Tuesday, July 31, 2012

zipper pouch

Our next swap at The Quilt Asylum is a zipper pouch swap. It's not for a couple of weeks, but with a busy couple of weeks ahead (one sixteenth birthday, one boy returning to college, 2 parents coming for a visit, one husband traveling for business) I thought I had better finish it up early. After a couple of false starts, here is my finished pouch:

I just love the Cinderberry Stitches fabric (no kidding you say? I know it keeps popping up!) and just for fun I added in a bit of festive embroidery. A little bunting, influenced by my trip to London. I think it came out pretty cute! Oh, and after I saw this pouch  by Debbie I knew I wanted to add another little pocket on the back:

 Just big enough for a little cash. Or some other little treasure. What would you put in there?

Friday, July 27, 2012

progress on my fusion blanket

Before our vacation, I joined a crochet-a-long for the fusion blanket. Since returning home, I've been trying to complete one block a day. Then when I have four blocks done, I join them into a row. Last night I put my first 2 rows together....
 and the back...
I'm really enjoying this, and if I keep on with my current plan I should have my blanket completely finished in a couple of weeks. Let's make the end of August the goal, shall we? My completed blanket will have 24 squares so this is 1/3 done. 2 more blocks are crocheted and the rest are sewn and ready for blanket stitching. I also think I will put a ruffly crochet border on it when it's done.

I didn't want you to think that all I'd been doing is playing with my pictures of London! Not so! What have you been making?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

eating gluten free in London

I think the thing I worried most about before our trip to London was food. I keep a strict gluten free diet because I have celiac disease. It's not a big deal when I am at home, I know what I can and cannot eat and I know where I can go out to eat and get a safe meal. Would I be able to eat out in a foreign country for more than a week? I wasn't sure.

First off, I have to give a shout out to American Airlines! Our travel agent notified them that I would need gluten free meals on the plane and they came through! My dinners to and from London were delicious and breakfast was fine. Nothing fancy but gluten free and nutritious! Yay!

On our way to London we had an 8 hour layover in Boston. When I heard that, I knew exactly what we would do with our time! We took a cab into the city and spent about an hour walking around Boston Commons. Mom and Dad had taken my sister and I there to ride the swan boats when we were little girls. What fond memories! We didn't ride the boats this time, but it was fun to sit in the shade and watch.
And yes, this is my shameless way to include a photo in an otherwise photo-less post! Can you believe I didn't take a single food photo? I was too busy enjoying it. While we were in Boston we went back to Legal Seafood for lunch. We had taken Steve there last year during our Baseball Trip and I knew I could get a wonderful gluten free meal (complete with fresh hot rolls!). They did not disappoint.

London was a wonderful gluten free surprise. Just about every restaurant we walked into either 1) Had a gluten free menu or 2) was able to accommodate me with a wonderful meal! The hostesses/waiters & chefs were far more educated and aware than most are here in the states. This is one of those areas where the British seem to be miles ahead of us.

Here are some of the places where I had a wonderful gluten free meal:

Ask Italian  This is a chain all over England. There was one right near our hotel, near the Gloucester Road Tube station, and we ate there twice. I was able to have fabulous gluten free pasta! Lots of great options.

La Tasca This is also a chain with many locations. We ate at the location near Leicester Square. They had many gluten free options, including paella and lots of different tapas. All Spanish food and delicious!

The Diner at Harrods believe it or not, we had lunch at the Diner inside Harrods and they had fabulous gluten free options, including gluten free burger buns! Yay!

Olives Restaurant a wonderful (if a bit expensive...) Italian restaurant on Gloucester Road near our hotel. Although they did not have a gluten free menu per se, they were happy to offer lots of great options and the food was delicious. The chef even prepared one piece of hubby's bruschetta on gluten free bread and brought it to me on a separate plate. What a treat!

These are just a few of the wonderful places we ate on our trip. What a wonderful surprise to not have to survive on gluten free pretzels and cheese sticks and salads.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Hubby thought it was funny that I had a slight obsession with the doors in England! I am thinking there just might be a quilt idea in there somewhere? Hmm....

I'm thinking it would be so much fun to paint our front door mint green.... or maybe pink? I'm also thinking the Home Owners Association wouldn't go for it. Darn! Does anyone else have a thing about doors?

