Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pinter-test Tuesday - Just like the school cafeteria

When I was little I vividly remember that may absolute favorite lunch at the cafeteria was mac 'n cheese with little smokies, solely because that meal came with a delicious cinnamon roll. My second favorite meal was whatever came with the chocolate cookie with oats. I had not idea what it was called but it was a sweet cookie made with chocolate, oatmeal and a hint of peanut butter.

I came across this post on Pinterest from the blog One More Moore and instantly recognized the cookie I loved from school. Of course I had to test it.

Naturally, it was delicious and addictive. It's hard for me not to sneak this cookie at all hours of the day. The bonus is that these yummy treats are also no bake. Especially important during Arkansas summers.

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

1/2 C Butter
2 C Sugar
1/2 C Milk
4 T Cocoa
1/2 C Peanut Butter
3 to 3 1/2 C Oats
2 tsp Vanilla

On the stove top bring the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa to a rolling boil. Let boil for one minute. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and drop on foil or wax paper to cool. I have used both quick cook and regular oats and both seem to work fine.

Enjoy your school memories!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quilting Journal

I started quilting in January 2009. I know this, not because it was insanely memorable, but because at the same time I started a quilting journal. I have used the journal to write information about every quilting project I have started. I use it to remember patterns and fabric I liked and remind myself of what worked well and what worked not so much.

I also add a swatch of as many fabrics as I can fit on the page and include what part of the quilt the fabric came from.

This has been a great way to remind me of unfinished projects that I need to re-visit and what settings work well with different types of thread. Here is a list of what I include for each project:
  • Start and finish date
  • Project type and pattern name
  • Fabric collection name(s)
  • Thread brand, color and weight
  • Who I am making the project for and why
  • Tension settings
  • Quilting style
  • Any snags I run into along the way
  • Any great things I want to remember
  • Feedback from the recipient
The most important thing is that I have a catalog of what I've done to pass on to my family. Good luck tracking your projects!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zig zags in Illustrator

My son just started Kindergarten and I wanted to practice my Adobe Illustrator skills, however small, by creating him a special sign to hold for photos. I had an idea to create zig zags within a large letter K, but I had no idea how to easily create a zig-zag line.

A little searching on the Internet and I came across this tutorial on the blog web designer wall (you'll find some other great tips there as well). Here are my step-by-step instructions for creating a zig-zag line.

Start by creating a straight line with your Line Segment Tool. I have changed the color and the stroke weight to 30.
With your line selected, click on the Effects tab and scroll to Distort & Transform and then click on Zig Zag.
This opens a dialog box where you can adjust the attributes of your zig zag line. The "Size" slide bar adjusts the height of each zig and zag and the "Ridges per segment" slide bar adjusts the number of peaks within your line.
The default zig zag settings in my program.
In this version I increased the size and the number of ridges to seven, creating more zigs and zags.
Choosing the Smooth radio button allows you to create a rounded transition between your peaks and valleys.
A simple concept, but it was new to me as I continue to explore Adobe Illustrator as a complete novice. I should note that I did this tutorial in CS2, but the effect is still available in the latest version of Illustrator.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Follow Friday - Cross stitch cleaning tips

A great post about cleaning your cross stitch projects.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Modern Needlecraft

Any time I'm in a craft store, I always make a point of walking down what I call the "counted cross stitch aisle." I was raised on counted cross stitch projects...it's where I cut my crafting teeth. I've completed countless cross stitch kits in my time, but it has been a very long time since I've purchased a kit. The designs seem so old-fashioned.

However, the other day as I was completing my compulsory march through cross-stitch land I noticed that the company Dimensions has put together some more modern kits. Several caught my eye, included this modern family tree.

Stylized Family Tree Crewel Embroidery kit by Dimensions

Poppies Counted Cross Stitch by Dimensions

Bird on a Branch embroidered pillow by Dimensions

I'm loving the new style. It's seems that for quite some time needlecraft kits were stuck in the 90s. But we're finally coming out of that phase and becoming more modern. If quilting can do it...why can't needlecraft?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Vintage genealogy sampler

A vintage genealogy sampler sewn by Susan Weston, Massachusetts, 1812-1813. An example from the sampler collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pinter-test Tuesday - Stuffed Lovie Sleeping bag

The moment I saw this stuffed animal sleeping bag on Pinterest, I knew it would be loved too much not to try it.

Original pin. Stuffed Animal Sleeping bag by Autumn of It's Always Autumn as posted on Ucreate
My son has a teddy, affectionately named Mama Bear, that was a perfect fit for this project. I waited until fleece fabric was on sale at Joann (sign up at their website to receive additional coupons, too) and we went and chose what else? Pirate fabric.

The tutorial on Ucreate by Autumn of It's Always Autumn was crazy easy to follow and I whipped this up in probably 45 minutes from cutting to finish.

