Showing posts from 2013

Merry Christmas!

We've just arrived in New Hampshire for the holidays. There's snow on the ground, Christmas carols on the radio, one happy little baby in a candy cane dress, and lots of family, friends, and food on the schedule! 

Have a wonderful holiday!

xx Tina

A year late!

About a decade ago... ok, I'm exaggerating, less than a year ago... I started a cute little baby blanket for friends whose first son was born shortly after baby G. With one thing and another, though, the quilt ended up in my WIP pile until a couple of weeks ago, when I realised that if I didn't get my act together, this baby boy was going to turn one before receiving the quilt meant to welcome him into the world. I actually had all of the squares done and really just needed a few hours to get them sewn into rows and add a border or two. Easy peasy, especially with Wednesday sewing nights!

Ta-da! It's a version of this other quilt I'd made, using this pattern from the Moda Bake Shop. And, the wind cooperated to show both front and back at the same time! Now, I've just to add binding and a label, and this pretty little thing will be ready to go, just in time for a special little boy's birthday celebrations!

xx Tina

Happy Thanksgiving!

xx Tina

A meeting of minds

Since my last post, I've managed to make this:

One measly little lavendar sachet, featuring another log cabin, this one inspired by last month's scrap buster quarter log cabin block for Bee Blessed. (I say inspired because, of course, I didn't have a chance to make any of those said Bee Blessed blocks). When did I have the opportunity to get this little project finished, I hear you ask? Well, I got myself a babysitter last week and headed out to a weekly sewing night hosted by the Mid-Western Branch of the Irish Patchwork Society. You see, one of the first people I met when I moved here is the new branch chairperson. Naturally, she invited me along to the next branch meeting, which happened to be the following week. I was a little bit hesitant at first, not knowing what to expect, but, keen to meet some like-minded folk and get a night out of the house, I went along. I had a great time chatting with fellow patchworkers, most much more experienced than I, and marveling over …

That smells nice!

There's a fabulous weekend market here in Limerick, the Milk Market. It's much like St. George's Market in Belfast or the English Market in Cork - lots of local and artisan cheesemongers, bakers, chocolatiers, butchers, and other specialty food stalls sitting alongside textile traders selling beautiful buttons, handmade quilts, and bright knitted hats and mittens. Hubby, baby G, and I have made it a bit of a habit to wander down there late on a Saturday morning to pick up lunch and indulge in a bit of people watching in the upstairs seating area. 

While we were there a couple of weeks ago, I bought a big bag of locally grown lavender, with the idea that I'd make a few lavender sachets to freshen up the various closets and chests of drawers in the house. (One of the things I hate about moving into a new rental house is the stale, unfamiliar smell. It's pretty much gone at this stage, but a few lavender sachets are always welcome.)

Typically, I didn't have time to …

A Taste of Belfast

Last month, a good friend back in Belfast sent me a little gift for my birthday: a lovely tea towel from Flax Fox, one of the vendors that sets up stall every weekend at St. George's Market. So lovely was this particular tea towel that I just couldn't face putting it to work on all the chores I usually use tea towels for. It would be grimy and battered within days (if not moments. Nothing's more hardworking in my kitchen than tea towels!). Plus, I still have a lot of empty wall space in the new house to fill. So, this weekend, hubby and I undertook a little home decorating project involving said tea towel, an old kitchen cabinet door, and a stapling gun.

A fantastic reminder of Belfast and all my friends back there! This is destined for a place of honour just above the kitchen table, from which vantage point it can supervise my use and abuse of other, less fortunate tea towels! 

xx Tina

A Lesson Learned

About a century ago, I promised Sarah that I'd make two Churn Dash blocks for her Siblings Together Quilt. With six months to make them, I figured there'd be no problem whipping them up at some point. In hindsight, I now see that I should've made them as soon as I'd made my promise, but life intervened, and I kept thinking about just how much time I had to make the blocks. Of course, when I finally sat down at the end of August to make them, my machine promptly broke, and it was still in the shop when the big move took place. Long story short, it was only last week that I got to return to the pieces I'd cut back in August and put these two blocks together.

There was a third block involving a striped fabric that defied all attempts at uniformity. There were stripes going every which way, and my brain just couldn't wrap itself around how to get them all to line up with each other! So, that block's gone into the scrap box. Otherwise, though, I really enjoyed ma…

Pin it

Well, after much fussy cutting and hand stitching, this is what I came up with for the Modern Quilters' Scrappy Pin Cushion Swap...

