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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Stash

 My "stash" = One under-the-bed box.  LOL

But isn't it nicely organized?  R O Y G B I V,  browns and blacks. The whites are soon to be in use.  Just the novelty prints and scraps defy my logic.  Not pictured: One laundry basket of "To Do's"  for 2010. 

Happy Quilting in the New Year!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Project for 2010

Virtual Christmas Quilt Show 2010 - Here I come! 

Got this table runner kit at The Stitcher's Crossing ( today.  LOVE the pink pointsettias.   Also found fabric to use (eventually) in my pet portrait quilt.  2010 is gonna be a good year!

The Stitcher's Crossing

Visited my favorite quilt shop in the whole wide world - the Stitcher's Crossing, "where traditional meets contemporary."

Walk in the door, and you see every color imaginable: beautiful quilts, japanese prints and florals, an entire wall of batiks, even outer-space fabric for the kids.  There was so much to look at, I just plain forgot to get pictures of the completed quilts overhead and in the lesson area.  That gives me an excuse to go back!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jungle Babies Quilt

I learned Baby Malcomb was on-the-way just 6 weeks before the due date.  Needed a simple design to meet the deadline.  Fell in love with this Jungle Babies fabric.  Used cotton for the top, fleece for the back.  Got it done in 4 weeks.  Then I got THE call...

Malcomb's Mama went to the hospital twice.  TWICE she was told "you're not ready - go back home."  A couple hours later, Malcomb was delivered at HOME, by his (terrified) GRANDMA - before 911 responders could even get to the house.  The 911 dispatcher told Grandma what to do over the phone.   Fortunatley, Mama and Baby were fine.  But poor Grandma was pretty frazzled!

Here's the cause of all the fuss.  He's a cute little peanut!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

100th Christmas

My favorite gift - sharing Grandma's 100th Christmas.  Here she is in her Christmas duds, pearls and (of course) with her favorite purse.  Sure hope I look that good 51 years from now!

Took my Christmas Tree quilt to show her.  Her vision is fading, but she saw the tree, birds and animals, and felt the beadwork.  It's so gratifying to still be able share this - she taught me to do these things.

Other gifts - The first Beauty of Birds ornament to complete my collection, Blogging for Bliss, a squirrel-proof bird feeder, Bailey's Irish Cream and homemade Peppermint Citrus Sugar Scrub for tired hands & feet. 

Not pictured: Two hard cover books - America's Quilts and How to Make an American Quilt.  The latter is fiction - which intrigues me.  Will share more about these treasures in a future blog.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Tree Au Natural - Finis!

Scrambled to finish this quilt for Christmas, and Sew Cal Gal's Virtual Chrismas Quilt Show (  Mission accomplished - with 68 minutes to spare! 

This project was inspired when I learned my youngest niece is "into" lime green....then Sew Cal Gal posted her VCQS challenge.  Since then, assorted family, friends and bloggers have contributed to the design process.  Thanks so much for your creative input.  When I look at this quilt, I'll think of each of you.

This quilt represents my large pine tree that houses cardinals, juncos, chick-a-dees, rabbits, squirrels, owls and who-knows-what-else!  Feeding and sheltering God's creatures is a Christmas tradition I enjoy.  Perhaps you will too, with the following tips from the National Wildlife Federation.

Winter Gardening Tips for Wildlife

1. Provide food for wildlife with native plants that offer acorns, berries and seeds.
2. Clean and fill your birdbath on a regular basis. Invest in a birdbath heater.
3. Anchor your old holiday tree in a secluded part of your yard. Wildlife will use it as shelter.
4. Provide additonal cover by composting needles, pinecones and wreaths from your holiday decorations.

Visit for more information.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too Many Options, Not Enough Time

When the quilt won't "talk" to me, the camera usually will.   This is my first attempt at embellishment -  adds a whole new dimension to quilting. 

So...rick-rack, wooden beads or berry garland?  Tail feather or not?  Gotta decide - time is running out!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Raspberry Meringue Kisses

Meringues should be made on a clear dry day.  Learned this year about superfine sugar.  To make your own, blend granulated sugar in a food processor until fine.  Just tried it - the sugar dissolved beautifully.

Raspberry Meringue Kisses

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
3 1/2 Tbsp. raspberry gelatin
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Beat egg whites with salt until foamy.  Add gelatin and sugar gradually.  Beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved.  Mix in vinegar and fold in chocolate chips.  Drop from teaspoon onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 275 degrees for 35 minutes, then turn oven off.  Leave in oven for 30 more minutes.  Cool completely before storing.  Stores well in cookie tin.

For more info on meringues, see

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Tree Au Natural

Charging along like a herd of turtles!  Shall I quilt, then embellish - or - embellish, then quilt?  I'm stumped!

