Friday, May 31, 2013

What I Learned

 Each quilt I make 
can tell a story, 
can teach me new skills
can remind me what not to do.

Having just finished my red and white sampler,
here is my "Beware List."

1. No matter how much you clip threads on the
back of the quilt before you baste it together,
red threads will think it's funny to wiggle into the
middle of a white square.  They'll lay there waiting
to see if you notice.

And when you do, they instantly grow barbs
that embed in the batting, making them immoveable.

I bought this nifty gadget from Clover and hoped
that it would easily snag those red varmints 
so I could drag them out of.

I only got it to work twice.
Don't know if I didn't have the right technique
or those red threads were simply to strong.

Not wanting to poke a hole in the fabric,
I was very cautious with how much wrestling I wanted to do.
So my best solution, was to use a larger embroidery needle
and try to swipe them under a nearby seam.
In most cases, that worked the best.
They're still there, but contained.

2.  Sometime while hand quilting,
you're going to poke your finger and bleed.
Do you bleed on a red square?
No, only on white ones.
Best solution, your own spit.

3. Not all basting safety pins are created equal.
I had bought a few extra at a chain store with a coupon,
thinking, what a deal.
But: not true.
They were flimsy and the worst part
was that they left small black dots wherever
they had poked into the fabric.
When I basted the quilt I tried not to
use a safety pin on the white fabric, but in
a few cases where I did, I was left a reminder.

Guess what?
A small black dot on the white.
I'm assuming it was some petroleum based product to
keep the pins smooth and shiny.

Those pins have all been gathered up and are GONE.
The tiny dots are still there, but aren't too noticeable with
the quilting. Thank goodness.

4.  Sometimes the thread color that you use when
piecing does matter.
When I was piecing the blocks together,
I didn't pay much attention and alternated
between using white thread and red thread,
whatever happened to be on the machine.

When a block consists of only two colors, you can't be changing
the thread every two inches.

But there are places where I stitched white to white and
used a red thread, and darned if I can't see that
red thread casting a pink glow into the seam.
I should have been more careful, or less lazy,
and maybe changed the thread in different circumstances.
Note to self: Sometimes the thread color matters.

5. If you are working on a quilt that has large areas of
white fabric,
every loose hair from any passing
human or animal will instantly become attracted and stick
to the surface of the quilt.
The same goes for every fuzz ball or floating speck in the air.
I am not washing this quilt anytime soon,
So I have spent a lot of time rolling the lint roller over the surface.

And have captured most of those cling ons.

Until Next Time-

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Big Push

18 months ago
Sentimental Stitches began a series
 called Just Takes 2,
with quilt blocks to create a
red and white sampler
 to commemorate
the quilt show,
Infinite Variety,
 Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts, March, 2011.

Red and white quilts are so traditional
and beautiful.
I knew I wanted to join in.
So with 7 yards of Kona's Rich Red and
7 yards of Kona Snow,
I started making the blocks each month.
The quilt's 100 blocks fit together like
a puzzle.  Sometimes I was caught up,
but most times I was behind.
Finally, last December came the big push,
and the quilt top was finished within the year.

The second stage was to hand quilt it.

The top measured 79" x 98".
It became my evening entertainment and
the nap time distraction for the next 7 1/2 months.
My goal was to finish the quilt when I
finished my Denver Nana time.

With only weeks left,
came another big push.
Over the weekend
I finished quilting the border,
stitched the binding,
completed the label,
(a hand pieced block that didn't quite turn out the right size)
added a sleeve,
and took a few pictures.

The quilt is ready to be part of the
Colorado Quilting Councils
2013 Capitol Quilt Show
July 29 - October 10.

I was pretty excited about
having finished this extensive project.
Would I make another red and white quilt?
You bet.
There's something beautiful and historical
about this two color scheme.
I have officially moved back home,
my day to day Nana days are over,
at least for the moment.
And Running Man and I
are enjoying watching the
 sunlight dance and sparkle on the water.
Until Next Time-

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Sweet Cupcakery Duo

 Elizabeth and I,
The Sweet Cupcakery Duo,
wanted to make our final cupcake treat,
molto bueno
In other words,
we wanted to end our baking relationship
 with a cupcake
that would cause the co-workers
begging for more.

We decided that the rich
flavors of both chocolate and salted caramel
would be the ideal combo.
It's like a marriage made in heaven.

We used the basic chocolate cake recipe
Enhancing a basic cake mix is a 
perfectly acceptable alternative to scratch baking
especially with our busy days.

Being a mile high in elevation,
the high altitude adjustments just become part of
the baking experience so
the cupcakes turned out perfect.

Once the chocolate cupcakes were slightly cooled,
we poked numerous holes in the tops
and poured about a tablespoon 
of caramel sauce over each one.
We let that caramel goodness soak into the cake.
Instead of making our own caramel
we took the easy route and used a jar
of caramel sundae sauce.

The frosting was a Salted Caramel Buttercream.
Using a basic American Buttercream recipe
we added some caramel  sauce and 
a generous pinch of sea salt.

The frosting was sweet, creamy and buttery
with just a hint of salt.

With an extra drizzle of caramel,
a few sprinkles of Fleur de Sel
and a Dove Milk Chocolate Caramel 
perched on top, it was

Too Much?

