Archive for March, 2009

If you are reading this in a warm, sunny part of the world – how about sending some of that up here to Northern Wisconsin? Winter just will not let go! Today is cold, semi-sunny and very windy. We just came in from outside after having to do some chores up on the north facing porch roof. I am the official “keep the ladder steady” assistant while my husband makes the climb. Can’t believe how bundled up we both were and April is just around the corner. Speaking of roof chores, if your house has Certainteed Roofing Shingles (installation around 1995 through 2004 or so), you might want to check out the condition of the shingles. All across the country, thousands of homes have been hit with the defective product. Curling edges, great loss of granules/color and in some cases, shingles actually heaving up from the under surface areas. Our own tale of woe is having to replace a major portion of the shingles only 13 years after installation of a 30 year guaranteed product. We do not expect much, if any, compensation from the manufacturer. 

Enough gloom and doom – much more pleasant thoughts now! Another terrific time spent with sister quilters…a dear friend spent the weekend with us and Saturday we joined up with more friends to do a little shop hopping locally and a leisurely lunch. We were able to visit our favorite tea shop for their annual Spring Open House. If you are ever in the Wausau/Schofield area and looking for an absolutely delightful treat – visit Johanna May’s Tea Room. Katrina’s lunches are delicious and she offers a large variety of teas in addition to a very tasteful selection of gifts. Her website link is posted to the right.

As for the shopping, the four of us were actually quite well behaved and (unfortunately, for the shop owners) kept our spending on a somewhat limited basis. Times are tight and everyone is cautious these days. We still managed to find some cute things though and as always, lots of inspiration. I recently saw a little demo using the Clover Fabric Folding Pen and thought it look interesting. It comes with a bottle of concentrate that you add water to. You dab the tip of the pen along the newly sewn seam line and it helps to keep it folded in the position you want it to go to. Kind of like those little wooden “irons” – so I will give this a try soon…sure could have put it to use when piecing those 1,024 9-patch units!


 The photo below shows some more goodies purchased in addition to my friend’s very thoughtful “hostess gift.”  Don’t you just love Mary Ellen’s Best Press! And tied around one of the bottles was some much appreciated Schmetz needles. Quilters always know what another quilter likes! By the way, the MH Designs paper piecing pattern has 2 projects and one of them is a mini quilt – measuring about 7″ x 10.” The model at the shop was so sweet and just what we need to see for a touch of spring.  What better way to spend a March weekend then being with quilting friends, some good food and a nice bottle of Riesling in the evening by the fire. Roofing problems and the economy – be off with you! Life can be very good when shared with friends and family.








In another life, I had my own quilt shop and believe it is so important to support our independent shops. They offer the very best to the quilting world. Every once in a while though, you run across a product somewhere else that just makes economic sense. I have used the Orvus Quilt Soap/Quilters Rule Soap for years when washing quilts. It runs about $5 to $6 for a small jar. Here in Wisconsin, we have Fleet Farm stores that serve the agricultural communities as their main focus. They sell “Show Paste Shampoo”  (for animals) in large containers and it is made of the exact ingredient, sodium lauryl sulphate, as the “Quilt Shop” soaps and at a cost saving price. I think I paid under $10.00 for the 2# size container. I washed a large quilt last week and it did beautifully. So, we can continue to buy those beautiful quilt shop fabrics, but save a few pennies on soap. A quick additional note – a reminder from a friend…also recommended is ALL Free (Clear) laundry detergent, available at most grocery and discount stores.



Everyone is talking about the very cute website that Moda has created…take a visit to www.modabakeshop.com for great ideas on using the 5″ Charm Packs, Jelly Rolls, Honey Buns, etc.

That is about it for now…the treadmill is calling, especially after that breakfast we had this morning, thanks to my husband and a return visit of Penzey’s Apple Pancakes. And later tonight, I really need to get back to sewing more 9 patch unit rows together…I can almost see a light at the end of that tunnel. Hoping to post a photo of the completed top soon.

 And remember, if you have any extra warm weather – send it up!

