Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Perfect Day

In your pajamas, preferably. I made it until 10 am Saturday in pj's, and then Bones decided he needed to go outside. I was up early and dressed today, but I'm hoping to nap later when the rain starts.

My perfect day also includes cooking. I made this Panzanella salad using an old baguette. I never thought I would like this salad because I thought the bread would get mushy and fall apart, but since you toast it, it holds its shape and texture. Yummo!

Since the baguette went stale, I baked a loaf of bread for dinner. I messed up the yeast amount, but it still turned out okay.

Homemade bread has no preservatives, so you have to use it quickly. Cinnamon toast (the right way) for breakfast and possible grilled cheese for lunch.

New Orleans inspired barbecued shrimp. The sauce was perfect to dunk bread in. It has been a carby weekend! I'm making more bread later today.

Meet Lisa, my new Featherweight. I've been stalking eBay for eons looking for the perfect affordable little Featherweight. I used to see these at estate sales for next to nothing, but of course I didn't want one then. Lisa runs beautifully and is one of the last Featherweights made in the late 60s. She came from a machine repair shop, had a tune up, and runs like a dream. Quiet, too!

I used my spider web blocks to get to know the new machine. I'm piecing rows together and hope to finish the top today. It's high time for a new project.

Happy Sunday! Hope you're having fun.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Stash #84

Whee! Did I ever have fun. There were sales, pretty fabrics, no will power. And I have plans for every piece I bought. Yeah, right.

Have you ever ordered from Form & Fabric? They wrap everything up so pretty. I almost kept everything wrapped up, but I wanted to pet it.

Monsters and orange, what's not to love? The green fabric has words and monsters. Also a winner!

Bold and beautiful.

Echino love. I've been collecting little snippets of this fabric line for a while now.

 Kaffe. Swoon.

Don't those muffins look yummy?

Cameras and ties.

 Gingham and polkas. I'm weak.

Batiks are so pretty. I can't resist them. Especially when they put giraffes on them. What? Stop that fabric people. How about wiener dog?

I found a boatload of fresh green beans at the produce market. I decided to try to pickle some. These are just refrigerator pickles. Boil vinegar, water, and salt and add spices. Cool mixture and pour over cleaned and trimmed beans. One day I might learn to can. It looks like fun.

Ooh, they are good. That little habanero pepper made them a bit spicy. Very tangy and crunchy too. Bet they would be good in a Bloody Mary.

I roasted the rest of the green beans with onion, red pepper, and bacon. The icky looking things on the right are raw chicken livers. I love grossing everyone out with those. "So what are you making us for dinner, Michele? Oh, just some chicken livers and ham and bananas hollandaise. Actually, I've been meeting more people that like chicken livers. And there are recipes galore. So many more I want to try. And if you want an easy, breezy hollandaise for your ham wrapped bananas, this one is excellent and doesn't require a blender.

I was smoking/grilling chicken wings on the grill with apple wood chips, so I threw these babies on the hot part of the coals and grilled them. They're marinated in soy sauce and tossed in a lemon, garlic, butter, parsley sauce after they cook. Here's the recipe if you're game. They were delicious. I ate the leftovers cold. Bones liked them too.

Happy Fall!

September Silliness

Look at this patient doggie. Bones would eat someone, or definitely run away.

The summer tomatoes are fading fast. That was quick, but it is fall. I even felt a little cool in the air this morning. We're having a rainy weekend, so I'm enjoying inside time. My kids inhale pico de gallo. I make huge batches of it and they eat it on everything. I like to mash an avocado and add some pico for quickie guacamole. One kid will eat guac, but the picky eater would rather die. I keep holding out for him to get over his picky stage, but so far, no good. Eat a bean, for crying out loud!

Hollywood's charge came over to swim last weekend and we made cookies afterward. Hollywood told him he could only have one cookie, so we solved that little problem by making a cookie bigger than his head. Besides, oatmeal raisin cookies are practically health food. Except for the butter and sugar. I didn't let him eat the gigantic cookie, but he thought it was hilarious and took it home to share with his family.

Picky eater does like spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were the size of tennis balls. I get bored making meatballs too! Much quicker to make 12 large meatballs versus 36 small ones. I hate frying stuff, so I always par-bake my meatballs on a broiler pan until they're brown. Then I drop them in the sauce and let them simmer.

Do you eat your salad touching other parts of your meal? I always have. I think it's a French thing. We ate salad every night growing up and no one offered me a salad bowl. Even Inspector Gadget has graduated from pre-dinner salad bowls to adding his salad to his plate. I like when the vinaigrette mixes with everything.

Spider web block progress. I think I'm done piecing these. I can't remember how many I needed, but I think I did the math correctly. I really enjoyed the haphazard scrap piecing on these. And they busted my scraps quite a bit.

Stack 'em up. Now to violently tear the foundation papers off of them. It'll be a fun mess. I used a shorter stitch length, so it shouldn't take too long. I'm guessing a couple of "Snapped" episodes or one Lifetime movie.

I have paper piecing paper I've purchased, but this ancient onionskin works well too. I think I bought this huge box of legal sized Strathmore onion skin at an estate sale years ago. I use it for tracing paper and small sewing patterns too.

