Thursday, December 30, 2010

roast beast solstice

This year my husband and I decided to host a roast beast dinner, a la Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The Christmas season gets to be so busy and we thought it would be fun to take the time to eat, drink and be merry with a bunch of our friends. It also happened to fall on solstice, which as most of you know, also included a really cool lunar eclipse. So we had a double celebration. Food, friends, Christmas and days getting longer.

About a week before the occasion, I got a little creative and decided that we needed some pretty napkins and such to set the mood. I had been hoarding my collection of Hope Valley fabrics, thinking I would turn it into a quilt. But after 8 months, I hadn't even cut into the stack and had rethought the quilt as perhaps a bit girly for my husband.

Inspiration! Purl Soho put up a linen thanksgiving napkin tutorial a while back and I loved it! Of course, I never got around to making any. Then I saw that I had a stack of Hope Valley, and about 10 billion yards of Kona Snow and I knew what to do.

I started cutting, ironing, ironing, ironing, ironing (seriously, there is a lot of ironing involved) and stitching. FOURTEEN napkins later, I have a gorgeous set! I loved the tutorial, it was easy to follow, but my only caution is this: it's a LOT of freaking yardage. Each napkin needs a 1/2 yard total. So seriously, I used up 7 yards of fabric for my set.

After the napkins were done I had a pile of pretty scraps, so I thought, "why not make a table runner to match?". Voila. Done.

Napkins

I am in love. At first, I thought I might be a little crazy for using so much white in napkins, but a little Shout before the wash, and they are perfect and spotless and pretty all over again.

Hope Valley Table Runner & Napkins

As for the event, it was super fun. I forgot to take photos, and so did my other picture taking friend for the most part. Alexandra did manage to snap one or two, which I have since stolen from her Facebook (thanks Alex!)



Thank you to all of our friends who came to eat and brought all sorts of yummy food and drink. We will surely be doing this again next year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

happiness and cheer

This Christmas was a good one. The only downside was I was missing my family. Unlike last year, where we hosted 10 people (I guess we only hosted 8, since we were the other 2) we had just 3 other people this time around. Quiet, but fun.

My husband and I had decided ahead of time that we wouldn't be giving each other gifts this year. Partially that was a financial decision, since we are trying to be as frugal as possible while he finishes school, but mostly it was a "why pay ridiculous prices to get each other something when we could go shopping during boxing week" decision.

As it turned out, we have some extremely generous family members and employers. Our grandparents and aunt and uncle sent some money our way, and I was completely overwhelmed by an extremely generous bonus from each of the families that I work for. We decided that with all that money, we would go on vacation. We aren't sure where or when yet, or whether we even have enough but we are sure going to try! It looks like maybe Mexico or the Dominican for a week in March, which will be perfect because frankly, the thaw doesn't even start in Calgary until May most years.

Here are some highlights from Christmas:

New Camera!

A new camera! How lucky am I? I have been wanting to move a step up from the Kodak camera Joel and I have been using since our honeymoon. It's a good little camera, but limited. My step-dad is a camera nut and replaces his regularly. Lucky for all us kids, he is super kind and hands all his cameras down to us. It had been a while since I had received one, so he sent me the Canon sx10is for Christmas! It has been super fun learning to use it (I still have a lot to learn) and even inspired me to try out the 365 photo project. Check out the Flickr stream for that.

Moccasins!

Moccasins! My parents love handmade and local items, and picked up a pair of moccasins for Joel, my brother and I. They are deliciously soft and comfy and I wish I could wear them absolutely everywhere.

Also in the footwear category:

Slouchy Boots

New slouchy boots! Not Uggs, which is perfectly fine with me since Uggs are SO slippery, I almost die every time I put them on. These are cozy knitted sketchers with a real tread on them. I really needed some new boots and these are perfect. Not actually a Christmas gift, but my mom sent them out with the Christmas box.

Gift Card FTW

A $200 gift card to either of the two biggest malls in the city. Seriously. Part of the bonus I got from one of my families, they specified that I should treat myself to something out of the ordinary for me like a BCBG dress or a new purse. Excited!

