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1  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Unicorn cushion cover, paper pieced with a twist on: September 15, 2018 10:19:10 AM
Birthday present for a little girl.

I followed this interesting tutorial for paper piecing with freezer paper instead of tissue. You fold it out of the way of the stitch lines instead of sewing through it so at the end you don't have to do any tearing and can use the pattern again and again.

Here's the pattern I drafted based on a photo my daughter liked. There were 3 main sections.

I found it a bit tricky to be honest so I made another the traditional way. I can't recommend either above the other though I do think the tutorial would work better for smaller blocks, this one might have been too large and unwieldy to rely on the stickiness of freezer paper alone to secure things.

It is stitched in the ditch and the backing is this soft, floofy, knobby stuff that's tricky to sew, I used lots of pins and also reinforced the seams with a line of tailor's tape to keep the woven and stretch fabrics even under the machine foot. There's a layer of fusible interfacing on the front too, just in case it's handled roughly I didn't want the piecing to come apart anywhere or it would be a pain to repair.

I will fix the dog ears on the second cushion and in retrospect, perhaps the teal zipper wasn't the best choice for this one or I could have added a fold to cover it. It hardly shows when the form is in the cover though so done on time will be good enough for this project.
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Casserole, I never "got" them until now on: September 12, 2018 02:27:57 PM
I couldn't figure out what a casserole was supposed to be, the recipes for them are all over the place! What was the guiding principle behind the dish, there didn't seem to be a rule I could discern. I think I finally get it now though, it's just stuff, often left overs, that combine well, baked together until bubbly and very often topped with cheese or crumbs. Eureka!

This one is left over rice and black beans with corn, diced fresh tomato, chopped up bbq chicken, topped with cheese and served with salsa and sour cream (or yogurt, that's what we had) on the side. The kids are so happy with this meal. It's basically their favourite burrito filling so how can you go wrong?

I would really love your favourite casserole recipes. I'm pretty sure with enough of them I can get the kids to cook a few more dinners on their own. Yay, freedom from the stove! Cheesy
3  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Scrapbooking: Completed Projects / A journal from you and me for EdelC on: September 03, 2018 06:59:16 AM
I asked round to see if a few of you wanted to send some little notes and such to include in a journal for edelC and was sent some really lovely little bits and pieces of encouragement and affection for our friend who has gone through a great deal this past year. Thank you all very much for contributing and to anybody who didn't get a chance, there's no reason you couldn't send a note now for Edel to include with the others Smiley.

The cover is a lovely silk sari I made curtains for our bedroom with, there was a piece left over and this seemed the perfect project for that precious little bit.

The metallic embroidery did funny things when fused to stabilizer on the reverse but I liked the texture it made so that was all good.

The front inside pocket lining is this watery batik I really love and an assortment of fun ribbons for place holders.

Look at all the love from you people! I see bits from Wulf, Onyxnox, pottermouth, geekgirl1000100, I think the envelop with the letter inside is from fatewineroses and the circular yellow note from Kayrun. I think. The journal took over 3 months to arrive, I thought I would remember every detail but that's a long time for mom-brain to hold onto things! These are scattered throughout the book so as Edel is jotting notes she'll come across random little sentiments from far away friends <3.

Here are some lovelies from lindyv321, I think the atc sized card is from alteredmommy, Edel please confirm I have that one correct.

These ones are from rackycoo and Abbeeroad, also card fronts and decorated envelop bits from your letters to me.  

Here are stamps from the cards and letters people sent and a flamingo card from someone, Edel please let me know who sent that one too.

Both front and back pocket were jammed with bits for fun scrapbooking, there are so many tid bits from your letters in here too, friends. You are going to be included in a lot of future projects!

It was wrapped in this larger piece of rainbow woven boro stitch, I hope you'll find something good to do with that Edel Smiley.

