Friday, December 27, 2013

Boston, MA

Cold here today never out of the 30's, the sky was bleak though the sun did try to peek through. I snapped this pic as we walked in the early afternoon to show the chilly look of the weather .
Look what we spotted as we were walking with Button………..
on the far side of the picture………...
yep, it's a wild turkey wandering in the neighborhood of a busy street, one that escaped the Thanksgiving sacrifice! Button was anxious to cross the street and take out the bird, and of course we could not allow that!
We gave the dog a nice brisk 30 minutes of fresh air, very fresh air!  Here the kids and Button are sitting on the wall in front of the nearby 18th. century graveyard.Their family's 1820's home is one of several that a gentleman built in close proximity and in the same time frame for his family.
 This evening we drove into Foxboro to Patriot's Place, so we could shop at Trader Joe's, and here we are freezing in front of Gillette Stadium the home of the Patriot's where there will be a big game Sunday night. We understand that on game day people park alongside the road for miles along Route #1, tailgating and cooking and "celebrating" while they wait to get into the stadium for the game to begin. The weather is often bitterly cold as it was  this evening, and after walking around way too long we went into Tavalino's Pizza for a yummy dinner and something to warm us up!
Obviously I won't be at the game!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Lights

We took The Boy to see the Christmas lights, driving around some homes I had spotted and a few that were listed online as worth seeing.
As last year, The Boy loved the lights, "more pretty lights Grandnanna?"
especially those with moving parts!

Some required deep thought……….
I always wonder what is going through that very busy, complex and clever  mind!

I heard a few "don't touch you might break it" warnings from him! 
There was so much labor and expense required for construction of many of these displays, a generous offering to the rest of us who decorate very simply 
He loved his moving gifts, these penguins have fascinated him for weeks in the toy store at the mall.
 The talking airplane book was a hit, he took that to the sushi bar when they went to eat!
  Another toy that absorbed him at the mall………...
 There is a lot more to the tracks, they can go back & forth, make a figure eight etc
 Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. 
Wise men still seek Him…………….

Sunday, December 22, 2013

He's Home!

After 5 months our Sailor Grandson is home for the holidays looking terrific!
I think the Navy agrees with him, don't you?
We are overjoyed to see him!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Baking

Yesterday the house was filled with the evocative fragrance of sweet things a-baking, so we went to bed with visions of not sugar plums, but shortbread in our heads! Even later today I came home after running errands and it's still here so I thought I would blog about it.
Having a large bunch of bananas going by [no Matthew here this week, he is a banana boy!] I made little banana breads with dried cranberries and almonds, seven in all.
 My signature red and white biscotti, white choc. bits in the red dough and dried cranberries in the white dough, before baking below.
After baking, sliced for re-baking, that's why they are called bi-scotti, meaning twice baked to get that crisp crunchy texture that doesn't disintegrate when dipped in hot liquid. I remember reading somewhere that in Italy biscotti are also served with a glass of wine late afternoon as a pick me up for the evening. Sound like an idea? DH likes them with coffee for breakfast - breakfast of champions anyone?!
 Then two trays of the treats covered in melted white chocolate.
Yum yum, so good dipped in a cup of hot chocolate!

Here are some bagged ready for the gift sacks.

Next up a new recipe I "stumbled" across online that rang all of my gustatory bells, Salted Caramel Shortbreads with dark chocolate topping, oh my!
Starting with home made caramel this recipe called for condensed milk, sugar, unsalted butter. Perhaps I did not have the heat up high enough but it took simply ages to get to caramel stage, for this texture that is 234-244 degrees F. I did not want to risk over cooking and burning the mixture so it cooked  while I prepared and cooled the shortbread. However you must keep a close eye on the caramel, especially at first stirring pretty constantly so that it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan..
 Finally it reached the point of perfection and I poured it over the cooled shortbread, looking good already!
 Then a combination of semi sweet and bittersweet dark chocolate melted with more unsalted butter, what's not to like here?! To top it off a light sprinkle of coarse sea salt, holy cow, my taste buds are blissful! If you like the recipe I will place it at the end of the post
 It is very rich so I have cut it in bite sized pieces, when I gave DH a taste of course he wanted more!
Today was the final pick up for 35th. avenue BOM so I saw some of the gang there and see what Angela and Kathy gave me- Angela knows how I have struggled over hexies, finally deciding they are not for me so I am not sure if she took pity on me or is bugging me to try again! 

