Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Change is in The Wind

I have created two quilt tops in the last week, both are waiting for name or a home...That makes 4 quilt tops hanging around....
 The  quilt here is almost done, it is waiting for the final border......
Here it is with its border....The block is jewel box. The fabric is by Moda, called Ruby....
But here is where the change in the wind comes in.
My sewing machine and I are not agreeing anymore when it comes to quilting. It is rough and frustrating. Yet, when it just sews or embroiders there is no problem.
I have totally enjoyed free hand free motion quilting, but have started seriously looking at long arm quilting machines.
I have been eyeing them for sometime, and played with a few here and there.
But last week, when I went to the craft show in Pomona, I tried out the Bernina long arm which is a fairly new machine on the market.
I loved it...but....
I went home talked to Hubby and started measuring...
Uh oh....as Hubby said "that's buying signals"....
Yesterday, he was sweet and went with me to the shop where the Bernina is sold...and I tried out the Baby Lock Crown Jewel....
Now, when it comes to long arm quilting I am a complete novice.
I don't know squat.
But last night I found some tutorials on YouTube....very cool....
I think it is the next logical step.
I can quilt more efficiently  and for others.
No more straining my back or neck.
You do stand for this technique...but honestly, the machine does the work...you just guide it.
Some have computer programs that do all the work...literally, all you do is measure and attach the quilt.
We don't have a safe and clean garage to put a big one in, so that leaves me with an 8 ft frame...wouldn't you know there just happens to be a machine on display at that shop that needs to be sent to a new home so they can bring in the newest model??
It is seriously affordable in the grand scheme of things. And let me tell you, that is amazing!
Anyway, that means reorganizing the craft room into a full on quilting room, complete with a big long-arm quilting machine..
That means, my little French Armoire (made to look that way, not an antique) has to go....
My sister thinks she wants it...so she gets first dibs...but anyone else interested (you'd have to be local)...

See, I need to reorganize all this stuff has to go somewhere.....

So, any of my readers long armers??
If you are please speak up and let me know what machines you have and love.
Do you have the computerized programs??
I am thinking of "crossing over" after 8+ years of doing total free hand...free motion...
Have you had pitfalls?? wishes..??
Here is to a change in the wind.....
Nancy

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Start of Something New

It is Thursday. I am usually babysitting, but I got the day off!
I had such plans!
I was gonna garden and plant and play. Ummm, it is still freezing outside!
The winds have picked up (no one on the news talked about winds)...and drives the warmth away.
So, I have been sitting and creating yet another baby quilt.
I have done laundry...and tidied here and there, but it is so cold. Especially for Southern California.
My sister in Northern California has snow showers today! Brrr, winter is not letting go so easily.
Usually by now I can at least plant something...not so this year.
So...I sew and sew and drink hot liquids...



The fabric was from a friend for my birthday and it has been calling to me for a while....
So, I pulled out my book that I received with my Accuquilt and picked the jewel box pattern. It makes a cute design the way the lay it out...and of course I never do it exactly as the books say...I always seem to give it a twist...which I will share later....I have about 20 more squares to make....
Nancy

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Busy Weekend

My weekend was busy......
I made that marmalade...with the 13 1/2 jars....
I also received the replacement grates for our stove...
Oh, didn't I tell you about that?? No? Well, let me tell you....
I was cooking on my lowest front burner...my favorite spot, in my favorite pan...nothing out of the ordinary....just grilled cheese sandwiches...when .....BAMMM!
The grate exploded! It got a huge break in it! A small piece flew across the room...!
Well, that is the second grate to break...the other broke years ago when I was using a griddle that straddles two burners....
Anyway....
Hubby called Kitchen-Aid...(which by the way is Whirlpool as of about 13 years ago...)
He told them about it and they confirmed the model, serial number and date we bought it, then told us that they would replace the grates....but we needed to send the old broken ones back after we received the new ones....
Ok, got them...they are lovely...Hubby packed the old ones up in the boxes the new ones came in and took it to the UPS store...it cost $50 to send them...(they said they would pay our shipping costs....)