This project represented a couple of different firsts for me - my first pin cushion, and my first attempt at decorative hand stitching. I wish the latter was slightly more uniform, but overall I'm delighted with the end result! I had such fun with it, too, especially getting to play around with my Japanese charm squares and the too cute bicycle fabric I got this summer in Portsmouth. My swap partner really seemed to like it, too. Phew!

I LOVE the pin cushion I received in turn:

Aren't the colours amazing, and all the points so precise?! The back is oh-so-cute, too!

Don't you just love this little sewing room? And, as if that weren't enough, my partner also sent me a fabulous little extra - a teeny, tiny drawstring bag that'll be perfect for a special Christmas gift! (Am I going to get in trouble for saying that word?!)

Thanks, Tomomi! L…

We've moved!


One of those weeks!

Last week felt about a million years long, and not in a good or fun way. With a couple of big work deadlines looming, I plied myself with way too much coffee, set out an ambitious but totally achievable list of goals, and watched in silent horror as I simultaneously went a bit mad with caffeine and failed to meet any of my targets! Progress felt infinitessimally slow. At least I had some fun sewing to take my mind off it. Or so I thought. I was about half way through making two Churn Dash blocks for Sarah's Siblings Together quilt when my trusty Pfaff went haywire. I did everything I could think of to get things working again, but I quickly came to the conclusion that the problem was beyond my (very limited) capabilities. So, off it went to the shop. Which, in itself, wouldn't have been such a bad thing. I had been meaning to get it serviced for a while, just for general maintenance purposes, but I had also already signed up for Judith's Slouch Bag workshop today. *Sigh*. …

The Sun has Gone

Not just to bed, but forever it seems, replaced by our more usual summer weather: rain. Oh well. I'm not going to complain. We've had more beautiful weather in the past few weeks than I've experienced in the whole ten years I've been living in Ireland and Northern Ireland! And, knowing how fleeting the sun might prove, we managed to pack a lot of summer fun into those weeks, including BBQs, picnics, beach outings, cycles, walks, trips to the zoo, and about a million pieces of this:

Pavlova! I ate my first piece of pavlova on a holiday to Zimbabwe in 2007, and it entered ever after into the annals of epic desserts: deliciously light and airy, it manages to be both decadent and virtuous at the same time. It's the perfect summer sweet - not dense enough to tip you over the edges of excess after plates of burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad, but just sweet enough to finish things off nicely. I love mixing a little bit of lemon curd in with the whipped cream to give a ti…

Goodness me!

I couldn't believe it when I looked at the list of my blog posts and realised that the last time I posted was back on 24 June! There's been a lot going on since then, not least the end of my maternity leave (*sob*), my return to work, and baby G's introduction to creche. Fortunately, she loves it (maybe a little too much!), and, though I miss her, I'm enjoying being back and work and doing 'adult' things during the day! With that and the unusually sunny summer weather we've been having for the past couple of weeks across Ireland, I've accomplished next to nothing at my sewing machine. In fact, I don't really have any projects on the go at the moment, except a couple of blocks I've promised to Sarah for the Siblings Together quilt she's putting together. They're not due until the end of October, so they're exactly the kind of commitment I can handle at the moment! I've pulled out a few swathes of fabric to start and am looking for…

Ta Da!

Last week, I put the finishing touches on the little baby quilt I've been working on over the past few months, and I'm really pleased, not least because the quilt's intended recipient isn't due to make his/her appearance until the end of this week. Phew! I was definitely getting a bit nervous about finishing this in time, but now that it's ready, baby can come just as soon as he/she likes! (I'm pretty sure my friend feels the same, too, but for different reasons!)

The end result is only about 28 inches square, which is smaller than I would've liked, but I think it'll be perfect for a teeny, tiny newborn. Since mum and dad didn't want to know if they were having a boy or a girl, I pulled all the bright, non-gender-specific fabrics I could find in my stash and aimed for an eye-catching mishmash of colour interspersed with blocks of white and cream. I followed the design of this amazing quilt, and, while my quilting turned out a bit more wonky and wavy …

