Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sewing Online

For this month's posting, I thought I would share a recent online sewing project that I completed. In all honesty, the actual sewing did not occur online, but the process of receiving instructions over the course of about two and a half months did.

This online project or "sew-along" was hosted by Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts. This past January, I had the opportunity to take a class from Pam (see my January 2014 posting). She shares my love of reproduction fabrics and prairie style quilts. When I learned that she would be starting an online "sew-along" this spring, I decided to participate.

The "sew-along" took place over about 10 weeks. Each week, we completed a new 3.5 inch quilt block or set of blocks that would be included in the project. We didn't receive a pattern of what the final quilt would look like. We just waited eagerly for each Friday to receive instructions for the next block or blocks. 

Week 1 began with just one single block - a square in square. It was easy to sew together, and I was restless to receive the next week's instructions. Here is the first block.

In the next two weeks that followed, we added two additional sets of 3.5 inch blocks. They are shown here on either side of the first block.

As the weeks went by, we completed half square triangles featuring different combinations of light and blue fabrics.

Then came some pinwheels and nine-patch blocks in reds and lights. (I love these classic blocks and the fabric choices that were part of the kit.)

By the end of June, we had completed a total of 49 blocks to be included in the quilt. We had to wait until the 4th of July to see how they would all fit together.

Once I had the final pattern, I began sewing blocks together into strips of seven blocks each. Here are two of these strips. Are you wondering what the final design is going to look like?
Here are two strips that have been sewn together. You can begin to see the pattern taking shape.

Here, at last, is the completed quilt top. I was quite pleased with the final design and have to admit that the blocks were organized in a pattern that I hadn't anticipated. I had tried different combinations of arranging them but did not come close. The one thing I did "get right" was to place the gold and blue square-in-square block in the center. My next task is to get this quilt machine quilted so that I can display it in my home.  
In case you are interested in making this quilt for yourself, kits are no longer available, but a list of the fabrics you will need is on Pam's blog. You can follow along with the weekly instructions beginning with her April 25 posting.

Just as we did not have the full instructions and vision for this quilt at the outset of this project, in the Christian walk, God often chooses not to reveal His plans in their entirety all at once. Our role is to follow in obedience by faith those instructions or plans that God has chosen to reveal to us at the given time. This faith is not fleeting wishful thinking but a confident assurance. As we continue in faith, He then reveals more and more, and the larger pattern becomes evident and is one that far exceeds our greatest expectations. The writer of Hebrews provides us with this perspective on faith:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Soup and Soccer

If you haven't figured it out by now, our family enjoys coming up with some rather quirky rationales for the meals that we prepare. While we are not exactly what one would consider a sports fanatic-type family, we do tend to use sporting events as opportunities to explore new cuisine.
My husband and I are also the types of parents who like to ensure that our children have opportunities to enrich their learning over the summer break. (Insert eye rolling here.) I decided that the World Cup provided a great context for a summer enrichment activity. 
Our daughter's initial task was to look up the three teams that the US played in the first round of the tournament. She then selected one of the three countries as her focus. Her selection was Portugal. 
Over the course of five days, she learned different aspects about Portugal. For example, on Day 1, she learned about Portugal's geography. Her "aha moment" was learning that Portugal was located in Europe and not South America. (Insert my eye rolling here.)
Other enrichment activities included learning a little about Portugal's history, its major industries, and its arts and culture. As it turns out, Portugal is noted for some impressive tile work known as azulejo. Here is a picture:
Her final learning activity had to do with, you guessed it, food. Her assignment was to learn a little about Portuguese cuisine and then find a recipe to prepare. She was told to keep in mind the availability of ingredients, the ease of preparation, and whether she would actually be willing to eat it. Her choice was a soup called Caldo Verde, which essentially means green soup. This soup is traditionally made with potatoes, collard greens or kale, and linguica sausage. Linguica sausage is made from pork and looks like a Portuguese bratwurst. 
We couldn't find linguica sausage in our local stores so we substituted chorizo sausage. It turned out great.

Here are the ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium sized onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
6 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 quarts water (I would imagine that you could substitute chicken broth if you wanted to. If you do, anticipate using less salt).
6 ounces linguica sausage, thinly sliced (as I already mentioned, we substituted chorizo sausage)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound kale, rinsed and julienned

  1. In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until onion starts to become transparent. 
  2. Stir in potatoes and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Pour in the water, bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes start to become mushy. 
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-low heat until cooked through. Drain the fat.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes in the saucepan.
  5. Stir in the sausage, salt, and peppers. Allow soup to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the kale and allow to cook until it is tender. I found that it took about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add any additional seasonings to taste.
  7. Serve with warm, fresh bread.

Here is a picture of how we sliced the potatoes.
Here is a picture of how we chopped up the kale. The next time, I will probably chop it a little more finely. This was actually the first time I have used kale in a recipe.
We actually enjoyed this soup quite a bit and will be making it again. Now we will have to see what other types of international cuisine we wish to attempt in honor of the teams that are continuing on in the World Cup.