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Its finished!

It's finished!

I have to admit, after the zealousness of the last post I kind of lost my mojo.  Squares seventy-two to ninety were tedious.  And once I learned what was involved in finishing I lost all interest.  But I forged through!

Sleepers-eye view.

Sleepers-eye view (love this book by the way - last in the series!)

I think my favourite part is that it only cost the price of the batting – twenty five dollars.  The backing is a sheet from Ikea that we bought years ago from a bargain bin.  I loved that set so much  – it was so soft and cool – but the fitted sheet got a hole and we had to throw it out.  I insisted on keeping the flat one and now I’m so glad I did!  The batting is cotton-bamboo from Mitchell Fabrics (I drove to Winnipeg by myself Saturday to get it!).  It is so very soft and cozy I would have happily used it as a blanket.

Zigzag edge

Zigzag edge

I had always planned on tying the quilt with this leftover Cascade 220 and I had also planned on binding it until I saw this post on The Purl Bee.  To be honest I found some of the steps in this “easy” quilt super difficult.  I couldn’t figure out why you cut the binding and the muslin twice or why all of the tying and pinning and trimming were done on the floor. After a short while my body was aching and I was nauseous from all that crouching and crawling.  Is quilting supposed to me that physically demanding?  I ended up pinning the edging on the floor then sticking a few safety pins in it and doing the tying on my lap –  much more comfortable.

Corner

Corner

I also ran into trouble because my top was totally asymmetrical.  The squares I had worked on in early ’05 were larger than the ones I finished in the last few weeks so the top was much wider than the bottom.  I just trimmed the sheet to two inches wider than the top all around and now you can barely tell.

Also: man big quilts are hard to photograph!  I failed to clean our whole bedroom and had to crop out almost everything.  Plus Bowie kept following me around whimpering until I took his photo.  Seriously.

Look how he poses and everything!  Such a ham.

Look how he poses and everything! Such a ham.

Anyway, I would really love to hear more about your quilting process because the floor work really did turn me off a bit.  Or if you don’t quilt tell me how cute my dog is.  Whatevs.

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It has been snowing and blustery for three days now and it’s getting pretty hairy out there.  I brought Bowie to the vet this morning to ensure there will be no little Bowie’s running around and we got stuck in a huge snow drift.  I had to call Chris to pull me out with a winch.  Then, when I got home about an hour and half later our street had disappeared under two feet of snow.  I had to park at an office nearby.  Isn’t it supposed to be Spring?

I had to pick Bowie up this afternoon because he was not happy at the vet and now he’s sitting all glassy eyed in my lap.

My special little guy pre-op

My special little guy pre-op

All this storming has forced me to stay inside knitting and sewing.  Poor me.  The quilt top is finished but I have to wait until I can get into the city to pick up some batting.  But my Crosswalkers are done!

Not going any further than my doorway

Not going any further than my doorway

Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Purple Rain and a tiny bit of Arequipa

Pattern: Crosswalkers by Emily B. Miller

Needle: 2.25 DPNs

Note the ruts from me having to push my front door open

Note the ruts from me having to push my front door open

These might end up being my favourite socks ever but please be aware that they gobble up yarn.  I’m usually left with about a quarter skein of yarn when I finish a pair but I actually ran out about five rows from the end of the second toe on these and had to use a little Arequipa from Erin’s Jaywalkers.  They are so sturdy, though, and the colour is even more amazing in real life.

If you wish to read more about me being buried under a depressing amount of snow or the pulse-quickening dread of running out of yarn, I joined Twitter out of sheer boredom and I am now completely obsessed with informing people of my hourly goings-on.  My username is Whistlepea.

Bowie is literally falling asleep standing up  so I should go attend to my little space cadet. Or maybe video tape him because it’s pretty damn funny. Good day!

I used feel the same way about quilting as I do about scrapbooking; it used to be something fun and economical and memory-keeping and now it’s a super cheesy industry that I have no interest in.  A few years ago it would never have occurred to me to go out a buy fabric to make a quilt.  So, when I decided to start one a few weeks after getting my sewing machine for Christmas in 2004, I went about it the only way I knew how, I bought a super cheap rotary cuter and teensy mat at Zellers, cut up some old blouses and skirts and pants, found a crappy tutorial through Google and went to town.

Misty watercoloured memories

Misty watercoloured memories

I was substitute teaching then too and underemployed as always.  This quilt trumped everything.  And then we moved overseas and my machine and the quilt were boxed up.  The quilt has been a guilty nagging secret since then.  As you may or may not know, I’m not an unfinished object kind of crafter.  I start doing something, I work on it for a while, I finish it.  Period.  So now, four years later, again home too often and bored I dragged old quilty out of the closet, pressed the squares I had already cut to size and dusted off the instructions.

