Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SMS's 2010 Reflections

On the cusp of a new year, it's customary to look back on the year leaving us;  the best of times, the worst of times, adventures, goals, and thoughts towards what comes next.  Sure I could answer these in context with my personal life, but who would want to read about that (besides maybe my mom :)?

One of my favorite blogs/fabric source/leader in the sewing revolution - Sew, Mama, Sew - asked its readers for input on the following questions regarding the sewing industry in 2010.  So here's what I think....

The Needle Shop - Chicago, IL
Looking back on the sewing scene of 2010, what trends stand out in your mind?
Well, first of all I think that sewing itself has really taken off this year in that new sewers of a new generation seem to be popping up everywhere.  I won't get into how thrilling this is for me (you can read about it here, if you like), but I find it pretty darn exciting.  In the world of sewing, what stands out in my mind is how many collections are being released that include more than just quilting cottons.  Voile, laminates, knits, velveteen, double gauze - I'm totally loving it! 

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)

I'm still completely smitten with Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane.  I just put in an order for some laminate from this collection for a new kitchen tablecloth.

I love blogs.  I'd get so much more done if I didn't read so darn many.  But the one I love the most is Posy Gets Cozy.  This is the first blog I ever started reading, and it's still my favorite.  Oh how I'd love to live in Alicia's world!

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)
In addition to Nicey Jane, I love Heather Ross' Far Far Away II (of course), and can't wait to see what she's coming out with for the spring!  Better start saving my money - why must her lines always cost twice as much?

What was the best thing you made in 2010? (Be sure to share a photo!)
Hmmm.... I don't think there was one specific thing, but I'm super proud that I conquered my fear and tackled sewing garments!  I still haven't made anything for myself that I'd dare wear in public, but I think the clothes I made for Phoebe turned out pretty darn cute - but then again, she looks cute in anything


What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?
I'm pretty much insanely in love with this dress that the bride made herself.

What do you think 2011 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)
I'm hoping that the trend continues towards printing on fabric other than quilting cotton.  I'm really wishing for a great new collection on double cotton gauze.  I made a quilt entirely out of Far Far Away and it's seriously the coziest quilt ever.

Anything you’re ready for the sewing world to get over?
I'm sick and tired of seeing those kids clothes that have a ton of huge oversized ruffles.  Don't get me wrong, I love ruffles - I even got this for Christmas (yay!) - but those clothes that look like the child is being eaten alive by ruffles in bright, garish, contrasting prints - ugh!

What’s on your sewing agenda for 2011? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?
Since we just moved into our first house, I have got major major home dec plans that I'm super excited about.  Curtains, pillows, tablecloths, bedding, lots of accessories for my daughter's playroom - and I've even got plans to cover a whole wall of my studio in starched fabric!

Happy 2011 everyone!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Wrap-up


Oh Christmas.  We have so much fun together, but by the time you actually get here, I am glad to see you leave.  I don't usually stress over holidays, but with moving and dealing with a 1 1/2 year old who has an early case of the terrible two's, I'm ready to get things back to normal around here.

Nonetheless, we had a lovely holiday.


I made a promise to myself that I would take it easy this year and not make any gifts, but as usual, I did not listen to my words of wisdom.  I completely blame Rae and her Lickety Split Bag Pattern.  I even got an email from her that included lots of evil laughter.  Darn you Rae and your awesome patterns!


I wish I had the means to shower everyone in my life with elaborate Christmas presents, but alas, living on the salary of a second year resident and a stay at home mom doesn't allow one to be very flashy.  So this year it was chocolate to the rescue!  More specifically Chocolate-Orange Hazelnut Bark.   I whipped up nine batches of this baby and packaged them all up for gifts. 

Please forgive my massacred orange pic above.  I actually ran out of oranges at the end and had to resort to clementines, which don't skin nearly as well.  Lots of pith scraping....


This is my absolute favorite bark recipe (any other chocolate and orange fans out there?), and I follow Martha's directions pretty closely.  My only changes include mixing in some good, dark chocolate along with the semi-sweet, roasting the hazelnuts beforehand, and generously sprinkling the entire thing with fleur-de-sel.  I love me some sweet and salty. 


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  Anyone get anything super exciting?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Decking the halls

Whew!  Why does it always seem like time moves faster the closer you get to Christmas?  And as you get older for that matter....

First things first.  The giveaway winner is number #233 - Carrie, who said, 
          "I love the Heather Ross variety you have here! Thank you for the giveaway.  My wish list consists of a Barnes & Noble giftcard (to load my nook) and anything handmade...I asked my dad to carve me a wooden gnome!"

Congratulations Carrie!  Your package is going in the mail tomorrow.


