Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A thing for journals....

One thing I try to do each day (emphasis on try) is to journal. I started a few years ago after reading The Artist's Way. At Julia's suggestion, I started writing in plain old composition notebooks. They're still my preferred journal, unless, of course, someone gives me a fancier one as a gift! When I first started, I appreciated their plainness - if I messed up, no biggie. But then I got itchy to decorate. So out came the scrapbook papers. Nothing fancy, just a little Basic Grey to jazz them up. Then, about 2 years ago, I saw a pattern for a journal cover on a quilting website and knew I had to make one. This is it:
It was late September, and perfect for fall. At the same time, Katie needed one for her English class journal. So I made her this one:
I loved the way they turned out, but didn't love the ribbon closure so much. But, they worked well at the time. (At the end of the school year, I made sure to snatch Katie's back!)

In March, I made this one for my SIL, Andrea  to take to a Cake Convention. Mmmm, cake.

And then in April, Lucia, from one of my bees said to feel free to keep the scraps from her blocks. Denyse Schmidt, County Fair? Oh yeah! This is what I came up with. Notice the covered button - my first, and much more practical than the ribbon.
This is quite possibly my favorite. Followed closely by this one:

This cover hides my grid paper composition notebook. Did you know they even make grid paper composition notebooks? I know, right? Perfect for sketching quilt patterns! And the combo of Echino and linen makes me feel fancy.

And finally, this little one is my travel one, (hence, the buses) for when I don't want to drag my grid book, and journal book, and date book. It's a planner, that also holds list paper, grid paper and plain paper. Hubby brought it home from a conference over a year ago and quickly handed it over. He's well trained.
So there you have it. My collection. And with all the school supply sales over the past few weeks, I'd say I'm pretty well set for the next year.
Oh, but wait a minute, I forgot about these cuties:

They look so, I don't know, naked, don't they? Sounds like a project (and maybe a little rooty tut tut!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How Long Does it Take to Make a Quilt?

How's that for a loaded question?

I know I've been asked it. I'm sure I've even asked it, as in, "wow, how long did it take you to make that?" My usual response is, "too long" or "you don't want to know." Why the need to quantify? I think partly to add value (I put over 100 hours into this quilt!) or, as a quilter,  to either consider or rule out ever making it (only a couple of weeks? I could do that!) Sometimes it's just to confirm that there are others out there just as nuts dedicated as we are!

The other day, as I was pondering this heady question, I decided to give myself a little challenge. I'd make a quilt, start to finish, and time it. I had no expectations, no deadlines. I just wanted to see, for me, how long it would take.

This is how it went. I already had a bunch of fabric out from my mod mosaic quilt, so decided to go with that. And I recently saw this pattern that I wanted to try. Big pieces, simple piecing. Let the fabric do the talking.

1 PM - 2 PM  Fabric cut and laid out:

2 PM - 4:30 PM Top Pieced, Back Pieced, Binding Made, Spray Basted:

This middle part probably didn't need to take that long. I sewed and then unsewed the long strips 4 times! Even though I had no expectations, I think because I was aware of the time, I tried to rush, and we know what happens when we try to rush. So, I think I could easily have shaved off a half our here! (Not that it's a competition or anything!)

5 PM - 6:30 PM Quilting and Binding:

I went with the pattern's suggestion, and did straight line quilting. Again, I tried to save time, and went without my walking foot. Big mistake. Ever pick out quilting? Not fun. Again, a good 20 minutes could have been saved here. Free motion probably would have worked equally as well.

At this point, I had a little dinner, watched a little TV, and hand sewed the binding to the back. I didn't count that into the official time. Had this been an actual competition, I would have. *grin*

The result:

A cute little baby quilt, ready in my stash, for the next cute little baby girl who comes into the world.

So, how long does it take to make a quilt? 5 hours. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The "cook" part of quilt.cook.keep

When I started blogging, I didn't give much thought to the name of my blog. I think I named it Heather Kojan's Blog, or something equally as creative. I blogged for about a month with a whopping 7 posts. Seven months later, I resumed and logged another 30 posts or so. About 7 months after that, I fell in love with quilting again, found flickr, found quilting blogs (how could there be so many talented people out there loving just what I love? And blogging about it? Amazing!) and decided it was time to really try to blog consistently. And, since I was sort of starting anew, I wanted a new name. But it seemed like all the good/cool names were already taken (you know the ones, with clever spins on sewing, or references to zombies, chickens, betty crocker.) I was on my own. I didn't want to make this only a blog about quilts. I'm multi-faceted! I have other interests! (Although you can't always tell that by my posts.) So, I decided on quilt.cook.keep. Quilt. Obvious. Cook. Love to. Keep. A little cryptic. I also like to scrapbook, and more recently digital scrapbook, and am the memory keeper for our family. And so, keep. Plus, I love me some alliteration! And there you have it: quilt.cook.keep.

And so, in keeping with the cook portion of our show, a little cooking from this afternoon. Since I am childless this week, I thought I'd do a little freezer cooking. Plus it was a good way to keep an eye on the earthquake coverage on TV. Oh yeah. We had an earthquake! In Maryland! How crazy is that?

