Friday, June 28, 2013

Made for the Fourth

I got a new camera!  And my garden is blooming!
I was made for the fourth anniversary.  The traditional gifts, flowers and fruits (especially when you dessertify them) are some of my favorite things.  It's so much easier than the leather anniversary (I gave him permission to buy a pair of boat shoes) but not as easy as paper (a card - I mean, hopefully we'll be doing this for many years to come, so let's try to keep expectations low, right?).

Lucky for me a couple weeks before the big day Gesine Prado posted this fruit tart on her blog with the kiwis shaped like fleurs and I was like, I see fruits and flowers. Done.

And done:

I love this recipe – a custard that doesn’t get cooked on a stovetop (I’m an excellent custard curdler) and such a unique and lovely shape.  It’s the easiest recipe I’ve done of hers, and the bake time was exactly right. 

I ended up with both extra crust and extra filling, and I’m still kicking myself for not using my little tartlette pans to make a couple individuals as well.  I was in a rush and serving it right away, so I skipped the jam-glaze top.  I expect I’ll be making this again soon.  Different designs on top will be fun to do and how else am I going to use up the graham flour?

Now for the quilt! While not an anniversary present, I do consider this my marriage quilt; a fabric chosen by each of us (you'll never guess who chose the red) and made for our a king-size bed.

The quilt top is the Orange Peel (oh, see, this does tie into fruits and flowers!) from Denyse Schmidt's Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.  She does it applique, but the thought of appliqueing 162 x 4 moons made me want to cry.  Also, I consider myself pretty amateur at everything from free motion quilting to paper piecing, but there is one thing I do expertly, and that is sew a curve!  So I made some plastic templates and sewed 648 moons.  I kept to a strict and disciplined schedule (this was back  in the world of two daily baby naps) and sewed eight squares a day. There were some miscalculations (oh right, the squares are on point! Twice as many!) so I got to know the ladies at the Cambridge Quilt Shop real well.  It took me two months.

As for the actual quilting, which is just the most lovely thing, echoing the pattern of the piecing, this was done by Georgette Gagne of Black Wolf Quilting Studio.  I wanted it quilted the way it was in the book, which would have meant stopping, clipping threads and starting over again six times for each square and no long armer in their right mind wants to do that.  I mean, that's just crazy.  So we came up with a design that would be similar, using one continuous line.  But in the end Georgette decided that the design we'd come up with looked too much like a spider's web and did it the super-hard, time-consuming and annoying way ANYWAY.  I can't tell you how much I love and appreciate it.

164 times, people.
I plan to sleep under this myself for many years to come, so it's incredibly satisfying to look at the quilting pattern and know that it is just right, just how I wanted it, no compromises.  So thank you Georgette, for what must have been a hard week!!

You can really see her work on the back, I unintentionally got a reversible quilt!

I had it back from Georgette, in a corner of my room for about six months, thinking it was going to take forever to bind.  But when the weather got a little warmer and the Killing started up again, the binding went pretty quickly.

For our wedding we wrote our own (matching) vows and someone had the genius idea of memorizing them.  Of course I forgot one.  So I embroidered it onto the edge that would fall on his side of the bed. “I promise to protect you and take care of you and allow you to take care of me.”  

The quilt top came out to 108 by 113 inches, which turned out to be too big, so I cut off a row and made pillowcases out of it.  Here it is all together.  I never have the heart to move sleeping cats.

 So happy fourth babe!

I hear the for the fifth you should be making me something out of wood, so get planning!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just Me, Myself and I

Who are these people that belong to Costco?  Apparently they’re folks with more self-control than I have.  I accompanied a friend the other day, wondering if I could make the most of a membership now that I’m a mother with basement storage.  Do I know myself at all?  To be fair, I bought laundry detergent and a really nice hose.  But I also bought this:

And these:

“Why did you get 110?” “Dude, it's COSTCO.”

The cream puffs did not turn out to be that big a mistake.  I probably would have passed right by the freezer case, but I remembered that a friend's ex-boyfriend circa 1999 used to eat these frozen by the handful, so they must’ve been good right? 

Here’s the secret.  You have to let them defrost ALL the way, and then you have to smother them in Dilletante Truffle Sauce.  I discovered Dilletante in high school.  My friend and I would take our babysitting money to their cafĂ© “for lunch” and order the Ephemere Sunday.  It’s ruined me for any other chocolate sauce.  I fill my suitcase every time I’m in Seattle.  

And while we’re on the subject of Seattle and chocolates, Fran’s salted caramels are another thing we stock up on.  Obama’s favorite truffle, they say.  *ahem* Mom, our anniversary is coming up next week and this is all that's left on our shelf:

And if I’m going to recommend ALL my favorite ready-made desserts to people, I have to mention these Dragonfly petit fours.  If you facebook like them they tell you when there are special deals. They make a lovely gift, but you want to make sure you're with the person receiving them so you get a taste.

