Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another fantastic fabric giveaway

Little Bluebell is giving away some fantastic Bliss fabric.  Check it out and enter to win!

I'm hoping to have some halloween projects to post later.  My sewing machine and I were not agreeing so I decided it needed a time out for now. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pictures of the painted bathroom

A few weeks ago, Mr. Moose and I decided it was time to make the house a home which means turning it into a place we want to live.  Neither of us likes bland, beige walls.  We started in the master bathroom mainly because I'd painted light blue swatches a year ago and neither of us liked the colour so it didn't get painted, but we didn't know what to paint.

This morning I set out to take pictures.  It started like this:
I finally got him to lay down (and turned off the flash) and here we go.

That lump on the floor?  Dog butt.  Sure.  He lay down.  In the bathroom.

I think the glare on the last picture is dog drool.  I'm pretty sure he licked the lens.

I spent a day at work reading.

Normally, there would've been a blog post yesterday.  I usually will take a break throughout the morning if I find I'm losing focus and stop thinking about work.  At that point, I'll create a blog post with pictures I've uploaded from home, or even text that I've sent myself for future blog entries.

Yesterday, I got to work and my computer was doing funny things.  Really funny and it wouldn't connect to any server.  So I logged off and tried to log on again.  "Your account has been deactivated."  Very funny.  Let's try that again.  "Your accont has been deactivated."

Ummmmm.  I peek at my boss's office and try again.  Third time's the charm right?  (I know.  And I'm IN I.T.!)

Next step?  Call the help desk with a healthy dose of "WTF?"

"One moment....  Yes, your name is on the list of people who've been hit by a virus.  We've shut down your account and will be scanning your profile.  Please disconnect your computer from the network and someone will by by to scan your desktop to make sure that it has no virus." 

Ahhhh ok.  Perfect.  I hang up, disconnect my computer and wait.  I drink some coffee and wait.

And wait.

I pick up my book that I use for bus reading and I read. 

Two hours later, I've told my coworkers, finished my coffee and I'm really a lot like a hummingbird in my cubicle.  Focusing on one thing for a few seconds before popping my head up to see if anyone helpdesk-like is making their way to my desk. 


I finish my book.  Talk to my coworkers.  Call the helpdesk for an ETA.  No ETA.  Large volume of people affected, no idea when they'll get to me. 

Project manager suggests that working downtown is great with all the shopping nearby.  I go shopping and return to my desk 33 minutes later with a stack of books from the used book store believing that SOMEONE would've been to my desk by now.


I read some more, eat lunch, check with the chair of my afternoon meeting to make sure I have the time and location right.  Read some more.

Attend my meeting.  Project manager tells me I might as well go home so at 3:05pm I hit the road (ok, the bus route) and I'm on my way home.  Today is my day off.

Do you think by Monday I'll have my account back?  How about Wednesday since I'm out of the office on Monday and Tuesday?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Books and randomness

I haven't sewn a single thing since Sunday.  Not a single stitch.  I'm a little sad about it because I participated in another blog challenge to complete one thing this week. ONE.  I challenged myself to applique the dandelions onto Dandelion Wishes.  It's funny, I was afraid of applique until I took a class in it.  Then I realized how easy it really is.  So it's not that I'm dreading the project.  I'm just procrastinating for no good reason.  I also may have suggested in addition to applique that I could actually get the third border sewn onto my scrappy nine-patch.  Uh huh.  I did.  It may be a good thing that I have Friday off.

In other news, I've been catching up on my Library reading.  I learned of a local author's book at the murder mystery night I attended so I had to get my hands on it.  Luckily, the library had a copy and I've been reading Touch by Gayleen Froese all week on the bus and at lunch.  I'm really enjoying it and I'm glad I picked it up.

I've also been reading Harlan Coben's Deal Breaker in the evenings.  Another fantastic book that I struggle to put down.  Last night, I was falling asleep while reading so I finally gave up on those last 25 pages.  It's always better to REMEMBER a book.  I wasn't falling asleep because the book is boring, not at all.  It's so good, I couldn't put it down, even when my body was telling me I needed to sleep.

I've also returned to healthier eating.  This means actually eating IN instead of out.  No more ordering pizza because we're both tired and lazy.  No more picking up fast food because we can't really decide what we want to eat.  Last night I made pork chops, mac and cheese and broccoli for dinner and it tasted way better than anything I've eaten in the last month (well, except the Thanksgiving turkey).  My lunches have been healthy(er) frozen meals.  Some don't taste all that bad, but for what it's worth, Michealena's taste like cardboard.  Ick.

