Monday, August 25, 2008

Fall Purse Giveaway

If anyone loves tote bags and purses as much as I do, be sure to check out Bonnie's giveaway at Calamity Jane's Cottage. Don't forget to mention you found the giveaway on my blog.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can't seem to get out of the kitchen today . . .

Ever have one of those days when it seems you spend most of it in the kitchen? I love to bake but dislike to cook. This morning DH wanted buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. This is actually my fault as it used to be that DH made breakfast on Sundays. However several months ago I got the hair-brain idea to make buttermilk pancakes from scratch using Alton Brown's recipe (Good Eats on The Food Network). So I made pancakes for DH. I noticed there were a couple bananas left from the bunch I purchased earlier in the week. The only thing they were good for was banana bread. However my recipe calls for 5 to 6 bananas (it makes 4 loaves) and since I only had 3 bananas . . . I remembered a recipe I found in a recent issue of a magazine for Banana Crumb Cake. Since it only called for one cup of mashed bananas, I knew I found my recipe! Luckily I had the ingredients needed on hand. About 30 minutes later, the banana crumb cake was baking in the oven.
I then remembered that my oldest DS wanted macaroni salad with dinner tonight. So after cleaning up the breakfast dishes and the bowls, etc. from the crumb cake, I began making the macaroni salad -- it is rare that either of my sons eat dinner with us so when they make an appearance I usually try to accommodate their requests. Silly me .... about a hour before dinner my oldest DS comes downstairs and asks if I would make the seasoned potatoes with dinner -- what about the macaroni salad, I ask. Oh he wants both -- so back into the kitchen to make the potatoes while DH grills the steaks. Then of course there is the clean-up after dinner.

Oh well at least I was able to spend an hour sitting on the deck with a bit of handwork!

Below is the recipe for the banana nut crumb cake.

Crumb Topping:
2 cups flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 cup mashed banana (2 large)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
confectioner's sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9x2 pan with non stick aluminum foil -- the ends will hang over the edge of the pan.

Crumb topping; mix flour and brown sugar in bowl. cut in butter with two knives until mixture forms coarse crumbs. mix in nuts.

Cake: mix bananas, oil, sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon and salt with whisk until combined. Stir in flour and baking soda until blended. Spread evenly in lined pan and crumble topping on top.

Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Lift foil by ends onto cutting board. cut into squares, sprinkle with Confectioner's sugar.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quilts, museums and London, England

As soon as I read about this book on Kathie's blog, I knew I had to find a copy. During my whirlwind two day tour of London several years ago while on a business trip I was unable to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. However, one of my closest friends is celebrating a milestone birthday next year and her husband is sending her to England. Guess who is going with her? The Victoria and Albert Museum is high on my list of places to visit along with Westminster Abbey which was closed for Sunday services when we were there. As we plan our trip for next year, I plan to include some of the English countryside and hopefully a quilt shop or two although I know the fabric is far more expensive across the pond.

Catching up . . .

I started this piece at the beginning of the summer. It is a good feeling to know that I was able to finish the stitching and piece the setting triangles and border before summer's end. My hope is that I will be able to quilt and bind it prior to the first guild meeting next month. It would be a good show and tell of what I accomplished this summer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't been quilting that much over the summer. I am enjoying my handwork projects and sitting in the backyard enjoying the nice weather. Before long, we will be dealing with the Northeast winters.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Sewing Machine Day

Did you know on this day in 1851 Isaac M. Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine? By 1860 Singer had become the largest manufacturer of sewing machines and by 1863 he held 20 patents for his machines.

I hope each of you are able to spend time with your machines today whether they are Singers, Berninas or Pfaffs -- that is my plan as soon as I get home from work!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, August 11, 2008

If you can't beat them . . . .

