Friday, December 19, 2014

Easiest Christmas Biscotti

A friend who checks my blog reminded me of the Christmas biscotti I always make, except that I had forgotten them this year! But since I haven't begun baking I can still get them done- I had some quilting to finish up for pre- Christmas delivery, so thanks for reminding me Shirley!
These are a huge hit with everyone who has ever eaten them to the extent that some people[names withheld to protect the guilty, LOL] have been known to hide them from her their family! And the best part? It's wicked easy!
Here are some packaged ready to go.
Below is the recipe but if you want some visual aids check this post I made about this time last year.
Oh, and I do plan to make the salted caramel bars again even though those things are seriously evil and dangerous for your figure!

Here's the basic easiest recipe, I have "scratch" recipes too but this one is so simple!

Two cake mixes, one yellow or white and the other red velvet.
2 cups all purpose flour.
1 cup butter, melted.
4 eggs.
2 Tbl. vanilla, orange juice, port wine or any liqueur.
 1 cup of dried cranberries, white chocolate chips. 

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper.
I mix the yellow cake mix first then the red velvet.
First color:
Beat two eggs and half cup melted butter until combined, with vanilla or other flavoring. Add yellow cake mix, one cup flour and half the fruit and or nuts etc. all at once and mix until combined-it will be a soft cookie dough consistency if it feels a bit dry I add a little more of the flavoring I'm using.
Make four rolls approx. 1" in diameter two on each of the prepared cookie sheets and set aside.
Second color
Make the red devil mix using exactly the same method as above, lay a roll of red velvet up against the yellow on the cookie sheet and press them firmly together so they will bake up as one roll.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. 
Cool about 10 minutes then slice diagonally in 3/4” to  1" pieces, lay on their sides and re-bake another 5 minutes.  Turn the pieces over and bake a final 5 minutes on the other side.
Cool and dip one end in melted white chocolate and sprinkle with red or green sugar 
They will keep for a loooong time in an airtight container or frozen for even longer if they stay around!
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Enjoy! My DH likes them for breakfast with his coffee! Any questions send me an email.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Is A-coming……….

Or as The Boy says " it's nearly happy Christmas Grandnanna"!
Most of the rush is over for my commitments, I have one more quilt to complete by the weekend,  and I need to purchase some gift certificates but otherwise most of my very simple Christmas prepping is done-except for the big dinner I make Christmas Day for family- that's a lot of work beginning with home made raised cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting for the early arrivals!
Some years ago I began to trim down and cut back on Christmas preparation to reduce the stress and rush and needless buying and allow more time for focus on the "Reason for the season".
As a family we agreed to forgo exchanging adult gifts, agreeing that we each have all that we need. I make a couple of exceptions, as parents of this family we take advantage of the prerogative of age and position, LOL. We like to give the sons and DIL's something small they can use, the girls love  massages at the local chiropractor's office and the guys enjoy hot shaves and men's facials at the fancy barbershop! I also order a memorial ornament each year for them [and one for us] to keep their brother near, this is the one for 2014…….
this is the back. 
 And this is the little "Matt tree" I put up every year with all his ornaments and a few other significant things related to his life. Several years I have received one from his brothers too so there are more than the eight for the years he has been gone from us.
We find it a lovely way to keep him with us on one of those family occasions when there is that empty chair.
I did one other thing this year, I had a few of Matt's clothes in a drawer, most have been given away to his brothers, but I wanted to use the rest to make memory keepsakes for the family. They were not suitable or sufficient for quilts but I found a lady on the internet who makes teddy bears from your loved one's clothing so I sent her some jeans and T shirts. My family here do not watch my blog so I feel fairly confident it will stay a surprise!
I think the boys will really like them, the T shirts have special logos from Matt's life's activities like the triathlons he competed in. The scarves are made from one that Matt wore when he lived in Korea teaching English and working for his black belt in Tae Kwan Do and they are fastened with little angel pins. The maker also embroidered Matt's name and the appropriate dates of his life on earth.
We deposit money in the Grandsons' savings accounts but the little one also gets some small thing to unwrap.
This year I found a cute toy at Fry's electronics, a kids karaoke set-The Boy loves music and knows lots of songs so I thought it might help his speech to hear himself singing.
I hope that he likes it but if he does not it was not an expensive experiment.
How are your Christmas preparations proceeding, have you too decided that the commercial insanity is over the top?

The Wreath Quilt Has Bling!

I blinged it up, put in all the LED lights and about one hundred crystals.
Very hard to photograph to show all the crystals but they are there! It has gone off in the mail and that's the last of the mailing-wait there's one more to go airmail to my brother and SIL in Aus. tomorrow and I have a large lap quilt coming in tomorrow, I will need to construct the backing and make and attach the binding too but I'm hoping to have it finished by Sunday for delivery to my friend. 

