Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Could I Forget?

As I was playing in the Sweat Shop tonight, I was sort of thinking about Halloween and how quickly this month has passed, when I suddenly remembered I was supposed to post the latest Comfort & Joy block at some point!  Yikes!  How late WAS I?

Well, I checked my email and found I was supposed to have shown you the block two days ago . . . but the other problem is that I haven't even started it yet.  So I won't be showing you this next block anytime soon, but you certainly CAN check it out over at Anne's blog--she has hers to show and no-blog Sandy's, and there are also links to other participants who I hope had better memories than I did this month.

In case you were wondering what I was playing with in the Sweat Shop . . . well, now that Halloween is here, it's time to think about Christmas.  I'm always drawn to simple, traditional red and white quilts and I don't really have any, so I grabbed the huge pile of red and white half square triangles that were leftover my red and white flying geese blocks I made a couple months back and started trimming.  If my math is correct, I should have about 240 half square triangles from the geese, so I trimmed up the first 48 and laid them out like this:

Then I thought about what I'd want to put in the center, and it occurred to me a white star on a red background might stand out nicely, so then I rotated all of those half square triangles so the red was facing the center, and now it looks like this:

I kind of think a white star on a red background will stand out more than a red star on a white background, which is what I'd have to make with the first lay out--IF I wanted a star center.

With 240 half square triangles altogether and each block needing 48 of them, I'll have enough to make four large blocks with some leftover half square triangles (actually enough to make five blocks, I think but how would I arrange FIVE?).  And I think the best way to do this one is going to be to put all of these half square triangles up on the design wall before sewing them together.  Can you tell this project might take me awhile?  Yep, I can too.

So, tomorrow night--Halloween night--between the Trick-or-Treaters, I'll take down and fold away the stuff that's on my wall now and start putting up 2-1/2" half square triangle blocks.  I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

She Says Catsup, They say Ketchup,

but what I'm really talking about is catch up!  Okay, bad word play, I know, but I like to play with words, so I couldn't let it pass.  I just want to announce that I'm finally caught up with the County Cottages BOM--for about another week, I think.  Here's the October block:

I really like the design of this block with the pumpkins and corn stalk.  Originally I thought I'd want to make my October house orange, but that would have been too much orange with the pumpkins too, so I held back.  I wonder what we'll have for November?  A turkey, perhaps?  Two more blocks and we'll have all of them made for this one.

All of you back east are in my thoughts, and I hope the current storm, Sandy, doesn't do as much damage as they predicted or linger too long.  So far, it's hit just as hard as expected, but it seems the flood waters are already starting to go down, so they're hopeful the worst is over.  If you've been hit by the storm . . . well, you may well have lost power and not be reading this at all, but if you are, hang in there. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Apple Time

In my ongoing effort to catch up with the several block of the month projects I'm behind on, I finished the September Country Cottages block--and September's focus was apples!

How appropriate then that I also visited Apple Hill this weekend!  I've told you about Apple Hill before--it's an area in the foothills near Placerville with a large number of apple orchards and farms that open up to the public, primarily in the fall.  On weekends, may of the farms rent spaces to craft vendors, and visitors travel from apple farm to apple farm, getting outside and enjoying the weather, eating apple desserts and other goodies, and purchasing fresh fruit and veggies as well as bottled and jarred specialty items, like sauces, dressings, olives, pickles, etc.

I picked up my friend Imelda early Saturday morning, and our first stop was High Hill Ranch where we browsed the craft booths, sampled some apple wine, and fought crowds in order to purchase yummy fudge and caramel at the fudge shop next door.

We planned to stop at Grandpa's Cellar next and Boa Vista last, but as we were passing Boa Vista, we spotted a perfect parking spot, so we pulled in.  At Boa Vista we ate BBQ'd tri tip sandwiches and purchased apple cider and dough balls--balls of pie dough already made and ready to roll out.

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and temperatures in the 70s.

We also bought unbaked apple turnovers to bake at home.  I'd love to show them to you, but they're  gone now.  BUT . . . I still have dough balls, so I suppose I could make more!

Our last stop was at Grandpa's Cellar.  Not only do they have a bunch of preserves, syrups, and other goodies, but . . .

they sell a lot of kitchen gadgets, and I'd been looking for a couple things I was able to find there.

I very nearly bought one of these aebleskiver pans.  I had it in my basket, but then I heard Hubby's voice--I swear it sounded like he was right behind me--asking me why I bought one of those things and where I thought I was going to store it.  The problem is that our kitchen space is small, so unless I think I'll use something often, I really have no business buying it and bringing it home.  I hate it when I hear Hubby's voice when he's not even THERE, and I've asked him to please stop it, but he doesn't listen, so I'm sure I'll continue to hear his voice when I least want to.

