Monthly Archives: December 2009

A Winter Wonderland Commute

Ever since we moved to Maple Hoo and I realized there was a bike path running almost the entire length of my commute to the office, I’ve dreamed of being able to walk to work in a gently-falling snow. We don’t get a ton of snow in these parts, so every year when I start to get my annual case of winterlonging, I have these fantasies of fluffy, perfect snowfalls. And every year when winter actually arrives, we instead get a whole lot of cold weather and 34-degree rainy days.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to see… snow! Fluffy, perfect snow! Enough to cover the roads and branches and just put a thin blanket over the frozen grass, but not so much that it required any special footwear or slogging to get through it. And even better is that I was the only person in my office who didn’t take vacation today, so it kind of didn’t matter at all what time I got in. I didn’t have to get up at 6:00 in the morning to get to work on time! So I had a nice lie-in, then bundled up, strapped on my new headphones, cranked up some Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and hit the road. It was snowing heavily enough that I brought the poopy old Powershot, but I’m still pretty happy with a lot of my pictures.

Snowy Stream

Snowy Gnarled Tree

Snowy Snow Fencing

Snowy Walk To Work

Snowy Christmas Light

Snowy Tree And Path

Snowy Corn Field

Snowy Farm Stand

December 31 2009

Happy New Year!

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Filed under Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Pommerdoodling, Seasonal

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Many years ago, Boomer treated all of her daughters to a weekend “boot camp” at a swanky dude ranch in California, where she and our dad had taken swanky vacations long before we were born.

Boomer at Alisal

For a little flavoring shot, here’s Boomer and one of the horses. Sadly, I can’t seem to find the picture of Boomer with the horse named Boomer; the staff at the ranch was very excited to pair the two of them up.

The day we flew in for our dude ranch weekend, we had a little time to kill between deplaning and being able to check in, so we swung through the town of Solvang, which Boomer remembered as having a really good stitching shop. It turned out that the shop was no longer nice at all, and the town was like some supremely crazy twilight zone, but in the course of our few hours killing time there, we did get to enjoy a plate of fresh ebelskivers. And when we found ourselves, a couple of years later, with gift certificates at Williams Sonoma, we decided we totally needed to buy that ebelskiver pan they were selling, so we could make our own. (Because no way, no how are we ever going back to Solvang.)

Smizing Over Ebelskivers

That’s a powerful combination of smizing and crazy eye right there.

Because I don’t like to rush into things, I spent a good deal of time contemplating the ebelskiver pan. Like, years. It sat in a box in the dining room during the kitchen renovation, and remained in that box in the dining room long after the renovation was done. You don’t want to just race willy-nilly into making ebelskivers. That’s something you have to be really ready for.

You can imagine Pookie’s and Boomer’s surprise, then, when I woke up on the first Sunday morning of my Christmas vacation, the world blanketed in beautiful snow, and announced that I was actually going to do it — I was going to make ebelskivers. The horror!

Making Ebelskivers

I had a new ebelskiver cookbook, thanks to a more recent gift certificate-spending trip to Williams Sonoma, and I picked the chocolate chip ebelskivers as my first attempt, taking into serious consideration the cookbook’s warning that it’s probably better to experience the whole process before trying to graduate up to making filled pancakes.

Making Ebelskivers

The recipe was very simple, pretty much the old waffle recipe I’d grown up with. It was a pancakey batter, lightened with beaten egg whites, and then with chocolate chips folded in. The recipe specified using mini morsels, but I didn’t have those on hand, and figured that the Schokinag baking chips I have would melt better, creating a sort of middle ground between “pancakes studded with little unmelted mini morsels” (as the recipe stated they should turn out) and “pancakes filled with molten ganache” (as I really wanted to be eating).

Ebelskivers

As it turns out, the cookbook I had seemed to think I was working with an ebelskiver pan with a larger cup size. And one without a nonstick coating. The first batch was a bit of a disaster, with the burning and the uncooked middles and the too much batter and the unnecessary buttering. The second batch was a tiny bit better. By the time I finished off the bowl of batter, I was beginning to figure this thing out.

Plated Ebelskivers

For the most part, my ebelskivers need a lot of work. If I was trying to sell these bad boys in Solvang, I’d have to do it at quite a discount, because no one in their right mind would pay full price for them. They were misshapen and maladroitly turned in the pans, but I think, if I keep forcing Pookie, Boomer and myself to have to eat plates of cute round pancakes, I might be able to get up to speed.

