Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Christmas gift all sewed

I took a class on making casserole covers and napkins at my LQS. They did a series of classes of quick holiday gift projects and I hope they do it again next year. It was fun.

I decided to give a few of the casserole covers as gifts this year. One is for my aunt who always hosts us for Christmas (navy), one is for my mom (blue floral), and one is for my SIL (brick red). I think I'll make a few more and give them to some of my friends too, but after the holidays. The second blue floral is for one of them.

They lay almost flat to store. To use, you put your dish inside, bring up the two sides with the rings, thread the handle through both rings, and cinch it up. I like that it is flexible to hold different shapes of bowls and trays. As long as it is round or square, it should fit. They're lined with InsulBrite to keep the heat or cold in. We do a lot of dinners with friends so I know it will come in handy. Now I just need to make myself one.

I Elfed my table

I love this little elf. He's so cute. I don't have a lot of "cute" stuff in my house, but I couldn't resist him last year. Of course, this little table runner I whipped up over Thanksgiving break doesn't hurt. I made it from a Pieced Tree pattern called Two by Fours. The fabric is various charm squares from Moda lines by Sandy Gervais called Holly Jolly and Merry and Bright. I mixed in a few other things from my stash too. I used up almost all my scraps of that aqua color which feels good!

I also souped up a cheap wreath with new accent greenery. It looks so much better.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deviled Ham Spread

1 pound smoked ham, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Great on crackers.

Pecan Pie Bars

These are better than the pie!

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/3 c packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350° F. combine using pastry knife until mixed. Press 
into 13x9 pan. Bake 16-20 minutes until golden brown.

1 c packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 c dark corn syrup
1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt
2 c chopped pecans

Mix all filling ingredients but pecans. Stir in pecans. Pour over 
baked crust. Bake additional 35 minutes (or until set) at 350°.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fried Calamari

I made calamari tonight for dinner, based on this recipe. The squid was from a local Asian grocery store that has the best seafood.

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1-2 pounds clean squid rings
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c Italian style bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dried parsley
Salt (lots!) and freshly ground black pepper
Marinara sauce

Pour enough oil into a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Working in small batches, toss the squid into the flour mixture to coat. Carefully add the squid to the oil and fry until crisp and very pale golden, about 1 minute per batch. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

Serve with marinara sauce.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Curried Green Chile Pork

I just served this to friends Sunday night to great reviews. It's great leftover and doubles well.

This recipe and the one I posted for Beef Bourguignonne are variations from this free cookbook pdf download from KitchenAid. If you scroll down in the pdf, there are a bunch of great recipes after you get past some of the instructions and such.

2 1⁄2 pounds lean pork stew meat
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
dash of red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 small can of mild green chiles
1⁄2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut milk

Place pork in Slow Cooker ceramic pot. In small bowl, combine curry powder, brown sugar, thyme, cumin, salt, and red pepper. Stir in garlic and oil until well blended. Add to pork; toss to coat evenly. Add onion, jalapeno peppers, and chicken broth. Cover and cook at HIGH 31⁄2 to 41⁄2 hours, or until pork is very tender. In small bowl, blend flour into coconut milk. Stir into pork mixture. Cover and cook at HIGH 10 to 20 minutes, or until thickened. Serve with hot cooked rice.
Yield: 6 servings (1 cup per serving).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple Bread Pudding

This is adapted from the recipe for Apple-Nut Bread Pudding in Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook. It smells great cooking, is easy to prepare and is perfect to warm up from the chilly fall weather.

8 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 c raisins
1 c sugar
1 scant T pumpkin pie spice or baking spice
3 eggs
2 c milk
1/4 c apple juice
4 T butter, melted

Place bread cubes, apples and raisins in greased slow cooker and mix gently. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and spice. Add in egg & mix well. Add milk, apple juice and melted butter and combine thoroughly. Pour this mixture over bread mixture in slow cooker and gently stir. Cover. Cook on high for approximately 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween and Welcome Quilt Festival visitors!

