30 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 31

Thank-you for all your kind words about the indigo project. I really am quite attached to this project and the anticipation of what it might be. I will definitely keep you posted on every step along the way.

This week in the Workshop we have some interesting posts.

Felicity has a very sweet hand-me-down flimsy. It is hand-pieced by a beloved family member and she is looking for opinions on how to do it justice with her own touch. Any advice for her?

It's been mentioned here before how I love the challenge of putting together quilt tops from seemingly disparate pieces.  Bees are fantastic for this. That's why I really like the challenge Kris from Summer at Grandma's House has for us this week.  She has a number of house and tree blocks from her own bee. What would you do if they were your blocks?

Elle is up to something new, again. Does she ever not try something new.  This week she is looking for advice on getting wonky.  Do you have any for her?

That's a wide variety of topics, but that is the best part of the workshop - being exposed to so many different ideas.

29 March, 2010

Fabric with Weight

Progress on a quilt! Trust me, this is momentous news lately. Hubby has been out of town a lot, I've had some writing deadlines, and Quilt Canada is now a month away.  Things are busy! But we had a low key weekend and I squeezed in some sewing, during naptime of course.

This is the start of what is currently being referred to as my Slaveship Quilt. I promise I will get a better name in time. These strips have come from this pile of indigo fabrics. Oh, I heart these indigo fabrics. These are designs that are well over a century old, but some of them are so bold and modern today. And that indigo is melting my heart.

It wasn't until I started cutting into them that I realized these were real Da Gama fabrics, imported from South Africa. Suddenly the fabric had more weight, and the project took on even more symbolism for me.

Yes folks, I would say that I am making my first art quilt. With every step, from inspiration to design to sewing I feel the importance of each decision. There is a reason to everything I'm doing. So not only do I intend to have something beautiful simply to look at, I hope it is something meaningful and symbolic too.

(My nature is to suddenly retreat into something self-deprecating right now, but this project doesn't deserve that.)

This is a multi-step design and who knows whether I'll finish it this week or next year, but I hope you will enjoy the process as much as I will.

27 March, 2010

Babka is a Family Affair

It's only fitting that I felt compelled to make Babka on the day of the bake sale at my parents' church. They would have sold Babka by the hundreds there. Not surprising since every single recipe I had seemed to make enough to feed an entire Ukrainian village. 10 eggs! 3 packages of yeast! 10 cups of flour! Oi vey.

So I did what any good Ukrainian would do. I called my mom. Unfortunately, she was at that bakesale, but my dad totally came through for me. He referred me to another cookbook in the family collection, where we found a recipe that could easily be adapted for a normal family size. And he said it looked a lot like the Babka that he was familiar with.

Did I mention that I've never made Babka before?

Traditionally served at Easter, and part of the required items in the Easter basket to be blessed at church, Babka is a sweet, eggy bread. Our family likes our studded with raisins or currants. A lot of descriptions  online call it something between a cake and a bread. Not so in my world. I always think of Babka as a sweet, rich bread, baked tall and best with creamy butter. Keep your cinnamon and chocolate and your Jerry Seinfeld, Babka is for spring, with a touch of citrus.

So the girls and I gathered our ingredients, put on our aprons, and set about to make a big giant mess. The good thing about making Babka is that it needs a lot of eggs, perfect for little hands. And what gorgeous little hands. I adore watching my girls' attack dough in their attempts to knead it. The Monster even has the push - turn - fold technique down now. And so long as we can keep Smilosaurus from snitching bits of raw dough we end up with a nice piece set to rise. And rise. And rise again. Be forewarned, from start to finish this is a full day affair.

This recipe starts out quite wet, what with all those eggs, milk, and a juiced orange. You will have to play with the flour, adding as much as necessary.  Just go slow, adding a few tablespoons at a time. Your dough is ready when it is smooth, aside from the raisins, no longer sticky, and relaxes a little, just a little, when you stop kneading.

Babka is traditionally made into a tall, round loaf. You do this by baking it in cleaned out cleaned tin cans. You could bake it in a loaf pan, but that doesn't seem quite as fun, or traditional. If, like me, you don't have a lot of cans in your house you can ask a neighbour. Failing that, make plans to make sauce later and use the cans from some tinned tomatoes. Just make sure they are washed well. Then buttered quite well. If you are worried about the bread releasing from the can, line it with a strip of parchment paper, and more butter. 

