Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's Tuesday...

Feels like a Monday to me, how about you?  Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. 

I started what may be a baby quilt on Saturday.  I am told the mother-to-be does not like pink.  She is expecting a baby girl. 

As you can see, I am doing what I can to help her overcome this.  ;)

We celebrated my dad's 80th birthday yesterday.  Fortunately, we got most of the grilling done between the raindrops and had a dry place inside the garage to enjoy the festivities.

My brothers played an impromptu mini-concert for Dad.  Since Glen Campbell is Dad's favorite singer, they were sure to include one of his songs.  My brother Darrell, on guitar, had the lyrics written in his notebook (they're a bit complicated in parts), which daughter M. dutiful held for him.  It was a great time!

I uploaded two other songs they did, Drift Away and Sweet Home Alabama.  The latter cracks me up.  When one trips up, the other is there to set him back on track.  And, yes, they do know the right words, but apparently like to have fun with them sometimes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finished Hands2Help Charity Quilt

There was a delay of several weeks between piecing my Hands2Help quilt top and putting it all together, but I finally got it done this week.  Nothing like a deadline for motivation!

I used the Nine Patch Lattice Quilt tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman at Oh, Fransson!  I made it a bit wider and longer, though, so it's closer to twin size.

The print fabrics were from a Jo-Ann kit I had found during one of my thrifting adventures last year—brand new, good quality fabrics in the box.  I loved the bright, yet earthy, color palette.  The tan solid is from Connecting Threads.

The scraps and a couple of leftover fat quarters and other yardage from the kit went into the backing and the binding.

It is quilted in an all-over meander, my go-to, git 'er done method.

I shipped this off to Sarah on Friday for the NOLA project to distribute quilts to grade school children in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans, an area particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.  These quilts will be distributed in the fall by her church group, which has made several mission trips there since the disaster.

A couple months ago, I won a pretty black/white/red rag quilt from Richard of Richard Quilts for being one of the winning guesses on the birth stats for their baby girl, Julia, born in March.  Richard is a prolific new quilter, and I honestly don't know where he gets his energy from, but I was happy to win one of his handmade beauties.  I told him I would be donating it to Hands2Help, so I tucked it into the box to Sarah, along with my own.

I know that these and the many other quilts donated through this charity quilt challenge will bring much joy and comfort to their recipients.  It is an honor and a pleasure to be part of this event, and I look forward to participating again next year!

May Finishes

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Favorite Things Friday ~ Cream of Asparagus Soup

What do you do when you have been blessed by a friend with several pounds of fresh, homegrown asparagus?

You steam some for dinner a couple nights in a row, and then you take a whole bunch of it and make cream of asparagus soup.  At least, that's what I did.

I used this recipe, which is the first one that came up when I Googled "cream of asparagus soup."  It was simple and had a lot of good reviews, so it seemed like a winner to me—and it certainly was!

I tweaked the recipe by adding a minced clove of garlic, using ghee instead of butter (which many with a milk protein sensitivity can tolerate) and instead of heavy cream, I used a tablespoon of full fat coconut milk in my bowl.  Everyone else stirred a little moo-cow cream into theirs.  It was, in a word, divine.

I snipped some chives from my garden for a garnish.  Did you know chive blossoms are edible?

Favorite thing:  Homemade cream of asparagus soup.

Also, this new song, which I heard on the radio on Tuesday.  I predict good things for this band, Alabama Shakes.  Brittany, the singer, has a unique voice, sort of (but not entirely) like Etta James meets Macy Gray.  To be honest, when I first heard it on the radio, I thought it was a male singer.  The video set me straight, and I loved it all the more.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I helped my dad plant his garden this morning.  We put in one row each of marigolds, kohlrabi, peppers, onions, and radishes; two rows of parsnips; and three rows of tomatoes.  He'll plant cucumbers, squash, beans, and another row of kohlrabi from seed later.

It's a good thing I already complained about bending and stooping and aching knees earlier this week, because after planting this morning, Ibid.  It'll be well worth the transitory soreness once things start producing, though.

I figured I'd need a good breakfast for this endeavor.  It was an afterthought to take a picture (hence a couple bites missing).  Sometimes I think people wonder just what I can eat since I don't eat gluten or dairy products and I limit most sweets*.  Short answer:  A lot.

Obviously, I am not suffering.  I like these butternut squash pancakes, substituting canned pumpkin and using applesauce instead of maple syrup in the batter.  I make a batch, freeze them with waxed paper between each one, then flip a couple in the toaster to reheat.  These went a few seconds in the microwave as well, just to make the almond butter on top nice and melty.

I also finished quilting and binding the Hands2Help charity quilt.  Here is a peek.  I'll do a formal post on the finish later so I can link it up this weekend.  I was out taking photos in the yard this afternoon.

Our guard rooster, a garden decoration, aka "Cock Blocker," keeps a watchful eye.  He makes me smile, as does the goofy name I gave him.

