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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reversible Food Fabric Placemats & Napkin Rings

Ta da!!!  The reversible food fabric placemats are nearly done.  I still need to purchase 8 buttons and make one button hole on each napkin ring.  Had considered ripping the darkest strips (the black berries and cherries on black background).  I'm SOOO glad I slept on it.  The next day I realized: What goes in the middle of a placemat? 
A plate, of course.  The strips in question will hardly be visible when the placemat is in use.  Boy, I'm glad, cuz I hate ripping!  :)

They're Back - 2!

Image Detail

I THINK I spotted this winter visitor last week!  The White Throated Sparrow has been a regular winter visitor for many years - but for some reason, I never spotted them last year.  I'm wondering if they headed further South because we has such deep, deep snow.  They tend to feed on the ground and stay very close to cover.  I hope to get another look at this fellow this weekend to make a certain identification.  I sure hope he sticks around this year!

The Juncos are also back for the winter. I love how they twitter and zip around below the feeder. Am seeing lots of Chick-a-dees, Red Breasted Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers - though I see them year round.  I put out suet, which is always popular with this crowd.

I've tried to pay attention to exactly when the robins head south.  So far, they are still here in Southern Wisconsin.  Saw one today, in fact.

The Starlings, Grackles and American Crows are forming good sized flocks.  Its hard to know if they are local birds preparing to migrate, or perhaps birds from Canada passing through on their way South.  Speaking of Canada, today we saw many, many geese on even the tiniest bit of water. 

Will be keeping my binoculars close at hand!  :)


best computer cartoon
I'm not exactly a whiz with computers, but can usually figure out how to do what I need to do.  Unfortunately, since I changed my email address a few weeks ago, I'm not getting my bloggy friends' comments by email - which of course, makes it hard to respond. 

Google Blogger says it won't post emails to  And it won't let me change my primary email address.  It'll only list the new one as secondary.

I WAS getting a copy of all my bloggy friends' comments at my old email address, but have not received a single comment since changing providers and my address.  I looked in my spam folder to see if the new system didn't categorize the messages correctly and they aren't there either.

Anybody know how to correct this?  I'm stumped!

Thanks in advance!  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Feel for Lumps, Save Your Bumps

An Arizona high school has banned its cheerleaders from wearing pink T-shirts that read, 'Feel for lumps, save your bumps.' >

Have you been following this controversy?

A team of high school cheerleaders made up these shirts to wear while collecting money for Susan G. Komen March for the Cure.  But guess what?  The principal banned the shirts from school.  I gotta wonder if he knows how prevalent breast cancer is, and that it can be detected early by doing self-exams? 

Undeterred, the girls have gone on to sell the shirts on a national scale.  More power to you girls!!!

To Rip, or Not To Rip?

Here's a quilt-as-you-go placemat I made the other day.  I have enough fabric to make a set of four.  The red and green plaid is the backing fabric.  I'll be selling these at a Holiday Craft Fair - something I've never done before.  Am struggling a bit with how to price my goods.  But I have time to think about it.  Meanwhile, the more immediate decision is to replace the blackberry strip or leave it as is?  Only two of the mats will have this fabric - the other two will have cherries on a black background.  The dark color looks incongruent - but then again, isn't that what "scrappy" is all about?  So what say you?  Rip or keep as is?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An "A Ha" Moment!

Sometimes we look, but we just don't see.  I've been making origami bags for more than a year.  Only today did it occur to me that I could remove the work table and position the bag as pictured above.  Doh!  I had been stitcching the casing it in a very awkward manner, which resulted in getting my fingers poked by pins - a lot.  If you never noticed, getting stabbed with pins takes a lot of fun out of sewing!  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Audacious Autumn - Its a Finish!

