Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Our tradition is to open gifts leisurely, over several hours - so friendly and relaxing.  Emily's dog, Cohen, had to get into the act.

Our dog, Dora's, formal Christmas portrait. Pretty girl!

Emily and Matt, home from Austin Texas for the holidays, with me and Scott.  So great to have them here!  I gave them both quilts but somehow did not get pictures of them opening their gifts! I will post on that later.

Genevieve and me.

Hannah and her new blouse, and Danny.  Merry Christmas!

Doppa! God Jul!

Doppa - a traditional Swedish meal, held at noon on Christmas Eve.  Doppa means dipping - you cook beef and pork roasts in water, then combine the rich broths, and dip bread into it, to enjoy with the meats.
We have no extended family here in Illinois, so we have included our friends for years.
Here is friend Andrew, with our daughter Genevieve.

Our friend, Bill, with me.  Fun day!

Our lovely daughters - Hannah, Genevieve, and Emily. So great to have them all home together!

Matt's dad, Joe, with our daughter, Hannah. Two cuties!

Dear friend, Diane (right) and her daughter, Kelly!

Friend Cindy (married to Andrew) and Scott.

Daughter Emily with a plate full of pie! A doppa tradition is - everyone who attends, brings a pie! We cut the pies into small pieces, so we can sample many varieties.  Emily seems to be regretting her choices! (I think she finished it all however!) Hannah in the background.

Hannah whipping the cream for the pies!

Cute photo - friend Lucas, daughter Hannah, and Genevieve's bf Nick.

Scott and Emily, preparing the doppa meal.  God Jul!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Tradition - St. Lucia Day

As is our tradition, Scott and I headed up to the northwest side of Chicago to Tre Kronor.  It's a charming little restaurant, Swedish but with a gourmet twist, kitschy decor but the best food! We went on St. Lucia Day, Dec. 13, for an early breakfast - got there at 6:15 a.m.! Quite early, plus it took us 45 minutes to get there...you do the math.  Crazy? Not at all - totally worth it.

Tre Kronor is all decorated for the season, and the small room was illumined with only the Christmas tree, and candles on the tables.  It was magical.

Did I mention, they have the best food?

And a highlight is when several girls, with long white gowns, and one with a crown of candles, sing Christmas carols in Swedish. Pass the Kleenex! So nostalgic!

Such a treat to see all of the happy, expectant faces around the room - families sharing this wonderful tradition with each other.  It was a special day!
Merry Christmas to all!  God Jul!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Unfinished Projects

I have been plugging away at an old UFO, which has been languishing in my quilting studio - aka, land of unfinished projects.  The pieced letters, while a great graphic for the quilt, are difficult for me.  Give me a pattern, or even a picture, and I can sew most anything.  But I am just making up the letters as I go along...let's just say, my seam ripper and I are good buddies these days.

This one "G" look a long time until it looked the way I wanted it to, and in the correct size. I have also been re-making several of the letters, as the some of the black fabric is of a poor quality.  See my previous post on about this black fabric here.  

Fun wonky stars, also in the UFO box for this quilt - but I'm not loving all that green print.  Think that seam ripper will get used on this part of the quilt, too!

So - it's still a UFO, but I'm making progress.  Think I'll have it done in time for Christmas gifting?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nature's paintbox, Dora's party, Pink Month mug rug

Can't compete with the colors of nature, especially in the fall that we've been experiencing here in the Midwest.  Our bird ornament looks smashing next to the oakleaf hydrangea, no?

Yellow mum, nobby orange pumpkin, rustic bench - my fall display.

Dora let us dress her up for her 4th birthday party.  She is truly the most beautiful lab - people stop us when we go for walks all the time.  And she is just as sweet as she is pretty.

Buddy came to the party, so of course he needed a hat, too. Note his black bow tie for the occasion. :)

On another visit, he came all ready for trick or treating.  He sat like a good boy, but was not happy wearing the costume!

I made this "pink month" mug rug for a co-worker.  She is a survivor, and just about to turn 40.  She got cancer when she was in her 20's, and had 2 small children.  She inspires me every day with her cheerful demeanor and positive outlook.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Back in the saddle!

