From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


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March In The Garden

A warm spell made it possible to get out and do some clean up in the garden for the last two weekends.  It is still too soon to plant any annuals as our last frost date is mid-April. I did call the garden center and reserve my usual flat of torenias, and I’ll pick them up in April.  I got the brick planter cleaned out, and it looks a lot better. There are daylily bulbs on each end, and I cannot remember what is in the middle. Tulips or gladiolas are most likely, but I just don’t know.  It will be fun to watch them and see what I planted. I cleaned out most of the front flower bed too, while DH worked on the hosta bed. Get ready for a picture heavy post.

planter box cleaned

The tulips are coming up, and two little purple hyacinths struggled to produce a couple of sweet blooms.

In the Garden March 2016 From MyCarolina Home

The redbud is coming into bloom, and is just lovely.

March 2016 in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The sun brought out the lovely pink shades.  There are bees all over them, and that is a good thing.  These are the really large, gentle bees that don’t pay any attention to me.

Redbud March 26 close

The cherry blossoms started out with pinkish buds, then opened up to pure white.

Cherry 1

On the mountainside out back, the violas cover the ground with purple flowers.

Viola mountainside March 2016

Here’s a closer look.  There are hundreds of them!

Violas March 2016

The rhododendron is putting up some lovely buds, and I hope they bloom after the danger of freeze is over.

Rhododendron buds March 2016

The cardinal pair stopped by the feeder recently too.  Have you ever seen a male cardinal feed the female? It is so sweet.

Cardinals March 2016 2

After they left, the goldfinches came in full flock!  There were at least a dozen, taking turns on the feeder.  I managed to get four at once.

Goldfinches March 2016 1

Inside are the most wonderful flowers of all, white roses. DH knows these are my favorite flower, delicate and sweet. He brought me a dozen of them just because he saw them and knew I’d love them.

Roses 3

He is definitely a keeper.

Roses 5

Close up of one, there is a blush of pink in the center. Just lovely and the whole kitchen has a sweet fragrance.

Roses 4

The white hyacinth peaked last week and has now faded.

In the Garden March 2016 From MyCarolina Home

And the amaryllis finally bloomed! Only two blooms on one flower spike this year, but I am still thrilled that it did bloom for the third year.

Amaryllis 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Gorgeous isn’t it!!

Amaryllis 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Velvety red flowers, huge blooms. I know that my MIL never thought she was giving me a gift that would continue blooming yearly for three years.  It surprises me too!  Can there possibly be a fourth year?

Amaryllis 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

I’ll have to give it some flower food and see.

Amaryllis 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Back out front, the tulips came into bloom on Saturday, lovely!

March 2016 in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These ajuga reptans, also called blue bugle flowers, are all over the grass next to the front sidewalk.  It is a wild ground covering plant like the violas.  I’d like to get rid of the dandelions, but if I do, it might kill these pretty flowers.

March 2016 in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

If you get the posts by email, stop by the blog and see the new header with the redbud and the mountains. I’ve also added some pages at the top to help readers find projects and tutorials.

Anything in bloom around your house?

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Quilted Art Project Update 4

I know, it has been a couple of weeks since I showed any progress this project.  I had to set it aside while I worked on the Moda Bake Shop recipe that published this past week (Pin Woven Tote on the sidebar).  Between that, the charity quilts, the car club, and spring springing, little time was left for a sit-down, hand-work project.   Another stumbling block was finding more silk ribbon in the pastel pink and lighter ecru that I wanted.  I went to all four big-box craft stores in the area, and none of them carry silk ribbon anymore.  I had no idea this would be so hard to find!  I found a small group of Bucilla skeins on eBay, and bought that. Then, this week a lovely envelope of silk ribbons from reader Lynda arrived in the mail (thanks again, Lynda!).  So, finally, I had what I wanted to pick this project up again and get some progress made.

Quilted Art Project - late March update ~ From My Carolina Home

I made some daisies with the ecru, adding gold seed beads to the centers. I have four done, and plans for a few more.  There will soon be more pink peonies.

Quilted Art Project - late March update ~ From My Carolina Home

Random placement of buttons and pearls continued.  The buttons and pearls are all within the chalk lines I drew before.

Quilted Art Project - late March update ~ From My Carolina Home

More green seed beads were put in the little grouping, along with a white ribbon bow.  I did find a few yellow buttons too.

Quilted Art Project - late March update ~ From My Carolina Home

I started on the doilies, with peach color pearls and purple buttons.  There will be more pearls added here too.  I want to be sure to keep the placement asymmetric, not putting them in every obvious slot.  It is tempting to put them all around that center medallion, but I am resisting that urge.

Quilted Art Project - late March update ~ From My Carolina Home

Anyhow, that is where it stands for now.  I still have a lot of embellishing to do, so this project will be ongoing for a while.    Are you working on any hand work or a long term project?

 

Slow Sunday Stitching


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Wild Orchid Pin Woven Jelly Roll Tote For Moda Bake Shop

I am thrilled to announce my second recipe for Moda Bake Shop!  I used an older technique that I haven’t done in quite a while called pin weaving.  Although I enjoy quick and easy like anyone else, sometimes I like to stretch with a difficult or time consuming project. This one will take a weekend, but anyone can do it, just follow the steps.

Wild Orchid Tote Title

The tote is an ambitious project, not because of difficulty, but because it is a bit time consuming and requires an attention to detail while quilting.

Wild Orchid Tote 57 finished

I added a pocket inside, and a velcro closure.

Wild Orchid Tote 59

Click on Wild Orchid Pin Woven Tote on Moda Bake Shop for the tutorial, and a downloadable pdf.

Wild Orchid Tote 2

Have you ever done pin weaving?


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Lightening Up a Comfort Food Dish – Chicken Mornay

When I was in high school, my mother worked as a manager at a local hotel.  She would frequently let me come and have dinner in the restaurant while she was on duty.  They had a dish on the menu I used to get all the time, and haven’t made in years.  Of course, their version was full of fat, and not something I  would want to do today unless some changes were made.

Chicken Broccoli Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

When I scored these individual gratin dishes (aren’t they wonderful with the vegetable motif?), I started thinking about how I could use them. Maybe I could re-invent that mornay. I had just what I needed in the frig.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

I stirred olive oil and flour together in a pot, replacing the butter likely in the original.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Heating it to boiling, stirring constantly to make a roux.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Add 2% milk, stirring constantly until thickened, replacing the whole milk and cream used in the original recipe. Add shredded cheese to complete the cheese sauce.  Add salt and pepper.  You could use a low-fat version to further reduce the fat.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

I sprayed the dish with no-stick spray, and placed a piece of sourdough toast in the bottom.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

On top, I placed sliced cooked chicken.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Then chopped broccoli from last night’s dinner.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Top with the cheese sauce…

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

then shredded cheese. I used Monterrey Jack and Cheddar.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until bubbly and cheese is melted and golden, slightly browned.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Place the hot gratin dish on a plate for serving, and eat it right out of the baking dish. It stays nicely hot all through the meal.

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

The toast on the bottom stays nicely crispy, the perfect counter to the creamy sauce. Great for leftover chicken or turkey, with broccoli or even asparagus.  Yum!

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Chicken Mornay

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese, Monterrey Jack and Cheddar
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, or to taste
Cooking spray
2 slices bread, toasted
1 cup cooked chicken
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese blend

Make the sauce by heating olive oil in a pan, add the flour stirring constantly. Cook one minute, making sure to stir well until it bubbles and all the lumps are gone. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Spray two individual gratin dishes with cooking spray. Place a piece of toast in the bottom of each one. Divide the chicken evenly between the two dishes, and repeat with the broccoli. Pour 1/2 the sauce on each gratin, then top each one with half the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve immediately in the gratin dishes. Serves 2. Enjoy!

