Monday, July 28, 2014

Taco Soup

We've been having an unusually cool summer this year.  Today I had my sweatshirt on all day!  Even though I don't normally make soup in the summer, today just called for it.  My family's favorite soup by far is Taco Soup.  Similar to chili, it is one of those stick to your ribs sort of soup.

1 lb of hamburger (optional)
1 med onion, chopped - fry with meat or saute in oil if omitting meat.
2 quarts tomatoes
1 pint corn
1 can kidney beans
1 pkg taco seasoning

Pour everything in a crock-pot and simmer on low for 4 hours. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and corn chips or crusty bread.

NOTE:  If you are in a hurry, this soup can be simmered on the stove for 15 minutes and then served. As with most soups, longer simmering enhances the flavors.  This soup is even better reheated the next day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quilting lessons I learned from the Raspberry patch

This week my black raspberries were ready for picking.  I had planted these bushes three years ago and was excited to get a few berries last year.  This year my bushes were loaded!  As I picked the berries, I noticed that if I looked into the bushes at different angles, I saw berries that I would have missed, had I only stood and picked, never bending over or squatting down.

This got me thinking about quilting and how fabrics look different depending on how you view them.  I miss so much if I don't take the time to lay out my fabric choices and spend time looking at them from all angles and in different lighting.

After my berries were put up into jam, I sat down to work on a quilt I had just started.  Thinking I knew how the block went together, I skipped the step of laying the pieces out ahead of time.  When I went to lay the completed blocks out on the floor, I realized I had sewed the background strips onto the wrong sides of the star block.  

Just like looking at fabrics and berry bushes from different angles is important, so is the step of  laying out the block before sewing.  I would have saved myself an hours worth of unsewing with that simple step!

The correct block is on the left, can you see the mistake?

Life Lesson:  Problems in our life can also be solved by looking at them from different angles and perspectives.  Asking friends for their perspective can also be beneficial.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fix It and Forget it, then get back to quilting!

I am always looking for easy meals to feed my family,which includes two growing teenage boys!  My motto about cooking is, "I cook to live and live to quilt!"  I try to find recipes that take no more than 15 minutes to prep, because I've found that you can do anything for 15 minutes, even if it's something you dislike.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Seam Rippers . . . Friend or Foe?

Tools of the trade...all quilters have them, right? They are so fun to have and hold, well most of them are.  See that evil little white tool in the middle?  Why would anyone in their right mind want one of those in their Christmas stocking?

For ten years I was a self taught quilter.  My husband gave me the gift of an afternoon away from my three preschool aged children, and I used that afternoon to take my first class on quilting.  When the class began the first words I heard from the teacher were, "Let the seam ripper become your friend."  Believe me, like most people I've encountered, friend is not the word I associate with a seam ripper.  I spent most of my life trying to avoid the seam ripper, generally with ever worsening results where my quilt creation was concerned.  I was beginning to wonder if I had spent my money wisely on this class.  Was the teacher out of her mind?

That single sentence, however, has become the best advice I've been given on my journey.  When you decide to allow the seam ripper to be a friend the accumulative mistakes, which cause distorted blocks and borders, disappear!

I have to admit that I still get disgusted with myself when I realize I need to rip a seam out.  But now I just shake my head, pick up my well worn ripper, turn up the volume on my CD player, and gently pick out the offending stitches.

If I hadn't made friends with my seam ripper, the following quilt would have most likely have ended up as a UFO!  I'm glad I turned up the CD player and picked away.
Stars from the Past, a wedding quilt for my sister

Life Lesson:  Just like sewing, in our personal life we sometimes need to get out the "seam ripper" and remove things like bad habits or caustic relationships.  It is never fun, but the end result is always beautiful.