Friday, September 26, 2014

Houses, week II

Since we were out of town last week, I have fewer houses to show this week. What I do have to brag about is finding a sashing and cornerstone fabric that I love. I wanted to go ahead and get to this part so I could incorporate it into the block, thus making a 4 1/2 inch block instead of a 3 1/2 inch block and saving myself a step down the line. 
I like that the sashing is black, it may well be the ONLY color that won't show up in the houses, so it sets them apart. Also, I toyed with the idea of red cornerstones, but I really like a more neutral look. I think the black and tan helps organize everything... just a bit. 
House 8: Back from California and chomping at the bit to make more little houses. I have learned, though, that little houses and being sleepy do not mix. This one has a dark sky because I started it at 10:30 pm. (It's blue but you can't really tell.)

House 9: I really like this little guy. I like his colors, and that blue sky is very serene. Today went by too quickly. Too many things to do and not enough time/energy. Such is life.

House 10: Wow! House #10. That seems like a milestone, doesn't it? We are still adjusting to normal east coast time and were both awake from 4 am onward. Julian went for coffee with a friend at 7am, but that ended up being a bust because of schedules and we were both back in bed at 7:30am. I feel guilty for doing quilting when I feel behind on my "real life" chores. How come fall brings so many new chores?

Linking up with Quilt Story. Click the button below to follow along. 

Related Posts:
Week one

Fresh Poppy Design

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Out of my kitchen

red snapper @ Harborside Restaurant and Ballroom :: floats at Ruby's :: macarons at 'lette :: 
fish tacos at Back Bay Tavern :: chingomingos at Avila's Mexican Restaurant

We were on vacation last week and the only thing that's happened in my kitchen since my last post is a pot of spaghetti, and that is hardly worth documenting. So I'm documenting a few of the things we ate last week while we were OUT of the kitchen.

I had never had red snapper before and while it doesn't look that appetizing in my picture, it tasted wonderful. The Harborside Restaurant was inside the historical pavilion. The floats were a sweet treat because they were at the Ruby's at the end of the Balboa Pier. We ate those macarons just because neither of us had ever had one from a shop, only the ones I made from scratch a few weeks ago. We voted that our homemade ones were much much better! Those tasted like paste!

The two yummiest bits of the trip were at Back Bay Tavern and our Mexican. The tavern is a restaurant in the back corner of the Whole Foods at Fashion Island. It was excellent AND there was no wait on a Saturday night. Those fish tacos were more than I could eat and cost me $7 - in California - with a Maserati outside the window and a Bloomingdales next door. We ate at Avila's straight off the plane when we got there because our friend from Ca. said we just had to get some "real" Mexican. It was delicious!

We also ate at the Cheesecake Factory, where the lighting was so impossibly dim that we could only see each other because we were beside a window and the parking lot was illuminated!

While it feels wonderful to be back at home, I'm limping along today, trying to remember how to cook and clean and NOT be on vacation!

Linking up with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jiggity jig

We are home again, home again. Whew. What a wonderful trip. Everything went wonderfully... oh, everything except the fact that the airport gave me grief over my thread snips. TSA regulations say that scissors with a short blade are fine. The people in Pittsburgh did a double-check on them and just documented that they were my crafting scissors. The folks in LA made me throw them away! My mom gave me those when I moved out of the house and realized I didn't even have the basics for mending! Apparently, I was in such a state over it (though I was remarkably silent) that the TSA woman who made me throw them away ran over to the other side of the security line to warn Julian. I get that they are just a little pair of scissors, but what bothered me was that it was a total judgment call. It wasn't a hard and fast rule that I was breaking. Talk about having to keep calm and craft on!

Anyhow, here is a photo of my progress. I'm really enjoying this project. I started with the letters and made myself do one floss of letters each time I wanted to do a colored theme. Because I was working without scissors part of the time, I improvised with some of the colors based on pieces I already had cut in my stash. I think it is coming along nicely.

Also, check out my update on my little scrappy houses.

Keeping calm and crafting on with Frontier Dreams.

Monday, September 22, 2014


natal plum :: gulls at corona del mar :: sunset over balboa :: going, gone :: fashion island :: 
lookout point :: cormorants and pelicans :: little corona del mar :: stoic :: heading out

ACM-BCB Conference - Julian gives his talk today and we leave tomorrow. Our feet are blistered and weary from all the walking but we've had a wonderful time so far.

Friday, September 19, 2014

building houses

House #1
I learned a lot about this project in my first week. For starters, the scrappy look is all well and good but I am more pleased with the result if a wee bit of care is taken making the selections.  I liked how, on day one, everything fabric-wise went together so easily. On day two, I grabbed scraps at random and went at it again, with less pleasing results.

Lessons learned:
House #2
1. Bold prints are best kept for the walls of the house and the sky, or the roof OR the sky, but not both roof AND sky.
2. If you decide that the door and the window should be made of the same fabric to indicate that the door is open, you can't also make the roof and the window the same without thereby indicating that the roof is open. (I'm telling myself that day one's house has a cathedral ceiling with another big window.)
3. The chimneys are sweet and little and must have some distinction from the rest or they are just blah.

