Friday, August 23, 2013

one

Sometimes the moments we're proudest of are our quietest.

I've been very private about my wedding because to me, that's what it was: something intensely intimate and personal that Bunny and I did. This union that we entered into together. And we may have done it with a city hall ceremony that we had no control over, that we heard for the first time as it was being performed, with cookie cutter vows (a secular version of the same words couples have repeated to each other for generation upon generation), while we may not have had an immediate earth quake moment getting married was intimate, and vulnerable and really an intense personal transformation.

I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

We marry each other every single day, still. We will until we aren't around anymore.  Every day we help create and grow this relationship.

Today is one year from a random Thursday were we stood in front of a justice of the peace and promised everything. Some things explicitly, some implicitly. And so quickly, already, a year has gone.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

new project time: for my niece

Now that the Scrappy Trip is finally finished I've had plenty of sewing time to devote to the newest project in my lineup: my niece's quilt. It's my biggest project so far, as its designed for her double bed but the actual block construction is very, very simple. It's inspired by the Labyrinth quilt, though I've done up my own pattern and it's got a much more controlled colour pattern than the original.

All in all I need 35 blocks, plus sashing. The blocks themselves are fairly easy to construct, and I've been doing so in an assembly line fashion. I've got the square-in-a-square sections all in various states of doneness and am working on getting up my required number of those before I move any further. This is the fussiest part of the blocks, with all the little half square triangles and 3" seams - later on there's long seams and strip piecing. These bits are coming together quickly, so it's not completely unreasonable to imagine that the rest of the quilt will.



Blocks in Progress

Nearly Done Blocks
I'm also feeling like I need to rethink the colour scheme just a little bit. Not much, just throw in maybe a grey or a lighter blue to give a little more contrast. Right now my pattern calls for strips of the two turquoise prints to go right beside each other and I just think the whole thing might have more impact if I add in a little more oomph to the colour scheme. I also might do a couple of random blocks where I reverse the colour orientation.

So now I'm plotting yet another online fabric purchase, because I want to use blacks or greys from the same line as the original fabrics. And since I'd only need 3/4s of a yard or so, and I'm paying for shipping anyway it just seems like I should plan a bit of a stash spree. There are some eggplant and green prints I've been eyeing, and there's a quilt I'm planning for that I need to start acquiring non-floral red prints for and I could use a few yards of solid fabrics ... and apparently there's a 20% off discount code that's active for another month. Yeah, this is dangerous.

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. Why not play along, right?
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, August 19, 2013

$2 tequila,and other odds and ends

Whew, it's been awhile since a proper update here, hasn't it? It's been a bit of a whirlwind couple of weeks. Schedule wise, I'm just coming off about three weeks of late shifts - and with the late shifts I always find my updating energy zapped away. When I don't get home until 9:30pm I'm just not into much besides Doctor Who and sewing.

Plus, last weekend was a dear friend's bachelorette party which soaked up pretty much the whole weekend for me. Plenty of fun was had (as were plenty of $2 tequila shots, which were dangerous) but everyone was feeling a little rough around the edges by the time we made it home on Sunday.

Also Bunny took a big step with his career that I'm super proud of. He challenged the first session of apprenticeship school and not only passed by had a crazy good mark that was unusual enough that the apprenticeship coordinator called his boss and told him that Bunny's mark was super uncommon. It's always nice to have a reason to be proud of my husband. :)

This weekend was much quieter, but still super busy. Things started up with an all day date out with Bunny - a massive shopping "spree" at Walmart (although, toiletries, work clothes and new sports bras don't feel to spree-like), followed by a game of mini putt played without the scorecard and with frequent stops to cuddle on the in course benches. The day ended with a very Bunny-style dinner out, at a local hole in the wall BBQ place that gives you enough food to feed two with a half sized sandwich. Then snuggles, sewing and Doctor Who.

To top the weekend off, Sunday was the return of MotoGP from the summer break at Indy. So Sunday we secluded ourselves in the basement and watched young men drive their bikes very, very fast. Amazing.

Other than that I've been keeping busy with all the usual.  Work. Sewing. Eating (though not cooking - more time for that next week!). It seems like everyone's a little bit busy this summer, doesn't it?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scrappy Finish

It's done!!! Done done done. I started working on this quilt back in January and it's been a long process with lots of updates along the way. I could have declared the blocks finished back in April, but decided to make just a few more (and I'm glad I did). After that it was basting the quilt, which I hated - my sore back and knees didn't thank me. Then there were the hours upon hours of hand quilting to make the cross hatch pattern. Then this past week I put the last few stitches in the binding and now it is done. And somewhere along the way I discovered a camera. (Next time I promise I'll give better update pictures, really.)




