Monday, December 31, 2012

In the Groove

I cannot believe it is already the last day of 2012!

It seems like not that long ago I was making resolutions and plans for this year...and listing UFOs and WIPs...not one of which were actually accomplished.  And that Studi-O-rganization Challenge?  Ha! (Although I'm sharing the blame with Allison on that one.)

I have been in a bit of a fog, having to think hard about once mindless tasks and sleeping a lot.  I'm not sure if it's the weather or if I'm having some sort of age-related issue, but I just feel blah.  Not sick.  Just foggy.

In trying to get my groove back, I started work on a paper piecing project.  I got the two halves done, only to figure out that one half was upside down and backwards.

I decided to move onto something a little easier - this adorable Disappearing Nine Patch I saw on Pinterest.  Christina from A Few Scraps showed me how simple it would be.  And it was.

That's not to say that I had no trouble in my foggy state.  I managed to wind an entire bobbin without realizing that the thread was lined up wrong.
This is what my brain feels like.  And the result.
I also did some bad math and screwed up the very first cut when dividing the first set of nine patch blocks.  Luckily I had extra of that particular fabric and realized it before messing them all up.

But I powered through and have finished the top.  I'll be bringing it to Mom today so she can start hand quilting it.  None too soon, either, since the baby's due date has gotten bumped from early February to a firm January 15. 

We are all excited to meet this precious little boy who my cousin and his wife are expecting.  We are extra excited because the baby is the first - and maybe only - boy to carry on my maternal grandparents' name. 

I pieced a back too.  It took every single one of my brain cells!
I found this fabric for his quilt way back in April on our Spring Break trip to Tennessee - which I am just now realizing I never blogged about.  Sigh.  It is just perfect since both my uncle (the grandpa) and my cousin (the daddy) are science teachers.  Isn't it gorgeous? 

So here's to getting my groove back, one stitch at a time.  I wish you all a happy and safe New Year's Eve, and hope to see you sewing tomorrow for the 1st Annual Quilts of Valor New Year's Day Sit and Sew, or whatever you choose to work on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


 It's been a long crazy month with absolutely no projects finished. In fact, I've barely touched my sewing machine!

Here's hoping that I can spend a few hours participating in the Boxing Day Sew In - #BDSI - organized by Sandy from Quilting for the Rest of Us - and find my missing mojo.

Hope you'll join us, even if it's just to pop in and say hi. 

P.S.  The easiest way to see what's going on is to visit the TweetChat room for #BDSI.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I got nothin'.  Please use your imagination and picture an interesting picture or inspiring content in this space.

This feels completely anticlimactic. I really thought I should have some cool post or giveaway here today, but my brain is completely fried.  Mostly because I have done NONE of the holiday grand plan this year. 

Who decided that the last repeating date of the century should be right before Christmas?  Sheesh!  I'm BUSY!

Next time let's do it in February.  Or July.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In the Kitchen

Today my kitchen is hopping!

I'm baking for our guild's annual holiday party.  The theme is A Tribute to Redwork, and Ben has asked us to use as much red and white as possible.  What could be more perfect than a white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry topping?  (Recipe below.)

I'm also bringing one of our new favorite crockpot dinners to a friend.  I make these beef short ribs with some rice and roasted asparagus, and my family inhales it.  It's not one of those complicated crockpot recipes with a lot of browning or chopping or multiple steps either; no, this one has 4 ingredients and can be assembled in under 5 minutes!  Perfect for this busy month.

For dessert, I'm trying out Pioneer Woman's Itty Bitty Nutella Cakes.  Just because they're pretty and easy.  Also, I love Nutella.  Isn't that enough?  

We've run out of our homemade hot cocoa mix, so I grabbed the ingredients for that and stirred up a batch while the cheesecake was in the oven and the Nutella Cakes were in the freezer.

After all that my family will still expect dinner, so I'm experimenting with a new baked potato soup recipe.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

What's new in your kitchen?

White Chocolate Cheesecake (origin unknown)

Preheat oven to 350.

  • 1/4 lb butter, melted
  • 2 C very finely ground tea biscuit crumbs (I use Social Tea Biscuits.  1 sleeve makes about 2 C)
  • 1 oz white chocolate, grated
  • 1/4 C sugar
Melt butter and combine remaining crust ingredients until well blended.  Press mixture over sides and bottom of an ungreased 10" springform pan.  I put foil around the bottom and sides on the outside of the pan to prevent dripping in my oven, but that is not a necessary part of the recipe.

  • 2 lbs cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 oz white chocolate, shaved
Combine cream cheese and sugar and beat until soft and fluffy.  Add salt and mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, keeping mixer on lowest speed and beating just until each egg is incorporated.  Fold in chocolate.  Pour into crust and bake 40 minutes.  Remove from pan and let stand for 10 minutes. 

