29 February, 2012

A Clown

We've got a lot of really lovely neighbours. Surrogate grandparents, friends, and folks who generally love to spoil the girls. When one of them asks us for a favour in return I'm more than happy to stand up.

Our neighbours that helped out with plans for the basement and who rescued our damn black dog more than once recently asked me to help out with a commemorative project. She was once quite heavily involved in the Western Showcase at the Calgary Stampede. So when the Stampede folks invited quilt block donations she asked me to help her out.

Her history is deep with the Stampede and she wanted her block to reflect that history and the influence of the art and person of Paul Van Ginkel. So, with his permission she translated some of his artwork of rodeo clowns into a sketch. We worked with the fabrics provided and a few others. Based on her sketch we put together a block. Fused and satin stitched applique, with a touch of thread painting.

Now, I'm not a clown person. I don't have that fear either. This block isn't my kind of thing, personally, but it is a great translation of the sketch and inspiration. And a great appreciation to my neighbour and her history.



27 February, 2012

For Peanut


This pretty stack NEEDED to be pulled last week. Not for a deadline, although there is that. Not for secret project, although I can't fully share it yet for reasons which will become shortly evident. Mostly, just because I had to. I've been overwhelmed and swamped with things that HAVE to be done. That meant I wasn't playing, I wasn't sewing just because. And I could tell. I was getting cranky, antsy, and frankly a bit bored with the necessary bits of life.

So I decided to pull a pretty pile of fabric and play. Look at all those solids! Well, for me they are a lot of solids. I pressed, I cut, I sewed, I played, I sewed, I pressed, and in my spare moments of time over two days I had a baby quilt.

And I felt so much better!

Not a moment too soon, either. It helped my sanity as our reno kicks into a very mess part and the pregnancy gets closer and closer to the end. Oh, and because this is destined to be a baby quilt for a new niece or nephew due to arrive any day now. See, there is a deadline and a sort of need for secrecy.

Look at us, my sister and I, getting SO CLOSE to the end we're giddy. Yeah, that's it.

23 February, 2012

Kisses in Progress

I'm making progress on our anniversary quilt. These were some of the blocks yesterday. The blocks are 30" by 35''. By the end of the night I had the top together. It wasn't hard, there are only 9 of these giant blocks together to make up the king-sized quilt top.

The design for this top comes directly from Kananaskis. When Hubby saw it he said it was one of his favourite quilts I'd ever made. I knew I was going to do big blocks, but that pretty much sealed the deal.

So, I've got 6 weeks to finish it up. Once I work up the energy and flexibility to baste the thing. Did I mention it was king-sized?

Are Xs the hugs or kisses of Xs and Os? I routinely have this debate with my husband. I say Xs are the kisses and he argues the opposite. These are the things you talk about after almost 16 years together. What does it matter so long as there are still Xs and Os in your life?

21 February, 2012

Kananaskis

Kananaskis
Roughly 38'' by 50''

Inspired entirely by the rivers flowing through the Rocky Mountains near my home. And by the activities like camping and paddling that happen on or near those rivers.

This is a baby quilt for my still youngest nephew, the second son of my brother- and sister-in-law. He is a paddler and she is the driver for the paddlers. They've spent a big chunk of their adult lives by the Kananaskis. I was quite stuck on what to make for a baby quilt for this nephew, after the precedent I'd set with Your Parents Are Cool. Then we were all camping together this summer, on the shore of another river. Inspiration hit and this quilt was born.


Honestly, this was a pretty easy quilt to make - in my head. Put the strips together for the back, slice, and resew with the turquoise strips. Yeah, no. But I made it work in a way I'm really happy with. I added a contrasting back, quilted it with random straight lines in turquoise. Not too much quilting so it would stay soft and cuddly. Perfect for babies or a stuffed moose.

And then attempt to photograph it with four kids around...

Ah, that's better. With the recipient, my adorable nephew.

17 February, 2012

We Have a Winner!

Popping in to share the good news for our winner.

Blue Crab said:

I love grey with yellow. It works with so many other colors too. I've been trying to get enough grey to make an all grey quilt, but I'm sure I'd have to have some sore of other color as an accent.

It sounds like this fat quarter pack and pattern will be a great addition to her stash.

Thank-you everyone for entering. And thank-you to Jan and Cara for bringing about such a great giveaway.

15 February, 2012

Kinda, Sorta, Suns...


Ignore the fact that those aren't really circles. Or think of them as organic suns.

I'm so close to finishing up the quilting my To a T quilt. After taking the first machine quilting class from Ana Buzzalino I decided I needed to push myself a little. I doodled and doodled. Then I basted, hoping that process would force me to make a decision. I certainly had some time to think - basting took me a while with the belly in the way!

