Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Designing Fabric

Just for fun, and because I wanted something specific for a quilt I was working on, I decided to design and print my own fabric. Just for fun, you should do the same.

What exactly does it take? A picture, drawing or sketch, a scanner, basic photo editing software and printable fabric which you can get at the craft store, are what I used. Depending on how complicated or simple you want your design to be, you might be able to bypass a step or two. Don’t have a good home printer or want to deal with printing your own fabric? Use Spoonflower (http://www.spoonflower.com/) where they will print your fabric designs in as small as an eight inch swatch to as many yards as you’d like and on a multitude of fabric choices. Personally I can’t wait to utilize this service soon since they switched their quilting weight fabric to Kona Cotton without raising their price. To show my process, I made another video in the My Day Off series.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I’m sore. Damn sore.

Saturday after work and yesterday after church we helped friends paint and clean their new space. I can’t go into any details yet, but we are both super excited for this next chapter in their business. Anyways, let’s just say that going up and down and straddling a ladder over and over has turned my legs into jelly. My back is so stiff it feels as though any wrong move and I might snap in half. My hands and arms feel tight from doing so much cutting in with a brush that typing hurts. Oh yes, today is going to be a joyful day at work.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pimple or Bug Bite

It’s a truth nobody wants to talk about. Adults get zits.

My skin is wack. I have dry, flaky and oily skin all at once. I’m sure it’s because I don’t drink enough water, but the side effects are I have frequent acne breakouts. Currently I have one about the size of Jupiter over my left eyebrow that feels like a water balloon. The other peculiar thing is that there doesn’t appear to be a head, which makes me think it’s another spider bite. It wouldn’t surprise me. The exterior doors in this house have so much weather stripping they physically can’t close all the way. Hell, the one leading from the living room to the garage won’t even latch. We also live in a heavily wooded area, so bugs are quite common in our neck of the woods.

So, normally I wouldn’t be all self-conscious about such matters, but you see, I have a performance today. Okay, so really I’m doing a scripted Reader’s Theater piece with our pastor as the sermon, but still, I’ll be on stage and everyone will be staring at the huge red dot on my forehead. It’s like a beacon. And so I have a couple options, which is that I can leave it as is or cover it up with some of my husband’s clown makeup. Honestly, I hate wearing makeup. I hate how my skin feels when it’s on and I hate taking it off because it never feels like it ever really comes off. Alas, it looks as though a head covering might be in order from the costume department.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


When fabric has such a huge price range for what seems to be identical products, it’s easy to get suckered into only looking for the lower price end of the spectrum. But is that wise?

Back in the days before designer fabric became so popular, I used to scour through salvage bins at the craft stores for bargains on fabric I thought I could do something with. Most of what I bought was, well, interesting, but then again it was the early to mid nineties. Then I started working for Crapmart and began getting my fabric there mostly for the price and the employee discount. However, there were only so many deals to be had in the Dollar-a-Yard and Two-Dollars-a-Yard sections. Most of those fabrics were that in name only, but it didn’t stop me from getting entire bolts of stuff I thought I could use. Don’t get me wrong, they had a nice selection, but it seemed that once quilting was gaining popularity again, Crapmart wanted out of the business of By-The-Yard fabric. Whatever.

Anyway, now that I’m older, I get most of my fabric from a local quilt shop and a smaller fabric store. Most of that stems from my distaste of the big box retailers trying to quash any and all competition, but the biggest reason is quality. No more “100 percent cotton” which are actually 80/20 polyester blends or having to deal with someone who didn’t even work in the department trying to cut fabric and failing miserably. I mean, I knew how and volunteered to work the department while covering breaks and lunches and trained all of my employees how to do the same since my department was right next to it, but watching some guy from Automotive cut fabric after spending half the day doing oil changes was hilarious, not to mention a little messy, what with all those greasy fingers over-handling the fabric.

Even though I make less money now than I have in years (thanks economy!) I refuse to buy fabric based solely on price. Not so long ago I cringed at spending ten dollars a yard, but now if I know I will use it then I will get it. Sure, it’s nice when stuff is on sale, and my local quilt shop has a fantastic clearance room, but it’s also nice to know that you are purchasing something that isn’t going to fall apart in the washing machine or create havoc after it’s washed because the fibers aren’t similar and end up bunching in odd places because it indeed did have polyester in it when it said it didn’t and so it didn’t shrink while the rest of the quilt did and now you have a crappy looking quilt. Let’s just say I’m hesitant to wash The Uninspired Quilt for fear that those cotton fabrics aren’t all they say they are. But then again, I really don’t like the quilt in the first place, so perhaps washing it will improve its character.