First up: Apple Cheddar Scones. Do you know about Smitten Kitchen? Even if you don't like to cook, you have to go there for the eye candy. My SIL got me hooked on this site about a year ago, which is a little ironic, in that she pretty much hates to cook and I used to be a caterer. Since finding this recipe, I've made this 4 or 5 times. Make them now, and they will become a fall favorite. I'm making a bunch for the freezer. Lady Bug, aka Katie, does not like to eat at 6:30 AM. I thought I can tuck one or two of these in her lunch bag, and she can have a quick bite before classes begin.

The recipe says to roll them in a disk, cut into sixths. I just used my largest scoop and made little mounds. Oh, and I doubled the recipe, too.

It also says to freeze the unbaked dough. I don't see myself actually baking these on school mornings, so I just baked them all. From a doubled recipe, I got 21 scone scoops.

Next, broccoli cheese soup. My kids love this. My husband loves it. I love it. And, we had a big bag of broc that needed to be used.

Don't judge me because I use velveeta. When I was in management training for TGI Friday's, that's what they used for their broccoli cheese soup. It's perfect for this. I don't have a real recipe for this, and I change it up most times I make it, but it goes something like this:

Bring 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a big bag of broccoli to the broth/water and bring to a boil. (I'm guessing about 2 1/2 lbs of broc went into this.) Simmer until broccoli is tender. In another large pot, melt 4 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil. Add one chopped jumbo onion, and saute until translucent, about 10 mins or so. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over onions and stir and cook for a minute or two, until the raw flour taste is cooked out (when it starts to smell like cookies is the best way I can describe it. You're making a roux!) Add 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 and one cup skim milk (that's what I had in the fridge - you can use whatever combo of dairy you like!) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick. Take a pound of chopped up velveeta, stir it into the sauce until it melts. (If you're still cringing over the velveeta, real cheese works fine too!) At this point, I take a stick blender and blend the onion mixture until it's smooth. Then, add in your broccoli/broth stuff, stir around and you're done! (I find that the broccoli breaks up just enough for me. I like it a little chunky. If you like it smoother, blend again.)

And finally, a little beverage. (Sorry, I'm not Sandra Lee. No cocktail.) Instead, Green Tea Lemonade! After plunking down $3.95 for a cup of this refresher at Starbucks more than a few times, I came up with my own.

In a two quart pitcher, steep 8-10 bags of green tea in a quart of boiled water (my new house has that instant hot water thing which at first I thought was ridiculous and now think is genius!) Leave it there for about 10 minutes, or until you remember it, which for me is anywhere from an hour to two days. Add one packet of Crystal Light lemonade mix, fill pitcher with ice cubes and fill remainder with cold water. That's it! The fresh lemon in the picture is just for show.

So, there you go! Cook times three!

Monday, August 22, 2011

High Hopes

I have them this week. Both kids are gone (Kyle to college - drop off went great - not a tear was shed!), Katie is at a friend's visitng all week and hubby is working/doing stuff all days and nights. So I have high hopes of finishing a few things. Got this gal pieced today. Just deciding, border or no border? The binding will be the stripe in the bottom right corner. Stripes, my favorite kind of border, followed closely by polka dots. What do you think?

Right now, measuring about 54" x 54".

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I don't love the quilting part of quilting. I don't hate it, but I don't love it. I feel like I have to psych myself up to do it (unless I have a dead line, then I just panic myself to do it.) I know I could send it out. I even have someone to send it out to. But, I'm also cheap, and a diy~er, therefore I quilt my own. So the other day, as I sat in the cave, I was looking at my bow tie quilt, all pieced and ready to go, and decided, it's time. I laid it out, figured out my plan, and estimated how long it would take. Two hours, tops, I thought.

In reality, it took three, including the binding. That's it, just three. If I didn't take breaks to see what the gals on The View were doing, it might have been less. I think that's my biggest hurdle, thinking that it's going to take days and days. Mere hours. I need to remind myself of that. Anyway, all that's left is to hand stitch the binding to the back,which was the real motivation for quilting it: 10 hours in the car this weekend.  Prime binding time! So, do you love every part of the quilt making process? If you could skip a part, what would it be?
In other quilting news (news? really?) I finished my blocks for the 4 x 5 Modern Bee
I went with the strippy circle look. I hope the gals like them. They were really easy to do. I traced a circle (about 8") on a page from the phone book (phone books make the best paper piecing bases - this, easy to tear away, no smudges, and free! Use a sharpie and you can see the drawn line from the back side, too!), then strip pieced (switch to a smaller stitch length to make paper removal easier), cut out the drawn circle, removed the paper then zig zagged it down. Easy peasy!
Next up: finishing my Modern Mosaic

These blocks were started by a bee I was in. I expected 22 blocks, but there was a bit of flaking at the end, so I ended up with about 14. I was going to make a twin-ish size, but now thinking of a baby quilt size (I still need a girly one for Neal and Steph's baby due this fall.) Do you think the black/pink combo is baby girl enough?
I love that Pat Sloan has dubbed August Finish it Up August. I'm trying, Pat, I'm trying! I'm pretty sure I'm going to have 3 or 4 days to myself next week, so I hope to have many things to show for it! Got anything to finish up? (We're quilters. Silly question. Never mind.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sew We Quilt ~ Win Great Stuff!!

