Monday, March 30, 2009

A Farm Chicks Kind of Weekend

We had quite the rainy weather from Wednesday last week through the weekend. I was already exhausted from preparing for "V's" visit - you know, taking care of all the shopping while my husband did all the hard work redecorating. At the same time, my p.r.n. job needed me to work both Thursday and Friday, and Friday evening we had a potluck dinner with the other visiting German students and host families. So, I welcomed the horribly rainy and thundery Saturday and sat in the easy chair for hours early Saturday morning reading The Farm Chicks cookbook while Michael took the girls to the mall -- bless him!

The FC cookbook includes a blackberry cobbler recipe. At the holidays, my friend gave me a jar of Cracker Barrel Blackberry Cobbler filling, so I popped that in the bottom of the baking dish and mixed up the crumbly topping of the recipe, and it turned out great.
If you have a Cracker Barrel restaurant by you or travel by one anytime, you should run in and try the fillings. Not too sweet and very tasty. Anyway, a little vanilla ice cream for me -- Tofutti for the lactose intolerant people in my house, and we had a very cozy dessert for late afternoon.


I managed a little sewing, too. I finished this pretty 3T dress with applique but I haven't been able to photograph it well. Despite the gloomy weather - though the sun is glorious today, I can't photograph tall items easily. For most of my items, I can lay them out on my poster-foam board photo set, and they look just fine. However, I haven't found a good place to hang a garment. Any good ideas? I mean, I know I can hang it from a doorknob, but all our doors are hardwood and stained, and the walls are colors, so that doesn't make a good backdrop.


There are a number of dachshund lovers in my family, and I came across this really nice fabric recently that I thought I should have on hand. Brightly sweatered little dachshunds all in a row. I thought lunch bags would be a good spot for these guys. I'm working on having a list of quick teacher gift items to have available for the spring rush. Camille and "V" absconded two of the ones I made for the shop and have been using them at school. A very nice compliment, indeed.


I have to say that "V" is such a doll. She and Camille get along so nicely. "V's" English is very good, and we have had a lot of fun with her. My son has been home from college EVERY DAY since her arrival. Friday, she is going to University with him and visit his English and German Mythology classes. There they are playing Wii above at the potlock dinner on Friday evening.
The one funny thing that WE have to get used to is she says, "This is so much food!" You know, we Americans eat a lot and often! Plus, of course, southern hospitality requires us offering lots of choices. Anyway, she told us she has toast for breakfast, a break/snack at school of fruit and maybe bread and butter, then home for lunch/dinner with her family - the big meal of the day, and then maybe a snack at night. Amazing! She looks gorgeous and healthy and eats so little. That tells me a lot about how we overdo it.

One more funny story, just to remember it: Yesterday, after church, I sent the kids to McAlister's Deli for lunch so "V" could get a nice salad. Cody tells me when he gets home that they helped her choose a sandwich -- because the choices are so many there. The meal is delivered, "V" is surprised at the size of her sandwich, and Camille grabs up the potato chips that come along with it, opens them up, and dumps them out in the sandwich basket, at which "V" looks shocked! Turns out, chips are for when one goes to the movie, sort of like popcorn. Certainly not with a meal!

So, last night, Michael planned a big pasta and vegetable meal, but I told her not to worry about eating it for "dinner." Tomorrow (which is today), when she and Camille get home from school, they can make up the left overs and have the one big meal of the day. I think she was relieved!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Buyer's Remorse ...

Last week on Martha Stewart's craft portion of the show, she had pet sweater projects as the theme. The authors of Pet Projects - The Animal Knits Bible were on and demonstrated re-fashioning a sweater and other items into dog coats and accessories. (If you go to the link above, you'll see a number of the projects in the book.) I thought it sounded great and spontaneously ordered the book off Amazon's second market without even checking it out closely. This perfectly beautiful book came in the mail a couple of days ago, however, it is 95% actual knitting projects, none of which I can do. So, I thought I'd put it here and see if anyone wants to purchase it for the same amount I spent. The book was $8.99 + shipping, which totaled $12.98. I just tried to make a paypal button to put here, but blogger wouldn't let it load -- I guess. If you are interested, please e-mail me at calicodaisy (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll paypal you to your e-mail address. If you live outside the US, I'll add a couple more dollars for shipping.
On another note, a book purchase I made just last night came with no remorse but great delight - The Farm Chicks cookbook. I read through it this morning and just made a dessert for tonight. This book I really can use.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Company Is Coming …


This past week, we have been in a frenzy of preparation for a special visitor who arrived last night. Early in the year, our daughter asked if we could host a German student for a month. She chose a lovely, 16-year-old young lady, "V" as I will call her, and we have been so excited about her arrival. Both my children now have taken German at school as their foreign language, and my son is a freshman in college as a German major.

