Sunday, December 29, 2013

Placemats and a Busy Bag & Stash Report

Sixteen placemats.  Made from THIS pattern.  I zigzagged these together in blocks of eight placemats, then loaded the whole shebang on the longarm.

After quilting I cut them apart and finished off with the binding.  Voila.  Four sets of four placemats.

For the 18-month-old Singapore great-niece who is visiting (and had her first experience with snow - ha ha), I made a Busy Bag.  From THIS tutorial.

I filled the bags with odds and ends that would amuse her and mommy (and daddy.  Pfft.  Don't be sexist!!) while they wait in the airport for hours on their way home.  I warned mommy that none of these items are rated for an 18-month-old, so she needs to supervise.
I also added a piece of chalkboard fabric to the inside cover.  That stuff is pretty neat!  One of the baggies contains chalk and a hunk of batting to use as the eraser.  (chalk is NOT poisonous, it's made from limestone.  Yay - one good choice for the bag.)

I took the same animal print as the cover fabric, and used a fusible web to bond it to a backing fabric.
Cut out the individual graphics, then slash them in half with pinking shears.  Now there is a matching game they can play.

Used this month    16.3 m
Used YTD           77.8 m
Added this month    6.6 m
Added YTD          32.6 m
Net YTD             (-45.2 m)
This is good.  Part of the 'added this month' was a fabulous collection of batiks from Singapore.  So, it's not even my fault.  :-) Woo hoo!!  Gotta love Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Weekend

Saturday. Rain.  But the forecast is for FREEZING rain, to start later in the day.  Dinner plans with friends were cancelled.  Aargh.  Fudpuckers!!
This is now two weekends in a row when Mother Nature has decided that DH and I (and sweetcheeks Sadie) need to stay home alone and do some family bonding.  Oh, puleeze.  Instead of take-out Chinese Food with friends, hubby is busy making another of his wonderful pizzas.
So, in the meantime I brew up a pot of ginger tea and let Santa keep me company.
And I go back to working on this.  Since this quilt is behind schedule, the canceled dinner plans kind of worked in my favour, business-wise.  But not personal-wise.  I miss seeing my friends.  Boo hoo.  At least it's a pretty quilt.
Sunday morning.  3:30 am.  I get up for a piddle and realized the clock radios were suspiciously dark.  The carbon monoxide detector was dark.  The house was totally silent except for a bit of snoring.  Uh oh.
"Honey.  Psst.  Honey.  HONEY!!!"
"The hydro is out."
Poor DH.  He lumbered out to the garage and cranked up the generator.  It's pretty loud, and it looks weird - our garage is lit up like a landing strip while everything around us is dark, dark, dark.
I'm pretty sure we woke up the whole neighbourhood, but that worked in everyone's favour.  They all started their generators too.  Otherwise it would be flooded basement time for all concerned.
Ha ha, cute clothesline.  I guess I'm not hanging up laundry any time soon.  :-)
The only person I know who is insane enough to barbeque in this weather might be my brother.  Who, by the way, landed on Saturday.  He and his wife came from Calgary to spend Christmas with us!!  Arriving yesterday in this horrid storm was his daughter (and hubby and baby) from Singapore.  Woo hoo!  First Christmas with her in many years!
All the quilting time I made up on Saturday was lost again on Sunday.  I can't start up Floyd when the hydro is unreliable.  sigh.  Dear Universe....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Half-Square Stars, and a Snowed-in Weekend (with recipes!!), and BS Report

What a great quilt. Totally made from half-square units.
The maker did a really good job of sorting the colours to get the star blocks to show up.

This weekend was a total trash-up

Saturday was supposed to be a dinner party here, with a wee side trip to take Kawartha Margaret to the John C. Munro Airport (which is pretty much around the corner from here).  Margaret planned to make the three hour trek to arrive here Saturday, early afternoon.  Then... dah dah dah duhhh.... Mother Nature decided to drop a foot of snow on us.  On SATURDAY. 

Four-wheel-drive notwithstanding, Margaret did not want to face a white-knuckle drive.  So she packed up her 2-weeks-in-Florida duds, and her dog (with all that relevant baggage), and she drove in Friday night before the storm hit.  On Saturday, after lunch she helped me make the Bella Casara Ricotta Cake with Lemon.   My tip for this is to cut the lemon slices REALLY, REALLY THIN.  And be gentle when cooking them, otherwise you end up with nothing but peel. At this point I had not yet cancelled the dinner party. 

