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Friday, December 31, 2010

Leftovers and choices

I didn't cook Christmas dinner at home, as we had our family dinner at our daughter's house. So "leftovers" here are baked goods. I tried a new-to-me Martha Stewart recipe this year, along with a few of our usual favorites, and it was a hit wherever I took it. There's *one* piece left, which I plan to make sure is gone today. ;) This is the last remaining piece of the chocolate coconut cheesecake squares. Yum!

Now for the choices. I've had to give up on my original plan for quilting that Storm at Sea miniature, as I just couldn't make the intersections work out right. Fine. I'll probably use my original idea in the borders instead. Next question: what color thread should I use? Going through what I already had on hand, I thought a cone of turquoise/purple Rainbows polyester might be pretty good, but then I also liked a lighter lavender I have. Decisions, decisions! I'm leaning toward the turquoise/purple, but I'm still thinking ....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back to quilting!

Today I added borders to my miniature Storm at Sea. I chose purple for the inner border to give good contrast and teal for the outer border to tie into some of the other colors in the top. Now it measures about 21" x 24". The next step, of course, will be to sandwich and quilt it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My new design wall!

My sewing/computer room is a smallish bedroom, so by the time I have my computer desk, my sewing table, a rocking chair for handwork, and a few little extras, there's very little space left over. I posted a few photos in an early blog post.

One of the problems I ran into was that there was literally no space for a design wall. My solution was to put Command hooks over the closet doors and hang a piece of flannel from them. It worked, but it was awkward and inconvenient. If I needed to get into the closet, where I keep my quilting supplies and stash, I had to either roll up the flannel and clip it out of the way, taking the chance of disturbing whatever was on the flannel at the time, or I had to duck under the flannel and hope not to disturb anything. There had to be a better way!

Then I saw a fancy-dancy roll-up design wall advertised in a magazine. It's gorgeous -- there's no doubt about it -- but it cost way
more than I wanted to spend. However, it gave me an idea. I found a vinyl roll-up shade at Penney's (on sale!) and convinced a friend to help me spray glue flannel to one side of it. So far, so good. Then the roll-up shade stood in a corner for several weeks until my husband had a little time and no particular project in mind. I think I'm going to love having this! When I roll it up, the vinyl backing will prevent the things on the front from shifting, and I'll be able to get into my closet with no trouble at all! :) In this photo, I only have the shade rolled partially down; it will go all the way to the floor.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To one and all ...

Woof!
Merry Christmas!! Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a very Happy New Year. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taking a break

I'm not completely ready for Christmas, but today I took a bit of a break from that hustle and bustle to work on the miniature I now have in progress. While I was in Houston in November, I bought a kit -- something I never do -- for a Storm at Sea. Why did I buy it, when I could have made a paper-pieced one quite easily? Because the kit's pieces were all laser cut and very accurate; I wanted to give using them a try. Here's what the cover of the kit looked like:

Notice that the label very clearly states that the batiks used in the kit might not be the same as those in the photo, and that was the case.

The kit came from John Flynn, and the pieces went together so easily!

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I've made all of the blocks (100, though one is an "extra" and won't be in the quilt) and joined them into rows. Now I have six of the eleven rows joined together, and I'm liking the results, though I wouldn't have chosen exactly these colors.

Soon I'll need to start thinking of what to use for borders and how to do the quilting, but I doubt that I'll get much more quilting time for the next week. ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting ready

It's hard to believe that Christmas will be here in just over a week! :O I think I have the gift shopping finished, but I still need to wrap those gifts, and I will be baking some last-minute things to take to our daughter's home for Christmas dessert. Then there are the inevitable errands that suddenly need to be run, as well as the visiting -- it all adds to the excitement, the joy and the stress of the season. ;) Of course, I'm also trying to do a bit of piecing in spare moments just as a means of relaxation.

This is part of our tree with some of the ornaments we've collected over the years. The fabric candles are some I made a long time ago -- probably at least 25-30 years ago -- and if you make the photo larger (click on it), you may be able to see Disney characters, a dove from the top of our wedding cake, a cocker spaniel, and many more in all sorts of "themes". Some, like most of what you see here, are cute, others are religious, and some are just pretty.