New Friends 032409

Well, "V" is just as darling as we hoped for, and we think she looks remarkably like Camille ("V" on the right). Though she had been up nearly 24 hours traveling over to America, "V" was able to keep up with our chatty and excited family, and we are so happy she is here.
Of course, expecting company requires the next set of home improvement projects. We've been meaning to redecorate my son's room, which was never properly done when we moved to this house six years ago. At that time, I was recovering from herniated discs, and then we embarked upon a number of surgeries within the family over the next four years. So, now, we are getting to the redecorating we've always imagined for this home.

hall bathroom before

First to be done was the hall bath. Though still in really great shape, there was gold linoleum and awful 80s wallpaper. Well, a nice paint scheme and "peel and stick" tile, if you can believe, and it looks great.

hall bath re-do

At 88 cents a square foot, it cost about $30.00 to re-floor this bathroom! We found it at Lowe's, and it looks and feels just like 12-inch tile. For a color scheme of vintage blue, pink, and black, the wall color is Martha Stewart Flower Petal Pink, and the flooring is a chocolate color that is just perfect for the pink paint.

guest room redecorating

Next project was my son's room. Obviously, I had let it go for waaaaay toooo long. There was, again, an old 80s border, bare walls, etc. (This photo with the wallpaper border spackled over, then sanded, then primed.) However, I found the perfect vintage yellow I've been looking for, Jekyll Clubhouse Yellow, Valspar Lowe's 3006-6C. As a guest room, I am using white matelasse bedding and decorating with a vintage blue and florals for a sort of Texas Hill Country vintage look.

Guest Room 9

When my son is home from school, we can switch the bedding and curtains out to red and blue Americana stripes and checks in a more guy-friendly look. This is the first room in the hall, and, I tell you, it is a joy to look across from the family room into a lovely room rather than one requiring the door being shut! There is still art for the walls to be found, plans for a quilted tablerunner for the dresser, and a roll-top desk to be brought up, but at least the basics are down.


So, in preparation for "V's" arrival, some baking had to be done. I found another awesome and perfect chocolate cake recipe from The Farm Chicks. This chocolate cake with buttercream frosting turned out devine! Of course, just reading through the buttercream recipe, I thought it wouldn't be enough, so I doubled everything. It tastes perfect, and the consistency is just lush. Two drops of red food coloring, and I have this lovely shade of pink. Do try baking this one up. It's easy, quick, and seems foolproof as well. I think I need to go ahead and buy their new cookbook.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A 90th Birthday Gift

Walker Totebag

My paternal grandmother celebrates her 90th birthday this week! The number just seems unbelievable to me. In my mind, she is still the same as she ever was when I was young, but, not so. Time marches on! Drats! However, she is still very healthy and living on her own. She's been in one of those retirement condo villages since the early 1980s, so she has quite the community there. It's surprisingly still really nice, too. I am fortunate to have such a healthy and long-lived ancestry behind me, and I hope to be part of that long-lived line myself.

My cousin is throwing a party for Grandma in South Florida this weekend, though I'm not able to go. Time-wise, it is between both kids' spring breaks here, so driving 600 miles down there and back for a few days is just too much. She is a sweetie, though, and understands.

Walker Totebag

I wanted to send a gift, of course, but what to give a 90-year-old who has everything she needs in a one-bedroom condo? I decided on a walker totebag. I sewed it up in hot Florida colors, just how Grandma likes. I'm glad I can send her something that represents my skills as well as something useful and pretty.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! I hope you have a big time with all the family that comes your way this week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vintage Inspired Pillowcase

Vintage Inspired Pillowcase with Bird

Due to the recent excitement about using thrifted and vintage pillowcases for decorating and for making pretty little pillowcase dresses, I've sewn up some pillowcases with vintage-inspired and feedsack fabrics like this one and embroidered a perky little bird on the left bottom corner specifically placed for a pillowcase dress. If you're nice and trim, it would be a cute summer skirt!

