Saturday, March 28, 2009

patriotic quilted baby bib

As a companion to the Nixon baby bib, I put together this number:
patriotic patchwork baby bib

I think this is actually the first time I've made simple patchwork with squares. I like the look and how it turned out.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

the fury of the snowpocalypse

the fury of the snowpocalypse

Over a foot of snow since this morning - it's safe to say it is not Sandal Day today.

UPDATE: Official totals as of 6 p.m. are 16.4 inches in town. Snow is still falling - perhaps 5 more inches tonight. How gross.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

thanks, mom

no sewing, as I have converted my sewing room into my office this week as I have a writing deadline. thankfully my mom has sent me some blog material, in the form of material. she nabbed some vintage fabric at the church mission store last week. she described it on the phone, that there were two pieces and the one was a little dull, brown with kitchen stuff.

but it's still cool - and I love the colors.
vintage kitchen fabric

she neglected to mention that the other piece was TOTALLY AWESOME.

given my recent tribute post to circus fabric, it follows theme and features clowns in action. let's just say that I am not much of a fan of clowns, especially not the scary harlequin masks that lined the wall at a store I used to work summers at.

but these clowns are not at all scary - they are ADORABLE.

take a guess about which one is my favorite:


you have one in mind?

so yeah, it's totally the clown antagonizing the duck with cymbals. fabric with clown antagonizing a duck

I love it. thanks, mom. it will be great for the back of a baby quilt. one of my coworkers heard today that she's pregnant - maybe twins! - so another splendid reason for me to sew. :)

I've also been baking (of course) - simple chocolate cupcakes with a nutritious butter/shortening frosting and sprinkles.

chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles


Pamela asked about the Snipping Tool mentioned in my last post. It's a handy way to essentially take a photograph of something on your computer screen. You can find it under Accessories on Vista's Start Menu.



Let's say you want a picture of something on the screen - a graph in a .pdf or a webpage layout or maybe just another photo. Before, you could use the PrintScreen key to take a screenshot, paste it into editing software, and crop to an image, and then save. With the Snipping Tool, you drag a box to highlight around the area on the monitor you want to copy, and then save the result as a photo that you can post to a webpage or insert into another document. quite handy, in that it cuts out the step of the editing software of the old process.

finally, because I posted it the last two times - I've biked another 1000 miles (indoors)!

Friday, March 20, 2009

randomness

so lately I have been enjoying wearing sandals everyday as part of Colorado's fake winter, voting in Fug Madness, watching my NCAA bracket implode, and the fact that the Jimmy John's sandwich guy has memorized my order (Vito, no cheese).

I finished my blocks for the next month of the quilt bee. Lynn asked for blocks that looked like mini quilts, so I made a tumbler block and a version of a Kansas dugout block.

tumbler block for common threads quilt bee

kansas dugout block for common threads quilt bee

I also have been wasting time on the internet looking at fabric. the new Minny Muu fabrics from Lecien are just adorable. unlike some Japanese imports that are awesome but not that friendly for quilting, these are all adorable and practical small prints suited for the kinds of quilts I make.

I love the colors here:








I also just accidentally learned an awesome new feature on Vista - the snipping tool. it's a way more efficient version of the PrintScreen key for taking screen shots. file that away along with the fact that Akron's mascot Zippy the Kangaroo is one of eight female collegiate mascots.

Monday, March 16, 2009

chocolate peppermint cupcakes

chocolate cupcake with peppermint filling and peppermint chocolate ganache

more cupcakes...this time a custom order for a co-worker. I like taking suggestions for birthday cupcakes, as I often end up with interesting combinations that I haven't tried before. this one might stay in the rotation.

the request this time was for chocolate mint cupcakes. I decided to break out my peppermint extract. over the holidays, the local King Soopers had all the baking spices and extracts half off, so I bought several random things, like peppermint extract, pumpkin pie spice, and orange extract. this is my sad idea of shopping splurge lately.

anyway, I made a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, from a mix. I used the family recipe for cream filling, swapping out the vanilla extract for the mint. and for frosting, I made a ganache with a teaspoon of peppermint extract. I decided to beat the ganache, which I have never done before, but it produced a nice fluffy texture. it firmed up a little too fast, so the cake on the last one got a little mangled. thus no glamour shot of a sliced cupcake revealing the cream center as I was "forced" to eat that one instead of the one I photographed. I thought about crushing some mint candy on top, but I didn't want to overmint it.

side note: green velvet cupcakes tasted much better today. maybe I had a dud yesterday, or a night in the fridge did the trick?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

St. Patrick's Day cupcakes

Andrea suggested I make Guinness cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day, and I probably should have.

Instead, I decided to make green velvet cupcakes, using this recipe.

one virtue of making cupcakes in the afternoon is that my pictures end up looking sharper in sunlight.
St. Patrick's Day cupcake - green velvet cake and green cream cheese frosting

but even better lighting can't obscure the grossness of army green cake.
St. Patrick's Day cupcake - green velvet cake and green cream cheese frosting

I frosted them in cream cheese frosting and decorated half with piped shamrocks.
St. Patrick's Day cupcake - green velvet cake and green cream cheese frosting

the taste is not very good. perhaps a bit overbaked? but I only baked for 16 minutes instead of the 20-25 recommended. maybe I can blame it on the altitude.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

free spiderweb quilt

I made another spiderweb quilt. the last one was bright and white, this one is a bit more muted with tan and soft bright colors. I used the paper piecing instructions from this site.

spiderweb quilt in tan

closeup of spiderweb mini quilt

I used only fabrics from my stash. the back is some Heather Ross pony fabric, which for some reason I have two yards of. I have no idea why I ever bought so much. I even had a few yards of tan binding left from my Plain Spoken quilt, so I only needed to make a few more feet of binding to finish it. I quilted it in and around each spiderweb.

spiderweb quilt, detail of pony back and quilting

this picture of it in direct sun is mostly terrible but a little bit awesome.
spiderweb quilt, in the direct sun

And it could be yours!

