31 May, 2011

Quilts Recover Launch


The world has seen a lot of tragedy lately. Earthquakes, tornados, fires, and more. Your heart breaks a little bit each time you hear the stories and see the images. More often than not, however, the stories remain part of the nightly news. We talk about it at the dinner table or the office, we might even send in a donation or two to a charitable organization. We each do what we can.

After a particularly trying time myself I decided that I needed to do more than talk and read about it. To break out of my own grief I needed to help others. The images of houses completely gone, evidence of people's lives lived just destroyed were powerful. The thought of rebuilding seems so remote at those times.

Quilts Recover is about providing just one bit of comfort during that rebuilding process. Quilts Recover is quilters providing finished quilts to communities ravaged by disaster.

As of today, Quilts Recover is accepting donations of unused quilts to donate to communities where the rebuilding process is occurring. We accept functional quilts only - no comforters, bedding, duvets, or blankets. All quilts must qualify as lap/nap or bed quilts. All quilts must be complete - no unquilted tops please. Quilts will then be labelled and donated, through registered charitable organizations on site, to target communities.

The first target community is Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada. Earlier this month, May, a wildfire swept through the town of about 7000 people. Nearly half the homes and businesses were destroyed, utterly consumed by the fire. People are only returning to their homes now. Quilts Recover will provide as many quilts as possible to families rebuilding their lives in Slave Lake.

To donate a quilt please contact me directly at quiltsrecover@gmail.com.

Quilts Recover will accept donations of clean, unused, and functional quilts for Slave Lake until July 31. 2011. All quilts will then be labelled and donated. I'll keep you posted on arrivals and delivery times.

The first two quilts will be coming from my own pile of finished work. Quilts I enjoyed making, quilts that someone else can use more than being stored in my cupboards.

Thank-you for your support and donations. I'm looking forward to seeing what the community of quilters can do.

Thank-you to Cathryn Ironside for her generous work on the Quilts Recover logo.

26 May, 2011

Almost Herringbone



There is cutting and sewing and pressing going on! Check out what those strips of Shades of Grey are turning into.

I was completely influenced by the fabric itself. Jan's bold graphics are so inspiring to me. Such a great change from florals these days. The one Ragg Tagg print fit perfectly into a concept I'd been exploring. So I essentially have taken that one fabric and made it large-scale for the quilt pattern itself. It was so easy to do and I love the effect.


And check out how well it all works with our patio chairs.

Depending on how my evenings go I should be able to share the finished project in a week or so.

Please stay tuned for another project I'm launching next week. This one's a biggie!

24 May, 2011

Revelations

I've had a revelation over the last few weeks. It does not at all coincide with my birthday. Or the hours spent in the ER with The Evil Genius last week. It started when I came across this particular blog, Can You Stay For Dinner? She chronicles a massive weight loss and living her new life - the triumphs and the struggles. In one post on her weight loss she mentions emotional eating. Many of us do it, myself included. But when I read her post something twigged for me. I was convinced that I ate for the hug that it gave me - beer or chocolate at the end of the day to come down from the stress. In truth, comfort eating for me is a way to simply hide under the covers when I'm too drained to face the world.

This revelation hasn't caused me to suddenly stop eating cake at night. I mentioned that it was my birthday on the weekend, right? But it is making me stop and look at all the things that have been hanging over my head, keeping me down. By not tackling some things on the to-do list, simple and large, I'm effectively hiding my head under the covers instead of moving forward with life.

In that spirit I'm on a kick to catch up with bee blocks and knock out some WIPs. Not all of them, only those that are holding me back from starting some new work. These are commitments I've been avoiding in the interest of doing things for me, but in avoiding them I'm not able to move ahead. They need to get done so I can really pay attention to myself and the fun stuff.

This first set is for Shea, as part of my Pieced Together Bee. I am now addicted to Moda Crossweaves. These are gorgeous! Her only request was right angles only. I found out on this block that you can still do improv, it all matters in how you prep the pieces. I see more challenges like this in my future. And more crossweaves.


