Category Archives: Pommerdoodling

Helloooo Henrik Jane!

Almost exactly two years ago, I fell hard for Heather Bailey’s fabric line, “Nicey Jane”. Just as I was wondering what to do with it, I received a generous gift that included the Minick & Simpson pattern “Chippewa Nine-Patch”. At first glance I just knew the two were meant for one another. So I ordered a giant pile of fabric and started to cut a zillion 1 3/4″ squares. Months and months passed without much progress. Finally I had to admit that hand-piecing the whole quilt was not happening. (The pattern does helpfully suggest strip piecing, but two years ago I was still thinking strip piecing wasn’t for me. I was an idiot.) I dragooned Boomer and Schnookie into piecing the rows of the 81-patches that alternate with the snowballs. Turns out the sewing machine sews a lot faster than I do. I suspect this is because it doesn’t stop every hour to look at the “Coming Soon” section of fatquartershop.com while dreaming of the next quilt it’s going to start.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, thanks to their help, I was able to finish Henrik Jane this summer! Woo-hoo! After a short spell with Mary, The Long-Arm Quilter, Henrik Jane was back at home, ready to be bound and washed. I put the final stitches in last weekend.

Henrik Jane Take 2

I am simply over-the-moon for how this turned out. It seems lots of little pieces combined with low-contrast fabrics is the signature look that’s going to make my quilts famous. Heh. I was concerned at first that the nine-patches weren’t showing off the fabrics well enough, but once I got going on it, I really loved how it ended up looking like confetti. Or an impressionist painting. Or an impressionistic painting of confetti.

Henrik Jane Quilting

There was a long time there where I thought this project would never be finished. I’m so glad I powered through, though. Now, if Henrik Zetterberg ever shows up at Maple Hoo, we can greet him with a quilt he can call his very own.

Henrik Jane

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Filed under Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling, Quilting

iPad Pajamas

Schnookie and Boomer surprised me — and I mean completely surprised me — by giving me an iPad for Christmas! Woo-hoo! The thing is gorgeous and is especially awesome for looking at Flickr (and for playing Angry Birds, of course). ::happy sigh:: To make the whole thing ever better, Schnookie offered to make a case for it out of felt!

She decided she wanted to put a typewriter on it, and then did some research to find the coolest looking one she could. She ended up choosing some rare Japanese version of an Olympia. We originally thought it would be best in aqua on an orange background, but the felt supplies available to us dictated instead a green typewriter. I think in the end, that was a better choice and I couldn’t be happier. I mean, check it out:

January 9 2011

The combo of the green, orange, and gray is funky and and fun and fresh! I love it. And the workmanship on the typewriter is phenomenal. Schnookie is like a machine when it comes to teensy, tiny whipstitches.

iPad Pajamas Detail

The overall construction is just a basic envelope, with a velcro closure on the back flap. Schnookie picked out the perfect black button to accent the back flap.

iPad Pajamas Diptych

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the whole thing. A co-worker got her iPad out during a meeting yesterday and I looked at the dull, gray leather case she had and laughed and laughed. Because should I ever bring mine to a meeting, my bright orange, be-typewritered iPad will kick her buttoned-up, professional iPad’s butt!

iPad Pajamas

{Posted by Pookie}

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Filed under Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling

No, I Mean It, Darla’s Really, Really Finished

A few months ago, I posted that Darla was finished. What I should have said was the top to Darla was finished. She still needed to be quilted, bound, and washed. Well guess what’s happened since then?! Darla’s been quilted, bound, and washed! WOOOOOOO!!!

Darla Totally Finished

I met the long-arm quilter at Pennington Quilt Works after work one day, telling Boomer and Schnookie not to bother coming along for the big reveal. Back when we lived in Arizona, it was always so much fun to get stuff from the framer because everyone in the store would put what they were doing down to gather around and lavish praise on the piece and the stitcher; sadly the quilt store has not proven to be as ego-boosting. I figured I’d go in, pay for my quilt, and head on home. Instead, the quilter made sure everyone came over to see Darla! There were three separate show and tells for all the people who walked in after the initial showing off session! My ego was boosted to the stratosphere! Heh. The best part was when someone said, “So you make this quilt with chain piecing, right?” Every hour I spent hand-piecing the thousands of pieces that went into each block flashed before my eyes. My reply? “You should chain piece it, yes.”