I'd like to wish you and yours a very happy holiday season, no matter which holiday you happen to celebrate.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday traditions

Our family has its share of holiday traditions, as I'm sure most do. Since we celebrate Christmas, ours naturally revolve around that holiday. I used to be a French teacher and liked to share some of the French customs with my students. At one point, I collected several little santons, which represent various people, all arriving with gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They are traditionally dressed in the garb of eighteenth-century France, except for the figures representing the people we Americans usually see in our own nativity scenes.

In France, many families set up entire villages, complete with houses and scenery, but my small home doesn't have room for all of that. As a result, my santons are merely grouped on any flat surface large enough to hold the entire collection.

 Here is the "traditional" grouping: stable, ox, donkey, baby, Joseph, Mary, wise men and a shepherd.

On the left, you see the Simpleton, who hasn't brought a gift but throws up his arms in awe. All of the other figures bring gifts for the baby. Do you see the drummer boy with his drum? the baker with a sack of flour? the woman with a basket of eggs?

Here you see more people with their gifts or preparing their gifts: fishermen, woodcutter, basket weaver, etc.

Aren't they interesting? I love them!

Baklavá

Yesterday was such fun! A friend of mine from our local quilt group invited me to her lovely home to learn to make baklavá. My friend is originally Greek, so you know her baklavá is authentic. What's more is that it's not as sweet as other baklavá I've had, and so I prefer it by far. I'm not sharing this recipe, since it's not mine to share, but suffice it to say that making it wasn't nearly as complicated as I'd assumed it would be. I can see having some in the freezer on a frequent basis. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not the way we planned it ...

Last Sunday our younger daughter invited my husband and the rest of our family over for dinner. Great! Dinner was delicious, right up through dessert. But dessert also brought a new challenge that I thought I'd tell you about.

We love crème brûlée, and that's what she had prepared for us to finish the meal. Great! :) She also asked me to bring along my little kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Prior to this, I'd always used a salamander to do this; they do a great job, but they're a mess to clean up afterwards. A salamander, as you might guess from the photo, is rather like a flat, circular branding iron. A torch sounded so much easier!

Okay, time for dessert. I'd read the instructions on how to use the torch -- several times, in fact. My torch looked pretty much like this one. I very carefully started to fill the torch with butane, and that's when things went very wrong. The butane caught fire! Naturally, since I was holding it, my arms were the next to flame up (thank goodness I was wearing short sleeves). In trying to drop my arms away from the flames -- a reflex action -- I then set fire to my three-year-old granddaughter's hair. OMG! I hadn't seen her come over to watch what I was doing. Very fortunately, my elder daughter got the little flames in her daughter's hair extinguished before more than a few hairs were in danger, and there were no burns at all there.

My younger daughter, meanwhile, grabbed my arms and stuck them under the cold water tap, right next to where we were standing. She added ice and burn salve, keeping me from serious burns, bless her.

Eventually, a braver member of the gathering actually tried out the torch, and it's actually no good at what we needed; it doesn't get hot enough to caramelize sugar.

We used the salamander, after all, and the crème brûlée was scrumptious, but do I need to tell you that the torch will never see the light of day again? ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether you live in the U.S. or somewhere else, and whether you actually celebrate the holiday or not. I'll be headed to my daughter's house for our family dinner, and I'm taking the pumpkin pies and whipped cream, as well as cranberry relish and some wine for a holiday toast. I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful day and to hope that everyone has as much to be thankful for as I do. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pistachio muffins

While my friends and I were in Houston recently, we "discovered" pistachio muffins. Oh my! They were so good! Unfortunately, Phyl and I were only able to get one each, and we've been drooling over the memory ever since. Phyl decided to do a Google search for recipes, and here you can see the results of the first one I tried. Or — most of the results, at least. My husband and I had to sample them, of course, and they're pretty darned tasty, though not quite as I'd remembered. If you're interested, the recipe is on the King Arthur web site.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update

Yes, yes, I know I said it was finished. However, while I was in Houston a couple of weeks ago, I found these cute little balls of wool. They're available in different sizes and in a rainbow of colors, but I bought small white ones for this. I think they make pretty good saguaro blossoms, don't you?

