Monday, April 29, 2013

a quilt for picnicking

Late last week, I received a package of pretty fat eighths in the mail from the Coquette line by Chez Moi for Moda. I must have been in the zone with this project because 2 days later, the picnic quilt was finished. 

Backing up a bit, about 3 years ago, I made Soulemama's Beach Blanket to Go from Handmade Home. That blanket is loud, well-loved, and growing a bit too small to hold all of the children in our family who have grown so leggy. As I thought and planned what I might like the next picnic blanket to look like, I began thinking of pretty, summery fabrics that would bring a smile to my face. When I found the set of fat eighths in Coquette on etsy, they were exactly what I had in mind.

Of course, Soulemama's tutorial calls for strips of fabric in 12.25"x30", and I certainly wasn't going to get that from a fat eighth! I decided to cut each fat eighth at the 15.5" mark making the pieces 9"x15.5". I used a total of 28 different fat eighths, making the quilt 4 rectangles across by 7 rectangles down.  This made the total quilt top very close to the 60"x60" size that the original was.

On the same day I finished the quilt top, I decided to try my hand at thrifting for an appropriate backing.  I envisioned a woven cotton vintage bedspread as the backing for this quilt instead of the vintage sheet I used last time. Thrifting and I have a love/hate relationship.  I almost never find what I'm looking for, and rarely even find something I want.  This time however, I found exactly what I wanted at the first stop!  Well, actually it had a small hole that I had to work around and it's a bit faded in the middle, but who's quibbling.

I just have to share the bias tape that I found for this project as well.  I bought 6 packs of 3 yards each for less than $5 on etsy.  A great deal in my estimation made even better by the smile it brought to my face when I saw the 80s advertising and font.

With the leftover almost 4" by 9" scraps that I had after cutting each rectangle for the quilt, I made flags for this bunting that will likely grace our camping tables and shelters this summer.

Of course, just to add a wee bit of frustration into the mix, I ran completely out of canary yellow thread exactly 6 flags from the end of the bunting, on both the spool and the bobbin! So back to the fabric shop I will go for another spool for this negligible amount of sewing left to be finished.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

::right now::

::enjoying the new red picnic table::

::hunting for ways to keep the mice out of my tomato bed::

::planning for a picnic quilt::

::admiring the flowering chives::

::painting more of the lawn furniture::

::eating the abundant kale before it bolts::

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yarn Along

I have to say that over the last 2 weeks I haven't spent nearly as much time knitting as I've spent sewing (you can see the fruits of that here), but I am starting to get back to these socks that I started a couple of months ago.  They are scraps from other socks and a cowl that I made. I think they'll make nice cozy autumn socks for Finn.  To say we've been reading The Children of Noisy Village is an understatement.  My kids are obsessed with this audiobook!  We've had the chapter book for years, but the audiobook has been on constant play in my car for the last month or so.  We probably listen to the entire 2+ hour book every other day or so. (If you haven't read this, do yourself, and your children, a favor and fork over the $3.50 on

I also finished the little pixie cap from last week, and it's ready to be shipped out to a friend.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

big and little

About a month ago, I saw this super cute Michael Miller print on while I was looking for another print. I could not get over the cuteness, although I could not think of a single thing that I might need a retro camping fabric for. (I did think and think and try to come up with something though!)

Then, of course, about a week later while surfing Pinterest, I stumbled across this fabric basket tutorial and immediately thought of that cute camping fabric. Since I plan to use this little basket to carry camping snacks and other supplies, I wasn't crazy about the ricrac trim in the tutorial, but the rest of the basket is pretty true to the tutorial.

Once I finished the first basket, I thought this might be even more useful in a slightly bigger form.  I made the second basket with the same tutorial except that the side pieces for the bigger version are 16x18 and the straps are 2.5x14.

The straps on the first basket were made of scraps I just happened to have on hand that complemented nicely. 

For the second basket, I used the main fabric for the straps. Elizabeth thinks this guy looks weird, and of course, he turned up on the handle. (Actually, I think it's the short shorts that she finds offensive.)

I'm even more excited to go camping now that I have these cute little totes to carry supplies. There's nothing like cute fabric to get you in the mood!

PS. Since then, I've found a whole line of cute camping fabric, Glamping by Moda. Anyone know of another project that might use this blue Glamping fabric? ;)

Friday, April 19, 2013

{this moment} - all by himself

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

a little red table

Last year when we decided to buy and assemble a basic picnic table to sit beneath the maple by the garden, I pictured a cute little red picnic table at sunset with our children happily eating and dashing around to play in the yard. The picnic table sat just waiting for it's makeover through the heat of summer, the busyness of school starting and birthdays in the fall, and the cold of winter.  Finally, over this past weekend, I began the work of sanding and painting...and painting and painting. But now we have the cute little red picnic table I envisioned and a splash of color in the backyard. It's the little things sometimes that bring a smile to your face when you peek out the back window. A red picnic table is definitely my little thing. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yarn Along and a finished project

I'm joining Ginny for Yarn Along again today, and we're still reading The Magic Faraway Tree.  The story is so sweet and funny, a perfect mix of magical, silly, and 40s-era language that I just love. I just started a little hat for a friend.  I haven't gotten very far, and frankly, I've been in less of a knitting mood since the weather warmed.  I keep finding sewing projects that I want to start though!