This quilt is finally complete.  Hooray, hooray!  I suspected that the red stitching might not show up well on the busy fabrics, and I was right.  But here is a picture of the quilting before I washed off the chalk.
I drew a large, leafy branch across the quilt, then stippled around it.  In the process of marking the quilt, my chalk pencil wore down to a nub.  So I went to the fabric store to pick up a $0.99 chalk pencil.  Wouldn't ya know, they didn't sell them.  I could either buy a washable white pen or the Dritz Chalk Cartidge Set pictured above for $13.99.  Irked, but really wanting chalk (and being too lazy to go elsewhere) I begrudgingly tossed the kit in my cart.  But this story has a happy ending.  The chalk cartidge is superior to any chalk pencil, pouncing powder or washable marker I've ever used.  Yes, it does rub off easily...but if you draw something you don't like, you can just brush it off and mark it again.  I can't (yet) stipple freehand with my machine, but I can draw stippling with chalk and stitch on the line all day long.  Once I found the best way to mark the quilt, the quilting didn't take long at all.  :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The F Word Returns

We've had a number of frost warnings, and managed to extend the growing season by several weeks by covering plants.  But its gonna be 29 degrees tonight; all good things must come to an end.  A coworker told me that if you leave your green tomatoes on a short portion of vine, and tie them up like herbs, the tomatoes will turn red. I don't know if it'll work, but it's worth a try.
Last night I harvested all my tomatoes and peppers.  You saw the tomatoes.  The peppers are now diced and frozen.  The remaining plants were composted.  Lookin' forward to results next spring.
A few days ago rabbits ate the base of my 8' green bean vines. The plants were withering before my eyes!   Had to drop everything, tear down the vines and harvest every last bean as quickly as possible. The beans were promptly trimmed chopped, blanched, chilled and frozen.   No quilting got done THAT night!
Tonight I dug up carrots.  Here are the fruits of my labor.  Short on fruit, long on labor! They ARE on the small side, but they grew in partial shade.  If I plant them again next year, I'll have to relocate them.  Got enough for several meals.  Cleaning root vegetables is a lot of work though!  But they are now scrubbed, peeled, trimmed, chopped, blanched, chilled and packaged.  They are freezing as I type.  Once again, no quilting got done tonight!
I brought my last three herb pots inside until I have time to deal with them.  The chives and parsley were harvested a few weeks ago - but they grew back!  I'd been procrastinating on the oregano because its difficult to work with.  I think I'll dry it this time (froze it last time) and see if that works any better.

So my 2011 garden comes to an end.  The only things  I covered are the flowers and pumpkins around the front lamp post.  I'm not ready quite for winter, but I AM embracing late fall.  I find being in touch with the natural cycle of things is very calming.  (And its a good antidote to the increasingly premature Christmas displays in all the stores!)

This pilgrim is grateful for a good harvest -  and is VERY ready to do some quilting!  :)

Gluten Free Banana Muffins & Potluck Etiquette

These GF banana muffins were whipped up for a bake sale at work.  Having dietary restrictions means that if you want to participate in food-related events, you can't just run to the grocery store and pick something up.  But that's OK, cuz I DO enjoy the challenge of coming up with GF foods that others will taste and say "Boy, that's good!"  As a dietitian, I figure the more people I educate, the easier it will be when they or someone close to them learns they have to modify their diet for one reason or another.
The muffins were made using Pamela's Baking and Pancake mix.  The muffin recipe on the side of the package is really easy.  I doubled the recipe to make one dozen.  Then I used a topping from The Cake Doctor Bakes Gluten Free.  The topping for the Cake Doctor's New-Fashioned Banana Muffins is:

1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 c. chopped banana chips 
The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free
The topping appealed to me because I had made a GF apple/pear crisp (NOT a Cake Doctor recipe), and the struesel topping was a disaster.  I figured the banana chips would be flavorful and provide a nice crunchy texture.  And did they ever!

At the last potluck I attended, I was horrified that someone dropped brownie crumbs all over my clearly labeled plate of gluten free cut out, frosted cookies.  With one careless action all my hard work went down the drain - the cookies were no longer GF.  I wanted to sit down and cry!  Instead, I removed the GF label and bit my tongue (hard).  There was no undoing it - so why make a fuss? 