I am back in the hand quilting saddle, and loving it! I was inspired by Sujata over at the Root Connection (she has a new book!), and also by Tim Latimer (see his blog here. So far I have completed hand quilting a set of coasters, and a small pillow top. 

This is an OLD project, called a bulls-eye quilt, I think. You can judge the age by all of those plaids and stripes that were popular many moons ago.  I do love this quilt, even though it is somewhat dated.  But something Sujata said - about how all of your quilts, made over the years, are all a part of you...I really love that, and it is so true.  I was looking for another hand quilting project, and was going to make some kind of new, small project - in my spare time...but then I remembered this quilt top.   Sometimes what you are looking for is right in your own backyard, right Dorothy? (Wizard of Oz reference)
I am quilting in a hoop, with very few pins for basting, as Tim does.  I am using a wool batt, perle cotton #8, and a Big Stitch needle.

Another Tim was keeping me company while I quilted - Tim Gunn from Project Runway.  Anyone else out there a fan?

One block finished in less than an evening! I am loving this!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Recipe - It's a Keeper!

Just tried a new recipe (found in the Chicago Tribune) - Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples - and all I can say is wow, you must try this!  If you had this at a restaurant, you would go back!

As you can see, Scott and devoured half of one the tenderloins for lunch today! 
SPICED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH ROASTED APPLES

3 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. allspice
1 1/2 t. salt
1 T. maple syrup
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each ( bought one package, about 2-3/4 pounds, and it had 2 tenderloins inside)
4 tart apples (I used 3 large Gala apples))
1/4 c. white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
1.    Oven to 425. Combine olive oil, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt and maple syrup in a large bowl. Add tenderloins and toss to coat.
2. Heat large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add enough oil to just coat the surface; then brown tenderloins on all sides.
3. Meanwhile, toss apples in the bowl with any remaining spice coat. When meat is seared, remove pan from heat. Scatter apples around tenderloins.
4. Put pan in oven; roast 20-25 minutes or until desired doneness.
5. Remove pan from oven and transfer meat and apples to platter or cutting board to rest. Place pan on stove over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any browned bits. Stir in chicken broth and simmer until reduced by about 2/3 and slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Removed pan from heat; stir in butter bits to further thicken sauce and add a nice sheen.
6. Gently toss apples with sauce to coat; place apples on platter. Slice tenderloins; arrange with apples.
NOTE: I doubled all of the spices because, after I mixed them in the bowl, it didn’t look like enough.  The result was great! Also:  I omitted the salt, because of my dietary limitations, and I did not miss it. Scott added a bit of salt to his plate at the table.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting it all together! Sewing quilt blocks together tutorial

How to sew all of your quilt blocks together - accurately, and without using pins. 
A friend of mine, Wanda over at Exuberant Color taught me this method years ago.  She has many tutorials on her excellent blog, including one on this subject, but I thought I'd try creating a tutorial of my own.
Step 1 - Lay out all of your blocks for your quilt, either on the bed, or the floor, or on your design wall. Then, take all of the blocks in the far left vertical row and put them in a stack, with the top row block on top of the stack. Are you with me so far? (sorry forgot to take a picture of that! top photo shows blocks sewn together)

Step 2 - Here are my vertical rows, carefully pinned together.  I place the pins at the top edge of the blocks, so I remember the orientation.  And since I have to remember when is Row 1, Row 2, and so on, I just use that number of pins.  You could label them any way you wish, but just do it!

Step 3 - Sitting at your sewing machine, start sewing together the top block from Row 1, and the top block from Row 2, right sides together.  Here is Row 2 waiting patiently. Continue until you have chain-pieced all the blocks from Row 2 onto all the blocks from Row 1, top to bottom. No pressing yet.

Step 4 - Start adding the Row 3 blocks, starting with the top row. Above - the first block of Row 3 in place, as it will look in the quilt. To sew to the block at the left, flip it over to the left, like you're turning a page in a book.

Step 5 - This shows after I've flipped that first block over, and lined up the edges - ready to sew.  Lower the presser foot and the needle and take a few stitches, stopping with the needle down.  Then I grasp the other end of the blocks and hold tightly, and sew to the other edge.  This will ease in anything that needs easing! (notice, no pins!)

Step 6 - Keep adding vertical rows of blocks, top of the quilt to the bottom.  Don't cut those little chains of thread between the horizontal rows!

