Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy time in South Texas

It has been a week since the Once a Year Holiday Market, and I am very happy that it happens only Once a Year.  The two setup evenings are very labor intensive.  We have a small space to put alot of fixtures and tables.  For starters, the walls are covered to make the customers feel like they are in a little gift shop.
Although we each have a designated area, our items can be placed around the shop with like themed items. There was a big variety of handcrafted items from edibles in the kitchen area, a kidz korner, lots of jewelry, paintings, quilts and sewn items, all the way to a blacksmith's creations.

One of the perks you get from being at a show is you get to meet lots of new interesting people... at least the first time anyhow.  They all have their own talents.  Sometimes they do things you couldn't begin to create yourself, but sometimes you can discover something you didn't know existed before.  One of those was Chili Pequin Jelly.  Now I would never in 100 years think of buying a jar of Chili Pequin Jelly.  For those of you who are not from South Texas, Chili Pequins are among the hottest peppers you want to encounter. 
They can hurt you really bad.  One of the ladies had to bring in an open jar for the workers to try in the kitchen.  If you take a jar of hot pepper jelly and pour it over a block of cream cheese, then spread it on crackers, you will experience an awesome treat... and outside of a little kick, you would never guess how great a treat it could be... made with chili pequins.  I actually made a batch of jelly this afternoon, and upon testing it... you can tell that peppers are in it, but the heat level is very minimal.  My husband who does not do hot in any shape or size, took a taste at my prompting and was pleasantly surprised.
I have not made jelly for many years.  I have not lost my touch.  Chili Pequins are so hot that this batch of jelly only used 8 of those pea sized pequins.  The pequins are red when they are ripe, but the red color comes mostly from the 4 red bell peppers.  I have 9 jars of jelly, and the little bit that was left that I put in a small bowl jelled very nicely, so I'm confident that they will all be set up nicely.

Yesterday my husband asked me if I was going to put the blocks from my Farmer's Wife Sampler back up on the design wall.  I took them all down while I was finishing up some items for OAY, so when I loaded up everything I was taking to the show, the wall became very empty.  No color to brighten the blank wall.  It has been nearly two months since I added any new blocks to the 58 that I had complete before I started my final crunch for the show.  So I put all the blocks I had completed back on the wall.  With 111 the final goal, 58 done means I have a bit further to go.  I sat down and got 4 new blocks sewn in one afternoon.  My biggest challenge with these blocks sometimes is picking out the right fabric to do each block.  I have lots of fabric in my stash... too many choices. 

I thought I would take the time to post some new pictures.  It has been a while since I have had the time to put together anything decent out here.  Hope you enjoyed today's post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Take your pickles up a notch

I have no picture for this post, but I have told a few people about the pickles that I make and have decided that I could post the directions (recipe) here.

First I buy a gallon jar of dill pickles (hamburger dills) at Sam's, and a small can of sliced jalapena peppers from the local grocery.  Two cloves of garlic that I cut into slivers and one cup of sugar.  I use a large glass jar - 2 quart that has a tight sealing lid.  I put a couple slivers of the garlic and some of the jalapeno peppers in the bottom of the jar then I start transferring pickles from the gallon jar into the 2 quart jar.  I layer the pickles with the garlic and peppers until I have transferred about 1/4 of the pickles.  Put all the juice from the jalapeno peppers and enough of the pickle juice to almost cover the pickles.  You want to leave enough of the juice in the big jar to do the remaining pickles.  Now you add the 1 cup of sugar on top and close the lid tightly and turn the jar over so the sugar will start to dissolve.

For two weeks, every day you turn the jar over once...  so one day the jar is sitting on its lid and the next it is upright.  At the end of the two weeks your pickles are ready to eat.

