Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas... well, merry Christmas Eve to be exact! Tomorrow is the big day and another year is said and done. Oh my! I hope it has been a year of new adventures, time spent with loved ones, and lots of sewing! And if not, there's always next year - 2013 here we come! I have wrapped up all my gifts and started baking yesterday. I know it's a little late to start baking but better late than not at all. The kids and I made some yummy mint brownies. I love to get one out with a cup of coffee; it's a great afternoon pick-me-up :) We make these brownies at Christmas time because the green filling between the brownie and the chocolate glaze topping looks so festive. It's extremely rich but so worth it! I cut them into small pieces so I can have two!
Mint Brownies
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 16 ounce can hershey syrup
Mix and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

1 stick unsalted butter
4 tbsp milk
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp peppermint flavoring
few drops of green food coloring (can divide filling and do half red too)
Beat and spread over cool brownies. Refrigerate.

1 stick unsalted butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Melt and pour over filling. Refrigerate.

Once hardened, cut into small pieces. These brownies are very rich and yummy! I put half in the fridge for family and guests and save half in the freezer for future yumminess.

Of course, I made lots of American Girl clothes for Christmas this year. Both my girls are still loving American Girls and have asked Santa for one. E has asked for Caroline and S has asked for McKenna. I spent most of last week making doll clothes in the hopes that Santa will come through with their special requests. The girls have been good this year so I'm sure he will not disappoint. Here are two dresses I made using a pattern by See & Sew - 5553. The pattern was easy to follow and I love that the finished dresses have no raw edges showing on the inside.
The main fabric for the dress on the left was made using Millie's Closet Coat Pink by Bee in My Bonnet. The dress on the right is Gypsy Girl Josephine Floral by Moda.

Around November, I get out my felt, sequins, and beads. I enjoy making ornaments for the kids and their friends and teachers. The handmade ornaments add a nice touch on the top of a plate or container of baked goods. And it's something the receiver can keep and get out every year at Christmas time.
I am lucky to have so many Christmas ornament templates handed down to me by aunt and grandmother. But, you can find ideas for templates everywhere! These stockings are easily made by drawing your stocking shape on red felt. You will need two pieces. Take one stocking piece and glue on the white accent piece. Next, sew on the star sequin, circle sequin, and small bead to the stocking. Then, hand embroider the receiver's first initial. Now, take your other red stocking piece and hand sew the two pieces together. Remember to add the ribbon to hang the ornament. I sew the ribbon to the inside first. Before sewing completely closed, add a little stuffing to the inside. Last year, I made these singing angels here. Felt ornaments are so much fun and something the kids can get involved in too. Maybe I need to make some patterns...

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Julie B.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Beginning...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.... I'm sure you know the song and you know the feeling! Yikes! Don't tell me how many days left. No matter. I plan to get most everything done but the Christmas cards might be a little late this year. For me, that is just unheard of. I'm one of those people who have the cards ready to go the first week of December. All I can say is "o'well"! That's going to be my new motto for 2013 - O'well!  Do you sense a little insanity? I don't think my boss will like my new motto :) I digress... let's move on to sewing projects!

I am soooooo happy to introduce my new sewing pattern called Mouse in Hammock. It is a pdf file with over 20 pages of instruction and over 30 pictures.  We have had a Mouse in Hammock ornament on our Christmas tree for many years - our favorite ornament, by far. I am so excited to offer a pattern to you so that your tree may have a mouse in hammock dreaming of what Santa will put under the tree. Also, they are unique and one-of-a-kind gifts for friends, family and teachers. The pattern is available in my etsy shop.
 Merry Christmas!
 This mouse's blanket was made using a Santa fabric that came from my Grandmother's fabric stash. 
This mouse is comfy in his soft plaid bed set. 

Have you visited all the great projects on Moda Bake Shop? What a great site for free tutorials, inspiration, and ideas! Recently, I finished a placemat for Santa. This Christmas Eve, Santa will have his very own personalized placemat for his milk and cookies. You can find the tutorial here. This is my version...

