Sunday, August 24, 2014

Christmas Table Topper Finished

My Christmas table topper is finally completed. I blogged about it in this post - how it was my first real project and how it got set aside and how almost four years later I rediscovered it and decided to finish it.

Besides moving twice in those four years, there were a couple other reasons I didn't finish it. Although I really liked the teacher of the beginning quilting class I took in 2010, she was a member of the "points police" and made us redo any blocks that had less than perfect points. . I never had to redo any of my piecing, because I spent hours making sure my points were perfect (although now I see some errors on my blocks). I am grateful to my teacher for instilling good "points ethics", but it created a kind of dread when I thought about finishing. And I was very nervous about quilting it, since the class did not include any quilting instruction. So it sat in a basket.

It wasn't until I started examining pictures on the blogs of experienced quilters that I realized my points did not have to be perfect and my quilting was going to look good to a non-quilter no matter how elementary it looked to me. The tide began to turn, and now I love every part of making a quilt.

I quilted with no plan, but I am pleased with the way it turned out. Each block has its own quilting pattern. The only thing I would do differently now would be to rearrange the blocks to help balance the two lighter blocks with the two darker blocks. It finished at 26-1/2 inches square.


Simple flowers and leaves and mazes

Each block quilted with different pattern

My version of the Christian symbol of the fish on the sashing

Binding is one of Moda's Fruitcake line

I toyed with the idea of donating this to our church fall market, but I think I would rather keep it as a reminder of my first class and use it for Christmas. I am linking it to Rachel's Purge-Along and to Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet.

Small Blog Meet

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

We recently ate at Macaroni Grill and enjoyed their bread with our salad. It was one of the best restaurant breads we've had. The crust was crisp without being too crunchy and the interior was pillow soft.

I found a few versions online and tried this one from To achieve a softer bread I added 2 tablespoons of milk and I ended up adding another 1/2 cup of flour to overcome stickiness. I picked fresh rosemary from my garden and snipped it right into the dough - so good.

The interior was just what I hoped it would be - tender and fluffy, but the surface was not crisp, probably because I set my convection oven a bit lower to keep the loaves from browning too fast. And after all the years I've been baking bread, I didn't pull the dough tight enough when I formed the loaves, so the crust "wrinkled" after I brushed it with butter. We didn't care and devoured one of the loaves for dinner.

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons milk
2-1/2 to 3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons butter

Place yeast, sugar, and water in large bowl and allow mixture to become bubbly. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add to mixture with salt and 2 cups flour. Add one tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary. Knead 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook 5 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.

Place dough in lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in one hour, or until doubled.

Punch dough down and divide in half, then let rest about 5 minutes. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 2 loaves. If desired, sprinkle another 1 tablespoon rosemary over loaves and press lightly into surface.

Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and brush with remaining butter; sprinkle lightly with kosher salt if desired.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Patchwork Loves Embroidery Sew-Along 2014

This is my first Sew-Along, and I am excited to add another dimension to my quilting experience. Ever since I saw the redwork quilt (see below) in American Patchwork & Quilting August 2004 issue (I saved the issue!), I have had in the back of my mind that "someday" I would add embroidery to my quilts.

Peekaboo Redwork Quilt

I saw on Christina's blog that Martina at Sunshine Quilting is hosting a Sew-Along based on the book Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Australian author Gail Pan. Although I didn't own the book, I already loved it and wanted to participate, so I purchased the Kindle version.

The SAL starts September 1 and continues until the end of October. You can make as many projects as you like and link up your blog post on Martina's blog.

Cinnamon Delights Bag

I have chosen the Cinnamon Delights Bag as my first project, using the materials in the first picture above. I hope to fill it with cinnamon chunks from Penzey's and give it to my church to sell at our Fall Market in October.

Join us - it's a chance to meet new bloggers who share your passion (addiction?)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes

I made these mini cupcakes recently for my granddaughter's birthday. I used my favorite cupcake recipe, and since she doesn't care for chocolate, this was perfect for her.

This recipe is from Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes fame. I love it because both the cake and frosting are made with strawberry puree instead of strawberry jello (although I love that recipe too). It is perfectly moist and tender with a subtle strawberry flavor.

I had enough batter to make some regular cupcakes, so my husband and I got to sample them that night.

Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes 1 dozen regular size or 24 mini cupcakes

1/3 cup strawberry puree (I use a food processor)
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup cupcake pan or 24-cup mini cupcake pan with cupcake liners; set aside. (I got 24 mini-sized plus 6 regular cupcakes.)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

Cream butter until light and fluffy; add sugar until well combined and fluffy. Whisk together egg and egg whites then add to sugar/butter mixture and mix until blended.