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples. Have you played this?? So fun, I can't even describe. Perfect with older kids, or friends and coincidentally, (if you are so inclined) the more you drink, the more fun it is. We played this on Christmas day for almost 3 hours.

Finally, not in the material objects category, but a gift non-the-less, spending time with my hubby. He finished up all of his course work and internship hours by the 23rd, and it's been pure relaxation since then. He has until the 3rd to continue relaxing, but then it's back to hard work and long days for him!

Bothers in Law

It was also super fun spending time with my brother. As we've gotten older we've spent less time together even though we live in the same city. We both have strong (and very similar) personalities so it's easy for us to get on each other's nerves quickly. But this was almost 3 days of fun. I'm glad we can have Christmas together.

For christmas my brother gave me two things: Glee Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack (random but cool!) and a shopping trip with him. He is a super geeky cool dresser with a bit of an Elvis Costello flair and it is really fun to shop with him. We went to Chinook Centre on the 27th to check out the new wing with all the awesome American additions such as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Fossil. I picked up a pair of skinny jeans, a belt and a cozy sweater from American Eagle, and another pair of jeans from Urban Outfitters, which I have now decided to exchange for a sweater. Oh well, a good excuse to go back to such a cool store. Here's my weird self portrait of the outfit I'm keeping:

New Clothes!

I did some sewing for presents. Actually quite a bit of sewing, and the last of it is sitting downstairs waiting to be finished. I'll post about all the handmade gifts when the last one is done.

Also, look forward to a year in review post. :)

I hope each and every one of you had a fantastic Christmas (if that's what you celebrate) and got to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like

Christmas!

Actually, for the most part, it looks a bit more like winter in our house. My husband and I have an ongoing disagreement about how the Christmas tree should be decorated. Not an actual fight or a serious cause of tension, but we just seem to have very different ideas on the subject. So, the plan is that we switch years. Every other year I get to choose how the tree is decorated. Actually, last year we got a second tree, so we switch trees each year now. This year is Joel's turn to decorate our big tree upstairs. And now how much I whined, he insisted on making it a blue tree. I complained that since the tree was pre-lit with soft white lights that blue wouldn't look good, but then 3 of the 7 strands in the tree went out and so I pulled them all off and made it a regular fake tree. (Oh yes, and got a huge rash on my arms and hands from it!)

Christmas Tree 2010

After all my complaining, the tree is spectacular! So spectacular in fact that I have publicly admitted it! And asked him to take over the primary tree decorating from now on. Who knew?

Kitten Christmas

We do have our second tree set up downstairs and it's a more traditional tree filled with all of our random, special and miscellaneous ornaments.

Christmas Tree 2010

Some other hints of the holiday season have been popping up around our house too. Check out our cool advent calendar!

100_4048.jpg

Plus our neat little (HUGE) nutcracker.

And the other day I got bored during a half day off work and made these cool paper wreaths!

Winter Decorations

I really want to get around to making a Christmas quilt one of these days. I have pulled some non-holiday themed fabrics in red and white, plus a couple of holiday pieces and I'm hoping to get working on it soon. But here's my dilemma with Christmas quilts. It would kill me to work so hard and have to put it away for 10 months a year! Is it wrong to keep a Christmas quilt out all year round?

Also, sorry for being so absent these last few weeks (months?) It's been busy, I've been feeling a tad uninspired. But I have been getting lots of work done, so hopefully more posts on that later. Thanks for being patient and sticking around!

P.S. Sorry for the photo quality. Low light and all that.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

sunday stash #8

Momo

Snip Snip by Momo. I found a remnent of this at Bolt in Portland and had to snap it up!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

sunday stash #7

Shot Cottons

K. Fasset Shot Cottons

Saturday, November 13, 2010

sunday stash #6

Powerful Pink

Positively Pink Prints

Monday, November 8, 2010

what i did on my summer vacation: part three

Okay, it's a little late to be posting this, but the final installment of what I did on my summer vacation may be my most favourite part: Seattle!

