The Silver Lining of a Bad Cold

  
I am now on day 5 of the 2016 Family Cold Event. It doesn’t sound very long when I write it, but it feels reeeaaaallly long. So far 5 of the 8 family members living here have had it, with a 6th thinking of coming down with it today. Throw in a 7th person who just randomly came down with a stomach virus one night (which thankfully only lasted the one night), and you can see that it’s been quite a week around here!

There is a silver lining to all this downtime, though.  I’ve been able to work on some quilt projects. My sewing desk has sat gathering dust for the last few months with the holiday busyness.  I was so excited for January to come so that I could get back to sewing, but I got sidetracked with other projects and was feeling like I would never get back to my desk. Enter the bad cold, which has me down enough to not do anything tiresome, but has allowed me to sit quietly and work on my quilts. 

  
I binded these two mini quilts. They are part of a monthly red work series that I signed up for at the quilt store. I’ll share more of these in the future. 

  
What I am most excited about is starting work on this new quilt called “Prep” by Sweetwater using their Varsity fabric line. I bought this kit from a quilt store on EBay with a Christmas gift card from my son Robert. If there’s anything better than getting a new quilt kit, it’s getting one for free!

  
I love the vibrant, classic colors in this quilt, and the diamond/argyle design pattern. 

  
All of those beautiful diamonds are cut out of this Varsity layer cake, which was the first step I worked on –

  
Next I cut out all of the background triangles – all 120 of them!

  
Then it was time to sew  learn some new sewing lessons!  I expected to sit down and stitch them all together like a breeze. But I was blissfully unaware of the wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing awaiting me. You see, sewing all these lovely pieces together meant lining up all the points to match and line up perfectly – a fact I was soon made painfully aware of as I blindly sewed and ripped out my first seam. 

Long story short – about 3 hours later, after 6-8 more ripped out seams, watching a couple of online tutorials (ah, the beauty of technology!), consulting my favorite how-to quilting book (pictured below), and a couple of “walk-aways” to give my congested head a break, I finally ended up with this –

  
Pathetic I know, but I was ecstatic!!  I met the beast and came out the victor! And I learned some new skills for piecing diamonds and triangles, which will hopefully serve me well in the future – at least they’ll help me finish this beautiful quilt.   Feeling accomplished I called it a day and went to eat dinner. I must have used up all of my brain cells for the day, since it was this same night that I forgot to lock the chickens in and the Charlotte disaster occurred. 

I haven’t picked this one up again yet – hopefully I will remember what I learned when I do!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I can’t wait to see this beauty come together!

Have a lovely evening!

Blessings, 

Nancy

Quilty Fun

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Here’s a little peek at some of the quilt projects I’ve been working on lately. I always have a number of them going at the same time, and work on the one I have time for or are in the mood to work on.

This is my Tree of Life quilt ~

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I participated in a half square triangle exchange at a local quilt shop a few years ago and this is what I decided to make from all of the half square triangles I received. The pattern is in this book by Edyta Sitar ~

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While all of the half square triangles were sewn on a machine, I am hand piecing it all together. I still need to applique some vines and leaves along the two sides, and then it will be ready to quilt and bind.

Another quilt I have been working on is this Jelly Roll Race Farm quilt ~

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I saw this quilt finished at the quilt shop and loved the farm fabrics in it, called “Coming Home” by Deb Strain.

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The Jelly Roll Race quilt is very simple to make and would have been done by now if I had the time to sit and work at my sewing machine for longer periods of time. I’ll keep you posted on this one as I hope to finish it soon.

I am also working on this wall hanging, usually while I’m waiting for Anna at cheerleading practice ~

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The pattern is called “Live Simply” by buttermilk basin. I am at the point of sewing around all of the applique pieces, and it is small, so it’s easy to take along with me.

And finally, I mentioned in my Daybook this week that I have just joined a new Block of the Month program that will result in a “primitive houses” quilt when finished. I sewed the first block yesterday. Here it is ~

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This quilt is called “My Neighborhood” by Beverly Ingram, and it has the cutest rail fence border around it. I’ll keep you posted each month on my progress, but at one block a month, it won’t be finished until next year.

I hope your evening has gone well. Only three more nights to enjoy the Winter Olympics – it sure has gone by fast!

