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Rain and Ice, But Warm and Sweet Inside

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Turkey Tracks: December 22, 2021

Rain and Ice, But Warm and Sweet Inside

The warm and sweet includes a beautiful beef stew, which I made Sunday.

I’ll tell how I make a tender beef stew in a little over an hour below this message.

Friend Rosie Pilkerton’s Christmas card came yesterday, and as is her sweet habit, included was one of her Christmas stocking ornaments. I have many from her over the years, but these four are handily available and I will keep them nearby for the holidays next year. (I went through the Christmas decorations last summer and isolated the special ornaments in boxes that are now in dry storage upstairs—and the rest of Rosie’s stockings are up there.)

My friend in town who sends me pictures of the wild life critters that come into her yard, which backs up to the Mt. Battie woods, sent this picture yesterday. (Remember the fox pics from yesterday?) This beautiful deer was eating her junipers. Deer have been a real problem for me this past year as well. And it is early for the deer to be eating shrubs like the junipers—which usually happens in the extreme cold and lots of snow that *used to* come in January and February.

AC and I ventured out in the light fluffy snow yesterday as we both needed exercise and fresh air. AC’s chasing of his ball in the snow turned out to be really fun for both of us. We both had to watch really carefully to see where the ball landed as it would go ”plop” into the snow. That action produced a mystery for AC that he delighted in solving until he found the ball.

While at the Snow Bowl athletic field we also saw a cherished neighbor and had a little visit.

And now, we have passed over the Solstice, and the light will begin to return, ever so slowly, but it will return.

***

Beef Stew

I use an Instant Pot to cook the beef and savory part of the stew.

I cook the small whole unpeeled potatoes and carrots separately, and I cut up the potatoes into bite-size pieces when they are cool enough to handle. How you cut up the carrots is up to you. You can cook both potatoes and carrots in the same big pot if you like. The carrots will get done before the potatoes, but you can just dip them out when done.

The cooked potatoes and carrots go into a bowl big enough to handle the whole stew, and when the beef part is done, I just pour it all over the veggies and mix them together. What ever green veggie I add is also cooked separately. BUT, as the warm dish sat in the bowl and after I had eaten one meal, I thought it would be good to add some frozen peas, which I did. And, yes, they were a nice addition. They more or less defrost in the warm stew, and if they need it, they cook more when one reheats one’s portion of stew for the next meal. I don’t reheat the whole stew when I want to eat some—just the portion I want for my meal. (I also froze about half of the stew for other meals.)

For this stew I sautéed 2 small onions, one celery stick, and 6 thin leeks (about 1 inch thick—so just under 2 cups?) in leftover lamb fat in the Instant Pot. (I don’t use veggie oils for this step as they—except for coconut oil—are too fragile and many are not healthy fats. Beef tallow would be a good choice too.) Add some herbs and salt. That first sauté does take a bit of prep time—maybe 20 minutes—I sauté and stir occasionally while I do other tasks until I start to see bits of brown in the sweated veggies. I remove those onto something like a plate, add a bit more fat (this time I used some ghee), and put in the cubes of beef that I had dried well in paper towels. Add more herbs, chopped garlic, and salt. As the beef sautés in the Instant Pot it will exude a fair amount of liquid. You want to cook down that liquid a little, which will begin to let the beef brown a little.

When the beef is ready, I add just under a quarter cup of thickener. I used sprouted brown rice flour as I can’t eat wheat. Mix it well with the meat. Add about 3 cups of water or stock and the savory veggies. I set the Instant Pot for 35 minutes and when it has stopped, I let it sit for 15 minutes before I release the steam.

The rest is easy—just pour the beef mixture over the veggies, mix them up, and serve up a bowl of your beautiful beef stew—knowing you have LEFTOVERS and some to freeze.

Enjoy!

Written by louisaenright

December 22, 2021 at 10:35 am

Betsy Maislen’s Fun Pillows

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Turkey Tracks: December 17, 2021

Betsy Maislen’s Fun Pillows

Betsy spent a chunk of last winter having fun making some foundation pieced patterns that she liked.

But, what to do with them?

How about 20-inch gift pillows for loved ones? How about keeping some too?

This quail was the first pillow, which sent her on to the next pillows. The hand-stitching quilting was her first effort with this skill, and she liked what happened.

The woodpecker came next:

Then the hot peppers:

And on to the peach:

She is keeping this New York Beauty block pillow, and I’m wondering if we’ll see more of these blocks down Betsy’s quilting road.

This chicken is staying with Betsy as well. And I look forward to seeing the pillow she makes. Isn’t the feather fabric terrific?

