Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Catching up on some swaps. I signed up for too many. I still have a potholder to make. And something with owls. I need to get busy with work so I can have more time to play.

Look at the pretty seafood! Although I often wonder about the first person who ate an oyster. What was he/she thinking?! I wrapped some of the shrimp with jalapeno and bacon and grilled them with a butter and tequila sauce. We lightly grilled/steamed most of the oysters, but a few of these biggens I made into Oysters Rockefeller. 

Happy Halloween! My friend Jane mailed me these. They're my favorite.

I thought this commercial was funny.

I made it through Blogtoberfest. I'll shut up now.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Can You Spare a Quilt?

Victoria at Bumble Beans is a talented quilter and one of the nicest people I've met in blogland. I've learned so much about being artistic with my quilt designs from her. I call her my "art professor." Some time ago, she asked the blogging community to help out our fellow humans by donating house blocks that she would put together into quilts for families struggling in the New York City area. V received 550 blocks from bloggers around the world. These blocks were beautifully placed into award-winning quilts that will warm families, comfort children, and show the world just how giving quilters are.

The next phase of Victoria's project is a quilt gather. Quilts of all sizes are welcome. Baby quilts, throws, and bed quilts. The goal is to provide 700 quilts to families that could use some warmth and comfort. You can find out more information about this wonderful project at Bumble Beans Basics. Can you spare a quilt?

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken with Olives is so good. This is the second time I've made it. I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs and low salt tomatoes for health reasons. Ya'll are laughing, aren't ya? Me too. I guess the no-yolk egg noodles aren't flying either. It's hard to eat healthy. We also have green pepper haters in the house, so I substituted red and orange peppers. This dish reminds me of my grandmother's veal stew and olives. My vegetarian friends have shamed me for buying veal, so I try not to do it. But really, that poor calf is already goners by the time he's on my grocery shelf. If I don't buy it, could it possibly be thrown out? Now that's just wasteful. Lambs and calves will get their day. We don't eat horses here any longer, although horse meat is still popular in France.

Earlier in the day I made Hope's famous oatmeal cookies. Hope brought these to sew day once and I ate more than my fair share. They were so good. She kindly shared her "secret" recipe with me. I love cooks who share recipes! My cookies never turn out as pretty as Hope's do, but they're quite tasty. And healthy! Okay, I'll quit. Who am I kidding? See that "dud" on the edge of the plate? That's always my favorite cookie of the batch, especially when I'm making chocolate chip cookies. I guess I just prefer the dough and not the raisins or chocolate chips. Brown sugar and butter, baby!

This Asian slaw is a family favorite. Dump a bag of broccoli slaw in a bowl and toss with an Asian-inspired vinaigrette. I used sesame and canola oils, garlic, sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar, ginger, honey, soy sauce and pepper. I snuck in a little of our homemade hot sauce too. You could use bottled dressing, but I don't want to hear about it. ;)

But here's my favorite. Avocados and tomatoes with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Dinner is served.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I love scrappy quilts. I think they'll always be my favorite because they remind me of utilitarian quilts made from clothing scraps and other found material. I have my great grandmother's scrappy quilt and I love wondering who wore the clothing scraps she used to make the quilt. I never met this great grandmother, but I like to think about my great grandfather's pajamas, maybe a shirt sewn for my dad when he was a child, or perhaps a dress she wore to church?

I made this coin quilt top in 2007, the first year I started quilting. I finally sent it out for quilting and got it bound this summer. My large quilt tops like to gel a little bit before I get around to finishing them. This quilt was made from scraps of vintage fabrics, newer stuff, and there's even some tie-dye fabric my daughter and I made together.

Before I quilted, I collected fabric. Crazy, right? My friend Kathy and I spent several years hitting numerous estate sales looking for junk treasures to hawk on eBay and we found great stashes left behind. Hey Kath, Remember Jamajo and Helen Padgett? That Jamajo reference was a house filled to the brim with vintage and retro fabric. Really, I think the oven had fabric in it. There was fabric in every room, every nook and cranny. Gonna be me some day. Helen Padgett was the quilter who sold us her entire quilting operation. That collection was newer stuff, books, rulers, gadgets, and much more. I think it took three carloads to remove everything. Kath still doesn't quilt, but I bet she owns some cute fabric. We're just textile girls I guess.

