Monday, December 26, 2016

A Pinterest Christmas

Well, Christmas is over, and tomorrow is the big return to work. I can't believe how quickly it came, and then it was over. It was really a great couple of weeks. I went home to Tennessee for a couple of days and made Christmas dinner a couple of times. And I found a couple of new recipes to add to the Christmas rotation....the first, was an easier recipe for Christmas Crack, my Mom used to make a version of this when I was a kid that took forever to make. This Pinterest version is simple quick and easy. I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. 

4 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar

Melt these together over medium heat. Cook until it gets frothy/foamy/bubbly and turns a dark amber in color. Turn on your oven at 350 degrees.

While it is cooking, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and crackers, yes crackers. I made a couple of batches trying different crackers, and I really like the Club crackers the best, but really, any will do. 

Once your caramel is ready, pour it over the crackers. 

Now, throw it back in the oven until it is bubbly. About 5 minutes.

After it comes out of the oven, sprinkle 2 cups of chocolate chips. I used bittersweet Ghiradelli, because it was what I had in the pantry, but semi-sweet or milk will work just as well. I threw the pan back into the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate, and then spread it around.

Now, throw on whatever you want.....walnuts, pecans, almonds, even butterfinger pieces. And throw it in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden. 

Now break it up into pieces and enjoy!

And now, I need to go find some leftovers so I don't inhale the rest of the pan. See you later this week.


Friday, December 9, 2016

What's the Technique of the Month (TOM)?

This is probably the most often asked question that I get when teaching....what is it and how does it work???

Basically, the TOM is designed to be a monthly "installment" program to learn all of the Judy techniques. Each of the TOMs have a couple of new techniques and over time you learn them all.
The patterns are only available to Certified Shops and Certified Instructors, so you are guaranteed to have a certified person teaching, and to be certified on the quilt they have to have made it, ensuring competence and knowledge of the pattern.

Currently, there are 4 TOM quilts : Glacier Star (2010), Mariner's Compass (2012), Paradise in Blooms(2014), and Vintage Rose(2016).  Each offers different techniques to build upon.

Glacier Star is basic paper piecing, with geese, and an intro to curved piecing. Glacier Star is based upon a Lone Star and has a few Y seams, but don't worry, they aren't too hard.

Mariner's Compass introduces smaller piecing (in the ropes) and becomes a basic octagonal shape, with 8 "pie pieces". It has an interesting assembly technique which makes it fun, and there several different components that have alternate assembly sets, to completely customize your quilt.

Paradise in Blooms is part of the leaf series, with 8 sections and creates a master "circle" before adding borders to make it into a queen sized square. The quilt introduces Judy's appliqué techniques, including in seam appliqué.

Vintage Rose is the newest TOM, and will be available in January. It combines the best of prismatic star, curved feathers, and curved fans. I am still working on my sample of this one, but will be done in time for classes starting in February. For now, this one is in process, so you'll have to settle for an in process photo....

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pattern Focus : Feathered Goose

Feathered Goose is one of my favorite patterns, even though it was definitely not my best work. You see it all started about 10 years ago, and it is the reason that I am a Quiltworx Instructor today. You see, Feathered Goose was almost the end of my quilting career.  My Mom picked the Feathered Goose as her "retirement gift". I had never done paper piecing before, but I was sure that I could figure it out. I was also confident that the 6 week window before her retirement party was more than sufficient to finish it. That was 2007. And I was completely wrong. I didn't finish it until August 2010. I spent three years trying to figure it out and working on it off and on, so when Judy came to Camp Watch A Patcher in LA in late July 2010, I signed up for class, and in a mere 3 days I was hooked. I went to Montana a month later, and by the following August (2011), I had made 10 Judy quilts and applied to be an instructor. Needless to say, Feathered Goose was the beginning of my Quiltworx obsession. It was also the first QW pattern that I ever taught. Only later did I realize that was probably not the best intro, since it didn't have all of the short cut techniques that we have now.

Just to add insult to injury, this pattern is no longer available. That's right, it was discontinued about 3 year ago. Up until last year, I had a few copies available, and still taught it rather regularly. But I haven't taught it in 2 years. I know it will come back eventually, with some redesigns to take advantage of the new techniques that have been developed over the last 6 or 7 years. Eventually it will have floating points, and smart corners and all of those things that Quiltworx has developed in the last few years to make paper piecing easier. In the meantime, I just have to take a look back at some of the ones that have been done by students and remember how much I love this pattern.

My original, made with 24 batik Fat Quarters and 3 yards of a 1895-Honey by Hoffman. 

Vicki made her's very similar to my original color scheme.

Lorna made her's, but instead of using a dark navy/black ringer, she chose orange, and it is really striking.