On our last day of vacation we ventured to Seattle.  Both Portland and Seattle are on my list of American cities to visit.  (Also included: New York, San Francisco, San Diego, LA, Chicago, etc.)  Obviously, one of the major pulls in Seattle is Pike Place, but I also really wanted to see the Troll.  Don't ask me why, I just think it's awesome.  Since we only had one day, we didn't get to see near enough, but I was glad to be able to go.  We left for Seattle at 5:30am in order to beat the rush hour traffic and arrived just before 7:30.  We found some parking by the pier, and some breakfast at a really cool Sourdough Bakery.

We walked through Pike Place for a couple of hours.  Sampled fresh fruit and smoked salmon, watched the fish mongers toss around trout and sniffed all the spices.  I was particularly in love with the flowers.  I couldn't believe the piles and piles of beautiful fresh local flowers for DIRT CHEAP.

Flowers Galore

Things that you would never be able to find in Calgary, like piles of Dahlias, and if you could find them, they would be $60 a bunch, no $10.

I tasted a nectarine as big as my head.

No Hand Hugs

Obviously, they discourage public displays of affection with the fruit.

Starbucks Flagship

We checked out the Starbucks flagship, which was really crowded and couldn't resist buying a set of mugs with the original logo on them.

We went to the gum wall. Gross.

Gum Wall

Seriously.

Took a cliche picture or two:

Public Market

Landmark and a Latte

And then we headed off to the Troll.

Fremont Troll!

How cool is that?

At the end of the day (read: 4pm) we were exhausted!  Besides all the landmarks, we also visited a really old part of town which I know can't remember what it is called and walked around on crazy cobbled streets.  We watched a glass blower for a while, at lunch in a really delicious but really sketchy, dirty Italian restaurant with the worlds tiniest bathroom/furnace room, and took a thousand more pictures.

We left Seattle around 4pm and got stuck in rush hour.  What were we thinking?  It took almost 3 hours just to get past Tacoma!  When we finally got home we were pooped!  We had just enough energy to pack some food and our stuff up, load the car and collapse into bed before our early morning departure back to Calgary.

Once again, a BIG thanks to Krissy and Lucas for hosting us.  Other than some short trips to visit family, this is our first actual vacation since our honeymoon more than 3 years ago, and it may be our last for a while since Joel is still in school.  I would say the vacation was a huge success and on top of getting to mark two cities off my list, it was so good to see Krissy and her husband.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

sunday stash #5

Cosmo Cricket - Early Bird

Cosmo Cricket - Early Bird

Saturday, November 6, 2010

milestones

I'm sure that many of you can relate to this:

As a blogger, I put my work "out there" as a record for myself, but it feels nice to think that there might be other people reading and enjoying what I made and write about.

Recently, I added a bunch of my Flickr photos to different groups, and was surprised to see how much action those photos get now! I always find it interesting to see which photos people fave, because it's not always my favourite projects that people love.

The point being, it feels really good to know that the things I put so much love and work into are being appreciated. Call me an ego-maniac - I don't care!

It's also been neat to see the number of subscribers grow from my husband and friend Candace to 19 people now! I also discovered that Google Reader keeps track of the number of people who subscribe to my RSS feed, and that number is a whopping (at least whopping to me) 33! It's pretty cool to have officially surpassed 50 readers.

Another milestone I am going to reach soon is 100 posts. I thought about counting years instead of posts, but since I took such a huge hiatus while trying to figure out if I really wanted to blog, I won't. Including this post, and several scheduled posts that will be coming out in the next few weeks, I am up to 85.

All this to say, I think it's almost time for a giveaway! I think what I will do is schedule the giveaway for the 100th post. The reason I am announcing this now (15 posts ahead of time) is to get some input from my readers. What would you like to win?

Here are your options:
A buttercup bag
Children's apron(s)
A mini quilt/mug rug
Or something else (you name it!)

The most popular idea named in the comments will be what I give away. No comments means I choose, and well, it will just end up being whatever I feel like making at that moment. :)

So, PLEASE, if you don't normally comment, but you do read, let me know!

