Sunday, December 25, 2016

The story of the Christmas Feet Stew (and a recipe)

Ragoût de pattes, or as it's known in our house, Feet Stew, has become one of my favorite holiday dishes. It is a very traditional Quebec dish for this time of year and the first time I had it was one of the first Christmases I spent at my boyfriend's parents' house. My family not being from Quebec, I hadn't really experienced any of the Quebec Christmas traditions yet, so when his mother handed me a plate of 'ragoût de pattes', I smiled and took it and then leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered "Did she just say this was feet stew?!?" In French, 'pattes' generally refers to an animal's feet or paws... so I translated the name of the dish literally. In culinary terms, however, 'pattes' would more accurately translate to hocks or shanks, so 'ragoût de pattes' is actually a pork hock stew with meatballs. 

I tried it and found it was delicious, but of course all I could think was: 


And so the tradition of Feet Stew was born ;) I have since learned the recipe and make a batch of it every year in the winter and it is absolutely delicious. Below is the recipe I have cobbled together... I had to take some liberties as the first source was the boyfriend's grandmother's recipe which was rather vague, being one of those "pinch of this" and "handful of that" kind of recipes. Combined with a few other versions of the recipe and my own trial and error, I have arrived at my version of: 

Christmas Feet Stew
(or Ragoût de pattes de cochon)

4 large pork hocks, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped with the skin left on
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp dried savory and dried thyme
1 tsp each ground cloves and ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 slices dry/stale bread, crust removed
Enough milk to moisten the bread, approximately 1/4 cup
2 lb ground pork
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp each ground cloves and cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste (approx 1 to 2 tsp of each)
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten 
Boiled potatoes to serve

In a large pot put the hocks, onion and spices and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and let cook until meat falls off the bones, usually about 60-90 minutes. Remove the hocks to a cutting board or platter and using a fork, remove the meat and set aside. Strain the liquid, throwing out the solids and reserve the broth. This step can be done in advance and the meat and broth kept in the fridge. 

Pour the milk over the dry bread and allow it to soak up all of the liquid; use a fork to mash up the bread to a loose paste. Add it to a bowl along with the ground pork, onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper, flour and the beaten egg. Mix thoroughly and form into bite-size meatballs. Using the same pot that you cooked the hocks in, brown the meatballs (in batches if needed) and set aside.

In the same pot, add in the 2 tbsp butter and melt over medium heat, add the 2 tbsp flour and stir to form a paste. Keep stirring until the flour is golden brown then whisk in the reserved broth. Whisk briskly until all flour clumps are gone, then add in the pork hock meat and the meatballs, bring it up to a boil then reduce down to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes. At this point you can adjust the seasoning to taste, and you can adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding flour to thicken or liquid to thin. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes.

Notes: Sometimes my broth comes out a bit lacking in flavor so I add a little beef or chicken bouillon to punch it up a little. If you find the flavor or the finished stew a little flat but don't want to add salt, I sometimes add a dash of sherry or apple cider vinegar at the end to brighten it up. The above recipe serves 4 to 6 and freezes and reheats very well. 

Whether your day involves feet stew or not, I wish you a very happy holiday and all the best in the new year! :) 

Friday, November 18, 2016

I don't think so, Tim...

So I finally dug into the quilt kit that my mom bought over the summer. It is a riot of various plaid and polka dot flannels, and so far has been surprisingly easy in coming together. I'm not normally a fan of working with flannel as it can be tricky, but this fabric has been lovely... nice and thick with minimal unravelling and it is super soft; it will make a nice finished quilt. Due to all of the plaid, we have jokingly named it the Al Borland quilt. :)

Stairsteps quilt pattern by Bonnie Sullivan
The quilt is made of 8-inch blocks constructed of one large piece and three small pieces of the various flannel prints and then constructed improvisationally. The name of the pattern is 'Stairsteps' and in the directions it shows you to assemble it in a stairstep pattern (go figure), but honestly with such a simple block you could do a ton of variations with it. Since my mom liked the pattern as printed, I followed stuck to the stairstep design. The backing is blue minky fabric which I'm not looking forward to quilting... my sewing machine will definitely need a good cleaning after this one. I also have a number of small scraps left over that I will have to find a use for... maybe a pillow?