Currently, I am making coasters for gifts. This picture are some coasters in progress for my dad. He collects Marx toy figures from the 60s. Most of his collection are cowboys, Indians, and soldier figures. When he was little, all the boys wanted to be cowboys but my dad ran around wanting to be an Indian. I bet he got chased a lot! Or went into hiding.

We love to have popcorn when watching movies. With three kids, we eat a lot of popcorn so I make mine the old fashioned way - on the stove top. I guess if a stove is involved, it's not really the old fashioned way but you know what I mean - not in a microwave! Usually, if we have any around, we add M&M's to the popcorn. If you add them when the popcorn is still warm, the chocolate on the inside of the M&M's melts beautifully. Here is a festive bowl of popcorn with holiday M&M's.

  Now go watch Elf! 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

S's Quilt

S's quilt is done! What a wonderful thing to be able to say. Her quilt is up on her wall above her bed. Maybe the display of quilt blocks and colors will seep into her dreams and turn her into a quilter someday. Here are some pictures:
The quilt blocks are Granny Square quilt blocks by Blue Elephant Stitches. There's a great tutorial here.
The pillowcase was mine when I was a little girl. Really neat to have S using it now all these years later. And I was lucky to find the matching bed sheet at Savers in great condition!

Really happy with the way the binding turned out.

 Here is a bad picture of the quilt back so you can see how I did the quilting.

Remember this Waste Knot quilt way back when I first started blogging? In fact, it was a year ago this month! Well, it's still here, unfinished and waiting... I can't seem to figure out what to do about the center. I have two pinks so I think I might add another green. I would love to add black but I think it might be too much for this quilt. I tried a block with several colors but that was a flop. Ideas?

I'm loving Savers still but I don't get there as much as I once did now that I'm working at a quilt store. I try not to miss out on the 50% off days that occur every couple months or so. This is my latest and greatest find - some cowboy Moda fabric from 1997. A great selection and a ton of it that would make a great quilt for my dad (someday) who collects Marx cowboy figures.

And on the same day, I found these wonderful 30s repro fabrics in black, red, purple, and yellow! I love these small prints and after doing my Waste Knot quilt my collection was really low. I haven't been able to find much of the black color so I was super excited! These were a great find for me and at an incredible price. And they were all pre-washed! What a blessed day!

My Mouse in Hammock ornament is coming along. I should be finished by the end of the month as planned. I had a terrible cold last week that ended up in some sort of infection. Needless to say, I was out of it all week. Here are some samples waiting to be finished. For the pattern, I am including a few pictures of finished ones in different styles - traditional, vintage, and modern. Please check back for the completed pattern which will be listed on my etsy shop. Everyone needs a sleeping mouse in a hammock on their Christmas tree. 

I am linking up to WIP over at Freshly Pieced and We Did It! at Sew Much Ado.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Projects...

I have been working on luggage tags for the upcoming holiday season! They are great to have on hand as gifts for friends, teachers and co-workers. They are meant to hold business cards but I slide gift cards into them for an extra special gift. The awesome tutorial is by Studio Cherie over at etsy.

Sorry, I didn't add the ribbon yet! I use a 1/2" grosgrain ribbon in a matching color with a 1/4" satin ribbon. For masculine ones (none pictured but I made one for my son's french horn case with black music fabric), I use twine. The grommets are large size from Joann Fabrics and really easy to do with the kit.

I have received requests over the past year about a tutorial for my "mouse in hammock" ornaments here. I am busy working on one in hopes of having something out by the end of the month. 
If you've ever tried writing a tutorial, you realize how much work goes into it that never shows up in the finished piece. So much time... and a few headaches... Right now I need to figure out how to get the pattern pieces onto my document. Regardless, I can't wait to present the "Mouse in Hammock" tutorial. Please check back for information. At this point, I am thinking of listing the ornament in my esty shop. 

