Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

 Just look what I discovered taking over the garden when I returned from my travels - Rhubarb! I love this stuff but I've discovered over the years that when I mention it people either love it, hate it or have never heard of it. My Aunt Sissy called it pie plant and we always looked forward to the rhubarb as the first spring plant from the garden that we could harvest and make into something yummy. Perhaps your only encounter with rhubarb has been with the ubiquitous strawberry rhubarb jam which is actually my least favorite way to eat rhubarb. I like my rhubarb on the tart side and I detest the addition of strawberry jello in anything so most SR jam recipes leave me cold.

You can see the gorgeous red of the stalks is only skin deep and the color disappears when they're cooked so if you see rhubarb desserts that are pink or red you can bet that food coloring or some other fruit has been added. This is not necessarily a bad thing just wanted you to know.

This is what I chose to make with my first rhubarb of the season. Delicious Rhubarb Crumb Bars. Crunchy on the top and bottom with a sweet tart rhubarb filling. Since I also picked up fresh strawberries from a roadside stand on the drive home I decided to top my bars off with sweet chopped strawberry goodness. Perfect! You can eat yours plain or with ice cream.

Rhubarb Crumb Bars makes 20-24
recipe adapted from Favorite Recipes From Quilters by Louise Stoltzfus
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sour your rhubarb is and how tart you like it you may need more sugar, you should give it a taste after it’s cooked for a bit and adjust the sugar accordingly.)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crust: Combine all ingredients until crumbly. I used my food processor. Be sure that your butter is really cold in this step. No need to make the crumbs too fine the size of small peas is about right but if they end up smaller don’t fret. You could even use your hands and rub the butter into the dry ingredients in this step.
Pat half of crust mixture into lightly greased 13x9" baking pan (I use cooking spray for this step) and reserve the rest for the top.
In saucepan combine rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and water.
Cook over medium low heat until juices form and filling starts to thicken.
Blend in vanilla.
Pour over crust.
Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes.

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the whipped cream!

Until next time,

Friday, April 11, 2014

April Photo Challenge - Macro Shots

I love this challenge! I've been playing around with macro shots for a long time and love the challenge of trying to capture the up close and personal. I've always been drawn to tiny details and I have several paintings in my home which feature those kinds of details rather than the big picture. Of course, most of my macro shots are of flowers! It was hard to choose just three I have sooooo many. Perfect subjects for close up details right? And they can't object that you're taking too long to set up!


I was so happy with this picture when I took it over four years ago! It's been my computer wallpaper for quite a while. I used my Cyber Shot camera on the macro setting and that's it. What a great little camera, I was sad when it died I can tell you. No enhancement on this at all. I love the shadow of the bee's wing on the flower.


Another flower picture for you. We have dogwoods in bloom right now here on Dogwood Lane so this is a treat after a cold winter. I was standing in the rain to take this picture and hoping that the wind would die down for just a minute! I bumped up the exposure a tiny bit and sharpened it a little using PicMonkey. The heart of the dogwood blossom, a cluster of flowers within a flower.


I'm a quilter so I'm obsessed with stitching and I'm passing along my obsession to you. I don't think you can fully appreciate why I took this picture unless you see the entire work so I must break the three photo rule and include photo number four of the complete stitched piece. This will be your fiber eye candy for the day.

Circle the Date by Libby Lehman
I was fortunate enough to take a quilting class with Libby Lehman in 2010 and found her to be a fun and gracious teacher. Since that time she has suffered a catastrophic stroke and is working hard on her recovery. I wish her nothing but the best as she is a wonderful fiber artist and generous person.

Can't wait to see what others are using for their close up/macro challenge shots this month. Be sure to click on the button in my side bar and check out all the other photographers who I assure you are far more talented than I. I'm learning so much by studying their work.

A Personal Photo Challenge

Until next time,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not The Iliad But Certainly An Odyssey!

As you all have probably figured out by now I have been on another one of my walk-a bouts. Two weeks of travel all over the state of California visiting family and friends, attending a baby shower, working a health clinic and playing with grand kids. Chris stayed home for the first part of my journey to take care of the homestead and the animals and then he drove to meet me and work the health clinic with me. The two of us have covered a lot of ground in the last two months and I don't mind admitting I'm pretty tired and ready to stay home for a while.

By Nserrano (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

First stop for me was Los Angeles the land where I was raised and where most of our family and friends still reside. Our oldest son and his family live outside L.A. and so I get to be Mimi while I'm here too. I was so happy and excited to be attending the baby shower for my God Daughter Katie and she loved the ruffle flannel quilt I made for her little boy due in just two more weeks.

Of course whenever I'm visiting the home place I squeeze in as much time with friends as I can but there's never as much time as I would like to see everyone. We'll be back in the summer for a family anniversary party and a Dowell Family reunion is planned for late summer so I'm not worried about the clan, I know we'll be gathering soon.

