Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday inspiration

Getting inspired to...

mag pages

read actual magazines again (I get a lot of inspiration online, but sometimes it's nice to hold paper in your hand and make that pile of pages to keep);


keep trying new things (anyone who knows us in real life will be shocked to see Alex coloring on purpose--I had given up hope, but he was all about it today);


 finish this quilt!

having fun

be a more intentional, professional mother--just ordered the book, in fact (we already have a really steady dad around here);


 and keep my bathroom clean.

Thanks to Jennifer for the lovely inspiration inspiration.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

spiderwebs on the brain


I did so much thinking while I was piecing these--call it the metacognition of quilting.

Partly because making them is simple and therefore meditative--right down to peeling the paper while watching Law & Order--


but also because their scrappiness brings to the forefront of my mind so many parts of the creative process.  I am not particularly "scrappy" by nature--not because I don't like the look of scrappy quilts when they're done well (like this one, or this one), but because I tend to obsess and then become paralyzed by anxiety over fabric (and other design) choices.

I guess, then, that it's encouraging that even my least favorite block looked pretty good once trimmed.

A favorite block developed as I worked, and I only added favorite fabrics to it, as if to preserve it.  I wonder if anyone else could identify it?  I wonder if that person would have to be someone who knew me well, or whether the fabrics would be universally appealing so that it was obvious to anyone?  And no, this is not it.

spider bee January--stack

Fabric choices.  How and why had Anna chosen these different fabrics?  Some I would have chosen, some do people develop their preferences? Would she like the outcome?  Stressful to make something for someone else.
Deliberate randomness--maybe there's a technical term?--is scrappy the same as random?  If I'm supposed to be working randomly, then is it wrong to skip or replace a fabric that's "next in line" because there would be two greens in a row, or because it wasn't a favorite?  Would it have been OK to put two Christmas fabrics in the same block, or would that have made it a Christmas block?  How long did others spend choosing the perfect fabrics, or did they truly work randomly, or did they develop a few rules to guide their choices?  Many designers (Bill Kerr & Weeks Ringle and Denyse Schmidt come to mind) incorporate improvisation and randomness into their piecing; is this a feature of "modern" quilting, or, in a way, a return to the most organic kind of quilting (Gee's Bend, or quilts as the most basic form of reuse)?

Too much thinking, perhaps, about how to sew together some scraps of fabric. 


For me, though, this is what makes quilting more interesting than knitting.  There is thinking to be done in knitting, for sure, and math, and problem solving...but the effects of changes are more subtle and realizing them is slow (for this turtle knitter, anyway).  In quilting, I can see different designs just by rearranging.  Immediate.

So much to learn.

In the interim, I hope Anna likes her blocks.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

muffaletta, Chicago-style

mufaletta baked

I've never been to New Orleans, but man, can they make a sandwich.  Or, rather, man, can I make a sandwich that is sort of like their original.




Cajun-spiced chicken.

Olive salad (1 part Kalamatas, 1 part Spanish green, a couple of roasted red peppers, chopped and drained--don't skip that!).

Stack in order on foil, wrap tightly, bake for 20 minutes at 375°. 


Seriously, so good.  The perfect Sunday-dinner-in-front-of-the-TV.

On a completely unrelated note, I finished my January blocks for TBK:

quilt blocks

 They're wonky pinwheels for Tracy, tapered outward per her request.

quilt block closeup

I'm looking forward to seeing how this quilt comes together--such an interesting variety of fabrics.

On to Monday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

these boots get a lot of wear.


Occasionally, they're firefighter boots, but recently, they're Santa's boots.  Santa's been getting a lot of attention around here, more since Christmas than before it, actually.  There's flying in the laundry basket sleigh (strictly with Dad, that game), lots of ho ho hoing, reading and rereading of many Christmas books.  And ever shape-aware, if a slice of bread comes to resemble Santa's sleigh as it's munched, all the better--except when you have to keep eating it.

Tears erupted, full-on, like I had taken away his yellow bear forever.  Things got even worse when I said no, he couldn't take the bread-sleigh up for naptime.  Racking brain, racking brain.

pt santa 2

That's a paper towel, everyone. Cut into a sleigh and accessories.  In a fit of "genius", I cut some slits so Santa's boots fit into the sleigh and the sack fits onto his back.  He's upstairs sleeping with it right now.

pt santa

I wish I'd had the video camera to capture the delight.  A tinkly giggle that I never want to forget.  I'm sure he will have moved on in a day or a few, but really, that's my favorite thing about blogging--I took a minute to take the pictures and tell the story, so long after this time, when he can still be consoled by something so simple, I (we) will remember.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

My first spider bee block=a new addiction.

They're fast, the seams don't have to be exact, you don't have to love every fabric (these are extra scrappy, as Anna is using the bee to help her get rid of all of hers).  Also, there's something strangely satisfying about peeling off the paper.

The best part is that this (if you think it looks messy, you should have seen it before I trimmed it!):

spider block untrimmed

becomes this.

spider block trimmed

My mind is racing with all the spider quilt possibilities.  And what other paper-pieced blocks are out there (besides this one, of course)?

I'm thinking a lot about Haiti.  Don't quite feel qualified to donate here.  So many posts, so many perspectives.  So much to think about.  Feeling so fortunate.

al nye

 Finally, how could I have forgotten this photo?

caramel corn

Friday, January 15, 2010

I made it.

popcorn popping

 The famous caramel corn.


