28 December 2017

2017 Project Re-Cap

Before I start planning quilts I want to work on throughout
the new year, I wanted to take a quick look back over 2017.
I still have two tops I'd love to get quilted up before
next Monday but I'm also not going to push it.

Table Runner

Valentines Table Toppers and Runner

Heart of My Heart baby quilts

Graduate Quilt

 Burp Cloths

 Gnome Quilt--completed top only

 Grandmother's Orchard Quilt

 Baby Quilt for Grandson

 Wall-hanging Quilt--Christmas Gift

 In For the Night Quilt 

 Apple Orchard Quilt--Christmas gift

Autumn Winds Quilt--Christmas gift

History Repeats Quilt--Christmas gift

It was a bit of a slow start but then really picked it up once I got the
 long-arm this past fall so I'm assuming next year will be a record-breaker.
And now, along with a few New Year's resolutions, it's time to get the
block-of-the-month projects chosen and do my other quilt planning.
The big goals are to diminish the stash and make as many
gifts as possible (graduation & Christmas '18).

Happy New Year!

14 December 2017

As Christmas Nears

Like everyone else, I'm scratching my head wondering what
happened to November and, wow, is it really almost Christmas?
You might want to grab a cup of something warm--
I'm about to catch you up on some wonderful things.
We're feeling pretty blessed.

Firstly, I quilted up Apple Orchard and it's now on its way to its new home.
Somehow I always finish my quilts as the sun sets and my lighting
just isn't the best.

I’m pretty happy with how the quilting turned out;
in fact I’ve enjoyed the whole project.
I think I've mentioned that I love BOM's and now that I have the
long-arm, I'm thinking I'll do more than one next year.
For someone who doesn't like to have too many projects going,
how many BOM's is too much?  Three?  Six?

This apple pantograph turned out to be fairly easy for me to do
and that got me pretty excited.  Wouldn't you know it?
There was a holiday sale!  I was quick to order 5 new ones that
I'm pretty sure I'll find very challenging but I'm going to give them
all a good try! 

I fully intended to cut myself off after my last order but this time is it!
Truly.  I think I've covered a lot of area with my collection of 13!

Just off the machine this afternoon is this lap quilt that
hopefully it will be on its way to its new home by Saturday.
I think this, made with those 1860's reproduction fabrics, works
well for a man so it's going to my brother-in-law.
It is quilted in fairly simple feathers that were made a little more
complicated than they should have been by some thick joining seams.
Sometimes you just can't avoid that in construction but I've
made a mental note to up my game on it from here on out.

Speaking of games!
We ended the football season as victoriously as possible!
5A State Champs!  My son was allowed to take the final
snaps in the victory formation at the end of the game.  As
an offensive lineman, he never touches the ball but, as there's
a funny story behind this--and, well, he's a darned good kid
and football player--so he was chosen for the honor by the coach.
Yes, a proud-parent moment!
(sorry, the story is too long to go into here)
And the icing on the cake trophy?
My son made not just All-City but All-State as well!

What an incredible wonderful ride it was!
So many friends and memories made!

There is a tradition for the seniors to hang up their cleats on the arch
at the entrance to the football field after their last game--and there
they stay till the elements bring them down.  This picture is so
beautiful...and a little bittersweet.  I'd go through it all again
and again if I could.  But life moves on.
He's been accepted to Creighton and has already been awarded
a substantial scholarship.  There are 6 more he's applying for within
their business school; with his academic record, we're very hopeful.

My husband and I cooked what we hope was another
elegant meal for the priests--this time just eight.
For the appetizer I served Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms--an easy
recipe that I've made more than a few times now with good results.
(This would be good for the holidays, btw.)

They can be made a little early and refrigerated, though you'll
need to account for the fact that they'll be ice cold going into
the oven and add a little time, or bring them to room temp first.
My preference is to use smaller mushrooms that are bite-sized
 which makes them more manageable at a dinner party.
Larger ones can be a little slippery to cut, and who wants to deal
with a knife for their appetizer anyway?

For the main course, my husband cooked up a pistachio-crusted
beef tenderloin; I made mashed potatoes with a hint of garlic and
maple-glazed carrots--my new favorite way of making carrots.
I suggest slicing these a little on the big side if you like your veggies
crisp-tender like we do.  They need to simmer a bit to reduce the glaze.
And, of course, served with toasted slices of my French bread
that I love to make for everything and everyone.

For dessert, there was a choice of pumpkin cheesecake (made with
our fresh pumpkin) and a bourbon banana cheesecake--a new recipe
that everyone seems to love.  I doubled all additions of the bourbon.
Even then you barely taste it in the cheesecake.  One of these days
I should do a whole post on cheesecakes because, after making about
a zillion, I think I've learned every trick and tip there is.

