What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crazy for Pink Quilt Made from a Panel

Hi Boys and Girls!

I hope you all had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. Now to lose those extra pounds! Oh no...

I finished a quilt! It is amazing what one can do with fabric! I had this really shocking pink fabric panel. I wasn't really sure what to do with it. It is a little crazy as you will see. You may be familiar with the saying, "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear." That is sort of how I felt about this panel. Things changed after I took a T-Shirt class from Brenda Goggins at Oak Leaf Quilts. http://www.oakleafquilts.com/ I learned how to make T-shirt quilts but I also learned how to border fussy cut blocks. What is fussy cutting you ask? http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltingglossaryf/g/fussy_cut.htm You cut around the specific picture or figure you want on your quilt, towel, handbag, pillowcase, or whatever, and use that in your project. Sometimes you need a border around it. If you are using the figure for appliqué, you do not need a border. You simply stitch around the piece with a decorative stitch or a blind stitch. Some quilters like to use invisible thread to stitch because it will end up looking like hand-appliqué. Here is a video to give you a better idea of fussy cutting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUF2UYOqHx0
So, I had this weird panel and I fussy cut around the figures I wanted. Then I bordered each block.

I had some material left over to make a pillow. I used a 12" pillow form and made an envelope pillow case so if it gets dirty, the pillow form can be taken out before laundering. Here is a link to making an envelope pillow case. http://sewing.about.com/od/freeprojects/ss/envelopepillow.htm  I had to adjust the back pieces and cut them larger because the top was larger. But the directions give you a general idea of how easy it is.


I had enough fabric left over from the border fabric to piece the back of the quilt. Piecing the back makes a quilt very interesting and sometimes hides irregular quilting. Since this is made for a little girl and may be washed frequently, I had the quilt professionally quilted by a long-arm quilter. The quilting design is of hearts and loops. Sometimes, paying the extra money for professional long-arm quilting is preferable to quilting on a home machine. Long-arm quilting has consistant stitches and the overall construction is stronger.


As you may know, I never throw away scraps of fabric! I still have some fabric left over. Any suggestions as to what I can do with this wild fabric? Let me know.

Always label your quilts. Give the quilt a title. I titled the quilt "Crazy for Pink" because there is so much pink in the fabric and the little Princess receiving this is Crazy for Pink!

Quilt labels should have:
  • Title of quilt
  • Recipient's full name, city and state
  • Quilter's full name, city and state
  • Date
I also label washing instructions such as: "Machine wash on gentle cycle. No dryer." Most quilts never need washing, just airing out on a yearly basis. Most stains can be spot cleaned. Detergent fades fabric and a dryer will shrink the quilt. It is best to air dry a quilt.

So, try making a quilt with an ordinary panel. Panels are cheap and usually cost about $6. You can just border the panel if you prefer or you can fussy cut the panel and make the quilt a little more interesting.

Enjoy! And, quilt something!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Easy Homemade Christmas Gift---And it Won't Stick You!

If you are in the same situation as I am, you are rushed and stressed that Christmas is right around the corner! Well, this craft lesson may help you. We live in an area with an abundance of Cactus...Prickly Pear, commonly known as Nopal Cactus. These do have thorns but there is a variety around here that is considered "spineless." Read on to learn how to make a Nopales Christmas Cactus Wreath.

Commonly called Prickly Pear, the Nopal Cactus is scientifically categorized as Opuntia Spp, a generic name referring to over 200 species of the Opuntia cacti family. This has been used as a medicinal plant and food for 12,000 years. But we are going to learn how to make a Cactus Christmas Wreath using the nopales or pads. If you do not have cactus, ask a neighbor if they mind giving you some. I guarantee they will say, “Take all you want!” One of the best things about making a Christmas gift from your garden is that most of the supplies are free. For the purposes of this project, I chose to use Opuntia ficus-indica‘Burbank Spineless’(Nopal).

Supply list: leather gloves, tongs, floral wire (optional), floral pins, glue gun, raffia, straw wreath, small brush, dried chiles either fresh or artificial, acrylic spray, 8-10 cactus pads in uniform size.

Cover your work area with newspaper or plastic table cloth and assemble your supplies. Wear leather gloves and use metal tongs when selecting the cactus pads. Use the tongs to pull the pad from the plant. Pads break off easily.

Using floral wire, make a hanger by wrapping wire around wreath making it long enough to hook on a nail.

Gently clean debris off one side of pads with small brush. Choose to clean the side of the pad that does not lay flat on your wreath. As you are cleaning the pads, randomly place them around the wreath to give you an idea of placement. You want pads that will nestle against the wreath at least in two places. This is where you will apply the glue.

Using glue gun, secure first pad in place in two places that touch the wreath. Wearing leather gloves or using tongs, lightly press until glue dries. Secure the narrow end with one floral pin. Continue with next pad, covering the previous narrow end, thus hiding the floral pin. Continue this technique until you cover the wreath. It would be ideal to end with about 2” between the last pad and the first, but if they does not happen, no problem. You will cover this area with raffia and chiles.

When the wreath is covered with nopales, spray all the pads with acrylic spray. Let dry.

Using a good amount of raffia, lay it on the table lengthwise and tie one piece of raffia or floral wire in the middle to secure. Free form a bow letting loose ends hang about to the middle of the wreath. If raffia ends are too long, randomly rough cut some from the bottom.

