Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blogiversary Giveaway

I've been at this blog business now for a year!  It has been a wonderful, learning experience in which I have made many new blogging friends.  

To celebrate, I am holding a giveaway.  Here is what is up for grabs.

First, these two retro patterns.  Simplicity 2062 is for a darling blouse, bust 34, complete with the pattern pieces cut away from each other but not cut out.  I'm not sure of the year but am assuming the 50s given the skirt styles.  McCalls 8743 is for a child's dress and dates from 1951.  It is cut and I could not tell if it was complete.  The envelope is torn.  Sorry about the price tags.  I actually got these for a good deal from an antique dealer who couldn't sell them because the price tags.  The tags can't be taken off, they will ruin the envelopes. 

The next two items come as a pair from my favorite store, Quilt Etc.  I over bought the Apple of My Eye fabric so this little charm pack is now part of the giveaway along with the Halloween pillowcase.  I'm not the only one who buys too much fabric!

And finally, since some of my readers don't really care about fabric and patterns, and since my blog also talks about camping, mostly in Utah,  and books, here is this funny book about curious things you can find while traveling in Utah.  

Anyone can enter this giveaway, and yes, I will ship internationally.

All you have to do is leave a comment in the comments section.  Tell me one or all of the following
     Favorite book
     Favorite thing to sew, stitch, create
     Favorite restaurant
     Favorite place to travel.

I will use a random number generator to select the winners. I hope I get a million comments, give or take a few.  If I only get one comment, then that lucky person will get it all.

Oh, and if you don't want to win the goodies, please comment anyway and tell me you don't want the goodies.  I will take your comment out of the running, but will thoroughly enjoy reading what you had to say. Maybe we can eat out and review the restaurant together.

I will take comments on this post until Thursday 11:59 pm MST.  Friday I will announce and contact the winners.  If you are a "no-reply" blogger, then please put your email in the comments or check back on Friday.  

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is one the bundle of growing books about the Titanic as we remember that fateful voyage 100 years later.  Tess, the main character, is an aspiring dressmaker and designer who takes passage on the Titanic as designer Lady Lucille Duff Gordon's maid.   She catches the eye of both a sailor and a Chicago millionaire.  When the Titanic sinks, she finds herself in the boat of the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" while Lady Duff Gordon is rescued in a nearly empty boat. When the survivors arrive in New York, a hearing, led by Senator Smith, immediately ensues.  The hearing is covered by reporter Pinky Wade of the Times.

I loved the way the author spun this historical fiction.  The hearings were a fascinating tale of unpreparedness, selfishness, and fear.  The real characters such as Molly Brown, Senator Smith, and one I didn't know, Lady Duff Gordon, were delightfully interesting and vibrant.  The author did a stupendous job on addressing the guilt of the survivors.  I'll admit my ignorance.  This is the way I like to read history.  I tried to read the highly acclaimed 1776 by David McCullough but never made it through the 2nd chapter.  But now, I want to know more about "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" who really did row the lifeboat because the sailors argued over whose job it was.  

Unfortunately, I found two editing mistakes.  The writing wasn't as polished as it should have been.  Also, the romance portion of the story was lackluster.  The story really would have been fine without the romance.  

Lady Duff Gordon  Wikipedia

Evening Gown Design of Lady Duff Gordon.  Wikipedia

Lady Duff Gordon
Lady Duff Gordon Designs 1905
Lady Duff Gordon on the Titanic
The Unsinkable Molly Brown Biography Picture
Margaret "Molly" Brown

Senator Smith

I will give this book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  If the writing and editing had been better and the romance more believable or just left out, I would have given this 5 stars.  The 3 1/2 stars are for the interesting historical facts about the hearings and the themes of how the survivors dealt with and justified their loss and guilt.

3.5 stars

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I have been so lucky to have my summers off so I can travel.  Teachers' summers are never really off, that's a fallacy, with all the training, studying and going back early, (without pay usually), but our summers are more flexible.  I have been at girls' camp, Montana, Cedar City, and now Tony's Lake.  Thank goodness for scheduled posting! By the time this posts I'll be back from it all.

All of this is to say that several weeks ago Snippa, one of my favorite bloggers, gave me the 'One Lovely Blog Award.'  I have finally had a spare minute to write about it and thank Snippa.  Thank you Snippa.

Here are the rules of acceptance.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Post the badge.
3. Share seven random facts about you.
4. Pass the award on to 10 more bloggers.

Seven random facts.

