Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Red Birds

My design wall is crowded these days with projects in all stages. I've already shown you the Alaskan inspired wall hangings I have on the go. I've also been working on a Christmas gift that's turning out so cute I had to share.
Just look at how sweet this little red work bird is. Embroidering a semi-dense design with cotton thread on WHITE fabric has presented it's own set of challenges. My biggest concern was stabilizer show through but I think I've worked out a pretty good solution. I backed each piece of fabric with iron on, light weight fusible stabilizer before hooping. The kind of stabilizer I might use if I were sew a knit fabric. Then I used a light weight tear-away stabilizer under the hoop to further support the stitches. Once the stitching is done I can carefully tear the paper stabilizer away, the fusible stays but doesn't add significant weight and no show through.
This picture shows the other problem I had on the project - embroidering with 40 weight cotton thread created a crazy amount of fuzz! See all of that stuff around the needle and on the fabric? I used a 90/14 needle and cotton thread in the bobbin as well so I was constantly cleaning out everything. 
The stitch out itself came out great but you can see the fuzz left on the fabric. I blew it off with canned air. Four out of five birds stitched without a problem and then the last one gave me fits! Constant hang-ups in the bobbin no matter how many times I cleaned it out. It took me two hours to figure out the problem. I needed a NEW NEEDLE! Do yourself a favor and learn from my stubborn stupidity, when all else fails change the needle!
Stitch-out with dull needle. Note ragged edges, this is not crisp and pretty at all. Some skipped stitches as well.
Same stitch out with new needle. This is what I was going for!
The difference between these two is much more apparent in person. Trying to save money by using a dull needle is just not worth your time.
My five little birdies ready to go.
Which border fabric do you like. I'm going for a retro vibe here. The friend I'm gifting likes all things old fashioned and sweet.
The embroidery designs are from Embroidery Library, Toile Backyard Birds design pack.

Linking to Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday. Go on over to Judy's and see what other quilters are doing this week.

Until next time,

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Love the Smell of Cinnamon in the Morning

Isn't that the greatest, most delicious aroma? If you don't have cinnamon rolls to greet you in the A.M. then cinnamon toast is a wonderful substitute and that's what I'm enjoying this morning. I made it from a loaf of bread I baked in my bread machine yesterday afternoon.
My bread machine version of Honey Egg Spice Bread
We were having soup for dinner and I wanted something to go with. I could tell from the ingredients that this would be a little sweet and it turned out to be too sweet for dinner but oh my is it ever perfect as a base for cinnamon toast! The spices in the recipe only enhance the cinnamon toast goodness.
I found the recipe at one of the blogs I visited in my blog roll this week. Fresh Eggs Daily is the name of the blog and Lisa is the talented blogger. Her recipe for Honey Egg Spice Bread can be found by clicking on the link. Her pictures are MUCH better than mine and there's lots of stuff on her blog so do jump over and tell her I sent you.

MY RECIPE NOTES:  I cut the spices in half because I was making this for a dinner course and I didn't want the spices to dominate. Next time I'll use the full amount because I'll be going for the breakfast goodness. I used the Quick Cook Option on my bread machine and it worked just great and cooked in 1 hour instead of 3 1/2. My bread looks like it's a bit denser than Lisa's because it only had one rise.

I don't use my bread machine very often so I'm no expert on it's uses and applications. I consider breads from the bread machine utilitarian loaves for quick and easy consumption. They're not pretty and certainly not gourmet. That being said they do need to taste good and this fills the bill.
I leave you with a picture of this little cutie. This is my sugar bowl. I've had this little mug for over 40 years. It was part of a set of animal mugs I purchased when my boys were small. They loved to have their hot cocoa in those monkey, giraffe, elephant and lion mugs. These were only brought out on rainy days and this is the lone survivor. I consider it a real treasure which makes me smile each day and reminds me that too much sugar will make me as big as an elephant!

