A Near Finish

There was housework to do yesterday, but I sacrificed that time (cough) so that I could get back to quilting the Yard Art quilt. It's been nearly a week since I last worked on it. To be honest, I needed to sew as much as I wanted to sew. There was just one more row of blocks to quilt, and then I moved along to the borders where I had in mind to do this piano key sort of straight line quilting.

When it comes to quilting on Eliza, I've created a rule for myself that every quilt is a practice quilt and every quilt offers an opportunity to learn. This has the dual purpose of making every quilt a successful quilt if I gain practice (pretty much a given), and if I learn something (hard not to do). Yard Art is a quilt that is allowing me to practice straight line quilting, and just in a nick of time since I'm doing nothing but straight line quilting on the Live, Love, Teach quilt scheduled to be under the needle next month.

Yesterday I was able to give this new tool acquisition a good workout, and I am very pleased with how it performed. I've told you about this tool in a previous post. It's a sort of ruler template available at Four Paws Quilting and you can see a video demonstration by Patsy Thompson right here. I've used it before for stitching in the ditch. The only problem I encountered was that my "ditch" wasn't always as straight as it should be. Yesterday, I was trying to follow the lines printed on my fabric, and it was very helpful. Simply choose a spot where you can line up some aspect of the template with your fabric line. In this case, I've lined up the left edge of the ruler with the outside edge of that bright pink line. You can see that the ruler extends down both sides of the machine foot, effectively trapping the foot between the two sides of the template and forcing a straight line.

The problem I've had with regular ruler templates is that I can't watch the ruler and the needle at the same time. If I take my eyes off the ruler, it can slide out of place. Take my eyes off the needle, and I tend to sew away from the edge of the ruler. With this ruler, one need only watch the placement of ruler. If I keep the ruler lined up correctly, the needle must stay in that track. Nifty, huh? And there you go...a nice straight line of stitching.

When you come to the end, you can simply shift the ruler around and move to the next line. In the image below, I've lined up the hash mark on the ruler with the needle.

Then, I stitched in the ditch to the end of the ruler, and then shifted it around again, lining it up for the next line of stitching.

When I finished the first side (the right side in the image below), I took the quilt off the machine and laid it out flat so that I could see how I was liking it.

I called for the quilt inspector but was disappointed to learn that he's joined the International Brotherhood of Quilt Inspectors Union. He was waiting for help to arrive, as written in his labor contract.

Nope. Nothin' doin'. I'm not inspecting any more quilts by myself.

Oh well. We're short of help around here right now since the other inspector quit rather abruptly. She didn't even leave a note. It's going to take a few weeks or more before we can hire anyone new. In the meantime, I checked on it myself, and it's looking pretty good to me.

Back to the machine, and I was able to finish three of four borders before it was time to quilt. 

We went out to dinner last night to celebrate our wedding anniversary: 41 miserable years, as Mike likes to say. Our small town of Newberg, and indeed all of the small towns that comprise Oregon wine country, are fortunate in that we have a wealth of very good restaurants. The Painted Lady in Newberg is one of our favorites. Just this year their chef, Allen Routt received a "Best Chef" nomination from the James Beard Foundation. Not bad for our little one-cow town. The restaurant is located in an old home in downtown Newberg.

The dining room is small and intimate. We selected a bottle of wine from our own wine cellar (aka, a nook in my sewing room) and took it with us. It's had some time to age, and it was wonderful.

And then the show got under way. We were served up this little "amuse", which consisted of a fried Japanese cracker, some fried porcini mushrooms, and on that spoon is a little "sponge" of cucumber. I don't know how this works, but it was kind of the consistency of a marshmallow with the distinct flavor of cucumber. Everything you see here was light as a feather.

Here's the menu we were working from: 8 courses, so try to keep up.

This was a rather sophisticated menu, and a bit of a challenge to our palates. Everything was delicious, however, and we ate every single bite. In the image below is the Sous Vide Egg Yolk. (Just now I looked up the translation of sous vide. It means "under vacuum". Yeah. Don't ask me.) It looks for all the world like a raw egg yolk separated from its white, but it was warm like a sunny-side-up egg yolk. That's a little cracker it's sitting on and there was some broth under the cracker. We broke the yolk with a spoon and then used the cracker like a chip to eat it. It was really wonderful if a little scary to look at.

Next up, the Composition of Spring Vegetables. Very light and tasty.

Okay, now this next course challenged our courage a little bit. In fact, I was so anxious about it that I started eating before taking a picture. This is the Potato Gnocci, but if you look at that menu up there, you'll see that it includes "glazed sweetbreads". You can see them at the top of the image there...sort of brown little globs. Now, I've only eaten sweetbreads one other time. They were breaded a fried light as a feather. They were delicious. It was only after we got home that night (around 20 years ago) that I looked them up to see what they were. It was before the age of iPhones and instant access to Google. So, go ahead...I dare you: Google sweetbreads. In fact, here you go, I'll link to them so you can see what they are. Scary, huh?

The first time I had them, they were all hidden in the breading, and I had the advantage of ignorance fueling my appetite. When these arrived, so up front, naked, and forward, it was a bit of a challenge. I sort of disguised mine in among everything else and swallowed them without chewing too much. Then, I waited to fall off my chair and start wretching. Nothing happened, and as you can see, I'm still alive and writing this blog post. A culinary close call, to say the least.

