Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Pesto Afternoon

"You've got to do something about that basil..." said the Head Gardener.
He was right; it was time.

I shopped at Costco for my ingredients, found a good recipe online here, and set out to harvest the pungent green basil.

This is maybe a third of what was out there.
I washed and pulled off the leaves to the dulcet strains of Mixed Martial Arts wafting into the kitchen from the TV in the next room--19 year old Chad loves to watch that sport. "It's like street fighting, but civilized..."

My leaves took about 2 hours to prepare. Then came the fun part.

Toasting the pine nuts adds to the flavor of the pesto. You have to be quick, though, or they will scorch.

Basil, salt, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts: that's it!

Into the Cuisinart they go....

....and from there, into the freezer.
I made one batch with no parmesan for Esther, my son Max's girlfriend who is a vegan. It was actually quite delicious and light without the cheese.

Pizza and pasta with pesto, come winter, will tastily remind us of these warm summer days....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #10

Using one of Patricia Eaton's images on this post as inspiration, I created the motif for Vintage Flower #10.
There were a lot of knots (done with 3 strands of silk floss from Vicki Clayton).

Maybe the same effect could be gotten with would be so much quicker. I'll try that with another of the flowers down the line.

Meanwhile, the basil bed calls out to be harvested and made into pesto.....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garden Tour 7.25.09

Both His and Hers gardens are flourishing!
It has been a banner year, what with the warm spring, perfect amount of rain, and heavy dressing of manure in early April.

Come on along.....and wear your flip flops. There are lots of bees in the clover along the way and they will sting your feet if you step on them. Ask me how I know!

Every year those nasturtium climb down the wall. I just love that.
I have many "volunteers" this year, all over the place, flowers that have reseeded themselves from the year before. Mostly I leave them. The garden becomes a tad chaotic as a result which happens to drive dear Robert a little nuts.
That's why we have separate gardens!

This is what I mean. But what can I do? I can't pull up a flower...

Here is the same view as the one in "The Home in the Garden" from last year. Definitely a little more "cottaginous" (cottage-like) this year.

Moving along to Robert' magnificent garden (it's the best it has ever been)....

This isn't all of it, but it gives the idea...everything has filled in so much!
Most of the wildflowers you see on the right side of the photo...well...that is really one of the onion beds.

But when I was weeding it 6 weeks ago, I left the wildflower volunteers and you almost can't see the onions. (They are very big, though, some are 6" across.)
Robert has humored me here, but barely... ;-)

Ah, precision!

Here's a close up of some of the beds...from left to right are basil, poblano chillies, broccoli, and onions.

Robert took this picture of the poblanos, which are gathering steam fast.
Anyone know an easy way to get the skin off them? Would blanching work? I don't want to roast them before peeling if I don't have to because there will be so many and that takes so long...

A small corner of the Tomato Plantation...
Those Sungold cherry tomatoes are a total hit: sweet, fruity, and with an acid tang finish. YUM.
The plants are incredibly vigorous, too.

And finally, every year one corner of the garden just doesn't get done. We call it "The Corner of Shame".

Always a tangled mess...last year's leeks, catnip, poppies, and weeds, and an unplanted apricot tree, still in its pot after four months.
But I have a weakness for allium flowers, so Robert had to leave them in. It's all my fault!

So you can see it is hard to get the usual amount of stitching in these days.
But I do have a little work to do this week-end....

"Bryant Family Cottage" needs its sleeve before I can send it off to Houston. I was so happy that it got into this year's show!
I am using a translucent silk for the sleeve so that the lace edging will still show through along the top....

I hope you all are enjoying these precious, golden summer months!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New July Issue of CQMagOnline is Live

Don't delay, but click on over to CQMagOnline to see the brand new issue, just gone "live"!
As always, there are so many great articles to inspire you, and once again the "Readers' Showcase" gallery is superlative.

Thanks to the editor, Rissa Peace Root, the new Assistant Editor, Lynn Schoeffler, and the dedicated staffers who make the magazine possible...also to Maureen Greason of Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions for helping to sponsor this issue.

It is yum!

Vintage CQ...Flower #9

Lots has been happening around here, so I haven't gotten much stitching done since returning home from Michigan.

We've had a full blown "broccoli emergency" where a huge bed has all come ripe at once, so there has been much harvesting, slicing, blanching, etc.

It's been a good year, for sure.

The tomatoes are looming, too, and will soon demand our attention....

This Tiffin weighed in at 20.5 oz.

But even so, I found some time for Floral Block #9.

This is a spiderweb rose done up with 1" Hanna Silk ribbon. The rather misshapen leaves are needleturned hand-dyed silk dupioni, with some couched Noro yarn. (It's from Japan) Ultrasuede forms the calyxes.

There is so much incredibly great floral work being done all around the blogs this summer. The work of Patricia Eaton, of Bird Nest on the Ground, is particularly inspiring. Patricia, can I borrow some of your French knots for #10?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vintage CQ...Needleturn Applique

A glorious week it was at Michillinda!!!

My cousin Carol's dear friend, Lynn Cunningham, was there for most of the week with us. She is an expert at needleturn applique and was willing to teach me how.
I had tried it 15 years ago in a class with the great Elly Sienkiewicz, whose Applique Academy Lynn attends. I didn't like it then, but now with many years of handwork under my belt, I thought I'd give it another try.
And....I loved it!

Meet Lynn....she was tons of fun, and as you will see, is very, very adept with her needle.

These are some of her blocks for a wildflower quilt she is making. The designs are from a gal in California whose name I forgot to write down. Sorry......but aren't they grand? Look at all those little points on the thistle...eeek!

