Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of Year Giveaway

In honor of the lovely friends who comment so kindly on my blog, I am sharing part of my Christmas bounty with one of you. I am giving away a six-piece fat quarter bundle of Sweet As Honey by Bonnie Christine, a mini-charm pack of Prairie by Corey Yoder, and Rebecca Bryan's book: Modern Rainbow - 14 Imaginative Quilts That Play with Color.

Prairie, according to creator Corey Yoder, features "warm, sherbert-y colors with small scale patterns". The mini charm pack contains 42 - 2.5" squares. I love all these colors together!

Bonnie Christine's Sweet as Honey has "tones of powdery umber, sun-kissed tangerine and corals, and hints of leafy green and sky-blue". The bee and honey-themed prints are so cute!

I LOVE Modern Rainbow (I received two copies for Christmas!). I love rainbow quilts and gradated color quilts, and this book offers both for me. It has beautiful eye candy and clear, step-by-step illustrated instructions. So far I want to make every quilt in the book.

If you'd like to be the recipient of these goodies, just comment below - nothing else is necessary! Giveaway will be open until January 7, 2016, and I will announce the winner by separate post on January 8.

A big thank you to all of you who have visited and commented on my little blog. I feel that I know you and would welcome the opportunity to meet you in person. Your support and friendship have encouraged me more than you'll ever know. I wish all of you a productive, peaceful, happy, and healthy 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jingle Bell Rock Quilt - Completed!

One year after starting this Jingle Bell Rock quilt, it is finally completed. I thought I was going to finish it for Christmas 2014, but I ended up putting it in the closet for Christmas 2015. I'm only a few days late!

As I posted about it here and here, I just had to make this pattern because of the name. Jingle Bell Rock is the song my husband and I roller-skated to (yes really!) on our first date on December 17, 1962, and it has become our Christmas song. This quilt is in honor of that long-ago night.

The back is an adaptation of Crazy Mom Quilts Mini Trees Quilt with simple strips of color representing a Christmas tree. I drew the design on graph paper, did the math, and somehow got it right - it was fun! Dimensions ended up at 57" x 68".

I completed sandwiching the layers in December last year and started the quilting, but I put it away because I knew I couldn't finish it in time for Christmas. When I got it out recently to finish quilting it, it was a case of "what was I thinking?" I had started diagonal quilting on each block, and now that seems like way too much diagonal. I wish I had quilted each block in opposite diagonals instead, to add more interest.

But I'm pleased with the way the quilting looks on the back, and overall I like the result. This is first Christmas quilt I've made and kept and is the start of a collection I hope to add to every year!

Because of the riot of colors in this pattern, I was able to pull from a variety of stash and scraps and not limited to Christmas fabrics. Binding is from Sweetwater's Elementary collection, blue and white striped inside border is from Nancy Halvorsen's Curiosities, and outside green border with birdies is from Ann Kelle's Jingle collection.

I have a weakness for Christmas fabrics, and I might have asked Santa to bring yardage from Riley Blake's Postcards for Santa collection (love it!) and a few dark green Christmas fabrics.

Linking this week to Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Helen's Danish Kringle

This post is a repeat of one I made on an old blog in 2008. I am re-posting it here because I love the story as well as the Kringle. The 7 year old photo is not the best, but if you try this I promise you will love not only the aroma white it is baking but also the tender goodness of this holiday treat.

I grew up in a small town in northeastern Oklahoma, and during the Christmas season neighbors that lived on our country road brought the best Christmas gifts to us. No one called before they came (and no one cared back in those days!), and there was much fuss and laughter when folks arrived (always at the back door) with their delicious pound cakes, old-fashioned fruitcake cookies, and divinity and fudge delivered on foil-lined box lids or doily-covered paper plates.

The back yard of the farm where I grew up

My home economics teacher Helen was one of our neighbors, and every year we looked forward to her unique Christmas offering - a slightly sweet yeast dough with a brown sugar and nut filling that she called Danish Kringle (a very exotic sounding name to us!). Helen's visit was the most anticipated of the year.

