Monday, August 30, 2010

what i did on my summer vacation: part one

Last week Joel and I embarked on an adventure.  Our first real vacation since our honeymoon!  Sure we had been away here and there but it was either for one night somewhere close, or we had traveled for the purpose of visiting family which is fun, but not so much true vacation.

For our vacation we chose to go to Portland!  Neither of us had even been there and were lucky enough to have some friends who live there and were willing to put us up and act as tour guides.  Krissy (a loooooong time friend) & Lucas were so gracious during our stay!

So, early (like, 3am early) we piled into the car and started the 15 hour drive from Calgary to Portland.  Over the years, my husband and I have been on more than a few road trips, and as time goes by I am liking them more and more.  Our car however, must hate them.  (108,000km in just over 3 years is a bit much)

We arrived around dinner time on Sunday (totally exhausted!) and settled into our friends small but very cute apartment.  Gary, their giant cat greeted us kindly by running circles all around our stuff.  We were all exhausted and Krissy & Lucas both had to work early the next morning, so I'm pretty sure we were all asleep very early.

The next day, the adventuring began!  We went to Multnomah Falls because really, who wouldn't want to.

Multnomah Falls

It was the hottest day of the week and sweated our ways to the top of the falls, but it was SO worth it.  The view was spectacular and there was a lovely cold creek at the top to dip our feet in and cool off.

The next day we went to the Oregon coast.  I can now proudly say my feet have been in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.  A couple of the neat things we saw while there:

The wreck of the Peter Iredale.


This ship wrecked in 1906 and after hopes that it would refloat were dashed, it was left there to slowly wash away.

Fort Stevens:

Fort Stevens-West Battery as viewed from the Parados
(borrowed from Ken Campbell Photographix's Photostream)

The only place in the continental US to be fired upon since the Civil War.  Fired on by a Japanese U-Boat during world war II, the fort (for some unknown reason) never returned fire.  One word to describe the feel of this place: creepy.

We went to Seaside and had yummy seafood because it's not so yummy when it's imported all the way to Calgary.  We tried some salt water taffy, had some ice cream, hit an outlet mall and headed home.

Other things we did while in Portland:  went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (awesome!) and checked out Powell's and Bolt.  More on those two places in the next installment.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

aprons for twins

As you must know by now, I am a nanny.  I've mentioned before how lucky I feel to have such a great job and how much I love the little ones I work with.

Well, the twins turned 2 last week!  What a great age!  I have been spending 2 or 3 days a week with A & C for almost a year and it has been an adventure every step of the way.  So of course, as their birthday neared, I was racking my brain for what to make them.  They have lots of books, toys and stuffed animals so I wanted to cross those things off the list.  I thought about a couple of ideas for dress up clothes (ballet skirt, crown, super hero cape, etc) but none seemed quite right.

Finally, it hit me!  Aprons!  What 2 year old isn't getting messy with markers, paint, food or something else all the time?  Aprons would be a great solution for keeping clothes clean but also inspiring little helpers in the kitchen.

I did a little searching online to find out sizing for the average 2 year old, looked at some pictures of kid aprons, made a couple drawings and BAM! I was on my way!  I made my own template because none of the tutorials or free patterns I had found seemed quite adjustable enough or were too big or I just didn't love the design.

Toddler Apron

A's is made from Amy Butler's Fresh Poppies in Fuschia from the Midwest Modern line and a coordinating green solid.

Toddler Apron

C's is made from MoMo's Bouncing Balls in Ivory from the Freebird collection and hte same coordinating green solid as A's.

Both aprons used a fat quarter of each fabric plus 2 selvedge to selvedge strips of the backing fabric for bias tape.  As per usual, I made my own instead of buying some.

I have to say, I am pretty darn proud of these aprons.  They are perfect.  perfect size, perfectly adjustable (I figure they will fit until 4, maybe even longer) and perfectly sewn.  Not a missed stitch or crooked seam is to be found on these babies and that's a pretty big win for me!

After the kids opened their presents, they wanted to wear them all day.  So a bit later we all donned an apron (me in their dad's Guinness apron) washed our hands and set to baking cookies!  This was their first experience baking and it was an instant hit.  It was messy and crazy and so much fun - with the hardest part being trying to keep them from eating the raw dough.

Here they are enjoying some flour and raisins on the floor while I got the cookies ready for the oven.  Aren't they SO cute??

The cookies turned out great and the kids have been asking for them non stop since then.  For those that are interested, here is the recipe (which by the way is the best oatmeal raisin recipe I've tried!)


1 1/4 cups butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups oats
1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars until smooth.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients, leaving oats and raisins aside.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.  Add in oats and raisins.  Drop by rounded spoonful approximately 2" apart.  Bake for 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies.

I've been considering writing a tutorial/patter for the apron, but I wanted to gauge interest before I went to the trouble.  Would any of you be interested in said pattern/tutorial (for free)?  If so, please let me know and I will post one in the coming weeks with a giveaway attached to it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

giveaway alert!

