another postcard

Hi. I'm Maureen. ;-)

Pratima graciously asked me to post a few words about our experience doing the Postcard quilt together.
Gulp. This is my first blog post.
Ever. :-)
Pratima and I met online a few years ago. Our relationship started out innocently enough, ;-) we were both participating in a block of the month. Little did we realize that within a short time we would be attempting such an amazing project.
This is my "Little Blossoms" block. I would never have attempted this foundation pieced block, but Pratima encouraged me to use a foundation that was more like interfacing and it worked wonderfully!

After a number of months we ended up being the only active participants in the block of the month. During that time I quickly realized what a kind, generous person she was. She was so encouraging. She had me attempting things I would have never previously contemplated. I learned so much from her!!

I really admire her knack for design and her ability to combine diverse fabrics to produce really spectacular quilts. There are so many of her quilts that I want to do exactly as she did them!!

Before we arrived at the end of our project we started thinking of ideas for our next endeavor. We discussed the idea of doing a medallion quilt. I have enjoyed seeing many come to life online.

Pratima and I both admired the designs of Kaffe Fassett and looked through his books to find a project that would be both fun and challenging. We decided on the Postcard Quilt designed by Liza Prior Lucy.

My next step was to look through my boxes of fabric to find a focus fabric that was worthy of such a fantastic pattern.
This is "Marrakech Bazaar" by Free Spirit.

I purchased it years ago and it has been waiting to be used for "something special". This project certainly met that criteria! Luckily, I also bought a number of prints from the line. They really came in handy in this quilt! One unusual thing about the Postcard quilt pattern is that it called for 25 different fabrics. Pratima and I both wanted to predominantly use fabrics from our stash.

Block #1

My first block was blah.
I knew I needed the adobe and also the green colored fabric in the quilt but this block didn't convince me of that!!

A few rows later, the center seemed to anchor the rest of the of the design.

And then there were times...

Ugh! This was beginning to look too dark to me!

but then...
when I began auditioning fabric for the background of the next row it lightened up again!!

I eventually stopped worrying

and realized that everything would balance out.


Thanks so much for looking.
Thank you, Pratima for being such a wonderful, sweet and kind person!! She really makes the world a much brighter place!!


meadow of flowers

a meadow

with long winding paths

sprinklings of pebbled walkways

trails dotted with wildflowers

flying geese flocking to the stream...

...few gulps and they are off

while little lambs merrily play in the grass.

This is a 2 year old project that my friend Maureen and I have been doing together. I got distracted with other things and haven’t worked on it until recently. It’s been lingering for so long that I got panicky with visions of a UFO hovering over me forever… I had to roll up my sleeves and finish it before another year pass by.

I mostly started this quilt to practice working with templates and wanted to use what I had in my stash which was very limited at the time. This Little lamb fabric is one of my favorites and was left over from another baby quilt. I had to use it sparingly considering how little was left. I picked colors from this print to choose rest of the fabrics.

Some of the fabrics were just fat quarters and as the quilt was growing in size I kept running out of them and finding replacements was challenging. I hope it came together without looking too patchy.

Maureen has been my guardian angel through out the process. It was her idea to do this quilt and I don’t think I could’ve pulled it off without her helpful suggestions all along.

Her work is a synonym for perfection. Unlike me, she painstakingly mapped out even the tiniest details and worked hard to get everything right. Her pieces fall where they were supposed to fall and the borders end just where they were supposed to end. It is truly a labor of love.

She doesn’t have a blog but I’m so happy that she’s going to be sitting with us under the Peepal tree and tell more about her quilt soon.

Maureen has been with me since the beginning days of my quilt journey and I’ve learnt so much from her. She is always encouraging and sweet and kind beyond words. I thank my lucky stars for having crossed our paths. I hope she drops by often and treat us with her beautiful works.

Thank you for taking time to visit… it sure is crunch time for crafty elves. And I hope you didn’t mind my unusual post on flowers in this frosty month :-\

~Pattern is ‘Postcard quilt’ from Quilt road book by Kaffe Fassett.
~Focus fabric is ‘Little lambs’ by Michael miller and checkered aqua fabric is Carolina gingham.

Wish you and yours a joyful December and happiest of holidays! ( * u * )


So long fall

Though I did not go on my ritual tour of fall foliage, skimming thru my old albums quenched my thrist for wanderlust. Wanted to share these pictures with those who missed your favorite fall drives and for those who are not in the North East region.

