Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last day of June

 June has been a good month.  Lots of busy-ness happened.  Among all the busy times we had two birthdays here in our house, and we took an unplanned trip to Ohio.  Being busy is usually a very good thing, especially when you can finish a project or two.  It has been a couple weeks since I had a quilt on my frame, and I completed two quilts in the past two days.  These were quilts that my sister sent me from North Carolina.   I have one more table runner to quilt for a friend, then I can put one of my own quilts on my frame.

I have another quilt that belongs to a friend at church.  The quilt needed to be repaired and he thought who better to fix it than Sallie.  He brought the quilt to me several weeks ago and said he was not in a hurry... I put it on my to-do list.  Today I picked it up and got it repaired.  So tomorrow I can call Jim and tell him the quilt is done, and I can mail off the two quilts to my sister.

On top of all my quilting, today I made a great dinner, and it was not late.  It isn't uncommon for me to get so involved in the project I am in the middle of that I forget that it is lunchtime.  I saw a recipe online that looked real interesting and I have been wanting to make it for more than a week.  Today was the day for Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken.  The significance with this recipe is I changed almost everything in it and it turned out great.  A recipe is great when it gets a thumbs up from my husband.  I gave it a new name and found an image that would work. 

 Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken

8 oz of uncooked angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cup of cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (I used dried basil)
2 oz of shaved parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in boiling salted water.  Add the peas to the pot in the last 2 minutes of cooking time for the pasta. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.  Return pasta to pan, set aside.

Heat oil, butter and garlic in skillet over medium heat for 1 minute or until butter melts. Stir in the chicken - if chicken is cold, stir it around in pan until chicken is heated through. Remove from heat and pour the chicken mixture over the pasta, add the reserved liquid, lemon juice and S & P.  Toss the pasta until nicely coated.

Serve hot with about a tablespoon of basil sprinkled on top and drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One ugly quilt... or not

As I noted in my last post, I saw this quilt/wall hanging in the August 2010 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I didn't want to tackle the whole quilt and I thought the Points of Pride  Color Option feature looked pretty cool.  I found the border fabric right away and picked a couple greens to go with it, and the pale green I used for the points.  I figured I could find the rest in my stash.  As I progressed through the process my husband would comment that it looked OK.  That should have been a sign for me.  When I show him a block I have finished, it is not uncommon for him to say Wow.  So I continued with his OK.  I thought the individual blocks were OK also, but I thought it would Wow me when I put the border on.... Didn't happen.  I might have found cranes like the original fabric in the magazine, but these cranes were all in scattered directions... upside down and sideways most of the time, and it didn't matter which way I turned it.  I continued on to finish putting the borders on, and now I had cranes with heads cut off and only their feet showing.  Just not a good choice.  I guess I could have worked with the border and pieced it together with the cranes turned so they were flying in the right direction or whatever, but I just wanted to be done with it so I could hang it on my design board and critique what I could have done differently.  Upon completion I asked my husband to come look.  He said it looks nice, it has a nice design to it... but he was referring to the pattern and not my fabric choices.  He said it was too jumbled and he couldn't focus on anything.  He likes a quilt to be neat and orderly and calming when he looks at it.  He said this one gave him a headache.  I proceeded to tell him that although I did not have the fabrics that were in the original, that my choices were in the ballpark.  He told me at that point that he doesn't even like to look at the picture in the magazine.  So consensus is that I should make another one with a completely different color scheme... so it was not a total loss.  The foundation piecing went very nicely and the curves were a breeze.  With the size of this one I didn't waste alot of time and I learned from the experience.
On to Monday morning... it is a beautiful morning and the sun is brightly shining.  Early in the morning when the sun is at a low angle, some things show up that you don't see so clearly later in the day.  It seems that we have a few spiders that have created these huge webs that are hanging from one of the trees in front of our deck and are actually attached to the deck on one side.  I very much do not like spiders, but their webs are quite elaborate and I tried to take a couple pictures.  It is difficult because my auto-focus on the camera kept tuning them out, but this one turned out pretty good. 
The pictures where auto-focus took over could be used as inspiration for a new fabric background. 

Monday is my quilting day at church.  We are working on a common quilt and are nearing completion of the piecing.  It is a brick wall pattern. We have made no decision on the borders yet, but that may be something we can decide on today.

