Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Nothing like being the goddess of the last minute. Hubby's kids' families are having their Christmas this weekend. On that side we do what is called a "Make & Take". The rule is that the gift should be at least 75% homemade.

This year I drew another son-in-law. I love my boys. (insert sappy mom wistful look here) The guy I drew is not a quilt kind of guy, so this year I cheated a bit. I made him a little something, bought some little gifts to open, and sent him on a treasure hunt for his big gift, an air compressor for his garage shop. He's picking that up today. (He's so excited)

He's big bad into cars... Hondas to be exact. And this guy loves his white Honda wagon. Enter social media. I saw a photo of his wagon on Facebook and decided to make a mug rug of it. The piece is signed, labeled and on it's way to TN for the big day. I did some improv play with insertion. I admit, it got a tad wonky, but that's okay. It's improv! I printed the car photo on some fabric, and I also managed to find a good asian fabric scrap. How lucky is that???? The blue asian is also the backing.

I know he'll love it.

I've got one more handmade item to go. I sent the big portion of my Reddit Secret Santa gift to my giftee and his family. And I need to finish my handmade piece. While staying anonymous, I've managed to email him and get a graphic from one of his you tube videos. (I'm sneaky like that!) He'll be getting a mug rug too!

It's a mug rug Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Creating in the Kitchen: It all comes out in the end

Today's lesson is from the ktichen. I was so excited about dinner tonight. I had some chicken and pork thawed out, so I was planning on making some Filipino Adobo for dinner. I got everything going in the pan and it's smelling wonderful. Life is good. the adobo is just simmering along, rice is made, and I have some time on my hands...

Then I grabbed my iPad and decided to play more of my current class. Bad move. Time flies by and dinner burns. Uh oh!

And for the record, I haven't burned a dinner in years!

Ok, so I have vegetables chopped for a quick stir-fry to go along with the adobo. The rice is ready, but no main meat course. What do I do? I look at my ingredients -- carrot, green and red bell peppers, and onion. Boom! Idea lands on my brain-- sweet and sour something. After all, I already got the vinegar out for the adobo. I have pineapple in the pantry... Ooh, Spam (lower sodium version of course)! 15 minutes later we're having sweet and sour spam! Yesirree!

Ya know what? It wasn't that bad! Proof positive that with a little bit of ingenuity, it all comes out in the end. Next up to try, Spam fried rice. I bet that's really good!

Don't dis my Spam. It's good in a pinch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Creating in the Kitchen -- Libby's Icebox Rolls

Good morning!

Today I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Just want to take it easy today. Got a chest cough that needs to be nipped in the bud. No siree. I don't want this to get out of hand. So it's lots of fluids and taking it (somewhat) easy. And maybe some sappy Christmas movies or two. Yup, I've already got one under my belt already. LOL!

I got up really early this morning. It's going to be a loooooooong day!

Yesterday I made a pot of ham and pinto bean soup. And what goes better with that soup than some wonderful yummy rolls? So I dragged out my favorite recipe. It's a family recipe. Libby was a wonderful lady -- full of spunk and smiles. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has.
Libby's Icebox Rolls
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cold water
1 beaten egg
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream Crisco and sugar. Dissolve yeast in cold water in small cup/bowl. Add hot water to creamed mixture, stirring quickly. Add cold water/yeast mixture to creamed shortening. Add egg, flour and salt. Mix and place in covered bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Knead dough well before shaping rolls. Brush shaped rolls with butter. Let rise about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes or so.
I think I'll be cranking up a double recipe. One to eat, one for the freezer.  :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

More learning stuff

I've discovered more learning stuff about my machine. I gotta say that technology is a wonderful thing! Here are two more videos I found for the Ellissimo and Quattro:

And this cool thing...

Some generic repair troubleshooting videos (love it from the repair professional's point of view):

I also invested in some workbooks for EQ. I'm bound and determined to hit next year's goal head on... Rumor has it there may be an EQ study group coming in our guild.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Machine Play -- Learning Sources

This weekend I spent some time strolling the web looking for videos and tutorials for my Brother Quattro. Well, I'll be dipped --  I found two majorly awesome videos that demonstrate two features of Tim Gunn Quattro.

