Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Block Buster BOM 9

Man, it has been crazy busy around here! Everything was calm and cool...and then school got out for break. Aaaakkk! Chaos! We have been having a lot of fun, though, and getting a lot of things done. Including this beautiful block.

It's always hectic when there are two holidays back-to-back, so I wasn't sure when I was going to get this done. I figured better to get it done early, right? It also gave me an excuse to go shop the end-of-year sale at my LQS. I managed to find a great backing for a top I finished this year. Hopefully I will start getting some of those finished in the new year. Here's hoping!

I love the colors of this one. The greens are so rich, so deep. They remind me of christmas trees and the cool feeling of winter (We've actually had a winter this year. It's been wonderful!). Most of my points are making it, and I ended up cutting, regretting, and cutting some more. Good thing there's a little extra with each block. Totally worth the tweaking.

I guess the next couple of weeks will be all about the kids. I feel a need to spend as much time with them as I can while they're home. Soon, they'll be going back to school and I can get things done then...maybe...hopefully. That's the plan anyway. ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yummy Cookie Craze

I know, I know, I've been MIA lately. Trying to finish up my class this semester, and get as much done as possible before kids are home for the break has kept me hopping. I am really hoping to get back to some more crafting in the new year. I have lot of ideas flooding my head, which is super exciting.

But, for now I have been working on the teacher gifts. We finish up the fall semester tomorrow, so I was feverishly trying to get cookies baked and small tokens of thanks purchased for each teacher for distribution today.

Success! How cute are these little gems! In the mix I included snicker doodles, molasses cookies, and m&m cookies.

I might have gone a little crazy. I ended up making 18 dozen cookies for 6 teachers; 6 small boxes. That's okay, now we get to enjoy the leftovers.

I figured out a couple things thru all those dozens and I want to jot it down so I don't forget.

1. USE A SMALL MELON SCOOP - Works like a dream, especially when the dough has been chilled. I was able to crank out a bunch of little drops, then roll them all. There is still a little size variation, but not enough to be concerned.

2. TURN THE OVEN DOWN - I didn't figure this out until I got to the last few batches, but man did it make a difference. They came out a little softer and chewier with being raw. I'm only talking a 25 F drop, so 325-350 F depending on what the starting temperature was.

3. SHORTEN THE BAKE TIME - This one I kept a close eye on. Similar to making mini-muffins, the cookies will bake faster simply because they are smaller.

4. DON'T SLOW DOWN - One thing I love about these smaller cookies is that there is very little down time. You're not sitting around waiting for the timer to beep. You're rolling the next batch, or removing cookies from cooled sheets, or reloading the sheets after you've taken the baked cookies off. It helps make the time go quickly.

My two cents on these tidbits. Hope they help you out a little, too.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November BOM Finish

I wanted to get this up here before I forgot. Right before Thanksgiving week I rushed to get this done and over to the shop in preparation of our class that is this Saturday.

I confess, these are not my favorite colors. I rarely work with oranges and browns unless they are in a pack, and even then I am more likely to leave them out if I can. That being said, I am happy with how the block turned out.

It reminds me of the Night Vision block I used to complete my Origami Quilt. I was able to, once again, have a little fun with the color variation to create more movement in the block. I think it worked out pretty well.

I am also glad I added the squares on the outer edges of the block. It reminds me that I wanted to go back and add a little more purple to this block.

Okay, let's see if I can get some other things done. Busy month, between school for me and the kids, dance recitals, holiday celebrations, etc. I would really like to get some projects done though, too. Let's see what happens.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Beef and Onions, Crockpot Style

So many years ago, my uncle introduced us to a meal we lovingly refer to as “Bob’s Beef”. It was actually a Julia Childs recipe that consisted of browned onions and stew beef with brown sugar, beef broth, and beer. Only drawback…it needs to stew on the stove top for about 3 hours.  I just don’t have that kind of time, so I don’t make it very much.

Fast forward to today—I have found the solution.  I was thumbing thru one of my Crock pot books trying to find something that would work for our hectic Fridays.  I stumbled upon this recipe that called for beer and brown sugar and wondered if it tasted like our Bob’s Beef.

I am not a huge fan of crock pot recipes because they all tend to taste the same to me, so I wasn’t holding my breath on this one.

Oh My Goodness!! I found it! I found the recipe I’d been looking for! It was hiding on my bookshelf all this time. There are still some things I want to try, small things like herbs, etc, but I had to get this up here for reference.

There’s minimal prep, you throw it in, and need about 30 minutes to finish it off.  Cook times will depend on your individual crockpot; mine is fast and seems to run hot.

