10/1/14
With matching thread quilt four of the diamonds with continuous curves. I am leaving the other four un-quilted.

Easy Math – A Star a Day Update

At the beginning of each month I pause to assess progress on my Star A Day project – and some months I actually get around to reporting my status to you, my faithful blog readers. Today is Oct 1st and the report is good:  Here are ten completed cuties, patched together, ready for the lower right-hand corner of my quilt.10 on Oct 1 Oct has 31 days – the last section needs 41 stars – 10 are completed (see above)- that means I only need 31 more stars. Hey! That’s just a star a day! Not only is it easy math, it also adds up to good news: I am on schedule. And so we enter the 12th and final month of my year of tiny stars.

09/22/14

Out of the Quicksand- Star A Day Update

It is Sept 22. At this moment I am officially caught up on my Star A Day project. As one friend described it, it is like climbing out of quicksand – a new day arrives with the challenge to make a star. If you miss one day, it’s like loose gravel. If you miss two days, it’s more like mud. Before you know it you might be a week behind and in quicksand. I wasn’t exactly testing the theory, but if you fall 41 blocks behind (sheepish grin) you can crawl out of the quicksand in exactly 21 days. That’s one a day plus two in arrears. And here is what your quilt will look like when you have eight of the nine sections completed:Section 8 finished

Let’s jump over to Patchwork Times and see what others have on their design walls today. Click here to go to Design Wall Monday.

09/17/14

Now Playing

I just found out that the video that Donna Lynn Thomas and I recorded at Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine is now airing. Click here to see  Four Decades of Quilting Episode 2, 1990-Present. Free for one week, then available for purchase ($2.99/month or $24/year, for all access to all videos).

Episode 1, 1970’s and 80’s aired last week and you can see a preview by clicking here.

 

09/8/14
Last block

UFO Challenge – Pastel Quilt Update

” …. a long and winding road..” That’s what I think I heard my pastel quilt humming the day I pinned it to the design wall for the last time. I, on the other hand, asked, where’s the marching band? Drum roll? Pastel bits of confetti? Okay, so maybe it isn’t worth a whole marching band, but this has been 14 years in the making, so marching band or not, it’s still a big deal!

Since I created my own random block arrangement, without thinking too far ahead, I backed myself into a bind when I got to the lower right hand corner, fresh out of blocks, with a gaping, odd shaped, empty spot. So I made this to fill the void.Last blockThen I sewed the last few seams, added borders, measured and seamed the backing and it’s ready for the quilter!

With no further adieu, let me introduce my FINISHED Pastel Quilt top:Completed Pastel QuiltLet’s share the moment by linking to Patchwork Times where you can see what others are working on. As for me, I’m taking a break from pastels and working on this UFO for awhile:006 See  related posts: UFO Challenge, UFO Project Update  and The Pastel Project – A Week Later

09/8/14
016

Three Hundred

Once there was a tiny star. He was all alone in my sewing room, wishing for a friend, or two, or three …. or 300! Can you guess which Tiny Star milestone I have to report?  300! That’s right! 300 stars are completed!300Are you wondering, “Is she caught up?” No! I’m not! I fell behind early in the summer which is when I learned that I love making a star a day but  it isn’t as much fun when it becomes two or three stars a day. I have carried on, stitching the stars whenever I could, until I had a pile waiting for a day in the sewing room so I could press them and sew them together. 016I’m still behind 8 stars, but who’s counting?

Karen Styles, the Australian Quilter who brought us “The Star a Day” will be visiting Eudora, KS in Oct. Click here to go to Quilting Bits and Pieces Quilt Shop’s newsletter to learn more.

