Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Cannot Begin to Tell You . . .

how boring my life has become. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Here are two. You'll be very glad I spared you an additional 1,879 boring words.

This is the pile of Thimbleberries scraps remaining on the Sweat Shop floor. Up until tonight, getting past that pile was a little like a cross between pole vaulting and doing the long jump.

Over 800 5" charm squares so far. I still have the scraps on the floor, a bag of red scraps, and a bag of mostly brown scraps to cut up.

If I don't post tomorrow night, it's because I have even less to say. And someone might want to come take my rotary cutter away from me before I get crazy. Just sayin'.

Monday, January 30, 2012

And On and On . . . .

Another day spent in the Sweat Shop. I guess it's better than cleaning the house . . . although that needs to be done too!

I spent all of today cutting Thimbleberries scraps into usable pieces so I can fit the rest into the Thimbleberries scrap drawer. In the meantime, the Sweat Shop still looks like a bomb exploded in there, and walking around can be hazardous.

I've uploaded a few more things to my Etsy shop--please visit to see what's there--there might just be a treasure waiting for you! Besides the things I've decided I need to let go, I uploaded a couple of spring patterns and kits. You can click over to the shop through the link in the sidebar.

Now for the winners of giveaways I posted the other day. If I announce you won, please email me your mailing address and remind me which group you won, and I'll get your "prize" in the mail to you in the next couple days.

Group A: Janet. Janet said, "Choices choices ... I'll toss my hat into the ring for group A - I've been into cheddar lately! Dang, that was tough! Thanks for the opportunity!"

Group B: Sandie. Sandie said, "Oh my goodness, you know I love Thimbleberries! Group B is calling me because I know I have those patterns! Thanks for the chance!"

Group C: CarrieBeeCrafts, who said "I would love to be entered in Group C! Pretty border :) P.S. I understand the chair cover is not included in the giveaway, but I couldn't help but mention how cute it is!" (My response: Thanks! I made it several years ago to cover torn upholstery on a chair that's still wonderful otherwise. And it's washable and reversible.)

Group D: Wanda. Wanda said, "Wow! Thank you for thinking of us. I want to make this easy. I love several. To try to pick is hard but I would love to have the gadgets if you pick me. Thank you again."

Group E: Dianne, who said, "grrr! blogger is eating comments again... Group E ... i LOVE Group E!!! does that make me a groupie?"

Group F: Josie. Josie said, "Again with the reds in group F! Love the red and Aqua!!!"

Group G: Phyllis, who said, "Love all the groupings but group G is calling to me. I thank you."

Congrats to the winners! And for those of you who didn't win, I have a couple more things coming up soon. And remember: To claim your win, you must come back here and email me--I won't get in touch with you. If I don't hear from any of the winners by late Thursday, I'll pick a second place winner from those who have entered.

I'd better get back to the Sweat Shop--it's not going to clean itself, and since I'm not the only quilter in Blogland cleaning out her quilt domain, I think the Quiltmaker's Elves must be busy helping someone else. At any rate, they sure haven't visited me so far, but there's always tonight, I suppose.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Somebody's Gotta Do It

Oh, my! I spent all day Saturday, from the time I woke up until well into Sunday (note how late I'm writing this post!) mucking out the Sweat Shop. A person can only go so long before a BIG reorganization effort is required, and as you know, that time had come. But I really, REALLY didn't expect it to take as much time as it's taking.

On the bright side--for YOU anyway--I've found a couple more things to give away in the future. And also on the bright side--for you and me, maybe?--I've found several things to list in my Etsy shop. Remember I mentioned that I thought I'd sell some of my Thimbleberries things that were taking up space and that I'd never get around to using/making? Well, they're there now. Click on over to see what I've listed--quite a few fat quarter groupings but also a couple kits and some non-Thimbleberries things too. (Click HERE.) Yes, I know--shameless promotion. But I really need to get some things moved out because my space is limited--and I could probably make a small fortune selling my Thimbleberries fabric and still not notice I'd made much of a dent in my "supplies."

Over the years, I've "collected" swapped blocks and half-finished projects, and I'm oddly excited about finally taking stock and coming up with a PLAN. I've written down what I have along those lines, and I'm going to type them (well, not THEM, exactly, but a name and description) onto paper strips and draw a strip each month. Whatever project I draw is the quilt top I need to finish that month. Many of these projects will only take a few evenings or a weekend at most to finish. I'm thinking about doing the same thing with getting my basket of quilt tops quilted, but I'm not quite to the point where I can organize those yet.

I can see that I'll need to spend a few more hours in the Sweat Shop on Sunday before it's in order, so I'd best get myself to bed for a little sleep. "See" you tomorrow!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Parts is Parts

What better way to party on a Friday night than to clean out drawers stuffed with rejected blocks, quilt parts, and leftovers? I've gathered up some of the pieces I thought might still be useable for something or another and grouped them together in the hopes that if you see something you like in a group, you'd be willing to take on it's uglier cousins too.