I taught myself how to make spun sugar garnishes.
For really shmancy desserts.  Above are regular spirals;
below are more cone-shaped.  I haven't tried the bowls
that you make on the back of a ladle but they're next.

They're so incredibly delicate and require very dry conditions so,
as much as I wanted to take them to our dinner, I really didn't think
they'd make it.   But, hey, add that one to the ol' repertoire, eh?

And lastly.

This little cutey is already one month old.
And we get to babysit him tomorrow night.

I'm not sure I'll get in another post before Christmas
so I'll just take this time to wish you a very wonderful
and blessed holiday.  May His peace be in your
heart and in your homes as you spend time with
all of those you love!

17 November 2017

An Early Christmas Gift

I seem to be drawn to quilt-alongs lately.
I found this Merry and Bright wallhanging on Sunday...
and started it on Monday.

I didn't take the time to think about how many
little pieces are in it.  Or that a large portion was paper-piecing.
(Note to self:  take the time!)
But sometimes we all need some "hole up in the sewing room" time
and that's exactly what I did, emerging last night with a completed
early Christmas gift that is already on its way to it's new home.

One down.

12 November 2017

"Apple Orchard" Top Completed--by Grandma

My last block is complete!

I have to admit that in keeping this a scrap- and stash-busting
project, the beauty of this quilt rather surprised me.  

These are just phone pics--one at night, one on a cloudy day--
so, sadly, neither image really does it justice.

"Apple Orchard"

But it really does look more striking in real life.  I can't wait to see how
well the apple pantograph I bought just for quilting this works out.
And, even more, I can't wait to gift it away.

But first on the quilting machine is another gift, October Winds.
After several rows of happy leaf quilting, I ran into tension issues again,
though not near as bad this time.  I think I have them fixed already
but other, more important things came up so it has sat unfinished
for a bit but I am looking forward to finishing it tomorrow.
Not much longer and both will be able to go right under the
Christmas tree when we put it up in a couple weeks.

I did decide to go ahead with hand-sewing the binding on the baby quilt;
my husband was in New Zealand for work so it was looking very likely
I'd be driving myself up to Kansas City to see our new grandson arrive.
No "road trip sewing" for me.

As everything turned out, hubs was able to switch the last leg
of his flight home to KC and, just hours later, we were both able
to be present for the big moment.

Forty-six years old, 25 years of marriage, four kids
and so many memorable life events, and just like that,
suddenly there I was, at 1 o'clock in the morning, a grandma.

A sewing, quilting, knitting, baking, cooking, canning, gardening grandma.
I think I got this.

04 November 2017

Quilt Top Complete: October Winds

It's late (actually, it's now very early!) but I wanted to post
my latest quilt top completion. Even better?  It's already
 loaded on the frame, ready to go.
(I'm getting quicker at that loading process!)

Perfect fall fabrics for what I think resemble
tumbling leaves all around the pumpkin patch.
I used this HST layout and directions from the Moda Bake Shop
for the quilt but with a different applique center.

"Maple Island" by Holly Taylor

I try to make at least one fall quilt every year; this project
went together so quickly I can't decide if I should try to
squeeze in another or move on to Christmas gifts.
Even though this has a fall theme, I'm still giving it as a Christmas
gift (the recipient loves decorating for fall).  I just need the November
block for my BOM to move on to completing that gift.  And then one
more (ahem) for which I still need to choose a design.
I say "ahem" because there are too many days between now and
Christmas for me to not decide on making more quilts for gifts.
But, stranger things have happened so we'll see...

29 October 2017

Pear Clafoutis and Baby Quilt Finish

Everything is in safe from the freeze; now comes the struggle
of trying to get it all used fresh or preserved for later.

Using the recipe from Julia Child's French cookbook
(that I've made several times 
with black cherries), 
I tried out some of our pears in a clafoutis.
Amazingly simple and so yummy, this summer
recipe has just been extended to the fall!

A portion of the roasted Anaheim chilies and green tomatoes became
16 pints of salsa verde.  (Using green tomatoes is a first for me;
but I didn't really get any tomatillos this year.)  Another portion went
to make 13 bags of enchilada sauce (freezer).  The remaining roasted
chilies went to the freezer but there are still piles of peppers and
my first crop of lemongrass to deal with in the fridge.

These herbs are for keeping in vases to cook with over the next week(s);
pears to cook with and lemongrass hearts to freeze.  Other herbs are being dried.