This design is from the book, William Morris in Applique by Michele Hill, from C & T publishers. Lynn had printed the design onto label paper, which she peels away as she appliques. She also marks around the template shapes, so the paper doesn't have to remain in place while she is sewing.
This looks really hard.

But I thought some simple needleturned flowers might be a nice addition to my Vintage CQ, so I asked Lynn for a lesson.

I am all eyes here, watching a true pro in action.

It really helps to have the right tools.

Lynn uses nothing but size 11 straw needles, YLI silk thread.....

....and a School Gluestick!

Also a toothpick. When you are turning under your little seam as you sew, sometime the edge will fray or the point won't tuck in properly, as here. You dip your needle or toothpick into the gluestick to get a tiny coating of glue on it, push under the offending threads and voila, they are permanently on good behavior, out of sight.

This is Lynn sewing here. She says her left thumb does most of the work, holding things in place. The stitch is placed just a few threads behind where the thread comes up out of the back, and then into the fold, over about 1/8th of an inch, and out. Her stitches truly are invisible.
Also, she says not to pull too tightly, so you don't get little indentations along your seam edge.

Well, I was all thumbs, but having a great teacher and some pretty silk to work with helped.

Some of my flowers were a little questionable....(there's one I'm not going to show you at all).

But I truly enjoyed the process.
Thank you so much, Lynn!

Betty Pillsbury left a comment on my blog last time about the proportions of my Vintage CQ, after seeing it laid out. She said the center section needed to be bigger. So I laid it out again on the design wall to see if she was right, and I have to agree with her.

It means I'll be sewing more blocks for the border and spending considerably more work on the center...but this quilt is a loooooong term project so that is fine. There is still that large black border to go, too, so this could be a few years in the making.

My week at the cottage went by so fast. My sister was there with her darling daughter Qwennie, and it was a true joy to share the place and our childhood memories...

My sister is the best!

Farewell, Michillinda, for another year......

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #8...and Outer Blocks Pieced!

So everyone's sewing space gets as messy as mine!!! How good to hear that... ;-)

I dug out, regrouped, and finished up my block piecing...also completed another flower motif.

This one was simple. Both the flower and the leaves were cut from some trim I got from Mokuba in New York.

Now, before I show how my quilt is shaping up, I want to refresh your memory concerning the original quilt that inspired it.

Ah, this is such a beauty.
I have cut down on the number of blocks but did try to keep the proportions fairly close to the same, and also simplified the fan blocks.
I did try to leave some big chunks of fabrics in the blocks for later motif embroidery (not my strong suit but I'll give it my best shot).
Also...I tried piecing with straight seams but gave that up quickly. It just wasn't possible!

My goal was to retain the reference to vintage, but give it a thoroughly modern punch.

The blocks are just pinned in place on the design wall, so things could get moved around a bit still.
I always try to build in some common elements into my help unify things. These blocks all have white in them, and most of them use trim from Ally's Bazaar. (Such great prices...and wonderful service, too.) There is large lace on every block as well.

That outer border is going to wait til last, which could be awhile, but I hope and trust it will tie everything together.

Now it is time to pack up my blocks and some embellishment supplies...I'm heading to Michillinda tonight on the red eye!
I can get mail at the neighbor's, (they have WiFi) but I won't be blogging til I get, see you in a week...and
Happy Stitching!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #7

Fitting the motif into the space is the biggest challenge of these little blocks.

I thought I would try something a little different this time....

....and have my flowers "hanging" from the top.
If I were to do this over (which I'm not), I would have moved the whole thing slightly down, as it seems a bit top heavy to me. But on the original quilt, the motifs aren't perfectly centered, either!

I have been piecing up a storm on the outer blocks...not quite ready to show that part yet as I have 4 more blocks to go.
But what the heck! We're all friends welcome to my chaotic mess....

Eeek! Pretty pathetic, isn't it? Now you know!
It is hard to walk in here so I have to take a breather to clear things up....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #6

Many of my "old friends"--flowers from "Crazy for Flowers" and the "Spring CQ"--are showing up in these little blocks. I dug out some leftover fabric made of angelina fibers fused onto silk that went into the blue flax to make this little cachepot of posies.

I did take some time out from the flowers here to piece some of the blocks that are going to surround the center section of this quilt.
I just had to see how it was going to look!
While trying to capture the kind of "chunky" piecing, with large patches for motif embroidery, that is a feature of the vintage quilt, I did use quite contemporary colors. I'll show you that next time....

I do so love piecing...but my sewing room always looks like a bomb went off in there whenever I get going on it! That, I am not showing....

I pulled myself away to go out and harvest some ingredients for last night's dinner...

The New Zealand spinach has done well for us, not bolting in all our heat.
And how about that nice head of broccoli? Robert was so proud.....and wow is there more where that came from.
As for the raspberries...just a little half and half plus a tiny bit of yummy!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #5

I love my Tsukineko inks....

They are just the thing to get the specific colors I want on a small amount of lace....

...for the fifth block in the series...;-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #4

It's been warm, and our house doesn't have air I have moved my base of operations outdoors. And how delightful it has been!

In the tree right above me is a robin's nest, with Mom and Dad Robin very busily tending to two little chirpers. Such dedicated parents they are, so much flying to and fro! Every once in awhile Mom will land on the limb closest to my table to check me out for a moment or two...then off she goes to find something else to feed her babies.
They are great entertainment as I stitch away...

Flower #4 features some rick rack flowers...I use Mokuba 2mm rayon rick rack, and the ombre ribbon in the leaves is Mokuba also.
It is an interesting design challenge, how to fill the black star space in a way that is balanced, but different, each time.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vintage CQ...Flower #3

I had some leftover petals from one of my millinery flower making sessions of several weeks ago....and those wonderful vintage stamens I bought at Tinsel Trading in May with Susan....

So here we have Flower #3!