Tuesday, December 28, 2010

with borders

I added more to this quilt and I like how it ended up. I had some concerns as it grew, because I really liked it earlier, but I am pleased.
Had some willing helpers this morning.
And, the gargoyles stand guard, even in the snow.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

another improvised scraps quilt

I had a lot of smaller length 2 inch strips that I sewed end to end to make a long snake. I cut it in half, sewed it together to make it two pieces wide, cut in half again and sewed, making it 4 pieces, again making it 8, and up to 16. I took the final piece and cut it into 9 inch pieces and sewed them together into three columns. Put 2 1/2 inch strips of red Kona cotton on them, divided them with 6 1/2 inch strips of fabric, and now am contemplating borders.

neighbor gifts

We awoke to a beautiful snowfall. Our block looks fresh and bright. Seth is off delivering our neighbor gifts. I found these adorable Mrs. Meyer's cleaning supply kits, in the Iowa Pine scent. I included one of my hand knit dish cloths.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

black bean polenta casserole

This is my go-to recipe for when vegetarians are eating with us, but we all like it so it has become a regular in our rotation of meals around here. I adapted it from a Bon Appetit recipe. It makes a lot and I have at times cut the recipe in half and made it in a 9 by 9 square pan. Tastes great for a few days reheated.

Black Bean Polenta Casserole

Rinse and drain:
1 large can hominy (29 oz)
1 large can black beans (29 oz)
2 cups frozen corn

Mix and stir into the vegetables:
1 jar salsa verdi (500grams)
2-3 teaspoons cumin

To sprinke on top: 8 ounces of chedder/jack shredded cheese (or mozzarella or chiuaua or monterey jack)

Reconstitute 1½ cups instant polenta in 4½ cups boiling water.

Spray 9 by 13 pyrex pan with Pam. (I usually make it in two smaller pans so we have another meal to share or for later.)
Spread in the polenta.
Sprinkle in about ¼ cup of cheese.
Scatter and lightly press in the vegetables mixed with the salsa.
Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Spray foil covering with Pam and cover.

You can bake it now or put in the fridge to bake later in the day.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Increase heat to 475 degrees, take off foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

OK, odd story, as always with my cooking.
I buy lots of my spices and herbs in bulk and store them in half pint and pint mason jars. They aren't labeled which usually isn't a problem because the color and smell tells me what they are. I was on the phone while cooking and pulled out what I thought was the cumin, measured out a tablespoon and put it in the bowl. I realized it was dill seed and was able to get most of it out, but some had soaked into the ingredients. The resulting casserole with a hint of dill seed was pretty good!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

baptismal gowns

My sister Janna's church, First English Lutheran of Whitewater, Wisconsin, had a display of 50 baptismal gowns at their fall fest today.
They placed planks of styrofoam and cardboard along the tops of the pews, covered them with fabric, and displayed the gowns with accompanying ephemera.

Many gowns had stories with them. There were gowns over a hundred years old and some very recent ones. One gown had a list of at least 30 babies who wore it. Another gown was made from a WWII silk parachute. There was a gown that had been used by many generations, but now was too fragile; for the most recent babies, it was placed inside the blanket in which the baby was held during the baptism.
Janna had her gown displayed, along with our brother's and her three sons'.
Seeing the display brought to mind a story about the gown my mother made for our children.
When I was getting married, my mother offered to make my wedding gown. I went to Fraerman Fabrics, right by the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago with my yardage all worked out. A very nice woman helped me choose a beautiful silk. We did our calculations and she gave me a price. My face must have shown my despair and she kindly said, "Let us look at the polyester. It has that silk rustle and no one will know the difference. You come back when it is time for a baptism gown and you can buy the silk for that."
This is exactly what I did.

the fine art of fiber

Our guild, Illinois Quilters Inc., along with the Northshore Weavers Guild and the North Suburban Needle Arts Guild have a combined show at the Chicago Botanic Gardens each fall. I showed my plaid improvised quilt.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

my annual halloween rant

We live in a destination neighborhood for the trick-or-treaters.
They start coming in droves, in carpools. I can never understand the people who bring sleeping babies in strollers--with no older siblings in sight to explain why they are out. Then, there are those don't want to climb the steps up our porch and want me to come down to give them candy. Go home; stop by the Jewel and buy your own bag of candy. Or, at least climb my steps. And, make the effort to say "Trick or Treat!"

