Monthly Archives: November 2009

Taking Stock Of The Works In Progress: Schnookie Edition

It’s been almost a year since we both started quilting, and it seems like now is a great time to step back and take stock of what’s in our active pipelines right now. We’ve both just finished up some quilts and are revving up on exciting new projects — so what’s on tap?

So Many Projects

Over the last month or so, I’ve been bearing down and powering through on finishing up a bunch of Christmas projects. First, there were the two Sheri Berry Christmas star quilts that Pookie had picked out, and then she and I worked on my “Christmas Meow” quilt. Just when I thought we’d reached the conclusion of “Christmas Meow”, it would grow another step, another edge, another border. It just went on and on and on and on, and while I love it, I was just so ready to be starting something else.

Christmas Meow

But, at long last, it gave up the ghost and accepted the last border as the final border. It was done! WOOO HOOOO!!!! It won’t be quilted for Christmas, but that’s cool. It can serve as a cozy bed for my Christmas presents when their big opening day comes. I’ll probably take the time to get some better pictures of this to post more about it later, but right now I’m so happy to be working on my other new projects that I want to focus on those.

Stack of Happy Campers

Ages ago, I first got wind of American Jane’s Happy Campers line. It had debuted at one of the big Markets, and I got crazy excited for it, and then had to wait literally months for it to become available. This was a clever move on Moda’s part, because by the time I could get my mitts on it, I had decided I didn’t need one quilt out of it — I needed two. I was going to make one 16-patch lap quilt and then one queen-sized fancy-pantsy star quilt. So when the fabric was finally for sale, I had to order mountains of it. The bundled heaps of fabric in the box from Fat Quarter Shop were so delightful that I’ve kept them all bagged up, in a neat stack, next to my seat on the couch until the time comes that we can get cutting it. (That time is going to be during Christmas vacation — that’s a lot of parallelograms we’re going to have to figure out.)

Meanwhile, I also got a layer cake of Happy Campers to get a look at the all the prints and colors in person before committing to anything in Bananatanagram City (the star one). As it turns out, the layer cake is enough fabric to make the top of my 16-patch lap quilt, so with the extra fabrics from the rest of my order (especially the four-in-one fabrics), I’m planning to have 16-patches on the front and back. This seems very exotic and adventurous to me, which probably says a lot about me.

Happy Campers

I had big plans to jump right into my Happy Campers projects as soon as I finished Christmas Meow but I got sidetracked by two things. The first is that Ugly City is back from the quilter, and needs the binding done.

Binding Ugly City

Not surprisingly, I’m dragging my feet on it. It’s been sitting, ready, for weeks, and I just haven’t been able to tear myself away from all the stretch runs of all the projects we’ve finished in the last couple of months. I’m giving myself one week of puttering before I get this going.

Meanwhile, the other distraction from Happy Campers is the housetop quilt from Kaffe Fassett’s latest book, “Quilt Romance”. I am absolutely nuts right now about the idea of this pattern, just concentric rectangles working all the way out to a queen-sized quilt. I originally thought I’d make this pattern with Sandi Henderson’s Meadowsweet, but then, one fateful afternoon, I stumbled across Rouenneries at PQW.

Fuddtop Sundae

So now I’m going to make two housetop quilts!

With my Christmas quilt commitments out of the way, and my pizza boxes cleared of their no-longer-applicable seasonal quilts (Squee City and Cinnamon City, both autumn projects, are on the shelf on seasonal hiatus), I’m ready to enjoy the thrill of all-new projects. Maybe I’ll even get some of these done before I get the bug to move on to something new again.

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Using A Muffin Tin To Change Our Lives

So the other day I was poking around the New York Times online, killing time, and for some reason, I decided to check out an article in the food section about Thanksgiving side dish recipes. I already knew what I wanted to make for Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t even like I thought I was open to new ideas. But it must have been fate. Because what I found there rocked my world:

They suggested baking stuffing in muffin tins.

Stuffins

I am never not going to bake my Thanksgiving/Christmas stuffing in muffin tins. NEVER. You get perfect little serving sizes of stuffing encased completely in crunchy edges, and they’re just tailor-made for snacking on as cold leftovers. All I did was put a little dab of butter on the top of each stuffing muffin, gently poured a tablespoon of turkey stock over each (per the NYT suggestion, and chicken broth would work fine here), and then baked for about 45 minutes at 350. I think they would have been crustier if I’d baked them for a shorter time in a 375-degree oven, and I’ll be finding out how that works in just a few weeks. The highlight of Christmas foodstuffs at Maple Hoo has always been the mimosas, but this year I think the stuffing muffins (or “stuffins”, as we ended up calling them after finishing off a bottle of champagne) might be the king of the holiday menu.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Challenging Ourselves At Work

To break up the summer doldrums, Schnookie and I decided to have a “Take Your Camera To Work” week, or as we called it, “The Work Challenge”. Every day we would each bring a different lens (or camera — we included the PowerShot and Ricoh as options) to work to photograph what we saw and then we compared results. We discovered that Schnookie’s 2-mile walk to work:

Tuesday by Schnookie

and my 6-block-radius walk around town:

Monday by Pookie

are very, very different. But we also discovered that it was super fun to push ourselves to take the extra effort to either get up early to take photos before work (Schnookie’s workplace is a bit of a grinch about taking pictures onsite, those jerks) or to explore a fascinating town that seems unwelcoming. We decided almost immediately that we would have to redo the Challenge in Autumn to see how different things looked. So last week we partook in Work Challenge II!

