Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ready, Set, Stripes

I told you last time it's been a productive stretch for me lately.  Just prior to Mother's Day was my nephew's third birthday.  This big guy never received a quilt before he was born (bad Aunty) so I finally got on it and made one just for him.

His room has an airplane theme and I found the perfect fabric for him here.  It's called Ready, Set, Go! by Anne Kelle.

You may remember from my first post that I pulled my stack of fabrics based off this fabric with some help from my little guy.  Then, with a little help from this tutorial, we started cutting.  The top came together quickly and I was very happy with the scrappy look I was able to pull together from my stash.


Just like my Granny for Granny quilt, I added his name to this quilt with my favorite Steam a Seam.


The quilt back is the zoo print from Kate Spain's Central Park line.

Other fabrics:
Check plaid in pistachio -  It's a Hoot
Orange floral - Central Park by Kate Spain
Green Circle Dots - Peak Hour by Kellie Wulfsohn
Hop Dot - Nicey Jane
Metro Living circles in chartreuse green and marigold

And in true 3 year old form, here is my nephew "posing" with his birthday present.


Happy birthday buddy!

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Friday, May 25, 2012

A Granny for Granny

It's been a very productive few weeks.  With my new sewing machine, there's nothing I can't do! Well, it feels that way sometimes ;)

This year was my first official Mother's Day.  (I was pregnant last year, but we weren't spilling the beans just yet.)  I woke up to some delicious waffles and spent the day with family.  And speaking of family, about a week before Mother's Day, I asked my own mother what she wanted and she said, "a quilt would be nice."  Yes, a quilt in one week would be very nice, I replied.


Not one to back down from a challenge, I decided to see what I could do.  My mom was already the recipient of this quilt that I completed last year.  It's used at my parent's house for little babies who can't run laps around the couch yet.  The fabric - Nicey Jane - is a soft blue/green color palette that makes me think of my mom.  I had quite a bit of it left, so I got busy.


I'd been working on another project recently featuring the ever-so-popular granny square, inspired by this beautiful quilt.  I love the look of the granny square and it's so simple to make.


A Granny Square


My new affinity for granny squares, combined with my recent obsession with pinterest led me to the idea for my Mother's Day quilt pattern.  I kept seeing quilts on pinterest that looked like one giant quilt block, enlarged to make a quilt of a single block.  (It was only on closer inspection that I realized the quilts were actually mini quilts and my sense of scale was just off.  Oh well. )  


So, here it is....my Granny for Granny!
Giant Granny Square


Granny's quilt
I admit, it's a little tough to see the pattern since there's not a whole lot of contrast in the fabrics, but trust me, it's a giant granny square.  Instead of 2.5 inch squares like the original, the big granny has 9 inch squares.  The finished quilt is what I call "couch size".  It's not too wide, but long enough to cover your toes while you take a nap on the couch.


To finish things off, I decided to personalize the back of this quilt with Granny's actual name - Humma.  A little steam a seam and some applique later, and it was done!  And just in time for Mother's Day!


Humma
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Stripes!


Somewhere between feeding, changing diapers and reading Chicka Chicka ABC for the ten thousandth time, inspiration hit me.  I went into my stash and started pulling fabrics.  My nephew's birthday was fast approaching so I decided it was time that he had his own big boy gey-key.  (Brother, you'll have to give me the proper spelling.)


I love how the colors matched my guy's onesie, so I snapped this photo.  Don't you just want to hug him?!?

My little helper
A short while later, we had our quilt pattern selected.  Thanks buddy for all of your hard work and assistance.  I agree, that was exhausting.



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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tres Leches

Last Saturday I found myself with some free time and extra energy so I decided to have a mini impromptu Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Not satisfied with the tacos, margaritas, and guacamole alone, I wanted to bake something for dessert.  A short Google search later and I stumbled across this recipe for Tres Leches.  Again, this was a totally new dessert for me - never baked, never tried, but hey, why not?


