Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not so vanilla binding

I'm trying reeeeeeally hard to get a jump on some holiday gift making.  Starting with homemade Vanilla extract.  It takes a few weeks to cure (about 8) so I started it today, hoping to pour into cute little glass bottles for Christmas gifts.  I usually don't think of these things until three days before the holidays and then do a hand slap to the head, wondering why I didn't come up with it sooner.  This year I'm going to be smart.
So, besides feeling all smug about my smart self, here's what I did.....
Gather some 40% vodka,  (the cheap stuff is good here.  Save the Grey Goose for a dirty martini later, after you're done slaving in the kitchen), vanilla beans ( 1-3 beans per 4 oz. vodka), and a sterilized glass bottle with tight fitting lid.  You can even use an old wine bottle, just jam the cork back in there to seal.  Now split the beans open with a sharp knife.
Put the beans into your bottle, pour the vodka over them and seal tight.  Store in a dark cupboard for about 8 weeks. The first week or so take it out to say hello and give it a good shake.  If you open and smell it you will want to drink it.  Just ignore this and go get a piece of chocolate out of the drawer instead.
At the end of the curing time, decant into fancy little bottles and decorate with ribbon. Voila!
There are a lot of different websites out there with vanilla extract recipes.  Here is one, and you can also try here.

  I'm sewing binding on a quilt I just finished.  I know, it's totally unrelated to vanilla extract, and there was no way to smoothly transition from the kitchen to the sewing room, except that the binding is the same color as the vanilla beans,  but, will you just look at how this is sewn on.......
I think I squealed out loud when I saw the binding on this blog.  I have never seen this before!  If you have, then pardon my childlike enthusiasm, but I think this is GREAT!  It completely adds another layer of color and interest to your quilt.  I had already sewn my binding to the front by machine, so I flipped it over to the back, and sewed it down with pink Perle cotton.  You could even sew your binding down to the back of your quilt, then turn it over, and the stitching would show on the front. How fun is that? 

More pics of the quilt coming up later.  I'm going back to the kitchen now.  I'm pretty sure there was some vodka left over.  Now where did I put those olives? 
Linking to Tuesday at the Table

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moving along....

Daughter number 1 has been moved to her new home and job in Salinas (sniff), and now daughter number two is without a roommate and is moving back home for a bit.  The spare bedroom has to be cleaned out, and so I moved the twin bed from that room into my sewing room.  Turns out I like this arrangement!
Not only does this provide excellent napping opportunities, it's a great way to store my quilts.  I have about five of them layered on this bed, instead of folded in the cupboard.

The chevron scarf is finished and I really love it!  Now I want a strapless chiffon dress, and some big sunglasses.  I will wrap this around my neck a la Deborah Kerr or Grace Kelly and go for a ride along the coast in a convertible.
The sea spray and wind will whip my hair around my face like a cyclone....  Oh wait. My hair won't whip anymore...........

Because I cut it off!  Here it is, morning bed head hair, morning bags under my eyes, still in my pajamas, no bra (all cropped out for your viewing pleasure).  The pile of hair on the salon floor after the cut looked like a small dog.  It feels better, and I just saved about 15 minutes of bathroom styling time, which works out to a few quilt blocks or crochet rows.  Like this....

Half granny shawl in Noro.  Waiting for an edging.  I love this stuff!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunrise quilt (and another shawl)

My son was up at 5 am today.   His high school has a "senior sunrise" day at the beginning of each school year for the senior class.  They have juice and coffee and muffins and gather to take a class picture as the sun comes up.  I think it's a great tradition, and the picture goes in their yearbook.  Since I was up early too, I took a few pictures of my own, before the sprinklers came on in the side yard.
I first saw this quilt here made by Debbie out of the cute new Marmalade fabric, then followed her link to Made by Rae, for the free pattern. Isn't that nice of her to share?
 I  added another row to make it bigger ( you will need to cut 40 more colored squares) and now it measures about 56x56 in.  I used Lilly Belle fabric by Bari J. and some Joann's fabric for the backing.

I also just finished another shawl.  I used the Sweet November pattern again (I first blogged about it here), but this time I added the Dory shawl edging instead of the fringe.
I have made 5 of these shawls since I learned how to crochet, and I think I'm about done now.  Not pictured are a gray one (a birthday present for my daughter) and a pink one (can't figure out where I put it, which is okay, because it's a dusty Victorian pink color, and should never come within 10 feet of my olive skin tone, and makes me look sickly).  I made them out of pima cotton, which is always great for the warmer months and they have a wonderful drape. 
Okay, I'm off to hit "Publish" and make a second pot of coffee.  Kris at Simplify,  has a post about growing out your hair, and now I'm in a quandary about a new hairstyle.  I've been letting my hair grow out for months now, and can finally get it in a (smallish) ponytail, but I really love short hair!  This hot weather is not helping my case, because it causes my hair to lay flat as a mattress, no matter how much product I put in it.  I'm starting to dread taking a shower, because then I have to wash and style this mop!  So I created a new Pinterest board for short hairstyles. 
  Now if only my stylist would guarantee she could make me look like Halle Berry or Sharon Stone, I might have a go at it.
I know women love to talk about their hair.  Are we ever happy with it?
Have at it in the comments : )

