31 May, 2009

Giveaway Winner

Wow!  That was an unexpected response.  I hope I can keep most of you coming back with some new projects and tutorials.  

This was a great experience, I have found so many new sites to explore and blogs to visit.  I'm not going to get a damn thing done at work! And I really appreciate that everybody took the time to actually answer the questions, it was interesting to learn more about how people create.  I would say that most of you go with fabric first, then pattern.  That is generally how I do it. Although, my current project started from an idea of what I wanted the finished quilt to look like and I chose colours and fabrics afterwards. More on that project soon.

On to the winner...

Comment # 213 Nanaan

I have the feeling that this is going to be a great giveaway! just added you to my google reader -- I'm liking what I see.


Oh, and duh, pink/yellow. We're very girly in these parts.

And I actually started to say I start with fabric first, but I think that's a lie. I start with a pattern I want and then go out and buy the fabric. Which is probably why I don't manage to use my stash very well. 

I'll be back this week with reports from the Heritage Park Quilt Show and another quilt to share with you. For now, I'm going to bed.  Work in the morning.  Good news, we found an awesome nanny last week and she starts tomorrow.  The girls love her and Hubby can now get the yard done without endless interruptions and help from The Monster. Bad news, The Monster is reacting to some bites again.  This time we know they are mosquitoes, but she swelling up and welting like last time.  So, who knows how this week is going to go!

30 May, 2009

Taste Adventure - Jicama

Behold the simply boring jicama.  Crisp but rather bland, fresh but neutral.

I can't say the first time I had it.  I do remember an extensive search to find the first one.  Once Hubby and I gave up our weekly trips to the bar on Friday nights we often found ourselves, with roommates by our side, watching Iron Chef and the Chris Isaak Show on our crappy oak cabinet TV.  Somewhere in there we might watch Emeril Live and any other random Food Network show because the rest of Friday night TV sucked.  So I have no clue who made jicama look good, but we became obsessed with finding it.

Every grocery store we went into for years afterwards would warrant a trip to the special vegetable section, where they housed the so-called ethnic veggies, in hopes of seeing the vaguely potato-like root.  This was before we shopped around much, relying on the farmers' market and the neighbourhood grocery store only.  Now I not only know I can find it in most grocery stores, but I know more than a few speciality produce stores which carry it.  And I am thankful for that because I love that root.

The Monster loves crisp veggies, especially peppers.  And Smilosaurus handled greek salad well last weekend, so I thought both of them would enjoy jicama.  I was half right.

Jicama is common in Mexican and some Asian cuisines.  It has a simple, crisp flavour and texture - like a watered down apple or crisped up sweet cucumber.  It takes well to spicy or bold flavours like a sesame vinaigrette or chilis.

To prepare jicama you peel the thin papery skin and slice it, dice it, chop it, or julienne.  I've never eaten it cooked, but it is possible.  Truthfully, I like it as a simple raw veggie, alongside my carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes.  But my favourite way to eat jicama is to add it to slaw, maybe with some apples to compliment the simple flavour, or in a mango jicama salad.  

When I served it last night I gave some to the girls as a simple matchstick first.  The Monster happily ate the pile placed in front of her, munching away as I chopped mango.  Smilosaurus was pretty much indifferent.  I don't think she had a problem with the taste, but the texture was still too crunchy for a girl without molars.  When it came to the salad, Smilosaurus picked out the mango and left a pile of jicama on the tray of her high chair.  I was hoping for leftovers, but both The Monster and Hubby ate more than their fair share.  I guess I better hit the grocery store again.

This is an easy salad.  It is easily dressed up and added to.  If I have it, I will add in some chopped fresh cilantro, minced red onions, or diced peppers.  It is also very good with some shredded savoy cabbage, some additional lime, and fresh chilis.

Mango Jicama Salad

1 jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 ripe mango, finely diced
1 lime, zest and juice
splash of olive oil
generous pinch of chili powder
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together, season.  

28 May, 2009

Off to the Races

If you're here for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway, welcome. The giveaway is in the previous post. In the meantime, enjoy my latest quilt: Wednesday Night Races.