And when you are all done, make sure you call your parents to share your success. Then butter some slices for the next generation and enjoy with tea. Church blessings optional.

Ukrainian Babka
Makes 5 large tin size loaves, more or less depending on the size of container

1 tsp  plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 package Active Dry Yeast
3 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 cups flour
1 cup golden raisins or currants
1 egg, beaten

1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in warm water.  Add yeast and let stand 10 minutes.
2. Soak raisins in warm water. Drain well.
3. Beat eggs and yolks until light - 4 minutes with stand mixer, about 8 minutes by hand. Stir in remaining sugar and beat 30 seconds more. Add melted butter, milk, salt, orange juice and zest, and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Mix the wet ingredients to the 4 cups flour in a large bowl. Mix together well.  Add flour, if necessary, 1/4 cup at a time until you get a wet dough. 
5. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead.  Add flour in small bits until the dough is smooth.  Knead for 4 minutes or so. In two batches knead the drained raisins into the dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, buttered bowl, rub a bit more butter on the dough and set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise.
6. Let rise until double in size.  Punch down and let rise again.
7. Butter cleaned tins, dish, or pans. If preferred, line with a strip of parchment paper, then butter that as well. Form dough into balls that will fill container of choice to 1/3. Place in container and let rise again.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the babka with beaten egg.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your container. It should be nicely browned and have a hollow sound when you tap it.

26 March, 2010

Friday Favourites - Quilts of First Quarter 2010

I heard back from a lot of you in January that the round-up of my favourite quilts was something you wanted to see more of. I've decided to do this every 3 months for you. Even then it is hard to narrow it down!

Selvages are something that I now cut off and set aside - to giveaway. I have absolutely no motivation to make a selvage quilt myself. Even after seeing this one, I still don't want to make one. But I can look and admire the quality and beauty of this quilt.  Great job Jacquie!

There are some lovely, lovely quilts on Jess' site. Simple and graphic.  You see similar quilts around, but there is something about the way she places just that one extra bit of fabric or a carefully chosen binding that elevates her quilt above many modern others.

If you've been reading me for a while you know that I'm generally not a fan of quilts made entirely from one fabric line alone. But I adore what Andrea did from her inspiration - a drawing and design by her son.  How cool is that? And a nice break from her year of solids.

White binding. White binding on a multicoloured striped quilt.  Need I say more?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who puts quilts in her office.  At least it doesn't seem odd when you work in a crafty kind of place like Lark Books.

Off Kilter by Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts
Okay, so a slight bias here. But I had to share one more finish from my quilt along. I know many of us miss Amanda Jean's blogging, but you can keep up to date with all her work on Flickr. Thank goodness!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Only in My House?

Hubby has a disgusting habit. Okay, he has more than one. Opening beer bottles with his teeth, eating knobs of butter, just butter, and eating dried macaroni by the handful. And much to my chagrin, he's passed on those habits to our youngest child. Not the beer bottle one - yet.

Yes, when we bake she steals bits of butter and I've found her with her finger in the butter dish more than once. Are you cringing just a little at that? I am.

Lately, however, the macaroni habit has become an obsession. All our dry goods are stored in glass jars on open shelves above the stove.  She literally tries to climb up the stove, yelling, "Macaroni please!"

At first I refused, fearing that she would choke. We've been down that road and I was terrified of another ambulance visit. Eventually I relented, letting her have just one. She chomped down, chewed it up, and asked for more. So now she and her Daddy sit with handfuls of dried macaroni, crunching and laughing together over the naughtiness of their habit.

Does anyone else do this? Or is my family just this special? (Sarah, don't answer that)

24 March, 2010

Lemon Frozen Yogurt

For sittin' on the porch and pretending it's summer.

This is about the laziest dessert one could make, aside from cutting up fruit and pretending it's a treat. Of course, it only works if you own an ice cream maker. That's not true, you could just stick a container of yogurt in the freezer, but you'll miss the churning and the joy of soft serve fro yo as it comes out of the ice cream maker.

