May 25, 2013

Little Hexie Quilt All Stitched Up!

I usually have 2-3 projects that I'm working on at once, but sometimes (like now) I get a little carried away and it turns into 5-6. That's when I know it's time to pick up the most complete project and put the finishing touches on it.

For about two weeks, this quilt had been sandwiched and half quilted. The binding was even already pressed. So I had no excuse not to sit down for a couple hours and finish up the quilting. Of course, I also had a deadline to finish it by- the baby shower!

I'm very happy with how it turned out. It's my first time making a pattern like this, and I was worried that the corners of the hexagons wouldn't match up. For the most part, though, they matched up very well, it's only a few spots that are noticeably off. I did rip and restitch a few of them that were really bad.

The colors worked together far better than I had thought they would. I had a hard time finding enough bright reds and blues to fill out the quilt, but for the most part, all the colored fabric came from my stash. The white background, as it happens, came from my stash, too. A while ago there was a nice white quilting cotton on clearance, so I bought the whole bolt for almost nothing.

Choosing the binding was possibly the most difficult part. I couldn't find anything that I liked. I ultimately ended up with this stripe because it closely matched the tone of the prints. And I really do love cutting bias binding from a straight stripe pattern and ending up with diagonally striped binding. You can't go wrong with it.

The backing I bought after the top was finished. I wasn't sure which color would have the right feel until the top was finished. I brought it with me to the fabric store to hold it up against several colors. There was also a red that I liked, but ultimately, I went with this blue dot print because it looked better with the binding than the red did.

I really enjoy making quilts, but even better is when I give them away.  Here's the happy mama-to-be! I'm endlessly excited for my aunt and uncle- this is their first little one!

Now, only 4-5 more projects are on my quilting table. Time to finish a few of them up! I just started attending classes at night, after a year or so of thinking about it, and obviously my quilting time has diminished. But I have several almost-done quilts that won't take too long to sew up if I dedicate a few Saturday mornings to the effort.

May 17, 2013

Amaretto Pound Cake Perfection

While at my Trader Joe's recently, I came across this interesting carton of shelf stable whipping cream. I always seem to want whipping cream, but rarely have it on hand. For under $2, I thought it was worth giving it a try. But then, like magic, all my whipping cream needs vanished. I started stumbling around the internet, looking for interesting and creative uses of whipping cream.

Instead, I accidentally came across this pound cake recipe that says it was a favorite of Elvis Presley's and it looked too good not to try. People say a lot of things about famous people like that, but after having tasted it? Total truth, my friends. It must be. This cake is too good to be a lie.

I made a few small modifications to the recipe and it turned out beautifully. The originally recipe called for 7 eggs and that just seemed like far too many. Plus, I only had 6 on hand the first time I made it. The texture turned out great anyway, so I've been sticking with 6. I also added some amaretto, because all baked goods are better with a little booze.

What You'll Need:
3 cups sugar
2 sticks of butter, softened
6 eggs
3 cups cake flour, sifted OR make the DIY cake flour (see below)
1 pint whipping heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup amaretto liquor (optional, but amazing)

DIY Cake Flour:
You'll need all-purpose flour, cornstarch, two medium bowls, and a mesh strainer (or flour sifter)

Take out a 1 cup measuring cup. Put two tablespoons of cornstarch in the measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour on top until the measuring cup is full. Dump it out into a bowl. Repeat twice and you'll have the correct amount of flour for this recipe. Put your strainer over the second bowl, and slowly add the flour/cornstarch mixture to the strainer as you shake it back and forth, which both sifts the flour and mixes the flour and cornstarch together. And voliĆ ! An excellent cake flour substitute.

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