Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mountain Fabrics

My mom and I found a quilting and fabric shop way up in Estes Park, Colorado. I don't buy souvenirs on trips (save books and field guides) but this shop had a lot of Free Spirit and Westminster fabrics we couldn't resist. Mom got a couple of gorgeous floral Anna Maria Horner Garden Party fat quarters that she has no plans for since she doesn't even sew.

Here's what I purchased. Four of these were on the 1/2 price shelf! I got the bright blue one (by Jennifer Paganelli) to round out the group. These are all one yard cuts and I have a booklet of quilts to make with all one yard cuts so hopefully I'll get this in a quilt all together....New Fabrics

My stash is getting larger! I still find that I don't have all the right things for some projects... Why is that? I am much better at purchasing good patterns and prints and staying away from hard to use novelty fabrics.

Looking through blogs this morning, I saw that Lily got a Viking Mega Quilter. I'm kinda jealous. The sewing lady demonstrated this for me at the quilt shop the other day. It has a very long arm to make the quilting step easier. At the time I determined that this was not for me, but now, I dunno...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to sewing!

My daughter and I made this receiving blanket for our friends' new baby. She picked out coordinating flannel and quilter's cotton. I trimmed them up into matching squares and rounded up the ends. We stitched on a packaged double fold binding and voila! Easy blanket!

Sewing project on Hello Kitty Sewing Machine!

I really need a new cover for that ironing board.... She used her new Hello Kitty Sewing Machine. It works great! It's really lightweight and easy to use. I prefer my high end Husqvarna Viking, but this would be a great machine for anyone to have to bring to classes and such.

Daughter is still distracted when sewing and doesn't seem to notice that I'm guiding the fabric most of the time. We also made Hanna Montana/High School Musical matching pillows for her and her friend. I normally refuse to buy things with licensed characters on them (Hello Kitty and other Japanese Cute are notable exceptions), but she was so excited, I gave in. I'm doing all the careful cutting and pinning for her so she doesn't get too frustrated. I find that sewing is easy once you get everything cut correctly. I want so much for her to enjoy sewing like I do.

In case my son feels left out of the blog, here he is at the Alluvial Fan at the RMNP. This is a spot where you can see the extensive damage done when a dam with faulty caulking burst in 1982 and flooded the valley below including Estes Park, CO. He thought this was the coolest feature we observed all week. As a teenager, I hiked all the way to the top where the lake is above the tree line. Son things this cool waterfall is way better than some boring lake anyway. It so happens that we have a connection to that awful flood. Our relative was a prominent citizen in Loveland, Colorado and was the president of the Water Board when the flood occurred. My dad says he always felt it was some sort of sabotage, but he felt terrible about what happened until the end of his life..

Monday, July 28, 2008

I'll take the mountains over the beach any day


We're back! We had a fantastic vacation at the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We stay at the YMCA of the Rockies. We highly recommend the Y-camp because of the terrific rates, facilities, children's and family activities, and the location surrounded on 3 sides by National Park. This is an old photo I took during our last visit 3 years ago from above the YMCA camp, looking down at their grounds. It doesn't show the spectacular snow capped mountain views, because those shots are all still trapped in my camera.

We dream of taking this vacation every year, but are only able to do it every 3 years or so. I even had the good fortune of being a staff member at the Estes Park YMCA during a college summer break in 1987. I was a preschooler day camp counselor and I only earned a little over a dollar an hour, but it was one of my most memorable summers. This trip we took a couple extra days to acclimate to the altitude in Denver and Boulder. This helped a lot and although we all had strange dreams and disrupted sleeps, we adjusted pretty well. My husband and I hike slow and steady while I label rock formations (pegmatite! biotite schist! silver plume granite exfoliation dome!), and look up birds and wildflowers in the field guides I carry along.

Now I'm faced with an empty refrigerator, laundry, children with no more planned summer activities and steamy midwestern weather. On the other hand, it is good to be back in my own bed with my own pillows!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CHA at Craft Critique

CHA is this weekend in Chicago. What is CHA you ask? (Okay, maybe you already know, but I didn't when I first heard about it.) It is the big trade show for the Craft and Hobby Association. This is the show where manufacturers unveil all the new products you'll find in craft, scrapping, and fabric stores throughout the year.

Check out the posts over at Craft Critique in the coming week. Several reporters will be giving sneak peeks at all the new products. Sarah predicts:
Japanese Kawaii (cute), and for winter... I predict some Scandinavian or Russian designs. Also fairy tale stuff; like lil' red riding hood and humpty dumpty maybe? Owls are still going strong, but add more woodland creatures to the mix please. And maybe some 80's goodness; neon, checks, rubber, lace, rainbows, unicorns, graffiti... I mean hells bells, where is the Electric Boogaloo paper line I have been searching for???
I hope she's right! I'm still in love with Japanese Kawaii and I adore woodland and folktale stuff. I hope to be able to go to CHA sometime. It sure would be great to get an insider's view!

