Thursday, August 24, 2017

Five Years in the Making

Five years ago my son asked if I would teach his daughter to sew. Makenzie and I started with a simple pair of pull on shorts. We used an old pair of her sweats and cut a pattern to make them. Soon afterwards we moved on to quilt making...my passion.
We decided on the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern. I had two charm square packs of a cute fabric line that she liked so we started with the basic techniques of learning about the 1/4" seam allowance, matching her points and pressing the seams.



Between her schedule and mine we didn't get much accomplished that first summer, so we returned to the same project the next year...


and the next year!


She finally finished the quilt top in 2014 and then we both dropped the ball. Makenzie was not super interested in sewing, although we loved our time together. She is a sporty girl and has a busy social life so sewing was not really at the top of her list. Her quilt got folded up and put away in my unfinished projects box.


This year I decided to finish the quilt and surprise her with it for her birthday.


I knew her small quilt wouldn't get much use seeing as she is 5'8" tall now, so I added a large border on all sides using the Nummers print fabric from IKEA. The black and white words were the perfect addition to showcase Makenzie's work in the center of the quilt.
I quilted it using my favorite method of what I call "Graffiti" quilting; a combination of straight lines, pebbles, squiggles, hearts and words.





I incorporated the label into the quilting with short phrases like "this quilt made by Makenzie and quilted by Bubbi" and "started in 2012 and completed in 2017" and "Happy Birthday".


I backed the quilt with the Story newsprint from Carrie Bloomston. I found it on Amazon (Fabric.com) and received a discount for buying over 4 yards! I love using this print because it is 108" wide and goes with so many different styles of quilt. The binding is becoming a habit too. Once again I used the black and white mini stripe from Timeless Treasures, available from Fabric.com on Amazon, too.


The finished quilt measures 72" wide and 82" long...I think it will keep Makenzie warm and cozy for many years to come.


Martha had to try it out before we gifted the quilt to Makenzie.


She was so surprised and her smile shows how much she liked her quilt. It holds so many memories of our time spent together.


This video shows her surprise and you can hear her parents in the background, remarking at their surprise of how well she did making the center section.








Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making Jam in the Instapot

I have been searching for Italian plums for years. They never have them at my local grocer or fruit stand, but this past weekend I found them at Costco! I was so excited. They are the best plums for baking and jam making and they are delicious just to eat out of hand, as well.

I searched for a recipe and found one in the book Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan. Her book is great for making small batches of jams and other preserved foods.


I decided to try making the jam in the Instapot, mainly because my copper jam pan is huge and is not good for making small batches of jam.


I doubled Marisa's ingredients from the book, yielding three pints of the most delicious plum jam.



I had to try it right away on a slice of sourdough toast. Success! The texture and thickness is perfect and it didn't take much time or effort at all.


The plum jam turned out so good that I immediately made a small batch of fig jam using Marissa's suggested addition of fresh thyme. Another one for the record books. I love making jam.

I headed to Costco today to buy more plums and snagged the last box. I'm making more plum jam today.

Instapot Plum Jam with Star Anise

2 pounds Italian plums, remove pits and chop into chunks
1-1/2 cups/300 grams granulated sugar  (next time I would cut back on the sugar a little)
3 Star Anise

Have ready 3 pint jars with lids and rims that have been sterilized in boiling water. Prepare a boiling water bath for processing.

Place chopped plums and sugar in the Instapot. Mix and allow to sit for an hour for the sugar to liquefy a bit. Add the three star anise pieces.
Turn the Instapot to the saute setting and bring this mixture up to boiling. When it is boiling, place the lid carefully on the pot and turn off the pot. Immediately set the pot to HIGH pressure and set the timer for 2 minutes. 
When the 2 minutes is up, turn off pot and allow the pressure to release naturally. When pressure has released, carefully remove the lid and set the pot to saute again. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to prevent the jam from scorching and cook until jam is thick; a spatula dragged through the jam should leave a line and the jam should not rush in to fill the space.

Pour jam into three sterilized jam jars. Place lids on jars, screw on rims and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars carefully, allow to cool and check that lids have sealed. 

YIELD: 3 pint jars

FYI: I attempted to make another batch of the Plum Jam using three pounds of plums and it did not turn out to be as easy as it was with only two pounds. I think there was too much liquid. I do not know enough about the Instapot to know why this happened, but be warned to stick to only using two pounds of fruit.


Instapot Fig Jam with Thyme

2 pounds fresh figs (I use brown turkey figs from my tree), chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large ribbons of lemon peel
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Follow directions above.

