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Saturday 25 October 2014

Nine Patch, Three Cheese

I am working away on my denim nine-patch quilt. I LOVE this quilt. It is super thick and heavy and WARM!! I have been hand quilting it so I get to cuddle under it while I work.

The denim is surprisingly not that hard to quilt through.

One of the reasons why this quilt is so cozy and warm is the backing, a solid piece of fleece. The weight of the heavy fabrics used in the top combined with the fuzzy fleece backing make for a lovely warm blanket, just in time for some rain and colder weather.

I realized that because my favorite part of making a quilt is usually hand sewing the binding, maybe I just love to sew by hand?

Yes, I do! However I am still getting the hang of making straight and even stitches. I am using thick thread in a light brown, hoping that my stitches will show up. I figure if I am going to take the time to hand quilt, I want those stitches to be obvious.

Right now I am quilting around the nine patch blocks and around the border, until I decide how to further quilt it. Am I breaking the rules of quilting by using my quilts before they are done? I may or may not have slept under this one already. Hah!

I've also been making some little dolls, and plan to make some clothes for them. The first one I made was played with right away and obviously needed some decoration. David went at it with a permanent marker and came and showed it to me. "Mom, look! This is zebra stripe man." 


Well, they are meant to be played with, right?? However I promptly began a fresh new doll companion for Zebra Stripe Man...

I have lots of beautiful fabric to play with and I have been looking through some of my stash, dreaming about what to do with it. This one is going to be fun! Thanks to my friend Carli at Good Earth Quilting.

As promised I am sharing my recipe for homemade Macaroni and Cheese, one of my favorite comfort foods. Of course, you can use any kind of noodles (like rice or other gluten free alternatives) and my favorite are those big shell noodles, because they hold a lot of the delicious cheesey sauce! My southern Great Aunt Shirley used to make her signature shells and cheese at every Thanksgiving and Christmas.


2 cups elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup bread crumbs

Prepare noodles al dente, drain and set aside. In a separate saucepan, melt 4 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add green onions and saute until just soft. Blend in flour and dry mustard. Whisk until well blended. Gradually add milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Continue to stir as the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and add cheeses, stirring with a wooden spoon until the cheese melts and blends with the sauce. Add salt and pepper.

Add sauce to macaroni and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. Spoon into a casserole dish. Melt the remaining butter and toss with the breadcrumbs and parsley, then sprinkle this mixture on top of the casserole. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350F.

So good! Just like Great Aunt Shirley used to make.

Have a wonderful day and thank you for visiting!

Monday 13 October 2014

Why Blogging Loves Quilting

Why do quilting and blogging go together?

Because there is a story behind every quilt.

Putting together a quilt is a mammoth craft endeavor, takes a long time, and a lot of effort. Often quilts are made for special people in our lives and the work that goes into them reflects our feelings. Whatever is going on in my life gets put into my sewing, and I can look at all kinds of things I've made and remember what I was going through when I sat down and did all those stitches, sewed all those pieces together, or stayed up late quilting.

My latest quilt reflects the place my mind was at when I was creating it. It was one of those projects I made in a hurry and just wanted to finish, and it turned out rather crude and sloppy. How fitting that the word I chose to embroider on the back is "Forgiveness".

We are all only human and make mistakes and have regrets, and all we can do is carry on and forgive ourselves, and forgive other people.

I am still learning about quilting as I go and I did learn some things on this quilt. While wool is warm and can be an amazing material, if the top of a quilt is too scratchy it will be uncomfortable on your bare arms as they lay on the top of the blanket while you are underneath it!

Also, I played around with using a greater seam allowance to compensate for the thickness of some of the wool pieces, and that added to the chaos. I was still using my 1/4" sewing foot and I should have marked the 1/2" line on my machine with masking tape.

Firefly snuck her head into the greenhouse for a snack while I was out photographing the quilt! It is raining cats and dogs out there today.

I didn't have the energy to really quilt this thing, I only sewed along the major seam ditches and called it done. Ultimately this particular quilt is only practical and not so much a thing of beauty! But it will keep somebody warm... even if that somebody turns out to be the dog! Haha!

Thankfully I have other quilts I am working on that I am really stoked about, and that I think will turn out to be well crafted and beautiful. I picked up the Sister's Ten Block of the Month pattern again and I have six more blocks to make (three more block patterns, two of each) before I am ready to cut out the sashing and other bits, and put it all together! I'm really excited about this quilt, and because the background is cream colored, I am going to put it somewhere where it can be admired instead of used.

