Book Buying Habits

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When we got The Big Life Event started this summer, I knew I wanted to start buying actual physical books again. My friend Saremy introduced me to a great local bookshop downtown and I started saving up my amazon affiliate rewards to put towards books on my wishlist.

I always wanted my home to be filled with books but with limited space in my current situation, that wasn't an option at all. So I read a lot of eBooks & library books which was totally cool. But now I can get pretty books and display them! I've been obsessing over DIY bookshelves on Pinterest and coming up with all sorts ideas!

Typically when I decide I want a new book, I first visit my local bookshop. They have a membership card that is $18 a year and you get 10% off all your purchases. Which totally adds up because new releases are 20% off so with the card they are 30% off! Woo! Plus I'm in Chico once a week so I like popping in just to see what they recently got.  And if I can't get a book with them, I then try amazon. I typically receive (full disclosure time!) between $15-25 per month in amazon affiliate money. I get it in the form of a gift card so I can save up two months of affiliate money to qualify for free shipping. I am super appreciative of that book budget (thank you for clicking my links!) so today I wanted to share with you a super pretty book I got that you might like too!

I recently discovered Book Depository! I don't know if I'm just late to the party (probably!) but I thought I'd tell you about them!

I ordered a pink edition of FanGirl this summer after seeing it on Rainbow Rowell's tumblr. I absolutely freaking adored that book. And I liked having a special fancy copy of it. For some reason it made reading it extra special! It helped that Cath was quite possibly one of my favorite characters of all time too! The dust jacket comes off and has a dance party illustration on it!

Now I check and see if there are alternate versions with different covers or features on Book Depository before I purchase on Amazon. They have free world wide shipping which is surprisingly fast, I usually get my orders in 4-8 business days after I order. They are in the UK & I'm in California so that's not too shabby!

I found a copy of My True Love Gave To Me that blew me away! I don't know how but my copy arrived before the book was even released? It was a super surprise! I thought it was cute in the photos but when it arrived, my head almost exploded.

PINK EDGES! SHINY GOLD WRITING! BIG LIGHT BULBS ON THE END PAPERS! I love those big giant old fashioned Christmas lights. I totally forgot to take a photo for this post but each chapter contains a cute illustration. The first page I opened to had a cat on it, so naturally I was in love. BoarishReads, my bookish instagram account, has a photo here.

Even the US edition is adorable. I like those ice skaters a bunch. I feel like I recently saw flannel sheets somewhere with ice skaters on them but now I can't for the life of me remember where!

I haven't actually READ this book yet, so I'm simply gushing that it's SUPER pretty. I can't tell you about the content but it's all of my favorite authors (Holly Black, Jenny Han, Laini Taylor, etc) writing short winter themed romances. It sounds really cute but I'm waiting to read it until it's actually Christmas/Winter. I like to read books that take place in the season I'm experiencing. Is that weird?

Here are three other books I got to read in November/December. They are either on order from amazon or I'm on the hold list at the library.

I'm currently reading The Young Elites, I somehow was the first person on the hold list at the library and it came on Friday. One thing I like about our library is if our branch doesn't have a book, it will arrive on a Friday from an alternate branch.

It feels funny to be talking about Christmas/Winter before Halloween but I'm feeling inspired by it right now. Ashleigh & I spent the past two months designing and stitching a new club, Christmas Celebration Sampler that matches Halloween Spooky Sampler. I'm just SUPER into it. We basically took everything Christmas & pushed it to the max! It spells out Christmas with the best little designs, she made a Mrs. Claus that is so sweet. As a personal project, I'm currently stitching one of the blocks from Christmas Celebration Sampler with some silk from Dragonflylotus Designs for a bookmark.

Last weekend was Fiber-Fusion and it was SO much fun! Our booth came out really cute!! And I got to meet a Yak so that was neat! The booth across from us totally had me obsessed, it was a local woman who raises sheep. She had baskets of fleece, big wool blankets she knit and was explaining the sheep to yarn process. She spun and chatted and I adored watching her spin. Like, I'd find myself creepily staring at her for 5 or so minutes because it was so relaxing! She was using the prettiest Ashford wheel. I learned to spin briefly in college and was quite terrible at it but watching her this weekend + seeing all the amazing Spinzilla posts on instagram has me thinking a lot about it. She teaches classes and I think it would be really neat to give it a second try. I might have room for a wheel? I don't think it would be hard on my hands like knitting? I'd definitely have to save up for one but it looks like a really neat craft. And I love seeing all the pretty indie dyed fiber. I just don't know if I'd feel guilty spinning yarn but being unable to knit with it?

I hope your week is going well :):):)

Books I Read In January:

I loooove to read. It's my favorite thing to do before bed! I'll admit right off the bat that I am *not* a discriminating reader. I just want entertainment and a little escape. I don't read serious books, mostly because life is too serious already!

Here are some books I read in January:

  • Faceless Killers: A Mystery. I super loved this one, I absolutely love the Wallander series on PBS and reading the books is nice because they are subtly different than the show. I think I read the other two after this one but I don't think I noted it on goodreads. I'll figure this out and report back. Either way, it's a great dark series.
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer & The Evolution of Mara Dyer. This is a pretty decent YA series. Entertaining and I know I'll read the next in the series but I sort of felt like it got a little repetitive towards the end.
  • Crescendo. Meh. I sort of think I'm over this series but I'm weird and feel like I HAVE to finish a series unless it's absolutely dreadful.
  • Firelight. This is one kindle had on sale for $2.99 and I got it on a whim. I really liked it, I spent the majority of the book wondering what on earth was the genre of the book! Mystery? Romance? Historical? Paranormal? I don't know but I enjoyed the heck out of it! I looked forward to reading before bed.
  • Moonglow. The second in the Darkest London series...I couldn't get into it. I liked Firelight much more!
  • Ever After. OH YES. My favorite book of the month. Love love love! I feel like Rachel totally grows as a character in this book and it has a LOT of Trent! woo woo!!! By the last chapter I was both SO EXCITED, SLIGHTLY SAD but also OMG RACHEL YOU ARE SO MATURE! I sort of want to re-read the series from the beginning now!