Plushie bat pattern 
I have another quilt project which has stalled at the moment... the top and back are complete and I have basted it all together, but I cannot yet decide how I want to quilt it. So for now it is in the 'time out' corner and instead I've entertained myself by making a few plushie bats instead. They are a bit of a pain to put together (especially with some of the fabrics I've chosen), but they're just so cute I can't help myself. The cute little guy pictured above went to my nephew William for his birthday. 



And, while I'm working on all of these things, I've been listening to the new album by Kaleo pretty much on repeat. They are an Icelandic rock group whose sound is absolutely incredible, you should give them a listen :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Z is for Zillah...

I realized that I never posted my finished Molinari challenge quilt, or much of anything lately for that matter, so figured I'd check in and bring everyone up to speed...


Over the summer I finally finished up my piece for the MMQG's Molinari Challenge. I took inspiration from one of Molinari's paintings in which he pays tribute to a poem he especially liked. Likewise, I took lyrics from one of my favorite songs and designed a quilt around it.


No prizes for guessing which song I chose... ;) The quilting is based on another of Molinari's paintings... I like how it looks on the back of the quilt, though I'm not as sure about the front. Ah well, it's done and that's the important thing!



I also finally finished my Libs Elliott 'Weight of Love' quilt that I started back in the beginning of the year at her workshop. It had been hanging around half finished for ages as I just couldn't decide on how to quilt it. Finally, I got tired of looking at it unfinished so just did some basic diagonal quilting, threw on a scrappy binding and it now happily lives on my couch. Although technically it's not done... I still don't have a title/label for it. I can't stop staring at the pink diamond...




In August I attended the Twist Fibre Festival with the MMQG. We were invited to attend by the organizers and we ended up feeling a little out of place, but we had lots of questions and lots of interest from the festival-goers. We even recruited a few new members. We had some of our works on display, Craft de Ville had supplies for sale and we had a little demo station where people could try hand-quilting. It was a lot of work, but it was a fun weekend.



As summer came to an end, the boyfriend and I took some time off and went down to Cape Cod, a first visit for both of us. We saw Plymouth Rock (meh), ate at a 320 year old tavern (mmm, chowdah), and I finally got to visit the Edward Gorey house, which was absolutely wonderful. To my delight, they had a Gashlycrumb Tinies scavenger hunt in the house, so Bruno and I ran around happily looking for the 'hints' for each of the 26 children. Above is the hint for James, who took lye by mistake. (I couldn't resist buying the 'Z is for Zillah, who drank too much gin' mug ;)



Sadly I haven't had much spare time to do any sewing for myself so I don't have a lot to show for the past few months. I did, however, snag some cute fabric while on vacation which I promptly turned into a Heidi foldover clutch. Cuz yanno I love me some zippered pouches :) I do have one quilt in the works (a first-ever attempt at foundation paper piecing and using text in a quilt), but it is still in progress so I will wait to share any pictures of that until it is completed. 



And finally, in collaboration with the Ottawa MQG, we had the good fortune of hosting Cheryl Arkison recently for a trunk show and workshop with the MMQG. Guild events are always slightly crazy for me as I do a lot of running around to make things go smoothly, but it was lovely to meet Cheryl and to see how much everyone enjoyed the events. It makes it all worth it ;)

More stuff is on the horizon for the MMQG and I have some projects I really need to get cracking on, so blog posts may be a bit sporadic. If you don't already, I would recommend you follow me on Instagram for more regular (if less wordy) updates :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A must-have notion for quilters

As I posted back in April, the MMQG is currently doing a challenge based on the works of Guido Molinari. I finished my quilt top in April and have spent the intervening months staring at it in despair as I tried to decide how I was going to quilt it.

I have never spent so long staring at a quilt top without being able to picture how I wanted to quilt it. I could have done something simple, or something innocuous that you wouldn't really notice... but this is a piece that has meaning, this is a piece dealing with art. I wanted the quilting to be part of the piece, not just something that faded into the background.

So, of course, I decided to do something like this:


Because why make it easy when I can make it impossibly complicated for myself! ;) I started on it yesterday afternoon and it has gone fairly well so far. 

