Purples & Browns & Greens

Today I've been working on this:

It's the first quilt that I'm making exclusively for the Stitching Hope shop.  It's a baby-size quilt, and it will probably end up somewhere around 36"x36".  I may try a new quilting pattern on it - still not sure though! And while I've not yet picked out the fabric for the back, I have this sweet little light-green polka dot deal that I found the other day, and so I may use that.  So cute!

In other news, I joined Twitter.  Follow me @stitchinghope!  Thanks to my big brother Mahan for signing me up helping me sign up!

tortilla soup sunday

diced tomatoes
chicken broth
black beans
shredded chicken
spices: cumin, chili powder, oregano, pepper, salt

Mix the above in whatever quantities you want/have, and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
Serve in bowls with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado chunks, and crushed chips.

My husband took me snow driving today.  Marrying him was (and continues to be) the biggest adventure of my life.  He makes me try new things like going up icy hills, fishtailing around curves, and maneuvering sledders and awkwardly stranded cars on the side of the road.  We determined that I need to know how to drive when inclement weather happens, so he dutifully pulled my car out of the driveway (what a sweetie!) and we drove in circles around our neighborhood.  I did OK for the most part.  One lesson I did learn: getting stuck on a hill and having to back down and accelerate up it five times before making it all the way up is so much more fun when there's a dog hanging out the back window and a husband in the passenger seat.
Enough adventure for one day.  I had to have some trusty tortilla soup to bring me back to a warm, comforting reality.  


The Price Is Right

Vicki Powell, come on down!  You're the winner of a lovely handmade quilt straight from the mountains of southwest Virginia!  OK, so you live just up the road from me, and we go to church together, and it's not novel at all for you to have something from the mountains of southwest Virginia, but that's beside the point - you won!

Thanks to everyone who has donated and made this project possible - I can't even begin to thank you all for giving of your resources to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  You have moved me to tears a number of times, have blessed me and many around you by your example of generosity, and have humbled me with your kindnesses.  I pray that God repays you in many ways.

I'm also pleased to announce that I will be opening an online shop in the next couple of weeks, with the sole purpose of raising money to continue sending to Haiti throughout 2010.  I will be selling quilts and other handmade, stitched items.  You can be involved by making something to sell in the shop, telling others about it, or buying something yourself!  My goal is to have items for every budget so keep checking back for details!

Thank you all for your love, generosity, kindness, awesomeness, and caring spirits.  You are amazing.

Love, Katherine


Close. and Open.

Today is the last day of the Stitching Hope: Haiti raffle!  I can't believe it - we are really close to $4000 and, as these last donations come in, I think we might just go over.  I'll give the grand total tonight after the close of the raffle at 6:00.  I'm so excited.  It feels like Disney and Christmas and my birthday wrapped into one little donation envelope.

Also, because of the sheer NUMBER of entries (that I was not expecting at all), the winner of the quilt will be announced on SATURDAY, January 30, 2010 by noon.  I repeat: the raffle closes today, Friday, at 6:00.  Then I will force you into a state of anxiety and edgeofyourseatedness for approximately 18 hours, so I can put everyone in the raffle, eat dinner with some friends, play bananagrams, get some sleep, eat cinnamon rolls, play in the snow, and box up the quilt before choosing and announcing the winner.  

One more thing: Stitching Hope isn't over.  For the rest of 2010, I'm going to open a website to sell quilts, and the profits from the sales will go to Haiti.  More on this later, but, I need your involvement to continue if this is going to work.  I love community!  I love quilts!  And I love you!

Buena suerte ... 

PS.  I hope you win.



There's a future for Stitching Hope.

What's so funny is that I didn't even know about Stitching Hope two weeks ago.

More coming soon ... 

add it up

diced potatoes sauteed in olive oil with cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, and basil
crumbled manchego cheese (although goat cheese or shredded parmesan would be great too)
hot Italian sausage links, cooked then sliced into little rounds
chopped walnuts + homemade vinaigrette (1/3 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey, 2 cloves pressed garlic, salt, and pepper)
garlic croutons
1 Happy Girl and 1 Happy Boy on 1 Cold Winter Evening


Stitching Hope: Haiti - the final product

Here are some detailed pictures of the Stitching Hope: Haiti quilt.  

This is the front, machine-quilted in a meandering pattern (you can see the effects of the quilting even though I didn't get a close-up picture):

And now the back of the quilt, that my sweet husband helped me design:

It has a small "wonky" log cabin square in the middle of a strip of navy blue print fabric.

Close-up of the square:

Right now, you all have donated $2775 towards Haiti relief - wowzers!  This shindig ends on Friday, so if you've been meaning to get your donation in go ahead and do it!  I never imagined it would get this big, and I am so excited to have such wonderful, generous friends!  Thank you all!


