Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PHd progress and steppin' out of my box into The Salt Box

In December I mentioned that I was going to be working on my PhD (Projects half Done) this year and I am happy to report that some are completed and others close enough to see the finish line. They range from pot holders to a queen sized quilt top. The potholders were made to use up stray blocks and practice my machine quilting. I only have one  pot holder because the other was given as a gift in our Secret Sister exchange at retreat.
Please keep in mind that this was done about 8 years ago when I got my new Janome 6260 (which is now my old machine) and instead of starting out with a simple grid pattern to teach myself machine quilting I thought I would just try a "simple" feather design. Boy did I have a lot to learn! I finished the quilting part of it and was less than thrilled and it was relegated to a basket of unfinished projects. I had a friend visiting me this winter who encouraged me to get some of that stuff out of my basket, so I bound and finished them and something as simple as finishing those 2 pot holders spurred me onto the next project, so gradually I am pecking away at them. 

You may remember seeing this on my design wall a ways back; well it is finally finished (not quite to what I had planned) and as soon as I finish piecing the left over fabrics into the backing it will be off to the long armer to do her magic.

After that, a simple binding and this puppy is ready for the bed at the cottage.
I have finished all the top stitching on this wall hanging and it is now ready to sandwich and quilt...

While Mr. O was away in San Antonio Texas on business 2 weeks ago he did a bit of site seeing and shopping. He visited a little shop called Las Colchas





After spending considerable time browsing the shop he decided I would like the fabrics in this quilt and bought me the kit to complete a Queen sized quilt. He also bought me a lovely needlework magazine. What a guy!
Although the pattern is more modern and a bit outside the box that I tend to work in, I do love the fabric! It is Salt Box harvest by Deb Strain.
Last week I cut all the "bricks" for my Autumn Bricks quilt 
and last night after supper dishes were done I cut the connecting strips and thought I would assemble one row; just to see what it would look like...sometime after 1 a.m. this is what was on my design wall.
5 Rows completed and just 7 more to go! Sashing strips between the rows and this puppy will be off to the long armer too!
Yesterday Linda  said if it's chocolate, she wants the recipe...so Linda this is for you!

Easy Chocolate Ganache

2 cups (half a large bowl) of Cool Whip
6 squares of Bakers Chocolate

Microwave the frozen whipped topping and chocolate in a medium microwaveable bowl on High for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute and then stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is shiny and smooth. Dip the tops of your cupcakes and your done! Makes about 1 1/2 cups and is easily doubled.** I used the whole bowl of whipped topping and 8 squares of chocolate for my cupcakes but had a lot left over. Would be good for a double layer cake.  Enjoy

"I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?" 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TIME WITH GRANNY AND CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

I am going away for a bit of a mini vacation in less than 48 hours so I really had a long list of things that needed doing, but I felt the need to spend time with Granny. For awhile now I have been seeing posts about a Granny Square Quilt Along that was posted at the Old Red Barn . The tutorial is courtesy of Blue Elephant Stitches . She has a fresh, bright and colourful approach to quilting. Today I decided I could not take it anymore, I needed To make a Granny Square for myself.



I thought I would do a practice run with some of my stash. Many years ago at retreat I had won a jelly roll of neutrals and had never found the right project for them, so today I dug them out to audition for background fabric for ONE  block.

They are addictive little things and before long I had 4 blocks sitting on my table and had left a mess in my wake but look how pretty they are!

I a a sucker for scrappy quilts and this one just called out to me. My original intention was to try a block with a black background, because my favourite crocheted granny afghan has a black background so if it works with yarn it should work with fabric. I got sidetracked though and the black block did not get made. Another day...
On Friday past. Mr. O and I were invited to a children's puppet theatre production as part of their home schooling program;  I was asked to bring a cake, but decided that cupcakes were easier to serve and would probably be a bigger hit with the kids andI was right...both big and small kids gobbled them up. They were home made chocolate cupcakes with Chocolate ganache frosting topped with a Cadbury egg. Have a look...




The choc. frosting recipe in the book is yummy too but if you want the Quick and Easy Ganache recipe I can post that later.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

THE TALE OF TWO SCHNIBBLES

Once upon a time, long long ago in a land of ice and snow there were 2 quilters who read a host of quilting blogs and absolutely loved to follow all the postings about "Miss Rosie's" quilt patterns; especially the little Schnibbles. Along with being a wilderness land of much ice and snow, it was also devoid of local quilting stores...a barren wasteland when it came to quilt stores. Many times when these 2 quilting friends got together they expressed their wish of being able to join in the Year of Schnibbles that all the other bloggers and quilters were taking part in, but alas it was not to be. A whole year passed and these friends looked wistfully on.