The other couple of kitchen gadgets I bought are small and have a purpose, so I was okay with them.  No nagging Hubby.

By the time we finished at Grandpa's Cellar, it was after 1 p.m. and the crowds were getting thick.  Traveling by car on one of the main roads was very slow as traffic had backed up and was proceeding at a crawl, so we figured it was time to leave Apple Hill and make a few other stops on the way home at various shops, including a quilt shop and Hobby Lobby.  By the time we pulled up in front of my friend's house, the back seat of the car was filled with bags.  Judging by our loot, yep, I'd say it was a very successful AND fun day!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Little Bites--

Now that I think about it, isn't "Little Bites" the perfect pattern line name for this Halloween time of year?

Tonight I randomly picked a winner, and that winner was lucky number 11--Karen said:

"Kim, I would love to win this pattern. I follow you regularly through my google reader. I'll be sure to check back Sunday. Thanks!"

That's Karen there.  I thought maybe I should "grab" her photo too, in case there were any other Karens who entered--because I only have enough patterns for one Karen and I didn't want any confusion.

Congratulations, Karen!  Please email me your mailing address and I'll get it in the mail to you right away.  Thanks for entering, everyone!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Less Hair or More?

I was watching TV tonight and there was Brad, selling perfume.  Over the years, he's been a strong presence on my To Do list.  For quite some time now, I've thought that if it wasn't for Angelina, it would be me and Brad.  But you know what?  I don't really like the long hair, do you?

It's not that I don't like long hair on men--I DO like it on some men.  But I think I prefer my Brad with shorter hair.

So if anything ever happens with Angelina and Brad realizes he's destined to be with me, first thing I'm going to have to do is cut his hair.

Second thing I'm going to have to do is . . . well, never mind.  Which is your favorite Brad?  To make things easy, because I know you don't like that word verification thing, I've posted a poll in my sidebar so you can weigh in.  That's not to say you can't comment too--you can, of course and I hope you do.  But the poll is an easy option.

And speaking of polls, maybe next week I'll have a new poll, so start thinking:  If Brad Pitt and George Clooney were both running for President of the United States, and neither was affiliated with any political party, who would you vote for?  Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

Friday, October 26, 2012

So Let's Do This . . .

I felt slightly . . . VERY SLIGHTLY . . . more motivated in the Sweat Shop tonight.  I got started a little late though.  I'm not a big baseball fan, but living in northern California and being surrounded by big baseball fans, I couldn't help but watch some of the World Series game while having dinner, and then lingering in the living room with Hubby, watching until the game ended.  Go GIANTS!

So, eventually I made it into the Sweat Shop, but I don't really have anything to show you yet since I spent much of my time looking at stuff and figuring out what I wanted to do next.  I finally settled on the Country Cottages BOM (by Shabby Fabrics)--I last finished August, so I have September and October to catch up on.  And, by the time I turned out the Sweat Shop light, I had the fabrics picked out and had started prep on the September block.  I think my applique finger is just about ready to go back into battle.  So . . . another day or two, and maybe I'll have something to show.

In the meantime, I realized when I was looking through my stuff that I'd never done a giveaway of the Little Bites pattern, Speck.  Remember I made this one?

I still haven't quilted it but I will . . . eventually.  The pattern gives a couple different options for making "X"s or "O"s, and some people, as you may have seen on Sinta's or Sherri's blogs when they had the "parade" at the beginning of October, did a combination of both or made the blocks into table runners and other things--there are lots of options.  And these Little Bites patterns use the new precuts that measure 2-1/2"--if you have some and wondered what to do with them, now you know!  OR, you could do what I did and cut a charm pack into 2-1/2" squares--each 5" charm makes four 2-1/2" small squares.

So, are you interested?  If so, you just need to do two things:  (1) Leave me a comment telling me you'd like to be entered in the drawing and (2) come back here on Sunday to see whose name I picked when I closed the drawing on Saturday night.  Because I won't contact you directly--you have to come back and check.  Silly, I know, but at least I know the people who win my drawings are people who actually VISIT me here and aren't just people searching for random giveaways, right?  It's kind of like "you must be present to win."

If you're interested in these little patterns and don't win mine, or even if you DO win, you might want to check out Carrie Nelson's blog--she's been making up some cute Little Bites pattern projects HERE.  Good inspiration for other things to do with these patterns.  You can also purchase these patterns direct from Carrie Nelson HERE.  [And did you see the link she has in that blog post to a free variation on the Tidbit pattern?  Yep, she's good that way.]  Oh, and you can also buy from her PDF/emailed versions of each of these patterns, so it's just like being in a quilt shop and buying a pattern right then and there, except you don't have to drive anywhere or even comb your hair.  No waiting for the mail unless that's the way you'd prefer to get your patterns.

