Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wonder of an Attitude Adjustment

Hanging sideways on the clothes line.
Wow - I cannot believe how much progress I have made on this quilt and all it really took was just a simple attitude adjustment. It also helped that I did not sleep until 5:30 this morning. I originally had gone to bed quite late and I laid in bed for about 30 mins and realized my attempt at sleep was futile. So, I got up and went back into my sewing room. When I finally did get into bed this morning I fell asleep very quickly but I was awake before 8:30 am. I just laid around in bed until about 9:15 and then I got up and had my tea and then scooted back into my sewing room. I don't plan on doing any chores today although I will make supper for everyone.

Now that I have the top all sewn together I think I may need to add another row of blocks along the bottom. I have a thing about liking my quilts to be rectangular and even though the layout for this quilt is 9 x 10 (72" x 80")  it looks a little too square for me. I'll have to think on it for a little bit - I would only have to make 8 more blocks because I found my lost block. I am going to lie down now for a little rest and hopefully I will drift off into a nice nap.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Needed a Pep Talk

It appears that I needed a bit of a pep talk when it comes to quilting. I don't know why, but I have become quite unproductive in my sewing room. Lately, when I am in my sewing room it feels like I am just spinning my wheels. Sometimes I go in my room and sit down in front of my sewing machine and just watch tv - what's up with that? I don't know why this has happened other than maybe I just have too many projects underway and it is a bit overwhelming. Almost every surface is covered in projects that are 'in progress'. I feel like I am just hopping from project to project and not getting anything accomplished other than just shuffling them around.  After I had my pep talk, I made a few decisions and one of them was to set a couple projects aside while I focus on completing others. This quilt is one of the quilts I decided to spend time on today. I haven't worked on this quilt top since April - I last posted about it here. I just finished making 26 blocks today to make a total of 90 blocks. After I looked back at my last post I saw that I had previously made 65 blocks so I must have lost one in my room because when I counted them this morning I only had 64. Now that all of the blocks are made I am going to start sewing them into a top and I plan to keep the layout as it is - I do like the diagonal look. I am thinking about doing a red narrow inner border and making the outer border piano key style from green strips. Of course, I won't make my final decision about the borders until I actually get to that step. Even though there is red and green in the quilt I don't want it to look like Christmas. I plan another day of sewing tomorrow and I am so looking forward to it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Puttering Around

Partially weeded before breaking for supper.
I seem to be filling my days with many things but I don't have too much to blog about. It was a little cooler yesterday so after work I slipped out into the garden to do some weeding. There are some beds that I have been weeding on a regular basis and a couple others that I had left hoping that someone else would weed them. Well, the time had come to tackle at least one of the beds that seemed to be just a mass of weeds.

Just one small area in the back upper left needs to be weeded!
I worked on it for an hour or so and then came into the house for a little break. I should have taken a picture of the bed before starting - it was so full of weeds that you couldn't see any dirt.

After supper, I went back out and I got it almost all cleared out. There is just one small section in the back on the other side of the pole beans that needs to be tackled. I had hoped to work on the garden some more today, but I only slept a few hours last night and I worked almost 7 hours today so it will just have to wait - I am just too tuckered!
My first of many zucchini!
Look close - my first tomatoes - baby cherries.

I'm back to using a hoop.

Last evening, after getting cleaned up from the garden I thought I would work on some hand quilting. I have not made any progress on this quilt since March - just before I started back to work. I don't have very much more to do to finish it up. Maybe I need to just focus on this quilt - I do so enjoy hand quilting. I plan on working on it again for a while tonight - I'll have to see what movies are on tv.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Project Linus - Purple Pinwheels

Something got finished yesterday and it looks great and it feels so good to having something done! This quilt turned out so cute - I am very happy with it. I used a sweet little polka dot fabric for the backing and I bound it with the same solid purple that I used for the inner border. I had intended on quilting it using a a free hand flower design but for some reason it just would not happen for me. I tried a couple flowers but they were very sloppy looking so I unstitched them and then did a practice piece. I tried another full row on the quilt but ended up picking them all out - I need a lot more practice. I don't need perfection particularly if the quilt is staying with me, but this little quilt is a donation quilt and I want it to be the best that I can make it. So, I ended up doing loopy-loops and I think they look so much better. I quilted it on my Janome 6600 with white thread. It finished at 28" x 36" and that fits into the newborn category for a Project Linus quilt.

