Friday, June 28, 2013

The Hidden Garden

I gave myself a little challenge. I had purchased three 1-yard pieces of coordinating fabric at a quilt show a few years ago.  I wanted to make a quilt top with them, and decided to challenge myself with only using those three pieces.  I managed to use just about every thread of each of those fabrics to finish this quilt. It was awesome!

I was kind of a little sick of triangles when I did this top, so the only triangles in this are along the edges.  I was even ready to have a jagged binding on this quilt to avoid triangles, that's how much of a break I was looking for. :)

I created the framed blocks and then decided to create the weave look to connect the framed blocks. I am so happy with how it turned out.  It has a lot of flow and dimension. If I could change anything, I wish I could have made it bigger so the pattern would have more room to develop.

When it came to the quilting, I knew I wanted to do straight stitch for the weave with something on the flower print.  I had a border template with butterflies and decided to practice my template stitching by tracing the butterflies into the flower print of the quilt.

There is something about the warmth of this quilt that I love! I have it hanging on my sewing chair and every time I walk down the hall I get to see it.  I love, love, love that! It would make a great baby girl blanket gift, but for now, it gets to live with me.  Yeah!

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish Friday.  Can't wait to see everyone else's finishes.  Have a great weekend! If you live in the west, like me, stay cool!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Mealtime

I am blogging today about a classic.  I was afraid to try making fettucini alfredo for the longest time because I was sure it was a complicated process with ingredients I didn't have access to.  Flipping through the cookbook, I discovered how simple and straight-forward it really is.
The only trick with this sauce is that it is time sensitive.  You can't mess around once this creamy sauce is ready.  Oh, but add some skillet chicken and broccoli and you have yourself a delicious, quick, and easy meal.

Fettucini Alfredo

1/2 c heavy cream
2 T butter
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper to taste
6 oz fettucini noodles

Cook the noodles to the desired doneness.  Drain and set aside. Put the pan back on the burner and melt the butter. Add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese and heat to a simmer while stirring. If it seems too thick, add more cream.  If it seems to thin, add more parmesan cheese.  It's a very forgiving recipe.  Once it's the desired consistency, add the noodles and stir.  Serve immediately with whatever you would like; broccoli and chicken are our favorites, but it would also taste good with shrimp or sausage. Green or red peppers would also compliment this meal well.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ready for the Beach

Oh, it's that time of year again. It has been hot, hot, hot here and I am ready for the escape to the beach. Feel the sand in my toes. Listen to the crashing of the waves. Beautiful walks at sunset. Yes, I am ready to go.  Unfortunately, we won't be going for a few more weeks, so until then I have this quilt to help me imagine what it will be like.

I found this shell fabric at my favorite San Diego quilt shop, Rosie's, and wasn't sure what to do with it when I bought it.  So, a year later I had figured out what I wanted and went back and bought the batiks to make the braid.

I mitered the corners of the braid (first time!) and it went pretty well. Other than that, this is almost a whole-cloth quilt. I just didn't have the heart to cut any of those beautiful shells.

For the quilting, I decided to try and create the 3-D look with a very small meander around the shells.  This is before I looked into trapunto, otherwise I totally would have used that technique on this quilt.

Oh, I just love how this quilt turned out.  It's so soft, and the colors are so beach-y.  I can stare at it and pretend I am already there... :)

I am linking up today with Finished Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts. Have a great, relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

So many, So close...

Man, I have four different projects right now that are so close to being finished! I am going to lead a parade when they're done, it will be so exciting!

1. I have been delaying this one because it's really for Halloween, but I couldn't wait any longer. I finished the binding and now all it needs is a label and I can declare it finished.  Yeah!

2. This one was put on hold while I found a backing.  Once that happened, it quilted up pretty quickly (I was super happy with how the quilting came out) and now I am ready to put the binding on and label it.  

3. This one has shown up on the blog a couple of times as I work on it.  I am so excited with how it's turning out and I can't wait to get it done.  I am not on the hunt for a backing; not sure what to do so it might be a while :/

4. This one is made of scraps from another quilt. I want to maximize the scrap use so I have very little left, so I am working slowly on it.  I'm getting there, though, and with a couple of these others finished, maybe I'll have some time to work on it.

While working on these, I have also been cutting out my Honey, Honey fabric for a Strippers Club quilt from our LQS. Feels so good to get projects off the project table and into the 'finished' category. Alright, it's time to get back to it. I am loosing precious nap/quilting time. :)

Monday, June 17, 2013


I have been playing around with a couple of recipes; one on purpose and the other by accident.

