Monday, January 28, 2013

Design Wall Monday, January 28, 2013

2013... I've been mulling it over, for a while now.

Night before last, I sat down and really focused on what I'd like to get accomplished this year, craft-wise.  Mostly, I'll be making gifts, many gifts (HUGE family!)  One item I want to give is a Christmas/ birthday present to my son in August.  I knit 7 modern red/green/off-white stockings for their family, and I want to give them a tree-skirt & table runner to match.... but NO WAY would I put something knit in wool under a LIVE tree... so I'm sewing it.

Two of ten panels
Hmm... photo is a bit fuzzy & deep forest green appears black.  My sewing room is a hard place to get accurate photos.  At any rate, I've sewn all 10 panels; I have sewn panel one to two and panel three to panel 4.  Last night I cut the freezer paper templates to sew the rest of the panels into pairs.  I love how it looks in person, not so much in the photo.  This pattern (mentioned before) is included in the book: French Braid Obsession by Jane Hardy Miller.  If you look at customer images, I think there are a couple examples of what the whole pattern will look like.

See what others are working on over at Judy's Patchwork Times.
Thanks for stopping by! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stash Report Week 4 2013

I have fabric... not sure what I was thinking when I bought most of it.  It's getting old, my tastes have changed.  I see scrappy quilts in my future... but 2013 is planned.

In an effort to "stop the madness" I'm tracking 2013's ins & outs.  I'm following Judy Laquidara's system in 2013.  So there's no attempt to record beginning stash, the numbers will be increased by purchases and decreased by COMPLETED projects. This is my first post, so I'll chat about year to date activity.

Used this week: 0
Used year to date: 0
Added this week: 0
Added year to date: 3.7 yards
Net increase in 2013: 3.7 yards

I am in two blocks of the month, so I included those fabrics (completed the blocks too, but as the quilts are not completed, they don't count as used yet.)  I purchased a little over a half a yard to complete the star backgrounds in the quilt I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

The bulk of my additions are these:

In a moment of weakness, I bought a grab bag from Homestead Hearth.  I learned of it from Kathie at Inspired by Antique Quilts.  The service from Homestead was great.  I feel I got a good value; there were numerous fabrics at least 3 inches by the width of fabric.  In the photos the fabrics are folded to show the variety.  I love that there were so many neutrals. I've already used 4 pieces in an applique project and am glad to have the variety.  I also imagine using them in a "leader-ender" tumbler block project using my reproduction fabrics.  I have plenty!

At the risk of becoming an enabler, they also have other categories of grab bag fabrics.  It was funny though that after Kathie posted about the grab bags expected delivery went from a couple of days to a couple of weeks!

In an effort to estimate how much fabric was included, I weighed a one yard piece of quilt shop quality fabric from my stash.  I also weighed my new fabric... using this methodology I figure I added just over 2.75 yards.  

Hmm... now I do have quilts in progress to complete and I have a plan, but if I don't get those buggers completed, I'll add a net of 48 yards in 2013; best get to sewing!

Thanks for stopping by and happy stitching.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Design Wall Monday 2013 Jan 14

Judy, over at Patchwork Times has a great link-up for folks to show what they are working on.

As part of my 2013 goals, I want to complete projects from the past... aka UFO's, WIP etc... whatever, they are not completed.  I've noted the biggest source of my UFO's began as classes or local(ish) stores' Blocks of the Month (BoM) programs.  I'm in two that began in 2012.  One at Sew Original in Winston-Salem, NC and one at Sew Much Fun Quilt shop which is technically in Lowell, NC, about 1.75 hours away. (For those who know NC, it is about 2 miles from Mary Jo's Fabric Shop in Gastonia. It is also very close to Ikea etc in the BIG city of Charlotte, NC... lots of reasons to go there...)

Saturday, I drove down to pick up the patterns and fabrics.  Sunday, I worked on them.  (Hmm, photo has weird angle.  I was standing on a chair in my office.  It's too dark in my room at home for photos since it's rained all day.)  At any rate, this photo includes one of each months' patterns through month 9; we make two blocks a month. I've chosen to use the same fabric for all the star points Robert Kaufman's Picnic Basics.  Boy I do love this fabric.  Then I'm using red or blue for scrappy backgrounds; they'll finish at 12" square.  I plan on making a large solid star for the center block and adding sashing and cornerstones. I'll end up with a 25 block square picnic quilt. (Hmm, that's a LOT of white for a picnic quilt!)

The shop provides 2.5" WOF strips for the solid center red and white fabrics, plus the first month we purchased Thangles to  use.  Frankly, I'm not a fan; seems like your accuracy should be great, but mine is better not using Thangles... plus, it feels like extra work.  The 2.5# strips from the shop have to be perfect (some have not been) and the paper complicates pinning and sewing for me.  I think I'll start cutting the half square triangle parts using Bonnie Hunter's method  Video tutorial for using Easy Angle rulers.  Tho her tutorial is for flying Geese, the cutting directions work with half square triangle cutting too.

