Month: February 2016

COULDN’T BE SWEETER

Neil and I have just returned from a very short vacation (4 days) in Arizona.  We have dear friends, Muffy and Dave Tiede. who spend a few months away from the Minnesota winters in a lovely home in the sun.  These are friends who we lived next door to when Neil was attending the University of Minnesota Law School and these were the friends we were the closest to when our children were babies.  We spent a lot of time together…both kids and adults.  We have just recently connected (40 years later) after both leading very busy professional and personal lives in separate cities.   We spent 4 days just catching up and it was as if we hadn’t spent 40 years apart in different locations.  What a joy it was to have unlimited time to talk and laugh.  I now realize how much influence they had on our lives.  They were a very strong role model as a couple and as a family.

Like others who live in Arizona, they have fruit trees in their yard and we took full advantage of their produce daily.  I couldn’t help but take a picture of her harvest one morning.  This arrangement didn’t last long as we dug in immediately for that morning’s breakfast.  Good news, there were more to come each day.

IMG_1657There is nothing that is more pleasing to me and surprising than to walk into room that will be mine for a few days to discover Thimbleberries quilts on the bed.  Muffy made these quilts a number of years ago and I had forgotten how charming this pattern was.    She used them exactly as intended…on twin beds so they kind of match but not exactly.  The same fabrics are used but the positions are flipped to make them uniquely their own, yet very compatible when used together. I’ve decided to make one using just scraps.  It’s a perfect pattern for using up bits and pieces and that is just what I have left from past fabric groups that I think will really blend well together.  The original pattern was called Twice as Nice (I think) and developed for a magazine (American Patchwork and Quilting) years and years ago.  It really is just alternating 9-patch blocks and half square triangle blocks, of which you could easily make any size. These blocks are 6″ finished blocks when sewn in the quilt.  Therefore, the squares are cut 2-1/2″ square and the half square triangle blocks started out as 6-7/8″ blocks, cut in half diagonally.   These quilts do have borders, but I think I am going to make mine without, unless I find a big chunk of multi colored fabric in my stash that would go with all my other scraps.  Of course, a trip to the quilt shop for border fabric is not out of the question.  Here is a picture of the quilts we slept under this past week…the whole week could not have been better.  Thanks Tiedes!

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FINDERS, KEEPERS

As I set out to organize my sewing room and take time to really go through things and inventory what is hiding in all the drawers, baskets and shelves, I sometimes find random items that were worth keeping.  Such is the case with this assortment of zippers I purchased years ago at The Quilted Basket in Menomonie, WI.  My intention was to make quilted cosmetic bags for gifts, which I obviously did not accomplish. So now, I’ve found another use for the zippers.  I decided to make a small case to house my circular knitting needles, as they are a little difficult to corral.  I generally have a knitting project or two in progress at all times. They are great to have ready to pack when I travel.  I like to take a project that requires no concentration or complicated directions that would require counting or paying attention at any level.  It is something I can do while waiting at the airport, on the plane, when relaxing, in the middle of idle conversations or “watching” TV.  The infinity scarf I’m knitting now is a Gaptastic pattern, that is a free to use pattern online.  I changed the needle size because of the yarn I’m using, but have made over 20 scarves for gifts as the pattern is written.

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Zippered Pouch: Butt the edges of 8 zippers, each 12″ long, next to each other and stitch with a zig-zag stitch with variegated thread to attach the zippers together. The stitch length and width are medium.  I always test my stitch on scrap fabric to see what is pleasing.  Flip the ends of the zippers alternatively as you sew them together for interest.  To make the pouch, lay the “zipper unit” right sides together with a firm fabric of equal size.  Mine is a scrap of quilted fabric.  Upholstery or denim weight fabric would also work well.  Remember to open one of the zippers in the center a bit so that you can turn right side out after stitching around the perimeter of the case. Trim bulk from corners to make sharper corners.  The zippers pictured are metal with a decorative pull.  I probably get as many compliments on this case as I do the projects I have knitted.  I love making fun, quick projects from found items. It’s a little reward for saving the items but an even bigger reward to know I made use of them after all. This find is definitely a keeper.

Find more fun and creative projects on CREATE.

A WAY TO DISPLAY

As you can imagine, I have a lot of quilts and am always looking for ways to display them. There are only so many that I can actively use on beds or as throws.  I have them stacked in baskets here and there and I change them out often, but It seems a shame to hide them all in closets and cupboards when the fabrics, quilt designs and quilting are so good looking.  I have a large wall in our family room that was just begging for a quilt display.  I found a metal curtain rod at West Elm that seemed like it would work to display more than one quilt at a time.  It is metal and strong and has a middle bracket so it won’t sag with the weight of many quilts.  I mounted it a few feet below the ceiling level to leave room for art work above it and to also make it easier to grab the quilts if someone actually wanted to use one while watching TV.  After all, that is what they are for, right?  The rod can be adjusted from 44″ to 108″  This is the current grouping…a nice winter mix.

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The quilts from left to right…CHRISTMAS GOOSE from Thimbleberries Guide for Weekend Quilters,  CHRISTMAS PATCHES from Quilts for My Sister’s House,  EASY FAT QUARTER SQUARES from Basic Beauties and MOUNTAIN STARS from Thimbleberries Collection of Classic Quilts.  The framed house picture is HOUSE OF HEARTS, a wooly made from a Thimbleberries pattern. Books are available from Landauer Publishing and Amazon.

