Saturday, March 28, 2015

Woop...Woop - It's EPP BOM Class Day!!!

Check out the rhododendrons in bloom in my neighborhood!!! Who doesn't love the color RED.

I LOVE the last Saturday of each month because I get to unveil the new block of the month, see all of my awesome students, and ooh and awe over the wonderful blocks from the previous months. 

This month is our third month of classes. I love seeing all of the fabrics chosen for the blocks. I fall in love with each and every one of them. It's funny because I love my students fabric selections better than my own! Now that's doing one better than the teacher I think.
I am so mad at myself because I was having such a great time that I almost didn't get any pictures. There were some that I completely missed...dang it! But hopefully, I will catch up and do better next month.

Without further ado, see for yourself how beautiful they are...

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Treasure, Trash, or something in between?

Have you ever had a boatload of stuff you wanted to talk about but could not find the right words to get even one of the things out of your head and onto paper? No? Well I do and in fact, I battle it every time I sit down to write.

Lately, I just force myself to start writing….writing anything and everything that pops into my head. I allow it to fly out of me in words, phrases, and always, always in meaningless mumblings that make no sense whatsoever.

A funny thing happens after I've been at it for a while. One particular thought will become more meaningful than the others and before long; I have abandoned all of the other mumblings for just this one thing. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m not really even trying to make sense. LOL I just am writing for the sheer pleasure of writing. I tend to bounce around here and there and everywhere. I should mention that I really don’t enjoy writing…at least that’s what I always say to myself before I actually start to write.  After a while though, I seem to get into my groove, and that’s when it starts to become a little fun.

I bet you are wondering where in the world I am going with this blabbering….  Well, my husband, Tracy, and I have been on a mission to let go of a lot of ‘stuff’ that has collected around us for the past 30 plus years. Getting rid of Stuff is like trying to sit down and start to write. It just ain’t gonna happen unless you force yourself into it wholeheartedly! But you know what? Once you start, it actually is a refreshing process and a process that I recommend to everyone.

We have gone through decluttering in the past but not to the extent that we are this time. This time we are leaving no stone drawer unturned. All closets have been emptied, sorted through, and the items chosen to be kept returned to order. Even the garage (a.k.a., the ‘keeper of the lost and forgotten items’) has had a thorough going through, cleaning out, and gathering items up for the MONSTER of upcoming garage sales. As of today, there is a massive collection of way cool things that we want others to seek, search out, rummage though, and take back to their homes! Awe…we feel lighter and freer already and it’s not even happened yet.

We have also uncovered some treasures such as those in the picture. These treasures were gifted to us by Tracy’s mom. The items belonged to Tracy’s grandparents. It is such an eclectic collection but a collection when gathered together was very pleasing to my eye. I was super excited to uncover a sterling silver thimble. It’s needs a good cleaning to reveal the carving on it. I’ll post an updated picture later. And get a kick out of that tiny long barrel gun. It opens up and the hammer cocks back. I love it!!! Nothing shows the progression of time than an old 1958 calendar.

The last room however….is my sewing room and it is ---well --- it is the room that I’ve been deliberately ignoring because everything in it is Pirate's treasure…at least in my mind’s eye. The dreaded ‘WHAT IF’ scenario keeps bouncing around in my mind. What if….I decided to sew more bears…then I would need all that yummy mohair fabric that I’ve been giving precious shelf space to for the last umpteen years.  What if….I decided to take up some serious knitting again….then all those yummy yarns would be needed.  And then the biggest question – how much fabric is too much fabric or is that even a legitimate question. I’m of the opinion that there is never ever enough fabric in your stash. If there was, then why is it that I never have the one fabric that I need for my project!!!  The madness really never ends. However, I have spoken to myself and have agreed (at least in my mind) that I will take a stab at reducing some of my precious stash. 

I know I can do it. I really can.

I will start tomorrow!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Camera, Action, Shoot!

Famous for a day! LOL. Sorry for the blurry picture. The board is digital and backlit and my phone couldn't seem to focus correctly. I sure had a fabulous day sharing my love of hexagons with some 60 ladies that were kind enough to interrupt their enjoyment of looking at all of the wonderful quilts on display at the Milwaukie Quilt Show. The show continues through tomorrow and really shouldn't be missed. I hope you will check it out for yourself.