Vintage Inspired Pillowcase with Bird

Vintage Inspired Pillowcase with Bird

I love using this scalloped edge as I have on tea towels. I may have to actually make a pillowcase dress for my little niece who is turning one in May. As soon as she is walking, I am going to have her as my own little model.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Orders Up!

This first week without transcription work to do at home has begun with a number of custom orders, thankfully.

Name embroidered on fabric square for quilt

Michelle sent these beautiful solids to me to have them embroidered with some special little ones' names. She has quilts for them in the works, and these will be incorporated into the quilt squares. This embroidery font is Vintage Chloe, and you can find it and the other embroidery fonts I have in my mishflicks set. It's a fun script and looks great superimposed over the large initial.

Custom Embroidered A-line dress

Here is a little A-line dress I made this week. It's reversible and monogrammed. The other side is here. I had to work out how to get the monogram to show up on such busy fabric. All my recent applique work gave me the idea to applique an oval down under the monogram frame, and voila!

Monogrammed A-line Dress

I think it looks beautiful. This pretty font is called "cursive." I really have to figure out how to photograph clothing better. I have an idea to use a beaded-board panel painted white and capped off with some moulding. Then, I think I can add a decorative hook in the center and have a great backdrop for long items.
Two orders came in for the zebra fabric in my calicodaisy shop. That was a nice surprise, since I wasn't sure how selling these lengths of fabric was going to go. However, the very day I read a blog posting from an on-line fabric store owner who was lamenting she was out of Jennifer Paganelli's zebra stripe print, I had just spotted this black and white zebra and giraffe fabric at one of my local stores. I went back and bought up what I could to have on hand. I'm also planning to make some totebags with the zebra pattern. I bought pink and green twill to use for the bottom section of the bags and intend to embroider a pink and green design on the bag itself.

What is your favorite iron? Mine is making me crazy. The last two irons I had were fantastic, but the same brand just isn't offering the same quality, and I find that sometimes the steam sizzles out and leaves watermarks I can't remove! Any advice would be appreciated!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Project Improv - Project Two Nearly Complete

my first finished quilt

Look what I brought home yesterday. My modern square quilt all long-armed up! I made this quilt top about three years ago when asked to donate a quilt for a charity auction. I made this one first in a Denyse Schmidt sort of style, including the backing, but it was just way too big to quilt and give away.

my first finished quilt 5

Thus, I made another very similar one for the auction but on a smaller scale and then stitched in the ditch. As soon as I did that, I was sorry. Stitching in the ditch didn't do a thing for the quilt, as far as I was concerned as a sewist. Of course, though, all the folks who saw the auction quilt thought it was great.

my first finished quilt 3

Anyway, back to THIS quilt. All these years, I've just had it folded up hanging on a rack in my sewing room thinking that I needed to save enough money to get it quilted on the long-arm machine. I thought it would be $100.00 or more. Due to Jacquie's Project Improv encouragement, I just brought the quilt into the quilt shop one afternoon and was going to bite the bullet. To my surprise, the estimated cost was $55.00, including batting. I understand from a few of my quilting blog friends that this is a great price. My quilt measurements are around 58 x 60 inches.

Here is the back. I love it!

my first finished quilt 8 the back

The binding will be done in black. That way the color should just blend in with outside rows that are the dotted black material. This quilt will be given to my daughter, Camille. She loves it, too!

If you think my quilt shop has great prices for long-arm work, Audrey of Pieces and Patches here in Lexington, SC, said you could contact her -- e-mail at the link above -- and discuss sending in your quilt and what type of stitching you would like. She contracts with Linda, the owner of the long-arm machine, who is originally from Wales, I think, and graduated from an English embroidery school. Her embroidery handwork and hand quilting are beautiful, and she's got skill with the long-arm. All this to say that if prices are high in your area, you might check prices with Audrey and consider that sending your quilt by priority mail back and forth to South Carolina will probably cost less time and money than driving somewhere, grabbing lunch, getting a cold Diet Coke, buying more fabric while you're out...... Well, that's what usually happens when I run out to the shops.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Special Delivery from the UK!

