The Penguin, Polar Bear, and Pancake Bag

This project happened because I found this delightful canvas on Miss Matatabi and decided I needed to do SOMETHING with it.

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I mean, how can you possibly resist Polar Bear and Baby Penguin making pancakes? The slightly strange but still intelligible English only adds to the charm. I decided to make a bag for a friend, who I knew would be equally delighted by the adventures of Penguin and Polar Bear.

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Luckily Miss Matatabi had a perfect coordinating penguin poplin to line the bag. Armed with half a meter of each, and some nylon webbing from the craft store, I made a bag. It’s lined and there’s a lot of topstitching to give it some body and keep the lining from flopping around, but other than that it’s really straight forward.

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Not much else to say. It’s a simple tote bag – I originally had grand ideas of zippers and interior compartments, but then paused, reflected upon the fact that it was the week before my due date, and decided finished was better than fancy. I think I ended up finishing it just two or three days before I went into labor, so good thing I went the simple route or it still wouldn’t be finished. 😉

Two Quilts for a Challenge

One of my cousins is a serious quilter, the sort who has quilts in books and thinks about hue and value and all that stuff when planning quilts. My approach to quilting is more freeform, shall we say? In other words, I change my plans partway through, add borders until it looks right, and generally make a colorful mess of everything. I have fun, though, and I think that’s the important part.

More to the point, my quilting cousin organized a family quilting challenge some time ago. It was an informal affair – she sent us some fabric, and we had to use that fabric in a quilt somehow. The fabric in question was abstract coral and orange stripes, with yellow dots. It looked bright. Really bright. And yet… every fabric I set it against made it look lifeless and drab. I finally found a really bright floral cotton from Joann Fabrics in my stash that complimented my challenge fabric, and discovered that Japanese-style indigo prints provided contrast without dulling the bright colors.

After that, everything proceeded to go wrong. I ran out of one of the indigo prints, found a replacement online, ordered it only to find that not only was the print a different scale, but the fabric was a vastly different weight. Then I ran out of the replacement fabric (foolishly having not ordered enough in the first place,) ordered more from the same place… and the scale of the pattern was off, again. At that point, since I was running out of the challenge fabric, I said to hell with it, and finished the quilt – hence the slight discrepancy between the indigo fabric in the four square blocks.

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Block patterns: #18 Kurume kasuri masumon and #46 Meisen maru from Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match by Susan Briscoe.

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Not perfect, but done. I do like the color scheme, though I think I committed my usual mistake and made the blocks too busy. The Meisen maru blocks in particular could have done with a less busy indigo fabric, to really highlight the orange and floral fabrics. I don’t have a good photo of the back of this quilt, but it’s some bright blue and green tie-dyed skull and crossbones flannel from my stash, with some pieced indigo and floral accents. Very fun, and snuggly.

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I originally meant to piece a back for the quilt from scraps, but after some more frustration – like coming up ONE STRIP SHORT of nine striped blocks, argh – I gave up and made a baby quilt instead. Not much to say about this one other than that I am inordinately fond of it for how simple it is.

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I had just enough of this pretty abstract wave patterned cotton to back the smaller quilt. Small triumphs, and all that! The backing, batting, and binding for both quilts was all scrap or stash materials, which was very satisfying – goodness knows I still have more fabric than I can fit in my storage containers, but slowly, slowly I shall whittle it down.

Blueberry Almond Muffins

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There’s really not much to say about these muffins, other than that they’re delicious. I meant to post this back during blueberry season, when my mother gave me fresh blueberries that she’d picked at a local-to-her patch, but then I didn’t. Such is life.

I made this recipe twice in as many days, because they were so good the first time my husband, father, and I ate them all – and then naturally I had to make another batch so my mother and mother-in-law could have some. Though I baked them both with and without sliced almonds sprinkled on top, it was generally agreed that the addition of sliced almonds improved the muffins.

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Blueberry Almond Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup softened butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

zest of 1/2 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the tops

sliced almonds, to do the same

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease 12 muffin tins.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, and mix well. Zest half a lemon into the butter mixture.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and almond extract to milk.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and mixing well after each addition. Gently fold in blueberries.

Portion into muffin tins, sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar and sliced almonds, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in the muffin tins for a few minutes before removing muffins to a cooling rack.

Belated Easter Blogging

The weather at Easter was beautiful: sunny and warm, all the grass verdant and spring green. My family had our semi-traditional, not particularly denominational Easter dinner at my parents’ house. I made Kulich and Pashka – My family isn’t Russian, but I made them one year out of curiosity and my brother loved them so much I’ve made them ever since.

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This year I used this kulich recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen, which I will be using again because it was really good – the one change I made was to substitute 100g toasted sliced almonds and 200g mixed chopped apricots and dried sour cherries in place of the raisins the recipe calls for. The pashka is Nami-Nami’s Pashka recipe, made with ricotta in place of farmer’s cheese because I can’t find farmer’s cheese anywhere.

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The kulich recipe makes a LOT: this is one batch. I ended up with three large cakes, made with the 6-inch panettone molds from Sur la Table, and eight large muffin sized cakes, the molds for which I found at Daiso. Eleven people polished off two of the large cakes in one sitting, because they’re really tasty.

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Someone was having fun with the camera while I was decorating the kulich platter with hazel twigs.

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My brother took some photos outside – and look, I’m wearing the bolero I sewed for Sew for Victory, along with a dress I made some twelve years ago.

 

Sew for Victory 2.0

This looks like fun – I was hopeful, when I stumbled across Lucky Lucille and saw posts from last year that it might be a thing that would happen again. Turns out I found her blog just in time for round two. Huzzah!

I like vintage patterns for many reasons – they appeal to the history geek in me, I like both the tailored austerity of the World War Two years and the exuberant femininity of the New Look, and I’ve had good luck with vintage patterns actually fitting my hourglass figure – and I’ve been collecting them and sewing with them for years now. The thing is, I haven’t always been the best about finishing seams and perfecting construction methods, and I have a tendency to sew pretty frocks, which for one reason or another I hardly ever wear.

All of which leads me to this dress, one of I think two garments I managed to finish while in college:

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It’s a lot prettier on, but it’s kind of boring. Very green – and I like green, but this dress doesn’t have much going on beside green. It’s a sundress; there’s no tailoring to save it. It’s also suffering from a sagging waistline, because the seersucker isn’t strong enough to support the weight of a full circle skirt.

So what am I going to do? Well, first I’m going to make the bolero that’s supposed to go with this dress:

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I liked the floral fabric so much that when I found it, probably five years ago, I bought yardage in two of the colorways. I like both of them with the seersucker, so the bolero will be reversible. If I have enough of the seersucker left, I’ll make piping from it and edge the bolero with that to tie it all together. At some point I’ll have to pick apart the bodice and flatline it with a stable fabric for strength, but that comes later.