Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Looks like Christmas

In Santa Fe, a common question asked by servers in restaurants is, "Red or Green or Christmas?" They are asking about chile sauce, but when I tried this recipe, Buttery Brussels Sprouts with Sage, Dried Cranberries and Pecans, I was conditioned to see the red plumped up cranberries and bright green brussels sprouts as Christmas.

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and PecansYou can click the link above for the recipe, but the name pretty much says it all. I decided to try it because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  The cranberries and brussels sprouts are an unexpected, interesting combination.

I think it would be a nice side dish for the upcoming holidays.  The author suggests adding cooked quinoa and shredded chicken to turn it into a light meal.  It could be a good candidate for what to do with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Time to quilt ...

BastedThe problem with modest goals is that it's too easy to put them off ... and so it is with my October goal for a lovely finish. Here's here I am ... I've layered it, basted it and this weekend I'll begin to quilt it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Autumn Salads– Yum!

It's a sure sign that Autumn is here when I make up the bed with flannel sheets, pull out a flannel quilt and turn on the oven and start roasting things.  After seeing this recipe, I went looking for fresh figs in Santa Fe ... and settled for dried, which were apparently only available because, "they're seasonal."  Still, it made for a tasty lunch yesterday. The figs are combined with kale (massaged with lemon juice and olive oil), roasted butternut squash, shallot, pumpkin seeds and a balsamic reduction.

Autumn Salad

I thought I was all done with salad meals at the end of summer (and the end of fresh heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market), but this one was so good, it has me shifting gears and thinking about roasted vegetables and autumn salads.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Original plan or new idea?

I had a new idea for an old project and decided to put it on the wall to help me decide. These bear claw blocks were received in a birthday block swap a few years ago. Design Wall on October 21, 2013

The original plan was to make appliqué four of the tulip blocks. Lately, under the influence of Erin Russek's Jingle Bell blocks and started thinking about enlarging a block (or four of the blocks) from that quilt to use as alternate blocks.

Original Plan for Alternate Blocks   New Idea

You can see all of the Jingle Bell blocks on Erin's blog, One Piece at a Time HERE.  If I go this route, I'll have to decide if I'll use one pattern for all four appliqué blocks or one each of the four appliqué blocks with cardinals. 

Usually when a new design opportunity presents itself for something in progress–or in this case, parked until I am ready to appliqué all those leaves–I am attracted to the new shiny idea for a while, but usually stick with the original plan.  How about you? 

I'm joining the Design Wall Monday list on the Patchwork Times blog.  Check it out to see what other quilters are up to. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tools & Gadgets: Design Wall

On the Block Lotto, the topic for our October linky party is Tools and Gadgets.

I had thought to blog about all of the specialty rulers/templates I've collected and never used ... and USE one of them to make a small project.

Then, a couple days ago, I started making a set of scrappy red and white sampler blocks from this year's set of Block Lotto blocks.  I started wondering how long it had been since I put a new blade in my rotary cutter.  I couldn't remember, but after I put a new blade in, it was clear it had been far too long.  It was such a treat.  Like taking the time to clean and oil my old Singer 301, remembering to change the needle in the machine, taking my trusty Dovo scissors to be sharpened, and those other maintenance tasks, they make using our tools of the trade a joy.  So I thought I'd blog about that.

Simple Sampler IdeaBut then, as I was making, arranging and rearranging my sampler blocks, I found myself using (and appreciating) one of my most essential tools for quilting: my design wall.

I started the idea with an idea for making a simple sampler quilt from this year's 6-by-9-inch lotto blocks, with lots of white space for free motion quilting.  To get an idea of proportions (and share my idea with the block lotto community without sharing the blocks we'd be making), I created this layout.

But, somehow, seeing the blocks, life size and in-person on my design wall, the blocks seem to be placed too far apart.

Design walls, whether permanently attached to the wall or, like this one, a flannel-backed tablecloth temporarily tacked to the wall, are essential for my process.

Design Wall as a Tool

(The November and December blocks aren't shown, but will be part of the quilt).

I use a design wall to create a quilt design organically, arrange (and re-arrange) a scrappy set of blocks until the colors and values feel just right, or, like now, tweak the proportions and play with the negative space to suit my design esthetic. If I'm not sure, leaving something on the wall over night (or for a few days while I work on something else) is always a good idea. I often walk into the studio first thing in the morning, look at the project on the wall and know what it needs ... or that it's good and needs no more.

I'm joining the linky parties on the Block Lotto and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October's Theme: Leaves

Whether it's the season or a bit of synchronicity, October is here and, for me, it's all about LEAVES.

A Journal Quilt, RepurposedAlmost four years ago, I sent this little journal quilt to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Iniative. It was chosen to be part of their traveling exhibition, Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope, and is now part of their October auction.  Here's the link to my quilt's page on the AAQI site and you can bid on it here.

The design was inspired by a real tree with a real last leaf that hung on through winter behind the little house where I lived in Lansing, Michigan.  The completed quilt moved with me to Dallas, Texas, where I was living when I sent it to AAQI (back in Michigan).

You can see all the quilts in the October auction here. These are half of the little quilts from the traveling exhibit; the rest (along with some celebrity quilts) will be part of the last AAQI auction next month.

MIni Maple Leaf QuiltBecause of some other projects going on this month, I set another modest goal for October's Lovely Finish: to finally quilt and finish and hang ("done done") this small quilt.

The maple leaf blocks measure 3 inches and were received as part of an exchange years ago.

Of course, the fact that I haven't managed to finish it for YEARS may indicate that, for some reason, it really isn't such modest of a goal for me ... I think I have been afraid of not being able to do it justice until now.

The last of October's Leaves are these Oak Leaf blocks, made for this month's Block Lotto.  This is the virtual quilt that I put together from photos of early blocks.


If you like the Oak Leaf block, you can find my  free block pattern the Block Patterns page.  Click over the Block Lotto, if you like it enough to join in this month's lotto.

Scrap-Buster Version
When I was working on the block pattern for the Oak Leaf, I saw that it could be constructed from half-square triangle units ... and thought it might be a good choice for scrap-busting.

The directions for making this version of the leaf is included in the Oak Leaf Block pattern as a bonus.

I can definitely see a rainbow of scrappy oak leaves in my future. rainbow Scrap Challenge 2014?
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