Jenny's Mug Swap

Last month, I participated in a mug swap hosted by Jenny of jennyflower. She organized a round robin swap, and I was happily surprised upon opening my package that Jenny chose me as her partner.

mug swap set

She was so sweet to pay special attention to my blog and my preference of Diet Coke rather than coffee or tea. We were to include some coffee or tea packets, so she sent darling little coke bottle candies and hot chocolate instead. Very nice! She noted that I enjoy hand and machine embroidery and included a number of interesting embroidery threads and embellishments and a little pattern for a fiber embroidery. I haven't done that before.

mug swap set

See the pretty handmade potholder. The colors are perfect to set out with our coffee and tea service for company. Look at the pretty little knitted pincushion. That's definitely something I can't make for myself, as I don't knit well.

Jenny's Mug Swap

And here is something I was most happy to see -- fabrics from England. There is a perfect mix here to make a patchworked item. These will go well with some fall embroidery designs I've ordered.

Quilted Embroidered Hot Pad

My partner was Leslie of ethel and edna. My swapt gift to her is the quilted coffee mat and tea wallet above. Leslie and her family traveled to Egypt for vacation while I was keeping up with her blog, which I found very interesting. Here in the U.S., we run to Florida or the Gulf Coast or maybe Mexico for quick vacations, and several British bloggers I read have run off to Egypt and Morocco and Spain for getaways!
Thanks, Jenny, for organizing this swap. It was great fun for me, because I stretched my skills a bit with quilting the potholder above and learning to make the tea wallets, which I adore! -- and I was able to meet two new and interesting, blogging crafters in England.

Something New

blue daisy sachet pocket

Due to the recent technology changes interrupting my transcription career, I've been working on sales efforts in my home embroidery studio, creating new items for my calicodaisy etsy shop, and thinking on some pattern ideas to hopefully market through the shop. It would be nice to create something just once and be able to multiply sales by selling the pattern over and over!

gray daisy business card wallet

While making tea wallets these last couple of months, I sort of morphed the idea into business card wallets. They are so darling; I could just make dozens. Look at this kitchy pink mushroom wallet. Please check them out in my shop.

rose fern sachet pocket

The other day, I was cleaning out a closet and found a rumpled envelope sachet that had lost its scent and was torn a bit leaking out the stuff inside. A light bulb went off, and I imagined a little hanging pocket for that type of sachet. Right away, I went downstairs and made a few prototypes until I created what I was looking for. It's a great solution for what to do with these sachets. The sachets are so affordable, often just a dollar or so, but what to do with just a paper envelope? They packaging is pretty, but you can't just lay it out on furniture for fear of ruining the furniture or of little ones or pets getting into them. So, a Pretty Sachet Pocket is created! One can hang them from a decorative hook or a doorknob. Perfect for nurseries, too, right above the changing station.

The sachet pockets and business card wallets below are in my shop now as well.

sachet pockets

business card wallets

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mish's Meatball and Barley Soup

Tonight was the last night of our Winter Ladies' Bible study, and we had a soup and salad dinner together. That sounded especially cozy last week when we planned it and it was 27 degrees outside! Today it was 80 degrees, and I had the windows open with a lovely soft breeze blowing through the house and keeping the kitchen cool as I cooked up a couple batches of soup, one for the family and one for the ladies.

I always like a savory soup, more like a stoup, as Rachael Ray would say, hearty and starchy. I decided to go for a meatball soup, checked around for a few recipes, and then created a hybrid of my favorite flavors. This turned out to be a lovely recipe that cooks up quick, and my friends seemed to agree. I wrote out the recipe this evening before forgetting what went into it, and I thought I'd share it with you, too.
Mish's Meatball and Barley Soup

Created by Michele Chisholm
March 10, 2009

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

1 medium white onion, chopped

1/2 cup of chopped celery

Worcester sauce, two or three dashes or to taste

2 large potatoes chopped to about 1-inch pieces

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained

1 box (32 ounces) beef broth

4 cups water

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Nutmeg (fresh or shake from the tin), to taste

3/4 cup barley

One bag of prepared meatballs (original flavor, around 32 small meatballs)
OR 1 batch of homemade small meatballs (your own recipe)

** Serve with garnish of Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a large, heavy stockpot, heat olive oil. Saute garlic, pancetta, onion, and celery until translucent. Stir in Worcester sauce. Add potatoes, toss around, and let cook for a minute or so. Add in drained beans, beef broth, water, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add the barley and meatballs and continue to boil for 3 minutes. Turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Call Of The Wild

Call Of The Wild

Today I found a great deal on some beautiful animal skin fabric - giraffe and zebra -- and I bought as many yards as I could afford to put in the calicodaisy shop. I don't normally go for the animal prints, but a friend of mine has me all excited about a specific project she's come up with. Thus, I was on the "hunt"!

