Books and Cookies

Nine days until Christmas. The giftmaking is coming along swimmingly with only a little fear that I’ll be wrapping something with needles still in. Since I don’t have any photos to show, I’ve decided to share an old family cookie recipe with you.

Growing up, my family had a small celebration on Czech Saint Nicholas day, Mikuláš (pronounced “MIK-a-losh”). Grandma would often send a big box of homemade treats, including rolacky nut horns, kolacky (puff pastry with a dollop of fruit), houska (sweet yeast bread sort of like challah), nuts, and fruit. I was thinking about Grandma’s cookie boxes recently, and decided to make kolacky for my company’s cookie swap! Here’s the recipe, in case you want to try something that tastes like my childhood.

Kolacky

Great-Grandmother’s Easy Kolacky (KO-latch-key, makes about 3 dozen, depending on cookie size)
Ingredients:
1 package rapid-rise yeast
4 tbsp sour cream
1 egg yolk

2 cups flour
½ lb butter (2 sticks)
¼ tsp salt

1 can Solo fruit filling (prune or apricot are suggested. Solo fruit filling is found in the Baking Needs aisle of the grocery store, usually on the bottom shelf and possibly a little dusty. Grandma also would send poppy seed and cheese; I never liked poppy seed and didn’t remember cheese until my mom triggered my memory)

Powdered sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sour cream, and egg yolk until combined.

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, butter, and salt until combined. Alternatively, you could use a pastry cutter or a knife and chop until combined. If using a food processor, pour the butter/flour mixture into a big bowl. Add the yeast and sour cream and mix with your hands until you have a shaggy dough and all flour is incorporated. The mixture can be refrigerated for an hour if it gets sticky.

Roll dough out onto a well-floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Use a 1-2 inch glass to cut round cookies of dough and place on cookie sheet. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, make an indent in the center of each cookie. Scoop a little fruit filling into the indent (½ to 1 tsp, depending on how big cookies you cut) and smear the filling a little.

Bake at 375 for 12 minutes; cookies will be a little golden brown on the bottom and will have poofed up a bit. Dust liberally with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Kolacky

I’ve also been reading a bunch while on the T (and getting really good at reading while standing on a moving train) and here’s my stack:

Book stack

It’s nice to have time each day to read a little bit!

Basting and Business

The giant secret quilt is basted! I gotta hand it to my Kwik Klip thingy, the last time I pin basted a quilt this big, my fingers were sore for two days. I’ve been staring at the folded top on my projects pile for days, getting up the nerve to do the necessary living room rearrangement that pin basting takes. This is a big project, and I’d really like to finish it by Christmas (thus making it my ALOYF December goal, as well as one of my Finish Along goals).

Pin basting huge secret project!

In other news, there’s still time to enter my little 3-year blogiversary giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a $30 gift certificate to Hawthorne Threads!

And it is (the end of) WIP Wednesday, so I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced.

Gathering Flowers and a Giveaway!

Happy First Day of December and happy Monday after Thanksgiving, American friends.  I am thankful for having the last few days to relax; starting a new job is tiring, yo!

Finished Gathering Flowers

The lovely, long Thanksgiving holiday also gave me a chance to finish the sweet Gathering Flowers quilt for my new baby cousin!

Finished Gathering Flowers

The back is a whack of the seahorse print from the collection Full Moon Lagoon by Mo Bedell for Andover, framed with the leftover solids from the petals. Perfect for a sunny Florida baby, yes?

Gathering Flowers back

The floral block motif is echoed by an allover little daisy free-motion quilting pattern.

Gathering Flowers quilting

WordPress kindly reminded me that today is my 3 year blogiversary. Hooray! To celebrate, I’m having a little giveaway for a $30 gift certificate to one of my favorite online fabric stores, Hawthorne Threads.

To enter, just leave a comment! Followers get a second entry; just comment a second time and let me know how you follow.

This giveaway is open to everyone, but if you’re a no-reply blogger, please make sure I have a way to contact you in case you win! I will draw a winner on December 8th and contact you via email.

The giveaway is now closed! Congratulations, Barbara Woods

It’s been a real joy to chat about what I make in this space and I’m thankful for you and the crafty maker blogosphere.   Here’s to many more years of turning fabric and yarn into quilts and woolens!

