Friday, February 28, 2014

February NewFO Challenge

This is my first time joining the NewFO Challenge but this challenge is so easy how can I resist? All you have to do is start a project no finishes required. Heck, I can do that in my sleep! In fact I have done that in my sleep, I start projects in my sleep all the time. Then I wake up and add them to my to do list. That's why my UFO list is so darn long, I'm sleep sewing!

This month I started two baby quilts for two very special to me babies. I finished the ruffled rag quilt for my God-Daughter's baby. You can see it here and I started on the embroidery for a baby quilt for our own new grand baby due in June. 

These blocks are turning out so darn cute but boy are they sew intensive! Each sew out is taking between two and three hours. You read that right. There are between 30,000 and 45,000 stitches in each one and that's a long time to sew on a home machine. I'm happy with the way they're turning our though because the detail in each one is so fantastic. The PJ's each are different with little embellishments that make me want to keep looking at them.

Tiny hearts and a binky for the baby elephant.

That diaper pin just cracks me up. He looks like a dog we had once named Algebra.  

Teddy bears on his PJs!

I can't decide which I like best. I have two more to go and then I'll be ready to start putting these together. I don't have a pattern I'm just winging it so we'll see how it goes. This is what the sewing room looks like right now. Can you say DISASTER AREA!

 Linking up to February NewFO Challenge Linky Party at Cat Patches so take at look at what other creative people have started this month and join in.

Until next time, 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saltine Toffee Crunchies

I've officially hit my limit. Which limit is that you might ask? Remember when I told you that I had donated more than 40 cookbooks to our local library book sale? That should have given you some clue that I have a recipe collection problem. Letting go of those cookbooks was my first step in getting control of that. Still, I kept at least 40 more cookbooks which are my favorites and I just couldn't part with for various reason and there's always the internet and the wonderful food displayed there every day with PICTURES!

Before the cookbook purge.
Enter Pinterest. I love Pinterest, loose myself there sometimes for hours and have to limit my time or I'd get nothing else done, seriously. My favorite thing on Pinterest? Recipes! Instead of just collecting them though I'm determined to try them out and IF I find them worthy I'll pass them on to you and if I don't they'll go into the internet trash can. 

My favorite category of recipe? Dessert. We only eat dessert on weekends so it make take a while to wade through all those recipes I've collected. Oh, woe is me.

Here's my first try-out. This recipe has been all over Pinterest and I was intrigued by the idea of turning saltines into some kind of sweet treat. Didn't sound possible but multiple sources assured me that this stuff was great. I combined them all and came up with this.

Butter and sugar a good start to any dessert.

Once it's melted together pour it all over a layer of saltines in a rimmed baking sheet. This looks like a real mess doesn't it? Don't worry it's gonna be all right. Pop it in the oven and bake for 5 or 6 minutes until it's bubbly.

Dump chocolate chips on top wait a minute and then spread them out. If your chips don't spread easily pop the pan bake in the warm oven for a minute and then spread. Cover with chopped nut and cool.

You're Welcome!

Saltine Toffee Crunchies
Adapted from various internet sources

4 ounces saltine cracker (a whole sleeve of saltines, I weighed them)
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer. Don't worry about the crackers touching or lining up all pretty, it won't matter in the final product.
  3. In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes until the chips are melty and soft. If your chips need some help just slip the tray back in the warm oven for a minute or two. Spread melted chocolate  to cover and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces.
Notes: You can get creative here. How about white chocolate chips or butterscotch or a combo? The topping could be anything that strikes your fancy - any nuts, party sprinkles, crushed peppermint. Whatever.

These are sooooo good and super easy. My Pinterest board is going to be full of great treats I've actually made! Sky's the limit I guess. Don't forget to pin it.

Until next time,

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Year of the Baby Quilt

It may not be a year of baby quilts but it is definitely the winter of baby quilts in my sewing room. Is there anything more joyous to plan, sew and finish than a baby quilt? I don't think so! My God Daughter Katie is expecting her first baby in April and I shared with you here and here the process of making a soft and fuzzy quilt for her baby but I never showed you the finish. 


I ask you, couldn't you just cuddle up with this in a rocking chair? I can just imagine her baby boy playing on the floor on his fuzzy blanky for tummy time. There's a tutorial to help you make one of these for your own little darling under my tutorial tab at the top of the page.