Time passed and with the dawning of a new year Sherri and Sinta introduced Another year of Schnibbles, but still no patterns were to be found in the land of ice and snow. One day they decided that no matter how dangerous, they were going to venture out to lands unknown and try to hunt down the famous Schnibbles. After travelling many many miles they found someone who was going to help them capture the shy and elusive Schnibbles



...and although it took many moons to actually achieve success the Schnibbles quietly found their way to the land of ice and snow.  At first glance this particular species of Schnibbles did not seem to be particularly enticing to the lady quilters however the quilters were so excited to finally have all the tools needed to be able to take part in the coveted quilt along they wasted no time in getting started.

Lady Wendy's prince was to be away in a far off land for several days and so she invited the Dutchess Glenda and  Marchionness Sue and together they made plans to gather all that was needed and embark on a quilting adventure. The ladies arrived at the home of Lady W's bearing gifts of food and flowers in honour of the celebration.

(unfortunately the photographer arrived too late to capture a shot of the yummy maple crusted walnuts and so all that is left to show you are crumbs)


Fabrics were chosen and the sound of laughter and sewing machines was to be heard in the Manor for many hours.
After much fun, food and friendship the Lady quilters had 2 Schnibbles trophy banners to proudly display in the Kingdom of Ice and Snow. ( ** It must be noted here that although this species of Schnibbles would not have been a first choice to the lady quilters, both quilters were so pleased with the final results that it has been rumoured that they may have another planned for a later date!)






  T for Triumphant! 

Schnibbles Bibelot...Long may they reign!








I am told that over time it is expected that the land of ice and snow will evolve to a beautiful country where birds will sing, flowers will bloom and the rare Schnibbles will be found in every hamlet and the quilters will stitch happily ever after. 

(Hey! This is a fairy tale and a lady can always dream!)

THE END

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'LL SHOW YOU MINE; YOU SHOW ME YOURS...a challenge for you!

Yesterday Nicole posted about what was on her work table. I won't tell you all about it; you can go read about it. This morning when I got up and read Carrie's blog it was referring back to Nicole's blog and then Carrie showed us her space.

 Both blogs were very well written and illustrated and because I enjoyed both posts so much I got to thinking that I can't be the only person who is curious about everyone else's tools and set up...so, I am going to show you mine and challenge you to post about yours. If you don't have a blog, then maybe you can leave a comment and tell me about your "nest".

I say nest because that is what I often refer to my "space", wherever I happen to be. If I am in my chair in the living-room, I have my cozy things around me...my shawl, my knitting or handwork, a coaster for my cup of coffee, usually not too far away is a picture or two of some of my loved ones. When I get into bed at night, I get myself cosy under the covers, my pillow fluffed, my light positioned just right for reading; if we are travelling, I have a tote at my feet with some handwork, my "tools" resting in a little cubby on the dash in front of me, and a book or magazine in the pouch on the door, usually a bottle of water...make my nest (so to speak).

Well the same is true of my quilting area. The job just seems so much easier if the things you need are handy. Having to get up every time you need something just slows down the creative process.
Just to the right of my sewing machine I have a rolling cart with a basket on top. I have a chest of drawers for each side of my machine that match my sewing table and that  actually are made to go there; one is in place on my left and nests under the table but the one for the right side just doesn't fit there in my new set-up, so I have had to place it elsewhere and improvise. I tried working with no extended surface on my right side, but I was constantly in a mess and looking for stuff. I needed to have my thread catcher and pin cushion handy, so I have set things up like this and hope it works better for me.
I have a large basket to "corral" all the smaller containers. It seems less messy that way.

In my basket? Bobbins in a holder, an assortment of needles in a little divided container, a white tin of band aids, 2 blue recycled tea tins hide my push pins and elastics for the bulletin board above. The little green box holds some quilter's hand cream and a few stray objects. A little dessert dish holds pkgs. of sewing machine needles as well as my used/bent needle container. My scissors are standing in a stainless and ceramic toothbrush holder. Works great for me! A small 2 handled antique porcelain bowl holds my favourite straight pins, at the very back of the basket, there is a letter/paper holder from an office supply store. In it; patterns,  my sewing machine manual, pens, pencils and markers and in another slot my machine quilting gloves and a pair of lighted magnifying glasses. I am sure you have spotted the snacks; a coffee crisp chocolate bar, a few hard candies and a bottle of Perrier.  

