Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 7

Whew!  I did it!  I managed to finish this clue in one day.  Granted, I had some other things to get done today as well.  I had a binding to attach to another quilt.  I have a family who insisted on being fed (seems they still get hungry three times a day LOL).  I had to go to the quilt shop before they closed to buy thread to match the color of the binding I just attached.  I had laundry to deal with.  And so on and so on.  But this clue is now finished!

First, we had to sew together the 64 purple/BOW flying geese units from Clue #2 with the 64 BOW rectangles, also cut in Clue #2.  (BOW = Black On White.)  Those went together quickly, like Bonnie promised.  :)

Next, Bonnie gave directions on making Pieced Triangle #1 using various units created in previous clues.  We had to make 4 of these.  OK, that's not too bad.  They came together pretty quickly, too.

Finally, Bonnie gave directions on making Pieced Triangle #2.  We had to make 12 of these.  There was one small issue... there weren't enough green triangles.  It seems that in Clue #6, Bonnie had said to cut 16 squares measureing 5½" x 5½", which were then cut on both diagonals into 4 triangles.  Well, that wasn't quite enough, we needed to start with 19 squares in order to have enough triangles.  That was easily fixed though, I just cut some more triangles.  :)

Again, these weren't hard to make, it just took some time.  And it doesn't help that I sewed some of the pieces together incorrectly and had to Frog Stitch (rip it, rip it, rip it) those seams so I could correct the issue.  But finally, these pieces were done!  And as you can see, they aren't what you'd call small LOL.

So now, I'm all caught up... at least until tomorrow morning LOL.  Bonnie will post Clue #8, the final clue (I think) on New Year's Day.  I plan to work on that and get as much done as possible on New Year's Day, as I have client work that needs to be done.  I figure, New Year's Day is still a holiday, so I can play with my own projects.  But then, it's back to working on my client projects.  So here's hoping that I can finish the last clue tomorrow!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 6

Even though Bonnie isn't going to have her Mystery Monday Link-Up tomorrow, I thought it would be good to document my progress on Clue #6 anyway.  At least my dozens of followers (if that many LOL) can see what I've been up to.

At the top of the post are the 128 Double Brick units that Bonnie had us make.  She was right, they were VERY simple and easy to make.  And to be honest... I have 132 units up there.  I just made 12 strip sets and started cutting units, only calculating at the end how many I had.  Better too many than not enough, right?  And any units that I don't use here can be used in a scrap quilt at some point in the future.

The Extra Credit for this clue was to cut 16 squares measuring 5½", and then cut those into quarter-square triangles.  At least I cut the exact amount of these, LOL!

Tomorrow, Bonnie will be posting Clue #7 for what she is calling a RAPID FIRE FINISH.  I'm guessing this means that we're finished making units, and we'll begin assembly of the quilt top...?  I hope so, the suspense is almost killing me!  :)

In the mean time, I've got a quilt on the frame to be quilted.  I'm not quite sure how I'll quilt it yet, but I've got a few ideas floating around.  Time to doodle on the white board and see what I like best.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 5

Yippee!  Clue 5 has been finished!  Between my having a cold last week, having a client project to work on, and the Christmas holiday, this clue was slow to get finished.  But finished it is!  You can see the final product for this clue above.  I'm getting more and more curious as to how all these pieces will come together!  How about you?

Since I mentioned the client project, I'll show it to you.  :)  My sister-in-law asked me to make a quilt to be a given as a gift.  Since I was going to see her on Christmas Day, I decided I'd try to get it done so I could deliver it when we gathered together for Christmas Day celebrations.  I managed to pull it off, putting the last stitches into the binding the morning before the celebration.  Talk about squeaking under a deadline LOL.

The person to receive this quilt is a big fan of the University of Oregon Ducks.  Can you tell?  LOL!  I used Ducks-themed fabric in the body of the quilt and a different themed fabric for the outermost border.  I found other fabrics in similar greens and yellows, in a variety of interesting prints and patterns, to round out the rest of the materials for the quilt.  The pattern I used to make this quilt is called Wicked Easy Quilts, and it surely lives up to its name.  It was a free pattern that you can find here:

So, that's it for now.  I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish all of you the very best in the New Year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 4

Look at that!  I managed to finish this clue in a day.  This is definitely a new record for one of Bonnie's mystery quilt clues LOL.  Today, I'm sharing with you my progress with Bonnie's current mystery quilt, Easy Street.

