Modernista Homemade {a sewing swap}

For those of you that don't know, we are in the process of buying a home. And here in the valley, that means we're trying to buy a short sale, because regular home sales don't exist (we checked). We put our offer in back in February and we're keeping our fingers crossed that things continue to go smoothly.

But if we do get this house, I would love to fill it with handmade items. It's a big house and we have lived in modest sized apartments for years, so we'll have to really get creative to bring some warmth to such a large space.

Recently, I joined this sewing swap, Modernista Homemade. The group will go from room to room and make things for each as you go, swapping with a {super secret} partner, eventually filling your home with handmade items from all over. How cool is that?

The first room that we are taking on is, appropriately, the sewing room. For each space, we've each made a mosaic to give our partner an idea of what we'd like, our aesthetic preferences and style. Here's mine:

Modernista Homemade mosaic

It all kicks off June 11th, so if you are interested, click over to the flickr group page, check it out and join in! 

If you're here to grab a button for the group:

last weekend

This past weekend, the hubs and I set up our "workstations" (his: wood working, mine: sewing) and just hung out inside. This allowed me time to work on some projects. I have been working on my orange challenge quilt, obviously, but I haven't wanted to rush it, so I worked on some other things for the sewing area in between quilting.

scrappy thread catcher 2
One of the things I have been wanting is a thread catcher/mini scrap bowl. I have a bin for "usable" scraps, but those itty bitty pieces destined for the garbage would just sit in a pile on my work table and then get bumped or shuffled or (worse still) dumped on the floor by accident. I thought about sewing a thread catcher bin, but I have a tiny stash and well, it's hard to commit using one of the pretty fabrics I had in mind for a quilt (Flea Market Fancy!, Riley Blake Chevrons!, Kaffe Fassett shot cottons!, Domestic Bliss!) for something as utilitarian as a thread catcher (aka small garbage can).

So, to the scrap bin I went. And I found the most useless scraps available - the strips - the less than 1" wide strips. There is really nothing you can sew with something that small, especially if it isn't even one inch, or if it sort of varies from 3/4" to 1" and back again...

scrappy thread catcher and pin cushion
I guess you're wondering why I saved them? Well, I have crocheted some of them into coasters and considered eventually making a little rug out of them (once I had a ton of scraps), so they aren't completely useless. And they were perfect for this project - a scrappy thread catcher (click here for tutorial). The hubs had about two and a half yards of rope, which made a four and a half inch bowl - perfect for tiny scraps and threads.

mini mason jar pin cushion 3
I also wanted to make some pin cushions, and so I used "real" scraps (5"x5" squares) to make some matching  pin cushions. I thought about stuffing these with batting, but husband happened to have crushed walnut shells on hand, so I used that instead. I do like the heft and grab it gives to the cushion.

sew & tell: my first quilt

About two weeks ago...give or take a few days, I finished hand stitching the binding on my very first quilt. I guess having that first "done" makes me, officially, a quilter.

first quilt 1

This quilt took it's time arriving at completion. That whole sometimes it's the journey...blah blah blah. I initially bought the fabric to make a quilt for my guest room (more back story here). I thought I'd whip up a pretty basic patchwork and just get. it. done.

But this little piece of lovely had other plans. I found instead of rushing about and doing things to get. it. done, I really enjoyed taking my time, fiddling with the fabric, piecing quarters out on the living room floor and just looking at them for a few days to make sure I didn't want to swap here or switch there.

I spent a weekend's worth of afternoons pinning and tying the knots. It was quite therapeutic and mindless enough that I could watch a couple netflix movies with the hubs while he fiddled with a wood project on the other side of the room.

first quilt collage 1

Binding took another week, but I could feel that this project of mine was wrapping up. I really enjoyed hand stitching the binding. I could sit on the sofa with half of the quilt draped over napping husband while I worked on the other half. The last stitches were excitedly completed because I wanted to see it finished. And at the same time, kind of sad that these were the final stitches. (Quilters - how do you give away quilts? I'm sure I'll find it easier as I make more, but golly, I got attached...). 

Now that it's done, I have enjoyed several naps under this quilt. Many a TV show. And, despite the southwest summer heat, switched out our comforter and put it on our bed for a few nights.

first quilt collage 2

This post is linked to The Handmade Parade at There and Back.

orange creamsicle aftermath

orange aftermath

every measuring cup and spoon/ both mixing bowls/ two mixing attachments/ lots of utensils/ two pots/ one dishwasher load 

worth it? yes.