I'm cursed with a complete dislike of sandwiches.  Especially sandwiches that are made and then sit around getting soggy for several hours before they're eaten.  Ew ew ew.  There's also something fundamentally wrong with cold bread.  Even room temperature bread is iffy.  So you see my problem with lunch, right?  I have weird food issues - that there is my problem.  Soup and a grilled cheese?  Sure, but that's a little hard to make at the office and it's surprising how hard it is to find a good grilled cheese sandwich.  Most places pile on too much cheese or use weird bread or add other things to it that just don't belong. 

So.  Yeah.  Maybe I should go with a Wordless Wednesday.  That there was some meaningless, random babble.  And you didn't see what I deleted...

I blame the bagpiper that I can hear playing somewhere in the distance.  Please, someone, explain to me a bagpiper in a city's downtown at 8:30am? 

(The below picture is not from my city, nor was it taken at 8:30am, but isn't it pretty?)
I took this while sitting in the middle of rush our traffic in Toronto.  I had plenty of time for random shots of random and not so random buildings as we waited and waited and waited to move single car lengths at a time.  I will never, ever complain about rush hour here again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The bag once more

I just wanted to share this bag again for Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday.  It's a terribly simple pattern - I think it took me only a couple of hours to make.  It's the Pick a pocket bag from  I even bought extra of the two black and white fabrics because I loved them so much.

The bag was super easy to cut out, layer and sew together, even though I'm really not used to sewing that many layers at one time.  I think if I were to make it again, I'd make some changes to it - first off, making it larger - but it's  such a sweet little bag that I can't help loving it.  And the batting it uses makes it really work well as a slightly insulated lunch bag.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fantastic giveaway

Canton Village Quilt Works is sponsoring a giveaway on Jaybird Quilts.  There is some great fabric there and 3 different giveaways to win.  I personally love the batiks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Operation: Finish Stuff is over

And I did finish something.
That quilt top is sewn together and it`s not as horrific as I thought it might be.

Not quite done:

 Dandelion wishes still needs the flowers appliqued, I did get the rows sewn together last night though.

Bonus project that I found in the bottom of my quilt bin just needs the binding hand stitched down on the back
Got the blanket stitch done around everything but the cat - I need brown thread, then binding and it`ll be done!

Scrappy nine patch, just needs one more border.

3 tops almost done!

AND one more bonus project thanks to a trip to the fabric store.  I have a new purse!
SO simple.  It`s from - free pattern.

Day 2 of Operation Finish Stuff

And I slept in.  I'm just getting up and it's 11:30.  On what planet does sleeping until noon = getting stuff done?  Ditto going to the Women's Show yesterday.  I had a fantastic time yesterday though and bought a mani/pedi for $49. Yay for manicures and pedicures.

Anyway, back to Operation: Finish Stuff (so I can buy more fabric).  I've learned a couple of lessons on this.
  • Make sure you know where everything is BEFORE the night you plan to start.  I've wasted a lot of time trying to find stuff and in the interest of just getting going, I stopped looing for my rotary cutter completely.  Luckily, I haven't needed it, yet.
  • Be strong.  Murphy's law, someone is ALWAYS going to call and ask if you want to do something.  Every.  Single.  Time.  
  • No, you can't go for breakfast with friends and then the women's show and still get home before noon.  I don't care if it starts at nine.  It isn't happening.
  • I can't be hypnotized on a stage while sitting beside a hot fireman.
  • I'm not a morning person when given a choice so I can't expect to be up and at 'em bright and early to work on unfinished stuff.
  • Borders take a long time to do right on a queen sized quilt.
The good news is that so far I have sewn Dandelion Wishes up.  I've sewn up the psychedelic quilt without sashing and it doesn't look that bad.  I have two borders done on my scrappy nine-patch and it looks great.

Up for today:
  • Get that third border on the scrappy nine patch.
  • go buy a new rotary cutter.  This means that when I find my other one, I'll have two here for when Mom comes to quilt and a cutter to take to retreats.
  • Buy fabric for strawberry pillows - even better if I can find Strawberry Shortcake fabric for my niece.
  • Buy backing fabric and batting for three quilts
  • Put together my cat appliques and either find their instructions or fake it and finish them (I forgot they were at the bottom of my quilting bin)
  • Finish cutting the fabric from grandma
  • Take pictures of everything I accomplished
Aaaaand finally (or likely first)
This has been a fun weekend and I even found an idea for a new quilt!  I'll probably also buy the fabric for it at the same time as I buy my other fabric.

