The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Monday, October 10, 2011

Je crée, donc je suis.

I have a long list of unfinished items in my stash and in my head. While I am definitely a thinker, it's my creativity that best defines me.

One is for a lovely little girl has been without a "blankie" from me since her birth over a year ago. Before she was born, I consulted her mother about the use of Ellie Fun - Karen Neuburger's Pink Dots purchased with Fabriholics Anonymous here on etsy.


This fun polka dot fabric uses rich pinks, purples and reds. Love it!!

I scanned in a photo of the fabric into EQ6 and started doodling. Both quilts are throw size and use a 12" finished version of the Autumn Star block from Quilter's Cache as a base.  After heading Tonya's admonishments to use more contrasting colors and many adjustments, here are my two layout choices:

Option 1: Diamonds are Forever

Option 2: You Zig and I'll Zag

 Baby S is now a walking, soon-to-be-talking toddler, so I am already woefully behind in getting her this quilt.  Maybe I'll get it done before she starts college.

Which layout do you vote for? ~ksp

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writing Lines

I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm..
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.
I will check the bobbin thread every time I reload a new bobbin in the longarm.

Several hours of my life I'll never get back.
Learn from my mistake...or this could be you. ~ksp

Monday, October 3, 2011

Better Late Than Never...

This is my "design wall"...well actually, its a design floor.  I haven't been able to get myself together enough to get my felt up on the wall...anyway, I digress.

In 2006, the now defunct Block Central hosted a block of the month titled "Nine Patch Nirvana". I previously blogged about it here.  I loved the pattern and the idea of participating but, as has become usual with me, I wasn't able to participate in the sew-along until much later.

Fast forward several years, in December of 2010, I dug in the stash and found some batik and hand-dyed fabrics that I felt lent themselves to the pattern. I used Kona Cream  as a unifying background.

After too long of a delay, two weeks ago, I got busy and started piecing...Here's how far I've gotten.

Nine Patch Nirvana

There are two blue batiks and Kona Cream from different dye lots...ya'll know I like to keep it scrappy.  I've got some extra half-square triangles of various sizes that I will work into the border and back...I think. 

So far, I like it a lot.  Next up...the border and back.  If I can get it together, this will be my brother's Christmas gift; after all, blue is his favorite color. ~ksp

Monday, September 19, 2011

Customer for Life

When I bought my JukiTL98Q from in 2009, I received a complimentary gift certificate for $200..gotta love that. I used it to purchase a copy of Electric Quilter6.  I was new to quilting software but as a visual person, I loved the idea of using the computer to sketch and, more importantly, to do the maths...hate the maths...

Long story short, in the fall of 2009, my trusted MacBook crashed and died on me.  Unfortunately, I did not properly back-up my software and I could not find the software CD.  In short, I was in a lurch.

Jump cut to 2011, as part of my Sew Bee Joyful Virtual Bee I wanted to use turquoise and red in a scrappy execution of a traditional-ish block. This presented a design challenge for me because I was going to have to translate my design ideas to others.  Somehow, my sketches and (questionable math) on cocktail napkins were not gonna cut it.

I lamented at the loss of my EQ6 software.  I researched buying EQ7 new at  $ just wasn't in the budget right now. On a lark, I reached out to Electric Quilter.  A few clicks on their computers and $12 later and there was a CD headed my way. Awesome!!  I love any company that stands behind their product and supports their customers.  I got a live person, who was informed about the product and could actually HELP me.  They had me at (live person) hello.

I had already chosen the Lover's Lane block (from the Quilter's Cache site here).  The block is simple, yet with color placement, can look very complex.

So with my new re-acquisition, I got to doodling and came up with this design.

Since it's going to be scrappy, the colors will vary but the color values will remain the same.  For example, reds will be consistent - dark and bright

Using EQ6, I can print out the estimated yardage and the strip piecing instructions for my Bee-mates??hive members?? (What is the proper term?)

Whatd'ya think? ~ksp

Thursday, September 15, 2011

For Vinay and Sabrina

I miss my lovely friends Vinay and Sabrina so much.  I've talked about them before here when I made their sons quilts. They now live across the outside of London too far to provide me with cooking lessons.  When we were relative neighbors in Massachusetts, they taught me the finer points of Indian cuisine including condiment (chutney and raita) preparations.  This is for them...

Using a Shan spice mix I made this chicken biryani.  There is a recipe on the back of the box that I followed loosely.

Biryani is great for slightly past-their-prime veggies.  I cut up some carrots and eggplant and other veggies that I had laying around in the kitchen, plus some tomatoes that I was stewing for later canning.