First, the one I have been playing with on purpose has accidentally turned into something else. I am all about the chinese food.  I really want to learn a few dishes I can turn to when I am craving it so I am not spending a fortune at the restaurant. So, I found several recipes I am working through.  One of those recipes was Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki, which I found on this website. It turned out pretty good, but I need to work on my meat-cutting technique to get thinner slices. We had some leftovers and I was thinking, what if...

I re-heated the leftovers on the stove top and added a cornstarch/water mix to thicken the sauce. I put it on a roll with some cheese, and OH MY GOODNESS! If I didn't know better I would have thought I had gone to one of my fave restaurants here in town. I was so excited to have discovered this.  Now, I need to make it again and check my measurements and such so I can post about it.

The second was completely an accident. It has been soooo hot here that I have been looking for recipes that call for outdoor cooking (yeah, it's hot, but at least it doesn't heat up the kitchen, right?!?).  I had a piece of meat that needed to be used, so I decided we were going to try something we hadn't tried in a long, long time. I made kebabs.

I checked my fave cooking website, and then looked through a couple of my trusty cookbooks and decided to try this one. Honestly, I ended up liking Mel's a lot.  It was simple, tasty, juicy, and fast.  Perfect combination.  That doesn't mean I won't go back now and try some of the others. I really liked the kebab cooking.  Minimal mess and, like I said, it doesn't heat the house up.

Sorry no pics today, it's been a little crazy around here.  Hopefully I can get some pictures of these dishes, and some others, soon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two Projects at Once

 I suppose you're not a real quilter if you don't have multiple projects going at once, but I am really enjoying these two. I can't wait to see the finished products.

The first quilt I have blogged about recently.  A friend sent me a bunch of fantastic fabrics, including a Dr. Seuss collection.  I wanted to do random squares that were bordered with a common fabric. I figured out the placement of the panel pieces, but have been winging it from there. It's been a lot of fun, and a lot of trial and error. I am almost finished with the fabric, but want it a little bigger so I think I am going to put some borders on it.  My Mom suggested a solid color, and I really like that idea.  It's back to the fabric store; yeah!

The Hidden Garden Quilt is one that I have not blogged about in a while.  It ended up on the back-burner while I searched for a backing.  I finally got it pinned and then realized I didn't have the thread I wanted.  So, after a trip to the store, I now have everything I need and am ready to go.

I've got some work to do.  I'm posting on Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is working on.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Oh, these cookies.  Melt in your mouth, soft as a brownie and peanut buttery to boot. I am a huge chocolate fan! I can't get enough of it. My husband is a huge peanut butter fan!  He'd eat peanut butter with every meal if I let him.  These cookies are the perfect blending of our two favorites. They are truly 'to-die-for' kind of cookies.

I actually found this recipe in a magazine or coupon book years ago, but it called for chocolate chips instead of peanut butter chips. I absolutely LOVED the taste of the death-by-chocolate cookies, but it was too much chocolate for my husband (I didn't know too much chocolate was even possible). So, I thought I would try making them with his favorite; peanut butter chips. Oh my goodness, they disappeared so fast I wondered if I had baked them or just dreamed about baking them. It has now become my go-to cookie recipe if there is an event I need to bake for.  They are always a hit, and always disappear.  Of course, I still have to make them here at home, too. This is one of those recipes that I have literally memorized because I make them so often.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

2/3 c shortening (I use Butter-flavored Crisco)
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 T water
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c baking cocoa
1/2 t salt
2 c peanut butter chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine shortening and brown sugar in mixer until creamed. Add water and vanilla and the eggs (one at a time) and mix until creamed. Add baking soda, salt, and baking cocoa and mix well.  Finally, add the flour slowly until well blended. Remove from mixer and add peanut butter chips; mix by hand.

Using a teaspoon, drop round spoonfuls of dough on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are set (I use 10 minutes for the first batch and 9 for any others after that). Cookies will appear soft and moist. Do Not Overbake! Cool for about 2 minutes, remove from the baking sheet and place on wire rack to completely cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Two Fruit Baskets

You know when you finish a quilt (or two, in this case) and you look back and wonder, "why did I do that?"  I am kind of doing that right now.  I am wondering why I made two of these instead of one large one.  I suppose there are a few reasons, but I can't change it now.

