29 September, 2011

Nearly Wholecloth

50'' by 62''

This simple quilt is the brainchild of Amanda Jean. We talked so much about quilting back in March. She said she wanted to make a nearly wholecloth quilt - just two neutrals and some fun quilting. Because she had enough of the fabric she gave me the same amounts for the top and sent me home. Over the months we talked about what we might do - hand stitching, different colour threads, backing fabrics... We went round and round. Then we both just did.

I was finally able to move forward with mine when I made this doodle. I'd made a lot of doodles, but this one stayed with me. And I think I was able to translate it to the quilt quite easily. It helps that it isn't that large of a quilt! This is another example of my "organic" quilting (too lazy to mark) but I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I enjoy the improv aspect of it. The texture is also great.

As you can see, I went with a solid green binding. It was Rossie's suggestion. As soon as she mentioned it I knew it was the only option, despite some good choices. My initial thoughts had been blue, but I had nothing in the stash that called to me. The green is perfect! And when the girls and I went for a hike yesterday and snapped these photos it made me see how much the colours work with the landscape around me.

The back is high contrast to the front. Three pieces of very bright, multi-coloured fabric. All were fabrics I bought on-line because I loved them, then couldn't imagine how I would use them. It is a great bit of fun with the front neutral sides.

And just as we were ending our stomp through the forest I spotted a grove of trees. The Monster took this picture after she noticed that The Evil Genius matched the quilt. She made her stand there so she would be camouflaged. Well, if it wasn't for our coordinating Chucks! And she's already claimed the quilt for herself, I think the green building sealed the deal for her.

This entire quilt was a fun challenge. It was great to push myself beyond my crazy improv norm or pile of circles. To use neutrals like this was way out of my comfort zone, as was the use of that much solid fabric. Not only was it fun to do, I am thrilled with the results. Make sure you check out Amanda Jean's version.

28 September, 2011

Colour Days

The Monster is now in Kindergarten! (Yes, this deserves an exclamation point. That's how we both feel everyday.) One of the first lessons they did was a focus on colours. To be honest, we thought this seemed a little simple, but I found her looking at colour everywhere, learning Spanish vocabulary, and seeing my personality manifest itself in her. There was a great need for colour coordination during these two weeks of school.

It was completely her idea to colour coordinate her snacks.

Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Pink/Purple-Rainbow-Brown-Black & White

At the beginning of the week or on the way to the market we would brainstorm the coordinated snack options. The only one I was stumped on was black and white cookies. For one, I was too lazy to make them right after baking brownies for Brown day. And two, while I've got no problem with sweets I didn't think she needed them two days in a row. Thank goodness for Twitter. She was intrigued by the squid ink pasta in cheese sauce, had to have blood sausage explained to her, and threw up her nose at a black bean dip. It was an easy settle on black berries and feta.

She loved sharing her snack with the class and ate it every single day. Win-win!

27 September, 2011

New Projects

Okay, I know I said I was on a finishing kick, but I couldn't help pulling some fabric for new projects.

These are both favourite colour combos of late. It's no surprise that both orange and turquoise are in these piles. Shockingly, they are not placed together!

This pile is for an overdue baby quilt. I've finally got the design together, after a lot of ideas. Feeling the pressure on this one for some reason. Maybe because it is for an already much loved baby? Or very stylish parents?

The orange and beige is for a just for fun quilt. Have you heard of the Modern Blocks book yet? Well, I've got a couple of blocks in there and this pile will be used to create a full quilt from one of those designs. I plan to share the pattern for this when the book comes out, or not so shortly thereafter...

23 September, 2011

Fuddy is Not Duddy Challenge - Update

Have you started picking your fabrics for the Fuddy is Not Duddy Challenge? If you've been quilting for a while my guess is that you've got fabrics hiding in your stash that will be perfect. If not, it seems like a perfect excuse to hit your LQS for a little brown, burgundy, and green love.

The Evil Genius and I played in my stash the other day. I have A LOT of brown. Not so much burgundy and almost no dark green.

But I do have a plan for my little doll quilt....

I'm finalizing judging and some prizes for the Challenge. Remember, October 10 is the deadline!

21 September, 2011

Binding Choices...

On a roll now... I've got this almost whole cloth quilt finished up. I'm just stuck on binding choices. It seems like a no brainer when you only have two neutral fabrics on the front, but it is remarkably hard for me to narrow it down.

