Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A little cooking time…..

On Monday I decided to use a couple of Butternut Squash that we had received in our weekly vegetable box.

I started out by sautéing some chopped onion, potato and carrot in a few tablespoons of butter…..

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I read about cooking the squash in the microwave and found it super easy to do.  I placed the cut squash in about 1/2 inch of water and microwaved them for about 12 minutes…..

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The squash was hot but the flesh was SO easy to remove from the hard shell….

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I added the Squash to the vegetable pot, covered with it Chicken Stock and seasoned with Cayenne Pepper, Salt and Black Pepper, and Simmered for about 40 minutes…..

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After blending, the soup was dipped into a bowl and served with a dollop of sour cream……

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SOOOO yummy!!!!   We REALLY need to make more soups!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Luncheon Fun

On Saturday I was invited to have lunch with several friends at Linda’s house.  I had been told that she did amazing decorations and I was not disappointed.DSC01247

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Even if some of them were a little gross…..

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She had lots of Halloween inspired foods prepared, including some “finger foods”…..

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….LOVE the black fingernails!!!

There were also lots of fun animals present, including chocolate covered Oreo Cookie frogs…….

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……Peanut butter cup spiders……

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and Spider Web Cupcakes……

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After lunch, Linda brought out beading supplies……

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…..to make a Christmas spider to sit on my Christmas tree…..

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SUCH A FUN AFTERNOON!!!!

Thank you Good Witch Linda!!!!DSC01244

Saturday, October 26, 2013

“Why don’t you???”

 

Just after we moved into this house, I built a design wall to go in my studio, very happy that it was about 24 inches wider than the one in my old house.  

As I have been working on my queen size Australian fabric quilt, I commented to my husband that I wish my wall was a little bit wider.  He then uttered those wonderful words…..”Why don’t you make it wider so that it goes behind the door?”…..DUH!!!!

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So, yesterday I bought the needed supplies, and this morning Michael helped me to put it in place….

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Now I have LOTS more room to work…..

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What would I do without my hubby?????

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A bump in the quilt planning

I have been continuing to work on the Australian Fabric quilt and “thought” that I had planned my border and was basically ready to finish it up…..NOT!!!

My plan was to put a narrow border around the center section and then add 10 inch blocks around the outside.  These blocks were going to be curve pieced just as the smaller ones had been.

I spent a good deal of time going thru the leftover Aussie  fabrics and looking for ones that would allow me to cut another large block…..12 inches to start with.   Since many of the fabrics that I had were only fat quarters or half-yard cuts, I had to be very careful with the cutting process. 

Since I wanted to use the Aboriginal designed fabrics for the binding, I decided to go ahead and make a long cut from each of the fabrics as well.

Additionally, I wanted to use up as much of the fabrics as I could so was planning to put any leftovers on the back of the quilt.  I started cutting these pieces at the same time.

THEN…..

I started piecing the large border blocks, but they looked horrible…..

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I felt that it just made everything look muddled!!

So, the first thing that I tried was to change the inner border to a brighter fabric and that helped some…..

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….but not enough.  So, I went downstairs to eat lunch and think about it a little.

As I thought, I started wondering if the problem wasn’t that there was too much movement in the blocks and that they were simply too big.  I went back upstairs and started folding the big blocks down so that there was only one curve in each….

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Now I was getting somewhere!!!

Since I didn’t have a lot of fabric left at this point, I knew that I was going to have to cut down these blocks so that I could use them as well.

It was a bit difficult to do, but I tried to get at least 7-1/2 inches out of each block.

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On some I even went to the trouble of re-pressing the seam allowance to give me that extra 1/8th of an inch…..DSC01206

In this block, the stripe was too large so I cut it down and re-pieced it to be smaller……

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So, as of quitting time, it was looking much better and I am more encouraged about the border…..

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I am thinking that I will place the blocks so that the stripe continues around the quilt, but will decide that once I have them all pieced

 

On an aside, I was really wanting to use the Indian fabric that had been bleeding in my last post, so I decided to see if I could wash it out.   After THREE hot water rinsings, the water looked like this….

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…..and after 15 or so rinsings, it looked like this……..

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I am still conflicted about whether or not to use it for the inside border, but will get there and see…..

Friday, October 18, 2013

Piecing those pesky curves

 

I have been enjoying working on a quilt that I first posted about in May.   I had pieced a few blocks back then but hadn’t gotten any further….

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Last week, I started making more blocks and adding them to the design wall, but it just didn’t look right.  I finally realized that the curves all had to go in the same direction.   Much better……

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I have had a lot of fun piecing the blocks and have found them to be fairly easy to do.   I was trying to figure out how to describe the piecing process, but decided instead to do a video.  Here goes…..

Piecing those pesky curves

 

I taped this several times to pick which one I liked best and realized that in one of them, my daughter’s dog (Marley) was photo-bombing me!!…..

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After each curve was stitched, I spritzed it with water and then ironed it flat. 

The final step was to cut the block down to a 7-1/2 inch square.  There were a few that weren’t quite big enough, but I was able to add bits of fabric here and there to make it work.

I then put them all up on the wall…..

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As I looked it over, I realized that there were a few blocks that stood out too much, such as this gold one…..

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I pulled two such blocks and added another stripe in a different fabric to tone them down.

