Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Sister's Quilt - Update

Here it is - the top of the quilt all laid out. I wanted to get an idea of layout and placement so I could ensure there was a good balance of color. After fiddling around a bit (and playing with the pattern) this is what I came up with. Now all Ineed to do is join everything together.

Hopefully I can work on it this weekend. Lately it has been tough to put 10 minutes together. LOL! I had hoped to have it done by Christmas, but at this pace it may be a first anniversary gift.

With friendship,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Sister's Quilt #2

I guess it's time to do a little update on the progress of my sister's wedding quilt. Despite the lag between posts, I have been quite busy. The front squares are completely ready and I'm working on the back squares now. For the front, I took the fans that my grandmother hand-quilted and set them into an unbleached muslin fabric. I chose the muslin because there was so much variety in the fan colors that I didn't want to take away from them. That, and the fact that the unbleached quality makes it appear older is very appealing.

After insetting each fan quarter into the muslin piece, I then went back and embroidered along the seams. I originally planned to do different color thread with different patterns, but ultimately decided that off-white would compliment the quilt best. Also, by keeping the embroidery simple, I think it helps unify the quilt. While doing the embroidery I quilted each fan to a piece of batting.

Next step is to do the back the same way - cut, assemble, quilt & emboider. Then, I can start joining the pieces!

My goal is to have this done by Christmas. Wish me luck!

With friendship,


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mummy Cake

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no Martha Stewart. I'll also be the first to admit that cooking is not my forte. Yet, for some strange reason I am constantly compelled to try and recreate those fabulous cake designs I see in Better Homes & Garden or on those Food Network Challenge shows. I even scoff at those cake disasters on the Cake Wrecks website ( I can do BETTER! MMMUUUUHAHAHAHAHA!

I have no cooking skills. None. Nada. Zip. I can burn ice.

I also know that when it comes to cake decorating, I'm all thumbs. Heck, even someone with all thumbs could do better.

But alas, something pushes me to try. Some glimmer of hope shines periodically in the core of my soul that tells me "this time will be different!"

I know it will turn out bad. Really. Really. Bad. Yet, I still pull out the cake pans and mixer.

This month's inspiration was the mummy cupcakes found on the Better Homes & Garden website:

Adorable, aren't they? They look easy enough. Chocolate cake mix, white frosting and some eyes. EASY-PEASY!

The trip to the panty revealed no chocolate cake mix. Fine, I'll make my own. Two hours later I was armed with a chocolate cake recipe that I found here: Fabulous recipe. Takes great! It's definately a keeper.

I put together the batter and realized I did not have cupcake liners. No worries, I'll just make a three-tiered cake instead. This, my friends, is when I should have awoken Vince.

With cake in the oven I set off to get the frosting. Darn. No white frosting. We have chocolate and milk chocolate and some strange yellow stuff left over from last month's Sponge Bob cake, but no white. Off to search the internet for a buttercream frosting recipe! I found this one - also wonderful. It's so good you'll want to slap someone.

I really liked how she explained how to swap out flavors and change the texture. Tips I knew that my new-found-made-from-scratch-cake-decorating-diva-company-extrodinare could benefit from.

Yes, you SHOULD be laughing at me by now. At this point my 3-year-old had toddled in and said, "Oh No! Mommy cooking!"

But, I was not to be discouraged.

The cakes came together well. They were a little difficult to get out of the pan, but I knew that putting them in the freezer for 5 minutes would solve that. Just a little tip I learned from soap making.

The tiers came out a little more rounded on the top than I had hoped, so I got out my trusty knife to try and even them out. Again, should have awoken the V-Man at this point.

I got my first layer on the plate, then proceeded to frost.

Hmmm. the frosting was separating and starting to run down the sides. After double-checking the recipe I realized at this point that I had used too much butter.

After allowing the cake to sit a few moments, I kind of liked how the oozing was looking. I mean, I was going for a mummy cake after all. Maybe it would be more scary than cute, but I was on the right track.

