Saturday

My Small World Quilt

Jen Kingwell
Here is my finished My Small World! After 1 year and 2 months, it is complete. My daughter, Bailee bought me the pattern last year for my birthday and I started working on it immediately. I got hung up with each section that required hand applique. I don't know why. I can do it, I guess I just didn't want to hand stitch anything. But for a quilt like this one, it had to be done that way, the right way. So I muddled through making hexies by hand, Dresden plated by hand, and a some curved pieces. I learned a few tricks along the way and I have to admin, every time I finished a hand appliqued part, I wondered why I put it off. It was all so very enjoyable. I did cheat a little; I paper-pieced a few blocks which was not how the pattern was intended but I wanted to see if it made any difference in how some of the blocks turned out. I didn't. So I machine pieced most of the quilt just like the pattern said to. After lots of thought I quilted this with a pantograph called Breath of the Gods. It looks like the wind is blowing across my little world.

So now I'm on to my current crafty project - hanging deer antlers. My husband is a hunter and he had one of his deer preserved in a way called European-style. I don't understand why they call it that, it looks rather southwestern to me. Anyway, I dug out some pallet boards I've been saving and made a panel to mount the deer antlers on. Now that it's ready to be hung, I have to decide where. I think that part might take me a little while since we aren't quite done with putting things back after our new floors were installed. I guess I will leave it on the floor until I figure out where it should go.

Thursday

Client Quilts Finished

I quilted a few client quilts today and considering how busy we've been with our home improvement project, I'm surprised I found the time. I must confess, it felt good to do something more normal.

I had fun choosing the right pantograph for each of these as well and the thread colors. The quilts both turned out cute and I hope my client likes the results too.

I attended a volunteer breakfast at my granddaughters' school and we all went home with a few hand sanitizers with thank you messages attached to them made by the 5th grade art classes. Aren't they cute? I took the one that says 'I love popcorn Thursday' because I pop the popcorn for that fundraiser every month.

Wednesday

What's on the design board?

Jen Kingwell
I am happy to report that my design board only holds one quilt right now. It's my second version of the Gypsy Wife. I am trying to follow the quilt-along for this quilt as each month a new section is work on. For May, it's section 5 and I have just a few of the blocks done for that section and I plan on completing the entire section this week.

Jen KingwellThe big news for me is that I finally finished the My Small World quilt top. It is on the longarmer right now and I have to admit. I don't know what to quilt on it. Originally I used a pantograph called Good Vibrations which was just wavy lines. I thought it would be a good simple design but after quilting 4 rows, I realized it was too simple. So I ripped out the quilting and started again. It's ready for a new quilt design - whatever that might be. Ha!



Saturday

Home Project Update - Walk In Closet


Our walk-in closet is pretty large. There's even a window in it. We have to treat it like an separate room. It's that big.


Jeff tore out the carpet and moulding in the closet and prepped the room so I could paint. There's tons of Closet Maid shelving in there that has to go. I am tired of taking clothing out only to find the wire shelf imprint on the sweater I wanted to wear. These photos reflect only some of the shelving as Jeff tore out half of it before I took the photos.


Once everything was removed from the room and the walls repaired - all those holes from the anchors! - I could paint. I purchased a gallon of the best Behr paint that Home Depot has. The color is called Fresh Croissant. Surprisingly, I used almost the entire gallon painting that closet.



After the painting was done we were ready for Andy, our flooring guy to install the new floor. The day after Andy finished the closet floor, we ran to IKEA and purchased one wardrobe unit just to make sure it would fit. On paper it did, but I need the visual to see how it looked before pulling the trigger on more of the wardrobe units.

The first unit fit like a charm so we went back the next day to purchase the rest only to find out that some of the drawers are out of stock. That was disappointing as we're both getting testy since every time we want to get dressed we have to figure out which bin our clothing is in. And the stuff that's on hangers is stacked on the bed of our guest room.

Our poor kitty who is so very nervous between his domain being torn apart, a stranger in the house making so much banging noise and losing all his favorite sleeping spots, he decided to make some new sleeping spots. Jeff is not too excited about it. He asked me to keep the spare bedroom door closed but I chose not to so the kitty would have some extra hiding places since he is so freaked out.

