Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quilt Fun

Quilt Fun is a periodic newsletter I publish listing quilt-related happenings primarily in the New England area. I know some folks travel for fun events so I list a few great retreats from other parts of the country as well. I've been known to hit the road with a few gal pals for a great quilt show!

A few months' worth of back editions are accessible through the archive, as well as the current edition. Take a peek - maybe you'll find the perfect road trip for your quilting or fiber art posse!

Quilt Fun Archive

Have a creative week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Merry Heart

Just arrived in the mail today - Lori Brechlin's charming new cross-stitch pattern, A Merry Heart. This one can definitely be made in time for Valentine's Day.

I've ordered more Wool Street Journals, both the current January issue as well as a half-dozen of the October 2009 issue because it was so popular before the holidays. I should have them by mid-next week.

My first vending "gig" will be at the 26th Annual Eliot Hook-in on Saturday, January 30th at the United Methodist Church, 238 Dow Highway (Rt. 236), Eliot, Maine. Hours are from 10am-3pm. I'll be one of only 3 or 4 vendors. If things go the same way as last year, the vendors will be downstairs in the church lower level until around lunchtime, then we'll be able to come upstairs and join in with the other attendees for a few hours of hooking on our own projects. It will be great to have some "girl time" and soak up some tips and inspiration from all the other talented ladies who will be there, not to mention more practice on my technique.

I've got my little 8" hooked replacement mat nearly finished! I love this one too - hope I can bear to part with it for the Maine Tin Pedlar mat swap Valentine's weekend! It is a hit-or-miss basketweave design, made entirely with strips I had on-hand. I'll post a picture when it's done. When I brought the work in progress into my office to show a co-worker she remarked that I'd barely used the same color twice, saying, "You've got a lot of wool!" Amen to that!

Have a creative weekend!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Love is in the Air!

A shipment of goodies has just arrived from Country Stitches! I'm sure lots of folks will fall for "Love & Be Loved" with those darling Cupids and beautiful red Fraktur-inspired tulips. Very cool!

Lori Brechlin from Notforgotten Farm is sending me her newest cross-stitch, "A Merry Heart". Love it's primitive simplicity. I'll get my model-maker busy on both of these soon!

Can't wait for this book! Renee Plains of Liberty Star has a new book coming out from Kansas City Star titled A Bird in Hand. It will have 21 projects, including 9 pieced and appliqued quilts, all with an avian theme. Love her folk art style! I'm taking pre-orders now, which will get you free shipping when they arrive in stock. Expected late this month or early February.

A quick What's New update! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've been blog-hopping the past couple of days, even though my blog hadn't been updated since last week. Many times I just can't figure out what to say. So, I went surfing around to see what other folks are posting about.

What I found on lots of blogs was that people seem to have lots of time - time to take pictures of the snow, their gardens, even what they're making for dinner! I imagined going out and taking these pictures, uploading them from my camera to the computer, cropping them to a manageable size and posting them to the blog. I'm thinking these folks don't have full-time jobs and do have lots of helpers!

My blog probably won't boast a lot of personal pictures, food I'm making for dinner or cute pets. I'll post the occasional recipe with a picture I find on the internet maybe, and if I have time, a new product or two. I stole time away from things I should have been doing just to get these two clock graphics so I'd have pictures to show!

I've always felt like time is somehow different for everyone else, that I routinely get robbed of my time and never have enough. What's my day like?

5:45 - Up and in the shower, make-up, dress and dry hair.
7:00 - Take my morning pills, grab my lunch and out the door.
7:20 - Stop at Starbucks for a latte on my way to work.
7:30 - Start my day as a software developer.
11:00 - Exercise at my company's in-house gym (this is my lunchtime).
11:45 - Lunch while I work.
4:00 - Quitting time!
4:30 - Make dinner, eat and clean up after.
6:45 - Head upstairs to get on the computer, check for orders.
9:00 - Can't think anymore, off to bed to start it all again.

That little sliver of time from 6:45 'til about 9:00 or 10:00 if I'm feeling peppy is all I have for:
- updating my web site
- processing orders and packing them for shipping the next day
- answering emails
- updating this blog
- "tweeting" and thinking about getting active on Facebook
- possibly sending out a newsletter for Simple Folk or Quilt Fun, another newsletter I produce
- searching for new products, buying
- trying desperately to find time to work on my own projects!

There was no mention of housework or other household errands in that list. That's apparently what weekends are for! A surprisingly small amount of spare time is found on weekends for any creative pursuits after grocery shopping, housework, cooking, laundry and spending quality time with my husband.

Sorry to be so glum tonight, maybe I'm in a post-holiday funk but I'm feeling squeezed these days, even more than usual, for whatever reason! Perhaps getting out of January will help!

Good night!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wool Crazy

One of my customers just made me aware of this new book by author Jo Ann Mulally titled Wool Crazy. It's a book with a pattern and instructions for making a 60" x 60" wool crazy quilt. Looks awesome! I'll be getting them in stock soon. Jo Ann Mulally, whose designs I wasn't familiar with until now, has a folk art style much like Cheri Saffiote-Payne.

