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A Gem

April 25, 2012

This morning I was going through my camera transferring old photos.  Our transfer software has become infested with a bug and it’s been super glitchy lately.  So today I am making sure that all our pictures are off the camera and stored on the hard drive before I back it up and clean off the camera.  And I found this gem from Easter.

easter cousins

Creamie and three of her cousins.  Classic awkward cousins picture, right?  Yeah, I thought so too.  So so perfect.

Back in the Saddle

April 19, 2012

I’m officially 6 weeks out.  Finger is doing amazingly better.  Nerve pain has let up a lot in just these last few days.  I am still typing with 9 fingers, and playing the piano at church with 9 fingers.  But I think that might be out of habit now…. not sure.  I’ll figure that out later.  But finally I feel like I have jumped the sewing hurdle and landed back in the saddle. (Do you like how I mixed it up there.)  Except for her Easter dress, I haven’t made a single thing for 6 weeks.  And I’m not counting that because I cut it all out with scissors, not a rotary cutter.  And that makes a huge difference (apparently).  I’m still a little hesitant to use my rotary cutter, which honestly kind of makes me feel ridiculous.  But yesterday that officially ended.  I think.  I hope so anyway.

Double Aster block

I made this today.  I am in an online quilting bee and this is our first month.  This is for Sherri.  This is the first bee I’ve been in, and I am a little intimidated by all the “real” quilters in it.  I have made a lot of quilts, but I still don’t really consider myself a quilter.  Not really.  I am good at sewing squares together, and I have a lot of quilting fabric, but if it’s not a square?  Well…. it makes me nervous.  But this one was all half square triangles, so kind of a square.  Kind of.  Anyway I gave it a shot.  And I love it!

oops

Truth be told, I actually made TWO of these blocks today.  Only, the first one didn’t turn out quite right.  Actually, if we are starting at the beginning I have made three of these.  One last night as a practice/trial run/can I really do this test before I cut into the pretty fabric that Sherri sent me.  And it turned out perfectly.  And I guess I got cocky, because the first one I made today? Well, not perfect.  It’s destined to be a doll quilt for Creamie’s babies now.  She’s already claimed it.  I better hurry up and get that project finished before she shreds the unfinished edges!  Thankfully there was plenty of fabric to make a second block this afternoon.  I cut more carefully, sewed more precisely and pressed the thing within an inch of it’s life.  And I didn’t lose any of my triangle points to the demon seam monster. Victory!

double aster

This block is a free pattern from quilterscache.com called the Double Aster Block.  It is 12.5″ square (if you can trim edges straight, which I still need to do before I mail it back to Sherri) so 12″ finished size.  I hope she likes it! (I found this picture on Pinterest that led me to the free pattern).

In other news.  We’ve been battling spring sickies here for almost two weeks.  Scott stayed home from work yesterday, we are all drugged up all the time, and we’ve gone through a TON of tissue over here.  We are thankfully down from the box per day per person we started at.  That makes for very sore noses, even though I only buy expensive “plus lotion and aloe” super soft tissue.  Poor Creamie went through a whole box herself one day.  That’s 125 tissues on her little face in 10 hours.  So so sad.  We are getting better, slowly. Creamie is back at school.  Scott is back at work.  I’ve been craving food but I can’t taste anything.  I don’t want to cook anything.  The only thing that sounds good is warm.  I’m not too picky, if it’s warm I’ll eat it.  I made a heck of a dent in the fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies the other day…. I’m sick.  It’s all fair game.

I love weekends.

April 7, 2012

Can I just tell you how much I love weekends? I love weekends.  Well, some of them.  The one’s where Scott is home I love, when he is at work for 60-80 hours a week which bleeds into Friday night and all day Saturday (which happens 9 times out of 10) I hate them.  But he is home this weekend.  We went on a date last night and another slated for tonight.

And I REALLY love this vintage sweater. Gaudy ribbon rose buttons and all. :)

She is at a movie with her dad right now so I can finish up a few little things for Easter tomorrow.

My lunch date. She looks so grown up today...

Yesterday Creamie and I went to IKEA  and I found the most life changing little kitchen cart. It has changed the way I use my house, in only 24 hours. Amazing. I wish I’d had something like this 5 years ago!

My building helper this afternoon.

She helped me put it together.  She’s a team player like that.  Also, she brought me Woody’s hat to hold all the teeny little screws.  Thanks Woody.

Done! Time to fill it up with all the craft/sewing junk on my table. And it fits in my pantry so I hope that means I will just put it away everyday and we can eat on the table again! Yay!

Do you see the potential here?  I know.  So so great.  It is already full of all the crap that was on my table.  I only wish it had one more basket/tray/shelf thing to hold my actual sewing machine.  And the best part about the whole thing is that it rolls right into my pantry.  So I can roll it out, work on my projects and then just roll it back so we can eat dinner on the table.  Eating dinner at the table once a week was one of my goals this year.  It’s maybe happened twice.  And only because I sliced my finger and haven’t done much sewing these past few weeks.  But now that will change.  I am so excited about it.  The bet $50 I’ve spent on organization stuff ever.

