Friday, July 31, 2009

Goodies in the mail!

Do you know what I got in the mail last night? My Pay it Forward giveaway prize from the lovely Kit. And do you know what it was? A fantastically beautiful bag that she made just for me:

beautiful bag from Kit

Just look at that quilting! And the colors! And the many kinds of fabric!

beautiful bag from Kit

That's one thing I love about Kit...she's not afraid to use fabrics other than cotton in her quilts. She takes all sorts of lovely textures and colors and makes them work together. She also sent along these goodies:

more goodies from Kit

I love the scent of the lotion and soap. I wash my hands about a million times a day so this is the perfect treat! (In case you're wondering, I'm not a germaphobe. When I was little, my aunt taught me to cross-stitch and she told me to always wash my hands before I picked up my project. The thought of oily fingers on fabric or paper makes me cringe to this day.)

Anyway, thanks again, Kit! I love everything!

A scientific debate

When I first started quilting, I found a lot of people said "I never prewash my fabric because I want my quilts to have the crinkly look". I'm mentally incapable of not prewashing fabric so I was sad that my quilts wouldn't be crinkly. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my first quilt out of the dryer and found that it went from something like this:

July 2009 quilt

to something like this:

July 2009 quilt

It just makes sense...the cotton batting (which I don't prewash) and cotton thread shrink in the dryer and the top and bottom layers have nowhere to go but out.

I wonder how it would compare to a quilt made with fabric straight off the bolt. I've seen photos of other people's non-prewashed quilts and they're pretty crinkly...but are they actually crinklier? My theory is that they're not. Maybe I'll do an experiment with two mini quilts someday. You know, a scientific quilt experiment. I'll give my prediction right now: prewashed fabric quilts will be more crinkly than non-prewashed fabric quilts. Ooo...scandalous!

Do you have any thoughts on the whole "to prewash or not to prewash" debate? Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July Giveaway Month: Week 5

I can't believe it's the end of July already. And this is the last week of July giveaways!

But before I get to the winners I just want to tell you that I really enjoyed reading your comments from last week. I loved your stories about your family treasures. It's amazing how these things can be filled with so much meaning, that they can contain so many memories. Thank you so much for sharing them with me.

And now, the winners of last week's giveaway (drawn by a sleepy Ian) are as follows:

The apron goes to: Christine

and the table runner goes to: AdronsCatherine

Congratulations to you both! Emails are on their way.

So, I suppose you want to know what the final giveaway prize is, right? Well, here it is:

July 2009 quilt

Yes, it's a quilt! I wanted to make a quilt for this giveaway but gave up the idea because, knowing me, I'd never finish one in time. But then, I got obsessed while avoiding working on another project and ta-da! A quilt for you!

I know it's the middle of summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) but quilts are fun all year round (picnics anyone?) and I really hope you like it. It was my first truly improvisational quilt. It's still very organized but I just made it up as I went along. It started with these bitty triangles:

July 2009 quilt

They're leftover from the ends of binding strips. They were all the same size and in colors that happened to work well together. I sat looking at them (avoiding my project) and thought: "I just can't stand it anymore, something needs to be done with those triangles." Once they were sewn together, I couldn't rest until I added the white and then I felt like adding matching fabric around that. Most of those strips were leftover from binding strips...which was nice because they were already all the same width (2.75"). This meant I didn't need to spend much time cutting fabric and the improv aspect hurried things along as well. It all fell together much faster than I expected.

July 2009 quilt

Fresh out of the dryer, the quilt measures approximately 47"x62". It's smaller than I hoped it would be but I was running low on fabric and I was sort of getting tired of making the blocks. I figured done was better than big. It's still big enough to curl up in, though.

And then when I was looking around for a backing fabric, I found this flannel print on etsy:

July 2009 quilt

It's Fleurish by Valori Wells and it's the softest flannel I've ever felt. The whole thing is bound with Sandi Henderson's Blossom Buds which I had just ordered days before starting the quilt which is the only reason I had enough for the binding. It sort of felt like this quilt was meant to be. And now maybe it's meant to be yours!