When Helen came, although we enjoyed her company we had to hide our impatience for her to leave, politely making small talk while trying not to drool from the enticing yeasty aroma emanating from her Kringle. Her car would barely be out of the driveway before we started cutting into the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the still-warm pastry.

After I got married, I tried in vain to duplicate her recipe. Finally I wrote her asking (begging) for the recipe, and she graciously sent it to me. From that handwritten recipe, I have recreated this warm culinary Christmas memory every year. Here is her recipe as she wrote it, with my notes in italics.

Helen's Danish Kringle
2 cups sifted flour
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft shortening (part butter or margarine) (soft shortening is a mix of shortening and butter)
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 F)
1 pkg active dry yeast

Measure flour, sugar, salt and shortening/butter into bowl; blend well (I use a pastry cutter to blend). Cool milk slightly, then stir in egg yolk. Pour into bowl with first ingredients. Add yeast to warm water and let stand a few minutes. Add to all other ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl (it will be very soft). Cover tightly and chill 2 to not more than 48 hours in refrigerator.

Prepare fillings before shaping Kringles. Divide dough into two parts. Take out one and return other half to refrigerator. Beat egg white. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 6 inch X 18 inch rectangle. Spread 3" center stripe with half of beaten egg white, then carefully spread with half of filling. Fold over one side of dough and then the other with 1-1/2 inch lap to cover filling. Pinch dough to close the fold.

Pick up Kringle carefully (it is very tender) and arrange, seam-side down, on baking sheet (I use parchment paper on the baking sheets) in oval or horseshoe shape, pinching ends for the latter. Shape second Kringle as first. Cover and let rise in warm place 30-45 min, or until dent remains when finger is pressed gently on side of dough and dough is no longer cold. (Dough will not double.)

Bake in moderately hot oven (400 F) for 20-30 min or until golden brown. (There may be some seepage of the filling - when it comes out of the oven just scrape it back under the dough.)

Spread with powdered sugar icing while hot. (I blend powdered sugar with a tiny pinch of salt and thin it to pouring consistency with milk and vanilla.) Cut in wedges to serve. Makes about 2 dozen servings or 2 Kringles.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup finely chopped or ground nuts
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then sprinkle with nuts.

Apple Pecan (I have never tried this one)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup finely chopped apples
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Sprinkle sugar, then apples and pecans

Friday, December 18, 2015

Little Joys Quilt Completed

I started this little Christmas quilt as a quilt-along back in July. Yes, life and distractions ensued, but better late than never!

I finished quilting last night, sewed the binding on this morning, and immediately boxed it up and mailed it to my sister-in-law, before I could fall in love with it and keep it like I did this one that was intended for her!

Each of the three designs - Christmas tree, wreath, and gift - was pieced from scraps. I enjoyed quilting a different design on each block. For piecing and quilting, I used Superior Threads So Fine 50 weight Genoa Gray (my favorite thread for everything), and for quilting the sashing I used metallic 40 weight in Raspberry.

The back was pieced with fabric from Basic Grey's Blitzen collection and an pretty white solid.

I had sewn a pieced binding early on, but last night I decided to use a fun print from Riley Blake's Postcards for Santa collection instead. I love the dots!

I'm linking this to Crazy Woman Quilts Finish It Up Friday and on Sunday to Quilting is More Fun Than Housework's Oh Scrap!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas in the Canyon Table Topper - A Gradient Quilt

Cindy of Live a Colorful Life recently blogged about a quilt that absolutely captured my imagination. She named it Christmas in the City, and it is gorgeous! I have reread her post and gazed at that quilt dozens of times {stalking!} Click on the picture of her quilt below to read her fascinating post on how it was made. She made blocks from Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 modern blocks (I bought my own this week!)

Cindy's Quilt - Click on it to read her post!

I love the gradient style of the colors in her masterful arrangement and was inspired to try that method myself.

A table top seemed the perfect size to experiment with the gradient style. Although Cindy's quilt is composed of sampler blocks, mine is a simple block design. I had a long-saved Christmas-themed mini charm pack that I combined with low volume creams and off-whites. I positioned and re-positioned until I had an arrangement similar to Cindy's. I matched the pieced border to the color arrangement and added a dark red binding.

