Rowan’s Quilt

I recently finished a quilt for the latest addition to our family, my niece Rowan. I used a deceptively simple pattern for it called Square Play. I really liked how it turned out as it gave each of the fabrics that I used a chance to really pop out.
IMG_2855.jpg

This was a nerve wracking quilt to make. It was the first quilt I’ve ever made where I ordered all of the fabrics for it online. Have I mentioned that color matching based on photos online is a little unnerving? Are the colors true? Are the proportions right? You get the idea. The story ends well, since I’m pleased with the results.
IMG_2857.jpg

If you want to see more pictures of the quilt, just click on one of the photos and that will take you to the set on Flickr.

Since I’d like to start keeping a list of what fabrics I use for each of the quilts, I figure here’s a good forum for that. So here goes.
Prince Charming Turtle Bay, Aqua
Valori Wells Wrenly Wildfield, Gypsy
Valori Wells Wrenly Rosette, Cerulea
Valori Wells Wrenly Bloom, Cobalt Blue
Valori Wells Wrenly Ingrid, Cobalt
Valori Wells Wrenly Wildfield, Cobalt
Valori Wells Wrenly Wildfield, Cherry
Valori Wells Wrenly Boho Stripe, Cerulean
Valori Wells Wrenly Bloom, Citrus
Valori Wells Wrenly Wren, Cobalt Blue
Valori Wells Wrenly Bloom, Mandarin

fanciful quilt

The latest of my quilts that I’ve made was a bit of a fanciful flight for me. While I normally love to use bright colorful fabrics, I usually tone them done with some calmer solids. This time, though, I decided to have fun with all of the fanciful fabrics and just sew them together in a spiraling pattern outwards.

IMG_2757.jpg

When I started the quilting, at first I thought I would do diagonal lines against the straight lines in the pieced top. Instead, though, I decided to stipple the quilt to give it a lot of curve against such straight lines. I’m really pleased with how it came out.

IMG_2760.jpg

The quilt was a real treat to make. I was sorry to see it go, but it went to a good home. Good luck Kelly and Jeremy!

IMG_2756.jpg

chakra quilt

Part of my yoga teacher training including an independent project. How do I apply the yoga I learn on my mat when I get off my mat? For my independent project, I made a quilt of the chakra colors. While the colors are beautiful and have a lot of meaning, it wasn’t my primary focus when making the quilt. My primary focus was the process itself of making a quilt and how I felt that this quilt is a story of my life.
IMG_2551.jpg
Quilting can be broken down into two major parts. The first part of the process is the piecing. The fabric must be cut into various shapes and sizes and pieced together. While the matching of the colors is very artistic, the cutting and piecing of the fabric is mathematical and precise. If you don’t cut each piece to be just the right size with straight and accurate lines, your fabric won’t be sewn together straight. You can even cut the fabric correctly and then sew the pieces together too quickly or clumsily and the fabric can bunch together. Intersections of where multiple pieces of fabric fit together line up incorrectly. The design of the quilt is completely changed by carelessness and hurry in the foundation. If care, though, is taken to cut each piece with straight lines and in the right size and shape and then if those pieces are sewn carefully together a beautiful quilt top can emerge. This is the part of the quilt that the world sees most easily.
IMG_2566.jpg
This quilt top is the part of me that the world sees. I can choose to not care for my body and soul. I can not take the care and time to figure out who the real me is. This person can get through life, but so much of it will be illusion. I can also choose to take the care and time to properly cut out the different parts of me and put them together into a tapestry of who I am. I can examine each piece and choose to get rid of the parts that don’t go with the rest of the quilt or the pieces that just don’t fit. When I’m finished, I will have a representation of who I am to show to the world.

The second part of quilting is the most important part in my opinion. Once the quilt top is finished, that’s all it is; a single dimension of fabric that while it’s pretty it has no depth to it. This is where a piece of batting (cotton or wool that’s been pressed together almost like felt), the quilt top and a backing are layered together. Once these three pieces have been layered, the pieces are stitched or quilted together with thread and needle. Each stitch binds these layers together a little more tightly. Quilting can be done quickly and it will hold the pieces together for at least a short period of time. Over time, though, the pieces will slowly unravel and all you will be left with is a quilt top, a piece of cotton or wool and another piece of fabric. If the stitching is tight and done carefully, though, these pieces of fabric can be held together for generations.
IMG_2568.jpg
The quilt itself is my world. It is the ties that bind me to all of the relationships I have formed in my life and will form as I continue through my journey. Each stitch is a person that I have been touched by in however a minor way. That tie can either be loose and eventually unravel or that tie can be held tight by care in the making and maintenance of it.
IMG_2570.jpg
My studies have taught me how to look at myself and be honest with the person that I want to be. I’m willing to take the care and time to construct a quilt top of all the pieces that make up who I am. I have also learned how to interact with the world so that I can make ties that bind and hold with the people around me. This quilt is my life.

The best part of the quilt was when I presented it to my classmates. We shared ourselves and our lives when we were in that class. I wanted to take that with me, so I had my classmates and teachers sign a piece of fabric and I appliqued it onto the back of my quilt. Now, whenever I look at this quilt, I will remember what a wonderful experience teacher training was for me and the great friends that I made.
IMG_2716.jpg

South In Ur Mouth – our intro to staff meals

Last night we went to this small restaurant tucked just off of Scottsdale Road and Camelback. The area surrounding it is filled with all of the trendy Scottsdale bars. Petite Maison, though, is anything but trendy or a bar. Instead, it feels like your walking into a small little French villa and you’re being welcomed into someone’s home rather than a restaurant. There’s more seats outside on the patio than there are in the small dining room. The interior is paneled in wood, giving a warm glow to the room. The patio is surrounded by vines and small potted trees. You feel like you’re in a garden sitting out on the patio.

