Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February UFO

I keep up with these monthly UFO completions because there's a prize at the end of October from my local quilt guild!  It is a fabulous motivator for me.  This is February's UFO, complete now.  It was started several years ago, made completely from scraps.  The pattern is Bloomin' Steps from ScrapTherapy.  The only thing I bought was the background fabric, the backing is pieced from my stash.  I just love the Prairie Points binding. It wasn't very difficult and adds a fun dimension to the quilt.

Here's a little closer look at the binding.

This will go in my extensive quilt stash with the intention of donating it to the next blanket drive I hear about.  I hope it will keep a someone warm on a cold night.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I fell in love with this dog, Enzo, by the end of the first page.  I say to you, run to the library, bookstore or Kindle store for this book.  It's about a dog, a racer, and a family.  It's not very long and you will love every page of it.  It is being made into a movie and will be released later this year, sure to be a tear jerker!  Patrick Demsey will star in it, and he is not bad on the eyes!  I savored every word in this story.  You're sure to love it too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baby Quilt Top -- It's done!

I shared the blocks I made for two group baby quilts my sewing group was making.  This is quilt top #2, made from Aunt Grace fabrics.  It's for a boy.  We think it's pretty special.
  It's on its way to be quilted as I type this.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Big Apple Treasure and their paper

The other place my darling daughter went (for me) in the Big Apple was the Magnolia Bakery.  It's a dream of mine to walk through their doors.  I have all their cookbooks == this was their first.
I have made so many fabulous recipes from this cookbook.  I almost always make birthday cakes for our family.  We really don't like most bakery cakes and it's always fun to pick a new kind of cake (except for the year angel food cake was chosen and it wasn't quite the decadent choice we preferred).  I made this recipe this weekend for the Super Bowl party and Bible study.

It was very labor intensive and there are 3 1/2 sticks of butter in the recipe, it took 4 bowls, 3 different layers and 2 steps in the oven.  But they were heavenly.

These are the goodies that came from the bakery:

The red velvet cupcake didn't last for the picture!  There's a pistachio, devil's food and their famous white cake too.  She even brought me a bag that will never be used, of course!  I can't wait to go this summer.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mood -- of Project Runway fame!

My daughter just got home from a work trip to New York City.  She was very busy during the work part of the trip but decided to stay a couple extra days.  She had a great time with friends touring the city.  She just loves big cities and can't get enough of them whether it's NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, London or Dublin.  Well, the fabric bug her mom has rubbed off on her a little.  They stopped into Mood, of Project Runway fame to look around.  She ended up buying a couple of fabrics.  The black and white print is to recover her kitchen chairs.  She bought the other fabric to make a scarf.  She's very good with using scarves in her wardrobe -- I could learn a thing or two from her!  I'm sure I'll be helping her with these projects and can't wait.  I also can't wait to hit Mood when we visit the Big Apple this summer!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making Vanilla

I really love to bake and none of that mix stuff for me!  I like to use the purest, freshest ingredients when I take the time to bake -- real freshly grated zest, butter, fresh eggs, grated chocolate, and pure vanilla -- none of those imitation extracts for me.  I honestly believe people can taste the difference.

  But real vanilla is expensive and in my college days I could only afford the imitation vanilla.  Now it really isn't an issue for me but $10+ a bottle is too much money.  So I started making my own vanilla a couple of years ago.  It's very simple, easy, and makes a great gift. 

I have lined up the ingredients in the above photo -- vanilla beans (these are the pricey part of the equation.  I've found Fresh and Easy has the best price in my area -- $2.49-5.49 for two beans.  The price is different each time I shop there.  I usually buy 10 bottles of beans when I make vanilla.  Then you need vodka, rum or brandy.  I use vodka -- no real reason, just what I chose.  I buy the cheap stuff for this (although seeing the bottle makes many vodka drinkers cringe) -- it's the vanilla bean that really matters.  You need some nice bottles with a narrow neck.  I ordered 3 or 4 ounce pharmacy bottles from beanilla.com a couple of  years ago.  I bought 36 of them.  You also need a cutting board and funnel.  I split two vanilla beans.
Then they get stuffed into the bottle.

Insert the funnel and fill the bottle with vodka (or rum or brandy).
Put the lid on the bottle and let it sit for 30 days.

Add a pretty label.  Mine is from the Martha Stewart collection and I wrote vanilla in cursive with a black felt tip pen.  Add a note card with a ribbon and you have a sweet little gift for a friend.  You can include a favorite recipe if you'd like, even the recipe for making vanilla.  And the best part is you never run out of vanilla, you can just keep adding your choice of liquor to the bottle to replenish your supply.  And, if your recipe calls for fresh vanilla bean, you can snip some off and add it. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baby Blocks

My awesome sewing group began a tradition a few years ago -- we make baby quilts for all our new grandchildren.  Of course, it should be many years before any come into my family, but you never know.  We have used a log cabin hearts pattern in the past.  But one daughter is having her second baby so we needed a new idea.  We designed our own pattern with everyone's input and ideas and one quilter used EQ to make our pattern.  We used alphabet blocks for the border and machine embroidered designs for the inside blocks
(6 /12).  Each of us worked on the paper pieced alphabet blocks.  We used pastel Aunt Grace fabrics for one quilt and primary colors for the other.  Here's pictures of the blocks I made.  The quilts are at the longarm quilter now so I can't show a finished picture yet.