Monday, November 30, 2009

What's it all about?


Thanksgiving is over. The 19 lb. turkey was consumed in two days. Almost frightening! We did have about 10 for dinner....it was the "after the meal" snacking that finished it up. I think the two guys pictured above contributed heavily to the finishing of the bird. One is about 6'6" and the other is 6"4". It takes a lot of calories to keep them going. And after reading all my cooking magazines...I just decided to do the tried and true dinner....Turkey and all of the carbohydrates that go with it.

My kids made fun of my pumpkin....as witnessed above...my music....and to top it off they no longer need my cooking lessons and they beat me at Boggle and Scrabble. But they helped cook and clean and brought much laughter to this old empty house. The week went by so quickly!

We had Molly and Josh (My oldest son's best friend...and really an adopted family member!) over for a visit. They have added new baby girl to their family....Jeff and Greg decided to teach their two cute boys how to cook cookies.

We had to purchase more "Break and Bake" cookies so the boys could do some "manly" cooking. With joy like this....why go to the extra work of home made? I'm really starting to reevaluate my priorities in life. Maybe easy and simple are the key!

I've written about these two boys before. You can read about them here....
http://www.dashdist.com/blackbird/news.html Check out the Gingerbread House party. Their mom and dad said they would like to come to another one.

Maybe what we need for the holidays is just family, friends and a bit of laughter!

Hope yours was full of fun too!

Until later,

Alma

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful


I've been cleaning and cooking....getting ready for Thanksgiving. (I know you have too!!!)
My children are coming home for the holiday. Two arrived over the weekend. They will get to stay for the entire week and I'm awaiting the arrival of my youngest. He has classes today and will drive home late tonight. Late night driving always makes me nervous. Deer, tired drivers trying to get home ....I will spare you my anxiety because I know you feel it too. As parents we just feel better when they are all home around the dining table safe and sound.

Yesterday I planned on teaching Jeff, my second son how to bake cookies. He informed me he's already "in the know." According to him, you just "break and bake." My husband immediately went to the store and got the Nestle Break and Bake cookie mix. He wanted me to have a bake-off with Jeff. I was to make the home made kind and Jeff was going to make "his" recipe. Then we would have a taste test to see who's was best. Well....needless to say, I didn't play fair. I let Jeff make his recipe and I have to admit they were fine.

I'm working on finishing some photography for an engagement calendar. The Kansas City Star is going to publish this for 2011. The theme is sewing items. I'm really enjoying getting out some of my favorite things. September's theme will be the above needlework book. Just wish I could get several days of good light!!! We have really had some cloudy weather this year.

Barb and I spent last weekend at Country Sampler in Spring Green, WI. We taught a class along with Stacy Nash and Maggie Bonanomi. We just had the best time! Lots of wonderful people attended. Here we are right before traveling home. Jeanne Horton took this picture of Maggie's car. (We just happened to be in the picture! Left to right ...Alma, Maggie, Stacy, and Barb) Reminiscent of the old photos when everyone got their picture taken in front of their car.



We stayed with Jeanne in her home. This is a picture that Barb took of her dining area. Love those windows! The panes are on the top portion and down below, nothing impedes the view. Sweet wreathes grace each window.

Hope you all have time to enjoy your loved ones this holiday! Get out those break and bake cookies and save time to laugh with your family.

Until later!

Alma

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Show and Tell


Today is show and tell day. Wonderful pictures have been sent to me and I want to share them with you.

Jane Anderson made the above pictured quilt from our pattern "Halloween - 1904" for her daughter Kathy. Not only did Kathy get this quilt...she got a wonderful sheet and pillowcase set too!


Love the witches flying on their brooms.
Kathy...we are all coming over to your house to spend the night! (I know, enough to almost frighten you....but it would be wonderful to sleep under your quilt!)

Sue Dunn from Australia sent the picture below to us.

Sue writes, "As I have a large number of pincushions, most of which are your designs I thought I would do something different with this pattern."