And now, because I want to add a picture, look at this cuteness:

New Quilt

More on the pile of fabric later.  It's (somewhat) quickly becoming a new quilt.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

blogger's quilt festival - fall 2010

I decided to take the plunge and enter the Blogger's Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy's Creative Side.  I missed it last year because, well, I forgot!  Oops!

In trying to decide which quilt to write about, I really only considered which was my favourite.  So far, it's probably a tie between The Wonky Baby Girl Quilt, The Sea of Blue Quilt, or the Plain Spoken II Quilt.  Since I couldn't decide between them, and I haven't finished either of the 3 quilts I have on the go that might take top place, I decided to write about the quilt that I have learned the most from.

So, for the second time in just a month, let me write a bit about the Argyle Quilt of Doom.  This time, instead of ranting or complaining, I will really explain the process and reason behind the quilt.

The Argyle Quilt of Doom - Finished!

I guess this quilt actually started before I knew it.  When my husband and I were married for barely six months, we had an opportunity to move out of our teeny tiny basement suite (a 500 square foot bachelor with no bathroom door, I kid you not!) and move into a bigger space with a roommate.  The roommate would be Troy, a friend of Joel's from university.  Though our time at University overlapped, I had not really spent any time with Troy, even though he was in our wedding.  But Joel and him were good friends and he seemed like a really great guy so I was excited for the opportunity.  Joel and I love hosting people in our house and generally living in community.  I think it keeps us grounded and also helps us avoid becoming a little independent bubble couple.

Living with Troy turned out to be great!  I quickly got to know him and appreciate living with a roommate.  Troy became (even more) special to us over the almost 2 years that he lived with us.  He witnessed the birth of my quilting obsession, and was always willing to offer an opinion on design, colour, layout, anything I asked.

At some point while he was living with us, I asked him what kind of quilt he would like (since obviously, everyone I know needs a quilt) and said he would really like an argyle quilt.  I really wasn't sure how to do that, and had other projects on the go, so it got moved to the back burner.

And then, Troy met Amanda.  And Amanda is perfect for Troy.  We knew as soon as we met her that they would end up "happily ever after."


















Photo by Vivid Photography in Nanaimo, B.C.

So, when the date was set, I knew I had to make the quilt.  Even with all the struggles I had, I am really glad that I made it, and that it has found a home in the Dunham house.

I learned a lot through making this quilt.  I learned that they way I made the quilt is probably not the easiest way I could have done it.  I learned not to rely on Fabricland to stock anything.  Even basic stuff.  I learned how hard it is to quilt something that large on a machine with a relatively small throat.  I learned what a great resource Ikea linens are.  (Especially when they are on sale!)  I learned that it's okay for things to be imperfect and I need to pick my battles when it comes to  fixing mistakes.  And finally, I learned that even though it is better to be late than never - it stresses me out to give a wedding gift months after the fact.

Argyle Quilt of Doom

I love this quilt.  But I don't plan on ever referring to it as anything but "The Argyle Quilt of Doom" because that's what it felt like to make.  And unlike childbirth (not that I actually know this from experience) I haven't forgotten the pain of making it.

Argyle Quilt of Doom - Label

the wedding

Kiss!

The wedding was fantastic!  It really is wonderful to get to share such a special moment with wonderful friends and to celebrate their fantastic love.  Breanne looked absolutely gorgeous in her beautiful and simple flowing dress (and look!  There's my veil!)  Jeremy was teary eyed before she even came down the aisle.  The wedding with full of personal touches that made it very them.  I am glad to say I was there when they became Mr. & Mrs. Heide!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

sunday stash #4

Cotton Linen/Japanese Prints

Cotton Linen/Japanese Prints

Friday, October 29, 2010

something blue
















Photo by Jeremy's Dad.  (He was hiding in the bushes!)

Some dear friends of ours are getting married tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited!  Jeremy and Breanne are a long time love story and are one of those couples you meet and it makes you sure there is only one true love in love.

We are so excited to attend and be able to celebrate with our friends and I was even more excited at the prospect of being able to contribute to the wedding!

