Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We Be Jammin'!

Well, summer is finally coming to a close in Utah and I couldn't be happier! I love summer, don't get me wrong, but I ADORE fall!! I have my home decorated with pumpkins and leaves everywhere (the Halloween stuff comes out Sept 21st!). To top it off, we are considering putting our house back on the market, seeing as the predictions say that we won't be able to get as good a deal as we can now for at least five years. There are obviously many positives and negatives in this situation. Negatives: keeping the house show-ready constantly with a three and two-year-old. Positives: Having a constantly clean house and an excuse to spend money to fix it up! Over the Labor Day weekend we got our back yard (finally!) ready to plant grass, which is happening tonight. I also painted our front door from a yucky red color that I loved once, to a sleek and lovely black!
Before (the paint was very matte and chipped and rubbed off on my rag whenever I tried to clean it)

AFTER! Is it not beautiful?!

In further news, my design wall is a bit of a crazy hodge-podge of blocks I have wanted to try, unfinished quilt pieces, and a fun panel I ordered from the Fat Quarter Shop. I have been doing plenty of sewing, but I really don't have anything exciting to share until tomorrow for WIP Wednesday.

This is my first ever attempt at embroidery and I finished it about three years ago and forgot I had it! I think I am going to sash it up and make it into a pillow or wall-hanging!
Aside from all that, I got a smashing good deal on a case of raspberries at our local grocery store (only $15 for a case!) and we decided to make some jam. By we, I mean the whole family. When we lived in Portland, OR, we would go behind our house and pick buckets full of wild blackberries. Then we would go home and make incredible jam that we would give our families in Utah for Christmas each year. I must admit, we ROCK at home made jam, and I am going to share a cool technique that some of you may not know that makes jam making a breeze with no special equipment required! We used the recipe that comes in the package of pectin for raspberry/blackberry jam.

First, mash up 6 cups of your raspberries or blackberries. The berries I had were borderline overripe, so it took all 12 pints.

Add the pectin to the berries and cook on high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil (meaning it is still boiling even when you are stirring). Once you hit a rolling boil, add 8 1/2 cups of sugar quickly and, stirring constantly, bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil.
Still stirring constantly, let the mixture boil for 4 1/2 minutes exactly. Then, turn off the heat.
Ladle the jam into your jars.
NOTE: to prepare your jars, was them on the hottest cycle in your dish washer so they are warm when you put the jam in. If you put the boiling jam into a cold jar, it will crack. I also pour boiling water over the lid seals (the flat round disk) to loosen up the gummy stuff around the edge so it will seal closed.

Now, here's the cool part. After you pour the jam and secure the seals and lids, place the jars UPSIDE DOWN on your towel and set your timer for 10 minutes.
When you flip the jars over after 10 minutes, the steam will act like a vacuum and suck down the seal on the lid, sealing your jar effectively so your jam can last in storage for 1 year! This is a great technique because it negates the use of specialized canning equipment!

Sam didn't get to help much with the prep, but he made a great taster!
And Wes felt he needed to test it as well.
I tell you, after this, I will NEVER buy store-bought jam again. It is pure Heaven :D
I love having such wonderful boys in my life! I remember the first year we made jam. We had been trying to get pregnant for close to six years at that point and I was devastated. I remember making the jam and imagining what it would be like to have a kitchen full of children helping out. It is so wonderful to have that wish fulfilled. I will never take my family for granted, that is for sure!
Sorry for the super long post. I just have one more thing to share, I promise! Our table and chairs in our dining room have been in sorry shape for a while now. Yesterday I got a wild hair and decided to repaint the whole thing and re-cover the chairs. I don't have a picture of the whole set together yet, since I am still waiting for lacquer to dry, but here is a before and after shot of my chairs!

I didn't take a picture of the gross chairs. This is a picture I took the LAST time I re-covered them. I swear they were starting to grow hair, they were so nasty!

