The Red Barn

Most of you probably know by now that earlier this year I started a new imprint (or line of books) for the publisher I work for.  It’s called Stash Books.  I had a vision of what it could be from the instant I accepted the position of Acquisitions Editor there two years ago and somehow managed to cajole the whole company into taking a chance that my vision could pay off.  Luckily it has!  One of the aspects of my job that I most enjoy is getting to work with a team who not only ‘gets’ that vision, but through their input and ideas, they help make it better.

Even though I acquire over 50 titles per year, it is the dozen or so titles on the Stash Books list that I get exceptionally passionate about.  And the rest of the staff at my work seem to humour me in this regard!  So, I get to collaborate with our photo studio, developmental editor and designer regarding the feel of each book and the vision of the execution that I have for each title I acquire for this list.  Because, 99% of the time (and anyone who knows me personally can confirm this), I have pretty strong opinions.  That could be an understatement.   But why quibble?

This week was the first time I have been on a photo shoot for one of our books.  I was pretty clear about what I wanted it to be.  I did most of the styling for Little Birds, but that was all in the photo studio. I have never helped with the styling at an off site shoot before.  Man, was it exhausting.  I mean really exausting.  Even though I move furniture around all day when I work at the store, and organize truckloads of items into our pick-up at garage sales every week, this work was physical and mentally just flat out tiring. But we did get to stay here

Anyhoo, I thought you might want to see some of the before, mid and after shots of the main room of the house we used for the shoot.




But we did put it all back again and the photographs taken by our amazing photo studio are really fantastic!  It was a wonderful collaboration of some talented folks and exciting to see what I had envisioned this book to be, come to life before my eyes…despite what we ignored in the background (i.e. the piles of boxes, the random bits of furniture stashed all over the house…at one point I think we had all of the dining chairs in the bathroom!).

For some reason, I was obsessed with being able to photograph the steam coming out of a cup of coffee and it took us all of this mess to get that one cup of coffee and scone sitting on that plate in the middle of that range.

I wish I could tell you more about the amazing projects, but alas…you will all have to buy the book.

In the meantime, I still have to show you the quilt I made for my sister’s 40th birthday out of the Cath Kidston fabrics I bought in London and some lovely muted Fig Tree fabrics, the bag I made from Lantern Bloom, the tunic I designed, the bathrobes I made for the boys…maybe Monday!  Have a great weekend all!

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Any way you slice it

So, after many, many, many bobbins of thread, some TAP technique for the paintings within the painting, some slashing of the fabric, fusing and then masses of stitching to create the illusion of paint brush strokes, I finally finished my slice and we put them all together.  Mine is the one kind of in the middle with the bright blue walls and the scrunched pillows to look like the bed had been slept in, and the confetti floor.  C&T is donating this to NAMTA to be raffled off.  I’ll post the details when the quilt is back from the quilter.

Here are some other photos with close-ups of my slice:

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Style Stitches Cosmo bag!

I suppose it is a bit off to showcase the bag I made on Sunday after the post I put up on Sunday morning, but I think I needed a project that was a little more familiar.  That…and, I sewed this up during naptime.  So no mommy guilt.  Except for the playroom still strewn with every toy they have.  I ignored that.

But lookie what I made with my coveted Sherbet Pips by the lovely Aneela:

I raw edge appliqued on my nieces initials.  I found the perfect giant sleepover bag out of Style Stitches from Amy Butler to accompany the PJs I made for her 10th birthday next week.  I actually think I like the back of the bag more than the front…

The pattern was complicated (sheeish, 6 pages of instruction for one bag)…but worth it.  The directions were very well written and I would definitely make this bag again.  I hesitated to make something from this book because I found the book design completely over-worked and really do kind of object that she only ever uses her own fabrics in the bag samples.  It’s a lot to look at.  But that’s just me.  At the end of the day, I love the bag.  If you fancy making your own, consider joining in this fun Sew-Along.  Cosmo ended up being really fun to make and in my world full of boy, it was wonderful to make something so very, very pink!