Have a great week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gone to Castroville

It's another Friday and I chose to go to Castroville this time.  I can't resist the bakery there and the wonderful quilt shop, Fabric 'n Friends.  It was only a few weeks ago that our Friday date took us to Castroville, but I knew there was another really neat restaurant there... and my husband had not been there.  If you are not aware of this restaurant, you might pass it by thinking it was just a hotel, but I had been there before with some of my quilt friends.  The Alsatian Restaurant has really good food, at a reasonable price, and the view from our table was really awesome.  We chose to eat inside this time because it was way too hot to enjoy eating on the deck.  Castroville is a really neat little town.  It is probably as close to San Antonio as we are.  We are just southeast, and Castroville is due west.  It makes for a really nice Friday ride.  Lots of ranch land along I-90.

On the quilting front, I had not done any sewing for a couple weeks because we had to take an unscheduled trip to Ohio, but the good part is we happened to be there at the same time as the NQA show in Columbus.  We saw lots of really great quilts, and there were lots of vendors with neat stuff for sale.  I took lots of pictures...  my husband actually took more than I did.  I'm not sure that it is OK to post pictures of another person's quilt without their permission, so I will refrain from sharing those with you... but I was very impressed with the detail in most of the quilts.  Makes me realize how much longer I have to work at perfecting my skills.
I don't typically get any of my own quilting done at my Monday quilting group... we work on a common project quite often, but I did get back into sewing on Monday, and actually started two new projects in the last couple of days.  I really need to start more projects... I do not plan to do a whole quilt for the BOM this year, but I thought I would do about 3 blocks and create a table runner.  I'm still trying to find the right applique technique that I feel good about when I am done... I am not there yet, but this is the first block I did from this year's BOM.  I used freezer paper and machine applique.  It isn't too bad, but I am not real pleased with the finished block.  I will maybe use raw edge on the next block.  I'll keep this one for myself, or store it in a drawer.
In the current issue of American Patchwork & Quilting (August), I am making a wall hanging from the Color Option feature for the quilt that is on the cover.  I am not very far, and I needed at least one more fabric to complete the set I am using for this quilt.  This morning I found the missing fabric at Fabric 'n Friends.  I was able to finsih the first arc of points when I was at my Thursday quilting group.  The colors are not showing true in this image... those lighter points are pale green, and the darker is much brighter.  I really do like the paper piecing technique.  It really creates a nice finished piece.  This is a fairly large arc,  It took two sheets of paper that had to be taped together.  Most paper pieced blocks I have worked on have been like 8.5" square.

Hope you all have a great weekend. 
We should have a quiet one and maybe I can get lots of sewing done.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mexican Stars wall hanging

Last year when we were in Colorado, I went to a quilt show in Montrose.  It was there that I first saw the Mexican Stars quilt.  Back home I searched the internet until I found a place where I could buy the pattern... that was at least 9 months ago.  Earlier this week I received an email regarding a class schedule at a local quilt shop, and one of the classes was for the Mexican Stars quilt, so I called and got signed up for the class.  I was finally going to get a chance to make a Mexican Stars quilt.  I decided to see how it would go just using the pattern, I wasn't excited or anything.  Sometimes if you do a test project before you take an official class and you are not sure you totally understand what you were supposed to do for a particular step, you can get your questions answered at the class.  Anyhow, I bought the fabric yesterday, and pretty much cut it out and put it together last evening.  I put the finishing touches on it this morning.  Now it is not quilted yet, but the top is complete, and it is about 33" square.  I really enjoyed putting this wall hanging together.  It was all straight cuts and went very quickly.  The curved look is added in the last step when you turn the edges over and topstitch them in place.  I have to say that I don't really have questions, but I am still going to take the class.  I had a couple friends from my quilt group sign up with me.

