Thursday, April 14, 2016

Foodie Friday (just a little early!)

I know that tomorrow is technically Friday ;)  but I made this last week and couldn't wait any longer to share it with you!  It was healthy and delicious!

Another one of my Make It Tonight dinners from Fine Cooking. This was a spinach salad with shrimp, avocado, oranges and pistachios. The Scotch in the upper left hand corner was strictly for the cook, not part of the recipe!

Brought a pot of water to a boil, salted it lightly and added the shrimp until they were just barely pink.

Put the spinach in a big stainless bowl with the sectioned oranges (I used Cuties that I had on hand) and the cubed avocado, then tossed it with -- you guessed it if you've been reading this very long, the Girard's Light Champagne dressing that I use on practically everything salad-like.

After the salad was plated, a sprinkling of the shelled pistachios (Dan did all the shelling while he was drinking his scotch -- we all have our chores around here) finished it up. The blending of the tastes was excellent, the dish was easy and quick to make, and I would definitely make this again!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Generation Q Magazine

Just got my Spring 2016 issues of Generation Q Magazine and, as always, couldn’t wait to leaf through it!

The first thing I always do is find my ad!  I have advertised in every single issue of Generation Q and am proud to say that I also contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that helped fund and market the first print issue.  Jake Finch, Publisher, is a close friend and I was happy to support her effort from the very beginning.  Then when I actually held print issues in my hands and was able to read all of the quilty, snarky, fun content, my happiness cup just ran over!  This is not a snobby, serious magazine – it’s modern, humorous and did I say snarky?

There are always lots of projects to sew as well as product reviews, book reviews, lots of snippets about different quilters, and a cocktail recipe.  This issue’s is La Sarta (the seamstress) containing Campari, orange bitters, bitter lemon soda and ice.  Looks yummy…and I know I have a bottle of Campari around here somewhere as I like to occasionally drink it with soda….but I digress….

They always have great articles and instructions for things that kids can sew.  Let’s face it – we need a new generation of quilters coming up behind us to carry the torch.  These projects are fun, fast, and encourage young people to make things that they want to make and will enjoy using.

I always love reading “I am genq” which features a quilt artist in their environment and shares their story. 

And I want (translation: am in serious lust!) his sewing room!  Look at how organized his fabric collection is --- and how neatly displayed!  It looks like a quilt store; I’m, like, SO impressed!  Actually being able to find a fabric by looking in one place?  Astonishing!

I’ve seen GenQ in quilt stores, but it is also available by subscription.  Or if you’d like to try an issue for free, I have 8 copies to give away!  Sign up for our email list HERE... the first 8 signups get a free magazine!

Happy reading!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cindy Needham Retreat in Auburn CA

If Cindy isn't making rounds, or "blessings" as she calls the walkarounds she does to see what we all are doing and to offer help and suggestions, this is what we see of her -- as much as we can see in the reflection of her machine light! I met Cindy a few years ago when she was teaching a two day design workshop at the Ridgecrest CA quilt guild. I took that class, then a couple more in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, then a couple of retreats at the Mercy Retreat Center in Auburn. All of my previous work has been quilting, but I relaxed a little this time and brought a couple of piecing projects.

The retreat is set up with plenty of room; these tables in the front are higher and usually have cutting mats on them. Cindy had just set up to do a mini-workshop explaining the use of her ultimate stencils and the transparencies that can be used with them. I've used the ultimate stencils as well as the ultimate backgrounds and they are an awesome tool! To find out more about their use as well as how to make a set your own, visit her website.  Her retreats take place both in Auburn CA and  McCloud CA.  The 2016 and 2017 retreats are full however interested quilters are encouraged to put their names on the wait lists for any retreats they'd love to attend... plans change and cancellations occur!

There was daily show and share with some very nice quilts being brought to share. I never get as many pictures as I want of this type of thing because people always walk to the front of the room, hold it open for almost enough time to get the camera to my face and then close it up and walk away. Talk a little longer, people!

This beautiful guild raffle quilt was displayed and I'm sure every one of us bought tickets! This was several years in the making and is just stunning. I stood there for about 20 minutes, following the blocks around the quilt and thinking about how the trees looked in each month. I would never do this much work, but sure enjoyed looking at it!

I got the final three borders on the quilt that has been laid out on my work tables for weeks, so happy to have that done...

And I started working on this modern quilt -- when I went to QuiltCon in February, almost every single quilt was made up all of solids, so I decided to try one. The "A" blocks are the bear paw style blocks with the pinwheel in the center and the "B" blocks are the flying geese blocks. I spent all of one day making the components for the "A" blocks; the next morning, pack up day, I got a couple of blocks done so I could see what it was going to look like. I've sewed on it a little bit this week, so the remaining "A" blocks are to the point where the white strips are all on, waiting for all the little triangles to be sewn together.

Cindy is such an inspiring quilter! I have a Pinterest board devoted to her work; to see it, click here!

