Thursday, June 30, 2011
I'm thinking of a fairy quilt. Based on these pictures taken on a walk with a little friend of mine. Doesn't that look just like a fairy condo?
I don't yet know if I am going to crop/alter/print or if I am going to try embroidery. I'll let you know when the rest of the inspiration hits.
The ladies and I took the kids on a field trip yesterday. We went to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. What an amazing place. The river flows through a volcanic formation of Rhyolite creating natural pools and slides. It goes for about a half mile of river bed. The water was pretty low yesterday. The kids had a great time.
Oh, and we went to Elephant Rocks State Park first.
It is another geologic wonder. Huge granite boulders piled up all over the place. This picture is on the 'baby elephants' near the parking lot. I was too blown away, and too hot, to remember to take pictures of the real elephants. I think we will be planning an overnight return visit to this area in the near future.
I am working on the 'guest book' for my niece's wedding. It is another signature quilt, similar to the one for mom's 80th birthday party.
Here are some of the cousin's signing in. That one worked out nicely with just a binding. For some reason, the new one is not cooperating. I think it is the proportions. I am making it a bit bigger since there will be more guests. It turned out a bit more of a square.
This half-square triangle thing is funny because you end up with two sides that are essentially white and two sides that are essentially dark. In the case of the wedding quilt, the colors are all pretty dark so it reads essentially as an all blue side. What that means is that a binding that looks great on one side looks meh on the other.
I have pretty much decided that I am going to use this batik for the border and probably use the solid blue for the binding. But I am torn about how wide I need to make the border. The two shots above (quick rather than artful) show a wider and a narrower border. Or.. I could go scrappy by cutting the remaining 5" blocks in half and sewing them all together or I could use white or, or, or.... Suggestions appreciated. I am running out of time!
One more quick note. This is my third signature quilt. Rather than provide blocks or squares of fabric at the event to be assembled and finished later, I have finished the quilt entirely ahead of time. I do that because I work much better on deadlines and I know the quilt will be done and out of my hands by the day of. I also do that because I don't want to deal with frayed edges and writing in the seam allowance. The thing that makes this work is these gel fabric pens. (No relation to Pentel; stock, employment, advertising or otherwise.) They write smoothly and don't bleed through so the finished quilt looks good.
We are on a budget and not eating out. I miss exploring all the fantastic restaurants we have around here. So I've started trying to cook dishes that I never make but would happily let some one else cook. I've explained to the spuds that they are going to have to eat the food mom would order at fine restaurant when she is out with dad.
Lemon chicken is one of those things... It worked out pretty well.
5 chicken breasts (What can I say, I have teenagers).
Pound thin. Dredge in flour. Saute in butter and olive oil over high heat until browned on both sides. Set aside on plate. (Chicken will not be cooked all the way through. That is OK. It will finish cooking later.) Do not overfill the skillet. Cook 1 or 2 pieces at a time until they are all browned. You may need to add a bit of butter and olive oil as you go.
Chop 4-5 cloves of garlic. Wash and thinly slice half of one lemon, enough to get 5 slices. Thinly slice 6-8 large button mushrooms. I do mean thin on the lemon and mushrooms. Paper thin.
One the chicken has all been browned, add the mushrooms to the pan. Stir over medium heat until just starting to release their juices and soften. Add garlic. Stir and saute until fragrant and softened being careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
Add about a cup of chicken broth, 1/4 cup white wine and about 2 Tbsp lemon juice from the unsliced half. Stir to loosen the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan along with the lemon slices. Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly. Add. a dash of thyme and a sprinkle of cracked rosemary
Serve over noodles (Trader Joe's lemon pepper fettuccine works well). Add a side of asparagus.
The spud's didn't like the lemony noodles. They would have been happier with plain fettuccine. That would have made the dish more bland and I would probably have added more lemon or lemon zest to make up for it.
As an aside... pressed for time one night, I threw together one of those chicken, mushroom soup and stuffing casseroles. Not very pretty but easy and edible. Spud 2 looked at it and said "gee mom, what ever made you choose this restaurant?"
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I was working full time when my boys were small. Our early recipes reflect the need to keep little hands busy using fast prep foods. Not exactly the healthiest dish in the drawer, but great for a some times treat.
