Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Here's The Plan

I just love it when a plan comes together. And this one has really come together.  Let me tell you about it.

Our church has a program where each year the income from an investment account is made available to the congregation in the form of Ministry Grants. The amounts range from $100 to $2000.

Our little quilting group, of which about half are church members, decided we would like to do something for the women and children who take refuge at our county's shelter for those experiencing domestic violence. We agreed that each of the eight of us would piece a top from her stash or scraps and we'd apply for a grant of $900 to be used for batting, backing, binding, and possibly machine quilting.

Here's what happened:

1. A friend of ours, Emily, who is not a member of our group but is an avid quilter with considerable stash, lost a family member with a massive stash and Emily was charged with disposing of it. She made it available to our group.
2. Ruth, our youngest member, showed up one night with about fifteen tops that she'd made and didn't have plans for and offered them for the cause.

3. Marsha, our arbitrator of disputes (whose services thus far have not been needed) got down on the floor with Ruth's tops and Emily's late cousin's stash, and matched up fabrics to piece for backs and fabrics to use for bindings for all of Ruth's tops.

4. Each of us took home a few of the tops to finish.

5. We were approved for the grant!

6. We contacted the pastor and president of church council and asked to have a specific Sunday in the autumn set aside to bless these quilts, to have a representative from the domestic abuse shelter come to the church to answer questions, and to have her take the quilts to the shelter which is in an undisclosed location.

7. The pastor approved our plan.

8. The president of council told us that his wife had, many years earlier, been one of the three founding members of the shelter! She was excited to learn of our plan and once the date is set for the dedication of our quilts, she will endeavor to have the other two women attend church that day.

I brought home three of Ruth's tops and ultimately took on two more to finish. Three quilts are tied and bound; the first two on this page were pieced by Ruth and the third one, the Louisiana pinwheels, is the top I pieced to donate. One top is much larger than the others and I'll be having our local machinist quilt it. The other two that I have are child-size, and I'll be trying to get them finished before the end of July.

Could this be any more perfect?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dry, With a Chance of Rhubarb

For a good many years now, I've pretty much been able to look at a recipe and know whether it will be good. I can't always tell if it will be spectacular, you know, but whether we will like it.

Now you can already tell how this post is going to end.

Two weeks ago, I went to Whole Paycheck for something I couldn't get at my little family-run regular grocery store. And while I was there, I saw that they had rhubarb! The first of the season! So I bought a whole lot of it, stewed it up, shared some with my sister, and pieced on it the rest of the week. It was great over vanilla yogurt. It was awfully nice over cottage cheese. It was terrific just out of a little dish all by itself. It would have been lovely over pound cake, if I had some, but I didn't. So a week later I went back; they were all out and I was told to come back in a couple of days.

So a couple of days later, I went back. And they still didn't have any. By this point I was nearly drooling in anticipation (I know. Rhubarb doesn't have a really big following. But we are passionate.). As I attempted to exit through the entrance (I was that dismayed) I literally bumped into a nice couple I know from church. They said they were there for onions. "Good luck with that," I told them. "I came for rhubarb. And they're out." "Oh," replied the Mrs. "We have rhubarb. I'll be glad to give you some. In fact, we have rhubarb plants that are ready to split, so we can give you a whole plant."

I felt as though I'd just won the lottery. Except I hadn't bought a ticket. And it had never occurred to me that rhubarb could be grown at home in one's very own garden.

The next day, I visited the Mrs. and picked up a generous offering of rhubarb. And later today, Himself is scheduled to go over and dig up the plant that was so kindly offered.

With the red-and-green bounty on the kitchen counter, filled with possibilities, I approached Pinterest thinking it was definitely time to branch out from the only way I'd ever had rhubarb, stewed. I downloaded three recipes.

First up was Rhubarb Oatmeal Squares. The picture above is from the blog of the recipe's creator, and not from my kitchen counter. Far from it. I followed the directions precisely. I noted that the writer cautioned against over-filling the two layers of oatmeal-brown sugar-butter mixture, even saying that any filling in excess of 1-1/2 cups should be saved for another use. But when the filling was spread, it looked a bit thin.

It seemed to take forever for the treat to cool enough to eat it. And it appears I was wrong. I cannot always tell if a recipe is going to be good. These squares were very hard. And very dry. And overly abundant in their oatmealness and beyond skimpy in their rhubarbarity (don't try to use these words in your Scrabble game).

We're nearly through the 9" square pan of rhubarb oatmeal bars, a once-in-a-lifetime experience in this house. We've served them with ice cream, cut up and doused with milk, and this morning even with a portion of clotted cream that arrived yesterday from Harry and David along with some utterly gorgeous strawberries.

But I digress. And that's fine because I'm heading out to the kitchen to approach the next portion of fresh rhubarb. A cake is about to be made. And the recipe sounds really good.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Spring Retreat Project

This past weekend was our Guild's spring retreat. I believe there were 30 or so participating and, as always, we had a delightful time. 

I took just one project along. Last year one of the Bee participants had us make these interesting blocks using all different prints. I was intrigued by the block but the overall look was too busy for me. I decided to go with hot colors and blurry blacks and whitishes.

I accomplished this much at the retreat. One of my tablemates didn't like the black and suggested replacing them with hot colors. I thought about it.

When I came home, I discussed this with Himself, who liked the black, liked the blocks, and suggested a different arrangement. This lay-out will create a zig-zag of white between the rows rather than the horizontal diamonds. The vertical diamonds will remain.

This isn't going to be a quick finish, and that's okay. I've been trying to choose projects that are more intricate, that take longer.

I don't name all of my quilts. This one seems to want a name, and perhaps it will come to me as I continue. Or maybe one of you readers will think of the right name.