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July 27, 2012

Happy Mail

A week's worth of mail in review...



Received my annual swap package from my college buddy/former roommate Dana! What could be more delightful than Fat Witch Brownies, a handmade notepad in cheerful orange, washi taped notes, and a dishtowel of a squirrel riding a bicycle? Answer: nothing. I heart Dana <3

I wish the squirrels in my backyard rode bicycles with baskets full of flowers. Instead, they perch on the fence and torment my dog, and make giant nests of acorns in our tool shed *sigh* That's what you get for having a 40 ft. Oak tree in your backyard.




Mmm....brownie porn.....after snapping this I rolled in them naked...I mean ate them.

I love that they're called baby brownies and have wee witches on the label. So cute. And delicious. Ray loves these brownies as much as I do, so I shared by giving him 2 out of 9. I consider that a fair deal when the commodity involved is brownies.


And I lied, because this next fabric delight didn't actually arrive in the mail...I bought it at my local Joann's.

In case you hadn't heard, Denyse Schmidt has a new DS Quilts product out at Joann's. They're called Quilter's Quarters, and it's a tied up bundle containing 1 yard of fabric with four different fat quarters printed on it. All you do is cut down the handy-dandy lines and 'voila!'...you have a bundle of coordinating fat quarters!

DS Quilts FQ's at Joann Fabrics

There are four different yards/bundles available, but I only bought 3 because the other one disagreed with my constitution (and by that I mean, it involved the color Peach, which is the color I consider to be my mortal enemy).

Here they are all chopped up. Mmmm...




And as you all know, I'm a sucker for any and all things Christmas. Also, as a good Southerner, I love all things related to Coca-Cola. I make Coke cake in the fall, glaze my hams with it, and I even rub a little bit of it in my hair when I'm having a bad day (not really...but maybe...)

Sooo, when I saw Fabric.com had all their Christmas fabric on sale for 25% off, plus a coupon for an additional 15% off (not to mention free shipping...because let's face it...who can go on that site and NOT spend the $35 minimum? Certainly not me.), my knees started buckling and my willpower snapped.

What does all this mean? Well dear sir, it means that I got 1/2 yard cuts of the Brr! line (minus the 2 stripe prints) for a grand total of $25. And I'm going to make a Coca-Cola themed Christmas quilt out of it, involving lots of polar bears, red, and paper piecing.

Those stripe prints you see below are some Jennifer Paganelli basics I already had in my stash. I didn't order the two Brr! stripe prints because I was already planning on using the JP ones. And hot diggity dog, but don't they match perfectly!



And last but not least, I did a little damage at another shop online. I meant to only order the Viewfinders, because the handmade goodies I've posted on Etsy made from it have been a smash hit, but as you can see, just a few other things sneaked in my cart. Already paying shipping...might as well make the most of it, right?


Have a delightful weekend full of champagne wishes and fabric dreams!

July 24, 2012

Make Lemonade

When life gives you lemons...

My brother in law probably had one of the worst birthdays in recorded history last year. Aside from being shot, stabbed, or run over by a car, it couldn't have gotten much worse. So this year, his wife wanted to throw a big surprise party with about 30 of his closest friends and family to make up for it. Ray and I played host, since it made it easier on her and I to prep food and decorate in advance. I also volunteered to make his birthday cake since I've done a few wedding cakes and have worked with fondant for various birthday cakes and whatnot.

He and Ray are both obsessed with Alice in Wonderland (in particular the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat), so I decided on this cake (sans teacup). 


So I spent the better part of a week doing prep work, including baking 8 cakes, making vanilla bean simple syrup, and whipping up some swiss meringue buttercream by eyeball since my candy thermometer broke (agh!!). I started assembling it Friday night, and that's when disaster hit. I had the cake levelled, filled, stacked, and ready for fondant, and despite the dow rods I'd inserted every two layers (and through the center of the entire cake), it collapsed like a dying star, ending up as crumpled blobs on my counter.

Naturally, I got hysterical. And naturally, Ray made a beeline for the kitchen and said with a cheshire-cat-grin, "guess this means I get to eat some of the cake now," and then started grabbing cake chunks off the counter with his bare hands. Even Sir Whiskers got in on the action and started munching on pieces that fell off the counter. *sigh* Anarchy, I tell you..pure anarchy!!!


