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Books I Read In January:

I loooove to read. It’s my favorite thing to do before bed! I’ll admit right off the bat that I am *not* a discriminating reader. I just want entertainment and a little escape. I don’t read serious books, mostly because life is too serious already!

Here are some books I read in January:

  • Faceless Killers: A Mystery. I super loved this one, I absolutely love the Wallander series on PBS and reading the books is nice because they are subtly different than the show. I think I read the other two after this one but I don’t think I noted it on goodreads. I’ll figure this out and report back. Either way, it’s a great dark series.
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer & The Evolution of Mara Dyer. This is a pretty decent YA series. Entertaining and I know I’ll read the next in the series but I sort of felt like it got a little repetitive towards the end.
  • Crescendo. Meh. I sort of think I’m over this series but I’m weird and feel like I HAVE to finish a series unless it’s absolutely dreadful.
  • Firelight. This is one kindle had on sale for $2.99 and I got it on a whim. I really liked it, I spent the majority of the book wondering what on earth was the genre of the book! Mystery? Romance? Historical? Paranormal? I don’t know but I enjoyed the heck out of it! I looked forward to reading before bed.
  • Moonglow. The second in the Darkest London series…I couldn’t get into it. I liked Firelight much more!
  • Ever After. OH YES. My favorite book of the month. Love love love! I feel like Rachel totally grows as a character in this book and it has a LOT of Trent! woo woo!!! By the last chapter I was both SO EXCITED, SLIGHTLY SAD but also OMG RACHEL YOU ARE SO MATURE! I sort of want to re-read the series from the beginning now!

What did you read in January?!

 

 

Candy Cane Socks: Done!

I finished my Candy Cane Socks on Saturday!

I’m super pleased with how they came out, the yarn is so soft and they fit great.

I used this tutorial for a picot bind off and it was super easy but…I’m pretty sure I should have done a hemmed picot. I’m afraid in the future the tops might roll down a little bit. I might weave some elastic in later on, so far I’ve worn them with no problems!

I’m in love with how peppermint bark knit up, it’s the prettiest yarn! I love how Cakewalk feels after blocking, it gets super smooth and drape-y, very soft! Also, I love watching the speckles form as I’d knit.

I started a new pair of socks this week, these are just plain socks with a slip stitch heel. I tried Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off for the first time & I really like it! Normally for socks I do a sewn bind off but it leaves the top of the sock kind of wrinkly looking, which isn’t a big deal but I like how smooth this looks! I’m not 100% sure I did it right but I like the results!

I’m using a yarn I bought last spring called Cozy Toes by LushMommy, it’s very pretty! It’s interesting to see how different hand painted yarn knits up, the second sock looks nothing like the first one!

I really want to knit more “plain” socks this winter, I have two pairs right now that I wear all the time, Harry Potter & Mansfield’s Garden Party.

I also decided to treat myself to a pair of  size 1 Signature Needle Arts circulars for Christmas. The candy cane socks are the 14th (!!) pair of socks I knit since last December so I thought I deserved a really primo pair of needles. They haven’t shipped yet but I’m crossing my fingers that they are amazing. I got them monogrammed with Mrs. McPorkchop, because seriously, monogrammed knitting needles?! Get out of town. Adorable.

If you are looking for a good book series, I’ve been *loving* this one, I’ve come down with a hardcore cold or the beginnings of the flu, yesterday I laid on the couch & devoured the first two books and I think I’m 45% through the 3rd?! Very good & creepy.

:):):)

Kawaii Winter Sampler Progress

I’ve been slowly but steadily working on my Kawaii Winter Sampler. I ran out of the gray floss and then I started working on the frames of Woodland Sampler. But I’m hoping to finish this up by January 1st. I’m crossing my fingers I can frame it super cutely myself! I bought some glitter spray that is supposed to be archival and fabric safe, I’d love to give it a good glittering!

It’s been crazy awesome to watch people work on their winter samplers the past month on Instagram, everyone is doing an awesome job on it! Quite a few people have finished (amazing!) and they are starting on second ones to give as gifts next winter (omg!).

