Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things I Wish I had Learned from My Mother (Part 1)

My mother is one of the best cooks I have ever met.  Growing up she always made our meals and she was even creative about food.  You know what I'm talking about preschool parties with little dogs made out of hot dogs with olives for the eyes and smaller hot dogs for the legs.  Cupcakes for class birthday parties with multiplication problems written in icing on top that had to be solved before you could eat them.  I'm sure there were plenty of things my mom cooked that I complained about at the time but I really only remember one dish that I truly truly hated.  When I was younger I was in a church group called GA's (girls in action) and at one of our slumber parties the teachers thought it would be a good idea if we ate ethnic foods from the country we were studying.  I can't remember the country but I can still remember the peanut butter stew.  Needless to say there were a bunch of hungry kids that night.  I'm not a very good cook, I tend to get busy doing other things and I burn a lot of stuff.  I do okay with recipes but leave out a lot of ingredients because I just don't have them.  I wish I would have spent more time when I was younger learning from my mom how to be a good cook.  I'm sure she would have taught me if I had been willing but I was difficult and didn't want to back then.  Now I wish I would have taken the time to learn.

Every once in a while despite the fact that I know I'm not a very good cook I get the wild urge to cook something.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I made pumpkin bread which is very delicious when served hot with butter.  Then I put my crock pot to work with a white bean chicken chili.  Both turned out surprisingly well.  The hubs and I enjoyed the chili with homemade cornbread today for lunch (I froze the rest which means I can look forward to at least one good meal sometime soon).  I was so amazed with my sudden culinary success that I have Black Bean and Lime Soup in the crock pot as we speak.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp backing powder
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, really soft (I melted mine in the microwave)
3 large eggs
1 16oz can of pure pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 2 medium loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.

3, In the bowl of a mixer (or large bowl) cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs until fluffy (about 2 minutes)  add pumpkin and combine well.

4.  Slowly add the dry ingredients mixing well until blended.

5.  Pour 1/2 the batter into one of the prepared pans.  Add nuts to remaining batter and mix then pour into prepared pan.  Bake for about one hour or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted come out clean.

Notes: I only have one loaf pan so I cut this recipe in half (told you I do crazy things like this)  I also omitted the cloves because I didn't have any and couldn't see spending almost eight dollars for some at the store for one recipe (told you I leave stuff out all the time). 

Monday, September 19, 2011

What are you making?

I had a lot of fun sewing together quilt tops this weekend to make into quilts for 100 Quilts for Kids.  I was lucky enough to have blocks from quilt bees and swaps to use to make up into three tops that I hope will make some child happy.  I love that these quilts are small enough I can quilt them on my own machine and that they will give me a chance to practice my quilting skills.  Most of my larger quilts (okay all of them) have been sent out to be quilted by a long arm quilter.  I've only done one or two myself on my home machine but I've been wanting to do some more.  This is a great project to use up some of those abandoned quilt blocks from projects that you just gave up on.  Or blocks from bees that you might have loved when you picked them out but now realize that your taste have changed.  No shame in that put all of that hard work into a gift a child will love.  Once these three quilts are quilted and finished I'm planning on trying to squeeze in at least one more.  See while I love these quilts they all say girl to me and I want to send along something sweet for a little boy too because little boys need soft cuddly quilts too.  So how about you?  What are you making?  I'd love to hear where you are planning to donate your quilts to as well since I am still trying to decide.  Don't forget apart from the joy I know all quilters feel from giving from their heart you can also win some great prizes.  Check out the information on 100 Quilts for Kids Here.

Momo Wonderland Story time Quilt.
Arkansas Crossroads Quilt.  Made from blocks received in the Modern Tradition Bee.
Made form Bento Blocks I received in a Swap.  Lots of great fabrics.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scrappy Goodness

I had planed to make up a back and quilt the Momo Quilt today but as luck would have it I didn't have enough fabric for that.  Don't you hate it when you lack like 3 inches of fabric to finish something up.  Well that was me this morning and of course since it is Sunday the quilt stores in my area are closed.  No worries, I can just run out at lunch tomorrow and pick up something.  So instead I decided that I would make up another little quilt to donate.

Right now this measures about 46 inches square.
I have a whole box of bee blocks from last year a long with a few blocks from swaps that are just sitting waiting to be made into quilts.  My husband made the comment the other day that we have a lot of quilts (that's a story for another day) so I thought really these bee blocks have been sitting and why not share the love.  So I pulled out the blocks from the Modern Tradition Bee and sewed up a few of them into this quilt top that is full of scrappy goodness.  There are so many amazing fabrics in the blocks.  Everything from Amy Butler to Heather Ross to Flea Market Fancy.

