Monday, December 31, 2018

Tired of Waiting

 Helllloooooo out there! Have you, like me, discovered recently that you kind of miss the blogging boom that happened about a decade ago?  I've found the novelty of instagram has worn off a little and I'm craving a little more than what comes with scrolling through those perfect little squares.  I've toyed with the idea of resurrecting reinventing my blog to reflect my life now, in all its imperfect glory.  I no longer sew every day of the week, partly because I homeschool my kids, but mostly because I just have other, more varied, interests and I would like this blog to reflect that. 

 We celebrated New Year's Eve tonight at a family friendly gala in our neighborhood that had a balloon drop at 8pm.  The party clothes are off and the pajamas are on and I am reflecting on the past year and setting intentions for the one ahead.

  I would like for this blog to become more of a lifestyle blog, but the little voices of doubt are loud and mean.  Do you hear them too?  They tell me, "What, you create a lifestyle blog?  You're not cool/skinny/young/pretty/smart enough for that! How can you post a photo of yourself wearing the latest trends in that body?  You should lose weight first. Your house should be clean and look like a magazine photo shoot first.  You should get it all together first. You should work on becoming a better writer and photographer first. You should have if all figured out first." 

Well, in 2019 my only resolution is to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and enjoy life.  Easier said than done? Certainly.  Of course I don't have all the answers, but I do have some good ideas to start and I thought this would be a great space to explore this idea since I know we all struggle with our own voices.  My vision for this blog is to share with you all of the ways we can get down to the real business of living our best lives, being grateful, feeling all the feels. I'd like to help by being honest about not having it all, but sharing the little tips that help make some of the drudgery of family life a little more joyful, like getting a healthy meal on the table even when your toddler is melting down or you're running kids to multiple practices. 

 I would love to hear about what you need.  What do you struggle with that you're hoping to tackle in 2019?  Do you need some ways to carve out space and time to fill your own bucket?  Is your house so messy you don't know where to begin?  Do you need to stop using the drive thru as a last ditch dinner option?  Do you want to start moving more?  Do you want some budget friendly ideas for making your home more beautiful?  Do you long to get back into your bookworm habit but haven't made it through anything since the baby books from your first pregnancy? Would you love to have friends over more often but the thought of entertaining gives you hives? Do you wish you were the mom who takes her kids out in nature more, but, ugh, spiders and poison ivy and snakes, oh my!?  Do you need a quick blog post that gets you the information fast and with only critical pictures or do you enjoy a longer read and lots of pretty photos? 

I wish you all the best in 2019! Cheers!
xo, Courtney

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Cherry Coconut Granola {Gluten-free}

  Years ago, I published my favorite recipe for granola, but lately I've made some changes and I thought you might like to try the new, improved version!  It makes a wonderful hostess or holiday neighbor present wrapped up in a pretty jar.

Here's what you need:
1/2 Cup slivered almonds
1/2 Cup walnut pieces
3 C oatmeal (gluten-free, if you want the granola to be gluten free)
3T Coconut Oil
1/2 C honey
1/4 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C ground flax seed
2t cinnamon
1/2t salt
2/3 C dried tart cherries

Set oven to 325.

Heat a large frying pan over Medium/High heat and add the almonds and walnuts.  Toast until fragrant and add the coconut oil and oats.  Continue cooking about 3-5 minutes until the oats are toasted.  Turn off the heat and add all the remaining ingredients except the cherries.  Mix well and spread on a jelly roll pan (I like to line with non-stick aluminum foil).  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once.  Then add cherries, stir well and let it cool before putting in jars or airtight containers.

Serve over yogurt with berries for a delightful breakfast or lunch!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

{Applique Dish Towel} A Tutorial for Ellison Lane Handmade Holidays

This post first appeared as part of Ellison Lanes' Handmade Holidays:

For the Handmade Holidays series I thought it would be fun to make an applique dishtowel.  This makes a great hostess or neighbor gift, and since it is more winter-y than Christmas-y your recipient can leave it out long after the holiday decorations have been put away.