When I say "fairly well", I mean I've only spent about 50% of my time seam ripping and redoing. ;) At the moment I'm having to rip out and redo a particularly visible section... this is the first time I've tried quilting like this and I'm learning a lot. Most notably: Don't start right smack in the middle of your quilt where your inevitable screw-ups will be most obvious when trying out a new quilting technique. See, I'm learning! :P 

Through this process, I have discovered an absolute must-have notion for quilters. It is a book called "Creative Cursing: A Mix 'n' Match Profanity Generator" and it an absolute life saver. When I make a mistake that has to be taken out and redone, I simply give the book a quick flip and yell out the profanity it presents me with! It is amazingly stress-relieving, as well as being entertaining for others within earshot. Now and then my boyfriend will poke his head into the workroom and inquire: "Uhh, did you just call your sewing machine a 'crap bucket'?" I cheerfully reply "Yep!" and he backs away slowly to the other room.

I really should get back to the quilting... there is much left to do (and redo). For now, I leave you with this: 




Monday, August 1, 2016

To pink or not to pink?

When I was younger, I hated pink, I avoided it at all costs. Slowly over the years, though, I have made peace with it and now I can actually appreciate it... in small doses.

I am currently making myself a new purse (using the Sydney pattern from Swoon) and I chose the Macrame Leaves canvas from Cotton + Steel for the outer fabric, which has little pops of neon pink in it:


In putting together the purse, I realized that the way in which I had cut the pieces for the front of the purse meant that I had none of the little pink bits showing. So I stopped what I was doing, ripped out the sewn seams then recut and re-sewed the pockets so that there were some of the pink bits showing.

*long, existentially fraught pause* I don't know who I am anymore.... :P

Friday, July 8, 2016

I support #SewDiversity

Here we are, yet again... in the news another story of another instance of someone doing something horrible to someone else. I don't even have to give a specific reference here... chances are, whenever you are reading this, there is something terrible in the news. Shootings, bombings, rape, Trump, etc... we are spoiled for choice over ugly, hateful things to think about. 

In my heady college days at UC Santa Cruz, I often heard the phrase "If you're not pissed off, you're not paying attention" and right now it feels more relevant ever. That said, I've started to type and then deleted a dozen different things here... but, I just don't know what to say. Today I have gone beyond pissed off into confusion and helplessness. Maddie of Badass Quilters Society has written a lovely post in response to the current situation (she also shares my writer's block) and reminds us that in times like these, small gestures are still important. 


I cannot fight every fight and I cannot champion every cause, but neither can I ignore them. What I can do is focus on the causes I find most important and make sure I support and promote them in my immediate sphere of influence. By doing that, I hope to inspire those around me to do the same... and I might be a little pissed off now and then, too ;) (hey, I'm a UCSC alumnus, it's what we do!) To that end, I shall continue to support inclusiveness and celebrate diversity in my little sewing and quilting community, and tomorrow I look forward to spending a few hours with some of my fellow community members in putting together a quilt for the Orlando MQG to donate to those impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting. I may not be able to change the world, but I can at least try to make it a little better for a few!


If you are interested in digging further into the specific issues that triggered my and Maggie's posts today, I strongly recommend you start with the Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston; it is an incredible article that goes in-depth into the discussion of racism and lists a ton of great resources and discussions on the subject. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Failure is always an option

As Adam Savage notably said many times on Mythbusters, "Failure is always an option". In fact, he talks in-depth about the importance of failure in his excellent 2016 Maker Faire talk... I highly recommend you give it a listen.

From early grade school through high school I took the 'honors classes' track through school. I mostly enjoyed it, but as we approached our senior year, it became something of a pressure cooker for everyone to 'live up to their potential' and get into a good university and go on to save the world as we had grown up expecting we would do. Or, yanno, move to Seattle and have Eddie Vedder fall madly in love with you. Hey, gimme a break... it was the 90's. ;)

In all that time, however, the one thing we were never taught was how to fail. Failure was the enemy... failure was unacceptable... failure meant we just weren't applying ourselves hard enough to the problem! Looking back now... if there were one thing I could go back and tell my younger self, aside from "Dear god, do NOT get that perm!", it would be simply that it is ok to fail. Failure will be, by and large, the one thing you learn from the most... it is ok to fail. Fail as many times as you need to, just make sure you learn from those failures.