  • 2 C sour cream
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 oz white chocolate, shaved
  • 1 pckg frozen strawberries, raspberries, or mixture of both
  •  confectioners sugar, to taste
Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Spread over cheesecake and return to oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and refrigerate immediately.  Puree berries with confectioner's sugar in blender.  Serve cheesecake with shaved chocolate and berry topping.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent
Thanks to Creighton U's Praying Advent Homepage for images and ideas.

Happy first Sunday of Advent.  This year our newest parochial vicar shares his thoughts about keeping Advent appropriate and saving the Christmas celebration for when it is actually Christmas.

It makes me think - some of what he says seems impossible to do, especially if you have very young kids.  Some of what he says seems feasible and even appealing.

If you celebrate Advent, how do you keep the focus on preparation?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three's Company

A few weeks ago I met a friend for lunch at The Fickle Pickle in Historic Roswell.  It was a beautiful Saturday, and people were out shopping and lunching on patios.  As luck would have it, there was also an Angels Among Us pet adoption going on in the parking area.

(Loyal readers may know that Angels Among Us is also the group through whom we adopted George.  This will be important later.)

I was averting my eyes and walking away like any normal person who already has two mutts at home.  My friend and I ate our lovely lunch and had a wonderful chat before heading back to the car.  As we walked back I glanced over and saw a beagle at the adoption.  He was looking at me.  I had to pet him.  Once.  Just give him a little love.  He reminded me so much of our sweet beagle boy, Divot.  His name is Duffy.

Petting him was a mistake.  Picking him up?  End of story.  He was so sweet, laying in my arms.  I asked about him - surely an adorable beagle would be adopted quickly.  But no, they think he's about 8 years old and geriatric dogs are so much harder to place.

A homeless, elderly beagle?  How could I leave him.  I texted The Pit Boss a picture.  For the record, TPB is at least as big of a dog lover and sucker for homeless animals as I am.  I put Duffy down and walked away, but he tried to follow me.

I called home and said, "If the answer is no, tell me now because otherwise I'm bringing this dog home."

The Pit Boss said, "Do what you gotta do."

I think he might regret that a little bit now.

I asked what process I would have to go through, knowing that a home visit and background check were in order.  I told them we had adopted through them in 2011.  They asked who I adopted last time, and I said, "Georgie."

What are the odds?  The woman who found George was right there.  She pulled up a picture of him on her iPad as I was doing the same on my phone.  And guess what.  She also found Duffy.  In the same neighborhood.

(Yes, I asked the question.  What is up in that neighborhood?  She said she thinks people know she lives there and possibly dump dogs knowing she will save them.  Unreal.)  

Which meant that I got to take him home right then.

After some sniffing, a little bit of growling, and much peeing on the same spot, the dogs have reached an agreement.  No one is allowed to touch the toys except Duffy.  No one is even allowed to look at them longingly.  No one is allowed to sleep in Gracie's room except Duffy.  The order of food has to be George, then Duffy, then Daisy or there will be a fight and/or one of the boys will take Daisy's food right out of her mouth.

After the chair in Gracie's room, Duffy has found his favorite spot: 

I blame Pam

Friday, November 30, 2012

#BFSI Black Friday Sew-In

As you may have read/heard, last Friday was the Black Friday Sew In, coordinated by Sandy over at Quilting for the Rest of Us and others.  This twitter party was so much fun, even if I didn't get a whole lot of sewing done.

Several bloggers and podcasters participated and hosted their own giveaways, including Jaye at Artquiltmaker.

Lucky me!  I won Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World from Jaye, and it arrived in yesterday's mail.

I am drooling over the quilts - works of art if you ever saw one - and itching to experiment with more art quilting.

Thanks so much, Jaye!  I love it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving - A Debriefing

Wow! November was a blur.  How was your Thanksgiving?

We had a fantastic week.  Thanksgiving is my mom's favorite holiday and the one that she does to the max.  This started out when I was around 10 and it was just the four of us for Thanksgiving.  For my mom who is one of four kids, and whose own mom was one of twelve kids, it was just not enough people.  The next year we had Thanksgiving with some friends who also had no extended family in town.  It has grown from there, and everyone is invited.  This is also the one time a year when my brother and his family are guaranteed to be here from California, so there is lots of awesome cousin time. 

We have had as many as 50+, but this year it was a much more manageable 38.  Everyone helps set up tables and chairs, bake pies, brine turkeys, ice drinks, set the tables, sweep the deck, and take out the trash.  I really thought 3 turkeys and a ham were going to be too much, but almost no leftovers got thrown out.  Shocking! 

I made this turkey, which was such a hit that they have asked me to do it again at Christmas.  The only thing I did differently was to roast it upside down for the first hour at 425, then flip it and turn the oven down to 325.  It was delicious!

