Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chocolate Rye . . . Oh My

I love to cook with my preschoolers.  Since we were learning the letter "B" this week I decided to break out my Crockpot to bake in for the first time this year.  Usually we make a yeast bread, but this year we made Banana Bread.

When we make bread I always have the kiddos make butter with me.  I was in kindergarten when I made butter for the first time.  My teacher gave each one of her students a small glass baby food jar with some cream.  I'm pretty sure Mrs. Handly would approve of my plastic bottle. :-)   I empty a 16 oz. water bottle into my coffee maker for cup #2 and then fill it halfway with cream and a pinch of salt before transporting to school.  I learned the first year 3/4 of the way doesn't give the cream enough room to move around and actually make butter.  We shook that bottle a while.  When the time is right I take the bottle out of my chill bag and we give each child a turn (or two) to shake the bottle really hard.  I usually finish it off.  The butter is done when the butter solids completely separate from the buttermilk.  There will be a hard ball of butter sloshing around in the buttermilk.

The best part of making butter is the buttermilk byproduct.  Because it's still fresh the buttermilk tastes like sweet milk.  Most of the kids are so excited to try it, and I have at least one every year try it even though they're scared and realize how good it is.  Buttermilk in stores has already been cultured, but ours never is, so it's much more palatable to a preschooler.
Chocolate Rye Bread
Progress continues on Love Never Fails.  I have fixed the bottom and am now filling in the diamonds.
The original bottom center read "LOVE".  I have free handed my last name in there.  That was either bold or foolish considering how many mistakes I have already made using the pattern.  I'm happy to say things worked out.
The dress is nearly finished.  School started nearly a month ago, and stitching has been mostly ignored.  I think I just need to force myself to stitch an hour a day whether I feel like it or not.  I'm hoping to have this piece finished by the Homespun Gathering in a couple of weeks.  That's probably very ambitious, but if I'm not done the goal will have gotten me closer than I might have been otherwise.
I have been looking for a replacement coffee mug for several years.  I bought two stoneware cups from Target around 8-10 years ago--one blue, one green.  Of course there are others in the cabinets, but these were stoneware, felt great, looked great, and were the perfect size.  In general, the others are ignored.   The blue cup's handle finally broke off a several years ago, so I was down to the green.  First, it developed crazing.  Then, there was a tiny hairline crack developing along the side.  From time to time, as I'm drinking one of my many cups, I hear the sounds of the crack lengthening. 

Finally, a our church's choir Christmas (German themed) dinner arrived.  We hear and receive the music we will sing at Christmas.  This dinner, a couple of weeks ago, got me to thinking.  I could use a beer stein for my coffee.  We don't drink anything stronger than coffee in my house, but vessels are fair game.  A little surfing later I came up with this beauty of a beer mug, and I'm totally in love.  It feels fabulous in hand.  It was made by hand.  It can be microwaved or placed into the dishwasher.  The best part of the mug is its 20 oz. size.  I get a full 16 oz. of coffee and there is still enough room for milk if I'm not using cream. :-)  I'm strongly considering the 32 oz. size for the ice when I make iced coffee.    This mug has been such a blessing and a gift. :-)

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mondo Bag

Today I packed my bags and headed to the quilt shop.  This month's Bag Ladies class taught the Mondo Bag.  My stitching speed was in the top 10% of the class before lunch, but after Sewing Fatigue set in, and I was drawing on my ability to put my nose to the grind stone and get each step completed.  In the south we say "getterdun", and I did.  Class was from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00, and I finished up around 5:30.  Some left without completing the bag, but our teacher told us she would stay until we had all gone.  God bless her!  There were a couple of other ladies still sewing away when I left, so I didn't feel so bad.
the lining with sneak peek of inner pocket

A closer look at the outside of the bag

All done. :-)

 My husband and I lived in Japan for three years.  We came home with an 8 month old and good friends I thought I may never see again.  I am happy to say after 16 years I was able to reunite with one of those friends, and this week she taught me how to make a beautiful Mondo Bag.  I can't tell you how blessed I feel to have that connection again.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.



