Sunday, May 27, 2012

iris on display

Enjoying a fine day with sunshine so far--yesterday turned out to be a stormy day around here.  We have had an unusually wet spring which is raising the lake and stream levels back to where they should be.  But yesterday when I left the house to go to work, I noticed that I had some iris blossoms showing and I was afraid that when I came home they would be damaged by the wind and rain.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find them looking just fine, so this little spot must have been skipped over by the worst of the weather.  I know there was plenty of thunder, lightning, rain and wind over in White Bear Lake while I was crossing my fingers that the power would not go out and screw up our computers!

So this morning I went out to bring in the best of the blossoms.  I don't have much else for the bouquet right now, I did find a few hosta leaves that have escaped the hungry deer that sneak into the yard.  They really feasted on the early leaves, but we are working to keep the deer repellant spray in good supply and the plants are making a comeback.

I have a new recipe (new to me) to share with you--
Mixed Nut Bars

Surprise, surprise, it's for a dessert!  My weakness!  I don't make desserts as often as I would like because I end up eating most of it myself, Bob is no help at all when it comes to consuming sweets.  This pan of goodness is made from this basic recipe:
Mixed Nut Bars 
1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 can mixed nuts

½ cup white Karo syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1-6 oz. package butterscotch chips

Mix flour, brown sugar and butter.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes in a 9 x 13 pan.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Pour on can of mixed nuts.  Melt ingredients for syrup over low heat.  Pour over crust and mixed nuts.  Bake another 10 minutes.

This recipe materialized after my quilt club's spring retreat because someone made it to share.  Even though I couldn't attend, I can still appreciate a good gooey treat!  My only variation this time was to use only cashews and peanuts instead of the can of mixed nuts, that way I wouldn't have to deal with all those other rogue nuts that I don't like so much!  It ended up with a great mix of sweet and salty, you might want to give it a try!

I'm getting serious about the hexagon project that I have been working on, and putting up some pictures over on the BP Blog if you want to take a look at what will be a fall class offering there.  

Also getting serious about patterns and fabric for the Quilt MN event coming up in August, not much to show so far but making progress.

Along with working on 3 customer quilts (one at a time!) my day is pretty well booked!  

I wonder what my favorite little guy is doing today?  I got to spend Thursday night with him, and managed to get a smiley picture when he wasn't too wiggly--seems that smiley and wiggly are nearly inseparable!  12 weeks old today!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

a good read

Not very long ago I read this book and had intended to tell you about it but kept leaving it off my recent posts.  It was free on my kindle, and if you click on the link you might still be able to get it free but check the details.  It might also be in your local library.  It is a fascinating real-life story of a man's trip from the west coast to the east coast without spending a cent.  Do you think you could do that?  I'm thinking I would probably not make it very far before becoming discouraged, scared, cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, tired, etc.  But he persevered and conquered some fears in the process.  I am a big fan of a road trip, I love to just get in the car and drive without even a destination in mind.  Luckily, I have a husband who goes along with that so we make a good team.  But travel on foot, without any money, day after day?  Probably not going to happen, but I am glad there is someone out there who did it and wrote about it for us!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

to market, to market

I'm down in the land of big beef steaks and BBQ and the outskirts of the land of Oz.  Yup, Kansas City!  Last Thursday I loaded up my stuff along with Laurel and Debbie (Bear Patch co-owners) and Patty (Fabric Town owner) and headed south.  So nice to have Laurel's trusty extra-large mini-van for the trip, and we will need that extra space for the drive back tomorrow with the stuff we have accumulated so far!

It was a pleasure to have the chance to just ride along in the back seat, chatting, snacking and knitting!  I have started a fun new scarf--

which carries the scrappy theme from fabric into yarn because it is made of random bits of leftover sock yarn skeins!  This is called the Mini Mania and is available as a free download on Ravelry.  I really like the texture that is developing, it fools the eye and looks a lot like a woven fabric.  And it is a very easy one to take on the road because the stitch pattern is super simple.  So we rolled merrily along, solving all the problems of the world.  We only made one quilt shop stop along the way, that was in Ames at Quilting Connection.  It's always interesting to see what other shops might have on display that we have not known about or could adapt to what the customers in our own area might like.  They were busy and friendly at the store, it's a good stop to put on your maps if you are traveling I-35.

Just a few days before leaving home I had some quick quilting to get done for Stacy of Buttermilk Basin.  She had designed 6 new tablemats that were wool mounted on a background of regular cotton fabric.  She wanted some quilting done in the cotton fabric area, which really is just a background to the  focal point of the project.  So I loaded up the little squares and stitched them up and got them back to Stacy and her stitch assistant, Kristina, to be bound in time for photography and pattern covers.  They are on display now in her booth here in KC, I hope my little bit of stitching makes all the shop owners fall in love with them and buy lots and lots of patterns!

While we are here at Quilt Market, our main focus is on finding items and ideas for the store.  But there's often something that pops up that fits into our personal plans and this is one of them--

Debbie found these little baby ties and bought them for me to take home to Ian.  He will be looking just like his Daddy!  I love them!  They are made by Basic Grey.  Basic Grey is a company that has moved from scrapbook and crafting design into fabric design.

I have been posting several updates with lots of pictures over on the Bear Patch Blog all about our days here looking for great new things for the store, so hop on over there and see the fun new stuff!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

fun fabrics

Here's a couple of close-ups of some quilting that I just finished.  Some of you fabric junkies out there can probably name this fabric easily, it is from a group called "Flea Market Fancy" designed by Denyse Schmidt.  It was originally released several years ago and was one of the most successful groups of fabric, with people searching for bits and pieces of it ever since.  Fabric companies, in general, don't re-print fabric lines unless they are some of the staples.  So it isn't possible for stores to re-order more bolts, once the printing is sold out.  Therefore, when you see something you want in the fabric store, don't plan to wait until later to buy it!  Anyway,  Free Spirit Fabrics has released this reprint of Flea Market Fancy, and Debbie used it to make a quilt for an upcoming class at Bear Patch.  I am showing you just some little sections to demonstrate a couple of things.

First, let the fabric be your guide in the quilting design.  I have done this before in a couple of projects that have good polkadots at regular intervals.  I just stitch a wavy line around the dots and end up with something fun.

Second, remember that a lot of detail in the quilting shows up differently depending on the background fabrics.  In this quilt, there were sets of strips set around those nice polkadot block centers.  Debbie's request on this quilting was to have something curvy to play off all the straight lines of the strips.  So because this fabric is kind of playful and funky, in my opinion, that's where my mind went with my choice of quilting design.  I made swoopy lines on the strips with portions filled in with a style of quilting know as "pebbles".
This was fun to do, and fit with the style of the fabrics, but as you can see in the photo above, the pebbles are kind of lost on some of the fabrics.  I still like the design, but might do it differently if I was starting over!  

This morning I came across a quote that struck me as very helpful.  I wish I had had it handy when my kids were young and learning lessons about being honest and doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Think of what a wonderful world this would be if every person lived by this.