Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quilt Con 2015: That time I finally met Rae...and thoughts on blogging

I am not a quilter.
I know I will get into it one day....when kids are grown up....and I have more spare time....and...yada yada.....okay, that sounds like probably never.
I still remember the first time I opened a Denyse Schmidt quilting book and felt this inner sigh of happiness, and realized---there are people out there making really cool quilts!  MODERN quilts!  The kind with negative space, simple colors, solid colors, and asymmetrical lines.
Even though I'd never sewn a quilt at that point, I felt like someone understood me.
And if modern quilting speaks to you too....did you know there's a whole conference dedicated to Modern Quilting!  It's called Quilt Con.  And this year I decided to check it out!
Because it's held annually in Austin!
Can life get any better??
It can....(keep reading)....

So.  As I seem to do with every conference I attend, I frantically whip up a new business card a few days before the event.  And then print enough copies to be used as coasters in every Chilis across America.
But my publisher had asked if I'd do a book signing of Fabrics A to Z at the conference along with other sewing authors.  Yay!  And since I love meeting people and chatting nerdy sewing stuff together, the whole day just fell into place.
So I grabbed my new cards and a roll of oilcloth.
Cause you never know when you'll need cabana stripes. 
Then I decorated with Dove chocolates.
Cause you always know you'll need chocolate.

And then....the moment I've been waiting for, for years...
Guess who walked up??

Yes friends!
Rae and I finally met in real life!!
I know that probably seems crazy.
Or maybe it doesn't.
But Rae and I have been online friends for about 6 years now.  We've hosted multiple Celebrate the BOY series together.  And we've even talked on the phone a few times.
But we'd never chatted face to face, until this weekend!
And she was just as adorable and down-to-earth, and fun, and all that jazz, as she always been. 
Oh what a joy to finally meet someone I consider a very good friend!  It's like this weird virtual-reality B-list movie come to life.  

You know, blogging has been quite the adventure.
Sometimes I can't believe I've been sharing on this little space for 7 years....because it seems like I just I just posted about that stinkin Shirt Dress, and watched the lightbulb turn on in my husband's head as he started charting blog traffic and growth potential (he's a statistician; he can't help it). 

And then other times it feels like I've been blogging forever. 
And I wonder if I still be blogging in 5 more years?

My brother once asked if I'm going to run out of ideas to blog about.
And like most of's not an ideas's a scarcity of time problem!
There's never enough time to really make, share, and do all the things we want to in life.  And to do them well....which is why I really hope there's a course on furniture building and wood working in the next life. 
Totally signing up for that.
(and probably quilting).

But if I had to pinpoint the single most amazing thing I've gained from blogging, it would have to be a network of friends and peers, and other moms who have similar interests....all around the world.

It's so amazing! all these pretty quilts.
I mean, right?  Gorgeous stuff.  You need to come to Quilt Con.
Things will just jump out at you....
Over the years I've met inspiring women....

Like Nathalie who wrote this amazing post about learning to quilt (and happens to have the most adorable baby girl.  Ah!  So happy I got to see you at Quilt Con Nathalie!)

....and like the talented Melody from Cotton + Steel who's changing the face of modern fabric.
Women who motivate me to dream big and reach the unreachable....and who also remind me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. 
Because success is not measured by how many followers or books or business ventures, or whatever one has attained.  But what matters is how you treat the people around you....and if your kids like being with you and want to share their stories and troubles with you.  It's about being present in the moment.  And about those blasted cake pops....and your husband feeling appreciated.

And it's also about this moment at Quilt Con when Rae and I then met up with Deborah from Whipstitch! Oh Deborah!  I love this lady!...and I've known her just about as long as I've know Rae.  And she wrote this fantastic post about blogging and why people don't comment like they used to, and why that might be?--such an interesting read. 

These ladies are like the first blogging friends I ever had.

And to sit and have lunch with them for 2 hours and exchange ideas was like a dream come true....and a social media overload, as Deborah took a pic of me, taking a pic of Rae, taking a pic of our sushi.
And totally fun.

You made it to the end!
That was one long rambling post which was going to say "Here's a cool quilt.  It's gray and white".
But instead I got all mushy.

So let me close by saying thanks.

We're all just yarn ties in the grand scheme of life.
But when you put us together, we make the sky look like it's raining polka dots.
And that sounds pretty fantastic.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

By Lucy: Frida in a Can

How come no one talks about how much more fun kids get as they get older and older?? 
Don't get me wrong, I've loved and enjoyed them as babies and toddlers.  And every time I look at old pics, part of me wishes they were tiny again.