See you soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Dusting Off My Quilts

It has been way too long since I’ve had time to spend working on my quilts – probably since some time before Thanksgiving. My sewing desk has looked pretty much like the above picture since then – except for when I had some Christmas overflow piled on top of it. The quilt laying across my machine is my Farm Fresh quilt. It is one of my absolute favorites – mostly applique, and full of flowers, pumpkins, and country containers. I have had these pieces for the next block all ready to go all this time, just taunting me on the shelf! –

Another quilt that I have been wanting to get back to is my Tree of Life quilt. Sarah and I took part in a half-square triangle swap at the quilt shop, and came home with hundreds of little squares in many different combinations of fabrics. I am using mine to make this lovely quilt –

I have all of the tree tops finished, and am ready to work on the trunks. This quilt is sitting on another shelf in my bedroom, quietly calling to me –

I recently bought this lovely jelly roll in beautiful blues and browns that is begging to be worked with –

After Christmas I used an Ebay gift certificate that I received as a gift and bought a quilt kit to make this wonderful wavey American flag wall hanging –

It will be a new challenge as it involves curved piecing, but it uses these pretty patriotic fabrics, so I can’t wait to start it –

I haven’t ordered it yet, but eventually I want to get the kit for this lovely blue and white quilt from the Connecting Threads catalog –

And then there’s my basket of Block of the Month packets that are patiently waiting for me –

I really don’t mind having lots of quilts going at once – it allows me to be able to work on whatever I feel like at the moment. I think, maybe I would like to schedule a quilting weekend soon, and spend lots of time reaquainting myself with my old friends.

Blessings,
Nancy

Civil War Sampler Quilt and Summer Cherries

I have a number of quilt projects going right now. Some are being sewn by hand, some by machine, and some are applique quilts. I generally work on the machine during the daytime hours and save the hand sewing for the evenings in front of a movie. I certainly don’t have time to sew every day, but I try to grab snatches of time whenever I can.

Most of the quilts I’m working on now are block of the month programs through one of the local quilt shops, but I have a few others that I’m working on as well. The first one I want to show you is what I call my Civil War Sampler quilt. I believe the official name of this quilt is Civil War Celebration, designed by Joe Wood from Thimble Creek Quilts. I have a habit of giving all of the quilts I’m working on my own names – just how I remember them best – for instance, the Star Medallion quilt that I’ve been working on for awhile (and which is close to being finished if I would just get around to picking it up again!) is affectionately known as the Waltons quilt, due to the fact that I sewed most of it during our late night stint of watching old Waltons episodes.

Anyway, the Civil War sampler is a block of the month program. The finished quilt will look similar to the lead-off picture at the top of this post. (I took this picture at the quilt store so that I could refer to it.). I have sewn twelve blocks so far – four each of three different patterns. Each set of four is made from four different fabric combinations, but using the same pattern. Here are the ones I’ve completed ~

All of the cream fabric in the quilt is muslin and it will have dark chains running diagonally throughout the quilt and between the sampler blocks (see picture at top). I haven’t started on the chains yet. I am sewing this quilt on the machine.

Another quilt that I have been working on I have named my Summer Cherries quilt, because the fabric is so summery, with flowers and cherries galore. The fabric is “Charlevoix = Summmer…Beach…Rural Americana…1910-1935” by Polly Minick and Lauri Simpson for Moda fabrics. It is a rail quilt because each block is formed by sewing strips of fabric together like fence rails –

I started with a jelly roll of fabric – for the non-quilters out there, a jelly roll is precut strips (2 1/2 x 44-45″) of an entire fabric line, all rolled up like a jelly donut. I saw this quilt at another local quilt store and fell in love with it, so I bought the kit they were offering and started on it. I am sewing it all on the machine, and am just needing to sew on two borders to have the top finished. Here is how it looks right now ~

That’s all I’m going to show you for today – if I spend too much time writing about it all, I won’t have any time to sew! I have several other projects to catch you up on – soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Blue and White Quilt

These beautiful fabrics make up a lovely blue and white quilt that I am slowly working on. It is a block of the month program at a local quilt store that I am participating in. The quilt is centered around twelve navy and cream blocks that are each different. Each month I make one of the twelve, and eventually I will get around to finishing the rest of the quilt. Here is a pattern diagram of the quilt design ~

My absolute favorite fabric in this quilt is the blue botanical print – I fell in love with it when I saw it, and it is what made the quilt irresistible to me ~

So far I have made six of the twelve central blocks ~

This is a Thangles quilt, which means that I use Thangle paper templates to sew the half square triangles on the machine and they turn out beautifully every time ~

I’ve got block #7 all prepared to sew when I get a few minutes to work on it ~

I can’t wait to see this quilt finished. Blue and White is my favorite color combination and I know that I will love this quilt when it is finished!

