Friday, September 30, 2011

September Book List

I knew once the sports got into full swing my reading time would be cut.  Lucky I got ahead over the blissfully relaxing summer!

Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott. This was another Harlan Coben recommendation for summer reads.  I like thrillers as much as the next girl, but this was an over-the-top, stretch your willing suspension of disbelief to the limit, jump the shark thriller.  Maybe I just wasn't in the mood.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon.  This was an incredibly touching book about how people with disabilities were once treated.  It broke my heart thinking of how far we've come in a few generations, but how many stories just like this one took place to get here. 

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell.  I had seen the movie - and loved it - but had never read the book.  While they were slightly different, I really enjoyed both equally.  This is a book I can imagine reading over again, because it made me want to try new things in the kitchen.  I remember feeling the same way after watching the movie, and thinking it would be a good one to own so you could watch it when you just can't face dinner one more night.

That puts me at forty-six books in thirty-eight weeks.  Six more in three months to hit my goal will be a breeze!

What are you reading?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gifts From the Studio - Tag It!

This week's gift from the studio is a mini fabric postcard that can be used as a gift tag.  In your family circle, these could be returned to you and reused every year, or they can be used by the recipient as an ornament.

While stashbusting, I found that I have an abundance of Christmas fabric.  I'm not sure why, especially since several of them are not high quality material.  I suspect that I had big crafty plans for them when I made my purchases.  Either that, or fabric really is reproducing on my shelves!

While writing this post, I realized my link to the basic instructions for fabric postcards has been taken down.  I guess Deb really did give up blogging.

You will need:
  1. Cute fabric for the front
  2. Any embellishments you'd like to add
  3. Something for the middle.  You can use batting.  I like Timtex Fast2Fuse Heavyweight or Peltex 72 - double sided fusible is best so you don't have to fuse your own, but it is sometimes hard to find.  I got mine on my visit to A Scarlet Thread.
  4. Fusible web if you couldn't find the double sided fusible.
  5. Pressing sheet so your iron and ironing board don't get gunked up (yes, that's the technical term)
  6. White muslin or other neutral backing fabric that you can write on
  7. Pigma pen or other fabric safe pen
  8. Sewing machine, coordinating thread, etc.
I roughly cut out my designs and fused them to the Timtex or Peltex.  

    Then I cut them out more precisely and fused them down to the white muslin.  Cut them out and stitch a narrow, tight zig-zag stitch around the edges.  I chain pieced these and just left them in my machine for whenever I had a spare 5 minutes to whip out a few. 

    Now you can add your message to the back.  For those I don't expect to get back, like the ones I will put on cookies or pet treats, I just wrote a general "Happy Holidays from Quiltin' Jenny" type message.  For our immediate family, I wrote to and from messages so I can reuse them each year.

    The very last thing is to add any embellishments that are dimensional.  I chose not to spend the time on that for this project, but for a birthday postcard they really add a lot of pizzazz.

    What gifts are you making in your studio this week?  Please link up for show and tell!


    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Blogger's Block of the Month

    Canton Village Quilt Works

    There are all kinds of new blocks of the month and quiltalongs going on or getting ready to start right now, and I'm jumping in.  I've never done one online - only through my guild - but I thought this might be a fun way to bust some stash, learn some new techniques, break out of my routine, and get some charity quilts put together.

    My personal rule is that I'm only shopping from my stash.  That might not last forever, since I always have lots of medium to dark prints and never enough neutrals, but right now I'm working to use up this length of WOW check that I've added to lots of quilts.  It has more than paid for itself, and deserves a good life.

    I also found a pansy print whose colors I like, but I'm no longer crazy about the print.  I'm going to try to include this in each block somehow, preferably in the piece cut the smallest.  I try to follow Bonnie Hunter's rule that states:  "If a fabric is still ugly, you haven't cut it small enough."

    Today's block is from the Blogger's Block of the Month, organized by Jackie and Canton Village Quilt Works.  The first block is by Sherri at A Quilting Life.  It's a simple 16 Patch, nothing to get stressed out about.

