Thursday, April 16, 2009

Books, Quilt Blocks and a Present.

I recently won a blog contest for the book, The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes from Stephanie over at Half Baked. She generously sent me Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse along with my prize. I adore both of the books. The Gingerbread Architect Book requires you to be meticulous and patient because the houses do look like a lot of work. Luckily for me, that kind of thing is right up my alley. Though, executing one of these houses might prove to be difficult while taking care of a 15 month old. The 12 house designs are: Pueblo House, Second Empire House, Cape Cod, Adirondack Camp, Dawson City House, Urban Brownstone, Carpenter Gothic, Tudor Revival, Victorian Farmhouse, South Beach Art Deco House, Greek Revival Antebellum Plantation, and Modern House. And true to it's name of the book, it has blueprints of all the houses for you to enlarge on the photocopier. It reminds me of my drafting class in art school. The book contains all the recipes for the houses like the gingerbread dough, royal icing, and pastillage. Then it also has a list of resources for buying the candy pieces for the decorations.

I think it will be lots of fun to have Melody participate in decorating a Gingerbread House this year. It will have to be something simple because I don't think she is up for making a Victorian Farmhouse yet. :-)

Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse has delicious looking recipes. I have my eye on the Blueberry Crumb Cakes and Plum Kuchens right now. The pictures of the baked goods are very good, so it further entices you to make some. I find that people really like miniature cakes. Maybe it tricks you into thinking that you are having a smaller portion or maybe they are just too darn cute to resist. From my own experience, I know that my friends really love the fact that I now make my cheesecakes in individual portions. Shhhh...don't tell them, but it's actually a little easier.

I noticed that the book has some recipes that require you to have specialty mini-cake pans in different shapes, but not all of them require that. The front of the book has a section just for using muffin pans. Towards the back of the book are the decorative cakes that require a lot more decorating. I think this book ranges from Easy to Advanced, but they are all certainly doable.

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My friend, Jen, recently sent me Weekend Sewing and Material Obsession. Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have seen Weekend Sewing. It's the new sewing book by Heather Ross that has taken over crafting blogs and Flickr. I seriously couldn't avoid seeing the book. Every blog I visited had pictures from the book or finished projects to show. I even had one person recommend it to me because of the cute children's clothes section. It's so true. I love that section. I have been wanting to sew garments and children's clothes would be a good baby step towards it. The Smocked Sundress and Flower Girl Dress would be adorable for Melody. I love the step by step illustrations (by the author) and the simple look of the projects. The hand drawn illustrations really adds a special touch to the book. You can tell how much love and care the author put into the making of the book. The projects, especially, the garments (adult and children) have simple clean lines. It really makes the garment projects look approachable, even for a newbie like me.

If you like making quilts, this one is a winner. Isn't the name, Material Obsession fantastic? Not only is it the name of the book, but it is the name of the authors store in Sydney, Australia. The two ladies really have an eye for color and fabrics. The way they combine prints and color really makes the quilts look so beautiful. Their most simple pattern, which is called Avalon, uses rich bold colors that are combined perfectly. Even though it is a pattern that uses only 12 squares of fabric, the fabric choices is what makes it unique.
I was very inspired by the book and decided to use one of the block patterns for Lynn's month of our virtual quilting bee, Common Threads. She sent an impressive selection of fabrics. I chose the 4 biggest pieces to make this block for her. The block is from the pattern, Cowboy Baby, in the book. I took one set of the block and blew it up. The block ended up being 14 inches, so she could trim it down if she wants to. The picture below is the picture of the quilt, Cowboy Baby, from the book.
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I haven't talked about the other blocks I made for the virtual quilting bee since the last update.
This 15 inch block is for Jacquie. The light blue is a linen and was a little tricky to work with because it frays very easily. The finished quilt is for her son, Jon. Jon asked for something minimal, modern and masculine.
These two are for Jenny. I had extra fabric, so I tried to make another one.The second one is smaller because I ran out of fabric. But I had fun experimenting with the striped fabric she sent.

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Last weekend, we Melody received a special package in the mail. This little guy came all the way from Chicago only to arrive on a yucky rainy day here in NYC. Sara had made this for Melody as a belated birthday present.
The next day, Easter Sunday, was bright and sunny, so we took Melody and the Koala to the park. She never let go of him and dragged him around the whole afternoon. DH took her on the slide and all 3 of them slid down together.
Here is Koala resting on the park bench. We decided to give him a break from the jungle gym and the (dirty) ground. He might need a bath now after all that playing.

