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Friday, September 30, 2011

Quilt Expo 2011 - Part 4 - A One of a Kind

This quilt is in a class all by itself.  It's not unusual for a grandma to make a quilt for her grand-baby, but this one has a twist.  The woman who made it saved her daughter's baby clothes and rather than cutting them up, she hand appliqued them intact!  The clothing is applied so that each item may be cut free and worn by her granddaughter.  And as baby grows up, she can see the images of her own Mama as a little girl. 

Kinda makes me all teary eyed, but in a good sort of way.  :)

Quilt Expo 2011 - Part 3

The next several quilts make use of white space or white on white to create an image.  This tiger about takes your breath away!

This penguin quilt intrigues me.  In high school art class we were to create an image using white on black, rather than the usual black on white.  That must be a very left-brain task, cuz I never mastered it.  The designer of this quilt certainly did!
This last quilt is comical. 
Sure wouldn't want to be that worm in the lower left corner.  :)

Quilt Expo 2011 - Part 2

In honor of the University of Wisconsin vs. the University of Nebraska - I'm featuring quilts with a UW theme or quilts made in red, black and white only.
Isn't this feathered star stunning?  Oh, to have the skill and patience to make all those triangles!  Here's the back side, showing the quilting pattern. 
There's been a lot of the fuss about the Cornhuskers coming to town for tomorrow's big game.  In fact, the hotels are all booked, so some Madisonians are renting out their homes for the weekend.

Tomorrow my alma mater will face off against my former employer.  Just out of college, I took a job at the U of N in Lincoln, NE.  Lived there for about 18 months.

Lincoln and Madison are quite similar.  They're about the same size, both are state capitols (though ours is much prettier and doesn't have a naughty nickname) and both are home to THE state University.  What really confounded me on football day was that they also wore red and white, and said "Go Big Red!"  Kinda felt like I was in an alternate dimension.

But UW alums know there can only be ONE Big Red.  
Guess we'll have to teach them how to Bucky!   :)

The (GF) Holiday Brochure is Here!

I've had excellent results using Land O Lakes gluten free recipes.  Their Butter Cookie recipe is downright habit-forming - so don't make them unless you have oodles of willpower or some friends and family to help you eat them up.  Here are this year's newest additions.

I downloaded and printed the brochure without a hitch.  Will definitely be making the Eggnog Snowflakes!  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Audacious Autumn Top Complete

Despite my original misgivings, this quilt is growing on me.  I still regret the lack of brilliant golds and oranges I associate with autumn.  I decided that if it's called "audacious" I had to do something to jazz it up.  The binding in the kit was olive drab...neutral...far from audacious!  So I went in search of an appropriate backing and more suitable binding.
Now THAT purple is truly audacious - don't you think?  My next puzzle to solve is my desire to incorporate an image of scarlet Burning Bush leaves, or some beautiful Red Sumac, or the many many maple leaves that fall in my neighborhood.  I had considered applique, but decided against it.  Instead, I'm going to let Mother Nature provide my quilting are some I'm considering.
This cutting is about a foot in length and could be positioned over multiple blocks. 
Smaller leaves could be depicted blowing on the wind, with lots of swoops and swirls.  I'll have time to look for more "templates" since the quilt is not yet sandwiched.  Am looking forward to working with fusible batting for the first time.  Tried it in a class, and I think I may be hooked!  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ice Blue Dress Steps Out

Here are Miss Kami and Mr. Roberto, en route to a wedding.   Aren't they cute?  She says she got lots of compliments on the dress.  That, of course, was music to my ears!  :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Audacious Autumn Blocks Complete

I'm pretty excited that Blocks 13 & 21 contain some long-awaited orange!  If you look at the photo on the design wall, it contains much more orange than this kit does.  I'll be rearranging some blocks for better color distribution.  Still want to applique some autumn leaves, but I don't know how machine applique.  Might have to find a good tutorial because maple leaves have points and oak leaves have tight curves.  Could be tricky!  Gonna have to think about this a little longer.... :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audacious Autumn - Revisited

Half of the columns are complete.  To be honest, I'm just not into these colors.  The reds and purples are gorgeous, but I've never liked olive green, and I like brown in an autumn quilt even less.  Brown comes when autumn is over and winter sets in. That's not audacious.  Give me some rich golds and flaming orange any day - now that's audacious!

The kit came with brown binding fabric - but I'll probably go with crimson or purple.  Anything to jazz this quilt up.  Also thought about appliqued red sumac branches, but that would probably be too busy.  I hope to have some sewing time this weekend.  Meanwhile, I'm just waiting for inspiration to strike!  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GF Serbian Chicken Recipe

I overplanted tomatoes, so I promised to share some great tomato recipes.  Here is one of my all-time favorites.  The original recipe comes from the Circle of Serbian Sisters in Milwaukee, WI.  Their cookbook was published in 1973.  Bought it when I was 12.  Growing up in Milwaukee, I rarely missed the Holiday Folk Fair.  Some years I danced with the Girl Scouts.  Other years I went with friends and family. 

Here's some info if you're interested:

But back to the recipe - I've revised it to make it healthier and gluten free.  You can make it in the slow cooker.  Who doesn't love coming home to a nice hot meal?

Serbian Chicken

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 cups diced fresh tomatoes or 1 (28-oz) can of diced or stewed tomatoes
1 green pepper chopped
1 onion chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup light sour cream

This can be made on the stove top or slow cooker.  No need to brown the chicken either way. 

Pour half the tomatoes into a large pot.  Lay chicken breasts over tomatoes.  Sprinkle onions and green peppers over chicken, then pour remaining tomatoes over all.  Cook on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on stove top.  Cook 3-4 hours on low crock pot setting.  When chicken is done, remove meat to platter and keep warm. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine sour cream with cornstarch.  The next part is really important.  If you just stir the sour cream mixture into all those tomatoes it will curdle and look very unappetizing (it will still taste good though). 

Instead, add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato mixture into sour cream mixture.  Stir until blended.  Repeat with a few more tablespoons.  Continue, until your sour cream mixture has doubled in volume.  Should be about half sour cream and half tomatoes. 

You can now safely blend the sour cream mixture into the tomato pot.  (This is also the secret to making your own cream of tomato soup without curdling.)

No matter how I cook the chicken, I always thicken the sauce on the stove top.  Once it thickens, pour over chicken and serve over rice.  Hmmm, hmmm, good!  :)

The F Word

The F word has been bandied about quite a bit lately.  No, not that F word - the other one that rhymes with "ball" or the other (even more terrible) F word that rhymes with "crossed."  I was just coming to the realization that yes, Fall is just about here.  Knowing how one thing leads to another...eventually we face the word that strikes fear and trepidation into the hearts of farmers and gardeners - frost. 
This called for serious defensive measures.  I worked WAY too hard on my garden all summer to let an early frost cheat me of my harvest.
 Here DS2 is trying to persuade me not to take his picture.
Here he is closing it up from the inside. 
I thought we had left a way for him to get out, then realized not!
Here is the final product.  We may have frost tonight and tomorrow night.  Let me tell you, those plants are gonna stay right where they are for two days.  Since DS2 was stuck inside and the wind was blowing, I just left him in there in case the wind blew the tarps off in the night.  NO, no, not really.  Though it was tremendously tempting...He is safe and sound in the nice warm toasty house.  He grumbled about helping, but I think he actually enjoyed it.  :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wisconsin Public Television's Quilt Expo 2011

Welcome to the Expo! 

I tried to capture all the quilts that "spoke" to me, though there were many more I would have photographed - had there not been people in the way.  Its kind of a shame that they can't ALL win, isn't it? 

The following quilts are nature themed.  I wasn't able to photograph all the titles, so forgive me if I misnamed your quilt.  Feel free to contact me and I'll gladly correct it. :)
 I called this one Autumn Birch.  This one has inspired me to change up the quilt I'm currently working on - to encorporate brighter, bolder autumn colors.
I didn't catch the name of this one.  It is one of two depicting a child in a tree with wildlife - including some playful fairies.  Its also one of several portraying the various antics of squirrels - something I greatly enjoy!
These flowers on a fence against a night sky is stunning.  You can almost smell the flowers' scent on a soft night breeze.  It looks as if a storm may be brewing.
Oh, how I love fushia plants and hummingbirds.  Admiring this quilt in the middle of winter would certainly warm me up!  I love the rich, verdant colors.
If I remember right, this quilt depicts the quilter's granddaughter.  I like how the inner border doesn't detract from the picture - giving the feel of a frame, without the weightiness.  And look at all the creatures in and around the tree - captivating!
Isn't this quilt incredible?  The judges thought so.  Phenomenal work!
I think this was called Let's All Spring Forward.  Aren't these little fellas bright and cheery? 

Had hoped to share more pics, but my computer is protesting - so I'll have to post more soon.  :)

A Quilt for Jay

My friend and former coworker Barb (now retired) has rediscovered quilting after many years.  She completed a quilt for her daughter Julie, and it so happened that I ran into her at the fabric store as she was selecting fabrics for a quilt for her son.

Well, you never have to ask me twice to spend someone else's money!  LOL  We had fun choosing just the right colors, intensities, etc.  I love it when you can find one fabric that comes in several shades - as we did with the tree fabrics.  That was a month or two ago. 

Barb completed the top and sent me this picture.  Dang - we do nice work!  Maybe Barb and I should collaborate on future projects!  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tomatoes in the Sun

The weather man says we may have frost on Thursday.  That would be several weeks earlier than normal.  Sure hope he's wrong (he often is).  Tonight I spotted these tomatoes basking in the late day sun.  Don't they look enticing?  No wonder Dottie likes to snitch them!  :) 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Iron Man Quilter

Every now and then you see something amazing.  I've seen this quilt twice, and I'm still amazed. 
The Iron Man took place in Madison today.  Participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles.   That boggles my mind!  My friend and coworker Alan Frank has completed the Iron Man a number of times - which inspired him to design this quilt. 

He hand pieced it, had it quilted and eventually entered it in the Wisconsin Public Television quilt expo.  He even designed the all-over quilt pattern depicting a runner, biker and swimmer.  It seems to me that he approaches quilting with the same dedication it takes to train for the Iron Man...working over time to accomplish a long term goal.  Kind of refreshing in our fast paced world.  Below are Al's comments.  I hope you can read it.  Its sweet that he includes a comment about his wife.
Al got hooked on English paper piecing when his wife - having started a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt - complained that it was taking so long to complete.  Al offered to help, and discovered that he greatly enjoyed it.  The rest is history. 

See the link below.  Look at the Iron Man logo, then look back at the quilt.  Again, I'm amazed.  All that creativity in one quilt!

The fact that the Iron Man fell on 9/11 this year did not go unnoticed.  Below is the story of another Madison man who was working in the second Twin Tower on 9/11 ten years ago.  He lived to tell the tale.  He ran/swam/biked all those miles today.  He is now married, with a family.  A bit of good news on this sad day of remembrance is very welcome.

Audacious Autumn - Another UFO

Started "Audacious Autumn" in a class.  The pieces are pre-cut.  All I have to do is sew them together.  The class was about how to quilt in sections.  In thinking about it, the kit was unnecessary (and expensive), because we practiced the actual technique on muslin quilt sandwich blocks.  The technique seems like it would work best on a piece that is straight line quilted.  Not so sure how it would look for something that is FMQ.  In fact, I may not quilt this in sections at all.  But at least I know how to do it for my full sized quilts.  I also learned about two products that will save a lot of time and effort - fusible batting and batting tape.  Gotta get those before I quilt anything else!
I've got a quilt retreat in October, so I can make up for lost time - summer projects took a BIG bite out of my sewing time.  Judging from the blogs I follow, that's pretty common (at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). 

I hope your summer was good!  Happy quilting! :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quilt Expo 2011 Purchases

After two full days at the expo, I managed to keep my purchases sort of under control.  Also bought a t-shirt and a quilt kit used for a class.  Will share those later.  So much to see and do - what a great opportunity to reconnect with friends - the expo gave me my quilting mojo back!  Life is good!

Took about 100 quilt photos.  Am trying to categorize them so I can blog about them in smaller batches.  I hope this will attone for my bloggy sins (not many quilting posts lately).  The change of seasons, and recent changes in my personal life should allow for more quilting - about which to blog!  Stay tuned for further details.....  :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Recycled Rubber Duckies, Quilts, Horse Shoes & More

A funny thing happened on the way to the WPT Quilt Expo.
I saw this unusual car.  It has at least one brother or cousin.   In 2008, I entered a quilt in an Earth Day art contest.  A car similar to this one took first place.  However that one was covered this doo-dads from bumper to bumper!  Whole sections of the care were covered in pennies.  They also had Lion King and Flintstones characters, which I recognized from McDonald's Happy Meals.   
This was my entry - Sun & Wind Quilt. The item had to be constructed using recycled materials, and had to have a "green" theme.  The black background represents solar panels, the triangle blocks represent wind power, and the colors - red, orange and yellow represent the sun.  I used dryer sheets (used) as my foundation, used fabric recycled from clothing and bedding, and few scraps from my stash.  The batting is an old Thomas the Train blanket.  The backing is a bed sheet.  (FYI - if your son works at McDonalds do not cut up his black pants - even if his brother ruined them with bleach.  McDonald's will want those pants back when your son leaves their employment.  Ooops!)

