Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Answering a Few Questions

The Halloween pillow for the guest room chair is finished.  It was nice to use up some more of my stash.  I didn't put the cover on the pillow, just laid it in place, but you get the idea.



I guess I only need 1 more bed pillow and some other character pillow.  May be another owl?

I also want to clear up or expound on some of my earlier posts that I have received questions about.

  • The blue pen I use to mark my fabric is made by Wrights.   You can buy it at most sewing centers.  To see more about this pen click here.  It runs under $3.
  • The Timber Rattlesnake is a protected species in the state of Texas.  You cannot kill them or keep them as pets (class C misdemeanor, $500 fine).  To read more about the snake them click here.
  • Vodka used in pie crust leaves no flavor.  The reason to use it is to provides moisture,  making the dough easy to work with, but evaporates to make a crisp crust.  However, if you taste the crust before cooking you will taste it.  Flavored vodka (untested by me yet) may leave the flavoring but no alcohol taste.  The recipe is from the November 2007 Cook's Illustrated Magazine.  Click here to see original recipe.
  • Light boxes for tracing are wonderful.  You do not need anything fancy, but having your work horizontal is much more stable than using a window.  You can use the glass from a picture frame, by removing the picture and positioning the frame/glass between chairs with a lamp below.  I would not leave the fabric with blue pen ink over the lamp for extended time as I am unsure if the heat would set the ink.  I have not had a problem, but my tracing takes little time.
  • My projects, for the most part, since starting this blog have not cost much money.  I have mostly used items I already had around the house.
  • The amount of time it takes to post varies depending on how many photos I put in.  I find I can have my post up in between 30 minutes to 60.  
  • My blog has so far been viewed in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, India, Russia, and Italy.
  • Yes, I will consider all requests for posts!
Any other questions out there?  I'll be glad to answer if I can.  And feel free to Facebook share my blog if you are enjoying it using the Facebook button on the bottom right side.  All shares are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vodka Makes Everything Better

I love sunrises and sunsets.  I watch the sunrise in the morning from the review mirror of my car as I head to work.  It always starts me out with a smile on my face.  The sunset in the evening with all the wonderful glowing colors just makes me feel amazed and relaxed.  I got this shot last night from my phone; not an iPhone so the quality isn't the best.

















I thought I would make pizza tonight, but ended up not in the mood.  However all the ingredients were set to go.  The perfect solution was quiche.  I love quiche.  I think it ties with pizza for its versatility.  Great for getting rid of left overs.

Starting with the crust I pulled out my mother's recipe.  I admit this recipe made me skeptical (you'll see what I mean when you read the ingredients) and is not the recipe I have used for the past 26 years.  I love that it is made in my food processor.

2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 C shortening
1/4 C vodka
1/4 C water

Put 1 1/2 C flour, all salt and sugar in a food processor and give a quick 2 second pulse.  Add butter and shortening.


Pulse again for 15 seconds.  Scrape sides with a spatula and add remaining flour.  Give it 5 or 6 quick pulses and turn into a bowl.


 Sprinkle with vodka and water and fold in with the spatula.


Divide into 2 balls.  Turn onto plastic wrap and flatten into discs.  Wrap with plastic and chill for 45 minutes to 2 days.  Roll when ready.

All that said this recipe has my mind twirling with ideas:  peach flavored vodka and ground almonds in the dough,  vanilla vodka for a chocolate pie, need I go on because I can.  One note about this recipe; it is extremely pliable.  Unlike traditional crusts that are dry, this dough is more like cookie dough that can be shaped easily.  The vodka evaporates so the crust becomes. . .  well. . .  crusty.

Now to the quiche.  I'm thinking Italian sausage, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, red peppers and onion.   I toss this in the bottom of the crust.  I whipped 4 eggs and a good dousing of milk with some Italian herbs, stirred it up and poured over top.  I know, I know, this is vague.  But truly that is how I usually cook.  If I were pressed I would say it was 3/4 of a cup may be more, may be less.  Next time I'll measure.  Now in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes at 350.  I'll serve this with sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper.  Done.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Did I Mention I Love Halloween?

It's never too early to start getting ready for the holidays.  I'm not talking about Christmas in July.  I mean Halloween in August.  I guess there is not much difference really.  But when you are making all your decorations you must get an early start.

