Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas time! I love the way that our thoughts and actions turn to those around us. The way that we stop thinking of ourselves and perform those kind acts we neglect through out the year. I love that our hearts turn to the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love that many of us connect with friends that we may not of seen that year. I love the music of Christmas! I love spending time with my immediate family and extended family.

We have some traditons at Christmas time like I suppose many of you do.  For years my mother and I took time to make the Norwegian sweets that were popular her home. Things like lafse, fattigman and flat bread. It was a great time working together to produce our family favorites. My mother passed away last year so this year my sisters and I got together and made several of the family favorites. It was nice but not quite the same. Mom and I had such a great time working together and I kind of missed doing it with her.

My Mom always wanted to overcook everything and it was a constant battle to get the treats out of the oven before they were crisp.( She liked them that way) One year I was tired of the fight and thought I would just make the items myself. My excuse was that my sister-in-law wanted to learn how to make them and since I had a very small kitchen there wasn't enough room for Mom too. I felt guilting doing this but I did it. (Nort one of my proudest moments) That year Cindy and I made the best lafse. I left mine on the table when I took Cindy home. I was so proud of our day's work. Well, my pay back for not inviting Mom was that by the time I got back home everything we had baked was eaten by my dog. I never ever left Mom out after that.

There is a tradition in my husband's family where we all gather on Christmas Eve. We visit and eat delicious food. My father-in-law plays the guitar and we sing Christmas Carols. Our group is getting pretty big now that there is grandchildren and great grandchildren. It will be a sad day when Grandpa passes away and we no longer have him directing our singing. I'm sure someone else will take over but it just won't be the same.

This year was strange. So many of the family were required to work on Christmas Day. Something I'd never heard of before. My daughter-in-law flew out mid afternoon to be a work at the Vet clinic she works at. My sister-in-law had to work at her job at the Hospital and my son Jeremy didn't have enough time off to come home. And there was a chance that my brother, a railroad worker was going to have to work. I've never heard of businesses not closing on Christmas. Yes, there are always those who needed to work. People like Doctors and nurses etc. But it wasn't the general rule. I think it sad that the world can't just stop for one day and celebrate Christmas. 

To all my friends and clients, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. And I wish you all the best in 2012!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Family Tree Quilt

In May I attended HMQS in Salt Lake City. HMQS is a great place to take machine quilting classes and they have a wonderful quilt show and merchant mall. During my trip, my friend Stephanie and I just had to check out the local quilt shops. At one of the shops I saw this quilt. I bet I spent a half and hour looking at it. It  is truly amazing! I've started my own version of this quilt. It is done using needle turn applique and some embroidery. Embroidery is something my mother used to do and I swore it was not going to be something I would never do. I tried it as a child and hated it.  Well never say never! I liked this quilt so much that I have taken the plunge. I've discovered that embroidery is not as bad as I thought is was. I wish now that I had learned a few stitiches from my mother.  The pattern was designed by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet Company. This quilt has been so fun to work on. I'm sure it is going to take me a few years to complete but when it is done it will be so worth it.  Check out Lori's blog to see close ups of the blocks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I never thought I'd ever say this

Like so many women these days, I have a really busy life! I work full time, plus run a machine quilting business in my spare time. I am active in my church, I volunter and  I teach quilting. I  belong to several quilting groups. I take care of our home, garden (not very well however), and  do the shopping. I keep saying I am going to slow down but then I add another thing to my to do list. I think I'm a little like my mother. She was the same way. At times my father used to say "Annie you are running yourself ragged! Slow down!" So why is it that many of us keep ourselves so busy?

For me, I just like to be involved. I think life is really short and I'd better get busy if I'm going to get all that I want to do accomplished. I don't like to be bored. I like to learn new things. I'm pretty social and I like people and I like to learn from them. Sometimes I do things because it is the right thing to do. Sometimes I do things because I feel I am obliged to. Sometimes I just want to.

My dear husband doesn't understand this at all. He says I make him tired just watching me. However, he is very supportive.

My usual day starts at 5:00 am. I shower, dress and then work in my quilting studio until I leave for my day job. You really get a lot done at that time of the morning when nobody is bugging you and the phone is not ringing. I listen to books on my MP3 player as I quilt. I also use this quiet time to think and work out problems.