While I was making the cake (and forgetting to add the flour to the cheese mixture, which necessitated me first using a very bad word, then removing the cake batter from the hot oven, and remixing WITH the flour.), Margaret was frequently checking the flight information to make sure she wasn't cancelled.  By mid afternoon I realized this was not the day to have people driving around for the sake of my questionable cooking, so I pulled the plug on dinner.  But I had cake!!  And I had two lovely pork tenderloins, with a delicious recipe!!  And I had all these potatoes out, ready to try a new recipe!!  Sigh...

DH arrived home just in time to put on his White Knight outfit and drive we three girls over to the dog-sitter, slogging us bravely through the snow in his huge 4wd truck. 
As we dropped off the dog, Margaret realized she had left Jilly's dog food in her car.  At my house.  Only a ten minute drive away, but it was a BLIZZARD.  (OK, slight exaggeration there.  but the roads WERE awful.)  Anyhow - we got her over to the airport, to her 'on time' flight then came back home, got the dog food, delivered it, and came home for supper.

You've already got the cake recipe above. 

The pork recipe is on the December 2013 page of the Milk Calendar.  Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Compote 
OMG.  GOOD!!! Link here.

The potatoes I made from a recipe that has been floating around on Facebook. 

Ranch Potatoes

•    8 -10 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
•    1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
•    1 1/4 cups milk
•    1 envelope ranch dressing mix
•    1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
•    salt and pepper
•    6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

•    Add the potatoes to a saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil; cook about 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender; drain.
•    Place drained potatoes into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.
•    In a bowl, mix together the soup, milk, salad dressing mix, 1 cup cheese, salt and pepper to taste; pour over potatoes.
•    Sprinkle crumbled bacon and the remaining cheese over the top.
•    Bake, uncovered, at 350̊ for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender

On Sunday, since I was snowed in and the wind was still howling for all it was worth, I thought I should make a pot of chicken/vegetable soup.  I went down to the fruit cellar for onions and discovered, to my horror, that my Butternut Squashes were starting to get soft.  So... not only did I make a huge pot of chicken soup, I also cooked,  mashed and froze five BS's.  Another one was diced and roasted for tonight's supper.  I still have two left but they won't last long.  They will need to be dealt with soon.  Since I was already elbow deep in food prep I decided to make a Blueberry Walkaway.  See HERE.  Today's version used Raspberry/Peach jam that I made this summer, along with Brandy Peaches that I canned.  Mmm, mmm, good.  Take THAT Mother Nature.  I will stay inside and get roly-poly while you bring your worst outside.  (actually, I shoveled for an hour today, just to make a path from the front door to the driveway.  Probably burned off one spoon of potatoes.  :-) )

Cooked this week 6
Used YTD 34
BS Tidbit:  I'm an early riser.  Ha ha ha... DH likes to say that I get up at the crack of noon.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Finish Of My Own - Boxy Stars, and Stash Report

The Caledonia Guild started the Scrappy Club in August.  The first pattern we used was Boxy Stars, from Quiltville.  Link HERE for the pattern.

I pulled from the BLUE pile and the GREEN pile to make this.  There were no exclusions - yellow/green, blue/green, red/blue, ... you get the idea.

I found a cute carrot print in my stash that worked really well for the border.

I love the weird shape created by the muslin sashing and the background triangle from the block.  I used that to it's best advantage.

I finished up all the carrot fabric on the back, and several yards of a blue/grey print.  Two bolts down, another hundred to go...
I was doing really well with this stash reduction, until (there is always something!) I got the sale notice from the local quilt shop.  Christmas fabrics 50% off on Dec. 6 & 7.  Aack.  Thankfully I didn't go until the afternoon, and by then there was almost nothing left.  That didn't stop me from picking up the rest of a bolt.  Bad Helen, bad!!!  My excuse is the current plan for Christmas placemats.  Hopefully I will get further with this plan than I did with the SAME plan in 2011.  That pile is still sitting on my table waiting for time/inspiration.  If that makes you wonder "she doesn't really have stuff still sitting out after 2 years, does she?", um, yes - I do.

