30 September, 2014

Best Ever Apple Pie

I baked an apple pie on Saturday, the first of the fall season. I've had this recipe for at least 20 years and it never fails to live up to its name. I forgot to drizzle the glaze on top of the streusel after this pie cooled; maybe my forgetfulness was due to the fact that just after I popped this pie into the oven I knocked over a just opened five pound bag of flour! Yes, it's true... I got a little busy after that cleaning up from the impromptu "blizzard"!  Anyway, back to the pie... it tasted wonderful even without the drizzle (although I do recommend that!) topping. I have always made my pastry crust according to the recipe; my daughter buys her pie crusts in the dairy case and claims that she can't tell the difference, so that's an option too. If you want to indulge your senses in a true fall experience, here you go (if you're not feeling all that ambitious you can skip the flour dumping, the pie will be just as good without the added activity):

Best Ever Apple Pie
Pastry:
2 C. + 2 TBSP flour
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C shortening
3 TBSP + 1 tsp water

Pie filling:
6 Granny Smith apples
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Streusel topping:
1 C flour
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C butter (NOT margarine)

Glaze:
1 TBSP XXXX sugar
1 tsp water

For pastry: mix together 2 C flour, sugar and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Gently stir in 3 TBSP water.  Form into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap and refrigerate larger ball.  Roll out smaller ball into an 11" circle on floured waxed paper. Invert into pie plate, remove paper, and refrigerate while preparing filling and streusel topping.

Prepare streusel topping: mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Cut in butter, rub between fingers to blend well.  Set aside.

Peel, core and chop apples. In large bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining 2 TBSP of flour with apples and mix well.  Transfer to pie plate lined with w/ pastry, slightly mound apples in center.

Heat oven to 375F.  Place foil over lower oven rack.  Roll remaining pastry ball into a 12" circle on floured waxed paper and invert onto apples, seal and trim edges of crust.  Make slits in the top for steam, approximately 8 - 1" slits.  Brush pastry with w/ milk and pat crumb topping onto top of pastry. Bake for 30 minutes; reduce heat to 350F, loosely cover pie w/ foil and make for an additional 40 minutes.

Cool on rack for at least 40 minutes. Combine XXXX sugar w/ 1 tsp. water and drizzle over baked, cooled, pie.

Life is Good!
...and oh, so delicious...


28 September, 2014

A Great Tip!

I've shared here before what I consider to be the magic method of glue basting for attaching binding before stitching it down. This method is near genius to get a smooth, straight binding without any pins to navigate while stitching your quilt's binding into position. Just when I thought things couldn't get any better I received this replacement glue bottle tip; this is a MUST HAVE if you're already using this method. If you're not... what are you waiting for? The tip can be found here, actually there are two to a pack; one to keep and one to share with a quilting friend, they'll thank you over and over (or keep them both and you'll always be prepared). The pre-pierced tip delivers a fine, precise bead of glue exactly where you want it... every time. Simply remove it, wash it under warm water and it will be clean and ready to use again next time.  There you go...  a GREAT TIP. You're welcome.
Life is Good!

24 September, 2014

Added Dimension...

"It's The Journey"


Over the past week or so I've been adding dimension, in the form of quilted texture, to "It's The Journey".  You will remember this quilt as a long-running border challenge project, I posted about it here back in July.  Just as in the original challenge, I have been flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to quilting this one, coming up with each element as I go along. I have enjoyed every, single, step of this journey toward completion; the quilting is no exception to that!  Some continuous curves seem to play nicely off the squares-in squares and, of course, there are feathers (my new favorite thing to quilt!) in the more open border areas.
Some feather-like shapes and curly-cues fill in the flying geese areas nicely.
I've added more feathers in the central portion of this quilt in the Winding Ways blocks, and plan to mimic the identical border treatments as I progress outward to the opposite borders. Snowbird and I have become a good team, breathing life into this quilt as we go along, by adding some exciting dimension to an otherwise flat surface... it's all good.
Life is Good!