At any rate, one of my January 2013 goals is to get caught up with and complete the quilt made in this block of the month.  I didn't make the trip to Gastonia in December, so I was behind, blocks 9 were December.  I hope to complete blocks 10 this week, which will give me 20 blocks.  That will mean I am caught up.  I plan to visit my grand-daughter who is in college at UNC-Charlotte the last week-end of the month, so I'll pick up February's blocks then.  This month, I may even complete all the back-ground piecing for the last four blocks in the series as well as begin on the sashing and cornerstones. 

Thanks for stopping by... I love to see what others are working on, so follow the link above.  And THANKS to Judy who finds so many ways to keep us motivated & on track.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's Cooking with Judy? Sweet Potatoes

One of our in-laws once said of our family "When most families go on vacation, they take their fancy clothes... the Duggers take their kitchens!"  Yep, it's true.  We all love to cook, share food and fun.  However, I am not a big fan of cooking for one.  Still, one of my 2013 resolutions is to cook more at home, so I signed right up with the "What's Cooking 2013" plan developed by Judy over at Patchwork Times (that link takes you to her post as we set up a practice run.) 

Our pre 2013 challenge ingredient was "Sweet Potatoes."  A fabulously versatile (and I fear under utilized powerhouse of a vege.)  So here's my go:
First, Sam's Club had a special, but they are quite small for Sweet Potatoes, about half sized (see the nickle?) 
I decided to adapt a recipe that is ubiquitous on the net:  a 2005 Epicurious Thyme Sweet Potatoes.  Many reviews and my own experience indicate the potatoes often burn on the bottom.

So I changed it... I peeled 2 of the 3 potatoes and cut them into wedges.  I only used 1 Tablespoon of Olive oil, but greased my pan with butter (next time I'll cut back on the oil.)  2 large cloves of garlic very thinly sliced; in winter the cloves are usually older so I always remove the sprouts from the centers.  See the sprout on the blade of my knife?

For seasonings:  @ 1/2 tsp each: crushed red pepper and ground Chipotle Chili pepper; @ 1/4 tsp Cumin, a couple of generous pinches of sea salt, and @ half a Tablespoon of fresh Thyme leaves.

This is how it looked before putting it in a preheated 425 degree oven for about half an hour (middle shelf.)  I thought my stone casserole dish would make them brown better, but no.  Next time, I'll just spread out on a large flat pan.  I ended up having to broil for a minute or so at the end to crisp them up some.

Here's how they looked after cooking.... yummy, yummy!

Definitely will cook these again.  The original recipe says they can be eaten warm or at room temperature; even with my changes this is still true.

To find other great Sweet Potato recipes... check out Judy's link up!

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Beginnings... and January 2013 Goals...

Judy, over at Patchwork Times has started a new motivational link up on her blog...  Patchwork Times "Getting It Done"

At the end of each month, we'll link up with a list of 4 quilty things we want to complete in the next month and report on our progress during the month.  This sounds pretty good to me.  So in January, at a minimum I want to complete these quilty things: 

1.)  Get caught up on Sew Much Fun's Block of the month.  It uses Thangles and they provide the red and white fabric strips used in the center; we provide the star points and backgrounds.  Hear is a photo of part of the sample (sorry, not great.)   The store is in Gastonia, NC, about an hour and a half away from me, so I don't get there each month.  At any rate, I have November's block and need to complete it as well as pick up & complete December 2012 & January 2013.  For those who know North Carolina and the infamous Mary Jo's Cloth Store... Sew Much Fun is only 5 minutes from Mary Jo's!

2.) Figure out quilting design for a throw for my son and get it basted.  It is @ 70"x70." I plan to quilt this on my domestic machine... with a 6.5" throat....!?! 

Whoa??? what happened to the color?  The yellowish color is really olive, the blues are really teals.  Hopefully this image will be more true.  The fabric is Sandy Gervais' Tranquility line (an oldie 2008 I finally used up.)  The Pattern is from the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam Lintott and Nicky Lintott.

3.) Make the freezer paper templates to assemble my Christmas Tree skirt made using a pattern from the book French Braid Obsession.  (Sorry no photos.)

4.)Complete the final 5 blocks of the star quilt top for my grandson.  (Again, no photos.)

My non-quilty (but blog related) goal is to IMPROVE photos... geez Louise there is MUCH room for improvement!

So, thanks Ms. Judy from Patchwork Times for hosting this motivational tool for us for 2013.  Happy New Year everyone... may your stitches never skip and your needles never break!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Long time no see....

