Category Archives: Recipes

Spring Equals Birthdays & Proms

May has been such a busy month! School is winding down – senior year is coming to a close for Julia. Plus we have celebrated her 18th birthday and she went to her Senior Prom. Crazy to see this girl finishing up high school because it was only a few weeks ago that I felt like such an awful mother as I left her crying on the first day of Kindergarten. Such is life, right?

A few weeks ago, I posted this desperate plea on Instagram and Facebook. Julia’s prom dress didn’t really fit well and she asked if I could fix it. This was the week before prom. Being the confident sewist, I immediately suggested we return it and quickly find another dress. But she #1 – threw away the receipt and tags and #2 – said she loved this dress and wanted to wear it. OK, I promised to do what I could. The main issue was the lining was too snug around her waist. I looked at letting it out and adding some width to the side seams. But I suspected I would end up with something bulky that wouldn’t lay flat. My brilliant daughter, who doesn’t sew, asked if I couldn’t just lift the lining up, folding it right sides together, sewing all the way around, which would make it a little wider at her ribs. Does this make sense to you? It worked like a charm and was super easy. Sort of hard to explain though.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

The next issue was the hem. It was really long and she didn’t want to be tripping over it at the dance. I was a bit leary of this task because the outer fabric was a slippery chiffon. But with the help of YouTube, it was not hard at all. The video I watched instructed me to pin it about 1/4″ longer than I wanted it to be. Press it and stitch all the way around. Then trim the excess as close as possible to the seam line. Finally, roll that stitched line to the inside, pin and press and stitch again. I was amazed by how wonky the original hem was. There was no way to straighten it so Julia and I figured if we hadn’t noticed how wavy it was before, no one else would either and I just stitched it – crooked as can be.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

Hiding under that pretty dress are black sneakers because my daughter won’t wear much else!

Following the prom, we celebrated Julia’s 18th birthday. Not sure if you remember but last year I made a cake for her 17th birthday and was not entirely successful!

This was one ugly cake!

This year Julia asked for the same yellow cake with strawberry filling and chocolate frosting. I wanted to use a cake mix again but with better results. My trusty internet sources advised adding an extra egg yolk and replacing the required water with milk. I did both of these, though I used almond milk to keep it dairy free for my husband. Also, another site suggested adding a couple of tablespoons of any pudding mix that would match the flavor of the cake. I had an old box of butterscotch pudding that likely expired in 2010 or so. I opened it and added two tablespoons and tossed the rest. Guess what? It worked wonderfully.

Such an improved version!

Julia was happy and we are hoping her wishes come true for this year!

With all of this, plus two different awards nights at school, I haven’t done tons of sewing. One thing I am working on though is quilting a top given to me by a family friend. She actually donated three finished quilts to Mercyful Quilts. Then she sent me four tops she had, asking if I would finish them and donate those as well. I don’t normally do this because it takes a bit of time which I am sorely lacking, but she was so sweet to donate the other quilts and I agreed. I know they all won’t be finished terribly soon but I am working on the first one.

This string quilt was probably made a while back. There are many fabrics that look to be circa 1980’s and it is very pretty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lie anywhere close to flat. I don’t think these string blocks were pieced with any sort of foundation paper or fabric, making them quite stretchy. I pressed it and starched it before pin basting. While pin basting, I took little tucks all over the place and hand stitched them which really helped. When I get to those bits, I quilt heavily over them so they won’t come apart. I am just using a loopy meander which is quite forgiving when I come to a section that is wavy. After binding and washing this it will, hopefully, crinkle up and be very cozy.

The backing is from the sale section in my shop. It is an Oval Elements piece from Art Gallery Fabric. Fabric for the binding has yet to be selected though. I am just about out of thread (which is silly since I am quilting it with white thread) so I won’t get too much farther on this today. I am counting this as my one project for Hands 2 Help and it should be finished early next week.

