Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Going around the world

This year's Around the World block swap is in full swing.  I have a bunch of fat eighths that people have sent me, and I'll try to make blocks and mail them back soon.  I also received my first block all the way from London.  Here is Tricia's Tesselating Star, all hand sewn!

And here's the first Yankee Puzzle block I made and mailed to Denver.  I chose Yankee Puzzle because, after 35 years of living here, I sometimes still don't understand Yankee ways.  For example, some native Vermonters don't like to ask for help unless they can give back in some way.  Yet, they are quick to help when asked. 

One of the nicest things about the swap is that the 6" blocks fit in a regular envelope, so are easy to mail back. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loyal Union Sampler

Sunday I made two Loyal Union Sampler blocks, having not gotten around to making last week's block.  It was hard and I just couldn't face it then.  After making the very easy "hour glass," I decided to stop being wimpy and just get on with "castle wall."  I did it by machine although it had been suggested that by hand was the way to go.  I agree with that assessment, but at least it's done:

I really like the blue/gray combination!
Today I worked on a little heart quilt that I quilted and hung on the front door.  Will try to take a photo tomorrow.  Next on my agenda - maybe tomorrow afternoon? - is the Barbara Brackman block of the month.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I taught the second of the two part applique class Saturday, and people had things to show and tell, thank goodness.  One lady said she likes the dryer sheet method best, but I told her to keep trying and she will find other methods to like, too.  Yesterday, people worked on needle turn and bias strips.  Cutting a strip on the bias turned out to be a little challenging for some, but everyone ended up with a block pinned and then basted into a heart.  At the end, I explained reverse applique but didn't have a chance to get everyone working on one.

It turned out that the hearts were a good choice for this class.  The last two times I've taught applique, it seemed no one finished their projects.  This way, they can make something out of all of the blocks or just a few, depending on their moods, needs, etc.  Together, the hearts would make a cute baby quilt. 

Here are some of the blocks I've made as class samples.  I have a few more to finish up, and then I'll figure out what to do - maybe a table runner?  Place mats?
I made a mug rug out of the sample I did with a dryer sheet on the back.  I machine appliqued it, as I knew I didn't want to keep it in with the other hand appliqued pieces.

Now who will be the lucky recipient.....?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A whole lotta cooking going on

This has been a pretty cold winter, and when it isn't below zero, it's snowing.  We haven't had that much snow so far and, in fact, we had a little thaw that left us with some bare ground.  But those little snow showers can make the roads pretty "greasy" as they say here in New England.  Now we are in the middle of a cold snap, so I've been doing more cooking than usual.  I've made a bunch of bread, and last week I made a big pot of pea soup and some apple crisp.

Sunday, I made a big batch of curried sweet potato coconut soup from a holiday card I received.  It was delish, especially with some homemade bread.  Today we are having another rib-sticker - French-Canadian Pork Pie, Tourtiere.  Here's the recipe, adapted from

Get crust for a two-crust pie ready (either use prepared crust or make your own).

Place in heavy skillet and cook, stirring, for about 5 min.:
            1 lb. lean ground beef
            ½ lb. lean ground pork

Add to skillet:
            1 clove garlic, minced
            1 chopped onion
            1 t. salt
            ¼ t. pepper
            ¾ t. sage
            ½ t. thyme
            ¼ t. allspice or mace
            3 T. chopped fresh parsley

Cook about 20 min.
Add 1 boiled potato, mashed
Sprinkle with 2 T. flour and low salt beef boullion (if desired)
Add about ¾ c. water and stir until thick.

Pour into 9” pie shell and top with another crust.  Seal edges well and make some slits in top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 min. or until nicely browned.  Mary recommends serving a green salad with tourtiere.

This pie can be frozen before baking.  If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrig. before baking.  My former secretary Mary, who retired a little before I did, used to make them around Christmastime, and I always bought them from her.  I think she used mace instead of allspice, but my adapted recipe is pretty much the real deal.  I like it a little creamier than some tourtiere I've had, probably because the filling resembles Dutch croquettes, delicious barfood.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A couple of blocks

I have been working on small things lately, which is fine.  It keeps me occupied while the wind howls and it doesn't commit me too much, time-wise.  Today I made an infinity scarf using part of some silk my parents got me on a trip to China years ago.  I don't know what I'll do with the rest - maybe a few more scarves for family/friends?  The other day I finished two small heart pins made out of felted wool.  They are cute, and set aside for gifts (although I might wear one...).

Yesterday I made this week's Loyal Union Sampler block and a Spider Web block.  What looks like a pattern in the fabric for the LUS is really wrinkles.  It was paper-pieced and needed extreme ironing to lie flat.  However, that caused a lot of puckering in the fabric.  But!  "Finished is better than perfect," according to Brenda Papdakis.

The Spider Web is to go along with this month's Quilters Book Club reading, Spider Web by Earlene Fowler.  I will include it in my "square robin" quilt that's going around the guild right now.  That quilt will be black, white, with a hint of red.  I should be making a few more 9" squares to go along with the ones members of the guild are making.  Maybe I'll go back through the books the online group has read and make a few more to help fill out the quilt.

Yesterday, I made a 6" Nine Patch also - to go along with my Around the World blocks.   15 will come back to me, but they won't be nearly enough to make a quilt, either.  That's because, as my friend Susie says, I like to "work large."   Could 2014 be the year I work smaller?

