Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's November!?

How did this happen?

The adults around here were down for 10 days with a bad and somewhat strange two-wave cold. One of us had a man cold. Which, of course, meant I had more to do and couldn't rest at all.

I did a little bit of quilting on the never-ending Halloween quilt (not finished, again). This week, though I made this for my older son's class Winter Market. They (er...we) are raising money for Science Camp in March.

It's just a small baby blanket made from 2 chunky mystery yarns that I got last summer when Stitches was having their closing sale. I used a simple granny until I ran out of yarn, basically.

Next up? Ten small handmade items for younger son's Winter Faire kids' market. And more for older son's Winter Market. And for younger son's Winter Faire Crafter's Booth.  And I must finish my nephew's baby afghan before Christmas, when we will be seeing him.

I have been itchy to get at the sewing machine, but not sure that will be happening soon!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival

My entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2010 is actually the first quilt I ever finished. Not the first one I started, not the first one I cut and pieced, not the first one I started quilting. But the first one I actually finished. (OK—I had made a quilted pillow before. Does that count? It was about a 12" block, with no binding. So I say no, it doesn't count.)

Finished in August 2006, this is Zachary's quilt.

Yes, I look at it now and cringe. There are so many things I would do differently. But Zachary loved it, as did his mom, who has a tendency to buy pieced blocks at thrift stores and frame them.

So, the story behind this. I wanted to make a quilt for the baby because his mom loves quilts. Choosing the fabric was another story. It had to be OK for a boy or girl. And I really wanted to find some animal prints. Zachary has an older brother and sister. His brother is autistic—but quite high-functioning. But there was a lot of stress about how big brother (who was about 7 at the time) would accept the new baby, as change is very hard for him.

Big brother loves animals. Loves them. And can tell you all about them. Everything I know about bullfrogs I learned from this boy. So I thought maybe an animal quilt would give the new baby something that big brother could discuss. But a babyish print would be good, so that it clearly belonged to the baby.

Like a true beginner, I chose my pattern before I chose the fabric. Which was not a great idea. But it had lots of squares. Big squares! I did a simple diagonal quilting pattern, as well as some square outlines and straight lines.

All in all it worked well. I finished it, after all. In a timely fashion! The whole family loved it. And I realized that making a baby quilt is much much faster than crocheting a baby afghan.

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crazy Busy!

The last 2 weeks of October are pure insanity. Every year. But this year...

• My parents came to visit for 5 days. They do not like to (or want to) do anything other than tell me I am too busy. My dad did help me vacuum, moving things out of the way! Unfortunately, he could not get my mom to move her feet. Lots of extra cleaning and cooking for me--and my mom hates it when I am the computer. Even when I am looking up info for her. Really!
• Field trips for both boys. Different days. Requiring prepping of different lunches, docent "donation", etc etc.
• The putting together of costumes!
• Helping a class of 2nd graders carve pumpkins!
• Ticket selling (and organizational meetings) for 5th grader's school pumpkin patch/fall festival.
• Pack full moon hike.
• Pack Halloween party.
• Both boys' school picture days. Different days, of course.
• Galaxy game with little guy's soccer team! They got to march around the field too.
• Friend's Halloween party.

Are we done yet? I haven't touched my sewing machine in two weeks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a simple pillow

So T-Bone (11) has long loved having two pillows--since he had a horrible cold at age, I don't know, three?

He had "borrowed" a couch pillow for his second pillow. An old, feather-filled, somewhat pokey, not-machine-washable couch pillow.

I decided to get rid of all those pillows when we got rid of the couches they matched. Freecycle girl took some, the rest went on top of the trash can and someone took them.

I finally made a cover for the new borrowed couch pillow last weekend.

See that fabric? Yeah, he likes it. Even if he won't show his face ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have never liked radishes. Too spicy in a way completely different from chiles. Too...dirt-tasting. Too..crunchy in a way that isn't entirely crunchy, if you know what I mean. Yet so easy to grow!

Today's harvest--(not so) Petit Dejeuner from Renee's Garden

Last winter our CSA boxes came with plenty of radishes. I needed to do something!

So I took a little tour through The Joy of Cooking. If you read about radishes, it tells you they can be used in turnip recipes. If you read about turnips, it tells you they can be used in potato recipes.

Scalloped radishes?

Oh. My. Goodness. The spiciness is toned down to a magnificent onioniness--without onion. The dirt taste is gone, the not-quite-crunchy enough texture fully softened by parboiling and baking.

