Saturday, December 20, 2014

#Sweet Goodness

SewCal Gal is at it again!  She's so sweet, and she's asking us to share our sweet goodness, too.  Go HERE for more info!  And if you happen to recognize my post from last time on her blog, she featured me!! Little ol' me!  I'm so honored!

Well, it just so happens that I had a sweet day!  My son, who I don't get to see often enough, had today off.  He works 2 jobs, and although he lives about 30 minutes away, his jobs are in the opposite direction, so I cherish the time we do get to spend together.  And Hazel totally adores having time with her boy.  She barely lets him sit without leaving balls and frisbees in his lap.  At one point today, he was leaning against the couch with his right leg crossed in front of the left, and Hazel dropped the ball in that little "shelf" where his jeans bunched enough to hold it.  It was pretty funny.  He won't be able to attend the family Christmas in NY this year, so this was our Christmas.

His favorite #SweetGoodness thing that I bake is Nestle's Toll House Pie.  It's a chocolate and pecan pie in a cookie like base, all in a pie shell.  It takes about 15 minutes to prep, and the house smells so good while it bakes.  Here's the recipe.  I often use the Pillsbury pie crusts, and always have the ingredients for this on hand.  It's great for pot-lucks and dinners with friends, too.  Just make sure there's either vanilla ice cream (or chocolate chip) or whipped cream, available.  I told him to take 1/2 the pie home today.  He loves it cold, too.
 Nestle's photo is actually better than mine.  I need to work on food styling photos!

I also wanted to try baking Snickerdoodles.  Bernie gave me the recipe a few years ago, and I've never made them.  But since Matt isn't as crazy about chocolate as I am, I figured I would bake these today, too.  When he was young, we baked together.  I miss that time, and now, he usually would rather play video games, but I dragged him into this.  And I totally loved doing it with my grown son, just like when he was young.  That was Sweet Goodness for me.  More memories, and him eating the dough instead of making cookies.
 I asked him to mix the cinnamon and sugar, It was about 2 Tbsp of each, and we put it in a bowl.  I beat 1 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until creamy.  Then I added 2 eggs, and beat that.  Mix in 2 tsp Cream of Tartar, 1 tsp baking soda, and 2 3/4 cups sifted flour and 1/2 tsp salt.  I grabbed my 2 large cookie sheets and the parchment paper, and handed him the cookie scoop from Pampered Chef.  He liked using the tool to drop the rounds of dough in the cinnamon sugar, and I rolled them around and placed them on the cookie sheets.  They do spread out, so leave room!  Bake at 400* for 8 to 10 minutes.  I do plan to make these again.  They were perfectly crunchy at the edge and wonderfully tender and buttery in the middle.

And, one more Sweet Goodness is my Christmas cookies!  I use the basic Spritz recipe from the cookie press package.  I double the recipe, and press 1/2 of it with the round disk.  I add green food coloring to the rest, and press out the trees.  I add sprinkles or colored sugar to those, and dip the round ones in melted chocolate chips (place in a bowl, and microwave for about 2 minutes.  Make sure the bowl is completely dry, or you get gritty chocolate) and then dip in sprinkles or other decorating things.

This is another thing I bring to holiday parties and share with friends.  I found it really funny, that after re- connecting with a friend from 6th grade, on Facebook, the one thing she really remembered about me back then was my Christmas Tree cookies!  She said they were the best. I thought she would remember my guitar playing and singing.  She's already asked for a plate again this year.  I guess I'll have to bake some more of these.  

What's your #Sweetgoodness?

Thanks for visiting!  


Friday, December 19, 2014

Leona's Log Cabin

Another finished quilt.  This and 2 others (see THIS POST.) are finally on their way to Massachusetts, for Liz to deliver to the recipients.  

Leona, Liz's Mother-in-law, was a quilter and teacher and owned a fabric store on Long Island.  As far as Liz could remember, Leona started this top around 1985 for Liz's son, Josh.  He was Leona's first grandchild, and Liz's first son.  Leona did this all by hand, using a variety of solids for the center blocks, and then adding prints in similar colors as it, and Josh, grew.  This was a "quilt as you go" style, all hand stitched.  Basically, you sew the layers together right through the batting and backing.  The batting in this one is polyester.  I'm sure many of the fabrics are also poly blends.  