On Friday, when the clue was published, I printed it out with glee.  I was going to a local fabric shop to buy fabric for an upcoming project and then I was going to work on this clue.  I was ready for a full day of sewing happily away.

Then I heard the news coming out of Connecticut.

I was so heartbroken, so devastated, that I couldn't sew.  I know, some people find that sewing is their excape, their release, when disaster strikes.  I guess I'm not one of them, because I couldn't bring myself to even think about sewing.  I guess I just needed time to process the day's events, time to grieve for these families.  It was Saturday before I could even look at my sewing machine.

Side Note:
Mark Lipinski (quilter extraordinaire, fabric designer, quilt designer, all around good guy) has posted on Facebook that Becky at Quliter's Corner quilt shop in New Milford, CT is collecting pillowcases for the children at Sandy Hook School. She is trying to collect around 600. Please pass this message to any sewing friends. Pillowcases can be mailed to her at Quilters Corner, 312 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776.

Here are a few tutorials on making pillow cases, in case you're interested.  I think I'll be making a few today, if I can find big enough pieces in my stash.  (I tend to only have bits and pieces... yet I have a ton of them LOL.)

Missouri Star Quilt Company's Easy Tube Pillow Case Tutorial:

My personal favorite, Pirate's Practically Perfect Pillowcase:

OK, let's get back on track, shall we?

Easy Street!  I have to admit, this particular clue was very easy.  We had to make only 64 flying geese in purple and teal.  Yes, "only" 64 LOL.  With the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers, it honestly doesn't take very long at all.

Here are my pieces, all cut out and ready to be sewn together:

And here are my 64 flying geese units, all done:

Once these units were done, we were instructed to sew each of the teal/purple flying geese units with one of our black-and-white/purple flying geese units that we made in Clue #2.  These came together super quick as well.  These units are pictured at the top of this blog post.

Did you catch the extra bit that Bonnie included at the end of Clue #4?  She told us to bring out our greens and to cut 145 3½" squares for future use.  Sweet!  I've been wondering when we would get into the greens.

Let me introduce you to the greens that I'll be using:

And here are my 145 squares, all cut out and ready to go:

Wow, I can't believe we're already done with Clue #4.  This means we're (probably) half way done!  That is, if this mystery is anything like Bonnie's previous mysteries.  Those had around 7 or 8 clues, if I remember correctly.  This is so exciting!  Any thoughts yet on how these units will come together?  I've got some ideas, it will be fun to see if my guesses are anywhere close to correct.  :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 3

(First of all, I apologize for the poor quality photos, it's been either very cloudy/rainy or very late when I get my photos taken, so the lighting isn't the best.)

And the journey continues with Clue 3 of Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, Easy Street.  This clue was pretty easy, all things considered.  We were only making 64 units this time.  Yes, for Bonnie this is a small number of units LOL.

As you can see, the units aren't all that tough.  We used more of our purples and our black-on-white prints, and we added the teal for the first time.  I've already "introduced" you to the purples and the BOW fabrics I'm using, but this is our first peek at my teal fabrics.  Here you go:

We had to cut 64 purple squares:

We also had to cut 64 teal triangles and 128 BOW triangles:
Once the pieces were cut, we had to sew them together following Bonnie's excellent directions.  These units came together really quickly.  I cut the pieces yesterday, and I sewed them together tonight in about 2 hours.  After a full day of sewing on client projects.  But I knew if I didn't do this tonight, I'd fall way behind and never catch up.  :)
I'm really LOVING the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers, which surprised me.  For the longest time, I've scourned "specialty rulers", thinking them just a gimmick designed to make my wallet lighter.  I'm sure there are rulers and other tools out there that definitely fit this description, but NOT these rulers.  My units came out so perfect, so easily, I'm sold  I'm going to use these rulers as often as I can LOL.
Oh, and there was another little "by the way" step at the end of Clue 3.  It said to cut two 3.5" squares out of green, then to cut each square once along a diagonal to get 4 triangles.  I did this step, did you?  :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 2

It's time to share how I've fared on Bonnie's second clue to her newest mystery, Easy Street.  Clue #2 uses more of the Black-on-White (a.k.a. BOW) fabrics as well as the purples.  Yum!  I'm really loving this color combination, even more than the typical BOW and red combination you see so much of.

