Sunday, January 24, 2016

Celtic Solstice In Black


You will remember last October I embarked on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice.  My goal was to finish it before she started Allietare.  Ah, best laid plans of mice and men right?  Let's just say, life got in the way.  Somehow Christmas came too fast and then I came down with a terrible cold so here we are marching on to Valentines day with the hope that I will get the top finished in time to give to my sweet husband who has been patiently waiting. Yesterday I finished the blocks!



What is it like to make a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt you may wonder.  It's not for the faint of heart...lol.  This particular quilt is King Size.  Chain piecing helps.  Bonnie is known for her scrappy quilts and you need to pull lots of fabrics and lots of scraps if you want that scrappy look.  For this quilt, I wanted a little bit of scrappy goodness but I also wanted to simplify the process a bit.

This was my inspiration for my color palette:


And this is how it translated into fabric for me:


There are lots of steps along the way and this is definitely a quilt that would be fun to stitch with company.  Get a group of gals together that want to make the same quilt and tackle each step together.  The chatter will make the time go by faster and you can spur each other on to the finish! Here is a little brief photo synopsis of the process. 



Yes, it's a long and winding road making a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.  But worth the effort!  Here is a larger picture of my quilt inspector making sure that all the greens and lavenders are going in the right directions!  The quilt blocks are laid out but not stitched together, that will be today's work. There comes a moment when I am working on one of her design that I reach that wall of boredom, the repetition starts to get to me, but you must persevere!  It IS worth the effort.  


More pictures will be forth coming once the quilt is finished and quilted.  Yes, there are thousands of pieces to this quilt, yes it takes a bit of effort to make it, yes you will love it when you start to see it come together. 


Okay, I am off to my sewing machine to get these blocks stitched together.  Then the borders will be attached and I will have that overwhelming sense of satisfaction at a job well done!


If you want to make your own...it's not too late to get the pattern. Bonnie places her Mystery quilt patterns online while the mystery is unfolding, they are free to download, then she takes them down for inclusion in a future book.  She is now making them available as stand alone patterns for purchase on her blog site.  Here is the link for her digital download: http://quiltville.com/shop.html#!/Celtic-Solstice-Digital-Pattern/p/51121504/category=13038426

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Biscotti Recipe Collection by Request


Biscotti, they're not just for Christmas! Apparently they were a hit and I have had several requests for recipes. If you have never made Biscotti before, don't be intimidated. They are just about the easiest cookie to make and they keep well. Traditionally a very hard cookie made for dipping into a hot drink.  

I made four different biscotti over the holiday, top left: Dried Cherry and Pistachio with a white chocolate drizzle, top right: traditional Sicilian Anise, lower left: Butter Pecan, and lower right: Triple Chocolate. Below are the recipes, I am including a link to each one, you can get to their sites by clicking on the titles. If you have never made Biscotti before, click on the link for the Triple Chocolate Biscotti as there is a great pictorial tutorial.




YIELD
Makes about 4 dozen

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 cup dried cherries
    • 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

PREPARATION

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and next 5 ingredients. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; beat until combined. Fold in cherries and pistachios.
    2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into a 16"-long log. Brush off excess flour; transfer logs to prepared sheet, spaced 5" apart. Flatten each log into a 2"-wide strip. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until browned and set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 250°F and arrange 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third.
    3. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally into 1/3"-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheets. Bake biscotti, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
    4. My note: to drizzle with white chocolate, melt your chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 second interval until it is melted (be careful not to over heat and scorch your chocolate). Spoon the melted chocolate into a small Ziploc bag and snip one corner, drizzle over your biscotti and let set until cool. I place my biscotti on a cookie rack and then place a cookie sheet under the rack to catch the overflow.  Keeps the mess down and you can reuse that overflow chocolate.
Traditional Sicilian Anise Biscotti
Recipe given to me by my mother


mix together the following ingredients:
1 cup of white sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon anise seed

sift together 2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

add dry ingredients to your wet mixture and just mix until moist.

dump out onto a floured board, lightly press dough together into a ball and divide into two pieces.

with oiled hands, on a piece of parchment paper on top of your cookie sheet, shape dough into logs about 13 x 2" long and press flat. Make sure they are a couple inches apart and bake in a preheated oven 350F for about 35 minutes.

remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes and then slice cookies, return to your cookie sheet and place in the top 1/3 of your oven at 325F for 15 minutes or until golden.





