The Accidental Apron

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Online shopping can be tricky. I discovered eBay the other week (I know, I know, it's been around for a long time, I have friends who work for them and all that, but I hadn't bought fabric from eBay before). It is evil, in that deliciously tempting sort of way. And I bid on a bunch of items. And then, when I wasn't fully focusing, I bid on a charmpack of Oh-Cherry-Oh instead of Hello Betty (both of Moda fame).

It happens. Only this time I won it, and therefore owned it. Without any designated plans for it, I decided it was ideal for an apron. Hence the accidental cherry pie apron, featuring the blue/turquoisy prints, a red background, a yellow waistband, and long blue sashes that can tie in the front or the back. It's fully lined, making it reversible, and has a large front pocket perfect for recipes...or cell phones since I find that I frequently need to keep my cell phone handy and non covered with flour.

I decided the accidental apron was the perfect item with which to reinvigorate, er, re-open, my etsy shop. You can find it listed here. Perfect for a Mother's Day gift, I would argue.


Spring to Finish

>> Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jacquie came up with a brilliant idea way back when. She's encouraging all of us to complete works-in-progress, and report back to her on April 30 with our accomplishments. I hesitated to affirm participation as the end of April is also the end of the semester, with all the work that entails. But seeing as work for 2 classes (out of 4) is done, 1 paper is almost done (goal: turn it in by 5 pm tomorrow), and the last paper isn't due until June 1, I've decided I can officially partake of this project.

I have 4 WIPs (not to mention all the projects in my head, but I'm not sure if they count). I finally finished quilting the black, white & turquoise quilt (had to get more thread and fix the machine), so all that's left is binding. I have a sash/scarf that just needs some top stitching (got thread for that too). And then a couple other projects not ready to be revealed to the masses. But maybe by April 30, or a little bit after that. And earlier in the month I finished an apron. So maybe I have one completed and 4 to go for a total of 5. Maybe that's messy accounting, but it'll work. And as soon as I finish this paper, it's back to crafting for a couple days before resuming research and writing again in May.


Wonderland Trade?

I've got 16 5" Wonderland "Snip Snip" squares. Two each in tomato (above), pistachio, sugar tomato, sugar plum, glass, jam, chai, and sky. Alas I don't have a good plan for using them, and based on my blog reading, others have good, fun, and funky plans for them.

So...if you are interested in them, I would be interested in trading them for something, preferably fabric. It could be for charm squares, a fat quarter or 2, or anything you think might work. If you're interested, leave a comment with a trade offer and your contact info or send me an email (2hippos [at] gmail) with the same info. (Hint: I'm a sucker for many an Alexander Henry print, but I'm eclectic in my taste and love to learn about new fabrics.)

Or if you have a good idea for using them (I don't find them very baby-quilt oriented which is what I'm up to these days), let me know that too. My ears are open.

p.s. I've never used the blog to ask for a trade before, so this is an experiment. If it works, it works and maybe I'll do it again one day...or not. If it doesn't work, that's ok too.


Pay It Forward

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pay It Forward (PIF) is making its way around the crafty blogs (maybe others too, but I'm less attuned to those). The basic idea involves doing something for someone with no expectation of receiving any benefit and with the expectation that the recipient will in turn pass on the kindness to someone else.

I joined PIF over at Piecemeal Quilts, and I'm committed to *doing something* within the next year (365 days) for the first three people who comment on this post. By "doing something," I mean that I will make and mail something to you and do something for the greater good of the community. I'm adding the last part on myself, as I'm excited to do something for those who read this blog, but I also want to help those in need in my area. I'm not sure what it will be -- a donation of some sort (time, money, items) -- but I will do it in your name to a local organization that I think could benefit from resources and/or help (and in Michigan, there are no shortage of such places these days). I'll let you know about it when I send you a present of some crafting variety.

If you sign on, as one of the first three to comment, you commit to doing the same, to Paying It Forward via your blog. If you comment, please make sure I have a way of contacting you.