Deals are great. Quality is better.

Friday, January 27, 2012


After months of anticipation, the chickens are finally laying again. Well, at least a couple of them anyway.

Calculating the age of our hens, we’re pretty sure it is time to get a few more to add to the flock. The biggest question is to either let the Dominique raise them from chicks once she goes broody or to raise them ourselves for the first couple months. While it was nice not to have to worry about the chickens at all because we had a hen to do all the work for us, those two girls are what most would consider wild chickens. They’re ultra skittish around us when we approach them and never let us pet them either. Personally, I think of them as pets who give us delicious eggs for breakfast and cakes, so I would like to be able to handle them every once in a while.

We still have a few more weeks before our feed store will be getting any chicks. In the meantime I keep checking their website for word on what breeds they will be getting so we can determine when we’ll be adding to the flock. Methinks this time we should just get a bunch of Americaunas so we can be assured of blue or green eggs in the basket to add to the variety of browns and pink.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not So Productive

Okay, so yesterday I had some pretty grand plans. I obviously didn’t accomplish them all.

Let’s face it, whenever I make a plan to do a massive amount of stuff, it always fails. Maybe that is a little dramatic. There have been a few instances where the plan has panned out, but rare are those cases. I did, however, manage to finish a few things. Alas, not much more. Overthinking on my part is usually the culprit, and yes, I know that overthinking is not a real word.

So what did I do with my day off? Worked a little more on a fabric line I’m planning on putting up on Spoonflower (www.spoonflower.com), finished the Frog & Fairy Quilt with an appliquéd name and date on another scene from the Frog & Fairy line, fed and watered the chickens as well as gathered eggs for the first time in months, played with the dog, then I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. All in all, about as unproductive as I get on my day off. I did manage to film another episode of the My Day Off YouTube series, but that probably won’t be up until Sunday.

I was hoping to start either That 70s Quilt with the In The Kitchen line from Alexander Henry or start working on flying geese for a quilt I want to make using Kate Spain’s Central Park or at least get another block from The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt done, but my brain was so out of it yesterday I’m surprised I got anything done at all. Judging from what I just wrote, my coherency is still a little iffy. I need this coffee to kick in pronto!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blank Inspiration

Staring off into space
I feel an idea about to spring
But alas, it slips away
Into the dark pool of my morning coffee

Sipping another drink
Of the Elixir of Life
I know now what to do
With the day ahead of me

Nothing, I say aloud
Nothing will I do
Nothing will I create
Nothing sounds so boring right now

Sitting, I think some more
With a plethora of images
Racing through my head
Like horses on a track

Baking and cooking
Cleaning and organizing
Sewing and quilting
Oh yes, today will be full of creation!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where's the Cat?

This morning was awfully quiet. It took a minute, but I realized we were short an animal.

My morning routine as of late has included picking up Lucy, our Great Dane’s, shit off the living room carpet. She absolutely abhors the rain and refuses to be in it for more than a few seconds. The other night I tried to get her to poop outside for a half an hour before giving up and going to bed. My husband decided she was sleeping in our room that night. Coincidence she didn’t poop in the house or was this all part of her ploy to get exactly what she wanted in the first place? Methinks it is the latter.

Anyway, so I am normally greeted by two twirling, mewing and starving cats and the beating of a drum, also known as Lucy’s tail hitting the walls of the hallway. Instead I was alone. It was a nice change. Still, there was poop to clean up before feeding the four legged freeloaders, so it took a while before I noticed we were an animal short. I checked in all the usual hiding places, like the litter box, the window behind the blinds, underneath the couch, but alas couldn’t find him. And so I sat to enjoy my coffee.

Normally after eating, our older and bitchier cat, Tuesday, will lay down, either next to me or on her bed, but today she seemed restless. It was as if she was looking for something, or more accurately that other cat who eats her food and poops in her litter boxes. She walked away and didn’t return, so I followed her to the hall where she stared at the linen closet. Of course. Dexter, the other cat who eats her food and poops in her litter boxes, likes to run and jump into spaces we don’t necessarily want him to be. It’s part of his charm. Anyway, I opened the linen closet and out pops Dexter, bypassing me, getting hissed at by Tuesday, growled at by Lucy as he heads straight for a litter box. At least he’s really good about using that. I just wish this would teach him a lesson, but I know that it won’t and he’ll probably end up getting closed into the closet again later today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

French Bread

Making bread can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Making good bread requires mad skills… or a bread machine to do most of the work.