What did you read in January?!

 

 

Candy Cane Socks: Done!

I finished my Candy Cane Socks on Saturday!

I'm super pleased with how they came out, the yarn is so soft and they fit great.

I used this tutorial for a picot bind off and it was super easy but...I'm pretty sure I should have done a hemmed picot. I'm afraid in the future the tops might roll down a little bit. I might weave some elastic in later on, so far I've worn them with no problems!

I'm in love with how peppermint bark knit up, it's the prettiest yarn! I love how Cakewalk feels after blocking, it gets super smooth and drape-y, very soft! Also, I love watching the speckles form as I'd knit.

I started a new pair of socks this week, these are just plain socks with a slip stitch heel. I tried Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind off for the first time & I really like it! Normally for socks I do a sewn bind off but it leaves the top of the sock kind of wrinkly looking, which isn't a big deal but I like how smooth this looks! I'm not 100% sure I did it right but I like the results!

I'm using a yarn I bought last spring called Cozy Toes by LushMommy, it's very pretty! It's interesting to see how different hand painted yarn knits up, the second sock looks nothing like the first one!

I really want to knit more "plain" socks this winter, I have two pairs right now that I wear all the time, Harry Potter & Mansfield's Garden Party.

I also decided to treat myself to a pair of  size 1 Signature Needle Arts circulars for Christmas. The candy cane socks are the 14th (!!) pair of socks I knit since last December so I thought I deserved a really primo pair of needles. They haven't shipped yet but I'm crossing my fingers that they are amazing. I got them monogrammed with Mrs. McPorkchop, because seriously, monogrammed knitting needles?! Get out of town. Adorable.

If you are looking for a good book series, I've been *loving* this one, I've come down with a hardcore cold or the beginnings of the flu, yesterday I laid on the couch & devoured the first two books and I think I'm 45% through the 3rd?! Very good & creepy.

:):):)

Kawaii Winter Sampler Progress

I've been slowly but steadily working on my Kawaii Winter Sampler. I ran out of the gray floss and then I started working on the frames of Woodland Sampler. But I'm hoping to finish this up by January 1st. I'm crossing my fingers I can frame it super cutely myself! I bought some glitter spray that is supposed to be archival and fabric safe, I'd love to give it a good glittering!

It's been crazy awesome to watch people work on their winter samplers the past month on Instagram, everyone is doing an awesome job on it! Quite a few people have finished (amazing!) and they are starting on second ones to give as gifts next winter (omg!).

Just when I think Winter Sampler is the cutest thing ever, I see the charts and finished stitches of Woodland Sampler and I kind of die. Cross stitching = perfect winter craft! One thing I can't do is cross stitch in the car. I can knit, I can read but cross stitching..oi. Not good. I either count incorrectly or feel sick to my stomach. It's only an "at home on the couch" kind of craft for me! Which is a-ok with me, any excuse to sit on the couch and be cozy is perfect! ;)

Aurifil Designer of the Month Wrap Up!

I can't believe this month wraps up the 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month project!

Here is December's Block from Lizzie B Cre8tive!

Here is November's Block from Erin Cier!

Here is my contribution, October! Eep!

The designers did a blog hop with Christmas ornaments, unfortunately I couldn't take part in due to personal reasons but the designs are SO cute!!!

Thank you so much Pat & Alex for inviting me to take part in this project with the other talented folks! I can't wait to see the finished quilt :):)

June Aurifil Designer of the Month

Oh boy. This month's Aurifil Designer of the Month is one of my favorite people EVER. PKM! PamKittyMorning!!!

Here's what PKM & I have in common: We love gobblers (the sandwich) We love stitching! We love kawaii We love car trips We love Haven

I have a truly LOVELY photo of PKM & I from last summer that I'm debating posting but I'm pretty sure she'll murder me if I do. It might be snuck in this post later today ;)

Anyways, she is a gem. And she doesn't live TOO far away from me. AND! She designs super super super pretty fabric!

Hope on over to Auriful's blog to learn more about my friend PKM and stitch up her block (uhh how cute is it that she found matching clips?!) and post the block to Aurifil's flickr group & you can win thread! Score!

Aurifil 2012: March!

Oh yes! It's March which means it's a new month in the quilt-a-long!

I have to say, I really love how unique each designer is in this group. I love reading about each one, how they work & what inspired their blocks. One thing I've noticed is everyone (so far!) learned to stitch when they were young! I only learned handwork 5-6 years ago! I wish I had the years of skills these ladies have! Look how perfect that chain stitch is (I'm pretty sure it's called chain stitch?!)

My favorite part is looking at other people's work spaces. Look at Victoria's! It's incredible. Look at all those windows! eep!

Don't forget that if you stitch along and enter into the flickr pool you can win $100 of aurifil threads! yahoo!!!

And! Victoria runs a charity quilt group, which I'm keeping bookmarked. I donated my first 5 quilts to various charities & I'm always on the look out for more to give things too!

March is already amazingly crazy fun! The Pumpkin's are hard at work and we've released a new pattern on facebook only! It's a cute March themed one, swing by and check it out!

I have 3 WIPs this month, I'll blog about them later this week! And I might review a pattern I've recently made. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to review a pattern but it might be fun to share some of my thoughts with you!

I had plans of running errands this morning, I woke up seeing sunshine & I thought...ICED COFFEE. Then I stepped outside, 30 mph winds and it's 42 degrees. Haha! I think I'll be working at home & drinking something warm. Spring fever is playing tricks with me! ;)

Making Marmalade

Marmalade is one of my favorite jams. It's the best way to use up some big oranges and a fun morning in the kitchen.

I think marmalade is pretty beginner friendly, there is no added pectin. It's a lot of hands off time, letting the fruit cook down and caramelize slightly in the pan. I like making it because the yield is pretty high, it's super bright & summer-y in the jar and I can do other things while it's softly boiling- like laundry or emails.