The book will retail for $24.95. I'll also have a couple of Jo Ann's patterns to offer, Christmas designs, but hey, you'll have them for next holiday season, right? Winter is a great time to be working with wool!

Not too terribly cold here in Maine right now but we're headed down into the 20s with windchills towards week's end. Oh well, it is January after all...

Stay warm where you are!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snowy New Year

This kind of says it all! Only in Maine - not sure where this was taken but I saw it on the news last night. Click on the picture for a closer look, and check out the sign behind it - snowmobile crossing on a main street! That's like a "you know you're in Maine when..." thing! It's been snowing since "last year", and we rang in 2010 with a 3-day snowstorm. Hard to measure with all the blowing and drifting but out on the back deck it looked like about 18" or so. Luckily it was fairly light stuff, not too tough to shovel, which is good. We're hoping to see a peek of sunshine towards the end of the day, but as I look out the window I still see snowflakes drifting down. It's prettiest when the trees are coated with fresh snow so it's nice to look at. The road crews should have plenty of time to get the roads in shape for tomorrow morning's trek back to work after the last long holiday weekend of the year.

Although we hate to, it'll be time to take the Christmas trees down soon. We usually wait until after "Old Christmas Day" or Epiphanny, January 6th. These are two of my favorite glass ornaments, very Maine-y, my red lobster and seagull. My husband and I each have our own decorated Christmas trees. Mine is always a real tree with all my glass ornaments that I've collected over the years, his is a little kid's dream with ornaments from Peanuts, Looney Tunes and all sorts of cartoon characters - artificial and pre-lit with multi-colored lights. I'm an all-white light purist! So it's good that we can have the decorations we love the most and can enjoy each other's holiday creations!

This snowy weekend has just begged for comfort food - chicken pot pie from scratch New Year's Day and Yankee Pot Roast Saturday night - oh, so yummy and good for the soul! It's a recipe I adapted from one I found in Cooking Light magazine (my favorite!), October 2007 and I make it often in fall and winter. I hope you enjoy it!

Yankee Pot Roast

Olive oil
About a 2-lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium College Inn beef broth
1 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage (or Bell's Seasoning left over from Thanksgiving)
2 bay leaves
1 small turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
About 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices

Pre-heat over to 300 degrees.

Heat about a tsp olive oil in a large oven-safe Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate. Add a little more olive oil if needed and saute the onion about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown. Add the broth, scraping pan to loosen the brown bits from browning the meat and onion. Reduce heat; add mustard, spices and bay leaves then return the roast to the pot. Bring to a simmer.

Cover and bake at 300 for 1-1/2 hours. Add the carrot and turnip and continue to bake, covered, another hour. Add potato and bake another 30 minutes or until the roast and vegetables are very tender. Remove bay leaves.

You can also add parsnip or rutabaga, or any other root vegetables you prefer. Wonderful the next day! Add some crusty bread or homemade corn bread and call the family to dinner!

Enjoy and stay warm and cozy! I'm off to finish drawing out a couple of new hooked rug projects. More on those soon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Finished Project

This is a little 8" primitive hooked mat that I finished a few weeks ago for a hooked mat swap that the rug guild I below to, Maine Tin Pedlars, was supposed to be having at the December meeting. At the last minute my husband and I decided to travel down to Massachusetts to have an early Christmas with my family and I was unable to go to the meeting. I understand the mat swap didn't take place because most folks hadn't completed theirs in time. Just as well - I've grown attached to my little red tulip and may not want to part with it at all! The swap is due to take place at some future date. I've got time to make something else. This is actually my first finished hooked piece! The tulip in a yellow ware bowl was inspired by a similar design by Betty Dekat (primitivebettys on eBay) that she needlepunched and made into a sand-filled pincushion atop a little round painted and distressed papier mache box that I love and use all the time.

What's next? I've been banging around the house today, not very motivated at all, watching the snow lazily fall, wondering what I should work on next. I have several ideas sketched out but might just try to work on a hooked eyeglass case design by Karen Kahle (Primitive Spirit) from the book, Designs for Primitive Rug Hookers. Looks like it should work up quickly, and generally I'm all about things that work up quickly! As much as I would love to someday create a large rug I'm not sure if I'll ever get beyond a chairpad-size piece! Speaking of chairpads, I have one that I really want to hook from Peyton Primitives. It will look super on one of my black and maple kitchen counter stools. Now I'll have to design two more to coordinate with it.

What are you working on? Now that the holidays are over, what projects are your thoughts turning to? Any plans to pick up a new craft this year?

I've promised my husband a chicken pot pie made from scratch today so I guess I'd better decide when that should commence! It's a rather preparation-intensive recipe, and the kitchen will be littered with dirty cooking utensils afterwards. My last cooking extravaganza for the holiday season!

Have a great New Year's Day! Cheers,