From My Carolina Home

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Stamping Cards in February

It has been a month of misfortune for some of my friends.  After having two in physical therapy rehab early in the month, I found out recently that my Stampin Up demonstrator, Gail, had shoulder surgery. Another friend broke her leg requiring significant reconstructive surgery with hardware.  Yet another friend had major kidney surgery. So, I headed to the workbench to stamp some cards. I wanted all of them to know that I was thinking of them.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Starting with a sunny yellow color cardstock, I embossed it with a tiny flower pattern.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

This little pickup truck has a bunch of things you can put in its cargo bed. I used the flowers this time. I thought the sentiment was perfect.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Placing a pretty ribbon over the embossed card, I wrapped the ends to the backside.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Picking up the teal color from the ribbon, I used that as the frame color for the pickup truck.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

One down!

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

I like that blue with the ribbon too, so I got another large piece for a birthday card for my MIL. Her birthday is this month too, actually today. Happy Birthday, Dear MIL!! She already has her card, so I can share it with you.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

I glued the ribbon across the lower part and wrapped the cut ends to the backside, then mounted it on the card.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Because she is very special to us, I used this stamp and punched out a scallop.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

The scallop was framed in purple on a larger scallop, and the front was done.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Inside, I am doing more combination stamping, this time with two sentiment stamps and a few butterflies.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

Yes, all the cards today got my signature stamp.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

I put a butterfly on her envelope too.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

This month I was the lucky recipient of two beautiful cards from my friend Carol W., who is much better at this than I am. She sent this one after my oral surgery, lovely tri-fold card with a cut out jar of flowers! I have to have her show me how to do this.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

It is Carol’s fault influence that convinced me to get the embosser. She sent this lovely Valentine card to me last week. I am hoping we can do some stamping together when Gail gets back to doing classes again.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

While I had the stamps out, I did a couple of additional cards to send out. These are essentially the same, with the same ribbon, and some embossing. They have been sent out too.

Stamping Cards at From My Carolina Home

So once again, I say I am going to do some cards to keep in reserve for quick needs, but I have not been able to do that.  Maybe this week I can get out the stamps again and get a head start on the next round of cards.  I want to do several, leaving the insides blank so I have one when I need one quickly.  And it always seems I need one quickly, LOL!!

Have you done any stamping recently?  Or, what are you working on now?


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Building a Brighter Year Quilt

Last fall during the Autumn Jubilee, quilter Diann won the prize of quilting a table topper.  She contacted me to ask if I would do a small quilt for a charity called Building a Brighter Year instead of her table topper.  This charity supports families with infants facing medical challenges and financial hardship in Colorado.  Of course, this was a no-brainer, I had to say yes to help this very worthy cause. She mailed it to me, and I set it up on the longarm with Warm and White cotton batting.

Diann's Quilt - Quilted by From My Carolina Home

Auditioning threads, there were several that looked nice. I decided on the brown on the left as it went well with the backing fabric she sent.  It is also polyester, so it adds a bit of shine to the work.  The bobbin has Bottom Line.

Diann's Quilt - Quilted by From My Carolina Home

Quilting it was fast, as it was small.

Diann's Quilt - Quilted by From My Carolina Home

I thought this sweet pantograph of hearts would look nice.

Diann's Quilt - Quilted by From My Carolina Home

The scale was good for a small quilt, giving a nice density to the quilting.

Diann's Quilt - Quilted by From My Carolina Home

I trimmed it for her, and shipped it back to her last week. She will add the binding, and then donate it to the charity for their silent auction, which will be in April. Thanks, Diann, for letting me participate with your charity! Her blog is Little Penguin Quilts, and I imagine she will show the finished quilt there when she gets it done.

Are you doing any charity sewing?

 

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Be My Neighbor Quilt Along – Block 2

Deciding to start over with the Be My Neighbor Quilt Along, I pulled out some really pretty springtime fabrics. This Beverly Park bundle from Connecting Threads came a couple of months ago specifically to do a lighter springtime quilt. I thought they would do nicely for this quilt too.

Beverly Park Fabrics

I pulled more springtime colors and started to figure out the first block again. The block from yesterday will be used in a charity quilt, and I have that one underway too.  The light blue Moda marbles for sky is at the top of this picture.  I have a darker blue to use as well, so the sky will have some variation.