Once the new grates were here I got them dirty....and made Lime Curd for canning...
Did you know that Lime or Lemon curd could be canned?? Did you know it can be frozen?? Neither did I! Oh the things we learn!
I found many recipes for canning the curd...and with a plethora of limes...why not??
So, I made curd. All that work for 4 jars! 11 eggs(7 egg yolks, 4 whole eggs), 12 limes(1/2 cup lime zest, 1 cup lime juice), 3/4 cup of butter and 2 1/2 cups of sugar....
The recipe I followed was from Utah State University cooperative extension and written by Brian Nummer, PhD extension Food Safety Specialist from 2008.
As there were many recipes on Google all fairly the same...I went for it...
It took about an hour all told I guess...though anyone who has done canning of any kind knows there is a great deal of prep before and after....oh the after.....
I also, finished a quilt top....
So, come dinner time...I wanted someone else to make it....so I had "Mrs. Pattmore" do it...
I made a really good split pea soup! The pressure cooker is the best way to to make it!
Basically you put everything in it and 12 minutes later we had soup...I did however carry it to another pot to puree it....though you don't have to....it's just split pea soup has always been pureed....


It was a lovely way to end the day...and a great recipe!
So, today...I finished putting things away....including the food I canned this weekend...
Yup....a couple of little shelves in the craft room closet (hey, it is a craft....) I have my little stash, which by summer's end is burgeoning, if luck is with me in the garden....
As you can see, there are still a few things left from last years crop...pickles and pepper jelly and one apricot jam....
I am so looking forward to gardening...
More rain is predicted....ugh...I am so ready to get outside and play in dirt and plant seeds....
I hope you have a great day!
Nancy

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Yummy For Taste

Well, that pioneer spirit got me through yesterday. Our power went off during the storm, I hear due to a transformer being taken out by a tree.....
It didn't ruffle my feathers at all.
I just got out the emergency lanterns and lit some candles.
When it was time for dinner, I already had it mostly made....I lit the stove the old fashioned way and cartelized onions and added them to that beef broth I had made.
Can we say "Yummy"? Nothing like French Onion Soup by firelight on a stormy night.
Then this morning....I was hungry!
So, I made some bacon.....
then some of Pamela's mix pancakes...
Then....I mixed some of that marmalade into maple syrup! We had bought this fantastic rich dark maple syrup last week...and well, we had to try the marmalade...so....why not mix them?
Oh my!! I have created a new treat for pancakes and french toast.....
Now, remember when I said I had doubled the recipe? and then realized I didn't have a pot big enough?? Yeah, well, I ended splitting the batch into two batches...and so I stirred and stirred and tired.
They came out awesome!
The only thing maybe not so great...the natural pectin in the peel may have worked a little too well...but on something hot, that's no biggie!
It came out and tastes awesome!
Just this morning Hubby was reading an ad for marmalade in the Wall Street Journal, it was for marmalade that cost $13 for 9 oz!!!
Well, my jars are 8 oz...so yay for the pioneer spirit!
Well, it is another rainy  day...so I will find something else to do today....
Nancy

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Pioneer In Me

I once read and used The Foxfire books. Anyone know them??
Yes, books written by a group of High School students and put together by their teacher...to help them understand that not everything comes from a store and self-sufficiency is a lesson to learn and understand.
We as a young married couple had the complete set...and used them...for some of the skills they showed. (I won't go into detail.....)
But, those days are long gone as are the paperback books that never made it to the last move. If you can find them...they are fun to read about life in the Alleghenies and the people who choose to live in the remote areas....
My point is this...every now and then as I travel through traffic and crowded streets I occasionally want to live that far simpler life. In my 60s now, I don't think I could....but still....
However, there are things that I can do to embrace the simpler life and enjoy it....
Last night, as I drove home from babysitting, I decided I would make orange marmalade, which meant I had to wash these fabulous organic oranges from a friend that night and slice them and get them ready for the canning....
I also decided that a winter storm is coming in, so, nothing better than onion soup on a cold and wet night. So, when I got home, I took out the beef bones from the freezer to make beef bone broth.
In all the self sufficient things we do, there is one thing in common. Planning ahead.
Yes we have pressure cookers and such to speed things along, but it still takes planning.
So, last night, though I was tired, I got going....