Just when I think Winter Sampler is the cutest thing ever, I see the charts and finished stitches of Woodland Sampler and I kind of die. Cross stitching = perfect winter craft! One thing I can’t do is cross stitch in the car. I can knit, I can read but cross stitching..oi. Not good. I either count incorrectly or feel sick to my stomach. It’s only an “at home on the couch” kind of craft for me! Which is a-ok with me, any excuse to sit on the couch and be cozy is perfect! ;)

Aurifil Designer of the Month Wrap Up!

I can’t believe this month wraps up the 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month project!

Here is December’s Block from Lizzie B Cre8tive!

Here is November’s Block from Erin Cier!

Here is my contribution, October! Eep!

The designers did a blog hop with Christmas ornaments, unfortunately I couldn’t take part in due to personal reasons but the designs are SO cute!!!

Thank you so much Pat & Alex for inviting me to take part in this project with the other talented folks! I can’t wait to see the finished quilt :):)

September Aurifil Block of the Month

September’s Aurifil Designer of the Month is Amy Ellis!

I love these leaves, super cute right?!

Don’t forget if you stitch this block up and put it in the flickr group you can win Aurifil thread! :):)

June Aurifil Designer of the Month

Oh boy. This month’s Aurifil Designer of the Month is one of my favorite people EVER. PKM! PamKittyMorning!!!

Here’s what PKM & I have in common:
We love gobblers (the sandwich)
We love stitching!
We love kawaii
We love car trips
We love Haven

I have a truly LOVELY photo of PKM & I from last summer that I’m debating posting but I’m pretty sure she’ll murder me if I do. It might be snuck in this post later today ;)

Anyways, she is a gem. And she doesn’t live TOO far away from me. AND! She designs super super super pretty fabric!

Hope on over to Auriful’s blog to learn more about my friend PKM and stitch up her block (uhh how cute is it that she found matching clips?!) and post the block to Aurifil’s flickr group & you can win thread! Score!

May Aurifil Block of the Month

Ack! This month’s auriful block of the month is soooo cute!

It’s designed by Anna of Thimbleanna, her blog is super super super cute!

Don’t forget to post your finished block in the flickr pool, because you can win thread!

And…Pat has a new book out! Swing by her blog and check it out! GO PAT!!!! <3

Aurifil 2012: March!

Oh yes! It’s March which means it’s a new month in the quilt-a-long!

I have to say, I really love how unique each designer is in this group. I love reading about each one, how they work & what inspired their blocks. One thing I’ve noticed is everyone (so far!) learned to stitch when they were young! I only learned handwork 5-6 years ago! I wish I had the years of skills these ladies have! Look how perfect that chain stitch is (I’m pretty sure it’s called chain stitch?!)

My favorite part is looking at other people’s work spaces. Look at Victoria’s! It’s incredible. Look at all those windows! eep!

Don’t forget that if you stitch along and enter into the flickr pool you can win $100 of aurifil threads! yahoo!!!

And! Victoria runs a charity quilt group, which I’m keeping bookmarked. I donated my first 5 quilts to various charities & I’m always on the look out for more to give things too!

March is already amazingly crazy fun! The Pumpkin’s are hard at work and we’ve released a new pattern on facebook only! It’s a cute March themed one, swing by and check it out!

I have 3 WIPs this month, I’ll blog about them later this week! And I might review a pattern I’ve recently made. I’m not sure if I’m qualified to review a pattern but it might be fun to share some of my thoughts with you!

I had plans of running errands this morning, I woke up seeing sunshine & I thought…ICED COFFEE. Then I stepped outside, 30 mph winds and it’s 42 degrees. Haha! I think I’ll be working at home & drinking something warm. Spring fever is playing tricks with me! ;)

Making Marmalade

Marmalade is one of my favorite jams. It’s the best way to use up some big oranges and a fun morning in the kitchen.