Recipe: as adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (if you are thinking about canning, get this book! no seriously! right away!)

Yield: 8 half pints

2 1/4 lbs oranges, unpeeled but scrubbed clean. grated zest and juice of a lemon 6 cups of water 9 cups bakers sugar (This is just extra fine sugar, I find it dissolves better in jam) 1/2 cup honey

optional: vanilla bean paste and vanilla vodka for an orange creamsicle marmalade 2 habanero chili peppers and a dash of red pepper flakes for a spicy marmalade

Wash your jars in hot soapy water, then place them in a water canner with at least an inch and a half of water covering the jars. Do not use them straight out of the package. Set the canner on the stove to boil, set the lids and rings in a small sauce pan on the stove in simmering warm water. Don't boil the rings and lids. I always sterilize a few extra jars, just in case!

Put 4-5 metal spoons in your freezer.

Using either a very sharp knife or a mandolin slice your oranges with the peel on very thin (1/8th to a 1/4 inch thickness) and remove the seeds.

Zest your lemon.

Combine lemon zest, oranges, juice of the lemon and the water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower it to a gentle boil. This means the bubbles are there but it's not a crazy rolling boil. Once it starts to gently boil, set a timer for 40 minutes. During this time I like to stir occasionally, check my email, do laundry, etc. But keep in mind that you are COOKING. Don't abandon your oranges completely or they'll scorch, especially if you are using a thin metal pot.

During the gentle boil your fruit will start to turn a light yellowish orange and fall apart. This is good!

After 40 minutes, feel free to spice things up by adding some habanero chili peppers or dried red pepper flakes.

Set a timer for another 30 minutes and partially cover. You'll keep boiling gently but really keep an eye on it. The fruit is starting to break down a lot now, the peels will start to break. I like to press them against the pan every so often, if they fall apart easily, I know I'm getting close to done. Plus I prefer smaller peel bits in my marmalade.

I know, 40 minutes and another 30 minutes of cooking. You are feeling like this is a long time right? Nope! It's what gives marmalade it's deep taste and characteristic darker bright orange color.

After your 30 minute timer goes off, it's GO TIME. If you've added peppers, remove them now.

Add 9 cups of sugar, a little at a time, mixing well. I pre-measure out the 9 cups so I'm not digging around in the sugar bin. Keep the jam boiling and set a timer for 15 minutes, this is what causes the marmalade to thicken- the super rolling boil and the sugar. Towards the end I add the honey. During the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, grab the cold spoons from the freezer and dip them in the marmalade. This is called doing a sheet test. You want the marmalade to come off the spoon in a sheet, not single drops. Drops mean the marmalade is still too liquid-y and needs to keep cooking.

At this point, it's easy to get overwhelmed, the mixture is at a rolling boil, your stirring often so it doesn't burn, it's foaming, but don't worry. It really does take 15 minutes to gel, sometimes longer. I was at 19 minutes before I got a nice sheet off my spoon. I also keep a thermometer in the pot, 220 degrees is generally when it thickens, but if you are at high or low altitude this temperature will be different. Let the fruit cook, it will foam and that's ok! If you get overwhelmed and are concerned about burning it, keep in mind that there is NOTHING wrong with marmalade that is slightly runny. It makes excellent marinade for chicken, fish, duck, pork...really anything. Plus of course on top of ice cream and in oatmeal.

Once your fruit has reached gel point, take it off the stove and start filling jars!

If you want to make a creamsicle jam- stir in 2 TBL vanilla bean paste and 2 TBL vanilla vodka to the marmalade. It's pretty swoon worthy!

You'll need 1/4 inch headspace, make sure you remove any air bubbles from the jars and wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel. Put the lid and band on the jar, place the jar back in the canner. Once the water starts boiling again, set a timer for 10 minutes to process. Once the timer is done, lift the lid and let the jars set for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool undisturbed. If you have any jars that haven't sealed, either reprocess or put in the fridge to use within a month.

That's it! Not too bad right? You can find the original recipe here but buy the book! It's so good and my copy is well loved and used.

so now you HAVE to make marmalade. And give it to friends! or be a meanie like me & hoard it ;)

{*~Swoon!~*}

 

SWOON!!!!!

In case you missed the memo, I'm obsessed with Halloween. OBSESSED. It's my most favorite holiday ever. Chop & I got married the day before. I love all the decorations, the cuteness, the spookiness, the macabre. Black & Orange. Burgundy and Brown. It's just an amazing day. Actually, the entire month of October is super fun. I think instead of being an August baby, I was actually an October baby. I adore pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes (best!), baking, leaves, cool evenings but warm days, remembering trips to VT with my grandparents to be a "leaf peeper"!

When I first saw Swoon in some Quilt Market tweets, I knew I had to make it. It just had to happen. In all honesty, I'm not a "full size" quilt maker. I don't feel the need to make dozens of bed quilts or throws, I'm very much a mini quilt maker. I like little every day patchwork or very long term big quilt projects like Farmer's Wife. But this pattern was so so so so great, very traditional but very fresh at the same time.

I've been hoarding a fq bundle of Riley Blake's Boo to You for a year. I'm not really a fabric hoarder, it's not really my nature. It's funny, people hoard Heather Ross, Denyse Schmidt, Erin Michaels...me? Halloween fabric. Yup. Kind of dorky!

When I saw Riley Blake came out with Trick or Treat, I knew I had to just GIT R DONE (yup. I went there! ;)) So Chop got me some for my birthday and the rest is history! There were a few agonizing moments, like when I realized an online fabric shop shorted me on my background fabric (Kona Ash for the blocks!)! Tracey (hi friend!) saved my butt by letting me borrow some Moda Gray and I REALLY like that it's two neutrals.

