Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Actors In the Wings

Sometimes you just wake up and decide a project has been idling away in the wings long enough. Time to fish or cut bait (pardon my mixed metaphors!!!). So I pulled out my Farmers Market top (pattern free from Pat Sloan) and slapped a plaid-ish border all around (lighter than it appears here). Then I decided to call up the five blocks from Circuit Rider (last year's KC Star BOM) and take a look. There are 7 more to make, but realistically--I was not loving these blocks anymore, sniff sniff. So...sewed the five I had together, slapped on a border, and wah-la--we're going to have a table runner! Whew, what a relief to clear out some UFOs. Now to find pieces large enough for backings, some Thermore batting, and get these babies machine quilted. Sometimes you just gotta know when to say when.

Didja ever read a book that you just did not want to end? I know I mentioned The Help by Kathryn Stockett in my last post, but it is definitely worth mentioning again. It was one of those books--I was not wanting it to be over. Set in the 60s in Jackson, Mississippi, it was an insight into racial relations and the changing world of that time. The twist? It was told (fictionally) by black domestics from their experiences working for white women-- some compassionate, some not so nice. It was a great mirror for those days. If you loved reading Roots and To Kill a Mockingbird, this might just be your cup of tea.
How's about a yummy recipe for tomorrow's breakfast?
Breakfast Pizza: Crumble and brown 1 pound sausage (I like Jimmy Dean's). Drain. On an ungreased 14" pizza pan lay out the wedges from 1 1/2 cans crescent rolls, points toward the center. Press into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Sprinkle 2 cups thawed shredded hash browns and the sausage over the crust. Top with 2 cups sharp grated cheddar cheese. In a bowl beat 6 or 7 eggs with 1/4 cup milk, S & P, dash of Worcestershire. Pour over sausage/potatoes. Bake @ 375 degress 25 - 30 minutes. Yu--umm!

Monday, February 23, 2009

$264,000 Quilt

Bet that got your attention, huh? The Reconciliation Quilt sold for $264,000 at Sotheby's auction in 1991! Amazing. This 1867 beauty was made by Lucinda Ward Honstain of Brooklyn following the Civil War. It is truly art. An article telling about it is in the new Fons & Porter Love of Quilting mag which arrived in my mailbox today. I am so enamored by works like this quilt and can only aspire to someday do something similar. In fact, this has been a wish for quite awhile, apparently. After reading about this masterpiece, I was reminded of patterns I had purchased years ago from the Sunflower Pattern Co-operative for the War & Pieces Civil War Reproduction Sampler quilt.

This quilt just blew me away when I first saw it made up at a quilt show. I looked high and low for the pattern (you know how obsessive I can be about finding quilt patterns!!!). Finally I did find out the designers--Barbara Brackman and Karla Menaugh. I was able to contact Karla and she so very kindly sold me the pattern (actually patterns) directly. It had been a block of the month, apparently, in 1999 and I acquired it a few years later. Yep, it's been sitting in my sewing room a lo-o-ong time. Something jogs my memory from time to time about this beauty and I go check to make sure it is safe and sound!!

Here are a few of my favorite blocks.  (All photos can be clicked to enlarge.)

Not much sewing took place this weekend. I've been on a reading jag and when that happens, all else reverts to the back burner. I love Fannie Flagg's books. They are just what you need when life gets too serious. She has such a breezy hilarious style that they always put me in a good mood. Can't Wait To Get To Heaven was a quick read and very uplifting. Now I am devouring The Help by Kathyrn Stockett. It's set in the 60s in Mississippi and has really grabbed my attention. Need to git-er-done so I can get back to sewing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just So You Know...

I read each and every comment left here by you wonderful Blog Pals. However, I am really ba-a-d about emailing commenters--unless they are seeking help with something. I try to respond to questions right here on the blog. After all, someone else may have the same question, oui? Teresa was so sweet! On my February 14th post, I commented on my gifts to DH but failed to mention what I received!!! And, seriously, isn't that the most important thing??? Well, my Valentine's gift was the two new Fiesta plates and the stovetop S & P shakers. Love, love, love them. I have had a long love affair with Fiesta dishes. My collecting goes back at least 30 years. My sons still remind me how I dragged them through flea markets and antique malls and shops searching out those colorful beauties. And how they ate off these dishes EVERY SINGLE DAY of their young lives!!! To that, I say, just be grateful you got to eat every single day LOL! But I digress. Most of my collection is from the original 1930s stuff. A few years ago, Homer Laughlin (manufacturer) started to make Fiesta again--and in some yummy colors. I have some of that too. I am especially nuts about the old turquoise. And, as luck would have it, the new turquoise is remarkably close in color! So I wanted these two plates to help fill out a table's worth for company. And, well, who could possibly resist the shakers? Not me. Lest you think DH is super husband, don't worry. I picked them out and said, here, buy me this for Valentine's Day!!! That's how we roll around here.
Patti asked on my January 26th post if the photo there was all of the stash I had left. She remembers me dealing with a huge amount of fabric months back!!! I had a good laugh out of Patti's comment. No, dear lady, that isn't all. I have 18 medium tubs of fabric (holiday, 30s, kid prints, theme prints, flannels, etc. etc. etc.) and a HUGE tub of wool. It's a sickness, I tell ya. I have done lots of stash reduction, I must admit. But yet, it seems to multiply--like bunnies!

