August 31, 2011

Putting The Pieces Together

A bit overwhelmed with the last summer heat wave and school beginning is a good way to describe where I am right now. Anna was sad all weekend about school starting, she wanted to play more, but on Monday she couldn't be more excited. I love the toothless grin.

First Day of First Grade

I have been working on one quilt project the last couple of weeks.

CW Block Units

Without the addition of a border of green, my Cathedral Window quilt is all set to be appliqued. The kids suffered through keeping the loft clean for 24 hours so I could lay it out on the floor.

Zoe & Cathedral Window Quilt
made with Sandi Henderson fabric

All the white units are pieced and I have seven more blocks, on the outside in the picture, to go. It measures 60 by 75 inches. I pieced and appliqued nine blocks this summer and I think I'll finish this new set by the end of September. It always seems to be almost finished, but I realized today I may only be halfway done. Tired of it yet? I love it, but being a one quilt girl is hard.

Does anyone have 3 inch square scraps of Henna in pumpkin to swap/share? I figure if this is going to be my orange quilt it should have some in there. Ideally I need one 12.5 inch square.

After our 109-112 degree heat wave last week, I didn't want anything to do with batting, basting or quilting. The good news is the batting fairy delivered and there is a sale on all batting at my LQS. I use Quilter's Dream Request, the thinnest loft, for all my quilts. My quilt tops might actually get quilted.  I am wondering if you use any other cotton brands with success. It's a bit odd that I wait/balk on spending money on batting after I buy all that fabric. Although I am glad I waited this time.

Christmas presents

I finished some kids pillowcases for their Christmas presents and bought some DS Sugar Creek and I am making some pillowcases with it for my husband and I in more respectable colors. I am going to sneak some lime ric-rac in ours.

DS Pillowcase (to be pieced)

The best part about these are there are no serging or unfinished seams. I wish I knew how to crochet some fun trim on a single fabric pillowcase. I actually tried that on my own and it was a complete failure! I have an orphan pillow case with holes around the edges in my sewing room. I am thinking about pom-poms and ribbons to fix it.

The charms go off for the Color Wheel Swap today. I am getting excited about what will come back.

Color Wheel Swap Charms

This week's stats:
New projects - 1
Completed projects - 1
Currently in progress - 14

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

August 21, 2011

Stick A Fork In Me Sunday #5: The Star Wars Cake

Every birthday I like to make a themed birthday cake for my kids.

This year it was the Tangled Birthday cake,

Tangled Birthday Cake

we've had a Hello Kitty,

Hello Kitty cake

and my son's Star Wars cake.

Star Wars Birthday Cake

He actually asked for a zucchini bread birthday cake. So there was something healthy in it, right? We make zucchini bread with regularity in the summer and instead of bread we make cupcakes. The kids love them. The recipe for that, if you're interested, is here in a post from last year.

Anything I ever learned about fondant and buttercream icing I learned here at Peggy's Baking corner! I have tried the premade fondant in a box and I have found that a simple recipe using marshmallows is tastier and easier to make.

The ingredients for faux fondant are

  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows, 16 ozs
(They have change the packaging this year so weigh out 16 ozs of marshmallows from two 14.5 oz bags)
  • 1    2 lb bag of C and H powdered icing sugar.
 Additionally, you need
    • 2 to 5 Tbs. of water

    • 1/2 cup Crisco.

    Melt the marshmallows in a bowl in the microwave. It takes me usually about 2 or 3 minutes in 30 second intervals. Dump the marshmallow bowl into a bowl with the powdered sugar. Mix the powdered sugar with the marshmallow with a spatula greased with Crisco.

    Use the Crisco to cover your hands and knead the mixture with your hands. The Crisco isn't an ingredient, but just a tool to keep the marshmallow from sticking unmercifully to you. Having fun yet? You should only add water if the consistency of the 'dough' is dry and breaking apart. It will feel like Play-doh.