This is my Project Improv quilt. I pieced it entirely from scraps and stash, and sadly barely made a dent in my stash. The blocks are all triangles, pieced like wonky log cabins. I've said it before, it was a challenge to piece the top together and I couldn't avoid a few inset seams, but it worked out well. The whole thing squared up nicely too. (I know it doesn't seem like it in the photo, but it was a breezy day.)

The name came to me after I shared the photo of the top with the Project Improv Flickr group. A couple of people mentioned that it reminded them of flags at a marina. Back in my university days I would join some friends for the Wednesday Night Races at one of the sailing clubs in Halifax. It was an exhilerating, raucous, and slightly scary event for this Prairie gal. My friend did his best to scare the crap out of me, but I always came back. That wasn't entirely the experience with this quilt, but I liked the memory and decided to pay homage with the naming of the quilt.

The entire quilt is quilted with straight lines. I started following one triangle and went around and around it. This I repeated across the quilt with triangles of different sizes and filled in spaces with lines. Very bold. For thread I used a Mettler silk finish 100% cotton, my latest favourite for quilting, in three shades of yellow. White seemed too stark on the coloured parts, but I didn't want something too dark on the white parts. The yellow was perfect.

Sure, I could have used a multi-pieced binding, but because the quilt isn't that large (slightly larger than crib, but I can't remember the exact measurements right now) I thought a single binding would provide a bit of rest to the eye. I picked up a few pieces of Katie Jump Rope and Flea Market Fancy in a sales rack a few weeks ago and the green was perfect.

We had to take pictures in the park across the street from our house because we currently have no front steps. The Monster was quite keen on holding the quilt herself for me to take a picture. How could I say no?
Wednesday Night Races, along with this quilt, this one, and one more I have to share with you are headed to a show this weekend. My first quilt show! No, not just my quilts, let's not get too excited. But it is the first time I've shared my quilts in public, other than through the blog. If you are in the Calgary area please stop my Heritage Park Festival of Quilts for the show. They hang hundreds of quilts throughout the historic park - on buildings, fences, clotheslines, and in some of the old houses. It is quite the sight, really. I'll post some pics next week.

27 May, 2009

One Sort of Dinner Party

The Kitchn Cure wrapped up this weekend, with directions to take what we've learned with our new skills, clean spaces, and refreshed pantries and hot a dinner party.  Well, dinner parties at our house are way off the table these days.  Not because of the kids - that never stops us - but because our house is surrounded and seemingly filled with dirt.  Ah, renovations.

So it stops us from hosting make your grilled pizza night or a barbeque, but it doesn't stop the family from gathering for some relatively dry finger food on a child's picnic table in the midst of mountains of topsoil.  This is our kind of dinner party.  We're all together and munching on some tasty morsels of smoked provolone, Gull Valley tomatoes, cherries, and lemonade.  Hey, the dishes coordinated - a mark of a true hostess.

Regardless of whether your dinner party is in the dirt or around your mid-century modern teak dining table there are a few basics to keep in mind.

First, it is important to always provide adequate napkins or even finger bowls if your food is particularly messy.  If you are serving something greasy or sticky you might even want to consider a little package of baby wipes.  They are truly multi-purpose.  You should see what they do for dirt covered pickles.
Second, a good party is about more than the food.  Decor is usually provided with flowers, simple lighting, and perhaps some great tunes.  The right ambiance helps set the mood for a raucous gathering around a pot of chili or a quiet night with old friends.  In our case, the mountains of topsoil provided both an excellent backdrop for our gathering, it also provided some post-meal exercise.  

That brings up the third point, plan for some activity or entertainment.  This can be the food itself if the making of dinner is interactive, like pizza or tacos.  Or you can plan a post-soccer game barbeque or post-dinner game of Cranium.

Next, don't be afraid to get messy.  Lick your fingers of the hot sauce from the jerk chicken or the burger juices running down your wrist.  After all, that's what napkins were invented for.

Thanks for joining me for The Kitchen Cure.  And speaking of The Kitchn, pop on over there for my guest posts on making baby food.  And if you are joining me from there, welcome!