Take a carton or two of your favourite yoghurt such as Liberte Mediterranee Lemon. Dump it in a frozen ice cream maker. Turn on. Eat when frozen. Dream of green grass, ocean breezes, and blazing sunshine.

Workshop in Progress - March 24

First off, let me address last week's post on the Workshop. Even if there is only one post out there with someone asking for advice, a second opinion, or even showing off a challenging piece, I will share it with you.  My goal is to encourage more of us bloggers to share things throughout the creative process, to open ourselves to the opinions and insight of others that we might get if we were taking a workshop together.

So, I will continue to do this until I'm no longer interested. Or the posts really, really dry up.

I completely understand the chaos and demands on our schedules through work and family, beyond our creative pursuits. Blogging on demand, as the Workshop may make you feel is a necessity is never fun. I'm not immune to it myself.

Going forward, I will continue to post on Wednesday any posts I see from the last week, not just those that come out on Wednesday. It's okay if you posted on Friday and have maybe even moved on in some precious hours in the weekend, I still want us to share and collaborate. Even if the opinion is moot, it is good food for the next time around. If I miss your post, or you really want to make sure I see it, send me a quick email. It will get up. 

Take the time to explore, to share, to discover new artists, techniques, and questions.  Enjoy the Workshop today! This week seems to have a theme on names. 

Many of us find naming the finished quilt a very tough thing. Felicity is struggling with the name for a very calm but striking green quilt. I keep feeling moss from it, how about you?

Cindy at Live a Colorful Life is embarking on a new adventure - an online store devoted to selvage goodness! But she's debating names.  I know my favourite, what's yours?

We'll see you next week in the Workshop!

PS I couldn't leave you without a picture, so here are my brand new moccasins, courtesy of Darlingtonia on Etsy.

22 March, 2010

I Joined a Bee

If you know me or have seen the hidden boxes in my basement you know that it is hard for me to keep commitment to bees and round robins. I don't know why, but I get so stuck on these projects and I'm the one who either hands in the project ridiculously late or not at all.  Yes, I've been known to be THAT quilter.

Alas, no more! I promise, I swear, and I cross my heart because this year I joined a bee.  I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with these ladies. And my logic also tells me that if I am being told what to do I should be able to manage it.  

One month down and I was only a tiny bit late. But I'm totally blaming my knees.

This is the first block for Valerie. It was also the first time for me to work with these Heather Ross fabrics.  They're sweet, but I won't be losing any sleep over them.  And after seeing the blocks headed her way, I am quite excited to see them all together.

That is probably my favourite part of this process. I just wish I could be there with every one of my partners to help them assemble the tops.  I love taking blocks and putting them together, moving this one over here and that one there, until it all just feels right. I've got to wait until January for my turn.  That gives me plenty of time to change my mind about what I want done.

19 March, 2010

An Overdue Thanks

Back in August I won a copy of Bend the Rules with Fabric from the author and designer herself, Amy Karol. It was quite a treat really.  I continually pull it out and plan some ideas in my head.  I even went so far as to buy some fabric paint for a specific home decor project, but Hubby vetoed the addition of stamps on the curtains. But Hubby's been away a lot lately.

No, I didn't go ahead and stamp the curtains, but I did make what is known as a Daddy Doll in this house.  You see, the Monster fully recognizes that Daddy is away and come bedtime she gets upset. Personally, I think it is more her knack for melodrama than actually being upset, but who am I to argue with a crying three year old? Then I remembered a specific project from the book.

With a little help from a good friend at work and her Photoshop skills (I have none) and a drawing of Daddy that The Monster herself made I turned this:

into this:

To be honest, it isn't the best example of what the concept is. We had a major printing error where the head, inexplicably, printed itself about 3 inches from the body.  But the printable fabric is expensive so I had to figure out a way to make it work.  How very Tim Gunn of me. So I cut out the shape, without making Hubby look a little too male, and hand appliqued it on. Hubby picked the fabrics, it was his doll after all. And I rescued the filling from an old, unused pillow. It isn't quite the same effect as the original concept, but the end result is the same - less crying at bedtime when Daddy was away.

18 March, 2010

Scotch and ...

