Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Done . . . and not done

  • colored pencil roll for nephew
  • Captain Jack Sparrow costume for other nephew
  • doll sleeping bag and dress for niece
  • scripture bag for niece's birthday
Left to finish:
  • robe and jammies for L
  • dinosaur tails for all
  • jammies for husband
These dinosaur tails should whip up quick. And the robe will be fun, if nothing else. Aaron's jammies are already cut out. I do have some shopping to do - tomorrow or maybe Thursday. I'd like to be completely done by Thursday so I can enjoy Friday and Saturday.

And next year, I'd really like to not cut it so close. For real.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Quilts part deux

These have been way too long in the making. They were started in Seattle (all the HSTs sewn together) and finished in Moscow (Idaho, not Russia). But they are done in time for Christmas cuddling, and that's what counts.

So many projects to finish this next week. Linking up to Amanda Jean's Finish It Up Friday - and hoping she hosts a big one next week to show off our Christmas crafting!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Christmas Kitchen 2011

Hmmm. What shall I make this year?

Peanut brittle for the husband.

Caramels for the husband and kids, if he'll share!

Coconut cake on Christmas day, because I make the best one. Really. I was taught by my very Southern Gran and I've been perfecting it over the years. It is awesome and I just might eat the whole thing!

Coconut macaroons for all, including friends.

I'm done with spritz cookies this year. My cookie press is about to get hucked out the door. Note to self: just because Williams-Sonoma makes and sells it, doesn't make it the best there is. My mom's old Wilton one works WAY better than this thing. I can only get the trees to come out. Darn thing.

I'll make some more sugar cookies next week for the kids. We've got gingerbread creations set for Monday's FHE. A house, a tree and a train!

Oh, and donuts. Tomorrow night is the donut fest. Our annual Freedom Fry, to celebrate the holidays and the Bill of Rights. I'll be frying a boatload. Good times. Guess I should get the house cleaned up a bit, eh?

And then more sewing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fabric Tuesday

I finally finished these quilts. Shown here is the Christmas Barn Raising quilt (please pardon the bad, hazy lighting - I'm not trying to be fancy - we're just having awful overcast skies!). I've also got one in diagonal stripes (I'll save that one for Friday). Oh how I love these quilts. Red and white, backed in red flannel and perfect for snuggling. My kids are a little hesitant - they just keep staring at them right now. We'll get snuggled at storytime tonight.

This quilt makes me happy. I should be doing other sewing, but I wanted them finished for this Christmas. My other Christmas quilt tops can wait for next year, but I wanted these two done. Hooray for finished projects!

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday!

Fresh Poppy Design

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Help me convince my husband

Clothes and I don't seem to get along. I'm shaped funny. (Okay, here comes full disclosure, but I'm not bragging!). I have a large bust (thanks to my paternal grandmother) and smallish/normalish waist and hips.

You'd think I'd be loving life, but I'm not. It is impossible to find appropriate clothes to fit my figure. I say appropriate because Victoria's Secret seems to get it, but that's about it. (I do like their t-shirts.)

I'm not about to start dressing like a 20-year-old party girl. Not happening.

So I want a dress form. So I can buy the patterns I like and make the clothes I want rather than getting frustrated every Sunday morning before church because I can't find anything to wear. I'd also like to be able to adjust the stuff I buy so that, oh, I don't know, I can look in the mirror and see that I have a waist. Apparently clothing makers think that if you have a large bust, you must not have a waist to go with it.

Oh, and having babies has really messed up my shape too.

So I'm working on Aaron to get a dress form for me for Christmas. Or my birthday. But I want one.

Any advice on getting one?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Finish it up Friday!

Don't have a quilt to show for this week - actually, between now and Christmas it's going to be like that. Lots and lots of Christmas sewing projects to finish up.

But I'm so glad this dress is finished, and just in time. Laurel's baptism is Sunday afternoon. She looks lovely in it, and it has her little touch of purple.

Now, to finish baby Caroline's blessing gown and Laurel's new scripture bag. Good thing my parents are coming to town today. I'll be sewing all day tomorrow!

Linking up with Amanda Jean's Finish It Up Friday!