If you're interested in giving these poor rejects a home, here's what I need you to do. I'll identify each "giveaway" by letter; for instance, Group A. If you want Group A, leave me a comment telling me you want Group A. If you want Groups A, B, and C, you have to leave me three comments, telling me you want only one group in each comment. That way, I can move the comments into the corresponding giveaways, and when it comes time to draw winners, you'll already be sorted. Right? Okay, let's start.


Group A consists of several blocks made from Thimbleberries fabric. Most of these blocks are fairly large--around 12" or larger except for a couple smaller ones.


Group B also consists of Thimbleberries blocks. Most of these are smaller, except for the large blue, white, and green piece on the left--that would make a decent pillow cover top or the center of a tabletopper. After I took this photo, I came across more smallish blocks and added them to this grouping, so you'll be surprised. In fact, I might have added a couple to Group A too, but I'm not as sure about that one.


Yeah, Group C is an odd one and there are two photos of the pieces that make up the group. Again, Thimbleberries fabric. The first photo is of a few random blocks. The second photo is of borders--attached together in a square with no middle. (What you see there that might look like the rest of the quilt top is my chair cover.) This one started as a quilt top, but I didn't like it that well, so I took part of it out and used it in another project.


Are you a gadget person? I'm not. Over the years I've collected several quilters' gadgets I thought I really needed and found I really didn't. And I've been given a few that have languished in a drawer. If "Gadget" is your middle name, maybe Group D may be just the thing you've been waiting for.


I have no words for this one, except to remind you that Cinco de Mayo will be coming up in a couple months.


A tisket, a tasket, six red and aqua baskets.


Don't they just make you want to salute? If you're part of a Quilts of Valor group or are just plain patriotic, maybe Group G is for you.

This group of giveaways is open to anyone in the US and Canada. I'll leave this up for the weekend and pick "winners" on Sunday night, to be announced in Monday's blog post. Thanks!


Friday, January 27, 2012

A New Home For a Quilt Top!

I've picked a "winner" for the quilt top I put up for adoption yesterday, and the entry I drew was "Anonymous"! Yes, there were a couple entries by the Anonymous family, but this member said,

"I'd love to adopt your quilt top, cat hair and all. I need practice on machine quilting. Thanks for the sharing - your words and your unwanted quilt items. cindy cke49 at yahoo dot com."

Congrats Cindy! Email me your mailing address and I'll get the quilt top and cat hair in the mail to you.

In the last couple weeks, I've have a few new visitors to the blog: The Heart Struck Runner I designed for the Valentine's Blog Hop last year was featured at FaveQuilts and they posted a link. I realized today that with new visitors, I probably should have posted my "rule" about giveaways--that the person must come back to the blog to find out they've won, rather than me email them with the news. I don't know if Cindy is aware of the rule, but normally if I don't hear from a winner within a few days, I'll pick someone else. I DO very much hope Cindy comes back to claim her win, but if I don't hear from her by Sunday evening, I'll pick a new winner.

In the meantime, if you were hoping to win and weren't picked this time, don't despair: I still have a LOT of things to clean out, so there's bound to be more giveaways. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Up for Adoption . . .

I have a very large basket of rolled quilt tops that are waiting to be made whole, given soft innards, so they can find someone who wants to snuggle with them, love them, and live happily ever after. Some of them have been waiting quite awhile. And as with everything else, I felt it was time I took a look at what I have and reassessed a little bit.

This morning, I pulled a somewhat small Civil War/1800s style quilt top out of the basket. I thought I might give it away, but as I looked at it on the design wall, I realized I kind of liked it--kind of alot, in fact. So I rolled it back up and put it back. Then tonight, I found this one:

It's made with Thimbleberries fabric and I won the partially completed blocks and some of the fabric at one of my Thimbleberries Club's raffles a couple years ago. I finished putting the top together, rolled it up, and stuffed it in the "to be quilted" basket.

And while I kind of like the quilt top, I have a lot more quilt tops I like more, so this one will probably languish in the basket for years and years. I decided, instead, so see if anyone wanted to offer it a good home. No, the cat is NOT included, but you will, no doubt, receive some of Spike's fur if you are lucky enough to win the quilt top. And, in the photo, it's on my daughter's double bed, so you can kind of judge the size.

Please leave me a comment if you live in the US or Canada, aren't allergic to cats, and would like to adopt this poor quilt top. I'll pick a winner--assuming I have some volunteers--on Thursday night (tomorrow) and post the winner on Friday's blog post. Anyone interested?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In The Same Vein . . .

I know, I know . . . . You want to know who won the scrap box, don't you? Well, let's do that first then. Shelley, come on down! Shelley has been a long time visitor and I don't think she's ever won anything from me before--at least not that I can remember, and I've got a memory that's good for remembering things at least as far as a month or two back.