This one was made as a gift for a favorite sister who has a love affair with purple. She used every shade of purple, from lilac to plum, and all types of fabric. Batiks, small prints, large prints, even solids. To ensure that the ropes would show she made sure to only use that fabric in the ropes themselves ensuring that they would not blend into the triangles. Love It!!! 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dec 1 Flylady update

So, It's Day 4 of Flylady, and the first day of December, so we are heading off to The Entrance, Front Door and Dining Room. According to the schedule I am supposed to find my FlySpot and hope it is something good. My FLyspot (the first thing you notice when you walk in the room) is a pile of unfiled papers. So, I spent 15 minutes filing, and didn't make a perceivable dent. So, I'll do another 15 minutes on that one tomorrow.

My ace of this month's Flylady is that the Monthly Challenge, which is meal planning, and I already do that, since I cook for 5, and I HATE SHOPPING. yes, I hate all types of shopping, unless there is fibre (re: fabric, yarn, etc) involved. And with 5 people and crazy schedules, planning is key. I usually do a couple of crock pot meals a week (for nights when I will get home late or not be home at all), and we always have at least one leftover night. Other than that it's really about ensuring that everyone gets one of their favorites each week, and that we don't copy too many things too often. For example, this week we had the following :

Monday : Spaghetti with Sausage - favorite
Tuesday: Mandarin Chicken - new recipe
Wednesday: Taco Salad - favorite, tweaked recipe
Thursday: Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese - new recipe
Friday : Leftovers Night - obvious
Saturday : Crockpot Beef and Broccoli - favorite
Sunday: Crockpot Chili - new recipe

I have about a dozen regular dishes that are favorites that I try to have once a month, plus a left over night each week, leaves 14ish days of trying something new each month. Sometimes those are good (or even great), and sometimes, we all agree that they are destined to never be repeated. Thank goodness we don't have a lot of things that only 1 or 2 people like (or love) so I am not stuck appeasing or cooking multiple dinners. If we like the dish, I'll put it in a special folder in my Pinterest , so that we can repeat it (like the pork and pears we had last week) to verify results, and then if we like it twice we will rate it and add it to a remakes list. I have about 50 items that are in the remakes, but not in favorites. Remakes are constantly under revamping. I am constantly tweaking/changing/adjusting until it ends up in favorites. I Pin recipes all the time, and we generally try something new two or three times a week, for example, the chili recipe this week is a white chili that I've never made before, and the taco salad was made with homemade taco seasoning mix, so even things on the favorites list occasionally get revamped, even if all we do is prove that our existing menus are still our favorites. Of course, I also have some seasonal recipes, like carrot and cardamon soup or mandarin chicken salad. I don't make much soup in the summer, and I don't eat many salads in winter.  Next week's menu is going to be full of new stuff, as we tend to try more new stuff in the winter than the summer. I think that is mainly because I am home earlier. With it getting dark so early, there is no evening dog park visit or long walks after dark. We do them early am, or immediately upon getting home, so I am literally in the house more, and my favorite room is the kitchen. So, next week is full of new we are testing some recipes with some friends...

Monday - Baked Salmon with lemon and dill (new recipe, generally a new food, not big on fish)
Tuesday - Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Wednesday - Chicken and Orchetti soup (fancy chicken minestrone)
Thursday - Crescent Ham Slice
Friday - Mississippi CrockPot Roast
Saturday - Make your own pizza night (friends with kids over)
Sunday - Meatloaf

I will finish planning out the rest of the month tomorrow, as it's clean out the freezer night. when I literally go through the freezer and inventory all the weird things we collect. Like waffles. Seriously, I don't know who buys all the frozen waffles, but they seem to multiple in the freezer.

Tomorrow's daily challenge is to repeat the FlySpot challenge, and I will have a couple of extra minutes, so I might do a 27 Fling Boogie in the dining room. I will have to take some time to pack for the weekend, and get everything ready to be away for the weekend (sort out the dog, pay the bills, etc, etc, etc).

I have found the last couple of days of working on FLyLady to be really productive. There is something about coming home and working on things while you watch TV, or while you wait for something that makes it more exciting. As a result, I felt inspired to get into the sewing room. I  managed to get some sewing done today, not a lot, but enough that I feel like I am making progress on my placemats. I'm ready for final assembly, but I wanted to test the layout in good lighting, so I will finish that in the morning and then sew them tomorrow evening, right after I do my Flylady chores.

Flylady Day 1

Well, Flylady Day 1 was yesterday, and I managed to get my first baby steps done. The sink was spotless when I went to bed. And half full when I got up this morning.



Today is day 2, and I couldn't figure out exactly what I was supposed to do as my baby step, since this is the 5th week of the month, and the plan only has 4 weeks, so I scrubbed the shower in my 15 minute daily block. Not sure what tomorrow should be either, so I am going to do the 27 fling boogie. Basically, I am going to declutter 27 items. I have 24 hours to figure out where to start. 

Thursday, I'll be on the "regular" schedule, since it's week 1 of December. Let's not talk about that fact just yet....