If you haven't yet seen the Dancing With the Stars finale last night, you may want to click away now (Elizabeth, I'm talking to you).
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Okay?  So, WOO-HOO!!!  Donald Driver won the Mirror Ball trophy!!!!  I am so proud of him for the great dancing, winning attitude, and that megawatt smile that kept me rooting for him week after week.  Bring it on home to Title Town, baby!!!  I think this dance is what clinched it for him on Tuesday night.

*Not counting the rhubarb-blueberry crisp I made the other night...and proceeded to eat most of. I mean, it's rhubarb! That's a spring treat.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Make it Rain

So many things vie for our attention this time of year, don't they?  Gardening, yard work, graduation, outdoor parties, to name a few.  Over the weekend, I finally got a few things done that I'd been meaning to do for a while.  

I potted a few containers with flowers, keeping it pretty simple.  I also finally finished the top for the Iron Work Quilt Along.

I followed one of Sandi's suggested color schemes and just love how it turned out, so vibrant!  I used a rosewood colored solid in lieu of black, which I'm happy about as well.  Now it needs quilting, but that will have to wait a bit.

I need to finish the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge quilt this week.  That means that today I had to (a) wash the kitchen floor, and (b) get down on said floor to pin-baste the quilt.  Ugh, my knees.  On the plus side, my kitchen smells like Pine Sol.

Does anyone actually enjoy basting?  Because I am not even sure that is possible.  And because I'm seriously thinking of hiring it done next time.  Especially if these guys will do it for me.

Hey, now there's an idea: Strip basting!  "Oops, you missed closing a pin.  I'm sorry, sir; you will have to remove your shirt."

Well, a gal can dream...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Favorite Things Friday ~ Good Thrift Finds

I have a confession.  I went back to the thrift store to see if that Singer 503 was still there.  And just what was I going to do if it was?  Stare at it some more?  Try to find a good reason to justify me not buying it?  I wasn't sure, but like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime, I went.

And it was gone.  Whew!  No longer an option.  It had found a new home.  Good!

But since I was in the store, I may as well have a look around, right? 

"Oh, look!"  I said to Norm in the dishes aisle.  "Aren't these cool?  Only 49 cents apiece."  I pushed aside the price sticker on the bottom of a cup to reveal the mark beneath.  "Well, will you look at that, Georges Briard."  No wonder I liked them.  His stuff has caught my eye (and Norm's) before.  This particular pattern is called Carousel.

When I got to the checkout, the clerk said there had been dinner plates as well, but someone else bought those earlier in the day.

I also found some fabric.  I get such a kick out of finding good fabric in the thrift store.  It's a different thrill than regular fabric store shopping.  Sort of like spotting a rare bird where you don't expect to see one.

The top four fabrics are batiks, about 3/4 yard each, except there's probably a couple yards of the purple.

So I'm joining Favourite Things Friday today, because good thrift finds are my favorite thing this week (and any week!).

And because my mp3 player shuffled up this song for me on my walk tonight, I'm sharing it as well.  I always want to stop what I'm doing and start dancing when I hear it.  Start the weekend early and sing the "Woo-hoo-hoo!" part out loud!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

String Ring Table Mat Tutorial

Here's the tutorial I promised on how to make a scrappy string ring table mat.  It's easy and fun!

Basically, you will be making a Dresden plate but without the points on the ends.  An EZ Dresden ruler works well for this.  If you use that ruler, you will need to cut 20 blades for one ring.  I used the 6-1/2 inch mark when cutting, which makes a ring that finishes at about 16 inches in diameter.

Using strings, or strips, that measure about 11 or 12 inches long and between 1 inch and 2-1/4 inches wide, sew enough strings together so that you have a string "strata" that measures at least 6-1/2 inches wide (mine were a bit bigger and then I trimmed them).  Press all seams open.  Trim to exactly 6-1/2 inches wide.  The length doesn't matter as much, as long as each rectangular strata is at least 11 inches long.

For each string ring, you will need to make 4 such strata pieces, measuring 6-1/2 inches x at least 11 inches.  Try to use different fabrics in each strata, if you want to go for a scrappy look.  I did keep to a color scheme (sort of), i.e., blue, green, tan/off-white, gray, and red.  Don't stress about matching or coordinating, though. You may think your colors will look weird together, but it'll all work out in the end, you'll see.

Now from each strata piece, cut 5 blades using your EZ Dresden template.  Alternate the direction of the blades cut by turning your template the opposite way for each piece that you cut.

When you've cut 5 blades from each of your 4 strata pieces, you will have the 20 blades for your string ring.  Lay them out in a circle, arranged the way you like.

Then sew them together.  I like to sew the blades into quarter sections and press them, then sew the quarters into halves, and finally the two halves into a whole circle.  But do whatever works for you.  Press all your seams open.  Now you have a string ring!

Okay, now on to making the table mat.  I'm going to use a different string ring that I already had sewn together. 

