Monday, February 27, 2012

Design Wall Monday

 We have a new grand baby due this summer and I'm so excited to get started on making cuddly things for our little one. I saw a flannel rag quilt on Pinterest that looked so much easier and less fussy than any I had seen before so I decided to give it a whirl. Here's the finished product.


This came out so soft and comfy. The finished size is 59" x 38" a nice lap size to cover mommy and baby in the rocker. Here's how I did it:
You need about 2 3/4 yds each of backing, middle and front fabric. I used the same backing and middle and different front fabrics. I used fabric from my stash so it's hard for me to tell you exactly how much to get. From backing and middle fabrics cut 12, 5" strips wof and 9, 3" strips wof. From your top fabrics cut the same number of 5" and 3" wof strips mixing up your colors any way you want. That's a total of 21 backing strips, 21 middle strips and 21 top strips.
Here are mine. The yellow is the backing, the white dot is the middle and assorted colors for the top. I used a thinner flannel for the middle and nothing fancy since it's not going to show.
Now it's time to layer these together. Backing face down, middle face up, top face up. Before you put the top piece on press a line down the center of each one. This will help with the quilting later. We need to anchor these strips together and this is the fun part for sure. Instead of just sewing a boring straight line down the middle why not use all those fancy stitches just waiting for you on that super wonderful sewing machine of yours? Don't know how? Me either, so I did the radical thing and got out the BOOK.
 And look it explains the whole thing right there! Wow, I never read that thing unless I jam something.









I used just about every fancy stitch I have and I figured out how to make words too, with variegated thread! What's next, applique?
Remember that pressed center line?


"Mimi loves you" - that's me!
Now sew your strips together back to back with a 1/2" seam. Sew all around the outside edge with 1/2" seam as well. I used a triple stitch around the outside I found on my machine used for jeans. I figure those will get the most wear. Time to clip every 1/2" or so. I just used my thumb as a guide. Be careful not to get too close to those threads or you may be doing some re-sewing. Wash and dry and you're done.

Now that I know how to sew words on things I may add them to everything
Thanks to Megan at Do It Yourself Divas for her awesome tutorial which got me started on this idea.

Don't forget the other design walls at Judy's place.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quilt Show Season

It's quilt show season here in the foothills and the shows are coming right on top of each other. I've missed quite a few this year so far but last weekend my friend Jeannie and I managed to get it together and haul ourselves to the Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guild Annual Show. It's a good hour + drive for us so we made a day of it with lunch before hand and everything.

We saw some lovely quilts and the vendors were great with lots of goodies for sale - hold me back! I bought two special rulers that I'll be telling you about a little later but NO FABRIC. I know, that's practically a sacrilege. I did buy a super cute dress pattern for my first foray in garment sewing in 30 years, a little sundress for my darling granddaughter. Say a prayer for me on this one. 

Here are some of the quilts that caught my attention. I hope I attribute them to the right people, if not I do apologize. 

This applique quilt was just about perfect. I don't applique so I really appreciate the craftsmanship here.
New York Baltimore - Dawn Licker
Such a sweet and whimsical Christmas quilt.

Baltimore Christmas - Ellen Garner

My personal favorite, this one just glowed:
Urban Amish - Deb Winterling; woven cotton and dupioni silk
Geisha - Barbara Kiehn
Powered by Natural Gas - Nancy Balthasar
Cherry Roll Vine - Suzie Quinell
And this wonderful art piece based on a painting by Wayne Thiebaud called "River and Farms" 1996. This is a 'slice' group project. To learn more about the process visit Jenny Lyon's blog at Quilt Skipper to see how she developed her slice of the group quilt.


Over the River and Through the Farms - Anita Marshall, Jenny Lyon, Margo Wilson, Donna Brennan

My camera doesn't do these justice it's so hard to capture the true color. I think that's quite enough eye candy for one day. See you next time.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baking Day

I need to take something to a quilt group potluck tomorrow and I've decided to bake bread. 