So, anyway, if you want a chance to win Speck, leave me a comment and tell me you want it.  Thanks for visiting me!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Happened to the Rain?

On Monday, we had a big storm with tornadoes and funnel clouds touching down in the somewhat rural areas surrounding Sacramento.  I didn't walk that morning.  More rain was expected Monday night although it would be dryer on Tuesday.  Again I didn't walk on Tuesday--I didn't even get up early, thinking it would still be rainy.  Nope, clear as a bell.  They also predicted Wednesday would be just as stormy as Monday, so again I didn't get up to walk.  And again, except for a few light sprinkles, we saw no substantial rain on Wednesday.

I mentioned yesterday that I thought I'd give my applique finger a rest and do something other than applique tonight.  It occurred to me that if it was going to be stormy, it might be a nice night to put on my warm jammies and go to bed early with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.  But as it turns out, no rain.  And at 8:30 p.m., it's still about 60 degrees out, which isn't exactly HOT, but I'm not sure it justifies flannel and hot chocolate either.  The mood just doesn't feel quite right.

So I wandered into the Sweat Shop, turned on the TV, and sat there for about ten minutes wondering what I wanted to do.  Nothing.  Blah!  If I was a kid, I'd have been whining to my mom about having nothing to do.  It felt exactly like that.

So I think I WILL go to bed early and read.  And maybe a chocolate chip cookie will feel more "right" than a cup of hot chocolate.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll go to sleep early enough to make getting up and walking in the morning an attractive idea.  I just checked the weather forecast and there's no rain expected--sunny and clear all day (well I should qualify the "sunny" part--it will be sunny after 7:25 a.m. when the sun rises).


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And Another One . . .

I finished another little wallhanging tonight.  This is the OTHER little project I'd done that I offered as a possibility to my daughter, but she chose the pumpkin.  Of course, this one IS Halloween, so its shelf life is considerably shorter--in fact, I guess I'll only be able to enjoy it for about another week before it's packed away for a year.

I'm planning to put this one up at my desk at the office . . . for a few days, at least.  Up until now, I've had a summer-themed wallhanging on my wall, and I keep thinking it's just sooooooo wrong; now I'll be able to replace it.

Again, this was simple enough to finish; I even used the same border fabrics I used on the Wild Child's wallhanging.  It sure feels good to get these two little projects done, finally!

My applique finger has been sore the last couple of days, so I'm not sure what I'll work on next.  Maybe it will feel better tomorrow, or maybe I'll find a piecing project or a quilting project to work on.  Of course, I'll show you whatever I settle on.  "See" you then!

P.S.:  This is a free design from Bird Brain Designs.  You can find it HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

Just before I sat down to write tonight's post, I offered to serve Hubby and myself the last two servings of the pots de creme I made Saturday night.  To Hubby, these little bowls of chocolate heaven are "pudding."  Pudding!  Pudding is something Bill Cosby sells that comes in cardboard boxes, to which you add milk, beat, and refrigerate.  Hubby's clearly a caveman and should not be allowed to enjoy pots de creme.  I think if I make these again, I'm going to make up a batch of pudding for him, and I'll keep the pots de creme for myself.  Pudding!  Sheesh.

Tonight I made this little wallhanging for the Wild Child:

The center applique is something I made last year as a learning project when my friend Imelda taught our stitchery group her method of starch and glue applique.  When the Wild Child was here for Soccer Son's wedding, I asked if she'd like one of two little projects that I had languishing in the Sweat Shop--I told her I could finish it up for her to hang in the standing metal frame I gave her last Christmas.  Of the two projects, this was the one she picked.  I really thought I'd get to it a couple weeks ago, but there were other projects to get done first.  Good thing she picked the project that's more generically "fall" and not Halloween!  So tonight I finally added the borders, quilted it, and bound it--a fairly fast and simple little project.  Tomorrow I'll get it in the mail to her along with all the junk mail that's been accumulating here the last couple weeks.  I'll also send her the newest issue of Food Network magazine--it's their Thanksgiving issue.  Did I tell you Hubby and I are going to spend Thanksgiving up at her place this year?  That's the plan so far, anyway.  I know she and Manager Man are talking about what to cook, so the magazine may be helpful.

