13 December, 2013
I cannot tell a lie. I am generally opposed to stuffies. Softies, stuffed animals, teddy bears, whatever you want to call them. I refuse to buy them for my own kids and you will never see me getting them as a gift for someone. To clarify, I am not opposed to the idea of them, or the making of them. But as a mother to three kids I am opposed to the idea of them in my house. And the thing I dread most when a new baby made their appearance in our place was not the sleepless nights or colic, it was the new crop of stuffies people felt the need to bring over.
It would be one thing if they had one special stuffie, like The Evil Genius and her Tiger. But we all know that it is impossible to predict what item will become the special thing, the IT. Tiger was a random hand off from family of friends who had it for some reason and will never have kids. Now that thing is loved on in ways that make you not want to touch it. There is not special person behind it, no outpouring of love. No, those are all in the stuffies that live in a box, never seeing the light of day.
That guy up there is Douglas. He is the first of three stuffies we've ever purchased for our children. Just writing that I am in shock that we bought that many. For the record, two were purchased by Hubby.
Douglas came to us when we were on our last trip before The Evil Genius was born. The Monster was at home with Grandma. Some adult only shopping can be dangerous when you are hormonal and you've never really left the kid before. But how could you resist that face? And then we found out his name was Douglas, which was my FIL's name. And he's Canadian. And well, he's damn cute.
I'm happy to say he is a loved one. Not every night in bed kind of loved, but loved for couch cuddles and make believe. He's sitting in my sewing room right now because his little antenna needs some attention. The Monster just came in here for a morning cuddle and instead of me she went straight for Douglas. It may just take a bit longer for Mama to fix him because I kind of like his company.
Douglas and many more awesome creatures are available from Monster Factory. Just in case you are lacking in stuffies.
09 December, 2013
No more TV in the room also means I have an unsightly mess on the wall from when the TV hung there. We have something on its way to hang on the wall, but with Christmas coming I felt the need to pretty it up a bit right now.
Armed with a coupon and my girls we hit the big box craft store for supplies. Lots of glitter, a canvas, some glue. That's it. If I already had the glitter this project would have cost us only $20. I stole a pencil from my Hubby and printed off letters in just the right size. A sharp pair of scissors cut them out just perfectly for me. I measured and laid out the letters, lightly traced around them with the pencil, filled them in one at a time with glue, and glitter bombed them.
This was a Mama only craft. Hubby was sick as a dog but he kept The Garbage Truck busy. The girls worked on their own craft. This was after a mini tantrum on my part about not needing a peanut gallery to do my own project. Did I mention there was glitter?
My glittering skills leave something to be desired, but the overall effect is what I wanted. And even though it is early for me to be decorating, I like knowing the mess on the wall is covered up. I pulled out all our Christmas and winter books so we can cozy up and wait for Santa.
Someone doesn't seem too impressed. What does he know? Or maybe he's just mad I put the glitter away with the one other thing we don't want the kids getting into - the booze?
01 December, 2013
Thank you for sharing the past Month of Sundays with me. I've quite enjoyed learning a bit more about each of you. And I'm very happy to discover so many tea drinkers amongst us! I put together a few giveaways and take aways from A Month of Sundays.
First, the take aways.
A Month of Sundays is truly a unique quilting book. And I appreciate all your comments about how you are enjoying reading it. Especially when you say you pick it up again and again. And as much as I LOVED writing the book, remember that you can sew from it too. There are all the quilt, of course, but there are also the 8 sewing projects. Projects that are perfect for gift giving season...
Oh yes, simple, sweet projects that will be perfect for teachers, moms, kids, families, hosts. A project that will be perfect for spending some quiet Sunday mornings together with your little ones. Projects for little adventures. Projects for sewing together and giving together. Projects for throwing a little celebration. So, even if you don't want to read the book, there is a lot there to keep you sewing.
I do hope you will be inspired not just to take back your weekends, but to sew.
When you do sew, please share your projects! Send me photos. Blog, share on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #slowdownandsew all the time.
Now, for the giveaways. I've got four.
A complete kit for Crossword. All the charms cut and ready for use.
This goes to: Sarah! That first Sunday she was doing this:
I loved your first book so I'm sure I will enjoy your second! I actually prefer when pattern books have stories as well. I went to church Sunday morning, and then got busy doing housework. Nothing special on, but a nice day at home.
This lovely bundle of tea party inspired fabric.
This goes to: Miggsie! These were her Sunday dinner comments:
Your brisket looks yummy! We have dinner together as a family almost every night, and the favored topics are sharing what each of us did that day, and sharing all the cool stories we each heard on NPR that day.
And two books!
These go to: Susan
For me? Coffee, please. Loved the photos of your fabric pulls. Just delightful eye candy.
And Quilter Kathy
I like all hot beverages, tea, coffee and hot chocolate in that order!
I will email all winners. In the event that I can't get a hold of someone I will draw a new winner.
Thank you so much for joining me for this A Month of Sundays. I am toasting you this morning with my cup of tea. Take back your weekend.
29 November, 2013
Let's just say that I graduated high school a long time ago. Back when Northern Exposure was about the most awesome TV show on the planet, followed closely by Twin Peaks. I have no idea where I found this sweatshirt back then, but I am so glad I did.
And yes, I still wear it. The flannel shirt too (It's even older - it was the early 90s, after all).
I have two seasons of the show on DVD and I wish I had them all (but with the original music). And iTunes doesn't have it, argh. If I had it then I could cozy up in my flannel and sweatshirt, cook up a moose meatloaf, and settle in for a long winter's watch. Or could someone at least record all of Chris' soliloquies and release it as a podcast?
