Thursday, September 25, 2014

Obnoxious Blankets

 I made two more obnoxious jelly roll blankets.  I used up the last of my scrub top scraps for this one and backed it with a busy zig zag print.  I cut all my scraps 3 inches wide and used a 1/2" seam allowance and was never pleased with the finished width of the blanket.  When you sew the blanket using this method, you go from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 strips wide.  64 strips would be way to wide so I made the next one cutting the strips 3.5 inches wide to stretch my 32 strips.
 I lay out my backing fabric on the living room floor right side down, then my batting and then the quilt top right side up.  I smooth it out as best I can and then pin it to death.  I quilt the layers together using the strips as a guide which goes much faster than my plain fabric blankets because I don't have to measure and chalk lines.  Then I trim the batting and quilt top and fold over and hem the backing edges because I don't have the patience to mess around with quilt binding.  And it seems whenever I do this, someone always has to come along and lay on the quilt. 

 Here is the other one I finished!  A while back, I collected a bunch of holly fabrics for Christmas and planned someday for a Christmas quilt.  Of course they sat in a box in my sewing room and got moved up here from Iowa and then moved here from our old apartment.  Ever since I started working on jelly roll quilts, stash is starting to bite the dust!  I have batting on hand for 2 more but I have at least 4 groups of fabric stash mentally lined up. 

Winter is coming and you can never have too many blankets in your house for company.  We had 8 people stay with us last weekend and luckily the weather was warm.  I use our living room floor to assemble the quilts so for that reason I'm a little glad we still don't have furniture in it!
 Our Better Boy tomatoes have really slowed down but we have plenty of Juliets that are ripening.  I've been picking a lot of green tomatoes...
 ...and eating them like this!  Dip them in flour with some Greek seasoning, then egg, and then cornmeal and fry until the tomatoes are tender.  Num num!  I have 4 eggplants developing and I can't wait!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Surprise Fall!

 We had a snap spell of bona fide fall weather.  It got down to not quite freezing overnight last night and we put sheets over the tomatoes and eggplants just to be safe.  My brother also arrived for his week of drill and bureaucracy.  I'd bought 2 whole chickens on ridiculous sale a few months back and thawed one out in John's honor.  The high temp yesterday was mid 50's and perfect for roasting a chicken.  I kind of made the recipe up based on the wonderful Anne Burrell.  I enjoy her program every weekday at 1300.  I can only catch the first half of her show because I am in the shower every work weekday by 1320.  I took 4 Tbsp. of butter and softened and mashed it with 1 Tbsp potted garlic (I prefer Lee Kum Kee), a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp coarse kosher salt and a generous 1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary.  I loosened the flesh of a 5.2# roaster chicken and rubbed the butter mixture under the skin.  I also generously salted the cavity of the carcass.  I coarsely chopped 2 carrots, 2 onions, and 2 ribs of celery and layed them in my enameled cast iron dutch oven as a base for my chicken.  I threw a cup of water into the pot and roasted the bird at 375 degrees until the juices ran clear and the temp registered 170 degrees.
I started on the pie early in the afternoon.  I got the apples at the grocery store and got regular old granny smith.  I never got to go to the orchard for strawberry picking in the field so I want to go for canning apples.  I used this recipe and it was awesome.  Next time I will use a larger pie plate and half the amount of the streusel topping.  I baked this pie for 65 minutes which was 10 minutes longer than required and the apples were still very firm.  Maybe next time I will try a different apple variety.  This recipe also calls for the filling to be tossed with a caramel apple dip mixture which of course was delicious, but in a time crunch, could be omitted.  Mmmmmm.....pie.  Autumn is the time for pie. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jelly Roll Jeans

 I am a saver.  My sister will tell you that I am a hoarder but I disagree.  There is a definite crowbar separation between those two things.  I love the idea that you could take something that is no longer useful as it's original intended purpose and use it to make something functional and totally different.  I've had a sack of old jeans sitting in my sewing room for some time.  Some were mine, some were Dave's and a coworker gave me a dozen pairs her son had outgrown.  They all had holes in the knees, pockets ripped out, crotch seams worn away, etc. 

