Monday, February 28, 2011

manic monday: weekend recap

It was mostly a relaxing weekend, complete with the three of us lounging on the couch, eating gooey rice krispie treats and watching the Oscars, but sprinkled with a few events worth sharing.

We had our fourth Norfolk Book Club gathering to discuss the book pictured above. Cupcakes, wine, good conversation, and great girlfriends. What more can one ask for? (Full recap coming soon)

This little boy is growing at the speed of light. There were many firsts this weekend definitely worth sharing, but also many annoyances. For example, the answer to every question now is "No way, Jose." Did I teach him that? If so, just slap me.

And after a morning filled with indecision, I dragged myself to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival at the Hampton Convention Center. Okay, loved it and so glad I went. There were a couple Santa Claus quilts, but some really inspiring contemporary ones to balance it out. Plus, a gazillion vendors with fabric to die for. (Full recap coming soon)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

little bits of awesome

Seeing Savion Glover perform.
He is weightless, like he's being hung by a string from the rafters. Pure magic.

My child picking out and putting on his first outfit by himself. The boy has some mad style.
(You can't see it, but the pants are on backward)

The husband never ceases to surprise me. He shaved a mohawk before performing with his band on Saturday night. It was cool, for like a day. It's gone now, but Avery won't stop talking about it - "Avery want mohawk." Sheesh.

Monday, February 21, 2011

manic monday: triangles and more triangles!

Hello, my peoples! How was your weekend?

Well, I was able to enjoy the pleasure of uninterrupted crafting time. Ave spent the night at his grandparents on Saturday night so I could see the husband rock out with his band at the Taphouse. I'm rarely up past 10 these days and even more rarely get to drink in public anymore, so that was nice. But what was even better was waking up Sunday morning and being able to quilt and drink my coffee while watching CBS Sunday Morning uninterrupted! I watched the whole show, y'all! And then I kept working while watching a cheesy dance movie too embarrassingly awful to admit the title.

So, in short, I made some progress on the ol' triangle quilt and figured I'd share process/progress images.

First, I start with an idea, consisting of a general image and size & function for the piece. I work with it in Illustrator until I achieve just the right composition and color combination.

I then break it down into sizable chunks and overlay a grid. This forms the project plan and gives me sizes and quantities for cutting. I print it out and take it to the fabric store (locally Fabric Hut seems to have the most colors) and find the closest match.

I made triangles of varying sizes out of chip board and used them as templates for my rotary cutter and went to work.

Since I don't have a bunch of free time, I wake up an hour early every day to work on it. Waking up at 5:40 sucks, but it pays off when I feel I've made some progress.

So, here it is now. Almost pieced with still some extra off-white fabric to add on the top and bottom. It's sized to fit on a toddler bed.

There are some wonky bits - note the blue triangles near the bottom - where my math didn't quite add up. But I don't think a 2-year-old is going to complain.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

little bits of awesome...

...are my equivalent to Ms. Stewart's "good things." This week, they are as follows:

Finally framing and hanging our most recent art purchase,
made by our friend's 8 year-old daughter

A friend surprising us with this beautiful loaf of bread he baked himself

Finding this on my camera when downloading photos: an art project documented by his Daddy.

And this merangue made for me by my mom for Valentine's Day.
She also gave me chocolate covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, and a Kit Kat. She knows me too well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day (aka macaron attempt #3 - FAIL)

Another holiday and one more excuse to bake, or in my case destroy, french macarons for the family. I was feeling a little adventurous and picked up some pink gel food coloring to make these pretty little guys, but alas, faced with limited time I took some shortcuts and ended up with white lumpy, flat wafers whose little feet stuck to the parchment paper.

I've used a different recipe each time and for this batch, chose one from this book. I chose not to sift because my sifter kept getting clogged. Big mistake #1 = lump city. The addition of the pink gel food coloring may have been Big Mistake #2, because in order to achieve any color at all, I had to basically empty the container in my merangue, adding additional moisture. However, I did learn: to get pink, use a drop of red.

Each batch came out differently – some were slightly browned towards the edges, some had feet which never fully formed, and some had bottoms that stuck and whose insides stuck to the parchment paper. Couldn't figure out a rhyme or reason, just varied the cooking time to no avail.

Chose a new buttercream icing filling without raw eggs since I would be giving them to children. Food poisoning does not make a sweet Valentine. I added extra milk, as it was too thick, and added a couple drops of red gel to achieve the pretty pink color, but the icing taste is too sweet for my liking.

But in general, they're pretty tasty. The family L-O-V-E-S them. Regarding the ones that did pop off the parchment paper easily, even though they're flat, the inside texture is one step closer to ideal. Airy and less dense than Macron Attempt #2.

So, I packaged up the more presentable cookies for Avery's little friends and stuck them in cute metal mailboxes I found at Target. Ave and I spent Saturday morning making paper valentines, where I gave cut out paper hearts and he made his minimalist marks. For him, it was more fun coloring his hands than the paper.

Today will be the next challenge: passing out his valentines. The challenge will be in giving and not taking them back. He gave a paper heart to my mother yesterday and took it back an hour later, exclaiming "MINE!" So, we'll's something we got to work on.

For Valentine's Day, the husband and I are going to see Savion Glover perform on Thursday. I'm so excited! My gift to him: paying for the tickets. His gift to me: sitting through a 2+ hour tap dance performance without a complaint. If you don't know much about Savion (Happy Feet and Sesame Street don't count), check out this older interview on Charlie Rose.

