{ sewing blog tours }

Today is the first day of the Stash Books blog tour...read on for all the information about this blog hop, which was put together to promote a wonderful book called Inspired to Sew by Bari J. I have followed Bari for a long time - in fact my SECOND blog post ever, here, I showed a picture of a purse that I loved and ordered from Bari J. In the time since, she has built a wonderful company including patterns for sewing and finished items. You can see it all at her website here.

The blog tour participants will talk about what inspires them to sew, when they started sewing, who taught them to sew and other sewing topics. There are some longtime favorite blogs on the list and some new-to-me blogs that I'm excited to visit. I love the sewing and quilting world and what the internet is doing to enliven and change it!

The words that follow are from the Stash Books blog. (Stash Books is a publisher of wonderful sewing and quilting books.)

What inspires you to sew? Follow the inspiration, creativity, fun and excitement on the Inspired to Sew by Bari J. blog tour!

The tour kicks off Monday, January 31st and continues through Tuesday, February 8th — it’s hosted by an all-star line-up of fabulous sewing bloggers.

Each day, the tour host will give away a copy of Inspired to Sew by Bari J. and share some thoughts on fabric and their sewing inspiration. Just look for Bari’s Inspired to Sew blog badge.

January 31
Mary Abreu: Confessions of a Craft Addict

February 1
Jennifer Paganelli: Sis Boom!

February 2
Jona Giammalava: Stop Staring and Start Sewing

February 3
Rashida Coleman Hale: I Heart Linen

February 4
Sarah Fielke: The Last Piece

February 5
Jenny Doh: Crescendoh

February 6
Cara Wilson: Cara Quilts

February 7
Deborah Moebes: Whipstitch Fabrics

February 8
Monica Solorio-Snow: The Happy Zombie

February 9
The final giveaway will be back at Stash Books


AND THEN...while you're at it, there is also a blog hop put together by the Moda fabric designers. Still more favorites show up in this list! (Edit: If you only have time to visit one blog, I love love love Blackbird Designs. Her style and prolific-ness inspire me!) It starts, Feb. 1st. Here's the schedule and links:

1-Feb Comfortstitching

2-Feb Blackbird Designs

3-Feb Jan Patek Quilts

4-Feb Bunny Hill Blog

5-Feb Cotton Way

6-Feb Fig Tree Quilts

7-Feb Kansas Troubles Quilters

8-Feb Kate Spain Designs

9-Feb Kathy Schmitz Studio

10-Feb Simplify

11-Feb Me And My Sister Designs

12-Feb Minick And Simpson

13-Feb Oliver And S

14-Feb Pieces Of My Heart

15-Feb L & J Blog

16-Feb Sweetwater

17-Feb Barbara Brackman

18-Feb Deb Strain

19-Feb American Jane

20-Feb Primitive Gatherings


- how I feel about cooking -

Cream of Carrot soup....yummm. One of my best attempts at dinner ever. I made it last week from a recipe in the fabulous cookbook pictured below - Keeping Up Cookbook. The recipe is a little labor intensive, but worth the time and effort. (Notice my pretty Ralph Lauren plate above - mentioned in previous post.)

I peeled and chopped carrots, celery and leeks - cooked them in chicken broth, then pureed the delicious smelling veggies in the blender. The soup would have been good enough, but the addition of heavy cream and sour cream made it heavenly.

As I began the blending process, I popped three freezer rolls in the oven - timed perfectly for serving the soup and hot rolls. THANKFULLY, before stirring it in, I tasted a little spoonful of the cream - just a habit I have, mainly because I love straight, unsweetened whipping cream. Ohhhh, it was sour. Really awfully icky sour.

So, completely forgetting the rolls in the oven, I took off for Lee's Marketplace to buy more cream. It's a quick trip, but not quick enough to save the rolls from being becoming hard and black and burned-up garbage.

The burnt rolls sort of killed my enthusiasm, even though the soup was delicious, and both Mike and Scott slurped it up. As I was cleaning up, there was a label maker sitting on the kitchen counter. I couldn't resist a little catharsis, so I made a label about how I really feel about cooking. I stuck it on the cookbook and there it will stay.

I really do hate cooking. No, really.