We are making some good progress. This photo is pretty dark because there's no light in the closet yet. The rich,dark color of the closet organizers make the room feel fancy. So I am determined to find an old chandelier at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to hang in there. In the meantime, we will just have to use the sun. Today it is supposed to snow, so the sun isn't much help right now. I hung an old embossed linen curtain panel in there. It is gorgeous. I wish I had two panels instead of just the one. On Tuesday the missing drawers will be delivered to the house so we will finish up the IKEA part of the closet installation at that time. Jeff is building a bench for under the window and some drawers and cubbies on the opposite wall from the windows. I can't wait until that's done but I'm sure it will take a while. All that sawing, hammering, staining and urethaneing takes time.

Wednesday

My Small World Home Stretch

I've been very sporadic when it comes to working on this quilt. I am happy that I've finished all the sections of this quilt except one. Of course for me, it's the hardest one. It's the one that requires tons of hand applique and English paper piecing. I don't know much about EPP but I am ready to get this finished so I will figure it out very soon.

I hand appliqued the rainbow and the dresden pieces and stitched them to their background today. In the pattern these two pieces are supposed to be hills on a countryside but in my version, I wanted a sunshine and a rainbow.

The last two appliqued pieces are hexies and an arch made up of small triangles. I really have the desire to get this done I just wish I had more free time. 

Monday

Trip to Menomonie, Wisconsin

We spent Easter weekend with my brother and his family in Menomonie, Wisconsin. It's normally a 4-hour drive that we made even longer by taking the back roads. We planned to stop at antique shops and flea markets along the way if we happened to find any. We did enjoy the view and with all the flooding that's been happening across our state, we actually got to see some up close. This is the Wolf River where the road is lined with sandbags.


We did find antique shops but I have to admit, after frequenting the Habitat for Humanity ReStores, I struggle to pay antique shop prices. Everything at the ReStore is priced to sell quickly. I've found many bargains there. I am by no means an expert on anything antique so many things I see I don't understand how it is priced. Currently, I am looking for old galvanized steel buckets. I don't care if they are a little rusty as long as they won't leak. At the antiques shop we stopped at, I've found them priced anywhere between $6 and $12. That seems like a lot for small rusty buckets.

We found a flea market in Princeton, Wisconsin. There were so many people there, it took us over an hour just to browse through all the goodies. I haggled with a farmer for a stainless steel milk bucket and ended up paying $20 for this beauty. It's a nice large size that will look cute with flowers in it on my front porch this summer.


I also picked up this chicken dish. I haggled the price down to $10. It is so pretty on my kitchen table. Just to prove my point, I took this photo next to a clear dish that is exactly the same as the bottom half of the chicken dish. I paid 50 cents for the clear dish at the ReStore. I am spoiled by the bargains I find there.

We traveled the back roads in search of an old antique dresser. Our plan is to turn a dresser into a bathroom sink. If we don't find one in the near future, we have a 'Plan B' but for now we will keep looking.

Our trip to Menomonie was wonderful. It was great to get my mother to come along. We had 4 generations together for the holiday weekend. It is difficult to photograph my mother, so sadly I have no photos of everyone together to share. Some of my favorite photos from the long weekend are of my granddaughter Chloe and my nephew Quinn together. They are close in age and like the same things. If we lived closer to each other I am certain they would be best friends as well as second-cousins.

Tuesday

Mary's Quilts

My friend Mary brought over 3 quilts last week. I told her I would do my best to get them done for her as soon as possible. As we walked over boxes of flooring to look at her quilt tops she understood why it might take a little while for me to get to quilting. She was in no hurry so it didn't matter to her. But it matters to me.

While our flooring guy, Andy was here doing the install I decided this was a good time to spend the day in my sewing studio. I would be out of his way and frankly, what else could I do? He needed lots of space to work.

I quilted one of her quilts today while chatting with Andy. Within a few hours I got one of her quilts done. It's bright and cheerful. I think Mary and I have the same taste in fabrics. I always love her quilts.

It's a nice feeling to get something normal done among the chaos of our floor project.

Saturday

Gypsy Wife #2 Quilt Along Progress

I completed the half-square triangle blocks for my second version of the Gypsy Wife today. I had so much fun choosing the fabrics for these two blocks. And I had fun putting them together.

I find it very satisfying when my pieces fit together like they're supposed to. Is it crazy that I like the looks of the blocks from the wrong side as well as the right side?

