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Archive for July, 2009

I’ve been working on a major scrapbooking project.  I’m making a scrapbook of our wedding.  I’m in the process of sorting through hundreds of photos that our family and friends gave to us after the wedding.  After I select which photos I’ll use, I’ll start making pages for my scrapbook.

Here’s a great pic I came across:

Carriage B & W

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The Bread Rose!

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In past bread-making missions, I’ve attempted to make wheat bread.  The loaves never rose very well.  I knew that drastic action was necessary.  I searched the Internet for easy/beginner bread recipes, reading people’s blogs for tips.

Click here for the recipe I used.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. Use a thermometer to make sure water temp is 100-120 degrees.  When I made this loaf, I realized that the water temp was WAAAY too hot.  Oops!  I added cold water until the temp was correct.
  2. Mix 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp sugar, and your yeast in a bowl.  Mix it and then walk away for 5-10 minutes.  It was hard to walk away, but I did.  I was rewarded with a foamy mixture in my mixing bowl.

I might try a different recipe next time, or I might try honey or brown sugar instead of white sugar.  I feel that this bread has a simple, dull taste.  It’s fine with cheese, but I would like to make bread that is perfect for snacking.

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I sorted, folded, and organized another basket of fabric scraps.  I still have a giant bag with more, but I’m making progress.  After checking various resale and dollar stores, I found the perfect containers for organizing the scrap fabrics.  Here’s a picture of what I have organized so far.  I tried to put similar colors together.

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Having the fabrics folded and organized by color will help me when I select fabrics for the scrap quilt I’m working on.  It’s very exciting to think about the beautiful quilt blocks that these will make!  It’s also neat to sit down and contemplate all of the blouses, dresses, tops, etc. that I’ve made!  Do you notice that most of my clothes are blue, pink, or maroon?

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The Cookies

By the way, the cookies were absolutely fantastic! They’re puffy, full of ooey-gooey chocolate chips, and just yummy.

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I made a small batch the first night that I made the dough (No, I couldn’t wait 24 hours for the dough to chill!) and we ate them ALL!

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I made another small batch the next day (after the 24 hour waiting period) and they started going very quickly.

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With the remaining cookie dough, I molded it into two rectangles, cut them almost all the way through with a knife, and wrapped them up with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  I stuck the two packets of cookie dough in the freezer.  They’re ready for the next time I draw “cookies” out of the Family Home Evening idea jar or if I get a cookie craving, whichever comes first.  I’ll just thaw them in the fridge or on the counter, bake, and enjoy!

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I’ve been looking online at how people organize their sewing work spaces.  Many people keep their fabric folded in baskets by color.  That way, it’s on display and easy to choose the fabric that you want.

My fabric scraps are mostly in baskets, boxes, or bags:

fabric scraps

In an attempt to organize them, I took one basket and sorted it out by fabric:

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After that lengthy process (for ONE basket of scraps), I put the folded fabrics, by color, into a box.  I’ll probably change containers, but it definitely looks a LOT better.  Here’s a pic:

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Yesterday, I began writing about how I’ve been organizing my home office.  I finally got my ever-growing yarn stash under control with colorful buckets from Dollar General.  Next, it was on to my sewing and quilting fabrics, as well as my scrapbook materials.

I have a small buffet/cabinet next to my desk.  It has two shelves inside.  I put my scrapbooking materials on one shelf, and used buckets to organize my fabrics.  Like I did with my yarn, I kept fabrics for projects together with their instructions/books.  This way, when I’m working on a project, it will be much easier to find the fabrics.  Everything will be easy to spot.  Here’s a picture:

IMG_3650My current scrapbooking project is my wedding album.  In the picture above, try to spot the lacy photo album.  That’s my wedding album.  Now, spot the white scrapbook underneath.  That’s going to be the new wedding scrapbook.  See the clear box under that?  That’s what I use to store my scrapbook paper, stickers, glue, etc.

I decorated the original wedding album on my honeymoon.  I covered a plan photo album with batting, satin, lace, and fake pearls.  For our wedding, we asked everyone to bring their cameras and share the pictures with us.  We also had disposable cameras out on the tables at the reception.  As we received or developed photos, they were put into this album.  There’s not much organization to it.  That’s why I want to make a scrapbook.

