Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cheery Quilt top

Pastel Star Quilt

Yay! Quilt top is finished! I'm going to send it out for quilting though. My friend uses a service that she is happy with. I am capable of doing it myself, but I just really don't want to....

It did turn out pretty. My awful camera gives the color a slightly bluer hue than real life. Those yellows are supposed to be bright and sunny.

Here's another angle: Pastel Star Quilt 2

Now I'm sort of between projects... hmm... well I do have a striped crochet blanket to finish, there's all those tea towels I wanted to embroider and use as cloth napkins...I promised my daughter an apron ages ago... Yikes! I better sew the new curtains for the living room. My current ones are looking awful with sun fade.

edited to add: This quilt is a pattern by Atkinson Designs called Lucky Stars.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cicadas are just getting started

First Cicada 002

We had to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house to see the beginnings of the 17-year cicadas. Chicago has a tremendous emergence that is just getting started. I think my home is too far away from the old growth trees to have much of an emergence, but my parents area and my old stomping grounds on the north shore suburbs of Chicago will have a gazillion. Well.. 1.5 million per acre, so more like several gazillion.

We are pretty excited about this. It is a remarkable natural phenomenon that I seem to have missed the last 2 times it occurred in my lifetime. In 1973, we just moved to Chicago in June when it was at the end of the cycle. In 1990, I was living in Texas, but came up for a friend's wedding at the tail end of it. They were still dropping out of the trees, but had finished mating and so were finally quiet. Of course there were still abundant exoskeletons everywhere and the bride decided to move her outdoor reception indoors to the great relief of most of the guests.

Cicada on Nose 2

Cutie girl here thinks they are pretty awesome. They stay pretty still after they get out of their first skeleton and wait to climb up the trees. They have no mouths and no defense mechanisms whatsoever so although they look creepy, they don't skitter about in the typical insect creepy fashion. Her older brother got over his considerable squeamishness, but still prefers not to handle them. He said, "thank goodness the next time they come out I'll be 27 years old." He wants to move to Ohio for the summer where they don't have a cicada brood like this.

It's still chilly at my parents house near Lake Michigan, so we saw only just a few on Memorial Day yesterday. Last time I remember the birds were so fat from feasting, they couldn't even fly, but hobbled across the road, stuffed with the little delicacies. I'm told they are delicious and the newspaper is printing up recipes for cicada pizza and stuff like that. I doubt I'll get that into this though...

***Edited to add: Most of the Eastern USA has periodic cicadas. If he was in Ohio for the summer, my son would only miss the emergence of this particular brood. Ohio's brood emerged a few years ago...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tea Towel Swap

Tea Towel Guitar 003

I've had a respite from the parade of tea towels I've been getting for a Craftster Swap. Here's the whole guitar motif I did for rectangel. Pattern is Sublime Stitching:
Tea Towel Guitar 001

Sublime Stitching Lanterns for PinkyK:

Tea Towel Tour Lanterns 003

Tea Towel Tour Lanterns 005

And a vintage style kitty for doo_leroux. Pattern from Aunt Martha (available at Hobby Lobby, JoAnns and many craft retailers):
Tea Towel Swap Kitty

When I placed the kitty on doo_leroux's towel, it ended up that she was stealing a peek at the pinup motif done by another embroiderer. I think this is kind of cute:
Tea Towel Swap 3

I love embroidery so much because it is easy to do, but looks great all finished. The biggest decisions are making the right color choices for the various parts of the motifs. A good stash of embroidery floss in various colors helps a lot. I think we are going to do some simple embroidery lessons at my next Meetup.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mom's Embroidery

Mom's Embroidery  004

Last Thanksgiving, I pulled out some of the family embroidery to decorate the table and other strategic places in the house. As soon as Mom came over, she recognized this embroidery. "I made that! I'd completely forgotten about it!"

It came to me in the boxes of stuff from my grandparents when they were ill and going to the nursing home. That was an incredibly stressful time for my mom and it never registered in her mind that this had been hers.

