Monday, November 30, 2015

Link-up #1 - Allietare Mystery Quilt!

It has been a long year, with very little quilting done since January, and knowing that something is missing but not quite having the energy to tackle the task of organizing the sewing room. Thank you to Bonnie Hunter, who has once again come through with a fun mystery quilt to enliven the holiday season and make the internet seem like a smaller and cozier place. The name is Allietare! ... which means Rejoice! in Italian. And the inspiration is the colors and textures of the Italian Renaissance. I think this is just what I needed to break through the fog. The first link-up party is going on at the Quiltville blog, where you can see what other quilters the world over are doing.
I've been working since Friday, mostly on clue #1. I really like my constant gray, but I decided after much dithering (see previous posts) that I would have to be restrained in my use of neutrals; nothing that would fight with this paler gray. So some of the conversational neutral prints I used in previous mysteries will stay out of play in this one, and I'll be planning a super-scrappy quilt at some time in the near future to make up for it.
 I'm over half done, pinning the little triangle units into groups of 10. In fact, I'm sewing 10 at a time and then using something else to mark the break, like a little string-piecing, so my attention span doesn't get too challenged. It goes fast, though. I just need to make working on it a priority, a little every day.  Today didn't work out, because after school I ended up scheduling an appointment and then driving a kid to it, and then making turkey tetrazzini with our leftover turkey, and then knit night... maybe tomorrow.
I've also returned to Grand Illusion, which was abandoned for most of the year, and am almost halfway done with piecing the units into the main blocks.  I hope to finish the top before Christmas, as well as keeping up with this year's clues. Maybe? You'll notice that I went a lot bolder with my choice of neutrals in this one. Those polka dots and music prints, and the sheep! I'm looking forward to seeing it come together also.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Tertia's face did not make it into the Columbian's coverage, but it was still a nice event last night.  Today was still the lazy, post-holiday, leftover-eating experience. Quarta made it home from her overnight with a friend, and immediately started watching a Dr. Who marathon with Tertia.  Steve put the Christmas lights up.

I wrote and sent off the Round Robin letter.  Since I graduated from college (in 1989!), 5 friends and I have maintained this letter.  It may take as little as 2-3 months to make the circuit, or as much as a year.  This one came in the mail yesterday; the last time I wrote was Nov. 22, 2014. So I decided to contribute to a fast turnaround this time, probably my personal fastest ever.  It may take a long time to make the rounds, but the letter has never been lost in the mail. The six of us have 15 kids among us and we live in 6 different states.  Two of us have children at Grove City currently.

I sewed a fair amount today; the mystery quilt clue is more than half done.  I am doing a leisurely bit of tidying the sewing area, and ironing some of Steve's clothes while I sew. I'm afraid though, that I will really need to adopt stricter measures in my self-intervention aimed at Getting More Quilting Projects Done. I am reading "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis, and listening to an audio recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ... in German.  My German is still not that good. I am just a few lessons away from finishing the Dutch "tree" on Duolingo. We watched "Home" this evening, a cutesy animated kid movie about a goofy alien. Kind of a fun day, all told.  We are all looking forward to a real break at Christmas, and not so much looking forward to the school days that have to happen before then.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gray Friday

 In the Great Thanksgiving Stuffing debate, the plebeians won this year. "From a box" is Steve's and Quarta's vote; in the best of all worlds I would enjoy making it from scratch, but no one else in our rather small gathering this year cared, and truthfully, I like Stove-Top myself.  But, I still referred to my well-worn 1994 Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue for the herb-rubbed turkey... and then proceeded to completely ignore the actual recipe and go with my instinct.  There was a killing frost yesterday morning, and I snapped off lots of twigs of parsley and fennel.
 The reason the bird is so... lumpy... is because I discovered a year or two ago that you rub the softened butter and herb mixture UNDER the skin, and it makes the meat really nice. Of course I had slept in and not defrosted butter and was aiming for getting the bird in the oven quickly so it could be done by T-time, so it was rather slap-dash getting it in there.  And I was glad again about the Stove-Top.
I cooked the green beans in the crock pot so the (real) stove-top was free for making mashed potatoes and gravy, and carving the bird.  I need to remember to do that every time.  Acorn squash with butter, fennel, and garlic was another side dish, and a few baked yams/sweet potatoes... I can never tell the difference.  Quarta and I were talking and I will have to try the sweet potato casserole recipe with marshmallows at Christmastime.  It has been almost 4 decades since I had it last.  I won't force anyone to eat it! I don't do that. Just stating for the record, since my husband acts panicked whenever I mention trying a recipe he dislikes.