Have a great week and always take time to stitch.



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This weekend, my mind is jumping from one thing to another and it is hard to settle down and focus on a specific thought. As mentioned in a previous post, Spring in Wisconsin can be devious…one day it is 60 and then look what happens! Our official 1st day of Spring, Friday, March 20th, was cold and windy. By bedtime, we had a new covering of the white stuff. The photo shows my potting shed – still waiting for spring , it appears. Okay, Mother Nature, so that’s the way it is going to be. We can still welcome Spring inside our home. The winter wall hangings and stuffed snowmen are being stored away. spring-chugach-quilts-004c1spring-chugach-quilts-002b1

 Out comes the first of the “lighter” in feeling wallhangings. I just had to include a picture of one of my favorites that I finished last year. Of course, it is another Crabapple Hill Pattern – Garden Path.  The embroidery is so relaxing, particularly when we are on the road. It is really portable. Alot of the stitching on this quilt was done as we travelled back and forth to Alaska in 2007.  At the end of  each day, we would get set up in a camping area, take a walk with the girls and unwind a bit. Then, maybe an hour or so of transferring digital images from the cameras to the laptop, reading or picking up one of the embroidery designs to work on.  With this particular piece, I love to look at all the garden motifs and also recall where I was when they were being worked on…a double treat. I tend not to load up on souvenirs, but loving to quilt, bring back some special pieces of fabrics or patterns. Travelling through Canada and Alaska, I discovered most of the quilt shops are heavy into batiks with an incredible selection not often found elsewhere.  When I finally have a quilt made from these travel acquisitions, then that becomes my “souvenir.” The quilt, “Chugach Memories”  is also an example of that. We first visited Alaska in the Fall of 2005 and I was so taken with the color of the turquoise waters, gold aspens and snowcapped mountains. It was very easy to choose batiks along the way to represent the surrounding landscape.

  Chugach Memories - 2005

 Being very new to this world of Journal/Blogging…I have spent some time visiting other Blog sites. What an eye opener! So many of you have developed sites that are positively gorgeous, fun to read and so inspiring. The level of creativity going on is incredible…a hundred years from now, there will be volumes written about 21st century quilting. What fun to visit quilters all around the world and get a peak at your latest project. Also, the theory that everyone buys quick processed meals and no one bothers to cook or bake anymore has evaporated. The amount of recipes being shared by quilters is equal only to the sharing of quilt-related information. I have seen images posted of homemade breads that have me running for the baking pans. There is a new link added to “In the Kitchen”  side bar on the right. If you aren’t familiar with King Arthur Flour, check out all their recipes and baking needs.

Now about those lampshades being remade that I mentioned a while back. One of the pair is finally done and back in place. Getting the old fabric and trim off and applying the new fabric to the base was quite easy. But adding the grosgrain ribbon as the base trim presented a challenge.  I have learned so much about different glues in the past week. Bet I own a bottle of most every brand made! After trial and error, the ribbon finally stayed in place and the final decorative braided trim went on without difficulty. I found a nice website – www.lampshop.com that is now bookmarked for future supplies.

What a nice Sunday afternoon – I belong to a very active quilting guild and also to a couple of smaller stitching groups. Today, one of my small groups (we have been together for over 14 years) met at a nearby church, brought whatever projects we wanted to work on and shared a potluck. With blowing winds and cooler temperatures, it was nice to be snug inside with good friends and good food and perhaps just a little dreaming while waiting for spring.

I love to collect quotations and will close tonights post with the following (seen at my local printing shop)


Have a great week and take time to stitch.