The quilts continue to arrive for Mercy Hospital and the Mercyful Quilts drive. The Hands 2 Help event at Confessions of a Fabric Addict has been amazing. I cannot even believe the number of quilts made for all of these deserving organizations . Just so inspiring. Some quilters have made 4 or 5 quilts – some even more than that. I have this stack and another box full ready for pick up. Judging by the emails I have received and blog posts I am reading, there are many more on the way. Thank you to all of you generous quilters!!

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend. In the US, Monday is Memorial Day which many mark as the beginning of summer. We have had rainy, gloomy weather all week so it sure doesn’t feel summery here!

Vermont Sewing Continues

Time has flown by and I will be heading home on Wednesday. When I was getting ready to come out here I thought three weeks sounded like such a long time but yikes, it has gone by quickly!! We quickly settled into a rhythm and it has been wonderful

H and I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She has a new stool to stand on so she can ‘help’ cook and she just loves it. She crawls in and out constantly and has learned to drag it from counter to counter to the sink and back. Washing dishes, stirring and mixing, so many projects. Luckily she and I enjoy baking and we have made SOOO many things. Cookies, focaccia bread, muffins – I have probably put on a couple of pounds during this trip.

Maple Pecan Scones

Yesterday we made these Maple Pecan Scones. She had so much fun and was covered in flour by the end of this round of baking. They are delicious and if you want to try them, here is a link to the recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. I cut them fairly small so she wouldn’t have a huge serving. Actually I put half of them in the freezer so they can have them again after I leave.

As for sewing, I have done quite a bit! I made a table runner for my daughter in law. When I was at Jo-Ann’s, they had the Home Decor fabrics on sale and I picked up this floral print. It is a nice weight and has a linen like texture.

I also grabbed a celery green Kona solid (I don’t know what the real name is – I didn’t check the bolt.) This project took no time at all to make. I cut a rectangle (I think it was 14″ x 50″) and stitched the front and back, right sides together. Once I turned it right side out, I ran two lines of topstitching around the perimeter and called it good. It looks great on their dining room table. However, I removed it after taking the photo so we wouldn’t spill on it before my DIL even gets home!

Another project was to make a super hero cape for my grand daughter. Again, this was a very simple project. I bought a 1/2 yard of red satin fabric at Jo-Ann’s and folded it in 1/2, right sides together. I stitched around two sides and turned it right side out. With the folded side and the two stitched sides, it was finished on three sides of the square. After pressing it (on super low heat) I folded the raw edges to the inside and stitched two seams, one at the top edge and one about 2 inches lower. This left an opening at each side to thread the cord through.

My grand daughter wasn’t thrilled with this. She doesn’t seem to care one way or another about it. However, I suspect she will enjoy it at some point. It is silky and shiny and will catch her eye when she is in the mood for playing dress up.

I have just a few more days with her so I am keeping her home from day care this week. She can go at the end of the week after I leave. Not sure what we will do with our last couple of days but I know it will be fun.

Linking up with the usual parties. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Busy Week

I am popping in to say hello!  It is a really busy time around here.  Julia is quite independent as far as taking care of Olive but I enjoy participating a bit with the fair process.  Over the weekend Julia and Ray had to get the pen ready at the fairgrounds.  Julia is showing “independent” this year which means she isn’t a part of a 4-H group or an FFA program.  The academically rigorous high school she goes to makes it really difficult to participate in those other programs. Since she worked with 4-H last year, we talked to her leader and she was positive Julia could handle this as an independent.

However this means it was up to her and Ray to get water piped into Olive’s pen.

Also, she had to make her own decorations.  For this, she made a poster with a cute 8×10 picture of her and Olive. I made a bunting using pig fabric that Julia found on-line.  The pen looks cute.

Olive moved in on Monday morning.  She didn’t enjoy the eight mile ride to the fairgrounds and ended up cutting her snout on something in the trailer.  Poor girl.  Julia washed the cut and put betadine on it.  She was told to use Desitin ointment to help it heal and it looks much better even two days later.

