Friday, May 28, 2010

cake friday

This is quickly turning into a cake blog! I am encouraging Ally to start her own cake blog so she can share her stories. Meanwhile.... here's her level three finale cake!
Isn't it beautiful? She is signed up to take a Topsy Turvy cake class in June, I can't wait to see what comes out of that adventure!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bailey's Birthday Cake!

Our little neighbor friend, Bailey, turned four this week, so of course, Ally made a cake! Her first cake completely covered in fondant.... a lovely shade of pink! With a fondant bow & squiggles & buttercream accents.
I knew you'd want to see it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

I love Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day! So many new friends & so many kind comments from all of you! I wish I had 174 prizes to share with everyone who entered, but alas, I do not. So I turned to the random number generator this morning, and the winner is....

Number 108! (why won't let me copy & paste that so I can prove it to you? I guess you'll just have to believe me!)

and number 108 is sweetjeanette! Check out her pretty blog here... she's having a giveaway herself right now! Yay! I'm off to email her right now. Thanks again to all of you who entered, I hope you will visit here often!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Felt Coaster Tutorial

I made these fun coasters for our quilt guild Make it Monthly project this month. They were fun & easy to do! Here's what I did:

Materials: 2 sheets of contrasting color felt (I used 2 different pinks)
a fun shaped hole punch (I used a flower for these)

Cut 6 4" squares from each color of felt

Take 2 squares of each color (4 total). Carefully punch a shape in the corner of each one. Remove the cutout shapes carefully with a straight pin & set the contrasting shapes into the holes you made in the opposite color, so you have four coaster tops.

Layer your coasters so each one has three layers, with the bottom and top being the same color & the contrasting square in between. Place a square of fusible web between the top 2 layers & iron into place, securing the small shape in place. Machine stitch all the way around your stack, 1/4" from the edges. Trim the edges evenly.

Makes 4 coasters

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

scroll down for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway!

Fondant Roses

Ally showed me how she makes her beautiful fondant roses! She is making lots of them for her level three finale cake, which she will complete next week.Such intricate work! She really has a lot of patience. I'm not sure I could do this! Actually I'm pretty sure I couldn't! Oh & you must check out her lovely finger nails! Aren't the finished roses lovely? I can't wait to see the completed cake!
You bet I'll share pictures of her cake when it's done.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

what I'm working on...

Last fall when my LQS had their Market Review I fell in love with this book by Ann Downs of Hatched & Patched....I knew I wanted to make the quilt in the book.... it's perfect for using up some of my stash, very scrappy. Also, I thought the blocks would be so cute hand appliqued in a simple buttonhole stitch. Something I love to do! And with all the time I spend in waiting rooms these days, I figured it would be easy to take a few blocks along with me. So that's what I've been doing... Here are some more. I really love the birds, so funky & fun! I still have sheep & trees to finish up before I start the piecing.
It won't be a huge quilt when it's done, I think the pattern says 50X50 inches? Perfect to toss over the back of the couch & brighten up our family room. There are several other projects in the book too, everything from a small stitched bookmark, to a pillow cover to a cute bag. I love this book! Just wanted to share....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sew Mama Sew giveaway day!

Sew Mama Sew is having another giveaway day! This was so much fun last time I decided to do it again! Here's what I am giving away this time....
A pink & lavender lined zipper bag.... perfect for keeping goodies organized in your purse, storing little toys for your kiddo, whatever you want! Inside, I've tucked a pink & white crocheted dishcloth, 100% cotton. Easily washed & dried in your machine. PLUS..... you can choose which of my two patterns you want me to include, either the Nantucket Market bag, great for carrying your groceries, or the NYC Hipster bag to keep your cash & coupons in when you head to the store.... you can make either one in fabrics of your choice.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by Thursday, May 20. I will use a random number generator to pick a winner & post that name on Friday, May 21. Please be sure I have an email to contact you or I will have to draw another number....

Welcome to any new readers! Would love to have you come back & read about my crafty fun (with some pretty cakes by my awesome 13 year old daughter Ally thrown in for your viewing pleasure!). There's always something new going on here at ellyn's place!

Also, I am working on some new patterns which will be revealed this summer! So check back often, I look forward to seeing you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lemon Cookies

This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but yesterday I baked a wonderful batch of lemon cookies from scratch! And they are delicious. So what you say?