And there are four different types of dairy product! What's not to love? (Unless you are a boy, I guess, since they won't even try it.)

For tonight's potluck.

Perfect for a potluck, since two of us can finish off an entire 8" pan. And with all that dairy goodness, that isn't really necessary.

Friday, October 15, 2010

this moment

Extraordinary? Definitely memorable.

This moment, as inspired by SouleMama. A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


After my monthly trip down to the San Pedro scout shop I decided to reward myself with a trip to my favorite fabric store. It was on the way home. Really. Kind of.

I was greeted with this:

In spite of having exactly 2 hours to shop, wait in line, get home to get organized, and get the boys, I managed to buy this:

A lot of brown and orange. Two colors I rarely use. I love love love that bird fabric! I see a bag of some sort. The pink/red/black is intended for the outside of the Everything Bag from Weekend Sewing. I want to do some sort of wonky block with the orange/brown on the upper right. (I love those fruit trees! Love them.) The bottom selection--I'm not sure yet.

Now I need to get back there. I need to go with a plan. And to think I really just wanted to see Innocent Crush to wrap my brain around it before buying any. Needless to say, they don't have it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

pineapple guava jam

4.5 pounds peeled and sliced pineapple guavas
7 cups sugar
2 slices of beet (for color)

Yield: 7 8-oz jars, 1 12-oz jar, 1 half jar

I friend's tree has been super productive this year, so she gave me a bag. I don't really think the color of plain pineapple guava would make a very appealing jam, so I added 2 slices of beet, hoping to make it pinker. Perhaps a half slice would have been a better idea.

I am pretty sure I need a new candy thermometer. I think that trip mine took through the dishwasher has rendered it about 5° low. Between the fig jam and this... yeah. On the upside, I think I may not even need the thermometer any more, I think I can tell when the texture changes. But I don't think I trust myself!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

yup, it's fall

It might have been 80 degrees today, but it's definitely fall.

The white-crowned sparrows are back!

Tonight after dinner the boys were riding bikes out front, and I got to listen to the white-crowned sparrow chorus from the back. I just love their song.

I guess it's time to start listening for the Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

the Strapping Bag is done

And oh was it frustrating. But it is cute. (Please ignore the ugly backyard. )

This pattern is from Small Stash Sewing. I used Nicey Jane scraps I had left over from an apron I made last summer, and corduroy left over from the pencil holder I made last month. The button came from my late grandmother's stash. Even the interfacing I already had--WOO-HOO!

So, the frustrations...different illustrations show the corduroy nap going in different directions. The 3.25 x 18" pieces for the lining gusset leave you with about 3" on each side to cut off. The lining gusset is larger than the outer gusset. But the best is the cutting for the handle: first you cut 6 18" strips (that's 108 inches). These are cut apart into 3 to 6" segments and sewn together--and then you cut a 56" length for the actual strap.

Giant leftover piece.
Yes, I had over 30" left over! I cut apart all my Nicey Jane for this?!?

I added the closure and button. Since I had that big old leftover piece, I took some of it back apart (hellooooo seam ripper). One piece was buttonhole practice, the other was the real thing. It came out quite nicely (Nicey?).

So, my strap/purse body intersection is nothing like the picture in the book, but it does match the written directions. Whatever.

This was my favorite pattern in the book, which will be going back to the library next week.

I need to make another bag or two, and then I need to work on my own dream bag pattern. The ideas are almost overwhelming.

Trying to get a good picture....
Think anyone will notice when I wear it out tonight?

Friday, October 8, 2010

this moment

This moment, as inspired by SouleMama. A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Argghhhh the purse

There it is! Lining on the left, outside/strap on the right.

The lining is larger than the outside. Nice. I am also wondering what happens to the 2-3 feet of strap that I put together and then cut off?

Yet I keep plodding along. It will be really cute if it comes together!

And yes...5 days into blogtoberfest and I missed a day! I realized this morning I was so busy yesterday I didn't even open google reader!

Monday, October 4, 2010


The feeling you get when you find, amongst your stash, the exact number of fabrics a pattern calls for--even the iron-on craft-weight interfacing. And then as you begin sewing, you find that 1) you actually need more fabric and 2) the writing is not intuitive (aka just plain wrong) and 3) the drawings change the nap direction in each picture.

So, my awesome new purse is not done.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

farm CSA day

Another day with no crafting--but it was CSA day at our farm!

Added bonus: our CSA is a school fundraiser, and the farm has regular tours (strawberry, watermelon, pumpkin patch, depending on the season).