Comment below and I'll announce the winner next Wednesday. Just promise me you won't look too closely at my quilting, ok? I tried really hard to keep my stitches even but they're still far from perfect.

Also, if you feel like answering: do you like to quilt? I read many of your blogs and I know that some of you quilt and if you do, what's your favorite step in the quilting process? What keeps you going through the parts you find boring? If you don't quilt, why not? Ok, just kidding...if you don't quilt, do you like to sew? And if so, what do you like to sew?

My favorite parts of the process are: designing the quilt, picking out fabric and cutting the fabric. I also really like hand sewing the binding. The steps in the middle are sometimes sort of boring and usually time consuming which means I don't actually finish many of the quilts I start. Unfortunately, usually what keeps me going is taking a really long break somewhere in the middle (um...bento box) and then thinking "Hey, I could finish this in a few days if I tried" and then I get a second wind and finish! Also, the ability to do free motion quilting on my machine helps get me excited for the actual quilting part.

Also, I really enjoyed making this quilt (start to finish) so I think the key is more improvisational quilting. It was really freeing and I had so much fun designing as I went along.

Anyway, good luck to everyone and please don't feel shy about entering.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Greetings from California! So far it's been hot but not too hot. It's so sunny here! I mean, it's often sunny in Minnesota but every day here is, like, the sunniest day ever!

sacramento tower bridge

Today Ian and I went to Old Sacramento to buy saltwater taffy. We went to the place that lets you sample all the taffy you want so long as you eat it in the store. Fantastic!

saltwater taffy

Tonight we're going to see some Shakespeare in the park...only the Shakespeare company isn't actually doing Shakespeare tonight, they're putting on some sort of Robin Hood play instead. I think it'll be fun!

old sacramento

We've spent lots of time just hanging out around the house or grilling or going out for coffee. Tomorrow we're going to Lake Tahoe for some sightseeing. I flew over the lake on Friday and it looked beautiful from the air.

Not much else to talk about right now, just stopping in to say hi!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

California, here I come!

Three things:

1) Karrie and I are going to see Harry Potter tonight and we're eating popcorn for dinner. Woohoo!

2) I forgot to measure the runner and apron yesterday and I won't get a chance to measure them until tonight and then I won't be near a computer for a few days. And I might forget to do it entirely because I'm forgetful and because:

3) I'm leaving for California in the morning! We're staying with Ian's parents and I have no idea what we'll be up to all weekend. It's going to be HOT! I don't like hot. I'm from Minnesota! And the shortest "shorts" I have are the ones from the apron pictures yesterday. That's not going to be short enough. But I refuse to wear real shorts! Skirts are a possibility but we'll see how I feel when I'm packing tonight.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend and I'll send love from California if I can. Ian brought his laptop so maybe I can post pictures during the trip.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July Giveaway Month: Week 4

It's Wednesday again and that means it's time to announce the winners from last week's giveaway. My helper today was my work-friend Lori. After she drew two names from the box, I held them behind my back and told her to pick which hand would get pink/green and which would get blue/green. The winners are:

Pink/green: Tammy

Blue/green: Jessica

Tammy, I already have your address so no need to send it again. Jessica, I just emailed you for your address. Congratulations to you both!

Now, on to this week's giveaway. There are two prizes this week and they're not the same thing! Scandalous! The first is an apron because I think aprons are fun:

tea towel apron side 1

This apron is actually a ginormous tea towel folded in half. Which means it's double sided! This side has a strip of Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks fabric, my favorite in pink.

The other side has a scrappy pocket!

tea towel apron side 2

Thanks to Ian for taking these pictures for me!

I forgot to measure this but my waist is somewhere in the 32"-36" range, depending on how high or low I wear the apron. There are tiny gathers below the sash to give a little extra room for the tummy/hips (and for cuteness). The sash is very long and can be worn tied at the back or wrapped around again to tie at the front (like I did for the pictures here). I tried my best to make it a one-size-fits-all apron. Also, I can't promise this will be flattering to anyone's figure but I think it's cute and it's definitely sturdy. I want to do an apron tutorial one of these days so if you don't win it, you can make your own.

