Sunday, December 30, 2012

Easy Street, step 5 and other show & tell

This past week brought some wonderful time to relax and also for part of the time, sew like a fiend!  I finished step 5 of Bonnie's Easy Street mystery:
And I also finished two quilts as gifts, which can now be shown because they've been given.  Both are made from blocks I swapped with SewManySwaps.  First up is batik Jacob's Ladder:

Next up are these fun pinwheels made out of Kaffe (Fassett) and friends. 

I also snapped these pics the other day of the Minglewood top that I finished just before Thanksgiving.  It's a shop sample, so is hanging there and waiting for it's turn for Eula to quilt it. I still couldn't get it all in even two pics, but when it's quilted, I'll find a way.

Finishing up the year on a quilting roll feels good!  Have you checked some things off your to-do list lately?  What's up for you next year?

Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

When one of my sister's and I visited our great-aunt Millie over Thanksgiving, her friend Joan brought over a delicious carrot cake.  I asked for the recipe and made it as our contribution for Christmas Dinner with hubby's family.  It came out great - so moist and delicious!  Carrot cake has always been one of my favorites, but I thought it seemed like a lot of work so had never tried it.  Buying already shredded carrots makes this easy!  (Shhh...I won't tell if you don't tell!)

Tropical Carrot Cake

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each baking soda and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each salt, nutmeg and allspice
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/4 cups oil
2 cups finely shredded raw carrots
1 8 oz can crushed pinapple, drained (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Stir together flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice; set aside.  In large bowl, beat eggs slightly.  Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is thick and lemon-colored. With rubber spatula gradually stir in oil.  Add flour mixture, carrots, pineapple, nuts and coconut; stir until well mixed. Divide among 3 greased, floured 9-inch layer pans or into greased, floured 13x9 pan.  (I used a tube pan.)  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven, 35 mins for layers, 55-60 minutes for sheet cake or tube pan, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans at least 10 mins, then turn out on racks to finish cooling.

Let cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar
2 8oz pkgs cream cheese (I used neufchatel cheese), at room temp
1/2 cup butter, at room temp
4 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to frost cake.

I had leftover carrots and frosting (and no more cake!), so made these muffins.  They're yummy warm, so don't know if they'll make it til they cool to use up the leftover frosting! lol

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

A friend of mine asked me to please post more of my crockpot recipes.  She knows I'm the queen of the crockpot, and like me, she'd rather be sewing than cooking! lol  So here goes the hands' down favorite at our house:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

In the morning:

Put three large (or four if they’re small) frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot with a box of chicken broth.  I set my crock pot on “auto-shift” which cooks on high for a while, then shifts down to low some time during the day.

In the evening:

Cut up the chicken.  Add one large or two small cans of Mexican style corn, a can of Mexican style black beans and a can of Mexican style diced tomatoes.  Drain the beans, but leave the tomato & corn juices from the can.  If you like thicker soup, you could drain the tomatoes and corn and/or add a can of tomato paste.  Cook for another hour or so.

Serve with salsa, cheese, sour cream, fritos, etc. – whatever you like.  Watch it disappear before your very eyes!
Enjoy & thanks for stopping by!
P.S. I'd like to add a recipe tab to the top of my blog.  Can someone please tell me how?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Easy Street, parts 3 & 4

Merry Christmas!  I hope your holiday was wonderful. :)  Mine was!  And among the festivities I managed to squeeze in some sewing time.  Once all the have-to's were off my list, I was eager to get back to my big want-to: Bonnie's Easy Street mystery!  (Tab in side bar to right.)

All along I've stayed current on the cutting, but I finished sewing steps 3 and 4 over the weekend.  Here are my shaded four-patches from step 3.

And here are my flying geese from step 4, sewn together with some of the step 2 geese.

I've gotten a start on Step 5, and since Bonnie blessed us with a nice short step for this busy week, I shouldn't have any problem being caught up in time for the next installment, to be released this Friday.

Are you participating?  How are you coming with it?  I love all the parts, so it's hard to imagine that they won't look great in blocks.  I've done a little rearranging of parts to guess the layout, but who knows?  There are so many possible combinations.  Ooohhh, I love a good mystery!  Thanks, Bonnie! See how others are coming along with Bonnie's linky here.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas (Suffering at Christmastime)

Christmas cards aren't going to happen this year, so here's my e-greeting to you. :)

I am so blessed, and have so much to be grateful for. The love of God and of friends and family are at the top of that list.  Thank you for the role you play in my life.

But my heart is heavy this year.  I have several friends who are in various stages of dealing with cancer.  Other friends have experienced traumatic loss in the past year, times of trials in their lives or the lives of loved ones, or are going through a hard time, but haven't shared with me what.  And surely we all hurt for the families in Newtown, CT as well as those who have suffered other tragic events in the US and around the world.  Whatever the reasons, all are in my thoughts and prayers more than ever right now as I know this will be a difficult Christmas for them.

