Friday, August 31, 2012

Food for the Soul

Hello Everyone,
I'm still making backings, bindings and I'm working on pattern directions.  I'm also retracing all of my applique drawings on different paper that will copy well.  To complete all this work, I have to eat well to keep me going.  Our friends and neighbors, Randy and Barbara, gave us a big bag of tomatoes and eggplant.  So I fixed a large Eggplant Parmigiana casserole for dinner last night.

Eggplant Parmigiana

1 pound ground round
1 pound mild Italian sausage                                  
1 (28 oz.) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
3 ½ cups water
¼ cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large eggplant
½ cup olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 (6 oz.) package mozzarella cheese slices, cut into thin strips

©      Cook ground round in a skillet until browned, stirring to crumble meat.  Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings.  Set meat and drippings aside.

©      Cook sausage in skillet until browned, stirring to crumble meat.  Drain; set aside.

©      Combine ground round, reserved drippings, tomatoes, and next 9 ingredients in a Dutch oven.  Cook, uncovered over medium-low heat 2 hours.  Remove and discard bay leaves.

©      Cut eggplant into ¼-inch slices.  Saute eggplant in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost tender; drain.
©      Spread 1 ½ cups tomato mixture in a 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish.  Layer half each of eggplant slices, shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, reserved sausage, and tomato mixture; repeat layers.  Top with mozzarella cheese strips.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until lightly browned and thoroughly heated.  Yield:  8 servings.

Source:  America’s Best Recipes 1991 – page 35
Just like my patterns, nothing I do is quick and easy.  This dish will take you awhile to prepare, but it is worth the extra effort.


Mr. Joe has been on a mission to find saddles so he can retrofit our current bar stools at the cabin with saddle stools.  We have two saddles, and we are looking for one more.  I can just see the little grand kids loving their new chairs.  They are going to be the most popular seat in the whole cabin!  I'm sure the big kids will be fighting over a chair so they can belly-up to the bar!  This fits right in with our eclectic accumulation of "stuff" at the cabin.  I always wanted a kitchen that smelled like saddle soap and leather!

Time for me to ride off into the sunset and finish my pattern directions.  Hi-ho Silver.....away!



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Binding and Backing

Hello Everyone,
Not a whole lot to show for the first part of my week.  I made the bindings and backing for Toyland Tree.  To keep the binding nice and organized, I wrapped it around a used cardboard cylinder.

I've been drawing out some quilting patterns that I plan to use in the border of Nostalgic Christmas.

If you can't draw it, you can't quilt it!  So I draw and draw to build up the repetitive memory before I touch the quilting machine.

I have twelve pages of directions written for Toyland Tree.  I work on them in the morning while I'm fresh and at the top of my game. I can do binding in my sleep, so I saved that task for the late afternoon.

I had another important job to finish yesterday.  My 9-year-old twin granddaughters needed letters of reference.  They are both applying for a Junior Staff Position at the Kid Zone after school program at their elementary school.  They have to fill out an application and go through the interview process.  They will be compensated for their time with play money which can be redeemed for books.  I'm very impressed by all of this.  I wrote two glowing letters of recommendation from a Grammys point of view. I'll let you know if they get the job.

I'll spend today making the backing and binding for Nostalgic Christmas.  I have to redraw and scan all of the blocks for Toyland.  My day will be full.




Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Black Dress

Hello Everyone,

I worked at the shop yesterday and just take a look at what followed me home. 

A few pieces of Little Black Dress by basicgrey for Moda.  I don't know what I'm going to do with it just yet, but it was calling my name.  You know, anything with polka dots is a winner in my book.

My posts are going to be few and far between over the next week.  I'll be writing pattern directions which is just as exciting as watching paint dry.  I'll be making binding and backings, also mind numbing.  Next week I'll be posting progress of my machine quilting on Toyland.  While I'm quilting, I'll have one eye on my laser printer while it prints out pattern after pattern.  Mr. Joe will be busy stuffing patterns next week.  He is just thrilled!  Sew'n Wild Oaks is a real Mom & Pop cottage industry.  The working conditions are good, I have great benefits, and the conversations around the water cooler are very stimulating! 

On that note, I'll be at the shop today for my regular Monday workday.  The Monday Ladies will be there quilting their hearts out. They are such a talented and fun group of women.  Seeing them is a great start to my week.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Once You Pass Its Borders..........