The beauty of using the nice china, I explained to Quarta, is that Mom doesn't trust anyone else to wash it, so the kids don't have to worry about doing the dishes.  The beauty of me knocking myself out cooking an insane amount of food on Thanksgiving, is that the rest of the family will find leftovers and not expect me to cook for the next several days. I really wonder if I can make it last until next Thursday? That would be a lovely vacation indeed.  We had a fairly quiet Thanksgiving, highlighted by a nice call from Daniel in North Carolina.

I used to think I would enjoy Black Friday shopping, when the kids were little, until I discovered how shoddy and manipulative the Black Friday deals are, and how much I dislike crowded and noisy shopping centers.  So for today and tomorrow, I am living the introvert's dream.  I am eating leftovers, listening to audiobooks or music of my own choosing or nothing at all, and attempting to quilt.
 This has been the state of my design wall for nearly a year.  The rainbow string star is very pretty, but I screeched to a halt with quilting momentum shortly after the new year, and the Grand Illusion mystery screeched to a halt, too.  That one sample block on the lower left? I have been working on getting back into the quilting groove over the last 2 weeks, very gently.  I finally finished all the components and sewed that block together yesterday. I knew I wanted to do Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, Allietare, or at least attempt it. But I need to stage an intervention in my sewing area (and yes, on my blog), and it started today.
So today, when the first clue was released, I decided to take some positive steps toward organization. Because as we all know, you have to be organized before attempting any serious endeavor, like the conquest of Gaul or a holiday-season quilt project. This is the state of my sewing area, more or less.  My goal is to finish Grand Illusion, and take modest steps toward organizing the scrap mountain into pre-cut squares, bricks and strips, and take baby-steps toward Allietare.
 Here's a close-up of the Grand Illusion block.  I like it, but I'm ready for the top to be done. A new mystery quilt may be just the powerful motivator I need.
I realized when you pick a project up after months of idleness, you can make mistakes.  I thought I was supposed to make 25 of each 4-patch.  But looking back at the directions, I realize now that I was only supposed to make 4 of the pink/black/gold ones. Oops. We will move along and maybe plan a truly scrappy quilt with the extras and other extras from other projects.  I do know that I will not be using that gold for the border, because now I'm pretty sure I don't have enough of it, whereas I was only mildly worried before.
 These are the fabrics that I bought last week, anticipating Allietare, when I remembered a gift card for Joann's that a student gave me last year. My stash is weak in blacks and grays, and it is the grays that occupy my attention today.
 I really like this one, a Tim Coffey print that feels like it would be appropriate for the Italian Renaissance theme.  It has a background texture that looks like old stuccoed walls and that lovely vine, and a very faint purply richness. My only concern is that it is rather light, and we were told not to go too light.
 I bought this one as well, because I like it too and it is medium, and therefore dark enough.  But I don't LOVE it as much.  Here are both grays with the stash pieces I pulled this morning.
Okay, well, the darker gray is poking out on the left, but the favored gray is mixed in. The neutrals that I think of as outliers are on top.
 Here's the lighter gray. I think I can use it, and just edit out the outlier neutrals. And maybe Olivia the Pig, but I will decide on the reds when I have to.
Here is the darker gray.  It's really not all that much darker though, and I still think the outliers would be better not used with it.  So I decided on the viney print. You'll have to wait until the linkup post, but I did go ahead and piece about 1/6 of the triangles needed today, and did a fair amount of catch-up on Grand Illusion.  I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

Just returned from the Christmas Tree lighting, where Tertia and other school choir kids sang.  It was clear and cold this year. Now for some turkey soup and a little stash organization.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Hey, look who took a 2-month blog vacation.  What is it I do here, anyway?  At some point, I guess I'll have to come up with some deep thoughts.  But for today, we have pie.
 I cooked our pumpkins early this morning and pureed them.  The pie is from the blue-green one, which has really nice flavor, if you like pumpkins that is.  There's enough puree for 2 more pies in the freezer now.  Then there is Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie, and 2 apples - one with raisins because Steve requested them.
Quarta made a vatload of cranberry sauce.  There are two Costco bags of cranberries, which comes out to 64 ounces, and we had to do math to calculate the sugar and water to put in.  (5 cups sugar, 4 cups water and about 1 cup orange juice). I had to restrain her from eating a bowl of it for lunch, because I'm a killjoy that way.  I put some in the freezer for Christmas.