The cold weather brings out my knitting projects. The idea of sitting in front of a fire drinking hot coco, knitting, and watching my favorite show sounds so nice and so grandma-ish! What can I say? I'm an old spirit stuck in a young-ish body. This pattern is called Easy Lace Pattern from the book "Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders." At first, the pattern, with all its yarn overs, was driving me crazy! I kept adding a stitch every few rows and it's not easy to fix mistakes on this one. Ripping out rows and crying...  A friend advised me to mark my rows. So, I put markers after each 12 stitch pattern and voila! I love the pattern now! Isn't it funny how a simple solution can make a world of difference? I was ready to throw in the towel and never attempt anything again that had the word "lace" in it. Not anymore!
I found this Malabrigo yarn at the store I work at part time. Aren't the colors great! 

I am linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Happy sewing and knitting! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

E's Quilt

E's wall quilt is finished! Hooray! I am so happy to finally have this one quilted and up on the wall. It really brings out the colors in her room and adds a fun and happy feel. I tried to get some good pictures...
E's Wall Quilt

Close up of the quilting. 

Small border frames the quilt nicely. 

Finishing this quilt took so long because I was practicing my free motion quilting in hopes of stippling E's quilt. After some practice and practice and practice, I just didn't feel confident enough to try it yet. Maybe in a few months! Two more quilts to finish...

 E's angel beautifully made by my Aunt B. 

E's Ginny doll given to her by Vicki (my dad's wife) who collects Ginny dolls.

This week I am working on some luggage tags. I made these a couple years ago for Christmas gifts. They make a perfect place to put a gift card!  The pattern is by Studio Cherie on etsy. 
Work in progress... 

Here are some finished ones from a couple years ago.

The cold weather is setting in and my garden is turning brown. S and I planted a bean this year for fun called Christmas lima bean. The plant grew but we only got a few beans. I let them dry on the plant so we could save them for winter soup. I have enough to make a tiny bowl for a mouse!
O'well! It was so fun opening them to discover the lovely colors inside. Next spring, we'll try again and plant more and earlier this time!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gathered Round Basket

I've been giddy making these gathered round baskets by A Spoonful of Sugar. Click here for the free tutorial. The project is simple and quick! I started out making ones for Halloween candy using spooky Halloween fabric. Then I decided to make ones for my daughters' rooms to put their ponytail holders. (Their bathroom was being taken over by hair accessories.) This one is for S's room. I decided to make this one using vintage bed sheet fabric in colors that go with her new room. Because the bed sheet is 50% polyester, it works great for this project. The polyester gives the basket a little more shape and strength than the 100% cotton fabric.
Try it when you feel the need to start a new project and actually finish it! 
Sweet and simple!

So, I've been working on the girls' rooms off and on all summer and fall. Here are some pictures of S's room almost complete. Beware: lots of pictures...

Favorites from her collection of Golden Books. Some are from when I was a little girl. 

Shelves and It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood quilt. The little plastic figures are nursery rhyme characters by Marx, a toy company from the 60s.

Quilts on a cute, little quilt rack I found at Savers. 

 An angel on S's headboard made by my aunt. Love the colors!

S reading Big Nate with Curious George and Sock Monkey.

Those are some of the highlights from S's room. One major missing highlight is her wall quilt. Remember this? I have yet to quilt and bind it. Any ideas? When it's finished I plan to hang it above her bed. And E's room is coming along nicely. I hope to post pictures from her room soon. Colors are very different - purples and blues!

I am linking up with Canoe Ridge Creations, Lilly's Quilts and Funky Polkadot Giraffe. 

Happy sewing! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My first swoon block...

I am so excited to say that I have finished my first swoon block! I've been wanting to try these blocks by Camille Roskelley for so long. After doing one, I can't believe I waited so long.
Swoon blocks are large at 20". For now, I plan to use them as single blocks to accent a dresser or a table.
I'm thinking one for each holiday would be really fun. This could be Valentine's Day! But first, how to quilt this lovely block... Any suggestions?