It is completely quilted with a vivid orange thread. The back is a combo of bold fabrics, so nearly any colour would work there.

What do you think?

And while you are helping me out, take a moment to check out some other WIP posts at the newly launched Needle and Thread Network. More Canadian love! It's great to see this out there as I've been unable to carry on with the Workshop in Progress.

20 September, 2011

Backseat Adventure - Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

Down a street lined with offices, carpet stores, and body shops you can find, arguably, the best bakery in Calgary. It isn't so large that the smell of fresh bread comes through your air conditioning. But the line of cars and bikes outside the nondescript entrance on a Saturday morning, opposite the line of smashed up cars, is your giveaway that you've arrived.

Then you step in the door. It all seems so sterile and clinical because you walk right into the kitchen. There are bags of flour, sometimes loaves being kneaded, large ovens, and racks of trays. Then you see Aviv and his partner. The warmth emanates from them before they've even smiled a greeting. Before you've finished saying hello a hunk of bread, buttered and salted, is placed in your hand. And before you've finished that bread you're already calculating just how much of the other goodies you can fit in the paltry one shopping bag you brought.

If you're lucky you arrived at the bakery location early enough to grab a danish, cinnamon bun, and a cheese stick. Or maybe a scone is more your speed. Or, if you are my family, all of the above, plus a brioche, some bread, and a macaron from M for Macarons (They share the commercial kitchen space).

If you're really lucky, and you are my husband, and you ask nicely for raspberries there will be danishes covered with a crabapple and maple syrup cream topped with raspberries waiting for you when you arrive. And you will buy 4 of them.

Taking a weekend trip to see Aviv has become such a family ritual for us that it is the first thing the Evil Genius asks about once her Saturday morning cartoons are on. Sadly, for her and us, she does not sleep in that much, so we have a few hours to wait until the 10 am opening. My kind of bakery - it's not open ridiculously early. But don't wait too late or you might find yourself fighting over the last baguette and that's it. Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is only open 10-2/3 on Friday and Saturdays.

If you can't make the weekend trip to the bakery there are still options for gathering the incredible goods. In fact, you can find their stuff all over town! I first met Aviv when he started out delivering bread to offices off the back of his bike. My office all became addicted to his bread and I've been following him since. He still does office deliveries. He's also got a pop-up cargo cart that sets up downtown (check out his Twitter stream for times and locations) as well as selling at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Market on Wednesdays in season. For a full list of locations that sell his amazing products check out his site.
We are still making the journey as a family to the bakery. We love the chance for a visit, to buy more bread that one should eat in a day, a journey that takes us away from the manufactured markets and yuppie food we're used to finding. This is honest food, served by enthusiastic and kind people. It is kneaded and baked with love, full of the best things that can be found around Calgary (from Silk Road spices to crab apples from down the street). And damn, it's all so good.

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery
5524-1A Street SW

19 September, 2011

More Catch-up

I told you I was in a finishing mood... Time to get some overdue bee blocks out and tackle new ones as soon as they come in.

This is the Lucienne Day inspired block for the last round of my Mid Mod Bee. I can't wait to see what Yahaira does with her blocks.

This summer saw a new bee start for me. An all Canadian, all Improv group called Unscripted. It's nice to save on postage and see such vibrancy in Canada too.

The first block has this dreamy colour combo and takes its inspiration right from Block Party. Donna over at Kindred Crafters had us make this block for her.

The second month belonged to Holly. She was greatly inspired by Elizabeth Fransson's Put a Bird on It Quilt. Having never worked with Echino myself, this was a fun little challenge. And I must say, I can see how the colour becomes addictive.

One of the best parts about working on a Canadian bee? I can write colour and favourite and no one says anything funny!

15 September, 2011

Finished Room

I finally got the finishing touches put on the girls' room this week. That is, I got the curtains hemmed, cleaned it up again, and Hubby was home with his tools to help hang the artwork. Here is the before of their room.

Much brighter, filled with far more functional space. Table for crafts, writing, and more. Open space for games, building things, and a landing pad for jumping off the bed. Only one bookshelf now with edited items. A revamped dresser. A new quilt.

Here is The Triangle Quilt in its new home. See how it fits the bed perfectly? 90'' by 90'' is my new favourite queen quilt size. Perfect if you don't want a pillow tuck.

(On the right side there, behind the red curtain, lives my fabric stash.)

