Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pastime or Passion?

As a quilter I think about, ponder and plan quilts constantly.   I carry a notebook with my Bucket List of  Quilts in my purse at all times.  One of the first things my friends ask of me when we meet is what I'm quilting now.   My fabric cabinet has one large shelf dedicated to unfinished quilt projects (UFOs).  Truthfully, I have UFOs in a few places in addition to the shelf.  The non-quilters in my life think it's nice that I have a hobby to pass the time.  They just don't get it  ~~  quilting is my passion, not a mere pastime!  If it was a pastime intended to fill idle moments would I eat, breathe and dream quilts!  Would I ooh and aah over the quilts I see others make and have an emergency plan for saving the quilts in case of fire, storm or evacuation!   Yes, friends, I'm a confessing quilting fanatic!!  Quilty as charged is my plea!

I lived in Nevada for 22 years and loved the stark, colorful beauty of the desert.  Sunsets there were something to write poetry about.  When we decided to move back home to Missouri I wanted to bring a memento of Nevada with us ~ something other than a slot machine!  I was fortunate to meet up with the history conservator for Nevada and learned she had a few quilts available to sell to residents.  The small quilt I'm showing you today was made in the early 1800's in northern Nevada at a reservation school for girls. 

The quilt is twin size and is hand appliqued and hand quilted.  It's in fair shape for a quilt made in the early 1800's.  The binding is very worn but, considering its age, the red fabric has held up very well.  I like the border design that's made from four hearts.   The red/green/white colors make it a natural to bring out for Christmas. 

Until next time I wish you Peace & Plenty!


Monday, July 30, 2012

A Slow Monday

The busyness of the weekend is just a memory and it's a fresh new week.  Several loads of laundry are on my agenda for the day as well as a few errands to run before it gets too hot.

What little time I had to sew this weekend was spent making Halloween blocks for a fun swap.  I'm almost halfway done with the 26 blocks I will be swapping with other quilters.  The Halloween prints are colorful and fun and bring back many happy memories of dressing up and trick-or-treating as a child.  Most of our neighbors handed out homemade popcorn balls, cookies and candy and those were always my favorite treats.  It's sad that our generation of children dare not eat anything that is not factory wrapped. 

I will be cooking a large roast in the slow cooker today and will hopefully have lots of leftovers for shredded beef tacos and sandwiches.  My recipe for this is so simple:  I lightly salt and pepper the meat and place it in the slow cooker along with an onion or two that have been been cut into wedges.  Mix together one can of Golden Mushroom and one can of Cream of Mushroom soup and pour over the roast.  Cover and cook on low about 6 hours or so, depending on the size of your roast.  Carrots and potatoes can be added for the last few hours.  I don't put them in at the start because they get mushy if they cook too long.  My Hubby likes lots of gravy, otherwise you can get by with one can of soup.   I find that frozen meat cooks at the same rate as defrosted meat in the slow cooker. 

A few days ago I made a lemon cream cheese pie that has been served in our family since I was a child.  The ingredients are:  One graham cracker pie crust, 8 ounces softened cream cheese, two cups milk and one small package instant lemon pudding.  Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese with the milk, adding the milk slowly to prevent lumps.  Add the pudding mix and stir until the mixture begins to thicken a little.  Pour into crust and chill for a few hours before serving.  This is nice served with berries and a smidge of whipped cream.  Sometimes I squeeze in a little lemon juice or add a little lemon zest. 

Wishing you a Monday filled with Peace & Plenty.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stash Buster

Our weatherman is predicting the possibility of strong storms for us today with potential for damaging straight-line wind and hail.  We have secured everything possible outdoors and I'm ready to pull plugs and dive into my closet, with Miss Molly, if needed.  I'm not much of a 'skeerdycat' but there are storms and then there are STORMS.  I'm not too proud to take refuge in my 'hidey hole' if needed.  The atmosphere outdoors is that eerie, too quiet 'before the storm' feeling.  After our derecho/cyclone of 2009 when over 150 of our trees were ripped out of the ground and tossed around like toothpicks, we take no chances.  We have the ultimate respect for storms.

Yesterday I made a quick trip to the grocery store and bought all sorts of convenience foods to lighten the cooking load around here for several days.  Normally I don't shop this way, so it was somewhat of an adventure.  Frozen everything is stacked in our freezer and I can whip up a delightful meal in no time.  I also bought two rotisserie chickens, which are a real time savers.  We ate one with salad and scalloped potatoes last night and the other one will make its debut as chicken enchiladas tomorow.  Yay, more time to sew!

I began working on some Halloween blocks for a group swap a few days ago.  So far I'm enjoying the process and think the blocks are cute.  Here are a few ~~

These are easily made by beginning with a center block (approximately 5 inches) with five sides and adding strips round and round.  Pressing and trimming after adding each strip is important. This is not fancy sewing, but it's fun sewing and a great way to use up some of your novelty prints...or why not make an old-fashioned crazy block quilt with this technique.

One small challenge of this project  for me was the tangled mess of strips that were taking over my sewing table.  Here's my solution ~~

I set up the ironing board to the left of my sewing chair at a right angle to the sewing table.  I lowered the ironing board so the strips are easy to reach. 

Once your pieced block is large enough, give it a good press and use a square ruler to cut out your block, putting the center patch as close to the center of your block as possible.  I plan to put sashing around each block and then a border.  This pattern would make a nice Christmas or Fall quilt also.  This pattern is a great stash buster!

This project reminds me that Fall is just around the corner and cooler days will be here soon.

Wishing you a wonder day filled to overflowing with Peace & Plenty!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stippled Beauty

I have been away several days and have really missed my blogging. Our heatwave continues and we are still dashing from one air-conditioned space to the next!  This weather will break sooner or later.

The local swimming pool has been THE place to endure this heatwave.  Kids and parents are stacked in there like cord wood and our locals are sporting unusually tanned faces this year.  Of course, the kids think this is all great fun!

We are running out of friends and neighbors to take our overload of tomatoes, so I will be dragging out the canner tomorrow and putting up about a dozen quarts for our use this winter.  That should take care of things for a while.

As much as I love handmade quilts, I occasionally succumb to an especially nice store bought quilt.   I fell in love with this quilt while on a short trip to Branson, Missouri a few years ago.  What I think is so nice is the lovely small stippling that covers every inch of this beauty ~

The colors are easy to live with and the pattern is so nice.  It's a King, which makes it a very heavy quilt.  For having small stippling over the entire surface, this quilt is unusually supple and drapes beautifully.

The backing is cocoa brown with soft pink cabbage roses.  I use the back as often as the front and it looks very shabby chic when paired with white pillow shams and throw pillows.  The edges are scalloped.  I could not have made this quilt for the price I paid to buy it and it's very nicely made. 

I am currently working on a Halloween block swap and have 26 wild and happy blocks to make and send off.  Here's a peek at my piles of strips ~

Quite a bit of organizing will take place before I can begin sewing!

Until next time I wish you bushels of Peace & Plenty! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

EZ Tomatoes 101

It's an unbelievably hot and sticky week here in the Midwest.  Our meals have dwindled down to sandwiches, salads and an occasional frozen entree.  Even with A/C it's too hot to be in the kitchen very long.  I guess this is because of being drained of energy during the time we have to be outdoors.
My husband is having a love affair with his tomatoes this year and I feel he deserves some kudos for keeping our plants alive during our exceptional weather. 

We live in a non-agricultural area in the foothills of the Ozarks.  When I say non-ag, I mean our bumper crop is rocks.  These rocks don't go away after you slave with picks and shovels until your hands bleed to get them out of the garden ~ they return the following Spring due to the freezing and thawing of the ground.  The only way to have a truly productive full-scale garden that doesn't work you to death is to have a raised bed garden, which is quite pricey once you factor in the foundation/framework, topsoil and other soil amendments.  Not for this old couple anyway!

We decided that we can live from veggies gleaned from produce stands, farmers markets and the local Town & County except for our beloved homegrown tomatoes. Hubby rigged up some 5-gallon buckets by drilling several drainage holes 3 to 4 inches up from the bottom of the buckets.  He t filled the buckets with good quality (Miracle Gro) potting soil and then planted his baby plants that were no taller than a pinkie finger.  Here's what he has now ~

He placed the buckets on the south side of the garage so they can easily be watered.  The bonus to growing tomatoes in containers is that there is little to no weeds to pull and harvesting is so much easier.  Around here it's not wise to be reaching under plants on the ground.  We have a total of 12 plants and these have kept ourselves, our closest neighbors whose plants didn't survive and several of our tenants with fresh tomatoes all summer.

Hubby has been itching to try growing one of those upside-down tomatoes that are sold on TV so he devised his own version, which are working pretty well.  He took an old hanging plastic flower pot and cut out a circle about 2" or so in diameter in the bottom.  While I held the pot he inserted the baby tomato plant into the hole with the roots inside the pot and the green stems facing downward and then gently filled the pot with soil, pressing it down lightly.  He then took the drip saucer from the pot and place it loosely on top of the soil to give the root area a little shade for the roots.  You could also use a coffee can lid or any old plastic lid you might have.  These two hanging pots are doing well, although I fail to see the benefit of having your tomatoes grow in this manner.  It's a novelty for sure!

Sewing...quilting...Not much of that going on here except for working on some group projects.  I have been having trouble with some blocks for a Quilt of Valor project.  Yesterday I thought I had made a block good enough to go into the quilt of a wounded soldier and posted it in our group section online and immediately a major mistake jumped out at of my star points is the wrong color!!!  As ye sew, so shall ye rip!!!

The way this block is constructed (on the diagonal)  it will be easier for me to make a new block than to rip and redo this one!!  Back to the sewing machine for me today!

Peace & Plenty....Barb

Monday, July 16, 2012


Our weekend was actually quiet and slow.  Even the phone didn't ring much.  DH took a few naps and I spent Saturday in the sewing room. 

I belong to a quilt group/forum at Missouri Star Quilt Company.  One of the best things about belonging to a group like this are the many projects you can work on with other quilters.  This weekend I worked on some blocks for a Quilt of Valor that will go to a Missouri soldier who lost both legs and an arm in combat.  I can't think of a more worthy recipient.  Just this Spring we lost one of our young men from Licking in combat.  He will never be forgotten.   

The colors for the QOV are, of course, red/white/blue and the pattern is Missouri Star, not an easy project at best.  We are also making some Rail Fence blocks to be incorporated into the border.

The garden is heavy with tomatoes which we are sharing with our neighbors.  The zucchini plants have been pulled out for this year. 
Several loaves of zucchini bread have been baked and are awaiting us in the freezer.  I can't imagine life without a freezer to store the garden's bounty for those long, cold winter days.   My zucchini bread recipe makes two loaves and is so simple it can be mixed by hand in no time:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour two loaf pans. 

Beat together 3 eggs and add 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 cups granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 cups shredded zucchini.  Sift together 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and add to wet mixture, mixing well.  Add a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple (well drained) and 1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans and sometimes I toss in a handful of coconut).  Mix well and pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Cool on rack.  This zucchini bread freezes very well.  I wrap the loaves in waxed paper and then heavy foil and slide the individual loaves into freezer bags. 

I make pineapple cream cheese to spread on our zucchini bread:  To an 8 ounce brick of softened cream cheese stir in an 8 ounce can of well-drained crushed pineapple.  This needs to be served at room temperature so the spread doesn't tear up the delicate bread.  It can be thinned with a little milk or pineapple juice. 

When we have a bounty of zucchini I shred it either by hand or in the food processor and freeze it in bags for future loaves of bread.  Zucchini has a lot of water, so if you are using frozen zucchini be sure to pat off the water.  Defrosting it in a colander helps.  I freeze bags containing about 3 cups shredded because with the loss of the water you need more zucchini for your recipe.

If you have ever grown zucchini, you know what bounty is all about!  I wish you a wonderful day!!!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Scrappy Find

This is a late day for me because I mowed for three hours this morning and got it done...YAY!

It's another midwest scorcher today, so it's going to be tuna salad in garden tomatoes for supper tonight.  We eat a lot of sandwiches in hot weather or I cook one large dish so we can have leftovers for another meal.  The heat takes the starch out of this cook.

I shared this on the Missouri Star forum yesterday, but here it goes again for those who don't read the forum.  While at the antique mall where we have a booth I spotted this darling old quilt in the booth next to ours~ ~ ~

I know this pattern as Single Wedding Ring, although sometimes blocks have multiple names.  A quilter on the forum said it reminds her of the 45 rpm records that predated electronics and another said it reminds her of Cheerios ~ both good things with good memories!

The fabrics in the quilt are quite old and that's what drew my eye to it.

I can tell that old clothing was used to make most of the blocks.  The backing is solid off-white cotton.  It's hand quilted and in excellent condition.  I love that it has no borders and I like the way the binding sets it off.

This charmer makes me want to dig out my scraps and see what I can make.  The cherry on the sundae is that it cost just $45.  I haven't run across a real deal on a quilt in a while, so I feel really fortunate to have found this one. 

Of all the quilts I've made and all the others I admire, I still love scrappy quilts best. 

Best wishes for a good day...Barb

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wash Day!

This morning I plan to wash a few quilts.  There are as many washing techniques as there are quilters and how to wash quilts is a constant inquiry on quilting forums. 

Washing quilts was easy in Grandma's day ~ they went into the washtub with lye soap and rung out by hand and then thrown over the clothesline sopping wet to dry in the bright sunshine.   I have witnessed my Grammy Rose take her quilts to the washboard if there were stains she wanted to remove!   Does this make you cringe?  Fortunately we have kinder options nowadays. 

Quilts made generations ago were very seldom made with new fabric ~ they were made from old clothes, aprons, etc.  Most of us buy new fabric for our quilts today.  There is always discussion about whether fabric should be washed before making a quilt.  Most of the quilters I know do not prewash fabric unless there is a bright color that they think might run in the washer and then that particular piece of fabric is checked before cutting.  I prefer not to prewash my quilting fabric, but I do wash every quilt I make as soon as it is finished to remove any chemicals used in the manufacture of the fabrics, any soil from handling during sewing and to soften the fabric.  I like my quilts to feel soft and snuggly and smell good.   Another reason I wash after a quilt is complete is that I often sew with pre-cut fabric collections and they should not be prewashed.  There is no right or wrong way, just remember that prewashing is not recommended for precuts.  At one time I washed every scrap of fabric that entered my sewing room before it was put away. 

My quilts are washed in a high efficiency washer (no agitator) in cold water on the delicate cycle.  I use a mild liquid detergent and a little fabric softener.  I always toss in 2 or 3 color catcher sheets to wick away any dye that might float around.  These sheets can be found in the laundry aisle at your market or big box store.  I understand they are difficult to find in Canada and other countries.   After washing, the quilt is popped into the dryer on low heat until it is about half dry.  While machine drying check your quilt often and reposition it so one section isn't against the hot part of the dryer drum too long.  Once the quilt is about halfway dry, spread it out on a bed to finish drying.  If you have a ceiling fan over the bed turn it on ~ that will speed things up.  I flip my quilts over a time or two during the drying process.    Make sure your quilt is completely dry before folding it if you will be putting it away in a cabinet.

Today I'm showing a picture of an old appliqued quilt made by Grammy Rose when my Nan was a girl, so this quilt is about 115 years old....

The pattern looks like a pansy to me, but Grammy Rose made it in pink so I'm calling it a rose.  The edges of the flowers and leaves are blanket stitched in black embroidery thread and the hand quilting echoes the shape of the flowers and leaves for the most part.  This quilt needs a little repair and I will take care of it this winter.  It will be in good condition after I restitch some of the blanket stitches around the flower petals.  I'm guessing this was a summer quilt because it's a lightweight quilt.  I love this quilt and I'm so thankful it's still in the family.

Until we meet wishes and straight stitches....Barb

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quilting For Real

It was a long, hot weekend for us.  We worked in our apartments both days getting vacancies ready to rent again.  Thank goodness for air conditioning!!  The little town of Cuba, where our apartments are located, was hit by a tornado Saturday evening.  Many trees were uprooted, roofs and signs were destroyed, even the Golden Arches were damaged!  There was, sadly, one death related to the storm.  Our property and tenants fared well and we had a small amount of damage and we are very thankful for this. 

Sewing has been on a back burner for me for a few weeks now.  Summer is our busiest time of the year with all the mowing, gardening and outdoor chores.  Watch out when Fall gets here and the sewing machine purrs all day long!

I really enjoy this blogspot and appreciate everyone who takes the time to drop in and leave comments.  Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I have to be away for a day or longer, but that's just life.  When things slow down for me this Winter I hope to be able to put together a few tutorials to share here.  There are a couple of blocks I'm excited about and think my followers will enjoy.  If I had better photography and computer skills, my blog could offer so much more.  But it's simple and comfortable and I like it that way.  Granny's Gab and Cottonreel are two blogs I follow with the same 'drop in and visit with a friend' feeling to them.  I hope my followers feel that way about my blogspot.  There's a new blog that's very nice also, Kizzies Korner, that shows a lot of promise and wonderful graphics.  I wish her the best.

Today I would like to share one of my most special old quilts made by Grammy Rose. 

This red and white pieced quilt is hand quilted in a 1/4" grid.  The quilting is beautiful, although the quilt is very worn.  I don't know the name of the pattern, so if anyone knows I would love to hear from you.  I remember Grammy quilting this on her frame that lowered from the ceiling in the parlor.  It was on this quilt I was allowed to add some of my first hand quilting 'for real'.  I was seven years old.  I remember being thrilled about being allowed to sew on this and I can still see which stitches were mine.  Grammy was proud of my uneven stitches and left them in her beautiful quilt.  Every day until the quilt was finished I would run to the frame and make sure my stitches were still there!  I hope you have happy quilting memories to warm your heart.

Until we meet again,  I pray your life is filled with Peace & Plenty.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mater Sandwiches

I hope your 4th of July went well.  Ours turned out to be a slow day, having cancelled our annual bash due to the extreme heat.  Even fireworks in our little town were cancelled due to everything being so dry ~ still no rain for our area.

Monday I began sewing together a lap size Christmas quilt for a girlfriend in northern Missouri.  She and her husband allow my Hubby to deer hunt on their farm every Fall and we have all become close friends.  The odd thing is that Jenny was born and raised in our little town and they currently live in the same tiny town where my grandparents lived until Grandpa Bob passed away.  Small world!

I have a pastel summer quilt to share with you today.  It's the Pineapple pattern and is hand quilted.  I don't know the history of this quilt, but I've had it quite a while.  The workmanship is very nice and it's hand quilted ~~~

There is a row of small flying geese as the middle border and the outer border is triangles...very delicate.

When I had a porch swing this was often the quilt I kept on the back to snuggle with on cool evenings.  My Scottie dogs have all been 'swingers' .  Actually, Scotties want to be anywhere you are and in the middle of everything...such sweet little fur babies.  Molly even rides on the 4-wheeler with us!

Tonight our dinner will be a summer specialty, tomato sandwiches.  Don't dismiss this treat without giving it a try.  Begin with good quality fresh white bread and I like mine on the thin side.  On this you slip a generous layer of mayonnaise and homemade is best but Hellman's will do nicely.  Slice your tomatoes about 1/4" thick and lay them on paper towels for a minute or two to absorb excess juice.  Layer your tomatoes on your sandwich, sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!  Tomato sandwiches are served open face and should be eaten right after they are prepared.   This is the classic 'mater' sandwich.  I confess to adding slivers of sweet onion and/or fresh basil to mine from time to time.  These treats are served at buffets and most special occasions when garden tomatoes are in season. What makes them special is using the right ingredients and most of all the fresh maters!  Served with a platter of sweet corn dripping with butter and tall glasses of iced tea you have a meal fit for a King! 

I'm off to the garden now to pick our tomatoes for dinner tonight.  Stop by if you need tomatoes and pick what you need ~ ~ ~

Wishing you a day filled with Peace & Plenty ~ ~ ~  Barb

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July

                                          HAPPY JULY 4th

From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful 4th of July.  This a a great day to get together with friends and family and enjoy good food, good company and laughter.  This year especially, please take care if you plan to shoot off fireworks. 

Until next time ~~~~

                                       Best Wishes ~ ~ Barb

Monday, July 2, 2012

A New Week

After a long weekend of work at our apartments, which are in another town 60 miles away,  we got home yesterday early evening exhausted.  Our dinner was patty melts and sliced garden tomatoes.  After a shower and a little TV we were in bed very early ~ I believe it wasn't quite dark.  Hubby and I both feel we are getting too old for this. 

Today begins a new week and hopefully a break in the heat we have been enduring for about three weeks now.  The lovely pink impatiens in front of our garage are so wilted and the color has faded tremendously.  Everything in the garden is barely hanging on.  We are battling hoards of ants, spiders and wasps that are looking for water and finding it in and around our flowers and tomato plants.  A few minutes watching the Weather Channel convinced us we could have it a lot worse.  I pray for those suffering with no electricity and water.

Very little sewing has been done around here lately due to having too many other things on my plate.  I have been planning a few projects for the holidays and I still have several UFO's to finish and send off to my quilter.  Summer is my least productive season for sewing   Lately we are always in the garden or mowing. 

We're growing our tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets this year to help eliminate weeding and making for easier harvesting.  Tomatoes don't like this blistering heat, which can cause them to get burned on their shoulders (around the stem) and rot from the inside out.  For now we savor every tomato sandwich we are able to eat.

I began working on a few of the little flags that I mentioned in an earlier blog, but having so little time right now has taken my enthusiasm for this project.  I will tuck them away until next year.

Wherever you are, keep cool and enjoy your day.

Peace and Blessings...Barb