Monday, March 29, 2010

Cosmic Rules

Do you have Cosmic Rules at your house?  You know, the suspiciously regular timing of events despite efforts to the contrary?  Here at Casa de Orts, you always have to eat barbecue at 8:00 pm, you always have to go to the store at 10:00 pm on Sunday night for milk, you always put outgoing mail in the neighborhood central mailbox AFTER the mailhuman has come, the dog never has accidents on the 2/3rds portion of the downstairs that is tile, you always forget you didn't get your gas tank filled when you are in a hurry and don't have time to stop so it's on fumes all the way to work..and, tonight's event,  it is ALWAYS 11:00 pm when you put the topping on the cooling pie.  Of course the pie cannot yet go into the refrigerator because it is too warm.  Which is why I am posting at 11:00 pm because I now have to wait at least a half hour before it can be put away.

What I'm making is actually called a Cream Cheese Pie, my one dessert I am known for (cooking is so not my hobby!), straight outta the Betty Crocker Cookbook my grandmother bought me when I got married.  I like my graham cracker crust rustic so I crush the crackers but leave a few boulders in there too.  The recipe is super simple and requires no pre-baking of the crust.  Just pop in the filling of cream cheese, vanilla, eggs, sugar and a little lemon zest, and you're golden.  The topping is spread over the still warm pie but not baked.  Cool 8 hours and you will wow everyone.  This recipe is close, however the cookbook I have calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla in the filling, not 1/2 tsp, and the topping is 1 cup of sour cream plus 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  I use more crackers and butter and leave out the sugar in my crust.  It always gets raves, is perfect with sweetened fresh strawberries, and is a dangerous thing to have leftover in your house...it calls to you continually to "even up" the slices.  This is why I only make it either to take somewhere or if we are having company!

Erica told me that it was cruel to her and Grant not to make two pies, since this one is destined for a co-worker's birthday tomorrow.  She said I have three days to make it up to her.  She also mentioned that she hoped the Easter Bunny knows that she prefers chocolate Bordeaux eggs from See's Candies.  I told her I'd send the Easter Bunny a memo.

It's now time to put my cream cheese pie to bed...followed by putting myself there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Updates

I have a few updates to share.  The first is that Jasmine received the little blogaversary giveaway quilt.  Glad it made it safely to OZ!   She's still in the process of completing a blogaversary quilt of her own.

Next, the end of the story about Erica's car accident, remember, when she hit through branches of a huge tree that fell across the freeway and the insurance company said it was her fault, in their preliminary decision?  The stupid adjuster called back with a "final decision" a couple of weeks later, sans Highway Patrol report, and said that they had googled the accident site and that it was a straight road and she should have seen the tree.  Grant was livid and chewed them out some, saying it was dark and impossible to see until too late.  The stupid woman then told him "Well, maybe she shouldn't have been going 65 mph". Unbelievable!  Our agent filed a protest for us.  The insurance company days later then had to recant their "final" decision when the Highway Patrol report stated that it was dark, there was no way to see the tree, and it was not the driver's fault!!  Yay for us!  I hope this is the end of that story.

Next, I finally caught up this week with my pieced star blocks for the Greenpiece BOM.  Here are months 3 and 4:

Just love the colors in these fabric lines, lots of medium and deep colors--my faves!
Not doing too badly with my points and matching either!  I completed these blocks just in time for this....
Yep, as scheduled, the BOM keeps on coming, ready or not!  This month's instructions show the entire quilt layout and includes the border fabrics.  I have got to get on the stick with the wool applique this weekend!
Another delivery brought this free kit ordered from Downy Touch of Comfort, for Quilts for Kids.   It is partially precut in strips and comes with instructions and a label.  I've long wanted to do some charity sewing and this fits the bill perfectly.

