Blog Archive for January, 2010

I’ve been in a bit of a magazine rut lately. I pick them up, hoping for some inspiration or great imagery to strike me, but I’ve been finding them a bit… boring. I can drool over the lavish interior design and stylish models, but I can’t really afford any of it, and so much of it seems the same. But then yesterday I saw a magazine that I’d never seen before, Fresh Home, and decided to take a quick peek. And I really liked it! Even the Editor’s Letter, which I don’t usually read, was entertaining and fresh, and captured exactly my love of hardware stores as the launching spot for all kinds of imaginative projects (including stairway balusters-turned-pirate swords). It seems to feature a combination of DIY projects – useful ones! – and interior design, and for each project they list the approximate cost for doing-it-yourself, as well as the cost to buy-it-yourself, the skill level needed and the time it should take. I don’t know if it’s new or just hasn’t been on my radar, but I’m excited it’s out there – this issue is full of good advice and ideas, from storage tips to building media storage to tiling walls. Who knew you could make your own erasers?? This may prove to be dangerous…

This image has given me some good ideas for bedroom storage
My next dream project…

I’ve been sorting through my fabric closet in my attempts to get organized for the new year, and I came across my stash of antique embroideries, most of which I purchased at the Alameda Flea Market. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but I just can’t resist it. All the careful needlework, sometimes with handmade lace borders, just amazes me. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them – most of the linens are too stained to use – but I love looking at them. Maybe patches for a patchwork purse? Or appliques for a pillow? Anybody have any ideas? I’d love to hear them!

At Christmas I bought some cool hand-screened T-shirts for my brother and husband from the design team Supermaggie. I had stumbled on their booth at the Renegade Craft Fair in SF last year, and Dave and I both loved their simple graphic style. When the package arrived, it came with a beautiful hand-drawn card and personal message from the designers. A little thing, but it reminded me of how much more rewarding it is to buy from small, independent designers than big boxes. The t-shirt quality is really nice and thick, too – Dave has been wearing his more than I care to say. They have great women’s T’s too, and hand-screened bags, and felted scarves and broaches. Very cool stuff.

all images courtesy of supermaggie.comwww.supermaggie.com

It’s another foggy morning here, and though I have a bunch of design work to do today, I’m in more of an organizational mood. Dave and I have been talking about all the things we want to do this year, making resolutions (though, not surprisingly, they read more like a list of projects), and trying to get organized. And I’ve been doing the same for my business, making lists upon lists, trying to plot time-lines, and struggling with the dawning realization that there’s no way I can do everything I want to do this year. Why can’t there be more time in each day? And maybe just a little more energy to go along with it? That doesn’t seem like too much to ask…

To keep from getting overwhelmed by the organizational frenzy (and the long list of house projects that I keep noticing every time I take a break from my work), I’ve been trying to take a long walk each day in the open space near our house. It was one of the great things I discovered about our neighborhood shortly after moving in – just about 15 minutes away is this great hilly open space with trails and grazing cows (seriously!). Though I tend to be a big walker wherever I am, having a little nature around really lifts my mood and helps me clear my head. Here are some photos, sans cows. I’ll try to get some cow shots next time.

new look

01/05
Hi everybody! I’m working on a new 2010 look for the blog, so there will be some changes over the next few days. I got a little crazy with the HTML last night, and quickly realized I was out of my league and should just stick to the templates. It doesn’t look like any permanent damage was done, at least. So, if the site looks a little funny – bear with me! It’ll be snazzier soon.

Some of you may remember waaay back in May when I started a series of simple baby quilts. Well. The first one went pretty fast, but somehow I got sidetracked and… let’s just say there was a delay. So a couple of weeks ago I decided that, lest the little babes head off to college before they got their quilts, I needed a deadline. Since two of the quilts were destined for Minneapolis, I decided they needed to be finished before we left for the holidays. I got them finished in the nick of time (though Dave and my mom and I spent a sunny winter morning in her kitchen tying the binding knots).