This paper is probably older than all of us, but it's still bright white and works like a charm. Off to rip...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Welcome to My World

If it's your first time to my humble little blog, welcome! Sit down with a cup of something and a hunk of cheese and do what I love doing...reading blogs. So much inspiration, crafty goodness, adorable babies, and food galore.

My Sew Day Mess
My guild buddy, Rene' tagged me to join in the Around the World Blog Hop. Rene' is the founder of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, of which I am a member. Joining a guild always freaked me out; I had heard "stories," but this guild has been a delight since day one. The guild has grown from the teens in numbers to over 50 members. Although I can't participate 100% any longer because of real job, I always try to make time to attend Sew Days, workshops, and special events.

So on to answer the provocative questions you've always wanted to know about me. Just kidding, these are canned questions and my silly responses.

Wagon Wheel Blocks
1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?
Funny question, because I work on so many things when I sew. I rarely have just one project in the works. I love finding those elusive quilters who cannot start another projects until they complete the one they are working on. It blows my mind. If I didn't have at least 10, *cough* more like 50 UFOs, I think I would get twitchy. Plus, I have the attention span of a gnat. I get bored doing the same things over and over. So for me, more projects equal more happiness.

Spider Web Blocks
I'm working on Wagon Wheel and Spider Web blocks currently. I am also attempting to free motion quilt some of my smaller quilts. Making smaller projects helps hone my sewing skills. Most of what I quilt or sew is inspired by blog reading, my crafty friends, and quilting sites. I'm a computer taught sewist and highly addicted to Pinterest.

Scrappy Coins
I love house blocks!
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm not sure my work differs much from others, as I'm usually using inspiration from others to create my own projects. I love color and much of what I make is a riot of color. I provide sunglasses for all my quilt recipients. Being a graphic designer, I've worked with color on paper and computers for over 25 years, but the fabric equivalent of this process continues to amaze me. Playing quilter probably makes me a better graphic designer as well.

Leaning Tower of Fabric
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
To me, quilting is complete relaxation. Free motion quilting and zippers still make me sweat a little, but I can see progress in those techniques each time I try them. Buying and collecting fabric has to be at the top of why I sew. I collected fabric and textiles long before I sewed, so subconsciously I must have been a quilter at heart.

My great grandmothers were quilters and I'm lucky to have a quilt from each of them. My mom and aunt did a fair amount of sewing and needlework as well as pottery, macrame, and painting. I suppose I have artistic genes or perhaps come from generations that liked to create things. My son and daughter are artistic, so I'd like to hope I had something to do with that.

The random process of piecing with scraps is probably my favorite way to quilt. I spent a lot of time on the Quiltville site when I first started and have made several of Bonnie's mystery quilts. I love the randomness and variety of scrap quilts.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?
Usually I see something I love and jump right in. I'm not a huge planner or one of those that struggles to make a decision. Trying new things is one of the perks of sewing. There's always some new project, technique, process to try. It's fascinating. I've tried traditional quilt blocks, mystery quilts, swaps, group projects, modern quilting, bags, pouches, toys, and the list goes on.

I'm also quite good at abandoning a projects if I'm no longer having fun. No regrets. Like I said, I get bored quickly. Miniature quilts are perfect for me. I hosted a Doll Quilt Swap for a couple ofl years and had a blast partnering up quilters to swap little quilts. The participants were beginners to experts and everyone had fun getting squishy mail once a month in the form of a little quilt. Most of the monthly swaps had no theme, as I like to challenge quilters to use their creativity versus stay with a theme. But one month, I jokingly wrote that the theme would be "Purple Poodles Riding Chocolate Glazed Donuts in the Sky." I told them I was joking, but one of the funny girls sent the beauty above to me. You gotta love quilters! Best people in the world.

I'm tagging any and all of you to write a blog post and answer these thought-provoking questions! The rules say you have a week, but I'm not very rulish. Let me know in the comments if you want to play along and I'll be sure to come by to say hi! Thanks for stopping by!

1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on? 
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Monday, September 1, 2014

No Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to all my US friends. I have the day off from real job, so that's fun. Plus, there's potato salad. How better can the day get?

Everything is better with cheese! I won a $50 gift certificate for President cheeses. Yesterday, the Inspector and I had brunch at Hamburger Mary's and stopped by Tar-jay to get my cheese loot. They didn't have a huge selection, but I had fun! Manchego, goat, and brie. Hooray! I'm going to stuff slices of brie in baby bella mushrooms and bake them later today.

My cousin got me hooked on the documentary "Grey Gardens" made in the 1970s. It's about Jacqueline Kennedy's relatives that lived in the Hamptons. I've been meaning to watch the film adaptation with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. I found the DVD at the library when I was there for Sew Day. The film version provided some back story that explained a lot. If you haven't seen these, check them out.

And lookie what else the library had. They call them "Playaways," and it's an all-in-one audio book. You put a battery in it, attach your earbuds and away you go. Beats watching episodes of "Snapped" all day when I'm at the sewing machine. I think I've seen all the sordid episodes anyway.

My guild buddies gifted me with pretty selvages at Sew Day Saturday. I must play with these soon. As usual, everyone is creating with gorgeous fabrics. It's fun to see what they're using.

Today I'm going to play with my spider web blocks and eat potato salad. I might take a boat ride around the lake later when the gang's all here. Have fun!
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