Monday, October 31, 2011

Tea Time

Having given time to coffee, it's only fair if we talk about tea, too.

I do like tea a lot.   Tea bring back great memories of certain tea loving friends.  Some even read my posts -- you know who you are.

This tea quilt is blue work embroidery and is one of the few quilts I've done that was from someone else's pattern.  The blocks in this quilt were designed by Debbie Foley and Valerie Bowman for a quilt shop here in Arizona several years ago.  I was busy writing my book at the time, but needed some hand work for travel time.  Embroidery is so relaxing to me.  The original blocks were done in cobalt blue, but I decided to use a lighter, more country blue that matched the blue stenciled walls in the family room and kitchen of the house we lived in then.  I would make it the cobalt today, but since I've done it once, I won't be doing it again.

All but one of the blocks had the name of a tea beneath the tea pot.  Since Earl Grey is my favorite tea (followed closely by Lady Grey) that is the name I chose to embroider in that block. 

This was a fun project to do since it took absolutely no thinking!  Just thread the needle with the same color over and over and embroider.  Sometimes we need those projects so our mind can work on other things.

So now that the weather is cooler, even here in AZ, it is time for tea and maybe some scones!

What do you do when you need to unwind and let your mind wander?

Do you space out with TV or read a book -- not one that requires thinking, of course?

Does tea comfort you?  I remember my mom giving us tea and toast when we didn't feel well.  Maybe that's why it is a comfort to me.

Have a cup of your favorite -- even if it is coffee instead of tea and relax a bit.  I'll pretend I'm there with you and have a cup myself.

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cuppa Joe

Hi friends!

Last post I promised to show you what I bought at the coffee roaster that I visited last week.  Photos were the problem.  What I bought was in the trunk of the car and Gary had gone somewhere in it on Saturday when I wanted to take the photos.  It was too dark later and we were just too busy doing other things on Sunday for me to get to them.  Sooo, it took until today for me to be able to take them in daylight.  I just don't like what the flash does to colors!

First a little background.  I've been a coffee fanatic lover for a long time.  My first coffee collectible that I bought was this coffee can.

I don't see this brand in the stores here in the Southwest, but in the Midwest when we lived there it was my favorite  This can is quite old and has the Good Housekeeping seal of approval stamped on it.

Oh wait, maybe I bought this before the can!

I don't really use the old style coffee grinder and I'm not even sure the wood part is original, but it has been displayed in my kitchen for many years.  The butter mold next to it was from my mother's family and has an acorn carved in the "plunger" part of the mold.  I have actually used that to make butter look fancy.

But THESE are what I found at the coffee roaster last week -- burlap coffee bags!  This one is from Indonesia.

Even the back is nice!  Can you see this as a pillow?  I sure can!  Here is a closeup of the front of the bag.

This one is slightly different, but from Indonesia as well.  Arabica beans seem to be the favorite of the roaster. But this one says Sumatra and it's organic.  Who knew!

These two are almost alike, but not quite.  They are from Brazil.  (Spell check tells me Brasil is spelled Brazil.  I think someone forgot to tell the Brazilians!)  

Don't you just LOVE the leaves and coffee berries on these?

The backs are different from each other, too.

The details tell us they are hydro carbon free.  I don't know what a hydro carbon is, but it must not be good for us!

I love the social message!  I did not know jute grew in the Amazon -- now I do!

In case you were worried, the beans at least in Brazil are washed!

This one is from Indonesia again.

.  Here are a couple of details of it.  I absolutely adore the stenciling on this one, it looks so Asian!

You can see these are Arabica beans again.

So, there you have it.  My obsession  fascination with all things having to do with coffee.  Can you smell it?  It is brewing.

So any suggestions besides pillows from these wonderful bags?  I'm thinking a couple might be terrific stretched over canvas.  Let me know what you would do if you found something like this.  Oh, the price tag?  $2.00 each!  The coffee inside -- a LOT more!



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Exchange Results -- WOW!

Hello friends!

