Monday, April 13, 2015

Random Sandwich

I am working on the Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt, and it is coming together nicely on the design wall.  I have two more rows to add, plus borders.

Fellow quilter Marei is making one too.  It was her idea, in fact, that we pick a free Bonnie Hunter pattern that neither of us had made yet and make it simultaneously.  I happened to have a few on my bucket list and thought it was a great idea!  Marei doesn't have a blog, but perhaps she will upload some progress pics to her Flickr page at some point (hint-hint). I have seen a sneak peak of her blocks and they are awesome!

These blocks are so fun and quick to make.  I am using all stash and scraps for this quilt.  Some of the light fabrics I'd pulled turned out to be a little too busy, though, so I've had to cull a few and get creative with the remainder, including:
  • a vintage cotton curtain found at a flea market a couple years ago
  • a feed sack fabric, still in the shape of a sack until I cut it apart for this project
  • two thrifted men's shirts
  • a quilting cotton that was a little too yellowish-brown a print on its right side, so I flipped it wrong side out.
She's Back
Mama Mallard has come back this year to nest in the same place in the hosta bed on the north side of the house. She's made herself comfortable among last year's leaves.

Doesn't she look all cosy and camouflaged?  She is very unflappable, that girl.  I did rake the bed out around her this weekend and she didn't budge, just kept a beady eye on me.  I talked to her in soft tones as I raked, not that she really cared.

She's kind of gimpy this year.  I think whatever attacked her eggs last year may have gotten her as well.  She was seen limping around the yard with the drake on her heels before she got on the nest and parked it.  Once the hen starts sitting, she shoos the drake away.  He flies off elsewhere to strut, preen, drink his fill of pond scum, and chase more tail.  At least that's my assumption.  What happens in Duck Vegas stays in Duck Vegas.

Conspiracy Theory
Three strikes and I'm out of underwear.  Let me explain.

I needed new undies, so I headed to Kohl's to buy the brand/style I like.  Wouldn't you know, they didn't have the same ones anymore.  So I bought something similar, same size.  Let's call that size X, where X represents a digit I will not disclose.  Sure, I'll talk publicly about my underwear, but the numeric value assigned to said underwear shall not be named.  Boundaries, y'all.

I have worn X for years.  I've worn X when I weighed less and I've worn X when I weighed more.  X was/is my size.  Theoretically.

When I got home with X size undies, I tried them on, as you do.  They were too tight.  Okay, maybe this style ran smaller.  Strike one.

Went to Penney's and bought a Warner's brand, very comfy looking, similar style, seemingly all the right ingredients to a good pair of knickers.  Make that three pair, because there was a buy two get one free deal.  Swiped my card, took them home, tried them on.  Strike two.

A couple weeks pass, allowing time for my frustration level to decrease, and this time I'm at Walmart looking at the display of drawers.  So pretty.  So inexpensive, comparatively speaking.  And what's this?  "The Best Fitting Panty in the World."  Size X.  Sold!

You guessed it:  Strike three.

I am convinced the Universe has conspired to have me face facts:  Thy bum is bigger.  No longer X but [insert audible gasp] Y, where Y is that size that careens dangerously down the granny panty aisle.

Darn you, Universe.  I bet you go commando.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Start

I'm not so much in a finishing mood lately, it would appear.  Rather I seem to be nudging each project along bit by bit.  Kicking the can down the road with a top here, a backing there, a couple of quilts basted.  Things will all come together in the end, but right now it's kind of like herding turtles.

Now I've started piecing a Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt.  I had a little help with that this weekend when my daughter came to visit.

She got acquainted with Brother Everett by sewing a few blocks. 

She had the idea to group by colors on the design wall, which wasn't something that had occurred to me.



Today I made a few more blocks and shifted some of the blocks on the design wall, alternating them.  It's a subtle change while still keeping the flow by color. 

(Oops, I have one turned wrong on the lower right side.)

So we'll see how things continue to go, but I'm liking it so far!