But man....watching them grow and learn and develop their own talents and passions??  It's so cool!
They have these giant, exciting lives ahead of them!
And so much to learn and discover.
And they say the funniest, cutest things.
And we have conversations about history, and how the universe works, and how people create cartoons, and why blue cheese is blue. 

Just this morning while getting ready for school Owen told me he needs to keep practicing his drawings because he's going to be an animator at a film studio one day.  "So I think I'll start with Frosty the snowman....I'll keep drawing him and get him just right."
 Oh Owen.

Isn't parenting great?!
These are the payoffs for the rough patches we all go through.  These are the moments you could never get anywhere else in life.
So I thought I'd start documenting some of the things my kids make and do, mostly for myself so I can always remember them.  Because they just make me smile.  Maybe they'll make you smile too.

Lucy (9 years old, 3rd grade) loves art, just like Owen.    She's really loves reading, and she spends hours making her own books, researching topics online, and illustrating her pages.  This month she's been bringing home "bobble head books" from school, which are a cute series of biographies on different historical figures.  She's read about Abigail Adams, Maurice Sendak, Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama, and Frida Khalo. 
Last week her teacher gave them the cutest assignment based on the books called---"Biographies in a can".  Each student was assigned a different book from the series and had to create that person's face on an oatmeal or coffee can, write a report, and then include 3 items inside the can that represent that person.

Lucy, of course, was thrilled to get Frida Khalo the famous Mexican artist, and read the book 3 times.  Then we pulled out some supplies and got started on her Frida head.
First she had to brainstorm ideas and take notes from the book.
Then she drew a sketch of what she wanted the face to look like.....and seriously, could an oatmeal can have been more perfect???  It was the perfect color of her skin and hair!
I helped her with the hair, and---as I'm learning with most school projects---it's an experience for me as well, trying to balance how much input I should I give to help pull ideas out of her, and how hands-off I should be so she discovers on her own.  I try to ask her what ideas she has and see what direction she wants it to go.  Then I throw out a few suggestions or ideas and she plays off of that.

And when it comes to a hot glue gun....I tend to take charge.  So she helped me wind the yarn into very long bunches and I glued the pieces on the top of the oatmeal can (sorry no photos of the process---we worked on this late one night).  We basically made long straight strands hanging off each side of the can.  Then Lucy pulled the hairs to each side, made two braids, and I glued them around to the front of her head just like Frida always wore.  And of course Lucy wanted bright pink flowers and some leaves right in the middle.  
Then she drew the face on the front, colored in the lips. 
I love her face! And the eyebrows of course.
I gave her the idea about the ears....saying it was kind of like carving a pumpkin and she thought that was perfect.
Then she picked out a bright floral fabric from my stash, and we tied it around her neck.

She was done!
Friday Khalo, in a can.

For the three items inside the can, Lucy drew a Mexican flag since Frida was very proud of her home country and often missed living there.  We printed a photo of Frida and one of her self portraits, which she is most well-known for. 
And we threw in some more flowers.  Cause who can resist bright gorgeous flowers??

We placed everything in the can and the next day each child presented their person to the class.
It was a blast to see the other cans and creations.
School is so great!
I'm thankful every day for the teachers who spend so much time with my kids, teaching and motivating them to learn.
Good job Lucy girl.
Maybe one day some one we'll make you in a can.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RECIPE: Crockpot Beef Stew

I can never decide which one I like more: Pot Roast or Beef Stew?
They both make me happy....and my family happy.
And all that good stuff.
Cause they're both full of good stuff!
I guess beef stew is like pot roast in a bowl, with a little bit of kick (it's that tomato paste, I tell ya).  And it's super easy to make!---well, they're both easy to make.
But this is like really, really easy to make.
And if you're not a meat person....just omit the beef and turn it into vegetable stew. Yum!
So here you go.

I've got dinner planned for you.


2-3 lbs of beef chuck
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl flour
3 cups water

6 small white potatoes
1 yellow onion
4-5 carrots
salt + pepper

• In a crockpot (or slow cooker) mix together the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, flour, and water. 
• Trim excess fat from the beef and cut it into 1 or 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Add to the crockpot.
• Scrub and clean the potatoes and carrots.  I prefer to leave the skins on both but you can peel them if desired.  Cut them both into bite size pieces---I cut each potato into 4ths.  Add them to the crockpot.
• Peel and cut the onion into large chunks and add to the crockpot.
• Mix it all together, place the lid on the pot, and let the slow cooker do it's magic!

Cook on high heat for about 5 hours, or low for 8 hours.
Salt and pepper to desired taste.
And of course, serve with SWEET CORN BREAD.  Oh yum.

I'll try not to play favorites here....but maybe stew is just a vehicle for making cornbread (with melty butter and honey).
That might be the answer to life.