Even though the lighting in here is horrible due to lack of windows, I wanted to get a few shots. This bathroom has been in sore need of a little makeover.  I had a gift card to Home Goods where I found this shower curtain, a few new ivory towels, and a espresso brown cotton rug to go in front of the sink.

What I couldn't find was a little bathmat that matched the curtain. I did find a little bath mat pattern at the Purl Bee that seemed like it would be a perfect fit in this little spot. I blindly picked colors from the new Knit Picks line of bulky weight pima cotton yarn and amazingly the colors matched almost exactly.

With the leftover yarn from the bathmat, I even made a matching hand towel (no pattern, just stockinette with a garter border). Spring seems all the nicer when you spruce up a few spots in the house.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

in the garden

After the blow of losing the homestead last week, the first thing I wanted to do was put my hands in some soil and get the gardens started. We're still keeping ourselves open to what might come along, but I'm aware that the right little homestead might be months or even years (although I hope not!) away. While we can do everything where we are (Mama, does this mean we can't get chickens this summer?!), we can grow some of our food. 

Elizabeth, who came home from school on Friday with a particularly itchy case of poison ivy, helped me weed the beds.  She discovered, and then abandoned the weeding, that some of our compost had sprouted into little peach seedlings. Of course she wanted to try to grow them into peach trees.  She took the 2 heartiest of the bunch and planted them in pots on our deck to see if we could grow them into little trees, maybe to be planted at a little homestead down the road. Here's hoping!

My chives from last summer seemed to overwinter fairly well in pots on the deck, despite being largely ignored for the last 6 months.  I harvested twice and that was the extent of any attention paid.  Now it has seed pods, which means I'll be replanting soon.

I did manage to get most of the rest of our herbs planted over the weekend.  I'm holding off on the oregano and second pot of cilantro until the weather is a bit warmer.  I've found that several plantings of cilantro works better for me since it bolts so quickly in the heat.  This way, I have more when salsa canning season comes around.

The kale is starting to go nuts after barely growing much over the winter.  I see green smoothies in our future!

The spinach is also nearing it's end as I'll need this spot for jalapeƱos in a few weeks. I did plant the bell pepper plants around the spinach.

We're trying a new system with the tomato plants this season.  The stakes and cages drive me crazy! Every summer I end up with a heap of tomato plants, cages and stakes uprooted. A huge mess! I even tried tying plants to multiple stakes last year.  It did NOT help. This year, we are planting tomatoes under a trellis, a trellis that has been staked into the ground and seems very sturdy.  I'm crossing my fingers!

Our heirloom tomato varieties this year are June Pink, Roma, Abraham Lincoln, and Yellow Pear.  It's my first time trying the June Pink and Yellow Pear.  They sound so pretty!

I know much of the country is still enduring a spring that thinks it's winter.  I'm very grateful for a warm spring this year.  Have you spent any time in the garden yet?

Monday, April 15, 2013


My excessive absence from this space over the last 4 weeks has not been by design.  Just life happening, I suppose.  Initially, I lacked time to write because of a wonderful surprise that dropped into our laps.  We stumbled upon a farmhouse, in foreclosure, that just screamed our names.  For about 3 weeks, we spruced, purged, and readied our current house, while putting an offer in and dreaming about life in this sweet little farmhouse.

Ultimately, the bank's agent dragged her feet getting the paperwork to us to sign to get the house under contract, another person made an offer, and we ended up losing out on this wonderful deal and lovely little homestead.  The entire situation was a bit crushing and more than a little difficult to write about before now.

Not being one to drag my feet in misery, I've already been working on some new projects, taking my mind off of the whole ordeal.  Hopefully I'll have some more posts up soon.  Ones with a bit less heaviness. :)

Onward and upward to a new week!

Monday, April 8, 2013

spring break

I'm not sure who came up with the term "spring break" because inevitable there isn't much break to be had when the kids are out of school, and we are either doing a project around the house or traveling. This past week was spring break for all of our children and so we chose the traveling route.  We flew out to IL for the better part of the week and were able to both visit Chicago and Paul's family in southern IL for several days.  This was our first family trip to Chicago, and while we didn't have much time, we tried to hit some of the highlights. Willis Tower, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago were the highlights.  There is so much more to see that we'll have to hit Chicago again sometime!

Upon leaving Chicago, the kids rode on an Amtrak train for the first time.  I really think this is such a family friendly way to travel.  Much more roomy and comfortable than plane travel, with the ability to stretch your legs more often than a car.  Win-win!

While in southern IL visiting Paul's family, they introduced us to the Lincoln Log Cabin area. Lincoln Log Cabin is a preserved 1840s site of Abraham Lincoln's parents' homestead with an adjoining homestead belonging to the Sargents set up so that you could see the difference in style from the same period. It's a working historical farm which means that the farming is done with the same processes and equipment as would have been used in the 1840s. What a fun excursion to see this nugget of history intact!

Alas, we are now returned and settled back into our school routine. Well, the morning was a bit rough as we are still feeling like it should be Central time. I'm sure they'll readjust in no time.