Monday, December 10, 2012

Tea time.

The N-boy and I have a tea problem. We drink it pretty much every night, especially when it's cold outside. The problem isn't the tea drinking, but more of the chaos of our tea cupboard (yes we have a whole shelf dedicated to tea and hot chocolate. I think the moment of truth came with the N-boy opened the door and boxes fell on his head.

His solution to the problem was to toss some stuff that was REALLY old and to put a moratorium on buying more tea until we reduce the stash. My solution was to take some of it to work to drink there, since I need to stop drinking so much Starbucks. And because I'm not a fan of the tea in Keurig in the office kitchen. And so we can then buy more tea.

I think this little guy appeared in my stocking last year. Under the duck is a mesh tea strainer, and then it sits in the little blue cup when your tea has steeped.

It's super cute. And I get a kick out of back from the kitchen with a duck floating in my cup. And I'm drinking yummy tea instead of Starbucks. Ok well there's still been some Starbucks. But it's a start, yes? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Festiveness.

As mentioned previously, this was Christmas decorating weekend in our household. Really, everything on Sunday was part of the "get Laura more into the Christmas spirit" movement. Some progress was made, but the 65 degree weather is definitely not helping me feel very Christmassy. 

A view of the Christmas tree and the marriage tree. We receive this sculpture for our wedding and it was possibly our favorite gift ever. We tend to decorate it with simple decorations for each holiday or season.

This poor little guy was in the box of ornaments. I think the rest of the ornament was originally a spaceship. But it's ok, Marvin's head is on the tree. The N-boy seemed to find this creepy but acquiesced to the inclusion of Marvin. Or at least Marvin's head. 

The brother-in-law and sister-in-law-in-law got these super awesome Christmas Carol rubber duckies for me a couple of years ago. The N-boy set them up on top of the TV (we'll see how long that lasts with the cats) and didn't even realize that Scrooge duck is facing the opposite way as all the others. But really it seems appropriate so we've left it as is.

Our friends gave me this drink container last year and had it filled with Christmas ornaments. I loved the idea so we decided to repeat it for this year's festivities. 

We've got a couple of other decorations up, but nothing too crazy. I have a bag full of obnoxious red bows that I'll probably hang up around the house over the course of the week as the mood strikes me. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekend Recap.

Craft show, with the N-boy in tow. He's such a good sport. 

I finished the test of a revised pattern for a heart shaped bowl (I really want to call this pattern "Heart Shaped Box" but i'm also pretty sure that the Momcat wouldn't get the reference. Daddo would, however, so maybe it's worth a shot?) Let's just say that this pattern is without a doubt my arch nemesis. This is my THIRD attempt at making this blankity blank heart bowl and I finally got it to work. The pattern is significantly more complicated than the other shapes I've worked on, and the pattern needed some serious tweaking for us more novice crafters. At last, however, victory is mine! 

The N-boy purchased Russian food from a somewhat questionable van in a definitely questionable car repair shop. However, the then turned said purchase into these Сырники (sirniki). Basically pan fried farmer's cheese with jelly on top. Yum. Sketchy groceries for the win. 

We decorated for Christmas. More on that later-Christmas decorations definitely deserve a post unto themselves in my book. Let's just say that one of my new goals in life is to have an ENTIRE tree decorated only with flamingo ornaments. Yes, I'm serious. I do have flamingo Christmas lights already in my office, so I'm well on my way. The N-boy was less than impressed by this life goal.  

We escaped the football games on TV and went to a coffee shop to work for a while. The N-boy worked on his dissertation (ok well I assume he was working on his dissertation. Sometimes I don't ask too many questions because then he wafts poetic about cholera in provincial Russia while I'm trying to consume a tasty beverage). Is it weird that I think the foam on cappuccinos taste like the crispy part on a perfectly toasted marshmallow?  Pretty sure that must be a weird thing. 

 And that was our weekend!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy December.

Oh December. I'm pretty happy you're here. For the most part. Not that part that realized I turned 30 in exactly 70 days. But since I am a huge fan of Christmas cookies and eggnog, we'll give that a pass for the moment.

Today was a busy day with my one and only craft fair for the season. It wasn't great. Luckly the N-boy came along with me and we talked a lot about what kind of venue (if any) is right for the kind of thing that the Momcat and I are focusing on. Don't worry, Momcat, lots of notes and ideas to discuss with you!

Of course, I did put him to work. You don't just get to sit at my pretty table without hauling boxes and praising my wares to strangers. (Somehow that sounds indecent...I swear it wasn't).

I did let him out for a short break where he ventured out to find the super secret Russian market that appears in Elkhart one Saturday a month. In the bay of a car repair shop. By people who drive a van full of Russian food from New Jersey to Indiana. The sketchiness of this adventure was possibly the highlight of his week.

The N-boy returned with some of his favorite Russian foods including these yummy desserts which are similar to cheesecake bites. And are amazing. I LOVED these when I lived in Russia and was super pumped to eat one.

