Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Green Finish

A Thursday morning finish - I put the last of the stitching in before I left for work!  I am so happy to have it all quilted and bound.  A very simple broken-strip pattern, but I love the monochromatic color scheme.  I guess it could be my St. Paddy's Day quilt, just a little early!  

On the back are my free form, log-cabin inspired blocks floating on some off white, organic cotton I happened upon last year in my local fabric store.  The store owner buys up end lots from high end manufacturers and sells them at amazing prices.  It has a wonderful feel to it that I think will only get better and better as it gets used and laundered through the years.

Well, it's time to add the sugar, potatoes, and water to my sourdough starter yeast mixture - I'm still craving those cinnamon rolls!  Hoping to make some granola today, too.  Late last night I mixed up some Popcorn Haystacks for the kids - more on those soon!  Family, baking, errands, sewing, laundry, groceries, the vet, cleaning, reading, and much more. The weekends are always so full with both have-to's and want-to's.  What is that old saying...a full life is a happy life? Indeed.   
May the weekend in your life be full.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sourdough Starter

I grew up very near an Amish settlement and have always admired the ways of their kitchens.  I discovered this book at my library, and I have enjoyed reading through the stories and the recipes.  The chapter on breads gives a recipe for sourdough starter and also includes recipes using the starter.  I've made my own sourdough starter before, but this one took a little different twist in letting the yeast and the water sit for several days in the refrigerator before adding the dry ingredients.  I started some last night, we'll see how it goes...and grows!  Lovina, the author, has included a recipe for cinnamon rolls using the starter.  I've never made cinnamon rolls with sourdough before - I can't wait!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quilts and Popcorn!

I got back to some quilting this weekend.  I finally began some straight line quilting on my green quilt that has been waiting patiently for me.  I don't know why this quilt so often gets pushed to the back burner.  It feels closer to seeing completion this time, so I'm hopeful!  I also played around with a charm pack I won in a giveaway from Nanette many moons ago.  As you can see the cat wanted to play too!

With our big family, I am always on the lookout for snacks that are filling and at least sort-of healthy.  As such, we eat a lot of popcorn around here.  I usually pop two big pots on the stove and add some melted butter and salt, and although we really love it this way,  I think I'm going to play around with some different seasonings and flavors.  There are also some cookie-like creations I have found that use popcorn mixed with chocolate and nuts and such.  I'll keep you posted on how they turn out!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pincushion Parade!

These pincushions are true workhorses of my sewing room.  They see heavy use and tend to be a little frayed around the edges!  Some are homemade, and others have been collected here and there at rummage sales and thrift stores.  To be honest, I didn't realize I had this many until I went searching to gather them up for a photo!  And, I think I'm missing a few, too!

This one gets a spot of honor as my son found it for me at a secondhand shop, and it's definitely old.  Another seamstress long ago took some time to embellish not only the cushion itself, but she also made tiny, satin toppers for some of the longer pins.  It's very sweet, and I keep it on top of an antique sewing cabinet in my sewing room.
Go over to the Pincushion Parade at Love, Laugh, Quilt to see lots and lots more 'cushions!  And add yours to the mix, too!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stretching my dollars

 One shabby, yet solid, cupboard-
Purchase Price $1

One chippy, yet still elegant, teapot -
Purchase Price $1

 One homemade, yet sturdy, primitive toolbox-
Purchase Price $1

Grand Total $3
An amazingly, frugal thrifting adventure, complete with the company of my husband and children -
Incredibly Priceless.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Handmade Christmas

Since I didn't have the chance to share some of my hand made Christmas gifts with you before Christmas, I thought I'd share a couple now.  A while back, Beth over at Love, Laugh, Quilt gave a great tutorial for making her version of a rag doll.  I really liked them, and so I made one for my niece.  I added a few of my own touches, and I loved her.  I have to admit, she was hard to send off in the mail!  I had her perched on my sewing table for a few days, and I missed her once she was gone!  I got over it quickly, especially when my sister-in-law and brother sent me a great pic of her being loved on by my niece.  She named her Arthur!

