Friday, August 31, 2012

Edyta Sitar Meets Becky Sharp.

So... Sweet Sixteen phase II. I guess Phase I was that I acquired the kit, pattern, fabric, etc... Already traced and cut out most of the templates to freezer paper (wondering now if that was a wasted step...)

Phase TWO, I've decided, is that I have cut into fabric. Not only did I boldly cut out a 17x17" square of background fabric, but later that same day I also (still boldly) cut into a lovely green batik, and then a blue, and then a blue print -- and before you know it I was tearing into pinks and buying (ahem) more reds... I put my new "perfect circles" to the test and voila! a delightful little pile of perfect circles... If only this whole quilt was made of circles instead of a bunch of complicated pointy objects... Oh, I also enlarged the first block. Starting with #15. Ummm. I know this will be a dumb ? to applique-ers, but how are you supposed to enlarge those layout patterns? Setting the "copy" feature on my printer to 150% (which, btw, despite this being a pretty high tech printer, i have to manually hit the button on the screen 50x to get it up to 150 - it does not allow you to just enter the number. It holds your customized setting for a couple minutes only so if you're not quick about it, you have to hit it 50x (nee nee nee nee nee) each and every time you reposition the pattern to enlarge it - about 6x per block times 16 blocks. Calgon. Take me away! Kinkos? How is this accomplished? And then there's the pattern transfer. Light table? You can tell this is all new to me. I so co-fused.

While working on this I was watching Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon. I've seen other versions of the story, never read the book... Took me all those viewings though, and 'til the next morning to realize the Crawleys are creepy crawl-y, Stayne is a stain, and Miss Rebecca Sharp is sharp as a tack. Call me oblivious, but there it is. The production design was awesome - the vivid colors and Indian influences brought things around full circle with this beautiful project.

My little set up. Starch-in-a-cap, raw-cut
circles, my purple whoseywhatsit thingy, etc.
yoyo-ating around the disc.
Cinch it, starch it and press it.
Let it dry, then pry out the disc.
Push the mangled pleats back down and press.
a wee collection of circles and the perfect
circle discs on a handy ring.

Monday, August 27, 2012

022.Seesters - aka I-2, Kaye's Courtyard

This one was a little bit of a challenge fussy-cutting the ladies into the four corners. Not perfect but kind of cool. I'm calling this one Seesters as a tribute to sisters, sisters-in-law, sisters-by-choice, and sisters in our communities of interest. That sounds real formal but I just mean the women you have a lot in common with whom you cherish having in your life.


This Fons & Porter seam ripper is not recommended usage.
1) the cap doesn't stay on. 2) it's so ergonomically chubby, it's hard to store
3) since it's round and heavy, it has a tendency to roll off my sewing desk
and put holes in my feet. I need a new seam ripper stat!

Friday, August 24, 2012

021.Hazel Flagg's a Fake - aka A-2, One-Two Buckle My Shoe

trying to remind myself to leave extra fabric around the edges

Did another with a combo. of three fabrics. Loving this one.

Aaarrrrrggghhhh. Oopsies.

So this time I was watching "Nothing Sacred" with Carole Lombard - who was awesome - and Fredric March - also awesome. The story is a little weak but the stars are awesome. Did I mention they were awesome?

I thought this scene matched my block perfectly. : )

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Amish Country Strong

How's this for a "things that make me happy" post? Took a mini-road trip with a girlfriend last week to Amish Country, Indiana. We had a blast, driving backroads, shopping, and uh, talking! We didn't get as lucky with the dining as we had hoped but there's always next time... I'm hoping to attend a Dear Jane retreat in the fall (finally)... Have you ever been to Shipshewanna or Nappannee? Well, you should! Especially if you're a quilter. Here are some of my favorite sights...

 Middlebury & Shipshewanna

Sure did enjoy shopping at the Lolly's - upstairs and down. The boat!
One of the buildings at Das Essenhaus.
Country roads.
Found these around town. Hickory
rocking chairs - the most comfortable chair!

We stayed at the Middlebury Hampton Inn which was brand-new and really nice. It was also pretty central for getting around to different places. There was way more than you could do in a couple days which is all we had this time. We took an Amish farm tour. I thought it was going to be more of a drive through the country but it ended up being about how a dairy farm works which was fun too. (and gross)... Our guide Clarence was a total character. The day we were headed home we stopped in Nappannee. We didn't have time to take the tour @ Amish Acres but we did some shopping and spent some time at a great museum in Nappanee.  