26 May, 2009

Trust Me

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

It's the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

I'm still feeling generous so I thought I would share more fabric.  It would make sense, then, to show you the fabric I plan to give away.  Yes, that would make perfect sense.  Unfortunately, my camera is not cooperating right now so I can't download the photos.  You'll just have to trust me.

Come on, you know I can pick the good stuff.  I love putting together based on colour and feel. In fact, quite often I will just pull fabric from my stash for some imaginary quilt. Maybe I'll bring home a new fabric that I bought just because.  Just because I liked it.  So I hit the stash and see what I have that works with it.  Maybe I'll even put that grouping aside for a while and let it simmer.  Maybe I'll let The Monster help me and see what she comes up with.  Maybe I'll even start a project then and there.  No pattern, no plan, just a pile of fabric and a little inspiration along the way.

For the giveaway please leave a comment telling me how you pick fabric for a quilt - does the fabric comes first or the pattern/design?  And tell me which colourway you prefer:

I will pull from my stash 6 fat quarters in the winners choice colourway.  And I have no problem shipping internationally (I'm in Canada) so please drop me a comment by May 31

Don't forget to visit the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway site to see the rest of the blog giveaways. There is some good stuff out there.  Feel free to explore a little here too.

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

24 May, 2009


Thank-you for all your kind comments about the Monster and the return to work.  She has made almost a full recovery now.  She is happily running around in her new rubber boots and keeping Daddy company as he works on the landscaping of the yard. Her arm is much better. And then she fell off the bed today.  Unfortunately she's inherited my propensity to bruise easily.  She is one beat-up looking kid.  And happy as can be!  Daddy was home with her last week and will be home again in the coming days.  Work is work.  I would much rather be quilting, er... home with the girls, but the bills need to be paid, right?

Okay, now on to the real news.  Who won the giveaway?!

The random number generator picked number 11, Michelle. There were 59 comments, but one person commented twice, so I used 58 as the number for the draw.

I hope you like your dots, Michelle.  Treats will be on their way to you in a few days.

Stay tuned this week.  I will be sharing two recently finished quilts and possibly doing another giveaway!  It was my birthday yesterday so I feel like being a little bit more generous. 

21 May, 2009


Thank goodness for grocery lists and meal planning.  No, seriously.  A few months back I made up a master grocery list for the house and started planning our weekly meals.  This was all in attempt to save money and have less wasted food at the end of the week.  Lo and behold, week 5 of The Kitchn Cure asked us to do just.  Glad I could cross that off my list easily and it sure proved itself this week.

After our lovely day on the farm I settled in for a rainy day with the girls, my last on maternity leave. Late morning came and The Monster was just attacking her arm and being beyond fussy. Close inspection revealed a bicep that would make Popeye jealous and a mysterious bite. Knowing a thing or two about bad infections we rustled the neighbours into babysitting Smilosaurus and headed up to the ER.  So much for baking cookies and painting.

So after a week of me back at work, no nanny, and many a trip to and from the hospital for IV antibiotics I was really thankful for a stocked pantry and some pre-planned meal ideas.  Okay, so I didn't exactly stick to my menu plan.  In all fairness, I wasn't planning on arriving home at six every night.  But I knew we had some good enough stuff around for sweet and sour meatballs and mac and cheese.  Besides, how could I compete with hospital popsicles?

18 May, 2009

Sad Days and Giveaways!

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

Maybe the polka dots will brighten my day?

Today is my last day at home with the girls - back to work tomorrow! Boo hoo. And since we don't have a nanny yet Hubby will be home with the girls. That somewhat eases the pain and makes the transition not so tough. Sort of.

Today is also wet, miserable, and cold. Snow was even falling at one point. To top it off, The Monster is sitting in the emergency room right now. She was bitten by something yesterday at the farm and her arm is swollen, red, and hard today. She's not in grave danger, but it sure looks ugly right now. Poor girl. What a way to spend a special day.

That's enough doom and gloom, on to the good stuff. I'm finally hosting a giveaway! To celebrate my return to work I thought I would try to share some cheer with the world. This is an 8-pack of cheery polka dots and liberal interpretations of polka-dots. Some are older and I'm not sure where they're from, but they make me smile. And there is some Amy Butler and Denyse Schmidt in there too. Each piece is more or less a fat quarter. I will send the winner of the giveaway the whole lot of them, and maybe a few other treats.