A few months ago, Breanne asked if I would make a set of garters for her because she couldn't find the right thing.  Of course I said yes (even though I had never made them before and had absolutely no idea what I was doing!)

Breanne wanted blue because Jeremy loves blue.  Could you tell by the photo above?  So, after some Google searching, a couple of trials and errors, I finally came up with a cute set that I am happy with and Breanne likes.

Garters

They are a simple white cotton with blue satin ribbon stitched on, encasing a 3/4" wide no flip elastic.  Overall, not actually that hard to make.  I made her one that is slightly bigger for her to keep and one that is slightly smaller for her to toss at the reception.

I woke up this morning knowing I had to run over and deliver them (easy, since she lives only a few blocks down the road!) and saw I had a Facebook message from here.  "HELP!  My veil never showed up from Etsy!"  Oh dear.  Obviously, that is not the kind of thing a bride wants to be dealing with the day before her wedding.  As luck would have it, Facebook had popped up with a suggestion to peruse my wedding album and she saw my veil and realized it was basically the same one she had ordered.

So, off I went this morning, with my veil and her garters in hand.  Not exactly saving the day, but glad I could help.  Of course, we will all cross our fingers that her veil actually shows up today!  Unlike the States, our postal system doesn't work.  At all.  And especially not on Saturdays, so if it's a no show today, it's a no show at all.

And just because I'm feeling nostalgic, here's a pic from our wedding.  :)
















Photo by Brooks Reynolds

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

sea of blue - complete!

It's finished! I can't believe I did it. And on time! And I got my house clean too! Woooohoooo!

I last left you with a half finished design on the wall and piles everywhere. So here's how it all went down.

After I wrote that post, I had some lunch and raced off to the dealership to get the car serviced. After waiting TWO AND A HALF HOURS for something that was supposed to take one and a half hours to be completed, I was out of there. I ran home, and Mike (our new, wonderful roommate) and I cleaned the house and welcomed out guest for the night. I did a little bit more trimming of squares and then ran out again to go pick up my husband. (Oh the joys of sharing a car.)

I went to bed at 10 that night because I was exhausted, and woke up at 7am the next morning to keep working. (Obviously I was bent on keeping my proposed deadline because not much can get me out of bed for 9am.) Luckily, I had managed to finish my trimming and put up a preliminary design before bed the night before.

I made some slight adjustments to the design and then I got cracking on the sewing. I worked like crazy from 8am to 4:30 pm with a break only for lunch. In all that time I managed to piece the top and back, quilt and attach the binding. I took the quilt with me to work to bind (and to show it to my boss who is the one who ordered the commission) and got a little bit done.

This morning I realized I had missed one line of quilting so I unattached the binding in 2 spots, quilted, and reattched the binding with a little tag and finished hand finishing the binding. The it was off to the washer, dryer and the yard to be photographed!

So, without further ado, I give you "Sea of Blue".

Sea of Blue

I am in love! I know I keep saying I love quilts (even if I hate them in the beginning) but this one I have loved from start to finish. I wasn't feeling super inspired to begin with, but after I started pulling all the delicious blue fabrics from my stash I started drooling. The colours are so rich and this is a palette I haven't worked with yet.

Sea of Blue - Back

The back was an adventure for me. I have been sticking to solid backs mostly, but I decided to try something a little different. I had some half square triangles left over and some bigger chunks of some other fabrics, so why not?

Sea of Blue

Over the fence, as usual. Finished size is 50"x50", bound mostly in some of the deep teal with a couple little bits added in.

Sea of Blue - Folded

And there it is, all folded and ready to go. I added a little tag to it, with my info on the front and washing instructions on the back.

***

Now, onto the next challenge. I am going to try and make a set of wedding garters for a friend. Her wedding is next weekend, but the lingerie shower is tomorrow. (Sexy lingerie already purchased!) And I want to include the garters she asked me to make in the bag. Here goes nothing!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

in progress (or, how I neglect everything else in life when a quilt needs to get done)

I've started a new project. Unfortunately, I didn't leave myself much of a bumper with this one, so I will lucky to be able to get it done on time let alone snuggle it and stare at it for 2 days before it's delivered. What is this project, you may ask?