Bob’s Beef, Crock Pot Style

2-3 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 12oz beer
1 Tbs cornstarch
½ c water, divided

cooked noodles 

Place onions, beef, salt, pepper, brown sugar, garlic, beer, and 1/4 cup of water into the crockpot. Cook on low for 5-8 hours, depending on your crockpot. When cook time is done, turn it to high. Mix the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water, and add to the crockpot. Add more water if the sauce seems too thick. Cook for another 30 minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Serve over egg noodles, or a noodle of your choice.

It's just that easy. Amazing recipe! So glad I found this one. I hope you enjoy it, too.

*Adapted from "The Crockpot Cookery", Flemish Carbanado.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Still Here...

Yes, I'm still here. I can't believe I've gone the whole month without a mention. I have been getting some things done, but it's been so crazy around here I haven't any time to write about it all. So I have a few minutes and wanted to share this awesome little creation I made.

My sister lives in cold-country up north, and her daughter uses/loves fleece sheets. I wouldn't have thought of this, being in hot-country, but when we went to visit my kids were lovin' the fuzziness. After visiting, my kids decided that fleece blankets for bedding is way better than actual sheets. 

My sister has a 1 year old who sleeps in a crib, too. She felt like every time she'd get him to sleep and lay him in his crib, he'd wake up from the sudden temperature change that comes with cotton sheets. So, we thought it might be fun to try making fleece sheets for the crib.

I used the Fons and Porter sheet pattern that my Mom found and used for our other sheets. We like this pattern because the elastic doesn't weave all the way thru. It only secures the ends where you need it. 

I shrunk the pattern an inch in length and width to allow for the stretch of fleece. I didn't want it to be loose on his bed.  I also wasn't sure how it would turn out, so I used fabric from my stash (Why do I have fleece stash? I don't know). That's why he's getting horses. The other choice was a pink plaid, I figured this was a little more masculine.

Upon receiving it in the mail, she immediately washed it and placed on the crib mattress. Fits great! Now I'm waiting to hear how he likes it. Let's see if I'll be making more of these or not. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BOM 7, Sun is Setting

That's right, the sun is setting. The colors went orange, yellow and red this month. I will admit, these are not my favorite colors. It's a part of the spectrum I have never been thrilled about, which is totally obvious when you look at the colors in my stash.

That being said, I had fun with this block. It was bright and had lots of depth. I have gotten into the habit of cutting as I go rather than trying to plan anything out. It's a lot of fun but it comes with a little risk.

I used most of the fabric provided for this one, and after laying everything out I realized I should have flipped the color spectrum of the larger triangles with the smaller outside triangles. Oh well, too late now.

I'm still super happy with how it turned out. It will be a nice addition to the collection of blocks we have so far. I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. Come on by and see what everyone is working on.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Santa Fe Bags

A couple months ago a friend had some fabric donations to share with me. I wrote about them here. There were a lot of fun pieces, but the one I was most excited about was a santa fe panel in two different color schemes.

I quickly cut out the panels and then laid them out to see if there was a quilt setting that might work.

The problem? I prefer the ones with pinks and purples, but the majority of them had browns. I do like teal, but the different panels had different teals so I couldn't use those to tie them together. So... what to do, what to do...

I started thinking about ways I could make them useful. My Mom suggested I consider making them bags. Interesting thought, and I had a wonderful border fabric that I wanted to incorporate. I figured that would be perfect for the inside with some corresponding fabrics.

I was ready to get to work. Here's what I've come up with.

This one is made of the pinks and purples. I decided to match a solid navy for borders and bought strap ribbon rather than making straps. This is perfect for carrying 12 inch blocks and some sewing tools back and forth from various quilting bees.

Each side has a different panel, but in the same colors.

For the inside, I used the border fabric and the navy and sewed it in a way that allows it to be reversible. I actually think I prefer the inside better than the outside.

For the other fabric, I changed up my sewing technique a bit. Rather than sashing down the sides, I used the boxed corner technique making it useful for carrying groceries, school supplies, or pjs for an overnighter.

The inside is also reversible. I dropped the border fabric down a little bit so that it wasn't right on the straps. I really like the look.

Each bag has two different panels, one on each side. So far I've completed 3 of the 5 bags. I still have fabric for 2 more. I haven't decided whether I should try a different technique with the last 2 or stick to what I've already done.

At any rate, it was fun and now I have some bags. I might share them with the kiddos teachers for Christmas, but we'll see. I haven't gotten that far yet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

3rd Quarter Check Up

I almost forgot to check in on my goal list for this year, and when I look to see how I'm doing...well, let's just say it's been rough going. Though I've gotten the kids to school now and have more 'alone' time, I've also decided to take a class and it's taking up a lot of my free time. That being said, I'm starting to find some balance and carving out some time to get things done.

