Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Polyester Squares

Several years ago, while shopping at a weekend flea market (in the parking lot of an old piggly wiggly to be exact), I came across a large plastic bag filled with.. hundreds of 1" polyester squares.  I think these were an ambitious quilt project that was never finished.  The squares are all cut by hand (no rotary cutter) and seem to be taken mostly from clothes.  Needless to say I was hyperventilating while getting them to my car!

Here are some of the squares-the fabrics are so great!  I have never counted all the squares,
 but my guess would be at least 1,000

I haven't the heart to cut into any of the squares, it just didn't seemed right.  But, I have used a handful in various projects over the years.  Here is a little clutch I made using recycled wool and a few polyester squares. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great Book of Jewels, A casual review

The Great Book of Jewels, by Ernest A. and Jean Heiniger, 1974

Are you kidding me?  This is so fantastic!  Can you imagine wearing this tiara?

This book is impressive; it is heavy as a bowling ball and full of diamonds almost as big.  It has large colorful pictures of amazing adornments, spanning the history of jewelry making, and is accompanied by interesting and informed text. 

This beast is over 300 pages!

 The story of how a book came to be written can be very interesting.  Flipping through The Great Book of Jewels, one is immediately aware that this was a labor of love for the Heinigers.  In the table of contents, note that each section of book (divided more of less by time rather than by style, though of course these two often evolve together) is curated by a foremost leader in that particular field at the time of publishing.  For instance, the section titled "Modern Jewelry" is written by the curator of the Museum of Modern Art. 

Every chapter is written by a respected scholar

The Heinigers, very impressively, traveled back and forth across three continents over the course of five years, not only as editors but as diplomats, obtaining permission to photograph obscure and fantastic jewels. 

Many of these pieces had not been admired by human eyes for centuries, as they were in well guarded basements of museums and religious buildings, dark bank vaults, and private collections.  Each piece was photographed anew for this project, with stunning results!

Circa 935 B.C.!

This beautiful Turkish dagger dates from the 18th century.

Wow, 330 carats of diamonds!  circa 1824.

I tried to photograph the captions if possible, as they are more thorough than me.  This brooch is
so fantastic!  Dating from the 13th century, it is of two lovers holding hands.

I love everything about this!  Diamonds, topaz, amethysts, silver.
18th Century, Italian.

I snatched this book up at an antique store for the criminal price of $5. My copy is the first Switzerland edition (which is also the first printed edition). The dust jacket is in almost perfect condition, and no pages are ripped/bent.

If you would like a copy of your own, one can be found at a wide range of price points at my favorite site, Biblio Books. Happy reading!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whig's Defeat mini quilt part 2

I bound the quilt in white and I used vareigated thread to quilt it.
Well, I have finished quilting and binding my Whig's Defeat mini quilt.  As usual I dived right in to the hardest project that came to mind, and then found it took three times longer than I assumed it would to finish!  Still, I am pleased with the results.
My plan is to make three more mini quilts of roughly the same size (20 inches square), but of a varied color and pattern, and hang them above my mantle.  Currently a large nude painting hangs there; it is certainly eye catching, but kind of made for an awkward family portrait this past christmas, looming above everyones head.

A little history:
The Whig's Defeat's history is, like many quilt patterns, an interesting one.  A quilt was for American woman one of their few available means of political expression.  There are many historical political/election quilts. 

In the presidential election of 1844, whig candidate Henry Clay was defeated by the democrat James K. Polk, inspiring some anonymous (and we can assume democratic) lady to create this intricate block, and name if victoriously. 
I came across a quilt dating from 1860 in a book and thought the motif, being very self contained and graphically pleasing would make a perfect mini quilt.   

I stitched in the ditch and echo quilted

The back

Detail of the stitching

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bonty Bread

This simple and delicious banana bread recipe comes from a great baker and a great friend to my parents, a woman named Bonnie.  This bread is moist, tender, and great with a pat of butter.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has over the years!

Bonty Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 overripe bananas
Handful of chopped nuts, optional
Handful of chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream oil and sugar, either with a hand held mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

2. Add eggs, beat til combined

3. Sift or whisk together the flour and baking soda; add to sugar mixture and beat til well combined. 
*Note: Batter will be very thick

4. Mash the bananas on a plate with a fork.  Add bananas to batter, beat until combined, scraping down bowl as necessary.

5. If including chocolate chips and nuts, add them to batter and stir by hand to combine.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan: either one standard size or four mini. This recipe also bakes up well as muffins (just line the tins).

Bake times are as follows:
Standard loaf pan: 1 hour (cover loosely with foil last 10 minutes to prevent over cooking of top)
Mini loaf pan: 35-40 minutes
Muffins: 22-25 minutes

Poke with toothpick to ensure center is done.  It should come out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.  Take care not to over bake!  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then loosen edges with knife before removing.  Cool on wire rack til warm.  Store in airtight container. 