Stash building in the USA

I admit, this post's title isn't quite as catchy as 'born in the USA', but it certainly sums up what I did while in the States a couple of weeks ago. You see, in addition to those lovely little purchases I made at Portsmouth Fabric Company, I also picked up a handful of colourful prints during a trip to Mary Alice Dalton's Children's Couture shop in Belmont, NH. Mom and I had been told about this hidden gem well before baby G arrived, and it was decided that, on her first visit to the States, we would call on Mary Alice, along with several other mums, grandmas, and babies, to marvel at (and purchase!) the beautiful, skillfully crafted children's clothes she makes. Duly we did, and what a pleasure it was! Mary Alice's tremendous abilities as a seamstress were clear in all of the lovely outfits displayed around her charming boutique, and her amazing selection of bright and beautiful fabrics made me feel like a little kid in a candy shop! It took me severa…

Further Adventures in New Hampshire

Two weeks ago, I fully intended to write an update about the zigzag baby quilt I started a while back (it's actually progressing nicely. Hoorah!). Obviously, that didn't happen, primarily because I was preoccupied preparing for baby G's first transatlantic trip. That's right: at the ripe old age of five months, this little kiddo is already an international jetsetter, having flown over to Boston to pay a visit to all of her family and friends in the US. She handled the flights with aplomb and, of course, charmed the million or so people she met during our stay. She even managed to convince her besotted grandparents to take care of her for the night while hubby and I whisked ourselves away to a fancy hotel on the coast to indulge in a bit of pampering at the hotel spa and explore the charms of nearby Portsmouth, NH (ignoring the rain as well as the hotel's occasional resemblance to the Overlook. Freaky.) Included amongst those charms, much to my delight, was this fan…

I baked!

These days it often feels like a minor victory if I manage to eat lunch before it's time for dinner, let alone do anything 'extra', like bake or patchwork. Last week, however, I carved out a bit of time to make cookies for a gathering of friends, and, oh, was I happy I did!

These were good... very, very good! A basic, buttery biscuit dough chock full of white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and chopped pistachios. They disappeared within minutes to appreciative oohs and ahs. An obvious hit! And, the best part was, they fit perfectly around the various demands of a four and a half month old baby. In fact, I mixed up the dough while Baby G played happily in her Bumbo seat; rolled the dough into a cylinder and refrigerated it for a few hours when it became clear that Baby G was done with baking for the day; and finished everything off in the evening once I got the kiddo to sleep. Perfect!

Although the original recipe on which these biscuits were based (the same one I use fo…

A Word of Thanks

Yesterday, my friend Judith stopped me at church to say that she had something for me. Can you guess what it was?

Isn't it amazing? It's one of the many beautiful quilts made by my friends in Bee Blessed, and I'm just so touched that they made one for hubby, Baby G and me! Thank you so much! What a wonderful blessing it is to have good friends!

xx Tina

Remember Herman?

So, last Saturday, just in time for Easter, Herman the German was ready for baking. As there were 22 of hubby's immediate family gathered together for the holiday, a cake was definitely a welcome addition to our festivities, especially as it tasted wonderful! Moist and dense, the cake had a lovely, crunchy, salty-sweet crust on the top and lots of plump raisins and apple chunks throughout. It reminded me a bit of my Nana's apple cake, but it certainly took a lot more preparation time. Most of that time was just sitting around and waiting, stirring occasionally and adding a few basic ingredients every once in a while, but still, I'm not sure I'd bother with it again, unless, of course, someone gave me another batch! All that aside, the 22 of us made very short work of this Friendship cake, and I'm pretty sure it won me some brownie points! 

The starter's all been used or passed on at this stage, but I can still spread the love by sharing the basic cake recipe as …

Some actual sewing

I can hardly believe it, but over the last couple of weeks, I've actually managed to do a bit of sewing! Good friends of ours are having their first baby at the end of June, and I'd really like to make a simple baby quilt for them, especially as the mum-to-be has been very admiring of past baby quilts I've made. With my scrap bucket overflowing like Strega Nona's magic pasta pot (I knew I couldn't write a whole post without some reference to baby stuff!), I decided to make a scrappy quilt of some sort and found the perfect model on Red Pepper Quilts

This is quite a small quilt, but I think it'll be perfect as a pram blanket or an on-the-go quilt for trips in the car. It may need sashing once everything is said and done, but I'll get the rows sewed together first before I make any decisions on that. And I have the perfect fabric for the back...

This single quilt is my to-do list for April (and possibly May and June)! Fingers crossed I can pull it together. I…

I've got a friend

And his name is Herman. He's German, and he's making my house smell like a doughnut shop. Never a bad thing in my mind, but still, kind of odd. Unless, of course, you're a sweet sourdough starter like Herman, who's pictured here in all his bubbly glory.

