Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm an adoptive parent...

...that is of a mouse and his name is Squeaky!
                                                

Tonight I became the proud parent of one of Susan Pilotto's amazing pieces of art.
You can see her work on her TDIPT mercantile site.
You don't have much time.  Her work sells very quickly and I am thankful I was lucky enough to snatch up Trick or Treat. 
I missed out on her blue mouse last month and look forward to what she has to offer for the holidays.  Her work will become collectible in my book!


An Epiphany...

This morning, as I was staring at the 'preview' picture I posted two days ago, I had an epiphany.  Why not carry the streak of lightning setting into the border. 
Now I just need to figure out the math for 6 1/4" unfinished flying geese. 
Throw in not one, but two directional fabrics and many attempts later, I think I got it.
I will share the cutting instructions when we get to that point.
Of course, now that I see the final product in my mind, I will be going gangbusters again.
I'll try not to post the blocks too rapidly. 
 I know we have several people just joining and others playing catch up.

To make the flying geese, I used McClun and Nownes' method for making what they term double half square triangle units.  I posted the instructions for these earlier.  At this size, you waste quite a bit of fabric when you trim off the excess. 
So waste not, want not. 
 I just made bonus 2" HSTs out of them and now I have the beginnings of a second small quilt.  Great donation to the small quilt auction our state guild hosts annually.
Next step is to figure out the last 2 blocks.  #12 will actually be a block cut in half diagonally to go at the top and bottom of the middle row.  I have an idea on which traditional block I will use.  #11 is another story.  Should it be an easy block like Churn Dash, or maybe Flock?  For those of you willing to try Kansas Troubles, it will be your #11 block. 
If you want to help me decide, leave your vote in your comments.
Off to the sewing table I go.  Have a terrific Thursday...Cheryl

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My cure for ennui...

...is to make a really small, very complex block and then blog about it! 
So you are saying to yourself, "Is she crazy."  The answer is YES!!
Remember that my idol is Sally Collins, the queen of small scale piecing!
This is the first quilt I ever entered in a juried quilt show.  Yes, all the half square triangles are 1" and  1/2" finished. Can you even see the little green sawtooth border?  The judge kindly reminded me that a miniature needs a miniature binding.  Lesson learned!  I now put a single fold binding on my miniatures.

Have heart, ladies.  Kansas Troubles will be lucky block #13.  I can hear you all now.  "But, she said there would be only 12 blocks?*!"  Lucky 13 will be an optional block that I will give you the pattern for.  Try it, revel in the challenge, OR toss it in the orphan block pile, then take two Tylenol and call me in the morning.

Why am I so ornery today? I was pummeled on the tennis court this morning.  My team has just moved up a level and we are being schooled.  Sorry that I took it out on my followers.  What are friends for!

P.S. You may ask, "Why was I bored?" I have remade two of the blocks and I have rewritten the instructions for some of the earlier blocks.  Sorry they are out of order.  My goal is to have them all available in one place soon.  The numbers are insignificant.  It is just the order in which I made them. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Need a good laugh?

While pondering the question of whether or not we are blogoholics with my friend Rosie, she sent me this site via email.  Take the time to answer all the questions.  If any one knows what a 'meme' is, let me know.  I scored a 62...the best kind of blogoholic.  One who still has a social life!  My blog crush is Carrie Nelson at La Vie En Rosie. 

 

Some good news and some bad news

After our SSQSG meeting on Sunday, I figured out what was bothering me with my SAL quilt.  Kristine's orange and green blocks gave me my first clue.  Her 3 blocks with the warm background were so pleasing.  Also, the powerful orangy cheddar was in each block, therefore not calling attention to any one block in particular. When I got home, I discovered what I had was two different quilts.

The use of two different backgrounds worked so well in my 15 Block Sampler.  It helped differentiate the blocks from one another in a straight setting.
And in this sampler quilt, which will be on the cover of my Quilt Piecing 101 Manual, it was a pleasing design choice.  It helped unify a busy sampler quilt.
But I think with a streak of lightning setting and the powerful cheddar in only half the blocks, it just wasn't working. 

 So here is the bad news first.  I have to remake all the blocks with cheddar in them.  I don't have enough of the 'fireworks' background fabric to make many more blocks. 