Club Baked: Orange Creamsicle Tart

I was thrilled when I saw this Orange Creamsicle Tart coming up for Club: Baked. It was one of those recipes from the beginning that I was so excited to try. See, I have a love of all things orange flavored. I'm going to go out on a limb here and blame it on my dad. My memory could be failing me, but I seem to remember him always getting orange flavored things - slushies at the Dairy Queen, gelatos at Rita's, you catch my drift. I think he and his highly refined palette just knew that orange goes perfectly well with a creamy, soft vanilla flavor. That and the man loves white chocolate (which this recipe also contains).

orange creamsicle tart

orange soda

This recipe is a doozy though. Grab a cup of coffee, unload your dishwasher (because you are going to need it!) and dive in. There are four major components to this tart - the orange flavored crust, a white chocolate layer, the orange custard filling, and finally, the orange flavored whipped topping. Each step uses 6 bowls, 5 utensils, 6 measuring cups and 2 saucepans. I'm kidding, sort of.

orange creamsicle tart 2

egg 2

I started with the custard filling, knowing that it would take time to chill before the tart could be assembled. Instead of making in directly in the saucepan as directed by the Club:Baked guys, I ended up using a double broiler (or, in my case, a bowl above a pot, does anyone actually own a true double broiler?). I also tempered my eggs with the hot orange liquid before adding the entire mixture to the double broiler. Maybe it wasn't necessary, but I've never made a curd straight in a saucepan before and I just kept picturing strands of cooked eggs. Knowing this was already going to take forever, I didn't take the chance. Once it hit 180F, I strained and then whipped it with the butter.

While it was cooling, I made the tart crust and the white chocolate. After everything was cooled hours later, I was able to assemble the tart. I ended up using a springform pan even though, obviously, this should be made in a tart pan. But I don't own a tart pan, it's a million degrees outside, and I just didn't feel like sitting in my blazin' hot car to go pick one up. The tart didn't seem to mind.

But wait! That's not all...

orange creamsicle tart3

The next morning and 3 mixing bowl washes later...I whipped up the whipped topping. And finally I was done. whew. 

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because these Baked guys do know what they are talking about, but this was actually really good and tasted a whole lot like an orange creamsicle. The crust has a buttery flavor with the hint of orange (as there is zest in the crust) that kind of reminds me of a scone. The tart filling is to die for. The whipped topping, on it's own, not a star. But it does tone down and add more creaminess to the overall dish. I do think next time I'll use slightly less white chocolate as mine ended up a bit thick and hard to cut once it chilled. Also, I might do my regular vanilla whipped cream instead of the orange flavored. I didn't really taste the orange in the cream and I think that extra hint of creamy vanilla flavor would be nice with the tart curd.

So, this recipe (a winner for sure) reminds me of my dad, of something he would enjoy. He will never ever in a million years actually make it, because yes, it. took. all. day. But maybe next time he visits I'll make him one, but only if the dishwasher is empty.

You can find other baker's take on the recipe here, and the recipe itself on our host Jenn's blog.

citrus pancakes

We still have some citrus stashed away in our freezer from our trip to Cali. When we couldn't use it all right away, I spent an afternoon juicing and zesting so that none of it would end up going bad.

That zest and juice is perfect for these brown butter citrus pancakes on a lazy weekend morning. They were a hit with the hubs. The light, bright flavor of the citrus really makes something as simple as a pancake shine (and feel less heavy).

citrus pancakes  

a travel sewing case

It's just a few days before I can sign up for Handstitched class, and I'm itching with anticipation. I have probably also been overly bouncy because I ran out of fabric for my orange quilt, am waiting for the remaining fabric to come in the mail and therefore, out of projects.

To pass the time, and indulge my excitement, I thought about what I might need for Handstitched class that I could get ready. Since one of the great things about hand stitching is the portability, and I do have a few outings coming up, I thought about making a travel sewing case.