Yesterday we knew friends were coming over for dinner. Actually, they were bring the entrée and we were providing a salad and bread. My husband was going to make the bread, but I decided to make it since he was busy working on incredibly complicated math homework to get his, like, eighth teaching endorsement in hopes of finding a job. Anyway, I knew what I wanted and I’ve made French bread before, so I simply adapted my recipe to make it better and a little healthier. The results? It was fantastic and the flavor was amazing. I used the dough cycle on my bread machine for the entire process except baking, which takes about an hour and a half and does every step except dissolving the yeast in water. Personally I find it to be the most foolproof when I would rather be doing something else, like quilt. Here’s my recipe.

Cory’s French Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water (about 115 degrees)
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine water, yeast and brown sugar together until yeast dissolves and begins to bloom, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix for about 10 minutes if using a Kitchen-Aid with a dough hook, or knead by hand for 10 minutes, or be lazy and use the dough cycle on a bread machine like I do. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size. Punch down and repeat. When ready, cut in half for baguettes or leave whole for a loaf. Stretch to desired length and twist before placing on a baking sheet or pizza stone sprinkled with corn meal. Cover with a towel and allow to rise one final time, anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. With a sharp knife, cut a few slits on the top of the bread. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Importance of Drinking

My brain feels like a rock. I definitely didn’t drink enough water yesterday.

Throughout the day most people drink. Coffee, tea, water, milk, juice, whatever. The point is most people keep themselves hydrated. Me on the other hand, I don’t like to drink while I’m at work because, well, my Irish bladder can’t hold it. I have my coffee in the morning and tend to drink about three glasses of water after I get home between then and bedtime. Yesterday, however, I only had one and today I’m paying for it. My brain is shriveled! My body is sore! My fingers are having to press the BACKSPACE button more times than I can count just writing this!

So I’ve decided, Irish bladder be damned! I WILL drink more water, if for no other reason than to never feel like this again. Okay, so this will probably last a few days and then I’ll be back to my usual pattern. Let’s face it. I’m a creature of habit and I have bad habits. And hate having to pee every five minutes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It’s no secret that on the job injuries occur where I work. Some animals are just batshit crazy!

So yesterday, as I was taking a cat out of his flimsy cardboard carrier the owner brought him in so I could get a weight before putting him in the surgery ward to be neutered, he bolted out biting and scratching both of my hands. Fortunately I had taken the precaution of closing off the doors in the exam room I was weighing him in. Unfortunately the cat proceeded to knock every picture frame off the walls. My coworkers thought I was having a violent epileptic seizure or something but I assured them not to open the doors. Actually I screamed, “Don’t open the doors if you value your life!” After finally capturing the cat with a towel over his head, I skipped the weigh in and quickly took him into surgery.

Let’s just say the exam room looked like a hurricane had just gone through it. I didn’t notice until later after I put all the pictures back on the walls and finished up the chart, along with writing on the cat’s cage card “USE CAUTION!!! BOLTS! BITES! SCRATCHES! EVIL!!!” (Okay, so I didn’t put the EVIL part on, but there was the temptation to do so. A very real temptation.) that there was blood splattered all over the walls. Of course, I was busy cleaning out my wounds with hydrogen peroxide and applying some topical ointment to help it heal. Anyway, the kennel person was diligently scrubbing the walls and I was kind enough to tell him he missed a few spots as I handed him one of the collage frames before filling out an accident report. I wasn’t going to because the wounds weren’t emergency room worthy or anything, but my coworkers told me to do so anyway… just in case.

So what is the lesson learned? When someone tells you their cat is the sweetest cuddle bug in the world, they’re lying. I can’t wait until they bring in this cat’s sister to be spayed. I’ll be sure to have one of the other people handle that. Of course, I should have known that this was going to be a peculiar situation, as one of their other cats, named Mamma Kitty who supposedly gave birth to their horde, has a penis.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crock Pots

Where would we be without these kitchen tools we’ve grown so accustomed to using? One of my favorites is the humble crock pot.

In our kitchen you can find all sorts of modern kitchen gadgets. For instance we have a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, Cuisinart food processor, Cuisinart griddle-grill-Panini press, Oster blender, Oster bread maker, VillaWare waffle iron, and of course, the Mr. Coffee coffee maker. I’m telling you, kitchen life would be hell without these modern day advances in technology, especially without the latter. Okay, so maybe it’ll be hell to everyone who has to deal with me. Anyway, this is about the works and wonders of the Rival crock pot we have, and which is currently under use making dinner as it has been since last night. I’m a believer in slow cooked meals, but don’t always want to, well, slave away in the kitchen all day while I should be at work, and so I employ the ease of a crock pot for those times.

