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!