And just to let you know, it was received at her first day back to work after the summer break and yes, it did make her cry lots of happy tears. Our loving each other through this awesome crafty place makes a difference in each other's lives. Thank you all again, so much. This is the best place anywhere!
4  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / A tiny succulent for the brown thumbed (with tutorial) on: August 31, 2018 06:38:55 AM
The young lad asked for a plant in his room but since he recently murdered his ceiling lamp shade  Undecided I thought I'd spare any of my green babies a similar fate & make him this instead.

Start by creating a padded base for the pot by tacking down felt cut into exactly the shape you want the end product to be.

Next, stitch rows over the felt like so, then weave from side to side:

Secure each row through the fabric right next to the very side of the felt shape so the weaving won't pull in to the centre. Then add another piece of felt for the lip of the pot and stitch over that as well.

The leaves are detached woven picot worked in 3 shades of green but I think at this scale I could have just used one colour. The hoop is 3", the tiny teracotta pot is about 1".

I haven't given it to him yet, I'm making a couple more to hang in a group. Fun!
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Black eyed peas and squash soup on: August 29, 2018 11:08:32 AM
This has been a fave for decades, I could honestly eat it every single day. I think I like it more than Phở and that is really saying something because I LOVE Phở!

I hardly ever measure things so my recipes consist of rough directions, not always appropriate for a novice, I know and I apologize if it doesn't make sense to you. I never learned how to cook "properly" so I just wing it.

broth or water for as much soup as you'd like to make
black eyes peas (sub another creamy white flesh bean if desired)
pepper squash (sub for your fave, this one pairs beautifully with the beans), peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
olive oil or equivalent
onion, chopped into small squares
celery, chopped into small pieces
garlic, minced or crushed
fresh thyme branches, whole
bay leaf, whole
jalapeo pepper, cut in half and de-seeded (as many as you want, I use one and sometimes none)
fresh cilantro, leaves pulled loose from stems
fresh lime, cut into small 1/2 wedges
salt and pepper

There is more than one way to prepare this soup, I'll post some variations below but here is the basic method:
-Precook the beans in salted water to al dente. They simply take too much longer than everything else to soften, if cooked together all will be mush before those beans are edible. Ask me how I know  Undecided. While cooking, prep the rest.
-Bring broth to a boil with the thyme, jalapeo, bay, salt and pepper to taste. While it is simmering, prepare all else. It can simmer, covered, for as long as you'd like. Eventually the thyme leaves will fall off and the stems can be removed along with the bay leaf.
-Saut onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt in oil until beginning to soften, add garlic and squash pieces, saut 2-5 minutes more, stirring often.
-Add this mixture to the hot broth along with the beans.
-Simmer until the squash is tender.
-Garnish the bowls of soup with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

The squash can be peeled and boiled in the soup with everything else but I like to partially roast it instead. It's still very firm here but soft enough to be spooned or hand-peeled from the shell then broken up into bite-sized chunks. I add this just before serving, enough time to warm up in the broth but not cook much further. My mister likes it this way best, he says they are like squash dumplings.

In recent years I've found beans more challenging to digest so I try to always use dried and sprout them for a couple of days first. This is a very simple process, soak the dried beans in water overnight, drain and set them in a strainer over a plate on the counter. Rinse twice daily (giving the beans a bit of a shake to bring the bottom ones up to the top) until the sprout is as long as the bean, that is the point of optimum nutrition. In warmer weather this could take 1-2 days, 3 or even 4 if it's very cool in the room. No matter, they can be used when the sprout is smaller but they tend to lose texture if they are left to sprout for longer than recommended. If you find they are attracting fruit flies cover loosely with some netting or a piece of cut up tshirt. They need air but not light to sprout nicely.
If you feel this is too much work for a pot of soup, I will sometimes sprout lots, cook them to al dente and then freeze portions for another time. Sprouts don't freeze well because they are alive but cooked beans freeze perfectly, even if sprouted first.

*** they cook in a fraction of the time it takes from dried, adjust recipes accordingly when sprouting first.
And of course you can just use canned beans for this recipe.