The next ones come from the Mid Mod Bee. Every single block and participant in this bee inspire me. I've had so much fun working on these blocks because they are all different and all come from such different places. But the inspiration from mid-century modern design prevails. It's been great to see the interpretations.

This is Robin's. She wanted a loose interpretation of Mondrian, a little less precise though. Mine isn't quite as curved as she'd probably like, so I left it large for her to trim down.


And this is Blair's. She was inspired by some images of fireplaces in a mid-century modern design book. I have the same book, so I totally get the inspiration. What a great combination of solids she has here.

I've got a couple more bee blocks to go and some tops to put together, then I can feel comfortable moving forward on some of my own projects again. Including some baby and wedding quilts. No rest for the wicked! Or the sick as the cold the girls gave me for my birthday is indeed begging to have me hide under the covers.

19 May, 2011

No Pretense

I've tried to muster the enthusiasm for brisket, eggs, and the coming asparagus. I've tried to cook my family a dinner that is worthy of attention. I've tried to care to want to serve the girls more than bread with butter and honey. I've tried. I've tried. I've tried.

The truth is, I just don't have it in me.

Shopping, planning, cooking, writing, and even reading about food is at the bottom of my list of tolerable activities right now. My energy is devoted to not killing my kids when their energy gets the better of me, to answering the calls from my family when the last thing I want to do is talk, or avoiding the constant crooked finger beckoning of alcohol, sugar, and fat.

It would be easy to say that it's grief. And that would be true. My Dad, my dog, even grief over my old professional life. It's also burn out, insecurity, and the extra weight of life, life, life. I could say that the last 3 months have been killer, but so have the last 6, the last 9, hell the last 18! I could wallow in the crap that has happened from ski accidents to deaths. I could wallow, but then I really wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. And frankly, I don't actually want to wallow - it takes up too much energy.

I want to think about Happy Foods, to enjoy cooking, to get excited about being creative in the kitchen, to grab the girls and hit a farm. It just isn't there, though. I frankly don't give a rat's ass about food right now. I'm desperate for people to bring me casseroles or a pot of chili. I would do anything for my husband to decide to make Spanish Rice every single night.

On top of that, I really don't care to photograph or write about anything I do eat or cook. Hell, I posted a picture of a ridiculous can opener last week. My blog needs some quality control. Or a serious kick in the butt.

I wish I was the kind of person that could stock up on frozen meals or processed food. It really would make life easier right now. The fact that I haven't got there yet means something. It means that not all is lost. Somewhere inside is the person that I do know that I am, the person that ultimately does care whether my kids eat fruit in season and that we know our farmer.

Food blogging started as an outlet for me, a way to practice my writing and get me out of my comfort zone. Then it turned into my comfort zone. Now I'm not sure what it is. Mostly, it's a challenge and I don't mean that in a good way. But I made a commitment and for now I'm sticking with it. That commitment includes being honest and open. In doing that, however, I feel like the tone here hasn't been great. My frustration with life is certainly evident. Coming here must be like hanging out with a whining pessimistic friend - eventually it gets to you.

That doesn't mean I can suddenly pretend to be chipper and fake enthusiasm for another brownie recipe. Perhaps the asparagus will indeed snap me out of things, or maybe I'll find some fiddleheads somewhere? Or maybe time will simply allow my creativity and motivation to slowly creep back? Those girls of mine don't give us much choice. Just the other day, out of nowhere, The Monster asked me to cook some Czech food. Know any good recipes? I've got to find something for some new explorations or the middle aisles of the grocery store just might become my new home instead of the farmers' market. That gives even me a little shudder.

But I would still take any cheese covered casseroles left on my doorstep.

Heartening

Heartening
72'' by 72''

A few weeks ago my sister turned 40! To mark the occasion my sister-in-law and I (she's also a quilter) decided to make her a quilt. Everyone deserves a quilt on such a momentous birthday. This is the result of some late nights filled with cider and crass humour. Oh, and some love too.