I was pinning on a block that has the gorgeous orange print, Moira, from Echo by Lotta Jansdotter when the inspiration hit. My sketch and my reality aren't actually all that close to the design on the print, but it is the idea. And Lotta's print doesn't have perfect circles either.


I'm using Aurifil 50wt thread to quilt this. A few weeks ago I won a pack of the Mark Lipinski Basics collection by Aurifil - lucky me! One of the beige threads was perfect. And it works fantastically with the purples I've put on the back.

Binding this week...

13 February, 2012

Shades of Grey Giveaway!



Okay, two little bits for you today. You may or may not know about either of them. If you do, then consider this more treats. If you don't, then consider yourself informed and treated.

First off, let's have a giveaway! Jan from Daisy Janie is donating a fat quarter bundle of her gorgeous, organic Shades of Grey line to one lucky reader. And I'm contributing a free Kinda Herringbone pattern (PDF to your mailbox) that was completely inspired by Shades of Grey.


This giveaway is a direct result of Jan and the lovely Cara from Cara Quilts. Have you heard of Talkin' Tuesdays? It is a Twitter chat held on Tuesday nights. (It was that obvious, wasn't it?). Cara hosts and is joined in leading the discussions by the weekly sponsors. Sponsors mean prizes!

So, a few weeks ago I won this bundle from Jan when she sponsored Talkin' Tuesday. Seeing as I've made a quilt, and pattern, from Shades of Grey already I talked to Jan and decided to pay it forward. One lucky reader will get the fat quarter bundle and the pattern.

Jan and I are curious, what are your thoughts on using grey in your sewing? Do you combine it with other colours? What ones? Have you ever used grey by itself? Or, just tell us about your love for grey. To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this post between now and Thursday 8 pm MST.

10 February, 2012

Anastasia

My Baba was a diminutive woman who reminded those who just met her of Yoda. Her limited, broken English sounded a lot like the tiny green Jedi's manner of speech. She was also soft, kind, and generous.

If you've ever known a Baba or heard the stereotypes about these Ukrainian grandmothers you can assume you know my Baba. Her world revolved around her enormous garden, making sure people were well fed, worrying about anything and everything, church, and cross stitch. Everyone was too skinny. Hairy legs on a man meant he was going to be rich. Cold drinks made you sick. (My poor grandfather, forced to drink warm beer.)

This pincushion caught my eye at a quilt show a few years back. A little Baba to add to my sewing supplies. Each pincushion was different, and each had a name. As soon as I saw the name on this one, Anastasia, she had to come home with me. Anastasia was my own Baba's name. My own little sewing Yoda.

Now, the girls know the pincushion by name and ask to play with her. And Baba keeps me company when I sew.

(To read more about my Baba and her influence on me, check out the article on page 76 in Delish Mag.)

08 February, 2012

10



One of these days I'll finish a quilt. For now, I'm comfortable starting more.

This is the stack of fabrics I put together for a quilt I'm making my husband for our upcoming 10th anniversary. It might seem girly, but these were our wedding colours. Colours that he loved then (or so he said) and I'm hoping he'll still like. It's for a king sized quilt that is for a date that is 2 months away. Yup, I am purely insane.

Insanely in love.

(Ugh, gag me with a spoon.)

I'll do my best. I got this quilt in my head and I'm on a mission.

BTW, did I mention that our anniversary is more or less my due date? I probably should have done that when I introduced The Bet the other day.

(BTW, he doesn't read the blog at all, so the only way he'll find out is if certain people say something to him. You know who you are - keep your mouth shut!)

06 February, 2012

Book or Baby?


Well, I've come to 31 weeks pregnant! If it wasn't for an extended bout of single parenting I'd probably be managing the pregnancy quite well too. I'm exhausted - what with the kidlets, the dragon in my belly, keeping up with my nesting instinct, and the bits of work I manage to get in there. Oh, and the quilting.

At this point I am trying to clean up the house because it is becoming evident that the basement won't be done before baby arrives. That means this dragon will need a home. I predict a basket on the dining room table, just like the girls. So I'm cleaning up piles of crap and organizing things to find just a bit of empty space for breathing room.

I'm also gathering. Books and things for the girls to keep them busy during those long hours of nursing at the beginning. A stack of projects to plug away on in any free moments. The cell numbers of our neighbourhood friends when I need a playdate or school pick-up. Just the basics.

And I, we, are planning for the arrival of Sunday Morning Quilts too. We've heard that advance copies are on their way to us, but we've yet to see them. The book itself should be shipping to stores and pre-orders in March at some point.

That leads me to a little bet we've got going on. Which will come first - the book or the baby?

You see, both the girls were born at 37 weeks. That's only 6 weeks from now, right around St. Patrick's Day. As opposed to my due date, on Easter weekend.

