Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Come visit my new home:

This is my last post at this location. Peanut Blossom has officially moved:

To celebrate, I'm having a big giveaway over there so you'll want to come check things out and join the fun.

Please update your bookmarks, readers, email subscription, etc. etc. I'd hate to miss chatting with you!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I've Moved!:

Oh Happy Day! I'm thrilled to announce that Peanut Blossom has officially moved on over to it's new and permanent home:

I still have a few new features up my sleeve that will be added in the coming weeks but I just couldn't wait to get the change started. I also have a fantabulous giveaway planned to celebrate the move. All the details come tomorrow so stay tuned. Go ahead and get a jumpstart on your entries by following me over at my new home and updating any subscriptions you might have to reflect my new address.

One last reminder, my "name my serger" contest is still going strong. I think I might have a winner but I'm going to leave it open until the end of the week so that the big move doesn't cause someone to miss their chance. You can still enter here

Friday, September 4, 2009

A tiny Etsy find

After seeing several photos of the world's cutest little pins, I was elated when La Vie en Rosie uncovered the genius responsible. Gigi from Pinks and Needles has one of the sweetest stores on Etsy that I've come across. I placed a little order to see her handiwork in person and look what arrived: Gigi's pins Of course I didn't want these little beauties to disappear in my sewing box, so I needed a new pin cushion to go along with them. A quick search later and I set to work on using up some of the little scraps accumulating in my studio. Pin cushion One thing lead to another and the pin cushions started multiplying. Pin cushion I guess I'm just going to have to add something sweet and tiny to my ever growing giveaway pile. . . Speaking of which, still not too late to enter my "Name my serger" contest! Leave your entries here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The finishing touch

My sister has a nickname for my kind of personality: "Small Pumpkins." That's a story for another post, but basically it infers that I obsess over little details. So it's only fitting that the thing I was most excited about including in my two quilt presents this summer was the personal quilt labels I ordered from Sweetwater. Quilt label All I had to do was iron this little beauty on the back of the quilt. Voila'. The perfect finishing touch. Quilt label Next time I think I'll plan ahead a little better and sew around the edge just for looks, but I'm still super pleased with how they turned out. The service was super quick and so very tailored. Once I submitted my order, the ladies over at Sweetwater gave me a couple layouts to choose from to ensure my label was set just right. I will definitely be ordering these again, I just loved them!! Now don't forget, you still have time to enter my "Name my serger" contest! Leave your entries here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mommy and Me Market Bags

Last week was my birthday. I have to admit, I was spoiled pretty rotten by loved ones with random packages arriving on my doorstep. One such package that definitely deserves a little bragging about included these: Matching market bags Mommy and Me Market bags! Aren't they darling? Want to know what makes them even better? They are the First Completed Sewing project my friend Colet has ever done. Included with her sweet gift was an even more thoughtful note about how seeing my completed projects here inspired her to finish one of her own. And I'm the lucky lady to get them! She did an awesome job. I would never have known they were her first. My first completed projects are usually found hiding in closets around the house. Seriously, look at those handles! She even trimmed the fabric so the lemons would run up the handles just so. Very impressive. Kid's market bag I've found so much inspiration from the blogs I read, it feels wonderful to be paying that feeling forward. Thanks so much, Colet! You made my day! These will be getting a workout this afternoon at our local Farmer's Market. And, a reminder to everyone else: Keep imagining up names for my serger! Leave your entries here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My first contest! Come and get 'em!