Lopi has ripped up her dog bed cover twice in the short time she's lived with us.  She can't help it though, she is a terrier and terriers need to dig and before she lays down on anything, she has to dig at it to make it just right.  Well I thought a dog bed cover made of denim would be pretty tough and withstand her "bed making".  I set to work cutting 3 inch wide strips out of all the different varieties of jeans and pieced them together jelly roll style and this is what I wound up with.  I think it is quite pretty with all the random shades of blue.
She was running around with her rope toy and just happened to lay on her bed for a moment for me to snap a picture.  What did we do without this nerd?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

 What's new around here?  The State Fair has come and gone and Dave and I went twice.  We used the heck out of our Blue Ribbon Coupon Book on our first visit.  Our second trip was on the very last day with my parents and Freya and John.  As we boarded our bus to the fair, passengers coming back gave us their books so Mom and Dad had coupons to use.  Our favorite food item this year had to be the Reuben bites from O'Gara's.  Num num!
 We visited the Creative Activities Building because I had knitting and Freya had scrap booking exhibited.  I am proud to say I entered 9 things and got ribbons on 5 of them and 2 of those were blue!  As my dad would say, "The sin of pride."  Here is my finished 3 piece baby set that won the top knitted item prize at the Washington County Fair.
 Now that my fair deadlines have passed for the year, I am working on baby deadlines.  I've had my eye on this pattern for some time.  Can you see the owls?  I am currently knitting a bunch of these for family babies.  My niece Becky is expecting a boy so this sweater will go to her with the blue stitching on the buttons and eyes.  My cousin Anna is expecting a girl and will receive this same sweater but with pink thread for buttons and eyes.  My cousin Britt is expecting a baby but they are not learning the sex prior to the birth so I am torn between yellow and teal thread.  The sweater itself is knit from a gender neutral sea foam teal/blue. 
 Dave and I attended the wedding of our nephew held on the terrace of the Stillwater Public Library.  I was dubious when I read the location on the invitation but it was bee-YEW-tiful!  Who knew that was up there?  What a great facility and you'd think you were in Prague by all the church spires!  This was the first small town library I'd ever seen that had a parking ramp beneath it!
 We also attended the first Gopher football game of the year last Thursday with Dave's dad.  The weather cooperated for the most part and we creamed Eastern Illinois.  I had fun but I have a hard time paying attention at large sporting events like this.  I start looking around at the cheerleaders and the band and I'm watching what Goldy is doing and....oh wait, we're playing again!
The garden has been moderately successful this year but we had such a late start and a cool and wet season so far.  I am already making plans for next year's changes.  I have been very pleased with our cherry tomatoes.  I started them from seed and planted them in a large pot which I plan to bring indoors when the frost comes.  We have 1 regular tomato plant and 1 roma tomato plant and they're slowly ripening.  The green beans might have a second round of produce and our eggplants look like they might produce something before the season is over.  We have yet to produce a single zucchini and have 3 runt cucumbers I hope will get bigger.  There are 3 spaghetti squash developing on the vine and I don't think we're going to get any butternut squash. 
Dave's parents always have an abundance of tomatoes and I've brought home 2 loads from them already.  I did my first day of canning this year today and boy are my dogs barking from all the standing in the kitchen.  I wound up with 6 quarts of tomato sauce and 6 pints of salsa at the end of the day.  After slowly emptying the jars all year, it is nice to be filling them up and storing them for winter.  Last year I made dozens and dozens of jars of salsa because it was the first thing I learned how to can.  Then I learned I could just reduce down and strain gallons of tomatoes and can it as sauce to use as a cooking base.  We gave away quite a few pints of salsa and ate and cooked with it and managed to use it all up but I wished I'd canned way more plain sauce. There were quite a few bitterly cold days that we weathered with velvety tomato soup made out of the tomato sauce.  I have next weekend off too and I'm hoping between our garden and Dave's parents that we'll have another truckload to fool around with.  I want to try canning marinara and pasta sauce if I have a surplus of plain sauce.  I am also going to try canning applesauce when the apples are ready.  More on that later.