08/26/14
crabapples

Crabapples Might Make You Crabby

My friend Lynn lives out in the county. Her rural setting generates gifts to me such as gooseberries, lily bulbs, and most recently, crabapples. I thought crabapple trees were ornamental. “Oh, no,” Lynn assured me, “you can make crabapple jelly.” She lowered her voice and added a poetic tone when she said the words crabapple jelly. I accepted the gift.
“Could I make a pie with some of those apples?” I asked Lynn.
“Oh, I don’t think it would taste very good! You’d have to add a lot of sugar or some raisins to sweeten it up. But crabapple jelly, it’s beautiful and oh, so good!”
The next day my husband, Dale, came home to find a box blocking the front doorway. His eyes grew big, a delighted smile crossing his face, “A whole case of Free State beer!” He flipped back the lid to find the recycled box, filled, not with amber bottles arranged in rows, but Lynn’s crabapple harvest.Lynn's crabapples
“Crabapple jelly,” I read aloud from the index of my Ball Canning cookbook, “page 35.” It looked easy. Only two ingredients, crabapple juice and sugar. 4 cups of juice yields 6 jars of jelly.

Crabapples are actually easy to process – no peeling, no coring, just wash, and throw in the pot with water.
When the apples were soft, I pressed them through a sieve, lined with cheesecloth. Squeezing the juiceVoila, crabapple juice! Isn’t it pretty?Crabapple juice After adding the sugar, I let it cook in a big pot on the stove. Stirring with a long handled, wooden spoon, I watched as the liquid bubbled and foamed, checking periodically to see if it had reached the magical gel point.
Gel point – it’s when the hot mass has boiled to a point that it begins to solidify, to gel, to convert from juice to jelly. I had made blueberry jam this way once. It didn’t end well. Maybe I should have used pectin. Ripping open a box of pectin I scanned the recipe list and, sure enough, there was a recipe for crabapple jelly. Too late now, my jelly was gelling. I spooned the ruby jelly into jars – filling only 3, not the 6 that the Ball Canning book promised. I scrapped the pot into a small bowl, smearing the last, little bit on a toasted English muffin. Yumm. It tasted like the country.Crabapple jelly
Switching methods, I made the second and third batches with the pectin recipe. It was much faster and resulted in a whopping 11 jars from each pot of jelly.  JellyBut there was something wrong with it; the color was a pale pink, the shade of my grandmother’s pink Depression Glass dishes. The jelly from the first batch was a deep ruby pink with a touch of amber. The darker jelly had a rich, earthy aroma, whereas the pink jelly was light and airy, barely scenting the kitchen with a hint of crabapple. Two kinds of crabapple jellyA taste from the tip of a spoon left me thinking I had 22 jars of pink tinted jellied sugar. Where was the flavor? Never having made crabapple jelly before, heck, I’d never even eaten it before, I scratched my head, wondering which recipe came out right.
Three batches of jelly later, the bottom of the beer box was still covered with crabapples. Earlier, as I washed the crabapples, I had set the nicest fruit aside to try Pickled Crabapples, crabapples(page 86 in the Ball Canning cookbook.) But what would I do with all these leftover apples?