I found a You-Tube Channel (Brad Martin) that demonstrates the features of the Babylock Elissimo (same machine as my Quattro). He does a outstanding job with his videos. If you own the newer models, I highly suggest his videos, too. He has several for the Destiny/Dream Machine model. He even demystifies some digitizing software programs. It's all good stuff! I promise!

I learned how to edge stitch using my machine's on-board camera. And that, my friends, is really, really, snazzy. Curved or straight. I don't even need to hold the fabric. Just press the button and it does it all for me. I think that's cool. But then, I'm kinda lazy like that. Hahahaa!

The other was how to use the digital sketchpad to create digitized machine embroidery designs. I still need to play with this function a bit to fine tune my skills, but it is suh-weet! I can halfway draw, so this increases my ability to digitize my work. When my grandkids visit, they can draw pictures and we can make them on my machine just for mommy! Okay maybe not that, but just think of the possibilities...

I love this one where little 4-year old Meadow operates the machine. Isn't she adorable? And, yes, it's really that easy.

Speaking of learning, I took advantage of Craftsy's sale over the weekend and bought two more classes. I bought one on hand-quilting and another one on free-motion quilting. I'm up to 30 classes on this platform. I will be adding another few that are free. If you've never used this site, you will LOVE it. They have everything from woodworking to sewing to cooking.

To be honest, online/video classes are the best learning platform for me. I get really discombobulated in traditional real-time classes. I find I learn best through straight observation. Sometimes that wigs teachers out. They think I'm stuck, that I'm bored,  or not getting my money's worth when I'm not actively sewing. But I promise, my mind is actively processing what I see  around me and taking it all in. Only after that do I really apply what I learned through practical activity. It's just gotta click in my brain first.

I like ability I can see the whole video class in my jammies and come back to it next week (probably still in my jammies! LOL!). Then I can download the materials and keep them on file, and refer back as long as Craftsy is in business. I can email the instructor with questions and get personalized answers. (not a paid endorsement or anything, just my humble opinion -- I'm just a Craftsy fan!). Plus I like the fact that they make big name instructors accessible for us regular folks.

I'm getting ready for our big guild meeting this week. It's our guild's Christmas party. I'm the bingo caller for the meeting, so I better not lose my voice between now and then. I found my reindeer ears. It's my second to last official day on duty as a chairperson. The following week I have a committee meeting and then I'm done with the exception of cheering our new chairperson on.  Yay! I put myself on an imposed term limit to keep things fresh. That, plus the fact that I'm always over-committing myself. I set this boundary to avoid that.

Not a whole lot of sewing is going on. I plan on getting some done this week, as I go to my regular Tuesday sew day with the ladies (I'm bringing hand work). I might attend the guild open sew days on Friday and Saturday. It just depends on what hubby wants to do.

A week from today I find out if I have to have foot surgery. Looking forward to knowing the answer. To be honest, I hate the uncertainty. I've just been planning things assuming I'll be down for the count. I'll be very surprised if I don't have to do it.

Thanksgiving was a quiet affair at our house. We mainly stayed home with the exception of yesterday, when we took a trip north to Vancouver, BC to pick up some meds and makeup. (You can read about that trip here).

Today I got my Reddit Secret Santa match. I follow the Quilting Subreddit (Reddit is like a giant message board). The Secret Santa encompasses all the Reddit users (subjects or "subreddits" range from gaming to just about anything). My Santa match is a married young man, about 20-25 from Northern California. He's a video blogger on You Tube, a computer gamer, voice actor, and cat owner. He's a computer geek, but funny (in a crazy sort of way). I watched a couple of his you tube videos. I need to consult with a friend and one of my son-in-laws on what to get for him/his wife/kitties for Christmas. I did see that he's a Dr. Who fan. I might make him a Tardis mug rug to go with all his goodies. I've never done this, so I'm excited to play. Hell, it keeps me young. Not many 50+ grandmothers use Reddit. That makes me hip... or a geek, maybe. Right? Reddit suit the irreverent part of me. LOL!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quick Book Review: Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman

I am always looking for a good block reference book. You know what I mean, A book that has cutting/construction directions for a kajillion blocks. Not necessarily a quilt pattern book, but a block reference guide.