20 September, 2014

Every Picture Tells A Story



This photograph came to me via Facebook.  My husband's cousin's daughter came across it among her grandmother's belongings and she wondered if my mother-in-law (her grandmother's sister) could identify this church sanctuary, decorated for Christmas. I printed it out and took it to my mother-in-law earlier this week. When she looked at it there was an immediate spark of recognition; "where did you get this?" she asked. I explained to her how I came to have this image and asked her if she knew where it was taken, she immediately answered: "it's Grace Lutheran Church in Fort Worth (TX)!"  My dear mother-in-law will be 92 years old in a few weeks. She is the younger daughter (her sister passed away in 2000) of a Lutheran pastor who served congregations in Swedesburg and Essex (IA), Wahoo (NE), Fort Worth (TX), and Altona (IL) Mom's happiest memories surface when she relates stories of growing up living in church parsonages and the advenures that she and her sister had. She was sixteen years old when her family came to live in Fort Worth. In this church she played the piano as a teenager. It was here that she met my future father-in-law. They married here in 1944 (he was on leave from the AAF during WWII). In this church sanctuary their first son was baptized.  I could tell by her wistful gaze that she was reliving all of those moments, she couldn't take her eyes from the photograph.  But then, doubt crept in; perhaps she was scared to trust her immediate response due to her age and her faltering memory, I'm not sure. She looked up and said "I think it's Fort Worth... but I'm not completely sure that I remember."  We needed confirmation. I sent the photo in an e-mail to the current pastor serving this congregation; I explained that Mom was a member and that her father had been the pastor. I learned from their website that the original building pictured here is long gone, the church moved to a new bulding in a new location in 1957, but I was hopeful that someone may recognize this historical photo. My query was met with almost immediate success!  The pastor promptly responded with this message: "this  is a wonderful photo of the sanctuary at Grace in it's original Hemphill St. location.  I have seen this photo or one like it in an album that had been put together for the congregations 100th anniversary.  The large painting behind the altar is still displayed in the Narthex of the church at our current 7900 McCart Ave. location, along with the cornerstone engraving from the original building.  Rev. Johnson's portrait photo is displayed in our hallway among the other pastors who have served Grace over the years noting that he served from 1938-1946, see photos below.    We currently have a 3 members who are over 90 still attending regularly.  I'll ask if they were at Grace at the time and remember pastor Johnson, the one who I am certain was here at that time,  passed away last year, Isabelle Becker.  Her family members still attend."
     
Mom's instinct was right; her memory had not let her down!  I could scarcely wait to get this information and these additional photos to her; she hasn't been feeling well lately and I had a hunch that this would be good medicine. I am grateful beyond measure to the pastor for his prompt reply and his  kindness in providing so much more than I had requested.  Mom was so happy to receive this yesterday... to see her precious Daddy's face once again and to be affirmed in her own recollection of a location that was once so familiar to her. She remembered the recently departed lady mentioned in the e-mail, and even told me all about her and her family!  These memories, more than anything else, bring the greatest joy.  Yes, every picture does tell a story, for someone; something this simple can provide a very bright spot in the life of a loved one.... what unexpected surprises might just be lurking in your own closets, drawers and shoe boxes? 
Life is Good!

18 September, 2014

Fully Feathered

This flock is fully feathered and ready for binding~
Life is Good!

17 September, 2014

Curves!

"Adding Curves" ~  to finish up at 74" square.

I've begun the border sections on his quilt and find the piecing process of slowly stitching around the gentle curves oddly relaxing! I've already admitted in my previous post that I love to challenge myself; that's the truth. The alternate Orange Peel setting blocks weren't too bad, as long as I took my time and was careful to watch out for any slack that might result in any volunteer pleats in fabric! But, in all honesty, I was dreading these double-petaled border sections that I had designed for myself, especially adding the "V" section to the unit. Much to my delight, I found that it wasn't too difficult after all! One thing that I have learned, though, (after doing the first two) is to overcut the outer edge of that "V" (in width) so that it can then be cleanly trimmed up at 1/4" beyond the petal points. The templates I've created are exact and, even though I paid close attention to cutting those outer edges on the straight grain so that there would be no "pull" lengthwise, there is still a bit of stress to that edge pulling up from the center as this piece is set in against the curves on either side. I have remedied that occurrence by cutting these pieces a wee bit more generously (in width only, and marking on the back side where the 1/4" would fall) along that edge to allow for clean up when the block unit is complete.  

I still haven't settled on the final placement of the pieced blocks, there has been much shuffling. I can use some help here if anyone would like to weigh in and suggest a possible block shift or rotation; I believe I'm at the point where I have gone block-blind on this one!

Life is Good!

15 September, 2014

Hop Around The World...

Last week Quiltdivajulie posted during the "Around The World Blog Hop Tour" and invited me to follow her lead. I was thrilled to be asked! I always enjoy learning more about the people behind the blogs, who they are and what creative process they use that makes them, and their quilts, distinctive and unique.  

I blog under the name Mrs. Goodneedle and have done so for the last eight years; I share quilts and other sewing projects as well as my life, family and faith stories on an almost-daily basis.

I have been a quiltmaker since 1983, my first project was a sampler quilt done by the lap-quilting method (made popular by Georgia Bonesteel) it was hand quilted and took two years to complete! I gave that quilt to my then 5 year old son who proclaimed that sleeping under it was "like being covered with love". That was all the encouragement I needed and have never looked back! Quiltmaking is my life; I love every aspect of the process.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, have been for 39+ years; we have two children, an awesome son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and four remarkable grandchildren. Life is good, as I state at the end of every blog post; it really, truly, is!

