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When Julie (of The Intrepid Thread) offered up this fabric challenge I jumped at the opportunity to participate. What a perfect pairing of fabrics she was challenging people to sew with. Even before the fabrics arrived...

Starting the new year off fresh with a fabric mosaic challenge from Stitched in Color. Our inspiration this time around comes from a vintage twist on the rainbow colors. I couldn't help but play along...

Eight nights of Hanukkah and it is still over in a flash. This year we got to spend the beginning and the end with my folks - a great way to bookend this fun holiday. There were candles and songs and lots of latkes. On the last night our cousins Zack, Marina, and Naomi joined us for the fun. Matt and Zack did an epic dreidel toss battle. Aba cooked the latkes and Michelle made tasty, fall off the bone chicken.

All these pictures have already been shared (and liked) on Facebook, but I wanted to have a little memory of this year's festivities on the blog too. Short and sweet... on to the pictures. (Thanks to Lukas for the edits and photo critiques to keep me improving, just as long as I can remember to do them.)

mendocino tidepools :: baby quilt

The quilt that started it all. My first fabric obsession was with Heather Ross's Mendocino.
Blueberry Park mini swap mosaics
mosaic 1 + mosaic 2

Blueberry Park mini swap mosaics
mosaic 3 + mosaic 4

counted cross stitch

Until fifth grade, we lived in the same little two bedroom house with the big willow tree in the backyard and the park right next-door.  We'd walk to school each morning and then home again in the afternoon.  When summer came, the school yard was just there for bike riding and perfecting my skills at spinning around the horizontal bar.  And I had SKILLS!

Each summer, though I distantly can only remember two, my mom would hire a babysitter for the whole summer - a college kid from HSU.  The first summer I remember this babysitter - paid just $3/hour for three kids (the going rate) - parked herself in a lawn chair with a book and told us, "Go play."  So we did, but we really wished she'd play with us instead of read her book.  What we didn't know is that she was setting us up for the best summer babysitter ever.

Lisa came next summer (and maybe we even had her back the summer after that... she was pretty awesome).  She played with us and engaged with us.  No nose in a book.  One day, she got permission from our mom to take us on an adventure.  We gathered our change and walked down to the corner to catch the bus.  I don't think we'd ridden on the bus before.  The bus took us downtown and dropped us off in front of a big blue victorian house.  The bottom floor of the house had been converted into shops and we entered the sewing one.  Inside, Matt and I both got to pick out a cross stitch kit.  I think Shawna was probably too little.  My kit was one with strawberries and Matt chose one with teddy bears.

I remember Lisa showing us how to make the stitches.  I was proud because she taught me the "real" way to do it instead of putting a knot in the end of the embroidery floss like she did for Matt's.  I remember working hard to make sure the backside was just a neat as the frontside.  Matt's was one big jumbled mess - but Lisa said that was ok.  I remember loving to work on my project but I certainly didn't finish it by the end of summer.

Summer did end and Lisa graduated and drove off in her new little red car.  She exchanged addresses with me and for several years we were sporadic pen pals.  When I was in high school and she had had her first kid we reconnected for a quick visit.  (That first baby is now in college!) We lost connection after that, but again, years later we found each other through Facebook.

Imagine my surprise to learn that this awesome babysitter, who introduced me to cross stitch and planted some seeds for crafting, was also a quilter.  And, the coolest bit... she just opened a quilting shop.  Some day, we'll have to make it out to Chicago - for pizza, to see Lisa, and to visit her wonderful looking quilt shop.

When I saw this cute ABC sampler from Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy I remembered learning to stitch with Lisa.  It was years later when I finally finished the strawberry kit she'd gotten with me.  And still years more since I'd done any cross stitch.  The sweet little designs were calling my name and I always jump at the chance to have a little handwork for my morning commute.  This project even made the trip with me to DC in October (though I hardly stitched on any of the plane rides).

The last stitch went in the night before I headed down to LA for the baby shower.  That morning, I popped it in the frame and then gently carried across the bay on BART and down the peninsula on Caltrain.  And all the way to Pasadena where it was gifted to the new parents to be.  