Gift Giving

If you are able, please make a donation to your local food bank at this time of giving.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A LITTLE Progress

Hooray - I FINALLY got to do something quilt-y!  Mr. Bunny and Mr. Squirrel are taking shape.  Took forever to find the right fabric.  Then I had to modify Mr. Bun's silhouette - until it was JUST right.  This slowed down the progress on my Christmas tree quilt.  But judging from the tracks in the snow, I'm still on track to make an accurate representation of the animals in and around my pine tree. 

Still hoping to get this baby stitched, quilted and embellished in time for Sew Cal Gal's Virtual Christmas Quilt Show.  Thank goodness today was my last full day of work for 2009.  Hooray again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Playing Santa

I delivered origami bags (pictured in previous posts) to my coworkers yesterday.  I'd chosen the fabric for each person according to their interests and favorite colors.  Couldn't WAIT to see their reactions.  The ladies were delighted, and set the bags out on display.  These little bags are fun to make, and extra fun to give away!  

Case of the Disappearing Dough

Made this dough on Sunday.  Got around to baking on Wednesday.   I normally get 10 dozen cookies from a double batch - this year I only got 6.  The cookie theives have struck! 

Some weapons in my arsenal against broken cookies are pictured here.  The dough scooper is a life saver.  This one holds 2 tsp.  I'd prefer one half this size for this recipe though.  The humongo metal spatula lets you handle 4-5 cookies at a time.  The scooper and spatula came from a restaurant supply store.  Parchment paper prevents sticking. And a small metal strainer lets you the sift powdered sugar over the cookies, rather than rolling them in it.  This minimizes handling and saves time. 

Chocolate Dipped Creams

1 c. butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. cornstarch
1 c. sifted all purpose flour

Powdered sugar for rolling
2 c. chocolate chips, melted
Sprinkles of your choice

Cream butter; add sugar gradually; add vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients together; blend into creamed mixture.  Chill 2-3 hours.  Shape into balls, triangles, crescents or bars.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  Cool; roll in powdered sugar.  Top with chocolate and sprinkles.  Allow chocolate to harden before storing.  HIDE well!  Makes 5 dozen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Crafts, Quilts, Cookies and Trees

3-Day Weekend Report:

Crafts - Made this for a quilter friend.  Spools on the fabric, spools on the ornament.  Note the common thread.

Quilting - Want to emulate a pine tree in my yard - home to many critters.  Those red things in the air are cardinals (they just look like vultures in this picture).  They're decorating the tree (you just can't see that part yet).  Need some input:  Bunny?  Squirrel?  Neither?  Both?

Should Mr. Squirrel stay sit on the ground or in the tree?  Gosh, that bunny/squirrel fabric sure looks a lot like a brown paper sack...So what color IS a rabbit or a squirrel anyway?   Decisions, decisions....

Baked - 30 dozen cookies.  Used obscene amounts of butter.  Made the dough for chocolate dipped creams.  Dough is chillin'.  Hope to share that recipe later in the week.

Wrapping - Minimal progress, but I got out my secret weapon: gift bags! 

Decorating - Drove to another city, put up my mom's tree, ate lunch, drove back.  Thank goodness for caffeinated beverages. 

Relaxing: Watched a movie with my sweetie, watched my bird feeder while baking.  STILL trying to spot the female cardinal with white markings.  She looks like a Cardinal Cruella DeVille.

Next Up: Jury duty Monday AM.  I'm SOOO hoping they won't want/need/like me.

Have a great week,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Peppermint Strips

This recipe comes from the Wisconsin Electric Power Company, circa 1975.  Peppermint Strips freeze well, and taste EXTRA good when frozen (Yup, I've snitched a few).  I make a triple batch...which is the limit of my biggest mixing bowl.  After Christmas, I always make one more batch, just to keep for our own family.

Peppermint Strips

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter (do not use margarine)
1 egg yok, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1 egg white
2/3 c. crushed mini candy canes (we increased this from 1/2 c. to cover whole pan)

Combine sifted flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in egg yolk, vanilla and chocolate bits. Press mixture into ungreased 10 x 15 x 1 inch pan. (I've always used a 13 x 9 pan). Beat egg white until frothy; brush over top of dough; sprinkle with candy. Bake at 350 about 25 minutes. Cut into strips when cool. Makes about 5 dozen. (I cut mine 6 x 8, for 48 each).

Here's what they should look like before they go into the oven:

And here's how they look when done: 

The candy on top browns quickly. They should JUST begin to turn a golden on the edges when you pull them out of the oven.

Mini candy canes break up easily in a food processor, and are packaged loosely, whereas larger candy canes are wrapped tight and hard to get the cellophane off.   One 9 ounce box of candy canes is enough for two pans.  A large fork works best for cutting in the butter...or you may have to use your (freshly and thoroughly washed) hands.  It's kind of a messy operation, but well worth the effort!

Fabrics and Findings

Red and lime green plaid?  Who'da thunk? 

