Complex quilt number two

Recently I finished the last of the quilts in the queue for a little one who was born to some dear friends in late December.  It took so long because I had so many quilts in the queue, but also because I bit off a little more than anticipated.  This is officially the second most complicated quilt I made. Which means it is quite fortuitous that it is going to live with the family who owns my number one most complicated quilt, the very first quilt I made!

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I picked out the Star Surround pattern by Melissa at Happy Quilting, because I knew it would be a challenge and a fun way to figure out some new piecing techniques.  Plus, I figured as a baby quilt it wouldn’t get too overwhelming.  Well, it was all of those things, but I enjoyed the process all the same.  It had to be put down and picked back up several times throughout the fall and winter, but the finished project was worth the wait (I think).
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I used a light pink for the background fabric along with some green and dark pink to match the nursery the new parents had set up.  I needed another color, and the yellow seemed like a nice compliment rather than yet another green.  I’m really glad I went with it because it contrasts the pink and green really well. The backing is a light green flannel that is soft for baby. I quilted it lightly and tied in just 4 places for some added interest.

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After dropping and picking up this one for the umpteenth time, I finally finished it up with a little label stating the baby’s name.  The parents love it, and I’m sure she will grow to love it soon, too.  It’s bigger, so she should be able to use it for a bit longer!

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Kale and pasta bake

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We found it...Alexandra Cooks
We made it…As written, with the campenelle and kale and splurging for fresh mozzarella.
We ate it…3/4 pound of pasta tends to yield 6 servings or 3 meals for the two of us.
We thought…This is cheesy, but not too cheesy.  It’s crunchy, but not too crunchy.  It’s different warmed up, but still delicious.  The exposed kale edges get a little like kale chips and you get your greens in.  It’s easier and faster with two people, but doable in a pinch with just one.

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Scarf weaving

Early fall Chris sent me an innocent text message with a picture.
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See, he thought I’d be tickled to see a loom for sale at the university surplus store.  My instant response was, ‘How much is it?’.  You see, I’ve been wanting to learn how to weave ever since my boss took up the hobby.  I’ve loved hearing about the process and then seeing and feeling the finished project.  Quilting will always be my first love, but I was eager to try this out, too.  Unfortunately the barrier to entry is quite high given that looms are expensive.  I’ll share the rest of the loom story in another post, but suffice it to say that we brought it home that very afternoon.

However, in order to weave, one has to actually learn how to use a loom.  My boss helped me along by sending me an incredibly helpful book.  But, I needed to see it to understand, too.  So, I signed up for lessons at a local yarn store and spent 3 weeks in December weaving a scarf of my very own.  I wanted an easy project so that I could make connections between what I’d read and what I was seeing.
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I used the store’s table loom which
makes it easier for instruction (obviously) and can be transported to and from the store.  I used a cotton/linen blend for the warp threads and a hand dyed cotton for the weft.  These yarn choices were very forgiving as I’m just now learning about tension and making sure I try to keep my selvedges straight. 
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The weave structure is a simple 2/2 balanced twill that switches directions to create a chevron like pattern.
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I LOVE this scarf.  And I learned a ton just by doing.  As with quilting, I already have a ton of future projects in the queue and I can’t wait to get going on them in my very own home.

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This is what 500 pieces looks like

It’s been a whirlwind of weddings and babies the last 6 months, and it has definitely kept my quilting in check. As of February 1st I was still behind a baby quilt for a baby that was born at the end of December. I’m putting the finishing touches on that one and will share soon. But today I want to share the latest adult quilt I completed in less than two weeks.

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This is what 500 2 1/2 inch pieces looks like just two weeks before you have to have a quilt done. I sewed them all into their squares one weekend. Thanks to catching a stomach bug, the top wasn’t completed until the following weekend. Along with basting, quilting a double line along the sashing and figuring out bias binding for rounded corners.

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I also threw in a pillow because that’s how I pictured it. And my visions sometimes get the best of me regardless of how impractical they are. I finished hand sewing the binding before going to Bingo the night before we left to head south and celebrate with the bride and groom.  I was so excited to have it finished to take along with me.

