Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting it done! January results

To make sure we're getting stuff done in 2013, Judy at Patchwork Times has inspired us to post at least four quilty goals every month. Once our goals are posted, we can help each other stay on track. So, here are my results from January and my goals for February. I think I did pretty well with my January goals. Three out of four ain't bad.
  1. Medallion mystery, month one
    • Done! Pictures are here.
  2. Michael Miller Clubhouse 2013, month one
    • Done! I finished the block and the bonus project.

  3. Backing for Casino (the BQE)
    • Done! It has an appointment with the quilter on February 12.
  4. Don't fall behind on Easy Street clues
    • When I wrote this one, I didn't realize the final clue would be the next day! I'm on the last step, which is big: piecing all the blocks and assembling the top.

and now...

Four quilty goals for February:

  1. Medallion mystery, month two
    • This will be on my list every month until the mystery is solved.
  2. Michael Miller Clubhouse 2013, month two
    • This will also be on my list every month for 2013.
  3. Bright Lights
    • 27 blocks for a swap with the awesome ladies at QATW.
  4. Finish at least half of the blocks for Easy Street
    • I'd really like to keep this one out of the UFO pile.
  5. Chickens binding
    • Okay maybe one more thing. I'd love to get this finished in February.

Making a list of goals really helped me in January. Thanks, Judy!

You can see how everyone did on their January goals and find out what they have in store for February at Patchwork Times!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This week's "What's Cooking?" challenge is tofu! "Yuk" was my first reaction. Texture is a big factor in determining what I like to eat, so tofu is not on my go-to list of favorites. But that's why this is a challenge!
Patchwork Times What's Cooking

We didn't follow a recipe this week. Chef DH decided to experiment and see what happened. We don't cook with tofu, so we did some research before we started. We learned that tofu absorbs the flavors it's cooked with. Without marinating, tofu has no flavor. We also learned that you need to press the tofu to get the water out so new flavors can get in.

We decided to make toficken using some chicken flavor. After pressing extra-firm tofu, we let it marinate overnight in two cups water, chicken bouillon, and herbes de provence then pan fried in olive oil. We served it with green beans and red potatoes mashed with garlic and herbes de provence.

It didn't look very appetizing, but I was really surprised with the flavor. Tofu is usually so bland, but this wasn't bland at all. I could taste chicken and the herbs. Unfortunately, it will still tofu-like in texture. Maybe we could cut the tofu into smaller cubes and make something like toficken nuggets. A coating of cornstarch would make it crispier.

What did everyone else make with their tofu? Find out at Patchwork Times!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My box of fun is here!

My box from The Loopy Ewe was rubber banded to my box from Jimmy Beans Wool. I wonder what the mailman thought of that.

Design wall Monday: Starshine still in progress

I know this was supposed to be a project that someone could finish over a weekend, but I'm slow. And with the NHL back in action, I'm spending a lot of time at PNC Arena and not a lot of time in my sewing room. Five blocks are finished, so I just have one more plus the border (I'm making half size). I like how it's turning out, and my pinwheels are matching up so far.
missing a blue block

If you want to print the Starshine pattern, do it quick. It's only available for a limited time. Visit Justquiltin before it's too late.

Design Wall Monday is happening at Patchwork Times!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stash report - 2013.4

I pieced the backing for Casino, my BQE. It's going to the quilter this week. Yay!
Used this week: 9.00 yards
Used YTD: 11.75 yards
Added this week: 0.00 yards
Added YTD: 11.50 yards
2013 net used: 0.25 yards
My Sunday stash report is no longer in the red! I'm linking my report with other quilters at Patchwork Times.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On the needles: More pictures of yarn

I went on a yarn shopping spree that has really messed up my POY/POSMWY ratio. I blame Judy at Patchwork Times and Denise at Justquiltin. They keep telling us all about their favorite yarn shop, The Loopy Ewe, so I had to check it out. The shop has a really great reward program, so I had to create an account and buy something. Who wouldn't want a Box of Fun?

Reading about their reward program reminded me that I earned a free shipping coupon and some reward bucks at Jimmy Beans Wool at the end of last quarter. I can't believe I hadn't used them yet! So, I had to go over to Jimmy Beans Wool and use them, and you always spend more than what you have in reward bucks, right?