Now, on to the Q&A format:
"Adding Curves" ~ Setting and blocks-of-the-month currently on the design wall.

What am I currently working on?  I am not any different from most quilters that I know, I'm never only working on one thing at a time! But, the blocks above (and layout diagram) are currently what's on the design wall. I am also working on a few other projects simultaneously as well as quilting yet another small quilt on the longarm at the present time. I enjoy challenges, and the piecing on this one is no exception to that statement. Since the blocks from these recent workshops are totally composed from squares and rectangles I thought that adding curves (hence, the quilt's name) might prove interesting to the overall appearance of the quilt. While designing settings I am also thinking ahead the whole time to how this might be quilted, adding yet another dimension to the whole. I believe the secondary circles that are created by this setting will provide a nice canvas for some pretty quilting to set off those emerging shapes. 
Templates and tools for cutting the alternate Orange Peel blocks for setting "Adding Curves".
I'm not afraid of templates when it comes to piecing; since I've been a quilter for a very long time, this was the foundation that my quilting skills were built upon. I use every tool in the toolbox and sometimes going back to basics is exactly what it takes!
"Adding Angles"  ~ This is the sister quilt to "Adding Curves"; same blocks, different colors and setting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I'm not really sure that it does. I am greatly inspired, and no doubt influenced, by the works of others.  I tend toward details; those little "extras" that add a pop of color or an unexpected touch, to make my work my own.  I will add piping to almost any binding at the drop of a hat! I always joke that I can turn any project into a career move. Since I've already admitted that my first quilt took two years to complete, it's safe to say that I am not a fast quilter by any stretch to the imagination. I work slowly, and listen to my heart; I make quilts to satisfy my own creative desires.
"Swiss Baskets" begun in 1999 and only recently completed. The design, quilting and piping make it one of a kind. The finished quilt can be viewed here.  

Why do I create what I do?  I believe that each and every quilt is a culmination of where I am, and what I've learned, at this point in time.  Could I have completed the quilt above sooner? Of course! Would it look like it does now? Absolutely not! Why not? Because I didn't have the skills in 1999 to see this one through in the manner it is finished today. Does that matter? Probably not; but who's to say?  I love to learn new things.  I have a huge queue of quilt tops waiting to be quilted... as I test my wings and learn techniques to improve my own quilting stitches I am happy to have those tops to practice upon. I create quilts to experiment and try out the latest tricks from the classes that I've taken, or from the books that I've read. If the quilts aren't used or displayed in our home they're given away as gifts, every quilt has a home. 
"Feathered Friends" this small quilt is benefitting from quilted feather techniques learned in a class that I took  this past summer.
Six inch blocks from "The Quilt Block Bible", writing up cutting directions for these is a current obsession.
Recently I was drawn to the 202 blocks, and this book, by Rosemary Youngs.  The book is a lovely composition of photographs and line drawings, there are no instructions for cutting and piecing the blocks. I have enlisted my best friend, and quilting buddy, to help me out. We have divided the book in half and are each writing directions, and piecing blocks, as we go along. I am drawing from a stash of accumulated scraps and going for a very traditional scrappy look; this is also a perfect opportunity to employ all of those specialty rulers that I have purchased over the years, precision piecing is my goal and I won't settle for less than perfect points and corners, this self-imposed challenge is both demanding and satisfying at the same time. 

How does my creative process work?  I jot down ideas as they come to me, sometimes it's a phrase or a quote; sometimes it's a color combination or even a happy memory that bubbles to the surface... I make a lot of notes when I am creating. My go-to design tool is EQ7. I can audition my ideas using that software program and, usually, come up with a neat and tidy design plan that reflects my concept, interpreting my ideas into stitchable units.
"It's The Journey"  a challenge incorporating randomly drawn color and design elements to create a unique quilt.

This 49" X 61" wallhanging was designed entirely in EQ7.  As the design elements were revealed in an organized group challenge, components were changed and tweaked, meeting the new criteria at every step along the way. The path was never a clear one; the quote became as much a definition of the process as the challenge itself. It wasn't until the final border was added that I realized it never had been about the destination after all, it was about the journey all along; the creative process didn't let me down, but rather, documented my routing.
That's it for me. Now I would like to go on to introduce you to Laura, she'll be posting at Tanderwen Quilts next Monday, she's an amazing quilter possessing a very creative spirit; you will be in awe of her talent!  I have not been able to procure more participants for next week, as directed; they've either already been tagged, have already posted via this format or would rather not post at all, I am sorry about that. Laura will more than make up for it though, she is clever enough to be three bloggers in one; you'll see what I mean.
Laura and her incredibly detailed whole cloth quilt, "Atlantis",  juried into the AQS show in Charlotte.

Life is Good!