You might also like My Annual Cindy Needham Fix or  My Designs Workshop with Cindy Needham!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Kwik Klip

Basting your quilt is such an important step in making sure your finished quilt is flat without wrinkles or puckers on the front of the quilt or the back. The first thing to insure a flat quilt is to totally immobilize the back of the quilt before you lay the batting and quilt top on it. To do that, I use two 30” x 96” tables pushed together to give me a total basting surface of 60” by 96”. I secure the quilt back, wrong side up, to my tables by using office binder clips (there are also clips specifically made for this use available in quilt shops) all the way around the edges of the tables, making sure the quilt back is taut, but not stretched. To do this, you will need about 3 dozen 2” clips to secure the back about every 12”. If my quilt back- ing is smaller than the surface of my tables, I secure two or three edges (depending on the size of the quilt back) with the clips and the other edge(s) with masking tape.

Basting with safety pins has become the accepted way to get your quilt ready for machine quilting. Thread basting is not strong enough to hold the layers together through the machine without shifting and the thread can also get caught on the toes of your presser foot, creating puckers in your work.

I've been using the Kwik Klip for many years to help with my pin basting.  I have one in my travel kit that I use when I do demonstrations and another at home for when I pin up a quilt.  The one I use at home has all the printing worn off because it's been used so much!

One of the things we learn as kids is to hold tools in our dominant hands, so using the Kwik Klip was a little counterintuitive for me.  I'm right handed and I hold the Kwik Klip tool in my left hand, leaving my right hand free to manipulate the pins.

Here's a quick, well, clip to show you how to use it.

Visit my website for more tips!!

Happy pinning!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fluff & Stuff Demo

A quick demo of my Fluff & Stuff technique!  This is how you get those big quilts through your domestic sewing machine!  I hope to see you at one of my Fluff & Stuff events this year!   Click HERE for a list of event locations.

Happy fluffing!


Friday, April 1, 2016

For Those Who, Like Us, Love Fish!

This is another recipe/dinner from the subscription to Fine Cooking's Make It Tonight. I liked every single thing on the menu this week and I'm home for a couple of weeks, so will probably make them all! Tonight's dinner was Almond-Crusted Halibut, although I sort of play hard and fast with recipes depending on what I have in the pantry. I didn't have almonds, but I had hazelnut meal, so that will work, right? Along with that recipe was a recommended side dish of Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon, making use of the more than sufficient cauliflower purchase that was on the menu/shopping list for later in the week.

Since fish cooks quickly, I started with the cauliflower. Used half a head and cut it up into bite sized pieces, then sprinkled with lemon olive oil from Pasolivo (my very favorite olive oil maker located in Paso Robles CA) and Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. This roasts in a 475 degree oven for 20 minutes, so I set a timer for 10 minutes, thinking I would stir it then, and started on the fish prep.

The recipe called for halibut that was to be dipped in seasoned flour, beaten egg, and teensy bits of almond. I used the aforementioned hazelnuts from Bob's Red Mill -- made the whole thing faster and simpler. There is also a bit of lemon rind grated into the nuts.

So did the whole dipping thing and put them on the pan to rest. If I had been thinking about it, I probably would have done this step an hour or so earlier and then put the pan in the refrigerator so that the coating would set. Then I wouldn't have had fingerprints in the coating later when I picked up the fish to sauté it. I guess I was thinking about eating, not photography!

It looked awesome when I flipped it, fingerprints notwithstanding! I go by the 10 minutes per inch rule for fish; this was just under an inch, so sautéed it for 5 minutes on the first side and 4 on the second; it was perfect! That rule works whether you're sautéing, broiling, roasting, simple!

Cauliflower after roasting....then tossed with a little lemon juice and some lemon zest.

To serve, put a little bit of baby field greens tossed with Girard's Light Champagne salad dressing on the plate with the fish on top and the cauliflower on the side. Nice glass of Shiraz.....ahhhhh......

If you're in the mood for a fishy quilt project, check out my seaweed feathers!!

The 10 minutes per inch rule worked again! It was done perfectly!

New to cooking fish?  Check out Secrets to Cooking Fish: Eight Essential Techniques.  It's on sale through my affiliate link!

If you cook something amazing, post pics!!!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Got My New Copy of Block Magazine Today!

Last September I taught at Linda Z's in Chicago -- so much fun and such great people to work with! But this trip had a very expensive side effect. I stayed with my friend Carol and she had a whole stack of Block magazines from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I started reading, couldn't stop, set up an account and subscribed to the magazine as well as ordering all the back copies. And then the daily deals started coming in my inbox and some of them were irresistible -- do you see a looming train wreck here?

This is the magazine that just arrived. As soon as I get it, I have to sit right down and look at all the pretty pictures and decide which is the quilt that I just may have to make. There were probably three or four that caught my eye, but I definitely had a favorite!