The second prize is a table runner:

table runner fronttable runner back

Again, I forgot to measure this but I think it's around 14"x47" and has been washed and dried to get the crinkly look. (I'll measure the runner and the apron tonight and update this post...I'm so unorganized today.)

Don't you just love these log cabins? I want to make a million more!

table runner

This week's drawing will be a little different. Since the two things here are very different and I don't want you to win something you don't want, you can choose to enter the drawing for the table runner, the apron or both. Just let me know in the comments and I'll put your name in the appropriate drawing or drawings. (If you forget to do this, I'll enter you in both by default.)

I have sort of an awkward question today but it's something I really want to know. Do you have something that you treasure that was made by (or used to belong to) a relative (like a grandparent or a favorite aunt or even your mom or dad)?

I ask because I went through the stuff in my parent's attic a few years ago and found so many things that used to belong to my great grandma, including a quilt that was falling apart. I also found two aprons that she made at some point in time. One of them is a smock that uses darts to make it fit her body. I tried it on and found that it fit my body exactly. Thinking about that makes me really happy. So, what ancient treasures make you happy?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shaken, not stirred

I’m feeling light today. My July giveaway gifts are all finished (there was a last minute substitution because I’m indecisive like that) and we photographed everything last night.

Ian is on his way to California right now and I’ll be joining him out there on Friday. We're visiting his parents and it should be a nice time. Until then, though, I'm free to do as I please, no obligations or deadlines besides packing some clothes.

I've been feeling creative lately, which is so nice after the lapse I had this winter after my grandpa died. There are a lot of little reasons why I feel creative but there’s one big one that I didn’t tell you about yet: I’m moving!

And moving shakes up your world (especially if you're an extreme homebody like me) and I’ve been unshaken for a long time…in a rut even!

For the past four years I’ve lived in a very lovely duplex owned by a couple of my good friends. (Hi Karrie!) There’s a long story behind this but the short story is that my parents moved up north two years ago and are trying (unsuccessfully) to sell their house in town. They’ve decided to take it off the market for a few years and asked if I’d like to live there. Of course I jumped at the chance!

To some people, the thought of moving back to their childhood home sounds like a terrible idea but to me it sounds lovely. The neighborhood is quiet, the houses have character, the yards are big and the trees are tall.

I’m going to help my parents make improvements to the house as we go along and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to buy the house in a few years. But even if I don’t, I’ll get two peaceful years out of the deal. Two years of eating outside on the back porch, two years of reading books on a blanket in the backyard, two years of trying my hand at gardening and improving my sewing sewing skills in my new studio. And last but not least: two years of living with this lovely lady:

grandma clare

What a twist to this little story! That’s my grandma, a spunky lady who says the “f” word and drinks cocktails every night at 5pm. Since Grandpa died, she’s been struggling to take care of her house and acreage in the great north woods. She’s trying to sell the property which might direct her path one way or another but until then, she’s decided to live with me.

I’d like to take this move as an opportunity to be a better person, namely in the “cleans up after herself and thinks about others” sort of way. And in the "doesn't procrastinate and doesn't half-ass things" sort of way. I’ve lived alone for a long time and it’s definitely time for a change…before I become the crazy cat lady who doesn’t even have any cats.

I’ll probably want to talk about this again after the official move happens at the beginning of August because I have lots of decoration projects swirling around in my mind. And I want to buy a man-powered push mower...because I have to cut grass! I can't believe I'm looking forward to mowing the lawn. Maybe it's too late...maybe I am a crazy cat lady already...but at least I'm one who can't wait to get out of the house...which is nice.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Embroidery overload

Do you know what I want to do right now? Embroider tea towels. For real this time.

Embroidered teal towel, peach

Because guess what I got for my birthday this year? My aunt found this set of tea towels at a little shop down the way. There are also grapes, cherries, apples, figs and lemons. I think I'm forgetting a couple.

t2Embroidered teal towel, pear

I've always been afraid to embroider my own towels because I've never really seen one in person. I had no idea how to keep the back of the embroidery looking neat. But check this out:

Embroidered teal towel, peach back

Such neat stitches! This woman is a total pro! I want to be a pro too!