A tiny being and 3000 miles trek home - it is the season of Monarch

Brilliant and peaceful - Forest Hills Cemetery, MA

Spectacular scenary, I would go here anytime of the season - Lake Willoughby, VT

Charming and lovely country side - Craftsbury, VT

Fall driving piligrimage - Smugglers' Notch, VT

Carpets of color - White mountains from ME & NH border

Somewhere on the backroads of VT

Hidden jewel close to home - Walkup and Robinson Trail, Westborough, MA

Hope you all had a wonderful halloween and hope you have a great week ahead.

~ Kalyan


Freda's flowers

A friend was visiting from India and they are expecting a baby in December. Luckily, I was able to finish this quilt and give to him only a day before he was returning home.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to doodle around the flowers in the border. I’m so glad that they lured me in as that first unsure step is out of the way. I’m looking forward to trying more things in free motion quilting.

The backing is an old fabric by Fabri-quilt. And the binding is ‘Look and learn’ by American Jane. Thank you Nanette, for this beautiful pattern!

While we were in New York, we visited Gray-line linen shop in the garment district. They have a wide selection of linens that are mostly priced at $8 per yard. I got a yard of each of these fabrics. They were very helpful and friendly. I would love to visit this shop again if we go to New York city.

And I did make a quick trip to Purl soho… I just kept running my hands on their Liberties and couldn’t believe how soft and sweet they were! I didn’t have the heart to cut into any of them… instead contented myself with some Sashiko thread and these quilting needles. I haven’t heard of these needles before and I'm curious to see how they work.

Happy weekend! ( " u " )


Dappalam (pumpkin stew)

Fall evokes warm fuzzy feelings and cravings for things cinnamony or sweet. And it sure does entice our thoughts toward ghastly looking creatures and plump pumpkins of autumn harvest.

…I guess it is time for a hearty pumpkin stew with chockfull of wholesome veggies that is sure to make our tummy, hauntingly happy!

Dappalam is a stew traditionally cooked with pumpkin along with bottle gourd, eggplants, sweet potato, okra and Drumsticks possibly because these are in season locally but it can be prepared with any vegetable at hand.

The sweetness of Pumpkin is perfectly complemented by the sour juice of tamarind and the heat of green chilies. And the rice flour added towards the end mellows the slew of flavors and brings out the earthiness which is signature of this dish.

For some reason, in all of our childhood stories – the ones which were told on dark starry nights, ghosts took up residence on tamarind trees... whenever we neared a tamarind tree the rush was indescribable as was the thrill of ghoulish adventures and the nightmares that followed. So, I felt it is apt to talk about tamarind in the Halloween month.

Unlike sweet Tamarind, the one that is meant for cooking purposes is pucker-inducing tart and imparts sharpness to the otherwise mildly sweet dishes. Tamarind pulp is an important ingredient in most of the south Indian recipes especially in dals and stews where as in the North, Amchur (dry mango powder) is the chosen ingredient for this use. Though they both taste sour, each adds its unique flavor. Amchur is easy to use in stir-fries because of its powdery form and has a slightly metallic tinge to it.

Tender tamarind sprigs which begin to bud with the arrival of spring are made into many beautiful dishes combined with either dals or vegetables or meat and are considered delicacies as these tiny first leaves are available for only a very short time in the year. Tamarind leaves too are sour and if we happen to pass by a tamarind tree, we reach for the leaves, pluck a few and nibble & relish just like candy!

Preparing tamarind extract

Tamarind pulp comes in a compressed bar form or is readily available as a concentrate or paste in a jar.
Break lemon-sized tamarind pulp from the bar into pieces. Rinse and soak the pulp in a cup of hot or warm water. And set it aside for at least 30min. This softens the pulp and makes it easy to extract the juice.
Squeeze out as much juice from the pulp as possible with your hands into a separate bowl. Repeat the process by adding more water to the pulp until there is no more juice left to extract.
Sieve the extracted juice into a fresh bowl. You could store this juice for up to a week in the refrigerator.

If you are using the concentrate, you can simply put the required amount directly in the stew when we come to that part.

serves 4.

