Archive for January, 2010

Sunday Stash- Deer Valley, originally uploaded by Indie House.

This fabric is pretty different from my usual choices, I’m not a big red fan. Pink absolutely but red not so much. But I couldn’t get this fabric out of my head and when it went on sale I figured why not. I think it’s going to become an apron…

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heather ross quilt 013, originally uploaded by Indie House.

The last bit of grey fabric I needed to finish this quilt top came in the mail Thursday evening and when I had database trouble and couldn’t work from home Friday I decided to try and get this finished. At least I can say I accomplished something 😉

I have to say I was uncertain during the process how it would come out but now I’m in love and I think the aqua is the perfect counterpoint to the otherwise pink and grey color scheme. This won’t be gifted for a couple months but I hope the recipient loves it as well.

I backed the quilt with a charcoal grey fleece.

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It was more a function of using my stash then a design choice but I think it works. And it will be super soft and snuggly for a baby! At one point I bought a ton of fleece thinking I could make my husband and I fleece jackets. That never happened and now I need to figure out something to use all this fleece for! At least I bought it all at 50% off and now that I know it works so well with quilts I imagine the rest will be used for quilt backs too.

heather ross quilt 001

I quilted with a shiny grey thread that’s actually supposed to be used from embroidery but I like the idea of the sheen against the solid fabrics. In the end you can’t really tell and I probably won’t try that trick again. I do love the grey thread though, I think it adds a nice element without overwhelming the lighter colors.

Although this is technically my second finish of the year (my first was this Red Letter Day quilt) it is the first that was started and finished this year! Now that it’s done I can get back to my Bee Modern Quilt.

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Pimm, originally uploaded by Dolls for Friends.

I don’t know that I’ll ever outgrow my love for sweet stuffed animals. It doesn’t help that there are soo many handcrafted options out there! I could easily fill entire bookshelfs with these guys.

Pirate Owlie, originally uploaded by Vivika’s Felt Creatures.

baby dragon with blanket, originally uploaded by allysonmmurphy.

Cartney’s present again, originally uploaded by casscette.

Amigurumi Mama Owl, originally uploaded by Pepika.

Smirky, originally uploaded by herzensart.

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banana cake 009

So I’ll be honest my husband’s frosting technique could use a little work… He hates to frost cakes so he simply poured the freshly made (and thus still warm) frosting over the cake and let it flow down the sides to pool on the plate. Not that any of that matters to me when a cake and frosting taste this good!

The cake is good, nice and moist with a solid but not overpowering banana flavor. The frosting is sublime! It took me years to find a good chocolate frosting and now that I’ve found it I want to put it on everything 🙂

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa and evaporated milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.

2. Cook stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark, shiny essence.

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3. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

4. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a smooth. thick frosting.

5. You can either let it cool and spread it onto your cake with a knife or spatula OR you can simply pour the still warm frosting over your cake. The choice is yours 😉

Banana Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I’ll let mine go nice and brown and then stick then in the freezer until I’m ready to bake)

Banana Cake Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt stirring with a fork to combine well.

3. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar, beating well for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for another 2-3 minutes making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until you have a smooth batter.

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4. Stir half of the mixture of dry ingredients into the wet until it disappears into the batter. Stir in the buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed bananas.

5. Pour the batter into the pans, evenly dividing it between the two.

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6. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks. After 10 minutes turn the cakes out of the pans to cool completely, top side up on the wire racks.

We didn’t let the frosting or the cake cool and you know what? It tasted just as good, maybe even better then if we had waited ;).

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Worktable Wednesday- Potholder, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I joined the Potholder Pass a couple days ago and I’ve already gotten started. But I’m not sure if this will be the final potholder or not. This is only a tease of what it will finally look like but I’m worried it might be a bit to kitschy…

I’ll post some more photos as I work on it today.

Update #1-

potholder 001

Update # 2-

potholder 004

I don’t know… I think it’s something my partner will like which is the whole point but because it’s outside of my comfort zone I’m hesitant. I think I might send this and two more traditional square potholders just in case…

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Clayton Homes I-House, originally uploaded by GreenBuildingTalk.

One day my husband and I would like to buy some land a build our little “green dream” home. It’s going to take a couple years and the selling of our house in NC to accomplish but in the meantime I can plot and plan. I thought I would share what I’ve found in case anyone else is curious about the options out there.