Over the late fall & winter, I store the extra pumpkins in the
garage--I cut them up as I get time over the next few months.
I've had pumpkins last to mid-February so why bother freezing
all the pumpkin puree when we can have it fresh?

This very yummy recipe of Pumpkin Buttermilk Waffles hit our
table just this morning.  We all loved them but I did cut the spices
 in half--when you make a lot of pumpkin recipes, the strong
flavor of these spices can get old quick.  Turned out to be a good
choice as I don't think I'd want more.  I also question all the butter.
I'll cut some next time but I'm a little concerned that may alter the texture.
And we like our waffles to be a little crispy.  Either way, these are
very worth trying but be warned they are rich with fall flavors.
(And calories?!)

My fall display on our front porch has been breakfast, lunch and
dinner for someone.  Fortunately, he only hit the gourds up there
but when I went to get the pumpkins out of the old wheelbarrow
that I use to display even more produce in the flower garden,
I found he had done some real damage. 

I decided my only option was to tear down most of my fall display early,
or I'd risk losing a good portion of my pumpkin crop.
So, leaving what I don't cook with, I set to work loading up everything else.
But I soon discovered the criminal was still at the scene of the crime 
inside the above pumpkin--a very large field mouse.  After what all he'd
been eating, I was not surprised.  But I was mad, and I will just say that he
will no longer be damaging anything on my front porch or anywhere else.
Mice are a given around here but lately they seem to be out of control.
I'm grateful the cats always keep them out of the house but something
has got to be done outside.  They live under the chicken coop.  Almost any
walk into the garden among the vines you'll see at least one and hear
another scurrying.  Traps and poison are out of the question with the
cats on patrol--and yes, they do catch them.
More cats are out of the question as well.

Onto more pleasant topics...
My second go at the long-arm went a lot better.  No tension issues!
I did have to learn how to load each layer (remember the first quilt
was already basted).  I've watched so many videos but I have yet
to see one that explained the direction of each roll/lead attachment
so I'm a little fuzzy here.

I still find these sea creatures to be very difficult
but I'm pretty sure they aren't perfect in the ocean
so why worry about it?

I have the binding sewn on from the front but I'm saving
the hand-sewing on the back for either tonight while we
watch football or for the upcoming road-trip
to see our new grandson...whenever he gets here.

23 October 2017

The End of the Growing Season

The first freeze is on the way so this week,
as much as I'd like to be in the sewing room,
I need to focus on the close of garden season.
Peppers, tomatoes (green and red!), pears and pumpkins.
Not to mention the herbs.

It's really a shame we don't have another month because
the great rains we've gotten this fall have kicked everything
in (finally!) and I now have what would be a bumper crop
of peppers.  As it is, many are only half-size and even more are
just blooms or too tiny to be worth my time.  

Igor, my "accidental" rooster that I didn't order but I love beautiful roosters
and he's very tame so far.  So tame I may change his name to Rupert.

But, as nothing goes to waste around here, the chickens were able
to pick through the pulled plants for snacks.  I've got more
than I can want to deal with right now anyway!

Just 1 of the 4 batches I grilled up.

Over the next few days I'll be making green enchilada sauce for
the freezer and canning up salsa verde so, as I type this,
I'm also roasting well over 100 Anaheim green chilies.
The pops and crackles and the smells of the peppers
cause me to be very thankful for what I have to work with.
Peeling all of those peppers is a tedious job but outside
a bluejay is claiming his space, the drying leaves are rustling
and the air is crisp.  It's a little hard to focus on the pears and the herbs
as well when the sewing room calls but I'll look instead on the colors and
take in the smells, and know what we'll enjoy in the coming winter.

I can't help but love Thanksgiving--it's smack in the middle of my favorite
season with its use of the harvest and colors.  But I really love it
because the message of stewardship and thankfulness
surrounds us in such a way that it cannot be avoided.
Life gets busy and the attitude of gratitude, no matter how hard
I try, sometimes slips a little.  In the fall, however, the scramble
 and the hard work comes to a close and the rewards pile up so much
that they can't help but smack me in the face--sometimes literally even. 
Like juice from a sizzling hot pepper.

On the note of gratefulness, I'm pretty thankful for Internet
after a week with none.  I found the hardest part to be lacking the
ability to access the printer.  I was really wanting to start on my
Farmer's Wife quilt but couldn't even print the templates.
I suppose it is just as well as there are enough other quilts to
finish first.  Instead I worked on the applique center of my fall quilt.

This isn't a favorite craft of mine but I do like how it fits into this
quilt so I thought I'd make an exception.  This is a "rough draft"
that I'm still working on--not quite happy with it yet.

For now, I have gloves to don and many peppers to seed and peel.
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