Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yay for Orange Marmalade!

Thanks to Barefoot Contessa I have successfully made orange marmalade.  On Monday she made it on her show and I was so intrigued that I had to try it.  Other than the sheer time it takes to make the marmalade, it was actually quite simple.  The recipe is as follows:



4 large seedless oranges
2 lemons
8 cups of sugar

Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices and discard any seeds.  Place the fruit slices and their juices into a stainless steel pot and add 8 cups of water.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often.  Next remove from heat and stir in the sugar till it dissolves.  Cover and allow to stand over night at room temperature (8 to 12 hours).

The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours.  Turn the heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.  Skim off any foam that forms on the top.  Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  If you want to be doubly sure its ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate until its cool not cold.  If it's firm (neither runny or hard) then it's done.  If it's too runny continue cooking and if it's too hard, add more water.

It will be a golden orange color.  Pour the marmalade into clean, hot mason jars.  Wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids.  Store in the pantry for up to one year.

Well that's the recipe as its written at foodnetwork.com.  I used 1/2 pint jars and was able to fill eight.  I'm not so sure about the storing in the pantry without really canning them but then what do I know.  This was my first time.

During the long cooking  (and waiting) time I spent some more time sewing more diamonds.  I went through my stash for setting fabric and borders and hit the jackpot.  I can't wait to finish this one.  Hopefully by the weekend.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Look What Santa Brought (sorta)

...a HQ16 ProStitcher! 

 

For the past couple of years my DH has been mulling over the idea of learning to longarm quilt so when he retires he can have an extra income.  Well that is not for a long time.  But recently we were offered an opportunity to purchase this machine for a VERY good price.  It had only been used three times and it came with the ProStitcher which is a computerized quilting unit that'll do the quilting for you.  It's a great little machine.  My only criticism is the rollers.  They're pretty skinny and bendy.  We're looking at buying a better frame for it and in the mean time are putting dowels in the existing bars to minimize the bending.

We've had it for about a month now.  DH has quilted four quilts already.  He hasn't tried out the ProStitcher yet but he's not far off from doing it.  Me?  I've quilted none.  I have too many other things I want to to do.  Standing at the longarm just isn't one of the them.

Yesterday I spent the day in my room playing with 60 degree diamonds I cut from a batik jelly roll. 



I still have 12 sets to sew then I'll decide what to do with them.  For now I'm just enjoying looking at them on the design wall.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Still Snowing

Three hours later, its still snowing and looks like this outside.



The winds are gusting like crazy outside.  The Weather Channel says gusts from 20 to 30 mph winds. Its expected to continue snowing till at least 9 pm so it looks like we'll be having a white Christmas afterall.

It's Snowing in Texas!

Yesterday it was in the high 60's and today its snowing with a Winter Weather Advisory!  Go figure.  The unfortunate part is nothing is sticking which is a shame 'cause I would love a white Christmas.

Here is a picture from my back patio...palm trees and snow.  You gotta love it.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

My How Time Flies

I can't believe I haven't blogged in over a month.  Well yeah I can.  I've super busy since before the holidays started last month.  What have I been doing?

- I cooked for 12 for Thanksgiving...a long yet wonderful day.

- I baked DOZENS of cookies for 12 of my husband's coworkers. 

- I baked and decorated DOZENS of cut out cookies for the first time.  They were for a cookie exchange party of which I won a prize for the best decorated cookies.  Each cookie was decorated differently (minus the gingerbread men).  The stars, hearts, etc. were chocolated flavored cookies.  It was a lot of fun (and work) to make them.  I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon.



- I've been working on several quilt projects.  Here are pictures of my few works in progress.





- Finally, I've been making handmade ornaments...hand embroidered and salt dough for an ornament exchange tomorrow night.  I still have a ways to go with the sald dough ornaments.  After they've dried, I'll add glitter and paint to the plain ones and finally spray them with a sealant so they'll last a long time and be protected.







That's all for now.  I'll post a picture tomorrow of the finished dough ornaments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WIP

About a week and a half before the quilt show I started on the quilt below.  I've been wanting to make this quilt for more than a year now.  It is called Spider Web from the book Big Book of Scrap Quilts by Oxmoor House. 


It has approximately 210 different fabrics in it.  Each flying geese finishes at 1 1/4" x 2 1/2".  I still have a long ways to go.  All the geese are made but I still need to complete the half blocks that go around the edges and 45 degree diamond stars for the centers where the geese come together. 

At the moment I've had to stop working on this quilt to complete a class sample.  I'm hoping to get back to the quilt with the next couple of weeks.  I can't wait to get back to it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


What a show!

