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.