Friday, November 27, 2009

Quilting and Decorating

Last weekend's construction project is really paying off this week. I went to the home renovation store and purchased Styrofoam insulation boards to level my quilting tables up to the height of my sewing machine. This makes it much easier to machine quilt quilts. Especially if you are doing free-motion quilting. I have been quilting a little bit for the the past couple of days and I only have a little bit more to finish the quilt you see. I have been using a basic wandering stipple style of quilting.

Now that the cooking and cleaning is done for Thanksgiving (except for a few more dishes) I have switched gears and started my holiday decorating. I remembered yesterday that last year I was having problems with a couple of the strands of tree lights so the decision for this year was - by all new lights or get a new pre-light tree. New pre-lit tree won out. Found a 7 foot pre-lit for $129. Considering that led lights were running about $16 for 100 lights and I needed 600 I thought the $33 dollar difference was worth not having to string lights for the next several years.
You may also notice if you had seen our previous Christmas trees that this one is considerably bigger. So while our past tree was stuffed with all our ornaments this one has plenty of room for expansion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Head Start on the Cooking

The Thanksgiving holiday cooking has been underway. Yesterday I baked these Chocolate-pumpkin brownies. Follow the link to the recipe. I will taste-test them today to be sure the are good enough for our guest, but if the batters are anything to go by they should be fabulous. I think this was the first time I have made brownies from scratch (the box mixes are so convenient). One change to the recipe I would recommend is not to use a double-boiler to melt the chocolate and butter - just microwave it - easier, quicker and fewer dishes. It says to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, but mine were done right at 30 minutes.

Damon was also busy cooking - or in this case making candy. The picture is of some of the torrone candy cut up for serving. He found a new recipe and it turned out really well. We also discovered that parchment paper works really well to keep the candy from sticking to itself and everything else. Damon made two flavors vanilla and lemon, both with almonds. It is a good thing we have friends coming over - don't want this amount of goodies around the house to ourselves.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quilt Guild Tree Decorating

For the past 3 years the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild of New York has participated in a fund raising event where local groups and businesses decorate Christmas trees and they are raffled off.
This is a picture of the group of us that decorated the tree on Sunday. Mary Lou, Kitty, Sandy (aka Sarge), Deborah, and me.
The tree theme this year was the 'Warmth of Winter'. Handmade decorations included mini-quilts, felt hot coco mugs, and mittens.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Retreat Report

Its been over a week since the annual fall Wadhams quilting retreat but between unpacking and going strait back to work (lots going on due to budget cuts to the college) I haven't had the time to take photos or post any info.

The first thing I worked on was a WIP (Work In Progress). About 2 years ago I was learning to do curved piecing and made all the blocks in the middle of this quilt. At the retreat I added the thin inner border and did the top diamond border and the bottom off-set flying geese border. I ran out of the black background fabric so once I pick up more if it I will finish it with 2 side borders. This quilt does not follow any pattern I am just making it up as I go along.

I also packed up a bunch of my fall themed batik fabrics and found a pattern called "Down Memory Lane" in the book Successful Scrap Quilts: From Simple Rectangles by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe. All the patterns in the book use 2 inch x 3 1/2 inch rectangle pieces of fabrics to make the blocks. So it is a lot of little pieces.

I did all the cutting and piecing while at the retreat so it is pretty impressive I got all the blocks done and started joining them into 4-block mega blocks - what you see here are the 12 mega blocks laid out. I still need to add a small border to the edges and then I will bind it with some of the leftover scraps.

By Monday I was a bit burned out on working on the bigger projects so I switched back to my old stand-by the New York Beauty blocks. I am using the blocks from Karen Stone's pattern and using my fabric scraps to make the blocks. Here are 4 of the latest.