Finished Gathering Flowers

Adventures with Hat

I made a hat two weeks ago. I’ve been thinking about this hat for many years, since I don’t usually knit hats for myself, as I have the unfortunate tendency to look about twelve years old in most hats. But this hat, made from a gorgeous See Jayne Knit handspun bulky single languishing in my stash for nearly 5 years, would be different. It would envelop my face in a slouchy, wooly embrace and make me look cool and artsy and not at all like a mushroom.

Handspun BFL

After one or two false starts, I settled on a version of the
Zombie Killer Slouch by Luciana Young. And by “version” I mean that I skimmed the pattern and the stitch counts, cast on, and then did my own thing from there. And last Friday, I cast off just before my Father-in-law arrived to whisk my husband and I off to the airport on an adventure.

You see, I needed a new hat because I went to Iceland. In November. When the average temperature is in the 40s* and the weather report says rain. And it doesn’t get light until 10 AM and it gets dark at 5 PM. A new hat is needed for these conditions.

Skógafoss

The hat proved itself to be an excellent travel companion. It was perky and bright on the first morning in Reykjavik, where we wandered the empty city in near-darkness, fueled by coffee.

Sun Voyager

It provided a shield from waterfall mist and kept me warm and mostly dry.

Gullfoss

Even when we went behind a waterfall.

Behind Seljalandsfoss

The hat very much enjoyed seeing a geyser and hot springs.

Strokkur

And enjoyed wistfully staring out to sea.

Dyrhólaey

Grotta Lighthouse

The hat feared being felted, so merely observed the Blue Lagoon from a safe distance.

Blue Lagoon

The hat even got to see two shooting stars and the Northern Lights! (And yes, that is me and the hat in the foreground! Thanks to tour guide Helgi at Reykjavik Excursions!)

Northern Lights

The trip was capped off (oh ho ho, throwing a little pun in there) by a visit to the Giantess in the Mountain.

Giantess in the Mountain

All in all, the hat and I had a truly marvelous trip to Iceland and we’re hoping to return some day!

(But please don’t tell hat that I’m hoping to return in the summer!)

*Truthfully, the weather in Iceland was warmer than the weather in Boston during our trip.

Gathering Flowers Top

I spent some time sewing today after being away for the last few days (post on adventures to follow later this week once I sort through the pictures; if you follow my Instagram you already know where I’ve been!) and I managed to finish the Gathering Flowers top!

Gathering Flowers top

The curved seams for the flower centers and flower petals went OK. The background fabric is a bit puckery in places but I’m going to quilt the heck out of it with an allover floral or swirl and call it good. AMH’s tips within the pattern on how to press the curve seams were great and give the petals an embossed look.

Pinwheel

The background fabric makes sweet pinwheels where the blocks come together. Fun! Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Bouquet of Geraniums

After sewing up a Geranium dress for my adorable niece, I got it in my mind to sew up four more for three friends who have little girls.

First, a pair of Geraniums for a pair of sisters. I wanted to use fabric from the same collection and really liked the florals from Beyond the Backyard by Jane Farnham for Camelot Cottons.

Sisters Geraniums

Big Sister got a tunic-length Geranium with cap sleeves and a pleated skirt with pockets and little sister got a sleeveless dress with a gathered skirt. I lined each dress with the opposite fabric for a little pop of coordination and both dresses had a U-notch neckline.

Big Sister Geranium

Little Sister Geranium

I also made another toddler size for my grad school roommate’s daughter. One of the first things I learned about Sarah was that she knew how to forage for fruit and mushrooms, so the woodsy print from Helen’s Garden by Tamara Kate was a perfect fit. This dress also has little yellow flower buttons.

Foraging Geranium

Foraging Geranium back

The last dress was for a friend from high school and college’s new baby girl. She had peonies in her wedding bouquet, so I thought this Pat Bravo Poetica print was spot-on.

Peony Geranium

Peony Geranium back

I hope these dresses are worn and enjoyed by my small friends! Finishing these was one of my Q4 Finish Along goals!

Gathering Flowers Blocks

I’ve been unemployed this week; my previous job wasn’t a great fit for me in many ways. I’ve had huge plans to spend these days sewing, cooking, cleaning, knitting, jogging, and pondering my very existence and worth as a person. Unemployment does that to you. In any case, it probably won’t last long, as I start a new job on the 24th. New adventure ahoy!