A whisper in the back of my mind said, “Make Pie.”
I turned to my vintage cookbook collection to find a recipe for Crabapple Pie. The first three books left me empty handed, but the good old, Farm Journal Pie Cookbook had a five star recipe for Rosy Crabapple Pie. Five stars! Not a bad place to start. I began cutting up those tiny crabapples, grateful that the recipe specified, do not peel. crabapples are littleWith Lynn’s warning of it not being very tasty, I mixed the diced apples with sugar and flour making sure every apple cube was coated with sugar, I spooned them into the pie shell and added vanilla, (yes, vanilla) and water – 1/3 of a cup of water. Really? There was only 1 T of flour in the recipe, was the water really necessary? Ignoring my intuition, I dotted the pie with butter, covered it with a top crust and slid it into the hot oven.Crabapple pie in progress
Pie baking and jelly making dishes covered every counter – sticky spoons, measuring cups, and dirty pots. It was time for clean-up. I reached for the long handled wooden spoon, resting on a saucer in a puddle of the first batch of jelly. When I picked up the spoon, the plate came too. Startled, I set it back down and pried the spoon out of the jelly that had cooled on the plate. Oh, dear. I thought. This is a problem – my jelly had gelled too much. That must be why I only got three jars. I cooked it too long and my crabapple goodness had simmered away leaving me with very tasty glue. I tested the jelly-ness of the last spoonful I had scrapped into the small bowl. It was very sticky but I knew what to do with it. Put it inside tiny pastry turnovers.
With the leftover pie dough I rolled out and cut circles, and spooned a blob of thick, sticky crabapple jelly in the middle, folded them over and pinched the edges. Ten minutes later I pulled a tray of cute little crabapple turnovers from the oven. Who would be crabby with such a tempting snack?crabapple turnovers
The kitchen was cleaned up. The jelly jars, in pretty, pale pink rows with three jars of dark intruders, were sending out periodic pops as the seals sealed. The pie was cooling on the counter, still bubbling up through the slits in the top crust, a sure sign that the pie was done.018
Dale came home from work and surveyed the bounty, especially the pie. “Here,” I handed him a cooled turnover, “Have a few of these for a snack.” We each bit into a crabapple jelly turnover. “What do you think?” I asked.
“It’s very tasty, what’s inside?”
“Crabapple jelly.”
“Oh, I thought it was gummy bear.” He grabbed another turnover as he left the kitchen.
Gummy bear? Humm. So that’s how you make gummy bears, overcook your jelly!
Picking up the phone, I called Lynn. “Is there anything I can do with the over cooked jelly?” Yes, there was, I could spoon it out of the jar, re-heat it, and dilute it with apple juice to thin it out.
Popping the top off the first jar of jelly I stuck a knife in to test the spread ability. I could probably make pulled taffy with my concoction but not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. crabapple jelly With effort I emptied the three jars of thick, sticky stuff into my pot, for the first time, feeling happy about only getting three jars of jelly. Adding apple juice, I watched closely and stopped the cooking as soon as it started to set up. It may come out too soft but if that happened, I’d call it syrup and pour it over my pancakes.
“Would you like a piece of pie?” I offered Dale.

He cut into the pie, dividing it into 8 equal pieces, and started to remove the first slice. (Warning: the next few pictures might make your stomach turn.) The pie fell apart on his plate, separating into a wet, goopy bottom crust, an unincorporated pile of diced apples, with a loose skin of top crust. Crabby crabapple pie sliceThe parts didn’t seem to belong together. The V shaped gap in the pie pan filled quickly with a runny, pale pink liquid, diced apples dropping into it from either side. Crabby crabapple pie
“What happened to it?” Dale asked.
“I don’t think it cooked long enough.” I lifted the glass pie pan and peered at the bottom crust through the glass, “But it looks done.”
He tasted it. “This just might be the worse pie you ever made.”
I tasted it. Tart. Needs more sugar. Runny. Needs more flour. Not set. Needs more time in the oven. It was enough to make me crabby. But I was no longer a pie baking rookie. I was ready for the challenge of Rosy Crabapple Pie.
Dale served up a second piece. “Hey!” I called. “Don’t eat any more of that pie! I need those apples for a re-do!”
I peeled the top crust off in wedge shaped sheets, with the pretty, crimped edges still attached. I poured the filling into a pot. I scraped the soggy bottom crust into the trash. I started over.to the trash
My filling was minus two servings so I used an 8” pie plate for the re-do. I tasted the mixture. Crabapple pie re-doIt was earthy. Similar to rhubarb. I knew that you could sweeten up a rhubarb pie by adding strawberries. Strawberries and apples? Didn’t sound good to me. How about raisins? Lynn had mentioned they would add sweetness. I added 2 T of raisins softened in 1/4 cup of water. They would sweeten things up and make up for the apples Dale had eaten.