I'm so excited, I actually finished this clue before the end of the weekend!  This is the first time I've managed this feat with one of Bonnie's mystery quilts, it usually takes me much longer to get a clue finished.  In fact, I'm usually struggling to get done in time to join the Link-Up before the Thursday night deadline.  Yippee!  Can you tell I'm thrilled?  LOL.

While digging around in my stash, I found more BOW fabrics.  I pulled these out and used them for this clue.  I also found a few bits of purple in my stash, but mostly I had to buy more purples to use for this project.

These are the fabrics I am using for this clue:



And here we have all the pieces cut out and ready to be assembled.  It doesn't look like all that much, but it will, in fact, result in the 128 flying geese units pictured above.

I even saw the little bit at the end of this clue that said to cut out 64 rectangles 2" x 3.5" out of our BOW fabrics for a future clue.  Did you catch that?  Here are my rectangles all cut out and ready to go.  There's more variety than you see here, the fabrics just got stacked up and the rest of the prints are hiding.  Yes, I'm a neatnick, can't you tell?  LOL!

Now I can't wait to see how we use the green and the teal fabrics!  Bring it on, Bonnie!  :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making Easy Street: Clue 1

I have decided to follow along with Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, called Easy Street.  I finally finished up the first clue tonight!  Yippee!  (In case you're wondering, there are nearly 200 4-patch blocks in there.  Whew!)

For those of you who may not know Bonnie Hunter, she is known for her scrappy quilts.  She's also known for designing quilts with LOTS of pieces.  When she said that this one would be toned down, I decided to trust her and go for it.  I hope I don't come to regret this decision LOL.

Also, the colors she chose for this mystery quilt are PERFECT for my daughter's bedroom, which we recently redecorated.  Hopefully, this quilt will become my daughter's birthday gift in a few months.  :)

These are the fabrics I am using for this clue:


Black-on-White Prints:

So, this is it for now.  Personally, I'm pleased as punch to be caught up at the moment.  Woo hoo!  Now I'll be waiting patiently (or maybe not-so-patiently LOL) for Clue #2 to be published.  What about you?  Will you join in the fun?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Franz 7 Grains Gluten Free Bread

If you've had to go Gluten Free, chances are you've sampled many different sub-par gluten free breads.  Let's face it: most of them are just not all that great.  Yes, if you toast them they taste fine, but they're too dry to make a sandwich that won't turn your mouth as dry as a desert.
But that has changed.  My friend clued me in to this new bread from Franz.  It's fresh, not frozen.  It's soft, not hard.  It doesn't crumble apart if you look at it wrong.  What we have here, is BREAD.

Notice this little bit on the side of the package.  "Gluten Free Facility".  I like this very much.  It means a lot to know that Franz understands cross contamination and has taken the time to dedicate a facility to making their gluten free bread.
Here are two slices of bread out of the package.  I wish you could reach through your screen to touch these pieces of bread.  They're moist.  They're springy.  They act like "real bread".  They smell like "real bread".  They even taste like "real bread".  Oh my!  So now, let's put this bread to the test.  I feel like having a grilled cheese sandwich!
Add the butter.  Yum!
Add the cheese between the bread, and throw it on a hot griddle.  Look at how nicely it cooked.  Look at that golden brown goodness.  Mmmm!
And here is the final sandwich.  I guarantee that it tastes as good as it looks.  This IS real bread.  My friend who turned me on to this bread says it makes great french toast as well.  I wonder if it makes a good Apple Pan Betty?  I'll have to try that next.  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake

When you have to go Gluten Free, there is always a certain special treat (or two or three LOL) that you wish you could have, but it's either not possible, or a lot of work, or too expensive.  One of my favorite treats was a cinnamon roll, warm from the oven and drizzled in icing.  Yum!  Unfortunately, due to the nature of gluten free doughs, it's really difficult to make a decent cinnamon roll.  And though we have a FANTASTIC Gluten Free bakery near by, the rolls are a bit expensive and it is a bit of a drive for a single cinnamon roll.  This is probably a good thing for my waistline LOL.

But then I stumbled across this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cake:

And the drool began flowing.  The memories of eating cinnamon rolls surfaced.  My eyes glazed over.  And then it hit me...  Even though this isn't a Gluten Free recipe, could I make it work if I just used Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour instead of the wheat flour?  It was time to find out!