And the good news is that I have a stunning candle mat and you all have a breather while I busily remake 5 blocks. How do you like the new setting fabric?  A little warmer, but a stripe! Am I crazy? Yes, but if they don't line up just perfectly, after quilting and a good wash, you will never be able to tell.
Here is a preview of the the new blocks.  The fabric they are posed on is definitely the backing for this quilt and just may find its way into a border. I told you to count on me making at least one, if not more, design changes in this quilt.
Now for a little segue--Blog Hopping.  I am enjoying the fall designer blog hop hosted by Gundrun.  Yesterday she posted a free pattern for a quilt as you go table runner with candy corn on it.  Cute, simple project for those of you lucky enough to have grandchildren!

Today, Sandy Gervais gave a free pattern for a wall hanging with a wool pumpkin on it.  Since I love pumpkins, that one just may find its way into my queue.

And you will notice that I jazzed up my blog!  I finally figured out how, Merumo. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eye candy and my new best friend!

Kathy was the first today to share at SSQSG.  Here is her quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  Betty taught her to hand quilt today, so this stunning quilt will be well worth the monies it will raise to find a cure for a cause near and dear to her heart.
Next Kristine shared her SAL blocks.  Love the orange and green color scheme.
And look at this stunning quilt!  Oh, I have quilt envy.  There are something like 32 pieces of fabric in those log cabin blocks, and the effect is amazing.
And now for her mom's blocks.  These are from Galloping Pony.  I can hardly wait to see what Pauline does with these beauties.
Merumo was busy while on the road to California.  She finished her Primitive Gatherings candle mat...
and this lovely autumn one as well.  Lin loves the wheat shafts!
And if she hasn't accomplished enough, she is also experimenting with the primitive stab stitch applique method seen here.  I would say the experiment was a success.  We all wish we had her energy and color sense!
And Betty has finished her miniature applique from Lori Smith.  It has a southwest feel about it to match her southwest territorial home here in AZ.
Lin is diligently and faithfully testing my Autumn Bounty pattern.  Here are her schoolhouse blocks.  We picked fabrics for her turkey track blocks today, so keep an eye out for them in the future.
 I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful and talented group of women.  And while I was wiling away the hours in the company of these fascinating ladies, my new best friend had cooked up a scrumptious meal for hubby and I.

Tonight we dined on tender and flavorful beef stroganoff.  I simply came home after sharing and shopping in a quilt store (yes, you can be envious) and steamed some broccoli ( a staple in our diet) along with some yolkless, no fat egg noodles for a tasty dinner. I am desperately trying to slim down to a reasonable weight, which means no more chocolate chip cookies for me.  Sigh.

Here is my crock pot recipe, adapted from Pam Buda's at Heartspun Quilts:
Add the following to a crock pot and cook for 7 hours:
1 can Campbell's golden mushroom soup
1/2 can Campbell's french onion soup
1/4 cup water
4.5 oz jar of sliced button mushrooms
1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp crushed dried tarragon
about 1 lb. of sliced lean beef strips

Prior to serving I thickened it up a little with some corn starch and then added 3 big dollops of light sour cream.  Both of us loved the flavors in this one.  As my husband said, "It's a keeper."

SAL participants from around the world

I am so excited that I have had such a positive response to my little SAL.  These are Eri's blocks.  She follows along from Japan and is one of Merumo's friends.  Then Elin from Norway joined today and gave me the idea to have a list of participants.  If you are sewing along with us and are not listed, just drop me a comment to let me know and I will add your name to the list.  I think it is fun to know where everyone is from, so include your country or state in the USA so I can include that as well.

Although I am almost to the end of the blocks, I will slow down and allow new participants, and old, to do a little catchup.  At the end, we'll all post our quilts in a slideshow.  I think Picasa will let me do that, hopefully.  Merumo can help me if I can't figure out how!

