18 March, 2012

Just Too Pretty To Use

I just ordered thread from Connecting Threads. They have really great prices on their sets of thread. I ordered three sets pictured here, that's 37 large spools, but their deals are even better if you catch them when they are offering their sets for 30% off.  I still need to order another set or two in order to completely fill my thread rack with the same sized spools, 'cause that thread rack needs to be full of matching spools.

Some of my quilting friends only use those very pricey threads.  I have never had ready access to such threads and have managed just fine, thank you very much, with just plain old whatever-is-available thread. Sometimes I think that there is a certain amount of thread snob appeal.  If I am going to succumb to snob appeal, it's going to be for something way bigger than thread, like a brand new Lexus, maybe.

I know, I know..., I'm nuts to want my thread rack to look nice, but it always looked so untidy with all of those different sized spools with different labels.  It REALLY made me crazy when the labels would fall off and the top of the plastic spool was visible.  Aaarrggghhhh!!! Those ugly spools are all now stashed in a drawer, out of sight.

There is probably a name and acronym for this weird matchy disorder of mine, maybe something like TTA... short for "Tidy Thread Analness".  Hey,... maybe I can start a support group for my fellow sufferers of TTA. Raise your hand if you have TTA!  Raise it high! Anybody....?  Come on, admit it.  Own your TTA-ness!

OK, I get it.  It's probably just me in the TTA support group, just one... solitary... lonely... member.  I'll bring the cookies to the meetings.

17 March, 2012

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf

Our family enjoys my Neopolitan Meatloaf, especially on a cold and rainy day.  This recipe is best described in two words... Comfort Food!  Notice how the recipe cleverly inserts spinach into the works.  That's GENIUS!  I found this recipe years ago in Woman's Day magazine and it can be found here:


I have altered the Woman's Day recipe a bit to better suit our needs.  I have increased the amounts of the ingredients in order to have one of those wonderful, Cook Once/Eat Twice meals.   I'm crazy about that concept.  It's kind of like a little present, just for me, when I go to the freezer and find that I have our dinner entree' already prepared.

I should also mention here, especially with all of the recent news regarding the use of "Pink Slime" in ground beef, that I buy mine at Costco, and from what I can learn online, Costco does not use that disgusting stuff! Thank goodness.  I don't cook with ground beef very often, but I certainly do not want that gak mixed in.

So here is my version of ...

Neopolitan Meatloaf

Serves: 8
Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep Time: 25 min


  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 2 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 slices of firm white bread
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 1   16 oz. bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed.
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • about 15 very thin slices (about 4 oz.) of salami (We prefer hard salami.)

So let's begin.  Place the chopped spinach in a colander to drain off any liquid.  Then squeeze it dry.  This step is important.  You want your chopped spinach to be somewhat flaky.

Cut up the three slices of bread.  I used Cracked Wheat Sourdough here but any firm white bread will do.
  I like the cubes to be small, under a half inch square. 

 Place three eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk. 

                                   Add the bread cubes to the whisked eggs, mix and set aside.

Meanwhile, saute' the chopped red pepper and onion in the oil.  Add the two cloves of minced garlic.  
Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned and soft.  Remove from heat.

Next, add the two pounds of ground beef to the egg/bread mixture in the large bowl.  Add the onion/pepper mixture and mix everything together, using your hands.  Really get in there and mix it up. No photo necessary here, we all know what mixed up meat loaf looks like, don't we?

Pat out the meat mixture on a sheet of foil until it measures about 19" by 10".  
And yes, I am just geeky enough to use a measuring tape to get it just right.

Then begin layering the chopped spinach, then the grated mozzarella.
Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

The final layer is the salami slices.  Then roll up the entire works, jelly-roll style,
beginning at the shorter edge.  Be sure to seal the edge and the ends, otherwise the 
cheese will make it's Houdini-esque escape while the meatloaf cooks. 

At this point, the thing is huge!, kind of like the "Meatloaf That Ate Chicago", so carefully place the loaf in a baking dish and pop this monster in the oven set at 350 degrees for 70 minutes.  Let it stand for about 10 minutes when it comes out of the oven.  

Slice, serve and enjoy!

We like to have this with roasted red potatoes and green beans or asparagus, stir-fried with a tiny bit of olive oil along with some fresh garlic.  
Top that off with a green salad and you have a delicious, hearty meal.  

09 March, 2012

Glutton for Punishment or Just Plain Nuts?

Am I crazy or what?  I have just begun making a hexagon quilt.  I have been busily basting 1930's reproduction fabrics to 7/8 inch pre-cut hexagon paper foundation pieces. I really love the way that my fabrics look, all stacked up here in the photo. All I need to do is make a few thousand more of these little hexagon thingies and I will have enough pieces to make a quilt! All work is done by hand and if I thought that my fingers were sore from sewing down all of that binding that I mentioned in a previous post, I had another think coming

As an aside here... my father always used that same phrase, "You've got another think coming", especially when he would say, "If you think that you are leaving the house in that short skirt, you've got another think coming!".  That was long ago and far away, back in the late '60's, the era of the mini-skirt and I kind of rocked those short skirts. Wow, that was a blast from the past!  I just heard my Dad in my head..