I'm also guessing as Josh grew, Leona set this aside.  Leona passed away in 2013, right before Josh's daughter, Tillie, was born.  Tillie would have been Leona's first great-granddaughter.  Back in March, Liz asked me to finish this for Tillie.  Hand sewing is not something I usually enjoy doing.  This was in 3 pieces, still, and there are still 2 more blocks.  I had to sew the one row together, while discovering tons of old pins, and then add that row to the rest of the top, by hand stitching the backing, and then the front.  Luckily, all of the quilting was already done.  It's always so difficult to match someone's stitching, and I was worried that my work would not look like Leona's, but I don't think you could tell where I added the row.  It's so different from how I work, and the fabrics I prefer, so it was interesting and a great challenge.  

This is a view of the backing.  It's been pieced, too, as Leona added rows.  I love the crayon print, and the yellow calico.   

This is the front.  The center blocks are all solids, and the outer rows have calico prints.  

After I got the last row added, I searched for a good fabric to bind the quilt.  None of my calicos worked, so I chose a red solid, to pull out the red centers of the blocks.  I added this label to the back.  

This is my first computer printed label.  I used freezer paper ironed to fabric, so I could print it.  I'm hoping the inks don't wash out.  I do plan to finish the last 2 blocks into pillow covers.  At first Liz had thought they could be added to the quilt, but I would have needed 4 blocks, or more fabrics like the ones used., but that's very difficult.  These colors are difficult to match, and calicos are not easy to find.  The few I have from the 1980s are not the same colors.  Yes, I do have fabrics that are that old.  I've been sewing much longer than that. 

I'm honored to be able to finish Leona's quilts.  I'm especially happy to finish this for Tillie, who never got to meet her great-grandmother, and will now have a gift from her.  Tillie's other great-grandmother is my Aunt Eileen, my father's sister.  

I do have one more quilt to finish for Liz, and I'm working on restoring the machine and cabinet Liz gave me.  I'm honored to know I have a part in Leona's legacy.  

Thanks for visiting.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Busy! Busy! Lots to do!

This post is a 3 for the price of one!

First, my progress on the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt with Bonnie Hunter

Grand Illusion

Clue 3 was released on Friday, and I took a little while to begin working on it.  First, I pulled more green fabrics.  I had only 3 colors, and since this block used 4, I decided to grab another.  My blocks may end up all the same, or I may have to add more greens later, as well as another black and white.  I'm pulling from my stash, though, and using some scraps.  My goal for next year, besides improving my piecing skills and free motion quilting, will be to get more organized with scraps.  Some of what I'm using in this quilt are left-overs from previous quilts.  I need to develop Bonnie's system, though. I'm finishing more quilts, and using some of my stash, but need to use the scraps and bits left over from the yardage.  Anyway, here are the photos of my machine today, and the results of the test blocks from clue 3.  I'm still working on 2 and the extra half square triangles (HST) units from clue 1, 1.  All 100 blocks of 1 are done, and I think 50 of  Step 2.  I must mention that I didn't do the 2 x 4 green, white and black units on my vintage machine.  They require pressing the strip sets before the next step, and my iron is in the basement sewing area.  I can finger-press the triangle units from Step 1 and 2 to keep assembling them on the vintage machine.   It was faster to do Unit 3 down there.  I have 110 more to go.  I need to press all the other finished units, though.

That little pile on the right are the dog ears, those little bits of triangles that need to be trimmed before a block can be assembled.  I have a thread and scrap catcher (under the pincusion) and these will go in there.  I snip into a pile and then gather them and put them in the catcher.  Although I'm sure some have slid through the seam in the cabinet.  I'll have to check under there later.  

BUT!!All this needs to be set aside for a few days, while I make a Pirate shirt for a special order, and also a cowboy shirt.  I was able to get the fabric yesterday.  
Pirate shirt is unbleached muslin.   It will have brown lacing at the neck.  This is an item I list in my Etsy store. 

The cowboy shirt will be all black, with black pearl snaps instead of buttons.  This is another special order, for a friend.  I may consider doing these for others.  I have to see, after it's done.  

AND!!! Part 3 is that I'm going to be participating in the Sock Hop blog hop in January, with Island Batiks. 

