Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

I am a big one for making lists - grocery lists, to do lists, lists of quilts I've made and of quilts I would like to make. So that I am working on a list of New Year's resolutions isn't a surprise to anyone who knows me!

I will not bore you with the lose weight, walk more, be better about taking my meds stuff and just focus on the Quilting and travel "fun" stuff.

First - organize my quilting and sewing room. OK, this has been on my list every years since I first started quilting. Lets just say it is a process! I am planning however clear out the fabrics I have no plan on using in the next two years and donate it. I also want to finally clear out some craft things that I don't want to pack up and move back to the U.S. again. When we go back to the U.S. my DH has consented to my having the largest of the spare bedrooms to use for my quilting room. This gives me a much larger closet which I can fit out with shelves for my fabric.

Second - Try new things. I feel like I have stagnated a bit in the past year. I am cruising the internet and my piles of books and magazines to make a list of some new techniques or projects for the new year. I'm going to start with improving my machine quilting....

Third - Make the best use of the last year I have here in England. That is right. It looks like we will be going back to the states at the end of this year. So all the trips I have been putting off and all the folks I want to to visit I have to do soon!

Fourth - Simplify. If I don't use it or love it I will pack it away. If I don't miss it by the time we leave for the states than I will get rid of it. This extends to the large piles of recipes, home decorating idea pages, and paint chips!

Notice what is not on the list this year - finishing projects. (That usually follows cleaning the sewing room.) I'm accepting this as a non-finish/play year. I don't want to use up time working on projects I am no longer excited about just because they are half done. I think I will be more careful with my time and focus it on things I really want to do.

I was asked for the Bourbon Apple Pecan Bread recipe so here goes....

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large or 6 small peeled, cored, and chopped apples scuh as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
1-1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and set aside.

Mix 3-3/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a large bowl cream together brown sugar, sugar, eggs, oil, bourbon, and vanilla.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir until just mixed.

Crush apples with a masher or place in a food processor and pulse several times.

Mix raisins and pecans with remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl. Add apples, raisins, and pecans to batter and stir until blended. (Don't over-mix or the bread will be tough.) Divide into the two pans and bake in center or oven for 50-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes before removing from pans.

Serve with cream cheese sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.

(I apologize for not siting which magazine this came was in the middle of the ripped pages that I mentioned earlier in my resolutions! It could be an old Country Living or Home Companion?! Who knows!)

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Well I am back from the states and slowly recovering from the holidays. Didn't realize how tired I was until I woke up in my own bed with a very angry cat staring me in the face and a persistent terrier throwing himself against the bed demanding his morning walk. It is good to be home.

I didn't get to travel as much around New England because of snow...lots of snow! I did get to Scituate which is where I took the photo above of the lighthouse. It is one of my favorite towns in Massachusetts. The photo below is the view towards the lighthouse from the town pier.
I didn't get any sewing done at all. At one point during a lull in the storms I did venture out to a yarn store and pick up a crochet hook and some yarn just to have something to do with my hands! You can only make so many batches of cookies before you need a fabric/craft fix!

I also stayed home to spend time with my Mom. She turns 88 this year! I think she liked having the Christmas Eve party at her house again this year. It is easier for her than traveling to one of my sisters's houses. The photo is of her and her great-grandson Kai sitting together on Christmas Eve.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a preparing for a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas notes

I love the holidays but I do tend to over-do it. The past week I have been cooking, cleaning, traveling, and attending holiday events like a crazy person. I took yesterday and today off to try and rest up for my flight back to the states Wednesday.

My choral group sang on Sunday at the Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham. It is a beautiful Regency style building. There were two new members so I ended up having to make more capes this year. As usual I put it off until the last minutes ...literally. I was hemming the last cape as I drank my Sunday morning coffee!

