Waggons West Etsy Shop

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Art Fare

Re-posted here as part of my effort to collect my recipes scattered hither and yon across the interwebs into one place.

A lovely friend hosted an after the Art Fair party and asked allowed us to bring dessert. What could be more fitting than a session of playing with your food?

Calder Cookies


one recipe sugar cookie dough. Use your favorite. I usually use the Betty Crocker version with vanilla instead of almond flavoring.

Divide into thirds before chilling. Color one third red, one third yellow, and one third blue. Use a professional grade color such as this kit from Ateco. The liquid stuff you buy in the store will produce pastel colors and you are going for as dark as you can get. Chill each color separately. Roll chilled dough. Cut with a sharp knife into random geometric shapes ala Alexander Calder. Use a straw to punch out a hole in each cookie. Bake as instructed.

Provide guests with a tray of cookies, string and assorted skewers and toothpicks. Have them string them together into a mobile. You can use shoestring licorice and pretzel rods but you will need bigger holes in the cookies.

Admire your creations and then eat them. You can always try to eat the hanging cookies but you probably want to put down a washable rug or go outside.

Jackson Pollock Cake


1 pound cake (purchased or your own recipe)
Assorted toppings and sauces in squeeze bottles

Slice cake and arrange on a clean new paint pallet. Have guests take a slice and put on a plain plate. Guests then squeeze ‘paint’ syrup over the cake canvas ala Jackson Pollock. admire your artistic creation then eat it.

Raspberry Sauce

1 package unsweetened frozen raspberries (While fresh raspberries would probably taste better I find they are too expensive to mash up and prefer t o eat them whole.)
Sugar to taste

Thaw berries and put in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour through a fine sieve pressing on the solids to force as much through while leaving the seeds behind. Add sugar to taste. You want it to be slightly sweet. I usually end up with around a 1/4 cup but you need to add about a tablespoon at a time. Give it whirl and taste. It will be a terrible trial to taste I am sure but taste it you must. Just be sure to leave some for the dessert.

While I will claim credit for thinking up the Calder Cookies I read about the Jackson Pollock cake in a magazine years ago. I have no idea what it was. I will keep looking for it. If you know, let me know and I will gladly attribute it properly.

* Variations with frosting seem to be all over the internet these days. This version was most likely found in an old issue of Bon Apetit.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quilt Story: Iris Wallhanging

A very long time ago, I was into painting on fabric. I had hopes of actually being able to learn to paint my vision. I got pretty good at following the directions in the watercolor book, but I never got very far on the vision thing.

This Iris is one of my early attempts. I was basically following the instructions from a book. I wish I could find the book and cite it properly because it was very good at helping me get this far. Unfortunately, it is either at the bottom of a box in my basement or lost in a move. (If anyone recognizes the work, I'll be happy to give credit and probably try to find a copy to purchase again!)

I had grand plans for this little iris at one time. I was going going make a huge king-sized quilt in purple and green. I made a sandwich, put it in my machine and promptly stitched a lovely fold of fabric into the back. Once I ripped that little problem out, I put in in my machine and promptly broke the machine.

There is a very long saga that goes along with the repair of my machine covering more than 20 years and a stupid error made by an inexperienced repair shop that was ultimately solved by boy blacksmith. Needless to say the poor wee quilty became a victim of that saga and languished in another box (separate from the painting book) for the same 20 years.

For some reason, we got it in to our brains to go searching for a long lost project and dug up the iris panel. I tried to figure out how it might become part of a larger quilt by doing some sort of quilt as you go, but it hurt my poor head. I'll put that process on my 'bucket' list and perhaps tackle it in the future. In the meantime, I decided to just 'finish it up and move on, dearie". (Another tale for another day.)

So here in all it's tiny, scrunchy, lumpy glory is the iris wall hanging.

Re-blogged here as part of my ongoing efforts to gather the wheat and chaff of my creativity from the far reaches of the interwebs into one granary for safe keeping.

Wedding Mints

This is re-posted here as part of my on-going effort to reign in my recipes from across the intertubes and collect them in one place.

My sister had a huge wedding. Much of it was homemade and crafted. Back in the day, cream cheese mints were all the rage. Each one had to be rolled and molded by hand. Making mints for 500 guests can take a while. We spent hours making them and laying them out to dry on her future mother-in-law’s dining room table. Everything was going well until Flaps the basset hound came home. One swipe of the tongue and a large portion of our production was gone.

