Sunday, December 30, 2012

After the Holidays

Like many of you, this is the time to assess your stash and finally clean up that sewing room … ahem … that is if you have enough time in between playing with your new toys!

I got a wonderful new book and ruler for Christmas from Lazy Girl Designs:
And these are the blocks that I made from them on Christmas Eve – nope, couldn’t wait to start on these and I opened those presents first!

I had to wait until Christmas Day for the other presents, but it was worth the wait … I had another book, a new pattern for a kids’ quilt and new fabric to fondle and dream about making something special.

And I also gave myself the gift of printing my blog.  I used the website Blog2Print and was very happy with the results.  It was much more economical with the holiday discounts (that I expect they will run periodically).  Since I used to use Webshots (that was taken over by Smilebox or their affiliate) and my photo albums aren’t out there anymore, I wanted to preserve my previous blog entries and these little books did the trick for me.  The glossy pages are nice-looking and it’s fun to be able to reread old posts occasionally.

There are other companies that do this same work, but here is the link to the one I used:

And then it was REALLY on with the cleaning.  I took some UFOs, some fabric collections and some patterns and made kits for myself.  I cleared off the tabletops (well, mostly) and went ruthlessly through my dresser drawers of fabrics.  I took the ½ yard cuts that I told myself I would use “someday, if only I had the right things to go with them” and boxed them up to send to a few ladies at a senior citizens’ center in NY/NJ area that had lost all of their quilting supplies in Hurricane Sandy.  I added a few notions that I had duplicates of and mailed them off, too.  These ladies make charity quilts, bless their hearts, and I couldn’t see this fabric sitting around being unproductive when they could be putting it to such good use.

Then, just for fun, I took the only jellyroll that I had (yes, you could say I uncovered it - LOL) and had a Jelly Roll Race with myself.  It was just as quick as they say and I like how the colors of the jelly roll blend together.  I will add side borders to make it a little wider and then I’m done with another child-size top for Wrap-a-Smile.

Detail of "boy" fabrics
On to 2013 ------ I'll be ready!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Been Busy? You bet!

It’s that time of year … go here – go there – try to feel like you’re accomplishing something – make a list, check it twice – go back to the store because checking twice wasn’t enough!! - you get the picture ...

I did get the Christmas packages wrapped, I did send out the checks to the little ones far away, I did get the Christmas cards sent out and I did decorate a little and bake cookies.  Here’s a sampling of what I made:
Elfin Shortbread Cookies 
Peanut Butter Squares
Kraft Photo - see link below
I used this easy recipe:
Peanut Butter Squares
  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 ¼ cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 ½ cup chocolate chips
Melt butter and peanut butter together in a small pot, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add icing sugar and graham cracker crumbs.  Spread in greased 9”x9” pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Heat in 200ยบ oven for 5 minutes to soften chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly over the top.  Cool in fridge.
After about ½ hour in the fridge, cut into squares, then place back in fridge to harden.  This prevents the squares from breaking when you try to cut them when they’re cold.

For a slightly different version and a larger pan size, use the Kraft recipe:

Coconut Cookies
From Sandy Gluck’s “A Month of Cookies” – use her adaptation #12 to the Basic Dough
Toasted Coconut: Toast 1 cup of angel-flake coconut (the sweetened kind you get in the supermarket in bags) until golden brown. Grind a little more than half to get 1/3 cup ground and replace 1/3 cup of the flour with the ground coconut. Fold the remaining coconut in when adding the egg.

Here’s one source for the recipe:

Easy Pretzel Turtles
And I took an afternoon off to go see a movie – yep, I’m a JRR Tolkien fan.
A co-worker and I have been to see each of the Lord of the Rings movies and to keep up our tradition, we went to see the Hobbit.  It is definitely not for small children, but the teenagers will love it (and adults that read the books long ago won’t be disappointed).  The scenery is brilliant and the special effects are wild.

To read more, click on this link.

And I did get this Quilt of Valor pillowcase presentation package sent off to California where it will meet back up with its matching quilt.  I posted the quilt's picture in this post - it is being professionally quilted before being awarded.

I’m sure to get back to more quilting next week, but I'll leave you with this saying (it sure sounds true but it is not from the Hobbit - LOL).

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
 for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
\Bumper Sticker\Book:  First Grave on the Right\Darynda Jones

Saturday, December 15, 2012

QOV Meeting

I went to my local Quilts of Valor meeting yesterday at the Crafty Threads Quilt Shop and we had a great time!  Our group, the CT Quilters, has a go-to pattern that we make frequently – The Fourth of July by Bonnie Hunter.  We make it scrappy like Bonnie shows so we can maximize our fabric donations and can make kits of the two blocks (a 4-patch and a snowball) for volunteers to make up at home.  This is one top that was finished from that pattern and will be sent to one of our longarm quilters:
 But I really love it when our members bring in quilts that they have made at home from different designs.  These are so inspirational!  These two were brought in by Debbie – her work is excellent:
Debbie put these incredible stars around a panel donated to the group
Debbie used the book below for this new-to-me design
We also had a potluck lunch to celebrate the holidays … lots of fabulous cooks in this group, let me tell you.  I snarfed up some of everything.  Today I had to repent and really work at stretching at yoga class!  Tomorrow I sew …

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Did You Do On 12-12-12?

