Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

These are some of the little things I am thankful for. (And they appear little here, so click on the picture if you want to see them up close.)

But my gratitude seems kind of trivial compared to that of others. For anyone familiar with the story of Christian and Stephanie Nielsen - an Arizona couple seriously injured in a plane crash last summer - go here to see a moving video of gratitude from Stephanie's husband. It will make you weepy. (And it's set to one of my favorite pieces of music ever.)

And for those who haven't heard of them go here for a background. Or to her sister's blog for updates. I have to admit that I didn't know about the Nielsens until after their crash, but have since grown to really admire them and their faith and love for each other and for the Lord.
I am always especially motivated by Stephanie's love of and capacity to find joy in the role of every-day motherhood. She captures it so beautifully.

I am sad that she has to go through such a trial and have her opportunity to just enjoy motherhood taken-away so abruptly (though hopefully for not for long). But in doing so she has reminded thousands (no, tens of thousands) of other women of the gift that it is to just enjoy the simple aspects of raising our children every day. Her sacrifice and example have blessed my life very much over the past months. And I am very Thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doll Quilt by my little amateur photographers

A few weeks ago I found these pictures on the camera. I think my girls were inspired by my own attempts to take pictures of quilts outside and decided to try their own. I thought their finished products were pretty charming.
This is a little doll quilt I made with some left-over blocks after making my second daughter's baby quilt 7 years ago. It's one of the last quilts I hand quilted so, sadly, I don't really let her play with it. My grandchildren are going to see that quilt in it's glory! :) But the doll quilt gets dragged around a lot and is holding up nicely.
My favorite aspect of these pictures is that the girls took the quilt to our neighbors bridge - a place they think is very exotic and my kids' favorite place to play. (Fortunately our neighbors are very accommodating.) My second favorite aspect of these pictures is the nice foot model. lol.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Forever Plaid

This week I have been cutting squares of plaid like crazy. I think I cut over 3000 plaid 6" squares. Whoa.
Last night I finished assembling 27 kits for throw quilts made-up entirely of plaid squares. Each quilt has over 100 different fabrics. Needless to say, I was excited to finish this project. Not that my own plaid projects are done. I'm doing something fun with the scraps from all that cutting. I'll post soon. And I'm making my own "Boyfriend" quilt, so I need to actually sew something. My machine will be so happy to have the dust blown off and gears running again.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


It has been such a beautiful fall here. (Or autumn as they say in the UK. My British friends think it's so funny/weird that we Americans call it "fall." I had no idea that other english-speaking people thought that was strange.) I love this time of year. We've had gorgeous color this year thanks to a cold snap in the middle of September (that sadly killed my tomatoes.) But then we've had some really nice temperatures and time to enjoy being outside again.I'm having mixed emotions about winter coming. Last winter was a REALLY long one here in Utah with lots more snow than we've had for years. It felt to me like it would never end. I'm not looking forward to that again.
But I love when it's cold outside and I feel like I can finally just catch-up on all of my inside stuff. Organizing. Projects. Sewing. Not worrying about yard work. [Or at least not feeling guilty about not doing yard work. :)] But then there's the kids. Not being able to send them outside to just PLAY. Keeping them from going stir-crazy or watching too much TV. Trying not to drive each other crazy. This is the tricky part. Esp those long months between January and March. Ugh.
Isn't this a great picture? My 9-year-old took it in a canyon about 20 minutes from our house. She took the leaves one too! Maybe I should get her to take more of the pictures for this blog.

And finally, here is a cute little piece of recent thriftiness that feels 'fallish.' A fun Pyrex baker in my current favorite color. Can't you just picture bringing baked beans to a pot-luck in this cutie?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So helpful

One of my favorite quilts. And probably the quilt I invested the most time in. And money - I scrimped and saved so I could take it to get professionally quilted. I made it 8 years ago while I was pregnant with my second baby. (Hence the reason I haven't made anything like it since!) The colors are starting to look at little 1999-ish, but I still love it for fall. Maybe I'll make a new one in a few year with updated colors.
So we have this weird landing in our house that isn't really good for anything - except hanging something really big on the wall. Perfect for quilts!