Rather than get any crafting in, we ate farm-grown organic produce. This is just a sampling, but boy those squash were yum-my.

The boys rode kid atvs, and these awesome pedal cars. T-bone was the first kid of the season (which started...yesterday) who didn't need a single push on the course. He was pleased.

We took the tractor ride to the pumpkin canyon, fed the boys giant shaved ices, and--of course--picked pumpkins! E-man picked his own outfit. He almost disappeared among the pumpkins.

A fun day. We love Tanaka Farms. And then for dinner I made cilantro pesto from this week's box.

Fingers crossed that crafting occurs mañana!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

8:15 am

First ones here!

I am a morning person. I love to be up at the crack of dawn. This doesn't often happen--as evidenced by the fact I am writing this at 10:10pm. I'd rather be in bed, but after the boys are in bed, I am usually cleaning up.

Most people can't stand having the first soccer game of the day. Up early, breakfasts to be had, uniform and shin guards and cleats to find and put on. Drive to make. Dew. Putting goals together.

I love it. Dew. Fresh(er) air, all morning-y, if you know what I mean. Empty parking lots. And an empty Marine Park! By 9:30 the place was packed, with 3 games going on, staggered times so lots of comings and goings, lots of tennis being played, siblings riding bikes and kicking balls, joggers and dog walkers, and a hellish parking lot.

I like it early.

And, we had thunder and big raindrops! So much for afternoon plans to go to Santa Ynez canyon for a fall hike. We scouted the ESPN Zone at LA Live for a certain 5th grader's birthday party instead.

Friday, October 1, 2010

this moment

This moment, as inspired by SouleMama. A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Can I do it? Blog every single day of October?

I guess even I will figure out just how boring I may be!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

at 11:45pm last night...

These came out of the oven:

OK, not on one sheet like that.

What are those? This would be 14 dragon breads for my second grader's class. Another family baked some too. Whereas mine look more like mice with an allergy problem, theirs looked like awesome dragons. But my second grader didn't eat his, because it was crunchy when he nibbled its snout. So guess what I am doing tomorrow?! Making more Michaelmas dragon breads!

The good news? It has cooled off a bit. Leave it to me to volunteer to bake the one week of the whole year it is over 90°--only 85° in my kitchen. When the oven is off...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

a productive week!

Not only did I survive both my first pack meeting as advancement coordinator and my first week as fill-in bookkeeper for the school fundraiser CSA—I also started and finished two (count 'em, two) projects.

Without further ado, first we have the Autumn Crocheted Capelet from the Autumn 2010 issue of Rhythm of the Home. This is for my niece Emily's first birthday, and I must get it in the mail this week. Started it Wednesday, finished it Friday—and believe me, no marathon crochet sessions. The yarn? Stash Lion Brand Suede (1 skein) and Bouclé (1.25 skeins) that I had gotten at the 99 Cent Store some time ago. Let me tell you, when I saw that the pattern was in bulky yarn, I got kind of excited.

Next up—can you guess?

That's a roll for Everett's Ferby pencils. He has been requesting one for months. Finding corduroy in a color he liked was the hard part. The flap is to keep them from falling out. There is one extra pocket—there were three, but then I found two pencils under his desk. The best laid plans...! I could get back to the peach/blue quilt top. Or maybe the Halloween quilt top that has been partly quilted for three years. Or maybe I will go shopping to make the ripstop-backed picnic/soccer-watching quilt I want to make. Or a skirt for me? Or a purse? Or...?

Friday, September 24, 2010

this moment

This moment. A Friday ritual. A single photo—no words—capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I won!

Really. I won a $60 credit to csn stores over on the Backyard Farming blog. Thank you thank you! Goody! I am the kind of person who can't win Yahtzee, so I am excited. And--kitchen stuff!

So. What to get.

I am leaning toward the Kitchen Aid mixer attachment set. Which is out of stock. It has the food mill (which I want!), and the sausage attachment (which Pete wants!). It has graters--which I have no idea if I would ever use.

There is an interesting rabbit run--though I am really interested in that hutch. I wonder how much it is? And how easy it would be to convert it into a chicken coop? I think they don't carry the hutch. Bummer! Though probably very pricey. We just need to find something to start building with.

A yoga balance half-ball?

A Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment?

A new camp stove?

A Wii game for the kids? (NO!)

I am a little overwhelmed by the choices.