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In our part of Northern Wisconsin, the call of the red-winged blackbird is, for me, the 1st official sign that Spring is on the way…I can hear that call this morning! You may wonder what is so remarkable about that?? To me it just means we made it through another long winter and that the seasons will continue to arrive, no matter what the state  of the crazy world we live in. Wish I could include a photo of this happy little bunch of birds, but the area between our house and the pond is saturated and it will be a while before the ground is solid enough to walk on. So for now, just listening to their talking back and forth will be enough. Besides, I can keep tracking the hummingbird migration in the meantime. (Check out the migration map link on the side bar to the right) Those little guys are in Alabama now and headed our way…although, I could swear someone had posted a sighting  in Kentucky a few days ago. I don’t see it anymore. Maybe he turned around and went back for a few days? We won’t see them until early May up here, but we get dozens at the feeders when they do arrive. I will try to post some photos of that activity later on. Hummers are continually active and so territorial for such little creatures – a joy to watch. That’s it for now…just wanted to share this Spring event this morning. Drop by next Sunday for another visit when there will be new post. Have a great day.


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If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy…if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you…if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand –

Rejoice! For your soul is alive.   (Eleanna Duse)

Hi everyone – what a beautiful weekend we are having here in Northern Wisconsin. High 40’s and lots of sunshine! There is a definite feeling that winter is losing its grip on this part of the world. Wisconsonites know better though – we don’t get lulled into a false sense of security this time of year…March and April can be very devious months…dishing out hints of spring with daffodils blanketed in new snowfall.  We have learned to take each day and enjoy it for what it brings.

For the last couple of years, I have been caught up in the spell of pink and brown quilts. My first attempt at piecing my own vintage version was inspired by an issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine that featured a wonderful project called, appropriately, “Box of Chocolates.” I liked the quilt so much that I made two of them, one to keep and one now owned by a friend. Of all the quilts I have made since 1982, for some reason that one brings me so much comfort. It is the one that goes on the bed at night when an extra quilt is called for. It goes to weekend quilt retreats with me and I grow fonder of it as time goes by. Because of the appeal for pinks and browns together, I have made a Churn Dash wallhanging (lap size) and a smaller dolly size quilt. Like bunnies, the stash of pinks and browns seems to mysteriously grow in my storage closet. So, here comes another quilt,  just asking to be made. The pattern is Crossroads by Laundry Basket Quilts and the photo shows “some” of the fabrics I have pulled as possibilities. The brown toile in the background will be the backing and seems a good choice for a log cabin variation. It features Abe Lincoln as a young man and the log cabin he grew up in. It is from the new Civil War VI grouping (Windham Fabrics). Now this project will have a little twist on it – our guild has its Biennial Quilt Show coming up this September (I will post a link soon for Show Information and Entry Forms)  One of the challenges the organizers have issued is a “Wall of Fame – Wall of Shame” – You must commit to completing a quilt for entry by signing a “contract” during a March or April guild meeting. Depending on the completion or non-completion of your project by September show time – guess where you might end up? Just a little pressure there…so, what do you think? Will I make it?? And gardening season is on the way! Not enough hours in the day…


But first things, first! Check out the progress made on my “Medicare Quilt” recently renamed as “The 1st 65 Years” because that sounds more upbeat…There are 12 rows completed and the 13th will go on tonight…more and more pressing with the iron – this part is really slow going but one thing positive is the fact that the blocks are on point and assembled on the diagonal. So, the more rows I sew on, the shorter they get…until I do the other half and start all over again. Fortunately, the longest row is completed.










In the side bar to the right, you might notice a new link to Penzey’s Spices – one of our favorite places to shop. I think they got their start here in Wisconsin, but over the years have added locations across the U.S. in addition to a complete online store. They have some very tasty unique blends which are well worth trying. Their catalog and website often feature recipes to try and this weekend we gave the Apple Pancake recipe a go…my husband did the honors and it was a hit! The Granny Smith apples tasted great and the dough climbed right up the sides of the pie pan just like the catalog photo showed. The recipe makes 2 complete pancakes, but we only did one. It is definitely a repeat in our kitchen.

That’s about it for now – had better head off to the sewing room for more time with those little 9-patches. Have a great week whereever you are and always take time for stitching.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day


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Sun Tea and Snow…

A friend is like a piece of pie. You never have too many & they make you happy when you are sad.



