Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Block of the Month

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas!  Mr. Squash and I had a lovely, quiet day in each other's company!  I cooked a small Prime Rib using Pioneer Woman's recipe - it was fantastic!  I also made Kaaren's recipe for Brussels Sprouts and now have a new favorite!  While we didn't have a white Christmas, we did have a beautiful, partly sunny day, which is OK by us!
A while back I decided to do a Block of the Month from The Quilted B.  It's called Rosewood Farms and uses mostly the Etchings collection from 3 Sisters for Moda.  Not only do I love the colorway, but the farm theme is adorable!  Here is the first block.
And here is the second block - see the heart?
This is the original pattern which was done in more rustic colors, but still adorable!  To see how the Rosewood Farms version will look finished, click here.  I am bound and determined to keep up with each month and can't wait to finish!

I'm also still working on this - it's going pretty fast and I should have it on Vinnie by next week.  I don't consider it a UFO because it's the only project I'm working on other than the BOM.  Believe it or not, I don't have any UFO's - just lots of complete projects ready to begin!  I am trying to decide which one to begin next - first in, first out, or last in first out!  Which would you choose?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Chickens & a Piping Trick!

Our neighbor Ted recently built a chicken coop for his wife, Andrea.  You might remember some of my posts showing Ted's work in the Squash House.  He is a custom builder and did quite a bit of work for us.  My favorite work of Ted's is our custom Maple Bar.  Well, Ted has a warehouse with a lot of leftover materials from which he pulled the makings of his chicken coop!  He said given the materials he used, the first egg was probably worth around $3,000 - lol!  It's really well designed and includes a little door knocker just for the chickens! (Click the photo for a closer look.)  They needed a little holiday cheer, so Ted and Andrea gave them their own set of holiday lights!  I can just hear the girls laying eggs while they cluck Christmas carols!
I've been doing some secret holiday sewing.  I'm a little behind getting caught up and have made a deadline for myself to get it all done in the next few days.  Two of the items have piping, something I love, but dread to make.  I can never sew the piping evenly into to the fabric and usually wind up scrapping it for another idea.  This time I was determined to make it work - and all of a sudden a light bulb in my head went on!
I was given some Lapel Stick to try and I thought - why not stick the piping to the fabric before I begin sewing it!
I finger pressed my piping fabric in half, ran the lapel stick down the fold and onto the front portion of the fold.
Then I simply stuck the piping down the fold and pressed in half before sewing it all together.
Voila!  My piping and fabric stayed together perfectly while sewing and it's ready to insert into my projects.  Many times I look at the mountain of many notions I've accumulated and wonder why - and then an idea like this pops into my head and all I need to do is reach in the notions drawer!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fairy Frost

This morning Mr. Squash and I awoke to what we thought was snow!  It wasn't predicted - the weather here has been cold and sunny for quite some time now, but it sure looked like snow!  Then I remembered that Freezing Fog had been predicted!  Fairy Frost sounds better, don't you think?

Here is a shot right outside the front door.  This is our new winter flag - we're beginning to amass a small collection of them!  It's something I've always wanted, but this is the first house where it's been possible to have them.
Looking the other way at my car parked in the driveway.
Aside from the Dogwoods, this is my favorite plant in the front yard - European Cranberry.  It always  puts on a show no matter what the season!
Speaking of the Dogwoods, isn't this gorgeous!  Click on any photo for a better look.
On my way back inside I snapped a photo of our wreath.  I was going to try making one this year, but on a trip to the farm store this one called my name!
I ventured out the back steps to get a couple more photos.  Some years the fog can stick around this part of the Columbia Basin for weeks.  I don't remember any last year and I hope this isn't a sign of things to come for this year.  But wait....it's Fairy Frost, not fog....
Looking the other way at the Juniper trees which hold some of our firewood.  (In case you're wondering, the wood has not spread the trees as you see - they were leaning apart prior to the wood being stacked.)
I have absolutely no sewing to show that isn't a gift.  I've also been doing a bit of holiday baking.  Today will be a peanut butter fudge recipe I found here.  I've made several of Marie's recipes and become quite a fan!

So what about you?  How are your holiday plans coming?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brined Turkey - A First!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  I am so thankful for you, fellow bloggers, Mr. Squash, our health and of course -- The Squash House! 
I thought while the turkey is in the oven for many of you, that I would share my first turkey brining experience.  This year we decided to cook the turkey the day before Thanksgiving along with any side dishes that could be prepared ahead.  Today I'm doing the stuffing in a crockpot, rolls and a side dish of Brussels Sprouts.  I should have plenty of time to relax before dinner for a change.
SIL in New Jersey emailed just the other day that she brined a turkey and had great results! I've thought about doing it for some time now, so I decided to make a last minute change in plans!  You can find the recipe that I used in a video here:  http://www.kitchendaily/.com  It began as quite an odyssey!  Our 5 gallon plastic bucket was not food safe, so after finally getting to the 5th and final grocery store in town, we found a brining bag large enough to fit the turkey and the bucket!  Here is the bucket after Mr. Squash hefted it into the frig!
Don't be grossed out by this - it's only the shadows of all the veggies in the brine that fell to the bottom while Mr. Turkey was brining.  I only wanted you to see how close we came to having just enough room for him in the bucket!  It looks like more, but there is only about 4-5 inches left at the top of the bucket!
Once I took the turkey out of the brine it had to sit for about 30 minutes which gave me just enough time to prepare the basting sauce.  First I finely chopped 2 Tbsp of fresh rosemary from my garden.
Then I peeled the rind in large strips from one lemon.  Last time I used this peeler I managed to peel my thumb along with a butternut squash!  I was very careful this time! 

