Thursday, November 30, 2006


A long while ago, Tazzie tagged me to show my quilting spot. Until this week, the only hand sewing I've ever enjoyed was binding. I think I like it because it's the final step and it feels so good to finish a project. (Also because I always watch tv or a movie while I do it.) Now that Nadine has hooked me on hexagons, I really do have a spot! I made these while watching Season 3 of Project Runway downloaded from iTunes. If Santa brings some dvds, I'm sure there will be lots of hexagons in my future!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tree Skirt

Patti recently posted a picture of a beautiful tree skirt she made, so I thought I'd post a picture of the simple one I made a few years ago for my grandparents and my aunt. It was the first time I foundation-pieced anything (on muslin) and the first time I bound anything curved. I also used gold thread to quilt it by machine - the only time I've used anything but basic cotton. The silly thing is that most of the quilting is in the ditch! I think I figured out how silly that was halfway through, because there is also some more visible zig-zagging going on. A zig-zag was the only decorative stitch on my machine then and I definitely hadn't tried any free-motion at that point! The pattern is Thimbleberries Star Dance Tree Skirt, but I left off the appliqued stars (it's no longer on the Thimbleberries website, but there seem to be several of these patterns available on ebay these days.) It was a fun project - I should make one for myself one of these days!

There are a lot of bird fabrics in there, since their house is full of all things bird. Actually, I was thinking of organizing a bird fabric swap some time in 2007 - any interest?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A First!

I made my first hexagon - actually, my first seven hexagons! They were a lot of fun and I can see why people have warned me that they are addictive! Many, many thanks to Nadine for her help! These are all green fabrics from my medallion project. Lots of comments on the last two rounds and what I should do with that turned corner block. I'm going to leave you in suspense about my decision - you'll just have to wait until I post a picture of round six! It's in the works, as are rounds seven and eight. I made about a million HSTs on Saturday. Hopefully I'll have some time to sew them together in the evenings this week. These little hexagons are destined to be part of a very small (top-secret) project I have to finish first!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Finally Something on the Quilting Front

It's been almost a week since I last sewed anything. Sunday evening I attached rounds four and five to my medallion project, but I wasn't happy with the corners on the flying geese round. Tonight I replaced them with these that echo the center. (The first ones were too busy.) The center is 24"x24" and now the whole thing is 45"x45". I'm aiming for approx. 90"x90". I have a sneaking suspicion that these rounds are going to take more and more time as they get larger and larger! Luckily I can use some of my 'reject' geese in the stars for another round!

Just before posting this, I noticed the upper right hand geese-row cornerstone is facing the wrong direction! Now I need to decide if I'm willing to rip this out again! Ack! I can look at it in the morning with 'fresh eyes'.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving (lots about food, nothing about quilting)

What a difference a year makes. Last year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother's host family in France - we celebrated on a Friday night (his birthday), so I was home alone when the turkey arrived complete with a head and some feathers!! This year I had an adventure with two friends driving out into the Finnish countryside to collect our turkey - decidedly headless and featherless - much more in my culinary comfort zone. Here's last year's pre-roasting photo and this year's post-roasting photo.

Judy posted her menu, so I thought I'd post mine here.

garlic mashed potatoes (made with sour cream)
sweet potatoes with orange slices
brussel sprouts glazed with balsamic vinegar
wheat bread and mushroom stuffing
cranberry sauce
cranberry bread
squash rolls
turkey (sans tête et plumage)
gravy (thanks to Gisela!)
white wine (also thanks to Gisela!)
cranberry juice
pecan pie (à la mode)
pumpkin pie (à la mode)
chocolate banana cake (thanks to Thomas!)

A few recipes for my guests who asked and for anyone else who might be interested:

Grandma Gen's Cranberry Bread

2 cups flour (just under 470ml)
1 cup sugar (just under 235ml)
1 egg (well-beaten)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (7.5ml)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (2.5ml)
1 teaspoon salt (5ml)
juice and grated rind of orange + 2 Tablespoons margarine or butter + boiling water to make total 3/4 cup (180ml)
Sift dry ingredients together. Add liquid, then egg. Mix until well dampened.
Add 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) and 1 cup raw cranberries (halved) or lingonberries (whole). Bake at 177C (350F) for 60 minutes.

