Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012 Rewind

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was lovely. We had the extended family over for dinner on Christmas Eve (it's my favorite time, because that's when the nieces & nephews open their gifts- and Christmas really is more fun with little kids!)

Dessert is very important! The cake in the lower left corner is Pear Spice Cake, with Ginger Cream Sauce in the pitcher. Both recipes are in my Fruitful Hands book- it is a favorite of ours at Christmastime! Every time I make it... I can't believe how good it is :)

On Christmas day, we went to visit our daughter Samantha and her husband Jeff, who hosted their first Christmas gathering in their new apartment. Then we came home and relaxed and enjoyed some of our Christmas gifts (watched some DVD movies and read our newest books.)

The day after Christmas, we were out early- I had to get all of my wrapping paper at 50% off for next year! (I almost ran out this year- don't want that to happen next year!) I also had to visit the calendar store at the mall and get my calendars for half off, also. I have collected calendars for about 15 years because I love the artwork. I still like to pull out my piles of calendars from the 1990's on occasion just so I can enjoy a cup of tea and flip through them, admiring the artwork.

On the 26th, we also did something I had been looking forward to for a while- we went to see the new Les Miserables movie..... it did not disappoint! So many times during the movie I had goosebumps, and I cried at the end.... I have been a huge fan of the stage show and soundtrack for many years (in fact, my daughter and I will be going to see the stage production in Philadelphia next month.)

I love this story of redemption- how Jean Valjean, one of the most noble literary characters of all time, turns away from hate, bitterness and hopelessness because of the kindness and mercy shown to him by one man, the Bishop. He learns to love unselfishly while raising his adopted daughter, Cosette. It is an epic story with heroism & battles, friendship, love at first sight, unrequited love, and comic relief provided by the Innkeeper and his wife.....
(And, I have to say- If Hugh Jackman & Anne Hathaway do not win Oscars, I will be very grumpy!)

We have had fun just hanging out and relaxing this week.... the kids have been baking in the kitchen, trying out some new recipes from their new cookbooks.... things got silly....

We will be taking a little time off from the blog over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I will be putting up some "Throwback Posts," highlighting some of my favorite posts from the past that you might have missed.

To all of my wonderful readers & friends, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And for those of you who find this time of year difficult and sad, please know that I am sending (((hugs))) your way.....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:11-14

Wishing you Joy & Peace on this Christmas Day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

This Week's Ornament Tutorial : Fabric Scrap Rosettes

So it's Christmas Eve and you think you don't have time to make an ornament? Wrong! These are pretty quick.... And it's a great scrap project- You know those long skinny scraps left over after you trim the excess backing from your quilt? Perfect! Fat quarters are also perfect for this project. (Oh, and Jelly Rolls will work too, even though they're 2 1/2" wide instead of 3"). You can even use up your scraps of fusible webbing.

If there's no time to make them for Christmas, you could make them in any fabrics and hang them in your window, or attach to gifts as an embellishment. Make Blue & White ones to mimic snowflakes for January, or try Red & Pink fabrics for adorable Valentine's Day decorating.

You will need:
Scraps of fabric
Fusible Webbing
Needle and Thread
Thread or Cord for hanging

To make the ornament, cut 2 strips of fabric about 3 x 19".

Cut fusible webbing so that it is slightly smaller than fabric strip and fuse, according to manufacturer's directions, to WRONG SIDE of one fabric strip. (You can piece together scraps of the fusible webbing, as I did.)

Remove paper backing and fuse the other strip of fabric to the one with the fusible webbing, RIGHT SIDES OUT.

Trim the strip to 2 x 18".
Accordion fold the strip, pressing the creases with your fingers as you go. The creases will stay in the strip, so when the folded piece of fabric becomes too bulky to hold, you can release it and go on to the next section.

Run a needle and thread through all of the pleats except for the first and last ones. Pull thread so it is snug and tie the thread off.

Sew the edges together. Use matching thread (I used contrasting thread so you could see it better in the photo.)

Attach thread or cord to make a hanging loop.

To make the yo-yo for the center, cut a circle that is 4" in diameter. Make a running stitch all the way around, about 1/8" from the edge. (No need to turn the raw edge under, it will be hidden by the button.)

Pull thread to gather and tie off.

Sew a button to the yo-yo. Glue the yo-yo to the ornament.

If you would like a double-sided ornament, simply glue another yo-yo and button to the back.

Click here for PDF of this tutorial.