Darla Finished in 2010

The main appeal of this pattern was that it was going to make a giant quilt. Putting the final binding stitches in, I was so excited to have a massive coverlet-sized quilt for my bed. I tossed it in the washer, tossed it in the dyer, then tossed it on my bed. Then I said, “WTF?!? It’s a doll quilt!!!” Seriously, it shrank like you wouldn’t believe. The quilting is very dense (and lovely; I seem to have neglected to take a close-up shot of it, but take my word for it, it’s swirly and intricate, and works really well with the girly prints) and it’s all cotton, so of course it shrank. But dang, it shrank A LOT. It was… a little depressing. Fortunately, though, in the last few weeks, it’s stretched out quite a bit. It is now, I dare say, perfect. I love it. I love that I finished it (big thanks to Schnookie for helping me out with the final stretch run), I love that it’s so girly, I love that the pattern is so fussy, I love the bright pink binding and the criss-cross of red gingham. I love it.

December 9 2010

Favre loves it, too!

P.S. I also finished another quilt this year that I realized I haven’t posted about. It’s not nearly as impressive as Darla, but I love it anyway. I whipped it up this summer to be a largish-quilt stand-in for Darla. It was a super-easy, super-fast (even with hand-piecing) free pattern from Moda Bake Shop. I used Kona cotton in School Bus for the sashing, and “Willow Orchard” by Alexander Henry for the blocks.

Bobo City

For such a simple quilt, it makes me inordinately happy! It has a scrappy binding using strips of the busiest print, so when I go to snuggle under the quilt, I see little flowers everywhere. Also, the quilter did an all-over pattern of fruit and it’s freakin’ awesome.

Bobo City Fruits Quilting

I’m ending 2010 on a high note as far as my quilts are concerned! Woo-hoo! Here’s hoping 2011 is as fruitful! See what I did there? Heh.

{Posted by Pookie}

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Filed under Pommerdoodling, Quilting

The Seasons Are A-Changin’

Whoa! What’s that under the rapidly melting snow?

Peeking Out From Under Cover

Yeah, there under the locust tree out front.

Crocus Challenge by Pookie

Can it possibly be already??

Look At Them Growing!

Woo hoooo!!!! Crocuses!!!!

Crocus Challenge by Pookie

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Filed under Celebratory!, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Pommerdoodling

IPB’s Web-Footed Friend

For those of you Gentle Readers who aren’t NJ Devils fans, this post requires a tiny bit of explanation. The channel that airs Devils games, MSG+, has developed, over the last few years, an informal mascot named “Chuck The Duck”. Chuck has absolutely nothing to do with the games, but the production crew seems to love staging flavoring shots of Chuck on the road, such as boating in Florida, eating poutine in Montreal, or posing as Santa Claus. It’s a little convoluted, but at this point, he’s a beloved part of the tv broadcasts for all Devils fans.

Way back on December 18 the brilliant and talented Gentle Reader Jarhead_SGT blew our minds with this homemade Chuck the Duck. After we recovered from the staggering sense of awe, we wondered, “How did we not think of that?” Really, how could we not have our own Chuck the Duck? Especially when we already knew exactly how to make a felt duck. All we would need is the felt duck, a hockey sweater for it, a hockey helmet, and a cigar. It would be a piece of cake!

January 17 2010

We started with a prototype, just to hammer out the logistics. Using craft-store felt, we constructed a shockingly cute little duck, then draped him for his Reebok slim-fit-style sweater. There was no small sense of thrilling accomplishment when we realized it was going to work.

Yellow Portrait

Our prototype was so cute, we hated just to think of it as a mere step in the construction process. But when we talked about it, we couldn’t call it “Chuck” because “Chuck” was going to be the real duck. Chuck proper was going to made out of fancier materials, and dressed, and his beak was going to be stuffed the way the pattern called for (a step we forgot to do on the prototype). We named the model MiniChuck. And MiniChuck has been a boon companion lo these weeks while awaiting the arrival in the mail of the fancy wool felt we ordered online.