Even now I have a hard time when I try something new and do not succeed at it. Which is crazy if you think about it... how can you expect to do something perfectly that you've never done before? But still, that little high school honors student voice in the back of my head laughs at me when I don't get something right the first time. But luckily, my adult voice has slowly learned to drown out that other voice as I remind myself repeatedly that it's ok to fail.

Case in point, the travel bag I made last summer. It was a first attempt and while it turned out fairly well, I made a poor choice for some of the stitching on the handles, using an invisible thread that snapped under the weight of the bag. It has been kicking around my workroom ever since... the repairs are not difficult, but getting to them requires taking the bag apart and redoing it. Considering I have another travel bag that I prefer using anyway, and I have certainly learned my lesson about using invisible thread, I am comfortable with calling this one a failure.

Some days, all you can do is salvage the hardware and move on to another project. Perhaps these will be reincarnated into a new purse, instead :)



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Be careful...

I learned an important lesson this weekend... if you are a quilter, be careful about taking a non-quilter to the vendor tables at a quilt show. At the Vermont Quilt Festival this weekend, my mom found a flannel quilt kit that she had to have and now I have another project on my 'to do' list. :p 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hexie magnetic needle minder

I love useful little sewing gadgets... I have a weakness for the notions section of a fabric store. I love any little thingamabob that promises to make my sewing life easier, better, more organized. They aren't always necessary... but I love them just the same.

A year or two ago I had come across a tutorial for an adorable little flying squirrel needle minder and had bookmarked it for future reference. At the time I wasn't really doing a lot of needlework or hand sewing, so I didn't get around to making one until now. Since I do most of my quilt binding by hand, and the binding I do mostly while sitting on the couch watching tv, I have learned the extreme importance of keeping close track of all small sharp objects. It only takes sitting on a needle one time to learn that lesson ;)

While the flying squirrel is indeed cute, I've had hexies on the brain lately so decided to go with a nice simple little hexagon instead.


The supplies were quite simple... I used some felt I had on hand from last year's christmas ornament making frenzy, a small neodymium magnet that I had salvaged from a box closure, some glue and thread and a bar pin to attach it to. I simply cut out two hexagons from the felt, glued the magnet to one of the hexagons and sewed it to the bar pin. I then sandwiched it with the other hexagon, hand-sewing around the edges to secure it.

And there you go... a pinnable magnetic needle minder to keep track of your needle, pins, even small scissors or metal thimble. I went with a pin back rather than a two-layer magnet as the tutorial suggests, but that is just personal preference (plus I had some pins laying around waiting to be used). If you don't want to use a pin, you can always just use a second magnet or you could use a metal snap clip instead. The options are endless! Heck, I might even make myself a few more! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May is for Makers week 5 - Bendy Bag

Finally, we wrap up the month of #MayisforMakers with week 5. I have made hardly a dent in the patterns that I have purchased, but I have plans for all of them!

May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

As I mentioned before, I am an absolute sucker for a good zippered pouch or useful basket or bag, and while I was having a hard time finding another quilt or clothing pattern that I *really* wanted to buy, I had no trouble finding another zippered pouch pattern! I ended up choosing the Bendy Bag by Lazy Girl Designs, and honestly I really can't wait to try it out. It is offered as part of her Craftsy class, Zip It Up: Easy Techniques for Zippered Bags, but you can purchase the pattern separately. I got the class (on sale, woot!) and will be jumping into it as soon as I can.  

Image courtesy of Lazy Girl Designs

The pattern seems quite interesting... you put the zipper in flat and then a fold is sewn in on each side, origami-like, to bring it into the bag shape! I like the square-ish shape of this bag, I'm sure I'll be able to find plenty of uses for it. 

