Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My amazing friend Cheryl

Ordinary quilters and knitters get their quilt batting and yarn at the local quilting and knitting shops. Not my friend Cheryl. The woman is amazing. She knits, quilts, gardens and runs a farm. If she had more spare time, she'd probably find a cure for cancer. She raises her own sheep and spins her own yarn. Sometimes she sends it off to a company who turns it into yarn or quilt batting for her. Now she added these three really cute alpacas to the herd. I want one :) But I'm sure our neighborhood association probably has a no alpaca clause in the bi-laws. Cheryl gave us some of her yarn the other day. I'm going to turn it into something special...maybe an Aran Christmas stocking. For a city girl to actually know the sheep that created the Christmas stocking is pretty cool. I just hope she never invites me to dinner and we have lamb chops.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

I could eat this every night of the week. I use my Williams-Sonoma chopper to dice up the potaotes and onion really quick.

1 3/4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces.
2/3 cup fat free milk
1 T. unsalted butter (I use regular butter)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 lb. ground lean beef (5% fat or less)
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced (I use minced garlic from a jar)
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 T. tomato paste
1 10 oz. package of frozen peas and carrots
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 2 qt. baking dih with nonstick spray and set aside.

Put potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil.
Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes or so. Drain the potatoes. Return to the pot. Add milk, butter, 1/2 t. salt and 1/8 t. of pepper. Mash and set aside.

To make the filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over med. high heat. Add the beef, breaking it apart with a spoon and cook until browned (approx. 5 minutes). Transfer cooked meat to a bowl. Return the skillet to the heat. Add the onion, garlic, and oregano. Cook, stirring until the onion is lightly browned. Add the wine and tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add the frozen peas and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies thaw. Stir in the broth and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in the beef and the remaining 1/2 t. of salt and 1/8 t. of pepper.

Transfer the filling to the baking dish. Spread the potato topping over the filling and bake until the filling is bubbly around the edges (appox. 20 minutes). Remove the pie from the oven. Increase the oven temp. to broil and broil the pie 5 inches from the heat, until the topping is lightly browned (1 to 2 minutes...don't turn your back on it). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cute Little Irish-American

Winter Leek and Potato Soup

Making this tonight. My kitchen is smelling very good at the moment. Recipe is from "A Simply Delicious Irish Christmas" cookbook by Darina Allen.


2 oz. butter
1 cup of onion
1 cup potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch diced pieces
3 cups of sliced leeks (use only the white part of the leek)
5 cups of home-made chicken stock (Forget that, I used fat free low sodium chicken broth from a box)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of milk to taste

Garnished with finely chopped chives

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan; when it foams, add the potatoes, onions and leeks and turn them into the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with a paper towel to keep in the steam and then the saucepan lid, and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are soft but not coloured. Dicard the paper towel. Add the chicken stock; boil until the veggies are just cooked. Do not overcook or the veggies will lose their flavor. Liquidise until smooth in the food processor. Taste and adust the seasonings. Add the milk to taste. Garnish with chopped chives.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Really Ugly Quilts

"Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiams." Winston Churchill

"Creativity is allowing yourelf to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

I took a class at the Flying Geese Quilt Shop in Irvine, CA in 1986. The instructor asked me what color I wanted my quilt to be and I told her "peach". She asked me what other color and I told her "just peach". I think she whimpered. But it was the mids 80s in Southern CA and everything was peach and seafoam green. I wasn't daring enough to add the seafoam green :) The quilting lines are so dark and heavy, it was like I was trying to engrave the quilt :) Twenty plus years later, the marks still won't come out. I also didn't know how to turn a corner with the binding back then so I just whacked off the ends and whip stitched it together. Ooopss :)

More ugly quilts coming soon. I just haven't gotten around to taking pictures of them. :)

Older Counted Cross Stitches

"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle." Ellen Wheaton 1851 from her diary. I would have liked Ellen :)

"Families Are Forever". I can't decide if it's more sentimental or threatening. :)

Yeah yeah Semper Fi Oooh rah blah blah blah hangs in the man room.

Made this for Tracy a long time ago. You need eyes like an eagle to do this pattern. I'd never make it again. This hangs in the man room with all the other military crap. Oops did I say crap...yeah that's what I meant :)


Civil War Reproduction Fabric Quilts

Made this one at another quilt retreat in Idaho. I quilted it on my longarm using a Baptist Fan pattern.

Two springs in a row after moving back to the East Coast, I got the urge to make a hot pink and spring green quilt. I refer to these two quilts as the "two sisters". One is very straight laced and the other took a walk on the wild side :)

Pieced Quilts

Your basic ugly just to clear out some leftover scraps.