You will need:
Backing Fabric - 16 x 24"
Snow fabric - 5 x 16"
Sky fabric* - 19.5 x 16"
Fabric scraps for tree and snowman
twill tape or ribbon
glue stick
embroidery thread in black, brown, white and orange

*Preferably this should be linen.  Linen is really absorbent for a dish towel and just gets better and better the more you use and wash it. Just, please prewash it at least once before construction.  It shrinks a lot more than quilting cottons.

1. Sew the white strip of snow fabric to the sky fabric along the 16" edge.  Press and topstich.  This becomes the front of your dishtowel.

2. Cut a tree shape, three white circles, a black hat and red scarf from your scraps.  Choose a layout you like and secure them to the front of your dishtowel with a washable glue stick.  Press with a hot iron to secure. I always used to use heat'n bond for applique, but the sticky residue would gum up the needle and cause skipped stitches, so I've found the glue stick much easier to work with!

3. Using black thread stitch around your applique shapes.  I like to go around the shapes three times to get a sketchy look.  I used a small needle (70) and a small stitch length (2.5) with a regular foot, but you can play around with zig zag, invisible thread or free motion quilting.

4.  Mark eyes, carrot nose, mouth, buttons and stick arms for your snowman with a removable ink pen.  Embroider any way you like.  I did it by hand with embroidery thread, but some people are able to do it by machine.

5. Cut a length of twill tape (about 4-5") or ribbon to use for hanging and baste or pin it to the back of your dishtowel on one upper corner.

6. Prepare to sew your dishtowel together by placing front and back right sides together and pin.  Make a two marks 4" apart along one side to stop and start your seam.  I always sew out to the edge and turn to get a clean finish when I'm ready to turn it right side out.  Sew the two sides together with a generous 1/4" or even a little bigger seam allowance (just to be safe with the linen).

7.  Turn right side out and use a chopstick or turning tool to get the corners pushed out nicely.  Press and top-stitch all the way around.  A top-stitching foot makes it really easy to get a nice, even stitch, as does using a longer stitch length (I used 3.25).


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Rope Bowl {experimenting}

I'm a little late to the rope bowl trend.  Actually, I got in right away and then it became rope bowl platter in my WIP pile and I finally finished it up last week.  There are tons of rope bowl examples on the interwebs, but I really liked this tutorial by Flossie Teacakes.  Ann at Stitch Supply Co. made a great one too that looks to be a great stash buster.  Finally, Amanda has quite a collection of inspiring shapes and materials. Those awesome painted ones are what I'd like to try next.

I did find this process to be really enjoyable.  Something meditative about that circular sewing that just soothes the soul.  I would like to try some other options for ending the bowl.  I went until I ran out of a rope (I used100 feet of 7/32" clothes line), and covered the end in a scrap of liberty. I used liberty scraps throughout, just wrapping bits here and there.  I used white thread in the needle and some gray (bottom and top) in the bobbin, but also a section of white in the middle.

It really makes a nice, sturdy bowl, but you can bend it a bit : )

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

a little bluebird ::tablerunner::

I recently got a bundle of the Cotton + Steel Bluebird fabric collaboration from Stitch Supply Co. and it is beautiful!  I couldn't wait to use it and the Bluebird Sew Off was just the incentive I needed to get started.

I'm really crushing on the aqua, navy, cobalt combination at the moment, so I added some aqua Cotton + Steel basics into the mix and made a stripey table runner that fits in well with my aqua kitchen.  The white essex linen border and binding gives it a summery, beachy vibe.

The strips are 10" x 2.5" and the linen borders are 3.5".  I quilted it with some simple straight (ish) lines in a soft white aurifil thread with my walking foot. 


