random goodness

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I’ve been doing a little experimenting with canning and pickling lately thanks to this great book that I found, The New Preserves: Pickles, Jams, and Jellies.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe that I tried out the other day with some fresh cucumbers from our garden:

Alicia’s 24-Hour Chips

1 salad cucumber or three small pickling cucumbers
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. Sugar (optional)

Wash and peel the cucumbers and cut crosswise.
Layer the slices in a suitable container with lid, then fill about halfway up with vinegar. If desired, sprinkle with sugar. Eat in one to three days. Store in refrigerator.

I absolutely love fresh cut tomatoes on pizza…it’s fun having garden and farmer’s market food to depend on in the summer to pull together quick and easy meals like this. The crust recipe is from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

In quilting progress, I was able to arrange the blocks yesterday for the Plain Spoken quilt. Unfortunately, due to a user error on my part, the quilt no longer looks like this. I had stacked the blocks in rows for easy sewing and then inadvertently turned the rows into columns. Luckily, I caught the error of my ways halfway through sewing the top, so I was able to arrange it and cover the mistake without having to use a seam ripper (yay!).

Here’s a finished object that I’ve been working on since Father’s day. It’s Elisa’s Nest Tote from thepurlbee.com. I procrastinated on this way too long because I didn’t have time to sit down and figure out how to do an applied I-cord and I finished up the Kitchener stitch for the handles this afternoon. While I was looking at whipup this afternoon, I noticed a post with a tutorial for a modification for this bag. I have an unfinished yellow version waiting in the wings that I might use to try out the new handle option. The bag was made with size 10.5 needles and turquoise Sugar N Cream yarn. Now I'll have to see if my shoddy craftsmanship holds up with a trip to the farmer's market this weekend! It's looking doubtful!

chain piecing and a quilt block

Monday, July 28, 2008

I just discovered the joy of chain piecing on my last quilt and now I can successfully manage sewing blocks together without wasting thread or time. Why didn't I try this sooner? The only downside of this is that the kitties discovered my pile of sewn fabric while I was away from my sewing and turned it into a temporary bed.  Oh well, I guess it just meant more ironing for me.

My blocks are all sewn together, pressed and trimmed and they're ready to be formed into a quilt top. I'm wasting no time on my month long break from school because I've got lots to accomplish!

And here's my block for Liz for the Common Threads Quilting Bee.

Isn't this chestnut fabric great?!

birthday stuff

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jon and I went to the Shadow Art Fair in Ypsilanti last weekend and came home with these two darling treasures:

Gladys, the Chimean from the morninglorivine

and this adorable mole print from Tugboat Printshop (so ugly it's cute). Jon picked this one out and now we have to find a floating frame for it so that we can hang it up.

And, it was my birthday on Friday. Jon's mom is so great about sending cards for every holiday imaginable...and she always manages to find a card to "son and daughter-in-law." Before seeing all of her cards, I had no idea there were so many cards like this available! It's fun to get happy cards like this every once in a while.

Jon gave me this adorable Miso Soup tote bag that I fell in love with at the japanese bookstore last weekend. It's now home to my embroidery works in progress.

Because it's my "birthday month," I took the liberty of stocking up on a few new treasures for my craft collection...

I'm on an embroidery kick again with these new patterns from Sublime Stitching:

Here's my bird embroidery in progress (everything around here these days is in progress, hence the lack of posting)

And, I bought this stack of Kona Cotton fabric from Pink Chalk Fabrics

and I've got the fabric cut and ready to go for my Plain Spoken Quilt. This is actually the quilt pattern that first inspired my desire to start quilting, so I'm excited to put this one together. It was so easy having all of the colors chosen for me with the fat quarter kit, so I'm all set to go.

I finished my first class for library school on Friday and now I have a month off before I start the fall semester. My crafting to do list is long and I'm hoping to fit everything in before I have to return to using my free time for paper writing!

fun gifts

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My friend, Catherine, just got back from two weeks in Europe and she was so thoughtful to bring me this Marie Claire Idées magazine. She had no idea that I was a fan of the magazine. I guess, she's just such a good friend that we're on the same wavelength!

I would love to make this blanket with embroidered/crocheted flowers. I'll add it to my list and hopefully figure out the diagram instructions soon.

I sent Cami a box of my much neglected scrapbook supplies and she sent me this great package of adorable handmade cards and a set of fat quarters.

I've been staring at this fabric for weeks trying to come up with the perfect project to showcase them. I think I might try a zig zag quilt alternating these fabrics along with a solid complementary color. Thanks, Cami, for this great package!

And, surprise of all surprises, I actually won a drawing giveaway. The one and only time I've ever won something was at a cakewalk back when I was in fourth grade. So, needless to say, I've had an 18 year dry spell! John, of Quilt Dad, did a giveaway in honor of his 50th post and I was one of the winners. I just received the package yesterday and he sent a cute bag that he made that was filled with lots of candy, North Carolina treats, a card and two mix CD's. It was such a fun package to open up at the end of a long work week. Shinji was just as excited to open it as I was (he's a big fan of all things plastic). Thanks John!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Last weekend Kate came to visit and I took her on a little Detroit-a-thon. It was only appropriate after all of the sightseeing she coordinated when Jon and I visited her in Nicaragua in February.

