Friday, June 29, 2012

Finally Cracked The Code

I have been participating in the Modern Blocks Bee since January and every month I've been trying to figure out why my blocks are not finishing up at 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 per the block instructions.  Each month I have added another fine tuning step to my process:  pay very close attention when I cut fabric, turned off the steam setting on my iron so not to shrink the fabric and have been sewing slowly - taking my time through the process.  Six months in and the June block was a mess.  Way off in what the overall size should be. But I have good news...

I cracked it - I finally figured out what was wrong.  My (excuse me) &$^#$ 1/4" foot is about 1/8" off.

I will not be using my 1/4" foot anymore.  After realizing that this foot was the problem, it annoyed me to no end how in the two+ years I've been using this foot, my sewing has been incorrect.  Has this ever happened to you?

The upside?  By figuring out what was wrong I made it right - the July block is accurate! So it needs to be ironed a bit but it's the right size.  Hallelujah!
Binary by Angela Pingel 
In other news, I finished up the skirt from the pattern and fabric I purchased last week at Joann's. A perfect summer skirt that came together very fast although I wish that pattern makers would make zipper directions more clear. The zipper was a bit challenging but I made it work.

A new summer skirt
Have a great weekend everybody - I'll be on the soccer field sidelines, playing on a soccer field and watching the Euro 2012 final with Italy v Spain.  Go Italia!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

T@t{summer}Table: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Happy National Chocolate Pudding Day!

I know, it seems kind of silly but here in the United States we have commemorative food holidays that are (somewhat) honored monthly and daily.  There are food holidays that are proclaimed by our President, voted in with Congress or made up with money - copious amounts of money by corporations and PR firms.  For a monthly list of national food holidays visit for their article about American Food Holidays.  

Because I love chocolate pudding and today corresponds with Debbie's Tuesday at the {summer}Table featured theme of desserts, I planned ahead and knew I would be making chocolate pudding last night for today's post.  After looking around for a recipe that seemed fun to try I landed on Peanut Butter-Milk Chocolate Puddings by Dede Wilson from the Janary 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. 

Peanut Butter-Milk Chocolate Puddings in 6 oz glass jars

They were good and so very rich as they were made with both whole milk and heavy cream.  At only 3/4 cup/6 ounces of pudding in each of those jars, they appear too small of a dessert but wow do they pack a punch - there was no way I was going in for another one.  But my boy however....

wanted them all.  For the record he also stopped at one.  

I'm linking up with Debbie from A Quilter's Table for her Tuesday at the {summer}Table this week.  Go check out what other's have been posting throughout the month of June for the {summer}table.  
Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quilt Shop Running and Levitated Mass

Saturday I had the pleasure of driving around parts of Los Angeles,Orange and San Bernardino Counties with listener Tami and her friend Debbie as we visited seven different quilt shops on the Southern California Quilter's Run.  We had such a great time figuring out where they were located, meeting funny demo gals, enjoying a great lunch and looking for new fabrics, rulers and notions.  Five of the seven stores we visited were new to me and I look forward to visiting them again soon.  Well, maybe not the ones so far away - I'll catch them again on the next run.

I did pick up some fun new things:
They are: Varsity and Fast Forward Patterns from Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts.  A Little Duffle Do It by Karen West and Bridget's Bagettes by Atkinson Designs.
The Rulers:  4 1/2" x 4 1/2" and the Lazy Angle Creative Grids rulers, A Quick Quarter II by Quilter's Rule and the Wing Clipper from Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Design.  

Today I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for a school project where I was to view paintings of children to help me write an analysis of how those children were portrayed contrasted to the Approaches to Adolescence concepts I've been learning in my summer class.  It was a great visit and I appreciate the assignment but it was so difficult to walk around LACMA without stopping, drooling and pondering about many other artworks. As I was with others I did not have the luxury to take my time but I hope to get back there again before the summer ends.

