Sunday, December 02, 2018

to sum it up . . .

It was a very quilty week! On Sunday and Monday, I finished up the seven hexie flowers that needed whipping together . . .
All forty-five flowers (and parts thereof) were together, stacked and ready to "landscape" my garden!

Monday was a dual purpose day . . . a quilty friend of mine and I headed to visit 3 Hens and a Chick, a local quilt shop in nearby Athens. 
Sarah's one of my co-conspirators in the Quilting Intrigue Club at guild and we've been ironing out the details for our guild's mystery quilt, which we'll introduce (fabric requirements) at this month's meeting. I actually picked out fabrics for the quilt while we were there (I've got to stay at least one step ahead):
The yardage on the right is for the mystery quilt. It's QT Fabric's Whisper (with the exception of the middle piece which was Oasis Fabric's Romance). Isn't this line yummy???!!! It's whimsical and sophisticated, all at the same time. I'm so excited to work with it! The fat quarters on the left were ... well, just fun finds (an in case you couldn't tell, I was already scoping suitable oranges for 2019's pumpkin projects)!  ;)
I mean gosh, there were a lot more shelves in the shop than the one that held the Whispers line. I had to browse shop them all!

From the quilt shop we headed into the square in Athens and stopped for lunch at the local tearoom. 
Aren't our spiced chais fun??

I had commitments after work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings; generally I wasn't getting home until after 9 p.m., so not much evening stitching until Thursday -- I don't have to get up for work on Fridays -- so when I got home Thursday, Todd put a movie in and I started working on my 'gardening'!

Friday was a kicked back day.  Todd and I went out and had an early lunch and did some shopping. I also did a little grocery shopping so we'd have 'game day' food for the SEC Championship game on Saturday.  Sausage balls and pigs in a blanket! Plus I got ready to celebrate the Advent of Christmas with the Advent teas the Merkel family had gifted me with for my birthday . . . 
A different tea for each day leading up to Christmas! I thought it would be fun to hang a week's worth of them (and prudent, so I wouldn't forget) over our coffee/tea station! Do you want to know how hard it's been to wait over a month to start trying these teas?!?  :)

Through the weekend I've worked in earnest on the Mod Flower Fall project . . .
This sheet has been SO helpful through every stage of this project. I've now whipped up ten of the sixteen rows, and stitched the first four rows together. 
I don't think ... even though I knew the dimensions from plotting it out in EQ ... that I am prepared for how BIG this is going to be. LOL!  Just these first seven rows are over 4' in length. I'm stitching up the rows individually, first.  Then I'll stitch the rows together in sections ... and then finally I'll stitch the sections together.  I think that'll make it the most manageable. 

Saturday, in between the Texas vs. Oklahoma and the Alabama vs. Georgia games (Roll Tide!), I went out into the Nook for a bit of machine sewing.  I stitched together the first pole twist valance, backed and turned it.  It still needs to be quilted, but I love this look!
It'll be fun to have it hanging over the window across from where I sit, so I can SEE it. I also did some teeny, tiny blocks for the matching mug rug.
I was channeling my inner rogue quilter for this bitty thing -- 1-1/4" HSTs!!  I've got fabric cut for the second valance, and I still need to work on the matching runner.  But I'm confident after finishing the first one that it'll all stitch together quickly!

Today's slow stitching will definitely be back at the hexie flowers ... making that garden grow! Linking up with Kathy's Quilts for that.  May your Sunday be filled with blessing and rest ... so you're ready to face Monday and a new week!!

:)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

the weekend of thanksgiving . . .

This is going to be a culmination post ... covering the long weekend which isn't really over, because we get Monday, too -- but that will be for another day's post.

Wednesday was pie and prep day. I love pie and prep day! This year's was particularly good because I found the *best* pecan pie recipe. Pecan Pie is Todd's favorite, and for years I've struggled to find a recipe that felt no-fail and tasted delicious.  
This year, thanks to Genius Kitchen and PCrocker, my search is over. I admit that I made a few changes right off the bat ... because I've never met a recipe that I couldn't tweak ... but I don't feel they were terribly significant. The recipe calls for 3/4 cups each of light and dark corn syrup. I had light only, so I used 1-1/2 cups of it and instead did 1/2 cup each of white and brown sugar, instead of the 1 cup of white sugar.  I upped the 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla to a solid 2 teaspoons (I mean, c'mon) and used pecan halves instead of coarsely broken pecans. And it was stellar. Five stars from Todd!