Right now the quilt is at Butte County Fairgrounds for the fair at the end of the month. One of my hugest pet peeves is when bloggers say they go to quilt shows and don't see anything "modern" or "fresh" or "young", well duh! We have to get off our quilter butts & ENTER these things! So then other folks will enter and it'll start a good circle of inspiration! ;)

I've never been a "competitive quilter", last fall I entered a mug rug into a Halloween contest and lost..haha. One night on twitter Shari suggested I enter it into the Riley Blake Contest and I decided, what the heck! First the fair, then this contest!

But the total best part? I have a giant freaking HALLOWEEN QUILT FOR MY BED!!!! I can't WAIT to get it back at the end of the month, wash it, crinkle it and sleep under it. It's totally my pride and joy and my special little heirloom quilt! I just need to pick matching fabric for some new pillowcases...hmmm. And bunting. And maybe a mini quilt from my scraps.

I'm spending the week getting caught up on my Farmer's Wife blocks, preparing for my canning class on Saturday and trying to recover from being sick. I attempted to go to the gym this weekend and lasted 15 minutes (instead of 45 :/) on the treadmill. I'm going to yoga this morning and hopefully I won't die.

OH! AND! Guess what guys? I am making a SKIRT. And it FITS! I had to run out and get a zipper last night, I should finish it this week. I've never invisible zippered before! This is a total learning experience but my crazy hard work at the gym has paid off. A pattern I would have had to alter to fit I was able to sew straight out of the package with no adjustments. o m g!

okok. I'll let you guys know when voting starts!!!! I'm going to be chatting more about the pattern and my wonderful quilter in the upcoming weeks too! AND!!! Angela finished her Swoon too and wowzers, it's a beauty!!!!

see you soon!

xo

 

ps: Thanks Chop for helping me find the best spot in downtown Gridley for our quilt shoot. You have the patience of a saint. ;) <3

{*~All in a Row~*}

 

Well my birthday was yesterday! As soon as my birthday has come and gone, it's a sign that autumn is on the approach. I've been feeling a little under the weather, I thought maybe I was just tired but now I think know I have a stomach bug. Lame! But I spent the morning unpacking a little box of autumn decorations and found my All in a Row table runner!

I forgot how much I loved sewing this! It's so fun & easy, I'm thinking about maybe shrinking the foundation patterns and making a mini All in a Row! That would be cute right?

My version is made with scraps and linen, but imagine how cute it would be in linen and solids? Or hand dyed fabrics? Or all different polka dots and stripes?

I got a few pieces of autumn scrapbook paper this weekend, I have no idea why I love scrapbook paper so much. I buy it and then wish it was fabric ;) I saw this cute pin & thought today I might recover some old cans that we haven't had a chance to recycle.

Today I got my copy of The Farmer's Wife Pony Club from Laurie! She sent Angela & I copies of it, how kind was that? I'm for sure going to start this quilt ASAP, keeping with the scrappy theme. We've been talking about starting a quilt a long for it, I'll let you know what we come up with. The blocks are bigger (8 inches finished), it's a mix of templates, rotary cutting directions and foundation piecing. I wish I could have a won a pony to be completely honest. I'm planning on curling up on the couch with this book, some gatorade and a quilt.

But first..a sneak peek!

AHUH! I'm pretty much dying of excitement! Lindsay is seriously incredible & I can't wait to introduce this quilt and her amazing quilting job to you guys!

Some fun stuff:

Have a good Tuesday!

{*~What's Up!~*}

I've been doing some rad stuff lately and thought I'd blog about it today!

Last night was Toby Keith & Eric Church. Seriously AWESOME!!!!!! Eric Church was PHENOM and TK was just as amazing. We spent the night being COLD and cuddling on the lawn and listening to great music. We are on a strict budget but we got Groupons for $20 for $40 of tickets! How great is that?!

I've done some fun canning lately, I can't remember what I told you guys I did last, so here's a run down.

  • Peach Pie Filling (Ball Complete pg: 175- My changes: used cider vinegar, no apples, vanilla bean paste, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and fresh ginger)
  • Spiked Cherries (Ball Complete pg: 155- My changes: soaked the cherries in vanilla bean paste and coconut emulsion, used Captain Morgan's Rum)
  • Zesty Peach BBQ sauce (Ball Complete pg:263- My changes: used Sand Dune honey which is really neat, extra garlic and a big dash of cinnamon. I grew the onion and for some reason every few onions I pick are CRAZY spicy but it's GOOD. The sweetness is followed by a dash of heat and then the taste of garlic. VERY good!)
  • Strawberry Lemon Marmalade (Better Homes & Gardens Canning Magazine, pg: 19. This one didn't set up well so it's more like thick liquid strawberry sauce. I put it on some chicken breasts, grilled them, sliced them & added them to a salad and they were GREAT!)

 

We've had a weird summer weather wise here. Normally from July until late August we have a LOT of days of 95-115 degrees. We've had like, 4? It's been REALLY mild. My amish paste tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. I put all my tomatoes in the soil too early and they got early blight. But I kept pruning them and feeding them so they are ok and GIANT. Fact: If you use a nitrogen based fertilizer, they will grow lots and lots of foliage but few fruits. SO! Once I cut back on feeding them, they now have TONS of tomatoes on the vine. I think right now I have about 15-25 lbs of tomatoes. I'm hoping they all ripen at once because my mom gave me the Kitchen Aid food mill attachment for my birthday! (and sausage and pasta maker!) I'm going to can tomato sauces. We have 7 plants so I think it'll be PERFECT for canning.

It was also a bad idea to put corn next to them, my corn now has crazy purple streaks running through it because of a lack of phosphate! Our squash is doing great, our pumpkin has BIG blossoms on it, we have a tiny little sugar baby watermelon on the plant, three artichokes, four bell peppers and no matter what I do, our kale just keeps going and going and going!

