Our New Normal

10735601_198767150309570_1461045788_nSweet Diana is 7 weeks old now and we are all slowly settling in to a new routine. I’m even finding time to sew in between catching up with work and keeping up with the never-ending housework. (seriously, will it ever end?)

10787865_874339549251585_1988092098_nI find that I can fit a lot of TO DOs into my day but completing tasks is not so simple. Starting projects is easy and tempting…

10731619_322124651302963_312864909_nSome days all I want to do is sew and sew but in the absence of that, I give myself the gift of at least 15 minutes a day with my sewing machine.

10755786_1559162237653809_473843075_nSome days that means I only have time to clean out the lint and oil it,,,

10748072_454857501323519_276497927_nBut I have finished a few small projects ({Take Flight Art Smock} and {Sweet + Spooky Halloween Mini Quilt}) and made progress on several that have been sitting untouched since my last quilt retreat (in June or July?).

10724943_711571812258519_1448043671_nI do get to stare at this beautiful face every day, which makes up for all the sewing I’m missing.

DSC_8882-4-webIt’s a pretty fair trade.

Our Baby Girl

2014 is not going to be one of those years where I finish twenty or so quilts. Instead, Ill settle for just a few and our wonderful new baby girl.

photoHer name is Diana Caroline and she’s so smiley and sweet.  She is happy and demanding like a newborn should be and things are slowly, very slowly, getting back to a (new) normal around here.

Baby-DianaIt’s funny how I always want to sew the most when I have the least amount of time to do so. I’ve been spending lots of nursing hours with a sketchbook or iPhone in hand, making notes, to do lists, and calculating fabric yardage. Hopefully those things will make the transition from paper to fabric before too long.

New Patterns

I’ve taken a long break from pattern writing. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s more accurate to say that I’ve taken a long break from pattern finishing.  But now that I’ve reached the countdown phase of this pregnancy, I’m feeling anxious to get some sewing and such done! There are fewer than 8 weeks before we meet this little girl.

Of course, one of the patterns I’m working on is baby-related.  I’ll post again once I’ve got it finished and linked up on the shop. The others I’ve got in the works are quilts and a patchwork nap mat. I hope to get three released before baby with several more to come around Quilt Market. But whether I get them done or not, it’s fun to be sewing and writing again! I’ve missed it.

A Few of My Favorite Things

The coolest thing happened yesterday that brought several of my favorite things together: my dog Moose, midcentury modern design, and crewel. Sounds like a weird combination, huh? Let me explain.

I posted this photo of Moose to my Instagram account, hashtagging it with all sorts of things, including midcentury modern.

He’s resting his chin on one of my newly reupholstered midcentury modern walnut chairs (that particular one was free. Yes, FREE. I got it at a publisher’s warehouse off Industrial Blvd here in Dallas when they were moving to a new location. They also sold me a Jens Risom desk for $75.)

That photo was “liked” by Vladimir Kagan designs on Instagram. He is a well-known MCM furniture designer with some really beautiful pieces (and he also has a charming blog). I Googled him and read on his Wikipedia page that he was married to the late Erica Wilson, the goddess of the 1960s/1970s crewel revival. I’ve been obsessed with her kits and books for years.

I got such a kick out of the idea of these two creative people together and what a neat couple they must have been. I found a blog post with a tour of their home and he said that his favorite piece was the embroidered rocking chair that combines both of their work:

Image via sarahsarna.com

Now if only I could get a picture of Moose in that chair…

Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and GritsShrimp and grits is one of my favorite things to eat and to cook. It’s cheesy, salty, spicy, seafood-y goodness. But when I say recipe, I mean it in only the very loosest sense. I rarely follow actual recipes when I cook so everything is an approximation of how I make it.

A few tips:

  • Roast the tomatoes and garlic ahead of time and this dish takes only about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Do not add salt. Many of the ingredients are naturally salty and added salt will overpower all of the other flavors.

INGREDIENTS
For the Sauce:
2 medium tomatoes
1 head of garlic
Olive oil
1/2 lb sausage, finely chopped (Andouille or similar)
1/4 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
3/4 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Diced scallion or parsley for garnish

For the Grits:
1/2 cup uncooked grits
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice tomatoes into thick chunks and place on a baking sheet. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Remove the skin on the head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4″ to 1/2″ of the entire head. Place cut side up on the baking sheet and generously drizzle with olive oil. Roast tomatoes and garlic for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, puree tomatoes in food processor until smooth. Pop garlic gloves out of skin (pinch the bottoms they will pop right out) and finely chop.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausage. Toss in the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender. Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine. Let everything simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off.  Stir in the pureed roasted tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low. Add chicken broth if sauce is too thick. It should be a bit thinner than tomato soup.