So, with that being said, let's take a look at my list:

10 Things I want to Accomplish in 2015:

1. Finish my Vintage Stars Quilt - quilting and binding 
***I am just struggling with this. I love the quilt and I'm not confident with my machine and it's quilting abilities. I'm so afraid of messing it up. I have it out as a constant reminder and keep hoping it will happen.

2. Finish my son's Pirate Quilt 
***Complete!! Yeah! I even got a wall hanging done to match.

3. Finish the Alaska Stars Quilt - order more fabric to accomplish this 
***I tried to shop for the fabric I wanted and am suffering the hard blow of procrastination. The fabric I wanted is gone and I need to re-think and get back to work on this.

4. Make at least one Alphabet Quilt 
***Complete!! Yes, finally!

5. Complete a quilt from something pinned on Pinterest 
***Not yet, but I've added more choices, so maybe soon?

6. Add at least one tutorial to the blog 
***Not yet. I feel hung up on this one because I don't like math so much and I keep thinking about the simplicity of using EQ7 software. I'm hoping I can get over that when school is back and I can concentrate.

7. Complete a quilt pattern to post on Etsy 
***Not yet, see #6

8. Complete the BOM quilt top 
***So close.I thought I found the sashing/border fabric, but I am struggling to commit. I need to do it, I want this one done.

9. Make a quilt for the sofa for hubby
***Not yet. I only had 25 minutes to look for fabric this summer at my fave quilt shop and had to focus. Browsing was not an option. I need to get back on this.

10. Minimize fabric purchases to only necessities/work thru stash 
***As previously mentioned, I only had 25 minutes in my fave shop to travel to, which has helped minimize purchases. I had a pretty long list. I did purchase a few yards of white to make a quilt with about a 1/2 yard of scraps I have in my stash. I don't know if that really counts, but I'm trying. 

I have started a couple projects that were not on this list. You know how things pop up or inspire you suddenly. I am so excited about a quilt I'm working on with some scraps and I'm trying to use some donation fabrics a friend gave me to make some shopping bags. Hopefully those will go together pretty quickly. 

Alright, it's back to work. Let's see if I can't get some of this done. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Add Another to the List

Many years ago, I made a quilt for a friend who was expecting her first. It was a kit I purchased from my fave LQS and the fabrics were just to-die-for. They are bright and fun with small tone-on-tone prints, which are totally my favorite. After I finished the quilt, I still had scraps and set them aside for another project.

Fast-forward about 10 years and I finally found a project for these scraps. I just couldn't let them go into the color bins, I had to keep them together. While sifting thru my scrap bin, these came out. Stars popped into my head and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with this fabric.

I found some white background fabric that has stars...perfect. I was so excited to get cutting.

Even though this is the second quilt I'm making with these fabrics, it still makes me sad to throw away even the smallest scrap. Aren't they so pretty?

I had to do a lot of math fudging to figure out the blocks, but I am really happy with the end result. I finished the large stars (don't be fooled, they only measure 6 1/2" square) and still had scraps, so I decided to make some smaller ones to mix it up a bit (they measure 4 1/2" square).

So silly, but I still had a few pieces left that weren't enough to make anymore stars, so I made some snowballs that range from 2" to 2 1/2" square. Those were interesting to do the math for. They're going to be my glitter orbs floating around with the stars.

Man I wish I could lay these out and see what it's going to look like, but it has gotten a little too late, and dark to keep going. I need to lay them out on a white background to really be able to see how it's going to work. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some time. I'm so excited to see this one finished!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Half Way Thru the BOM

I can't believe it's already been 6 months since we began this block of the month, and that we've already finished 6 blocks! I still haven't gotten last years put together yet (cheeks blush with embarrassment). I'm really trying to stick to a fabric budget this year, but I'm finding that instead of picking something from my stash I'm just putting everything on hold. I'm starting to think that's not the best plan. I fear fabric binge shopping might be in my future.

Back to the block of the month, though. When we went to class to get the fabric and pattern for this one, my daughter seemed to have sensed it was her favorite color... or she spotted someone else with it... because she started saying, "purple, purple!" and pulling my envelop open. For the rest of class she clutched the swatch while playing games on my phone, so I couldn't get a snapshot of it. It was pretty cute.

This pattern was very similar to one of the previous months, literally a switch of directions for the flying geese and that's it. I want these block to look different, so I was reluctant to put colors in the same places as I did in the last block. Unfortunately that meant using less of this awesome color.  That's okay. It's finished and I love it!

My points came out better on this one than the last, which was also awesome. This block has moved to the front of the list of my favorites. I am really enjoying working with the ombre fabrics. I wonder what color will be next? We haven't really had any oranges yet, so I'm wondering if they might pop up here in the fall. Help us get into the spirit of the season.