Melody writes, "Thought you might like to see how nicely your little freebie worked up for me.I love your new Joyeaux Noel book – can’t wait to do the mini Eiffel tower stocking – darling. Here’s my blog post if you care to take a look http://wooley-thoughts.blogspot.com/2009/11/souvenir-de-france.html

Thanks for all your great designs – can’t wait till you and Barb come back to the Olde Green Cupboard some time. Next time please do a class on hooked rugs – my other passion LOL."

Her Souvenir de France is pictured below. The beaded trim is a great detail.



The next 6 pictures were sent to me by Lori Jennings....She writes,

"I just had to share with you some pictures from a recent trip I took. Several of us gals decided to get away from the mundane (work, kids and husbands to be exact) and spent the weekend at the beach in Rockport, TX. One of the ladies brought along all the materials needed to make Pumpkin PinKeeps from your Tis Hallowe’en book.

Oh my gosh, we were like a bunch of kids!! We had a blast cooking up several different dye baths - the colors turned out beautiful. The hand stitching was a snap and hunting down twigs was the only exercise allowed.

When I returned home I used several different different types of fabric to make even more pumpkins…..it’s very addictive!

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy our Pumpkin-Palooza ’09 pictures and thank you for your wonderful creativity and easy-to-follow instructions."





Lori.....I think Barb and I need to come visit you next year in Rockport. You ladies look like you know how to have a good time! I can almost hear the laughter as you set up the pictures! Love your pumpkin patch.


Deborah King finished this covered box and sent the following note.
"Loved your box tutorial so thought I would send you a photo of mine. I picked a large box 9 inches tall so it was a bit tricky trying to get it just right, but even so it was pretty straightforward thanks to your clear instructions. Mine has a few bumps and crinkles - but I won't tell if you don't.
As you can see my colours are not at all muted! My box came with a circular tag - and I am going to "ALMA" it once I have had a chance to read your tutorial on tags."



Deb...I love the paper inside your covered box. Did you do some collage work on this or did it come this way? Love your fabric too. Not everything has to be muted!

Catherine writes,

"Here are some photos my last work !!!! I have finally sewn the model "Their Song" with other embroideries. The other embroideries come from a French designer L'R de rien. I have used the same fibers as "Their Song." Have a nice week-end.
Visit her blog by clicking on her name for more pictures. Love all the bird samplers made into a quilt!

Thank you all for sending your wonderful pictures!

You have to visit
http://chocolates4breakfast.blogspot.com/ for another show and tell also. Takes my breath away!

Until later!

Alma

P.S.
#119 Mimi Bob (I need your address! You have won the Angler 2. Send your address to alma@blackbird-designs.com)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winners and Magazines

I'm a magazine junkie. I would go to a 12 step program but I'm so busy looking at all the pictures of great food I just don't have time to go. No 12 steps for me, but I do think I could fit in time to go to Borders today and pick up one more cooking magazine.... if I don't have it already.

It's the time of year to look at great food. Not that I'm going to cook it all. I've already given up that illusion. But I do like to try several new things for the holidays.

This one has me in trouble. I guess my husband has been reading it. He told me this morning that he has found the perfect recipe in the magazine.

The recipe he found was in the dessert section. He must have really been studying the article...because he found this one and there wasn't a picture to go along with the recipe.

Who can go wrong with Brown Sugar - Pecan Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting? I think I will have to make this one for him.

I was thinking more in the line of a new cranberry relish recipe.....These look great to me!

This is my seasonal favorite. I get the new one every year. It's all about the butter! And let me assure you, these all have the butter. I let each family member give their "cookie reviews" in the margins of the magazines. They have all written very funny and clever cookie critiques. Thumbing through the older issues bring back wonderful memories of tasting, laughter and lots of sugar and butter. I highly recommend this magazine for family fun and calories!


Without further ado here are the winners of Saturday's contest.