I thought I would let you all in on our bet. So, leave a comment below with your best guess on book and baby arrival. Pick a date for both. For example, Baby - March 15 and Book March 20.

Obviously, the baby's arrival will be confirmed by me. As to the book's arrival, I will go with the first date I hear of someone getting their book(s). This can be an individual or a store. Be honest, now.

The winner will be the person closest on both accounts. I'll put together a little prize. Depending on how well the baby is doing it may or may not include the baby. (Kidding.) I've also got a poll going in the sidebar, just for fun.

May the best person win. Oh wait, I'm pretty sure that gets to be me. May the next best person win.

03 February, 2012

Visiting (Recipe: Gooey Butter Cake)



Back in October I spent time with my SIL, some of her family, and my Mom. It was an evenly split group between Louisiana folks and Northerners (two Canadians and 1 New Yorker). That made for great conversations, good accents, and a whole lot of talk about food.

Even though I'd met DeeDee, my SIL's Mom many times before this was the first time I was in her home. And I knew it was home the second I arrived. The coffee table was covered with cookbooks and magazines. Literally stacked 5 deep in piles, with spillover littering the floor and every other flat surface. Definitely my kind of lady. A collector, not a hoarder.

Over the course of the 5 days we were there we shopped for a gold sequined dress (not for me), I attended Quilt Market, we ate - a lot, and as we sat and chatted I think I (and the others) flipped through most of the visible books. My favourite among the stack was Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and massive losses of property the New Orleans newspaper, the Time-Picayune became a home for recipe swappers. Many of the recipes in Cooking Up a Storm were originally published in the paper. Most of the recipes are beloved of the people from the area and capture the taste and attitude of New Orleans. For my extended family who survived the Hurricane and the flooding I always feel drawn to any survival and celebration stories.

As we gathered in Houston and flipped through cookbooks we all kept coming back to this one. Full of recipes, it was one particular one that caught my eye: Gooey Butter Cake.



Gooey Butter Cake starts with a yeasted base topped with a whole bunch of sweetness and butter. Despite that combination it doesn't taste like bread, it isn't overly sweet, and the butter taste is one step below rich. In other words, the name of the recipe is deceiving. The taste, however, is quite good. We found the cake rich, a little bit gooey and a little bit dense. It actually wasn't that sweet, which made it pretty much perfect for a tea-time snack or, ahem, breakfast.

Many recipes actually call for a yellow cake base. I can't speak for that, other than it would, of course, be easier than making a yeasted base. I'm sticking with the original from the Times Picayune. (Even though the recipe is actually from St. Louis or thereabouts.) That has nothing to do with honouring the New Orleans links in my family, nothing at all.



Gooey Butter Cake
(Slightly adapted from Cooking Up a Storm)
Makes 2 cakes

Cake Base
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/3 - 2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg

Filling
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup white corn syrup
2 large eggs
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Heat the milk and water with the butter over low heat until warm. The butter doesn’t have to melt, just be warm.

In large bowl mix together the yeast with ¾ cup of the flour, the sugar, and the salt. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add about ¼ cup more flour, or enough to make a thick batter. Add the egg. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, scraping. Stir in enough additional flour so that the dough holds together and can be turned out., but is still sticky. Work in just enough flour to handle easily then knead for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

Grease and flour two 8'' square pans. Divide the dough equally into the pans and shape so it fits the pan, pressing it up the sides. It will rise slightly as you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the butter and shortening until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the condensed milk and beat until light. Add the syrup and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until the batter is light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and remaining 1/4 cup condensed milk, alternating the flour and milk. Finally, add the vanilla and salt, mix well.

Pour the filling over the yeast dough and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges.

It won't look fully cooked when you remove it from the oven, but it will set after cooling. Once completely cool sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

01 February, 2012

In Theory...


Any guess on what this is?

...

... Giving you a chance to guess here...

...

...

Here's a hint...

Got it now?

Yup, it's a small pillow made to mimic a bladder. Those aren't arteries and a vein coming from the bladder pillow. Those are the ureters (red) and urethra (blue). We had no pink ribbon in the house.

The girls have been listening to me whine about this baby kicking me like the dickens in my bladder. It's a pressure I've not experienced before. So The Monster, the wise one she is, suggested we make a pillow that looks like the bladder for the baby to kick instead of me.

So, she pulled out her anatomy textbook and human body books for reference. Consulted with my brother, a surgeon, on the correct colour of the bladder. She raided my fabric stash for what she thought was the appropriate fabric. She even drew the pattern herself. And did most of the stitching by hand on her own. She and her sister stuffed it to what they thought was the appropriate puffiness.

And now the baby has its own pillow to kick instead of me. I only wish it actually worked.


And dammit, I love this kid. She is pure awesome.