Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending the Year on a Tasty and Crafty Note

As I look over at my living/sewing room and all the fabric in piles awaiting measuring for backing for quilts, I took a moment to look back over the past year.  It has not been a good one in many ways, but then on the other hand, it has been a good year.  2012, for all it's ups and downs, is unforgettable.

But......not to sink in a morass of doom and gloom, I did do a couple of fun things today to end out the year.  Despite the coughing, sneezing and congestion.

First, I made some No-Knead Bread using the recipe and technique from The Italian Dish Blog .  It has become one of my new drool worthy sites to visit and my list of dishes I am making is long.

No-Knead Bread
The loaf is just the right size for 1-2 people for a couple of days.  Not so much that it will be turned into bird food or croutons.  Chewy, but hearty enough for sandwiches.  There is dough now in my fridge for 3 more loaves that I can whip out at any time.

Then, ignoring the larger projects dotting my living room, I had an urge to try my hand at a little bag for a purse.  One to throw cell phone, ipod, makeup, whatever into.  Just in case you can't figure it out, this is some fabric I picked up for you, Savvy!

Kitty bag

Kitties on the inside too!
This is from a tutorial on The Busy Bean .  Another site which has a long list of things I want to make.  Her instructions were very clear and help me overcome my hatred for zippers in bags.
So I feel that I am ending on a high note rather than dwelling on the low notes of the year.  (But I still miss you Mom.)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Times Have Changed.......

I took my first (actually, my only) quilting class back in the early 1980's.  At that time, quilting was just making a comeback and we carefully created templates out of plastic and traced our pattern out on the fabric.  In fact, I still have a baby blanket I made in the class which still needs to be finished hand quilting.  I don't know what I am going to use for the binding, since it has long been separated from the project.  And the actual double bed sized quilt for the class....never did it.  I guess since it is now about 30 years old, I really should finish up the baby quilt, you think?  An antique before it's ever finished.

I have made a handful of baby blankets out of flannel, quick and easy, since then.  And for Savvy, I made a cross stitched name for her and set it into a quilt (won 2nd place at the State Fair with it too!)  But that has basically been the extent of my quilting for the past 30 years.  I have some of the new 'tools' for quilting today which I used for other projects and have kept a semi-watchful eye on the trends.  But needlework, knitting, cosplay sewing and an old, cranky sewing machine have kept me from really delving into quilting.

Fast forward to now........

This is my fourth quilt in the past 2-3 months.  I have done a couple of baby quilts, one to give and the other for my new granddaughter-to-be.  I have Savvy a quilt top finished, just need to get the backing.  And this is a lap quilt I am making, probably for me.

I used a charm packet from Moda, called Serenade by Kate Spain. The plain cream is muslin I had in my limited stash (for quilting) that I have a ton of.  The  pattern is the Disappearing Four Patch and I used the YouTube video by Missouri Star Quilt Company.  (As it turns out, my center, small square I didn't rotate correctly, but it works for me.)

So this is my finished top.  I have used a huge piece of flannel for a log cabin quilt I made years ago (and still haven't finished....the sewing on it is terrible) to make a planning board.  Actually, since I am now an empty nester, the flannel is on my wall beside my front door and I can see it from my desk.  It seems to work really well there as I can look over at it and decide whether or not I like the placement of the squares before sewing the blocks together.

My plan is to do a small and wide border, probably in one of the oranges and one in the blue.  My backing will probably be one of the blues too.

But the things that have changed over the past 30 years!

1.  Fabrics are being made just for quilting.  Charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls, entire collections coordinated together.  You don't have to go to the fabric store and hunt for fabric any longer!

2.  Rotary cutters, rulers and mats, oh, my!

3.  Instructional videos online at your finger tips.

4.  TONS of patterns for quick and easy and beautiful quilts.

5.  Machine quilting....almost unheard on in 'my day'....and probably my first quilting class I want to take.

So now, not only have I got 2 new quilts to finish up, but in the process of all of this delving back into sewing, I unearthed another flannel quilting project from several years ago.  And enough squares for at least 2 good sized lap quilts for the girls (or me).

Let the quilting begin (before school starts and I have to set it aside again).

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cold Days Gets Heated Up

There are a handful of authors who I follow religiously.  In fact, I have this mental image I am holding a whip, urging them to write faster and more.  So when the latest in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher came out in November, I held off, savoring the moment and ordered it for my Christmas vacation.  For you see, as anxious as I am to get to the next book, I also want to cherish the experience. Reading a new book by one of your favorite authors is like eating Godiva chocolates versus a handful of M&M's.  They're both chocolate, but in completely different leagues.

Like being presented with a box of fine chocolates, I couldn't sit down and just gorge myself in one sitting.  I got the book on Tuesday, started it on Wednesday and finished it last night.  So four days to revel in Harry Dresden again, who is back from the dead.  And once again he has to save the world from all the things that go bump in the night.  It almost makes me afraid to finish Chicago at times. 

This time he is working under the orders of an old foe, Queen Mab (who saved his life in the last book) and must battle not only her foes, but as it turns out, the term "Warden" isn't just an empty title and there is a new set of bumpy in the night things to battle.

But Harry not only has a few new tricks up his sleeves, but he also has a cast of friends he can call on.  His brother, Thomas, Molly, Karrin, Mouse, Butters and Toot and the pizza-eating pixie army all rally behind him as they battle their way from one side of Chicago to another.  You want to  pull on your leather duster and fight right along side them. Jim Butcher does not disappoint.  This is not some Godiva-wanna be, this is the real deal - enough magical tastiness you are left sated and yet craving more.  