1 roll refrigerator biscuits.
1 - 2 Tbs melted butter in a low bowl.
about 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl
a handful of pecans.
Open the rolls. Line up the rolls, butter, sugar and pecans on the counter within easy reach of your helper. Set the baking tray near at hand. Have your helper take a roll, dunk it in the butter and then put it sugar side up on the baking tray. Add a pecan to the center.
Bake as per the instructions on the package and serve warm.
This is a great first recipe because a little lick here and there won't translate through the baking process. It is also a good chance to reinforce the hand washing, cleanliness and clean-up processes as well.
And remember, helper buddies always get helper hugs!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
This is one of the first real quilts I made. I made it just for ME! I came up with the pattern on my own, by trial and error. It hangs on the wall in my living room and some of my quilty friends have asked for the pattern. I made it from one charm pack, 8 fat quarters and one third of a yard in coordinating prints. It would be fun to make it scrappy.
There are a total of 96 blocks. The finished quilt is approximately 36 x 48 inches.
Sort the charm pack into lights and darks. Pair a light with a dark and stitch them into two half square triangle blocks. Follow any tutorial you like. I used this one from p.s. i quilt. I find I am far more accurate when cutting on the line after I sew the two seams than when I try pairing up the pre-cut triangles. This makes 42 half square triangle blocks that are 4 1/2 inches on a side.
Don't worry if sometimes a fabric is the light one in one pairing and the dark one in another. All that matters is that you keep the darker of the two fabrics on the bottom when you piece it together.
The rest of the quilt is made up of 54 solid 4 1/2 inch blocks. In the pattern below, I used
Fabric 1-- 14
Fabric 2 -- 7
Fabric 3 -- 4
Fabric 4 -- 8
Fabric 5 -- 4
Fabric 6 -- 8
Fabric 7 -- 3
Fabric 8 -- 3
Fabric 9 -- 3
Assemble your blocks following the pattern below. There are two important things to remember. 1. You want to always have the darker of the two fabrics in each half square triangle on the bottom as you look at the quilt. 2. The half square triangles need to go in the designated spots to make the quilt flow properly. It doesn't matter too much which solid block goes where. You just want to mix things up in a way that makes you happy when you look at it.
Click on the pattern to enlarge!
Finished as written you will need a piece of backing fabric that is about 1 1/2 yards long. You will need to piece together at least 5 width of fabric strips. I use 2 inch bindings which requires 1/3 of a yard of fabric. A 2 1/2 inch binding requires 1/2 yard as does a 3 inch binding.
The details. All fabrics are by Mary Engelbreidt. The batting is cotton. It was machine quilted in an allover pattern that resembles the traditional ME flower design by the folks at Missouri Star Quilt Company.
I've been trying to blog about my quilting journey. I haven't been too successful at it. Fragments and patches of memories drift through my mind but refuse to be stitched together. They are like the orphan fabrics in my stash. Each one purchased with love. Each one beautiful on its own and yet none of them connect. The common thread has yet to be seen. There is no straight path to today.
Most of the memories floating around in my head revolve around my grandmother sitting at her treadle machine. I sat under the quilting frame making quilts for my dolls. I sat at my great aunt's machine making blankets for my babies. I sit at my high tech machine making quilts for college dorms.
The quilt pictured above is destined for a new baby. The first grandchild of my best friend since we were four. From my grandmother to my mother to me to my children to a new generation. Some how coming full circle.
The details. This quilt is about 40" square. It is made from one charm pack of birdie by me and my sister and basic white from Moda. It has a cotton batting. The free motion quilting was one of my earliest efforts.
Again, this recipe is a copy of a typed recipe card. It has a note in mom's handwriting on the side with the recipe for the medium white sauce which follows.
2 c corn, drained
1 c medium white sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 or 4 crackers broken in to pieces
Buttered crumbs on top.
Bake 425 about 30 minutes.