Recipe - Cream of Carrot Soup
Because of copyright, I won't type the recipe from the cookbook, but here is a recipe that is very similar from the website Easy French Food.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely (I used the white & light green of four leeks)
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled if needed and sliced thinly
  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced thinly (I used 1 cup celery and no potato)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream (My recipe called for 1 cup cream & 1 cup sour cream*)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper for garnish
In a large sturdy soup pot (or Dutch oven), melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots, potato, and garlic in the butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down so that the soup is just barely bubbling. Cover the pot and cook the soup for 30 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool enough so you can comfortably puree it, using either a food processor or blender. Work in small batches and watch out for hot splashing soup! Once it is pureed return the soup to a pot.

When you are done pureeing all the soup, stir in the whipping cream and season to taste with salt and additional pepper. You can further season this soup with such things as powdered dry ginger, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, or curry. All of these flavors go very nicely with carrots.

Heat the soup to serve. Serve in bowls and garnish with chopped chives. (I added a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese.)

Makes about 5 - 1 cup servings.

*Next time I make this - when I forget that I hate to cook - I'll try fat-free half and half and fat-free sour cream. I always use light sour cream.


< QuiLt FuN >

Yesterday I went to Material Girls Quilts, a darling shop in South Jordan, UT to visit my quilt! It was hanging right above the check-out counter, so I just had to get some photos. It was there because last week Carolee mailed it and the cute yellow Happy plaque that Georgana made and a couple of other projects to Material Girls so they could display them with the new ADORNit fabrics. (If you go to Material Girls this weekend for their winter openhouse, you wont see the quilt - unfortunately I had to take it and other projects because they're going to ADORNit's booth at the CHA tradeshow next week.)

Yes, that's the quilt I made out of the ADORNit fabrics that are shipping out to quilt shops all over the world right now. We used my quilt and a dozen other projects in a "pattern book" - a book we created to showcase the Vintage Groove fabric collection. I wrote most of the words and proofread the book - and since most of us that work there just happen to be sewers, we all made projects tor the book - quilts, an apron, a table runner, stuffed birds, and more. The photos are big and clear and the step-by-step instructions are excellent : )

Nadine, owner of Material Girls, has been wonderful to buy the complete line and put it right in the center of her store. I could have spent hours there - talk about eye candy. Nadine buys really yummy, modern fabric and she has adorable patterns and books everywhere! Our book - Vintage Groove - was sitting right above the fabrics.

She told me yesterday that the polka dots are everyone's favorites and are selling awesomely. I love the polka dots - used them in the centers of all of my quilt blocks.

It's just unbelievable to see those bolts and fat quarters sitting all together on the shelves. What I love most is that the quality of our fabric is the best. I walked around the whole shop just to feel the different lines of fabrics. I've always loved the feel of Moda - and ADORNit is just the same. Just really gorgeous quality.

This venture into the world of fabrics and quilting by Carolee, Georgana, and ADORNit is a wonderful story of following a dream, working hard, having art talent, being courageous, and being blessed with a little help from above. I would have never dared to try it, but I sure enjoyed watching the process unfold and come to fruition for them.
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: : winter white : :

It's white and gray and tan outside and very cold and dreary ... it's winter.

There have been lots of deer in our yard and around the neighborhood. And when I was outside shoveling snow yesterday morning, there were flocks of birds flying overhead making pretty chirping sounds - not the ugly blackbird caw - and the sound filled the cold sky and made me lean on the snow shovel and look up.

I love to decorate the inside of the house tan and brown and gray and white during the month of January.

I keep the rooms bare and with as little color as possible (except for my blue). I gladly put away the chaos of Christmas reds and greens and all that holiday stuff...so much stuff. Here is my footstool with my favorite Compendium book Live Good by Kobi Yamada.

I adore the simple white lace on the front room chair and on the dining room table below. I chanced upon some fascinating book blogs yesterday and ohhhh...the reading possibilities for sitting in this chair in 2011. Keeping with my resolution not to add any more stuff, I'm thinking downloads on my Ipad will be the way to read this month.

It's hard to see the corner details on this beautiful white lace tablecloth - but they are embroidered white on white. The tablecloth was given to me before our wedding; it had belonged to Scott's mother. Sadly, I never had the privilege to know Arvilla Watts Raymond - she passed away from cancer about five years before I met Scott. But I have learned much about her - she was an amazing person, and I love this tablecloth.

And in the kitchen, blue and white to brighten the windowsill. The precious butter dish is a gift from my daughter-in-law Aimee. The plant pot is an inexpensive bargain from Ross and the plate is my !FIND! It's a Ralph Lauren china plate that I found at TJ Maxx yesterday.