I have made dozens of cookies this past week. My mint chocolate chip, lemon sugar, spice, coconut biscotti, and toffee cookies were loaded into bags and given out to neighbors this week. Somehow I also gained 3 pounds! The photo on the top is a loaf (prior to slicing for second baking) of my favorite biscotti. My family calls it California holiday biscotti. Here's the recipe.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons aniseed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup whole shelled pistachios
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
egg wash

Beat butter in a mixing bowl for 30 seconds. add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir together eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat into butter mixture. Beat in the flour until stiff. Stir in the anise, fennel seeds, cranberries, pistachios and apricots. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured board and lightly knead in the remaining flour. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until easy to handle.

Divide mixture into thirds. Shape each into a log 1-1/2 by 12 inches long. Place the logs 3-inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Pat each log to 3/4-inch thick. Brush with egg wash (one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water.) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool for at least one hour. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Place cookie logs on a cutting board. Cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place vertically on a cookie sheet; bake for 5-8 minutes.

I did finish a couple of table runners as Christmas gifts. I was so tired I forgot to take photos before I wrapped them!

I just started reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. I really enjoyed his first book The Kite Runner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lights are back on!

Well after several days of intermittent power outages it seems as if we are all fixed now...I'll know better after a good rain! I've been able to plug in the computer and the sewing machine. Life is almost back to normal...

I finished a Christmas tote bag. The photo is at the top. It worked up quickly and I used it already when we visited the local Christmas market this past weekend. I still want to add a hook to put my keys on but that can be done later.

I've started making my Christmas coconut biscotti and peanut butter shortbread. I'm still a bit tired from Thanksgiving so it is a slow start. As you can see in the photo below Macbeth, my official floor cleaner, got a bit tired out by turkey three. I tried a new recipe yesterday - Bourbon Apple Pecan Bread! Really good. I brought it to Choral practice last night. The recipe either came from Country Living or Home Companion. It was in my 'try it someday' pile of recipe cuttings but didn't look very old (some are a bit yellow around the edges!) I love bread recipes that make two loaves. It makes it feel like less work somehow when you have so much to show for the effort!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What is it about me and water...

Sorry I have been off-line for a bit. We are having electrical/water problems at our house right now and my DH was adamant about not plugging in the computer until it was all settled. It was a very long process but I am happy to say we now have gone almost 20 hours without the switches flipping in the control box...keep your fingers crossed!

So this is my 200th post! It took a bit longer than I expected to get this one up there. The winner of the 200th post package is (drum roll) Dawn! Congrats. The librarian helped me out by pulling the name out of a paper-bag...not very classy but it worked.

I have not been quilting too much this past week. I cooked three turkeys - one for each of the Thanksgiving meals we were invited to. (Mac is one happy dog...he does a great job of cleaning the floor when I am carving turkey!) On top of it all I got my flu shot last week. It hasn't been too bad but all of the MS symptoms have sort of been tugging on the peripheral...problems with my eyes, cramps in my legs...yada, yada, yada. More frustrating than painful to be honest. It does make sewing tough though. Hopefully next post I will my quilted bag finished.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Post 199!

I was looking through my quilt room last night trying to figure out what to put together for my 200th posting "prize." (don't worry I am out of gurgling cods....) I think I finally have something that just about anyone would like - fabric! So if you comment on this post before Monday morning (England time!) I will put you into the drawing! What could be easier than that!

Now this will be primarily a post about cats...Italian cats, Greek cats and Turkish cats. Though to be honest they all pretty much meow'd alike! The cats in Turkey seemed to be so accustomed to Tourists they posed on the ruins! The ones on the islands were friendly but harder to catch with the camera. Wasn't it nice of this one to point out the mosaics for me!!

The white cat above followed us all around the monastery at Patmos. I feel a med-cat quilt coming on.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home again....

It is a statement on a vacation when you are as happy as I am this morning to be home again! My DH and I took a cruise around the med this past week. Between the rough seas, canceled excursions, not so great food (on an Italian ship!!!), and a missed flight home it wasn't the vacation we though it would be!