Now that I'm feeling pretty good about my gardening skills, Chop & I spent a Saturday morning at Ace Hardware planning, they had the entire store 25% off so I got a few cases of canning jars and we got some seeds and this little seedling home! It's essentially a plastic planter with a lid to sprout seeds, it was like $6 before the discount and we have a TON of stuff in there...imagine my surprise when I SAW WE HAVE SEEDLINGS!  These are winter squash and ice burg lettuce! Western Gardening Guide says we are in Zone 8, which means we can basically have food gardens year round! I'm hoping I can grow greens because that's the majority of our grocery bill. We spend a LOT on lettuce, spinach and broccoli.

So you know I co-own The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery so I'm REALLY into cross stitch but I rarely get to sit and stitch. One of my autumn craft goals was to learn to stitch on linen. I learned to cross stitch on aida and I know how to use waste canvas, but linen seemed impossibly hard. I struggle with counting on aida. Kristi & Pam have been AMAZING and just told me to BUCK UP and try it. And guess what?

I FREAKING LOVE IT!!!! Linen is WAY easier than aida! It's like you naturally know where to stitch next. I love it so much that, no joke, I had to lock my hoop & supplies in the car because all I wanted to do was stitch and I had work I had to do.

I treated myself to an early birthday gift of new floss! Now that theworkroom has an online shop, I can just buy x amount of each color of cosmo floss and it comes cutely wrapped. Not too expensive presents that are an instant cheer up! I got a color card and I keep a mark on it of each color I have, I almost bought a palette from the shop but realized I already owned 75% of the colors. Ha! Then! Chop laminated my current project's chart! So I can write on it with a dry erase marker! I love it! I'm currently stitching this one! I want to stitch EVERYTHING Barbara Ana designs! Kristi & Pam also got me interested in Weeks Dye Works floss, oh boy. What a dangerous rabbit hole that is. But Pam sent me some and I heard a rumor I have a package from Kristi on the way ;)

This past week I went to Tracey's house and sewed for a bit. She made me lunch and I chatted with her adorable son. We live close to each other as far as the crow flies but road wise it's about 30 minutes. I love the drive to her house, rice and ag fields nonstop! I rummaged through her E P I C stash and convinced her to cut me some bits and pieces for Farmer's Wife Blocks! She's the BEST! I'm going to have to return the favor. This totally shows how amazing she is. I've been giving her jams and stuff I've canned and a few weeks ago I was complaining on facebook how people never give the jars back (I have someone who seriously has 12 jars!) and it was partly joking because obviously I don't mind a jar or two. Well, she bought a case of jars and gave me some! How great is that?!

That's a LOT in one post! But that's whats going on! It's my birthday on Monday so I'm leaving! I'll be back on Tuesday with my Farmer's Wife Blocks!

xo

a

ps: I want this so bad for my birthday!

{*~Winner & a view from Porkchop Acres~*}

 

I should be showing you my Farmer's Wife blocks but instead I'm showing you my farm. Kind of. This is tomato-town. Monica has started calling my garden, Porkchop Acres. I'm going with it.

Fact: Our Amish Paste tomatoes look like fat chili peppers and my favorite snack is a weird little all natural chocolate pudding cup with a tablespoon of maple almond butter mixed in. Weird but true!

Let's get to the winner!

Chop & I put everyone's name in a hat and he picked Kait!

Kait said:

"This sounds like some great software and I am so glad you can get it for Macs!  I currently just try to keep all the pertinent info in Flickr and my blog.  My boyfriend is a web programmer and we talked for a while about building me a website to take care of all this stuff but I ultimately wanted too much from it for the time he had to give.  That's all I'd say about this software (though I completely agree with your one complaint), that I'd like to be able to put the info online so I could access it from anywhere, like my smart phone while at the fabric shop.  Thanks for the review Amanda!"

I'm so thankful for everyone who came by and read my review! I was excited to review something that hasn't been reviewed a zillion times and I wanted to be completely honest with you guys. I'm not really a "super blogger" but maybe my review helped you? I know I liked reading all your comments about how you organize your WIPs. Wouldn't it be great if quilters had a ravelry?!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to fall asleep at my laptop, I've started doing TRX training at the gym & it's kicking my BUTT.  Chop & I are going to see Toby Keith & Eric Church tomorrow night as an early birthday gift!!!! I'm REALLY excited but I have a ton of work to do still. : / Eek! Not to mention 9 lbs of peaches hanging out ripening and begging to be canned! I'd be completely lying if I said I wasn't stressed out right now. I totally am. I'm trying to embrace busy is good. Thankfully yesterday I had a few hours of fun time with Tracey!

I'll be back soon with this weeks Farmer's Wife block! In the meantime, say hi to Ang and tell her how awesome her blocks are! They look so graphic and bold this week! And that shot of all her blocks together? AWESOME! And be sure to see Grumpkin the Pumpkin, a little embroidery pattern I designed for the super cute blog, We Love French Knots! Thanks for inviting me Bari!

xo

{*~Quilt Album Software Review *edited!*~*}

I love being organized. I feel like everything in my life runs much smoother when I know where I'm at in all my projects.

One thing I'm absolutely NOT is tech savvy. If you've ever visited The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, you'll see super cute icons, logos, cross stitch patterns...tons of computer illustrated goodness. And that's not me. That's my amazingly talented business partner, Ashleigh. I'm lucky if I can edit photos some days.

So when Pat asked me if I'd review Quilt Album software, I was hesitant. I wasn't sure I'd be able to figure it out and I like to keep my blog very ad-free. You won't see a zillion giveaways, sponsored blog posts, etc here. I'm just a girl who loves to sew & stitch and share those things with you! Plus I'd be really embarrassed if I couldn't figure it out.

I forwarded Pat's email to Chop who told me to give it a try and he'd help me. And I am SO hooked. I'm really glad she invited me and he told me to buck up.

Here's my completely unedited review. I did get the software for free and I was invited by Pat. So there is that to keep in mind!