So now that I have all of these new things to make, I had better get working! I hope you managed to show your support for an independent maker/artist/craftsperson this month... and if not, it's not too late! Get out there and show them some love :) 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May is for Makers week 4 - Rebel Quilt

At the beginning of the year I had told myself that I would spend this summer making some progress on my heap of projects waiting to be done. Thanks to the #MaysiforMakers project, my heap has grown significantly rather than shrinking... I think my 'stash' may have finally exceeded my life expectancy.

May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

Being something of an art geek, I have wandered through many museums and galleries, flipped through many art and art history books, browsed many design blogs, watched many art documentaries and so it does not happen often that I gasp aloud upon seeing a piece of art or design. But when I came across Libs Elliott's Rebel Quilt while browsing modern quilt patterns a while back, I gasped. It is so pleasingly chaotic, yet balanced, and the colors she chose are so wonderful that I spent a long, long time looking at it: 
Image courtesy of Libs Elliott

In March, we were lucky enough to book Libs for a workshop with the MMQG in which we learned Y-seams and worked on a giant hexagon pattern. Mine is still partially finished (yet another item on the project pile), although it inspired me to go outside my comfort zone and choose a mustard yellow palette that I ended up being quite pleased with! I'm not sure what I'll do with this one... unusually for me, I'm actually tempted to use the same palette as in the above image, I find it *that* striking! Then again, who says I can't make more than one!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May is for Makers week 3 - Tiki-tastic!!!

I have a confession to make... I'm having a really difficult time not getting carried away with buying patterns. And it's only week 3... I need to pace myself.

May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

Buying patterns and supplies for any project is a dangerous thing for me... I get carried away and buy too much ("But that way I'll have extra if I need it!") or I commit to more than I can get accomplished. My "To Do" pile of fabrics and patterns is seriously staggering. 

But! I had promised myself I would work my way through some of my 'stash' this summer, and spending a little on some new patterns is a good way to motivate myself to do that... it's all for a good cause in the end, right? ;) 

So, for this week's pattern I decided to go with some clothing. Summer will be here soon and my wardrobe is sadly lacking in summer dresses, so I remedied that by buying the Jacaranda Plus-size Dress from Tenterhook Patterns on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of Tenterhook Patterns

Why this pattern? Well, I just happen to have the perfect fabric sitting around waiting to be put to good use:

It will be tiki-tastic! All of my other projects can wait! :D 

Some days you're the windshield...

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug. Today I was definitely the bug.

It's been a very long week for me... one of our cats unexpectedly spent last weekend at the emergency vet for a serious urinary problem, so we spent most of this week having to wrangle him to administer medication, try to convince him he liked the new special diet he'll be on (he is not convinced), and worriedly monitor his recovery to make sure things were improving (they seem to be). Add to that my boss surprising me with the news that he was taking the rest of his paternity leave starting the beginning of next week and my work load would be instantly doubling, and the MMQG is wrapping up for our summer break starting in June, so yeah... I'm pretty worn out.

That said, the MMQG stuff has been the one enjoyable part of the week... we have some fun things in the plan for the last two meetings before our summer break. Plus planning out our schedule for next year will be exciting... I do enjoy spending time with that group!

So this weekend I planned to stay in and just relax, and to take my mind off things I put on a few episodes of my favorite podcast and settled down to work on a few little sewing projects that needed doing.... And absolutely nothing has turned out how I wanted it to.

The first thing I tried was a quilted cover for a notebook for which I took careful measurements and made a pattern before starting, checking it as I went only at the end to have it just that fraction too small to fit the notebook. So I set that aside and tried a boxy zippered pouch I wanted to make for my various USB cables, instead. I used a pattern and followed the instructions carefully only to get to the end and find... I didn't like it. I had done it right, it looked exactly like the picture, only the zipper opening was so awkward I knew it would drive me nuts so I undid a few of the seams and tried to correct/improve it. Well, of course all I could do was cut it down further until I got the zipper opening to work how I wanted it only to have the pouch itself be so small as to be unusable for the original purpose I had in mind. *sigh*

I was eyeballing a third small project in the hopes of salvaging some of my sewing mojo, but at this point I think I'm going to call it a wash, go make myself a cocktail and relax a bit with the cats and boyfriend. Here's to this coming week being much less eventful... tchin tchin! ;)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May is for Makers week 2 - Bionic Gear Bag

So here we are in week 2 of the May is for Makers... campaign? Challenge? Project? Whatever you want to call it :)
May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

Last week I bought the Starfall quilt pattern from Fresh Lemons. Of course, I haven't done any work on it yet, but that's ok... it will be my summer quilting project. I did get the pattern printed, at least, surely that counts for something! ;)

My pattern for this week is a little more functional: I chose to buy the Bionic Gear Notions Tote by RipStitcher. One of the ladies in the MMQG had a version of this bag at one of the sew-ins a few months back and, being the complete sucker that I am for a zippered pouch, I loved it.