Work Challenge II was just that, a challenge. There were difficult shooting conditions (stupid getting dark at 4:30!), troubles with lenses (poor Schnookie ended up under a giant flock of starlings with only the 100mm), and thwarted plans (I was all set to park at a gold-domed church to get some fancy magic-hour light only to discover it was overcast and the parking lot was closed), but there were also perfect shooting conditions (literally just after dawn magic hour light), lens successes (wide angle lens, meet the Moon Motel sign), and unexpected opportunities (who knew running errands after work would lead to being in the right spot at the right time for one of the best sunsets in ages?).

Here are a handful of our favorite photos from the week; the rest can be seen here.

Tuesday by Schnookie

Tuesday by Schnookie; 10-22mm

November 16 2009

Monday By Pookie, 10-22mm

Monday by Schnookie

Monday by Schnookie; 100mm

Tuesday By Pookie

Tuesday by Pookie; 100mm

Wednesday by Schnookie

Wednesday by Schnookie; 18-55mm kit lens

November 19 2009

Thursday by Pookie; 18-55 kit lens

Monday by Schnookie

Monday by Schnookie; 100mm

November 18 2009

Wednesday by Pookie, 18-250mm

November 21 2009

Saturday by Pookie; Ricoh R8

November 17 2009

Tuesday by Schnookie; 10-22mm

Monday by Pookie

Monday by Pookie; 10-22mm

Tuesday by Schnookie

Tuesday by Schnookie; 10-22mm

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Tucking The Garden In For A Long Winter’s Rest

One of the things we really like about vegetable gardening is the feeling that comes with shutting it down for winter. Part of that is because we’re really lazy, and we like having a the stretch from November to February during which we don’t have to ever do anything for the garden. But it’s also always fun to take stock of how the newly-past garden season went, and start making plans for the one to come. True to form, this year we got really lazy and put off the garden shut-down for a few weeks, but finally, last weekend, the clock struck midnight for Maple Hoo Garden 2009.

Garden Taken Over By Marigolds

As you can see from the picture above, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the garden other than marigolds the size of our house. We’ve had a few modest frosts in the last month, so the basil was goners, as was the entire late-planted bed of soup beans (lesson learned: you can’t plant beans as late as we did), and the peppers, which were still putting in a gutsy effort, were definitely on their last legs. The herb pots were all overgrown and gone to seed, and the catnip lawn was ready to be taken up. It was time.

State of the Garden November 8 2009

Winterizing the garden at Maple Hoo is a pretty straightforward job — we just take out all the plants and put straw over the beds to discourage squirrels from burying acorns that they’ll be looking for come Spring. We’re considering planting rye grass next year, but for now we keep coming up with excuses why not to. Our biggest concern for our day of winterizing was that those marigolds were enormous — surely they wouldn’t give up without a fight?

Boomer and the Monster Marigold

Nope! It turns out they were like marigold area-rugs, and lifted off in just one piece. It was an easy couple of hours of work removing them and their fellow spent plants to clear the way for our garden’s season of rest.

The next step in winterizing is to get the first of next year’s crops planted — the garlic!

Shucking Garlic

We put in six varieties of it this year: German Hardy, Bogatyr, Chet’s Italian Red (it sucked breaking up all those teensy-tiny heads, just for the record. So far, we’re not big fans of Chet), Inchelium, Pskem River, and Siberian. This past year we filled one big bed and one of the half-sized beds with garlic, and ended up with way more than we needed, so this time around, we only planted one big bed. We did, however, plant it double-thick like last year, so we can get a sizable harvest of green garlic in the springtime, when we’re eager for fresh veggies.

Winterized Garden

Once the garlic is planted, we cover the bed with straw for insulation, and then give it a cover of chicken wire to further discourage squirrels. Those little bastards better not even think about touching our garlic.

So now the beds are all tucked under their blankets of straw, with one of them incubating the first of Maple Hoo Garden 2010.

Winterized Garden

2009 was a good year for us — there were tribulations, for sure, with too much rain, too much cold, and too much blight, but there were also bounties. We lost our carrot and beet crops, and our second wave of beans, but we harvested colossal amounts of tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, herbs, and our first wave of beans, as well as record amounts of peppers and basil. We worried, complained, put things off, whined, and were lazy, but we also doted, raved, laughed, went the extra mile, and thrilled in our successes. In short, it was another great year of growing vegetables. We can’t wait for next year!

November 8 2009

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No, We Haven’t Forgotten About This Blog

We’ve been neglecting IPB Living lately, and for that we’re sorry. We’ve had a good reason though, we swear! Our fabulous friend Patty (in Dallas) was here for a full week of hockey games and photo excursions to New York City, Princeton, Philly, and Ocean Grove. Patty taught us a new trick for processing our photos, and much fun was had by all. Here are a handful of our favorite photos from the week; the rest can be seen here.

October 19, 2009

Princeton University

Sculpture Bokeh

Rockefeller Center, NYC

October 22 2009

New Hope, PA

Lightbulbs

Grand Central Station, NYC

October 21 2009

Ocean Grove, NJ

Open Gate

Philadelphia, PA

The Commodore's Accusing Hand

Philadelphia, PA

Empire and Lamppost

New York City

Grand Central Ceiling

Grand Central Station, NYC

Favorite Fence with Fall Leaves

Philadelphia, PA

Action Seagull

Ocean Grove, NJ

October 23, 2009

Philadelphia, PA

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