Over the last several weeks, I've been a little out of commission. A small injury has not allowed me to spend time in my quilt studio. I've slept in. And I've only left the house to go to my doctors appointments and to attend a couple of meetings. I thought I hated getting up at 5:00 am. I only did it to make extra time for quilting.  However, I discovered these last few weeks that I really do love getting up that early. I miss seeing the sun rise and hearing the early morning birds. I miss the quiet conversations I have with my husband as he gets ready for work. I miss the hum of my quilting machine and the beautiful quilts that I get to work on. I miss listening to my MP3 player.

I never thought I'd every say this but I love the morning!   I can hardly wait to get back into my busy routine.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I love to quilt or my journey into quilting

The other day a friend asked me why I love to quilt. She just couldn't understand why I would spend so much of my time doing quilting related activities. In her mind I could hear here saying "You have made a quilt so move on and try something else."  I've thought about her question a lot.
At the age of 12, I really wanted to learn how to sew. So I traded babysitting for sewing lessons. Each Saturday, I went to my cousins home and she gave me lessons. I'd sew all day and then in the evening I'd babysit her children and she and her husband would be able to go out for the evening without having to pay a sitter. When I got to Junior high and took sewing in Home Economics, I was aready pretty good by then. I  was making my own clothes by this time so the apron we got to make was so boring.
In High School I had a really great Home Economics teacher. Her name was Mrs. Boulton. I learned more of my basic sewing skills from her and I graduated into more difficult projects like a tailored clothing. I really learned a lot from her.  One thing that I took from her classes is that you need good equipment. AKA a good sewing machine. When others were saving up for cars and such, I was working to pay for a Bernina Sewing machine. I remember going into the local sewing machine dealer and picking out the one I wanted. I said to the owner Mr. Smith "I really want that Bernina 830 sewing machine. Will you please put it away for me and I promise I will come down to your shop every Friday and make a payment on it. When it is paid for it, I will take it home." To my surprise, Mr Smith insisted I take it home that day. Can you image trusting a 16 year old to make payments? But we shook on the deal and I couldn't let him down. I worked at Woolworths each day after school and on Friday when got paid I'd walk down to Mr. Smith and hand it over to him. The wage in those days was a whopping $1.10 cents per hour. So it took me a long time to pay for that fancy $1000.00 sewing machine.  I'm please to say that I never missed a payment and was true to my word. I'd earn extra money for my sewing machine by doing odd jobs like repairing  the Cranbrook Colts Hockey Club jerseys. That sewing machine works as great today as the day I bought it.
When I graduated from High School I was offered a job with the Bernina Company. But, I turned it down go to university. I wanted to be a Home Economics sewing teacher. I still can't belive I did that.
Well I didn't graduate from university. I got married. When my first child came along I wanted to make him a quilt but believe it or not, I could not find a quilting book or teacher. So I tried on my own. The projects I made were really simple. Usually a plain piece of fabric that I just hand quilted. Then I met some older ladies at the church that I went to and they showed me how do do it right. I spent many hours with those ladies and I probably learned more about life than quilting. I enjoyed the time that we spent together.
Then came the day that I noticed the add in the Community College brochure. "Learn how to quilt".  I spent one evening  for 6 or 8 weeks learning the basics. I'd was so fun! That got me hooked. Then I joined the quilt guild and I made some really good friends. And they loved to quilt too! We just kept learning new things.
Then as life would have it, our family needed some extra cash. Our family was growing and I needed to go back into the workforce. That is when I learned to machine quilt since I didn't have as much time on my hands.
So that brings me to  why I love quilts and quilting. I love the colors in the quilts. I love the stories of why quilts are made. I love learning and I'm always learning  techniques as work on a project. I love the inspiration I get looking at others quilts and appreciate the time and effort they took to make their quilt. I love the friendship and comraderie that comes with being a quilter. I love the joy I see in others eyes when you have made a special quilt just for them. I love that fact tht quilters seem to work together when someone is going through a rough time. I love the contentment I feel as I stitch at my sewing machine or quilt at my quilting machine. I love the time it gives me to reflect on life. Life is never boring if you are a quilter! I guess that is why I love it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's the small things that make me happy!

It is funny how the smallest things make you happy! For as long as I can remember, every week or so I've made bread. My family loves it! They like to eat if fresh out of the oven. It is amazing how the smell of bread baking attracts everyone to the kitchen. I enjoy the process of making it. I don't know why but I find it so satisfying to grind the wheat and  mix up a batch of my favorite recipe. Sometimes I make plain old white bread and sometimes I make whole wheat or another whole grain bread. It doesn't seem to matter what kind I make the effect is the same. It makes me happy!