Have a great weekend - we woke up to snow, finally, so my kids are quite giddy this morning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If I Were Queen

How do you like my tiara? Harry Winston dear. As it is snowing outside, I went with the snowflake tiara tonight.

Oh, I was going to tell you what I would decree if I were queen. Just feeling royal tonight, or wishing I was.

If I were queen, everyone would learn to properly load a dishwasher. As in, efficiently and neatly. I am married to a man who, though his mother is British, did not teach him proper dishwasher loading technique. I cannot let him near it. It is disastrous and there are usually dishes left over because his inefficiency and sloppy loading did not allow room.

Unacceptable. This must be taught. I decree it, whilst wearing my diamond snowflake tiara.

Okay, admittedly, I really just wanted to use the word "whilst" - how was it? Did I sound royal enough?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fabric Tuesday

I'm playing along in the Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday again today. Yes, I'm working on dresses for my girls when I get a moment, but I thought I'd play around with these blocks a little too.

I'm making this quilt, using Riley Blake's Indian Summer. Loving how it's coming together.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Because it's Monday

Because it's Monday, and my children (including Caroline) are being cooperative, I'm making cupcakes for FHE tonight. What is FHE? Find out here, if you're curious.

I've had this page bookmarked in the Flour Bakery and Cafe cookbook, the recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting. I'll admit that I was lured in by that frosting. I can't wait. I'll be sure to let y'all know how they turn out. There's an interesting process - the recipe tells you to let the batter sit for an hour at room temperature. We'll see if it makes a difference.

Have a lovely Monday. We're expecting snow again, but it keeps melting before my kids get a chance to go play in it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Sewing

We woke up to snowfall this morning, and I have been known to listen to Christmas music while crafting, so I thought I'd share some of the crafting I'd like to get done for this Christmas.

And yes, my mother will think I'm crazy, given that I've got a one-month-old and four other rowdies running around. But I enjoy being ambitious! All links will take you to the tutorial or the pattern.

Okay, first, a little tissue holder for those I know who carry tissues in their purse. If I had a matchy matchy one with my bag, I just might be responsible enough to carry some myself. These are super easy and super cute.

For Miss Caroline (and maybe my nephew Jackson), I found these cute little stuffed turtles. Might I add that I can get Laurel and William to enthusiastically stuff things for me so I don't have to? I'm shameless, but resourceful!
I bought this pattern for stockings last year just after Christmas. I've got them cut out, mostly, but I'm struggling with how to get their names on them.
This is a two part gift. I thought Jackson would like to have something to throw a ball into, and these round nesting baskets were just the thing.
A mug rug (not this one - just an example for those who don't know what a mug rug is) for a special person. I've got it all designed and the fabric chosen. Just have to sew it up and ship it off.
Fabric beach balls, to throw into those round nesting baskets.
Stuffed dinosaurs for all my crazies, because I know they'd love them.
A crochet hook clutch for Laurel, who is learning to crochet at Activity Day and loving it. So far, she's made the world's longest and skinniest scarf for her stuffed flamingo. Hopefully she'll learn some more stitches this week.
An art bag for Laurel - I've searched high and low and this one is perfect for her. But complicated. We'll see if it gets done or not.

I've got other, top secret ideas, but these are just a few. They won't all get done, but I'll have fun trying.

I'm also creating my first tree skirt. This is uncharted territory for me because I can't find what I want anywhere, be it finished product or pattern, so I'm having to design it myself. Easy-peasy for some of you, but I'm challenged that way. Here's hoping it turns out, because the picture in my head is awesome!

Happy sewing (back to making little white dresses for me!).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soup is ON!

Yes, I'm sewing dresses. Every spare minute I have. Which means I need some easy-ish dinners, preferably involving my dreamy slow cooker. And I do understand that easy-ish to me might be intimidating to others - long lists of ingredients don't frighten me away. Love them.

So here's what is going into the slow cooker at lunch time, and into bowls at dinner time, and into the freezer after that (because it makes a boatload!). I confess the minestrone bug bit me hard after a trip to Olive Garden back in August. I promise, this soup is a bazillion times better. I made a few changes to the original recipe - I cook the sausage right in the slow cooker (because I can do that in mine) so that later I'm cooking the veg in the fat from the sausage rather than a drizzle of olive oil. I know olive oil is better for you, but it's about layering flavor. Why waste that sausage fat? Not this girl. Course, I've been known to use bacon fat at times. That's my Southern heritage there, y'all!