This starter is used as the base for 'Herman the German Friendship Cake', a lovely, dense apple cake, which sounds really delicious but which takes ten days to make! Actually, you have to stir or 'feed' Herman for nine days in order to to keep the sourdough culture alive, and then, on the tenth day, you can bake. Delayed gratification and all that. The best part though? When you do finally bake, you reserve enough of the sourdough culture to spread the love to three of your friends, who then get to do the same. Hence the name, I guess! 

I've always been fascinated by the idea of sourdough, so I can't wait to see what this is like! Any (local) bloggers want to meet my friend Herman, too?!

Material Girl

I can't believe it's been such a long time since my last post! Actually, let me rephrase that. I can believe it's been such a long time since my last post. Taking care of Baby G really is a full-time job! Since my last post, in fact, I've attended several mums and tots groups, sung my whole repertoire of nursery rhymes at least three times a day, watched in wonder as my wee baby grew before my very eyes, and generally partook in the wonders of parenting a nearly ten week old baby! Crafty things did not enter the horizon. Or, rather, they did in the most fleeting of ways with the purchase of the necessary materials for my new craft of choice, should I ever actually have the chance to sit down and try it - embroidery.

With a moment or two of searching on ebay, I discovered this lot of Anchor Pearl Cotton embroidery thread going at a seriously bargain rate. Since I haven't actually decided what designs I might eventually embroider, or, therefore, what colour thread I m…

Naps, Glorious Naps!

Well, my sweet baby is having a little nap, so I've got a moment or two to check in here. Although little G is starting to settle into a bit more of a routine, I'm still working on finding the time and organizational capacity to get creative again. Pulling out my Pfaff and getting things sorted to sew seems a bit adventurous right now, especially when baby G might decide to wake at any moment! It occurred to me, therefore, that I need to cultivate new, less equipment-heavy crafts, like crochet, knitting, and embroidery. Having tried (rather unsuccessfully) the former two, I've decided to leave that to my uber-talented mom for the moment and concentrate on embroidery, something I haven't really attempted before but have been contemplating for a while. Inspired by Sarah's gorgeous Russian dolls, therefore, I took the first step by ordering these fantastic books...

I'm thinking of adapting an idea I saw on Pinterest to create chic embroidery hoops decorated with im…

Vintage-y Goodness

Yesterday was a perfect day. Little G was more alert than she's ever been, and, more than that, was just about a model baby in terms of a three hour routine. We not only managed to get out of the house in the morning and visit a friend for an hour or two, we also popped into Tesco's, sorted through all the newborn clothes G's already outgrown (unbelievable!), did sixteen million loads of laundry, and watched an episode or two of Suits. Last night, I lulled myself to sleep with visions of all the fun we'd be having - and all the sewing I might return to - now that my sweet baby has settled into a routine. I should've known better, right?! This morning, the poor mite was definitely out of sorts, wanting to feed almost constantly and certainly not happy to go down for a nap. All plans for getting out of the house were quickly abandoned, the laundry was left up on the line, dust accumulated unchecked, and breakfast went uneaten. We spent the better part of the day glue…

4 Weeks Old!

Well, it's hard to believe, but my little Gracie is 4 weeks old today! She remains perfect, of course, and I'm really beginning to experience the wonders of motherhood, as you can see... 

I'm the cow, not the smiling, happy lady, just in case you were confused. Moo. (Reading this over, I realise it sounds like I'm not smiling and happy, which couldn't be further from the truth! I also just happen to feel very much like a dairy cow!)

xx Tina

Hello, world!

Well, we've made it to the other side! Our little bundle of joy was born on 27 December, weighing just over 3 kg and measuring a pretty astonishing 52 cm. (She takes after her dad in the height category!) Naturally, we think our little Gracie is the most perfect, beautiful baby in the world! 
We're settling in at home now and getting to know each other, so things will be slow on the patchworking/baking front for the next little while, though we did manage to pop in very briefly on Saturday afternoon to see the lovely Bee Blessed ladies. And, we got home from church yesterday morning to find the most amazing package of goodies for both mum and tot from the ever-generous Sarah. There was a fantastic Russian doll wall hanging, two amazing little taggy squares, two lovely, bright FQs for my stash, and lots of lovely lotions and potions for some special mummy pampering time! You can see the wall hanging and taggies on Sarah's blog. Thanks again, Sarah!!
I'll undoubtedly be ke…