Sunflower Mystery Quilt

Your basic ugly :)

For a while I had my real job (dealing with scumbags) and my fun job working in a quilt shop. The owner asked me to make the mystery quilt for the store (like I didn't have enough mysteries in my life). I really didn't want to do it so I used my ugly fabric and didn't even put a border on it. Just wanted to get it done. I know this quilt is in the house somewhere but I couldn't tell you where :) Anyone want it

Proof I've made one too many trips into Lancaster County, PA.

Lone Star- Made this while taking a class at Cottonseed Glory in Annapolis, MD

Did this using up my Thimbleberrie fall scraps. The set in diamonds along the border were a bugger to do.

Quick and easy get er done quilt.

Machine pieced and hand quilted.

While I was working as a cop, I also did some work for RJR Fabrics as a pattern tester. This was one of Jenny Beyer's patterns I tested prior to it appearing in a quilt magazine.

Juvenile/Whimsical Quilts

Hidden Kittens Quilt -Made during the mid 80s when mauve and country blue replaced the seafoam green and peach craze :)

Watermelon Picnic Quilt

Appliqued Quilts

"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He work works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist." St. Francis of Assissi

Hand appliqued, machine pieced, hand quilted.

Made in the late 80s/early 90 and was featured in "Quilt" magazine.

The fabric rep came into the quilt shop with 3" swatches of Country Threads' latest line. The shop owner was going to throw them out after she placed her order but I asked her if I could use them. This is the quilt I made out of the swatches.

Another wall hanging hidden away in a trunk. :)

I sent this one into the Pidgeon Forge Quilt Show in Tennessee. Hand appliqued, hand quilted, embellished with tiny glass beads and pearls.

Hand appliqued and hand quilted. I don't know why I make wall hangings. I rarely hang them on the walls.

Thimbleberrie Quilts

This one has been sitting around unquilted for years. Finally got it done in October 2008

Hand appliqued and hand quilted.

This one was made with small preprinted panels in the blocks. I cut out all the blocks in advance and got most of them pieced at quilt retreat at Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I have enough of the preprinted panels to make the same quilt.....someday. The view from the main lodge.

Vintage Style or Antique Quilts

I love the old vintage style quilts. My favorite magazine is Vintage Quilts, even if it's publication dates are unpredictable.

"Lord, let me grow old like beautiful lace, cherished and treasured and cared for with grace." Unknown author, but I just love this quote.

"I desire no future that will break the ties of the past." George Eliot

Pattern is from a back issue of "Vintage Quilts" magazine. Top finished in 2006 and it still isn't quilted yet. Will hand quilt it and hope to have it done before I'm eligible for a senior discount. :)

Coming soon or eventually: 1940s mint green and cream colored Whirly Gig Quilt top. It looks like the Nazi symbol so when World War II broke out, ladies never finished them. I bought it on Ebay really cheap. It is in pristine condition and someday I'll finish it for the unknown quilter. It's king size and I hope to hand quilt it someday.

I bought this quilt top unfinished on Ebay for a whopping $40. Quilted it up on my long arm. It has feed sacks in it and you can read the writing in spots.

Machine appliqued and quilted on the long arm machine. Was going to donate this one to the church fund raiser but didn't think the pattern name was appropriate :)

Quilt Guild Activities, Friendship Groups and On Line Swaps

"Into my quilts, I stitch the memory of our friendship." Roxy L. Burgard

I did some work for RJR Fabrics testing patterns and making models for patterns that would appear in quilt magazines. These two blocks were part of a group project to make a pattern by Robert Callaham called "Robert's Flowers."

This quilt was part of the Annapolis Quilt Guild "Crayon Challenge." We had to reach into a bag, pull out a crayon and whatever color the crayon was....that was our quilt color. The first color I grabbed was white. The woman took pity on me and let me try again. The second color I pulled out was battleship I haven't been around that long she let me try a third time and I picked out bright yellow. Walked away happy :) Mctavish quilting in the background on the long arm.

A bunch of friends wrote down their favorite recipes and swapped the blocks.

When I was living in So. Cal., the quilt guild in San Juan Capistrano had a challenge. We were given ugly brown fabric and had to use it in our quilt. I used mine mostly for the birds.

The blocks in this quilt were from an Internet Swap. The ladies wrote words of advice they heard from their mothers growing up. Several reference wearing clean underwear. One says "When you grow up, do you want to be an aroma or an odor?"

This quilt has 2000 squares in it. I traded 2 1/2 squares with quilters from all over the world during the end of 1999 to celebrate Y2K. I spent New Year's Eve Y2K working patrol and listening to gun fire.

9 patch blocks swapped by Southern Ca. friendship group