It's available for instant download which is AWESOME. I'm realizing now I hate waiting for stuff in the mail. It's $29.95 which to me, is something I'd pay for. I was kind of using open office, EQ7 & flickr to keep track of projects and it wasn't working out, with QuiltAlbum, everything is in one spot and easy to search. Flickr is $25 for ONE year. So add another $5 as a one time fee for permanent software that will never expire. That is awesome. Flickr can sometimes get cranky or you have to set things to private, then you have albums, sets, collections...too much! At least for me. This is easy, enter in a quilt name and you can put EVERYTHING in one section.

QuiltAlbum is REALLY easy to use. Even for a bad computer user like me. In an hour I entered all my Farmer's Wife blocks, two quilts I designed in EQ, 3 mini quilts and some fabric bundle ideas. That is AWESOME!

You can drag and drop photos into the album. I'm always making fabric piles of "quilt ideas". I added a few photos of these stacks with quilt block ideas. This way if I'm ever thinking, "hey, I'd like to try something new", I can just look through my album, see bundles of fabric I already put together and LOVE, some blocks ideas and VOILA! Ready to go! This is going to be really handy for days when I'm "cleaning" up my sewing room and finding fat quarters and falling back in love with them. One snapshot on my phone, upload later that night with a note to use this fabric in a new quilt, bada bing, stored in the computers memory, not mine. And it might help with all the piles of fabric everywhere so I don't "forget which colors I liked". ;)

Here are some things you can add to your quilt album:

  • project title
  • the date you started/finished
  • who designed the pattern
  • who quilted the quilt
  • what type of batting you used (I LOVE this one, I like to try different varieties often and this way I can keep try of what quilted & washed up best!)
  • quilt construction. So for example, I used Y seams for the first time in a block, I made a note of that.
  • quilting method- I liked this a lot too because I could write, free motion quilted with a different foot or used walking foot with yada yada stitch length.

And then there is a large section for notes. Cool right?

I also took a photo of each of my sewing machines, inserted in when I bought them (in the quilt started area), when I had them serviced (in the notes) and if I noticed anything weird lately (also in the notes).

So I'm REALLY enjoying this software. I'm thinking of it as a virtual sewing organizational kit. Lots of space but not so much that I feel overwhelmed and annoyed. I loaded it on our netbook because I like to keep it next to me when I sew because it's small, although it is available for Mac's (yipee!) so I'll probably install it on there as well. I'm not sure if you can have two different computers sync up and have the quilt same info on both laptops. That would be GREAT.

The one thing I didn't like and some of you might think this is silly, it's the font/color scheme. Maybe I'm used to macs where the layout is very clean and crisp. The navy blue, hot pink and purple just seemed dated and stale to me. It doesn't deter me from using it but I'd love it in neutrals. I'm afraid some people might be turned off by the logo/colors and think it was too fuddyduddy and not want to try it out and that's a bummer! Maybe it could be freshened up?!

Either way, I'd buy this software and I like that it replaces flickr, open office and random sheets of scribble paper. It feels GOOD to have everything handy in ONE computer program and then later on when I want to blog/flickr about something, I have all the info in ONE area, I don't have to hunt around to remember who designed something or try to guess the measurements!

If you'd like to win a copy of QuiltAlbum, leave a comment telling me how you currently organize your quilt projects. Don't leave some silly comment like "hi, nice blog post, enter me, k thanks bye". You won't be entered because you gotta answer the question, that's the law around these parts ;) !!! I want to know how YOU organize stuff. I'll announce a winner on Wednesday when I blog my farmers wife block! Sound good? Good!

Thanks for reading my review & see you on Wednesday!

Hi everyone! thanks for your comments! If you get a chance, check out Jim's comment:

"I noticed a lot of mention of flickr. Well, you can post your complete album online on flickr, facebook and any other online photo place that you can post jpg’s. You can also post your complete album onto an iPad or Color Nook. The album page will not only have your quilt picture, but all of the information about your quilt. See an album on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/quiltalbum/sets/72157625012753649/show/"

That's CRAZY AWESOME! I'm excited to give it a try! Thanks Jim!

{*~Farmer's Wife Quilt A Long Week 9~*}

Hi friends!

Week 9! Exciting!!!!!! This week I truly felt like a farmers wife, spent my very early mornings in the kitchen canning and gardening! Yesterday I scored peaches and peppers for peach bbq sauce!

I had SO much fun with these blocks. You'll notice I have three instead of two. It's my goal to embroider one of the months blocks with the month and year and all my blocks this month had no room for embroidery! So I took next weeks block, Churn Dash and did it this morning. Next week I'll just show you one block, checkerboard.

Last week Pam suggested I name my Farmer's Wife Quilt "Dear Porkchop" and I'm feeling pretty dang good about that. Or maybe The Farmer Porkchop's Quilt. Lots of people ask if we call Porkchop, Porkchop in real life and the answer is YES. Although it's shortened to Chop. His real name is Eric. I don't change his name in the "blog world" to protect his privacy, it's literally what we call him! When he calls my phone his caller ID is "Mr. McPorkchop"..although I'm thinking about changing it to his newest nickname, GrumpChop. We tease him that he's constantly Grumpy (not really) so GrumpChop is his new name.

Anyways! Blocks!

Block # 17: Cats & Mice

Cats & Mice had to be made with cat and mouse fabric. So I fussy cut up some Munki Munki pj pieces that I bought from Kerri a while ago. My favorite is the little fat yellow cat, he looks exactly like my moms grumpy (actually grumpy) cat, Simon. This was one of those blocks where the flickr group came in SO handy, I am foundation piecing my blocks and for this one, its set up with a Y seam. I couldn't tell if it was right or not, posted it to the group and everyone helped! I ended up learning how to do Y seams! So that was exciting!

Fabrics:

  • Munki Munki
  • Lecien Minny Mui Mice

 

#18: Century of Progress

This block has been in my mind since starting the QAL. I kept wondering if it was a ferris wheel for the World's Fair and again, flickr to the rescue! Laurie answered me and I knew I had to make a night time ferris wheel. So in my mind, it's evening, there are fireworks and your sitting on a bright shiny ferris wheel watching everything and eating a corn dog k?