We did have some good days though! We visited Patmos and toured the cave where St John was exiled. The photo of me at the top of this post was taken outside the cave. That evening we had a great meal in Mykonos.

I really liked the tour of Ephesus in Turkey. The ruins were amazing and the tourguides very organized and able to handle the crowds well. The cats or course were very well photographed. They may require a post all their own! My DH was getting a bit aggravated with me since I stopped every time I glimpsed a feline...which in the ruins is often!

OK, I added just one of the many cat photos. This kitten looked so much like my Brownie that I couldn't help but slip her a few treats. (After Patmos I thought to wrap up some fish from breakfast in a plastic bag so I had something to give the cats...DH claims that is why they followed me all around the site...could be right!)

After Izmir the weather turned nasty. Really nasty! Fortunately I travel with a small pharmacy in my bag so I was able to stay ahead of the sea sickness! The dining room was half empty the next two evenings so I think I was one of the lucky ones!

We arrived at our final port in Rome about an hour late. It was the worst disembarkation I have ever experienced on a cruise! No information and it took forever. We ended up missing out flight home by about 20 minutes! We couldn't get on another flight until the next day so we got a hotel and took the metro into the city. We did a bit of sight-seeing and got a really good Italian meal (finally!) We were both tired though and by the next day we were happy to be home!

While on vacation I finished The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. It was a very interesting read. The first 50 pages or so are rough but once you get into the story it holds up well. It is a murder mystery set in New York circa 1909 and uses Sigmund Freud as a central character. If you like any of E.L. Doctorow's novels or Devil in the White City (can't remember the author) then you would like this book.

Today I get back to quilting. It will feel good!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The continuation of the Gurgling Cod....

This morning it was cold and foggy...tonight it is cold and foggy but I digress. My DH and I got up early to hit the weekly boot sale in hopes of finally finding a gurgling cod for his co-worker. By the time we had walked down one aisle we were both frozen. It was getting colder instead of warmer as the sun came up (if it ever came up today?) So we split up with a plan to meet back at the donut van in 45 minutes. He went to the back of the parking lot to work backwards and I continued on my route. Within 5 minutes of his leaving - bamm - a medium green medium size cod! With that in my bag I then had 40 minutes to buy important things like buttons and an old singer gadget. When I got to the donut van there was my DH triumphantly waving a bag...he had a dark green medium size cod!!! We must have hit a school of them! Anyway, these end the search and hopefully meet all our "cod obligations." (if this totally confuses you see my post from about 2 weeks ago!)

I was trying to post photos but my blog connection isn't cooperating. More later!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


As expected I still have a lot of Halloween candy left over. I am amazed how polite the children were last night. I told one group they could take more and the little vampire replied, "my Mum says we are not to be greedy." I tossed a few more candies in his bag.

The remainder of the candy went into work with my DH today. I started losing my diet resolve last night and don't need the temptation on the sideboard! I'm going to wait a few days before taking down the decorations. I don't really have Thanksgiving decorations and my Dh complains if I put up my Christmas decorations too early....(though I can't get him to define what too early really is!)

Today is a clean the house day...yikes. I also have to box up some Christmas gifts that have to be mailed half-way around the world. Ever feel like your to-do list is multiplying all on its own! If I dont' get some of it done however I can't go to the quilt show tomorrow up in Malvern tomorrow (incentive!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

World Series and Halloween all in one week!

You have to say for someone who is a fan of both baseball and Halloween this a good week. Change that to Red Sox and Halloween and it is a great week!!

We again got up early to watch a tape delayed version of the final game of the World Series. It was a really good game. There were lots of moments that I though the Rockies were going to pull it out and go on to another game. No one could have predicted how the rookies on the Sox were going to step up the plate and contribute the way they did. It was crazy and exciting.

Now on to Halloween and quilting....I made a quick Halloween table runner this week. I used the disappearing 9-patch technique. I apologize for not remembering whose blog I saw that on - it is a fun and quick technique...I really did finish the top in a few hours! By the way it isn't as wonky in real life as the photo - both Macbeth and the cats thought I should be taking photos of them and kept jumping onto the quilt! To take this one I had to throw the ball across the room and take the photo before he had a chance to get back to the you can see it was close!