And apart from PIF, I'm committing to organizing a fabric swap later in the spring. Once I get it organized, I hope you'll help spread the word.


Because I am a glutton for punishment...

>> Monday, April 20, 2009

...I am thinking of organizing a fat quarter swap. Not today, since I have a big paper to finish, but maybe sometime in May? (Didn't mean to rhyme that, but it happens.)

Would you be interested?

If so, what have you liked about fabric (or other) swaps you've participated in? What do you think is a good group size? Good rules/instructions? Would you be interested in a theme or groups organized by a color (of fabric to swap) or any other organizational ideas?

Post comments below, and I'll use them as yet another way to distract myself while the term winds to a close. And, um, organize a swap. Maybe. Probably.



>> Sunday, April 19, 2009

I used to say I didn't quilt. "I just piece fabric together," I would tell people. They rarely believed me, though technically it was pretty true. The piecing part of making a quilt--the selecting the fabric, cutting it, and sewing it together--interested me the most. I didn't really know how to quilt, and I certainly didn't have a walking foot or a darning/free-motion foot. Truth be told, I still lack those feet (they didn't come with the sewing machine inherited from my grandmother, so I don't have them. One day, I tell myself, I 'll purchase them. And I really would like to be able to stipple quilt, but I'm getting ahead of myself).

But after a while the lure of actual quilting beckoned. The internet provided the incentives and the models. Blogs portrayed gorgeous quilts, first as pieced fronts, then as fully quilted quilts. I got more interested in exploring this new terrain. I realized I didn't need to do stitch-in-the-ditch, and I could even move beyond simple straight lines and diagonals. It was liberating to realize that I could free-motion quilt. No, it's not stippling, but it is free-motion. Like usual, I ignored the rules, didn't draw lines or mark the quilts before plunging in with (sewing machine) needle and thread. I found myself somewhat intoxicated by actual, real-live texture created by quilting. It sucked me in. And so I quilted, in an unplanned fan-like design. Until the thread ran out. Finishing the most quilted quilt I've ever done will have to wait.

And a big welcome to all the folks stopping by through the link from Blogger Festival. Thank you for your sweet compliments!


Quilt Festival -- Spring 2009

>> Friday, April 17, 2009

Park City Girl is hosting a blogger quilt festival. She's asked us to post about our favorite quilt. This was a tough assignment as choosing a single favorite meant passing over many quilts that I love. In the end, however, I decided to go with the Bento Box quilt I made for my mom and posted about here. I've pasted in that post here and added a few more details at the end:

* * *
My mom, as I wrote on the label of this quilt, taught me how to read and how to sew. She retired this June after 39 years as a reading teacher, and I decided to make her a quilt as a gift. Now that she'll have time to do her own pleasure reading, she (and the cats) will have a quilt to use.

As she loves yellow, I knew I wanted to use yellow in her quilt (and as the very soft fleece backing). I chose the other colors by thinking about what colors she wears -- bright green, royal blue, turquoise, various shades of purple. In addition, I had a lighter blue fabric in my stash with flowers in green, blue, purple, and yellow, and I figured it would tie all the prints together (you can see it in the bottom picture). It's also the last border strip before the purple binding.

I've seen quilts that use this bento box pattern, often with light and dark shades of one color. I went with light and dark shades of 4 colors. I have to confess that along the way I got worried as the individual pieces didn't look as great as I expected. But my roommate's dad, who happened to be in town the weekend I pieced, backed, quilted, and bound the quilt, remained confident that it would look fantastic together. His confidence bore out, as I really like the big quilt (a good-sized lap quilt, about 60" x 70"). It may be hard to see in the pictures, but I free-motion-quilted the top, playing with the intersection of rolling curves.

* * *
I was home last weekend for Passover and spent last Sunday curled up under the quilt (trying to) write a paper. Every time I see the quilt I like it even more, which is good, because, as noted above, I was very unsure of the color choices when I was in the middle of making it.

