Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pickled Green Tomatoes

Just finished the Pickled Green Tomatoes from "Food in Jars".  I did two batches, they are cooling now.

I didn't have enough brine to completely fill all three jars properly and the jar that was a little low didn't seal, so that will be the first one I try in a couple of weeks.

I doubled the brine for the second batch (better to have more than not enough) and it worked great.  Two cloves of garlic, black peppercorn, bay leaves and dill seed.  Can't wait to try them.

My how time flies....

My last post was in June.  Wow.  Can't say that I've had much to post about.  Kind of got bogged down in mundane day to day life stuff and lost that crafty side for a bit.

But I'm currently working on a crocodile stitch baby blanket and will get caught up on my Craftsy and English Garden quilt blocks.  Haven't so much as laid a finger on them since then. 

My garden did okay.  Got quite a few tomatoes and I'm still getting baby tomatoes.  Just hoping the weather holds out long enough for these to get to a good size as they are from the German Giant plant I had all but given up on.  Also got some baby okra growing.  They did nothing during the heat wave and now they are growing.  Same with the jalapeno.  Go figure.

But so as not to leave this with just words, here are pictures of my flowers that I was very happy to see grow and blossom.  I'm already thinking about planting bulbs now for spring.

Red and white dahlia
Purple dahlia

One of the sunflowers

White dahlias

Pink and white dahlia

Also, I've purchased a couple of new cookbooks.  One is "Food in Jars".  I've loved the blog that inspired this book from the moment I first saw it and I love that the recipes in this book only make 3 - 5 jars instead of a dozen or more.  That means more canning for me!  The very first recipe I'll be making is the Pickled Green Tomatoes as I had a lot of green tomatoes that pretty much aren't going to ripen up with the weather getting chillier and I don't want to be hit with a bunch of ripe tomatoes at one time.  And, let's face it, I LOVE pickles.

So now back to prepping for the canning.  Shouldn't take too long as it will only be six jars.  I'm very excited about this book!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Playing Catch Up

I'm about 3 months behind on my block of the month work.  Here are blocks 3 and 4 for the English Garden quilt.

I've finished the first of the April Craftsy block but I won't post it until I've finished the second.  Then I've got to do May and June.  The creative energy kind of drained out of me for a while there, but it's back now.

I also planted these in front of the house:

I saw the bulbs at my local grocery store and fell in love with them.  We've been having a draggy spring and it finally got to the point where I felt it was safe to put them out.  Hopefully by the end of summer I'll have these gorgeous Dahlia's popping up.  The colors are so pretty.

I also planted seeds for watermelon, tomatoes, basil, cilantro and sunflowers.  The sunflowers were the first to peek out from under the dirt.


The itty bitty tomato just peeked through today

I'm toying with buying some plants that are already started to transplant just to have something going already.  Either way it will be an adventure.  It looks like the sunflowers will lead the way.  Once they get 3 sets of leaves they get transplanted and I would love to see them reach their full bloom.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Okay back to crafting, more later.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Second March Craftsy Block

I've been working on a baby quilt so I'm just now getting around to the second Craftsy block for the month.  Here it is:

Craftsy March Block 2

Now I HAVE to finish the baby quilt.  The machine quilting is giving me fits.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Craftsy Surprise

Imagine my surprise when I was reading the new Craftsy newsletter and I saw that the block I made for the March quilt along was chosen as part of the Project Spotlight.

Here's the link to the newsletter.  Craftsy Newsletter

Needless to say I was floored and flattered that my block was chosen.  I only hope I can continue to live up to the challenge.

Thanks Craftsy!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cross Stitch Expansion

Last year I saw the "Christmas Village" designs by JBW Designs and had to have them.  I contacted my LYS, Stitch in Time and asked if they had them.  They didn't but the did order them for me and they are finally here.

I had never been into this shop before, (my husband would speed up when we got within range of it) and finally got a chance to do just that.  I now know why he sped up every time...I only spent a short amount of time there, but I could still be there if I hadn't made myself leave after one additional purchase.

I also bought the Little House Needleworks "Warm Winter Woolens" chart and the 32 count linen and floss to go with it.  I have only ever used DMC, because that's what came in the kits I purchased and that's what was usually listed in charts I'd seen.  I know there's a vast and wonderful world of alternative flosses out there and decided today to venture into that world with the purchase of floss from Weeks Dye Works.  Pricey?  Yes,but hand dyed and beautiful colors.  I ended up swapping out one of the colors for a hand over dyed version (Kudzu - even the names are great) and just love it.

They also have all kinds of yarns that had me swooning.  I could see myself spending a lot of time and money in that shop.  If you're in the Howell area and have never been there, go if only for the experience of seeing the wonderful colors and patterns that are available.  Not to mention the super personnel.

There's a hooking class next week end that I may go to, just to learn a new craft (not to mention I've already got design ideas floating in my head after seeing an example).

But I can't touch what I picked up today until I complete a couple of items in progress.  The baby leggings (1 done, 1 to go) and machine quilting the baby quilt.  No to mention I've decided to thin out some craft books and let them go to new homes.  So I'd better get to it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New stuff

Okay, here's the first Craftsy March block.  It is called the String Block:

Craftsy String Block 03-06-2012

And up next are the first two blocks from a block of the month quilt from Grandma's Attic Sewing Emporium called English Flower Garden.  What drew me to this block of the month was the combination of embroidery and batiks.

English Flower Garden Block #2

English Flower Garden Block #1
I'm having a lot of fun with these blocks.  It's keeping me moving forward in my crafting.  I spray basted the baby quilt yesterday and I've already ripped out the first two attempts at quilting it.