I still think this was needs more artwork, but Hubby and I are in negotiations about that. It is nice to have a bit of quiet space, but even thought the embroidery is large I'm not sure it fills the space.
My Baba was an incredible cross-stitcher. Her house and ours was filled with pillows, table toppers, and framed pieces of hers. She made enough of these bowls of poppies for all her family. To my Mom's dismay I reframed it last year. It used to have a very gold, very ornate frame. With this clean look I find the embroidery shines.

The cabinet, repurposed from my husband, is filled with games and extra quilts. Unfortunately, that damn Hungry Hippo game doesn't fit in it.

On The Monster's side of the bed she gets a tray to hold her favourite books and her water bottle. The tray also adds some colour in the darkest corner of the room.

The Evil Genius gets the cabinet holding the collections of figurines and the closest we get to toys that aren't blocks and games. Fairies, dinosaurs, and an airport. All together. Makes perfect sense in our house.

This bookshelf holds all their books, dress-up items, puzzles, arts and craft supplies, building blocks/Lego, and mementos. Not to mention the collections up top. The rocking chair is from Hubby's grandparents, passed down from his younger cousins that are now grown.

This is our collection of shells, rocks, and seaglass. All gathered on trips we've taken together as a family. Nova Scotia, Mexico, and camping this summer. I've got a dozen more of these jars in reserve for additional trips.

On top we house the piggy bank collection they seem to have amassed, including Hubby's from when he was a kid (the frog), and one of my favourite prints from Marisa Haedike at Creative Thursday.

Don't you love the rainbow book sorting? It appeals to my anal nature to have things sorted and helps the girls put things away cleanly.

The repainted dresser and the girls' bulletin board wall. I had other artwork here, but they asked for a place to display their stuff. Fair enough. So we picked up these squares of cork and some thumbtacks. I love how it echoes the bookshelf on the opposite side.

As you can see, I didn't change the colours on the dresser. I loved that green! But I did give it a fresh coat. And yes, that is a basket of dirty laundry on the side there. Hey, it's a room that is lived in.

Every time my girls ask me to draw a picture I can't help but think of that SNL skit about Simon who likes to draw drawings. As you can see, I can't draw! That's a family portrait done by yours truly. It gets a place above our engagement photo. And that rests on some crochet my Dad did for the girls. He picked up the needle shortly after his cancer diagnosis. This isn't the delicate work I remember him doing when I was a kid, but a brighter and more energized version.

And this is why I have to keep the thumbtacks hidden - there is a lot of climbing on furniture done by our resident monkey.


The girls asked me to keep the walls red. I'll admit, I wanted to lighten it up but I was pretty happy I didn't have to spend a week painting. The red is what Hubby and I painted this room when it was ours. They told me they loved the colour. They are so my kids!

The only new purchases for this redo were the paint for the dresser, the sheer curtains, the bird tray, and the bulletin boards. Everything else was repurposed from their room, the basement, my mom's basement, or even my husband's no-longer-existent home office.

When the girls returned from their week at Camp Baba/Jojo/Grandma they were surprised by the room and for days would come up to me and hug me, telling me that it was so pretty. That made it worth it. But what has also made it worth it (aside from the crap I got to throw out) is that they are respecting the space in a new way. I don't have to tell them to put things away because they get that everything has a home. They want to keep it functional for themselves.

The other great feature is that we can spend hours in here and not run out of activities - crafts, practicing our writing, sorting shells, pretending we're tigers or skunks, pulling out the games, reading books, building things. If I let them eat in here we would be set.

14 September, 2011

Corn and Swiss Chard

There was a stirfry contest between myself, an elderly neighbour, and my three year old Evil Genius. I was losing. Taken down even in my dreams.

My stir fry was watery and being taken over by corn and swiss chard. A watery stir fry is unforgivable, but I won't apologize for the corn and swiss chard. It is a tremendous late summer/early fall confetti combination. Even if it meant that my kid beat me in a cooking contest.

The first time I made this it was with the first corn of the season because I wasn't sure the kids would be up to tackling corn on the cob. I've since been proven wrong, but this is also such a popular dish in the house that we've been having it at least once a week since the corn arrived. Technically, I've been having it twice because any leftovers serve as an excellent bed for poached eggs in the morning.

This has been an excellent dish to take advantage of our CSA chard, garlic, and herbs. When I combine it with some Noble Meadows goat feta and use Mighty Trio Organics Flax Oil instead of Olive Oil it makes a completely Alberta dish.

