Sunday, December 31, 2017

Finishes for 2017

This year's finished projects may not initially hit me with the wow factor like last year.  Still, I did a lot of sewing.

Top row:  A Season of Change, glittery flower, Songbirds
Bottom row:  three charity quilt tops and Confetti
A Season of Change was my stretch project:  in design, applique, trapunto, and using the glittery string fabric.  It took forever to do.  Love the result.  The mini flower quilt was just for fun to use up the extra glittery leaves I had cut out.  Songbirds was one of those inspired-obsession projects I seem to hit upon at least once a year.  At least it was a heck of a lot smaller than my mother's quilt!  Confetti was a fun baby quilt.  I got to use a bunch of fabric from my stash and try out a wavy quilting pattern (that I will definitely try again!).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Time to Bind

I brought the unfinished quilt to Christmas to show my progress.  I think Mom had a hard time letting me bring it back home.  My sister pointed out that the back looks as cool as the front, so it could be reversible.  And as desperately as I wanted it done today (I met up with Mom again), there was no time to finish it.  Too many interruptions I couldn't ignore, plus burying threads is really time consuming!

Left star - long wobbly design to be ripped out.  Right star - newer design with smaller sections.
I spent a lot of time pulling out the quilting.  Many of my designs didn't make it past the first engagement.  I pulled out some of wavy border (took four triangles to get the hang of the motion).  I had to readjust the bunting on the border as well.  I tried two different designs before I found one that looked good.  I discovered that drawing with dry-erase markers on plastic is not quite the same as quilting it; what looked good with marker did not look right when stitched.  Lastly was quilting the white around the stars:  I had picked a design that included a long pointed oval - not a good choice.  It was shaky and uneven.  My smaller pattern was better and I stuck with that.  In the end, a lot of ripping and requilting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Blogiversary #7

Some of my favorite things in 2017

When I find something I enjoy, I stick with it.  There's a lot of them:  reading, guinea pigs, chick events, sewing, Sculpey, contra dancing, cooking.  My newest "thing" has been blogging, and I've even stuck with that for more than a handful of years.  I spent a holiday break porting/setting up this blog, then published my first post shortly after.  I've written nearly 1000 posts so far!  I had no idea I'd write that much.

And people read what I write.  Thank you!  I appreciate the comments and feedback I get from all of you.  I've learned a lot through my blogging contacts.  Good stuff!

To celebrate my seventh blogiversary I'm giving away a box of goodies - seven items that have to do with the things I like and do. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cold Cereal

My nephew's ornament for this year is based on the Cold Cereal saga by Adam Rex.  I was unfamiliar with the series, so I pulled the first and third book from the library.  It's a mashup of classic brand cereal, King Arthur's legend, Freemasons, corporate greed, alternate universes and magic-gone-wrong.  I was amused that the rabbit pooka is named Harvey (and can only be seen by certain other characters).

There were a ton of characters I could pick for the ornament.  I wanted to jam them all in.  Originally I planned to put them all in a big cereal bowl (with a spoon and sickle symbol on the bottom of the bowl), but making the bowl itself was too unwieldy.  Having them standing changed the whole design.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas - What's in Your Stocking?

Merry Christmas!

Wedgwood hopes that you got good things in your stockings (and if you did, that you'd be willing to share with a hungry guinea pig like her).

She was not interested in sticking around for photos... until she discovered the stocking.  Even then I had to be quick snapping pictures before she bailed.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Blue Borders

I am all done quilting with the blue thread.  This is the swirls and the drippy zig-zags on the border.  I need to pull and restitch a little of the edge (my first few triangles were really shaky).  Then I need to snip and bury threads. 

Brown is next - for the stars and more of the border.  Maybe another 10 hours for that?  We'll see how it goes after doing the first few stars. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

A New Name Tag

I am not feeling well tonight (Thursday).  So if I am forced to sit on the couch and not do any sewing (I don't even trust myself to rip a few seams), I guess I will write.

First up - my new name tag I use at contra dances.  I lost my round one somewhere between my car and the Peterborough Fall Ball in October.  Serious sadness.  It was a favorite - everyone commented on it.  I even left the dance to go searching for it.  But this loss gave me an excuse to be creative.

The last few name tags I have made for others had something personal on them.  The flowers on mine were nice, but it needed something to do with quilting.  I am terrible at caning Sculpey and creating a square quilt block was going to be dreadfully difficult.  I started to think about sewing supplies - and the ideas took off.  At some point, I thought this was a chance to create a mixed-media button.  So I added a needle to my embroidered-like name.  And all those buttons I won -  I used a few of them (and discovered the tin doesn't have any duplicates!).  I still wanted some quilting stuff, so I managed to do HST around the edge.

I wasn't sure if the buttons would melt in the oven, so they were glued on after baking.  Superglued - there's no moving them.  Unfortunately, they're crowding my name a little more than I'd like, but that's where they stay!

I'm hoping it's not too heavy.  I'll get to try it out next week!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I Like Thursday: Working on Stuff

I've been a bad girl and skipped going to the gym the last couple of weeks.  Days off, distractions, the weather (and a great excuse that the Y has been fixing the pool... which I have conveniently failed to check if it's reopened).  I'm going to regret all this my first day back lifting weights or swimming... but I probably won't face that until the new year.

So let's share likes, instead of regrets.

I like my new table.  It's made from old cranberry crates - an upcycled little piece of New England history.  Plus, they're made locally.  I had seen the table at a craft fair last month.  When I couldn't get it out of my mind, I decided I needed to purchase it.  I'm very happy with it!  A place to keep my mittens and scarves right by the door.