But I like it!  So I bought some to border my little Christmas tree quilt.  Also found  pointsettia "findings" for 50 cents a pack. 

Then I spied the panel below.  The cows caught my eye.  I'm fond of bad jokes (I herd the bells....), so I had to buy it.  The lady next to me at the cutting table liked it so much, she bought some too! 

It's meant to be a set of placemats.  A Christmas gift for 2010?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Days and Rolling Pins

If it weren't for an occasional snow day, I wouldn't get much Christmas baking done.  But Mother Nature has done her part - dumping 16" of snow on us, with a couple more inches coming.  Blizzard conditions til midnight.  BRRRR!

Got up and made sugar cookies before the dough-stealing, cookie-thieving kids got up.  Good thing they still can't figure out where I hide the cookies!

Rolled cookies can be tricky as inconsistent thickness leads to varying baking times and inconsistent results.  I use the yellow 1/8 inch rolling pin bands for my sugar cookies.  They bake exactly 8 minutes, and they all turn out the same. 

Last year, a neighbor asked to borrow my rolling pin and was shocked to learn it should not go in the dishwasher.  I've attached a site with info on how to care for wooden rolling pins.

They say you can wash it in the dish sink...but I was taught to NEVER submerse it in water.  I prefer fresh hot soapy water and a well-wrung wash cloth.  My rolling pin has been rolling along that way for about 30 years.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

O Christmas Tree

So NOW can you tell what it is? 

Should this be an indoor tree, in a red pot, with yo-yo or button ornaments?  Or should it be an outdoor tree with pinecones, birds and snowflakes?  Please tell me what you think.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Traditions & Crafts II

Hmmm...what could this will be?  Pinned some scraps together to see how they'd look.  Will make a few changes - but not too bad for a first draft.

We DO have one more tradition at my son's poochie nativity scene!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Past

Here I am, with my niece about 30 years ago!  Baby Brook is modeling a flannel nightgown I made for her.  Did the smocking by hand.  I clearly recall rushing to get it done for Christmas Eve. 

Wasn't she a beautiful baby?  She's grown up to be a lovely person and continues to bring our family joy. 

Christmas Traditions & Crafts

Its fascinating to see how tradtions change and evolve from one generation to the next.  The nutcracker collection belongs to my 18 year old son.  When he was 7 or 8, he took an interest in my aunt's collection, so I began buying him one or two nutcrackers each year.  He's now 18 and has a good collection.  This Easter he even acquired an Easter Bunny nutcracker from my aunt.  Eventually I'd like to make him a nutcracker mini quilt for displaying them.  No urgency though as they are currently stored on top of the bookshelf - safe from the dog's waggily tail.

The second picture is a velvet table runner, made for me by a sister-in-law.  I love that it is so traditional (holly leaves), yet so dressy (velvet).  If you look at my previous post you'll see how nice it looks on the mantle with my birds.

Third picture you've seen before.  The tree skirt made by my sister.  I'll be entering this one in the Virtual Christmas Quilt Show.  I suppose I better let her know she's now a celebrity!  Does this mean if I win a drawing I have to give the prize to her?  (I think it does!)  To visit the VCQS see:

Fourth thought....about traditions.  As a kid we always selected and decorated the tree as a family, and the crowning glory was to put up the Nativity scene under the tree.  We worked so hard, making a stable out of Lincoln Logs - we thought it was beautiful!  Over the years, various figures got broken, so my sister made a new set in her art class.  My mom still puts that up every year.  I started collecting Fontanini figures when my kids were small.  I wanted something classic and unbreakable - so the kids could participate without worries.  Every year I put the nativity scene out before anything else - and remind them that THIS is the most important part of Christmas.  I think it sunk in.  However, despite being legal adults, they still act like kids.  This year they told me they'd try not to steal Baby Jesus TOO much!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today's Accomplishments

Only one quilt-related task was accomplished today - got some supplies.  Bet'cha can't guess what I'm going to make out of these!  Looked at Christmas quilt patterns.  Thinking 'bout that Virtual Quilt Show....

The threat of jury duty motivated me to kick Christmas preparations into high gear.  Todays' accomplishments:  Ran errands, put up the Nativity (sans Baby Jesus, just yet).  Put birds on the mantle and birds on the tree...The kids say I have birds (and quilts and flowers) on the brain.  LOL

I'm striving for a woodland theme: pinecones, snowflakes, icicles, birds & berries.  Can't decide, does it need more ornaments?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Log Cabin Tree Skirt

This Log Cabin tree skirt was made by my lovely and talented younger sister.  I have other tree skirts - but even after 20 years, this one's STILL my favorite.  Maybe cuz it was made with love.  When I see it under the tree, it's like a red, white and green warm fuzzy!  Here's a close up of the fabric. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Origami Bags-2

These little bags are habit forming.  Here are the latest three.  Found colored cording - which adds a little pizzazz. 

Now I need to put some goodies inside the bags!