Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Quilting is my first love, but unless I have a binding ready to work on, there are times it’s just not that portable.  So I decided to give knitting a try.  I became intrigued with the idea of knitting socks while reading Judy Laquidara’s posts about knitting on Patchwork Times.  Judy actually hosted a sock knit along, but it conflicted with my travel plans to Houston.  Also, it had been decades since I held a pair of knitting needles and my first effort was anything but successful.  As I recall, Aunt Mary had to finish the project for me.

So, I started with re-learning the basics by making a number of these dishcloths using a free pattern I found online.  To my surprise, they have withstood the stress of being used and laundered beautifully.

After many false starts, I have almost completed my first sock.  It doesn’t bear close scrutiny but at least it is recognizably a sock.  I need to attempt the technique for weaving the toe closed before I can begin its mate.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Favorite Cookie Recipe--Merry Christmas

On December 21 Judy at Patchwork Times asked if we had recipe boxes.  My answer is an enthusiastic “YES!”  And here it is.  When I first set up my own household in the 70s, Aunt Eula Belle gifted me with this acrylic recipe box and over the next few years she and other aunts, especially Aunt Mary for whom I was named, provided me with a collection of lovingly typed recipe cards. 

Christmas at Aunt Mary’s house always meant bountiful platters of cookies. 

The recipe for her nut crispies follows.  It is still my favorite.    I remember her serving them from the 60s forward.  I offer it as a Christmas gift to you and living memorial to someone who was very dear to me.  I hope all of you are having a safe and joyous Christmas.

Aunt Mary’s Nut Crispies

1 cup shortening (2 sticks butter)
1 egg yolk (use egg white for top of cookies)
1 cup ground nuts (not too fine)
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups flour

Cream shortening and sugar and then add egg yolk. Add flour.  Spread as thin as possible on ungreased cookie sheets (this amount just about fills two sheets).  Beat egg white slightly and spread over top of dough.  Sprinkle ground nuts on top.  Press nuts down firmly in egg white.  Bake in 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Cut in bars while still warm.  Do not take cookies up until cool.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Gifts

Last night I got into a panic thinking that a couple of gifts I had prepared were just a little too skimpy, so I pulled two more tote bags I had cut out and sewed them up.  Bob was at the ranch hunting so the dogs and I had the house to ourselves.  It gave me a chance for some quiet time before our holiday company starts arriving Monday.  After that we will be busily involved with friends and family for the better part of two weeks. 

The quiet time also gave me a chance to listen to an audio book I checked out from the library:  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  I have been enjoying it so much I hope I can finish the last CD before shutting down my sewing room to make room for air mattresses.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finished…I Really Mean It This Time

Even though I posted about finishing this quilt October 28 when it came off the quilter, I don’t consider a quilt really finished until it is bound, labeled and ready for service.  I managed to get the label on this one last week.  I think it will go on a bed at the ranch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Design Wall Monday—12/20/2010

The center for Carolina Chain is almost together and I have found a pattern in a very old Quilters Newsletter for a paper pieced border.  Here is a picture of the published quilt with the border.  I won’t be adding the prairie points. 

Here are the fabrics I thinking about using.  I hope the green, which is so dark it almost appears black, will tone down the center’s busyness and give the eye a place to rest while the gold/burnt orange and fuchsia/orange batiks will give it some life.  As usual, the photograph shown on my computer is not true to the colors.  This is really outside my comfort zone for both design and color, so I will do a few blocks to get an idea of how it will look assembled and get some feedback before going too far. 

Judy Laquidara's site, Patchwork Times, has lots of inspiration to offer today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Ready to Party

The house smells wonderful today.  I have been baking cookies to take to the annual Christmas party with my circle of quilting friends.  The gift I’m taking for the exchange includes a bottle of Mary Ellen’s Best Press wrapped in one of my tote bags and decorated with a “quilty” Christmas ornament.  I used two cuts of Christmas plaid instead of tissue paper for the gift bag.

 I hope the recipient is pleased…I wonder what I’ll get!     

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bound, Labeled, and Done!

I finished binding and attaching the label on Dave’s quilt last night.  It’s ready for its new home in his RV.  I hope he will be able to pick it up on his way to South Texas where he spends the winter to escape Wisconsin’s cold.  

I’m learning just how hard it is to get a photograph of large quilts.  I can hang twin-size and smaller from some bookcases we have in one of our rooms.  However, at 98 inches square, I had to put this one on our bed, stand on a ladder and hold the camera over my head.  Can anyone give me hints on how they handle photographing their big quilts?  I’d love to hear from you.  Unfortunately, I also had trouble with lighting in the room where I took this photo and the colors are washed out.  The photo does not do it justice. 

Carolina Chain is progressing slowly in my very messy sewing room, but the rows are coming together. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Design Wall Monday -- 12/13/2010

Work continues on Carolina Chain.  Redoing some of the blocks to include more contrast has made it easier to see the positive/negative pattern.  I’ve rearranged the placement of some of the blocks since taking this picture in an atempt to make the left side transition a little softer.  Sewing the top together has begun at last.
Someday this messy pile of half square triangles may be a new project.  The squares are the result of a friendship triangle exchange hosted by a local quilt store using a collection called Harvest Homecoming.  Sadly, the store closed its doors last week after being in business less than a year.  Whenever I needed a break last weekend from playing with Carolina Chain, I would remove foundation paper, trim dog ears and press the pieces while pondering how I might use them.  I should have enough for a throw.  Shortly before the store closed, I went back and bought fabric for a border from the same collection.

Here are the last of my home grown tomatoes, still edible in December.

Check out other design walls at Judy Laquidara's site for lots of quilting inspiration.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting the Spirit of the Season

Time to get serious and make some decisions about decorations this year.  I pulled out a Christmas throw I competed early in the year along with some older decorations that are very dear to me. 

Here is the nativity scene that belonged to my Aunt Mary.  According to the stamp on the bottom of one of the figures, it was made in 1955. 

My Aunt Mary made this Christmas stocking for me.  It’s had a few too many years and a little too much loving to be in pristine condition.  However, even today I marvel at the detail she lovingly put into it.  It is draped over my grandmother’s rocker. 

It wouldn’t be the season for me without a little whimsy.  These two reindeer are perched on a pair of vases my father brought back from India where he served during World War II.

Just as all the bittersweet memories were beginning to crowd in on me; I glanced outside and saw this.  Even though they were being naughty, I had to smile.  Fortunately, they were fighting over a cast-off towel.

It looks to me like Chloe is having to work a whole lot harder than Harley.  She doesn't know it yet, but she's about to get a bath.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Play Time and Another Sheet Bites the Dust

One of the nice things about being retired is that we can sometimes take advantage of spontaneous opportunities that were not possible during our working years.  We decided Sunday to make an impromptu trip to the ranch after church.  As a result of our rush to get away, we forgot some groceries we intended to take and were forced to make some creative menu modifications, but we managed nonetheless.  Bob killed another hog which he smoked, and I loaded an old sheet on Fiona along with some batting remnants and practiced making feathers using my new Micro Handles.  I need lots more practice, but I am encouraged.  When I became fatigued with standing at the quilter, I indulged in some piecing therapy and worked on my Carolina Chain project using my vintage Singer 301.  I really love that old machine.   At night I worked on the binding for Dave's quilt while we watched television.

We’re home now and its back to the joys and stresses of the Christmas season.  Hopefully there will be other opportunities for stolen moments at the sewing machine.