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Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Quilt This?

I'm in the long and laborious process of pin basting this monster.  I've officially reached the "Whatever made me think this was a good idea???" phase.  I reach this phase with virtually every large project...and eventually fall back in love with the end result. 

But how to quilt this bugger?  I do my quilting on a Janome Horizon, no long arm here.  The bigger bed helps, but I'm limited by space and skill.  I'm pretty good at stippling, and am leaning that direction.  Will entertain any and all suggestions!  :)

Its That Time Again....

Tis time to decide how to decorate my tree.  I'm not yet in the mood, as we need a little snow (heavy emphasis on the word little) to put me in the holiday spirit.  The tree pictured above is from 2010.  Below are my decorations in 2009.
Birds, snowflakes and icicles are featured every year, but I'm in the mood to do something new.  And it has to be simple, as I have a bed quilt and throw to complete in time for Christmas.  Lookin' for please keep posting pictures of your own decorations - I get my best ideas from other quilters.  :)

Quodlibet Returns

The Quodlibet Quilt has come out of storage to be quilted in time for Christmas.  The  recipient doesn't know he's getting a quilt - so that makes it all the more fun.  Since pin basting is a bit hard on the fingers and the back, I took a break and made this matching pillow case.
Phew!  French seams are  cool, but it took me a few tries to get them just right.  The red zebra print is used in the quilt's inner border; it will also be used for the binding.   When the next round of pin basting gets tiresome, I'll take a break make the binding. 

I also have a "no sew throw" to make for Christmas, but I'm going to add school letters, so it won't be entirely "no sew" - more like "low sew."  Once I applique the letters, I can take the throw with me to crafters' meetings or work on it over my lunch hour, if I find Dec. 25th is creeping up too quickly.  :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grandma Clara's Chocolate Chip Cake - GF Edition

About a year ago, I was preparing to celebrate my 50th birthday.  Had put two chocolate chip cakes in the oven, and sat down to read my mail.  It was then I learned I had celiac disease and could not eat wheat (or rye, barley or oats) for the rest of my ever-lovin' days. 

Well, I had my last hurrah, and enjoyed my (gluten-containing) cake.  Then got on the bandwagon and purged my home of all gluten-containing goodies and ingredients.

A few months ago, I got a hankerin' for my Grandma's cake though, and began experimenting with the recipe.  I think I've got it nailed down, so here is the GF version of this family favorite:

Grandma Clara's Chocolate Chip Cake - GF


1 cup chopped dates or raisins
1 cup water

1 stick butter, softened
1 T. vanilla
3 eggs
1 Betty Crocker yellow cake mix (15 oz)
3 TBSP baker's cocoa
1 cup semi-sweet choc. chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar

Combine water and dates, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees for dark tube pan, 350 degrees for light colored tube pan. 
Spray with cooking spray.

Cream butter.  Blend in eggs, vanilla, date mixture and cocoa. 

Add cake mix.  Blend for 30 seconds.  Then beat with mixer for 2 minutes.  Pour into tube pan.  Shake pan gently to distribute batter evenly in pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over batter.

Bake approximately 50 minutes.  Cool on rack. 

When cool, use plastic knife to loosen sides of pan.  Lift center of tube pan away from sides.  Loosen bottom of cake with plastic knife.  Using two large spatulas (pancake turners) lift cake up and away from tube pan center and place on cake plate.

Dust with powdered sugar.

Note: For almost all GF cakes and cookies, I recommend making them 24 hours before you will serve it.  GF baked goods seem to need the additional time to "set" so they are not so crumbly to cut and serve.  This is especially true of GF bars.

For the original recipe see:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just Took the Pledge...

 2012 FMQ Challenge Badge copy

...for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge at:

I'm grateful to Sew Cal Gal for promoting this challenge as I very much need to improve my FMQ skills.  I have had one class, and one class only.  The shop that offers it does not offer beginner, intermediate and advanced FMQ classes - and so I still feel like a beginner.

Here is my chance to learn each month, and at my own pace.  Sounds like the perfect solution!  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hen House Hot Pads

One week ago I whipped up 15 hot pads, showing three varieties of roosters and two types of hens.  Being a birder, I consulted a chicken-raising friend about the birds - wondering if they were accurate renditions of real birds, or simply the product of an artist's whim.  My friend recognized two varieties - but wasn't sure about the others.

While selling my wares at a craft fair, I discovered quite a few people who had wonderful memories of having chickens in their childhood.  The rock hens were familiar to a lot of people.  One man picked out a hot pad with a rooster that he said looked just like his childhood pet. He related how that rooster would crow bright and early every morning!  Happy as a kid in a candy store, he planned to send the hot pad to his sister for Christmas.

Following the craft fair, I took some hot pads to work to show some friends.  Heck, if I didn't sell 6 more.  Again, I learned of people who had had chickens in the past.  One man noted a subtle difference in the posture of two roosters.  He selected the bird that stood more erect - noting he looked "proud."  This difference was lost on me until he pointed it out.  Now there's a man who knows his birds!

The four pictured here are all I have left.  I hope to find a home for them all.  Who knows what other interesting tales I might discover in the process!  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Craft Fair Report

I survived my first craft fair!  All went well, and despite low traffic, sales met my expectations.  I learned a few things, which I'll factor in if/when I decide to do this again.  Was asked to teach a class in January - that would also be something new.  But it could be fun.  Now I must turn my attentions to four projects in varying stages of completion - all with a due date of Dec. 25th!  :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Craft Fair Eve

Got my spinning flag table toppers quilted.  Don't know if you can see it, but I settled on a simple diagonal grid.   Since my Horizon decided to act up, my options were pretty limited - but I'm happy with it.  Anything too fussy would have detracted from the flags, I think.
It took a little persuasion, but I got my old machine to sew on the pockets on this tote.  Had fun making a few yo-yos and couldn't resist buying the cherry buttons for this bag. 
Got some holiday bags done today too.  Still need to bind some placemats before I can call it a day!  :)

Bethany Craft Fair 2011

Did you ever notice that a hot pad is really a small quilt?  I noticed because I had fabric to make 15 of them and have been quilting and binding like crazy for the craft fair day after tomorrow.  My progress was hindered by my good sewing machine jamming up so bad I can't run it at all.  I dug out my old Sears Kenmore, which needed tension adjustments.  This resulted in ripping and requilting.
Despite these setbacks, eleven hot pads are complete, four to go.

Once those are done I'll make a few more holiday themed origami bags to go with the 20+ bags that are packed up to go.  If you follow my blog, you may recall the Elvis bags and the pink ribbon bags.  Also have an assortment made from fat quarters that I had in my stash.
I had fun embellishing this bag with leftover pieces from the Quodlibet quilt.  I have another bag all ready to embellish with yo-yos and buttons shaped like cherries.  Sadly, I can only do the embellishment on the non-functional machine.  Will have to put that project on the back burner.

I have one more day to finish getting ready - which also includes typing up prices and getting the business card wizard to cooperate with me.  Sure hope I can get it all done!  :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Next?

My church's 39th Annual Holiday Craft Show is 8 days away, and I am NOT ready.  This is my first foray into selling my quilts/crafts and I'm simultaneously worried I'll sell out in the first hour or that nothing will sell at all.  Yikes! 

Tonight I whipped up two patriotic tables toppers (tops only).  They are about 20" square.  I have some red calico I can use for the backs - but I feel like the quilt tops might need a little something more.  Better sleep on it.  A complex border would detract from the geometric design created by the spinning flags.  I've always been fond of this layout - but never got around to trying it.

I'm attending a Crafters' Breakfast tomorrow morning - and some of these ladies have participated in the Holiday Craft Fair for many of the previous 38 years.  If these gals  don't know what will sell, and how to price it, no one will.  I hope to learn lots!  :)