Archive for May, 2009

porch views 045 Welcome to my porch…I am so glad you could drop by for a visit today.  Along with other bloggers around the world, we are joining Rhondi’s Porch Party. Be sure to click on her link  to the right under “For the Fun of it”  (the entire image does not show but it works!) It is a little chilly this morning, so how about a mug of hot coffee or tea and a slice of nut bread? I would love to offer you more elaborate goodies, but life has been very busy and I just found out about this international event. It is nice to just sit for awhile with you.  Maybe we should wrap a quilt around our legs to stay warm. There is so much to talk about and share.

You may have noticed that Spring has really blossomed here in Northern Wisconsin.

Don’t you love the smell of the lilacs?

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And isn’t the color cheery on the Prairie Fire crabapple tree?

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Our week has been such a contrast in activities. Along with four other friends, we visited the beautiful Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau (http://www.lywam.org) and spent an enjoyable hour viewing Dale Chihuly’s exquisite Glass Blanket Cylinder Art along with a grouping of Indian Trade Blankets from his own collection. If you are in our area be sure to take in this exhibit. It ends on June 14th. We were also treated to a fascinating demonstration on glass blowing by a very talented team of artisans from Southern Illinois University. Guess who had the winning raffle ticket for the lovely glass vase that was offered at the end of the demo? I clutched it in my hands all the way to the car and found a very safe place to put it for the drive home!! Thursday started out with a much too quick trip to the nearby greenhouse where I met up with 2 more friends and we were able to shop together for plants while trying to catch up on a winter’s worth of news…never enough time and it was agreed to get together again soon. Then the day took a very different turn…on arriving home, I started to pick violets and accumulated about 1 cup (while looking over my shoulder and up the path for our resident bears) before DH called me back to be his “assistant,” i.e. “Go For.” Only taking a brief break for lunch, we both worked until 4:00 that afternoon and I will spare you the gory details…but let’s just say, we now have new laterals between the house and our holding tanks (for you city dwellers – in the country, holding tanks are alot better than that little shed with the half moon on it!) I never thought at the age of 65 we would be doing something like that, but I earned my apprenticeship pipefitter status that afternoon. Since there was still a number of hours of daylight, I washed up and went back to picking those violets (so much more pleasant!) and ended up with the 2 cups needed for Violet Jelly. I would like to share the recipe with you.

Violet Jelly

2 cups of violets (no stems please)

2 cups of boiling water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (carefully strained)

4 cups of sugar

1 box of powdered fruit pectin

Sterilized glass jars, lids and rings

Placing the violets in a glass bowl, pour the boiling water over the flowers, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. In the morning you will have an inky blue infusion. Carefully drain the infusion through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid and discarding the violets. (I recommend repeating the straining process).  Add the fresh lemon juice to the infusion and watch it turn a beautiful rosy lavender color! Place the liquid in a non-reactive pan (enamel is good) and stir in the powdered fruit pectin…stirring constantly, heat to a boil, making sure all the pectin has dissolved.  Add the sugar and return to a boil, cooking for  1 minute. Quickly ladle jelly into your prepared glass jars and secure the lids and rings. You can place the jars in a hot water bath as you would for other jams/jellies. After the jelly has set up at room temperature, I usually refrigerate the jars. This recipe will make about six 8 oz. jars of jelly. The taste is  honey-like with a floral overtone & a slight tang from the lemon – very delicate. It makes a unique and special gift. Try making the jelly with your kids – the change in color is a delight!

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There is so much more to talk about today…and we can watch the hummingbirds and their silly antics at the feeders. Or Mr. and Mrs. Goose with their 3 rapidly growing children as they swim on the pond. Perhaps we will glimpse one of the bears – we have had 5 sightings this week alone.porch views 040

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My dear friend in Elkhorn has a Mom who loves to garden and she has shared  many of her iris divisions with me. This purple and white beauty is always one of the first to bloom each spring…I call it Thelma’s Iris.

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I wish you could have joined us for breakfast on Saturday. My husband loves to make the Apple Pancake recipe from Penzey’s (link on the right sidebar). Much lighter than a traditional stack of pancakes (though his are also very good!) this pancake is baked in the oven and the batter puffs up around the sliced apples…soooo yummy.

porch views 028Remember that wonderful French Bread in the food processor I told you about last week? I now have the okay to share the recipe with you. It will appear in the next journal entry.