First, I washed them... 
Then I finely chopped them....
And put them in a pot. When the oranges and two lemons were in, I measured out the water and brought them to a boil. I removed them from the heat and measured out the sugar. (lots is required)
I stirred that in until it was fully dissolved and then covered and let it sit overnight.
There are lots and lots of recipes out there and I have tried numerous ones. The best recipes all let the oranges sit in their juice overnight on the counter, lightly covered.
What it does is draw out the natural juice and the pectin from the orange peel. This way no added pectin is really required.
This is one recipe my jelly maker cannot do. It is great for most all jams and jellies but cannot do marmalade, butters or tomato jam (which is really a tomato butter....)
So, old fashioned canning techniques are used here and the water bath canner.....
So it is a day for "pioneering" though I am using some more modern tools of sorts.
Meanwhile, while I prepared the oranges...I put the beef bones sprinkled with salt and pepper into the oven to roast for about an hour.
The homey and yummy smells that emanated from the kitchen were sublime.
Then when those were roasted, I put them in my pressure canner with carrots and herbs and garlic (I was saving the onion for the next day)...so I could make broth.
In 35 minutes I turned it off and added some wine and set it for 15 more minutes.
In the end, I had a rich smelling broth that then went into the fridge.
However, the meat had not come off the bones, so I stuck them back into the pressure canner and set it for slow cook and added more liquid and wine and herbs and stuff....
I set it for 10 hours. So, it cooked and steamed all night long.
Problem here was a learning curve....I left it on HIGH...and hadn't changed it to LOW...so there was virtually no broth at all in the morning! OOOPs
No loss. Like that pioneer, I wasn't going to let perfectly good bones and meat go to waste....nope, not me. I put them back in added water and wine (see a trend here??) and more salt and pepper and turned it on to slow cook (yes, on high) for 2 hours. I should get more broth that is concentrated this time.
Meanwhile,  this morning I was up and ready to make marmalade.

So, the water bath canner got filled, the jars went into the dishwasher to get thoroughly cleaned and hot, and the oranges went into the Le Creuset. It was then I realized...another OOOPS, I had doubled the batch in my excitement (a total no no) and had to divide the orange yumminess...oh well...we will see.....
So, here I sit, waiting for beef bone broth and orange marmalade.
There is a basket of limes waiting to be sliced and dehydrated and possibly be made into a marmalade as well....I don't know yet.
All I know, is that Pioneer in Me is calling me to do something with the bounty I have and not waste it.
I hope you have a great day! Stay warm and dry wherever you are.
Nancy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day....I know I did.
We woke up later and then after a casual breakfast we went looking for dinner.
Once upon a time, many stores carried lobster and they would cook it for you (I don't want to do "the deed" myself )...
It turns out most no longer provide lobster...tails only and frozen ones at that.
We wanted the whole lobster (is there any other kind??) We went to Costco as they had lobsters last year....not this year.
We called several stores and were told no.
Finally, we called Bristol Farms...and were told that yes, they had fresh live Maine lobsters and yes, they could cook them...what time did we want them??
So, after telling them the time we were free for several hours....Hubby wanted to get both cars washed and I wanted to sew (no surprise there)...
So, I did...I needed to embroider the name of the new baby for the sampler quilt that I made for them...so it can indeed be quilted.