Shelley said, "Oh lovely box of scraps, please come live with me :) You will have a warm and comfy home with lots of friends to play with! Kim, you're so much fun!" (Does it help to say nice things about me? Well, I guess it doesn't HURT, right?!)

Shelley, please email me your mailing address and I'll put the mysterious scrap box in the mail to you. Congratulations!

Okay, now for some quilty business. I did it again.

Another quilt top, from another set of already-made blocks. These were from an online quilt-along that I lost interest in at the point of making the ninth block. I've decided that online quilt-alongs aren't for me. Not, at least, the ones where guest designers each design a different block. They're fun to participate in, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, I don't find the designs make for a very cohesive quilt in the end, do you?

But you know what? I think some kid will really enjoy looking at all the "critters" in the fabric of this quilt. So I decided to put the blocks I'd made together into a quilt for a child. I'll quilt it simply and donate it to my guild's community service group.

You know what I was thinking as I was finishing the piecing on this one? I was wondering what YOU do when you fall out of love with a project you're working on. Do you soldier on and finish it anyway? Do you set it aside because your time is limited and you can't stand to spend it on a project you no longer like? Do you donate it to community service? Do you "accidentally" set it on fire? Do you have a giveaway on your blog and stuff it all into a scrap box?

Obviously, for me, I just set these unhappy projects aside and move on to something else, but now it's time to deal with them because I can't keep storing them--I just don't have the space. So tell me . . . what do you do? Maybe you have a suggestion we haven't even thought about yet!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2010 Called and It Wants Its Quilt Blocks

. . . made into quilts!

In cleaning up the Sweat Shop the other day, I was reminded that I have a couple of quilt projects that are close--but not quite--done. I picked up and peered into one tote bag, completely forgetting what was in it, and I found it contained the completed blocks from the 2010 Thimbleberries BOM. The only part I hadn't pieced yet was a set of sawtooth borders and final borders.

The sawtooth borders were okay but I quickly decided they were waaaaaaaaay more work than I wanted to put into it, so I put the completed blocks up on the design wall, added some sashing that wasn't in the original pattern, and finished it up with a couple simple borders.

I'm not sure why the original design called for blue fabric "sky" in the fence blocks but nowhere else--that bugs me a little bit. There were three colorways the quilt could be made in, and the nighttime sky version had the same dark background throughout. I kind of wish I'd picked that one now. But this is okay--I'll do some simple quilting, I think, and it will be a nice spring throw quilt.

Most of all, I'm happy to have finished a project that was languishing in a tote bag. That's one more half-finished project I can put in the "done" (but still to be quilted!) pile. I wish I could say ALL the half-finished projects are done, but I still have a couple more that I need to give a little time and attention to. Another day, another quilt project. Happy quilting!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tidying Up and Cleaning Out--Again!

With the completion of another quilt top comes a bit of cleaning and organizing in the Sweat Shop. After all, I've had a large plastic zip bag devoted to the fabric used in the Rabbits quilt for the last six years, and all those leftovers needed to be relocated--some of the larger pieces have been moved back onto the fabric shelves and some of the smaller pieces have been moved into the scrap drawer.

The overflowing scrap drawer.

So guess what? Yep, it's that time again. I've filled a medium priority mail box with scraps and I'm ready to send it off visiting somewhere in the United States. Would you like to invite it to come live with you?

Contained in the box is a real mix of stuff. Old Kansas Troubles scraps, brushed cotton scraps, bright scraps, holiday scraps, ugly scraps, pretty scraps, . . . . You name it and it's probably in that box.

Want it? Leave a comment inviting the box to come live with you and I'll pick a winner Tuesday night and post the identity of the winner on my Wednesday blog post.

This is NOT the end of the cleaning out. I've been going through a few other bags and baskets of half finished projects and I sure wouldn't be surprised if I come up with a few other orphans that need a new mom (or dad), so stay tuned. Also, my 11 in '11 peeps--I haven't forgotten you; I've just been bogged down with other stuff. I'll get to you very soon, okay?

Why is it that there's just never enough time? Or room to store everything? It's probably just as well, though--otherwise, I'd be moaning about not having enough money to buy everything I want. It's always something.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Year(s) of the Rabbit(s)

Most of you already know the story. I was smitten with Bunny Hill's Rabbits Prefer Chocolate BOM (as it seems most of the quilting world was) and I signed up for the monthly class at my local quilt shop. That first month, I made the first block. The next month, on the second block, I tweeked the pattern a little bit--that was the big chicken with the bunny on its back, and I wanted it to look like it was running faster. By the third block--well, I tweeked that one even more. And the fourth block? That's when I got sidetracked and put it away for awhile.

Over the years, I pulled it out now and then and worked on it a little bit and then put it away again. Finally this year, I got a little more serious about it. After all, by this time, I had quite a few blocks made and only needed to make a couple more.

Well, maybe more than a couple. But it wasn't too far from finished, so I kept on. And now the quilt top is done.

