I’ve been feeling a bit crafty lately and was looking for a small project that would be a fun gift for friends. After a bit of Pinteresting (that’s a verb right?)  I found the perfect piece. Us women folk are always needing to bring a dish somewhere – a dish with food. There’s always a potluck or a picnic or just a group of people who will surely die if there isn’t 7-layer dip around. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to try to transport the dish, especially if it is on the warm side.

Here is the solution – a fancy casserole dish carrier. (That fits your standard pyrex dish or smaller – but who ever brought something small???)

I can’t take credit for the idea, I found it here on Little Bit Funky (if you want to make one yourself) but I can take credit for the hours of sewing while binging on Gilmore Girls. My friend Taunya tipped me off on a quilt fabric shop in Ho Chi Minh City where I found the perfect pair of prints (very Cath Kitdson style) to start this endeavor.  After I had finished them I realized there was a very very good chance the ladies who were gifted these would end up going to the same bring-a-plate soirees so I took it one step further and put name labels to make sure they would make it home safely. Now how many of y’all want one?

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Look at all the things you can put in there!

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I might’ve made one for myself

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The stack of finished beauty!

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Prepare yourself for a long post with a lot of pictures.

A while back we decided to set up a home somewhere, and of course somewhere neither where we live nor where we are from. After a holiday in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England, we fell in love with the place. Fast forward to the last three weeks and I was in Cowes setting up our new place!

We found a flat located right on the water within walking distance to the ferry and a stones throw to all of the sailing fun. Its easy to walk to lots of fun restaurants and shops that I can buy all sorts of nautical stuffs. The lady that owned it before had made some good updates to the flat so all I had to do was add my our style and paint a few coats over some blue and yellow paint (7 coats to be exact) and call it good! Thankfully my mom was enlisted to hop across the pond to help as well.

We decorated with an eclectic mix of Amazon, charity shops, Ikea and craft projects. I do have to disclaim that the curtains WILL BE REPLACED. So here we go with the before/ after pics!

cowes

The aptly named Osborne Court.

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After a bit of painting, crafting and decluttering this is bedroom 1 (the bottom is the after)

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More decluttering, technology upgrade (seriously), additional seating, rug, homemade pillows and a  vintage 1920 map of the island.

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Replaced the clutter, chair covers and runner.

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Major simplification going on here

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Massive painting overhaul and decor addition

Now it’s time to focus on the awesome charity shop finds. There are so many great items that people part with that are better for decorating than finding some generic print at Ikea. Here they are (and all at $15 or less):

I’m also pretty proud of these amazing oars my mom spotted. We couldn’t find a proper bracket to hang them which turned out to be a blessing as we did find an old leather belt that did the trick even better!

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Oars to the core

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Thank you anonymous Mr Man for the belt your wife most likely donated

There was also a series of craftiness that went on (come on, like you didn’t expect this).

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This mirror started out with horrible purple/ blue shimmer tiles. A package of rope and a glue gun turned it into a nautical dream.

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The mirror was hung over the beds with care

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Practicing my knots

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More leftover rope and inexpensive ikea frames

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I had leftover rope and this fab tea towel – so it turned into a perfect apron

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A little free hand lettering and my trusty Bernina helped me make this beauty

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This was an oldie that I made last year that needed to be in this room!

It’s resolution time and we all know the drill that if you write them down it increases that you’ll actually do it. So here is my attempt at 2016.

  1. I have really enjoyed my 52 books challenge so that will continue
  2. I will make an attempt every day to wear lipstick. I know, this sounds like quite a big task to complete but “my Texans” have made an impact and I don’t want to disappoint them.
  3. Quilting. With my increased free time in Vietnam I decided to do something with a little more purpose than hitting the gym every day. There is a great organization called Quilts of Valor. Their mission is to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor”. The patriotic quilts that are made are given to service members and veterans. Since it’s inception they have given 131,794 quilts. My goal is to make four quilts, one per quarter, and more if I can. After a bit of sewing and un-sewing and re-sewing I finished my first top. So here it is in all it’s glory. I can’t wait to get it quilted and give it away.

What are you goals this year?

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Ta-dah!

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The close-up

The Webs We Weave

Typical to my stateside trips I decided to make a quilt – although this time I only made one (as I’ve said before, it’s not an addiction, I can quilt anytime). This go around was a Halloween holiday quilt as a gift to a loved one. The pattern I used Spiders and Webs here on Moda Bake Shop. I made slight modifications to make the quilt larger. I used a great fabric line, Eerie by BasicGrey, which I got at Missouri Star Quilt Co. I like that it had vibrant Halloween colors but the prints were more modern and adult, lending itself to everyday usage if desired (and come on, don’t we all want to used quilts every day?).

I wanted to take great pics of this one however it was hard to find any halloween decor being displayed in August. Instead I made my mother hold it up in front of a corn field because corn fields have a certain creepiness factor.