There are also a couple of orphaned sugar dishes I purchased from an op shop or flea market/garage sale. One small one holds an assortment of rippers (just in case..) and another larger one houses my long stemmed paint brush for cleaning my machine (those little ones that come with the sewing tool kit just don't do the job!) a couple of bone folders that Mr. O made for me out in the workshop, a small magnifying glass, tweezers, an emery board, a few cotton swabs for oiling and cleaning my machine, and my 1x6 ruler. The long brown wooden handle with the shiny thing is made from rosewood with a magnet on top for picking up pins and needles when necessary and that purple thing; well it is called a "Purple Thang"  If you don't have one, go get one!  
You will be amazed at how easy this tool will make your projects! It pushes pulls and pokes. Every quilter, crafter or seamstress needs one of these. Made of heavy plastic. You can thread a ribbon thru the slot and wear it around your neck!

I have a basket on my cutting table too. Rotary cutters, extra blades, a blade sharpener, paper scissors, a Gypsy cutter for separating chain pieced blocks and a scrap bin.

Beside my chair where I hand stitch there are a few more items. A woollen pin cushion, scissors, thread, needles, thimble and finger cots etc.
See what I mean about making my "nest"? I am not called a "rare bird" for nothing.

Speaking of birds ... 



I looked out my very dirty kitchen window today while making lunch and there was a flock of blue jays at the feeders. I counted 12 hungry jays between the 2 feeders. If you want a laugh just click on this last pic of the jays. Some of them are having a "bad hair day"

p.s I will waiting to see what you think necessary for your nest!




Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apologies, Brownies, and Catching Up...

First of all I owe someone an apology. Over 2 weeks ago while I was traipsing around the Maritimes I received an award from a friend and fellow blogger. It is the Liebster Award.


I received this award from Linda at Stitch Lines
Sorry Linda that I neglected to thank you or even acknowledge this honour.
When I received this from Linda my first thought was, "Oh no, what do I have to do with this?" After a bit I started wondering just what was a Liebster award and who is Liebster anyway? So I searched a bit... and no one seems to know the origin of this blog award but it is meant to recognize and honour blogs with 200 followers or less. The word Liebster is of German origin and means "favourite, beloved, dearest". It is an award you receive, but also one you pass on...pay it forward so to speak. If you receive a Liebster Blog Award you are asked to choose 3-5 bloggers and send them one as well. It is meant to highlight small blogs, so the blogger receiving the award links back to the giver and tags 3-5 people. 
Thank you Linda  
There is no obligation to continue this award. If it is not your cup of tea, that's ok, but I am going to recognize a couple of blogs that I enjoy. 

Holly is a wonderful artist and quilter. She is always trying something new and scatters her post with lots of nature pictures and recipes.
Charlotte  is a fairly new blogger but has some wonderful purses and bowls she has been so enthusiastic over lately and I love how she puts colour together.
Sheila  has a lovely upbeat blog. She always has lots of pictures, and interest much the same as mine. We have ever met, but I am sure we would be kindred spirits.
Check them out, and be sure to say Hi.

Last night was our monthly guild meeting and it was my turn to help provide goodies for coffee break. I brought brownies and a few people expressed interest in them so I thought I would give you the recipe. 


Hershey's 5 Minute Brownies
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
* 2/3 cup of veg. oil divided
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
chopped walnuts or pecans
Stir cocoa and soda and *half of the oil in large bowl. Add boiling water. Stir till thckened. Stir in sugar, eggs and *remaining oil. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in a greased 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. **Frost and garnish with a half pecan.(optional)

**Usually I keep a can of Betty Crocker choc. icing on hand for days when I am in a hurry, but when I make my own I use this recipe.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1tsp vanilla
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. add icing sugar alternately with milk. Beat to spreading consistancy. Stir in vanilla.
Stir in a SMALL amount of additional milk if needed.


These brownies are my "go to" recipe when I need something in a hurry that is sure to please almost everyone. Can't go too far wrong with chocolate...

