught up on emails and blog reading. For some reason, 2 out of 3 of my kids have decided that there is no need to sleep past 5:00 AM, so my usual blogging/commenting during their naptime has been replaced by my own naps when possible. 
I also haven't been a very good about obeying the "mouthy" part of my Mouthy Stitchers swap, so I've been trying to pop over to the Flickr group and share my two cents. Did I ever show you my mosaic for that one?

If you click on the picture it will take you to my photostream where you can see the details.
Our bathrooms are very nearly complete now, just a final sanding then we can prime and paint. Guess that means I need to figure out what colors to paint them, huh?

On a completely unrelated note, who here has a serger?? I got one for Christmas and have yet to use it. I told myself that I had to finish a few projects before I started play with it. I was supposed to go for my first lesson on it Thursday, but the weather was really bad and I didn't want to drive the 1.5 hours up there, so I rescheduled for a couple weeks from now. It really isn't as intimidating as I thought it might be, from the mini lesson I was given at the store, but now that I have it here, I'm having a bit of serger-block. Do you find that you use it more than you thought, or less? I'm excited to try a bit more garment sewing with it and a few other projects in mind.

So, that's what is going on around here. What about where you are?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday

You know what? I actually have gotten quite a bit of sewing done in the last week. 
Of course, that meant that today I had to catch up on housework and putting clothes away. Why is that always the hardest job to get done?

It is supposed to rain here tomorrow (I'm writing this Tuesday night) so I am hope, hope, hoping that our friendly workers come to finish our bathrooms. That's right, they still aren't done. There is only some sanding, mudding, and sanding again of the drywall to finish, so hopefully SOON!

Onto this week's finishes...

Quatrefoil Block for Modern Blocks Bee
Blocks for the Japanese x and + Swap
New Project:

I've started working on Wyatt's blanket. He has requested a red blanket with stripes. He explained a little more and even drew me a few pictures for reference. Basically, he just wants a rectangular blanket with all different colored stripes going down the length of the blanket. I'm not sure if this scrappiness is exactly what he had in mind, but it's what he is getting...

Three down, maybe 4 or 5 to go...
Ongoing Projects:

I also decided to make those paper-pieced hearts into a mini. I had it all basted and ready to quilt when I realized that I didn't have any ivory thread, so it will have to wait a few days. Seriously, how can I not have ivory thread? 

Honestly, I am not so much of a heart/Valentines kind of person and I'm still not sure if I like this. I had fun making it, but the whole time I was wondering why on earth I was making it. Am I the only one who does things like this?

I've also gotten quite a few more of these babies done for my Road to Tennessee quilt...

Upcoming Projects:

Mouthy Stitches Swap...haven't signed up for this one yet, but I really want to. Not sure I should this commit to this round...

Linking up to WIP Wednesdays with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Carson's Quillow

I finally remembered to take some pictures of Carson's quillow while Roger was here to hold it up for me. 

He's actually holding it upside down, but at least he was holding it, right? We took these pictures before the kids' naps and so I had it all folded back up into the pillow when I threw it back onto Carson's bed. He started getting upset when Rog took him in for his nap because he couldn't find his green blanket! I didn't take a picture of it, but the blanket is backed in green chenille. I am convinced that stuff is the devil as I cannot get rid of the green fuzzballs no matter what I do.

I am really bad at folding it up all nicely and shoving it into the pocket to make the pillow, so forgive the wonkiness in the picture. I went with random somewhat cross-hatched lines for the quilting. 

I had fun doing this style of quilting so I can definitely see using it again in the future.

Wyatt has been very insistent on what style of blanket he wants now that his birthday is coming up next . He has been consistently telling me red for the last week, so I thought we were settled on that, but then he started telling me very specifically that he wanted it to look like his pillowcase that is white with multicolored pinstripes. I'm not so excited about that. I asked if he would be disappointed if the blanket I made didn't look exactly like what was in his head. Unfortunately he said yes....

ETA...I've linked to it before, but I forgot to mention in this post that I used Nova's tutorial for the quilllow. The only thing I did differently was forget to add the carrying handle....

Linking up to the first {Sew} Modern Monday of the new year! Thanks, Megan!
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story. Thanks, Heather and Megan!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Random Saturday

Several totally random tidbits I want to share this morning, so let's have some bullets...

  • Katy is discussing an informal Swoon-Along. I want to make this pattern for my parents, but have no idea what fabrics/colors to use. She's even started a flickr group...
  •  Apparently, you can't copy and paste a picture into your blog post. Well, you can, but your post won't show up in Google Reader or on your Blogger dashboard, only if you visit your site directly. I tried it the other day and could not figure out why my post wasn't showing up in Reader. Interesting...
  • I made Susan's potatoes the other night and the whole family devoured them. So simple and so good.
  • Have you seen the cute new products designed by Kate Spain that are available at Michael's? We don't have a Michael's anywhere close to us, so at least I don't have to worry about temptation...
  • Out of nowhere, I've been getting lots of re-pins from something I pinned 27 weeks ago. Guess it's time?
  • If you add Font Squirrel to your Reader, you'll get updates on free fonts you can download...
Ok, I had a couple more but we have to head out to NE Indiana to deliver a forklift and pick up some tractor tires. The fun never ends...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Whew, what a morning! 

