Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Year that Was 2011

Wow, what a year 2011 has been! Last year (pre-blog), I made a commitment to quilt more and do something quilting-related everyday. I wanted to take advantage of my leave of absence to learn as much as I could about quilting.

Then I hosted our guild's Tips and Techniques table in the Spring. I chose to show members a variety of options for documenting their quilts. One of the options I wanted to show people were blogs. I started checking out blogs at the end of March and my world changed. I learned how to free motion quilt with the help of Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. I found Modern quilts, tutorials, quiltalongs, linky parties, giveaways, and lots of quilters my age! Oh my! It was a whole new wonderful world.

A year ago, I also never would have predicted that I'd have my own quilting blog, let alone be addicted to reading so many other blogs! I feel so fortunate and thankful to have found this online community.

I still think it's so cool that I can chat with Lucy in the UK, Laura and Erin in Perth, Australia, Cindy in California, Lynette in Florida, Rhianon in Scotland, Shanna in Texas, to name but a few!

And I've met wonderful Canadian bloggers too. Kit in my old stomping grounds of Toronto, Tabatha just outside of Toronto, Monika in Saskatoon and Michele and Ginette here in Ottawa(!) are just some of the awesome folks I've 'met' this year.

Thank you all for all for reading my blog and for giving me your ideas, encouragement and support so freely. You have no idea just how much it has meant to me! I've learned so much from all of you and look forward to learning even more in 2012.

I also wanted to thank Laura from Quokka Quilts for starting TGIFF! with me and to all of our hostesses this year - Erin, Tabatha, Lucy, Jess, and Shanna! You guys rock! This project has already surpassed my hopes for it and I'm looking forward to 2012 -- more parties, more touring, more finishes!

While I got a lot less sleep in 2011 (hard to believe considering that my kids started sleeping through the night this year!), at least I have a fair number of projects (finished even!) to show for it. Here are some of my finishes for 2011.









And while I finished a lot, I also am still plagued by my crazy-ass list of WIPs working on a bunch of projects that I hope to will finish in 2012.







As I think back on this past year, I've also been thinking a lot about what I'd like to do in 2012. I've picked out some projects and challenges that I'm VERY excited about and I'll share more about them with you tomorrow and over the next week.

Happy New Year everyone. Here's to more quilting in 2012!

Cheers! Santé!

Friday, 30 December 2011

TGIFF! - A Scarf, A Pillowcase and A Mug Rug Walked Into A Bar...

"I see you've got things covered," said the bartender. Sorry, that was bad, but I couldn't resist.

While I didn't get Micah's growth chart finished yet, I did finish a few other Christmas gifts that I thought I'd share with you.

My husband and kids are big fans of the Ottawa 67s so I thought I'd make them some fan scarves. I got a bit of practice making these last year when I made a whole whack of them for a friend's kids' hockey and ringette teams. I was a little scarved out last year, so my boys got them this year instead. (Sorry for the bad photos - these were taken at about 1 a.m.!)

They are very simple to make - just cut 4"-6" wide fleece in your choice of colours. Stagger the colours in the arrangement you want and then sew with matching thread four or five times so that all the layers are secure.


Another option is to stack the fleece fabric, sew once or twice along the middle and then cut every 2" or so perpendicular towards, but not all the way to, the centre seam. This creates a more ruffled scarf.

Feeling a little guilty that I hadn't been able to finish Micah's growth chart, I made him a pillowcase to match his brothers'.


And finally, some more mug rugs. Again, using unused strips sets from previous projects, I sewed, slashed and sewed again. This time I decided to do what Shanna @ Sparrow in Flight did with some of her mug rugs, which was sew straight lines at different angles both horizontally and vertically.

I'm linking up with TGIFF!, which is being hosted by the joyful Jess at Life Under Quilts. If you've got a finish, why don't you share it and link up?



Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Coming Out From Under the Tryptophan/Egg Nog-Induced Fog

Man, what a great Christmas! I'm slowing coming out of the Christmas tourtière-mad about chocolate cheesecake-monkey bread-my mom's homemade egg nog (heaven!)-turkey-mashed potatoes-cherry pie-tuxedo cake-croissant haze. All I can say is thank goodness for Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance 3. Without them, I'm pretty sure I would have gained 10 pounds!

We had such a great time with the kids and our extended family. Although the kids got sick and one of them even slept through Christmas Eve dinner, they all rallied the next morning just in time for opening presents. Funny how that happens.