I added the next layers. Cool, oozing effect all around. But, I knew the top needed to be a bit more stiff. That's when I remembered I could add more powdered sugar to the recipe to get a stiffer recipe.

Darn, out of powdered sugar. Regular sugar will work, right? (Vince is still sleeping at this point, blissfully unaware of what I'm doing to his kitchen).

I added more sugar to get a better consistency. Still a little runny, but good enough for my now scary cake. And it still tasted good and now had a cool crunchy effect!

TA DA! Here's the finished pic:

I even managed to make some eyes with the frosting.

Okay, okay. I KNOW it looks terrible. I know it deserves to be featured in a "don't let this happen to you article." I know this.

But, it tastes amazing. And, since I didn't show the kids what I was trying to make, they are
none the wiser.

With friendship,


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Pics are In

I thought it would be a good idea to put up a pic of my sis wearning the bead-woven bracelet I made for her. I think it looked beautiful with her dress. I also made the veil. That was a very last minute thing, but it turned out great and looked beautiful on her. Now I can add "veil-making" to my bag of tricks.

This is a pic of Jen dancing with our Dad. This was taken in her backyard. I tell you, sitting on her back deck watching the sun go down every night would be hard to get used to - NOT! I think I may have fallen in love with Seattle.

With friendship,


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wedding Soap

My little sister is getting married next month. As part of my gift to her, I made 20 bars of handmade soap that she can give as gits and keep for herself. She picked lavender and lemongrass for the scents since that is popular in Seattle, and she selected goat's milk as the base. This is one luxurious soap!

I decided to wrap the soaps in a double cigar-band and included their names & wedding date. I was even able to match the font from the wedding invitation.

The package of soap smelled really good - the postal worker kept sniffing the box. I hope Jen loves it as much as I do.

With friendship,


Friday, July 30, 2010

Hand Embroidered Tea Towels - A Reminder of Mamaw

As far back as I can remember, my Mamaw use to hand embroider tea towels and pillow cases. She had a cedar hope chest in her guest bedroom that was overflowing with set after set of tea towels and pillow cases that were ready for the next wedding, housewarming or Christmas gift. She was very fast and sewing these, and I'm sure this was in her top two pasttimes (the other being baking).

When she passed, I inherited most of her sewing stuff. When I finally gathered the courage to go back through everything I had, I found several sets that she had already prepared for embroidery. This set in particular was set off to the side, and I found the thread she had planned to use - even down to the pre-threaded needle. The colors? Blue, mustard yellow, green and red - my sister's house colors. Since my sister also loves muslin, how much more perfect could it be?

I wish I could be in Seattle when Jen opens her box and sees these at the bottom. I know she will love them and she will smile with a fond memory of Mamaw.

With friendship,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini Quilt - A Little Crazy

Originally posted in 2006 on my old Quilt Journey blog, which is now retired.

I've always wanted to learn how to crazy quilt, so I decided to take the plunge.

I've always loved crazy quilts - even the ones that were done with traditional fabrics. I had always imagined how cool they would look with some of the crazy fabrics I like so much. My first attempt at the process was a joke. I couldn't figure out how to do it! That was about a year ago and I never tried again.

A few months back I caught a Martha Pullen episode on PBS where she demonstrated how to crazy quilt. AH HA! Now I knew the trick! I immediately began the search for fabrics on which to try my newfound skill. I found a few sources on ebay that sold fabric scraps and purchased about 5 pounds worth. (My hubby just scratched his head when the packages arrived).

I decided that I wanted to do something for fall, so I picked out some beautiful silks from my stash. Following the instructions that Martha provided, I was off and running.

I pieced the two quilts using the traditional crazy quilt method. Once the piecing was done, I used poly and rayon threads to add decorative stitches. (Next time I plan to use some pearl crown in the bobbin, but I was being somewhat conservative for my first time.) I'm not sure I'm done with these two pieces - I think they may want to become my new fall bag . . .