Well, this is a typical March weekend in Northern Wisconsin…Saturday, my husband got a dose of Spring Fever – the high was in the mid-forties. He decided to make a big pitcher of Sun Tea. We make gallons of this from Spring through late Fall whenever the sun is out. I thought yesterday was a bit of a stretch on the temperature, but it turned out so tasty…we enjoyed a glass with our (outdoor) grilled chicken at dinner. Now today, Sunday, we are in a winter storm advisory mode with a prediction of 4-8″  – yep! More snow…my husband  called from Green Bay. He is on his way back from a Skeet shoot and reports the snow is coming down rather smartly. And,  a minute ago, our #1 son called from Vera Lake/trailside at Willow, Alaska awaiting the start of the Iditarod…he says it is about zero degrees right now and there are a ton of people watching this event. Apparently Alaskans even bring lawn chairs and sofas along to set up for viewing. There are dozens of BBQ grills going and snowmobiles running all over…just a huge event! Sounds like the tailgate parties before a Packer game at Lambeau…here’s wishing all the mushers a good race and healthy pooches. Takes about 9 days to get to Nome…brrrrrr….

So, what am I doing stuck at home?? Just took a break and tried a new granola bar recipe – good smells coming from the oven. So many of the store-bought bars are really candy and loaded with extra calories. This recipe features dried fruit, rolled oats, wheat germ, almonds, etc. and honey and brown sugar as the binder. Hope they taste as good as they smell.

Has anyone noticed how antsy you get the closer we come to springtime? It seems I want to jump from one thing to the next and not really concentrate on a particular project. This includes trying recipes, quilting – although I am trying to stay focused on the Medicare Quilt project – reading books and thinking (just thinking) about starting spring house cleaning chores…ugh. My book choices the last month have ranged from rereading Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles to the first three stories from the Ian Rutledge series. Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard reminds me of some of the old Sherlock Holmes mysteries…but Ian has so many demons chasing him from World War I. Still, the stories are interesting and evolve slowly with a clue dropped here and there that keeps you guessing. The setting is post WWI English countryside. As for the Spring Cleaning thoughts – it still seems too early – we heat primarily with wood and until that season is over, trying to keep up with dust and debris is pretty much a losing battle. Add in many horizontal log surfaces that collect the stuff and right now, the job seems hopeless.  I can hardly wait for our 3 shelties to realize – hey, it is time to get rid of these winter coats. Let the fur begin…what a grand mix it all is.

One activity that is occupying my attention is recovering 2 lampshades. About 12 years ago, I paid someone to do just that and am now thinking in more thrifty terms…found some general instructions and made the pattern/template. I have the yardage estimate and have picked out a leafy tone on tone white fabric at the local quilt shop. The other decision to be made is finding appropriate braided trim and grosgrain ribbon. And not to get to far away from the word “fabric” – one of my favorite quilt pattern designers is Edyta Sitar from Laundry Basket Quilts. I was looking at what collections will be coming out in the months ahead and Moda Fabrics is featuring Edyta’s newest grouping “Spring Meadows”. If you are looking for some batiks that are perfect for spring and summer projects visit www.modafabrics.com and click on the “Spring Meadows” icon. The soft colors are amazing and my mind is all ready filled with possibilities combined with the newest of patterns from Crabapple Hill…Spring is always an exciting time if you are a quilter…Spring Quilt Market is coming up soon and then the shops will be flooded with so many things to tempt us. Plus all the things each of us all ready has waiting in the stash closet…for me a pink and brown log cabin (again, from Laundry Basket Quilts), a paper-pieced contemporary quilt – Borealis (wow! factor), experimenting with dyeing fabric in gradations, finishing up UFO’s – one being over 14 years old…way overdue! The list is endless…

Well, don’t know where that snow is – just came in alittle while ago from some quality “Frisbee” time with our 3 girls…not a snowflake in sight. Maybe we missed this one??? Ah, too bad….

For now, I had better hit the treadmill before dinner – that way I won’t feel too guilty about having a portion of Bracioles (thanks to Giada’s Everyday Italian).