My DH is a mentor for a beginning runner group that runs on Thursdays. They meet in the same shopping center as one of my favorite local yarn shops, Great Yarns. It was too dark for me to knit in the car while I was waiting, so I had to visit the LYS (where they also have a nice reward program, by the way). They had Freia yarn in all sorts of beautiful colors. I finally decided on the color that I liked best, and then I found a nice pattern designed for the yarn. They have pink shopping bags, so it was fun trying to sneak it back to the car without DH and his entire running group seeing it. He mentioned later that I must have taken a long route back to the car.
cool yarn and shawl/scarf pattern

I haven't made much progress on my sock, because I got distracted by a fuzzy hat.
fuzzy hat in red and black

Since the sock looks pretty much the same as it did last week, I decided to take a picture of it in an interesting place. So here's my sock at a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. I like to knit at intermission.
DH is not actually poking that guy in the head with the needles.

I've been thinking about knitting a hat for that guy. It seems like his head must get really cold in the arena every game.

Recap of this week: More new projects; no finished projects. You can see other projects, maybe some with actual progress, at Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Creamed Corn Cornbread

It's time for another "What's Cooking?" challenge. This week: Cream Style Corn! I wasn't sure what to do with this one. Usually I just open the can and heat it up. Google only seemed to give recipes for making creamed corn, not for making something with creamed corn. What to do?
Patchwork Times What's Cooking

Of course I found a recipe on Food Network (where else?). This one is from Alton Brown. I really enjoy his show, Good Eats; it's funny and educational. He's also on Iron Chef America, which is one of the reasons I watch it.

Creamed Corn Cornbread

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup creamed corn
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet into the oven. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together to combine well. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn, whisking together to combine thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and stir to combine. If the batter will not pour, add more buttermilk to the batter. Swirl the canola oil in the hot cast iron skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and springs back upon the touch, about 20 minutes.

We don't have a 10-inch cast iron skillet, so we used two of these cute little ones. I put the regular size knife there to show how small the skillet is. We had to fill each one twice to bake all the batter.

See the bits of corn in the batter?

And the first little cornbread is done.

It was really good, not as dry as cornbread often is. We enjoyed it with some yummy beef stew. We still have some beef stew leftovers, but the cornbread is all gone. I really hope we make this again.

For more cream style corn recipes, visit Patchwork Times.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Design wall Monday: Starshine

Because I have absolutely nothing else to do </sarcasm>, because I love a good quilt along, and because the pattern is gorgeous, I joined in on the first of the 2013 Stitchin with Justquiltin weekend projects.

There wasn't anything in my stash that I thought would coordinate well for the stars, and I didn't have enough of any fabric that would work for the background. Not wanting to mess up my stash report with a shopping spree, I wasn't going to make it this weekend. I printed the pattern for later. On Saturday afternoon I found myself at the quilt shop picking out fabric.

The cutting started Saturday night, but I didn't start stitching until Sunday (technically the last day of the quilt along). By the end of the day, I had the main pieces stitched and one block finished.
one of two yellow blocks, the others are blue and green

The Earth, Wind & Fire fabric line that I chose has three main colors: blue, green, and yellow. The small flower print on the black background is actually three different fabrics; one with each of the three colors in the center of the flowers.
green, yellow, and blue flowers

I thought it would be pretty to use all three of those flower fabrics to subtly bring the colors together in all the blocks. I didn't consider how confusing it would be to plan the fabric placement so that each pinwheel had only one color. Graph paper and a pencil diagram of all the blocks are keeping me on track, I hope.
green pinwheel in the yellow star block

Easy Street has briefly been bumped from my design wall, but I'm sure it will be back soon. To see other quilting projects, visit Patchwork Times. I don't think it's too late to download the free Starshine pattern. Visit Justquiltin for the .pdf.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stash report - 2013.3

See that cute guy holding all those bolts of fabric? That's my DH. His name is John, but henceforth he shall be known only as "The Enabler."

You see, I didn't plan on buying any of that fabric yesterday. I went to my LQS to get some fat quarters and a little gift for the Valentine gift exchange with the awesome ladies at Quilting Around the World. The shop isn't very close to our house, so I have to plan my trips to be sure I don't forget anything. Our conversation went something like this:
Enabler: Do you need anything to finish any projects?
Me: No, I have what I need for now.
Enabler: Are there any new projects?
Me: Well, I printed this one pattern, but I have so much to work on already and my stash report....
Enabler: Could you cut the pattern in half? It would take half as long and half as much fabric.
Me: ....
Enabler: You could use that Village People fabric you've been wanting to buy.

