Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I haven't gotten too much crafting, or baking, or interesting cooking, or much else done in the past few days. I did create that little backpack (turned into more of a shoulder/messenger bag) and wish I could share it, but I forgot to take a picture of it before I wrapped it up and gave it to the little birthday girl. She loves it, so I must have done something right! I may have to start taking orders from some of my friends, too! That could be a lot of fun, I just don't think I have time to take on too much else. I've been trying to catch up with housework on top of taking care of the little guy and everyone, but with our two really ridiculously hot days (I'm talking over 100 outside, 91 downstairs inside, no A/C hot), I fell even more behind and now have to play catch-up with the chores. Yuck. But, I need to get things back in order and just have maintenance chores so I can get started cutting and piecing my Project Modern quilt in addition to finishing the strippy quilt. I think it's going to need a name. That will probably just have to wait until it's done, and it has less of a deadline than my laundry basket does... yes, my inspiration for the first Project Modern challenge is my laundry basket. The basic design isn't likely to change any more, but I may play with the orientation and coloring of it. Right now it's going to be more or less completely black and white. And I'm kinda liking that. I'm also toying with the idea of doing a little piecing on the back. I've been falling in love with a lot of quilt backs with just one small pieced area, so I may include, that, too. Just have no idea how or what! Maybe mostly black with one asymmetrical white stripe? Hmm..... first, chores!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New goodies!

So, Two has a birthday party to go to on Saturday for one of his "friends". She's turning two. I decided yesterday that it'd be really nice to make her something, like a little backpack. It has now become, in my mind, a quilted, reversible backpack with buttons. In my mind, it's adorable. So of course, I didn't have the fabric in my stash to make it, so I needed to run out to the store. This, of course, is potentially dangerous for the bank account. So I made myself a list. Two fabrics for the backpack, two fabrics to make a quilted, reversible trick-or-treating bag for Two (I've never made or worked with pre-quilted fabrics, so I thought that would be a better first project), four buttons for the backpack, binding to hide the seams in both projects, and possibly some fabric to make myself an apron. One apron really isn't enough. I mean, what I am supposed to do when it needs to be washed? So that was my list. And I walked out with pretty much only that. And thread. And pipe cleaners. Oh, and an accent fabric for the apron. So not too bad, right? These are the fabrics I chose...

Aren't they great? Obviously the jack-o-lanterns and harlequin print are for the trick-or-treat bag. The cherries (with a button) and polka dots are for the backpack, and that awesome coffee print is the main fabric for the apron with the dots as an accent. I'm thinking a couple of pockets, the neck straps and a waistband if I got enough of it.

When I got home and got Two to take his nap, I started to get all set up to pre-quilt his Halloween fabric. Then I discovered I did not have any empty bobbins (this possibility had crossed my mind while in the store...) or bobbins with black thread. If I was just sewing, not an issue, but this is supposed to be reversible! So, I had a little stall in my plan. I guess I need another bobbin or two... because of course I need one for the red thread for the backpack, too! I guess we have to go back tomorrow... just for empty bobbins!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Project update and yummy food!

So it's Tuesday, and I haven't posted anything since Friday, and a few experiments and projects have been conducted. The sugar cookies were quite delicious, but I ran out of time to ice them for the block party, so they're just sitting unfrosted in the cookie jar, slowly getting eaten.

Sunday I decided I wanted to try something new for dinner. There are so many beautiful apples available right now, I thought I'd make something with apples and pork, since they go together so well. I ended up with some ground pork and the inspiration to make my own version of a meat pie. I began with some apple-honey cured bacon (six slices of bulk from the meat counter), rendered it down and removed it from the pan. I added in one and a half sliced onions and two diced apples (I used one Granny Smith and one Jonagold) to let them caramelize and cook down. I let those cook for at least half an hour by themselves in the bacon fat. Then I added in the ground pork (about a pound, I think it was) and three diced yukon gold potatoes. I added in some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, rubbed sage, salt and pepper (I think that was all... I just went with some classic apple and pork spice pairings!) and let the meat brown up. To help soften the potatoes and create a little gravy I added in some chicken stock, then some apple cider and a little flour. I don't really measure much as I'm cooking, so it's all just what looked good to me at the time! I put it all into a homemade pie crust (bottom and top!) and baked it at 375* for about 30 minutes, until the crust was golden. I then let it cool for a few minutes to let it set up and dished it out. It was delicious! Even our friend who does not like fruit (!!!) really enjoyed it! I was happy there were enough leftovers for the three of us for lunch on Monday and not just for the two of them! This is definitely a "Tess creation" that is going to stay in the repertoire! And if I may say so, the crust was perfect! I'm glad I went ahead and practiced making my own... I think it's a good skill to have!

