30 January, 2009
29 January, 2009
27 January, 2009
26 January, 2009
21 January, 2009
I've had this Dick and Jane fabric for a while. She is obsessed with the Dick and Jane books. Do you know how annoying those are to read and reread to the enjoyment of a 2 year old? Maybe I was hoping that the quilt would quell her desire to hear the stories by encouraging her to make up her own with Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Spot on the quilt. Yeah, foolish thinking on my part.
This is very simple construction. Two pieces of fabric sewn together and some circle appliques covering the seam. To quilt I simply outlined the circles and copied the diamond pattern on the big piece of fabric.
There is one more bit of work to do, or rather, re-do. I did the binding by machine - a big mistake. I've never done that before and I won't do it again. One quiet night I will take the seam ripper to the stitches and sew it down properly, by hand. Of course, I have about a dozen more sketches of other quilts to make. And a list of little girls I know who would love a doll quilt...
20 January, 2009
18 January, 2009
This quilt was truly an improvisational piece. In a fit of insomnia a few months I bundled up and headed to the basement. On the table was the doodle I'd saved. The Monster was only scribbling, but it captured me and I kept it. From that drawing I started pulling fabric, cutting some squares and strips, swiped my rotary through the squares, and sewed. As you can see, some blocks only got swiped once, some twice, some here, and some there.
When I started I had no plan. This was definitely about the process. Hell, I didn't even know if this was going to end up as a quilt. Sometimes you just need to start something and see what happens. Along the way I realized that it was going to turn into a vibrant quilt and I needed to start thinking about the end result. At that point I began to plan block sizes and total number of blocks. And because I didn't cut enough fabric that first night I could actually cut to better size and end with less waste.
16 January, 2009
13 January, 2009
And I liked the idea of the popular Yellow Brick Road quilts. But again, I couldn't bring myself to buy a pattern for what looked so simple. Rather than try and copy it I drafted my own pattern. When I went to make the quilt I decided I didn't want the look of a whole bunch of squares and rectangles. So I combined the wonky log cabin look with the pattern I drew and came up with this.
(Sorry about the crappy photo, I could only find a tiny one. The original is on the old computer and that's packed away for the renos.)
When you are looking to break free from patterns and kits, remember you don't have to throw out everything from traditional quilting. It is always still a good idea to use a scant quarter inch seam, press well, and trim your blocks square. You can still take those traditional ideas and make them into something new. Don't be afraid. Just start sewing.
11 January, 2009
So rang the constant tune of my nephew for three days in Baja. This is what happens when you take a 6 year old deep sea fishing and he actually catches something. As long as we were eating fresh the rest of us didn’t care whose was whose, but this was vitally important information for a 6 year old boy. Puts a whole new meaning to the adage that if your kids help you cook they will be more likely to eat what comes to the table.
It’s not surprising that we ate a whole lot of fish in Baja. If Hubby or my dad had their way it would have been every single day that we ate seafood. Between meals out and our own fishing adventures we captured almost half the days.
There were the shrimp tacos at beachfront palapas restaurants that were so sweet you thought it was miniature lobsters inside the tortilla. When you risk your rental car and the wrath of a two year old who is sick of bumpy roads to check out the next beach and see the shrimp boats right there you have full confidence in the freshness of that shrimp.
There was the grilled sierra mackerel, dorado, and tuna that you caught that day. Okay, so the boat broke down and Hubby had to drive the boat by literally holding the motor in a straight position. At least you had your fish. Although, that was iffy when the boat and the truck brought down to haul it got stuck in the sand once you finally made it back to the launch beach – and the fish was still on board. The antics of many locals and one wiry American with a winch on his truck just for this purpose finally got things sorted out and we were on our way home with our fish. After a quick blitz of garlic, lime, and tequila we grilled filets of all three. My brother made a fantastic salsa with sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, lime, garlic, and tequila. Halfway through dinner we had to throw more fish on the grill because between 11 people the fish was quickly disappearing. That’s okay, it meant I had leftovers to make an improvised fish taco for breakfast the next day. Can I just say that sierra mackerel is my new favourite fish? Light but full-flavoured, oily but just a bit fishy to allow you taste the ocean in every bite.
