Saturday, November 17, 2012

29+ yards of fabric for the stash!

Lots of fabric

Apparantly there are Facebook groups where people buy, sell and trade in local areas.  My friend signed me up for one and then noticed a posting for fabric and tagged me.  I'm so grateful!  I met the lady at a nearby grocery store and bought the tote with all the fabric for $50.  After I sorted it out I had about 29 yards of fabric in sizes from .25 - 5.5 yards PLUS a bunch of scrap fabrics.  This is a GREAT way to build the stash.  :)

.25 - 1.5 yard pieces
Scrap pieces
Hawaiian scraps
Specialty scraps
3.25 - 5.5 yard pieces

I call her Stella

Free-Westinghouse vintage sewing machine
Daryl is so good to me.  He's always been supportive of my hobbies.  When I got into photography, he joined me in taking pictures - even getting into it himself.  I haven't been able to convince him of how much fun sewing is... yet.  He is always on the lookout for cool stuff.  Turns out Daryl and his friend have been trawling Craigslist and thrift shops looking for vintage sewing items and he came across this Free-Westinghouse machine in a cabinet.  She works and is in pretty darn good condition.  The seller thinks she is from the 1940's but there's no way to know for sure.  So, I thought Stella was a good name for that time period.  She even came with what looks like all the feet included originally.
Free-Westinghouse vintage sewing machine accessories

Free-Westinghouse vintage sewing machine and cabinetFree-Westinghouse vintage sewing machine cabinet

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chicken Corn Chowder

There isn't a lot to say about this, except YUM.  It was perfect on a cool fall evening.  I started it at 4:00 and dinner was ready by about 5:30 so it can be done on a weeknight.  I used meat pulled from a Costco rotisserie chicken.  This is going on the regular rotation!

5 slices bacon
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
3-4 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups frozen corn
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
large handful baby red potatoes
1 cup cream
1 cup shredded cheese
2 Tbsp mascarpone cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a porcelain coated dutch oven (or large pot) until crisp, remove to paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Drain fat from pot; add olive oil, butter, carrot and onion and sweat until soft... about 5 minutes.  Add flour, thyme, cayenne and turmeric - cook about 2 minutes.  Add stock, corn, chicken and potatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Add cream, both cheeses and salt/pepper, cook about 5 minutes over low heat.  Don't cook at too high of a temperature, or for too long, or the cream might 'break'.

This is a slight variation of Cuisine at Home's Cheese and Corn Chowder in the Soups, Stews and Chilies cookbook.

~ Enjoy ~

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dresden Plate Pillow #1

Dresden Plate in 5 different reds and 5 differents tans and creamsRecently I joined a new forum, Quilting Board, after lurking around it for awhile.  There are so many great ideas from such talented people!  This is where I discovered the magnificent Dresden Plate.  The person made theirs as a table topper, and many people make quilts with Dresden Plates.

My friend's middle daughter recently moved into her own place so I wanted to make her a housewarming gift.  I decided a decorative pillow would be best.  Really nice ones are expensive, and can be hard to find in just the right colors.  I was having trouble deciding on a pattern for the pillow - until I saw the Dresden.  Right away I knew what I'd be doing.  I consulted my friend about what colors Aimee is decorating with, and went to work collecting fabrics.

This is so much fun, and using the Easy Dresden Tool it looks much harder than it is.  I'm now going to make Dresden pillows for myself and maybe even make a matching Dresden pillow with my quilts!  Maybe.

My first attempt at pillows a few years ago didn't go well, so I've been afraid to make them ever since.  The actual construction of the pillow, and closing it, went really well this time.  But ... I still learned a good lesson.  If using black fabric - line it!  The pillow fibers poke through and against the black fabric you can see every one of them.  A lint roller didn't pull them out, neither did duct tape!  I started pulling them out - one by one.  Then, a single piece turned into a few pieces, and as I kept pulling the wad of batting was getting larger, making it harder to pull out until I ended up with a hole. 