And we haven’t even talked about quilting – this visit is much too short! Before you go, I do have an update on a couple of things. I heard back from Sue Daley in Australia. She has Patchwork for Busy Fingers. She says negotiations are underway to have her wonderful applique/stitching patterns distributed through US vendors. Let’s hope things can happen quickly!  In the May-June eNewsletter from Bob the Thread Guy at Superior Threads, he has included an excellent guide to thread tensions as it relates to different threads. Visit http://www.superiorthreads.com and sign up for the Newsletter and/or Mother Superior’s Blog. Both have lots of information.  And last, but so important…please visit my quilting guild’s website for information about our September, 2009 Quilt Show. Quilts Among the Pines sponsored by Pine Tree Quilters will be held September 26-27. Direct link is on the right sidebar. Our show is always very special and we hope to see you there. Plan on entering some of those terrific quilts you make.

The last photo today is a sweet gift I received from my friend, Chris. She is such a creative lady and you should check out her artwork in the recent issue of Somerset.

I wish we had more time (and space!) The rocking chairs on our porch don’t get used often enough…please come back for a visit real soon. Have a great time visiting all the other porches around the world and be sure to say Hi! to everyone for me. I would so enjoy having you sign my “guestbook” before you go…just leave a quick comment. Take care, have a good week and

Always take time to stitch (advice I need to follow more often!)


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Another busy week leading up to this special holiday observance…Memorial Day. This year the holiday falls on the same weekend as my Dad’s birthday – his 91st! He is also a retired Navy veteran and I would like to tell you a little bit about him. Dad is part of our long family history of serving in the Armed Forces. We can trace military service back to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, both World Wars, Vietnam and Bosnia. Dad enlisted right out of high school and was on board the USS Yorktown (aircraft carrier) during the Battle of Midway in 1942. He was ordered to abandon ship after it was torpedoed. The survivors were picked up by another ship and they made their way back to Pearl Harbor. After the war, he joined the US Navy Band in Washington, D.C. as a trumpet player. He retired in the late 1950’s. In civilian life, he was an accountant and to this day has the most beautiful penmanship you can imagine (he was taught the Palmer method.) Unfortunately, his expertise with numbers did not transfer to me (lol) but from both he and Mom I received the gift of loving books. We often visited the Library of Congress together when I was little. Dad would do research on what courses he was taking at the time and I knew exactly where the Madeleine and Babar the Elephant books could be found. As a family, we traveled extensively throughout the U.S.  A number of years ago, due to health issues, he had to give up both driving the motor home back & forth to Florida and his much loved golf game. He can still get around with his lawn mower and incredibly, can get down on both knees to do yard work! So, thanks for listening to me “talk” about him – he is 91 years old tomorrow and is the best Dad ever. My childhood was truly blessed. By the way, today Mom & Dad celebrate 66 years of marriage – quite an accomplishment. The photo below was taken last summer during the surprise 65th Anniversary/90th Birthday party we gave for them.

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Most of this past week has not allowed time for much quilting. I have made quite a bit of progress on the little baby sweater I spoke of  in the previous post. It is nice to get back to knitting and I am surprised how quickly the terms and techniques are recalled. Haven’t “dropped” too many stitches…The big push though has been with the gardens. Peas, onions and radishes are all up and most of the other warmer weather seeds have been sown the last 2 days.  However, as is often the case in Northern Wisconsin, we have frost warnings posted this weekend, so all the seedling flats and other plants had to go back into the potting shed for protection. They are being hardened off outside, but I don’t  want to take the chance. The photo shows my potting bench filled and there are numerous flats on the floor too! Running out of room…

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Last Thursday, four of us got together (quilters all) and did something non-quilt related – well sort of! One of the ladies taught us how to make French Bread by using the food processor. Bev was so well organized. She brought dough that had risen during the night and we each got to work with it, shaping it and getting it into the bread pans. Her pans belonged to her Grandmother and I think one reason the bread tasted so good was from all the love that has gone into those pans over the years.  While the bread was rising, she showed us how to actually make the dough in the food processor and our terrific hostess, Barbara Jean, got to put that dough into her frig for the night and bake it the next day. I should check with Bev and see if it would be okay to print out the recipe in the next posting. We each took home a fresh loaf from the oven and it was soooo good!  Barbara Jean also made me aware of a terrific blog site called In Good Taste – it is all about baking and the direct link is to the right under “In the Kitchen.”  You will be out in your own kitchen rattling pots and pans to get started!!