Another brother was the recipient of a fuzzy pair of crocheted slippers.  These were actually a year late.  I had made them last year, but was off on the size, so I re-did them. (Somehow, I thought his feet were nearly three sizes bigger than they actually are!) I just didn't mean for them to take so long!  This year's sizing was a success, though, so hopefully they were worth the wait!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year.  Different in many ways, but with lots of good memories nonetheless.  I hope yours was memorable, too.

More soon,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting to Know the Pattern Envelope

Oh, so long ago, I promised you a post on deciphering a pattern envelope. I didn't mean to keep you waiting quite this long...sorry! Life and holidays needed to come first, but even though it is really, really late, I hope some of you might find it useful. So, here we go...

Armed with your newly-taken measurements, your next stop will likely be for a pattern. Nowadays we are truly fortunate to have easy access to so many pattern companies, big and small. When you hear someone refer to the "Big Three" pattern makers, they are usually referring to Simplicity, Butterick, and McCall's, but there are soooo many more out there. It's definitely worth searching online and at smaller, independent retailers to see what's available.

In brick and mortar shops, the major pattern companies will have pattern books you can peruse, much like a large catalog, to find a project that catches your eye. The pattern themselves are usually housed in metal file cabinets categorized by company and then number. Once you have settled on a particular pattern, take out your measurements. In the catalog, you will not only see a photo of the front of the pattern envelope, but you will also see a copy of the envelope's backside. This is where all the important information is hiding. Each company has their own way of organizing this information, so you may have to search a little to find it. Don't forget to check the flap of the envelope, too! You are looking for a Body Measurements chart. Once you find it, compare your measurements to those on the chart. It is quite common to fall between two, or even three, different sizes. A good rule of thumb, is to either choose the size that fits the majority of your body, and/or choose the pattern size that corresponds with the most fitted part of your garment, usually the bust. A good pattern will include notes to help with pattern alterations, should they be necessary.

Now that you have your pattern number and your size, you will need to select it from the cabinet. Make certain you select the right size for you! Frequently, the pattern number itself will be sub-divided with a letter(s) in order to group three or four sizes into one envelope. Example, 2994A, 2994B, and 2994C. The number and letter of the pattern should be prominently displayed on either the upper right or upper left hand corner of the envelope.

Once you have found your pattern in your size, go straight to the back of the envelope yet again. Now you are getting to some fun stuff: choosing your fabric! Look for a heading entitled Suggested Fabrics. Read through the list and determine if any of the fabric types are recognizable to you. If so, go ahead and start to peruse the bolts of fabric. If you find yourself a bit confused or overwhelmed, find someone in the store to help you. These fabrics aren't hard and fast rules, but they are simply suggestions from the pattern manufacturer. When you first begin to sew, it is helpful to follow their suggestions until you learn how the different types of fabric react. As a very general rule, woven fabrics (non-stretchy) are much easier to work with than knit fabrics (stretchy). Very sheer and silky/slippery fabrics can be difficult for a beginner, too. Another helpful hint can be to not choose your fabric on the same day you choose your pattern. It never hurts to take your pattern home and study it a bit more. Look through ready-to-wear styles that might be similar to your pattern and pay attention to the types of fabrics they are sewn from. Look through your own wardrobe and find the types of fabrics that are flattering and comfortable to wear. And you can even go online and search for reviews of the pattern. I love to search through I have learned so much from this site. Don't be afraid to take your time in this process!

There are a few more items on the pattern envelope that are worth talking a bit about, but I will save those for another time. Even though this post is incredibly long, I will leave you with a dinner recipe to simmer in the crock-pot while you are out pattern shopping! We have to make time for the important stuff, you know!

Sweet Lentil Stew

1 medium onion chopped
Approximately 1 cup celery, chopped
Approximately 1 cup carrots, chopped
butter to saute the above
2 cups lentils, washed
1 cup or so of chopped ham
2 - 3 Tablespoons brown sugar

Saute the onion, celery, and carrots in butter until slightly tender. Combine these and all other ingredients in a 5 - 7 quart crock-pot. Add water to fill the pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until lentils are tender. Adjust seasoning to taste, if needed.

Happy New Year! May you find lots of time and inspiration to sew and create in 2012!