They ask for it to be returned in 10 days** so that's another project that needs completion fast.  Finally, the mailhuman should be bringing one final package this month, my Jewel Box swap returns.  Looking forward to seeing what I get back, and will be sure to share.  Now, though, I'm off to Bunco with the ladies.  It's Mardi Gras theme (not sure what that means!) and am ready to slough off the cares of the week for some fun and laughter. Bye for now!
**Edited to correct due date.  I got my kit in about 10 days from ordering; the finished quilt is due in 4 weeks.  So I have a time reprieve. Whew! 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good excuse

I have a very good excuse as to why I did not post the promised photos yesterday...I left my camera at the bridal shower I attended yesterday!  But that gave me the opportunity when I picked it up to have a private visit with this happy, about-to-be-married woman, my dear friend Tanya...
...who was extremely excited about a Target gift card here.  She was equally excited about the bag I made for her:

This was made all from fabric I had on hand, from a pattern called Market Fresh in the December Quilts and More magazine.  The orange print was from the Katie Jump Rope line, as was the brown print band on the inside.  It's a good sized bag, 20 inches wide by 17 inches deep, with a squared off bottom to hold lots of stuff and outer pockets on both sides .  I put a cookbook in there.

It took 3 1/2 hours to put this together, including cutting the pieces (twice for the bag front/back when I cut the wrong width! Pesky math again).  The instructions for the straps used midweight sew-in interfacing but if I made this again I would definitely use fusible as it was rather tedious to have to pin and hold the interfacing down the middle of the strap before folding over the opposite 1/4" turned edge to the center and sewing. 

My quilt hanger assisted on a bit of a windy day for the completed top shot.  This is Rick Rack Road from the Fall/Winter 2007 Quilt Sampler magazine, which I started some months ago as told here.

A foot peeking out of the bottom and the neighbor's chimney and trees coming out of the top...a fine composer of  photography I am not, but you all know that already! 

This is the floweriest thing I have ever made but I'm really liking the purples, greens, and other soft colors for Spring/summer.  Batting has been purchased and soon this will turn into a quilt!  I was able to get some sewing done late on National Quilting Day, cutting and sewing the Greenpiece BOM pieced blocks that I have been behind on completing for the past two months.  Next month's batch will be here soon and I have yet to get the wool applique blocks started.  But I do have a plan and that's half the battle of beginning!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday again..and some tumblers

These past few weeks have been very difficult workwise so I am even more eager for the weekends to come.  Luckily I have lots of places to visit in blogland even if I have nothing particularly blog-worthy to post!  I have been ogling Tumbler quilts ever since I made my Halloween one last year.  A reminder:

This is not the finished project but shows the fabrics from the charm pack I used (which was several years old at that point).  The tumblers are 3" finished and I used an acrylic template I bought at JoAnn's Fabrics.  That set me on a course to cut up a lot of my scraps with the tumbler template.  Tumbler quilts kept catching my eye, such as these beauties:
Do you explore other bloggers' blog rolls?  I love to see where other folks get their inspirations and sometimes spend an hour (or more!) hopping around.  I get a lot of pleasure from this and find myself smiling as I do.  It's a great way to escape from the drama and worries of the week!

Tomorrow I'll share the two projects I've worked on this week in the sewing room.  I have a finished top and a finished bag that need to pose outside.  Happy Friday!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shamrocks in bloom

Thursday night I stayed up late completing the shamrock office-raffle project.  I decided to make it a "real" quilt by binding it instead of doing a stitch and turn.  This was a no-extra-cost project, as I used leftover binding and strips, leftover batting, and stash/scraps. 
The colors are so much warmer in real life!  I took this in mid morning on my dining room table so maybe that accounts for the poor coloring. 

I love a pieced backing! 

A little closeup of the quilting.  I stitched around each block and the shamrock shape and stem.  I'm calling this a tabletopper since I did not put a hanger on it.  It was really fun to make--and hard to give away!  Especially since green is my favorite color.  My cubicle-mate won this and she promptly put it back up on the divider between our desks.  Congratulations, Yadi!

This is the one I made for myself--I finished it this afternoon and took photos.  The colors are much truer in these shots.