I thought I would share some details on this quilt for the Blogger's Quilt Festival. (Thanks, Amy!) I made this quilt purely for fun. It came together quickly and I can't wait to have it on the walls for next Halloween. Since I just finished it yesterday, we won't get to enjoy it for too long this year being that it is Halloween today.

hubby dressed as a quilt for Halloween :)

Pattern: Late Bloomer from Thimble Blossoms, out of the Australian Homespun mag

I had the fortunate chance to be in Australia when the Australian Homespun mag that contained this pattern was on the newsstand. I immediately knew I would make it since it was both cute and fairly easy. A while later, I happened to see a Chic or Treat layer cake on clearance and a lightbulb went off that it would be perfect with this pattern (well, what fabric line wouldn't be, really). I've had the material and pattern sitting there waiting to be made for a year. I talked a little bit about my process of picking out the border and ric rac color here.

I agonized for a bit about not doing the applique circles, but felt the quilt didn't need it since the fabric was so graphic and colorful. I also ended up stitching down all the edges of the ric rac so it would lay smooth. This was a first for me with the wavy edge on the bottom and it is so adorable.

fun graphic polka dots, candy and spooky houses

Fabric: Chic or Treat layer cake by Moda, spider web from Alexander Henry and some orange polka dots from Hobby Lobby

I love the fabric. Cute, but not toooo cute. I hope the polka dot fabric from Hobby Lobby will hold up. It actually feels just as nice as my quilt store cotton and  was just the perfect color of orange and I couldn't resist those jumbo polka dots.

grey polka dot backing fabric and beautiful quilting

Quilted by: Deb Geissler

Deb did such a great job with the quilting and her turnaround was lightning fast. It is the second quilt she has done for me and I wouldn't hesitate to send her all of my larger quilts. The batting is Hobbs and I like the way it is lightweight but still gets lots of crinkles after it is washed and dried.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Spice "Latte"

I'm enjoying my homemade pumpkin "latte" right now. My recipe: 3 cups of milk, 3 T pumpkin puree, 1 t or so of baking spice (just picked up Tues at a local spice shop and it is yummy!), sugar to taste and instant coffee. Simmer on stovetop to let the flavors meld. This is a generous batch with enough for a friend.

I find using instant makes it creamier while still nofat--no water to dilute it. I sort of just made it up so the measurements may be a wee bit off. Luckily, it's easy to tinker with to get it to taste right.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two birthday presents for my soon to be 2 year old

My daughter's 2nd birthday is this coming week. She's changing so quickly. Hopefully she'll change quickly through this defiant and moody phase she's going through right now. She is incredibly sweet almost all of the time.

I made her two things. One is a cutie patootie mushroom pillow. She loves mushrooms. It coordinates with this quilt and with another I have planned to be on her bed once she transitions to a regular twin bed. It is 12" square and was my own design. I used an Olfa circle cutter and glue baste. I'm not that skilled at applique, but I love the freedom of the technique. The Lakehouse iridescent dotted fabric is so fun. I bought it at Isabelle Originals in Dysart, IA--the best quilt shop in all of Iowa! The rest is from a remnant of a panel and Lecien aqua with mushrooms.

See the little mushrooms on the aqua?

two tone purple iridescent dotted fabric = girly fun!

The other is a cute birthday table topper. The cake stand has yummy pumpkin bars right now, but it will soon be replaced with cupcakes! The fabrics were just the cupcake print plus bits and pieces pulled from my scrap bin and stash. The pattern is Center Stage by Pieced Tree, also purchased at Isabelle Originals.

My piecing and stippling is getting better, but still far from perfect.