Finally, I knew that I wanted to add some accent pieces across the quilt so started adding small strips of red fabrics….

DSC08866Then I noticed that there were bits of red color on my ironing board cover…..

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Uh-oh….something isn’t color-fast!!!!    The offending fabric was a piece that I had bought in India and was one of my favorites……DSC08869

….but I couldn’t afford to leave it in the quilt, so I cut them out and replaced with other fabrics.

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At this point, I need to decide what borders to use.  I am thinking about using larger blocks that are also pieced in curves but to have the curves moving around the quilt.

More fun to follow…….

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FINISHED!!!!

 

Way back on September 13, 2009, I posted about the start of a project…..

I then posted again on March 31, 2010 about the next step in the process……

On April 11, 2010 I posted about making the back and getting it basted…..

Finally, on July 24, 2011, I wrote about the quilting designs that I had picked…..

 

Notice that the dates have ranged over a period of 2 years.  NOW, over TWO years later (4 years since I started), I have finished the quilt!!!

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I am pleased with how the Mandala patterns look quilted in the alternating blocks…..

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the outside border, but thought that I wanted to do more flowers.  I eventually decided to work with a vine of flowers and leaves…..

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The first ones that I did were pretty simple and straight forward, but as I worked around the border, I became more adventurous and my flowers became stranger and stranger, but lots of fun!!!

I started the border by using the walking foot to quilt an undulating line around the entire border.  When I got back to the beginning, I switched to a darning foot and re-stitched the vine, adding flowers here and there.   At first I put X’s where the flowers were going to be, but after doing one side, I decided to just go with the flow.

The back was made from leftover fabrics as well…..

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This quilt will now go into a closet next to my favorite chair and will become my “go-to” quilt when I want to snuggle under something!!!!

It is SO good to have finally finished this old friend!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stopping to catch my breath…..

One of my friends said the other day that she felt like I had dropped off of the grid over the last few weeks, so thought that I should let you know what I have been up to….

The last 3-1/2 years of our life have been absolutely chaotic.  Mind you, I am not complaining, but it has just been busy.  After we returned from Texas back in August, I was determined to get my life caught up and to, as quickly as possible, take care of all of the stuff that I brought back from my Mom’s house.  I have done well with this and look forward to writing some posts about some of the stuff and the history behind it……it has really been interesting.

Also, for many years now I have been wanting to get all of my photos organized. The digital ones are in good shape as I am very good about putting them in folders on my computer and then saving them to numerous devices and places, but there were still a bunch of areas that needed attention……

Fore example,  I did scrapbooks while my kids were in school, but the earlier ones were done on the horrible sticky sheets or on computer paper where the photos were stuck on with tape.  I knew that these really needed to be transferred to an acid free environment.

Also, for many years I have been trying to get all of our negatives and slides digitized so that I can stop the degrading process now. 

Finally, I brought back 5 BIG boxes of photos and history stuff from my Mom’s house and my plan has been to digitize it as well.

SO…..we get to September 28th…..the day that Michael left to spend 12 days in Western Australia and the day that I turned my house into photo heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it).

During the past 11 days I have worked on scrapbooks, scanned photos, organized negatives and just generally had a good “clean-out” of some of our junk!!!  I am no where near finished, but at least things are organized in such a manner that I could easily pick something up and spend an hour on it and eventually get it all done……ie…..it is not NEARLY as overwhelming now!!!

Now these days have not been spent entirely on photos….. I have enjoyed several quilting group meetings, coffee with a lovely friend from India, a “spa day” with my daughter, and several days of “nothing but fabric”!!!!

I have finished up two UFO’s which I will post about soon and have also been working on my Australian Fabric quilt that I talked about back in May.  I will do a long post about it, but here is a teaser photo of the center section……

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More posts soon…..I promise!!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Applique the Frances way……

I have had the privilege of sitting under two different master Appliquer’s in the last month and it was eye-opening to see the techniques that each one employed.

But, it has even been more fun to figure out what my personal technique would be.   Because of the close proximity of these two classes, I have been able to adopt the parts of each technique that I like best and leave the others behind.

I am loving the way that Becky Goldsmith holds the needle and does her applique, but I am not as happy with the needle turn process.

On the other hand, I really like using freezer paper to prepare the applique’s as Linda Cantrell suggested, but I didn’t like using glue to hold the applique pieces in place.

SO…..I am preparing with freezer paper (ala Linda Cantrell), placing on the background using a Clear Vinyl pattern (ala Becky Goldsmith).

Interestingly, I spent a couple of minutes online tonight and found two more wonderful tips for applique.

The first was posted today by Leah Day and concerns attaching large pieces to a background.  She suggests placing the pieces on the background and then machine stitching around them using a wash-out thread.   That way there will be no shifting when you do the hand or machine applique work.

The second hint was on a You-tube video from Connecting Threads  (link is here).  The thing that I learned from this video is to iron the freezer paper template to the front of the fabric first and use that as the pattern to cut out the fabric.  You then peel the pattern off of the front and place it on the back of the fabric so that you can iron the edges over the shiny side of the freezer paper.

Not sure that those descriptions are all that great, but check out the links.

And, since I cant post  this without at least one photo….here is the applique piece that I am currently working on……

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