As we found out that fabric was selling quite well, we started collecting more of it. The vintage prints intrigued me and the first time I saw a collection of old feed sacks, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. So I collected hoarded fabric. I sold a lot of it too, but always thought that one day I'd do something (like quilt) with all the treasures I found over the years.

In 2007, I dusted off my trusty Singer and decided I was going to make a quilt. That first quilt, a postage stamp miniature I shared last year in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Since then, quilting has gone non-stop for me. I absolutely love the process and try to encourage anyone I can to learn to quilt. If I can do it, anyone can do it, and it's so much fun. I still can't sew buttons on stuff, sweat when faced with zippers, and freak out if asked to hem something. But give me a stack of scraps and a sewing machine and I'm in heaven.

Twice a year, Amy's Creative Side hosts a Blogger's Quilt Festival. Bloggers are encouraged to post about a quilt they've made and link up on Amy's blog. There are prizes too! It's amazing at how our online quilting community inspires one another. I am self-taught by this generous community, so I feel like everyone is one of my close friends or mentors. I hope you'll join in the fun. I'm off to check out the entries. Two more days of Blogtoberfest...gah. I'm sick of myself.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative will be showcasing (and selling) 1,500 miniature quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. This organization has raised more than $591,000 for Alzheimer's research since 2006. With quilts. Yep, quilters are the most generous and giving people I know. The video below shows a sampling of the quilts that get to attend Festival. Three of mine will be there. That's probably the closest I'll ever get to that Festival.

If you can't attend the Festival, the November online quilt auction will feature 12 Stanley Cup quilts generously donated by celebrity quilters. November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. You could own a quilt by Alex Anderson, Hollis Chatelain, John Flynn, Becky Goldsmith, Renae Haddadin, Sue Nickels, Caryl Bryer Fallert, Pat Holly, Libby Lehman, Judy Mathieson, Mary Sorensen, or Ricky Tims. All profits fund Alzheimer's research.

Or better yet, make a quilt (or three) to donate. All types of quilts are welcome. The only stipulation is that the quilt be 9" x 12" or smaller. That's it. Miniature quilts are accepted all year long and are available for purchase on the website. There is also a monthly auction. Plus, your quilt might get to go to Quilt Festival next year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trying to Catch Up

Sew Mama Sew announced the Lark Doll Quilt Contest today. The deadline to submit photos is November 14. There are prizes! I have their new book Pretty in Patchwork Doll Quilts on my wish list.

Credit: Noble Pig
I found this crab cake recipe on Pinterest. Oh. my. I must make these for a Chili Cook-Off party we're going to next week. Inspector Gadget said he wanted to make the chili with his habanero peppers, so I'll bring an appetizer. I was going to make Chasen's Restaurant's famous chili. My mom has made this for years and it's really good. Elizabeth Taylor obviously liked it:
"The chili is so good. All gone now. Please send me ten quarts of your wonderful chili in dry ice to 448 Via Appia pignatelli. - Love and kisses, Elizabeth Taylor."  - Elizabeth Taylor, on location in Rome, 1962
Ten quarts, Liz? I guess she was feeding the entire crew. My friend is expecting 15 pots of chili at the cook-off, so I should really talk.

More painting on fabric. This is for a Swap-bot swap to celebrate their 100,000 swap. Ernie (the Swap-bot happy envelope mascot) had to be featured in some way. I decided to make a Ernie mug rug for my partner.

I'm loving soybeans lately. You can get them in the frozen food section and some stores carry fresh soybeans, but they're a little pricey. The frozen variety are reasonable. This salad was so simple, soybeans, radish, red pepper, feta and a simple vinaigrette.

Dotty's lastest selvage creation, "A Cup of Kaffe." I love me some Kaffe!