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Keeping up with the Jones’

In one of those crazy seconds of life where I deluded myself into thinking that I could jam one more thing into it, I volunteered to be a part of a slice quilt with some of the gals at work.  This is my slice:

So I began a couple of weeks ago.  During these weeks, I gradually sketched out the major lines, I thought about what techniques I wanted to try, I picked out the fabrics from my stash (often the hardest part for me), I backed all of the fabrics with fusible web…you know, made progress.

(Ignore my breakfast curmpet!).  Then the rest of the gals started to bring in their work and this week most of them were just about done…and I was here:

EEEK.  So, yesterday I knew I had to get my butt in gear!  I went out to garage sales in the early morning.  Now this may sound fun (and it usually is) but it isn’t really a choice, if you see what I mean.  We buy a lot of inventory for our store so even though I am always drawn to the kids clothes, or to the toys, or interesting little things…I have to force myself to go for the furniture first because I am there to work, after all.

So, once I spent the morning doing that, I played with the kids for a bit and then hunkered down.  All.  Day.  As the kids played around me, I only stopped sewing, fusing, and cutting for potty breaks, mediation breaks, and to make lunch/dinner.  And here is the result:

Now, don’t get me wrong, I just love it.  It is completely out of my comfort zone with a variety of techniques that do not include piecing.  But it was the time…

Maybe it would have come together more easily if I were more familiar with creating something like this, but I always balance the result against the cost.  This cost me the entire day with my kids.  I follow hundreds of blogs written by some amazingly talented and prolific designers who create beautiful work on a really consistent basis.  And I just do not know how they do it!

Sometimes, I come home at the end of a week so inspired by all that I saw through all of the different media I track and I feel kind of lousy that I don’t contribute more to this fabulous creative marketplace.  I did that this week.  But for me…I am just not willing to pay that price.  Rather, I am not willing to make my family pay that price.

So I am remembering the mantra I came up with for this year as encouraged by Betz White.  My 2011 mantra is: Release.

I’ll not make this commitment again as my life just doesn’t work like that. It can, to be sure, it can.  But right now my 3 year old is standing next to this desk asking me to play Thomas with him.  I get to choose between being Molly or Bertie the Bus.  Sheeish…now that’s a commitment I want to make!

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Weekend actual, real, no kidding accomplishments

I finally had time to sew this weekend and am going to have to change my ‘About Me‘ to indicate the second time that I sewed a garment aside from my wedding dress.   I made these PJs for my niece’s upcoming 11th birthday early next month.  I love the Parisville by Tula Pink and bought it in the blue (mist) colorway so I can make some for me too.  I am going to make up a overnight bag to put them in (good intentions anyhow) as this girl is all about her slumber parties!

I also completely scored at garage sales this weekend.  Mostly for the store, but also a lovely little find: some vintage books.  I just can’t resist those lovely pliable leather bindings.

And…I couldn’t tell you about the garage sale find of the century before Christmas, but not three weeks before I was struggling with what to give my husband.  Then, I came across this little beauty:

It’s a Sony N50 and I just cannot say what I paid for it but…not much, I’ll tell  you that.  I was secretly hoping to steal it to use for my own blog photos so I can get some better quality photos on here.  Funnily enough, I can’t seem to get the darn thing out of his hands!

And, I cooked.  And made some Valentine’s pinwheels while the kids made some Valentine’s Day cards for friends and family.  We finally got the bookcase up and while I was trying to purge the cookbook stash to fit on the shelf (didn’t quite work, but most of them are there), I came across this recipe for amazing mushroom and roquefort stuffed homemade crepes with a béchamel sauce for tonight…yumm.  It’s from Nigel Slater’s Real Food.  Don’t you love snooping at other people’s bookshelves….or is that just me?

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

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New Year’s Project

Finally able to breathe again after the worst flu/cold ever.  So as a treat, I spent yesterday designing a quilt and cutting out most of the pieces.  Yippee!  And this quilt is going to be totally, 100%, completely MINE!  Woot.  Never made a quilt for myself before and am so in love with Sherbet Pips that I knew I needed to make a quilt just for me.  They are the perfect focus fabric to use with my long-searched-for collection of greys.  I feel like completely ignoring the boys today and hunkering down with some actual sewing.  We’ll see.  The day is young.  Big shout out to Lissa at Moda who sent me the whole collection of Aneela’s line for me to play with.  Best gift ever.

