Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sprout's Quilt

I'm lucky Sprout's so patient, because I've been working on her quilt for the better part of the year.  It's been 9 months since I first saw the inspiration for it while we were running errands together.   And it was well on it's way 6 full months ago when I made the label for the quilt quilt.  I had hoped to have it done for her 3rd birthday back in July.  Wishful thinking.


But now, just under the wire for the year, it's done.  The pink and orange combination that I love so much looks perfect in the [very] pink room that she loves so much. 


The quilt is filled with lots of my favorites - AB Full Moon Dots, Swell, Mendocino, FMF, Cake Rock Beach, Tula Pink Ladybugs, and tons of other goodies that I thought would be harder to cut up than they actually were.  It's backed with a Valori Wells flannel that I wouldn't have chosen but that she did, and is bound with these dots that I recently went a little overboard with.  They ended up being perfect. 

  

Finished size after a trip through the dryer is 60" x 83" - it's a bit narrow since she doesn't use a box spring, but it's definitely twin-sized, and is by far the largest quilt I've ever stuffed through the tiny shank on my machine quilted myself.  The quilting is hard to see, but at random intervals I've traced the inside of the squares.  I'd say maybe 60% of them have quilting and the rest do not.  This loose quilting has made for a great drape.


I love it, (and so does Ginko) and I hope that my sweetie-pie girl does, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Teacher Gifts

Year after year, I find December to be very overwhelming what with holiday parties, school holiday programs, Bean's birthday, and the (self-imposed) pressures of putting out holiday cards and doing some holiday baking.  And, of course, there is the issue of gifts for Bean and Sprout's teachers.

I can't imagine a world where I wouldn't give hand-made gifts to my kids' teachers, but as the month ramps up, I always feel overwhelmed by the myriad of things on my to-do list.  Thankfully, Jeni's tutorial for drawstring bags is quick and easy and yet makes such a great product.


I love these bags.  They are so stinkin' cute and make adorable gifts.  I used large scraps and making a dent in my scrap bin is the icing on the cake of these gifts. 


I filled each bag with a few jars of homemade jam and a little bamboo spoon.  They were very well received.


And for the office staff, I prepared boxes of homemade cookies.  I love making cookies and perhaps I go a bit overboard around the holidays.  This year I made ten varieties - Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk, Nutella Hamentashen, Chocolate Crinkles, Mocha Snowflakes, Snickers Surprises, Carmel Bars, Scandinavian Almond Cookies, Apple Squares, Chocolate Carmel Drops with Sea Salt, and Gingerbread Double Chip Muffins. 


I'm glad to have these gifts done and delivered - a few more things crossed off of my to-do list.  Now it's time to knock a few more items off that list.  But not before I eat one of the cookies I kept for myself. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Placemats

Earlier this year, 6 lovely ladies each made me a 12.5" quilt block. They used their fabrics and a pattern of their choice and I had no say in anything except for the colors - in this case,  blues, greens, and purples.  And so goes the 3x6 Bee.


I had no idea what to expect and was delighted at the blocks that I received.  I knew I'd be using the blocks for kitchenwares - possibly a table runner.  Maybe some potholders.  But time got away from me and the lovely blocks were shoved in the bottom of my WIP bin.  I finally pulled them out and decided to turn them into a set of placemats and a matching hot pad (which isn't done yet, so no pix of that).


I added a patchwork border on the sides and some white sashing to bring the finished size of each mat to 15"x18".  They're a bit oversized, but if they prove too large for my table, I'll give 'em a spin in the dryer and shrink them a bit.  


I love their scappy look and how they're brought together with matching edging and binding.  They highlight the colors of my dishes and kitchen walls.


 Thanks so much, ladies!!  I love my new placemats and really appreciate your lovely blocks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Papa Joe


My Grandpa is sick.  It sucks that he's sick.  It sucks that his current treatment plan focuses on keeping him comfortable.  It sucks that I live 2,000 miles away and can't visit with him on a regular basis.

It. All.  Just.  Sucks.  

If I were any closer, I'd be there in a heartbeat and our visit would be much like our last - we'd sit quietly together and talk, and he'd doze for a bit, and then we'd talk and reminisce some more.  And I'd sneak him some verboten candies when Granny wasn't looking


But I don't live closer and I can't be there again, and I'm feeling quite helpless about it all.  My first instinct [as a Jewish woman] is to cook, which is, in this instance, pointless.  My next instinct, which kicked in late in the game, was to quilt.   