A definite highlight was playing "Who ruined Christmas?" anytime some little thing didn't go as expected. It was brilliant, especially after a few drinks. Thankfully we have one of those families where no one takes themselves too seriously so the "blame" could be passed around and accepted freely. :)

I haven't been quilting for a week, but I've been devouring some quilting books I got for Christmas. I'd been eyeing Modern Blocks for some time so I was pretty stoked to unwrap it Christmas morning.


And Joen Wolfrom's Adventures in Design is absolutely fabulous so far!

Sooo loving the books. They will definitely be playing a role in some upcoming projects!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday and even perhaps got some quilting in? If you've finished any projects, Jess @ Life Under Quilts is hosting this week's TGIFF! party.

Cheers,
M-R

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Feeling the Heat - A Work in Progress

One of the gifts I'm trying to finish for Christmas is Micah's growth chart. I finished Patrick and Daniel's growth charts earlier this year. I'll share them with you on Friday.

The original push for these was the realization that my boys will probably end up 6 feet plus and I couldn't find a growth chart that I (and they) would like that was tall enough. So, of course, there's nothing to do, but make them myself, right?

Originally, I had designed very kid-friendly growth charts with bold shapes and bright colours. I wanted to hang them in the downstairs hallway, all three together. The more I thought about the fact that we will have these growth charts hanging in a common area for at least twenty years, the more I thought that they should be designs that will (hopefully) appeal to the kids when they are older, rather than younger. Cutesy is great when they are six, but not so cool when they are 16 or 26.

I thought going a little more artsy would work better (I'd certainly like it more). I decided to go with the elements of nature: Daniel is earth (grass), Patrick is water and Micah is fire. Both Daniel and Patrick's charts came together pretty quickly and easily and they've been up for some time.

Micah's, however, was another story. I had the biggest mental block on depicting fire. I knew it was going to be the most challenging so I kept putting it off. There's nothing like a deadline though, even self-imposed, to push through those blocks. I'm very happy to say that I finished the top for Micah's chart today. I'm absolutely thrilled with it so far. Here's hoping I don't screw it up with the quilting.

With any luck, I'll have this done by Friday. Fingers crossed!


I'm linking in to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Let's go check out the fun stuff going on over there. If you are a Canadian blogger, come and link up your progress. It's a fun way to meet other Canadian quilt bloggers.

P.S. Have you seen Quilt Dad's Ryan Gosling's Hey Girl Quilting meme? Hilarious! Also, spotted some more on Patchwork Duck Designs. Love it! Also got a good chuckle from Feminist Ryan Gosling!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Winner of the Charm Pack Giveaway / Goat Cheese, Pesto and Sundried Tomato Dip

The giveaway for the Charm Pack is now closed. Being that it was the first time I'd participated in a Blog Hop Giveaway or Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, I have to say that I was blown away at the response. Thank you all for entering!

Here is another favourite recipe of ours that I thought I'd share with you to thank you for playing along. It is a very simple, but elegant and, most importantly, delicious dip. When we serve this, there are never any leftovers.

Goat Cheese, Pesto and Sundried Tomato Dip

Press a log of goat cheese (200-250 g) in an oven proof ramekin or bowl. Spread 1/2 cup of pesto onto the goat cheese. Top with a layer of rehydrated sundried tomatoes (To rehydrate the tomatoes, just soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes). Heat in 350F oven for about 10 minutes or until pesto is bubbling. Serve with sliced baguettes, melba toast, or crackers.

Enjoy!

So to the winner of the Blog Hop Party Giveaway Charm Pack:

True Random Number Generator  55Powered by RANDOM.ORG



beaquilter said...55






I live in NC but I'm born and raised in Denmark, so I always want to go back home more than I get to do.

Congratulations, Bea! Yay! I'll be sending you an email to get your address.

A big thank you to Michele at the Quilting Gallery and the folks over at Sew, Mama, Sew for organizing such fun blog hop giveaway parties!

Here's a little peek of what I've been working on today...



More to come this week.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Winner of the Advent Calendar Giveaway / Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Thank you to everyone who entered my Quilting Gallery's Blog Hop Party and Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day giveaways and decided to follow. I'm still making my way through the entries, but I'm loving your travel suggestions and goals for 2012 so far. What a well-travelled and goal-oriented bunch y'all are!