Susan's Squash Rolls
1 Tablespoon yeast (15ml - maybe a tad more)
1/4 cup warm water (60ml)
2/3 cup milk (160ml)
1 cup cooked squash (butternut is best, pumpkin, acorn, something orange and fairly wet when cooked - frozen puree works well, too)
1/3 cup brown sugar (80ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5ml)
1/3 cup melted butter (80ml)
2 cup whole wheat flour (470ml)
2-3 cups unbleached white flour (470-700ml)
Proof yeast in warm water. Combine the milk, squash, sugar, salt, and melted butter. When this has cooled to lukewarm, add yeast and whole wheat flour. Beat well. Stir in unbleached white flour until dough is stiff enough to knead. Turn onto floured surface and knead well, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. This is a soft elastic dough and very nice to work with.
Place dough in a large buttered bowl, turn the dough to coat it with the butter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour, punch down. Shape into tangerine sized balls and place on buttered baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 205C/400F (190C/375F in an especially hot oven) for 20 minutes.
Brush tops with melted butter after removing from oven.

Cranberry Sauce
3 parts cranberries (whole)
1 part sugar
1 part orange juice (or water)
Combine over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, cranberries will burst. Reduce heat, cook for 10 minutes. Cool completely before serving. If you're using juicy cranberries (not the firm Ocean Spray variety), you might need to halve the liquid.

I make a basic butter pie crust kind of like this.

Pumpkin Pie
3 eggs
2 cups (470-500ml) fresh, canned, or thawed frozen pumpkin puree
1.5 cups light cream (350ml) (or 3/4 cup heavy cream + 3/4 cup milk)
1/2 cup white sugar (120ml)
1/3 cup brown sugar (80ml)
1 tsp cinnamon (5ml)
1 tsp nutmeg (5ml)
1/2 tsp ginger (2.5ml)
1/4 tsp cloves (1ml)
1/2 tsp salt (2.5ml)
Whisk thoroughly. Pour into preheated (but not completely baked) pie crust. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 375F/190C - until the center is set, but still quivery, like jello. Cool completely before serving - cold, room temperature, or slightly warmed.

Pecan Pie
toast 1.5-2 cups (350-470ml) pecans (whole, chopped, or a mixture)
Whisk together:
3 eggs
1 cup (235ml) sugar - white or brown
1 cup (235ml) syrup - light or dark Karo syrup or light/golden syrup or treacle syrup (can you tell I've made this in several different countries?!)
5 Tbsp (75g) melted butter
1 tsp (5ml) of vanilla extract OR 1 Tbsp (15ml) Vana Tallinn OR 1 Tbsp (15ml) Kalhua
Add the nuts to the mixture, pour into a preheated pie crust. Bake until the edges are firm and the center is set, but still quivery (again, like jello). Recipe says 30-45 minutes, but it always takes longer - closer to 60 minutes, at 375F/190C. Cool completely before serving (again, serve cold, room temperature, or slightly warmed).

I don't really use recipes for the other dishes, but can give more details if anyone is interested! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Bear Paw Verdict

So, the darks have it. I liked the light when I drew it two summers ago, but once I had everything in front of me, I wasn't so sure. Most importantly, my brother voted for the dark sashing and it's going to be his quilt! (It took him a while to respond - recovering from being a grilled cheese sandwich for Halloween and away for an ultimate frisbee tournament in Rhode Island, etc...) Thanks to everyone who left a comment.

I thought I'd post a few more pictures from my mom's visit. We crossed the longest bridge in Finland to Replot and then to Bjorkeby. It was awfully chilly that day!

A couple people asked me to say a little more about the princess cake from an earlier post. It's a sponge-type cake, sliced into several thin layers, layered with jam, topped with whipped cream, then covered with marzipan. Delicious.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

No-Knead, No Quilting

I finally made the no-knead bread I mentioned the other day. I actually love kneading bread, but I have to say, this is the most delicious bread I've ever made! The crust is nice and crisp (like from a French bakery) and the inside has lots of little tiny air pockets, making an awesome texture. The recipe is from the New York Times on November 8th and you can actually watch a video of the process here. The only trick to this incredibly simple process is having the patience to let it sit for 18 hours!

