Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Once again it has been a busy week for me. I managed to link up last week so once again I am going to try to link this up with Lee at Freshly Pieced and her WIP Wednesday post.

The "biggest" thing that I have been working on is a baby quilt for my "Sister In Law's" baby that is due in May or so. I say "SIL" because it is my husband's stepbrother's significant other. "SIL" is close enough. "Biggest" because it is the priority and has gotten the most time but isn't actually the largest.

A couple of weeks ago I did up this top in one Saturday. I have never managed to do this before with children around but I guess I am getting faster or the kids are getting a bit more self sufficient or whatever. Anyway, she is expecting a girl so I did up this quick "Yellow Brick Road" pattern with girl fabric that I had actually originally gotten for Brianna but never got made. She's six now and doesn't really need a crib quilt anymore and I needed a top quick so "SIL" is getting it. Now, because the fabric is pushing seven years old I couldn't tell you what it is but I liked it when I bought it! I backed it with the dotty pink minke and was talked into a poly batting by my LQS.

I really like how soft the whole thing turned out. I may be convinced to use poly batting for baby quilts from now on. We'll see. There just isn't the stiffness that a new cotton batting gives which is great for a longer term quilt or a bed quilt but I kind of like that the baby quilt is soft right away. I like that better for a baby.

I also took my very first Learn to Longarm class so this quilt was done with a stipple Panto by ME on a Longarm. Now, I have to admit that I will never again use a panto to stipple a quilt. Not because it was hard or turned out badly or anything, just that it should be easy enough to stipple free hand once I do the freehand classes. But I did learn how to load it on the machine, run the machine, the whole works. I can now do any panto on any quilt so it was a win.

It is still a WIP to me because I now have to buy something to bind it in and get that part done but I like binding so that's okay. I'll post a Finish It Up Friday post when I get it all done.

I have also been working some more on my HSTs for the two twin quilts from last week but didn't bother with pictures for that one.

My third WIP is my Storm At Sea Quilt. This one is eventually for my sister. This is another one that doesn't have an exact pattern for it. I liked the SAS pattern and made all the blocks with Foundation Piecing. This one is another that is about two years in the making. I now have it all put together and the papers all off the back. I want to put some borders on it but am having to figure it out as I go. I don't know what I want to do, just that I want borders. I am thinking a small red and then bigger blue. But a pieced blue? Piano keys? I don't know. I'll bind in red too.

I love the red heart in the middle. I love the optical illusion of the waves. This one was on my Bucket List and even though I won't be keeping it, still love that I made it.  


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Make It Monday - Baked Beef Pasta Casserole

So, I have to assume that if you are here then, like me, you love to quilt. Thing is, life sometimes gets in the way of our quilting. One of the "life things" that gets in the way of my quilting every single day is feeding the seemingly bottomless pits I call my family.

I love my family and want to feed them good, healthy, tasty food that they all want to just gobble up with zero complaints (I said I want this, not that I actually expect to get ALL of that every day but I try). You know what else? I want lots of time to quilt too. These two wants can be in direct opposition without a bit of fairly easy planning and a deep freezer - the appliance this time, not our weather since I woke up to -35C out this morning. Yes, green dot day again.

I am going to try "Make It Monday" posts to combat this issue. So, if I post a recipe here, I have figured out some way for that recipe to make it easier for me to quilt with peace of mind.

This week I went with something simple but, being new at this, forgot to take a picture before I served up some of it. My son wanted to know just why I was taking pictures of supper.

Baked Beef Pasta Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb whole grain rotini pasta, cooked and drained
1 small onion, diced
2 small cans tomato paste
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 tbsp. instant beef bouillon
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350C. sauté ground beef and onion in large saucepan, stirring occasionally until beef is no longer pink.

Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and beef bouillon. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until flavours are blended.

Layer ingredients as follows in an ungreased 9x13" baking dish: 1/2 pasta, 1/2 sauce and 1/2 cheese. Repeat layers and cover. Bake for 45 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

So, how does this help me quilt? Well, a few ways.

