Quilt Testers In Action

Quilt Testers In Action


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Catching Up With The Garden

There was no "Friday In The Garden" post yesterday, because I was giving the Little Man his haircut. We had a rough time. I hadn't realized how much I relied on his ability to balance himself as I turned him around and upside down to get all the parts. With his arthritis so bad, he can no longer do this. But we got through it, and he is now wearing his pajamas.

When I did get out to the garden this morning to take pictures, I noticed that white is the dominant color this week. The Nannyberries way out back are finishing up.

And, in the vegetable garden, the arugula is going to seed.  I think the flowers look like pinwheels.

The strawberries are really just getting going. We'll have these all summer long, as they are everbearers.

There are a lot of blossoms on the blueberries this year, also. I couldn't manage a picture, but they are a waxy, white, bell-like flower. I'm excited about this, because we haven't gotten much from them in the past.

Out front, the white irises are starting to blossom. I'm confused by this plant. I bought it as white, and the first year it bloomed a dirty pink. Since then, it's been white. I have absolutely no idea why this happened.

The red-twig dogwood is looking beautiful, with it's variegated leaves, and frothy blossoms. The birds enjoy it's berries in late summer.

My absolute favorite white flower? No contest. Its the Maple-leaf Viburnum, also known as the American Highbush Cranberry. It's like a fairy ballgown of a flower!   

One big spot of color in the garden this week is my youngest Daughter's Rhododendron. It is having far more blossoms than it ever has before, maybe in anticipation of her Graduation celebration. Yesterday was her last day of High School classes.

We are looking forward to  Monday's Memorial Day parade, when she dons her uniform for the final time. There were times when it seemed like the band events were endless. Hard to believe it's almost over. I'm sadder about it than I thought I would be.

That's my girl, the sousaphone on the left. The silver braid on her shoulder indicates section leader. She's been section leader since her freshman year (she joined the band in 7th grade).
  Have I mentioned that I'm so very proud of her?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weasley On Wednesday

Hi, everybun! We are all happy here today, because the incredible Hines took home the Mirrorball trophy. Although I do think any bunny in his prime (Mickey, Buttons, Racer?) could probably still teach him a few moves! Mom says it's good that he won, because my Aunt is a Native Pittsburgher (is that something to eat?), and Mom says she's a rabid Steelers fan. She should probably get shots for that. Anyway, my Cousins learned some interesting words during the Super Bowl, and with Hines winning last night, they  probably didn't learn any new words.

By the way, you like how I'm rocking the spikes here? Mom has started saying the "H" word, though, so I probably won't have them for long.

OK, well, I see the Bunway has cleared for takeoff.

Here I go..... 

Pretty speedy for a blind guy, hmmm? See you later.

Karen here. Yes, we were watching DWTS last night. I'm not a big follower, but Kirstie Alley's great attitude sucked me into it this time. Weasley came in to cuddle up, even though it was so hot that I had to get his frozen water bottle out for him yesterday. Really way too hot to cuddle, but how could I resist this?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Cake

I meant to post this yesterday, but we had almost nice weather over the weekend. I ended up doing a lot of work in the veggie garden, followed by an afternoon of hand stitching, and by then my hands were in no shape to do any typing! 

The family that I grew up in has a certain cake recipe that has become the required cake for birthday celebrations. I don't actually remember a time when my Mother didn't make it for birthdays. I think the recipe came from one of those little cookbooks that you get in the checkout line at grocery stores. It may have been a Pillsbury Bake-off  Cookbook. I have a vague recollection that the original name of the cake may have been something like "Confetti Cream Cake", but in my family it is just known as "The Cake".

Little kids often don't start out liking the cake, but as they begin to grow up, their judgement improves. Of course, if they help making the cake, this happens sooner. You'll see why.

The cake itself is not very light or sweet.

What it is, is a perfect receptacle for absorbing all this goodness.

When we were little, we all wanted the job of grating the chocolate. We used a knife to scrape it, and a lot got melted and eaten. When I got older, I used a vegetable peeler, which works a little better. This time I used a new grater, which allowed me to put more of myself into the cake than I intended.

The nuts get chopped, which is the least messy part of the job. Then, the maraschino cherries get pulled into pieces. I used to try to cut them up, but it's really easier to just use your fingers to break them up. Although, the red juice everywhere makes the kitchen look a little like CSI. Can you imagine how sticky my camera was at this point?

The cream is whipped, and some of it is combined with sour cream, cream cheese, and all those other good things. That is the "Confetti Cream". The two cake layers are split into four, and then are filled with the cream mixture. 

The last of the cream is put on top, and the sides have the plain whipped cream applied. My cakes usually look a little wonky at this point, but nobody really cares.

This year I put the cake on my Grandmother's cake stand. This was guaranteed to elicit repeated tellings of the story of when the kids were little, and I flipped the entire cake (and cake stand) upside down. These are the times when you really love your family.

Of course, it's all over much too soon. If you can make the cake last until the next day, it will taste even better, as the flavors meld, and the cake absorbs them.