I'm about to order some hot iron transfers so I can get to work on my own tea towels. I want to embroider them with fun things like kittens going shopping and squirrels pushing wheelbarrows full of nuts. I found a cabin set for my parents and mermaids for my aunt. The squirrels are for my brother and the kittens, well, they're for me. There's also a rabbit that's eating grapefruit and the juice is squirting into his eye...I'll make that one for Ian because he knows that pain well. Maybe I'll turn the rabbit into a kitten because he likes cats better.

Anyway, I'm really excited to try it out for myself. I used to cross stitch so I already have some embroidery floss. And I can't wait to use these skeins that Elaine sent me:

embroidery floss and bracelet

Check out that variegated floss! Fantastic!

Do you want to know what else I got for my birthday? More embroidered pillowcases from my mom.

an embroidered pillowcase

She embroidered them just for me and I love them.

an embroidered pillowcase

Thank you!

lovely letter

I found this little guy in my mailbox yesterday! And inside the package was this stack of gorgeous fabric from Jennifer:

fabric from Jennifer

She sent this to me out of the goodness of her heart and told me I actually had to cut it up. How terrible! And wonderful. Because now that I have permission, it will be easier. I'll do it for Jennifer, because she says so.

I'm always surprised by the generosity of people. I live a pretty secluded life, I keep to myself most of the time. And then something like this happens and I realize that I'm not as alone as I thought. And while I prefer, most of the time, to be on my own, these moments are truly something to treasure. Because someone somewhere was thinking of me, someone I've never even met. That's quite a gift.

So, thank you Jennifer! I'm excited to start planning projects for these fabrics. I hope you're enjoying your vacation and that you loved the new Harry Potter movie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July Giveaway Month: Week 3

Wow! I can't believe how many people entered to win the cloth napkins. It's not a lot compared to some blogs but it's a lot here on my little blog. How exciting!

Today's helper was my work-friend Kathy. She drew the two lucky winners:

Claudia and Ashley!

Thanks to everyone for entering. Emails have been sent to the winners.

Now, on to new business...the week three giveaway prizes. One winner will receive this pair of pink/green/blue potholders:

quilted potholders

quilted potholders

And one winner will receive this blue/green pair:

quilted potholders

quilted potholders

They're approximately 8.5" square with one layer of Insul-Bright and one layer of Warm and White cotton batting. I didn't include loops on these because I still haven't learned how to make loops...but also because I think they look nicer sitting on the table without loops. Then they're like a quilt for your table!

If you'd like to enter to win these potholders, comment on this post by next Tuesday night (July 21) and I'll draw names Wednesday morning.

Also, since I don't like to cook but I do like to bake, I'm wondering: what's your favorite homemade dessert? These days I'm particularly fond of peanut butter cookies and in the winter, I love making molasses cookies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Disqus, a commenting tutorial

Ok, so since

-I'm new to the whole Disqus thing and since

-you might be new to it too and since

-I don't want it to annoy any of you and because

-I love your comments and want you to feel comfortable commenting on my posts,

-here are four things about Disqus that I think you should know:

1) You can still comment even if you don't have a blog. An email address is required but it is not shown.

2) When you comment, there is a box where you can fill in your blog name along with your name and email (just like blogger, etc). If you fill in the website box using your blog website, your comment will be "click-able" and people can visit your blog. I (and my boggy friends, I'm sure) love checking out new blogs so I recommend you fill that part out. Don't feel like you have to, of course. I just want you to be comfortable either way.

3) After you hit the "Post Comment" button, Disqus will send up an (in my opinion) annoying box asking you to log in or register with Disqus. Please don't let that keep you from commenting. You can simply click the "Skip this step. Post my comment as a Guest." link right below that button and your comment will show up. And the next time you want to comment, your information should be saved so you don't have to keep filling it in every time. Actually, this might not be true every time...so, sorry about that. I keep making test comments different ways and sometimes it fills in my info and sometimes it doesn't.