Photo courtesy of bionicgearbag.com

This bag will be just the thing to drag my stuff to and from quilt meetings and sew-ins! :) I'll have to have a rummage around in my stash for some fabrics and zippers... I'm sure I have a few orphaned fat quarters that can be put to good use!

So... what have you done so far for #MayisforMakers?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May is for Makers week 1 - Starfall Quilt

Lindsey Rhodes has started a campaign to bring attention and support to the makers out there... the people who spend a lot of time and effort to make beautiful things; things that people often aren't willing to pay a full and reasonable price for.

May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

She has set herself the challenge to support a different maker each week for the entire month of May. Not only will she have some awesome new projects to work on, she will also be helping to encourage and support independent makers and designers by buying their patterns/goods and showing them that their time and talent are valuable. 

In her case, and mine, it is sewing-related, but I extend the challenge to you in a wider context: this month, whether it is just once, or once a week, spend a little bit of time and/or money and support a maker. Whether it is a local musician, a road-side pie stand, a small scale food producer or an independent artisan... pick something that you love and support it. Buy something that they produce, spend some time talking to them about what they do and why they're passionate about it, and then tell someone else about them. 

Personally, I have been wanting to make a scrap quilt to use up some of my stash, so I chose for my purchase this week to buy the pattern for Fresh Lemons' Starfall quilt. I love the idea of having a bunch of different sized star blocks... it looks like it will lend itself really well to my weird array of scraps! Plus it's a great exercise in scale... I have scale on the brain right now as the MMQG charity project for next year is going to be centered around that theme. 

I'm not sure what I'll do next week, but with summer right around the corner, maybe I'll look for a few nice summer dress patterns. A big thank you to both Izzy and Shannon, fellow MMQG members, who both posted about #MayisforMakers this week... I'm glad I heard about it! :) 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring has sprung!

Today is the first properly nice day of spring so far here in Montreal. The sun is out, the windows are open, the flip flops are on... it's lovely!

Things have been *very* busy here, but sadly not with anything that makes for interesting reading. The Montreal MQG has been keeping me on my toes as we wind down towards the end of our year and the summer break. I'm making heaps of lists to get this year wrapped up and start planning out next year. While it has been a lot of work (no one to blame but myself for that!), I am generally pleased with how my first year as president has gone, and am very excited for the next!

I have completed the quilt top for my submission to our Molinari Challenge... we've agreed to keep our quilts off social media until after the challenge is complete, but I can give you a sneak peek:


I don't yet know how I will quilt it, but I do know it will be titled "Plainsong".

Sunday, March 6, 2016

DFTBA

It is ever-so-slowly starting to feel like spring is around the corner here in Montreal, most of my administrative-type stuff is caught up on and I was avoiding working on my taxes this weekend, so decided to make something instead. I took a cue from my fellow MMQG member Cinzia's Word of the Year mini-quilts and decided to make one for myself using some fabric scraps:

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pass the mustard

I have to start with a confession... the colors yellow and orange do not excite me. I can appreciate them in a retro-sixties/seventies kind of way in certain applications, but by and large I just do not find them appealing. I also have something of a love/hate relationship with pink.

So you can imagine my surprise when I ordered this fabric for the Libs Elliott workshop I'm attending in a few weeks:

I will also be getting a few solids to go with these, most likely some hot pink (to pick up on the pink detail in a few of the prints), maybe a bit more mustard yellow and some more white. Now, granted, there is a lot of grey going on in this palette which balances the yellow out... but for me, this amount of yellow/orange is nothing short of monumental.

Or maybe just mental.