The other Halloween quilt is one I finished last year with little witches on it. I love the blue fabric with the eyes. I think I may have used the last of it this year. Isn't it funny how some fabrics seem to just last and last. I don't think I bought more than a yard or so of it but it is in at least four quilts that I can think of!
I hang this quilt near my front door so at least the trick-or-treaters can see a bit of it. I think I may have overdone it on the candy...I would pick up a bit each time I went to the store and didn't realize how it all added up until I pulled out the Halloween bowl and filled it this weekend. I have enough to fill it three times over!

I have started working on a Christmas bag. I haven't made a lot of bags but have put aside a lot of a project-bags (these are platic bags with the fabric to make a bag!) At some point I needed to dive in and get going so wish me luck! I may even finish a few projects this that would really make it special!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Go Redsox!!!!

It is amazing what sports fans will do to stay up with their teams. This morning my DH and I got up at 0600 to watch a taped copy of the Red Sox vs. Indians baseball championship game. It was a great game but it just isn't the same watching baseball with coffee and shredded wheat instead of beer and a hotdog...ah well, at least the Red Sox won!!!

We went on a long walk/ramble this weekend up in the Cotswold hills. Each time we do this I am amazed how beautiful it is in this part of England. I'm still a bit nervous walking through fields of cows and sheep (I'm not afraid of the sheep but I worry about scaring them!) The cow in the photos was such a prima-dona. She "posed" for all the silly Americans taking photos then followed us to the gate! The rest of the herd moved to the top of the hill when they heard us coming over the gate.

I got to play with my new camera. As usual I play with it first and then read the directions. I do the same thing with new software...I think it is how I learn best but it drives my DH batty! The flower and bee photo at the left uses a "flower" setting which is just that a tiny flower- now how hard it that to figure out without a book!!

Today I am going to play in my Halloween fabrics. I should clean house but I just don't feel like it! Maybe I will clean one room and then let myself play!

I also need to come up with something fun for my 200th post...I can't believe I have written that much. Watch this space for an anniversary give away...don't know what it will be!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Playing with strips

I pulled out some of my half-finished bright strippy blocks last night. I thought it could be a quick finish...of course I had to complicate it!

I had a panel with these funny bight cats on it. Originally I was planning on just quilting it up for a quick baby quilt...of course I had to complicate it...

Through the magic of hoarding, procrastination, and piles of fabric strips I took took quick and easy projects and made one fiddly quilt. It is a talent!

I hope to finish it up tonight so I can go back to my scrap quilt. It is a bit hectic...brights on one table and reproduction fabric on another.

A couple of bloggers have asked how to identify civil war fabrics. When I started out collecting quilts I was given the best piece of advice - visit museums and read as many antique quilt books as you can find. Now there is another resource that I would add to that list - It lets you view quilts from several major collections and state surveys via the internet. You can narrow your search to whatever date range or type of quilt you are interested in studying. (just make sure you have a big cup of coffee when you start...there is a lot to look at!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Firkin Woolen Mills

Yesterday I had to drive to Fairford to pick up DH's prescriptions so I treated myself to a side trip to Firkin Woolen Mills. Their fabrics are so beautiful! It makes me wish I had paid more attention when my sister tried to teach me to make clothing. I did treat myself to a scarf and picked up a couple as Christmas presents. The clothing they have on sale there is really nice but with the really weak dollar I have to think twice about it...maybe later!

They also had some wonderful blankets...the colors on the household side were both traditional and a bit funky. They even used wool fabrics to upholster some furniture (I think I've seen that in a Ralph Lauren collection too) which looked very warm - it was a cold and rainy day so it was very inviting. Not sure how it would stand up to two cats and a terrier though!