With friendship,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mini Quilt: Squares

Like most quilters, I cannot bear to part with fabric, no matter how small the scrap. So, instead of tossing out those scraps I cut them up into two-inch squares and place them in a big bin. I've done this for years and now have quite a collection.


I found this fabric a while back and fell in love. (Can you relate?) I had no plans for it at the time, so it hung around for a while. I ultimately ended up making a pair of pants from it and cut the leftovers into squares. I decided to play with the squares a bit and see what happened. I have to say I was surprised. When the stripes all go the same way, I see more brown. Whey they are alternated, I see more pink.


Nothing too mysterious on this one. I started with the two-inch squares, turned every-other-one 90 degrees and sewed them together. I was going to do some quilting, but ultimately decided against it. I have a tendency to quilt my pieces to death, so leaving this one simple is a bit of a challenge for me (we'll see how long I last before I attack).

With friendship,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Sister's Cuff

One of my favorite things to do is beadweaving. When my sister announced her engagement, I was dying to make her a cuff. I've been wanting to do a piece with pearls for a very long time, so I was excited when she told me to give it a go. My mom has a broach that belonged to my grandmother. It is gold with tiny ivory pearls throughout. I thought it would be perfect to incorporate that "something old" with "something new." Here are the pictures of my progress so far.

This is the broach from my grandmother. I added the big pearl in the middle. I also left the pin on the back so that Jen can remove it later, if desired. It is secured to the bracelet, but can be removed with a few snips.
You probably noticed above that the left and right side don't match. I got the right side done but then stopped and wondered if the left side looked better. What do you think?
Here is the left side - no extra pearls.

Here is the right side with the extra pearls. I am truly torn!

Here is a side view showing what both sides look like with the broach.

And here is the clasp. It is simple with three pearls that are hooked into three loops. Sorry for the first pic being so blurry!

So, which side do you prefer? The more simple side or the side with the extra pearls?
With friendship,


Monday, July 19, 2010

My Sister's Quilt

In the last month or so I've been working on a quilt for my sister. It will be a wedding gift . . most likely a LATE wedding gift. My sister really appreciates vintage items and loves anything handmade. If you can tie it to some sort of historical or family significance, even better.

When she approached me about making her a quilt I immediately remembered a dusty box stored in the top of my closet that had not been opened in several years. I inherited that box when our grandmother passed several years back. I had not opened it in years becausing doing so brought on a flood of tears. I knew that box contained a stack of hand-stitched blocks our grandmother had diligently worked on for years.

I mustered up the courage to open the box and I was delighted to find enough blocks to make at least three queen-sized quilts. I took pictures of the various blocks and send them to my sister. She selected the fans.

In total there are 125 fans, and it looks like I'll need most of them to make a queen-sized quilt. Due to wide size variations in the hand-piecing, I had to cut all of them down to 6.5 x 6.5 squares (they were originally scaled to be 7.5 x 7.5). It broke my heart to do so, but then I realized my grandmother would much rather see them cut and put to good use than sitting in a dusty old box hidden from view.

Here are the pictures of the original fans. They are all different - I have not found two that are exactly the same. I'll share more pictures as my work progresses.

With friendship,


Friday, July 16, 2010

Inspiration: Jill2Day

I have always had a love of fashion design and even had a period where I was designing children's clothing and selling them on ebay. I still dream of someday designing clothing for women. In particular, I would love to design clothing for plus-sized women since everything seems to be designed for the older generation. (Hey - hellooooooo . . . just because we're plus-sized doesn't mean we want to dress like grandma!)

Recently I've spent some time noodling on what I would design if I could sew a sleeve in properly, and I came across Jill2Day on Etsy ( I love her eye for color, how she designs so the clothing will be flattering, how she upcycles and, most of all, how her clothing reminds me of quilting. You simply must check out her shop. She even offers stacks of fabrics that you can then have designed in your own custom piece. How cool is that?