Call of the Wild 2

These fabrics are very smooth with a tight thread count for a high-end look. The black and white colors are nice and bright for a great contrast. I'm going to pair the zebra one up with some hot pink and green fabric, and I bought some zebra print ribbon for accenting as well.


I also have some leopard print, too, though not in my shop. I can get more, though, as I saw that print still at the fabric shop today. Just let me know. You can see it on the mouse-head applique above and on the covered buttons.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stop And Go ...

work basket

This posting is more for me today, I think. I feel like I've been stumped this month, but I knew I had completed a number of projects from the sewing studio. I've laid them out to show myself -- and you, but, still, I'm feeling kind of lost right now. The main reason is, I'm sure, that I lost my second, long-term, medical transcription account last week. Four and a half years is a long time to have a particular account, so the loss is both monetary and social. I didn't really LOSE the account. Technology has advanced to the point that electronic medical records and voice recognition are becoming so reliable that physician offices and hospitals are switching over. My friend is a physician, and she told me that Medicare has mandated that if offices and hospitals aren't moved over to electronic medical records by 2010, they won't pay the claims! So, the economy is driving the medical field to make the change. I've expected it for years, which is why I've been building my sewing studio and embroidery business, but to hear the final word was quite distressing. Change is hard generally, but change to the budget is harder -- especially in these times. Now I have to get out there and advertise and sell my "studio" more assertively. I've based my business on word or mouth and blogging these years, but the time has come to work my shop - especially the embroidery services - as my main income and look for needs in the corporate field that I can fill.

weekend work

I've been staying busy organizing a dozen things at the same time. Paperwork, general spring cleaning issues around the house, redecorating, and cleaning and packing up my sewing studio around so that I can reconfigure the room and add in the new equipment purchased last year so that I have everything together. In between all that, I've been piddling around and trying new ideas out for building up my inventory.

Our high school mock trial competition was this weekend, and my beautiful girl won "Best Witness" for her round! We are so proud!

vintage-style crochet

I've carried along crochet with me lately while I've been running around. This is the vintage-style crochet afghan I began this weekend after reading about it on one of the blogs. I'm not sure I love mine because I've been using Red Heart yarn, which I've always adored in the past, but, I have recently ventured into some wool blends, and they are so, so, so much softer and the Red Heart is feeling sort of "crunchy." Is it worth making an afghan from the wool blends? I want to be able to throw the thing in the laundry, so I'm unsure whether to continue with this one or not.

word pillows

I've finished some more word pillows that you can find in my calicodaisy shop. Don't you love that heart button? It's like jewelry to the pillow. I have "No. 1" and "No. 2" embroidered out in black on some nice natural twill but haven't sewn those up yet.
completed projects

The Shamrock ties. These need to find a good home before the party day arrives. I mean to take them around to some restaurants and show the managers. A number of places have their waitstaff wear shirts and ties. A custom bib my SIL ordered. Here are some wrist cuffs I made from a tutorial found on one pretty thing. My girl thinks they are too young for her. Drats! I think they are so sweet! I made some flat wallets for business cards and ipods. My girl does like these, and she snatched up one of the little owl ones to put hers in.
All in all, I guess, along with my stippling practice from earlier in the month and the several sales and orders filled in February, I have accomplished quite a bit. It's just been stop and go, and I want to find my stride again, to know what I need to do. I must keep my income, and I've been so fortunate to earn that right from spot where I sit now - often in my pj's! So I wonder where I will find myself next? Being the embroidery queen and working with large groups and corporations on promotional products? Sewing away in the studio on custom orders and current home dec items to put out at shows? Or back to college to learn a new field? If it weren't for the need of a specific income to maintain, I actually have the world at my feet right now with the possibilty of going in any direction I desire. It really is a wonderful opportunity; I just don't know which way to go!