Nov 24, 2009

A finish

Okay, the challenge top is done about an hour ago. I don't know how successful I was with this one. Now that I look at it, that red piece looks too bright in the picture but in person not so much. Maybe because the plaid reading more as a dull red from a distance? Actually I had put more of the plaid piece in there first and ripped it off as there was not enough contrast and now I am second guessing that decision.

Some of the fabric is from my stash, others were donated so it has found a new home. SOOO I will say what Pam says---IIWII and done is a good thing since the deadline was a week away. Only thing left is the binding seaming. I should have pics of the other Belles efforts next week and will post.

Skyler just popped up here as I loaded pics to the computer. Don't ask me what he wants---a mouse and a squishy toy are sitting there but he wants neither of them. A puff ball instead or more pets?? Funny boy!

Jane called this morning with an invitation to join her and Aline for a movie this afternoon plus a stop for lunch and a Hobby Lobby run. She picked me up about 11 and off we went. I've hardly been out of the house lately except to run errands so it was good to have a girls day out.

Tomorrow it will be cooking day. If we are going to have Thanksgiving meal at noon time or thereabouts, I want to get as much prep work done as I can. Not unlike a lot of women in that regards. You'll know where to find me--I'm the one in the red chef's apron, LOL.

If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for my BIL Rick who is recuperating from heart surgery done today. Sister Diane said that surgery went well, praise God. THX

Guess that's it for now-----

Nov 20, 2009

sometimes just sewng IS the challenge

The sum total of my sewing this week once I finished up the Be Attitudes quiltlets? One seam, just now on a large HST. Some weeks, as I said the title, just sewing can be the challenge.

See that lunch box fabric? What would you do with it if you had a yard cut? It is an older Moda print from 3 Sisters called "Mrs. Nelsons' 2nd Grade" It was given to the group by a WTIL list friend from KY. Kitty gave us enough challenge fabric at one time to take care of 4 years worth of annual challenge. I handed yard cuts of it out month's ago to those who wanted to participate but yet, this is the first year I haven't had a clear cut idea of what I wanted to do. I have looked at my pattern collection, magazine clippings, online for inspiration for this and for the FABS challenge too. For weeks I have basically waffled between two ideas. We like to share the finished tops at our Christmas party meaning I have less than two weeks to get it done. Make a decision already!

I picked Diane Weber from Sew Biz "Picture Perfect" Wednesday I pulled more fabric from the stash and pressed it. I tweaked the design in EQ though. Ms. Weber showed it in a rectangular and a square design but I wanted it a little longer since it will be donated to Wrap Them. Yesterday I cut it out. A bunch of half square triangles are involved. Some, I can use my trusty Triangles on a Roll. I am using my quick quarter ruler to mark most of the larger HSTs but it turns out one print is directional I am going to end up "wasting" the one half of the square and sewing traditionally. Well, nothing really ever goes to waste around, more like re-purposed. I might use that stitch in the ditch stuff to stabilize the seam though as I have never had much luck trying to sew those bias seams by traditional "match 'em up methods". I veer to the left with it seam allowance or the machine eats them. Not pretty! I did cut them oversized though so should be able to trim them down to what they should be.

Want to hear something funny/ironic? I used so little of the challenge fabric plus have some that one of the Belles didn't use on her project that I will probably get a bonus quilt out of it. Chances are, I can use my runner up selection with some of the same fabrics I will use in Picture Perfect. Here is a link to it--- Mahjongg, Anne Wiens' design for Sweetgrass Creative Designs. Doubt I will have it done in time for the party but who knows?

And on the subject of cutting---production is so down around here lately that this is the first time I have used either my newly applied iron quick on my pressing board and the newly replaced 24 x 36 Olfa cutting mat. I remember quilters talking about the smell of the mats but now know first hand what they meant! I don't remember needing to let any of its predecessors are out. Even DJ was walking by the door saying "what's that smell?"