I told you about the fat eighth (11" x 18") fabric exchange I was doing with 4 friends.  My choice was neutral fabrics because I tend to use more of those than any individual color.

The packages stared to arrive and they were amazing!

The first package to arrive was from Maggie who lives in a part of Arizona where they are actually experiencing Fall!  Lucky Maggie!  Thank you, Maggie, these are wonderful!

On "Sew Day" Diane who suffers here in the heat with me brought me these -- well, I think these were the ones from Diane.  Since she and Joyce gave me packages on the same day, I could have reversed who gave me which package!  Thank you, Diane!  I especially LOVE the stripe!

Yes, I was right!  This package came from Joyce.  I remember that she included the wonderful fabric with words on it.  Thank you, Joyce.  Joyce has become a part time desert dweller as she and recently retired DH spend a LOT of time (way too much for her dear friends) in their cabin in the White Mountains where -- yep, they've already had SNOW!

When I got home from sew day, there was a package in the mail box!  Ooh, I ADORE it when there are packages in the mail.  Letters can be bad news, but packages!!  Well, they are always good things!

This was from Julie over at JulieKquilts.  You need to go see her beautiful quilts!  Look how these were packaged -- they were a present with an add on -- wonderful suture scissors!  The fabrics were wonderful, too.  I wanted to show you the package, so the variety of fabrics are sort of hidden, but they were wonderful!  Thank you, Julie!  Julie lives in "blog land" and is actually in a different state, but one that can be equally as hot as AZ!  Some day I'm going to meet Julie in person -- can't wait!

Now, just look at the gorgeous texture that can be achieved with neutral fabrics.

Can you just see these as the background in a quilt?  Won't that quilt have great variety and yet "read" the same.  It's going to have movement just from the different prints without relying on color, just value.

While I'm writing this, I am sipping the most wonderful coffee.  The beans were roasted YESTERDAY!  I'll tell you about that adventure in the next blog.  The amazing thing is the coffee roaster is just blocks from my office.  It smells sooo good inside and they import coffee beans from all over.  Wait until you see what I bought there!  I'm a Starbucks kind of girl, but those freshly roasted beans may convert me!

So, my question to you is -- if you were in an exchange would you choose a color or would you decide to add to your neutral collection?  Have you ever exchanged fabrics or blocks?  Which are your favorite kinds of exchanges?

Now, Ive got to go.  I'm working on some musical Christmas ornaments and it will be here before you know it!  Of course, I'll show you what I'm doing, just not today, I'm trying to keep thinking Fall here for now!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Sew Day, Finally!

When quilting friends get together to sew, it's the most fun ever!  When those friends don't see each other often, it is even MORE fun.  We exchange fabrics, books, stories and ideas!

We even sew!

Diane wasn't set up to sew yet and Joyce had to take a phone call.  Phones, we love them, we hate them!  Pardon the glare on Diane's glasses -- she was facing the Arcadia door and it was sunny!  Perfect light for sewing!

Joyce had her little Featherweight out to chain piece.

Here is the packet of Fall fabrics I brought for Joyce and a bag of 1-1/2" strips for her Lego quilt and some "sister" fabric I had promised her a long time ago.

Diane found this Maxine fabric in Long Beach when she went to Quilt Festival there.  She brought us each a piece of it.

My neutrals were already in my "ready basket" with the other fabrics I brought just in case I decided to cut instead of sew.

Joyce was set up for her chain piecing with her Fall fabrics from Diane close by.  There was a LOT of fabric fondling going on!  We LOVE fabric!

And we did sew and sew and sew!

Diane was making these blocks.

Here is a sneak peak at Joyce's Lego quilt.  That's why she wanted more 1-1/2" strips.  What a lot of strips it will take!

And here is where I was when I wasn't behind the camera -- sewing the stacked brick strips to red sashing strips.

We had a few snacks and CostCo Joyce made a delicious chicken salad with croissant for lunch.  We had REAL tomatoes from a REAL garden that were sooooooo good!