I think I have turned into that crabby old lady who yells at you to stay off her lawn.

At least I have a cute kid. The cat irritates me, though.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

potato and corn chowder

Over at Pioneer Woman she has an enticing recipe for corn chowder that looked like it could help me on my quest to clean out the freezer. We are in a no-buy frozen stuff mode and have to use something out of it every day. This recipe used frozen home made chicken broth and a bag of corn Andy used to ice his knee last night. And a bit of bacon.
I made a lighter version than hers and added potatoes and substituted with what I had on hand--I'll save her version with cream for another day. Her version used fresh corn that would be wonderful. It wouldn't have helped Andy's knee though.
I made it all without leaving the house to visit the Jewel. A good day.


1/3 lb bacon, diced
3 medium onions, diced
In soup pot brown bacon slightly, stir in onions and saute until soft.
1 small can diced green chilies
1 lb cut corn
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
4 potatoes, cut into a tiny dice
2 quarts chicken broth
Cook until potatoes are done.

Stir in 1/3 cup corn meal mixed with 1/2 cup water
Simmer until slightly thickened.
Add 2 cups milk and heat through.
Top each bowl with freshly ground black pepper.

And the freezer is now down to a couple of boxes of my mom's applesauce, sausage, a box of phyllo dough and cheese. And the cardamom. Plug those into a recipe search engine and see what I can make!
(The can is holding up that side of the shelf because the support broke.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

chocolate chip cookies

My mother and sisters and I call these Peggy Vis' cookies, because we got the recipe from her, but you can call them Lynn Dykstra's cookies since you are getting it from me, and I did tweak the recipe a bit. (unless you know Peggy--then, keep her name on it!)
What makes these cookies good:
--the creaming step is extended to where air is incorporated and the dough takes on a foam consistency. Makes a wonderful sandy texture.
--the home made baking powder eliminates the metallic taste that sometimes comes with regular baking powder. This also makes the dough a bit unstable, so you need to bake the cookies right after making the dough, not freeze to bake later.
--they are a good cookie that freezes well. They must be kept in an air-tight container as the weather will get in them quickly.
--it is not a chewy cookie. Seth once complained I did not make soft chewy cookies like his friends' mothers. I said Dutch people like a hard cookie we can dunk in our tea. and he should consider himself lucky to have a mother and friends' mothers who bake and quit whining right now. There.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (two sticks) room temperature butter (no margarine)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Beat in mixer at medium-high speed for 5 minutes. (I use a Kitchenaid.)

In a small bowl mix
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add to mixer bowl.

Add 4 cups of flour.

Add 1 1/2 cups of walnuts and one 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips.

I use a small scoop and make all the balls of dough at once and put them on a plate. I usually get 110 cookies unless there is someone in the house eating cookie dough.

Bake on parchment paper on cookie sheet; they spread a bit but not too much. I can fit 20 on a half sheet baking pan.
If baking two sheets at once, switch the location of the pan half way through the baking time.

350 degrees for 14-17 minutes. We like them on the darker side. Well, I like them on the darker side and I'm making them, so that is what my family gets.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

home made gifts

Judy over at Patchworktimes has asked for posts about home made gifts.
My sisters and I have been exchanging such for a while:
--Pin cushions made from a blanket my parents had been given as a wedding present 55 years previously.
--Recipe book of home and current recipies, printed over scanned old photographs in watermark mode.
--Pieces of my mother's Christmas cactus started in new pots.
--Enlarged and framed photographs of our grandparents at work with their chickens, pigs, and tractor.
--They get my hand knit dish cloths so they will think of me every day as they wipe up.
--I framed my parents' and grandparents' wedding invitations.

We also are great at giving consumables:
--I give my dad a big jug of real maple syrup every Christmas. It runs out in late October so the new one is a treat each year!
--Our neighbor gifts are a jar of good mustard or other condiment that will be enjoyed.
--Brothers-in-law get a case of a Chicago craft beer or rootbeer.
--A friend one year told me she'd make a cake for a potluck I was going to--a gift of time and talent.
--We give my mother-in-law a year's worth of hair appointments.
--For teachers, I give a sheet of Christmas stamps.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

progress on the H quilts

I have the bodies of the H quilts put together and will think a bit about borders.
I am grateful for the high birth rate on this block that continues to provide me with quilt holders. Here are my adorable neighbor girls who did not whine a bit when I asked for their help.