    Place, covered with plastic wrap or bag, in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The extra bits of powdered sugar will dissolve and be incorporated into the fondant. Carefully wrapped, this is fine in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

    My cake schedule usually looks like this.
    Tuesday: make fondant
    Wednesday: dye fondant
    Thursday: cut out shapes for decorating
    Friday: Bake, ice and add fondant decorations

    I dye the fondant with regular food coloring. The only colors I use a special Wilton icing colors for is Royal Blue, Red and Black.

    You will never get past a pastel looking Lightening McQueen red unless you use these. I have also heard that a lot of Red food coloring tastes awful, so adding the Wilton no-taste red will make the icing or fondant taste keep its normal flavor. I use a tooth pick and add a little at a time. I knead and twist the color into the fondant.

    Use a rolling pin to whatever thickness you need and press the cookie cutter into the fondant. Refrigerate the design on parchment paper and add to the cake later with a bit of buttercream icing.

    I bought some Williams-Sonoma cookie cutters to make these designs.

    How cute would a fondant polka dot cake look or a pink Valentine's cake with lots of red fondant hearts? Any cookie cutter would make a cute design.

    I sometimes cover an entire iced cake with fondant icing like the Star Wars cake and the Rapunzel cake. Think of fondant as pie crust. You roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick, or less if you can manage it, and lay it over the cake. Avoid touching it with your fingernails as it will leave a mark that is hard to remove.

    I smooth the edges and cut them with a pastry scissor. You will have a ragged edge, but overall the fondant will lay flat.

    The edge or any imperfections get covered up by the designs or piped icing. I had tears in the Rapunzel tower fondant so I added a flower. I had bubble or two in the SW cake so I added a ship there. More icing can't be a bad thing on a kid's birthday cake!

    I really like Coolest Birthday Cakes for ideas. I hope you try this! I know my kids love it!

    August 17, 2011

    WIP Wednesday #6- Where are the coffee fairies?

    Do you ever wake up in the morning, wash your face with the hair conditioner by mistake, and realized that no amount of coffee is going to make you perky, alert and ready for anything that comes your way. Yup. Three days with a feverish child who finds your bed at night to play footsy with your nose does that. But I digress...

    I have not completed much the last few days, but I bought some fabric to start a pillowcase project for the kids. This Friday is the FNSI and I am determined to sew up three pillowcases for the noodles.

    I also bought some fabric for the Color Wheel Charm Swap that Katie is hosting at from the blue chair. I had green and green-yellow.

    I bought what I loved so I hope others will too. They are still waiting to be cut up, as I slightly freaking out that I will let the rotary slip in a caffeine induced haze.

    I also finished one block for the Cathedral Window quilt and I realized I was running out of background units.

    So I got on my sewing machine to sew more up. This is the last of them. *happy dance*  Nice and repetitive which is very easy to do while sleep-deprived.

    I have been using Susa Glenn's Little Turning Tool to make these squares have beautiful perfect little corners.

    I did finish a little pouch for hexagons a while back, but forgot to share since it went immediately into use. I failed on its original intent, ipad cover, but now it holds hexagons to be pieced. I finally figured out the whole zipper thing. Yippee!

    It resides in my new bag I was gifted last week. I am not sure if the intended purpose was sewing, but it had oodles of pockets for everything and well... I love it! Thank you my special women in my life!

    This week's stats:
    New projects - 1
    Completed projects - 1
    Currently in progress - 14

    WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

    August 12, 2011

    What I did this summer

    My daughter and I have been working on a Sherbet Pip Quilt since this last Saturday. Here is the result of our efforts.

    The Baby Sherbet Pip Quilt Zombie...

    Baby Sherbet Pips Quilt Zombie

    The Moda charm pack...

    The Charm Pack

    The layout...

    The Layout

    The favorite fabric...

    Her Favorite Square

    The in-action photos...

    The Action Photo

    The journal...

    The Journal

    The unexpected spot we love the most...

    Unexpected spot of joy

    This is a great beginner quilt since the top is made of one Sherbet Pip charm pack and some 3 by 5 inch rectangles so we didn't have to worry about lining up any corners. I just wanted to work on a quarter inch seam with her. Oops, we did add a row from some squares I cut from my Pips stash, because she thought it was too small.