Well, I guess I should also mention that I got up this morning, got dressed, and put on my shoes to walk, but when I opened the door, I realized it was raining out.  I'm just NOT that dedicated a walker, so I took my shoes off and fixed myself a cup of coffee instead.  The weather people think it will rain off and on throughout the night tonight but should clear up by the morning commute; I don't think I trust them enough to get up early again on the chance I'll be able to get out and walk, so I'll postpone my morning exercise for the next day or two.  Besides, some of the rural areas around Sacramento saw tornados and funnel clouds today, and I'd hate to get whirled away accidentally just for the sake of exercise, you know?  It's supposed to rain heavy again on Wednesday like it did today so maybe more tornados then, but they say by Thursday the weather should be better.

I guess if I'm not going to be able to walk in the morning, it's a good thing we don't have any more pots de creme.  Or pudding.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Merry, Merry 8

Well, I didn't spend QUITE as much time in the Sweat Shop as I'd planned today.  I think I must have been feeling a bit restless, because every time I'd sit and stitch for 20 minutes, I'd find something I NEEDED to do elsewhere in the house.

I had a set of four orange lanterns I'd been meaning to hang up somewhere for a couple weeks now.  I bought them a year or two ago, and if I remember correctly, they're from Martha Stewart.  However, I needed a couple more AAA batteries as I only had enough to light two of the lanterns; I finally bought the batteries this week.  So that was one thing I stopped stitching to do--I hung them in a corner of my bedroom.

Here's how they look lit up--although in this light, the rest of the room's kind of fuzzy!

Remember those tiny peppers I told you about yesterday?  Here they are:

Around mid-afternoon, I fixed Hubby and me a little appetizer "lunch"--we'd had a late breakfast but wanted something to tide us over until dinner.  Oh, and for some reason, I had an urge earlier in the day to make some spicy pecans so I ended up cooking the peppers and serving them along with a handful of pecans and slices of baquette rubbed with garlic and topped with mozarella, red onion slices, cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves.  Yum!

Cooking always takes longer than you expect, doesn't it?  I think I was side tracked from sewing for several hours just to cook breakfast, our snack/lunch, and dinner!  But I DID get the eighth Merry, Merry Snowmen block done, between doing whatever else the house called me to do.

That means there's just one block left to make--it's getting close now.

We're supposed to get our first big storm of the season tomorrow, and our temperatures have finally cooled down for fall.  That means I also had to pull my warmer winter jammies out of the box stored under the bed.  Someone asked in a comment if I was still walking, and I am, although I stopped for about a week when I had that stomach bug a week or two ago.  It might be a little chilly when I head out to walk tomorrow.  I don't know what time the rains are supposed to come, but I'll walk in the morning if it's not raining, so I'd better get to bed.  Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Spam and Good Food

Sorry I wasn't here if you came by to visit yesterday.  I simply had nothing much to say, really.  In fact, I didn't even get on the computer from the time I left work on Friday until now--nearly midnight on Saturday.  It was a good little break--I guess we all need that now and then, right?

So, I have to tell you--much as I hate it too, I had to put the word verification back on the comments.  When I DID get on the computer tonight, I found something like 15 comments and only 4 of those were legitimate--the rest were spam.  And that's the way it's been going since I took off word verification so I could read what you had to say about the cost of patterns.  It drives me nuts that people have to spoil things and make it harder and harder for you and I to communicate.  If you have a blog, you're probably familiar with spam, but if you don't, maybe you'd be interested to see what kinds of comments are left by the spammers.  Several are of this nature--they sound like they could almost be real, right?

"Τhanκ уou fοr shaгіng уοur info.
I rеаllу appreciаtе уоur effoгts and Ӏ am ωaіting for your
furtheг write uρs thanκ уou οnсe again.
Also visit my web site: ________"

Then there are these types:

get cheap [URL=]cheap gucci bag[/URL] for promotion code MSNQzARe [URL][/URL]

There are a LOT of those.  There are even what appear to be Russian comments:

Сегодня игры в сети становятся все более и более увлекательными, и это неудивительно. Не обязательно растрачивать время на поиск и установку или покупать лицензионный диск с популярной игрой. Намного лучше играть в сетевые игры и быть в курсе популярных новинок мира любителей игр, графики и игровой моды.

That one goes on a few more paragraphs, but probably most of us can't read it anyway, so I didn't copy them here.  Anyway, my mailbox is filled with these types of spam.  Bummer.

On a happier subject, you know, I think, that I've been very interested in shopping at the local farmers' markets, and today I went to the one that sort of got me interested in the first place.  Actually, it was the woman who started organizing the Placer County farmers' markets that got me interested when I saw her speak on a local PBS show and then I bought her cookbook.  Reading what she writes about the food and the recipes made me want to visit the largest of the markets she talks about, so that's what I did today and I found some good stuff--even some foods that I haven't tried before.