I've been hinting. I've been teasing. Now I think its time to start having a little real fun around here. Are you in the mood? What would you say if I waved this under your nose: Fabric from the Quilt Shoppe Would you say, "Yes, please!!"?? How about if I said you had to be patient a little longer for the big payout, but that I would love to share one of these to tide you over?: Mill House Inn charm pack It just so happens that someone around here had a birthday last week. Someone who has a mother that happily supports a hobby that has begun to clothe her granddaughter in exceptionally cute outfits. The crowning gift in said birthday celebration just happened to be one of these: Serger Oh yes. It is my first serger. I don't have a clue where to even start with this darn thing, but I'm giddy at the prospect of learning. I mean really, look at these dials! They must hold the keys to sewing magic. I'm sure of it. Serger closeup So here's the deal. I think my serger needs a name. I've never been one to name my cars or computers or gadgets, but for some reason I think it is time to break that rule. My quandary is that I'm horrible at the naming game. In comes that beautiful little charm pack featured above. Let's have a contest!! The rules are insanely easy: Name my serger! I have a sewing machine, too. If you feel it needs a companion name feel free to add that in your entry. Or just name the serger, no pressure. Tell your friends, spread the word, enter as often as you like! I guarantee to leave this contest open for at least 1 week. If I haven't chosen a winner by the end of 7 days, I'll extend the contest until the right name comes up. The gifted writer that offers up the winning name will be the recipient of the charm pack. Is that easy enough? Let the christening begin!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The big reveal

I spent the majority of my summer secretly working on a pair of quilts that I couldn't share with you until today! I'm so excited to finally have them finished and given to the happy recipients. Maybe you remember a certain stack of fabric that arrived in June. While we were planning for our 8th anniversary, my dear friend Michelle was spending 3 long weeks in labor with her second little boy. Yes, you read that right--3 LONG weeks in labor. I ordered enough of this fabric to make Tim's anniversary gift along with a second matching quilt for Michelle and her boys. First up was Tim's quilt to meet our July 21 celebration and with little Oliver's arrival on July 9th there was no time for resting before jumping into the second quilt. Tim's quilt, Front Tim requested this fabric collection, but I chose the pattern. I knew the blue, white, and red theme would be just right for Michelle since their family all has birthdays within 2 weeks of the 4th of July. It's a big time of year for them! Tim's quilt, Applique Details I think this is the perfect couch blanket. Tim is tall so I extended the pattern in length and just a smidge in the width. It's perfect for sitting in his arm chair or for someone laying down on a couch. Or, for a certain mommy who has two little boys to snuggle with. Tim's quilt, Back Had to piece the back with Tim's favorite "red racing stripe" because I haven't quite figured out my quilt math and ordered just a few inches too little for the backing. In any case, I'm really pleased with how both quilts turned out. I'm even more pleased to be moving on to entirely different projects. I need to mix things up a little bit for my own sanity. Now I know never to do two identical projects back to back! But they were both made with tons of love.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wear sunscreen

Every graduation season brings that song back to the radio. You know the one, with the guy kind of chanting life lessons? I think it's titled "Wear Sunscreen". Anywho, there's a line in there that always sticks with me. Don't waste time worrying about big things when really its the things that blind side you on a random Tuesday that you need to watch out for. I'm having a week filled of those random Tuesdays. Hydrangea A little eye candy to hold you over. The short end of the story is that my mom is fine. We think. The longer end of the story involves several 3 hour round trip treks between her house and mine to help out while she visited some doctors and had some testing done. Needless to say in a situation like this, everything else gets dropped. My frivolous crafting plans for the week were thrust aside and I'm left with nothing to blog about till I get my bearings again. I'm taking a couple days off, but I'll be back next Monday with a series of FANTASTIC posts. Ok, I brag just a little and set your expectations way too high I'm sure. But I'll finally be able to share some photos I've been dying to share and get back to the business of having a little fabric fun. I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Picture of a soul

