Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moments In My Weekend

Nephew playing catcher

Gondolas in Venice Mosaic

Rialto Bridge Mosaic
QAL Block 11 - first foundation pieced block

Biscuits in process for the sleepover crowd

Yoga Mat Bag finished

QAL Block 12 - first machine applique

And then there were 12
More detail on another post about the QAL Blocks and the Yoga Mat Bag.
Enjoy your Sunday,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday: T-Shirt Chronicles Part III

In my post last Saturday about my latest podcast, I slipped in that I was going to take a break from the T-Shirt quilt.  I intended to fold it up neatly and hang it in my closet along with my other WIP's but it never made it.  I did fold it up neatly but then it sat in front of the TV, taunting me with comments such as, "You're going to let pieces of fabric beat you?" and "Susan....get your butt in gear and finish me, I want to be finished!".  I listened:
T-Shirt Quilt 96 x 71
Why not a sideways shot? 
After some helpful motivation and advice from my quilting buddy Zina, I decided to finish this quilt top up.  We were both working on projects which we were dreading so we kind of goaded each other into getting those things done so we could feel better.  As for the advice, she suggested using the walking foot for piecing as sewing the Kona Cotton to the interfacing backed jersey fabric was making me crazy. The fabrics didn't like each other and were bunching up  - by switching to the walking foot my problem was solved.

Other Projects in Production:
Block 11 of Sew Happy Quilt QAL 
Yoga Mat Bag fabric washed, cut and ready to go
I made the Chopped Salad with Bacon and Fried Garbanzo Bean recipe that Debbie from A Quilter's Table showcased yesterday on her blog.  Let me say that fried Garbanzo Beans are amazing - crunchy, creamy, salty and spicy - wonderfulness all wrapped up in a tiny package.  Try them!  
Chopped Salad with Bacon and Fried Garbanzo Beans
I'm linking up (a little late...busy at school) to WIP Wednesday with Lee from Freshly Pieced today. Please go visit and see what she's been working on - you must see her New York Beauty QA quilt block.- stunning!

Did you know it was National French Bread Day?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

T@tT: Double-Chocolate Espresso Walnut Cookies

I love to read the newspaper in the morning while drinking my tea as the sun streams in my front windows.  I don't usually have time to read the entire paper in depth but there are days in which a favorite section or two must be read.  Thursdays for as far back as I can remember has been the Food section and I've been reading, cutting and cooking from that section for years.  This is my stack of Food sections from the past month or so.....need to get recipe cutting and organized into my recipe binder.  
Well the Thursday Food section is no longer as The Los Angeles Times has moved their food coverage to a new Saturday section.  Without getting off topic, I was looking forward to this new section thinking it would have expanded coverage as the Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold has just joined the Times, but no luck so far - the food portion is now a measly 4 pages.  Bummer. 

But there is a sweet ending to my story:  Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies!  In the March 17, 2012 Saturday section there was a Culinary SOS column in which Double-Chocolate Espresso Walnut Cookies were featured from a restaurant here in the greater Los Angeles area called Julienne ~ which after checking out their website, I need to go there for lunch someday.  They caught my eye as they were made with chocolate (which I love) and espresso (which people I love, love) so I thought I would give them a try.  I omitted the walnuts as nobody around here likes them but followed the reminder of the recipe exactly.  My were they ever good.  (I had to have a little nibble...)   
Double-Chocolate Espresso Cookies

I'm linking up with Debbie with her Tuesday at the Table feature today - she's posted about a salad that I'm dying to try....go check it out!  
Happy First Day of Spring!  
Enjoy your Tuesday,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 23 Two Color Quilts

Forget about St. Patrick's Day, it's National Quilting Day! Oh I jest...just pulling your leg about forgetting about St. Patrick's Day - cause I'm 1/2 Irish!  I'll be attending a St. Patrick's Day Block Party tonight and am looking forward to a great time with my wonderful neighbors.  I need to bring an appetizer so I think I'll make a crab/cheese dip my mother used to make - it's served hot so I'll bring it in my little fondue pot.

