Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oh man, I made a major boo boo...

When I signed up for Pamknitty's market report, I thought the "Market" also covered the quilt festival that's going to be here after the Market... After checking on my blog traffic the past couple of days, I realized that a lot of people have visited my blog in hopes of seeing postings about the Market.  To clarify... I will be going to festival, and not the Market.  I truly apologize for the mix up.  I hope all of you will come back next week to see my report of the festival!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I've been doing (and things I plan on doing)

As I've said in my last post, I've decided to make things for charity.

I've made a big stack of pillow cases to be dropped off at my local shelter after I wash them. 
That took a lot less time than I anticipated so I started organizing materials for another project.  Not too long ago, I made a doggie bed for Mags using old blue jeans.  I didn't have enough at home, so I bought a bunch from a local thrift shop.  Apparently, I bought too many and I ended up with a big pile of XXXXXXL jeans. Now I'm thinking of making an area rug or a heavy blanket with the leftovers.  I cut them up into a bunch of 6x6 squares.  I have no idea what design I'm going with though.

It's a big pile of squares. 

Look at the colored jeans! Greatest contributions of the 80's!
Through other projects, I ended up with a big box of random scraps that are too big to toss, but too small to put into a full quilt. (actually, I'm sure that if I gather enough, I can put together a scrappy quilt with it. BUT!!! I'm too impatient) Therefore, I just took out all the scraps and just started sewing. Not sure what I'm working towards, but the scraps are ending up in something...

On another note, I'm planning on quilting together the top and backing from last week's posts together to participate in Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Although I haven't been quilting too long, I kind of want to get in with the online quilting community.  (I think I've been preparing the jeans and sewing the scraps together in an effort to avoid quilting everything together.  I've had a bad experience working on my first quilt and I'm kind of scared to quilt it together...)

Speaking of quilt festivals, the big International Quilt Festival is coming to Houston.  I've always seen the billboards every fall for the festival but never really paid that much attention to it.  Ever since I started quilting, I've been stalking several popular quilting blogs such as alamode fabric and jaybirdquilts and fabric blogs such as fabricworm.  Then I realized what a big deal the quilt festival is!!! So, since this year, I'm jobless thus free during the weekdays, I decided that I'd take a field trip out to George R Brown Convention Center to see what the big deal is. I'm excited! I'll be blogging during all the festivities and participating in KPKM Market Report and showcasing all the pretties I'll be seeing! So stay tuned!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Last little bit of finishing week

Over the weekend, I finished the quilt backing to the square quilt top I posted last week. It's a very simple pieced squares with a white boarder. 

The boarder pieces are arranged in a pattern with additional fabric mainly because I ran out of scraps...

I'm putting off quilting this puppy together for a while.  The other day I saw this piece on my local news about how charitable donations have significantly decreased since the economy tanked. There are *tons* of stuff I'd like for my birthday and/or xmas, but there are people out there without even the basic necessities of life.  So, in addition to our yearly donation to the local food bank, I decided to make some stuff for the local shelter. The easiest thing to make are pillow cases.  I've contacted my local shelter, and they welcome any sorts of material donations.  For the next week or so, I'll be making a batch of pillow cases from my scraps along with some simple blankets. I urge everyone out there to give what they can.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finishing week

So this week is a week to finish my WIPs. I've has several in the process, and I figured it was time to finish projects that I've started in the past month. And it's show and tell time!

First up, the scarf from the last post.

It's a nice bulky, spirally scarf. Just as I intended. However, there are certain *unintended* consequences. It doesn't look right on me. The ruffles just looks like an odd Victorian collar, but the ends are pretty. Not sure whether I'm going to wear it this winter or not. Think I'll make another scarf...

And then I finished a quilt top.

Originally, I was just going to have the center squares, without the scrap border. However, after i finished the center, it seemed a bit too small. So I added a border with the scraps I had left over. 

And some scraps that weren't in the original center square :)

 The quilt backing will be a bunch of scraps, just like this border. Hopefully it'll turn out well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

crafting misadventures

While I was posting my last entry, I was in the process of felting the sweaters in the washing machine. Most of the interweb crafting sites agree to wash the sweaters in hot water with detergent and rinse in cold water.  The temp change in the cycle plus the mechanisms of the washing machine will agitate the fibers causing the sweaters to felt and shrink.  So I hear the end of the washing machine cycle and went to check on the sweaters to see if they need another round in the machine to get the texture of what I want.  I opened the lid, took out the sweaters and found this:

The washing machine bottom was covered in little felt pellets. Apparently, one of the sweaters decided to fall apart during the wash.  Then I examined the three sweaters outside, and this is what they look like...

I think the culprit is that green one because out of the three sweaters, it was the only one that was not 100% wool. Also the colors seems to match with the pellets. I shook as much of the pellets out as possible in the yard, and now my back yard looks like an army of rabbits invaded and decided to poop every where. I guess my bunny minions can't be good, all the time. :)

show and tell

So yesterday I decided to trek on over to my local thrift store to see what they've got. I needed new solids for sashing a quilt and thrift stores are always a bundle of fun.  While I didn't quite find what I originally set out to find, I did find several project inspirations.  I picked up some 100% wool sweaters that were already heavily felted for some upcycle projects.  Not completely sure what yet. Maybe a felted blanket? or maybe a pillow? scarf? I'm just going to super felt them by washing them with hot water and soap and rinsing with cold water.  I'm sure something will come to me.

