Long weekend in pictures.
New table for the grill / plants / porch in action / two completed sewing projects / return to winter up the Dempster.
Not pictured: Friday happy hour at the bar / five loads of laundry / perfectly grilled steak / holiday Monday brunch.
I tend to side with Beatrice* when it comes to marriage: “Not til God make men of some other metal than earth.” My version of this, which I wrote recently in an email to my father, is “I want an MA not an Mrs., if you get my drift” (we were talking grad school funding). But… I do have a Pinterest board called Fake Wedding Planning (with one pin). And I love it when Refinery 29 photographs city hall weddings. This latest batch shows some great knee-length lace, as well as one daring bride in black. I’ve long thought it would be great to get married in red thanks to this song.
(*As an aside, that is a weirdly terrible trailer for Branagh’s perfectly acceptable adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. I’m not sure why they emphasize “adventure” so much when really the whole play is just a bunch of rich bored people making messes of their love lives because they don’t know what to do with their time now that they are no longer at war. The Whedon adaptation is inferior, but the trailer is much better.)
I’ve been spending a lot of time curled up on the couch, stitching away at the Girly Quilt.
I’m hand quilting it in three colours of pearl cotton: pink, green and orange.
I had intended to use mostly pink for the quilting, with just a bit of orange and green here and there, but I didn’t have enough of the pink.
And I didn’t want to wait a month for more thread to arrive in the mail, so I’m using more green and more pink. The unofficial theme of this quilt is Work With What You Got. (Isn’t that a great video?)
This short story from The Toast about knitting and astronomy is great. (Just one of the many great posts from The Toast.)
I’m not much of a breakfast person but I love breakfast for dinner. Christmas and Easter could fall off the calendar and I wouldn’t miss them, but please let me keep Shrove Tuesday and let me make every Tuesday Shrove Tuesday.
This recipe for Savoury French Toast Casserole from A Beautiful Mess inspired a recent round of breakfast for dinner. I skipped the melted butter in the egg mixture, used 5 whole eggs instead of 4 plus 2 whites, used less milk, and was a little more elaborate in method. And I’m spelling it savoury (hashtag Canada).
Here’s my version of the casserole:
- Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit.
- Scramble together 5 eggs in a four-cup measuring cup, and then add enough milk to reach 3 cups of liquid.
- Cut your loaf of bread into cubes and place in a bowl.
- Pour the egg+milk mixture over the bread and stir to coat all the bread; let the bread+egg+milk sit and soak up while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Add more milk if you bread seems dry (mine certainly wasn’t).
- Grate cheese.
- Chop sun-dried tomatoes.
- Get together anything else good–herbs, sausage, whatever–you want to add to the mix. I had some leftover ground lamb which had been cooked with herbs and red wine–plenty flavourful, so I skipped additional herbs.
- Coat the inside of your casserole dish with butter (or use the oil of your choice to prevent sticking–I say more butter).
- Spoon half of your bread+egg+milk into the casserole dish.
- Add your savoury goodies–in my case, lamb, sun-dried tomatoes and aged white cheddar cheese–to the dish. I opted for a single thick layer of goodies in the middle, rather than dividing them between the middle and the top as in the ABM recipe.
- Spoon the rest of the bread+egg+milk mixture into the casserole dish, and pour any remaining liquid over the top.
- Cover the dish and place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 20-ish minutes.
- Grate a liiitle (or a lot–I don’t judge) more cheese so you have some for the top of the casserole.
- Remove the lid from the dish and sprinkle with the additional cheese.
- Cook another 10-ish minutes until the casserole is set and cooked through.
- Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
I also cooked up a batch of caramelized onions (my favourite food, really, I think) to accompany the casserole. I used the onions as a timer: I started the onions once the casserole was in the oven, and cooked the casserole covered until the onions were close to being done. Then I took the lid off, added the cheese and waited until the onions were done. Perfect timing.
More to come on caramelized onions, I’m sure. Basically you want to do them Beastie Boys style: slow and low is the tempo.
I saw this recipe for butter burgers on xoJane last week, and just had to try it–even though it seemed terrible and wrong and so gross.
I think, for the most part, I’ll stick with my tried-and-true Fake Shack burgers instead. The butter burgers were tasty, but I’m not sure that gobs of butter really added much to my burger experience. The butter was great with the caramelized onions–I could eat caramelized onions on buttered toast all day every day–but thought that the butter was rather lost in relation to the meat and the cheese.
Thinking about gross burgers has reminded me of the “Aussie burger with the lot” and also more crazy burgers from oxJane. Burger to do list written. So bad but so good!
After a few days of slow-going hand quilting, I was ready to tackle a project with big immediate obvious results. I also wanted to tidy up some of the sewing detritus in the living room, as the clutter was starting to get to me.
So I finished piecing together the top of what I’m calling The Girly Quilt, and then I pieced the back, and then I sandwiched it all together, and then I tidied up.
This tutorial from Film in the Fridge is probably the best spray basting tutorial I’ve seen out there, and it’s very close to how I approach things. Although I don’t wear a mask when I’m spraying since I’m punk rock and like to live dangerously.
Here’s a rundown of my process:
- Move the ottomans (ottomen?), roll up the rug and give the floor a good vacuuming;
- Spread out the quilt batting and smoosh flat;
- Lay out your freshly-pressed quilt top on the batting, allowing for a few inches of excess batting along the edges;
- Pin the quilt top and the batting together along the top edge;
- Gently fold the quilt top back until you reach your row of pins;
- Begin spraying and smoothing: working in about 12 inch wide sections, spray the batting with the basting spray and then unfold and smooth down the quilt top, working towards your knees and out to the edges;
- Continue spraying and smoothing until you have reached the bottom edge of the quilt, and then go back up to the top: take out your row of pins and spray down those top few inches;
- Trim away any excess quilt batting and let the basting spray set for 10 minutes;
- Flip over your half-sandwich and repeat 3 to 7 to secure the quilt backing to the sandwich;
- Allow the basting spray to set for a few hours before rolling or folding the sandwich (I wanted the living room back in order, so I spread out the sandwich on the bed).
Generally good things to note:
- Many spray basting tutorials suggest that you put your quilt backing right-side-down on the floor and then smooth your batting on top of it. This is how I did my first quilt in the past, and it was terrible: so much more difficult to make sure that the backing is smooth and wrinkle free.
- The Film in the Fridge advice to use notches to ensure that your pieced back lines up with your pieced top is very, very smart. Do that!
- Okay, yeah: I don’t wear a mask but I do keep a window open when using the basting spray. Common sense!
Also, when re-researching quilt basting tips and tricks, I found this tutorial from Color Me Quilty that involves using two boards and a table for basting, rather than crawling around on the floor. It looks like such a good neat trick and I’d like to try it sometime–once I have a table that’s long enough to accommodate a 50-inch-wide-plus quilt.
I would say, however, that the advantage to basting on the floor is that, after crawling around on my hands and knees, curling up on the couch with some hand-quilting was awfully nice.