This table mat is not quilted, so you just need a backing, no batting.  Cut your backing fabric about 17-18 inches square (or not...mine had a divot out of one end, which was okay).  It just has to be a bit bigger all the way around than your string ring.  Place the backing fabric right side up and lay the string ring right side down on top of it.

Pin securely all the way around the outer circle.  I put a couple pins around the center hole too just to help keep the layers from shifting.

Sew the layers together with a quarter-inch seam around the outer edge.

Trim even with the outer circle.

Turn the piece right-side out through the open center hole, and press flat.

Now you  need to cover the center hole.  Cut a circle of fabric about 1/2 inch larger in diameter than your center hole (my cut piece was 3-1/2 inches in diameter).

Cut a same-sized circle of Heat 'n Bond Lite and fuse it to the fabric circle following the directions on the package.  Then fuse the fabric circle to the string ring.

Stitch around the edges of the center circle however you would like, straight stitch, zigzag, or decorative.  My 50-year-old Singer doesn't have a whole lot of options, so I went with a combination straight/zigzag stitch.

Then sew jumbo rickrack to the outer edge, stitching about 1/8 inch from the outer circle edge.  I found this to be the most tedious part of the whole process, but it's over quickly and the result is worth it.

And that's it!

Ready for whatever you want to put on top of it—a bouquet of flowers, a potted geranium, plate of cinnamon rolls, pitcher of lemonade, etc.

Have fun with this!  If you make one, let me know.  I'd love to see it!

I'm linking with Connie of Quilting by the River for Linky Party Tuesdays. Click the button and visit some of the other lovely blogs linked there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Passing It Around

I just had the best belly laugh this morning watching this video a friend emailed me.  Had to share.  Looks like it's been out awhile, but if you haven't seen it before, it's worth the click.


But harsh, what light through yonder (dirty) window breaks?
It is the west, but Pyrex is the sun...

It was probably the movie we saw this weekend that has me
perverting Shakespeare.  (The movie was called Anonymous.  Quite good, actually.)  

Unfortunately, iambic pentameter won't spiff up my godawful windows.  Guess I better get outside with a ladder and squeegee soon.

Anyway, these are my thrift finds from the weekend, i.e., the things I bought at Goodwill instead of a vintage Singer sewing machine. 

'Shrooms!  They were just too cute!  Which, strangely, is not what I thought in the 1970s when this kind of thing was popular.  Watch out, the next thing you know, I'll tie a cord to my big toe and macrame an owl.  Seriously, I had a friend in high school (in said '70s) who did a crap-ton of macrame, and she started every project by tying the macrame cording to her big toe.  I am not making this up.

And oh, speaking of Shakespeare—back before my mind wandered back to "ye good ole days," (not to be confused with Happy Days, which was to '70s TV what That '70s Show was to the '00s)—

They are filming a new Romeo and Juliet, by screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey writer), and starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth, an extraordinarily pretty young man.  I first saw him in Great Expectations a month or so ago and almost stopped breathing (which you may too; click that link to a photo on IMDB).

*Ye ole swoon.*

This post reads like it was written on 'shrooms.  I promise I'm only under the influence of fatigue.

A thousand times good night!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Sundry 5-13-12

My dad turns 80 at the end of the month, and we're planning a party for him.  It's not a surprise; in fact, he requested it and picked the date.  He's helpful that way.

So I got together with my sister last weekend to make party plans, and this little table mat idea popped into my head.
Since I was making these string rings anyway—by the way, I think I have all of them done for the quilt now—I thought it would make a fun little mat under flower bouquets on the tables.

I didn't have any bouquets to photograph with it today, so I substituted a Pyrex carafe as a model (but wouldn't that be fun used as a vase?).

And a flower pot thrifted last weekend...

and a scalloped Red Wing dish?  Hee-hee!

I'll be back in a couple days to tell you how I made the table mat.  It's easy peasy, and I'm sure you could probably figure it out yourself, but since I have to make a few more anyway, I may as well show you.

Happy Mom's Day!  Hope you are having a good one.  My daughter gave me some beautiful plants for Mother's Day (and mowed my lawn, and ran errands, and bought me lunch, and her boyfriend did a whole bunch of computer setup work for me—wow!).  One of the plants was a gorgeous hanging fuchsia basket and the other was a beautiful perennial lily, which I planted in my flower bed today. 

I would show you pictures, but my camera battery ran out of juice and had to go on the charger, so that will have to wait, as will pictures of a couple of thrift scores from today. 

But I will report (with mixed emotions) that what I did not buy today at Goodwill was a very good-looking Singer 503 Slant-o-matic, aka Rocketeer.  A sweet vintage sewing machine for $24.99.  It was really hard to pass up, but I stayed strong.  After all, I had just cleaned part of the basement this weekend, muttering the whole while about having too much sh--/stuff in my sewing room.  *Sigh*  Tell me I did the right thing?