Happy hearts to you my friends!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

pink and gold

I reached thrifting nirvana last week and it

If you're my facebook friend, you'll know I've become obsessed with Groupon as of late. One of my purchased groupons was for a local thrift store - purchase for $10 and get $25 worth of merchandise. When you share your Groupon purchases through social media, you have the potential to earn Groupon bucks if anyone clicks to purchase based on your link. So, make a long story short, I am a sharing person, so my thrift store Groupon was FREE. F-R-E-E!

I visited last weekend and saw nothing to my liking, but noticed a gold polka-dotted pink lamp (sans lamp shade) with a $40 price tag. Kinda steep for a thrift store. And really, pink and gold polka dots are not my thang, y'all. Or so I thought...

Signed on back - C Miller 1955

But kept thinking about it. And thinking about it. You wouldn't believe the trivial nonsense that passes through my head daily.

FYI: her twin sister is still there - Thrift Store USA on Little Creek Rd.

So, a week goes by and I figured if it was still there, then it was meant to be mine. I remembered the Groupon and paying $15 for a lamp doesn't sound so bad, so I returned. On the way to the department, I saw a beautiful Lane end table that matches the rest of my living room pieces. No tag. Asked the owner who then came up with a price off the top of his head - $15. Score!

Needs some light refinishing, but aren't those dove tails spectacular!?

So, a lamp and an end table for $30 = thrifting nirvana.

Monday, February 07, 2011

why i love quiltmaking

I've been meaning to discuss this topic for quite some time. Someone recently said to me, "I'm surprised you like quilting - I never would have guessed it." Well, this is why...

As a fine arts major in college, I never would have guessed it would excite me so much either. It's so...crafty. And really, isn't it just something old ladies do to pass the time? And then I began to view everything differently.

Quilting gives one the ability to design a two-dimensional form, bring it to physical form, and then easily transform it by simple manipulations (folding, wrapping, etc.). Makes it sound a little cooler, right? If you can view a quilt as a series of shapes creating a larger image, then it sounds a little less decorative and well...less dorky. Photographers, painters, film directors, sculptors, and creatives in general are all image makers seeking to invoke some kind of aesthetic response with their created image. ART, CRAFT, CRAP - we're all just trying to make something uniquely ours.

So, as a quilter, part of the initial fun is creating the image on paper and then figuring out how to make it work in physical form. I make all my designs in Illustrator, print them out and then make grids over top to break down the forms into simple shapes I can work with at my basic level. Fun stuff.

Picking out the colors combinations is my favorite part of the process. I choose to work only with solids so the form isn't time stamped or complicated by another designer's patterned fabric.

And the cherry on top? It isn't precious. I choose to machine stitch all my quilts for a couple reasons - the ability to machine wash it and for speed. I've got too many ideas and not enough time to create them.

These quilts become a part of our daily lives and can be passed down from generation to generation. I am the keeper of my great grandmother's quilt, which I routinely use for family outings. I never met her, but her presence is felt.

So, yeah, climbing down from soapbox now.

Anyhow, the most recent quilt I have finished was based on one of Bobby's pieces from 1998. He has always been really attached to the form, so I started this as a gift for him. I recreated it in Illustrator and we played with the colors until we agreed upon the direction.

It has six sides and some tough angles to figure out, but it worked. The technique is admittedly sloppy, but it's something I'm working on. Oh, and the best thing about quilts - the back! When you "stitch in the ditch" to attach your two quilt sides together, the white thread on white fabric is simply spectacular - a linear design reflecting the solid shapes on the other side.

And now that it's complete - I have no idea what to do with it! It's too big for a sofa and awkward on a bed, so in the meantime, Avery has adapted it for his tent. And that's fine with me.

And so what to do next - make another! This time with lots AND lots of little triangles!

happy monday

When people see Avery, they usually remark, "he is a combination of both of you." Physically, yes - it is undeniable.

And now, as his toddler personality is in full blown effect, he is definitely showing behavioral characteristics of both Bobby and me. He is wild, outgoing and rhythmic just like his daddy.

As for my traits, well, let's just say he can get down to some psychedelic rock and has a fine appreciation of chairs just like his mommy.

Friday, February 04, 2011

winter reading

From top to bottom: Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the Macaron Cafe, Just Kids, The Mind's Eye, Quilting Line + Color, Tartine, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, Meet Me at the Center of the Earth

Some I've completed, some I frequently peruse, and the others I have just begun. A tall stack which doesn't include our monthly book club pick – Steve Martin's An Object of Beauty.

What are you guys reading during this chilly season?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

tumbling blocks

So, I finally used Spoonflower for a personal project and let me tell you, it was delightful. I've always been attracted to the traditional tumbling blocks quilt pattern, but know I'm not ready to tackle sewing a gazillion little diamonds together. So, this was the perfect solution. Friday night, boy in bed, a couple beers and Adobe Illustrator. Upload, paypal, click send. Wait for package to come in mail - so easy.

So, I've started making pillows for the living room, hoping the punch of color is what it needs...or I need, as seasonal affective disorder is no joke. Me and piping aren't getting along so far, but I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

a rocking before and after

In early December, Bobby surprised me one morning with a dark wooden rocking horse he had scored for $2 at a shady flea market down the street. For him to bring a thrifted object home is unusual, but for me it's shamefully common. He said he wanted to paint it and surprise Aves for Christmas.

I had my hesitations.

He chose the colors wisely and used only paint we had leftover in the garage, so the total cost stayed at $2. It's more attractive than any modern rocker we could have afforded and more meaningful, too. The husband never fails to impress.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

this makes me happy

It's these little moments that make me appreciate what I do for a living.