I've been told that Mama Bear is very pleased with her sleeping bag. I bought 1/2 yard of fleece and have just enough left over to make a smaller version for a small lovie. Autumn's tutorial is great and this is an easy, inexpensive project...something the kids could probably make themselves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Free historical French embroidery patterns

I really enjoy embroidery, in fact, it was my initiation into the craft world when I was a girl. I found a link to Motifs pour broderies, available for free through Open Library, a French book that showcases many beautiful embroidery patterns, albeit in French.
These patterns, which appear to be from the 1920s (my French is non-existant), include floral patterns, borders and alphabets. Let me know if you create something with these patterns...I would love to see them!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shopping Saturday - Where do you buy fabric online?

For my hexagon project I'm trying to pull from my stash, but I need just the "right" red fabric. I can't tell you what right is, I will only know when I see it. I'm sure you have been there.

That being said, I have been trolling the online fabric stores for just the right fit. Here is a list of fabric stores I have either bought from or that I would really, really like to get a $500 gift certificate to spend there. ;) Where do you buy fabric online?

This link leads you to a multitude of online fabric stores.

At this site you can actually upload and print your own fabric designs. Sweet!

There are many, many small fabric vendors on Etsy, a great resource.

Monday, July 9, 2012

English paper piecing hits and misses - sewing

Following my hits and misses with English paper piecing cutting and basting, I ended up with a nice stack of hexagons. Now on to the piecing together of these sweet shapes.

My first error here was my thread. I normally piece all my quilts with all-purpose white sewing thread. Nothing fancy here, as I figure no will ever see it and it will be strong enough to hold my quilt pieces together well. So I moved forward with piecing my hexagons with the same type of thread.
On my first go-around I chose to follow a tip I read that suggested you create a whip stitch in one direction and then return to your start point with another line of whip stitches. As you can see the white thread is very obvious and my stitches are uneven. Not to mention that this was just too much work. I can see the benefit of strength, but it doesn't add much if it is this noticeable.

I then changed threads to 100% cotton hand-quilting thread by Gutermann in Medium Grey. The difference is clear: matching thread rocks.
I still was not pleased with my thread choice. I loved the strength of the Gutermann thread, but it was still too obvious to me. Then I switched to 100% polyester Poly Sheen thread by Mettler. It is a little thinner and not quite as wiry as the Gutermann option.
My two thread options. You can tell the difference in thickness.
But after sewing with both I found the thickness of the thread was not the culprit for my dislike. My problem was my stitches. I needed to pay more attention to my stitches. The thread thickness did not matter as much as paying attention to creating small, even stitches.

One of the best parts about paper piecing is it's portability. Throw some cut fabric, your templates, thread, needle and scissors into a bag and you're ready go. It was great having this project on a recent long car trip. I am also enjoying stepping away from the computer and the sewing machine to do some hand work.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Follow Friday - Design Seeds

I have always been passionate about color. I was the little kid that put all of my crayons in rainbow order. I'm happy to say I have found a kindred spirit in Jessica, creator of Design Seeds. She provides color inspiration by taking captivating photos and creating color pallettes from them.

You'll see Design Seeds all over Pinterest. You can even find pallettes that match a favorite color using her Pallette Search tool.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Follow Friday - gawkerverse

I have several suggested websites to follow today, all fall under the "gawkerverse." The gawkerverse is a series of photo gallery websites that allow bloggers to post their creations, ideas, etc. to one happy place. The submissions are edited daily by the gawker folks, meaning you only see the best of the best. There are currently four gawker sites: foodgawker, craftgawker, dwellinggawker and wedding gawker. 
foodgawker; all about food
craftgawker; all about craft
dwellinggawker; all about home
weddinggawker; all about the big day
As I mentioned, only the best submissions are posted so you can expect to love what you see. Fair warning: these sites are crazy addictive.

Monday, June 25, 2012

English paper piecing hits and misses - cutting and basting

I love hexagons. Or rather, I love English paper piecing. I tried it for my first time the other evening and I have been loving the "exactness" it provides. I'm not very good at cutting fabric so I'm always having to "fudge" my sewing to make all the pieces come together right. But with English paper peicing that is not an issue.

As I mentioned here, I have been wanting to try this method of quilting for a while. Now I'm going to share some of my hits and misses to hopefully help others come to love this type of sewing as well.

Hexagon shape templates are measured by the length of one side. My very first hexagon I tried was a two-incher and I just felt it was too massive for my project so I downsized to 1". I found a great tutorial here at Snippets and Blabbery that also included a printable sheet of 1" hexagons. I chose to print my own templates on some lightweight cardstock I already had, but you can pick some up at your local craft store or online. I also created a template for cutting my fabric. I simply took one of the 1" shapes from my card stock and cut it out with a 1/4" seam.
I use the larger template to trace the hexagon shape onto my fabric. There are a myriad of ways to cut out fabric for paper piecing, but I am choosing to draw and cut each shape out seperately because I am fussy cutting most of my fabric. I always enjoy the process of cutting that requires little thought on my part.

The basting of the fabric around the template was easy. I am choosing to sew through my templates making a stitch about every 1/4". There are also methods that do not include stitching through the template. I also chose a bright red thread so I wouldn't have any issues finding and removing it later.