Hello Everyone,

What's that phrase, "Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes." Well, I'm now going to include quilting in that phrase! Toyland Tree is just sooooo close to the finish line. Just six more yo-yo's and this will officially be called a finished flimsy.

The Toyland Tree journey started three years ago....but who's counting?  It started out with a lime green background.  No swags, yo-yo's or borders were in the original design.  The quilt kept talking to me, and morphed itself (with a little help from me) into this final version.  If this quilt could talk, I would have to bleep a few of the words out!  This quilt and I had a few heated arguments over the past three years.  It was sent to the back of the UFO closet on more than one occassion!

Over the past few days, I finished up some of the final touches.  The doll needed a face and a ribbon for her bonnet.

The marionette needed little birds so he could move his arms.

The elephant needed big grey eyes and little pink toes peeking out of the stocking.

Last, but not least, the giraffe needed a smile while it hitched a ride in the train, riding the rails.

Who said you can never return to Toyland.  I've been wallowing in it for the last three years!  Now that I'm almost finished, I don't want to leave.  This quilt kept me awake at night with many unintelligible notes scribbled on a note pad on the nightstand.  I drew, redrew and changed almost every single block.  I have finished blocks that never made the final cut.  Don't worry, I've saved them for Toyland #2......NOT.  No way, no how.

Next week, I'll work on the pattern directions some more and get this one on the quilting machine after Labor Day. I don't want to rush into this. I still have to figure out how I'm going to quilt it.

Now where's my glass of wine so I can propose a toast to Toyland!



P.S. When I'm finished basking in the glow of a finished quilt, I'll be offering this quilt as a BOM through In Between Stitches.  I'll keep you posted when we will start taking signups.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Toyland Tree

Hello Everyone,

Just in case you haven't guessed, here is a big, big clue for how Toyland TREE is going to go together.  Every TREE needs a star at the's mine.  This blocks is called Georgetown Circle and is perfect for the top of the tree.  I can envision a whole holiday quilt using this block.

I've been busy working on the little faces with embroidery floss.  They are coming alive and jumping right off the quilt.

Here's the top of my quilt.  I won't attached the yo-yo's to the swags until after I quilt it, which I think will give it more dimension.  I'll find some cute little buttons to put in the center of the yo-yo's.  I plan on crosshatching the quilt with a sprinkling of snowflakes in silver thread around my tree in the open areas.

Not counting the borders, there are seven rows to the quilt.  I'm still working on rows six and seven.  I have more swags to make and more finishing touches for the remaining blocks.  All the tiny little detail work is taking me a lot of time!  I'm just taking it one block at a time.  Today I'll finish the doll and make more red and white polka dot swags for the bottom row.  The finished size will be 64" x 76". At this point in time, it feels more like 64 feet than 64 inches!

And then there are the directions.  I've been working on them as I go along.  When I get tired of quilting, I turn to the computer and work on the directions.  Painstakingly slow, but they are coming together.  I'm off to start my quilting day with thread in hand and computer at the ready.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Falling Off The Grid

Hello Everyone,

I'm finally reconnecting to the outside world.  No phone and no Internet since last Friday afternoon compliments of a Comcast technician that thought our signal was causing interference with our neighbors reception, so we were disconnected!  To make a long story short, 48 hours later we finally got our phone and Internet back when another technician arrived. 

I'm going to get caught up with a post that should have gone out last from my Sew'n Wild Oaks class last Tuesday.

My sister, (PTD for short, pattern test dummy) is working through the Nostalgic Christmas pattern.  She finished her first pillow top.  It is the first time she's made double flying geese and her first flange....all in the same block!

Now she has her fabric selected and is ready to start working on pillow #2.  The Sentiments panel included in the new 3 Sisters Christmas line is so beautiful.  I love it and I'm not usually a panel person.

Cindy is working on The House on Edgewood Lane.  She's almost finished with the center applique section.  Wouldn't you like to live in this little cottage?

Louise is coming right along with her Heartfire blocks. I'm loving her color selection.  See her little pasta dryer in the background that holds all of her strips.  Great organizational idea.

Kathy is working on her embroidery for Party in the Garden.  I wish you could really see Kathy's uniform stitches.  Incredible.

Barbara is making wonderful progress with Minglewood.  She's also having a good time making these complex blocks.  Barbara and I both agree that you learn so much when working on Minglewood.