Looking forward to adding those names...Cheryl in Arizona

Are you ready for a challenge--SAL #10--Noon and Light

 Pour yourself a big cup of coffee and take a big breath before making this baby.  It will be the most complicated block by far.  However, it is the one I have tried to give the most detailed instruction for.  I may throw in a block #13 that will be much easier in case you do not want to make this one.
And look at Rosie's blocks.  I wish I had done mine in fall colors!  Very nice piecing!  She will have some great choices of fabrics for setting these from Jo Morton's new Spice line. 
And I am so excited that Denise over in Italy has joined us.  Look at these beautiful blocks in fabrics I have never seen before.


And so we need a word of the block.  Please, after making this block ladies, don't cast any aspersions my way.  And please just take your time.  I also do not wish to cause apoplexy.  OK, enough with A words.  Later today I am off to my favorite monthly meeting of SSQSG (small scale quilt study group)
Good luck!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My new pincushion and End of Day

The mailman brought me a special package today.
My pincushion I won from Pam Buda at Heartspun Quilts arrived.
And now it has taken up residence next to ole' faithful.  My clover pins that I use have blue and yellow glass heads, so they coordinate quite nicely!  The piece of antique hexagon quilt is nestled in an antique tin Ball jar lid.   I just adore it.
End of Day, block #9, is now available.  Just click the link button on the right.  We are getting down to the finish line.  There will be 12 blocks total, at least that is the present plan. 
I will be setting mine in a streak of lightning setting.  I am still not overly pleased with my navy fabric choice, so I will be at the shoppe tomorrow for SSQSG and will see if I can find something that makes me go WOW.

Today my daughter and I took the final step in publishing my Quilt Piecing 101 manual.  She is a graphic designer and will be laying it out and giving it a polished look.  I hope to have the first ones printed by mid October for my next beginners class.  Wish us luck as we embark on this new endeavor.                  

Friday, September 24, 2010

SAL #8--Big Dipper is posted

Pardon me for posting the instructions to the blocks so rapidly, but I told you when I am designing, I can be manic.  It is just easier for me to write them as I make them so I don't forget a step.  There is no rush.  The patterns will be available for quite a long time.  My only suggestion would be to print them off.  Who knows what might go haywire with the 'free' blogger site in the future.
I must say that the new format is so, so much easier to use.  Of course, that just means it takes me less time to blog and I have more time to make the little darlings!

Since my latest crazy wool pincushion will be finding a new home, I have been researching the design of the new one.  Kaaren is always my go to gal for that.   The Four Seasons will be the theme.  I like my fall designs and will include pumpkins along a purple fence!  I loved her snowman, but need to find a crisp white wool for that one.  I will design around Easter for spring.  A flag and some watermelon for summer?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

SAL setting and follower appreciation gift

Just in case you all are wondering what I have planned for my SAL blocks, here is a mock-up of the streak of lightning setting.  I selected this navy, but don't know if it does the blocks justice.  Then again, this picture was taken with my old camera.  The battery in the new one is dead and I couldn't wait for it to charge.  Believe me, they are much more vibrant in person.
                                           
Perhaps a borderless quilt with my cheddar for the binding will perk it up. Too bad I couldn't put a cheddar stripe wondering through the streaks.  I'll have to ponder that one.

Quilting will help as well.  A wonderful winding feather in the streaks will be just what the doctor ordered, don't you think.  If you all have any suggestions, please leave them for me in your comments.  Love those comments!

And now for the winner of my follower appreciation gift.  Kimber at Heirlooms by Ashton House, number 13 must be your lucky number.  And so ends my experiment with the visitor counter.  My curiousity has been satisfied. 
Last night was a full moon.  That meant my DH was up at 3am to hike the McDowell Mountains. Crazy man! The temperatures are finally cooling down around here and this morning was lovely.  I stepped outside in my jammies to capture the moon before it disappeared. The Octillo plant is one of my favorites.  In the spring it gets beautiful red-orange flowers at the tops of the stalks.
And look what I found blooming, my barrel cactus.  Blooms in the desert are so ephemeral.  One cactus produces the most delicate white flowers that open up early in the morning and then wilt away by noon.  It is unusual to see these cactus blooming at this time of year.  