I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, but it was definitely worth the trip to the store for the tres leches.  (Tres leches is just 3 milks - evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.)  The combined milks are poured over the top of the cake once it comes out of the oven.  Mmmm, I'm getting hungry just typing it.

So the recipe called for the pan to be "liberally" coated with spray, but as you can see from the second photo up above that I was not liberal enough.  My cake totally stuck to the pan and I had to sadly break it out in chunks to flip it over.  Luckily, once the tres leches were poured on and the frosting was made, no one would have been the wiser if I didn't share my photo.  (Don't the fresh strawberries look yummy?)

This cake was delicious when it came out of the refrigerator and we had quite a fun little fiesta topped off by a little Cinco de Mayo Pandora station.  I highly recommend giving this dessert a try, even if you just order it from a restaurant, I'm willing to bet it's still a delight.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Whoopie pies

Whoopie pies by Federlily
Whoopie pies, a photo by Federlily on Flickr.

So I've started experimenting in the kitchen.

Inspired by all of the scrumptious looking photos on pinterest (did you notice my page link up above?), I've started to actually try out some of the new recipes I've found online.

Earlier this week, I was inspired by this photo of whoopie pies.  I had never baked whoopie pies before, and I'm not quite sure I had ever tried a whoopie pie, but with a name like whoopie, it had to be good.  (How many times I can use whoopie in one sentence?)

The recipe is from this book entirely devoted to whoopie pies and aptly named "Whoopie Pies".   There are dozens of variations to the classic whoopie pie in this book and I'm very tempted to try more.  The recipe that I followed was for the classic chocolate pie and a salty peanut butter filling.  (I love peanut butter treats!)  I can tell you that the pies were absolutely delicious and turned out looking just as great as they did online.  My husband did not allow me to keep the entire batch at our house, so most of them were shipped off to some deserving friends and coworkers - but not before I had my 5 (or 6).

And just in case you do decide to click around on my pinterest page, you may see a board called "Party Ideas".  And just in case you were wondering, yes, I am already brainstorming ideas for my son's birthday party... in December.

Pop quiz movie trivia - In what 1994 movie do we hear this line?
"Hey look, my mom's here"
"Whoopi"
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

First cousin, once-removed, in-law

Last week we celebrated the arrival of my first cousin, once-removed, in-law.

I'll let that sink in for a second.

Got it?

How about if I call him my son's second cousin?  Or, my husband's cousin's son?  Whatever you call him, he is a precious gift to his family and we are so happy to meet him finally.


This guy's sex was a surprise until he was born, so Mommy went with a modern, gender neutral look for the nursery.  It turned out lovely and it just so happens that she has similar taste in patterns and color, so it was a breeze to pick out fabrics and a design for this quilt.


I gave a peek at this quilt here as I was working on it on my new machine.  This quilt was put together using triangle paper to create half square triangles.  (You may remember I was working on another HST project here.)  The triangle paper method was interesting.  I won't say it was my favorite technique, but I did get accurate results.  I suppose it's a matter of personal preference if you like precision or speed and ease.


Using bits and pieces of fabric leftover from the quilt, I whipped together a hooded towel and some little coordinating wash cloths.  We personally use a lot of these at my house as LO's sensitive tooshie prefers a wet wash cloth over traditional diaper wipe.


I love making these for shower gifts because you get a lot of bang for your buck.  The hooded towel and wash cloths come together from just one towel and some fabric scraps.  First off, I cut a standard size towel to a square.  Then I take the leftover towel piece and cut it down to squares - I think these are about 8 or 9 inch squares.