As a thank you to everyone for participating, I thought I'd share one of my all-time favourite recipes. Unfortunately, my youngest son now has a peanut allergy so we won't be enjoying this treat this year. But just because we can't indulge in this chocolatey-peanutey goodness, doesn't mean you can't.
Fair warning: You won't be able to eat just one of these bad boys and you probably won't make just one batch. Don't say I didn't warn you. :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:
2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 cups rice crispy cereal
1 lb (approx 450 g) icing/confectioner's sugar
600 g chocolate chips (approx. 2 bags of chocolate chips)

Directions:
1) Melt butter and peanut butter in a large saucepan.
2) In a separate bowl, mix together rice crispy cereal and icing sugar.
3) Pour peanut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and mix.
4) Form into 1" balls and chill for 1 hour.
5) Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave.
6) Dip balls in melted chocolate and chill.

Depending on the size of balls you make, this recipe will make anywhere from 50 to 100 balls. You may need more chocolate if you make very small peanut butter balls. Once the chocolate has hardened, they can be frozen.

Enjoy!

So without further ado, the winner of the Advent Calendar is:

True Random Number Generator  184Powered by RANDOM.ORG




Evelyn Greene said...184




I am a new follower

Congratulations Evelyn! You are a no reply blogger though, so I've left you a comment on your blog letting you know about your win.  Please send me your address so I can send this lovely calendar your way.

I will be drawing the winner of the Charm pack tomorrow night so you still have until 5 p.m. EDT tomorrow to enter, if you haven't already.

Cheers,
M-R

Friday, 16 December 2011

TGIFF! - Mug Rug Mania

I must say that I'm feeling a lot better after my little freakout on Wednesday. I even called the lady that I elbowed out of the way to apologize. Thankfully, my mom was pretty cool about the whole thing. ;)

I managed to finish 15 of the 20 mug rugs yesterday - yeah, baby! I haven't slept a lot and I think I'm beginning to get a tick in my left eye, but they are done. Woo hoo!

To avoid going completely insane doing these mug rugs, I decided to make them as a quilt top, sandwich and quilt them and then cut them to the finished mug rug size (5" by 7"-ish). Way simpler than making each individually.

I used an unused block and a couple of strip sets from some old projects. The block, which was 15" by 15", was just sandwiched and quilted. For the strip sets, I slashed them up and inserted black strips in varying widths and in various directions. A fun, improvisational method.

The back of the quilted block
For the quilting, I wanted to practice a motif that I want to do on my Christmas table runner. I was trying to do something like Emma from Sampaguita Quilts did on her Feathered Friends quilt. I loved how she combined spirals and feathers and wanted to try it. Hmmm, not Emma's level of awesomeness and I forgot the inner loops in the feathers, but I'm still pretty happy with it.

I also tried a different machine binding technique - Rachel's zig zag method. It worked pretty well. Yay! Nice to have another binding option.
The finished mug rugs!

More gratuitous photos...

Lucy from Charm About You is hosting TGIFF! this week. She has a fabulous robot quilt this week. Definitely a must see and a quilt I must figure out how to get. Too bad I can't elbow her from here to get it. ;)




Happy Friday all!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Works in Progress Wednesday - The Freakout Edition

I had a post all ready last night for today -- it's the strikeout section below. But when I woke up today, I realized that it's only 10 days until Christmas Eve! 10 ... days ... until ... Christmas ... Eve, people! Aaack! There's too much to do between now and then. Plus, I have to be ready early because our visitors start arriving on the 22nd. So that's actually only 7 days for me.

Beware, what you are about to read will undoubtedly shock you. I know I look all calm and laid-back in that photo on the left, but my hair is on freakin' fire right now! If you do not want to have your image of me as the cool-collected-quilter-mom-extraordinaire dashed to bits, skip to the strikeout section below, where I am my normal, blow-sunshine-everywhere self. ;)

I'm "We" are hosting Christmas this year! Okay, so Iwe hosted last year and I'm we are only hosting Réveillon on Christmas Eve and probably brunch on Christmas day this year, but it still means making a ton of food that will feed everyone for days afterwards. Okay, so I buy a lot of it ready made. Like the tourtières (meat pies - sounds way nicer in French, right?). Why buy it when Costco makes it better? But I still have to heat it up, people, and arrange it all nice and all. Like, that's hard!

Then there's the baking! In my crazy pre-holiday calm, I invited a bunch of friends over for our 2nd Annual Mom's Office Lunch and Cookie Exchange, figuring we could have fun and that I could dupe my friends into making my holiday goodies for me. My evil plan backfired though because I also have to contribute! D'oh! So 10 dozen fudgey oatmeal bars it is. By Monday. It had better be fun.