And now because I like picture posts, the furry Mooses (aka, our pets)
Why, yes, she is eating that grass.  And yes, it IS fake grass that we bought thinking that would stop the cats from trying to eat it...

Friday, October 15, 2010

I think I'm going to have a UFO weekend.

No, I'm not going to Roswell.  I'm not even going to Vulcan, Alberta  (I wish I were kidding).  I'm going to my sewing machine to work on some quilt projects that have been laying around far too long.  First up is the first quilt I ever started.

I made this using a lot of scraps from my mom's stash.  What can I say, I was bored one weekend so I started.  It's been hanging around for about five years.  Yes.  The borders have been cut out the entire time.  I waffle on how I feel about this one, but as of last night, I liked it again.  I particularly like these pictures
I'm kinda excited that this weekend will see the binding (isn't it pretty) finally added - red then cream then navy.  Then comes the decision I've never actually made before - how to quilt it.  Mom knows a couple women who do long arm quilting, I suspect I'll use her recommendation and then hopefully they'll have a suggestion for this busy quilt.

Next up on my list of things to finish is a quilt that defines poor fabric choices.  Don't get me wrong, the fabric is great and I love each individual fat quarter.  However, once put together it's a little hard on the eyes.

Why yes, that quilt does have pink and orange and lime green in it.  And purple too!

No.  I don't know quite what I was thinking.

Finally, we have my favorite quilt.  (Yes.  I just changed the subject)  It could be because it doesn't blind me when I look at it.
This one has all the rows ready to be sewn together then appliqued and finally I need to choose a binding for it.

The best part about finishing these three quilt tops?  I can buy more fabric.  First up will be backing and batting for all of them.  And binding because I'm a little dense and didn't buy binding for any of them.

Also on the list if I get bored of just sewing, I have fabric to cut up.  This quilt is kinda special though and it won't get put together this weekend.  First, the fabric, then the story.
That there is some unattractive fabric (particularly that big piece in the second picture).  We don't even know what it's supposed to be.  There are several theories:  roses and butterflies, pineapples or perhaps some kind of alien nut.  Regardless, it's going to be used in a quilt.

This is all fabric my Mom inherited when her mother-in-law (my grandma) passed away several years ago.  In all of the rooting through fabric over the weekend, she decided we needed to do something with some of the fabric from Grandma.  I tried to match them up and this is probably less than half of the fabric available to choose from.  I finally came up with this grouping of fabrics that will be used to make a flying geese quilt.  The ugly fabric on the end?  It's going to be cut into 1.5 inch strips and used as a narrow sashing and border.  The dark paisley behind it will be the outer border.  Oddly enough, for the pattern I choose, these fabrics were the exact measurement.

Mom wants to work on it together so I'll cut all the fabric into strips and over time when we get together, we'll start putting this together bit by bit.  Then it's going on my sofa with a flannel backing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cutest pillows EVER

Must. Have. Strawberry. Pillow.

If you feel the same way, a tutorial is available.

Colour in quilts

When it comes to quilts, my biggest struggle is colour.  I happen to like bright, bold colours and while they're gorgeous, they require a bit of caution when putting them into a quilt.  You'll see this when I post my UFOs here later this week.  My quilt shop offers about 6 weekend classes on the colour wheel and using it in your quilts.  I will be signing up for that.

But in the meantime, I decided to take some inspiration from other sources.  First, here's a quilt my Mom is working on
I love the blues and yellows so much.

Yeah, this is my wedding bouquet, but look at the oranges and reds.  Which is where I get into trouble.  
I love the colours in this photo from St. Andrews in Scotland, but I would never walk into a quilt shop and go straight to them.  Maybe I should.

Pinks are another colour that I don't often choose, but it looks stunning here with grey and green
And here with darker colours and white.
Or maybe even black and brown.

I think my next fabric purchase is going to involve pulling colour out of a picture to use in a quilt.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini Quilt Retreat

For Canadian Thanksgiving, I went home to my parents' farm in Saskatchewan.  I love it there, it's so peaceful, quiet and distraction-free.  Before this trip, I'd decided that I needed to stop calling myself a quilter.  The plan was to finish the projects I've been working on and then hand over leftover fabric (there's a lot), patterns and magazines to my mother to add to her massive collection.
This here is her collection of fat quarters (2.5 rubbermaid containers), fabric from my grandmother (large cardboard box) and batiks (another rubbermaid container).   The toys in the background belong to the grandchildren.  This doesn't include her Christmas stash, or the projects she's already got bagged with their patterns waiting to be cut into.