So what’s for dinner? Pozole, a chicken and hominy stew of sorts. However, with my complete and utter lack of faith in most cookbooks, and the fact that my Mexican cookbook does not have a recipe for this, I decided to, in usual Cory-fashion, make one up. I chopped up a couple stalks of celery, a yellow onion, a few cloves of garlic and added a can of diced tomatoes (fresh taste like regurgitated mush here in the winter) jalapeños, a couple spoonfuls of garlic chili sauce (it’s Asian, but whatever) some cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt and stirred it together with a couple cans of hominy before adding about a pound and a half of frozen chicken breasts and thighs. I poured a can of chicken stock on top, put the lid on it and set it on low. I’m sure I could have done it all this morning, but judging from the obvious equilibrium issues I’m having right now, there would have also been an emergency room visit, in which case, no dinner, and that would be sad.

And so, since my grocery shopping included finding stuff to add on top of the soup, including avocados and red cabbage, I seem to have forgotten the limes and cilantro and radishes. Oy. Looks like a quick trip to the grocery store before heading home tonight will be in order. At least I know exactly what I need this time. However, that is no guarantee I’ll actually remember to do so, even if I make a list on my phone and set a reminder. That reminds me, I better go shred the chicken now so it has plenty of time to soak in all those amazing flavors. And yes, the house smells amazing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Uninspired Quilt Complete

What happens when you are completely uninspired by a project you are working on? You don’t want to work on it.

Okay, so for a good year and a half now I have been working on a quilt using fabric I bought back in 2006 for a quilt that never materialized. By working on it, I mean I started it, put it away, did the backing, put it away again and didn’t want anything to do with it from that point on. I loved it at first, but then after actually starting a project with it became completely uninspired by everything about it. Naming it such certainly did not help the situation.

 So yesterday afternoon with nothing else to do, I decided I was going to once and for all finish the damn thing. I taped down the backing, layered it with the batting and top, basted with some safety pins and brought it into my craft room to quilt. Being that I haven’t been too keen on doing much with this project, I decided to simply do wavy lines to mimic the waves in the striped fabric, but only go vertical. I quilted the centers and edges of each block this way and for a brief moment contemplated doing betweens for a mass of verticals, but honestly, felt it was done and ready to fold over the backing and bind.

I’m pretty confident in my ability to simply fold over the backing fabric and machine bind, but when the sides are bigger than I originally thought they would be I thought that would be beneficial. Wrong. I should have cut them more. Yes, it’s waste, but waste is better than headaches. I’m still contemplating ripping the sides, cutting or folding the excess under and doing them over, but for now, I’m calling this project completed. Why? Because with a name like Uninspired Quilt, I’m just glad it is done and one more thing I can cross off my To-Do List. Plus, the bonus part of this whole quilt was that I was able to use the excess from The Fall Quilt for the batting and still have enough batting leftover from that bag for a couple smaller projects.

Looking at it now, I’m probably going to rename it to what I had originally thought when I came up with the super simple pattern, and that is Open Envelopes Quilt. Who knows, if I get really bored maybe someday I will add a few surprises inside those envelopes. However, the Magic 8-Ball says: Doubtful. Outlook is grim. Another time, perhaps.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


When a child loses a parent, for some reason that seems expected. But when the roles are reversed, no matter when it happens, it is simply unthinkable.

Last night I received a phone call that one of our good friends lost her baby at thirty-eight weeks. I can’t imagine the loss she must be going through right now. No warning signs or any indication something was wrong up until yesterday when she noticed the baby was not moving. How does one cope? How does one grasp what has happened?

And so now I am thankful I haven’t yet sent off the quilt I made for the baby because our friend decided to wait until after he was born so I could add his name. However, perhaps, when the time is right, I will do so anyway if she wants me to. Perhaps instead it could be a memorial quilt. Perhaps. In the mean time, I will keep the Frog and Fairy Quilt boxed up and wait however long it takes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Arctic Blast! Extreme Winter Storm! Snowpocalypse!!! Forecasters, please. There’s barely a smidgen of slushy mix on the ground.

When the forecasters predict inclement weather, I often wonder if they have a bit of sensational journalism at play. Are they really trying to prepare us for what could happen or are they just trying to sell their story? Personally I don’t believe there is any malicious intent involved, however, with that being said, do they really need to give the storm systems ridiculous names? At the same time, I can’t wait for what they name the one we’re about to encounter.

So, this whole threat of snow thing got me wondering if the idea of threatening someone is based on malice or simply to draw fear from the recipient. Sure, there are threats that are carried out, but these are usually by people with a history of carrying out the threats they make so they really shouldn’t be discounted. However, a majority of threats remain just that and never materialize. Perhaps what we really need to figure out is why people feel so threatened in their lives they feel the need to threaten others. Insecurity? Low self esteem? Fear of losing control? Gay ex-husband?