In non-cooking news, I made some decent progress on my quilt. I decided I needed a couple more strips of pieced strips, then I had the revelation that they did not need to be placed vertically, but could go horizontally! I had been struggling with how to form the top with only three strips place vertically and still have it large enough, I made two more and still couldn't make it work in my head, and then I just turned them and voila! I really think this is going to work out wonderfully! Here are some pictures of how it's going together...

The three original strips

The five current strips

This is how I plan on piecing the strips together, with solid charcoal grey. I may end up needing to make some more scrappy strips to make it as large as I want it, and the side sashing is going to be the same grey. Each stripe is 5.5 inches, so roughly 5 inches finished. As is is right now, then, the finished main part of the top will be 55 inches long. I haven't measured the width yet, but I'm thinking it will be a good "lap" quilt to keep on a couch, right? Any criticisms or comments are welcome and appreciated!

Well, I think I may go try to get some more work done up there! I'll update more progress as I go!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ah, Friday...

So the baking bug has hit me the last week or so. Tomorrow evening, we're having a block party and I need to bring a side dish (I'm going to try out a pasta salad with kidney and green beans), but I think I'm going to bring some cookies, too. Or I might just keep the cookies for us and our friends... we'll see. The dough is in the fridge chilling right now. I've been wanting to try the sugar cookie recipe and icing techniques my mother in law introduced me to that she learned from one of her friends who typed them up beautifully. The dough tastes really good! I can't wait to see a finished product. I'm trying to decide what shape to use. Basic circles with pretty designs? Rockets? Fall leaves? The leaf cutter I have is a bit on the big side, and I only made a half recipe, so I'm leaning toward smallish circles... any input or ideas would be appreciated! I'll be sure to take a post photos of the finished product!

Also, yesterday was the first card swap my group held of the school year! I got some great cards from all the ladies in the group. I may take some pictures to put up to share, for sure of the cards I made and perhaps of some others. I have some ideas for other cards I'd like to make, and those will definitely go up to. If I think of it, I'll take photos to show my "process" which is rather organic and haphazard. Most of my friends think I'm somewhat insane for how I work. I rarely have a plan in place before I start, if I do at all, it's just the colors or stamp set. So yes... that is what I'm thinking about right now... sugar cookies, and cards... oh, and the quilt I have in progress.... I'm working on trying to figure out how to finish it, or at least the next step toward finishing... I still need to take and post some photos of the progress I've made... perhaps later today or tomorrow.... ciao ciao!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Day!

This morning the mom's bible study group I'm part of started back up again! It was so nice to be back with that group of ladies, and Two had a great time playing with his friends again! It's wonderful to have those two hours of adult time while he gets to play with the other toddlers!

In crafty news, yesterday I finished up that set of cards for my mother in law, so I should be getting those off to her soon. I think I'm going to make some more of the "hello" cards to bring in to mom's group (part of what we do is send cards off to people in the community) and make more of the "merci" cards for the monthly card swap I participate in. That starts back up tomorrow morning, too! It's great to have some sort of schedule again, the routine helps keep me on top of everything. I got to spend some time working on my quilt in progress during naptime today, too! Now I think it will actually turn into a lap quilt, nothing too big, but I would like to make it a more useful item than just a table runner. And it's going to be a gift for someone, I won't say just in case they're reading... I'll post some pictures of progress later on, probably tomorrow at the soonest.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Long weekend...

It was a long weekend, and not in the good way... I ended up not going out to Beverly Hills Friday night, which was a bummer and I was a bit disappointed. The little guy had a rough weekend with a lot of not sleeping well or taking his naps, so I didn't get that time at home to recharge and take care of the things I like to do. I did, however, get to do some baking! I love having a bread machine to do all the work, and my guys love to eat bread, so I made a loaf of buttermilk bread. I also made some super yummy chocolate cookies. I've been using the same recipe since I was given a Klutz Kids cookbook when I was 9 or so, and it's still one of the best I've ever eaten! Two dozen were baked last night, one of which got sent in to work with Dex to give to a friend for his birthday, and there's still dough in the fridge to bake today! There are only four left, really, so I need to bake some more. They just disappear so quickly! I thought I'd give a little update even though not much was accomplished this weekend. Hopefully it will get better today...

Friday, September 10, 2010


Yes, this is my second post today, but I just have to share this!

I decided I needed a new purse for this evening since I'm going to the Beverly Hills Fashion's Night Out event and decided to just go ahead and make one. This is what came out of that decision, using Kona charcoal grey and white fabrics. I rather like it! It's a little messy inside...