Monday, July 23, 2012

London craftiness and getting ready for the Olympics

You already know that there was no way I could travel to London for 10 days and not do any crafting! I considered taking my fusion blanket, but the skein of yarn I am using is much too big and bulky to carry along. The gals at the quilt store were all going on and on about "twilling" a new (to them) embroidery stitch they had discovered. So I found a tutorial, did a few practice stitches, and drew up a London souvenir that I could work on while I was gone. 
When I got home, I added the patchwork borders using some leftover scraps of my London fabric, layered and quilted it, and now I have myself a very personalized London souvenir!

Is anyone else getting excited for the Olympics? It was fun to watch the city getting ready. When we first arrived, there was lots going on, scaffolding in the squares where they were erecting big screens and temporary bleachers, plants and grass being ripped out and replaced so it would all be beautiful for the tv cameras. We saw lots of fenced off areas where the venues are, not yet open to the public.
 If you look at the photo below, between the tree and the building, you can see the "football" (soccer) stadium. This was as close as we could get.
By the time we left London, there were banners hanging in the streets, flags from all the countries, Olympic banners, all of the gardens were neat & tidy like this one:
It's so much fun to see the broadcasters on TV at all the places we just were!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

fabric shopping in London

Let's start out my little review of London with the important stuff, shall we? Say, fabric? First off, I will tell you that fabric shopping in London gave me a great appreciation for my local quilt stores and the resources we have here in the US. We are very very lucky when it comes to fabric shops.

That said, I did enjoy exploring the fabric and crafty shops of London. I had done my research (what did we ever do before the internet?) and found a fabric shop very near our apartment and several others on Berwick Street, near Piccadilly Circus. Luckily, I have a very cooperative husband and as long as I was willing to explore every museum and palace within a 90 mile radius, he was happy to help me find the fabric stores. Gotta love that guy! Anyways, we did go find those shops and I was so disappointed. There was very little cotton to be had and most of what we did see was dated and cheaply made. The folks working in the shops didn't even look up when we entered, no friendly hello like I am used to here. Needless to say, I bought nothing.

Then we headed to Liberty of London and my faith in London fabric shopping was restored!
 Liberty is a wonderful old department store with a rich history and fascinating architecture. Inside however, everything is modern, eclectic and fun. We explored most of the departments and really loved it, but spent the bulk of our time, you guessed it, in the fabric department! I bought some fabric remnants and some treats for some of my sewing buddies. I could have spent a fortune there, but I didn't! I was good. Here are the two remnants I bought. Each one is almost 1/2 yard and they are 54 inches wide! That was a happy surprise.

One day when we were walking from the British Museum to the tube we happened upon Blade Rubber Stamps, an awesome rubber stamp and scrapbook store. I had fun checking that out and bought a couple of little things. The best thing was being able to get the newest issue of Mollie Makes, a good month or so before it will be available in the states. I love that magazine!

I had also read online about the shop called All the Fun of the Fair. I had mapped it out and knew exactly where it "should be" but we searched and searched Kingly Street and couldn't find it. Just when we were about to give up, we came upon a tiny alley leading to Kingly Plaza, and found an elevator with a list of store names beside it... and there it was! So up we went. When we came out of the elevator, this is what we found:
An adorable plaza tucked in between the buildings, not visible from the main streets. We quickly found the shop and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was tiny, but jam packed with fun crafty things, lots of yarn, embroidery floss & supplies, neat buttons, charms and odds and ends. The gal working there was chatty and friendly. I bought a few buttons, charms and some ribbon. Oh and cool magnets that spell out "MAKE" for my cabinet. I'm so glad we found the shop!

I'm sure there are wonderful crafty spots all over England that I didn't find. Some of the most wonderful bloggers I have enjoyed are British. It would have been fun to meet them... Maybe next time!

Friday, July 20, 2012

so I went to London....

This wonderful man, who I have been married to for 25 years, who has put up with my nonsense (and I with his), who I love more than anything... took me to London!
 Look how happy he is! He has been going on and on to me about Stonehenge since the day we met (and I hear it went on for years before that) so of course we had to travel into the countryside to see it. Check that off his bucket list!

We saw all of the wonderful sites that London has to offer. Like the beautiful Parliament building (look at that blue sky! I must confess, we saw very little of that!)
 We ate lots of wonderful food and shopped in all the famous big shops (yes, I did get fabric at Liberty!) and some quaint little shops too...
I have so much I want to tell you. I kept a list in my phone of blog posts I can't wait to write. So, so much.