Sausage Minestrone Soup with Orzo
adapted from The New England Soup Factory Cookbook

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound hot Italian sausage
3 T. olive oil (if you must)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
12 cups chicken stock (no kidding!)
4 cups tomato juice
2 bay leaves
1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 zucchini, diced
1-2 summer squash, diced
1/2 c. dried orzo
3 T. chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

First, cook your sausage. If you are lucky enough to have a slow cooker that lets you brown your meat first, do this. If you are using a pot on the stove, you can do the same thing. I'm not sure how this would work in a regular crockpot or slow cooker. I'd just go with the pot on the stove.

So cook your sausage and then set it aside. If you're the healthy sort, drain off the sausage fat and add the olive oil. If you're the healthy but like more flavor sort, just keep your sausage fat and add your onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute for 8 minutes.

Add tomatoes, stock, tomato juice, bay leaves, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans and cooked sausage. Bring to a boil. If using a slow cooker, transfer it and cook on low for about four hours. If using a pot, reduce heat to medium and simmer 40 minutes, adding more stock if too much liquid evaporates (not a problem with the slow cooker).

Remove and discard the bay leaves (or leave them in and then assign dishes to whomever gets them in their bowl).

Add the zucchini, squash and orzo. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Stir in the basil, salt and pepper.

This freezes beautifully.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To Do Tuesday

Yeah, that sums it up. I'd rather be quilting. I'd rather be making a huge dent in that WIPs list, not to mention actually finishing a quilt or two.

One small problem. Well, one small, Caroline-size problem and one bigger, Laurel-size problem. In the form of these:

We have a baptism/baby blessing on the 20th. We have family and friends coming in to town. As these are my girls, I am making the dresses. I bought a ton o' white fabric, spent August and September cutting it out and now I MUST sew it into dresses. Here's hoping they will be as pretty as my girls are.

After this is done, then I'm on to Christmas sewing, and won't that be fun? Dinosaurs for the kids, quilts for the boys (I might be burning the midnight oil to get those done!), a tool clutch for Aaron and a few other gifts. I love Christmas sewing, but I need to get started on it sooner next year. Right. Like that will happen!

Have a lovely, productive week. Pictures of these finished dresses will follow, I promise!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I may have mentioned before how much I like lists. I like them a lot. I have to do lists and Christmas card lists and birthday presents lists.

My two most current, and most often referred to lists, are these two. One is a "Quilts Ready to be Quilted" list. It has *gulp* 14 quilts on it. Yeah, I've got to get to it, I know.

The other is my WIPs list. This one should not be getting longer. But I can't help myself. If I didn't have access to other blogs and Moda Bake Shop and Fat Quarter Shop, I might be able to slog my way through this one and add these *big gulp* 30 quilts to my other list.

See those Postage Stamp quilt blocks in the background? I'm almost done with them! Then I put the top together and piece the back and it moves to my other list. Yikes!

What's funny about me is that I'm not intimidated by any of this. I'm more embarrassed to admit it, but not intimidated. I've got the quilting planned for several of those "readies," so I'm more steps ahead than you might think.

My goal is this: while I'd be stupid to say I won't purchase and plan more projects, I will at least not start any new ones until I've got more space.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fabric Tuesday

After I joined in on Amy's Bloggers' Quilt Festival last week, I browsed around the other blogs, bookmarking and following as I went. One of the first sites I visited was Quilt Story. Every Tuesday, they host a "Fabric Tuesday." Now, I've been doing "To Do Tuesdays" on my own, but sometimes my to do list isn't so exciting. Now fabric? That's exciting.

So today I join in on the Fabric Tuesday fun.

And just in time for Fabric Tuesday, a box o' lovelies arrived from the best online quilt shop EVER a.k.a. Fat Quarter Shop. Seriously. I heart them. A lot.