Thursday, August 11, 2016

First Birthday

It has been one year, this week, since I started this blog.  I've enjoyed getting to know you as I share my heart.  I've heard it said that some bloggers blog as a way to chronicle their personal life journeys.  I believe that is what this blog is for me, but I do enjoy sharing my life with those around the world who might also love the same things I do.  For all of you who have commented and become followers I want to say, "thank you".  I really do cherish you.

Before we update you on my quilting progress I do want to share some stitching progress.   The dressmaker has arrived and she's done fabulous work.  We decided the indigo dress was appropriate to the time period of the 1850s and matched the indigo jacket worn by Mr. Halland House.  Yes, this is a wedding sampler to retire the original stitched in 1999.
"Love Never Fails"
Last Saturday a friend and I went to our local Farmer's Market.  It was fun seeing friends in their booths and grabbing some produce.  The last time I was there I got some raw honey.  This time I got a sampler of local cave aged cheese.  I was blown away by the mildness of the jalapeno gouda.  The maker said the raw milk is left alone, but the jalapenos have to be boiled before adding to the cheese.  This reduces the heat significantly.  How significantly?  Her four year old can eat the cheese.  That's mild.  If you live in the States and have never had raw milk cheese this is a treat.  The closest I have ever tasted in complexity is Kerry Gold cheddar.  I think it comes from a similar grass fed diet.  I'm waiting to open these until I can bake some bread from a special recipe I have.  I know it will be heaven. 
After getting back from the market I talked my husband into taking me to our local quilt shop for the first time.  I was quite surprised by all the incredible farmland beauty on the second half of our trip.  We had been there a while before realizing there was no service for either one of us.  Our son now has the number to the quilt shop.  While there I signed up for a Mondo Bag class, got some fabric strips and other important bag items.  One of the shop ladies was the wife of our former Singles Minister at church.  He's been the senior pastor of a local church for nearly 20 years now, and I hadn't seen this sweet woman for almost the same length of time.  

I'm not afraid of asking for help and definitely needed some on the triangle sections of the border.  She graciously helped me.
OH, that's how I lay that out.
While I was in the quilt shop my husband shopped the Farmer's Market next door.  This is a tiny town and there was plenty of room in the open area next to the shop.  We couldn't help but browse through the antique shop across the street.  Tempting treasures included wooden shoes, firkins, a speculaas mold, a mule chest, and on and on.

All that antiquing made my husband hungry, so off to a barbecue (smoked meat) we went in that same block.  The food was good, and what's not to love about iced tea served in a canning jar.  It's a southern thing.

Wednesday I made it down to the quilt shop to prep my Mondo bag for the class on Saturday.  I need to iron the squares onto the glue dot fabric, but there will be four sections just like the one below. I can't wait to see this one through. 

As promised I want to update you on quilting progress.  Last week I dug back into the quilt knowing I would start school this week.  There is always a lot of preparation before the kiddos get there.  I was all set to cut out my last group of strip sets for the checkerboard blocks.  The iced coffee would keep my eyes open and my mind sharp.  I really love listening to the Alex Anderson podcast as I work on all things quilty.  
I wanted to sew through these quickly, so I piled the 5 square strips in order of sewing for the 25 patch blocks.
I think Abigail is less interested in being my quilt companion, but she will come in if she thinks there is a bug or blue tailed skink.  They've been really bad this year, but I can't help but think the woods behind us make things worse.
I'm really wanting to iron and square up the blocks, but I think I wait until I head to the quilt shop on Saturday and ask how I'm supposed to iron these seams before I make things hard on myself.  
I put the Audible app on my phone last week, and have been listening to my favorite quilting series--in order this time.  Jennifer Chiaverini is a very talented author, and I can highly recommend her books.