The "Village People" fabric that he referred to is actually called Earth, Wind & Fire, and that's what he's holding in the photo along with Kona Snow for the background. My new project is Starshine by Denise at Justquiltin. It's her Stitchin' with Justquiltin 2013 weekend project.

So, thanks to The Enabler, my stash report looks pretty bad. I did finish a small gift for the Valentine exchange. (I'm not posting a photo, because I don't know if she reads my blog. Hi Jessica!) I'm still hopeful that I'll finish Starshine so I can report it next week.
Used this week: 0.5 yards
Used YTD: 2.75 yards
Added this week: 5.25 yards
Added YTD: 11.5 yards
2013 net used: -8.75 yards

I'm linking my Sunday stash report with other quilters at Patchwork Times.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On the needles: Second sock syndrome

I've finished the hat that I was working on last week. This is the hat that has been giving me fits since October. I had to leave out four rows to get it finished before the yarn ran out. Even then it was a close call.
my first cable

So with this accomplishment giving me motivation to tackle UFOs, I pulled out an old pair of socks. Actually, it's a sock and a ball of yarn. This poor, lonely sock has been waiting for its mate for... well, let's just say awhile.
a sock alone

I like starting new projects, but I get distracted by another new project before I finish the first one (see: my blog title). When I finished the first sock, I wanted to start something new instead of starting over with the same sock pattern. That was awhile ago. I was beginning to think about giving the lone sock to someone with only one foot. Or I could pretend that the other sock got lost in the laundry. But now I'm determined to finish the second one.
just getting started

I really need to learn the method to knit two socks at once. That will have to wait until the next pair, since I only need one now. Maybe I'll have two finished socks for next Friday's report.

Everyone is linking their "On the needles" reports at Patchwork Times. Take a look!

PS. The pattern I'm using is called "Karla's Socks." My MIL gave it to me from her pattern called "Jeanne's Socks." It has been handed down, modified, and passed around so much that I don't think anyone knows where the original came from.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Show us your socks

Judy at Patchwork Times has a new way for us to share a little bit of our lives and get to know each other on the interwebs. We already have "Design Wall Monday," "What's Cooking?" Wednesday, "On the Needles" Friday, and "Sunday Stash Reports." Now there's "Show Us Your Socks" Thursday. It all started with Judy's innocent blog post yesterday.

Too much sharing, you say? Whatever. I think it's fun.

There are a lot of knitters participating, so a lot of the socks will be hand made. While I also knit socks, I'm not wearing any that I made today. (They don't have to be hand made; the only rule is that someone has to be wearing the socks in the photo.) Today I'm wearing my Injinji toe socks. I can't imagine trying to knit toe socks. Tiny yarn and tiny needles so they won't be too thick between my toes, but I digress. These toe socks aren't just trendy and cute, they are a vital part of my marathon training. I tend to curl my toes when I run, gripping the shoe I guess. That isn't a problem on short runs, but once I get over 10 miles or so, my toes start to hurt. Sometimes I get blisters. These socks help keep my toes straight. I don't know how they do it, because they aren't stiff or anything, they just do.
Injinji toe socks and Dansko rain clogs

I have approximately 459287543 pairs of Injinji toe socks. If I had known we were going to post pictures today, I would have worn my rainbow striped ones. Maybe next week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach

It's time for another "What's Cooking?" challenge. This week: Spinach!
Patchwork Times What's Cooking

I love spinach! I could eat it every day. Instead of having lettuce on a sandwich at my favorite sandwich shop, I have spinach.

We decided to find a new recipe to try for the challenge. This one is from Giada at Food Network. Can you tell that we enjoy watching Food Network?

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sundried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.
Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sundried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

We served it with Quinoa Sundried Tomato Florentine and Jicama-Carrot Slaw (more on that later) with Mayan cocoa milkshakes for dessert.

This recipe was way more complicated than the recipes we usually make. It wasn't difficult, just more steps in the process. It was very good. The only issue was that the sauce had a little too much lemon juice. We'll adjust for that when we make it again. I think we will make it again. With two side dishes and dessert, it was a big dinner. I'm stuffed. Good thing I went for a long run this morning.

Update from last week: If you remember, I was disappointed that we couldn't make Jicama-Carrot Slaw because we couldn't find jicama. Well, we found it!

