Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Exciting News

I have a "real" website - sort of.  Probably because I never thought of myself as really being in business, I just sold patterns through my Etsy shop - which works quite well.  But since someone actually called to schedule a class 2 years from now, I started thinking that maybe I am in business and should act like it.

So I'm starting slow, with just 1 page but it is beautiful.  You can see it at and you will see that it still takes you to my Etsy shop to order patterns but it is a step in the right direction.  A baby step, but a step nevertheless.

I don't even have time to add a pretty picture as I should be upstairs right now packing up for my class at Main Street Quilt Cottage in Hurricane, UT, part of the annual Quilt Camp at Peach Days.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013


My sister and I often decide to change things around in our house and we usually plan to sell them.  That is until the other one knows it is "up for grabs" and wants it - and gets it for free.  We have both been the recipient of some very fine things and most recently my nephew's bed came to my house.  As you can see, I had the perfect quilt for a twin bed that accessorized nicely with the shelf already in place.

I made this quilt over 10 years ago and because it didn't fit anywhere, it has been in the closet since it was completed.  It is a Blackbird Designs pattern - Celebration of American Life(?).  I just love the ticking I used for the background.  I appliqued on the wrong side of the ticking as the "right" side was a bit too bright.  How nice to get it off the shelf where I can enjoy it.

This little corner contains my nephews bed, my quilt, an Uncle Sam carved by my husband, a photo of my Dad when he was drafted into the Army and sent to Germany during WWII, and the flag that draped my Dad's casket when he passed away. All good hand-me-downs.

Now, if I could just get my sister's cabinet that would match perfectly in here.......

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What to do with all those tomatoes...

 Are you shocked to see me posting about a recipe?  You should be.  After 44 years of marriage, I'm tired of cooking (and housework) but since we still need to eat every day I'm still at it.  I don't do a lot of canning but each year I like to make chili sauce.  It tastes wonderful with roast beef on those cold winter days and I like to add it to my chili too. 

Here is my "how to" on making the best chili sauce:

 Right after the last frost, early May here in Utah, plant your tomatoes.  My husband tends our little garden - just tomatoes and cucumbers.  This year he has a bumper crop of both. If you don't have a garden buy them at the grocery store or farmer's market.

Ingredient List:

Large paper grocery sack of tomatoes.  I don't know how many pounds, just a big sack.
6 large yellow onions
6 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
3 Tablespoons salt
3 cups white vinegar
7 cups brown sugar.  That's not a typo - use 7 cups
3 Tablespoons pickling spice tied in cheesecloth (I used a double layer of cheesecloth)

How to:
The tomato skins need to be removed and the easiest way to do this is to simmer them for a few minutes and then plunge into a sink of cold water.  Here you can see my big grocery sack right next to the stove.

While I start peeling the tomatoes my husband begins grinding the onions and peppers.  I'm certain you can do this in a food processor but I've always used my grinder as it cuts them just the right size - not the mush I end up with in the food processor.  I got the both the man and the grinder at my wedding and they've both been very reliable. What you can't see is a large bowl on the floor to catch the juices from the grinder.

As I peel the tomatoes I also cut them into a few big pieces and place them in the cook pot.  You want to choose a heavy bottomed pan so the sauce can cook at a low temperature without burning or constant stirring. This pan holds 3 gallons of liquid and is the bottom of a pressure cooker that belonged to my mother-in-law.  Many years ago she let me borrow the pan but I didn't get the lid until after she died.  She was convinced I would blow up the house if I tried to pressure cook anything. 

Add all the ingredients to the pan and don't forget to add the juice from the grinder.  It looks like swamp water but is full of flavor.
Here it is on the stove ready to cook.  Stir the pickling spice bundle down into the mix, turn on high and bring to a low boil, then turn on low to simmer and reduce by one-half. I don't need to worry about stirring or checking very often as I'm using a gas stove and the pan has a very heavy bottom.  It is important to stir and check the heat so you don't burn the sauce on the bottom.   Get ready for a wonderful aroma that always reminds me of fall.
Here's my chili sauce pot 11 hours later.  Yes, this is a project best started in the morning as it takes all day.  I will admit that I turned it off for about an hour to get lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant.

About 1 hour before this point, I wash the canning jars in my dishwasher with the heat-dry option so I know they are perfectly clean and still hot when I pour in the hot chili sauce.  Just before filling the jars I place the lids in a shallow pan of water and bring it to a simmer.

