Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Camping—a curse or blessing?

My family are big time campers. We’ve camped in the San Bernardino mountains of California, the High Sierras of Northern California, and also the mountains of Utah.
But I have mixed feelings about camping.
Don’t Love:  Sleeping in a tent because I never sleep well. Even with the air mattress the guys are filling up. No sleep equals cranky Cynthia.

Do Love: Seeing my kids have fun without any technology whatsoever. Nathan loved catching (and eating) these trout at Navajo Lake. Ilene loved roasting marshmallows each night. And Hallie loved the dirt—no pic unfortunately of that.
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Speaking of dirt…..Don’t love: Dirt and Grime. I didn’t get a picture of how absolutely filthy the children were but I’ll see if any of my extended family did. I just barely finished doing all the laundry created from this trip (3  days of laundry!) and some of the kids’ socks need to be washed multiple times to get rid of the grime.
This is my sis Carolyn drying a pair of grimey socks by campfire. Disgusting. Just drop ‘em in the fire sis.
Do love: The scenery! I’ve been going to Cedar Breaks since I was a teenager. Love it!
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See? Here’s proof I was there as a teenager. Why am I wearing a collared shirt with a sweatshirt? Oh the agony of the 1980s. How cute was our one-eyed dog Popette?
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Nonetheless….the Harrington family is a family of campers. Always have been, and I should just accept we always will be.  (The below pic is evidence of grimey children while camping, circa 1983, Heart Bar Campground, San Bernardino, CA.)
Left to right: The Harrington Brats Children: Mike, Me, Patty, Carolyn and Mark. (Dig the fringe Carolyn on your faux-Western pink leisure suit!.)
all five harrington kids camping
Ok, I’ll shut up now about camping. But I have the feeling there is more in store before the summer takes a bow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What a Bunch of Squares

This is my favorite quilt book—ever. I bought it a few years ago when it first came out. It’s really the only way I’ll ever make quilts again, fresh and modern with out fussy patterns. I have dreams of making nearly every quilt in this book.

This is my favorite quilt pattern in the book, seen above. It’s called “What A Bunch of Squares.” Cute name, huh? I have used it to make pillows galore, a quilt for my grandpa before he passed away, and now I have finally made myself my own queen size quilt for my bed.  I used mainly solids—Kona Cottons, Shot Cottons, a few of these fabulous handmade batik fabrics, and many, many yards of white cotton. Some of the squares are totally unique and many were cut using the stack-and-whack (*giggles*) method found in this book. Once I got that method down, making multiples of these assymetrical square block went fast.

I am usually the queen of no unfinished projects so I have no idea why it took me so long to finish this quilt when in reality each block took less than 30 minutes to put together, but that’s my life these last few years. I love 2-hour sewing projects for a reason. I just don’t seem to have more than a 2-hour block to myself (ever) to get things done. Sad, but true.I put all 25 of the 16x16” quilt squares together over a year ago. Then I put the quilt top together last fall. I finally added a 6” white border all the way around it last week. Then took it to the Stitching Corner in Orem, Utah to have it quilted (I do not quilt items this big….they hurt my hands and my brain). I bound it yesterday with 1/2” double bias in a lovely shade of turquoise, tossed it in the wash to soften it up a bit, and smoothed it over my bed by late afternoon. Oh how I love it. Repeat: Oh how I love it! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

DSC_0319 copyThe quest for a knock-off recipe of P.F. Changs lettuce wraps has ended! I have tried many, many recipes to try to re-create those oh-so-famous lettuce wraps with little success. Then I saw this article in Food Network magazine. Success! I used ground chicken instead and added some sweet chile sauce (for heat and sweet) in place of the rice wine and jalapeño. I had never cooked with shiitake mushrooms and I think those may have been the secret ingredient. My kids hated the mushrooms (surprise) so I gladly let them pick them out and pile them on Mama’s plate. Oh, and I eliminated those crispy noodles which I don’t think add much flavor but add a lot of extra frying time. Oh so dang good on butter lettuce leaves with a side of jasmine rice. I’m so, so, happy.

Look who made it to Etsy’s Blog!

Etsy is having a little (probably big) craft party to celebrate their birthday. The party is in Brooklyn, so I doubt I’ll make it.  But this was a little ego boost for me last week. :)
(Click image to read article.)
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Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Machine Appliqué

marimekko flowersI just listed a new embroidery design in my shop. It’s an appliqué of letters with some cute Marimekko flowers adorning each letter. Have I ever blogged about how much I love Marimekko fabric? Well, I should because Marimekko is a staple in the modern design world. And has been for 40 (or is it 50?) years now. Yummy stuff.  I want every pillow pictured here on the right.
Anyway, here is a quick tutorial on how to appliqué by machine.
First, hoop your fabric and sew the first stitching—this is calling the placement line. I don’t have a photo of this, sorry. Not all designs come with a placement line, although I think they should. The appliqués in my shop do because I am fancy.
Second, take a scrap of cotton, heavily starch it, and lay it over the first stitching. Make sure it covers the entire stitching area. If there is a hole to cut out for a letter “e” like here, I would carefully cut a little slit in the fabric now, then lay the fabric back over the stitching line. It is very difficult to cut out the little slit later after it has been sew down. Ask me how I know. (Ruined many items this way by cutting through all the layers of fabric.) See the little slit in the center of the “e”? Now you’ll sew the 2nd stitching, called the tackdown.
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Now remove the hoop from the machine (do not remove the fabric from the hoop!!!) and carefully cut away the excess fabric using some cheap little applique scissors. I use some curved fiskars that I got at Wally-Mart for $5. Try to get as close as you can without cutting the stitches, duh. If you snip a stitch (or two) it’s all good. Replace the hoop, stitch out the 3rd stitching, as seen below. This is kind of a zig-zaggy stitch to cover most of your frayed edges.
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The 4th stitching will be the final satin stitching, seen below. This will be the only stitching that will actually show. The bare spots you see are where the flowers will be stitched out. Good designs always remove unnecessary bulky stitching underneath. If not, you’ll actually see the ‘bump’ underneath your final stitched design. Not to mention it will be thick and stiff in those areas. Ok, enough about that.
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Now you are ready to stitch out your cute little Marimekko flowers. All done! Well, with the embroidery part.
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I decided to make all my cute little linen squares into a banner. How cute did my linen ‘celebrate’ banner turn out with all the little Marimekko flowers? I sure love it.
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the final product:
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Friday, June 04, 2010

Happy Trails

Our local walking trail has always been a great resource for fun in our little neighborhood. Within a 2 minute walk from our home we are on the river where birds sing freely and the trees abound.
There’s a spot on the trail where the river bends and the trees grow into a canopy. It’s always been my favorite spot whether the bare branches are heavy with snow or they are leafy green after a wet spring, like this photo.  Sometimes I just stand here and stare. (Notice the loaf of bread Hallie is carrying to feed the local ducks.)
On this particular day, the wind was blowing all the cotton puffs from the cottonwoods into a virtual snow storm. The girls loved the way the squishy cotton felt between their hands. I was surprised how soft it was as well.
 DSC_0182Treasures abound and the girls even found a geo-cache between some trees. We didn’t even have a GPS system with us! (Notice the cotton still blowing—in front of Ilene’s cheeks. Cute)DSC_0180

I even dared to let Ilene snap a shot of yours truly, covered in cotton as well.DSC_0184 copy

The rain began once again (isn’t Utah the desert?) but not until we’d emptied the bread bag, snapped a few more shots, and made a few more memories. I started coming to the Provo Trail 12 years ago to push a fussy baby in his stroller and fell in love. You probably understand why now.


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