This quilt is seven months of my life. Zoning out and sewing on weekends and days off. Sewing a good hour each and every night while watching crappy tv and snuggling with Bunny. And each and every last stitch is done. You'll have to excuse all the pictures, I'm rather proud of it.


It's not as "scrappy" as some Scrappy Trips. It's made all with one fabric line (that I got at Walmart, so I'm a little short on details) - two jelly rolls and four fat quarters. Because it's not a line of quilting cottons specifically some of the fabrics (particularly the fat quarters) come at different thicknesses. The fabric doesn't have the give and glide of a quilting cotton, but I still have a companion quilt planned, featuring log cabins.

This is a fun pattern to work with, and because of the strip piecing it's perfectly suited to my style of quilting involving hand piecing, Doctor Who and maybe a glass of wine and I'm sure that once I find myself with a sizeable scrap pile I'll revisit this pattern in a true scrappy fashion. It's also a great beginner pattern, and helped me build up a lot of confidence.

Because I used the same 14 fabrics over and over in this quilt I wanted each square to lead into the next. The way I've achieved that is living up matching fabrics in separate blocks to create a more continuous movement. Colour placement on the blocks themselves was fairly simple as I gave each block I worked on a "theme" whether it was to be mostly one colour (like the green block in the bottom right) or to be mostly bright fabrics and it came together quite well into a cohesive whole.  Also, there is a my side and a Bunny's side on this. I'm picky like that.


The sunlight in this one makes the colours look a little deceptive, but you get the best view of the texture. I cross hatched the quilting here, going through each square on a diagonal in both ways.

Every single stitch of this baby was sewn by hand. I made Bunny buy me a cake when I finished. A hand made quilt deserves a cake, no?

she can quilt

Thursday, August 08, 2013

tiramisu

Usually desserts are made because I have an earth shattering desire to make this one particular thing. Like, if I don't make pot de crème now it seems like the world might explode. Or I'm craving the validation that comes from taking a plate of ever-popular blondies next door (because they're always a hit). Sometimes it's a simpler motivation like a box of cheap sponge cakes crying to be covered in sautéed fruit and whipped cream.

Very occasionally do I make food on demand. Especially a new recipe, that I haven't tried before. But when my mother comes home and says "there's mascarpone in the fridge and ladyfingers in the cupboard and what alcohol do you need for the tiramisu you're making tomorrow" it's kind of hard to say no. I do live rent free in her basement and all, so if the occasional dessert is requested of me that's really not asking too much.

I have to admit, this dessert was just a little more time consuming than I thought. It also dirtied an awful lot of bowls. Three different bowls just for the mascarpone filling, though there may be a step or two that could be streamlined. It also took longer than I expected, but was heavenly enough that it didn't matter.

This is a make ahead matter. I don't usually have the patience to let a dessert sit in my fridge overnight but the texture on this will thank you. The cheese mixture needs time to soften up the ladyfingers and things are a thousand times better day two than day one. I didn't change much from the original recipe (found here) though I'm glad I did make the few changes. The extra egg white and mascarpone made for a more substantial filling, and even though I made a smaller size in terms of cookie content, it was definitely needed.

And also? It's tiramisu. That's about the only incentive you should really need to make this.

Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature

  • 2 double shots espresso
    • can be replaced with 1/2 cup of strong hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 ounces amaretto (or rum, or kaluha)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 3/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 16 ladyfingers
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate shavings
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Directions
  1. Make the mascarpone filling.
    1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer. In a metal bowl, mix the egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Place the bowl over the saucepan and whisk thoroughly. Cook, constantly wisking, for about 5 minutes until the egg mixture gets a glossy texture and doubles in size. This is good to go when it's thickened enough to hold a ribbon between beatings. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk mascarpone until softened.
    3. In another bowl, whip egg whites until they hold medium peaks.
    4. Whisk mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture until evenly incorporated.
    5. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolks and cheese, about a third of the egg whites at a time. Once incorporated set aside for later.
  2. Make your coffee dipping syrup.
    1. In a small, flat bottomed dish (not a bowl) dissolve the sugar into the coffee or espresso. Add the amaretto (or other liquor) to the mixture.
  3. Begin assembly.
    1. Cut your ladyfingers in half. They absorb the coffee a little better this way, it seems.
    2. Using half of your ladyfingers, quickly dip each piece into the coffee mixture and create a single layer on the bottom of your pan.
    3. Take half your mascarpone mixture and spread overtop of the ladyfingers.
    4. Don't freak out when you realize that the mascarpone layer is thin. It's ok, I promise. This dessert is not the sum of its parts.
    5. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate shavings.
    6. Repeat, layering a second set of coffee infused ladyfingers over the cheese mixture. Cover with remainder of the mascarpone, grate some more chocolate.
  4. Whip your cream together with your final tsp of vanilla and tbsp of sugar.
    1. Optional: Once the cream becomes thick but not quite whipped, pour in a couple of tablespoons of your leftover coffee and amaretto syrup. This just compounds the flavours and makes everything even more delicious. Whip until thick and holding medium peaks. This step really reinforces the coffee and amaretto flavour in the dessert the most.
  5. Spread your whipped cream mixture over the final mascarpone layer, dust with cocoa powder.
  6. Cover, and let rest in the fridge overnight.
  7. Portion and serve.



And! Here's a picture. You'll have to excuse the crummy lighting in the kitchen.


Also, apparently my mom's old Pyrex is trendy now. (The hand-me-down ceramic oven less so.) This same pattern is at all the local antiques markets. It looks dated to me, but hey it does its job. And we've got even more awful and popular ones as well. Who knew everyone would want the Pyrex?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

disappointed reading

Do you ever give up on a book part way through?

I'm struggling right now with the current book I'm reading. I've made it to about the halfway point and I just don't care enough to really see how it ends. I'm quite disappointed in the book, actually. It was misleading: the synopsis on the back suggested that the plot revolved around time travel and detective work and in reality it seems to be about trickery and the human desire to believe things that aren't real.

The plot has followed two major arcs so far, both about different characters being tricked into believing that they have traveled through time, with the omniscient narrator revealing the trickery afterwards. And I just don't care. It's not poorly written, it's just I would have never picked up the book if the brief had given me a more accurate description. It's a pet peeve of mine when the synopsis is misleading; I rely on those to help choose books based on my interests, and the actual content of this book is nothing to do with what I was told it would be about.

Part of me wants to keep reading, to see if maybe, just maybe come part three there might be some real time travel and wonder to discover. Plus I paid about ten dollars for the thing and I feel a little obligated to see it through based on that. Neither of which strike me as particularly compelling reasons to keep reading, really. Plus I have more interesting books around just waiting for my attention.

I've been reading this for over two weeks now and can barely bring myself to pick the darn thing up during my lunch hour at work, when I typically do a large chunk of my reading. I kind of want to power through it, because there isn't that much left but honestly the idea is a little dreadful.

How do you decide whether it's time to give up on a book?

Friday, August 02, 2013

so close to done!

That quilt there, on my kitchen table (please excuse the mess), that looks done, doesn't it?

 

Except it's not. One stretch of the binding is still only pinned on in the back. You can see some of the pins in the next picture, but if I'm being honest there's not much left. It just feels like a lot. Which would be why you're not actually seeing the quilt top - since I haven't shown proper pictures of this yet I feel like after making you wait since January you can handle another week to see the whole thing finished.



I'm so close it almost hurts. I've probably got another two or three hours of sewing left, which in the grand scheme of things is nothing. Almost six months of working on this, sewing about an hour a day most days (some days not at all, some days off for hours on end) every single stitch done by hand and I'm almost done. This last bit is driving me absolutely bonkers. I just want to be done already!!!

Luckily, how close I am to being finished this makes it a perfect candidate for an August entry to a "finishes" contest on a blog I follow. Getting the binding done on this and getting this washed and then finally usable is my August entry to the "Lovely Year of Finishes". If I can't finish this by the end of the month I have issues, really.

A Lovely Year of Finishes

Also this hopefully means that soon you can get a peak at the other project I'm working on right now, the first bits of my niece's quilt. This one is exciting, though there are some design and fabric choice elements I'm rethinking. Buying more fabric does not need to happen, but it just might. Would that be so terrible?

For now, though, have a gratuitous picture of my dog. Because he's awfully cute isn't he?