Monday, October 04, 2010

wandering foot

This lovely quilt was given to me by my friend Evert Martin. He writes, "I'm so grateful to give this quilt to you! You asked about some history. I believe it to be as follows: I believe it was made by Ida Martin of Riverside and Coloma Michigan, my great-grandmother. She died at age 94 in the early 1950's in Coloma...Do enjoy it."
I will.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

back to school

Paul has left for his fourth year at the University. I miss him!

Monday, September 06, 2010

the letter H

Over at her wonderful blog Exuberant Color, Wanda Hansen (from whom I took a workshop many years ago) shows how to make an "H" block. I also saw a more primitive blocky version in an old quilt. Which to use? Well, since I am blessed with both a mother Henrietta, and a niece Hannah, I decided to make two quilts using my scraps of solid Kona cottons and the thirties repros that don't ever seem to take less space, no matter how many quilts I make from them.

Wanda's H makes a 7 1/2 inch finished block with pieces cut from 2 inch strips--8 inch and 3 1/2 inch rectangles, 2 inch squares.
Primitive H makes a 6 inch finished block with pieces cut from 2 1/2 inch strips--6 1/2 inch rectangles, 2 1/2 inch squares.

the bordello bargello

Finished the top yesterday. I love how this looks.

Friday, September 03, 2010

off to school-- far, far away

Andy moved Eve out to Wellesley this past weekend. She is living in the same dorm Andy's mother lived in 60 years ago.
I am glad to know she has a quilt on her bed.

Texting, wearing purple nail polish (her class color), a locket from Andy and me, one of my bracelets, and Silly Bandz.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

bordello bargello

So named because spell check doesn't like the word bargello and tries to change it to bordello.
I am making another version of Bonnie Hunter's bargello quilt. A lot of mindless sewing that I am fitting in here and there. My Bernina 1530 has major, as in mother board, problems so I am sewing on the Bernina 830 I got for $25 at a thrift shop. A beautiful stitch and I am getting used to there not being a needle down setting.
Making this pretty big using Bonnie's numbers of 6 panels of forty 2 1/2 strips; each strip cut 16" and each panel sliced into six 2 1/2 inch segments. I don't plan to put borders on it.
I really like how the panels look before cutting. Last time I made this pattern I left one panel whole. I think after this quilt I will make one with just panels.
The plaids continue to be what I want to work with.

AND, school has started.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

block party 2010

We have a great band this year, Green Sugar. http://www.thegreensugar.com/
In true Chicago fashion, a neighbor "knew a guy" and we were able to book them.

Hung some of my quilts up again.

In the street is ping pong, corn toss, basketball, street hockey, jumping jack, and more. Tonight, dancing in the streets.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

ill-gotten baseballs

When my father-in-law moved to Chicago from Connecticut, he came with about 30 large packing boxes that ended up in our living room. On her end of the move, my sister-in-law showed him every piece of paper in his apartment and got his ok to throw it away or mail it to Chicago. Most of it got mailed. He came in September and I asked that the boxes be dealt with by Thanksgiving. Every day he would tackle part of a box, again keeping nearly every piece of paper and repacking it, but in the midst of all the paper were baseballs. Each box had at least 5; some had a dozen. It turned out that Ed's apartment was across the street from the high school baseball field and he would go for a walk after their practices and pick up the baseballs and take them home. Ed was a true baseball lover, and I'm not sure what his motivation was, but those baseballs endeared him to me. I collected a bunch of them and put them in this egg basket I used to collect eggs as a child. Andy has given away a lot of the baseballs over the years since Ed's death, but I said these are mine.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"I think the quilt makers of the world need to rise up and start throwing elbows."


Check out the great interview with Boo Davis in Thursday's New York Times. Click through the wonderful slide show.
Good comments about the terrible prices and respect for our work.

Of course, this comes just a few days after we are dissed in the Times by a comment about the struggling American Folk Art Museum where part of their mission is hoping "to show people that folk art 'isn’t just quilts and weathervanes.' "


Thursday, August 12, 2010

water with staying power

You may recall my rant last year about our family vacation to Cape Cod. I have nothing against the cape, other than it being 1000 miles away and that the water is there only half the time, but that vacation took a lot out of me.
This year, we stayed closer to home, using a friend's house near Muskegon. Yes, just 200 miles to drive. 200 miles took us only to the first part of Ohio last year.
And, the water stuck around all day long.