Also, wanted to share my most favourite handmade gifts that I made for the boys from this tutorial.  As soon as I saw it online, I was in Joann’s at lunch buying the wool felt.  I modified the instructions a bit to make them three dimensional (as opposed to two dimensional as the instructions indicate) and I increased the pattern size by 200%.  I was also super happy to find some glitter imbedded felt at the store that was perfect for the lightning bolt.  I also added the strap…how could I have resisted that zebra strapping?

Because I modified the pattern, I lined the necks of the guitars with Heavyweight Fast-to-Fuse and then inserted two oversized pipe cleaners on each side of it to help the neck remain rigid.   Seeing the kids rock out with them is absolutely priceless!  Now I need to make one for me and DH!

Off for our weekly breakfast of pancakes at ‘Chez Daddy’.  Yumm.  Happy Sunday.

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Ugh.  Well..I still have some backsplash tile to add, toe-kicks to add, some trim to put up around the window and the door, DH needs to hook up the extractor fan and I/we are going to replace three of the doors on the wall cabinet with glass (just a little bit too much beadboard) but mostly done.  Kinda.

At least you don’t think I’ve been slacking off and not blogging just because I am sitting on the sofa watching Gossip Girl or something.  Which I haven’t.  I promise!


You can’t really see it, but we closed off a doorway to the right of the ancient stove that we free-cycled!

Almost after:

Yes, I really did screw the holes into the wrong side of the front panel on that drawer front.  Yes, a replacement is on order.  I am a dope.

These are the wall cabinets we are replacing with glass fronts!  yippee!

This is the gas cooktop that I scored on craigslist for $150!  Woot!!  Need to install that extractor fan next!

Hope to be completely done by the end of the year…maybe sooner.  Then I can show you all the fun things I made for Christmas!

Hope you are all enjoying your holiday season!



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Recent Obsession

So, I have this obsession…

I am collecting a collection of doll books. I think most of you must know my recent obsession with Wee Wonderfuls, but that book has ignited a search for the perfect doll to make as a Christmas gift for the bunches of little girls in my life. I am going to draw from all of this inspiration and come up with the perfect combination this weekend. I feel confident that I can pull myself away from this…

Now that this….

And this…

were completed last weekend.
I should get some time to sew…right? Right?

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‘Q’ is for The Quilt Show

Wow!  What a few weeks it has been.  I went off to do a speaking engagement at The Creative Connection Event in Minneapolis so I’ve been trying to catch up with everything.  I missed garage sales last week, so yesterday really fed my addiction!  Aside from the truck packed to the top full of goodies for the store,I snagged this set for only…$5!  Yippee!

I really want to try some fabric stamping with them.  I suppose it is equally possible that I will just sit here and stare at them though!

And I love that these seem to be in the original tray.

And that the stamp on the top is S.B. & Co.  My husband’s name starts with a ‘B’!

Also, my appearance on The Quilt Show has released and you can watch the episode free through October 1.

Camille Roskelley did the bulk of the segment, and I just tacked on a little bit about Stash Books to the end.  Funny behind the scenes photos here too.

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Our New Kitchen

After months of playing with the design and adjusting and tweaking and selecting and budgeting, reading reviews and deciding on a look, we finally went with an IKEA kitchen with a cottage type of door style.  Surprisingly, IKEA has some great reviews on their kitchen and since a 30K investment is not in our future to go HGTV-worthy, and a move may be in our future, we decided on this:

We have a big eating area over to the left, but haven’t decided if we will install two built-in desks/kitchen bench in the middle or whether we will need more storage so are going to wait and see how all of our ‘essentials’ fit into this storage.

So, we entered the seventh layer of hell that IKEA is on a Labor Day weekend with two kids and three hours later walked out with a receipt and a delivery confirmation for Thursday (yesterday).  Special Treat: we went to Thomas land at Six Flags to compensate:

That other kid on the right is overwhelmed by the squeals of delight coming from my two as Thomas pulls into Knapford Station.  It was a small price to pay, because yesterday I came home to this:

I see a lot of assembly in my future, but man, oh man am I looking forward to taking a sledgehammer to our kitchen now!  Woot!

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