Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We woke yesterday to some odd sounds. I thought that The Princess was having a hard time choosing what to wear and was opening and closing her closet repeatedly. She thought that I was working in the kitchen searching for a missing utensil - opening and closing drawers again and again. Finally, Harper made it clear to us all by becoming The Velcro Dog that there was thunder in the distance. In not too much time, the sky clouded up and we had rain. Not a lot, but enough to clear the dust and leave spots all over the windows that Hubby cleaned so beautifully over the weekend.
I decided to take quick action to make the most of the weather. A real fall-like day is hard to come by around here. I baked a couple of loaves of bread.And roasted a butternut squash to make some soup for our dinner.
I cleaned and saved the seeds from the squash to toast today. They will be good sprinkled on a salad or just eaten out of hand.
Then I headed off to my little sewing cubby. I've been playing with those little squares again. This one with 16 patches is the largest of the bunch at 6" x 8". I did the hand quilting while watching tv last night. There are others to share, but I'll wait until they are really done instead of in progress.
I also put the last stitches (well almost) in Spooky Tree. The bat needs some eyes and I didn't have any suitable buttons. Instead I'll make some French knots. By the time that decision was made, I didn't feel like going out to the garage cabinets and searching around. Then a nice coffee bath and this will be ready to hang.
Hubby is on vacation for the next two weeks. Like so many others, we are staying close to home this year. Plenty of projects around the house to keep us busy, books to ready, movies to watch, and maybe a day trip or two thrown in for good measure. I think it will be nice. The sunscreen will always be handy and there won't be any jet lag.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It works. The sewing corner really works. Not only am I spending time with fabrics and my sewing machine, but things are getting finished. Or at least nearly finished.
First up is the Halloween wall hanging that I started earlier in the summer. I got the binding stitched down last night. Now I only have to decide if I really want those button spiders. Right now I'm leaning towards not, but I'll think about it some more. You never know when just the right buttons for making spiders will come along.
Already it has a lot of memories built in to it. I picked up the pattern in Sedona on my trip to Quilt Camp in the Pines with The Princess. Once of my camp classmates gave me a strip of fabric at the end of the day and issued a challenge that I find a project to use it in. That challenge fabric appears in the broom (I have more that will appear somewhere, I'm just looking for the right spot.) I did the applique on our trip to New York and purchased the backing fabric on my adventure in the city with McIrish Annie. The binding is that 'ricky racky' fabric I found on the shop hop excursion with BarnDoorJulie.
Also in my little sewing corner, I have pieced up the background for Spooky Tree, a pattern that came home with me this week.
Sometimes I like to prep my background, quilt, bind and wash it for that crinkly look before I put the applique on top. With careful stitching, the applique stitches don't show through on the back. This method works best, in my opinion anyway, on smaller pieces that don't get a lot of wear and washing. I have all the fabrics set aside for the applique and will get them prepped today in order to start stitching them down tonight.
I did manage to get out of my little corner long enough to pick some more peppers. Some of the plants are looking a little faded, yet there are blossoms galore. I wonder how long they will last?
Now it's back to my corner. I picked a bunch of scraps that I want to cut up for a little quilting experiment. I'll share the results . . . soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Inquiring bloggers, quilters and minds all want to know the same thing : Has any sewing happened in the new sewing nook? The answer to that, sadly, is: Not yet, but today - for sure. I wanted to make sure that everything was just right before I cozied myself in for a good long day of fun with my sewing machine friend. Monday I dedicated myself to laundry, fresh linens and general clean up. A clean(ish) home lends itself to guilt-free quilting, you know. Just as the chores were finishing up, it was time to make dinner. Okay by me, Tuesday is a perfectly good day for a sewing marathon.
Wait! No sewing on Tuesday. Why? Because I had a date. A very important date. A day with Julie from Through the Barn Door. Julie is vacationing in my area and we had made very important plans to shop. Shopping with a friend at quilt shops easily takes precedence over sewing. I met Julie early in the morning and we hit the road. Full of smiles and easy chatting, we had a great time as we got better acquainted all through the day. So much laughing and chatting that I must now admit that the camera never came out once all day.
Our first stop was Rosie's Calico Cupboard. Can you say, 'fabric overload'? Oh my. I know from experience that there are two ways to approach shopping here.
1. Complete and total focus. Know exactly what you want and look for only those things. To be distracted is to be completely overwhelmed.
2. Enter with a clear mind. Be drawn to where the fabric pulls you. Don't try to remember that piece that you need to finish up a project. Allow yourself to just wander and choose. It's kind of like 'free-range shopping.'
I took approach '2' yesterday and came away with some stash fillers and something new and fun. A Jo Morton print that I spied over on Karen's blog, Sewprimitive quilter a while back. I have no particular project in mind, but it will make a great border on something. I also found a nice blue brushed cotton. My stash has precious little blue, so I bought all that was on the bolt. That made me smile. The third piece is a fun little rick-racky print that I want to use as binding on my Halloween project.
My final purchase was a fall panel. It will be fun for practice on Caasi. I can test out something besides meander.
Next stop - The Country Loft, a primitive quilters dream! So much activity, the gals had just returned from their fall cruise, a class was in session and the shop was decked out in all its fall finest. Julie and I went all around loading our arms with quilty goodness. Then just to make sure we hadn't missed a thing, we wandered all around again - this time carrying baskets to hold everything we planned to purchase.
I picked up 3 new Cheri Payne patterns, some sale twills, a little fat quarter bundle and The Country Loft kit for their block in the last San Diego Quilt Shop Hop. A pretty reasonable purchase. I had other things in my basket, but I reevaluated and put some things back right before checkout.
With all that shopping under our belts, we next stopped off to refuel ourselves with lunch before hitting the road again. We headed out to The Apple Crate, not a quilt shop but they have a lot of primitive home decorating items and antiques thrown into the mix. We found the most unusual and BIG Hoosier there. If I had even a reasonable amount of room left in my home, I would have snapped that baby right up.
Then it was time to head home and try to be just ahead of the commuter traffic. I stopped to meet Julie's hubby and mom for a quick chat - what a nice family. I had a great day. Thanks BarnDoorJulie, I hope we can do it again someday.
Now as I head off to my sewing corner, I'll leave you with this picture -
A pumpkin tree! I picked it up at Trader Joe's the other day. Never seen one before, but I hope to find it every fall from now on. Just too cute.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This weekend was 'Art Splash' in our town - a fund raising endeavor for local schools.