The chili sauce is hot, the bottles are hot, and the lids are hot.  Twist the rings on and place the jars upside-down for about 10 minutes then turn right-side-up.  All of my jars sealed and there is no need to process any further.

Right now I have a roast in the oven with potatoes and carrots to enjoy with my first jar of chili sauce this season.  It's not a cold winter day but I couldn't wait.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teaching at Peach Days Quilt Camp

Peach Days Logo

During the summer months many Utah towns have a celebration.  The city of Hurricane's annual celebration is Peach Days with a parade, fireworks, food, rodeo and more.  Now, you have to make certain that you pronounce Hurricane as we do here in Utah - it's Herrkin - don't ask me why, it just is.  Maybe because the next town over is Laverkin and we like to keep things simple - no need to add extra syllables when speaking.

Herrkin, aka Hurricane, is the home of Main Street Quilt Cottage with their own special celebration during Peach Days.  Quilt Camp includes classes, open sew and bingo.  I will be there on Friday, August 30th to teach Embellishment 101 and Berry Bloom and give a trunk show.

Our Embellishment 101 class will use the above sampler as a guide for learning a variety of embellishment stitches and fun fibers.  We will learn how using different threads can change the look of a basic stitch and even change the focal color of the applique piece.  We will also explore some easy beading techniques that add extra texture and fun to wool applique.

The Berry Bloom mini-purse is just the right size for keys, a credit card and phone.  The Berry Bloom is stitched on felted hand-dyed wool with wool/cotton applique and embellished with fun stitches, ribbon and ric-rac. I added a honey bee closure to mine that I took off a necklace.  OK, I will admit that I bought the necklace with no intention of wearing it - I just loved the bee.

 I can't wait to see everyone at class and Wendy promised I can join in on the Bingo.  Unfortunately, the Eating Contest conflicts with my class.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Urban Owls BOM Finished!

I check out the Material Obsessions blog quite often and last year saw a notice about sign-ups for BOM projects.  Oh my, it was difficult to choose between all the offerings but Urban Owls kept calling my name.  Get it?  I heard the owl call my name?  OK, on with the story.  The BOM program began last August, which means I received my first kit here in the USA about mid-September.  It was a 10 month program so I finished just a little bit late.

I'm not at home in my "real" sewing room so I took this pic with my phone and the quilt on the floor.  When I get back home I'll give it a good press with my "real" iron, clean off the loose threads, and rush it to my favorite quilter, Cindy Paulson, for her magic touch.

I've been quite fascinated with the colors, combination of prints, and multitude of block designs in Australian quilts which is what draws me to the Material Obsession blog and store website.  I knew the easiest way to learn their techniques was with a block-of-the-month, using the fabrics they sent me.  Did I learn a lot?  Absolutely yes!

I was quite surprised to rip open the first kit (I don't wait to get home - they are opened in the post office) and find FELT, not felted wool.  I almost switched it out for wool but remembered, this was a learning experience.  I learned that I don't think much of the felt. Sorry, but there it is.  It is stiff, harder to needle through, and I'm going to say it - in my opinion, it looks cheap.  Don't hate me if you love felt, we all have our favorites. The embellishment was not called for in the instructions but I couldn't resist dressing up the felt.

I do like the fussy cut eyes - the fabric included in the kit was perfect.  I used a combination of Silken Pearl and Pearl Cotton for the embellishment stitches.  That is a woven picot beak over the appliqued felt beak.

 I added a few bullions and pistil stitches on the leaves with a rayon thread.  Rayon isn't my favorite but the color was right and it had a bit of sparkle that looks nice in this center panel.

Bullion Stitches add some dimension to the ultra-flat felt on the cat's tail.
 Pieced blocks have felt centers that begged to be dressed up.
 I might have been a bit carried away with this one.  It was my new Jelly Beans Silken Pearl thread that kept me stitching.
There were many challenges for me on this quilt which means that it was exactly what I wanted - a project to help me learn new skills.  The colors are amazing and I would have never mixed them together on my own and piecing is always a challenge for me.  Although I've been quilting and stitching for many years, I still like a challenge.

Now that this one is completed, I'm excited to get working on my next challenge, Basket Case by Chris Jurd which was included in Quilt Mania over a year ago.  Since opening the magazine, I couldn't quit thinking about it so I guess I have to make it.  Oh no......... more foundation piecing, but I've collected some incredible fabrics.

You can find Chris' amazing patterns in her Etsy Shop.

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