Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finally Finished

I started this quilt back in January and it lay on the back of our couch almost finished for 3 months. All I had left was one column of stippling and the binding. I really hate binding though so I wasn't all that motivated to finish. But I finally sat down and made myself do it and now I have a finished and usable quilt!

Sorry the photos are a bit blurry. You can still get the picture.

My next quilting goal is to do a non-stiplling quilting pattern. If anyone knows how and wants to give me advice I would love it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Books of 2012

I was looking through my goodreads account today and decided to figure out exactly what I have read in 2012. The total list contains 35 books so I decided to divide it up into 3 list. Here's the first installment of my 2012 book list. I have rated each book 1-5 stars and written what I remember about the book off the top of my head. I had to jog my memory for one or two books but for the most part this is just what I remember. I figure that what you remember about a book 5 months later can tell you something about the book.

The Kitchen House
1. The Kitchen House (*****) - great book about a young irish girl who goes to live on a plantation prior to the civil war. Loved it ! 
Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter2. Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter (****) - A southern girl from Memphis moves up to Vermont with her husband and two daughters to buy an inn. When the cheating husband leaves her to run the inn herself good friends come to the rescue. Good southern literature
Yankee Doodle Dixie3. Yankee Doodle Dixie (***) - The sequel to Whistlin' Dixie, Yankee Doodle Dixie follows the main character back to Memphis. I was disappointed with this book 
The Lost Wife4. The Lost Wife (****) - Girl living in prague falls in love and marry's guy right before he and his family escape Nazi invasion. Girl decides to stay with family. Amazing descriptions of the families life in a ghetto outside of prague. Wonderful ending.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt 5. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (*****) - I would give this book 6 stars if I could. Think secret life of bees. CeeCee Honeycutt goes to live with her southern, sweet tea drinking, fun loving aunt in 1950's Savannah Georgia after her looney mother gets hit by a truck and her always absent father decides he can't take care of her. Wonderful southern literature that will just make you smile.

The Soldier's Wife6. The Soldier's Wife (****) - Young woman with two young children lives on the Island of Guernsey during world war II. Her husband is off fighting in the war when the Germans invade the island. The house next door becomes home to German Soldiers, a love story ensues. Definitely recommend.

The Friday Night Knitting Club7. The Friday Night Knitting Club (***) - I liked this book for the most part. A single mom started a knitting shop and business when, alone in NYC, she had her daughter. Now, something like 10 years later, she has a thriving business and a growing daughter. Every Friday night the Friday Night Knitting Club convenes to share in one another's lives. Pretty good but terrible ending. Apparently there's a sequel but I haven't brought myself to read it yet.
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

8. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen (*****) - Another good southern lit book. Small town girl in Tennessee (?) mountains makes it her goal to leave the small town, escape the life that generations of her family have lived, preaching and growing tomatoes. Loved this book.

Born Under a Lucky Moon: A Novel9. Born Under a Lucky Moon (****) - This book was pretty good. The main character's family is eccentric to say the least so she has made it her goal to keep her new life working for a movie making company (I may have made that up...) separate from her family. A trip back home lets you see into a crazy, weird and very loving family that could the girl spends too much energy trying to hide.

How High the Moon: A Novel10. How High the Moon (****) - The main character, a girl named Teaspoon, lives with her mother's old boyfriend after her mom dumped her there to go try to make it as an actress. Teaspoon is a spunky tomboy who speaks her mind and "lacks manners." Very good book. (I tried to read another of her books by couldn't get into it...)

Still to come:
Water For Elephants
Drowning Ruth
When We Were Strangers
Sarah's Key
The Art of Mending
Violets of March
The Silent Governess
The Apothecary's Daughter
These is my Words
Sarah's Quilt
Safe Haven
Gap Creek
The Land Girls
The Dry Grass of August
Improper Life of Bezillia Grove
On Agate Hill
The Dirty Life
The Witches
Letters of a Woman Homesteader
The House at Tyneford

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pottery has come to an end

Today was the last day of pottery. It's sad to have it end. I really enjoyed going in during the week to work on my pieces. But there was one good thing about the last day of class. It meant we got to take home all our pieces!

These are all my little babies I've been working on for the last 8 weeks. (well minus the ones that got thrown in the recycling bin to be remade into workable clay). There are 24 in all, I think. It is entirely possible that one of my pieces is still sitting in the kiln or on the done shelf or heck even on the bisque shelf waiting to be glazed. I'll go back and check in a few days but I'm not going to fret about it.