I have also, in the wake of my scrap-happy-ness, laid a few ground rules.

House #3
1. On Sundays, when I make my block, the door and the fabric will be the same, indicating that the door is open. We almost always have friends over (or go over to their house) and it is a sweet memento for me.
2. Roofs (did you know that "rooves" is proper but "outdated"?) will be brown or red, unless there is snow on the ground in which case they may be white.
3. Care must be taken with white and it should probably be used only for snowy roofs or lit windows.
4. Skies should be blue, gray, or black if indicating night.

House #4
House 1: I was thrilled with how this house came out. I woke up thinking about the project and made myself do a few house chores before starting - great motivation for work! It was a Saturday, we stayed in and watched football (bad football day) and Julian did work.

House 2: Woke up at 7am thinking about my little house. I struggled with this one because the block is so small that I am tempted to make tiny seams or else there is a tremendous amount of fabric on the back, but then my seams come undone - I had to redo the front by the door. Made up rules listed above. Julian went to coaching clinic and I prepared for company. First apple pie of fall made today.

House #5
House 3: I confess. Our friends didn't come over on Sunday so, after I baked the pie, I made another little house while I listened to my audio book. No friends = closed door. The roof is very challenging and even when I know what the mistake is, I still make it. Twice... thrice. For the second day in a row, sundown has come too early for me to manage dinner and have a bike ride, so this house has a dark sky.

House 4: Monday's house. A great many things had to be done before I could sit down and make my daily house. It was shopping day. Julian spent the afternoon "at the office". It is better for him to work in his own separate space in the house lest I bug him constantly.

House 5: I pulled out a different bin of scraps and got a very different house. I suppose it will go quite nicely when there are 300 houses that are all different. I am struggling with letting it be scrappy and spending too much time trying to pick out coordinating fabrics. As much as I try, I cannot keep myself from tidying it all up in my brain. I am looking at sashing options and maybe the sashing will help bring it all together. This was also the first day I used a solid (roof) - jury's still out on that one. Morning rain kept me from
House #6
doing some gardening with EM (and the sun came out as soon as we cancelled) so we have a rainy sky in this block.

House 6: Today is a beautiful day. We've had a cool front these past few days - or maybe it's just fall coming on strong  - I don't quite trust that it is here to stay. Can you tell how much I love this little yellow floral print? I bought it recently, paired with completely different fabrics, but it is at home here with the oldies.  I have learned that if I don't try to short cut things, the roof minds its manners. Perfection still evades me but I have to keep telling myself the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In the kitchen

down home meal :: chocolate kringle :: first farm apples :: crumb top :: mayo :: bear claw

I sat down to type this thinking that it had been an uneventful week in the kitchen. Looking back at the photos, it wasn't nearly as boring as I thought. Last Thursday, I felt guilt for sending Julian off with a skimpy lunch (I'd forgotten we had no sandwich bread) so I over compensated by fixing a wonderful down-home dinner. The okra was from our garden, everything was delicious. Then, knowing we were traveling this weekend, I made two roasts, a pork loin and a beef chuck roast, and we've eaten off them bit by bit throughout the week to keep things simple. 

The culinary adventures of the week were on the periphery of our meals: my first homemade mayonnaise, the first apple pie of the season, a failed attempt at a chocolate kringel, and bear claws. Did you know bear claws were filled with almond paste? I didn't, but now I do!

Bear Claws
Makes 8

One box of frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cool
1/2 c. almond flour/meal (Bob's Red Mill is good and easy to find)
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
One large egg, separated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter, soft

Sliced almonds
Confectioners sugar
About 1 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine almond flour, egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and whiz until a paste forms (you can just mix it really well if you don't have a processor). Cut each sheet of puff pastry in even quarters. Blob a spoonful of the almond mixture in the center of each of the squares, making each of the eight squares gets an even amount. Fold each piece in half long ways, making sure to seal the edges well by pinching them closed with your fingers. Cut the "claws" (use a pizza cutter if you have one) and then pull the corners back to give it a little curve and open the claws. Combine egg yolk with a Tbsp of water and brush across the top of each pastry, making sure to avoid any cut edge. (It will glue your puff pastry closed and it won't puff if you let it go to the edge.) Sprinkle each one with a few sliced almonds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and buttery. Remove from the oven and whisk about 1/4 confectioners sugar together with 1 Tbsp. milk. Drizzle glaze over top and eat, eat, eat.

Next week, we're going to talk more about PIE. Apple pie. I hope you'll join me for it!

What's happening in your kitchen? Show and tell with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.

PS Here is a sign of the times - it is still summer so the hummers are still here but it has gotten very cool. Earlier this week, our chickadees showed up and the hummingbird feeder and were very confused why they couldn't get it to work! So, we are now in the in-between with both feeders up on the kitchen window. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wild Honey

Julian and I are leaving on Friday for a four day trip to California so he can present a paper at a conference. I have this new project packed and ready to take a long.

