Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cooking & Quilting

Good Saturday morning to  you!   We here in Southern California, are experiencing our first real heat wave of the summer.  Triple digits, with a dose of humidity.  UGH!!!!   I went out early yesterday and did my chores.  I froze water in clean quart size paper boxes that half and half and buttermilk come in, and put those in my chicken's water dishes.  I even had to mist them down a couple of times yesterday.  My plan for the day was to stay inside and sew, since it was too hot to enjoy the outdoors.  But first, I had to do something with the large collection of tomatoes that were accumulating on the kitchen counter.  So I picked cilantro and some jalapeno peppers, and green onions, and made some salsa.  Let's cook.
I put a large pot of water on to boil.  I drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, and with a big bowl of ice water nearby, I remove the tomatoes after only a minute or so, when the skin breaks on the tomato, and then drop them right down into the ice water.
Normally, I would steam my jalapenos in a little water until fork tender.  But since I had this pot going, I just dropped them in, and let them cook for about 3 minutes.  When the skin breaks on the tomato,  remove with a slotted spoon, into the ice water. 

The skin will then slip off with ease.
With the best tool for the job, your clean hands, squish the tomatoes into chunky pieces.  Then pour off any liquid remaining in bowl.   Give your cilantro and green onions a rough chop.  I like it chunky.  Of course, if you prefer, you can give them a more fine chop.
I use lots of fresh garlic.  I peel and rough chop, then put into a mortar and pestle, add a good T of sea salt, and grind into a thick paste.
Dump all into a large bowl, and mix.  Add freshly cracked pepper, and the juice of half of one lemon or lime.  I made a small batch this time, usually I would use a whole lemon or lime.
This fresh salsa is delicious with chips, or over scrambled eggs.  We also love it over tri trip steak!!!  Oh heck, we could eat it straight out of the bowl!!!  Erika was here, and she took a bowl of it home with her.  I will be making more in a few days, after the tomatoes stack up again.
Here is where our dogs like to be on hot days.  Splayed out on the cool brick floor in the kitchen.  I gave them both baths the other day, and gave Ducey his summer hair cut too.Look at that handsome Dusty!!!
After Erika and Noah left, I went in to spend the rest of the day in my sewing room to work on some quilting.  Come on in.
 I have two lap size quilt tops, and about 4 table toppers that are waiting in the wings for me to quilt them.  I decided to do this pretty summer table topper first.  I had bought this charm pack a long time ago, and I have forgotten the name of the line.  But I love the fabric.  I simply sewed the blocks in rows, using random placement.  No borders even.  Just a rows of pretty fabric squares.
I did an all over meander on this.  I am still learning with my free motion quilting.  I don't feel confident enough to do much else yet.  This is all good practice for me to get comfortable with the free motion feeling.  If you have a machine where the feed dogs drop, and an open toe, or darning foot,  you can try free motion on your home machine.  I have a heavy duty Viking.  It is old, but it is a gem.  I bought it for 200 dollars from my sewing machine repair guy, Ted Lloyd.  He knew I was in the market for a better machine, and he advised me to buy this one.  He had refurbished it, and it had all of the instruction books and attachments.  It was in perfect condition.  So I bought it, and I love it!!!
It performs all of the stitches you see on the color grid at the top of the machine.  It came with these 8 cams, that you insert into the back, and they perform those designated stitches.  It is a very heavy duty machine, with a fairly large throat space for doing free motion quilting.  The one stitch it does not have, that I wish it did, is blanket stitch.  But I fudge one with another similar stitch.  You can see the bear I have done on the practice swatch on the machine.   I am still in the market for a good quilting machine, but I do love this Viking!
So, let's quilt.  I drop my feed dogs, turn the tension down a bit, and turn the tension on pressure foot down.  Use your machine's guide book to know where on your machine.  Make sure you have plenty of back up bobbins wound.  It is so frustrating to run out while quilting!  You will use a lot of thread when machine quilting.  I think I used three entire bobbins on this small table topper!  I used an aqua thread in the upper, and a seafoam green in the bobbin for this quilt.  Now, there are many methods for machine quilting.  Some spray baste their batting and fabric sandwich together.  I have done that.  But I don't like the needle getting all gunked up.  Some use safety pins.  I have tried that, and don't like it either.  Too cumbersome to remove!!  I simply press the three pieces of the sandwich together, making sure to iron out any and all wrinkles.  Then I begin in the middle of the quilt, working my way up to one end, then down the other.  I do this in sections.  Taking the quilt off the machine after each section is done, and pressing again to make sure all three layers are smooth and without any puckering.
But first, I get my fingertips well coated with my magic fingers!!!  It can be found in the stationary department of the drugstore.  It is used by postal carriers, and folks that work with money or lots of papers.  You just run your fingers along the waxy substance, and your fingers will grip the fabric, making it much easier to help glide the quilt along.  It leaves no residue, or color.  And I SWEAR by this stuff!!!!  I use it whenever I  sew anything!