On this very auspicious day (as far as numerology goes), I ran mundane errands, did a crossroad puzzle, took a walk, took a nap and sewed on my next Little Twister quilt.  I wonder which of those is going to bring me the good luck - LOL?!!

This is the Little Twister that’s still in process:
Set Up Before Cutting Twists

Voila!  Next will be a pink border,
then maybe piano keys ...
And this is the hawk that I saw on my walk.  He’s doing the community a service by keeping the rodent and small snake population down over by the elementary school that’s on a dead end street.  Eat ‘em up, big boy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Early Christmas Present

A good friend decided to part with her and had no one to give her to – her kids didn’t want her – her grandkids didn’t want her – and she just knew I would love her (oh, how true).  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her for the first time:
Her cabinet is a little bit rough (and I forgot
to close the drawer) but she is beautiful!
This is Beatrice.  I call her Aunt Bee (yes, after THAT Aunt Bee that took such good care of the Sheriff and Opie in the Andy Griffith show).

She was born in 1924 and is a Singer Model 66 with filigree decals.  She's a converted treadle:
Decal on her bed
She has so many parts, all original, including her 1924 Manual!
Includes a hemmer and ruffler and her original oil can!
I have been spending time on YouTube looking into how to clean and oil her and change her belt if need be.  There’s lots of info out there and many Vintage Sewing Machine groups that all have helpful info.  I’m going to have a great time with her in 2013!

In 2012, December has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. This apparently happens once every 823 years!  Plenty of time left to go Christmas shopping

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

We are rapidly losing our Veterans of WWII.  They are the ones that best remember that fateful day of December 7th, 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  We pause today to fly our flags at half-staff and remember those who were more than willing to fight for our freedoms.

And this is my latest Quilt of Valor.  It is going to a combat veteran in California.  A volunteer long-armer in Oregon will quilt it for me.
Today, we thank “The Greatest Generation”.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh, no! Not again …

Yep. It’s that time again.  Today is celebrated by many as National Cookie Day even though there has never been an official proclamation.  Who needs to make it official anyway?!  Let’s bake and celebrate!

There are varying schools of thought about the origins of cookies: 
One premise is that cookies had their origins in 7th century Persia after sugar became relatively common in that region.  The little baked items spread to Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain.  By the 14th century, they were common in all levels of society.

Another thought, as expressed in an article in Ezine by William Smith, is that the English word "cookie" is derived from the Dutch word "koekje," which means little cake. Bakers used to place a small amount of cake batter in the oven to test the temperature. They soon discovered that these little bits of cooked batter were quite tasty on their own, and the cookie was born!

However they came to be, the humble cookie has evolved a great deal, and now there are hundreds of varieties baked across the world every day, from the classic chocolate chip to more exotic offerings with caramel, macadamia nuts, dried fruits and more.

Cookies can be broadly classified into 3 categories:
©       Drop cookies are aptly named because the batter is dropped onto the cookie sheet. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin are all examples of drop cookies.
©       Rolled cookies are rolled out like pie dough, and then cut-out using a cutter.  Sugar cookies and gingerbread are popular examples.  Rolled cookies may also be "rolled up" into a cylinder and then sliced off and baked.
©       Pressed cookies are made by loading the dough into a cookie press and then extruding it, typically using various dies to create interesting shapes.  Spritz cookies are the most common pressed cookie variety.
©       Bar cookies are sometimes considered a 4th category since the ingredients are very similar, and the resultant treats are typically cut into single serving sizes (like brownies).

So today, remember this humble little cake by munching on one or by sending a cookie gift to your loved ones.  Here’s a recipe to start you off right:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Grannie Gilbert's Sugar Cookies are a recipe of sugar cookies running with the Gilbert women of Ontario, Canada for more than 100 years. No one knows where the recipe started, but it's been that way as long as any can recall with no real change.

2-3 cups (250-375 g) of flour
2 teaspoons (10 g) of baking powder
1 cup (200 g) of sugar
1 cup (230 g) of shortening/butter
a pinch of salt
3 eggs

  1. In a large bowl beat eggs lightly to break the yolks as one would for scrambled eggs, then mix in the shortening. Soften the butter before hand if you must by heating it a little.
  2. The shortening/egg mixture should be loose, add the sugar, mix well then add the salt to the liquid mixture.
  3. Add the baking powder then slowly add the flour as needed to reach a proper doughy state, you may not need all of the flour, or may even need a little more based on your eggs and how closely you measured.
  4. Make balls and place onto a pan then into an oven heated to 175°C (350°F) and let bake for between 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelin’ Wednesday

I went on a mini-road trip today and had a great time.  I met a fellow Sunshine Quilter (we make children's quilts to donate) up north of Tampa at a new quilt shop, Sweet Darling Quilts, and then we went for lunch.