So far, I’ve started to take some of the photos out of the album.  I’m glad I’m doing this, because the top pages in the album are a little bent (It’s a binder album and the sides of the pages near the rings sometimes “roll” over the rings.  Plus, some of the holes are broken, so some of the pages are a bit loose).

After I get the pictures out (I think there’s a few hundred), I’ll sort them by pre-wedding, ceremony, reception, and after.

Here’s a little about our wedding:  We were married in the morning at a renaissance festival.  My bridesmaids wore renaissance dresses (they were like the dresses in the movie Ever After) and tennis shoes.  My sister wore Teva sandals.  We got to ride in a carriage and walk under a sword arch.  The chapel was covered in vines instead of a roof.  After the reception, the wedding party and all of our guests got to go around the renaissance festival.  I changed out of my wedding dress and into a renaissance costume for that!  Did I mention that I wore white sneakers with ribbon laces with my wedding gown?  It was right out of Father of the Bride!

Renaissance Wedding

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Recently, I organized my home office.  I use it for sewing, quilting, knitting, scrapbooking, couponing, menu planning, grocery planning, blogging, etc.  It’s a small area, so everything really needs its own place if you don’t want the area to look like a tornado went through it.

After purchasing some storage bins from Dollar General, I set about putting projects and craft materials into bins.

Here are my yarn shelves BEFORE (On a good day – it was really badly crowded with yarn when I started organizing things.):

knitting shelf before

I put similar yarns in buckets together.  I had a larger bin for my one-pound skeins.  If I had projects in progress, I put them in bins, keeping the instructions/books together with the yarn being used.  Here are some AFTER pictures:

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Tune in tomorrow for more on how I organized my office!

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A King-Sized Quilt

A few years ago, I went to a quilt shop and purchased a few yards each of 112 inch wide fabric.  Normally, you find 45 in and 60 in fabric.  I bought a piece in a white floral print and a beige one with little blue flowers.  I sandwiched them together with some nice batting and started to quilt some flowers I traced from a stencil.

That’s when I realized what a project it would be.

When using a walking quilting foot on your sewing machine, it’s easiest to quilt in a straight line.  Going in circles for flowers is not the quickest thing to do.

I decided to quilt lines diagonally across the quilt.  I used a ruler and marked the lines about 2 inches apart using a marker with washable ink.  I need to add that I had the lovely experience of marking these lines on a wooden floor in a small space.

Recently, when I had planned to visit my dad at his new house, I found out he had a king-size bed that didn’t have a comforter or quilt.  I knew that was my opportunity to finally get this quilt finished.  Thus, I dug it out of the storage bag in my bedroom and got to work.

First, I tried quilting at my smaller sewing table.  I had my sewing machine hooked up there, because my serger was on my big desk.  As you can see in the picture below, there just wasn’t enough room!

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Next, I moved the sewing machine to the big table.  It definitely gave me more room!

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It took quite some time to do all of the quilting (row after row after row…), but I finally got that done.  Instead of adding additional fabric to bind the quilt, I trimmed the edges, folded them up, and sewed them down.  I broke two needles in the process, but it still got done reasonably easily.

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Here’s a picture of the quilt on the king bed at my Dad’s place.  This was just a week after my dad had moved into his house, so not all of the furniture was set up in permanent spots.  After my visit, the king bed later got moved to a different room and was put on a frame with a head board.

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Working on Pancakes

raspberry pancakes

In the past, I’ve done a very poor job at making pancakes.  I would burn them pretty badly, but we’d eat them anyways.  I have a friend, J, with three beautiful kids.  Recently, I was over for breakfast and she made pancakes with fresh berries.  I guess this is what spurred my quest to make decent pancakes (consistently).

Recently, my friend, M, and I visited my father at his new house.  We bought a box of pancake mix, so I decided to try making pancakes for breakfast.  He had a new stove, so things worked out really well and the pancakes turned out beautifully.  Guess what we ate the next few days?

After returning home, I decided I would have a go on our older stove.  I used Bisquick, and ended up either burning pancakes or getting mush.  Still, I persisted.  After a few days of this, things improved.  I used 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, and 1 cup of Bisquick.  Instead of chocolate chips (which I used to use in my pancakes), I would try different berries.  I’ve figured out which stove burner works best for pancakes.  I now know which heat setting to use.  I also have a better idea of the best batter consistency and size of pancake (so they don’t come apart when you flip them over).  I put them on a cooling rack when they’re done so they don’t get soggy on a plate.

