Friday, September 30, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate.  What's not to love?  Okay, I know not everyone likes chocolate, and some only prefer milk chocolate.  I've been fond of ALL chocolate through the years, but since I had to quit eating dairy products a couple years ago, that put me squarely on the dark side. Which turns out not a bad place to be, after all.

I still have to read the ingredient list carefully.  Cocoa butter is fine (it's not moo-cow butter).  Milk and milk fat, not okay.  You'd be surprised how many dark chocolates contain milk fat (I initially typed fart instead of fat right there...oh, the irony).  So I can't just raid the Halloween candy.

This is my current favorite brand.  It's not available in my hometown, but I happily drive 70 miles round trip for this stuff.  

It's that good.

Sixty percent cocoa content is a bit on the sweet side for a dark chocolate, but it doesn't hurt my feelings.  Seventy or seventy-five percent would be better, but 80 percent and up just tastes like charcoal to me.  There's a fine line.

I'll have a square or two a day, so a bar lasts several days. Dark chocolate remains one of my only holdouts, as far as eschewing refined sugar, but I've heard it's good for you.  I know it's good for me! 

How about you?  Do you have a favorite kind of chocolate?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orange Crush

I'm still making scrappy little things.  I've probably made at least a half dozen more flimsies for mug rugs or small square minis since the last post.  A couple have been completely finished and gifted.

This one, I'm keeping.

It started with the little scrap of orange seahorses (how cute is that?) not much bigger than what you see here.  Then a riffle through the scrap box netted another small scrap of orange dots and a strip of burnt orange with black dots.

I felt like they belonged together.  Call me a matchmaker.

I just remembered something, looking at these pictures.  My first car was a 1976 Pontiac Ventura 2-door coupe that was burnt orange, with a little natural rust thrown in for effect.  Okay, a lot of rust.  It had a 350 V8 engine, so it really hauled.  Horrible on ice and snow, though.  The driver's side door was seized shut, so you had to get in and out on the passenger side and slide over the duct-taped front seat.  Cost me $600, and I had to borrow half the money from my mom, having just graduated from college and being broke.  

Oh, it was a gem.  I loved that car.

The solids are from stash, as is the backing fabric.  

Finished size is about 10 inches square.

Orange you glad it's fall?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scrap Happy Finishes

Even I need a sense of closure after the last post.  Whew!  I'm not saying my sewing room looks any better (in fact, it's worse), but here is a pictorial palate cleanser—my small and scrappy finishes for the week!  And in case you missed it, the first batch can be seen HERE.
I had this charming, lonely little mushroom scrap, only about a seam allowance bigger than it appears here.  Then I found a small scrap of the owl print in the goodie box and paired them together in this little 9.5-inch square mat.

I used the corners of the picture squares as reference points for random straight-line quilting, or what I call Nazca lines.
The back is a neutral leaf print.  I machine bound this one.
The cupcake print scrap was the sweet inspiration for this next mug rug.  I paired it with some Sherbet Pips scraps left over from the Pips in a Basket quilt.
The back is a scrap from this summer's kaleidoscope quilt-along quilt.

Next, I fished out a delightful scrap of Alexander Henry Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) fabric from the box.  Squee!

I just happened to have a bunch of triangles cut from marigold-colored fabric from an attempted second version of a kaleidoscope quilt.  They were the perfect size for corner blocks on this scrap.  Then I picked up a tiny snippet of hand-dyed red-orange and set that into a black and white outer strip.

This one needs to be quilted and finished yet.  It may be my favorite of the whole lot so far!

I had to trim a little bit off the bottom of the above, which then became another slightly bigger than postcard sized piece.  

I also strip-pieced a back for it.  It needs quilting and finishing yet too.

Finally, there were some trimmed-off sections from a previous project in the goodie box of scraps.  I found enough of them and enough matching bits (1974 by Urban Chiks for Moda, according to the selvage) to make this little mini.

There remain some glimpses of selvage in the teal blue parts (tiny perforations), but I think it adds to the charm, if they're even noticeable at all.

Here is the back.  It's hard to say which side I like best on this one.  I free-motioned quilted a little meander and sewed the binding on by hand.

And that's it from my scrap happy corner of far...  

To see more lovely finishes, click the button and following the links!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Scraps

Scraps, wonderful scraps!  It's my Favourite Thing this week, and pretty much any other week of the year too.

(Caution:  Potentially disturbing images of disorganization follow.  Viewer discretion advised.  Sensitive persons may wish to pop a Xanax or pour a glass of wine.)