Purple and Pink Fabrics

Cutting takes more time than usual because a lot of decisions have to be made as to what colors to place where – house color, window print, roof fabrics, tower print, etc.  You can see my notebook in this picture, all the patterns and instructions were printed, hole punched and then put in a binder.  This way nothing gets lost.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

I apologize for these pictures being so dark. I dropped my little camera and broke it.  It is toast, so another used one of the exact same model was purchased online so I can use the same accessories as the broken one. I didn’t pay attention to the setting on the good camera, and it was still set for night pictures.  Anyway, once again I picked up bits and sewed as much as I could at once.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

This block didn’t start out well, as I sewed the points together wrong, so frogging the first seams stopped the progress.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

Arrgggghh, this is why I cut extra large and square up HSTs – these should be 3-1/2 inches.  So, I had to start over and remake several of these HSTs.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

Then I did this. The third mess up with this bloody block!

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

Frogged those out, and finally made progress on some of the construction.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

But apparently, I still need a lesson on reading the instructions. I messed up the tower roof too, sewing the chimney on sideways, so more frogging was in order.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

But, eventually, I did get the block done. I added some daffodils to the sides of the tower to set it into a landscape.  This block has the alternate blue fabric for the sky.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

The re-made Block One went a bit faster. I used a flower with leaves fabric on either side of the now flowering tree to set it into a landscape.  The tree has tiny oranges and leaves now.  The actual block is lighter than this picture makes it appear.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

Here are the first two blocks done.

Be My Neighbor Quilt Blocks ~ From My Carolina Home

I’ll be working on the third block to get it done before the next meeting.  It has a bunch of really tiny pieces, and also some applique. I don’t do well with applique, so I’ll be getting out a couple of books to try to do better this time.  I just need more practice.  Plus it will give me some handwork to do, which I do enjoy.  You can still get the downloads for the 12 house blocks on Bear Creek Quilting Moda Be My Neighbor, but I am not sure how long they will be there.  I’ll get to block 3 next week, and then I plan to do one or two a month after that.   There are sixteen blocks total, so we need a couple of months to have two.  I will likely publish these on the first Wednesday of the month, as that is the monthly time for the local quilt shop’s meeting.

Do you like the new color choices?  Do you want to quilt along?

 

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Be My Neighbor Quilt Along

The LQS here started a quilt along in January for the Moda Fabrics Be My Neighbor quilt.  The original publication of the block instructions were done late last year.  So, I decided to do this monthly meeting so I can keep up with a few friends.  The shop emailed me the first blocks, but I couldn’t even think about sewing for over a week.  Finally on the day before the meeting, I thought I should at least get one block done, so I pulled some scraps and got busy.

Neighbor Block One 2

This one takes some concentration as each block is different and has lots of pieces that are close in measurement. The background on this one has a 2-1/2-inch square and a 2-1/2 x 2-3/4-inch rectangle. So careful placement is essential. As I usually do anyway, I laid out the bits to be sure they were all in the right spots.

Neighbor Block One 3

Then I picked up adjoining pieces and sewed as many as I could chain style.

Neighbor Block One 4

Took all those the the ironing board, then laid out the block again.

Neighbor Block One 6

Pick up the pieces that could be done next, and chain pieced again until I ran out of bits.

Neighbor Block One 8

I kept going like this until the entire block was sewn.  I put a white on white lacy print in the ‘windows’ to look like lace curtains, but it was too subtle.

Neighbor Block One 10

When I got the block done, I thought ho-hum. I am doing what I always do, choosing the same colors I usually do. So, this block is going to become an orphan. I am going to re-sew another one in spring colors. The trees will become flowering trees instead of evergreens, and I bought some sky fabric in a pale blue Moda marbles with some white that looks like clouds.  One of the other ladies in the quilt-along group also brought up an interesting idea.  She added in a grass patch on either side of her tree, creating a “horizon”, which sets the tree into a landscape.  I liked the look of that too. So, now I am four blocks behind, but who cares! Quilting should always be fun. I have all the best intentions of keeping up, but I am not going to stress out if I am a bit behind.

The patterns are still available at Bear Creek Quilting online, in free downloads. Click on Be My Neighbor to get all the patterns if you’d like to quilt along too, or maybe to join in later.

Want to quilt along with this one?  What are you working on?


