Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm going to be a Farmer's Wife!

No, Bear hasn't given up becoming a full-time Lutheran pastor. No, we aren't moving and buying 50 acres. (Although that would be lovely!)
I've sipped the tainted kool-aid, I've jumped off the deep end, I've begun something for which I should have my head examined.

With all I have going on in my life; 5 kids in the midst of 5 grade levels of homeschooling, the numerous--like 25--projects already in UFO status, I've begun another.

I'm participating in the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along, FWQAL. The flickr group currently has 962 members.  Sounds mildly cultish to me.

It may take me years, but I'll plug along.  Following the winding path, walking toward the light, and
stitching long hours into the night when I should be doing other things.

My sister, Silver, made me this precious binder cover for which I shall store my secret stash of templates and instructions. Oh, and since these are all templates, I'll be working on this as a carry-along, handstitching project.

Just shoot me now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ties That Bind is finished

Last year when my father-in-law, Pop died I knew I wanted to create something out of his shirts.  He was such an amazing influence on us as a married couple.  I lived with Pop and Nana while Bear was in basic training and Gadget boy was only 2.

I learned to love my in-laws very much during that time and respect who they became in my life.

Pop was such a frugal man. He regularly shopped at yard sales, but brought home only what he knew he could use.  He regularly repurposed items--old wood, old tools, wooden handles, etc.  Tape, wire and staples were what held much of his surroundings together. 

So when I thought about how I would recreate a quilt memorial in his honor, scrappy became the method.

Nana, Bear and I stood near his closet as we pulled clothes out and scanned them all.  His shirts were plaids, beiges, yellows--homespun and earthy--just like he was.  I took a dozen shirts and about as many ties. 

On the way home from our visit, I cut apart his shirts and pulled off buttons.  The ties sat forlorn in the bottom of the bag.

Frankly, they scared me. 

Cotton is easy to sew with, and I can handle the occasional double-knit polyester "snuggle quilt." I recently even made a cute baby quilt out of t-shirt knits.  But slippery ties in silky fabric, that have been cut on the bias and pulled, folded, and tied for years didn't seem that easy. So they sat.

I eventually started taking them apart--if I did it carefully, I could just pull one string and the chain stitching would unravel. I pressed, and folded and then they sat in a small container on the top shelf of the sewing room closet for a few more months.

Meanwhile I worked on the quilt for Nana.  She needed to feel the comfort of a quilt around her shoulders. Her quilt was finished in time for her birthday, in February the following year.  Her quilt can be seen here.

Recently Nana said that Jane has been feeling really overwhelmed and reclusive.  I think she is just now beginning to grieve after a year.  Grief can be a difficult thing to deal with and if we don't allow ourselves to properly deal with loss, it can trip us up and make other areas in our life fall apart.

Bear went back home to help Nana with some winterizing and he suggested that it was time for Jane to have something tangible to help with her grief. 

I felt also that I was now better equipped to tackle the tricky job of all those slippery fabrics.

I adhered them to lightweight interfacing and cut them into strips.  I pieced them on top of rectangles of old phone book pages and made strippy blocks. 

I ran out of blocks before I had it big enough so I searched through my Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville-books and came up with an appropriate border to use. The rick-rack border on this quilt seemed to fit the style of Pop's quilt.  After looking at it for a while it reminds me more of the lattice that covers the covered patio in their backyard.  I think it's an appropriate design element.
The final border is also a criss-cross pattern that reminds me of the sunshine and shadow patterns around the patio.

It is quilted with hearts and swirls to "wrap arms of love" around my dear sister-in-law. The border is the same feathered flower that I quilted on Nana's quilt.  Poppa loved to garden and flowers and feathers remind me of him.

I can't wait until she sees it at Christmas time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crock pot recipe review: Saucy Apricot Chicken

This has got to be the Easiest. Recipe. Ever.
One 6 pound package of frozen chicken
One jar of apricot, (I used peach) jam
One package of onion soup mix, Knorr or Lipton, (I actually used a Tastefully Simple package of Onion, Onion mix from my friend Denise.)

Dump the chicken in the crock pot, shake the soup mix over it all evenly, and warm up the jam and pour over the mixture.  Cook on low 4-5 hours. 

I'm turning mine on high for an hour or so and then turning it down because my chicken is frozen.

I'll announce the verdict later....

I was curious to find that the jam did not stay gelatinous.  It completely liquefied as it cooked in, under and through the chicken.
I lifted the chicken out carefully and poured the remaining sauce into a pan and thickened it with about 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch.  I poured just a bit of it over the chicken to glaze it.
The verdict:
Bear said nothing, which is typical.  Gadget boy loved it, true to form. (He won't complain about any meal. He knows better.) Miss Busy and Chels at it up and asked for seconds. Ace devoured his, as did Boo.  Robby didn't eat it, well because the snack of a PB&J still lingered in his tummy.

We served this with frozen peas, canned corn and saffron rice.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sewing up a storm...

I've been "occupying" my sewing room a lot these days and getting projects accomplished.

I have an old mason jar full of slips of paper that I pull each time I finish up a UFO.  Each piece of paper has an unfinished project on it.  When I pull a paper, I must work on that project until it's finished.  Sometimes that is a joy, sometimes, it's a real pain, but discipline is good.

I have to purchase a few things for the latest one I pulled, and there will be a post on that later, it's possibly the ugliest quilt EVER! But it will be loved, and worn, and drug around, and that's what quilting is all about.  Making something wonderful for someone you love. 

Just a little hint about what's coming soon...

Polyester and fur. Oh my!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I was country, when country wasn't cool.

Barbara Mandrell and I have something in common.

No, it isn't the perky blonde hair, it's not the flannels shirts, and it's not that we are both fans of Roy Rogers.

The thing we have in common is that we've both been "something" when that "something" wasn't cool.

There is a trend today on the blogs that I read to be "all vintage!" and "back to basics."
I've done that for years, folks.

I don't need Food in Jars or Creative Canning to tell me how to process and can our harvest.

I don't need Passionate Homemaking to tell me the benefits of baby wearing. I just did it. 

I made my own baby sling and wore my last five babies until I could no longer empty the dishwasher without fear of them toppling out of the sling and into the dishes. I did it because "hands free" is practical.  When I could set the baby down, believe me, I did. 

I have always done homemade crafts for gifts. Like these and these and these. Seriously, people, I did these in 1985!

I'm so vintage it stinks! I regularly press my sheets on an "very vintage" 1940's Ironrite named Irene.

I even have a vintage Ironrite charm bracelet to wear while I press.

I have a vintage Kenmore sewing machine,

and a sad-iron that I use for a bookend.

Even a vintage potato masher that I used just last night.

I guess I am trendy!
 I'm so cool, it just oozes from every pore. It's just that I don't blog/brag about it, so nobody knows just how cool I am. (Don't you think those two words often have the same meaning?)

I've been making scrap quilts since the 80's too.  Not because scrappy was cool, but because we were poor college students and I could only afford to cut up fabric from the leftovers of a more necessary project.  And we need a pretty bed covering to keep us warm.

I've been wearing aprons all my married life too.  Oh, aren't they so cute and homemaker-ish?
Yes, they are. And practical.  And I'm all about practical.

Does that make me trendy? If you say so.

So I guess I'll just continue to be trendy, and practical, and so very vintage! I may or may not blog about it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

June Cleaver and Barbara Mandrell have nothing on me.

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