Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Easter, rum cake, and sewing projects...

I hope your Easter was good.  A new tradition here is a holiday tablecloth that I started last year--everyone signs their name and maybe even adds a comment or drawing, which I later embroider.  I hadn't actually done any stitching however, so last week I pulled it out, selected a palette of embroidery flosses and got caught up.  Sunday we added a new section of memories and had fun looking back at what we wrote in 2014.
For our gathering, I made a ham dinner.  For dessert, I thought about making a lamb cake, but since the lamb mold is somewhere in storage limbo, I decided to try a rum cake instead.  I wanted it to be from scratch, and so I used this recipe for the vanilla pudding mix.  It turned out moist and delicious, and I'm enjoying the leftovers with a cup of tea.

This week I've pulled out the patchwork I pieced for the baby quilt, made a quilt sandwich with cotton batting and a blue & white dotted flannel backing, basted with pins, and started to quilt.
After going back and forth as to whether I should machine or hand quilt, I decided to hand quilt using perle cotton.  The larger stitches are going fairly quick, and I'm really enjoying that time in the evening when I can sit down and stitch away.

Some new bags for the Shop are also coming together; the latest
is this striped shoulder bag using an Indian-style striped blanket and recycled belts.

For today, a flour sack tote is in the back to work,


Friday, March 27, 2015

an update from this week...

I have {another} new houseplant--a spider plant--which loves the light from the front window in my workroom.  Surrounding myself with plants is becoming a new Spring ritual that cheers me up when it's still too cold/wet/snowy to get outside and do any real gardening. In the sunroom I've added a split leaf philodendron, and a Hirt's Fiddleleaf Fig Tree - Ficus - Great Indoor Tree - 4" Pot/Decorative Cover* that I ordered online--it arrived in the frigid month of February, miraculously lived to tell about it, and, so far, appears quite healthy.
A couple projects that I've finished this winter are the drawstring dress 3C, made as a tunic, from Interweave Press Simple Modern Sewing* and the Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf.  The tunic is sewn from a somewhat sheer linen-weave fabric that I had on hand; I think it will be great for summer over a tank top or camisole.  The scarf is crocheted with an indigo heather, baby alpaca yarn from mooglyblog's pattern--it will be the perfect scarf for Spring.  More information is available on my Ravelry page here.  There are also new bags in progress for the shop--a new-style lined leather bag and another Indian stripe blanket tote.
The muffins pictured are from a new-to-me recipe, flourless peanut butter chocolate chip mini blender muffins.  I double the recipe and make a dozen regular size muffins, which I bake for about 13 - 15 minutes.  They are a new favorite around here...delicious!
A visit to the library this week was especially worthwhile--the Birds, Insects, and Outdoor Cookbook were found on the sale shelves. I could not resist the illustrations on that cookbook cover!  The rest are borrowed, and I will be reading up on quilting and house building--a perfect way to spend a cold weekend.  Hope yours is a good one,


*contains affiliate links

Monday, March 16, 2015

getting away...

After enduring the cold and snow that was the month of February, it was heavenly to recently spend some time in Palm Beach with my sister & brother-in-law.  We planned a similar trip last winter, but our flights were cancelled due to weather, causing great disappointment. What are the chances that our flight would again be cancelled this year, due to weather?!...yes, it happened.  But this time, we were able to fly out the next morning thanks to a Jet Blue employee who went out of her way to get us all booked together on the next soonest flight.
We walked the beach, soaked up some sun by the pool, did a little shopping, and took a few nature walks where we sighted some amazing birds.  We quite hated to pack up and leave at the end of our stay,
but have come home recharged and happy to see that some signs of spring have finally arrived here at home.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

cooking & crafting...

Cooking and crafting, that's how I am managing to get through our 'long, cold winter'.  It's been over a month since we were above freezing.  Many days, in fact, have begun at below 0 degrees F or in the single digits; wind chills of -20 or -30; snow, snow, and more snow.  On a bright note, I saw two flocks of Canadian geese fly over today while I was walking the dogs--maybe they know something about a sudden thaw...?