I then went to my Craftsy course and reviewed some of the walking foot portions of the course and will give it another shot this weekend.  I will figure this out, I'm only doing straight lines, it can't e that least I hope it doesn't continue to be.  The perfectionist in me is rearing her loony head.

I should have the second Craftsy block up by the weekend.  Back to L&O SVU now.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February Baby Quilt

My sister emailed me requesting a baby quilt for a friend who is due in March. My sister's one request/demand was "don't make it all pink." Nothing like a little notice. 

Well it gave me a reason to make a pattern I saw and loved in the April issue of American Patchwork & Quilting called "Sticks and Bricks".  I planned to downsize it for a baby and used the yardage for the color option they gave which is a perfect size.

The toughest thing was finding enough large scale prints that worked color-wise. Found tons of nice prints that tended to read as solids from a distance.  So I cut up everything that had potential and started playing with the layout.  This is the finished top:

Baby Quilt Top 02-24-12

Now to quilt it.  I've decided to machine quilt it as it needs to be done fairly quickly.  I'm thinking straight lines as I'm still a novice at machine quilting.  Now off to shovel some more snow that was dumped on mid-Michigan today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kincavel Krosses Stitch Along

One of my favorite cross stitch designers is Kell Smurthwaite of Kincavel Krosses and she started a monthly Christmas cross stitch along.  I thought it was a great idea and a way to get some Christmas cross stitching done early this year.  This is my January entry:


I added seed beads instead of doing french knots as was offered for the holly berries.  One down, eleven more to go.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Craftsy Block of the Month - February

The Balkan Puzzle Block.  Ended up just shy of 12 1/2"

Balkan Puzzle Block

I'll work on the Chunky Chevron Block tomorrow.

And now for the Chunky Chevron Block:

Chunky Chevron
I have learned I prefer the drawn line method of half square triangles.  This course is showing me some great ways to put together blocks.  I could put together a chevron quilt very quickly and may just add it to my to do list.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wow, wow and WOW!!!

I subscribe to a lot of quilting and craft newsletters always looking for new ideas and tips.  And I think the one I got today is going to really change my quilting life.  It's all about spray basting quilts.  Take a look:

I've got 3 tops just begging to be quilted and one thing that always slows me down is the prepping for quilting.  Ugh! 

I'm already thinking about what to move so I can set up a wall to use and track down some 505 Basting Spray.

Thank you Quilt Show for sharing this wonderful tip!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Craftsy Block of the Month - January

So after thinking and rethinking and thinking again, I finally decided on a color scheme for the Craftsy Block of the Month course.  I'm doing black, white and red.  There may be a few spots of other colors with the black, it will depend on the block.

So I went to Joann's and used my 10% VIP discount card that I got with my AQS membership and bought some fabric as well as a couple of rulers and some floss.  Here are the results for the two January blocks.

Asterisk - January

Wonky Pound Sign - January

 They were really easy to make, the only problem I had was with one of the wonky arms lining up.  I ripped the stitches and tried it again, but it wouldn't line up so it's staying the way it is.

Can't wait to see February!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A little block

I went on a bit of a binge and bought three kits (which I mentioned previously) and joined a block of the month club. 

The block of the month sent a bonus block that I think is just a thank you and warm up and I pieced it today using my new machine.  It's a small step in the process forward.

I need to trim it a little to even up the edge.  I like the autumn colors, but lately I've been in a batik lust.  I just can't get enough of looking at them.  I believe I'll be doing the Craftsy blocks out of batiks.  I'd better get started on the January block as the month is half way over.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First crafty completion of the year

This is a market bag I made for Angela using Michigan State fabric.  It folds up neatly to be stashed away.  Pretty easy to put together.  The most time consuming part was the bias tape.

I started this on my old White Jean Machine and finished it on my new Brother CP7500 which I got mainly for the quilting features.  What I can say is that so far I LOVE THIS MACHINE!!  It is easy to wind the bobbins, thread the machine and sew.  I love the 1/4" piecing setting, no more fiddling with the seam allowance.  Now to really learn machine quilting.  It came with a walking foot and the free motion quilting foot as well as the quilting guide for straight lines.  I was blown away with how easily I got started, but there's still a lot to learn.  It's quiet, fast and user friendly.

Brother CP7500

Not the best picture in the world, but here it is.  It also came with an extension table for quilting and a hard cover.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!! I realize that I actually avoided sewing because of the old machine and now I am thinking of all of the projects I want to do this year.

While looking for a biscotti recipe I read a post about Connecting and popped over to see what it was all about.  Well it's about some really great fabric for not a lot of money.  I have been looking for a quilt kit to work on for quite a while. Something I didn't have to look at putting the fabric together for, something I could just pick up and do.  And boy was I pleasantly surprised when I bought not one, not two, but three kits for under $70 (including the backing fabric).  One kit I purchased is called Scrappy Diamonds and cost all of $29.46 for the top, binding and backing!  If you don't believe me, look for yourself.  They have a Kit Builder option where you can trade out the fabrics to get an idea of how it will look. 

I was a little skeptical about the fabric until it arrived.  Now I am completely sold on this company.  Trust me, give them a look, you will love the way this fabric feels when you get some and you will really love the prices. I will definitely be going back to them for future projects.

In closing, I'm still learning to live without Jay.  I can see that at some point I'll get to a "new normal", but I'm still having my moments.  Crafting (reading blogs, looking at projects, going through my stash, and actually working on things) is helping me to make it through.

Here's to what I hope is a peaceful, crafty new year for myself and everyone out there in craft land.