Friday, December 31, 2021

Out with the Old Hotpads, in with the New

This is actually a hotpad post, but hey, it coincides with the end of 2021, so I made the cute title. 

I really enjoy washing my hotpads and keeping them nice-ish. A little kitchen luxury for the cook. My old hotpads had been used and washed so hard that the fabric was splitting.

I moved them to the outdoor kitchen where they will get some more grease and black spots in their useful life before going in the compost. 
For the new ones, I used fabric scraps that were lingering in my stash because they weren't 100% quilting-weight cotton. I tried to mostly stick with darker fabric or with busy prints, and I do love kitchen brights

As filler, I used felted wool sweater scraps that were so thick the hotpads barely fit under my machine's walking foot. The hotpads are wonderfully insulated, if a little thick and stiff, but they are great with the cast iron which gets quite hot. 
Please, if you have insights or reflections for "out with the old, in with the new," leave a comment with your wisdom. Or if you just want to chat about hotpads, I am all ears for that, too. Happy New Year, dear friends!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Welcome Winter Soup

 Welcome, winter, I love you so. The colors of winter are my favorites, the yellowing fields and sharp brown trees. The thin sharp air. The late afternoon light, especially in my pretty city on the old red brick. I love being snug, seeing lights in the windows, making the house smell good with baking and soup. . . .so much soup. 

Let's not even talk about Christmas, ok? That ridiculously overdone thing that needs to stop hogging winter. We're doing Christmas at my house, yes, and my children are all in a tizzy about it, but I'm focused on winter. . . and soup. 

Here's one of my favorites, from Fountain Avenue Kitchen. My photos are mediocre, snapped in the rush of supper and daily life, but I promise you this recipe is a keeper.

With a loaf of homemade bread (also one of my favorite house smells), it's a supper we all love. I have fudged some of the amounts in this recipe or swapped ingredients, depending what I have on hand, and it's always delicious.

Tuscan Lentil Soup

Saute in olive oil in biggish soup pot:

1/2 lb. loose Italian sausage, or ground beef with some sage and fennel

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

1-2 ribs celery, chopped

When the sausage is browned, add:

2 tsp. Italian herbs

1 tsp. salt

good sprinkle red pepper flakes, however much heat you want

1 1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes (a 14.5 oz. can)

4 cups stock of choice, chicken recommended

1 cup water

1 cup dry brown lentils

1 potato, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


2-3 cups chopped kale or spinach

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

freshly ground pepper, to taste

Taste for salt. Add a bit more water if needed. I sometimes add some more herbs at this point. Serve in soup bowls with freshly grated Parmesan on top. So so so good. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A Big Quilt for My Sister

For a few years, my sister talked about the quilt she wanted, and I began to take notes. Teal. Grey. Orange. Modern, not traditional old quilt patterns. Noted. I love making quilts for my family! 

My sister had a big birthday (number, not party) early in the COVID shut-down. I told her my present to her would be her quilt and that it would not be done until it was done. She told me that she wanted it to be a surprise. So I have been keeping the quilt off social media, where we both hang out, and the one time I went down to North Carolina with her and her husband, I sat in the back and quilted and she chose to keep her gaze forward. I think that was a hard time for her, but I could not bear to sit empty-handed on such a long drive with such a big quilt to finish. The quilt also traveled with me by car to upstate New York, to the beach a few times, and camping where it picked up some dirt and smokiness (I washed it when it was done!). 

This is a large queen-sized quilt. I pieced it in rows, slipping four-patches in every other row, and a little piecing on the back. I machine quilted long lines parallel to the row seams. Then I hand-quilted with black perle cotton down the middle of each row, stopping to outline the little four-patches. I adore striped binding, and I do really like my decision to have that as the only pattern on this quilt. 

I finished the quilt a few days before Thanksgiving, and my big kids helped me get photos of it.

Not only were we all happy on Thanksgiving being inside and so very normal together, but then I got out the quilt to give to my sister. So much joy! 

I started her quilt in April 2020 and finished it in November 2021. I already know what my next quilt will be: entirely sourced from my overflowing piece bag.