And I had to pinch myself because I came face to face with Bill Volckening. I've followed his blog for years but this was the first time we've met in person. He was as nice in person as he is in print! Bill has an amazing display of some of his prized collections so there is another reason to not miss this year's show.

This beautiful hexie top below belongs to Wendy Sternberg, one of my BOM students, who graciously allowed me to display it during the demonstration. The 3/8 inch hexies are like droplets of rain...each more wonderful than the next. If I remember correctly, she has been working on it for two years. It is about 45 inches wide so far. Isn't it beautiful.
Great news!!! We will soon be welcoming new hexie aficionados because several ladies attending the demo decided to join the Hexie Block of The Month class and the Hexie 101 class that I teach at Pioneer Quilts. Woohoo. This is a cause for celebration! 

And speaking of block of the month, I'll be cutting fabric tomorrow for the May block. Next Saturday, March 28, everyone will get the March block and get to see April's block so they can start picking out fabrics. I need to stay a month ahead and am hoping to get a few months ahead.
And lastly, here I am with my Dilly dog. I love this picture of him. If that isn't a big smile, I don't know what is!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Recipe Monday (on Wednesday) - Corned Beef

I say a YaYa!

Definition: these past few weeks have been crazy hectic with getting pricing for a much needed interior face-lift on our home. If someone would have told me that we would live in the same home for 20 years 20 years ago, I would have laughed out loud at them. Wow...does time fly by quickly.

We feel confident in our contractor decision but there is still a ton of work to be done before anything starts. The good side is our garage sale is going to be a doozy in a very good way to those who come by and don't mind doing some hunting for items. We have quiet a bit for folks to sort through so the diligent hunters will be rewarded for their diligence! LOL

Okay, I made the most incredible, tender, mouth watering braised corn beef last Friday. The recipe I used originated off of Allrecipes. I made some changes based on what others had commented on and it really is an incredibly wonderful way to make corned beef.

Before we go over the recipe, I want to tell you that yesterday I was shopping at New Seasons (I adore this place), and they had samples of corned beef made in a crock pot. The first thing I noticed is that it looked different, but I went ahead and sampled it anyway. It was definitely on the dry side, which surprised me given it was made in a crock pot, and not nearly as tender and yummy tasting as the one I made. Based on the sample I tasted, I would never make corned beef any other way than the way described below.

  • 1 (5 pound) flat corned beef brisket (don't buy the TIP, more fatty version)
  • 1 tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 large white onion sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of water
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. If your brisket came with a seasoning packet, discard it. You don't want to use it.
  3. Brush browning sauce on brisket.
  4. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat and sear brisket for 5 minutes on the top and 5 minutes on the bottom side. (NOTE: this is the only part of the process that I disliked because the oil wants to go everywhere when you put in the brisket so I recommend putting the heat on medium instead of the medium-high heat I used for a faster cleanup of the stove top or cover the skillet with foil to reduce the mess and keep it on a higher heat.
  5. Place 2 very long pieces of Reynolds Wrap inside of your roasting pan in two directions (think of a four way stop or cross shape).
  6. Place brisket on a rack on top of the heavy duty aluminum foil that you just placed in your roasting pan. Place your sliced onions and garlic on top of brisket. 
  7. Fold up Reynolds Wrap around brisket and once you have all of the areas surrounding brisket contained by the foil, pour in your water making sure it stays inside of the foil with the brisket and doesn't leak out. Close the top of the foil and just for good measure put another piece of foil on top of roasting pan enclosing everything and making sure it is secured well.
  8. Roast in oven for 6 hours.
  • Do not under any circumstances peek or unwrap brisket to check on it! If you do, you will stop the process and the meat will be dry. This method cooks the brisket by steaming it and you loose the steam if you peek. Just trust the 'force' and it will be fine!
  • Make sure to wrap the brisket very well in foil. Again, you need that steam inside to stay inside.
  • Allow the brisket to cool a bit before slicing and slice in the direction that the brisket wants to be sliced. You will know this because it will not want to slice in any other direction that in the same direction as the grain.
  • Try your best to save some for leftovers the next day. We managed to have leftovers and had corned beef hash and it was fantastic.
I served it with steam cabbage and Colcannon made with Kale.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recipe Monday - Round Steak Supreme

I'm late posting today because two customer logos decided to take longer to finish than I had anticipated.