I recently read Nick Kelsh's parting column in the final issue of "Lasting Moments" magazine and I'm so sorry to see his series end. He's always shared such wonderful "pick it up and use it right now" kinds of tips for improving your photography and I feel I've learned so much from him. One quote from his article really struck home with me: "If you photograph someone in color, it's a fashion shoot. If you photograph them in black and white, it's a picture of a soul." He credits a "famous photographer" for that quote. But no matter who said it, how those words ring true. His overall article was on simplifying your photos to make them stronger. But his most important point was if nothing else try a little black and white. Today I thought I'd share one of the photos from my new wall gallery in it's before and after state. I've always enjoyed the color version, but was blown away by the change to black and white. Before: Before I still love the color version. My little peanut is all rosy and pink and I love the sweet angle of my "first baby's" neck as he gives the peanut a little kiss. But I notice my eye is drawn to her little pink bow on her dress or to Gino's red collar. I notice the pattern of the chair, and her pink curtains, and my eye just jumps around a lot. After: After With the black and white, all I see is that sweet little kiss, a face full of innocence, and the world's gentlest dog. How I love this moment between two little souls.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lightning strikes twice!

Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! How lucky can one lady be in a month? I just found out that I won Rachel from P.S. I Quilt's giveaway celebrating the Quilt Shoppe's 2nd birthday. 2nd Birthday The peanut's 2nd birthday. Yeah, I'm cheesy like that. Thanks to these lovely ladies, I am now the proud owner of a $50 gift certificate and it is already burning a hole in my pocket! I have a little secret to share though. I've been busy gearing up for a big move from Blogger on over to a more permanent home at Typepad. To celebrate the big switch, I'm making plans for my very first giveaway. I've got some ideas on how I want to celebrate with you and this $50 gift card is really going to help that effort. So, my question is. . . What kind of giveaways are your favorites? If I were to share a special treat, what would you be most excited to win? Post a comment here for me and know that you'll be influencing my purchasing decisions for the next couple weeks. Best kind of living vicariously there is! Don't you love telling other people how to spend their money?? Then be sure to stay tuned for your chance to win it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tomato Trees

Oh the sad state of my tomato plants. The two cherry tomatoes bit the dust a couple weeks ago but my large tomato bush was holding on by a thin thread. I had to cut away the majority of the diseased and dying branches leaving just a sad looking tree where a nice full bushy plant should have been. Despite the miserable failure of growing tomato plants on the deck this year, my lone standing plant did bear a bit of fruit. Behold, my entire tomato harvest: Tomatoes These three tomatoes were the juiciest, sweetest, most delicious of their kind I've ever had. It was worth killing 3 plants to get these. Next year I'm hoping for a better survival rate. I guess we'll see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Up to no good

I've been busy this week. I'm up to no good. The problem is, I just can't show you what I'm up to. Yet. But I can tease a little bit. Just a really little bit. Up to no good So yes, I've been feeding you a little bit of filler lately. You'll know why soon enough. Expect more filler till then. But hopefully it will be pretty filler and you won't mind so very much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Strawberry scented memories

I recently requested storybook suggestions from my friends so I could expand the peanut's reading list. I've been overwhelmed with the response and have a wonderful list of titles to keep in my pocket for future library trips. But as I pored over the titles and filled in missing author names, one certain book popped out of nowhere into my mind after laying dormant for oh I don't know, 28 years?? One thing led to another and I find myself spending my afternoon digging up crazy images of things long forgotten from childhood days in my search to find it. Does anyone else remember this?: red strawberry Oh how I loved Strawberry Shortcake. Many of these were part of my own collection once upon a time. Childhood is a crazy thing. How is it that I haven't thought of this book in almost three decades and yet once I remembered it I can still clearly see some of the pictures in my mind? There's a copy available on Ebay right now and it's taking all my willpower not to order it. I think part of me worries the reality of the book won't live up to the memory in my head. I've never felt more pressure to expose the peanut to great books than now. "Impressionable" has a whole new meaning for me this afternoon. I wonder if Miss Shortcake still smells the same, too. . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giveaway Time!

Another chance at $50 in free fabric! This time it is Rachel from P.S. I Quilt giving away a certificate to the Quilt Shoppe. bdaybash The Quilt Shoppe is celebrating their 2nd birthday with 25% off your order. Imagine just how much further your $50 gift card could go with that kind of deal! They have Fig Tree's Mill House Inn in stock and I just might have to grab some precuts. I've had my eye on that line for months!! Unless you beat me to the punch and win the card instead. Darn you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I know summer's not over, but. . .