#96 Conny from Little Womens Creative Basket
#17 Lizzie from Australia
#119 Mimi Bob

Ladies send your address to alma@blackbird-designs.com

Until later!

Alma

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stockings for Sept and Oct



The patterns are written and handed off to the printer. We still have another proofing process to go through and then they will be printed. The projected completion date is next Friday and will ship out to the distributors then. This means they will be in the shops in about 2 - 2 1/2 weeks. Loose feathers will follow a couple of weeks after the stocking patterns. We are a little behind....but will catch up someday....not sure exactly when that will be, but we are always hopeful!

Don't forget the drawing will be on Monday morning.

Friday morning, Barb and I will leave for Spring Green, WI. We are driving to Country Sampler to teach a quilting class. The project is a long harvest table runner. Maggie Bonanomi and Stacy Nash will be there too. Hope to see you there! I think the shop will be decorated for Christmas, so we can hardly wait to see.

Until later!

Alma

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tool Time With Cherie


Cherie Ralston
brought over her new favorite sewing tool and she agreed to share how it works. (Cherie has authored several books with Blackbird Designs as well as written her own. Click on her name for a short bio.) She always finds ways to make piecing and applique easy. As you will soon see, she knows quite a bit more than me.

Here's the tool. It's called The Angler 2. It makes easy work out of half-square triangles. No more drawing lines or using paper piecing. All will be revealed here. This product comes with instructions too...but sometimes it just helps to have someone show me. I think I'm a visual learner.
Note the rectangle labeled "Key" in the picture above. This small rectangle must be cut out with an exacto-knife.

Cherie is carefully cutting the "Key" portion out.

After the "Key" is cut out notch a small hole as instructed on the Key.

This hole is for alignment with the needle on your sewing machine. Do not loose the "Key" or you will be "voted off the island." (An adage for those of you who know about reality shows.)


Now you need your squares....This sewing tool will work for all sizes up to 7 3/4".


Next center the Key on your sewing machine.

The point of your needle fits into the hole you notched earlier.
You need to have a 1/4" presser foot. (Of course I don't have one and now I realize that I very much need one. Cherie voted me "off the island" until I get one.)


The Key is in position.


The purpose of the Key is to help align the tool on your sewing machine. Cherie is placing the tool over the Key. The Key will now fit back into the area we cut it from.

While doing this step, Cherie thought it would be helpful if I had a larger surface to tape the tool in place. I got my larger plastic sewing table.


Cherie adjusted the feet of my table so it would fit. (I hate to admit this....I didn't know it was adjustable. I wish I could say Cherie didn't roll her eyes at me....but I think I did catch her rolling at least one eye!)

The larger surface of the plastic table really helped. Make sure when positioning the tool that it is straight.

Tape the tool in place. Cherie found that the blue painters tape didn't hold as well as the regular masking tape. Remove the Key at this point. You don't leave it in while sewing.


Tape the key to the side of your machine. It will be easily found the next time you need it.


Pick up your squares and place them right sides together.

Position the presser foot edge to the left of the diagonal point of the square as shown.

The remaining diagonal point is positioned on the left line of the sewing tool.

Sew a seam. Cherie likes to chain piece. After she has a long chain of squares sewn on one side, she flips them and sews the second seam. For time purposes we only did one square. Also, this is where the 1/4" presser foot comes in handy. I have a Bernina so I need a #37 foot.

Again align the diagonal point of the square to the left of the presser foot. Align the remaining diagonal point with the left line on the tool. Sew another seam.



Cherie likes to cut her squares apart with scissors. Quicker and easier.

Could I find any scissors? No...so we used the rotary cutter.

Iron them open and trim the "wings".

If you would like to win one of Cherie's favorite sewing tools just respond in the comments section. I will do the random generator thing and pick three lucky quilters. One entry per person please. Drawing will be Monday morning. Hope you have a bit of time to sew something fun!

Thank you Cherie!

Until later,

Alma