Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scraps, scraps

Don't you just wish you had enough time to use all of your ideas and stash? I sometimes think I'll have to will my stash to someone. Even when I do something that's designed to clear it up I find myself with more bits that I can't toss quite yet. I have a friend who had a most favorite fabric and she used it bit by bit till she had a fingernail sized piece and then used that! It reminds me of the book Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. A tailor had a large wool overcoat that was torn and worn. So he cut it down to a jacket and when that grew worn he cut it down to a vest and when that was worn he cut it down to a scarf and then a necktie, a handkerchief and then a button to hold his suspenders.

Monday, February 22, 2010

quilt tops

Here's Marilyn's Round Robin! she made the center 8 inch wreath and I added the final applique border. It turned out very nice and is so "her!"

Here's the string baby quilt I made for my friend's grandchild. Very simple, feminine but not too baby. My baby quilts are one yard...36 x 45 or so. This was a great scrap buster! I pinned it over the weekend and then took Sunday off to read.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Instead of going home, we are staying in town this weekend so my GH (good husband) can play cards with his friends. They haven't had a game in a couple of years so they're all excited to get together tonight. I made the sausage and pepper and onion combo that is so easy and tasty. It's good fork food - no knives needed.
I plan to spend my evening layering the baby quilt I just pieced. I'll post a picture Monday.
The first seed catalog came yesterday. I don't know how they got me on their list because seeds don't like me. The pictures look so great it's hard not to get excited and go out to buy bags of seed starter mix, armfuls of seeds and grow lights. I have none of these. I do have some morning glory seeds to try....again, some potting soil and a few small containers. We have little space for food garden. We're mostly lavender, and apple trees we don't spray so the squirrels and raccoons get the harvest. A couple of peach trees which gave us a great yield this past year, and two pear trees which this past summer gave us little but in years past gave us lots. I do have some tomatoes in pots and we gave a space next to the garage to black raspberries because I love them and as we speak my wild picking places are being bulldozed down.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicago weekend

I didn't go away. I didn't run away. We had 4 1/2 days off school for mid-winter break and I spent almost a whole day sitting here trying to figure out how to do more stuff on this blog. I'd like to have sidebars but I can't figure out how to do that yet. I did somehow create something called a 'reading list' of sites I found that I liked, but I don't know if YOU can see them. I'm figuring this out slowly and very painfully.
We went to Chicago for the weekend for a friend's surprise birthday party and she WAS very surprised. We had a nice time just being someplace else for a couple of days. The drive was good, the weather beautiful so no drama. Jeremy thought of everything to make this a special birthday for Eileen. The dinner was fabulous (I can't remember the name of the Italian place in downtown Highland Park), meeting Jeremy and Eileen's friends was fun. We can now put a name to the face when they talk about being with their friends.
We discovered there was a Trader Joe's across from our hotel. We've never been to a Trader Joe's and it was about all the exploring we had time for. We found lots of wine, some interesting melons, cheeses, pretzel bread, olive oil, it was a feast when we got home! Our daughter told us there is a Facebook petition out there to get a Trader Joe's here on this side of the state and I hope it works. What a fun place to food shop! Bruce said everything was "Ikea cheap"..."this is like going to Ikea for food!" We get into a lot of trouble in Ikea, too.
I'm working on posting some pictures. But it's confusing trying to download and resize the pics at school and then post them from other places if I run out of my own time at work. I'm working on this. Be patient.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reading list

We have a snow day! The sun is shining, she sky is blue, but the roads this morning would have been dicey for schoolbuses so here we are! I put some oldies on the CD, fed the birds and plan to work long and hard on the applique border for the round robin I'm doing. Quilting in daylight! Who woulda thought? This border happens to be on my friend Marilyn's (you've heard me mention her before!) center so I'm excited about this round. I can't show it to you yet, she might see it.
I roused myself from bed and spent an hour finishing my book. I never give myself a time to sit in my robe and read in the morning. Reading is for evening when everything else is I fall asleep! But this morning while husband shovelled I finished The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I loved her book The Historian and waited impatiently for this. It was very different from her first book, something I like to see in an author. I don't like to have a good author turn formulaic. Everything comes together in the end and the journey is pleasant, enlightening, educating and worth the time.
On my book pile here at my brother's house: Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, a birthday gift from good friends; A Reliabe Wife by Robert Goolrick; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sandwich cookies