We spent Friday night eating Thai Chicken Pizza (Kate guessed right away that it was a Rachael Ray recipe) and then headed to my old home town of Rochester Hills for a bike ride on the Paint Creek Trail (a 10 mile rail trail from Rochester to Lake Orion, MI).

On Saturday we went to Dearborn, MI to see the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and then visit the Henry Ford Fair Lane Estate. We got free tickets to both of these museums through the Detroit Adventure Pass. If you're in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, be sure to check out these passes from your local library in order to get 2-4 free tickets for tons of museums in the area!

The Rouge Factory is on its first ever two month hiatus from building the Ford F-150. It was so telling of the current economic situation to see this plant completely still except for the tour groups passing through. We did learn a lot about the factory and assembly through short videos at stations around the 1 mile elevated walking path over the plant floor.

The coolest part about the factory was seeing all of the environmental
innovations that they've made to improve energy efficiency and collect
rain water. They have a living roof that is over 10 acres and is filled
with sedum.

And they have solar panels, orchards, windmills and porous parking lots to collect rainwater.

After the plant tour, we visited the Fair Lane Estate. Kate and I now have a much greater appreciation for Henry Ford. He not only invented the first car, he brought things like Kingsford charcoal into the world. His house has many innovations that still aren't available in some homes today like indoor heated swimming pools, central vacumning systems, and central hair drying systems. We were a bit disappointed that the house didn't have original furniture (his grandchildren sold it after Henry and his wife died) and was a bit dilapidated, but overall it was extremely interesting to see all of the inventions throughout his house.

We ended the day with a tour of downtown Detroit - Eastern Market, the Detroit People Mover, the Guardian Building, Belle Isle (that's Canada over there) and Mexican Town.

And I'll leave you all with this parting (overexposed) shot:

Road construction in Michigan!

charm square quilt - check!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Well, I feel a little guilty for staying inside most of the day yesterday to finish this. The weather outside was beautiful, but I had the whole house to myself because Jon was gone backpacking for the weekend. I holed myself up in my sewing room and quilted along while a couple of cheesy movies played in the background.

I set my work down for one minute and look at what happened!

Here's the final quilt:

There are 80 charm squares (5" x 5"), mostly from my scraps along with the remnants of the Moda Summer in the City charm square pack that I used on this quilt. The sashing is 3" (with seam allowance). The final quilt is about 60" x 70" or a generous lap quilt size. I'm not sure where the binding fabric came from, but it's a generic pin point orange polka dot. The backing is a fabric from Joanns.

I don't know what I did differently this time, but I was so excited to see how much this quilt puckered when I pulled it out of the wash.

Next up, I start working on the guest room quilt with all of the blocks I received from the Common Threads quilt bee.

Melissa's block

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I finally bit the bullet and pulled out the fabric for Melissa's quilt block. Because I went first in the quilting bee for Common Threads, this was my first time experiencing the performance anxiety that goes along with creating blocks for the bee.

Ideas had been stewing in my head for weeks and I sat down to make the block this afternoon and completely changed my plan.

After a quick search for piecing curves and circles, I found this tutorial link. I should have listened to step 3 a bit closer because I now have a little burn on my left ring finger from an iron attack. Don't worry...stuff like this happens to me all the time!

And, after sewing some stripe strips together I pinned the circle to the base and machine appliqued the circle onto the square. I partially used this machine applique tutorial from Elizabeth of Oh Fransson! that was just posted at Sew, Mama, Sew. She makes applique look so easy! I guess I just need more practice!

Here's the completed block. I hope you like it Melissa!

garden progress

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our garden is finally getting to the fun part! Every day we spot a few more blooms and vegetables growing.

So far we've been enjoying the lettuce and bean crops. Up next are the green peppers and zucchini.

And the front garden is starting to fill in. I'm still in search of the perfect red shade/sun plant. Last year the celosia died out from too much sun and this year the impatiens could hardly be called thriving. Do you have any suggestions for me? If worse comes to worse, I will have to go with begonias (don't ask me why, but I've just never really liked these flowers. Although they do look nice in a thick, colorful border).

I can't believe it but I'm just one presentation and three weeks away from ending my first class! The craft projects are piling up around here, so dontcallmebecky should be resuming its craft/quilt blog soon. I'm dying to get my hands on some of these new sublime stitching patterns!

balloon festival

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Every year, Howell, MI hosts the Michigan Challenge Balloon Festival. Every year I have intentions of attending. Every year, I manage to miss out on the fun...But, not this year! My mom, sister, Jon and I made it to the last evening of festivities on Sunday and sat around for two hours waiting for the wind to die down enough for the balloons to launch. We were beginning to worry that they would not take off the ground, but at around 8:30, they gave the okay for a few balloons to launch. All in all, we saw about 10 balloons take off.

Ever since parachute day in gym class in elementary school, I've always wanted to take a balloon ride. One day, I will take a ride in a hot air balloon...one day!

In exciting news, this is a joint post with Jon. Check out his site for the balloon video that he made. And you can see the rest of the photos in this flickr set.

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