Friday, February 26, 2010

Crazy for Yo-Yos!

This week I took a trip a few miles south of Charlotte to meet Aimee, the owner of Overall Quilter. Aimee, like most quilt shop owners, is very knowledgeable about the industry and was a big help to me when I was deciding which fabric company to work with.
Overall Quilter is a fun shop with an energetic vibe and some lovely projects and patterns.

Don't you love the circular, vertical quilt pictured above?

While there I picked up some Yo-Yo makers.

Together, my eleven-year-old and I whipped up several while we watched "Emma" on PBS. (The boys found other ways to entertain themselves as they were not enthusiastic about either activity.) Caitrin, if you are reading this, you are truly a YO-YO-MASTER!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My First Quilt

Today we were cleaning out linens and uncovered my first quilt.

It is a simple 9-patch class that I took at Keep Me in Stitches when we were living in Tampa, FL. (I had the idea that choosing a big, vibrant patterns would hide my lack of technical skill. I think it worked! And I still love bold patterns.) The binding makes me laugh. Coming from a needlework background I clearly didn't understand that binding stitches are not actually supposed to show - mine travel right over the top of the fabric.

I am a big believer in trying new things. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, either artistically or technically, we grow as individuals and so does our work. I have enjoyed parlaying many of the technical skills that I have picked up from others into my personal sewing and artwork, sometimes in ways that I least expect.

Many students come into classes a bit nervous and unsure of their skills; they are usually the most enthusiastic and excited when they take a risk and dive into a project. So, if there is a project or skill that you have been wanting to master jump in! Life is short and fabric forgiving.

In the years following this quilt's creation I took additional quilting classes, the majority of which were taught by the staff of Quilter's Gallery in Charlotte. Still unsure of my ability to piece, I decided to sign up a block-of-the-month project from Keepsake Quilting. It was more like a block-every-three-or-four-months for me. But I'll save that for another day...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cooking Up/In a Storm

Snowboarders get hungry.
This weekend we also baked... and baked... and baked.

We've discovered that, especially when you are dealing with gluten-free recipes, it is better to bake in large quantities and freeze. We've tinkered around with lots of gluten-free recipes in this house, but for Christmas we got a cookbook called "Baby-Cakes", written by the owner, Erin McKenna, of a gluten-free bakery in NYC that goes by the same name. This book is AMAZING! For any family out there that might have members with dietary restrictions I would highly recommend it. No... wait... I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of dietary restrictions. All the recipes we've tried so far have been fabulous - just as good, if not better, than the real thing, without all the processed ingredients. This weekend we made Red Velvet Cupcakes and Apple Cinnamon Muffins. Mmmmm.
We also made homemade applesauce. (Our kids - and my brother - love this and it is SOOO easy.)

Here's how you make it:
4 Granny Smith apples
4 Golden Delicious or Pink Lady Apples
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves

Peel and chop up apples into different sizes. Put into a Dutch oven with water. Cook over medium heat until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. cinnamon, and cloves.

While everything was cooking, we made heart bookmarks.

We got the idea from It is a fun craft for any holiday.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Charlotte 2010 Winter Olympics

Charlotte's mild climate doesn't usual afford us the opportunity to engage in winter sports, but this weekend was the exception. Friday night we were blessed with four inches of snow. Now, some of you from up North might (maybe rightly) consider those four inches something to scoff at, but here in Charlotte, a city of non-existent snow plows, the prospect of four inches causes many to make an emergency run to the store for bread and milk. (I'm not sure why bread and milk... it is just what we do.)

So, with boots on our feet and sleds in our hands, we walked over to the park on Saturday morning for our own version of the Winter Olympics. Our favorite sport?

Soon Eamon was zooming down the hill like a pro!

Caitrin concentrated on perfecting her technique.

It melted today, but it was fun while it lasted!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

5 yards, 5 fabrics, 5 projects!

After visiting Quilter's Loft a month ago and picking up one yard each of five different Valentine's themed fabrics by Moda, I resolved to use them (plus scrap batting and muslin) to make five different projects. Drumroll, please....

As you can see, our projects included a mantlepiece decoration, one large bag, one drawstring bag, a change purse, and a tiny gift bag.
First, we paper-pieced hearts and produced a Valentine's Day mantlepiece decoration. Paper piecing is a great technique to do with kids - it is easy because you sew right on a printed line! The results always look so professional, even for beginning sewers.

After playing around with these scrumptious fabrics, our daughter Caitrin, ever a fan of brown and pink combinations, decided she would like a bag. We decorated with flowers and ruffles and made each side a little different.

We also made a drawstring bag in two contrasting prints.
There were a few scraps left and I still needed a fifth project. What's a girl to do? "Omiyage" by Kumiko Sudo, came to the rescue. We made this tiny marble bag to complete our set of five. Now we are ready for Valentine's Day!

(I hope to have some of these projects available as patterns for future fabric releases... stay tuned.)
Have a great week, everyone!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Black, Red, and Blue

What is black, red, and blue all over?

(For those of you who missed my original post, I inadvertently chopped our son's Black Stretchy Thing - his favorite toy these past four years - with a rotary cutter.) Mary Jo's Cloth Store's mail order department came through in a pinch and delivered three half yard pieces of 60" lycra to our door. (Mary Jo's is a fabulous fabric store 10 miles outside of Charlotte in Gastonia, NC, with an enormous inventory and fantastic prices.)

3 half yard pieces of lycra = 9 Stretchy Things = 1 conscience cleared

For those of you out there with nine-ish year old boys, I highly recommend lycra strips for hours of entertainment. As far as the $/entertainment value ratio goes, they are hard to beat. I just might have to take up a new hobby!

Thanks Mary Jo's!

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Amanda Murphy Design

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