Have a great day and weekend.  I am meeting with Lin and Kathy today to continue to test Autumn's Bounty and then my SSQSG meets this Sunday.  I will remember to take my camera this time so I can share all the beautiful work the ladies stitch. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SAL #7--Basket

Just when I finally learn how to use this blogger program, they update it and now my learning curve has started all over again.  You no longer have to load photos in the reverse order, but OMG, the text thing is now an issue!  Sometimes it is centered and sometimes not.  Sometimes I can put the picture on one side or the other of text, and sometimes not.  It literally can take me hours to post the instructions for a block that took me less than 15 minutes to construct.  That is the case with the next block in my series, BASKET. 
The program tells me it is centered.  OK, what do you see?  It is on the left side for me. Never mind, I centered it. Oops, maybe not.
                                               
No matter!  You can find the instructions for this block by clicking on my link to SAL blocks.  Let me know if it does not work!
Here is my Japanese blogger friends latest blocks.  I find it curious how our Civil War fabrics find their way to Japan!  I recognize some Bonnie Blue fabrics. 

If you are sewing along with me, please send me pictures of your blocks and permission to post them on my blog. 

Visitors--another 24 hours has gone by since I last addressed this and guess what, my counter tells me that over 600 visitors have secretly peeked in on my blog.  WOW!  Why don't they comment.  Why don't they become followers.  Interesting phenomenon.  I think I will term them blog voyeurs.  They will peek, but not commit!  I truly appreciate my followers.  So, remember my latest wool pincushion.  Tomorrow morning I will use the RNG thingy again and select one of my 'not afraid to commit' followers as the recipient of it when it is done.  I have to teach it in Oct., so don't expect it to arrive before late Oct., but guess what.  No action is necessary!  If you are a follower, you will be automatically entered in my drawing.  If you are a blog voyeur, sorry!

Yet another GO! giveaway

Millie is having a GO! giveaway as well.   I just have to get lucky!

And look at Doreen's SAL blocks.  I see Jo Morton Spice chest fabrics!

Another Go Cutter giveaway

Boy, those marketers at Accuquilt are really getting the word out about the Go Cutter. Jane is having a Go giveaway. I entered, yet again, in hopes of winning.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So what's for dinner? Cousin Cosmo's Greek Chicken!

I am so excited. A blog friend of Merumo's in Japan is participating in my SAL. Here are her blocks.
For those of you who do not follow her blog, here are Merumo's SAL blocks.



Such precise piecing!
Now what is for dinner. I have set a place for each and every one of you. Now that my visitors number over 400, we will be a bit crowded and short on portions. However, this one is one of my husband's favs. He suggested I share the recipe with a restaurant. How sweet!
No, I am not Greek, but love their food. This is just my version of a recipe with Cousin Cosmos' name attached.

Ingredients:

4 ounces tomato-basil feta cheese

juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

organic chicken broth

5 oz package of organic baby spinach

2 cloves of garlic, minced

10-15 bite-size tomatoes cut in half or 1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons of flour

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. paprika

olive oil and butter

Kosher salt

Pepper

Kitchen bouquet
  1. On a large plate, combine the flour with the 3 spices listed below it. Set aside.
  2. Add a tbsp of olive oil to a skillet. Heat and add the minced garlic. Toss in the spinach and saute until wilted. Transfer to a bowl and add diced tomatoes.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the feta cheese and mash up. Cut a pocket in each chicken breast and stuff with this mixture.
  4. Dredge in the flour mixture and then brown on all sides in a mixture of olive oil and 1 tbsp. of butter. Transfer to an ovenproof baking dish.
  5. Add another tbsp of olive oil and of butter to the saute pan. Add enough of the flour mixture to make a roue. Cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes to thicken.
  6. Make sure the pan is not too hot and then add enough chicken broth to the roue to make a nice sauce. Add a drop or two of Kitchen Bouquet for color and flavor. Add the spinach and tomato mixture. Season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper.
  7. Pour over the prepared chicken breasts and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the juices run clear.

I have served this flavorful dish with couscous and steamed broccoli.

I cook without really measuring anything, so I apologize for the vague measurements. As my hubbie say, "Nothing every comes out the same twice."


Enjoy! And this is an all time record: 3 posts in one day. I need some wheels!

Mail and SAL #6--Evening or North Star variation

The mailman brought something other than bills and junk mail yesterday. First, I received Maple Leaf Blocks for the exchange I am participating in at Small Quilt Talk. I am a hostess for the group.