It doesn't change how I feel about them. I am happy with how they turned out.  These were quilts I was collecting fabrics for during a stretch of several years.  I was motivated to start working through some of my projects when I was pregnant with #2. Unfortunately, my machine had different plans and continued to give me trouble.  Consequently, quilts that I started in 2011 are only now getting finished. My little girl really loves the colors, though. :)

I wanted to try baskets and came up with this pattern based on the many basket patterns out there. I wanted to maximize the amount of fruit/veggies that was showing in each block. When trying to decide what color to get the blocks on, my Mom pulled out this black and I just loved how it made the colors POP!

For the border, I used scraps to make the squares and used the last of the basket weave fabric to frame and bind it.  When it came to the quilting, once again I was practicing my template work, and I feel like I'm getting better and better. My machine, however, did not like working on the black fabric, so I ended up having to ditch the BSR and use the foot.  Made it a little more challenging, but of course by the time I was finished I had it figured out.  Good practice!

For the second one, I needed to change the border because I had different leftovers to work with.  So, I used strips instead of squares and I set it in black instead of the basket weave. I used the same template, but it was set on the block in a different position, and I simply did straight stitch instead of meander on the borders.

For the back of the second one, I had to piece together some of the leftover fabrics to get it to be big enough, and I actually really like how it turned out. Sometimes it feels like you have a whole other quilt when you have some fun with the back.

Maybe I should do what I had originally thought and try selling one on Etsy? We'll see.  For now, I am just going to enjoy the colors and think about the next project.

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts. Here's hoping you have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I am having so much fun with the Dr. Seuss fabric; who knew!? A friend sent this little bundle to me and I couldn't wait to put it together.  I cut up the panel and bought black sashing to frame everything.  Other than that, I am winging it.

It's kind of fun; different from what I usually do.  There is the challenge of layout for each block, and of course trying to make sure I maximize all my fat quarters, because that's all I have.  Hopefully, I'll have enough to finish the quilt.  It would not be cool if I have to pick it all apart to get things to work.

I apologize for the poor quality on the photo, but this was at midnight last night. The end of an evening where I chose quilting over cleaning up after the kids. :P  I can clean the mess tomorrow, right?!?

I am linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. Can't wait to see everyone's projects!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Mealtime

My Favorite Whisks Ever!
I admit it! I am a kitchen gadget junky, or at least I was. I used to get every kitchen gadget that came out. I used them, I loved them, and then I realized which ones are REALLY useful for me. There are still a lot of gadgets that I like, but just don't use much. And then there are the tools that get used so often I am usually pulling them out of the clean dishwasher to put them back to work.

These are the four whisks that I use THAT much! As I was learning about cooking, I didn't understand such simple tools could be so handy.  As time has gone on, I have found that these whisks make things so much easier, and are a lot simpler to clean than a giant mixer. I wanted to give a quick explanation about how I use these different whisks.

This first one is put to use every time there's a sauce or a batter that needs mixing.  The flat design works great when you don't want a bunch of air mixed in, but you need something that will help break down any lumps that might have formed.  I use this with batter for my pancakes and waffles, as well as on chocolate sauces and bbq sauces I am heating/mixing. Amazing whisk!

This more traditional design is great for making large omelets and frittata's. Anything that you need to mix some air into without overdoing it like mixers sometimes can.  I wouldn't make an angel food cake with it, or homemade whipped cream, but anything that needs a little air, this is the perfect whisk.  I think I got it at Costco Business Store years ago.  The oversized handle really helps with control and spin. Perfect!

Okay, now this one I literally had to dry off after cleaning it so I could take pictures of it. Have you ever made a sauce with cornstarch that clumps together and you are trying desperately to break it up?  I remember using forks and spoons to push against the side of the pan before. After struggling for what felt like eternity I would give up and call my husband to finish the job. And then I found this little beauty! The spring action allows you to breakdown starches that are being used as a thickening agent. I love it best when I am making stews or meatball sauces.

Last but not least, this is the mini of the traditional model. It's great when you only want to mix one or two eggs together.  I also use it when I am making buttermilk for the pancakes.  It provides just enough air to help the buttermilk thicken. This is another one that was pulled out of the clean dishwasher to photograph; that's how much I use it.

A shout out to my MIL for the awesome antique mixing bowls; something else I use just about every day. Okay, there's my two cents on whisks.  I hope others find it helpful.  What's your favorite whisk?  Love to hear what others use. :)