Monday, April 30, 2012

Strawberry Weekend

Sweet little red berries...You were on sale. So...I bought 16 lbs of you. What to do, what to do? My sister flat out refused to buy one of my containers of strawberries. Apparently she doesn't need to make strawberry jam.  You may wonder why I bought so's hard to remember quantities when you haven't made something for an entire year.  I thought jam took many more strawberries than it actually does.  Oops.  Oh well.  The mass quantities of strawberries turned out for the best.

Strawberry Adventures Numero Uno

That would be Strawberry Jam.  Yum!!  When my Young were very young, they weren't into jam.  In fact...they flat out refused to eat it.  Peanut Butter, Honey or plain butter were there toppings of choice for bread items.  Now though, they can't get enough of jam.  At least the pink kinds.  So, mass quantities of strawberry jam are needed.

Okay, here's the thing about making jam...I always screw it up.'s the good news, even though I screw almost always turns out okay in the end. need to worry too extensively.  Here's the deal:  I always think I've read the instructions, because I only use the recipe included in the MCP box...but then I'll come to a step and realize...I've screwed it up already!?!?!  What the...  Okay.  I'd like to say it's because they have their steps in a funny order... which they do, but also, I just go too fast.  So here are my tips for making strawberry freezer jam...which is the best jam.  It tastes just like fresh fruit.  So good!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Like a Shakespearean Tragedy

Out, damned spot!

uhhh...Sorry.  I just went all, Lady Macbeth on you there.

It's not really as bad as all that...but it's still pretty bad.  Let me show you.

That's right.  Seedling murder.  Oh, I cannot bare to look at it.  La Chienne is a foul murderess.  She thinks anything in the back yard is hers to do with as she pleases...I do not agree with this assessment.  Let me just say I have had to repair more shoes than you can shake a stick at because La Chienne likes to eat Velcro off of things...that's it.  Just the Velcro.  And apparently seedlings.

See this little guy?  I am attempting a save.  I had 4 of them and planted them in the veg garden, but it's so early...I am nervous.  One didn't make it already.  Cross fingers for the other three.  Now I am going to have to pay attention to the weather each night and if it looks too chilly, take preventative measures.

On to happier news.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The big swelter

Where's Spring?  I just made this mini quilt and it's the wrong season apparently.  I refuse to turn on the air conditioning.  Am I just being stubborn??  Maybe.  But, it's April.  The air conditioning should not be on in April.  Even if it is almost 90 degrees outside.  I don't want to turn the ac on until June to be completely honest. 

So, because of the sweltering heat, I have started on my summer mini quilt by Jodie Warner called...What's Coming Up Summer.  It's along the same lines are What's coming Up Spring...only more summer...y.   I have the perfect border fabric which is where I stated with this one.  I'll show you it in a bit.  But, let's just say summer is going to be shades of hot pink and orange and turquoise accents.  So cute.

This is what I've got done so far...yeah, not much.  These are peony blossoms...which I find perfect as I have a peony shrub in my front yard that is about to burst forth with the most beautiful magenta blooms...I am trying to decide whether to change the larger circles and get rid of the light pink that's around the edge...I think the edge needs to be a darker pink all around with the light pink in the middle.   Settled.  I am going to have to change it.  I'm so glad we had this talk.

My seedlings.  They seem to be doing fine....except the flat that I let die from lack of water one day...ahem.  They didn't all die...just half.  I'm a beginner.  I can't be expected to have all my starts survive.  Casualties were expected.  I worry that maybe I didn't get them started soon enough indoors and that they won't be quite as thriving as I want when they get planted in a couple of weeks.  We'll see.  I have two weeks to go so....cross fingers.

Due to a bout of High Cholesterol in mi familia, I am now cooking much more low carb.  This is an experiment that went very very right!!  I wanted to slow cook.  I wanted soup.  Here's the shake down...