Asleep on the floor in the hall. Again. Two nights in a row.

Alright, I’m back to the last minute Easter things.  When Creamie and Scott get home we are dying Easter eggs and tomorrow morning I need to make three pies before church.  My great grandma’s fresh strawberry, lemon meringue and my favorite rhuberry pie.  Tomorrow is going to be awesome. (Also, Creamie has taken to falling asleep on the floor in the hall at night.  It is hilarious.)

Making my Own Butter. And Bread Too.

April 5, 2012

Lately I’ve kind of been on a foodie kick.  It all started a couple of months ago when I ground my own wheat into flour to bake bread for the first time.  And you know how one thing leads to another.  Last week while Creamie and I were home sick we made butter.  And I didn’t even see this on Pinterest.

seconds please

Creamie actually came up with this idea all on her own.  She has two library  books she’s been loving lately where they churn cream into butter.

little house book

One is Winter Days in the Big Woods (the Big Woods of Laura Ingalls Wilder fame) illustrated by Renee Graef.  Well, on Fridays is the day they churn butter and put it in the little strawberry mold.  And Laura is too little so she just watches, which kind of bugs Creamie.  She keeps telling me she has big muscles so she can make butter herself.  So funny.
Snipp Snapp Snurr book

And the other book she has been loving lately is Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Buttered Bread.  It was published in 1934 and is about 3 Swedish boys who want butter for their bread, which their mother of course churns herself.  And after reading each of these books a million times each, Creamie asked me if I could make butter on my sewing machine.  She thinks that a sewing machine can make/fix anything.  Turns out, making butter isn’t that complicated.  So long as you have a few big muscles.

start with cream

Start with heavy cream.  Fill a mason jar, or other glass jar with a tight fitting lid, halfway with cold cream.  Mine is a little too full, I had to take some out before I was done.  Make sure you screw the lid on tight.

shake it up

Then start shaking it.  Shake and shake and shake it.  Creamie was interested in this part for the first minute and the last 30 seconds.  And I was in charge of the 22 minutes in between.  Think of it as a workout.  Because your arms will be jello by the time you are done.  At first you’ll hear the cream swishing around in there, and then as it gets thicker it will coat the sides of the jar and you won’t really hear it anymore.  Then it will start to feel like the whole thing has solidified.   But it hasn’t.  (This was the point that I opened up my jar, saw that the cream was so thick it couldn’t move around at all and took a few big spoonfuls out and put them in another jar, and the next time I didn’t fill my jar more than halfway up with cream to start out.)  A few more minutes and the butter and the buttermilk will start to separate and you’ll hear the sloshing of fresh buttermilk.  Shake it a bit more until all the solids pull together into a lump and you have officially made butter.

butter and buttermilk

Depending on a bunch of factors, this can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  The colder the cream the better, the faster you shake the jar the faster it will turn into butter and the faster your arms will turn to goo.   Pour off the buttermilk, which you can save for baking or anything else you use buttermilk for.  My mom used to drink it with a bit of fresh ground black pepper.  I always thought it looked/sounded/smelled disgusting, I never was a fan of drinking buttermilk.  Of course my mom grew up on a little farm with a cow and her mom made butter every single week in her big churn.  Butter and buttermilk was a way of life for her.

fresh golden butter

Anyway, back to the butter at hand.  After you pour off the buttermilk you are left with perfectly dreamy butter.  Stir in a little salt (I only used a pinch).  It is barely pale yellow, but nothing like the artificial yellow of most store bought butter.  I mean, you can add some Yellow 5 if you want to, but I left mine that perfectly pale pale yellow.

chill butter

Scrape the butter into a dish, it will be really soft at this point, and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden up.  Keep it stored in the fridge with a tight lid or wrapped tight with plastic wrap so it doesn’t absorb odors from other foods.

fresh bread

And now that your butter is done, you’ll probably need some freshly ground whole wheat bread (my recipe at the end) to go with it.  The 3 Swedish boys in the story have fresh bread.  And since I was going to have homemade fresh butter I decided I needed homemade bread to go with it.  It was the next logical step.  And then I kind of felt like the boy in the book If you Give a Mouse A Cookie…

seconds please

Spread on the butter and watch it melt into a nice warm slice.  And then have another.  And then maybe one more.

homegrown honey

And then try some with butter and honey.  My mom gave me this jar of honey for Christmas.  It is from a beehive on the street where I grew up.  And it is the best honey I’ve ever tasted.  My mom is looking into getting her own bees and I can hardly wait.

with jam

And then I had another slice with butter and my mom’s plumberry jam.  We ate a lot of warm bread that afternoon.  It was heavenly.

Since I know someone will ask, here is my whole wheat bread recipe.  I have a big professional kitchenaid and I always use it to make bread.  I don’t know how to make bread without it.  I usually use the water/sugar/oil version because it is so much cheaper.  But if I have milk that is on it’s way out I’ll use that.  Milk and honey bread is delicious,  it’s just more expensive.