So here are my pieces!

Strange little bowl with blue and clear glaze

So a piece broke on the kiln and over fired about 10 of my pieces. The only thing different about those pieces was that glazing was really really hard and took about 10 times as long. For 9/10 of my "crispy critters" they turned out fine. But for this one, the glaze was way too thin and it didn't turn out very well. :(
Brown mug with braided handle
This used to be a tall skinny vase and then... I dropped it while it was still wet. It bent up the neck and made it all wobbly. A woman in my class suggested cutting it up a bit and making it a pitcher. I am quite happy with how it turned out.
My little bitty demitasse mug. It's hard to tell in this picture but its about the side of a large espresso. 

Another mug with a braided handle. I thought I would like this color so I used it a lot... then a bunch of stuff came out with it and I realized it wasn't my favorite...

Black Stripes
Kermit the frog rice bowl
My first semi-successful bowl
So this mug... I worked dillegently to make a straight stripe around the middle with masking tape, dipped it in green and then painted on the stripe... Audrey, the studio assistant, goes "what color is this?" "green..." "what color is this one?" "Oh shoot!" I painted the stripe the same color as the mug! So I added some purple stripes to make it not terrible...

Nice little bowl
I really like this little pitcher!
Eh... wish I hadn't used the blue color but otherwise I like this one too!
Possibly my favorite piece from the semester. I glazed it in a nice slate green color with a unglazed stripe around the middle.

My series of pots. Not quite sure what I will do with them though.
Pretty little 2nd smallest pot in the series

I painted a leaf on the bottom of this one with wax so when I dipped it in black glaze it didn't stick to the leaf. 

And now I have to find a place for them all to live...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lollipop cookies

I made these cookies last week and then again on Sunday but couldn't post anything about them until today because I sent some to my boyfriend and they just got there.

I got the idea from a blog that came up on stumbleupon and would really like to give credit to the original poster but I have absolutely no idea what blog it was. So take this as my credit to whoever posted originally. I did not come up with this on my own and I do not claim to take credit for it.

I love these cookies not because they're exceptionally delicious, although they are, but because they are so bright and colorful and make you feel like you're five again. Plus they're not very hard to make.

STEP 1: The dough.

I slaved away for hours finding and making the absolute best sugar cookie dough ever.


I got in my car, drove to Harris Teeter and bought two rolls of Pillsbury cookie dough.

STEP 2: Dividing the dough

Because pillsbury sugar cookie dough comes in logs it was pretty easy to divide into five pieces. I put each piece in its own tupperware container for easy coloring.

STEP 3: Coloring

I chose to make mine 5 different colors using Neon food coloring. I had pink, blue, green, purple and orange but really you could make them any color. When I made my boyfriend's batch, I messed up the orange and made a truly awful brown color. So I only used 4 colors on his cookies.

I did come really close to making the brown dough into cookies for two of my boys who are frequently putting the fake poop around the house and blaming it on the dog. I figured they would get a kick out of the unfortunately colored spiral cookies if you know what I mean...

I'm planning on making some green and white spiral cookies for St. Patty's day so stay tuned for those pictures.

STEP 4: The Fridge- Round 1

The key to keeping the colors separate is chilling the dough after everything you do. The more you work with it and touch it and keep it out of the fridge the warmer and stickier it gets. No good.

STEP 5: Miniature planets

Maybe I've been in science education world for too long but my mind jumped to a planet demonstration when I made these little balls.  The balls are each about the size of a grape, although obviously, the fewer colors the bigger the ball, the more colors the smaller the ball. But really, you don't need very much of each color.

 STEP 5: Ever lasting gobstopers

So, apparently I'm not only a science ed nut, I'm a willy wonka nut too. When I took all five balls that I made in step 4 and rolled them into one ball they remind me of ever lasting gobstopers. You want to roll them enough that they stay together but not so much that you end up with a solid brown ball.

Willy Wonka agrees.

STEP 6: The Fridge- Round 2

Back in the fridge for 20 or so minutes to cool down after being shaped.

STEP 7: Rolling

You will definitely see the benefits of letting them chill before moving onto this step. In fact, I would suggest pulling out the flour and lightly flouring the counter and your hands. It makes this step much much easier.

Take one of the now chilled balls and roll it into a snake. Just like you did in elementary when you played with play-doh (or like you still do... cough cough)

We don't want perfectly straight lines, we want a twist. I found that the easiest way to get the twist was to roll it out almost to its full length (or its 1/4 inch thick or so) and then roll one hand forward and one hand backwards.