In the book, this is called Studio Star. The traditional block used in this quilt is my very favorite in the whole world! All of the traditional blocks seem to have more than one name, but I know this block as Sister's Choice and it's the block I used in one of my quilts.

Make Mine Neapolitan is my spring/summer nap quilt; I quilted it with a silk blend batting so that it's very light, yet still really shows off all of the feathers that I quilted. My inspiration for making it was that Alex Anderson asked me to make a quilt to be photographed for her book from C&T Publishing called "Neutral Essentials". I sort of had a mental problem with making a quilt entirely in beiges, creams, tans, etc., so I sprinkled pieces of pink fabrics throughout the quilt -- that's what made the name Make Mine Neapolitan work just perfectly!

If you have also become a Missouri Star addict and have a copy of the magazine, you'll find the pattern right there. If not, you could always subscribe and get it or, if you love this quilt as much as I do but don't have access to the mag, you could buy the pattern for Make Mine Neapolitan through my website. Or you could look up the Sister's Choice block, grab a jelly roll and some background fabric, and start sewing!

I love that the Missouri Star version calls for a jelly roll; Make Mine Neapolitan has about 100 fabrics in it and calls for 4-5/8 yards assorted neutral prints for blocks, all of which were cut into 2-1/2" squares. The pattern back does say that you could use "rolls of 2-1/2" strips available at some quilt stores" -- this makes me laugh now that we can get them absolutely everywhere! I wrote this pattern in 2007; shopping for quilt fabric has certainly changed since then!

I love pre-cuts and have some all ready to go with background fabric, patterns, border fabric -- in other words, an assembled quilt kit. I'll be home for about a week and a half and am hoping to get some sewing time in.

Do you like pre-cuts? What's your favorite -- jelly rolls, honey buns, layer cakes, charm packs? Would you be willing to share some pictures of some quilts you've made from pre-cuts? There may be a prize involved.....

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tips & Tricks: Marking Designs on Your Quilts

Tuesday Tips & Tricks!  Today I want to tell you how I mark designs on my quilts.  I've done this for a long time and have pretty much perfected my methods!!  Most of the time, I use the Wonder Markers by Collins to mark quilting designs onto my quilts. These are a bright blue water soluble marker that is easy to see on all light fabrics and some mediums (turquoise and greens being exceptions). 

For dark fabrics, I use either a Nonce pencil or the white pencil made by Quilters Resource. These don’t remove as easily as the blue marker, but they do have their place as you can’t quilt what you can’t see. 

Occasionally, I have had luck with the old fashioned sliver of soap, but you really can’t do too intricate a design with that; it does work well to mark straight lines, such as crosshatching, or subtle curves. Forget it if you have your heart set on feathers!

Another marking tool that works well for designs that are not too fussy is the Pounce Pad. It looks like a chalkboard eraser. It has an opening on the back (with a little plug) that you fill with a chalk powder (that now comes in PINK too!!!).  To use it on dark fabrics, place place a stencil on your fabric. You can then “pounce” lightly and the chalk sifts through the pad and through the channels of your stencil to leave a distinct, easily removable design on your fabric. When I use this, I mark one block at a time and then brush the chalk away after stitching.
I am a total stencil “junkie”! I can’t draw, so I depend on stencils for the design elements of the quilts I stitch. I look for stencils everywhere I go — quilt shows, new shops when I travel, ads in backs of quilting magazines. I used to also cut my own from plastic until I found Golden Threads Quilting Paper. It is a gold colored paper that comes in various widths (I have been using the 12”). You can trace a design on it and then stitch through the paper. The paper tears away easily from your quilt top and doesn’t tear your stitches. Also, if you want multiple copies of a design, you can stack up several sheets of the paper, draw your design on the top sheet and “needlepunch” the whole stack with an unthreaded machine. What a timesaver!

I hope this helps you mark your quilts a little easier and gives you some new ideas!!
For more tips, visit my website.
Happy quilting!!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Giveaway Winners!!

Thanks to everyone who visited during the Quilt Qwazy Queens Blog Hop!!  It's so fun to read your comments and kind of get to "meet" you!  I had two giveaways going on... a gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop and a Quilty Box full of English Paper Piecing goodies.  

Drumroll please.......

Cecilia Y. is the winner of the Fat Quarter Shop gift certificate!!!

Tonia from All Thingz Sewn wins the Quilty Box!!! (Check out her blog... it's wonderful!!)

Congrats to you both and we'll be contacting you to get your info!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

If You've Ever Wanted to Buy a Craftsy Class...

Forget spring cleaning –– spring shopping is much more fun, especially when the sale is this good! Shake off the winter blues and kickstart a season chock-full of creativity with 50% off ALL Craftsy classes!!  Plus, hundreds of best-selling classes are only $19.99 –– but both deals end soon! 

Every single class is on sale for 50% off so if you've ever wanted to buy a Craftsy Class, now is the time!!

Click HERE to shop through my affiliate link!