I flattened them slightly with my fingers and held the new shape in place with yellow thread before stitching each one onto my saguaro. Now it's really finished. ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I've been quiet

but I've had good reasons. ;) First, I was away -- at the "really big show" in Houston! I don't have any photos to share, since I didn't get around to asking permission of the people in those photos, but rest assured that it was a wonderful several days. :) Four of us flew from Las Vegas to Houston on Wednesday, Nov. 3, and met with the fifth member of our group at the airport, as she was coming from Phoenix.

Our hotel wasn't quite ready for us, but we stashed our luggage in one room and headed to the convention center to check in and pick up our preregistration materials. Then it was off to the preview event and the marvelous expanse of gorgeous quilts and amazing vendors. We repeated our trip to the show each day until Sunday, mixing viewing quilts with browsing the vendors (and buying a certain number of useful items, of course!) and watching some of the Meet the Teachers presentations.

Three of us also had a class all day on Saturday. The class was *really* good, too; it was a class on techniques for finishing quilts, from corded piping to binding and facings and even to hanging sleeves. I know I'll be using those techniques a lot on my own quilts, so I'm very glad to have been able to attend this class and benefit from the ideas presented there.

Now I am headed to the sofa with a cozy quilt so I can nurse my sinus infection a bit. ;) That sinus infection is the second reason I've been so quiet; I just need to baby it a little.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A UFO no longer

In July, 2009, I took a fun class from Rose Hughes on making landscape quilts. I say the class was fun, but the technique was definitely not something I enjoyed, unfortunately. I'm glad I tried it, but I won't be doing it again, as far as I can tell. ;)

Anyway, I designed my quilt and even had all of the major construction finished at that time. However, I was supposed to use beads and embroidery to suggest plant life, and I was also supposed to use wool roving to make blossoms on the saguaro cactus I made as a memento of the very long time I lived in Arizona. I'm not much on embellishing, though, so my partially-completed quilt sat on the ironing board in my sewing room until yesterday.

With the encouragement of my quilting buddy, I decided to finish the quilting on the piece and forget the embellishing. I added a facing instead of binding, and now it's all finished. Finished, as they say, is good. :) This is titled "Lonely Saguaro" both because it's all alone in its setting and because it's so unlikely to be the start of a series of landscapes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You have to see this!

I haven't been doing much quilting for the past few days, but I know someone who has. ;) Some of you know that I have a twin sister who began quilting just about five years ago or so. She's only very recently begun machine quilting, but what a job she's doing! I guess my love of feathers is something that runs in the family, too, because she's doing some absolutely gorgeous ones. You should see her most recent ones: go here to do just that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Swirling Branches is done

Not quite two weeks ago, I posted this finished top. Today the little quilt is finished, and I'm pretty pleased with it, though there are definite mistakes in it. However, the pattern was fun to make, and the piece isn't a UFO, so I'm happy. :)

When I posted the top, I was debating how to quilt it. Obviously, I made up my mind. ;) I used some variegated green thread to do free-motion feathers (have I mentioned lately how much I love feathers?) in the light- and medium-green branches. The darker green branches have a swirl in them. The red and yellow "lights" have candle flames quilted in them, and the background is all straight lines to suggest the light coming from those candles. Beneath the tree I did a little curlicue. Here are some detail shots of the quilting, where you can see what I did right and also some of the mistakes I made:

This one shows the quilting from the back:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mug organizer

My local quilt circle met today. We're a large group and usually have about 20 or more of our members attending any one meeting, though there are about 40 on the rolls. We take turns sharing ideas for projects with each other, and today's project was a mug organizer. It's a really cute idea for using a mug to keep quilting notions handy. Since I'd recently made that flower pot to do the same job, I decided that this would make a really good gift. There are little pockets both inside and out for pencils, seam rippers, and that sort of thing. Isn't it cute?