Totally by chance, Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer formally went on display yesterday on the LACMA grounds and of course I had to walk over and take a look.  Yes, it is huge - at 340 tons how could it not be. Was it a waste to truck this megalith 105 miles from the Jurapa Valley in Riverside County to Los Angeles? Levitated Mass never took the freeway on it's journey - it traveled on side streets the entire way by night and even came very close to my own home.  A lot of controversy surrounded the move with many of the opinion of what a poor choice of resources it was to move a rock.  What do you think?
Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer
Gotta run put the finishing touches on my dessert for Tuesday at the {Summer}Table tomorrow.  :)
Buona Serra~

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Latte Quilt Travels and A Giveaway

Last October I shared here about an opportunity to make a quilt top for Hoffman Fabrics for their display at the upcoming Fall Quilt Market 2011.  I think I had about a week to get it done and mail it to their offices in Mission Viejo, CA so they in turn had time to get it quilted and bound before it left for Texas.
Latte Quilt 
Here are the details:
Latte Quilt
Quilt top Started & Finished:  October 2011
Fabrics: Mixture of Batiks and Screened Prints from Hoffman Fabrics 
42" x 39"
Quilt top/binding and backing made by me
Quilting done by Nena McCane
Binding attached by Sandy Muckenthaler of Hoffman Fabrics

Here it is on their display at Quilt Market with a photo taken by the wonderful Marilyn Pond of Marilyn's Maze . I was thrilled when she e-mailed me a photo of my quilt in the Hoffman Fabrics display booth as it was fun to think of a part of me there.  Someday I'll get there in person.
Latte Quilt at Quilt Market
After Quilt Market the Latte Quilt traveled to Minneapolis, MN with a Hoffman Fabrics sales rep for a show in November 2011 and in late December I received an e-mail from Mary of Quilt Shack in Dubuque, IA telling me that my quilt had just visited her store. She went on to ask if I had a pattern that she could purchase for wholesale  - that alone just about did me in.  Someone asking me for a quilt pattern?  

The Latte Quilt apparently loves to travel just as much as I do and although it is now back in my home, it is destined to go traveling again.  I'm offering up the Latte Quilt for any reader whom thinks they would like this in their home, office, coffee house, etc., as a wall hanging (42" x 39"). *Just to be clear, I do not want the quilt back.* If you are interested in the Latte Quilt please leave me a comment below as to why you would like to have it.  I'll choose where this quilt will go next by Thursday, June 28th.  

Happy Saturday ~ have fun and be safe.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday: Rainbow Jello And An Introduction To Quilting

Thursdays are typically pool day during the summer and because today was the first "summer pool day" I pulled out a color wheel of Jello (Sandy, does this count as a Total Color Tuesday addition?) and went to work on Nine Layer Finger Jello.

It takes forever to make but the end result is so tasty and looks pretty good too. The Jello layers are made like Jello jigglers with less water and unflavored gelatin added.  The white layers are sweetened condensed milk mixed with unflavored gelatin and water.
Nine Layer Finger Jello
Interspersed between adding each of the bottom layers into the pan and cooling in the refrigerator, I chauffeured here and there but also popped into Joann's for a quick visit and walked out with this:

A cute flower print and a new skirt pattern that I couldn't resist.  The perfect 75 degree sunny afternoons we've been enjoying are encouraging me to make a new skirt for myself.

In between the orange and red layer of the Nine Layer Finger Jello I had the great pleasure and honor of introducing a lovely 12 year old neighbor gal of mine to quilting.  Her mother had asked me a few weeks back if I would be interested in teaching her daughter about quilting/to quilt and of course I could not refuse. 
Teaching + Quilting = A Happy Susan

We spent an hour just having fun: I showed her what I was currently working on, my supplies, fabric and then gave her some basics on how to use a rotary cutter.  The last part of her introduction was online - it was fun to show her my own blog but also share with her many of the wonderful quilting blogs I follow.  I even assigned a bit of homework - checking out blogs.  At the end of our visit we brainstormed a field trip to a local quilt shop to enable her to pick out fabrics to start on her own quilt.  I so enjoyed our visit and look forward to our field trip soon.  

I'm off to find my cleats and soccer ball and head to the soccer field. Perhaps I'll score a goal tonight.  
Hope you're having fun wherever you are,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

T@t{summer}T: Cast Iron Grilled Chicken with Lilac Ratatouille

Grilling is the theme this week over at Debbie's Tuesday at the {summer}Table feature and although my BBQ is closed during the week, last night I pulled out my Cast Iron Grill Pan and went to work.  I had no plan, no recipe or thought to what the final outcome for dinner might be other than to grill some chicken and use my Lilac Bell Pepper.  

My first step was to find out how this baby tasted as I needed to know if it was sweet like a red bell or armpit tasting like a green bell (yes, I'll admit not a fan of the green bell pepper) or somewhere in between?  

I could tell by how it felt that it had a pretty thin hull and upon cutting it open I confirmed that thought but what caught me by surprise was the white inside.  Unfortunately I must tell you that the Lilac bell pepper didn't taste like much of anything.  No sweetness but no armpit taste either so the idea of using this raw in a salad was out, it would need to be cooked and seasoned.