It was a good mail day. Someone sent me this book of 19th century doll quilts. The quilts are darling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Playing Around

I've been channeling the talented Juanita Yeager and painting on soybean-soaked fabric (thanks, Rene'!). I'm not much of an illustrator, but it was fun to try. I'm going to use these to practice free motion quilting and maybe a little thread painting.

These fun Little Monkey blocks are from the Quiltville site. Bonnie has tons of interesting quilt and block patterns using scraps.

This little guy has been on my back porch a while. He's catching gnats, so I guess I'll let him hang out for Halloween.

Check out my Caveman Pops. Now I won't have to go to Disney World just for the turkey legs. They were really good too. First time I've made them in the oven. I usually grill them.

French lentils I can only get at Whole Foods. They are so good! My French grandmother always served lentils with turkey. The regular brown lentils you can buy at the grocery store are also good, but these green French lentils are the bomb. I like lots of garlic in my lentils. Bacon doesn't hurt either.

How about some sauteed spinach too? There's garlic, onion and a bit of olive oil underneath.
Here I am making vegetables unhealthy again. Creamed spinach is yummy. I just splashed a bit of cream in at the last minute. If you want a really decadent creamed spinach recipe, try this one. It's so rich, but totally worth it. Now I'm hungry again. There's leftover lentils and spinach for breakfast. Yum!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homemade Hot Sauce

Inspector Gadget has been wanting to make hot sauce from our homegrown peppers. We started out with this recipe as a guide and went to town. We did substitute red pepper for the green pepper.

Here's our initial photo of ingredients. Plus sea salt, red pepper and vinegar. We only used half of the tomato and added in some red pepper because the color of the sauce was icky after the first blend. Inspector Gadget got a quick blender lesson and is on his way to becoming a hot sauce master. The sauce is fresh tasting and bright. Hot as hades. We really should bottle it and sell it as a decongestant and/or paint thinner.

 It was taco night last night and we used the sauce as a condiment. It'll put hair on your chest! ;)

My bowtie pasta quilt top. I started making these little (3.5" x 5") blocks eons ago with red and white scraps. I quit after 60 blocks. Pretty good for my attention span.

I'm already bored with these blocks. Maybe another day I'll be inspired to make more. I enjoy the process of sewing so sometimes finishing isn't as important to me. I guess I just like to play.

Somebody crashed into my baby while my baby was driving it. No injuries or major damage, thank goodness. Danica (Rubbin's Racin') tried her best to avoid collision, but she just couldn't get out of the way. The gentleman who plowed into her was so apologetic. Dani handled the situation perfectly even though Inspector Gadget and I drove to the accident scene to be with her. It's been fun dealing with his insurance company. Blech.

On a happier thought, I'm glad he has insurance and that he was so polite to my daughter. Yeah, let's go with the happier thought. Now go wrap a kid or two in bubble wrap.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sew Day!

Saturday was another fun Sew Day for the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. We meet monthly at a local public library that has a room you can reserve for free. The room is huge and we have plenty of room to spread out.

We sewed with the "The Wonderful Lizard of Oz."  He's on display in the room and watched over us every minute. He's way cuter than the dried-up lizards I find in my house.

Everyone made progress on their projects and the conversation is always lively. Such a fun group of talented quilters. I learn something each time I meet up with these gals. There is much laughter.

Did I mention there's food? Everyone brings something to share. There's always hummus, which we all love. We eat (and sew) all day long. I may have done more eating than sewing. Nothing new, right? Library patrons gawk at us like we're monkeys at the zoo. Some come inside the meeting room and talk with us. They mostly want to learn how to quilt. I told one kid that was looking in that we were auditioning for next season's "Project Runway."

I made Mediterranean Potato Salad to Sew Day. I've been drooling over the teeny tiny potatoes they have in all colors, so I started with those. My measurements are approximate in the recipe. You can leave out the olives or capers if you don't like them.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

1-2 lbs. potatoes
green beans
3-4 scallions, slices
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon capers, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes in salted water. During the last five minutes, add in your green beans. Drain potatoes and beans and allow to cool slightly while you chop everything. Add scallions, olives, capers, parsley and feta to cooled potatoes and beans.

For the dressing, whisk vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper until combined. Pour over potato mixture and combine.
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