If you have a way to weigh the jar of pickles before you start transferring pickles you can make sure that you only use 1/4 of the pickles and juice at a time.  If the jar you use is large enough and you want to divide it into thirds instead of quarters, the only measurement I would change is the sugar.  If you like your pickles with a little more kick, use a larger jar of jalapenos and maybe add another clove of garlic.  After the first batch you can decide how to adjust the second batch. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some of my purchases at IQF

I saw lots of treasures as I walked through the aisles of the Festival... in fact there were so many vendors it was difficult to focus in on what I should purchase.  Two or three of the items that one of the other ladies had bought created inspiration when we ran into each other through the day, we'd say "what'd you find"... then we had to find our way back, sometimes with difficulty, to the booth that offered the item.  With only one day, it would be almost impossible to see all the treasures that were hidden among the sea of booths, so splitting up and finding different treasures, we all got to see more.
I did not have any projects in mind to buy fabric for, and I have many kits waiting to be opened, so the only fabric I bought was a handful of fat quarters.  I always buy a few fat quarters, no matter what quilt shop I'm in.   I cut up some scrap fabric the next day to try out the new tool I bought... the CD was the instructional video.  So the red item was a practice piece I started, not a purchase.
The very first purchase I made was the blue rotary cutter.  It closes automatically when you finish your cut.  It was at the Kai Scissor booth, and I love my Kai Scissors, so I knew I had to have that rotary cutter.  My sister had told me to look for the Fiskars little finger cutter... I haven't had it out of the package.  The two different ruler sets were both one of those purchases made after someone else found them.  There were many great demos going on to show all the fancy tricks you could accomplish with these neat rulers.

I made a few other purchases, but these were the items I could put my hands on quickly.  I missed some real good fabric booths.  A couple of my friends found some really great buys on some batiks... and I did see some really nice kits, but adding to my stockpile of kits was not in the plan.

In two days the Once a Year show opens and I think I have everything ready... this week is going to be crazier than last week.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Houston was great

It is Monday and I'm still in awe of my day last Thursday at the International Quilt Festival.  I would have liked to take a class or two, but by the end of the day on Thursday, I was ready to go home.  Of course if I was going to be there for more than one day, I could have taken more rest breaks to relieve my legs and feet.  There was so much to see and I knew it was going to be a feat to see all there was that I wanted to see.  I went with 5 other ladies, so when we compared our finds, there were a few things I didn't get to see myself.  I didn't buy much fabric... I only bought a dozen fat quarters, but I bought several different rulers and a really neat rotary cutter that closes itself when you are not cutting. 

The highlight of the afternoon for me was
to meet all the quilters at the TQS booth at the Meet 'n Greet at 1.  I had not realized that Alex was as tall as she is.  There were too many names and I don't remember who everyone was, but there were a few that I clearly remember because I have exchanged messages on TQS, or have seen posts by them.

My friends from Mississippi.  Everyone was really enjoying the opportunity to meet lots of great people.

I missed getting a picture of the six of us - my friends that went to the show with me on the bus.  We all had a really great experience, but there were very few times when we were all together.  We kept in touch via our cell phones, letting the others know when we found something really neat, and when we were heading to the food court.  This is one of my friends who was at the TQS booth at the right time to get Ricky to sign her book.  I got my book signed too.

We are already talking about doing it again next year.  The bus ride was great... no worry about driving or parking, and finding our way there.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Only two more days...

plus a few hours... then we leave to go to Houston.... that would be Thursday morning. There are six of us going in my little group.  We are all getting on a bus at 7am.  Of course we are leaving an hour before that to be able to get to where the bus will be picking us up... and of course getting up about an hour before that.  Hopefully we won't be too wound up on the bus ride back so we will be able to sleep for a while after a long hard day at the International Quilt Festival.  We are all very excited to be going.  I'm sure to have some neat pictures when I get back.  I have monogrammed 6 yellow backpacks for me and my quilting buddies.  I will have to get someone to take a picture of us.  The key here is to be hands free at the show.  No heavy purses and not having to hold onto something when you are looking at all the treasures they will have for sale there.

Today at quilting I showed a couple ladies how to make a block that I learned how to make last week.  I don't know the name, but it was a really neat trick to get it done, and all the ladies were impressed.  I'll maybe post a picture when I get a few more blocks done, as they look pretty neat when you lay them out together.  The other item that was discussed today was about the sweater stocking that I brought to show them.  I wanted their opinion about the bows.  I wanted to embellish the stockings, but not sure how.  I should have known to leave the bows off.  If I make something and I look at it and think it looks nice, usually it works.  Well these stockings looked good, but I was not sure about the bows.  They all thought the stocking was neat, and they all also agreed to ditch the bow.