Add chicken pieces, add crushed corn chips just before serving, add chopped avocado, add sliced green onions. I have even served it with a bit of rice. We made it for dinner with a vegetarian and a meat eater so added chicken to just some bowls. Everybody was very happy with this yummy soup, the cilantro and lime make it extra delish.

I also tried making a gluten-free version of tabouleh with quinoa but yuck, what a gloopy, gloppy mess it is. Eww. Nobody wanted to eat that, not even me. Sad.
6  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Mini bell jar lawn/garden ornament scene. on: August 27, 2018 02:50:19 PM
For our flamingo lovin' friend edelC, of course Cheesy.

I kept it as small as possible for her limited display space.

Just look how dang cute the gnome's teensy face is!

He is a ceramic bead, I added a bit of clay to his hat to hide the hole, it's painted with nail polish to match the rest of his hat.
The flamingo is on a round pink base, I needed a pointy toothpick to get glue and mini grass in between those toes!

sheepBlue ordered the flamingo to her house and mailed it to me in Canada to save me so much shipping cost. That tiny little thing was a big community effort in the end Cheesy.
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Wee gnome home tea cosy on: August 27, 2018 02:40:10 PM
Made for my sweet friend edelC so it will hopefully feel like I am there having comfort cups of tea with her sometimes Smiley.

Front and back.

Here it is after stitching the leafy vine across.

I had a wee kitty button that looked so sweet lounging in the grass and flowers.

Our tea pot has the same dimensions but is a titch shorter, in any case it was a good size to try it on.

Voila, it fits! Oh, this will be fun to serve tea to guests in. Just have to find some funny shaped biscuits to go with it Cheesy.

Both the outer layer and inner lining are natural fiber sweater fabric shrunk in the wash and should keep things quite warm.
8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Savory veggie stuffed flaky pastry. on: August 26, 2018 08:40:14 PM
Oh, these were sooo tasty.

4 layers of phyllo, each brushed with butter, the filling was:

Olive oil carmellized onion with salt & black pepper, garlic added in the last 5 mins.
Remove from pan, deglaze with liquid (beer, wine, stock, juice, or water), add & sweat finely chopped kale with fresh or dried herbs of choice (I used oregano & basil). A splash of citrus juice is nice too, I had lime.
I included tiny diced potato cooked al dente but next time I'll leave them out, the pastry softens the green flavour enough on it's own.
Crumble in feta or goat cheese, taste & adjust spices. Fold or roll pastry into the shape of choice. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet & brush with melted butter, bake at 350 for half an hour.

I can't show more  photos because they were devoured licketty split but believe me, you want to make & eat these.

As you work, cover the phyllo sheets with a damp tea towel, the folded pastries as well before brushing with the final coating of butter. This will keep the pastry supple & tender.
9  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / The tiniest bees give the sweetest honey on: August 25, 2018 11:37:41 AM
Made for a friend who has a salon called "Honey-Bee".

I recommend a bigger screen than this little 3 incher, or a powerful magnifier. My poor eyes.

Here are close ups of the 3 sisters; Teeny


And Buzz
10  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Discussion and Questions / Stumpwork embroidery tools! on: August 21, 2018 02:01:14 PM
LOOK WHAT I GOT!!! They are called embroidery shoes or half cone sticks and are used as a resist for creating things like needle lace blossoms in stumpwork embroidery. Also in the photo is a Couronne (or Hedebo) stick.

I found the name of a fella in the US, Bruce Bassett, on this blog and sent him an email. Great communication from him, speedy delivery even across the border to Canada, and lovely, lovely little pieces of wooden art. They are such fine tools, incredibly smooth and delicate. I am so excited to work with them! Bruce thoughtfully suggested the Couronne (or Hedebo) stick which I had not read much about but ordered along with the shoes anyhow. I'm glad I did, even though it is primarily intended for Hedebo lace I can see how it would be versatile to use for all sorts of measured stitches.

Here are some flowers made with a half cone stick.

And from that blog a step-by-step of the technique used for the fox glove flower. Pretty, right?
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