The fabrics:
Several prints from Robert Kaufman's Metro Living
Two prints from Kate Spain's Central Park
Several prints from Lotta Jansdotter's Echo
The turquoise dot print came from my local Beverly's (love them!)
I wish I could remember the gray solid and the orange/aqua/yellow floral print, but alas, the sources are escaping me at the moment.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mommy Essentials: The List

As a first time mom to my son (now 4 months) I have learned quite a bit in a short time.  I have more than a handful of nieces, nephews and friends with babies, but when I was pregnant, I wasn't quite sure what I would really need to purchase before his arrival.  The registry lists are out there, but they seemed so long and overwhelming.  Besides, would all of that equipment and extra bedding really fit in our two bedroom home?

Now that I've survived the initial newborn stage and the next round of pregnancies and babies are arriving amongst our friends and families, I felt compelled to make my personal list of favorite, couldn't live without, life saver items.

Here we go:

5. Keurig Brewer - I received my Keurig coffee maker a couple of years ago as a Christmas gift and, at the time, thought it was just a cool little kitchen novelty.  Once the little one arrived, it became a morning routine essential.  It was so mindless and quick - no waiting for a kettle to boil water, nothing to measure, in other words, perfection!  I love my K-cups.

4. Breast Pump - I am so grateful that I had my electric breast pump.  I started pumping almost immediately at the hospital and I continued once we were home too.  Not only did it help boost my supply, but on those middle of the night feedings in the first couple of days when I could barely sit up, it was a lifesaver having the option to pass off a feeding to Daddy.  You never realize until you're there just how much difference a 4 hour stretch of sleep feels versus a 2 hour stretch.  After the first few weeks, it was also a huge convenience to be able to pack a bottle if we were heading to a busy restaurant or someplace where nursing wasn't really an option.  And sometimes, your body just needs a break.  Thank goodness for my pump.

3. iPhone - It's a sign of the times, I couldn't survive the first few weeks of motherhood without my iPhone.  Pathetic, right?  Well, I can't really think of how moms did it before the iPhone.  While I was up nursing in the middle of the night, I always made sure to have my iPhone within reach.  What did I use it for?  Well, first off I had several apps.  One was the "What to Expect - Baby" app which I used to keep track of feeding times and on which side baby had last nursed.  The other app that was an all night favorite was "Babycenter".  Each month has a special birth club with members posting messages and comments to a message board covering all of the topics you are too embarrassed to ask your friends about.

2. Carter's Sleep & Play - It's 3 am, you're exhausted, baby just ate for the fourth time that night, you're ready to put him back down to sleep and you hear it.  That sound that should gross you out, but instead makes you giggle like a third grader.  You roll your eyes and look down to see your precious baby gazing up at you and grinning with that "I feel so much better now" look.  You head to the changing table, put on a clean diaper, manage not to get peed on and it's time to put the pajamas back on.  Show me a new parent who can line up all of those snaps of the other sleepers on the first try at 3 am and I'll give them a pat on the back.  As for this household, we appreciate the simplicity of a zipper, thank you very much.

1.  My Brest Friend - Baby's gotta eat, so this is my number one essential.  I started out with another  breastfeeding pillow, but it always seemed like it took two people to use.  I had to sit down with the pillow and get it positioned while my hubby grabbed our son and placed him on me.  Then, a friend of mine loaned me her Brest Friend and I was in heaven!  It buckles into place and stays put so you can snap it on and then grab baby yourself and start feeding.  No gaps for baby to slide in to and it's the perfect height and position for nice relaxed feeding.  I absolutely love it.

This list was tough to narrow down to just 5 items.  Here are my honorable mentions:

Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper - Baby's bed for the first month, plus a portable spot to place him around the house

The Swing - Anything that can buy you a few hours of sleep is worth every penny.  Plus this one plugged in to the wall, no batteries required.

The Nordstrom Blanket - Our guy was born in December, so a cozy, warm blanket was essential.  This one was the perfect size with just the right amount of stretch for the perfect swaddle.

Flannel Burp Cloths - I received a load of these at my baby shower and used every single one.  Make your own by sewing two rectangular pieces of flannel together (20 inches by 8 inches or so).  Super simple, super useful.

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