They also have a wool museum there that is worth a look. I love how these bright colored yarns are on the old wooden equipment! There is also a little coffee shop there with some fun paintings on the wall. The folks working there were very nice. All and all a good stop and I am fairly sure I will go back again with other Americans in tow!

Afterwards I stopped at a couple more antique/collector shops in my hunt for the gurgling cod. No luck. This has become a bit of a Holy Grail search! Anyway the hunt will continue for a few weeks and it I don't find one the two I have will go to our friend. She really helped us out a lot when our bags were stolen in Barcelona.

A got a few emails about the Kate Greenaway book I mentioned a few postings are a few photos from it. I'm not sure if I will be able to conserve/restore the book. The binding is in really bad shape and there is some water damage on the back pages. If not, I will take it apart and frame up the pages. The halloween/witch page is not what I normally think of as a KG drawing but I really like it!!! It would go nicely with my raven and blackbird prints!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dilemma of the Gurgling Cod

The title of this post sounds more like a Sherlock Holmes story...and in a way it is becoming one! A few weeks ago I brought an American woman who works with my husband to her first auction. She told me she was looking for a "gurgling cod." Now the first thing that jumped to my mind was those battery operated singing fish that were popular a few Christmas's ago...I'm glad I didn't say anything! When we got to the auction she pointed out a ceramic jug shaped like a fish that in fact makes gurgling noises when you pour water out of it. (Note: I had to learn how to spell gurgling just for this post!)

The next weekend my DH and I go to the bootsale at the racecourse. (It is a great place to buy plants...ok, I admit to going there for the doughnuts but I've already confessed that in earlier posts!) As we wandered around we saw 4 gurgling cods! They were only a couple of pounds so I bought two. When I got home and washed them up I really liked the off white one and decided to hold onto the green one for a Christmas gift.

Now the dilemma.....My DH goes to work and tells his coworkers. He had failed to tell me that another coworker (who has been very good to us) had also asked him to find a cod. CW1 (the one that went to the auction) immediately laid claim to the green cod, assuming that I bought it for her. CW2, the one that has helped us out, said she would like the green cod. So this weekend we went cod hunting. Of course if you want to find something at a boot sale it will not be me. After scouring boot sales and local antique shops we came up with one small cod. Here is the dilemma - it looks great with the off-white one. I think it would be a shame to split them up. So I either find yet another cod or give the pair to CW2 (not knowing if these are the type she likes or not?! Which would be a shame since I like these better than the fancy ones!) Yikes.

On the quilting front (this is a quilting blog after all) I finished a baby quilt! I couldn't post it in-process in case the recipient logged onto the blog. Several members of the quilt group made the blocks and I put it together and quilted it. I put the binding on the night before the baby shower. (finished is better than perfect...finished is better than perfect.....) All and all a busy weekend.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Flog it! Filming

Yesterday was the "big auction day" down in Cirencester with the Flog It" TV team. It was much more stressful than I expected it to be! (that may have had something to do with my wearing a suit and high-heels for the first time in over a year...but I digress.) The answer to the big question - yes the quilt sold (phew) and it sold right at mid-estimate (my reputation is safe!) The "hammer price" was 130 pounds which comes to about 260 $US. I sold some fabric and excess scissors fobs at my last quilt meeting which should cover the auction house commission so I will send $260 to the MS society. The photo is of me (looking very pale and chubby) next to the TV show expert Charley. He hardly ever looks as serious as he does in this photo...does this mean I never look so chubby - no such luck!

Today I am planning to get a few more Halloween decorations out... I made the little wall hanging on the left a few years ago. I had a box of ceramic Halloween buttons that I loved but didn't see myself wearing. I just made a little quilt to fit in the frame and sewed the buttons onto it. More Halloween to come!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Room Box almost done

The fog is so dense this morning I could barely see MacBeth at the end of the leash! A good day to stay in and finish a quilt or make another table for my mini Tudor kitchen. Yes, the walls are up and the "historically accurate" electricity is working! I've finished a chair, bench and table. It is starting to look lived in. Since I took the class near Stratford-on0Avon I am going to make a couple of actors to hang out there (note the tiny tankards are already there waiting for them.) I love the aging process for these minis - lots of "mucky water." A far cry from keeping my hands and workspace clean while sewing!