To win, leave a comment on this post between now and May 24 at 8:00 pm MST. I will draw a random number to determine the winner. Winner will be informed that night. Make sure I can contact you by email.

This week will be more than a bit crazy, so I won't be posting. But stay tuned for next week, I have a few quilts to share.

The Monster did indeed have a bad infection from a venomous spider bite! I didn't even know there were venomous spiders in Alberta. But after three days of IV antibiotics she is much better. Not that this slowed her down one bit. Me, on the other hand, I'm exhausted. Work was crazy and the week was stressful. I will be handstitching a binding tonight and watching crappy TV.

Farm Visit

Meet Jonathan Wright of Thompson Wright Small Farm.  This summer he and his partner, Andrea Thompson, and all the many folks they have helping out, will be our farmers.  They will also be the farmers of a few hundred other folks who signed up to be part of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that Jonathan and Andrea are running off their farm East of Calgary.

Yesterday I took the girls to meet the farmers, the farm, and of course the animals.  Sadly Hubby was stuck with the necessary landscaping work at home. (One day we will have something other than mud.)  We drove in the first real day of heat and sunshine.  While the girls slept I ruminated on the luxury and necessity of supporting local agriculture through a CSA.

Yes, I said luxury.  Hubby and I have been talking about this a lot lately.  While feeding our family with the best possible ingredients, sourced as locally as possible is of prime importance to us (well, me, mostly) we have to admit that it is a middle class luxury.  It shouldn't be, but it is.  And for now, it is one that we also see as a necessity - as long as we can afford it. Maybe that's why I'm returning to work tomorrow?  It is a necessity - not just for the health of our family, but for the health of a diverse agricultural economy and a diverse farming community.

Jonathan and Andrea are perfect examples of people leading by doing.  They haven't spent a lot of energy getting involved in the foodie community or even selling what they do.  But they've spent a lot of time on their farm, working it and their animals to produce food.  Food, simple food.  Food that contains the sweat of a small family, some horses, water buffaloes, yaks, and the additional sweat of the supporters and helpers that come to the farm to work.

In speaking to Jonathan yesterday he said something that just ran through my brain.  "In order to have a sustainable world, a truly sustainable culture, we have to work."  It echoes comments made by Wade Sirois at the Local 101 event back in March.  He reminded the audience that no matter how you look at supporting local agriculture it means you have to cook.  It all comes back to effort, to work.  I better get The Monster trained up as a sous chef soon because we're going to have a lot of cooking to do this summer, thanks to Jonathan and Andrea's efforts.

This is the second year for the Thompson Wright Small Farm CSA.  In speaking to Andrea yesterday she is excited about the coming months and the supporters they have this year. The commitment from their members is strong, with most at the farm to support the ideals and work, not just get some good groceries.  

The farm is run by animal and people power.  When you drive onto the property you are struck by the lack of a powered tractor and the simplicity of the old metal plow.  I remember my dad showing me the one he used as a boy on the farm, long since rusted and now serving as a jungle gym to city kids visiting the farm.  Not at Thompson Wright.  The metal plow sits clean, almost proud, after recent use readying the fields for this year's crop of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, parsnips, kohlrabi, kale, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic (and more).

The girls were in heaven running around to visit the animals.  Smilosaurus loved to pet the little chicks, but did not like getting licked by King, one of the two water buffaloes on site.  The Monster was fascinated by the chickens, gleefully calling, "Chock, chock chock!" to give them their molasses covered grain.  And who couldn't resist a three week old yak calf named Wild Bill?  Poor little guy lost his mother when he was born so I predict a gentle giant after his stint with bottle feeding is over.

It meant a lot to me to have Andrea, her son, and Jonathan welcome us and our toddler mayhem to the farm.  On the way home The Monster spoke constantly of the horses, mainly Sarah who wasn't big enough to be working yet, and her farm.  No longer was it the farm, it was her farm.  In a way, she's right. I do insist on giving credit where credit is due and that belongs to Jonathan and Andrea.  But they are our farmers.