In a fit of accidental drinking and eating Hubby and I discovered a fantastic food/liquor combo. Scotch and caramel corn.  In particular, peanut and sea salt with my caramel corn and a smoky scotch like Caol Isla. Okay, so the drinking wasn't accidental, but the insane hunger that led us to the Scouts caramel corn was.

Not wanting to repeat ourselves, nor get into that beyond sweet caramel corn again, as well as prep for My "Whiskey for Dinner" class tonight I set out to make my own caramel corn. How refreshing it was to discover that it is so damn easy. Pop some popcorn, make some caramel, toss together, and bake at low heat. That's it. I even encouraged the men in our class tonight that it was dead easy and hopefully they are logging on to get the recipe right now.

One of the surprising things in my research was that 99.99 % of the recipes I found used brown sugar.  Actually, I didn't find any that used white sugar, but I can't conclusively say that there isn't one out there. The first batch I made was with the "best brown" sugar I keep in the house for oatmeal and cookies.  It was good, once I got over the concept of adding baking soda to the recipe. But I knew I wouldn't have enough, plus I wasn't that fond of the colour.

The second batch was with the "yellow" brown sugar I borrowed from the neighbour when I realized that the nanny had used the last of my brown sugar making cookies - not that I was complaining. And, I'll admit it, I was afraid to try white sugar since I found no recipes with it. So yellow brown sugar it was. 

Can you tell the difference in the photo above? Best Brown on the left, yellow brown on the right.

So I had my caramel corn ready to go. Good to go. Loaded up I joined a great group of guys at J. Webb tonight. Where are my single ladies?  Seriously, develop a taste for scotch or an open mind, because there are always a fun, intelligent group of guys at scotch tastings. 

The caramel corn was on deck to serve with those lovely smoky or peaty scotches.  When it comes to scotch and food pairings you don't want to pair smoke with smoke. The sweet and salt of caramel corn matches perfectly with the smoky drinks. Actually, the caramel corn went with almost all the scotches.  As does chocolate, especially the fruity ones from Venezuela and Guatemala.

But pairing scotch and food is more than the sweet stuff. At its most basic level, pairing is pretty straight forward - match the basic characteristics of the scotch to your food. For example, the Lowland scotches are lighter, so they work well with rich cheese, honey, and fruit. Something like a pear and brie tart, or a cream of leek soup. And think about where the scotch comes from, The Island and Speyside styles work really well with seafood and both clean and salty flavours.  Even sushi works really well, or mussels with fennel.  The Lowland and Highland styles lend themselves to the richness of game meat, the sweetness of peppers, and even some spice.

But the star of the night was the caramel corn.  And the Glenfarclas 17 year old.

The caramel corn recipe I used was a slight variation on this one.  I added a bit more salt, used the roasted peanuts I had in the cupboard, and that yellow brown sugar. It isn't cloying, has the burnt sugar saltiness, and the baking soda makes the carmel crackle, but not crack.

Caramel Corn
Makes about 10 cups

1 3/12 ounce package plain/orginal/natural popcorn
OR 10 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup yellow brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (cut this back if you prefer it without the salty taste)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanuts, cashews, or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. Spray a large bowl.
2. Pop your popcorn and toss in the bowl, being careful to keep out any unpopped kernels.
3. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and water in a small saucepan.  Melt and boil for 3-5 minutes until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer. You need the candy thermometer, so don't try to just eyeball this step.
4. As soon as you reach temperature stir the baking soda and vanilla into the caramel.  Pour over the popcorn, add the nuts, and stir together.  You won't get a complete cover over the popcorn, but stir well and try to get a little on each bit of popped corn. Spread out on the cookie sheet.
5. Let cook slowly in your low oven, stirring gently every 20 minutes, for 1 hour. Let cool completely before enjoying.

17 March, 2010

No Workshop This Week

Nothing, nada, no one has anything to report.

I'm a little bit sad about that, I really enjoy visiting all the blogs and working on design challenges. Is it just a matter of time or is the Workshop not working for people? Let me know.

How do you like The Workshop in Progress?

15 March, 2010

True Inspiration

Inspiration for an artist of any sort doesn't just refer to seeing something or hearing something and then turning it into a project.  Inspiration can come in the form of people and ideals. I had that experience the other night and it gave me so much energy, so much affirmation for the approach I have to quilting. On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a trunk show by Bill Kerr from Fun Quilts.