Medium White Sauce
1 c milk
2 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs oleo
Most likely the white sauce is made as a standard white sauce. Melt the oleo (currently known as margarine or use butter) in a skillet. Stir in the flour and cook a few minutes. Turn off the heat. Slowly stir in the milk. I mean slowly. A few tablespoons at a time until it gets thin enough to stop causing lumps. Add the salt. Cook it down until it becomes relatively thick. I am going to have to try this. Regulation white sauce is pretty thin. I don't think that thin sauce will cook down into the thick custard I recall.
I am guessing that you make the white sauce first and allow it to cool enough so that it won't cook the eggs. Then beat the eggs, sugar, salt and white sauce together.
Stir in the crackers. I believe the crackers serve as a thickener. I doubt you worry much about keeping the structural integrity of the cracker. The most likely cracker to have around would have been saltines. I know that my grandmother always had Keebler Club crackers. They are slightly sweeter and most likely what she used when she made this. Stir in the corn.
Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish. Mom always made this in a pyrex clear glass round baking dish. It was probably the flameware version about 8 inches in diameter and 2 or 3 inches deep.
Top with buttered crumbs. These would likely be fresh bread crumbs made from stale bread. I can't picture mom making them. I am guessing she let the bread dry slightly and then grated it on the box grater. They would then be mixed with melted butter or oleo. Again, I will have to experiment with the proportions and get back to you on it. I know that the crumbs were very buttery and became crisp and brown on the top of the dish.
Bake at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes. I know this dish is custard-like so I would suggest baking until the crumbs are golden and the eggs are set.
8-oz softened cream cheese
4 Tbs butter
Blend together until smooth.
4 cups cooked chicken (She uses 1 can Brinkman's chicken from Findlay, Ohio. I imagine any canned chicken or even leftover cubed chicken will serve the purpose)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbs minced dried onions
Separate 4 8-oz cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Quick Crescent Rolls into 16 squares. Pinch together perforations and roll out on floured board. Place 1/4 cup chicken mixture onto the center of each square. Pull 4 corners of dough to center of mixture; seal. Dip in 2 Tbs melted butter, then in crushed seasoned croutons. Bake on ugreased cookie sheet 2 25 minutes until golden brown.
I know she makes these in advance for guests and freezes them. I will check with her to see if she does it before or after she bakes them.
One note about the chicken. The flavor of canned chicken tends to be richer and saltier than the leftover chicken you might have on hand. I find that it is the canned chicken that makes this such a tasty treat. You may want to adjust the salt. I don't have ready access to the Brinkman's although I just discovered it can be ordered on-line. I intend to try this with the canned chicken I get at Costco which has a taste that is similar.
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs *add one more egg
3 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. mace
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
4 oz. coconut If you must.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together until smooth the butter, brown and white sugar. Add milk and vanilla. Beat and add in eggs. Stir in corn flakes and oatmeal.
Sift together and add flour, baking soda, salt, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop batter by well rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
As you can see it is pretty much the same recipe he has modified around the edges. I'll post a picture when they start to come out of the oven.
* Z made them today. He decided that he needs to add at least one more egg next time.
Monday, June 27, 2011
I made this purse for my niece for her wedding. It is made from wool felt. The design is from emblibrary.com. We have been collaborating long distance as she lives VERY far away and is getting married only slightly closer. I send her websites and ask her to pick her favorites. She sends back a link or two and I go from there. We did get a chance to shop together a few weeks ago so I did get a better idea of what she wants. She picked this coral pattern as one she really liked. I have to see if the color matches her dress. If not, we will have to do some tea staining. That won't be a problem.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Iron craft challenge for week 26 is Camp Craft! When I was a kid, I always earned merit badges and patches at summer camp. Since I've been messing with my embroidery machine, making badges and puppets for VBS I figured I would put together a few for my fictitious camp. Of course there are badges for sandcastles and bird watching. But summer camp is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys...
But then I figured that the counsellors more than earn their right to a badge for putting up with all the whining all week....
Give 'em a little cheese with that wine!
The details... These are made using patterns from embroidery library. They are all about 2 inches in the biggest dimension. The background fabric is upcycled jeans. The patches are embroidered to to final satin stitch and then I put a piece of heavy duty cut-away stabilizer on the bottom to finish off the back. I use one layer of fibrous wash away stabilizer and can fit 6 patches in my medium large hoop. Most of these will go in our etsy shop. The backs will be finished with heavy duty wonder under to make them iron on!