Here is the recipe, in case you are interested in trying it out.

The Cake

5 eggs                                                                   1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour                                                            1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder                                        1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour 2 nine inch cake pans

Beat eggs and vanilla at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continue beating until thick and ivory colored. This takes about 5 minutes, do not under beat. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pans, and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely. When cool, split each layer in half.

The Cream

2 cups heavy cream
8 oz package cream cheese                              1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar                                                           1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon                                                 
 3/4 cup shaved chocolate bar (its easier if it's frozen)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts                                   
 1/3 cup chopped maraschino cherries

Beat cream until thick, blend with 1/3 cup sugar. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese with sour cream, remaining sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, until smooth. Stir in cherries, chocolate, walnuts. Fold half of whipped cream into sour cream mixture.


Top one cake layer with 1/4 of confetti cream mixture. Add another layer of cake, another 1/4 of con. cream. When you have all 4 layer s of cake on the stack, put the remaining 1/4 of the confetti cream in the center of the cake. Spread out to about an inch from the edge of the cake. Spread remaining whipped cream around the sides of the cake, and up over the first inch of the top, meeting the confetti cream.

This is really good with chocolate ice cream. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Baby's All Grown Up!

I'm finding it very hard to believe, but yesterday we celebrated my baby girl's 18th birthday! It seems like just a few days ago she was rolling around on the floor, crashing into things, making weird faces, wearing strange things on her head, talking gibberish, and doing her best make everyone laugh.  Oh, wait. That's right. It was just a few days ago.

We celebrated late last night, after she came back from seeing a play with her two best buddies.  She was treated to a rousing rendition ( i.e., it was loud) of "Happy Birthday".

Last year, she didn't get the candles blown out. I forget why, probably she was laughing too hard. This year, no problem!   The 1 and 8 candles were saved from her sister's birthday 5 years ago, so we managed to include her, even though she was physically in Pittsburgh.

The cake, fabulous as always, disappeared fast. I'll tell you more about the cake tomorrow.

Now that she's 18, she's behaving in such an adult way. She's much more reserved.

She's also become very lady-like all of the sudden.

I'm very proud of the responsible adult she's become.

Seriously, I really am very proud of my girl. She works hard, is really very responsible, and yet still remembers how to laugh and have a good time. I hope she will always be this way.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!
You really are the best thing the fish store had to offer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weasley On Wednesday

Browsing through Blogland this morning, I noticed that Sew Cal Gal is gearing up for this year's Pets On Quilts Show. This got me thinking about how I might represent Weasley on a quilt.

Since this is about as active as he is likely to get these days (and in fact he's usually passed out flat on his side, looking dead), he's not very inspiring. Maybe he could show up as a bunnyskin rug in front of a fireplace? As the victim in a scene from BCIS, complete with chalk circle? Passed out under a bar, with an empty carrotini glass? Hmmmm. I'll have to give this some thought.....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prom and a Fleur De Lis

Feeling rather waterlogged, and moving slowly. It seems like it has been raining for weeks here, and the weather forcast stretches out for the next week with more of the same. At least the rain did let up on Saturday, long enough for us to get pre-Prom pictures outside, and have a post-Prom backyard fire. It's a good thing, too, because our house turned into a designated picture taking spot, and no way would all of those kids (and their dresses) have fit into my house!

Here's my Daughter, in a casual moment with her Dad.

This is her, along with a Good Friend. They got ready together. All the giggling indicated they were having fun, and full of excitement.

My Daughter with her Date, who is also a fine trumpet player.

And finally, with her two Best Buddies. She has known one since Kindergarden, the other since Second Grade. They have shared a lot over those years.....

There were a bunch of other kids there also. The funny part, though, was the huge crowd of parents, madly snapping photos. The kids were quite gracious about it, but very glad when we were all done. Now the count down begins to Graduation. This is happening way too fast!

To get back on the subject of quilting, I thought I would show you another quilt that I made for the Three Creative Studios  Color Paleette Challenge. This one should have been for the February Challenge, but since I never met a deadline I couldn't miss, it did not get done in time.

The photo with the challenge color chips was of an iris, which got me thinking "Fleur De Lis". I wanted to go with the "tiled" look that I've been using for this series, but using larger tiles.

Then I added a queen, sitting on her throne, wearing a long gown. I think the gown may have shown up because of all the prom dress hemming I was doing!

The quilting on this one is only in the grout lines of the tiles. It pushes the image to the background a little, an effect which is further emphasized by the variegated thread fading in and out against the different blue shades of the tiles. It makes the viewer look more closely, to be sure of what they are seeing.

And now, back to quilting. Hopefully, I will have another piece finished on Thursday to show you. Until then, enjoy the sunshine, if you have it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beach Bunny

Amy's Creative Side

 For the Bloggers Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side, I wanted to show a small quilt that I recently created. This quilt started out as a way to take part in the April Color Palette Challenge over at Three Creative Studios.

