Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mincraft, Continued

So, my first Minecraft quilt still is not put together. It's not that I don't have all the pieces - I finally do. The front is completely together, the back is completely together, but for some reason when I try to align the 2 so I can quilt it all, I just can not get it to match up. So that's been put aside for the moment, until I can get together with the grandmaster quiltress (aka my mother-in-law).

In the meantime I've been trying to sketch out plans for the other 2 tops. I came up with 2 tonight - going to have to pass them by my husband (the Minecraft expert) and see what tweaks he suggests before I consider them "final" and start cutting, but here they are, in all their first-draft glory.

Don't mind the scribbles around the edges - it was my attempt at texture for the cobblestone. lol Here we have a cow, a jungle tree (and sprout), sand, water, and a cloud. Pretty basic, but I kind of really like it.

I tried to go a little more difficult with this one - not sure if I'm ok with it or not. The inside of a house made of stone. A bed, Steve, a window, and upstairs there's a chest and a furnace. Like I said, I'll consult with the Minecraft expert tomorrow.

Also, I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet, but for Christmas I got my very own Accuquilt!! (If you've never seen an accutquilt before, check it out here! It's a god-send for people like me who struggle to cut a straight line, and it makes the longest part of quilting (the cutting part!) so incredibly fast.) While it still means consulting with the grandmaster quiltress (because she doesn't want me to buy dies she's already paid for), it DOES mean I can borrow any dies she's not currently using and do the cutting at my own house. This is huge. I'm incredibly excited. I already have plans for multiple quilts after these, and I'm going to be teaching my girlfriend and best friend how to quilt by making pot holders sometime soon (because ours walked away in the last move). 

So, what do you think? Any suggestions for tweaking my patterns? Are Minecraft players dazed and amazed yet? :) 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Damnit, Jim! I'm a seamstress, not a...

My sewing machine's name is Jim. And it's great because when I get angry with my machine, you will often here "Damnit Jim! I'm a seamstress, not a small engine mechanic!" or "Damnit Jim, I'm a seamstress, not a sewing machine engineer!" ect. Yes, I'm a huge nerd.

We're still steadily unpacking a little at a time, so today with the first time since moving that Jim got to come out and play. I had to patch a pair of Daddy's jeans (BOOORING...), had to hem some of our curtains (and I have so many more to do!), and then - after the minions went to bed - I got to quilt!! I looked back and it seems the last entry I made in this book was my original plans for the Minecraft quilt. WELL...the top of quilt #1 is nearly finished! I added 1/2 of the cobblestone border tonight.

The Master Chief Minecraft quilt :D Top is almost done, fabric is bought for the back...all I need now is the fabric for my obsidian and I'll be able to put it all together!

Jim and his new home. Everything you see there was in its own room in our old house. I fit an entire room into a corner of the dining room. Eeep.

So I'm excited to have Jim back, even if he does get on my nerves fairly often. :) Just being able to say "Damnit, Jim!" again makes this place feel more like home.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Planning Stages

 Now that my quilt is done, I'm moving on to doing some for my boys. Since we can't buy a house right now, I'm trying to focus on things I can do to be happier with my home that don't involve serious projects you can't do in an apartment or a rental home. The idea of matching quilts for the boys' beds seems like a good place to start for me. :)

So I had this brilliant idea that since my kids like Minecraft so much and Minecraft is mainly a bunch of squares, anyway, that it would make an easy quilt. So I've been sitting here sketching out some possibilities. So far I have 1 I'm definitely keeping and 1 I need to re-do before I decide if it's usable or not.

This is the keeper.  I love that it includes the Halo skin for Minecraft as well, so I got 2 video games in one. :) I'm sure my oldest will claim this one.

This one I messed up on (Steve got put too high so his head got cut off) but is a really basic one with a well, Steve, a creeper, stone sidewalks, and the edges of buildings

I started one with a tree and a cow, but I'm not entirely happy with it so I need to work on that one some more.

Baby Quilt

I have yet to come up with a "name" for this quilt, but I'm waiting for the perfect one, so for the moment it's just being called the baby quilt. I finished it Monday after months of on and off work. I've never quilted before, but I've had this plan for awhile now, and my mother-in-law recently purchased this nifty thing that cuts your quilt pieces out for you, so I decided it was nice. She's been quilting up a storm, but I'm been working on this on and off. I had a diaper order I had to fill in the middle, and then it was too hot upstairs to work. I finally moved the machine downstairs and got it finished. I'm really proud.

Each square was made either directly from baby clothes my kids wore, or leftover fabric from outfits or diapers I made them myself. I used the quilt-as-you-go method, which was interesting, but I'm not sure if I'll opt for that method again or not. If I do, I'll definitely doing it differently as I learned a lot in the process. Green sashing and the yellow backing were from sheets purchased at Goodwill (we only use the fitted sheets on our beds, so the flat sheets were just lying around). Batting used was a fleece blanket MIL bought at a yard sale for $.50. The border was a shower curtain she either bought at a yard sale or Goodwill. So everything on the quilt is recycled. The only expense I had was the printable fabric for doing the picture blocks in the corners, and that was expensive! $14.99 for 6 pages.

All the finished squares laid out before adding sashing

Close-up of the youngest's photo square

Close-up of the oldest's photo square

Sashing complete, waiting on border

Youngest peeking out from the completed quilt


The back

Friday, September 9, 2011

Venison Pepperoni

 In case you couldn't tell in previous posts, we eat a lot of homemade pizza here. I've looked for "less processed" pepperoni, but the best I've managed to find is one without corn syrup, but they pretty much either have some form of nitrates, or something else that doesn't belong in food or can only be purchased at a specialty store, and there really aren't any of those out here in the middle of nowhere. I had some ground venison left from a deer my in-laws had butchered for us several months ago, so I figured I'd do some research and see if I could make pepperoni with that.