Fabrics used:

  • Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy
  • Jay McCarroll Habitat
  • Tula Pink Prince Charming

#20: Churn Dash

I cleaned up my scraps again this morning and came across all these little bits of favorite fabrics, I think this might be my favorite block so far because it's very much my favorite colors (autumn-y!). This is my embroidered block of the month with July 2011 on it! The only tricky thing about using the tiniest of scraps is sometimes I have to finagle things to make them work so sometimes my blocks aren't perfect! (OMG BAD QUILTER!!!! ;))

Fabrics Used:

Phew! Three blocks! It's starting to take over my design wall and I love it!

Here are some things you should check out:

  • Angela's Blocks OBVIOUSLY because she is the BEST and my partner in Farmer Wifedom!
  • The flickr group (758 members!) Remember, THERE IS NO SUCH THING IS LATE! It's go at YOUR own pace!
  • Chris's post on foundation piecing! Perfect for FW blocks if you are struggling with templates!
  • Pat asked me if I'd review QuilterAlbum software, so on Monday I'll be blogging about it.
  • If your into ecofriendly goods for ladies, modernacorn has some new stuff!
  • I can't decide if I want to cross stitch this cat or this witch-y mummy!
  • Lizzy has new embroidery patterns that are SLAYING me. I feel like this fall I'm going to huddle on the couch working on hand projects!

okok! I'll be back again with some tales from the kitchen and garden! See you then!

 

xo

 

{*~Summer Canning Update~*}

 

I wish last summer I'd kept track of exactly what I canned. So my goal this summer is to blog a little bit more about what I'm canning. I entered 8 jars of goodies into the Butte County Fair for the last weekend in August and I'm SO excited! I could win $4 and a ribbon! I'd seriously die of happiness. Not joking at ALL.

Last summer I canned a lot. I made everything; mustard, BBQ sauce, giant jars of marinara, cranberry relish, jams, compotes and butters. I used primarily the Ball Complete Book of Canning and I found it was great! Tons of info, recipes, troubleshooting, etc. A few months ago I got a copy of Better Homes & Gardens Canning Magazine at Raley's and I LOVE IT. So far everything I've canned this summer has been from recipes there.

Here's what I've made so far:

  • 11 jars of Strawberry Lemon Marmalade
  • 8.5 jars of Blackberry Lime Freezer Jam (love this but learned I HATE the Ball Plastic Freezer Jars. The lids pop off too easy and they feel flimsy. I'll stick with glass)
  • 8 jars of Vanilla Peach Honey Butter
  • 10 jars of Peach Bellini Jam

Here is what I have left of the stuff from this summer so far, not pictured is the freezer jam because it's in our deep freezer and I'm lazy ;)

We have incredibly hard water. I leave the jars like this in our pantry because I don't really care what they look like but if I'm giving them as a gift or for the fair I take the tiniest bit of olive oil on a paper towel and rub the jars and lids. Voila! No more stains!

 

Cool right? Last summer I was incredibly generous with my canned goods, I was giving jars to EVERYONE and leaving very little for us. This year I'm still being generous but making sure we have enough. And I'm only giving stuff to people who pinkie swear to give me the jars back. I know that sounds silly but since we live in a tiny town, running up to the hardware store for jars & bands can get annoying.

So from last summer, here's what I have left in our pantry:

  • 2 jars of carrot cake compote
  • 4 giant jars of marinara
  • 2 small jars of pizza sauce
  • 2 jars of salsa
  • 1 big jar of BBQ sauce...I'm going to cry when I use this up because it is like HEAVEN
  • 1 jar lemon prune butter
  • 2 jars vanilla plum sauce. This was my third batch of the summer. It basically is like the greatest thing on earth
  • 11 jars of cranberry relish
  • 1 jar sweet mustard

That's AWESOME! My favorite part was in January opening a jar of sauce to make pizza and it smelled INCREDIBLE and tasted GREAT! In January! No hothouse grossness! I planned our entire garden around things I could can. Did I tell you guys we have two artichokes on our plant? So awesome but it is currently being ransacked by aphids, I'm on a mission to destroy them. I was hoping my basil would do better, it's half dead, I'm hoping my mom has a good basil plant this year so I can steal some to make freezer pesto.

Ok, so on August 20th, if you are in the Redding, California area, I'll be teaching a canning class at That Kitchen Place ! I'd love it if some blog friends came by!!!

Today I'm labeling all those jars with these new spiffy labels I got yesterday at Target:

Cool right?

Have a great weekend!!!!

xo

{*~Peeptastic Patchwork Pouch~*}

 

 

Yay!!!

Happy Summer Camp Day!!!!

I'm going to show you how to make a Peeptastic Patchwork Pouch! It's a simple drawstring bag to hold all of your summer treasures. 1001 Peeps has the best narrative quality, so perfect for summer day dreams of far off lands and fussy cutting!

peeptastic pouch pdf <~~~ Click that little link to start downloading the tutorial!

Don't forget to swing by these great folks too!

June 24: Alexia Abegg.

July 1: Lemon Cadet

July 8: The Fat Quarterly!

July 15: Quilt Asylum.

July 22:  MrsMcPorkchop (That’s me!!!)

July 29: Flax and Twine

August 5: Heather alamode

August 12:  Make Something

August 19: Whipstitch

August 26: Happy Zombie

Thanks Lizzy for inviting me!!!!

Have a great Friday!!!

xo

 

 

{~*Farmer's Wife Quilt A Long Week 8*~}

(sorry, the color is a little dodgy, the sun wasn't quite up this morning when I took this) I just typed week 8 and my heart skipped a beat! 8 weeks! This is AWESOME! I've done 16 blocks, they hang on my design wall and I have to admit, I am so freaking excited!!!!

