Tuesday, July 28, 2009


so after a week nursing a cold and a trip to Brooklyn, I'm back to the blog.

I arrived back from my trip to find a fabric swap package from Melissa - a lovely array of prints. Thanks, Melissa!
fabric swap

I needed to use up my giant box of blueberries, so I made some blueberry streusel muffins - this recipe. I found it years ago and it is a solid recipe.
blueberry streusel muffin

My folks are in town, so I made some coconut cookies at my mom's request. I used the same recipe as last time but in addition to the almond extract add, I also added an extra quarter cup of flour to make a slightly more cakey than crispy cookie. Either way is good.
coconut cookie

My parents also brought a very exciting present. Earlier, I posted about how much I like the Hungry monster from the Weight Watchers commercial, as it would be awesome to have a little orange friend lurking in my desk drawers to offer me pie.

So with encouragement from my dad, my mom made me my very own stuffed Hungry.
my hungry monster

She made up the pattern herself, very impressive. The fur is amazingly soft, not like the coarser fake fur you find at JoAnn Fabrics (I find myself petting and grooming it). And adorably perfect eyes. My mom suggested that he should be posed not on the couch, but lurking at the door as in the commercial...

hungry at the door

Monday, July 20, 2009

Charley Harper needlework update

So recently Purl Soho started selling needlepoint canvases based on the artwork of Charley Harper (an Ohio-based artist who did wildlife illustrations in a modern style). In the last few years, his art has become very popular, with new books and gifts based on his art. But through the 80s and 90s, Harper's work had some following as well, with a range of cross-stitch pattern books issued based on his work. As I've posted about before, you can find some needlepoint canvases here, here, and on ebay (pricey) and you can pick up copies of the cross-stitch pattern books on ebay and from embroidery book sellers on the web (not so pricey). They are labeled "Harper in Stitches" by C. Harper.

Faced with some insomnia one night, I put together a list of the patterns. One of these days I'll have to pick up a couple from ebay.

Sold under the label KD Artistry:
Book 1: Cool Cardinal (cardinal, two cardinals, raccoon) 1985
Book 2: Watermelon Moon (birds, bunny, raccoons in watermelon)
Book 3: KOALAkoala (seal, ladybugs, koala)
Book 4: Catnip (cat and bird, deer, birds)
Book 5: Pier Group (pelicans on dock) 1986
Book 6: Space for All Species (frog, owls, array of animals)
Book 7: Wood Duck (duck, fish, butterfly)
Book 8: Wrenovation (wren, bluebird, two birds)
Book 9: Pelican in a Downpour (pelican, sea birds, shells) 1987
Book 10: Bear in the Birches (bird, bear, beetles?)

Sold under the label Puckerbrush:
Book 13: Cornprone (cardinal, another bird, raccoons)
Book 14: Catbird Seat (cat, basset hound, basset with cat)
Book 15: Skimmerscape (pelican, skimmerscape, great white heron, Louisiana heron) 1992

Sold under the label Counted Collection:
Book 19: B-R-R-R-R-RDBATH (cardinal in a birdbath) 1996 Book 20: Birdwatcher (cat)
Book 21: Love from Above (giraffe)
Book 22: Devotion in the Ocean (otter) 1996
Book 23: B-R-R-R-R-RTHDAY (penguins)
Book 25: Cardinal Courtship (two cardinals)
Book 26: Lovey Dovey (two doves on telephone wire)
Book 27: The Christmas Caper (raccoons on chimney) 1998

You can also find some patterns sold individually or in kits, such as Cool Cardinal in Snow, Cardinals in Flight, Clair De Loon, Pelican in a Downpour, Racintosh, Sanderlings, Pier Group, Frog, and Gift Rapt.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

cookie of the week

This week's featured cookie is a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, or as they are known in the family vernacular, caffeine cookies. I would hazard to say they are my family's favorite cookie. My mom would sometimes make a double batch and stow the rest in the deep freeze where they would serve as a great temptation for surreptitious snacking. I still like them best frozen.

chocolate cookie with peanut butter and chocolate chips

the photo leaves something to be desired (shaky hands+kitchen fluorescents=crap pictures), but they are delicious. I ran out of Hershey's cocoa, so I had to use Ghirardelli cocoa for the rest. they are good either way. the primo cocoa doesn't make them better really, just a bit different, with a darker chocolate flavor. I'd like to claim the recipe as some sort of great family secret, but it is the one from the back of the peanut butter chip package. I made a double batch so I'd have enough to take some to my sister and keep some behind as freezer snacking stock.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Holly Hobbie totebag

My plan for the summer was to sew lots of clothing. But while I've bought several patterns and lots of fabric to make some skirts and shirts, I've not cut into anything yet. I think part of it is that I don't want to put in the work only to have something at the end of the day that looks very homemade. It's one thing to make a homemade looking quilt, but I don't want my outfits to look all Holly Hobbie homemade. I hear Tim Gunn's voice in my head, commenting on season 2 Project Runway contestant Angela's fleurchons and Jubilee Jumbles outfits, and asking gently, "don't you think that it looks a little Holly Hobbie?"