Boy, this has been a year... too much, too many.  Perhaps one day I'll write about some of it, but for now, I'll start where I am....

COOKING!  Yep, I love to cook for others (not so excited about cooking meals for one tho.)  So this time of year lends itself to sharpening the knives and filling the freezer.

Our family includes some vegetarians... and others who have been vegetarians; I love that food too.

My sister likes my vegetarian southern cornbread dressing, so I make it for her each winter holiday. 

Now, one issue I have had is that most commercial vegetable stock tastes thin, no complexity and often too sweet.  So lately, I have been experimenting.  I don't have a recipe for you, but I can tell you the process I've been using.

Isn't that just lovely?  The process takes a while, but is not labor intensive.

I start by roasting the veges in the oven.  I put a little olive oil on the chunked veges and spread them out as flat as I can in a large roaster... 12"x15"x 2-3" works great.  I do not line it as I'll deglaze it after the veges roast.  I use an oven temperature between 325 degrees and 425 and periodically turn the veges.  Usually, I am roasting something else, so I just stick it in at whatever temp the other dish requires.  (Hmm, I didn't decide to post on my blog until I was past all these parts, so I neglected to get photos.) 

I cook them until the veges are browned and some juices have begun to caramelize.  I transfer the roasted veges to a large pot and fill with water, put it on simmer & let it cook away.  I add some liquid to the roasting pan, deglaze it and add to the simmering pot. 

Often, I am continuing to cook, so I throw vege scraps in as it cooks.  Sometimes, I need to add water, but I try not to do that too often as it may thin out the flavor. 

Now, as to veges.  I clean them well, but also use parts one would not put into a dish... onion skins, celery tops etc.  I'll chunk cut: 3 whole onions,7-8 carrots peeled (or not), 7-8 outer celery stalks with tops, tops from the more tender green/white celery stalks that I use in other dishes, 3-4 parsnips or however many I have, whole cloves of garlic including their skin, sometimes 7-8 smallish tomatoes, a handful of Italian parsley along with stems (usually not roasted, but added to simmering pot).  If I have them, I add potatoes in their scrupulously cleaned jackets.  Also, if they are on hand, I add mushroom trimmings or whole ones if I need to use them up.  One vegetable I always include now is turnip, two or three small to medium (peeled lest they have been waxed.)  The celery, parsley and turnips balance out the sweet of the onions and carrots, and they add complexity.

I use what I have on hand.  I don't use bad produce of course and try to not use older veges, but occasionally have included carrots I would not have served raw and the broth was still wonderful.  When I used those older carrots, I included some fresh ones too.

In the future, I'd like to add kale to the simmering broth and see what happens then.

Up to this point, I have avoided veges in the brassica family: cabbage, brussel sprouts etc.  Some of my research sources recommended leaving these out.  Once I used rutabaga... I wasn't fond of that broth, but perhaps it wasn't the rutabaga's fault so I may try it again.

I let it cook for a while, atleast several hours.  I partly cover it to reduce the amount of evaporation.  I cut off the burner & let it cool, meanwhile removing the spent veges with an oriental open wire mesh course skimmer:
12 inch Bamboo Handled Coarse Skimmer I use a large flat wooden spoon to mush the veges to extract as much juice as I can.  Compost the veges.  Allow to fully cool, pour through a fine wire strainer and/or cheese cloth.  If I am not using immediately, I freeze it in useful portions; otherwise, just refrigerate.  If I have to stop mid process, I'll remove the veges & store them separately, recombining when I continue the process.  I think this guards against bitterness.

So far, I have avoided adding salt and herbs (other than the parsley), but I plan to add thyme and bay leaf in the future, plus experiment with when and how much salt to add.

I hope this is helpful!  It really is such a simple process, and so natural when one is already cooking.  Experiment!

Happy holidays!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alea's Quilt

Late in June, my sister mentioned that Thally (her step daughter) wanted to use Zinnia colors in the nursery for Alea, her first born, expected in early October.  So I decided to make her a simple little quilt.  I neglected to get a photo when it was completed, but this gives you idea. 
Hopefully, my sister can get a photo for me of the finished top.  We had a shower for Thally August 12 and she was so sweet and delighted by all the hulla-baloo.  And we did have a grand time... lots of folks, fun decorations, tons of super delicious food, and a lovely sweet time when we all gathered and each one slowly, gently, lovingly spoke to Thally from their heart dear warm words.  Many gave her a bead to be put on a bracelet for her to remember by. Family who could not come sent their loving words ahead of time, and so we could read them to her.  Many in attendance had also written something for her.  There were several poems and prayers.  All the written messages were put into a scrapbook for her to take with her and as she gathers cards and other mementos, she can add them. 
It was a another wonderful gathering of family and friends which has deepened our relationships.  I love our family!