Gift purchasing is almost done and it's a good thing too because it's getting mean out there, people. I elbowed this lady out of the way the other day because she was about to grab the last crayon maker and she had the gall to elbow me back. I mean, really, what the hell? I won though. My kids don't even want it, but I got it anyways to teach that lady a lesson.

And don't even get me started on the gift making. Yes, I was all cool showing off a couple of pillowcases for my boys that I made a couple of weeks ago. But I still have Micah's growth chart that I'd like to finish for him. I want it to be all art quilty like the other two, but that means actually staring into space a lot and playing on the design board. That's two days right there and that's not taking into account the sewing! Plus there's the 20 mug rugs for teachers, colleagues, bus drivers, etc. to be paired with mugs, tea and cocoa. I mean, why pay decent prices for mug sets when you can make them for way more? Truly beyond me.

Oh, and the decorating?! Yes, the house is largely decorated. Yes, it all looks fabulous. I'm a freakin' Martha Stewart...if you can get past the windows with God-knows-what smeared on them and the toys all over the place. The tree is even trimmed. But I bought a bunch of new ornaments at the after Christmas sales last year, which means that we have a lot of extra ornaments now. Plus the kids seem to be coming home with new ornaments every day (between Beavers, church, school, and various holiday parties, plus the ones I'm making them do, I think we have an additional 30 unique-and-lovely-handmade-by-children ornaments). Now, you could ask why I don't just donate some to Value Village or the Sally Ann? Well, I just don't think they are going to appreciate Daniel's three-eyed Rudolph like I do. Sooo...it probably means that we'll haul the artificial tree up from downstairs and decorate it this weekend. I'm starting to get hives thinking about taking everything down...

And then there's this craft that I found on Pinterest. I don't need to do it and I don't even have a door in mind to put it on, let alone the door hanger thingy to hang it on, but I have to make it! And the other cardholder wallhanging that I designed after making this one is just itching to be made. Not to mention all my other WIPs that are totally being ignored. Poor little guys.

And then I noticed that the house next door is now up for sale and that they are having an Open House this weekend. You know what that means, right? It means that we have to have the kids outside playing during the Open House so that we attract a family. Prospective buyers need to know that they are going to be moving to a fun, friendly, community-oriented street so it can't be just my kids playing outside. So I think we'll have to organize an impromptu street hockey game with all the kids in the neighbourhood. Yep, and if the kids are all outside playing, then we'll probably make some appetizers and get some beer and wine for the adults, kind of a street holiday party. You know, to make sure that prospective buyers know what a great street they can live on. Just need to make sure John up the street doesn't drink too much though. Wouldn't be good for prospective buyers to see him peeing on the For Sale sign...again. Oh boy...

Then there's the cleaning! Oh and we haven't visited Santa yet or made the gingerbread house or the sugar cookies. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh....I think my head just exploded.

Oh wow, will you look at that, my holiday freakout came early this year. Nice! Well, glad that's over. Let's get back to business...

Must...stop...visiting the giveaway blogs. So...hard...okay...maybe...just...one...more! This is the first time I've participated as a host and as a visiter. I've been blown away by the response. Wow! I'm loving the travel suggestions that you all have left for me. Oh, how I wish I could visit all those places right now. And to those who decided to follow -- thank you so much! Hopefully you'll enjoy what you read and see here. If you haven't entered my giveaways yet, there's still time.

The cheeky Lucy of Charm About You is hosting this week's TGIFF! Did you see that she was profiled on Live a Colourful Life's The Name Game? As always, if you've got a finish, you are more than welcome to link up. Let's see those holiday gifts and projects! Check out the TGIF Friday! site for more details. I'm hoping to have a some small projects to share that I haven't talked about yet.


Making good progress on my list of projects:

New Projects:
Asterisk Christmas Table RunnerAs I mentioned on Saturday, I made excellent progress on this Friday night. The top is done! 

I love the simple look to this so I also bought black ones to make it reversible. I'm thinking of making the other side Halloween themed. 

Completed Projects:

Wee Spy Quilts - Finished two of them! I'll admit here that one of the reasons the red one got finished is because I couldn't bear to add another found project to my WIP list. ;) Glad it's done and that it will find a good home with a special child. 