But I'm happy with the way the lights and darks play off one another. It was a quilt that taught me a lot about playing with a lot of colors in one quilt. I also went all out in terms of free-motion (really free!) quilting on my little machine.

And finally, since Park City Girl mentioned brownie recipes, here's mine.


Some Passover Recipe Options

>> Sunday, April 12, 2009

At the midway point through 8 days of matzah, when the delights (if they were) of matzah pizza and matzah brei have run their course, it's nice to start making meals that don't depend on bread substitutes. Or at least only require minimal substitutions.

Here are some options:

From 101 Cookbooks, carrot soup and/or Japanese cabbage pizza. The former needs no substitutions while the latter requires substituting matzah meal or matza cake flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. It may not be perfect, but it should work pretty well. Make both items, add a salad, and a nice kosher-for-Passover meal emerges.

From my own recipe section, there's always crustless quiche and crustless spinach pie. You could substitute broccoli for spinach and make a broccoli pie. Likewise, minestrone soups (take out the pasta and the beans if you're Ashkenazic, take out the pasta if you're Sephardic) work well. A good home-made tomato soup would make a nice meal-starter as well.

On the dessert front, fruit is a mainstay. But if your sweet tooth, like mine, craves something else, there's nothing like using even more eggs to help you out -- meringues and meringue-crusted pies offer one good option. Yet another path includes the veritable crustless cheesecake, for which I'll post my recipe soon.

And to those readers celebrating a different holiday today, Happy Easter.


Another Apron

>> Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm really enjoying playing with apron designs (or was enjoying, until my sewing machine decided to become uncooperative). I made this one for Torie, for her birthday. As she loves green, I knew the green fabric would be central. I designed the apron around the green fabric and the grey ribbon with dots. I've had the flower fabric for a while, just waiting to find the right project for it. And this got some of it. The pocket is larger than on my last apron, which I like, and I made the ends of the ties slanted.

A little blurry, but I like the sense of motion. I used the flower fabric on one side of the ties and blue on the other.

Another look, with sun streaming through from the windows.

* * *

Passover starts tonight, and I'm hoping to post a couple good veggie kosher-for-Passover recipes over the next 8 days. The keys to decent meals without leavened items (bread, pasta) or kitniyot (legumes, rice, etc -- Sephardic Jews eat kitniyot, and I know of many vegetarians who do as well in order to ensure there is a source of protein beyond eggs) are meals that don't require substitutes and meals that use quinoa (magically unknown to the rabbis way back when). I highly recommend good soups and salads for many meals, along with omelettes and souffles. But there are some other options, including some decent desserts if dairy is ok (cheesecake sans crust, chocolate mousse, etc).


Friday Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies/Cake

>> Friday, April 3, 2009

There are a billion recipes for chocolate chip cookies, and here I am to add my own. This is an amalgamation of a couple recipes, and one that I find works well for me...and those who eat the final results. And it's a nice way to use up that flour in the pantry right before Passover.

Chocolate Chip Cookies/Cake
~Makes 2 cakes or a lot of cookies

2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. skim milk
2 eggs
~1 package chips (chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc)

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla.

3. Add eggs to wet mixture and mix well.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Mix well.

5. Add milk -- you may decide to add more or less depending on how dry the batter is.

6. Add chips. Mix well.

7. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

9. If making cakes, split batter between 2 8-10 rounds (springform or cake pans). If making cookies, drop teaspoon sized rounds of batter on a cookie tray.

10. Bake cakes for 20 minutes at 375. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes at 375.

*The milk moistens the batter and makes the cookies spread more. You can leave the milk out, and everything will still be good.

*I've adjusted the sugars when I didn't have enough of one, and it's been fine.

*You can add more or less or a combo of chips. The pictured batter has milk chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.

*You can freeze the dough and save it to bake later.


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