These colors just scream "Happy Birthday"

Stash additions

Fabric purchased at Quilt A Fair two weeks ago. A couple of the fat quarters go to my mom, but the rest are for my stash or a fall colored pineapple quilt I've got started. Most were purchased a booth that had 20 fats for $25. I should have purchased another 20 for that price!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Corn on the Cob

Have you seen this corn on the cob steamer or know someone who tried one? I just got the pattern, but now the corn season is over. I bought one from their booth at Quilt A Fair. The owner was super nice too. I can't wait to try it next summer. I think I'll try making a few for Christmas gifts too. My family is all from the mid-west and we love our corn on the cob!

Sweetwater had a booth at Quilt A Fair too. I think they thought I was a bit of a geek when I was talking to them at their booth. I was like a dorky groupie--LOL! I love Authentic and can't wait to make a quilt out of my fat quarter stack.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slow-cooker Beef Bourguignonne

I just made this and it is yummy. Perfect for fall and makes the house smell delicious! As a bonus, it makes enough for our family to save half for later.

3 lb. beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 T dried parsley - or - 4 T chopped fresh parsley
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 T bacon drippings
12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters
1 c red wine (burgundy or similar)
1/2 c condensed beef comsommé
2 T tomato paste
1 c water

Combine beef, onion, carrots, parsley, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, salt, pepper, garlic, bacon, drippings and mushrooms in slow cooker. In separate bowl, whisk wine, consommé, tomato paste, and water. Pour over beef mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. After cooked, thicken with flour and additional consommé and cook at high 10-15 minutes.

Serve over cooked egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Graphic design time

I've been messing around with my blog look. It is a lot of fun! It's heading in the right direction although I think I may tweak some of the colors a bit. What I've got now might be up for a while, or I might change it up a bit tomorrow night--it just depends on my mood. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Perfect day

So far today is just one of those days that is perfectly enjoyable--and I haven't even left the house. My daughter, who is almost two, has a lot to do with it. We pretended we were animals, read books, she watched just enough Sesame Street so I could finish piecing the back for my Halloween quilt, we ate a fun but yummy lunch of waffles topped with blackberry jam and vanilla yogurt, and she just went down easily for a nap. Later, we'll drop off the quilt to the longarmer Deb and make a stop at a park.

Quilt top is ready to go and kitty approved. :)

The Halloween quilt is going to be so cute! I'm not sure how to tackle the ric rac so that it doesn't pucker the fabric though. I followed the pattern directions to just sew down the center but felt it wasn't finished looking. I then sewed down all the edges using my free-motion foot. It went pretty quickly and overall looks better. I hope the quilter can give it a little tension on her frame to straighten it out. I'll use cotton batting to make it all shrink and crinkle. Hopefully that effect will mask the slight pucker it gave the fabric and the ric rac is poly (but feels like cotton) so it won't shrink. On the previous quilt I made with ric rac, it was sewn on after the quilting and was only on a small baby-sized quilt so I didn't sew it all down.

Any tips on quilting with ric rac?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sharing the love

After seeing this post at Sew, Mama, Sew about Iraqi Bundles of Love, I immediately knew I wanted to participate. I've got supplies ready for two packages to send over. I just need to get to the store and buy two new packages of needles and a pair of scissors to throw in each one. One is geared for baby fabrics with some panels and flannels in blue and yellow. The other is sort of a dark colored mix. I added buttons, elastic and other misc to each. I hope that it brings someone joy and above all that they can put it to good use. It feels good to share my stash, especially since I'm beginning to feel like I've been selfish in buying so darn much fabric.

Links if you want to participate too:
What to send
How to build a bundle and send it
Deadline: must be in the mail by Oct. 1

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moravian beauty

Halloween quilt indecision and decision

I had bought two Moda Chic or Treat layer cakes last year. (Not sure what I was thinking with two but they were a good deal.)

