Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye and Hello

In saying good-bye to 2011, I close a year that has been a huge step forward as far as my quilting goes. Starting a blog 11 months ago today was a brave adventure for me. Putting myself out there in the quilt blog community was a big deal, but oh has it been rewarding! And fun!

It has been a year filled with an immersion into the world of flickr, quilt-alongs that have been truly inspiring, and a variety of swaps (and there is such a variety!) Blogging has spurred me into production-mode, learning new techniques, experimenting with new fabrics, just in general thinking about the process a whole lot more!
(14 minis, 13 lap quilts, 5 full-size quilts)

Though I've got a ways to go in the skills and confidence departments, I am pretty pleased to have dabbled in free-motion quilting this year, and have finally been able to quilt some larger projects myself. I enjoyed hosting a swap with my daughter, Rachel, of Snippets of Sweetness, as well as posting my first tutorial.
(5 pouches, 7 table runners, 4 mug rugs, a pincushion, 
a sewing machine cover, a tree skirt)

I have been a part of two bees this year - the 4x5 modern Quilt Bee and do.Good Stitches, which have both been such fulfilling groups to be a part of - and participated in other assorted block swaps.

It was an unexpected honor each time one of my projects were featured, and I found it so affirming. But without a doubt, the best part of this year has been connecting with new friends who have encouraged and inspired me, and plain added joy to my days. They invited me to be myself, to share my other interests beyond quilting, and it was at their prompting that I made Tuesday at the Table a regular feature.

As far as moving forward, I'm not totally sure, but am still in the process of thinking through some goals. 2011 was bursting with new experiences, expanding quilting skills, and pure delight in creating. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am so grateful to all of you who joined me on the journey. And honestly, that's pretty much what I hope to be able to say again at the end of 2012.

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day and The Year in Sewing!
Fresh Sewing Day    The Year in Sewing

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Mail

Good mail is the best! You know - cards from people you actually know, purchases from your favorite online quilt shops, bee blocks from far-away places and swap packages from partners unknown. Oh, but I bet you agree, the very best good mail is the unexpected!! And what a surprise it was to receive this patchwork travel sewing kit from Marci of Marci Girl Designs!
This was a total surprise, and totally appreciated! I'll give you a little tour . . .the "front", including nice long ties to keep things all bundled together . . . love all that Bliss and the uber sweet monogram!
The inside, with special places for needles, thread, scissors, and other sewing goodies . . .
And, here's the darling little sewing kit all packed up!
Marci used the tutorial {here} by Amy of lots of pink here! It is impeccably made and I love every little detail!
So far it has only gone so far as the couch, but oh was it handy as I hand-stitched last night. I know I will enjoy using this little kit alot! Thanks so much, Marci!!

A Table Tidbit

My lower lip pouted out instinctively. We were dropping son-home-for-Christmas-from-far-away at the airport this morning. Some, though small, consolation was the breakfast we found on the way back home.

We had to wait for a table, standing in a cramped aisle-way, though I enjoyed our environs enough not to be bored. There was the crowded bakery counter with inviting baked goods and a busy barista making coffees non-stop. I loved when the waitresses shouted orders down from the elevated dining room.

Finally seated, I ordered one of those coffees myself, and immediately was warmed, inside and out.
I glanced around the dining room as we waited for our food. Situated in a "shabby chic" Victorian house, the atmosphere was warm and comfortable. The crowd was eclectic, with one young woman wearing both running shorts and floral rubber boots, a hip dark-haired guy with the biggest white glasses I have ever seen. And then there was the large group seated nearby, multicultural, multi-aged, from a grandpa-type to a crying newborn. Throughout our meal, laughter came from the group often, hearty, and loud.

Breakfast was tasty and bountiful. And at the end, all I can say is I felt better as I walked out than I did when I walked in.