Veggies Before the Chicken Biryani
Before the chicken and the brown basmati.
After this photo, I added some yogurt, mined mint and cilantro plus the previously sauted chicken and then a layer of par-boiled brown basmati rice.

Chicken Biryani
All done...very tasty.
Hey I've got leftovers. Any takers? ~ksp

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lest We Forget-2011

8:46:26 AM

I remember where I was just like it was yesterday and I am still reminded of it on a regular basis.  I grew up less than fifteen (15) miles from the Twin Towers and met up with many friends there on my jaunts into The City throughout my adolescents and early adulthood.

While I was in Seattle on business at the time, my family and friends were very much in the fray.  I thank God that they were all (physically) well in the aftermath.

In unique ways, there was no one exempt from the impact of that day.  May we continue to pray for those who aim to harm others as well as the targets of their nefarious plans.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The First 500: A Do-over!!

Last summer I served as the primary support for my mentee while he underwent chemotherapy for an aggressive lymphoma. I started a hand-quilting project inspired by Texas Freckles, hosted via a Flickr group, chronicled here on my blog.  It kept me busy while sitting in the hospital waiting room and on regular visits to this hospital's oncology wing.

Well in all of the impending hoopla...I've lost this bin.  It contained over 500 hexies, arranged by color, awaiting being laid out and sewn together.

Hexies (120)
All was lost
Each hexagon is a 2.5" fabric square baste-stitched into a cardstock weight die cut paper.

I miss that ladybug.
Liberty Squares
I will rebuild!
I finally bit the bullet and bought more papers from this ebay vendor. I also bid on and won 100-2.5"square cuts of Liberty of London fabrics from Pen*Jane in the UK. Here we go...again. ~ksp

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Quick Project

As a social worker, I work with awesome young people.  With them, I celebrate their accomplishments including the birth of their children.  As a lover of scraps, I pulled some scraps out to quickly make a diaper changing pad for a gift basket.

I started with a 12" Ohio Star pattern from the Quilter's Cache.  I then got to work on my scraps and, after some simple quilting...voila!


I added it to sundry items from other colleagues designed to give the new mom a little assistance. ~ksp

Special delivery.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Much Needed Rest

Happy Labor Day!!

 Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
~John Lennon

To all who labor, enjoy wasting some time today. ~ksp

I'm Buzzing

I have been jones-ing to join a quilting bee.  In the past, I have joined knitting swaps and a few quilting swaps, but never a 6 or 12 month bee.  So I went through various websites and found this Flickr group that a a virtual meeting place for folks looking to join a bee or those looking for members.

After a few weeks of reading listings and waiting, I joined the Sew Bee Joyful 12-month bee.  The membership is a mix of quilters of various skill levels with different technical interests (e.g. applique and embroidery).

I looked at the scraps that she sent me and pulled together some Kona Solids to (in my quilting-eye) pull the scraps all together.

lime, green tea, periwinkle, purple, turquoise, orange, and red

September is our kick-of month, and the first queen bee asked for two 12.5" wonky long cabin blocks using this tutorial.

The first block will be green/purple and turquoise/orange

the Sew Bee Joyful group icon

Block One: Turquoise/Orange
Block Two: Purple and Green

So far, I'm loving this.  ~ksp

Friday, September 2, 2011

Random Reflections - in Batik

I wanted to make a quilt for a silent auction to benefit a local non-profit.  I grabbed one of my old standbys - Bali Pops from Beverly's Fabric.  This time in the Green Tea colorway.  I matched it with 1 1/2 yards of Kona Solids in the Snow colorway.

I searched the Moda Bake Shop and found the Random Reflections pattern here.

I sized up the pattern to use all of the fabric.  It resulted in a moderate queen size.  To keep it interesting,  I layed it out in an unexpected pattern.

Outdoor camera-phone shot.

An in-depth reflection - via cell phone camera.
I'll need to find a quilting pattern that contrasts the linear nature of the pattern in a nice neutral thread color.  Once I get a decent cache of prepared tops and backs, I will go to Olde City Quilts and spend the day with Ms. Kitty the Gammill longarm.  