This is the recipe I decided to use. I made very few changes, although I will make a few more next time. Obviously I used venison and not beef. I also used sucanat instead of sugar, and opted for using kosher salt instead of curing salt (to avoid the nitrates). Because I didn't use curing salt, I didn't end up with pink pepperoni (but then again, venison is rarely pink, anyway, once exposed to the air), but it still came up really good!

So that you can learn from the benefit of my experience, let me point something out. The recipe calls for liquid smoke. If you aren't used to reading labels, do it! I'm used to doing so because of my son's issues with food dyes, but I was especially glad for it this time. The first bottle of "liquid smoke" I picked up with nothing but high-fructose corn syrup, garlic powder, onion powder, and some other spices! If I wanted that, I could just go home and throw in some of those spices myself and skip the HFCS! So I kept looking, and finally came across a second bottle. The brand is Colgin, and the ingredients are water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color and salt. Those are ingredients I can live with (although I could do without the color, but c'est la vie.) The other change I would make in the recipe is to use less of this. The pepperoni is good, but especially since you're basically drying it instead of cooking it, with the liquid smoke it came out tasting very similar to jerky. So it was kind of a pepperoni-jerky mix. Still yummy, but not exactly what I was going for.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keeping Count of Apples

So, for those keeping count, here's my total so far:

8 quarts apple pie filling (made w/raw honey)
1 quart + 12 pints applesauce
12 half-pints + 1 pint of apple butter
8 quarts apple pie filling (made w/sugar)
14 pints spiced apple rings
6 12oz spiced apple jelly (made from the syrup from the spiced apple rings)
2 12oz + 3 half pints dutch apple jam
4 12oz + 1 half pint + 1 4oz caramel apple jam
1 quart + 2 pints cinnamon applesauce
4 quarts unfiltered apple juice
4 quarts filtered apple juice

That makes 26 quarts, 29 pints, 12 12oz, 16 half-pints, 1 4oz. Or 1,572 ounces. Or 12.28 GALLONS of apple products.

I still have to do more juicing (my helpers took most of the juice I made!), and probably at least 1 more batch of applesauce. One of my helpers today brought a Ninja blender and it was FANTASTIC for making applesauce! I'm very tempted to replace my several years old basic Oster blender with one of these. Just for comparison, to make applesauce from my blender, I have to add water AND I have to use a wooden spoon to shove the apples down into the blade while it's going. Yes, the Ninja sounds like a good idea. Ha. It also would take up less room than my current setup, and it easier to clean. :)

I also found out today that I will be getting a Kitchenaid Mixer for my birthday!! You could probably mistake my squeals of delight for a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I need to finish getting my kitchen together and make room for my new toys. I mean tools.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to the, County

So, I know it feels like every time I get on here, I have an excuse for why I haven't written in forever. But really, I do! A week and a half ago, we packed up our little 2-bedroom townhouse, and moved 45 mins-1 hr out into the middle of nowhere. It's been crazy, exciting, and a million other things all rolled into one. And no, it's not REALLY the middle nowhere - we can get into the city in about 15 minutes, which is perfect for me. We have a beautiful 3-bedroom house (4 if you count the half-finished attic) and 3 acres for our 3 boys to go crazy on! We have a dozen chickens moving in sometime this month, and plans for a goat eventually, as well as a major garden!

But in the meantime, I've been enjoying having a wonderfully large kitchen with plenty of room to get down to the finer things in life - like food!

Or more specifically, canning food. A local farmer's market store has been running an amazing deal. You pick up a ton of produce (for FREE), take it home, and can it! Then, you simply return half of the canned merchandise to the store. It's ingenious, really. They get their produce canned for them (for personal use, not store use) and nothing goes to waste (often the stuff you pick up is close to turning, so you have to do it quickly) and you get free stuff just for doing a little hard work! Since my kitchen obviously hasn't been in any shape to work in from moving, I've been going to a friend's house and helping her put stuff away. We made fermented pickles that were a partial fail - neither of us noted on the calender when we put them in, and by the time we checked them, they had gone too long. But we did manage to salvage 5 pints of relish and 5 quarts of whole pickles!

Then, yesterday, my mother-in-law showed up with bags full of apples! Ok, I can do this. We spent ALL day peeling, coring, and slicing. She made 2 apple pies and I made 8 quarts of filling to can. I used this recipe and used honey for my sweetener. It came out yummy!! Of course, when I went to can it in my large pot that I use as a canner because I don't actually OWN a canner, I discovered that my giant pot is not giant enough to do quart jars. So now I have 8 quart jars of apple pie filling in my fridge. I ordered a steam canner from Amazon with 2-day shipping, so it should be here tomorrow. Then I just have to dump out the jars, warm the contents, put them BACK in the jars, and can them. Frustrating, but oh well.

But the fun doesn't end there! We finished all but 2 big bags of apples. Then this morning we went over to a friend of my mother-in-law's and picked an entire trunk full of apples!!

This was about halfway through - by the time we were done, both buckets were overflowing

So tomorrow I am having whatever friends want to brave the trip out here over, and we are going to go canning crazy! I've already made a ton of applesauce using this recipe (super easy because you don't even have to cook them!) and the applesauce is in my crockpot to make apple butter to can tomorrow. All of that, and I haven't even touched today's apples yet! The applesauce took about 1/2 of one of the bags I had left from yesterday. I'm assuming by the time it cooks down, I'll end up using about the whole bag, but that still leaves another bag and my trunk full of apples to deal with! I'm sure you'll be seeing many apple-related posts in the next several days. So tell me, what's your favorite thing to do with apples?