This quilt isn't complete.  I need to finish quilting it.  I stitched in the ditch, but had not yet learned FMQ.  Since then I've been trying to master doing FMQ flames.  Without the flames, I don't think it has as much visual impact. 

So WHAT does this have to do with the quilt expo?  Well, I have contacted the organizers several years in a row, suggesting a category for recycled quilts.  It looks like next year there may be a category for my Sun & Wind quilt.  So I must, must, must get going on quilting flames! 
One interesting lecture I heard at the expo was by Cheryl Weiderspahn. What an entertaining speaker - and what ingenuity! She shows you how to make all sorts of things - many of them bags or totes - from everyday objects such as throw rugs, place mats, hot pads - even shower mats, wooden spoons and horse shoes (worn by a race horse, no less). 

She autographed my book, and gave me this advice: If you're ever feeling down, sit down with a glass of wine and read page 51.  It will give you a lift, and its a true story.  I have not yet heeded this advice, but expect to do so very soon.  :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

To-may-to, To-mah-to

A terrible thing happened the other day.  I heard you should trim the top of your tomato plants 30 days before a hard frost.  This allows the plant to put all of its energy into producing fruit for the remainder of the growing season.  I consulted Wisconsin Online Gardening ( for when to expect a hard frost.  Yikes!  October 4-10?  There are only a few weeks left?  The Ghost of Tomatoes Past conjured visions of frost bitten tomato plants!  Oh, the horror!
OK, OK - I'm being dramatic.  My tomatoes are just fine for the moment. 
I ALSO read that if you remove the non-fruit bearing branches (during the normal growing season) the plant will produce more fruit. I had two plants that drooped every day, no matter how often I watered. So I pruned those two - thinking if they have less leaves, they'll transpire less water throughout the day, so perhaps they won't wilt. They seemed to benefit from it, so I pruned the remaining six plants.  They look kinda spindly, but I AM getting plenty of tomatoes.
One added benefit (I'm allergic to bee and wasp stings) is that I can see and retrieve my tomatoes without putting my hand into dense foliage where a bee or wasp might be hiding.  Now that the nights are getting cold, I'm wearing rose gardener's gloves.  No stinging insect can penetrate elbow length suede.
Knowing I ought to trim my tomato tops, I snipped a few.  But my heart just isn't in it.   Trimming them implies the season is almost over.  I have a tendency to resist the march of time.  I have to be dragged kicking and screaming from one season to the next.  However, if we keep having these 40 degree mornings I may reconsider.....  :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Driftless Market

Visited the Driftless Market ( in Platteville, WI. 

I worked with one of the proprietors until she retired from her day job and went on to spend more time doing what she loves....running the Driftless Market with her partner.

They offer a little bit of everything - food, coffee, even local art.

I was particularly interested in their Gluten Free products.  Unlike a grocery chain, the shop owners decide for themselves what products to stock, based on customer request and repeat purchases.  It was so helpful to learn which products had the most repeat customers.  I had decided ahead of time to only purchase products that I haven't seen in other stores - and I DID find some interesting goodies:
GF Angel Food Cake Mix - something I've never seen before, anywhere.  And Garbanzo Bean & Fava Flour.  Strangely enough, I looked at a recipe the night before that called for garbanzo bean flour - and I thought where am I gonna find that??
The last item I bought was Cocoa Cayenne Cupcake mix.  Those babies will knock your socks off.  You don't taste the cayenne until you've swallowed your last bite and  the cool, creamy frosting is all gone.  THEN you feel the burning in your mouth.  You'll definitely be reaching for something cold to drink.  One word of caution:  DO NOT INHALE as you are pouring the dry mix into the mixing bowl or you'll get a snootful of cayenne pepper.  (Yes, I AM speaking from experience.)

I expect to visit Platteville a number of times this school year, so we will return to the Driftless Market to see what other GF goodies I can find.  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Garden Report

Here are my stop light peppers - yellow, green and red.  They all start out green, and can be harvested before they change color.  Its been fun to watch them change. 
Last night we supped on our first batch of green beans.  There are plenty more where these came from, judging from the looks of these vines.
All that from three little pots!
Here I used a "Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad" recipe from  The dressing is vinegar and oil, with basil, oregano, parsley and a little bit of sugar.  DEEEE-lish!
We pulled up a few carrots to see how they are coming along. Wrote a note on the calendar to check them again in two weeks. Fortunately they can stay in the ground right up until the end of the growing season.
DS2 and I finished the last of the landscaping.

Whew - it only took all summer!  :)