Low Carb Chicken Soup...Crock-Pot Style
5 chicken legs with thighs attached
25 oz or so chicken stock
A large pile of carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 onion diced
A largish handful of green beans, ends removed and chopped roughly
Fresh Thyme...several sprigs
Smoosh...yes that's a technical cooking term...ahem.  Smoosh a good size amount of tomato paste...I used the kind from the tube that way I won't waste the rest of the can.  I would say I probably used 2 Tbl. of tomato paste
Smoosh a good size amount of garlic paste...less than the tomato paste.  Maybe 2 tsp. or so.
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Or be like me and cook on low for 5 hours and then bump it up to high for 1.5 hours.  I was running out of time.  Take out the cooked chicken and remove the meat from the bones.  Discard the bones and skin unless that's your style.  Place meat in a bowl, spoon a hearty amount of stock and veg over the chicken.  Serve.  Your family and you will be very happy you did.  For a recipe I made up on the spot, I am incredibly pleased with how this turned out. 

If you haven't seen the tomato paste and garlic past in a's a visual for you. 

It's really a convenience item, but to be honest when I'm cooking low-carb I need all the short cuts I can find.  Unfortunately I am not inspired by low-carb and consequently I want the easiest options possible.  I don't even want to chop garlic.  But really, in this soup, you don't want chunks of garlic.  The garlic paste is a perfect fit, it blends seamlessly.

The Mister ate it for 4 days straight thanks to the large amount of left overs it created.  My Young also ate this quite impressively even though I thought they would hate it at first sight.
Gratuitous I got a cute kid pic of the Day

That's right....6 teeth and counting.
Thanks for reading all!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Coming Up Spring...The Big Reveal

It's done!!  It's so cute.  It sits in a seldom used corner of my living room...that may I say could use a little zazzing up and I love it.

What do you think?  I don't mean to brag...but I did say it was going to be cuter than the one the designer of the quilt, Jodie Warner made.  It really is....if I do say so myself.  It's all relative....and I'll say it again, that's what's so fun about quilting.  You take somebody else's idea and make it your own.

How 'bout some close ups??!?

The cherry tree complete with cherry blossoms.  Her ideas are so creative.  I love that she doesn't just use your typical fabric.  She uses Organza here, where you melt the edges with a flame so they curl up and look like petals and attach them with beads.  Clever!  The Mister though, was quite concerned when I would sneak down to the basement to burn things...

This is made from the loveliest wool felt.  It's something special when you buy a material of quality.  Normally I would buy whatever Joann's had, but as we were at a lovely little craft store, I bought their true wool felt, it really wasn't much, maybe $6 for 1/2 a yard.  But as I am only using a bit of it, I want really nice quality.  My Mother worried that the dark brown wording over heather grey back wouldn't work...but I think it worked very well! 

The bee tag.  Again this was a very clever technique.  We used Organza again to make the wings.  You can't really see in this picture.  But the wings have veins sewn in.  Using your sewing machine you sew over a pattern, then cut it out a scan 1/8" around the edge and then lightly burn the edges to melt them sealed.  I was supposed to use an eyelet to attach the tag on...but I don't have an eyelet punch for one....and I didn't really want to buy one.  For another, I don't know how I feel about punching holes in my quilts.  Maybe, since I am making 4 of these and my Mother is making 4 we'll feel the need to buy a hole punch...but as for now, I just tacked it on and sewed the leather strap on.  I think it works fine.

The daffodil.  For the yellow center, we ruched a yellow ribbon and then over it, tacked on the little buttons.  Very nice touch.  Apparently though I forgot what she did.  My Mother said that she put all the buttons right in the very middle whereas I put them all over.  I think it's okay.

Here it is in it's place in the world.  It's only missing one thing and that's a wooden rod going through the back to make it hang straight.  The Mister has to get on to chopping one to size for me.  He loves helping me with projects.  Good news is...he's going to compost my vegetable garden today too!  Love!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Flimsy's connected to the batting. The Batting's connected to the back...

Sandwich day!!  This is always both a good and a bad day.  Good because it means I've got a quilt top aka a flimsy and a quilt bottom completely sewn!  Woo hoo!!  Bad because it means I've got to baste them together somehow...The Mister was quite confused when I told him I had to go to the store to buy some basting spray.  "Are you making a turkey?"  He asked.