I went to my favorite quilt store (a big pilgrimage of an hour and a half away) with the purpose of picking up fabric to try another dress for the peanut. I got sidetracked like a moth to the flame with this: Moda Cotton Blossoms I'm thinking fall. Pumpkins. Turkey. Apple cider. And one very cute table runner. What are you thinking?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Are you a baker or a cook?

Quick quiz. . . You have 30 minutes to be in the kitchen, which would you prefer? A. Whipping up a batch of grandma's best cookies. B. Tossing in a bit of this or that to the tomato sauce and creating a new dish. My tools Your answer says volumes about you in your life outside the kitchen. My choice will almost always be A. I'm a baker, in the kitchen and out. Nothing soothes my soul more than following a recipe to the T knowing that my outcome will be nearly perfect after reading the instructions. Some of my dearest friends can't bake a batch of cookies to save their life. They prefer letting their creative flag fly as they raid the pantry for random ingredients to highlight that night's dish. I always enjoy eating dinner at their table. I've been known to cry in the face of my pantry. I look at shelf after shelf of ingredients and just get stumped unless I have a good cookbook within arm's reach to gently walk me through it. And so it is with my sewing. I love to follow patterns. There's enough room for flexibility in which fabric I choose and adding little embellishments. I love the comfort of knowing that my time will be well spent and my project will turn out. It wasn't until I sent a link to Betz Green's "Sewing Green" to Zina who only responded "I think you over estimate my ability to sew and follow directions. Love the concept of reusable material though." that I finally realized how my preferences in the kitchen carry over. Zina is a cook, through and through. So which are you? Baker or cook? I'd love to hear. . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie & Julia

I confess, I own Julia Child's masterpiece and yet I have never cooked a single recipe from it. Blasphemy, I'm sure. The quantities of butter and cream and wine and sugar just never seem to mesh with my nutritional needs at the time. Julia Child But my lack of first-hand knowledge of Julia did not keep me from running to the theater to see "Julie and Julia" when it hit the movie screens last weekend. For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, Amy Adams plays Julie Powell who decides to blog about a yearlong adventure of cooking her way through all 500+ recipes in Julia Child's tome. Interspersed with her tale is Meryl Streep brilliantly as Julia Child during the early years of her marriage and the development of her famous cookbook. If you're looking for a little inspiration on how to live life to the fullest, if you'd like a sweet romantic tale times two, and if you'd like to enjoy several wonderful chuckles, this is definitely the film for you. I think any bloggers out there especially will find plenty of entertaining bits, but really, do you need that much of an excuse to see Meryl and Stanley Tucci together on screen again?? I'm keeping my fingers crossed it hits DVD before next Valentine's Day. I think it will be just the right excuse to blow the dust off this book and finally cook my sweetie a Julia-inspired heart-stopping meal and we'll have our own home based "Dinner and a Movie" date. I can't think of a more perfect fit.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

5 minute wall gallery

I've had a few questions about how our final family wall gallery turned out. After much thought, I went with all black and white prints. They arrived over the weekend and within moments everything was filled and remounted on the wall. I love curling up on the couch at the end of the day with these in the room, they would definitely make my happy list today. Finished frames I've always been a sucker for black and white photography but have never displayed it in my home until now. More surprising is the fact that Tim loves it, too. Funny how such a small change has completely altered the feel of our home. Next up on my redecorating list is painting our bedroom. Stay tuned. . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm "It"!