I wanted to continue working with the tiled look that I used on this quilt. And, perhaps because I had recently been working on finishing up my Russian Icon Rabbit quilt (which has unfortunately become a UFO), this quilt ended up turning into another tribute to Ginny. If you haven't been reading this blog right along, Ginny was my sweet Satin Angora doe, who recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge. You can see her picture in my sidebar.

I'm sure she could have given Venus on her half shell some tough competition. Well, maybe not after a haircut, but when she had her full coat.....

The quilt is done with raw-edge fused applique, that was stitched down before adding some machine embroidery, and some thread sketching. Ginny and the lettuce leaf are quilted, but the only other quilting is in the "grout lines" of the tiles. The quilt is made from a mix of hand-dyed and commercial fabrics.

I hope you enjoy seeing my quilt as much as I enjoyed making it. It's one of my favorites.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday In The Garden

For me, this week in the garden is a little bit about the crabapple, which is quite loaded with blossoms.

But mostly, its about the lilacs. The shrub  is filling the air with perfume, and that always makes me think about my Grandmother, and the time we spent on her front porch, talking, playing, and breathing in the scent of her big, old lilac bush.

 Isn't it amazing how a scent can hit you so hard with memories?

For the pollinators in the garden, this week is mostly about the beach plums.

The shrubs are absolutely loaded with blossoms, and they are completely surrounded by frantically flying pollinators of all types.

I guess we'll be having a bumper crop of beach plums this year, so I'll probably be making jelly. Beach plum jelly isn't the easiest, it's acidity level keeps it right on the edge of not wanting to gel. There should be a lot of opportunity to get it right this time!

We are looking forward to the Senior Prom this weekend. I can't wait to see the kids all dressed up. I hope you have plans for a fun weekend, also.

Weasley On Wednesday, Late

Hi, everybun! Mom's being delinquent this week. She completely missed the Day of Weasley this week! I'm not happy with her.  She even made Dad give me my couch cuddling last night.  All because she has some dumb project that she wants to show you tomorrow.

At least she's still remembering to feed me. I'd have to thump her if she forgot that!

Have a great day everybun, see you soon! Not literally of course. That's what Mom calls a figure of speech. I guess I'd have to smell you. Do you smell like treats? I hope so.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

For Mother's Day, we went south to Worcester, Ma., to visit Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Although it rained later, the weather was perfect while we were there, and the gardens were gorgeous. First, we stepped out of the Visitor Center onto a little plaza, and saw Castor spitting water on his brother Pollux.

Pollux was returning the favor from across the pool.

Nearby was the Systematic Garden, a formal arrangement of plants by botanical classification. These were arranged by family, with information as to economic importance, medicinal use, etc. Some relationships are easy to see, but some were quite surprising. The information provided said they expect to be changing things around, as more DNA analysis of plants takes place.I think it may be jJust another way to confound gardeners trying to figure out what plant they have!

From there, we headed up a wooded trail to an overlook, with views of the nearby Wachusett Reservoir. Definitely worth the climb.

We then followed the trails around through the Inner Park area. This is former farmland that has been allowed to undergo reforestation. It is now being managed to make sure that what is growing up is a nice collection of native trees. The plants are discreetly labeled, and frequent small signs give more information about the plants and their management. Also sprinkled among all the winding side trails are a bunch of fun artifacts like this folly.

There are a number of large urns. I thought the decoration on this one was particularly beautiful.

We also came upon a Temple of Peace in a very quiet area of the woods.

Soon after that, the woods opened out onto a wildlife meadow and pond. Again, these are managed to encourage native plants and wildlife. Well, I guess the large field of daffodils at the top of the hill isn't native, but it is beautiful.

Probably because of the large number of people visiting that day (free admission for Mothers), we didn't see much wildlife here, except a very active flock of Red-winged Blackbird, and a bunch of chipmunks.  This one stared us down for quite awhile.

We went from the meadow area to a clearing set up with birdfeeders and a blind for watching the birds. This area was supervised by Pan. My daughter tried to conduct him as he played his pipes, but he didn't seem to be inteested in cooperating. 

This led in to the wildest area of the gardens. This is the only place where there were not frequent benches, and we seemed to be the only ones walking there. It wasn't worrisome till we got to the sign about bears and bobcats. We didn't see any of them, though.  Probably just as well.

We came out of the woods into one of the orchard areas of the garden. I think the sign said the apple tree collection stands at 119 different varieties, and is still growing.

This led us back to the Farmhouse area with vegetable gardens, and formal flower gardens. There is a soon-to-be Secret Garden (when the plants get big enough) that is absolutely stunning. Easy to see why brides like to have pictures in this area. On this busy Mother's Day, it was very crowded in these gardens, and I couldn't get photos without other peoples kids. I want to go back soon on a quieter day, with fresh camera batteries, a sketchbook, and maybe lunch (picnicing is allowed, but no pets, so Weasley won't be able to get at the veggie garden). I hope you enjoyed this visit to Tower Hill Botanic Garden.  If you happen to be in Central Massachusetts, check it out. It's even better in real life.