Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A New Day at the Smith House

Two Christmases ago I asked Santa for an Instant Pot (no affiliation). 

Bear in mind that my mother never used a pressure cooker and I had heard wild tales of them exploding and decorating the kitchen ceiling.  But I had heard so many people raving about the convenience and it sounded like it would make cooking easier and cleanup faster.

Well, Santa (or one of his helpers) obliged.  Within days I screwed up my courage to give it a try using recipes that came with it.  I liked the idea that the Instant Pot could saute so that is the type of recipe we tried.  Frankly, I was less than enamoured with the process; it didn't seem to be any faster or better than if I had cooked the same thing in my big skillet.  So the IP went on the shelf and I returned to the methods I had been using for over 50 years.

Recently I started feeling guilty about not using it so I ordered some cookbooks and began marking recipes that looked good (or at least manageable).  My first attempt was Grown-Up Mac and Cheese.

Photo from the cookbook
Wow, it was tasty with bacon, rosemary, and Gruyere cheese!  But by the time I sauted the bacon, drained the fat, and let the pot come up to pressure (usually about 10 minutes) before the 3-minute cooking time, I could have boiled the macaroni and assembled the dish.

Nevertheless, I left the IP out on the counter as a constant reminder that I need to use it or lose it.

Next I tried Pork Carnitas for tacos.  Six pounds of pork butt falling apart in 50 minutes -- now that's worth talking about!  And it was delicious, too.

My bravery increased and I even purchased some silicone accessories at the kitchen outlet store last week.  First I steamed some butternut squash; it was OK but a bit overdone.  Undaunted, last night I cooked a boneless Turkey breast.  I put it in the new steamer basket ...

... with petite Yukon gold potatoes stacked on top ...

All I can say is it's a new day in the Smith household!  Delicious!  I'm hoping a new cookbook with recipes for two will keep me going in this new direction.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Strippies Revisited

I am in the process of revising and updating my strippy quilt lecture to do for our guild some time next year.  So, naturally, I have an eye for appropriate fabric -- as if I need any more!  I snagged this at the silent auction last weekend.

Oh, sorry, it's a little hard to see at that scale.  How about this?

Those flower centers remind me of bird heads.  There were two yards on the bolt with seven of these stripes that measure 6-1/2" .  It's a weird fabric, though -- a twill weave and a sort of light upholstery weight so I'm not sure how it will work in a quilt.  Nevertheless, I have pulled possible fabrics to go with.

My idea is to make flying geese in red, black, tan for the alternate strips. Or stars ...  Stay tuned!

And while you wait ... take a look at my Christmas cactus that I bought at Walmart last year.  I repotted it in the spring and broke it into three separate plants.  It seems to enjoy the room to grow!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Retreat Wrap-up Part Deux

Photos finally uploaded/downloaded so here's a quick review.

Nancy put together Rainbow Radiance started in a Donna Lynn Thomas class a couple of years ago.  (I think it's time I finish mine ...)

Nancy's Rainbow Radience
Sharon put a new spin on Northern Lights (from Nickel Quilts).

Sharon's Northern Lights
Ari worked on Blue Velvet (Cindy Williams design).

Sena worked on a 3-D project (sorry I don't remember the name or designer).

Sena's 3-D
Kim, who does incredible ice dying, tested a tie pattern on scrap fabric. (Note her dyed jacket)

Kim's tie
Susan M almost finished her bargello.  She is still thinking about how she wants to trim it.

Susan's bargello
Susan H laid out some pretty bowtie blocks.

Susan's Bowties
And Becky worked on a Donna Lynn Thomas project she started on a recent cruise.

Becky contemplating her progress
Donna and Ruth appeared in a previous post.
Somehow I missed Charlie, Kristen, Frances, Phillis, and Shirley.  Next time!
What a great group of friends and so much fun to spend time with.

A Weekend with the Amish

In case you follow me closely ... yes, I left retreat Thursday morning for the 3+hour drive home with a stop at Staples to pick up copies for the guild and a side trip to deliver them before picking up clean pajamas and hopping into Mr. Lakeside's vehicle to head north.

Whereas we had a dusting of snow in Mid-TN, this is what greeted us in Indiana:

Residuals from a 5-inch snow
The Midwest Fabric Study Group has held its November meeting in Shipshewana, Indiana for the last several years.  It was a bit of a haul for me when living in Nashville, but an even longer haul now that I'm about 2 hours further away.  I've missed most of the meetings since the move and really wanted to go this year, but I couldn't find a travel mate.  Mr. Lakeside to the rescue!

Digging for FQs at Lolly's
We made the obligatory trip to Lolly's Fabric Shop on Saturday and Mr. Lakeside was most helpful in finding some yellow fat quarters in the big canoe. The town is completely decked out for Christmas.  This was our view from our room at the Blue Gate Inn (yes, same place Bonnie Hunter was last weekend):

View from Room 308
Our study sessions were very interesting, starting with ethnic textiles on Friday night.  On Saturday morning we saw examples of "multitudinous" pieces (in the thousands!) and had Fun with Poly and Ester.  In the afternoon we learned more about hexies and drunkard's path.  My favorite session was about Mary Gasperik, a Hungarian immigrant in the early 1900s who was a very prolific and award-winning quilt maker.  She always put her own spin on her quilts, even kit quilts.  We were fortunate that one of her grand-daughters brought a small group of her quilts to show.

Mary Gasperik quilt (shown with permission)
Mary came from a family of tailors so that may explain her accomplishment with a needle.  The shading on those birds is embroidery!  (Apologies for the wonky photo; it's hard to get a decent shot with 60 quilt historians around the table.)  I haven't shown other quilts because I didn't get permission from the owners.