Carrie from Ruffled Feathers has tagged me, which means it's my turn to show you six things that make me smile. Here are the official rules: Link back to the person who tagged you. List six little things that make you happy. Tag six bloggers and let them know they’re “it”. It would be easy to cheat and list 6 very obvious things that make me smile (my husband, the peanut, etc.) but I'm choosing to believe that the point of this "exercise" is to find 6 small things that bring me happiness to give you a tiny peek into the more frivolous corners of my mind. 1. Nailpolish color names: nailipolish I'm a sucker for the OPI color names in particular. In my next life I'd love to come back as an official namer of cosmetics in general. I still remember wearing "Rockapulco Red" on a trip to Vegas. 2. Audrey Hepburn in general, "Roman Holiday" in specific: Roman Holiday This is by far her best movie, in my opinion. I've never wanted to be a princess on the run more in my life. 3. Pink things that probably shouldn't be pink: pink In my little pile you see my wallet, a photo brag book, my GPS, my iPod, and a water bottle. I swear pink is not my favorite color but you'd never guess by this sample of my belongings. It's the GPS and iPod that really make me smile. There's just something so sweetly fantastic about a techie gadget in baby pink. I've always had this obsession, just ask my dad. I insisted he bring home a pink radio when I was about 12. It was my first tape deck and I had to have the pink one despite there being much more "advanced" models available for the same price. But they weren't pink. Enough said. 4. Traveling in general, Italy in specific: Tuscany Italy is the one place I could return to endlessly and be perfectly happy. Just digging through my albums to find this from our trip to Florence made me get that travel bug all over again. 5. Shabby chic mixed china: china Someday I will have enough time on my hands to endlessly scour flea markets for mix and match "shabby" china. I love the thought of filling my dishwasher with mismatched but coordinated items in one specific color palette. 6. Zina's Happy List: No image can do this one justice. Whenever we're having a really bad or stressful day, we drop everything for two minutes to draft a "Happy List" email to one another. The point is to be short and sweet and force yourself to think of something better than what you're going through. It's brought me hope on some very dark days. A tradition you definitely might want to consider with a good pal of your own.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A most perfect twirling uniform

I have wanted to try my hand at dressmaking ever since the peanut arrived. Until now, I've always been a little petrified of the curves naturally involved in such a project. The very thought of sleeves and necklines put me into a cold sweat. I took one look at Portobello Pixie's Claire dress and knew I had found the project worth trying out this adventure. Lucky lady that I am, I happened to win this pattern from a giveaway over at the Fat Quarter Shop. The timing and prize could not have been more perfect. I just managed to put the final touches on the dress this afternoon and we gave it a spin in the front yard: Summer dress I love the bow in the back and that sweet little apron. The skirt is so full and made perfect for twirling. Summer dress The peanut has referred to this as her "Pretty Princess Dress" and lit up the room when she was finally allowed to put it on. Now that I've finished my first dress, I can honestly say this was way easier than I ever imagined! I hit a few little stumbling blocks but managed to figure things out in the end. I can safely recommend this pattern for anyone out there interested in trying clothing that hasn't before. I'll be making other versions of this dress in the coming months, this was more of my "practice" model. Now I think I need to get my hands on the ruffle pants she offers, too! This was the perfect little mental break between quilting projects in my opinion. It was fast enough to not get me off schedule and has fantastic payoff. Can't wait to plan out another outfit soon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fabric stash: Fact or fiction?

My fabric buffet, originally uploaded by *jenny b allsorts.

One thing that continues to perplex me as I read through all my favorite quilting blogs is this infamous and somehow mysterious "stash" everyone is always talking about. I'll be the first to admit that I am a type A control freak in most areas of my life. Quilting appeals to me because of the symmetry of the patterns, the balance of colors, and the ability to have something beautiful come out of a distinct set of precise instructions.

Every project I've made so far was entered into with purpose. A specific color pattern was chosen, a design selected, and materials purchased thusly. The few scraps I have in my studio are remnants from previous projects. I definitely don't have enough scraps to create something fresh and new out of the leftovers, yet. I suppose that will change over time.