I told the story of the little stand here.  Now I have three things to hang on it.  The other is a pumpkin block for fall and I have a Christmas tree block I also have plans for.

I like how the white quilting looks kind of like lace on the back.

I had a lot of fun doing different free motion quilting in all the different sections. 
Okay, so that's ONE March goal crossed off...er, how many days left in the month now?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A plan and some shamrocks

My older brother is turning 50 this year and asked me to make him a quilt.  Of course I agreed, since I made our other older brother a quilt in his 50th year too.  My brother Tyler is a traditional guy and requested traditional colors, nothing loud or girly.  He also mentioned he has a king sized bed.  I told him I am NOT making him a quilt that size, however, it can be a good sized throw.  I cast about for a simple, traditional pattern and decided on bowties, a la Finn.  I chose 6 1/2 blocks since I knew I wanted to have 50 bowties, each a different print--for me, scrappy is best!--and these are easy to cut from leftovers.  But what to do for the setting?  Hmm, pondering.  Graph paper and pencil came out.  I tried some of the more traditional settings, but in the end this plan appeared (ignore my poor picture taking skills, yet again)
I liked the asymmetrical setting but still ending up with 50 bow ties.  I thought the double four patch blocks added a bit of interest.  My original plan was to use background fabric throughout.  I made a mock up of the double four patch blocks and laid them out.

Ok, b-o-ring!  Some whites and creams should liven it up, scrappy again.

Yes, better.  But which way to lay them out?  That's where I need some input.  Should the lights be on the diagonal like this:

Or do they stand out too much and overpower the bowties?

Here the colored squares are on the diagonal.  It may take some further mockup to test this out, but I'd appreciate some chatter.

Shamrocks have been forming under my rotary cutter and sewing machine.  I made this one for me, to hang on a mini-quilt frame I won at a quilt show silent auction a couple of years ago.  It will be 12 inches square. 
 
Some of these fabrics I have had a long time in my stash.  The colors are brighter IRL. Haven't decided how to quilt it yet but it will be bound in the brighter green.  The stem pieces are vintage--the bias tape came from my mother-in-law's workbasket and is probably decades old! 
These three are for a giveaway at work:
Since this pic I've added the side sashing in the same cream with cornerstones in the top and bottom corners.  I'll probably do a stitch and turn as I did with the other wallhanging I made last month for Valentine's Day.  Next they'll be clamoring for a May basket!  Hmm, I love baskets... 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bits and Bobs

I love that expression--so much more fun to say than "some stuff'"!  My quilty activities this week included sending off three things in the mail:

The blogaversary giveaway quilt got its plane ticket to Oz and is flying to Jasmine in Victoria, AUS, complete with its caramel binding and the patterns.  Jasmine is also celebrating her first blogaversary and has a giveaway of her own.  Find her beauty of a quilt here and tell her I sent you!
These Jewel Box blocks were sent off to New York to a member of the quiltbiddies--a Yahoo Group I belong to, for a swap she is hosting.  Can't wait to see what returns to me!  These were made from my scraps/stash, with the exception of the background.  White was the specified color and it is not one I usually have on hand as I tend to prefer cream or off-white.

Also sent off was the quilt for my nephew John, who turned 1 on March 3.  Hmm, this pic is not of the finished quilt.

Here it is!  My sister in law called me to say it was the cutest ever, she knew how much work went ito it, and it was perfect for his first birthday.  I'm pleased she liked it and hope it gets lots of love, dragging around, and washing!
This is a leftover pic from our Pismo weekend.  The first night our bed had towels formed into swans with their heads together, creating a heart.  This elephant greeted us the next afternoon.  So cute!

This pic is of our Granddog, Scully, wearing the flannel hoodie we bought in Pismo for him.  He tolerated it mostly, but it was too small and when he tried to walk he was stiff-legged, which looked hilarious.  He doesn't appear to be enjoying himself in this pic, does he?  Elaine loved the flannel and so I will be sending this back to the pet store and getting a larger size.

As of yesterday I no longer have any teenagers.  Erica turned 20 and we celebrated by going out to a Teppan style restaurant.  I haven't uploaded those photos yet so will share this one from Christmas (which I probably already posted, but Oh well!) with her brother.

 

I've been working on some pieced shamrocks for a St. Patrick's Day quilt, also from scraps and stash, with the addition of one of those remnants I bought a few weeks ago.  I'll show those when they are more put together.  Meanwhile, here is a link to another beauty of a shamrock quilt.  Inspired, anyone?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take a little trip

Grant and I got away for the weekend, just up the coast about two hours, to Pismo Beach.  It was wonderful to relax and enjoy a couple of days without work or other obligations intruding into our time together.  By coincidence, a good friend of Grant's and his wife were also celebrating their anniversary by weekending in Pismo and we got together several times, which was fun.  It was overcast on the way up, perfect for driving, and rained hard Friday evening, night, and Saturday morning, but then the weather was perfect. 

Cottage Inn by the Sea
Our room had two king beds!  We had a peek-a-boo view of this:

This pic of Pismo Beach Pier above was taken from the lovely garden at the foot of the Inn's property.
The succulent garden was gorgeous!
Someday I'd like to do my frontyard over like this.  After breakfast we drove the mile or so to downtown Pismo.
We were at about the point of the last palm tree on the left, going to the boardwalk and pier, when a familiar looking woman passed in front of me...it was my Aunt Peggy-- followed by her husband Tommy-- who had driven to the coast for the day from the San Joaquin Valley.  Another 30 seconds and we would have missed each other--amazing coincidence!  We visited for a short while and then they took off to go do their real errand, visiting a vintage guitar shop.
The hotels line the bluff between the coast and the 101 highway.  There is a wide beach that extends for miles southward, ending in dunes that are popular with the ATV riding crowd.
Mr. Pelican agreed to be background in this photo.  We traded portraits with a trio of pier walkers.  It was really windy and the lady caught me trying to keep my hair out of my mouth! 
I loved the little white birds and their reflections in this shot.
Segways for rent!  Pretty entertaining to watch people try these out.  Grant accompanied me to a quilt shop where the only thing bought was a quilter's tattoo.  We did some shopping, eating, and people watching in town, before heading back to the hotel for some lazing about. Grant put the tattoo on my ankle, took a photo and we tried to fake out the girls that I actually got one, which was a bit of fun (though they rightly didn't believe it!).  I was on the hunt for a quilt book so took myself up to Morro Bay--20 minute or so drive north--to The Cotton Ball quilt shop.  Some fabric jumped in my arms and I also found the book I was looking for, Kim Bracket's Scrap Basket Surprises.  Love that book!
The drive back brought gorgeous vistas like this.
This is Bishop Peak, I think.  It's north of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I remember there are cross country races that take place nearby.  The hills were so green and velvety, it made me wonder if that is what Ireland looks like.

While we were enjoying the fading sunlight in the garden, some wild bunnies came out to play, but didn't wait to get their photos taken.  So we had to take one of ourselves!
Sunday morning we had to pack up and leave, too soon, but before we went there was one more adventure.  The sea was pretty brown and churned up but lacy with foam.
 
We descended  this steep staircase to the beach.
And watched the waves crash for a while.
We headed back down south with plenty of memories from our short weekend getaway. On our way home, we left the 101 for the back road to Santa Barbara, Hwy 154, passing through Solvang, a Danish themed town.

  More gorgeous vistas greeted us on the highway.  Californians savor the short months of green hills--too often they are brown, brown, brown!
A little snow on the peaks of one of the ranges.
A peek at a piece of Lake Cachuma from a fast-moving car.
This beautiful sight from the far end of the valley as we climbed the mountain to San Marcos Pass, above Santa Barbara.
Coming down the other side, our beloved Channel Islands appear off the coast.  Oops, I got in this photo too!  It was a wonderful trip and we enjoyed every minute of it.  We promised ourselves we wouldn't wait another five years to do this again!