28 November, 2007

Sweet Comfort

Aren't babies the sweetest?

Number two is on its way for our family. My Hubby, the Monster, and I will be happy to welcome version 2.0 sometime at the end of May.

Here's to a relatively uneventful pregnancy, a good big sister, and more quilts to snuggle with.

23 November, 2007

Here It Is!

After five and a half years I finally finished this quilt. At least every few months in those five years my husband has asked when I was going to finish the quilt, "he likes". Well, Hubby, Here It Is!

I had the design for this quilt in my head ever since I read the Martha Stewart article about Denyse Schmidt, shortly after I started quilting. Out at the store one night I found the perfect fabric, and it sat for nearly a year. The first winter after we got married we lived in a tiny, tiny house. I wanted to get this quilt done for our tiny bed, in our tiny room. I got the top pieced, my sister-in-law's sister brought the backing fabric from an on-line order from Big Horn for me (back when the Canadian dollar was horrible), and then it sat. We moved, and it sat. I made probably ten quilts in the subsequent five years, and still it sat. Finally, this summer I took advantage of one of Hubby's rare days off. The Monster was off the boob so I rented space at the local shop and got it basted. It was quilted during more than a few naps, and I finished the binding last week.

And Hubby's reaction? Rather anti-climactic. He was just happy to have some extra warmth on a chilly night.

20 November, 2007


It's snowing outside. It's about time! I am a big fan of winter. Unfortunately, it being 10:00 pm right now there is not much chance of getting a good picture to post. Maybe tomorrow.

Rather, I am posting a few photos of my dungeon in the basement. Inspired by Kay and others who were posting photos of their sewing/craft spaces I thought I would photograph mine. I did not clean it up before taking the photos. Oh, I wish I could actually call it a studio and be inspired by pretty colours, seeing all my stash at once and lots of space that doesn't have to be cleaned when my mother-in-law comes to visit. Alas, it takes up a large spot in our "New York Open Concept Loft Style" basement. A.K.A an unfinished basement. It was finished at one point but we had a flood during some major rains two years ago and we haven't been able to afford to rebuild.

All that being said, I have carved out a functional, if cold, space to work. We bought a large carpet remnant for the floor so my feets aren't so cold. A second carpet allows the Monster a soft space to play when I'm folding laundry or jsut trying to get one more strip pieced. The guest bed serves as a design "wall". Our storage shelves hold books, magazines, and notions. All my stash is stored in rubber bins (remember, we flooded...) by colour and fabric type. And I use three desks to work on. Two together allows for basting baby quilts and holding up large quilts when piecing and quilting. The other one is good for layout and cutting.

It ain't pretty but it works. Now, when we do finish the basement there is a studio space planned just for me. Should we take bets on just how long it will be before I get it?

12 November, 2007

Check Out That Heiny

I am a firm believer in the backs of quilts. It is a rare quilt for me that has a single fabric as the backing material. Sure, when I started this is what I did. And the odd baby quilt will still have only one fabric (it is easy when one width of fabric covers the whole back). My theory is that the back of the quilt is still part of the quilt. It's not like it will never be seen - unless you keep it flat on the guest bed that never gets used. And don't get me start on labels...

There are the schools of thought that piece leftover fabric from the front. I've done this, but not been happy with the seemingly haphazard look - if you just use chunks of fabric. Rather, I like to actually have a design on the back. Often it is dictated by the fabric, as you can see in the first example below. Sometimes I am replicating a design used for the front. And sometimes it is just a simple design that showcases a couple of fabrics. I encourage you to step out of the neutral, solid backing and add some design to your heiny.

This weekend I lived up to my name and with the help of a quilting buddy I got the backs to two tops finished and ready for the long-arm. Here are the fronts and backs.

Circles and Stripes - Front, then Back

Black and White Retreat Quilt - Front, then Back

Now, I can't wait to get these quilted and put the labels on. I am making progress on the albatross of projects I have.

04 November, 2007

Hansel and Gretel

Okay, hands up. All those who have the Flour, Sugar, Coffee, and Tea canister set with matching bread box? I'll take those who grew up with a set too. Me? My parents still have their stainless set sitting on the counter in the house where I grew up.

My flours and sugars are in glass canisters, coffee is stored in the freezer, and tea gets its own cupboard. No room in my current, awkward kitchen for the breadbox. The weekly loaf or two are simply left on the counter by the toaster. Not pretty, but handy.

Between the nanny, my late night peanut butter and honey sandwichs, and my Monster's love for bread and butter the loaf is usually gone in a few days. But this week we cut out bread from the Monster's diet due to yeast issues. I now know just how much bread she actually eats! There was a lot of stale bread come Friday.

In my mom's house there was always an old baking pan in the bread box filled with stale bread, drying for future use as bread crumbs. Rather than dry things out I prefer to blitz the days old bread in a food processer or mini chopper. I get crumbs that are then stored in the freezer for use in many yummy ways. Sure, I could blitz a fresh piece of bread, or even buy the fancy panko crumbs that so many professionals rave about. Let's be honest, though, the average home cook - a mother with kids - doesn't have the time or energy for that. Sure, for special occasions or the right piece of trout I will gladly break out the wallet and splurge on panko. But for homemade macaroni and cheese topped with crumbs and melted butter, or binding lamb meatballs, I will gladly use my frozen multigrain crumbs - as i did when making food for the freezer this weekend.

Tonight I made comfort food. It was a snowy day, filled with swimming lessons, groceries, and gate building. We needed something to fill our bellies and put a smile on our face as we watched This Old House. It required meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and buttered brussel sprouts - one of my favourite meals of all time. Unfortunately the Monster hasn't fully learned to appreciate brussel sprouts so she had some steamed peas. But the meatloaf was the star.

Okay, no photo of the dinner itself. Plating is NOT my forte. Here it is right out of the oven.

This is my basic recipe. I use bison instead of beef or pork. The meat is much leaner and has a good flavour. If you don't have access to bison beef will work well. I add the minced veggies to bulk it up. Originally I did this because bison was more expensive and 1 pound made a small meatloaf, but now we like it this way. I've also used mushrooms and peppers as part of the veggies.

Bison Meatloaf

1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound ground bison
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp ketchup
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
A couple of good dashes of worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp brown sugar
Dash of worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celcius.
2. Peel the carrot and onion. Cut the carrot, onion, and celery into 2-3 cm chunks. Mince, along with the garlic, in a food processor or mini chopper.
3. Cook the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes. Most of the water should be evaporated. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes.
4. Once cool, add to remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. A spoon just won't do, you need to mush it all together with you hands. You don't want to overmix, so stop once it is incorporated.
5. Shape into a mound in a meatloaf pan, or pat into a loaf shape on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet.
6. Mix glaze ingredients together and spread on top.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.