But blogger after blogger refers to the ever-growing stash of fabric in her collection. I'm stumped! Are you actually buying fabric for the sake of buying fabric with no purposeful intent?! If so, how do you decide what to collect? Do you stick to general color palettes? Do you have future projects in mind? How much yardage do you allow yourself to purchase of any given piece?

This is a completely unsettling train of thought for me. I'm imagining my next trip to my favorite quilting store. Aisle after aisle of cottony goodness. I have enough trouble narrowing down selections when I have a purpose, what on earth would I do with free reign?? I'd be worse than a kid in a candy shop. I'd have the fabric equivalent of the most horrendous gut ache of all time.

I'd love some feedback here. How would you describe your fabric shopping habits? I'm thinking I need to be going at this an entirely different way and would love a little hand holding. Teach me, oh wise ones.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reader or Rockstar?

Last week I mentioned I made Diary of a Quilter's diaper clutch from her handy tutorial. The other fantastic tutorial I've gleaned from her site is for an adorable peanut-sized messenger bag. With the very best of intentions, I sewed up a library book toting version for the peanut. Comes complete with its own library card pocket right on the front: Messenger Bag But as you can see, my peanut had other ideas of what to store within her tote bag. Seems it is just the right size to carry her new guitar: Guitar Bag Maybe we'll put the bookworm fantasies aside for today and play rockstar instead. Don't all musicians need coordinated tote bags for their instruments?!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wall galleries for the design impaired

I pour over design blogs, I love Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I watch HGTV when given the chance. Despite trying to absorb the numerous tips and tricks that these fantastic resources hold, I am practically inept at designing anything for my own home. I love how things look in the pictures, but I can never seem to execute it for myself. For the 3 years we've lived in our house I've been stumped as to how to decorate the space above our fireplace. Because of the layout of our house, it is the first thing you see as you come into our home. I've tried a handful of different arrangements of pictures but nothing felt right for the space. First we had art that was too small. Then I copied a Pottery Barn mantle but bought frames that were forever hanging off kilter. I've rotated countless decorative objects but it always felt cluttered and mismatched. This weekend I discovered the 5 Second Frame and I'm a total convert. I'm guessing that the design superstars reading this are shaking their heads in pity, but this could quite possibly be the best photo invention I've come across, ever. Fireplace Display Look at how perfectly straight they are hanging! Notice the nice even spaces between frames?! This would have been a nearly impossible feat for me without the awesome hanging templates these frames come with. I can't believe I'm devoting an entire blog post to picture frames but this has seriously been the deepest source of aggravation for me design-wise for so many years! I totally covet those wall galleries found in Pottery Barn catalogs and I was finally able to hang one single-handedly within minutes. Now the big question is which photos to put in the frames. I'm debating all color, all black and white, or some kind of mix. Knowing me, this is the step where I'll screw it up. If only I could find my own personal designer to follow me around. . .

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The siren song of stitching

There are other things I'm supposed to be doing right now but I just can't ignore the calling from this pile of fabric any longer. Dress Project I've washed it. I've ironed it. I've smoothed out all the nasty wrinkles. I assured myself it was just to save time later. Today is for cleaning. For cooking. For bill paying. Alas, that's just not going to happen. I'm worried for my family. Once I dig in to this project, there's no telling when I might surface. Please send pizza or they may starve tonight.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Free Fabric, a dream come true

Oh to win this one. Rachel from P.S. I Quilt is giving away a $50 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop. I can think of a million ways I'd spend that card, what would you do with it? You'll never know unless you enter. . . moda8giveaway

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Cat in the Hat does diaper duty

I'm finally making headway on my projects again. First up was this adorable diaper clutch for my friend Renee from book club. Renee's friend recently had a baby boy and outfitted the little guy's nursery in a Dr. Seuss theme. To make her gift more personal, Renee hunted down this awesome Seuss fabric to match the decor, isn't that sweet? Diaper Clutch I've made a couple of these clutches now, and they were an absolute cinch with help from the tutorial from Amy at Diary of a Quilter. She has a handful of tutorials that are so easy and completely addictive. I credit her with sparking my renewed interest in sewing this last spring. Finding her helpful step-by-step photo tutorials gave me the courage to try something other than quilting with my machine. Thanks, Amy!