Current Projects:

Stained Glass Lillies - A couple more sections done. Yay! I'm finding this such an odd project. I'm often reluctant to pick it up to work on it, because I'm worried that I'm going to lose some of the fabrics that are glued on. In hindsight, I think I should have just used fusible webbing for the inserted fabrics, but I was worried that it would be too stiff for hand appliqué. Instead, I used a fabric glue stick to attach the inserted fabrics, but just used a few rubs here and there so some of the fabrics are coming loose. Not a huge deal, because I can just reinsert them, but it just makes me reluctant to play around it with a lot. That said, once I do pick it up, I fall in love with it again and I just want to keep working on it. Then I put it down and the cycle continues. Such a roller coaster, this one! ;)

Clockwork Orange - No progress and probably won't be until after the holidays.

Just Me and My Peeps - No progress and probably ditto on this one. :(

On Hold:
Red and Tan Amish Wedding Ring
Tangled Garden
Spiral/Spring seta colour

UFOs that may one day get finished, but really who knows?
Chop Suey
Wedding quilt
Linus quilt
Nine patch colourwash

WIP Wednesday Recap:
New projects: 1
Current projects: 3
Completed project: 2
On Hold: 10
UFOs: 4


I'm linking in to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Let's go check out the fun stuff going on over there. If you are a Canadian blogger, come and link up your progress. It's a fun way to meet other Canadian quilt bloggers.

Have a great Wednesday everyone! What are you working on?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas Table Runner - A Work in Progress

Handmade by HeidiLast night I participated in the Friday Night Sew-in for the first time. Even though I regularly spend an evening quilting, it somehow felt different knowing that others were doing the same. Fun!

I started and finished the top on my Christmas Table Runner. It wasn't what I had intended on working on, but I'll take progress on any of the items on my crazy-ass list of projects. And as this is Christmas-related, I can totally justify this. :)

On Wednesday, I had mentioned that I found these cool red felt pot protectors at the dollar store. I loved the asterisk shape and thought they could be put to better use than protecting my pots.



One lesson learned -- the asterisks should not be ironed. Trust me. :)

Thanks to Heidi and Bobbi for hosting a fun night!

P.S. If you haven't entered my giveaways yet, check them out.

P.S.S. Saw Hugo tonight. Fantastic!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun Giveaway!

Welcome to the Blog Hop Party and the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Giveaways! This is my first time party-cipating (yeah, pretty bad, eh?) in a giveaway party like this. Looks like a lot of fun!

Falling for Stripes
For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! I'm a quilter from Ottawa, Canada. I'm currently at home with my three young boys (2.5, 4.5 and 7 -- you have to get the partial years in, I'm told). I started this blog in May and am having a great time meeting other quilters from around the world.

Laura from Quokka Quilts and I started TGIFF! (Thank Goodness it's Finished, Friday!) a couple of months ago. It's a touring linky party for quilty finishes. We're having a blast -- and getting more projects finished to boot! I'm hosting this week and the wonderful and cheeky Lucy from Charm About You is hosting next week. If you have a finish in any given week, you are more than welcome to join in on the fun! You can also host if you like too. Check out the TGIFF! site for more details.

Another thing I do is travel the quilting blogosphere. I haven't done it in a couple of months because my computer is soooo slow, but we recently got a new computer and I'm feeling the travel bug again. I've got a few ideas for making these more visual trips for readers too.

Now to the giveaways!

There are two giveaways, one for the Quilting Gallery's Blog Hop Party and Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day and your comments will count for both!

Giveaway #1: A charm pack of 48 6" I spy squares. I use these packs to make my Wee Spy Quilts. With a 3" border, these squares make a 39" by 48" top. There are a variety of colours and novelty fabrics that attract wee ones' eyes. No two squares are alike. The best part? This top is so scrappy that you can use any colour or fabric as the border and backing and it works.


Giveaway #2: This Makower UK Make It Yourself Advent Calendar panel. I've made five of these Makower UK's Advent Calendars and I have to say that they are very easy and fast to do. The directions (provided on the panel) are clear and concise.


So how can you win? This is open to everyone and you have a few chances to win:

1) Leave a comment on your favourite travel destination or which country (or province or state) you think I should visit virtually next.
2) Leave a comment letting me know that you are a follower or have become a new follower of my blog.
3) Leave a comment letting me know that you are a TGIFF! follower or have become a TGIFF! follower.
4) Come back on Monday, when I add a fourth entry option for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Giveaway. Leave a comment about a goal you have for 2012.

Remember, your entry(ies) will count for both giveaways. [Edited: I almost forgot! The charm pack giveaway will be open until December 17th at 5 p.m. and the advent calendar will be open until December 16th at 5 p.m. Both giveaways will be determined by random number generator.]

Thanks for visiting and good luck!

Cheers and happy blog travels,
M-R
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