It was an easy quilt to put together. We used the Chopsticks method. I love taking a pretty modern design idea but using it with unexpected fabrics. The softer quality to these greens and neutrals would usually be seen on a more traditional quilt. With this design, though, they are totally different. We chose the colours to coordinate with my sister's house.

The quilting was done entirely with a walking foot. Yes, a walking foot made all those curves. They are such gradual curves that you can easily do it without dropping the feed dogs. I really wanted some curves to contrast the sharp lines of the quilt top. And even though I confident with my free motion work, I needed something that I knew wouldn't provide me with a single challenge considering the timing of when I was quilting this. One little tension issue and I would have lost it.

The back was pieced from fabrics I had in my stash. A few yard cuts and some fat quarters. Fabric I bought and loved but still hadn't used. The pops of blue work because a few of the greens on the front have some bluer tones. Besides, all those neutrals were getting to me, I wanted to more colour!

Here is my brother putting on the label. He hates this picture because he says his hands look old. I hate to point it out to him that he is.. ahem, older than my sister. I love it because here are the surgeon's hands sewing. Meticulous and caring, perfect for a surgeon and an older brother.

Just a simple striped binding. It has all the colours of the quilt. It was a lucky find as I was picking up the batting I saw it by the till. I didn't actually have the quilt with me, but I was pretty sure it would work. It was perfect - the right colours but soft enough not to overpower the quilt itself.

We gave it to my sister the weekend we were cutting down a pile of trees at my Mom's house. I couldn't help but snap a photo with some wood. Aside from the trees there is a lot of wood that my Dad gathered over the years. It comes with the territory when you work in construction.

And here is my sister celebrating with her quilt. I hope it is giving her plenty of comfort. I bet she and her son are already spending some good time snuggling.

Happy Birthday Jan!
This quilt is a part of the Bloggers' Quilt Festival.

