June 23, 2009

What's a Blog without Pictures?

I finally had to admit my camera was lost and I didn't think it is ever coming home! Unfortunately, I had not yet downloaded pictures from Spring Quilt Market or University Days at the Wisconsin Fiber Arts & Quilt Museum. (I'm trying to get some photos from other people.) And I didn't have a camera for the Heartland Quilters Retreat in Illinois or my visit with the Smoky Mountains Quilters Guild in Franklin, NC. :(

But here is my first picture with my new camera! Stacy and I took Richard to see "Jersey Boys" at the Fox Theater on Father's Day. Oh, what a night - we all loved it! Since you aren't allowed to take pictures at the performance, this playbill cover will have to do. Or, to paraphrase a theater saying, "In today's blog, the roles usually played by live actors are being performed by a still picture!" This is a scene close to the end of the first act, where the actors are cleverly positioned with their backs to the audience and the bright lights flood the audience to simulate the "blindness" performers experience from stage lights.

Of course, Richard and I remembered how much we loved the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons the first time around, so it tickled me that Stacy was marking some titles she wanted to add to her iPhone!

I baked TWO cakes!

For most people, baking two cakes isn't news. For me, I'm sure it was the first time I'd done any baking in this century! I actually had to buy cake pans! The 9" x 13" Pyrex™ pan, acquired by my mother when I was a mere child, broke about 5 years ago and it hadn't been replaced yet.

Last February, when I was in Arizona, my hostess, Mary Lou Evans, took a chocolate cake to the guild meeting, It drew rave reviews. I flinched when she said it only had four ingredients, as I prefer limiting my recipes to three! However, I took the first opportunity to stretch my culinary efforts for one of the office parties - my hand shot up to bring the cake for Kathy's birthday party. I discovered chocolate is not her favorite cake, so I went out on a limb and decided spice cake mix and apple pie filling should work as well as chocolate mix and cherry pie filling. I looked at a few recipes on the Internet to bolster my confidence and plunged in! Both cakes tasted delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Mary Lou!

These are not "dump" cakes; they are actually stirred. Also, I read a hint for adding a Tablespoon of maple syrup to purchased frosting for the apple spice cake - an excellent tip. To make the apple spice cake, substitute the ingredients shown in [brackets].

Cherry-Chocolate [Apple Spice] Cake
1 package fudge cake mix [spice cake mix]
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie fillling [apple pie filling]
1 Tbsp almond extract [vanilla extract]
2 beaten eggs

Combine the four ingredients and stir until well mixed. Pour into a greased and floured 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting [purchased, add 1 Tbsp maple syrup, or use recipe with substitution]
1 C sugar
1/3 C milk
3 Tbsp butter
6 oz. chocolate [butterscotch] chips
Ground nuts, optional

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter and milk. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chips until smooth. If using nuts, stir in now. Pour over cake while still warm.

(I actually cooked the frosting and put it on warm as recommended, too!)

June 4, 2009

Do you quilt in inches or centimeters?

I quilt in inches, but a lot of students in my classes both here in the U.S. and abroad are metric quilters. After many years of observation and conversations about quilting tools, we came up with what we think is a very usable "universal" ruler. It's now part of our My Favorite Ruler line and is available in two sizes.

One end of the rulers shows measurements in inches and the other end gives metric measurements. In between are additional measurements to make it easy to convert from one system to the other. We think this configuration will make it easier for metric-thinking quilters to use books and patterns "written in inches" and vice versa for Americans using European patterns.

Stacy made a little movie about the rulers at the Spring Quilt Market. If you quilt in centimeters, please ask about the Universal Rulers at your favorite quilt shop and let us know what you think.