Here is a close-up of the bracket end of the curtain rod. This worked out so well… I am temped to put another one up in my sewing room. I would like to display some of my antique quilts that don’t necessarily match a room’s decor, yet are beautiful and definitely inspirational.

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VALENTINE YO-YO PILLOW

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.00.46 PMI realize there is not much time left until Valentines Day, but this Yo-Yo Heart pillow makes a great accessory or gift at any time of the year.  I had a few questions about attaching ruffles to a pillow edge and thought I would give you the pattern for this heart pillow that has a ruffle. It is just begging for scraps, don’t you think? The instructions include the standard techniques I used for all of my pillow designs, ruffle or not.  They make a very nice finished back with no zipper required and no special ruffle attachment needed for your sewing machine. It was always my goal when writing patterns to give the best possible construction techniques that did not require the purchase of “extras”. And over the years,  I just didn’t meet that many people who loved putting in zippers.  Notice the ruffle has the appearance of a double ruffle, but it is not. It is not as bulky and cumbersome to construct as a double ruffle.  Of course, the width of the ruffle can be changed and contrasting ruffle strips are not necessary, but the technique for gathering and attaching remains the same. The Yo-Yo Heart pillow was originally published in my Small Wonders book, still available from Landauer Publishing. This book is filled with creative, timeless, and easy small projects from table runners and wall hangings to book covers and totes—44 projects in all!

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.00.46 PMYo-Yo Heart pillow

Find more of my FREE patterns on Reminiscing.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

One of my favorite things to do is challenge myself to make something from the freezer, refrigerator and pantry without involving a trip to the grocery store. It’s the same as challenging myself to make something from fabric scraps in my sewing room.  I guess it is all part of the creative process that I enjoy.  I’ve been on a quest for the past two years to manage the stuff I accumulate and either find a use for things here at the house or find a new home for clothing, furniture and accessories. Managing clutter, wherever it is, makes life so much easier and that applies to my pantry and refrigerator as well.

We had house guests for the weekend and I decided to make something for brunch from goodies I had on hand.  After looking through the pantry and refrigerator, I came up with a sweet potato hash, grilled sausages, eggs and tomato relish. I had frozen cookie dough in the freezer and served freshly baked cookies for dessert.  Best thing about this menu…..no trip to the grocery store.  Sometimes my “made up” recipes are the best and become standards.  I will be repeating this combo in the future.  It’s a pretty healthy brunch if you skip the cookies, but nobody did.

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We like our hash, eggs and tomato relish served with a little Sriracha, a side of grilled sausages, and toast.  All in all a very nice brunch fare.

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SWEET POTATO HASH

with TOMATO RELISH

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP SEA SALT COOKIES

This chocolate chip cookies recipe has become a new favorite at the Jensen house.  I try to keep some dough in the freezer so that I can make small batches of fresh cookies when needed which came in pretty handy this weekend.  They also make great ice cream sandwiches.  Sorry, they were gobbled up too quickly before I could snap a picture.

Find more of my favorite recipes on YUM!

 

 

MOM TO THE RESCUE

Recently, my daughter got a new job and moved into a beautiful corner office on the 7th floor of one of the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, a western suburb of  Minneapolis.  She called with some decorating dilemmas and we worked together to make her new space her own while staying within the parameters of the companies “can and cannot” office decor outline. The view from her office looks south and west over some beautiful landscapes that include lakes and woodlands with house and house tops peaking out and even including some church steeples and barns. She moved in last fall and the view was quite spectacular.  She called to see if I would paint a VERY large picture (40″ x 48″) for the one wall that was not a a floor to ceiling window or held large pieces of furniture or doors.  She found a painting on the Pottery Barn website that we used as inspiration.  It is titled, Sienna Barn by Sally Rosenbaum.   I headed off to an art supply store and got the largest stretched canvas that would fit into my SUV, which happened to be exactly what Kerry requested.  She needed a different size than was available from Pottery Barn and wanted the colors to be a bit different to coordinate with other accessories she was using.  I accepted the challenge and turned my sewing room into a painting studio one afternoon and was able to replicate it enough to fit her request.  Here is my version of the PB print.  It works with her color scheme and has the same flavor as the scenery outside.  I was comfortable taking on this task as I know from experience, if it wasn’t what she had in mind, I could always paint over it.

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Kerry purchased a hand turned wooden bowl from one of my favorite artists, Jim Sannerud. He is based in Minneapolis and makes some really beautiful items that are functional and lovely.  Check out his website at jsannerud.com.  If you have time, watch the episode featuring his process as documented for a segment on MN Original, a PBS program that  highlights MN artists of all genres. The bowl I have (below) was fondly named “Big Blue”.  I purchased it from Jim at an art fair just before Christmas.  I always enjoy meeting the artist who had the inspiration and talent to make such a beautiful item.  I have found so many places in my home where it seems to naturally fit and am glad I didn’t talk myself out of purchasing it.  I actually do not need another bowl, but this is so much more than a bowl and I am thrilled to own it.

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Kerry purchased a similar one for her conference table, slightly smaller and in a rich soft green.  She decided that since the Carlson Company is a MN based firm, it would be appropriate to feature MN artists in her office….a nice touch, even if one of them is her mom.