So I made this for him this weekend.  It's modern and he's not.  I made it in his Alma Mater's colors of scarlet and grey, only remembering after the whole thing was quilted that he's red-green color blind; it'll probably look like a big brown blob to him.  He might not love the aesthetics of it.  He doesn't really have to.  He just needs to know that it was made especially for him - that I labored over every creative decision to make it worthy of the man that he is.


I hope it keeps his body warm.  I hope it keeps his heart warm. I hope he knows how much I love him.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Habitat Quilt Challenge

The Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild (LAMQG), like many of the other Modern Guilds, is  participating in the Habitat Quilt Challenge.  Can I be honest here?  I really don't like this line.  With apologies to designer Jay McCarroll, I know a lot of people love it oodles and I just don't get it.

When I got my bundle of fabric, I just stared at it.  For weeks.  It was just so uninspiring to me, and as I struggled, Ramona reminded me that sometimes less can be more.  Thank you to Ramona for this reminder.  Knowing that I didn't have to saturate my quilt with Habitat fabrics kind of freed up my creativity.  From there, I started riffing on how a play on words with "Habitat."  And I finally came up with this.

My colors are a bit off today, but the body of the quilt is Kona Berry and the stem and leaf outlines are bias tape made with Kona Grass.  The leaves and binding are made out of the Habitat fabric.  I made this simple flower/vine creation that kind of looks something you'd find in the natural habitat of something or another.  I used contrasting thread to free motion quilt "The natural habitat of a child is wrapped up in a quilt."


Lastly, I quilted the whole thing with repeating straight lines of the word "habitat."


All in all, I have to say that I love it.  I didn't expect to, but I do.  I wish I had purchased a yard of one of the prints from the Habitat line for the backing - some of those prints are so busy that my quilted words, which are not as pretty from the back, would have been nicely hidden in the pattern.  Instead, I used a solid, so the back of the quilt isn't as pretty as I'd like.

I was so unenthusiastic about the line that I didn't want to spend $10 for a yard of backing.  I really wish that I had ponied up the funds, though, because this quilt looks so unfinished from the back.  For the small price that I would have spent on the backing, I would have had a gorgeous quilt.  As it stands, I have a very pretty quilt from the front and a lot of "blah" from the back.  *sigh*  You live, you learn. 

This quilt is destined for Quilts for Kids - an organization that I support annually.  Since the Habitat fabric was donated to the LAMQG members, I can't think of a better thing to do with this quilt than to donate it - it's all about paying it forward.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whirlwind October

Time sometimes seems to pass in the blink of an eye.  I'm not sure how it happened, but it's mid-October and while I do have a stack of projects to show for my time, I'm not sure how so much time has passed. 

I made a pillow for Melissa for the LAMQG scrappy swap.  It was a blind swap whereby you got a bunch of scraps from another member and had to create something for them.  Melissa indicated that she'd like a cushion for her couch and I'd had something like this sitting on my inspiration wall for forever and was pleased to make this for her.  I do hope she likes it. 



I started working on Sprout's winter coat.  Being LA, winter is a relative term.  A layer of polar fleece and a layer of fine wale corduroy is more than enough warmth in these parts.  I bought a few yards of this corduroy last year and knew right away that I wanted to make her a coat with it.  I'm just waiting on some buttons that I ordered from Etsy to finish the whole thing off.



I've been baking a lot lately.  I made some amazing pumpkin spice bread using a pumpkin from my garden and some apple butter that I put up last month.  Oh, it is so yum.  I made a few small loaves, so have some in the freezer waiting for me on a chilly day.



Lastly, I've been working on my Habitat Challenge quilt.  I struggled for a while with it before coming up with a plan.  It's about halfway done now and it'll be done soon, I hope. I am such a fan of using FMQ to write.  



With two weeks left before Halloween, there is still lots of sewing to be done this month.  Sprout has requested a Princess Peach (of Mario Kart fame) costume and Bean wants to be a robot.  I am thankful that his costume will require no sewing, as her costume, with yards of pink polyester satin, promises to be a bear to sew.

Once all of this is done, I hope to have a restful November. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye


 It's still plenty warm here in Los Angeles - our days still reach easily into the 90s.  But autumn is definitely upon us; the days are shorter and the nights are cooler.  My garden is certainly feeling the changes; not but three months from when I first planted it, it's past its prime.