So yay for Christmas decorating!  I'm a huge fan and have been known to sneak them up before Thanksgiving at times, so it was really difficult to hold off for so long this year while we finished up moving, unpacking, painting, etc.


Some of my Christmas stuff still seems to be hiding somewhere, so I whipped up some new decorations in the meantime.


I'm just loving these large felt hearts that I picked up at Target for only $1 each!  And the garland is simply pom pons strung on some yarn that I made after finally breaking down and buying this, which turns out to be my current favorite craft gadget.



I made these garlands out of paint chips using this tutorial.  And yes, the ceiling is still currently pink.


My small collection of putz houses.  The large one is a knockoff I got at Target last year, but the small ones were picked up at an estate sale over the summer where I paid a mere $3 for the whole lot!


All of our stockings were made using those felt kits you can find at Joanns.  I have one at my parents house that my mom made before I was even born, and she then made two more for RJ and I when we got married and moved out.  I made Phoebe's last year for her first Christmas.  The three little ones on the end are for our cats :)


Pardon the mess.  And that little corner in the back is my makeshift sewing area.  I'm hoping Santa will leave me some flooring for my studio so I can start moving in!


These six point snowflakes were all cut out individually, and then I taped them together all Tord-like.


Doilies that have been soaked in fabric stiffener.


Maybe next year I'll get around to sewing a tree skirt. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Past Project Friday

Every Friday I will be posting some sort of crafty project that I have completed in the past.  It could be anything from baking, to sewing, needlecrafts, art, decorating, etc.

Just a reminder that this is your last chance to enter the giveaway!  Comments close Friday night at whatever time I actually make it to the computer :)

Quilting in the ditch
This is one of the earlier quilts I made, so I apologize for the photo quality, and for the fact that I didn't even take a picture of the finished product!  What the heck was I thinking?

Cats hindering my photo shoot
What is it with cats and quilts?
But at least I got a couple shots of the finished quilt top.  It's my first (and so far only) strip quilt that I made entirely of vintage sheets.  Have I mentioned the love affair that I have going on with vintage sheets?  It's serious.

Seams - pre-ironing
I made this lap quilt for the the sweetest, most wonderful woman in the entire world just after she was diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago.  I was thinking that she needed something cuddly and cheery to take with her when she went in for her chemo treatments.  Sadly, she passed away last year, but I hope it brought her comfort during some rough times.

Strip Quilt (plus cats)

I've been thinking about this quilt a lot lately and I'm in the process of making a large king sized version for our bed.  The strips are 2 1/2" by varying lengths, and then I quilt the entire thing in the ditch, so it requires a lot of time at the machine and TONS of thread.

I'm good on the thread part, so I'm hoping Santa will bring me some extra free time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Local craftiness

If you are looking for the giveaway, click here - or just read the latest post and scroll down :)

It was a great time for craft fairs in Ann Arbor last weekend.  Both DIYpsi and Tiny Expo were going on at the same time, and I was able to hit up both of them to score some gifts (and some lovelies for myself).

One of my purchases was this wonderful print from Alisa Bobzien which will be residing in my kitchen.
I also picked up some fantastically priced stationary from Junk Mail Greetings.  You should definitely check out their store, they have some darn witty paper goods.

But hands down, my favorite purchase was from the booth of Teresa Petersen.


I'd seen her last summer at Shadow Art Fair, and ever since then I could not stop thinking about this amazing set of Holy Trading Cards.  I grew up in a big Catholic family and holy cards were always floating around.  Plus, I just love anything to do with iconic art and the saints - it's always my first stop when I hit the art museum.

Anyways, not only are Teresa's collages fantastic, but each one is titled and has a story on the back.

_DSC9087Jesus and the Prodigal Squirrel
The morning of the prodigal squirrel's return, Jesus welcomed him and taught him the importance of a healthy breakfast.


Jesus Helps the Owl Clean Up
When the owl's kitchen turned into a mess after his birthday bash, Jesus showed him the way to gleaming cookware.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Did I mention that there's also an Angel of Craft Projects?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow, painting, and a giveaway


Oh how I love those weekends where you lazily lounge around in your pajamas till noon and get dressed purely to visit the Dairy Queen that is situated a mere 1/10th of a mile from your house.  I kid you not - it's pretty freaking awesome - and yes the ground is covered in snow, but ice cream has no season in our family.  We've lived here for only two weeks and I'm pretty sure they know us by name already. 

But we were up and moving extra early this morning because.....


It snowed!


For the first big snow to hold off until mid-December here in Michigan is quite rare, so we were pretty excited.  Phoebe didn't even get a chance to change out of her sock monkey jammies before heading out into the winter wonderland.