If you do chose to create a profile in Disqus (you can do this even if you do NOT want to use Disqus on your own blog) and you want to make your comments "click-able" so people can find your blog, follow Kit's advice:

"You go to "my account" and then to Profile (you have to go to "my account" first - if you go to Profile from the opening page it doesn't give you the option to add your site) and then you can add it."

4) Under the "Post Comment" button is a drop down box where you can pick "Subscribe to all comments" or "Do not subscribe". If you pick to subscribe to the comments in a particular post, you'll get an email that says "You've just posted a comment on "whatever the title of the post was" and have selected to receive email notifications whenever new comments are posted. Please click the following link to confirm that you would like to receive these notifications:"

When you click the link, it will take you to a page that says "Email verified! Your DISQUS subscriptions will now begin." That's it...Disqus won't put you on a mailing list or anything crazy like that. Comments for that post only will start popping up in your email.

Hopefully this helps you feel more comfortable commenting on my blog. Because if you want to join in on the rest of the July giveaways, you'll have to comment. :) But in all seriousness, I really do love and appreciate each and every comment and this is an attempt to create a better way to communicate here. Thanks for your patience and I promise to post some fun sewing pics soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boring list ahead!

I feel like making a long-winded list. Hopefully you want to read it.

-I couldn't find the Dresden Plate template at the fabric store this weekend. I think I'm going to wait a week or so before I order one online with the express purpose of waiting out a potential (probable?) passing obsession. If, in a week or so, I still feel like I want to make a Dresden Plate, I'll either create my own template or order the plastic tool online.

-Allison asked last week and Ian would like me to clarify for everyone: foods Ian will not eat outside. I was mistaken because Ian says the only food he will not eat outside is delivery pizza. There is a fantastic local pizza place down the road from his house that we usually order from once a week. I drive to pick it up because I don't like paying a delivery fee for what amounts to a mile. Ian refuses to eat this delicious pizza outside. I have no idea why because when we make homemade pizza, we sometimes eat it outside. Ian also says that he'll eat anything else outside (even soup) so you can bet I'll be testing that claim this summer/fall.

-Thank you to all the entrants of my latest giveaway. I've really enjoyed reading your tales of dining al fresco. It really is one of life's little pleasures, one I plan to enjoy more often, with or without Ian.

-I placed my final Neptune order. I contacted Hollyhill but never heard back from them so I just decided to place the order and see what happened. They charged me the full amount which, I assume, means they're sending the full amount of fabric I requested. If so, my Neptune fabric search is over and I can stop obsessing. I'll have enough Neptune fabric to make many, many sea-themed quilts. But I'm going to have a hard time cutting it up so maybe I'll make NO quilts. But I could make them if I wanted to. At least I'll use some for my mom and aunt's quilts...that has to count for something.

-I got this lovely package in the mail this weekend:

my favorite thing to get in the mail!

Cute, no? It's more Neptune (and some sale fabric) from sewlovefabrics. July giveaway winners should note, your packages will not be as cute as this...sorry.

-There were some questions about my new threaded comments. First, apparently there is no way for blogger to thread comments. You need to go through an outside source.

I'm using Disqus (pronounced discuss). You have to sign up on the website, follow about four simple directions and voila! Threaded comments. It's free, I haven't gotten any emails from them bugging me and your blog will look exactly the same as it always did (the exception being the comments, of course).

If you want to sign up for this, I suggest you save a copy of your blog code before doing anything, just in case you want to get rid of disqus someday. Disqus adds code to your code and since I'm not very computer savvy I have no idea how else to get rid of it if I want. Maybe it's easy, I haven't even looked at the new code.

Again, let me know if anything about the new comment format (or disqus itself) bothers you.

-I think that's everything I wanted to tell you. I'll have some sewing stuff to show you later this week and maybe I'll finally get photos of my Summer of '09 quilt.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today's obsession

You guys! I'm never going to get anything done if I don't stop finding new obsessions. Do you know what I want to do now? Make Dresden Plates.

