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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recipes Handed Down

I'm talking about something a little different today.  I've been preoccupied with sewing for awhile now but as my machine is in the shop, I need a diversion.  I watched an Essential Pepin cooking show last night about puff pastry and cream puffs.  I've always been fascinated with recipes involving dough, mainly because my mother was also.  I remember us making strudel together and coming home from school to see a bunch of Hunklich or Maple Twists ready for the taking.  Her specialty was cream puffs though, and not solely based on my word.  One year when I was in 6th grade with Mr. McQuistan we were having an auction in class.  My mom made a big plate of cream puffs to be sold.  My teacher pulled me aside and asked if I had counted how many were on the plate because he was taking a couple before the festivities even got started.  Humor escaped me in those days but I knew they would be a popular treat.  Anyway, back to my tv show.  I was curious to see if Pepin had any memorable tips for dough making and I was shocked to find out his technique.  My mom always said to hand stir the eggs in one at a time or else.  Well, Jacque said first of all to not put eggs in a hot saucepan with the dough.  He then proceeded to put the dough in the food processor, add all 3 eggs and whirl the heck out of them.  I was shocked!!!!!  It seemed to work and who would argue with Jacque Pepin?  I hope if my mother were here with us today she would have embraced the new tool and technique for making cream puffs.  Maybe she would even make her apple pies in the microwave, use real pumpkins for her pumpkin pie and also make hardtack in the microwave also. Love you Mom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Cabin Wall Hanging

Photo: Got my cabin wall hanging done. More to follow on my blog 

Here's my cabin wall hanging I just finished.  This is just the front of it but when I get several of my projects completed, I will quilt them all.  I really enjoyed putting this one together with all the different blocks with special meaning for the cabin.  I'll try and explain here the areas I wanted to cover and why I put them in my wall hanging.
  1. The first area was the cabin itself.  I made a paper pieced cabin, a flag that we hang over the railing of the front porch and a blue canning jar like the ones I have on the window sills.  I was pretty proud of myself for these blocks because I had no patterns for any of them.  I especially wanted the cabin to look like ours without going too far with it. 
  2. The second area was the animals at the cabin.  Some of these blocks are included in two areas.  The center block is called a Bear Paw block.  What I found interesting with this was it was made about 3 years ago when I first started quilting.  As I put it in with the others, I realized how far I've come skill-wise.  The other animal blocks are wolf, deer, Smokey the Bear, snake, hummingbird and frog.  Of course there are more but these were the obvious.
  3. The next area was nature or outside the cabin.  For this I used the sun (I know it looks more like a star),paper pieced fern, leaves,and snowballs.
  4. The fourth area was the four seasons which has already been mentioned in previous blocks.  My ideas for the seasons are spring  -  peepers , summer  -  hummingbird, fall  -  leaves, and winter  -  snowballs.  
Once again by not having a pattern for most of these blocks, completing the project was not easy.  I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been though.  Next step  -  quilt it and hang it on the railing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Log Cabin Star

Photo: My latest creation from quilt classHere's the star I made in my quilt class at Lakefarmpark.  It was a very interesting class where I encountered many new techniques.  I also feel like I contributed something to the class by bringing a template that I had bought that made 5 pointed stars.  The instructor had never seen it before and was quite interested.  I learned 5 things while making this block in addition to my ideas in order to finish my project.  They are:
  1. As far as prepping for the actual block, I learned to turn off the steam in my iron while I'm pressing strips, seams or completed project.  I guess that's why I had so many wonky edges.  I also created a sample grid to preview my placement of fabrics.  I would never had put so much time into that before but I realize now what a help it is.
  2. The major technique in this quilt block is the log cabin on a diamond shape.  It puts a whole new twist on the old block and I love that secondary design with the center star. 
  3. The one thing I was never interested in doing was applique and avoided it at all cost.  Unfortunately when I got to class I realized that was how it was sewn on the background.  When I reached that point in the process I started hand sewing it on but got very bored with that.  So, for the first time I used one of my decorative machine stitches and appliqued my star on.  I couldn't have been happier with the results.  I doubt if you can see from the picture but, trust me, it looks great!
  4. In completing this project I wanted to make additional stars to surround the big one.  The instructor of the class had shown us how to make a smaller star using the same technique but with background fabric in the center and only one row of blue around the outside.  When it is also appliqued on the background, all you see is the outside star and the rest blends in.  Great tip. 
  5. The last thing I learned was how to use this new Jewelbox star template that I took to class.  The one I really like was the one that was fussy cut and when completed it looks like a kaleidoscope design.  Love it!
Well the project is not done yet but I have a fairly good start on it.  I'll show you when I can put all these new wall hangings up at the cabin.  Can't wait.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Storyteller in Me