The lessons learned were that I need to use less batter than the recipe specifies (or get a bigger pan), I should turn the pancakes with knitting needles rather than bamboo skewers, and I need to keep an extremely careful eye on the heat, because the nonstick pan gets crazy hot crazy fast. Until the kinks get worked out, I don’t think I’ll be making molten ganache-filled pancakes. We’ll just have to stick to chocolate chip.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas — In Quilt Form

One of my favorite things about cross-stitching was making quick little seasonal pieces, especially Christmas stuff. When I started quilting I thought I was going to have to give that up because surely no one was out there making fun, funky, and beautiful seasonal fabric, especially not Christmas fabric. Surely all the Christmas fabrics would be either boring calico reproductions or cheesy puppies in Santa hats. Well, Gentle Reader, it turns out I was basing this idea on my experiences of the kinds of fabrics Boomer had in her stash (in her defense, I think the puppies in Santa hats was included in a scrap pack of slightly nicer stuff) and not based on the fabrics available to me. It didn’t take much time for me to discover there is, in fact, a wealth of awesome Christmas fabric just waiting to be made into festive quilts! Upon making this discovery, I decided I must have a Christmas lap quilt to drape over my footstool on Christmas morning when I do the traditional “divvying up of the presents for opening”. And upon seeing “Have a Sheri Berry Holiday”, I decided that quilt must be retro, sassy, and cute.

Have a Sheri Berry Holiday

“Have a Sheri Berry Holiday” fabrics designed by Sheri Berry

It was around this time that I saw Elizabeth Hartman’s “Sawtooth Star” pattern on Sew Mama Sew. The stars were a perfect fit for a Christmas quilt, the pattern looked easy and fun, and Kona cotton was on sale. Perfect! Also perfect? I realized I had twice as much fabric as I needed, so I was able to offer to make an extra for Patty (in Dallas), who has impeccable taste in retro stuff (check out her vintage school clock collection in her blog header!). I got down to work in July, made two stars, and then… got distracted by other stuff. As is my wont. Sigh.

Anyway, something possessed me to get back to it at the end of August and then Schnookie asked to make a few stars, and then before we knew it, we were splitting the work 50-50 and ripping through both quilts at a rapid rate! In fact, it was such a rapid rate, we got them both pieced and handed off to Mary the Long-Arm Quilter before her Christmas deadline. There was much rejoicing! (And by “much rejoicing” I mean, there was much starting of new projects because that’s what you do when you finish one project; you can’t just go back to the same old UFOs!)

The Sheri Berry Christmas Star Quilt

It snowed just to give this quilt an appropriate background! Honest!

I could not be more pleased with the final result. It’s so Christmasy, so retro, so fun. It looks especially good in both snow and by the light of the Christmas tree. And it seems warmer and more festive than any other quilt I’ve made. It’s like it has everything wonderful about Christmas quilted right into it!

The pattern allowed for lots of fun with the fabrics, as some stars are solid, some have a solid center with different points, and some have alternating points with four-square centers.

Santa Star 1

Santa? Is that you?

Ornament Star

Love those old-school ornaments!

I bound the quilt in one of the blue fabrics with tiny snowflakes, and backed it an exuberant print of circles. (Patty brilliant chose the pink with blue snowflake-y stars for her backing, and it looked extraordinary. I bound hers in the same small snowflake print, but in pink.)

Deer Star and Backing

In just three days, I’ll find out if my dream of stacking presents on a footstool draped with this quilt will be as awesome in real-life as it seems in my head. But until then, I’ll just sit here snuggled under my awesome Christmas quilt. And then after Christmas, I’ll start thinking about what I can do with Sheri Berry’s next Christmas line, “12 Joys of Christmas”… Maybe presents will be better stacked on top of two star quilts…

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Filed under Pins and Needles, Quilting, Seasonal

Dear Santa, c/o The Fat Quarter Shop

Dear Santa,

We’ve been ever such nice quilters this year! Remember when we got started on quilting projects and then could have abandoned them in favor of newer, better projects? Well, we didn’t! (OK, we didn’t always. But we must have finished a solid 10% of the projects we started! That’s nice! [Cut us some slack, Santa. Are you saying the elves always finish what they start? Didn’t think so.]) Remember when we had only the binding to go on quilts to give friends while newer, prettier projects sat on the stash shelves, singing their siren songs? Well, we actually did finish the binding first, and mailed out quilty presents to friends! That’s very nice! And remember all those times we could have stalked the UPS man, following him all around town, just because the handy parcel tracker told us boxes from Fat Quarter Shop would be arriving? We were very good and didn’t scare the kind UPS man; instead we just waited just inside the door looking at our watches wondering what was taking him so long.