I went out early on this cold winter morning to start my Suburban so it would be all nice and toasty for the ride to take Wyatt to school, only to find that the battery was dead. Fabulous. Roger was already at work with the spare carseats in his car, so I had to make a short run to the barn and fire up his farm truck. I guess it is a good thing it has an extended cab so we can fit the kids in the back, but it is a huge pain in the rear to get three carseats back there, especially the enormous ones that Carson and Max ride in. I got them all in and drove back to the house to get the boys only to realize the gas tank was on empty. Luckily our tank at the house still had a little in it, so I got to stand out in the dark and pump gas, too. Only, I was wearing Wyatt's gloves and got gas on them. Oops

So, my son got to go to preschool wedged in the back of an old beater truck wearing one red mitten and one blue glove. And when his teacher came around to get him out, as she opened the door a coffee cup fell out and started to blow across the parking lot before she chased it down. I am sure to win Mother of the Year, right?

Ok, on to the real reason you're here...

I finished Carson's blanket in time for his birthday, but have yet to get any pictures of it. He was really excited about it for maybe a minute or two, then he dropped it on the floor and went to look for his tractor. But, he did want to sleep with it that night, so I suppose he likes it. Hopefully I'll get pictures soon. 

My January blocks for do. Good Stitches are finished, details are here

In Progress:
I paper pieced these little hearts yesterday, but I really have no plans for them yet. I like the top two, but I think the bottom one needs a little work. The patterns I used can be found here.

Still working on blocks for the Japanese x and + block swap. I've only gotten one more done, so this may be a fairly small swap from my end. Like...5 blocks. So maybe I'll have a mini quilt when we're all done?

Upcoming Projects:
I should be getting fabric in the mail soon to start on January's block for the Modern Blocks Bee. 

Alisha has requested the Quatrefoil block and will be using Bliss, so I'm sure it will be beautiful. Can't wait to get started on this Bee. I've also signed up for the second round of the For the Love of Solids Swap and am so excited about this one. Should be great fun! Here's the mosaic I made for inspiration:

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

It has been really cold and windy here the last couple of days and yesterday we even got a little snow. 
I think it's pretty much a requirement to have hot chocolate ready when the kids come in from playing outside on days like that, isn't it?

And by all means, if you still have a Christmas tray out on your kitchen counter, go ahead and take a picture with it, ok?

The last time I made a batch of hot chocolate mix I tried a recipe from Melanie of Mel's Kitchen Cafe. 
So, so good! I think the addition of ground white chocolate really takes it up a couple notches from 
Swiss Miss. 

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or finely chopped white chocolate
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in batches depending on the size of your food processor, pulse the mixture until the chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to three months.

To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the mixture into a mug and stir in 1 cup hot milk. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe via Brown Eyed Baker originally from Cooks Country

 Have you stopped by A Quilter's Table yet today to see what everyone has been sharing from their table? It's what all the cool kids are doing!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just What I Needed

Do you ever just kind of get in a rut that you can't seem to get out of?
I've been that way for the last week or so with my sewing. I've seen plenty of projects that I want to make, but nothing that really made me get up and break out the fabric. 

Thank goodness my new bees are starting up this month. I may not be inspired to make anything on my own but if I know that I have something I need to do for someone else I don't like to procrastinate. 

This month for our Imagine circle of do. Good Stitches, Amanda chose the Sawtooth Star block in reds, pink, white, and grey. She left it up to each stitcher to decide what size stars to make and gave us several photos for inspiration.

Here is the first block I made. I paper-pieced the 3" stars using this pattern and made the 6" star via this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman. Pink is by far the color I have the least of in my stash so it was nice to find a few prints I could use. 

For my second block I used the same tutorial as I did the 6" star in the first block, but I changed the middle square a bit. Overall I am pleased with how these blocks came out. I was a bit frustrated last night when I was finishing the grey block and came out 1/4" too short on one side but that was an easy enough fix.

I had a lot of fun making these blocks and now that I've gotten out of that rut I've thought of a few more things I'd like to try, too. Roger went back to work today and Wyatt starts school on Wednesday so hopefully the reintroduction of a schedule will help a bit, too!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Which One Will it Be?

Seriously, have you guys seen all the fun sew-alongs that are coming down the road?

Take a look at a few of these babies:

Sparkle QAL with Megan of Canoe Ridge Creations and Jeni of In Color Order

Made In Cherry QAL with Chelsea at Pins & Bobbins

Sew Scraps Along with Jodi at Pleasant Home

Fresh Squeezed Sew Alongs with Randi at I Have to Say

Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilting QAL with Laura at Quokka Quilts

QAL Wednesdays with Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project

And not a Sew-Along, but definitely worth checking out:
100 Days of Modern Quilts from the Modern Quilt Guild.

I'm quite confident that I'm forgetting something here as I usually do, so if there are any other fun goings-on about to start up please leave a comment letting me know! 

So are you going to participate in any of these?