Chocolate Brigadeiros to Share on Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2014

Chocolate Brigadeiros

Recently my daughter did a presentation on Brazil for her social studies class. As part of the project, she made Chocolate Brigadeiros to share with her classmates. The recipe she settled on was from The Brazilian Kitchen: 100 Classic and Contemporary Recipes for the Home Cook by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz; the directions were clear and the end result was positively divine. I must say, too, that this is one of the few recipes where the end result looked all most like the picture!

So if you are still looking for a chocolate surprise to share on Valentine’s Day, you might want to give these addictive little treats a try. And, if you need a way to package the candies, take a look at these printable Valentine candy boxes at smilebox.com or spoonful.com.

Doodle, Reflect, and Plan

January 3, 2014

If you typically throw your calendar into the recycle bin at the end of the year, you may want to reconsider … 

A Playing with Fabric post about doodling on calendars and reflecting about the year past and thinking about the year ahead

The other day, I walked past my daughter’s room where she was quietly embellishing her 2013 wall calendar using a magenta Sharpie and a ruler; she has continued to work on it over holiday break, taking her time and carefully considering how she wants to fill in each square.

While it is a wonderfully simple creative exercise – treating each square as its own canvas, each page as its own gallery is a nice scale to work on (I say having just completed a full-size bed quilt) – it is also so meditative.

So go ahead, retrieve your 2013 calendar and pick out your favorite Sharpie color, then find a quiet place to think about the year just past and set intentions for the year ahead. And for my readers who quilt or embroider, you might just discover a new pattern in those doodles!

Scripted Landscape

December 18, 2013

I met Krista Varsbergs several years ago when we were both volunteers in a school art program. When I visited her home several months later, it took me a few minutes to realize most of the beautiful artwork displayed - paintings, photographs,  mixed media – was her own. Since that time, she has become a friend, a client, and a colleague.

Like many of us who make, she is always exploring new directions and combining interests in her art. Case in point, pairing favorite quotes with her photographs to create an image that makes you stop, think, and reflect – and, with the photo below, pull your sweater a bit closer before moving on to the rest of the day.

Scripted Landscapes

Photo Courtesy of Krista Varsbergs

When she announced the opening of her Etsy shop recently, I asked if she would take a few minutes to answer some questions …

YM:  I am always interested in how people come up with a name for a business … How did you arrive at the name “Brake Studios”? 

Krista:  My last name happens to be pretty hard to remember and spell right, so that wasn’t an option for my business. I wanted the name to represent why I’m making and selling this work, not just describe what it is. And so I boiled it down to this: I hope these prints will cause people to pause, if even for a nano-second, in the middle of their craziness. Put on the brakes so to speak.

YM: Your photographs and quote pairings are so powerful. Where do you begin – with the photo or the quote?

Krista: I’ve been collecting my favorite quotes since I was a teenager. I was organized back then, writing them carefully in a beautiful handmade book a friend gave me, but now they’re just stuffed in a hanging file – a big mess of notes scrawled on scraps of paper. But it works! I usually dig around in there and start with a quote that’s particularly meaningful to me at the time, and then I try to figure out how to make it visually appealing without illustrating it too literally. I don’t want it to be too obvious, like a picture of a window for the “when a door closes, a window opens” quote kind of thing.

I also have a digital equivalent of the hanging file for photos I have taken. I go on a hunt for something that just resonates with the quote, and sometimes the image ends up being primary, the quote secondary. That’s when I think the image can stand alone, but if you get up close enough you get the bonus of reading a really great quote.

YM: Your prints are now on Etsy. What else is happening in the studio?  

Krista: Selling my prints is partially to support my painting habit, and some archival prints of that work – still lifes and landscapes – will be coming to my Etsy shop soon, so I am busy selecting the paintings that will be featured.

Visit Brake Studios here to see more of Krista’s work; she also takes custom orders.

Making Nested Boxes with a Pattern in Modern Quilts Illustrated

November 18, 2013

When Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr of Modern Quilt Studio asked if they could feature “Nested Boxes” in an upcoming issue of Modern Quilts Illustrated, I was a bit excited to say the least! The issue, #7, is now out and it’s an odd feeling to see something you have made in a totally different setting – the beautiful styling of the photo makes me want the want the entire room – even the healthy plant!

Nested Boxes

I have enjoyed making this quilt several times and have always leaned towards a low-contrast look in selecting the two fabrics – Bill and Weeks offer a couple of other looks in the magazine. While careful piecing is critical, once the colors are decided upon, it is all about the sewing and watching the quilt come together.  To check out the quilts/patterns featured in Issue #7 of Modern Quilts Illustrated or to subscribe, go on over to Modern Quilt Studio here.

Happy quilting!

Balance Notecards

October 26, 2013
Balance Notecards

Balance Notecards

When I was making “Balance,” a quilt inspired by the colors and symbols of the Chakra that I wrote about here, I thought the blocks would lend themselves really well to notecards. The cards feature some of my favorite blocks from the quilt on one side and on the flip side, in small print, is a phrase that suggests an action to take – for example, “Connect to nature … plant a garden” – that relates to the Chakra color featured on the front.

Whether you study the Chakras, are a healing arts professional, or simply like a good notecard, I hope you enjoy this set. The cards are available in my Big Cartel shop here, as well as through Anderson’s Bookshop, a great local independent bookshop in my neighborhood.

Notecard set includes 21 cards and envelopes -  3 each of 7 images

Notecard set includes 21 cards and envelopes -
3 each of 7 images

Recalibrating the Creative Self

October 10, 2013

IMG_2782

The intention was to take a few weeks off this summer from writing here but once out of the habit, it has been hard to get back into the routine. (My visits to the gym have suffered a similar fate.) As I sit down at the keyboard on this beautiful fall day though, I realize the time away has been good – necessary really – to re-calibrate where I am going on several levels including my quilting work.

