Thursday, December 21, 2017

Moda Countdown to Christmas

So far, I have 12 of the Moda Countdown to Christmas blocks finished. I love these blocks so much, that I've been neglecting my Christmas to-do list so I could work on them.

I'm going to try and get these caught up before Christmas. After the holidays, I always seem to lose my enthusiasm for anything Christmas-y and I'm ready to get it all put away so I can move on to spring. But I really want to have this finished now so it'll be ready to put out the day after Thanksgiving!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Best Indoor Snowballs

A few years ago, our Christmas decor was primarily snowmen. I had lots of ornaments and stuffed snowmen and figurines and wall hangings and table runners - everything "snowman". I also had fake snow to sprinkle around and the glittery felt snow table covers. I just needed some snowballs.

So digging around through my crafting/sewing stuff, I found an old piece of that white polyester quilt batting (from the days before I even knew there were different kinds of batting!). I cut a big chunk off and tried to wad it up into a ball. That didn't work at all!

But then I tried cutting it into strips and rolling the strips into a ball.  Perfect!

To make a bucket of snowballs, get a crib or twin size polyester batting from the fabric/craft store. Cut strips about an inch and a half wide by 2 or 2-1/2 feet long. (Wider strips do not work better.)  Start rolling from one end in all directions around the ball. When you get to the end, kind of stretch the batting out - without tearing it - and smooth it onto the ball.

This is one of those things that takes longer to explain than to do. It's super fast and easy. And it makes snowballs that could hit just about anything without knocking it over. Great for an indoor snowball fight!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Adding 2

I got these little bus quilts (mostly) done on Tuesday - I just had a little bit of binding that needed to be finished Wednesday. This first one is made up of a few blocks that once again I quit part way through an event. The plan was to make 20 blocks - I made 12. Nine of them found their way into this little 36" X 36" quilt:

Even though I like the blocks, I don't think they're very kid-like. Not really whimsical or bright and fun. So I added this tossed alphabet backing to try and "kid it up". Hmm...I think I like the back better than the front!

The second one I made is mostly from leftover scraps of a bundle. I added a Kona solid and came up with this simple 40" X 40" quilt:

Now I need to get back to making those darling Countdown to Christmas blocks.

Jeez, I sure hope some of those Cinderella mice are taking care of all the Christmas things that I need to be getting done!   :)

Linking up with OhScrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gift Tags

I printed out the sweetest gift tags a couple days ago and sat down last night and got them all cut out. Then I punched holes in them and tied a little piece of baker’s twine to them.

I usually run out of tags before my gifts are wrapped and then I end up cutting sad little pieces of scrap wrapping paper into squares and writing on those. But not this year! Hehehe!!

Here’s a link to the blog where I got them - they’re free, although you may have sign up for emails or register to get them.

The link will take you to the home page. From there, click on “printables”.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Few More Christmas Blocks

I can't even explain how cute these little Moda Bake Shop blocks are! Their petite 6" finished size is just adorable. I have to tell you - if you can squeeze out any extra time this month, you should be making these. I'm just using scraps of Christmas reds and greens and a variety of white-on-white scraps.

Here's a photo of mine so far:

I'm already thinking and planning some different setting options. But, I won't make any decisions until I see what Moda comes up with (which is bound to be better than what I could dream up! :)

Here's a link to the first day/first block.

I've got a couple more of those bus quilts almost ready to quilt up, so I'm going to have to pull myself away from these blocks.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Countdown to Christmas blocks

I tried really hard (to no avail) to resist the Moda Bake Shop's Countdown to Christmas blocks. They are sharing a 6" block every day in December until Christmas. The blocks are so darn cute. And only 6" finished - how much time could they take?!?!!  Ha! Well, I'm in it now so I'll see how far I can go. Here are the first two I made:

I took these pictures in the evening - the whites are actually true white.

I believe they're going to offer some layout options at the end of the series. I hope to be caught up by then - what else do I have to do all month?  ;)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Pillow Cases

Wow - one of the unexpected benefits of this 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge is all the stuff I'm getting done!

Yesterday, I made these 3 pillow cases - one for each of our grandchildren. We have two granddaughters (4 and 7) that live here in Vegas and one grandson (4) who lives in Montana. He and his mom will be here for Christmas, so we're having a big sleepover with everyone on Christmas Eve! I can't wait!