It's almost Valentine's Day and I'm going to share our family's favorite sugar cookie recipe. These cookies have travelled to college dorms, apartments, even to Scotland the year our daughter studied there. They're like a hug.
I found this recipe in the newspaper many, many years ago, and it was an old family recipe even then.
We call this cookie Sandwich Cookie because we found it easier to store and eat with the frosting on the inside. This is a very old sugar cookie recipe so it's bland and soft. The sweetness comes from the frosting. This isn't a fussy recipe, it's just old and crispy isn't the look we're going for.
Sandwich cookie
1/2 cup blutter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 2 TBSP. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups flour
Cream together butter and sugar. Add soda mixture, vanilla, egg and salt. Blend in 2 cups flour and then slowly maybe add the other half cup. Depending on the day, the time or the mood, if you use the whole 2 1/2 cups you could end up with an unmanageable mess and a yucky, tough cookie. I slowly add that half cup - sometimes not at all! You want a nice rollable not sticky dough.
Roll the dough out on a surface lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar, not flour, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter and bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Watch them so they don't turn brown. This is a soft cookie, you don't want crunch.
I don't use a mixer on the dough. I imagine, because of the age of this recipe, a grandma standing at a counter mixing in a heavy bowl with a wooden spoon so that's what I do.
Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, and because you're going to sandwich the frosting between two cookies, you may not end up with many so I always double the batch. If you do then be careful NOT to double the flour to 5 cups. I use about 4 1/2 cups.
You can use a standard buttercream frosting, chocolate, mint. Never canned frosting!
Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Basting Christine

This is the front. Details will be in the quilting I plan to do.

This is the back

Well, it's a tie, I think. Marilyn and I pin basted the quilt but once again there are quirks. Christine is letting me know she is not going down easily. I'll have to rip out the applique on the corners and bring them in closer to the center. I've done a lot of ripping out and redoing so I guess my possessed quilt thinks it's part of the process. I know for this one I'm learning a lot:

The best thought out plans have a mind of their own
Measure twice - cut once. Measure TEN times and cut once.
Buy WAY more than you think you need. Stores can run out by the next day.
Improvise, improvise, improvise.
Have a good friend handy. Especially one who knows how to do the math.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trials of Christine

Last week was my birthday and it seemed we celebrated every day. We're staying at my brother's house for a few weeks to escape the lakeside snow machine. While he's on vacation, staying at his house feels like vacation for us. We see friends we haven't seen in months, sleep in, stay up late, eat out. And last week we crammed it all into one week.
Today my friend Marilyn is going to come to school and help me layer and pin baste my quilt I call Christine. Christine started as a good idea on a beautiful fall drive. The fields were beautiful, the sun was shining, the plow marks in the earth were symmetrical. It all looked like a quilt. For almost a year I cooked the idea in my head and gathered fat quarters. Last summer I started. From the beginning nothing worked the way I wanted it to. The whole idea changed. I decided I could live with the new idea but it wasn't what I dreamed about for a whole year.
When it was time for borders and backing I cut fabric wrong. Measure twice, cut once took on new meaning! Marilyn and I created a fix. I cut the fix wrong. Store was out of fix fabric. I called every quilt shop in my quarter of the state of Michigan and ended up in Indiana at a wonderful shop called Lolly's. They sent the fabric (save those selvages with names and numbers on them!!).
I elaborately appliqued a 'fix' and applied it to the backing. Back almost looks better than the front! I decided halfway through arguing with this quilt that it had a mind of its own and was going to use it. It was a character in a Stephen King novel. I named it Christine. Today, if she will let us, we'll pin baste Christine. I'll let you know who wins.