This is our third ornament tutorial for the month of December. If you would like to see previous tutorials, see below (click on title to see tutorial):

Patchwork Bird

Glittered Forest Friends

Friday, December 21, 2012

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Recipe

Christmas is so close, and there are still plenty of goodies in our house! These shortbread cookies were crispy, buttery, and delightful.... Guest blogger shares the recipe with us today...

Remember that time I fell really hard in love with cranberry and chocolate?  Well, the affair hasn't stopped, and now I've brought orange into the equation.  I mean, just take a look at these yummies.  These cookies include everything I dream about for the holiday season.  Except sugar plums. They remain dancing in my head.

The best part about these cookies is the fact that they are shortbread.  Shortbread, with all it's simplicity, is the perfect companion to any holiday gathering.  They don't steal the show like a cake, don't have a reputation of a pumpkin pie, but oh my are they magnificent with coffee or tea. When I did my study abroad in England, my favorite thing to do at night was to sit at the kitchen table with a cuppa tea and a package of shortbread cookies.

Here's what you'll need:
1 cup plus 2 tbs butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp orange extract
3/4 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Beat together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.  Add in flour, cornstarch and orange extract; mix until combined. Add in craisins, and mix into dough.  The dough will be a little dry and powdery.
2. Make dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Roll dough out onto a powdered surface.  The thickness of the dough should be about 1/4 inch. Cut out rounds or other simple shapes and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Wait until fully cool to top with chocolate.
4. Melt chocolate chips at 30 second increments in a glass bowl in microwave, stirring in between.  When fully melted, drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Makes about 36 cookies.


Happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New York City: Get Inspired

A few weeks ago, I jumped on the train and met up with my friend and fellow Henry Glass Fabrics designer Brenda Pinnick in New York City. What a fun day we had! NYC is full of inspiration and creative stimulation, but never so much as during the holiday season. The word for the day was COLOR! I hope you will be inspired too- I took lots of photos. (I took all of the photos with my phone, some are better than others...)

Here are some Turkish bowls found at a street fair (I wanted them all). Look at the colors- cheerful without being too bright. And the green in the upper right corner looks a lot like the Pantone Color of the Year for 2013- Emerald. We are already seeing this all over the stores, especially in accessories like handbags. You will be seeing more of it in the upcoming year:

Here is Brenda, "loving" the bolts at Mood Fabrics (the same one visited by contestants on Project Runway). Even though I didn't buy anything (I recently cleaned out my sewing room, I'm not ready to fill it up again...) there was certainly no shortage of inspiration. So many colors, so many fabrics, so little time... Of course you don't have to visit the Big Apple to be inspired- stroll around your local quilt shop, favorite gift shop or boutique-y clothing stores for lots of "eye candy". Look for trends as far as colors and themes.

Something I discovered at ABC Carpet is the trend of patchwork and over-dyed carpets. All I can say is, "WOW!!"

Old carpets are cut up and pieced together. (See, those quilting & sewing skills come in handy everywhere!) Sometimes, as shown below, the carpets are over-dyed and the colors are deeply saturated. The effect is truly stunning. My iPhone photos don't do justice to these works of art :)
Has anyone seen this done before? It was new to me. We saw a lot of turquoise, fuchsia/raspberry, and yellow.

Sometimes, entire carpets are over-dyed. We were told that this vibrant turquoise is the most popular color right now:

Here, over-dyed carpet has been used to cover large ottomans. Love it!

More color inspiration- stacks & stacks of hand made quilts. I believe these were made in India (notice more bits of Emerald Green, and last year's Color of the Year, Tangerine):

All of that shopping made us hungry! Brazilian Chivito Steak sandwich, served with ham, a fried egg, and herb French fries. It was delicious. When I bit into it, the egg yolk ran all over and it was so good (incredibly messy, but good):

Someplace I have been wanting to visit for a long time is Eataly, an Italian Market owned by famous television chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. Lots of inspiration here, too- to shop and cook and EAT. If you are ever in NYC, I recommend it, it's lots of fun just to walk around:

(Yes, that cheese IS $37.80 per pound- it must be really good...) 

The market is divided into sections: meat, fish, cheese, wine, etc. You can purchase food to take home, but there are also prepared foods that you can eat and enjoy there.

And finally, some NYC miscellany...
Giant Christmas tree at the train station:

And of course, a Miniature Pinscher wearing brand new shoes:

I hope you have enjoyed this "trip" to NYC with me!  There are lots of ways to charge your "creative batteries." It can be visiting a particular city, or a favorite shop. Or maybe the mountains or beach or hiking in the forest. Or maybe just sitting at Grandma's table eating her famous (fill in the blank)......

What is your favorite place to go to be inspired?


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