It will be the first quilt I have made for this purpose. All of the other quilts so far have been made to be well-loved and slept under, and are thus susceptible to the spills and stains of life.

I made some braided Challah bread to take to dinner tonight and I am cooking up some homemade macaroni and cheese. It is Thanksgiving in Canada and I am going to a big potluck! I know there will be lots of gravy and then whipped cream for pie!

I hope you all have a wonderful day, and since this post is my participation in the World Blog Hop! I want to direct you to two of my favorite bloggers in the blogging quilt world.

...who is participating in another blog hop today!

...whose work I always enjoy.

I realized after writing this post that the point of the Blog Hop is to answer certain questions about the creative process, which I hope that I have addressed here but I am always glad to explore more. I do want to share that one of the main things that I feel sets me apart from most other blogging quilters is that I live off the grid, and often sew and craft with minimal electricity. This means I do not have a fancy iron and sometimes when it is raining I content myself with cutting out pieces rather than running the machine.

In my next post I'd like to share my recipe for macaroni and cheese, and the top to my denim nine-patch quilt which is now finished!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Caramelized Apple Pie

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada and the holiday season means lots of PIE making! Pie is one of my favorite things to eat and I love making pastry and different fillings. We have lots of apples this year so I've been putting them into pie, and I came across a recipe that may have changed the way I make apple pie forever...

Usually I just toss the apples with sugar, but this method calls for actually cooking down the sugar into caramel and then adding a bit of apple juice and apple slices to the caramel to cook down further before baking. I always precook the apples before baking anyway, and the caramelized sugar gives the pie an amazing flavor!

This recipe is an altered, short-cut version of a recipe from the Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook. Their recipe calls for a few things like heavy cream and brandy, and is much richer.

Caramelized Apple Pie 

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8-10 tart apples, cored and sliced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Chilled pastry, enough for a pie top and bottom

Cook the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns light brown (about 5 minutes). Do not stir while doing this but occasionally swill the saucepan to ensure that the sugar is cooking evenly in the pan. When the sugar begins to caramelize, add the sliced apples and the apple juice. Stir well to re-melt the caramel and coat all the apples. Cook until the liquid is slightly reduced and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Keep cooking (and stirring, to ensure that all the apples soften) until the liquid has thickened but before the apples overcook and fall apart.

Fill a pastry shell with this delicious apple mess and roll out a rectangle with the pastry dough for the pie's lid. I use a metal spatula to score the pastry into strips and lay them across the pie, first horizontally, and then at a 45 degree angle to make lattice. 

I always think of Snow White when I make latticed pastry, and however did she train those wild bluebirds to help her in the kitchen??

**Optionally you may egg wash the pastry and sprinkle granulated sugar over top before baking.

Bake at 350 until the pastry is a beautiful golden brown. After removing from the oven, let the pie set for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting into pieces and devouring with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful that both of my sweet milking goats are pregnant! Barney the stud has done his job and moved on to another farm. The milk supply is starting to wane and will not return again until the babies are born in March.

I'll be posting again tomorrow to participate in the World Blog Hop put on by the blogger True Blue Canadian.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Recycling Jeans Into A Quilt

The last couple of weeks found me with a surplus of blue jeans that had been given to me by friends or handed down through the local Free Store.

Denim is an amazing material to work with. It is durable and strong but can be soft and supple at the same time.

Some of the pants that I acquired recently had hardly been worn, and even on the pairs of pants that had some signs of wear around the knees there was still lots of great fabric for quilt patches. The first thing I do with pants to be used for fabric is cut out the waistline and pockets.

Then I was left with long, flat strips of fabric that I cut into standard 5" squares.

Jeans! Instant stash builder.


I paired the denim squares with some charm squares. The fabric in the charm pack has a nautical theme and the colors work well with shades of blue. I made some nine patch blocks to be worked into a quilt top with some sashing and a border.

 Originally I considered making a disappearing nine patch quilt, but I like these so much I think I am going to leave them as is. I love the sea animals most of all in this collection.

Unfortunately I love making quilt tops and then when it comes to actually quilting the layers together I seem to need a little push to get going and finish them up. I have some Christmas presents to complete! But it is always refreshing to take some time out and do something different.

Have a great day out there in blogland!


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