1. I haven't had long hair for over 10 years.
2. I need to paint my house but sew instead.
3. I cook a delicious massaman curry. 
4. I'm getting better at photography.  
5. I can sing alto if a strong alto is standing next to me.  Otherwise forget it.  
6. I am going to lunch with my two best friends from high school.  We haven't all been together for 23 years.
7. I love pajamas.

As for 10 blogs who I would give this award, some of them would be similar to Snippa's blog and would definitely include The Makings of an Urban Rustic, but Snippa already got her.  So here are more fabulous blogs.

Thank you again Snippa.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Scrappy Springtime Quilt Part Two

I finished quilting the top of my quilt.  I decided to use basting spray instead of pins.  What a time saver that was! I still didn't get the quilt super flat without any ripples, but then I noticed that one of my favorite quilting bloggers didn't either so I didn't feel so bad. Notice that my ping pong table really isn't used for ping pong!

I purchased bicycle quilting clips that turned out not to be as useful on my smaller quilt.

Here are some close-ups of the stitching detail.  I used a pale green variegated thread that was quite lovely.  However, in some places my top tension wasn't so spiffy.

I'm still in the process of learning free motion quilting.  I used a large meandering pattern in every other block and a large flower pattern in the others. So my question is, do I unpick? I'll let this sit for a while and then decide.  The next post on this quilt will be about the binding and the quilt will be done! Of course that may be next January...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crafts at Girls' Camp

Four summers ago, I was asked to be a leader at church girls' camp. Now this was one of those church assignments that I hoped would never come my way.  Quickly in my head I scanned my summer calendar.  Would we be on vacation that week?  No. Would I be participating in summer teacher training? No.  I had no excuses.  So I went, and surprisingly, I liked girls' camp and have been every year since.  This year I was camp photographer; the easiest year at camp yet.  I would like to share some of the crafts the girls made while we were there.

My friend, Mary Ann, who you met in a previous post, found this pencil necklace idea on Pinterest.  I will contact her so she can give me the link. Luckily for her, she was able to collect all the left over colored pencils form her elementary school colleagues before school got out.  She spent hours drilling holes and cutting the pencils into beads. 

I think the pencil tips add a nice touch.

We also made lanterns by putting stickers on the outside of Mason jars and then spraying with etched glass spray.  When dry, the stickers were peeled off and a small battery powered candle was inserted in a layer of sand.

Each separate camp did their own crafts as well.  Here is a sampling.  The tie-dyed socks and the fabric yo-yos are my favorites.

Here is a photo of a girl who got the butterflies to land on her hands.  Not surprisingly, she also found frogs and caterpillars.

And finally, it wouldn't be girls' camp without a whole lot of food.  Can you believe this giant cake? 10 boxes of cake mix!  The hand is in the photo just to give an idea of scale!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Favorite Strawberry Jam

I have a lovely strawberry patch this year.  The birds and the bugs have left it alone.  Why, I don't know, because I don't spray insecticide on my garden.  Even though I don't get a large gross of berries in my small patch, I have had the best yield ever.

I wanted to preserve these luscious berries, but many of the recipes  out there call for enough fruit for a dozen or more pints. That is why I turned to The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.   This book is great when a person doesn't have a giant garden but they still would love to make delicious jams, jellies, chutneys, mustards, etc.

I granted permission by the publisher to include the recipe in the this post, so without further ado, here is the legal stuff...

Used with permission from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Delicious Recipes to use Year-Roundby Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard (Firefly Books, 2007, $19.95 paperback).

And now the fun stuff, the recipe.

4 cups (1 L) halved or quartered firm strawberries (depending on size)  
2 cups (500 ml) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 ml) lemon juice.

1. Mix berries and sugar and let stand for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Place berry mixture in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add lemon juice, return and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 24 hours.
3. Bring berries to a full boil over high heat and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
4. Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes.  

(At this point in the recipe the authors direct you to another section of the book that gives the steps for water bath processing.  I won't type all information, but there are many sources to refer to for safe water bath processing.  Because of the high altitude in which I live, I added 20 minutes of processing to my jam.)

Makes 2 1/2 cups (625 ml)

This recipe was easy, did not require pectin and only used about half the sugar of freezer jam.  I doubled the amount of strawberries from 4 cups to 8.  

Eight cups of berries

Berries resting in the sugar.

The color of this jam is gorgeous.  It is such a deep purple, more like a raspberry or blackberry.  Not only is it gorgeous, it is delicious.  

Favorite Strawberry Jam on homemade bread machine bread.

Out of the double recipe I made exactly 7 half-pints.  We opened the first jar yesterday and it is almost all gone.  

You can by the book here at

This recipe gets 5 out of 5 stars for ease and yummy deliciousness.

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