We changed the recipe a little; here's what we did: Combine 3 tablespoons each lime juice and finely chopped dates and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Shred 1 medium carrot and 1 pound peeled jicama and add to the date mixture, season with salt and toss to coat.

See "What's Cooking?" on other blogs and join us for next week's challenge at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Design wall Monday: Back on Easy Street

I was cruising down Easy Street, keeping up with traffic, when all of a sudden, ZOOM! Everyone took off and raced to the finish line. Where did everybody go?

One of my "Getting It Done" goals for January was to keep up with the Easy Street clues. When I wrote that, I had no idea the final reveal was the very next day! I guess I expected to put the top together in steps like we had made all the parts. I was amazed when someone finished her top after three days and several were completely finished (quilted, bound, and enjoyed) within a week. Impressive!

After being left in their dust, I pulled over and took an Easy Street break to finish my January BOMs. I'm back on Easy Street this weekend; you can find me cruising in the slow lane. I've made one of each of the four main parts.

completed parts ready to assemble

corner and side triangles

block A

block B

all four blocks in their place

I would like to get the top finished by the end of January, but these blocks took a lot of time to make so I'm not in a hurry. I have been thinking about what I will put on the back. I found some great fabric in my stash, but it's definitely not enough. Maybe I'll buy a coordinating fabric and make stripes or big blocks. I have some time to decide.

It's fun to see what everyone else is working on! Visit Quiltville for Easy Street links (I'm number 241!) and Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday links.

Stash report - 2013.2

I thought I didn't have anything to report this week, but then I remembered that I finished my Clubhouse bonus project after last week's post. 1.25 yards gone! Yay!

Used this week: 1.25 yards
Used YTD: 2.25 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added YTD: 6.25 yards
2013 net used: -4.00 yards

I'm linking my Sunday stash report with other quilters at Patchwork Times.

Friday, January 11, 2013

On the needles: Maybe a hat

I enjoy taking classes at Craftsy, especially the free ones. In October, I signed up for a mystery knit along workshop. It wasn't free, but the cost included the workshop, pattern, and yarn. We didn't know what we were going to make or what the yarn was going to be. They only told us what size needles we needed. I started to have some doubts when I received orange yarn.
This is not my color.
When the knit along started on October 1, the mystery part ended. It was a hat. The whole pattern and corresponding workshop were posted at once. I thought there would still be some sort of mystery to it, maybe part of the pattern each week. It's not a difficult pattern, so a lot of people had already finished before I even downloaded it. There goes the mystery and the knit along.

A lot of people had already finished, but a lot more people had posted that they didn't have enough yarn to finish. There were notes and comments about skipping this or that round and being able to finish the hat, so I followed their advice and forged ahead. Then I ran out of yarn.

It's a cute pattern and my very first attempt at a cable, so I really want to make it.

The pattern called for DPNs, and I ended up with some ladders on the sides. I ripped everything out and started over, this time using my circular needles. I hoped eliminating the ladders would give me enough yarn to finish. Then I started getting close to the end of the yarn again and got frustrated and put the project aside. That was sometime in November.

In the meantime, I made this cute knitting bag in another Craftsy class.

I've started working my hat again, even though the yarn is running low. If I run out of yarn, I'm not starting over. I'll save this yarn for something else. Maybe I'll try this hat pattern with a different yarn. It is a really cute pattern.

I'm linking up with everyone at Patchwork Times!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Herbes de Provence Carrot Soup

When we got this week's "What's Cooking?" assignment, Chef DH said, "Carrots? That's boring!" I replied, "Then we need to make it interesting." So that was our challenge.
Patchwork Times What's Cooking

I realized that this might mean a trip to our favorite little spice shop...the one in France.

Okay, so it's not really in France. It's in a shopping center called Lafayette Village. That really is a shopping center; it's not your average strip mall. Savory Spice Shop grinds spices weekly, so everything is fresh. And they are great at helping with recipes and new flavors to try.

We went there for Herbes de Provence, a popular French blend that can be used in almost anything. DH also bought some Ghost Pepper Salt (HOT) and Mayan Cocoa (with chili peppers), but that's a story for another day. Our recipe this week is Herbes de Provence Carrot Soup. I'm not sure how DH found this recipe. I'm gonna guess Google.

