A championship, a quilt, a tote, and some dice bags

So, something pretty cool happened since the last time I posted…my roller derby team won our championship bout!  My first year with Texas Rollergirls, and my team The Hell Marys comes out on top. What an exciting first season!

10396961_10153069721144428_2793988751731522180_o

 

Another very exciting thing happened in the last few weeks…my great friends Karen and James welcomed their new daughter, Elena.  She is unbelievably cute, and I can’t wait to meet her.  Until then, I made her something to snuggle up with.

IMG_2284

I used fabric from Zen Chic called “Comma” because Karen and I were in the same graduate program in English together.  We both have a love of language and reading, and I thought it best to introduce Elena to these building blocks of language early on.

IMG_2286

IMG_2285

 

My next quilting project is a pair of baby quilts for my best friends’ twins that will be arriving on November, so stay tuned!

I’ve been sewing a lot lately, and playing with a few textile, oilcloth.  I recently made a tote bag for a fundraiser for my derby team.  It was really easy to make, and super sturdy.  I have a feeling there will be more where this came from.

IMG_2243

 

One last project…I love sewing gifts so much, but alas, it can be difficult to find homemade gifts that my husband will enjoy.  When he approached me and asked me if I could make some dice bags for him, I was elated!  Casey works for an amazing local comic book store that also has a board game store, art gallery, and secondhand comic store in its growing empire.  He has become the local expert on board games, and needed a snazzy set of bags to hold dice for the various games.

IMG_1676

Look no further!  I grabbed some superhero fabric and went to work.  Casey has gotten quite a few compliments on them and suggested that maybe his store would be interested in selling some.  I made a few last weekend, and the store manager seemed interested!

DSC02825

DSC02826

 

Keep your fingers crossed for me!  Casey and I are saving for a trip to Nashville at the end of October for our fifth wedding anniversary, so it would be a nice little addition to our trip fund!

 

 

 

 

cousin quilts

My family is having babies like crazy, and I am so happy to have welcomed two new cousins in the last few months, Payden and Obadiah. My Aunt Judy sent me a sampling of the beautiful collection Baby Jane by Moda and I’ve been dying to play with it, so I thought why not split it up by some of the color groupings and make a couple of patchwork quilts for these sweet babies.

DSC02810

Payden is my cousin Lena’s son.  Lena and her husband Josh are organic farmers, so I was very excited to discover some vintage fabric with farming images on it while estate sale shopping with my cousin Melissa outside of Houston a few months ago.

DSC02814

I also had a sweet vintage ladybug/bumblebee fabric that was gifted to me from a dear friend that fit in perfectly.

The other quilt is for my cousin Kat’s new addition, Obadiah.  DSC02815

Kat’s favorite holiday is the 4th of July, so I thought the red, white, and blue color combination might suit her little one well.

I had so much fun working on these quilts, and I wish I would have been able to hand them off in person, but alas my new life in Texas makes it more difficult to see my family as often as I would like.

DSC02817

I can’t wait to meet my two new cousins.  Until then, I hope these tokens of my affection provide something soft to crawl on as they start to make their way in the world.

DSC02816

Life in Texas

That’s right.  Apparently I only blog around milestones…last time about graduating, and now about getting a job and moving half a country away!  I had settled into the idea of living another year in Michigan, teaching a few classes for not much pay and going on the job market again.  And then it happened.  A job call for an amazing position popped up on a listserv, I sent in my materials, 5 days later I was offered the job as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas, and about 3 weeks after that my husband, 3 cats, and I arrived at our new home in Austin, TX!

One of the most wonderful parts about living here is that I am so very close to my cousin Tommy, his wife Melissa, and their 4 incredible children.  My mom and niece came down for Thanksgiving and we drove over to Tommy and Melissa’s beautiful home and stayed for a few days for the holiday.  We got to meet these guys!

DSC04762

DSC04763

The goat’s name is Foxy, and her tiniest of muzzles feels like velvet when she eats grain out of your hands.  I got to take part in egg harvesting and making sure all of the chickens were in the coop the first night I was there.  Conclusion: I need more chickens and goats in my life.

I was in a rush before I left to finish a quilt for the newest member of Tommy and Melissa’s family, the lovely miss Cora, who is a mere few months old!  I had all but the binding hand-stitched, and that turned out to be a perfect activity to do around the fire after our bellies were full of delicious eats on Thanksgiving.  I had so much fun with this quilt!  I used a sawtooth star pattern and fabric from Heather Ross’ Playing Horses line as the center squares.

heather_ross_playing_horses_01

 

Here are a couple shots of the quilt with my cousins’ beautiful property in the background:

DSC04759

 

DSC04760

One of the most fun parts of this trip was getting to sew with Melissa.  She has been wanting to sew for a while, so I brought one of my machines with me for us to play.  Not only did she learn how to work it like a pro, but we were able to finish an entire project in just an hour or so!  Melissa had been wanting to turn some of her feedbags into tote bags for Christmas gifts.  Look how great it turned out!