After week 3, I started foundation piecing the blocks. I love foundation piecing. It's incredible. You can do amazing things with it. Ringo Pie anyone? Those girls are rocking the foundation piecing! It's a skill I think every quilter should have in their arsenal. There are a lot of different ways to foundation piece, I use Carol Doak foundation paper in my printer, print the EQ patterns (available in the Farmers Wife Yahoo Group. Provided by Laurie herself. Go by and say hi & thank you!) with NO scaling, chop the patterns apart, the seam allowance is included for joining the pieces, sew on the lines and VOILA! Cute blocks. For me it's a lot painless than the templates. Mostly because I'm incredibly OCD and like my blocks to look as nice as possible. And I am an incredibly un-accurate sew-er. So I suggest if your struggling, give foundation piecing a try. It's VERY easy but looks FANCY!

Ok. so blocks!

#16: Calico Puzzle

This was really easy and fun. I love blocks with squares because I can fussy cut stuff and that's my favorite thing ever. I made the previous blocks dark so I figured I'd toss in another light. I was sorting through folded green fat quarters and this Lizzy House duck fabric was static clung to another print. So I had to use it. Then I found the Heather Ross Rabbits & Race cars  in my scrap bin and the little bit of Sandi Hendersen in there too. So there you go! Calico Puzzle!

#15: Buzzard's Roost

Here in Northern California there is a road called Buzzard's Roost that is in the middle of no where and my friend Judy lives off of it in an amazing straw-bale house that she and her husband built. And Ryan, the incredibly nice guy that he is, sent me some Appleville as an early birthday gift. So I thought I'd combine the two and hey! Buzzard's Roost! Neat right?

Fabrics used:

  • Kei Dots (My favorite dot!)
  • Suzy Ultman Appleville (Does this line remind anyone else of Animal Crossing? BEST!)
  • Lecien Minny Miu Mice!

I'm dying for a little more scraps. I was tired of mine so I sold them but I love that my internet pals send me bits and pieces. I get excited knowing that my blocks are all so different and have friend fabric in them. Yup. Friend fabric. Not fabric made of friends because that would be creepy, but fabric from friends!

Ok make sure you stop by Angela and say hi, she just finished up a super cute little apple quilt and the sneak peeks are killing me! And check out our flickr group, we have new rules but are VERY friendly and love new people! Don't forget it's NEVER to late to join! You don't have to sew a zillion blocks to catch up, just start where ever you feel inspired and post your blocks! Easy Peasy!

I'm going to leave you with this photo from the California State Fair:

Completed Dear Jane! If that doesn't inspire you to work on your FW blocks and get excited about the next year...I don't know what will! Sampler Quilts = BEST!

{*~Slightly Salty Simple Syrup~*}

In high school, I was obsessed with iced coffee. Directly next door to the school in MA there was a Dunkin Donuts. This was long before Starbucks on every corner. So each afternoon I'd skip gym class and walk down to Dunks. I loved walking inside and breathing in the sugar-y sticky sweet air. I'd get a giant iced coffee with half & half and a metric ton of sugar. Because I was 15 and who cares about calories when your 15. Like, I'd make it with so much sugar it was CRUNCHY. And to no ones surprise I failed gym because I was too busy getting hopped up on caffeine and sugar.

Then I moved to California where there where NO dunks (still aren't!) and up until a few years ago, no Starbucks. And you could leave campus for lunch. My first thought was...OPEN LUNCH? CAFFEINE WHENEVER? COUNT ME IN. Then I learned that gas station coffee is gross. I'd bitch and moan about a lack of Dunks. My classmates were all about sweet tea. I love sweet iced coffee but iced and hot tea I can only drink unsweetened and black. I was not a happy camper. And totally clueless because Pam, my mom, has been drinking iced coffee for FOREVER. FROM HOME. I think the only time I've ever seen her drink hot coffee is espresso shots on Holidays. She brews hot coffee in the morning and puts it in a pitcher in the fridge. She makes what we refer to as "rocket fuel", drinks it practically black with one pink sugar. It's a little much for me. I can drink 1/2 of one and suddenly I'm bouncing around and can't shut up.

I don't drink caffeine anymore (see above ;)) and I have to say, it's obnoxious that Starbucks doesn't offer decaf iced coffee unless you want hot coffee poured over ice (no thanks!). But you can get an iced decaf latte. And lately they just taste BURNT to me. Not a nice bitter or good espresso shot, but just straight up BURNT. Not appealing for $4.

I like my iced coffee with almond milk and something sweet. And the cup filled with 80% ice. I made a simple syrup I thought I'd share with you.

It's incredibly easy and more grown up than crunchy coffee ;)

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra fine baking sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 Tbls vanilla bean paste
  • 2 Tbls vanilla extract. Make sure it's a good quality one or all you'll taste is coffee with a lingering of alcohol.
  • a pinch of flake salt. I used Cypress Flake. It's expensive but a little goes a long way.

In a heavy bottomed pan with the heat on medium high add the brown sugar. Keep it moving around in the pan for 1 solid minute. This seems to warm up the sugar and gives the syrup a nice caramel flavored under tone. But make sure you don't let it burn. Next add the baking sugar and water. Bring to a boil. I let it go to a full rolling boil for half a minute, then lower the heat to a soft simmer. Let it simmer for 3 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste and extract. I'm obsessed with vanilla so this is a LOT, feel free to use less. Then add a decent sized pinch of flake salt, it brightens up the caramel notes, but don't use table salt! That would be harsh and too much. I put it in a canning jar because I have a ton of them, then label it with the date and stick it in the fridge once it's cool. I give these little bottles as gifts, they last about 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

Add to some coffee and enjoy!

 

What are you guys up too today? I'm updating modernacorn (and can now accept custom orders! email me for more info!), piecing a Swoon block I started last night and crossing my fingers this incredible weather keeps up. Normally by July I'm a puddle of grump...115 degrees and feeling gross. This year it's been in the 80s! THE 80s!!! This is pure MAGIC. My tomatoes are barely ripening but I'm ok with it. I even wore JEANS to the State Fair. It's that nice out! I'm also making this today.

okok! See you tomorrow for Farmer's Wife! Yipee!

xo