Fun Quilts is the quilt baby of Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, a husband and wife combo of designers, artists, quilters, teachers, and authors. I discovered them about 5 years ago. There'd been a bit of a lull in my quilting, mostly because I felt a little alone and lost in what I was trying to do. I knew that I wasn't that interesting in traditional piecing, but I hadn't found anyone who was quilting like I was, with simple and bold designs. And I didn't want to see another Yellow Brick Road quilt!

So I did what most of us do these days, I turned to the internet.  My very first Google search was with the term "modern quilts." I'm not sure I googled anything else, to be honest, because so much came up. It was eye opening for me. 

At the top of the search results was the book The Modern Quilt Workshop and a pile of blogs showcasing work from the book. Wow, it was eye opening. No, I didn't rush out to the buy the book. (I'm not a pattern person and this book is mostly patterns.) But I started exploring all the blogs and got so excited.  Generally I'm not one be a joiner, preferring my own track, but this felt like a community of like-minded creative folks. 

It was just the inspiration I needed, just the kick in the pants to get me creating again. I started sketching and sewing with energy again. I even started the blog after not too long. And now, I can honestly say that the one internet search led to a a whole new creative me.

Seeing Bill Kerr speak, one of the authors of The Modern Quilt Workshop, is only getting me more jazzed about creating. His presentation included a brief discussion of design and the reflection of quilt design as a sign of the times. And this, really, is the crux of the Fun Quilts approach. There is no one visual style to their work, rather they like to think they create quilts that are a reflection of the times we live in.

Sigh. So perfect.

Then he went through a number of their quilts, discussing the inspiration or motivation behind the piece. For example, this one was inspired by a can of mixed nuts and boxes of cereal. And I thought I was the only one who was inspired by food! And the one above was inspired by the departure maps in the back of the airline magazines.

It has actually been a while since I was on their site and in preparation for the trunk show I found myself browsing through their quilt gallery. It actually shocked me to see the influence of them in not only my quilts, but in many others I've seen. Either we think exactly the same, or their quilts were hidden in my subconscious when I was sketching!

Sometimes it is so enlightening to meet the people who inspire you. Thankfully with quilt celebrities you almost always get the chance to actually chat with them as well. I always admired the work of Fun Quilts and now I admire the people behind it. I identify with their approach and personalities (even if they managed days of skiing without incident while visiting our area). And I am totally focused on where I want to take my quilting and my creative life. That, for me, is the result of true inspiration.

14 March, 2010

Bean Burgers Yum!

If you've been reading a while you know that I was the mom who went crazy anal about making my kids' food when they were little. Or you just know me and that fact isn't surprising at all. But the one thing I did buy was some bean burgers from a local manufacturer. The Monster absolutely loved them. But they were expensive. Damn expensive.

I launched a search to make a good bean burger myself. And I searched and tested and searched and tested some more. And I had no success. Nothing seemed to work.  They were all too dry or too wet, so I gave up.

Then the Blog Aid: Haiti cookbook arrived. Catherine McCord at Weelicious included a recipe for garbanzo burgers in it. The old challenge poked its head out of my subconscious and forced me to make her burgers. And you know what? Success at last! 

Of course, I did adapt it a bit.  But that's because I had a 19 ounce can of chickpeas, not 14 ounces as in the original recipe. To compensate I added some pistachios when I was making the breadcrumbs and threw in some spices. The girls and I happily ate them, as did our vegetarian friend who was visiting. Even Hubby, the devout carnivore, ate them without grumbling. Much. But he did clarify that they were actually patties and did not deserve the name burger.

Garbanzo Patties
Adapted from the Weelicious recipe in the Blog Aid:Haiti Cookbook

Makes 12-15 patties

1 19 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1-2 tbsp oil

1. Blitz the first 8 ingredients in a food processor until it is a consistent mixture.
2. Stir in the bread crumbs, pistachios, and sesame seeds.
3. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture (it will be wet) into your hand and form patties. 
4. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Cook patties for 5 minutes, flip and cook 3-5 minutes longer.

Particularly tasty with Edgar Farms Asparagus Relish. Or a nice green salad.