We don't think so!
And neither did the co- workers.
The cupcakes were gone in minutes.
Until Next Time-

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Skills for My Resume

The first thing a person needs 
to when changing careers is to
update their resume.

With my current employment 
coming to a close this week,
I needed to think about what new or
 refreshed skills I had acquired.

Here's what I'm thinking about adding:

1.  Being able to do repetitve activities
with a continual smile and enthusisam.

2. Being able to stay up with a body in continual motion.

3. Being able to motivate or distract or redirect
a body that's in continual motion.

4. My increased ablitiy for problem
and puzzle solving.

5. Being able to keep all the balls
bouncing at the same time.

6.  Being able to wipe away a tear and add a  kiss
to make it all better again.

With these added skills,
I'm sure there's a new opportunity
just waiting for me.

Until Next Time-

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bag of Tricks

 A good cook always has a well
stocked pantry.

A magician always has an extra
card up their sleeve.

A quilter always has a great "go to"
quick and easy baby quilt
stashed in the closet.

When a new member of the family 
arrives on the scene, a Great Auntie,
needs to be prepared.

I know most long time quilters,
generally,  have a couple of quick
"go to" designs that make wonderful gifts
for new babies.

Over the years fabric designers have
created some wonderful fun fabric panels
that can easily be bordered and bound.

I keep my eyes open for cute ones and
their coordinating fabrics and keep a small stockpile
for those special occasions. 

I loved this ABC flannel panel.
The coordinating fabrics were bright and fun.

Even if a quilt is simple doesn't mean
that construction techniques can be neglected.
 Adding the narrow inner border, 1 ", and 
the wider outer border, 5", 
still requires measuring carefully and  sewing
a close to 1/4" seam.

Even a simple quilt needs to end up a 
rectangle without wobbly edges.

A design like this also gives me a
 perfect venue to practice some simple
machine quilting designs.
These spirals aren't hard, but technique is still important.

We all know quality fabric isn't inexpensive.
Even this simple quilt will end up with a price tag of
about $60.
Keeping the width under 40 inches
is one economical thought.
So the idea of taking a preprinted panel
and surrounding it with a couple of borders is:
simple - yes
fun - yes
a place to practice skills - yes
inexpensive - not really
full of love to wrap the newest baby in - yes

 Until Next Time-

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Days Are Numbered

 May, 2013 
seemed a long way off
a year and a half ago.

With Running Man's blessings
and his total support
I agreed to become 
 the Nana nanny,
  watching and nurturing and loving 
these two little grand babies.
while their mamas returned to 
their careers.

I was committed for 18 months,
living in Denver during the week and
returning home on the weekends.

We wanted 
 these little ones to be able
 to stay at home as long as they could
before having to adjust to a different situation.

With the flip of the calendar,
my days are now numbered and
in just a few short weeks, my life will
change once again.

We've developed a pretty special relationship,
these two special little people and me,
and even without our daily play dates

I know we'll always have a special bond.

Until Next Time-

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Think I'll Put My Winter Boots Away

We needed to celebrate!
Jump for joy!

Clap our hands!
And stomp our feet!

It was Monday and we didn't have

Sanford said, "Nana, we need to make
And he was right.

Chris of Cafe Surce' Farine
posted a wonderful recipe for 
These seemed perfect for our
"winter must be over...please"

The cupcakes tasted like a scrumptious
 vanilla pound cake, but
were still light and were able to hold up
all that wonderful frosting.

The frosting is, well...
perfect, tart and sweet.

Along with some cream cheese
this recipe also included
pink lemonade concentrate.
It made the perfect pink color and
 just the right flavor combination.

My little helper and I
decided we would also do a
photo shoot outside just to
prove there wasn't any snow.

Watch out, cupcakes on the ground!

Someone needed a closer look.

Just a taste.

These were perfection on a plate.
What better way to celebrate.

Until Next Time-

Monday, May 6, 2013

Still in the Swing of Things

A natural part of childhood
is swinging on a swing.

Once you initially get going,
you need to add some of your own
leg power and muscle to keep up the momentum.
Otherwise, gravity will make you
go slower and slower until you stop.

 And you're just left hanging there, going no where.
 There's a physics lesson in there somewhere.

I've been working on my red and white sampler quilt
for a year and a half.
That includes the piecing and,
now since January, 
 the handquilting.

I counted today.
I have 8 blocks to go (out of 100), plus 
a narrow border and
the binding.

I've got new momentum.
I'm in full swing
  Until Next Time-

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Happy May Day Quilt

 One of my antique quilts 
reminds me of May Day:
flowers, and high expectations 
of warmer weather.

April showers bring May flowers.

 Antique Tulip Applique
Red, Green and Cheddar
approximate age mid nineteen century
91" x 77"

The quilt itself is in great shape.
The red fabric though is shredding and
 is very fragile.
But the flowers are happy and the green
is that lovely shade of poison green
that I love.

The cheddar adds a special color element.

There are a few pieces of red that 
have stood the test of time.
The red  binding is very narrow, but has

The alternating plain blocks are
quilted with tiny even stitches.

The basket pattern is consistant in all the blocks,

but the floral arrangement is different in each basket.
How fun is that!

 And what do these may flowers bring?
Happy thoughts and sunshine smiles
And wishes for a wonderful Spring.

Except for the front range here in Colorado

Look at our spring weather!
Until Next Time-