So THIS time I got smart!  I put each muffin in a ziplock sandwich bag, labeled Gluten Free Banana Nut.  Not only did the few of us that are GF get to enjoy the muffins (sans cross contamination), but a number of people who do NOT have celiac disease tried them and liked them.   Success!  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cadillac Composter

Here's my brand-spankin' new composter.  Ain't she a dream?  I told my son I have compost fever.  Tho he thinks I'm a little kooky, he DID build this for me.  FYI - we spent about $100 on raw materials and got 3 bins measuring 3 x 3 x 3 feet.  No commercially produced composter will give you that much space for 100 bucks.
Here it is in use.  The front slats are removable, so you can add them as you fill a bin.  I hope to have two bins full of the correct proportion of brown matter (leaves and brown cardboard from toilet paper and paper towel tubes) to green matter (garden and kitchen waste).  In warm weather the decomposition process should take about 6 weeks, resulting dark, rich soil.  I hope to have two bins filled in the proper manner before winter sets in.  This is a great time of year because when you tear out your garden you get a whole bunch of green matter, and of course Mother Nature provides the brown matter in the form of fallen leaves. 
The plan for this composter came from Crockett's Victory Garden, by James Underwood Crockett, published by Little, Brown & Co., Boston/Toronto, 1977.  Crockett's approach to gardening was geared to maximum production in minimal space - allowing people to grow more of their own food in lean economic times.  Very fitting today! 

Though Mr. Crockett passed away in 1979, he recorded his wealth of garden knowledge in many books and in a television series that's available on video.  I just googled "Crockett's Victory Garden" and found the book is available for anywhere from $5.00 to $292.00.  WOW - I knew I liked this book for a reason!

For more information on composting see this (one hour) instructional video:

I found it most helpful.  Hope you do too!  :)

Wednesday Wellness - Breast Cancer Awareness 2011

Hey - Did you know its Breast Cancer Awareness Month? 

How could we possibly NOT know?  Pink lights on the capital, pink grocery bags, pink football, pink, pink!  But maybe some of us need to be beat over the head - maybe it will prompt those of us who neglect to do monthly breast exams, and postpone our mammograms to be more proactive. 

One in eight women will have breast cancer in her lifetime.  And sure enough, last week I learned of another friend who is a breast cancer survivor - and she had her treatment about the same time her stepmom was having a double mastectomy and aggressive follow up care.  

So I'm making another batch of origami bags in this year's pink ribbon fabric.  The bag at left was made last year. I'll be making 8 bags.  Some will go to a church craft fair, some will go to a fundraiser at work and some will be tucked away for family or friends impacted by breast cancer in the coming year.  I hope I won't need as many this year as I did last year.  To make that happen, we need to know the facts:

I'd like to point out this is not just a women's issue.  Men can also get breast cancer, and they are most certainly impacted when breast cancer strikes a wife, partner, mother, sister, daughter or friend.  We really must spread the word to anyone who will listen.

I'll be tucking a copy of the CDC fact sheet in each of the bags.  According to the CDC, I need to make some lifestyle changes.  I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Retreat Goodies

I won a block swap at the recent retreat.  The top center block is my handiwork.  I'll have to think about how I'll use these.  I'm picturing a black and brown wall quilt with the top three blocks, and a fourth that I'll need to create. 
In the gift swap, and received a set of coasters and some plum wine. 
I also acquired this stash of plaid fabrics.  I've been wanting to make the quilt pictured below.  These fabrics, combined with some of my own will give me a good start.
I need to take a few weeks off of work so I can quilt!!!  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy 102nd Birthday Grandma

This weekend we celebrated my Grandma Clara's 102nd birthday!  Here she is talking with my cousin, Rob.  Apparently she had been quite perky and talkative the day before the party and I think she may have worn herself out.  She was tired when the party began.  But in true Grandma Clara form, she perked right up when  it was time for cake and pie - and she didn't miss out on petting my sister's dog.  Grandma LOVES babies and animals!  She taught me all the basics of sewing, knitting, crocheting and hand embroidery.  Some day, when she is no longer with us in this life, her love, lessons and legacy will be with me always - and will continue to shape the course of my life when someday I am a grandmother.  :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quilt Chicks Retreat 2011

I need to go on quilt retreats more often.  Here's what I accomplished:
Quodlibet Quilt top is complete.
Made my first ever mini quilt block.
Got 8 origami bags stitched. 
Still need to pick up the cording for the draw strings.
Any excuse to step foot in a fabric store.....  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Sesame Street Tackles Child Hunger

I tip my hat to Brad Paisley, Mrs. Paisley and Elmo for calling attention to this serious problem.  There's an easy way to give this time of year.  If your garden is overflowing, please share your bounty with a neighborhood food pantry or homeless shelter.  In these tough economic times, there are good hardworking people that need a helping hand.   No child should have to fill her stomach with water until it feels full.