Sorted squares - sort of

Sorted squares - sort of

I even figured out how big the quilt should be and figured out how many blocks I would need and how many little squares and supplemented what I had with a few scraps from my fabric stash.

Once again I have been sucked in.  I eat, breathe, sleep this quilt.  I don’t understand anything about binding or long arms or chain piecing and it’s riddled with mistakes large and small and some of the blocks are totally hideous but I don’t care.

Folded

Folded

I am so far gone that I am even plotting one of those new-fangled quilting-for-quilting’s-sake-quilts.  I have ordered a little My Folklore fabric and I have a large hankering for more.  I can see now how people have whole attics for their stash fabric.  With quilting there is always use for the cutesy Japanese fabric with the frolicking baby deer or the weird cotton with the naked cowboys on it.  It’s not going to be plastered across your hips so it can be as wacky or sassy as you please.

This is all I need.

Happy St. Patrick’s!  I’m wearing my Trinity College t-shirt and I made some tasty soda bread.

Eat me Im Irish

Eat me I'm Irish

The recipe is from this month’s Martha Stewart Living and I’m not sure that it’s totally authentic but it is totally delicious.

My friend Melina has the type of grown up job which entails going on business trips to New York.  She went a few weeks ago and not only did she see Tina Fey (and not cut off a lock of her hair for me) she also brought me some goodies from Purl Soho.

Pretty Cheep Project Bag

Pretty Cheep Project Bag

Matrioshka Fabric by Kokka Japan

Matrioshka Fabric by Kokka Japan

I’m not sure what I’ll make with this.  It seems too precious to cut.

She also sent me some gardening info just in time for me to get my heirloom seeds!

Yay seeds!

Yay seeds!

I’ve never even kept a Chia Pet alive but I am determined not to pay seven dollars for a squash in the city this year!  Wish me luck!

A few weeks ago I mentioned this Light Wheat Bread from Smitten Kitchen.  Since that initial loaf I have made probably a dozen more.  We love it.  It’s perfect for toast and sandwiches and croutons and feeling like a great baker.  The other night I was readying myself to make another loaf but I had a sudden craving for raisin toast.  How great would it be to make your own yummy version of this junk?  So, I started with the Smitten recipe, which Deb adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and came up with this:

The stuff dreams (and breakfat) are made of.

The stuff dreams (and breakfast) are made of.

I even attempted a little cinnamon swirl in the middle which you can’t at all see here, but trust me, it’s there.  There are many more process pictures and helpful hints and general professional-quality writing over on Deb’s original post.  Let me know what you think if you try it and have a great weekend my friends!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Makes one 2-lb. loaf

3 cups bread flour
1 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar plus more for swirl
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tsp cinnamon plus more for swirl
3 tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature

1. Stir together the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, powdered milk, cinnamon, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the butter, raisins, and water. Stir (I mix mine on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball.

2. Sprinkle bread or whole-wheat flour on the counter, and transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (I always just mix it on medium speed with the dough hook in my Kitchenaid).  Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine).  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel.

3. Let it rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long.  Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon and a light dusting of brown sugar.  You don’t want too much – it’s not a cinnamon roll.  Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough and pinching roll tight.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan and cover with a tea towel.

5. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

7. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes. The finished loaf should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

8. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for 2 hours before slicing.

99.99% of my attempts to recreate a beloved restaurant recipe end up as total, abject failures.  So, when I tried to unvent two of our very favourite tofu wraps; the Smoked Tofu Wrap from The Manx in Ottawa, and the Twister from Mondragon I had high hopes and low expectations.  I am so pleased to announce that it was a total success.  My food photography does it absolutely no justice whatsoever:

"I deserve better than this!" ~ delicious tofu

This seems like a lot of steps but they’re really not difficult and most of them take no effort whatsoever.

Southern Baked Smoked Tofu

Step 1:  Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch strips.  Drain and dry fry the tofu using the method described here.  This is really the key to getting the chewy, dare I say meaty texture of restaurant grade tofu.

Step 2: Marinate the tofu.  You can really use anything you have on hand to give the tofu some flavour.  If you want the smoked flavour make sure to include liquid smoke.  I used something like:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. liquid smoked
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 small chopped onion

Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour

Step 3: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Beat an egg with 1 tbsp water. *If you want to keep this recipe vegan you can use just water or a little soy milk or whatever will glue the coating to the tofu.*  In a large glass container with a lid or Ziploc freezer bag combine:

1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp garlic salt or powder
1/4 tsp onion salt or powder
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using garlic and onion salt)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

Dip the tofu strips in egg, dredge in flour mixture.

Step 4: Coat a large baking sheet with canola or vegetable oil. Spread tofu in an even layer.  Bake for 30 minutes, turning occasionally until all sides are brown.

Serve on a flour tortilla with sesame dressing and / or guacamole, lettuce and red onion.  Enjoy!