The quilt store I work at (Gentler Times in Naperville) now stocks the fun Chevron prints by Riley Blake in large and small. Of course, I had to buy some.
There are so many great sewing projects and quilts using this collection. Red Pepper Quilts has a great example here showing how one block can look totally different depending where you place the zig zags. Also, here is a free tutorial by Stardust Shoes for baby booties. I have seen booties made using the Chevron print - so cute! Know anyone having a baby?

I made these cute little holders for the store. We use them to place on top of fabric bolts waiting to be cut for customers who are still looking. This way they don't get accidentally put back on the shelves before being cut. 
I filled them with rice so they are more like beanbags than pincushions! Do you like my symbolic scissor charms?

Recently, I found some lovely vintage bed sheets all in the same place and in great condition. These are listed on my esty shop now waiting to repurposed, reused and/or reloved!

I am linking up with Quilt Story and Freemotion by the River. 
Happy sewing! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting Ready for School...

Yikes! School starts next Thursday! Where did the summer go? We did lots this summer, including a trip to Traverse City for the first time, tennis lessons, girl scout camp, hanging out at the pool, sleep-overs, painting rooms, music camps, vacation bible school... and some sewing and knitting, of course. Sitting down and crafting with the girls didn't happen as much as I was hoping but we did a little here and there. I try not to push my crafts on them...too much.  They should do these things because they enjoy them, not because I enjoy them. But between you and me, I bribed the girls with 10 cents a hexie this week! I got the idea from a mom on another blog but I can't remember who. (If it is you please let me know and I will give you credit.) So, the start of school is soon approaching and I have been immersed in sewing projects that are quick and simple, and ones that the girls can take to school and look somewhat cool :)

The first one is by Noodlehead called Open Wide Zippered Pouch. Great tutorial with easy instructions and awesome pictures. The pouch can be made in 3 different sizes. I made the small size for the girls to put in their school desks. I will definitely be making more of these in the different sizes for traveling and  gift giving!
This next one is by Dog under my Desk called Heart Shaped Pouch. They are so cute I can hardly stand it! The tutorial was very easy to follow and so much fun. These will be great for hanging on backpacks and storing little goodies that girls like to keep close to their hearts (no pun intended). This blog has another tutorial for a circular pouch to store earbuds.
Then, I came across this pouch over at Make it Modern called Perfect Box Pouch. Of course, I had to try this one too! Another great tutorial that was fun, simple, and easy to love. This tutorial makes a pouch that is about 5-1/2 x 3-1/2 x 2-1/4. Nice size for a tissue pack, a couple glue sticks, some fancy erasers, and some heart bandaids...all necessary things little girls like to keep in their desks that boys would never be caught with! Next time, I'll try adding small tabs where the zipper begins and ends. It would be nice to open and close the pouch without having to pinch the fabric.
I can say my fear of zippers has been overcome. All of these projects allowed me to play around with and practice sewing on zippers. It's not all that scary once you've tried it a few times. I am planning to make a few more zippered school items including a pencil case. So stay tuned...

I am linking up this project to Trying New Things over at Happy Quilting. Most of the fabric is Modern Edge by Jennifer Young. The colors are great for E's room (my 10-year-old daughter). We painted her room over the summer and it is in desperate need of a colorful wall quilt. This is one of many projects I'll finish once the kids go back to school. Yeah!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Paper Piecing a Name Tag

This week I was playing around with paper piecing a name tag. A modern quilting guild is forming in my area - really exciting - and for the second meeting we are to wear name tags. So I brainstormed a bit and remembered this darling one I saw here at Monkey Beans. Megan told me she didn't have an actual pattern made up so I got out my composition book with the grid pages and started drawing some lines to look like an old Singer. This is what I came up with...
For the stamping part, you should use a Versamark fabric stamp pad. I have tons of pigment ink stamp pads so knowing that this project won't be thrown in the washing machine, I used the pigment ink and heat set it. I'm kind of happy with the results:)  Here is a copy of the very rough draft...
I need to get a program to make paper pieced patterns. I had a lot of fun playing around with this and can definitely see myself making more. Any suggestions? I've heard the iPad has an app to make designs like this but first I need an iPad! I guess the good old fashioned way of designing will have to do for now.

