Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Toy Society Christmas

If you haven't heard of The Toy Society, it's a fun organization that started as a small street art project by an Australian crafter named Bianca in 2008 and has spread around the world. The Society encourages crafters of all skill levels to make a handmade toy and leave it as a gift for a lucky recipient to find. The drops and finds are documented on their blog. These "Random Acts of Craft" are fun for everyone.

The Toy Society is having their third annual World Wide Christmas Drop the last weekend before Christmas (December 17-19). If you'd like to play along, sign up to get more information.

I've done three drops, but the recipients have never recorded their finds. Maybe I'll get lucky this holiday season. Now what to make? Any ideas (i.e., easy tutorials) you can share?

Drop #457 -- Hubert the Sock Dog
Hubert at High School
Drop #458 -- Square Bear
Square Bear at Chik-fil-A
Drop #1208 -- Matryoshka Doll
Here she is chilling at the library. Really. It's freezing there!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Our dinner was wonderful and we're getting through those leftovers. I even splurged and had a piece of pecan pie. Oh my. It's an ugly pie, but it's so good. At least I didn't eat it for breakfast like some people in my family. I stuck with dressing and green bean casserole for breakfast, thank you very much. What? That's practically health food!

My three quilts came back from Eagle Mountain Quilting Saturday. She's so fast. They look great and I actually put the binding on one of them. I didn't have to dust it off this time! One down, seven left to bind. I am such a binding procrastinator.
Here's the pieced back with the two leftover blocks. The quilting is kind of hard to see, but I really like the square boxes quilting design.

I'm headed back to the Cyber Monday sales. Eddie Bauer has 30% off everything but clearance (I didn't need those boots anyway) and free shipping. Connecting Threads has all their fabric collections/samplers 50% off. I won't tell you what I needed there. Actually, it was thread, but some of those samplers jumped into my shopping cart.

I stayed away from the mall Black Friday, but my daughter talked me into going Saturday. It wasn't too bad, but I didn't find one gift. I'm doing better online. I do miss the people watching. Have fun everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back in the 'Hood

I found an awesome new blog through Karen at the Selvage Blog. Love Laugh Quilt (aka Beth) is hosting a neato challenge. All you have to do is make a 12" house quilt block and mail it to her by January 1, 2011. Several lucky winners will receive house blocks from all over blogland to make their own blogilicious house quilt. Not that I need a reason to make house blocks. Now I better get back to Thanksgiving preparations.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Is everyone getting ready for Thanksgiving Day? Last year we were out of town visiting my husband's family, so I didn't get to cook. A huge turkey dinner is one of my favorite meals to make and eat. I've been known to throw a turkey feast a couple times a year. Why wait until November to eat all those scrumptious dishes? I love turkey especially. It's also great on the grill or deep fried. We deep fry turkeys in the South!

Growing up, I had Thanksgiving at my maternal grandmother's house. She and my grandfather were of French decent and the menu rarely changed. There was turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, lentils flavored with the turkey neck, pork and sauerkraut (from their Pennsylvania days), green salad with vinaigrette, and dinner rolls. I think there were pies for dessert, but I wasn't a dessert person. My cousins and I would dig into the relish tray right away. Grandma knew we loved cream cheese stuffed celery, and all the olives and pickles you could eat.

The menu this year:
  • Relish Tray
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dressing with Mushrooms
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Lentils
  • Salad with Vinaigrette 
  • Dinner Rolls
I'm making the Mister a pecan pie and trying to think of something chocolate the kiddos would like. They adore Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies, so the bar is set pretty low.

Today I've been busy ironing linens and washing china and crystal. Tomorrow I'll get started on a few dishes that can be made ahead so I can relax with everyone. I hope my US friends have a wonderful holiday and that everyone takes a minute to give thanks for everything around us.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Sunday Stash #18

    Not much going on around here besides work. I did get to attend an awesome sew day yesterday and work on a few projects. Pictures to come. In the meantime, enjoy some fabric. It was all on sale, I swear. ; )

    Brandon Mably

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Thank You Veterans

    In Flanders Field
    By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD of the Canadian army

     In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
     The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields. 

    I never knew the origin of the poppies, but I found out today. Thank you veterans old and new for allowing us to live free. We appreciate you more than you could ever know.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Yeah, We're Bad.

    Target had their Halloween costumes 90% off. 90% off! Man, I wish Macy's or the fabric shops would have 90% off! You could buy disposable clothing or screw up your quilt big time and not feel bad about humming it in the trash.

    Lou and I picked up a couple of dog costumes for under $2 at our trip to Tar-jay. A yellow submarine costume went to her friend Kaley's dog, who is a Lab puppy. And I use the term puppy loosely. The puppy is huge and is tall enough to reach things on my kitchen counters. We forgot to snap a picture of Hades/Chase, but he was rockin' the submarine costume. He's like a bull in a china shop in my house. Until I start cooking. Then he's my sous chef and looking for handouts.

