Monday, September 26, 2011

… the fair

at the fair: ingrid in her wrangler shirt

last year i missed the puyallup fair and i was so very sad. i swore i wouldn't let it pass me by again and i stuck to my guns. this year i went with ingrid, c and our friend anika and her two little ones. plus, our friend, suze, gave ingrid this awesome wrangler onesie that was just screaming to be worn to the fair. how could i resist?

at the fair: sheep

at the fair: sheep in a truck

at the fair: black sheep

my favorite thing to do at the fair is see all the animals. sheep are my all-time favorite. i mean, look at those faces!

at the fair: rabbit

but the rabbits and hares were pretty cute this year.

at the fair: camel

and this camel, in the exotic animal barn, was killing me. that snaggletooth!

at the fair: hedgehog

and a woman was showing off this hedgehog. it was impossible to get a non-blurry picture because he was a squirmy little guy.

at the fair: fisher scone

my second favorite thing about the fair is fisher scones. i could eat a hundred of these.

(actually, i ate two and maxed out my sweetness capacity.)

at the fair: quilts

this year i made time to see the quilts. even though most of these weren't my bag aesthetically, i still was in awe of the skill. my points never match up this good.

at the fair: jams and jellies

jams and jellies!

at the fair with ingrid

all in all, a successful trip. ingrid was a champ and was a happy camper the whole time. it was just c and i who got insanely tired and required naps when we got home.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

… bats!

greenlake bat walk

i mean, hey, why not love bats? sure, i didn't really love them before we went on a bat walk the other week (in fact, maybe i was a little scared of them) but now i think they're pretty cool.

greenlake bat walk

it was led by these two lovable and kooky volunteers from bats northwest.

greenlake bat walk

they came with all sorts of visual aids and an unbridled enthusiasm for all things bats. seriously, these people really love bats.

greelake bat walk

they also had real taxidermic bats. eep!

greenlake bat walk

but the real attraction was the bats who come to feed in the trees by greenlake at dusk. we waited as the sun set, and one of the bat people had a bat sensor (no kidding) so you could hear the bats as they approached.

greenlake bat walk

and sure enough, they came. how cool is that!

and even though i'm now somewhat fond of bats, this is still about as close as i want to get to them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

… bee busy-ness

gold strip block

another block for do. good stitches love circle. this time natalie asked for something different, long strip blocks that measure 6 1/2 x 48 inches in one of three colors: plum, red, or gold. i chose gold, because you know me, i love yellows!

strip block plan

i know the block i made is shockingly basic (it is essentially a cascade of squares that start at 1 inch and increase to 2 inches, 3 inches, and then 6 inch squares) but still, i drew out a plan for it. but i'm glad i did, because after seeing it on paper i realized that the bottom corner needed more interest, so i added in a small panel of 1 inch squares to tie it back in to the top.

gold strip block

turns out this is my favorite part.

gold strip block

looking forward to seeing what natalie does with all of our blocks!

in other news, lately i've been having serious problems with my sewing machine (have i mentioned this before? i must have). it seemed to keep sucking fabric into the bobbin case and not feeding fabric properly under the foot. this has caused much agony and much use of the seam ripper. this week i finally took the time to bring it into the shop for service. but before making me shell out the $160 for service (which is more than i paid for the actual machine) the nice man took a look at it. turns out there were three easy fixes to making my machine run smoothly again.

sewing machine fix

the first was simply changing my needle. yup, i'm terrible about this. i have changed it a couple of times in the past two years, but not on a regular basis, so i stocked up on needles and made a vow to change it regularly. the second was simply cleaning out the bobbin case. now, i actually do this on a very regular basis by taking a q-tip and swabbing around to collect all the lint in there. it's very satisfying. but it turns out that i should also have been taking off the metal plate and cleaning around the feed dogs, too. when the nice man took my machine apart we found these amazingly large layers of what essentially was lint that had turned into felt collecting around the feed dogs. no wonder it wasn't feeding fabric through properly! he also showed me how to use canned air to really get out the stuff that hides in places you can't see. (side note: if you don't look at canned air and immediately think "i'm walking on sunshine!" then you don't watch intervention. oh how this makes me giggle every time, even though it really shouldn't.)

and, lastly, he showed me this miracle product called a quarter inch foot. how did i not know about this? do all you quilters already sew with a quarter inch foot and i'm the last one in the universe to get one? wow, what a difference that made! now the fabric sits firmly under the foot and i can also easily see where the quarter inch seam is without having to use tape to mark it on my foot. woo hoo!

improv quilt plan for august do. good stitches love circle quilt

i am also trying to finish up the august quilt for do. good stitches. i just love all the very different blocks everyone sent in! i originally planned to sash it in the linen you see under the blocks above (which was the trimmings from some ikea curtains for the nursery… isn't recycling the best?) but now that i have the blocks on there it feels a little too washed out. i'm thinking maybe a nice rich chocolate color would be better to help the blocks stand out, but i'm unsure. if anyone has opinions i'd love to hear them! especially before i go and order a bunch of fabric.

and how about new pictures of my little cutie? here's weeks nine and ten!

9 weeks

fabric: amy butler cypress paisley in blush (from the love collection)

10 weeks

fabric: alexander henry holland in blue

oh my goodness, how that little smile melts my heart.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

… blackberry season


summer has been slow to start here in seattle. we only just really got into it last month. that means, as usual, september is looking to be downright summery gorgeousness. and for us that means that it's finally blackberry season. i am always surprised when i see people selling blackberries. don't they know you can get them for free, like, just about everywhere? you can't walk two steps in this city without tripping over a blackberry vine. there are two terrific patches just in the alley behind our house that i frequent in the summer to get my fix.


this morning i ventured out in the alley in my robe and flip flops to pick some berries for buttermilk pancakes.

pancake stack

i fry my pancakes up in our cast iron skillet so they are all sorts of wabi sabi. i think i like them kind of wonky (like i like my cake).

berry sauce

i topped my pancakes with fresh blackberries along with some leftover berry sauce i made last weekend for this most delicious summer bread pudding.




and you know what else i love in the summer? dahlias. oh boy, do i love dahlias. nothing says summer like having blackberries and dahlias on the table.

Friday, September 2, 2011

… cake, just because

i like to bake. but that's no secret. this cake came about because of one very overripe banana in our fruit basket and an old pin on my "to make and eat" board on pinterest.

banana cake

i am not too shabby a baker, but there are some things that completely elude me. one of those things is how to properly frost a cake. "ara jane, why don't you try a crumb coat," you might say! and to that i would reply, "what's a crumb coat?"

i am kidding (just a little) but i really do prefer cakes that are more rustic in appearance. you know, big puffs of buttercream and wonky, sloppy layers. it is a fact that they taste better. is there anyone out there who actually likes the taste of fondant? yeah, i thought not.

banana cake

of course, now i have an entire cake in my house with no where to take it and no one to eat it except me and c. (like that's a bad thing.)

oh, and this really might be the best banana cake ever. no wait, it might just be the best cake ever, it's that good.