I've started pulling out my Halloween decorations. My pumpkins are on the steps already...I'm the first in the village but that is OK with me. I put out a bowl of chocolate eyes and fingers on the sideboard (very popular with little boys! Also popular with some DH grabbed a handful on his way out the door this morning!)

Tonya is a bit Halloween-sick. Not a lot of decorations up for this holiday in Paris so I am going to post lots of Halloween photos the next few weeks. Maybe I will even pull out the half made Quilt witch I started a decade or so ago and finish her! Now that would be magic!

I have a niece and nephew who have birthdays on either side of Halloween. I made one Halloween quilt for them but feel like I should make another (sharing a quilt isn't much fun.) The quilt is in the photo below. It was a really quick one to make. I need to start another project well...I can't think of an appropriate finish to that sentence but you know what I mean! I just don't need to right now. I need a finish...mainly I need to finish a baby quilt for a shower this weekend (I work best under deadlines - for that read pressure!) I also need to get my hair cut today...I'd much rather stay home and sew...ah, well what we do for fashion....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This and That

The past few weeks have flown by! Dh has been sick which makes everything more complicated...he is doing better and went to work today so I can take a breather! Also we have been having problems with out internet connection...this morning we finally get a call back from BT broadband and of course the computer is working fine and the tech help barely speaks English and I don't speak "Edward's" language so I can't explain the problem....uggggh.

First, the "E" Quilt blocks belong to one of the members of my Fairford group. They were made by members of her family for her father when he was born! (His initials were EE!) She was home last month and a relative gave them to her to finish. I know I just saw this pattern somewhere on the ring but can't remember. Funny how you don't see a pattern for years and suddenly - there are two within a few weeks on opposite sides of the world!

Next, I have almost finished my Tudor mini-room. Here is the fireplace and the walls drying out. I've already sketched out a second floor. We visited Shrewsbury this weekend (finally) and I found myself taking lots of photos of timber buildings for inspiration. (Shrewsbury is a great shopping town! Lots of fun, funky stores. I need to go back without my DH!) Since I am a huge Cadfael fan we visited the Abbey. Not what I had pictured in my mind but still beautiful. While we were there the organist started practicing which made me feel like my Dad was with me (he was our church's organist.)

Part of our trip to Shrewsbury was for me to play with my new camera! DH gave me my Christmas present early...a Nikon D40. It is a lot of fun but also a lot to learn. Exciting though!
On the quilting front...I finished a baby quilt top this week and am trying to finish another. I feel very behind right now....what is that saying "the faster I go the behinder I get."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Miniature Class...

I spent the last three days in a miniature class with the folks from Gandads Playroom. They are retiring this year so this was their last class. I made a Tudor kitchen roombox with a large "working" fireplace. I learned a lot. I'll post a photo soon.

The cottage the classes were held at is beautiful. Close to Stratford-on-Avon the houses on the drive there gave me lots of inspiration for the work each day. The photo on the left is of one of the "traffic" jams I got into on the way home! I love pheasants but boy are they stupid! I had to get out of the car and chase them off the road! Since they don't have flight feathers yet they would have just continued walking in front of the car for I don't know how long!

I have continued working on my Mile a Minute...that has become more like the Big Dig in Boston (maybe I could blame it on the pheasants?) Anyway, I took some advice and added some larger strips to the off-size blocks. I also added the large half square trianges to make a sort of medallion center to give it a bit of structure. It is now about 32 inches across. I think I like it. I've started the next row...not sure how big I will really make is getting heavy quickly! It is continuing to be fun and I guess that is the important thing!
My Dh is back from his extended business trip. I was able to get most of the house in order before he walked through the door...not a minor feat (the cleaning not the walking!)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two top finish

My Dh is coming home on Monday so today was final quilting day is today...tomorrow I clean!