One thing, I could do up all of the work first thing in the morning while I am doing other things. So, while my children are eating breakfast I could be also getting the water boiling on the pasta and getting the meat and onion cooked, all while multi-tasking the children out the door. Even if I don't multi-task very well, I can still get all of this complete after I get home from dropping the kids off at school, get everything in the casserole dish and in the fridge and no more thoughts of dinner until I start getting ready to go get the kids. I can turn on the oven at 3:00, pop the casserole in and by the time we are back and ready to eat it, everything is ready to go.

Another thing that I could do, is double, triple or quadruple the recipe. For the most part, this adds very little time. Cooking three or four pounds of beef doesn't take much more time than cooking one pound does but, cooking one pound of beef on four different days takes much more time. Cleaning one slightly larger pan doesn't take much longer than cleaning one smaller pan and so on for each step.

For preparation, I cook everything like the original but then let everything cool and then instead of layering the ingredients I just mix it all together, including about 2/3ish of the mozza. I then put about 1.5 pounds or so into a medium sized freezer Ziploc. I remove all of the air and freeze it flat. This amount is good for my two children with very little left over when my husband is out of town. If I am using the frozen food when more people are there I just pull out more bags and everything else is the same.

On a day I am using my homemade convenience food, all I have to do is pull out a freezer bag in the morning, I peel the bag off immediately and put the "puck" into a bowl to thaw. Later in the day I can finish thawing in the microwave, put the pasta mixture into a small casserole, sprinkle with a bit of cheese, place into oven like original and I have a home cooked meal for the kids with the effort of convenience food! Love it. More quilting time for me!

All right, still figuring out this blogging thing so Make It Monday went up on Tuesday. Hopefully I get better at this and next weeks actually goes up on Monday!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Well, I've decided to get going with this blog and jump in with WIP Wednesday. I'm going to try to link this up with Lee at Freshly Pieced

It's been a long winter here. As far north as we are, winters here kind of suck. It's cold, very snowy and seems to last forever. There's so much of it that it has to be really bad for school to cancel due to winter weather. The schools have "Green Dot Days" where they attach green dots to all the doors and the kids are to come straight in and all of the recesses are indoors. The schools do this when the temperature and wind chill combine to -23C or colder.

We've had ALOT of "Green Dot Days" this year. I haven't counted but it feels like half of our school days have been Dot Days. It sucks for everyone. The kids get cabin fever, it's hard on the teachers and it's hard when the kids come home to keep them entertained and not arguing.

Add to that piles of snow and I am so ready for spring. We get an average of 132cm of snow per winter and this year we are WELL above the yearly average. Right is a picture from our second floor. It's hard to see but some of the piles are four and five feet tall. Blech. Also, this is the middle of the morning so this is as bright as it got today. More snow expected every day this week.

So, because of all this, quilting is my happy place. Great pictures are hard to get with our short, grey days but I'll do the best I can. 

My dearest, most wonderful husband gave me gift certificates to my LQS for Christmas from himself and our children. Is that not the best husband ever? I sure think so. The bright pretty colours of my fabric are the second prettiest thing in my day. Once in a while Mother Nature gives us a blue sky. The rest of the time I count first on my wonderful family to make me smile. Quilting comes second but what could be better than my family making me feel so loved?

I haven't used all my gift certificates yet but I did get a bunch of twenty inch cuts of coloured fabrics. And by a bunch, I mean 68! I also got a ton of white on white. Since then I have made almost 3,000 HSTs. Each HST finishes at two inches. I know, I am a crazy lady. When everything is said and done, I will end up with two twin sized quilts. That's my current major WIP.

I am taking the HSTs that I made, combining them into patches using 16 HSTs each using the ideas from Camille Roskelley as well as a few more that weren't on her list. I will then sash them with two inch squares organized I don't know how yet. The final design isn't there yet. It's kind of in my head and still a work in progress.


I have also been working on the "Don't Look Now" applique quilt "Little Monsters". Only I changed it up a bit and have been doing it as much as possible with freezer paper hand applique. Yeah, still a crazy lady.

My LQS laughingly and lovingly refers to me as the crazy quilt lady because of my love of BIG and complicated quilts. That's okay. There are worse things to be crazy about than quilts.

Now that I have posted and edited a ton of times, hopefully I have an easier time with my next post. Things don't seem to post live the way they look as I'm typing it up. Oh well, with practice I assume this will get easier and better.