Jill, hon, you really got to write a book or tutorial or SOMETHING. I'm dying to buy one . . .

With friendship,


Quilt Journey

Over the years I have found myself trying new things - jewelry, silversmithing, soap making, lotion making, scrapbooking, clothing design . . . but I always seem to return to quilting. I remember watching my grandmothers quilt as a little girl. I recall both of them teaching me techniques - one taught me machine piecing and the other taught me hand quiliting & embroidery. In total, I've probably made well over 50-100 quilts, but my personal collection is quite small. I have a tendency to keep the smaller works for myself and give away the functional quilts as gifts.

In the last few months I've had to stay away from my newer hobbies due to severe tendonitis in my wrists. During that time I've been quilting again. Ahhh . . .how I've missed it. Unlike my newer passions where I am wholly focused on what I'm doing, quilting gives me the opportunity to let my mind wander. During one of these wanderings I remembered that, several years back, I was going to do a new quilt every week. I think I did six weeks before life got in the way. Perhaps its time to revive that mission.

In the meatime, I thought I would share those works, and start talking more about what I'm working on between the stuffed animals (made another donation this week, by the way - 50 toys!) And, I'll share some of my top inspirations along the way.

So, welcome to my quilt journey. It will be a slow, relaxing trip.

With friendship,


Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Plushies for Childrens

A few months ago my mom and I got together for an overnight sewing party. We used the time to create more critters for Children's Hospital. I made more Nemes, Nums and Worms (I tend to like repetitive stuff . . . guess that's the quilter in me), but Mom is a "one and done" sewer, so she made a variety. That could explain why she LOVES LOVES LOVES to make clothing, but the thought makes me want to run screaming for the hills.

Seriously. You would think with my mad skills I could sew a simple top that has no sleeves, zippers or crazy darts, but alas, I cannot. I did give it the ole college try that night. The shirt is now part of my scrap pile and will most likely make an appearance in future plushies. :)

Now, I can sew simple crop pants . . . .

Anywho . . .here are the pics. I actually have more cut up and ready to sew, but I ran out of my CPISA and FTC labels. Hopefully I'll get those soon so I can finish this batch.

Nemes, Nums, Worms

Mom's Critters

With friendship,


Monday, May 17, 2010

Observations of a Craft Show

In the past two months I've done three craft shows (which is why it has been so long since my last post - I am TIRED). Two shows were at the same venue (it's a monthly show) and the other was a one-day annual show. After sitting out in the heat for a sum total of six days, setting up and tearing down for twelve times and driving back and forth endless miles, I made a few observations.

1. It's good to have a sense of humor. This pays off especially well when no one will stop by your booth - even if you are giving away free stuff.

2. There will always be someone there selling the same stuff as you, but for some reason their stuff appears to be selling better. Who knows for sure if it really is. Maybe they paid those people to stop in the booth? I may try this technique at my next show . . .

3. People will pay $5.00 for a grease-laden corney dog that will make you sick, but won't spend $5.00 on that item they ooohed and ahhhed over in your booth for ten minutes.

4. Most of the people at the show are just there to look around/be seen/see who they see/get out of the house/because they are bored/fill in the blank. If by chance you do get someone to stop in, they probably won't buy. Heck, I gave away free samples this past weekend and those didn't even move. I mean, why would you not take a free sample of soap? Do you not bathe? (See item #1 for how to deal with this).

5. Whatever you make, their mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter/cousin/dog make the same thing and make it better/cheaper/faster/cuter/bigger/smaller. My all time favorite variation of this is the person that acts like they don't like your stuff, but then you see them take pictures, make a quick sketch or even ask about your process. I had a few soapers grill me this past weekend. Of course, their technique was FAR superior to mine. Whatever. I make no apologies for doing something I love.

6. All vendors will chat with each other and talk about how terrible their sales are that day. The customers just aren't buying. Maybe it's the weather/economy/date/etc.