Something about my rustic shawl has stuck in my craw. Maybe it is that I had hoped it would be a gift and it is coming out more my size than the smaller size I need for it to be. Maybe it is the predictable autumn colors and that makes me feel like it's an "old lady sweater" like a sweatshirt with a cardinal and the changing leaves on the front, sewn with gold thread. I don't know. What I do know is that if I take it on the plane, it won't get worked on, so I'm not taking it.

The write up on this slouchy hat pattern said it was "chicken soup" for when you're "feeling beaten up by a pattern". Ah yes. Thank you.

The yarn is an almost-entire ball of lamb's pride sport that was leftover from my bunny. I just love that the color way is called wild honey. What's not to love about chicken soup and wild honey?


On the book front - I read Hannah Coulter and Nathan Coulter so fast two weeks ago that I forgot to mention them this week. I LOVED them both and highly recommend them. Hannah touches on a good many thought provoking issues: war, education, children returning home or not, loss of the farms, etc.

I am finished also with The River of Doubt. I learned so much! There were a few small tidbits about the Amazon I could have gone without knowing, but I still think this book should be required reading for high school. The long and short of it: brief background on Teddy Roosevelt's life, character, family and his obsession with being a pioneer; he and his son Kermit accompanied explorer Candido Rondon into the Amazon to survey an unknown river "as wide as the Elbe and a thousand miles long;"  Roosevelt was a military man, Rondon was a strict pacifist. This book is a great look into the politics and ideas of the time, influence of the rubber trade on isolated indian tribes, and the dynamics of men in hardship.

Between, Georgia is finally started in earnest and packed for the trip!

What are you reading and knitting? Show and tell with Ginny!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I am not really a cross stitch person. I prefer needlepoint, mainly because the image is printed on the fabric and I like that the whole background is filled in. My mom got me one of those tiny 3x3 in. cross stitch ornament kits to teach me when I was about ten. She taught me all I needed to know in about nine stitches and I never finished it.

All this aside, I saw a few pictures on Pinterest and followed the bunny trail to Plum Street Samplers. I just fell in love with the antique reproduction cross stitch I found there. I generally steer clear of "primitives" but some of these are very nice.

When I saw this freebie chart she offered, I knew I wanted to make one to match the quilt I've been piecing in 1800's reproduction fabrics. This makes a perfect project for me on the plane this Friday when Julian and I go cross country to a CS conference. Since I am a rather obsessive packer, this little lovely is assembled and packed already, just waiting for the fasten seat belt sign.

P.S. I also found this pattern for a Valentine's stocking. Is that not the cutest idea ever? I think I'm going to make one for every wedding I'm ever invited to, from here on out. The recipients can fill it with sweet nothings on Valentine's Day and their anniversary!

Keep calm and craft on with Frontier Dreams!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another week...

Back at the beginning of August, Julian said, "You just watch - the next year is going to fly by like nothing else." He's been so right so far. Here it is another Monday, and before you know it, Friday will be here, like so many weeks that were August, September. Without my knowing it, October will have come and gone.

The weeks are, each one, like a giant to-do list. We check those things off and keep it moving. The pleasantness of flexible summer days is gone - there is no time to be flexible. The work must get done and the dark of each night comes sooner and sooner to close out each day.

Little think'st thou, poor flower,
Whom I've watch'd six or seven days,
And seen thy birth, and seen what every hour
Gave to thy growth, thee to this height to raise,
And now dost laugh and triumph on this bough,
Little think'st thou,
That it will freeze anon, and that I shall
To-morrow find thee fallen, or not at all.
- from The Blossom, John Donne

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tiny House

Well, lookie here. I made a tiny house from scraps. I just discovered this quilt-a-long yesterday, two years too late, but I'm enamored of it just the same. I think I'm going to make a few tiny houses when I get the chance and journal them in batches once per week. Yes, I like that idea. 

Want more information? Want to try it yourself? Go here:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In the kitchen

pineapple upside-down cake :: carrot cake with dulche de leche frosting :: 
cinnamon sugar pull-a-parts :: dehydrating apples :: elderberry juice

Lots of fun things happened in the kitchen last week. I fried our first batch of okra from the garden and I made a wonderful batch of shrimp creole, a first attempt me me. But what made the kitchen a mess last week was neither of these, it was the cakes.

We celebrated three birthdays last week within our "membership" and my kitchen felt it! For starters, the pineapple upside-down cake is a coconut-y one.  Secondly, I made a this carrot cake, the best I've ever made but BEWARE - all the things that make it yummy make it fall apart. Instead of making it a layer cake, I recommend baking it in a 9 x 13 and serving it straight out of there.

Carrot Cake

1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. applesauce
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c. grated carrots
1 c. coconut
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, in juice (I just put fresh pineapple in the blender for a few seconds)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine carrots, coconut, optional nuts and pineapple in a bowl, Mix and set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix and set aside. In the bowl of your mixer or in a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs, mixing thoroughly. Gently mix in flour mixture until all dry is mixed in. Do not over work. With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for 40+ minutes or until top is springy to the touch and/or toothpick comes out clean.

I used this frosting and it was perfect, but the fact that I added about 1/4 c. of dulce de leche didn't hurt either.

What's going on in your kitchen? Show and tell with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.