I think marmalade is pretty beginner friendly, there is no added pectin. It’s a lot of hands off time, letting the fruit cook down and caramelize slightly in the pan. I like making it because the yield is pretty high, it’s super bright & summer-y in the jar and I can do other things while it’s softly boiling- like laundry or emails.

Recipe:
as adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (if you are thinking about canning, get this book! no seriously! right away!)

Yield: 8 half pints

2 1/4 lbs oranges, unpeeled but scrubbed clean.
grated zest and juice of a lemon
6 cups of water
9 cups bakers sugar (This is just extra fine sugar, I find it dissolves better in jam)
1/2 cup honey

optional:
vanilla bean paste and vanilla vodka for an orange creamsicle marmalade
2 habanero chili peppers and a dash of red pepper flakes for a spicy marmalade

Wash your jars in hot soapy water, then place them in a water canner with at least an inch and a half of water covering the jars. Do not use them straight out of the package. Set the canner on the stove to boil, set the lids and rings in a small sauce pan on the stove in simmering warm water. Don’t boil the rings and lids. I always sterilize a few extra jars, just in case!

Put 4-5 metal spoons in your freezer.

Using either a very sharp knife or a mandolin slice your oranges with the peel on very thin (1/8th to a 1/4 inch thickness) and remove the seeds.

Zest your lemon.

Combine lemon zest, oranges, juice of the lemon and the water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower it to a gentle boil. This means the bubbles are there but it’s not a crazy rolling boil. Once it starts to gently boil, set a timer for 40 minutes. During this time I like to stir occasionally, check my email, do laundry, etc. But keep in mind that you are COOKING. Don’t abandon your oranges completely or they’ll scorch, especially if you are using a thin metal pot.

During the gentle boil your fruit will start to turn a light yellowish orange and fall apart. This is good!

After 40 minutes, feel free to spice things up by adding some habanero chili peppers or dried red pepper flakes.

Set a timer for another 30 minutes and partially cover. You’ll keep boiling gently but really keep an eye on it. The fruit is starting to break down a lot now, the peels will start to break. I like to press them against the pan every so often, if they fall apart easily, I know I’m getting close to done. Plus I prefer smaller peel bits in my marmalade.

I know, 40 minutes and another 30 minutes of cooking. You are feeling like this is a long time right? Nope! It’s what gives marmalade it’s deep taste and characteristic darker bright orange color.

After your 30 minute timer goes off, it’s GO TIME. If you’ve added peppers, remove them now.

Add 9 cups of sugar, a little at a time, mixing well. I pre-measure out the 9 cups so I’m not digging around in the sugar bin. Keep the jam boiling and set a timer for 15 minutes, this is what causes the marmalade to thicken- the super rolling boil and the sugar. Towards the end I add the honey. During the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, grab the cold spoons from the freezer and dip them in the marmalade. This is called doing a sheet test. You want the marmalade to come off the spoon in a sheet, not single drops. Drops mean the marmalade is still too liquid-y and needs to keep cooking.

At this point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, the mixture is at a rolling boil, your stirring often so it doesn’t burn, it’s foaming, but don’t worry. It really does take 15 minutes to gel, sometimes longer. I was at 19 minutes before I got a nice sheet off my spoon. I also keep a thermometer in the pot, 220 degrees is generally when it thickens, but if you are at high or low altitude this temperature will be different. Let the fruit cook, it will foam and that’s ok! If you get overwhelmed and are concerned about burning it, keep in mind that there is NOTHING wrong with marmalade that is slightly runny. It makes excellent marinade for chicken, fish, duck, pork…really anything. Plus of course on top of ice cream and in oatmeal.

Once your fruit has reached gel point, take it off the stove and start filling jars!

If you want to make a creamsicle jam- stir in 2 TBL vanilla bean paste and 2 TBL vanilla vodka to the marmalade. It’s pretty swoon worthy!

