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


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.