Today was the first day of the county fair. I think this picture of this cute little guy visiting with Olive is just adorable.  So many kiddos don’t have an opportunity to see farm animals up close and personal.  Julia was hanging out with Olive for several hours this afternoon answering questions and helping children pet her.  Fortunately Olive is so social and she loves to be handled. Makes it more fun for the kids that want to touch her.

Tomorrow is a big day for Julia.  She will compete in two areas with Olive.  One is called Market Class.  This competition judges the animal’s structure and development.   Doing well  here means the animal’s owner chose well when buying the piglet and was feeding her correctly and exercising her to achieve good muscle structure.  The second competition is Showmanship.  Here is where all of those walks that Julia did with Olive will pay off.  Olive is fairly good about responding to Julia.  It is anyone’s guess though because Olive and Julia have been working together in a familiar environment without the chaos of lots of pigs being in one show ring.  Hopefully Olive will respond to Julia.  Sometimes a pig will just go bonkers and run around trying to play with the other animals.  Other times a pig will become agitated and can be snarly with other animals out of fear.  Olive won’t do this – she is so sociable.  However, running around and trying to play?  Yep, that one could happen.  🙂

On another subject, our vegetable garden is just going crazy and we are inundated with tomatoes and cucumbers.  Tonight for dinner I am making spaghetti.  I wanted to make a meat sauce with the billion tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter.  To do this, I processed the smaller tomatoes (including quite a few cherry tomatoes) in the food processor. I also wanted some big chunky pieces of tomato in the sauce. But that would mean peeling some tomatoes or I would end up with big pieces of tomato skin floating in the sauce.

I didn’t feel like doing the whole deal where you dip tomatoes in boiling water and then ice water so the skins slip off.  Instead I cheated and it worked great!! Once I had the sauce mostly there, I put several washed, whole tomatoes right on top of the sauce and covered the pot.  I left the tomatoes to steam for a few minutes.  Using tongs, I took the tomatoes out and put them on a plate to cool a bit.  The skins slipped right off!  Hurray.

I cut them into chunks and put them in the sauce.  It smells so yummy in the kitchen right now.  Dinner is almost ready!

I am working on a cute dress for my grand daughter this week.  I will share it soon as I can.  Tomorrow I will be at the fair with Julia all day and then I am working a shift in the quilt exhibit.  I’ll let you know how Olive does.  Cross your fingers for Julia!!

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey Quilt Progress

Happy first day of Autumn! I love this time of year and the change of season that is happening these days.

This week I took a look at the jersey quilt I am making for my nephew and decided the quilt top wasn’t quite large enough for this very tall guy.  I added 3 1/2 inch borders to all sides to enlarge it.

There were some smaller emblems that had been on the sleeves of a few jerseys and it seemed like a good place to use them.

I put the American flag on two corners.  (Number 50 was his father’s number when he played football for Stanford. I wonder if Sam requested the number, not too likely it was a coincidence, right?)

On the other two corners I used these bear paw prints. His high school mascot was the Bruins. This one is a funny coincidence because the high school mascot for my boys here in California, several  states away, was also the Bruins.

Now the quilt top measures about 56″ by 76″ which will be a bit better for this guy.

Besides adding to the quilt top, I also pieced the backing.  Wanting to use up a few more jersey logos, I made a strip with the last three.

The strip was the inserted into a piece of the light gray polka-dotted wide back that I used for piecing the front. I am hoping to reserve some time on a long arm machine next week so I can quilt this.  It will present a few challenges. One is the difference between the jersey blocks and the cotton pieces. There is some wave to it. Also, this is the first time I will have a pieced back on the frame. I need to make sure it is loaded nice and straight so it doesn’t come out slanted when it is quilted together. I am sure Kendra, the assistant at the shop, will help me with this. Finally, I need to better understand the order of things when quilting a project on a long arm. Once loaded on the frame, I want to do a simple all over pattern on the body of the quilt and then quilt something different on the borders. Do I do the center first and then roll it back to the top and do the borders? That seems cumbersome but I am not sure how else to do this without tons of stops and starts on the borders? I would love to hear hear how you handle this. Actually, I could easily quilt the main part and then do the borders at home on my machine. Options, options. Leave a comment if you have input on this–there is always something to learn.

