Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bears Paw Quilts

A long time ago, my landscaper son was just a little guy and ready to graduate from a crib to a normal bed and I decided to make him a quilt. I was still very new at this quilting thing and went to the fabric store to buy some fabric. His favourite colour was green and so I found some great cotton fabric with fish hooks printed on it and bought a bit of the green and a bit of the cream. The polished cotton was great for cutting out, but not so easy to piece, but I persevered and pieced the twenty 12" blocks one at a time.
Bear's Paw quilt
Because I only had the pattern for the block, not the entire quilt, I didn't have the convenience of someone calculating the correct amount of fabric and I barely had enough to finish the blocks needed. I had hoped to add a border, but the fabric was no longer available and I didn't have a circle of quilting friends to ask if someone else might have what I needed.
So soft!
The quilt was layered with a polyester batting and some unbleached cotton muslin for the back. And, because hand quilting was all I knew, I hand quilted all the blocks. And again, the polished cotton was not my friend!
Muslin backing and hand-quilting
Binding was still a mystery for me and I bought pre-made green bias binding from the fabric store to bind the edges of the quilt. I carefully pinned it and sewed through all layers at once - it did the job, but didn't look very pretty!
Store bought binding
Now its 25 years later and we used this quilt over the weekend while we were camping at the beach as a beach blanket. The polish is off the cotton, the hand-quilting has held up and the binding hasn't faded a bit! Some of the fabric is worn through, but it just shows that this quilt has been used and loved!

Do you have an old quilt with a story? Tell me about it!

--Ann



Baby Kittens

Earlier this year, we were adopted by an orange stray that came into our yard. We don't know her history, but it's obvious she was an indoor cat (she is always trying to sneak into the house!) and has had exposure to kids (she willingly goes up to the grandkids when they are here). We had hoped she was just wandering and would find her way back home, but she stayed around and delivered 5 kittens earlier this summer. Two of these kittens have already found new homes, and the others are happily settling in to life as farm cats.


We alternate between wanting to find homes for these sweet little kitties and wanting to keep them here. I guess only time will tell what we end up deciding to do.

--Ann

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Picking Berries

Many of my childhood memories are of berry picking along the roadsides of rural Alberta. Wild strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons and blueberries were the main objects of our berry searches. Picnics were packed, sometimes another family would be invited to join us and we would all pile into our Ford LTD station wagon and head off for our favourite berry patch for the day. Although we would eat as much as we picked, it seemed that we would always go home with enough berries for our dessert for supper as well as some for in the freezer.
Berry picking
Building memories
 This year I invited my daughter-in-law and grandsons to come and pick with me, not along a roadside, but at a local U-pick farm to get some Saskatoon berries for pie, muffins and a delicious sauce for over ice cream. Here's the recipe:

BLUEBERRY OR SASKATOON BERRY SAUCE

Ingredients:
2 cups blueberries or saskatoon berries
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Microwave: Mix berries & water in a 2 quart microwave-safe dish & cook at 100% (high) 5-7 minutes or until boiling. Stir. Cook at 70% (medium) 3-5 minutes, stirring once. Mix cornstarch & sugar & stir into berries. Cook at 100% for 90 seconds to 2 minutes, stirring at 1 minute. Add lemon juice & almond extract.

Or Stovetop: Bring berries & water to boil over medium heat. Add cornstarch and sugar. Boil gently until thickened. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and almond extract.

Cool. Serve over pancakes, waffles, ice cream or plain yogurt.

--Ann


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Green Garden!

My freezer is slowly filling up with the produce from the garden. I love the taste of fresh peas and beans out of the garden! There are a couple zucchinis out there too - some chocolate zucchini muffins on the menu this week!

What's growing in your garden?

--Ann

Monday, 26 August 2013

Summertime Quilting

We have had a beautiful summer so far, with enough rain and plenty of sunshine to make everything grow lush and green! But I have managed to sneak in a little bit of sewing.
Steam punk tissue cover
I get inspired by all kinds of things, but the best ideas sometimes come from customers.  This steam punk tissue cover was a request from a customer from the UK! A mix of vintage/tech, clock faces and gears are frequently seen in items for this world-wide sub-culture. I hope to have a few more items made from this fabric in stock soon!

Beer themed coasters
Last year I had many requests for sets of coasters. Because many hand made things are geared for the woman, I picked up this beer fabric to make something a little more manly. These are perfect for the Man Cave or as a stocking stuffer for the guy who is into making his own brew!

Blue and White Bearspaw Blocks
And finally, these blue and white blocks are taking a bit to get finished, but I hope to have the top of this quilt put together by the end of this week. I love this colour combination and when my customer sent me the picture of what she wanted, I was excited to start on this quilt as the picture was one I had bookmarked as a quilt on my bucket list!

Do you have a project on your bucket list (quilting or otherwise?) Where do you find inspiration?

--Ann

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Good Ol' Summertime

Life gets busy in the summer. In Canada, we seem to have such a short period of time for outside pursuits that we pack as much as possible into the few months when the weather warms up! Here's just a few things that keep us busy in the summer:
Trimming horse feet
 That's my hubby doing the hard work. Learning to do some of this for ourselves definitely makes owning horses more affordable.
Sugar, just resting!
 This little 4 year old mare is a gem. She's great to ride and so calm and laid back.
Copper, learning to stand quietly
Copper is a 3-year old gelding. He's just learning about manners and learning to stand while we work around him. He will get his first taste of trail riding this fall and we think he'll be awesome!

Normally, by this time in the summer, we will have already been out to the mountains to trail ride a few times, but with the flooding and being busy elsewhere, that hasn't happened! :(

--Ann


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

WIP Wednesday - August 6 - Christmas Inspiration!

Working on the Christmas quilts for my customer inspired me to pull out my Christmas fabrics to see what I could quickly put together. I recently received these great fabrics from The Buggy Barn for Henry Glass fabrics and pulled together a few table runners:
A little gold accent strip
Starry Christmas Table Runner - FOR SALE

Pieced Star Christmas Table Runner - FOR SALE
 I love working on Christmas items and will have a few more to show over the next few weeks.

--Ann



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Christmas Time!

I know that while summer is in full swing, most of us don't want to think about Christmas, but crafters and retailers have to think about these things early!

One of my customers recently sent me some Christmas panels to make some quilts for her children. I love the panels she chose and here's the final layout:
Christmas panel quilt
 And here's some pillowcases to match:

Christmas pillowcases
These are off being quilted and this customer will have one thing checked off her Christmas to-do list and it's not even September yet!

Are you a last minute Christmas person? Or do you plan months in advance, like my awesome customer?

--Ann