What have I been doing if I am not sewing? Tuesday was the quilt meeting. LOL, I filed some more papers in sheet protectors---patterns and clippings donated by one of the members that were just stacked in a pile where you couldn't really see what was there. Had a nice lunch and visit. Came home to format and print out a postcard to send out to the members with the party particulars. Looked for and mailed off a picture of a "Tennessee Waltz" (combo of Snowball and 54-40 and Fight blocks alternating) that another girl was looking for. Rosa will buy the pattern and the fabric if her granddaughter likes the looks of it but she needed something to show her first. Order prints of the recently turned in quilts.

Wednesday, DJ and I had errands to run and he had me looking for something online once we got home. I have been goofing around in the kitchen baking and/or playing with my mixer or thinking about playing with my mixer by collecting recipes online. (More practice needed with pie crust---just sayin'.) Time just got away with the usual time wasters---solitaire, marbles, yacht and farkle. Next thing I know it is time for bed. Today so far has been more of the same and supper preparation will begin in about an hour. My fault, just not so motivated, I guess.

Well, it is not going to get done just talking about it, it is? How is that for a kick in the patootie? First, ditch the sweater and the tennis shoes I have on--can't sew with sleeves or use that foot pedal with that elevated heel!

Nov 17, 2009


I had requests for both of the recipes that I used yesterday----so I'll post them here

so good still warm from the oven with melt-y chocolate.
serves 8---very rich so you will want small slices

2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
1 cup pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)
1- 9 inch deep dish pie shell---thaw it for 15 minutes, prick it, place on a baking sheet and
pre-bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes

Lower the oven temp to 350 after the pie shell is baked

Beat eggs until foamy in a large mixing bowl.

Add sugars, softened butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. (Speed 4 with the kitchenaid with flat beater)

Add flour and salt and mix until well combined.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread into the pie shell. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and back 55-60 minutes until the top is puffed a bit and golden brown. Cool before serving. Serve with whipped topping if desired.

If you are not using a KitchenAid stand mixer, the speed 2 that it refers to is a "slow mixing"--whatever speed you would use for mashing, heavy batters or your bread kneading setting.

(I suggest a bit more salt 1 1/2 teaspoons and definitely more garlic, doubled or even tripled)

1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons if you use bulk yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105 F to 115 F)
3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced garlic--I used the bottled minced stuff
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash---it will be used twice so don't dump it out

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.

Place 3-1/4 cups flour, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, and salt in bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl.

Continuing on Speed 2, slowly add yeast mixture and cold water, mixing about 30 seconds. If dough is sticky, add remaining 1/4 cup flour. Knead on Speed 2 about 3 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

On lightly floured surface, punch dough down several times to remove all air bubbles. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 12 inch long loaf. Place each loaf on greased baking sheet or in greased baguette pans. With sharp knife, make 3 to 4 shallow diagonal slices in top of dough. Beat egg and 1 teaspoon water together with a fork. Brush each baguette with egg mixture. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Brush top of each baguette again with egg mixture. Bake at 450 F for 15 to 18 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Tip: Freeze up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature. Wrap loosely with foil. Heat at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Nov 16, 2009

if it looks like bread................

it must BE bread, LOL. Ignore the chunk the cook cut off for quality control purposes. (I think it needed a bit more salt--tastes a little bland in spite of the herb and garlic mixed in)

After spending a couple days reading the kitchenaid forums and printing off recipes and filing them along with my previously acquired yeast bread/quick breads I finally fired the mixer up. Big old 3 inch ring binder is full!