I put the final border on my Rose Sampler quilt. I am only putting the brown secondary border on the top and bottom of the quilt. I found it too brown when I put it the entire way around. (That is my story and I am sticking to it!) Now I have to think about finishing up the Cowgirl sampler quilt. I think I am sampler-ed out for awhile...

I have decided not to put a border on the repro star quilt top. I auditioned a lot of fabrics but didn't find anything that really hit me. I also looked at a lot of photos of quilts from the turn of the century and a lot of them do not have borders...also the one that I based this on didn't have a border.

I like how this came out. It gave me a chance to use a bit of my favorite fabrics all in one quilt. Sort of a fabric memory quilt. This may stay as a top for awhile. There is not bed to put it on here and the tops take much less space! Who knows by the time I quilt it I may find the perfect fabric for a border!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Recipe and daily stuff....

Well MacBeth (my scottish terrier) really did it this time. Last night Brownie (my small brown cat) escaped from the house and a few moments later we heard a loud screeching noise. When I opened our front door MacBeth almost knocked me over as he speed past me. In addtion to the cat's screech I now heard loud growling, yipping and howling. Brownie zoomed out of the bushes and ran into the house. When I picked her up she was wet - I looked at my shirt and there was blood.

So I go rushing into the bushes yelling and waving my "CSI" flashlight (you know the big black one that looks like a lethal weapon!) Anyway, Macbeth comes out all terriered-up but bleeding. I get them both in the back seat of the car and race to the vet hospital. Long story short...MacBeth spent the night and came home with one less tooth and a few stitches (and very proud of himself I may add) while Brownie just needed a few scratches taken care of and some antibiotics.

It was a long night and I did very little sewing today.

On a lighter note...yesterday an American friend brought over a British quilter she knew. I forgot how fun it was to pull out the quilts and do show-and-tell. Lots of fun. A bonus...she makes jams and is willing to show me how to make blackberry jam next week! So after they left I put on my hiking shoes and long sleeved jean jacket (works well against the thorns!) and walked down to my favorite blackberry patch. As you can see in the photo I will be picking here for many weeks to come!

In addition to getting the blackberries I get to visit with the sheep and the cows along the right-of-way. OK not visit...but take their photo from a very long distance! (one of those bad boys is a bull and I don't care how friendly the farmer says he is...that is a big, big bull! or should a venture - a lot of bull!) The hills way off in the background are the Malverns.
I am almost finished the last two rows of the repro quilt top from two posts ago...slow going. Seems like the only squares left are the same fabrics...the fabrics I didn't like well enough to use earlier. I know I shouldn't but I went up to the quilt room and pulled some more fat quarters out to cut a few "nice" fabrics. I can't help myself!!!
Bonnie over at Quiltville was talking about recipies using bananas. Here is my favorite recipe for Hummingbird Cake:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped pecans
3 medium size bananas, mashed
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
in a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separeate blow, mix togter the beaten egg, vegetable oil, vanilla, crushed pineappple with juice and bananas. Fold into the dry ingredients. Add pecans and blend well. Pour mixture into tube pan. Bake for about 45 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz pakg cream cheese, softened
16 ox powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. chopped pecans.
Blend together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well. Use th pecans as garnish.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Time for a lottery ticket

I am one of those people who never win anything. I can't even begin to count how many quilt raffle tickets I have purchased in my life and never have I won so much as a block! So imagine my surprise when I got a call from the local miniature club telling me that I won a doorprize at their show today!

I dabble in miniatures. Every few years of so I get the itch to make a mini sofa, room, or library...I have boxes of almost finishes. This box is great since it is further along than any of my own projects! It is a storefront so I have to figure out what sort of store I want to put in is a bit small for a quilt shop. Maybe hats? A tea store? Decisions....