I added a 1/3 cup more sugar to the pot. I added more flour to thicken it. Too much. I thinned it back down with apple juice. I tasted it again. Sweeter but missing something. I thought, “apples and raisins … it needs cinnamon.” I added cinnamon. I added nutmeg. I tasted again. Yes. This will work.
I poured the filling into the new pie crust, dotted it with butter, added the top crust and slid it into the oven.
When the timer rang I gave it five more minutes, just in case, then pulled the pie out of the oven. Twice baked Crabapple Pie
While it was still warm, I called Dale to the kitchen. “Let’s see how my twice baked pie turned out.” I cut it and served the first perfect slice. The crust was flaky and crisp. The filling had the right amount of fruit ooze. The bottom crust was flaky, not soggy. The vacant space in the pie plate stayed vacant, neighboring pieces holding onto their own filling. But how did it taste?Twice Baked Crabapple Pie
“Much better!” Dale called from the table.
I took a hesitant bite. “I think it’s good!” I took a bigger fork full, with a raisin in it. “Oh, the raisins taste good with the crabapples!” My twice baked crabapple pie was a success!Rosy Crabapple Pie ala mode
Scraping his plate clean Dale said, “This is a Barb original, you should write the recipe down!”

When life (or Lynn) gives you crabapples, don’t get crabby! Make jelly. Or pickles. Or pie.

For those who like to live on the dangerous side or are blessed with an abundance of crabapples, here is the recipe – just don’t get crabby if it doesn’t work, okay?

Barb’s Twice Baked Crabapple Pie

This recipe comes with absolutely NO guarantees. Try it with good humor.

Pastry for a two crust 9″ pie

6 cups diced crabapples, (do not peel, but please remove the cores)

2 T raisins, soften in 1/4 cup warm water

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

Put apples in a medium saucepan, add water, cover loosely, and simmer until almost soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat a few more minutes until thickened to pie filling consistency, adding more liquid if needed (water or apple juice).  Taste. Whatever it tastes like in the pot is what it will taste like in the pie. Adjust seasonings to your liking adding more cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and/or sugar as needed. Pour into pastry lined 9″ pie plate. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, crimp edges and cut slits to vent. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until crust is nicely browned, steam escapes from the vents, and you can see the filling bubbling up through the slits. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

08/26/14
Pastel quilt last block

The Pastel Project – A week later

Are you getting tired of my pastel quilt project? Well, you are just going to have to bear with me, because I’ve been working on this, off and on, for over 14 years and this time I’m not stopping until it’s done.

The final block is appliqued – it was nice to sew on an easy block at the end! And no berries!

Pastel quilt last blockAnd the blocks are all sewn together minus the lower right hand corner where I had to design something to fill the space.Pastel quilt nearing completionI refuse to take this off the design wall until it’s finished. And that just might be TODAY!

Unless … Humm … How would this quilt look with a swag border?

Let’s see what others have on their design walls this week. Click here to go to Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday, even though I’m writing this on a Tuesday.

08/19/14
Pastel heart of flowers

Pastel UFO project update

When I was in High School my US History teacher gave me a challenge. He didn’t know he gave me a challenge but in a conference over a quiz that I must have failed he said I didn’t care about US History so he didn’t really expect much out of me. Say what? The next semester I got an A in his class. Didn’t do so well in Chemistry or Algebra that term but aced the US History.

It’s been a week of pastel applique which means, like Chemistry and Algebra the Color Cats and Tiny Stars haven’t got much attention. The goal is to complete this pastel quilt top by Oct 1. Here’s the current status report:

I’ve completed three more blocks

And have several more sections sewn together Pastel quilt in progressAnd I’m down to the final applique block080When I get to the lower right hand corner I will need to come up with something to fill in the blank space. Check back next week to see what I come up with!

And since I linked to Design Wall Monday last week and promised a progress report, I’m linking in again today. Click here to see what everyone is up to.