YIELD: 3 pint jars

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Baby Shower for Lauren

Last Saturday I hosted a baby shower for my son and daughter-in-law. It was a beautiful afternoon to gather with friends and family and shower the parents-to-be and their expected little girl.

My friend, Michele, has a flower design business, so when I am running short on time or ideas I call on her to make the floral arrangements. The "E" stands for the baby's name, Ellison.




The guests were a delightful mix of family, my friends and Evan and Lauren's girlfriends. 

To make it easy on myself I had the shower at a restaurant instead of our home. This also insured that I would be able to completely enjoy myself and my guests.


To combine party favors and dessert I ordered large, decorated sugar cookies and cupcakes from a local bakery. By not making these myself, I sacrificed taste but gained cuteness. These sweet treats were so cute and well received.





This baby girl is going to be welcomed in style. She received so many useful and beautiful gifts.




I started this flowering snowball quilt in May 2016, long before Lauren and Evan were even expecting. With each stitch I said a prayer that their prayers would be answered and they would soon become pregnant. In February, when we found out they were expecting, I kept on praying that the baby would be a girl, so that we would have an even number of girl and boy grandchildren. In May our prayers were answered, once again. Baby Ellison Grey is due mid-October.


I also made the cutest little outfit consisting of a bubble romper, shoes and bib. The fabric by Art Gallery Fabrics is perfect for a baby girl. The pattern can be found on the Upcraft Club website. It is the Carly Bubble Romper.




The matching shoes were surprisingly easy to make. I followed a tutorial on Pinterest. 


There are lots of tutorials for making baby bibs on Pinterest. I used this one.


For the BIG gift, we purchased their stroller from the gift registry. This thing is the Cadillac of strollers. I look forward to pushing the baby on a walk through the neighborhood in this stroller.


I like games at showers. I like games in general. No one plays games anymore. We played two easy games. For one of the prizes I made this cute coin purse. This little squirrel was just begging to be made into a coin purse. This is the UR Priceless Coin Purse. I can't seem to find the link anymore. 


My sister captured the majority of the photos of the afternoon. She did this pretty edit of the mom to be.

I'm sure Lauren is like any expectant mom...she will be ogling all her pretty, new gifts as she gets ready to hold and love their new baby girl. We can't wait to meet her and hold her.







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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fly...a Stitch Tease Bee Quilt

I put the finishing touches on last year's Stitch Tease Bee quilt. I love it so much! 
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The color story is so pretty; navy, aqua, citron, yellow and white is what I asked for and it turned out even better than I envisioned. I asked my bee mates to make 3"x6" finished flying geese and sew them together in groups of 2, 3 or 4. Each bee member  made 16 flying geese and I made the rest for a total of 240.


When it came time to arrange the geese I wanted some geese going all in one direction, horizontally and the others going every which way. I think by spacing the blocks with either white geese or white backgrounds evenly throughout the quilt helped to keep the eye moving all over the quilt, making for a very satisfactory arrangement.


I thought I would always quilt it with straight lines, but after all the blocks were sewn together I knew that straight lines was the right choice. Quilting with the built-in walking foot on the Bernina 820 is pretty easy and I was lucky not to have many thread breaks this time. 


I used a total of seven different threads, in 40wt. and 50 wt. to quilt the straight lines. I even tried to use a 12wt. thread, but my machine did not like it. As you can see the majority of the thread I used was Aurifil. I also used  Aurifil 50 wt. thread to pieced the quilt.


Spacing the quilting lines about 1/2 inch apart, vertically, took a very long time to complete. I had to limit my time at the machine to keep my shoulders from getting really sore. I quilted it with straight lines through every horizontal row, too, but not as densely.




The backing is an IKEA duvet cover. I like using duvet covers as backings. They are very economical, seeing as how you get enough fabric to back two quilts from one duvet cover. This particular duvet cover was made of the yellow on white print on one side and white on yellow print on the other side.




Martha usually likes to claim all the new quilts for herself. This time she posed next to the quilt instead of on top of the quilt.


The binding is a Dear Stella Dress Stripe in aqua. I sometimes switch between using 2-1/2" strips or 2-1/4" strips to make my bindings. This time I used 2-1/2" strips. Finishing the binding by hand is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt and is a nice and relaxing thing to do in the evening, while I watch television.


This quilt finishes at 60" x 72" .

Thank you to my Stitch Tease Bee buddies (Instagram names)
Susan @canadianabroad
Hadley @mrsflyingblind
Jennifer @knottedthread

Valerie @valbetweenquilts
Cindy @cindylou327
Trina @trina_peterson
Kari @kjarchows
Nicky @nickyeglinton
Dianne @quiltova
Agnieszka @tusenskoena
Annabella @bellazeiddar