I still have lots of the purple leftover hsts that I was not able to incorporate into this quilt. I had cut a lot of the purple/purple hsts in half to make my hourglass blocks for the border and of course I had cut way too many of them. I am not too sure what to do with all of these bits and pieces...I may just put the triangle shapes into a little baggie and add them into my 'triangle' parts bin. I use these triangular shaped bits for the corners when string/crumb piecing. Who knows there just may be a crumb quilt coming that only uses purple in the corners - but for now it will have to wait! I am linking up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge here. Hop on over to soscrappy's blog see what everyone else has made with their purple scraps.

On a different note, today I had intended on spending a good part of the day in my sewing room but instead I will be driving to Toronto and picking up my Mom, sisters Cheryl and Christine and nieces Deanna and Eva-Anne. We will be driving to see my sister Glenda in hospital. She was in a car accident yesterday morning and her car was totalled - thankfully she only has a fractured sternum. She is supposed to be released today so we will be bringing her back to her home and making sure that she has everything that she needs. I live about an hour north of Toronto and she lives about 45 mins west of Toronto, so it will be a long day for me and I know I will be quite tired by the time I get back home. It will be a huge relief to see her and to make sure that she really is okay. I do know that the type of injury she has (her air bag did not go off so her chest area was not protected from the seat belt or steering wheel) does take quite a bit of time to heal completely and that it is quite painful. I hope for a speedy recovery for her.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some Time Well Spent

Yippee! I am really happy that I have got this little quilt to the flimsy stage. I think it is going to look so cute when it is quilted. I plan on layering, basting and quilting it this weekend. It really shouldn't take too long because it is quite a small quilt. In my last post I stated that the center pinwheel section was 20 x 23 but that was not true - it really was 20 x 28 and now, even with the border added, it is still fairly small. It will probably fit into the newborn category for a Project Linus quilt.

I had a difficult day at work today, so many things went wrong. The major issue I had was that my email was not working and I totally rely on my email for my job.  I am hoping that it will be back up and running tomorrow and I anticipate another extremely busy day - hopefully it will be a lot more productive. I only had 2 hours sleep last night, so I was really beat when I got home. I had a quick bite to eat and a little snooze on the couch and then I thought I definitely deserve to spend some time sewing - so off I went!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Purple Pinwheel Baby Quilt

Over the past few days, whenever I have had some time, I have been heading into my sewing room to work on this little quilt. I have all of the pinwheels sewn together and the center portion is 20" x 23". I have most of the border components sewn together but trying to think about how to fit it all together hurts my brain! I haven't quite decided what I will do with the corners but I guess it will just figure itself out once I start putting the pieced border on. I still need to add the inner border and the size will depend on how big the pieced border finishes up, and honestly, I am just too tired to think about it. I don't work on Friday so I think I will figure it all out then and finish putting it all together. I can't wait to see it all finished because I am really liking what I am seeing so far!

I got some news today that my nephew and his partner are expecting their third child and I am tempted to keep this quilt for her but I had already made the decision to donate it to Project Linus. I guess I will just have to make another baby quilt!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bread Recipe

My bread turned out fantastic and I now have a 'go to' recipe for whole wheat bread that I can make and I can be quite confident that it will turn out really nice. When it is toasted it has a very nice crisp texture on the surface - yum! So, here it is (this makes two loaves) -
1 tsp sugar
2 c warm water
1 envelope or 2-1/4 tsp of instant yeast
1/3 c molasses
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted butter
5-3/4 c whole wheat flour (scant cups of flour)
1 heaping tbsp of wheat gluten flour (the kind of spoon you eat soup from).

