Thursday, February 27, 2014

My first quilt

For Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd post a the first baby quilt I made a few years ago for a friend in Tokyo.  Somehow, I managed to not take any photos of the finished quilt as I was rushing to get it over to their place between busy overseas travel.  But they helped me manage to get a few shots even with the new baby in the room.  Talk about friendship!

My friend loves strawberries, and I had a fun time picking out the strawberry fabric and some precious animal prints.  But when it came to quilting it, I wasn't sure if I was up to the task, so this one was all tied.  Almost 4 years later, I hope the ties are still holding fast!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Welcome Nanami!

The theme of 2014 so far has been to finish what I've started.  I'm now all settled into our new apartment and gone are the busy travel schedules of the last few years.  It's just me and all the projects I started or dreamed up during those last few years in Tokyo.  First up is a baby quilt that I had meant to sent out at the start of last fall.

I actually brought this quilt top in my checked luggage from Japan, thinking that I would just baste up the quilt and do some hand quilting in all the free time I would have when we first arrived.  The first week in Dallas had me busier than expected as we navigated all the details of a new city from our hotel room, getting set up for adult life in the U.S. for the first time, while working full-time to prepare for a 4-week business road trip the following week.

Needless to say, the quilt went on the back burner!  But I finished up work in December and gave this my full attention in January, my first time hand-quilting in a hoop. 

As much as I love the fabrics and pattern I chose for the front, I this animal print backing takes the cake!

This welcome to our new little friend was a little late in its arrival, but just as warm as could be.  And it made it there with time to spare before Valentine's Day!  Perfect timing.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Let the hand-quilting begin!

Last weekend, I spent Saturday ironing this quilt top and all day Sunday smoothing, pinning, smoothing, unpinning, smoothing, pinning, calling my mom and finally basting my first full-sized quilt on the kitchen table.  This has been a work in progress for the last 5 or 6 years although I have started and finished a few smaller baby quilts in the meantime.  I didn't have the room to lay it flat to baste in Tokyo, but now that I have the space, I'm (mostly) happily back to work.  I had a moment last Sunday afternoon when I was certain this would by my first and last quilt of this size, but now that it's basted and ready to hand-quilt, all that back-breaking work is forgotten.

Bring on the Olympics!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Almond Milk and Power Breakfast Bars

As I liberally edited a recipe I'd found online this afternoon, I felt a twinge of regret that I might not be able to recreate it if it turned out to be delicious.  I thought fleetingly of making a note in an email draft or writing it down in my recipe book, but I knew I wouldn't do that.  Wouldn't it be much easier to just start a new blog and post it there, available to be referenced anytime I like?  Of course.

It all started with a quick project to make my own almond milk.  I used almonds in the basic nut milk recipe from the January 2014 Bon Appetit magazine, but I substituted a small splash of maple syrup for the agave.

When I realized how much ground almond the magazine suggested I discard, I couldn't imagine chucking it all out.  I quickly found this recipe online to make "power breakfast bread" with the almond pulp, and checked my pantry to see that I had enough of the ingredients.  I seemed to have much more than 1 cup of almond pulp from my batch of milk, but loathe to be too precise, I didn't actually measure.  I used one whole banana, an extra 1/4 cup or so of flax meal, less peanut butter and more tart cherries than called for, and added generous portions of sunflower seeds and flax seeds instead of chopped walnuts.  Chopped walnuts?  No, see, I have (had?) things I want to get done today.

In the end, I cut mine into smaller breakfast bars to freeze and eat with my morning smoothies.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.  And most importantly, they're delicious!