Maybe it isn’t the threat we really need to worry about so much as who the threat is coming from. Do they have a record of following through with or accurately predicting their threats? Would you trust them to feed your fish when you go on vacation? Are they generally honest about how your hair really looks? If you answered yes to any of the above, there’s a good chance to take what they say seriously. But if not, I wouldn’t worry about it. Unless it was the fish, because even honest people are kind of iffy when it comes to that sort of thing.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Do you ever have days where you feel like doing absolutely nothing? That was me yesterday.

Laziness is one of my most unattractive qualities. I’ll freely admit to it. However, lately it seems my creative juices are being drained, or for better words, less productive than I’d like them to be. Let me explain. I want to keep quilting The Fall Quilt, but don’t want to do it at a table where it will need to be done to prevent it from flopping around everywhere. I want to start a new quilt project, but look at the growing pile of Need To Be Completed stuff and convince myself it isn’t a good idea. I want to make another eBook tutorial for my Etsy shop, but don’t actually want to make the project and take all the pictures and do all the work that goes into such an endeavor. I want to continue writing or editing one of the various young adult novels I’ve started or written over the years, but can’t seem to find my groove.

So it appears I have a case of the I Want, Buts. Saying that in my head sounds dirty, but alas, the truth of the matter is that I’m making excuses for why I can’t or don’t want to do something I actually can or do want to do. I can use the excuse that I don’t have a single overriding personality trait as I am equal parts dominant, expressive, amiable and analytical, or I can get off my ass and do something. I suppose it is all up to me, huh? Well, I want to, but…

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crème Brûlée

Last week I decided to finally make crème brûlée. Oh. My. Gawd.

Since I had a kitchen torch I got a couple Christmases ago and had never tried it out, I figured, what the hell, make something with it. So after digging around on the internet and seeing the outrageous prices for butane to fill the damn thing, I went next door to where I work to a discount wine and tobacco store and got a ten and a half ounce bottle for three bucks. All that research led me to believe that as long as it was refined a few times (this bottle was refined five times) it won’t gunk up your torch.

Now, I must admit, I’ve never made crème brûlée before. I believe I must post this disclaimer because not only did I make up a recipe on the fly by taking what I liked about a couple different recipes, but also videoed myself during the process. Let’s just say that I’m that confident in my baking and cooking skills that I knew I’d be able to pull something amazing out of my chef’s hat. It’s a rarity in my life to be confident about something, but food-wise, yeah, I pretty much got it nailed.

Oh, and after watching the video, you really need to make this. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, simply set your broiler to high and place the sugar topped custard ramekins a few inches under it for about thirty seconds to a minute, or until the sugar caramelizes. Otherwise, get a torch. They’re a hell of a lot of fun to use!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

National Dress Your Pet Day

January fourteenth may be a national pet holiday, but not in our house. I refuse to dress my pets.

At the veterinary hospital where I work, I am in charge of the bulletin board. More specifically, I’m in charge of changing it once a month to reflect upcoming pet events or specials or foods not to feed your dog and cat or whatever may be news in the pet world. Searching for pet holidays in January popped up only one result; National Dress Your Pet Day.

 At first I was intrigued by the notion. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why people would subject their four-legged friends to such abject humiliation? Okay, so that might be a bit much. Actually I think it is hilarious to see cats and dogs dressed like people. Especially when they are giving you the look that says, “I will kill you in your sleep.”

So if you have a pet and feel so inclined to do so, dress him or her up for the day. If anyone gives you crap about it while you are out walking your dog while she is wearing a Disney Princess costume, just ask them why they hate their pets so much they don’t celebrate the holidays on their calendar too. That will shut them up. Or start a fist fight. Either way it will be entertaining.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fall Quilt: Hooped and Quilting

After ignoring my Fall Quilt for a week, it was time to drag it back out and continue quilting it. However, I still don’t know how to keep the damn thing bundled together so it isn’t flopping around everywhere as I’m pushing my needle in and out!

One thing is for certain, and that is I need more practice hand quilting. I thought it would be similar to my hand appliqué work, but in those circumstances I was not dealing with a backside that would be showing. As it turns out, it kind of matters what the backing looks like. Okay, so I missed a few stitches. No big deal, right? Wrong! It is going to bother me to no end until those are fixed. But how should I go about doing it? Wait until I’m done with the quilting and then go back to everything that needs re-stitched or fix the sections as I go? I’m thinking the latter might be the better alternatitive.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Yeast is a four letter word in our house. Yes, I’m aware there are technically five letters in the word too.