This book features Bonnie Hunter  in collaboration with Mickey Depre, Mickey's hexies and Bonnies' scrap piecing. A large group of us are signed up for a trunk show and lecture and two full day workshops with Bonnie in February, so this is even more appropo!
And look, it is  even autographed, when she bought her own book Angela asked for one for her longarmer, thank you so much what a wonderful gift!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate topping
8 oz chocolate, finely chopped (I used a combination of SS and  bittersweet) 
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
coarse sea salt to sprinkle over the top of chocolate layer

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Stir together with a fork flour, baking powder and salt .  Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, a couple of minutes.  Add dry ingredients and beat on low just until combined then press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake15-18 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir occasionally until the butter is melted then increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns a golden caramel if you have a candy thermometer I cooked mine to 234-244 degrees F. This may take quite a while, so be patient. Pour mixture over the cooled shortbread and spread evenly. I chill this until I am ready to add the chocolate.

Chocolate Topping
Place the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water-do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel and spread into an even layer. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the top with the sea salt. Chill again before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Celtic Solstice, Clue #3

This was a very easy clue to complete,  2" HST's. Bonnie likes to use the Easy Angle ruler to cut hundreds of individual triangles while I prefer the two at a time method. I lay the two required fabrics right sides together, rotary cut two and three eight inch strips then cut two and three eighth inch squares. After marking a diagonal line on each set of squares I sew a scant 1/4" on each side of the center line, slice them apart on the marked line and lo and behold two perfect 2" HST's every time. If you press your strips together the pairs stay lined up and make sewing simple.
                                    For the smaller size quilt, 100 HST's were required.
and the remainder to be made into 25 pinwheels. 
I suspect I may get behind for the remainder of the mystery after this week; as the clues are released we will be in Boston for three weeks after Christmas and I am not sure how much sewing will be done, though I do plan to make the New Year's Eve mystery.
This past week has been a rough time for two very dear friends who each lost a beloved spouse. There is never a good time but at Christmas it's even more difficult when the rest of the world goes on with the joy of the Season and their worlds have stopped under the burden of a fresh and terrible loss.
I was honored yesterday to speak and offer prayer at one of the memorials, and although the grief was palpable there was joy in the celebration of the life and legacy of a wonderful man who now spends Eternity with the Lord.
We must treasure every moment, never knowing which will be our last breath.
God bless us every one.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Celtic Solstice, Clue #2 Done!

The chevrons are sewn and pressed but not yet trimmed!
Clue #2 was released Friday and I have printed it and pulled the fabrics.
The Christmas tree wall hanging got it's lights on the tree, and I found a place to hang it over a window! I think it still needs more bling so perhaps I will buy some tomorrow. As indicated by others, the lights are a bit of a pain, but hanging the quilt over a window allows the lights to sit better than if it were flat up against a wall.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Year's Eve Mystery Quilt 2013

Yes I know, I am a little ahead of myself here, but the instructions are out at QT Mystery Quilts for fabrics and for cutting for each clue. We will be in Boston over the holidays so I am taking my fabrics with me and borrowing a machine to sew on New Year's Eve!
We need four fabrics as below and I want to use only stash:
Fabric#1- bright
Fabric #2- light medium
Fabric#3- medium
Fabric#4- medium dark- dark
I have pulled these fabrics from stash and picked two bright possibilities, and two light mediums.  This is the first bright candidate.
From left to right, bright, light medium, medium and dark. I think the light medium reads more  as a light but am not sure this is too important. The dark is in real time much darker, it shows up brighter in the pic.
The other light medium is a rather close to the medium, though in reality it isn't quite this close.
Second bright candidate, I think I like it better, but funny thing is, it's the same bright I used in last year's NYE Mystery! Time to use up the rest?
This is the combo I am leaning towards, good contrast and enough of each fabric in my stash to fulfill the needs for this design.
So, tell me what you think!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Tree Quilt

I am linking up with Needlework Tuesday.
This is quilted and bound, ready for the "bling"! It has 20 LED lights to go behind the quilt and poke through holes you make with eyelets or buttonholes, but I think I might wait on the lights until I have more time to see how they can best be attached. I have read on my professional quilters group that those who have tried to put the lights on have had a frustrating time of it, they won't lay properly when pushed through the holes.
I have the hot touch tool to put on some nice bling and may make that do for this year.
The predominant thread is Superior Silver Metallic, it sews like a dream no breaking or fraying. The background behind the tree is Superior SO Fine in a dark blue that will allow the tree and stars to stand out more once they have their bling!
There are two batting layers, the base is Dream Green for stability topped off with the yummy Dream Wool to give definition.
On the tree itself I used Superior Glitter thread, just a meander and loops to mimic lights strung on the tree, it also sews perfectly not at all fragile. Neither of these threads require much machine adjustment, just loosen the tension a little Superior really does make the premier threads for machine quilting.
The stars are quilted with simple Linedancing in the silver thread.
The sashing has a ribbon design.
Tomorrow the bling!