Nope.  Basting means to hold your 3 layers of quilt together somehow. I used Dritz Quilting Spray Adhesive to hold my layers together.  Instead of pinning or stitching the layers together I am using science!  I hope the science works.  Because quite frankly, this is a very large quilt and I am not machine sewing it, I am hand quilting...but it does say on the bottle that it can be used for hand quilting....I just hope all the layers stay together.  I did pin it a bit.  I didn't trust the spray completely as I've never used it before.  We'll see how it goes.

To start out, I used This Tutorial to give me the basics on what I need to do.  I watched a couple of You Tubes as well...but I found this tutorial was the best way for me to go about things.  She's very thorough.  As you can see from the picture above, you need something kind of heavy to hold the batting in place.  I chose Quart jars of tomatoes.  They were handy and I had four of them.  She recommends heavy weights, but this is what I had.  It worked.  I've tried tape before and found it seriously lacking.  It pulled up too easily and frayed my material and just didn't hold properly.  The tomatoes...were awesome!

She also gives what I think are completely great tips.  Like using safety pins, outline your corners so you know exactly where the top of your quilt lies.  This is especially useful if you have a pieced back and want it to not be wonky.

Here it is!!  All ready to be spray basted down and looking lovely!  If I do say so myself.

The back.  Can I just say two things about the back.  I had so much fun sewing it!  I had an extra block left over and I knew I wanted to incorporate it into the back somehow.  I also wanted to use fabrics that I had used in my front blocks.  I just went with the flow and did what felt right.  I didn't have any pre-conceived notions about how I wanted it to look besides the fabric I wanted to use and so it was just pure fun sewing.  I had to make adjustments with the fabric on the fly to fit the size and it was a good time getting everything to work together.  Yay! 

Fun comes to a screeching halt... I apparently didn't measure properly and so when I was ready to baste everything together...low and behold my back was about 7 inches too short.  So that meant I had to haul it back to the sewing room and add more to it.  That was not pure fun sewing.  That was a drag.  When I'm ready to do something I WANT TO DO IT NOW!!!!  zero patience people.

But it's all worked out I suppose and I am off and quilting.  The spray baste is holding up so far...I'll keep you posted on how it's working.

Gratuitous I got a cute kid pic of the Day
My Young have a serious problem after they go swimming.  Their hair goes weird.  It's hard to describe. It gets kind of dry and crunchy and very very tangled.  So, I figured the only thing to do was get them swim caps.  My Oldest likes hers.  My Youngest doesn't.  Oh well.  I'll keep trying things.

Thanks for reading all!


Friday, April 13, 2012

My babies

Lots of babies in the house right now....not human babies....but still babies.

Can you see it?  It's so tiny.  But that is a Padron Pepper just germinated.  This is the plant I wanted the most out of all the seeds I chose...but wouldn't you know this has been the longest one to germinate and out of the 10 or so pots I planted them in...probably 3 seeds to a pot.  I have only this one sprout to show for it.  I am nervous.  I want a few more.  Cross fingers.

Then there's this puppy.  That is a Perisienne Pickling Cucumber.  I have loads of these.  Hopefully they will grow once planted and not be bitter and blah!  That's usually how my cucumbers end up.  I'll have to research what cucumbers need to be delicious.

Want to know what it's like to play God?  Plant seeds.  As you can see in a few days I am going to have to go through and decide which one I want to live and which ones are going to be made obsolete.  Can't have crowding if you want your sprouts to do well.

My Swoon quilt's mitered corners.  I was going to add one more white strip...but I am all mitered out.  It might be a tad smaller than what I wanted...but I am content.  I am currently working on piecing the back together and soon...very soon it will be sandwiched and the quilting will have commenced.  Yay!

Thanks for reading!!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For the love of fabric

Was there ever a fabric that you truly loved.  I have had a couple fabric true loves in my time.  This post is about one in particular.  Using this fabric, I had made a wall-hanging.  I had pieced and sewn it together and sandwiched it with batting and back and had actually begun to quilt...but while quilting, it struck me as being wrong.  So, I set it aside.  It was too soon to make any decisions concerning my love.  I needed time to heal the hurt in my heart of making something I thought I would love...but didn't.

What fabric is this?  Alexander Henry's the Ghastlies.  I saw this fabric and was inspired.  I knew I had to make it my own.  As you can see, the color scheme is mauve.  Yes, mauve.  Strange...I know it.  But love is like that.