Blogger's Choice

A verrrry interesting little competition is going on over at Quokka Quilts, in conjunction with Fat Quarter Shop. I'm sure you've seen the "Blogger's Choice" fat quarter bundles available at FQS, yes? Well here's a chance to make your own! There's judges and everything! The competition runs through January 15, and the winner will win a half-yard of each of their bundle fabrics. Sounds pretty cool, huh? See all the details {here}.

So, here's my bundle . . .

And just for the record, the fabrics are:
Primativa Charcoal Rustic Florals by Jane Dixon for Andover Fabrics 
Super Orange Playful Pin Dots by Gudrun Erla for Red Rooster Fabrics 
Flora Tangerine Feathers by Lauren & Jessi Jung for Moda Fabrics 
Muslin Mates White Swirl Vine by Moda
 Primativa Tangerine Diamond Delight by Jane Dixon for Andover Fabrics 
Primativa Charcoal and Plum Wavy Reed Stripes by Jane Dixon for Andover Fabrics 
Lost and Found Gray Medallion Dots by My Mind's Eye for Riley Blake Designs 
 Whitewash Charcoal Scallop Dots by Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill 
for Lecien Fabrics 
Oval Elements Crocus by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics 
 Nature Elements Charcoal by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics 
 Bohemian Soul Plum Lace by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics 
 Hyperreal Garden Cashmere Illusion by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics 
Kona Cotton Tangerine
Kona Cotton Cerise
 Kona Cotton Ash

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

W.i.P. Wednesday

Here's my latest W.i.P.s . . . I actually am surprised I have anything to show, considering a super busy work week last week and Christmas, of course . . .

Completed projects
Zip Pouch - I got it done in time to give for Christmas. What a fun, quick finish.

do.Good Stitches December blocks - Yay! I got these Wavy Prism blocks done and in the mail. All of us in the Faith circle were asked to make two blocks, though each block is made up of four paper-pieced sub-blocks. This should be a really interesting quilt to see come together.
Wavy Prism blocks
Wrenly hst zig-zag quilt - Finally . . . got this quilted up and bound on Boxing Day. This project has been a long-term w.i.p., so glad to have it done before the end of the year. I asked hubby to take some pictures after it was washed, and he didn't quite get how the design went, so here's some nice sideways views. ;-)

Ongoing projects
Color Block Placemats - I gifted two of the placemats for Chrismas, and the recipient was so pleased. The remaining 6 are cut out and in progress. (pattern by Oh, Fransson on Sew, Mama, Sew!)

Upcoming projects  
* do.Good Stitches January blocks
* Japanese x and + swap blocks - starts in January!
* Modern Blocks bee - starts in January!
* A scrap quilt 
* Hometown "Wild Thing" 
* Pattern for Mango - hopefully in early 2012!
* A light box
* Quilts for siblings #2 and #3

Well, that's it for now! I think Lee's official W.i.P. Wednesday link-up will start back up next week, so that's something to look forward to!

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday at the Table

Well, I figured I owed you a glance at this year's Christmas Day menu.

There were several "keepers" in the trying of new recipes, so I'm anxious to share those with you. Sorry, in the busyness of the day, I didn't get foodie pics, so thanks go to pinterest . . .

Praline Bacon - Kaelin of the plaid scottie mentioned this in the comments of last Tuesday's post, and it went over great. I may chop the pecans a tad finer next go-round, as they tended to fall off the bacon . . .the recipe Kaelin suggested is by Amusing Ma Bouche.

Cranberry Mimosas from RecipeGirl - I enjoyed this twist on the traditional. We floated a few tipsy crantinis in ours, which added to the fun.
Source: via Dana on Pinterest

Bite-sized Baked Brie by Joy the Baker - My grocery store didn't have the popsicle sticks, so we did without those. We did make these up on Christmas Eve, and popped them back in the freezer. Then the bites went right from freezer to oven when we needed them on Christmas Day - worked out great. We had strawberry jam on hand, so that's what we used.

Chocolate-Almond Bark with Sea Salt - This was a last-minute creation, and made a great Christmas Eve hostess gift and addition to our holiday table . . . pretty much made up of my favorite ingredients!

