Friday, July 22, 2016

Kissing Baby Fish

Something fun and fresh for summer... Kissing Baby Fish!

This cute little quilt gets its name from the way the blocks look like little kissing fish!  It makes a GREAT scrap quilt!  With careful cutting, a 6" print square (plus solid white) will get one "kissing fish".

Get the free pattern HERE.  Craftsy has lots and lots of free patterns... holidays, seasons, special occasions, just for fun, and so so SO many more!  Check them all out HERE

A little info on this quilt:

Sizing / Finished Measurements:

  • Finished size: 40" x 51"


  • A total of 1 3/8 yards of brightly colored prints
  • 2 yards of solid white (such as Kona Cotton in White)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 1 3/4 yards for back
  • batting

If you make one, send us pictures!!  Hope you're having a wonderful summer!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I {love} July!

I love everything about July!  The significance of the fourth and  what it means to be an American in an unsettled and divisive world has an importance that we are reminded of every day through events happening both on the domestic and world stage.  I have been fortunate in that I have been able to travel to foreign countries and continents (all except Antarctica) without incident, proud to be an American but humbled and enriched by the cultures and peoples experienced during those travels.  But the red, white and blue will always bring love to my heart and tears to my eyes.

And color to my quilts!  Here are pics of a few of my favorites:

This year we stayed home over the fourth and barbecued for friends.  I marinated a tri-tip in my favorite mixture, found in a recipe printed in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago:  Pour ½ c.. each soy sauce, lime juice (it calls for fresh, but I buy it in a bottle because that’s about a kazillion limes) and bourbon whiskey into a large ziplock bag.  Add 2 T. freshly grated or shaved ginger, 1 T. currant jelly and 1 T. crushed dried red chili pepper.  Mix well and then add a 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 lb. tri tip roast.  Recipe calls for it to be refrigerated for 24 hours, but I usually leave it for about 48 before putting it on the grill.  That’s Dan’s job – it usually takes just about 40 minutes to get to medium rare on our gas grill set on medium heat, depending on the size of the roast.  He starts testing with an instant read thermometer at about 30 minutes and we’re looking for an internal temp of about 140 degrees.  Then he pulls it off the grill, tents it with foil and lets it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it thinly.

We also made barbecued chicken and a salad that I made with a Hello Fresh meal service delivery.  It had potatoes and green beans and basil.  Really yummy!  If you want the recipe, let me know and I can do a blog post on it.

Happy July!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Madcow Creationz -- Do You Know What That Stands For?

I didn't either... 

When I was teaching in Oklahoma City a few months ago, I stayed with my friends Mary and Phil Newton.  Phil is the brand manager for Amann-Mettler Group, the company that makes the wonderful Mettler threads that I use all the time, so he came into my class and did a presentation on the Mettler Me app for the iPhone.  This is a very cool app that you can download for free from the App Store!  It helps you keep track of your thread inventory, tells you where you can buy more and you can even take a picture of your fabric or quilt and try out different threads to see what color(s) will be best.  It’s such a cool app!  And Free!

Mary’s sister Martha Sheriff was with us for dinner most evenings and she brought me a surprise – a small fabric and vinyl bag with snaps at the top that is just perfect for hauling around things like spools of thread, seam ripper, Batt Snips, etc. – all those little things that seem to get lost when I travel.

My gift bag was full of chocolate – hooray!

Martha’s company is called Madcow Creationz and has a cute logo with a cow pic and the website address on it that’s sewn into each bag that she makes.  She asked me at dinner one night. “Do you know what Madcow stands for?”  Had to admit that I was clueless and she explained that she was part of a group of women who regularly get together with their daughters to make things on the weekends when everyone had a bit more free time.  So it stands for “Mothers And Daughters Crafting on Weekends”!  Is that the coolest thing?

You can see all their stuff on the website.   Martha also has bag patterns available on the Craftsy website that you can order if you’d like to make your own.  They're not up on her website yet, but she also has about 40 colors of snaps to coordinate with any fabric you’re thinking about making a bag from -- I love the red snaps and the foodie fabric that mine is made of!   The snaps are $4 for a set of 12 in one color.  Email her at to place an order.  Plus Martha gave us a special promo...  if you mention "Batt Scooters" in the email, you'll get free shipping!    

I’m leaving on another teaching trip pretty quick, so I’m going to go load it up!  And I won’t forget the chocolate!!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Flying Geese Two Ways

I'm still working on the Main Street pattern that I started at Cindy Needham's retreat in March. I had some time when I was in Salt Lake City to do a little sewing with my friend Josephine Keasler, so I worked on the (what seemed like) kazillion flying geese for Block B. The pattern directions used 2-1/2" squares and 2-1/2" X 4-1/2" rectangles to construct the flying geese.

Everybody is probably already familiar with this method: Draw the lines corner to corner on the squares, place a square on each end of the rectangle, stitch on the line, trim and press.