I picked up Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman the other day at the local quilt shop I was taking a class from. And finally getting around to looking it over, I'm extremely impressed by it! I was not asked by anyone to review this book. I paid the quilt shop asking price for this book. And I think it's worth every penny!

This book contains 75 modern blocks designed by Elizabeth. Count 'em... 75 blocks! That's so cool! She provides cutting instructions, piecing instructions, templates, and even some quilt designs for setting the blocks.

Sorry, I put that rotary cutter there on purpose, as this is copyrighted info. 

The layout of the book is completely intuitive and logical. The first section goes over the cutting and piecing of the blocks. With each block, you see a finished block design as well as alternative color arrangements.

This is for another block in the book.

The cutting table instructions are clear and concise. Elizabeth tells you exactly what you need to make the pictured layout.

Look at that luscious color!

Once you have your blocks made, you can refer to the section with setting suggestions. Elizabeth offers several really cool layouts, each with their own unique focus. Large quilts, small quilts. I can see taking off from here and just creating a mod podge of blocks using a design wall.

Last, but definitely not least, there is a tear-out template section for you to trace your templates onto freezer paper. Elizabeth provides explicit instruction on adding seam allowances and sewing guidelines (especially for y-seams). No stone is left unturned.

I give this book two thumbs up. The modern blocks are bold and graphic. You choose the fabric and the color placement to create the effect YOU want.

I hesitate to call this a quilt book.  It is more of a block reference guide. An essential one for every modern quilter. There are so many jumping off points you can take with these blocks. The possibilities go above and beyond her suggestions. I can see scaling some of the blocks to a larger size and working with the shapes and how they mesh.

The hallmark of a really good book is that it is packed with information, allows room for the reader's creativity, and serves as an inspirational jump-off point. Frankly, Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman is one of the best books I've seen in years. It's a new classic and must-have for every modern quilter!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Day with Victoria Findlay Wolfe

Victoria and I (I'm the cheesy one on the left)

I have a new friend who organizes big-name quilters for classes. I laughingly call her my quilt class pimp. She rocks. Stephanie has an awesome knack for arranging the best teachers and best classes. That and she just makes us all feel so welcome and loved. I love her for that. As one who knows what goes into event-planning, I know what hard work it is. Stephanie is awesome with a capital A!

When I heard she arranged a day with Victoria Findlay Wolfe, author of the books, 15 Minutes of Play and the soon-to-be released Double Wedding Ring Quilts - Traditions Made Modern, I was like a five year old waiting for a birthday party. Yes, that excited. When I started quilting she was one of the bloggers I followed. I always wanted to meet her. And yes, she's one of my quilt heroes.

Spending the day with her yesterday was a thrill and a half. I was so incredibly geeked out. I love her sense of play, whimsy, and style. And yes, she is sweet, warm, friendly, and funny in person! Just buckets of personality!

And as you know, my focus this past year was learning improvisational techniques. This was the perfect way to cap off my classes this year. Absolutely perfect! If you ever have a chance to hear her speak or are lucky enough to take a class, please do. Her positive energy and enthusiasm is genuine. And she is one awesome teacher.

We tackled several subjects in class.

  • How to create made fabric using bits, pieces, and scraps
  • Using shape and color to your advantage
  • Tackling Y-seams (above photos)
  • And dealing with the dreaded curves (the bane of my existence)

The main takeaway I got was taking a block and working with it in a series. Change an element or two at a time and build that series into a quilt. Her lessons all came together to me when I listened to her talk on the creative process behind the double wedding ring quilt that won best of show at Quilt Con. Seeing that quilt go from concept to finished product and the steps in between, gave me a new understanding of how to interpret tradition and make it modern.

This was a big huge day! And like I said, it was the perfect way to cap off my year of improv! Big huge thanks to Stephanie and Victoria for creating such a wonderful, inspiring day!