This year there was cheese sculpture.

Rock balancing.

Sand sculpture.
And, of course, chalk art - these are only a few of the pieces that were worked on over the course of two days.
An individual or family could purchase a square and have a try at their own artwork.
This is the only work going on that wasn't temporary. A demonstration in violin making. He said a complete amateur could finish a violin in two to three months. No mention of whether it would make a pretty sound.
We missed out on the 'Taste Of' portion of the weekend. Local eateries set up booths with a tasting menu. Due to a misunderstanding on our part, that was only on the agenda for Saturday. We have been to 'Taste Of' in the past when it was held as a separate event. It's a great way to find new places to eat out in the area without the commitment of a whole meal. If you see one in your area, try it out. It's a lot of fun . . . and so tasty, too.
Here is the first look at my new sewing corner. Hubby and I found a reasonably priced computer desk that would fit nicely in the available space. There's even a drawer to hide away some of the clutter. I can hardly wait to get stitchin'.
Thanks for all the fun comments about our Zip Code celebration dinner. I love to find a reason for making a special dinner. There have been several requests for the sweet bread recipe. It can be found on the website, The Fresh Loaf, along with lots of other fun and yummy bread recipes. I just substituted the blueberries for the apple raisin concoction. Enjoy! I'm off to sew.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Can you take one more quilt-less food post? I hope so, because that's all I've got going on right now.
Farmer's market on Wednesday yielded a nice haul of tomatoes. Don't these jars look bright and colorful sitting on the counter?
Today we had a little celebration. A once in a lifetime party . . . the date is the same as our zip code. What's a party without a big meal? We had chips and dips served in a favorite set that belonged to my mom. I am sure those bowls make the dip even tastier.

We had Swedish meatballs with homemade egg noodles. The taste of the noodles makes it well worth the effort.
To keep the food pyramid in balance, we had fresh green beans from this week's CSA box. And for dessert, a braided sweet bread filled with apples, raisins and cream cheese. (There's plenty leftover to enjoy with coffee and the Sunday paper in the morning.)

I wanted the menu to be special. Hubby and The Princess selected their favorites from my bag of tricks in the kitchen. It was a fun day - okay, it took two days - preparing everything for a celebration that was unique to our little family. I think they will remember it for a long, long time. It's not just every day that you get to celebrate your zip code.
Another celebration is in order. Catherine from Quilt Obsession gave me the Wylde Woman award. I always thought I might be a little wild . . . but now I know for sure that I am Wylde. Thank you Catherine, you are so sweet to think of me.And now for the rules:
1. You can give it to one or one hundred or any number in between - it's up to you. Make sure you link to their site in your post.
2. Link back to http://www.TammyVitale.com/ so Tammy can go visit all these wonderful women.
Purpose of the Award: To send love and acknowledgement to women who brighten your day, teach you new things and live their lives fully with generosity and joy.