Unless you love to work with itty bitty pieces, chances are those extra little triangles that were just cut off are going to end up in the trash. Yes, you could sew them together and press them into miniature half square triangles, but will you really? I know I won't, so into the wastebasket they go.

My friend Dawna Harrison, owner of Bolts in the Bathtub, my fabulous local quilt shop in Lancaster CA, showed me a better way to cut and sew these so that I get many more flying geese from the same amount of fabric without wasting those bits.

The ruler I'm using for this is the Companion Ruler to the EZ Angle, but there are a lot of rulers out there with these same angles. You cut out one triangle and then rotate the ruler to match up with the cut side of the strip and cut the next one. You keep rotating the ruler back and forth until you have cut all of your triangles from the strip.

Now it is time to cut out the white pieces that would have been 2-1/2" squares. For this, I'm using the Easy Angle. I'm doing the same thing -- cutting a piece and rotating the ruler. To save some cutting time, I usually stack two or three strips together while I'm doing this step.

Then sew it up and I have my flying geese!

Okay, now let's look at the math:

Using the rectangle and squares method, I can cut 9 rectangles and 16 squares from each strip. That's enough for 8 flying geese with a rectangle left over, so I would just cut more white strips to make more squares.

Using Dawna's method, I can cut 14-15 of the larger triangles from each strip (mathematically, based on a 42" strip I thought I would get 14, but I got 15 out of the strips I was using from a Moda jelly roll) and 24-26 (I got 26) of the side pieces, enough to make at least 12 flying geese and, in my case, 13.

So lots more flying geese from the same amount of fabric -- enough to either make a really cool pieced backing for my quilt, add another border or use for another quilt. Just from cutting a different way!

Thanks, Dawna!!

And yet another way to do flying geese (and my absolute favorite way)  is with a little help from a laser!   There's also this way to do them which is pretty much the same, but just without help from the laser.

Any way you do it, flying geese are fun and beautiful. 

Happy stitching!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Free Motion Quilting Retreat

I'm so excited to teach at the Free Motion Quilting Retreat next month!!

New products, new techniques, and new friends!  Are you coming?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mermaid Hair!

Hair day seems to take forever -- it really does take all day! So I just bring a good book and enjoy the talented and creative people who enjoy working on someone who will let them do anything they want.

First, I go to Krista, who sews in some extensions to give my hair more fullness:

Then to Tina, who adds the color and does the cut.

The mermaid hair comment came from an adorable 10 year old, who said "Nana, you have mermaid hair! I liked it better when you had unicorn hair."

I said, "Unicorn hair???"

Lauren answered, "You know! When it was pink and yellow and sparkly?"

Ummm....maybe next month?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Craftsy's Biggest Sale of the Year!

Craftsy is having the best sale EVER this weekend. 

All classes (YES... EVERY SINGLE CLASS) on sale at 50% off. 

If you've ever wanted to take a Craftsy class, now is the time!!!!!!

Get the sale price through my affiliate link HERE!

Happy shopping!!!!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Best... Birthday... Ever.

Craftsy is turning 5!!!  Craftsy has been such a fun experience for me and I have loved every minute of my time with them!  They're having a big sale for their birthday...

Get 50% off most-loved Craftsy classes to celebrate their 5th Birthday!

Save today through my affiliate link HERE!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Plated -- a Home Delivered Meal Service

When Dan and I were visiting our friends John and Charlene in North Carolina a few weeks ago, they mentioned that their daughter was working with a company called Plated and had I heard of it. Well, I had! I recently read an article in one of the foodie magazines that compared Plated with a few other meal delivery services and I was, admittedly, curious about it. I'm an avid cook and this would be a new experience!

John & Charlene had been getting the Plated service for a while and liked it a lot; they offered me a couple of free meals to try can bet I took them up on that really quick! So I got on the website and chose three meals, each serving two people. What is nice about this is that you can change preferences as often as you want, from 2 meals to 3 and back again, for instance. You can skip weeks and you can add desserts! Yes!

They don't assume you own anything more than a couple of pots and pans, a knife, some olive oil, salt and pepper and water. Everything else is in the box!

The box arrived around 8pm on Friday; we'd already eaten dinner, so I took everything out of the compost-able recyclable packaging and stuck it in the refrigerator. According to the literature, it should stay fresh in the box for up to 24 hours and once refrigerated should last for the week. That gives you a little latitude as to when you choose to cook it. Everything is grouped together by the meal you are going to cook, so it's very easy to pull out just what you want when prep time comes.
We were really busy over the weekend, so I made the first meal on Sunday night, the Seafood Spaghetti with Spicy Tomato Sauce. There were crab claws, calamari and pollock, garlic, parsley, a Thai chile, fresh spaghetti, an anchovy filet, crushed red pepper, a can of crushed tomatoes and fresh grape tomatoes. It was delicious, but not as spicy as planned because I totally wussed out! I took a very tiny bite of that Thai chile, burned my mouth and only put in a little bit. I should have trusted them and just put it in! In spite of my mishap, it was very good and maybe my favorite of the three.
One thing that surprised me about the three meals is how generous the portions are; each of our meals could have served 3 easily (even though we ate it all anyway!) and probably 4 with the addition of a salad or another side dish. Also, each of the three dishes turned out looking just like the picture, which amazed me because presentation is so not my thing. I just want to get it on the plate and to the fork!!!

