Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comments and email

I'm sitting at home nursing a cold and cough - nothing worse than a summer cold, especially when it's during the only week we've had hot (well, almost hot) weather this summer. I'm also sitting here waiting for delivery of a new washer and dryer - yay! So, while I was at home I thought that I would take a look at my blog and see if I should be updating anything. 

Horrors! I realized that I haven't been getting comments that people had been leaving on my blog posts. How is this possible? Well, I didn't have my settings in Blogger correctly set up. My knowledge of computer matters is good for some things, excellent for others and I-should-be-able-to-get-this-to-work-somehow for the rest of computer-related things. I manage to stumble along and things usually work out okay, but...

So, now I am receiving comments. I apologize if I haven't replied to you as I didn't know you were talking to me. From now on this definitely won't happen!

I also realized that it might be easier for some readers to follow my blog by receiving the new postings automatically in an email. I've now set this up too, so if you'd prefer to be notified when I have posted a new entry, just sign up with your email address and you'll automatically receive my new posts. This saves you scanning my blog every day to see if there is anything new and  you won't miss out on the free giveaways that I have - one of which will be coming up in September. 

Well, back to waiting for the delivery men. Of course once I get the new appliances I still have to wait around tomorrow for the installers (it's a stackable set). Maybe I'll even get some quilting done... or maybe I'll just lie in the sun.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quilted Birthday Gift - and a platypus cake

This past week was my daughter's 14th birthday. Here in Alberta she can now apply for a learner's (driver's) licence. Scary to think of a 14 year old behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, but that's the way it is here. Of course there are limits and he/she does have to be with an adult driver, but still... I'm surprised by this early age, but in an agricultural area I bet the kids are driving the farm trucks a lot earlier than this! While she can get her permit, Sarah isn't really interested in doing this quite yet, although some of her friends are very excited and are eagerly studying the driver's manual so they can apply. I think we'll let this simmer for awhile until she shows some interest.

So what's a quilter do when it's someone's birthday? Yes, we make things. Sarah and I had previously collaborated on a small fabric purse using the Pick-a-Pocket purse pattern at All People Quilt and it worked out very well, so... I chose some fun feline fabric and whipped up a bag just for Sarah. I did make the straps a little longer on this bag so it will fit over her shoulder. Since the first one worked out so well, this one would too, right? Well, not quite. 

Everything went fine until I was attached the straps and realized that I hadn't actually finished constructing them correctly. So, off they came (hard to get that stitch ripper into triple stitched seams), fixed up and back on they went. In the end it turned out very well and Sarah will look very stylish when she goes out. 

Now you're probably wondering about the platypus cake, right? Well, Sarah loves dolphins and platypuses, so she requested a platypus cake. Now I don't know about you, but this isn't one of the cakes I usually make - and it had to be an angelfood cake too, so I had to do some thinking. Oh, and it had to be orange too - Sarah's favourite colour. 

I made the angelfood cake in a 9 x 13 pan, using parchment paper on the bottom to avoid sticking. That's okay, but don't try to turn it over to cool or the bottom comes away while the sides are still sticking - ask me how I know this! I just let it cool right side up and then put it in the freezer. Out of the freezer it came on her birthday and I cut it into a platypus shape (or figure 8) and then made some 7-minute frosting for the top. I coloured it orange (except for a small amount which was coloured yellow to use for the bill), slathered it on and added some features, such as a bill and feet. I used chocolate wafers for the feet and three ladyfingers for the bill and covered them with the yellow icing; some scotch mints for the eyes and Good & Fruity for the eyes, nostrils and eyelashes. Oh yes, platypuses have eyelashes, in case you didn't know! So, it was a very colourful platypus and not technically correct (it didn't have a tail either), but I think it turned out kind of cute and Sarah was delighted with it. Plus, it tasted yummy!

Sarah had a great sleepover party with a few of her friends in our tent trailer parked next to our house. I'm hoping that next year I'll be able to do a normal cake, because I really don't think I'm up to a dolphin one!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Review - 'Tis the Season - Quilts and Other Comforts

"Warm your home for winter with a dozen easy folk-art quilts and accessories, including lap quilts, wall quilts, pillows, and table runners. Great tips for decorating are included!"

Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks are co-owners of The Quilt Patch in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Canada) and I have long been a fan of their patterns and kits. I love their whimsical, simple designs and had been eagerly awaiting the publication of their book. 

This selection of winter and Christmas quilts and decor items is fun, simple and, most important, fast. You'll be able to make holiday projects for displaying or giving in no time at all. 
The book includes various types of table runners, pillows and throws with a winter theme, although several projects would be suitable for any time of year simply by changing the fabric selection.

I especially like the tips that are given throughout the book and the information about using wool and embroidery accents in these projects. 
If you're looking for simple, quick and fun projects for the upcoming winter season, this book is for you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vacation - and some quilting

Hi everyone:

I'm just back from a few days' vacation in the southern part of Alberta. Although we were only away for 5 days, we managed to pack in a lot of activities - and even a few quilt shops!

On our way south from Calgary, we stopped in at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This interpretive centre is located on the site of a large buffalo jump. What's that, you ask? Well, up until the late 1800's, it was a site where the natives would hunt the buffalo by chasing them and running them off a cliff. They could then butcher the animals and have enough food to survive the winter. Okay, that's a pretty simplified version, but it gives you an idea of what the exhibit is about. 

From there we went to Frank slide, where over 100 people died in 1904 when a part of Turtle Mountain gave way and came crashing down on the mining town of Frank. We walked around the area there and went through the new interpretive centre. As the tons of rock are still there on both sides of the highway, you almost feel like it just happened. We drove through some intense rain getting to Frank, but missed the hail that fell just to the east while we were in the centre. 

So far we had seen some interesting, although a bit grisly, sites, but no quilt shops. Don't worry, they were coming up in the next few days. As a matter of fact, I actually visited two stores in one day: Hopscotch Quilt Shop in Coaldale and The Fabric Addict in Lethbridge. I managed to sandwich these visits in between the Birds of Prey centre in Coaldale and the Galt Museum in Lethbridge. 

The next day was spent on a horseback trail ride at Mountain Meadow Trail Rides and visiting the town of Waterton, close to the U.S. border. Very picturesque, especially this year as the wildflowers were all still in full bloom since we've had so much rain - and hail. Again, no quilt shops, but gorgeous scenery.

Finally, on the last day of our trip, we went to Coleman, close to the B.C. border and I visited Cozy Corner. In fact, I spent so long chatting with the owner, Pam York, that my husband sent my kids in several times to see if I was done yet (are you ever done in a quilt shop, really?!). I finally joined them for lunch at a local restaurant after I'd finished shopping - and chatting. From there it was home to Calgary to start planning the projects for the fabrics I'd bought.

It seems that I'm never able to visit a quilt shop without buying something. I love seeing the different fabrics and patterns that individual shops carry. I always manage to find something that I haven't seen before - and that I just have to have! This trip was no different. Thank goodness that we drove down and have a van so that I was able to pack all my purchases home.