Yesterday I recorded my latest podcast (Episode 23) about Two Color Quilts, a topic suggested to me by my fellow quilting podcaster, Daisy of Lazy Daisy Quilts.  Thank you Daisy!

I talked about making Italian Sausage and zucchini pasta from Sunset Magazine.  You can find the recipe here.  Very light and super flavorful. Easily adapted with more vegetables or a different pasta.
Italian sausage and zucchini pasta from Sunset Magazine
What I am working on:
The T-Shirt Quilt and I are taking a little break from each other.  Although I did not speak of that in the podcast, I looked at it last night as I was taking it off my bed and decided that I should be working on fun things right now.  I'll be back at work on the Sew Happy Quilt today in honor of National Quilting Day.  Go check out Sandy's blog at Quilting...for the rest of us as she is hosting a Giveaway in honor of today's festivities.

Two Color Quilts:
Here is the HGTV link to the Simply Quilts segment hosted by Alex Anderson called Two-Color Quilt Show.  It's a six minute segment about an exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles called Take 2: Quilts in Two Colors. Check it out here.

Here's a link to a very modern black & white quilt called Vortex in Variation by Nora Ronningen.  Her mother blogged at Collector With A Needle about the experience of having her daughter's quilt shown at the International Quilt Market in Houston last year.
Vortex in Variation by Nora Ronningen
Here is the PR flyer for the Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts show that was hosted by the American Folk Art Museum in March of 2011.  They even have a free iPhone App to view all 651 Red & White Quilts in the exhibit.  Check it out here.

Martha Stewart blogged about the Infinite Variety show here and has numerous photos.

Here is the Green & White Modified Bento Box quilt which is made by Anya who blogs at Hills Creek Quilter.  I just love how she used different shades of green. She blogged about it here.

Time for me to make breakfast for the's definitely a pancake morning and mine will have more blueberries than pancake batter.  hehe
Take care, stay safe and have fun.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Community Cookbook Recipe

Community cookbooks are fascinating food history as they document what groups are eating in specific geographic locations within exact time frames. It would appear that with any gathering of women who belong to a group (church, school, crafting, musical, etc.) eventually they will gather together their combined favorite recipes, have them published and sell them as a fundraiser. The PTA at my children's elementary school did just that in 2006 with a few recipes of my own included.  When cooking from a Community Cookbook that has recipes from people you know, it adds another layer of community - I enjoy contacting the people whose recipes I use to tell them that I was thinking of them while cooking along with their wonderful recipe.

Wondering when they began? Would you be surprised to learn that here in the United States we've been producing Community Cookbooks since the Civil War?  Just like the Signature Quilts I spoke about in Episode 21 where a few women made Signature Quilts during the Civil War to raise funds for uniforms and supplies for the soldiers, Community Cookbooks also had their beginnings during the Civil War as a way to fund raise for the Northern cause.  By the time World War I came around, approximately 6,000 had been published (go here to read Michelle Green's Food & Wine Dec '02 article for more).

Last night for dinner I made Chicken Avocado Tortilla Soup from my local Community Cookbook. Not only a light soup, but it's a real time saver as the chicken is cooked in the broth. Start to finish this recipe took me about 40 minutes to prepare. It's also a very adaptable recipe based on your tastes as you can make it as spicy as you like, add in more tomatoes or chicken, omit the cheese or avocado, etc.
Chicken Avocado Tortilla Soup
Chicken Avocado Tortilla Soup
 4 T. Olive oil
1/4 c red or white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
3/4 t. ground cumin
3/4 t. dried oregano leaves
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. pepper
8 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes - or use fresh
1 4 oz can diced green chile's - any strength you prefer
1 1/2 lbs. boneless & skinless chicken breasts
4-6 corn or flour tortillas - cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 or more ripe avocado - cut into slices
2 T. fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded

In a large pot suitable for soup, heat up the olive oil and add in the onion and garlic and gently cook for about 5 minutes.  Add in the cumin, oregano, cayenne and pepper and let cook about 1 more minute until fragrant.  Add in the broth, tomatoes and green chilies. Bring to a boil  and then let simmer for about 10 minutes.  While broth is simmering, cut up the chicken into small 1/2 inch slices.  Remember this is a soup in which you want the chicken to fit in your spoon.  
Meanwhile heat up a pan (I used my cast iron) on your stove top and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  Add in the tortilla slices and fry just until both sides are crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate for later.  
Tortilla slices frying up in the cast iron pan. 
After the broth had it's 10 minute simmer period add in the chicken and let cook about five minutes.  Because the slices are so small and the broth so hot, it will cook to the necessary temperature very fast.  This is not something you want to let simmer on your stove for long as the chicken will get tough.  Tough chicken is not good.  
Now you are ready to plate.  
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the tortilla slices, avocado slices, cheese and cilantro to your taste. 

Let me know if you make Chicken Avocado Tortilla Soup and what you thought of it.  I will be calling my friend who added this recipe to our Community Cookbook to let her know I made it last night.  I haven't spoken to her in ages so I'm looking forward to connecting again over food.  
Enjoy your Friday - be productive and eat some good food.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Birthday

Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to my first child. For many who read this sixteen may seem trivial but to me this is an important time - he's completely in teenager mode but mindful of his future with his eye on college.  He's a young man just two short years away from jumping into the rest of his life.  No doubt he will go away to college, which I guess at some point will sadden me, but for now I cannot help but help guide him and cheer him on while he makes wise choices and plans for his college years.

Once I could carry him:
so hard to believe he was once that little
Not anymore:
he could easily carry me now
I love this boy with every piece of my being.  He opened my world, taught me how to be a good mother and is my biggest fan.  Oh and he loves my food.   Having celebrations and milestones like today are a great reminder of the wonderful things in life which help to even out the challenges. 

I'm working on a couple of big projects for school but thankfully have had a bit of time at the sewing machine to keep myself from completely going crazy with a little progress on the t-shirt quilt for my cousin.  Sewing up those four-squares was maddening as I kept having to rip out seams and sew them again to get the center points to line up.  So maybe it made me a little crazier?  hehe - just kidding.
each square is 24"x 24"
I'm doing good ~ healing a bit I believe.  Getting used to my new normal.  With the really tough jobs behind me and a bit of closure yesterday I'm looking toward the future with a positive lens - even have a script started for my next podcast which I plan to record on Wednesday.  For me, the fact that I have the yearning to record feels very good.  

Time for me to get back to my schoolwork ~ hope you are all having a great weekend,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

T@tT: Chocolate Ganache

I love hot fudge sundaes: A scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream and yes, the cherry.  My favorite part is the combination of the vanilla ice cream wedded with the hot fudge - love the contrast as it seems to bring out the chocolaty hot fudge flavor even more.  After I began reading labels on cans/jars years ago I stopped purchasing favorite items such as hot fudge sauce and began making it myself.

I've tried various hot fudge/chocolate sauce recipes over the years and have settled on this simple chocolate ganache recipe which I can whip up in about three minutes with the aid of my microwave and careful/patient stirring.

Three minute Chocolate Ganache
about 3/4 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (use any kind you like)
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Microwave safe bowl  (I use a 6 oz ramekin - holds about 3/4 cup)

I start with the chocolate chips in the bowl:

Then add in the cream just to about the height of the chocolate chips:

Then put in your microwave for 1 minute - it will look like this when it comes out:
Let that sit about a minute to let the hot cream do it's magic on the chocolate chips, then begin stirring - slowly.  It will seem like it will never emulsify together but trust me, it will.
After about 30 seconds it will look like this:
Almost there...
And at about the one minute mark of stirring you should have a glossy unctuous looking Chocolate Ganache, just waiting for me to put on my vanilla ice cream: 

Nope not for me...have about five weeks to go before I can enjoy this treat.  Instead the rest of the house enjoyed this:
Brownie Sundae 
What's nice about the Chocolate Ganache is that whatever is left can go in the fridge and can be heated up for another day.