Monday, August 13, 2012

Herbal harvest

Guess what?  These veggies are not from my garden.  I can't claim growing them, although they were delivered in my CSA box.  That eggplant was so cute I wanted to take a picture of it.  I also don't usually buy novelty fabric, but I had an idea for some place mats, so we'll see what I can come up with.

This did come from my garden.......

Sage, rosemary, chives, thyme, and oregano.  I thought I would dry some to freshen up my supply of herbs.  You can hang them in bunches to dry, or spread them on baking sheets and place in a 200 degree oven for a couple of hours.  Like this...
When they were dry, I just crushed them up and put them into  recycled glass jars.  Then I took some of the rosemary and sage and made an herbal salt with coarse ground sea salt.
You need to use coarse ground because it has to be broken down further with the herbs either in a food processor...
or the old fashioned way...
The salt will keep for at least 6  months.  You can put it on meats, or potatoes, even popcorn!   Tonight I'm rubbing it into some pork chops.  Fresh herbs can also be used, but when the mixing is completed, spread it out in a pan to dry overnight.
There are lots of different herb combinations to try.  You can even add fresh chopped garlic!  I think this would make great Christmas gifts done up in cute little decorated jars.

Now that that job is done, I can get back to some serious quilting.
I seem to have a bit of a backlog. 

Linking up with Debbie at Tuesday at the table.  Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pretty in Pink

This is the One Skein Chevron Scarf that I found on Ravelry.  It should really be called the Lickety-Split scarf because it makes up super fast.  Even using MadTosh Merino light with a G hook is not slowing me down.  It should be finished by tomorrow.
 I bought this yarn last year and was a little bit disappointed when I got it in the mail, because I thought it was too pinky for me.  I tried out two different patterns with it, and ripped them both out.  This one just feels right.  And it doesn't seem too pink as a scarf.  Or maybe I'm just getting used to looking at it.  The color is called Molly Ringwald.
I would like to make it again, but wider and wear it as a wrap.  It's incredibly soft to the touch.  Still haven't decided how much I'm going to block it out.

Here is some cute material, found on sale at Joann's.  It's Market Stalls from Alexander Henry collection.
I was there to buy backing fabric for a new quilt I am about to finish.  Here is a peek....
How old is that young woman on the cover?  Does she have her drivers license yet?  I feel all of my 53 years looking at her, but I'm learning a lot from this young whipper snapper about free motion quilting.
 The other book is just quilting eye candy.  There are several quilts in here I like, but they will have to get to the back of the long line of "things I want to make"  dancing around in my head.

The next 6 days are supposed to be over 100 degrees.  Yay me.  Even the pool will be hot.
 Whoever invented air conditioning,  I love you right now.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bringing hexies back

I've had this old quilt for about 15 years now.  I found it at the flea market in the bottom of a box, where it sat worn and stained and forgotten.  It was no longer usable as a bed quilt, but over time, I have been  carefully cutting around the holes and stains, preserving pieces for other projects.  I even covered a footstool with it once.
Would you look at all those tiny stitches?  That's a lot of work, never mind piecing all those hexagons, which are only about 1.5 inches each.  I could not buy enough patience to make something this amazing.
So I made a pillow out of some of the scraps.
I added some stitching with my sashiko needle.  I LOVE this needle.  I bought it online sometime last year (can't remember where), and have used it every time I want to create a big running stitch.  It's really easy on the fingers too.  Go get one.
I sewed down the quilted strips on my machine, leaving the edges raw.

Inspiration for this pillow came from these little pretties.  I actually found an etsy shop that sells embroidered Sari material (kantha style), and have ordered a stole which looks to be made up of about 4 or 5 different colored pieces.  I am hoping to use it to make pillows like the ones pictured in the West Elm link.
In the meantime, I started piecing some hexagons using a 3.5 inch template.  Yep.  I like it.
These are big and easy.  Each flower measures about 10 inches across, so it shouldn't take too many to make a throw sized quilt.  How long it will take me is a different matter. 
I have be seeing Christmas makes out there in blog land and on Pinterest lately.  Is it time to go there?  I suppose we need to get started soon.  It's hard to wrap my head around the holidays when the weather forecast here calls for 100 degree heat and boob sweat of epic proportions.

If anyone wants me I will be in the house with the air conditioner thermostat set somewhere between Iceland and the North Pole.