Friday, May 29, 2015

Big Mistake

Yesterday I made a BIG blog mistake! Thinking I would make this blog more accessible to readers I switched it over to Google+. OMG what a cluster cuss that has turned out to be! After the fact I discovered that only readers who have a Google+ account can leave a comment - something that was not disclosed in the fine print. It was not my intention to limit reader access but to broaden it! What a mess. I'm now in the process of trying to turn Google+ off and I'm having a devil of a time. If you have any tips for how I can get back to normal Please let me know.

If you have been considering making this step take it from me - DON"T! I apologize for this, I really do want to hear what you have to say.

UPDATE 5/31/15: It seems that after much back and forth with Google Help I have figured out the configuration conflict and have been able to turn off G+ comments. If you responded to me with G+ your comments will no longer appear here, on the up side once again comments are open to all not just G+ subscribers. I look forward to a continued two way communication with ALL my readers. If all this is as clear as mud to you be grateful that it has not happened to you and have a wonderful day!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gifts From the Garden


My garden has been really amazing this spring particularly the herb garden. When the herbs are so lush and tender I love to spread the bounty around by sharing with friends. A recent dinner with the Hill & Dale Society was a perfect opportunity to  show some love. It's so easy to bundle some fresh herbs from your garden into a pretty nosegay and tag them.
Oregano and bay were particularly nice on this day so they were washed and tied with cotton twine. I have a little European Bay tree in a pot in the yard just for culinary use and each year it gets better and better. The oregano patch smells wonderful whenever I pass by in the morning on the way to the hen house. I always plant the herbs next to pathways so we brush them as we pass by, that way we can enjoy their fragrance all spring and summer and they're easy to pick and bring into the kitchen for use in cooking.
The bay leaves can be left on the stem to dry and then stored in a small jar or plastic bag and the oregano can be used fresh or dried.
It was my turn to bring appetizers for the Hill & Dale Society and I found a couple of recipes to use the asparagus bounty from my garden as well! The first is a wonderful recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. You need to go to their web site immediately (well, after you read my post) and check out the amazing food).
My version of Asparagus Pancetta Cups
The second appetizer I made was a combination of recipes I found on Pinterest.
Asparagus Cheese Tart
The original idea came from Life With The Crust Cut Off  blog, only instead of crescent rolls I decided to use puff pastry to create a crisper and more delicate base. See the edge around the pastry? That is so easy to create. All you do is score the rolled out puff pastry with a sharp knife going pretty deep but not all the way through to the bottom layer. Then you assemble the pastry as usual. Once it bakes the outside rim will rise up and create a nice edge without any work from you! Also, you must be sure to prick your puff pastry really well with a fork all over (except the rim ) so that it doesn't make a balloon mess for you before you add your fillings. Following package directions for baking pastry which is hotter than crescent rolls. This was yummy and easy and wowed the crowed when it came out of the oven.

How is your garden fairing? Any garden gifts to share?

Linking up with:
Simple Saturdays Blog Hop and 
http://deborahjeansdandelionhouse.blogspot.com/


Until Next time,

Monday, May 25, 2015

Enjoying the Process

Sometimes I just want to make something without a goal in mind. I just want to play with fabric and thread and see what happens, I want to watch the colors come together into something pretty or even something weird. Whenever I'm in that kind of mood I most often turn to machine embroidery because it appeals to both the left and right sides of my brain  - both the analytical side and the creative side.
Where else can you combine the computer geek and the hand crafter? Choosing color and pattern, fabric and thread placement, making sure everything is lined up just right for a perfect sew out.
The complete fascination of watching the whole thing come together and the total frustration when the design does not turn out as expected. Something which appears simple can take an inordinate amount of time and thought and can be completely engrossing.
Which color thread will be exactly the right shade for the leaf edge or the water lily center? This particular design requires 24 color decisions!
Mistakes might happen along the way that have the potential of ruining the piece and require some thinking and ingenuity to repair. See that white bobbin thread showing through at top. That is NOT supposed to there and makes the satin stitch edge look awful and ragged.
Permanent markers to the rescue! I have every color I can find in very fine point for just this reason.
White bobbing thread gone!
This particular piece which measures about 5"x7" had a lot of decisions to make and opportunities for error. Two hours total stitch time with me attending every minute.
design from San Francisco Stitch Co
The final product, a tiny art piece hanging on my sewing room wall to remind me that Process is as important as Product!