In a separate saucepan, bring heavy cream and water to a boil. Add grits and cook over low heat with lid on for 12-14 minutes. Stir in cheeses and garlic once the grits are done.

While grits are cooking, add shrimp to the sauce and turn heat up to medium. Depending on the size, shrimp will need to simmer in the sauce about 5 to 7 minutes to be cooked through.

Serve hot with scallion and/or chopped parsley and Tabasco to taste if you want to add some heat..

 

My Studio: Looking Back

My sewing space is one of my favorite places to be. It has evolved over the years from a rarely used guest room to a full-blown quilting studio (the only thing missing is a long arm! Dear Santa…) It’s changed so much over a relatively short period of time that it’s hard to remember some of the phases I went through in organizing and decorating it. And there were many…

This year will make for a big change in our household with a fourth member joining our family and as nice as it would be to move to a bigger place, the reality in our housing market is very few properties selling in 2 or 3 days and renovations at nearly every price point.  After 8 years of constant projects (the first 4 years were filled with MAJOR projects like re-wiring the house and gutting the kitchen), I don’t have the heart or energy to renovate right now.  So what that means is less sewing room for me, I’ve been slowly making room by destashing and donating and reorganizing so that little miss can have a spot in my sewing studio. A nursery/sewing room seems like an odd combination but I think it will work out nicely. And honestly, it’s been rather liberating to whittle down my crafting supplies and fabric stash to the things I truly love.  My parents are coming to stay for a week soon to help me finish the transformation so I thought it would be fun to look back at the way it used to look around here…

2009 is the year I started quilting but my sewing space was mostly focused on home decor and garments.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

By 2010, you can see quilting has taken over..

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I changed things around a lot in 2010…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

And how it looked last time I took photos in here…

Aug-2012-04

This midcentury modern desk was a great addition to the space…I do miss it. I ended up selling it because it was so large.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Things were messy at times…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

A lot going on with that desk!

VMQ Studio Through the Years

But I loved this wall best with my cutting table…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

This corner of the room went from quite sad…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a pretty spot to hang out…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a fabric storage area…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Back to a pretty spot to hang out…and finally with matching drapes! Did you notice I could never seem to finish that yellow set from earlier photos?

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I wish I’d taken more pictures through the years, but it’s the kind of thing you just don’t think about. It will be fun to share again once I’ve finished the nursery side of the room. Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!

Simple Art from Bella Solids

Color cards for fabric solids become dated at some point…I’m on my third version of the Moda Fabrics Bella Solids color card. Now that I’m on this kick to clean out my sewing stuff, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the first one I bought in 2009.

Bella Solids

I hated to just throw it away though, so instead I trimmed some of the strips off and put them together into a little piece of art:

Bella Solids

I used a frame I already owned and some cardboard backing to glue the swatch strips on. That’s it! I’m thinking about hanging it in the nursery.

 

Future Quilter

This has definitely been one of those years where I’m so immersed in every day life that I am shocked when I look at the calendar and see days, weeks, and months flying by.  I’ve spent all of May obsessed with house projects and organizing and decluttering! I guess it’s what you’d call nesting…

Spring Cleaning

We are expecting a baby girl this fall (well, September, which is still summer here in Texas).  Isn’t that onesie the cutest thing? I bought it from Patchwork Threads.

A BIG part of my nesting has been a mission to declutter my sewing room. I did a huge destash sale this week. But honestly with Quilt Market going on this weekend and all of those tempting lovely new lines popping up all over social media, it’s going to be hard to keep things tidy in there. I’ll be back on Monday with a Moda market review post (I’m very excited about their fall 2014 lines!!!)

Hand Piecing = Slow Progress

I haven’t been doing much sewing lately but I did take my Green Tea and Sweet Beans project on a trip to my parents’ lake house a few weeks ago. Since it’s made for hand sewing,  GTSB is the perfect quilt for those times when I don’t want to or can’t bring a sewing machine.

2014-03-15_1394919001The arm of a sofa is the perfect work surface – add in a TV tray or a little end table and you’ve got it made. Don’t forget the coffee!

2014-03-23_1395604306

Garden Path block in progress above. Lots of y-seams but fun to sew. See one of my completed Garden Path blocks {here}.2014-03-18_13951034422014-03-19_1395247434 My GTSB quilt is primarily from a kit that I bought at QuiltCon. It’s been over a year now that I’ve been working on the quilt (in very small segments of time) and I’ve sadly realized that I don’t like many of the kit fabrics….at least not together. Only one or two of the prints in these blocks is from the kit. It’s a good thing I have so many scraps to add in so the final quilt will be to my taste.2014-03-19_1395247527 2014-03-19_1395247605See the rest of my blocks {here}.