Used this month     6.4 m
Used YTD           67.9 m
Added this month    3.4 m
Added YTD          29.4 m
Net YTD             (-38.5 m) 
This is good.  Still a minus number.  If only the same could be said for my shoe report.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sampler Quilt and Red Hat Breakfast

I love sampler quilts.  What a great setting with the background stars.

This was quilted with s.i.d. around all the blocks, but not inside the blocks.

Inside the blocks I dropped a motif.  These small blocks were done with a simple motif.

The large blocks got a more complicated design that filled the available space.

Oooh... pretty!!!

Red Hat Pajama Breakfast has been happening yearly, I think we're at year four now.  It's always early December.  An excuse to drink Baileys with our coffee.  :-)  It's a goofy event but one we all look forward to.

We look so darned cute, don't we?  In the pics below I managed to block out the large purple stain on the tablecloth from the spilled fruit smoothie.  That was the only accident.  And thank you OxyClean - all evidence is  now gone.
This was pot luck, although all Sadie (the dog) brought was entertainment & slurpy kisses.
The menu:  Fruit smoothies, potato casserole, quiche, sausages, oatmeal, waffles with whipped cream & fruit compote, assorted tarts (raisin, pecan, cranberry), coffee/tea/Baileys.  The little elves even washed up all the dishes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pieced Animals Kid's Quilt, and Radio Love

Kids quilts are always so much fun.

Apparently the little guy who is getting this quilt is a music lover, so we chose a music-themed panto.

I skootched the panto around the animals, then quilted in a little bit of anatomy.

Too cute.

Hey!  Sadie, how did you sneak in here?
Working at home, I need something to keep me entertained during the day.  Some quilters have their T.V.s on for background noise, but I'm a radio gal.  I also get bored.  For a while I was listening to a smooth jazz station, then I switched to easy listening.  The easy listening station had to go two years ago, when they started playing Christmas music in November.  Um.  NO!!!  I can no longer tolerate the sound of Feliz Navidad.  And Mariah Carey screaming at the top of her lungs makes me want to puke.  Then I moved on to a hip-hop station, but an hour of that stuff is enough for any one day.  I still love alternative music and occasionally tune in to CFNY (102.1 the Edge). But most of the time I listen to the CBC, which is pretty much all talk radio.  I have some favorite programs on there.

One is Spark.  That covers new technology stuff.  That's where I first heard about 3-D printers, and now my techie nephew (you know, 1-800-phone-Luke.  I've talked about him a lot here) has one at work.  Cool.

Another is Tapestry, which airs on Sunday.  I first heard that show when I was coming home from Margaret's in the Kawarthas.  That is about religion, philosophy, and human behavior.  One of those episodes introduced me to the concept that human beings are the only creatures that KNOW they are going to die, and how that affects our behaviour.

My third favorite is Quirks & Quarks, which is a science-type show.  On Friday's episode they interviewed a researcher who has discovered that during sleep, our brains shrink.  During that time cerebral spinal fluid goes up there and washes our brain.  This removes toxins and icky things like amyloid plaque.  That is the nasty guk that causes Alzheimers.  Interesting stuff.

Here are links to SPARK, TAPESTRY, and QUIRKS & QUARKS.

I will be spending the rest of the day getting the house ready for the annual Red Hat Pajama Breakfast, happening tomorrow morning at 8 am.  DH has brought up the extra table and is searching for the Christmas garland and my little log-with-a-hole-drilled-in-it, which I need to make my "front porch Charlie Brown Christmas tree".  I've searched through my December photos back to 2005 and cannot find one single pic of my faux trees.  !!! Definitely will post one when I get it done this year.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Red & White Oak Leaf Quilt, BS Report, and I'm famous (sort of)

This is a replica of an antique quilt.  Wow - I just love that red & white.

The maker had started to hand quilt it, then got stuck with a looming deadline.  She ripped out her hand work and sweet-talked me into sliding it in to my work schedule. Her $20 bribe helped.  :-)

After a bunch of stitch-in-the-ditch, I used all the powers of my imagination to decide on quilting motifs.  Oak Leaf Applique = oak leaf designs.  Doh...

The back is really pretty.  That red thread sure shows up!  Click on the pic for a larger view.

You can still see some evidence of the hand quilting.  That should all disappear when this is washed.
FAMOUS:  Yeah, me.  If you are a member of the Canadian Quilters Association, I have an article on pg. 41 of the Winter 2013 edition of the newsletter, about quilts donated to the Calgary flood relief program.