Duck Parts

Yesterday, though, the pieces were all in place. The duck-making factory swung into action. And after hours of trimming and sewing and stuffing and fluffing, our masterpiece was complete.

Maximum Chuck

Behold, Gentle Reader: MAXIMUM CHUCK!

Maximum Chuck

None! None more Chuck!

Maximum Chuck

Chuck likes to bask in the glory of our free giveaway Stanley Cup banners.

Maximum Chuck

Chuck wears the very cutting edge of concussion-proof ping pong ball helmets.

Tiny Devils Logo

Chuck is a brawny manly-man, whose chest measures a whopping entire inch across.

Maximum Chuck

Because we’re very proud of cutting out such a small felt Devils logo, here’s another picture of it!

Maximum Chuck

Chuck smokes only the finest hand-rolled construction-paper cigars.

Maximum Chuck

A Canada goose can break a human’s shinbone with the force of its wings. For Chuck, that kind of damage is child’s play.

Chuck the Duck

Chuck can fight with the best of them, but he’s also got soft hands. He’s everything a hockey fan could ask for.

This Chuck might not have the glamorous lifestyle of the real Chuck, with his speedboats and his exotic travels and his poutine, but he has one decided advantage over his namesake: no Stan.

Maximum Chuck

Fischler-free since February 2010.

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Filed under Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling

The Planting Has Started! I Repeat: The Planting Has Started!

You learn something new every day. Today, I learned (thanks to reading Garden Notes for Seedy Folks, the blog of the Hudson Valley Seed Library) that Groundhog Day is the mid-point between the Winter solstice and the Spring equinox and that the ancient Celts called it “Imbolc”. Who knew? More importantly, the post about Imbolc included the following:

“…according to Eliot Coleman, Imbolc marks the approximate date when the days are long enough to permit plant growth in sun-heated protected spaces.”

Wha-huh?! Seriously? Dude.

I mentioned this to Schnookie around 1:30 or so during our pizza lunch, and by 2:15, this is what the scene on the deck looked like:

Starting Lettuce

That’s right, we’re starting seeds! Lettuce seeds. We weren’t really planning on planting any this year (we’ve only grown it once but it was so hard to keep up with and we get so much from the farm that we never bothered trying it again) but then we got a free pack of mixed lettuces when Schnookie ordered bean innoculant. Lettuce likes to be started early, right? The ancient Celts want us to start something now, right? So why not the lettuce?

Starting Lettuce 4

We’ve thrown off the tyranny of those annoying seed trays, and instead start all our seeds in leftover plastic trays that our fresh ravioli comes in. I love the feel of starting mix — it’s all fluffy and soft — so it was quite a treat to scoop trowel-fuls of the stuff into the trays.

Starting Lettuce 2

We’ll put these puppies in the cold frame and see what happens.

Probably nothing will happen, but that’s okay! I know these things take time, and we’ll have onion seedlings going soon enough. But now that the days are getting longer, I really want to have a reason to go into the garden to check on something. Anything! Even if it’s just to see if the ravioli container full of dirt is still there.

Starting Lettuce 3

And if nothing else, I had an excuse to go outside for a few minutes today. It was surprisingly warm for a cold day (or maybe the excitement of stating seeds made it seem warmer than it was) and the robins were flitting all around. We may be weeks away from having miniature seedlings to monitor, and months away from anything substantial growing, but today made gardening season seem like it’s not never coming back. Sometimes, in the darkest days of December and January, it can be easy to forget that there will be green again.

So keep your fingers crossed that our Imbolc lettuce grows big and strong! Remember, little lettuces, the ancient Celts are counting on you.

[Posted by Pookie]

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Filed under Garden, Pommerdoodling

Blog Post de Noel

How did you spend your New Years holiday? I spent mine separating eggs! At least, looking back on it, it seems that way. You see, thanks to a shortage of oven and refrigerator space, I wasn’t able to make the dessert I was planning on for Christmas, so we put it off a week, and had our yule log for New Years. Or rather, our Chocolate-Malt Stump de Noel.