Tired is an understatement!  But it was worth it.  We had a great quilt show...a record breaking quilt show in fact.  Even though this was only the guild's 6th show, it was definately they're most profitable to date.  People flowed in from all over the area to see our little show.  Here are a few of the quilts they saw.









I am happy to announce my little teacup quilt won a 1st Place ribbon in its category!  I'll be taking it back to the quilt shop this week where they'll be displaying the quilt with its blue ribbon.

Well I'm off to go relax before quilt bee tonight.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just Breathe

Life is way too hectic right now.  I'm not sure I've mentioned this before but for the past two years I've been co-chairing our guild's next quilt show which is coming up this weekend.  It's been a long process...lots of planning and doing. 

The past few weeks have been crazy busy.  Checking and rechecking everything to make sure nothing has been missed.  I've 99.9% of the written materials for this show...from the letters inviting vendors to the entry forms to the programs and everything else in between.  Lately I've been busy writing the program that will be handed out.  Then printing and putting together 500 copies.  My friend Donna came by one day and helped me staple them all together.

On top of all that I've been teaching also.  Teaching is a nice break from all the quilt show stuff.  Its time I can just relax and engage in the activity I love the most, quilting.  If you had told me twelve years ago when I started quilting that one day I'd be teaching others how to do it, I would have to you that you're crazy.  I used to be horribly shy in front of strangers.  Shoot I barely passed speech class in high school with a D- because I was so shy and couldn't talk in front of others.  I guess with age comes confidence and knowing what you're doing doesn't hurt either.

Anyway, I'm rambling.  One more class this morning and then its all quilt show till the end of the weekend.  I will try to take some pictures this weekend and post them on Monday.  And by Monday I'll be free to go back to doing whatever I want.  I'm thinking some hand embroidering and quilting is in order (and desperately needed)...in pajamas.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Photography Day

Today I spent the afternoon at my favorite place...Fossil Rim Wildlife Preserve.  I needed a break from everything and wanted to do something fun.  The weather was perfect...overcast...and its mating season for the European Red Deer and few of the others I suspect from the behaviors I saw today.

Here are some of the almost 200 photographs I took today.  These are raw and unedited minus a little cropping.  When I get some free time I'll do some cropping and color editing.  I think most of the animal names are correct but don't quote me.


White-Tailed Deer


Fallow Deer


Fallow Deer


European Red Deer Bugling


European Red Deer


White-Tailed Deer


White-Tailed Deer


Hartmann's Zebra


Hartmann's Zebra



Grant's Zebra

I am beginning to think that I may have to start another blog for just my photography.  Don't you agree?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Silence

The cicadas are finally silent.  They must have finished what they were born to do.  For the past few weeks I have listening to their loud and constant chirping outside every window in my house.  I was just reading that their chirps can reach 120 decibels.  That's loud. 

Most of the time you can't see them up in the tree but the other day I managed to get a few photos of the ugly little bugs.  They were about 2 to 2 1/2" long and fat looking.  I was surpised by their rusty orange color.  I guess I expected them to just be brown and camoflauged into the tree.




There's some really cool information about them on Wikipedia which I won't go into but here are a few interesting facts.  The life cycle of a southern cicada is 13 years.  They begin as an egg laid in the barch of a tree twig.  From there, they hatch and drop to the ground, burrowing into the earth up to 8 1/2 feet.  In 13 years they come up out of the ground, mate, and die a short time later.

Wow!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Sewing Challenge

For the past couple of months I have following the blogs of several EXTREMELY talented Australian quilt designers.  Jenny of Elefantz posted a sewing challenge on her blog to make a sewing mat for under your sewing machine.  From the people that make one and post a photo in their blog will have a chance to win a secret prize.

Well here is mine.  It was incredibly easy to make...and come on how useful a little tool is this!  No more searching around your work area for your scissors and other notions!  The front pockets of mine are paper pieced.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Silent Auction

Last night I finished quilting and binding the little wallhanging below for the upcoming quilt show.  It measures 14" x 14".  The embroidery pattern is from Shadow Redwork by Alex Anderson.  On it says "Love binds everything together". 



I like it so much I may have to bid on it just to keep it for myself.

I have some other projects that'll be put into the auction but they're not quite finished yet...but I'm getting there.  Too much to do and not enough time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goings on...

For the past two years I've been planning (with many others) our guild's 2009 quilt show.  The past few weeks things have really been picking up and I've been busier than ever. 

Through all this I've been trying to fit in a few things for myself.  A week or so ago I finished this little quilt.  The pieced blocks were made from a charm pack of Civil War prints that I was given.  The blocks had been sitting around for months and months and I could never figure out what to do with them.  Shopping for another project I came across the border fabric and inspiration to set the blocks came.  I am pretty happy with the results.  Sometimes simple is best.