This afternoon while I was in the middle of settling our 2-year-old for his nap, his brother, who is four, came in the room. I quickly shoo-ed him out and promised to read books with him next. When I walked out I found him tracing the quilting with a BLACK CRAYON! ??!!!?!?!?!? I was totally baffled when I saw him - he's never done anything like this before! (I guess I should count myself lucky I've never had this problem before instead of wondering why he suddenly picked now to start.) At least he picked one of the darker fabrics to embellish.
Anyone know how to get crayon out of a quilt?

And in news that actually is helpful, the talented Camile Roskelly has an incredible give-away going on at her blog right now. She and her mom recently designed their first fabric line for Moda: Cotton Blossom. It is beautiful. I already bought some. :)
And look at this new pattern she designed. I think it looks so fun! Go read her blog. It's lovely too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One of those weeks.

You know those kind. The ones where it's your turn to watch other people's kids (because they've kindly watched yours previously), where it's your turn to volunteer in your kids' classes at schools, where you need the finish the assignment for the PTA committee you signed up to help with [and they change your assignment at the last minute and the new assignment is not at all what you had already planned around and now you've got to figure out how you're going to get this stuff done with two little side-kicks in tow] and where you are helping with a Friday night Moonlight Madness event at the quilt store [okay this part is fun] and you need to make samples and patterns and get the supplies . . . Yep. That's the kind of week I've had. Not much time for blogging.
But in the midst of the crazy additions to life (which pile right on top of the normal craziness of life with small kids) I did have fun sewing my little wool flower clips to demo for our Moonlight Madness sale at the quilt store. I love working with wool. (It's very different from the felt you buy a Joann's. A little pricier, yes, but worth it.) It's such a rich, soft texture to play with and work with - plus it's very forgiving of flaws. (I need that.)

These clippies were a piece of cake. And I had so many fun colors to work with - I could have gone on for a long time trying different combinations. Maybe I'll make my first tutorial!

And in other fun news I got to meet more famous bloggers in person!

Nannette from Freda's Hive came with two of her daughters to do a mini-trunk show and to demo a REALLY cool bag. I seriously can't wait to make one. (I have been dying to make bags, but been a little bag-phobic/intimidated.) Their demo was great and I felt like even *I* could do this. Plus her fabric choices are amazing. It was really fun to see her quilts and bags in person because the fabrics are SO awesome. Freda was great and it was really fun to meet her in real life.Also there was Lila Tueller, a local gal who recently became a fabric designer for MODA. Can you imagine? Her current collection is Woodland Bloom.Her blog is cool- a neat slideshow of pictures from Quilt Market with people like Amy Butler, etc. And guess what? She was another really lovely person. Aren't quilters nice? And Orem, Utah is a happening-quilty place to be folks.

So, even though it's been "one of those weeks" - I haven't sat at my sewing machine for so long! - you could also say it's been "one of those weeks!" where I got to meet more famous bloggers and nice people. Yay.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

World's easiest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies this time of year? Don't feel bad if you don't; not everyone does. My husband is among those who don't and I still like him very much. That also means that there are more cookies for me, so really, it is a win-win situation.
This is all you need. Seriously.
A couple of years ago my friend gave me the easiest recipe for making them. She just mixed a Spice Cake mix, a can of pumpkin and chocolate chips. I tweaked it a little and added an egg and 1/2 c. of flour. That's it! Then bake at 375 for 12 minutes.
I also add a big scoop of ground flax. You can't taste it and it makes them even healthier. Think of how proud Jessica Seinfeld would be. All that healthy pumpkin PLUS flax. In the same cookie! And no fats either, so another reason I don't feel guilty that I already ate three today. :)
This is also a fun project with little helpers because the ingredients are so easy. And because they are invested they're more inclined to eat them too.

In other news, here is a little sample of one of my wool projects. It's a hair clip. And it's much cuter in person, but I thought it would be fun to share anyway. I'm making a boat-load of these in all different shapes and sizes. Easy and very fun. I'll share more later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Works in Progress

Oh, so many projects in the works right now. I think I am wearing too many hats. First: two projects for the store where I spend some grown-up time. One with this yummy felted wool and a quilt with a gazillion random plaids. It's called the Boyfriend quilt. It's SO cool when it's all put together, quilted and washed. I will post pictures when it is done. (I made one 5 years ago, but it's time to update.) Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in piles of plaid.
Next, plans for an Etsy business using some of these beauties (and dozens more.) Should be very cool. I'm so excited for it. This is a giant leap for me. But I'm hoping the market research I've done locally will pay off.Then I have this pile of baby-gift stuff that I WILL finish this week. Nursing covers and diaper clutches. One for a friend who had her baby over a month ago. Sigh.On top of that: major design work on this humble little blog. I decided a month ago to just go a head a start something. If I waited until too long to get everything perfect, it just might never happen. So this is one of my biggest works-in-progress.

In other totally random/really cool news I went to my first 'tweet-up' this week. I am not a 'twitterer' - still haven't totally come out of the technological stone-age- but I'm working on it. The very famous DesignMom/K*rtsy founder, Gabrielle Blair was in town for the Start-up Princess conference in Midway, Utah. (I SO wish I could have been there.) But I did make it for the Salt Lake meet-up.

This is so out of my comfort zone. Most of my social engagements include hauling kids, fruit-snacks & pretzels to the park. It was REALLY fun to do something fun and social. Gwen Bell (Gabi's K*rtsy partner) was also really fun to meet. She wrote about it here. (And you can even see me in the picture. I am third from the left. Woo. I feel so famous.)

It was really cool to see Gabi, who I totally remembered from college. And we finally figured out where: the freshman dorms. Also Kelly Anderson, *THE* Start-up Princess who was also a good friend from college -we were roommates for a semester in London. (You've got to love when people from your past become famous. Seriously, I'm so proud of these girls. Both busy moms with kids, who took some creative initiative and are doing very exciting things. And still being moms.)
And so much fun to meet the other amazing women there! Women who are doing what I want to do, but are so much farther ahead in the game than where I am right now. They were all so engaging and gracious and FUN. The most embarrassing moment of the night: coming in late and suddenly being asked if I have a blog by this hipper-than-hip group and wishing I had a much cooler blog to share with them. The coolest moment of the night: feeling the love and the real encouragement by these experienced women - feeling glad that I just took the plunge to show-up, start-up, and dream. Now back to work. . .

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fun things in the mail

Remember when I discovered ReproDepot and the wonderful fabric I didn't order the day before it was all gone? It was a cute little Japanese print with elephants on an orange background. I have a specific project in mind for it, but was deciding if it was worth the splurge. (Those Japanese prints are a bit pricey!!)
So I did a search and found SuperBuzzy. Oh. My. Goodness. Incredible selection of Japanese novelty prints. And they had my elephants in three colors! (But not the orange.) So I was going to get the pink. And then when I went back the next day . . . it had happened again! Gone! So after learning my lesson yet again, I went ahead and got the elephants on black/purple. (Depends on the light.) And then I couldn't resist the hippos and the hedgehogs. They will be so cute in this upcoming project.I'm a little bit amazed that I paid this much for fabric. But I look at these ones as investments in something that I think will pay off in the end. And I'm doing my patriotic duty to stimulate the economy. Including the be-draggled Asian markets. Right?
The greatest irony of all of this is that my husband went to Japan in March! He asked me if there was anything I wanted him to bring home and all that I could think of was sushi, but that's pretty tricky through customs, so I said no. THEN I fell in love with Japanese prints. Before he went I knew that Japanese fabric was pretty cool/pricey here, but I figured I didn't trust him to find something I'd like. Now I wish I had just asked him to get ANYTHING and I'm sure I could have given it a good home. Oh well.