Thanksgiving day was beautiful here in North Alabama!  Sunny and the afternoon temps were in the low 60s, which was great, since we were eating al fresco!
Todd had a lovely fire going in the fireplace, and we had tarps up on both sides of the pavilion to keep the breeze at bay. I cook the turkey at the oven in the pavilion ... because turkeys do not fit in the RV oven! It means a lot of back and forth for basting, but I do believe it was worth the effort . . .
Oh yeah! He was pretty spectacular! We had a lovely spread and something about mid-way down the buffet must have caught Ellie's eye--I'm pretty sure it was apple pie!
I love that we share the day with family! We missed our California crew very much, but got to spend some FaceTime with them. ♥

Friday was Turkey Soup day. This is a time-honored tradition that dates back to at least my childhood and it's one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods!
I had a bit of a mishap with the process, which I won't go into here, but we recovered nicely and had soup to share. (Along with homemade bread and semi-homemade eggnog!)

Saturday was a play-in-the-Nook day and Iron Bowl day! Roll Tide! Mary of Needled Mom had shared a photo of a Twisted Pole runner she'd made.  I found the pattern source at Vicki's Fabric Creations.  Vicki is incredibly talented; she had created the pattern and very sweetly emailed it to me.  I plugged it into EQ (see comment above regarding tweaking recipes) and then resized it for a window valance. And then again for a mug rug.  I'll be all Christmas matchy-matchy!
Runner - 36" X 16"
Valance - 37" X 11"
MugRug - 8.5" X 5.5"
I started the process yesterday and got all 48 of my 2-1/2" HSTs cut for the first valance; now to trim them to size! 
It is a process. But making them was really easy -- I used the 'eight-at-a-time' method (as described on Blueprint). So stitching them up was quick. 

By 2:30 it was time to come in for the Iron Bowl! Roll Tide!  I admit that I struggled a little bit to stay with it in the first half. I was a little anxious! But the second half was a little more relaxed. Enough that I was able to work on whipping up some hexi flowers. 
I've made a LOT of progress this week--all things considered--and only have seven more flowers to go!
Whoohoo!!  I'd love to finish those up today -- perfect slow Sunday stitching, no??  In no time I'll be connecting flowers!

Enough from me . . . linking up to Kathy's Quilts this morning . . . be sure to stop by and see what others are working on this lovely Sunday!

:)

Friday, November 23, 2018

feline memories . . .

Sarah, over at sarah did it!, dedicated her post-Thanksgiving Feline Friday post to "all the cats I've loved before."  I've loved a few!

Starting with my very first cat . . . 
Batman. I got him as a kitten from my grandma's house; I must have been around nine.  I adored him and he was so handsome. My first B&W!

We had cats in and out of the house growing up ... family cats. But the next cat the came along that was all mine was Pooka.  I hope to add a photo of Pooka later . . . he was a darling pure-bred Persian. Only he had no voice. His meow was a tiny little whisper, which meant I got him for free (and without papers). He was an all white kitty (with a tiny patch of black hairs on his forehead) ... and Pooka was quite the appropriate name for him!  Ever watch Jimmy Stewart's Harvey?

Then, along came Gwenevere.  She was a barn rescue and my second B&W! She was full of cattitude and had BIG personality!
Lots of stories I could share about this sassy cat.  She lived into her late teens and in spite of her sassiness was such a sweet companion. I still miss her very much.

Gwenevere made the move from Maryland to Alabama with me.  Once here, I decided she needed a companion and Todd gifted me with Merlin for my second birthday in Alabama . . . 
Merlin was a rescue, too.  And such a funny little boy.  He wanted to love on Gwenevere, but it took her a LONG time to warm up to him.  He went to live with James when we made the full time move to the RV, and lived to the ripe old age of seventeen.  I miss him, too ... he was a real lovey-dovey cat. This sweet boy was all black ... with the exception of a tiny white patch of fur on his chest (just opposite of Pooka).

So there's my tribute! Isn't it funny that my four favorites have all been black and/or white?! There've been other cats in my life . . . but these four held my heart!  What felines have held yours?

:)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

holiday and hexie prep . . .