Because I have a crazy number of baby quilts in storage, I've offered to donate this to my mom to have a giveaway on her blog. I would give it away here, except last time I tried a giveaway, no one entered until after the contest ended. (it's fine, because I do love my woolly mammoth.)

Anyway, help my mom have a more successful giveaway contest, drop by her blog, and leave a comment to win the quilt.

You could use it as a baby quilt, a wall hanging or toss it over the back of a chair. Or if you're a quilter, you could use it as an excuse to cross off "tedious paper-pieced but awesome looking spiderweb quilt" off your to-do list.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

cookies and stuff

I am blogging to procrastinate. I felt a smidge guilty about leaving the office at 4 today, until I added up the three hours I've worked tonight instead. of course, I could go to sleep now instead of working another hour if I had not taken a break to make cookies.

oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, dried cherries, and golden raisins.
oatmeal cookies with dried fruit and chocolate chips

they were a hit at the office last time I made them. next time I might mix it up with a different array of dried fruit.

Monday, March 09, 2009

seasonal foods

the contestants on Top Chef often talk about their fondness of seasonal ingredients.

I have to say I'm also a big fan of seasonal fare.

like green Sno Balls for St. Patrick's Day.


and marshmallow bunnies and eggs for Easter.




in other news, I have been baking - chocolate cupcakes covered in a chocolate ganache glaze. it's the same recipe as the Martha chocolate cake from last week. it turned out tasty as a cake; dense like a cheesecake almost. hopefully the cupcake version is as tasty.

ganache topped chocolate cupcakes

I made them for a co-worker's birthday, and also boxed up a few for her to take home. awesome cupcake box courtesy of my mom's pal Linda F. (thanks!)
chocolate cupcakes in a box

Sunday, March 08, 2009

circus fabric

I never really liked the circus as a kid. I went a couple of times with the Girl Scouts. what I remember more than the acts or the animals is the gross consumerism, where vendors sold gobs of things that every kid wants - glow sticks, candy, light-up toys, and this insidious coloring book that on its own was questionably fun, but had a raffle ticket in the back that granted eligibility for some fabulous prize. I never had a budget for any of this, either from a failure to bring money or an unwillingness to squander a limited allowance on these goods. so I squandered a lot of circus time on envy, wishing I had a coloring book with a winning ticket number.

while my feelings toward circuses is thus not very warm, I nonetheless find myself recently enchanted with circus fabrics.

I bid on this but didn't win.



I bought this instead:
vintage circus fabric in mustard

(granted, this is much more charming than the Shrine Circus in real life.)

and then I have this one already in the collection:
vintage circus fabric

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

update

Andrea has asked me more than once now to post something so as to move the salivatory bacon pictures down the page.



so here you go, Andrea. A PINK DOLPHIN. is it Wiley? this one is an albino, but apparently there are also pink dolphins in the Amazon.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

bacon

candied bacon

so you might be thinking, "seriously, Jenny, you're that hard up for something to blog about that you are going to show off bacon you made?"

that's reasonable enough to think, but let me point out that this is extra special bacon...

CANDIED BACON.

candied bacon

bacon is already one of the top three foods of the entire universe (joining chocolate and guacamole), so it seems like it might be hard to improve on.

but I have to say, candied bacon is pretty darn good. excellent for those times when you are looking for, say, a dessert bacon instead of a savory bacon.

I followed this recipe. It involves covering the bacon in brown sugar and cayenne and baking for 15 minutes. the flavor is more bacon than candy. the pepper adds a nice subtle heat. I like.

why I make cupcakes

I made a chocolate cake, using this recipe. I have never liked any product of a Martha Stewart recipe I've made in the past, so I don't really know what I was thinking, except that a couple of years ago, one of my students (privately nicknamed Mini-Me for her propensity to laugh at my jokes, knit before class, and bring me slices of cake) gave me a slice from the recipe and it was very good. I'm sure I've bungled it somehow. for starters, I managed to break it in half while trying to get it onto the platter. and of course the ganache glaze looks like I used my fingers to frost it. fingers crossed that it tastes good even if it looks a mess. I bought a can of the wonderfully fun (but horribly spelled) Reddi-wip® to serve with it, to help distract from its appearance.

chocolate cake
cupcakes are so much better than cake - quicker to bake, easier to serve, simpler to decorate if you have no skills, plus the ability to taste test in advance.

I also made my block for the next month of the quilt bee. the instructions were to make simple, minimal blocks that showcased the fabric. I made this to look like a scene beyond a windowpane.
common threads quilt bee block for Jacquie

and then I used the rest of the fabric to make this:
common threads quilt bee block for Jacquie
part of me wants to add a few more stripes to make it more of a plaid block.