I found this awesome tutorial for travel sewing kits over at Lots of Pink Here. These would be great for Christmas gifts for my sewing friends. I have a friend who sews on one of those lovely featherweight Singer machines. I'm going to try using my pattern to paper piece a sewing machine in black fabric and use it for the front cover of the travel kit...

And I leave you with a lovely thrift find for me. I found this in a full sheet size and in great condition. It's sentimental for me because I have the pillowcase in this same exact fabric from when I was a little girl. Of course, my pillowcase is very faded and well loved...
Not sure what this pattern is called but I just love looking at it. Doesn't it remind you of what little girls are made of?

Happy sewing!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop

I'm up for the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop which is being hosted by Beth over at Plum and June. Following are a few tidbits about me.

Favorite Color: for many years I have loved green; the last couple years I have favored pink; lately I am enjoying yellow.

Favorite Animal: dog all the way; I have a small poodle named Coco that I found thru a rescue group.

Giving or Getting Presents: since I love to make things, definitely giving!

Favorite Flower: Bleeding Hearts and Columbine in spring; Hydrangeas and Coneflowers in summer

Favorite Music while Sewing: Michael Buble

Favorite Sewing Tool: Hera Marker

First Block Attempted: log cabin block with my aunt which I still have but not yet finished!

I have been sewing for about 10 years. I bought my first sewing machine after my second child was born. I started taking classes and reading lots of books. Also, I started watching Alex Anderson when she had a show on HGTV (I think). I even got to meet her at a quilt store where she gave a big presentation. At first, I  bought all kinds of fabric - novelty, floral, civil war, repro, everything! Now, I am focusing my fabric stash on basic primary colors, solids, and I still love 20's/30's repro! I can see myself getting involved with the Modern Quilting movement. A guild is starting in my area and I am really excited to attend the first meeting. With 3 children, lots of my projects have been on the small side and many have been given away to their friends and teachers. They are getting a bit older now and I hope to starting making bigger projects, like quilts larger than doll size. Also, I started working at a fabric and yarn store so I hope being surrounded by such talented women will inspire me to sew "out of the box."

For my blog hop project, I paper pieced a house using a template by Jennifer at Sewhooked called Holiday House. I added a floral strip to the bottom of each house to give an appearance of a garden. The dolls looking out the windows are from a fabric I've had for a few years.  After using the Holiday House template for another project, I finally knew what to do with the doll fabric! I made a neighborhood of houses with a different doll looking out each window and hand embroidered "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" at the top. I have not had much, if any, experience hand embroidering letters so please be nice :) I'm linking this project to Quilt Story Tuesday also.

Won't you be my neighbor?

This wall quilt is my tribute to Mr. Rogers. And since we're remembering Mr.Rogers, following is a wonderful youtube video called Mr. Rogers Remixed "Garden of your Mind."


Watching this video brings back so many great memories. We need another show like this for the children. Maybe a Mrs. Rogers...

Whose hungry? Last week I made a yummy dish using a recipe from my Aunt Barbara. It's called Chili Chicken Bake and so great for leftover chicken!

Chili Chicken Bake
1/2 cp brown rice, uncooked
1-3/4 cps chicken broth
2 cps chopped, cooked chicken
1 (12oz) jar medium salsa
1 (10-3/4) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cp frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine rice and chicken broth in a saucepan; bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 50 minutes or until done.

Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in large bowl; stir in rice.

Spoon mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Optional: top with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheddar cheese before baking. I always use this option!

Someone snuck a serving! 


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