Garden Update

The other garden bed - nothing was replanted.
The other garden bed – nothing was replanted.
Replanted tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries in this garden bed.
Replanted bed (tomatoes, peppers, & strawberries).

The vegetable garden is coming along nicely. We had a couple of late cold snaps this year, so I had to replant a few things – tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries. Now that I’ve got everything in the ground… and the weather has started cooperating… we have a pretty good first year garden growing. So far, we’ve harvested radishes and spinach (forgot to take pictures).

 

 

Garden Cover for Raised Beds

We recently added a cover to each of the raised garden beds. I had started seeing birds in the garden, and since everything is planted, I didn’t want the birds and other critters eating the seeds and young plants. In an earlier post about how we built our raised beds, we had secured 8-inch-long, 1-inch-diameter PVC to the inside of the garden beds. To make the hoops, we used 10-foot-long, 1/2-inch-diameter PVC and placed it in the secured 1-inch PVC. Then we placed a wildlife netting over the hoops. This structure is temporary and can easily be taken down. Also, the netting can be swapped out with plastic or frost blankets, if necessary.

PVC hoops in place (without netting cover).
PVC hoops in place (without netting cover).
PVC hoops in place (with netting cover).
PVC hoops in place (with netting cover).

The wildlife netting keeps the birds out, and my little garden is safe for the time being. We are considering putting a short fence around each bed. We have rabbits in the neighborhood, and are waiting for them to discover this garden. Once they do, the wildlife netting will probably not be sufficient to keep them out… so, we may need a more permanent solution (i.e., a fence). Hopefully, this hoop system with netting will keep all critters at bay for a while.

Raised beds with PVC hoops and wildlife netting.
Raised beds with PVC hoops and wildlife netting.

 

Home Brewing – Imperial Stout

A while back, we were shopping around for beer supplies and came across a kit for an imperial stout (Alien Dog Imperial Stout) from Austin Homebrew Supply. We had not brewed a stout before, and this one sounded interesting. We ordered the extract kit with dry malt extract (DME) since we weren’t sure when we would actually get around to brewing it.

Imperial stout ready to be bottled.
Imperial stout ready to be bottled.

Grains used for this recipe were 1/2 pound each of Black Patent, Caraamber, and chocolate, and one pound of Crystal 150L. After we heated two gallons of water to 155°F, we steeped the grains for 25 minutes. We placed the grain bag in a strainer over the pot after steeping to let water drip back into the pot. When it was finished, we discarded the grains, added another gallon of water to the pot, and brought the mixture to boiling.

Once the mixture was boiling, we turned off the heat and added nine pounds of dark DME. We continuously stirred the malts to prevent boil over. After the malt was dissolved, we returned the mixture to a boil. Once a good rolling boil was established, we added 1 1/2 ounces of Millenium hops. These hops were used for bittering and boiled for 60 minutes.

When the boil time finished, we removed the pot from the heat and placed it in an ice bath to cool down to 80°F. This took about 35 minutes. The cooled wort was poured into a 6 gallon carboy and cool water was added to bring the volume to 5 gallons. We poured the wort through a strainer to help prevent sludge from entering the carboy. We stirred the wort to mix well with the added water, and then checked the specific gravity.

Bottled imperial stout.
Bottled imperial stout.

We pitched a dry yeast (Notthingham Ale) directly into the carboy and stirred the wort so it was well mixed. Our brew was stored in a temperature controlled (72°F) chest freezer. We used a blow off tube for the first couple of days of fermentation before switching to an S-shaped airlock. It ended up having a very violent fermentation (i.e., big mess to clean up).

We used primary and secondary fermentation for this brew. We left the beer in the primary fermentor for a bit longer than usual (10 days), and then transferred to a secondary. The beer was in the secondary for 5 days before bottling. Normally, we get 53 or 54 12-ounce bottles out of a 5 gallon batch of beer, but this time we got 47 bottles – due to beer being lost during the violent fermentation. Currently, we are bottle conditioning this stout – should only take a few weeks, and then we get to enjoy this homebrew!

 

Tyler Quilt Show

Once again, I am not a quilter… but since I do appreciate beautiful quilts, I thought I’d share another post about a local quilt show.

My Mama and I recently enjoyed a day at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show. The Tyler Quilt Show is held by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas every March at the Harvey Convention Center. The Harvey Convention Center is located at 2000 West Front Street in Tyler, TX. Parking is convenient and free. Tickets cost $6 each at the door, and the show took us a couple of hours to see. This year’s theme was “Red and White Renaissance,” and there were lots of beautiful red and white quilts on display. This year’s show was the largest yet – over 200 quilts were on display (78 were red and white quilts).