We had our first bear sighting yesterday morning…I had just gotten up and looked out the window as usual – no camera handy, of course…and moving across our south field, was a Mom and twins. They were all glossy black and looked very healthy. I hope they do well and survive. Personally, I have a bit of a problem with bear hunters in our area. We don’t have a “bear problem” as such (not overly abundant),  but the hunters take on quite an attitude come Fall. They often think nothing of trespassing and letting their dogs run free.

Before I wrap things up for this week, I would like to mention another quilting/stitching blog that you may enjoy visiting. Patchwork with Busy Fingers is an Australian based shop and they feature some really neat original design patterns. Take a look at their newest “It Takes Two,” which is made by using traditional needle turn applique and English Paper Piecing. The border treatment is gorgeous. Looks like you can order direct from Sue Daley in Australia but if anyone knows of a US distributor, jump in and tell us about it. If I can find out more info, it will be posted here. They also have their own blog site which can be linked from their store web page. Right now there are photos of them at Spring Market in Pennsylvania,  so hopefully someone here picked up their pattern line. The link for them is under “Stitching Inspiration” to the right.

For now – enjoy the long Memorial Day Weekend and remember what it is all about…those who served, honor our veterans, support our troops and bring them back home safely.

Have a great week and…

Always take time to stitch…

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We are just back from 5 days in Peoria, Illinois. My husband shoots competitive skeet and always looks forward to travelling “south” for the first shoot of the season. We loaded up the RV and left last Wednesday and the closer we got to Peoria, the more apparent it was that the Illinois River was making some serious headway into farmlands and populated areas. Those folks down in that part of the state don’t need one more drop of rain. Thursday turned out to be just beautiful and when you include joining up with a good friend for some quilt shop touring and lunch at a very sweet tea room – well that makes it perfect! Eulonda and I go back to the year 1991 when we decided to open a quilt shop…we were partners for that first year until a spouse’s job transfer took her out of state. Fortunately, we have kept in touch and now try to plan an annual get together in Peoria every May to catch up with each other. As everyone knows, quilters always have LOTS to catch up on! By the way, if you ever get to that area, there are some great shops to visit in Morton, Washington and East Peoria. Be sure to try the Emerald Isle Cafe for lunch in Peoria – very good! It is on McKinley Street and the cafe sports a lovely green canopy out front.

At the Peddlars Way Quilt Shop in Washington, I found an adorable model done up of a baby sweater. Since my niece is expecting her first, and I enjoy knitting – I figured, why not? It’s doable and I have until July. In a basket by the model were the balls of yarn available in assorted colors. The marketing concept is very clever…from one ball of the yarn, you get to make the little pullover. In the core of the ball of yarn is the pattern – all rolled up, and the 3 little duck buttons you need to complete the sweater. The whole works – $13.99 – such a deal! I will keep you posted as things progress. It’s been a while since the knitting needles have come out of hiding…

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As for the rest of our stay at the Gun Club, Friday was incredibly stormy with constant lightning, about 5″ additional rain and loss of power throughout the area. But, if you remember the photo from my previous blog, there was a stack of projects heading out to the RV – so no problem in finding something to do…when the power was on, I was able to watch my coveted John Adams DVD on the laptop while putting the finishing touches on the Blackbird Designs quilt in the photo below. It is called Camp Reveille from their Higdon Camp pattern book. The top was finished in 2006, so early last week I machine quilted most of it, handquilted some of the smaller areas and while it stormed outside on Friday, finished the binding. Cross that one off the list! Also started some hand applique on the baby quilt intended for my niece (to go with that sweater!) The rest of the weekend was spent bundled up but drier – visiting with friends who were camped on both sides of us. The guys talk shooting 24/7 and the wives just talk!!! All in all, a very relaxing time and the batteries have been recharged.

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I must correct my earlier journal entry – made a typo on the link  to our son’s photography website – besides he has just recently posted  new photos of some whales, lichen and neat little shorebirds…please visit http://www.sixtyonenorth.com.

Need to wrap things up for the night – I made a quick visit to my little potting shed when we arrived home and all the seedlings and plants look good – lots to take care of and we also took off the burlap covers from the raised beds where the peas were planted. Good germination this year – the birds couldn’t get at them. Heading out to the local greenhouses tomorrow for a flower binge and then the rest of the week will be devoted to some heavy duty gardening time. Hope the frost holds off! Oh, the pincushion at the end of the entry? That is the one that is used the most – a very hard working wonder.

Have a great week.