Petite Maison serves a late night staff meal where their normal staff gets a chance to sit down and eat after service and other guest chefs can come in and prepare the meal. The rest of us also get a chance to sit down and have a nice late night (10pm – midnight) meal. There’s usually only a couple different plates that are offered and their reasonably priced around $10 – $12 a plate. There’s also a drink offered, fondly dubbed the “red cup”.

Sean and I finally got a chance to get up to Petite Maison because a friend of ours, Tony Morales was preparing the staff meal that night, which he fondly dubbed “South In Ur Mouth”. So, no, I didn’t make the title of this post up. It’s his fault. In my constant quest of good Southern food that I didn’t have to spend the time making in my kitchen, whenever I hear Tony’s working in a kitchen, I try to be there. Last night’s meal was no exception to a delicious late night meal.

The two dishes that were served were Rock Shrimp with Smokey Cheese Grits and Fried Green Tomatoes with Catfish Hushpuppies and a red pepper remoulade. The red cup was called Orange Marmalade. Delicious is a tame word for the two dishes. Sean was kind enough to let me have the shrimp and grits in front of me since he understands my obsession with grits. I took my first bite with a small piece of perfectly fried shrimp in a light flour batter, surrounded with cheesy looking grits and I was in heaven. The grits were perfectly cooked. At first, we thought the cheese in them was smoked Gouda, which would be a good one to put into grits because of the creaminess you get, but Tony corrected us. It was a sharp smoked cheddar. Brilliant! You get the smokiness, but also a nice tanginess with the sharp cheddar. Needless to say, there were no grits left when the plate was taken away.

IMG_2102.jpg

The fried green tomatoes were coated with the standard cornmeal style coating, but it was thick enough to truly encase the tomato slice. The green tomatoes used were at just the right ripeness so that they were soft enough to eat, but still had that slightly bitter tang that unripe tomatoes have. When Sean shared one with me, at first I thought that the tomato was under-salted, but then when he shared some of the remoulade on his plate, it was exactly right. Everything came together perfectly. Now, on to the catfish hushpuppies. I should put a disclaimer here. I eat catfish. I was raised on fried catfish, so I’ve never had a problem eating it. Sean does not like catfish. He doesn’t like the muddiness you tend to get from it and thinks that when it’s cooked, it’s usually too dried out by the time it’s served. Sean ate the catfish hushpuppies. Not only did he eat them, I was lucky to get one off of his plate to try. He consumed them. The typical muddiness wasn’t there at all and the fish was moist and delicate. If I didn’t know better, I would have almost questioned whether that really was catfish.

IMG_2104.jpg

Now that I’ve had a chance to wax poetical about the food, let me mention the “red cup”. It was called an Orange Marmalade. I love orange marmalade. It’s kept in the fridge and it frequently finds its way onto my morning toast. This was like orange marmalade turned up to 11. It was fresh squeezed orange juice, vodka and lemon peel that had been sitting in Everclear (the remnants of making limoncello). It was deadly delicious. I consumed 2 before I realized that I was going to have to drive my car home and I wanted to make it home in one piece.

IMG_2099.jpg

Overall, the late night meal was a great experience. We also got the added bonus of meeting some of the foodie friends that we know through Twitter. We’re already discussing an opportunity to go back to Petite Maison to order off of their standard menu.

Hana Japanese Eatery

Recently we had the chance to eat at a well known establishment in central Phoenix. Hana Japanese Eatery is tucked away into a small strip mall along 7th Avenue.

Thankfully, we go there just in time because the restaurant filled up quickly after we got there. Hana isn’t very large. It’s got about 20 tables in it and the sushi bar. Upon walking into the restaurant, you can tell that this is a local establishment well loved by its patrons. The hostess greeted people with familiarity. Several people were conversing with the sushi chef at the counter.

The menu had a good amount of variety for being such a small place. You can get everything from the standard pieces of nigiri to bowls of filling ramen. Thankfully, Sean and I met up with 2 other friends when we went which meant we got a nice variety of food to try out. Amongst our orders were the
Yakibuta Ramen
IMG_1937.jpg,
nigiri
IMG_1942.jpg,
Hana Tempura
IMG_1941.jpg,
Hana Bento and a couple of their specialty rolls
IMG_1939.jpg.

The service was actually pretty good even if they were very busy from the moment we walked in. Our teas and waters were kept filled. Food was brought out promptly. Everything was fresh, so you knew that none of our dishes had been sitting in the kitchen for too long. The food was delicious. I got the ramen because bowls of ramen are like chicken noodle soup. They’re soul comforting and this definitely hit the spot. The roasted pork in my soup was very tender and perfectly cooked. The tempura that one of our friends got was crispy with just the smallest coating of tempura batter so that you could still enjoy the vegetable itself. They didn’t just use the standard set of boring vegetables in their tempura. There were a few we actually had to think on what they were. I’ll never turn down a tempura fried carrot again. Sean’s bento box was the perfect amount of food considering the variety that he had. All of us left pleasantly full without being stuffed which is always a plus in my book. The staff also didn’t try to rush us out the door once we were finished and had paid our bill which was great since we wanted to catch up with our friends.

Overall, Hana Japanese Eatery is a great restaurant with good food and good staff. I’m looking forward to getting another chance to eat there.