Get your work area ready.  Pins nearby.  Set your drink on your favorite mug rug! (thank you Niki!)
Get comfy, and begin.
My machine has a light cover that tilts.  I can pull it down for more direct light onto my project, which I love when machine quilting.  My machine does not however, have needle down.  So when I do pause, I always make sure to put my needle down to ensure that there is no slipping or shifting.  If you do run out of bobbin during the process, like I did, mark the spot where you had to stop with a pin, and remove the quilt.   Snip your thread close, then fill your bobbin again.
Replace your quilt exactly to the spot where you marked it.  Begin again with a fast stitch, going over the same area where you snipped the threads, then slow it back down, and proceed.  Always snip off your bottom thread and beginning tail after the first few stitches so that you don't machine stitch over them.
Working in grids, makes it so much easier, and then you aren't so overwhelmed.  So visually mark your quilt top off into sections, working only in those sections at a time.  Begin in the middle. Then do the sides.  The back of your quilt should be just as pretty as the front.  For the back of this, I used a coordinating rose in dusty pink.
When done, trim the excess batting and backing off with your rotary cutter and prepare your binding.  I used a smaller binding for this, and although it looks okay, I prefer using a wider binding. 
Pin your binding onto the quilt front, mitering each of your corners as you go.
Stitch to about 1/8 inch from edge, pull fabric out and away, but don't clip threads.  Fold your corner over as seen above.  Then back to make your miter.
Place your work back under the needle, beginning to stitch at the corner, and proceed to next corner.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have switched to a walking foot on my machine, and have raised the feed dogs again.  A walking foot makes binding so much easier!!   Your mitered corner should look like this.
When done sewing binding all the way around, take to the ironing board and press, then pin excess to back side and hand stitch the binding down all the way.  I then washed my quilt top, on gentle cycle, and hung out on the line to dry.  Which took about 10 minutes in this heat!
I love this fabric!  So soft and feminine.  And it doesn't go with anything in my house.  Except, my sewing room!  So that is where I put it!
I put it on this pretty reproduction tea cart.  My sewing room is soft pink and green, with pops of aqua and red.  The antique mailbox on the wall above the cart I bought at one of my favorite haunts.  It was black and dirty.  I washed it, and painted it aqua.  I use it to hold my Joann's flyers, and other catalogs that I like to order from.   Above that on the wall, is an antique red tin.  I have some magnets on it.
The pretty scrolly paper with my initial and all of my  kids and grandkids names on, was made for me by my artist friend Denise.  She gave it to me for Mother's Day.
I just love this!!!! 
I have three more table toppers ready to go.  They are all pressed together with their batting and backing.
I think I will do the Patriotic one first and take it with us for our lake weekend over the 4th.
Then the beautiful panel for Fall!  Oh how I love this panel!  And then my Autumnal looking pinwheels.
Yesterday, I also remade a pillow for my grandson Noah.  He had this minky pillow that he loved.  Erika   washed it several times, and it became all lumpy and mishapen.  She wound up throwing it away.  I retrieved it, thinking I could fix it for him.  I forgot to take a photo of what it looked like before I began.  But it was a big square pillow.  I snipped off the top seam, and dumped out all of that shredded stuffing inside.
What a mess!  That doesn't look very comfy does it?  I took in both sides of the pillow to fit a standard size pillow.  Then took this bit of soft flannel I had, and made a top edge for the pillow case.  The color doesn't coordinate perfectly, but I think it works just fine to save this soft minky pillow for Noah. The flannel top is doubled for strength and durability.

I washed it, and hung it on the line to dry. Now Noah has his soft Minky pillow back, and Erika can wash it like any other pillow case.
My sewing nest is a favorite place for me.  It is packed to the gills with my favorite things.  A couple years ago, while Mom and I were at a cooking class, I spotted this farm house table for sale.  I knew it would be the perfect fit for my sewing room.