Quilts of the Corn

Quilts of the Corn

Love this fabric line

Love this fabric line

Slightly different from the pattern but still a beaut

Slightly different from the pattern but still a beaut

Me Trying to Compete with First Day of School Pics

With all of the first days of school being documented on social media I thought I’d put out one of my firsts – my first quilt (riveting, I know).

Back in 1993 I was an 8th grader at Peter Kiewit Middle School. I was enrolled in a home-ec class called “Design Your Own” in which you, wait for it, design your own crafty project. Now if anyone recalls 1993 as well as I do you know it was the era of puffy paint, endless puffy paint. So all of the cool kids in class squeezed this shiny and sometimes sparkly and always gooey and slow drying paint on anything they could get their hands on – keds, tee shirts, boxer shorts (yes, remember when we used to wear boxer shorts as shorts???). Well I massively one upped everyone by making a quilt. Seriously. I was the 8th grader bringing bags of freshly cut fabric in which my mother meticulously labeled instructions each night on post-its for me and my teacher to follow – which we did. The only casualty was my thumb which was impaled straight through by a sewing machine needle and attached to my quilt for a short moment before being sent to the nurse. (This was also the second tetanus shot I’d received in a long line of tetanus risk activities I failed in such as jumping out of a tree house onto an upright nail.)

Anyway I only have 30 minutes of free wifi at O’Hare right now so I’ll bring this to a close. After finished the top my mother’s quit group hand quilted it for me and it was on my bed for a few years before I picked out a more teenage appropriate bedspread. It is now in my parents guest room if you’d ever like to see it. Enjoy the pics!

In all it's glory

In all it’s glory

Close up of the lovely fabrics I chose and the quilt groups fab hand stitching

Close up of the lovely fabrics I chose and the quilt groups fab hand stitching

Fancy schmancy bordering

Fancy schmancy bordering

Baking Heartbreak

Caramels with edible cellophane wrappers by Heston Blumenthal… EDIBLE CELLOPHANE WRAPPERS.  How could I not be excited to try this recipe?  Abby (Road’s) and I meticulously planned this two day baking expedition.  Petri dishes (proper lab grade) were ordered, glycerol was obtained and candy thermometers were in place.  Directions were followed to a “T” (which is not common in my kitchen).

We failed.

I am heartbroken.

The wrappers evaporated and the ones that didn’t stayed as gelatinous messes in their fancy petri dishes.

Every few days I do internet searches to see if anyone else has any tips on how to make these work.  I keep coming up empty.   Until then we hope Pinterest has some good ideas for repurposing petri dishes.

The supposed wrappers

The supposed wrappers

What they're supposed to look like

What they’re supposed to look like

What I really think of everyone’s pumpkin patch pics

Each year the signs of Autumn come barrelling in – it usually starts with Pinterest boards of home fall decorations and crafts, boot wish-lists and sweater/ scarf combinations with distressed leather bags, then the Facebook posts of first sightings of pumpkin spiced flavoured everything and finally the barrage of pics at the pumpkin patch.  Adorable kids and families all impeccably dressed in coordinating fall tones prescribed by Pantone – like radiant orchad, cypress, cognac, aurora red and mauve mist, pyramids of pumpkins being climbed on and mugs of warm cider.

This would all be fine and dandy if I weren’t watching from afar, and by afar I mean from a completely different season.  In Perth were in the midst of Spring (a beautiful Spring mind you, temps in the mid 70s, many lovely lunches at the beach and allergies going completely haywire).  To combat the effects of America’s most loved time of year I went to a patch as well – but the strawberry patch.  See while y’all are trying to lug giant pumpkins around, carving them up and saying you’ll roast the pumpkin seeds later (which come on, we all know that’s not going to happen) it is prime strawberry season here.  My friend Tori and I (with kids en towe) drove to a pick your own strawberry farm.  (side note: what a great idea, labor costs here in WA are insane and here they have insane carloads of people paying to pick them ourselves, it’s the Field of Dreams of strawberries!).

For only $10 you get a giant cardboard tray and pick until you can’t pick anymore (or carry anymore – those things get heavy!). I didn’t quite realize the quantity of the literal fruits of my labor until I started working through them.  After lots of washing and cutting I ended up with 5 containers of freezer jam, two strawberry pies, a Tupperware That’s a Bowl size of berries for snacking, and multiple bags of frozen berries for future use.  All in it was well over 20 cups of hulled strawberries.

Just as I was getting over the absence of Autumn a packaged arrived from my mom and my Kristin which included tasty fall oriented US treats.  So I sat down and enjoyed a nice piece of strawberry pie alongside s’mores flavored candy corn (and candy corn flavored M&Ms and candy corn flavored candy corn).

This is a strawberry pie

This is a strawberry pie

The literal fruits of my labor

The literal fruits of my labor

We forgot to get a picture of Tori and I so I did my selfie best

We forgot to get a picture of Tori and I so I did my selfie best

Goodies from 'Merica

Goodies from ‘Merica

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Did I mention I got stinging neddle?

Did I mention I got stinging neddle?

Tori and the boys

Tori and the boys

My helpers - although they had a hard time staying upright

My helpers – although they had a hard time staying upright