Table runner

I made a table runner for my sister Jacqueline for Christmas from some odd blocks, but I wrapped it up right before taking a photo.  Luckily, she sent me a photo.
This was the blue side, which I thought she'd use more since blue is her favorite color.  It's reversible, though, so there's an autumn-colored side as well.  All of the blocks were from Grandmother's Choice, a Barbara Brackman blog honoring the women's suffrage movement.  That was one of those projects that I embarked on with no particular plan.  When I stopped making the blocks and looked at what I'd made, I saw that they really didn't go together.  Some became placemats and others found their way into other projects.  I still have a couple that I don't know what to do with, but I will eventually!

Back in the swing

The Loyal Union Sampler block of the month group took the month of December off.  This was a great time to finish up things and I did work ahead a bit on my Nearly Insane blocks.  This week, we did get back to it, and I did make both blocks.  I am really enjoying working with gray as the sort-of-neutral, although I am adding white as well.   Mixing repros and modern fabrics is fun, too.

Yesterday, I spent a little time making mug rugs out of "orphan" blocks.  It is always satisfying to finish something, even if it's small.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

First finish of 2014!

I had been moving these green and brown strips from A Quilter's Garden's "strip club" around for months.  They aren't my colors and even though I could see them all working together, I didn't think they would work with me.  Then I saw a quilt online somewhere and adapted it to fit:

It made a pretty nice lap quilt which was done in a week.  It's all machine quilted in straight lines across, and X's in the squares.  I used a green floral 1930's fabric for the back and had a little trouble figuring out the binding.  In the end, I settled for what I am calling an "invisible" binding, because I made a facing that I sewed to the back.  I think that gives Autumn Paths a very contemporary feel.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tough days

The light, fluffy snow started around midnight on New Year's Day and didn't stop until this morning (Friday).  It was below zero most of the day yesterday and even colder today, despite the lovely sun.  We have not been outside except to get the mail for two days!  Yesterday, I read a lot; today I sewed.  We have had quite a bit of bad news which I don't want to dwell on, but it has made us hunker down at home even more.  Paul's sister's husband passed away Tuesday.  We didn't find out until yesterday.  Frank had been having hospice care and it was expected.  Still, we are sorry to lose such a cheerful, fun person.  We'll be heading to Michigan next weekend, weather permitting.

Our dear friend Chet also passed away yesterday.  On New Year's Day, we drove to the hospital in Burlington to say goodbye.  He did come home yesterday and died about 15 min. after getting home.  He said, in the hospital, "the hardest part is letting go," so I imagine that is what he felt he could do once he was home.  He did some wonderful things for our community and will be sorely missed.   Paul will most certainly miss his support, courage, and positive outlook.

My dad went to the hospital on Tuesday and was diagnosed with pneumonia.  He's 87 and has Parkinsons Disease, so he isn't in the best of shape to deal with such an illness.  Yet he is determined, and was trying hard to do his physical therapy exercises yesterday.  I think he'll be moving to a skilled nursing facility soon (if he hasn't already).  My mom (age 91!) is managing pretty well, and I am thankful my sister Jenny is only an hour away to help.

My former mother-in-law Rosie (also age 91) has been in a rehab center for a few weeks after having a stroke right before Thanksgiving.  She is doing pretty well.  Since her husband passed away last year, she has wondered why she is still living, and we do whatever we can to remind her that we still need her.  All of these losses and near-losses make us realize how much family and friends mean to us.  We hope the new year will grow increasingly brighter as it continues.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Taking Stock

Just a day into the new year, so I'm not really too late to list the various projects completed this year.  It's been productive!  I made the following quilts:

1.  Woven Strips baby quilt, which was an auction item for Everybody Wins! Vermont
2.  Little landscape, sent to Ami Simms' Alzheimers Quilt project for sale (my oldest UFO)
3.  Cornucopia of Thanks (queen-sized and on our bed!)
4.  Hugs and Kisses baby quilt, sent to Oklahoma tornado victims
5.  Oma's MuuMuu quilt for Chris - it includes fabrics from clothes my mother gave me
6.  Licorice and Lime queen sized quilt, shown at this year's Central Vermont Quilt Show
7.  Purple Log Cabin for former neighbor Lori, recovering from surgery
8.  Twirly baby quilt, raffled off to benefit the children's room at the library
9.  Scrappy Stars small quilt, raffled off to benefit the branch library
10.  Traditional nine patch quilt, given to Mart, a victim of the Colorado floods
11.  Heart of Vermont sampler throw, made with guild round robin and blocks of the month blocks
12.  Family Estate wallhanging, now over the guest bed
13.  Purple and Gold Shoofly/Nine Patch throw
14.  Black/orange/blue throw, for Parkinsons Comfort project
15.  Christmas novelty square table topper for Axel in his new apartment
16.  Flying Diamonds quilt (to be photographed when I have two men to hold it up)
17.  Autumn Paths small quilt (to be photographed)

I am happy with this list, considering most of them have gone to good homes outside of ours.  I have only three quilts for sale on right now, but I plan to put the Flying Diamonds and Autumn Paths ones up soon.

I also made some table runners, place mats, wool appliqued pillow, mug rugs, coasters, hotpads, fabric baskets, and other small items for friends and family.  So it has been quite a good year.  I just made some seat belt covers for my Mom, but I forgot to take a photo before wrapping it up for mailing.  Who knows when I'll get to the post office, though.  It is snowing steadily today and "they" say it will continue through Tuesday!