Oh, did I skip over the part where I went wild in the new quilt shop?!  I had taken a few fabric samples to match for my next venture and I found exactly what I had in mind.  I have some half-yard pieces of a fabric line that has strangely different colors (for me) and a really different design.  The design concept is computer circuits and robots and zigzags, so I’m going with the simple attic windows pattern.  I’m not showing it yet because it’ll look weird, I’m sure, with just the fabrics lined up  – here's hoping that it turns out!

Then I found their sale area and, of course, had to snap up a bargain.  That's just astute shopping, not splurging!

And then, *B* and I went for lunch and she brought her “show and tell”.  She had the neatest stuff – two scrappy baby quilts that were just darling.  I wish I'd remembered to take pictures of those.  And she brought me my Round Robin top that she was assigned to do the last round on.  I think it turned out great!  It’s going to one of those that will be hard to let go!
That's *B* holding my finished top
And lastly, I stopped by another quilt shop by me and gave this top to the lady that donated all of that fabric to me.

Not a 30s print backing, but it's what I had on hand
Her shop collects quilts for Project Linus and she’s going to donate it to them.  I wanted her to donate it in her name since she was kind enough to give me all of that fabric!  I loved this one, too.  I think I’m becoming attached to these quilts … so easy to do!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Sewing

I recently was given a fantastic gift.  I am NEVER lucky – I never win at casinos (I don’t even bother to go) – I never win drawings or door prizes – but I must have been in the right place at the right time one day last week.

I was shopping the pre-Thanksgiving sale at my LQS and talking with the lady cutting my fabric about the children’s quilts that I make.  I told her all about Wrap-a-Smile and Wrap-Them-in-Love and all of the great work that they do.  And then she asked if I wanted some fat quarters that she had been carrying around in her car just waiting to give them to somebody!  Of course, I said yes – I was expecting 3-4 FQs.

And this is what she brought me – that bag was HEAVY!  It had fat quarters (on the left), a layer cake (in the middle) and some yardage (on the right).  I was stunned!!
So yesterday and today I worked up this sweet baby quilt from the layer cake pieces.
9-Patches (sorry about the sewing room mess!)

More 9-Patches

Still more 9-patches

Square in a squares - set on point

Coming Together!
And the final top - it is just too sweet in person!
The pattern is called Fiona and it’s from this book by Me and my Sister Designs:

I’m going to try to quilt it up tomorrow and take it back to show her my appreciation on Monday and give her a thank you note.  What a nice person she was!

PS  The fabric I bought that day had to be put away for Christmas – I wasn’t allowed to play with that!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fibonacci Day

Today is Fibonacci Day because the numbers corresponding to this date fit into the Finbonacci Sequence (Nov 23 = 1,1,2,3).

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about the Fibonacci sequence.  I’ve always been fascinated with chambered nautilus shells and the spirals found in seedheads of some flowers such as large sunflowers or coneflowers:
Chambered Nautilus Shell - Image by Jitze

 Coneflower - R. Knott - Univ of Surrey - UK
Leonardo da Pisa (nicknamed Fibonacci), a mathematician, was born in Pisa around 1170 AD and is best known for a simple series of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence.  The series begins with 0 and 1.   After that, it uses the simple rule of adding the last two numbers to get the next:  1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc.

The Fibonacci sequence appears consistently in nature in various ways – such as in seeds, flowers, petals, pine cones, fruit and vegetables, among others. Some plants branch in such a way that they always have a Fibonacci number of growing points. Flowers often have a Fibonacci number of petals, daisies can have 34, 55 even 89 petals.  Seeds of a sunflower appear to spiral outwards to the left and to the right - and there are a Fibonacci number of spirals.  This arrangement keeps the seeds uniformly packed no matter how large the seed head.

Someday, I’d really like to make a quilt based on the Fibonacci Sequence – it would be quite easy:
To learn more about the mathematical concept, check out these great sites:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It’s Thanksgiving!

Did you Know?
Benjamin Franklin argued that the Turkey should be our National Bird.
He stated that it was more respectable and a native of North America.
Not to be disrespectful, Ben, but let’s EAT!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Drop Everything and Quilt!

There was a cry for help on one of my quilters message boards.  Someone wanted to send a lot of quilts to Afghanistan and she was in over her head as far as the number of quilts she had committed to.  Quilters across the US (and even Germany) jumped in to help, of course.  That’s just what quilters do.  I volunteered to make this one and get it into the mail in about 4 days time.  I just made it (wahoo!).  The pattern is called “Warm Wishes” and that’s exactly what I wanted to send to the young soldier over there.  I hope I get to see pictures when they are delivered in Afghanistan

And then it was back to the children’s quilts:

Lots of Dots is quilted (in a double bubble pattern!) and all done and into the box getting ready to go to Wrap-a-Smile.

The Monsters and Their Trains is now a finished top – I need more fabric for the backing and it’ll be next on the frame.

I love quilting!