Can you see the thread chain between the horizontal rows?

Step 7 - After all of the vertical rows are assembled, go over to the ironing board.  Press the seams in opposing directions, as shown.  NOTE: Although I am showing you the wrong side in the photo above, I always press from the right side, for the best accuracy and appearance.
Step 8 - Sew all of the horizontal seams.  For this, you can use the same "no pinning" method, or you can pin to match the seams.  The fact that you pressed the seams in opposite directions makes it easy to match the seams and sew accurately.  Sorry I don't have  a picture of this step.  Then I press the horizontal seams either all up, or all down - so I can sew the two parts of the quilt together easily, and those seams just nestle together nicely. 

This is the first section of my zigzag quilt, assembled and pressed.  I decided to sew it in two sections, and then I will sew the two large sections together.
I hope this makes sense, and that you will try this method.  It works for small blocks, like in this quilt, or  of course for a quilt with larger blocks.  It also works with a quilt block with many pieces, like a 16-patch block.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Buried treasure!

I was looking around in my sewing room, trying to find something, when I unearthed this beauty:

Log Cabin Quilt Top, made by Frances Heggestad in Cumberland, Wisconsin, circa 1975.  Given to me by my uncle, Orville Heggestad.

Sorry for the bad photo - I will post more as I work on this. My grandma made this, and I must say, her sewing was very accurate - done on a treadle machine.  She used scraps given to her (I recognize many of the fabrics in this from clothes I wore, and some that I also sewed myself), and gave most of her quilts to the poor. This quilt top is HUGE, and unfinished on one corner. I plan to even it out, and finish it for myself.
See that gold/olive/white cotton print? That was my confirmation dress from the 8th grade.  My mom had a lady in town make it for me.  

There are three memories in a row here, all from clothes I made for myself:  the red/white cotton pique was a front zip, short short jumpsuit; the lime floral was culottes (I also made a solid lime vest to go with it - yea, I was stylin'); and the navy/bright colored floral was a peasant dress.



Some fun prints here. Grandma used everything, and wasted nothing.

We found this where I work on Monday morning! My friend's cube got "bombed" - I guess some of the Chicago Bears fans (we are in a Chicago suburb) didn't like the fact that Ginny is a Green Bay Packers fan, aka a "cheese head".  They did a stellar job enclosing her cube - they even put a green light inside. Ginny worked inside there all day.  We all wanted a cube like that!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cedarburg Visit Part Two - Quilt Museum, and yes I do hand quilting

How fun to see Victoria Findlay Wolfe's ( I knew her from her 15 Minutes Play blog, you can also find her at other blog, bumblebeans inc.) Double Wedding Ring quilt exhibit!  It is a the Wisconsin Quilt Museum in Cedarburg, and it is well worth your time to visit! It is in a restored barn, on the edge of Cedarburg, and seeing quilts displayed in that venue is just perfect.  In the photo above, at the bottom, you see an awesome quilt made by Victoria's grandmother, made free-form from various fabrics, many polyesters - what she had to work with.  At the top is Victoria's modern quilt, of quilting cottons, but inspired by her grandmother's quilt.  

Close-up of the machine quilting (sorry I do not remember the name of the quilter) on one of Victoria's Double Wedding Ring quilts.

Full view of the quilt. 

Close-up view of another of Victoria's quilts - again, sorry I did not note the quilter's name.  Stunning work! Victoria has a book coming out soon, with all of these quilts in it.

Out behind the quilt museum, a blacksmith was demonstrating his craft.  Do you see how red-hot that iron got? His fire gets up to 3000 degrees! His work was fascinating - and a little terrifying! 

Who knew, me, hand quilting?  Yes, I have done it in the past, and I have recently picked it up again. Part of my inspiration is the blog of Tim Latimer (timquilts.com), an excellent and prolific hand quilter from Michigan.  I had this small piece sitting around, and decided to do some "big stitch" hand quilting on it, with #8 perle cotton. 

Close-up of the quilting.  I have gotten better as I go along!


Balance, New Quilter, 4th of July

No, this is not trick photography - it is real! Our daughter, Genevieve and her bf Dave are pregnant! We are so excited to welcome our fir...