I haven't really shared my gluten free story on this blog. I've mentioned a couple of times that I am eating gluten free, but this is supposed to be a crafty blog. And I like to keep things light and cheerful. However, I realize now that this is a big part of who I am & I just need to throw it out there. Do with it what you want! Maybe it will enlighten someone else. What made me suddenly want to share? Well, I have been reading Shauna James Ahern's blog, gluten-free girl and the chef, for a while now. Last weekend I picked up her book and began to read. I couldn't put it down! Shauna's story so resonated with me.... wow! I thought. She gets me!

I'll give you the abbreviated version of my personal story. Mine has been a lifetime of frustration... constant upset stomachs and no answers. I remember running to the bathroom in the middle of dinner as a child. Who digests their food that fast? I knew it wasn't right. Certain life events caused major stomach flare ups. A trip to South America when I was 19. The birth of each of my children a decade or so later. Finally, when I had a hysterectomy three years ago, my body spun out of control. I knew I needed to find answers fast.

In November of 2008, finally, my new GI doctor gave me the answer I had been seeking. "you have celiac disease" he said. "You have to eliminate gluten from your diet entirely & you will heal!" I have what? I have to eliminate what? I was clueless. Thank goodness for the internet (it really can be a wonderful tool). I quickly learned that my body is unable to process gluten (basically wheat, barley, rye & a few other grains). Over the years, gluten had destroyed the villi in my intestines. Many of my vitamin levels were low. But now I had a plan!

Gluten hides in many prepared foods (salad dressings, soy sauce, cream soups & sauces). My answer at first was to eat plain chicken breasts, rice & plain vegetables every night. Let me tell you, I got tired of that very quickly! I have never been much of a cook (my family will attest to that!) but in the last year & a half I have begun experimenting, buying gluten free cookbooks & recreating their dishes. Only recently have I begun making some of my old favorites in a new way.... trying out different combinations of gluten free flour, using more fresh ingredients, etc.

Shauna's book & blog have given me a new love for food! I am so excited to explore even more. Yesterday I made her Lemon Olive Oil cookies. It took a special trip to the grocery store to find all of the ingredients I needed (actually could not find "sweet rice flour" & had to substitute regular rice flour, also could not find lemon olive oil). As I mixed up the dough, it smelled so good I could not wait to taste the actual cookies! I licked raw dough off my fingers (something I have not done in a year & a half!). Turned the page of the book and the recipe said "chill dough for at least 2 hours before baking". WHAT??? I wanted to bake them NOW & eat them NOW! I dutifully covered the bowl with plastic wrap & slid it into the fridge. Sigh....

Let me tell you, it was worth the wait! The finished cookies are cake like, light & delicious. I must make my cookies small because I got nearly three dozen out of the dough. Her recipe says it makes 15. Hmmm. Next time mine will be bigger!

By the way.... within a week of living gluten free I began to feel better than I have ever felt in my life. Over time my nutrition levels have improved & last time I had blood work done, I was within the normal range for everything except vitamin D. Still working on that one! So that's my story. Next time you hear me talk about gluten free foods, you will know why I eat them.

Oh, & if you want to taste those yummy cookies you better get over here fast. They are not going to be here long!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

fondant flowers

Ally has started her level three cake classes. She's learning how to work with fondant. She made this pretty cake last night...I love the little 3 year old finger dipping in the icing! Some things are just too hard to resist. Here's a top shot of the cake. (thanks Aimee for taking pictures! The cake managed to sneak out of the house before I got to my camera!)I think Ally is doing a terrific job with the decorating.

Here's a picture of me with Marie Bostwick last weekend at the Quilt Asylum. Thanks Joellen for this picture! I don't often put pictures of myself on the blog.... but here goes... I love the table runner Marie made in the bottom half of the photo. It's a free pattern on her website for her "reading friends" & I am going to print it out & maybe give it a go. It's called "star crossed love" & ties in with her third book (did I mention that I loved the book? I do believe I did).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

This is what I made for my mom for mothers day! A sweet pincushion.... I like him a lot! Maybe I will make more of these? But Mom got the first one! Happy Mothers Day Mom!

I was thinking back to early memories of my mom.... I remember my mom & the neighbor ladies sitting at the kitchen table (sometimes ours, sometimes others) drinking coffee together & talking the day away. We don't do enough of that with our friends now. Those were simpler times, when moms would open the back door & shoo us out to play while they visited. We didn't run from one activity to the next like we do now. Grocery stores were only open certain hours of the day (NEVER on Sundays!) & families hung out together a lot more. Sigh...