~~ruffle heaven ~~

It started with a virtual shopping trip to the Anthropologie website to search for a notebook to write some little notes and such. I wanted a pretty notebook - so I thought of Anthropologie - the purveyor of pretty things. While searching for my notebook (nothing in that department - boring, uninspiring), I got sucked in by another joy ... RUFFLES. Everywhere ruffles. I've always loved ruffles, though if I look around my house or closet I see almost none. I once bought a skirt with loads of ruffles, but it was very unflattering. Since I like and want ruffles (what is it about them that feels almost springlike?), I decided I could settle on a ruffled tablecloth or sheets. Fun, huh?


my little word

Picking ONE word is almost impossible. I'm not sure where my word for this year came from - it just popped into my mind last week and wouldn't go away. So, I'm going to go follow my word through 2011 and see where it takes me. My word is wholehearted. And that's what I'm going to be this year - especially in three specific areas of my life.

I want to fully explore this word, and really my life right now, so I signed up for Ali Edwards online workshop on Big Picture Classes. It's called One Little Word - but it looks like one big project! Oh, I know what I have to do - embrace it wholeheartedly!


adj \ˈhōl-ˈhär-təd\
: completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic
: marked by complete earnest commitment : free from all reserve or hesitation

My other word choices were strive, focus, savor, and enjoy. I think they're all rather related.


one little word

Each year I'm fascinated by the online blog response to Ali Edwards' annual announcement of her "One LIttle Word." This is a word that she chooses as a sort of guide for her life for the coming year. I'm delighted with her choice this year: light.

She also invites her blog readers to write their word in the comments of her post and after a few days she compiles the words into a big list for everyone to read. She's also taking the idea a step further and teaching a year-long online class that includes making a charming scrapbook album/journal on Big Picture Classes. I'm going to sign up for the class because I love the potential of a monthly class that involves introspection combined with scrapping.

I get a kick out of reading the list -it's so fun to read everyone's words and marvel at the variety and diversity. OK, I guess I just plain love words. I have four words that I like for this year and will write about them and my final choice for my "One Little Word" soon. Here's Ali's list - which word would you (or did you) pick?

The 2011 words: Abide Abundance Accept Acceptance Achieve Achievement Act Action Active Allow Anyway Apply Appreciate Art Athlete Attitude Authenticity Awake Aware Awareness Babysteps Badassery Balance Be Beauty Become Begin Believe Belonging Beloved Better Better Blessed Blessing Bliss Bloom Bold Brave Breath Breathe Build Calm Can Capable Capture Care Celebrate Challenge Chance Change Chef Cherish Choice Choices Choose Clarity Clean Cleanse Clear Cliffjumper Colorful Comfort Comfortable Commit Commitment Community Compassion Competent Complete Completion Confidence Connect Connection Conquer Consistency Consistent Content Contentment Control Conviver (Portuguese for live together) Courage Courageous Create Create Joy Creativity Cultivate Dabble Daily Dance Dare De-stress Delcutter Deliberate Delight Detail Details Determination Determined Develop Devote Devotion Diligence DIRECTION Discipline Discover Discovery Do Downsize Dream Drishti (Sanskirt for vision, focus, point of view) Edit Educate Embrace Emerge Encourage Endure Energy Engage Enjoy Enough Enrich Established Esteem Eucharisteo Evanescence Evolve Excel Execute Exemplify Experience Explore Expositus Express Extra Faith Faithful Faithfulness Family Fearless Feast Find Finish Firework Fit Float Flourish Flow Focus Focus Forward Follow Forgive Forward Free Freedom Fresh Frolic Frugal Fun Fundamental Funny Gift Give Go Good Goodness Grace Gratitude Groovy Grow Growth Happiness Happy Harmony Heal Health Healthy Heart Home Honesty Hope Humble Ignite Improve Incarnational Initiate Inspiration Inspire Integrate Intention Intentional Invest Invigorate Involved Iron J.O.Y. Journey Joy Lead Leap Learn Less Let Go Letting Go Light Lighten Listen Live Lose Love Loving Loving-Kindness Luck Magic Make Manage Manifest Marathon Me Merry Mindful Mindfulness Miracle Moment Momentum More More & Less Motivate Motivation Mountain Move Movement Moxie Nest New Normal Notice Nourish Nourishing Nourishment Now Nudge Nurture One Open Openness Opportunity Order Organize Own Pace Participate Passion Patience Pause Peace Perceive Perceptive Persevere Persistent Perspective Plan Plant Play Positive Possibilities Power Practice Pray Prayer Prepare Present Preservation Preserve Prioritize Proactive Produce Progress Promise Prosper Prosperity Prosperous Purpose Purposeful Pursue Push Quench Radical RE Reach Ready Realize Rebuild Receive Recharge Reconnect Recover Rediscover Reduce Refine Reflect Reflection Rejoice Rejuvenate Relationship Relax Release Relish Remade Remember Renaissance Renew Renewal Rescue Resolve Responsibility Responsible Rest Restore Return Revive Revivify Revolution Rhythm Risk Risks Roots Routine Sacrament Sail Satisfy Savor Self-Control Self-evolution Sensitive Serendipity Serenity Servant Serve Share Shift Shine Should Simple Simplicity Simplify Slow Smile Soak In Soar Social Solace Song Soul Space Sparkle Spontaneity Stabilize Start Steady Step Stewardship Stillness Story Strength Strengthen Stretch Strive Strong Surrender Sustain Synergy Take Flight Teach Technology Temple Tenacity Thankful Thrive Tillåt (allow in Swedish) Time Today Together Tranquil Transform Transformation Travel Treasure Tribe True Trust Try Two Unburden Unleashed Verb Vibrant Victory Vitality Wait Walk Warrior Welcome Well Well-being Wellness Whole Wholehearted Willingness Wonder Write Yes Zen.