So, after all the Pick a Pumpkin posts, this was a relatively downright quiet week! At least on the blog.  Nothing doing in real life!

Thursday I spent the day with the girls. It was snowing (?!?!?) when I left the camp, and still flurrying forty minutes later when I arrived at their house, on the other side of the county. And very cold.  So much so that Jason turned on the fireplace! The older girls had asked me to bring three things:  gum, watermelon, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  So like any obliging, decent, loving grandmother, I did. Of course I did! And I brought the makings for Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies, too!
The day was the perfect Christmas prequel.  We sat in front of the fireplace (most of us in our jammies), eating Christmas cookies, watching Christmas movies, while snow flurried intermittently from grey skies outside.  Yes, the perfect day.

Today it's sunny and in the 60's.  There's no figuring weather in North Alabama!

BUT ... I've made amazing (in *my* mind) progress on my Mod Flower Fall (the name I've finally settled on) project! Look at how few stacks of hexies I have left!
Look at how many hexie flowers I've finished!
My sheet is still working for me.  I cross off the flowers as I whip them together.  Out of the 45 I needed, I've done 24.
Only 21 more to go and I can start whipping the flowers together! I hope to zip out at least another five before the evening ends.

The rest of the week will be focused on Thanksgiving prep.  We purchased our turkey, so he's thawing and I did the rest of the grocery shopping today.  There will be a modest ten of us, but if the forecast holds true, we'll host it at the Camp!  Tonight I'll prep stuffing, tomorrow and Tuesday I'll bake pies, and Wednesday I'll peel/cut/chop things and leave them in water.  Thursday should be a relatively easy day ... how about you?

I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy's Quilts and hopefully I'll link up to sarah did it! and her HeLP post!

Happy Sunday!

:)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

pick a pumpkin winner . . .

I PROMISE am almost sure that this will be the last post that begins with "pick a pumpkin" . . . at least for another year!! It was a nice solid run of seven. :)

I had the random number generator do my dirty work and it pulled number 36.  Congratulations to Karen of Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats!  Karen, I'll send you an email to get your particulars.  :)

So I did bake a batch of those Ginger Spice Cookies I blogged about yesterday. Oh they are SO good! 
I like the ones rolled in the chunky colored sugar best . . .
Isn't that pretty? It's perfect for both autumn and Christmas baking. And I have it on good authority from granddaughter Ellie, that it makes great 'prinkles' for popcorn.  I have it custom mixed for me by Sharon at Simply Baking Supplies on Etsy.
She's really great to work with and so pleasant! And when I emailed her today to say I'd used up all my supply and needed some more, she responded that she had saved my mix amounts and would send me out some more of the same right away.  That is customer service!

Anyway, once I'd finished baking, it was time to kick back upstairs with some handwork. And some cookies. (I mean, c'mon, right?!)
I've decided I'm going to stitch up each individual flower -- all of one color at a time -- then stitch the flowers together.  
There are a total of 45 flowers.  I finished three last night. Only 42 to go?!  Hahaha! 
This printout has served me so well at every stage of this project! You can see where I marked off the first flower. I'll X off each flower as I finish. Hopefully, by today's end, I'll have at least two or three more to go with yesterday's three.  That will make for some satisfying slow Sunday stitching. I'll be linking up to Kathy's Quilts for that!

Hey!  And don't forget to thank and hug a Veteran!  We have off on Monday in observance of the day, but today, November 11, is actually Veterans Day.  
If you've served our country in one of the armed forces, you have my gratitude.  Thank you for your service!

Have a great day -- and if you're off tomorrow, enjoy your Monday! 

:)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

pick a pumpkin baking . . .

You'd think I'd be tired of if by now, but I'm not. Yesterday I closed my post talking about seasonal baking. I thought it might be fun to share the recipes of two of my very most favorite homemade autumn treats.  Cheesecake Brownies is the first -- a recipe that I found in Country Living magazine in 2007, and Ginger Spice Cookies -- a recipe I found compliments of Bon Appétit in 2000 (found on epicurious's site, link below) and is my absolute FAVE ginger cookie, perfect with a cup of tea.

Cheesecake Brownies (click to go to Country Living website/recipe)

1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
photo credit: Charles Schiller
¾ pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs
1½ cups dark brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons salt
2¼ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup apricot jam
1 cup pumpkin butter (you're not surprised, are you?!)