 I meant to take pictures during the preparation of the Seafood Spaghetti and the Chicken Marsala with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, but I got into the whole cooking thing and never picked up my camera until the end. By the time I thought to take a picture Monday night when I made the chicken, this was all that was left!

Next I made the Seared Steak with White Asparagus and Red Potatoes.

These were the three packages labeled for that dish. The meat and the asparagus were by themselves, but there were other things in the third package....

...including butter, white wine, a great big shallot and fresh thyme and chives. There were 12 ounces each New York strip steak and red potatoes and 6 ounces of those big stalks of white asparagus.

Started the potatoes boiling,

Then put the asparagus in a skillet with the butter, white wine, a couple of tablespoons of water and a little salt and pepper.

While they steamed, I thinly sliced the shallots, stripped the thyme leaves from their little stems and chopped the chives.

This is one beautiful steak! I seared it for 4 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil, then flipped it and added the shallots and thyme.

After 10 minutes, took the lid off the asparagus skillet and let the white wine and water evaporate away, then divided it between two dinner plates.

And this is what dinner looked like plated!

All three meals were delicious; I asked Dan tonight which was his favorite and he said he thought all three were excellent and didn't really have a favorite. If I had to rank them, I think I like the chicken best, seafood next best and the steak would be third, although that asparagus was pretty awesome. But that's only if I HAD to, all three of them really rocked. I'm skipping next week's delivery because I'll be in Oklahoma City and Idaho, but have already picked two meals for the following week. Meal selections change weekly and there are a six or seven to choose from, including vegetarian options, that are considered the "standard", which is $48 for two meals + $6 shipping or $72 for three meals with free shipping. And, as I stated, each meal will serve 3 or 4, at least at our house. There are also additional meals to choose from, such as the seafood spaghetti for which there is a slight upcharge.
The good news is that the food is very high quality and you can definitely tell that there is a chef behind each dish. The problem is that this could really spoil me for "normal" cooking -- I was reading a recipe today that had about twenty ingredients in it and found myself thinking "I wonder if I can get this from Plated!" It would be a whole lot easier! So I guess I was hooked from the first bite!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I'm Working on Now...

Couldn’t wait to start using some of the beautiful Mettler thread in my sewing room, so started a couple of new projects that I had fabric for (mostly):

First up is a black and white quilt -- I had a jelly roll composed of 20 black strips and 20 white strips that came in a recent Quilty Box as well as a black & white print jelly roll called B and W by Kim Schaefer for Andover Fabrics.  I sewed four patches from the black and white solids and made 5-1/2 bars from the dark and light prints.   All the components are made for a Strips and 4 Patch Quilt that I saw in a Missouri Star Quilt Company video on YouTube.  So that’s all ready to lay out, shuffle around and finish piecing.

For my piecing thread, I used 60 wt. Mettler Silk Finish 100% cotton in color #3000, an off-white.  I love piecing with 60 weight thread!  Because it is so fine, seams press flatter and because there is less thread in the seam, my seam allowances are much more accurate than when I use a standard sewing weight thread.

I also watched a video on a disappearing pinwheel block made with layer cakes, but when I tried to find it again I could only find a completely different block with the same name made out of jelly rolls – not what I wanted at all!  So I started going through my issues of BLOCK magazine from Missouri Star and found it in the very first issue that I ever bought.  It’s called Disappearing Pinwheel and I really like both the block and the border.

First, I made the pinwheels from two layer cakes sewn together around all the edges.  I used Poppy Celebration by Cynthia Coulter for Wilmington for the print layer cake; the solid is Kona cotton solids in Snow.  Then you cut the squares into triangles, press, and piece a pinwheel with them.

Then you cut the pinwheel block up, turn all the pieces around and sew them back together into this block!  This is really fun!

I’ve set up an assembly line system where I’ve got three or four blocks in various stages.  I sew all the parts, stack them up and take them to the ironing board.  Then I’ll press, do any cutting necessary, pile them back up on a small cutting mat and take it all to the machine.  It’s going pretty quick this way!  I’m piecing this one with the same thread manufacturer, type and weight.  Only the color is different; it’s #1531, more of a cream color.

I’ve made 11 blocks over the last couple of days in odd moments between email, packing for my next trip and other work stuff, so they go really fast!


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