Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where It All Began...

This is the first quilt I made. And the only quilt I've finished. (However, I'm watching lots of Dexter this weekend and hand sewing the binding on my gift baby quilt, so I will have another finished quilt to show soon. Promise.) I wanted to revisit this quilt, which I made in 2004, because it is the first project I made in the orange and blue color scheme I've become so fond of. Will's aunt talked me into quilting a year or so after she talked my sister-in-law Meg into quilting, and I decided an introduction to quiltmaking class at the local quilt store would be the best way to learn how to sew and quilt. I chose to make the smallest size quilt option, so I could get my blocks made and pieced in the first two weeks of the class. I was in Spain for one of those two weeks, so I knew the smaller the better for me. Once the quilt top was pieced, the teacher helped us pick border fabrics based on the fabrics and colors we liked best. I told her I liked an aqua floral print and an orange floral print in my quilt top best, so she steered me to the orange batik I used for the wide border and the aqua and green print I used for the thin border. My friend Maya made me enter the quilt in the Austin Quilt Guild show which meant instead of my usual procrastination, I had to quilt it, bind it, and make a sleeve for it in a couple of weeks to meet the deadline for the show. The day after the show ended I found out I was pregnant, so this crib sized quilt quickly became the quilt for the baby. When we moved back to Nashville and into our new house, I chose paint and linens for the baby's room around the quilt.
This was Ely's room for almost 3 years and now it's Agnes's room. She will have her own special quilt one day, but for now Ely's quilt still hangs on her wall. Every time I rock and nurse her to sleep in the rocking chair, I get to look at the quilt that started my love of sewing and of tangerine and turquoise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Splendid Shortbread Tart

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of The Splendid Table and Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The weekly podcast of The Splendid Table is my constant companion on my walks, and I've been known to cook meals for dinner that night I heard about on the show or stop at the liquor store on the way home to buy a recommended bottle or box of wine. Long before I knew about her radio show, my family and I loved her cookbook, The Italian Country Table. Many of Lynne's recipes are staples in the Wolff households, especially her chocolate torte. Lynne's most recent cookbook written with Sally Swift - How to Eat Supper - came out in the Spring and I've been dying to read it ever since. I'm not allowed to buy books*, so I was thrilled to spot it in my library's inventory last week.

I flipped through the book over the weekend, and immediately saw what I wanted to cook first, the rustic jam shortbread tart. I avoid sugar while pregnant, so I've been enjoying my post pregnancy sugar binge for the last 8 months and love easy desserts whose ingredients I have in my pantry or refrigerator. The shortbread tart fit this category. In my first attempt on Sunday, I left out the almonds and lemon zest since I only had walnuts in the freezer and non-organic lemons on the counter. The tart, which I topped with raspberry jam, was very good, though I overbaked it trying to get the jam to the bubbly stage. I also only have a 10 inch tart pan instead of a 9 inch, and the extra room made the crust a little thin. Today, I made the tart again with almonds, lemon zest, and wild blueberry jam and adapted the ingredient amounts for a larger pan. I usually don't have dessert with lunch, but I did today. So did Will, who probably didn't realize how lucky he was this morning when he ran out of time to pack his lunch.

*In Spring of 2005, Will and I decided we would only get books from the library and not buy any no matter how cheap we found them used. We did this to cut down on unnecessary spending and to limit the number of books in our house. It's worked well, and put us in the mindset of buying books is wrong. We are allowed to buy something we can't get at the library or something we can't live without, but we've gone from buying several books a month to buying only several a year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coasters Pretty Darn Quick

While Will was at the hockey game last evening and I was movie-less at home, I decided to make some coasters (fun) instead of hand sewing the back of the binding for the baby quilt I just finished (not so much fun). I noticed my glass of water by the computer was dripping all over table, and realized we have no good coasters in the house. I saw these this week, and knew I wanted to try the quilted coasters from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts for myself soon. I pulled out some fun, colorful fabrics from my fabric stash (uh make that pile at the moment). I spent an hour ironing, cutting out the materials for 5 coasters, and sewing, finishing two of them before I called it quits for the night. They turned out fairly well, though I'm not sure mine are nice enough to make more for gifts. I find it next to impossible to sew anything into a perfect square, so mine are a little wonky which makes the quilting wonky. I was also missing high loft batting which I substituted with a double layer of low loft, so using the correct batting may make them a little thicker and sturdier. And I realized this morning, I never put a quilting needle in my machine before I started quilting - oh well! It's always nice to try things out on yourself first and for that the tables in my house will be thankful.

(It's a cloudy afternoon and I have no tripod at home, so this is the best I can do. I thought I would like the pink quilted one on the left the best, but it turned out to be my least favorite. Notice the orange and blue quilt in the background? That is the gift in my reoccurring color scheme I need to finish.)