Fast Forward half a year or more later.  I was cleaning out the closet in my sewing room and came across it.  So sad.  So rejected.  But...could I make it better.  Did I have the strength of will to undo all that had been done and start again.  Changing and cutting where it was necessary.  Cutting the blocks I had once lovingly assembled.  Un-picking the stitches I had hand quilted.  Un-picking the stitches that held the blocks together.  It was a hell of a lot of unpicking.

I did it.  I knew that the fabric was worth saving.  That my hard work making these string blocks was worth least partially.  What was it that made me not love this quilt as much as I should have?  First it was the dark grey sashing.  It is too much of the same.  All the colors blend and the panels don't stand out with their spooky scenes that are so fun to look at.  My String quilts just became a blur.  The 2nd problem was huge.  It really was too big for a proper wall-hanging.  So I knew I had to chop it down in size and change the sashing.

What was the result of this tearing down to make new...

So much better.  The white sashing allows the cute scenes to stand out.  My Beloved Sister complains that the pink is not Halloweenie enough.  But I maintain that mauve isn't exactly typically Halloweenie, so I'm okay with the pink.  Besides I have a plan to put a little more spook in it to make it less sweet....but that's not until the quilting is finished.

My soul is content.  I salvaged the fabric I loved and I think made it into a much more usable piece.  Where I sacrificed the most was my string blocks.  They were what started this whole journey...but they were just too big and couldn't be salvaged in their entirety.  I think I'll make some throw pillows and that way I can really showcase how awesome they are in all their 15 x 15 inch glory. a wall-hanging 10.5 x 10.5 inch blocks is really what it needs.  One benefit of cutting everything down is that I feel the scenes really benefit from being smaller.  I can focus in on a smaller portion of the scene.  Focused is better.

So, I am happy.

Granny Square Pic of the Day

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's Coming up Spring Progress and then some.

I currently have 4 beasts in addition to 2 children and one husband in my house.  This makes for a lot of creatures that I have to take care of.  My Youngest is currently chasing two of the dogs around...yes 2 of them which means I have more than that...around the house insisting Lucius NOT eat Gingie.  I haven't been getting a terrible lot done over the last several days sewing-wise, but I feel like I have a lot in the works. 

I have decided that this year I want to finish my Christmas applique Wall hanging.  It's called Frolic and it's so cute with the pastels...but I sometimes have to convince myself that I like applique.  I have decided...almost half-way through that I'm going to change my method of applique.  Instead of Freezer Paper, finger-turn applique, I'm simplifying and going to use Fusible web and then just use a blanket stitch around the edge of each piece.  See, this way I may actually work on this quilt...and it might some day be complete.  This is a good chocie.  I may or may not re-do all blocks.  I'll have to see if I hate having the top half turn-under applique and the bottom half not...tricky.  But with the fusible web method I can place my pieces so much more accurately...much less guess work as I am using an applique sheet...which is this sort of magical sheet that you can put your applique pieces on, and actually iron them together so they look like you want on your fabric...then you lift your assembled portion off the magical sheet, put it on your background fabric and iron it again and it will still stick!  Magic.

What’s Coming Up Spring Progress
I have really enjoyed this project...probably more than I had anticipated.  I think it has turned out so cute and can't wait for it to be completely done as it will be hanging in my living room...hopefully before spring is actually over.  Probelm is..I ofcourse failed to read all the instructions before thinking I could bind it...and now I have to figure out a way to put on the sleeve and ribbon ties without it looking too horrible...I'll figure it out.  Never fear.

The pansies.  I am not purple's #1 fan.  I enjoy purple in clothes, I have red heads and purple is their color, but that's typically it.  I do not decorate with purple.  But I sure think these pansies are pretty.

The Crocus.  If I was going to do something different, I would choose a different yellow.  Against the beige gingham background, the lines of the yellow sort of make it blend together a bit.  I would go with a much more vibrant, rich shade of yellow.  But, I'm not redoing.  So, it's fine as is.

The Hostas.  I feel the polka dot green fabric stands out a bit too much, but I still enjoy it.  So again, no re-do.  It's just fine.