It is so important to press the seams and square up pieces to the correct size before sewing up the whole block. It make such a big difference in the results. And I love Best Press. It comes in such pretty scents and my fabrics are always crisp which helps with accuracy.

I am enjoying the Gypsy Wife Quilt Along and I am happy that the QA is doing just one section per month. It fits my time schedule perfectly.


Thursday

Jeff's Birthday and Fondant

My 9-year old granddaughter, Chloe asked me the other day if I knew what fondant was. I told her yes and asked her if she knew what it was. She described it as something like play-dough that was sweet. She said she saw it on an episode of Nailed It and she asked me if I would get her some. Of course I said yes. I also mentioned to her that if she had any extra when she was done making whatever it was she saw on the television show, she might want to use some to decorate her grandpa's birthday cake.
So we went to Jo-Ann Fabrics armed with coupons just in case the stuff was not on sale. Chloe was very excited. She chose some white and some with primary colors. There was also pastel fondant available but Chloe is not into those colors. She likes bold. She was disappointed that there was no purple as it is her favorite color. I reminded her that we could make purple so that helped her make the primary color selection. Fondant is not cheap. We came home with 2 boxes of the stuff to the tune of over $20. And that was after the coupons were applied.

I inquired about the television show, Nailed It and of course Chloe ran for her tablet and showed me an episode of it. I'm pretty sure they use fondant in more than half of the episodes of that show.  So now that she had the fondant I asked her what she was going to make and I think the question overwhelmed her. Or the show did. So I went back to my suggestion that she decorate her grandpa's birthday cake. The only problem was that I hadn't made him a cake yet. Chloe agreed to wait until the next day to use the fondant so I promptly went about looking for the right cake recipe.

After some thought, I decided cupcakes were the way to go. That way she could spend more time decorating them in a variety of ways. And her little sister, Avery could help too. It was a win-win. I chose a vanilla sour-cream cupcake recipe that yielded only 14 cupcakes. I hate when there are leftover baked goods that go to waste and since we don't really eat many sweets, I knew I would eventually be throwing cupcakes away.

The next day we all gathered around the kitchen table with a plate full of freshly-baked and cooled cupcakes. I gave the girls each their own cutting board, rolling pin and a plastic knife. They each took a cupcake and started to decorate them. Chloe says the first one she wanted to make for her grandpa would have the 'Green Packers' logo on it. So so cute!

Then we tasted the fondant and got a unanimous yuck! The box states that you can add flavoring and I guess we should have. For certain, we are all fondant rookies. I guess this means the girls won't be eating the leftovers.

As it usually goes with children, they lost interest rather quickly. With 14 cupcakes to decorate, they grew tired of it after the third one. So their mama started to decorate some which sparked the girls' imaginations and they came back to the table to decorate some more. As it goes with Chloe, there had to be one with a dinosaur on it. And Avery had to make one with a heart. The Green Bay Packers' green and gold was well represented on many of the cupcakes.

I sure wish I would have taken more photos while we decorated the cupcakes but I was too engrossed in being part of the experience than to stop and grab the camera. We all had such a great time.

So here are a few of the finished cupcakes after we sand happy birthday and ate some.

Monday

Patriotic Lap Quilts

Some of the ladies at the local American Legion post gave me their leftover patriotic fabrics they wouldn't be using. I stitched the fabrics together to make some patchwork panels and added borders with the larger pieces from the donated fabrics.

Using leftover batting from larger quilt projects, I stitched the batting pieces together to fit the patchwork panels and loaded them on my longarmer. This nice donation made 5 lapsized quilts that will be taken to the VA hospital at Christmastime.

Thursday

Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

I love to make chicken fried rice. I love it so much I make it almost once a week. It's an opportunity to use up any vegetables in the fridge that are left from other meals or from me over-buying too much from the produce department at the grocery store. My husband who never complains when I cook loves it as much as I do. Last week he mentioned two other stir-fry dishes I occasionally make which leads me to believe he is getting tired of my stir fry but is too nice to say so.

So I tried a new recipe - garlic chicken stir-fry. The difference in this recipe is not so much the ingredients but the sauce. And it has cashews in it and who doesn't love cashews. When I try new recipes I make them exactly as stated. It drives me crazy when people will comment on online recipes about how they didn't like the recipe then state how they changed things up. I can't help but think that maybe if they followed the directions it would have been better. So I followed the recipe as stated and the results were fantastic.