DSC04758

 

Foxy approves.

DSC04764

Melissa generously sent me home with some feedbags of my own so that I could transform them, and I left my machine for her to continue playing.  She made 2 more super-cute bags in no time!  So proud of her, and so happy to be closer to my crafty cousin.  I look forward to many future sewing adventures.

Another wonderful sewing experience from the weekend was quilting with my niece Amelia.  As I was finishing up Cora’s quilt, Amelia grabbed some leftover batting and my scrap basket and began to create a work of her own.  Made her auntie so proud!  Love that girl so much.  I haven’t uploaded the photos yet, so I will save them for next time.

Okay, I know this post is long, but one more thing…tonight is my first night skating with my new derby team, The Hell Marys of the Texas Rollergirls.  So excited!!!  More soon!

imgres

 

fall draws near

I picked the last summer beets this evening.  August tends to be a bitter month because I’m always melting in the heat and playing catch-up to finish the things I didn’t get to in May and June when I thought there was so much time left in the summer that I could blow off one more day to play in the garden instead of draft that article to submit for publication.  The nice thing about this August is how cool and fall-like the weather is, so it makes everything else a bit more tolerable.

And some of the plants are just now starting to flourish in the milder temperatures.  My dad grew Mexican sunflowers every summer and I took a bunch of seeds from his house to make sure I have enough to keep planting them year after year.  This is the first blossom.  So bold, vibrant.  I have been sad lately thinking about him being gone.  This helped, made me feel like he is still a presence in my life.

As I trudge forward into the busy months ahead (job market, finishing my dissertation, teaching), I still make time for the Pirate’s Daughter quilt.  I finally cut out all of the little pieces and am working on constructing the arcs.

20 complete and many, many more to go, but it feels like progress!  I love working with all of these colors.

I also made some quilted baby bibs for a dear expecting friend and derby sister last week.  A group of our leaguemates threw a really fun baby shower for Bridget (otherwise known as Oi!Rish) on Saturday.  A baby shower full of roller derby gals is quite different than the average baby shower…no one sits around and waits to be told to eat, we all just ravenously dig in; the shower games get super-competitive; and the language is not very lady-like.  I must admit, it was pretty refreshing.

 I made 2 bibs for Bridget.  For the first, I used the colors of her team, the Devil’s Night Dames: red, orange, and black.

The second was Star Wars-themed (Bridget is such a fan she has Han Solo tattooed on her leg).  And so many other crafty people gifted their handiwork at the shower as well.  There was a beautiful baby quilt and some great knitted caps, including a little green yoda hat.

Well summer, it’s been real.  Time for pumpkins and sweaters.  Hey, that sounds pretty great, actually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

veggies and fruits!

While we all waste away in the sweltering heat, the vegetables continue to thrive.  I snapped a few shots from the garden yesterday.

The first guy is a purple kohlrabi plant.  My dad grew kohlrabi when I was a kid, and this is the first time I’m trying it.  Happy to say the kohlrabi is thriving, a nice tribute to my father’s green thumb which he was happy to pass on to me.  The second is a cucumber vine tendril, followed by a young brandywine tomato that looks like it has a squinty face.  Finally, my largest tomato yet.  I believe it’s a Celebrity.  Can’t wait for it to ripen!

 

Also, the temperatures finally started to decline a bit this weekend, so I did my annual fruit run to the farmer’s market, where I purchased some peaches and blueberries, supplemented by some store-bought strawberries and raspberries, and made some jam.

I was happy this year to have the help of my good pal Sarah and her son Sam, who is a little over a year old.  They kept such good jam-making company and didn’t mind that I made their kitchen hot!  The first kind we made was a peach strawberry freezer jam.

The second was a mixed berry, which we cooked and canned.

Also, for each batch we split them in half and did half with classic pectin and half with low-sugar pectin to compare taste.  Don’t get me wrong, I love super-sweet jam, but I also enjoy variety.  I’m excited to do the taste test and see which I prefer.