Grand Illusion Progress

Linking up with Quiltville Monday Link-up
Saturday night the balance of Clue #2 was finished, I was afraid I would not be caught up and would fall behind but it was faster than expected!
Here are all one hundred double diamond blocks, I think it was a lot easier to use the strip method, just couldn't face all those tiny pieces when there was a less labor intensive method available. Of course if I had wanted to use little pieces or precut strips then one of Bonnie's suggestions would have been the choice, but I was prepared to sacrifice a little waste for ease of production and anyway I did not have appropriate strips already cut. My blocks turned out very accurate size-wise so I am a happy quilter!
Then I got started on Clue#3 and completed 17 blocks in short order.
I do not have as many color choices as Bonnie so my blocks will not have near the scrappiness of hers but I am "ok" with that, not wanting to purchase more fabrics but preferring to use what I have in stash. That way I can "rotate my stock" and purchase fresh material as I run out. You can see that these greens are more uniform in hue than Bonnie's but that's not going to bother me either if it means I can use up current stock.
The first check at measuring found perfect accuracy but as I went further I was coming up short of the necessary 6.5", so I did a little "unsewing" and adjusted my seam allowance, and am very relieved that I checked or I would have had a lot of reverse stitching to do!
 My regular 1/4" Pfaff foot is a scant 1/4", but I had switched to the little foot with the ledge and discovered to my chagrin that it is more generous in size so I reverted to the basic 1/4" foot. Once I did that the resulting blocks are perfect and most do not even need a sliver trimmed- I always check every block just to be sure!
Here you see the difference in design and apparently the fancier foot gives a slightly larger version of 1/4"! In future I will remember that if I need absolute 1/4" accuracy I need to stick with the basic foot.
It's great that Clue#3 is a simple one, and since I will be using mostly WOF strips it will go really fast I think- hooray, this time of year is so intense we need simple and Bonnie is blessing us with it!.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Gingerbread House!

Yesterday I went to The Boy's kindergarten classroom to help him build his Gingerbread House as neither Mom nor Dad were able to be there.
I should have known better than to wear black, old jeans and an apron would have been more appropriate! I ended up with the frosting on the outside of me and The Boy ended up with it on the inside LOL, he insisted on "tasting" it!
 He was very tempted to eat the candy especially those he knew and liked but I discouraged him, he had not yet even eaten lunch. He really enjoyed frosting the graham crackers,  unable to resist taking a lick at the utensil now and then and we ended up with a very overdecorated house it must have weighed a couple of pounds. The little fella has become even more "cuddly" lately, loving to be in physical contact.
We carefully carried it into the library to be displayed with the work of the rest of the class, here you see a few of them. I am guessing they will be there till the end of the semester by which time [hopefully] the candy will be rather inedible!
His Daddy was very disappointed about missing it so I bought them a kit to do at home this weekend.
Meanwhile, I have made a little progress with the GI quilt mystery but I am no where near done.

I have sewed a lot of strips together-each strip gives me 5-6 blocks so I have a way to go, I am thinking almost twice this number of strips, argh, and the new clue will be out tomorrow!
Chain sewing in my future……….

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Grand Illusion Clue Two, My Option!

 I had a few enquiries about the strip method for Clue Two and directions were requested.
DISCLAIMER:
Miss Bonnie does not mind if we use a different method but she does request that we not post comments about it on any of the Quiltville sites, it causes mass confusion among the MQ participants!
Bonnie is extremely generous and gracious to the quilting world so please honor her wishes and do not chat about it on her websites.
As stated in my previous post, when I decided to use this method I scouted around the internet to see if anyone else had the same idea and found one quilter who had already experimented successfully with stripping, but when I went looking for her blog to link back to her I could not find it no way no how, so I am hoping she responds to my comment so I can give her credit!
 Our strip measurements were almost identical, 1/16 of an inch different for the neutral strip, I went with the full 2" and my blocks are great.
That said here is what I did.
I cut the neutrals strips at 2"
The black and pink strips at 2.25", all WOF.
 Strips cut ready to sew
 Lined up at 45 degrees for the first 2.5" cut
Continue cutting at 2.5" intervals, being careful to make sure you stay on the 45 degree angle.
WOF strips gave me enough sets for five blocks
Carefully trim off top and bottom….. 
to leave the block at 2.5" x 4.5"
 Two partial blocks ready to combine
I use just one pin….
right at the intersection here
I am content with it, although it is still not a very speedy process because I had to cut and sew so carefully to get the correct size and matching seams. However, I will not stress if a few are not perfect because it will never show in the big scale of things!
 Here are my five blocks all sewn and correct at 4.5" square. One of the possible drawbacks of this method is that there may not be quite as wide a range of scrappiness which does not disturb me personally, it is outweighed by the the advantages of simplicity.
Here are the end cuts-I think I could do better if I staggered the three strips, I doubt it would be enough to cut two more probably only one but I might try it anyway next set, then even if they were odd they would be more useable, possibly in the backing.  If this seems like too much left over for you then perhaps one of Bonnie's "no waste" methods may be a better choice.
Let me know if you try this, I hope it will work for you. as well as it did for me.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Grand Illusion Clue #2