Linking to Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday

This post featured at Freemotion by the River
 

Until next time,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Up In The Air

You may recall a while back I showed you what to my mind is wasted space in my kitchen and maybe you have a similar spot in your kitchen as well. Too high to be of any practical use and yet visible for anyone to see.
There it is waiting for some magic to happen. And here it is after some rummaging around in the garage and attic.
I didn't buy a thing for this kitchen make over and I purposely kept it simple because it's a true pain in my patootie to clean up there involving very high ladders and lots of extreme climbing!
Those watering cans have been scattered around various locations in the house holding dry flowers. All were acquired at yard sales at various times. The child's high chair was a recent gift from my DIL found at a yard sale for $5. It's held together with rope, all I did was dust it off. The bread dough trencher is hand carved from a single log. I found it at an antique store here in town when I first moved to Georgetown 18 years ago. It's really huge and must have served a large family in it's day. If memory serves me I think I paid $25 for it at the time and I still love the history and character of that piece.
On the right is my life sized tribute to Silent Bob may he rest in peace. You can read about Silent Bob in this post. Of course, Bob must have a companion and so he is keeping company with a hen cookie jar (reminds me of Mrs. Gold who is also no longer with us) which was a gift from a friend years ago. All good chickens go to heaven I suppose. At least they live in memory in my kitchen. I've had the poster in the background for years, a souvenir of a wonderful Van Gogh museum exhibit. 

There we have it. My space is filled with things I love and the dead space has come to life. What do you do with your top of cabinet/empty areas? I'd really like to see.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Quick Notion

 Some simple things just make my life so much easier and when I find one of those things I like to share them with all of you. For all of my sewing life I've chased the foot pedal of my sewing machine around the floor. I used rug underlay, you know what I mean, the rubber, honeycomb stuff to try to keep it in place but that didn't really work. I finally found the solution:
This thing really works for me. It keeps my sewing machine pedal where I put it. You just apply velcro to the bottom of your pedal and it grips the carpeted pad which in turn grips your carpet. 
Now there's one problem - it's made for carpet and I have a plastic chair runner under my machine so I can easily roll my chair. I solved that by using double sided tape on the under side and taping the pedal stay to my chair runner. It's working great so far. No more chasing my pedal around the floor.
I have no interest in this product I just thought I'd share what's working for me. I bought mine at a quilt show vendor for $15. I found one on Amazon for the same price. If this same problem has been bugging you it might be worth a try.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Field Trips & Friends


Who says field trips end with grade school? I love a good field trip and every so often my quilting group plans an outing for inspiration and just plain fun. In April we all trooped into Sacramento to the Crocker Art Museum to see this:

There was no picture taking inside the exhibit but a nice backdrop was provided outside the gallery and we took full advantage for a group shot. I've written many times about the Nellies but I haven't often posted pictures since most of them are a little camera shy. I have no idea why since each and every one is gorgeous and talented and kind, I could go on and on...
Not all but most of the group. Doesn't it look like we're standing on a French street? Well, almost.
Suzanne is certainly happy to be there!
The exhibit itself was a little disappointing. We were hoping to see Lautrec's famous works but it turned out to be a bait and switch with a few works by Lautrec and a lot of works by lesser know contemporaries. Still we enjoyed the day together and lunch at the museum restaurant was outstanding! Field trips - I love 'em!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Little Cuties

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I have a mild obsession with machine embroidery. OK, more than mild maybe a little crazy! But take a look at what I just made with my embroidery machine, what's not to love?
Little dolly diapers and quilted changing pads to match! I ask you are these not adorable? I made them from baby flannel and batting scraps so they're supper soft and washable. My two granddaughters, ages four and three LOVED these.

The Velcro tabs make them super easy for little fingers to take off and put on which they did about every five minutes All-Day-Long. They are made entirely in the 5x7 embroidery hoop except for some closure done with the sewing machine, no hand work. Yippee! The design is from Digistiches Machine Embroidery. They have so many cute designs at reasonable prices, I have a lot more to try out.

While we're on the subject of little cuties I also have to show you this adorable gift from my talented friend Patty P. She gave this to me for Christmas and I have forgotten to post it until now (I know I'm a bad friend, but I did send a thank you note.)
This darling candle mat is a wool applique piece and so cheery. It was big a  sacrifice for Patty to even attempt this for although she's a whiz at applique she detests the color yellow, can barely stand to look at it! That's a lot of yellow for a xanthophobic. (Look it up it's a real thing)

Thanks again Patty, I've given it a special spot next to my favorite kitchen gnome. I hope you're enjoying some little cuties of your own this fine spring day.

Until next time,

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Return Of Creativity


I'm over my bad relationship, (see this post to know what I'm talking about) and the result has been a been a fun and productive week in my sewing room! I was excited about the prospect of parting out that awful project and got right to work on my first idea, a bed runner from my favorite green and purple pieced row.