A couple of you asked about a pattern. No, I can't market my version because it's really Anne Sutton's pattern--admittedly with a few tweeks and variations, but it was originally her idea. But I'd like to encourage you to try something similar if you like a pattern but you have a few ideas of your own. Really, it's not as hard as you might think.

For mine, I looked at how Anne drew her bunnies and chicks, and I drew similar shapes onto freezer paper with a pencil. If a line wasn't right, I erased and redrew it. The shapes were relatively simple. I'm not an artist--for instance, I'd be hard pressed to draw a design like McKenna Ryan's applique patterns--but these simple designs are achievable, particularly if you have a good pattern to begin with.

I looked at the copyright date on Rabbits Prefer Chocolate--2005. I suspect the class I took began in 2006, so I've spent six years on this project! You know what? I took another BOM class at the same time with similar results--I think I finished the first block for that one. Maybe it's time I got it out again.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gōng xǐ fā cái!

Congratulations and be prosperous! I had an email tonight from my former boss who's now living in China. It's nearly the start of the Chinese New Year and the celebrations have begun. The fireworks are sure to be incredibly impressive and are set off all over the place. It must be a lot of fun to be a part of such a large celebration--a bit like a cross between Christmas and a week long 4th of July celebration.

Sadly, though, that means it's the end of the year of the rabbit and the beginning of the year of the dragon. With that in mind, it's time I finish up the crack(ed) rabbit applique quilt, right? Luckily, that's what I have planned for the weekend.

After having a very dry winter the last couple months, a storm finally moved into our area on Thursday, and the rainy weather makes it the perfect time to hang out in the Sweat Shop and sew the day away.

I'm getting close to finishing. I measured the quilt center tonight and calculated what needs to be done to add the borders. The outer borders are appliqued and ready, and two of the four corners are done as well.

Let me show you one little part I've changed since you last saw the quilt. Here's the "before" photo of the section I've been working on:

And here's the "after" photo:

I replaced the too-light egg car connectors with something that shows up a little better and added the chick with balloons to that open space--it always bothered me a bit but especially after I put the rest of the quilt top together and it felt like something was missing there.

There's another section near the top that I plan to "fix" but I haven't gotten to that part yet--this weekend, I think. At least I have a very good idea of what I want to do in that section too, and I don't think it will take too long if it works as I think it will.

What do you have planned for the weekend? How about going out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in celebration of upcoming the New Year? Not a bad idea! I think I might have to do that myself. Hot and sour soup on a rainy night? Yum! Saturday's shaping up to be an excellent day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Thank you all for your input on the bunny quilt! It was extremely helpful, particularly since just about everyone said they thought red was the best choice--it really reaffirmed for me that my eye wasn't lying. From a purely "wishful thinking" standpoint, I liked the blue, but it just wouldn't have done for the quilt what the red will do.

I also appreciated the other suggestions to try green and even brown. I put green up against the quilt with the border and it just didn't do much for me. I think it may be because green is so similar to blue and neither color is strong enough. And I'll admit I didn't try the brown--I just didn't want more brown in the quilt and there's already a lot in the border. So red it is--or will be at some point.

The other great thing about taking photos of quilts in progress is that you can get a slightly different perspective of the quilt. Judy suggested that the connectors for the egg train cars should be darker and I'd been thinking the same thing myself, so I've changed them for medium light green. I didn't want them to stand out too much but I want them to show up. I haven't gotten the quilt back up on the wall to see how they look, but I like them just fine while the quilt's sitting on the sewing table.

I also knew there were a couple spaces in the quilt that were kind of open but I didn't know what I could do to fill them in. I think I've worked that out now, so I'm doing a bit more applique. I'll show you later, when I've done that part and added the borders.

Okay, now onto the Rabbits Prefer Chocolate pattern giveaway--you've all been very patient with me and Yahoo. Tonight I drew a winner, and I'm pleased to announce the winner is Sunny! Sunny said:

"Please include me in the drawing. My pattern basket does not contain this little beauty. Thanks for the chance!"

Congratulations, Sunny! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get the pattern out to you.

Finally, I wanted to tell you that I might not publish a post tomorrow night. I have the annual legal secretaries' court update seminar/rubbber chicken dinner to attend, and unless something really interesting happens there, I doubt I'll have anything to write about. But you never know. Still, don't look for a post from me; if I come home incredibly bored and tired, I'll probably just take a nice hot bath, fix myself a cup of hot chocolate, and head to bed with a book.

Thanks for visiting me and thanks again for all of your input--one of the things I love about quilters is the way we're always willing to help with an opinion when asked, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment with yours.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bunny Trouble

Yahoo is experiencing "technical difficulties" tonight and it won't let me into my mailbox, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to postpone the drawing for the Rabbits Prefer Chocolate pattern until tomorrow night. Please come back then to see whose name I draw--assuming Yahoo has resolved its difficulties and doesn't decide to go dark for the day as some internet companies will in connection with anti-piracy legislation.