I am very pleased how this turned out....embroidering on a quilt is always a bit risky as it can pull both in the frame or the fabric itself....and I am still going to put his birthdate on this morning....then I get to quilt!
After that we went on a short walk with the dogs...
And then it was time to get our lobster!
Did you know that they give Senior discounts at the market? Yeah, I guess because it was Valentine's Day or something...but we got $5 off! Pretty cool. It was far less to have lobster at home than at a restaurant...and we could be as messy as we wanted! (I am known as an otter when it comes to lobster or crab....I eat everything but the shell and get very messy....)
 Here is our dinner! A slightly over one pound lobster, mashed potatoes and salad.
 This is the salad, with cucumber, tomatoes, and pistachios....
 And this is the what is left of the lobster when I get done with it....LOL.....
Then Hubby got us chocolate covered strawberries for dessert....quite yummy....and later while watching TV we had some Nespresso decaf coffee.....
While watching TV, I worked on "weeding" our book collection which was getting unruly....really don't need all the books...some haven't been enjoyed for years or never really looked at....I mean, how many recipe books do I need??
I also continued trimming threads from the whole cloth quilt I finished....
I had it hanging up for you all to see, but the fact that it is all white reflected the light too much...I figured this way you get an idea of how it looks....It is all sewn free hand and free motion on the machine. It has roughly 1200ft of silk thread through it and you can see some of the raised portions...that are "trapunto" technique...
Because this was a preprinted quilt I had to wash it....twice to get the blue marking out. Now it is soft and cuddly....I am pleased with it actually. I know the lines of stitching aren't perfectly straight....but hey, it still looks good and I did it. For hours and hours and hours. It was actually quite fun....like tracing with thread....
Today....I made Hubby breakfast of french toast and bacon....because really, Valentine's Day should be celebrated almost every day as we never know what the future might bring.
Have a great day!!
Nancy

Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons

We have all heard that saying, haven't we?
Well, today dawned bright and shiny, with warm winds blowing.
I decided to harvest lemons for a couple of recipes I saw, candied lemons and dehydrated lemons, and preserved lemons.
Hubby helped me harvest, my oh my what a harvest!
The tree is simply exhausted from producing so many. (I also fed it while I was out there)


This is a meyer lemon bush...and it has been quite neglected...not anymore....
We only harvested from the large clusters, keeping a few on the bush for later.
Of course they got washed first....especially since these are indeed organic....
A recipe I found said to simply slice and dehydrate...so I did that.
And it said for a delightful twist to cover the slices with sugar and dehydrate that way...sounded good to me!


I have a lovely old dehydrator that was given to us, a great big one that lives in the garage. We use it so much more than I ever thought....but this sugared recipe was a new one...We will see.....
I also have mixed according to another recipe 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar and quartered without going all the way through more lemons and put them in a sterilized jar...
And another recipe for preserved lemons call just for the salt and squishing them into a jar...with salt on the bottom of the jar and more on top...them filling the void with cooled boiled water...I am also trying that.
The sugar and salt recipe I did years ago, don't know why it got forgotten....it is a sublime preserved lemon recipe and they keep for months in the fridge.....
 These are the lemons with sugar and salt...they will sit out for a day and then get refrigerated and are good for about 6 months or so.....When you use them you use only the peel...not the meat...that gets tossed and you rinse them quite well of salt/sugar....they are so very delightful in fish and chicken dishes...How did I forget about this??
This one I haven't done before...it is just salt and lemon...and the water that fills the void.
You use them the same as the others, but they sit out for quite a while, much like if you were making sauerkraut or something......
I also harvested limes from the lime tree....and will be making dehydrated limes....
Probably not lime marmalade as no one really like it so well....I did...for adding to teriyaki sauce for a marinade....
In any case....I am grateful for the bounty in our yard.
Have a terrific weekend.
Nancy

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup, Thank You Mrs. Pattmore....

Ok, so I have been having great fun with my pressure cooker, that I call Mrs. Pattmore.
Why you ask do I call it that? Because, in Downton Abbey, Mrs. Pattmore is the head cook...and having this pressure cooker is just like having a cook.
Yesterday, we had a guest for lunch.
We have been having rainy weather and soup and sandwiches filled the bill.
I laid out sandwich makings and let Hubby and our friend make their sandwiches, but in addition, in 10 minutes I had the most delicious Butternut Squash Soup!
Now, don't get excited about the picture. I took this from the recipe online at AllRecipes. However, it looked quite similar. (I didn't want to be taking pictures with company at the table!)
It is so incredibly easy!
The recipe is from the Best Pressure Cooker Recipes on the Planet, by Debra Murray
She gets the credit here, but yesterday I did!