Corn, Swiss Chard, Feta, and Mint
Serves 4 as a side dish

3 cobs fresh corn (0r 1 cup frozen niblets)
1 bunch swiss chard
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Shuck the corn, being careful to remove the silks. Standing the corn straight up on a cutting board, slice off the kernels. Set aside.

Remove the center rib from the swiss chard. If they are thin or you chop them small, you can use them here. Otherwise, discard or set aside for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

In a large frying pan with a lid toss the swiss chard with a generous pinch of salt and the water. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, covered. Uncover and add the corn. Toss well. Keep uncovered and cook for another 3-5 minutes until any remaining water is evaporated. Stir frequently. Add the oil and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Place in a serving dish and top with the feta and mint.

13 September, 2011

Sketch to Reality

Must. Finish. Projects.

I'm on a kick this last month and I feel the need to finish up a bunch of stuff before I start anything new. It must be September. I've long since considered Labour Day to be my New Year more than January 1st. It's felt this way since I left university and feels even more so now that I've got one in school full-time.

This quilt has been basted since some point in the spring. I was in charge of a basting demo at my guild and used this. Then I got stuck on what quilting design to sew. I browsed this site for days. I sketched and doodled. Nothing ever felt right. Then I was chatting with Amanda Jean and she commented that she was coordinating her quilting, thread choice, backing, and binding. I hadn't thought this far ahead, but it made a thread colour pop into my head. From there I made a few more doodles while hanging out with the girls and a plan was hatched.

I honour of the New Year and because Amanda Jean posted about her nearly whole cloth quilt I felt the need to pull out mine yesterday. Now the trick is to realize that sketch...

08 September, 2011

The Triangle Quilt

The Triangle Quilt
90'' by 90''

So named by The Monster because it has lots of triangles. Simple, explanation, really. Made up with bee blocks from my Pieced Together 2 bee, and some more added by me. Random flying geese, all going in the same direction.

The girls decided to pretend they were fallen statues on their bed. Other than sleep it would be the most still they've ever been on their bed. Right after I took this picture they started wrestling.

This quilt ended up being the perfect size. I know some folks don't like square quilts for beds because beds aren't square. If you want to skip that traditional pillow fold look, however, the 90'' by 90'' is perfect for the modern queen bed. You know, the kind that are ridiculously tall? Even after washing I've got plenty of overhang, without it being obnoxious.

(When I finally get a chance to finish up the details in the girls' room and photograph it you will see what I mean.)

I promise you that the quilt does lay flat when it is on their bed. It's been washed already to get out some random blood stain. I actually had it on their bed for a week before I finished the binding, so maybe the blood was a prick on my own finger? But for a bed quilt for two little girls I expect it to get washed A LOT.

For that reason I didn't stress over the quilting too much. I wanted it solid and graphic, but I didn't worry about it being perfect. It is my theory that "organic line quilting" is another way of saying "too lazy to mark". Well, it is in my world. The quilting on this one is mostly straight lines with random triangles. They sometimes echo the actual geese blocks, and sometimes they don't. It turns out to be a pretty neat effect on the finished quilt.

When it came to the back I more than lucked out. Back in March, when I was visiting Amanda Jean, we went to Hancock's (I think). The grey was purchased with these bee blocks in mind, although I had no idea what the quilt would become at the time. The turquoise polka dot I also bought then. The two combined perfectly in this back. The polka dot is a single stripe down the middle of the back. The Monster is obsessed with all things striped, so at least one had to be there.

Binding a quilt this size doesn't go fast, but it was a great activity on the nights I couldn't face much more after this run of single parenting. Or when the girls are playing baby tigers on the floor and you sit on their bed, under the the quilt, stitching. Other than that one section of turquoise it is the same yellow. I wanted the geese to pop, so I carried the yellow to the binding.

As for solving the problems we were having before, this quilt has definitely been the solution. Besides, it's pretty.

06 September, 2011


It was only a coincidence.

There I was happily quilting away on my little blue/green HSTs. You know, the one Hubby thinks is my coolest quilt ever. And the one where he thought I should have matched up the background circles? (By the way, I told him he could make the quilt himself next time if he thinks that's ever going to happen.)

I'm busy twisting and turning the quilt as I add the straight line quilting when I notice this:

And this:

Out of 272 blocks I managed to match up these two seams, without even trying. That counts for something, right?