Okay...putting that behind us, we moved on to more familiar territory. This was the first place where we had to choose between two menu items. We each chose the "Colors of Spring" which was pretty much fresh asparagus in whole stalks and also peeled lengthwise into strips. It came with a wonderful selection of stuff for dipping. We enjoyed that very much, and I stopped thinking about the sweetbreads.

After that, the main course was served. We could choose between the salmon and the filet mignon. The smoked oysters convinced us that the filet mignon was the wiser of the two, although it was hard not to choose both.

After that, the cheese course. Yum.

Then we cleansed our palates with a sorbet of carrot and ginger. That little white cookie there is very light, like a meringue, and made from coconut. The combination was delicious. The sorbet was so tasty that I'm motivated to see if I can find a recipe to make it at home.

And here, was our third and final choice...dessert. One choice included strawberries which is pretty much death for Mike. He can't have those little seeds. Instead, he chose death by chocolate in the form of the Chocolate and Hazelnuts.

I chose the Berry Vacherin (Vacherin translates to "cheese"). That little scoop there in the lower left side of the image was a cheesy sort of thing with the flavor of strawberries. In the middle at the top is a raspberry meringue cookie of sorts.

Want to see what's under that little cookie? As it turns out it was more of a cake than a cookie with fresh raspberries and a semifreddo underneath. Yum.

Oh wait, did you think we were finished? Well. We were still starving, but fortunately, they brought out this little tiered tray of goodies. At the top is a sort of fruity gumdrop. In the middle white and dark chocolate candies. At the bottom, some little macaroons and what I thought might be Bit O' Honey wrapped up fancy. Actually, it was a salted caramel little candy. 

And after that, we rolled on out of the restaurant and headed for home. What a nice night.

This morning it's back to the grind. I started the new Wine Country stitchery. When I took the first few stitches, I was working backstitch, but I took those out. I'm going to work this one in stem stitch. I like the heavier line, and it's a little more elegant to my eye.

And then I finished up the fourth side of the Yard Art quilt. And that means the quilting is finished!

Here's how it looks from the back. 

Today I'm getting my hair permed, and I might make a quick stop at the grocery store (depending on whether I think I can subject the general public to the smell of my hair). Hopefully, I'll be home early enough to get the binding sewn on by machine. Oh yes, and I suppose I should get back to the housework I had planned for yesterday. Maybe I will, and maybe I won't. I think life should be full of surprises, don't you?

7 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

I have always wondered about those templates. Brilliant idea and even more so if they really work! I have been thinking, window shopping, fantasizing about buying a Real Machine since the one I have sucks and I still keep trying to sew things. I'm telling myself that if I had a Real Machine I would sew a lot more and make way better stuff but I am known to be a liar, so who knows. Visited the Janome, Brother and Bernina shops yesterday . . . decided to add a quilting frame and platform to my sewing machine fantasy. If I'm going to pretend I deserve the one, it seems obvious that I would need the other, too. What a cool anniversary dinner -- you are such adventurous eaters! A lovely way to celebrate any number of miserable years. :)

Kate said...

Yard Art turned out wonderfully! That was quite a dinner. I'd have balked at the sweetbreads, you are much braver than I am.

quiltzyx said...

I agree with Kate, you two ARE much braver eaters than me too. But boy does that filet look scrumptious! I've been craving beef this week, so I had a steak salad at a little Mexican restaurant near work. It had lots of thin strips of delicious beef on it, with some perfectly ripe avocado too. Mmmm.
Yard Art looks great. Nice job on those straight lines! I like the look of your stem stitch embroidery. Makes a nice bold line. Good job!

Marlene said...

WOW your dinner looks amazing-glad you have a nice evening. I've never eaten sweetbreads and don't really have any desire to do so!!
Thanks for the write up on the ruler-I somehow missed your last mention of the ruler, but I have now ordered one. Our exchange rate does not make it a cheap ruler but I think it will be worth it, and how sweet they include a free pattern for International orders to acknowledge the cost of postage.

Beth said...

Mike's "41 miserable years" quip reminds me of something I heard from two of the most resilient, happy people I've known. They were like 2nd parents to me, and they were celebrating their 50th anniversary while acknowledging that it would be their last, due to Dad's terminal cancer. On the day of the family party to celebrate their milestone, the little children from church made a banner and hung it in the yard: "Congratulations on 50 wonderful years!" Dad wryly commented to us, "Well, 45 wonderful years and maybe 5 lousy ones. Not so bad, overall." Now we tease each other on anniversaries, congratulating on our own "estimates" on how many "happy" years they've had out of the actual number they are celebrating. I think the best example is that they were celebrating that final anniversary; Dad would have counted that among his good years.

Dana Gaffney said...

Congratulations and Happy Anniversary, maybe it's your love of food that keeps you together, David would have walked out on that meal :).

SJSM said...

Gotta say, that is an impressive dinner! It would be the type of adventure my hubby and I would like. I, too, would have to not think about which sweetbreads was Bing served and just trust the chef would work magic. Cucumbers and me don't get along but I might suck it up for this particular meal.

Your sewing is a great way to spend a day. Using the templates and showing the pictures helps to understand their value.