    Bones was not so lucky. Look at the mounted moose head costume we got him. He's so excited! Has those evil green eyes going! Poor Bones. We trimmed his nails and checked for worms after the costume fitting. I'm kidding. The silly dachshund ate chicken piccata on fine china afterward. He may be a bit spoiled, but I draw the line at picking out the capers from his dish.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Quilting is Exercise

    Do you follow the Stash Manicure blog? The hilarious and talented Nan is guest blogging over there today. She's talking about how quilting is exercise. How cool is that? I may need to exercise quilt more as my husband brought home a beautiful pecan pie over the weekend. That thing keeps calling my name and it's getting snarkier every day. Being a Southern girl, ya'll must know pecan pie is my favorite. Unfortunately, pie is not on my diet.

    I may or may not have mug rug fever out of my system. There's something soothing about sitting down with a pile of scraps and ending up with a finished piece a bit later.

    Finally sewed my rows together for this Kaffe Fassett jelly roll quilt.
    And I made a quilt back. Making backs is not my favorite activity. I don't know why the math throws me off, but I usually mess something up. I made three quilt backs yesterday, so my brain is tired today. Actually, by the third back I was getting the hang of it. I have three quilts ready to go to Eagle Mountain Quilting.
    There were two extra blocks leftover and I thought they would be perfect sewn into a white strip to make up the main fabric deficit. Nope, too skinny. So I had to add some more batik strips. Maybe my problem with backings is poor planning.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Sunday Stash #17

    Halloween fabric is on sale. Hearses are kind of icky, but these are fun hearses carrying loads of banana laffy taffies. Remind me I have fun Halloween prints next summer.

    Our guild meeting is held at the cool fabric shop. Fun, right? These fat quarters jumped into my hands. I was in a dot mood as usual. The silhouette dogs had me at hello.

    And these beauties were prizes. I love fabric!

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Whole Lotta Fun!

    This little log cabin mug rug has some of my favorite colors. I really like making these mug rugs. They're the perfect project to fit in between stuff.

    We were gifted patriotic string scraps at our monthly guild meeting. We're all making string blocks to put together into a charity quilt.
    And here are my two string blocks. Tearing the paper off is the worst part of string blocks. Ick. I used some onion skin paper that is ancient. Does anyone remember that stuff? It's really thin and I thought it would be perfect. Not so much. It's pretty durable stuff. Cheap printer paper is much better. And I just remembered that I have some foundation piecing paper. Doh!

    This is a little pieces of my heart block for a fellow quilter who could use some of that quilter's goodness we all know and love. Karen at the Selvage Blog shares more than great selvage projects on her blog. Thank you Karen for spreading the word. I hope Myra is bombarded with happy heart blocks and well wishes.

    Speaking of selvages, I made a little ornament and pincushion while avoiding work.

    This little mini is for a swap partner who likes homespuns. I hope she likes wild ones. I had to throw in some selvages too.
    Lots and lots of fun being had around here! I hope you're having fun too.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Easy Peasy Dinner

    Looking for some holiday craft inspiration? Check out this huge Inspired Ideas e-zine when you have some spare time. There were some really cute projects in it.

    Easy Beef Stir Fry
    This is such an easy and inexpensive dinner to throw together, I don't know why I don't do some version of it every week. To start, slice inexpensive beef (top round, flank or some other thinnish piece of beef). If it's slightly frozen, it's easier to slice. I am microwave defrosting challenged, so this comes in handy for me. Marinate the pieces in a mixture of soy sauce, corn starch, black, rice or balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil, scallions, Sriracha sauce if you like heat, and anything else you want to dump in. Lime juice would be good, fresh herbs, etc. Make sure you have quite a bit of marinade because you'll need it for the sauce. You can marinate for as little as 10 minutes or as long as overnight.

    While the meat marinates, get your veggies going. Anything goes. Broccoli, snow peas, red or white onion, bell peppers, celery, water chestnuts, carrots, bean sprouts, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, bok choy, beans, etc. Anything your family will eat or be able to pick out if they don't like it.

    I used broccoli, carrots and red onion this time around. I did blanch the veggies first, but you don't have to. Now get a frying pan screaming hot and add some oil. Shake off excess marinade from the beef and sear the beef. Do it in batches so you're not boiling the beef. You want kind of a crust and color on the meat. Not gray meat. Don't throw the leftover marinade away, we're going to use that. Once the meat is seared, transfer to a clean plate and add your veggies to the pan. If you've blanched the veggies, they won't need long to cook. Once they are crisp, tender, throw the meat and leftover marinade back in the frying pan and let everything cook together for a few minutes. There should be a light sauce that will thicken and coat everything. Serve on white or brown rice and garnish with scallions. That's it. Since you have all the veggies, there's no need for a salad or side vegetable.

    You could easily replace the beef with chicken, pork, shrimp, fish or tofu. Whatever your floats your family's boat. Or whatever they won't pick out!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    A New Quiltville Mystery

    Old Tobacco Road
    Double Delight
    Orange Crush
    Have you ever done one of Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville's mystery quilts? I tackled three of them when I first started quilting and someone gifted me with more subdued fabrics than I usually work with. I decided to use these fabrics to practice and I talked a couple of friends into joining the mystery with me, so we had some e-mail chatter to encourage each other. Mystery quilts are a lot of fun, and since all three of the quilts were quite large, I had lots of practice and learned all kinds of new techniques. Old Tobacco Road now lives with my dad, the other two are part of my flimsy collection.

    Bonnie has a new mystery called Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll. Fabric requirements are up, but I don't think I have the time or fabric for this one. Maybe you do?
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