Or should I just watch awhile and see if they get that attachment set it? I am set to receive an email when they do. I have a couple of months before it expires.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I guess it says something about me that such a small quilt still takes me weeks. But it's done, and didn't get shoved into a WIP pile at any point. This may be a record for me! And--if you can believe it--it is hanging right in the spot (get it?) I designed it for.

This is the end of my pantry cabinet. For years it has had some construction paper stars hanging on it. Everett made them in preschool. He is in second grade now. The stars were faded, curling, and had dropped most of their glitter. Yet they left tape residue on the cabinet.

To hang this quilt, I hand-sewed two small 5/8" plastic rings onto the quilt back. I placed two small 3M decorating clips on the cabinet. And voila--removable quilt hangers!

The back I am not in love with--though I am pretty pleased with my label. I matched its placement to the right hand dot on the front. So the quilting outlines the label as well. Caveat: they didn't perfectly line up!

I am overall pretty pleased with this little quilt. But I am frustrated with one of the fabrics.

The honeycomb print. Look at the right edge--pretty good! Now look at the top and bottom. Looking at this fabric on the bolt and on the ironing board, it looked perfectly straight. It's definitely a little off-grain. But I wonder if it's supposed to have this step-down? It bugs me. And it kind of gives me a headache. But talk about headaches--that dot on the back! Just the picture makes me dizzy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

this moment

this moment, as inspired by SouleMama:
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What was I thinking?!

Yes, I am the new cub scout advancement coordinator. There has not been much crafting happening around here. (And we are out of pears! The horror!)

September is baptism by fire. Year-round pack + resident camp + district day camp + another day camp = gadzillions of belt loops, patches, and pins. And me pulling my hair out. I have spent nearly 15 hours on this this week--most in the last 2 days--not counting the driving involved in going to the San Pedro scout store twice.

One shipment in the mail, one last distribution into proper baggies and bags--and one giant list of special awards for the agenda, and I am done!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mmmmm pie

So Mr 2nd grade came home from school yesterday with:
• a letter from his teacher about all the apple-related activities going on in the classroom
• a recipe for apple pie.

Needless to say, he wanted to make the pie. ASAP. So (as you likely predicted) I made crust, peeled and sliced our selection of overripe apples--and then he came just in time to add the brown sugar and spices.

No, it's not pretty. But it sure is tasty! Surprisingly so, since I managed to use up nearly all of the apples I was planning to make apple butter with.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

around and around

All of the circular quilting today almost had me dizzy. And I'm not done yet.

But I did get in an entire hour today. Some of which was spent contemplating. Contemplating what looks to be a poor choice of backing fabrics (but this will hang on a wall!), and the fact that this very print you are looking at is printed off-grain. And, of course, I didn't figure it out til the entire top was together.

I reserve the right to wait until it is bound to decide what I really think.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Have been aplenty. Or rather, just one. To celebrate big guy's first day at a new school, I came down with the worst cold I have had in years--can we say stress? Two nights with virtually no sleep, confusion, horrific sore throat, sneezing, drippy nose, a sinus headache--the whole nine yards. Three really bad days, 1 bad day.

I have managed to keep the family in clean clothes, packed lunches, and dinner (thanks, honey, for picking up the pizzas last night). The cats are fed, box clean, floors vacuumed, clothes clean.

School meeting attended, pack planning meeting attended, boys to tae kwon do, den meeting, sanitation dept presentation.

That's all she wrote--because that's all she's done!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fabric Tuesday #3

Am I really going to number every Fabric Tuesday title? Because I am fresh out of ideas. Already.

The top is done, and now the back is done! I just need to cut some batting and get quilting. I plan to echo the circles.

It looks like I haven't done much, but there are several new things here for me. I went and got Pigma markers to write on my fabric. I wrote on said fabric. I pieced the back (and I'm not entirely pleased, but it will hang, and it's the back...). I named a quilt! (Get it? Is it obvious I have kids?) I also stacked 2 layers of white for the label, to better block the pattern behind. I should have done this on the front.

Live and learn!

Also, I have done my best to line up the label with the red-print circle on the front. So, when I echo quilt the circles, the label should be echoed as well. Should be :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

the year without a summer

As fall is approaches, I am still waiting for summer. The garden was a near total bust. The green beans died from lack of sun and powdery mildew, after making a few pods and never getting more than 3 inches tall. We got 2 zucchini. The chard plants went to seed after feeding us well for a couple of years (though that was bound to happen).

We decided to put in raised beds this year--right smack in the middle of the yard, to maximize sunlight. What with May gray turning to June gloom and continuing, with few breaks, right through August and into September, the poor plants need access to as much sun as they can get. Even if it is 15 minutes at dinnertime.