Next I'll talk about my hits and misses with joining my hexagons together.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Arkansas heritage leads me to hexies

To celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the state of Arkansas has created a passport program which encourages visitors to check out 23 different civil war locations throughout the state. Once you get stamps from all of the sites you can earn a special patch or coin commemorating your travels. We love history and traveling in our family so it was a no-brainer that we would try to complete the passport. Plus this is an awesome way to learn more about the state we live in. To date we have hit 18 of the sites.
We visited the McCollum-Chidester House in Camden, Arkansas last weekend as part of our passport travels. The house was built in 1847 and is filled with period furniture and family items that belonged to the Chidester family.
The McCollum-Chidester House. Photo from Arkansas Heritage Trails.
Of course, the things that always catch my eye at historical locations are quilts. I'm not all that talented of a quilter, but I aspire to be. In one of the bedrooms of the home there was a beautiful hexagon quilt. I'm kicking myself for not having taken a photo, but this bedspread was the kind of quilt that made you want to be a quilter. So, I found myself online at Fabricworm buying some Kona Cotton Solid in Medium Grey for my hexagon masterpiece.

I also printed off some 2" hexagons to start my project. My plan is to surround pops of bright color with the grey solid. I've never sewn hexagons or done this much hand quilting so we'll see how bad I can screw this up.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mess-free finger painting

I saw recently on my vice, Pinterest, an ingenious idea for mess-free finger painting. Unfortunately, I can't find the original pin, but I decided to try this to see if Littlest Dude would enjoy it.

And enjoy he did. I used painters tape to attach a plastic bag to his highchair, filled it with dollops of three colors of paint and let him at it. He had a blast mooshing the colors about. I also gave him a fork to make lines and shapes. I would definitely suggest using a freezer bag as the plastic is thick enough to keep little fingers from popping through. I would also suggest fully taping the bag down as my little one spent a lot of time trying to take the tape off. Overall I think he played with it for about 15 minutes. That would be just enough time to prep dinner. Altogether a successful attempt to amuse a nearly two-year-old.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pinter-Test Tuesday - Overnight Blueberry French Toast

I spend A LOT of time on Pinterest. I find myself looking at crafty pins and food pins for hours on end. But I am determined to get something out of those wasted hours so I am actually trying the pins I find. This particular one is for Overnight Blueberry French Toast, as found here.
The original post
In a moment of idiocy I decided to try this dish for father's day breakfast. I say that is idiotic only because if it had been a pinstrosity I would have felt horribly guilty. But I did have the back-up plan of brunch at Cracker Barrel. Luckily for all involved it turned out well.
My version
The recipe calls for day old bread, but it does not indicate type of bread. The grocery store happened to have an Italian loaf on the day old rack so that is the type of bread I used. But I would suggest a bread that is a little more dense, it will soak up the egg mixture without becoming too soggy.The blueberries make this dish and it really does taste just like french toast. Overall it was a success and most importantly, Mr. Dad loved it!

12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon butter

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Color fun with Sherwin-Williams

I found a new fun way to procrastinate with the help of Sherwin-Williams: Chip it!
This is a great program from the well known paint gurus that helps you turn images you love into paint palettes. It works similar to Pinterest. When you find an image online that you love, you can paste the link into the Chip It! tool and it will automatically create a chip board with colors from the massive paint inventory at Sherwin-Williams.

You can even download the Chip It! tool to your toolbar to easily "chip" things as you find them. This tool works very much like the Pinterest tool does.
Very cool!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quilty Magazine

Have you seen this new publication at your local fabric haunt? I was waiting for some fabric to be cut and amused myself by looking at the magazines when I came across this publication. The cover caught my eye and I really liked the patterns as I flipped through it. The editor is Mary Fons, daughter of Marianne Fons, of Fons & Porter fame. I had seen Mary before on episodes of Fons & Porter on PBS, but I had no idea that she had her own online quilt show and this fun magazine. I must admit that I am a sucker for all things print so it is right up my alley. Plus, Mary makes it fun. The first issue of quilty is now on newsstands and you can also see a preview PDF of the magazine here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Craft To do: Join the Joann mailing list

Here where I live we are fortunate enough to have just gotten a new Joann store. They must pump in creative juices because you can not walk away from the store without feeling the immediate urge to make something. But I digress.

I went to said store the other day to look for fabric for a new laptop cover. I have always known that their Keepsake Calico fabrics were inexpensive and are often on sale. But for this particular project I was looking for something a bit more expressive. I found the perfect fabric...and then I looked at the price. WHAT? It was $12.99 a yard. Insanely out of my "what the hell" budget criteria. But fear not! I had signed up for the Joann mailing list which sends me great coupons every month. I received a mailer the other day for their Firefly Frenzy days which included several 40-50% off coupons for a single item. I also learned that you can combine coupons as long as they have different bar codes. So I was able to afford my sweet fabric.

This is Floral Medallion and Circles in Pink, both fabrics are from Splurge, a Stonehill Collection by Donna Wilder for Fabric Traditions.

So now I have my reasonably priced fabrics and am ready to whip up yet another Work In Progress...all thanks to the Joann mailing list!