On the way back from a rather long day we hit the grocery store before returning to the house where we promptly crashed on fluffy furniture. Chinese comfort food take out for dinner, and then the N-boy fell asleep on the couch with CatCat.

I thought this picture was hilarious, but apparently the whole time he was sleeping (or trying to sleep) it was an epic battle with the cat about who got to occupy more space on the couch. CatCat has a tendency to win these battles with her pointy claws.

Tomorrow we're planning on decorating the house for Christmas. I haven't been feeling very festive, so I'm hoping that a day full of festivity-however forced-will help get me into the holiday spirit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Travelling PicStitch Bloghop

I can't believe it's already the end of November and my turn to post for the Travelling PicStitch Bloghop! I actually had quite a bit of trouble choosing a picture for this project as I tend to have more pictures of people than landscapes. After auditioning several pictures (including a lovely double portrait of me and a goat at the petting zoo) I came across this picture of Daddo and BabyBrother that the Momcat took on a trip they took out west a couple of years ago. I'm pretty sure this picture is from their time in Rocky Mountain National Park.

As I mentioned in my sneak peek post last week, I decided to stick with my favorite English Paper Piecing pattern of Grandmother's Flower Garden. I used 3/4" hexagons from Paper Pieces, which is where I get all of my papers for English Paper Piecing. 

I used two different Stonehenge charm packs for the flower petals and red and white for the centers. I'm not sure how I'll put them all together. I laid them all out together but I'm not sure if it's too much and might not be better with a row of white between each flower. 

I have plenty of pieces left so I'll be able to figure it out-now to just find the time to sew some more flowers! 

This post is part of the Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop.  From 1st October - 30th November we are hopping all over the world EPP-ing in some fantastic locations.  Check out the full list here and be sure to check out the other participants.

On 30th November it's over to you to link up for a chance to win these fabulous prizes!

Sponsored by Paperpieces.comFabricwormPink Castle Fabrics  Marmalade Fabrics, the Fat Quarter ShopWantItNeedItQuilt, and Aurifil.

Full details for competition entry can be found here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sneak Peek-Travelling PicStitch Bloghop

I'm super excited to be participating in my very first blog hop this month! Quokka Quilts has put together two month extravaganza event of blogs using English Paper Piecing to create blocks inspired by photographs. Details are on her Travelling PicStitch Bloghop page, including links to all of the blog participants and discounts from sponsors who specialize in English Paper Piecing supplies.

My day to host the bloghop isn't until November 27, but here's a sneak peek of what I've been working on this month. I can't wait to show the final project!

I'm pretty sure no one will be surprised to see I'm using hexagons. Is there a more perfect English Paper Piecing shape?

Have you ever participated in a bloghop? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend fun and games.

The N-boy and I had a pretty quiet weekend, following a rather stressful end to the work week.  I love working with students, but sometimes it can be hard. 

Saturday we saw Skyfall, drank a lot of coffee, and watched college football. Let's just throw in a Go Irish! for good luck here. I cannot believe that they're undefeated and ranked number 1. It's absolute craziness.

On Sunday we took pictures of the N-boy with the awesome steel frame bike he received from Grandpa for his birthday. This bike had been hanging in Grandpa's garage for years. He moved into an independent living facility this summer, and the Momcat found the bike when she was helping to clean out the house. N-boy loves his newest bike (this would be bike number four for those keeping count at home), and we wanted to let Grandpa know that.

I also worked on some English paper piecing for a project (more on that project coming Wednesday!)

And we baked sourdough rolls to take to Thanksgiving. Don't worry; we checked and made sure they weren't poisonous before we packed them up. ;)

Our biggest adventure of the weekend was the eviction of an opossum who had taken up residence in the garage. I'd heard something rustling around in the garage earlier this week and had actually called the N-boy on my phone from the garage to come take a look. We couldn't find anything then, but the next day something had gotten into the birdseed and made a mess. The N-boy thought it was just a squirrel or a chipmunk so he blocked the crack under the side door and cleaned up the bird seed. Then today he went out to rake leaves and when he grabbed the big canvas leaf bag found Mr. Possum inside hissing irritably at having been disturbed from his slumber. 

Animal removal is definitely not thing we learned in grad school. We called my parents to see if they had any suggestions (their ideas were leaving the door open so he'd come out, calling animal patrol and something involving dry ice-I didn't ask for details on this last one). Finally we just used a long pole to loop through the bag handles and pull the whole thing outside, shutting the garage door behind it. We went inside to give the poor little guy some space to get out, but a couple of hours later it was obvious that he had no intent of leaving his comfy nest. The N-boy (carefully) used the pole to move the bag into the backyard and gently pushed the bag over until the opossum crawled out. Hopefully this is the last animal adventure we'll have for a while. 

Have you ever had to conduct any animal evictions? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Baby niece baby quilt.

I'm excited to finally share the baby quilt that I made for my niece, the first baby in the family. I actually gave it to her (well to her parents really since she's only 10 months) at Halloween, but didn't get a chance to share the pictures until now. 

