Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Giveaway!

I was very fortunate to be given a copy of the new Elm Creek Quilts Novel to be used in a give away promotion.  I know it's a small group of us here, but that just makes your odds all the better!  Leave me a comment, and let me know if you have read any of the other novels in the series.  I will pull a random comment on Thursday, March 8.  Good luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kitchen Experiments

Recently, on Saturday mornings, I have been experimenting in the kitchen.  I am trying to recreate the type of coffee cake you find at your local coffee shop or bakery.  I love that sugary, buttery streusel that is sometimes nearly half as thick as the cake itself. I really wanted to try and make my own at home, so I started by looking for any coffee cake recipes with super thick streusel. I found one, and tried it out, but the cake part was a bit on the dry side.  The streusel, however, was nearly perfect. I decided to try and swap out the streusel recipe from one of my own tried-and-true coffee cake recipes with this new streusel recipe.  
So, the next Saturday, bright and early, I made Coffee Cake #2.  Unfortunately, it didn't work.  The bottom cake bubbled up and through the topping, and it took way too long to bake.  It tasted good, but certainly wasn't pretty - more importantly, it wasn't what I was trying to recreate.  On to Round Three.  I tried yet another coffee cake recipe with the new streusel, and still no luck.  Last weekend, I took a break - much to my family's dismay.  Next week, it's back in the saddle.

Here 's my tried-and-true coffee cake, before the streusel swap!  Even without a super thick streusel, it's still a great cake, and can make your Saturday morning pretty special indeed.

Buttermilk Coffee Cake
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
Mix the above ingredients until crumbly, and remove 1/2 cup of the mixture to reserve for streusel.  To this, add 1/3 cup chopped nuts. 
To the original crumb mixture, add:
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
In small bowl, mix :
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
Add half of the milk mixture to the crumb mixture, and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the remaining milk mixture, and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan and sprinkle with the reserved nut streusel.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes.


Monday, February 13, 2012

It's a Basket!

I got really, really lucky and found this beautiful blanket basket at the thrift store recently  I almost missed it as it had been discarded on the floor and pushed to the side with other castoffs tossed in and around it. I have been looking for one of these for a long time.  

It's worn and weathered, but, to me, it is perfect.

Now that it is home, I can't wait to fill it full of quilts!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Looking For a Few Good Snacks

Popcorn Haystacks

1 quart popped corn (no butter or seasonings)
1 cup peanuts
3 oz. Chow Mein noodles
12 oz chocolate chips

Mix popcorn, peanuts, and noodles in large bowl and set aside.  Melt chocolate chips in microwave and pour over popcorn mixture.  Drop spoonfuls into paper cupcake liners, and refrigerate until firm.  Store in covered container.  Makes approximately 24.

*I doubled the recipe and used a variety of cupcake liners and candy liners.

Next on deck...Honey Nut Popcorn!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snowballs from Feedsacks

I made these stacks of snowball blocks at least two January's ago, and that's as far as I got with them. The green and red prints are from some feedsacks given to me by my husband's grandmother.  The soft, white corners are from flour sacks she gave me, too.  My intent was to lay them out, alternating colors, for a Christmas quilt.  As you can see, they still sit quietly, waiting.  I don't know what made me pull them out this week, but for whatever reason, they are speaking to me now.  Seems sort of silly with Christmas over, but who am I to argue when inspiration strikes?  And who knows, maybe my interest will wane, but for now, I'm going to follow the call of the feedsacks.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Gift for Baby

I finished up this baby set a week or so ago, and am just now getting it in the mail.  Running to the post office around here can sometimes be quite a chore.  Some weeks it fits seamlessly into our routine, and other times, not so much. 
 The parents are close friends of ours, and this is baby #4 for them as well.   I love, love, love vintage children's prints, and this one from The Little Engine that Could is so sweet. The Little Golden Books will forever remain classics.  Somehow they manage to seem vintage even when they are brand new.  And I love that you can still usually find them at the grocery store, just as I did growing up. 


As I do with a a lot of baby/child quilts I make, I tied it with a soft yarn versus machine quilting.  I think the ties keep the quilt soft and cozy, and give it a bit of an old-fashioned touch - sort of like something made by Grandma.  I know many people tie their quilts with the excess yarn on the top side, but I have always done it in reverse, with the ties on the back side.  This is just the way I was taught.  I don't see many done this way, though.  How do you tie yours? I included a knit washcloth and two matching burp pads.  (As I well remember, by the time you get to baby #4, having matching anything feels extravagant!)

I wanted to include something for the older sibs, too, so I put together a couple of zipper purses for the girls and a pillowcase for the boy.  Unfortunately, I didn't grab a pic of the pillowcase.  It was hopefully suitably boyish, made from an alien novelty print I had stashed.

It is fun putting together gifts for others.  And, especially, when you know how much it will be appreciated.  

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The rising of the bread

Be gentle when you touch bread. 
Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted. 
So often bread is taken for granted. 
There is such beauty in bread. 
Beauty in turf and soil, beauty of patient toil. 
Wind and rain have caressed it, Christ often blessed it. 
Be gentle when you touch bread.

-Irish Blessing