Sunday, October 20, 2013

Quilting Queue July 2013

I had great plans this summer. All the BOMs I had started in February/March were going to be caught up so when school started in September I'd have my momentum going and would be able to sail through to Christmas break.  


My daughter had a baby. 
I became a Grandma, with all the rights and privileges awarded that esteemed office. 

Miss Penelope Riese Vaughn was born on July 21, 2013. 

I spent the week before and many weeks after just staring off into space. I guess, if you read my last post, you saw I was attributing the staring to being some step in the creative process, and I'd like to think some of it was just allowing my brain to churn out some direction to take with that cute kitty quilt I made. But frankly? A lot of time was spend reeling from a kind of paradigm/tectonic plate shift - a shift in the universe that only I was aware of. 

The English language has one word for love, but we all know there are many meanings for love. I love Utz Kettle-cooked Potato Chips, and I love my husband. I love my children and I love my job.  But I don't love them in all the same way.  Then Miss Penny arrived on the scene and folks - holy cow - there is yet aNOTHer kind of love.  

And this flavor of love also extends to my daughter, Adrienne, and son-in-law, Jeremy, now parents themselves. 

The big question on everyone's mind leading up to her birth was '
what kind of quilt am I going to make her???'  
I love 'I Spy' quilts for little ones.  Jeremy is a big Star Trek fan and I ran across some Star Trek fabric months ago and snatched it up, knowing I was going to use it for this baby.  I test drove the pattern I wanted to use with just the Star Trek figures.

This piece is only about 12x12". To make a whole crib sized quilt out of this size of figures would have been visually numbing.  So I expanded the height of the strips in order to make bigger 'mouse holes'.  (That's what I think they look like!)

I am pleased with how it turned out.  Do you see Grandpa with his tuba???  I had it hanging in my office for a week and got a lot of vocabulary out of my students, so I know it works!

And as you can see, Miss Penny has already figured out how to use it!

Meowing in the Rain

I participated in my first ever challenge this past summer.
Our awesome, new quilt shop, The Crazy Cousin, presented a challenge to the customers based on the book: 

The purpose here is to take a block that has been sitting in great-auntie's hope chest waiting to be turned into a quilt, and re-purposing it.  We were each given this block and were to derive inspiration from the block and make a wall hanging-sized quilt from it.  Rhonda, our shop-keeper, told us ours needed to be 24x24"

I had this block loitering on my sewing table for a few months.

I think I received the block in April, and if you remember, April was my bluest month - the month leading up to taking Dominique to the convent.  The only thing I was able to do in April was to sketch and make my quilt guild name tag and and I sketched a few options for this block.  My name tag ended up being fabulous, so I figured I ought to stick with my inspiration for this block as well.  I came up with two scenarios: an umbrella or a bird bath.  I really wanted to incorporate a cat or two in my scene somewhere.

I've never 'designed' anything like this before and was a little surprised at myself when I realized - duh
that had to come up with a background! I decided to use some of my Sue Spargo inspiration. She uses a lot of muted background: tone on tone, mixing fibers, which makes her Dancing Birds take the focus.  She has had us use linens on the wools which the more I thought about linen, the more I liked the loose 'watery' effect it has.  But I didn't really want to spend a ton of money on yardages of linen if I ended up not using it. So I hit a thrift store and bought four linen blazers of varying neutral shades and weave for $2.00 each.  Can't beat that!

I then used the lining from the blazer to give the scene a horizon and to act as the 'puddle' the cats were sitting in. I liked how the shininess of the nylon looked 'wet'.  I auditioned a few different borders, and up to this minute was planning on making the kitties out of wool. I really wanted to show off some of my fabulous Sue Spargo wool and stitching skills.

I ended up choosing the border on the left, just the green and blue 'bursts'. I began auditioning different wools to make the cats out of and nothing was popping.  At all.  It was very boring in fact.  I threw down some blue and green cotton and LOVED how it all came together. So now I was looking at needle-turn applique for the umbrella as well as the cats.  Oh well.

The pattern for the cats was really probably my biggest hurdle. I do not draw well.  At all.  For months I sketched cats, google-imaged cats, sought out cartoon cats. Nothing was inspiring me.  Then I noticed one day there was a drawing that was always in my way.

Gracie had drawn this a year or so ago. It was literally, like I said, always in my way. I'd just not managed to 'file' it away. I stopped and looked at the simple lines - I can applique this!  I traced it, blew it up, reversed it and voila! Two awesome cats!

Well. One awesome cat and one awesome cat helper...

Here we are! Two awesome cats, tails wrapped around the umbrella pole.

I quilted the background to look like rain pinging off the umbrella and the ground.  Quilted the puddle to look like they were sitting in the water.  I used my Sue Spargo threads to outline the cats and the umbrella - a little wool to do their eyes and collars.  A few buttons were added and here they are!