No quilting to show today - only had a chance to connect some of the geese together for Round Four.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quiltgruppen Lappvärk

Yesterday evening I went to the second meeting of a new Swedish-speaking quilt group here in Vaasa. What a great group of women! I have to say 'hej' to them here, because one had discovered my blog and now everyone has the address!

Great Posti day today - The Calico Cat found some hedgehog fabric at a quilter's garage sale and was kind enough to send it to me!! She also included this book about using plaids after seeing my Bear Paws and knowing that I have another plaid and blue quilt in the works. Thanks so much, Amy!!

I was able to work a little more on my medallion this evening - all the geese are ready, but I need more hours in the day! Maybe tomorrow....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Round Four

I made a few chocolate chip cookies last night before heading out to a concert with some friends and this afternoon I'm going to finally cook these pumpkins - one will become a pie next weekend for an early Thanksgiving, the other will end up in the freezer for now. I think I might give this no-knead bread a try, as well! It's just that kind of weekend when you need the oven on!

Thanks to everyone for the advice on Round Three - I ended up with the green - definitely the most popular choice. For Round Four I was going to use the white flying geese (on the bottom) because they echo the ones in the center, but now I think I'm going to use the colorful geese (on the right) because the white will contrast more with the green and gold rows on either side.

Here's a nice view out my quilting room window this morning - Deb asked me to post one, since she's in 90F weather!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Round Three

I've gotten so many nice comments about this quilt so far. I also got a barrage of emails when I asked for advice on my plaid bear paws, so I'm going to poll the audience a couple times with this one, too! The next row will be flying geese, but first - green or gold?

I made the switch to Beta Blogger this morning. Please let me know if anything looks funky. It was pretty easy. Luckily I knew to save the code for my weather, counter map, and ring to put in again thanks to someone else's post - thanks whoever you were! The one thing that went 'wrong' was that all of a sudden I was 249 years old! No wonder I felt so tired this morning. If anyone knows how to center my book images in the sidebar, I'd love to know.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Barbara is working on a spool quilt and it reminded me that I should post a picture of my spool quilt. This is the only large quilt I've finished. It took eleven years! I have another 'flimsy' queen-sized top and am working on three bed-size quilts at the moment, so it won't be lonely in the universe for long.

I started this quilt the summer I was 16. I was in the middle of nowhere in Kansas for the summer with a new driver's license and no job in sight. The local kids had the few jobs there were and my high school in Massachusetts got out about a month later than the local schools. Anyway, I drove my little brother back and forth to his swimming lessons. That didn't take much time. I had done a little sewing before high school - including a baby quilt when my brother arrived on the scene, some potholders, and even a dress! My mom had recently taken a quilting class - a new method for making Drunkard's Path (I have the blocks and the tool now, since I have a better finishing track record!) - and I must have gotten some sort of Little House on the Prairie image in my head. Somehow I convinced my parents to let me drive to all the quilt shops in the teeny-tiny no-stoplight towns around us. I wonder how many of those shops are still around. Anyway, I bought a few blue and green prints - just in 1/4 yard pieces - at each shop.

My mom must have taken two classes, because there was a copy of Quilts, Quilts, Quilts (the first edition) hanging around. I was dead set on the blue and red spool quilt pattern, even though my mom said there was something called Y-seams involved - she hadn't done them either. So, I made a queen-sized top using cardboard templates and inset seams for my first real quilt! Not sure what I was thinking. I machine pieced it on my mom's Husqvarna - mostly while watching Jay Leno on tv, as I recall. It was a small house, so I couldn't have the stuff out all day - for some reason we needed to eat on the table.

So, it went in a box. It moved to Maine. It got wrinkled and lonely. In December 2002, a friend was getting married. She knits gorgeous afghans for her friends as wedding gifts. I decided that I wasn't so attached to the spools anymore and I knew that she would appreciate such a gift! I found a long-armer in upstate NY through an American friend in Romania and had it finished in time for their first anniversary. It's living happily ever after with two baby quilts (here and here) in suburban Washington, DC.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Round Two

Lots of cutting, line-drawing, pinning, stitching, ironing, repeating tonight while following the election news from home. I loved staying up late on election night when I was younger - even in the 80s when we used to know who was going to win before we went to bed. Now that I'm teaching about the election in one of my courses, I'm calling it homework. I lost all credibility as a second grade ESL teacher in 2000 when I told my students that we would know who the new president was the next morning. Maybe I can redeem my credibility this time around.