    I pulled four 2 1/2" squares from my scrap box and mixed them up with the WOW and the pansy print.  For my HST blocks, I used a method I saw on Jaye's blog just a few days ago.  What a quick and easy way to make my pieces!  Thanks, Jaye!

    What are you working on?


    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Gifts From the Kitchen - Lemon Curd

    This week's gift from the kitchen is a recipe for lemon curd passed along to me by my childhood friend and her mother.  They are English and exposed me to many things in the kitchen I had never tasted or cooked.  Most were delicious - with the exception of the liver and onions they ate for dinner every Thursday.  That was the night K and I usually convinced Mom to let her eat at our house!

    Anyway, here is Ann's recipe.  If you are not already familiar with canning, please find a reliable resource for directions.  That would not be me.  I am always nervous about killing some people, so even after I can this, I still keep it in the fridge. 

    Lemon Curd

    This is a lovely little treat, beautiful and sweet, that I love to give as gifts. It's delicious on toast, scones, ice cream, or as a filling.

    * 3/4 stick of butter
    * 9 oz sugar
    * 3 lemons, grated and juiced
    * 3 eggs, beaten

    Mix all ingredients into top of double boiler - stir constantly until thick. Strain into sterilized pots and cover immediately. Be patient! It takes a bit. This is a good time to listen to a podcast.

    All ingredients when you start

    After 5 minutes

    After about 25 minutes.  It should be thick and shiny.

    Makes two 8oz jelly jars. I double or triple this - why not while I'm at it? - to give as gifts.  It also trades well.  We have a friend who uses it to fill her meringue cookies but hates to make the lemon curd.  I can't get the meringue cookies to work, so we swap. 

    If you're playing along, why don't you link up?

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Holiday Grand Plan Week 5 - The Master Bath

    It's Week 5 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

    How does your master bedroom look?  Mine is not immaculate, but I did wash everything on my bed (pillows, mattress cover, dust ruffle, etc) and vacuum under the bed before reassembling.  It feels cleaner in there even if it is not perfect.

    This week we move onto the master bath.  Last year I did a pretty thorough reorganization of this, and I'm glad to say I've done a better job of keeping this area neat.  This year should just be some cleaning and pitching some stuff that's a little too old.

    Of course this week we are also continuing on with the freezer meal, batch of goodies, and working an hour a day on handmade gifts.  We are also going to buy and wrap another 1/8 of our gift list.  I'm finding some great bargains by liking a few key facebook pages and getting alerts of some terrific sales.  Yesterday, for example, The Gap had all their sale items marked down an additional 50% off - including jeans!  Always a bonus with boys who are growing like weeds.

    This is the week where we go through the kids' toys to donate.  While you're doing this, it's a great time to make lists of anything they might like for the holidays.  You know the grandparents are going to ask.

    Also, check to see that everyone has appropriate attire for all of your holiday functions.  What are they going to wear for the family photo (if you take one)?  Keep an eye out for sales to fill in any missing components.  Make sure you have a list of their sizes for any family members who ask or in case you stumble across the bargain of the century.

    If you're HGP-ing along with me, link up below!

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Stock the Freezer Saturday - Quiche Lorraine

    It's Stock the Freezer Saturday, and time to make a meal to freeze for those crazy December days when dinner just might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

    I'm laughing because I'm writing this post listening to Pam at Hip to Be a Square.  What is she talking about?  Quiche!

    My family, like Pam's, all love quiche for dinner.  It's comfort food on a rainy, chilly night and pretty easy to throw together.  What's even easier?  Moving it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning (to thaw) and then finishing off the baking process while you toss a salad.