Because just look at these beautiful plates. I mean, how is a girl to finish a project when things this beautiful! exist in the world? I want to drop what I'm doing and make plates as lovely as these.

The good thing is that there's a plastic template that makes the cutting easy. And the second good thing is that I found a tutorial that makes assembling them super easy too. And the last good thing is that I'll probably get sick of making Dresden Plates about halfway through my first plate. But that's ok because I could make a pillow...like this one.

Unfortunately, when I was at the fabric store, they didn't have the template. Ian and I will be close to a larger fabric store tonight or tomorrow so I remain hopeful that beautiful half-finished Dresden Plates will be in my near future.

That's my obsession for today. What's yours?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A quilting intervention

So, I was all excited to tell you that I found the missing Neptune fabrics. I placed the order and started writing this post.

A little while later I got a phone call from from someone from Quilters Anonymous. It was a phone call intervention! Oh no!

It took me a second to realize that the woman was from the website where I just ordered fabric and I was both relieved (I mean, really, I don't need an intervention) and saddened. Saddened because three of the prints I just ordered were out of stock and one of them was the very same fabric I couldn't find anywhere else for under $22 a yard (which I downright won't pay!)

So, Jennifer, I was all set to tell you that I didn't need you to check your local quilt store for Neptune fabric but now, well, if the offer still stands, can you look for this fabric:

caspian pacific

It's called Caspian and the color is Pacific. Let me know if you find any...I'm in the market for anything up to two yards. I really appreciate you checking for me.

*edit*Marylin and Ashley sent me to Hollyhill and I just sent them an email...I hope they have some in stock! We'll see...hopefully soon because my poor heart can't take all this disappointment.*/edit*

Also, since we're talking about fabric, my first Neptune delivery showed up in the mail yesterday. And look...aqua Neptune goes pretty well with aqua Mendocino:

neptune and mendocino fabric

I was secretly hoping it would because I want to use it in the quilt for my mom and aunt, both fabrics being sea themed and all.

neptune and mendocino fabric

I'm still not sure of a layout for the quilts. I'm thinking long strips to show off the swimming mermaids. The movement in that fabric is so great, I don't want to break it up. I also want it to feel more organic than fussy. Hmmm...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July Giveaway Month: Week 2

First, let me announce the winners of last week's prize. I had Ian draw names this morning (I had him tell me which color went with the name before he pulled it out of the jar) and he was sleepy and it was pretty cute.

The blue/green set goes to: carrieb

and the orange/pink set goes to: Digital Misfit

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy them. Email me your address (crystal dot bergstrom at gmail dot com) and I'll get them in the mail asap. Carrie, I don't have your new address...you can lj message me or send an email, whichever.

And now, the week 2 prizes! Two winners will each receive a set of eight fabric napkins:

small cloth napkins

They measure 7"x7" which is the same size as a normal paper napkin. Only they're better because they're cute, they're double sided for extra absorbency and they're reusable. Just throw them in the washer and dryer (or line dry for extra eco-friendliness).

*edited to add*These are made with regular quilting cotton. I loved picking stuff out of my stash that I haven't even used in a quilt yet. Because I'm hording it all, you know, and might never get around to using it otherwise.*/edit*

small cloth napkins

Comment on this post by next Tuesday night (July 14) to enter. Also, tell me something...do you like to eat outside during the summer (or whenever it's warm enough)? Because, I love it but I know some people who really dislike eating outside. And my boyfriend will only eat certain foods outside. What's your opinion on this very important matter?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Five things

Thing the first: if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, and if you'd like a chance to win fabric coasters, be sure to enter sometime tonight. And then check in tomorrow to see the winners and the week 2 prizes.

Thing the second: look at these flowers:

tiger lily

Aren't they nice?

Thing the third: I had a fantastic time up north this weekend but the "photographing the Summer of '09 quilt whilst waiting for fireworks" plan didn't work out. Mostly because we were all too tired to drive into town to see the fireworks. Instead, we ate chips and watched movies and curled up under said quilt. I think an "end of the dock, setting sun, curled up in a quilt" photoshoot would have been lovely too...but there were chips to be eaten and I didn't even think of it.