I was reminded of that when I came across this recipe at Bake it Pretty. It is for butter mints. A recipe very similar to the ones we made with cream cheese. But I think the butter will be a different flavor and possibly a different texture. I will have to try it.

****I was reminded of this as my son was assisting his cousin in making the original cream cheese mints for her wedding reception. No dog was involved, but I do believe boy blacksmith probably snagged at least a few.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Croquet with the Red Queen

Update: Boy blacksmith has posted a number of his wickets on Etsy. You can play croquet with the Red Queen too.

Queen's rules!

The Monkey's Uncle and the monkeys all got together to prank the wedding. Since Alice in Wonderland has been a recurring theme with the bride's family and since the theme for the wedding itself was High Tea in a Sand Castle with Beer, a rousing game of croquet seemed the thing.

Except, of course, it had to be Croquet with the Red Queen.

A quick perusal of the internet, provided a ready made source for the basics. Giant placemat sized cards, hats, flamingos and even hedgehog puppets that roll into balls. (Yes, time and materials permitting we would have made the flamingos and painted some hedgehogs but pranks are always that well thought out so Mr Amazon to the rescue!) The problem was how to make the cards into wickets.

Boy Blacksmith to the rescue. He built himself a 3D printer. (Do not adjust your screen, this is a blurry picture

He used the CAD program on his computer to design hands, feet and faces for the cards. They have slots for the card and holes for a nail to poke into the ground.

This is the prototype set printed in the regular plastic.

Here you can see one of the hands up close. It has a nice notch for fitting the card.

Again the prototype pieces. You can see the club face on this one. You can't really tell from this picture, but he has the cutest smile!

Here is the diamond card wicket. It is printed in red. Unfortunately, the face for this one was printed in black. (Pranking without enough time to execute fully is problematic.)

The flower girl (after her mom had her change into play clothes) is having fun moving the hedgehogs around the field.

Proving there is more than one way to get out of a sticky wicket.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

City Boys

A city boy looking at some sheep on the farm.

A couple of very curious city boys exploring the barn.

These are some images I altered. They were taken years ago after a day at the farm. This is just some more of my work I am collecting from various posting places across the intertubes. It is actually quite fun re-discovering older work.

Shrimp in Spicy Garlic Sauce

This recipe is re-posted here in an attempt to collect my recipes posted hither and yon across the intertubes into one place. Sorry I don't have a picture of this one.

Mince at least 3 cloves of garlic and 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger.

Stir together 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp honey, chili garlic paste to taste (about 3 tsp), 3 tsp toasted sesame oil and a dash rice vinegar or mirin. stir and set aside.

Mix about 1 Tbsp corn starch with 3 Tbsp cold water. Set aside.

Heat oil in hot pan. Add 1 can sliced water chestnuts. Stir until oil becomes hot again. Add garlic and ginger. Stir just until it becomes fragrant. Add 2 lbs, peeled, deveined, tail off shrimp. (If using pre-cooked, then just heat through.) Stir fry about 2 minutes until the shrimp is opaque and just cooked through. Add sauce. Bring to a boil. Stir up cornstarch mixture. Add to pan. Stir and cook until slightly thickened. Serve over rice with vegetables. like broccoli and red peppers.

Speaking of Liberating...

Crop. (You can see his ear there on the left, right?) Label. Journal.
Oh no! Wrong kid.

I have boxes and now files and disks full of lousy pictures of my family and events that need some rigorous editing and organizational help. I've taken a couple scrapbooking classes. I've got a few books. But I can never see past the magnitude of the job. It always seems so overwhelming that I have never managed to make a single page or sort a single picture. Until now.

I met a scrapper who does random pages and puts them into books in completely random order. No familial or chronological organization. She just works on what appeals to her at the moment, finishes it (big bonus) and moves on.

Seeing her disregard for what I always thought was a key element of scrapping was incredibly liberating.

I am thinking that I might be able to actually do some scrapbooking if I wasn't facing a big empty book for each kid and a monumental task. I think I might actually be able to get some pictures sorted and documented. And then I could worry about dividing them and ordering them later.

Hand Sewing

I took a wee quilt to club yesterday to do my usual show and ask. It is supposed to be show and tell but I always have questions. My little piece is a tiny hand quilted project I took to work on during my travels. The group leader said something to the effect of 'you like hand quilting'. I was shocked. I have never considered myself a hand quilter. I can't imagine attempting hand quilting a large or even baby-sized quilt. And yet, four of my last projects have involved a significant amount of hand quilting and even some embroidery.