Round steak is budget friendly and has good flavor but is generally a tougher cut of meat. You can make this meal delicious and fork tender by using your crock pot or the oven. I used the oven because my slice of steak was just a little over 1 pound and my crock pot was a little too big. Generally, you want to use a crock pot that proportionally fits the size of meal you are making.

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of round steak sliced thinly
  • 1 (10.75) oz of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (14.50) oz of beef broth (can or homemade)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 oz sliced fresh white or bella mushrooms
  • 1 envelope of Lipton Onion Mushroom dry mix
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil (or a little more depending on how much steak you have)
  1. Slice round steak into thin strips and dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
  2. Place 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in pan and sear steak in hot pan and remove steak from pan.
  3. Combine cream of mushroom soup, beef broth, water, mushrooms, and onion/mushroom dry mix into pan and heat to boiling.
  4. Return steak to pan and stir, cover with lid and place in 375 degree oven for two hours (or crock pot on low for 6 to 8 hours).
I served it with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and deviled eggs. Guaranteed to please the most picky eaters.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

For the Love of my Students!

Both of my Saturday's classes were fantastic and I just have to brag on my students!

The first one was the yearlong Mystery Block of the Month EPP class.  I am so proud of each student and their January accomplishments. The three shapes we are working on this year are hexagon, diamond,and triangle. January's block introduced the diamond and hexagon. Each snowflake is perfection at its best and I can hardly wait to see everyone's February's blocks at the end of this month.

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The next class on Saturday was the Star Hexie class. And let me tell you, the students were stars and came ready to work. We did all of the fabric cutting of the hexagon and triangle shapes using the AccuQuilt go and GoBig cutters and then machine sewed them together.

The students all completed one diamond section and then they have a week of homework before coming back to class on March 14 to finish up.

I love teaching!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Recipe Monday - Tomato, Spinach, Basil Soup

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery (I use close to 1 cup because I like celery)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh or to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh or to taste)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes **
**Alternative Version: I make my own crushed tomatoes in the summer from 5 very large ripe tomatoes. Remove peel, squeeze out excess juice and seeds, chop, and then gently cook on the stove until soft for 10 to 15 minutes. If there are still larger chunks, I use a handheld immersion blender to puree until I get the desired consistency. I then add 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce to the mix and continue the recipe as follows.
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (Alternative Version: DON’T ADD THIS if you are making the alternative version above)
  • 2 cups fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth (Alternative version: I use just a little over 1 cup because my tomatoes generally make more than 28 oz of crushed tomatoes. I add by sight adjusting for the thickness I desire for my soup.)
  • 3 – ounces fresh spinach, chopped (I use at least double the amount and after 5 minutes of cooking, use my immersion blender for just a moment or two to puree any excess chunks.
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (If you made fresh pesto from your summer bounty of basil, you can add 1-1/2 tablespoons of it in the place of the fresh basil. It's killer good.)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (don’t skip this – you need it)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in soup pot. 
  2. Gently sautĂ© garlic, onion, and celery until softened – approx. 4 to 5 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle in thyme and oregano, and stir. 
  4. Add crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth, followed by chopped spinach and basil and stir until wilted. Use immersion blender if desired. 
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  6. Stir in balsamic vinegar and season with freshly-ground black pepper.
Note: To put this soup over the top, add a few splashes of half and half after adding balsamic vinegar. Allow to warm gently. Serve warm.

All you need is some crusty whole-grain bread for dunking or if you are really motivated for the YUM factor, use your whole grain bread and make it into a grilled cheese sandwich. I had leftover grilled chicken and sliced it thinly and we enjoyed the soup with a grilled chicken/cheese sandwich.

You can substitute collard or kale in the place of the spinach. I used fresh collard greens because that's what was fresh at the grocery. It was equally as good if not better.

Bon Appetit!