Now I just have to wait for Wednesday to post on Iron Craft. We'll see if I can keep up with the iron crafters over there.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
This is one of the sample cloths I made for a workshop.
The impressions are from Japanese maple, mulberry, grass, walnut and daisy.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
From a few posts down.... Here is the finished quilt complete with signatures from the kids. I love the Irish Chain pattern for quilting. I also love the scrappy nature of this particular quilt. The fabrics were selected and edited by the kids to reflect what they felt about their experiences in Dr E's classroom. We gathered signatures from as many current and former students as we could. The smudges on the quilt in the picture are the signatures. We used a fabric gel pen for signing and then heat set it before gifting.
The picture above shows one of the corners and part of the scrappy binding. I used the leftover strips of fabric and sections of blocks from the quilt to piece it together. I chose the scrappy binding because I had such wide white borders. The wide white borders were there because I wanted to leave space for the kids to sign it. From what I can tell, many of the traditional Irish Chain quilts would have a stripe of fabric in the border. It would be in the middle, running corner to corner around the edge. I used straight stitching during quilting to mimic that effect and then pulled it back together with the scrappy binding.
You can see the machine quilting in this image. It is very simple straight stitching along the diagonal lines with the additional straight lines around the outside. I used a very thin cotton batting so that it would be easier for the kids to sign. This is supposed to be a wall hanging or a display piece, rather than a cuddle up quilt. I used spray basting and glued the bejeebers out of the layers. Then I did a VERY loose basting stitch around the outside before I started to machine quilt. I used a walking foot and kept everything as smooth as I possibly could as ran it through the machine. There is one spot where I barely avoided a pucker, but fortunately most people will be hard pressed to figure out where it is.
One last shot of the quilt showing the fabrics and the binding and quilting. It was hard to part with this one but I know it is greatly appreciated. Perhaps I'll add some photos from the gifting later.
First a bit of the hand quilting. I never really thought I could do this but it just fell into place. I really feel like I got into the stitching groove and made some pretty neat little stitches all outlining the hint of leaves. Once they were stitched, I realized that they weren't very visible. They didn't show up enough as leaves to fit the rest of the piece. I ended up going back in and carefully painting the them. I did get a little bit of bleed through to the back but not too much. Heat setting around the metallic embroidery was more of a challenge than that.
This a little detail from the quilt. You can see the machine embroidered Romeo with some sequin sparkles. You can also see the start of my poor attempt to do thread painting around the applique elements. I ended up stitching a border with the metallic thread and then hand quilting around the block.
This is from the back of the quilt. You can see some of the bleed through from the paint on the leaves. But don't think it is to bad. At least it isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be when I was half way through and stressing about getting enough color and flow on the front without getting too much bleed on the back. I absolutely love doing the random stitching with pearl cotton for a quilting technique. There is an almost zen state to taking the stitches and then there is the fabulous texture it creates. I love how I get the impression of a tree without actually having to try and draw a tree.
The pink in the window was not part of the original design. I had planned on stitching on enough sequins and beads to fill the window space. As I was working, I decided that I preferred the hint of sparkle, just behind the window, about to emerge so I stopped with the beading. but the rest of the space was too gray. I finally decided to try filling it with more pearl cotton in pink. I think it worked out well. It gave enough color to the space while preserving the mystery of the sparkle. I also did some of the regular quilting stitches in pearl cotton. They worked out OK. I really like the way it looks from the back.
In this shot you can see some of the stitching, machine and hand, that I did on the stones of the castle. The gray fabric was actually a semi mess created by my son. He was dying a kilt and grabbed a couple yards of my 'spare' muslin to mop up the mess. It ended up a lovely textured gray. It has been waiting for the perfect project. Fortunately, this one only used up a tiny bit. The blue fabric is a batik scrap. I mentioned earlier that the Romeo was a leftover. I was making pillows with the embroidery and the batik. I finished Hamlet and the Jester with reasonable results, but I made so many errors on Romeo that I just stopped and walked away from finishing. Luckily, that meant it was ready and waiting when this project popped up.
And here is the whole thing!
Edited to add some more images: