Wednesday, March 30, 2011

French Onion Soup

Here is a great soup recipe!

Get six large sweet onions and chop them coarsely.

Put them into a huge pot with about a half a cup of vegetable oil and sweat them over medium heat until they are carmelized.
The carmelization takes longer than you might think, at least 30 minutes.
Next add one box each of beef and chicken broth and heat up the mix. Serve with floating slabs of toast that are sprinkled VERY heavily with shredded Parmesian cheese.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Funny Triangular Units

At last! I gritted my teeth and finished these twelve funny triangular units for RRCB's borders. The fact that two small seams had to be unsewed or ripped just created a really stupid mental block for me. I realized as I worked on it tonight, that I always felt like a failure when I was ripping a seam. It meant I had sewn something WRONG. Yet, here I was, following instructions as part of the process of construction. It was weird to admit that I am trapped in a lil rut there. But here they are, all done!

Fun with Flying Geese

Our weather is STILL very cold and windy today, in spite of all the sunshine. Twenty two degrees this morning!!! Will it EVER be Spring?

My Mount Hood daffodils are up but not growing in this frigid air. They are very hardy, but I worry when the nights are 18 degrees! So I ran over to the next town where there is a supermarket about six miles away and bought two bunches of daffy's for $4 each. ANYTHING, please! Just to pretend it is Spring. I took a couple of bunches over to my sister, Suzanne, too and enjoyed a cup of green tea with her.

But I have done some piecing, too. The little odd triangular pieces for the border units of RRCB are half done. I'll finish those today and work on squaring up the 11" String blocks.
Yesterday I made another 28 flying geese and my pile of them is really growing! Each stack is twenty geese, mostly floral and paisley. They are such fun to make!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mother Nature's Tricks

Our weatherman, Josh Judge, expressed it best;
"Last week, it was Winter and it felt like Spring,
        this week, it is Spring and it feels like Winter!"
All my hopes for seeing my Mount Hood daffodils are dashed in this morning's Marshmallow World. At least I have two of my African violets to cheer me, and my two lady labs always bring a smile.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

National Quilt Day Celebration!

Today, a gorgeous Spring day, was National Quilt Day. I celebrated it by meeting Deb, a fellow-quilter and internet friend, in person for the first time to give her a great big hug. We met at Keepsake Quilting's store in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, where a big sale was raging. I betcha there were 50 to 60 shoppers in the store, lined up at the "ten FQ's for $10" table, jockeying for position.
We had lots of fun talking about our recent projects, especially on RRCB. She is still working full-time, so we compared notes as tortoises. Because we had never seen each other, I wore my scarlet tam'O shanter and my Belknap Mill Quilter's Guild name tag, so that she could find me in the crowd.
After we enjoyed a bit of time in a Dunkin' Donuts, we parted ways and I went on to Joann's. Today was the last day to use my 50% off any regular purchase coupon, and I was determined to make it count! I bought 6 yards of black quilter's cotton at $5 a yard and expected to use it on that. But then I spotted a 15 yard Roc-lon bolt of white bleached muslin for $30 and made that my coupon purchase. In retrospect, it didn't matter, now did it? I also found a lovely tawny golden cheddar and got a couple of yards of that.

Some people on Stashbusters' Yahoo group are trying to reduce their stash. I admire their noble efforts. But many quilter's who do not follow the financial markets are blithely unaware that all cotton prices went crazy when Egypt had a revolution. Cotton futures are now up more than 250% over last year. Because there is a significant time-lag factor with cotton, due to harvesting, ginning, spinning, and weaving & printing, the prices have not jumped yet. They may not until Fall. The futures have not been this high since the Civil War era's Northern naval blockades. So I am buying now. I expect that quilt shop quality fabric will sell for $30 to $35 a yard. I hope I am wrong.

 I also purchased 4 bags of tie-ups that Keepsake always uses to tie your bag shut in a festive way when you are done at their checkout line. A bag was $4.99 and the clerks said that the bags each held between 3 and 4 yards of fabric. Won't they be perfect for Scrappy String Quilts?

Last October, I gave a quick demo on making a 10 1/2" scrappy scarlet strings' block at my Belknap Mill Quilter's Guild Show. It was fun to show everybody what I had just learned myself. A lot of folks had never seen String Blocks. I had half a dozen blocks all made up so that people could try making zigzags, Vees, or squares. My favorite was the squares! So here is the result back from Tracy Szanto's studio at She just used a simple circular meander to help me save money, so it was under $100.00 for this 60X80" flannel backed charity snuggler. It is going to an elderly couple, she's 80 and he is 85, who cannot pay their oil heating bills this year. By the way, to me, the word "Charity" is a good thing. "Faith, Hope, and Charity, but the greatest of these is Charity!" I drove her to the local fuel assistance program and helped her apply.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mardi Gras at Marden's!

Yesterday was sunny and mild with virtually no wind. We keep watching the snowpack melt back, inch by inch. It was the first day since November that I could see the seat areas of my wooden deck furniture, but mind you, there was still a foot and a half of snow on the deck itself! LOL Spring makes us delirious. I was cheering to see grass, even as brown and muddy as it was, it was GRASS!!!!

I took the day off from being Felix's devoted URN (UN-registered nurse) to run away with seven of the ladies from my quilt guild on a field trip. We met in a parking lot and carpooled the 50 minute drive into Sanford, Maine to a department store named Marden's. Marden's is famous for their no-frills merchandising and rock-bottom prices. They put Walmart to shame. And they have a large fabric department in the Sanford store.

We were there to buy 100% cotton quilting fabrics, much of it "Quilt Shop Quality". Prices were $2.99 to about $4.49 per yard, which is a fraction of the cost at full retail. Most of these fabrics are either overruns or previous year's designs. It is guerilla marketing at it's best! I spent (or as Obama would say, "invested in...") all my birthday money on 35 yards of gorgeous cloth.

I had never been on this yearly trek before. It was such fun to chat all about our various quilt projects with each other and ooh and ahh over the yummy color selections we found. We shopped 'til we dropped! Then we went out to a cute antique-themed pub, named The Back Street Cafe, and indulged in gynormous sandwiches with even bigger glasses of raspberry iced tea.

I got home to enjoy a cup of coffee and found that my wonderful husband, Felix, had made one of my favorite suppers, American Chop Suey! But he REALLY NEEDED NAGGING!!!! He had NOT kept his foot up all day (diabetic/infected toe) AND had forgotten to take his diurectic pills from the morning at all. Sigh. I hope to make him behave tomorrow because Thursday we go to Dr. Vignati, the vascular surgeon, and I hope for good reports.
Here is what my fabric booty looks like before I prewash it all. Can you tell that I love RED!!!!! And purple is my neutral. Well, actually, I did get a big bunch of neutrals for Bonnie K. Hunter quilts. And one of my neutrals was a pale celadon or celery tone that fascinated me. I love just sitting there gazing at the pile going moony-eyed. What a goof I am!
 If you look at the middle fabric, it looks like a red. Can you believe that it is actually a chocolate brown with a medium-sized hot pink figure??? Here are some close-ups:

It was a fabric that grew on me, like an ugly bulldog that looks cute, so I bought 3 yards! LOL! I'll use it for borders, maybe?

Lincoln's Platform Block

Whew! This Saturday's Civil War Block was more difficult to piece accurately than I realized it would be! It's also known as Shoo Fly or Hole in the Barn Door. I had trouble getting the mid-rails to look nice and straight and, for the life of me, I dunno why. Here is mine just resting on the Sarah Morgan designed Civil War red by Blue Hills Fabrics. I think it really "pops" against the red.

The large-scale scroll print may not be in the most successful placement here. I like the way the blue-ish backgrounds play with the rails, but it would have been better to put the scroll in the center and use the red for the triangular churn dashes. If I get ambitious, I'll do it over, but don't count on it! LOL!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

VBG!!! (Very Bad Girl!!!)

I SHOULD be working on my Roll Roll Cotton Bowl blocks, egads, I only need 5 more to have the blocks done! But, NO!

The fancy boutique Children's Couture Shop had sold me some half-yard pieces of the most excruciatingly beautiful fabric. I had already hand-rinsed it in Orvus in the bathroom sink and ironed it dry. It was calling my name. I could not resist the siren's song. I began a new project! Wheeeeeeee! I had a ball!

I have admired so many of the lovely antique flying geese quilts on Ebay and love the red ones in particular. One was a solid turkey red with unbleached muslin with just rows of geese sewn together. It was a classic! Then another one had all unbleached muslin geese with the "sky" or background being all 1930's feedsack brights so that the geese were all a negative space design. So I decided to teach myself how to make my own flying geese quilt!

Ahh, but what size? Just strips of geese, or, geese separated by border fabric? Solids only? Or patterns?

After ruminating a bit while driving my trash to the dump (Oh, excuse me, the RECYCLING CENTER..., Aren't we grand?), I decided to plunge ahead as soon as I got home and cut into my favorite fabric combo of the pretty new ones.

It was an eggplant floral with an intricate paisley of sage greens and rose tones. The speed piecing went well and here are my first 32 geese made in about an hour:

Now, I ask you, wasn't I gonna  make a RED quilt????? LMAO!!! You just never know what the process of creating will do to you, now, do you?

Frances' 95th Birthday Quilt

I am honored to have a girlfriend, Frances, who is 95 years old on March 8th, 2011. She lives in Florida by herself independently in a very pretty doublewide that is in a park with an active elderly community. She shops for fancy outfits with black sequins so that she will look great every Saturday night at the community clubhouse for drinks, dancing and a live band. Frances dances with everybody and was dating an 85 year old man for a while. Her health is good and her mind is sharp. When she was about 85, she gave up smoking cigarettes from a short black cigarette-holder. When I grow up, I want to be just like her! LOL
Here is the quilt I sent her:

I had "cheated" on this quilt by purchasing the top already assembled by a lady in Caifornia who supplements her income by selling them on Ebay. I hadn't intended to buy it, I just bid $15 to try to get the price up for her and wound up winning the auction! My longarmer, Linda Monasky quilted it. I had trouble finding a warm cozy purple cotton flannel for the backing that was NOT juvenile. But I was in WalMart (mine is a small store that blessedly still has a fabric department)and this batik printed flannel was on the mark-down shelf for $3.44 a yard and was perfect!!! New Hampshire's State Flower is the common lilac, so Purple Snowballs were sent to Florida!
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