Kay is working on her tiny little basket for Party in the Garden.  The tutorial for the baskets is under the Virtual Classroom tab. 

Isabelle is working on the center applique section for Winterset.  I'll bet she'll have it completed by the next time we meet.

Here is Gail's Winterset block.  She is using the block pattern layout sheet to help organize all of the little pattern pieces.

Now getting back to my falling off the grid.  This was actually a good thing.  I'd never let my Internet provider know that!  I got so much accomplished on Toyland Tree!  The borders are done, I made good headway on the pattern directions, and I feel as though I can see the light at the end of the quilting tunnel.  This quilt should be ready for the Georgetown show on Sept. 15th.  Then it's time for Quilting in the Garden and Pacific International Quilt Festival.  I shouldn't get ahead of myself, but I'm feeling much better that I won't run out of time.  The next few weeks will be fast and furious, but with all of you cheerleaders out there pulling me along.......I think I can.....I think I can.......



Friday, August 17, 2012

Bordering on......Insanity???

Hello Everyone,

I'm holed up, no cooped up, no sequestered away working on borders for Toyland Tree.  I made a whole bunch of strips sets and cut them up.  When you think about it, all we quilters do is cut up fabric into different shapes and sizes and sew it all back together again creating different shapes and sizes.  Is it an exercise in futility or creativity?

After all that stripping, I end up with this.

Then I ended up with a whole bunch of them.  Ten down, eight more to go.

They will go together something like this.....but not exactly.  I have to leave you guessing just a little bit.  I can't spill all the beans just yet.  

When I start designing, I have an idea what the quilt is going to look like, but ideas come to me along the design path, and I take off in a different direction.  This border idea is totally different from the original design, but I didn't have enough fabric to pull it off.  Thanks to the speedy delivery and availability from The Fat Quarter shop, I was able to purchase more of the black fabric......and it was a perfect match. I was sweating bullets until it arrived.

I'm getting a little anxious as to whether or not this quilt and pattern directions are going to be finished by my deadline of September 14th.  I'm making forward progress, but I'm just past the fifty yard line with a whole bunch of yards ahead of me.  I can see the goal posts from here, and I'm running as fast as I can. The devil is in the details, and this quilt is very detailed!

I'm off to start my day, working away at my to-do list.  I try to be reasonable with my expectations of what I think I can get done everyday.  Some days I fall short, and other days I'm ahead of myself.  So I guess it will all even out in the end.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Between Stitches Preview Party

Hello Everyone,

You probably think I'm missing in action......well not so!  I've been teaching and I was involved in the Preview Party for In Between Stitches, Tuesday at the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore, CA.

The fabulous venue lends itself nicely for events. 

The room was full of quilters anxiously awaiting to see the quilts and projects they can learn how to make during the last quarter of the year.

There was also a little part of the store available for shopping.

Here is the parade of quilt classes starting with three of my offerings.

Now to the rest of the wonderful classes.  There are many, many more than what I'm showing here on my blog.  It was just impossible to get pictures of everything being taught.  Such a nice variety of projects and I was amazed at the diversity! 

There are quilting and sewing classes available for every level.  The full class schedule is listed HERE.  The classroom will be buzzing with activity as the calendar is full for the next four months.

I encourage you to support your local quilt shop.  When you take a class, you learn so much and it will give you a chance to make friends and enjoy a day of uninterrupted quilting/sewing, learning and probably eating!  You'll be so glad you did!



Monday, August 13, 2012

Upcoming Classes

Hello Everyone,

Tomorrow is the Preview Party for In Between Stitches.  All of the instructors will showcase the classes we will be teaching for the rest of the year.

I'll be teaching Scrappy Leaves from the Maple Leaf Quilts book by Ilene Bartos.  I used over 120 different batiks for this quilt and I love it.

Next up is October Magic.

Then Holiday Treats Tablerunner by Laura Nownes.

Nostalgic Pillows.

Last but not least, Mittens With Moxie.

I'll post a link to the new class schedule when it is posted to the web.  The schedule will be extensive and I hope lots of you can attend some classes.  We do have lots of fun!

I'm off to the shop this morning.  I have to finish kitting October Magic and I'll let you know when the kits are ready.

Thanks go to all who enter the October Magic contest.  There were so many clever comments, and poems that made us smile and laugh!