Mac n'Cheese Gnocchi from Noble Pig - We made this especially with our kids in mind. Hubby 'cheated' and made the sauce the day before, then while we were putting out our Stocking Snacks on Christmas Day, he put the (uncooked) gnocchi in the crock-pot, stirred in the sauce, and it was hot and ready by dinner time.
Source: via Debbie on Pinterest

Though our 'tradition' makes for a busy and food-filled day, it helps to have our menu posted on the fridge, and to prep as much as possible the day before. Having numerous cooks in the family does not hurt either, and definitely adds to the fun!

Monday, December 26, 2011

52 lists in 52 weeks//week 30

This week's list is all about yesterday, Christmas Day. I just saw the topic today, so my list will be in retrospect . . . a list of memories in the making . . . a reminder of what I have and what yesterday meant to me. And it meant alot, so this is from my heart . . . 

What is making you happy? - What made me happiest of all was that both my kids were home for Christmas. That topped any wish list I may have had, and I imagine it always will.

What is going on? - A busy day beginning with brunch, then on to gifts, adding more family and our nontraditional "stockings in the afternoon" tradition, followed by dinner together.

Who are you spending the day with? - When I woke up, hubby and son-home-from-Minnesota were in the house. My mom arrived shortly after, followed by my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. Later in the day, son-in-law's mom and grandma joined us.

What are you thankful for? - I am thankful to have known and shared life with a man who added such joy to our days. The fact that John, "Papa", is gone from us now continues to feel foreign. He would have loved our time together yesterday. He also would have read the Christmas story to us, from Luke 2, and I am thankful for a mom who is faithful and brave, and in her reading of the story yesterday, we heard the message loud and clear as ever. I am thankful for a husband who is a partner and lovingly shares in the burdens and joys of every day. I am thankful for a son who helps plan meals, celebrates the table, and cares and loves deeply. I am thankful for a daughter who "gets" what life together is all about, and who is so thoughtful and generous and goes the extra mile. I am thankful for a son-in-law who smiles and nods at just the right moments, and who has grown to be such a cherished member of our family. And I am thankful for a little granddaughter who is such an amazing gift to us. We laugh heartily together at her silly antics and smile across the room at each other at the utterance of her new-found words. She toddles into our open arms with a grin on her precious little face. We see already that she is learning by watching us, and so we joyfully share with her our traditions, our stories, our table, our faith, and our love for each other.

"Buttermint Flurry" ~ a special gift from daughter dear

Friday, December 23, 2011

52 lists in 52 weeks//week 29

My (current) favorite {Christmas} things . . .
                                                                    Source: via Tiffany on Pinterest

Source: via Debbie on Pinterest

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Moment by Moment

The "to-do" list at home is growing and work is crazy hectic. I'm trying to live in the {Christmas} moment, but it isn't easy. A bit of stolen time in the sewing room last night produced another color block placemat and a zip pouch. A label for a mini quilt is really all that's left to be done there by Christmas.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the good mail I got this week - my Giveaway Day winnings - a fun little raw-edge appliqué mugmat from Pam of Quilting Square One. Love the quilting, and love the binding. Having never done this kind of appliqué makes it doubly fun to see it up close and personal. Thanks, Pam!
Hoping you find moments of Christmas joy thoughout your day - no matter how hectic, no matter how long the lists, no matter what.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

W.i.P. Wednesday

Here's my latest W.i.P.s . . . slowing down with everything else going on.

Completed projects
Hollywood Boulevard table runner - My mom was happy with the runner, and will be able to give it to her good friend for her Christmas birthday - yay.

Ongoing projects
Color Block Placemats - oh, I'm pretty excited about these! I'm using the pattern posted by Oh, Fransson on Sew, Mama, Sew! Elizabeth's were a bit scrappier, but considering my timeframe is short, I decided to make mine scrappy, but all the same. Even so, I only have one done, and hope to have a second done by Thursday, to gift my coworker. I'll just have to make the remaining six after Christmas. Considering my coworker hinted {strongly} that she'd love fall colors, I think it'll be ok.