Tonight I'll be rooting for Wisconsin in the NCAA championship game against Duke.  Go Badgers!

And speaking of the Badger State, I am enjoying the music of a new band from Milwaukee, Vinyl Theatre.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Mopped and Basted

Norm mopped the kitchen floor this morning, so you know what that meant?

I could baste a quilt!

And so I did.

I listened to an audiobook while I scrambled around on the floor, taping and smoothing, and poking in my pins. This is a Hands2Help donation quilt, by the way.

I'm on the second to the last in the eight-book Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone, and I'm maybe two-thirds of the way through the book.  Hard to tell with Audible, or at least I don't pay particular attention to how far along I am.

It's been kind of like the story that never ends, partly because I'm a take-my-sweet-time kind of reader/listener (quilter/blogger) with a tendency to distract myself on other things.  Each audiobook is well over 40 hours of narration (actually, two of them were over 55 hours), but that's okay with me because I'm enjoying the ride.  Thanks, Sarah, for giving me the heads up on Outlander a couple years ago!

I binge-watched (twice, in fact) the first eight episodes, which came out on Blu-ray on March 6.  The next season starts tomorrow night on Starz, but since we don't get the Starz channel, I'll have to wait a few months until those episodes come out on DVD/Blu-ray to get my next fix.  Meanwhile, I'll finish the book series.

(Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie)
I adore all the actors/characters in the TV series.  It is so very well done.  Jamie, Claire, Frank/Jack Randall, Dougal, Colum, etc.—all seem perfectly cast.  Tobias Menzies, who plays dual roles, is every bit as wonderful playing the forlorn Frank as he is the villainous Black Jack Randall. 

(Tobias Menzies as Jack Randall)
And Jamie, played by Sam Heughan, is totally swoon-worthy.  It's like he walked right off the pages of the novel.

The scenery is wonderful, the costumes divine.  So you could say that's been a slight distraction.

Back to reality, though.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flimsy

Guess I better blow the dust off the blog and show you this flimsy I finished recently.

This is one of two 16-patch and X-block quilts I've worked on in the past couple months, often known as a "Goodnight Irene" pattern.  This one used a scrappy bundle of beautiful hand-dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh.

It's about 65 inches square, a nice size for a lap quilt or throw.  I still need to come up with a backing for it.

The other day, I started to pull fabrics for a Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt, a Bonnie Hunter free pattern I've had my eye on making ever since forever, it seems.

You need lights and darks for this quilt.  My light stash is pretty sketchy.  I really dug to the bottom of the bins to come up with what I have here, and I'm on the fence about more than a few of them.  There are two vintage fabrics in the light stack, including a feed sack.  Quite the eclectic group—this ought to be interesting!

I made a sample from one of the light/dark combinations.  Truly used scraps here, just had enough to squeak out a 8.5-inch square from each piece.  

In a recent post at Quiltville, Bonnie talked about not pressing the seams until you had all the blocks made and laid out and ready to sew into rows.  That way you can align and butt the seams the direction they need to go.  Makes sense and I get it—but it's likely to drive me nuts.  (FYI, the sample block seams are pressed.)

There are a lot of things I have no problem procrastinating on, but pressing blocks isn't one of them!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cookie Recipe

I've been asked about the recipe for the big chunky peanut butter chocolate chip cookie I made on Pi Day.  Here it is!
This recipe is gluten-free.  It is also sweet but not overly so.  If you want a little bit sweeter cookie, feel free to add another tablespoon of sugar to the dough or sprinkle it over the top of the cookie before baking.  
(Cookie dough before baking)
This recipe makes one 10-inch cookie.  Alternatively, you could just spoon the dough out the way you usually do for cookies, in which case it makes about a dozen.  If you do that, you may want to lightly press down the top of each cookie before baking using the flat bottom of a glass.  



CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Super Chunk)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Nativas Natural Raw Cacao Powder)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (add 1 T. more, if you like a sweeter cookie)
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, helps texture in gluten-free baking)
1 egg
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Dump all ingredients except the chocolate chips into a medium bowl and mix by hand with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Plop the dough onto the center of the parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Using a spatula, shape cookie dough into approximately a 10-inch circle on the parchment paper lined baking sheet, flattening to about 1/4-inch.  Lightly score into 8 wedges with flat edge of knife.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before cutting along score lines.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fire and Pi

We went from zero to sixty degrees in the space of a week here in southeastern Wisconsin.  If I could summarize what that feels like to get so springlike, so fast, in a part of the country where winter can and does tend to hang around like the smell of a ripe Limburger, well, there aren't enough exclamation marks to capture our collective joy.  And being a fairly stoic lot, we don't like to lose our minds in public like that, Packer or Badger games notwithstanding.

So we do things like crack a couple windows, wash the salt off the car, break out the Harley, and smile more. 

Norm and I went for a walk yesterday on a favorite nature trail along the northern edge of the marsh, as I've blogged about several times in the past five years.  (I know, right?  Five years doing this blogging thing, whodathunk?)

It's not lush and colorful in the early spring, and the wildlife is fairly sparse yet, although we heard some returning geese and sand hill cranes overhead.  

Gulls were congregating on the remaining ice in this pond.

But the main visual attraction on this day turned out to be a prescribed burn just getting underway as we started our walk.  

First one fire, then two, three...

Pretty soon, a whole line was ignited.  It was pretty impressive.

The wind was blowing away from the nature trail, so there was no risk of anything coming our way.  We could not even smell it.

I was enjoying the various gradients of gray contained in the ever-changing billows of smoke superimposed on a blue sky. 

If you think of hand-dyed fabric when you watch a brush fire...you might be a quilter!

Back home, I was feeling a little peckish, and remembering it was Pi Day, I shaped my cookie dough batter into one big, pie-shaped cookie.  This was a chunky peanut butter chocolate chip recipe, gluten-free and easy as, well, pie.

I scored it into wedges with the dull edge of a knife before baking.  After it came out of the oven but was still warm, I cut it all the way through with the edge of the spatula. Yum!

Did you celebrate the special, once-a-century PI Day yesterday, with pie or otherwise?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Little Things

I just Googled "how to remove a deep sliver."  Do you say sliver or splinter?  Google wanted to autocomplete the search with the word splinter, which had me wondering whether sliver was maybe a regional thing.  You know, like we Wisconsinites have our bubblers while the rest of the world has drinking fountains or water fountains.  To me, water fountains are those impressive things outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas, meant to take your mind off things like the sliver in your right middle finger.

Anyway, I'm going to try the Epsom salts and Band-aid poultice approach per Dr. Google.  I did self-surgery this morning with a sewing needle and thought I got all of it, but now I see there is still a small piece deeply embedded, further than I care to go poking around with sharp implements using my non-dominant hand.

A few days ago, however, utilizing my sewing supplies for their intended purposes, I finished a little quilt top.  Since I had leftover 2-1/2 inch strips from the last 16-patch quilt, I sewed them together in sets of three intending to make a scrappy rail fence quilt.

And it was okay.  I like random and all, but something about this first layout (below) had my brain working too hard to make sense of things or something.  I shared the in-progress photo with fellow quilter Marei, who offered a suggestion.  

So I tried her idea, liked it, let it sit overnight to marinate, and then sewed it together the next day.

I really like the streak of lightning effect with the red fabric. The rest of it is still random enough, although I did indulge in a little OCD-like orientation of all the bright turquoise strips to the horizontal and the darker teals vertical, which was totally unnecessary but made me happy.

This will either become part of the backing for the 16-patch, or a baby quilt on its own.  Haven't made up my mind quite yet.

The doorbell rang yesterday with my Amazon order of pearl cotton via the mail lady.  The colors were so pretty, I piled them all in the vintage strainer (found at Goodwill last weekend).  

How's that for an Easter basket?  It's Marshmallow Peep approved!