Any suggestions on a panto pattern?  Let me know. ~ksp

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lemon Pickle-Second Place


All is well post-Irene.  Lots of water and spotty power outages.  My tomato plants took quite a beating in the post-storm winds.  I've spent the day cooking and sewing.
This recipe won a second place ribbon in the 2011 NJ State Fair.  Enjoy! ~ksp
Lemon Pickle-Done

Indian Lemon Pickle

12-18 lemons scrubbed and patted dry
½  cup salt
¼  cup chili powder
½  cup sugar
3 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida or hing powder
2 limes

1 gallon hermetic glass jar (bought mine at The Container Store)

1.     Slice off either end of the lemon and dice them into ½ inch squares.
2.     Place the diced lemon in a large bowl. 
3.     Roast the chili powder, sugar, turmeric, fenugreek and black mustard on medium flame for about 4-5 minutes .  Grind until fine with a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.
4.     Add kosher salt and hing to the spice mix and liberally sprinkle liberally over the lemon pieces.  Toss the lemons with the spice mix to evenly coat the lemons.
5.     Once the lemons are completely covered, transfer them to the glass jar.  It may look like the jar will overflow but the contents will eventually settle.
6.     Shake the jar about to help the powders get to as many lemons as possible.
7.     Add the juice of 2 limes. The jar must be placed in the sun to cook slowly in its warmth.
8.     Give it a good shake as you put it out and bring it in each day. Your pickle should be ready in about 2 months when the peel has softened and is no longer crisp.
9.     Before serving note if the liquid is runny.  If so, pulse ¼ of the pickles in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground.  Add mash back to the larger batch.
10. Wipe rims of jars and seal immediately with still-hot lids.  Process in hot water bath (½ inch headspace) for 15 minutes in sterilized jars; adjust for altitudes.
Yields eight ½ pint jars.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Semper Paratis**

As I have previously chronicled here on the blog, I was once a Girl Scout; a Brownie to be more specific.  I learned many things including the need to stay prepared for any eventuality. As we in the US Northeast prepare for hurricane Irene, I'm doing a bit of preparing myself

Courtesy of
FEMA provides lot of information to prepare us for natural/unnatural disasters a three-step guideline. In addition to preparing myself and my home, I had to get my crafts ready.  See how a hobbywhore prepares:

Step 1: Build A Kit
In addition to having bottled water and prepared foods, I prepared myself to craft in a loss-of-power situation. I pulled out this trusty plug-in rechargeable flash-light.

Get one!
Step 2: Make a Plan 
I pulled out my wheel and some Polwarth fiber from Headley Grange's etsy shop.  In addition, I prepared and got pulled out my hoop and my hand quilting tools. This red, white and blue log-cabin wall hanging is a wall hanging that I machine-pieced about 3 years ago for a class at City Quilter.


I will finish basting it, choose a design and get to quilting in Irene's wake.

Step 3: Be Informed 
I have a battery-operated radio in case I lose electricity and/or internet. 

I urge everyone to prepare yourself and your loved one's for emergency.  To all my friends and loved one's in Irene's path, please be safe and be smart.  ~ksp

** semper paratis - while this is a slogan of the US Coast Guard, I learned it from (my four year Latin teacher) Sr. Joan.  She would be so proud of me.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Streak-NJ State Fair Re-cap

I put several items in the NJ state fair this year; five in the canning competition and one in the quilt competition.  All-in-all, I won a total of four ribbons - three second place (red) and one first place (blue).


I was most happy with the lemon pickle previously shown here and a blueberry chutney that I developed using a spice combination with Bengali origins.  I will share both recipes here at a later date.

Thanks for my dedicated taste-testers (I don't taste when I cook) and kitchen helpers.  I couldn't ribbon without you. ~ksp

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Love Hot Sauce!

Hi all...long time.  I know. Have I ever told you how much I love hot sauces?

Hot sauce holds a special place in my and my family's life.  There are rights of passage and traditions revolving around hot peppers and spicy food.  For example, as a child, you could use hot sauce on your meals/food after your 13th birthday (I used to sneak Goya hot sauce out of the pantry when no one was looking). As a teenager learned to make the best buffalo wings that you've ever tasted.  My father's grandmother even developed a recipe for "hot barbecue sauce" that is a sworn family secret and is quite spicy with a nice burn.

Its a mix of peppers, spices, vinegars, mustard and catsup and it packs a huge punch...

Here it is in all its glory...

Gaga's Sauce

I served it with a rotisserie chicken as part of a larger spread of state fair wares and it was a huge hit.  In the coming weeks I'm going to try to make an approximation of it from scratch, with actual roasted mustard seeds and slow-cooked (homegrown) peppers...I plan to put it in the NJ State Fair next year.  Since it'll be a variation of my great-grandmother's recipe, I'll be able to publish it and she (hopefully) won't see fit to haunt me from the spirit realm.