I remember the whirrrr of Mom's sewing machine as she whipped up matching dresses for my sister & I (Diane's were always blue, I suppose to match her eyes? Mine were pink or red...), fancy Halloween costumes (Raggedy Ann complete with a red yarn wig!), stuffed toys, etc. One year Dad finished the upstairs attic space into a beautiful bedroom for Diane & I.... I remember that the wallpaper was pink & green flowers, in a little circle pattern. Mom copied that pattern onto pillowcases for us.... bet you never thought I would remember that!

I remember Mom making us oatmeal for breakfast in a big pot. She would take mine out for me before she dumped the raisins in because I didn't like them. A simple gesture but it stuck with me!

Now that I'm a mom (have been for 20 years! Yikes!) I understand that all of these simple gestures were done out of love.... Now that I am the one sewing for my kids (last week it was new pj pants with ducks on them for Ally), making special foods they love, enjoying time with them, all of the things my mom did make so much sense. Thanks Mom! I love you!

Something special I got to do this Moms Day weekend. Author Marie Bostwick was in town signing her latest novel, A Thread so Thin. If you have not read her Cobble Courts novels, you really must! This is the third book in the series. Every time I read one, I want to really know the characters. They are so endearing & REAL! Well yesterday I got to meet Marie & have her sign my book.... Joellen & I went together to the quilt store to hear her talk. Here's a picture of Joellen & Marie...

Marie is a sweet as I thought she would be, a wonderful storyteller & a caring lady! We have been "tweeting" back & forth on twitter for a while. When I said who I was, she knew right away & gave me a big hug. Made my day. Ok, it made my month really!

To all you moms out there, have a wonderful day. To my sweet children, thanks for letting me be your mom. Thanks for letting me learn on you, make a few mistakes but love you all the same. & to my mom... thanks for your wonderful example.

Friday, May 7, 2010


A friend of mine commissioned me to make a fancy lunch bag for her second grader..... I think this may be my next pattern! It was fun to make & useful. I put in a layer of insulated batting and lined it with vinyl so it can be wiped out. I'm going to make a few more to get the measurements down perfectly (I kind of chicken scratched them as I went along this time!)
What are you working on?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

almost like the Food Network!

About two weeks ago I was sitting in a waiting room with my friend Jill & she started telling me about this amazing recipe she had seen in a magazine for stuffed flank steak. It sounded so good.... & then we got onto another topic & I forgot all about it.

A few hours later, I was sitting in another waiting room, alone this time, flipping through a Woman's Day magazine when I saw it! A yummy looking recipe for stuffed flank steak.... I texted Jill "is this the recipe?" "Yes!" was her answer. hmmmm I'm gonna have to try that one!

fast forward to yesterday. Check out our dinner!This was fun & not hard to make. My hubby & I enjoy cooking together & trying out new recipes, but we just haven't had time to do it lately. Last night we made the flank steak together! I mixed up the filling (spinach, feta cheese, an egg, some olive oil & bread crumbs, gluten free of course), while he butterflied the flank steak. Then we spread the mixture on top.....
And rolled! Ours worked out better when we cut the flank steak into two separate pieces. The hardest part of this whole process was finding the butcher string at the grocery store. As you can see, I did find it eventually...Here's my handsome co-chef with our rolled flank steaks ready to cook.
Now you rub the rolls with more olive oil, salt & pepper, & brown them up in a skillet...
Then put them on a roasting rack & pop them in a 425 oven for about 40 minutes....

Slice it into lovely pinwheels & serve it up! This was a big hit. Delicious!

It's been about a year & a half since I was diagnosed with celiac disease & had to go gluten free. I've been through several stages since then..... first I was totally overwhelmed & sad to lose my favorite foods. I ate a lot of plain chicken breasts, veggies & white rice for several months. Then I started exploring other gluten free options at the grocery store.... prepared foods. Some of them were ok, some were AWFUL! But guess what? When you take the gluten out of prepared foods, you have to replace it with something. Most of these foods were very high in calories (& not so high in taste!). So I bought some gluten free cookbooks & found some decent recipes in those....

Only recently have I been brave enough to take a "normal" recipe out of a magazine & convert it to a gluten free version.... like this one! This was a success. I will continue to try!