Monday, June 27, 2011

Hand-quilting Jane Brocket Style

Not too long ago, Rita of Red Pepper Quilts, referred to Jane Brocket’s, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking , in one of her posts and, as I was on a putting-things-on-hold-at-the-library kick, I added it to my queue.

When I received it last week, I quickly flipped through admiring the bold, color-rich, floral explosion of Jane’s quilts and then got down to reading. I love the way this book is set up with a story behind each quilt. Jane finds her inspiration in her garden, in beautiful dresses, in hammocks and beach huts, and then makes these wonderfully simple yet intensely colored quilts. If you want to quilt, but are afraid it’s too difficult or that you have to be too precise, read this book. Jane’s keep it simple, keep it fun approach to quilting is very refreshing if you spend most of your time drooling over intricately pieced, delicately stitched quilts. 

While I can admit, I hope with no offense to Jane, that I prefer fewer floral prints and more negative space in my quilts, I was quite inspired by her hand-quilting technique. She keeps it so simple by quilting with colorful thread in 2-3 mm stitches instead of fussing over the more accepted tiny pin-prick stitches of more traditional hand-quilting. She actually made me want to try it. And on top of that, she usually just does linear quilting, pretty much in the same way I’ve done my machine quilting in the past. So guess what, for better or worse, I’m going to try it on my Modern Meadow quilt. I was a bit nervous at first since I have in mind that I want to post this one on Etsy and I’m not sure whether hand-quilting will make it more or less desirable. I’d appreciate your input. But really, it can’t hurt too much to try, right? I need to be willing to push myself into new territories if I want to grow and learn. So I’m going with two different colors (the obvious pink and green) and am going to get right to work. Anyways, after a few rows of quilting, I love the way the stitching pops and it makes it look even more cute and summery than before. My stitches aren't perfect yet, but for a first attempt, I think it's turning out beautifully. I'm so excited to see it all finished!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Berry Modern Meadow Quilt Progress

I've been down and out this week recovering from minor surgery, but that meant I was home all week and was able to get a little bit of quilting done. But on Sunday, after I was really feeling better, I put a border on my quilt top and made my back panel. I'm excited to get quilting on this one. I just love the pattern and the fabrics of this quilt. It's so fresh and just screams summer. Mmmm...watermelon...

Does anyone else get attached to their quilts? I'm not sure I'll want to sell this one.

This quilt will be my largest so far measuring 50" x 66". I hope my little Brother machine can handle it!

Updates to come.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Well, there goes my motivation...

I've been working on a quilt, really, I have (see proof below)!

But I'm realizing that quilting is not a summer sport. At least not for me. Our house is old and very drafty and, well, we don't have AC. *Gasp* I know. It's our own doing. I think in some sick sense we like to "rough it". Don't worry, we don't have any kids so no one needs to call the authorities. However, our house does get quite warm, to say the least, and our bedroom my awesome quilting studio just happens to be one of the hottest rooms in the house. Therefore, when I finally scrap together the few bits of energy that the heat or other busyness of the day haven't sucked away, I end up sweating it out over my sewing machine hoping that it doesn't overheat. And don't get me started on ironing! Phew! So, as I said, quilting, I'm realizing, is not for summertime. I'm okay with that. I've been wanting to try my hand at pillows, clothes, and a few other small projects. But now there is a less-than-half-finished quilt staring me down every night when I get into bed. I'm going to finish this before my summer hiatus. I pushed myself a bit today to get something done on it and sashing was up next. I got them all cut and sewed them together in one long strip. Then on to sewing them to my long-hexagon strips. First one done and pressed and...

...well, that doesn't look right does it?

*Poof* There goes my motivation. I packed up for the night. Decided to write a blog post instead (makes me feel like I'm still being productive) and will later watch a movie with my darling husband and my seam ripper. Curse you, tiny stitches! (Anyone seen Despicable Me? Love the scene with the tiny toilet! Does that mean I like potty humor?)

Anyways, if anyone finds my motivation, please send it my way. Much obliged.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lentil Burgers: Why I love my husband

There are, of course, many reasons why I love my husband, but here's one close to the top of the list...He almost never complains about what I set before him for dinner. Definitely, there are things that are not at the top of his food-love list, but if I spend time making him dinner, he's always appreciative. There is only one time that comes to mind when I felt I really disappointed him and that's when, in a rush, I basically made him a plate of dry noodles. Little irks him more than dry, bland food. After all, he was raised on his mama's Korean home cooking, full of spice and drunk with flavor.

That being said, lentils, quinoa, and couscous are not high on his favorites list. He tolerates them well and sometimes even likes them, but he would definitely take a good hunk of meat over any of my vegetarian dishes. Fair enough. But when I stumbled upon Heidi's lentil burgers featured on her health-guru blog, 101 Cookbooks, I thought I'd give them a try.

When my husband sat at the table, I probably should have told him right off that these weren't beef burgers, or my more typical bison burgers, but I just let him take a bite.

Hey, this isn't meat!

That was his first response. But after the first disappointing/confusing bite, he warmed up to them. He finished up his vegetarian burger by saying that this was a particularly nice way to prepare lentils. So I think that's the green light to make more in the future. Hooray! I also really enjoyed them and was surprised at how good and flavorful these burgers were. The texture is definitely different, but perhaps similar to a falafel. Topped with some fresh basil and spinach from my garden, a few slices of avocado and a dollop of lemony goat cheese, these little burgers really hit the spot on this very hot summer day.

Lentil Burgers
Source: 101 Cookbooks
makes 10-12 burgers

3 cups cooked black or French lentils (this is probably 1-1.5 cups dry lentils)
1/2 t. fine sea salt
4 eggs
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
1 T. olive oil

Pulse the lentils, salt and eggs in a food processor until mixed, but still somewhat chunky. Move the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the onion and bread crumbs. Begin to heat your pan over medium low heat while the bread crumbs absorb some moisture.

Add the oil to your preheated pans and then form burgers about 1 inch thick. Cook on one side for about 7 minutes and check to make sure you don't burn them (I did the first time). Once browned, flip and cook the other side for 7-10 minutes until cooked through. Top them with whatever you have around. I used spinach, basil, avocado, and softened goat cheese mixed with some lemon juice.

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to tell your husband before he takes his first bite. But it does look like meat. Maybe he won't notice?