When I read through the directions I was feeling very discouraged at making two hundred "double diamond" units and although Bonnie has listed three very different methods for construction none appealed to me.  I just knew these could be made by sewing the three colors of strips together then cutting the units which seems to me to be much simpler - and faster- even though it does create some waste. I decided that I would tolerate a bit of waste to save time and my sanity this very busy time of year!
So I did a bit of hunting around the internet and checked a few other blogs and found at least one other who had decided to use the strip method for what she calls "half chevrons". Although my measurements were a skosh different to hers I decided to try hers since she had already made a couple of sample blocks that turned out correct size.
I left her a comment so I hope that she responds because now I cannot find her blog and I always like to link back to someone whose work I reference.
So here are my two sample blocks, perfect size and lining up quite nicely, using a scant two inch neutral strip and two and a quarter inch for black and pink.
What do you think, would you opt for a fussier construction without waste or a faster method with some waste?
Today I had a lot of little bits and pieces of errands which I always try to combine into one outing saving both time and petrol! I get very irritated when I have to "waste" time running around this rather expansive city to complete my errands so I tend to allocate a day to do them all.
Having to meet BJ to pick up my "Bountiful Basket" I carried on southwest to go to 35th. ave Sew 'n Vac to purchase the binding for the Starry Nights panel. They had no "hot fix" crystals so on to "Michaels" where I found a limited supply, so after a couple more stops I ended up at "Hobby Lobby" [love that store] where I found the crystals and a couple of Christmas gifts!
Cannot show the gifts but here are the crystals.
I think these will bling up the wreath panel nicely, don't you? After church tomorrow I plan to bind and embellish it then move onto clue #2 of Grand Illusion.
DH is off to the Colorado house for a spot of skiing so I have more time for sewing, I do not cook while he is gone!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Friday Finishes

This is a Northcott Starry Nights 2 panel.
Very simple quilting on this little Christmas banner, meandering strings of tiny Christmas lights in the amazing Superior gold metallic thread, usual speed, a little easing on the top tension and not a hitch in the process. I do not know how they make this Superior metallic so sturdy but the silver is just as dependable.
This banner did not require much embellishment it is already quite lovely but I will also be adding a bit more bling in the form of some hot fix crystals.
There is a string of LED lights to go on when I have made the holes in the appropriate positions. I also need to go to the 35th. Ave store to purchase a little of the coordinating fabric for binding- perhaps Saturday- then I can get it finished and mailed away to the recipients in time for Christmas display.

Here is Mr.Linky to join in and show off your week's progress.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Kick-Off 2014

Linking up with Bonnie Hunter
The beautiful cake from Angela and Kathy!
Yesterday twenty one Bonnie Hunter aficionadas met in Chandler to begin on the first clue.
The event was organized thanks to Angela and Kathy, and we each brought a dish to share so no one went hungry all day though at one point a couple of us had to walk to the library for a caffeine  break at the coffee shop.
These are BJ's bold "out of the box" choices……….
Below are her six fabrics.
I love them, very dramatic, I cannot wait to see the finished quilt and then I will have the honor of quilting it!
All my HST'S are sewn for the first clue but not yet trimmed-it doesn't seem to matter which HST method I use I end up having to square a sliver from some so I check them all, makes for a nicely square block/quilt. Two hundred of these HST's we will use for the broken dishes units and the other eighty set aside to use in another clue!
Just ten little broken dishes blocks are done but I have the remainder of the week to get them completed, they are very scrappy as you can see and it will get even scrappier!


We are the Celtic Solstice Divas!
 Six of us brought our quilts to show from last year's mystery, it was interesting to see how different they all looked in other color-ways. Kathy's quilt is enormous, king size I believe. Most of these are scrappy, typical BH quilts, mine even has Sponge Bob fabric for my youngest DGS- if you look closely at the right side border below you can see the character in person!
 This is the back of mine!
Tune in next weekend for Clue #2

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Fireman Quilt For Friday Finishes

This terrific T shirt quilt was an honor to longarm quilt for one of our dedicated firemen.
  Kenny told me that he had not sewn before last year when he purchased a "Black Friday Special" sewing machine. It sounds like a very basic machine, but using the internet for assistance he cut his Tshirts, backed them with the stabilizer and then sewed them together perfectly square and flat with sashing!
I don't know about you but I am impressed - to have achieved this kind of accuracy alone without instruction is, to say the least unusual! He admitted that it was a lot of work as we quilters know, but I suspect he did not realize just how much work it would be!
Kenny also told me that he does a lot of work for autism support a subject that most of you know is dear to my heart. I have offered quilts for auction/ raffle etc next time they hold a fund-raising.
 This one touched my heart, the tragedy of so many lives lost last year from the Granite Mountain crew.
 The Bad Axes block was one of my favorites, I think it was Kenny's Academy shirt.
  The 9/11 shirt .
 He said he has many more T shirts, I can imagine it was difficult to choose his favorites.
 Congratulations on a great job Kenny I hope you stay warm under your quilt at the firehouse!

Below is the Linky to show your weekly progress on Friday Finishes.