Speaking of cute elephant fabric, have you seen this Alexander Henry print. I figured these elephants could all be friends.
And finally, I made my first Etsy purchase! I have been cruising/stalking/drooling over many things on Etsy. But the fact that I haven't opened an Etsy account kept me from spending money. Well now I have. (hopefully the floodgates won't open.) Look at these cute cards from Peek-a-boo prints! I was so excited when I opened my mailbox this week. I can't wait to use them. Yea!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The magic quilt

Today we had a couple of little friends over. Every week I swap kids with a friend while we take turns helping in our older kids' elementary school. It has been so fun to be involved on a regular basis with my kids's school without stressing about finding a babysitter or taking younger kids with me.

Anyway, today was our turn to host. After the first hour of letting kids watch 'Word World' while I finished folding laundry and sorting socks, it was time to turn off the TV and get them doing something else. Nothing sounded appealing and they weren't going for any of my suggestions. We even got out the pop corn popper and made a big bowl of popcorn, but after that was done, the natives were still restless.

Then I spread a quilt on the floor.

That did it. The quilt instantly became a raft and was promptly loaded with helpful things like cash registers and toy drills for their journey. And they all played happily uninterrupted for a whopping 25 minutes. (Which felt like a lovely long length of time while I got all that laundry put away.)

Then we played "Shark Attack" while we vacuumed up the popcorn. Success.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Glad to be an American

Did you vote? I can't remember an election where there was so much tangible excitement. It was fun to be at our local elementary school, sharing a fundamental American right with my fellow voters. And even though we were all voting for different people and purposes, it was nice share that moment with my fellow Americans.

I have a dear, sweet friend in another country who is going through a horrible ordeal of being maliciously accused of something she didn't do, and further persecuted because of her faith. I am always blown away when I talk to her because what she is going through could not happen in this country. And it's not like she lives in a communist or dictatorial country! She is basically treated as "Guilty until proven innocent." Knowing of this ordeal has made me feel even more grateful for the rights and freedoms we have protected here. We may not always agree with each other's political or religious views, but most of us will gratefully defend our fellow-citizens' rights to hold those views. God bless America.

(Not really sure what the problem was with the Halloween pictures on the previous post! I think we're now good to go.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hope you had a fun Halloween too!

Did you have a fun Halloween? We had a good one. Lovely fall-ish evening that wasn't too cold. Kids at perfect ages to love the wonder of it, but not be into the creepy stuff. In fact, our two-year-old really hated the scary parts (especially the parade at the school), but it made him snuggle closer, so I liked that part.

Here's my new Martha attempt at Halloween decor using some of our tree apples that had seen better days. It was very cute. Sorry that my camera doesn't make it look as cute.
I was extra pleased with our costumes this year, if I do say so myself. We went with a European motif this year (more by coincidence than original plan.) Some neighbors let us use this green dragon costume for our two-year old. I was having a hard time coming up with something for the 4-year-old (partly because he wasn't going for anything I suggested and I wasn't too inspired by the things HE suggested.) Then I had this inspiration. A knight! Specifically St. George, the ledgendary patron saint of England who fought the green dragon. Since most people aren't anglophile-Humanities-majors like me, I pretty much didn't expect anyone else to get it. But I loved it, having just recently visited England again for the first time in a long while.
The four-year-old asked me if he was "the Dark Knight." (He doesn't know what this means, just that his best friend says the Dark Knight is really cool.) So I told him 'yes.' Whatever it takes to get him to wear the costume. :) This is the only costume I made this year and even then I only made the tunic. And even then, I only sewed two shoulder seams and the red cross on the front. I was so pleased with the final outcome, and the child actually wore it!

The seven-year-old went as a Matador, wearing her dance recital costume, which I loved! Ever since the dance recital in June I have been promoting this as the perfect Halloween costume. Partly because it was ready to go. Partly because I wanted to get my money's worth out of that sucker, and partly because it was so stinking cute! Not a fluffy fairy-princess costume, but she went for it.The nine-year-old was Heidi wearing a dirndl my parents bought in Austria about 20 years ago. It was also very cute and also very minimal effort. My favorite Halloween costume combination!
Okay, thanks for indulging me. Tomorrow is back to fabric, quilts, etc.