It started as this:

New Project

A pile of 120 6" sqaures cut from 14 different blue fabrics.

Then it turned into this:

HST Love

A pile of 120 pairs of half square triangles waiting to be trimmed down to 5.5" (my least favourite part of HSTs.)

Now it is this:

Design Wall/In Progress

Slowly going up on my impromptu design wall. (Two pieces of left over batting tacked to the only remaining wall space in my basement.

Of course when I have a turn around time as short as this one (4 days) not much else gets done around here. Which is a real shame because our house has resembled the streets of Calcutta for about 2 weeks now. And we have a visitor coming tonight. And I have other things to do like work and take the car in for service. And eat and sleep.

So, this is what I'm neglecting:

Neglect

Both folded and unfolded laundry including the nice clothes my husband needs for his internship.

Neglect

An over flowing pile of fabric, batting scraps and other junk all over the floor. Also included is a thick layer of dust on EVERYTHING.

Neglect

And of course the ever-present piles of bits and pieces, fabric and electronics littering my sewing area. A real bonus to not taking care of this mess is that the cats run off with pins, pens and parts of my sewing machine whenever I'm not looking.

Oh yes, and all of that is just in the basement. There's a whole other floor of disaster to be dealt with! Yikes!

Sigh. I'd ask you to feel sorry for me but let's be honest. I brought this on myself. Haha, and I really don't feel that bad about it (as is demonstrated by writing this post instead of dealing with the mess creeping into every corner of my house).

Now, off to refuel my tummy, refuel my car, take it for service and then come home, run around like crazy and make the place look presentable for our guest. Once that's done, the goal is to the have the top and back pieces, and the quilt basted and ready for quilting tomorrow morning.

Updates soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

sunday stash #2

Hope Valley

The entire Hope Valley collection by Denyse Schmidt. Purchases online from Purl Soho.

Friday, October 15, 2010

mini quilts - july/august

I posted previously about the amazing mini quilt I received from CASharp via the monthly (now bi-monthly) swap I participate in via Flickr.

Here's a quick recap:

STUD July/August Anything Goes - Received

UH-Mazing! Right?

This is what I finished for her:

STUD July/August - Sent

This was my first experiment with half-square triangles, and even though they were a TON of work, I am in love! So much fun, AND as an added bonus, the entire quilt was made from scraps. Yay!

After I had finished piecing the zig-zags, I felt like it needed something extra special, so I added the embroidery.

STUD July/August - Sent

I actually had a really good time doing up the embroidery part. It was really fun to watch it come together.

Since the swap is now bi-monthly, I signed up for both the anything goes swap and the themed swap. For the themed swap, I was so lucky to get paired with my dear friend Krissy. She is relatively new to quilting, like me and not only did we get to swap, but we got the opportunity to work on ours together (IN PERSON!) Okay, that may not seem like a big deal, but I have known Krissy since grade 5, and after many years of tumultuous friendship, we went to different Universities and have not seen much of each other since then. And when I say tumultuous, what I mean is, I spent years being a jerk and picking on Krissy and she spent years putting up with it and loving me anyways. (Thanks Kris!)

Well, as previously mentioned, we got a chance to go on vacation this summer, for the first time since our honeymoon 3 years ago. We chose to go to Portland to visit Krissy and it was awesome! We spent a total of about 2 hours in the entire week sewing, but oh well.

Anyways, here is what I sent to her:

STUD July/August - Sent

The theme was landscapes, and I wanted to send her an aerial landscape to represent the amount of time she's spent flying and driving across Canada and the States in the last few years.

This is what I got in return:

STUD July/August - Received

Again, UH-Mazing!! I love the different fabrics she chose and the amazing job she did on the trees and the mountain. I *think* it's Mt. Hood...Right Krissy? Please comment and remind me!
Anyways, I'm in love and now it's on my wall with it's quilty friends.

So thank you to CASharp and Krissy for such a great swap experience and for sending me such beautiful minis, they are fantastic!