Thursday, August 30, 2012

An {herbal} Table Winner!

 A Quilter’s Table
I don't know about you, but I've really enjoyed The Table this summer. I have tried oodles of new recipes,  made a couple of kitcheny projects, and had my first guest-poster! It's added to the fun to have you join in on the {summer}, {picnic}, and {herbal} themes! Thank you!

With the monthly focuses have been monthly link parties, and from what I hear, you've liked that. So I think we'll continue into fall with having one linky on the first Tuesday of each month, and just link back to that each following week. I'm thinking we'll let September be all random, and if you clamour for more monthly themes, I can certainly consider that - so let me know ok?

Meanwhile, we have a random winner for Tuesday at the {herbal} Table!
And that would be Allison of Dreaming in Patchwork! A relative newcomer to Tuesday at the Table, she shared this month about her family's recent outing to the Farmer's Market. Thanks, Allison - I'll be emailing you about the prize you've won. Thanks again to the donors of this month's great prizes -

And being the number person that I am, I was curious about The Table's summer stats, so for those who are like-minded ~ 40 different people linked up to The Table, with a total of 93 link-ups. And the person who linked up the most was Kirsten of Gemini Stitches (8 times!). Kirsten and I have traded U.S.-only and Australia-only DS fabric a few times, and I certainly hope she can use the extra little prize I have for her . . . a $25 gift certificate to Sew Fresh Fabrics!

Thanks to all of you for joining me around The Table! It's been good.

Zakka Along Week 22 :: Pleated Coin Purse

Oh, little frame purse, where have you been all my life?

This week's project by Karyn Valino of make something was THE project I wanted to make when I purchased Zakka Style and started the sew along. It's taken twenty-two weeks to get to the project that in this moment seems like the cutest stitched up treasure I've ever made. (Familiar words - could it possibly have anything to do with the fabric choice?)

It started out as a bit of a treasure hunt weeks ago, as I was planning ahead and searching for the purse frame called for in the book. Then it was announced in the flickr group that we really needed a different size frame. Thank goodness Karyn had them in her shop, and shipped some right out to me, arriving just in the nick of time.

I must say I was a bit nervous though. I could not even imagine how something so cute {with metal involved!} could possible come together without major difficulty. Shape Moth shared the absolutely adorable purses she made, though, so that encouraged me on. And my friend Simone shared a link which armed me with back-up galore as far as technique goes.

Humor me. I'm going to list some links here for safe-keeping, as I sense more frame purses in my future! 
Sew-In Purse Frame Tutorial
Glued-In Purse Frame Tutorial
Making a Tutorial to Match your Frame

So, one night earlier in the week, I started, pulling out some of my very favorite Ruby Star Spring. Before long I had the front and back all pleated up.
 I laid the frame close up, and things looked very hopeful!
Now was the super scary part - attaching that frame! I had even bought glue, E-6000 as suggested by the clerk at the fabric store, since they didn't have Weldbond. But when I realized the frame I had purchased had stitching holes, well I just had to use them!
Considering I only have three colors of Perle Cotton in my stash, I was happy to find a perfect shade of green to coordinate with the Ruby Star and lime Essex Linen lining.
It was a little tricky, yes, but by the second side, it felt pretty good. And boy is that purse snug in its frame.

The project description in Zakka Style reads, "This design brings a crafty classic into modern times. The charming coin purse with a purchased metal frame features sweetly appealing pleating." I couldn't agree more.

Linking up with LRstsitched and TNT Thursday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

W.i.P. Wednesday

Just a last-minute reminder that if you'd like to link up to Tuesday at the {herbal} Table, the deadline is midnight tonight! Any table projects out there? We'd love to see them and you'd have a chance at a great prize! Meanwhile, it's W.i.P. Wednesday, and time to check out what's been going on in the sewing room.

Completed projects
Zakka Style Sew-Along project #21: Sweet Memories Photo Frame - The patchwork was the most enjoyabel part of this little project. That and taking it to the office where it coordinates great with the quilt hanging out there.

Ongoing projects
Improv Log-Cabin Quilt - The process alone has been worth the time spent on this little quilt. I tell ya, the Essex is awesome to quilt. I'll share more about this project when it's time for a wrap-up post. Obviously, now it's time for binding . . .

Zakka Style Sew-Along project #22: Pleated Coin Purse - I've almost got the 'purse' all stitched up & ready to try my hand at attaching the frame. So far so good, but I'm kinda nervous about the last step!

I've also been a little busy dealing with Polaroid blocks, but it's going really well! Can hardly stand the cuteness of some of the blocks!