This would be a good theme for me to continue.  I often have tidbits that don’t deserve a full post.  So here goes:

  • Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake is amazing.  I didn’t even make the icing and it was so good.
  • Chris and I have been doing a little thrifting in the city hoping to find a sewing or dining table.  We haven’t had any table luck but…

    Buttonholer: 29 cents, awesome book: $4

    Buttonholer: 29 cents, awesome book: $4

  • I need a good pizza crust recipe.  I want a golden, light, airy crust not the floury, dense dud I always end up with.
  • While we’re at it I would love recommendations for a chunky, spicy, vegetarian tomato sauce.
  • I made a vegan blueberry cake this morning.  And then I slathered it with cream cheese frosting.

    Recipe from The Green Door Cookbook

    Recipe from The Green Door Cookbook

  • I requested and received the new Toast catalogue and while the clothes aren’t really my style I do want a pair of churidars.  They look lame on their own but under a tunic or dress they look so comfy and stylish.  I don’t have $68 CDN plus shipping to justify spending on leggings, however.
  • Can I just take a minute a solicit praise for not having bought any yarn since early November?  The only yarn I’ve bought has been with gift certificates and that was like four skeins.  I also haven’t bought any fabric except a half yard of flannel with some scant Etsy profits.  Thank you, thank you.
  • Tonight I’m going to try to copy Mondragon’s Twister wrap for dinner.  Wish me luck.

Chris works with this girl Julie. When in our first conversation she knew what Etsy was AND had a shop I knew she was worthy of my friendship.    She invited me over for jewlery making the other evening. I brought my tiny collection of seed beads and she rolled out two large shelving units packed with beautiful glass and wood and camel dung beads.  This girl is serious about beading.  She let me dive in and guided me to my first jewlery ever.

First Try

First Try

I really liked these green beads but I kind of regret them here.  It seems like I needed either more or less.

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

I prefer this one.

Now we all need to convince Julie to reopen her shop!

Despite my joint’s pleas for mercy I have been knitting.  Just before we left Japan Erin and I went to our local yarn store and I fell in love with some very soft alpaca and acrylic (!) variegated yarn.  Of course I only bought three balls so it sat around for three years.  Upon seeing Alex and Tehri’s beautiful feather and fan shawls I knew what it was destined to be.  A tea cozy!  Just kidding.  Hardy har.

Cozy

Cozy

Pattern: Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl by Sarah Bradberry

Yarn: Diakeito Diaparterre – 3 skeins

Needles: 5.1 mm (silly Japanese sizes) circ and 8.0 mm crochet hook

Warmy

Warmy

This grew a lot with blocking but also lost a bit of its cushiness.  I did the crochet across the top but I actually had to do a few rows because it looked really crappy.  I still think it’s perfectly presentable without the crochet but I ordered the Brittany hook from ebay so I was damn well going to use it.

Did I mention this is my first shawl ever?!  I need all the avid shawl wearers to tell me how and when they wear theirs please.

Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention that today is my little siter Diane’s sweet sixteen.  Happy birthday sweetie!

I haven’t been so crafty lately – mostly because I still don’t have a table for my sewing machine and the sweetheart socks effed up my wrist and forearm with it’s punishing tight gauge.  We still eat though so here’s some food!

  • Over a month ago I was at work and our tv auto tuned to Martha and Chris got sucked in.  An hour later he was jogging to the grocery store to buy ingredients for these.
    Boston Cream Cupcakes

    Boston Cream Cupcakes!

    So delicious.  I would suggest perhaps not putting the filling in unless you’re eating them right away because it tends to get sucked into the cake.

  • I have been obsessed with this easy, nutritious weeknight meal.
  • I love making my own soup stock but the recipe I had been using from The New Vegetarian Epicure had you chopping up fresh veggies which just seemed like a waste.  A tip from last month’s Martha Stewart Living suggested saving all your vegetable skins and leaves in the freezer until you need them.  Awesome!

    Stock Photo

    Stock Photo

  • I never really got biscotti.  If I wanted a dried out cookie I’d buy a bag of Chips A’hoy.  I was wrong.
    Tea Break

    Tea Break

    These are the fig and walnut biscotti from Smitten and they are amazing.  Seriously.  The mint chocolate cookie was not so impressive so it was whizzed into a tasty pie crust for chocolate tofu pie.

  • Another Smitten miracle:
    Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

    Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

    I had to substitute olive oil for the veg oil because I was out and I found the cakes themselves to be a little off but the icing is a big keeper.

  • One benefit to living on a reserve is fresh bannock at the grocery store!
    Bread + Frying = Yum

    Bread + Frying = Yum

    This is only good immediately so we were forced to eat a huge amount on the first day. Poor us.

  • Now I’ve made myself hungry and I’m off to work.  Have a great week!