Heat oven to 325°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and lightly butter. Melt the butter and chocolate. Whisk 6 eggs, brown sugar, and 1 ½ cups granulated sugar together. Stir in 3 teaspoons vanilla, salt, melted chocolate, flour, add cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan. Beat cream cheese using a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the remaining 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and the cornstarch; beat until smooth and spread over the chocolate batter. Combine jam and pumpkin butter. Drop in spoonfuls onto cream cheese and draw swirls using a knife. Bake until center tests clean – about 40 minutes. Cool and cut. Makes 3 dozen.  (Blogger's note: it was fun to use a football cookie cutter and served these at 'tailgate parties'!!  Also -- these are SUPER rich!)

Ginger Spice Cookies
Makes about 30

2 c. flour
2 ½ t. ground ginger 
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
¾ t. salt
¾ c. chopped crystallized ginger
1 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
½ c. vegetable shortening, room temp.
¼ c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 large egg
¼ c. mild-flavored (light [unsulfured]) molasses

Combine flour and spices. Whisk to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (overnight’s fine, too).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Spoon sugar in thick layer onto small plate. Using wet hands, (damp? I *don't* do this), form dough into 1 ¼-inch balls; roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets, spacing 2” apart.  (Blogger's note:  I form the dough into 1" balls for a smaller--more tea like--cookie.  This ends up making more like 50 cookies. :)

Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 1 minute. Carefully transfer to racks and cool. Store airtight at room temp.

I'm making the ginger cookies right now - they're in the fridge. The crystallized ginger really makes these so yummy and special! Let me know if you decide to try one (or both)! I'm off for now ... Roll Tide!! ♥

:)

Friday, November 09, 2018

pick a pumpkin outtakes . . .

Bet you didn't expect to see that in a blog post title today! But I thought it might be kinda fun.  I shared the final projects on my Pick a Pumpkin day (which included a giftaway!) . . .
But you didn't get to see the *process*. 

I shared that originally I was just going to do the valance and added the placemats on the spur. But that's not quite true.  Originally _first_ I'd thought to do a wall-hanging . . .
Designed it in EQ and everything. Not sure what changed my mind, but it was after I'd done the first two pumpkins . . .
I thought about the Five Little Pumpkins song.  Only in my head it was four. 
But wait, you might say, that's not the border you used on the final!

You'd be right.  Because I had the row of pumpkins stitched and ready to add the backing, and I decided the sashing/border fabric wasn't what I wanted. When I was looking for my batting, I opened a bag that had the gold leaf print, and I knew that would be perfect (plus I had enough to do both the valance *and* the placemats).  And it would fit in the RV's decor. And gosh, I actually thought, Oh well, let's just get on with it and be done. But I couldn't physically make myself go any further. I tried, really I did, but I just couldn't do it! So then there was this . . .
A lot of ripping. Good grief! 

But I was very pleased with the change. So then I was looking for an appropriate backing. Because this is what happens when you take on a project, flying by the seat of your pants, without a thought-out plan in place before you start working on it.  I had a piece of a fun print I'd used for some autumn mug rugs . . .
And it was the *perfect* size with a small exception. Yeah -- that tiny rectangle missing from the bottom corner.

What do you do when the perfect print falls short, literally? 
Throw a pumpkin label on it!  And they all lived happily ever after.
Almost. A quilter *was* harmed in the making of this Pick a Pumpkin project.

But I'll live to quilt another day. The Nook, however, needs some serious attention before I can go back in there and let the creative genius flow . . .
Yikes; it may be a while before I tackle anything else . . . !

And look . . . there was one more pumpkin cookbook Kindle freebie.  I know you desperately wanted one--you'll be rockin' the pumpkin recipes next season.  LOL!  This one is Pumpkin Cookbook: Seasonal Pumpkin Recipes by Martha Stone.  Pretty straightforward, non?  I just browsed through the pages really quick, so I can't do more than say it's pumpkins and and it's free! 

Q:  Why was the Jack-o-lantern afraid to cross the road?
A:  It had no guts!!

Okay...maybe I'm ready to retire pumpkins for the year.  Or maybe not?  I believe I've got some seasonal baking left to do . . . pumkin la vista, baby!

:)