One booth specialized in peppers, and I saw a customer scooping up baskets of tiny peppers into a bag.  I came back to that booth a little later and talked with the grower.  These little peppers he was selling are generally mild, and they are cooked in a dry skillet until the skins blister.  After that, they are tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and eaten whole as a snack.  I came away with my own little bag--I think I might try these tomorrow.

On one of the cooking channels, there's a show about cheese, and I've seen an episode twice that, among other cheeses, talks about Humboldt Fog and visits the place where it's made.

At the market, I found a cheese stand and what did they have?  A wedge of Humboldt Fog!  Yes, of course I bought it.  I'm looking forward to trying it soon.

I also bought beets, Asian pears, a pomegranate, a few apples, cippolini onions, tomatillos, a couple varieties of potatoes, and some portabella mushrooms.  And probably more than that, but that's what comes to mind.

I found out awhile back that one of the growers has a store in Newcastle, not far from where the market was held, so I stopped there on the way back, and that was really a great place to shop.  Not only did they have all the organic produce that had been available at the market, but they had a lot more local produce as well as a lot of specialty foods.  I'd been looking at a recipe--in the farmers' market book--for a chicken dish that called for pomegranate seeds as well as pomegranate molassas.  Where in the world would I find pomegranate molassas?  Yep, they had it at that store, so that's what I'll be cooking for our Sunday dinner.  Saturday's dinner was also chicken, but that was roasted with tomatillos, jalapenos, and cippolini onions--it was really yummy!  With it I served a salad and mashed potatoes.  Dessert was homemade chocolate cookies served with chocolate pots de creme.  I didn't take a photo, but they looked like this photo I found on the internet--

Except mine had freshly whipped cream and raspberries on top.  It's not often that I make a dessert like this, of course, but it's nice to splurge occasionally.  Good thing I didn't have very much of an appetite earlier in the day!

Now I think I'll roll myself to bed and sleep in.  My Sunday plans involve a little quality time in the Sweat Shop, and hopefully I'll have a little something to show for it by the end of the day.  See you later, alligator!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Merry Merry August

Tonight I finished the August block for Merry Merry Snowmen--now I just have to make the September and October blocks to get caught up.  And, in fact, I think the October block is the last block, so I'm getting close to the end of this project.  Here's the block I just finished:

I've read with interest your comments about how much you're willing to spend on a pattern.  I have to agree with what many of you said that $20 is about as high as you'll go.  I think I've paid around $24 for a couple Bee in My Bonnet/Lori Holt applique patterns because they're so cute AND because I can envision making them as embroidery projects too . . . not that I've made them yet, though.  But they're waiting for me--I've INVESTED in my future projects, right?

I'm also more willing to splurge on Bunny Hill BOM patterns, as evidenced by Merry, Merry and Autumn House, as well as a couple other BOM patterns that I have kitted up and ready to start on just as soon as I have time.  Most of these patterns cost around $40.  A little more than I normally spend, but I always watch for sales on these.

Another thing I've splurged on and actually considered something of a bargain is when quilt shops do a BOM class based on a $60 pattern and charge $60--so the class is free and you pay for the pattern.  Or maybe the pattern is free and you pay for the class.  Whatever.  Of course, the shop usually makes its profit when we go in and buy fabric since we're THERE anyway.  Still, I've done it a couple times and it works well, especially when I can use my stash fabric to make the project.  That was how I made the Christmas List quilt, and I really LOVE that one.

So, as with everything else in life, there are exceptions.  It's funny now to look back at when I first started quilting.  For several years I bought very few patterns because I knew I could design quilts myself.  Only as time went by did a start buying more patterns, and quite often, I haven't even made the quilts out of those patterns yet.  Doesn't that seem a little backwards, only starting to buy patterns after I'd been quilting for a few years?  Maybe it's because I've learned to appreciate the work others put into their designs.  Or maybe I've gotten lazy.  Who knows?  What really matters, I think, is that I enjoy making what I DO shell out money for . . . and I have.

Last year, in 2011, my focus for the year was to finish UFOs.  In 2012, my focus has been to work on applique block of the month projects.  I don't really know what my focus will be for 2013, but I'm starting to think about it.  Right now, I think it looks like I may have to combine 2011's and 2012's goals into one: FINISHING all of the BOMs that are still in progress!  How about you?  Do you have any specific quilting goals for the rest of 2012 or for 2013?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Cost of Patterns

I wasn't going to write a blog post tonight because I've had a headache all day and thought I'd try to get to bed early, but then I got sidetracked and now I have quilt patterns on my mind--which is much better than a headache, I can tell you that!