You know that I think each and everyone of you that I have come to know through blogging brighten my day, teach me new things and are generous and joyful. So I send it out to each of you, my blogging friends.
I hope in the coming week I will find my way back to some quilting. There has been precious little of it going on around here of late. I had all sorts of hopes and plans for a nice bonding session with fabrics and machine this week and it just never came to be. I took some time to ponder why I just haven't been getting around to any quilting projects and the light finally came on. I don't currently have a place to keep my machine set up. Instead I have to set up at the dining table and then clear everything away for meal time. Normally, I will sit at the machine for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Lately if I haven't had hours to dedicate, I just haven't bothered to set up at all. I took my troubles to Hubby last night. He helped me find a corner in our bedroom that I can set up a small table. In the meantime, I need to catch up on blog reading and commenting. I am woefully behind and hopefully by this time next week, I will be back in the quilting groove.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am ready for autumn in every way imaginable. I have said it many times before: Fall is my favorite season. I just don't happen to live in a region that captures all that fall has to offer and so I look for it wherever I can.
On a tour of the garden this morning, found a few leaves turning yellow on the apricot tree.Surely that is a sign.
But wait. The watermelon vine is still producing blossoms . . . I'll just ignore that and continue with my manufactured fall.
How about some spicy cookies? Linda shared her recipe for Soft Molasses Cookies in a recent post. Just reading the ingredient list made my mouth water and I had to give them a try. I've snitched a couple - yummy!
While The Princess was living in Germany, she kept up with the goings on around here via my blog. She watched as I discovered the joys of baking bread, knowing that she would get to enjoy what she had only been able to see in photographs. But she arrived just as the heat of summer came and there wasn't much bread baking happening. The Princess is a sandwich kind of girl. She has been dropping some less than subtle hints that she is tired and bored of salads every day for lunch. Won't she be surprised when she comes home from classes today to find this in the kitchen?
Today is also CSA pick-up and Farmer's market. I'm hoping for enough tomatoes and apples to have another round of canning and saucing. We are just about at the end of tomatoes, but apples should continue for just a bit longer.
All of the time in the kitchen hasn't left much quilting time. In the evenings, I stitch away on the hexagons which keeps my hands busy and a smile on my face. I'm sure a new project is just around the corner . . . stay tuned.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A pint - not a pound - of pickled peppers, that's what we have.
I had hoped that my last CSA box would have some carrots to add to the pot. Instead I went to the market this morning and picked up a few to try out a new recipe that will help use up some of the abundant pepper crop. The kitchen sure smelled zesty while they were cooking.

I've had quite a few requests for the tomato pie recipe. I really thought I had posted it previously and thought I could get away with a quick link. For the life of me, I can't find it. Rather than drive myself nuts looking any longer, here it is.
Tomato Basil Pie
1 - 9" pie crust *
1 1/2 c shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
5 Roma or 4 medium tomatoes - as fresh and ripe as you can get
1 c loosely packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp ground white pepper

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees (f.) Place pie crust in pie pan, flute edges and prick crust bottom 20 times. Bake for 9 - 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees (f.)
-Sprinkle warm pie crust with 1/2 c shredded Mozzarella cheese.
-Cut tomatoes into wedges, drain on paper towels. Arrange wedges on top of melted cheese in the baked pie shell.
-In a food processor, combine basil and garlic; process until coarsely chopped. Sprinkle over tomatoes.
-In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining Mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Spoon cheese mixture over tomatoes; spread evenly to cover.
-Bake at 375 degrees (f) for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbly.
-Serve warm. Garnish with basil leaves if desired. Serves 4-6.

*Use your favorite pie crust. In the past I have used the kind that are in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. I have decided it is high time I overcome my fear of pastry making and found a recipe to take on a test drive. You can find it here, if you want to give it a try. I used olive oil, which I think was a nice flavor compliment to the pie filling and just cold water rather than milk.