Moving on to the MAIN event - a quilt for my new grand daughter! Baby June (that's what Papa and I are calling her) is due the first part of June so I have no time to waste. I found this adorable owl fabric which blends perfectly with the color scheme in the nursery she'll be sharing with two year old big sister Paige. I don't know yet how I'll use this or even if I will but the important part is that it has inspired me to more forward with designing my project.

I have some fabric from Connecting Threads in my stash that blends perfectly with those owls. I love to mix embroidery and piecing in my quilts and if you check out the quilts tab you'll see ways I've done that in the past. Embroidery designs from Embroidery Library, Baby Animals in Pajamas, so cute but so stitch dense. Each design is around 50,000 stitches and takes up to two and a half hours to stitch if nothing goes amiss (your threads never break, tangle, twist or ...). Those kind of things NEVER happen to me!  See my Screw-up Fairy post if you don't believe me.

8 1/2 inch blocks with 2 1/2 inch sashing blocks I think. What do you think? I'll keep stitching and playing. 


Finally, I managed to complete my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for February. The February color is pink and that was the challenge for me. PINK! Up until two years ago I never touched the stuff. I'm the mother of three sons, grandmother of four grandsons and until darling Claire came into my life I never had any occasion to buy, use or consort with pink. I did manage to find some very old, very small scraps of pink in my stash and came up with these three blocks for the RCC.

Isn't it amazing how changing the orientation of a few pieces can so radically change the block? Geometry baby! That dark pink is a polyester blend (gasp) and the light pink is so thin you could read newspaper through it. I can see I'm going to have to go shopping, poor pitiful me. After all, come June I'll have three grand daughters to sew for!

As usual on Mondays I'm linking up to Patchwork Times and Design Wall Monday - thanks Judy.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let's Boogie

I want to share my latest gadget love. First of all just let me say that I'm a fool for technology. If I had lots of money I'd be the idiot that stood in line to buy that Google Glass thing cuz it just looks so whiz bang cool even though I have no idea what it actually does. I'm saved from myself by my financial limitations, whew! That's not to say that all this technology isn't just as daunting and frustrating to me as it is to the rest of us, maybe even more so because I get in WAY over my head and have to gnash my teeth in frustration because I mostly don't know what I'm doing and I spend way to much time on the telephone with those very nice, helpful folks in Bangladesh or wherever.

Boogie Board 8.5-Inch LCD Writing Tablet

This is it my Boogie Board Writing Tablet. I don't know why it looks so dirty in this photo it was hard to get a good picture. Doesn't look like much does it although it is a snazzy color.  It comes in lots of colors actually, I chose red so I wouldn't loose it. It's thin and light weight. It's about as thick as two credit cards. Inexpensive too. I got mine through Amazon for about $22, I saw it last week at Costco too. But, what's it for you ask?

It's for taking notes or doodling or whatever you would use a piece of paper for only this is not paper and that's the best part, at least for me. I'm always writing things down on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, sticky notes. Temporary things like web addresses, one time phone numbers, calculations, to do lists, then all those little pieces of paper float around the house forever. It drives me nuts! Using this LCD pad, once I'm done with whatever I've written I press the button and it's erased and ready for the next note or doodle.

This pad has NO MEMORY and doesn't upload to a computer. It's like a grown-up Etch-A-Sketch. It's great for quilters to practice their free motion quilting moves before actually going to the machine. I have a friend who recently had vocal cord surgery and could not speak for a time, this little pad was a very handy tool for communication.

There you have it my latest gadget love. One more step on the road to keeping myself more organized and less cluttered. What about you? Do you have a gadget around the house that makes your life easier or more organized? Sound off.

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion only I receive no compensation or consideration from the product mentioned. I bought this myself with my own money!

Until next time,

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Screw-up Fairy Was Here

A couple of years ago my friend Jeannie gave me this plaque for my sewing room because she knows me, yes she does. This fairy spent quite a bit of time with me this past week, the little devil! 

I was happily zipping along, quilting my valentine table runner when I happened to glance to my right and what did I see?  Look closely, see that rat's nest of thread. What the hell? Where did that come from?