Anyway, a few days ago, a quilter wrote to me to ask about a quilt I'd shown on my blog that I had seen at a quilt show--

She also posted the photo to the Quilting Board to see if anyone there recognized the pattern.  That started a bit of a discussion.  You can read it HERE.

I did a little checking and found the pattern was a BOM pattern called Classic Santas by Quakertown Quilts.  It's actually sold in different parts too--the applique blocks, the large pieced blocks, and the small pieced blocks.

I found a kit on Etsy and emailed the link to the woman who emailed me, and I believe she ended up purchasing it--it's a beautiful quilt.  Anyway, in the meantime, some of the quilters on the Quilting Board found the patterns from different sources and started discussing the cost, which could range anywhere from around $50 for just the applique blocks to over $100 for all the patterns.  A couple quilters defended the cost, pointing out that each applique block generates as much pattern writing as a single quilt pattern.  They went on to say that if they really liked a pattern, they'd be willing to pay the higher cost and consider the quilt an heirloom.  On the other hand, some quilters said the cost was still too much and/or that pattern was more involved than what they cared to make anyway.

My feelings are a little in between.  Someone said they look for free BOMs and like them just as well, but I know from a designer standpoint, most of the free BOMs are fairly simple patterns, and they will generate a ton of quilts that all look pretty much the same.  Still, I tend to shy away from paying more than $40 for a pattern, even if I love it.  And yes, even knowing what I know about designing patterns.

One of my favorite BOM-type quilts is this one by Country Faces called Christmas Sampler:

I haven't made it yet, but it's in my pattern "stash."  I DID use the Santa block to make a small wallhanging using wool.  But that's beside the point; what I wanted to mention is that this pattern costs under $10, I believe.  So there ARE quilt patterns out there that designers don't price out of reach even if they've put a lot of time into designing the quilt and writing the patterns; we just need to look for them.

I also have heard of some quilters who pool their money to buy the more expensive patterns and then work on them as a group project or pass them on when they finish their own quilt.  And some quilters will invest in a pattern and then resell it when she/he is done with it, thus recouping some of the money they laid out in the beginning.  I'm pretty sure that's not what the designers hope will happen when they put a high price on a pattern, but I think it's understandable.

Before I say goodnight, I wanted to show you one more Christmas pattern that I think is reasonably priced considering all the work put into designing it.  It's called Santa Pause . . .

and it's designed by Mountain Valley Stitches, the same designer who designed the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt I made several years ago (and have hanging for Halloween)--

No doubt you can see the similarities, right?  Each of the patterns is under $20.  I'd love to make Santa Pause this year to hang for Christmas, but I don't know where I'd find the time.  Still, that's never stopped me before, right?  We'll see.  But what do you think about the cost of patterns?  What are you willing to spend?  (I'll even take the word verification off for a couple days to make it easier for you to comment.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Frosted Pumpkins

When my stitchery friends came over on Saturday, they all wanted to know about the place tag pumpkins at each of their seats, so I thought you might like to know too.  Here you can see mine, with the candy corn ribbon and my name tag.

This is a super simple little craft idea that seems to impress just about everyone.  I took my pumpkin to the office on Monday and put it on my desk--several people have asked about it.  To make these, I started with a bag of real mini pumpkins, although the same application can be done on a large pumpkin to create a Thanksgiving centerpiece.  In order to add a ribbon, chose a pumpkin with a stem.  You can also do this with fall gourds--spilling out of a cornucopia, maybe?

The first step is to paint the outside surface of the pumpkins with clear acrylic gesso.  Although it purports to be clear, it actually dries a little bit more opaque unless it's applied very thinly, but opaque is okay.  I started by painting the bottoms of the pumpkins to a point about a third of the way up the sides.

While the gesso was still wet, I sprinkled the pumpkins with glitter.  Any kind of glitter works fine, but I like the opalescent white type--I think it makes the pumpkins look a bit frosted.  But for a more elegant pumpkin, pick a fine metalic glitter.  Or you could go a little wild with orange glitter!

While the bottoms of the pumpkins dried, I went off and worked on some of the other party preparations.  After about an hour, I returned to repeat the gesso and glitter steps on the tops of the pumpkins.  After they were completely dry, I tied a ribbon to each stem.  For a larger pumpkin, I'd suggest a more elaborate ribbon be added.

So that's it--simple, isn't it?  And cute too!  I hope you try this out and have some fun with it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gingerbread Man Pattern

I had mentioned a few days ago that if I thought the gingerbread men arrangement turned out okay, I'd post the pattern.  Well, I think it's probably worth posting--I know someone asked in a comment about the pattern source--so I'll give you what I can.  Please know ahead of time that these directions are a bit rough and there's plenty of room to add your own creativity.

