Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Day! Quilting a Little Gem

I had an unexpected snow day today and accomplished a lot with the gift of time. Ted and I reorganized my sewing room to accommodate the treasures that my sister-in-law Michelle gave me Friday. I designed and printed the label for Piper Floriana's baby quilt.

When I make a quilt label I prepare fabric with Bubble Jet Set 2000, a liquid that makes regular fabric printable so that the ink doesn't wash out. Then I ironed the prepared fabric to freezer paper cut to fit my color ink-jet printer.

The prepared fabric sheet was 8.5 x 11 inches, and the label was only 4.5 x 3.5 or so, and I didn't want to waste all that space. I found an old image from a 19th century fairy tale book and pulled it into my computer program and printed it alongside the quilt label. I added a couple of borders to enhance the image.

Here is the resulting quilt. This finished gem of a quilt is about 10 x 12 inches, and it's embellished with Swarovski crystals and a variety of decorative threads. Not a bad accomplishment for a snowy afternoon! (and it's snowing yet again as I type this!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Babies Cause Creativity!

One of my recent blog posts included a photo of the cute little hat I knit my new grand-niece Riley Rose. Well, just two days ago I had yet another grand-niece, Piper Floriane --  nephew Adam and niece-in-law Kara's first baby. I started to knit a hat for her, too, but ended up ripping the stitches out three times. There's either something wrong with the pattern, or something wrong with me! (Hmmm, I wonder which it could be!)

If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you know that my wonderful sister-in-law Michelle stopped by yesterday with her SUV loaded with quilting supplies, from entire bolts of batiks to yardage of first-quality quilting fabric, and all sorts of quilting supplies, books, and patterns. (She and my brother are moving to a condo in Florida and she simply hasn't the room to store her enormous stash of quilting treasures! -- I suggested that they buy a second condo just for their hobbies and arts!)

She had one package of fabric all ready to be made into a quilt, including the book containing the pattern. The fabric is called Vintage Alphabet by Michael Miller fabrics, and the pattern is from the book "Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts" by Mary Hickey (page 60 -- and the fabric is identical to the quilt from the book). Click this link to buy the book on Amazon: Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts If you're looking for easy, cute quilts to make in a day or two for that new baby in your life, definitely buy this book! Unfortunately the fabric is discontinued (it was produced in 2002-2003).

Here is my quilt -- it took just several hours to make, including machine quilting --  easily a one-day project. It's about 33 x 33 inches square, perfect for a lap blanket in the stroller.

The fabric is so charming -- I love using the Snowball quilt block to showcase "conversation" prints. And here is the back showing the quilting -- nothing fancy, just functional!

I'm working on a podcast for February -- this time it'll feature a paper project for sure, and maybe a fiber arts project. 

My Big Podcast Project for April is at my sister Patsy's for long-arm quilting. I'm so excited about the April podcast -- it'll feature an original quilt, a moving story, a history lesson, and a song or two, all rolled into one.

My thought for the day: If you're not feeling particularly creative, find someone who has a new baby -- talk about a creative muse! I feel so blessed to have these two little beauties in my life! Riley Rose and Piper Floriane, thanks so much for the inspiration!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Bonus Recipe: Ruthann's Blue Cheese Dressing

I just had to share this fantastic recipe I developed today (after a shortened day of work when our roof caved in!). Unfortunately I ate the salad so fast that I couldn't capture a photo, so you'll just have to imagine it.

The recipe is quick and easy, and is by far the best blue cheese dressing I've ever had. The addition of garlic and cayenne pepper help to even out the sweetness of some homemade blue cheese dressings.

Oh my goodness, I think I need yet a THIRD helping!

If you're worried about fat content, use low-fat mayonnaise and sour cream; you can also use a sugar substitute, such as Splenda. (Although I always use The Real Thing!)

Here it is:

Ruthann's Blue Cheese Dressing
  •        1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
  •        1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  •        1 large clove garlic
  •        ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  •        ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  •        ½ teaspoon table salt
  •        1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •        ½ cup mayonnaise (I make my own mayonnaise)
  •        ½ cup sour cream
  •        ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (I used Maytag)
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until creamy. Thin with a bit of milk if necessary.
Serve over a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with very thin slivers of sweet red onion, pineapple, and more crumbled blue cheese.

I dare you to eat just one helping! YUM!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

And With February Came CREATIVITY!

February is usually my least favorite month of the year, and I've often been thankful that it is the shortest.

Interestingly, this February dawned with a spark of the creative flame I've been missing since June.

Just this week I've completed two quilt tops and a skirt.

Here is the first quilt top, which is called "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," and is dedicated to my Great-great Grandfather, John Emsch, who served and died in the American Civil War. I will offer this quilt pattern and a story (and one or two songs) in my April podcast.

My "little sister" Patsy (who is actually older, but is tinier than I am, hence "little") is quilting both of the tops I completed this week. Her neighbor, Deb, has a longarm machine that she allows Patsy to use -- wouldn't you like a neighbor like that?!?

I haven't taken a photo of the second top I completed yet -- maybe I'll take one before I send it to Patsy. I bought the fabric a year ago and when I was cleaning my sewing room this week I discovered the shopping bag! It was like a little gift! I had forgotten all about it. The fabric is called Folklorica, and was designed by noted children's book illustrator Julie Pachkis. I adored this fabric and couldn't stop myself from buying every fabric in the line. The quilt top I made (my original design) is fairly straightforward, and features the various fabrics. Yes, I promise to take a photo to share! Sadly, the line is no longer available. [Insert sad face!]

Anyway, I wanted to share with everyone that somehow, this bleakest of winter months (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) has sparked just a bit of creativity in my soul!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Baby!

We have a new baby in the family. My beautiful niece Christy Lee just gave birth to Riley Rose. She, husband Nick, and Big Brother Brady are thrilled to have a sweet little princess in the family!

I made Riley Rose a cute little hat using a kit by Debby Ware. The hat I made is called "Scrumptious Squiggle Beanie," although I added different embellishments than the pattern. Click this link to buy the pattern: Scrumptious Squiggle Beanie Pattern

This hat was super easy to make, and I know I'll be making more as gifts (another baby is due SOON!).