Thinking about it, I realized that I enjoy the artistic elements I've been using. I love the more immediate gratification of working on a small project. I am finding an almost zen-like appeal to seed stitching and I love watching the quilt sandwich take form as I quilt. I think that by doing the hand work on 'art quilts' I've given myself permission to be imperfect and in doing so have been able to improve my stitching. How liberating. Maybe I'll try real hand quilting one of these days. What about you? Do you hand quilt?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wedding: Guest Book

My niece got married! I was fortunate enough to be part of the planning process. My biggest contribution was the guest book. This is the third signature quilt I've made in the past year. Planning this was fun. My niece lives in Hawaii and was getting married in Colorado. I live in a different state so we collaborated a bit on-line. I would send her to fabric websites. She would send me links to fabrics in her colors. I would buy fabric. She would change her colors. I would send her links. She would send me links. I would buy fabric.... I don't see a problem!

I finally ended up with a set of fabrics I knew she would love but the rest was a surprise for her.

Here is picture that shows off my favorite fabric. It is a batik with sailfish. Perfect for beach themed wedding. You can also see a bit of the hibiscus printed batik that is the lighter aqua color. The basic fabric is a cobalt blue shot cotton. There is also a darker batik in the cobalt and aqua theme with a smaller leaf print in lower contrast.

It is a simple half square triangle. Can you see the fish? It is in the lower right corner. If you squint at the part where the pattern is 'messed up' (I did it on purpose) and use your imagination you can see it.

Here it is on the table where people were signing in. The intent was for them to sign their name on the quilt and then fill in the guest book with their name, a message for the couple and how they were connected. That didn't work so well, in spite of the lovely sign painted by the bride!

Here is a picture of gramma signing in and writing a lovely story in the book for the bride to read. You can see the sign a little bit better here as well.
The quilting is straight lines around the triangles and a bit of a wave action around the border. Unfortunately for this procrastinating auntie who was stitching the binding on the car ride cross country, the label is hand written on the back.

Here is a shot of the whole back. That funny furry thing in the foreground is part of the decorations... the Red Queen's Croquet court.

And one last shot on the Red Queen's Croquet Court. Love those wickets and hedgehogs!

Alpine flowers

We spent some time in the mountains and managed to escape the heat. A day spent photographing some Alpine flowers on Windy Ridge was the ticket. There are a lot of pics to process, but here is the first installment.

I have to look this one up. It has been a long time since I've seen it, let alone so many.

Elephant Bells. See their little trunks and big ears.

Two whole stalks of elephant bells.

Reflections in a beaver pond.

Meadow full of flowers.

OK, so these aren't exactly alpine flowers, but the spuds did have a grand time playing in the snow on a fine July afternoon. And the snow ought to be enough to qualify this as my Iron Craft 30: Hot. Hot. Hot. entry.
There are more great entries in IC 30 to be seen here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hidden Resource

QAMom has a fantastic entry for the Iron Craft: Reuse challenge last week. She made reusable sandwich bags for her daughter. The cool thing was what she used for the lining. The bag from a box of cereal! A waterproof resource hiding in plain sight. I can't wait to get back to my sewing machine and start doing all those projects that called for funky lining materials.

Busy Week

It has been a busy week of wedding preparations and festivities. The theme was High Tea in a Sandcastle with beer. The bride's dad brewed a special ale just for the reception. The food was pure Scottish high tea and the decorations were all beach. I will have pictures of all of the wedding crafting and some of the reception recipes when I get back to my own computer next week.

Friday, July 15, 2011


They are sandbagging in Boulder. More water headed for the confluence.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On the Road Again

Posting will be slow over the next week or so. I'll do my best to check in.

Equal and Opposite

If you drive seven hours to drop your kids off at camp you have to drive seven hours to get back home.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Iron Craft #28 Reuse: Sunpainting

This week's challenge in Iron Craft is Reuse. I don't get to play this week and probably not for the next couple weeks because the real world is about to take over my crafting time. That is particularly frustrating as one of my major craft projects involves upcycling used clothing obtained from thrift shops, garage sales and friends who are cleaning out their closets.

This is a close up of a sunprint on an upcycled t-shirt. The people are hand-cut stencils. The plant material is ordinary crab grass. In some cases, even the stencil material is upcycled from things like the backing used on printable fabric.