I had to see them all together. So pretty! I really want to experiment with some modern layouts with these. Ideas, ideas.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Birthday Thank You's

I admit it. I have been totally checked out of paper crafting. There's been too many distractions and we are at that awkward stage where my kiddos want to "help" but I'm not ready to share my tools yet. They're getting there, though, and we've been doing a lot of crafting with their tools instead.

Now that everyone is back in school (including me, yeah!) I have a little more alone time to get things done, sort of. My Son's birthday was this month and he received some wonderful things from our friends and family. This gave me a great opportunity to get back to work and make some cards. Wow, did it feel good!

It's always a little tricky to make thank you cards from a boy. I wanted them to be from his favorite colors, and NOT have any flowers...it's really hard to find paper that doesn't have any flowers on it.

I also wanted to give the card a little depth and texture without doing too much extra so I puffed up the "thanks" square while the others are not.

Simple, fun, little-boy style. and hopefully well-received when he gets them out by Monday. He has a little homework to do this weekend. Time to get to work.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Trying to Find the Right One

I currently have four quilts (count 'em, 4!!! Yikes!!!) that need backings so I can finish them up.  I struggle with backings when I don't have leftover fabric from what I was using on the front or if there's a specific style to the fabric on the front.

My first is a quilt I finished a long time ago and didn't like it all that much so I packed it away. I decided it's good practice for quilting and I can give it away, so I pulled it out again.

I finished this top from fabrics a friend gave to me. I love the cats and the flowers, and tried hard to make a scrappy look. I have been wanting to play with the hidden 9-patch look for a while. The fabrics feel very 70's retro and I really want to keep that. I might end up having to go solid black and call it good.

Finally, I have 2 different baby quilts made from the same set of fabrics. They're so adorable and I can't wait to finish them up. I don't have any recipients in mind, but they're just too cute for words.

We went on our trip to San Diego last weekend and had an absolutely fabulous time! There's is something so magical about the beach to me.

While there, I stopped at my fave San Diego quilt shop to see if I could find some backings for these quilts. No luck. I only found one for the diamonds quilt. The others are still waiting, and hopefully will find they're match soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Alphabet Quilt

Last year I finished this adorable Alphabet Quilt from fabrics my Mom had in her stash. I was playing with trapunto at the time and the alphabet quilts really work well. After I finished the quilt, I was searching thru my Mom's stash for fabric for a different project and came across more of the alphabet fabric. I was so excited!

I found the actual panel at the local Quilt Show last January and added the red sashing. My Mom's fabric completed the borders and backing.

I used the same quilting, a small meander, but I decided not to do a full trapunto this time. I am both happy and sad about that. The quilt is very soft without of the extra puff, but the texture of the extra puff is fun.

I also added one of my new labels that includes the year made. Love these little tags. Such a fun, quick, and easy way to label your quilt for prosperity.  I used more of the red for the binding and decided to hand-bind it. Creates a real smooth, even finish on the edge.

I love the colors in this one. The red is so bold and the blues and greens are so cheerful. I could stare at it all day, but I really need to get more done before it's time to round the kids up from school.

I'm linking up with My Quilt Infatuation for TNT, Crazy Mom Quilts for FF, and Confessions of a Fabric Addict for TGIFF. Time to party!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Scrappy Donations

A friend was helping someone clean out her mothers house and they came across a bunch of fabric, including a big box labeled, 'quilting pieces'. She immediately thought of me.

Look at all these fun pieces to play with. I love the vintage sack fabric squares and all of the pieces that will work great for my crazy quilt.

There also were some unfinished bib projects with vintage style. I debated making bibs out of them, or using them for something else like taggy blankets, burp clothes, or even a more modern bib with the pattern on the front. We'll see.

Finally, there were these pieces of santa fe fabric. Not something I usually go for, but I really like the colors on the red piece and the flowers blooming on the cactus. I thought maybe it's time I make something santa fe-ish. I am already brainstorming some sashing and border fun to help bring this fabric out of the panel.

I'm curious to get to work on these. Can't wait to see what they all end up looking like. We'll see.

Monday, August 17, 2015

August BOM, Done

So proud of myself. With the kids off to school, I was able to crank out the August Block of the Month along with a quilt finish (FINALLY!) that I'm going to share later this week.

The colors in this block are just mouth-watering. They remind me of sour apple jolly ranchers, one of my favorite childhood candies. As with my other blocks in this BOM, I am making the centers the lightest and grow darker from there.

This one almost looks like a flower blooming because of the way the triangles build outward. I used very little black, and just about all of the fabric provided by the quilt shop. The tricky part of a BOM is trying to make sure there's cohesiveness among your blocks even though they're made at different times. Hopefully it will all work out in the end and all blend together.

Now I'm 2 weeks ahead of schedule, which is a good thing because I have a lot to catch up on. Let's see what else I can get off my sewing table.