While I was there, I also found a bag with random stuff in it. From what I could tell, there were some lace trimmings and some sort of clasps. 

Vintage Bonnie Clasps. Not sure exactly what I will do with it since I don't make clothing

Some old ribbons that will find their way into a future project

A close up of the blue ribbon. It's very pretty and in that shade of dark blue that  is just so pretty :)

Also, these lace trimmings. The package said they're suppose to be elastic, but I think time took that away. Now, they're just pretty lace trimmings with no elastic. 
Along with the vintage pretties and wool sweaters, I also saw bags and bags of yarn.  I was going to buy several bags of these 100% wool yarn. However, they were in this drabby brown and tan colors. While I do love browns, it just didn't look right, and I didn't have any projects in mind.  Instead, I picked up these babies:

It's 3.75 skeins of Yarn Bee Fleece Lite in Cranberries.  I've seen them in stores before, and they normally cost $4-$5 per skein, and I picked ALL of these up for less than $5. STEAL!!!! The color in these pictures are darker than what these yarns are.  In real life, they're more like this bright pink with black threadings.  Very very pretty. I predict it will end up in one of my friend's xmas present!

Monday, October 4, 2010

First fall meal of the year

The weather has finally cooled off for us to eat something that's not light pasta or salads. So this past weekend, we made our traditional first fall meal - a totally inauthentic version of gumbo.

As you can see, our version is a tomato based gumbo, and we've added *a lot* of spice to make it nice and hot.

Here is how we made it.  First the ingredients:

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The veggies: One large bell pepper, a medium onion, a few stalks of celery (I used 4) and 4-5 cloves of garlic (minced)

The protein: a large chicken breast, 1/3 lb of shrimp, and two large links of sausage (diced)

The spices: black pepper, cayenne pepper, tony's, and salt.  At the last minute, I also decided to toss in 5 whole, dried chili peppers, not pictured. As is with all my other cooking, I can't put a quantity with the spices since everyone's taste is different. However, as a guideline, I put in about a table spoon of each in and then added more as needed.

Lastly, the canned goods: a 10oz can of diced tomatoes, 8oz can of Rotel (I know that Rotel is not available everywhere.  To compensate for this, add in 3 diced jalapeno peppers and another can of diced tomatoes) and about 4 cups of chicken broth (another rule of thumb - since we're putting in the broth last, make sure the broth covers everything that's in the pot)


1) brown the chicken and shrimp with about 1-2 tsp of olive oil on medium high heat.  If you're using a non-stick pan, you can use less.  It should take about 8 min. Take it out of the pot and set aside.

2) Now we're browning the veggies.  Toss in the green pepper, onion, and celery.  Stir this constantly to avoid it sticking to the pan.  After about 5 mins or so, toss in the garlic and cook for 2-3 min more.

3) Now put in the sausage with the veggies.  Stir and cook for 3 min.

4) Add the two cans of tomatoes and the browned chicken and shrimp.  Bring it to a light boil.

5) Add the chicken broth.  If 4 cups is not enough, add more to cover the top of the mixture in the pot.

6) Now we season.  Since the flavors have not cooked in yet, the "gumbo" is going to taste rather bland and one dimensional.  So don't over season.  It's always easier to correct under-seasoning later than over-seasoning.

7) Bring this mixture to a boil and lower the heat to have a light simmer going. It's going to cook for 2+ hours. The longer it cooks the fuller the flavor of the "gumbo" will be.  Check on it every 30 min to an hour to make sure there is enough liquid and taste to correct the seasoning.

After it is done, serve over rice (and have some bread for dipping) and enjoy!!!! 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Project Update

So "fall" is finally here. Kind of. We stopped having temps over 90's and the air is finally semi dry.  In anticipation of a southern Texas winter (read: two weeks of cold weather that truly justify wearing a heavy pea coat and about 2 month of weather where I'm wearing a tank top under the pea coat with a thin skirt and boots just so I can get some utility out of my winter clothing), I have started to make some scarves.

As my friends know, I have A LOT of yarn.  Most of them are from unraveling sweaters from thrift stores.  I had full plans to sell them on Etsy, however that didn't pan out. So now, I have 3-4 large boxes of yarn of various material.  I have some lovely gray wool yarn, blueish/greenish angora blend yarn, and many different colored cotton yarn.  The fact that I can't find most of my scarves and wraps because of the packing, unpacking, repacking, and storage, I have a legit reason to make some new scarves!!!! and possibly hats as well. Yay for me! The fact that I have about a month or so before scarves weather hit, I have plenty of time to restock my scarf storage.

First on the list is a ruffle scarf that I've made for a friend a while back, but with a twist.  Instead of a single layer of ruffles, I'm making a double layer with two colors. It should be fun! I'll post the pics and pattern soon.