Question? Is Betsy done, or will she go back to this well?

Written by louisaenright

December 17, 2021 at 9:56 am

This Bag Project Caught My Eye

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Turkey Tracks: May 8, 2021

This Bag Project Caught My Eye

Aurifil’s blog, Auribuzz.com, posts a “Five For Friday” posting each week. This week this post features bags.

Wendy Chow’s (A Weekend Quilter) little gift/treat bag caught my eye—and her complete tutorial for it is on the blog post.

https://www.lovecrafts.com/en-gb/c/article/quilted-treat-bags

And here is the whole Auribuzz post if you want to see the other featured bags.

https://auribuzz.com/2021/05/07/five-for-friday-bag-tutorials/

Written by louisaenright

May 8, 2021 at 7:47 am

Zipper Pouch From A Mini Quilt

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Turkey Tracks: May 7, 2021

Zipper Pouch From A Mini Quilt

How did it get to be Friday already?

It’s another beautiful day, so I’ll spend at least one hour weeding. Of course, when I get outside in the garden, I usually stay longer. It’s always, “just finish this bed,” or something like that. But the birds are singing, AC is delighted we are “working” at something, and the fresh air is so delightful.

Here’s a fun project—which comes via A Quilter’s Table blog.

https://mailchi.mp/aquilterstable/issue-101-more-from-a-quilters-table

Written by louisaenright

May 7, 2021 at 8:09 am

Hand Embroidery Information

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Interesting Information: April 7, 2021

Hand Embroidery Information

At some point in my sewing life, I found embroidery.

But what I found, or did, bears no resemblance to what people are doing now.

How fun is this Aurifil post! So enjoy the eye candy here.

And below find a link to a project Debbie of A Quilter’s Table blog is doing—varied projects designed by Rebecca Ringquist, among them alphabet “dropcloths.”

https://auribuzz.com/2021/04/02/five-for-friday-hand-embroidery/

https://aquilterstable.blogspot.com/

Rebecca Ringquist

And then there is Wild Boho:

https://wildboho.com/

Written by louisaenright

April 7, 2021 at 9:48 am

Cross Stitching: Another Fun Aurifil Blog Post

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Interesting Information: April 4, 2021

Cross Stitching: Another Fun Aurifil Blog Post

Way, way back in the day, when some of my cousins gathered at my Reynolds, Georgia, grandparents‘ home for summer visits, the girl cousins started cross-stitch projects from kits available locally in this small rural town.

Later, as a young married, and occupied with two small children, I returned to making some cross-stitch projects at night. These projects pre-dated getting a sewing machine and beginning to sew garments and, for one Christmas, what were probably my very first quilts. These “bedspreads” were just big squares that were layered and tied. I don’t even remember what I layered them with—but they were really heavy and warm and around and about both Falls Church, Virginia, houses we had for many years.

Cross Stitching, like the quilting I eventually discovered, has “taken off” in terms of complexity. And who knew that Aurifil makes a kind of twisted “floss” that is so pretty—much like the size 8 perle cotton I like.

So, if like me you were not aware of where cross stitching has gone, enjoy the eye candy on this recent Aurifil blog—which contains an interview with “Susan” that features both cross-stitching and some quilts.

There is also a link below the interview to information on the above-mentioned Aurifil “floss” threads—which are just pretty to see.

https://auribuzz.com/2021/04/02/little-quaker-abc/

Written by louisaenright

April 4, 2021 at 8:43 am

Turkey Tracks: End of May 2020 Update

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Turkey Tracks: May 27, 2020

End of May 2020 Update

It was a “masky” weekend. SIL in Boston needed some mask help. Like me, she wears hearing aids, and the simple elastic used in masks that loop over the ears do not work well with hearing aids—in that they can dislodge them so that you LOSE them. If you have no idea what hearing aids cost, you are in for a rude shock if you ever need them.

I have been at kind of a loss with what to do with knit scraps—often big pieces—left over from garment making. FLASHLIGHT! Try some in masks. I had already been told that just cutting knit for ties, stretching it so it rolls up, and using it for ties is THE BEST. They stay on your head without slipping for one thing. And they don’t need any pressing, turning, and sewing down to hide raw edges, etc. YES!

The green mask below has a pipe cleaner in the top to cup the nose—which is why it is kind of curved. I found the metal wasn’t really needed. I use an inner layer of quilt batting—not much gets through two knit layers and cotton quilt batting. Of course, the edges leak… But these guys are sturdy as can be. I made one for me, too, with knit ties, and mailed off 8 masks to SIL and her three housemates.