Suffering isn't something I'm an expert on.  I've had my trials like everyone else, but I feel so fortunate not to have experienced many of the things that these friends, loved ones and strangers are suffering.  Also, many are far more eloquent than I could ever hope to be.  So here are the thoughts of one of our pastors on Newtown, CT as spoken in a children's sermon.  Here are excellent words of advice if you have a friend who is sick.  Here are the words of a friend getting real about his feelings toward his own cancer like I'd never heard from anyone before.  And here is a beautiful Christmas carol I hope you'll enjoy.

And here's my humble attempt to put words to feelings. This morning as I was sewing, listening to Christmas carols and sipping hot chocolate, I should have been happy but I was also hurting for these people.  Then the DJ mentioned Romans 4:19-21 (from The Message)

19 Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, "It's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child." Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up. 20 He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, 21 sure that God would make good on what he had said. 

The DJ summed it up this way: anxiety comes from comparing our reality to our own abilities.  Faith comes from comparing our reality to God's abilities.  He wrapped it up with Philippians 4:13 (also from The Message).

13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.  

I hope this time of year brings you peace, joy and hope.  But even if you're struggling to find peace or joy right now, I pray that you will hold on to God's promises.  No matter what else you have or don't have, we can all have hope!  Praise God.

Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas,
P.S. Here's one more carol, if you want to hear it. :)

East Street, step 2

There hasn't been much sewing going on around here lately.  But today I was able to sit and sew for a little while...ahhhh!!!! :)  At the top of my sewing list is Bonnie's current mystery, Easy Street (badge in side bar to the right).  Step 5 was released today, but I've only stayed caught up with the cutting.  So today, I sewed!  And step 2 is now complete.  Woo hoo!
Here are my flying geese, along with parts 3 and 4 all kitted up and ready to sew.  Below is part 1, in case you haven't seen them. The hot pink is in place of Bonnie's gray.  Otherwise I'm using her colors.
Yes, it's a busy time of year for many folks, but I hope you're finding time to do something just for you!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bitten by the Bug

Many of my friends have antique sewing machines.  Some collect them and have "several".  I always thought that was cool, but never had any desire for one of my own.  I like my shiny new Bernina with it's smooth hum and all the modern conveniences.  Until I visited my great-aunt Millie and saw my great-grandmother, Granny Gwinn's, sewing machine!  I did some research and found out it's a Singer 15 clone made in Japan in the 50's or 60's.  The badge says "Dressmaker".  It sits in an old Singer treadle cabinet with the treadle cut out to make room for the foot pedal.  The chrome and shiny powder blue is sleek and reminiscent of cars from the 50's.  You can almost imagine fins!

We have one family quilt, which I am honored to be the custodian of and it was made by Granny Gwinn.  It's probably from the 30's, so not made on that machine, but the thrill of seeing her machine and picturing her sewing there led me to start looking at vintage machines on the market.  Craigslist led me to a machine a short drive away.  An experienced machine collector friend went with me to look at it.  It didn't run but I bought it for $45 and her husband re-wired it for me.  Mark and I cleaned it up, and it's good as new, with a wonderful hum all it's own!

Please meet Virgie (named after Granny Gwinn), a 1937 Singer 201.  Here are some before and after pics:

 Love that fancy scrollwork on the end!

She sits in a pretty art-deco style cabinet that looks great in our dining room/entry way.  I found an owner's manual online and got it threaded and sewing.  The tension isn't right yet, and I'm not sure I even have it threaded right.  But I'll have fun figuring it out and remembering Granny Gwinn. :)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Homemade Hot Chocolate

It's been unseasonably warm during the day here lately.  (Hooray!  I'm in no hurry for winter!)  But the evenings still cool down, and on a cool fall or winter evening, nothing warms me up like hot chocolate.  I decided to look for a homemade hot chocolate recipe and found two that looked good here and here. (That second site is full of all sorts of evil temptation!  The chocolate chip cookie dough fudge is on my list for making for a party this weekend.)  I sort of combined the two recipes and came up with a mix that was ok, but a little bitter.  So I added more powdered sugar, and the second time was the charm! :)

Here's what I ended up with:

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa
3 cups instant non-fat dry milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Fill mug about 1/3 full of mix and stir in hot water. Store mix in an airtight container.

Yummm!  Do you have a good homemade hot chocolate mix?  If so, please share!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mystery sewing

This weekend I found some time to sew, and had a lot of fun getting some things done!  First, I finished step 1 of Bonnie's new mystery, Easy Street. Hot pink is my constant instead of her gray, but otherwise I'm going with her colors.

Next, I powered through Orca Bay (last year's mystery that I started this summer) step 1 and got it finished.

Finally, I got all the cutting done for Easy Street part 1.  These instructions were released on Friday.  I've just barely started sewing it.
It will be so fun to see how everything comes together!  Check out how others are coming along with Easy Street here.

Thanks for stopping by!