Have a great week and always take time for stitching!



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It’s March 1st and we continue to receive significant snowfall…Friday, Feb. 27th, we woke up to about 5″ more of the white stuff and the drifts along our country roads seem to grow higher every week. Our overnight temperature showed -23 degrees. I decided not to dwell on that and purchased some bags of seed starting mix and new peat pots. When my seed orders arrive, I will be ready! Apparently, a lot of other folks decided to take the same direction, as the cashier at the store said the soil mixes were selling like the proverbial hotcakes. In recent conversations with friends, everyone agrees there will more gardening going on this spring due to our collapsing economy.

This weekend I turned 65 and had plans to have dinner out with my parents. However, they are both down with colds and we have pushed everything back to next week. My husband and I decided to take dinner down to them and of course, the meal had to include just a little something sweet. Even when you feel lousy, sometimes a bit of sugar is called for. Recently, our local newspaper featured a cupcake recipe by Paula Deen (www.foodnetwork.com) If you are a fan of Paula’s, you understand when I say her cupcake recipe definitely merits one of her “Body by Paula” T-shirts. I don’t want to know the calorie count in these little gems, but they are delectable and like all cupcakes are just plain cute.

All you need is a basic chocolate cake mix to start and follow the directions for making 24 cupcakes. Be sure to use paper cupcake liners. Let the cupcakes cool completely. Following are the ingredients needed for the filling and frosting.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

Raspberry Filling

1 8 oz. container frozen whipped topping – thawed

1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese – room temperature

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

In medium bowl beat together whipped topping & cream cheese until smooth. Add the jam – beat again until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until mixture is smooth. Spoon the mixture into a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a narrow tip. Insert tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze approx. 1 tablespoon of filling into each center. OK if some seeps out.

Amaretto Frosting 

1/2 cup butter – room temperature

1 7 0z. jar marshmallow creme

2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tblsp. Amaretto liqueur or 1/2 tsp. almond extract

In medium bowl beat butter and marshmallow creme until smooth. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add more if not sweet enough (2 1/4 worked fine for me) Add the Amaretto liqueur and beat until smooth. Frost each cupcake. (From February issue – Cooking with Paula Dean) *I also tinted the frosting slightly – just a little pink. ENJOY!


I am blessed with a wonderful, thoughtful family and some very dear friends who remembered this milestone of a birthday with treasures. A special family from southern Wisconsin sent a tea pot shaped candle holder with a log cabin design. It fits right in with our log home. And one of my friends’ has a gifted woodcrafter for a husband…check out the exquisite handmade pincushion – log cabin quilt block! There is a magnet inside to hold the pins in place. It arrived in its own cross stitchmedicare-quilt-013aed “blanket.”medicare-quilt-011a

  Life is good – my iTunes gift certificates are redeemed and calling for attention and there is a new quilt book to enjoy and put to use. Quilting Designs From the Past (Jenny Carr Kinney) – see if your local quilt shop has a copy available. It is a beautiful book, filled with many ideas on adding appropriate quilting designs to your reproduction-vintage look quilt. The Proportional Scale that I found at the Madison Quilt Expo last fall should be a valuable tool when resizing some of the quilting designs. Anxious to give that a try! 

 To wrap things up for today…a new photo of the first four rows sewn together on my Medicare Quilt…this step has all ready proven to be more tedious than anticipated. Using the little Clover iron really helps when pressing the joining seams. Because there is so much bulk, I chose to press the row seams open to lay flatter. It appears to help so far, but oh my, so labor intensive. Typically, I don’t use many pins when joining rows together, but working on this small of a scale, it is necessary.

 medicare-quilt-010b4 rows down - 64 to go


 Four rows down – 64 to go!
 Now, off to get the bread machine going…I would love to hear from you regarding some of your favorite bread recipes…we have made many loaves of Honey Whole Wheat with great success once I discovered the best results were achieved by using the Dough Only cycle and then baking the risen loaf in the oven. So for now, have a great week and as always find time for stitching. Back soon!! 




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