Monday, November 28, 2011

Help request

There may be a temporary dearth, or complete absence, of posts regarding new creations for a while.  I am full-tilt into Holiday sewing, and gift-sewing mode, and cannot posts gifts that haven't been gifted, yet.
I do, however, have one quick project looming that isn't a surprise, and i could use a little advice:

I am piecing a quilt top out of all Minkie fabric.  It's a pre-cut kit, that was on sale at a great price.
Because the Minkie stretches quite a bit, I am wonder how best to handle all the stitiching required for a blanket.
My options are:  my Pfaffie, with its incomparable walking foot; or the Baby Lock serger with Differential feed.  Because I am joining minkie to minkie, the differential feed setting ought, theoretically, be Neutral, but that may well not be the case, and I like having the option of making adjustments as I go. 

The serger uses a LOT more thread, and, since it's a blanket, ravels aren't an issue, so I can't really justify the expense, or added bulk.  But sergers go really fast, and -- well --  I like that!!!

Still, Pfaffie has never let me down, and she's all ready threaded with the right type/size needle and the right colour of thread, and the 1/4in. guided foot.

Since this was a pre-cut kit, I don't have any remnants with which to experiment, so I appreciate having the benefit of my readers' experience.

Any thoughts???

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sarahbelle's Superb MacCheese

Note:  This recipe, is the Gluten-Free version of my original, classic dish.  It differs from the original only in the grains used for the flour and the pasta.  Using traditional, wheat flour and pasta does not change any of the amounts, cooking times etc.    Easy cheesy.  {sorry. very bad pun.}
*Note 2:  the recipe calls for half-and-half, which I never buy.  I always have milk and heavy cream on hand, so why buy a third, seldom used ingredient??  If this does not apply to you, use half-and-half.
*Note3:  I like a mix of shapes.  Large Elbows are preferred by my family, and they come in a handy 1-lb. bag.  To that I like to add some farfalle. (bow ties).  I think it's pretty.  You should use whatever shape and size you like.


1/3 Cup  GF AP flour blend of your choice
1tsp Lawry's Seasoned salt
1/2  tsp  dry mustard
1/4 tsp  white pepper
 1/3 Cup butter   (NOT margarine  --  I'm NOT kidding!!!)
*1 qt. half-and-half
*1 1/4 lb. corn/rice macaroni.
Lots of cheese.
Lots of coarsely shredded cheese.
The details vary somewhat (according to what is on hand, in the fridge, or on sale), but one has some standards. (!)  here are mine:
Approximately 1 1/2 pounds, total, of which 1 pound must be Longhorn Colby.  [I am particularly fond of H-E-B's house brand, but if you don't live in Texas, you'll just have to do your best.], and 1 thick slice of Smoked Gouda, from the deli.  [I always have them cut 2 or 3 slices, to insure that 1 will actually go into the MacCheese.] For the remainder of the cheese, scour your fridge for leftover bits of Swiss, Cheddar, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Butterkase, Havarti, Fontina, Romano.  Avoid Mozzarella and Provolone as they tend to stretch a bit. On the other hand, if someone is coming to dinner that you don't particularly like - stretchy cheese can be funny.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Butter a deep 3-qt casserole dish or stoneware baker.
In small bowl, thoroughly mix flour, salt, mustard, pepper.  Set aside.
Fill stockpot with 6 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil.  Salt liberally.
While waiting for water to boil: in heavy 3-qt saucepan, over med-high heat, melt butter.  When butter  has begun to brown, take it off the stove, and whisk in dry ingredients.  Return to heat, and gradually add half-and-half, whisking to blend smoothly.  Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally while sauce thickens.  [BTW:  you just made a Basic White Sauce, here.  Keep this in your back pocket for the basis of many great sauces and casseroles.] When thickened, use a wooden or silicone spoon to add appr. 2/3 of shredded cheese.
Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente (Italian: "to the tooth"  ie: firm), drain well.
In buttered dish, layer half of pasta, third of remaining cheese, half of sauce.  Repeat.  Mix all layers somewhat.  Sprinkle on remaining cheese.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until bubbly, and smell is beginning to draw a crowd.

I promise.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Piece-y Work

This little outfit for my sweet granddaughter, Emma Rose, came about during quilt class.

As previously mentioned, I am taking a block-of-the-month class at Scharmann's in Longview.  The blocks are coming along nicely.  The zig-zag sashing, triangle insertions, and and block borders - not so well.
In September's class, the instructor mentioned that 4 of the squares we were constructing would not be used.  Why construct them??    Let me explain:   These are made of half-square triangles (HST).  Made by cutting squares, then sewing two squares together, with 2 seams diagonally, and cutting between the stitching lines, the result is 2 identical squares made of identical triangles.

As soon as she said that we wouldn't need them, I asked if we were to save them for a future block (3 more months/blocks in the quilt, after all).  I was told no, to throw them away.   Throw them away????  Toss something pretty on which I have labored????   I hardly think so!    My mind immediately started churning with possibilities.    Embellish a throw pillow??  Book mark?  Kitty necklace??    Then I thought of how nice the batiks we were using would look against denim.   Knowing I had some denim in my prodigious stash, I set about mentally planning the ensemble.   With the squares sewn together in a line, it would be just the right length to embellish a little jumper for Emma Rose.  By the time class ended, I knew the jumper needed a coordinating shirt, and a piping border edging the strip of piecework would be just the thing.  I purchased a half-yard of the blue batik, which I really liked next to denim, and, after completing the block, I went to work.

I couldn't find a jumper pattern in Emma's size in my collection that I really liked for this, but I found the Burda for Kids 9829 that also had a great little shirt.  I know this will get used again!
I even followed the pattern's advice and added ruched strips to the shirt's front.  Cute, nes pas??
I debated about the very heavy, clunky ceramic buttons  --  they seem a bit weighty for so little a girl  --  but aren't they perfect with the batiks??
I can't wait to see Emma in this!!