14 May, 2009

More Chocolate

I have officially reached a point where there can be chocolate in the house and I am not constantly thinking about devouring it.  Shocking, especially to me.  That's what a week of hard core chocolate eating does to you.

On the weekend I co-hosted a baby shaker for one of my new nephews.  It wasn't about cutesy games or pastel-coordinated favours.  It was about friends and family getting together to officially celebrate the arrival of the latest member of Team A.  Rather than resort to hummus and spinach dip we decided on a chocolate theme for the food.  Who doesn't love a party with lots of chocolate?

We had cookies, chocolate covered cream puffs, a large platter of fresh fruit to make us feel somewhat virtuous, and some memorable tasty treats.  This was my chance to try a chocolate blackout cake.  I need special occasions to bake cakes and this was one I was dying to try.  It was a hit at the party, with not even one extra crumb leftover.   Surprisingly I was rather disappointed myself.  Moist cake covered in chocolate pudding covered in cake crumbs - it should have been spectacular.  It was sweet, creamy, and almost fudgy, but it didn't knock my socks off.  I was, however, in the minority with this opinion.

Another hit with The Monster was the chocolate tasting bar.  I chunked up some dark and milk chocolate from Bernard Callebaut, Choklat, and Kerstin's Chocolate for a side by side tasting. There was nothing official or even blind about it.  It was striking to taste the differences.

Bernard Callebaut was smooth and tasted exactly like you would expect the chocolate to taste. Choklat's contribution was also smooth, but distinctively fruity.  I went with their Brazillian 48% Milk and Ocumare 70 % Dark.  They really are unlike anything you've tried - sweet but far from cloying, smooth but not terribly creamy, and fruity without tasting juicy.  Finally, we had two offerings from Kerstin's Chocolate in Edmonton, the Venezuela Dark Milk Chocolate and the Ecuador 72 % Extra Dark.  It is impossible to say what was the crowd favourite, but their was none of the Choklat Milk left.  Of course, that may have been due to the proximity to the edge of the kitchen island and The Monster's sneaky fingers.

Truly, though, my favourite thing about the food was this chili chocolate sauce.  I didn't even make it, my talented mother-in-law did.  When the other co-host and I decided on the chocolate thing we tasked my mother-in-law (and grandma of the star of the show) with bringing something savoury.  We knew she would be up for the challenge, and boy did she step up!  

At the party she served the sauce with some chicken skewers.  On Monday I spooned some warm sauce over grilled pork chops.  And then I cooked some black beans and made a dip by pureeing the sauce and the beans together.  It needed a touch more chopped cilantro at that point, but it was still fragrant and yummy on some rye bread at Julie's house the other day.

Chili Chocolate Sauce
(Adapted from this recipe)

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 poblano chili - grilled, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 ounces red wine
1/4 cup chopped milk chocolate
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine the salt through red pepper flakes into a seasoning mix.
2. Over medium-high heat saute the poblano, onions, and a pinch of the seasoning mix.
3. Add the red wine and chocolate and stir until combined.  Add the chili powder and remaining seasoning mix.  Stir until thickened.  Add the chopped tomatoes and stir.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, puree, and stir in cilantro. 

PS  Who am I kidding? I'm digging out some of the leftover chocolate right now.

Key Lime Pie

From this...

To this.

I delivered the Key Lime Pie quilt to my sister on Mother's Day.  And it was already well-loved. The Monster managed to get some chocolate on it while it awaited packing for the trip.  The dangers of quilting in the dining/living room.

When I finished the quilt top and showed Hubby he commented, "Well, it's not the most exciting quilt you've ever made."  Maybe not, but it is purely me and very much my sister.  The circles, of course, are me.  The colours are perfect for her.  Besides, I believe it is good to push yourself a little outside your comfort zone.  There is still a lot of contrast, but it is definitely softer than most of my work.

I started off with half-square triangles, but quickly realized that it wouldn't give me the look I wanted.  So I trimmed the squares I'd already cut to make the triangles and went for these right angle triangles instead.  They still didn't end up how I expected.  I'd actually wanted to piece them yellow to yellow, brown to brown in order to make it more like an equilateral triangle. I did not, however, think about the directionality of the fabric.  Sometimes, the third time is the charm.