 

Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show
Enjoying the Tyler Quilt Show

 

The categories for judged bed-sized quilts were (the number in parentheses represents the number of quilts in that category):
Hand Quilted – Pieced (15), Appliquéd (6), Mixed Techniques (6), Other Techniques (3)
Quilted on a Stationary Home Machine – Pieced (12), Appliquéd (2), Mixed Techniques (8)
Quilted on a Long-Arm or Track Machine – Pieced (66), Appliquéd (7), Mixed Techniques (31)

The categories for judged small quilts were:
Hand Quilted – Pieced (3), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (10),
Machine Quilted – Pieced (14), Appliquéd (5), Mixed Techniques (20), Other Techniques (6)

Categories for judged quilts with no size limit were:
Art Quilts (3)
First Quilt – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)
Miniatures – Hand or Machine Quilted (10)

They also had an Exhibit Only category with 17 quilts, plus some special exhibits – Grandmother’s Corner (6), Quilt Show Challenge Blocks (47), and Wool Display Booth (17). The show also offered a silent auction for small and miniature quilts, with the proceeds going toward the cost of Quilters’ Guild of East Texas programs.

Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
Quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.
More quilts on display at the 32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show.

Along with all the quilts on display, there were 25-30 vendors set up. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, and quilting gadgets.

My favorite part of the Tyler Quilt Show is The Bed Turning. It is a showcase of antique quilts that lasts about 30 minutes (seating is available). Basically, one lady discusses a quilt’s style and history while two other ladies hold it up for everyone to see. They always have some really interesting quilts.

In addition to the annual quilt show, a needleart show was being held across the road from the Harvey Convention Center. The 21st Biennial Needleart Show was hosted by the East Texas Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America. This year’s show was located in the Tyler Rose Garden Center (420 South Rose Park Drive). Tickets to the needleart show were $2 each. Projects on display included cross stitch, needlepoint, blackwork, redwork, smocking, and other embroidery styles.

32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show
32nd Annual Tyler Quilt Show

Dallas Quilt Show

Let me start this post by stating that I am not a quilter, I simply have an appreciation for the talent and craftsmanship involved in making beautiful quilts. My Mama is a very talented hand-quilter who has made many beautiful quilts (she’s probably shaking her head while reading this, but it’s true!). This year we made a day trip over to Dallas for the Dallas Quilt Show, and we really enjoyed it.

Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.
Entrance to the Dallas Quilt Show.

 

The Dallas Quilt Show (“Dallas Quilt Celebration”), is held by the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas every March at the Dallas Market Hall. Market Hall is located at I-35E and Market Center Boulevard, so it’s a fairly easy location to find. Parking is good – there is plenty of free parking space, but they also offer a valet service. We always park in a nearby parking garage (free) and walk over to the show. Tickets cost $8 each at the door, and the show can easily be seen in a day.

Numerous quilts were on display this year. Walking around and admiring all the quilts is my favorite part of any quilt show. The show had lots of quilts on display with some in judged categories (Master and Artisan), but also special exhibits. We prefer to view the judged categories first, and we always note the hand quilted projects (our favorites). The categories for the judged quilts included a Master and Artisan Divisions for each of the following: Large Pieced (One Person), Large Appliqué (One Person), Wall Quilt (One Person), Two-Person Wall Quilts, Two-Person Large Quilts, and Art Quilts (One Person). Open Division categories included: Miniature Quilts (One or Two Person), Other Techniques (One or Two Person), Group/Friendship, Seniors (One or Two Person), Show Chair Theme – “Edibles” (One or More Persons), Garment (One or More Persons), Pictorial (One or More Persons), Small Quilt (One or Two Person), and First Quilt (One or Two Person). They also offered two Non-Judged Categories: Juniors (17 and under) and Adults. The special exhibits were Modern Masterpieces by Texas Quilters 1989-2010, Modern Quilts of Texas, Go Texan Quilt Collection: Stitched with Texas Pride, Innovations: Quilts by Barbara Oliver Hartman, and Material Mavens 12 x 12 Art Quilt Challenge. The show also offered a Miniature Quilt Auction, with the benefits raised going toward the Search One Rescue Team (a volunteer search and rescue organization based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013
Dallas Quilt Celebration 2013

Along with all the quilts on display, there were numerous vendors (around 150) selling their wares. Vendors were selling all the usual quilting supplies – fabrics, threads, quilting gadgets, sewing machines, plus a few vendors were selling soaps, baskets, and jewelry.

The only gripe I have is the concession area at lunch time. My gripe is because there is not enough seating for the lunch crowd. We know this every year, yet we still always venture in about 12:30 to get our lunch. So far, it works with one of us waiting in the food line while the other goes in search of two seats together. There are four main food vendors – this year we had taco salads that were really good. I’m not aware of any restaurants near the Market Hall, but that would be an option to avoid the crowds, or simply wait until an “off” time to go eat.

Overall, the Dallas Quilt Show is always fun for us. We get to see some beautiful quilts and my Mama gets to stock up on quilting supplies. Definitely worth checking out for any quilter.

Me enjoying the quilt show.
Me enjoying the quilt show.