Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Making Yogurt At Home Even Easier

As I told you in this post, Making Yogurt from 2012 I've been making my own yogurt for more than 30 years.  I've always been something of a whole foods/back to nature kinda gal and when I had a family of three growing boys to feed we went through a lot of yogurt. It would be nothing to make two or three quarts a week using a rather laborious method involving the pilot light of my gas oven and overnight incubation in a water bath. With just Chris and me at home we probably eat about one quart a week and about half a quart of keifer per week in our smoothies.
 Here's my new toy. A Yogourmet electric yogurt maker. Instead of the seven small jars my old yogurt maker used it comes with a two quart plastic container. That's it on the left. That would probably be too much for us to make at one time but it would be ideal for a larger family. Instead of the two quart container I use a one quart mason jar - perfect for us.
The Yogourmet holds the yogurt at the perfect incubation temperature in a water bath until it's the thickness you like. The longer you incubate the thicker and tangier the yogurt will be. There's a recipe booklet that comes with it that explains the whole process and tons of web pages too for you to reference as well as my page. I got mine on Amazon for about $50, at that price it will pay for itself in no time. (I have no financial interest in this product. I'm just telling you what works for me.) 

The best yogurt making tip I ever got was not to use too much starter. One or two tablespoons of starter yogurt per batch is all you need. If you use too much you probably won't have enough milk for the good stuff to eat up and your yogurt will be runny/soupy instead of thick. Let me know if you make yogurt at home and what works for you.

Until next time,

Monday, June 29, 2015

Farm Girl Vintage On It's Way

I've made a good start on my Farm Girl Vintage project and I LOVE these little blocks!
I'm not gonna lie to you, the pieces for the 6" blocks are small and you do have to measure carefully and sew accurately. 
 But, the directions are excellent and I've had zero trouble so far. Of course, the very first block has 41 pieces! Best to get the hardest one over with right up front I guess. Just look at how great this 6" star turned out though.
Next up was the chick and that one was a breeze and so adorable. I want to make a whole little quilt with just these and one mama hen. There's a pattern for a hen in the book which we'll be making later on. Wouldn't that be cute?
I'll embroider the legs later. I was in a rush to move on to the mixing bowls block. Another cute block that was very easy to construct. First came the spoon.
Then the larger bowl was added.
What fun choosing just the right print for these. I'm so glad I went ahead and bought this fabric collection from Connecting Threads to add to my limited 30's print stash, now I feel like I have lots of options when picking out color combinations.
I may have only three blocks done so far and I may be weeks behind in this sew along but I'm having fun and looking forward to my time in the sewing room working on these. Isn't that what it's all about? If your considering joining me let's get moving. It's never too late to get started on something enjoyable.
Linking to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. Thanks to Judy for continuing to provide a forum for sharing quilty creativity.

Until next time,

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Butterflies Have Landed


The binding is waiting
The fabric search was a success. While I was unable to find the exact fabric I already had in my stash I'm happy with what I came up with.
I went from these small scale butterflies from my stash to these much larger beauties from EQuilter.com.
Of course the fabric was not printed straight in both directions so required some creative cutting and border manipulation but I like the end result.
Here it is with and without the border. I was tempted to leave off the border all together but decided that those larger butterflies gave it a more contemporary feel which I kind of liked.
Here she is basted and ready for quilting. I'll be hanging this in my blue and white guest bedroom.


Until next time,

Monday, June 22, 2015

Flutterbies

 My embroidery obsession continues. Before we left for San Diego and Eve's birthday party, before the visit from our son's family I had started on another embroidery project featuring the jewels of the summer garden  - butterflies. I love everything about butterflies but most especially their endless variety and color which makes them perfect subjects for machine embroidery. 
Isn't it amazing how the above stitching begins as what appears as tangled thread and ends as a wonderful, detailed butterfly?
Each of these butterfly designs uses between 20 and 26 colors of thread to complete the design. Lots of color changes and so I'm watching the machine like a hawk to avoid thread breakage and bobbin tangles.
Each design takes about two hours to stitch out and I've found that if I let my embroidery machine cool off a bit between stitch outs I get a better result over all so I usually do one design per day.
As these are stitching I'm planning which thread color I'll use next and using my notebook to sketch out an overall layout for the finished embroideries. I'm not a big fan of plopping them down in a grid and calling it a day. 
These butterflies are destined for a small wallhanging in a window box layout. I love the shadow box effect so far. Believe it or not after I had these all together I found the perfect border fabric in my stash just waiting to be used. I didn't even know it was there until I went looking for a border. 

Alas, there wasn't enough of it so you know what that means - an internet search. I'll show you the results of my quest next time.
What do you think? Should I have planned it all out before I started or do you design on the fly like me?
It's Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times let's go see what everyone else is working on.