12 March, 2010

My Favourite Gadget

Do you know what this is? Hands down, it is my favourite tool for quilting. I'm not a gadget, multiple rulers, fancy papers kind of girl. But the day I discovered this was revolutionary.

To be fair, I think it was my sister or Hubby who actually discovered it for me. I remember getting it for Christmas one year. how I survived without it is beyond me. If you are a pin baster then you NEED this.  It's the best $20 you'll ever spend on quilting. The handy Kwik Klip saves your fingers and a heck of a lot of time when you are pin basting a quilt. It essentially lifts the bar of the pin to close it. Instead of you pinching it yourself. Finger saving, I tell ya!

I've seen these at every local quilt shop, but I've also found them on-line.

(If you do decide to search for them on line, be careful of your search terms.  If you only use Kwik Klip the internet seems to think you are looking for a specific gun accessory!)

10 March, 2010

The Cure for Picky Eating?

Head on over to Simple Bites today. I'm sharing our family food philosophy and tips for getting your kids to embrace food. Will it cure a picky eater? No, but taking a relaxed approach that makes food the star will make everyone happier and well fed. 

Workshop in Progress - March 10

Isn't this lovely? It was a surprise gift from a surprising person. More on that story another time.

But what I want to do is handstitch it to some grey linen. I've never done that before so I'm looking for advice. How much tacking down do you need to do? Do you match the thread to the yarn? What sort of prep work needs to be done? Is it better done in a hoop? Anything you can share would be appreciated.

Elsewhere in the workshop today, Elle, as always, is at it with another exciting project. Having known her since before her daughter's wedding and the birth of her grandchildren, I know the challenge she has in getting a quilt done for her. But yay, it's time for binding. With so many colours in the quilt, what do you think she should go for?

Beth over at Love Laugh Quilt has the prettiest pink and brown quilt on deck. The only challenge is that she's set in on point, so she needs some help with picking the right fabric for her setting triangles. What do you think?

Do you avoid certain colours? What happens when you are faced with a challenge to use something that maybe isn't your taste? Andrea at Millions of Thoughts Trapped in My Head is struggling with an exciting use for forest green. My gut tells her to match it with peach, but that may be because my childhood bedroom was that combo. How very 80s of me!

What about the rest of you? If I missed your post, let me know.

08 March, 2010

Upcoming Event - A True Taste Adventure

This one is not for the kids!

I'm happy to announce a new relationship and upcoming event with J. Webb Wine Merchant Ltd. Lee Hansen and I will be joining forces for a scotch and food pairing class. Actually, there will be two opportunities to enjoy the range of tastes from Scotland and the food we are pairing with it. Think sweet, salty, and meaty. Then think of the scotch!

Join us on March 17 or 18 at the Glenmore Landing location. For sign-up information visit the J. Webb site.

Low Volume Circles

I cannot stress how much I LOVE this quilt top.

First, it came together quickly. Long strips with appliqued circles. Some prep work, but it was all manageable.

Second, it was a lovely project to work on until I felt good enough to be at the machine again. The only machine work on the top was sewing the strips together. And the back is coming together quite easily too. There isn't a lot of up and down for ironing.

Third, it is big (twin size). That means it isn't a small project that I haven't a clue what to do with in the end. My only wish is that I had a precious room and twin bed to decorate around this quilt.

Finally, it is such a contrast to all the bright work I do. The concept of working with low volume fabrics is very refreshing. Kind of like a sorbet course in a big meal. And all that white? So not me, but so, so perfect.

05 March, 2010

Find the Yellow

I was wearing my spring coat this week, a pastel yellow trench.  Paired with my new yellow, cream, and taupe striped scarf I felt very sunny indeed. When my physiotherapist noticed it we started a conversation about the optimism inherent in the colour yellow. Despite a somewhat frustrating physio session we kept talking about optimism.  On my way out she encouraged me to "Find the Yellow" in my day.

1  Cleaning up after a painting session.
2  Quilting detail
3  Apron trim
4  Stack of quilts (for the article "The Family Quilt" in the Winter 2010 What's Up magazine)
5  Pie crust
6  Yo (from the files, at the Bowden Sun Maze last August)

What about you?  Have you Found the Yellow today?