WASH YOUR MASK AFTER EVERY USE! Otherwise the mask harbors a lot of bacteria from YOU and you breathe it deeply into your lungs. Bad idea, especially with these knit masks which are really thick.

Looky! This quilting is really handsome. I’m pleased. I’ve never tried matchstick quilting before—I have to use the domestic of course. But this is HANDSOME!

I have two quilts to quilt on the domestic piled up—and one for the longarm. I moved my stored machine—which has its own SewEzi table—to an area behind the couch so the couch catches the quilt as it moves forward. And I can see the tv.

This machine can live now in a spot vacated by a rehomed bookcase. In the pic below the table is pulled forward so the quilt can go over the couch for support as I quilt. Otherwise, the machine table just tucks back into the bookcase space and does not impede traffic. A pretty bookcase or a nice sewing spot already set up—it’s a no-brainer for me these days. This is “Gumdrops” from Tara Faughnan in the online class, The Color Collective, season 2. Mine will be a wall hanging.

There will be a THIRD season of The Color Collective, hosted by Sewtopia. Go to Tara Faughnan’s web site and sign up for her newsletter for information on this third season. While you are there, take a look at her AWESOME quilts in her gallery.

I have been super busy these past days. I culled the books again. This time I put any book that has not been touched by SOMEONE in the past 16 years in 11 banana boxes and 2 orange boxes—they have lids and are easy to get hold of. (Thank you Hannaford’s, our local grocery store.) I slid the boxes down the stairs—many from the third floor—and used the dolly I bought last year to get the boxes to the van.

Whew!

My kids will thank me someday for this job. There are two bookcases remaining, but all others have been leaned out and other objects put on empty shelves.

Oh Lord!

I more or less escaped this critter last summer. It’s the brown tailed caterpillar, and it is DEVASTATING trees, bushes, ground plants, and so forth here in Maine. I have them on my front porch right and probably elsewhere.

See all those bristles? They are wildly toxic and can cause rashes and blisters and itching like poison ivy. The bristles come loose easily and float about in the air, lodge in the ground, get breathed into our lungs, and so forth. They have a little barb on one end. They can remain toxic for about THREE YEARS. No one is hanging laundry on the line up here these days. And I took down the hammock frame yesterday with the help of a friend.

On a happier note. This fellow guards the front porch. John bought him at the Common Ground Fair the summer before he died the following January.

Of course I have a lot more sewing going on and a lot going on in the garden. But those are posts for another day.

Written by louisaenright

May 28, 2020 at 9:26 am

Turkey Tracks: Kelly Launtenbach’s “Not Your Basic Blue Bag”

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Turkey Tracks:  January 16, 2020

Kelly Lautenbach’s “Not Your Basic Blue Bag”

I saw modern quilter Kelly Lautenbach’s BIG bag in the recent Simply Modern (#19) magazine’s article on her work.

I fell in love!

There are three sizes, and the BIG, original one is HUGE—big enough to hold 3 or 4 full-size quilts or, even, two of the small bag version.  There are leather straps (2 sets if you like and I did for a bag this big that could be really heavy) attached with 1/4 inch Chicago Screws.  I bought a hand-held leather hole punch set from Amazon for roughly $20 (Pro-Master Leather Hole Punch Set) which I really like.  As suggested in the article, I got the leather straps from Springfield Leather and the 1/4-inch Chicago screws from Tandy’s Leather.

NOTE:  the pattern cover page has a math error in that the finished width of this big bag is 32+ inches, depending on the width you use of Annie’s Soft and Stable.  I used the standard kit size of Annie’s 36 wide and was careful when quilting not to go below the 36 inches.  The pattern suggests 38 wide Annie’s S&S as the fabric layers will shrink with quilting, but you do trim to 36 by 42.  I did not want to buy 2 yards of Annie’s to get these extra 2 inches as the bag is plenty wide.

I would also use the spray baste product the pattern suggests if I ever make this bag again.  The bag is made from one BIG piece, which means there is lots of room for layers to shift easily when you quilt.  I just ran lines down the width and called it a day.  Use a walking foot for sure!!!

And note that the bag, when full, makes a big rectangle.  Also, sometimes the pattern is referred to as “Not Your Basic Blue Ikea Bag.”

The really cool thing about the Chicago screws is that they can be removed if you want to wash the bag.  I did use the screw lock (blue or purple) liquid on my screws to insure that they don’t jiggle loose down the road—which happened to the tiny, tiny screws on the Turn Lock on the Noodlehead Explorer Bag I made last fall.  I can get them open again; it just takes a bit more beginning muscle and a pair of pliers to hold the back of the screw in place while you turn the front.