    I did the pinning and ironing and we sat two chairs side by side at the sewing machine together. She sewed that entire charm pack up by herself. I helped with the borders, as the quilt top was too bulky for her at that point. She said it reminded her of the American flag? It looks like three flavored ice cream to me.

    I said 'freeze' a lot  so she wouldn't run over the pins. Some seams will hold better than others. I love that she ran to the other room and yelled to her Daddy, ' Look! Look what I made!'  Tear... I am seriously impressed.

    We will send this to the quilters, *cough* Mommy, and it will hopefully be done before school starts in a couple of weeks.

    Dear Anna,
    This week has been sheer joy to spend with you. This is the best birthday that a Mommy could ever have. I love you so much.

    August 11, 2011

    Just a Peek...

    Sherbet Pips Quilt

    It isn't my WIP, it's my daughter's! I am so proud of her! Our favorite part is the cute pink hedgie!

    August 10, 2011

    WIP Wednesday: #5- The Cathedral Window Quilt

    Since I have a lot of projects, this week I'll share the one I have made the most progress. My Cathedral Window Quilt has 111 windows completed. I originally had a goal of one a day, but now it seems I average exactly 1/2 window a day.



    Three bottom blocks from the before picture are filed away, and I will more than likely pull them out this week. I finished the top right one this morning. I'll attach and fill in all the missing windows much later, as the 15 inch blocks fit perfectly in my storage cabinets.

    The lower row has some earlier odd blocks, but that was before I realized I liked making 9 unit blocks. Right now it measures 45 by 45 inches and I need to add another row and column of blocks before I add a border. I'll add another single unit colored border and do some hand quilting on the edges to finish. It should end up being 70 inches square.

    So here's hoping that I'll finish it this year.

    On another note, does anyone have advice on applique needles? I use size 11 James John milliners and I always seem to tarnish them within the week or bend them. Is there ones that are stronger? Or do I need to buy in bulk! :)

    This week's stats:
    New projects - 0
    Completed projects - 0
    Currently in progress - 14

    WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

    August 8, 2011

    Garden Party HST Quilt

    Having some Garden Party half square triangles leftover from my Single Girl quilt, I had to become creative.

    Garden Part HSTs

    I was originally going to use it for the border, but didn't like the look. There were too many for a pillow, but not enough for a quilt. I was inspired by a modern baby quilt at the little red hen and decided to showcase them on a solid.

    Garden Party

    I wanted to experiment with quilting something other than straight lines and went for some texture like her quilt did.

    closeup of Garden Part Quilt

    It took lots of thread! Mettler 642 is a perfect match for the Kona Coal. I just wiggled this quilt under my walking foot. It was fun and relaxing to just let the pattern happen. I stitched in the ditch around the 3 inch half square triangles.

    Quilt Twins on my couch

    It measures 44 inches by 64 inches and it sits next to the Single Girl quilt on my couch. I might take a break from the Kona coal, but it's great for kids with gray socks on the living room couch. I didn't think the seam from the backing would show too much, but I guess that is what happens with quilting on solids that close together! Any name suggestions for this quilt??

    August 7, 2011

    Stick A Fork In Me Sunday #4: Brownie Love

    I love a good brownie and have been on the search for an homemade recipe. I found one at Food and Wine and it is delicious with its twist of Mascarpone cheese. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of my finished brownie pan, but that says it all.

    original recipe here at food and wine

    Mascarpone Brownies:

    Brownie Batter: 
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 
    2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
    1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
    1 cups sugar 
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
    3 large eggs

    Mascarpone Swirl:

    1/4 cup sugar
    1 large egg yolk 
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    8 ounces mascarpone cheese

    I used the following Ghirardelli chocolate and mascarpone cheese.

    Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square baking pan or use parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium saucepan, melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate with the butter over low heat.

    I use a glass bowl over boiling water to avoid burning the chocolate.

    Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 cup of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the vanilla. Whisk in the whole eggs, one at a time. Whisk the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until the brownie batter is smooth.

    In a bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the egg yolk and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

    Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking pan. Dollop half of the mascarpone mixture on top and cover with the remaining batter. Dollop on the remaining mascarpone mixture and swirl the batter a few times with a knife to create a marbled effect.

    Doesn't that look pretty?