26 November, 2013
No doubt about it, scraps get overwhelming at times. And other times the scraps are so inspiring and excited. This time it is the latter.
When I was working on A Month of Sundays all my scraps ended up together in one large messy pile. Then that pile moved to a bag. And that bag moved around and was shoved in different corners. I'm not sure why I felt the need to keep these all together, but I'm glad I did.
Ever so slowly I've been sewing together slabs from the scraps. It is like both my books are colliding into a beautiful mess. I'm in love! I didn't, however, want to just make slabs. I wanted to be a bit more creative, experiment a little.
At some point I read Denyse Schmidt's Modern Quilts Traditional Inspirations. Her interpretation of Shoeman's Puzzle struck me the most of all the quilts. Without a moment's hesitation I started turning my slabs into Shorman's Puzzle blocks. She uses templates, as she usually does. Because of the slabs and the proliferation of bias edges I chose a different route. My blocks are paper pieced. Each block has three seams, about one of the easiest paper pieced options ever. It was a smart choice as it is keeping the blocks in check.
Now, to find the time to make more. I've got more slabs sitting there waiting. When I teach a slab class this is the demo fabric I use. I just need a bit more time and some freezer paper patterns. I made the blocks 10'' square which means I can't print them. So freeze paper it is.
Aren't they fun?
24 November, 2013
It's a Brisket kind of day. Well, to me, most Sundays in the winter are Brisket kind of days. Dinner that I can put in the oven and forget about. We can go sledding, curl up with a book, or even get some quilting in and I have to do nothing but boil and mash potatoes close to dinner time. Then, when we sit down to eat, it feels like I put a good effort in because we have this rich, comforting dinner.
For those of you who may not know, A Month of Sundays includes recipes for a full Sunday dinner. It was really important to me to have the recipes in the book. For one, food is an important aspect of my life. I love to cook, I put myself through school, in part, by cooking, and working as a food writer is how my books came to be. Food and writing about food is just a fundamental part of me.
Secondly, I strongly believe in the power of the family meal. Sitting down together, whether it is over something as simple as bread and cheese or as big as the Sunday dinner is one of the best ways to be as a family. In our house dinners are loud, messy, and sometimes frustrating, but it is the moment when we all take a breath and just be. And we do that together. The girls open up about their day, The Garbage Truck opens his mouth and shovels it all in, my Husband and I decompress a little together. Whether it is wine or milk, we drink in the company and the conversations.
Finally, food, good food, is just damn good. And taking the time to make good food is always worth it. Even if it means a little less quilting time on the weekends.
Our dining room table sees all our dinners. It is where I wrote both books, where I quilted everything until this past year. It is even where all three of our kids spent the first six months of their lives sleeping. My life really is ruled from the Dining Room Empire.
I nearly put a Brisket recipe in the book. This is the one I make often, the one my family asks for. And if they don't ask for it there is often a little involuntary jump and clapping of hands when they realize what we're having. Usually after the smell hits them when they come in the door. It is dead easy. Brisket is a cut of meat that needs to be braised - cooked long and low in liquids. At the end of the afternoon it is fall apart tender and full of flavour. If you have any sauce left after dinner use it for Monday leftovers on pasta, meat optional.
Maple Cider Brisket
Serves 4-6 (depending on appetite)
1 large onion
1tbsp bacon drippings or oil
5 cloves garlic
2 1/2 - 3 pounds beef brisket
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup tomato sauce or 1 large tomato chopped
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 water or broth
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Cut the onion in half then slice into strips. Heat the bacon drippings or oil in a large oven proof pan with a tight fitting lid, like a braiser or a dutch oven. (If you don't have a pan that fits the bill, use what you have and transfer everything to a baking dish that you can cover with foil.) Cook the onions for 5-6 minutes until soft and slightly golden.
While the onions are cooking finely chop 3 cloves of garlic. Thinly slice the remaining two cloves. Cut slits all over the brisket and poke the garlic slices into them. Season the brisket well with salt and pepper. Set the brisket aside for the time being.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the onions are soft, stir in the chopped garlic, oregano, and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil.
Add the brisket to the sauce. Cover with the lid of the pan and place in the oven. Braise for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 275 degrees F and continue to braise for 4 hours.
Let the meat rest 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the sauce.
This is the last post for entering the giveaways which will come next week. Think books, fabric, and treats.
Tell us your favourite dinner conversation topics.
22 November, 2013
This past summer I took the kids to the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Glenbow Museum. Cool enough for them, but they were more interested in the glowing rocks in the Minerals room and the crafts they always have in the ARC Discovery Room. And when we discovered that one of the activities was these Spiral Draws from Klutz I could hardly blame them.
A kissing cousin to the original Spirograph, this drawing toy pretty much means hours of fun. Seriously, we can all sit and create and colour for a long time. It brings back so many childhood joys for me, and is creating them in the girls.
And just look what they did with them at the Museum! You totally change the look when you selectively colour. I so love this. And then there is the bigger installation. Volunteers took each image drawn and coloured, cut them out, and were pasting them together.
Must try this in fabric...
Oh, and another note. M.C. Escher? Absolutely, insanely, incredible. My only experience with Escher was the posters every 18 year old boy put on his dorm wall in my university. But to see the original prints, woodcuts, and linocuts in person was phenomenal. I had no idea that most of the work was actually a woodcut or lithograph. Completely impressive.