My inspiration here was the quilt made by Patti R., pictured above.  She's a newer member of the Guild and this was her quilt that she shared at our recent retreat in Gold Beach. We each layed a quilt that we had made on our beds and then we had a little room-to-room quilt show. I was completely captivated by Patti's quilt!  I quizzed her about just how she put this thing together, she was so incredibly helpful and as soon as I got home from the retreat I dug out my 1930's fabrics and ordered the green fabric for my "garden paths".  Then Patti invited me to her beautiful 1920's vintage home to go through her amazing collection of 1930's reproduction fabrics and choose what I liked to add to my quilt!  My quilt-to-be and I are absolutely indebted to her.  I imagine women long ago, making quilts using this same pattern, sharing bits and pieces of their fabrics with their friends...

To continue, I have always loved handwork and that makes this project perfect for me.  It will take forever, and then even a little longer, but I am trying to grow myself some serious patience here, something that I have often been a bit short of.

I love the portability of it all.  I carry my little vintage sewing basket along with me wherever I go.  I make hexagons while Mr. T. and I are traveling from one place to another in the car, while waiting on our meal in a restaurant, while attending the Grand Boys baseball games, or during the lulls while I am making dinner. This is like found time to sew, little moments that turn in to productive opportunities, one tiny hexagon at a time.

I knew that there was a certain way to sew these little hexagons together into the flower blocks so I did some looking around online to see if I could find the directions. I laughed out loud, I LOL'ed, when I found the directions that I was looking for. They were posted on a website called Quilt-O-Rama and the post was titled "How to Make a Hexagon Quilt in 492 Easy Steps" !!!

I am indeed, crazy nuts....!

03 March, 2012

All Quilts, All The Time

I feel as if I have been totally immersed in quilting for the last two weeks, beginning with our 1st Annual UVQG Guild Retreat at Gold Beach with 30 Guild friends, and also finishing up the two quilts that I shared recently.  Add in a Guild work group that I led just after returning from the retreat and I'm a bit maxed out at the moment.

I seriously need to hold off on the quilting/sewing for a few days. I have 52 rose bushes that are screaming at me that they need pruning, and tons of other yard and garden related tasks that I want to take care of. But late last week our guest speaker at Guild was Marsha McCloskey, the Queen of the Feathered Star.  Google her.  She's... well... she's right up my alley. I so admire women who have made their way in the quilting world.  So many of them are women who are just like me, mothers and homemakers who have found their creative outlet by using a sewing machine, fabric and scissors. (Make that rotary cutters for we modern quilters!, but we all started with scissors, didn't we?.)

The Guild contracted with Marsha to lead us in workshop on her Radiant Star block the following day. This was a workshop that I could not possibly pass up!, even with all of those rose bushes waiting on me. Marsha is a thorough and patient teacher.  Now my head is just about to burst with all of my new knowledge on how to draft my own Feathered Star pattern, how to use her amazing techniques for cutting all of those tiny one inch triangle squares and new tricks for piecing.  I finished my very own Radiant Star block pictured above, early the next morning.  I was up at 5:30 a.m. to sew.  I just couldn't sleep until I finished it.

 My Feathered Star - 1993
I had made the Feathered Star quilt pictured above about 20 years ago.  Wait... was it really that long ago? Am I really that old?  OK,... I guess I am...  Anyway,  I made this quilt for our son, the G-man.  He was 12 years old when I completed it.  I won a ribbon for it at the quilt show in Auburn CA that year. The quilt was on his bed from the time that he was a boy up until the time that he was young a man.  It was queen sized and hand quilted.  I'll say that again.  It was hand quilted.  But then... the quilt was lost.  I won't go in to how that happened, I don't know the details, it really doesn't matter, but suffice it to say that when you gift a quilt, it is out of your hands. I love my only son, this quilt is somewhere in the wind, but the G-man is older and smarter these days and I will make him another quilt. His older sister, "Butterfly", thinks that his ex-girlfriend confiscated it when they parted ways....  It could have happened, and if it did, I hope that she enjoys it.  But in reality, I'm betting that it's a dog bed or a painting tarp.

Marsha McCloskey's radiant star block has 115 pieces in it!  Well, I think that's how many pieces there were.  It was really hard to count them all. The Radiant Star block is so beautifully complex.  I have chosen these materials to make another block, and if I love it as much as I think that I will, I will make a whole quilt using these pretty Robyn Pandolph fabrics.  Making another Feathered Star quilt has been right up there on my Quilt Bucket List for a very long time.