I also spent time in the kitchen using up the bounty of tomatoes we are picking in the garden right now. I posted on Instagram that I have been making tomato jam.  I thought I would publish a link to the recipe I use from the Use Real Butter website. (Don’t you love that blog name?)  I have been making this for several years now.   It is a great mix of sweet and tangy that is great on burgers as well as spread with Brie on slices of baguette.  The combination of tomatoes, sugar, tart green apple, onion, and vinegar is really yummy.

When I made this batch I reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup and didn’t notice any difference. It is always good to be conservative with sugar if possible. Once it is all mixed up, I just let it simmer without a lid on the pot for a couple of hours. The pot needs to be watched and stirred often or the bottom will scorch. (n one batch I got sucked into blog reading and burnt the bottom. It wasn’t a total loss because I could just skim the top off and keep that. Luckily it didn’t taste scorched. But the yield was certainly smaller.

Once it cooks down, it can be canned in jars and processed in a water bath. Or, do as I did, and put it is small containers, label them, and freeze it. Much simpler!

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for a 26 piece bundle of Island Batik.  Click here to enter.  Hope you all have something fun planned for the weekend.  My cousin is out here visiting (from Louisiana) and I am looking forward to spending time with her. Happy Friday!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just picked the last of my mums and have enough for the table. The flowers are now finished until the rhodies and azaleas come to life in about February. We are getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Today is a baking day. Thanksgiving will be up at my mom and dad’s home this year. Two of my five sisters, their kids and grandkids are coming to celebrate. I love this holiday. It is probably my favorite of all of them. It is a day to enjoy family, eat wonderful food and visit, visit, visit! What better way to enjoy a holiday! I have been assigned dessert so Julia and I are making two kinds of fudge and a Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake (a layered deal that looks amazing.) I am also bringing the Cranberry Sauce and have a recipe that I love making each year. It is very simple.  Just in case you are looking for something new to try (could be for Thanksgiving or Christmas), here is the recipe. (I have had this clipping from a Bon Appetit magazine of years ago.)

Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel

  • 1 3/4 c red Zinfandel (or any rather sweet red wine)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 large strip of orange peel
  • 1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients except cranberries in medium saucepan. Brting to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1 3/4 cups, about 10 minutes. Strain syrup into larger saucepan. Add cranberries to syrup and cook over medium heat until berries burst and sauce slightly thickens, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead. Keep refrigerated.) This is soooo yummy plus your house smells delicious when it is cooking!

 

I have so much to be thankful for. All the simple things – my husband, kids and my amazing family, a home that I love in a community that I love, good health, good friends and, yes…. two sewing machines!! Not only that, I am also thankful for this quilting community that I so enjoy. 🙂 I am grateful! I hope all of you are feeling as fortunate. It feels good to remember how very much we have to be thankful for.

As far as sewing goes, this week was not entirely productive. We were gone last weekend and with the holiday, this is a short week. Also, there’s some procrasination going on here. I have not one or two, but three quilt tops that are finished and ready for quilting. I have to be in the mood for quilting – it takes a lot of focus for me. Probably because I don’t have tons of experience so it doesn’t just come automatically to me. Anyway, I haven’t been in the mood.

In the interest of avoiding all the quilting that needs to be done, I decided to make some drawstring bags to use for Christmas wrap. This will avoid some of the huge amount of paper waste that comes with Christmas morning. I can put them away and use them year on year.

I have a drawer full of Christmas fabric. All sorts and sizes of holiday scraps. I pulled out anything that was of decent size, ironed and squared them up. Sewing them into drawstring bags took no time at all. (If you haven’t made anything like this, there is a quick tutorial on www.diaryofaquilter.com. Amy Smart does it again!)

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Aren’t these cute? Fun to use up these scraps and a great way to put off quilting the three quilts that are staring me down.

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Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe holiday.

Linking to: Sew Cute Tuesday and Let’s Bee Social. As always, links to these sites are located at the top of the page, under Link Ups.