Chicken Broccoli Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home

Do you have a recipe for individual baking dishes like these?

Lighter Mornay ~ From My Carolina Home


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First Drive of the Season

Warmer weather has come, and we eagerly anticipated the first drive of the season with our car club yesterday.  We weren’t the only ones, seems like a lot of members had cabin fever, and were glad to get the cars out. That is our blue TVR on the left.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We met up at a parking lot near the outlet mall, lining up all together.  Lots of people stopped by to see our impromptu British car show!

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Setting out on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Arboretum, we noticed the mountains haven’t greened up yet but at least the snow is gone. At least it is for now, there is snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Lovely views, even without the trees fully leafed out.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

It was cool on the Parkway, but a light sweater was all that was needed.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

The evergreens were pretty. I tried hard to get some shots of the beautiful flowering trees that dotted the landscape, but they came out too blurry.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We stopped at an overlook for a photo op.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

The mountains are always beautiful.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Blue sky and evergreens, such a relaxing way to spend part of a weekend.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

At the end of the drive was a fun lunch at a local burger place.  It was another car show as we all parked together.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

On the way home, DH was indulgent with slowing down so I could get a few photos of the flowering trees. This is a cherry with white flowers.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

And these are Bradford Pears, lots of them!

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Golden forsythias are in bloom all over the place.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

And my favorite, a weeping cherry. These get a hundred feet tall, with cascading flowers down the long fronds in pale pink. Gorgeous.  I really want to plant one of these on our property this year.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We do have one small upright cherry tree, and it began blooming this week.

Cherry field

Lovely white flowers with a tinge of pink, they are so pretty!

Cherry 3

More things are coming into bloom at our place, and I’ll share our garden soon.

What is blooming in your part of the world?

 


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Springtime Cards

Have you ever taken a class making cards? It is so much fun to get to try new things. Recently I went to my friend Gail’s house, who happens to be a Stampin’ Up Demonstrator. She does classes in her home a couple of days a month, and you just sign up to go. She provides all the materials, plus you get to play with new tools. I got to use her embosser, and some blender pens, both tools were new to me. One card we made had a die-cut motif for the front, with an embossed base.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

The next one was also for Easter. The blender pens made the flowers pop.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

The same flowers are put on the inside with a nice sentiment.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Isn’t this little guy cute? Gail had us color him like a robin for spring.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

We did some sponge painting along the edge of the inside.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

The fourth design was a St. Patricks Day card, with small hearts punched out to make the shamrocks.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Aren’t these the greatest designs? If you live local, Gail is in Mills River, and you can get on her email list for classes by sending her an email at [grandmarac at bellsouth dot net].  She charges $10 per session for four cards plus envelopes (we stamped those too), or she offers the class for free if you order supplies.

Naturally, I came home all charged up to make more cards, so I got out my paper and cut some card stock into card size.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Oh, what stamps to choose? I think the birdhouses are perfect for just some springtime wishes.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

One more bit of handmade paper, torn with the deckle edge strip. I am seriously going to try making my own paper soon.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

I haven’t used the lace edge punch in a while, so I got it out. It is used in the center first.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Then, line up the edge with the guide on the extended end.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

A birdhouse is stamped on yellow, and punched out.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

I used a long birdhouse row on the bottom, then another birdhouse and sentiment on the side. Front finished.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

The back has a little rabbit and I just signed my name.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Inside, another birdhouse with the sentiment.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

These will go to my office ladies, with this little springtime gift.  You know I like to do this regularly to let them know they are appreciated.  These little gifts didn’t cost a lot, it is the thought and presentation that makes them special.  A little chocolate bunny is included, and the flower seeds can go anywhere.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

These kneeling pads are a great thing to have outside when pulling weeds. All tied up with a lavendar ribbon.

Springtime Cards ~ From My Carolina Home

Then, I went to a local crafting store with a 55% coupon and bought a small embosser.  I just needed to add that to the stamping supplies.  I got four embossing plates too.  I’ll play with those in a future post.  I bought some blender pens too, and will see how they do with my chalks.