A short list of pantry staples make up this bread

Cream together the sugar and oil

Add the eggs and continue to beat

The batter is very thick before you add the bananas! The consistency

of cookie dough

Mash the bananas with a fork first to make them easier to

After the bananas are beaten, the batter becomes moist. The riper the

bananas, the sweeter the bread will be.

Chocolate chips and nuts and optional, but who would complain?

I like baking them in a mini loaf pan, it cooks up quicker and they are

easier to give as gifts!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whig's Defeat Mini Quilt Part 1

I have been working on and off for almost two weeks on this mini quilt and have finally finished the top!  The pattern, Whig's Defeat, is an old one; I came across it in a book of antique quilts and immediately loved it. 
It was very tricky to piece- each diamond and triangle had to be cut individually and carefully sewn.  The green petals are all hand appliqued. 
I'm not yet sure how I will quilt it, but I think I am going to bind it in off-white muslin to minimize distraction from the design.
After completing one square of this pattern, I have huge respect for anyone who completes a full size quilt!

If you are interested in trying one yourself, I found my templates/instructions for the Whig's Defeat pattern on this site.

Those white diamonds were hard to get right! The pink and dotted fabric plays tricks
on the eyes and adds a bit more visual interest, I think.
The finished quilt should be about 20" square.
Here is the back!  Lots of little pieces!
Detail of diamonds and applique.

Here is a close up of the back. 

I hope to have this quilted soon, so check back for the finished result!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Fluff Cookies

I mix between a mallomar and a moonpie-- are you kidding me!

I made a dozen of these cookies yesterday and they are almost gone!  They are a cross between a moon pie and a mallomar and (yay!) require no baking.

The recipe is another gem from my very favorite America's Test Kitchen, and you can get the recipe with a free trial here. 
Read more about my love of America's Test Kitchen in this post.

Carr's crackers, marshmallow fluff, and dark chocolate!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Picked these strawberries up at Trader Joes yesterday--
My hopes weren't too high, with them being out of season, but they were delicious!  Sweet and firm. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cathedral window mini quilt

This week I finished my mini cathedral window quilt; I have put many hours into it!  For some reason, I decided to make this project even more time consuming by hand stitching the entire thing!
My great grandmother stitched a large and beautiful cathedral window quilt, and it hung in our dining room my entire childhood.  I have always wanted to try the pattern out, but after doing a mini version I do not see how she did a large one! 
The whole piece measures about 7 inches.  I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet..

I used linen for the background,
and home decor fabric for the

This quilt pattern is not technically
quilted, so the back looks untouched.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Here is Yoko and Frida! 
Yoko (in the foreground) is a siamese tabby and has been with us since a kitten.  Frida (in the background) is an old barn cat of mysterious origin. 

They have lived together for about 6 years, and have grown to love each other!

Apple Strudel

Apples, golden raisins, walnuts, a squeeze of lemon, and a touch of cinnamon.. Fantastic!

I fixed this apple strudel tonight in the spare moments I had while cooking dinner. 
Apple desserts are my favorite, and I love a good strudel (though this was my first attempt at making one). 
Instead of the time consuming and laborious method of mixing and stretching the dough thin enough to see through, this recipe uses phyllo dough. 

Sure, it's not completely authentic, but I didn't get many complaints!

You can get the recipe here. (though you must sign up for a free trial, I highly recommend America's test kitchen as their recipes are the best out there!) 

**You can read more about my love of America's Test Kitchen in this post.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pizza Pan Paintings

I love to paint!  Sometimes, after finishing a canvas, I'll use the leftover paint on my palette and turn out a quick piece. 
These two paintings of my husband and I were born of such an instance.  They are painted on two old pizza pans that had been put out to pasture.  I did both in probably half an hour. (I can't get my husband to sit longer than that!)
I think I look like some kind of monster hah!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Golden Women Pt. 2

So, in my previous post I shared some photos of a print my husband did on linen.  He gave me one to use as I wished.  I knew I wanted it on a purse, not only for the visual pop, but also to show off his work!

I think this turned out well!  It's made of black duck cloth so it's real sturdy.  It's also very roomy.  I like to use it mostly as a project bag because I hate carrying large purses otherwise.  

The only problem?  He used a water soluble ink, so I'd hate to see this thing wet!  Good thing we live in Las Vegas , where it never rains!

Close up

The interior is fun!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Golden Women Pt. 1

My husband sometimes dabbles in printmaking, though not as often as I think he should, considering these great results!  Here are some pictures of a print he did in 2010, entitled Golden Women
It is a four color print using only one block.  After each color was transferred, he carved away more of the block for the next color.  So these really are a limited edition (16 in total).

Here are the prints drying.  Most have two colors, while the two at the bottom left
have three.

Here he is pulling the blue (third) layer.  They are printed on natural linen.

Here is the final color (black) being pulled. 

My husband was kind enough to give me one to use as I wished,
and in part two I will show you what I did with it!