Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oranges in Sunny Florida

Recently, I was driving through the middle of Florida and I passed by miles and miles of orange groves.  The trees were full of fruit, ready to be harvested.  Even having grown up in Florida, this was a pretty neat sight to me, so I thought you might be interested in seeing where you OJ starts.  The soil is almost straight sand and these trees were being watered by drip irrigation tubes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Quilts that Raised Me

Lonestar quilt started by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka in the 1930's and finished by my Grandma Grace Rudig in 1994.
I grew up surrounded by quilts.  All of the women in my life are either quilters or have a great appreciation for quilts.  Since I was recently able to spend a week at my parents' home in FL, I though it would be a great opportunity to photograph the quilts that have decorated our house for as long as I can remember.

Fan Quilt by my Grandma Grace Rudig- 1996.
The thing I love most about quilts is that they always have a story behind them.  My Grandma Grace Rudig was the youngest of seven children and her older sisters made her clothes when she was a child.  She told me that many of the quilts that we have inherited contain pieces of fabric used in her childhood clothes.  I love to think about things like this when I look at these quilts because it makes me feel so connected to my family members.

Dresden Plate with mostly floral prints by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1937
I have a love for all types of quilts.  I adore the traditional patterns and old fashioned fabrics, but I am fascinated by new, modern styles and patterns.  When I make quilts, I like to take inspiration from the past, while adapting my style to modern patterns and fabrics.

Star of David quilt by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1938

Close-up of Star of David quilt by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1938
Top view of another Dresden Plate with mostly plaid and stripe prints by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1935
Scalloped edge of Dresden Plate quilt with mostly plaid and striped prints by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1935

Alice's Fan Club quilt by my Aunt Cindy Kittendorf- she is very naughty and doesn't date her quilts, but this was made some time in the 2000's for my mom Alice
Cutting Board quilt by Aunt Cindy Kittendorf- again no date, but she made this in 2009 for my Dad Jim, modeling it off of the beautiful cutting boards that he makes.
Hearts and Gizzards by me, Grace Chapman- 1994- this was my very first quilt that I made when I was 13 years old, taught by my Aunt Cindy Kittendorf
Baby quilt made by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1932
Baby quilt made by my Great-Aunt Ruth Rebka- 1932
Floral Album appliqued quilt made by my Grandma Grace Rudig- 2009- this one hangs in my house in PA
The more I sew and learn new techniques, the more I appreciate the patience and skill that went into these quilts, most of which were hand pieced and quilted.  I don't think I would be interested in quilting today if I had not been able to admire these all of my life.  It is amazing to me how little bits of fabric and thread can remind me of my family, brighten my day, and make me feel like I am home. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

What to do with 4,200 Yo Yos

What do you do with 4,200 yo yos?  Make a huge quilt of course! 

My Grandma Grace is an avid quilter and also had a successful career as an antique dealer and owner of Grace Antiques, a shop in Cincinnati, OH.  One of the estates that she bought for her shop contained a few quilts, including a yo yo quilt which she gave to me a few years ago.

Yo yos are little rosettes made by gathering circles of fabric.  Yo yos are a quick and easy use of scrap fabric, but I never know what to do with all of them.  This quilt's yo yos are less than 2 inches wide.  I counted the yo yos in my quilt (well, at least the edges) and found that it was 60 wide by 70 long, making it 4,200 yo yos total!  I can't imagine the patience that it would have taken to sew all of these together!  Most of the quilt is random and scrappy, with subtle patterns. 

I'm not sure if a yo yo quilt is in my future, but this quilt is certainly inspiring!  Do any of you have other good uses for yo yos?

Scrappy yo yos with a subtle pattern in orange.

Back side of yo yo quilt

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Maple Pecan Pie

Since it is Thanksgiving, I thought a post about pie would be appropriate.  I helped my friend Ali make a delicious Maple Pecan Pie for her family's Thanksgiving meal.  She found the recipe, which was originally published in Good Housekeeping, on the Delish web site's recipe finder.  This recipe appealed to me because it takes a traditional pecan pie, and adds maple syrup and dark rum- yum!  I won't reprint the whole recipe, so check out the site for the full version.  We doubled the recipe to make two pies, but the original recipe is listed below.

In making this pie, we found that the crust recipe was very time consuming.  There was so many chilling steps, that it just took forever.  You can refrigerate it for 24 hours, so if you do follow this crust recipe, I would do it the night before.

Pastry Dough for Pie Crust:
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 4 tablespoon(s) cold butter or margarine, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoon(s) vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoon(s) (or more if needed) ice water
Maple-Pecan Filling:
  • 1/2 cup(s) (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup(s) dark corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon(s) dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) pecans, coarsely chopped

Ali starting the crust.

Cutting the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients.  I usually speed this up with a pastry cutter.

Adding ice water to the dry ingredients and shortening.

Wrapping the dough in plastic wrap to be chilled for 30 mins.
After spreading the dough in a pie plate, cover with tin foil and weigh it down- we used rice, which may not have been heavy enough because it puffed up a lot when we baked it.
After mixing the filling ingredients, pour into pie shells, and cover the crust with foil to avoid burning.

