Other Interests

A Quilt with Botanicals

I had ordered a set of fat quarters from Craftsy, thinking that it would be what was needed to do the pattern that was shown with this set. It is called Botanicals, by Joel Dewberry. I loved the large scale print, and the coordinating geometrics. I paired these with white to make a modern style quilt, from the pattern of Atkinson Designs, Urban Cabin Quilt.


I learned to starch my fabrics from Anita Grossman Solomon.
She recommended washing the fabrics, then while damp, adding them to a large Ziploc bag with liquid starch, at a ratio of 1:1. I added 1.5 cups Evenflo liquid starch to 1.5 water. I kept moving the fabrics around, and ensuring that the fat quarters were evenly moistened. Then, overnight in the fridge! By the way, Canadians have to rely on going to the USA to get liquid starch! We have the spray starch, but you need an awful lot of that expensive spray can to get the effect you want. I find that starching the fabrics allows you to have crisp edges, and it just feels so good. You wash the starch out after quilting the layers together. I will use my new can of spray baste to layer the quilt top, batting, and backing together to quilt. My machine needs a little servicing after my last quilting adventure!

They turned out beautifully sized, with the iron easily making them crisp and smooth. Then, I had to follow the directions very carefully to cut all the pieces out for the Urban Cabin Quilt that I am making for my god-daughter's wedding gift. Here is one layout I tried. I photographed it in grey scale to see if I was balancing all the values, so that I didn't have a cluster of darker or lighter values all in one place. It works; give that a try! You can see that in the middle, I have too many darker values, so it was easy to change them at this stage. I'll post photos of the quilt, when it is finished.


Drafting a Bodice and Skirt Block

A Class in Pattern Making at the New Brunswick College of Art and Design has been a wonderful experience. We have drafted a skirt sloper and a bodice sloper. Lots of measuring going on, but seeing how round and angled body parts are drafted onto flat paper is a wondrous thing! One of the best parts of the course was getting to meet Patricia Galbraith, our teacher and graduate of NBCAD. She is talented, patient, an excellent communicator, and just a joy to be around. Pat shared her graduation portfolio, as well as some of her couture designs. She is an inspiration. There were 5 students in the class, and each one worked hard, and learned a lot. I hope we all get together again, and help each other with fitting and designs for our pattern blocks.

These photos show the skirt I made by drafting the pattern from my own measurements. It fits perfectly and feels so comfortable. You might remember the top I made with the fabric used in this skirt. Hard to believe that this skirt started out with a single straight line on a piece of brown paper!




Here is a close up of the dart. Darts can be positioned where you need them. After sewing up the first muslin, I found that I needed shorter darts in the front (to give room for the abdomen), and longer darts in the back to make the fabric skim my flatter backside. Ah, the aging process--working with it, not against it is best in sewing.
 When you make your own pattern block, you do not add the seams, until you pin it to the fabric. Then you can add the size of seams you want. The industry standard is 5/8" only because that is the largest seam you can have that easily curves. So, you can go smaller or larger, depending on your need. For instance, if I think I need more around the middle, I can leave a 1 inch seam and then fit it better, then trim. If I know that a pattern fits, I can reduce bulk by adding smaller seams. Plus, by tracing the pattern without seams, I can stitch exactly on the sewing line. BUT, I have to make sure I ADD the seam allowance, and not be in a hurry to cut BEFORE adding them.  Also, I learned the hard way, not to add a seam allowance on a fold line. The first skirt was too big because I added and extra 6 cm on the Center front fold line. Silly mistake, that I hope not to ever repeat!

When I get the bodice fitted, and sewn up, I will make a new posting, so stay tuned! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Acadian Cinnamon Biscuits by Janice

My friend, Janice lives next door. She is becoming an amazing quilter and you can see some of her quilts here and here. Would you believe that she only started quilting a year ago?

Well, I shared my pizza making lessons with her last year. Since then, we have made lots of pizzas for our families and visitors. I often use the leftover pizza dough and roll it up to make cinnamon buns for breakfast and snacks.

Janice said that she found the pizza bread dough buns did not keep well. "WHAT? You keep them long enough that they seem stale?"

Janice has self-control. She portions out servings and sticks to it. That is why she is very slim. I should try it. Some day.