Photographing a long table runner is not the easiest thing to do, but hopefully you get the idea? So, are you crushing on Bluebird too or are you already on the newest C + S collabortion, Black & White?  So much fabric, so little time!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Diamond Lattice Block Tutorial

#havendgs bee mates🐝, what do you think of this for our April blocks?  Charm square friendly and color palette totally stolen from @ashapatel #dogoodstitches

Quite a while back, I wrote a tutorial for a lattice block on the stash bee blog here.  I love the quilt that my hive helped me put together (details here), but I've been toying with the idea of changing it a little to make it a quicker blocks (all those 2" squares!).

I thought a diamond shape would be fun and bold, so I worked out a way to make it charm square friendly.

14" Diamond Lattice Block
For each block you will need:
 (4) low volume 5" squares
 (5) Diamond Blocks, which consist of (5) colorful 5" squares and (5) 3.75" squares

5" Diamond Block
1. To make one diamond blocks take one 5" square and cut it on the diagonal both ways to end up with 4 triangles.

April blocks

2. I find it easiest to press creases into the 3.75" square by folding it in half and then in half again.  Line up a triangle (right sides together) so that the point is on the center crease line and sew along the side (1/4" seam).

April blocks

3.  Press open, and repeat on the other side.  It may be helpful to trim off the overhang before continuing to the final two sides.

April blocks

4.  For the last step, trim your block to 5" square, making sure to leave 1/4" seam allowance beyond each point.

April blocks

You will need five of these diamond blocks to make one 14" lattice block.  It's definitely faster if you chain piece.

April #havendgs block - tutorial coming soon

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Finish Along 2016

Happy New Year (I know, I'm a little late)!  I always get caught up in the urge to better myself and organize my life every January.  I'm working out every day (not such a new thing) and doing another round of Whole30 after great results last October.

Now I just need to get these quilty WIP's in order!  I thought that the Finish Along 2016 might be just the thing to help me stay on track.  I narrowed it down to a mosaic of 8 items in various stages of completion and then realized I forgot three biggies!  It's like they come back to taunt/haunt you! So 11 projects - roughly one a month, totally doable, right?

These are the 8 WIPs I hope to finish in 2016

From the top I have the Meadow Quilt from the Lizzy House class I took in Knoxville, TN this past fall.  Next are my beautiful paper pieced envelopes (pattern from Ayumi's book Patchwork, Please) made by me and members of the Sealed With a Kiss swap group.  Third in the top row is just something I made for fun that I want to turn into a mini and maybe make a tutorial for.

Middle row is my Modern Medallion from Handstitched Camp over at Stitched in Color.  Then my Very Quilty Christmas quilt-along that Lori Holt did via Instagram in 2014. The third is a big gingham/buffalo check quilt I want to make for my youngest son's bed.  It's just so so so boring to make.

Bottom row is the Small World QAL from Jean Kingwell - I even have some of the dresden plates/rainbows, just need to hand stitch them on and quilt.  That final bottom corner is my liberty Flowering Snowball.  I fall in and out of love with it.  I worry that I used precious, expensive fabric for something that I don't love.  I need to just finish it and see for sure!

Working on my #stashsewciety quilt for my oldest boy. Only had a few minutes before the bus stop but made that second block on the bottom row - he requested some Aqua/teal

These are all my blocks from Stash Sewciety, destined to be a queen bed quilt for my oldest son.  I need to make a bunch more blocks, adding in more aqua/teal as I do.

I really need to make some more #scrappytripalongblocks and make this quilt already!

Okay, scrappy trip along!  This thing was an old WIP back when Sean was that little (he wears big boy underpants now).  It would make a great picnic/ fort quilt, maybe no batting and just back in something substantial?

Finishing the #pennysampler quilt top today

Penny Sampler.  I can't believe this still isn't finished.  I actually finished the whole top during the class. I wanted to do really fancy FMQ, something unique in each block.  I was afraid at first, then did a little bit and was loving it.  Now my Bernina is no longer behaving when I FMQ.  Threads breaking regardless of brand, weight, needle, tension, ugh.  

Well, it looks I better go sew!  Or maybe just push all these back into the basket under my table and start something new ; ) just kidding! maybe.