First, here's what you'll need to make the whole arrangement:

Medium basket (I picked up most of ours from the thrift store)

Foam brick for floral arrangements (can be cut to fit into the basket)

Rocks or other weights to tuck into the basket to keep the center of gravity low

Burlap or moss to cover the foam brick (I bought green burlap at JoAnn's)

Artificial Christmas greenery

Three (3) 1/4" dowel sticks (we cut two long sticks from the hardware store in half and had four; then we trimmed a bit more off for the size we thought looked best--probably around 16" or so

Acrylic paint for sticks (we used green)

Trim:  Ribbons (for gingerbread men and basket), rick rack, buttons, bells, black glass beads for eyes (or make large French knots)

Wool for gingerbread men; regular cotton fabric could be used instead or even felt since these guys won't be washed

Embroidery floss--white and black

Polyester fiberfill

Now, for the rest of the directions:

You can find the pattern for the gingerbread people, vests, and dress HERE.

For the gingerbread man body, trace the pattern onto freezer paper and press the freezer paper pattern onto the fabric you'll use.  You will need to cut two--a front and a back.  You will also need to add a seam allowance all the way around--at least 1/4".

For the vest and dress bodice, follow the same steps, but only add a seam allowance on the sides--they will be sewn into the seams.  (See below for directions on positioning and sewing the clothing.)

Working with the front piece of the gingerbread person, position and stitch all of the embellishments--the rick rack trim on legs and arms (keep in mind the seam allowance when positioning), clothing, eyes, embroidered mouth, buttons, and anything else you wish to add.  We sewed most of these by hand, but many of the trims can be added by machine instead.

When positioning the vest, note that the shoulders of the vest won't go all the way to the shoulders of the "doll"; just position the top of the vest about 1/4" down and center the vest.  Do the same for the gingerbread girl's bodice, but before stitching, add the skirt by running a gathering stitch at the top of the skirt, gathering it slightly, and basting it in place on the "doll" high enough on its body so that the bottom of the bodice will cover the gathering and basting stitches.  When sewing the side seams later, fold the sides of the skirt to the center so they are not caught into the side seams.  Before that step, however, I added some stuffing under the gingerbread girl's bodice by stuffing it into the openings on the sides.

For the eyes of the "dolls," we cut two circles of white wool and tacked them down with the stitches we used to secure the glass beads that are the pupils--no need to sew around the eyes.

Once the details have been added, pin the back to the front of the gingerbread man, right sides together, and begin machine stitching at the top of the gingerbread man's inner thigh--or where it would be if he actually had one.  Leave room in the center of the legs to insert the dowel.  (Believe me, these directions are difficult to write without adding tasteless jokes.  I'm dying.)  Stitch all the way around the gingerbread man, stopping at around the opposite knee--you will need to leave about a 1" opening to turn the gingerbread man right side out.

Before turning, clip the "V"s almost to the stitching line--under the arms, where the arms and head meet, etc.  Turn right side out.  Stuff the gingerbread man with poly fiberfill, using a chopstick or paintbrush handle, for example.  Stuff fairly well but not too tightly.  Hand stitch the remaining opening, but leave a small gap, large enough for the dowel to be inserted.

Push one end of the dowel into the center of the gingerbread man, and push the other end into the covered foam block in the basket.  Repeat with all of the gingerbread men--we like an arrangement of three but you can add more or less.  Arrange artificial greenery in the basket and add additional trim as desired.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Well, I THOUGHT I Was Done . . .

Each month in preparation for my stitchery group's get together, I put together Harrington and Hannah kits for each of my friends.  And USUALLY before we get together, I have my block finished to show the other ladies, especially if I do anything different to mine because sometimes it inspires them to make changes too.  But this month I was behind by the time we gathered; I'd cut out and placed all the pieces, but I hadn't sewn them to the background yet.  Well, I finally did that today--

And you know what?  I thought I was done until I was uploading the photo and realized my Harrington and Hannah are sightless.  Maybe I was still under the influence of Imelda's Lil Orphan Annie gingerbread man with its blank stare, but I think it's more likely I was simply hasty in wanting to get at least one overdue project done.  Now I'll need to get the block out again and give these little guys some eyes.  And what do you think:  Does the worm need an eye too?

Each month, shortly after my stitchery group's get together, the designer of this free BOM, Michelle May, posts the new block, so my group is always three weeks or so behind.  As I finished this block, I was thinking for a few moments that at least I was caught up on ONE BOM project.  But do you know what?  When I looked, I found she's posted the October block now, so I'm not caught up at all!  Darn!  Behind again!

