Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Josh's Pebbles & Echoes in a Basket Block

This is Josh, it's Tuesday, so that means it's time for my turn at this week's block: Pebbles and Echoes in our basket block series.

And here's how it came out:

How are you doing with these basket blocks? I know I really enjoy this set and can't wait to see it all come together. I'd love to hear your experience with the basket blocks so please comment below!

On another note, we are day 2 on our carpet removal and floor installation project upstairs. We're ripping out the monstrosity of a 1970s red carpet in the living room, dining area, and hallway. As you can see below, the carpet and foam layer are history, but we still have a lot of work to do.

You can see I'm a lot happier than I was during our last home improvement project. After a disastrous experience with an incompetent slob who truly put the "con" in contractor, it's nice to be 100% in control of a project. Stuff like this isn't any fun, especially what we're doing today with scraping up the old vinyl flooring that's coated with a millimeter of scum and grease, but the finished result will be well worth it.

See you next week!


Monday, September 22, 2014

45. Quilt a Basket Block with Pebbles and Echoes

It's time to free motion quilt our very last basket block, this time with Pebbles in the basket and rings of Echoes throughout the background:

When quilting this basket block, I broke it up into three sections: the triangle basket, the background, then the handle. Filling the triangle basket with Pebbling will probably be the most time consuming part of this design. I didn't mark this part of the design because it was easy enough to free hand quilt and fill the pebbles organically through the space.

I did mark the background and basket handle circles because these designs needed to finish exactly as they were drawn on the pattern. I definitely didn't want the background echoes to end up super wobbly as that would have been really noticeable around the basket shape.

The trickiest part of the design will be the basket handle. Make sure to watch the video below to get tips on free motion quilting through this section slowly and carefully for the best results.

With this last basket knocked out, we now have a complete set!

Working on these blocks, we've learned how to quilt echoing, stippling, stacked circles, straight lines, matrix (wiggly grid), wiggly lines, and pebbling. I love these baskets so much I placed them in the four corners of my Building Blocks Quilt:

Yes, you can still join in this fun skill building project! Just pick up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern and start piecing and quilting block by block.

Josh will be giving this block a try tomorrow too so don't forget to swing by and check out his take on free motion quilting pebbles and echoes in a basket block!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cooking and Baking Up a Storm

My favorite part of every day is around 5:30 when Josh and I stop everything and cook dinner together. We've maintained this schedule for more than a year and now no matter what is going on, we stop, turn everything off and head to the kitchen to cook together.

Yesterday we made one of my favorite meals: Three cup chicken with seasoned rice. 
I've long since given up making rice because Josh has it down to a science. He gets the rice started and helps me prep the veggies (we add both broccoli and orange bell pepper to the recipe), then I stir fry the chicken in a matter of minutes.

The weather cooled off this weekend and we've opened all the doors and windows in our house so the cool breeze can blow through. The cooler weather has made me want to start baking again so this morning I broke the mold on my usual Sunday breakfast and made baking powder biscuits instead.

I found this recipe in The Everything Bread Cookbook, which is fabulous! I've successfully made several loaves of the basic white bread and these biscuits came out great. So far every recipe from this book is a winner!

This week we're going to finally rip out and replace this horrible red carpet in our dining room, living room, and hallway. When we first toured this house 8 years ago, I believe my very first comment was "I love the house, but that red carpet has to go." 

Well, eight years later we're finally doing it! I can't believe it's taken us this long to get around to it, but I'll be so happy to see this horrible carpet go.

Now I smell tomato, garlic, and basil which means Josh has gotten started on Sunday dinner which is always some version of spaghetti. Yum!

Let's go cook!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Sneak Peek on Butterfly

Yep, it's time to start thinking about what comes NEXT for our quilt along next year! We've had a wonderful year sharing videos for the Building Blocks Quilt, which still has many blocks and videos to come.

But my attention is definitely being occupied by the beautiful new quilt taking shape on my design wall:

This is the Dancing Butterfly Quilt and it will be our first project to work on together next year. Yes, I did say FIRST - this will not be the only project we make together next year! The gears are already turning in my head planning for a second and possibly third project, but I'll share more on those ideas later...

For this quilt, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and plan the quilt with multiple fabric and thread colors. The result is a BRIGHT, cheerful quilt with loads of texture and interesting designs.

