Monday, December 28, 2020

The Magic of the Season

I hope that you enjoyed a very Merry Christmas! Ours, like so many others, was much quieter, but we adapted and found ways to still make it a special time. 

With the holiday hustle and bustle behind us, and a week free of obligations ahead of us, I found myself casting about for something to do. Not surprisingly, I didn't seem to land on any of the many projects that are in play - sort of that feeling that you get when you finish a quilt and don't know what to do (though I didn't finish anything...). Then the other night I decided to play 'follow the leader' and see if I could put my hand to starting the Little Trees quilt like Jane's that I shared with you the last time. The templates have been cut for months and there was even a small pile of fabrics nearby, so I gave it a shot. It was just what I needed.

My first effort was fun but I goofed a bit with the tip of the tree so adjustments were made. I also decided to try a narrower tree trunk.

Here's how the two blocks compare; I will stay with the revised version on the right.

I pulled together a few inspiration pics of Anna Jantina's quilt and then dug around for more fabric...

...following Ana's lead and including a little blue in the mix.

A new hand stitching project is born. Luv!....M

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!

The standing joke in our family is that Santa Claus can arrive any time after the kitchen floor is scrubbed. Well, I managed to get the floors scrubbed last night so I guess the big guy's on his way 😉.

Jane has a much more enticing sign that it might be time - a new Christmas quilt! 

Just over a week ago she shared the good news - Little Trees was quilted and bound and ready to be enjoyed! It had been on the back of her sofa but that particular night the temps were to drop considerably so she wasted no time putting it on her bed for an extra layer of warmth.

And who wouldn't want to snuggle under this little charmer??? It's based on a pattern by Anna Jantina. She started it in June 2019 after her cottage had flooded for the second time in two years and needed a project that would cheer her up. This quilt was just the thing. Those tiny little trees were the perfect hand stitching project.

She put it all together while staying with her sister Linda in the early weeks of the pandemic (I had shared a progress pic with you back in April) and then added the borders and lace in October. 

Roberta quilted it with a gorgeous panto called Let it Snow. Absolutely perfect! And it shows up so beautifully on the mossy green flannelette backing. SO cozy!!!

To say that she is happy with it is an understatement - she just loves looking at it (and I do too!). You can buy acrylic templates for the trees but Jane just drafted her own after being inspired by seeing the finished quilt. Months ago I drafted my own pattern but that's as far as I got. I'm not nearly as productive as Jane.

I think that Santa will be very impressed!....M

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Party of One

There have been many, many things changed or cancelled this year because of the coronavirus but I have to say that the one that I felt quite deeply of late was not being able to gather for our annual Christmas Cookie Bakeoff. In the general scheme of things it doesn't really seem overly important, but it really left me feeling a little in the dumps. 

What to do? Why, dust off my apron and spend the weekend with Aaron Neville, of course! Years ago he came out with a wonderful Christmas album and it kept me company through a weekend of baking. (I will admit to having a few earworms after the fact, but they are good earworms 😀.)

Out came the supplies...

and a new attachment for my mixer. This pouring chute (on the right side of the bowl) just clips to the side of the bowl and helps direct ingredients, either wet or dry, into its centre. I just used it for adding my dry ingredients but I have to say I loved it - no frequent stops to lift the beater so that I could add stuff in, just one continuous flow.

When it comes to Christmas baking I don't stray far from my traditional list, in part so that I can make some headway. New recipes, if they are tried, end up added in towards the end of the process. There are about 7 tins to be prepped this year so I needed to make my time count and still ensure that I was having fun.

The White Chocolate Gingerbread are always a fave. They are a humble little cookie, not fancy at all, but they are yummy.

Then there were Fanciful Ribbons...

and Toblerone Shortbread (these are one of my faves though the Official Cookie Tester was seen circling the island looking for castoffs as well as he enjoys nothing more than a good shortbread with hot chocolate).

There was a special request for Linzer Hearts, so onto the list they went. It's been years since I have mixed up a batch of these as Jane usually brings the dough for these cookies to the Bakeoff. They are time-consuming but worth every minute.

I enjoyed another walk down memory lane when I pulled out mom's cookie press to make her Shortbreads. These are such a sentimental favourite and fully adopted by my favourite nephew. We grew up with these cookies and I only remember having them at Christmas - that single silver dragée was just magical to me, and still is. The press can be a bit tough on the wrist when pushing the dough through so I made certain to beat the butter until it was very soft and held back about a tablespoon of flour; worked like a charm. 

This plate is as close to quilty as I got. It is another sentimental favourite, a souvenir from a trip to British Columbia years ago to visit my good friend Sheila. I picked it up on an excursion to the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as Haida Gwaii, and used it to roll the balls of Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread dough in sugar before baking.

So, in two days I managed to burn through 11 pounds of flour and countless pounds of butter, but I have lots in my freezer to package up now. There's still a couple of batches to make, but it feels good to have this much done!....M