Our poor back garden has been abandoned. Why? This is why:

The left tree is a loquat. I love loquats. I don't love the squirrels that sit up top, eat loquats, and throw seeds into my garden. The absentee owners just had it trimmed--in late August. It is due south of the garden, 2 feet from the property line. *sigh*. The monstrosity on the right is another neighbor's coral tree. It is about 3 years overdue for a serious trimming--it also overhangs the fence, which may not be obvious. It blocks all late afternoon/evening sun. Which is about all we've been getting. And if you're not familiar with coral trees, they reseed prolifically. And the seedlings have thorns. It's fabulous! (Note the gloomy sky in the picture :(  ).

So, back to the middle of the yard. One bed down:
One tomato, one anaheim, and planted today: lettuce, radicchio, leeks, scallions, carrots, broccoli, chard, radishes. If October turns out to be our hottest month, we'll get tomatoes. Otherwise, radishes. Kudos to my friends Bill and Venus, who blogs about their fabulous Sacramento garden here. That box design came from that blog. Now we need to do 2 more. Making the box is the easy part. Breaking up the clay soil and digging out the Bermuda grass/weeds--hard, hard work.

Our front yard tomato has now ripened two. (Shhh! I have eaten them right off the plant.) I am hopeful for these guys:

Friday, September 3, 2010

this moment

inspired by soulemama...“{this moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yay! A real use for my scraps!

Yes, I save all my scraps. Big and small.

Somehow I found this tutorial this morning, for fabric sandwich bags. I have seen a few other mentions, but most use velcro. I'm afraid of the "oilcloth" sold at fabric stores--it feels like plastic, not oilcloth. I think it is plastic. Probably the worst kind (me? cynical?). And really, I want machine washable, not wipe cleanable. (Are my kids really bigger slobs than other peoples?)

I don't have a serger, but I love the bags in the tutorial. I'd also like something sturdier--as in, lined.




Yes, those are French seams. I love French seams. I even French-seamed the ends. Because that's how I roll.

I have more fabric in the dryer now. Those cottons I got to make my kids pillowcases with 2 years ago? Now I see sandwich and snack bags.

In other news:
Two down, 18 to go.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fabric Tuesday part deux

Oh these Tuesdays are going to sneak up on me, I can tell.

I did make my husband a pair of jammie shorts with some flannel (featuring maple leaves) I got in Victoria on our road trip. Not too exciting--though I did almost cut them out upside down!

Mostly I have been working on my wall quilt for the end of my kitchen cabinet. It's not done--the front is sewn, the appliques cut out. The arrangement undecided.

Maybe this?

Or this?
I think I am leaning toward the upper placement--but with the red on the bottom as in the second photo. It pops more down there. The fabrics on the right are my main backing, the red stripe will be a band on the back, and the darkest is my binding. I am also thinking of making a circular label for the back, and trying to align it with one of the front circles.

I am planning to machine-applique these, but am stuck on a color! Red will pop, maybe too much? Black will be a bulls-eye. Which leaves white. Zig zag or buttonhole? Maybe hand buttonhole would be easier (for me)? Maybe red hand buttonhole? Maybe I should do a doodle cloth to help me decide.

Monday, August 30, 2010


That's the color peach, not peaches the fruit. *sigh*. I decided get one of these since they were on sale. I admit it--I really like the sample they show on the right. Needless to say, I didn't get that. My "coordinating pack" goes from off-white peach through medium blue to navy and black. With many many girly florals. And some anchors.
The lighter/brighter colors
The darker colors

I thought this was a total bust til I separated the colors as in the pics above. I realized I have some leftovers from a baby quilt. And maybe some blues from oh-so-long-ago when I worked at New York Fabrics. In high school. I am pretty sure New York Fabrics no longer exists. (My location has been a Joann's for eons.) So, leaving the new strips laid out, I stuck some of my stash down on the sides just to see.

Stash coral to red
Stash off white to coral

Stash navys (navies?)
Stash light to medium blues

This looks like I can do something here! A bento box? A simple vertical strip quilt to take advantage of my pre-cut strips (I will be saving those many many selvages too).

Sketches. Yes, I cut some out to twist around.
I don't actually like anything I've thought of yet. Well, the bento box quilt idea I do like. But we'll see. I think this will need to sit in my brain for awhile. Thoughts?

I am leaning toward the off-whites, coral, and red florals, with some (err...all) of the blue/coral florals. Thoughts appreciated!