Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Because I don't have enough to do. HA!
Because Lorelei, who is here for Christmas, wanted to go to the yarn shop.
Because I couldn't resist the beautiful hand dyed teal Alpaca yarn.
Because Lorelei thought teaching me to knit would be fun.
Because I have always wanted to knit a sweater.

Well, we are driving to Virginia in 2 days and I don't have a quilt project that is in good "travel" stage. So.... why not.

Here was my first lesson. I casted on, knitted and purled, and it looked okay!
So now I will start knitting with my new lovely yarn. I really don't have any time to start a new fiber obsession, but I will knit this all the same. Here is Lorelei and I - a great teacher and her pupil.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day/Christmas Shopping

Yes, while the rest of the country is all snugged in for a holiday Snow Day, I thought I would go to downtown Ann Arbor and finish my Christmas shopping. I'm back and I am done. The rest of the day will be spent wrapping presents and cooking goulash. Maybe I will even bake something Christmassy. This is what we found when we ventured out of the garage. That is our neighbors overturned trash barrel in the center of the photo.In our short 1.2 mile drive to downtown this is how we found the streets. The city fire hall is on the right and city hall is on the left.Our first stop was Starbucks for a much needed cappuccino. We looked out the window to our destination of Borders Books. Ann Arbor is home to Borders and this is the flagship store. It is not the original Borders store as that was kiddy corner from this present location. That building was outgrown when they first went national.
The last presents were bought and this was the view driving back into the garage. I would post photos of what I got, but some people have been known to check out this blog......
Trust me, there is usually a little more traffic at noon on Miller Avenue. Bill has informed me that the cable is out. Horrors! I predict an afternoon of Jane Austen videos. Happy Sledding!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland

The snowstorm has started. We are expecting anywhere from 2-8 inches, depending on which talking head is doing the predicting. I spent the day doing errands and finishing up some Christmas stuff here at the house. Remember when I said Bill was going to pick up some lights for the tree on the way home from hockey? Well, he did. White lights - commercial grade. Our vintage white artificial tree looks, well..... other-worldly. The brightness kind of grows on you. I might be able to retire my Ott light for the holidays and sew by the light of the tree. (Yes, the only light on in the house is the tree!)I wrapped presents........I also changed some of the quilts around. The German glass glitter Empire State building shows up better against Brrrrr Park.Bill is at hockey again and I hope the roads aren't too bad for the ride home. Here's hoping you are keeping warm and your travel is safe.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Decorating

Polly sent over some pictures of her decorating. No one decorates like Polly and these pictures are as identifiable to her as her DNA. We will both be away from our homes on the 25th, so decorating is a bit more low key this year.
We finally had the time to get out the decorations this weekend. One of our strings of lights is fried, so Bill will pick up another one on his way home from Hockey. The tree trimming will take place later tonight. Other than the tree and some quilts - not much else is done here either. I did find this in New York last week and had to have it. It is the Empire State Building covered in German glass glitter. I still can't decide if it is cool or kitsch, but I still had to have it. I wish I could take a better picture of it.
Below is a kit we are offering at our website - www.minickandsimpson.com. We got the last of the Prairie Paisley Jelly Rolls from the Moda warehouse and have kitted them into this. Supplies are limited. We hope your decorating and tree trimming is going splendidly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Year End Inventory Sale

Hey everyone! We are home from the road and trying to get back to work ; ) One of the chores on my list is a little housekeeping and getting out the Holiday decorations. I am soooo late. In the midst of box shuffling I decided we needed a little inventory trimming. Go to our website www.minickandsimpson.com and peruse our patterns. Buy any pattern and get another pattern free! Just note in the "share any details" box on the order form what pattern you would like free. Only stipulation is that you pick one of the same value or lesser value. Pick a pattern and start whittling down on your fabric or wool stash. The sale runs from now until the end of the year. Okay, now back to box moving.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Goodbye New York

Well, all good things must come to an end. One our way back to the hotel we stopped and admired the tree. Polly, me, and just about everyone in NYC with a camera decided to stop by tonight. Rockefeller Center is lovely, heartwarming, and corny all at the same time. We fly back home tomorrow morning with aching feet and a head full of ideas. It has been great and we always look forward to our next trip. Now it is back to work. Thanks for indulging us, everyone - it's so much fun to share the pictures.

Laurie & Polly

Did We Miss Something?