One thing I particularly like about the Dresden series is that while Harry is a wizard and can fight the bad 'things' right and left, he is still human, with human failings and questions just like the rest of us.  He has doubts and concerns, but still gets in there despite the odds.

The worse thing about reading Cold Days is that now I want to go back and re-read the 13 books which came before it.  I need more chocolate!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Old Comforts are Sometimes the Best

On Wednesday I took myself out to see "The Hobbit" (which is wonderful by the way) and decided that I would treat myself to lunch at someplace other than a place with a drive through.  I had been hearing about Panera's 'grown up grilled cheese sandwich' on the radio, so I decided a nice bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich would be the thing.

First off, I apologize for the picture.  I didn't think about it until I had started eating (and thinking) about the meal.  The soup is much more red and I don't like croutons getting soggy in my soup.

The soup was thick and tasty.  The sandwich was cheesy and the bacon was a different touch.  But it was a toss up.  You needed to eat the sandwich before it cooled off and got hard and you had to eat the soup before it became cold tomato soup.  It was a good meal though.

But all the time I was eating it all I could think about was that, while it was good, the good old Campbell's Tomato soup made with milk and a grilled cheese sandwich made with colby jack slices on plain old Wonder bread was just as good if not better.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese, often made with Kraft American Cheese Slices, were a go-to meal growing up.  My girls ate a ton of them.  I still like it if I'm not feeling up to snuff.  Of course, eating the meal at home, I throw little chunks of cheese into the soup to get all melty.  

Still, while good and not fast food, I'll take my comfort food at home, in my pj's, on the couch, watching trash TV.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Too Much Bread?

Can you possibly ever have too much bread?  Especially, crunchy crusted bread?  Unfortunately, I think so.  I used the No Knead Bread recipe again because I wanted some artisan style bread to eat during my vacation.  I love the recipe, because even I can make it work.  However, it does produce enough for a whole family - way too much for 1 person (even one with dogs!)

So here it sits in all it's yeasty glory.  All bubbly and wonderfully smelly after sitting overnight.  So taxing....mix flour, water, salt and yeast and just let it sit for 12-18 hours.  Let me wipe the sweat off my brow.

Then dump it into a pre-heated dutch oven and cover and bake for about an hour.  (Actually, I probably  need to cook just a tad longer.)

But it is a huge, dutch oven sized loaf.  

And then I 'found' this blog.....The Italian Dish.  My new, favorite, drool over site.  The list I have of recipes to try is LLLLLOOONNNNGGGGG from here.  Limoncello is probably a project I will do in the spring for some lovely lemonade with a kick for the summer.

Anyway, they used the same recipe, but put the dough in the refrigerator and cut off 'hunks' and made smaller loaves.   Hhhhhmmmmmmm......I could have fresh bread every 3-4 days and not waste any (after all there is only so many bread crumbs and croutons you can have).  It will also allow me some experimentation in seasonings, like rosemary, olive oil and sea salt.  Or a cinnamon, raisin bread.

So I will probably make a new batch on Christmas Eve so I can have some fresh bread on Christmas to go with my roasted hen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I came across this a couple of weeks ago while sipping coffee and surfing using  I like Stumble on days when I am feeling slow and want some 'inspiration' or different ideas.

Source: via Judy on Pinterest

I am sorry to say I don't know the 'real' site this came from to give the correct credit to.  But the whole idea really intrigued me.

So last week at work, I did this between phone calls.....

I drew it in pencil, regular, plain old yellow school type pencil and then smudged the edges of the hands a bit to give some shadowing

This was a really fun exercise and one I plan on revisiting at a later date.  And a simple one to do.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

700 Pictures, But Whose Counting

I had two photo excursions today.  The first was at sunrise.  It was cloudy and I love the look of the sunrise with clouds as it gives the sky such a wonderful texture.  So Amani (who will stay with me) and I trotted down to the usual spot.
approach to the lake

tip of cloud reflected on the lake
Amani blends in with the leaves nicely

leaves still hanging in there

red leaves are a nice contrast

sun coming up

more sunrise

sun up

So then is was time to go home and hit the coffee for my walk later in the day.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

End of the Semester.....

Well, another semester is almost at the end.  A couple of tests and turning in a couple of projects and then I will get to PLAY until January 7 when it all starts again.

Here is my final project in my Photoshop class.  We had to design a magazine cover we would like to see.  Since I am not aware of any, I picked cosplay as my magazine theme and used pictures I had taken at last year's Animazement as my pictures.  No worrying about copyright then.  Well, except for the center picture, which Savvy took.  But if she gives me issues, I'll just withhold chocolate and polymer clay and she'll fall into line.

So there it is...."Cosplay" the magazine.  I think I got in all the elements she wanted included, so keeping my fingers crossed.  Of course, I still have to take the final text. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Getting to the end of......

my rope, my SEMESTER!

And for some reason I want to do everything and anything but complete what needs to be done.  I want to quilt and knit and clean and organize - but don't want to do schoolwork.

Anyway, I did force myself to work on this, my final project for my InDesign class.  We were suppose to take a town and write a newsletter about some aspect of it.  So I picked my local town and did a spread on local farmer's markets and restaurants which feature local food.  So here goes.....

The stories were not written by me, but were from local newspapers and magazines, as you can see by the credit lines.  Same for the photos in the newsletter.  But all the boxes and design and layout, etc were done by me - for better or for worse.

One problem with learning InDesign and starting to get a hold on it.  I have "projects" in mind....big projects.  A family cookbook could be designed very easily with this.  And something I have been wanting to do for years.....a weekly, pictorial calendar using my pictures.  My only problem is that I can now see asking other artists to submit artwork for the calendar and it gets bigger and bigger.  This is definitely a 'retirement' project.  

Back to being 'interactive'.