02 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 3

There are a few of us back to sewing this week.  Some of us even got to go on a few retreats. Lucky gals!

Elle has moved on to a completely different project, some simple placements. This lady can go all over the place - traditional, modern, and art. Isn't is great.

A few weeks back Katie shared some scrap ideas with us. Check out her finished quilt at the Salt Marsh Path.

I love what Lesly over at Pickle Dish is posting this week. She's taking a traditional block and exploring ways to change it up. From a distance they look the same, but look closely. How would you add your twist?

This post didn't make the weekly round-up, so you may have missed it. But I still want to include the discussion and the final quilt top. Nanann's Woogies turned out a really interesting string quilt, but I loved looking at all her design options.

On my end I am the workshop in progress this week. We've come to the rather painful acceptance that my knee recovery is something that is months, not weeks away. Hard enough to face, but with two little ones, a full-time job, freelance work, and a still slightly broken husband it is pretty hard. I am trying to stay positive, along the lines of my efforts at choosing to be happy. Along with bending my knees it is quite the challenge.

My typical stress relievers and ways to keep anxiety at bay are quilting, keeping the house tidy, and exercising. Well, I've finally figured out some projects to keep me busy with quilting, although it certainly isn't at the same production level that I'm used to. As for tidying, let's just say there isn't much spring cleaning happening at our house! And when you spend most of the time parked in one chair looking at all the clutter the problem is expounded. And aside from my physio exercises, any sort of a work out is still out.  I think I miss that the most.

So, for the Workshop this week I'm asking for your best stress relievers?  Does anyone meditate out there? How do you choose positivity in your life?

I'm also taking on a personal challenge of some self portraits. As the key photographer in my house there are never any pictures of me. But I find that seeing myself in a photo helps me see myself a bit better.  Kind of like testing out quilt layouts through a photo. I could pick out a handful of things I don't like about this picture, but it's honest. Right down to the ice cream I'm devouring.


It seems that your quads are the first muscle to atrophy when you wreck your knees. Despite the layers of insulation covering those large muscles of mine it is quite noticable that they aren't so large anymore. Neither are my calves. But sadly, my ass is still as big as it ever was. Needless to say, ice cream is probably the last thing I need right now.

But oh how I need ice cream. The last 6 weeks have certainly screamed out for comfort food. My mom make us pyrohy, we've eaten countless bowls of pho after The Monster's dance class, managed more than one batch of cookies, and indulged in a heck of a lot of beer during the Olympics. Not once, however, have I been able to convince Hubby to buy ice cream. Bloody diet nazi.

So I added heavy cream to the grocery list. Ha Ha! Combined with the very large bar of bittersweet Bernard Callebaut chocolate in my cupboard and I got him back. The girls and I set out to chop chocolate, dissolve cocoa, cook a lovely custard, and anticipate the ice cream. They were diverted from cooling time and the churning with snow play.

I did save the first taste of ice cream for an Olympic hockey game.  At least my brain hasn't atrophied. Kids and a bowl of cold ice cream means nearly a period of peace for Hubby and I. It worked so well that we used it repeatedly throughout the Games. Minus the bowls I snuck for myself.

The recipe I used was absolutely phenomenal.  It was so decadent and rich, and just perfect. In truth, it was exactly like a frozen pudding. With a bit more effort on my part I could have enjoyed it with a brownie and salted caramel sauce. The knees however can't hack that much work yet. And my ass can't handle that much in the absence of a good workout.

With thanks to David Lebovitz and The Perfect Scoop.  I followed the recipe word for word and it was perfect. And thanks to Tara at Seven Spoons for the photo inspiration on that top picture.

01 March, 2010

Inspired By...

Why does it feel wrong that I'm inspired by stories of slavery? These are horrific stories of the cruelty of man. But they are also amazing stories of human spirit, triumph, and even kindness. And that's what gets me.

So, after reading The Book of Negroes/Someone Knows My Name I had a design in my head. I wanted to acknowledge the aspect of the story where the main character works on an indigo plantation and discusses the awful clothing made out of osnaburg. But then there are the snippets of sunshine as her station improves and she has access to some money and bright cloth.

Oh, the ideas I have for this!

Fabrics ordered from Reproduction Fabrics and Big Horn Quilts.