The leaves of the pumpkins have developed powdery mildew.  They've also started to brown, as have the tomatoes.  The beans have become more woody.  Nearly all of the pumpkins are ripe.  The corn is, I believe, as close to ready as it's going to be.

We harvested the rest of the goodies yesterday - whatever tomatoes were ripe were gobbled up as we picked them.  We also picked the first of our pumpkins, as well as some berries, which seem to have taken a shine to our slightly more temperate late-season weather.





The rest of the pumpkins will be allowed to finish ripening for the next week or two, as will the melons and corn.  But after that, they'll meet the same fate as the rest of the garden, which now resides in my compost bin.  It's hard to say goodbye, but these plants are past their prime and it's time I'm already late in putting down my fall seeds. 






Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hope Quilts

Last year I made some quilts for Quilts for Kids and I really enjoyed knowing that the quilts I was making were going to bring joy to some kids who could really use a smile. I did it around Christmas and while it was lovely to sew philanthropically during the holidays, it's also such a crazy time of year. This year I decided to take advantage of the summer lull to get my sewing done for this organization.

I didn't request one of their fabric kits this year - I have so much fabric on hand that I decided to stashbust a bit. In going through my stash, I realized that I had a lot of fabric lying around that wasn't my style and wasn't getting used. Some of it had been gifted to me as part of swaps and just wasn't my taste. Others were prints that I had bought ages ago and had since fallen out of lust with. But they were fine prints, so I decided to pair them with some of my favorites and make a quilt that I really love.


One of the prints that I love and included in this quilt is a Sweetwater text print. I love Sweetwater so much and "hope" seems so apropos for a quilt for ailing children, so it was a perfect addition to this quilt.


This quilt is quilted with a random curly, loopy pattern - the first time I quilted like this. It's less dense quilting than a meandering stipple, but still crinkles up evenly and I love the technique. I call this one simply "Hope."

As I was finishing up this quilt, I attended the Long Beach International Quilt festival, where I met Carrie. I love her and her amazing patterns. Her booth was filled with the same charm and fun that is her personality.


I was so taken with her Wonky Little Houses quilt - it's the quilt that's on the cover of her pattern of the same name and it was the cornerstone of her booth. It is so gorgeous with inspired fabric choices, whimsical quilting, and the very essence of what "cozy" should be. I couldn't think of a better pattern to use for a Quilts for Kids quilt. I used a bunch of my favorite scraps and took many cues from Carrie, including a grey sky, a pieced grass area, and multiple quilting styles. Really, her quilt was so amazing that I wanted to replicate it as closely as I could.


I added a a border, but otherwise kept very true to Carrie's pattern. In keeping with with the "hope" theme, this quilt features a piece of the Sweetwater fabric inside one of the homes, from which comes the name "Hope in Houses."


The sky is quilted with a meandering stipple, the houses are outlined but otherwise unquilted, and the grass is quilted with random intersecting lines. It's hard to give this one up and I do hope that it will make someone as happy as it makes me. I see a lot of Wonky Little Houses quilts in my future.

I do encourage all of my quilty friends to donate a quilt or two to Quilts for Kids. It's a worthy cause and if you're anything like me, you have at least one quilt (or the fabric to make a quilt) lying around your studio just waiting to be used. Or contact the organization directly and order a fabric kit. Or both. Really.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank You Pie

The week before last, I was on Jennifer Perillo's website learning about preserving cherries. Her writing is a joy to read - both funny and insightful. Her recipes are amazing and I wish I made half the things that she does on a regular basis.

This week, I was there again, learning of the sudden loss of her husband, Mikey. After reading her story, I found myself so badly wanting to do something for her and her children who will never again dance with their Daddy. Anything. And thankfully, Jennifer let me know just what to do.

For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

So today I made Peanut Butter Pie with my kids.


When I told Bean that we were making pie, he asked if it could be Thank-You Pie. Last year, Bean started what will become a family tradition whereby everyone puts a candle in the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and says what they are most thankful for. Then all the candles are lit and everyone blows them out in unison.



Tonight I will share this pie with the three most important people in my life and I know what my "most thankful" will be as I place my candle into the pie. I'm glad I have this day to share with my kids and my husband and will give them all an extra kiss tonight at bedtime. Please do the same with those that you love.