I used some super cheap clearance fabric to cover them, since I figure with a three and two-year-old they will be destroyed in no time! Well, as you can see, it has been nothing but busy-ness around here lately and it will only get worse! Today I am painting my boys' room and a wall in my living room. What projects are you all working on this week?
~Happy Sewing!~

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Honoring Emma

In a couple weeks a dear friend of mine will be struggling quite a bit. On Sept. 21st last year her sweet baby girl was still born. She was only one pound and would have been her first daughter (she has two amazing little boys). She has had her share of struggles. Her first son was diagnosed with cancer shortly after birth, but beat it and it doing wonderfully. Her second son was born with a cleft palate and they have had their share of surgeries and struggles with that. Then, on top of it all, she lost her little Emma. In her memory, Marissa wanted to start a foundation that would allow mothers going through similar experiences to avoid some of the troubles she did. You see, they don't make burial gowns for micro preemies. The few companies that DO make them sell them for around $30 and charge $50 for overnighting them, which almost everyone must do. Poor Marissa had to send her mom to Build A Bear to look for a wedding dress that might work, but even those were too big! So, we got a group of ladies together the other night and got down to sewing. Marissa doesn't sew, and neither do many of the ladies who came, but we still got a lot done! She calls her foundation Emma's Ensembles. If you'd like to donate money, there is a link on her website. We are making dresses and donating them to local hospitals and funeral homes. As soon as I find a pattern I like, we are going to make boy clothing as well. If you'd be interested in donating fabric or lace or white trim, etc., send me an e-mail and I'll give you an address to send them to. I'm so happy to be part of something so wonderful. It takes a truly great person to take their grief and turn it into a blessing for others. Here's some pictures of our fun sewing night:

The dress in the middle is one that was donated to her by the hospital to use as a burial gown.
This is a pattern I made up . It is open in the back and we are going to add some ribbon or velcro closures. They are generally too fragile to dress, so this makes it easier.
Here are some of the remarkable ladies who joined us to sew!
This is Emma's mom, Marissa. She's an incredible example of quiet strength for me. She told me that she hasn't sewn since 7th grade, but look what an amazing job she did!
As soon as I figure out the best way to do it, I will post a pattern for the dress. They are scarcely 10" tall so the pattern should print out on one page. That way, anyone who would like to donate dresses to their local area can have a pattern.
Please stop by her blog and read about her wonderful story! I love that sewing gives me an opportunity to serve others and forget about myself for a while.
~Happy Sewing~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Where the heck have I been? I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post- I am so sorry! Life has been hectic (<------understatement of the century). I had a three-year-old with the biggest mystery bug in the history of mystery bugs. He had a temperature of 104 for about 6 days so there were many tests and long nights involved. On top of that, I had yet another set of cortisone injections in my neck, which always puts me down and out for a few days. Now that we are away from all of that, I can get back to "normal!" Despite the craziness, I have still managed to find time to work on some projects, just not much time to blog about them! Because I have been down so much, I have spent some time cross-stitching, which was my first crafting love :D I was that 11 year-old-girl with a Suzie Zoo cross-stitch in my lap at the park while my friends played. I can't even remember how many Precious Moments cross-stitches I did, but I always loved the quiet contentment I would feel when working on one. I recently found 'The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery" and fell. in. LOVE. Their designs are beyond adorable and very inexpensive (anywhere from $2-$8) to download. For the longest time, I have been doing a lot of Bent Creek designs over two threads on linen cloth, but these ones from The Frosted Pumpkin are reminiscent of the ones I loved as a girl on the big bulky 14 count Aida cloth using big stitches and bright colors. Here are a few I have completed or been working on:

How adorable are these guys?! This one is called "Toast Jump!" I am painting a turquoise frame to put it in my kitchen!
This is one I have been working on is called "Candy Corn Costume Party" How adorable, right? And super fast to do as well! I sometimes change them up just a bit to make them 'mine' but I think I have yet another addiction. My poor husband.
Sleepy Hollow - Cross Stitch Pattern
This is one I have been working on for the last year or so. It's called "Sleepy Hollow" by Cross Eyed Cricket. Is it not INCREDIBLE? I still have a long way to go and I regret not purchasing the hand-dyed linen to do it on. Instead I took the initiative and dyed some myself. I just couldn't justify $40!
In sewing projects, I have been working on a Christmas gift for a family member in the form of a picnic quilt. I am basing it all on some Michael Miller fabric (Meadowsweet) but the pictures I've taken really aren't doing it much justice!