I found this recipe during my usually desultory magazine flip-through when my latest issue of “Food & Wine” is delivered. It’s from the December ’09 issue, and despite being wildly unenthusiastic about food production during the last few months, I was still totally inspired to give it a try. I’ve never had a buche de noel, nor have I ever really yearned for one, but for whatever reason, this stump version spoke to me. So heading into the long weekend, I prepared for making it.

The first step for me was to check, when I got home early from work on New Year’s Eve, whether I needed to be making any cake components so it would be ready to eat the next evening. I read all the active parts of the cake and frosting recipes, neglected to read the “make ahead” instructions about what could be kept for how long before assembly, and decided it all had to be made in one fell swoop. That was my first mistake. But at least I did think to make my meringue mushrooms ahead of time.

Meringue Mushrooms

Having never baked meringues in my life, I did consult a recipe for assistance with this. I’m glad I did, too, because it never would have occurred to me that you pipe the stems and the caps of the mushrooms separately, then assemble them with a tad more meringue and bake until the “glue” is set. I would have just tried (and failed) to pipe mushrooms in one fell swoop, and would have gotten angry, cussed a lot, and declared that we weren’t having a stump de noel after all. So thanks, Joyofbaking.com! You’re a lifesaver! Or at least a stump de noel-saver.

Makin' Mushrooms

So here’s how I made them:

Ingredients:

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have that, just run regular sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds)

Instructions:

Using a mixer with clean, grease-free beaters (or whisk attachment), and in a clean, grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Then add the sugar in a gradual stream while still beating on high speed. Continue to beat until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks (about 5 minutes).

Position two racks in the oven to allow room for two sheets of meringues, and preheat the oven to 200 degrees (F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a medium-large piping tip; I think the one I used was about 1/2 inch. Put most of the meringue into the pastry bag, reserving enough to pipe later as the “glue” in the mushroom assembly (about 1/4 cup), and then get to piping those mushrooms. For the caps, pipe circles about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high, and try to twist the pastry bag so you don’t end up with peaks on the top. If you’re like me and do end up with peaks, just smooth them out with your fingertip, dipped in water. For the stems, just pipe like a little hershey kiss shape, dolloping a base onto the tray, then just lifting the pastry bag straight up. Make more bases than you have caps, because they won’t all work out, and because you’re going to want to eat them.

Bake the caps and stems for 1 hour, or until they are dry and hard, rotating the trays once after 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and using a pointed knife or toothpick, make a little hole in the center of the undersides of the caps. Put the reserved meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a fine tip (or in a sandwich bag with a fine tip cut from the corner), and pipe a small dollop into the hole. Then fit the pointy end of a stem into the hole, and put the mushroom, cap-down, onto a parchment-covered baking tray. Once they’re all assembled, return to the mushrooms to the oven for about 25 minutes, until they’re set.

After they’re fully baked, you can sift cocoa powder over the tops for decoration, and then either gobble them all up on the spot, or save for decorating your buche/stump de noel. I know it was touch-and-go there for me whether the meringues were going to survive an entire day while waiting for the cake assembly.

Dressing the Stump de Noel

So, New Year’s Day dawned for me with a platter full of mushrooms and the prospect of baking a stump hanging over me. I hadn’t read the recipe very carefully, so I had no idea what was in store for me. When I cracked open the magazine and really looked at it, I realized I had horribly miscalculated how much work was going to go into this thing. There are a lot of steps in this cake. A lot. But with no hockey but the dumb Winter Classic on TV, I decided to forge ahead, and set to separating all those eggs. (Counting the meringue, and the one broken yolk I had, this whole baking affair used 22 eggs. All separated. I don’t think I’d separated 22 eggs in all of 2009.)