My family decided that the best thing they ate all week was this leftover turkey soup.    I made it just like the recipe but added all of the broth from the carcass (about 4 extra cups) and we still ate it all up!

Of course I made my usual Calypso Pie, a totally non-traditional holiday pie but one without which Thanksgiving would not be complete for my family.  I also made an apple pie with crumb topping, which is The Pit Boss's favorite. 

I try to keep track of things I would do differently next year, but this year was so much fun that my only note is to start the turkey about 30 minutes earlier than I did because I cut it a little close. 

How did your week go?  What will you do again?  What will you change next year?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Storybook Quilts on Sewing With Nancy

Remember when I told you that Storybook Quilts was going to be featured on Sewing With Nancy?

Guild member Julie Stephens spoke with Nancy via Skype to share the quilts and the project. 

Click here to watch the segment.

Way to go, Julie!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Going to Guild - Karla Alexander

This month our guild invited Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilt Company to share her program "Lifting the Quilts Out of Your Stash."

It felt good to get back to the guild.  I had missed a few meetings and we've had some meetings that were not "normal" due to the show and the challenge, so I think the last regular meeting with a program that I attended was Ann Hazelwood back in June!

Karla shared the story of her quilting roots and how she became such a quilting rebel.  I love her philosophy that a quilt is a touchstone that connects to the past, to people and times we love.  I also love the idea of breaking quilting rules. 

The quilt below is made with one of Karla's Creative Grid rulers.   I believe this one uses the Split Second Ruler.

While using many traditional blocks and techniques, Karla adds her own personal stamp to each design.  In my mind, that's the definition of a modern quilter!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


As if there weren't enough reminders...

Please exercise your right to vote and celebrate the blessings of freedom.

If you were like me and voted early, then you should visit the Blogger's Quilt Festival and reward yourself with gorgeous pictures of quilts and vote for your favorite one.  I didn't get my act together to enter a quilt this time, but the choosing is getting more and more difficult.  I'm in awe of all of you and your talents. 

Need more voting fun?  Visit Goodreads and vote for your favorite books of 2012.  I personally will vote for Joshilyn Jackson's A Grown Up Kind of Pretty.  It was my favorite for the year but, even better, if she wins we will all win

Monday, November 5, 2012

UR Priceless Blog Hop

Today is the first day of the UR Priceless Blog Hop over at Sew We Quilt.   I just couldn't resist this adorable coin purse pattern. You had to be in the swap to get the pattern, so I really had no choice.  Right?  Right! (*Note:  the pattern is now available for $7.50 at Madame Samm's Craftsy pattern shop.)

I found that layer cake squares were the perfect size for these.  I had most of a Vintage Modern by Bonnie & Camille layer cake left, so the only hard part was choosing which fabrics were the cutest together.  I picked two squares for the outsides, and two squares for the lining, which made two purses.

I bought the handles from I Have a Notion, and they arrived quickly with a sweet note inside.  Thanks!

I don't really use a coin purse, but this is the perfect size to carry my thimble, my binding clips, my tiny scissors, a spool of thread, and a packet of needles.  Voila!  Hand sewing kit ready to go.

 What would you use it for?

There are a whole bunch of us kicking off the hop today.  Be sure to visit these blogs and see all of the cute ideas plus giveaways.

The complete calendar for the entire 9 day hop can be found over at Sew Me Something Good in the sidebar.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Quilts + Technology = LOVE!

One of the most fun quilts at the show was the one with a hidden QR Message.

If you scan it with the QR reader app on your phone, you get a message.

Have you ever made one of these?  I'm so impressed that it worked!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quilt Show High!

The quilt show was this past weekend, and I'm finally coming down from my cloud. A little bit.

Winning is quite the adrenaline rush!  No, none of my quilts won on their own.  But the WannaBees kept the streak alive, winning Best Original Design and First Place for Group Quilts.  Later we were surprised to have a third ribbon added, for Members' Choice. 

You know what your mama used to tell you about lying down with dogs and getting fleas or birds of a feather or something about eagles and turkeys?  It's all true!  I am lucky enough to be in a bee with some amazingly talented quilters, so people assume I am also that talented.  (Shhhh!  Don't tell!) 

In the Small Applique category, Lene won first place for Rhythm of the Sea.  This quilt also took the ribbon for Best Individual Machine Quilting. 

Jodi won second in Small Applique for her gorgeous work on Cocoa Bunny Holds Court.   

Vicki won third place in the Large Pieced Category with her fabulous Black and White Surprise quilt.  I believe it is also hand quilted!  (Attendance was so high that I didn't get to keep a program.  Good problem to have, but I miss my notes.)

Then Lene won again for Autumn in the Air - first place in the Mixed Technique category.

Congratulations to my fellow WannaBees and all of the quilters who won.  There was some very tough competition this year, and I count myself blessed just to hang out with all of you!

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