Butternut Squash:  I missed a BS report or two, so here's an update.  They were all picked a few weeks ago and are sitting in a wheelbarrow in the garage.  I know that DH has tossed a couple in the compost because they rotted.  Already.  Grrr.  The garage doesn't get cold enough for storage until it's REALLY cold outside.  Even then, on a sunny day it heats up quite a bit because of the large, south-facing windows.  And since the fruit cellar also has spent the whole summer warming up, it is not cold in November. That is a tricky month to try and store veggies.  Must. Get. Extra. Fridge.
Used recently: 5 (4 for soup, one for another tart- original post & recipe link here)
Used YTD: 28

BS Tidbit:  I hope you get a chuckle out of these because they are surprisingly hard to make up.  Um... I was a sane teenager.  Hah!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still Time For Christmas Quilts, and Apple Cake

If you have a quilt top ready but you thought you were too late to book the quilting - I still have room on the work calendar for a couple more in December.  Call soon...

Now, for the Apple Cake.  Two farms behind us is the Egg Lady.  Last time I was there she gave me a dozen 'old' eggs as a freebie.  Fine by me - there was nothing wrong with them for baking.  I dropped a BS on her, in appreciation for her generosity.  Then DH and I were out for a walk and our other neighbours were quite insistent that I come over and pick some of their apples, because they were all appled-out.  Their fridge was full, the freezer was full, and the garage was full, but the tree was STILL holding on to plenty of delicious goodness.  I had enough eggs and apples, so I made two cakes and took one over to the apple neighbours.

Yum, yum, yum.  This recipe is from my Silver Palate cookbook.
Our best man gave us the set of two cookbooks many years ago.
If you like butter, sugar, and booze you would LOVE these cookbooks.  Mine are almost worn out. Sad but true.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake, recipe from the Silver Palate, serves 10-12

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (note: I use 1 c. oil and ½ c. milk)
2 cups sugar (note:  this makes the cake very sweet - you could probably reduce the qty)
3 eggs
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground mace
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 1/4 cups coarse chunks of peeled apples
3 Tbsp Calvados or Applejack (note: I have used regular Brandy and noticed no difference)
Apple Cider Glaze (optional)

•    In large bowl beat vegetable oil and sugar until thick and opaque. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
•    In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients: white flour, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt. Stir in whole wheat flour. Add to oil and egg mixture until well blended.
•    Add apples, walnuts and Calvados all at once and stir until pieces are evenly distributed.
•    Pour batter into greased 10" round cake pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
•    Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake, or cut cake and pour glaze over slices.

Apple Cider Glaze - yield 1 ½ c. glaze
1/4 c. sweet butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp (3/8 c.) sugar
3 tbsp Calvados or Applejack (note: I have also used Grand Marnier, which is delicious)
1/4 c. sweet cider or apple juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp heavy cream

•    Melt butter in small saucepan and stir in both sugars.
•    Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil.
•    Reduce heat slightly and cook for 4  minutes.
•    Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour over cake while still warm.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Border Creek Mystery Quilt

I'm always so happy to work quilt for this gal.
OK, technically this IS work, but it's a pleasure too.

For one thing, she makes beautiful quilts.

They are nice and flat & square. Never a ripply border.

She's a girl after my own heart, and loves wool batting.

I play, work up some ideas and email them to her for approval.

Now that (!) is looking pretty gorgeous.
The Markham Quilt Guild was lots of fun on Thursday.  They were a good audience and asked many questions, which makes me think they were interested in the topic.  Yay!  Going to other guilds is entertaining, and I always learn something new.  I liked the way they ran their show & share - the members placed their items on a table early in the meeting.  When the white-glove gals hold up the item for display, the maker gets up to talk about their quilt.  This simplifies things for the historian - when she takes photos it saves her from having to force members to stop hiding behind their items.

This was another 5:30 am get-out-of-bed-because-I-can't-sleep morning.  I try to stay quiet and let DH snore sleep.  So I come downstairs with my coffee and I surf the web. I've been reading blogs and I'm feeling rather inadequate right now.  Really, I must learn how to write some day.  But I noticed that I don't like having to CLICK on something to continue READING something.  That little interruption is irritating.  And I have to check to see if it's opened a new window that I can later close, or if I have to use the back arrow button to return from whence I came.  All of this requires too much thought and attention at such an early time of day.  So there.