Bam! Roasted!

Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (4 lb.) whole chicken

Combine first seven ingredients in a small bowl.  
Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Starting at the neck, reach between skin and meat, and loosen skin from breast and drumsticks.  You'll really have to reach, so be sure that jewelry and watches are off.  Mentally prepare yourself.  This part is gross but ... well ... just get over it.
Rub half of butter mixture evenly under skin.  Spread remaining half of butter mixture over chicken.  Place the chicken on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan (I used a very large oval dutch oven).
Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180 degrees when inserted into the thigh.  When I reduced the heat, I also put the lid on the dutch oven, but you could also put foil over the chicken to prevent over-browning of the skin.
Remove the chicken to a serving plate and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Reserve pan drippings for other use (see below).

Hmmm.  Roasted chicken.  This is a tasty recipe.  Well, OK, so I believe that anything that involves butter, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice is tasty.  I've not been disappointed yet, so I'll keep that assumption.
Things are still busy at work and for life in general, so I'm trying to maximize kitchen time by preparing a few things that can be versatile during the week.  So, I'll debone the chicken and use it all week.  Here goes a possible week-night menu using said roasted chicken:

Sunday night: homemade pizza with olive oil, fresh basil, shredded chicken, and parmesan
Monday night: rice cooked in a mixture of water and pan drippings, green beans, and chicken
Tuesday night: chicken-vegetable soup a la crock pot
Wednesday night: burritos (leftover rice, beans, chicken, tomatoes, and avocado)
Thursday night: chicken salad sandwiches
Friday night: nachos (leftover rice (again!), beans (again!!), chicken, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and plenty of cheddar cheese baked on tortilla chips for 15 minutes at 350 degrees)
Saturday night: quesadillas

OK.  Yes.  We eat Mexican at least three nights a week.  So good and so easy to prepare ... nothing like food-within-12-minutes-of-getting-home-from-work, right?


Fact: one week has passed and Stitching Hope: Haiti is halfway done.
Fact: you all have donated over $2400.
Fact: you are awesome.
I can't wait to see where we end up.
I'm going to post some pictures of the quilt, including the back, which my husband helped me design.  The whole quilt just makes me think "picnic" or "build a tent fort in the living room."  If you win, and if you do either of those, you'll have to send me a picture!
I'm thankful for you all.  And I'm thankful that we didn't pledge to match every donation.


Stitching Hope: Haiti - keep it up!


Pardon me

OK, so I'm terrible at multitasking.
Work is super busy (10 hour days!).
I'm working on a fundraising project over at rhymeswithquilt.  
And there is ZERO cooking going on here at home.  Pardon me.
I made a roast and pizza over the weekend, so that's what the mister and I have been eating ... that, and granola.
Sorry, kiddos.  Nothing new.  But at least I'm explaining myself, right?  Instead of just leaving you hanging?


Stitching Hope Update

I thought that maybe we could raise $100 for the project.  
I confess that I underestimated my AMAZING friends and family.
Turns out, we're three days into it and over $1000 (yes, you read that right) has been pledged.
I'm blown away.
Don't let that deter you from still entering the raffle.  The only way you're sure you're not going to win is if you don't enter at all.  And if you don't know me and don't want to send a stranger your $5, donate it to a charity of your choice for Haiti relief, and let me know!  You have absolutely nothing to lose, and a really awesome quilt to gain.  Plus, someone in Haiti will REALLY appreciate it!
I want to close this update with a good point that a friend of mine shared with me:
"i've spent some time talking to friends and reading news stories, and i have learned that the best thing we can do right now is donate money. haiti can only handle a certain number of people and guys like me have no skill set, but efforts ... to raise money and awareness are exactly what is needed right now."


Stitching Hope: A Haiti Relief Project

You are all aware of the devastation and destruction that has happened in Haiti due to Tuesday’s massive earthquake. For some, it may instill a sense of frustration or loss, even fear, at the scope of the damage and the poverty of a country so ill-equipped to handle it. The thought that keeps running through my mind is this: What can I do that will make a difference?

Well, I know I’m just one person but I’ve come up with a plan, and it involves you if you’re willing to jump on board. Please consider this effort to honor God and our fellow human beings as you decide what to do in response to the Haitian crisis.
I would like to raffle off a quilt.
For $5, you can have your name entered into the raffle. The winner will be chosen on Friday, January 29th, 2009 – that’s two weeks from now. If you donate $10. $15, $20, or more, your name will be entered into the raffle for that multiple of 5. All the money collected by January 29th will be donated to the Samaritan’s Purse Haiti Relief fund. Jesse and I are pledging to match every donation up to $100.  