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Scrap Dance Two Step February

Here we are with the second post for Scrap Dance Two-Step!   I hope you are having fun!  If you are just finding this quilt-along, you can catch up with January’s cutting and first sewing steps. The best part of a scrappy quilt along is you have nothing to lose!  Get a new quilt by just using up leftovers, and bits in the scrap bins!  Now that you have seen January, you know that each month will have two steps to complete.  Last month was cutting and sewing the first unit.  This month we do a two-step unit.

Scrap Dance Two-Step Mystery Quilt Along

Step One – For your chosen size, match all the 5-3/4-inch background squares with an equal number of the 5-3/4-inch scrap squares.  Draw lines on the background squares, either one in the center (and sew 1/4-inch away on both sides), or this way – two sewing lines 1/4-inch away from the center.  I have found it easier to stay accurate with this method.

two-step-hsts-marking-2

Sew on the lines (or on either side of a center line).  Cut apart down the center between the sewing lines to form half square triangles (HSTs), do not square!  Press toward the scrappy side.

two-step-qsts-1a

Now, let’s Two-Step!   Using the HST units you just made, draw sewing lines perpendicular to the seam line on half of the units.

two-step-qsts-8

Pair them together again with the other half unmarked HSTs, with the scrappy sides matched to background and nesting the seams. Try to mix up medium and dark values on the scraps.

two-step-qsts-9

Sew on the lines (or on either side of a center line).

two-step-qsts-10

Cut apart down the center between the sewing lines to form quarter-square triangle (QST) units.

two-step-qsts-11

Press seam toward one side, which one doesn’t matter.  Then, square to 4-1/2 inches.

two-step-qsts-12

February unit – quarter square triangles.

two-step-qsts-13

That’s it for February!  Here’s your downloadable pdf –  Two Step February pdf . The next Two-Step will be March 17th.

George Strait once again, with Fool Hearted Memory for your Two-Stepping fun!

Are you Two-Stepping with us?  Or sewing something else?  For country fan readers, what’s your favorite Two-Stepping song?


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A Quilt Garden, Dreaming of Flowers in Winter

I’ve been saving this post for a couple of months to give us some flowers to see in deep winter.  These pics are from my visit to the NC Arboretum last spring for the Lego Exhibit.  There is so much to do and see there, that you cannot do it all in one post.  One of my favorite things at the NC Arboretum is the Quilt Garden. The staff changes this every year, so it is different each spring. The Quilt Garden is a grid of planting squares surrounded by concrete strips. It gives the impression of quilt blocks surrounded by sashing. There are even cornerstones in the sashing made of stone. Last spring the quilt blocks were butterflies.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

There is a viewing balcony you can walk up to see the garden from a higher view.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

A close up view of one of the butterfly blocks.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

And here is the other block.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

The same small purple flower was used as the ‘background’ in both blocks.  I think it is a dianthus. These are Agearatums.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

It is a lovely place to sit and just enjoy being outdoors. It is relatively quiet here too, depending on the number of visitors at the time.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

All over the Arboretum are gorgeous flowers in the spring and summer.  Their pots of mixed flowers are such an inspiration for my veranda pots.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

This bromeliad garden was in full bloom.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

This rooftop garden was a surprise. The hydrangea bush next to it has a multitude of blooms.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Springtime means lots of pollinators are out in abundance.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

This fascinating little guy is a Hummingbird Moth. This was the first one I have ever seen, and there were dozens of them on these purple flowers – perhaps a variety of impatiens.  Phlox!

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Beautiful isn’t it?  I entered this photo in the State Fair photography contest, but it didn’t get a ribbon.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Here’s another hummingbird moth on a different flower.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

There are wonderful hiking trails on the property, and we had a nice walk in the woods that day too.

Arboretum Hiking Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Of course, I took about a hundred pictures!! There was just so much beauty everywhere. Something about walking in the woods, with green everywhere is just so relaxing.

Arboretum Hiking Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Occasionally you’ll come across a real surprise too, like this giant mushroom. It was a bright bit of yellow color in an otherwise mostly green landscape.  I love the moss behind it on the tree trunk.

Wild Mushroom at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

Heading back to the car, we kept going by lovely masses of color.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

I love white flowers. I think these are a variety of stephanotis.  Phlox!

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

One last stop, the Mason bee garden.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Mason bees are non-aggressive, solitary bees that make their homes in holes in trees or bark, or wood. You can actually attract them to your garden with a bee house made of wood tubes.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Purple petunias were almost done.

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

Here and there you can see the mountains surrounding the arboretum through the hedges. The statue is of Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., who first thought of an arboretum as part of a plan for the Biltmore Estate gardens.