I ran into one of the Belles at the store yesterday. Jane suggested maybe we could do soup and cornbread for lunch at our meeting on Tuesday rather than head out to a nearby restaurant for "more chicken salad". Yeah, it's good but she wanted something different for a change. I asked her which one did she want me to fix--the bread or the soup? She chose soup, LOL. I added buttermilk and Martha White cornbread mix to the grocery list. I have all the ingredients measured out and along with the utensils so I can just mix that up quick and bake it there in the church oven. The Herb Garlic Baguettes will be shared---well, one of them will. The one I whacked into can stay home for our supper. Two different sizes and a little mis-shapened but it is bread. It rose and did all the things it was supposed to. (I made DJ a Toll House Pie before that as his "thank you" for the mixer so that was the inaugural dish, I guess)

So after playing the kitchen for several hours I think I am ready to do something quilt-y. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by---------

Nov 15, 2009

A finish

Woohoo! All done with the "Be Attitudes" series when I took the last binding stitches on December's and sewed on a little pompom instead of a button. I had them on hand so why not?

I think today will be a hand quilting day, another block on the FAB friendship quilt is the goal. Next up to sew will be to get my queen sized Strip Twist blocks into a flimsy--last seen HERE a month ago. They have been sacked up in stacks waiting for me. Next up to cut, my Bama Belles challenge quilt though I best decide what pattern first! I'm waffling between two ideas but have compatible fabrics pulled so that's a start anyway.

Hope you all have a great day in whatever you chose to do-----

Nov 13, 2009

checking in

Well, I got the binding finished on the November "Be Attitudes" quiltlet and it is up on the living room wall. Most of the October one is done, minus one long side and the buttons that will be added to the dog's cute face. I'll post the October and December blocks when both are done.

I've been busy though with other stuff around the house. On
Tuesday evening, late and in the pouring rain the UPS fellow delivered my new KitchenAid mixer. I didn't realize just how tall these thing was going to be! And at first, I was not sure that I wanted it up on the cabinet top either. It is way too big to fit the spot that used to house the Oster Kitchen Center as well but there was sure a lot of nice storage room for the cookie sheets, muffin tins, wire racks and such!

Wednesday I set about to make room in the cabinets and found a spot by moving some things around. You just know that led to some serial cleaning, don't you? Yep, one cabinet affected three more and then the standing unit above the buffet. That led to some clearing the laundry room shelving where I store my baking stuff. Then on out to the storage room off the carport. What we didn't need was either tossed or delivered to the thrift store.

Mid morning today, I head out to the kitchen to find that DJ moved the KitchenAid back up to the counter from the lower cabinet. He had put the food processor down in its place which we had discussed doing. What a sweetie! He said he just knew that when I needed it, he wouldn't be around to hoist it up to the counter for me as he had offered to do. He didn't want me to strain my back lugging it out myself. A big plus is that the kitchen appliance cover that I had originally made last year for the food processor that was wayyyy too big, fits the mixer perfectly!

My manual came with just a few bread recipes but referred to some cake recipes that would help you adapt your existing ones for use with the KitchenAid. I joined a yahoo group and a sweet lady was able to share them from her manual. I spent some time adding those to my Mastercook software along with a bunch of others that I had accumulating in my email files. That and a mailing for the quilt group kept me busy.

Today I was able to get a text file from the kitchen aid forum but spent some time re-formatting it for my use, 200 some pages, LOL. The cake recipes were among them but lots of other good sounding things. There went a good chunk of the day today. I think I have a better understanding of how this works as compared to less high speed mixers after all that proofing, spell check and such!

So I still haven't actually fired the thing up yet, LOL. I really want to try one of the bread recipes though---maybe Honey Oatmeal Bread but the basic sweet dough to make cinnamon rolls looking tempting too! I may give that a whirl tomorrow provided I have all the ingredients on hand. I did notice that they called for using 2- 8 1/2 inch loaf pans. I only have one that size and another larger than that. I was not able to track down another at the three places I checked. The aluminum foil, yes, for holiday baking but all I seem to be able to find is the 9 and 9 plus. Two sized loafs, does it matter? What do you think??

The other thing I would like to get in coming days is filing the quilt patterns and printouts that have stacked up again. I think I should own stock in the sheet protector company as many of them that I use for recipes and quilt stuff, LOL. I see a run to the office supply store in my future.

Guess that's it for this installment---thanks for stopping by!