08/12/14
077

UFO Challenge

In Pennsylvania I have a group of quilting friends who enjoy working on quilt projects together – projects that inspire, challenge, and yes, sometimes frustrate. Block swaps, row quilts, puzzle quilts – there have been many over the years but our current project is a different sort of project – it’s a UFO challenge.  It’s time for some of those long neglected projects, the Un-Finished-Projects, the ones cluttering up the closet.

UFO (Un-Finished-Projects), WIP (Work in Progress), PHD (Project Half Done), whatever you call it, we all have them. Some have more than others (who, me?) We love them and we hate them (who me?) Most of all, we dream of finishing them.

The rules are simple – make a list of 6 projects, number the list. Turn in one fat quarter as an entry ticket. Every other month a number will be drawn. Whichever project on your list matches the selected number; it’s the one that gets your attention for the next two months. Can you finish it? If so, your name gets entered in a drawing for the whole basket of fat quarters. If not, pay a one fat quarter penalty.

I can do this!

I selected 6 of my most charming UFOs. I numbered my list and sent a note with my entry ticket fat quarter. My note was a wish of sorts:  “Don’t choose # 3 first!”

A text message came: “We drew #6 . Good luck!”

Whew! It isn’t #3! Thank goodness!

I consulted my list. What did I write down for #6 ? “Appliqued border on Scrappy Spools quilt.” Oh darn, I should have made my wish specify not #3 or #6.
I went immediately, on the very first day of the challenge, to the closet and got out UFO #6. Yes, I did. I pulled it from its 6 year holding place on the closet shelf, unfolded it, and admired the piecework. Tucked among the folds I found the borders – already cut to size. “This should be easy. Besides I have two months!”

Awaiting appliqued borders

Awaiting appliqued borders

Two months came and went. It was time to send proof to Pennsylvania, evidence that I had indeed completed my UFO #6.
There was just one problem. Although I had gotten it out, unfolded it, and confirmed that the borders were cut, I didn’t touch it again for two solid months. Oh, there are excuses for sure, some are actually legit. Suffice to say, I failed in round one. So, I cut a fat quarter of an interesting wood grain fabric, folded it and sent it to the penalty box.

I got a new message, “We drew #2, Good luck!”

A quick look at my UFO list confirms my fear, “Not number two!” I moan to no-one. I should have updated my wish list. I should have enclosed a note that said, “I hope you don’t pull #2 OR #3.”

UFO #2, due is Oct 7.  There it was, in my own handwriting: Grandma’s Album Quilt in Pastels. Complete the last four blocks, set together, and complete the top. Was I nuts? Even without a contest I don’t think I could get that much done in two months, after all I have been working on this project off and on for 14 years. I sigh. What’s done is done. They drew #2. I might as well get to work.

So, today my design wall is full of pastel blocks.
Last night I finished appliqueing the oak leaves. 081

There are three blocks remaining. As of right now I have them drawn out as full size patterns.

And I’ve started joining sections. All that I and I still have 7 weeks to go! Can I do it?

Is this the year I will finally be able to mark this project off my list?
Check back next Monday for a progress report.

In the meantime, let’s hop on over to Patchwork Times to see what others have on their design walls. Click here to go to Design Wall Monday.

To read an earlier post about the pastel quilt click here.

 

08/4/14

Color Cats are Back

Earlier in the summer I posted about using pre-printed panels in combination with Back Basting Applique’.

Dum, ta, da, dummm ….. here is the first completed block in my Color Cats series.Color Cat #1For each cat I’m using solid fabrics to illustrate an aspect of color theory. Today’s cat is a split complimentary harmony. Here, I’ll show you on my good old Grumbacher color wheel.I haven’t linked to Patchwork Times, “Design Wall Monday” in awhile, so let’s do that today! To see what others have on their design walls, click here.

To see the original post about the Color Cats, click here.

To follow me on Facebook, “like” me at Barbara J. Eikmeier, Quilter.