Driving down the highway coming back from NC I caught a glimpse of a Clayton I-Home. I couldn’t see much detail as my husband was flooring it in a desperate attempt to get home before gridlock hit. Visually I love the look of the I-House. It’s got clean lines and a modern feel to it. And while it doesn’t have a tower (my dream home would have a tower that I could use as a quilting studio) it does have a rooftop deck. The one bedroom design comes in at just under 1000 sq feet but it feels a little too small. The clothes washer and dryer are beside the fridge and there is no room for a dining room table. So if we went for it we would go for the two bedroom unit that has a utility/laundry room. The flex unit (which also has it’s own bathroom) would be used as a quilting studio 🙂 and my husband would have a detached garage/woodworking shop.

Of course we wonder how green the I-home is. The roof is designed for rain catchment and solar panels but I’m not sure how green the building materials are, besides the bamboo flooring they advertise. Since it’s a prefabricated home they can maximize whatever materials they use and supposedly have minimized waste to a couple trash cans! The price is right for us, $100,000 complete with fixtures, appliances etc but ultimately I think I would want more control over the final design details like flooring, cabinets, appliances, fixtures etc. Hmmm perhaps this isn’t our green dream home but it certainly is cool!

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fabric 010, originally uploaded by Indie House.

“One Yard Wonders” was a must have on my Christmas list this year and thankfully Santa was kind enought to oblige me. Of course the danger in getting any crafting book is that after the first perusal it will sit gathering dust on the bookshelf.

To prevent this I’ve decided to make at least five projects from this book in the next six months. It may not seem like a lot when you consider that there are 101 projects in the book but well here’s the deal. Like any other crafting/sewing book 1/3-2/3 of the projects are repeats of projects you can find in any other crafting/sewing book or find free instructions for online. There are slight variations of course but at some point an apron is an apron and a bag for laundry is just a laundry bag. When you buy a book like this you have to go into it realizing that and either the author’s style/concept or a few more original projects make the book worthwhile. For me it was the concept, I buy a lot of fabric that doesn’t match any other fabric I have because I’ve “fallen in love” with it. My default purchase is one yard because anything less seams like it won’t go very far.

My first project is the laptop sleeve. I’m traveling to Switzerland and Germany for work in a couple weeks and I want to protect my laptop for the journey.

laptop sleeve 035

I wanted something somewhat professional since this is a work trip so I used this bold black and white home decorate weight fabric from Alexander Henry. I don’t usually waste good fabric for the lining of a project and this was no exception, instead I used a purple/berry kona cotton. It’s jewel tone a nice counter point to the black and white print.

laptop sleeve 005

As I mentioned the concept of the book is a collection of projects using one yard of fabric but this project only took about 1/2 yard depending on the size of your laptop. I skipped the applique piece, which is what makes their laptop sleeve different but I didn’t really want a wiener dog decorating my work laptop sleeve.

The instructions in the pattern are concise and for the most part easy to follow. I got a bit tripped up trying to figure out if I was putting the right or wrong sides together but it’s easy enough to figure out.

laptop sleeve 009

This project was the first time I’ve ever dropped my feed dogs. I know it’s not a big deal to some people but for me it was a bit scary. I’ve always kept my feed dogs firmly in place and stuck to straight line quilting. My stitches are far from perfect but I can see improvement even over the course of this small project. Honestly, you can’t even see the quilting on the outside so it doesn’t really matter.

laptop sleeve 011

The only tricky part of this project for me was the double fold bias tape.

laptop sleeve 025

I don’t use it that often and the instructions in the book are sadly lacking. Most of these books have a small section at the front going into more detail about the specifc techniques used in the projects. I realize space is a premium and they can’t explain everything in detail in any book but I still think they could have done a better job. At a loss for guidance from the book I went to the internet and my favorite double fold bias tape tutorial from the Angry Chicken.

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That accomplished my laptop sleeve was done!

laptop sleeve 027

The whole project only took a couple hours and I’m quite happy with my new laptop sleeve. It fits my computer nice and snuggly and will certainly protect it from getting banged around during my world travels. Next up I’m going to make a small drawstring pouch for the cord so it doesn’t get lost or tangled in my bag.

Don’t have the book but want to make a laptop sleeve? You can find free instructions from Sew, Mama, Sew here.

Want one but don’t want to make it yourself? You can buy one here.

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