I’m using a recipe from this cookbook that I've had forever, The Best of Sunset Magazine. It was published in 1987 and I know I've had it at least that long. One of my favorite bread recipes is the Sheepherders Bread and I follow the directions exactly. It comes out perfect every time.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, margarine, or shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • About 9 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salad oil

Preparation

1. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups very hot tap water with butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until butter melts; let cool until warm (110° to 115°). Stir in yeast; cover and set in a warm place until bubbly, about 15 minutes.
2. Add 5 cups of the flour. Beat with a heavy-duty mixer or spoon just until batter is stretchy, 2 to 5 minutes. Mix in enough of the remaining flour, about 3 1/2 cups, to form a stiff dough.
3. To knead with a dough hook, beat on medium speed until dough pulls from side of bowl and no longer feels sticky, about 5 minutes. If required, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
To knead by hand, scrape dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding flour as required to prevent sticking. Rinse bowl and rub with oil. Return dough to bowl and turn over to coat with oil.

I use my microwave as a proofing box - warm a cup of water in the microwave and but the dough bowl inside with the warm water, close it up and you have a nice warm proofing box. Don't turn the microwave on again, that would be a disaster!

4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Meanwhile, if using a 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, cut a circle of foil to fit bottom of pan; put foil in pan. Rub the foil and sides of pan generously with salad oil. A nonstick pan that is not worn needs no preparation.
After the first rise the dough is ready to knead

6. Knead dough with dough hook or on a floured board to expel air, then form into a smooth ball.
Knead until it's nice and smooth. This is my favorite part of bread baking
Dough is starting to rise in the pan

 7. Place dough in baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled again, 45 minutes to 1 hour; watch closely so it doesn't rise too much.
 8. Bake, uncovered, in a 350° oven until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, 50 to 55 minutes.
9. Remove bread from oven and invert onto a rack (you'll need a helper); remove foil and turn loaf right side up. Cool at least 45 minutes. Serve warm or cool, cut into wedges.


Remember - it doesn't have to look perfect because it tastes perfectly heavenly!


Baking bread is very relaxing for me and a completely self-taught skill. I love the entire process from mixing, to kneading, to rising, to baking. But of course the best part is eating.

I found the recipe on the web here: My Recipes.com 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Design Wall Monday/All Squared Up

Design floor actually. This is at the stage where it's too big to fit on my design wall and I'm laying out the borders to get an idea of how they will look. This is not my favorite part of the process because no matter how careful I am I never seem to measure correctly. The borders always give me fits. I measure across the middle and each edge and average the three numbers and that's the size I use but those pesky things hardly ever come out right. Do any of you have a better way? Do tell.

I started this last September at our quilt group's annual retreat at Zephyr Cove  and got all but the borders done which is pretty remarkable for me. I just can't do much productive sewing at retreat, it's so distracting, too much fun I guess. 

This design is called All Squared Up from Fourth & Sixth Designs. I purchased a kit I don't know how long ago. I LOVE the batiks and saturated colors. I have a goal of making quilts for each of my sons this year and one for my husband too. That's four quilts by Christmas. What do you think, can I do it? I have a whole cloth batik backing around here somewhere that I've been holding on to for quite a while, if I can only find it. It would be perfect for this. Clearly some organization is in order in my sewing room. (heavy sigh)

Almost forgot - check out Judy's design wall and see what everyone else is doing this week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soups On



It snowed for the first time this winter (I know, that's crazy but true) yesterday and whenever the weather turns cold I want soup. Not soup from a can - that's nasty, homemade soup the only kind worth eating IMHO. I rummaged around and came up with the ingredients for this soup which was so good and good for us. I don't usually use a recipe for soup I just wing it, I'm sure there's a recipe for this on the internet somewhere. Served it with crusty sourdough bread I had left from Sunday dinner. It's a winner.

White Bean, Italian Sausage and Kale Soup
serves 4
1 lg carrot chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
1 med onion chopped
1 clove chopped garlic
1 can Cannolini beans
3 sweet Italian sausages, remove casings (this is what I had in the frig. but I think hot or semi hot would work great too)
2 tbsp dry Italian herbs
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch of kale (if you don't have kale use spinach I won't mind)

Brown the sausage and crumble it up good so it will be easy to eat in the soup. Use the same pot your going to cook the soup in make it easy clean up for yourself. Remove the sausage and any drippings and set aside. In the same pan add a little olive oil and sweat the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, throw in the dry herbs. Meanwhile drain the beans and rinse them, I hate that can taste so I always rinse my canned beans. Now add the chicken broth and beans and simmer for about 30 minutes. Put the sausage in the pot and as much of the drippings as you want. Mine were not too greasy so I used it all - added flavor. Wash your kale really well 'cuz there can be dirt hiding and cut off the stems ( they're too tough). Chop the kale pretty fine and add to pot, simmer 20 minute more and your done! ( If you use spinach don't cook it much more than 5 minutes or it will get slimy).