For the past couple of months I've been heavy into embroidery.  The fairy will be a Christmas gift for my mother.  The flowers will be for a journal cover.  I don't know yet what I am going to do with the pumpkin girl, mermaid, and the good luck saying.  They'll probably become pillows or wallhangings at some point.  The snowman is one block from Crabapple Hill Studio's pattern "Snowmen A to Zzzz."  I'm taking my time on the snowman quilt.  I have all the blocks traced out and just need to do the embroidery now.  I know I'll never have it done by Christmas but am pretty confident that I'll have it done by February or March.  *fingers crossed*



This past Saturday I went to a quilt show and came home with some great patterns!  Yeah yeah yeah...I know I need another pattern like I need another hole in my head but I really couldn't help myself.  I can't wait for the chance to start on them.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cookies...anyone?!

Yesterday I spent the morning baking. I came across a white chocolate macadamia nut recipe months ago and I have been slowly tweaking it to my own tastes. While my husband loves macadamia nuts, we DO live in Texas. And in the south its all about the pecan. So I replaced the macadamias with pecans and added a few other ingredients. I think they are probably the second best thing I make that my husband loves (after my Dulce de Leche Gelatto).

So here is my recipe for what I call White Chocolate Pecan Delights.

4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups softened butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (I like using Double Strength Vanilla for a really strong flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1 - 10 oz package white chocolate chips
1 - 10 oz package toffee bits
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut

1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat butter, sugars, and egg until fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients.
3. Stir in chips, toffee bits, nuts, and coconut.
4. Chill dough for an hour or two till the dough firms up.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit.
6. Drop dough onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper using a small scooper (2 Tbsp size).
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. (I find it takes 10 minutes but ovens will vary)

Recipe is a double batch and makes several dozen cookies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WIPs, UFOs, and Time

Do you ever feel bogged down and overwhelmed by your projects?

Last weekend I went to a quilters retreat which was absolutely wonderful! There were about 35 of us who attended. We ate and laughed and even managed to do a bit of quilting.

Anyways...the week before retreat I spent my time trying to figure out what I wanted to work on while I was there. Within a few days I had pulled out more than a dozen projects I wanted to work on...at least half of them were brand new projects while the other half were pulled from my ever growing WIP (work in progress) and UFO (unfinished objects) piles.

I have come to the conclusion that I must have a quilter's version of ADD. I see something I like and then decide to do it. I start the project and then I see something else I like and decide I want to start that. Do you see a pattern? This is not to say that I don't complete things. Because I complete a lot. When I teach a class, I have to make a sample quilt for it and I schedule maybe a dozen classes a year so those ones get done. But somehow when its just for ME, I lack the focus to stick with a project from start to finish.

Another I have come to realize is if I did one quilt from every book I own and a quilt from every pattern I own, it would take me several lifetimes to complete them.

I want to be a FINISHER, not a starter! So as of today I vow that for every new project I start, I must complete two WIPs or UFOs first. If I cannot motivate myself to complete a particular UFO, I will pass it on to someone who will. ( Watch out Donna!)

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Bag!

Last week's bag was so much fun to make that I made another one yesterday and have a third one almost complete. I gave the first bag to a wonderful quilting friend of mine named Mazelle. She turns 75 at the end of this month. She is one of the neatest ladies I've ever known and has sort of become my second mom.


Oh...also last week I learned how to make Cathedral Windows. That was really cool! Mazelle showed me the basics. I love handwork so this should be fun. I haven't gotten to the adding the color squares yet but hopefully at retreat I will get the chance.

I have tons of other projects I want to work on right now but I'm saving them for a quilt retreat I am attending this month. I know I'll never finish all the projects I'm taking but maybe I'll at least make some progress on each of them.

Last Friday afternoon I picked fabrics for the Portobello Market quilt. Since the original fabrics cannot be ordered again, I have chosen some wonderful reproduction prints. I can't wait to return from retreat and begin working on it. As soon as I can finish it, classes will be scheduled.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes...


...the simplest projects are the most fun! I had been planning to do the bag pictured above at a quilt retreat coming up in a couple of weeks. But Tuesday afternoon after finishing the Double Circle quilt top I decided I wanted to do something fun. So I decided the bag couldn't wait any longer. From start to finish it took maybe five or six hours.
The bag measures 14" wide x 11" tall. The patten came from the August 2007 issue of McCall's Quilting. It was made from one charm pack, a yard of lining fabric, and some pellon fleece. The original pattern did not have an inside pocket. I took 6 leftover charm squares and constructed them in the same manner as I did for the other parts of the bag.