The result of the color composition reminds me of a river flowing through a canyon, so I quilted curvy lines with a metallic variegated thread on the "river" portion and straight lines with regular thread for the low volume "canyon sides".

I love the fabrics in this little mini quilt. Sadly I can no longer identify many of them. My favorite was a dark red with off-white snowflakes

I do still have the selvage on the backing, and it is Tonal Cream from Minick & Simpson's Lexington collection for Moda

Now for my shameful confession: I started this mini quilt with every intention of sending it to my sister-in-law for Christmas. But when I put it on my kitchen table this morning to photograph it with my Christmas glass, I knew it would never leave the house. I will (finally) finish quilting the Little Joys quilt for her (post to follow later this week), and she'll never know the difference.

Now I want to make more gradient quilts in different colors!

Friday, December 4, 2015

In Memoriam: San Bernardino Victims

Robert Adams

Isaac Amanios

Bennetta Bet-Badal

Harry Bowman

Sierra Clayborn

Juan Espinoza

Aurora Godoy

Shannon Johnson

Daniel Kaufman

Damian Meins

Tin Nguyen

Nicholas Thalasinos

Yvette Velasco

Michael Wetzel

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Baby Girl Quilt

A few weeks ago my daughter and son-in-law drove from the Dallas area for a weekend, and presented my husband and me with a gift bag containing this little item. After about five seconds of "oh that's cute" then "wait, does this mean...?", we both started crying tears of joy! It was totally unexpected and very welcome news. "Baby Divided" on the onesie represents their universities - University of Oklahoma (hers) and Texas Tech (his). As of today she is 21 weeks pregnant and due in April, and they recently shared the news that it is a baby girl!

Our daughter and son-in-law with T-shirts that tell the story.

I had dreamed about what kind of quilt she would like and was prepared to show her many ideas, but she chose simple blocks with fabrics she loved. Most of the fabrics are organic, and all of them are gorgeous.

I am in love with the backing she chose - Pat Bravo's Ditsy Radiance from the Nouvelle collection. I included a few blocks of it on the front of the quilt to add much-needed low volume.

She loves birdies and was delighted to see them on these Birch organics.

The squares are 4-1/2 inches, and the finished size is 36 x 45.

She wanted a quilt like one she found and loved on Etsy, so I researched the fabrics and identified all of them. Only one was discontinued, and I couldn't find it anywhere. She chose Art Gallery's Bunny Binkies Funk Metallic as a substitute, and she loves the bunnies.

I marked the center of each block, made a little "orange peel" template, and painstakingly quilted orange peels with my walking foot. I love how they look on the back. The binding is Pat Bravo's Hypnotic Paramour in Rose.

They were here again the day after Thanksgiving and I finished the quilt the day before they arrived. She left it with me because she wants my label on it. I will update with a picture of her with her quilt when she returns at Christmas.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Harvest Button Napkin Rings

Sometimes when I'm in my closet gazing at fabric, I glance over at my yarn stash and feel sorry for the yarns waiting for the projects for which they were intended. This week I decided to get moving with these harvest button napkin rings (free pattern by Jennifer Dickerson). Measuring about 2" x 6" and stitched with a "K" (6.5 mm) hook, they come together quickly and utilize half double crochet stitches. Just add a button to finish.

From my stash I chose Vanna's Choice (Lion Brand) yarn in the harvest colors of rust, beige, mustard, honey, chocolate, and purple.

My crochet muscles are a bit unpracticed, but I really enjoyed the familiar rhythm of crocheting while I watched TV.

For the buttons I Modge-Podged bits of fussy-cut fabric onto plain buttons (the cutting wasn't too fussy - I think a ragged edge looks cute) and let them dry overnight. I used a tapestry needle and wiggled it around slightly to open up the holes through the hardened fabric. Then I secured the buttons to the rings with a needle threaded with matching yarn.

These are a gift for a friend -I hope they arrive in time for Thanksgiving!

Here is an excellent video on how to make these napkin rings!