Still, it's amazing that I managed to make it at all. It was one of those days. I was really pleased that I'd finally remembered to take an extension cord with me for my little Featherweight, but I forgot to take pins, scissors, fabric markers and thread to match my fabric! Yikes! Fortunately, another member had spare pins, someone else had markers to share, and I scrounged scissors and thread from still others. Tomorrow is, as they say, another day. ;)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomato Pie

No, this isn't a dessert! ;) Tomato pie is a wonderful lunch or light dinner, though, and it works very well as an appetizer, too. My sister introduced this dish to me, and I love it and try to make it at least a few times each year when tomatoes are at their best. The smell of it baking, as all of the fresh basil perfumes the house, is amazing! I made this one today to serve to friends for lunch tomorrow, and I can hardly wait. :)

Carol Doak class

I've been a fan of Carol Doak for a very long time now. She's the queen of paper piecing, for those who aren't familiar with her name. I've run into her several times at the "really big show" in Houston and even had a class with her. When she agreed to come to our guild and teach, therefore, I was really excited. :) Unfortunately, I couldn't take the class I was most interested in, due to time conflicts. However, yesterday I was free and was able to go and be her "gofer" for that class.

What fun! She has such a sense of humor and is a very generous teacher -- she gives freely of her time and tips, practically daring anyone not to have a marvelous time and come out having learned how to make those beautifully pointy points that paper piecing can give.

This is a photo of me with Carol -- and that smile never seems to leave her face! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chili and shortbread

What a combination, huh? ;) We're trying to use up some of the ground elk meat that's in our freezer, since DH will be going elk hunting soon. So yesterday I made some chili, using three pounds of ground elk and whatever else struck my fancy. I have enough to feed an army at this point, but it does freeze well. That's a Staub pot I used to make the chili, and I love that pot! It really does a good job. Anyway, that was yesterday's project.

Today I was craving shortbread; I love shortbread! So I baked some as soon as I had a few minutes, and now I have enough to enjoy with tea for a while. If you like shortbread, too, you might want to try Joe Pastry's recipe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top done ...

... and now I'll need to sandwich and quilt this piece! :) The pattern went much more quickly than I'd expected, and I rather like the swirly effect of the skewed log cabin blocks. The pattern says to quilt it by stitching in the ditch, but I'm trying to think of something a little more fun to do instead. Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have a new project

Have you seen the current issue of American Quilter? If you have, you may have seen the article by Renae Merrill, called "Swirling Branches". In it, she explains her method of paper piecing and provides a free pattern for a holiday wall hanging. I've been interested in her technique of skewing blocks for interesting effects, so I've started that pattern -- though I'm still using Carol Doak's method for the actual paper piecing. It works for me, so why change, right? ;)

I've run out of Carol's paper, so I'll need to go buy more to finish printing out the foundations, but I got a good start today on one block and its mirror image. Here's what a single block looks like:

It really has a lot of movement, doesn't it? By the way, the block isn't supposed to be square, so no worries there. ;) Now here's what a pair of these looks like together:


 Can you see how the red and yellow pieces will resemble lights at the tips of tree branches? No? LOL! It might be a bit soon for that, I'll admit. Now I have fourteen more blocks like these, but in gradually smaller sizes, to make, as well as adding some other pieces to square things up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's *big*

I know some of you may have thought that this would never happen, but I've finally finished the Winding Ways quilt top. ;) Yes, that's just the top that's finished. The next step will be to make the backing and take everything to my friend Gerda, who has promised to baste it for me on her longarm when she gets time. I don't even want to think about trying to baste something of this size, though I am going to quilt it myself on my Bernina 630. Anyway, this is a milestone in the making of this large quilt -- I really do prefer making smaller ones. ;)

Friday, September 24, 2010

It really *was* fun!

I'm back from the Clean & Sew I mentioned yesterday, and it was lots of fun! It was a small class, and we each had a new Bernina 830 to use. Wow! What a machine! It's not coming home with me (though I'd love that extra harp space for quilting ), but I'm so impressed with its capabilities. We had a crash course on some machine embroidery techniques and came away with a pillow, complete except for adding the buttons that close the flap in the back and which I've since sewn on. 