Oh, and there was the fish that Hubby caught on his two day adventure to spear fish in the rocks right in front of our place. It wasn’t the big one that almost got away, but was grabbed by a moray eel before Hubby could spear it again. Yes, I said moray eel. He was spear fishing and I was snorkeling, I saw it all. We let the eel have it. Instead, we had to settle for the 8 inch grunt that he first caught. My dad set to cleaning it for him and we grilled it whole. Tasty, but barely enough for more than a bite by the adults in our group. Not bad for two whole mornings spent with the spear... We won't discuss the attempts at surf-casting.
And then there was the Mexican sushi. Hubby and I went out for dinner by ourselves one night and decided to go to the palapas that had sushi. A risky venture, no doubt. There was no Japanese master behind the cooler of fresh fish, but there was wasabi. The rolls were on par with cheap ones we can get at home – fine, but not great. The sashimi of snapper, tuna, and dorado (all local) was fantastic. The fusion of the fresh fish, decently cut, with a cilantro sauce was spicy, clean, and new. With some of our remaining catch I tried to recreate the dish back at the beach house. I didn’t quite capture it, but my brother said my version was even better.
Serve this sauce with a fresh, sushi quality fish. Preferably you will cut it with a proper knife and not some crappy serrated blade that is all you can find in the rental house. Do not, however, let the fish sit in the sauce for long. There is a lot of lime in it and this will effectively cook the fish like a ceviche. We were also going to try it on some grilled fish, but it didn’t last through the raw stuff. Even my nephew was eating it. Of course, his reaction was only meh after he found out it wasn’t with the fish he caught.
Cilantro Sauce for Fish
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and ribbed
1. Blitz the ingredients together in a blender.
2. Pour on to a platter, lay freshly sliced sushi quality fish on top, and serve.
09 January, 2009
There is no combination - aside from peanut butter and chocolate - that is more perfect together than kids and water. Any slide show of a trip to the ocean has to include kids playing in the water.
Grown-ups can play too. Here was the day we had a big water fight.
On a calmer day Hubby took Little Miss Sunshine into the ocean for a quick dip. She didn't like it the first time, but was happy the second time we did it. Alas, no photos of the second time because that was after the camera took its own dip in the ocean.
Finally, no pool is really a good pool unless you cannonball. I snapped this great shot of my nephew just before we began our cannonball contest. No surprise, my 250 pound father won!
06 January, 2009
El Oasis is a fitting name for its location. Up in the Sierra la Laguna moutains the town of San Bartolo is a respite from the sandy haze of the Baja desert and the ocean winds. Lush and filled with wildly blooming flowers, citrus, and appropriately for the season, pointsettas San Bartolo promised a view and some tasty road food. Oh how it lived up to its promises.
We were travelling with some slightly less adventurous eaters; adventurous in tastes, not necessarily in locale. I think my family was nervous at first, stopping at essentially a diner in the middle of Mexico. Inside it was filled with dulces, empanadas, and the cleanest kitchen serving tamales, tacos, and fiery salsa. All fears were allayed with the hairnets. And tastebuds were alive with the olfactory tease of broiling pepppers.
We ate the best tamales any of us have ever had - and my mom used to live along the Texas/Mexico border, accompanied by the purest salsa ever. Broiled jalapenos and tomatoes, put through a grinder. That's it. Nothing else. Heat, sweetness, and the taste of the mountain sun.
Fortified for the day we drank our cervesas and iced teas in the mountain breezes while the neighbourhood chickens serenaded us. Onward for a drive. Not without a dozen tamales wrapped in a plastic bag and some salsa for snacks upon the return to the beach house.