In the meantime, I'm finally ready to show you the rabbit quilt as it looks so far with various pieces stuck up on the design wall. The applique in the center is done and I just have about half of one scalloped border and the corner pieces to applique.

I've run into a little trouble, though, that I'd like to get your input on. I need to pick a fabric for the inner border, and if you look at the photo, you'll see I've auditioned blue there at the bottom and red at the top. I think I'm leaning toward the red. Do you agree or would you pick blue? Or another color? What do you think?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Hunter-Gatherer in the Modern World

Anthropologically speaking, hunter-gatherer societies are made up of people who search for their food rather than grow it. Kind of like we do at the supermarkets every week. Of course, our hunting-gathering doesn't take quite as much effort as it did for our ancestors. Then again, we have to do all that work to earn the money to pay for it, so it's kind of the same, right?

But maybe grocery shopping isn't enough to satisfy the need to hunt and gather. Not for some of us. Not, maybe, for quilters.

Quilters, I believe, are born hunter-gatherers. After all, aren't we always on the hunt for fabrics, gathering them in for the next project? Well, that's what I've been doing recently--I'm on a mission to find what I need for a project I have in mind. I spent my lunch hour today, hunting at a local quilt shop. Usually I'm a really good hunter and today I found a couple things I was looking for, but right now, I'm stuck in my search for one particular piece. Even my internet searches have failed miserably. So I thought I'd ask you for help--because I'm pretty sure YOU'RE a good hunter-gatherer too.

Specifically I'm looking for this fabric:

It's from a line called Stone Cottage by Renee Nanneman for Andover. Fabric number 4014-L. It's a couple years old now. Have you seen it?

I don't need too much--a fat quarter would be perfect. A fat eighth even. If you have any in your stash and would like to trade, just let me know what you'd like to trade for. If you know your local quilt shop has it in stock, please let me know how I can get in touch with them. Email me with any tips you have.

Thank you for your help!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's That Time Again

Almost done and nearly ready to pass it on--

The original pattern, that is. Not the altered Kim-i-tized version.

Leave a comment if you're among the last ten quilters alive who doesn't already own the pattern, if you live in the USA or Canada, and if you would like a chance to win.

I'll pick a winner Tuesday night and announce the winner on Wednesday's blog post. Good luck!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day of Friendship

I spent another stellar day with my stitchery friends on Saturday--it was our monthly get together. I feel so lucky to have found such a congenial group of friends. Four of us are starting the Bunny Hill Autumn House BOM; two of us are fairly experienced appliquers and two of us are newer to the technique. Here's my first block:

If you're familiar with the pattern, you might have noticed I changed mine a little by putting the pumpkin and vine on the right of the house instead of the left and adding a squirrel on the left. In the original, the word "AUTUMN" is embroidered down the right side, but I didn't want to include that in mine.

As usual, we spent the day eating, stitching, and chatting. I can't think of many better ways to spend a Saturday.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's True!

Time really DOES fly when you're having fun! How did it get to be the middle of January already? I thought Christmas came fast this year, but I figured that was because there was so much to be done before it arrived--why is time still speeding by now that Christmas is past and January is here?

I think one of the reasons I've been longing to work on applique is the leisurely nature of hand work. I don't want to be forever rushing through life to get from one place to another--literally and figuratively. Especially, though, in quilting, because it's not a race; it's a slow craft by nature and a relaxing hobby that should be enjoyed.

As I was prepping the applique borders for the bunny quilt tonight, my mind drifted off to the plans I have for quilt projects and what I want to make and complete this year. I thought about how I wanted to keep track of the quilts I finish, and I decided I should continue with something similar to the 11 in '11 photos in my sidebar. But then I wondered whether that kind of goal-making would keep me feeling I HAD to accomplish more and more, faster and faster, and I had a mental image of myself as a hampster, running inside a wheel.

Somehow I need to find a way to enjoy this hobby we love and let go of the feeling that quilting is a means to an end. I need to enjoy the process and the creativity and not feel I need to get things finished quickly so I can move onto the next project. How do I do that? Especially when I'm so excited about so many of the projects I want to work on this year? I feel a little like a kid on Christmas morning who's told to slow down and really savor each and every gift before opening the next. Who does THAT?!

Well, I'm going to try. Maybe I'll put up a sign or two in the Sweat Shop, reminding myself to slow down and enjoy. To take deep breaths. To step away from the sewing table now and then. I don't know; I'll have to give it some thought.

In the meantime, the weekend's here. Cheers!

Lunch with friends at Chevy's today--yum!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rabbits Again . . .

I have one more photo of the quilt I can show you, and this is a new rabbit, riding a zip line:

The center of the quilt is put together now, but there are a few things that need to be added to fill in the empty spots, and I'm not quite done with that yet. As soon as I am, I'll get a photo of the completed center. I'll still have to prepare the appliqued border, but at least I'll be closer to finishing!