    As Pam says, you can put just about anything into a quiche, but our hands down favorite is Quiche Lorraine.
    • 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2" pieces
    • 1/4 C chopped onion (the recipe calls for green, but I like sweet onions better)
    • 2 C shredded Swiss cheese, divided
    • 6 eggs, beaten
    • 1 C heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • dash of red pepper and white pepper
    • ground nutmeg
    • 9" pie crust (I buy pre-made)
    1. Line a 9" quiche pan with pie crust.  Poke holes in bottom and side with a fork.  Bake at 400 for 3 minutes, gently poke again, and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes OR follow instructions for pre-baking on the package.
    2. Saute bacon and onion in a skillet until brown; drain well and spread evenly in your baked pie shell.
    3. Top with 1 C of cheese.
    4. Combine eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg.  Pour into pastry shell and top with remaining cheese.
    5. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
    6. If you want to freeze the quiche, bake at 350 for 20 minutes instead, or just until slightly set.  Cool and wrap well before freezing.  To reheat, thaw completely and bake at 350 for another 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
    My pictures of this didn't come out, and now the boys have already eaten most of the second quiche that I made to freeze!  

    Please share your freezer meals and link up!


    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Gifts From the Studio - Patchwork Santa

    Last year for the quilt show, Lene made these adorable patchwork Santas for the Star Wares table.  Of course, that led to a plea for a class, so earlier this month we all got together to learn how to make an adorable Santa.

    The pattern, from the Quilt in a Day Series, was written by LuAnn Stout.  I love the directions for making Santa out of crazy patch.  For my first attempt I decided to use up one of my Moda Adoring charm packs.  I cut 5" strips of a white on white check and quick pieced them with the charm pieces.  If you leave out the two most neutral cuts, you end up with an 80 square quilt top that measures 36" x 45", the exact amount you need of a cutter quilt for this pattern.  Perfect!

    Other options include using an old "cutter quilt."  Some folks were appalled by the idea of cutting up a quilt, but the ones to use are those that are damaged beyond repair in a few places or whose back is so threadbare that it can't be saved.  In those cases, you are giving the quilt a second chance at life instead of hiding it in a closet or even throwing it out. 

    Lene's collection of cutter quilts
    Suzanne got lucky in the clearance aisle at Kohl's!  She found this beauty for a steal, and expects to get several Santas out of the queen/full size quilt.

    Lene says it makes a great assembly line project if you want to make a bunch - she made TEN one year!  It did go together fairly simply and easily, with the only tricky step being when you gather the beard and stitch it to the face.  It took me three tries.  To be fair, I'd only had one cup of coffee.

    Face/beard sandwich
    In fact, they went together so quickly, that we brought them to our guild meeting just over 48 hours later!

     What gifts are you making this year?  Link up and share!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    East Cobb Quilt Guild Show - Georgia Celebrates Quilts - Last One!

    One last post about the East Cobb show.  There were some amazing vendors there!  It was interesting to watch the ebb and flow of each booth while we rounded up the WannaBees for lunch.

    Here you can see just one of the three sections of vendors.   With 26 different booths, there was something for everyone.  You could barely even get into the All That Thread booth.  They had a great selection of Aurifil threads, and the quilters were swarming!

    Of course I had to stop by and say hi to my friends Jan and Kristin at Fiber on a Whim.  I bought a set of Shiva Paint Sticks in the autumn colors.  I've always wanted to try these out, and Kristin says this is one of the most common color sets.  Have you used these?  Do you put them on before or after quilting?  I'll be experimenting.

    Last, we fell in love with the hats from Cast-On Cottage.  I didn't catch Lene with her gorgeous blue one, but Lynn (as always) and Laura (the newest WannaBee) were willing models.

    Lynn wants this to be the new uniform, but I don't wear hats well.  Ben said he had to put his foot down on this one issue!


    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Gifts From the Kitchen - Limoncello

    I remembered!  Today's gift from the kitchen is homemade limoncello.  You have just enough time to get this ready for Christmas giving.

    There are a bajillion tutorials for this online, but I liked the one at Sonnet of the Moon by Heather.  It is so simple and beautiful, and well appreciated by those we gave it to.

    Here's Step 1:

    Here's Step 2:

    And Step 3:

    One last thing:  don't just pitch all those perfectly good lemons after step 1!  I want you to juice them and freeze the juice in 3 lemon increments for next week's gift from the kitchen.

    Want to share your gift from the kitchen?  Link up now!

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