This was on display at Rhonda's shop for the last two months.  Customers were invited to vote for their favorite.  I did not win, but the competition was quite amazing.

I enjoyed the creative process, but boy does it take a while! My biggest obstacle is to stop second guessing myself! How many hours did I spend just staring? 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

CSA July 10, 17 and 24

July 10

1 dozen eggs
2 large bags of tomatoes
14 ears of corn
2 quarts of peaches
3 pounds of string beans
1 1/2 pound bag red potatoes
1 1/2 pound bag of yukon gold potatoes
2 egg plants
1 bag sweet peppers

I was out of town when this share arrived.  My kids shared a few things they made with the items:  

Toad in the Holes with sliced tomato from Adrienne and 

Skillet Surprise from Anne Marie

July 17

1/2 dozen eggs

2 large bags of tomatoes
14 ears of corn
2 bulbs of garlic
2 quarts of peaches
4 green peppers

 A yummy marinated corn salad

More eggs and tomatoes, one of my favorite combinations!

The kimchi I made in June was ready to eat - 
a little on the salty side but it didn't slow anyone down!

This was the summer for peaches - and they were soooo good!
My favorite breakfast was plain or vanilla greek yogurt with a sliced peach.

July 24

1/2 dozen eggs

1 quart of okra
1 eggplant
1 pepper
2 watermelons
1 heirloom cantaloupe
3 quarts of peaches
4 pints of grape tomatoes
1 bushel of corn
2 containers of berries
1 bag of italian peppers

Okra was not anything I'd ever eaten before. All I'd ever heard was a critical 
 'Ew yuck - those are so slimey!'
So what does one do with a potentially unpalatable food item?
We all loved it!  I was recently told I should skewer them, then throw them on the grill with my favorite treatment: olive oil/salt/pepper.  Next year...

And these melons?  Amazing!

This is as far as my summer CSA attention span lasted.  I became a Grandma on the 21st  of July and my motivation for many things dropped out of sight.  Oh - we ate! We continued to try new recipes! But the stamina to maintain the blog was not a priority.  

I did sign up for Snead's CSA again next year. We'll see if I am interested in throwing out my grain of salt...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CSA July 3

1/2 dozen eggs
1 1/2 pints of raspberries
3 lb bags new potatoes
3 lbs of string beans
14 ears of corn
2 bunches of basil
1 bag of tomatoes

This was a very manageable amount of vegetables, and they pretty much fit in with our 4th of July menu.  I made the Creamy Dijon Dill Potato Salad I had made a couple weeks ago.  I also did a repeat of the Green Beans, Spuds and Bacon that we had the previous week - you can NEVER have too much bacon.

Mike wanted to boil the corn this time, which heated up the kitchen, so we just turned the fan up a notch. The corn was absolutely amazing. So sweet and juicy!

We served burgers with our veggies, topping them with a yummy Havarti chive and mustard seed cheese I found at Wegmans.

We also opened up the Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles that Joe made last month. They were quite yummy - so much so that two of his sisters snagged jars to take home with them!

Monday, July 1, 2013

CSA June 26

3 pounds of green beans
1/2 dozen eggs
3 pounds of potatoes
2 bunches of green onions
2 bunches of beets
2 bunches of swiss chard
14 ears of bicolor corn(white and yellow on the same cob)
1 head of broccoli
1/2 pint of raspberries
1 pint of blackberries
1 bag of tomatoes

This week was a feeding frenzy without photos!  

Anne Marie and her fiance came to dinner on Thursday, where I served grilled pork chops and a plethora of CSA delights.  But we ate them all and didn't think to take any pictures!  

  • I served beets, boiled, peeled, sliced with buttersaltandpepper. 
  • I served the corn on the cob - I tried the microwave method: put the corn in the microwave husk and all, no soaking, three minutes per ear.  Then you chop the stem end off and the ear is supposed to slip out - none of mine did, but they did peel easily and the silk came off easily too.  Maybe because we were peeling them from the bottom?  Regardless, they were still tasty.  Not quite as good as boiled or grilled, but in a pinch I know I can nuke!
  • I also made The. Best. Green. Beans:  I used two of the onions, the red spuds and half of the beans in this dish.  In fact, it might be the green beans' fault that no pictures were taken...
  • We ate the broccoli with grilled hot dogs one night.  Chopped up one of the onions to sprinkle on the dogs.

Last night we had family dinner - all were here but Nique, who is in CT.  I used the tomatoes to make a caprese.  I used the Swiss chard in a stuffed shells dish that was a big hit!  Like my lasagna, the shells were not of a recipe -  I just kinda wing these things.  I can tell you I used feta, mild Italian sausage and the chard in the stuffing - threw in a little dried oregano and basil. Stuffed them, laid them in a slathering of jarred sketti sauce and covered with more, then topped with mozzarella.  Heated in a 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes.