(I've also ordered new jammies for the little kiddos, but they're not here yet.)

These kids are all so much fun! It's going to be a great Christmas.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

RSC2016 Update

Last year was my first year participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I got a late start and spent most of the year trying to catch up. I chose a scrappy bow tie quilt made up of 2" finished blocks. Nearly 800 of them!

I was so excited to get it all put together and add an appliqued floral border. I wanted to do the applique before I put the borders on so I wouldn't have to do so much twisting and turning of the large quilt. (This quilt top was surprisingly heavy - I assume it's because the extra small blocks have a lot of seam allowances on the back side. In fact, they almost cover the backs of the blocks, so it's like the quilt has twice the normal amount of fabric.)

Anyway, I made the borders but when I laid them out to pin to the quilt, the vines didn't meet at the corners. I felt pretty dumb for not having the foresight to see that was going to happen. And at that point, the quilt immediately found a new home crumpled up in the closet!

I posted a picture on Instagram with just one border and mentioned how I messed up and had kind of given up on it. Then I received some kind and encouraging words from @redbirdquiltco.

I did eventually get it back out and put together as best I could. I made four more flowers and tried to make the vines "grow" out of the corners.

It's a bright and cheerful quilt - it'll never be a show quilt. But, it never would have anyway...even if the borders had been perfect.

And now I'm a big fan of the saying "finished is better than perfect"!

Friday, December 8, 2017

An Elegant Pasta Dish

I have a wonderful pasta recipe to share. It's a fantastic dish and a nice change from some of the typical holiday meals.

Capellini with Salmon and Lemon-Dill-Vodka Sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups flaked broiled salmon
10 ounces capellini (angel hair pasta)

Cook onion in oil in a 3-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned - about 6 minutes. Add broth, cream, vodka and salt; boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced to 2 cups - approximately 40-50 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pepper.  Reserve 1/2 cup of sauce, then add the salmon to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until salmon is just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

While salmon is heating, cook pasta in a 6-qt pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in colander. Return pasta to pot and toss with reserved sauce and cooking water. Serve pasta immediately with fish sauce spooned over the top.

yield: 4 servings

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pot Holder Gifts

I like to make little gifts that my grandchildren can give their teachers during the holidays. This year they will need 4 gifts. So I decided to make pot holders. That seems like something everyone could use.

I sure hope I'm not the only one who goes through pot holders like Kleenex! Mine get dipped, sauced, stickied, melted, fried, boiled and baked. Sometimes, a little over-baked:

*thanksgiving 2017

Thank goodness my husband was wandering around the kitchen looking for something to snack on. He opened the oven to see how the turkey was doing and pulled out the pot holder pictured above, saying, "this looks done!".

So, I'm going to pretend this happens all the time to everyone else and make holiday pot holders. I started out with the set shown below - kind of baking themed. I made 2 of these sets. (They're the same - one is just flipped so you can see the fabric on the back.)

Then I made this set - a little more general holiday. I really, really like these pot holders. So I pulled out the fabric and looked for another style of ornament to make a couple more.

I made two more pot holders and one more towel, to finish up with these 2 sets:

Now I probably need to make a few more for myself!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another Five On The Way

I finished 3 more little "bus quilts" and shipped them, along with the two batik quilts from a couple days ago, up to Montana.

There was this happy quilt made mostly from some old Joel Dewberry scraps:

This next one is one that makes me happy because I started with 4 appliqued blocks (from a quilt along that I fell behind on and, know ;)

I simply added some square blocks from the scrap bin and had a little quilt in no time.

I've had this Bonnie Hunter Bricks and Stones quilt pinned forever. It was super fast to put together. Seriously. Fast.

This shipment brings my total number of HeadStart kiddie quilts to 12.

I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Skinny Pillows as Decor

....or a gift for someone - a teacher or your hair stylist (like I'm doing!)

Quick tutorial:

Here's how make a stunning little pillow from 2 contrasting appliqued blocks. And if you keep the pillows very thin, they can be used as decorations - tucked away on a bookcase, nestled in among some dishes, even slipped in between the branches of your tree!