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD 1 hour start to finish.

  • 2.5 cups warm water OR warm milk
  • 1/3 sugar OR honey
  • 1.5 TB SAF fast rising yeast*(see notes)
  • 1/4 cup oil OR room temp butter (NOT melted)
  • 2 tea salt
  • 6 cups flour (any combo of whole wheat and white, or all one or the other.  I use all fresh ground white wheat flour. My post about grinding my own wheat here.)

Pour the water, sugar and yeast into the mixing bowl and let it sit for a minute or two.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix with the dough hook for 5 minutes on medium high.  You should have a smooth almost glossy dough that doesn’t stick to the bottom or the sides of the bowl.  Let the bowl down and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Raise the bowl and mix for 30 more seconds.  Lower the bowl and let it rest for 5 more minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into tw0 loaves.  Put them in greased bread pans and let them sit in a warm spot for 15-20 minutes until they have risen about an inch above the sides of the pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

NOTES: I have always used SAF yeast.  I can get it at my grocery store, but it’s also on Amazon ($9) from King Arthur Flour ($6) and from The WEBstaraunt store ($3).  I didn’t check into shipping prices for any of them, nor am I affiliated with any of them, but you have a couple of options to look at there.  Keep your yeast in a quart mason jar in the freezer.  It will last a lot longer without losing it’s magic rising powers.

Turn on your oven when you set the bread out to rise.  I usually let my bread pans sit on top of my stove to rise because my kitchen is usually pretty chilly.  If it’s under 70 degrees F it will take longer to rise.  That’s OK, just let it do it’s thing and put it in when it’s an inch taller than the sides of the pans.

Use an oven thermometer.  I have to set my oven to 350 degrees for it to warm up to 325.  The oven will beep and say it’s ready after 6 minutes.  At that point it’s usually only about 150 degrees in there.  It takes about 12 minutes to warm up to 325.  Know your oven’s inconsistencies.  And believe me.  It has them.

And one more kind of embarrassing confession… I can’t cut a straight slice of bread to save my life.  It’s impossible.  My loaf always ends up looking like a trapezoid before it’s half gone.  I’m a dork.

I am in no way a bread expert.  I only make one kind.  I’ve been using this recipe since I was about 6 or 7 years old helping my mom and I just stick with what works.  Maybe one day I’ll branch out, but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  But you should probably paint it pink and decorate it with washitape no matter what.

Twirling

April 4, 2012

I really wasn’t planning on making up a new pattern for a dress today.  But it happened anyway.

Twirling. I did not wake up this morning with plans to draft a new pattern... But the muslin turned out so great I think she is wearing this on Easter. Yay!

And today ended in twirling.  I think it’s still a win.  Now, about all those things I didn’t do today…

Felt Cactus Friends

April 2, 2012

So the other project I made from my new felt pattern book is this little cactus.  It is just a smidgen over 5″ tall.  And it is made of 43 teensy pieces, plus just a bit of fluff.

felt cactus

cactus and a pot

And it has a removable pot.  (Of course it does, right?  Wouldn’t be as cute without it. No really, it wouldn’t.)

pot details

I did change the pot just a bit, I added the scallop border at the top, which made it about 1/4″ taller.  But I think I like it that way better anyway.  If I make this again I’ll probably do some embroidery on my pot before I stitch it together.  But I didn’t think of that until it was too late this time around.

little cactus

So the real question is does this type of cactus have a purple and blue flower?  I don’t know.  Probably not.  In the book she used two yellows for her flower, but I don’t have any yellow.  All my bits of felt are leftovers from a Christmas present I made for my mom last year, which never made it to blogland.  And there was no yellow.  But since I got this book two weeks ago I have actually been looking into wholesale felt and bulk pricing and I really am quite obsessed…. it’s ridiculous.  And now Creamie wants a cactus too.  One little lipstick just doesn’t compare I suppose.

Playing with Felt

April 1, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I got the book Big Little Felt Universe by Jeanette Lim.  It is full of sweet little felt handsewn projects. I’ve never really sewn with felt before, I mean, a little bit, but not much.  But when I saw some of the patterns inside I couldn’t resist buying it (especially for under $9).  Creamie has had a lot of fun pointing out all the things she wants me to make for her.  And yesterday I made my first little project.

serious business

Felt Lipstick.  Doesn’t get cuter than that.  She has been carrying it around and trying it out since I finished the last stitch.

lipstick girl

Yep, it even has a cutie little removable lid.  It kills me.  The whole thing is only 3″ tall.  Which is a lot of very tiny little stitches.  Particularly considering it has 17 different pieces…

felt lipstick

But even with 17 teensy beensy pieces, it only took me a little over and hour to make.  My kind of project.

pucker up

And she’s such a girly girl it’s her kind of project too.  Win win all around.  Jeanette Lim, the author and designer of the book also has an etsy shop full of beautiful and amazing felt patterns.  I want every single thing in her shop.  Seriously.

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