Before Ash Wednesday I made up a batch of Paczki, which are a traditional Polish pastry.  I used this recipe, and although it was my first try, they didn't come out too badly.  Keeping the oil at a constant temperature was a challenge, and quite a few ended up a little burnt--we did suffer and eat them anyway, filled with cherry filling and glazed.

When we moved, I realized just how many fabric scraps I have accumulated over the years.  I was considering donating them, but then decided it was just time to start quilting.  Looking through Pinterest has been fun and I am filled with ideas, which you can see on my sewing board.  Thanks to Leila's recommendation, I am reading The quilters: Women and domestic art, which 'chronicles the lives and quilts of pioneer women of Texas and New Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century.' It is a wonderful look into the part that quilting played in their lives.  I think it would be almost impossible to read this book and not be inspired to quilt something. It has been added to my list of favorite reads.

So, I am now working on a crib quilt--my first really-from-scratch quilt, as the only others I've made were a 'cheater' quilt and one from a pre-cut kit long ago.  I am using this tutorial for improvisational quilt blocks using scraps of fabric.  It is amazing how fast these came together! I now have the top done, need to come up with a backing fabric, and am trying to decide whether to quilt by hand or machine--by hand would be nice, though I am not sure how long that may take me.  

I received a new order of leather, which I would like to use for some totes.  I've sewed one up and am excited to test it out for myself; if all goes well, maybe some can be added to the shop. Sewing with leather has been a real learning experience, and I continue to try and perfect my methods; my motivation--I just love leather bags!

Hope you are keeping warm, or maybe even enjoying Spring,


Monday, February 16, 2015

trying to keep warm...

The temperature outside, when we woke up this morning, was -10F...and we were on the warm side as some of the Southtowns were closer to -30F.  Add in a little wind, and well, it's a bit colder than what we usually have to deal with around here.  Of course it would have to be record cold, right?, since this is the first year in 20+ that we've not had the warmth of a woodstove to enjoy...but now I've found a way to keep myself cozy ~ the cable comfort throw. I used Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn in Oatmeal and am very pleased with it--it's cuddly-soft and warm.  More details may be found on my Ravelry page here.

Monday, February 09, 2015

cabin fever & a shop update

The world is cold and white here.  Out the sunroom windows a row of icicles dangle from the edge of the roof, and outdoors the snow has been getting deeper and deeper.  The sun rarely peeks out, but when it does it's cause for celebration...a glimpse of blue sky is instantly cheering.  Everyone, even the dogs, have begun to have cabin fever.  
I've been perusing the seed catalogs and have ordered some mara des bois strawberry plants and a few Heritage raspberry plants to plant on the new property.  There is no garden area as yet, so I will have to get some raised beds ready before they arrive sometime in April.
The house plan has been changed due to cost factors; disappointing, but we have come up with a new plan and will be sitting down with the architect tomorrow to finalize the details and changes.  This plan will have a walk-through pantry, which I am really excited about.  Everything should still be ready in time to break ground come Spring.
For now I'm concentrating on sewing, knitting, and finishing up projects. Some totes and pouches have been added to the shop, and I still have some more items I need to list.  I'm hoping that if I keep really busy, maybe Spring will come that much faster...

Friday, January 30, 2015

a slouchy, daisy stitch hat

After Christmas I decided to knit myself a hat--it's one of the hand knits that I don't have many of, and this being an extremely cold winter of daily dog-walking, a really warm hat is most welcome.  I had taken advantage of the Knit Picks sale and bought some Andean Treasure Baby Alpaca in several colors.  The hat is the Hinagiku Hat by 87cafe, and it is done in a daisy stitch which I love.  The yarn is wonderfully soft...more details can be found on my Ravelry page here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

a rush seat for the rocking chair

After over a year and a half in limbo, I finally dragged this rocker downstairs last weekend determined to get the rush seat finished.
I used up the first roll of fiber rush and had to start on another roll I had on hand--wouldn't you know they were not quite the same, so if you look closely you can see the difference.  I decided not to worry about it and to just enjoy the fact that the rocker now has a sturdy seat on which I can sit and rock, and that I can cross this off my long list of projects in progress. 

Besides, I already have a wonderful punch needle pattern I've started for a seat cushion...there's no end to my starting of projects, I'm afraid.


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