Here is the whole print on the t-shirt.

Sunpainting is an unpredictable process. While I repeat the use of some colors and patterns and stencils, no two items are ever identical.

This is one of my favorite prints on a thrifted receiving blanket. It is rainbow colors printed with as many different leaves as I can muster out of the garden and yard. Many of the leaves on this one are from a golden rain tree, although there are also red bud. Maple and mulberry often find their way onto the fabrics as well.

This is another one of my favorite print patterns. This is done with hand-cut stencils, Mardi Gras beads and the piece parts of an old, very ugly plastic plant. I resort to printing these in the winter when plant material is hard to come by and the price of leafy vegetables in the grocery store becomes prohibitive.

These are a lot of fun to make. A friend and I haunt the garage sales and thrift shops looking for suitable fabrics. We've printed everything from blue jeans and skirts to socks and tablecloths. Unfortunately, my kids will only wear so many of them. So I end up selling many of them at one big festival in the summer, a local shop carries a few and sometimes they show up in our etsy shop.

At any rate, if I had time this week, I would be upcycling some clothing for my iron craft challenge this week. But I can't play. Sigh...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Piecing the Patches Together.

I attend a quilters club once a month. After the formal presentation we get a chance to show and tell or show and ask about our quilting projects. The leader always asks us to tell our name and how long we have been quilting. Given the number of fabroholics in the room it seems a bit of a 12-step program; one in which we all support each others habits.

As I await my turn, I always contemplate which piece of my quilting journey I want to share.

As a kid I spent a lot of time with my grandparents on their farm. My grandmother quilted. Her quilting frame was made by my grandfather out of scrap lumber. The quilt was attached to strips of old, probably upcycled, ticking that had been stapled to the wood. The frame would take up the whole living room when the quilt was fully stretched. Grandma and her friends would sit around it and quilt, rolling it smaller as they went.

I would sit under the quilt and play with the old composite dolls, making clothes and blankets of my own. Much to my regret, I never paid much attention to the conversations taking place over my head. In fact, I was probably annoying them by singing some nonsense to myself. My grandmother always said I was her happy granddaughter because I was always singing something.

When my grandmother passed away, I inherited several boxes of patches; the small squares of fabric she and my grandfather would cut in preparation for her sewing. In amongst the scraps was one of my small quilts. I don't remember making it but I do remember the fabric and the trailing yarn and shade of the quilt frame with a soothing murmur of voices keeping time with the flying needles.

The little quilt pictured above is one I made for my sister out of some of grandma's patches. I selected the turquoise and pink to match the ballroom in her house. The backing is made of a cloud fabric to reflect the clouds she painted on the ceiling of the room. I put it together using fusible interfacing. It is machine quilted in parallel lines and bound in a coordinating pink fabric.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Patches and Puppets

I volunteered to make patches for the shirts the kids wear at the closing night ceremony at VBS. That wasn't too crazy. I figured out how to make it up using designs and fonts on my machine and one freebie from embroiderydesigns.com.

In the process of looking for panda designs, we found panda puppets. We only needed a few of those. So I asked the ladies Bible Study group to help cut out the parts for those.

Then we needed something for the volunteers. The VBS patches would be OK but they wouldn't really be able to wear them to other events. So we came up with the Volunteer Patches. I was supposed to make them all with blue satin stitching, but I goofed and did it in red. I hope no one notices.

The details. These are machine embroidered on upcycled denim. The volunteer patch and the panda puppet are from designs produced by emblibrary.com.

Pork Chops Primavera

This recipe from Bhg.com has become a go to recipe around here. It is simple, made from ingredients I usually have around and everyone loves it. I used to follow it quite closely and what I do is pretty much the same, but I have taken some liberties.

I use

Bacon. I usually fry the whole pack and try to reserve some for another purpose. I probably get about 1/3 of a package into the final mix.

4- 5 slices of pork tenderloin cut into smaller pieces (not quite as small as you would for stir fry)

Fry the bacon in the skillet. Remove and drain on towels. Remove all but about 1 Tbsp bacon grease from the pan and fry the pork pieces until they are golden. Drain the rest of the fat from the skillet.

Add a big splash or two of Soy Sauce. I would guess that I get closer to 2 or 3 Tbsp.
Add about 2/3 cup water.
Add 1/3 - 1/2 cup apple butter.
Stir in 1 - 4 small tomatoes. I use whatever I have around. If using roma or compari, I chop them before adding.
Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
Add fresh or frozen green beans. Cover and simmer until tender.

