31 August, 2012

Friday Favourites - Sympatico

In my entire quilting career (14 years now) I've only ever purchased an entire quilt line twice. It never so happens that every print, every colour in a line grabs me and makes me excited to create. I've been rather impatiently waiting for Sympatico from Cloud 9 Fabrics to arrive ever since Michelle and Gina posted the previews of the line.

(Interesting side note: the only other line I've gathered in its entirety was another organic line: Shades of Grey from Daisy Janie.)

I waited until I finished a bucketload of work this summer to treat myself to these fabrics. 1/2 yard of each print. I think I need even more of the stripes because they would make such wonderful bindings. Now I impatiently wait for some solids to match so I can get sewing. No hoarding going on here, I'm desperate to cut into those prints!

Not being able to sew myself with the fabric didn't stop me from buying something made from Sympatico. After 10 years with a decent camera I finally picked up a camera strap. It's thick and padded and looks like a little too much for a camera strap, but it is perfect because the girls are constantly borrowing the camera now. This big strap makes me less nervous when they are around. I picked this up from Sew Fantastic. Another Friday Favourite.

28 August, 2012

Mountain Meadows

I have this quilt in mind. In fact, I've had it in mind for a year. We went on our first family hike in the mountains near us. It was a gorgeous day, everyone had fun, and I was completely taken with the mountain meadows. One usually focuses on the view, but I couldn't stop staring at the little bits of colour in the flowers all around us.  And now I hope to capture some of that magic in a quilt.

The inspiration:

Gathering fabrics, courtesy of Modern Quilt Guild members who responded to a plea for solid green scraps. Yes, solids. I'm pushing myself here! Now, let's see where this goes.

24 August, 2012

Girlie - Next Round

Yesterday I was able to play around with my last round on the Girlie quilt I posted. My original plan was to echo the chopsticks technique of the center block. Here it is.

But it didn't look right to me. Something about that flower applique made this all a bit too traditional in feel and the improv seemed disjointed. I also felt like it needed more pink than anything, not just the white as I'd said.

So I pulled out my pink, black, and white chopsticks blocks. They are now the nice start of another girlie baby quilt.

Then I made these wavy strips. The wave isn't that noticeable from a distance, but it is there, trust me. A small echo of the wavy line of the applique. Now to decide which way to place them. And what I should put in the corners. Any suggestions?


23 August, 2012


This was a round robin quilt that languished in the cupboard once it came back to me. I made the center square, then it went around to some other ladies in my guild. Once it came home I wasn't sure what to do with it. I loved the addition of pink, but it made it far more girlie than I'm used to.

But now there is a baby girl in my family and this seems like a rather suitable quilt for her.

I'm going to add another round to bring it up to a more functional size. It's only 27.5'' square. I also think it needs a bit more white. to brighten it up even more.  And definitely a little more pink needs to be added, plus a pink backing.

And now? I love the girlie nature of those pink flowers. Perfect for a precious girl.

21 August, 2012

Babes in Arms

Look closely. See the baby? Until today that little guy, carried there by husband was banned from Quilt Market. Just as he was there.

My husband travelled with me to Spring Quilt Market this past May. The baby was two months old so he came as support as a father and as a husband. But he spent his time wandering the streets of Kansas City and our hotel room because the baby was banned from the show floor at Market. So, every time the little guy needed to eat I had to stop what I was doing and head down the escalators at the convention center to feed him on some uncomfortable chairs in the lobby. It was frustrating for all of us.

You see, ALL children under 14 are banned from the show floor at Market. That is, until today. The folks at Quilts Inc. have modified their rules for Market to allow babes in arms/carriers to be allowed on the show floor. Not only that, they will set up a nursing friendly area for mothers to gather and feed their babies, right on the show floor.

As I've said before, being a quilter goes hand in hand with being a mother for me. In that I am not alone. The industry is changing as more and more younger women take up the craft and develop careers and businesses from their love of this textile world. I applaud Quilts Inc. for finally recognizing that with this change in policy.

16 August, 2012

Smooth Move (Recipe: Toasted Almond Ice Cream)

When we moved into our home nine years ago we joked that we needed a giant painting of an almond to represent our kitchen. The walls, appliances, floor, countertops, backsplash, and even the 80s reno of the 50s kitchen cabinets were all almond coloured. It was like cooking inside an almond. In nine years the only things that have changed are the appliances and the wall colour. Frankly, it still feels like we live in a almond.

Good thing I like nuts.

I promised to post this recipe after tweeting about it a few weeks back. I like my almond milk, often making it from scratch. I like it warm with a bit of honey in it before bed. I use it to make hot cocoa so that I feel like I'm having something slightly healthier. It is great for dunking with fresh chocolate chip cookies. In fact, it is this last combo that inspired this almond ice cream.