The only machine embroidery I've ever done before today was free motion, so this was very different. We used some built-in decorative stitches, put them together into a "stitch recipe" (combination) for the design at the top right. Then we took a built-in embroidery motif and added a monogram for the bottom section. To form the feathers on the left, we used a built-in motif from a set designed Diane Gaudynski. Then we even used embroidery to make buttonholes for the back! 

The quilt shop provided all of the materials, including the pillow form to put inside the piece we made, and while we were sewing/embroidering my own wonderful Bernina 630 was getting a "spa treatment". What a fun way to spend a day! :D

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Packing up my machine ....

A couple of weeks ago, I received this invitation in the mail, and it sounds like such fun! :)

"My" LQS -- located a dangerous five minutes from home -- is Quiltique (that's their logo you see on the invitation), a beautiful store that's also a Bernina dealership. They've invited customers to come and sew on the wonderful Bernina 830 while their tech cleans and services our own machines. What a deal, huh?  Naturally, I expect they want to sell us either an 830 or an 820, but I can't afford one, nor would my almost-new sewing cabinet handle the weight of one, even if I weren't still in love with my 630. But who could pass up a generous offer like this one of having some fun sewing time and getting a free servicing? I'll be packing up my machine later today and heading for Quiltique tomorrow! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Winding Ways progress

I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything about the Winding Ways quilt I've been working on. That's mostly because I've been procrastinating and letting other things get in the way of working on it. I have to admit that I prefer making smaller quilts; bed-sized quilts just don't have the same appeal for me. However, we need a new quilt for our bed, and this one will be more like a bedspread, since it will come down almost to the floor. So it's onward with the project. :)

Today I finally finished putting all of the blocks and rows together! Yay! Now I need to cut the strips for the mitered borders, and this is where my next challenge comes in. That's because I've decided that my original choice of one of the three fabrics I will use is really not good. Do I have enough leftover fabric of one of the others that would work better? Stay tuned. ;) Meanwhile, here's what the center looks like -- and it's not really a trapezoid. I just don't have a design wall yet, so the quilt center is on the floor and I can't get up high enough to take a good photo. Oh well -- you'll get the idea. Do you see the circles?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Speaking of food ...

I've been meaning to try a particular recipe I found on the King Arthur Flour site, and today I finally got around to it. They have lots of really scrumptious-sounding recipes there, and this one sounded really good. They're called Scone Nibbles (click the link for the recipe). Unfortunately, my grocery store was temporarily out of the mini chocolate chips the recipe calls for, so I substituted Heath English Toffee Bits, thinking they'd be pretty tasty. They are, but I think the chocolate chips would be better. Still, these little scones are easy to make, and they're just the right size for a bite or two. They'd be good with breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee. :) The glaze will help keep them fresh, too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Food ...

Since I've been writing as many food-related posts as quilt-related posts, and since someone suggested that this might be a good idea, I've decided to add a recipe section to my blog. I won't be able to add some of the recipes I use, as they're in French. Okay, I could translate them, but the French tend to use weight for measuring, while we in the US tend to use volume. It's the difference between cups and grams, for example. I simply don't want to spend the time weighing everything and then also figuring out how much that might be in volume, so I'll only post recipes that will work easily here in the US. It will save frustration on most of our parts. ;) 

I also won't be posting recipes that I've pulled from other sites and then linked to in my posts -- fair is fair, after all. Going to the links in my posts is merely a matter of a little click.

At any rate, I've now placed a link at the left (below the Labels list) to the recipes page of my blog. I hope you enjoy something there. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flower Pot

My quilting buddy in Phoenix ran across this pattern, and I decided it was too cute not to make one, too. It looks rather like a flower pot, which may be why that's what it's called. ;) However, it's all fabric and intended to be used as a tool caddy and thread catcher. I'm not using it for threads, since I have a bag for that on my pin cushion; but it's great for putting slightly bulkier tools inside, too. The pattern is from Aunties Two Patterns, and they certainly have some interesting patterns available!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A special block