I love commercial sauces too.  Top of the list are Grace's Habanero sauce and Rooster (sriracha) Sauce and I think this loverly poster sums it up. ~ksp

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mission Possible: Fresh-Baked Bread

I am considering challenging myself to not buy store bought bread for (at least) the month...maybe after the summer.  But, before things really heated, I made some cinnamon rolls..Yummy. ~ksp



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playing with Vodka

Late last year, I was scanning the blogosphere (as I am wont to do) and I came across Joy the Baker's blog post here about making your own vanilla extract.  I was intrigued.  I am a HUGE fan of vanilla and the vanilla bean and it never dawned on me that I could make my own extract.

So I began sourcing high quality extract grade beans.  I found Vanilla Products USA on ebay here where I purchased a couple of small bundles of extract grade vanilla.  I closely followed the tutorial here and found some lonely vodka on my bar.

It is not necessary to use high quality vodka like the Ketel One (above)...honest, I used what was on hand.  


After several months of submission, I found amber glass jars and bottle wax to seal the deal.


I put personal message on the waterproof labels scored at  I also put a small vanilla bean in the jar so vodka can be added to it for lifetime use.


One of the possible bu-products is vanilla sugar.  Never to waste a good product, I made some by covering the beans in sugar.


I've used some in peach cobbler and baking items...even on oatmeal and grits (an acquired taste). ~ksp

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mind Your Beeswax

Earlier in the year I was surveying blog land and I came across this post from 3191 Miles Apart for a home-made wood conditioner.  I have several beloved new and old wood kitchen products that are near and dear to me like my cutting board, my long-handled spoons and a few wood tools (e.g. the ice pick).

So, to protect them, I got out the double boiler and got to work.  I followed the recipe which is simply one part beeswax to one part mineral oil....and easy peasy...

1lb brick of unrefined beeswax
I bought some unrefined beeswax in bricks from a vendor on ebay.  I do not recommend bricks of this size.  First, if you need anything less than a full pound, it's a #@@! to cut into smaller pieces.  Also, it takes a while for it to melt completely due to its size.  My future purchases were made at GloryBee Foods in the unrefined, cosmetic grade beeswax.used a quart mason jars to simultaneously mix the hindsight, not the best choice.  They were very difficult to handle, once hot. 

I went to the Container Store and got some hermetic jars to hold my newest wood alixir.
Finished product in these jars

Wood Butter...ready to be gifted and pressed into service in the kitchen. ~ksp

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Little Things

I repotted my house plants that had long overgrown their pots...satisfaction. ~ksp

Snake plant on office window sill.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Test Your TV Knowledge-A Contest

I am not a fan of party games...but as the Hostess with the Most-est...the baby shower called for games and I had to deliver.  Of course, since I am so particular, I created my own games.

This game is to list the TV mother with their TV show.  For example:
Samantha Stephens/Bewitched
Just for it is for your participation.  We'll do this using the honor system, you cannot use the internet (e.g. google) or a partner to complete the list.  The entrant with the most correct answers win a prize from the fiber stash.

Using a numbered list, report the character's name followed by the name of the TV show. The contest will close at midnight EST on June 18, 2011.

Have fun. ~ksp

Friday, June 10, 2011

Butter Me Up!

I am a planner at when it comes to throwing a party, the planning comes naturally.

As I metioned earlier, my BFF and her husband are expecting as as part of my "Best Aunite in the World" duties, I hosted not one, but two baby showers.

The colors for the party were pink and yellow and the theme was "Walk in the Sunshine"**. We worked baby footprints (like the ones below)into some of the elements...although the ones we used are pink and carried the shower theme into favors.

I scoured several sources to get decent body butter/cream recipes. I had a few criteria.  I wanted to use all natural ingredients.  Natural to the point that you could eat it with no ill effects.  I also wanted products with citrus scents and I wanted something practical that would be used.

I started with some unrefined cosmetic grade beeswax and added equal proportions of shea butter mineral oil.  I also added citrus essential oil.

Melting solids in a double boiler.
The ingredients in a liquid state
Wand-mixing while the ingredients cooled

I wanted more of a whipped texture and so I whipped out the handy wand mixer.  It took forever, because it cooled very slowly.

Amber PET jars from here.
The finished result....
Body Butter

It was added to the bag (below) with other bath-related items including: a bath scrunchie, a duck-shaped pumice stone, some product samples and a made-by-me bath bomb.

Favor Bag

Everyone loved the party and the food and the favors and most of all the honoree...can't wait to become an auntie. ~ksp

** We call her "Sunshine" because of her constant bright and sunshiny disposition...NOT!