    Bake the brownies for about 40 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Be sure to not let the Marcopone brown.

    Enjoy your homemade brownies! Next week, I'll share how to make fondant for that perfect birthday cake!

    August 3, 2011

    WIP Wednesday: #4

    I am really happy with this one...


    Kaleidoscope Quilt

    I finished my Kaliedoscope quilt top. I used DS Quilts Picnic and Fairgrounds. It measures 72'' by 84'' and is a generous twin sized quilt.  Thanks Elizabeth for the QAL motivation this July!  It will be hand-quilted and yo-yos attached at each intersection.

    close up-Kaleidoscope Quilt

    I am going to use size perle cotton in red on the white and maybe some other colors in the triangles. I was inspired by a quilt that did not credit the designer. I thought it was her design. It's poor etiquette not to credit the pattern designer! It would have saved me a lot of work too. As of today, I have no idea where I originally saw my inspiration quilt!! However, from a later search of "stashbuster" on google, I discovered it was the Stashbuster Quilt from Material Obsession 2. Well...  let's just say that book and Material Obsession 1 and 2 were put on my Christmas wish list!! I love this and this version of it too. (They are not the ones I originally saw online, but are incredible.)

    I am not sure how it is made in the book, but I used entire selvage to selvage lengths of fabric in random strips from 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

    Strips and more strips...

    I use all of the new Denyse Schmidt fabric line and when through almost a half yard of each.  It seemed like it took forever. I use 6.5 inch strips for the border and I have tons of leftover. I need a Stashbuster for my Stashbuster now! :)

    Ongoing Projects:

    I am also working on my Cathedral Window quilt from this post here. I am learning that if I am a one quilt girl with a  very light sprinkle of side projects, I can get somewhere. I have 3 and 1/2 Cathedral blocks done since this Saturday.

    4 Cathedral window Blocks

    I regret not working on them sooner. Once you set up the blocks, it is just a bit of applique. I made a mini with 2 inch windows, but I like this larger window size of 3 inches. I really want to finish and try some hand applique projects, but I am being good and finished up the projects I have started.

    Completed tops awaiting quilting:

    I actually went through this and it is depressing. I wish I knew a longarm quilter in Las Vegas that I trusted to do some serious professional custom work.

    Sampler 1
    Autumn Sampler 2
    Almost Liberated Amish Ohio Star
    Into the Woods Flannel Log Cabin
    Blue-Yellow Pinwheel
    Single Girl ( hand-quilt)
    Kaleidoscope (hand-quilt)
    Happy Zombie Cherry (almost finished hand-quilting)

    I hope to finish the bottom three this year.

    No progress:
    I didn't touch my postage stamp quilt (20 by 20 1 inch blocks) so my goal is one block for August.
    As of last month, blog break, the American Jane hexagon flowers are finished and this week I will decide on a random layout to start attaching them together. I started this last September so I am happy with the progress.

    This week's stats:
    New projects - 0
    Completed projects - 0 or 1 if you count quilt tops!
    Currently in progress - 14 (It feels like a whole lot more!)

    WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

    August 1, 2011

    Cathedral Windows

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this summer, not knowing the day of the week, and having the days slide by.


    It will be nice to blog more often and I am almost ready for {Sew} Modern Monday.

    I have finished my Kaliedoscope quilt top, as of last week, but mother nature just won't cooperate.


    I finally had sun, but my quilt ended up like this- even on the ground. It was too windy to shoot any quilt zombie pictures, unless you want a sushi quilt wrapped husband trying to hold the quilt in the breeze.

    Kaleidoscope Quilt!

    Level Failed....  My ipad has become a wonderful time suck during this blog vacation.

    If you want to see the entire top successfully photographed and another finished quilt you are welcome to visit later this week! :) 

    This weekend, I managed to complete a block of nine Cathedral Windows. The applique is going fast and I am halfway finished another.

    More Cathedral Windows

    I recently found out Sandi Henderson is also releasing a Henna Garden collection.  You can vote here to let her know what your favorites are. Mine is pumpkin and I would love an aqua. Do you have your favorite colors? I adore this design that goes with almost everything!