Next up was grilling my chicken.  I wanted the chicken to cook evenly so I sliced each boneless chicken breast in half horizontally so I could have pieces that were all the same thickness.  The uniformity of the chicken makes grilling indoors so much easier as (theoretically) all of the pieces should be done at the same time.

Into another pan went onion, garlic to sweat for a while and then I threw in the bell peppers.  I let all cook together for about 10 minutes.  I was going for a modified ratatouille so I added in some tomatoes just before I plated my dinner.

I served my Cast Iron Grilled Chicken with Cavatappi  (a corkscrew shaped pasta with ridges) that had been lightly seasoned with olive oil and a bit of Parmesan cheese, and then covered with my Lilac ratatouille and a basil chiffonade from my garden.  Chiffonade is such a fun word - sounds so pretentious for thinly sliced basil.
Cast Iron Grilled Chicken with Lilac Ratatouille

Dinner was a success all around as it was light, well seasoned and contained a multitude of textures and flavors.

One last item for today  ~ my Latte Quilt came back to me yesterday via the UPS man. This was the quilt I made for Hoffman Fabrics  for Quilt Market in Houston, TX last year.  I'll have more on a future post about where it has been and where it is going (Giveaway opportunity!).

Latte Quilt 42" x 39"

I'm linking up with Debbie at her Tuesday at the {summer}Table feature today.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 28 Longarm Machines

Just a quick blogpost to let you know that History Quilter Podcast Episode 28 where I speak about the history of Longarm Quilting Machines is now available on Podbean, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.  You can also listen directly from this page with the link on the right.

Here's a photo of the Cinnamon Rolls I stated to talk about in the episode but then became distracted by one of my boys.  I think they both walked in about 10 times...
Cinnamon Rolls
I'll be back later to add in the content of what I spoke about but for now I'm off to take an online midterm and get ready for class.
Good luck with your Monday,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fresh Greens

I need your help - I've got twelve blocks from the Sew Happy Geek QAL that I finished up a few months back that I want to sew together into a quilt.  I was out shopping yesterday and brought the blocks with me to see how they looked with various Kona colors in the quilt shop.  I choose to go in the green direction instead of blue as I think it balances out the blocks better. What do you think?  

I ventured out into the garden today to deep soak my tomatoes and do a bit of weeding/trimming and came away with a tiny little harvest: 
A lilac sweet bell pepper, two roma tomatoes and two tiny zucchini.  
The zucchini flowers on my plant are teasing me with their potential to be stuffed or fried.  I've never eaten or made stuffed zucchini flowers but I'm dying to try something new.

Happy Saturday everybody - be safe and have fun,

P.S. The title of today's post is courtesy of my 14 yr old.  He walked by as I was writing the post and I asked him what he thought I should title the post with...."fresh greens" he replied with a smile.  Love that boy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

T@t{summer}T: A Corn On The Cob Survey

Yes, it's the Wednesday evening edition of my linking up with Tuesday at the has me very busy right now.  

Debbie from A Quilter's Table is hosting Tuesday at the {summer}Table this month and this week her suggested recipe category is Salads and Vegetables.  So why corn on the cob? Well, it's in season so fresh corn should be out-of-this-world good and a conversation with a friend a few months back about the proper length of time corn should be boiled (5 minutes for me) has been stirring around in my head, waiting for me to figure it out.  So instead of focusing on a vegetable recipe this week, I decided to do a little survey on Twitter and Facebook to see how other's cook their corn on the cob.

So what did my survey reveal on Facebook and Twitter about how other's cook their corn on the cob?  With three comments on Twitter and thirteen on Facebook, boiling was the overall winner in terms method with times ranging from 6-10 minutes and I was a bit surprised because I thought I would be in the minority for how short my cooking time is. A quick survey on various cooking websites confirmed those times with the explanation that as corn has natural enzymes in it, heat acts like a catalyst which turns the sugars in corn  into starches making corn that has been cooked too long less sweet.  Ahh, so that made sense - for sweeter corn, a short boil/simmer is optimal.  
Corn cut off the cob for the boy with the braces
What about some other cooking methods?  While steaming, microwaving and throwing them in the fire-pit were all mentioned, the method I am looking forward to trying is grilling on the BBQ.  Many mentioned brushing with melted butter and sprinkling on S&P and putting straight on the grill while others added wrapping in foil before adding to the grill.  I'll be buying corn at the Farmer's Market this Sunday for my first attempt at grilling and can't wait to taste the results.