Always take time to stitch…


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“To make the decision…

…to have a child is momentous. It is to decide, forever, to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

(Elizabeth Stone/www.quotegarden.com)

To all the Moms out there – may your heart be blessed as it continues that walk. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Our family celebrated with a quiet dinner at home. I have included a photo of my Mom at 84. She is tiny compared to me. When I was growing up, the thing I remember is my Mom’s hands – so well kept and always with Revlon’s Love That Red nail polish. She took such pride in that. Now, sadly, severe rheumatoid arthritis has caused great difficulty in picking up most objects and doing even the simplest of tasks. She used to make wonderful decorated eggs, requiring so much patience and detailed handwork. Making dinner for her and Dad is something we can do as it is much appreciated.  Love ‘ya, Mom!  Our son, Dave, so far away in Alaska, has called a number of times in the last few days sharing his adventures. With his Blue Tooth headset arrangement, we talk as he walks through tidal pools and along shorelines – good cell phone coverage off the tip of the Homer Spit! I can hear his camera clicking away and with my Sibley’s Bird ID book in front of me we can identify many of the ducks, etc. he is viewing. If you don’t mind – a little more Shameless Parental Promotion…visit his website, www.sixtyone.north.com, for a spectacular Moonrise Over Kachemak Bay photo taken Friday night. Do not miss his photos posted on the “On The Road This weekend”  journal entry. Look for “I Dream a Dream of Water Colors” in particular…my first reaction on viewing it was – transferred to fabric, wouldn’t the image make a gorgeous quilt border…bet you will agree!

First thing tomorrow morning, our roofing crew will be back and should be able to wrap up the new shingle project this week. Then our hardworking husband and wife team will bring in their heavy equipment and start regrading the area where our geo thermal system went in last fall.  The lawn between the house and the pond is so torn up. So much going on right now, we need a mini vacation…off to Illinois soon for my husband’s first skeet competition of the season. We always look forward to seeing friends after a long winter and taking time to just sit and relax. The photo below of that seemingly unorganized pile of fabric, patterns and a quilt to be bound is going along with me in the RV…I always take more than is possible to accomplish in just a few days, but, hey…a quilters’ ambitious optimisim is universally understood!!

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I want to tell you about a wonderful blog site that my friend, Chris, directed me to. She knows that on My Bucket List is a dream trip to England and Wales.  While this may never happen, I can take a virtual visit by going to Fairy Shoes and Other Things…the link is on the sidebar to the right under Blog Roll.  This lovely blog is filled with images of woodlands carpeted in bluebells and visits to 12th century cathedrals. Plan to spend some time there – Anette is both an artist and poet! And if you need more eye candy, check out the blog from the Fig Tree ladies. They just posted a sneak preview of their new fabric collection debuting at Spring Market. Oh My! (link is also on the right under Blog Roll.)

For now, I leave you with an image of two vintage examples of  another pincushion and a needlework rollup (a surprise find in a box of junk for $2.50 at an auction.) I like to think they belonged to two Mothers who also made quilts and sewed for their family…the connection just seems right. Have a good week…

And always take time to stitch.


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Good Times Quilting…

A beautiful Spring day in Northern Wisconsin! Such decisions to make…work outside gardening in the sun or spend the afternoon with sister quilters…the draw of quilting friends won out! Two of our smaller stitching groups gathered together this afternoon at a local church that graciously opened one of their meeting rooms for us. Everyone came prepared with projects in various stages and really yummy contributions for a potluck meal. This post is dedicated to the ladies from Garden Club and M & M’s. We missed you Jean, Kathy, Lynn and Martha. So, what did the rest of us do? A number of the works in progress revolved around  items being made as gifts.

Barb worked on a large fleece blanket by cutting and tying off fringed ends; Joan transferred a very detailed McKenna Ryan piece intended as a wedding gift and Faye concentrated on appliqueing Raggedy Ann’s tiny nose.












Others worked on laying out blocks and color placement; appliqueing a larger quilt, fine tuning a pieced quilt top or checking out a recent quilting magazine…












    Lois was our finisher for the day and went home with a completed tote bag intended for a family member. The fabric was so interesting as it had a “waterproof” coating (very soft!) on one side and the bag was completely reversable…very cool colors! 


 Kathy taking a break from embroidery and phoning in a fabric order??!




Me? I actually got a 1999 redwork quilt top basted. It was kindly suggested that I reembroider the first 9 to make it an 8…who will ever know the difference??? I could always say great-great grandma did it!    mayquiltgather-012 






 Thanks Sue, for arranging our gathering – as always, good friends, good food, good stories and Good Times Quilting.

At the end of the day – more pincushions and needlework holders from friends. Have a great week …

And always take time to stitch.





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