I've told you that I have the Halloween quilt ready and one Halloween Cathedral Window pillow, but I need more.  I printed a coloring book page from the internet (yes that is allowed) and used it to make the center of a pillow I plan to put in the blue chair in the guest room.  I taped it to my clear plastic ruler to ready it for tracing.


I held it over a lamp with no shade so I could see through it and taped my fabric over the coloring page.


Magic blue pen (water soluble)


Some embroidery thread and back stitching and I have a great center for a pillow.


Now I need to pick some fabric and make a design.


I also want to share this photo with you.  Look close.


That's a Timber Rattler.  Absolutely gorgeous coloring.  I think the heat really slowed him down or he never would have let me get this close (no lectures, please).  He's making a bee line for my herb garden.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Owl Pattern as Promised

As promised here is the pattern and the directions for making my little owl pillow.  I tried to be as detailed as I could, but if anything is unclear please feel free to post your question in my comments.  Materials are listed for yardage and scrap.  I did change the beak in this pattern from the one I used to make mine.  Click here for visual directions.


3/8 yard print for backing and head (or 18" x 10" scrap)
3/8 yard print for body (or 10" x 10" scrap)
1/8 yard print for wings ( or 8" x 8" scrap)
3" x 3" square for beak
3" x 6" scrap for outer eye
2" x 5" scrap for inner eye
2 buttons (optional)
12" x 12" square Steam a Seam 2 or Wonder Under Fusible Web
Fiber Fill (amount to fill to your taste)

Double click on the pattern and save it to your computer.  Print pattern as a full page.  If that is not available on your software, print as an 8 x 10 picture.  This will make your owl smaller.


Cut around the outside shape of the owl.  Pattern includes a 1/4" seam allowance.  Place pattern face side down onto your backing fabric, pin, and cut.  Unpin.

Remove pattern and cut on the cut line between head and body.  Pin onto respective fabrics for the head and face with pattern face side up.  Using your ruler add 1/4 inch to the cut line as marked on the pattern, pin, and cut.  Then cut around pattern shape.  Unpin.


Cut Beak, Wings, and Outer Eyes from the pattern.  Trace the shapes onto your Steam a Seam 2 or Wonder Under Fusible Web. Now cut your Inner Eyes and trace them as well.  Cut leaving about a 1/4" allowance around pencil marks.  Following your fusible web directions, iron onto your fabric choices.  Now cut on your marked lines trying to keep your curves smooth.

Ready to assemble?

Following your fusible web directions place the wings on the body section and iron to bond.  A blanket stitch is optional here around the wings.  Pin the head to the body with right sides together and stitch with a 1/4" seam.  Press seam allowance toward the head.  Lay a ruler on the seam line adding 1/2" above the line.  Place outer eye on this line spaced to your preference and iron following your fusible directions.  Again, use of a blanket stitch here is optional.  Place inner eye and beak in place and iron them as well.  Still might concider that blanket stitch here.

If you are adding a button to the eyes, sew it on now.

With right sides together, pin front to back and stitch with a 1/4" seam around owl leaving a 2" opening at the bottom.

Turn right side out through opening.  Insert a crochet hood or other narrow blunt instrument into owl and  push fabric in the ears to make gentle points.  Press around all edges.

With needle and thread, baste opening seams flat but not to each other.  This will make whip stitching the opening closed after stuffing much easier.

Stuff with fiber fill until it is as full as you want it.

Whip stitch bottom opening closed and remove basting stitches.  Give him a name and let me know if you try this for yourself.  I would love to see pictures.
 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fall Ensemble Complete

We have the quilt, two bed pillows, one owl pillow and all that was needed was a pillow for the chair and a mini quilt for the clothes line.  Luckily my friend Andrea gave me so much coordinating fabric that I still had enough left to make these.  Ta Da!


I will say, though, I did have to piece the back since I am running low on large pieces of the leftovers.


You can see how important the blue in the measuring tape was in helping this pillow make sense on the chair.  It then in turn makes the blue chair fit with the new pieces.  It I used only the red, yellow, white, green, and black it would not have matched as well.

Here is the mini quilt for the clothes line frame.


Now my room is ready for fall and so am I. (Forecast today 108)  I will keep this out until October 1st, then put out the Halloween.  After Halloween this will go back in the room and get me through until the day after Thanksgiving when my Christmas will go out.  I did not plan to make items for all the holidays.  I thought when I was finished with my 30's fabrics that I would be done.  I guess I just got on a roll.

Here are the two seasons I have completed so far.

The Fall Collection
For other Fall Collection (Crackers) posts click Who-Who-Who, Surprise, More Pillows!, and  My Productive Lunch Break.

The Spring/Summer Collection
For more Spring/Summer Collection (Summer Breeze) posts click Yo-Yo Bunny, Part 1: Braided Rug, Part 2: Braided Rug, Done With Pillows?, and Row Quilts.

Now I need to get to work on Halloween.  I already have the quilt, 1 pillow, and the framed mini quilt.  It's a start.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Who-Who-Who

How do you feel about owls?  I never really thought about them myself until a recent perusing of my Halloween fabrics.   Really my inspiration was two fold:  Halloween fabric and my yo-yo bunny.  Yo-yo bunny can't stay out when I put Crackers or my Halloween quilt on the bed.  Cheery 30's prints just don't coordinate with him.  So I knew I wanted to make something that was not a pillow to replace him.  Why not an owl?  Seems like a great fall/Halloween animal, right?

Here is how I got started.  I grabbed some paper out of the recycling bin at work and began to cut.  Since I knew it would be symetrical it was easy to make a pattern.  After all, there just are not many pieces: body, beak, wings, eyes, head.


Once I had the pattern made I chose my fabrics and cut the little guy out.  I say little guy because he is.  Finished he will only be 10" x 8".  This may end up being a mistake and I will wish I had made him larger, but I wanted him to be an accent to the pillows not the focal point.


So  the fabric is cut and it's time to assemble.  I think Rudy has missed me this week now that I am back to work because he would not leave my side during this project.


I made a blanket stitch around the wings on the body then sewed the body to the head.

From the Front
From the Back
To cut the back I flipped the pattern over to pin to the fabric.  You can see I really was upcycling this paper from the recycling bin.


At this point I have blanket stitched on all my facial features and am now faced with two options for continuing.


I opted for the button eyes and sewed them in place with my sewing machine with the feed dogs down.  Now the back and front get sewn together leaving an opening at the bottom for turning and stuffing.  Here he is all turned and pressed.  You will notice that I basted the bottom open seams (not together) to help me line them up for whip stitching when it's stuffed.  He measures 8"x 10".


  Whip the bottom closed and I'm done.  Alone he might be a little creepy.


But he is really perfect with his other pillow buddies.


Next time may be some feet would be cute.  I'll keep this pattern in a folder because who who who knows, I may want to make more (smaller beak next time?).  May be one to match my Halloween quilt.

I am working on a pattern to download with step by step directions if anyone would like them.  This is a 2 hour project.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Recipe Cards

I spent a little quality time on pinterest today after work.  I came across a pin by my daughter-in-law of a recipe book made with homemade recipe cards.  Great post idea, right?


The idea is to use a template to create 4 x 6 recipe cards that are put into a photo album with sleeves for 4 x 6 photos.  So I spent some time trying to figure out how to use their template to no avail.  (click here to see the template). Why not make my own, I thought.

I must have spent 3 hours (no lie) trying to create my own template on Word 2010.  No luck.  I just couldn't make one I liked that would be easy to drop new photos into when I wanted to make a new card.

So I got online and found another template that I thought might work.

   
This was an amazing template, but wait, it's not a template.  The blogger had created this for herself.  How did she make it?  She used a very expensive program called Illustrator.  Way out of my budget for making recipe cards.  I might be able to do this with something that I have on my computer now, but that will wait until another day.  I'm tired.

But this was not all wasted time.  There are a lot of people out there doing amazingly creative things.  Looking at their stuff gave me ideas of my own.  I did find a way to make a picture of the recipe that I was happy with.


Love the Polaroid look.   I may revisit this project, but for now I am over it.  