After a fun, but exhausting day of sight seeing, we started on our way to Broadway to see White Christmas. Polly was smart enough to scoop up tickets to this show when we made our hotel reservation - months ago. My brilliant sister managed to get 2 tickets 3rd row center!!!!! It seems that while we were running around yesterday gathering inspiration, the rest of the city got a memo about the Christmas Tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. We did not. Our cab got stuck in gridlock as many streets were closed to traffic. Pedestrians swarmed the city. Out we jumped and started to the theatre on foot. I do not know HOW we made it on time. A Christmas miracle for sure. As we ran up the aisle to our seats (we were the last people let into the theatre) the orchestra started. Hurrah! What a great show. The picture above was taken at intermission of the stage. I hate to tell you that we were so close that I couldn't get the whole thing in. As fans or the original movie I can tell you that this is so much better! And.... we got snowed on during the finale! Perfection.
This was the scene in Times Square as we walked back to the hotel. The tables and chairs are situated around the new Half Price Tickets booth. TaTa
Laurie & Polly

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New York - Day 2

Yes, these are peonies in December at Dean and Delucca. We stopped in this morning on our way to some appointments. The pastries were almost as beautiful. This shop in Soho is inspiring too.
After business and hours of walking we came upon Gemma in the Bowery. It's a lovely european cafe and a nice spot to watch the world go by. This is the delicious concoction of a rustic apple tart with olive oil gelato. It sounded so interesting we had to order it. Boy, I tell you.... this alone is worth a trip to the city.

Next we headed over to Chelsea and visited the City Quilter. This is a must stop. Lots and lots of fabric and inspiration. Polly is checking out this display of American Primer. We didn't even have to bribe them to display it so nicely : )

Here are some more of City Quilter's wares.

Finally over to Macy's to check the windows and decorations. This is the entranceway.

On the first floor in cosmetics they had the Waterford crystal ball that drops in Time Square on New Years Eve.

We love the decorations at Macy's.

More tomorrow........

The City That Never Sleeps

Dinner Last night was fabulous! We went to Tao. Tao of Page Six fame and the hot spot for all those young people. Our food was fantastic and the decor is awesome - a 50 foot Buddha among the diners for example. There were many young people out mingling - but us, the sedate white hairs just dined and watched. Polly and I recommend and it will be on our list to visit again. Alas, no photos of the Buddha survived. Above, this was our view on our after dinner walk. They will light the Christmas tree tonight and we will do our best to get a photo of it for you people (after the show). Our final stop was to the Rainbow Room to get a late night jolt of caffeine and this view of the Empire State Building. We are now off to some appointments and more window shopping. TaTa
Laurie & Polly

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New York Eye Love You

On the way from Ralph's to our favorite eyeglass shop, we came across this window. Vintage Bakelite jewelry sure is a show stopper. It is things like this that can inspire a color palette for our next collection. We shall see....... Next on to Trapp Optical where they have funky, unusual and stop you in your tracks specs. We picked out our next frames when a new Rx is due. I picked "off the rack." Polly is having some specially crafted! Yes, we are eyeglass divas.


Polly and Laurie do NYC!

Polly and I are in New York - the city that never sleeps. We have some appointments tomorrow, but today was a day of window shopping and that mystical mojo thing called "getting inspiration." We walked miles and miles up and down Lexington and Madison avenues and stopped at our Mecca - Ralph Lauren. Five floors of wonderful colors, textures and style. This is Ralph's front door. How can you not want to go Christmas shopping?

We are now on our way to dinner. More later.......


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Home Sewn

Are you familiar with Kaari Meng and her fantastic shop, website, blog, and book? Well, the book is pictured above. Polly and I came across at Quilt Market and immediately fell in love with it. It is filled with EASY projects that will adorn your home and make it look as fabulous as her store - French General (I wish!). There are lovely little projects that can be made quickly and will look chic and can pass for antique. Kaari is a designer, collector, and maven of all things French and vintage. The fabrics she designs with and stocks in her store are to die for. Lovely worn linens (real linen, people!) and hemp and Toiles and much, much, more. Her blog is The Warp and the Weft, and the French General's website is someplace you can get lost for an afternoon.

Here is a little something I whipped up with her fantastic directions in Home Sewn. I have graduated from pillows to ottoman slipcovers. Please don't scrutinize it too closely, as it grew a bit during construction. This was NOT the fault of the wonderful Home Sewn directions!

And.....more exciting than the slipcover..... Kaari will design for Moda next year under the French General's name!! I cannot wait to see this collection. There will be both fabrics and home products. We haven't met Kaari yet, but we know she must be as cool as her stuff.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am making out my grocery list for the feast. It will be a small one this year as it will be just Bill and I and the critters. All the family will be gathering for Christmas this year so the November feast is more low key. While we might be tempted to simplify it a bit since it is just us..... a turkey is still in the cards. Lorelei, my step-daughter (who will be here for Christmas) is a big fan of my Turkey Corn Chowder. It has become a ritual for the last few years that when she arrives here from the airport at Christmas - a warm bowl will be waiting for her. Of course, to make Turkey Corn Chowder, you have to make Turkey stock. To make Turkey stock you must roast a turkey... hence the full turkey dinner for Bill and I. As soon as we clear the kitchen, the turkey carcass (I wish there was a better word for it...) goes into the stock pot. Three hours later I have my stock. Once that is made and into the freezer - the soup is a breeze. Here's hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday. Laurie

Turkey Stock

Turkey carcass of a 10-12 lb bird
2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 1 cup hot water
1/2 cup white wine - optional
1 large onion, chunked
1 medium leek, cleaned and chunked - white part only
2 celery stalks, chunked
1 carrot cut into thirds
3 fresh parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large, heavy pot, add all the ingredients and fill with water to just cover. Bring to a boil. Skim off foam and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off the heat and let cool. Strain and discard solids. Use the broth immediately or freeze for future use.