Because we’ve been sooooooo nice, we’re asking you to add one little thing to your sleigh this Christmas. A fat quarter bundle of Shirtings 1875-1900. We’d really love to make an all-shirtings quilt and this would be the perfect kick start to that dream.

We promise we’ll leave you milk and cookies, as well as some carrots for the reindeer!

Hugs and Kisses,
Liz and Eleanor (aka Schnookie and Pookie)

P.S. If that fat quarter bundle is too big to fit in your sleigh, we want you to know that we’d be happy to get a fat quarter bundle of the fabulous California Dreamin’ instead!

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Happy Quiltaversary To Us!

It was exactly a year ago today that we were bitten by the quilting bug, thanks to a quick trip to Pennington Quilt Works to buy a charm pack for Boomer for Christmas! What a fateful day! We’ve both been stunned by how fabulously fun quilting is. A year ago we were IMing furiously, sending links back and forth to all the different lines featured on moda.com, and dreaming about how our lives would be so much newer and better once we were quilting. And year later, quilting has fulfilled all those dreams and more! Here’s a quick run-down of all the quilts we’ve completely finished (there are two more quilt tops finished, and a duplicate Christmas quilt is not pictured because it was sent to Dallas before it was photographed), including “Ugly City”, which had the final stitches put in place this very evening. We apologize for the poor focus on Ugly City and the Christmas quilt, but hey, it’s 11:30 on a Thursday night, we can’t be bothered to find better light to photograph them in! To make up for it, we’ve tossed in a few of our favorite quilting-related photos. It’s a nice added bonus that quilting is a fun hobby to photograph!

March 1 2009

Nest, made by Pookie

Jellygirl Finis

Jelly Girl, made by Schnookie

Merry Go Round 1

Merry Go Round, made by Pookie

June 7 2009

Prairie Gothic, made by Pookie

May 31 2009

Squaresville, made by Schnookie

Midwest Modern

Midwest Modern, made by Schnookie

Magic Carpet Finished

Magic Carpet, made by Pookie

Sheri Berry Sawtooth Star

Christmas Quilt, made by Pookie and Schnookie

Ugly City Bound

Ugly City, made by Schnookie (with some help from Pookie and Boomer)

December 14 2008

MGR Folded

December 6 2009

Snowflake Quilting

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Taking Stock of the Works in Progress: Pookie Edition

It’s been almost a year since we both started quilting, and it seems like now is a great time to step back and take stock of what’s in our active pipelines right now. We’ve both just finished up some quilts and are revving up on exciting new projects — so what’s on tap?

When I last checked in with a quilting progress report back in July, I had just finished “Prairie Gothic” and was starting to buckle down on “Magic Carpet” while starting in on my Christmas quilt, and while wishing I could nibble a bit on “Red Letter Day”. Let’s see what I’ve managed to do in the four months since!

First up, I did finish “Magic Carpet”.

Magic Carpet Finished

Fabrics: Midwest Modern by Amy Butler; Pattern: “Magic Carpet” by American Jane

I am unbelievably happy with how this turned out! While working on it I was worried that the colors weren’t right, and that I had too much bright blue, and blah blah blah. Let me tell you, once you get it quilted and washed? It’s all good! It is, like all my quilts, the wrong size, but that’s okay as long as I can layer other quilts over it. Oh no! I’ll just have to make more quilts!

Next up, I also finished my Christmas quilt, but it’s so fabulous, it’s going to get it’s own post. Stay tuned! (Also stay tuned for a possible post on “Deer City”, another quilt top I finished but, for some reason, never photographed. It’s off at the long-arm quilter, not to be finished until after the Christmas rush.)

How about that Red Letter Day? I couldn’t resist nibbling for long and ended up cutting into it.

Red Letter Squee

Fabrics: Red Letter Day; Pattern: Pinwheel from Kaffe Fassett book

Six pinwheels out of a lot isn’t much, but I’m pleased with it anyway. I still have the issue of using pieces that are too small for the prints, but that’s okay. With this quilt, I’m most interested in having these bright, cheerful colors on a lap quilt for late Spring and early Summer. Sadly, I’ve discovered that making pinwheels kinda sucks, so this quilt was put on hold (I think I may have even put it down mid-way through a pinwheel; I’m so dedicated.)

In the last progress report, I was working on “Broken Dishes”, but that one has also been put on hold. I had every intention of working in earnest on this one, but then my birthday rolled around and Schnookie and Boomer gave me two awesome quilt-related presents (well, three if you include the subscription to the Free Spirit Fabric fat quarter of the month club, but the only thing I’ve made from that [yet] is a Christmas sewing caddy). The first was a quilt kit for “Salt Water Taffy”.