Our dog, Lucy, has chronic yeast infections all over her body due to environmental allergies which, on top of that, has also developed an allergy to yeast itself. This current episode is horrific, though not nearly as bad as the one she had a year ago. It’s not like the condition ever goes away, but a few times a year it seems worse than others. With an über dose of Ketoconazole (800 MG daily) and a Ketoconazole topical cream added to the mix this time, I’m hoping to get it under control fast.

My pizza crust recipe also calls for yeast. Yeast I keep in the refrigerator. For baking. Yesterday I decided to make my Shrimp Pesto Pizza crust entirely from whole wheat flour. While it doesn’t have the same chewiness as using equal parts whole wheat and white, it has the perfect flavor to complement the pesto, spinach, garlic, olives, Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese, parmesan and shrimp. This is where yeast is not such a bad thing as it takes a few ingredients and turns them into something amazing. Okay, so I  make it amazing.

So I guess the moral of the story is what makes one dog miserable is a vital part of what makes the world a better place for all because there is pizza in it. Though they are different yeasts. That would be gross if they were one in the same. Although, the possibilities of being able to harness the power of the yeast directly from my dog to make pizza crust is intriguing. Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit for even thinking such a thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Do you ever have a craving for something that simply will not be satiated until you have it? What about something you’ve never even had before?

At work during the slow times, my colleagues will waste away the hours looking at the site Pinterest. Honestly, I don’t understand the obsession these people have with the site, not even after my own stuff was pinned. Or, more accurately, I didn’t. Yesterday one of them came across a chocolate cake that looked absolutely amazing. A click revealed a blog called Art of Dessert (http://artofdessert.blogspot.com) where there on the screen was the most decadent looking chocolate cake ever, a Chocolate Wasted Cake. Chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream frosting and filling, covered on the sides with semisweet chocolate chips, with miniature Hershey Bars, Kit Kats, Twix Bars, Kisses and Whoppers piled on top before being drizzled with melted chocolate.

Must. Make. This. Cake.

So before leaving work yesterday my coworker asked if I would make this for her and I politely (who am I kidding, this is me) said no way in hell. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Every time I walk into the kitchen I want to pull out everything chocolate and start making this! I want it to be Halloween again so there are fantastic deals on bags of candies to pile high on top of this sinful confection! Ah, but it is almost Valentine’s Day so perhaps there are some candies on sale that will work. Hmmm… I have a bad feeling about this.

Now I’ve gone and requested an invitation to join Pinterest. I’ve ransacked my cupboards to reveal I have everything for the cake and frosting just not the excessive amount of chocolate candy goodness required to take this cake from, well, cake, to amazing. Something tells me this craving will not go away until I finally cave in and do something about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spare Room

Last night when I got home from work, my husband asked me to go into the spare room. He’d packed away all of the boys’s stuff. I feel like I’m, I don’t know, still in denial and yet at the same time have a sense of immense loss. How is it that those two small kids could have such a huge hold on my heart like they do?

So for now we have a spare bedroom and both of us are in agreement that we like having the office and craft room combined, which means there would be no reason to move anything else into it. My husband has also created an incredibly useful workbench in the garage that doubles as his model station. We’re talking geekaholic here. But, I have to say that the model of the Reliant from Star Trek he’s working right now is incredible and I hope when he’s finished with it he will display it somewhere in the house. Yes, it’s that awesome. As for the spare bedroom, I think I’m going to finish cleaning it and we can use it for a guest room. I might even put the futon back in the upright position to be used as a sofa and maybe make it a quiet reading room or something.

Life is full of ups and downs. I’m ready to make 2012 an up year. No more pining for the past. No more worrying about the future. Simply living for the day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Busy Non-quilting Weekend

This weekend my husband and I decided to make a To Do List. Half of it is crossed off.

Christmas ornaments put away: Check. Tree boxed up: Check. Department 56 North Pole Village packed and bookcases reorganized: Check. Naked looking living room: Double check. Chicken coop cleaned and chickens fed and watered: Check. Deck hosed off of excessive amount of chicken poop: Check. Okay, so that was all done by midday Saturday, which meant we probably could have completed our To Do List had we really wanted to. However, the next thing on the list was packing up the boys’s stuff and I just couldn’t do it.

It has been four months since we’ve seen Josh and over five months since we last saw Logan, but I can’t stop fighting back tears every time I open their room door. I’m sure that once all reminders of them are boxed up and donated or put in the garage it will be less intense. That and the bedding needs to be washed and floors shampooed because I still smell them both while I’m in there, especially this last Christmas when I used the room to wrap presents. Perhaps tomorrow or Wednesday I’ll work up the courage to do what has to be done.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Free Motion Quilting

I decided to document my first foray into free motion quilting in the form of another video. Hopefully this one is better than the dog bath.