So this weekend I got 2nd place in the chili cookoff and won a roombox...maybe it is time for that lottery ticket!
Well it appears as if my fabric has grown legs. My DH is away on business so my projects have found their way into every room in the house - including the bathrooms! There is red fabric soaking in the downstairs sink, an ironing board in the hallway, a quilttop laid out on the sofa auditioning border fabric, the island in the kitchen is perfect for cutting fabric, the spare bed has a dozen sampler blocks sorting themselves out, and the stair-railings are draped with long lengths of backing fabrics being paired up with lonely tops. I feel less like a quilter than a fabric dating service. Of course all of this needs to be rounded up and herded back into the official and unofficial sewing rooms before the end of the week. I'll worry about it tomorrow....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2nd Prize Chili

Today I went to an Anglo American picnic. The group gets together every 3 months or so. As part of the entertainment they held a chili cookoff. I entered a rather off-beat New Mexican White Chile (made with chicken and green chilis.) I was very suprised to get second place! (There were ten entries.) My friend Maya got first - well deserved I may add...hers was much more traditional and had a real kick to it!

The quilt above is from some very old blocks. They were won at a state meeting by a member of my guild back in Georgia. She died from breast cancer not long after. Her husband gave the blocks to the guild. Now this all happened before I joined the guild. I was given the blocks to put together into a quilt not long before I moved to England. In the move the blocks were packed into a box with fabric. I found them this week and have almost finished putting them together. I hope to have this done before next week.I just have two more corners and a print border. the bright blue fabric used on the edges is from the Quilt for a Cure Collection. Once the top is done I can mail it back to the states. I may be slow but I get there!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not to be....

Some days no matter how well you plan you feel like just nothing is going to work out...this is one of those days.

Right now I should be quilting in Fairford - a town about an hour from where I live. Last night I packed the car up with my sewing machine, the basket with my projects, a box of books and patterns that I don't want anymore, a folder with directions for a new 12-inch bloock for the group, and a duffle bag stuffed with fabric culled from the shelves of my overstuffed sewing room. The back seat of the car was covered in quilting stuff! I even made a batch of brownies and a Peach Brandy pound Cake and packed them into tins for the group.

This morning I got up early...allowed myself an entire pot of my favorite coffee (friends just came back from the states and brought me a pound of Dunkin Donuts coffee...heaven!) So far I am on target.....

I drove for about 20 minutes...which puts me in the middle of absolute nowhere. The sun was bothering my eyes so I pulled over to get glasses out of the glove compartment. The engine stalled...I turned the key...nothing. No problem - we have towing. I pull out my cell phone and dial the number...nothing. AHGGGGG.

Now why is it I go for walks/rambles across the countryside and love it. Faced with a two mile hike to the closest phone (at the animal park) I get all tense and angry! By the time I got to the phone I was better. A nice farmer gave me a lift back to the car on his three wheeler so I gave him some brownies (at least I knew I wouldn't starve out there....)

My car is now down the local garage...still full of my quilting stuff. I gave the guys at the garage the last of the brownies and walked another couple of miles through the fields home. All this an it isn't even noon yet!!!

We do have another husban's MX-5/Mazda Miata. The problem is that is an american car so the steering wheel is on the wrong side for the UK. My DH acually likes it that way and can't drive my British car...I can't drive his car! I know some folks and jump back and forth but the one thing my DH and I agree on is that neither of us are one of those folks!

So I have all this time to quilt right...wrong! My machine is in the car...both my machines! I told you it was full. So I guess I am destined to spend the day playing in fabric again. Maybe I will cut out a new project or baste a quilt top....

The photos are of a current project. About 5-6 months ago Bonnie showed a vintage quilt on her site. I really like it so have been making half-squares and cutting out 3-1/2 inch squares of repro fabrics. The past fews days put together a few more rows and now am past the halfway mark! I'm really starting to like it again....

The original didn't have a border. I'm debating if I should add one to mine. I generally like borders but am unsure on this one. I guess I have all sorts of time today to audition fabric no?!