Tonight I had to set the rabbits aside so I could prep the applique for the first block of Autumn House. I'll be getting together with my stitchery group on Saturday, and since four of us are working on this project at the same time, I thought it would be fun to work on mine then.

I finally tasted the chevre cheese we learned to make last weekend, and it's good! I minced up some garlic, green onions, and parsley and added that to the cheese with a little smoked sea salt--yum! That was the easiest and fastest cheese to make, so I'm sure I'll make more in the future. I've looked on the internet to see if I could find the same recipe we used, and I didn't come across it, but if you're interested in trying to make this type of cheese, just search for "how to make homemade chevre" and check out the recipes. Seriously, it's easy and there aren't any really specialized ingredients or equipment involved, other than the cheesecloth (you need a closer weave than most available in the grocery or fabric store) and a thermometer. You CAN probably find both at a decent cooking supply store or from the internet.

I'm still missing the Wild Child, but we've emailed back and forth this week and she's having a great time in New York so far. Manager Man works for/with a well to do couple who are associated with the theater arts and music, and through that association, the Wild Child spent a few hours in a recording studio the other day, watching the wife of this couple record a CD. I don't know if you remember, but the Wild Child sings and was in a small band a couple years ago, so it was a fun experience for her to watch. On top of that, she and Manager Man are spending the weekend in Connecticut as guests of this couple at their country home. Life's rough, eh?! Next week, though, she needs to get a little more serious about settling in and finding a job, but at least the transition from California to New York has been made a little easier for her since it's been more like a vacation.

Time to get ready for bed--one more day of work to get through before the weekend's here. I hope you have something fun planned for your weekend, even if it's just spending a little "me" time at some point!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, Those Rabbits!

I thought it was time to show you a little more of the rabbits quilt. You've seen the bunnies on the train before, but now I've added some details--

With the positions of their arms, they looked like they should be holding onto something and what better than balloons? And although you can't really see it very well in this photo, there's "smoke" rising out of the smoke stack of the engine.

I've started adding in some of the floral "fillers" too, as well as the small stuff like the "harness" for the egg cart that's snaking out from the undercarriage.

The center of the quilt is really starting to come together finally. I think I'll have a couple more photos to share in another day or two.

At some point, I'm going to have to have some help naming this quilt because Crack Rabbits . . . well, no one would really understand that name except you, right? See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Little Cheese with Your Catch-Up

Sounds kind of gross, doesn't it? Cheese and ketchup? Unless you plan to stick it on a bun with some juicy beef, maybe. But you probably noticed I typed "catch-up" instead of "ketchup," right?

What it means is just that I thought I'd give you a little update on stuff in general and cheese in particular. Tonight three out of our four-person group gathered to "kit" the first block of the Autumn House applique quilt. Here's what the quilt will look like someday--or something close to it, anyway:

The first block is the one at the top left. I'll show you when I get mine done.

We met at Imelda's home and her husband fixed dinner for us--homemade chicken tacos and Spanish rice. Delicious! I've always thought Imelda had just about the perfect relationship, because her husband travels out of town for work every couple of days, which gives her a little bit of "me" time for sewing or whatever else she wants to do. Now that I know he's such a good cook too, I'm REALLY jealous!

Just before the Wild Child left for the airport last night, one of our cheeses, the goat cheese (chevre) was ready to taste. We had just been out to dinner and I wasn't hungry, but she said it was excellent! (I would have tried it tonight, but you know--after those tacos, I didn't need to eat another thing.) So, to recap a bit, although the mozzarella didn't turn out right (and looks even odder now that it's been in the refrigerator), the goat cheese is excellent. I'm still working on the feta, turning the chunks, pouring off the whey, and "feeding" them a little salt twice a day. I think tomorrow they'll be ready to put into a brine solution and refrigerated for a couple weeks. So far, so good! I have to say, though, that the smell of the ripening cheese is a bit overpowering in a not all that pleasant way. At least I've been out of the house a lot for work and friends, and Hubby's cold makes it a little harder for him to smell it!

A couple of you asked about the cheese making book Robert recommended to us. Mine arrived today and I had a chance to look through it. The recipes aren't exactly the same as what Robert gave us, but the process of cheese making is the same and the book looks like it covers just about everything a person needs to know to get started.

If you're interested in classes and expect to be in the Sacramento area, email me and I'll put you in touch with Robert. He told us about one couple who traveled from Humboldt, about a five or six hour drive, to take the class and carted their cheeses all the way home, stopping now and then during the drive to pour off the whey, so keep the class in mind even if you're just traveling through for a few days.

It's time for me to start getting ready for bed. Tomorrow's another full day of work and then our Thimbleberries Club meeting right afterward. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leavin' on a Jet Plane . . .