Turkey Corn Chowder

4 slices bacon
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups cubed potatoes
2 cups cubed turkey
1 can (8 oz.) kernel corn
1 can (8 oz.) creamed corn
3 cups turkey stock
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

In a dutch oven, fry the bacon until it is crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Crumble and set aside. Drain half the fat out of the pan. Add the onion to the dutch oven and saute, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the turkey, corn, creamed corn, half and half, pepper and basil. Heat thoroughly and serve. Garnish each bowl with the crumbled bacon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I spent the morning at Kerrytown. It is a shopping district in Ann Arbor that holds within it's boundaries: Zingerman's, The Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, Vintage 2 Vogue, Sparrow Meat Market, Found, and many more wonderful shops. I did a little pre-holiday shopping in the Farmer's Market.The wonderful produce and wares, along with the crisp weather certainly put me in the holiday mood.

Next, I wandered into Found. Found is a great little shop that has antiques and artist made trinkets. Polly and I have found many things there that have inspired us, and have decorated our booth at market with Found treasures. They too were decked out in the holiday mood this morning.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Have Quilts, Will Travel

Last night I did a lecture/trunk show at the Plymouth Piecemakers Quilt Guild in Plymouth Michigan. There was very little lecture and more emphasis on the trunk show - which is how I like it. The more quilts I can show - the less I have to expound about myself. The Ladies and Gentlemen of Plymouth were warm, hospitable, and terrific quilters. Thanks again folks! I like to do trunk shows that are an easy drive. I can load up the SUV and show lots of quilts. This back of the Ford Escape was packed (and I only brought about half of what I have). As usual, most of the questions were about that magical, mystical place in Dallas called Moda Fabrics. Yes, it is as wonderful as you imagine it to be - even better! Polly and I are forever indebted to Moda, for no other reason than it is the ultimate ice breaker. Tell a room full of women that you design for Moda Fabrics and you are the belle of the ball. Thanks Moda. One of the questions I was asked last night is "Where do you store your quilts?" Well, it is now time to unpack and put them back into storage - which for me is the bed in the guest room. The quilts will be stacked "Princess and the Pea" style with over 100 quilts in the stack. So, if anyone has the idea of visiting here in Ann Arbor - a little prep time is required.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Update

We have had an early taste of winter here in the Midwest. This is our first snowfall of the year. The precipitation is meager, but it's a start. Yes, it's terrible to drive in and it means the utility bills will start to go up, but I still love snow. This Sunday is low key and contemplative. Bill is at hockey practice and I have an audio book playing while I try to come up with a quilt design. The design process is not flowing freely today. It is fighting me at every turn. As soon as I sit down at the drafting table, a new task occurs to me and I am off on another household chore/stall tactic. It's like that sometimes. Once in awhile the new ideas fall out of my head at such a speed you think they will never stop; and sometimes it's like today. Oh well. My next chore/stall tactic is to make a pot of tea. Lots of caffeine I think. Polly is in Southern California teaching a rug hooking workshop. The workshop is going great and she is enjoying herself, but the wildfires have everyone concerned. I hope they will soon be under control.

Oh, I can recommend the latest audio books that I have on loan from the library. They are "Case Studies" and "One Good Turn" by Kate Atkinson. Wonderfully written novels about private investigator Jackson Brodie who solves layered and convoluted mysteries in Scotland. NOT your average whodunit. I am on the waiting list for the next installment. I can't wait.

I'm going to start the tea and get back to work. Here's hoping your day, and work, is flowing freely.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pillow Update

Here are a couple more pillows I made for the sofa in the family room. This is where I do most of my work, assuming it is handwork. Usually it is. The pillows were not. I still have 3 pillows to finish but they will have to wait. It seems that the local chain store (which shall remain NAMELESS!) is out of upholstery zippers and has been for 2 weeks. They also have no idea if, or when they will get them in. Online upholstery store to the rescue. I only visit the chain stores as a last resort and experiences like this are the reason why - that and the quality of the merchandise. We in the quilting world are so lucky to have so many wonderful fabric stores to patronize. Great one-of-a-kind stores that don't have to consult "corporate" to see if they can get some more zippers!! Oh well, enough theatrics. Next on my "to-do" list today is some design work and then tonight some stitching on the newly pillowed sofa while watching some good movies. Do you like my new wagon stitching caddy? (Well, it's new to me) It is filled with my sewing boxes and remote controls and audio books. What more can a person ask for? Hoping you will have a good day that includes some stitching.


Blog Archive