As an Island Batiks ambassador, I am so excited to participate.  I chose the collection called Down In the Boondocks.  It's a gorgeous collection of teals and browns and creams.  2 prints have sweet turtles and coral reefs, and 2 have pineapple prints.  The light teal is floral, and one cream has fronds or sea grass designs.  Here's a peak at the fabrics I'll be using.  You'll have to come back to see what I've designed, and maybe, just maybe, I'll have a give-away.  

But, since it's almost Christmas (and Happy Hanukkah tonight) I have to finish the shirts first, then some gifts, then some baking, and some cleaning, and another clue comes out on Friday, and some more baking, some decorating, some cleaning, and then some driving.  Amid all of that will be some carol singing and sewing and quilting and packing and more carols.  

Thanks for visiting! 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Sew Cal Gal's Glitter Goodness Linky

SewCal Gal's Glitter Goodness

'Tis the Season for Bling!  I love the sparkles of new fallen snow in the moonlight, and silvery and gold painted fabrics and Christmas decor.  It just makes me smile when I see something sparkle.  I'm sure you can think of things that sparkle, too.  Maybe it's the eyes of a child looking at a pile of gifts under a pretty Christmas tree, or the smile in his or her eyes when they go zooming down a snow covered hill on a sled.  One of my favorites is seeing my dog, Hazel, run and jump and play in the snow.  She will try to catch snowballs, and just gets so excited when someone plays with her.

It just may be the sparkle of lights or the moon through the icicles.  This was from my door last winter.

Want to see some quilts I've made that have glittery accents?  This first one is a design I saw online many years ago, and I collected a variety of blue fabrics with silver accents to make this quilt.

I used Superior Silver metallic thread for the quilting.   This is a quilt that I love using all winter long.  It's currently on my lap, as I type this blog post.  The sparkles certainly lighten my day.

Another quilt I recently completed is this one.  The fabrics are from Island Batiks, and the gold metallic accents are really stunning.  The pattern is Sew Radiance from Quilt In A Day, and quilting thread, again, is Superior Light Gold metallic.

This one can be found in my Etsy store.  
Hints about metallic thread!  First, use Superior.  It's really the best.  Second, use a good needle for topstitching, and go slower than usual.  Make sure you use a cone holder, if needed, and adjust your tension, and use a thread net.  More info can be found on Superior's website.  Just note that all metallic threads are a challenge, but Superior really does work the best.  It will be less of a challenge than other brands, and your quilting or embroidery will be outstanding.  

Glitter certainly adds some warmth to your home, and sparkle to your fun.  

So, if you are not a quilter, remember to add some colored sugar to your cookies, or glitter paints on glass for candle holders, or candles in your sconces.  Enjoy your sparkles!  
Thanks for visiting.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Grand Illusion Link Up

Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion Mystery by Bonnie Hunter Part 2

This is so much fun, knowing that thousands of people are creating the same quilt, but with different fabrics, all because of Bonnie Hunter and her outstanding designs, teaching, and knowledge.

I've gathered my fabrics, although I may need more pink, and have all of Step 1 and Step 2 cut out.  I have 60+ (of 100) blocks of step 1 done, and 6 of step 2 (also need 100).

Here's a few photos.  I'm doing this on my restored Singer 1954 15-91, which sits next to the window in my dining room.  I can do a few pieces in between cooking and baking, before bed, and when I have time.  I'm not in a rush.  I'll get it done, because I love these colors.
Should I blame Bonnie because I burned my hamburger bun in the toaster oven the other night?  I got so involved in piecing, I forgot until the smell of burnt bread wafted over to me.  

I'm using the directions #2 for Part 2.  The triangles are so easy to stack and cut with the EZ ruler.
My template printed well, but with my vision, I need to see where the fabric is underneath, and white tone on tone is difficult to see under white paper.  I used Glowline tape to mark where the template ended, and can see where my fabric needs to be, against that line.  

I hope everyone else is having fun with this!  However Bonnie had put these pieces together, it's guaranteed to be awesome!  And, I'm using some scraps, in addition to the yardage and FQs I pulled for this.  Some of these fabrics have been in previous quilts.  That's fun, too.  I need to do that more often.  But I'm really curious.  I wonder how many Easy Angle rulers Bonnie has in her collection, and how often she needs to replace hers.  They must get so much use!  
Thanks for visiting!