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The pattern is called granny squares and it has been the big blogging deal since it was posted by Blue Elephant Stitches. When I saw it, I knew it was the perfect one for my friend. I already had a few colors I knew she liked from when she was brave enough to venture into a fabric store with me last summer. In case you’re wondering, I do take notes. (c;

I found a fabric line that had those colors and fit the vintage, but not too vintage feel. I stuck with Modern Roses for all but the border because they played so well together.

I always try to make sure the quilt is perfect for my friends, but there’s always just a bit of doubt as I drop it on the gift table. This time my concerns were set aside when I saw the bride’s teal shoes (with her amazing vintage dress). Then the reception had lots of flowers and a vintage modern feel, and I breathed another sigh of relief.  Sometimes I just need confidence in knowing I know my people!

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The back was the only thing I wasn’t quite sure of.  I went with large scale flowers, which felt a little wrong to give as a joint gift to a husband and wife. Now, having met the husband, I think it’s very safe to assume he’ll be just fine with it. It was so great to put a face to a name that I’ve heard from my friend so many times in such a reverent and delighted way.  And I am so so happy to see my friend so happy. Putting these 500 perfect little pieces together was just the icing on the (beautiful) wedding cake.

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Adventures in the Buckeye state

We started the new year off right with some travel.  Because we hadn’t done that in a while (sarcasm).  But in all seriousness, we were super excited to travel for this one.  A friend of mine from grad school was married in November, and they had a delightful little party planned to celebrate the event during the first weekend of the new year.

The bride LOVES blue, and it happens to be the groom’s favorite color, too.  Prints weren’t preferred and symmetry was key for any sort of relaxation under this quilt.  Most importantly, the bride has some serious pride for her state.  She’s been transplanted from her beloved city, Cincinnati, for love, but her Buckeye blood runs deep (O-H—I-O deep in fact). I originally had planned a different quilt around these requirements, but when I came across the final pattern I knew I had to switch gears.

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I had toyed around with the idea of using the traditional quilt square of the Ohio star, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Any ideas I saw just kept look too country until it came to this one.  The large scale quilt turned out to be the perfect size for cuddling, too (72in x72in).  I made it very blue, with a simple geometric print (in blue of course) to spruce up the back.  I started the quilt a little bit late at just two weeks before the reception due to other projects, but it came together so quickly.  I put it in the washing machine at 8pm the day before we left and I was SO excited I would be able to wrap it up and deliver it in person.  I’m still a little antsy about mailing these things!

Well, we did get it there in time!  We flew into Indianapolis, had a fun evening in Bloomington and headed to Cincinnati for the main event.  We barely made it back to Bloomington on Sunday after hearing our flight had been cancelled due to a huge winter storm.  The storm was so huge it kept us stranded in the midwest for an extra 4 days!  I had two snow days for work and by that time I was a little sad that I had already gifted the quilt.  It would have been perfect to cuddle under.  Turns out the bride and groom thought so, too, given that they spent most of those days under it themselves!

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Black bean and hominy tacos

I think most of us can agree that tacos make a quick and delicious meal no matter what you put in them. These ones are no exception!
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We found it…Three Many Cooks
We made it…as written minus cloves since they make me sick.
We ate it…3 times/6 servings of two soft tacos each at least. We tried not to overstuff our tacos, so I ended up having to throw some away (sad).
We thought… It was plenty spicy with just one chipotle. The recipe mentions it’s pretty flexible and I’d agree. The sauce can be a base for any number of beans and veggies. It goes together quickly and is satisfying. We had ours with feta, but thought it could use some cabbage for crunch. Avocado would be delicious, too!

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A little quilt for a little man

My best friend from high school is preparing to welcome a little man into the world pretty soon.  That meant it was time for a little quilt.

Making this quilt was pretty special for me because I had made his parents a quilt for their wedding three and a half years ago when I started to get into quilting as a longer term hobby.  They use the quilt pretty much daily, so I’m excited for this one to get some use, too!