Gathering Flowers

One of the main things I’ve been working on is a Gathering Flowers quilt for a new baby cousin. The nursery colors are pink, green, and blue, which will be the petal colors, and the inner wedges will be a mix of prints.

Gathering Flowers block

Gratuitous shot of nearly-perfect points; the other blocks aren’t as perfect.

Nearly perfect points!

Usually, I don’t gravitate towards this color palette, but I’m enjoying working with these darling colors. I hope my cousins enjoy the finished quilt!

Gathering Flowers Fabric

My cousins are expecting a sweet baby girl next spring, and my grandmother has asked me to make a quilt for her first great granddaughter. The nursery will be done in happy, springy colors: pink, sky blue, and apple green. She picked Anna Maria Horner’s Gathering Flowers pattern and I pulled this fabric.

Gathering Flowers fabric pull

I’m debating about the background pink mosaic print – it looked much paler online. It will alternate with Kona White, but is it too busy? I may alternate with some other low volume prints in my stash a la this Gathering Flowers made by Cindy at Hyacinth Quilt Designs. Thoughts?

Secret blocks

In other projects, all of my secret block segments have been cut and now the trimming begins!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Metro Rings

Junior year of college was one of those years where a lot came together for me. I finally had my major figured out, I had some great friends on campus, and I was the RA in a building inhabited by the people who would go on to become more great friends. My room was long and skinny; technically it was a double, but my fall semester roommate had gone to study abroad in Italy. I turned the extra bed into a couch. My next door neighbor B and I would sit on the couch for hours talking about life, boys, relationships, career… but mostly boys. I remember her telling me that when she got married, her father-daughter dance would be to Summer in the City, because as a toddler, she used to dance with her dad to that song. Although we both wanted to get married, it seemed so far away at that point.

Metro Rings complete

The next year, we lived in the same six-person apartment on campus (Emily was also there). When things got stressful, somebody would often turn on Brick House and we’d dance around the apartment. I put both Summer in the City and Brick House on a mixtape I made for everyone at the end of the year; hearing them remind me of the good times we had living together.

Metro Rings

Life went on, we graduated and stayed friends. I moved up to NH for grad school then to Oklahoma and then back to MA for work and B stayed in the Boston area. We exchanged volumes of emails about relationships, weird dates we’d been on, cute guys, and breakups. We danced to Brick House at a couple weddings (including mine; it’s one of my favorite memories). I was really, really happy for her when she started seeing G a couple of years ago. G makes B happy. He brings out her silliness and makes her laugh. They’re complimentary in personality and in living habits. They share a similar outlook on delicious food (but not cheese; B is OK with that).

Metro Rings quilting

They got married last weekend and it was so joyful. I’m so happy that B and G have found each other. I definitely got misty when B and her dad took to the floor to Summer in the City and again while dancing with all my favorite people to Brick House. It felt like a culmination of all those emails, all those times dancing around the apartment, all those years looking for the right person.

Metro Rings
Taken by my friend B

I know you’ve seen a lot of these pictures before but it meant a lot to be able to make something for B and G and their new home. This is one of those projects that had some emotional depth for me, and I’m so proud of the finished quilt. That’s why I’m entering it into this year’s Bloggers Festival of Quilts in the Home Machine category. The festival began on 10/24 at Amy’s Creative Side and voting begins on the 11th of November. Be sure to check out all the categories; there are so many great quilts this year!

AmysCreativeSide.com

Secrets and Flowers

The last few weeks have been slow sewing for me. I’m in the process of a job transition, which is sapping a lot of my after work energy. But hopefully I’ll be back in the saddle shortly!

I’ve been putzing along on Giant (not so) Secret Project. Here’s a quick shot, can you guess what it is?

Secret Project

I also picked out fabric for the Gathering Flowers (pattern by Anna Maria Horner) I’m making for my new niecelet. My Auntie sent room color paint chips and I think the fabric pull mostly matches – I need some more of that nice lime, which is curiously absent from my stash. And maybe some more rosy pinks; most of the pink in my stash has salmon undertones.

Gathering Flowers fabric pull

But it is a start, hey?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!