My beautiful Feather Weight, that belonged to my Dad's sister Connie.  I use this thing like crazy. They are wonderful workhorses.  I do all of my piecing on it, and take it to classes.
 It has plenty of room for the two machines I use the most.  And lots of surface for large projects.  It holds all of my tools at the ready, as well as a few family photos and special gifts I have received from family and friends.
I use this butcher block table as my cutting table.  It is tall and holds my large cutting mat perfectly.
Adequate lighting is essential.  I have a light tree to the left for any additional light I may need.  As well as an Ott light.  I often sit at my stool there when making Bloomies and doing a lot of cutting.  You can see the two lap size quilt tops I have there, ready to quilt as well.  Those were both easy strip quilts made with precut strips of fabric.  You sew them randomly, and then cut a section off of the beginning and end of the long strip, to form the design.
In the closet, I have a bookcase that houses a good portion of my stash.  I wallpapered inside the closet, removed the doors, and had a friend install an electricity plate so I could plug in a light.
A few years ago, I decided to take my wedding dress out of the box it was put in when cleaned, almost 34 years ago!  I have a wicker dress form, and I ADORE having it out on display to enjoy!!!!  It was a very simple, but elegant dress, with a Queen Ann neckline.  It was very similar in design to Kate's!
When we moved Nana recently, I had a big batch of things to take to the Goodwill.  In her costume jewelry, I found this very old, very real, double strand of pearls.  I put it around the neck of my dress form.  I love it.
On another wall, I have a desk with bookcase.  This belonged to Erika when she was a young girl.  She didnt' want it, so I kept it and put it in here.
I am going to paint that chair aqua!  To the right of this, I have a few of my boutique items that I sell.  I found the aqua stool while shopping with friends.
To the left of the desk is a shutter I dumpster dove for, years ago.  I keep patterns and such clipped to this.
In the corner I have a floral wing chair where I love to sit and crochet, or knit.
Of course the big pillow gets tossed to the floor!  The cream colored ottoman I found at Target a couple of years ago.  It is the perfect size for in  here, and the top comes off for storage inside too.  More yarn!
I have a design wall above the farm table.
And I put another design wall on the back of the door.
I love the floral fabric bunting I made a while back.  It adds a fun touch of whimsy.
As you can see, I have a lot of stuff in here.  I could sure use a bigger room.  But I use every single thing in here.  I love being in this room.  It is right off the back patio and pool.  It is a perfect hideout for me!
Thanks for cooking and sewing with me today.
I want to say hi and welcome to all of my new followers!  I have tried to visit all of you.  Some of you don't seem to have a blog though?
And before I close today, I want to show you what I got in the mail the other day from my friend Astri (Lizzie) over at Apple Blossom Dreams  She had posted the other day, and I commented on how much I loved her red pillows.  She sent them to me!!!!!!  What a doll!  I love them!!!
I have tried them out in several different places.
They have found their permanent home on the refurbished swing underneath the giant avocado trees.  My friend and I sat out there the other night as the sun was setting.  It makes for a little added comfort on your back, and they look so pretty out there.  I will show you a picture next time.  Thank you Lizzie...I love them!!!  Be watching for your little thank you gift in the mail.  I will take it to the post office on Monday.
Today we are getting the boat ready to take to the lake.  Greggers wants to bring it up today.  So we may have a bit of a float this afternoon up in beautiful Big Bear.  It will much cooler there!!!!
Have a great weekend!
XO  Kris


Holly said...

You, my dear friend, are the busiest, most productive person I know. You are so talented. Everything you make is just gorgeous. I love that sewing room. So sweet and cozy. Enjoy your time at the lake. Miss you

45th Parallel Quilter said...

Thank you for welcoming me into your home ... I totally enjoyed the tour ;-) Have a wonderful stay at the lake ... travel safe and HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!! Linda

Kelli said...

Such a wonderful craft room! I LOVE the beautiful bunting you made in your craft cute! And your new pillows how fun are those.
Stay cool we are at 108 today and tomorrow and my poor son is in a soccer tournament this weekend. 3:30 games both today and tomorrow!

Susanne said...

I love this post! I love that you invited us into your sewing room. It is always fun to see the things that someone surrounds themselves with that makes them happy in their work space. I love the shutter idea. I have a set that my daughter was going to pitch out. They were once on a closet that she had her dad convert into a bookshelf space. I grabbed up the doors much to my husband's grumbling, "What ya gonna do with those?" I have seen them used in family rooms where you can hang and display family pictures from the louvers, or made into room dividers, etc. Now you have given me another great idea. I haven't been doing much of anything except yard work. It has been hot and steamy here too, the kind of weather that all you have to do is stand in one place and the sweat drips down your face. Our corn fields are not knee high by the 4th of July, but head high from all the rain. I feel for you guys though, it must be so miserable with triple digit temps.
Keep cool,
Susanne ♥

Dawn said...

Wow those are some hot temps. I would stay inside too. Love the tabletop quilt the colors are so pretty.

Astri said...

Aw Kris - you are so sweet. Thanks for the cute pic of the pillows and the link. Oh and that sewing room - wow! Salsa looks luscious - Much gratitude for the tomato peeling technique, I will be trying that one! :-)

Lynne said...

Great post Kris! I loved seeing your sewing room, and all your projects. You have some real purty quilts going on there!
Yay for homemade salsa- especially on tri-tip, my favorite!!!!!
Try and keep cool this week!