Upcoming projects
* more Zakka - only two more to go! (sad but true)
* a quilt to coordinate with my Christmas tree skirt
* scrappy Metrolink
* Modern Cross quilt for my sister-in-law
* EZ Dresden Challenge project

Linking up with W.i.P. Wednesday, where Michelle of City House Studio is hosting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Swapping Begins!

Tuesday at the {herbal} Table

Wow this month (and summer period!) has flown by. Tuesday at the {herbal} Table is nearly over. Link up by midnight Wednesday, August 29, and shortly after, I'll choose a random winner for some awesome goodies. If zipit, Pink Chalk Fabrics, or Savory Sweet Life mean anything to you at all, then you won't want to miss out!

I have one of my favorite herbal recipes to share today, a salad that I don't make too often, which is a huge faux pas on my part. It is really delicious!

Warm Spinach and Basil Salad
from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

6 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 cups fresh basil leaves (1 large bunch)
½ cup best-quality olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup pine nuts (pignoli)
4 ounces prosciutto, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Toss the spinach and basil together in a large salad bowl.
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pine nuts and saute until nuts begin to brown slightly. Stir in prosciutto and cook 1 minute more Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss spinach and basil with warm dressing and sprinkle salad with Parmesan. Serve immediately and pass the pepper mill. mmmmmm good.

I'll try not to weigh you down with countless recipes this week unlike last, but there was also a delicious experiment we tried. And that would be cobs of corn grilled with their husks still on. The produce guy at my market said to snip the husk right at the top of each ear, so the silk wouldn't catch fire. Then put them right on the grill, on high, and rotate them every little bit, about 15 minutes total. So that's what we did.

Then we pulled some of that herb butter I'd made out of the freezer, and served it alongside. Tasty.

So that's what I have to say about that! And though we've been talking herbs, remember that you can link up any recipe or table project. Join me at the table!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Improv Development

Don't think for a minute that I'm not knee-deep in Polaroid blocks! They are neatly filed, just waiting for the last few packages to come in so the swapping can begin in earnest!

While I wait, I thought I'd try and squeeze in some improv, with the goal being a small quilt using the blocks from the improv class I took with Katie Petersen last month.

With my Quilting Modern book open to the "mod TV quilt" for inspiration, I began by taping a grid on the wall in my sewing room. One by one, I hung up the improvisational log cabin blocks I'd made (the smaller three since class), standing back after each to gauge how I liked it. Finally deciding on a basic arrangement I liked, I started piecing them together with Essex linen in Putty.
 It was kind of like doing a puzzle - measure, cut, sew, trim, repeat.
 As I finished each quadrant, I pinned it back up on the wall.
Until I finally had a finished top, measuring about 34"x30". Though not coordinating as well as the front blocks, I repeated the process with the remaining class blocks to make up the backing. I was out of Essex by this time, so I looked in my bin of solids (now neatly sorted and labeled), and chose a new Kona solid, "mushroom". I chose it for three reasons - one, it almost perfectly matched the linen on the front; two, I wanted to see how it played with the Coal in my blocks; and three, because it was a color I hadn't used before. Seriously, this will be a new staple for me. I really like it.
The only real change to the back blocks that I brought home from class was that where I had just a small sample of the "stitch and flip" technique, I added to it to make a wonky star.

So, this quilt is a tad unusual, but serves as a souvenir scrapbook of sorts of improv techniques I've tried and want to keep playing with. (Thanks for the idea, daughter dear!)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

About Linen

So I've won fabric twice in the last several weeks and oddly enough, both packs were linen! First there was the Sunshine and Cute Bots here:
and this last week, from LRstitched and the Zakka Sew Along linky, a complete fq stack of Robert Kaufman La Femme!

Totally random - I finally took the time to sit down and read through my Generation Q magazine, and wouldn't you know, right off on page 18 was an article by publisher Jake Finch, called "the glories of linen." Double surprise, the two print fabric collections they featured were the two above! The article told about "one of the oldest fabrics used on Earth", some of its unique qualities (it can be slippery when sewing), about pre-washing it (do - Rashida does!), as well as mentioning how beautifully it plays with other fabrics. An interesting and helpful read, not to mention, timely!