Everyone seems to be working on tumbler quilts these days (Kathi / Megan). So it seem only fitting that I dig out my thimble template that I purchased at the Lancaster, PA show this past March and start cutting up my scraps. Well I don't have that big of scrap basket as I usually pass them along to a friend who loves scrap quilts. Fortunately for me I haven't seen her in quite some time so I had a scrap bag to pick from for my thimbles. I also have been putting aside small pieces of my civil war reproductions in the anticipation of one day cutting thimbles to make a doll quilt.

I spent an hour tonight cutting usable scraps from my scrap bag and the small pieces of civil war reproductions into thimbles. I have a nice little pile started for both quilts considering I only spent one hour cutting.

I have to admit the thimble is small and it takes time to get used to cutting around such a small template. I used a small rotary cutter which was very helpful. I am considering putting a dot of sandpaper on it so it won't slide around. However I don't want to lose the ability to see through the template in case I want to align a motif in the center. Maybe I will get better with practice. I also think it would be easier to cut the template from a strip of fabric rather than 2 or 3 inch scraps.

Of course it might have been easier to start with my 3" tumbler and ease into tumbler quilts . . .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Old Sturbridge Village

On our way home from Maine last week, we stopped at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA. If you are ever in the area, it is a great place to spend the afternoon. There are buildings which date back to the 1800's as well as demonstrations of life during that time period. There were a few quilts and embroidery samplers on display. One of the items that caught my attention was this sewing table. It has a drawer where you could store your sewing tools and then a second drawer with a cloth bag attached which was a storage area for your sewing. I thought it was a very neat idea.
I told DH that I was going to write Norm at the New Yankee Workshop and suggest he recreate this sewing table. This way DH would be able to purchase the plans and make one for me. He didn't buy it --- oh well I tried. Maybe I can convince my brother to make one for me . . . . .
On our way out of the village DH suggested we wander through the gift shop. I think DH regretted his suggestion as soon as we entered --- there were numerous bolts of fabric of what else but the reproduction line "Old Sturbridge Village". Since I have been neglecting my Civil War Diary blocks and I probably have enough civil war reproductions to make numerous civil war quilts, I resisted the temptation to purchase any fabrics. Besides, I had a number of them in my stash already -- but don't tell DH.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back from Vacation

I was fortunate enough to spend the past two weeks on vacation. DH and I packed up the car and headed north to Cape Cod for a few days and then even further north to Maine. This was our first trip to Cape Cod and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. During the 5 days we spent on the Cape, we had 4 1/2 days of clouds and rain. The sun finally came out the afternoon of our last day and of course it was out in full force the day we were packing to leave.

Fortunately we headed to Maine and the weather was absolutely beautiful while we were there -- blue skies, a few fluffy clouds now and then, no humidity and temps in the upper 70's, low '80's. I have been to Maine before and I have to say it is one of my favorite states that I would go back to again and again. And although I love the beaches of the Jersey shore, there is something peaceful about watching the waves crash against the rocky shores of Maine. It one of the few places where I completely relax and put aside the daily worries.

I did manage to see (not necessarily visit) 33 lighthouses during this trip. A few of the ones in Maine I had been to before (Portland Head Light (my favorite), Pemaquid Point and Cape Neddick). We even walked two miles out and two miles back along the Cape Cod National Seashore to see the Race Point Lighthouse which is at the very end of the Cape. After we arrived at the lighthouse we saw 4-wheel drive vehicles parked on the beach most of whom were surf fishing. Turns out we could have bought a permit and drove my SUV to the lighthouse! Not to mention I could have drove on the beach!

Somehow I don't think our vacation next year will involve lighthouses --- DH is a bit tired of them. Guess it might be a good time to visit Nashville . . . .

In addition to playing travel agent (planning the trip / booking hotels, etc.) one of my roles is to navigate from place to place. DH does all the driving when we vacation. And although we probably covered about 1500 miles during this trip there wasn't much time for handwork. I did manage to stitch up both of these towels which will hang in my kitchen during the summer.