Wrapping up November

This weekend was lovely. I spent most of it hiding from my computer,
some of it holed-up at my sewing machine
and none of it at the mall.
I finished the top for my Ireland quilt and I’m pleased with the results.
Here’s a little sneak peak.
I’m sure it will be 1,000 times better when it’s quilted though.
Debating whether to tackle it (and potentially ruin it) myself or wait through the Christmas rush until someone else can do it.
We shall see.
Thanksgiving was so nice. I think it’s one of my favorite holidays.
I love to just hang out with people I like and eat good food.
And I didn’t totally ruin the turkey – it was edible.
After dinner instead of roasting chestnuts by an open fire, my awesome family assembled IKEA furniture for me.
Well the men did while us women-folk tried to heard/distract the young ‘uns (who wanted to “help”) in the basement.
I love my family.

I decided to make some practice turkeys first

Tomorrow I am cooking my first turkey for American Thanksgiving.
This is a bit of a rite of passage for me and I’m slightly scared of ruining it.
Fortunately the bird is already thawed, so I’ve got one thing going for me.

Today we had a happy home day and made some sugar cookies from this recipe at Calli’s Make It Do. When we make sugar cookies, we have a lot of collateral damage in dough that is eaten, rolled into greasy balls, dropped on the floor, etc. It’s joy in the journey though, right? (And while we’re on the subject of recipes I used Calli’s fabulous roll recipe this week to make my first ever made-from-scratch rolls. And they were good if I do say so myself! Which means if I can do you, you can totally do it!)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me share an amazing book I just finished.

It is called Three Cups of Tea and is the story of Greg Mortensen – an American whose mission it is to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan – with the primary goal to educate girls. It’s an incredible example of the difference one person can make in changing the lives of thousands, if not millions of people. Please read it if you can, or his new book Stones into Schools. It comes out next week and I can’t wait to read it too.

Reading this book has given me new gratitude for my own life and opportunities – and new appreciation for my education and the endless opportunities for education that my daughters have. It makes me want to do more for our sisters on the other side of the world. And I think this may be a way I can do something to honor the memory of my friend Sarah. More to come: quiltmaker/mother becomes activist.

Have a happy weekend with those you love, whether you’re formally celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, or just continuing to have a grateful heart.

PS Many thanks for all the kind comments on my painted hutch. It’s always fun to hear a few other opinions that confirm you did well. :) I am SOOO behind on my responding individually – please know how much I appreciate your kindness.

Glamor Makeover

I’ve had this china cabinent for a few years now. My parents bought it about 15 years ago and then my mom passed it on to me 6 or 7 years later when I was needing some storage for dishes as well as play-doh and Fisher-Price Little People in our little town house. It moved with us to our last home, providing much needed storage space in our little kitchen.

But it almost didn’t make the move with us this time because it’s not the finest craftsmanship and it’s pretty dated in forest green and with oak trim and oak knobs.
For the past few years I’ve wished it was a different color and even semi-contemplated doing something about it, – especially after being inspired by things done by the likes of Vanessa. But I felt too overwhelmed – it seemed like too much work to sand and prime something that’s really only made of compressed particle wood.

But then, my brilliant friend Natalie was telling me about painting all of her kitchen cabinets and that it really wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. So I told her about my ugly hutch and she suggested the new paint/primer combo stuff from Home Depot. Who knew! Suddenly I was reinvigorated. I went to HD and had a great time picking out color swatches to bring home. I finally went back and brought my cute little can of Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer in One. Worth every penny. (Like around $14.00)
And voila!
I am so pleased with the outcome!! And pretty darn proud of myself for going for it. The project was SO much easier than I thought it would be. Partly because I didn’t do a perfectionist’s job. (I figured this is not going to be a family heirloom.) I didn’t even break out the sand paper. I cleaned it with TSP to remove a bit of the sheen and then started slopping on paint. Two coats and it was done. Then I replaced the oak knobs with nickel hardware. So pretty.

And I decided to go Martha and just go with a mostly-white color scheme for the dishes. I also decided to pull out a few pieces of my china for the first time ever. When I got married my grandma gave me her mother’s collection of Haviland china. It is such a treasure! The pattern is so beautiful, but I’ve kept all of it in the box that she handed it to me in 12 years ago, still wrapped in newspaper from 1982, mainly because I feared the damage we could do.

But I decided it was more fun to risk a couple of pieces and enjoy looking at it everyday. And it’s also nice that I have a place to tuck this cabinet out of the path of my little boys now, so I think (fingers crossed) it’s a little safer. The dishes are beautiful, but the family nostalgia makes them even better.

I wish I had more of these little guys. I found a set of 4 of these place-card-holders for $2.97 at the Pottery Barn in February – regularly priced $19.99. Maybe I’ll check again this February.

Now that I no longer fear tackling a project like this, I’m on the prowl for more.

LATER EDIT: The color used is Cacao from the Behr Premium Plus Collection.
The knobs came in a bulk pack from Target.

And I take back saying I’m on the prowl for more – painting did take time away from sewing.
What I should have said is: now I won’t fear painting furniture if the time should come in the future.