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Autumn Splendor & A Giant Chicken

We managed to squeeze in our annual visit to Apple Hill amongst all the other things going on around Dogwood Lane and picked up at least a bushel of glorious apples. Along the way we saw some peculiar sights and some beautiful fall flowers.
The attack of the giant chicken! Run for your lives!!
I kinda want to take this guy home. I think he would be amazing bear protection. One look and any self respecting bear would head back into the hills! Conversely, my dogs might have heart attacks on the spot so I guess he'll have to stay where he is.
Not exactly certified organic
These are the type of farm animals to have - no upkeep and no by products if you get my drift. And, so decorative!
Now, on to the splendor part. 
This is Fall color!
The deer had eaten all the mums and all that were left were marigolds putting on a wonderful show.
The weather turned cold enough to freeze these out right after these pictures were taken so they're only a memory now just as they are in most of the rest of the country. Stay warm and sip some hot apple cider along with me.

Until next time,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Alaskan Inspiration

 You didn't think I went all the way to Skagway, wandered around this wonderful quilt store crammed full of treasures and bought nothing? Of course you didn't! I would lose my quilter's membership card if I did a thing like that.
I came home with Alaskan inspired fabrics which I'm pretty sure could only be found up north and batiks which spoke to me of the colors I was seeing all around me on our trip.
Remember the totem art that surrounded us in Ketchikan? I really wanted to recreate the feel of that and found just the thing to help me at Embroidery Library using their Native American Creation designs.
Let's see how well I can interpret these totem designs in fabric.
First a rough sketch of my idea. I'm planning two or three small wall hangings in earth, sky and water color changes featuring the animals we saw on our trip. Speaking of which, what process do you use to plan a project? Do you sketch it out, EQ 8 or whatever number it's up to now? Or do you just wing it?
Add caption
This looks pretty static right now, I hope the quilting will add a lot to the overall design.
The second color way is moving along. See, I have actually been spending some time in the sewing room along with all the other things that have been going on.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times for the first time in a while and looking forward to hearing from you about your design process. If you want to know more about my Alaskan adventures follow the tag: Alaskan Cruise.

Until next time,
P.S. If you left a comment in the last month and I have not answered, I apologize. My laptop died and I had an awful time retrieving data so I pretty much gave up on the reply thing for the past month. I hope to keep up now with a brand new, BLUE laptop. Snazzy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not Your Grandma’s Bourbon Pumpkin Bread

I've been absent from my blog for a little while attending to family matters so I thought I would reward you all with a recipe from the archives. It is the time of year after all for all things pumpkin. You can't walk down any aisle in any store without PUMPKIN screaming at you. When did this become a thing? Anyway, as the title implies this is NOT your sweet Granny's recipe for pumpkin bread. That is unless your Granny was like mine and liked her bourbon neat and was not sweet at all! I could tell you stories but that would be more like a soap opera than a recipe so...

Don't worry about the bourbon in this recipe affecting the kiddos, the alcohol cooks away and you're left with the smoky, sweet flavor that cuts through what can sometimes be overwhelming pumpkin in most pumpkin bread recipes.

Not Your Grandma’s Bourbon Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 8X4 inch loaves or 1 GIANT 9X5 inch loaf

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin

3 cups white flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts, whatever nut you like (I like pecans)

⅓ cup bourbon (You could leave out the bourbon and substitute with vanilla but don't use 1/3 cup of vanilla for Peete's sake!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, pumpin, eggs, butter and oil. Beat until smooth, about a minute.

  1. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices. Use a whisk to mix these together thoroughly. Combine the wet and dry mixtures and beat until smooth. Stir in the bourbon and beat until it is incorporated.
  2. Scrape the batter into greased pans, filling no more than ¾ full. If you make just one large loaf this will take a LONG time to bake! I sprinkle mine with raw sugar before baking, I like the way it makes the loaf look and I love the sweet crunch.
  3. Bake in the center of the pre-heated oven for 65 to 75 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. (TIP -  I use a piece of uncooked spaghetti as a tester)  The top will be crusty and have a crack of some kind. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Wrap with plastic wrap to store at room temperature. This is better the next day but who can wait??
Is this not a gorgeous loaf of deliciousness? See how the raw sugar adds sparkle?
I love to toast slices and slather them with butter. I think this is called gilding the lily and yes slather is a real word.
Those who know me well know that I do take after my Grandma in a few ways - I also like my bourbon neat!

Linking to Simple Saturdays Blog Hop 
Until next time,