new year's day

1 - 1 - 11

so cool

I love to read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog and website. She wrote a book that started out as a blog and became a New York Times bestseller.

I'm thinking about making some New Year's resolutions - just for the sake of tradition - and because the date 1-1-11 just requires it.

Here's Gretchen's resolution-making advice:

Five questions to help you make effective New Year's resolutions.

Forty-four percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and I know I always do. I’m more inclined to make resolutions than ever, in fact, because if my happiness project has convinced me of anything, it has convinced me that resolutions – made right – can make a huge difference in boosting happiness.

So how do you resolve well? This is trickier than it sounds. Here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible. Remember, right now, you’re in the planning stage. Don’t feel like you have to do anything yet! Just start thinking about what would make 2011 a happier year.

1. Ask: “What would make me happier?” It might having more of something good – more fun with friends, more time for a hobby. It might be less of something bad – less yelling at your kids, less nagging of your spouse. It might be fixing something that doesn’t feel right – more time spent volunteering, more time doing something to make someone else happier. Or maybe you need to get an atmosphere of growth in your life by learning something new. (These questions relate to the First Splendid Truth.)

2. Ask: “What is a concrete action that would bring about change?” One common problem is that people make abstract resolutions, which are hard to keep. “Be more optimistic,” “Find more joy in life,” “Enjoy now,” are resolutions that are hard to measure and therefore difficult to keep. Instead, look for a specific, measurable action. “Distract myself with fun music when I’m feeling gloomy,” “Watch at least one movie each week,” “Buy a lovely plant for my desk” are resolutions that will carry you toward those abstract goals.

3. Ask: “Am I a ‘yes’ resolver or a ‘no’ resolver?” Some people resent negative resolutions. They dislike hearing “don’t” or “stop” (even from themselves) or adding to their list of chores. If this describes you, try to find positive resolutions: “Take that dance class,” “Have lunch with a friend once a week.” Or maybe you respond well to “no.” I actually do better with "no" resolutions; this may be related to the abstainer/moderator split. A lot of my resolutions are aimed at getting me to stop doing something, or to do something I don’t really want to do -- such as Don't expect gold stars. There’s no right way to make a resolution, but it’s important to know what works for you. As always, the secret is to know your own nature.

4. Ask: “Am I starting small enough?” Many people make super-ambitious resolutions and then drop them, feeling defeated, before January is over. Start small! We tend to over-estimate what we can do over a short time and under-estimate what we can do over a long time, if we make consistent, small steps. If you’re going to resolve to start exercising (one of the most popular resolutions), don’t resolve to go to the gym for an hour every day before work. Start by going for a ten-minute walk at lunch or marching in place once a day during the commercial breaks in your favorite TV show. Little accomplishments provide energy for bigger challenges. Push yourself too hard and you may screech to a halt.

5. Ask: “How am I going to hold myself accountable?” Accountability is the secret to sticking to resolutions. That’s why groups like AA and Weight Watchers are effective. There are many ways to hold yourself accountable; for example, I keep a Resolutions Chart. Accountability is why #2 is so important. If your resolution is too vague, it’s hard to measure whether you’ve been keeping it. A resolution to “Eat healthier” is harder to track than “Eat salad for lunch three times a week.”