Adorable Applique ABC’s

My Mom has been part of a neighborhood quilt group for some time. Over the past few years this group has combined forces to create a quilt to donate to a bi-annual fundraiser for a local hospital charitable foundation. This fundraiser has become a big deal over the years and the auction event is always preceded by a show to display all the donated quilts.

And so I wanted to share the incredible quilt my mom’s group made this year. This gorgeous vintage-ABC’s quilt is all hand appliqued. Each block is wonderful and whimsical. The quilt was then hand-quilted by volunteers.

Here are a few close-ups of some of the blocks.
I apologize the photographs aren’t great.
The lighting was not very good and
I didn’t have time to play with camera settings
because I was racing against
the “get the 5-year-old back for Kindergarten” clock.
I love this little robot!
Lots of little appliqued pieces and embellished with embroidery.

Again, these pictures just don’t do the artistry justice.
And here is my cute mom in front of the quilt.
Her group attended the auction last night and it sold for over $3500 buckaroos!

I have pictures of many other quilts from the show and will post them soon. Not only is my mom a talented quilter, she is also a talented grandma. We met up at the hotel where the quilt show was taking place. And knowing that I had to drag two little boys with me, she came armed with Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day (one of my boys’ favorite books) and sat on a couch in the lobby and read to them so I could look at quilts in peace. Lovely.

Many thanks for all of the kind comments and thoughts for my friend and her family – as well as the helpful information. I am so grateful.

It has been a busy week here. I have been going to town finishing unpacking my house – the basement in particular. And it feels good. SO GOOD. I finally feel like I am living in my own house. Bedsides the house work, I nursed a cold and may or may not have heard UFO’s at 3:30 in the morning. (A story for another day.) As a result I have been really bad about getting to my email – I’m sorry. (You are all so kind and understanding.) It’s amazing how much stuff you can accomplish when you ignore the computer for days. :) But I am so excited to get my house in order and I am feeling so much more peaceful and much less discombobulated.

Deeper perspective

I’ve debated whether to share more about my friend Sarah, who recently had the trauma, out of a respect for her and her family’s privacy, but so many of you expressed such sincere sympathy and offered your own prayers for my sweet friend that I felt I should give an update.

I’m so sad to report that my friend passed away. I was shocked when I heard the news. She is such a fighter, I thought she would pull through. It has been a pretty teary week around here. This event has made me hug my own family a little more this week and has prompted me to get in touch with other old friends from my past to tell them that I love them. Because you never know if you may not have that chance again in this life.

It is tragic anytime a person so young has to leave us, but it seems even more so to pass away as a result of giving birth to her first child. My heart breaks for her sweet husband, new son, and extended family. My heart is heavy and yet, I find great peace in the knowledge that “all things are done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things” (reference here.)

I have mentioned before that I volunteered as a Mormon missionary in England about 14 years ago. (Hence, part of my adoration of all things British.) Sarah was my companion/partner for 3 months. Together we had the opportunity many times to share a message of God’s plan for families to be together forever. I am more grateful than ever for that message.

And so, in my need to do something, when I really can’t do anything, I’ve been sewing.
When I first heard about the new baby I was sure I was going to make a quilt, but wasn’t sure what to make. When I was told of Sarah’s passing, (and since I’m on a bit of a flag kick) I decided to make Irish flags, so that this boy can always remember his mum’s heritage.It has been cathartic for my heart, to put my hands and brain to work.

A happy little bundle of British goodness

Shortly after my Cath Kidston post, my friend Aunt Spicy told me she was off to the UK that month and offered to pick-up stuff if I wanted to make an order. Did i! A short time ago my highly-anticipated parcel arrived. So, forgive me for being indulgent, but I thought I’d have a little show and tell of the contents.

First off. The book.
When I asked Aunt Spicy to pick one up for me I had no idea how elusive they would be.
But miracle of miracles, she found one for each of us.
In a cathedral no less. Read here.
And to my giddy surprise, look what came with it!
The fabric, buttons and tag to make my very own bag pictured on the cover!
Here’s a sneak peak of some of the lovely photographs.
Okay, I really must bite the bullet and learn English paper piecing.
I love these scrappy hexagons!

I also ordered just a couple small pieces of Cath china.
Because I like it.
Also included in my box of delights were some extra surprises.
A sweet CK vinyl zipper pouch and a very fun burlap shopping bag from Tesco.
(Tesco is roughly the British equivalent of Target
and seeing it brought back many happy memories
of buying things like Hobnobs, milk in a box, and Walls ice cream.)
Thanks again, Aunt Spicy!
If you are wanting to get your own Cath fix for yourself,
the latest catalog/magazine also just showed up in my post box.
You can get your own free copy here.

And in other news, we are picking up steam on other home improvement projects. My good husband put together storage room shelves for me this past weekend. Hooray! And I took on painting a china hutch that I was debating throwing away. Quite pleased with the outcome, if I do say so myself. Pictures to come. Part of this momentum is coming because we are having my family for Thanksgiving at our house! Nothing like a good deadline to get your rear in gear!

Have a happy week ahead!