At the center of your Cactus Wreath, hot glue the raffia bow. You can hide floral pins to further secure the bow. Arrange 3 chiles and secure stems with floral wire. Attach chile stems to bow with floral pin or hot glue.
Keep your wreath from rain. The covered porch will be fine but out in the ope, the cactus will become mushy and not last for next year. Like it? If you have any problems, just let me know. You can combine the spiney cactus with the spineless...that would be cool. Also you can use a different kind of wreath...what about barb wire? Grapevine? How about foam?
Have fun!!
If you need more ideas, I have a ton of them...how about herbal vinegar? Homemade soap? Bath salts? Meat rubs?
Most people LOVE to receive homemade gifts. Believe me. In today's economy, it not only makes good sense to make your gifts but it also teaches your children and recipients about gift-giving. It comes from the heart, not the pocketbook.
See you next time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wine Tasting Party

Hi Boys and Girls!

Tonight I had a wine tasting party hosted by Traveling Vineyards. http://www.thetravelingvineyards.com/

Holly did a great job describing each of the six wines we tasted. I made foods that go along with those wines. It is a "girls night out" type of event and always a lot of fun. The wall and front steps were decorated with luminarias courtesy of my hubby, Roberto. It was pretty and it gave people a good vantage point to our house.

The hit of the night was the chorizo sausage balls with chipolte raspberry sauce...or maybe it was the truffles from France...no wait...everyone seemed to love the artisan bread with brie...oh never mind. All the food was good!

Bonnie, Debbie and Patsy look like they have empty glasses.

If you want to have a fun evening with your gal pals,
give a wine tasting party with The Traveling Vineyard.

Have a great weekend. Quilt something! I know that I am!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mexican Herbs for Salsa and Beverages

Hi Boys and Girls!
Well, here I am again talking about foods. Yes, I still quilt and yes, I do work in the garden. Our fall rains have turned our yard into a paradise. Duke, our faithful Lion King, loves the greenery. The Passion Vine has seemed to stop blooming, although it was 75 degrees today. The herbs are still doing well although they are going to seed, which is cool because the birds eat the seeds and you know what happens after that! Even though you see tree and plant trimmings in the fire pit, we do not burn much. We take things to the recyle center in New Braunfels. They charge $5 now. That's ok. We pick up tons of mulch for our yard so the fee to drop things off seems fair.
I finished a couple more blocks for my WA state flower quilt. I finished my sister's quilt. She lives in Idaho and they have very cold winters. It only took me a year to make! I made two pillowcases to match it.

Now, back to the title of today's blog...salsa! My friend Viola and I gave an herbal demo and tasting. Boy, did we have fun. My daughter Shannon http://www.salmonlegal.com/ even helped by demonstrating Tomatillo Sauce.  Also called Salsa Verde, meaning Green Sauce, the tomatillo is a fruit related to the gooseberry that is recognizable by its papery husk. They are so pretty in the garden!Tomatillos look and taste somewhat like green tomatoes crossed with tart strawberries. When pan-roasted, tomatillos add an extra dimension of flavor. You can grill them or do like Shannon did...she roasted them in a cast-iron skillet along with the onions, chiles and garlic. Try this recipe for dipping or as a salsa in chicken tacos. Oh, how about on your eggs in the morning? You will love this!

Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Sauce)
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small onion, quartered
1-3 serrano or jalapeno, chile peppers, seeded (wear plastic gloves when handling)
2 cloves garlic (we used 4)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (we used more)
1/2 tsp sugar or honey (we used 1 TBLS honey) optional
1/3-1/2 cup chicken stock, fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth or water (we used Pacific Organic http://www.planetorganics.com/pacific-organic-chicken-broth.html
Salt and ground black pepper
1. Heat a comal (a griddle for cooking tortillas) or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillos, onions, chile peppers, and garlic. Cook, turning as needed, for 5 minutes or until veggies are lightly browned or begin to char.
2. Transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor. Puree to a smooth paste. Add the cilantro, sugar or honey and 1/3 cup of the stock, broth or water. Season with salt and black pepper. The salsa should be pourable. Add more stock or water if needed. Makes 2 cups.

From: Healthy Latin Cooking, Rodale Press, 1998 http://www.rodalepress.com/ or go to http://www.amazon.com/ This is a great cookbook!

So, what do herbs have to do with beverages? Have you ever tried Aguas Frescas? That is, fresh water or fresh drinks. So many refreshing drinks can be made from herbs (organic, of course). Try lemon grass http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/lemongrs.html Here is a recipe for you that is so very refreshing.
Agua de Sacate de Limon (Lemon Grass)
Boil water. Add lemon grass leaves (the more leaves the stronger it will be).
Add a few orange tree leaves, roughly broken up. Lemon tree leaves will work too.
Sieve into cups for hot tea or add to a pitcher of cold water and sweeten to taste. Squeeze 2 limes, stir and serve. Recipe provided by Viola.

Well, now that you thoroughly have a case of the munchies, I will fill you in on my pilates class at McKenna Gym newbraunfit.org. Pilates is based on http://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/about-pilates.html building strength without giving you bulging muscles. I have only been doing this for a month and I am already toning my body and strengthening my muscles...especially in the tummy area where I REALLY need it! So, I am sold on Pilates. Check your local Y, the Senior Center, Health Centers or gyms to check out prices. Some gyms even give free lessons one or two days a week. You will never regret it!

Have a good week and cook something different!