With the aid of my trusty 1963 Singer Touch & Sew Deluxe Zig-Zag Model 600 sewing machine, I decided it was high time to figure out how to do free motion quilting. Or, at the very least, attempt to do so. I didn’t know just how well it would do since it has been over a year since her last tune-up. Hmmm… maybe that should be another research project? Or maybe I should just fork out the seventy-five bucks and have my local sewing machine repair shop do it like they usually do because, well, they know what the hell they’re doing. Anyway, for the free motion quilting guinea pig, I decided to off up the commission quilt, Frog and Fairy Baby Blanket. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Old Age and Forgetfulness

Do you ever have moments when you realize that you forgot something? I do all the time.

It seems the older I get the more forgetful I am. I mean, for instance, things that I would never have second guessed myself on just a few years ago suddenly require a quick glance at the original to make sure I’m doing it right. This goes for recipes or cleaning or whatever. Okay, so maybe only the foods I don’t make all that often require me to look at the original recipe every now and then, but still, I used to be able to look at a recipe once, make it, and continue making it over and over without needing to refer back. Not so much anymore.

I also have apparently gotten into the habit of forgetting my stuff at work. Yesterday as I walked through the house door and realized I only had my work bag (or my murse as my coworkers call it, but really it is just a market bag to keep my keys, phone, wallet and paperwork in… oh gawd, it is a murse!) in my hand and not the bag I had my Fall Quilt in, I screamed out an expletive. Then threw out another. And then decided what the hell, I wasn’t really going to work on it most of the weekend anyway since we are taking down our Christmas tree and North Pole Village today. At most I will have tomorrow after church, and since our church is the next street down from where I work, I’ll just pick it up after service. That is, assuming of course, I remember to do so.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hand Quilting

I just started hand quilting the Fall Quilt. Oh boy, what am I getting myself into

Figuring that I’d be in for a long project, I decided to use a simple quilting pattern. Nothing fancy and straight from the book I took the pattern from, Material Obsession. However, what I did not anticipate was just how difficult it would be to quilt a large, full-sized, uh, quilt. This is so confusing to me. It’s like QUILT in the quilting world is like SMURF in the Smurf world; you just use it in place of any other word, or for when there is no other word to describe what you are trying to convey. Quiltity quilt quilt quilt!

Anyway, so, I’m using a cotton thread because the perle cotton I wanted to use I couldn’t find a color that would go with the quilt very well. Instead of single stranding it, I doubled it up. I don’t know why, but this is something I’ve done forever and continue to do when hand-appliquéing as well. Perhaps it is because if I’m going to be obvious about my stitching, I want it to be really obvious. Or perhaps it is simply a habit I never grew out of. Either way, I’m quilting with two strands of thread which, honestly, is a pain in the ass when it bunches up which inevitably it does… often.

At this point I’m thinking of ripping it all out and starting over, which if I did it now would save me a lot of heartache if I decided to do this later, especially since I’m only about a quarter of the way through my first pattern. Okay, I have to be honest, the pattern is an eight and a half inch square with a six and a half inch square inside which will be repeated all over the quilt in random places and usually overlapping. It’s quite modern, but then again, so is the fabric and pattern itself. I debated for a while over whether to do circles instead of squares to mimic the circles in the fabric, but in the end decided to keep them squares for ease of quilting. Now, if only I could make sure that when I’m quilting I’m actually going through the backside and not just the front.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Foolish Filmmaking

Yesterday I decided to film most of my day. Okay, actually just a small part of it.

In an effort to keep my interest in documenting the everyday, I decided to employ the powers of the video feature on my camera. I started off the morning in my usual way, making coffee and feeding the animals and blogging. And once I was done with that, it was time to get started on this unscripted documentary filmmaking experiment.

The first episode is me giving our dog Lucy a bath. Exciting, yes. Actually, not really. But then again, rarely is life. However, I also filmed my first endeavor to use my 1963 Singer Touch & Sew Deluxe Zig-Zag Model 600 Sewing Machine to do free-motion quilting. That two-part video will be ready next week. Eek!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bath Time

It’s time to give our dog Lucy a bath. I’m telling you, she’d might difficult.

We have a Great Dane, and while by Great Dane standards she’s quite small, she is still one-hundred-twenty-five pounds of pure muscle and stubbornness. When it is time to give her a bath it can take ten minutes just to get her into the tub. She also needs her nails cut and ears cleaned, so this should pose to be a fantastic morning. Please allow me to continue drinking my coffee.