Zip Pouch - I decided I needed a pouch as a Christmas gift-card-holder, so I have one started. Should be able to finish this by Christmas Day. . .It's nice to be working with Terrain again!

Wrenly hst quilt - no progress. Sad but true.

Upcoming projects  
* do.Good Stitches December blocks. Due by the end of the month! I have a plan - still should be able to finish on time.
* A light box - daughter dear and I both want one. Maybe I'll ask son-in-law. hmmmmm
* Hometown "Wild Thing" - will wait till January
* Pattern for Mango - hopefully in early 2012!
* Quilts for siblings #2 and #3

Between work and Christmas prep, my days are full, but it's calming to have some projects still going . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday at the Table

Our Christmas Day tradition for the last several years had been brunch, Christmas story, gift exchange, take a breath, add more family, snack, stockings, dinner. whew. For some reason, during this most hectic time of year, I try all sorts of new recipes. I usually make up a menu so I can remember where all the recipes are - cookbooks, clippings, etc. Here's last year's menu:

Now, undoubtedly, I'll be trying some new recipes, but brunch - I think I'll be bringing back the Coffee & Brown Sugar Bacon and Cinnamon French Toast from last year, since they got such rave reviews.

When my coworker gave me this bacon recipe, I thought it sounded down-right weird, but oh is it good!

Coffee & Brown Sugar Bacon

1# thick-cut bacon
1 Tb. ground coffee (I use espresso powder)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tb. freshly brewed coffee (again, I use espresso)

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment and set a rack on top. Lay bacon stripes on rack, overlapping slightly if necessary. (I don't have a rack, so I just drain off into a couple of times, as needed.) Sprinkle top of strips evenly with ground coffee/espresso. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and brewed coffee/espresso, stirring just to blend to a paste. Brush top of strips with half of sugar mixture.

Bake 15 minutes. Turn bacon over and brush with remaining glaze. Bake until crispy-ish, 10 minutes more. (It will crisp up a bit as it cools.) This supposedly serves 8, but plan on folks eating more bacon than they, uh, usually would.

And this French toast is something special! It's from Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook. Macrina is local, so we occasionally get to pick up some goodies fresh from the bakery. Thankfully, our grocery store carries some of their products, which is where I picked up the orange brioche I'm going to sub in this year, omitting the lemon zest in the filling. Brioche freezes well, so it's ready for me when I need it on Christmas morning!

Cinnamon French Toast with Ricotta Filling

For the Ricotta Filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tb. granulated sugar
1 Tb. freshly grated lemon zest
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Filling can be made in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

For the Cinnamon Topping;
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 Tb. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 Tb. unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

For the French Toast:
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tb. light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 loaf brioche
1/4 cup canola oil
powdered sugar

Combine eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, and milk in a medium bowl. Mix with a whisk, then pour into a shallow baking pan.

Cut 4 generous (about 1 1/2" thick) slices from the brioche loaf. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a pocket into the side of each slice. Try not to cut all the way through the slices. Fill each pocket with 1/4 of the ricotta filling, taking care not to tear through the bread.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat and add half of the canola oil. Gently dredge 2 slices of stuffed brioche in the pan of batter, making sure all sides are evenly coated. Lay slices in the preheated pan and cook until both sides are golden brown, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Add remaining canola to the saute pan and repeat process with remaining slices.

Spoon warm cinnamon topping onto the browned slices of French toast and bake on center rack in oven for about 5 minutes, until topping starts to bubble at the edges and a thin crust has formed on top of the bread.