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and I had to leave to go buy groceries.  I sure hope it isn't as long in between sew days from now on.  We are all busy and these days don't happen very often.  Next time, maybe you can come!

Don't you just LOVE getting together with quilting friends to sew?  I know I do!



Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Exchanges can be a really fun thing to do or a disappointment.  Most of the time, the exchanges I've been in have been fun.  I have found, though, that unless you know the skill level of the others in the exchange, it's best not to exchange blocks unless it doesn't bother you that the blocks will come in variations of the size they are supposed to be.

The best exchanges in my experience have been exchanging fabric.  This quilt was made with exchanges fat eighths (11" x 18" pieces).  You can read more about it here

You should recognize it as it is on the mast head and I blogged about it previously.  It is one of my favorite quilts because without the exchange, I might not have included some of the fabrics that are in this quilt.  There are some fabrics that we just don't think of as ocean colors, but if you've ever flown over the ocean, you know that there are definitely colors that are not just blue as the sky is reflected in whatever wonderful colors the sunrise or sunset is that day.

This much smaller quilt was made from 6" squares exchanged by quite a number of people.  The wonderful thing about making a quilt with small pieces is that even if you don't care for a particular piece of fabric, it works in these small pieces.  You might want to exclude it if you were to see more of that fabric.  You can read more about this quilt here.

I have other quilts that I've made or at least started from other exchanges.  I just don't have digital photos of those.  One is a Christmas quilt where 9-patches were exchanged.  I'll get it photographed when I get the Christmas quilts out and share it then.

For this exchange, there are a limited number of people -- 5 in all.  This makes cutting all those pieces a piece of cake.  If there are over 20 people in an exchange, it can take a while!  In other exchanges, the fabrics were whatever the people chose to exchange with no theme.

In this case, we all asked for a specific type or color of fabric and also specified if there was something we DID not want to receive.  That way no one ends up with a bunch of 30's fabric if that is not their "thing".

Two chose Fall fabrics, one red and green, but not Christmas prints, and one prefers batiks.

What I learned from this is that all fat quarters purchased are not equal.  Some are not cut straight and are not 22" wide because all fabric is not 44" wide.  Since probably 90 percent of the fabric I purchase is in the form of fat quarters, this is important to know!  Since most of my quilts are scrap quilts, it is not a problem for me as I just use a similar fabric if I "run out" of one.

So here is a sneak peak at the fabrics I've cut and are ready to be shipped.  Sh, don't tell my friends.  Oh, wait, they read my blog so I guess they will get a sneak peak, too!

Here are the four piles of fat eighths.  Don't they look yummy stacked like this?  Now I want to make a quilt with all of them!  Oh, I'm the 5th participant so I didn't cut myself any fat eighths.  My pile would be neutrals -- leaning to the warm side -- white through tan.  I'm not much into the grayed down colors.  Why neutral colors?  I'm glad you ask.  I have one drawer of neutrals, but at least one drawer EACH of the colors.  It is simply that the neutrals go faster than the colors.

Here is a closer look at the red and green and one of the "fall" groups.

Here is a closer look at the batiks and the other "fall" group.

Cutting these fabrics did not even make a DENT in the stash!  Now you know why living 30 miles from the nearest quilt shop isn't a problem unless I need thread or something specific for a project that I don't have on hand.  I will not admit to overbuying fabric in the past.  It might be true, but I will not admit it! LOL

Okay, friends, it's time to use that stash!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yummy Apple Crisp

I've been promising to share this yummy Apple crisp recipe with you.  Wish I could just have you over to share the real deal with you!

When our oldest granddaughter, Kaitlyne, was young she used to spend a lot of time at our house.  She lived in California (still does) and used to come for weeks at a time.  We loved it!  One of her favorite things to do was help cook things.  We made this apple crisp together and when she got older and couldn't come as much (school gets in the way of so much fun!) she asked me to send her the recipe.  She also liked to make "fake" thin mint cookies that are even better than the Girl Scouts sell, but that is another post.