  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl midway through.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a cohesive, well-blended dough.
  4. Add the nuts and butterscotch chips, mixing until they're well-distributed throughout the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a work surface. Divide it into three fairly equal pieces, and shape each piece into a rough 10" log.
  6. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3" between each log; you may or may not need to use both baking sheets. Wet your fingers, and pat the logs into smooth-topped rectangles 10" long x 2 1/2" wide x 7/8" thick.
  7. Bake the logs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're beginning to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
  8. Gently transfer the logs to a cutting surface, and use a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal into 1/2"-wide slices. Because of the nuts and the nature of the dough, the biscotti at this point are prone to crumbling; just be sure to use a slow, gentle sawing motion, and accept the fact that some bits and pieces will break off. (It's the privilege of the cook to eat these warm, tasty bits and pieces as they're created.)
  9. Carefully transfer the slices, cut sides up (and down) to a parchment-lined (makes cleanup easier) or ungreased baking sheet. You can crowd them together, as they won't expand further; about 1/4" breathing space is all that's required.
  10. Return the biscotti to the 300°F oven, and bake them for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, quickly turn them over, and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until they're very dry and beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, cool completely, and store in an airtight container.
  11. Yield: about 60 biscotti.
MY NOTE:  All of these recipes are delicious, but the Butter Pecan was by far the most popular.





Double Chocolate Biscotti

Servings: About 30 biscotti
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup + plus 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tablespoons Confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dust a work surface with flour. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sticky dough out onto the work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough ball (if it's still too sticky, dust with a bit more flour) and cut in half. Form the dough pieces into two short logs by rolling back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into longer logs about 3/4-inch high and 2 inches wide. Allow enough space for the logs to spread a few inches while they bake. Bake for about 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Let the biscotti logs cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to touch (if you wait any longer, the biscotti will be difficult to cut); then, using a sharp knife, slice the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices (I do this right on the baking sheet). They will crumble just a bit; don't worry about it. Turn the biscotti on their sides (so that the cut sides are down) and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp up. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When cool, push all the biscotti together (this prevents the Confectioners sugar from getting on the sides of the cookies) and use a fine sieve to dust with Confectioners sugar. Serve with coffee, tea or warm milk.
  6. MY NOTE: Her recipe is called Double Chocolate Biscotti.  I made mine Triple Chocolate by melting dark chocolate and dipping just the bottom of each biscotti into the melted chocolate.  You could dip one end or drizzle, what ever you like.
  1. There you have it, all in once place, a nice collection of amazing biscotti recipies.  All personally tested and approved by me!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and those that I gifted over the holiday.  Don't wait for Christmas to make them, they are wonderful anytime!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Colors For The New Year




Pantone has come out with their 2016 colors of the year...yes, that was plural!  They have selected two colors for 2016. Rose Quartz and Serenity.



Like many of you I was initially uninspired and disappointed in this selection.  Unless I am making a plethora of baby quilts this year, this didn't really stimulate my color palette.


To the rescue, the color gurus at Pantone have put together a color card that you can use to expand the options for mixing these two colors into your repertoire.  Click on this link to a PDF page for you to print.  It will help you select colors for your quilts that will be trendy for 2016.  A little "think outside the box" help for us.


Check out Spoonflower.com for some new and exciting cutting edge designs that will incorporate these "new" colors. Search their site for Pink and Pale Blue and you will be amazed at the options to select from.  Give yourself a color exercise, dig through your stash and without a project in mind, just pull fabrics that work in these color schemes.  

Moda Fabrics.com has incorporated the colors into several of their lines.


Moda also has a great little Palette Builder. Upload your photo and it will automatically pick the colors for you. If you love the colors in your photo, you will love the colors in your quilt.  Below is a sample. You can save it to your computer and print it out to take shopping with you, even if you are only shopping your stash!


The Palette generator will even provide you with the Moda fabric suggestions for those colors. If you have trouble picking colors this will take the guess work out of the process for you.


Here's looking forward to a year of exciting creative quilting! Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!


Monday, November 23, 2015

#GIVEAWAY 25 Fat Quarters - Update


UPDATE:  Our Winner is Terri Miller!  Congratulations Terri!