Having a dog who has chronic yeast infections due to both environmental and food allergies and on top of that has developed an allergy to the yeast itself is beyond frustrating. Sure, we feed her food that doesn’t have any grains since her allergy tests showed that, well, she’s allergic to practically all of them, but her environmental allergies include a wide variety of trees, grasses, mold and mildew, all of which are prominently featured here in the Pacific Northwest. One good thing to come from moving out of the old house is that this one does not have a mold or mildew problem, which has cut down tremendously on her major outbreaks.

But, first things first, I need to wash all of her bedding in All Free & Clear and cider vinegar to remove any allergens and also not leave any residues that might further irritate her skin. I use about a quarter cup cider vinegar in the wash and another quarter cup for a fabric softener. By bedding I’m also including her sofa quilts I made so she doesn’t stink up the couch too much. It still needs Febreezed because, damn, that dog’s yeasty body odor penetrates EVERYTHING. However, after a bath she smells pleasant… for a day or two anyway.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Now that all the holiday hustle and bustle is over, it’s time once again to focus on unfinished projects. But with so many of them, it may be hard to figure out just where to pick up again!

Let’s see what I’ve got on my To-Do List… the Desperate Housewife’s Quilt blocks I’m terribly behind on; the Fall Quilt that I need to find a quilt hoop for so I can begin hand quilting; the Uninspired Quilt needs to be sandwiched and quilted (although with a lackluster name like Uninspired, it is no wonder I haven’t!); the Frog and Fairy Quilt that was commissioned months ago desperately needs to be quilted and sent off to the recipient before the baby arrives; my 17th Birthday Quilt top my mother made me also needs a backing and quilted before the end of the year, especially since I turn 35 in March. These are just the unfinished quilt projects I’ve got that I want to (or need to) finish by year’s end and don’t include the ones I want to get started this year.

I suppose if I made a plan and accounted for when to do everything it would be beneficial. Supposedly. If I were to make a plan today, it would include a trip to Country Manor, my local quilt shop, to find a quilt hoop with the gift certificate my husband got me for Christmas. Maybe I’ll even pick up a couple balls of perle cotton too. Actually, that is my plan. Now I suppose the only way to fulfill said plan would be to get dressed and ready for the day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Time For a Change

Sadly, it is almost Epiphany, which in our house is when we take down the Christmas decorations. I can’t wait to take down the tree, but the North Pole Village just looks so cute this year!

When we take down the Christmas stuff later this week, I’m thinking it might be a good idea to do a little rearranging. Okay, so maybe I think it is simply time to leave everything in the living room the way it is and bring in another piece of furniture from the garage. I’m leaving my options open, however, in case this plan doesn’t work out so well. Aesthetics are one thing, but honestly, I really like the way it is set up right now. Of course, with the tree out of the way the entire bay window will be void of furniture and I’m thinking the old shelf unit I had on the wall of my craft room at the old house would work well there in front of the window once I put feet on it… or legs. I haven’t decided. I suppose the only way to figure out if it will work will be to actually put it there and find out.

The plan is to have it be our media storage for the Blu-ray discs and DVD sets that aren’t on the hard drive connected to the media box. Well, that’s my plan anyway. I’m not sure what my husband will want to do with it. We may want to use it for board games or photo albums or something else. Methinks the storage possibilities will eventually work themselves out based on whatever we feel like we want to have in it at the time we bring it into the house. Then again, it may not work out at all, in which case I will simply put the living room back the way it was before Christmas.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year

Celebrating a bad year wasn’t going to happen for us. Celebrating the prospects of a new one, however, I’m all for.

The year 2011 was a bad year for us, and with that there wasn’t much to celebrate. We lost our home, some friends, our kids, family members and a lot of our pride. Even on years like this I normally would still feel like having a few people over, but neither my husband or myself felt the urge to clean off the dining room table or vacuum. Thus, party for two.

But with a new year comes new resolutions. Personally I feel like I haven’t been capturing life’s moments as well as I have in the past. I used to be a prolific picture taker, snapping up photos of nearly everything. We also haven’t had pictures printed since 2007, not that we necessarily need to, mind you, but we don’t even have a digital photo album created. It would be nice to have the photos accessible to view. I smell a project coming on. Perhaps we should also break down and figure out when our professional photographer friend, Sarah (http://sarahcostaphotography.com) can take pictures of us to put into the frames my husband’s mom got us for Christmas.

So maybe one day I will look back on 2011 and think it wasn’t such a bad year after all. However, at this moment in time, I’m glad it is behind us and look for forward to what 2012 has to offer. Hopefully it isn’t the apocalypse because that would suck.