Mom's Embroidery 003

It's two linen dresser scarves or maybe they are table runners. Mom remembers that embroidery was a way to please her often difficult mother. She recalls doing these sometime when she was a teenager. They are very nice. Even the hems are handstitched.

Mom's Embroidery 002

Mom's Embroidery 001

Nice work, Mom! I love these!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Molasses Crinkles Recipe

Donna asked for the molasses cookie recipe. There is a family story behind them.

My mom spent her earliest years on a rustic farm in Iowa. My grandfather's family had been Swedish peasants and didn't want to use these newfangled contraptions called "tractors". Needless to say... the farm grandpa worked was not too successful. This was some land on my grandma's side. Her people were Hungarians who immigrated here when they lost their land in the old country because of land reforms. The Hungarian side of my family adapted to new farming techniques much more readily.

Anyway... Mom was a little girl on the farm before they moved to town and Grandpa worked for John Deere (building tractors and farm equipment... oh, the irony...) She didn't have many playmates because it was pretty isolated out there. Eventually at about age 7, she was invited to sleep over at another little girl's house. That girl's mother made these cookies for her visit. My mom loved them and asked for the recipe, even though she was too young to cook them in the kitchen. The mother was so pleased to be asked that she sat down right away to write the recipe. This same little girlfriend also explained to my mom the shocking details of how babies are made.

Often I am a butter snob when it comes to cookies, but the spice flavors of these are strong, so you can get away with margarine or shortening. I prefer dark brown sugar and dark or"robust" molasses. This makes a big difference in flavor, as does using heaping measurements of the spices instead of level measurements.

Molasses Crinkles
Preheat oven to 375 and grease cookie sheets.

Mix thoroughly:
3/4 cup soft margarine
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses

Mix in gradually:

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 heaping teaspoon cloves
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Chill dough. It will be sticky. Roll dough into uniform sized balls and roll them in granulated sugar. Bake on greased baking sheet at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy! These are great at Holiday time because they aren't so sweet and the sugared outside gives them a bit of sparkle.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mexican Emboidery

Mexican Girl Embroidery

It's a little bit late for Cinco de Mayo. This post is inspired by Floresita, who is one of the bloggers for the Flickr Embroidery Group. I wish I could say that I stitched this lovely girl, but it was done many years ago by my Grandma.
Mexican Boy Embroidery

My grandparents were all in Waterloo Iowa, so a motif like this would have been exotic for them. I'd imagine this is from the 1950's or so. The two figures are at either end of a table runner.

Since there has been some discussion of showing the backsides of our embroidery. Here's grandma's backside too.
Mexican Embroidery Backside

You can't really see the detail, because my camera stinks. Even my hubby agrees that it's time for a new one.

In other news, Mother's Day was lovely. We squeezed in a lot including an overnight with my parents, brunch, followed by history and nature hiking at Old World Wisconsin. We had a great day. I got some really cute orthopedic flip flops from hubby, and handmade cards, a trail map and headlamp flashlight from my sweet kids for our vacation in June.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Julie

I was going to post about some Mexican embroideries my Grandma did long ago, but they'll have to wait because the irresistible aroma of molasses cookies is wafting through the house.

My oldest dear friend Julie is turning 40 tomorrow. These are her favorite cookies. Well... I don't know that for sure, but she likes it when I bake them. We've been friends since the 6th grade. Back then, we were in the band together, but she was much better than me and eventually made it into the jazz band. They made her play jazz french horn, so she didn't get much experience. We quadruple dated to the prom. 20 years later, she married her date, and I was escorted down the aisle with my prom date who stood up for her husband.

Back in junior high, we used to take the train into Evanston with our friend Nancy and go to inappropriate R-rated movies (and *gasp* unrated ones too) at the now closed Varsity Theater. I always told my mom we saw James Bond pictures when we really watched things like A Clockwork Orange and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Truth is that I didn't understand those films at that age anyway.