I started the quilt just over a year ago when I went back to Omaha to visit the parentals. The Momcat should know by now that anytime I'm standing in her quilting space and start a sentence with "so I was thinking it might be fun to..." that some new project is about to launch. Just ask her about my brilliant idea to make wall hangings for my bridesmaids and a quilt for my new in-laws before my wedding. 

Momcat and I looked through her extensive collection of books and landed on a churn-dash in a straight setting with cornerstones. I'm proud (or somewhat terrified depending on how you look at it) to report that ALL of the fabric in this quilt comes from the Momcat's stash. I like to think I'm doing my part in helping her use fabric so she can buy more. You can thank me later, Daddo. 

I put the Momcat to work, and by the end of my short visit home we had the whole top pieced together, with just the border left to sew on. 

Each block had a fussy cut fairy in the middle of it, with more fairies appearing in the corner stones and in a corresponding print on the backing.

 I worked on the quilt off and on while the N-boy was in Russia. A couple of other projects (Prairie Sewn Companion) kept me busy and out of trouble during this time too. Finally after the N-boy came back and we settled into the Fall semester I set out to finish it in time for the Halloween party.

I'm SUPER proud of how it turned it. This was my first real-project attempt at free motion quilting and it was lots of fun to work on. Except for when my thread kept breaking. That was less fun.  But I"m  happy with it and I hope that niecy-niece loves it.

I did a swirly-loopy-vine in the sashin and pebbling in the cream and gold rectangles in the center. I also did stitch in the ditch to stabilize the whole thing before I started. In the borders I did a simple meander. I got a TON of help and inspiration from the materials on Leah Day's blog. She's an amazing quilter and her videos and blog posts made me positive that I could do this.

It's a little hard to see in this photo, but the back print has fairies in the center with more of the sashing fabric framing it like a picture frame. I used the same pink for both the border and the binding.

 I'm actually looking forward to working on quilting more of the tops that are languishing in my closet now. The free motion quilting wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, and it made me feel really good to get a project that was important to me out the door to its intended recipient.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012


Ok, so I'm clearly a little behind on posting since I'm just now getting to Halloween. But instead of viewing this as a failure let's just think of it as a way to keep the festiveness going on a little longer. Of course that also means we've crashed head first into Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I think a little extra cheer might be good for me right now since the winter blahs have hit me early this year

The N-boy and I headed to St. Louis again this year for his brother and sister-in-law's annual Halloween bash. Halloween is their favorite holiday and their parties always promise to be a festive occasion. This year was obviously the best year ever since it was the first year with the cutest baby niece on the planet. In a spider costume. 

Second cutest costume (after aforementioned spider-baby of course) was my Robin Hood outfit. Which, when posed on the HOOD of my car makes for an even more clever costume. Too bad I didn't think of that until afterwards. But now it makes me look smart AND festive! 

The N-boy donned a festive hat. And a plate of creepy gummy sushi. 

 I found this in a magazine at their house. I really REALLY want this! Hint hint family members who keep asking what I want for Christmas. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Winter blahs.

The winter blahs have hit me early this year. I'm not sure what the deal is. It's not that cold, the weather hasn't been awful (although it is supposedly going to snow next week). It's been dark, but no darker than usual for this time of year.

Blech. I hate feeling this way.

The N-boy and I kicked it old school last night with a comfort food dinner of Kraft Mac n Cheese. Yes, name brand even. Growing up this was one of the meals that Daddo would make for me and BabyBrother when he was left in charge of our feeding for a night. One time he tried to substitute store brand for the tried and true Kraft and was called out on the first bite. I like think this means BabyBrother and I have exceptional and epicurean taste buds. But it probably just means we ate too much boxed mac and cheese.

Monday, October 22, 2012


For being our quietest month in the office, October has been a busy month at home. I went home to visit the parentals, ran a 5k  in a dirndl and have had out of town guests for a weekend. And October isn't even over yet! Here's a quick photo recap of some of the October adventures.

 Flew to Omaha to visit the parentals.

Caramel sombrero at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

Road trip to Des Moines for the AQS Quilt Show. 

Germanfest 5k. In dirndls. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

UFO Sunday-Christmas Tree Bargello

I'm really trying to work on my UFOs this fall; I had 7 flimsies sitting in my closet just waiting to be finished. All of them are completely pieced and just need quilting and binding. I finished one last week and can't show pictures of the whole thing yet, but here's a peek at my pebbling. I'm pretty proud for my first attempt!

Here's the one I pulled out for this week; it's a bargello Christmas tree that I made in a class when we first moved to Indiana. Four years ago. Oh well. I'd really like to have it done in time to hang up for Christmas this year (it's a large wall hanging).

I'm not entirely sure how to quilt it, especially since I'm still very much feeling my way into free motion quilting. I've been practicing, and I'm not afraid to try something new, but I'm still not sure what to do.

Possibly tree bark on the trunk? 

Occasional round ornaments on the tree, with different free motion patterns filling each one? 
Stars in the sky? 
Trace the holly in the borders? 

Suggestions are most dearly welcomed! 

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project