Some beautiful handmade things found their way into my home recently. These are some lovely table runners my mom found in Hungary on a recent Presbyterian Church mission trip to help the Roma people (commonly known as Gypsies).

Hungarian Embroidery and Crochet

Hungarian Embroidery and Crochet

They are so nice! All the stitching is hand done by local Hungarian women. A large portion of our heritage is Hungarian and we have very few things from the old country.

Hungarian Embroidery and Crochet

Mom and my dad would have looked up the old village where her grandparents lived, but land reformers changed the names of all the villages. Mom and Dad didn't really have that much time away from their mission group anyway.

Hungarian Embroidery and Crochet

Meanwhile, the Susie Can Stitch family is going on a mountain vacation. We'll be hiking and horseback riding, learning geology, identifying plant and bird species, resting our aching feet, stargazing, reading, watching for elk, moose, bears, bighorn sheep, and the elusive mountain lion. I'll be back in about 2 weeks.

Summer Reading Meme

Rebel just posted this and since I'm trying to amp up my reading and spend less time at the computer and sewing machine, here's mine. I can't seem to pick only one book in some of the categories.

1. One book that made you laugh: The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols. The movie isn't nearly as funny.

2. One book that made you cry: Where the Red Fern Grows and The Snow Goose. As a child I read those books over and over each time knowing the endings and I'd weep throughout the entire reading. I cry pretty easily over sentimental things.

3. One book that you loved as a child: See above. I also loved reading fairy tales, mythology, and folk tales.

4. One book you’ve read more than once: One Hundred Years of Solitude

5. One book you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it: I am not embarrassed to admit anything. My friend brought Growing Up Brady to a summer cabin trip we take and I loved it. Did you know that Greg took Carol Brady (his mom on the show) on a date?! This is the book that confirmed all our suspicions that Greg and Marcia really were making out behind the scenes. The Brady Bunch is the Full House of older Generation Xers like myself.

6. One book you hated: Hmm.. I never finish anything I hate. I recall in school that Bartleby the Scrivener was very hard for me to get through, and it's a short story. I also hated The Handmaid's Tale.

7. One book that scared you: I don't read scary books... Hmm.. as a child I used to have many fears about hellish paintings and artwork imagery (traditional stuff like Bruegel or gargoyles and things like that). However, I couldn't help myself and I'd look at the images in my mom's art book collection.

8. One book that bored you: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King God, what a slog that is. Get back to the Shire already! Wicked is also really really boring after the fun beginning when the good witch and the bad witch are roommates in college.

9. One book that made you happy: I like The #1 Ladies Detective Agency books. Those are always a quick happy read.

10. One book that made you miserable: Twice, I've gotten about 200 pages into War and Peace only to give up with a "who the hell are they talking about?" problem. I've also read some of The Slave Narrative, and those true stories are sickening.

11. One book that you weren’t brave enough to read: My brother says that Moby Dick is fantastic, but I haven't tried it. (See Bartleby the Scrivener above.)

12. One book character you’ve fallen in love with: I love that guy from Angela's Ashes. I read all 3 of his books and love it that he became a teacher.

13. The last book you read: I'm currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I just finished The Last Battle in the Chronicles of Narnia. I was hoping to get my son to read the Narnia series, but he's not interested.

14. The next book you hope to read: I'm trying to read classics, so I hope to do A Tale of Two Cities or The Good Earth.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cotton Pots

Cotton Crochet Pots

These little pots are really handy for small craft supply storage.

Cotton Crochet Pot

I use sturdy dishcloth cotton yarn because it has a heavier bulky weight when crocheted so they hold their shape. They are still soft and collapsible.

Cotton Crochet Pots
The knobs are a button and a pony bead. I like the idea of a natural wooden bead, but the colorful button-bead combination is even better.

Cotton Crochet Pots

I enjoy making these and I hope to list some in my Etsy shop in August after we get back from a family trip we are taking out west. Etsy is fun but it takes a lot of effort to list new things constantly. I got distracted recently with quiltmaking and sewing for my family and I hope to go back to embroidering and crochet for the shop in the fall.

Happily, I have some baby projects to make. Our friends came home from the hospital this weekend with a long anticipated new member of the family. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Have you every felt such anger and frustration that you need to find a quiet place and punch-dance 80's style? Yeah, me neither, but it sure is funny in the movies!