As soon as it is September, apple crisp is a MUST around our house.  A couple of weeks ago, I made this one.

Isn't this just the cutest apple dish?  It was on sale when we lived in Alabama at the Cracker Barrel near our house and I just had to have it.  I love their country store for unique things.

This is a recipe that you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  All you may need to buy are the applies.  I use Granny Smith.  They are my "go to" apple for pies and crisps.  I love that they are so tart.

This is really all you need.  I do spray the dish with cooking spray before putting things in it to make for easier serving.

Cut the butter into the brown sugar with a pastry blender.  Sometimes I put the oats in at this time, too, but this time I added them after.

Just toss them in with the butter and brown sugar if you forget like I did  decide to add them later. .

The apples need to be peeled and sliced.  Toss the spices and chopped nuts with the apples right in the baking dish.

Then add the crumbles made with the butter, brown sugar and oats on top.

Then bake for 30 to 40 a 375 degree oven.  It will smell wonderfully cinnamony and like Fall!  It will look like this -- well, if you have the same apple dish I have.

Of course you can eat it like this OR you can add some vanilla ice cream on top.  It's delicious either way!

Here is all you need. (One of these days I'll figure out how to make a printer friendly version of the recipes.)

1 cup sliced apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I like to use whole nutmeg and a grater for a fresher taste)

Crumble Topping

1/2 cup COLD butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cut oats

Place the applies in a greased 10" square pan (unless you have a cute apple one), add nuts and spices.

Using a pastry blend, cut the utter into the brown sugar and oats.  Sprinkle over the top and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serves 6.

This recipe came from The American Country Inn and Bed and Breakfast Cookbook.  This cookbook is one of my favorites.

Now, I need to go dish up the pot roast that has been cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon.  It really is beginning to smell good!

Until next time,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spikey Things

This post was supposed to be about the yummy apple crisp that I made last weekend, but I got to thinking about making spikes.  This is something I have enjoyed doing.

First I made this one:

This spikey border was designed in EQ I think 4 as it's been a while.  It is a small piece and I was able to print the borders out on legal size paper for the paper piecing.  The compass corners were paper pieced, too.

Next I made this one in honor of 9-11, the border was based on New York Beauty.

Since this one was larger, it was drawn by hand using a compass, rulers, etc.  It had to be drawn twice and then cut apart before it was paper pieced.  It was a bit more challenging than the first one because of the curves.

The next one started as a doodle.  We were living in an area that was affected twice while were there by hurricanes and we were only there 4 years!  And it's pretty far inland!  Those winds were fierce!

Since the doodle was pretty small, it was put on a transparency and projected so that I could draw all the shapes.  Yep, even more challenging, both to get all the parts drawn right and to piece all those odd curves!  In the upper right corner there are two green pieces where I grabbed the wrong hand dyed green fabric.  Unfortunately by the time I realized it, it was way too late to go back a fix it without a LOT of trouble.  I decided it didn't bother me that much.

Here is a closeup of the spikes in this one called "Eye of the Storm".

The latest one I did is just one border on a quilt that is a surprise for someone.  All I did was the spikey border.  Other parts will be added before it is given to the recipient at a later date.

The real challenge on this one was NOT the piecing.  That was a piece of cake.  It was finding just the right background in the not quite purple, not quite blue to go with the center of the quilt.  The center was made by another individual.  Believe me I have an absolute TON of fabric in my stash and not even one that would work!  Actually, I take that back, I did have one, but it was less than a fat quarter and I needed more than that.

So, do you do spikey's? 

 Do you LIKE spikeys? 

 Would you like a tutorial on designing and sewing spikeys? 

 I'm thinking of doing one the next time I get a day off.  I haven't had one lately which makes me sad since I haven't had much sewing time -- actually almost none.  I did do a bit of hand stitching last week in the car, but that is it!

Let me know if you are interested in a tutorial on spikey's OK?

Until next time,
Keep on quilting!