In case you haven't heard:  Darci of Stitches and Scissors is having a giveaway!  This extremely talented and creative blogger is celebrating two great things - her 10 year anniversary (yay for them!) and the grand opening of her new Etsy shop.

The winner of the giveaway will win something handmade especially for them from a selection of fabrics.  What a great prize!

So head on over, say hello, give her a nice warm internet hug and try to win yourself something!

s&s button

P.S.  I think I may start posting about other people's giveaways as a regular thing.  Isn't it nice to hear about other giveaways and discover new blogs?  Is that something you guys would be interested in?  Let me know!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

plain spoken II

Plain Spoken II - Top Complete

Another finish! I think I had mentioned in the post about the first plain spoken quilt that I had cut enough pieces for a second. Well, those pieces were set aside for someone and then they got something else and so the pieces stayed aside for a while. Since May.

I had been dreading plain spoken II since I first conceived of it. Mainly because I didn't love making the first one and had troubles matching seams. As it turns out, following the directions makes a big difference! (Why have I not learned this lesson yet??)

Going from memory (because I don't own The Modern Quilt Workshop and have to try and get it from the library when I need it but didn't want to go hunt it down).  I realized that my biggest mistake the first time around was the way I laid it out.  Rather than pair randomly and then layout the pairs in a suitable combination, I had laid out each individual piece until I liked the overall design and then tried to painstakingly piece them together.

This time around I paired then laid out then pieced and it was wonderful.  This is my reason I came up with: because my cutting wasn't exactly superb, when I tried to piece one after another it started to get a little crooked and I didn't notice until it came to matching seams between rows.  Doh!

I think I may actually love this pattern now!  (That is a darn good thing too because I now have a king sized version to make!! More on that later.)  This quilt top is officially the most "perfect" top I have made to date.  All the seams match up, the lines are straight and the top is square!  I feel a little silly saying this now after 2 years of quilting, but it has definitely been a learning process and I think repeating the same pattern has helped me trouble shoot some things.

Like in my pink patchwork quilt I stuck with ironing seams in opposite directions and it really really helps in matching seams from row to row.

The final top measure a little less than 50 x 70 which is because I chose to make a more square quilt than the recommended size in the book.  Now I just need to figure out how to quilt it.  I am stuck between straight line quilting close together (think less than .50 inch) or the recommended meandering type of free motion.  Any votes?

Plain Spoken II - Top Complete

As a final note:  this is what happens when you try to photograph in the wind.  It's ALWAYS windy in Calgary, so this is becoming an issue.  Oh well, it makes for a fun outtake!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

mini quilt wip: i dream in waves of green and blue

The swap group I belong to on Flickr (Swap Till You Drop) has switched to a bi-monthly swap schedule as opposed to the previous every month schedule.  I decided that since I have 2 whole months to do the mini I would sign up for both categories!

I hadn't yet given much thought to what I would make for the Anything Goes category, but last week I recieved this:

STUD July/August Anything Goes - Received

Is that not absolutely amazing?  CASharp, my partner for the Anything Goes category is clearly a pro.  Not only is the pattern cute and bright but it is full of extra bits and pieces that you have to look closely to appreciate.  How about the fact that it's all hand quilted?  How about the perfectly mitered corners or the little buttons?  How about the millions of tiny bits of embroidery including what I can only estimate to be more than 100 french knots?

STUD July/August Anything Goes - Received

The back is just as cute:

STUD July/August Anything Goes - Received

Oh yes, and there was a pile of goodies included in the package.  Thread, and a magazine and fat quarters - she is just too generous!!

Obviously this fantastic partner is in store for more than just an ordinary old mini quilt.  I try to make something unique and special and well crafted for everyone I swap with, but sometimes even with all my effort I'm not necessarily happy with the end result. (See Favourite Things mini.)

I decided that since I have always wanted to play with half square triangles and zig zags in particular that I should try it out on CASharp.  I immediately went to my favourite scrap bin - the blue and green one!  Out came a pile of bits and pieces from such wonderful designers as Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry and Joelle Hoverson, and I couldn't be stopped.  This is one of those magical projects (like the Wonky Baby Girl quilt) that even though it is labor intensive, the sheer beauty of the fabrics compels you to keep on going.

HST Piles

Boy did I get a lesson in how time consuming half square triangles are!  I started with squares 2.5" square, sewed them together using this technique (oh and finally tried chain piecing - what was I thinking sewing piles of pieces any other way??).  I then ironed them all with the seams to the dark side, trimmed them all down to 2" square and then started the lay out.

This is what I came up with:

A New Project

I am absolutely tickled by this!  I couldn't be happier with the calm yet funky feel.  Mixed into all the pure white is a bit of Kona snow just for kicks.

As of now, the mini is quilted, bound and almost done.  I felt like it needed a little something special before it's sent on it's way, so I'm working on that still.

Pictures of the finished product to come, I promise.