Finished Maple Pecan Pies

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wild Florida

This week, I'm visiting my hometown of Jupiter, FL for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This morning I took a walk through Riverbend Park with my mom and it reminded me just how different Florida is from my current home of Pennsylvania. 

I literally grew up in a swamp.  For about 6 months of the year, there is standing water amongst the bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum), saw palmettos (Serenoa repens), and cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto)- our state tree.  It is common to see rattle snakes, bobcats, and fox crossing our dirt road.  I will always love the swamp that raised me and I wanted to share a few photos of my home!

Air plants (Tillandsia sp.)

Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis)

Pileated Woodpecker on a Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii)


My mom walking in Riverbend Park
Cabbage Palm (Sabal plametto)- Florida's State Tree

A great feature about Riverbend Park is that the picnic pavillions are all in the style of traditional chickee huts.  These huts are open sided, palmetto thatched roofs supported by bald cypress posts.  These were traditional huts of the Seminoles during the second and third Seminole wars.  In the Florida Everglades, the  Miccosukee Native Americans still build chickee huts.  It has always been my mom's dream to have a chickee hut in our backyard!

Chickee Hut
Inside the chickee hut

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mountain of Fleece

My friend Jenny wanted to make fleece covers for her daughter's carseat, so I put out a call to the Philly Modern Quilt Guild for sources for fleece.  Julie from Jaybird Quilts responded with an offer to give me her whole fleece stash!  I had no idea what I was in for!  I have enough to make carseat covers till the cows come home, so now I need more ideas.  Luckily Winter is the perfect time to make things that are warm and snuggly, so let me know if you have a favorite pattern or project idea for fleece fabric!  So far, I have a request from my roommate Amy to make a snuggie out of the bright print in the middle of the pile... we are already calling it her Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat snuggie!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wine Bags and Fabric Cards

My roommate Amy wanted to give a bottle of wine in a home made wine bag as a gift, so we pulled out my well worn pattern for the Liberty Quilt Shop Wine Bag pattern.  My Aunt Cindy co-owned the Liberty Quilt Shop in Cedar, MI a couple of years ago and although I only got to visit once, I was able to scoop up this fun pattern that I have used over and over and over again.  Wine bags are just the perfect gift for so many occasions and I have even used them as a simple gift bag to package jars of my honey.
Liberty Quilt Shop
Me with my Aunt Cindy in her quilt shop
I loved this display so much that I recreated the wall art in my apartment with yellow and green Amy Butler prints
I used this as an opportunity to teach another friend how to sew.  Amy has put up with me taking over the living room for sewing, so I was thrilled to be able to teach her how to do something I love.  Amy said, "wow, the last time I sewed anything was a pound puppy quilt when I was 8!"

Liberty Quilt Shop Wine Bag

18"x22" piece (fat quarter) of print A for bag body
18"x22" piece (fat quarter) of print B for bag lining
3" x width of fabric of print B for tie
18"x22" interfacing (the instructions call for non fusible, but I like fusible)

The finished bag will be 3.75"x3.75"x12.5"

Cutting and assembly instructions
From print A, cut 2- 9x15.5" bag body rectangles
From print B, cut 2- 9x15.5" bag lining rectangles and 1- 2"x width of fabric for tie
From interfacing, cut 2- 9"x15.5" rectangles
Amy during her first rotary cutting lesson
Fabric and interfacing rectangles... did I mention that this is my first project using the fabulous Fandango fabric I bought in August?!

1. Baste or iron interfacing rectangles to wrong side of bag body (print A).
2. Cut a 2" square from each bottom corner of interfaced bag body rectangles and lining rectangles.
3. Fold the 2" width of print B in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and iron.  Open up and press long edges to center fold line, then refold in half again.  Stitch along the long edge.  The strip will be about 1/2" wide.
Ironing tie

4. Sew center of tie to one of the bag body rectangles 3" from the top edge and equal distance from each side.
5. Join bag body rectangles along side and bottom edges to make bag body, being careful not to catch tie ends in stitching.  Repeat with lining rectangles, but leave a 4" opening along one side.
Pinning bag bodies together

6. To box bottom corners, match each side seam of bag body with the bottom seam; stitch across resulting straight edge.  Turn bag body right side out.  Repeat with lining rectangles, but do not turn right side out.
Boxing bag corners
 7. Insert bag body into lining so right sides are together.  Sew together along top edge.
Bag body inserted into lining
 8. Turn bag body and lining to the right side through the opening in the lining.  Stitch opening closed.  Push lining into bag body and topstitch through all layers.

Amy's finished bag is on the left, the green one on the right is one I made a while ago with Amy Butler fabric.
Since we were in love with the Fandango fabric, we couldn't bear to waste any scraps, so we thought a fabric card to go with the wine bag would be perfect!  Again, I copied this idea from my Aunt Cindy who taught me how to sew and gives me all of my good ideas.
One of Aunt Cindy's fabric cards.
Amy's adorable fabric card.  Do you recognize the 2" squares that we cut out of the bag body and lining to box the corners?
To hold the fabric in place while she sewed, Amy sprayed the pieces with a fabric spray adhesive.
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