When I saw this quilt from Camille of Thimble Blossoms, I knew I wanted to make a Halloween version. I actually want to make it over and over since it is so simple and cute and I love the ric rac. I skipped the applique circles and will either applique spiders or skip it all together. The colors on this quilt are so loud that I don't think it needs the detail and I'm in a "get it done" mood.

the winning combination
I had some indecision on which way to go with the ric rac color (green or black) and which fabric to use for the top and bottom border (orange dots or purple multi dots). I've decided on the black ric rac and orange dots. It helped to photograph it to confirm what I was leaning towards anyway.

the contrast is all wrong with this combo
cute, but the black ric rac just has more pop
this top border fabric just is too busy and overwhelms the rest

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Boy Oh Boy

Maple Star Chain
Another quilt finish! I'm on a roll, 3 quilts finished in less than 30 days. This quilt goes to Czech Republic also, to be given to my nephew. It's really late because he's almost a year and a half but, in my defense, it is hard to get quilts over there as I don't trust the post office and we also had a daughter a few months before they did so was very busy.

I just love the fabric! The pattern is fun too with alternating Maple Star and Star Chain blocks, with no need for sashing. I like the way the two blocks complement each other and create movement in the quilt. I fussy cut the fabric for the center of the Star Chain blocks so there were different dots in each one. It works as an I Spy quilt too.

Maple Star block
Star Chain block
The quilting is simple as I'm still not comfortable with my free motion quilting skills. The binding was double fold bias tape so I just sewed it on with a zig zag. In hind sight, the variegated thread makes the binding look lumpy. Oh well, it's still cute.

The Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy fabric is so cute!
Backing fabric

Size: ~40"x40"

Pattern: Maple Star Chain from Time-Crunch Quilts by Nancy J. Martin (minus the outside border)

Fabric: Lakehouse Boy Oh Boy line, Moda Marbles, Moda Tiddleywinks, green from Andover, and a couple misc. prints. The binding was some bias tape by the yard I had picked up ages ago.  

Thread: King Tut variegated

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quilt for my in-laws

Variation of Star Cakes
Professionally quilted with a stipple design
Backed with wide fabric from Moda, shown on left

This quilt will be heading to Czech Republic with me at the end of the month. My in-laws live there and it is a joint gift for my hubby's mother's 60th and father's 65th birthday. The quilt is a huge queen size. Here are the details on the pattern and fabric if you're interested.

I'm so glad to have it finished. It's even washed and dried so I can give it to them all crinkly. I love crinkly quilts!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Colorado toile

Image from
Image from
I just got a yard and a half of this year's Rocky Mountain Shop Hop fabric, a Colorado-themed toile. The images are actually quite big. I don't know how I'm going to use it yet, but that will hopefully be enough for something nice. The store I got it from was almost out by 2pm Friday. I hope everyone who wants some gets to the shops quickly!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How did you start quilting?

This post reminded me of how I got my start in quilting. I directly have APQ to thank for getting me into quilting. I freelanced for them right out of college and they let me borrow one of the loaner sewing machines. I didn't follow a pattern or look at the manual, but I just dove in. This quilt is the result.

My first quilt! The technique could be better but I like it anyway.

Seeing the photo of the design wall brings back good memories! The publication I worked on was Century of Quilts, a history of Meredith Corp.'s influence in the quilting world with projects from various time periods. The photo is of my tattered copy, but I've kept a couple pristine copies tucked away. I was a junior-level designer on it, just so no one thinks they would hire a recent college grad to do all the design work on a magazine. Going into the archives was fun--seeing all the beautiful, old covers.

Most of the staff that was there is no longer around. At the time, Melissa Gansen Beauchamp was the art director, Heidi Kaisand was the editor, and Diane Yanney did a lot of the writing. Jennifer Keltner was there, but I didn't work with her as closely. Many other freelancers were part of the team and in particular, I remember sitting in on a meeting with Susan Price Miller about historic quilts and fabric. I would be surprised if any of them remember me as I was there all of 3 months, but it made a bigger impact on me than they would probably expect. It was a great experience for my career as a graphic designer, but I think it made even more impact on who I am by inspiring me to start quilting.

I had it professionally quilted. I still can't stipple that well!

How did you start quilting?