Lately though, I've noticed that the mixing and kneading are getting a little harder for me to do. So I decided that it was time to invest in some modern technology, a Kitchen Aid mixer. Oh my, I don't know how I ever lived without it. She won't hold the volume of the regular batch I make but by scaling the recipe down a bit she does a pretty good job. I guess I'll just have to make bread a little more often. My lovely new mixer has a permanet spot in my kitchen.

If you have never made bread, give it a try! Here is one of my favorite recipes. I give credit for the recipe to my friend Margorie Reay. She is a wonderful cook and makes this recipe to sell at our local farmer's market. It is very versatile as you will see.

The Best Bread

5 cups Flour             2 Eggs
1 cup Sugar              1 cup Oil
2 Tbsp Salt               5 cups Hot Tap Water
4 Tbsp Yeast             6 to 7 more cups Flour

Mix until bread is noce and satiny smooth, no lumps. Then start adding flour until the bread pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put the bread into a large Tupperware bowl and let rise for about two hours. Make into 6 loaves of bread. Let rise for about two more hours. Bake at 305 degrees for 30 minutes. Take out of pans right away and let cool. This mix will make 6 loves of bread, or 4 dozen buns or 4 (9x13inch) pans of cinnamon buns or 4 dozen butter horns.

Raisin Bread: Make the same bread and add 1 cup raisins and 2 tablespoons cinnamon at the beginning.

Whole Wheat Bread: Use whole wheat flour or half white flour and half whole wheat flour.

Mulit-Grain: Add a little multi-grain cereal to the bread dough at the beginning.

Cinnamon Bread: After the first rising, roll each loaf into a 9x14 inch rectangle and spread with melted butter and cover with a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Roll like a jelly roll, put into a bread pan, let rise and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. This make yummy toast.

Buns: Same recipe as above but make into 48 buns. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cinnamon Buns: Cut dough into halves and roll into a large rectangle. Cover with melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a large jelly roll, cut into 1 inch thick slices and palce close together ina 9x13 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sticky Buns: Make the same cinnamon buns as above, but make a sauce (2 cups brown sugar, 1 1/3 cups margarine, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, 1 1/3 teaspoons cinnamon) for the bottom of the 9x13  inch pans. Heat sauce until it starts to boil, pour into two 9x13 inch pans and cover with pecans, then place cinnamon buns on top to rise. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Hot Cross Buns: The same as raisin bread and make into buns, then ice with butter icing.

Butter Horns: Make the same as cinnamon buns with a little less butter and sugar, but place them on a sprayed cookie sheet to rise, so they don't  touch and bake them the same and ice them with butter icing flavored with almond and sprinkle with almonds.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's been a busy month

A few other customer quilts I completed recently

 This is a quilt that I just completed for  Margaret Delemont. This quilt is an origanl design. The animals are just amazing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Some time ago I went to the theatre and watched a movie about a woman who was determined to make every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook and to write about her experiences. It was hilarious! (Although my husband didn't think so.)  Her experiences were a little like life, there were lots of ups and downs. That movie introduced me to the world of blogging. I had heard of blogging but I really didn't know what it was all about until then.

I soon discovered that people blogged about all kinds of things. One of the first blogs I visited was written by a women with a large family. She wrote about her day to day adventures with her children. I enjoyed it so much that I  checked it out regularly. Because of my love of quilting I decided to see if there were any blogs written by quilters. I discovered that there were lots of  them.

 Over time, some of those quilters have become an important part of my life. Although I have never met most of the bloggers, they have given me much inspiration. They have challenged me to do better. I discovered that life isn't always easy but by putting one foot in front of the other we can make it through almost anything. I also learned that this group of bloggers were  a great support to one another when life's challenges happened. Some have taught me about faith and others charity. And others have just made me laugh.

I've thought about doing a blog for a long time. But, I was not sure of  what I could share that might be of benefit or interest to somebody else. I decided  I'll start out with what I know and go from there.  So what to I know? I love quilts and quilting so I guess I'll start there. You might get a little about my family and my feelings about stuff . I'd also like to share with you some of the wonderful quilts that my clients have made. They truly inspire me.  Welcome to my blog!