Sharpening my ax

I've got so many things I want to show you, but I need to keep them under wraps for now. All I can say is that my to-do list is mounting and mounting and most of it is of the everyday household kind that's not any fun to write about. On the other hand, some of it is very fun like the projects behind this pile here: To Do Pile But I can't seem to get to this stash fast enough these days. This morning I found the most perfect quote on Twitter: "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my ax." - Abraham Lincoln Those words could not be more true for me today. I need to spend some time honing my skills and making plans before I cut into some of the fabric above. My husband's famous: "Measure twice, cut once." also comes to mind. Maybe it's just a good day for quotes. Or for ax sharpening. Or for popping open a Diet Coke and thinking about ax sharpening. Yeah, that's it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ode to Cherries

My husband's Uncle Tim owns a fantastic fruit orchard in Oregon. Every July, he generously disseminates a portion of his cherry harvest amongst the family far and wide. We were the lucky recipients of an extremely large offering of cherries a few days ago. Pictured here is just about half of the care package: Uncle Tim's cherries My Tim has such sweet memories of helping Uncle Tim during harvest season when he was a young boy. Those days eating the ripe fruit straight from the tree has left him one of the more discerning cherry tasters I've ever known. It becomes quite the challenge to use our bounty in a way that does justice to Tim's favorite fruit. I think this year I finally hit on the winner. After years of trial and error, I'm going out on a limb to say that this is likely the best Cherry Crisp recipe you will find. It comes from testing out recipes from dozens of recipe sites and gathering the bits and pieces we like the best from each. I'm dubbing it after our fabulous cherry benefactor: ------------- Uncle Tim's Cherry Crisp Ingredients: Filling: 6 cups fresh pitted Bing cherries, sliced in half 1 1/4 cup sugar 3 tbsp tapioca 1 tsp almond extract Topping: 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour 3/4 granulated sugar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1 cup oatmeal 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter healthy sprinkle cinnamon Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Toss to coat and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the topping ingredients in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Pour filling into a 9x13 pan and spread topping evenly over the cherries. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream. If you can get your hands on this, all the better. (And yes, it would be worth the shipping.) -------------- I think maybe once my crisp has cooled enough, we'll be enjoying our treat during a family picnic on the peanut's blanket. This last spring I snatched up some "Oh Cherry Oh" fabric from Moda and made a denim-backed blanket for her birthday gift. Today seems like the perfect occasion to serve up its inaugural meal. Oh Cherry Oh!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I won! I won!

Oh my gosh, I'm doing cartwheels over here. I just found out I won my very first giveaway through blogging and I can't contain my excitement! The Fat Quarter Shop's Jolly Jabber blog was giving away the Claire dress design pattern by Portobellopixie. I've had my eye on this particular pattern for a couple months but have been nervous about trying my first clothing project. Now there are no excuses!! I guess I'll just have to go fabric shopping for the peanut's new dress! Thanks everyone at FQS! Claire dress

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's not my kitchen, it's not my kitchen.

My sister is in the process of moving into her first house. It's a huge step for her to be taking on her own and I'm so impressed with the leap of faith it takes to buy your own home. I'm living a little vicariously through her as she redecorates the place to her own tastes. I love my own home, but the thought of that blank palette and not worrying about anyone else's preferences just sounds so liberating right now! Of course as the big sister, I can't help but chime in a little bit. Her kitchen is being gutted as I write this. If it were MY kitchen (which of course it isn't) I'd be going with the beautiful homey color palette from French General: I guess it was the post by Decor8 about Petite Details' French-inspired decor that inspired me. I'm in love with her creamy white dishes and those sweet red accents. I keep drooling over her Flickr photostream and wishing I had time to scour French flea markets for the kind of vintage finds she seems to have in abundance. But since my kitchen has no need for a redecorating project and the kitchen being gutted is not mine, guess I'll have to be content with maybe enjoying a croissant and a day dream. Alas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is she "Quilt Worthy"?