I took the Dresden Plate off the pillow and started over, this time lining the black with muslin.  Worked like a charm.  Since I had to piece the backing fabric from 3 strips, I ran a line of decorative stitching along each seam.  I put a thin strip of fusible interfacing behind the seams to give it some rigidity while doing the topstitching of the leaves.  I have a new quilting love/addiction..........
Click to enlarge image
~ Enjoy ~

Monday, November 5, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf w/Balsamic Glaze

When I met Daryl, he wouldn't eat meatloaf.  I love meatloaf, but I went without.  I didn't want to make a whole loaf just for me!  We used to get Schwan's food delivery, and one of their frozen products was individual meatloaf portions.  It wasn't the same.  I would get Lean Cuisine meatloaf meals, but again - just not the same as pulling one out of the oven.  We watch Bobby Flay's "Throwdown" show and one of the challenges a few years ago was meatloaf.  Bobby's version looked so good, even Daryl commented on it.  I immediately went out to find the recipe.  Success!  He likes it!!

Tonight my house smells like comfort food.  I made the Bobby Flay Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf w/Balsamic Glaze recipe and paired it with mashed sweet potatoes and corn.  I boiled one potato, chopped, in salted water until soft - about 15 minutes.  I warmed 1/4 cup half and half, and put 1.5 Tbls butter in the mixer bowl.  Using the paddle I mixed the butter and potato until it started to mash, then added the half and half.  After that I added a teaspoon sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and some fresh ground nutmeg.  Mix it in and serve.

The only way I've changed Bobby's recipe is that I use whatever vegetables I have.  I try to make sure it's about the same amount.  Typically what I have on hand is carrot, onion, garlic and red bell pepper. 

~ Enjoy ~

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Sausage

Butternut Squash Soup with Sausage
It's Soup Sunday!  In years past, I always made soups that Daryl would eat... which meant there were a lot of recipes I didn't get to try.  I've decided to change that.  Now and again I am going to start making something I want, even if he won't eat it.  I started today. 

This recipe is from Cuisine at Home's Soups, Stews, and Chilies cookbook.  I followed the recipe exact, except I substituted one seasoning.  It was terrific!  But .... I want to change it.  I'm going to post the recipe as I will make it next time:

1 pkg thin sliced pancetta
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1.5 pounds)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup diced bell pepper (and/or diced carrot)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. brandy
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh ground nutmeg

Cook pancetta in a cast iron dutch oven (or heavy bottomed pot) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil until crispy.  Remove to paper towel lined plate, set aside.  Sweat onion in leftover grease with the other Tbsp olive oil, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic 1/2 way through.  Increase heat, add squash and pepper flakes, saute 5 minutes.  Stir in broth and water, bring to a boil and simmer until squash is very soft, about 10 minutes.  Puree soup with an immersion blender (or standard blender, in batches), then add bell pepper and/or carrot, cream, thyme and sugar.  Simmer until bell pepper and/or carrot are tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in brandy and simmer about 2 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper
Top with crumbled pancetta and fresh nutmeg.

The original recipe calls for italian sausage (instead of pancetta), sage (instead of thyme), and adding spinach at the end.  The spinach didn't do a lot for me - so I wouldn't buy it special for this recipe.  The original doesn't suggest nutmeg at the end, but I don't know why not -- it's fabulous!

I made this soup for lunch today, and liked it so much I had another serving for dinner with a grilled cheese (made with homemade crusty bread).  Now that's a good Sunday Supper!

~ Enjoy ~

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hiking or Sewing?

After a few days of rain, we had a nice break in the weather with dry conditions and mild temps.  After I got off work today we left to hike the Iron Goat Trail near Stevens Pass.  This area is rich in history.  It once thrived as a rail line from Everett, WA to Minneapolis, MN.  The winters are very harsh here causing snow blockages across the tracks and avalanches.  I'll let you read the link above for more information. 

Anyway - there's an upper and lower section to this trail, with a big climb on switchbacks between them.  I'd forgotten how steep and long that climb was.  Honestly, I thought it was miserable.  Finally we crested and it was all downhill from there back to the car.  Phew.  It was during this part of the hike I thought, "why am I here?  I should be home sewing.  I want to be sewing!"  Is it bad that instead of being out in nature, getting some exercise and spending quality time with my family, I was wishing I could be at home in my sewing room?

Fortunately, once I was past that hard part - I truly enjoyed every minute of the rest of the hike and I'm glad I went.  Though - I still would have enjoyed working on some projects.  Oh well, that's what football Sunday is for.  :)