Remove lid. Allow to cook down enough for juices to thicken slightly. Stir in crumbled bacon and serve over noodles.

The noodles are important, because the juices are very yummy and the noodles catch all the flavor. The nice thing is that the recipe is very flexible. I do tend to add more apple butter which makes it a bit sweeter. You may choose to make it a bit more subtle by cutting back on it. I don't add any additional spices. You may want to add pepper. I find that between the soy sauce and the bacon it is sufficiently salty. I can imagine the addition of onion but haven't bothered to try it.

I have to say, I tried this the first time because I could not imagine how these flavors would come together. It is an amazing blend and well worth the trial.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ham and Cheese on Rye Bread Pudding

In the interest of collecting the recipes I've posted hither and yon on the intertubes, I am reposting them here. This is from March of 2010 and was posted on blogoram. Next time I'll look for a more summery recipe.

ham and swiss on rye bread pudding

The whole gang was showing up and I had just a litte while to throw together something for them to eat. Certainly not enough time to go to the store so I would have to make do with whatever was in the fridge and pantry. Let’s see… there is most of a loaf of cocktail rye left from the rueben dip experiment, shredded swiss from the same experiment and a couple slices of deli ham, eggs, milk and a carton of heavy cream for the broccoli soup that didn’t get made. Hmmm…. sounds like bread pudding to me.

First chop up the bread, ham and swiss. Toss them together and put into a well greased oven safe casserole dish.

Ham, cheese and bread.

Ham, cheese and bread.

2 close up

Now to mix up the custard.

Custard ingredients eggs, mustard, pepper, cream, milk

Custard ingredients eggs, mustard, pepper, cream, milk

Crack 7 eggs into a large bowl. Whisk until frothy.

5 whisk eggs

Add cream.

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups heavy cream

Whisk it well. (The more air you incorporate in the custard the lighter the pudding.)

6 whisk in cream

Add 1 1/2 cups milk.

7 whisk in milk

Whisk some more!

9 add milk

Add 1 tsp mustard.

8  1 tsp mustard

Now, you guessed it, whisk some more. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I you want to actually taste it at this point, you will have to put a small amount in a dish and microwave it or fry a bit in a pan. Just remember that the ham and the cheese will add salt so don’t go overboard.)

Once you’ve mixed it all up you can pour it over the bread and cheese mixture.

10 pour over bread mixture

Toss it gently with a large spoon and push the bread into the liquid so it all gets coated with custard.

11 push bread under

Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit at least 30 minutes. You can leave it in the refrigerator as long as overnight. This allows the flavors to mingle and the bread to soak up all the juices. The longer it soaks, the less distinct the bread will be in the final product.

Bake your pudding at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. The top will be puffy and the eggs will be set (it won’t jiggle around when you wiggle the pan).

If you remember, I had guests arriving in short order so I was only able to let it stand for about 30 minutes. Add in the fact that the rye bread is pretty sturdy and you have a bread pudding with obvious chunks of bread.

ham and swiss on rye bread pudding

The real beauty of making bread pudding… actually there are several beautiful things about bread pudding. One it is a way to use of leftover bread. I cut the ends of loaves of bread into cubes and store them in a zipper bag in the freezer. When I get enough to fill a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, I make bread pudding. Two, you can make it sweet or savory.

If you need to follow a recipe here are a couple I like.

Paula Deen’s killer (in more ways than one) “Best Bread Pudding”.

A fantastic Wild Mushroom bread pudding from Bon Apetit. I’ve been making this one a couple times a year since it was published in 1997!

And here is a blueberry bread pudding with bourbon sauce that I also love. Funny thing… I couldn’t find this when I searched for blueberry bread pudding so it took a while to find it. Reading over the recipe, I realize I follow it exactly except… I use the Hawaiian pineapple bread instead of brioche. I use blueberries instead of raisins. I sometimes make the bourbon sauce and sometimes I make a maple sauce.

Best of all, you can experiment with relative impunity.
Less bread = more custard
Fewer eggs = softer and creamier
More eggs = more quiche-like in texture
More sugar = more pecan pie like texture
No sugar = make it as savory as you like
Add in whatever you like. For sweet ones add fruit, dot with preserves, add nuts. Add anything you would add to a quiche or an omelet to make it savory.

Experiment away and put your favorite combo in the comments.