All this week I've been basting blocks and shooting videos for the quilt pattern. This is a big relief because this time last year, I hadn't even started writing Building Blocks! Working at this pace, I should have all the videos shot by the end of September so Josh can edit them all through October.

Our goal is to release this new quilt pattern in December with all the videos included. This is a bit of a different structure from our past quilt along and will allow you to work at your own pace. I will be posting some videos for free, but these will be shorter versions of the pattern videos.

Why this change? Having the pattern come out, then videos post separately seems to be confusing to many quilters interested in joining in. We will again create a Facebook Group for questions and sharing, and I want everyone to feel open to work at their own pace and share as much as possible.

We have even more plans in the works for this pattern - kits, thread bundles, and maybe even laser cut butterfly packs to save you time cutting out the appliques. All that is still in the planning / organizing phase, so I don't have all the details worked out quite yet, but we're definitely going to have a lot of fun additions to the quilt pattern and many ways for you to join in with this project.

So that's the plan Stan! I hope you're as excited about this quilt as I am and ready to join us for the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along when it kicks off in January!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Craftsy Sale

Yay! We're heading into fall and Craftsy is celebrating with a big sale!


I'm delighted that the sale has my photo in it! That was taken on the last day of shooting Free Motion Quilting a Sampler, a 9 hour class that covers all the basics of machine quilting and how to quilt a beautiful set of 20 sampler blocks.

So what are you wanting to learn about this fall?

Craftsy has an amazing array of classes from quilting to photography to drawing to spinning. If you have been wanting to learn a new craft or a specific technique within a craft, chances are there is a Craftsy class available to learn it!

All of the classes are online and streaming, and yes, you need a high speed internet connect. The classes NEVER expire so you can watch the videos over and over as much as you like.

If you happen to have an iPad, the iPad app is terrific and allows you to download lessons so you can watch offline. I've found this particularly helpful when downloading a crochet or knitting class. I've downloaded those lessons I need and been able to watch them in the car without an internet connection.

So don't miss out on this big sale! Click Here to check out all the classes and save up to 50% off this weekend!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amazing Italian Pasta Sauces

Josh here, again!

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects--cooking. More specifically, Italian cooking.

I've shared our signature Sunday spaghetti and meat sauce recipe before, so today I wanted to share a great tip on fresh tomatoes in pasta sauces.

Unfortunately, tomato season is over for us, but we can still find some fresh heirloom tomatoes at the local grocery store. These large, maroon, gnarly tomatoes are wonderful in sauces.

Do you know the secret to cooking good sauce from fresh tomatoes?

http://www.craftsy.com/ext/LeahDay_456_CPYou need to skin the tomato, which is easier said than done. However, there's a trick to this... with a small, sharp pairing knife, carefully slit a shallow X at the bottom of the tomato. Bring a pot of water to a mild boil, and using a large slotted spoon, parboil the tomatoes for no more than 1 minute. Immediately scoop out the tomatoes and plunge into a bowl of ice water.

Let cool, and the skin will literally come right off with minimal effort.

Skins do not break down in sauces, and they shred apart, leaving tiny rolled up tubes in your sauce... and that is not good eats!

This tip comes from the excellent craftsy cooking course, Classic Italian Pasta Sauces, from chef Giuliano Hazan. If you ever wanted to cook authentic, rustic Italian tomato and meat-based sauces, this class is a must-watch. I never knew how simple a tomato sauce could be; in fact, there is one particular family recipe Chef Hazan shares that only has four ingredients--none of which is olive oil, parsley, or basil!


I love to turn the class on via our family iPad and watch it while I prepare dinner. Chef Hazan is a great instructor and his recipes are simply incredible... the one family recipe pictured above is so amazing it's now one of our go-to staples. And did I mention how easy it is? You can literally throw this together in minutes, cook on the stove, and then serve immediately with your choice of steaming pasta.

Click here to check out "Classic Italian Pasta Sauces" and get the class at a discount.

See you next week,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Josh's Circles and Wiggles in a Basket Block

Josh here. Today I'm stitching circles and wiggles in a basket block.

And here is the finish:

I'm stitching on Spoonflower cheater cloth. This fabric comes to you already marked, so no piecing required. This is great for beginners! We also have four colorways available for you to choose from.

See you next week!

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