I played around and got a flavour for the almond ice cream which is tasty, smooth, and not saccharine. It is rich and full of almond flavour, not unlike my kitchen. We ate it straight, right off the spoon fresh out of the ice cream maker. I sandwiched it between the best chocolate chip cookies ever and shared it with our neighbours as a birthday treat. I even had a smidge of it next to the last slice of peach pie one morning. I also think it would make a great sundae with some in season peaches or cherries cooked a little bit for a sauce.

Of course, it would be nice of me to share a photo of said ice cream. And I would have. But Hubby was moving the deep freeze and we lost the ice cream. And the leftover ice cream sandwiches (And a tray of Saskatoon berries. Sigh). Alas, no pictures. Just those almonds.

Almond Ice Cream
Makes 4 cups

1 cup slivered or chopped almonds
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tonka Bean* (optional)
1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 egg yolks

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Once to temperature toast the almonds on a baking sheet for 6 minutes. They should take on colour, but not get too brown.

While the almonds are toasting (but still keep an eye on them) combine the rest of the ingredients, save the egg yolks in a medium pot. When the almonds are toasted add them to the cream/milk mixture. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Strain out the almonds. (You can chop the almonds and add them back in to the ice cream once it is churned if you like.)

Whisk together the 4 egg yolks in a bowl. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the warm cream/milk mixture and whisk. This tempers the eggs. Pour all of this back in the pot with the remaining cream/milk. Cook the custard over medium heat, watching constantly and stirring frequently until the custard is thick and cooked. It should coat the back of a spoon when dipped into the custard. Strain again through a fine sieve. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and chill for 2-4 hours or overnight.

Churn in your ice cream maker, according to manufacturers' instructions.

*Tonka Bean is a hard pod that, when grated, adds a vanilla/almond like flavour to the dish at hand. Here, it accentuates the almond in the ice cream.

13 August, 2012



As Hubby and I were walking down the aisle a little over 10 years ago our entire bridal party shouted out FINALLY! Sheesh, we hadn't been dating that long (6 years). Well, that's how I feel now. Finally, I am done with two major deadlines. Finally, I am outside enjoying time with the girls in the summer heat. Finally, I am able to look at my son with clear eyes, just in time to see all that drool. And finally, I am able to quilt. FINALLY!

I've got a stack of quilts just waiting for their pass through my Pfaff. I would love to say that they will all get done this summer, but I'm more realistic than that. There are gin and tonics to be drunk, peach pies to be made, neighbours to hang with, and those kids who need more attention than the slip and slide can provide.

Up top I'm working on a special quilt, but it is intense to work on for both the emotions and the quilting. In the pile TBQ (to be quilted) are our anniversary quilt, a Cosmic Burst baby quilt, and a quilt top I picked up for a song. I'm not sure why, but I really, really want to get all these quilted before I move on to anything else. Do you ever do that? Have quilt stacked up in one part of the process? Or are you a start to finish kind of person?

Updated: I found 3 more quilt tops to be quilted!

09 August, 2012

100 Things to See

Billed as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede made its annual mark on our city last month. Until this year we'd kept the knowledge of this spectacle under wraps. Thanks to school friends, however, we were bombarded by the begging. So we succumbed and took the girls for a few hours this year.

The rodeo would have been awesome to go to, but we couldn't get tickets. That means the greatest outdoor show is the parade of fake cowboys and nasty, skanky outfits. Oh, and the midway and the food and the agricultural events.

Then there is the Western Oasis. Walk through the trade show to a different sort of place. Air conditioned, softly lit, water features everywhere, and a gathering of Western themed artisans. Think lots of horse paintings. A lot of them. Tucked in the corner is a quilt show, just a small one. And in the center of that show was the Calgary Stampede Centennial Quilt.

Months ago I helped a neighbour make a block to mark her experience with the Stampede. We put together this righteous rodeo clown. Well, of all the submissions it made it into the quilt. Proudly on display, the quilt marked the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. And I've got a tiny piece of it.

In other Stampede news we took in some food and some rides. And, of course, checked out the barns with the horses, pigs, and show cows.

(That's my Morgan with a Morgan horse.)

06 August, 2012

Custom Pillowcases

The first slip of paper out of our Summer Fun Jars under To Make was Pillowcases. I gave the girls 3 choices:

... Pick fabric and we'd sew pillowcases.
... Write then embroider their names on pillowcases.
... Go to town with fabric markers on plain pillowcases.

Shockingly, they picked the colouring option.

(That's a drawing of a tiger quilt on your right.)

Over the course of a week they drew, they coloured, the signed, they went crazy on two cheap pillowcases I picked up at a big box store. The fabric markers I already had, leftover from the days when I would colour all my quilt labels. Like most of our crafting I let them be, with little direction. This was their project, not mine. I believe in setting them up and letting them do what they want.

 Now, at night, they curl up with their personal artwork. It's pretty darn cute.