Amy's Creative Side

17 May, 2011

Where to Start?

~~~repost because Blogger crashed and lost the original one~~~

Back in March I left Amanda Jean's place with a great friendship and a pile of challenges. My challenge really, is figuring out which one to do first?


This roll of fat quarters is so, so, so out of the realm of my usual. Hers to. We split it into fat eighths so we could each have some of everything. Of course we can add more too! I think it will be a great challenge to turn this rather subdued and traditional stack of fabrics in a very funky and bold way. I've already got a design in mind. My only hint is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...

The fat quarter bundle was actually a treat from Bernadette at Traditional Pastimes. She got so exited while I was pulling fabric that she cut an identical bundle for herself. I'm quite intrigued to see what she does with her fabric.


Here is another bundle from Traditional Pastimes in a gorgeous colourway. Some fabrics are quite bright, some more subdued. It should make for a perfect blend in a simple pattern. I'm thinking a variation on half square triangles, but nothing is set in stone yet. There could also be pinwheels.


Then there are these two neutral fabrics. Just two fabrics. Nothing else. It's a quilting challenge. This one is very exciting to me. I actually got it sewn together and basted last weekend. It was my turn for a demo at guild so I used this as a sample for basting a quilt.


Finally, before I left she gave me this stack of fabric from Connecting Threads. It's the Canning Day line. I think it will blend perfectly with some vintage feedsack prints I've got. I already know that I'm going to make Amanda's quilt from Fresh Fabric Treats. I know, not me, right? But I love her pattern and I think the fabrics will be perfect for it.

Who knows when Amanda Jean and I will get a chance to see each other again? Thankfully we have the internet and our readers to keep us honest and open. Make sure you keep asking me about these projects. And don't worry, there are more...

10 May, 2011

Mystery Object

Does anyone know what this is?

My Mom was cleaning out some drawers the other day and came across this potential torture device. We have our theories about what it might be used for, but I'm curious if anyone knows for sure what it is?

09 May, 2011

More Grey



It might seem appropriate that I'm working with grey fabric these days, but I assure you that these Shades of Grey fabric are far from dreary and dull. Clear tones, loads of white, and some amazing graphics on the latest line from Jan at Daisy Janie. This line is also printed on certified organic cotton.

Jan sent me some of this new yardage a few months back. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to it until very recently. Now I have an exciting project underway using these great prints. For now, I've cut strips. And I'm drooling over this particular print and it just might have inspired the design of this quilt, much like the Ogee fabric from Geo Grand inspired my Ornamental Organic quilt.


As usual, I'll keep you posted on my progress.

If you are interested in Shades of Grey, I've seen them available for purchase so far at Fat Quarter Shop, Wondrous Wovens, Sew Mama Sew, and Marmalade Fabrics.

04 May, 2011

Happy Foods

Comfort Food gets all the attention. The creamy, cheesy, starchy, and heavy food that we seek when it's cold, when life is hard, when we need a bit of love and a set of arms to hug us isn't around. There comes a point when comfort food isn't enough or it's become too much. That's when we have to pull out the Happy Food.

Happy Food is the food that we love to grow, pick, cook, and eat. It gives us pleasure in thought, touch, smell, and taste. When you think of Happy Food you can't help but smile. In a way it is comforting, but instead of hiding in relief it bursts through you with peace or joy.

It might seem that Happy Food is seasonal. The snow finally melts, green things poke up from the ground, calves are suckling on the ranches. So we start thinking of the ease of warm weather and the fresh food that comes with it. We dream about sun-warmed tomatoes and fresh asparagus. The stews, baked pasta, and spices of winter kept us warm but they need to be put away for at least a few months.

I would argue that we need to find the Happy Food regardless of the time of year. Feed yourself to nurture the joy in your soul, not the pain. Feed yourself the food that fills you with pleasure long before one taste reaches your mouth. Feed yourself happy.

These are the things that feed me happy.


Tomatoes, warm from the bush, salted on toast with aioli, or slow, slow roasted and eaten like candy.


A good burger, preferably my husband's, or a thick, medium-rare steak.


Raspberries picked from the bush, and hopefully made into gecko fingers, and eaten one at a time.


Fresh peaches.


Ice Cream, of pretty much any flavour like Mint Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel, or Strawberry.


Carrots thick with the flavour of the stock they flavoured in a long, slow simmer.


Poached eggs, peppered and placed on hash, last night's veggies, or sauteed greens with feta.


Maple syrup.


Brussels Sprouts. Roasted is the best way, but I'll take them any way I can get.


Pink Grapefruit, eaten in sections on cold, cold winter days. Best with company.

What about you? What are your happy foods?

03 May, 2011

Yee-Haw

My weekend was a country song. I'm no poet, nor a songwriter, but the events and emotions of the weekend would really make a good country song.

After a stop at a doughnut shop and a ride on the Prairie highway in a 1 ton dually I found out I need surgery. I know that, have known it since I wrecked my knees last year, but the surgeon is finally willing to schedule the first one.

We broke out the chainsaw to remove some trees at my Mom's place. Many have needed to go for years and my Dad was quite hung up on getting it done. So Hubby brought up his chainsaw and the family gathered for a heck of a lot of tree chopping.

My sister turned 40! We celebrated by chopping down trees with a chainsaw. And we gave her the quilt that we worked on in secret (more on that quilt another day).


There is a new baby in the family. A gorgeous, happy little baby boy to cuddle, tease, and laugh with. He is little brother to Hubby's little brother's first son. Cuddling him was about the most perfect thing in the world for me this weekend.


My dog died. Buster aka Bustamonte aka Damn Black Dog never woke up on Saturday morning. The big galoot was happy and playing with the kids on Friday, chillin' at my feet at the end of the night. He was healthy, as far as we knew, and not that old. And Saturday morning he was gone, having died in the night at the foot of the bed where my Dad used to sleep.

We toasted the Damn Black Dog/drowned our sorrows at a bar called The Beer Hunter. 'Nuff said.

Then there was that whole killing the big terrorist thing, but I had nothing to do with that.

Surgeons, chainsaws, births and birthdays, secret US military missions, and a dead dog. Yup, that's a country song for sure.