I buy the wheat gluten flour from the bulk food store. It is a high protein flour extracted from wheat flour and improves the texture of whole wheat bread - all natural, no chemicals.

Dissolve the sugar and salt in the warm water and add the butter and molasses. Stir it up and pour it into a large bowl. Stir the yeast into the liquid and then stir in 2 cups of flour. I mix it with a spoon until it is smooth. Gradually add the remaining flour to make a soft dough which leaves the side of the bowl - by this time I am using my hands to mix it up. Turn it out onto a floured board and form it into a ball. At this point the dough should be slightly sticky but not 'really stick to your hands like glue' sticky. If it is, add a small amount of flour to the board and knead it into the dough. I think one of the tricks is make sure you do not add too much flour - judging this at first can be difficult. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic - you will feel it change. I don't think that dough can be over-kneaded so that will not be a concern. Shape it into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover it with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let rise until doubled - about 1 hr.

After it has risen, punch the dough down. That does not mean literally punch it but to take it out of the bowl and fold it into thirds onto itself and pressing the air out. Cut it in half and shape into 2 balls. Cover with a towel and let them rest for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes shape the balls into loaves and place seam side down in oiled loaf pans (8-1/2"). Cover with a tea towel and let them rise about 1 hour. The dough should have risen about 1-1/2" above the center of the pans. Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 10 minutes and then continue at 350F for 20 to 30 minutes more - mine takes about 25 mins. Tent it with tin foil if the tops are getting too dark. Remove immediately from the pans and brush with melted butter. When you tap the bread it should sound hollow. Cool on wire racks.

This was a long post and hopefully it is easy to understand. If you make this bread I would love to hear how it turned out. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Purple Pinwheels

I am a day late showing my progress on the purple quilt that I am making for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Yesterday morning found me in the kitchen making soup and stew for the freezer so that I will have quick meals during the week when I just can't find the time (or desire) to cook. Oh the life of a working gal! I also attended a wedding shower for my dearest friend Louise's only daughter. Unfortunately, Louise was unable to attend her daughter's shower because she is 'under the weather' and was under doctors orders to stay home. She was not allowed to attend...very upsetting for her and her family. The shower was lovely and lots of pictures and videos were taken to show Louise.

First off, I am sooo excited about this little quilt! I was really stumped about how to use all of the purple hsts that I had hanging around in my sewing room. I knew I could make pinwheels with the neutral/purple hsts but what to do with the purple/purple and neutral/neutral...I had to come up with something and I think I have a good way to use them.

You can see that I tried some options but they just were not doing it for me so I went with the pretty little pinwheels and then I thought I would cut the the other hsts in half on the diagonal and make some quarter square triangles. I then sewed the purple/purple back together to make mini hourglass blocks. I wanted to incorporate them into the border so I took the neutrals that I had cut and sewed the triangles to each end of the hourglass blocks.

I laid the border pieces out on my design wall and I thought - that's not right - did I sew them together incorrectly??? Oops I forgot to take a picture but instead of laying them out on the diagonal I had laid them out straight and it was just not right! The quarter square triangles are smaller than the hsts so I will have to adjust the size of the inner border to accommodate when I get to that step. Oh my, this little quilt is going to be so pretty that I am tempted to keep it but it will go to Project Linus instead.

This morning finds me back in the kitchen and I hope between cooking and laundry that I will find some time to get into my sewing room today. It seems a bit of a sacrifice at this point but I know that the time I spend cooking/baking this weekend will save me lots of time during the week for at least a couple weeks. I will have a freezer full of home cooked, ready-to-eat meals (all I will have to add at the most is fresh veggies or salads and/or a starch ) and I won't be hearing the usual phrase from my son "Mom....what are we having for dinner....lunch....breakfast...?" I am content.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm all Caught Up!

I can't believe that I am all caught up with the Sow-A-Long hosted by Randy of Barrister's Block. I made these last 7 blocks over the past few days and honestly, I thought I was much further behind. Yaaay! I now have 33 complete blocks and I think they are going to all look so good together.