By Andrew Garrett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris met me for the next stop, Coachella Valley - the California desert outside Palm Springs, to work in a four day health clinic sponsored by California Care Force. You can click on the link to find out more about the organization and what the clinic accomplished. We worked two days of the four day event. I'm not as young as I used to be and find I just can't stay on my feet that many days in a row an more. (sigh*)

On to San Diego to see our youngest son and his family. His daughter Paige will be two years old in June and will be receiving a baby sister as a birthday gift. She would probably rather have a puppy, we'll see how all that plays out. In the mean time I get to be Grammy and share bath time and story time and play dollies. Her new obsession is changing diapers on all her babies and we went through a lot of diapers while I was there - sorry mom! 

Did you notice that each of my sets of grand kids call me by a different name? Don't know how that started but I have to keep track of where I am and answer to the correct name depending on household. Hope when I'm gone they'll all know who they're talking about when they talk about me!

It's so hard to say good-bye to all my sweet babies but I am glad to be sleeping in my own bed. For those of you who may be wondering it's an 11 hour drive from San Diego to Georgetown, that's with necessary rest stops only, no meals. We stagger in like a couple of drunks and kiss the ground of our driveway when we finally make it home I can tell ya and we vow to NEVER do it again. But then we always do because we miss our kids and love our grand kids and we always have fun when we're with them. I'm done with laundry, I've picked up the dogs from the boarding kennel (they were not best pleased about their little vacay) and I'm ready to settle into the spring chores. So tell me, what's been going on with all of you?

Until next time,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Coffee & Chocolate Palate Cleanser

I really needed something a little less sweet to work on after an entire month of baby quilts so I rummaged around in the scrap bin and found these bits left over from this quilt I made two years ago for DIL Liz from the pattern Strips With a Twist by Patti Henderson offered at our local quilt shop which is now out of business.

These fabrics are pretty far from baby and I love the rich browns and contrasting black. I don't have anything left of this fabric but what you see. It looks like enough to make a table runner with the addition of some border fabric if I can find something to blend. I searched for a contrast in color but something that would match the mood of these slightly off beat fabrics.

Found it in the batik bin! I like mixing batiks with regular cottons although others might think it's a no no. The quilt police are on a lunch break today so here goes.

The biggest concern I have is that I have only one yard of this batik which if I measure oh so carefully will just squeak by for the borders and backing. Which do you think is best - the 3" top border or the 2" bottom border? It's not really a fair question because I went with the 3" border all the way around even though it made my squeaking by thing so much harder!

I have the perfect variegated thread to quilt it! Isn't that gorgeous? You know how I love me some variegated thread and I'm using it in the top and bobbin. 

That's as far as I've gotten for this Design Wall Monday but I feel pretty refreshed after this taste of coffee and chocolate. What have you been up to this week? Check out other designs at Judy's Patchwork Times. 

Until next time,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Twilight Miracles

After all, I don't see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The blossoms flicker in the twilight like fairy lanterns. They seem to float without anchor, magical and ethereal. So delicate that a touch on a perfect white petal will turn it brown, so for a moment the forest gives us this pristine wonder.

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Baby Quilt But No Barn

Val's Quilting Studio
Tuesday Archives #4: Baby & Barns

Val picked baby quilts and barn quilts from the way back machine this week, see what I did there Peabody and Sherman fans? I don't have any barn quilts but I certainly have baby quilts in the archives. When I read through the older posts though I was disappointed that the posts were sketchy at best so I decided to write a new post about my favorite baby quilt project from two years ago.

This Peter Rabbit quilt made for my grand daughter Paige was sewn with so much love. I machine embroidered the blocks with characters from Beatrix Potter's stories and used fabrics I'd been saving for years for just this project. 

These stories were favorites of my son when he was young and I wanted to make them part of his daughter's memories too.

Paige will be 2 years old this June and will also be a big sister by the time her birthday rolls around. I hope her Peter Rabbit quilt will always remind her how special she is to me.

Be sure to follow the link and see everyone's baby quilts and I'm sure there will be some barns too!

Until next time,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Whooooo's In the Sewing Room?

I'm happy to report that would be me! I gladly took myself upstairs on Saturday to work on arranging and sewing together my embroidered baby animals in pajamas blocks. When last you all saw them they looked like this...

My original idea was to sew them together with a sashing of 1 1/2 inch solid squares but the more I worked on that the more blah the whole thing felt. Those little squares were just so distracting and busy. Not at all what I wanted. Out came the seam ripper and with some re-imagining on the design wall this is what I came up. Now this owly little darling is a flimsy!

Much cleaner and more contemporary looking I think. Now days nurseries tend to be a lot less cutsy so I think my DIL will appreciate this design better as it tones down the babyishness (I know that's not a word but it's what I want to say) of the whole thing. I have no trouble arranging them asymmetrically but I know some people just can't do it. Where do you stand, can you put those blocks off center or not?

This green polka dot is from my stash and will be perfect for the binding! Shop your stash there's great stuff in there waiting to be rediscovered. I have a wonderful soft white minky for the backing or maybe a fleece. The girls at Needle Nellies at our Wednesday meeting will help me decide.

That's it for Design Wall Monday. What have you been up to?
Linking to Michelle's Romantic Tangle, Let's Make Baby Quilts Challenge

Until next time,