These ladies are from the quilt group that I go to on Thursdays, twice a month.  We meet in a little farm/cottage type house that has quilts hanging everywhere.  Everything about the house speaks of quilts.  We have a limited number of quilters because the house is small.  Did I say that it is down an old country lane that crosses a creek bed?  Sometimes when we get alot of rain, the creek rises enough that it makes it questionable as to whether you want to drive your car through the water.  This Thursday was one of those days that the water level was questionable, so the meeting was diverted to my house.  We had a wonderful time here, but I didn't get much quilting done because I could not find my Mexican Stars pattern that I wanted to tell them about.  I spent most of my time searching only to find it after they left.  With pattern in hand on Friday I bought new fabric, even though I know I could have found enough fabric in my stash, but I wanted new fabric.

We did go in to town as per usual on Friday, but we went to an ordinary restaurant, so I have no raving reviews to share with you this time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friday in Gruene pronounced green

When we left the house on Friday morning we only had a couple little items we wanted to pick up in San Antonio, and no plan at all on where we would go for lunch.  Several times we have mentioned, or I should say I have, going to The Gristmill in Gruene.  Ron told me we could go if I found good directions to get there because neither of us had ever been to Gruene.  Several of my friends gave me the directions a couple weeks ago, but it was kind of out of the way from where we were on Friday, so I didn't even suggest it.  So when Ron said how 'bout going to The Gristmill, I totally agreed that it would be a good day to find the restaurant.
I had heard alot about the Gristmill, and our outing to Gruene was every bit of what they had made it out to be.  The Gristmill itself is really quite a unique restaurant with all the surroundings, including the Gruene dance hall.  We didn't go in there, but it was right next door to the restaurant.  The sign that we used for navigation before we actually found Gruene said to turn left at the light and it would be right beneath the water tower.  It was a very accurate description... the water tower was directly over the gift shop just to the right of the entrance to the restaurant.
They asked at the entrance whether we wanted to be seated inside or out.  Not being sure of the wind and how hot it might get, we said inside.  Well we walked through the door into this very large covered porch kind of room with windows that were probably 12 feet high that opened to make it like a completely open porch.  We were seated at a corner table that hung over the river.  It was almost like we were in a garden.  It was really a great atmosphere in there, complete with a longhorn over the fireplace.

Gruene is a quaint little town with  several antique shops, a general store, an outfitter and a couple boutiques. Totally enjoyable day. Almost definitely a place that I would take any visitors we might have come from out of state... that would be after they have been to the RiverWalk and Alamo.

It's another busy week ahead.  Hope you have a great one.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stained glass quilt

Among my many projects, I completed one of the quilts that had a deadline... that is for my friend Lynne.
This was quite an undertaking until I figured out that crossing from one window to the next would not show on the busy backing.  I started off beginning and ending in each window.  My husband came out to watch me for a while and he asked me why I was doing it that way.  I had already rolled once, so he could see the backing clearly... and you really would have to hunt to figure out where it crossed from one window to the next.  He has such a good eye for things that make my quilting so much easier.  I was able to cut my quilting time down considerably once I changed to his suggestion.  Lynne picked up her quilt already, and she was very pleased with how it turned out.

Back up to Monday, which was a holiday, and typically it is our Monday quilting day.  A group of us ladies decided it would be a good day to go shopping for quilt supplies.  We hit JoAnn's first and took advantage of some coupons.  One lady bought some really nice curtain rods for 80% off.  I needed another thread rack and they had some good deals on storage items.  Lunch was at a nice Italian restaurant that we all have been to before and we found our opportunity to return.  We then hit Memories by the Yard, one of our favorite quilting shops.  Found some really great fabric there. We also had some coupons for Hancocks and Hobby Lobby, so we stopped there (they are next to each other) before we headed home.  We had a really good time shopping and we all enjoyed each others company which made for a very fun Monday.

I spent a good part of yesterday taking apart neckties so I can use them for creating a couple crazy quilt stockings and some more ornaments...  maybe I'll do a pillow.  I had a gentleman at church give me a couple dozen old neckties.  One thing I have to figure out is what I can do with all those linings from the ties.  They really retain their shape, just don't know what to do with them.  It would be a shame to throw them all away. That's why my sewing room is so crowded... I might find something to do with...

Last evening we had to shut all our computers down... the lightning and thunder was quite close and very loud.  We have a few UPS units on our electronics, but with the force of some of the thunder storms around here, when it is close, we unplug all the important stuff.  We have too much money invested in equipment to take any chances. 

I need to get busy quilting.  Hope you are having a great day.