So, anyway, you know I've been Zakka-ing-along, but there's been only one quilt in the sew along.
So now I'm wondering . . . I have all this beautiful linen and am not quite sure what to do with it! Have you made all-linen quilts? Or would you suggest mixing them with cotton solids? Are there patterns that you feel really would show off the texture of these fabrics? Please share - I'd love to hear what you think!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Zakka Along Week 21 :: Sweet Memories Photo Frame

This week's Zakka project was by Ayumi of Pink Penguin (an awesome blog full of fun ideas by the way!). A sweet patchwork picture frame, it had a little sewing of fabric, but more cutting, securing with needle and thread, and gluing. In fact, I have sticky fingers as I type this post. Got a little carried away, I guess.

I decided to customize my frame, and made a little 'X' and 'O' on one side. Yup, totally remade those twice before I got them small enough to fit on the frame edge. Luckily, I had read The Patchsmith's post so I cut the top and bottom strips 2" instead of 1 1/2". There's no way I would have been able to secure them to the batt and chipboard - an interesting (and frustrating) process even with the extra width.
Ladder-stitching the sides, top, and bottom of the frame was also a tad finicky. And then when it came time for the gluing, I found my glue stick all dried up. Hence the over-use of spray adhesive and the sticky fingers.
But as usual, it all turned out ok in the end. Noodlehead (another inspiring blog!) shared her version, which is so darling. I kind of wanted to personalize mine too, but didn't round up the alphabet stamps to make it happen. Still, I'm rather fond of it, especially once grandgirl's picture was slipped in.
And in case you recognize the fabrics from another of my projects, you are quite right. I purposely made my frame to coordinate with the wonky cross quilt that hangs in my office . . .
Modern Cross Quilt

Linking up with LRstitched and Fabric Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

W.i.P. Wednesday

It seems like everything's on a small scale lately, project-wise. I'm hoping to start on something larger before next W.i.P. Wednesday. 

Completed projects
Zakka Style Sew-Along project #20: Little Pocket Pillowcase - This one was fun (the patchwork and the French seams) and frustrating (my wrong-size pillow, plus the bear). But it finished up pretty sweet, and you can read all about it here.

100 Quilts donation quilt - A kid-size quilt called "Sweet Baby Girlie". 

 Little Baby Bibs - These little drool bibs were a fun little baby gift.

*Picture-Perfect* Polaroid Block Swap blocks - Whew! While packages keep coming in, I finally finished my blocks. 115 ready to swap!

August do.Good Stitches blocksAugust Always Bee Learning blocks, and August Modern Blocks Bee block - I really enjoyed making all of this month's blocks, all new patterns to me.

Ongoing projects
Zakka Style Sew-Along project #21: Sweet Memories Photo Frame - I hate to tell you how long it took me to get this far! But I have the two sides pieced, and one sashiko-d together! Reading ahead to step #6 on p. 98, I can't envision what the craft paper's purpose is, and can these pieces be cut like from a grocery bag? If someone can enlighten me, I'd sure appreciate it. Meanwhile, stay tuned. Hopefully I can pull this one off.

Improv log-cabin quilt - No progress unfortunately.

Upcoming projects
* more Zakka - only four more to go!
* a quilt to coordinate with my Christmas tree skirt
* scrappy Metrolink
* Plus quilt for my sister-in-law - I was mistaken; it's really a Modern Cross quilt using Susan Beal's pattern.
* EZ Dresden Challenge project - still hoping - at least I have wedges cut now!

Linking up with W.i.P. Wednesday, guest hosted by Rebecca of Pieces and Cream.

Tuesday at the {herbal} Table

My little herb snippers have been put to good use this week, as I've tried a wide assortment of herbal recipes, and I think I can honestly say I'd make them all again! I didn't get pics of them all, but that doesn't mean they weren't more than tasty!

This first one is a refreshing summer beverage I've actually made many times - and which is why we have lemon balm growing in our yard! The recipe is originally from The Herbfarm, a really unique and exclusive restaurant near us that is known for using herbs in every dish. (And unfortunately, no I haven't been there, but I do make switchel every summer!)

Haymaker Switchel
¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup finely chopped mint leaves
½ cup finely chopped lemon balm leaves
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
Ginger Ale

Combine sugar and water in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Add chopped mint and lemon balm and boil for 30 seconds. Turn off heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into a clean container and add citrus juices. We use about 2 Tb. of the mix in an ice-filled glass and then top off with ginger ale. I bet you could sub lemon mint or all mint, if you don't have lemon balm.

I took a cue from Susan/The History Quilter's link-up and made some flavored water instead of serving 'just' plain water to guests last weekend. I found a blog via Pinterest - NancyCreative - with lots of flavor combo ideas. I combined lemon slices, cucumber slices, and sprigs of mint. Nice.