Puttin' Up

So, I got the canning bug this year - like I need another hobby in my life. But once I started, I find that I kinda can't stop. It started with the BHG Canning Magazine that I saw at the check-out line at the market. Then I spent hours reading more than a year's worth of posts over at Food In Jars. And now I have a cabinet full of beautiful and delicious homemade preserves.


I started with things like basic berry jams, using lots of sugar and commercial pectin. Then I started using recipes with more interesting flavor profiles, like Strawberry Balsamic Thyme. And now, a month into my new hobby, I'm making small batch Plum Ginger without pectin. I based it on this recipe, but reduced the sugar and subbed out ginger for the lemon verbena. Oh, it is so delicious. And it set. Perfectly.

I'm sure I'll be gifting out a lot of these jars, especially around the holidays. That is, if they last that long. Bean eats PB&J sandwiches every day for lunch (sigh), and he is powering through my stash.


In addition to the varieties mentioned above, so far this season, I've made Strawberry Lemon Marmalade, Raspberry White Chocolate, Peach Vanilla, Peach Bourbon, and Blueberry. Plus, I preserved some cherries using this recipe.

Any yum recipes you want to share with me? What should be next on my to-make list?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pretty {Little} Pouch Swap

The Pretty {Little} Pouch Swap might be one of my very favorites on Flickr. Pouches are great - they're smaller than a bag, so come together quicker, which suits my desire for instant gratification. And they're so versatile - they can hold cosmetics, or toys, or sewing supplies. Or, if they're large enough, they can even hold the contents of my purse. Like this.


I carry a big hulking wallet, and it takes a decent sized pouch to hold it. And Jen made me exactly that. This pouch is just gorgeous. A little Ruby Star and a little hand stitching and suddenly I have the most amazing bag. But Jen didn't stop there. Knowing that orange is one of my favorite colors, she thoughtfully included some amazing orange goodies - some lovely orange scraps, an orange zipper, and a length of orange butcher twine.


Oh, I love it all - thank you so much, Jen!

On the other end of the swap, my partner was Molly, who made a this inspiration mosaic for me. She said she was groovin' on these colors, liked linen, and wanted me to err on the side of too simple rather than overly fussy. So I made her this.


I do hope you like it, Molly. It was loads of fun creating for you.

I'm kind of sad that the swap is over already and I'm already looking forward to the next round!



Monday, August 8, 2011

Featured on The Name Game

Are you a reader of Cindy's blog? You know that I'm crazy for selvages, but she's even more in love with them than I. She does amazing things with them and is well known for her gorgeous pinnies.


She has a great feature on her blog - The Name Game. It's a great place to find out why bloggers chose the names that they did for their blog. So if you've ever wondered why I go by "Chicken Julie" or why my blog's tag is "From Three to Insanity" then visit Cindy's blog today and check out my feature.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Garden Progress

My garden continues to flourish and I continue to be amazed. It's been just under two months since this and I'm really enjoying the fruits of my labor.

The greens are doing great. I have no idea what was in the baby green mix I planted, but there are some crazy spicy greens in there. The beans continue to be abundant; the kids are especially fond of the purple ones. And the cucumbers come faster than I can eat them.


Lots more is on the horizon, too. The bell peppers that were part of my container garden last year wintered fine and are thriving in the new location. I *think* they will be purple when they're ripe, which will please the kids.


The pumpkin that are taking over the garden (note to self: next year, plant all vines in a separate bed) are starting to fruit - there are at least a half dozen of them and I don't think they're done yet. I'm really pleased that they are growing and will have a hard time deciding whether to cook with them or decorate with them come autumn.


And lastly, my darling Ambrosia Cantaloupe. I had no desire to plant melons, but Bean was begging for them, so I ran with it. They made lovely vines with lots of flowers, but for nearly two months, there was no fruit to be found. Until today. This is largest of the three melons and we are PSYCHED to see them. Bean's already asking if they are ripe.


In less happy garden news, my tomatoes refuse to ripen. Lovely fat green tomatoes started showing up a month ago and they are no less green today. The caterpillars seem to think that these gems are for them and they are chowing down. I've fried a few of the green ones, but I'm the only one in my house who likes fried green tomatoes (how can that even be?). Plus, frying fresh produce kind of defeats the purpose. I really hope that they ripen up before they all get eaten by the critters.


What's thriving in your garden? And is it just me, or are you already thinking about your winter garden? It's been 106 here for a week and all I can think about is planting a ton of cruciferous veggies.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Humbled

Wow. Imagine my surprise when I opened my blog reader and came across this. I had no idea that Ohdeedoh had picked up my quilt display.


