10/20/14

Design Wall Monday – Another UFO

It’s a good idea to periodically challenge yourself to finish project that you started long ago. I didn’t have to decide this on my own, my friends in PA came up with a UFO challenge to help me out. We each made a list of 6 UFOs and every other month they draw a new number and Patty sends me a text message with the number. I then run into my sewing room to make sure it isn’t #3, that really big, really hard project that I never should have put on my list.

This time it’s #5 (whew!) and that’s what’s on my design wall today.064These little appliqued cuties were a free to download pattern from Bunny Hill a few years ago (it’s now available for purchase as a complete pattern). I made it twice, once with blue work embroidery and again with back basted applique’. The blocks have been done for ages – I just need to put them together.

As luck would have it, I will be going on my quilt guild’s retreat in a few weeks and will be taking these blocks with me. Surely I can get them finished by Dec 1st!

Let’s see what others are working on over at Judy Laquidara’s Patchwork Times. Click here.

10/9/14
Take one

Guest on Quilter’s Newsletter TV

Last summer I took a little road trip to Quilter’s Newsletter headquarters in Golden, CO. Quilting friend, Donna Lynn Thomas and I drove from Kansas City where we filmed several episodes for Quilter’s Newsletter TV. The main reason for driving was to haul all our paraphernalia for our joint program, Four Decades of Quilting.

Score Barb and Donna! We got it all to fit and were on our way!

A road trip is incomplete without a stop or two – quilt shops and gas stations for sure, food is optional.

At Smokey River Quilts in Oakley, KS we came across a cover girl quilt, on display with the then current issue of Quilter’s Newsletter. That was fun.202

And in the same store I snapped a photo of this yardage counter which is like the one that was in the dry goods department of Daughtry’s Department Store in my hometown, Willows, CA, where I bought fabric for my 4-H projects. The department store is long gone but I still have scraps of some of those fabrics!201Once in Golden, CO our schedule was packed. We filmed a total of seven episodes with early morning call times for hair and make up. We unloaded the car and once the “on air” light went out Donna started getting set up for the next day.

My call time was a day later. I arrived at the studio for hair and make up, rubbing sleep from my eyes.

Into this

Barb with Big Hair

Barb with Big Hair

And it was showtime!

Final touches, then …

"Ok, I'm ready"

“Ok, I’m ready”

And

Take one

Take one

I wish I could tell you it was done in a snap but it doesn’t work that way. It took all morning starting with make up followed by set up and filming for two episodes. In the afternoon Donna joined me, fresh out of the hair and make up room, and we filmed two episodes of Four Decades of Quilting together. Working under bright lights in Mile High country is dehydrating, I was certainly ready when I finally heard the magical words, “That’s a Wrap!”

End of the day with my usual flat hair

End of the day with my usual flat hair

And what’s a trip home without a stop at a quilt shop or two? Here Donna and I enjoyed “book sightings” in Colby, KS.292

You can see Four Decades of Quilting parts one and two here If you don’t already subscribe you will need to purchase a subscription ($2.99 for unlimited videos for one month or $24 for a full year.)

Also check out the 2014 Jul/Aug issue of Quilter’s Newsletter for our article on the same topic

Here is the schedule for release of my two back basting applique episodes:

Barb Eikmeier presents: Front basting applique Nov. 21

Barb Eikmeier presents: Reverse applique with back basting Nov. 28.

Free for one week so mark your calendars and tune in to internet TV. See you there! (Check out Donna’s episodes too!)

10/8/14
010

Twice In A Red Moon

Did you see it? Did you see the second of two Red Moons in 2014?

On the way home from the library last night I noticed the moon, big, golden, and full – it was October’s Hunter Moon. Always spectacular, it was made even better by the promise of a complete lunar eclipse expected just before daybreak. I checked the Farmer’s Almanac for the exact time of the eclipse and set the alarm.

In the wee hours of the morning I crawled out of bed, shuffled to the front porch and sure enough, there, high in the western sky a lunar eclipse was occurring. I stood in my driveway, in my pajamas, and gazed until clouds rising on the horizon obscured my view.

I watched the Red Moon in April, (see related story by clicking here ). I can tell you two things – the air was much warmer on this early October morning than it was last April and the moon was definitely redder. Was it blood red? No. But it rivaled the autumn color of the my elm tree and that’s red enough for me!

I should do something to commemorate the two red moons I witnessed in 2014. I think I’ll make a quilt. To be more exact, I think I’ll finish one that I’ve already started.
Here is a sampling of blocks in progress.010

As you can see I have collected enough solid red fabrics for this project!015I think I’ll call this quilt “It’s a Red Moon Night.”

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.