I like cooking.  I made Mexican Stew this week.  It's a lot of work (which is why I only make it once every couple of years) but worth the effort.  I had roasted some pumpkin last week and felt the urge to make my favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mexican Beef Stew

A dinner recipe with chocolate in it:  sounds like my kind of meal, doesn't it?  Mexican beef stew has an interesting gravy that contains tomato, cinnamon, clove, chocolate, onion and garlic. 

This stew is a lot of work;  I only make it every couple of years or so.  I had red peppers on hand and stew beef was on sale so this recipe came to mind.  All the chopping and prep work is worth it.  It may look like regular stew, but it has way more flavor.  (The frozen - and now wilted - cilantro doesn't look the greatest, but I liked how it tasted in this, too.)

Yay for leftovers!  I'll get to enjoy it again without all the work.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Borders and Swirls

Progress is slow, but it's progress.  As of this morning I have finished the walking-foot stitching and the inner border.  Can you see the leaves?  Took me a while to get the hang of it.  I tried spacing them further apart, but it took a life of it's own.  So I just stitched with the flow.

I moved my sewing machine over to my cutting table, which gives me a large surface to work with.  It has helped a lot, especially as I worked with the walking foot.  I didn't need to wrestle with the quilt hanging over the back of my sewing table.

Next up is stitching the checkerboard squares.  I've seen several loose spirals on quilting blogs lately and liked how they looked.  Well.... not on this quilt.  I finished a short string and hated them.  Out they came!  Just as well - the stitch length and bobbin tension were off.  I tried a few ideas with plastic and a dry erase pen before I settled on a tighter spiral.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I Like Thursday: Some Time Off

Time to share some likes with Not Afraid of Color's I Like Thursday.  I always take some time off in December to enjoy myself and get things done.  Sometimes we travel - this year we did day trips.

I like that we spent a gray, rainy afternoon enjoying lunch while catching up with some friends.  It has probably been a year since the last time we got together.

I like White's Bakery.  We swung by on our way home Tuesday afternoon to pick up a slice of German chocolate cake and slice of peanut butter chocolate mouse cake (which didn't last long enough to photograph).  Yum!

I like fixed stuff.  Rob has been busy with his time off:  he wrapped the AC as well as fixed two light fixtures.  Let there be light!

I like that the holiday cards are all done and in the mail.  Always an accomplishment.  I have to admit I cheated this year - we didn't have a holiday pig shoot.  I used the lovely single shots of Wedgwood from last year as this year's card photos.  I'm happy to use them! although I'm sad for the reason.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Portuguese-Style Chicken Bean Bacon Soup

I googled chicken and bean soup recipes the other night.  I had 10 ounces of defrosted chicken left over from another recipe and a couple of cups of cooked navy beans.  They needed to be used in something soon.

I found a few recipes that looked promising.  This Portuguese-style soup had the most ingredients I had on hand: onion, celery, bacon, broth, cheese (along with the chicken and beans, of course).  I had to skip the shallots and I threw in a bit of carrot.  Not a whole lot of spice, mostly onion and garlic for flavor.  The addition of cayenne caught my attention.

I had to modify the recipe a bit, since my beans were already cooked and the chicken was raw. Then I misread the last bit of the recipe and stirred the cheese into the pot rather than garnishing each bowl.  Worked fine as far as I'm concerned, although I had to scrape some off the bottom of the pot when putting away the leftovers.

The soup was quite tasty.  Of course, it's hard to go wrong with bacon.  This recipe will go on my keeper list.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Quilt sandwich, doodled ideas and thread
I'm in the homestretch of this quilt.  It's like getting to the last hundred pages of a cliffhanger novel:  I can't put it down.  After a doodling attack on Thursday afternoon, I found myself sandwiching the quilt that evening.  Because ideas!  Inspiration!  I need to see if my drawings will translate well to sewing.

I really did not want to get out my walking foot, but I decided the quilt needs some stitch-in-the-ditch.  At least that means I'll have everything properly tacked down before I start the freemotion quilting.

So many things I need to be doing, including Christmas cards and an ornament.  But inspiration is telling me this is first in line; it's difficult to fight it.

I have tons of navy thread for the initial quilting.  I'm still auditioning thread for the rest of it.  There's spools of chocolate brown and inky indigo that would certainly work.  But I may need to make a thread run on Sunday to get whatever else I'll need.  

Let's get quilting!  Whee!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Like Thursday: Seasonal Good Stuff

It's Thursday and time again for Not Afraid of Color to host things we like.  I ran into a lot of little likes this week.

The best part of making all those cookies is giving them away.  Well, not entirely - I like eating them, too.  But I really enjoy the looks on people's faces when I drop off cookies:  oohs and aahs and smiles and hugs.  I simply left the box for my vet with her receptionist, not wanting to interrupt her day (Thursday is surgery day).  Before I even pulled out of the parking space, she burst through the front door to say thanks.  Yeah - that made both of our days!

I am amused by Miss Havisham's insulting tea cups (scroll down to For the lady who speaks her mind...).

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Pair of Borders

I tried to move on to other projects, but Mom's quilt sucked me back in.  I calculated the yardage and bought the fabric I need for my next quilt.  So there's that.  And I baked.  A lot.  However, I spent a good chunk of Thanksgiving cutting and playing with the border.  It was fun - just not what I had intended to do.

But look:

Friday, December 1, 2017

Baltimore Berger Cookies

Years ago, one of my coworkers lived in Baltimore.  Every Christmas she'd send a care package that included boxes of Berger cookies.  Our whole team got excited when that package arrived.  I swear the sole purpose of that cake-like cookie was to transport the thick layer of fudgy frosting.  Sweet, rich and absurd looking.  They're delicious.

It's been several years since the office closed (we moved to home offices) and the care packages stopped.  Yet our team still reminisces about Berger cookies.  So when I came across a recipe for Baltimore Berger Cookies I knew I had to give it a try.