NanaNor's said...

Hi Kris, I'm taking a short quilting break and now you've inspired to get in and finish the baby quilt. I had to stop to see if I could find hubby an airline flight(he is at SFO and there were no standby seats and no flights on the airline until Monday-they were sold out too). Guess it doesn't save money to fly standby, cause now he'll have to try to purchase a last minute flight and pay big bucks. Anyway, I love your quilt projects and great job machine quilting. I tried it once but hated it, so prefer to sit and stitch by hand.
Always love seeing what you are up too.
Hugs, Noreen

~Niki~ said...

what a great post. and love your craft/sewing room! I used to only do free motion on my quilts. now I just do straight lines...when I quilt, which is now like twice a year LOL. it's 119 here today :(

Gloria Baker said...

OMY dear you never stop Kris and really admire you LOL
love your tomatos and love the quilt always love the quilt is an amazing art and beautiful!!

Betsy said...

This was a great post Kris! The salsa looks delicious. This is the same method I use for peeling tomatoes for my chili sauce.
Your sewing room is fabulous and I'm super jealous. :-). The quilting tutorial was wonderful too. Thank you for sharing your day with us. It was like spending time with a good with a friend.

Poppy said...

Hi Kris,

Is this what you call SIMPLFY?!! My gosh, girl, do you ever stop?! Lucky for us, you don't - your quilt is so pretty, the salsa looks scrumptious (thanks for all the tips and pics!) and the bunting is charming! Those pillow are TOO adorable - lucky you!


priscilla said...

Love your sewing room Kris ! Quilting is one craft I have never tried .. Looks so hard to me even though I sew ! Love your table top quilt ! Such a nice gift from Astri ! Love her blog :)Hope you have a great 4th of July !


You have a very Lovely sewing room and I absolutely LOVE your table top quilt.. Very pretty indeed. I wish you and your family a very Happy 4th of JULY. Hugs Judy

Debbie said...

I thoroughly loved your little tutorial on machine quilting. As you know I am preparing to try my hand at this. I may have to ask you a lot of questions as I get going. I think it seems quite fun and somewhat relaxing...I hope I am not sadly mistaken, haha. I LOVE your little lap quilt. I think I am going to make some Christmas tree skirts (as gifts) as some of my first tries. We will see. Got to get my machine first. How I would love that sewing's perfect! Enjoy your day Kris!

Patty said...

I really enjoyed your post today. I didn't know you we're a quilter too! Thanks for the tour of your creative space. I love seeing how people set things up. Enjoy the boat ride!

Mereknits said...

I love those red pillows. they are perfect in your wicker chair and I imagine on your swing. Thanks so much for including us in the tour of your room. It is so wonderful to have a place just for us, for our special things, a place that gives us peace.
Have fun in Big Bear.

Hanne said...


podso said...

Wow! So much to take in! First of all sorry about your heat! I can just picture the misting of the chicks to cool them down. The salsa looks so good. Maybe if we harvest enough tomatoes in our tiny garden I can be making some of that. Your quilts and your work space look wonderful!

by Teresa said...

Hi Kris! Golly you are one amazing lady, full of energy and doing so many things it makes my head spin! We are having a heat wave, but nothing like yours. It was almost 90 yesterday, but we have 2 ACs going in the house for relief. But we're spending time on the deck and D and K and T are working on building the play structure, I can't wait to show photos of it! I *LOVE* Shell Seekers.. thank you so much! No in detail s*x scenes.. thank heavens! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Jill said...


Your room is just lovely and I love your quilts! Your wedding dress is gorgeous, what a great idea to display it like that. :-). I have attempted sewing before but need some "formal" lessons, I get frustrated when the string comes off the I have given up after several attempts, lol, but I just love homemade items. That was so sweet of your blog friend to send those pillows to you. They are beautiful! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Anonymous said...

Loved touring your sewing nest! I made a charm square quilt with the same fabrics and did the meander quilting on my LA machine, my quilt looks just like yours. :)
I too have a dress form in my LA room but she doesn't have a dress on (yet) ... I have some of my late Grandma's old "housedresses" and may try one out. Right now I have felted wool purses draped over one of the shoulders and a potato chip scarf around the neck with a matching sock hat perched on top. I love your energy, Kris, you are amazing!!! xo c

The Garden Bell - Kate said...

Wowza. That is some post. You have been quite the busy gal. So much fun and so much to see.

Tania @ Out Back said...

Wow what a gorgeous sewing room. It must be a treat to own your own space where you are able to create til your hearts content.

Love your beautiful wedding gown...


Grayseasailor said...

The salsa looks so good, and thanks for all your tips about how you make yours, Kris!!!
I LOVED seeing your sewing room!!! Such good practical ideas and charming and cheery, too!!!
Gracie xx