Quilt Garden at NC Arboretum ~ From My Carolina Home

These red beauties were in a huge pot near the visitor’s center.  I should have taken a picture of the identification card, I am not sure what these are.  But the red color was just vibrant! (Update – Salvia)

NC Arboretum Flower Trails ~ From My Carolina Home

The NC Arboretum is definitely a place to visit, in many different times of the year.  The early spring is really beautiful with all the bulbs in bloom, and I hope to get there this year at the right time.

My amaryllis is making good progress now! This picture was taken Saturday, and I should have a bloom soon. Looking at it this close kind of reminds me of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, LOL!!

Amaryllis bulb year 4 a

Are you dreaming of flowers and springtime?  Is there an arboretum near you?

 

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Creme Bruleé – A special dessert for special days

Making a special dessert for special occasions is a fun thing to do.  Whether that occasion is a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day, I really like Creme Bruleé, and it is a lot easier to make than you think. I have the ramekins and the kitchen torch, but there are ways to work around those, so read on!  If you hate making from scratch, there are mixes available, but trust me, I’ve done both and this one from fresh ingredients is just so much better!  You can make these today to serve tomorrow, they are perfect for a make ahead dessert, just finish them off at the last moment.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Begin by splitting one vanilla bean, and scraping out the seeds to add to the cream.  You’ll add the bean itself too to steep the flavor out of it as well.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

This egg separator works great for getting the 4 large egg yolks separated. Sometimes having just the right kitchen tool can save a lot of time and trouble. I’ve never broken a yolk with this neat little tool. Save the whites for another use, like meringue cookies or egg white omelets.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat 2 cups heavy cream with vanilla bean bits and the vanilla seeds over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring to ensure it does not burn; do not let boil. Just scald the cream. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes to extract the vanilla flavor from the bean. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, or save for another use. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any curdles that sometimes form if the cream gets too hot.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  It is going so fast here you cannot see it, but I have the whisk attachment on the mixer.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Gradually beat in 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Add about half the cream mixture, a little at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking until well blended.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Stir until completely blended.  I pour the whole mixture back into the 2-cup measuring cup to make it easier to pour into the ramekins.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Pour the custard into 4 (9-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place the dishes in large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.   Just hot water from the tap is fine.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 300 degrees (note 300 not 350) or until the mixture is set in the center (it should still wiggle when shaken). They will mostly be set, but not browned. Carefully remove the dishes from the baking pan. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Creme Brulee at From My Carolina Home

Let creme bruleés stand at room temperature 20-40 minutes before serving.  You want them close to room temperature before doing the sugar burning.  I take mine out of the frig before I serve the meal, and let them sit out while we eat, and maybe a little longer.  Sprinkle the tops with white sugar, light brown sugar or flavored sugar.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Burn with a torch until the sugar melts.  If you don’t have a torch, place the ramekins under a broiler, and watch carefully!  It only takes a moment to get these done.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Ideally, they should have a light bubbling surface, evenly melted, to make that delightful crunchy crust.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Enjoy! You won’t believe how wonderfully creamy and delicious these are!

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

If you don’t have little individual ramekins, you can bake this all in one souffle dish, just be sure that the height of the custard is about one inch before baking. You will need to bake a bit longer if using one dish for the entire custard. Be sure to use the water bath too. This is a great reason to get a kitchen torch if you don’t already have one. You can use them for more than just Creme Bruleé. I have a small jar of flavored sugars to use too, but I really prefer the white or light brown sugar best.

torch

Creme Bruleé

2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup white granulated or light brown sugar or flavored sugars
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat cream with vanilla bean over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring to ensure it does not burn; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, or save for another use. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar. Add about half the cream mixture, a little at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking until well blended. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Stir until completely blended. Pour the custard into 4 (9-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place the dishes in large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the mixture is set in the center (it should still wiggle when shaken). Carefully remove the dishes from the baking pan. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Let creme bruleé stand at room temperature 20-40 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar, light brown sugar or flavored sugar and burn with a torch until the sugar melts.  If you don’t have a torch, place the ramekins under a broiler, and watch carefully!  It only takes a moment to get these done.

Creme Brulee ~ From My Carolina Home

Ready to try it?  Here’s a pdf for you – Creme Bruleé

Are you planning a special meal for Valentine’s on the day or maybe the weekend?

 

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