I'm a bit sad tonight because the Wild Child left for New York where she plans to live and go to school for the next few years, if everything works out as planned. Of course, we expect to see her a couple times a year, and technology such as Skype makes it possible to stay in contact, but it's certainly not the same as having her live close to us. On the other hand, I'm excited for her too--I think this just might be a marvelous adventure. Overall, though, I think I'm just glad this week will be a busy one--it will give me a little time to adjust to her absence and not so much time to think about the fact that she's not here.

I'm also a bit sad tonight because it appears Hubby hasn't escaped this awful "worse than a cold but not the plague" illness that's been going around. It's been awhile since the Wild Child and I were at a contageous stage, so I thought he'd managed to evade the bug, but that doesn't appear to be the case, poor guy.

While I was ill, whenever I felt up to it, I worked on a bit of applique--and that wasn't really very often! I spent most of the time sleeping or reading. Just about the time I started to get sick, though, I was working on the last block of the fifth section of the Garden Club quilt and I did get that one finished:

Tomorrow evening I'm meeting with three of my friends to start on the first block of the Autumn House applique quilt by Bunny Hill. Our monthly meetings will mainly be spent deciding which fabrics to use for our blocks. We've pooled what fabrics we've "collected" so far, and we'll share what we have with one another. I think our quilts will end up looking similar but none will be exactly the same. And, of course, you know I'll probably tweek things a bit, although probably not nearly as much as I've changed the Rabbits Prefer Chocolate quilt. I've done a little more work on that one too--I'll show you where I'm at with it in the next day or two.

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Got Cheese?

I'm back! I'm finally feeling a great deal better, although I have a feeling this cough will hang around a few days and I'm still a little stuffed up--but nothing like the way I felt last week. And best of all, I've finally done something interesting! (At least I thought it was!)

Remember my company's mystery event this year when we ended up making beer? This is the brewmaster, Robert, who the firm hired to teach us:

Robert also teaches cheesemaking, which seemed really cool too, and I came back from the event talking about taking a cheesemaking class someday. I don't remember if I told you, but for Christmas, the Wild Child presented me with gift certificates for three of us to take the class, and that's what she, my sister-in-law, Kathy, and I did today.

Robert has an old Victorian house and the bottom floor--at least what we saw of it--is his office and kitchen classroom. I took some photos during class and I'll tell you a little bit about what we did.

First, cheesemaking--at least what we did today--mostly involves mixing milk with "stuff" to change the milk into curds and whey. The whey is separated out and the curds become cheese. The whole process seems kind of magical although it's really just chemistry!

Here we had a couple pots of what would become cheese going on the stove. The pot on the left contained the beginnings of feta cheese while the pots on the right would become mozzarella. (Sort of.)

Here's just a photo of part of the kitchen--you can see the empty gallon containers of milk and empty smaller containers of goat's milk (for the goat cheese we also made). And yes, there's some cheese and crackers on the counter--a sample of what we may be able to make someday if we keep up our studies!

One of the steps in making cheese is hanging the curds in cheese cloth to let the whey continue to separate out. The cheese in these cheesecloth bundles is feta.

Robert doesn't usually include mozzarella in his beginning cheese class but I asked if he could show us how to make it. Seriously, I think it's probably the simplest soft cheese that I'd actually use fairly often. As it turns out, mozzarella requires more work--you have to keep heating it and kneeding it as you would bread (if you didn't just go buy bread at the grocery store).

The reason I say we sort of made mozzarella is that for some reason, of the two batches of mozzarella cheese we made, neither turned out. Robert, of course, has made mozzarella cheese numerous times and has never had it fail this way, but for some reason, this time it did. The problem was that at some point, when the mozzarella reaches the correct temperature through heating and kneeding, it kind of melds together and forms a ball--a little like bread will--and ours just never did.

There in the center is some mozzarella Robert made a week or two ago, and on the left is one of our batches--which looks kind of lumpy, as you can see. We understand it will taste okay and will melt, but the consistency isn't right. (Toward the back, on the right, is that great cheese Robert made and let us taste.)

Finally, here's our cheese, resting at home. The feta is still hanging in cheesecloth in a big canning pot on top of the refrigerator, and the goat cheese is curdling in the canning jars until tomorrow when it will be transferred to cheesecloth--after the feta comes out. And that sad mozzarella is in the refrigerator--I think I might cut it into large cubes and marinade it but maybe not; I haven't decided yet.

One thing's for sure though. It's going to be a long time before we run out of cheese. But when we do? I just ordered a home cheesemaking book Robert recommended. I may need to start a new blog. How does Kim's Big Cheesemaking Adventure sound?

Friday, January 6, 2012

More Than a Cold, Less Than the Plague

That's how PCFlamingo summed up this illness. And because I think the only person truly fascinated by updates on my health is me, I'm going to give you guys a couple days off while I attempt to recover and find a life that doesn't revolve around tissues.