Nice video tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Co. has some really nice video tutorials. I have to get one of their binding tools. So simple, but looks like it works well.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pretty in Pink

I finished the baby quilt for my cousin's upcoming baby. I really hope they like it! I made up the pattern. It is basically 4.5" x 16.5" strips sewn in sets of 4, into huge split rail fence blocks. Then I added 6.5" strips on two sides. Next it is basted and quilted, then the giant ric rac sewn on, and bound.

Fabrics: Amy Butler Charm Cocoa Dew Drops, Dotty Beans, Awning Stripe, and Covington Tile ; Alexander Henry Kleo in Sage and Kleo Dot; Tracey Porter; Lakehouse pink dots; Anna Maria Horner Garden Party polka dots; backed and bound with pink paisley flannel

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gotta fight the urge to hoard!

I started this today from stash fabrics. Most are Charm by Amy Butler but there is some Tracy Porter, Alexander Henry and Anna Marie Horner fabrics in there as well. All of it was stash I've been hoarding. It is so hard for me to use fabrics in my stash sometimes but I'm forcing myself to get over it. I know when I use it up is is most likely gone for good and that is surprisingly upsetting. Silly, but true!

Now I have to decide on the color of fabric for a top and bottom band, and whether or not I want to use the ric rac. I'm thinking yes.

The quilt is for my cousin's wife. Her baby shower is at the end of the month so I'll have to move pretty quickly on this one.

Snowbound in July

Boy could I use a bit of snow now! It was hot today and still 80 outside at 9pm.

I decided to join in on a free (yep, FREE!) block of the month, Snowbound, by the very talented Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill. It is super cute and although I think some of my fabrics will be a bit Christmas-y, I hope to get away with displaying it a little after the holidays too.

Background for applique: Miss Emma's Garden by Anne Sutton for Henry Glass (this just worked out perfect since it is her fabric design and BOM, plus it was stash)
Appliques: solid cream from Moda for Nautical and Nice range for the snowmen, mostly charm packs or layer cake of Holly Jolly and Merry & Bright by Sandy Gervais for Moda plus scraps of whatever I have
Setting squares: reds and creams pulled out of my Merry & Bright layer cake + other stash and scraps

I've started this a bit backwards, completing all my setting squares before starting the applique. I joined a little behind too, but hope to work on it consistently the rest of the year. Each of the red squares are 1" finished, so it took me a while to finish these!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pillowcase resource

I just found this page from American Patchwork & Quilting with pillowcase patterns.

I also love their tube method for making pillowcases. Fast forward about half way to skip the decorative band stitching if you aren't interested. Here is the pdf to the pattern.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Table runner: destination down under

I made this table runner for a friend of ours who was visiting from Melbourne, Australia. He has earthy colors at his house. I hope this will work out nicely for him. He seemed to really like it when I gave it to him.

The pattern is Fat Quarter Table Runner from Out of the Blue. The fat quarters are some vintage Possibilities prints from one of their garage sales a couple years back. The binding and backing are Moda Stitches on the Oregon Trail from Kansas Troubles Quilters. It's all stash.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love this quote

"You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm."
– Colette

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Off to the long-arm quilter

I finally finished this quilt top. It will be given to my in-laws. They have a lot of these colors in their flat so I hope they like it. It is off to be quilted. There is no way I could handle quilting that one on my regular sized machine.

It is a variation of Star Cakes. I added 3" sashing and my blocks were slightly smaller after I trimmed them square. Don't you find it difficult to be really precise with the pinked edge of precuts? It started with a layer cake of Moda's Collections for a Cause: Tradition. I removed the navy prints and added a couple of browns and blacks from my stash. The tan background was also from my stash.

It doesn't look so great in our bedroom that normally has plum bedding. And nothing looks good with that hideous carpet that is still a remnant of the previous owners. You have no idea how happy I would be to see that gone but my husband has yet to agree to have it replaced. Isn't 6+ years enough already!?!? Someday, someday...