Thank you, Sara. She really loves him. She loves holding him by his apron. I think that is my favorite part, too. So cute!

22 comments:

Jennie said...

Ohh great books, if I'm lucky the bookshop in the city might have them, so I can take a peek, but they don't stock that many english books.
Love the Koala, too cute for words.

caitlyn said...

Great books! I always think it's a treat to sit down and pore over crafty books.
Your quilt blocks are lovely.
Melody is *adorable* in that red cabled hoodie!!! Very cute koala as well.

yahaira said...

those squares are so freaking gorgeous! all of you quilters are really tempting me.

melody has gotten sooo big!she's adorable in that little red hoodie

Sam said...

Ooh lots of great books. An dgreat quilting squares. Love it when kids grasp onto something... especially when that something has been handmade with love.

Rebekah said...

Congrats on winning the giveaway! That gingerbread book looks so cool.

I bought WEekend sewing and Material obsession a few months ago and love them both, especially the photography.

Your quilt blocks are so pretty! I really like the simplicity of Jacquie's block

flanthrower said...

Awww...You're welcome! Little koala was so fun to make. Thank *you* for posting these pics! They totally made my day. I'm so glad that even at this tender young age, little Melody can appreciate handmade goodness.

Lynn said...

The koala is adorable!! Melody looks so happy!

littlebirdbigcity said...

Oh my gosh, so much good stuff in one post! I love those fabric squares with the stripes, so eye catching. you've been busy! I'm a huge fan of making gingerbread houses and try to make one every year. That book looks incredible, something I'm going to have to pick up, I think. Melody looks adorable, as usual. She's really getting big!

Agnes said...

I've been lazy in blog readings lately, but I did see Weekend Sewing in the store and love it ... just that I don't sew enough to justify buying another sewing book!
And OMG! A walking Melody was a great shock to me ... I still have her crawling image ... and she is now a big girl!

Muddling Through said...

Well, my little friend, you have made up for not posting so much lately - - - what an awesome post!! So much candy for the eyes. I love your quilt squares. Thanks for the book reviews. The koala is SO cute. And Melody. She has GROWN so much! And getting prettier all the time.

Stephanie said...

i adore your quilt squares - great color, great composition - and so appealing! I can't believe how big Melody is getting - she's so adorable with her sweater and koala! Glad you liked the books :D

Hannah said...

Fun new books... And that koala is fantastic! So cute, and great prints. :)

Jackie said...

O how i envy Melody of having Koala.

Corrie said...

you will love weekend sewing and material obsession! both on my bookshelves and I love them!

miss melody looks so happy with her new friend!

and I'm drooling over the names of those little cakes...and since they're little you can eat more!

Corrie:)

Rima said...

Wow. Great books. The quilt squares are just beautiful! And great new friend that Melody has...

amandajean said...

your quilt blocks are FANTASTIC!!!

Tina said...

Wow, I am overwhelmed and impressed at all you have been making! I haven't worked on my quilts for a long time, years actually, but I have a couple going that I would still love to finish. Seeing your beautiful work makes me want to go dig them out and get busy. Thanks for sharing the books, too. I don't get to see all of the new release stuff here, sort of living under a rock-I miss Barnes and Noble that was only 3 minutes from my house:(

*karen said...

Wow, I loved this post. As you know I am for anything that encourages your baking. I regularly nominate myself to be your taster :o)

And was I the one who encouraged you to buy Weekend Sewing? I dunno, but it sounds like something I'd do.

And that Koala is the cutest. I love that Sara is making stuff again!

Ivy@PaperElixir said...

Hey, I recognize that koala! So fun to see it "coming to life" with your daughter :D Sara did an amazing job ;) I agree there's no escape from the Weekend Sewing book! Think I might give in and order myself a copy from Amazon... :)

hyeknitter said...

Those quilt blocks are beautiful. And Melody's getting so big (love that little Koala!).

Natalie said...

Those books are on both on my list! Melody looks adorable, as usual! That Koala is awesome. All that cuteness in one house! How can you stand it?

joyce said...

your quilt blocks are beautiful and how adorable Melody is =)