Second book in the story's chronological order 

I could no longer wait to see the quilt so I spread 49 of 80 navy and cream blocks on my bed.  This will be a huge accomplishment when complete.  I feel so blessed to have attempted something that stretches me and the determination to see it through. 

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Making Some Progress

Thank you for your comments on my last post.  I have heard how blogging is waning from where it was a few years ago, but I still love the blogging family out there, and wouldn't trade y'all for anything.

 I'm very happy to say this quilt is moving forward.  It continues to give me opportunity to push through adversity, but it's moving forward.  Wahoo!  Abigail continues to be my faithful quilting companion.  If she's not already in the dinning room, I find her joining me before I've cut or sewn very much.

It all began with lighting a wonderfully scented candle.
I found the thread stand, and it works extremely well.  I should have read the manual a long time ago.
Constant breaking thread meant I eventually wound the bobbin by hand.  It was definitely not the tension.  After the thread continued to break while sewing the seams I looked up my thread on an online quilting board.  Aurifil seems to have a personality.  Some machines love it, and some don't.  Mine loved it the day I pieced the chain blocks.  This day it didn't.

I thought I was awake when I started this quilt day.  I was wrong, so I joyfully scooped up some of my favorite ground coffee beans and brewed up a very tall glass of iced coffee.  Ah, that's better.
Having to sew the strip sets twice used up a lot of fabric.  This caused me to get creative on how I was going to get all my fabric out of what it left.  I might have to order more, but so far so good.
Strip Set A

Strip Set B

At this point in the project I realized I had measured wrong.  
What's a girl to do?  I decided to cut an extra 8" of fabric and strip piece it to the full length white strip.  Moving on.
I'm not worried at all.  I'll cut my 2" strips around the broken area.
Of course, as I'm coming closer to finishing this quilt top I'm thinking about the quilting portion more.  I ordered this stencil online.  I love the curved lines that will complement the straight lines of the pattern.  I love that the line is continuous.  No Tennessee walking needles here. :-)
Since I'm hand quilting this quilt I know it's going to be a while before I finish.  That being said I have given myself a reward.  I may add this fantastic reproduction sampler to my stash as soon as I finish.   The designer is part of our local stitching group, and this gave us an opportunity to to see it in person.  It's stunning.  I wanted to run right out and order it, but I need some incentive to finish this quilt.  You may order it here from 123Stitch.  I can promise you.  I'll be ordering Nancy's Sewing Necessaries also.
Nancy Alden 1795
My last box of GA peaches, and boy are they yummy.
Going into the Peach Party
 DH and I had not had a date in a while. We decided to attend the Peach Party happening locally at the same place I picked up our peaches.
Yummy Peach Beverages
 I realized many years ago that chicken tastes a lot better when you cook it on the bone.  I can't just throw out the bones, so stock gets made.  You can do it the hard way in a stock pot, or you can use a crock pot.  I choose the crock pot.  There is no baby sitting like there is with my electric stove.  I'm not quiet sure what I'll do with the stock, but no doubt it will be used soon in something delicious.  
This past week was busier than I expected.  I took the wood out to mom's.  I thought for sure that I'd have a full truck bed load.  It was enough to finish filling up the open area of her shed outside the back door.  She's covered it up with a tarp to keep the weather out, but I couldn't help but think how it was like tucking her wood into bed.  I just might be a little sentimental.
On the way back from Mom's I couldn't help but become completely distracted by the view, so  I stopped and took this picture.  I just love the 3D effect.  Don't you?
Saturday, my husband and I were out and about.  This time we were at a local wholesale store that sells everything from farm tools to . . . cute stuffed fish.  This one kept me company after while my husband bargain shopped.  I picked up a case of canning jars for the peaches, but the peach fishy had to stay at the store.  
DH and I also visited one of my favorite shops.  It is family owned and has been in business for nearly 30 years.  I have collected quite a few hardworking, beautiful pieces, but this week I was realizing my new passion, quilting, was going to need it's own space.  The photo below comes from the store's FB page.  I neglected to take one.  Let's just say we did not go home with this mule chest, but I'm still excited.  You're just going to have to wait until I have more to tell you.  
As a family we went to a jazz concert at a local cave on Saturday.  This cave is pretty famous for hosting jazz and other types of concerts since the 40s.  Because of the cool air coming from the entrance of the cave these events are called  "Cooling at the Cave".