Serve French toast drizzled with any remaining cinnamon glaze from the baking sheet; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 4. (Once I got typing, I realized how long this recipe is! But parts can be done ahead, and it really is worth it!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Finish

The fabric for this runner was chosen by my mom when our family was in Minnesota last spring. We had looked several times for red and black fabrics to make a runner for her good friend. So when we saw some we really liked, we grabbed it!
The pattern is Hollywood Boulevard by Atkinson's Designs. (For the record, I've made several patterns by Atkinson's, and they've always gone together great!)
I gave mom her choice of quilting designs, and she suggested a swirly meander. Ok, that's great but. I'd only done that once before. Even so, I think it turned out pretty good.
Table runners are a fun finish, and this one was no exception. Yay.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Randomness

It's been a busy couple of days since the end of Giveaway Week! Congrats again to Marci - your Christmas mini was mailed yesterday. With any luck, you'll have it by Christmas. And I was pretty excited to hear I was a winner too! I won a happy town mugmat made by Pam of Quilting Square One. She's got several posted on flickr, so I'm not sure which I won, but something like this . . .pretty fun, huh?
more and more

I also wanted to show you how I changed out the quilt rod in my dining room. Remember, I hung the trio from the Dead Simple qa:
Well, it was a snap to unclip the trio and hang a Christmas quilt in their place. (My kind of decorating!)

In the olden days (ie. when the kids were still at home), daughter dear and I used to really enjoy rubber stamping together. We haven't done it together in ages, but one thing I do like to do is stamp Christmas tags. Not very fancy this year, but fun just the same.
Don't laugh too hard, sis . . . I wondered why the embossing powder kept falling off the tags. Kind of forgot you need to set them with heat!

The last bit of Christmas randomness is about the trip hubby and I took to the grocery store this afternoon. It was fun to pick up a few speciality items for the holiday week . . .
* fancy crackers from urban oven
* our favorite splurge-worthy salami (finocchiona)
* a new cheese to try (Bella Vitano Sartoni espresso - they had samples - it's good!)
* satsumas (love them with the leaves! And good to have on hand to add to salads, just to eat, or for the occasional Mandarin Basil Tini.)
* prosecco (you know - just in case)
* Macrina orange brioche (more about that at Tuesday at the Table!)

Time to get going - two more gifts yet to make. Hope you're having a Christmasy kind of day! See ya.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Thanks to all who entered my Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway! I really enjoyed your comments throughout the week!  And I really could hardly believe my eyes when I saw who Random chose as the winner!

#13 is . . .

This really hit me funny, but in a very, very good way, as Marci was one of my first bloggy friends, and she has been such an encouragement to me! In fact, when I came up with the mini x tutorial, Marci was the one who took a glance before I posted it to make sure it was easy to understand. So watch your mailbox, Marci! The Christmas mini is headed your way!

52 lists in 52 weeks//week 28

Today is the last chance to enter Giveaway Day at Sew, Mama, Sew! If you missed seeing my giveaway project, you can check it out here! The giveaway ends at 5PM PST, and I'll choose a random winner within 48 hours. If you already commented on the giveaway post and you're not sure I have your email, send it to me at If I can't contact the winner, another will be chosen.

Meanwhile, I'm still participating in 52 lists in 52 weeks, and this week's list - a dream gift list.
Source: via tameka on Pinterest

Source: via GLB on Pinterest

A girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scrap Attack

I've been wanting to make a scrap quilt all year. It was on the w.i.p. 'need to do' list for ages, but finally came off, just cuz I kept ignoring it. But Rachel over at Stitched in Color may just have thought of the vehicle to encourage me to make that scrap quilt a reality. She's planning a Scrap Attack Quilt-Along & Festival of Scrappiness for January. Sounds intriguing, eh?

To get us thinking about scrappiness, Rachel is asking us to show her our scraps. Really? Especially after seeing her scraps, I wasn't too sure. (You might want to go check them out and then let me know how yours stack up. Or not.) Oh well - here goes nothin'!
My scrap basket {thanks, Mom!} measures about 18" both tall and across. It is stuffed full of scraps I've collected through swaps and saved from projects this year! And my little grand-girl thinks they are as much fun as I do!