I've been needing to make some "boy" quilts. While my guys are tough guys and have no problems cuddling up in a pink/green quilt, or something with lots of flowers and butterflies, they deserve something a bit manlier. We are huge Richard Scarry fans in this house (seriously - check out "Busytown Mysteries" on Netflix - so much fun!) and when I saw this fabric at FQS, I knew it would make some great quilts for my little men.

So I ordered two FQ bundles - each comes with a panel with different vehicles, which I'm going to fussy cut and use as individual blocks. The colors are great - orange, green, blues, some reds and yellows.

I picked out some coordinating fabrics in orange, red, green and blue. I'm going to use this quilt pattern - it will be bright and fun and they'll love it. I'll have to border them differently so we can tell the difference. William's will be red, James' will be orange and Henry's will be blue.

Can't wait for my pattern to arrive so I can get started. Want these done by Christmas - can she do it?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Looky looky!

In spite of this sweet baby girl (try to deny it, but she really is the sweetest little girl!):

And these four crazy trick-or-treaters:

I was actually able to do this today:

I wanted to participate in Rachel's quilt-a-long many moons ago, but I was in my second-to-last quarter at UW and just didn't have the time.

Funny that I think I have the time now that I have a newborn, am homeschooling my two oldest kids and I have three birthdays to celebrate this weekend. But hey, it's all relative, right?

I'm halfway through on my blocks and am so excited to get this quilt top done this week. The weather here in Northern Idaho is chilly-dog and we're in need of more quilts.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I like things to be matchy-matchy. I made my first quilt when I was 18 or 19. This was back in the day when you chose maybe three coordinating fabrics. I made a double Irish chain using a yellow solid, a French blue check and a white on white floral. I still have that quilt and I still love that quilt.

But I needed to move on. Scrappy quilts scared me. I liked looking at them, but wasn't sure if I could make them. Now I know this quilt isn't as scrappy as it could be. I've since done scrappier, promise. But it was a challenge for me to mix the fabrics, even from the same line, and make something beautiful out of it. I loved this pattern so much, I'm ashamed to say I've made half a dozen just like it. But I've given two away, so that's a good thing.

I waited a long time to quilt this quilt. It's funny, but when my Henry was born (over 2 years ago), my Gran gave me some money to spend on me. I, naturally, bought fabric. I bought the fabric to make this quilt and while I got the quilt top done forever ago, I didn't quilt it. Well, Aaron bought me my Juki in May, just a few weeks after my Gran passed away, and I finally, FINALLY worked up the nerve to quilt it. What did I learn? That straight line quilting can be a better idea than free motion quilting. I learned that imperfections should be expected and not fretted over. And I learned that finished quilts are so much nicer than unfinished ones!

Enjoy the rest of the festival - I know I am going to do some serious blog hopping! So many great quilts with great stories.

Oh. And in case you were wondering, here are the specifics on this quilt:

Pattern: Matchbox by Abbey Lane Quilts
Fabric: Oh Cherry Oh by Me and My Sister (don't try to find it - I'm buying up all that I can!)


Laurel, as Abigail Adams. I think it turned out beautifully. She was very happy, and that's what counts. I am hoping next year she opts for something simpler, but she's already talking about being a cobra. Sigh. That's what happens when you raise a geek.

And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Future Project

Oh, who am I kidding? I want to get started right away on this. But I won't. I will finish up that costume and the dresses for November before I allow myself to get going. But I want to, so desperately.

I was cruising around on etsy when I discovered this stack o' lovelies. An Oh Cherry Oh fat quarter bundle. Someone was destashing and I was going to reap the rewards. This is my all-time favorite line of fabric and I keep buying it for different projects.

What will I make with it this time? Well, I'm so glad you asked. I plan on making this quilt, times two (one using the pinks/greens and one using the reds/aquas). You can buy the pattern here.
Can I just say I love Allison's patterns? This isn't the first one, or the last one, I've purchased. I've got a Kaleidoscope in the works, and I'm dreaming of what I'll use to make the Seville quilt and the Basket Case quilt. I still need to buy the Shortcake and Sugar Dish patterns. But that's for later. I've got too many WIPs and future WIPs to add to the pile.

But that won't stop me from making these little fabric baskets. I will have some yellow FQ left over from that bundle, and as my sewing room is decorated in yellow, I thought, why not? I'm always need storage spots for scraps and "stuff" - these will be perfect!

Okay, baby is sleeping now (I was taking a nursing break, so don't think I was just wasting time - I was multi-tasking!). Back to the Abigail Adams costume.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To Do Tuesday

The trunk or treat is Friday night. Laurel's costume is cut out, but I have to get sewing. Thank goodness for Gran last week and Opa this week. I'd never get this done in time without their help. The only reason I have time to blog this at all is because baby Caroline eats all the time!

If I get it done early, I'm going to make trick-or-treat bags for the kids as well. We'll see. I'm not going for crazy ambitious, but I would like to check these off my list. After Halloween is over, I get to bury myself in white fabric to make a blessing dress for Caroline and a baptism dress for Laurel. Oh, and Laurel's scripture bag as well. Sheesh, then we jump into Christmas sewing!

Have a lovely, productive week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coming Soon: Pumpkin recipes!

Some friends and I are forming a baking group - basically, we bake and get together to eat what we've baked while our kids play. I'm thinking we'll do themed months and I want November to be pumpkin month (October should naturally be apple month!). So I'll be playing around with pumpkin recipes and sharing my favorites soon. Apple recipes as well. Can I just say I LOVE fall? Because I do. And I won't be pregnant and I can wear my sweaters and funky socks and cook soups and be warm and make quilts . . . LOVE IT!

Monday, September 19, 2011

WIP Clean-Up Week

Also known as: Jennie's using the last of her nesting energy to get the sewing room a bit more organized!

So, what's on the agenda? Here goes (but I'm tired just thinking about it!):
  • Sew three pairs of jammy bottoms for Aaron - already cut out
  • Cut out blessing dress for baby Caroline
  • Cut out baptism dress for Laurel
  • Quilt L'Amour quilt #1 (already basted and ready to go)
  • Sew binding on L'Amour quilt
  • Baste Caroline's quilt
  • Quilt Caroline's quilt
  • Cut out Laurel's Abigail Adams costume
That's the have to get done. There are extra things to do that I will get to as I can. Hopefully I can get more done than this - I want to get started sewing on Laurel's costume for sure. Those other dresses don't have to be done until later in November, so I do have a bit more time on those. And a gazillion other projects. I'm trying to baste a quilt as often as possible - keep that baby in the right position!

Pictures to come - I've taken the plunge and started quilting on my Juki. It's pretty awesome. Laurel is amassing quite the collection of doll quilts, but it's worth the practice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Best Banana Bread EVER!

Does everyone have a tried-and-true, best banana bread recipe? I do. Nothing I learned at the CIA either. Nope. You just cannot beat Betty Crocker's recipe. Love it. And can I confess that my favorite part of the bread is the top - that kinda sticky top that you just don't get anywhere else? Aaron likes the end pieces, which is just fine with me.

By the way, do not leave out the nuts. Unless you are allergic, you should really put nuts in just about everything. We have a very short list of things that should not have nuts. Banana bread is not on that list.

Betty Crocker's Banana Bread

1 ¼ c. sugar

½ c. butter, room temp.

2 large eggs

1 ½ c mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium)

½ c. buttermilk

1 t. vanilla

2 ½ c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. chopped nuts

Now can I just say creaming method and be done? Please? Okay, okay. Cream the butter and sugar until it's light (and I mean light!) and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time. Dump in the bananas and vanilla. I stir together the dry ingredients, then add that whole mess after the bananas. Others will have you do it in batches, beginning and ending with blah blah blah. Just pour in the dry, pour over the buttermilk, and mix it on low until it just comes together. And don't leave out the nuts. I take it off the mixer, give it a good scrape and stir with my spatula, then pour it into the bread pans. Bake at 350 until it's done. Don't ask me how long - at least an hour-ish. Every oven is different. In Seattle, it took over an hour. Here in Moscow, it's right at an hour.

There are those who might add things like chocolate chips, but that's really not for me to judge on. I did make a banana pound cake the other day that was a dead ringer for banana bread, but you put in a layer o' hot fudge. Now that's awesomeness.


I love chickens. I love them fried, I love their eggs. I love them baked, braised, sauteed, barbecued, smothered, stewed and in a pot pie.

I also love them at the fair. I love the funky ones with feather dusters on their heads. I love the big ol' roosters.

I am also a chicken myself. But I'm working on it. Baby steps, right?

I took the plunge and ordered the fabric I want to back my quilts with - I think enough for about 6 of them.


When it gets here, there will be no place to hide it. It will stare at me, reminding me that I need to just git 'er done.

And, as I am 35 weeks pregnant and doing my dangdest to avoid another posterior baby, making quilt sandwiches by crawling around on the floor will actually help things. So here's to quilt sandwiching and babies in the right position!

Friday, August 26, 2011


This is my shrink-couch moment.

I am terrified to quilt a quilt.

I know I have an awesome machine for it.

I know I can do it, that I just have to dive in and try it.

I know I can start small and simple.

I know all these things.

Yeah, still terrified.

But I'm wondering what will get scarier: the prospect of quilting or the stack of quilt tops that need to be finished (last count: 15 - SO embarrassing!). The quilt tops are quickly winning out. I want to use them, not look at them in their little boxes and wish I had them to snuggle with.

Here's hoping I get over this fear soon so that we don't freeze this winter!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Still Here

I'm still here, still busy, still pregnant. Got my law student (that's his handsome self up there, posing with a perfectly roasted marshmallow, all for me!) off today and so begins are latest and greatest adventure. I'm so proud of him. I don't get too personal on this blog (usually save that for my other one), but I just love this guy - he's a hard worker and he's determined to make a good life for us.

The least I could do is finish quilts in time for Christmas! I've been sewing like crazy - I've got 56 blocks done on my string quilt. I've got some catching up to do on the FWQAL, but I'll get there. I'm also finishing my last two (hooray) classes at UW. Then I'm a graduate! Hooray!

Our landlords are remodeling the upstairs next week, so we'll be escaping the chaos and chilling in the air-conditioned goodness of my parents' house. I've got sewing projects there to cut out (baptism dress, blessing dress) and lots of fall/winter shopping to do. It will be a nice break, although we'll miss Aaron a whole lot. But it's his first week of classes, so he can really focus and work out the kinks in his schedule without having to worry about neglecting us. We'll all adjust when we get back from K-town.

In the meantime, happy sewing. I'll be ordering a boatload of flannel to back my quilts with - that's decision is a long story, but for another day - and then I will (gulp!) start in on the quilting of my finished quilt tops. Scary. But if Aaron can go to law school, I can quilt a quilt.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry cobbler and I go way back. Growing up on the southern Oregon coast, blackberries were a way of late summer life. We spent hours picking bucket after bucket of berries that, if they actually made it home, were turned in to cobblers most days.

One summer, my Gran was visiting us. We picked a mess of berries, and brought them home to her. She turned out the best blackberry cobbler I've ever had. I should know. I ate it through my tears that time.

See, I was so excited to get it to the table, and she was letting me carry it there, that I was dancing around. The exuberance of a child and hot, syrupy berry juice do not mix well. I ended up dumping some of that cobbler onto my right arm and burning it something fierce. While everyone else enjoyed their cobbler, I was standing at the sink, crying as the cold water ran over my wrist. I don't remember if I was crying over the burn or because I had to wait to have my cobbler. Room temperature cobbler's got nothing on hot cobbler with vanilla ice cream melting into white pools around the berries.

In honor of that cobbler (and the little white scar on my arm where the burn blistered), and in honor of my Gran who passed away this spring, I made this cobbler today. And did not dump any of it on my arm.

Meme's Blackberry Cobbler (adapted from Bon Appetit, Y'All)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 cups fresh blackberries (which are scarce here in Northern Idaho, so I used frozen and didn't feel one bit ashamed - didn't thaw them or drain them)
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling, if needed
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup whole milk (or 2%, which is what I had)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped cream (what we used today) or ice cream, for accompaniment

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt the butter on the stove in a large cast-iron skillet. If you brown the butter a smidge, all the better I say.