Smaller squares sent by bee members
Before you think I lost my mind, I started the morning with blocks that looked like this.  Each of the larger blocks is just four of these squares sewn together and in fact one of my bee members had even sent her four smaller squares back sewn into the one large block.  It made putting the quilt top together pretty easy.  I pieced one more of the larger blocks for the back.  Now I just need to find the right fabric to surround the larger square and then I can baste, quilt, and bind this little bit of scrappy goodness in time for 100 Quilts for Kids.  What are you working on this weekend?

So many fun fabrics!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

100 Quilts for Kids

I've been thinking about joining in on this project for a while now.  I love homemade gifts and there is just something about wrapping up in a quilt that is like wrapping an extra hug around yourself.  Last night as I snuggled down under two quilts I thought about all the time and effort that went into creating them and how much I hope that the few individuals I've made quilts for could feel that love in their quilts even if they are seldom (never) used.  So today I went digging through my sewing room looking for materials I could use to make a child size quilt.

See More Details Here

I've had this tin of Summer in the City for a while now and haven't attempted to make the project inside yet.  I read through the instructions and realized that it only uses about 1/2 of the charms and only makes a 16 1/2 by 16 1/2 inch quilt.  What would you even do with that?  I thought I could expand it and make it bigger but my brain is still recovering from a migraine and I couldn't think that hard.  The tin includes a full charm pack plus extra squares of this dark brown fabric.  Of course I have no idea what color brown it is so buying more is probably not an option.  I do have a few ideas floating around in my head and so I still may end up making a quilt from this to donate.

Next up I found this pack of 6 fat quarters.  When I found this pack at a quilt show it had been made into the cutest bag but of course they were out of the bag patterns by the time I decided I had to make it.  So I picked up the fat quarters anyway thinking I could go online and purchase the pattern.  That was almost 4 years ago and I've never found the purse pattern (I probably wouldn't remember what it looked like now) and I haven't used the fabric so I thought it would work.

The DC Modern Quilt Guild did a Quilt Along based on this pattern.  Once I saw that I figured I could turn this tomato red/orange fat quarter set into a children's quilt pretty easily.  I had some Moda Champagne that I bought to make my Greek Cross quilt with.  I didn't like the way it looked with the Joel Dewberry Heirloom so it was sitting in my sewing room on the table.  I thought it looked pretty good at first with the Wonderland.

Now that the quilt top is together I'm second guessing it.  I don't think the palette is exactly what I would think of for a child's quilt.  I'm hoping the dark colors will make it usable to some mother out there and that the whimsical flowers and polka dots will win over the child.  I haven't found a place here to donate too so I'm hoping to do some research tomorrow to find a local charity that accepts quilts that I know will put them to good use.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday #10

I haven't been spending much time in the sewing room lately.  It just seems as though there are a million things competing for my time and attention.  This weekend I got to experience what it was like to have a hot water heater dump itself in my laundry room/pantry floor.  Luckily there was no damage other than the tank that had to be replaced.  Which was a two day very expensive venture but in the end it turned out just fine but left little time for sewing.  Here's a look at what's going on in my sewing space.

I'm working on this quilt still for my mother's Christmas present.  She knows I am making it so that's not a surprise but unfortunately I can't share more details because I really don't want her to know much more than that.  Luckily for me I previously gave her a few options for the layout but she doesn't remember which one she picked so that should amp up the surprise factor just a little bit.

I'm still married, to the farmer that is.  We haven't been spending a lot of time together lately but I'm hoping to make up for my neglect in farm wife duties this week by making a few extra blocks.  Last week I only made one new block and then I took Whirlwind apart for the umpteenth time because my mom pointed out one of the squares was turned the wrong way.  I still can't believe no one else here or on flickr pointed it out to me.

Do you see it now?
I wish I would have used fabrics with more contrast here.

And then of course I am still debating joining in on the dead simple quilt along.  I thought I knew what palette I was leaning towards until I saw another picture on Corey's blog today of her fabrics and her palette.  I'm going to try and only work with materials from my stash and since that is incredibly lacking in solids and diversity at the moment I may need to rethink the palettes all together and go with what I know.

After seeing this bag this week I have ideas to make one of my own.  I have a Fossil Bag that I LOVE that my brother and sister in law gave me last year for Christmas.  I'm thinking a mix of the quilted solid and corduroy for the top and straps will be just dreamy.  Do any of you have a bag pattern that you just love?  I'd like to avoid zippers because well I'm lazy and I don't know how they work.  Someday maybe I'll tackle them.  And I need a large size bag because I'm always carrying around a ton of stuff.