The next thing on my list to work on is to make some more Little House blocks. I need to cut more pieces first so that I will have enough variety available to pick and choose from. I hope to get into my sewing room this evening to get some of that done. Another thing on my list that I keep pushing to the bottom is to make the backing for my Jacob's Ladder quilt. Why do I keep doing that??? I think I will have to challenge myself to get it made by this Saturday - boy - I hope I am up for the challenge!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Can I Go Sew Now?

Today has been one of those days where, like so many others, I have a mile long list of things that need to be done. I would really rather be sewing though!

I didn't do the dishes last night and when I woke up this morning I noticed that the dish fairy had not arrived yet so that is how I started my day....and I have been doing dishes all day long!

Today has been a baking day and once I got the dishes done I started making the dough for 2 loaves of whole wheat bread. This is the second time that I have used this recipe. The first time I made it the bread was perfect for toasting and sandwiches. If these loaves turn out as good as the first batch I will definitely share the recipe. I have been trying different recipes for the last while trying to the find the "perfect" recipe. The loaves look and smell wonderful! So, I had to do dishes again....and then I made my son a coffee cake. Last week he had requested that I make it and I was able to put it off until today. This recipe is a tried and true one and it has turned out great every time that I have made it.

I had made some egg salad for lunch and when my husband came into the kitchen he pointed out to me that we only had 2 buns left. So that meant I needed to make the dough for another batch of buns for lunches next week. I have been making this recipe since it was posted on this blog and it is so easy and soooo good. Every batch that I have made has been perfect and I seem to make them every 4 or 5 days. The only thing I do differently is that I leave off the seasoning (my husband doesn't care for it) and I make 8 buns instead of 12. My dough is fermenting in a bowl on the counter and I will bake the buns tomorrow when I get home from work.

I have a pork roast going in the oven, the potatoes and veggies are all ready and waiting to be cooked for supper. Laundry is almost done ..... can I go sew now...please???

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple!!

I happen to be a person that loves the colour purple and I am very happy that it was chosen for this month's colour. I have this bin of leftover 2.5" hsts that have been sitting in my sewing room for so long. They originally were leftovers from a quilt that I made for my niece Eva-Anne. I made a gorgeous quilt for her prior to blogging and I have to find some pictures so that I can write a blog post about it. I love the way her quilt turned out and so does she. Last year, I used some of these hsts to make a baby quilt for my great-niece Lily and I blogged about the finished quilt here.

I emptied out the bin onto my ironing table and this is what is available for me to work with. The main colours are purple, turquoise and neutrals. I am pretty sure I will be able to come up with some design to use up the rest of these hsts and I can add other fabrics if I need to as well. There aren't any new babies in my family so this will probably become another donation quilt for Project Linus.

Hop on over to soscrappy's blog and check out what everyone else is doing with their purple scraps.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pink Nine Patch - Project Linus

I have been working on hand stitching the binding on this cute little quilt over the last several evenings and I finished it up this morning. I don't have to work today and it is a very dark, dreary, rainy day...perfect for staying inside and getting some sewing time in. I love how this quilt turned out even though I had some trouble with the binding and it didn't turn out quite as well as it normally does. It is a donation quilt and I firmly believe that when I make something for charity that it should be just as wonderful as something I would give to a loved one. Even though it is not quite 'perfect' - my corner miters have some cosmetic challenges - I still think it is a gorgeous quilt worthy of being loved. If I had a little girl of my own I know that she would love to receive it!!
I love the backing fabric I used!

This quilt came about because of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks that I have been making each month. When I made the pink blocks for my rainbow quilt I couldn't help but think how sweet and pretty they looked and that a whole quilt made from the pink 9 patches would certainly light up a little girl's life when she may be going through a difficult time. I think this quilt will do just that! I quilted it in loopy-loops with white thread on my Janome 6600. It finished at 47" x 60" which puts it into the child category for a Project Linus quilt. I will deliver it to my local drop-off location this weekend and hopefully it will be  given to special child soon.