I ordered 1 1/2-inch leather straps for this big bag.  I think they work well at that width.  Right now, this bag holds three full-size quilts and there is room for a 4th smaller quilt.  For a smaller bag, I’d drop back to the 1 inch leather strips.

The pattern suggests cutting some backing pieces to stabalize the screw holes on the inside of the bag.  I agree that’s a good idea, and it looks so nice.

I worried about the 1/4-inch screw working with FOUR layers (3 leather and the bag), but they did.

I love the way Kelly bound the inside seams—to avoid having to lay in the lining separately and turn the bag, etc.  Next time I will sew the binding on the right side in the ditch—so the seam line does not show on this side.  The pattern calls for that, but I was squeamish about catching the back, folded piece for sure.  I’m not good at that.  No one would care about seeing this seam line really.  It just looks like more quilting lines.

I loved the Chicago screws so much I took apart the handle I hand-sewed on my Noodlehead Market Basket and used these screws.  Steel-colored ones might have been classier, so I’m ordering both brass and steel screws next.  It takes 8 screws per bag.

And, again, I put reinforment leather on the inside.

Oh boy!  I am feeling the urge to make the smaller bag—maybe for a gift…

Ok, maybe for ME.

The pattern is available on Etsy.  Note that I blacked out the 22-inch figure for the original bag, which is wrong. It is more like 32 or more—depending on the width size of your Annie’s Soft and Stable.  And I added in black text the correct size on the image.  The other long sizes on the pattern are a big off as well.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/728254928/not-your-basic-blue-bag-pattern-by-kelly

 

Turkey Tracks: Making Komebukuro Bags Is Fun and Addictive

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Turkey Tracks:  June 3, 2019

Making Komebukoro Bags is Fun and Addictive

These “rice bowl bags/pouches” by kzstevens are so much fun!

I’ve published other versions in earlier posts here.

Kzstevens’ pattern is on her Etsy store.  Just google her name on the Etsy web site and scroll for the “Modern Japanese Rice Pouch” pattern that sells for $6.

Here’s her description of the bag’s uses:

Komebukuro. A traditional pouch used in Japan to carry rice offerings to the temple during religious ceremonies or to hold gifts destined for a close friend or relative.  Komebukuro bags were hard sewn in a patchwork style and individually designed with a mix of whatever fabrics were on hand and closed with a cotton drawstring cord. It is reversible.

Here’s are first two bags, and my first is on the right:

Each side is a bit different as I did piece the top.  First, one constructs an improv top piece that is a large rectangle.  Then one can “decorate” that rectangle with decorative sewing, adding little patches, and so forth.  Then one joins the rectangle to the square bottom.  The lining is constructed in the same manner.  I ordered the leather ties from Amazon.

I used Essex linen (pepper color) in the bag and for the top tie slips and for the bottoms.

 

Here’s my lining, and note that the bag is completely reversible if desired.

Here’s the second bag, where I added the blue daisy square for decoration:

I’ve already ordered more leather ties, but will also look the next time I go to a quilt store for cotton twill kind of ties.  I don’t see why a long shoe lace wouldn’t work either.  And, what about some decorative beads on some bags???

 

Written by louisaenright

June 3, 2019 at 9:05 am

Turkey Tracks: The LAST Pillow

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Turkey Tracks:  May 29, 2019

The LAST Pillow

Maybe…

Here’s my trial block for the 5th Color Collective block by Tara Faughnan.

I LOVE this block, which one draws on freezer paper and then uses that method to sew the block.  It is different than foundation piecing, and I really like the method.  BUT, I am still grappling with getting the points to stop at the right place.  I am on my third drawn template now, but am understanding how to get the result I want.

I also discovered that I like the bright colors against a dark background, unlike the Lone Star version with the light grey background.

I used green in this last pillow so it would blend with the other pillows I’ve made.

Here is Tara’s quilt made from this block, though she also sent us other versions one might consider:

WOW!  Look at these wonderful blocks!  Each one represents a new method to learn.

The Color Collective (Amy Nebold/Sewtopia) will continue in the fall.  I will definitely sign up again.

And now there are 10 pillows, scattered around the house.  You have seen pics and posts about these pillows already.  All have been made with Anna Graham’s method with an invisible zipper closing and with lined and quilted fronts and backs—from Anna’s book HANDMADE STYLE.  Her shop is “Noodlehead.”

There is one more block in Season 1 of THE COLOR COLLECTIVE though…

I’m playing with it now…