Why is this all spread out on their living room floor?  She had a few projects she needed to pick fabric out for.  So, while she was planning to go out and run the combine, I was supposed to pick through and make fabric matches.  One of her projects is kinda awesome.

She needs to take that little panel of the woman (beside the stuffed dog paws) and turn it into the centerpiece of a bag.  I needed to pick the fabric for it.  Unfortunately in this picture, the fabric is all buried under that tulip fat quarter that I never, ever thought we'd find a use for.  Imagine my surprise.

Anyway, my goal was to finish one specific quilt top - the one I'm furthest behind on.  I'd gotten to a point where I had stacks of pink and blue four-patch blocks sewn together (Seen here with the pattern)
I had completed one block before I'd put it away, and had the rest of the fabric cut out and waiting to be sewn up
I just needed to make it into the actual quilt top.  So I got started sewing.  (I LOVE my Mom's sewing machine!)
I love all of the fabric for this quilt.  Most of it was actually bought with other projects in mind.  The pink batik in the large squares was meant for a fantabulous pieced tulip quilt.  Unfortunately I misplaced the magazine with the pattern for it.  The orange and purple swirled batik was meant for a table runner, but it got commandeered for this project since I NEEDED to use the awesome pink batik.  Yes, it was a need.  (And I doubted that I'm a quilter?)

I got the quilt to here (love the toys lined up against the wall) before the grandchild invasion happened.  My brother and his family got out for Thanksgiving dinner and my quilt quickly turned into an obstacle course for that large truck in the background.

I think it looks pretty good though.  The yellow in the middle?  Let's talk about that.  This quilt probably would've been further along had I not made a few key mistakes.  First was assuming I had enough strips to make the large blocks so I went ahead and cut the smaller strips for the corner four patches.  I didn't.  I came up ONE block short.  What to do?  Hey!  This yellow will work!  Yeah.  It doesn't so much work as fill the gap.  But once it's all put together, there are flowers applique'd on it.  That yellow is the yellow of the flower centres (as well as the sun).  Sooooooooooooo we rationalized it.  That center piece is the sun in my flower garden.  And all of the applique'd flowers will be turned gently towards the sun.

You see it, right?  No?  Oh well, it's just going on my sofa anyway.

The pattern I used for this quilt is called Dandelion Wishes.  I took a picture of it as well because apparently I was bored.

Next time I might actually try to make the quilt in the colours pictured.  I also signed up for the quilt retreat in my home town in April.  I guess I'm not giving up quilting yet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate overdose

Last week was my Mom's birthday.  Normally, I'm not a chocolate lover, but she is so I figured what the heck, I'm going to make this pomegranate torte I've been eyeing for a couple of years but just never have the occasion to make it for.

(Photo from

 Doesn't it look fantastic and chocolaty?  Let me assure you it is both fantastic and chocolaty.  You can find the recipe at

At first, the recipe seems a little daunting.  Yes, you make that jelly layer.  Keep in mind, the recipe says it'll take 10 minutes.  Based on my experience and the comments on the recipe itself, I'd say you need to allow about an hour for that step, but it's worth it - it's my favorite part of the entire torte.

Let's start with the chocolate.  This recipe uses 12 ounces total chocolate.  I used Nestle Noir 70% Dark Chocolate.  I ended up making the cake twice because of a bit of an issue with the jelly (I underboiled it the first time).  The first time, I grated the chocolate using a fine rasp from Lee Valley tools.  Not a great idea when what you're grating melts easily.  The second time, Mr. Moose took over and ran the chocolate through your standard rotary cheese grater (think italian restaurant waiter grating parmesan on your fresh pasta).  It worked much better.

The first attempt also saw me forget the add the butter and water to the chocolate when I melted it, only adding it after I'd mixed it with the egg yolks and flour.  That cake still turned out looking like this after brushing loose crumbs away

Next up:  Jelly.  I love this jelly.  I want to make this jelly and use it on my toast every morning.  I could eat this jelly with a spoon.  SO good.

I got bored watching it simmer away so I took a picture.  Look at that pretty cranberry through the mist. Once it boiled down and I pressed it through a fine mesh sieve (use a medium mesh.  Really), it looked like this

Mmmm delicious red splatter.

