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Creative, yes. Card, no.

For you card making folks out there, this is not a card post. Who has time to make a card?? I like to sleep, thank you very much! As stated in the tagline above, it is about creative endeavors, whatever form they take.

This is my absotively, posolutely, no-doubt-about-it busiest time of year. The main thrust of most of my volunteerism comes about now, Christmas is creeping up, company is coming, the garden still needs picking and canning, and, and, and……..!

canned

Above, the home-made vegetable juice cocktail (much like V8) canned this morning, and one jar of the veggie soup I canned yesterday.

So, no card today. I promise you a really good one for tomorrow. Instead, here is the quilt block I finished last night during my volunteer 8 hour shift. Well, sort of finished. You see all those threads? The block is completely sewn together, but the basting threads are holding the bits of paper in place until the block is sewn to the border. Let me explain:

block

For today, I used my so-called creativity in a different way. About a year ago I was visiting my daughter in Minnesota during the Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop. I had quilted in the past, and done patchwork, but not for quite some time. The shop hop happened at a good ( or bad, depending on your perspective) time in that I had no major projects staring me in the face. I purchased enough fabric to..well, we won’t go there! I also discovered that one of the shops, Sewing SeedsĀ in New Ulm, was offering an opportunity to learn English Paper Piecing, something I always thought I might like to try.

They had these beautiful, finished, quilt blocks on display with a notice that said, “Join us for the Breakfast Club”. Well, I bit. Those who signed up for the classes meet once a month at the store to learn and share. I don’t go every month, in fact, I think I have actually been there three times.The instructor, Darlene, is very patient and a good teacher as well as a quilter.

The blocks are of the style in the book by Linda Franz, “Lucy Boston, Patchwork of the Crosses. Lucy Boston was an English woman of seemingly limitless energy and talent, who pieced this quilt in the 1950’s. This photo is from the back cover of the above-mentioned book. Boston’s daughter-in-law, Diana, wrote about the artist. You can find more about her books and Lucy Boston here.lucy boston

There are 56 cross blocks in this quilt and the monthly breakfast club does a couple of them a month. I use the word “does” lightly. The store mails my fabric and a photo of the block each month. Usually there are two, sometimes three, blocks in the package I receive. Included is a photo of the finished block and fabric to cut for said block. I have not said that I have completed all the blocks. I think I have 10 finished and 3 more cut and ready to sew together. This is what comes with the fabric.

block patterns

That’s it.

There are 24 pieces to each block, in an elongated hexagon shape, as you can see from the two blocks at center and right. The one on the left is not quite as obvious, nor is the cutting quite as obvious. It was a tricky one. I have a clear acrylic pattern I trace around for each piece. This allows me to see where the pattern of the fabric is for each piece. The next step involves sewing these pieces to paper, hence, ‘paper piecing’.

quilt pieces

The photo above shows a cut piece of fabric with the paper piece lying on the back side of it. This is basted to the paper, then the individual pieces are hand sewn together.

I am LOVING this process. It is very relaxing and portable, once the pieces are cut. I plan to make all the blocks as they are sent to me, though It will probably take me considerably more time than it will take some of the others in the group.

This shows a different way to look at the block. Either way, the cross is evident. If you can wield a needle and thread and know how to use scissors (you should have learned this in kindergarten, along with the admonishment, “DON’T RUN WITH SCISSORS!”), you, too, can do this. If you don’t want to tackle 56 blocks, then make just one for a hot pad or something.cross

Give your creativity a try in a different way that what you usually do. You might enjoy it immensely! If I live long enough, I will post the finished 56 block quilt!

Thought for today: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

 

 

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Busy Times! So, just a recipe.

Good Saturday morning folks! Whew! Sometimes I feel like a dog chasing its tail!

How in the world do we get so busy anyway? I have been told I don’t have the proper vocabulary, which I guess is supposed to include the word “NO!”

Or maybe I am just too nice? Not. At any rate, whatever the reason, I sometimes find myself busier than I would really like to be.

At the moment I have tomatoes at my house waiting to be canned, my niece is visiting from out of state, I am working 3-8 hour shifts out of 4 evenings as a volunteer for our local Kiwanis club, I am having company and 2 meetings next week, my house is dirty, the garage needs cleaning, and my card making space is a cluttered mess.

So what? you may say. And rightfully so, as I know you all are busy too. I just tell you that so that you might not be too upset when you expected to see a new card, or a new technique and it isn’t here. There are days that there just isn’t time to make a card, photograph it, then write about how I put it all together. On those days, I promise to try to at least do a written blog. Today is one of those days. I hope you will bear with me.

I mentioned the tomatoes that need canning. My daughter has the garden these days, but when the children were small and I was a stay-at-home-farm wife/mom, I had a huge garden. I spent the summer canning and freezing our winter’s supply of food.

This time of year brings back memories of going to my basement room where I stored the crates of potatoes and sweet potatoes, the onions were hanging and the jars of produce already canned were resting on the shelves.

The garden was nearly finished except for tomatoes still on the vine, a few carrots not yet dug, and perhaps a late head of cabbage, or two, and maybe some green beans that had not been picked while they were green beans and are now ready for shelling.

This produce, along with some of the potatoes and onions, became my “End of the Garden Soup”. It is a little different now, but I still call it that, and try to can some of it for the grown-up children and grandchildren. It is SO handy to have for drop-in company, or just when you want a quick meal. It is good on its own as a vegetable soup, or with your choice of meat added. I have made it with hamburger, leftover roast, stew meat, venison, chicken and sausage. It is good any way you fix it.

The tomatoes waiting to be canned will go into the soup. This year we did not plant potatoes, so I had to purchase them and the carrots. Here is how I do it.

Sterilize and keep 7 jars (all that my pressure canner will hold) jars hot. Also, the rings and flats need to be sterilized and kept hot. Fill one jar at a time, wipe the rim to be sure it is clean, add the flat and ring and tighten. Place filled jar in about 3 inches of water in the canner, which has been heating. When canner is full, place the lid and tighten. When steam begins to shoot at a good force from the vent, add the weight.

Then you need to wait for the ‘jiggler’, the moveable vent, to shoot enough steam to pop up and stay. That is when you need to start watching the pressure. For the soup mix, I can under 10# pressure for 45 minutes. Watch carefully and adjust heat to maintain pressure.

After the allotted time, turn off heat. When pressure is at 0, begin releasing the steam by removing the weight. ONLY after all steam is released is it safe to remove the lid.

What goes in the jars:

  • 1 teaspoon canning salt
  • 1-3 tomatoes depending on size
  • 2 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1-2 potatoes, depending on size
  • a couple of chunks of cabbage small enough to get in the jar, or shredded
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 small, cut in half
  • Celery if you like. I never had celery in my garden, but it is good in soup
  • any other veggie you like in your soup

I put tomatoes in first and add the rest, packing down after each addition. If there is not enough juice coming out of the tomatoes to fill the jar to the neck, add some boiling water. Usually this is not necessary, but if it is, ok.

Proceed as above, clean the rim, add the lids and process.

I have made a card with veggies stamped on it and attached to a jar of this soup to give as a gift. (I guess that is today’s card idea)

I hope you are not disappointed that there is no card, and that you find some use for the recipe. Please leave comments below, and if you try this, I would be happy to hear your results. Even if you don’t try it until January, I would still be interested in hearing your results.

Thought for the day: A man should never plant a garden larger than his wife can take care of. T.H. Everett