I realized quickly that I already had the perfect case - a cute, colorful Vera Bradley makeup case (gifted to me by my MIL last holiday season). It unrolls to include four separate pouches and then rolls back up. I thought about what it should carry and, wouldn't you know it, everything fit snug as a bug in a rug - with two pouches left over!

sewing kit

So far, I've included:
  • safety pins
  • cotton thread
  • under thimbles
  • embroidery scissors
  • needles
  • seam ripper
  • thimble
  • embroidery thread
  • measuring tape
  • straight pins
  • small tweezers

I still have room to add:
  • perle cotton thread
  • needlebook (that I'll make in class!)
  • and anything else that might end up being useful

I'll have to wait on those remaining items as I have some items coming in my student kit and the others will be dependent on my color choices down the road.

What else do you find useful when hand stitching? 

last weekend

Last weekend we headed out to Spring's Preserve for a hot date. Let me clarify by saying that any time the hubs and I do anything that varies from our day to day routine, it is referred to as a hot date. Going out to grab a sushi lunch? Hot date. A bagel and a hike? Hot date. Shopping for something other than groceries? Hot date.

It was our first time going to Spring's Preserve and I didn't really know what to expect. It's a pretty interesting place - they offer tons of classes, activities and demos - so you can really learn a lot while you're there. We didn't take any classes this time around, although we saw a few that we really would be interested in if we end up getting our house *fingers crossed.* This weekend, we just went to tour the gardens and check the place out. (PS Vegas dwellers - it's free admission the first weekend of the month, so um, a ridiculously cheap date.)

They had tons of fun plants, including a lot of desert friendly edibles - something we are very interested in. They also have pretty fun sculptures made from scrap materials (aka junk) scattered throughout the gardens and the rest of the preserve, all from artist Dave Thompson. It's only there until this coming fall, so it was fun to see the exhibit.

Later that day, since it was Cinco de Mayo, we stopped off for some Mexican food. It was sort of overwhelming in portion sizes, but delicious none the less. And, because we're early birds, we still made it home in time to watch the Derby.

The rest of the weekend was spent finishing up some projects. I was really itching to start some others, but ran out of supplies, so I think this week may be a trip to the fabric store so I don't run into this terrible problem again.

adventures in paper piecing

So, remember that quilt guild I mentioned? Well, this past month at our meeting, we swapped strips for our orange challenge. I already had an idea in my mind for this orange quilt but, as ideas always do, it just keeps evolving. Maybe a bit of something here, or know how it goes.

orange strips from the swap

I've been working on it trying out new techniques as I go, one of which is paper piecing. If you haven't heard of paper piecing, it's basically taking a design drawn out on a piece of paper and using that design as a guide in stitching your pieces together. It's a pretty interesting technique and one I hope to master get decent at because it really does open up some really crazy possibilities.

oops again. $&#%!

I'm not to the really crazy yet though. I've been working out some simple lettering. It took me a while to understand the directions - where to sew, what to cut and how to fold. But once I figured out one letter (after some serious screw ups), I was good to go on the rest.

So, this coming week, I'll be busy getting letters done for the orange challenge quilt. And maybe taking some pretty photos of my first completed quilt to show you guys.


Club Baked: Baked Cheese Grits

This latest Club Baked pick had me skeptical at first. First, because I've never in my life had grits, and the only grits I've ever seen were sketchy looking puddles of white mush at southern diners. Looked more like something that you would feed someone with no teeth or taste buds than something I would want to consume.

Also, it seemed like a lot of work. Constant stirring - for 20+ minutes. All I can say is that the thoughts running through my head as I stirred and stirred and stirred some more were "These better be good" and "This better be worth all of this." (I can get a bit cranky if I'm hungry)

Luckily, after all that stirring, and grating and stirring some more I ended up with something that is actually pretty delicious. I get it now, southern peeps, grits are pretty delicious. With all the fat in there though, they better be. Although I'm still skeptical of those white piles of mush at the diner.

I ended up substituting goat's cheddar and another soft goat's cheese for the monterrey jack and sharp cheddar, but I don't think it affected the end result much. I did end up making half a recipe, which I think will still end up being 4 servings for us.

These grits are creamy, cheesy with just a bit of bite from the stone ground grits. I think it's more of a weekend breakfast than a weekday, but I could just as easily see it as a dinner side dish in place of mashed potatoes and the like. I'm pretty glad I sucked up my skepticism for this recipe and gave it a try. Find the recipe over at Lisa's blog and the other baker's results at the Club: Baked blog.