DH and DS walking back from the concert.  Without readers I didn't know they were out of focus, but the photo still makes me smile.
The cave has a spring-fed man made lake.  A few years ago this lake had almost no greenery growing in it.  Some time back a crack developed in the damn resulting a slow drain of the lake.  This Christmas I noticed only a few puddles were there.  The geese were gone, and a weed patch of shrubbery had grown up.  There has been no money to fix the damn, so it has gone unrepaired.  We've had so much rain this summer that the pond has filled again, and the geese have returned.  We had so much rain that a couple of weeks ago the road to the right of the photo was under water for about a day.
I never knew what types of geese were at the pond, but after doing a little research I found they were Canada Geese.  These geese are the only ones that actually nest in TN.

A Canada Goose Close-Up
Well what would this post be without a little stitching.  You can see how far I got before I realized I had stitched the diamonds wrong.  It wouldn't have mattered but it effected the width, so I began pulling it out.
I have now finished restitching the diamonds and am nearly done with the border.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gift to you.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Beginnings

I began a new cross stitch project on July 1st.  The new project was no surprise, but having every color called for was.  When working on a design with multiple colors I've always needed something.  Before going into the store I was telling my husband that I love having easy shopping access to DMC, but I hate  having to squat down in the store to find it.  My Hobby Lobby has always kept it down toward the bottom.  This meant duck walking from side to side looking for your favorite colors.  Well, there's a visual for you.  I walked into the store and found it in a different aisle taller than it was wide--sheer heaven.  I also found different crafts sprinkled in along the aisle--cool.  Time moves on, and today was a good day.
I may have had all the colors, but some would run out quickly.   My floss purchase is resting on the 32 ct. Dirty Linen from Zweigart called for in the design.
July 4th evening was spent with Mom, so after picking up the floss, and supper, we headed out to the farm hopping to out drive the rain storm coming in.  By the time we arrived there was rain and lightening, but not enough to cancel our fun.
After a light supper we had Spingerle cookies and ice cream.  I couldn't help but make a an ice cream sandwich out of mine.
Going into my stash for this new cross stitch project turned into pulling a few things.  Any guesses in who came to visit?
Wanna play?

Play never stops with a paw under the door with Abigail.  She must investigate.

Any guesses what my new project is?

Meanwhile Abigail has finally tuckered out.
At this point things were going swimmingly with Love Never Fails by Barbara Ana Designs.
But, then I moved on to the leaves and stems.
It was off by one which wasn't going to work or I would have left it.
So, I ripped it out and stitched it again to find the same end point (different mistake area)
So, I ripped out to the mistake and re-stitched.
Let's just say that this may be the mistake-filled design, and the one that will build my patient easy going nature.  :-)  I'm really taking it in stride though.  I've said for a long time it's the mistakes that make a project perfect to me.

How do you stitch your pants on?  I like to stitch mine one leg at a time.  If you have stitched this design you will know that I have changed the coat color from black to blue.  Her dress color will be the same blue--DMC 3750.

 There is only one place my task light can go in my living room, so I have switched my chairs and my couch for better stitching support.  The cushion is great in this chair, but the arms are wooden and too high.  This means I'm back in the frame.  I learned with the last project the stand squishes my linen and threads making them shiny.  My solution is a clean rag.  It's not the most beautiful solution, but it works well.  

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.