Last week I had a friend"sleep-over" while Mr. O was away on business. She wanted some help with a project she had put  "on hold" awhile back. I cleared my design wall and "we" spent the better part of 2 days working away at it. I use the word "we" laughingly, because "Me" came up with ideas and "She" executed them.Coming up with ideas is easy...making it happen is another thing altogether but Glenda is a master quilter and she made it look easy.
This was a tin can challenge we started a few years back. You pick a theme, make a block, and add it along with a few fabrics to a tin can and then pass your can along to your friends. The cans rotate and as you receive each can you make a block according to the owners wishes. 
We had a get together and got to open our cans a year after originally passing them off to our friends.
Glenda had requested small blocks with a cottage/cabin/woodsy theme. After she received her blocks she was so pleased with them she decided to incorporate them into a larger project. 

The canoe and one of the bears was the inspiration for this section.

One small deer, a few trees, and couple stars inspired this section.

A paper pieced pine, 3 birdhouses and 3 little birds was the kick off for this.


Angels, acorns, log cabin blocks, stars, a squirrel and a cottage came together like this...and on and on it goes until this is what is on the wall...


Coming up with ideas is easy...making it happen is another thing altogether but Glenda is a master quilter and she made it look easy. 
She left it on my wall and will be back next week to try to finish most of it.  Don't you love how it is looking? 
Well done Glenda!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blogger's BLOCK OF THE MONTH!

(Writer's block that is...)
In the 19 days since my last post I am sure I have sat in front of my computer at least a dozen times to post and ...nothing; nadda, zero, zilch. I just could not come up with any inspiration to write. There was lots of news, a few pictures, but NO words. Today is really not much different but I just decided that I would force myself. The funny thing is this; when I blog daily it makes me want to keep at it, but when I get away from blogging, it is just so hard to get back at it. Much the same as my eating and exercise regime. Boy have I bombed at that lately! Up until the retreat weekend I had 14 pounds lost. Needless to say I fell off the wagon big time. But hey it is Monday and we all know Mondays are a great day for starting over. So,(I know I shouldn't start a sentence with So, but...) let's start over. New day, new week, new goals!
What have I been doing? Let's back up a bit...
Retreat was absolutely fantastic! We have the best bunch of quilting ladies ever! We (Sue and I) had mentioned a few times that this would be our last year coordinating a "full fledged" retreat. We have 2 retreats a year and one is chocked full of activities and goodie bags and fun stuff and the other is what we call a "no frills" retreat. As you can imagine the first one takes a lot of work and planning and the other is much much less work in preparing; set up a menu with the centre, a seating plan, a room plan and collect the moneys. Done! While at retreat we get to work on our projects instead of keeping busy with retreat activities so it is more productive for us as well. The ladies are happy with having 2 "no frills" retreats a year so that is what we will do.
Because it was our last year coordinating a full retreat the girls wanted to surprise us with tokens of appreciation, and surprise us they did!
It seems every time I left my work station there was a gift there upon my return. I jokingly said to the girls that when I returned home I would be expecting Mr. O to be leaving me little gifts on my chair every time I vacated it.
These ladies were so creative and thoughtful in their gift giving; home made fudge, chocolates, cookies and jellies; soaps and creams, hand made gifts such as selvedge potholders, crocheted donut pin cushions, sewing and travel kits, gift certificates, note cards, books, ornaments and fabric, homemade laundry soap and many other things! I can safely speak for Sue as well as myself to say we felt truly humbled to be the recipients of such wonderful attention.




There were some great projects being worked on. Everything from totes to baby quilts, table toppers to queen sized quilts, bindings to borders.


auditioning borders






Some of the ladies call this their "winter vacation" and decorated their work stations accordingly. If you enlarge this picture, you might get a smile from their sign...


Great participation in the mystery project and we have a wall of fame to prove it!

Next up are random shots of the weekend.




Alice won a years subscription to Quilter's Connection magazine! (my project on the design wall in the background is all done but the final border..YAY!)




See all these chemo caps?


These three ladies devoted a large part of their retreat weekend to making them. Bravo ladies! My hat's off to you. (no pun intended.)


 The gang!

Home Sunday. Tuesday I drove to Halifax; Thursday to Moncton; home on Friday. Drove back to Moncton on Tuesday. Home Wednesday evening. Thursday and Friday and Sunday I had company...I may not have been blogging but I have not been sitting around gathering dust!





(Backup) (Backup) On The Road Again

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