But back to crafty.  After the recent slew of baby gifts (and another niece quilt top finished!) I decided it was time for some ‘dessert.’  You know, stuff that's just for moi, for no particular reason.  

So armed with a couple of patterns for me and my ideas for a J quilt, I headed to my favorite store.   Tumbleweed Quilts has thousands of fabrics; from modern to grandma and everything in between, all perfectly organized.  I have to have a project in mind or it gives me a little panic attack. 

I spent the morning there, designing J's travel quilt in my mind and buying these fabrics for it:

Then I picked out a couple more for a wallet I'd been wanting to make.  It's another blush bunny creation (see the makeup bag I did from her here).  You can buy the pattern for this wallet here.  I can't rave enough about it.  Her directions are so clear (complete with color pictures) an amateur could make this.  What with zippers and pockets and hand binding it was a five hour project for me that I did over the weekend.  This is her version:

And I have to say I'm quite happy with mine!

And finally enough card slots for even my AAA and Mass Audobon cards!

The pouch is the perfect size for a phone!:

It's like the wallet-purse I've always wanted.

Continuing in the all-about-me theme, I love shott cottons. They're really thin and are one color shot through with threads of a different color, giving them a lot of depth.  Tumbleweeds has a big selection (I made Amari and Alillia's patchwork out of them) and I knew they'd be perfect for this pattern that I've had for awhile:

You have to be careful with a tunic and quilting cotton.  The fabric designs seduce you and then you sew it up and you look fat fat fat.  So since the shott cotton is thin and drapey, I got some of that while I was at tumbleweeds and whipped this girl up in ONE J NAP.  That's 2.5 hours from first cut to finish! I think this photo gets the color right:

Here I am all turquoised out.

Sorry no face, I don't feel like putting on lipstick right now.  I'm not sure I love it, it's not necessarily the most flattering thing, but sometimes a girl gets sick of sucking it all in.  It'll do for those days.  We'll see, I might shorten to shirt length.

Back to the big projects next week, but it's been fun indulging.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Baby Waits For No Man

Two more this spring, both boys.  I'm having a hard time keeping up with all these new babies, but I do my best!  I wasn't going to go blue for these two- I had a total red and turquoise color scheme in mind, but sometimes my fabric fantasies are a season behind.  I started out with this Heaven and Helsinki fabric from Michael Miller because I love it:

I'm enjoying smaller quilts these days; good for cribs and strollers and playing on the floor when you haven't bothered to vacuum in awhile (in my defense, I'm not the one throwing cottage cheese around).  So these boys both got simple quilts.  I've been experimenting with more embroidery lately, and I wanted to incorporate that.  This was definitely a project where more work went into the embroidery than into the half-square triangles.  The pattern is from Little Stitches by Aneela Hoey.  She does the sweetest simple drawings (check out the one I embroidered on "your sister has curls").

This was for my college roommate (and so much more) who just had baby Mateo in March:

I used the kite-flyer pattern Aneela quilted in the book - of course 3/4 of the way through the embroidery I spilled ice tea on it, leaving a big stain.  So the kite had to be a bit bigger and lower than originally planned.  In order to keep the drawing centered on the white square I'd already cut down, I added some birdies.

I got panicky about time and cheated with some appliqued jeans.  With the embroidery I was trying to get my stitches too look like real chunky yarn on the sweater

and a lot of effort went into trying to get his hair to look like it was really windswept.

For the back, I used a fluffy bathrobe material, but I wish I'd used Minky.  This was really thick to quilt with, the needle kept bringing the blue fur through the batting, so I kept it as simple as possible.  I finished M's quilt second and by then I'd worked up the nerve to try my own satin binding instead of Wright's.  I miscalculated so it's not nearly as wide as I wanted it to be, but it had a much more finished look since I bound it blind-stitch style.  I'd do it this way again if I have to do another baby quilt. Don't you like the way I say that like maybe all my friends are magically done procreating?

and with the happy family:

The second one was for a good friend/favorite old co-worker who gave birth to baby Z THIS MORNING (which I know because I just texted her - yes I'm that friend that calls/texts when you're in labor with no respect for personal space).  For hers I worked up the nerve to do my own embroidery pattern.  I still can't draw, but I gathered together a bunch of different images and I traced/sketched them to get this little guy who, I now notice, is a little out of proportion:

This is a horrible picture, but sometimes a gray day and an Iphone just don't mix:

The point is, I was really proud of the french knots for his hair - though if I had it to do again I would've used just one or two strands instead of three, and I would do a million of them.  But who knows, by the time he's ten maybe the jheri curl will be back in style.

I bound Z's first, and used Wrights. I'm still a whiner about the texture of it, but I do really like the color - I couldn't find satin quite this shade for Mateo's quilt.

Alright, back to the salt mines.