Yesterday I sewed up the June block for the Modern Blocks Bee.  Valerie asked us to choose between four different blocks with the fabric she sent us and I settled on Little Square, Big Square by Kim Schaefer of the Little Quilt Company.  This was a quick block that came together in about 30 minutes.

Little Square, Big Square from Modern Blocks designed by Kim Schaefer

I'm linking up with Debbie at her Tuesday at the{summer}Table feature tonight. Go see Becky's Fried Okra recipe - think I'm going to try it myself just to spook the family.  

One last thing, my youngest is "graduating" from 8th grade tomorrow.  Where did my little cutie pie go?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Finish: Late Night Mug Rugs

Last weekend I was lamenting that I was a quilter who never quilts as it has felt like forever since I had the opportunity to sew much less finish something.  My trip away was the jump start I needed to get out some fabric and start cutting.  Monday evening I pulled out a FQ (fat quarter) stack of A Stitch in Color by Malka Dubrawsky that I won in a giveaway from Debbie from A Quilter's Table way back in February and then I remembered what Debbie had recently made with the same fabric.  Debbie and I both agreed that this fabric is not automatically an easy me it doesn't call out for a specific project but when I saw her post in May about the potholders she had made with it, I had my muse.  Please visit her post here for her inspiration of where she received the original idea.  Thanks Debbie!  

Mug Rug #1  9x11

Mug Rug #2   9x11

Back of both Mug Rugs
I used a new-to-me binding technique from VeryKerryBerry for a Single Binding Tutorial. I found it very helpful and easy to read and the binding went on super fast.  I finished the last stitch of binding last night at about HBO for the weekend had me up late.

So satisfying is a finish!  

If you are a podcast listener I have a request, would you please listen to the two minute test I published yesterday on Podbean and iTunes to let me know how the sound quality is?  Yesterday amidst almost eight hours helping out with the 8th grade dance I ran a quick errand to pick up a new microphone.
My new microphone
Off to conquer the day...hope you all have a great Saturday,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

T@t{summer}T: Appetizers by the Sea

As I mentioned in my prior post, I was visiting with wonderful relatives along the Oregon coast this past weekend and the subject of food came up a lot.  Of course you can imagine how that didn't bother me one bit.  From making my mother's stuffed meatloaf (a surprise for me!) to my youngest cousin making a spectacular pie crust for Apple Galette, we talked of favorite foods of our own, foods we feed our families, and prior meals shared with others.  On Saturday afternoon we even went on a quest for freshly caught Dungeness Crab to have as a component of our Saturday dinner.  After the quest we enjoyed appetizers out on the deck overlooking the beach.

It was a bit windy but the sun peeking through the clouds kept us warm for the hour that we sat outside, discussing our day, soaking up the sea air and enjoying each other's company.  It was heaven.  This branch of my family has always been known for great meals along with interesting discussion which can be challenging but always worthwhile.  

Last night for dinner I made up my own version of the Appetizers by the Sea to attempt to conjure up that Saturday afternoon feeling with flatbread, humus, sugar snap peas, marinated red bell peppers, kalamata olives, cornichons and a lentil cracker.  Not quite the same atmosphere without the family and waves crashing in the background but it was good.  

humus, kalamata olives, sugar snap peas, lentil crackers, marinated
red bell peppers, flatbread and cornichons.  

I'm linking up with Debbie at A Quilter's Table for her Tuesday at the {summer}Table feature - please go visit and link in.  It's not just about food on the table - table talk and anything you sew for the table count too - please join the {summer}fun!

Buon Appetito~

My Vacation In Pictures

This past Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to fly north to visit my cousin and her husband in Portland, Oregon. The next morning we left him at home, picked up my aunt and drove to Manzanita, Oregon where we met my other cousin and my first cousin's daughter.  No genealogical chart to illustrate the connections today but I'll just say that I was so fortunate to spend 2 1/2 days with three generations of the best women on the planet.  (To clarify, the aunt I am referring to is my father's oldest sister.) The five of us spent the weekend enjoying all types of weather, many trips down to touch the water, stories about my father and their family, children, work, food, food and more food.

I barely slept and completely ignored all of the reading material I had - the draw of watching the ocean and visiting with my family were too strong.  Sleeping and reading I can do later.

Because of time constraints, just pictures in this post - listen for descriptions of my trip in my next podcast.

The beach house, the gentle roar of the waves crashing and the changes in the sky were so enjoyable but the time with my family was priceless. Love them all so much and I am so very lucky to be a part of their family.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

P.S. - My Tuesday at the {Summer} Table is coming up a little later this morning with more detail from my trip.