I am having so much fun creating my new wall hanging.  I'm not quite ready to post it, even partially done, but soon.  This is the one about the cabin and having a story for each block.  I'm using a lot of my scraps, especially in ways I never expected.  I'm also honing my paper piecing skills like you wouldn't believe.  I'm searching for new ways to do things and also those stories I talked about before.  It's not without its mistakes like I always say  but then I'm not taking the easy way with this wall hanging.  When I get all the blocks done I will post a picture of my design wall.  That's not to say it will look that way when I'm done but that's the point.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Frigid Temps Again

Yes, we had those frigid temps again last night  -  -12 this morning.  When will it end?  I've written before about us being number 1 in snowfall and how I've seen cold weather here before but never this prolonged.  The last gas bill wasn't too bad but I'm afraid to see the next one.  It's sad when we're excited when it gets in the 20's like that's so much warmer.  I've also never seen so many pile-ups on the interstates as this year.  I used to think accidents were the fault of drivers who didn't know how to drive in the snow or weather conditions but this year has changed my opinion.  The pile-up yesterday on I79 close to here was because of a whiteout and the people weren't going fast.  It just came on so sudden and even if you didn't hit the guy in front of you, it didn't mean the guy behind you wouldn't run into you.  We saw the storm come up and couldn't see up the road either.  I'm just so thankful we're retired and can just stay put until it's all over with.  Hey, I can walk to the store if I have to.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snowball Blaster Toy

You've probably heard of snowball makers and block makers for snow forts but never one that actually makes the snowballs then shoots them.  Well, yesterday while we were shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond, we found one.  But why do they put stuff on sale past the check-out?  I've always wondered that in other stores too.  I mean over thinking your purchase has got to be a retailers nightmare.  That's exactly what we did but it certainly caught our eyes.  I guess how it works is there is a removable ball maker on top where you put the snow in, close it, and the balls are formed.  From there you feed the balls into a chute that shoots them.  The hilarious part about it was the warning label.  It said you should never throw snowballs at friends, enemies, animals or people.  I mean who else is there!  Get real.  I understand they probably need to do this to protect themselves but this is the fun part of throwing snowballs. They could have said not to throw them at people's faces.  The truth is that most of the time the snow is not good for packing and they break up too soon but snowballs are known for disintegrating as soon as they hit anyway.  They danger would be in making the snowballs ahead of time, leaving them out in frigid weather and letting them ice over.  I'll grant them that.  You also have to hit your target which is hard and we're not convinced this will help those balls reach their target.  Anyway, I thought it was an intriguing idea and worth keeping an eye on.  If it gets reduced even more and we have another 20% off coupon maybe one will end up at the cabin for some winter fun.  I hope the label ends up inside the back cover of Consumer Reports or late night TV.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five things I learned from making this quilt


Photo: The latest quilt, finished!

Here are the 5 things I learned from making this quilt.
  1. Make sure you buy enough material from the beginning.  I thought I had but since I created the size of the quilt from another pattern that was for a table runner, I misjudged the amount.  Never assume when you go back to get more that they will still have it.  This time I really lucked out and with the white, they had a bolt that hadn't been opened yet.  The gray was a different story.  They were completely out of it at my store and were waiting for them to make more.  Thankfully I went to the JoAnn's in Westlake and found it.  Now I have plenty.
  2. Be very precise in cutting the pattern if you want everything to fall into place later.  My problem with this was that I was making my own templates.  For the circle pattern I had to find something that was a 12 " diameter so I used a dinner plate.  It still wasn't perfect and it showed later.  Hopefully I'm the only one who will be able to tell. 
  3. The quilting process itself needs to be thought through.  The pattern showed a diagram of how it should be quilted at the end of the piecing.  I found out that would not work for me very quickly. I needed to sew each row and quilt it before sewing it to the main quilt.  That way I would not have a bunch of quilt to the right of my needle and would make it very difficult to work with.
  4. This kind of ties in with the quilting process because sometimes you need to change your sewing room to accommodate it. With the help of my hubby, we set up a 6' table and moved my sewing table around so when I quilted this the bulk of the quilt would follow the table.  It worked pretty well.  I also waited until I was ready to do all my quilting to change the room.   I also found out that my back will be more comfortable if I have a higher ironing table. 
  5. The last thing I realized was that I need a completion date to keep me on track.  I guess that's why I'm able to finish so much right before Christmas.  This was a more open-ended deadline and I got very lazy with it. 
So there you have it.  By the way this quilt will go to Lesley who picked out all the material and layout.  It was supposed to go with her new couch at the time but she no longer has that.  I also wanted something that would stand up to the dogs and machine washing, hence all the machine quilting.  And as you can see I learned a lot from the process.  Enjoy, Les.