Next blog post I'll show you everything assembled.  Yay!

Granny Square Pic of the Day

I have really been neglecting my granny square blocks.  Luckily they are just fun for me.  I don't need to get them done in any kind of hurry.  They're just there if I feel the need to sew.  I don't have to commit to a large amount of fabric to be used, and there's minimal prep work and I can get a block done in 30 minutes or's the perfect on-going project.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, April 2, 2012

I don't want an epic fail

Gardening is on the that got me thinking about my Grandma's childhood on her family farm.  So here's a little story for you.

1940's.  A sugar beet farm in rural Utah, springtime

I hope Daddy doesn't come round and see that I've replanted a beet after it's been thinned.  How many times has he told me to leave one of the beets in the ground after Nadine and Beverly, my older sisters, have gone through and blocked the rows with their hoes.  I am supposed to remove all sugar beets except for one so that one can grow nice and big.  If you forget and take out all the sugar beets and then try and replant one, it'll wilt.  I can't tell the difference between one I've replanted and one that was left in the dirt properly, but I'm only 10.  Daddy can always tell the difference...and I know that sugar beet won't grow now. He'll say to me, "Evelyn, if I  told you once, I told you twice to leave one beet in the dirt."  Maybe he won't notice this time...

Jay, my younger brother says his knees hurt.  My knees hurt too.  I forgot to bring the pads Mama made for me and now I have to climb all over the clods of dirt on nothing but my hands and knees.  I'll be glad when thinning is over.  I'd sure like it if Daddy'd hire some workers to help with the thinning of the beets, but he never does.  It's just us kids and Daddy doing the work.

Harvest time later that same year

Daddy went to the work camp today in his big old farm truck and brought back a bunch of German war prisoners to help in the field.  Mama and Daddy don't let my sisters and me work beets when the prisoners are here.  So we stay inside and help Mama make bread so they have something to eat after working all day.  Some of the prisoners wear gold watches and speak English.  Daddy says that means they are educated and had high positions in the German army.  When the work is done for the day, Mama takes our big aluminum coffee pot, a couple loaves of bread and a jar of jam out to the prisoners.  Mama says if it weren't for Daddy's mama, she'd never have learned to cook, on account her mama was a fancy lady who liked to get dressed up and go to town instead of cooking and cleaning. 

I like it when the German prisoners or the Mexican migrant workers come around, because that means I don't have to work in the field and get all sun burnt and messy.  But when no one is around to help, that means it's me, my sisters and brother who get to do the work.  First the plow digs up the sugar beets and by harvest time, boy are they are big!  We walk down the rows with our sugar beet knives that are strapped to our hands  They're about 10 inches long and on the end of the knife, there's a  hook so we just dip it down and up comes a beet that the plow has exposed.  We lay the beet across our knees and use our beet knife to chop of the green stem...but sometimes we smack our legs instead.  We toss the topped beet aside and continue on down the row.  When we are finished topping the beets, we go back around and load all the beets into the wagon and then Daddy takes them to the beet dump to be processed.

I'm always happy when winter comes round because that means no more thinning and topping beets...but I also know that spring is right around the corner...

The end

Just FYI, the warm days and cool nights make Utah an excellent place to grow sugar beets. They are particularly sweet when grown here

Okay, back to the present.  I've done it.  The Mister got my grow light system up and running this weekend and I planted my seed starts.  I didn't have any Popsicle sticks to mark what my rows duct tape was my method.  It's fine.  I am so nervous that nothing is going to grow and this is going to be a most heinous epic fail.  I've got some fun things this year.  Cross fingers in a few days I see some green.  I told My Sister that I would donate some of my seedlings...but only if she promised to water her garden this year.  She couldn't commit.

I started out wanting to include my young in the process....started out.  Let's just say the first several rows I have no idea what is going to come out of them.  I tried to show them which rows to put which then I banished them to finish out the planting and let them help me water.

At least I'll know what 70% of my seeds are for certain.  Thanks girls.

The alien glow of my grow lights...the walls are pink in this room.  As you can see this room is now my greenhouse/sewing room as the growing shelf is nestled in next to the fabric shelf.  All that is good is in this room.

Thanks for reading!

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