Nothing to share on the quilting front. We were gone over the weekend for the anniversary party, which was a hit. Now I'm catching up on laundry and other chores. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have some time for playing with fabric.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Even though the tomato plants in the garden are a faint memory now, harvests are still occurring. The pepper plants have been more than prolific this year. Here's a quick look at this week's harvest along with a tomato pie for good measure.
The bell peppers went into a pasta sauce for last night's dinner, the Anaheim's were roasted up and added to the freezer collection, and the jalapenos await a decision on what best to spice up.
For the last couple of weeks we have been getting apples in our CSA box. I saved them up, added a few from the market and made a big batch of applesauce. I don't follow a strict recipe, just cook down apples that have been peeled, cored and sliced with some added liquid (water or apple juice) and lemon juice. You can add sugar or not depending on how you feel about such things. This time I used some white and brown sugar with pleasant results. Also spices that you and your family may enjoy. This batch has ground cloves and cinnamon.
You can keep the sauce in the fridge (some recipes say up to a month.) I ladled this batch into freezer bags to use all winter long.
On the quilting front, I finished the first 'real' top that I pinned on to Caasi - the disappearing 9 patch.
I think it went well. There was on little area that seemed troublesome when I rolled the quilt for the first time. Now that it's bound and washed it really doesn't show at all. The top border is not nearly as wonky as it appears in the picture - a good photographer wouldn't have left it to go over that rake handle. Before I officially call this quilt done, I want to applique something onto one of the corners, a Christmas tree, an angel, snowflake. It just seems to want to be a holiday quilt.
Here's a peek at the next project out of the scrap basket. Mini Dresden plates.
The background block is 4 1/2". I intend to cut it down to 3 1/2", but I really needed some fabric to hang onto as I appliqued the blades down. Now to pick a fabric for the center circle and plan a way to set the 10 blocks.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Why does it seem to be part of human nature to procrastinate? It's easy to explain when the task is something unpleasant or painful. Other times there is just no making excuses for it.
Hubby's parents will soon be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. He is the oldest of their four children, each with a busy family life and none living in close proximity to another. It was decided that a family portrait would make a very nice gift but daily commitments and distance would make it all but impossible to gather siblings, their spouses, and children for a sitting. Instead each was to have a picture taken of their family and those would all be framed alike for presentation.
You may have guessed already, but we waited until the last possible moment to make arrangements for a portrait. We gussied ourselves up, practiced our smiles and headed out to preserve our images for all time. They turned out horrible! The Princess is very easy in front of the camera, but neither myself nor Hubby are. What to do?
Well, first we procrastinated for another week. Then we hung a quilt on the wall, gussied up once again, put our digital camera on the tripod and set the self-timer. Is there some reason that three reasonably intelligent adults cannot manage to look into the lens, keep their eyes open and smile all at the same time? Still the result was a couple of hours of fun. Yes, that's right . . . a couple of hours. We took over 100 photos of ourselves and only a precious handful were worthy of saving. Here we are near the end when the silliness was in full force. This is not the presentation photo, but we will get a copy, suitable for framing, for our own home. It really depicts best the kind of folks we are.
In other procrastination news, I was given the Primitive Excellence Award by Marie from a little bit of Country on the Shore.
Also Mary from Quilt Hollow gave me the I Love Your Blog award.

Thank you Marie and Mary - you flatter me so. Again I am forced to admit that I am terrible when it comes to passing along these awards. There are so many blogs that I read regularly that fall into both of these categories, I just don't have it in me to single out just a few. I love so many blogs - where I comment and lurk, too. I think that most of us are working in one way or another to keep the past alive. So to each of the faithful readers here - please accept these awards from me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

It was like a dream come true. Well sort of . . . for the longest time, I wanted to be able to make my own jam. It just seemed like such a nice, home-y thing to do. When I finally realized that the 'jam making fairy' was not ever going to descend up on me with private lessons, I ordered up a beginner's canning kit and went for it. Sweet success.
The visions began to swirl in my head. Rows and rows of neatly arranged jars on the shelf. Wholesome goodness grown in my own garden, canned on a hot summer day to be enjoyed all year long. It was a pretty vision. Then the squirrels came and destroyed my sweet little fantasy.
But I had jars, lots of empty jars just waiting to be filled. How sad to see those empty jars. They needed to fulfill their destiny. Off to Farmer's Market. Twenty pounds of vine ripened goodness for less than the cost of the plants I tended all summer for the All-You-Can-Eat Squirrel Buffet.
Now I have jars of tomatoes waiting to line the pantry shelf with enough tomatoes for Gazpacho for dinner and a tomato pie for the weekend.
Fantasy fulfilled. Well, maybe not fully. I'm planning next year's garden with all the necessary fortifications to keep those darned squirrels O-U-T!
In my last post, I asked about storing quilts without folding and got some great ideas. Miss Snips posted a tutorial on a folding method she uses. Yes, it's folding - but she says it stops those big creases we get. As an added bonus, her method allows all the quilts to be a uniform size. The Demanding Doll suggests rolling quilts onto long dowels, tying with muslin strips and standing them in the big crock. Nicole (no blog) had a similar suggestion she learned from Fons and Porter - roll onto cardboard tubes that wide fabric comes on, tie with strips and stand them up in a corner.
Thanks for all the great ideas. At least I don't have to worry about folding these little babies.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We are off and running. Monday I got a great lesson on getting acquainted with Caasi and the new quilt frame. I left with a whole lot more confidence than I walked in with that morning. When I got home, Hubby urged me to put that confidence to work and helped attach the rails, pin on a muslin practice piece, fill some bobbins and get stitchin'.
The Princess joined in on the fun. She was right at home with free-hand designs. Hmmmm - are we on to something here?This morning, Julianne had a question about storing/displaying quilts without folding them. I left a comment that included using an old floor dryer.
A quilt ladder.
And rolled and put into a big crock.
Then I looked at the pictures and realized that still each of these quilts is folded. Guess that didn't answer her question at all. Now I am wondering without a spare bed to layer them on, how do you store quilts without folding them?