My machine was threaded like this. The red thread was through the machine and giving me no problems. The white thread was un-threaded and just sitting there. But as I had been sewing they had somehow been un-spooling together and creating this wondrous mess off to the side for lord knows how long, completely unnoticed by me! Oblivious much?

Meanwhile the sewing machine was un-phased and continued to sew a perfect seam! My fairy companion was working overtime on this one. Chris says the red thread is in the shape of a heart if you squint cuz she loves me don't you know. She should love me I certainly give her a fine home and plenty to keep her occupied!

So, what's the result of all this you might ask? Remember, I was experimenting with using my embroidery machine to quilt this runner (read about it here) and while I didn't get perfect placement with the design I think it turned out pretty anyway. I've bumped up the contrast in the photo in hopes that you can see it a little better but red thread on red fabric does make it hard to see. That was on purpose. I didn't want it to be too obvious for my first attempt. 

The overall table runner came out so cute and served as the perfect back drop for my valentine bouquet of red roses from Chris.  

 One more little thing on Valentine's Day but really an idea you could use for any day. Our quilting group, the Needle Nellies had a Valentine party last week and we exchanged silly valentines just like when we were kids. I wanted to do something a little special for our hostess Kathy so instead of a kiddy valentine I made her this mug rug for her morning/afternoon libation, finished my new favorite way with a simple raggedy edge.

Here's hoping the Screw-up Fairy doesn't pay you too many visits this week. and remember -
"One who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything." Edward J. Phelps (lawyer and diplomat, 1822-1900)

Linking up with Judy's Patchwork Times and Design Wall Monday - go on over and get inspired by all the wonderful, creative people you'll find there. 

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday at Creations-Quilts, Art, Whatever by Nina Marie

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ahhh, It Rained!

Last week I wrote a post about our desperate need for rain and this past weekend we had some wonderful relief in the form of 13 inches of blessed rain. While the rest of the country shivered in the Polar Vortex here in the Sierra Foothills we were dancing/rejoicing in the first real winter we've felt so far this season. I got to wear my new rain boots for the first time! Aren't they the bee's knees? They're fleece lined too. Flowery and girly they make me super happy splashing around in the muddy chicken yard.

We've been waiting since the beginning of fall for the damp to come on so that we could complete a major farm chore - the burning of the brush we've cleared all spring and summer. This stuff is piled up all over just waiting for the rainy weather to make it safe to start a fire and that just has not happened. See those little arrows? They mark the beginning and end of just ONE brush pile, the one closest to the house. It make not look like much from this vantage point but it includes at least a hundred small trees and untold branches as bigger than my arm. There were four piles like this on the property that needed to be taken care of. Those of you who don't live in the country may not realize that there's a law in California requiring property owners to keep the land cleared at least 100 feet around your house for fire safety which means taking out the understory of forest property. Fire is the number one safety threat especially since we are in our third year of severe drought so Chris and I take brush clearing very seriously.

The minute the rain stopped we were out the door and had burn piles blazing. We had four fires like this going non-stop for three days. It's dirty, exhausting work and super satisfying. This is the ONLY kind of fire you ever want to see in the forest - a controlled burn!

Until next time,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Personal Photo Challenge - A Street Scene

This is my first time participating in the Personal Photo Challenge hosted by Donna at Cottage Days and Journeys.

A Personal Photo Challenge

The challenge this month was to photograph street scenes, a challenge in and of itself to someone like me who lives way out in the country. The I remembered that I had taken a couple of pictures of our town's Founder's Day festivities at the end of summer that might fill the bill so I went searching through the picture folders. All my photos are taken with a basic Canon Power Shot point and shoot camera. It's a challenge for me for sure to present my photos at all, so taking a deep breath and jumping in.

This is definitely my favorite. I was snapping away when I glanced over my shoulder and saw this couple in the middle of the street completely caught up in the music playing nearby. They were oblivious to everyone else around them and just enjoying the day. Happy accident that the balloons in the background match her dress.

These two musicians were engrossed in their pickn' behind the bandstand.

I was interested to see if removing the color would add to the mood of concentration that I was trying to convey in this  picture.

Who doesn't love a parade?

 Be sure to click on the link and see the other challenge participants work. Thanks Donna for providing the forum for stretching ourselves and I'm looking forward to next months challenge of WORDS.

Until next time,