It was good.

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

do you know how much time I spend looking for matching socks?

A lot.  Too much.  And pants, and undershirts, and that's just for Alex--I won't even get started on finding an outfit for myself.  My problem isn't having clean clothes, it's having folded clothes, and I've always been this way, and I know I need to work on it, but that's a new year's resolution for 2011.

This year, I resolve to have Alex's clothes ready the night before.

stack of clothes

Originally, I had planned to sew a drawstring bag for every weekday, and to fill them all on Sunday nights.  Might still do that.  Bags (rather than a spot on a chair) because sometimes we get dressed downstairs, after breakfast--easy to lug.  But a bag with a T for starters, because not only can it represent Tuesday or Thursday if I do make the set, but right now, it can also stand for tomorrow...get it?  I knew you would.

(It also doesn't hurt that Alex's favorite letter is T.  He spots Ts everywhere we go...on signs, in arrangements (like if two pretzels fell into a T shape), even on our doors.  Eagle eye, that one.)

T door

And so, I give you The Tomorrow Bag.  I pushed to finish it during the naptime after a particularly "hectic" morning, which may have resulted in conversations held in a sterner tone that I usually prefer to use.  When I got myself together, we had a talk about independence as it relates to getting dressed, three-year-old style.  And about sleeping in a little bit later, please, it will make Mommy less grumpy, but I don't think that part really sunk in.  To drive it home, I pulled out this book at bedtime, still in heavy rotation even though we're 2-months-plus past Halloween. And when we read the last line (covered by chubby little fingers here: a costume for tomorrow):

curious george

we looked over at his tomorrow bag, filled and hung ready on the closet door,

bag on door

 and I think the connection was made.

Tutorial in the sidebar.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

my muddy buddy...

is always wondering something.  Recently, it was "what's that?" about the recipe for Chex Muddy Buddies he saw on the back of the box at my feet (yep, you read that right).  Not usually one to love cooking except for cracking the eggs (and even that's sporadic), I decided to jump on this spark of interest, and into the kitchen we went.  Wearing his apron and his fire hat sweetened the deal.

I used natural peanut butter so they'd be healthy.  Kidding!


 We measured, we poured, we stirred.


We did hit a bump in the road when the concept of the chocolate chips synthesizing with the rest of the ingredients really sunk in.   


 But I'll MISS them! 

shake shake shake

Shaking the bag was a good time, but not as much fun as seeing the MBs' appearance in his MTM--though this particular expression belongs to the cheddar popcorn off in the corner.

delighted mtm

Yes, those are spinach leaves.  And no, he did not like them.  And yes, that is puzzle cheese.

Tomorrow, a tutorial.

Monday, January 04, 2010

oh, fransson's trash...


is most certainly my treasure.  Sometime before Christmas, Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson cleaned out her fabric closet and put together ten packages of "outgrown" fabric for her etsy shop.  So much good stuff in this box of awesomeness (some that I've always wanted, and some that I wouldn't have bought but am glad to have...): Amy Butler, Kokka, Heather Ross (both Far, Far, Away and Munki Munki martians), Tula Pink, Lizzy House, Erin Michael's Lush...and on and on.  And a fat quarter of the exact AMH print that I need for the lining of a bag I've had in my mind since November. I can only imagine the fabric she actually kept! 

A great and unexpected thing: lots of sizes.  A huge stack of big pieces (including a bunch of fat quarters):


A few small squares:


And lots and lots (and lots!) of 2 inch-ish strips--more than this, even--


This was the best part.  I'm thinking about some kind of strip quilt where I just sew together pieces from the stack and see where it goes.

My favorite piece: a tiny square of this (Kokka?) print.

critters scrap

Just look at that squirrel!  And that hedgehog!  And the bluebird on the mushroom!!  Definitely destined to become something special for my critter-loving little critter. Not sure exactly what, yet, but it's definitely going into the special pile.  This box was such a great way for me to build my fabric stash--and now there's no denying it--once the basement (and therefore my "studio") is habitable, I'll need to plan out some system for keeping track of what I've got, sorting scraps, and all that good stuff.  The fun kind of organizing!

In keeping with today's theme...great friends of ours are moving to Phoenix this week, and last night I went shopping from their fridge--all the stuff that can't be taken across the country but is perfectly good and so would have gone to waste.  I came home with this (plus two more bags of cleaning products, etc.):


and it fits perfectly into my self-imposed freezer & pantry raid for the month of January.  I'm following along with this challenge (other favorite bloggers are playing along, too) and my goals are these: 1) a $100 budget for the month, 2) no meat or starches in the grocery cart until I've used up everything we already own, and 3) only one "lazy" (unplanned) restaurant meal.

I did a good stock-up on some pantry staples last week (still within our regular grocery budget), and we were the lucky recipients of a huge box 'o meat (ham, turkey breast, bacon, chicken breast) at Christmas time, so that should definitely help.  We'll see if we can make it the whole month buying only fruits, veggies, and dairy.  Even if not, it'll definitely be interesting.

Friday, January 01, 2010

if you spend an entire naptime...

thinking about a blog post on streamlining life in the new year, then that's kind of counter to the point, no?



Wishing everyone a delightful 2010. Goals, lists, and plans in the coming days. And a cake.