Light the Menorah

There’s just nothing like some great Christmas music, the lights dimmed, the twinkle of the tree, and some hot chocolate or chamomile tea. Nothing.

I haven’t really put out all my decorations, because let’s face it: I have two (nearly) 3-year-olds. (I can’t believe they’re almost 3–so cliche, but where did the time go?) I figure some of my things don’t stand a chance with that duo around, so I’ll leave them in boxes for the next coupla years. We put up the tree though, and the goobers were just so tickled. I think they laid under it for a good 5 minutes, just staring. Honestly I don’t think they’ve ever been that still for that long. Ever. At least while they’re awake.

I’m also doing some seasonal sewing around here that I can’t wait to show you. Stay tuned. (Psst! I’ve heard there will be a table runner pattern posted on Friday. Just sayin’.) And after that, I have to dig in to the absolutely delicious new fabric that Lissa sent my way (thanks again! mwa!). I have so many ideas for it, I can’t wait to get started.

We have a fun tradition at our house: our annual Hanukkah party. This year falls extra early, starting today, and so I’ve been more in a Hanukkah mode than Christmas.

I know, I know. Hanukkah and Christmas in the same sentence. Lemme ‘splain.

Jacob (my sweet husband) grew up celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas in his home because his father grew up Jewish, then later converted to Christianity. Still, the holidays and traditions of his childhood held a special place for him, and he wanted his children to know their heritage. So they celebrated and learned. When we were married, we wanted to continue the tradition. So in our home, there are dreidels sitting alongside manger scenes, menorahs reflecting the twinkle lights on the tree.  Sort of seems like a paradox, but really, they’re both beautiful holidays that celebrate the miracles that a loving Father performed for his children and I find that they complement each other beautifully.

Plus, I make killer latkes.

Hence the annual party. Not sure if you’re aware, but you can’t really make just a few latkes. The recipe starts with something like 5 pounds of potatos and more than a few onions. If I ate all 20,000 latkes (and I could, they are AMAZING) I’d be more than 5 pounds heaver, that’s for sure. Plus, around here, next to no one has ever really been exposed to Hanukkah, and it’s fun to share something new and lovely with friends.

So things are in full holiday swing over here, with 7 parties in the next two weeks, and 5 birthdays (including mine!) and we’re loving it. Now all we need is a blizzard, and the season will be perfect.

Hope your holidays are shaping up just perfectly, whether you celebrate one holiday or a few.


Quilting Basics: Pieced & Applique Quilt Tops

Alright, here’s the deal. Quilts can be made in a zillion different ways. Usually though, quilt tops consist of the same basic pieces: either pieced blocks, applique blocks, or a combination of both. Blocks are just a term used for the (usually) square piece of either pieced or appliqued fabric. You put lots of fabric blocks together, they make a quilt top.

Here’s the lowdown on the difference between pieced and applique blocks.

Pieced: A quilt top made from smaller pieces of fabric. Blocks generally consist of several smaller pieces. Blocks can be arranged in many different ways to make an interesting pattern. However, there are other ways to make pieced quilt tops, including using strips, and using random “crazy” blocks.

Applique: An applique quilt is also made of blocks, but the pattern on the blocks is made by pieces of fabric sewn to the top. The pieces can be attached by small, hand-sewn stitches, or by machine stitching.

So there’s the lesson of the day, chickadees.  Questions?


Quilting Basics: What are the parts of a quilt?

As promised, here’s the first episode in what may just become the neverending series. So many of you asked for “beginner” patterns, and just a little bit of handholding, so here I am friends! Happy to oblige.  Quilt School: Quilting Basics is my way of walking you through a quilt, start to finish. Of course, there’s no way I can cover absolutely everything, but I am MOST DEFINITELY up for suggestions.

Without further ado, here’s lesson 1:

What makes a quilt, a quilt?

You’ll be pleased to know that this is a SIMPLE lesson. No tests. No sewing machines, even.

A quilt is made up of 3 basic parts: a top layer, some kind of filler in the middle (we’ll get to that later), and a bottom layer. A “quilt sandwich” as some like to call it.

Often, the top layer is referred to as the “quilt top”. Simple enough, right? The top layer is typically the “pieced” part of the quilt, meaning, the part of the quilt that is made up of smaller pieces sewn together. When you think of a quilt, the quilt top is what most people picture. It contains the design of the quilt, as well as a majority of the visual interest. Quilt tops are typically made of high quality quilter’s cotton fabric.

The middle layer is generally made of what’s called batting. Batting is usually thin, and made from a cotton or cotton blend, or polyester. It adds the thickness to your quilt, and adds an extra layer of insulation. How thick your batting is (that’s called the loft) is a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind, however, that if you choose a thicker batting, it will be harder to “quilt” your quilt by hand, if that’s your plan. There are advantages and disadvantages to different types of batting, we’ll talk about that another day.

The bottom layer is called the backing. It is typically made out of the same fabric as your pieced quilt top, though generally just one print. Depending on the size of your quilt, your backing may be 2 or more pieces of the same (or different, if you want) fabric sewn together to make a large enough size. I like to choose a fabric that has a large allover print for my backing, because I can enjoy it in one large piece. If I used a large print for my quilt top, I would cut up the large print, and not be able to see it all together.

In addition to these three layers, a quilt also typically has a binding, which is several layers of fabric sewn around the edge of your quilt, to cover raw edges and keep everything together.

There you have it! The anatomy of a quilt.

So you don’t forget, I’ll put the bolded words into that “glossary” page over there on the left. (Coming this afternoon!) See the little icon? If you ever want to review what we’re learning, just click on over there.

Hope you learned a little something, new kids! Talk to you soon!



I’d be lying if I said…

That I haven’t been crazy busy these last few weeks. What with the Sarah Jane redesign last week, some last-minute pattern revisions (which were all my fault because I’m a newbie, and luckily my printer was kind enough to give me the heads up…), and some serious salsa and spaghetti sauce canning, I’m surprised I got any sleep at all.

Though I have to say, going to bed at 2am and getting up at 6:30am doesn’t make for a very well rested Mommy.

Also, for those of you who placed orders, I’m shipping them out via express mail, you should see your patterns very, very soon. The delay was caused by aforementioned pattern revisions, and weren’t really anything I expected. My apologies, and of course I’ll include a little extra something for your patience.

In other news, International Quilt Market is this weekend, in Houston. I’m not going, and even though a part of me wishes I could be there…the rest of me is excited to take Mario and Princess Peach out for their first real stint at trick-or-treating.

Cross your fingers for me, I don’t think they’ve ever had more than 2 consecutive pieces of candy in their little 2-and-a-half-year-old lives. It could get dangerous over here.

I’m working on a few fun freebies for you in the next couple of weeks. It’s a little too late this year for the one above, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased with what shows up.

Come back soon!


PS I forgot to tell you, I’ve started archiving my monthly desktop wallpaper. I make myself a new one each month with a quote on it that inspires me. If you’re interested in seeing or downloading them, they’re here.

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