Here are some logistics:  
1. Please mail your $5, $10, or whatever pledge to me. I don't want to give my address out on here, but if you contact me at I will send you my address.  Make sure you give me YOUR email address to be in touch with you.
2. I will NOT be able to give you any sort of tax-deduction letter/notice for this donation. HOWEVER, if you wish to have a tax deduction or desire your relief dollars to be funneled through another channel, donate to the relief agency of your choice and then let me know. I will treat it as if you entered my raffle.  
3. Likewise, if you want to pledge but find that you can’t get your money to me in time, let me know and I will assume you’ve entered the raffle based on your pledge.  
4. I chose Samaritan’s Purse for a couple of reasons. First, with the organization’s international reach and community involvement, they were among the first responders to the crisis. Second, I believe that through meeting the practical needs for water, shelter, and food for the people of Haiti, they are living out the Gospel in a very tangible way. Third, they are a hometown agency for me, since they are based in Boone, North Carolina. If you’d like to donate directly to Samaritan’s Purse or see what they are doing in Haiti right now, check out this link: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/Haiti_Donation/  

One quilt may not change the world, but I think that if we come together then we can have an impact. I've lived in a country where the majority of people live on less than $1 a day, and many of you know as well how far our American dollars can stretch in developing nations. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I really do believe that our meager $5 may be exactly what one child, one family, one neighborhood, or one village needs to make it one more day.  

The quilt measures approximately 75”x74” and is patterned in the “log cabin” style. Snuggle up on the couch in the winter or use it as a picnic blanket in the summer – it is made from new and repurposed materials and is up for lots of use. It is 100% machine washable, and will grow softer with use! I machine quilted it in a meandering pattern and hand-stitched the binding in place. Just think: this may be the only chance you ever have for getting a lovingly handmade quilt for just $5! 

Encourage your friends to donate too!  Pass along this link to anyone else you feel may be interested in joining the cause!


If You Love Cheeses, Say "I Love Cheeses"

White Cheddar Shortbread Biscuits
recipe from Epicurious
makes 28 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
8 oz extra-sharp white Cheddar, finely shredded
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Combine butter with salt and both peppers in mixer on low until combined. Don't over-mix.
2. Add flour and cheese and mix on medium-low until well combined and a ball forms. Again, don't over-mix.
3. Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you want to use the slice and bake method (so you don't have to roll out your dough), shape dough into a log before refrigerating.
4. Heat oven to 325° convection (350° conventional). Line two sheet pans with silpats or parchment paper.
5. Roll out dough to 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface, or slice rounds from log that are 1/4" thick. If rolling out dough (which is what we did), use 2" round cutter and place each biscuit on sheet pan as you cut them out. Biscuits hold shape well when baked, so you can use any cookie cutter you like here. You can re-roll dough scraps.
6. Bake until puffed up, golden on top, and browning on edges, about 18 minutes in our convection oven. Store at room temp in a ziploc or airtight container.

Confession: I haven't made these yet.
Fact #1: I will make them soon.  Well, as soon as work slows back down to a normal pace ...
Fact #2: Here's another cheesy recipe I've been dying to make - Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones(thanks, Rebecca, for sending it to me ... oh, four months ago ...).  The recipe looks a bit more labor intensive than I usually deal with, but I bet it's worth it. 
Fact #3: If you beat me to either of these, I demand a 10% commission, payable in cheese or cheese-flavored foods.  OK, fine.  8% will do.


Fresh tomato soup

Makes approximately 8 cups of soup

5 c. tomatoes, diced (or 3 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, UNDRAINED)
1 c. chopped onion (about one large onion)
1 c. tomato paste
3 c. chicken stock (I used turkey stock actually)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar

In a large saucepan combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  
Cool the soup.  Fill a blender half-full, then cover and blend the soup until smooth.  Continue to do this for all the soup.  Return it all to the pot and reheat it before serving.

This recipe is modified from one found in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  They call for a few dashes of hot sauce in the soup, but I found that I liked the sweetness of the tomatoes just as they are without any spice.  Feel free to add spiciness if you like that, though.

Soup.  SOUP!  I love soup.  I'm pretty sure I say that every time I post a soup recipe but it's so true.  I'm not much of a winter person, and I typically struggle with winter time because of the sustained cold and gray skies, but soup is one of those things that helps me get through.  I actually find myself wishing for cold weather in October, so I can start making soups of all kinds.

Another thing that helps me make it until April: outdoor activity.  This weekend has had its share, and my legs are aching and my knees bruised because of it.  On Saturday we played "broom ball" - ice hockey without skates or hockey sticks - on a frozen pond at a local park.   Our motley assortment of "brooms" included mops, plungers, and brooms of all shapes.  We shuffled a ball around, which made for a lot of fun cartoon-like chasing when one of the dogs got a hold of it.  Check out Cindi's pictures of the event.