In all, I think I’ve come a long way.  Now, I just need to try this method with baking bread.  My problem:  the dough won’t rise…

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Okay, we’ve been spending a few days detailing how one single block in a quilt was made.  The quilt block was beautiful.  It used fabrics that I already had on hand (That’s frugal!), and the fabrics that made up the quilt block were filled with memories and history.  I think that’s what makes the most beautiful quilts – memories of happiness from the items that were made from the fabrics in previous days, months, and years.

Thus, we’re on to Step three of building this beautiful quilt block…

Step three:  Use more of the fabric that you previously cut out to construct strips/borders sides of the block.

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Step four:  Sew everything together and admire your work.

IMG_3630It was so pretty, I put it up on my wall!  I’m so pleased with the way it turned out.  The next block will be shades of sunny yellow, maroon, and dark pink…

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Yesterday, I began a new scrap quilt.  I’ve made a lot of clothes and a few quilts in the past year, so I’ve got a few big baskets of scraps lying around.

This quilt started when I wanted to use up some fabric from a dress that turned out badly.  Half of the dress turned into a beautiful skirt, and the other half went into this quilt block.

Let’s continue with Step two…

Step two:  Start piecing together the different fabrics to build the block.

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This block looks great so far, but it’s not even finished!  Tune in tomorrow for more beautiful block building.

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For the last week, I’ve been teaching you how to alter a dress pattern.  I also detailed how such alterations can sometimes lead to what some might call failure.  Still, it was a grand learning experience.  I’d never taken the sleeves from one dress pattern and incorporated them into another before.  I guess I’d been watching too much of Project Runway!  I just love Christian Siriano!!

On to quilting…

If you remember in my last post, my attempt at an altered pattern resulted in a dress that resembled a hospital gown.  After attempting to alter the neckline to add some beauty and style to the dress, I gave up and turned the dress into a skirt.  I still had the fabric from the top of the dress, so I decided to use it in a scrap quilt.

I have two books that I use for quilts.  One is for scrap quilting, which also works for yards of fabric that you buy new at the store.  The other book is for baby quilts.

I turned to a quilt that looked slightly complicated and had a lovely design.  Normally, I stick to quilts with pieces made from strips or squares.  This one required several fabrics with several cutting variations, just for one block!  I was definitely up for the challenge.  I also wanted to use the remaining dress fabric in a constructive way, to make up for “ruining” a beautiful dress.  Yes, the dress could have been just fine and didn’t look completely like a hospital gown, so I could have left it alone and be wearing it right now, but I really need to stop kicking myself about it….

Anyways…

I’ve always wanted to do a blue quilt, and since I had several scraps of blue fabrics, I decided my first block for this new quilt would be different shades of blue.

Here’s my lovely blue fabric from the dress:

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Step one:  Cut out fabric in squares, triangles, strips, etc., following the directions in the book.  Label each fabric A, B, C…

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What’s great is that every fabric has a story.  I’ve used each one to sew something for either myself or others.

A – This fabric was used for the dress that got turned into a skirt.  It was the catalyst for this entire quilt.

B – This was used for another dress from the same pattern as A, except I used the patterns’ regular sleeves.  Since the sleeves were too tight, Fabric B was the catalyst for the dress from Fabric A getting made.  See, it’s Six Degrees of Separation for fabric!

C – This fabric was used with the same dress pattern as Fabric B.

D – This is Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night fabric, except it someone painted in cows jumping over the moon.  I used it to make a pair of boxer shorts for my best friend.

E – This fabric was from a very comfortable, short-sleeved blouse I made.  This pattern takes a bit of time to make (elastic in the sleeves, gathering in the neckline), but it’s a great top.  I had to make the neckline smaller (cut out a smaller size on the pattern pieces), otherwise the neckline would fall off my shoulder (Remember, I’m petite!).

F and G – These two fabrics were used for long-sleeved, silky blouses that I made last year.  I used the same pattern that I used for Fabric E, just with longer sleeves.

H – I used this fabric in a baby quilt I made for my best friend’s sister.  I got lucky, because she’s going to have a boy and I made the turquoise-blue and chocolate-brown quilt well before we knew the baby’s gender.

Tune in tomorrow to see how these quilt pieces start coming together!

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