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It’s also special because it’s the first boy quilt I’ve ever made. The bed set mom and dad chose had a lot of colors, but I didn’t want it to be too busy. I chose this pattern from Michelle’s Romantic Tangle and made some slight modifications. I sized it up a bit and added mitered borders to allow more room for shrinkage.

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It came together very quickly, but, when the top was finished, it was missing something in the center. Chris had the idea to add a star, so I did my first bit of appliqué. 

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The back is a chevron flannel and it is minimally quilted making it super soft for baby.
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Remember the quilt for mom and dad I made over three years ago? It had been that long since I’d seen them! I was able to fix that by heading to Chicago for the shower to deliver the gift in person! That made this quilt extra special and I can’t wait to do it again to meet Little Man!

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Still eating…usually

Yes, we’ve been eating regularly, but it has taken a backseat to both quilting and traveling.  We were blessed to be able to spend time first with family and then celebrating the weddings of some lovely friends.  It was exhausting, but so worth it to be around people you just know.  I love seeing my friends happy, and it was so nice to see that in each case and be a part of that special day.

I also love giving gifts.  A quilt is a really special gift for me to give, and usually for people to get if I do it right.  I sometimes find myself up to the wire, but it’s always so worth it and I really do enjoy the overall process.

For this quilt, I chose the log cabin block pattern.  It’s one I had been wanting to try, and I liked that it was traditional.  The setting I chose was barn raising.  I liked that it gave the randomness of the blocks some cohesion, something the bride would definitely want out of a quilt.  It was also fitting because the wedding took place in a nature center built to look like an old fashioned red barn.

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I chose some dark and light shades of neutral in the hopes that it would blend in to any decor the bride and groom had for years to come.  I loved that I was able to use some traditional fabrics alongside some more modern ones.  The Dr. Seuss Lorax pieces were a special treat that I knew my friend would appreciate.

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The red was chosen not just because it is traditional for the log cabin block and represents the hearth of the home, but because it was their wedding color.  The backing is polka dots which are classic and always look nice.

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I cut one of the borders a little less than perfectly, but overall I’m very happy with the way this turned out.  It was my first time mitering the border corners and I LOVE the look of it for this pattern.

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Finally, measuring 61 x 74, it is a great size for cuddling under but wasn’t so big I had a hard time handling it to quilt it.  I quilted it very minimally and LOVE the softness it lends to the finished quilt.

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The quilt was very well received and even went on the mini honeymoon with the couple.  It’s a good thing it did, too, because it was there to catch the post-wedding-overwhelmed-with-love-and-relief wedding tears a lot of brides experience.

I loved designing, making and giving this quilt.  But what I loved most of all is the opportunity to witness friends so happy and share in such an awesome expression of love – for each other, and with family and friends.

The cats didn’t mind the quilting process so much either…

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Chipotle quinoa burgers

This is one of our somewhat homely ‘make do’ dinners, but it worked out well and tasty.

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We found it…Three Many Cooks
We made it…as written minus the salsa on top. Improvisation is hard in a poorly stocked kitchen and pantry!
We ate it…it made 11 good size burgers for us. We ate one each for dinner along with chips, salsa and some greens and found it hardy enough. Hardy enough to pass on any sort of bread or wrap. We had a leftover burger for brunch with an egg on top, which was very tasty. The rest are frozen, so we’ll see how they come out.
We thought…they were hardy and tasty. Chipotle can be spicy, so you might want to hold off on it depending on your tolerance. As the recipe specifies, I think you could flavor these up any number of ways.

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Making do in a move

We’ve moved to CO and are doing our best to settle in. We brought enough of our kitchen so that some simple dinners could keep happening in the month we’ll be waiting for our things.

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In true form, we found a way to have dinner in the dining room (who needs a table?) in front of the TV. We made Smitten Kitchen’s kidney bean curry and settled in to some Crossing Jordan.

The table situation has since improved when movers surprised us with a partial delivery (that included our bed, thank goodness).

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Pair an end table with some $5 thrift store office chairs (the towels hide the non removable grime) and it’s back to normal dinners at the White house.

sort of…

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