I found a batik in my stash that went perfectly with the mood I wanted to create and I even had enough of a different backing piece and some batting without having to cut into anything new. It was hard to get a good picture of this since it measures 84"x28", a perfect size to drape over the end of my king size bed. I'll take it to quilt group this Wednesday and get help spray basting it together so it will be ready for quilting. I have some ideas for the quilting that I think will bring this to life. Yippee!
Next up I finished this 50''x50" UFO I found during the great sewing room reorg. It really is super cute and I can't imagine what led me to abandon it in the first place. This is a pattern from an Elenore Burns Quilt In A Day book, Schoolhouse Wallhanging. I've had the book for at least 20 years and this UFO has been in the closet for probably 15 years. It will make a nice baby quilt or table topper gift don't you think? I have a coordinating daisy print to use for binding and I'm sure I can come up with a cute backing from the stash. I even have enough batting in the magic closet so that once again I don't have to buy anything. Another happy dance for me. I tell ya it can be a good thing to let go of the past and just move on!

Don't forget it's Design Wall Monday so get your inspiration fix at Patchwork Times.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy May Dance!


Such an eye opening surprise this morning when I sat down to my computer with my first cup of coffee. My routine is to wake up slowly by reading my email while letting that caffeine jolt me awake.  This morning my email provided all the stimulus I needed in the form of a happy message from Marcia's of Crafty Sewing and Quilting telling me I am one of the winners in her month long May For Me  giveaway.
Rainbow Quilt PDF Pattern,

Marcia Wachuta - Crafty Sewing and Quilting

This is my prize - a PDF pattern for Marcia's Rainbow Quilt design. Marcia is a wonderfully creative person and her blog is full of great ideas. If you haven't been over there to take a look please do pay a visit and check it out. You can find the pattern for this quilt for sale as well as lots of others and plenty of free patterns too.

Thanks again Marcia and Happy May For Me!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Delicious Dutch Baby



 Not a politically correct title for a recipe I know, but that’s what it was called in the 70’s when I first found this dish in Sunset Magazine and that’s what we’ve always called it. This easy and delicious oven pancake is my family's all time favorite special occasion, celebration brunch and since Mother’s Day is this weekend I thought you might want to show the recipe to your significant others as a suggestion/hint/wink.
Eggs, butter, flour and milk! All you need is a blender, the right size pan and an oven. What could be easier? I’ll give you measurements for 4 servings and 6 servings. 
Here we go.

4 servings – 10” skillet (cast iron is awesome here)
¼ cup butter
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
¾ flour
6 servings – 9x15” glass dish
1/3 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 425*

Place butter in pan in hot oven. While butter melts, mix batter quickly. Put eggs in blender or food processor and whirl on high for 1 minute. With motor running, gradually pour in milk, then slowly add flour (the flour may clump on the sides so stop and scrape it down if that happens); continue whirling for 30 seconds.
Remove hot pan from the oven and pour in batter. Return pan to oven and bake until pancake is puffy and well browned, 20 to 25 minutes depending on pan size.
Call everyone to the table for the big reveal because this looks spectacular when it comes out of the oven! 



 Dust with powdered sugar and ground nutmeg. Cut into wedges and serve with any fresh fruit. Don't forget the whipped cream. Srumptious!

Happy Mother's Day!

Until next time,

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Been A Bad Break Up

 Remember that boyfriend you had in high school, the one you were just crazy about? All your friends liked him and thought he was sooo cute, the two of you were perfect together. That is until you got to know him a little better. After a while you began to notice his annoying little habits. He snorted when he laughed, his clothes were always sloppy, he was rude to your best friend. But still you thought with a little work you could FIX HIM. So you overlooked what is obviously irritating you and put a smile on your face when he said something dumb or showed up wearing plaids and stripes AGAIN and embarrassed you at the dance. The woman's fatal error, trying to fix a bad relationship. You started avoiding him in the hallways between classes and dodging his phone calls. Finally, enough is enough and you just had to let him go. It's not you it's him, not matter what you told him at the time.
 Where is this all leading? Right here to an empty design wall. I just had to let Fern Creek Sampler go!
I know, I know it seems nice enough until you get to know it. But, believe me when I tell you this thing is a dog and no amount of work is going to fix it. I've lived long enough to recognize a bad relationship when I see one. I've started avoiding my sewing room just so I don't have to look at it and that's a bad, bad sign. The next thing you know I'll be dodging it's phone calls and sneaking out the back door so we don't run into each other.

All is not lost however, I have learned a lot from this failed relationship. No amount of work can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse in spite of what your well meaning friends might say. Unlike a discarded ex-boyfriend I can cut this up and use the parts. I have plans for several of the rows. That purple and green row which I like quite a lot will make a nifty summer bed runner for my bed, I can already picture it. The barn door blocks will be perfect for a Thanksgiving tablerunner. Likewise those really cute little stars. The rest will be saved for re-purposing. Who knows when I might need a band or border and these might be just the ticket. The log cabin would be the perfect center for a pillow but those clunky trees have to go.
A bad break-up doesn't have to be the end of the world. It's all a learning experience and clears the way for a better relationship to follow. After all, I got the man of my dreams in the end! What about you? Have you ever had to break up with a quilt you originally loved? DO TELL.

Linking to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Until next time,