Place the blackberries in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash them to release some of their juices. If the berries are tart, sprinkle over some of the sugar. I skipped this step as my berries were frozen and I'm impatient.

To make the batter, in another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the 1 cup sugar, milk and vanilla, and stir until evenly blended. Remove the skillet from the stove and add the melted butter to the batter; stir to combine. Pour the batter all at once into the skillet, then add the blackberries and juices to the center of the batter.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve hot (most definitely), warm (still okay) or at room temperature (not in my house you don't) with whipped cream or ice cream. Save some for breakfast too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Christmas Quilts

Here are the finished Christmas quilts, so far. Yes, they need to be quilted. Can I admit to a smidgen of nervousness associated with that prospect? And I need funds to buy batting and backing. I'm thinking of backing them all in flannel, just for extra coziness. Good idea? These are just snuggle quilts for everyone to use when they need one.

These are the two I finished up this week. It was just a matter of putting together the barn raising quilt and sewing the sashing on my Holiday Hostess quilt. Still, I'm glad to have them done!

I have the Christmas tree one (that I need a different foot for on my sewing machine - long story!), one using Riley Blake Christmas Candy and then I've got a string quilt in mind using up all those red scraps I've got left. So eight in all. People need eight Christmas quilts, right?

I'd stop making them if the fabric companies would stop designing such cute Christmas fabrics!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Out O' Thread Blues

No wordless Wednesday post today, because I have words. Frustrated words because, as I was putting together my barn raising red and white Christmas quilt, I ran out of thread. Grrr. And since my credit card info was stolen and we're dealing with that for the second time in a month, I'm without funds to get more thread.

Okay, technically I could drive to the branch in Pullman (there isn't one in Moscow), go inside and make a cash withdrawal, but that would waste even more time.

So, while I sing the "Out O' Thread" Blues, I'm prepping other projects.

Here's what I've accomplished so far:
Still left to do, before I can go get that thread:
Then I will earn my trip to the store to buy a truckload of thread so this doesn't happen again for a while! But prepping is great because then I can enjoy the sewing without the fussing around with the rotary cutter every few minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books for Children

I am a reader. I read for fun. I sometimes neglect other things because I need to finish a page, a chapter, a book.

My mother is a reader. I grew up watching her devour books. She always had a book in her hand. As a child, I would spend hours at the library, bringing home stacks and stacks of books. They were my friends and I have some vivid memories of the stories I read. This was how I learned about the world outside Coos Bay, Oregon.

I just knew my daughter would be a reader as well. But she wasn't, at first. We struggled with it for quite some time. I suspect she has inherited her father's dyslexia.

This summer, everything has changed. I did a dance of joy watching her walk up the stairs, book in hand, wanting to finish before she had to eat dinner. I have to force her to turn out her light at night to go to sleep. Even then, I'm not sure she doesn't turn it back on once I'm asleep (or lost in my own book!). She quickly breezes through the books I buy and bring home for her.

Which leads me to my problem. I want some slightly more challenging but still age appropriate books for her. I know, I have friends who allow their 8-year-olds to read Harry Potter, but I'm not comfortable with that. The first one or two books are okay, but they get very dark very quickly and I'm not sure my daughter could handle that. A little mystery, a little danger is okay.

She loves Magic Treehouse. She's read the first two Ivy and Bean books and enjoyed them. I'm reading The Magician's Nephew to her in the hopes that she has a desire to continue the Narnia series herself. But what else? Most of the books that are the next step up involve "tweens" who like to shop, have slumber parties, have crushes on boys, etc. I consider it my job to keep her young and innocent as long as possible. So, no, I won't be introducing those books.

Here's what's on my list right now for her:

Pippi Longstocking books
Some American Girl books (I think she'd like Felicity the best)
The Hundred Dresses
Betsy Tacy books
The "Shoe" books - Ballet Shoes, Skating Shoes, etc.

Am I missing anything? The Ramona books, perhaps?

And please don't get me started on early reader books for William. While I value the Dick and Jane books as classics, they have been classically frustrating for both my readers. Far too many "exception to the rule" words to make them easy and understandable. This book was much better. William was so proud of himself for reading the whole thing on his own. That's a good book, in my book.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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