Thing the fourth: I ordered more neptune fabric. I'm having a hard time finding all the prints I want, especially for a price I want to pay. But it won't be around forever (in fact, it won't be around for much longer) so I'm just giving in. I bought 16 of the prints for a great price, I found (but didn't buy yet) 13 for a not-so-great price, I don't want 3 of the prints, and I can't find 2 of the prints at all. It's like they never existed outside of charm packs.

Thing the fifth: My next project is matching Mendocino quilts for my aunt and my mom. I only want to use the aqua prints, though, and I really hope I have enough. Because after all my Neptune purchases, I'm done buying fabric for a long time. No, seriously.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A perfect day

Thanks again to everyone who sent me such nice birthday wishes yesterday. It turned out to be a great day!

When I got to Ian's house, I saw that he had picked me a bouquet of gorgeous thistles. He told me later that he'd intended to pick me a wildflower bouquet but the field he'd scoped out mere days before was completely wildflower free yesterday. So he picked these thistles without gloves and carried them home on his bike.

thistles

He made a loaf of bread and we grilled corn and ate s'mores. The neighbor kids swarmed like flies and nearly cleaned us out of s'mores supplies.

grilled corn

Ian gave me a lovely ceramic shortbread mold. I've wanted one for years but I don't often buy luxuries like that for myself. Instead, I made practical rectangular shortbread cookies with a heavy heart. But now my wedge-shaped shortbread dreams have come true!

ceramic shortbread mold

After dinner we settled in to watch Life is Beautiful. It's one of my favorite movies and one I've been trying to get Ian to watch for years. It's a movie I think everyone should watch, a recommendation I don't make lightly.

Then we made bananas brulee because one dessert just wasn't enough. Ian came up with this idea one night when he was looking for ways to use his new kitchen torch. Slice bananas, top with sugar, torch, eat immediately.

bananas brulee

Everything about the day was perfect, even though we had to babysit kids wielding flaming sticks. At least we managed to save some of the dark chocolate...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's a birthday miracle!

If anyone is interested, fabric.com has five Neptune prints on sale for $5.87 right now. I bought at least a yard of each and now I'm passing the news on to you. And if you spend over $35, shipping is free which makes it an even better deal!

Also, another birthday miracle...all these wonderful wishes from friends, both online and in real life. Thank you everyone! I feel very special right now.

Oh, and this is my birthday card from Ian:

birthday card

Very nice!

July Giveaway Month: Week 1

July is, in my opinion, the best month of the year. It's finally warm enough to swim in our beloved Minnesota lakes. It's the month when Martha Stewart makes desserts out of strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. It's the month when I forget I dislike blueberries because they look so good in Martha's recipes. It's a good month for watching fireworks and picnicking and it's also my birthday month. And, today is my birthday! 28 is going to be a fun year, I think.

So, since July is such a good month for me and since I want it to be a good month for everyone, I'm declaring July "giveaway month" here on my blog!

Each Wednesday in July (starting today!) I'll offer up something new to give away. That's five weeks of giveaways! And everything's already finished so there won't be any delay in receiving your gifts.

This week, two lucky winners will receive a set of six fabric coasters made up in my favorite fabrics. I thought it would be a nice way to start things off because July is also an excellent month for sipping lemonade outside. And for that, you'll need coasters, right?

fabric coasters

In addition to a set of coasters, both winners will receive a super huge (33" x 38") white cotton tea towel for you to use as you please. I like to use these as tablecloths for small-ish outdoor tables (where I assume you'll be drinking your drinks and using your coasters).

orange/pink fabric coasters

To enter, comment on this post and, if you feel like it, tell me about your favorite summer beverage (I'm partial to mojitos).

green/blue fabric coasters

I'll announce two winners (chosen at random) next Wednesday morning which means you'll need to comment by Tuesday night (July 7). You can even enter if you live outside the US. Then, later each Wednesday, I'll set up the next giveaway.

See? Isn't July fun?