So once my theatrics were under control, I managed to salvage the base of the cake. And I didn't even care that it ended up domed at the top due to my reconstructive cake surgery.


I just slapped some fondant on that beast and went with it. And I didn't bother to make it extra pretty and smooth, because it was almost midnight, my nerves were shot, and it's not like anyone but me was gonna know the difference anyway!

I opted for a Batman logo because we had a comic theme going on anyway with Avengers & Batman decorations (yes, we mixed Marvel & DC...the horror!), plus we were going to see The Dark Knight Rises as a family later that night. Worked out pretty well in the end, because it actually went with the party theme a little better, and all the little boys at the party loved it!




And that other problem? How to feed birthday cake to 30 people when you only have one 8" round cake? Well, there was no way I was gonna waste all that cake after the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. Did I mention it was a yellow cake, with swiss meringue buttercream that I folded cream cheese and strawberry puree into? It tasted like strawberry shortcake heaven!  And since my momma didn't raise no fool, I improvised and turned it into a trifle. I ran to the store in the morning and grabbed some heavy whipping cream, made some more strawberry puree with some added sugar and a little corn starch to thicken it, and layered the frosted cake chunks with the whipped cream & puree. Voila!

Lemonade out of lemons ;)

The party was a blast, and we had a great time grilling out, hanging with family & friends, and drinking Mexican Coke out of a bucket full of ice. Doesn't get much better than that :)

How was your weekend?
K

July 18, 2012

Around the House

Here's a glimpse of what I've been up to lately...


Didn't have time to quilt or bind my Modern Meadow quilt before sister arrived. It's currently lying on our dining table, calling to me. And yes, that is an Iron Man helmet in the background - Ray's been experimenting with Pepakura/resin models. He commandeered one of my cutting mats and an X-acto knife for said project. And on a side note, I caught him using my good 4" Gingher shears the other day to trim his mustache/beard. Brawl ensued.


My wonderful mother-in-law's birthday was last week, and I made her a frame pouch. She loves anything that's gold, fancy, and/or involves fleur de lis, so this pouch was pretty much the trifecta :)



Also, one of my favorite people in the world, Jacey, mailed me a Shaun of the Dead crossstitch and some fabric goodness. I heart her. Jacey + nerdery = perfect gift.



And remember when I introduced my fabulous new sponsor Caitlin aka I Don't Do Dishes a little while ago? Well I ended up scoring some of those green Ombre Dots I loved so much, plus some much-needed Couture Cotton in Bright White for a new quilt I'm working on.

The ombre dots are calling to me - wanting to be made into a new summer bag - and I think I'm going to pair it with some funky Echino. The print below is the current front-runner, but I'm still holding tryouts.



Y’all might have noticed that I haven’t been popping up on here nearly as much as usual the past month or two. And you might have also noticed that the majority of the things I have been posting are for my Etsy shop. There have been a lot of life-altering conversations going on in our household lately, involving family, careers, dreams, goals, etc.

Basically what it boils down to is that we want to find a way to make it work as a one-income household when we have kids so I can stay at home, and as things stand right now, we can’t possibly make it work. So there’s been a lot of prayer and soul-searching going on, and ultimately we’re going to take that leap of faith and hope things work out. Not only because I want to be home with our kids, but also because it’s extremely frustrating to have to get up each morning and prepare myself to spend 7 hours working at something that’s not my passion. I feel like I’m wasting myself and my talents, and it gets harder and harder to trudge into work each day and motivate myself to care about my work. Which upsets me, because I pride myself on being a hard-working, reliable employee…so as my wanderlust increases, it’s not really fair to either party for me to be there.

So I’m going to make a run at possibly running a home business doing what I love – designing patterns and sewing handmade bags, household goodies, and quilts. Right now I'm gearing up my shop, and the goal is to have at least 30-35 handmade items in it by the end of the month. I’m still going to work full-time for the foreseeable future, and I’m not operating under any illusions that I’ll be able to fully replace my current income with it once I do quit, but I am hoping to supplement it enough that we could eek by with only one steady paycheck and still manage to feed ourselves + hypothetical baby.