The two quilts above are just simple rectangles stitched together (5×6″ and 6×7″ for the bigger older sister), but I decided to try a patchwork for the third quilt. Here’s the basic layout if you want to try one like it:

I made sure the patches were the correct width according to their column, but I eyeballed the length, and played around with them until I liked the way they looked, then cut the final piece to add up to the correct size. If you try it, make sure to add 1/2″ to the measurement of each patch for the seam allowance.

I used a simple envelope method for the construction, which is done before quilting or tying. Once the quilt top was pieced, I cut the batting and the backing to the same size. I lay the batting out on the floor and make sure it’s completely smoothed. The backing is centered face-up on top of the batting, and the quilt top is centered face-down on top of that. Once all three layers are smoothed and squared, I pin around the edges and at as many spots in the center as seems necessary (a lot, because it’s easy for the layers to move). Then I sew a 1/2″ seam around the edge, leaving an opening of about 12″ to turn the quilt. Once it’s sewn, I trim the edge seam to 1/4″ and clip the corners, turn, and then stitch up the opening with a whip-stitch. Finally, I either stitch the layers together, or hand tie with yarn or embroidery floss, as I did with the rectangle quilts.

Though these seemed to take me forever, they really are a lot of fun to do, and it was great seeing baby Nico scoot around on his new quilt at Christmas.

breakfast

01/02
We made current scones for breakfast this morning, and they were so good! Perfect for a chilly, foggy Saturday morning. Super simple and tasty. Here’s the recipe:
Current Scones
1 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. currents (or raisins)
1+ tsp. sugar
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, 1 T. sugar and salt.

2. Cut the shortening into the mixture until coarse.

3. Add the egg, milk and currents or raisins to the flour mixture, and combine with a few strokes until dough leaves the side of the bowl.

4. Place on a lightly greased baking pan abnd pat with lightly floured hands into a round shape (about 3/4″ thick. Sprinkle top with remaining sugar and cut into 8 wedges.

5. Bake at 425 for 12 – 15 minutes. Serve hot with butter and jam.

Happy 2010, everybody! I had no intention of taking a blog break, let alone such a long one… We just got back from a nice, long visit to (very) snowy Minneapolis, and between the holiday busy-ness and my mom’s i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.y. slow modem, all my good intentions for posts evaporated.

I hope you all had a great holiday, or winter break, or just three weeks in December! The holidays at my mom’s house are always a unique blend of old traditions and new ones, and a balance of rest and projects. This year there was a good dose of rest, thanks to a blizzard that started on the 23rd and kept up through Christmas night. The threats of record-breaking snowfall didn’t quite pan out, but it was still cozy and beautiful, and we took the opportunity to lie low and cook yummy food (and cookies!) and work on a jigsaw puzzle.

The puzzle is one of the new traditions, brought to us, along with Christmas Eve pierogies, by my (mostly) Polish husband Dave. About 10 years ago we added the tradition of a Solstice bonfire with a dinner of grilled steaks and rum cake. This year we overlooked the usual Christmas Eve tradition of singing carols around the tree, followed by glasses of brandy and an ancient recording of Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. I miss that one, but I’m sure it’ll be back next year. Besides, I’m usually asleep before the end of the first side. The new ground this year was making a Christmas day snowman, but that one is going to be weather-dependent. Seeing the patchwork of tradition and history unfold every year is one of the great things about the holidays for me. I’d love to hear your Christmas/holiday/winter traditions – there’s always room to incorporate new ones next year!

Chilly string lights
Dave making pierogi
Cooked in butter and onion, these were amazing!
Our Christmas day snowman (looking a little melty – it started to sleet)
I’m hoping this is another new tradition – my brother picked up this pumpkin cheesecake at the Norse Nook on his way through Wisconsin… probably among the most decadent deserts in memory. They have the recipe posted on their website here.
Happy 2010, everybody! I had no intention of taking a blog break, let alone such a long one! Somehow the week