Was this a waste of time?  Not really. This is something I would really like to do someday.  May be I'll just spend a weekend afternoon gathering all the recipes that are worth of going into a recipe book.  Those recipes I know I will go back to over and over.  But as for my evening I got to relax on the sofa with my lap top exploring my creativity.  I had a nice conversation with my husband, enjoyed a little TV.  But tomorrow it's back to the grind stone.  Ready to make some real progress on my DWR.  I need to get this finished if I hope to have it quilted by the end of the year when the temperatures drop.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yes, It's a Contridiction

I really don't like seafood.  I did at one time, but I haven't in years.  This was a problem when my husband worked for Landry's and then Joe's Crab Shack.  Lot's of seafood served there.  And it always looked so good and the presentation with bright yellow lemons and green parsley was always so appealing.  But no, I don't like seafood.

That being said I like tuna.  Grab a can of Chicken of the Sea and throw in some apple and celery, a bit of onion and pickle relish, a dollop of mayo and I am set.  Tonight there will be no Chicken of the Sea.  I splurged.  I don't know why but I did.  I bought two beautiful pieces of tuna.  I squeezed a lime, drizzled some olive oil and smeared on some garlic and I think we have the beginnings of a great meal.


Once it chilled in the refrigerator for a bit I made a spicy rub to give it some life.  Tuna can be dull.
1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (I would have added more, but this emptied the jar)
  • 1 tsp tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


After mixing the spices I dredged the tuna in the mix and cooked in a hot skillet for 3 minutes per side.


This is going to be great with my homemade Peach Salsa, yellow rice, and veggies (zucchini, tomato, onion).


Yep, it was delicious.  Breck said so.


The blackening mix I made was great.  Nice and spicy without burning my mouth.  I will use this mix again and again.  It was also the perfect amount for the two tuna steaks.  I had none left over and yet there were no spots on the fish devoid of spice.

May get back in my sewing room tomorrow to work on my DWR and I still need to make that third pillow to go with Crackers.  I am thinking may be an owl pillow.  I have some newspaper in my recycling bin so I can work on a pattern tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Empty Nest

My son Cameron moved to his first apartment today while I was at work.  His friend drove down in a rented U-haul and they packed up his stuff, some furniture, and headed out.  It dawned on me when work was over that I would go home to a house that was a little bit quieter, a little more empty.  Now there will be no long stays over Christmas, Spring  and Summer breaks because he will have his place and his job and that is okay.  Really.  Okay.  But tonight I did not make anything.  No sewing, no dinner, no work in the yard, though I did turn on a sprinkler.  Tonight there was an emptiness that needed to be filled.


Yes, folks.  That's one grapefruit, some parmesan cheese, 3 Ensures, some jelly, butter, syrup, chicken breasts, garlic, and eggs.  (Did you think I was going to get all mushy?) This emptiness was not good.  Off to the store.



$177.92 later I have a stocked freezer, pantry, and refrigerator.


Fresh produce makes me happy.  The pears, tomato, and onion are on the counter, but the other veggies and fruits are chilling.  So is the tuna steak in the butcher's wrap.  I see a cooking blog in my future.


I will say, Breck and I were smart and hit up Subway (6" BMT on Italian Herb, baby) before shopping so our choices were smart.  Shopping hungry is never a good idea.  We must have been thirsty, though, because besides the juice and flavored water you see here we got Gatorade and soda.

So even though I did not cook or sew, my day was a productive one and that has always been the goal.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Surprise, More Pillows

I decided to put Crackers on the bed and put Summer Breeze away in the closet.  That means new pillows were needed.  Darn.

The first one was fairly simple:  9" center with a 1" black border and 2 1/2" floral border.  A black button in the center really completes the look.  Looks great with Crackers.


The next one needed to have a bit more color.  Luckily I have scraps left over to do this.  This pattern is called Churn Dash.


I still need one more pillow for the bed, maybe a log cabin.  A small pillow for the chair to tie the bolder reds and yellows with the blues of the chair would be nice as well.

I have a new tab with projects I can't qualify as quilts called Other Projects.  My parents took photos of postcards and a wall hanging that had been gifts for my mother and those can be seen there.  They also photographed quilts I made for each of them and those are now in the Quilts I Made section.

Got a great shot of a butterfly in my Dianthus this afternoon.  Not as brightly colored as the Monarchs earlier this summer, but beautiful none the less.


I am also making headway on my DWR.  I sewed the first 2 long rows to each other and began putting row 5 together.  More pictures of that another day.

For all my foodie fans, I promise to have a cooking post soon.  And to all, feel free to reply to any post with suggestions of things you would like to see.