So, ten days ago I was a featured quilter on Sew We Quilt.

But first, the back story.

In January, I joined the Mug Rug Swap on flickr. It was my third round. It was January. I was excited. Then I got my partner information. My secret partner was Madame Samm! What??!! I can't make anything for her. She's all famous and such. Seriously, it made me nervous (which was totally unnecessary, as Samm is as sweet and gracious as can be.) So, I sent her off her mug rug, we exchanged some emails, played the where are you from game, realized her people and my people were possibly in Cornwall, Ontario at the same time. I continued to follow her blog (Stash Manicure, back in the day.) And that was that.

A few months ago, I came up with a little tutorial using Quilter's Grid for a bee I was in. Hmm, I thought. Maybe Madame Samm can use this on her blog. I contacted her, she was enthusiastic, and my "debut" was scheduled for August 4th. At the time, I certainly didn't know about the Wantobe Quilter Campaign (and I'm not so sure she did, either!). On August 2nd, I sent her my draft, then promptly left on a camping trip. Imagine my surprise when I returned a week later to find my followers had grown by 700%!! Truly, I had no expectations, and was completely blown away by the Madame Samm "bump"!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Samm the other day. We talked about many things, mostly quilt related. She's doing an amazing thing on Sew We Quilt, for quilters new and experienced. You would not believe the amount of great things she has to give away. Thousands and thousands is an understatement.

So read this little blurb below. You gotta be in it to win it! You can email me your info. I won't do anything with it, except use it to enter you into the contest (and maybe send you a holiday card!) BTW, this campaign goes on until October!! Plenty of chances to win! And a big thanks to all of you for visiting, commenting and following. It means the world to me!

Hello, friends and followers!

I would like to welcome you to a Wantobe Quilters Campaign over at www.sewwequilt.com

Quilters can win too. They are having quilting supplies to giveaway 5 x a week for 12 weeks!

Supplies that will have you quilting before you know it…From sewing machines to irons, to die cutters,
to mats, to rotary cutters, sewing baskets, scissors, batting, needles, rolled sewing machine bags, patterns, books, magazines…everything you could imagine to assist you in being a NEW Quilter.

Even if you are already part of this community you can win quilting stuff too…Tuesdays and Thursdays are days for us.

All you have to do is give me your name and phone number and email sew I can submit this to the organizer, because if you win anything I can win something too.

All you have to do is be my follower and a follower over at www.sewwequilt.com That is all! There are over 53 Sponsors involved.

I am pretty excited to be part of this, sew should you.

P.S. You will not be eligible to win anything if you do not register with me (or with any blogger where you see this message)

Let me leave you with this gem from my grandmother (from the 1930s/40s ~ truly my Grandmother's Flower Garden!):

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!!

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your computer? I feel like I just went through a nasty  computer divorce, and it got everything - my pictures, my contacts, my, oh whatever, no use dwelling.

So, I have my new hard drive, and I've spent the day reinstalling all my stuff, finding all my favorites, visiting all my old and new friends.

In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be.....

Do you remember this, from Cinderella? One of my favorite movies ever. Well, I'm back, and now ....On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere and the world will open its arms to me.

Here's a little cutie from the weekend. This is Mya. She's the sweetest baby, just 4 weeks old. And yes, this is her new quilt, the last stitch taken just hours before!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Can you keep a secret? No? Good! Tell all your friends! I'm going to be a guest blogger on Stash Manicure on Thursday! So excited!

Samm has some wonderful giveaways for the next few months. Please pop over and say hi (especially on Thursday!!)


Clearly, minimal blogging lately. Still no computer. Using hubs right now. Thanks, honey! So, with no card reader and no photoshop, I give you a paired down version of my latest projects.

First, Bee Round Up.

This is the final month of SewFun2. And it was so fun! (Remember my wonky houses quilt? It was from my SewFun gals.) This month, it was Kelly's turn. She asked for a strip pieced circle on grey. This is what I came up with:

I liked this block so much, I decided to use it for my 4x5 Modern Bee on flickr. This one is for Val:

In the Lovely Linen Bee, it's Christina's month. Another string variation!

In addition to bee blocks, I've pieced a few tops. Just waiting for some quilting time!

On my husband's side of the family, three new babies are in various stages of arrival! Little Mya is already here! Two more on the way, one in October, the other in November. This one may be for Mya. The fabrics are special to me, as I made a quilt with these very same fabrics for my niece Cameron, 9 years ago.

Surely, with two more babies to come, one will be a boy, right? If so, he'll get this Pure quilt:

The flickr quilting world has been going bow tie crazy lately! I didn't want to miss out. (That, and I found about 100 3 1/2" off white squares in my stash.) I paired those with some older Christmas yardage and came up with this:

This might be my first finished Christmas gift of the year!

So, whatcha been doing?