Serve with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. Yummy

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Being Mindful


I read a lovely post today on a blog I follow, Going to Pieces by Diane Perin Hock about gratitude but it struck me as really about being mindful. Being more mindful is something I've decided is going to be the focus of my year  and I think Diane just says it beautifully. Click on over and see what she has to say. Oh, and take a look at her wonderful art quilts too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Young Love


Look at those baby faces. We were married 44 years ago today. Valentines Day wasn't such a big deal then, it was a nice romantic gesture without all the hoopla attached to it that you see these days. Besides, it was a Wednesday and the only day we could book the church! Nineteen days later Chris left for a 13 month tour in Vietnam and I went back to my mother's house to wait and worry and pray. It was almost as if the wedding never happened.  Our real married life started more than a year later. Even then we knew we were in it for the long haul, and even though we were young we never thought of quitting. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the truly good man I married on Valentines Day. I love you sweetheart and I would do it all again with you.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Block of the Month

This is the first block in my LQS block of the month, Memories of Provence block of the month by Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts. I've chosen a red color way but I used my own background fabric 'cuz I thought the background offered was just too blah. I intend to make each background different to give it a more scrappy feel and make it a little more interesting. I also purchased extra fat quarters of the other fabrics just in case I make cutting mistakes (what are the odds!).

I've never joined a block of the month before and I'm looking forward to this project which is going to stretch out over the whole year. Given that time frame surely I'll be able to keep up!

Don't forget it's Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times. Go on over and see what gorgeous things other quilters are making this week.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cut the Cheese

Sorry, I couldn't resist. For quite a while I have been wanting to try making cheese here at Dogwood Lane Farm. I use the term farm loosely because we don't have a cow or goats and right now we don't even have chickens due to the great hen massacre of December 2010. Still my desire to make cheese persisted.
Like almost everything else I decide to do in my life after a little research, and I do mean little, I dove right in and made cheese!


I used this kit I purchased at the organic seed store with guidance from this book, Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. 
The book is very well written and easy to understand with recipes fro any kind of cheese you might want to attempt from easy soft cheeses like ricotta and mascarpone through mozzarella on to brie and cheddar. 


I made mozzarella and it worked! Not the best I ever had but it worked. I cubed it and added pesto and served it with crusty bread - pretty good. I'll do better next time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The gift of time

One of the main things that living where we live has given me is the gift of time. I no longer have the distractions of  running around from place to place that used to bog down my day. Seriously you would be surprised how much of your time is used up in the car. Because we are so far from everything, it's an hour drive to Home Depot or Costco or Target, there is no dashing off for just a few things. A person has to plan! I make a list, plan a day trip and take a cooler. Anyway, this leaves time in my life to do the things I really like to do.   Garden, quilt, cook - all the domestic stuff. I really am a home body.



Design Wall Monday


Linking up to Judy's Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times http://www.patchworktimes.com/. Here's what's on my design wall this week. I made this table topper from all those little squares that were left over when I cut out a project using the the Little Twister ruler http://country-schoolhouse.com/twister_tool.htm. That quilt turned out to be about 65" square and is at the longarm quilter's. I'll show you when it comes back and a few photos of that project in process as well. I used a disappearing 16 patch on this little beauty and most of the fabrics are from a Fa La La charm pack.

I'm going to quilt this baby myself. I'm confident enough to do that on smallish projects but my confidence falters when it comes to anything larger than a baby quilt. Do you have the same problem? Let's make a pact to improve our machine quilting skills this year. Tutorials are all over the internet and we need to hitch up our big girl panties and go for it! After all it's only fabric not brain surgery!

Friday, February 3, 2012

How did I get here?

About 14 years ago my husband Chris and I were feeling restless. Our youngest son had gone off to college and obviously wasn't coming back. What would be the next chapter? I know - let's move to the country! So off we went and ended up here. We REALLY are in the country. A small town in northern California, population 956, elevation 3,000 ft on the way to nowhere. I'll bet you didn't even know such places existed in California but they do. So our new life began. The learning curve has been steep, after all what did we know about wells and forest management and keeping bears out of the hen house ( more on that later). But the rewards have been great as well, just look at this view.