Nov 10, 2009

Tuesday check-in---10 n 10 plans

So far Ms. Ida has dropped 2.5 inches of rain in our rain gauge here in the NE central part of Alabama. It is still pouring and breezy so who knows what the final tally will be for this rain event? (ed: note---we topped out at 5 inches plus. The rain gauge filled but DJ was not going out in the pouring rain to empty it ) Last I heard we were 10 inches over our annual average rainfall totals and the ground is already saturated. In fact, we went through a 9 day stretch without any rain --first time since a period in late June/early July!

I canceled our quilt meeting till next week as there we were in a flash flood watch--no one needed to be out slopping around in that mess today. Also I had woke up for the 2nd day in a row of almost like migraine-like headache. I'm the one with the key to let us into the fellowship hall so I figured it would be best to just head any of the regulars off at the pass. Skyler and I went back to bed for a couple hours and I feel a bit better now.

Yesterday I spent some time doing some hand quilting on my FAB friendship quilt, something I love doing but often do not make time for. The stencil I had selected is called Four Fleur from The Stencil Company. Part of the reason I selected it was that I also needed it to provide some fill for side setting triangles and use a portion of the motif in the corner triangles as well. I am still debating whether I want to do some hand work in the outer border. After all, I do want to hang this on the wall in the bedroom at some point, LOL. Their Gentle Wave border is on hand if I do want to use it---it echoes that knobby look.

Of course, my handsome boy kitty HAD to come sit on the quilt in the hoop---just HAD to! Twice we had some snuggle time and quilt testing and a break from stitching. My camera was already out in the car or I would have taken his picture to share. I plan on working on the binding on those last three "Be Attitudes" quilt-lets I shared in the last post---got them all quilted over the weekend. Woohoo--almost a finish!

That leads me something that Norma and I have been talking about for a couple weeks now, brainstorming and tweaking as a way to keep ourselves motivated and on track. We are both impressed and inspired by how our pal Pat managed to get things done on her lists. Norma and I both would tell that all too often we want to do everything and then end of getting sidetracked. Or worse, get ourselves so bogged down with other peoples stuff that our own projects are neglected.

To that end we have come up with a "10 in 2010" plan (10n10) for next year but I am implementing it a bit early as an organizational tool. Here is what we have so far and how it should work in theory:

We think that there are several areas in our quilting lives: UFO, finish to flimsy, quilt/bind it, cut it and rewards. We should be able to pick at in any category depending on our mood at the time.

  • UFOs--something you have pretty much abandoned for some reason----pull it out and work on it, re-purpose it or give it away/toss it but deal with it in some manner. Those things are like weights pulling you down and making you feel guilty.
  • finish to flimsy --you may have started the blocks but set them aside and you want to get at least the top done
  • quilt/bind--maybe it's pinned or you have to prep the backing and binding yet but could be worked on and the quilt completed
  • cutting/kitting -- usually there is something that you need to cut out in order to keep rolling
  • Rewards--what are you "itchin' to stitch"? Finish a UFO or a deadline task then you can pick something from this "fun" list. Norma and I both know we need this to jump start our creativity and give ourselves permission to play. She explains the "reward" system on her blog post.
Now pick two items for each category that you want to focus on. 10 total should be a fairly manageable number. Things should cycle through a bit and you can add another item in its place if you want.

On further consideration I decided I needed two more categories for my list writing:
  • donations and deadlines---I do some commissioned work on occasion and always have some quilt, mine or one of the groups' around for WTIL. This would include any challenge quilts I do.
  • ongoing---blocks I make till I have enough for a top, my red work Santas, the Seasonal quilter I want to do next year are examples. Hand quilting too.
Want to join us? Jump right in! Tweak it to suit your needs but any way you chose to do it, keep busting that stash and have fun!

