Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hello, I am a Quilt Junkie

My First Quilt
*Sigh*  It's true, you know.  I am completely addicted to quilting.  I began quilting last January--just one short year ago and I now can't imagine my life without it.  I pick up gorgeous bits of fabric "just in case" I think of something to do with it.  I pour over quilting magazines, blogs, and websites.  I save the free patterns I find in a special folder, just so that I have them ready when I need a new project.
I've made eight quilts that are throw size or larger and a ton of smaller projects--pillows, tablerunners, bags, and more.  That's quite a bit all in one year.

Natalia's Baby Quilt
There is something so satisfying for me in quilting.  My favorite part is choosing the fabrics---taking unlikely combinations and seeing what comes out of it.  But each step has it's own appeal.  The cutting is all accuracy and counting--and it's so satisfying to see a stack of pieces just begging to be put together.  I love the piecing, seeing how piece by piece, block by block, slowly the whole begins to take shape.  Then, if I hand quilt, I get to see the dimension and texture added.  More often though, I send it out to a lovely woman, Karie, who long arm quilts for me. (Her website is Karie's Quilting) Then, the anticipation of what Karie will do with it and when I get to pick it up and see how it's taken shape, always makes my heart skip just a little.  Finally, there is a certain finality and satisfaction in putting the binding on.  All of the raw edges are neatly sewn up, tucked in and hidden.  The finished piece is all smooth edges and beautiful patterns.
Steve and Krista's Wedding Quilt
So often the work that I do during the day, youth ministry, doesn't have smooth edges and easy to define successes.  I think this is why I need hobbies that give me a sense of accomplishment--a quilt completed, a great book finished, a pie well made (and eaten!).  It gives me a list that I can look at and feel a sense of "doneness." 

This week, I completed two quilt tops and will deliver them to Karie next week for quilting.  Done and done.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Soul Sisterhood Retreat

Last September, I began dreaming about a camp experience for girls, ages 11-14, that would allow them to explore their creativity, make new friends, and grow their faith in God.  One day, I was out for coffee with my friend Elizabeth, and I was telling her about my idea.  In a very matter-of-fact way, Elizabeth looked at me and said, "We could do that. I'd help you."  And as she said it, I thought to myself, "You're right.  We could do this."
That was 6 months ago, and now the camp is quickly becoming a reality.  We've named it The Soul Sisterhood Retreat.  We have brochures and registration forms.  We have a Facebook page, and information on the web.  We have camp dates reserved (June 12-17), staff is taking shape, and we have already have 8 girls signed up.  Our first marketing campaign went out last Friday, and the response has been so positive. Ministry colleagues, moms, girls, everyone who we've talked to about it, thinks it's awesome.  I'd have to agree, but then again I'm a little biased. ;-)  It is so affirming to see people's responses and already have so many girls signed up.

Coming up in April, we are even going to do a fundraiser for the camp--a women's day complete with entertainment, a dessert buffet, silent auction and raffle prizes.  So much good stuff all to support this new venture--and hopefully make it something that grows and gets even better year by year!  I am working on a quilt right now for the silent auction...unfortunately, I'm so in love with it that I don't want to donate it!  My husband suggested I make another one for the auction and keep this one.  I don't know.  It seems like more of a sacrifice if I give the one I love up...

Take a moment to check out the details at our website, here. If you'd like to support the ministry financially or by donating supplies, let me know. We can use your support in so many different ways.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

This year, my husband and I didn't do Valentine's Day presents--mainly because he just bought me a new car. :-) But, I am not one to let a holiday go by without some sort of special treat for my honey, so I decided to bake some Valentine's inspired cookies.  Imagine his delight to wake up on Saturday to a whole cookie jar full of these gems!  Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Chip Valentines

Preheat oven to 375 degress.

1 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 cup red or pink M&M's

Cream together butter, white sugar, brown sugar,  eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa power.  Then, sift flour mixture into the butter mixture and combine. (This dough is very stiff, so you will need some arm muscles!).  Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips and the M&M's.  Next, place tablespoons sized balls (I used a small ice cream scoop) on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes and then allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.

Makes about 35 cookies.

(It is very convenient to buy just a small amount of the color of M&M's you want at a bulk candy store.  I happened to have a bag of Christmas M&M's leftover, so I just picked out all the red ones.  I guess I'll have to use the green ones for a St. Patty's Day treat!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A little pre-Valentine's Day Festivity

I know, I know.  It's been way too long since I posted last.  It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks...a youth ministry conference at which I presented, a funeral, a retreat, and 8th grade curriculum that is fun but takes a lot of prep time.  Whew.  But, it is all over and I once again have some time to create and write. 

Last Saturday, a group of friends got together and did a little sewing.  Our project was a simple quilt-as-you- go table runner.  A few weeks ago I had found an adorable heart themed print at a quilt shop, and while not quite sure what it would become, I picked up a yard of it.  Well, it became the inspiration for this runner (with enough left over to make a pillow as well!).

Cute, huh?  If you want to check out the instructions, you can find them here.  I also was inspired to make some brownie pops from the Farm Chicks website as well---so delicious and easy peasy.  Here are mine,

I made these for our Girls' Group gathering on Monday, and they were a hit.  My husband liked them too. I am not sure what our project will be for next week, as we meet on actual Valentine's Day.  I asked the girls what they wanted to do, and they suggested I bring my husband for show and tell. Hmmmm...interesting, but I was thinking of something slightly more creative.  Any ideas?  I am toying with molten chocolate cakes or something equally decadent.

Last, but not least, I did have a little time last week to go antiquing with my friend, Jane.  I picked up a couple of vintage tablecloths.  I love their happy, springtime prints, but best of all, they will make awesome table coverings for a fundraiser for the Soul Sisterhood Retreat in April. 

I am especially in love with the yellow rose print on the right.  It has a little bit of pretty blue in it as well.  I can just see it set for a pretty springtime table with a vase of daffodils.  Ah, spring, you seem so far away still.  In any case, if any one of you (or your grandma!) are hoarding some of these tablecloths and would like to make some space in your linen closet, let me know!