Quite frankly I’m a bit terrified – not only at the thought of sacrificing financial stability, but also that I could be responsible for another human being at some point in the near future. Every hour, of every day. Yikes. The first time we want to go to an impromptu movie is gonna be a real shocker, because we can’t just leave the baby on the sofa with Sir Whiskers and catch a matinee (not that he isn’t responsible…he just has no opposable thumbs to work a phone in case of an emergency).

So yeah. Here goes. Keep us in your prayers as we take the plunge!

July 9, 2012

Weekend Sewing

Strap Clutch

Remember my friend Dana? The one I have annual craft swaps with? (2011 swap - I sent this, she sent this...2010 swap)Well I've been trying to cook up a 2012 present for her for a while, and I finally settled on this bag. I bought the pattern (Keyka Lou's Strap Clutch) a while ago, and decided to use it for the first time this weekend since I'm finally working on my New Year's resolution to get serious about my Etsy shop.

Once I finished the bag, I thought to myself "this looks like a Dana bag". So I made a second one, and offered it up to her on Facebook like Andromeda to the Cracken. She likey, so I'm mailing it to her today. And since she lives in NYC now, I also explained that I accept Fat Witch brownies instead of handmade goods/art in return. Mmmmm.
Strap Clutch


The fabric is from Joel Dewberry's Aviary 2, and the solid is Kona in Medium Gray.


Strap Clutch


And just to keep things fun, I made a kitschy companion for the classy JDewbs clutch. I felt like it might get lonely in my Etsy shop without a companion. Yes friends, it's true, I do attribute imagined personalities to my handmade goods. In case you were on the fence about my sanity, go ahead and plant your leg on the "Kaelin's crazy" side.

The viewfinder fabric is from Melody Miller's Ruby Star Rising line, the body is Essex Linen in Putty, and the interior fabrics are from Joann's (the houndstooth one is from one of Denyse Schmidt's many DS Quilt lines).




Mmm...linen and polka dots. The only thing that could make this bag yummier is if it were stuffed full of Fat Witch brownies.

Both bags are now in my Etsy shop!

July 2, 2012

Farewell, crap piles!

Restocking ye olde Etsy shop


My sewing room was starting to look like Yucca Flat after the blast, so I decided to do some intensive cleaning this weekend. After 2 hours of blood, sweat, and fabric, I noticed I had an abundance of what Ray likes to call "crap piles". Whenever a surface starts to get cluttered, rather than putting all the items away, I have a bad habit of sweeping it all into a giant pile and pushing it off to the side. Since I haven't cleaned my sewing room since Christmas, I had an abundance of "crap piles" around the room, consisting mostly of UFO's. I'm really bad about cutting fabric for a project, and then forgetting about it for weeks/months after a more pressing project pops up.

So in the name of reducing the number of Crap Piles and my "to do" list, I sewed up several of my UFO's and listed them in my Etsy shop. My favorites definitely have to be the two frame pouches. I was a little freaked because this was only my second attempt (the first one being a swap pouch for Kelly), but I was really happy with how they turned out!


Heirloom Frame Pouch


I made the Heirloom pouch first so I could get a little practice in before tackling the one using my precious Echino Bee fabric. I used 6" metal frames purchased at Joann's, and a fabulous tutorial by my good friend Kristie. I've been wanting to try her tutorial for a while, and it didn't disappoint. SUPER easy to follow and each pouch took only an hour to complete :)


Heirloom Frame Pouch

The only thing I did differently was add a layer of flannel in between the lining and exterior. I was worried the quilt batting might be a bit too thick and make it difficult to wrangle the seams into the frame. The flannel worked out nicely, giving the pouch a little more weight and body without a lot of bulk.

Echino Frame Pouch

*sigh* Isn't this Echino print to die for? It's hands down my favorite fabric in the whole wide world (followed closely by the dark purple version). I saw these prints for sale at Purl Soho back in 2007 when I first started sewing, and I debated for months about whether or not to buy them...I still kick myself daily for not getting yardage when I had the chance. What little I have has been obtained by swapping with very generous friends :)


Echino Frame Pouch

FYI, the other pouches pictured above were made using my box pouch tutorial (top left), and Keyka Lou's Pocket Clutch pattern (top right). All pouches are now for sale in my Etsy shop :)
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