After appliqueing the circles I free-motioned quilted the whole thing, with some extra circles here and there.  And I quilted around the circles to make them pop a bit more.  With everything so similar in colour value I needed to do something more to make them stand out.

On the back was a single piece of this Amy Butler.  No label yet because it was lost somewhere in transit.  I made it and thought I brought it with me to Edmonton, but I couldn't find it anywhere there nor at home when we returned.  Next time.

Speaking of next time, I'm making another quilt with this fabric.  I can't resist, especially after seeing them all laid out next to each other here.  It can be one to work on without thinking about it once I return to work next week. 

12 May, 2009

Simple Things

I'm a little behind this week.  In so many ways I am behind, but no one needs to be reminded of my laziness.  Okay, maybe I need to be reminded of it.

Week four of the The Kitchn Cure ended over the weekend.  I was taking advantage of my mother-in-law's house and babysitting to get a break from the mess and exhaustion of having Hubby away.  The girls and I visited family, celebrated birthdays, and even threw a baby shaker for one of our recently arrived nephews.  And halfway through Hubby returned home, then drove another three hours to spend what was left of the weekend with us.  Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of Cure activities going on.

The focus for this week was learning something new and maybe prettying things up a little. Honestly, I had little motivation for new challenges after a week of single parenting.  So rather than try something new I went back to a kitchen staple that I've been ignoring - vinaigrette.  

In my university days I actually used to just put vinegar on my salads.  It must be the Ukrainian in me, but I preferred the tang and tartness of just vinegar.  I did eventually evolve when I discovered good olive oil, and decided not to ration it as an extravagant expense.  In recent years, however, Hubby has reverted back to his favourite Golden Italian and me to Annie's Goddess Dressing.  The real impetus is that I hate dressing a salad only to have leftovers.  You can't have leftover dressed salad, that's nasty and slimy.

Bring back the vinaigrette, I say!  So simple, and actually cheaper than bottled dressing.  Added bonuses include the variety of flavours and controlling the salt and sugar content.  Buy a pretty bottle and leave it on the counter with your oils  (unless you use fresh lemon juice).  Reach for it as those salad greens start poking out of the ground this summer, on grilled veggies, to marinate chicken, or drizzled over strawberries with some black pepper.

There are an infinite number of recipes for vinaigrette.  I've never followed one.  It is really a matter of oil, vinegar, an emulsifier, and seasonings.  The ratio of oil to vinegar that I like is 2/3 oil, 1/3 vinegar.  Traditionally you often see 3/4 and 1/4, but I find that lacking in tartness. Emulsifiers of choice are often mustard or even maple syrup (or both!).  Just a teaspoon or so will work, more if you want a stronger flavour.  And aside from S &P you can add garlic, fresh or dried herbs, a little bit of honey, some fresh fruit puree, or roasted peppers, to name a few. If you are like me - a condiment slut - you have a ridiculous variety of oils and vinegars.  The flavour combinations are endless.  Try balsamic vinegar with maple syrup.  Raspberry vinegar with walnut oil and chopped walnuts.  Garlic, mint, and oregano with red wine vinegar.  Sesame oil and rice wine vinegar with fresh ginger and lime.

And may I add that this was the first time The Monster ate salad dressing on her salad. Seriously, she is a food snob. No bottled dressings, KD, or margarine for her.

Your Parents Are Cool Part 2

We returned from a weekend in Edmonton.  As usual, it was crazy busy with lots of driving around to get visits in.  But my mother-in-law was great to me, babysitting so I could go to my niece's school concert and have dinner out with an old girlfriend.  On Saturday we threw a baby shaker for the recipient of Your Parents Are Cool, and his parents, of course.  In there I also got to spend the afternoon with my sister-in-law and little Lucca.  And take more pictures of his quilt.
This is my favourite block.  Just as I was putting blocks together I received my prize from Sew Mama Sew and this orange puppy fabric was in it.  Considering that Indy, the retired racing greyhound, is part of the family in Lucca's house I had to include some of this.  The top fabric is actually from another baby quilt that I made two years ago.  I love including fabric with a little bit of history.
It was really hard to capture the quilting on this.  I tried tonnes of different lighting options too.  Hopefully you get the gist of it.  I travelled vertically down the quilt, creating rectangular loops - for lack of a better term.  The next line would be offset so the rectangle was in the vertical space left between two rectangles in the adjacent line of quilting.  Does that make sense?  If it doesn't and you are really curious let me know and I'll scan my sketch. 