Are you doing any crafting for spring?


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Fixing More Quilt Problems

Now, several more charity quilts later, I promised to show you how I fix some other common problems with longarm quilting.  Once again, the main reason for this post is to educate those that send quilts to a longarmer, but new longarmers may find something useful here. First up, the issue of using sheets as backing. Oh heavens, I know there are those of you that think there is a lot of fabric without seams, and it makes a perfect backing, but it doesn’t. The weave is rarely even, it stretches like mad and not evenly, and it is difficult to quilt through keeping the tensions balanced. But, the kicker is when someone gives you one that has been washed dozens of times.  This one was pieced by my neighbor, such a sweet lady.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Note that the sheet is the backing, and is fine on the far side, but the side closest to the camera is sagging like crazy. Not just a little, a LOT!  Both ends are pinned to the leaders and rolled evenly from the bottom.  I swear I am not making this up.  Not even my fertile mind could come up with this, LOL!

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

I unpin it at that edge, and pull up some of the fullness. This is going to make it off grain, but I can’t help that.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

After I roll it up again, I stuff some batting between the canvas leader and the roller to take up the rest of the fullness.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Adding the clamps, and now it is close to being flat.  I quilted it like this.  Each time I advanced the quilt, I removed the batting, then replaced it under the roller, just enough to get this side reasonably flat.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

The saddest part of this is that stained glass quilt with all those black sashings, diagonal seams and bias edges was entirely hand pieced and absolutely flat with perfectly applied borders! Without a doubt, this is one of the most wonderful piecing jobs I have ever has the pleasure to quilt.  It would have been so much nicer in the end to have a pretty tone on tone print for backing.

The next three quilts had a lot of fullness in the middle. Rule of thumb, if it won’t press flat, some adjustment to the piecing is needed. Some quilting will take care of minor puffiness, but even a miracle worker can’t fix D-cups.  The puckering in the picture below happens when the longarmer cannot take up the fullness with other techniques.  If the quilt will be washed and used a lot, this will be camouflaged in the puckering that happens with washing.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

This one is not too bad, but still very puffy.  Sometimes if the whole quilt is like this, you can add another layer of batting to take up the fullness.  But that isn’t a solution if the puffs are just here and there.  So here is how I handle that.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

One thing I do is use a solution of Best Press, diluted 50% with water. This works just as well as full strength and goes twice as far.  I buy it by the gallon online, and refill the spray bottle. Spray generously on the section needing flattening.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Then plug in the iron with an extension cord, and steam the you-know-what out of it while it is on the frame.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Smooth the wrinkles out by hand as much as possible, distributing the fullness over as wide an area as I can. Here’s the same spot after the steam treatment.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

And same thing again on a different quilt.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Spray with 50% solution, steam like crazy, and smooth as best I can.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Then quilt. Not bad, still some minor puckers. Since this is a charity quilt it will get washed, and will shrink up all over and hide this bit.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

Last problem for today, I am continually amazed at the number of poorly applied borders. On this quilt, when I was almost done quilting, I found this.  I put a pin in to hold it, but notice that there is no extra to tuck into the seam.  How this got by the piecer,  I’ll never know.

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

I put a tiny bit of fusible web under the broken seam, stuffed the ends down as best I could, and topstitched it with the longarm before continuing the quilting.  It looks terrible, but it was the best I could do.  This is one of my pet peeves, why should the recipient of a charity quilt deserve any less than our best effort?

Fixing Quilt Problems ~ From My Carolina Home

If you missed my other post on quilt issues, click on Loading the Longarm.  Even with all the issues, I still enjoy quilting and helping with charity quilts.  I am gratified by being able to take these lovingly made tops and help them become beautiful quilts to brighten someone’s day at a hospice, hospital, or shelter.  A quilt on a bed helps make those places feel more like a home to a person who really needs comfort, and that is worth our best work.  Wouldn’t you agree?

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