This was the first thing I saw when we pulled into town... I knew we were in the right place.
This was gorgeous. This was in the gift shop at Amish Acres.
This was the smallest of a trio. The squares are 3/8-1/2".
At the museum in Nappannee.

Really cool anniversary quilt... have often wondered if you could do something like this...

This is an antique church-fundraising quilt. The quilting on this was great.
Another great piece in the Nappannee museum.
One of the "Quilt Gardens"

What a great idea. Loved these - only saw about 6 or 7 of them...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I guess it must be... Salsa & Pickle-Time!

Long has my quilting languished... summertime is just not the right time I guess - although I miss it and think of it all the time and scheme and plan - but somehow it just is not happening. Instead, other projects - like a bathroom remodel, long-delayed and learning how to can stuff from the garden!

Large jar of fresh salsa & one of six pint jars of escabeche
(obviously neither of these are going to make it to storage)

I searched for canning jars - on the 3rd or 4th try I finally found some - at an Ace Hardware. I picked them up on Saturday. Sunday was going to be the day to can. It makes me smile now to think I thought I was going to get it all done on Sunday. All I got done on Sunday was 6 pint jars of escabeche. I made salsa on Monday. And today I made 3 jars of bread and butter pickles. That pace is not to be admired - but it's all I could manage. Now I feel like I'm getting somewhere though - gaining confidence... but I gotta say, I was completely intimidated and bewildered by the whole thing a couple days ago. I guess since I'm now posting some pictures it's a sign that I conquered my fear... but a couple days ago I was absolutely freaked.

My nephew turned me on to the USDA site where they (as is customary for a government agency) produced a huge manual detailing the science of safe food preservation - who knew there were seven major categories of food preservation. well, actually - that manual was specific to canning -- it didn't even include things like salt-curing and smoking and whatever else there is (freezing, I guess). But as is also customary for all types of instructions - it was heavy on the useless, impractical technical details, and too light on the really practical details which would actually be a huge help to have broken down. For example, what do you do if you put your jars in to the hot bath and the water doesn't cover the lids? Or what happens if your rack breaks as you're lowering your jars into the boiling water?! Honestly, my main pickling virgin observation was that it was way more of a "vinegar-y" experience than I had anticipated. Have you inhaled vinegar steam lately? It will do a number on your lungs, let me tell ya.

In the end I guess I figured out that (in a nutshell) you have to:
1) prep your raw ingredients (pick, clean, trim, cut, etc. and only pick as much as you can reasonably process in one day)
2) get the processing pot going (the big pot of water for the hot water bath or whatever it's called)
3) prep the "sauce" or whatever the fluid is that you're going to cook and/or can your veggies in, and   have a system for getting everything clean and hot right before assembly.
4) have enough conventional burners (I only have two)  with which to cook the vast array of large pots you're gonna need.

On the first day, god created escabeche. (And I haylped!) No, actually what I did was follow a recipe which called for vinegar only (no water) and it was waaaay strong. After I opened the first jar, i diluted it with some water and it's quite delightful today. I think I just might be able to do this.

On the second day, god made fresh garden salsa. This, I know how to do... I follow this recipe and then add a bunch of other shit to it. It is delicious.

salsa in the blend.
my old stand-by salsa recipe - not at all how I remembered it actually.

On day 3, God said, "Now... on to the pickles!"

Not-so-very elegant row of ingredientses.
I did not break the bank on fancy brand spices. I have not yet decided if that's something I should or should not do. I did buy sugar in the raw though. $4 a box is a little steep.

the sugar, vinegar & spice blend cookin' on the stove top.

Topped off a jar of bread and butter pickle spears with the remaining onions...
Upon seeing this I had the thought: I don't see why I shouldn't just pickle
a whole jar of onions. These look delightful.

Ginormous pot of boiling water for "processing" the jarred pickles.

Honestly, this was a pain. It didn't really fit on my stove and displaced everything else I was trying to cook on the stove, and never had quite enough water and always came to a boil too early, and then too late... and THEN i found blogs where people more experienced than I were saying "I never hot water bathe my pickles because they are sitting in a frickin' brine and (cause they're pickles), and if you hot water bathe them they turn mushy!" And then I was like, "oh great. I wish I would have read that sooner." but it's all good. Now I know how to do it and I guess it's not THAT big of a deal.

the finished product: a quite beautiful jar of bread and butter pickles.
And the finished product is very rewarding. We will see how they hold up in storage for a few months -
if they make it that long!

meanwhile, the garden keeps cranking it out...
today's modest haul. 5 bambino eggplant, 12 squash blossoms,
a kung-pao and a jalapeno pepper, a 'test' purple carrot
still not able to keep up with it at this point.