My son in law Jeremy, asked me to make sure I don't lose this recipe...  Now if it was just written down somewhere...  :-)

Quilting Queue Update May through June

 There were no snow days in May.

I had a terrible time catching up on my self-imposed schedule without those wonderful pockets of unexpected time.  I did manage to catch up on two of the five (six?) BOMs, and I participated in a Quilt Along, which made me actually finish a project. July has the potential of catching all the way up, but we are taking a short vacation AND expanding our family, so I may be sidetracked!

Our oldest, Adrienne and her husband Jeremy are expecting our first grandchild July 18, so a baby shower was in order. And true to the Crafty Paquette image, we had to produce something clever, so all the guests decorated onesies!  There was a choice of fussy cutting fabric and using fusible web (which I later stitched down the edges) or we had fabric paint for those who were way more crafty inclined.  (Guess which one I made...)  ;-)

I love this picture: Elaine Paquette (my mother-in-law), Doreen Vaughn (Adrienne's mother-in-law), Adrienne, me, Margy Spradling (my mom).  Or as Jeremy labeled the picture: Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother.

I was able to keep up with the Sue Spargo Birdies BOM.  The lavender set came in May, the eggplant set came in June.                                                     I am now officially halfway through these birdies - there are 30 in all.                           I'm currently prepping July's birdies to take on vacation, since I can't take my sewing machine...              

The stitching adds so many great textures to these pieces.  I have to look at these with my fingers as well as my eyes.

The only other BOM I was able to catch up on was the Quilt As You Go (QAYG) which can be found at this website:

These two above were Lesson #3.

These two above were Lesson #4 which involved English Paper Piecing.  I've already mastered the art of the hexagon with a Grandmother's Flower Garden I've been working on for the last couple of years or so.  This lesson introduced using interfacing instead of cardstock as the base for the shapes.  The idea behind the interfacing is that you leave it in, so I was willing to give it a try.  For me, I've decided I prefer using the cardstock, because I had a hard time 'feeling' the edge of the interfacing as I was basting it, so I didn't feel my shapes were as precise as they could have been.  The red block - I hated - I had so much mental blockage over the frustration of the piecing that I kept putting off working on it and wasn't sure I would even use it.  But I made myself do it and I'm very pleased at how well it turned out! Not quite ready to say it is my favorite block, but it is ranked fairly high.

These two above are from lesson #5 and used Foundation Paper Piecing as it's lesson.  The swirl was a little tricky and I ended up with some very narrow seams that my quilting had to fix, but it should survive the washing machine!

The hostess for the blog that I follow for the QAYG blocks above, had a quilt and pattern "RetroRubies" published in the Modern Patchwork magazine. She offered up a Quilt Along (QAL) activity using the pattern.  (Here is the link to the QAL: )The timeline for a QAL is much shorter - we had deadlines every couple of weeks rather than doing a block or two a month.  My BIGGEST obstacle was choosing the darn fabrics!  I knew I wanted a print for the background, it was just a matter of making a decision!  Argh! Why is that so hard!

I found the green print at a local shop that hosted our FXBGMQG meeting in May, and in June I found a related print but in aqua to use for the back.

Months ago I registered for Leah Day's Free Motion Fillers Vol. 1 class on, only to discover after I watched the intro that I needed to stop and make a quilt top to use as a sampler to practice all the different quilting patterns.  About the time I finished making these blocks and was thinking about how to quilt this, it occurred to me I could use THIS as the sampler for Leah's class!  

 So you can see...
 ...each block... quilted differently!  

I love it when I can get two projects knocked out in one!

The materials for this little guy were given as a 'party favor' for a 'Quilt-In' my favorite quilt shop hosted in May. 

 I love hexis, and was just going to put this aside and work on it later, not at the Quilt-In, but my bff Kris, who came to the Quilt-In with me, had never done hexis so I gave her a quick tutorial.  In no time I had my little flower all stitched together and there it sat. Until a couple of weeks ago I knocked this ditty out.  I have a square vase that sits on the corner of my cutting table collecting scraps that wobbles noisily. This fits under it perfectly and prettily (rather than the scraps of batting I had shoved under it) and keeps it quiet!  

The better news though is that not only is Kris hooked on hexis, she got her 14 year old daughter hooked on them as well!  

The last thing I want to share with you is my newest tool, my most awesome 

 After a bit of web surfing and bouncing around ideas, I decided to turn one of our six foot folding tables into a dedicated ironing table.  I bought four and a half yards of felt and stapled two layers of the felt onto the table. Then I took some yardage from my stash and stitched it to the felt on the bottom of the table.  I opted to stitch it instead of staple it because I figure I will need to replace the covering at some point and I didn't want to be messing with the staples.  My husband was a huge help with this, helping me make sure the materials were all tight.  It was done just in time to work on the QAL top that was being put together.  Pressing the quilt top and the yards of binding was WONderful!

I have it up on bed risers so it sits waist high.  

What more could a quilter ask for?