Have a nice day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

Back in May we purchased an electric grain mill and a Bosch mixer and I started making homemade whole wheat bread for my family. I did a bit of research and was amazed to find that wheat flour goes rancid quickly after it is milled and therefore, the wheat flour on the shelf at the grocery store is already rancid when you buy it. Milling my own grain at home when I am ready to use it gives me fresh, healthy flour, full of the nutrients that our bodies need. I also researched grain mills and mixers and felt confident that the Nutrimill and Bosch mixers were the best choice for my needs.

The recipe that I have been using to make our bread comes from the Joyful Living website. We purchased our appliances from them, as well as our grain and a number of the ingredients for making the bread. It is a simple recipe that has turned out well for me. I set everything out on the counter before I start so it is handy when I need it. Wait a minute! What’s that chocolate frosting doing there? I must have been baking a cake the day I took these pictures – just pretend you don’t see that! –

I start with grain – this is Prairie Gold Hard White Spring Wheat (which you don’t see in the above picture because it is in a huge tub on the floor!) –

I grind about 8-10 cups of wheat berries in the Nutrimill –

It turns out soft and fine – about 12-15 cups of fresh whole wheat flour –

Here are the rest of the ingredients in the recipe (minus the chocolate frosting) –

Into the mixer (with kneading arm installed) I put –

    5 1/2 cups warm water (140 degrees)
    2/3 cup oil (I use Safflower oil)
    2/3 cup honey (we get ours straight from the beekeeper)
    2 Tablespoons sea salt

I mix these together very briefly (a few seconds) –

I then add 5 cups of fresh flour and mix again briefly –

I then add –

    2 Tablespoons Instant yeast
    2 Tablespoons Dough Enhancer (optional)
    About 5 more cups of flour

I turn on the Bosch at a low speed and while it’s running, I continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl –

I then knead the dough in the mixer on low for about 6 minutes – that’s all it takes to get it thoroughly kneaded. I oil my hands and form 5-6 loaves, placing them in oiled loaf pans as I finish each one –

I let the dough rise once in the pans until doubled in size –

Then I bake the bread at 350 degrees until a hollow sound is heard when thumped (at least 30 minutes) –

I like to brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter right when it comes out of the oven –

I am still in the learning process of bread making, and am not an expert by any means. My first try using this system resulted in flat topped loaves – I think that I let it rise too long and it fell. I hope to improve my skills as I go along. Kristy Bell has some wonderful variations for this recipe on her Joyful Living site – pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, herb bread, sticky rolls. I fully intend to make use of these in the near future.

Another great website to learn about bread-making that I like is The Urban Homemaker. Marilyn has a great recipe there for homemade bread, and she also has the instructions for kneading it by hand if you don’t have the big mixer.

I used to make our bread using a bread machine, and I did like how it turned out, but I could only make one loaf at a time with it, and my family could (and would) eat that loaf up in one meal. Now I can make 5-6 loaves at a time and freeze some to pull out as we need it. I don’t need to bake it as often this way.

There’s not much to rival the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven – except maybe eating the homemade bread, spread with butter, fresh out of the oven!

Blessings,
Nancy

What just arrived in the mail . . .

. . . this order from Connecting Threads! Now let’s see . . . what goodies are included in this box? First there are fabrics from the Canning Day line by Mama’s Cottons – reminiscent of feed sack fabrics from the 1930’s –

And a pattern to make the “Kitchy Stars” quilt with these fabrics. The finished quilt will look like this –

Also in the box is this fat eighth sampler of the “Firecracker” fabric line – looks just like the 4th of July!

And finally, there is a fat quarter sampler of patriotic fabrics – beautiful colors!

It couldn’t have arrived at a better time – we are having a lovely rainy day and evening – just made for working on my quilts.

Have a nice evening!

Blessings,
Nancy