More recently, we took Roger Ebert's film class through the University of Chicago. This was before Roger's illness and we watched all of Buster Keaton's hilarious silent films. Roger Ebert had a way of ruining all the gags by explaining them before we watched them, but it was really fun. We signed up the next year, when it was going to be all about the French New Wave cinema. Roger Ebert got sick and we had a substitute teacher who switched the syllabus so every week, it was another film with a depressing French death...

So tonight it's dinner at a French cafe with our old friends from high school and bowling afterwards. I love bowling... and French Cafes...and of course, old friends..

Happy Birthday, Julie! You ROCK!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Quilt Under Construction

Star Quilt Progress

I made some progress this week on my star quilt. Here's 2 stars finished. I have 18 more to go. They do go together quickly and all the seams are matching up so far, so that makes my life easier. My thread keeps breaking for some reason. Some days I wish that sometime in my life I'd taken a sewing class and I might know what to do about that. I cleaned things out and got a new needle, but it still happens when I go off the fabric at the ends of the little units.

Here you can see all the "flying geese" star points all finished and waiting to be sewn into blocks. Behind my sewing place (um... dining room) is a big window to the backyard. Yesterday, the breeze blew in and the birds were actively chattering all day. It was lovely.
Star Quilt Progress 3

I've got lots of colorful scraps leftover from cutting the fat quarters. I think there's enough to make a few doll quilts or a baby quilt. I'm going to have my daughter help me sew these.
Star Quilt Progress 5

Here at our house, we've been sickish for several weeks. I must be getting better, because I did some spring cleaning yesterday and cleared out the closets of all the clothes that don't fit or are old and worn. My closet is the emptiest now. It feels great to get rid of all that stuff I haven't worn in ages. Hubby learned during this process that he has plenty of clothes. His side of the closet has about twice as much as mine...

I'm almost done with another embroidered tea towel for my swap. I just have to do a little face and I'll post a pic of it. It's a cute motif.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tea Towel Swap

Tea Towel Swap, originally uploaded by IamSusie.

I'm doing a tea towel swap and this is the motif I finished today for cupcakeguru. Several other people will be embroidering on this towel too and mine is also making the rounds. The cupcake and coffe/hot chocolate are an Aunt Martha's transfer, the "Sweet" is from my Sublime Stitching book.

ChelleyF and Rectangle have stitched a pair of monkeys and Hello Kitty motifs on mine. Click here to take a look. It's looking pretty cute!

It's fun to see people's stitching style. I tried to use more threads, but I like to use 2 strands of embroidery floss and use chain stitch. 3 strands somehow felt awkward...

I picked a motif for the next recipient. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Felt Foods!

Our Felt Foods swap is complete! We were really lucky that nobody flaked on us and we didn't even have to chase anyone down to get them to send on time. I made the package above for kitkabbit. My things were from various pattern books. I've always wanted to do a felt doughnut and cookies and this swap was my chance. I loved making the milk carton the best though.

Here's what the talented kitkabbit sent me. She made a swiss roll, peach, taiyaki (fishy), crepe, sakura mochi, fortune cookie, and cake slice! All of these were made into magnets and they are in use on my refrigerator right now. Such fun! Thanks, kitkabbit! I love them! Her package is bigger than mine. I do get swap anxiety about that when it happens...

She also sent my daughter a little miniature package inside a little plastic Hello Kitty container. These goodies are about the size of coins. My daughter loves them. I'm planning to make them into some little bows for her, but for now she's keeping her treasures together in their container.
We are planning another round of this swap, but this time it will be back to regular felt mascots and accessories. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pinup Hankie

Pinup Hankie, originally uploaded by IamSusie.

Isn't she cute? My mom has had this darling embroidered pinup in her downstairs bathroom for years. She found this at an antique mall, and later found one in pink that she gave to me.

She's embroidered under her clothes too... It's a little bit naughty, so click here only if you aren't offended easily.

Isn't that hilarious? I didn't photograph it, but she's not wearing panties either. Mom has always wondered if guests take a peek, but no one in probably 20 years has ever told her they looked.