So I just finished a totebag, designed to not look so homemade. I have not had much success making bags for myself, but this one is definitely my new favorite.

my new tote bag

I made it from some gray and putty colored twill found at JoAnn's - I like the subtle grid texture. Some twill tape as an accent. No pattern - I made it up as I went.

my new tote bag

A pocket perfectly sized for my new toy - a mini laptop.

And can you see that fun fabric on the pockets? Here's a picture of the fabric.
holly hobbie fabric

So just the perfect amount of Holly Hobbie after all! Thanks to Aunt Linda for rescuing it from a garage sale, and thanks to my mom, for not keeping it for herself and dropping it in the mail to me! I love it.

green bean and tomato salad

Doesn't this look good?
green bean and tomato salad

I'd post the recipe, but I need to work with it a bit. The original recipe had way too much shallot. But I think it has potential...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fun fabric

I never liked unicorns, princesses, kittens, horses, Barbies, or the color pink growing up.

But I want to make a baby quilt based on this pink princess fabric from Michael Miller via
eQuilter anyway.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

art shopping

Lately I've been thinking I need more art for my walls, a situation partially remedied with some recent online shopping.

First, a wood cut print from Polka Donkey, the Etsy shop of S. Britt. I've been a fan of his illustration for a really long time and was delighted to find he has an Etsy shop.

art from Polka Donkey

I should get a proper mat for it eventually. I like it in part because it reminds me of Elmyra, one of my favorite cartoon characters when I was younger. Elmyra loves animals and all cute things, but lacking common sense and a concern for their wellbeing, smothers them to death with her affections.

Next, a painting from Helen Dardik of Orange You Lucky. I love her style and follow her blog regularly. I bought a gift bag at Target, and when I got home, thought it must be her design, and sure enough, it was. So I was delighted that she's started selling some of her paintings on Etsy. I would love to buy them all up (and I might). Plus the prices are so affordable for original paintings.
art from Orange You Lucky

And finally, a silkscreen from Small Stump. I've liked it for a while, but procrastinated getting it. When I saw it was on sale for only $15, I had to snatch it up. Such a good deal for such a large and detailed print (11x15)!
art from Small Stump

Let me also add that Kmart is so the best place for picture frames. When I need a frame, I usually look around locally at Hobby Lobby and Target and TJ Maxx. When I don't find anything, I take the half hour trip to Kmart and find exactly what I wanted at a very reasonable price. I really should just go to Kmart in the first place and save myself the time. All told, I think I probably ended up spending less than $100 to get three pieces of original (non-digital) art and three fine frames. Not bad at all, and I love them all.

cookie of the week

Here's my cookie of the week:

lemon cookie

I made lemon shortbread cookies with a lemon glaze, using one of Martha's recipes. I baked them ten minutes instead of the suggested 15-20 and think the consistency is just right. The flavor is good. Maybe not one for the recipe file, but tasty nonetheless.

more vintage fabric

vintage fabric from Wendy

Thanks to Wendy of Martha MacGyver for the delightful package of vintage fabric. Wendy stumbled upon a treasure trove of a garage sale full of old quilt blocks and vintage fabric (be sure to check out her blog to see her great finds) and offered to share the wealth. She thought of me when she came across the clown fabric. It's so wonderful to be thought of, but I did wonder how I got a reputation of liking clowns. I was prepared to argue that I'm not really into clowns, until I remembered my posts about clown fabric, circus fabric, and more circus fabric. And this new clown fabric is also absolutely delightful. Maybe I just don't like real clowns.

Thanks, Wendy!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A baby quilt of rectangles and squares

So I made a baby quilt.

In the giant wonderful stack of fabric Nanette sent, she included a charm pack of Japanese fabrics. I love cute Japanese fabrics, and I've never used a charm pack before, so I was inspired to try to do something fun with them. I ended up making up a design inspired by the Strips and Bricks quilt I saw on the Red Pepper Quilts blog.

Here's the result! (Not the best pictures, but the sun was not cooperating today. This one's at least a little easier to see than the one of the quilt in the direct evening sun.)

aqua and orange baby quilt

A close up of some of the fabrics - the cream colored ones are from Nanette (and some from Kim too!), and the blues and oranges are from my stash mostly - picked up a few solids to blend in. Normally I would go for bright versions of orange and turquoise with white accents, but I've been trying some to break out of my usual color habits. I think moving toward the darker teals with the rusty oranges and the creams turns out to be an even more appealing combination of colors.

detail of bricks baby quilt

The backing fabric is from Heather Ross. I bought it on clearance from equilter a while back, and the colors are a pretty good match for the front color scheme. A pieced binding, since I couldn't decide which color to use.

bricks baby quilt, back of quilt

cookie of the week

I made some cookies Thursday night.

Oatmeal coconut chocolate chip. Halfway through, I threw in some golden raisins.

oatmeal coconut raisin chocolate chip cookie

I used this recipe. It's probably not one I'll save but people seem to like them. The recommended bake time was 10-14 minutes, but the first pan of cookies was very crispy after ten minutes of baking, so I had to pitch them. I ended up dropping the temperature 25 degrees and baking for 9 minutes and future pans were fine.