I am using the patter "Juice Boxes" by Cluck Cluck Sew. It is a very easy pattern and I have loved the simplicity of it so far!
And, finally, I am ITCHING to get going on a project involving these fun fabrics! Halloween is hands-down my all time favorite holiday. I go a little nuts, actually, and I could not resist this amazing hearse print from Robert Kaufman. Do you see the coffin bouncing out the back of the green hearse? HILARIOUS!
I am not sure where the spider fabric is from as it was only available in a FQ with no selvage, but I love it all the same!
These fabrics are from Riley Blake and I just adore them! The ghost is my favorite! I am thinking of doing a cute banner and some pillows using these fabrics. Or a table runner. Or some hair bows for my nieces. The possibilities are endless! Well, that's what I've been up to- what about you? Go check out Freshly Pieced and see what everyone else is up to!
~Happy Sewing!~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, yet again! Man, it has been an insane week :D Last Thursday, I went in for (yet more) cortisone injections in my neck. Three on each side *bleh*. However, the good news is that I believe this time they may actually be working! Two days of bed rest would be well worth a pain free neck :D. Second, we woke up Saturday morning to water running in through our basement window. Yep, my sweet three-year-old decided to turn on the hose and leave it on in the window well. So, now our lovely finished family room in the basement looks like this:

Yeah, hubby! You show that carpet pad who's boss!!

Now, in WIP news, I decided to join up with the I'm-not-sure-yet-if-it's-official Crazy Scrappy Quilt Along with Aneela Hoey of Comfortstitching. It looked like a fun way to burn through my ever growing scrap stash, so of course I was in!
This was my first attempt- not sure if it will make the final cut, since it isn't all monochromatic, but it was a fun one to see up on my design wall for a while!

Attempt #2 ( I love having the chance to use some of my very favorite Heather Ross prints for this! I seriously only have about a 6X8 inch piece of each!)

And finally, #3. I think I'm going to love this QAL. I'm enjoying pulling out scraps I forgot I had. Some I LOVE, some are just meh. But it doesn't matter, because I'm really happy with the final product!
I am working on a few other projects, but no pics yet. Go check out what everyone else is doing over at Freshly Pieced!
~Happy Sewing!~

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Synchronized Squares Completed!

Well, the project is finally finished! For now I am using it temporarily as a quilt for my bed, since our old beat up quilt is full of holes. The animal print really doesn't scream "sexy", ya know? Anywhoo, here's some pictures of the end result!

Here's the back- very scrappy! I used up all the fabric I purchased, which is always the goal.
Here's the border I put around the edge. I like how it brightens the whole thing up. The squares are sewn on top of the white to produce a frayed effect, so once I wash it it should be nice and fuzzy, I hope!
For my pillow cases, I used the blue floral on the front with the yellow on the back. That fabric is a dream to sleep on!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lucky Lucky ME!!

Holy COW!!! I actually won something! Samm over at Stash Manicure has been holding a wonderful giveaway-apalooza called 'The Want To Be Quilter" (see my button on the right) and each day she is giving away something FABULOUS and I actually won on the second day. Imagine my surprise when I saw my name on her wonderful blog! I won a wonderful sewing basket full of amazing high quality sewing goodies all valued at around $120!!! Here is a picture of the goods:

Truly, I feel like the luckiest girl alive right now! Thanks so much, Madame Samm!!

WIP Wednesday

Greetings! I was putting of posting this until later today when I'd finished binding my Synchronized Squares quilt, but then I remembered (duh) that it's Work. In. Progress. Wednesday. Not "Work I've Finished Wednesday". So, here's my progress thus far:

The quilt didn't originally call for sashing, but I added it to make it bigger. It has been a pretty fun pattern, but difficult to get everything to add up. My local JoAnn Fabric store has a problem keeping Kona solids in stock and they ran out of Kona Snow so I had to get a backup fabric because I was too lazy to wait for some (I was in the groove, ya know) so even though the colors match, the 'other' fabric stretched all crazy so some of my squares stretched and made it impossible to line up my seams correctly (grrr). I would care more if this was going to someone else, but since it will be mine to use as another picnic quilt, I am okay with the mess-ups.
AAAAAaaaannnd...guess what I got from Ireland yesterday? My Japanese import fabric swap results! Cindy from Fluffy Sheep Quilting totally delivered on this! I love and have plans for each one of these lovelies!

I got two each of 28 fabrics (if you count there are 27, one pile ended up hidden- oops!)
I swear, some day I will have a camera that will do fabric justice.

A few of my favorites!

This cute little piggy print was my contribution. I found it from a really cute shop on Etsy called "This and That From Japan"
I'm hoping to have more pictures of my Synchronized Squares quilt some time soon.
Go see what everyone else is up to over at Freshly Pieced!
~Happy Sewing!~