This week, now that several deadlines are over, I'm going to try to get caught up on a few of my delinquent projects.  I'll let you know how I do.  At this point I'm not even sure where to start.  But I guess the next project has already been identified:  Giving the bunnies the gift of sight.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Excellent Day

As so often happens when I get busy creating things with friends, I forgot to take photos.  You really should have seen the table decorated for a Halloween breakfast of chocolate croissants and fruit.  But no.  I didn't think to take a photo until the table was pretty well trashed and we were all deep into creating gingerbread masterpieces.

And I didn't even manage to take photos of everyone's gingerbread men, which were darn cute (except maybe for one of Imelda's that had Lil Orphan Annie eyes--she was resistant to giving it pupils, so it was kind of creepy looking).  By the time I thought about taking photos of the gingerbread guys, everyone had just about packed up for the evening.  But I think everyone finished making at least two of the three gingerbread peeps today.

I DID remember to take a photo of the imporant stuff.

The afternoon break.  Guacamole, chips, and a pomegranate margarita.  I wish every afternoon break could be this tasty.

As always, we certainly ate and drank well and I think everyone had fun.  By the time we wrapped up for the evening--because we were playing on the patio, the sun had gone down, and it was getting too dark to see well--I was working on my third gingerbread person.  Or maybe I should say "girly gingerbread diva."

After everyone left, I adjourned to the Sweat Shop and finished up.  I made this arrangement using the brighter Christmas colors I've decorated my kitchen with these last couple years.  I kind of hate to put it away for now but it's clashing a bit with all the Halloween decorations, so into the closet it will go for a few weeks.  These gingerbread characters kind of look like they could get into mischief, don't they?  Especially the guy on the right.  Santa's probably going to leave coal in his stocking this year, don't you think?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gingerbread Men, The Sequel

The back-and-forth between holidays is a bit dizzying, but no more so than when I went into JoAnn's today and they had two aisles of Halloween followed by two aisles of Christmas.  So at the risk of making your head explode, after showing you Halloween decorations yesterday, I'm going to show you Christmas decorations today, okay?  Remember the gingerbread man peep show I entertained you with the other day?  Well, I just can't wait any longer to show you the outcome.

Cute, eh?  Tomorrow (I'm writing this on Friday night) my stitchery friends are coming over to my home--it's my turn to host our monthly get together--and we're going to make these gingerbread men baskets.  Four of us made the Halloween arrangements when we were on vacation at Pismo Beach--remember these?

We had such a great time making them, we decided to do a Christmas version; thus, the idea for the gingerbread men was born. 

The weather should be beautiful--in the 70s--so we'll be working out on my patio.  I'll try to remember to take photos to show you our progress.  We also decided pomegranate margaritas and guacamole should be part of the plan again--after all, the red of the pomegranate and the green of the guacamole are quite Christmassy, aren't they?  Party on!

Friday, October 12, 2012


I thought it was time for me to show you some of my Halloween decorations.  Of course, many are the same as I've shown in other years, but a few are new or arranged differently and some of you may not have been reading my blog in years past.  In any event, I hope you enjoy the photos.

Tonight I'll show you my living room.  Remember Cacklin' Rose?  She has a new pair of glasses this year and a friendly crow perched on her finger.

Here's another photo of Rose and some of the rest of the room--you can see she's not quite as large as she appears in the first photo.  The lighting in this photo is a little weird, but I was trying to capture the lights in the Halloween tree.

The "picture" on the fireplace is a fabric panel that I framed.  It's just taped around the cardboard insert so I can use it as a panel someday if that's what I decide I want to do.

Remember the Halloween arrangement my friends and I made when we were on vacation?  Mine is on a sofa table near the front door to greet all of our guests.

A few years ago, I made a somewhat two dimensional black cat and named him Archie--because he arches, of course!  I think a blog reader helped name him; or maybe it was someone in one of my quilt classes.  The little quilt in the wagon is a table runner made by a friend from the online Thimbleberries Club I used to belong to--we had a table runner swap one year.  Cute, isn't it?  I love seeing all the things I've collected and treasured over the years because they all seem to have a story!

Here's the witch's wardrobe, with her wig, hat, shoes, and broom.  And a "photo" of her familiar black cat too.  All of her things are stored neatly on top of a book shelf, awaiting her arrival.  I think she's Rose's sister, because they bear a striking resemblance to one another, but I hate to be too inquisitive--she might turn me into a toad!

I think that covers the livingroom--it's really not very large.  I'll show you more in the next day or two.  Glad you could stop by to visit.