In case you don’t want to follow the link to this recipe (again, it’s from the December 2009 “Food & Wine”, just to give credit where it’s due), here it is:

Ingredients for the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
1 dozen large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Malted buttercream and dark chocolate buttercream (recipe below)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets and line them with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all of the short sides. Butter the paper and dust with flour.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the 1 cup of flour with the cocoa and salt. In another small bowl, combine the chocolate and espresso. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of the sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk and beat at high speed until the yolks are pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture along with the vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and the whisk. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on moderately high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and continue beating at high speed until the whites are glossy, about 2 minutes longer. Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter with 1/2 cup of the batter; fold this mixture into the batter. Working in 2 batches, sift the cocoa powder mixture over the batter and gently fold it in. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it out to fill the pans. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cake feels springy and dry; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to racks to cool completely. Run the tip of a knife around the edges, cover with parchment paper and a baking sheet and invert; peel off the parchment on top.

5. Spread the Malted Buttercream over the cakes. Using a ruler, cut each cake precisely in half lengthwise, cutting through the paper; you should have four 6-by-17-inch strips of cake. Roll one strip into a tight coil, leaving the paper behind. Roll the 3 remaining cake strips around the coil in the same way to form a very wide, short jelly roll. Set the cake on a large plate, spiraled end up. Frost the outside of the cake with the Dark Chocolate Buttercream. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours. Decorate the cake with meringue mushrooms, cranberries and rosemary sprigs and serve, cutting the cake into wedges or horizontal slices.

Ingredients for the frostings:

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 cup malt powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
12 malted milk balls, crushed

Instructions:

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat the egg whites at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes. With the machine on, whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until smooth before adding more butter. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream to a bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate. Beat the dissolved malt powder into the remaining buttercream, then beat in the milk balls.

(For the record, I omitted the malted milk balls.)

Stump de Fridge

The stump was too tall for my cake dome, so I had a bear of a time jury-rigging a foil covering for it that wouldn’t mess up my “artful” frosting.

Whew! That’s a lot of recipe there. Oh, it might not seem like it on paper, but dude. I think I used every single bowl I own. Making the cake batter was almost comical, how the steps just would. not. end. I was cool with beating the egg yolks and sugar, then adding the chocolate. And I was cool with folding that into the egg whites. But dude, the folding in the butter? That’s just crazy! Anyway, after what seemed like a lifetime of tempering and folding, the batter (which was delicious, I might add) was ready to bake, and I was ready to wish I’d made the frosting ahead of time. My recommendation if you try this recipe is to read all the notes about how you can make the frosting up to four days ahead of time, and to have someone else do the cleanup for you.

What I discovered about the frosting part of this project is that it didn’t take 8 hours to set, as the recipe suggests (I let the frosting chill in the fridge for about 2 hours before assembling the cake, and it could have been sliced right away, I think). Also, I didn’t have enough of the chocolate frosting to do much more than crumb-coat the outside of the cake. It barely hid all the cracks. I’m not sure that separating out more of the frosting to mix with the chocolate would be a good idea, though, because there was a perfect amount of the malted buttercream for the filling as the recipe is written. I dunno. My advice is to make more chocolate frosting. As it was, I didn’t have enough on the outside to do any artful fluting to create realistic bark to go with my realistic mushrooms.

January 1 2010

But you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care that my stump wasn’t barkfully fluted. I don’t care that I reached the end of my rope when making the buttercream and didn’t mix in all the butter perfectly. And I don’t care that I didn’t have the recommended rosemary sprigs and used bay leaves to set-dress my cake instead. You know why? Because the cake is AWESOME. I have never made anything that looked this incredible. I am so delighted with it. I love it. When we got out the tripod and staged our stump de noel photoshoot, I was as giddy as if the Devils had just won a huge game. This cake was a total victory for me.

Furthermore, look how cool it looks sliced!

Slice of Stump

I had my concerns when I was handling the cakes that this would be dry, but it wasn’t. It was perfect. As adorable as it looked assembled, it tasted even better. It was a ton of work, with a bit of frustration, but was absolutely worth it. We managed to kick off 2010 with a bang, and so far, it’s been a great year!

[Posted by Schnookie.]

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Filed under Baked Goods, Celebratory!, Fancy Dessert, Pommerdoodling, Seasonal, Special Events, You Don't See That Every Day