My Sweetie Pie Counted Cross Stitch
the details

My Sweetie Pie Counted Cross Stitch
the details - xox
Sugar Pop :: baby quilt
Sugar Pop Baby Quilt
Cloth Baby Booties

When I learned that my colleague at work, who I work closely with on our international studies, was expecting her first baby I started dreaming up a gift to sew for her new little one.  I had big ideas of a modern looking quilt with a play on sailboats, since she and her husband are into sailing.  I tried to track down some Ugandan or Kenyan fabric to use as the sails, but when I didn't have any luck the idea faded to the background and I forgot about it.

Fast forward... she delivers a week or so before our big abstract deadline!  And thoughts of baby were brought right back to the surface.  The whole family would be at the conference and I NEEDED to bring a little something from the little guy.  With limited time, I turned to my go-to baby present - these cloth baby booties.  Even with all the pairs I've made, I'm still working through the first bit of that fleece-y swede fabric I use for the soles.  Tracking down that fabric way back in 2009 is was first brought me to Harts Fabric - where I learned just how awesome fabric stores can be.

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to use for the main fabric but I knew I wanted it to be bright and not girly.  I was going through the fabrics in my stash when I suddenly remembered that another colleague, this one from Uganda, had brought me back some fabric.  Luckily I found it!  Luckily it was this awesome print!  Luckily there was just enough to do these booties and even do a bit of pattern matching to make a set!

The parents were thrilled with the little shoes.  The dad even requested a pair in his size.  I'll call that a win!

Pattern :: cloth baby shoes - free Michael Miller Pattern
:: outer - kitenge fabric from Uganda
:: inner - Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander

Cloth Baby Booties

Cloth Baby Booties

Cloth Baby Booties

Cloth Baby Booties

blogging for books

blogging for books
Blogging for Books :: Seven Spoons

It's been ages now since I received this "new" cookbook from Blogging for Books and it's about time I got my act together to post my review. Plus, I'll get to pick out a new book once I get this posted! Well, in all the time I've had this book I've only cooked from it a couple times. That isn't a reflection on the book - instead, it's just the state of ambivalence towards the kitchen that I seem to be stuck in at the moment.  I can find the energy, for about a week, to be good at meal planning, shopping early on the weekend, getting things prepped, etc.  And then, after resounding self congratulations on such a stellar job I start to slack off all over again.  Rinse and repeat.

But I'm all for trying again and again.  Someday my good intentions will become habit.  Until then, I'll collect recipes and pretty cookbooks that make me want to do better.  And I'll keep on trying.

Continuing the theme of moving slow, these pictures are from three weeks ago.  When I pulled out the camera to take pictures of the dish (Broccoli rabe with bagna cauda) I was in "feeling awesomely on top of things" mode.  Red sauce was simmering for the week ahead, extra veggies for work lunch salads had already been washed and chopped.  The golden afternoon light simply added to my feelings of contentment.  (then I got lazy again, the computer broke, I went out of town, the computer got fixed, I got sick... and the pictures just sat waiting for me)

I should say a little something about the book.  The first descriptor that comes to mind is lovely.  From the outside, with its canvas-y spine and pressed title, to the inside, with its smooth pages and calm photographs it is pleasing to the eye and the hand.  The recipes come with helpful headnotes that read like mini stories and are filled with bits of information that might translate to cooking skills somewhere down the line.  I'm especially inspired to try out the "staples" section at the back of the book.  The broccoli rabe came with quite a flavor punch with the sauce and earned thumbs up from the husband too.  I'm happy to have this one on my shelf - easy access for when I get to meal planning (even when that's right before I head out the door for the store and not earlier in the week like I always hope).

Here's a glimpse of the kitchen when I like it best (i.e. when I'm least likely to be dreaming of a million ways it could be better).

blogging for books
In the pantry

blogging for books
Afternoon sunlight

blogging for books
Current state of the fridge at the moment the photo was snapped

blogging for books
broccoli rabe with bagna cauda

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.