... but that's ok. If I had planned it a little better I would have turned the lining and such, too, but not bad for a morning's work! The only thing I really can't think of from what I have is some kind of closure. I really do not want to use velcro, so it may not really close at all for now. Maybe in the future I'll find magnets or something, but not by tonight. The other thing would be a strap of some kind, but I'm not liking anything I have around. It's good enough to use for tonight as is. I just had to share!


It's been a couple of days, so this is going to be a long one!

First off, here's a photo of a skirt made with the same pattern I plan to use as the base for my new skirt!

Second, this is a set of cards I've been working on to send to my mother in law... and maybe make enough to keep some for myself or stock up for a future swap or who knows! I just really like the way they look... (It's the "Chic Boutique" stamp set from Stampin' Up!, using their Real Red and Not Quite Navy and the new scallop border punch)

Third, I made some pretty yummy calamari last night! Dex wanted fish or pasta, and I wanted something fairly quick and easy along the lines of Italian food, so I opened up the cookbook my father got for me in Boston's North End to the seafood section and decided to try the Calamari with Fresh Tomato Saute, with zucchini to add more veggies. I was also missing a couple of herbs so I just left them out. This was the first calamari I've ever made, and other than all the chopping prep, it was really easy! I tossed in some fresh spaghetti to finish it and everyone loved it! Well, Two really only ate the pasta, but that's to be expected from a two year old!

If I get a chance today, I'm going to try to finish off those cards and make some more progress on my quilt creation. It's really making me feel like it wants to become a table runner, I think, so we'll see how that works out! Tata for now!

Monday, September 6, 2010


I really love the new fabrics I got Saturday from the LA Fashion District! I am going to try to finish the project I'm working on before I start anything else, though. So, I promised pictures! Here they are!

The fabric on the left is for a skirt, from the Drawing Room line by Anna Marie Horner, the purple grouping is Tufted Tweets in Orchid, the red, black and white is from the Poppy Lane collection and then there are the solids.
This is a little gift bag I whipped up yesterday morning from my stash for a friend's birthday present. I thought it turned out pretty well, especially when I filled the top with tulle strips instead of tissue paper, it was really cute!

I'll keep you all posted on what gets worked on next!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A very successful day!

Today Melissa and I went on an adventure to the giant Michael Levine fabric store in LA's Fashion District. That store is a dream. There is so much fabric!!! I found the fabrics I was looking for, and was able to restrain myself from getting more than I had planned, other than picking up some really great fabric for a new skirt. I had been considering making a new 50's style dress for myself, but the 2.5 yards needed for the skirt was much more reasonable in my mind than the 4.5 for the dress. I just knew I'd obsess over trying to find it again if I didn't get it today, and it was a lot less than just buying a skirt in a store! I'll take some pictures of my new treasures to post sometime in the near future, as well as one of the skirt I'm going to be making (I've made two from this pattern already) with my fabulous new fabric. I also found some great tiger "fur" to mail to Nana, my mother, who wants to make Two's costume for Halloween this year. It's a lot harder to find than you would think!

This evening, I decided Two and I should make some "cookies" for our friends' puppies we're going to go visit tomorrow. Yes, I let my two-year-old little boy"help" me in the kitchen for the first time. He had a blast, we made a big mess, and there will be two very happy pups tomorrow! I wish I had gotten some pictures while we were working, but Daddy was busy elsewhere and Mommy's hands were just too messy... oh well... I'm sure there will more opportunities to get pictures of my little man working in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Project in Progress...

So here are some of those photos!

The fabrics cut into crazy strips, one of which I pleated for a special texture element

One block... or strip... something pieced together with the remaining strips

I don't think I'll get to work on it much more tonight, but I like where it's starting to go! I think I'm going to use a charcoal grey for sashing, spacing, border, back, etc, to anchor it all together. We'll see where it actually goes!

A work in progress

So the other day my friend Melissa posted about some new fabric she got and since then I have had a very strong sewing itch. I pulled out my stash (yes, it is small enough to actually pull it out... I have a smallish box not quite full) and started considering various fabrics to turn into... something. I've decided to take a very organic approach to it and just start creating. I have a vague idea of what I want to do, but I just want to see where it takes me. Last night I cut some fabric and plan to start piecing today, hopefully. It's definitely going to be a "modern" and "wonky" quilt, but I think it will be fun. I'll try to post some pictures of the work in progress later.

I have also decided to try and participate in Project Modern, a four challenge year-long event by the Modern Quilt Guild. The first challenge was posted yesterday, and I already have two possible designs sketched out! I'm really excited about trying to get back into quilting, and I think a more modern approach may be the way to do it. I'll keep you posted!