That clip is from Hot Rod which we saw last summer in the theaters and just rented last weekend. It was really funny with goofy laughs throughout. Our kids also thought it was hilarious. It's PG-13, so it is mildly inappropriate. I like the theme of kids (well, these are adults, but they seem like teenagers) working hard on a big project. The cast seems to be having a fun time and we laughed even more than we have at some of Will Farrell's popular movies. SNL's Andy Samberg was great. Even Roger Ebert gave Hot Rod 3 stars.

The 80's music reminded my husband and I that we need to rent Footloose with the original punch-dancing Kevin Bacon:

Flight of the Conchords also paid homage to punch-dancing:

Got any guilty pleasure summer movies to recommend to us? Our Netflix queue is a little bit heavy with classic Japanese cinema lately. The kids aren't really into those..

Monday, July 7, 2008


Thread Crochet Edgings

What a relaxing weekend! the weather here was perfect. It was so cool, most of the bad mosquitoes were scarce.

Since I'm not crafting too much lately, here is a visit with one of my collections. I've been collecting vintage handkerchiefs for years. My mom gives me a little stack at almost every gifting opportunity. We find them at antique malls and they used to be had for about a dollar, but now they are more expensive.

My mom favors the ones with highly detailed thread crochet or tatted edgings.
Vintage Crochet Edgings

I love those, but I have a soft spot for the printed ones. Particularly if they have unusual colors. Mostly I have florals or nature motifs and not so much of the ones that are tourist souvenirs, although those are great too.

Interesting printed hankies

Occasionally, Mom finds printed ones that have beautiful handstitched edges:
Hankie Collection

Once Mom hosted a bridal brunch for a close family on the bride's wedding day and we gave several beautiful hankies from my collection as favors for the bridal party and the groom's family who had traveled all the way to Chicago from Brazil for the event. The bride used a beautiful elaborate white one at the altar and has saved it as a pretty keepsake.

Here's the pile of scraps from some of the hankies I used in a quilt as a gift for my mom. It was very difficult to get up the courage to cut into them, but I managed and the quilt turned out cute.
Cut up Hankies

I've clipped a lot of patterns and ideas for ways to use vintage hankies, but I hate to cut them up! This is only a small sample of my collection. I switch a few of them in and out of a couple of decorative places in the house, but mostly, they go into a beloved drawer that I browse through fairly regularly.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Summer Fun

Independence day marks the halfway point of the summer. Yipes! We don't have any plans at all of any sort this weekend. I think we'll try to get some mulch put into the flower beds and catch some fireworks somewhere. I feel like making apple pie too. The weather here is supposed to be totally perfect with highs in the mid-70's. I wish we were going camping. We tried to reserve a campsite somewhere not far away, but everything was booked. Don't feel bad for us. We like open weekends like this. My husband in particular needs to chill out and rest on holidays.

We'll try to picnic somewhere instead. This is really such a fun holiday. I love how everyone of all ages and incomes, even the disillusioned teenagers, come out for the fireworks shows everywhere. When I was a teenager , we often went to downtown Chicago for the Taste of Chicago and the big fireworks show over Lake Michigan. Ahh the follies of youth. Now it is so crowded down there, I wouldn't ever dream of attending. It was crowded back then too, but we didn't really care.


This was a couple of years ago, but it is one of my favorite summer pics of the kids. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Birthday Bunting

Happy Birthday to Cutie Girl!


It was yesterday and we celebrated by making a chocolate layer cake with ice cream and berry sauce. She likes to frost her own cake and she has a favorite set of sprinkles to decorate with:


I spent all day making her a last minute decoration This is a progress pic of her bunting (or is this a banner..?) I used the acrylic dyed trim I made a few weeks ago.

Birthday Bunting

I was thinking of putting her name across the bunting, but I ran out of time and now I can use it for other colorful occasions. She came home from summer camp yesterday and dramatically fell on the floor declaring it "GREAT!" but then she asked why it didn't say "Happy Birthday, Emma" Not enough time!

I actually need to do another long one so that they criss-cross our living/dining room area. My son wants one too and I think I'll do a more masculine version with batiks and no cutesy trims. This is a great stash buster project and I think it would look really cute with various sized rectangles. My rectangles are 6 inches by 7 inches not including the seam allowance. You can also do one the traditional way with pennant shaped triangles. The top here is double fold bias tape that came in a package. I used 3 packages for this length of bunting. The rectangles are spaced approximately 3 inches apart, but I didn't worry about accuracy because this is supposed to be playful!

I have a bag of old party decorations from past themed birthdays and the kids like to put them up when they celebrate, so there is an ecclectic mix of stars, rainbows, and butterflies in our birthday house.

We had a fun, simple family celebration for her birthday. The 4 of us went bowling and had pizza. I promised her a kid party later in the summer. I wonder if she'll forget about that promise. The summer is so busy this year...