STEP 8: Rolling rolling rolling continued

Now roll it up in a coil.

When I was little, my parents would usher at church so we could sometimes stand in the back during the service. My favorite thing to do back there was take the long braided ropes that were used to rope off certain pews for special occasions and roll them like this into what I thought of as little rugs. I guess my time rolling church pew cords prepared me for this cookie.

STEP 9: The sprinkles.

Okay, so I struggled with the sprinkles. For my first batch I poured the sprinkles into a bowl and rolled each cookie (very carefully because they were still floppy) until the sides were coated. That method, however, has problems that we'll address in a moment. 

STEP 10: Baking

Well... I cheated and used store bought cookie dough... so if you decide to do the same, just follow their directions for this part. 

Aren't they fun! I tried to skewer one to make a lollipop but they're too thin. Perhaps homemade sugar cookies would have stayed fatter but these were flatter than pancakes. Still soft but very very flat. 

So you may be asking yourself: Self? There seem to be less sprinkles on the cookies than before they went into the oven. Where could they have gotten to?

Okay, so maybe you didn't ask yourself that question, but I did and I also discovered the answer.

They're on the bottom of the cookie. :(

Once again, science education me started thinking about friction and the movement of the cookie as it baked and I have concluded that by putting the sprinkles on the sides of the cookies they get bowled over by the cookie as it bakes. The obvious solution, therefore is to not put the sprinkles on the side but instead put them on the top around the edge. That, however, is really hard to do. So if you come up with a way to add sprinkles just around the perimeter of the circle, let me know. But for now, I give up on sprinkles.

And those are my super fun lollipop cookies! Enjoy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Irons and whatnots

This was going to be my week to finish all three quilts because my roommate is visiting her family for a week and I was hoping for some serious sewing machine time. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened.

For one thing, I just haven't been in the mood to sew this week and I have learned from experience that if I'm not in the mood I shouldn't force it. Sewing is something I enjoy and I don't want to make it a chore. Also, I get WAY sloppy when I don't really want to be sewing.

I started to do some light quilting on Tuesday but discovered that the iron I've been using, which belongs to my roommate, is gone. I don't know if anyone has ever tried to quilt without an iron but its pretty much impossible. SO, to remedy my new ironless state, I bought myself a new iron!


Isn't it pretty! Now, I knew that with the amount of ironing I do, I needed to spend a bit more money and get an iron that could really meet my needs. The iron I had been using was an itsy bitsy compact thing that would be perfect for the casual ironer. My ironing needs, however, are a bit more intense so it's probably a good thing that I was forced into an upgrade. This one has 5 settings PLUS you can change the steam amounts. It has a spray button that works (mine at home doesn't work) AND... the best part... it has a retractable cord. I know. Its cool. Be jealous. 

The Dress:

Okay, so I don't make clothes. In the 10 years I have been sewing I have made 2 dresses, a skirt, and a couple pairs of pajama pants/shorts. I don't like it, I'm not good at it and I find it incredibly frustrating. With a quilt, if you mess up one stitch or do one little thing wrong, no biggy. Its just one piece out of 360. No one will notice. But with clothes, if your machine decides to spaz or if you pin something wrong or you get annoyed with trying to get a curve to actually stayed curved while you sew it (man I'm getting frustrated just thinking about it!) then its incredibly noticeable and you just end up looking like a clothes sewing phony. So...  I don't make clothes.

My mama called me up a couple of weeks ago and said that she had a present for me. Yay! Well... turns out that my church at home is making dresses for little girls in the Dominican Republic where they go on a mission trip every year. Mom was nice enough to buy two dress kits so that two little girls could have new dresses. How thoughtful. She then called me and told me she would send them my way and I could send them back when I was done. Thanks Mom. 

Luckily these dresses aren't too labor intensive (although they were not the 5 minutes that mom kept claiming they would take). They're actually made of pillow cases with the bottom cut off. Pretty cute and easy (as far as making clothes go)

I was trying to figure out if these little dresses could be shortened into shirts but I'm not convinced they could be. Pretty cute little dress for a little girl though! I just hope that whoever gets the dress won't look too closely at my thread snags and wonky armpit seams.

Now that the dress is made I think I'm done sewing for the day. Oh why oh why did my break away from sewing have to come during the week when I can actually sew?! Oh well, what can you do...

Hope everyone has a magnificent weekend and enjoys the beautiful sunshine!