6 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (ours came from Costco all ready in a pack)
3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
2 medium apples peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
sprinkle of pumpkin seeds or sage for garnish if desired

We didn't have any garnish... or creme fraiche to top it with, it was still quite amazing!(follow directions for your pressure cooker...mine is electric and automatic)
With the pressure cooker...put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, lock and set timer for 10 mins. When the time is up release the pressure and remove the lid carefully.
Take the lovely cooked makings out and blend. Now I put mine into the Vitamix to blend as I have a non-stick pot and a submersible blender might damage that......but I suppose you might be able to use one....
Serve ....and enjoy!
It was just the right flavor!

For dinner last night we had Mrs. Pattmore make us Chicken Cacciatore ! I'll give you that recipe later....but let's just say...I am happy with our "chef".....
Nancy

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Whole Cloth Quilt with Trapunto

I had never heard of Trapunto before...until about two years ago I bought a book on French quilting.
Oh my gosh!
I was hooked. I wanted to buy one...but honestly they are almost impossible to find and when you do, very, very, very expensive.
If you read up on it I see why. The true trapunto technique, which is all hand done, requires a special needle technique that stuffs certain parts of the quilt with extra batting to make it extra "puffy" from the rest of the quilt.
Well, I rarely do any hand quilting these days. And I did once try the technique, and honestly the look of mine was far from close. So, I set the technique idea away for another time.
Then about 6-8 months ago, browsing through some blog that I don't even remember which one it was, I saw a "take" on trapunto. Ummm, yeah!
She took the quilt she was working on and stitched on extra batting in the beginning, then when it came time to quilt the extra batting was there!
So, about 10 months ago I ordered from a company a pre-printed whole cloth quilt which even came with backing! It was $19.99 for a crib size quilt. I can do that math. It would cost me a whole lot more to buy the same fabric and mark it....so, yes, I was in!
It came in like 3 days. And then I was busy with other quilts, so it sat in the closet until I had time.
Time came a few days ago. I had already stitched on some batting to a few of the flower medallions..so I put the layers together and have been stitching happily since.





Here you can kinda see the raised flowers...the lighting isn't great, but you get the idea...

If the preprinted cloth is cheating, well then so be it. I still have to stitch it. I am having so much fun, almost like a paint by numbers, only there aren't any colors, just the blue lines that will wash away when I am done!
The stitching is all free motion on my home machine...no long arm...and no rulers...I am using the open toe foot.
No it isn't perfect, but again, I am having fun! When it is all stitched, and then washed, who will see little jiggles...or oops...?
So, between loads of laundry...I am inside warm and dry stitching away...
Nancy

Friday, February 3, 2017

How Did This Happen??

How did it happen? I don't remember time going so fast.
My daughter, my eldest...is turning 36!
Born in Placerville....at Marshall Hospital at 6:46pm ....
Wow...times flies....
My eldest daughter is on the left in black...her name is Emily...
Her great friend is Jenny in the middle and my youngest is on the right, Melissa (the mom).
I don't remember getting older...and yet my joints remind me often, so I guess it did happen.
I wish you the best year yet my "baby"....may the year shine for you!!
💖

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Are We Having Fun Yet??

Well, it has happened...we knew it would one day....our house is almost 60 years old....
It had 4 backups in two months...and after a good video sent down we found that the old pepper tree has sent its roots into the sewer line. No fun at all.
Picture starting to step into your shower and its filling with yucky water.
Yeah, that was Friday.
The fourth time our sewer line backed up.
Thomas, the owner of Parzival plumbing, had his guys clear it out, again...from the roof.
You see, our house and those on the block, never had main house clean outs. It wasn't required in those days....
So, now we need to fix the line that was damaged and filled with roots and put in clean outs. One toward the street and one toward the house.
The city is going to reimburse us after they approve the job and all that, but we still pay an arm and leg...
Anyone else go through this?? No? Well, just so you know, sewer lines are deep. Very deep.
 That black stuff....it is roots! (and odd bits and pieces from the sewer...

 Still digging....
 So,this is deep...over 6 ft!


 We had almost the whole team working on this.....


Nice company...great guys....BIG job!
So...now it is hooked up so we can flush etc....but the city has to come out and approve what they did and then they get to fill it up again.....
That is how the day went....
How was your day???
Nancy