Sorry that the contrast isn't very good between the blocks and my floor! Round two of the medallion quilt will probably be followed by another thin green line of like-colored squares. I'm working on a large flock of flying geese at the moment - they will play into several upcoming rows. I think I'm going to separate everything with these thin lines of like-colored squares - either green or gold - and will use the white in every other row of blocks. That's the plan for now at least. :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Round One

I think the medallion is going to be fun. In fact, I had to drag myself out of my quilting room kicking and screaming last night in order to get some other things done. I have put on the first round - very simple, but still fun. I know people talk about giving 'the eye a place to rest' on these kinds of quilts - I hope rows like this between other kinds of blocks will suffice. I think it's going to be very busy. I think that's ok. (My mom said she can't imagine me making anything else. lol.) I also cut out enough blocks to make a row of QSTs during the week. Thanks to Gail for her great QST tutorial!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Something New

Here's a shot of the new project I started this weekend (while watching many episodes of West Wing). It's going to be a queen(ish)-sized wedding quilt for my cousin and her husband. They were married last April and I wasn't able to make it home for the wedding from Romania, so my goal is to finish it by their first anniversary. This will be the center block for a simple medallion quilt. It's 24" so far. Subsequent rounds will include flying geese, QSTs, etc. - maybe some Broken Dishes blocks, Pinwheels, or some of the Flyfoot blocks from Mereth's recent post. Suggestions are welcome - I've never made any kind of medallion before.

This is actually the center block from Lori Smith's Pieceful Nights, but the rest of the quilt will be quite different. My aunt (her mom) helped me pick out most of the fabrics two summers ago and these fabrics have crossed the Atlantic three times already. I hope next time they cross it in the form of a pieced top!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bits and Pieces

Starting another project today - not putting the bear paws away, just alternating. Hopefully I'll have something to show tomorrow. Lots of cutting for now.

Otherwise, worked on some bits and pieces this morning. Washed all the lovely blue fabrics my mom brought - it took three loads with my little washer!

Made the binding for the two blue and plaid (fraternal) twin-sized quilts for my brother.

And worked a bit on the HST border for the bear paws.

Last night I went to hear the Vaasa City Orchestra for the first time. I'm not sure I can put the experience into words, but I'll try. The concert was called After Swim and was held in the swimming hall here. We sat in the bleachers. The musicians were scattered around the pool deck and on the platform diving boards. There were lights reflecting off the water and walls, as well as a film projected on one wall with scenes from nature (under and near water), including cute children playing in the water and at the water's edge. The percussion soloist appeared in a bathing cap and robe. The concert ended when one performer climbed to the very highest platform, did a handstand at the edge, and dove into the pool. He was no spring chicken, either!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I don't have EQ (maybe Santa will bring it? or the Easter Bunny?) and sketch things out on graph paper. When I drew this, I liked one option better, but now that I've layed it out, I like the other choice better. What do you think? (Please forgive all those stray threads - they multiplied in transit, I swear!) Light blue sashing (kinder to the inevitable chopped off bear's sharp claws) or dark blue (more contrast)? I'll have a narrow dark border, then a border of HSTs, then another dark border. Thanks for weighing in!

I've noticed people are having lots of trouble with Blogger. Sometimes if I can't see people's images, I switch back to Internet Explorer. This morning I couldn't upload photos in Mozilla, so I went to IE. This evening, I tried IE first after reading about everyone's problems - it didn't work, but worked instantly in Mozilla. Go figure.

Quilty Evening

Had a fun quilt outing last night - attended the opening of an art quilt exhibit here in Vaasa at Ateljé Torni, home of the Vaasa Art Club. I even ran into another quilt blogger there! We had met in person last month before she found me online. We had a good laugh when I started to say, 'my mom was here last week...' and she said 'I know.'

I won't dare to translate the titles, but here are a couple of my favorites from the exhibit. (I did get the artists' names, in order: Hilkka Luosa, Liisa Teittinen, and Vuokko Isaksson - I hope it's ok to post these photos - I'm pretty sure the artists weren't there for me to ask and photography was permitted.)