First, I gathered all my ingredients.  Well, not ALL my ingredients, I forgot to include in the picture the HUGE container of cinnamon from Costco and the brown sugar, both used in the cinnamon "filling".  Oops!

Before making the cake batter, I made the cinnamon "filling" that will be swirled into the top of the cake.

I combined all the dry ingredients for the cake in the bowl of my stand mixer and stirred to combine.  Note that I tried this recipe without using Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, which most GF recipes use to mimic the missing gluten.  I find that my body doesn't tolerate these very well so I left them out.  Fingers crossed that it works!

Next I added the wet ingredients and used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer to mix the batter well, stopping once to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure everything was well combined.  At first it seemed very wet, but after scraping down the sides of the bowl and giving the flours time to hydrate, it thickened up like it was supposed to.  There, that's looking great!

As soon as the batter was ready, I spread it in my prepared 9x13 baking dish.  Then I dotted the top with the cinnamon "filling".

Using a butter knife, I swirled the "filling" along the top of the cake.  I think I should have mixed the two layers together more, honestly... you'll see why in a moment.

I baked the cake as directed in the recipe, and boy did it look good when it came out of the oven!

But after it cooled, sections of it deflated quite a bit.  I wonder if that's because I didn't swirl the "filling" with the cake batter enough?  Or maybe it's because of the high content of butter in the "filling"?  I may try it again with less butter and more swirling action and see how it turns out.

The icing mixed up easily and filled in all those nooks and crannies... Hmmmm, maybe that's what was suppoed to happen?  LOL!

I can honestly say that this was a good dessert.  The crumb of the cake reminded me a LOT of coffee cake, so I can see making this as a breakfast treat as well as a dessert for after dinner.  And maybe if it were made in a smaller baking dish, it wouldn't deflate quite as far as it cools.  I guess this means I'll have to try it again.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken & Sausage Stew

Now that the weather is turning colder, I've been wanting to make good stick-to-your-bones food.  The kind that fills you up with good flavor and nutrition, and warms you from the inside.

As I was browsing on Pinterest, I came across this recipe for Hunger Games Hob Stew:

I will admit, I'm behind the times and have neither read the book nor watched the movie.  But my oldest daughter has done both.  She was really keen to try the recipe that was inspired by the movie, so it's what's for dinner tonight.

Here are my ingredients.  One change that I made right from the start was to not use quite so much broth.  The original recipe calls for 12 cups of chicken broth... that's three quarts!  I used only two quarts (8 cups) and that seemed to be sufficient.  Also, I would have run out of room in my pot had I used all 12 cups!

I poured my broth into my Dutch Oven and brought it to a boil.  Once the broth was boiling, I added the Italian sausages.

And then the veggies, which have been chopped, are added.  The recipe called for two green bell peppers, however green bell peppers are not a favorite in this house.  I used one red bell pepper instead.  Now I let that cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sausages are cooked through.  When the sausages are cooked, I removed them from the pot and added the package of beans. Return to a simmer and let cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Now that the beans are in the pot, I transfered the sausages to a pan to brown them up a bit.  Once they're browned, I removed the sausages to cool a bit and cooked my chicken breasts.  Of course, you can use leftover chicken if you have some to use up.

Once the sausages and chicken breasts are cooled, I cut them into bite sized pieces.  I left the sausages in round pieces, I liked the shape.  Place the cut sausages and chicken in a bowl and refrigerate until later.

After 2 hours of simmering, the beans should be nice and soft, so I added the cooked chicken and sausage to the Dutch Oven.  At this point, I added half a cup of water to get the consistency that I wanted; the stew had cooked down a bit more than I had wanted.  Let this simmer for 15-20 more minutes, or until warmed through.

Yum!  This is so tasty and hearty, and healthy too.  And best of all, my daughters ate it up.  Sweet!

However, I would make a couple of additional changes to the recipe.  As written, this recipe makes a LOT of food!  Next time I think I'll halve the recipe and it will still make plenty for dinner and leave leftovers for the next day's lunch.  Maybe even a few lunches!  :)

Also, I would not put the carrots in at the beginning of the cooking process.  They end up being cooked for 3 hours, and by the time I served up dinner the carrots were mush.  Next time, I will wait to add the carrots until later, 30-45 minutes before serving.  Either that, or I'll soak the beans before cooking so the dish won't have to cook for so long.