Thanks to those who commiserated with me about my mixer and had suggestions of brand and ideas of where to look. Because I had primed DJ for months with how much these things run, he asked me to look online to price them. It turned out that shipping was going to be less than the 10% sale tax we would have had to pay had we found a bargain here locally. I am getting a refurbished 5 qt heavy duty professional Kitchen Aid with a 475 wt motor----in boring white. Yeah, I love the red but the rest of the small appliances are white so watcha going to do? It should be delivered this afternoon and from the tracking, it is out in the county somewhere with my UPS person. 6 qt would have been nice but I didn't want to push my luck with the fella paying for it.

Nov 4, 2009

WIP Weds

Time for another addition of WIP Weds. What's up for today? Machine button hole applique around the latest and last prepped "Be Attitudes" quiltlets, shown in the "before" stage. "Be Forgiving" for October, "Be Grateful" for November and "Be Joyful" for December. Only a little behind here but that is what happens when I spend a goodly amount of time machine quilting. I am thinking I will quilt the November one first. If things get set aside a bit---that happens around here, a lot--then at least that one should be finished for hanging and decorating this month.

I have so enjoyed having these little projects to look forward to even though I have been playing catch up and working forward the latter half of the year.

I am thinking that perhaps my next year's fun project will be to work up the Amy Bradley "Seasonal Quilter" series which I have owned for a couple of years. Not only is the Quilt Diva character cute but the fun banners that she holds are perfect for seasonal decorating with birthday cakes, Halloween, St. Pat's,Valentine's Day, Easter.............well, you get the picture. There are 9 banners in all--a house block that says "welcome" is the one that hangs between holidays. Actually I already did the "Boo" banner as a quilt block, slightly resized, on someone's seasonal row quilt a few years back shown HERE--scroll down to Debora's top . I had considered the pilgrim block and St. Pat's for two other members of the group BEFORE I saw what they had already completed by the other participants. Yep, I think that is what I will do! Either that or Nancy Halvorsen's In Season wall hangings but I am leaning more to the monthly thing rather than quarterly.

Looking back in the archives for the link to Debora's top reminds me that I have not completed either my 07 or 08 Collinsville rower tops or come to think of it, my fall medallion round robin either. One of those had better go on my "hope to get done" in the coming year piecing to flimsy projects! Always something---well, just talking about it won't get it done, right?

I see by the clock that I better head on out to the kitchen. I want pizza for lunch and need to throw the crust ingredients together. This time out I think we'll go with a Tuscan Chicken version. I'm getting better at crusts but still keep trying new recipes to get the version I will stick with as my "tried and true", go-to recipe. If you like to experiment as I do, you might like THIS one from a recent Taste of Home issue for "Perfect Pizza Crust" I thought it was a slow riser and gave up on it and threw it in the freezer and used a different recipe for the meal. It turned out fine once thawed and rose nicely in the oven when I DID use it weeks later. Good flavor to the crust.

ED NOTE: May we please have a moment of silence as my stand mixer just died. Yep, just started to knead the crust and the motor gave up the ghost. I threw the dough in the food processor so I think I was able to salvage it but it's gone, gone, gone. Dead and gone. I had just finished saying to DJ "you know how old this thing is? No grounded plug" For months I have been telling him that if this thing ever gave up the ghost I want a Kitchen Aid and we know they are pricey.

Once upon a time it had a blender attachment. It died long ago. The Salad maker attachment was next--something broke off the head and it was shooting cabbage all over the counter. The bowl has been replaced once but has annoyed the living heck out of me as there is no pouring spout plus its heavy and hard to get batter out of it without wearing some of it or asking DJ to hold it while I scrap. NOT ergonomic, at all. But still, I have had it since the mid 80's and fixed a lot of good food with it. Out to the garbage it all went with the grinder attachments which did still work along with the beaters, bowls and dough hooks. DJ, being a guy, wanted to tinker with it to see how it works but he'll have to drag it out of the trash can if he is serious.

Now it will be scour the sales ads. Maybe since the holiday baking season is coming up they will be priced down. We'll do some research at the library in the Consumer Reports but I am open to any suggestions as to what models you use that won't break our bank. I have a hand mixer but that won't work for all my needs by a long shot.

Thanks for stopping by---------