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.


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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Alfresco Dinner Party

Mr. Romance and I have always enjoyed entertaining Alfresco style. My favorite thing is to come up with a menu, pare it with good wine and good friends and sit outside enjoying a lovely summer night.
I came up with the menu and then started building the guest list, which included dear friends and family.

I bought a simple bouquet from the grocery store, added the green hydrangeas from the garden and some basil flowers, put it all in a basket and it became the perfect centerpiece. Not much more was needed since the backyard was used as the main focal point.

It was a coincidence that the water glasses matched the flowers.

Large dinner plates and mismatched salad bowls created a casual look to a long, dining area.

We started with appetizers and aperitifs inside, because it was still too warm to be outside in the hot sun. These cheese plates are some of my favorite specialty plates that I own. 

Our "signature cocktail" for the evening was a Negroni. This delicious, Italian inspired cocktail, couldn't be easier to make and it is so good.

for each serving use:
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Vermouth Rosso
Mix and pour over an ice ball. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
I made a small pitcher of these drinks ahead of time and then poured them as needed when the guests arrived.

It was nice to be able to serve some of our garden tomatoes and basil in the Caprese salad. Our garden has not been the best this year but it has still produced more tomatoes than we can eat. 

These are some of the wines we enjoyed with dinner and dessert.

Luckily my sister made a few photos because once everyone arrived I forgot to make any photographic memories.

Great conversation was enjoyed throughout the evening.

My re-creation of a dessert we had fifteen years ago in Northern California turned out just like the original. It consisted of Humbolt Fog goat cheese, Sage honey with honeycomb, pistachios, candied pecans and Raincoat crisps with cranberry and hazelnuts. The cheese combined with figs was the last course, after the Molten Lava cakes, ice cream and whipped cream. 
Molten Lava cakes are so easy to make and everyone likes them.

Molten Lava Cake
makes 4 servings
4-4 ounce ramekins
4 oz. good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
4 oz. butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting the ramekins

Melt butter. Add chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until light and thick, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture and the 2 teaspoons flour to the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Beat until combined.
Butter and lightly flour the ramekins, taking care not to miss any spots. Tap out the extra flour.
Divide the batter evenly into the ramekins. (At this point you can refrigerate them for up to three hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
When ready to bake preheat the oven to 450'F. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the cakes have puffed up slightly and can still jiggle when shaken, about 7-9 minutes (better to under bake than over bake). Let sit for 1 minute.
To serve, carefully put a plate on top of each ramekin and invert the cake onto the plate. Let sit for a few seconds before removing the mold. Serve immediately, sprinkled with powdered sugar, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

Thanks to my sister for snapping this photo, so Paul and I could both be in it. 

I'm not going to lie, entertaining is a lot of work. Paul worked for three days getting the yard in tip top shape and I shopped in no fewer than 6 grocery stores and specialty markets, cooked and prepped for three days, and did dishes for 2 hours the day after the party (hand washing 35 glasses!). This was all in addition to our granddaughter and her friend helping us the night of the party with last minute cooking, serving, clearing of dishes and washing dishes...all while keeping Martha Stewart Labradoodle happily entertained.

It's all worth it to spend time with great people on a warm summer night.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


My blog posts have gotten fewer and farther between in the last year, but recently I was reminded of why I started a blog in the first place. I began my blog as a way to document my creative life and family life,  to keep a permanent record of everything in one place. I began sharing my blog with you fantastic readers in September of 2010. 
The Instagram takeover has reduced my blog posts significantly, but I really want to get back to this form of record keeping. I cannot tell you how many times I refer to my blog for a recipe or a photo.

So here I go again. I'm going to attempt to do a little catch up post today.

Over the July 4th holiday we were able to have all our kids and grand kids together for a few days. When your family totals nineteen members, it is not an easy task to get them all together. As the grandchildren get older, they have more and more activities that keep them occupied elsewhere. 
We had a big beach get together on July 3rd. This photo was taken after one grandson took ill and he and his mom left to go rest at our house. 

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our beach party.

We celebrated two June and three July birthdays. 

Believe it or not, this was the first time we have had all nine of our grandchildren together, since Valko was born in January. There was always an illness or conflicting schedule that kept someone missing from our last few gatherings. How is it possible that our two eldest grandchildren are nearly adults? With our tenth (a girl) expected mid-October, we will round out the count at girls 5/boys 5!

Creatively, I have been extremely busy, mostly keeping up with my two bees and finishing quilts that were started a while ago. The quilts I will share soon. But here are the bee blocks I have made recently.
These blocks are for Rebecca in the Stitch Tease bee. She is making a cutting garden quilt and asked us to make the "sprout" portion of the blocks. You can find the full pattern for sale by Krista of  Poppyprint blog. 

Also for Stitch Tease bee are these blocks for Jennifer. The tutorial for these Dutch Treat blocks can be found on the Aurifil website.



It was my month to be queen bee in the Stash Sewciety bee for June. I asked for a twelve inch star block and four six inch blocks,  all of the maker's choice. My colors are lemon, watermelon, cantaloupe, light and medium blues. I'm hoping to make a happy picnic quilt. The blocks have been arriving and they are fantastic. These are the blocks I made to get the ball rolling.


Also for Stash Sewciety are these blocks for our July queen, Lisa. She gave us free reign to make what we wanted for her following these hints: beach, sunsets, sewing, cake and coffee,  vintage Pyrex, her black lab, and pineapples. I really had fun making my contributions.

I finished a dottie pouch for a friend. I made several of these a few years ago from a wonderful tutorial by Lee of  May Chappell.

One last "family" note; I lost a part of my extended family and life long friend, in June. I asked Pat to be my second dad when my dad died in 2000. He filled all the voids in my life when I needed a shoulder to cry on or some advise. I will miss him dearly. He lived a long, good 96 years. He will be forever in my heart. Here he is with the quilt I made him in 2015.

Pat Askay 1921-2017