Here's how I do it:

Start with a perfectly symmetrical template (in this case a snowflake). Before doing anything with fabric, cut the snowflake template in half and separate the 2 halves to add 1/2" for a seam allowance. Tape the template back together to cut out shapes.

Applique 2 snowflake blocks with contrasting colors as shown below:

Cut each block in half, exactly down the middle (where you added the additional 1/2").

Switch half of the blocks so each block has one side of each background color, as shown below:

Matching snowflake edges in the center, stitch the pieces together to make 2 pillow fronts. Cut 2 squares of coordinating fabric to make the backs of the pillows. With right sides together, stitch around the blocks, leaving a pretty good sized opening to turn the pillow and to stuff the insert into it.

Make a pillow insert about 1" bigger than the applique block. You could use muslin or any inexpensive white fabric. I save the filling from old pillows to make my own pillow forms. Fill the pillow form very lightly and stitch it closed.

You don't need a lot of filling - just enough to stabilize the pillow case so it can stand up. Here you can see how thin my form is (haha! I wish that were true in every way!!) :

Stuff the form into the pillow case and hand-stitch the opening closed. Now you have a little Christmas decoration that can be tucked in just about anywhere you need some additional holiday spirit!

This would work really well with a simple Christmas tree shape, a gingerbread man, a candle - really anything as long as it's truly symmetrical.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tree Decorating Shortcut

I have a super quick way to make your Christmas tree look like you have a lot of decorations on it even when you don't. Some years, I spend hours filling the tree with ornaments. Two years ago, it seemed like the time got away from me and I just needed to get some things put up in a hurry. That's how I discovered the magic of metallic curling ribbon!

This tree only has lights, some red ribbon and one or two ornaments. But the curling ribbon draped all over it brings it to life! I just cut lots of random lengths, curl it with my scissors and drape it everywhere!

  **Coming up: my favorite holiday tip on how to make the greatest indoor snowballs ever!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Couple More

As I mentioned yesterday, in making these "bus quilts" I'm trying to use up a lot of stash fabrics. So when I recently came across this old batik jelly roll, I immediately started thinking about making small quilts.

I removed the browns and beiges, the muted colors and the very dark colors. Then I went to Pinterest for inspiration and used the blues and greens to make this one:

A simple rail fence with the pinks, reds and oranges resulted in this bright little quilt:

(Tucker was annoyed gracious as I used the end of his nap lounger to drape the quilt!)

It's been so much fun to sew without "fear" of picking the wrong color or fabrics. These are very basic utility quilts and probably won't last very long. It's quite liberating and even educational to just throw caution to the wind and try something.

I'm linking up with Oh Scrap! and Sew Some Love.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bus Quilts

My oldest daughter lives in Montana, where she is the Executive Director of Head Start (a program that helps 3 and 4 year-olds, primarily from lower income families, prepare for kindergarten). It's a fantastic program and I'm super proud of the work she does there.

Montana winters can be very cold. Head Start buses many of the kids to school, but unlike the public school buses, they stop at each child's house. Therefore, the doors are constantly opening and closing, allowing the often sub-zero degree wind to blow snow and cold air into the bus, making it virtually impossible to keep the buses warm.

So I'm making a bunch of very small lap quilts that these little kiddos can grab as they board the bus to snuggle under on their way to school! I'm using lots of scraps and stash and even working in some orphan blocks from quilt-alongs that I didn't finish. They are typically in the 36" X 36" range, give or take a few inches.

I've shipped the first box of quilts to her and I'm cranking out more as quickly as I can! Even after she has enough, I'll continue to send a few here and there to replace worn out quilts. Some quilts may be needed for other purposes or might even make their way home with a cold kiddo (which is fine with me), so I think this could be a long-term project!

Here are a few pictures from the first batch:

I draw a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, so some of these may look kind of familiar. And some may look more like I just winged it (which I probably did)!

Friday, December 1, 2017

31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

Today, I'm starting a new blogging habit. I'm joining the 3rd Annual 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge. In the past, I've blogged for awhile, then I stop. And then I join a quilt along or something and start back up again.

I like having a blog and I'd like to get better at it.

So today is Day 1 and the day I make the commitment to shower my blog with 31 days of attention!

You can join the challenge too - just go to Cheryl Sleboda's blog here!  (And please don't forget to follow my blog! ;)