I found out today that another Girl's Bowling Night attendee, the Lovely Wife to be Someday, also came down with this thing over the weekend. It's a scary thing when the whole female side of a family--including its extended members--is wiped out as a result of bowling. But you know how dangerous I think exercise is.

I'll be back sometime this weekend, when I feel better and have something to say. In the meantime, if you signed on for the 11 in '11 challenge (your name would be in my sidebar), you were successful in the challenge, and you haven't already emailed me that you posted photos of your projects on your blog or in the Flickr group, please do so soon. There may be rewards involved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Figment of my Imagination

That feeling human thing? Not so much after all. Wishful thinking, maybe. I THOUGHT I'd be going back to work today, but in the end, I got up when the alarm went off and sat on the couch, trying to muster up enough energy to do the hair and makeup thing. In the end, I gave up. And I've spent another very boring day with tissues, my bed, and a book. If I don't get better soon, my nose will fall off. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Feeling Human Again

I don't have anything interesting to tell you about my day because I didn't do anything interesting and I've been feeling too ill to put any effort into making up a good story. Not that I ever do, of course, although Hubby would probably like you to believe some of the stuff I say about him is made up. It's not.

I'm finally starting to feel more human tonight, and I expect I'll go back to work tomorrow. I might even do something interesting. In the meantime, all I have for you is a link to website called Damn You Auto Correct.

Whenever I want to laugh so hard that tears run down my face and I can't breathe without getting up and walking away from the computer screen, I pop over and read a few of the latest postings. I should warn you, though, that most are pretty off color, but that's what makes them so funny.

And while we're on the subject of Hubby, he came into the room a couple minutes ago to see my shoulders heaving and hear me crying. Of course, he was concerned until he asked me what was wrong, and I told him I'd just been reading Auto Correct again. "Well, don't DO that," he said. "It worries me when I think something's wrong!" Poor guy. But after all, isn't laughter the best medicine?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Allergies versus A Cold

Over the years, my seasonal allergies have become worse, and when they're acting up, I often feel just as I would with a cold. I said something about that to a friend not long ago, and she suggested you can always tell when it's a cold because you feel "sick"--not like when it's just allergies. I'm not so sure.

A week or so ago, I felt like I had a cold. Remember when I said I was going to take some Nyquil and go to bed early? I felt sick all that day, but I woke up the next day feeling fine again. Allergies fooled me that time!

So when my allergies started acting up again this weekend, I figured I'd just continue on and ignore it. Guess what? My "allergies" have held on strong for two days now. This "morning" I slept until 12:30 p.m. This evening, I have chills and feel like I'm running a fever. I have a feeling it's not allergies.

Sadly, the Wild Child has the same thing. We think we picked something up at bowling. Besides the balls. Besides the calf injury. It just goes to prove what I've said for years now: Exercise is bad for you.

I think I'll take some Nyquil and go to bed.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Do you ever watch Chopped? It's that show where the contestants are given a mystery basket with ingredients that no one in their right mind would ever think of putting together, and they have to come up with dishes that actually taste good. I've kind of felt like I'm in that show the last couple days.

My refrigerator has been filled with a mishmash of leftovers and stray ingredients from the holidays, and rather than throw everything out, I've been trying to turn them into edible meals. It's a weirdly creative process.

Tomorrow I think I'll go to the grocery store. I still have a couple odds and ends left, but a few "new" food purchases will give me more options. I bet my family will be glad to hear it! Actually, they've liked what I've made so far, but I don't think I could keep it up much longer.

For those of you who are listed in my sidebar as having accepted the 11 in '11 challenge, if you were successful, please post your photos in the Flickr album or on your blog--and then let me know you've done it. I'd mentioned that there might be some kind of reward for those who achieved the goal. I'll give you until next Saturday to post and let me know, and then I'll let you know what you might win. Fair enough?

Happily I have one more day off before I go back to work on Tuesday--one more day to sleep in and play in the Sweat Shop, although I have a few other things to take care of too, so the day won't be all play. So far, though, 2012 hasn't been too bad! Thanks for stopping in to visit.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I've heard it said that a person should usher in the new year doing what they plan to do all year long. I followed that recommendation this year--I spent most of New Year's Eve on the next applique block for the Garden Club quilt.

In 2011, my quilting "goal" was to finish up 11 quilt projects that I'd begun or needed to made for one reason or another during the year, and I managed to reach my goal in the final days of December. For 2012, my quilting "goal" isn't as results driven. My plan is simply to spend time working on applique projects--which really is my favorite quilting technique. And although my emphasis will be on applique, I will also try to direct at least part of my focus on finishing up a few projects, like getting a few more quilt tops quilted. And I actually have a couple of quilt tops that are just waiting for applique to be added, so those projects will be high on my list. Finally, because I know I'll want to do SOME piecing, I'll continue to play along with the monthly Schnibbles group hosted by Sherri and Sinta.

So those are my plans for the 2012 quilting year. How about you? Do you have a quilting plan?