Speaking of bunnies (like that segue?) as I was going through the spring decor boxes, I ran across these wool babies. It is so fun to go through decorating items you haven't seen for a whole year. I am trying desperately to show some restraint and wait till March to put all the spring goodies out. But it's hard...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pudgy Bunnies

Well, now, have you ever seen a cuter pattern? I think not! Last week I was feeling the "itch to ditch" the snowmen decor. And to replace those frosty guys with chicks and bunnies and other promises of Spring. And what should I happen upon? Karen of
Sew Primitive's adorable Feedsack Bunnies pattern. Well, I immediately ordered it and it arrived Saturday afternoon (great service, BTW). I couldn't wait to dive into bunny love!!! I'm calling my version Pudgy Bunnies ('cuz that's how we're feeling around here after Valentine weekend).
Rocky, of course, was extremely helpful in the pinbasting department. He can hold those quilt sandwiches down with the best of 'em! And here's the quiltlet ready for handtacking the binding and hanging sleeve. I am purposely saving that handwork to do at my Thursday mini-group meeting.

Here's Block 2 of the Kansas City Star 2009 BOM. See that little gadget up in the right-hand corner? Another one of those must-haves in the sewing room. It's a Clover binding-making-thingamajig. I have those in several sizes--this one makes 1/4 " binding for stems and vines. Phenomenol invention.
This morning is haircut and color touch-up time so better head off to get dressed. Oh, and before that, I'm heading to the basement to haul up those boxes of bunnies and chicks and birdies, oh my.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nothin' Says Lovin' Like Somethin' From the Oven

Happy, happy Valentine's Day!

For my dear hubster, it's all about the sugar today!   Awaiting him at the kitchen table, along with a mushy card, is a big red heart-shaped box filled with Russell Stover assorted chocolates (his very favorite) with instructions that he doesn't have to share!!!

Then, after a sensible salad lunch (to counteract all the sugar) will be his bestest dessert--blueberry pie.   

I am trying a new pie crust recipe, Barefoot Contessa's :   3 cups AP flour, 1 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. baking powder, 8 T. diced cold lard (yep, lard!), 8 T. diced cold butter, 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water.   Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in food processor.  Add the lard and butter and pulse 10 times, till the fat is the size of peas.   With motor running, add ice water, processing only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together.   Dump dough out on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball.   Wrap in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Filling:   4 cups fresh, washed blueberries (I'll be using ones I froze from the Farmers Market last summer), 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. nutmeg.   Mix dry ingredients.   Add thawed blueberries and mix gently.  Pour into unbaked pie crust. Add top crust and slit to vent (today's slits will be goofy heart shapes!!!).   Bake at 400 degrees  for about 50 minutes.   (Note:  place pie plate on a cookie sheet to catch any "blueberry eruptions"--you'll be glad you did.)   While hot, sprinkle pie with sugar. yummy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday Misc

It's a pleasant morning here in KC! Fifty-six degrees and a little much-needed rain is on the way. The weekend was so spring-like too. Due to DH's fluish symptoms, we did spend most of it indoors resting and watching downloaded movies (Dark Knight, Secret Life of Bees, and Mamma Mia--all winners). I did steal a little sewing time. I finished Block 2 of Bunny Hill's precious A Tisket, A Tasket BOM. Can't wait for the next one. I am working on Block 2 of Gail Pan's Christmas BOM, Merry. Love both of these designers' work.

I did HAVE to purchase this Denyse Schmidt book Quilts after reading Tall Grass Prairie's discussion of improvisational quilting. (Waving at Jacqui!!!) I let her know what a bad influence she was LOL! It seems my quilting wants to flip-flop between traditional/folk art/scrappy and the edgier liberated style. Well, never a dull moment!

Bernie's back home now, sounding refreshed after her few days at the spa. While she was away, I tidied some sewing tools around her vacant area. I reflected on a few that are must-have gadgets: the bone folder (great for poking out corners), my iPod (soothing music to help me relax during free-motion quilting), Neutrogena (wonderful for giving my hands better grip while FM quilting), stiletto (an extra-long finger for feeding fabric through the machine), and longish tweezers (for pulling up bobbin threads at the beginning of a sewing line). What are your favorite sewing room gadgets? I'd love to hear!