 

Last but not least, I’ve almost finished a baby quilt for the little-over-a-week-old Peter, my good friend Alison’s baby.  For Alison and I, Halloween is an every day of the year celebration, so I was excited to make Peter a Halloween quilt, even though it is July.  I used some fabrics from Tula Pink’s Nightshade line, and some of my beloved Ghastlies fabrics, filled out with Kona cottons in greys, purples, and aquas.  Here is the stack of rectangles getting ready to become a zig zag quilt.  Just have to quilt and put on a binding, and this quilt will be ready to put in the mail!

some baking, some knitting, and some quilting

I know, I know.  I took all last week off, so the last thing I should be doing right now is taking a break from dissertation writing in order to write a new blog post.  But well, it’s summer, and I have some new photos, and dissertation writing can be such a drag.  So I’ll keep it short, and then get back to the grind.

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling with my family to Topsail Island, NC.  A few of us make this pilgrimage every year and enjoy a week of laying on the beach, working puzzles, and cooking delicious food.  This year, I owed my mom a Mother’s Day dessert since I wasn’t able to go home on the big day.  Her request: pie in a cake.  I tackled this confection twice before thanks to the lovely recipes over here, and was very excited to see the recently added recipe for blueberry pie cupcakes with lemon curd frosting.

Since I got a bit of a sunburn the first day at the beach thanks to aged sunscreen, I didn’t mind spending the day in the kitchen.  So with the help of my niece and mom, I started by making mini blueberry pies from scratch.  I combined a few recipes and used my old standby, the Epicurious best pie crust ever recipe, for the crust.

My mom and I had purchased the perfect summery cupcake wrappers before the trip.  

    

I made the vanilla cake batter and filled each cup with a heaping tablespoon of batter, and then dropped in the pies.  Cover the top with more batter, and voila!

We served them up with lemon curd the first day.  I used Martha Stewart’s lemon curd recipe.  I’m always amazed how quick and easy it is to make lemon curd because it issome of the tastiest stuff on earth.

We had a great week at the beach, and when we returned, I was happy I had a chance to block a sweater I made for my mom this spring, the Sea and Surf Sweater (pattern by Nicole LaRoche in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n Bitch Superstar Knitting book).  My mom and I were leafing through the book in a local craft store, and both loved the sweater.

The color and yarn were so perfect in the original pattern (Blue Sky Organic cotton in Azul) that we decided to stick with it.  Here is the sweater being blocked just before I left WV to head back to Michigan.  I can’t wait to post a photo of my mom modeling it!

I love the wave pattern!

Finally, I just finished a quilt last night for my cousin Katrina’s new baby, Gideon.  I haven’t washed it yet, so it’s a little wrinkly.  But I thought I’d post up a few shots anyway.

I used some leftover Castle Peeps fabric because I love it so much, and finally made my first zig zag quilt! Here are some close-ups.

I can’t wait to meet Gideon and give him his quilt.

 

Oh, one more thing. Some shots from the garden.  When I left for North Carolina, the tomato plants had beautiful flowers on them.  Have you ever looked at a tomato flower up close?

And when I returned, there were a ton of young, green tomatoes!

 

Okay, back to work.  I leave you with a preview of quilts to come…the first two fabrics selected for the Pirate’s Daughter Quilt.  Hope everyone has a great week!

The Pirate’s Daughter quilt

My mom bought this beautiful print to hang in the room of her house that my 7-yr-old niece, Amelia, and I share when we visit.

Image

It’s called “The Pirate’s Daughter”, by Maia Larkin.  Mom shared the image with me and asked me if I would be interested in making a quilt for our room inspired by the painting.  This is a quilter’s dream!  I’m so excited to get started.

As I have a list of other quilts I want to make for friends who are having babies, I won’t be working on this one right away, but I have (of course) already started daydreaming about patterns and fabrics.  I’m thinking about using the washed out grey tone as the dominant color, and incorporating an array of vivid shades from the rainbow to reflect the pop of color in the painting.  Here are some of the colorful fabrics I’ve been thinking about.

Image

Image

Image

And perhaps I will finally tackle Denyse Schmidt’s Single Girl quilt pattern for this quilt?

Image

Here it is in a grey with bright, bold colors and beautiful hand stitching (by see lori sew).

Image

I also like this quit with a simple triangle design of grey and bright colors by Red Pepper Quilts.

Image

Also, what about this cute fabric for the backing?

Image

And I don’t want to get too literal, maybe black and white striped binding to match the little lady’s socks?

Image

Let me know if you have any thoughts/ideas!

 

P.S.  Can you tell I’m not very focused on my dissertation writing today?  Got back late last night from an awesome roller derby tournament with my league’s B-level travel team, The Motor City Disassembly Line.  Feeling pretty tired and beat up…will be more diligent tomorrow!!!