On Sunday we hiked with a friend on part of the Appalachian Trail that runs about 20 miles from here.  Round trip: 7.2 miles.  My legs: aching.

Great winter weekend: soup and outdoor activity!


Hanging Appal(achian) Quilt

I designed a quilt block pattern (my first ever!) and made these squares for a quilt to hang in my dad's office on the campus of Appalachian State University.  

I was originally going to do a 4x4 quilt, with two extra blocks incorporated into the back of the quilt along with some scraps from the front fabrics.  But when we measured the wall space we discovered that it would be better to make two smaller 3x3 quilts with sashing in between - so now, one of these quilts will hang in my dad's office, and the other will end up somewhere else.

Each of the blocks measures 11.5" x 11.5".  I used 2.5" sashing in between the blocks and did a border of 4.5" (some of the border got cut out of the pictures).  I have yet to do the backing and binding, but right now they both measure about 45" x 45".  

I am going to make another one and post a tutorial for it, hopefully in the month of January.


large scale

I got to spend a few days with Cousin Becky between Christmas and New Year's Day.  This is her, rocking out the ghetto-farmer-seamstress look:

She's the one who guest-posted on rhymeswithquilt a few days ago, with her Tree Skirt tutorial.  While we were together, we decided to spend a day making quilts and opted for an enormous log-cabin square.

Here's hers:

She started with a rectangle about 18 x 24, somewhat fat-quarterish but a bit bigger.  She added strips around the center block, ranging in widths from 3 inches to 5 inches.  I love that there's a ripped-up men's shirt and a few sheets in there ... 

Here's mine:

I started with a block about 18x22, and added 6-to-8 inch strips around the sides (I added the skinnier strips on the short sides of the middle block, and the wider strips on the long ends).  My final border (in red) is an even 10 inches on every side.

I love both the quilts so much!  Becky has been more productive than me - the goon is already finished with hers!  Mine is still draped (lovingly) over my sewing chair, waiting for the backing and a loop-de-loop free motion quilting pattern that I'm going to try out.  I'll post pictures when that one's done!



Yesterday was, in my book, the coldest day of the year so far.  With snow showers in the forecast for the next 6 days and a very unpromising high of 34 for the week, I should've pulled out every blanket I had, wrapped up in long johns, and begun hibernation.

Instead, the husband and I started planning our summer garden.

Never too early, right?


Brought to you by the letter "B"

Great-Grandmother's Apple Doo Cake
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix together above ingredients.  Fold in 2 cups peeled and chopped apples, and 1 cup chopped nuts (optional). Bake in a 9"x13" pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Pour icing over while hot.

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (plain milk is fine, but Isometimes add a bit less to make sure it gets syrupy and not liquidy)
2 cups brown sugar

Boil ingredients rapidly.  Stir constantly until fairly thick.  Pour over hot cake.  I poke a few holes in the cake so that the syrup runs down into the cake.  I also lift up the sides of the cake so the syrup can run down towards the bottom of the cake (and I do that several times).  The cake is better if served after two days.

Great-Grandmother's Apple Doo Cake is somewhat of a legend in the family - it came from my mom's grandmother.  She was the oldest person I think I've ever met - I have no idea how old she was when she died but she was ancient when I knew her.  She was pretty spunky, too.  Once, when she was in her mid-eighties, she got dressed to go out and started getting her things together.  When my great-aunt asked her where she was going, she said she was on her way to "visit the old folks in the old folks' home."  Hmmm.  I hope I've inherited some of her sprightly genes.

The family Christmas this year was full of things that conveniently fell into the Christmas gift-giving theme of "things that start with the letter 'B'," including this Apple-Doo BIRTHDAY cake.  Here are a few more ...

- ditching the planned BEACH trip in favor of BOONE
- my 26th BIRTHDAY fest that began with sledding down the BIG hill (when I say big, I really mean it.)
- BOARD games (Scrabble, Risk for the BOYS, and The Game of Things)
- BANANAGRAMS ... if you don't know it, I'll introduce you to it soon enough
- BLACKOUT due to 1/2 inch of ice in Boone on Christmas Day
- BECKY (my girl cousin) treated me to a fun few days in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, including my first-ever introduction to Carolina BASKETBALL
- BRRR (it's 12 degrees right now)

Merry Christmas!  Happy 2010!


The invisible coffee cozy

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but I made one of these coffee cozies using the red fat quarter pictured below, the blue button, and an elastic hair tie.  You can't tell from this picture but the red fabric has little blue flowers in it.  It was really easy to make and I'm tempted to use the other three fat quarters to do the same thing!