Next was to mince one clove of garlic.  This is a head from garlic we harvested this summer - I just love the bright, red color!  See that cute little machine?  We picked it up on our recent trip to Leavenworth - it's a garlic mincer!  You place your clove inside, then roll the wheels back and forth on the counter several times and voila...

...perfectly chopped garlic with no mess!  The little chopper comes right out to wash and ready for the next clove!  Have you ever seen the "get it or forget it" stories about new gadgets on the news? In my book, this is a definite "Get It"!

Place the above ingredients in a small saucepan along with 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, bring to a simmer and cook for a minute or so.  Set aside to cool.

Next cut one large yellow onion into 8 wedges.

Place the onion in the bottom of your roaster, then the rack, then your turkey.  Baste your turkey and place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

Here is Mr. Turkey in the oven waiting to bring out his wonderful flavor!  Bake at 425 for one hour, then reduce the oven to 375, pour one cup of water into the bottom of the pan.  Baste with the reserved olive oil mixture every half hour until a thermometer registers 165 degrees.  You can find the recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/331734/roast-turkey-with-rosemary-and-lemon  Martha called for the turkey to be stuffed, but I didn't and still had excellent results!

Wouldn't you know just when I took the turkey out to rest I got a call from an old friend in California.  I totally forgot to take a photo of the whole bird nicely roasted, but here he is all sliced and ready to be served later today!  I can honestly say it looked as good as the picture in the recipe!

I also made the accompanying recipe for White Wine Gravy:  http://www.marthastewart.com/331731/white-wine-gravy  I must say that this is one of the best gravies I've ever made!  We can't wait to dig into all this later today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Design Wall Monday & A Good Deed!

In between other projects I'm slowly working away on my Piece of Pie quilt.  Friday night after dinner I finally finished all 80 blocks!
Yesterday afternoon I began putting it up on the design wall.  This is the most difficult part of quiltmaking for me!  I can figure out and stitch almost any sort of complicated block, but when it comes time to put it all together in a pleasing manner my heart begins to palpitate and I start sweating - lol!
I told myself I would just quickly throw this one together and hope for the best.  Well, I did put it up rather quickly and began a few tweaks here and there and decided I could do it all day and night and still feel it wasn't quite right!  So, with approval from Mr. Squash's discerning eye, we decided it was good to go!  The quilting will change it all anyway, so why waste any more time!  Next will be sewing the rows together and adding two different borders.
Mr. Squash and I along with our next door neighbors have been feeding an abandoned cat for a while now.  I affectionately call her Sugar after a cat I had as a child.  It took her some time to make friends, but she's gradually warming to a pet and a scratch now and again.  We feed her outside under the eaves where it always stays dry.  The other morning Mr. Squash called me to the window where we found her facing the corner here on the ground rolled into a tiny ball against the cold.  Well, it tugged at our hearts and we decided to try and find something that would be a weather-proof bed for her.
We couldn't find anything at the farm store, so Saturday we drove to Wags and Whiskers where we buy Sophie's food.  We spied this domed litter box with a smooth bottom and thought it would actually make a decent, weather-proof bed.  Sophie generously donated her warm and soft bubble bed which fit perfectly inside.  In less than a day, Sugar curled up inside and made it her home!  She was so soundly asleep inside when I snapped the photos that she didn't even wake up.  It feels great to both of us that we brought a little joy and comfort into her life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

For iPad Readers - A Fix!

Over the past year I've had several emails and comments from those of you with iPads and other laptop devices.  You've mentioned that you cannot see the text on my blog.  I've tried to remedy the problem many times, but until now there hasn't been a solution.  Well, today there is!  If you're reading this on an iPad now, you should be able to see this text!  The wonderful gals at Cutest Blog on the Block helped me through this, and for that, I thank them very much!

If you're looking for a new template for your blog, or just want a change, do go over there and have a look!  They offer lots of free templates and for not much, they will even work with you on a design of your own!  And in case you're wondering, I did not get paid for this little bit of advertising :>)

Mr. Squash and I cleaned out all the pots on our patio yesterday.  It's nice to know that someone appreciates it and is finding them a good place for storage!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Contrary to Popular Belief....