While KC may be well-known for its fountains, Chiefs & Royals, the Country Club Plaza, the World War I Memorial, Nelson Museum, and the city where Harry Truman started his political career, it seems that we are more famous for our BARBEQUE!!! I have seen several spots on national TV lately telling about this new treat, the Bacon Explosion!!!! Seems that some KC-area dudes invented it and it is catching on like wildfire. Here's a link for those not afraid of cholestrol demons: Bacon Explosion.

On the subject of food, who'd a thunk you could have a free sample of sushi at Costco's???? It was downright tasty! There was seaweed, sticky rice, imitation crab and a few other unrecognizable tidbits.
Well, it's off to the grocery store--the cupboard is bare. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Tale of Two Quilts

At our January quilt guild meeting we had a wonderful speaker, Nancy Wakefield. Even though her topic, color blindness in quilters, was very interesting and informative, the real stars of the show were her amazing array of quilts. And, as often is the case, one of her quilts grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go! It was this gorgeous Courthouse Steps with Floral Applique. I bugged her and wrangled the info out of her (well, actually she shared quite willingly LOL) as to where I might find the pattern. She said it was in a Leisure Arts book called Scrap Quilts. Oooh, I was just sure I had that in my home library. Hmmmm...I searched and searched as soon as I got home from the meeting. I had lots of books with the word "scrap" in the title but not the coveted one. Durn. So I went online to my local library's website--nada. Checked Leisure Arts website--zip. Looked through dice. Then over the next few days I looked at every local quilt shop (and some not so local) and every craft store for the elusive book. AAAARRRGGGHHH--it was nowhere to be found. I asked my mini-group buddies to please check their libraries--no luck.

Not to be deterred, I decided to just "improvise". After all, Courthouse Steps is a popular log cabin variation so it would be easy to come up with the basic middle of the quilt. Then the old lightbulb went off in my brain (yes, occasionally that happens) and I remembered a Fons & Porter magazine I had been saving for ages--almost seven years actually. Found it and voila!
Just look at this beauty from the September/October 2002 issue of Love of Quilting. Isn't that something? I remember now why I loved it so much. It is traditional and folk-arty and colorful and fun. And I am so in love with pieced quilts that have an applique border. I will most likely stick with the black and cream and red color scheme as I want it for my bedroom. And I will probably make a wallhanging rather than a bedsized quilt. But it just goes to show you, ratpack tendencies occasionally pay off.
I took Bernie to the "spa" yesterday for her annual treatment (translation: my Bernina is at the Bernina shop for yearly maintenance). I miss her already!!!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bake Shop, Movies, Bread

Oh. My. Goodness. Just had to share this wonderful site I learned of over on The Happy Zombie. It is Moda Bake Shop. What a fun assortment of "recipes" for quicky projects using the precuts out there today: fqs, charm packs, jelly rolls, etc. Go see for yourself. I turned my heart block into a table hot pad for February. I did make it a little larger than the sample (just 'cuz I already had this 12 1/2 inch block) and I did replace the regular batting with heat resistant batting (just 'cuz I had a large enough scrap of it) and I did add a bit of lace (just 'cuz I had some and well, it's Valentine month!!). Other than that it's just like the one on Moda Bake Shop LOL!!!

Movie Time. On Thursday DH and I decided to go see Slumdog Millionaire. Oh, wow, what an amazing movie. I can see why it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. It is suspenseful, eye-opening, a bit violent, entertaining, and romantic--all in one! It was a bit depressing to see the orphan kids of India and how they grapple with staying alive. But so uplifting in a strange way also. Two thumbs up!

Then yesterday dear sister and I had a Girls Day Out. We lunched at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Margarita's (and yes, had margaritas!), went to the new Dillard's store for some shoe shopping therapy, and then to the movies to see Marley and Me. Now THAT is a ten-hankie film! A sobbing and dripping and sniffing ten-hankie film. But entertaining nonetheless.

I have been on a kick for about a year or so to find a great go-to no-knead bread recipe. This book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg and Francois, has a good one. You can google the master recipe (Boule Artisan Free-Form Loaf)--that's where I first learned of it. Wish I had saved the website. It is one of those where you make a large amount of dough and keep it in your fridge, then pull out what you need for that day's bread. It has a very good flavor and it is convenient to have the dough waiting for you in the fridge. Will post a photo next time I make it. Next picture is from the Mary Jane's Farm magazine (which is an amazing mag, BTW, if you are interested in organic food, crafts, and farm life). Her No-Knead Artisan Bread uses a sourdough starter and looks very similar to the Hertzberg-Francois loaf. I am going to give this one a try some time this week. And, of course, the NY Times Speedy No-Knead Bread is also a tasty one. That recipe is also google-able. If any readers have another yummy no-knead recipe you'd be willing to pass along, I'd greatly appreciate it. Mmmmm....warm yeasty bread, is there anything better?
Off to buy ingredients for making quesadillas to munch on during the Super Bowl...