7. All vendors will chat with each other and talk about how great their sales are that day. The customers are in a buying frenzy! Maybe it's the weather/economy/date/etc.

8. Don't believe any sales figures the other vendors quote. Evaluate your own success. That may be $10 over your booth fee or $1000 over your booth fee. Only you know what makes sense for your business.

9. Any booth you are in will be too small/big/hot/cold/flat/crooked/bright/dark.

10. Any assigned space you are in will be too close or too far from the entrance/exit/food/bathrooms.

11. There will always be another vendor selling similar items as yours for a lesser price. All the "how do they do it so cheaply" thoughts will only make you crazy.

12. There will always be another vendor selling similar items as yours for a higher price. All the "how do they get that price" thoughts will only make you crazy.

13. People don't like you to yell out "come to my booth and look at my stuff." They just walk on by.

14. People like you to yell out "come to my booth and look at my stuff." They will pass you if you don't invite them in.

So, what have I learned from this? Just have a good attitude, keep creating and show pride if your product.

Happy craft show season.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Anticipation

Next weekend I will have my first show for my bath & body products. I've done shows before for my scrapbooking kits and art stamps, so I think that's what is keeping me from losing my mind. Yet I am still nervous. There's always that "what if I flop and sell nothing" thought that tries to creep in. But, in reality I just know that won't happen. After all, my products are doing well in a local shop and everyone needs to bathe at some point. :)

The only glitch I've had is that part of my supply order that was supposed to be delivered three weeks ago has gone missing. Fortunately, my supplier is replacing the order at no charge to me, but some of the items were out of stock. This means I won't get what I need until Wednesday this week. That leaves me no time to make any more products, so I will be doing the show with a little less product that I had hoped.

It's funny. . . when I realized that my first reaction was to get upset. I've been in the business world for so long that I immediately was trying to figure out a contingency plan, determine a communication strategy, blah blah blah. Then it hit me.

"Wait, I am the owner, president, CEO, diva, queen, etc. of this shop. I can make the decision that what I have is plenty."

So I did.

Perhaps this is one of the joys of business ownership? I like it.

With friendship,


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monster Love Has Been Spread

This past Thursday morning I dropped off all the Nemes, Nums and Worms at the local Children's hospital. I had 52 items in total, which amounted to about 8 good weekends of work. I thought for sure that would last a while.

Well, I got a call on Friday and was told that they had all been adopted by the patients. Apparently, they were a big hit! I was planning to make more after a 6-8 week break, but it sounds like I need to get busy. After all, putting a smile on a kiddo's face is what it's all about. I know every time Mikey has surgery he loves getting his new blanket or toy.

I'm off to the monster factory!

With friendship,


Monday, March 29, 2010

Nemes are Done!

HORRAY! Here is the pic. I think they turned out great. The biggest challenge was keeping Mikey from adopting them all

Now I need to decide if I'm ready to do another round . . .

With friendship,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Soaps & Lotions

I was a busy little bee this weekend. I created 5 new soaps and 2 new lotions. Here are pics of two of the soaps. The first is Happy Karma and the second is Lavender Lemongrass which is made with lemongrass essential oil. Very yummy.

The other three soaps are french milled, so they are curing right now. When they are done I'll post pics of those.

The two new lotion flavors are Strawberry Champagne and Cocount Cake. These were special requests from one of the sales managers at the boutique where I cosign. I think they were excellent suggestions and am very pleased with the results.

Despite spending all the time in the kitchen this weekend, the fridge left me alone. Maybe it knew I needed to get some serious stuff done . . .

With friendship,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Refrigerator is Evil

Yes, it really is.

After a string of accidents ranging from a severely bruised toe to a dozen eggs crashing to the floor in only a few brief weeks, I've deicided it's the refrigerator's fault. You see, all of these "accidents" occur while I'm either taking stuff out, putting stuff in, or passing by the fridge.