Second, a pattern from my friend, Kimber, at Heirlooms by Ashton House. I was so excited I just had to make one up. I am sans transportation, so I will have to wait until tomorrow to get some black seed beads to replace the pins, but isn't it adorable. Great gift idea with the holidays around the corner! Her easy to follow pattern is available for purchase at her blog, where you can email her your request. And this morning's cup of coffee produced the next block in the SAL--Evening or North Star Variation. You will find the instructions here.


Now for the 'word of the block.' As I venture far and wide in blogland, I have discovered that generosity, creativity and concern for others is ubiquitous among quilters. It just confirms my belief that quilters are some of the kindest, most sharing individuals you will ever meet.


Two days ago I decided to add a visitor counter to my blog. When I first started my blog, I was so focused on the number of followers I had. I bet I checked hourly for new ones and sighed when no one came. While reading a post at Quilting Daze, she pointed out that many people visit blogs without ever leaving a mark. So I decided to see just how much action came my way. I started my counter at 0100. In less than 48 hours, I have had over 300 visitors. I wonder where they all come from and whether they find anything of interest to them. So I will not worry about the # above my followers gadget anymore. What I like is the comments. Beware what you ask for! I get a maximum of about 8 comments with every post and try to reply to each one. What would it be like if all 300 visitors had left comments--Yikes, mayhem.

Another giveaway to report and some blogs to mention!

Linda over at Stray Stitches is having a giveaway. A very generous one at that! 4 yds of the fabric you see below, a 1/2 yd of each. A great collection for any stash! I am entering, how about you? Her button is on my sidebar, so go take a visit. And I realized that not every blog I follow and read is on my sidebar. So here are a few of them I have found recently that I really enjoy and why:


Valerie at The Wooden Acorn does some great things with wool.


Another great Australian blog comes from Elyte at Tea, fabric and other things.

Robyn just posted a great picture of a wonderful scrappy quilt and I love the clothes she makes for her daughter. Find her at Robyn's Nest.


Libby has a great blog for photography and fabric arts. Visit her at Paper Napkin Poetry.


Primitive Betty's is a great place to pick up free patterns for needle punch embroidery and cross stitching.

Carolyn over at Lee Prairie Designs has some great patterns.If any of these fellow bloggers would like to accept the Versatile Blogger award, I am passing it on. So grab the picture and post it on your sidebar and tell us 7 things we need to know about you. Then pass it on if you want.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SAL # 5-- Cubed Lattice, an Award and a Prize

Linda over at Stray Stitches has passed on the following award to me. I am supposed to list 7 things people should know about me and then nominate 12 other blogs.

First the 7 things you should know about me and don't already?:
  1. I married my high school sweetheart and we have been married for 35 years.
  2. I have two adult children and a granddog.
  3. I was born and raised in Northern California and was lucky enough to spend most of my summers as a child at Donner Lake.
  4. We love to take vacations on our bicycles, and I have cycled Italy, Ireland and France.
  5. I am a scuba diver and wanted to be Jacques Cousteau's protege.
  6. I have degrees in Biological Science and Nursing, and practiced as a CCRN in the ICU for 15 years.
  7. I have been teaching quilt piecing now for about 6 years.

I am not one for passing things forward, unless it is a good deed or act of kindness. I really do play nicely with others, I just feel awkward doing this part of the award. So thank you Linda and visit all the blogs listed on my sidebar. I love them all.

I have become a special fan of a new blog I follow, Heartspun Quilts by Pam Buda. I won her pincushion giveaway and will post about it again when it arrives.

The next block in my sew-along has been posted here. It is 'Cubed Lattice.' While searching for patterns of 4" blocks, I stumbled on this one at an online site. I liked the optical illusion it created and decided to draft it as our next block. The 'big' word for this block was hard to find. No new challenges from followers! So the last word came from my oldest, so this one will be from my youngest child's first name. Again, Webster's New World Dictionary only has 5 1/2 pages of words starting with the letter K. I love to say katydid, believe in karma, wonder what do they wear under a kilt, but chose the word kinship. It is the word for the close connection I feel with other quilters, especially those I have been lucky enough to surround myself with.