Well, I asked her to show me how to make the Acadian Cinnamon buns that her mother often made, which she says stay fresher than the bread dough buns. (I might have a hard time testing that out, though!)

HEAVEN! These were the buns that our kids and Tod and I devoured while in Cheticamp, in Cape Breton Island when we traveled the Cape Breton Trail. Such a beautiful Acadian village on the windswept side of the island. We stopped for these buns each morning at a little bakery prior to exploring the trail and watching our kids play with the rocks in the shallow river beside our motel. One bun and it brought back all those memories.


Here is the recipe. Janice writes down the name of the person who shared the recipe, but she remembers it as the one her mother made. Like all good Acadian cooks, Mme. Bourque just made them without a recipe. Most of us can do that with stews, sauces, and soups, but baking is a little more exact! So, Cathy Buckingham probably wrote this recipe while watching another wonderful 'add a little of this; add a little of that'. So happy that Janice and Cathy can share this here.


Cut in the butter or margerine into the flour, sugar, baking powder mixture with two knives, your fingers or a pastry cutter until crumbly. Then add the milk and stir, until it comes together. Pat it down in the bowl, turning it over onto itself until it comes together. Roll it out  into a rectangle, and  spread it with butter. Layer on the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Roll it carefully and seal the edges. Cut evenly into circles and fit it in a buttered muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool a little and spread on the icing. Share with your neighbour while still a little warm. Perfect!



Janice's Latest Quilt: Pandora's Box

My next door neighbor, Janice has become a quilting queen. Together we scope out fabric choices at Fabricville prior to a sale, then head toward our choices on the night of the 50% sale and load up our buggy and get in line.

While on a trip to Yarmouth, she sought out every quilt shop along the way, and put together an amazing array of fabrics that complemented each other in a variety of ways.

Janice chose a pattern from a book I bought at Value Village and created this beautiful quilt. It is called Pandora's Box, and is based on a pattern in the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lintott, published by D&C, ISBN- 13:978-0-7153-2868-7 Paperback.




Aren't the colors amazing? The orange pops against the blue, and denim colors. Every fabric picks up another color from the next, and the  flannel backing with a strip of pieced front fabrics make this quilt cozy and reversible. Janice stitched in the ditch for most of the quilt, using her walking foot. The narrow binding in orange frames the quilt beautifully. Amy and Alex will treasure it, for sure.

Check out Janice's Chenille quilts here.

I'll be taking more photos of her next quilt to share soon, so keep checking out this blog!

Ricotta Cheese at Home

Have you seen the price of Ricotta Cheese these days? When I saw the easy recipe on the Canadian Living  website, I decided to try it. Three ingredients.  Milk, salt, and vinegar.

I couldn't find organic 3.24% whole milk, so I just bought the regular whole milk at my local grocer's.

2 L of milk (8 cups)
 7 ml or 1/2 tsp. of salt
5 tbsp of white vinegar

Use a heavy bottom pan, a quick read thermometer, and a timer. Choose a low burning element or burner on your stove. You will need at least an hour of your time.


The milk took just as long as Canadian Living Testers said: 40 minutes to reach 225 degrees F, or 95 degrees Celsius. I just kept stirring and checking and resisted the urge to turn the heat up to high. I did keep it on low, as my gas burners seem to run hot. Also,  I used the smallest burner. I think taking the time to get the milk to the right temp is needed for the process.



It looked kind of gross when the vinegar went in. Immediately, the curds started to form, leaving behind the yellowish whey. I felt like Little Miss Muffet. I stirred it slowly 3 times. Then, I left it for 20 minutes.

I wet the cheesecloth, and draped it over a bowl. Once the mixture had relaxed for the 20 minutes, I started straining the curds onto the damp cheesecloth. I let it drain by tying the cheesecloth around the spoon handle and putting that through the vinegar bottle handle and toaster.

 This has a very mild taste. I might add a touch more salt. It would be good with some fresh fruit, or some herbs from the garden. As I want to make a lasagna, I will be adding an egg, some herbs, and putting it between layers of noodles and sauce, and Italian sausage, and spinach. Yum!

I'd do this again. It does take time, but, being retired, I can plan my day as I like. I know the ingredients, and will look for organic milk, just to see if there is a difference. Apparently, there is a little more fat in organic milk, compared to regular. I'm hoping there is not a great taste difference, so I can feel virtuous by not craving the higher fat content.