Sunday morning sessions covered garden maze and log cabin.  Dinner with an Amish family on Saturday and a spirited silent auction rounded out the weekend.

If you have the slightest interest in quilt history, I recommend you search for a quilt study group in your area.  Midwest is one of, if not THE, oldest regional group, but now almost every state or region has one.  Contact me if you want more information.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Retreat Wrap-up

I wasn't the only one at retreat!  I thought you might like to see what others worked on.

Suzanne brought several gorgeous applique projects ...

Ruth almost finished her Feathered Star ...

Ruth - Feathered Star
Donna put borders on Good Fortune ...

Donna's Good Fortune
Sharon finished a years-old project ...


And Nancy showed off a new Two-fabric Bargello with a two-fabric insert ...

Nancy's TFB
I took a lot more pictures; maybe they will show up when I get back home.  
Currently in Shipshewana at Midwest Fabric Study Group meeting.  
More on that tomorrow.

Making Headway

Retreat Days 2-3

On Tuesday I worked on Mosaic Mystery. 

Clue 5 - Diagonal Block
After completing most of Clue 5, I attempted to figure out the mystery.  Because my fabrics are all neutrals, my pictures come out looking B/W.  Anyway, I may be way off base, but I like the looks of this.

Possible mystery solution
Wednesday began with more square blocks.

It's Good to be Square
I got about 8 more finished, but quit when I put pieces on the wrong side 4 times in a row!  And I forgot to take a picture.

I moved on to a Chunky Churn Dash, my 2018-2019 UFO that needed borders.

Chunky Churn Dash
CCD is a Bonnie Hunter free pattern that I used over two years of RSC.  I love how it turned out.  I selected a black fabric with stars in all the different colors for the border.

Sadly, my photo of the finished product is still somewhere in the cloud ....  I think it's time I figure out how to delete some stuff from outer space ...

I closed out my retreat time making a bunch of rosebuds for my special project.

Since this is for competition, I eliminated a few where the purple and yellow didn't meet accurately which means I probably have about a dozen more to make.  Back to the cutting board ...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Retreat Days 1 and 2

On my way here yesterday I stopped by my LAQ to pick up three quilts.  My first order of business was to get them trimmed.  Two are picnic quilts for the grandsons who got married the last two summers.

Picnic quilts
Made from their shirts, they are pretty much identical.  I got the idea for the pattern from Jo's Country Junction.  The back is a heavy-duty dark gray chambray.  I promised these two Christmases ago, so it's about time to get them bound and on the way to a new home.

I also picked up this squirrel I finished earlier this year.

No Name
It was inspired by the background fabric and some Old Sturbridge Village prints I've had since about 2008.

Simple 9-patches and solid squares with a "built-in" 9P border.  This may be a Christmas gift ...

Next I added borders to a top that has been languishing in the box since February.

Twist of Lime
I think the pattern name is Twist of Lime.  I saw it in a magazine.  It's another one of those whose size was limited by the amount of the main white fabric I had.  I think it looks a lot better with the borders on and won't be an embarrassment to give away.

We had a dusting of snow overnight but we were all here and settled in before it started.

Tuesday Morning
Is still bleepin' cold, though.  This morning I set about catching up with the Mosaic Mystery (Meadow Mist Designs).

Mosaic Mystery Clue 5
I wanted to finish one block to make sure I knew what to do.  Only 15 more to go.  I think I am really going to like this quilt!

After a little computer work this afternoon I will probably finish up my latest UFO squirrel.  Lots of pretty stuff going on here.  Check back tomorrow for an update.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Retreat Time Again

I'll be heading out to the S'mores retreat later this morning.  
All the gear is in my van; all that is left is to pack my suitcase and load up the cooler.

But first, I want to share the morning sunrise with you.

Sunrise 11/11/19
Compare the same view from same time yesterday (no color enhancement on either).

Sunrise 11/10/19
I am always amazed at the difference a day can make.

I gave the neighborhood buck a scare when I stepped out on the deck to take this morning's photo.  He gave the weirdest snort (I almost dropped my phone) and bounded off to the neighbor's yard.
Notice all the maple leaves are gone; oaks hang on till spring.

I will try to give updates from the retreat but
cell service is so bad I may not be able to get photos to the Cloud.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Moldie Oldie

9 Years is Enough!

When I heard my niece was getting married on 10-10-10, I quickly put together a modern-ish throw quilt for their NYC apartment. (I had to dig through my old computer to find this terrible photo.)

Wanda/Exuberant Color told me the pattern is "It's Good to be Square" 
by Roxanna and Stephanie Prescott for A Quilter's Dream. 

I recently found four of the 16-inch blocks in my orphan block box that have stay stitching on the edges so it looks like I removed them to improve the proportions of the gifted quilt.

Stay stitching
I considered passing these blocks on to the Devo group but I realized they would need more of the brown/black/tan batiks to really do them justice.  I didn't mind divesting myself of some batiks that I rarely use anyway but since I didn't have the pattern, I wanted to be sure I had the right measurements.  I made a test block.

Test Block
It looked and measured like the leftover blocks, so the cutting commenced.

Before I knew it -- well, really, two days later -- I had kitted up 15 more blocks.  My dear friend was back from the spa and I needed to make sure she was working properly before taking her on retreat next week.

Baby-Lock Quilt Pro
Three more blocks ..

... joined the original four ...

The other 12 will have to wait for retreat.  And I may keep this one....

Monday, November 4, 2019

Sorta Secret

I've embarked on a new journey with a definite deadline.

Can you guess?  It involves 36 yellow rosebuds ...