Add half flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Add remaining flour mixture until just blended.

Plop about 1/4 cup batter into each cupcake liner. Bake until tops are just dry to the touch, about 15-18 minutes for minis and 20 minutes for regular (depends on your oven). Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool about 10 minutes. Remove carefully to wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting
3 tablespoons strawberry puree (I do this in a food processor)
2 sticks unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
pinch of kosher salt
3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add powdered sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix well, adding sugar as needed for desired consistency.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Broken Vows - Guilty Pleasures = Fabric Love

In spite of my vow to not buy fabric for awhile, I was too tempted by these gorgeous fabrics from Stash Fabrics. They arrived yesterday, and I am smitten.

Stash Fabrics has a design wall, and I already have choices saved for my next purchase. I am in love with every Cotton + Steel fabric I've seen, so my no-fabric vow will remain broken.

L-R: Squared Elements in Citrine by AGF In-House Studio, Joking Around in Yellow by Me and My Sister, Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Mango, and Kitty Dreams

I do love the kitties on this Kitty Dreams in White by Lizzy House

Top to bottom: Triangle Tokens Voile by April Rhodes, Confetti Dot in Gray by Dear Stella. And by Cotton + Steel: Mustang in Aqua, All the States in Aqua, Tiger Stripes Canvas in Aqua (I'd like to make a tote or bag with this)

The Cotton + Steel fabrics may be my favorites

Confetti Dot in Gray by Dear Stella

I couldn't get a decent picture of Triangle Tokens Voile by April Rhodes, so I included the link to it here. It is softly sage and gauzy with the occasional metallic gold triangle. I have not sewn with voile since I was much younger and am eager to see how it does as a quilt fabric. I think it will provide a soft element and texture variation which has not been present in any of my quilts.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Here Kitty Kitty Coin Purse

Part of the fun of joining Stitched in Color's Purge-Along was finding things hidden under the mess in my closet that I had purchased for projects, and I discovered purse frames and fabric I had intended for purses. Since my youngest granddaughter turned 11 today, I decided yesterday to make her a coin purse to contain the cash we gave her. I followed the tutorial posted by Bethany on Sweet Bee Buzzings blog and it all went together in about 2 hours.

I made a little card with scrapbooking paper

The "wrapping" was a decorative take-out box I got at Hobby Lobby

The purse frame was a purchase from Etsy

The outer fabric was Michael Miller's Here Kitty Kitty

The inner fabric is from In The Beginning Fabrics

My impromptu decision meant that I didn't have everything recommended for the best results. I didn't have fusible fleece and used a piece of felt instead, and the extra thickness made sewing and turning a bit difficult. I had foam glue instead of fabric glue, but it seemed to hold well. Bethany's instructions and photos were great. I was clueless about purse-making, and I will definitely use her tutorial again.

My granddaughter was very happy with both the purse and the cash. I also made cupcakes for her, and those will be on another post.

the Purge

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Christmas Table Topper WIP

One block is quilted

My grandmothers were both quilters. One made me a doll quilt for my 8th Christmas, and the other made several quilts which are still in my possession. I always felt that I would follow in their footsteps one day, and although I'm not exactly sure why, grieving is what led me to finally pursue it.

Doll quilt made by my paternal grandmother, Hattie Eulelah "Lela" Thomas Lawhorn

Quilts made by my maternal grandmother, Minnie Elzada Turner Mitchell

A few months after my adored father died in 1982, I took my first quilting class. We learned to make a basic quilt block and how to hand quilt it. I didn't keep up with it, but I always had in the back of my mind that I would get to it someday. My sweet little Mom came to live with us in 2002, and after she passed away in September 2010 I again felt a yearning to quilt, so I took another quilting class. This time it "took". We made a table topper with four basic quilt blocks - nine-patch, rail fence, churn dash, and Ohio star. The class was in November, so I chose Christmas fabric and planned to use the finished quilt on my kitchen table. I didn't finish it then, but fast forward 4 years, and although I've finished several other quilts, I am finally quilting and finishing the first one I started.

Back of quilt

Christmas fabric - I think this was Basic Grey Fruitcake by Moda

This project has gone through two moves, and when I joined Rachael's Purge-Along, I found this in a basket during the "purge" of my sewing closet. I will finish quilting and binding and post the result here, hopefully before another four years pass.

I found a new blog this morning written by British quilter Lynne of Lily's Quilts and am excited to be linking to her Small Blog Meet. This is a "linky" party for blogs with less than 50 followers and an opportunity to meet other quilters/bloggers.

Small Blog Meet