Under this pile is a vintage sewing table...somewhere.
New fabric is great, but I have a confession to make.  I look forward to the end of any project made with new fabric yardage just so I can have fun with the scraps.  You too?
So colorful and interesting!
There is a sort of liberation with scraps.  You have to use your noggin a bit to make it work.  You don't have to do matchy-matchy, unless you want to.  Not that there's anything wrong with coordination, but personally, I've grown comfortable with a certain degree of uncoordination.
A small pile to the left of my cutting mat.
Scraps offer so many possibilities.  Using the bits and bobs you have on hand can net you something very unique and interesting (and fugly happens too, let's be honest). 
To the right of the cutting mat, and keeping the Juki from getting lonesome.
I think the appeal of scraps plays right into my appreciation for people who make something from nothing.  Recycle, upcycle, turn trash to treasure, whatever you want to call it.  We throw so much away that still has value to someone somewhere.
To the right of the Singer, more black and white scraps.
But I'm not denying the urge to purge.  We all go through cycles of accumulating and getting rid of things.  Circle of life and commerce and all that.
Currently hogging space on my ironing board.
An attempt to organize by color on the floor (FAIL).
What's cool is when you share your scraps with willing quilty friends, like Jenny did when she packed (and I mean PACKED) a Priority Mail box and sent it my way.
This is after at least half of the scraps had been removed.  Still packed!
Scraps on top of scrap drawers (which are full of more scraps).
It was like scoring the jumbo pack of Crayolas with the built-in sharpener!  So many colors!  Patterns!  Potential!
A peek at one of the things I made from scraps this week.
And another peek at something else.
In fact, I'm reminded of my childhood love of coloring with crayons, because that's exactly what it's felt like to play with these.  Time disappears.  I'm in my happy place.  Likely to forget appointments, meals, and basic hygiene. 

To be sure, playtime with scraps will come to an end all too soon.  Work will get busier.  I'll feel the effects of neglect in other areas of life.  The phase of the moon will change and I'll get a wild hair to clean up all the clutter.  Or I may even decide to quilt a flimsy or two (gasp!).

Still, there's no doubt about it.  Scraps kick ass.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun with Scraps

Ladies and gents, my sewing space is a real mess.  I'm working with scraps, which begets more scraps as I pull other fabric to coordinate with the pieces already lying about.  But, as we all know, there is a time to be concerned with the mess and a time to just let the bits fall where they may.  This is not the former.  

In fact, I think the mess sort of acts as tinder for the creative fire.

I bought some candles on Friday at Kohl's at 50% off plus a discount coupon I'd gotten in the mail.  Good gracious, they smell divine. 

Their fall scents and colors inspired me to make some candle mats / potholders / mug rugs / mini quilts.  However you want to describe it.

I started by picking up some of the black and white quilt scraps piled to the right of my machine, as well as a couple triangular snippets of hand-dyed fabric from last week's pillow project, and just started sewing these to a muslin foundation.

I had a bit of Insul-Bright batting left over, so this first one became a potholder or hot pad.  At least that was the original idea.

Simple straight-line quilting, mostly because I didn't want to change machines, just keep the flow going.

I used a 10-inch square of black and white Heath by Alexander Henry for the backing. 

Norm really liked this one, saying, "You should frame it."  To which I replied, "It's a potholder."

Next, I dug through the box of scraps Jenny sent me earlier this year.  That always feels like Christmas morning, rummaging through a box of unexpected treasures.

Once again, it was foundation pieced on muslin, but this time I just used a flannel scrap for the batting.  Parallel diagonal lines for the quilting.

Today, I made one in a rectangle shape to coordinate with one of the candles I bought.  The aroma of this candle is so calming.  It's called Oakwood and Teak

I used more scraps from the goodie box.  I just kept pulling out pretty strips and putting them together.  It ended up a very subdued color palette, which goes well with the candle, I think.  

I'm using a piece of vintage Russel Wright Iroquois dinnerware as the candle holder.  It's one of a couple odd bowls I found at a flea market last year.   

This works well as a mug rug too.

So I'm having fun playing with scraps.  These little things are addictive to make and quick to finish for that shot of immediate gratification. 

What are you up to this week so far?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 43

We hit the thrifts on Saturday.  I hadn't been thrift shopping much lately, but it was a beautiful day for a drive and I had a pocketful of cash.  That healthcare flexible spending account comes in handy.

I found a large Pyrex casserole.  The 1970s wasn't my favorite period for Pyrex, but that warm butterscotch color just seemed right to me.

A few hanks of vintage fabric found their way home with me too.  I'm crushing on that green one in particular.

There was a Royal Haeger tall vase that caught my eye.  

It's just waiting for a colorful bouquet or some fall foliage.

And I came upon a couple of dove gray Woodfield snack sets by Steubenville Pottery.  These were popular in the 1940s-50s.  

Steubenville closed in 1959, I believe.

I also snagged a large serving bowl in the salmon color.  This will have some McIntosh apples in it soon.

A Hall au gratin baking dish.  Hard to tell from the photo, but it's a pretty, dark amber color.  I already have a couple like this, one gray, one green.  They're nice for individual baked casseroles.  I think they're still making this kind of restaurant ware.

But that green and white crocheted piece it's sitting on?  That brings us to our what the heck? moment of the day. 

See what I mean? 

It' boy?

Grandma was apparently busy hooking something while Gramps was out fishing with the boys.  A gadget cozy?  A rocket warmer?  A dingaling doily? 

I dunno, you tell me.  Whatever it is, it's worth the buck I paid in entertainment value alone!