You’ll need 1/4 inch headspace, make sure you remove any air bubbles from the jars and wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel. Put the lid and band on the jar, place the jar back in the canner. Once the water starts boiling again, set a timer for 10 minutes to process. Once the timer is done, lift the lid and let the jars set for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool undisturbed. If you have any jars that haven’t sealed, either reprocess or put in the fridge to use within a month.

That’s it! Not too bad right? You can find the original recipe here but buy the book! It’s so good and my copy is well loved and used.

so now you HAVE to make marmalade. And give it to friends! or be a meanie like me & hoard it ;)

{*~Swoon!~*}

 

SWOON!!!!!

In case you missed the memo, I’m obsessed with Halloween. OBSESSED. It’s my most favorite holiday ever. Chop & I got married the day before. I love all the decorations, the cuteness, the spookiness, the macabre. Black & Orange. Burgundy and Brown. It’s just an amazing day. Actually, the entire month of October is super fun. I think instead of being an August baby, I was actually an October baby. I adore pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes (best!), baking, leaves, cool evenings but warm days, remembering trips to VT with my grandparents to be a “leaf peeper”!

When I first saw Swoon in some Quilt Market tweets, I knew I had to make it. It just had to happen. In all honesty, I’m not a “full size” quilt maker. I don’t feel the need to make dozens of bed quilts or throws, I’m very much a mini quilt maker. I like little every day patchwork or very long term big quilt projects like Farmer’s Wife. But this pattern was so so so so great, very traditional but very fresh at the same time.

I’ve been hoarding a fq bundle of Riley Blake’s Boo to You for a year. I’m not really a fabric hoarder, it’s not really my nature. It’s funny, people hoard Heather Ross, Denyse Schmidt, Erin Michaels…me? Halloween fabric. Yup. Kind of dorky!

When I saw Riley Blake came out with Trick or Treat, I knew I had to just GIT R DONE (yup. I went there! ;)) So Chop got me some for my birthday and the rest is history! There were a few agonizing moments, like when I realized an online fabric shop shorted me on my background fabric (Kona Ash for the blocks!)! Tracey (hi friend!) saved my butt by letting me borrow some Moda Gray and I REALLY like that it’s two neutrals.

Right now the quilt is at Butte County Fairgrounds for the fair at the end of the month. One of my hugest pet peeves is when bloggers say they go to quilt shows and don’t see anything “modern” or “fresh” or “young”, well duh! We have to get off our quilter butts & ENTER these things! So then other folks will enter and it’ll start a good circle of inspiration! ;)

I’ve never been a “competitive quilter”, last fall I entered a mug rug into a Halloween contest and lost..haha. One night on twitter Shari suggested I enter it into the Riley Blake Contest and I decided, what the heck! First the fair, then this contest!

But the total best part? I have a giant freaking HALLOWEEN QUILT FOR MY BED!!!! I can’t WAIT to get it back at the end of the month, wash it, crinkle it and sleep under it. It’s totally my pride and joy and my special little heirloom quilt! I just need to pick matching fabric for some new pillowcases…hmmm. And bunting. And maybe a mini quilt from my scraps.

I’m spending the week getting caught up on my Farmer’s Wife blocks, preparing for my canning class on Saturday and trying to recover from being sick. I attempted to go to the gym this weekend and lasted 15 minutes (instead of 45 :/) on the treadmill. I’m going to yoga this morning and hopefully I won’t die.

OH! AND! Guess what guys? I am making a SKIRT. And it FITS! I had to run out and get a zipper last night, I should finish it this week. I’ve never invisible zippered before! This is a total learning experience but my crazy hard work at the gym has paid off. A pattern I would have had to alter to fit I was able to sew straight out of the package with no adjustments. o m g!

okok. I’ll let you guys know when voting starts!!!! I’m going to be chatting more about the pattern and my wonderful quilter in the upcoming weeks too! AND!!! Angela finished her Swoon too and wowzers, it’s a beauty!!!!

see you soon!

xo

 

ps: Thanks Chop for helping me find the best spot in downtown Gridley for our quilt shoot. You have the patience of a saint. ;) <3