Spending time outside growing a vegetable garden, meeting friends for coffee or simply a walk, visiting family, and really focusing my business on work that I most enjoy has all been good for reinvigorating my creativity and professional life.

So, some excellent reads if you need to take a mental pause to figure out what’s next  …

Is there a particular book you have found insightful, inspiring as you decide what’s next in your creative life? Share it here by leaving a comment.

“Balance” Quilt Pattern Now Available

June 4, 2013

Chakra Quilt

Many of my quilts begin with a big idea that is inspired by something – like a story in the newspaper, a garden in full bloom, a brick sidewalk laid in an interesting pattern, even memories of the wash hanging out on the clothesline when I was little. Balance, my latest quilt pattern, is no exception.  When my close friend Katy completed her studies to become a certified Healing Touch practitioner, her husband commissioned a quilt to celebrate the event. After spending time researching healing touch and learning more about Chakras, I sketched out a number of ideas; Balance is the one my friend chose. While I continue to make this quilt on a commission basis, I also wanted to make the pattern available to other quilters, so here it is!

The color work in the sample pictured above and in the pattern is based on the colors of the Chakra. However, it would look stunning in all one color or with the circles set in a background of black. The circles are pieced from narrow strips of fabric so it is a great way to use up odds and ends in your stash (or the stashes of your quilter friends!).

Detailed directions are provided for both a twin/generous napping size, as well as a wall hanging. To see more details and to order the pattern, visit YvonneMaloneStudio.bigcartel.com.

Happy sewing!

Gardening and Quilting: A Circle of Inspiration

May 25, 2013
Our Yard  After the Big Rain

Our Yard After the Big Rain

About a month ago, our town here in the Chicago suburbs was hit with severe rainfall and flooding. Our schools were closed for the first time ever for a “rain day” and our neighbors borrowed a canoe to boat around with their daughter in our backyards – an experience they felt they would never have again (or at least hope to never have again). Watching the devastation around us, we were thankful that our house was dry and that only our yard was a mess.

Having to pick up raised garden beds that had floated off and put them back in place, we began to get reenergized about our yard and its possibilities. As I laid out ideas first in my head and then with lengths of hose configured around what was left of the existing beds, it was like laying out a quilt. And now, with a bumper crop of  lettuce and kale in all varieties and colors, I am out there studying all of those greens and reds and thinking about how they might all come together in a quilt – or maybe even in a vegetable dye for fabric …ummm.

So, with all of this inspiration going on, I was over the top when my friend and client, Vicki Nowicki announced The Liberty Gardens Project, a year-long series of classes (taught one season at a time) on sustainable living, including organic vegetable gardening and preserving. Vicki and her husband Ron will teach the class in their own garden that is 30 years in the making, a model in sustainable living and gardening. They both have impressive experiences and so much knowledge to share – in 2012, Vicki was selected as a delegate to the International Slow Food Terra Madre Conference in Italy.

IMG_0142-1

My husband and I are going to take turns attending class and I can’t wait to learn more about vegetable gardening and gather more inspiration for my quilts!

To learn more about the class and peruse beautiful gardening photos, visit The Liberty Gardens website.

Jazz Club – A Free Quilt Pattern

May 6, 2013

Jazz Club - Full View

Thank you to the recent Playing With Fabric reader for asking about Jazz Club, a pattern I designed as a free download for Troy Fabrics to highlight Marcia Derse’s Nouveau Chic fabric collection and first mentioned in this post. Just click on the link below to print a free copy of the pattern. Happy sewing!

JazzClubFreePattern

 

IMG_1889

Can I Actually Be a Student Again

March 4, 2013

The answer to that headline is “yes.” Last fall, I took the plunge and became a student again. Okay, it was low risk, virtually no cost, and oh so fun! In other words, very different from my college experience years ago. The class, “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society,” offered by Cousera.org, was my first big venture into online education and it far, far, far exceeded any expectations I had. The professor of the class, Karl Ulrich of the University of Pennsylvania was phenomenal and was conscientious of the varied backgrounds and circumstances of his students in this class. Another plus, I was able to handle all of the simple technology requirements (e.g., uploading files), complete my homework on time each week and receive an almost perfect score (if I had only uploaded that one photo I debated about, it would have been a perfect score).  Of course, it also helps to have school-age kids in the house who turned the tables and told me to “go do your homework!”

While I missed the face-to-face interaction with my fellow students, it was so inspiring to read comments from others around the world, people who I was reminded live in vastly different circumstances, like the student who wanted to know if there were any other supplies needed besides pencil and paper because the store was two hours away and she could only get there once a month or so.

The outcome of this class will be a future post and product but for now I suggest you enroll and make something – it does not have to be a tangible product, it could be a service, too. The class starts up again on April 29th. FYI, there are many other Coursera classes that sound really interesting, but pay attention to the time requirements for the class when deciding; I have since taken another class and would have to say the time estimates are fairly accurate. I still have to juggle running a business, raising a family … so despite my tendency to want to sign up for two or three classes, I have limited myself to one at a time for now.

P.S. I love the idea of Coursera and how it allows people throughout the world, including those in remote regions, access to some of the top universities. It also opens up a new world to high schoolers who are looking for classes that challenge them in new ways in an area of interest and others who want to keep learning but have limited choices because of  budget, transportation, and/or  limited mobility challenges. I had been looking for a class like this for years, but could not find one in the Chicago area, so when I saw this, I jumped.  I do worry how this will affect traditional colleges and universities and I think many are looking at its impact.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers