Monday, April 30, 2007


Quiltin' by the river? Certainly not. Well, OK, the sewing machine and the frame were not carted down the steep hill. However, since I'm doing some applique, I found it the perfect spot to work on a sunny Sunday afternoon. A leftover Easter basket (that didn't make it on a plane trip home) made the perfect sewing basket for just a few items.

Even my husband agreed that my figure looks like "something jumping out of a box". I'll take that description.

I even managed to use a very nostalgic item. Check out the little needle holder: my mother's Brownie Scout troop made those sometime in the 50's. It's just 2 pieces of felt (felt was heavier in those days than it is now) with a piece of wool fabric sandwiched between. The 3 pieces of fabric are attached at the top with yarn. You stick the needles and pins on the interior wool fabric so nothing gets stuck as you travel. This particular one is the pattern of the Girl Scout trefoil, cut out with pinking shears, but you could use any pattern. And with all of today's fancy crafting scissors, you could make any sort of edging. A great mother's day project if you want to help little ones make something for a mom or grandma who sews.

And after a my stitching was done, we enjoyed a Sunday afternoon snack, using the same little basket!

Hope your week is sunny and filled with your favorite things.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I finally got brave enough to try it: I guess it's called "needle turn applique". Maybe that term refers to something else, I don't know--told you I was a novice quilter. Anyway I did the old freezer paper trick. Googled for directions, only to learn that the directions are right on the freezer paper box! Who knew?! Not perfect, but not bad for a beginner:

This is the plan for my first hand applique. It will be a crib quilt--part of a layette donation for a silent auction at a fund raiser for my church. The little bear that you see (my practice piece) will have a twin jumping out of a "jack in the box". I copy-enlarged the figure from my flannel print which happens to have brown lettering. What a pleasant way to be able to coordinate daughter Anna Maria's Chocolate Lollipop fabric.

The gold/brown polka dot I found yesterday at my local quilt shop, Mammaw's Thimble. It was the perfect place to meet a cyber quilting friend from Florida who is visiting her mother in Knoxville. Actually it was this sweet lady who told me about Mammaw's . The ladies there were quite helpful yesterday and even obliged us to take this photo. Jan (on the right) is much prettier than the photo, but I wanted to prove to all our cyber quilting friends that we really did meet and in a wonderful quilt shop!

And speaking of shops, for my knitting buddies, look what I found on Saturday. Check out the needles. The convenience of a circular's flexibility without the constant twisting. The needles are bamboo and they are basically like a circular needle that has been cut in half with wooden tips on the end. No doubt a handy item for plane travel. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm really behind and most of you have several pairs of them, but I was really excited to get my first pair.
(By the way: yes, I know, there's a mistake in my knitting. I found it and fixed it!)

Until next time, happy quilting and/or knitting, whatever suits your fancy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

. . . and GARDENS AND BAKES, too

Now that spring is finally here and I can enjoy some of my outdoor flowers. I thought this the most appropriate to show you today since the Iris is, after all, the Tennessee state flower. Anyone else in the Midwest (I grew up in Indiana) call them "flags"? When I asked my mom years ago why she they were called flags, she said it was because they bloomed on Memorial Day. Makes sense, but this far south they bloom much earlier.

I have had some wonderful garden substitutes during the winter, though--both given to me by dear friends. The Christmas cactus gets confused and blooms in October AND about March, and just lately decided to give me one last bloom before resting up for next fall. The smaller plants and the tiny ones next to it are its some of its "babies".

And I have been quite pleased to be able to keep this African violet alive for over a year!

The pillow you saw in the background of the cactus photo was, in fact, my first try a few months back of quilt piecing that was not just squares. This next photo shows it in one of my favorite spots in the house. It is my grandmother's channel back chair facing the window so I can see the sunrise over the river in the morning. This is where I most often spend my early morning time during my daily devotional reading.

OK, about the baking: I promised to share my recipe for the Thin Mint cheese cake.

Girl Scout Thin Mint cheesecake
1 cup thin mint cookie crumbs (crumb in food processor)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 T butter, softened
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, sugar and butter. Blend well with fingers. Press onto the bottom of a well-butter 10” spring-form pan. Chill in the freezer or refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2 lbs cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped thin mint cookies
1/2 cup chopped Andes candies
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Add sugar. Mix. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add cream, blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in candies and cookies. Pour mixture into the chilled pan. Place the pan inside a larger pan containing one inch of water and bake in a preheated 325 oven for 1 to 1-12 hours. Turn oven off, open door, leave cheesecake in oven 1/2 hour. Remove and cool completely (refrigerate overnight)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a small saucepan place whipping cream and chocolate. Heat over medium heat until chips are melted. Stir frequently. Remove from heat after it just comes to a boil. let cool 1/2 hour. our over cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate.
It seems like a lot of trouble, but it really isn't hard and is worth the trouble for a special occasion. I had never put a spring form pan in a "water bath" before and was a little concerned (I was afraid water would leak in through the crack) but it worked like a charm.

But since this is about quilting AND knitting, I'd better add a little knitting project, too:

One of the ladies on my knitting message board works at Virginia Tech. Last week she mentioned wanting to make the praying hands cloths for families of the the victims. Several of the other knitters (including myself) offered to join in. As you can see, my cloth is on the blocking pad right now. The maroon thread that you see in the upper corner will be used to embroider VT. Such an insignificant offering, but hopefully, it will let someone know that there are many who care and are praying for them.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


There are some (well, OK, many) times that I just don't want to clean up the house. But this week there was a good excuse. After the grandchildren are here is one of those times. I remember my mom not cleaning the little handprints off the windows for weeks after I had been at her house with my 3 when they were little. It's like withdrawal, I guess: we still need a little dose of the grandchildren after they leave. And since I was away the week after Easter there were still little reminders of their visit scattered around the house when I returned home.

However, if I want to get to any of the "fun stuff" (Note the knitting cotton beside the sewing machine, and the bag of Anna Maria's fabrics on top of the dryer.), I first needed to get my work --including the mounds of laundry--out of the way first!

So the toys were all put away,

and the Easter baskets stacked in the closet for another year.

But there are a few things that will stay put for a while:
Eli's rubber duckie, beside his great grandma's hair dye cabinet (that is now my thread and tiny-piece fabric storage spot). OK, I'll put away the manicure stuff used by the bigger girls, but I do think the duckie is kind of cute there. Not sure if interiors expert daughter Eleni would agree, but I think the color even kind of works with the decor of the room.

But this (it's OK--it's plastic!) is staying just like it is for a LONG time! Maybe if I leave it there, someone will find it next year--or whenever we are blessed to all be together again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Some days are just too beautiful NOT to sit by the river. Yesterday was one of those days, especially with the addition of some beautiful wild flowers nearby. Now that I've become hooked on dishcloths that don't require a pattern in hand, knittin' by the river is a wonderful afternoon break.

Not to mention, my husband, Terry (power drill in hand!) likes my company as he finishes up the dock railing.

So with the tools of our crafts nearby, we enjoy the view and one another's company.

But, back up at the house, in my favorite knitting spot in front of the TV, my (pattern needing) works in progress await: an Aran sweater (the blue wool blend) for 3 year old granddaughter, Eleni, and a hoodie (gold silk and wool blend) for 15 year old Juliana. My new knitting bag was a gift from daughter Anna Maria. It was promo bag made for a pattern company using her first fabric line produced by Free Spirit Fabrics, Bohemian. (Yeah, as you see, the TV remote is close by too!)

And, yes, I do sit in a straight back chair when I knit. After pulling out my SI (sacroileac) joint quite badly a few years back, I learned from my physical therapist that my previous way of sitting on the couch (rather slouchy with legs on the ottoman) was the worst possible position for my back. And now, after a few years of Pilates exercises , and my wonderful instructor/trainer at the studio I attend, my abnominal muscles are supporting my back well enough that I can actually sit for several hours without even using the back of the chair--just sitting up straight!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


The story of my (very) slow and continuing progress as a quilter:
I thought that I was quilting, just because I had put together 5" squares for many, many baby quilts.

Several years ago, I also made a photo quilt for my mom, again just straight stitched machine quilting.

About the only piecing I did that wasn't squares (though still straight line piecing) was this vest I made from my Dad's ties. It's very precious to me, although I rarely wear it--mostly on his birthday!

I also appliqued quilts for 3 grandchildren (mimicking the fabric backing for the patterns) using a simple zig zig machine stitch on the first 2.



By the time I did the third, I had my Janome and used the appliqui stitch. What a difference!


And, OK, I had done some hand quilting on: 1) a wonderful quilt that DD made in a college fabric class, 2) pieced squares bedspread for one DGD, 3) the attic-found squares of my grandmother (who died in 1948, so you know they were really old!). I had sewn them together with tea-dyed looking flannel and backed it with flannel. Though very fragile, I have occasionally covered new grandbabies with it.

But I really wasn't doing the "real thing". Then I met these wonderful ladies on the Quilter's Thread of the "50 year old" Weight Watchers message board, and my quilting life would be changed forever. Not to mention that at about the same time Free Spirit Fabrics found my DD's designs to be a perfect fit for their fabrics. And, of course, I just HAD to use some of her wonderful designs. So a quilting wanna-be was transformed in to a quilting addict!

In a few days I will share with you some things that I have made in the past year doing something besides squares . Still just straight lines, (YIPPEE, I've progressed to triangles!), on pillows, baby blankets, and quilt blocks for exchange with my special quilting friends.

See you then. But in all fairness, before that, I need to share some of my knitting projects with the knitting friends that I also met through Weight Watchers. AND a couple people have asked for the cake recipes after seeing the wonderful cake that daughter Eleni decorated for me for Easter. So I'll be sharing those too. Goodness, this blogging can keep a gal busy!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Meet the grandkids!

Well, I guess that's more than the grandkids; my son is holding the youngest who happens to be his son. For all of my Weight Watcher friends, please ignore the red velvet Easter egg cake, decorated by daughter Eleni, and the Girl Scout thin mint cookie cheese cake. YUM! It was worth it.

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Blessed Easter Week to you All!

Xhristos Anesti! (Christ is risen!)
Alithos Anesti! (Truly He is risen!)

The Christian Orthodox greeting and response that is spoken during the 40 days following Easter.

Our Easter weekend was quite busy with the whole family getting in on the activities. As you see, daughter Eleni had some help with the red velvet egg:

But everyone got in the act, one way or another:

Although for Orthodox Christians, the Easter Egg is traditionally red, the children participated in the more American approach to the egg dyeing!

Even to the point of stuffing plastic eggs with candy.

While Anna Maria is busy hoping to meet a deadline with her chocolate lollipop

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Spring is here!

Look what I found in my yard today! Hooray, spring is here! My daughter Anna Maria is here with her family enjoying the sunshine.

More soon!