     We are giving away 25 Fat Quarters!  A surprise package stuffed with fabric and some special goodies just for you!  Don't miss out, here is how to enter:

#1.  LIKE our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/SisterOfTheDivide.

#2.  SHARE our Facebook post on your page.

#3.  COMMENT, leave a comment on our Facebook post, let us know what you most want for Christmas.

That's it!  Yes, I know...EASY!  Nothing to purchase ever. Drawing will be held on December 20th, 2015.  Winner will be notified by announcement on our Facebook page also by reply to your post and by personal message.  You will need to provide your mailing address and that is all.  Your address will never be used other than to mail your gift.  No catches. Good Luck Quilters!!!
* * *
I've been working on a quilt for my husband for Christmas, it's a former Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt...Celtic Solstice.  I printed out her pattern at the time she posted it but I didn't have time to stitch along with everyone else.  If you want the pattern, you can go to her website www.Quiltville.com and in her shop there is a download link which will take you to the pattern download. Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Pattern Link

I'm having fun. In my last post to you, I shared my selection of colors.  In this post, I will catch you up.


You may remember that these are the colors I selected with a black background.  Some of these have gone by the wayside as I wanted a jewel toned effect, so I opted for more depth of color in my selections.  As with other Bonnie Hunter Mysteries, she takes you on her personal journey, her inspiration as she develops the mystery and her design inspiration through the process of building the quilt. This is one of the things I enjoy most about her mysteries. So I jumped in! 


Pulling enough different fabrics to give it a scrappy effect without spending a lot of time digging through my scraps.  After all, Bonnie is starting a new mystery quilt Allietare on November 27th!  I have to dig through my scraps to get ready for that!  Whew, two of her mystery quilts back to back.  I will be using the Celtic Solstice pieces as leaders and enders in the hopes that I can keep up...lol!  I had been hoping to get it finished before she started but life gets in the way.  Bonnie's new mystery quilt pattern will be online and free until February 2016 at which time, it will be taken down and you will need to go to her store to purchase it.  This is your opportunity to enjoy this process!  If you are too busy, download the clues and make the quilt when your time allows!  



One of the FREE online programs I love is www.bighugelabs.com 
Using the mosaic maker program I can put my blocks in to see what the effect will be. There will be more color variety in the finished quilt but this gives me a good idea of where I am going.

Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice by Karen Meyer

So far I am happy with the results.  Fit for a King!


Definitely fit for my sweet husband!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice - Yes I know I'm a bit late!


When Bonnie Hunter started her Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt in 2013, I made sure I printed out all of her directions.  Her mystery quilts are always fun.  No time that year to undertake another project so this has been in my "Que".  So this year, before Ms. Bonnie gets started on her next mystery quilt, I am going to knock this one out for my husband for Christmas.  

I've made two of Bonnie's mystery quilts so far, Easy Street and Grand Illusion.  I totally love Easy Street!  It lives on my bed and it will be quite a while before it is replaced with another.

Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt Easy Street by Karen Meyer

Last year's quilt, Grand Illusion, was not my favorite.  The color palette didn't sing to me but it was fun to put together and after it was all said and done, I was satisfied with my work.

Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt by Karen Meyer

What I love about a Bonnie Hunter quilt designs is her scrappy approach and the ability to use up some fabrics that I might otherwise not be quite so enamoured with.  It's a great way to clear out some of your older stash, you know, stuff you may have purchased and then decided that it wasn't quite right for that particular quilt you were working on.  So you put it in your stash and it's been there for a thousand years, staring at you, taunting you.  This is an opportunity to clear it out and make room for something you love!


My husband has been consulting with me on the color selections for "his" quilt.  He loves purple and black so I am pulling fabrics that will give me that black read for the background and swapping out royal jewel colors for the ones in the original color palette.  I'm thinking the wild purples of the English heather...


The emerald greens of the bracken...


Of course there will be sapphire blue...



red garnet...

And gold...


Here is my initial pull, there will be tons of scraps that get worked in.


On to the cutting board we go for round 1.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Millefiori La Passacaglia Quilt Along Link Up 1


Here we go!  Time to start linking up.  If you don't already have the book and materials to get started, I will refer you to a prior post which lists what you will need to get going. Click on the link and you can get together the items you'll need.