Don't believe me? I present the evidence. . .

01/01/2010 at 0500 hours - went to get morning juice for the kiddo and found the left over champage from the night before had popped its cork. Entire contents of fridge now alcholoic.

02/14/2010 at 1200 hours - removed pre-made casserole from fridge with the intention of placing in oven to cook. Casserole dropped breaking dish and sending food flying. Some even hit the ceiling.

02/15/2010 at 1800 hours - re-attempt at cooking pre-made casserole foiled again. This time the concents overflowed the container while cooking causing the oven to catch on fire. The fridge did nothing to intervene.

3/18/2010 at 0800 hours - after removing item from fridge went to take a shower. Slipped in shower and sustained multiple bruises and a huge sense of embarassment.

3/20/2010 at 1700 hours - opened left door of fridge to place newly-made gallon of ice tea inside. Upper shelf "grabbed" the top of the jug causing me to lose my grip. Tea came crashing down on my left foot resulting in a severaly black and blue big toe.

3/27/2010 at 0900 hours - went to place new carton of eggs in the fridge. Right door swung back and smacked me in the back causing me to drop the eggs. All eggs broken.

Daily - Each day the ice in the ice maker flies out. Mikey thinks it's a game and picks up the ice and throws it in the sink.

Weekly - I usually sustain a new bruise from the door whacking me in the arm while I'm trying to remove or add contents.

Note: none of the above has happened with a credible witness around. My two-year-old has seen a few things, but he's not talking. I think he knows the fridge keeps his juice cold.

You may think I'm crazy . . . "a fridge can't target a specific person," you may say. Consider this . . no one else in the house has been injured.

And no, I don't think it's just me . . .

With friendship and fridge fear,


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Worms! More Soap!

The black & white worms are finally finished! WOO HOO! I'm doing the happy dance. And yes, these things ARE taking over my house.

I also created four new soaps a few weeks back. I've been so busy listing lotions lately I forgot to share.
Green Tea, Cucumber & Honey. These were fun to make and the scent is wonderful.

Sweetened Honey Goat's Milk. This one is fragrance and color free and has a great lather.

Spa Tonic. My newest men's scent. It smells very good and I love it when hubby uses it. I also like the nice, cool blue stripe down the middle.

Granola Bar. Yep, it's soap. This was my first attempt at french milled soap and I am very pleased with the results. I've used a bar for the past couple of weeks and it has a nice lather and great exfoliating properties. I included real oats and almonds in a castile base. It feels great on the skin.

More later! Today is my last day of vacation and I'm trying to get as much done as possible. I have my first show coming up in two weeks and I am so behind!
With friendship,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

Snow is predicted for us this weekend. What the heck? It's the first day of spring for crying out loud! We actually managed to get started on the yard work yesterday, but really needed a full weekend to get it all done. (Don't you just hate that very first weekend of yard work every year?)

I also have 9 million earrands to run today and really don't want to go out. It's rainy and cold right now. I really would prefer to just cuddle up on the couch and watch TV all day.


Okay, enough whining . . . time to get my butt in gear and get stuff done. After all, 9 milliion errands do take a while . . .

With friendship,


Monday, March 15, 2010

Blue Worms & Nums Done!

As an update on the Children's project, I am happy to report that the Blue Worms and the Nums are done. Here are the pics:

Blue Worms - I made 9 of these in total.

Nums - 10 of these. Mikey names these "Nums." I think it works out nicely since he named the skinnier version "Nemes." Better names than I could have come up with, that's for sure!

I have 9 more black & white worms to stuff and stitch, and 14 Nemes to sew, turn, stuff and stitch. I ran out of batting so I had to stop, but hopefully I can knock those out next week. In total, I'll have 52 stuffed toys to donate when I'm done.

Whew . . no wonder I'm tired!

Oh, and while taking pics of all this yesterday, some general silliness broke out. Enjoy the pics:

With friendship,

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