I subscribe to the Carol Doak Yahoo group, which has several thousand members. Carol has taught classes in all 50 states, as well as many foreign countries. To mark the occasion of having "hit" all 50 states, the members of her group are making her a quilt with star blocks (from her designs, of course) from each of the states. I live in Nevada, but someone else had already signed up for that state, so I signed up to do a block to represent Arizona, where I lived for most of my life before moving here. The basic star is from her book, Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars, but I added a center block adapted from a portion of a block from 300 Paper-Pieced Quilt Blocks; that center is reminiscent of the Arizona state flag. I can hardly wait to see the finished quilt! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New toy

I have to admit that I haven't been doing any quilting for the past few days. In case you're now wondering why, it's because I've been playing with a new "toy". ;) My birthday was last month, and my gift was placed into my hands just this past Friday. It had to wait until our current cell phone contract had expired so we could switch to AT&T and I could have an iPhone! I'm so excited, and I've been playing with it, getting all of my "stuff" switched over from my iPod Touch to the iPhone and then learning all about the features that the Touch didn't have. 

I have to say that it's really not a toy, of course. I'll be using it to stay in touch with other quilters, among other things. I just wish I knew someone else who had one of these like mine so I could try out FaceTime. But now I'm going to go work on making a couple of ringtones. ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update

I showed you the backpack I made for our granddaughter, but she wasn't allowed to have it quite then (parental bribery involved here ). However, last night they came over so I could give her the backpack. She'd had no idea I'd made her a backpack, and her little face just lit up! She loved it! :D

Isn't she a little doll? :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sidetracked briefly

Yes, I know I'm supposed to be working on my Winding Ways quilt, but things sometimes pop up unexpectedly. ;) In this case, I happened to see an adorable pattern online yesterday and just couldn't resist. You see, my little granddaughter is about to start preschool later this month, and every little girl needs a backpack for her papers, her quilt, and whatever else needs to travel with her to school, doesn't she? So when I saw this pattern (Kwiksew #3687), I knew I had to get busy. 

The first challenge was finding the pattern in town, but our local Hancock's had it in stock, so off I went to pick it up and find fabrics. Gabriella likes lots of colors, but one of her favorites is pink, so I decided on pink denim (blue denim just seemed so blah!) and then found a lining with little mice in tutus! This was good, since Gabriella is taking dance lessons these days. :) The lining fabric is shown in front of the backpack in the photo.

Yesterday I washed, dried and pressed the fabrics and then cut out all the pieces. This backpack went together much more quickly than I'd thought it would; I finished it just before lunchtime today! What do you think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday's progress

I worked on/played with two different things on Sunday. First, my Winding Ways quilt is coming along. I now have four rows put together! :)

Once I'd done that, though, I decided that I really really needed to make a couple of pot holders. Some of mine are in very sorry shape, and I haven't seen any in the right colors -- either blue and white or blue and yellow would be fine -- for my kitchen. Correction: I haven't seen any in the right colors and that cost less than an arm and a leg. ;) I told you in a previous post that I'd bought a cute pattern for some Pot Pinchers a few weeks ago, so I went through my stash, found some fabrics I'd had for some time and made a pair. I love the way the "pocket" parts for the thumb and fingers aren't completely flat; that makes quickly putting your hand inside very easy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to it

It's still hot, but I couldn't stand it any longer; I just had to do something about my Winding Ways quilt. So today I laid out all of the blocks, trying -- not always successfully -- to keep the same fabric from being in any two adjacent blocks. I'll be using 99 blocks, set 9 x 11, and I've put together two rows now. I can almost see the circles beginning to form!

I don't have a design wall worth mentioning; it's just a tiny piece of flannel hung up over a closet door. I have to move it every time I want to access the closet where I store my supplies. As a result, it's always a challenge trying to find a place where I can look at something from a distance. I clipped this to the valance of the vertical blind in our guest room to take this photo. As the quilt top gets larger, I won't be able to photograph it all, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. ;)

Here is a picture of what the finished quilt should look like, as I laid it out in EQ7. I used a similar (but not identical) block that was already in the block library; it was close enough. ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have you ever ...