  • 2.5 lbs carrots, peeled
  • 1.5 quarts vegetable stock
  • .75 lbs standard mirepoix (50% onions, 25% carrots, 25% celery)
  • Herbes de Provence You decide how much goes in. We used approx. 1Tbsp.
  • Salt and crushed green peppercorn to taste We used 1 tsp salt, but no peppercorn only because we didn't have any.
  • Sweat the mirepoix with grape seed oil in a medium stock pot
  • Add the vegetable stock, herbs, salt & pepper
  • Add the carrots and simmer for an hour or two
  • Blend the soup (be careful) then strain
  • Garnish and serve
Waiting for the simmer.

The soup was creamy and had a lot of flavor. I wasn't a big fan of the texture, all mush and nothing to bite or chew, but it was tasty.

Another recipe I wanted to try was Jicama Carrot Orange-Chipotle Slaw, but we couldn't find any Jicama. There are probably substitutes, but I really like Jicama! Well, maybe I just like saying Jicama. Anyway, we'll keep looking and try that recipe soon.

Check out "What's Cooking?" every Wednesday at Patchwork Times and join next week's challenge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My brother's "new" car

My brother collects old, classic cars. He buys them, restores them, puts them in shows, drives them, and sells them. Other people bring their cars to him for restoration.

I think the oldest of his cars (yes, plural) was a 1938 Packard (reminded me of Eliot Ness) until a few weeks ago. That's when he brought home a 1911 Buick.

It's in surprisingly good shape for being 102 years old. It hadn't been restored or in a museum or anything. The man who owned the car had been the mechanic on it for 76 years. Of course my brother has plans to restore it. The brass cleaner is already on the work bench. The engine will turn over, but it needs to be flushed and cleaned before it will run. It was driven in a parade two short years ago, so my brother is confident he can get it running again.

Operating the car is more complicated than I imagined. You can't see all of them in this picture, but there are four pedals on the floor. The brake and clutch are visible. Between them is a tiny throttle control; you can see the slot for it. Closer to the seat is a pedal on the floor that will bypass the muffler to give the engine more power when it's needed, like when the vehicle is stuck in the mud, which probably happened a lot in 1911. The two levers to the right of the driver's seat are the shift and the brake.

The spark and throttle levers are on the steering wheel. Old time cruise control.

Once you crank start the engine, you have to manually adjust the spark timing to set the idle speed correctly.

There are oil lamps on the back and both sides. The front headlamps are different. There is a tank on the driver's side with a line running to the headlamps. Carbide is dropped in water in the tank to create the acetylene gas for the headlamps. Because of the tank, the driver has to get in on the passenger side.

You can see a few of my brother's other cars in the background of this photo.

The horn is really cool. It's operated by squeezing a large bulb by the driver's seat. I couldn't get it to work, because my hand is too small. According to my brother, this tri-coil horn is the most expensive part of the car.

I asked where the gas tank is, because I didn't see a place to fill it. The gas tank is ... wait for it ... under the passenger seat! Safety first!
Speaking of the gas tank, if you were low on gas in 1911, you had to drive backwards to go uphill. There was no gas gauge, so I have no idea how you knew when it was low.

Wooden Wheels!

Licensed and ready to hit the road.

My brother always gets the coolest toys.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Design wall Monday: New clubs for 2013

I really like to join BOM clubs. Making a quilt in small chunks each month is less intimidating to me. A pattern and a big stack of fabric can seem like so much to do that I don't even start. But one little block or section each month seems doable, and monthly meetings or blog posts keep me on a schedule.

January brings new BOM projects for the year. The first one I finished this month was the Michael Miller Clubhouse. My block is a little wonky, so I will probably try to fix it or make another one before adding it to the next block.
flower garden

The Clubhouse also includes bonus projects every month. This month was a portfolio to hold our patterns. It was fun to make and not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. I still need to get a button for the closure. There are buttons to coordinate with these fabrics, but they haven't arrived at my LQS yet.

The next monthly project that I finished was the Craftsy Block of the Month 2013. This one was four cute, little offset Log Cabins with narrow strips on one side and wide strips on the other. I liked using the wide strips for two reasons. They were faster to assemble, and I could use a bigger print. These daisies wouldn't look as good on a narrow strip. I made them with orange center squares. I hope the quilt police don't read my blog and come looking for me.

 Want to see what's on other quilters' design walls? Visit Patchwork Times.