It was so good I had to take a picture.

Here's the recipe:
Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 cup mushrooms, halved
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cashew halves
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1. In a large pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and bell pepper to the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Remove vegetables from the pan; keep warm.
4. Heat remaining oil over high heat.
5. Add chicken to the pan in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes per side or until chicken is browned and cooked through.
6. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and cashews; cook for 30 seconds.
7. Add the vegetables back into the pan.
8. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch.
9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has just thickened.
10. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

I don't think I will make any changes to this recipe, we like it exactly as it is!

Monday

What's on the design board?

 I am slowing working on my second gypsy wife quilt. I finished section #3 today and I'm ready to sew it to the first two sections.

I like this variation of the quilt. I am using fussy-cut cat fabrics to make a whimsical version.

I think I might be ending my time at the senior center for a while during our home improvement project. It will be hard to give up but necessary.

Saturday

International Quilt Show - Chicago

My friend Sue and I attended the quilt show in Chicago yesterday. It's tradition for us to go to these events together. We are perfectly suited to each other during these events. We walk at the same pace and we like the same things. It makes it easy to travel to quilt show together. Yesterday Sue was on a mission to find a new sewing machine. We stopped at many of the vendor's booths to evaluate each machine. At the end of the day she got a really good deal on one. Here she is with her purchase. If I needed a new machine, I would have purchased the same deal.

We walked through the many quilts on display. Some of the quilts had a social justice theme. I took more photos of those than any other quilts. Over the past year I've seen many of them on display at various quilts shows so I felt like it was time for me to pay closer attention to the causes they represented.






I also had to photograph my favorite medallion quilt. I want to make my own version of one so I am constantly looking for inspiration.

Here are a few quilts I liked for their artsy feel and the color selections.





I was drawn to this quilt. It probably has something to do with my upcoming trip to Amsterdam. Seeing the Anne Frank Museum is on my mind all the time.


One of the fun parts of the quilt show is the shopping. I am always thrilled to be able to purchase fabrics from shops that I would never be able to travel to. I love the variety of fabrics available at these shows. Here are my findings from this show.


Wednesday

Gypsy Wife Quilt

Jen Kingwell Quilt
I finished my Gypsy Wife quilt today. I purchased the binding last week and finally had some free time to sew it on.

We've been so involved in home improvements that there's no sewing time!

It just might be a while before I finish another quilt but I am having fun updating my house.

Sunday

Milwaukee Brewers' Spring Training

Our spring training trip was a blast. We spent a beautiful long weekend with our son, Brian and his fiance, Amanda. It was great that he was willing to fly from Denver to Phoenix to hang out with us. As it turned out, Amanda was pretty burnt out from the rigors of law school and really needed the getaway. We were happy we could help.

One of my new travel traditions is to purchase lottery tickets from the different cities that we visit. I never win but they make cute souvenirs that don't take up much space - ha!

We stayed at the Grand Canyon University Hotel - it was recommended on the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training web page. It was a really nice place and we would definitely recommend it to anyone staying in the Phoenix area. There was a great bar area that was warm and inviting. They also had an amazing pool area that was very relaxing. I felt like we were at an exclusive resort.
Grand Canyon University Hotel Bar 
Jeff enjoying the waterfall at the hotel pool

We had great seats at the Brewers' game where we met Jeff's cousin Toni and her husband Les. They live in the Phoenix area and it was a great way to spend some time with them. It was fun to watch Christian Yelich hit a home run at this beautiful park. What a fun day!

Our great seats at Brewers' spring training
Me, Les, Toni, Amanda, Brian
An amazing thing happened to my son on his way to Phoenix. His friend Mark messages him while he is en route only to discover that Mark is heading to Phoenix as well. Mark's parents are snowbirds who happen to spend their winters in Phoenix. So on our day of rest and relaxation at the hotel pool, Mark and his wife spent the afternoon with us. We've known Mark and his family for nearly the entire 30 years we lived in Oak Creek. It is wonderful that Brian has what's becoming life-long friends.
Brian and his friend
The trip was great and a much needed get-away. We can now cross off the trip to Brewers' Spring Training off of our bucket list.