Zina and I have had many discussions about which events and types of people are the most "quilt worthy". We understand how much time and effort goes into making these gifts and want to be sure they find the right homes. Our general criteria include: - Will the quilt be put to use and not just stored as a keepsake in a closet? - Does the recipient appreciate something handmade vs. store bought? - Will the recipient be bombarded by other similar gifts or will this be something that stands out? My most recent gift quilt definitely went to a most quilt worthy home. How do I know? Because I recently received this as a thank you for my efforts: Quilt Worthy The blankie being put to use by a little peanut with a huge grin. I couldn't be happier with the outcome!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cutting cosmos

So veggies may not be my strong suit, but today's happy thought comes from my cutting garden experiment. I'm blown away by how my little seedlings have exploded in the last couple months: Wide shot of cutting garden - July I was finally able to cut my first real bouquet. The last round was only big enough for a bud vase, but these were tall enough for the real deal: Cutting Garden arrangement Maybe next year I'll skip the tomatoes and just clear a huge section for my cosmos. So much better for my soul than salsa.

My pathetic victory garden

At the outset of summer I was filled with grandiose ideas of being able to cook meals out of what I could grow on my deck. I was filled with hope, energy and a vow to grow some veggies and herbs and shop at the local farmer's market to fill in the rest. We have an utterly waterlogged yard, so I was limited to what would thrive in pots but that was no deterrent for me. I spent days at the local garden centers picking out a nice array of things to try. My jalapeno is finally growing and my only 2 red tomatoes: Veggies And then "summer" happened. Why is it that I forget EVERY DANG YEAR that summer in these parts consists of cooler-than-expected weather and long bouts of horribly rainy overcast days?! It's just not right I tell you. We're blasted with horrible winters, we should get some balancing out from June - August. Instead we are teased with the occasional traditional summer day, but in general this is just not prime veggie garden zoning in my opinion. Then this last week, my poor yellow spotted leaf garden got its final blow--the beetles descended. Thankfully they waited till I was able to harvest the last of the strawberries. The plant quickly made its departure from my deck and I'm keeping a watchful eye on what's left, which I'm sad to say isn't much. Just when I'm ready to toss in the towel, I stumbled across this totally inspiring couple who are living my dream. What gives me the most encouragement is they admit they've had their share of plant failures in their own victory garden. I love their directory of what has worked for them along with recipes to use their bounty. So maybe I just need to adjust my dream. I do have 2 tomatoes and a baby jalapeno, maybe I can make a tot-sized serving of salsa. That would at least be something.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gepetto's new look

Yesterday I was all about the big fancy store, today I'm looking at independent toy creators on Etsy for special items to add to our collection. We have a new found obsession with building towers in the living room, so blocks were first on my list. How adorable are the following sets? How will I ever choose?! My peanut has an extreme fondness for all things animal. I loved finding these fantastical ocean creatures in wooden form from You're Inspired: oceanblocks These eye-popping beauties from Lissa would be sure to create magical towers for future fairy princesses to live within: artblocks On a simpler scale, these adorable alphabet blocks would make such a cute toy or a room decoration if I had gone with the primary color scheme I originally had in mind. Lilly & Lou are even offering them for a discount right now, might want to jump on them before I do: alphablocks But at the end of the day, I think I'm probably going to have to keep it simple with a natural classic set like the one from Four Corners Toys. You just really can't go wrong with the all natural look and I love that it keeps things open for imagination: naturalblocks I'm still hunting for just the right doll stroller (we destroyed our first one with love) and a puzzle set. I would love to hear where you're finding great toy options lately, let me know in the comments!