But right now, I can barely keep my eyes open. It's bedtime in London (sadly, not even close to bedtime here in Dallas). My dryer is squeaking away drying load number 5 for the day (please don't die today oh useful, noisy machine! I need you.) Groceries have been bought. Oh, and it's raining. Of course! What a sweet reminder of our wonderful trip.

More about London to come...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

ticker tape blocks... DONE!

I can't believe I've stuck with this project for  a whole year! Today I finished up the last 2 blocks for my ticker tape quilt...
 I'll be honest, I wasn't thrilled with these colors and I had very little in my stash to add to the scraps we were given. I did find a cute puppy and this awesome cockatoo. He came off of a piece of fabric Maria sent me (was it this past Christmas? Or the Christmas before?) Anyways, now that I have cut one cockatoo out of the corner I am motivated to make something out of the rest of that fabric!
 The rust was even harder. If you look very closely you'll see that several fabrics are repeated. Sigh. But they're done!
 so, 25 (I did an extra one last month so my quilt can be square) done. Here they are...
Get a good look at them because you won't see them again until October. That's right, we're all keeping our finished quilts a secret until our "Ticker Tape Parade" in October! There will be lots of pictures then, I promise!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

barbados bag pattern review

On the first of July, the gals at The Quilt Asylum hosted a terrific market review party to show us all of the cool new products from spring Quilt Market. When they showed the new pattern from Pink Sand Beach Design I knew I had to make one! I've made several of their bags before, including the Tahiti Tote that I made recently, and I have never been disappointed. 

The Barbados Bag is a good sized hipster style bag (my iPad even fits inside! I checked). It has lots of pockets including a zipper pocket on the front. The main bag is also closed with a zipper. It's really a great bag! I had a fat quarter bundle that I had bought several years ago on a trip to Arizona and had never used so I decided to cut into it for this. I do believe I have enough left over to make another bag in another color way.

As always, the pattern has lots of terrific pictures and step by step instructions. There were a couple of steps that were not very clear to me (putting the tabs on the zipper for the outside pocket was one. I'm still not sure I did it right, but it looks great). Also, even though the pattern said "make sure the strap isn't twisted" and "made sure the strap is tucked inside the bag before you sew" and even though I swear I checked BOTH of these things, somehow my strap ended up both twisted AND looped outside the bag. Argh! My fault certainly, not the patterns!

I'd say this is an advanced beginner pattern. The zippers do go in easily and look very nice finished off. I am certain I will make this pattern again. You should probably make one too. Just sayin...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

in case you ever wondered...

It is, indeed, possible to slice through your cutting mat. Ask me how I know... go on, ask me. Because I managed to do just that! Apparently I frequently use the 10 inch line as my cutting line. Last week one day I sliced right through that 10 inch line. For the record my cutting mat was about 10 years old & had seen lots of wear. But still, this little event caught me off guard!

It was a good excuse to dig out a 50% off Joanns coupon and go on a field trip. Don't you worry, I'm all set now. 
Note to self: change up the line you cut on.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday USA!

Here in Allen, Texas, we celebrate the fourth of July in June. Don't ask me why.... it wasn't my decision! But I really enjoyed the fireworks this year. Hubby and I took one of my quilts down to the park and laid on the grass with a million other people (it probably wasn't quite a million but it seemed that way). I took these pictures with my iPhone! I was surprised they actually turned out pretty good. 

Enjoy the fourth everyone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

fusion blanket crochet along

yes I've jumped on another bandwagon. Sigh. But seriously, I had pinned this blanket a long time ago on Pinterest and when Little Miss Shabby and others decided to do a crochet along I took it as a sign that I was supposed to play along. 

The cool thing about this blanket is that it combines sewing and crochet skills. Most people are using quilting cottons for the center squares (and since it calls for 5 inch squares, charm packs are perfect). You know me, I had to try something different. I had a bundle of flannel fat quarters that have been sitting in my stash for a while, so I cut them up into 5 inch squares and set to work....
 Hmmm my first attempt was less than perfect. The yarn I had chosen was way too thick and created a ripple/ruffle effect. Not what I was going for! Back to Walmart I went for baby weight yarn. Well look at that! Much better!
 Each block uses 2 different squares, here's the back of block number 2.
 Quite a difference. Now I am busy cutting the border off of square number one so I can reuse the flannel.
Feel free to jump in and crochet along with us!