Somehow I didn't get a picture of the jelly on the cake either time.  So take a moment and imagine jelly on a cake.  There ya go.  The first time it was too thin and it soaked into the cake which totally wasn't the look I was going for.  So, in an obsessive compulsive fit of baking perfection, I started over.  Second time it was perfect and packed in the car for the 4 hour drive to the family farm.

Once there,  melted the final six ounces of chocolate with honey, butter and water and used it to glaze the cake.  I substituted chopped dark chocolate for pomegranate seeds as garnish and had a birthday cake fit for a chocolate loving mother.

I recommend serving it with whipped cream and a cup of chai tea.

 That picture was taken post chocolate glaze, but before I put it on a pretty dish to serve.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What are your plans for Halloween?

The Mooses are typically pretty lame.  We're that house that turns off it's lights and doesn't hand out candy to your kids.  Now, hold onto those rotten eggs for a minute, there've been a few reasons for this.  First of all, lack of willpower.  Complete lack of willpower.  We probably bought candy, but in all honesty, we ate it.  Then we bought more, promising NOT to eat it... and we ate it too.

Second, we've been hermits for far too long.  Mr. Moose is decidedly anti-holiday, but I've been slowly working on that.  We do tend to like people.  Mostly.  But it'd be great if kids in the area could get on a schedule (that starts AFTER I get home from work) and all come in the same half hour to an hour.  Because our TV is upstairs and we're pretty boring.  So to sit downstairs and wait for all the happy monsters to make the rounds usually involves eating more candy.

I know.  You COULD argue that running up and down stairs after eating all of that halloween candy would be fantastic exercise for us.  But you wouldn't.  Right?

But this year, I've inched Mr. Moose even further out of hermitville.  I've convinced him we should have a party!  And it's gonna be fun (it'll even involve children).  We're going to carve pumpkins!  I've already started shopping for the required materials
and I can't wait to have everyone carving pumpkins in my kitchen.  Stay tuned.  There will be pictures of the end results.  In a few weeks.

I do love that Pumpkin Masters has come out with a ridiculously child friendly carving set.  A crayon is used to mark the pattern rather than a poking tool (terminology is my friend).  Parents are still going to want to watch the kids, but it's for 6+ years which fits the age groups of kids we've invited.

I can't wait.

Also, today would be my Mom's birthday.  So HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM.  Your cake is cooling right now.  (Cake updates will happen when I get back from Thanksgiving (Canada) with the family - so Monday)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fort Edmonton Park Murder Mysteries

Last week, Mr. Moose and I had the opportunity to attend a Murder Mystery night at the Selkirk Hotel in Fort Edmonton Park.   It was an event organized through work and I wasn't really sure what to expect at all.  We've never really done anything like that before.

I must say that it was amazing.  The evening entertainment is provided by The Metropolitan Murder Company.  If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of their murder mysteries, go.  We saw Don't Turn That Dial and loved every minute of it.  I even ended up in the production as the hotel clerk.  I'm normally terrified of that kind of thing, but it is such a small audience that it really wasn't all that bad.

At the Selkirk Hotel (for this mystery), you walk into the hotel lobby and are instantly a part of the unfolding events.  The cast of the radio show are wandering around involving guests.  Mia tells you the gossip, Edgar is looking for people to fill the roles of missing cast mates, another member is telling you how he'd be happy if the show's star was hit by a bus, etc, etc, etc.  You can talk to them and ask them questions.  Eventually, the doors to the dining area are opened and you all go in and find your seats.  Then the radio show begins, building up motive for all of the suspects and detailing events pertinent to the mystery.

Then there's a murder.  The police detective takes over and off you go.  He questions suspects and allows guests to question suspects.  He then posts all of the clues for everyone to read and you need to figure who did it, why and how/when.

So much fun.  We didn't win.  We had the who and the why and even the how, but we got the timeline wrong.  And when I say "we" I mean Mr. Moose, of course.

Baking update

The muffins yesterday were more edible than science project, but I wouldn't call them a delicious success.  Of course, they started out as "healthy" muffins made with oatmeal and whole wheat flour (ok.  I used multigrain flour), so who knows, I may have actually improved on the original concept.

I won't be sharing that recipe, but they didn't turn into hockey pucks.

  I know, it looks like it might have been a bit puckish, right?  It didn't rise much, but it did rise.