Yes, I did say sketch there.  Quite often I will sketch out my quilting pattern.  Rarely do I mark, but I find the repetition of sketching the pattern helps me work out kinks and get in the rhythm of the actual quilting.  If I've ever taken an extended break from the quilting I will often do another sketch to warm up.

Finally, it would be mean to share a baby quilt without sharing a picture of the little man.  Here is our nephew, Lucca, enjoying his quilt.  His mom was wondering last week just which of his half dozen homemade blankets would become his blankie.  I vote for mine.

08 May, 2009

The Monster is quite out of sorts with Daddy out of town. She is fighting a bit of a cold and a sister who wakes her up just a bit too early. On this particular morning there were no demands to paint, bake, or even watch videos of The Ting Tings on You Tube. Instead she made herself a bed on the living room floor with Hercules, her crocheted blankie, under her and requests to cover up with her quilts. All three quilts that are hers.

And when we left to run errands the dog made herself at home on the quilts to settle in for a nap. Comfort knows no bounds.

07 May, 2009

Taste Adventure - Fiddleheads

You know those moments when you speak out loud and you probably shouldn't?    Yeah, I had one of those on the weekend.  I'm fighting the crowds with the stroller (I am so one of those stroller people) at the Market, buying some groceries for the week when I see these tiny green spirals between shouts at The Monster to stay by me and making sure Smilosaurus is still buckled in.

"Ooh, fiddleheads!"  It was a moment when the world around you goes silent because you were ridiculously loud, even in a noisy crowd of shoppers.  Uh, sorry.

I first discovered fiddleheads when I lived in Halifax for university.  What was this precious green creature my friend's mom served at Easter dinner?  I'd never seen anything like it.  At that point I was still very picky and didn't eat much in the way of vegetables.  And I'd seen these things when hiking out at Crystal Crescent Beach.  They were edible?  Peer pressure did me in and I devoured the butter covered greenery.  Since that time I've only really had them a handful of times - I do live on the Prairies after all and these are not dry climate growers.

Did you know a fiddlehead is a fern that has just emerged from the ground?  Captured by foraging hands they grace our springtime plates like a harbinger of growth to come.  Steamed or sauteed lightly to be crisp tender they are really the taste of spring to me.  Not asparagus or lamb, but fiddleheads.  So when I saw them at the market I had to gasp, exclaim, and then sigh at the real end of winter (even if it really means the end of winter in BC).

The reviews were mixed in this house.  Smilosaurus will pretty much eat anything these days, but she really liked them. On Tuesday she finally put two and two together and signed "more" at dinner.  Last night she reverted back to a death grip on the high chair with a fixated stare on the food of choice and let loose with an intense growl.  Translation?  "More!"  

The Monster is a little out of sorts with Daddy away so she was grumpy and not feeling very adventurous.  Heck, she didn't want her scrambled eggs.  I left them on her plate, forked and ready to go.  A little more grumbling and she decided to eat one.  Although she pronounced that she did not like fiddleheads, she did eat the rest on her plate.

Preparation of fiddleheads is very simple.  Clean them well under running water or swish them around a bowlful of water to remove any brown bits or dirt.  Trim the ends off.  I simply steam them for a couple of minutes, with a sprinkling of salt to retain the colour.  You can toss them with some butter at this point and eat.  But they are also great tossed in a vinaigrette or quickly sauteed with garlic and olive oil.  That is what I did today and finished it off with a some lemon zest.

I wonder how the girls at the market fared?  In my exclamations I convinced them to try the fiddleheads.  Maybe they were just trying to help me recover from my embarrassment?