Having all the ingredients already in my fridge and herb garden, I also tried Becky/Solar Thread's linked-up recipe for Greek Eggs. It made a really nice Sunday supper!

After chatting with Lynne/pieceful about the pesto recipe I shared from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, I made the "marinated tomato, brie and BASIL salad on page 152" at her suggestion. Oh my! It was like dessert! I"d never had brie served anything like this. And as Lynne told me - "don't forget the bread".

Marinated Tomato, Brie and Basil Salad
4 ripe large tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes (I used little pear tomatoes.)
1# brie, rind removed, cheese cut into irregular pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Let stand covered at room temp for at least 2 hours. Serve with crusty bread.

Lastly, I needed an herbal recipe for the pork loin I planned to serve to guests last weekend. My old friend epicurious provided just what I was looking for - Marinated Pork with Cilantro and Garlic - which was easy and delish.

Oh! I almost forgot to report on the marinated olives I made last week! Keeper! I shared some with my mom, who added them to leftover chicken and pasta for a tasty lunch, nibbled on a few myself of course, and used the rest to make olive-topped focaccia. Since I wasn't overly thrilled with the recipe I used for the focaccia, let me just say this - make your favorite recipe, and before baking, push indentations all over the dough with your finger. Brush the entire surface with oil from those olives, then pop an olive into each indentation and sprinkle with chopped thyme. Bake as usual. And enjoy.

So that's pleeeenty of herbal goodness from me this week! What about you? Time to share so link up here!

Monday, August 20, 2012

An {herbal} Table Tidbit :: The Prize

Well we are half-way through the month-long Tuesday at the {herbal} Table feature. Just link up a recipe or a table project or something else relating to The Table. If it's herbal, great, but it doesn't have to be - 
that's just a suggestion if you want one! The linky will be open through Wednesday, August 29. Later that week, I'll choose one random winner from all of the link-ups this month. 

So here are the super fun goodies in this month's prize package for that one random winner!

First off, zipit has offered a $20 gift certificate to their shop! These are just awesome zips - the only ones I've used since I've started blogging. Zipit has super bundles and a rainbow of colors - perfect to have in your stash, so they're there when you need them!

Pink Chalk Fabrics also has given a $20 gift certificate to their shop! I consider this my 'local' online fabric store, but they have alot more than just {the latest!} fabric. Shipping turnaround is super-quick and their customer service is awesome.

And, since this is a foodie feature after, all, I'm pleased that Alice of Savory Sweet Life has shared a copy of her new book! It's beautiful, and chock full of inviting recipes "for every family occasion."  I made a yummy Cobb Salad from it the other night, and you can see I have tabs marked in my copy of what to try next!

So are you tempted? I sure hope so! Come on, share that recipe you've made, the one you want to make, those napkins or placemats you've stitched up, or tell us about how fun your last cookout was! Join in and share around the table!

August Bee Blocks

Not quite sure why, but I was really looking forward to bee blocks this month. And with the *Picture-Perfect* Polaroid Block Swap nearing a close (Read: almost time for Deb to sort more-blocks-than-she-ever-could-have-imagined), well it seemed like a good idea to get them stitched up and mailed off!

First on the list was Marci's Stargazer block for the Modern Blocks Bee. The pattern is by Angela Pingel from Modern Blocks and has seen alot of popularity. Though it looks complicated, it really is not, and I thoroughly enjoyed putting it together. All of Marci's Stargazer blocks will have these blue stars, surrounded by a variety of prints. I'm anxious to see this one put together!

I picked what I considered the hardest blocks next - some Improvisational Curves in the form of Pods, technique found in Quilting Modern. Unfortunately, I'd neglected to try these in the workshop I took with Katie a few weeks ago, so was a tad apprehensive about them! I didn't see that the book included one tip that Katie shared that I found very helpful when sewing curves. As you stitch each curve (step 8 on p. 158), hold the pod (underneath) with your right hand, and the background fabric (on top) with your left. Then as you sew, keep bringing the edges together. Kind of hard to explain, but that technique really helped me.

These blocks are for Spontaneous Threads, and she sent such an interesting array of fabrics! We were invited to include some from our stash, so I incorporated a couple of my grays.

Finally, it was time for the Patchwork Chevron blocks for the FAITH circle of do.Good Stitches. We used the block tutorial by Jeni of In Color Order, but with 3 1/2" print squares and a 9 1/2" solid square.  I'm really liking these, and the idea for placement that Des has is terrific!
So it feels good knowing these all are going out in today's mail and I can move on down the to-do list!

Linking up with TNT.