...I'm still here!  Gosh - if any quilters out there are contemplating retirement - anticipating all the time in the world to quilt - think twice!!  I've never been as busy since I've retired!  And have I found more time to quilt??  A tad, yes, but not nearly as much as I thought I would have.  I'm not complaining, however, but would someone out there send me some more time!
Currently I'm working on a quilt called "Roll On" from the book Piece of Pie by Brenda and Bonnie Bailey.  It's a layer cake friendly book - and I just happened to have a layer cake of one of my favorite designs - Fruitcake by Basic Grey!  I've made 24 of these with 56 left to go.  It's a very easy block to make and goes together quickly.  Maybe by Christmas I'll at least have it on Vinnie and then on our bed for next Christmas!
Colors are changing really fast now in town.  Here is the view from my dining room the other morning.  Our Red Sunset maples are finally coming into their own.  Next year they will be even bigger and provide us with a lot more shade!
Today I baked some Starbuck's Oatmeal cookies!  Mr. Squash and I both love them and you can find the recipe here.  Easy to make and oh, so good!
Sophie absolutely loves her retirement.  If she only knew how to quilt so I'd have a helper - lol!  I love this photo of her basking in a sunbeam and sitting on top of her heated bed with her catnip sock nearby.  Doesn't get and better than this!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spooky Supreme Peek and Hexagon Madness!

I finished another Supreme pattern test the other day, but because it's a pattern that won't be released until next year, I can only show you a peek!   I had so much fun making this one!  Stephanie gives me free rein to use whatever fabric I want, so I decided to delve into my rather large Halloween stash!
This is the front - wish I could show more, but you'll just have to be patient!
Here is a peek at the back.  Thanks to a most kind "donation" from Julie over at Me and My Stitches, I had enough of the orange, spider webby fabric to bind the quilt and tie it all together!  Thanks again, Julie! 
I have Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts to blame for my latest addiction ongoing project - Hexagons!  Check out her blog for a wonderful, 3-part tutorial on how to make these little gems!  I read the tutorial through several times and also purchased her Hexagon Starter Kit and it's off to the races!  I plan to work my way through my entire scrap bin for a one-of-a-kind hexagon quilt!  In the photo above are my first 6 hexagons - so easy and so fun with Pam's instructions.  The hexagon sitting by itself on the bottom came with Pam's kit which is so helpful!  Been wanting to make these like I have?  Go have a peek and see how easy and fun it is!
You've seen me post this quilt before, but check out the little figures on top of the rack!  They are from a local artist and I've begun collecting them here and there for different seasonal displays! 
I took my camera with me the other day on my daily walk.  The leaves are changing must faster this year, and oh, so beautiful!  Here are 3 of the 4 Dogwoods in front of the house.  Soon there will be nothing but the red berries left and the Flicker's will be feasting until they are gone!
Our mailman told me this bush is a Euonymous.  There are many different varieties but this one that turns red in the fall is all over town.  I'll be looking to plant one at the Squash House!
I loved this Colorado Blue Spruce covered with leaves fallen from another tree.
And how nice it would be to sit on this bench with a hot cup of tea and your favorite quilting magazine on a sunny, fall day! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumn Touring

Gosh - I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted!  Where does the time go.  A while back Mr. Squash and I went to Leavenworth, Washington for a little Autumn getaway!  I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the places we stopped.
This is Prey's Fruit Barn - a longtime staple in the area.  They always have so many beautiful baskets of flowers out front!
This odd looking fellow greets you at the door.
I picked up some packages of dried 13-bean mix for soups here and a few apples.  We'd never seen this variety before - and they were HUGE!  One apple could have served 4 people!  It wasn't the best we'd ever tasted, but it's always fun to try a new variety.  Click on the photo for the name.
Next stop was another longtime institution - Smallwoods.  They have all sorts of fruits and vegetables from local farms and orchards, a petting zoo and fun things for kids to do!

Here is where they had their pumpkins for sale.  I wish mine were orange, but alas, they're still green and we just had our first frost.  Needless to say, I picked up some that are orange!

They had cute little vignettes all over!
Mr. Squash wants you to meet his new friend - he's great to talk with - never argues and always agrees with what he says!
This was adorable - a cow train for kids!  A few minutes after I snapped this photo, it was filled with little ones going for a ride around the farm!

Don't you just love this huge, red rooster!

Check out this corner of their store - I actually know some very good men cooks - I think they have it all wrong!
This is the main street in Leavenworth.  All the buildings are made to look like you're in a Bavarian Village - it's what attracts everyone.  They even play Bavarian music on loudspeakers all over town!  We had a lovely trip and the weather was perfect!

On the way home we stopped at one of our favorite nurseries.  Mr. Squash saw this flag and knew it was perfect for the Squash House!  Every time a group of kids walk past the house we hear all sorts of comments about how cool it is!  Now if I could just get the wrinkles out!  I'm so afraid to iron it and have it melt!

**EDIT** - Thanks to a tip from Kaaren - I've gotten the wrinkles out of my flag - it now looks terrific!  Thanks, Kaaren!