06 May, 2009

Surprisingly Productive

Gee, with Hubby away I am managing to get a lot of things done.  And the girls are even napping at the same time in the afternoon.  Today I actually found myself twiddling my thumbs. Okay, I was on-line with no purpose.  It's the modern day version of twiddling your thumbs.

In just 24 hours I managed to get the quilting done on the Key Lime Pie quilt and get the binding attached.  Even I'm impressed with myself.  Of course my floors are covered in dog hair and I haven't emptied the dishwasher in two days.  If I wasn't blogging during American Idol I would be handstitching that right now (and ignoring the filth).

One last thing to share, I have to tell you that when I ordered fabric the other night I caved on Etsy and ordered from A Stitch in Dye.  Seriously, aren't those the most saturated colours?  I have nothing in mind, we'll see what comes to mind when they arrive.  Now, to stay away from Etsy tonight.

04 May, 2009

Your Parents Are Cool

Because I can't get motivated to quilt this quilt, I thought I would share some overdue pictures of the surprise baby quilt I posted about months ago.  My nephew was born two months ago, but we were only able to share the quilt with the little guy last weekend.  And of course I forgot to charge the camera batteries to take pictures.  These ones come courtesy of my sister-in-law.  I'll post some more detailed shots next week.

Can you see where I got the inspiration?  My brother- and sister-law are very funky decorators.  Once I saw the pictures of this graphic I knew exactly what to do for the quilt.  Out went the circles and in came this improvisational piece.

Included in the fabrics are oranges I won from Sew Mama Sew, the sheets and bed skirt my mother-in-law made for the nursery, and a few from quilts both The Monster and Smilosaurus have.  A most excellent use of stash.

I struggled with the back for a while, I wasn't quite sure how to use the fabric I had.  Ultimately I went for another recreation of the graphic.  The label is simple and I left it unadorned so it didn't distract from the design.  Can you see it there on the right hand side?

There will be more pictures, I promise.  You should see the quilting pattern on this.  Very funky and it was so easy!

In the meantime, I'm just opening a beer and watching 24.  Hubby is out of town and I have no energy to quilt.  Maybe tomorrow.  Oh, and don't tell Hubby, but I also bought some fabric on-line.  Bad Cheryl.


This week is all about beer.  Well, not really, but I want it to be.  Hubby is away for work - the longest separation we've had since marriage and kids.  After 5 days all I can say is kudos to all single parents out there!  I will never divorce Hubby if only to avoid being a single parent, no matter how much he may irk me some days.  So by the end of the day all I want to do is crack open a Trad and relax in the last of the evening sun.  Alas, I have no beer.  And there is something too trashy about going into the liquor store with a toddler and infant in tow, for a 6-pack.

In the third week of The Kitchn Cure we were tasked to finish up all previous tasks, buy any needed equipment, and generally get ready for upcoming weeks.  This meant actually getting rid of the stuff I cleaned out.  Thankfully I had a girlfriend visit who was headed to the thrift store the following day.  Phew, saved me a trip to Goodwill.

One of the things that went out the door was this collection of bottle openers.  In this day of twist-offs these were simply taking up space.  Of course, there are always a few craft beers that make their way into the fridge that need an opener.  I did keep one.  It's a long way from the house we lived in ten years ago that had one of those soda fountain openers attached to the island in the kitchen.

Before I hit the liquor store and Lee Valley for my long desired microplane I will ask you - what useless tool have you found in your kitchen?

01 May, 2009

Project Improv Quilt

Man, this was a beast to finish!  I was stuck for a while and didn't want to touch this.  My brain couldn't figure out how to do those white triangles on the edges and how to get the top together without inset seams.  Finally, after quite a few naps I got the damn thing done.  And there are still inset seams.

This is my Project Improv quilt.  I wanted to try something new.  Honestly, this isn't that new. The blocks were made exactly as you would a wonky log cabin, only with three sides.  I used a template to trim each block to size. The layout is no different than a very traditional quilt called Thousand Pyramids.  Sometimes you don't need to throw out the old when you want something new.  

AmandaJean inspired this multi-coloured look with her Snippets quilt. The entire top was made from scraps/stash.  That being said, I realized that I have no white batting so I still need to go shopping!