I am always inspired by the lovely ideas that they feature and am honored to be featured there today.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finish It Up!

Do y'all know Meg? She's crazy talented. The last photo on her banner? Look familiar? Crazy talented. Plus, she's BRILLIANT because she started the "Finish It Up" group on Flickr.

I had wrapped up nearly all of my half-finished projects back in December, but I had one quilt that still languished. It was the first quilt that I free-motioned quilted and it was a bit of a disaster; I really should have practiced more first. I was so disappointed with my quilting that I folded up the un-bound quilt, shoved it in a corner, and let the cats sleep on it. When I finally washed it, the dryer did wonders for it, and while it's so very far from perfect, the crinkles hide a lot of the quilting and I decided to finally bind the thing and finish it up.


I'm glad to have it done. Finished size is 43"x51". It'll make a good picnic quilt since I don't care if it gets stained, but for now the kids are having a grand time building forts with it.

Another project that I started a few months ago and have been meaning to finish is an embroidery of one of Bean's drawings. Bean has never been into art, but this spring brought a new-found love of outer space and, miraculously, a need to express that love through drawing. For the first time, he brought home drawings from preschool every day - rocket ships, planets, aliens. Fully recognizable drawings. I am so in love with his art and the passion in which he describes it all.

I had recently seen this and decided that it was the perfect medium to turn Bean's drawing into a keepsake.


Bean seemed partly proud and party curious that I would have taken his drawing and "did sewing" with it. It hangs above my sewing table and he's more than a bit miffed that he can't have it for his bedroom wall, so I see another one of these in my future.

A big thanks to Meg for the kick in the pants I needed to finish these projects and make way for new ones.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Giveaway Winner

09

Specs: This table of 1 random numbers was produced according to the following specifications: Numbers were randomly selected from within the range of 1 to 40. Duplicate numbers were not allowed.




*************

I used Stattrek to generate a random number (in unrelated news, if you know how to copy the cute little table from Random.com, will you please let me know?) and the winner is Loretta, who wrote:

Go Girl! Congrats!! I could do lots that with adorable pouch, please!! Love you!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paying it Forward - A Giveaway!

**Comments are now closed.**

I was the winner in last week's Selvage Challenge over at Venezie Designs. A big thank you to all who voted for me. I won a $50 credit at one of Karen's two stores. She has a great online selection, has very competitive prices (and sales!) and assures me that she combines shipping between the two stores. You should totally check her out.

I used my credit to pick up some great fabric - some blenders that I'd been itching for, a few odds and sods, and some fabric for a new dress for Sprout.

As a huge thank-you to those who voted for me, I wanted to spread the love. I'm offering one giveaway with two options - you can choose either a FQ stack or a nifty little pouch.

The pouch is fully lined with the same print as the contrast strip on the exterior. It measures about 9.5" x 6" and will hold whatever your little heart desires.


The FQ stack has four prints - Alexander Henry Heath in Grey, Alexander Henry Luca in Pink, Spring Street Sketchbook Flowers in Green (which I got from Karen), and Moda Basics Notebook Paper.


The giveaway is open to everyone - I'll ship internationally. Just leave a comment and tell me which prize you'd like - it's as easy as that. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address if you're a no-reply blogger. I'll draw a winner Tuesday when I wake up, so you have 'till then to get your entry in. Good luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

First Harvest

Oh my - I'm not sure where I lost my brown thumb, but I seem to have misplaced it. Do you remember what my fledgling garden looked like a mere month ago? Let me refresh you.


What a difference a month (A SINGLE MONTH!!) makes.

(Do you love my firefighter in the background? I love him.)

I'm so proud of my little garden. I actually had to rip out two of my four pumpkin pants that were started from seed because OHMYGOD those things are large and invasive. The spinach isn't doing well - I'm guessing it's way too hot for it, so I will enjoy the tiny sprouts that I have now and will try it again in the fall. Other than that, things are growing happily.

We had our first mini-harvest today - a cucumber, some radishes, a bunch of basil, the tiniest bowl of spinach you ever saw, and some pea shoots, which I probably shouldn't have picked, but couldn't resist.


Lots of tomatoes are on the way, as are more cucumbers. I'm looking forward to what the next month brings to our plates. I was late in starting this garden, so my harvest is a bit behind the curve. If you're gardening, I'd love to know what you're harvesting now.