I'm linking up with Debbie from A Quilter's Table today for her Tuesday at the Table Feature - love her new button!

Enjoy your Tuesday,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 22 Life Changes

Happy Saturday to all,

I've just uploaded History Quilter Podcast Episode 22 Life Changes to Podbean and hopefully iTunes will have it shortly.

Here are a few photos of things I spoke about:
My garden - about to plant cauliflower, cabbage, more tomatoes, lettuce and spinach.
My "back 40" - approximately 15' x 20'
Block 10 of the Sew Happy Quilt QAL
HST Diamond 12"x 12"
One last photo of School Yard held up by younger son.  Silly boy. 

If you are interested in how I cooked the fish tacos I spoke about let me know and I'll either write a blogpost or send you an email.

Felt good to record this podcast - hope you enjoy,

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday: A School Yard Finish

Although I showed this to you yesterday, here is my grand finale post shouting out to the world that I've finished a quilt!

School Yard
The Details:
School Yard
Pattern: Square One from Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home.
Fabric: Punctuation by American Jane for Moda Fabrics - top, back & binding.  Sashing on top is Snow Bella Solids.
Size: 61" x 53"
Pieced and bound by me
Quilted by: Karen Kimmel - a long arm quilter from my guild who brought life to this quilt.
Started: January 2011
Finished: Sunday, February 25, 2012
Who is it for: Initially this quilt top had no intended recipient, but sometime in the middle of last year I participated in a Crafty Pay-It-Forward Challenge on Facebook and a lovely Kindergarten teacher friend of mine played along.  So School Yard is for her and it will go perfectly in the decor of her house.

Here are a few more photos:

What else am I working on:
The T-Shirt Quilt - plan to post T-Shirt Chronicles Part III by the weekend.
Sew Happy Quilt QAL - a week behind...need to catch up.
Mug Rugs - yesterday in class I doodled a bit and designed a thank you mug rugs for various friends & family who've been very supportive this past three weeks.

I'm linking up with Lee from Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Jenna from Sew Happy Geek for Manic Monday.

Happy Leap Year Day - hope you have a fun and productive day,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

T@tT: PBCC Cookies & A Quilt Finish

I love to bake cookies.  Cookies, to me are instant gratification - Ingredients on hand, mix in a bowl, bake them up and enjoy.  The classic Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookie recipe takes me about 20 minutes to go from ingredients in the pantry to a hot cookie on the counter.  I have vivid memories of my mother teaching me how to make them when I was so young that I had to stand on a stool to see over the counter.  I was such an active child (not unlike now) that I was always falling off that stool and boy would she scold me to "calm down".  I treasure those those memories.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sunday night while watching the Academy Awards (in between commercials), my younger son and I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  This is a Hershey Kiss recipe (go here for the recipe) which after the cookies comes out of the oven, an unwrapped Hershey Kiss is placed in the center while the cookie is still hot.  So fun to come back two minutes later or so and see how the bottom part of the chocolate has melted into the cookie but the top of the chocolate retains it's shape. As you can see from my photo those are not Hershey Kisses - I actually had two huge Hershey Kisses on hand so I chopped them up and placed big chunks into the cookies.  By the way, as my younger son is a male version of me, guess who is telling him to "calm down" in the kitchen?  Too funny.

Huge quilting news....Last night I finished a quilt!  I'll have all the details and better photos tomorrow but for now here is School Yard!

School Yard - 61" x 53"

My quilter did an amazing job. 
A label!  Now I just have to write on it.  
I'm linking up with Debbie at her Tuesday at the Table Feature...she posted about Hostess Cupcakes!  Silly me giving up sweets for Lent...I want one of her cupcakes NOW.  I'm also linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story - go see what others have linked up to today.

Yea it's a school day for me!
Enjoy your Tuesday,