Half of small pumpkin
Half of a small Bottle gourd
Onion – 1 medium
Okra - about 5
Egg plant – need about 1/4 cup to ½ cup of chopped egg plants
Sweet potato - 1
Drumstick - 2
Green chilies - 4 (slit length-wise)
Ginger - 1 tbsp (finely minced)
Tamarind extract - 1 tbsp (adjust to taste)
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - ½ tsp
Rice flour - 1 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp

for seasoning

Oil or ghee or butter - 2tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilies - 1 (broken into pieces)
Fenugreek seeds - ½ tsp
Kari leaves - a sprig
Garlic - 1 clove (crushed)
Asafetida - a pinch

Preparing the vegetables

Pumpkin: cut in half. Remove seeds and strands. Peel the shell and discard.
Cut into medium-sized pieces.

in the pic, you can see the spongy part of the Bottle gourd piece which contains seeds is separated.

Bottle gourd: It is a summer squash shaped like a bottle. It tastes mildly sweet.
It is better to pick a smaller one which is tender with seeds and fiber not very mature.
Peel the skin and discard. If the squash is not tender, we can easily remove the spongy part along with seeds and discard. Cut into med-sized cubes.

Sweet potato: peel skin and cut into med-sized cubes.

Eggplant: cut into med-sized pieces.

Okra: Trim the stem & tail and discard. Cut 2 inch cross-wise pieces.

Onion: cut into medium sized chunks.

Drumstick: Scrape the skin slightly. Trim the ends. Cut cross-wise pieces which are about 3 to 4 inches in length.
Drumstick or munagakaya (as we call it) is a woody vegetable with translucent pods nestled in a soft green flesh in the inside. The outer skin is very fibrous. Tender drumsticks are prefered as the pods and flesh in them are baby soft.

The way we eat it after having cooked is to suck the sweet juice out of the drumstick piece… while it breaks open, scrape the soft flesh with teeth and eat it along with the pods. Then we chew on the woody outer skin until it’s pretty dry and spit out the pulp. It kind of feels messy, but it is one of those simple pleasures where time stops and you just forget everything else around you and indulge in for a wee little while.

I forgot to take a picture of the inside, but you can see it here and read more about this nutritious and medicinally rich plant.

We grew up with a huge Drumstick tree in our backyard and have many interesting stories around it, one being dodging the spiky caterpillars that cover every branch of this tree and lose their grip and take free falls from time to time… eeks!

cooking the vegetables

Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add onion chunks and green chilies. Cover and cook until the onions are translucent but should still hold the shape.

Add all the chopped vegetables along with finely minced ginger. Sprinkle turmeric and salt.
Mix well. Cover and cook on low-med heat. Keep stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. They usually get cooked in the water that oozes out of them. But if necessary add little water and let them cook until they are done.

Add tamarind juice and mix carefully to not mush the vegetables.
Adding the sour tamarind juice before the vegetables are cooked slows down the cooking process. That is why we add it later.

Don’t cover the pan now. Let the veggies simmer and soak-up the juice for about 10 min.
At this point if you feel the stew is too thick, add water and adjust the salt & tamarind juice to taste. It is like a balancing act to get the sweetness, tartness and saltiness of the dish just right.

The best way to go about it if you are hesitant is to add everything little by little and balance until you get the desired results.

Mix a tbsp of rice flour in half-cup of water and stir-in. This serves as a thickening agent and gives the stew a creamy consistency. All-purpose flour or Besan (chickpea flour) can also be substituted for rice flour.

Let it cook on low-flame for about 5min. Sprinkle cilantro sprigs and remove from heat.

Seasoning the stew

Take a wide skillet and set it on medium heat. Add oil or butter or ghee. Once the oil is hot enough, add red chilies. After a couple of sec. add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and then cumin seeds and a crushed garlic clove. When the mustard seeds are beginning to splutter, add a pinch of asafetida and Kari leaves. Hold a lid or spatter screen over the pan so that the seeds won’t splatter all over.

Pour this mixture into the stew and mix well.
Serve with rice or enjoy a hot bowl of this stew with a toasted slice of bread on a chilly evening.

~ The acidity of tamarind reacts with metals like copper, tin or aluminum. So, it is better to store the juice or concentrate in glass containers.
~ Fresh Drumsticks can be hard to find it here. But frozen drumstick pieces are always available at Indian groceries.

Are you still with me? ( ' v ' )
It looks elaborate but once the vegetables are cut, it is very easy to make.
Hope you’ll give it a try with an assortment of veggies that are available to you.

Have tons of fun carving eerie eyes and wicked smiles too ( ^ w ^ )