Strange as it is, though, I am extremely excited about this project! Can't wait to see how it comes together!

Friday, February 12, 2016

A quick fix

I've got a heap of dull but necessary administrative-type stuff on my plate lately, so I was in need of a quick creative fix the other night. We just got some lovely business cards done for the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild, so I decided to make a scrappy business card holder:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Montreal Modern Quilt Guild showcase

As I've mentioned before, I'm part of the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild and for the last year we've been working on putting together an exhibit showcasing our work. It started out as just a summer challenge for our members, but has gained momentum and is finally, thanks to our two founding members, opened as a gallery exhibit at la Maison de la Culture Marie-Uguay in Montreal.

Our vernissage was on Sunday afternoon and it went fantastically well... we had a full house and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The quilts look fantastic, and the show is up for the whole month of February so if you're local (or in town visiting), you can check it out! :)

The show consists of 25 quilts covering 5 categories of the modern quilt aesthetic: Minimalism, Asymmetry, Negative Space, Improvisational Piecing and Alternative Gridwork. I submitted two quilts, one under Asymmetry and one under Minimalism. Now that the show is finally up, I can share some pictures of our work! ;)

A group shot of three of the categories... I can't get over how great they look hung up like that!

This is my entry for the Asymmetry group. It was inspired by the song "Laying Down to Perish" by Alan Doyle which he based on the events I wrote about in an earlier blog post (it also includes a performance of the song). While it holds up ok on its own, I think knowing the story behind it makes a big difference. A few people asked me about the title and when I explained the story they would go back and look at it much more deeply. It was really satisfying to see people touched by a story that took place a hundred years and a thousand miles away. 

The back of the quilt, which shows the lines of the quilting a bit better.

The quilt label.

My entry for the Minimalism group. I have to say, this is probably the easiest quilt I've ever made... only two seams! ;) The quilting took a lot longer, but still... I really enjoyed making this one, and I like the visual impact it has. This one doesn't have any back story, it was done simply for the sake of the design. It was also used for some of the promotion done for the show... it was strange but exciting to see my quilt staring back at me from websites and flyers!

A detail showing the contrast quilting.

The quilt label. 

You can read a bit more about the show and find the larger photo gallery of the quilts and the vernissage over on the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild blog. Now that we've finally finished up this project, we will be moving on to another challenge... this one inspired by a visit to the Guido Molinari foundation here in Montreal. The modern art movements in the 60s here in Montreal produced some incredible artists, Molinari among them, so we will be exploring the connections between their vast body of work and the modern quilt aesthetic. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do for my piece, but I'll be sure to post about it along the way.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Great Great Aunt Inie's doughnuts

Last summer I travelled with some of my family to Westport, Nova Scotia, a teeny tiny little town located on Brier Island, just off the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy where my grandparents grew up and where my mother and her siblings spent their summers as children.

During our week there, my uncle reminisced about Aunt Inie (my grandmother's aunt, Inez Moore) and her amazing homemade doughnuts. On our last day there, we dropped in unannounced on Aunt Inie's daughter-in-law Pat who still lives on the island, only to find her making those very same doughnuts! So, after introductions were made, I was promptly put to work helping and got a hands-on lesson in making the infamous doughnuts. I taste-tested, for quality assurance purposes of course, and can confirm that they were indeed lovely. Pat was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I promised to do my best to master the recipe.

Since getting back, I have tried my hand at them a few times, and they've turned out ok, but never as well as Pat's. Last weekend I tried them again, and while I came closer, they still weren't right... so this weekend, I gave it one more shot. And finally, success! They came out crisp and fluffy and still a little dense, with that lovely nutmeg scent.


So, after a bit of trial and error, here is my take on Great Great Aunt Inie's Doughnuts:

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Rainbow Quilt

I can't say I'm the world's fastest learner, but at thirty-*cough*grumble*mutter* years old, I _have_ finally figured out that I should over-estimate and under-commit when it comes to making handmade gifts for Christmas. This year, I didn't make any Christmas ornaments or decorations, my holiday cooking was kept to a minimum, and I only made one gift... a lap quilt for my mom. And even still, I just barely got everything finished in time ;)