... made pasta? I've only recently discovered the joys of making pasta at home instead of buying the dried versions at the store. You may have seen this post, where I made some traditional pasta. However, the other day I decided to branch out a bit, so I made spinach pasta, using fresh baby spinach. Okay, I dusted it with a bit too much flour to keep it from sticking together, but most of that brushed off. But look how bright the green is! It's so much prettier than the spinach pasta at the local grocery store. But the biggest thing is that it tastes so good. We had some last night, and we'll be having more tonight. It freezes beautifully and then only needs a couple of minutes to cook, straight from the freezer. Yum!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Was I crazy??

Have I mentioned lately that it's hot here? ;) And yet, I was in the mood to bake. That means, of course, firing up the oven and heating up the house. But I had a lot of cherries -- probably the last of the season -- that I'd bought, and I was afraid they'd go bad. So ... I made clafoutis, which is a luscious concoction of cherries (though you can use other fruit, too) and a sort of custard that bakes, puffs and then is devoured with gusto. Of course, you can't let gusto get the best of you, since the cherries still have their pits! ;) Pitting them makes too much of their juice bleed out all over the custard-y part. Yum! I can hardly wait!

It's *hot*!

The Las Vegas area is hot in the summertime. That's just a fact of life. But our little Bisou has the right idea -- just cool off any way you can. So she lies on the cool tile floors when possible, and each time either of us gets ice for a drink she's right there waiting for an ice cube. It's almost her favorite treat in this weather. Can you blame her?

Ah, yes, you say. But what's this about her lying on the cool tile floor? Well, she's gotten pretty smart and knows that ice cubes tend to play keep-away on bare floors, so she attacks them on the carpet where she's in control. ;) 

By the way, in case you're wondering, we have guests right now, and it's hot. Both are reasons why my quilting isn't progressing at the moment. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Catching up

Shortly after returning from visiting my sister, I left again to go to Quilt Camp in the Pines; this made my thirteenth year there, so that tells you how much I enjoy it. Camp was under new ownership this year, with a few predictable hiccups in the changeover, but I still had a wonderful time. I met up with my very good friend and quilting buddy Phyl, and we took a class together from Helen Frost and Cathy Skow on how to do beautiful bindings on our quilts. The class was certainly worth taking! I have a big notebook full of samples of different kinds of bindings to refer to in the future. :)

Phyl and I also spent some "quality time" with EQ7, going through the PDF lessons that came with it, though we both have a lot yet to do to get familiar with this new version. We also made a side trip to a little quilt shop in Williams, where I found a pattern for Pot Pinchers -- a sort of pot holder. Aren't they cute?

All of that was the good news. Unfortunately, there was also some not-so-good news.

Last year while driving to camp, my car had several "tantrums". I'd be cruising along the freeway when suddenly the car would no longer either accelerate or even maintain speed; in fact, it seemed that the motor was completely stopping! Ack! It was all I could do to get over to the side of the road before being squashed like a bug by one or more of the semis coming along the same freeway. This happened three times before the car simply wouldn't start up again after a rest. I had to call for a tow, leaving the car in Williams and relying on a friend to get me to Flagstaff for camp. Phyl then drove me back to Williams a day or so later to pick up the car; the mechanic couldn't find anything wrong, nor could the mechanic in Flagstaff or the mechanic in Las Vegas when I got home. Okay, so it must have been a fluke, right? WRONG!

It happened again -- twice -- while I was driving to Flagstaff again this year. Luckily, it never got so bad that I couldn't start the car back up again; but it's rather disconcerting, to say the least, to be trying to zip in between trucks to get off to the shoulder of the freeway -- all while the power in the car is dying quickly. While I was sitting on the side of the road, I called my husband and told him that I flat refused ever to drive this car to camp again, and I don't think I was being unreasonable.

So now I'm home, and my husband and I went car shopping yesterday. It seems that it's a very good time to buy a car, as interest rates are quite low! We got a very good trade-in on the temperamental car, and I'm now the proud owner of a Toyota Prius! It's going to take me some time to learn how to use all of its features, but I love the fact that I'll be using lots less gas and that the car itself is completely biodegradable. I haven't had a chance to take a decent photo of my car, but this is what it looks like in Blizzard Pearl, like mine. There's lots of room in the back for sewing machines and fabric, too! :D