Some rules for the link up:

1. You may post once during each link up.
2. You must link back to this post.. 
3. Advertisers, please be respectful and don't post unless you are quilting along with us.  If you do, you will be removed and blocked. Should you wish to advertise on my blog, please contact me directly and we can discuss that separate from this link up.


Each month as we move along, you can join in anytime!  I am excited to see what you are putting together.  If you have hints and tips that you feel will be helpful, please send them along to me at SisterOfTheDivide@gmail.com




My first tip to you is, in additon to obtaining Willyne Hammersteins's book Millefiori Quilts, if you are just learning English Paper Piecing, I would strongly suggest that you also purchase Diane Gilleland's book All Points Patchwork.  It is an excellent resourse to help you with how to manage your fabric around your paper pieces. You can get a digital download pretty inexpensively $9.99 on Amazon.com.


Tip two: if you are not going to purchase the acrylic templates from PaperPieces.com then I suggest that you purchase some inexpensive template plastic, you don't need a large sheet, from your local craft or quilt shop and create some templates for yourself.  This will help you to fussy cut your fabric and to keep your pieces neat.  It will ensure that you are cutting a piece large enough to actually properly encompass your paper piece.   

To do this, I put a little dab of glue on a template, placed it on the plastic and used my ruler to draw around it with a fine point indelible marker, then measure again, 1/4 inch away from your paper piece and draw another set of lines.  This will be your selvage and will fold over your paper piece.   By using template plastic you can easily mark key points on your fabric to line up your pieces for fussy cutting.  Mark your templates with the pattern piece alpha letter so that you are using the proper template.



Tip three: I have never used the glue method before, I am a convert!  The pieces for La Passacaglia are so small that it really makes it fast and easy to get your pieces pasted and ready to stitch together. Drawback, removal and reuse of the papers is not really practical. Here is a picture of the backside of my starting rosette. You can see that it makes for a very neat and tidy result.  



There is a great group of folks on Facebook and I would encourage you to join that group, lots of inspiration and good camaraderie. You can find them by searching Millefiori/ La Passacaglia English Paper Piecing.

On their site is a great little link for The Flat Back Stitch a tutorial which is posted here: The Flat Back Stitch on the DIY Addict Blog.

Alrighty then! Open for link up!




Sunday, September 6, 2015

Walk In The Park


Labor Day Weekend, staying off the road and enjoying my time working on a "Walk In The Park" designed by Debbie Caffrey.This quilt pattern is published in 4 installments in Quilt Maker Magazine, with the first installment being published in their March/April 2015 issue.





If I'm working on a detailed pattern and I'm switching up the colors from what is illustrated, it helps to have a little guide next to me as a reference.  On this paper, I glue swatches of each of the fabrics and number them to correspond to the fabrics in the pattern. Just an inexpensive glue stick works fine.  I list the name of the quilt, who designed it, the finish size, quantities of fabric needed for both the top and the backing.  I slip it into a plastic sleeve and I'm ready to go.  It helps to keep things straight when there are lots of pieces.

It would be helpful to list where you purchased your fabric, incase you want more.  In this instance I am shopping from my stash.  

One of the gals on my Facebook page says that she copies her pattern and puts it in the sleeve as well, thus preserving her magazine copy. 


Friday afternoon was spent selecting fabric and cutting.  Saturday I started sewing in the evening and decided to stay up into the wee hours. I think it was about 1am or 2 by the time I finally got to bed. The basic components were assembled. Installment 1 was completed and all was right with the world. 

Sewing at night is the best.  It's quiet. There are no interruptions. The cool night air was drifting in through the window and it was perfectly still outside.  We live in the woods and you would think it's normally very quiet at night, but actually it's not. There is a lot going on out there most nights, deer, raccoon, bear, skunks, owls, squirrels...etc.  They are a busy bunch!  But last night it was very quiet, just the sound of my sewing machine as I chain pieced the segments.






Today I spent time with my husband, made some cookies and worked on the second installment.  Tomorrow I will be finishing up installment 2 and moving on to installment 3.


If you want to make this quilt, you can order past issues of Quilt Maker Magazine here: http://www.quiltmaker.com/issues/index.html

I hope you will check back for updates to this post as I finish each segment.