Until next time,


 
*These are Amazing Designs Butterflies III & IV

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I've Got a Bee In My Bonnet


Even though I've been far too busy with family fun to spend any time in my sewing room that doesn't mean I haven't been dreaming of what I'd like to be creating. Blog pal Jeanna at Slammin' the Screen Door was posting such cute blocks from her Vintage Farm Girl sew along that she made me jealous and I had to see what the fuss was about.
Lori Holt is hosting this sewing bee at her blog Bee In My Bonnet  and as soon as I got a look at the happy blocks, projects and quilts she was showing I knew I had to jump in. My stash of 1930's fabrics is woeful so of course a little retail therapy at Connecting Threads was in order and I needed Lori's book as well.
At the time I ordered Connecting Threads was having a sale on this fabric line called  Nana's Pantry, perfect to fill in my vintage feel fabric gap. There are a few of these fabrics left at only $2.96/yd if you grab them right now! I have bought fabric from Connecting Threads many times before and I've never been disappointed.
Just take a look at these cute prints and geometrics in fun colors.
While I was at it I also stocked up on some 10" squares of batiks which were also on sale. But I digress. Squirrel!
OK Jeanna, I have my fabric, I have my book, I'm all set! Ready to dive in just as soon as I have a free moment. I sure hope I'm not too far behind to catch up on the fun.
What summer sewing do you have planned? Want to join Jeanna and me?
By the way I have absolutely no affiliation with Connecting Threads (I just like them) or Lori Holt (I'd just love to meet her some day).

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting Back Into the Groove

It's been two weeks since my last post! Any time I'm absent from the blog for that long it can be hard to get back into writing posts posts for some reason. I suppose like anything else blog posting is a discipline, kind of like exercise for the mind. Even if you enjoy it which I do, it can be hard to get back into the groove. You can be sure that if I've been absent from blog land for that amount of time it involves family fun so I'll fill you in.
First - my second grandson Josiah graduated from high school! I can hardly believe it. How could this have happened so quickly? This is a prom picture taken from a friend's phone so not the best but you can clearly see that he is the only one of my seven grandchildren to have inherited my red hair! The evening of his graduation was quite dramatic. The ceremony was held on the football field and a sudden mountain storm blew in with thunder, lightening and torrential rain. All the attendees crowded into the gymnasium to much laughter and good natured joking waiting for the storm to pass and then we all trooped back out to the field to resume the event. It's a good thing he attends such a small school, his entire class was only 94 graduates or we could not have all squeezed into the gym. He'll be moving on to the University of Nevada at Reno in the Fall enrolled in the engineering program. We could not be prouder of the kind, thoughtful and genuine young man he has become.
Second - this little peanut turned one! Our youngest granddaughter Eve had a birthday and we definitely could not miss that! She is such a sweetpea, I can't believe an entire year has flown by since I was announcing her birth on this blog. She's a tiny bundle of energy and pure joy.
The moment we returned from Eve's birthday our oldest son and his family of five were here for a week long visit. Day hikes, lazy days at the lake, Candyland, Go Fish and dress-up occupied my days. 

Once the family hits the road there's a mountain of laundry to do and of course I must replenish the pantry. Man, can those kids eat! I love and treasure these times with family and don't even go near my computer while the little people are here. So... time to get back into the groove and I'm looking forward to climbing the stairs to my sewing room and picking up projects where I left off.

Until next time,

Monday, June 1, 2015

An Embroidered Rose

I'm still on an embroidery binge and enjoying every minute playing with thread. I'm completely mesmerized watching my color choices take shape. This time I'm using an applique element as well and while applique in the hoop can be a little tricky there are a few tips that can make things go more smoothly for you.
Absolutely essential is a good pair of scissors with a fine, sharp point. These little snips are the best I've found so far. The tips are super fine and curve slightly upward for a nice close trim. I've also found that starching the heck out of your applique fabric really helps. Floppy fabric just gets in the way. For intricate or small areas some folks use Steam-A-Seam Lite on their applique fabric and that works great too but I couldn't do that for this design because I had to cut away quite a bit of the trellis after it was stitched so starching it was my best option.
Here's the applique after the satin stitch has been added. As you can see having those sharp scissors to cut good and close pays off in a really clean finish.
Once the entire design has been stitched out including the edge finish and the trellis fill it can come out of the hoop.
I use a towel on my ironing board and lightly steam press this upside down to remove hoop marks and keep the stitching from sinking too much.
This is another design from San Francisco Stitch Co. Seasonal Mug Rugs collection that I'll be using as wall art.
One last tip: Don't forget to clean your machine. Whether your embroidering or straight up sewing that machine gets dirty and needs some attention. I clean mine after every embroidery project and my sewing machine with every bobbin change. Too much you say? You be the judge. This is my sewing machine from one bobbin to the next. I was sewing on fleece in this instance but still.

It's Design Wall Monday, you know what's on my wall what's on yours?

Until next time,