Our weekend also involved lots of painting.   After painting a dozen swatches on the wall, and pouring over almost every paint chip created, we went for it and painted our kitchen Lemon Pound Cake.  And we hated it.   So I got to spend both naptimes and bedtime repainting it Corn Husk Green, and goodness, it looks about ten million times better.  I'll have some pictures once I finish painting the trim and ceiling (yes, the ceiling is currently painted calamine lotion pink.  I'm still not quite sure what the previous owners were thinking).

Now, onto the giveaway! I just want to say "hello and welcome!" to all of the new visitors here for Giveaway Day.  I'm offering up an assortment of scraps from my stash of Heather Ross fabric.  I might have mentioned a few times that Heather is my absolute favorite fabric designer, and what better way to introduce you to my blog than to share with you some of my favorite things!

Heather Ross Giveaway

I've got quite an assortment of pieces left over from my various Heather quilts, so if you'd like a chance to win, please leave a comment telling me what you are hoping to receive this Christmas.  I'm still really behind on my shopping and would love some great ideas.
And I don't know about you, but I hate it when people make you tweet, like, follow, blog, etc. for extra entries (who has time to do all of that?), so I'll make it easy on you and just leave it to one entry per person.  But if you'd like to add me to your reader, that would be awesome :)

**Comments are closed!  Announcing the winner tomorrow :) **

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tune in Monday....

Because I will be participating in Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day!  I'm not quite sure what the prize will be just yet (I'll have to paw around all of my not-yet-unpacked boxes of craftyness), but it will definitely contain some fabric - including some prints by Heather Ross!

And because I can't leave a blog post without a picture, here's some Christmas cuteness from last year.  Because you know I haven't gotten around to even thinking about this year's Christmas card yet!

Christmas Card 2009

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We all have our priorities

So we've been in our new house for a little over a week now and our kitchen still looks like this.


I had gotten it cleaned up and put together at one point, and then my husband came home last night with yet another truck load of all the random bits and pieces of things that we still hadn't packed up from the apartment. Boxes half unpacked, paint samples on the walls, counters completely covered in clutter...

So how do I choose to spend Phoebe's naptime?  Making cookies, of course!


I can't describe how much I love these cookies.  They are a soft, chewy gingerbread with butterscotch chips.  Even my husband - who hates gingerbread - loves these. 


I use the recipe from here, and my only changes are that I add a whole lot more of the amount of spice that it calls for, add some nutmeg, and use about a half a cup of dark molasses - because I just love molasses.  I probably go through at least five jars during the holiday season with all of the gingerbread I make. 


So I have two tips for making awesome cookies....
First of all, use a baking stone.  They cook evenly all around, the bottoms brown perfectly, and I have seriously never burned anything while them.
My next tip is to invest in a cookie scoop.  People thought I was incredibly silly when put one on my wedding registry, but it makes the nicest, most uniform cookies that look fantastic every time and you never have to get your hands all goopy.  Not to mention that I use it all the time in addition to cookie baking - meatballs, fruit, ice cream, candy making...  I promise you won't be sorry!


This was also my first time using my new oven, and I think it made them all that more delicious.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Past Project Friday

Every Friday I will be posting some sort of crafty project that I have completed in the past.  It could be anything from baking, to sewing, needlecrafts, art, decorating, etc.

Phoebe's Lambie

This weeks Past Project Friday comes from last Easter.  Phoebe's lambie was made using Rashida's pattern from her book, I Love Patchwork.  I really can't express how much I love this little lamb - I seriously thought about keeping her for myself, but she deserves to be loved and squeezed and cuddled and fed grilled cheese by my little lambie.

OMG - the Easter Bunny came!!

I just can't resist that gummy smile :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Drowning in paint chips

Thanks for being patient during my few and far between posts!  I've been running around like mad, trying to create some sort of order amongst all of the half-unpacked boxes and random pieces of furniture scattered throughout, all while catering to the tiny dictator of the house, known as my toddler.
Paint chips

My first order of business is to get the living room, dining room, and kitchen painted, since I refuse to put up any Christmas decorations until I can tolerate the color palette in this house!  I really like to paint - I find the entire process quite theraputic and I just love surrounding myself with color. 

Amazingly, the most stressful part for me is actually picking the color.  First I raid the paint store of almost every paint chip they have, spread them all over the floor, tape them to the walls, and agonize over finding the perfect shade for days (sometimes weeks).  And more times than not, once the room is painted I find something about the color that is just not right, so I start the entire process over and repaint (much to my husband's chagrin).

These blues/teals are going on a wall in my living room.  Since taking this picture, I painted the wall using the color swatch on the very top, ended up hating it, and already repainted it something of a more muted grey/blue which I'm completely in love with.  Stay tuned for the finished pictures.

And now - onto the dining room!