Taffy City

Fabric: Everything But The Kitchen Sink V; Pattern: Salt Water Taffy from RJR Fabrics

I am so in love with this quilt. The very first quilt we made was a ’30s quilt, and I’ve wanted one for myself since then. This one is everything I’ve dreamed of and more! And even better — the pattern is an absolute blast to make! I was a little leery of the templates, but then I got a great tip from a quilting buddy to use fine sandpaper to hold the fabric in place while tracing around a template, and now it’s a cinch. The best part, though, is the fabrics. I just can’t get over how adorable they are, and how fresh and Spring-y the colors are.

Taffy City Fabrics

Everything But The Kitchen Sink V

Have you ever seen anything as cute as those puppies?! The quilt has accents in the corners and center that are red and black which really set off the ’30s palette. I think the quilt will go up quickly, once I get all the templates cut, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying puttering along on this one.

It’s a good thing I’m enjoying the puttering, because just when I was starting to think that I should power through this one, I got distracted by my second great birthday present — a gift certificate from Fat Quarter Shop. It was burning a whole in my pocket when I set eyes on this beauty: Simple Abundance whirly-gigs. Every time I saw it I feel more deeply in love with it until finally, I had to break down and buy it. Of course, the kit is a ridiculously small size, so I decided to order four charm packs and quadruple the pattern. Which means making 320 whirlygigs.

Whirlygigs

Fabric: Simple Abundance; Pattern: Whirly-Gig by Thimble Blossoms

I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out. I love the colors — the rich autumn reds and browns with unexpected accents of light blue, yellow, pink and green. I think the tiny whirly-gigs will be so striking when there’s a sea of them spilling over my bed. But… Man, it’s going to take forever. Cutting the whirly-gigs is a chore and a half.

Cutting Whirlygigs

I have to trim the pinked edges of the charm pack, and then quarter each square, and then line the square up on the smaller grid on my cutting board (which is annoyingly just a bit too far from the edge of the table), cut the square into wedges, and then turn them 90 degrees to trim them to 2″. The pattern was written for machine-piecers, so it took a few tries to figure out how to cut it for hand piecing. The whole process is way fussy, but the actual stitching is as easy as the cutting is annoying. I had been planning that I’d spend Thanksgiving weekend working on it after finishing my Christmas quilt, but then I went to Pennington Quilt Works to pick up my Christmas quilt from the quilter. Oops.

You see, I’d heard all about French General’s “Rouenneries” line and seen pictures. I knew it was pretty. But I also knew it had funky woven fabrics, so I just assumed it was not really good for hand-piecing, so I pretty much wrote it off. Only then there it was at PQW and I went to check it out and… It’s not all wovens. Much of it is super-soft, super-thin, super-fabulous quilting weight cotton just made for hand piecing. And the pictures I’d seen did not do it justice. This stuff is just insanely wonderful in person. I sorta kinda had to have some. And I knew I had just the right pattern for it.

Darlanananana

Fabrics: Rouenneries by French General; Pattern: Dalarna

In January, I’d picked up an Australian quilting magazine — something like “Quiltmania”, I can’t remember — that had an old Swedish pattern done up in rich reds and browns. I thought it suited the sophisticated and rich colors in Rouenneries. I dropped all my other projects like hot potatoes and got started. The cutting and piecing is super fun and easy and each block goes up shockingly quickly. And I have a pizza box full of gorgeous, neat stacks of triangles.

Cut Rouenneries

So there I was at the start of Thanksgiving weekend, having just finished the binding on a quilt, with nothing to do but putter away on Dalarnanana and Whirlygig City, when all of a sudden I was struck with the strangest impulse.

Darla

That’s right! It’s Darla! Back from the dead! I haven’t actually made any real progress on it, but it’s now back in rotation! (Until I follow my usual pattern of finding something newer and prettier [Nicey Jane, I’m looking at you]!) It was quite a shock picking it back up again, but it was my first real challenging quilt project, and just touching the fabrics brought back all the newness and anxiety of the early days of quilting. But after a seam or two, it was back to it’s comfortable “newer, better life” self. As I puttered on it last night I realized that at my current pace, it will only be 15 years before I finish it!

So, all in all, I’m doing pretty good. Since July I’ve finished two quilt tops on my own, collaborated with Schnookie on finishing three more, bound three quilts, and had tons of fun puttering on lots more. I think stumbling onto quilting around this time last year has really paid off!

Stacks of Fabrics

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Filed under Pins and Needles, Progress Reports, Quilting