 Check out what everyone else is up to by stopping by Lee's.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Lynn is hosting a new quilt along called the Dead Simple Quilt Along.  The purpose is to explore colors outside of your normal palette while sewing a very simple quilt.  In other words the challenge is in the fabric selections and not the concept of the quilt.  I've been avoiding this quilt along because honestly I just don't need another project right now.  I'm already feeling more than a little overwhelmed with all the things in my sewing room already and adding something else just doesn't feel like a good idea.  But today my good friend Corey posted about the quilt along and I was struck by her choices of inspiration and the solids she pulled to go with them.  I could see some of my favorite prints playing nicely in that palette as well.  And of course her inspiration made me go start looking at colors and inspiration.  I was immediately drawn to this photo with the cool blues and warm browns.

But then I started thinking about the fact that if I was going to commit to making another project that while this is lovely it would be just another project.  BUT Rachel is also hosting Celebrate Color right now and I've been toying with the idea of making something which incorporates purples for this.  I rarely ever use purple in anything.  It's just not a color I am very comfortable with.  But since Rachel posted such a great set of inspiration photos for Celebrate Color in eggplants, figs, and rich purples I though it must be okay to use purple as a fall color and why not mix the two things together into one project and knock out two personal goals in one.  I can always donate the quilt to a worthy cause when I'm done.  Kate is hosting 100 Quilts for Kids so maybe if I make something in purple hues it will be like checking three things off the quilting goal list.  I saw this inspiration photo and I really dig it.  I'm not sold on the tan and green in the photo but after all it is just inspiration so I could go with something a little richer if I wanted, right?

 But when I think of fall colors I don't really think of the cooler colors of fall like the silvers and purples.  I think of the rich warm colors.  I was telling Corey about my ideas and she sent me this inspiration photo which I love!  So my quandary is really this, do I go with something I'm comfortable with and make something I know I will love?  Do I go with inspiration that I like that just because I like it?  Or do I go with something that will push my normal limits and allow me to check a few things off the quilting list?

These last two are just some inspiration that I love and are really just for fun.  Although I have to be honest the more I look at the oranges, peaches, and grays in this one the more I am drawn to it.  Can't you just see that as an amazing little quilt.  I'm thinking some nice solids with a little Fresh Cuts thrown in, Dreamy!


But then again this last one does work well as a inspired palette for boys.  And of course if I'm going to be donating it we all know there aren't that many quilts for boys out there.  It's just so easy and fun to make something pink and frilly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Block

The farmer and I aren't fighting much lately.  In fact we haven't really seen that much of each other.  Between a storm that was a brewing (Irene) a vacation with my real hubs and all the preparation that went into those two things I haven't been making much time for the farmer.  I gave myself a pass for the last two weeks because I knew I had made extra blocks early on and that I wouldn't really fall behind if I allowed myself a break from the Farmer for a little while.  I must admit I didn't plan to take two weeks off or that now approaching the third week I would have still only made one block within the last three weeks.  And actually I made this block while Irene was gusting outside of my sewing room window before the power started to surge and I was afraid something awful would happen to Bertha.

Block # 103 Whirlwind
This block was simple enough to make but I'm still unhappy with the way a few of my points line up.  You know that feeling when you think that could be a little better but you take it apart and do it again and it's almost worse.  Well every time I took this one apart (I lost track after the third time) it got a little more off than the time before so finally I decided to leave well enough alone for now.  I still may go back and remake this one before putting the final quilt together.  I'm not sure what blocks I want to work on next so I am hoping a little inspiration will strike me this week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Central Rails

I finally finished something.  It feels like it has been a long time since I actually sat down and finished something.  I like some of the long term projects that I have going right now like my hexagon quilt and my Farmer's Wife Quilt but sometimes it's nice to just finish something too.  I've been a member of the Old Red Barn Quilt Along Group for a long time but this is the first quilt from that group I have actually finished.  Ironically enough it is also the first quilt that the group made.  I used two Jelly Rolls of Central Park by Kate Spain for the front and yardage of a piece for the back.  I had originally planed to use the left over fabric from the back for the binding but in the end I had enough strips from the jelly roll left to make a scrappy binding.  This is the first time I used that technique and I actually like it a lot.  So I see more scrappy bindings in the future.

Front of Central Rails
Scrappy Binding
Back of Quilt.  I kept it simple with one main fabric and just an inset of left over pieces from the front.  Easier than trying to match up the pattern repeat.
Close up of the quilting.
This quilt was quilted by a long arm quilter in a variegated yellow/orange thread in an open scroll pattern.  Fresh from the dryer and I think it has just the right amount of crinkly goodness.  I love the simpleness of the pattern but the fact that it still is visually interesting.  The fabric is great but then again Kate Spain is one of my favorite designers ever.  Hence the fact that I have WIPs in Fandango, Verna, and I'm sure something else I'm failing to remember at the moment.