Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We live in a fairly isolated area and have not had any trick-or-treaters in the last five years.  I'm assuming the same will be true tonight since nothing has changed in our 'neighborhood'. 

Having the little kids come to our door dressed in their costumes used to be so much fun!  Miss Molly, our now matronly Scottie, was always happy to don her pink ballerina outfit for greeting the kids.  Molly is somewhat a celebrity in our county...she has participated in several 'personality' type dog shows and has made lots of friends and fans!  My husband's boss, who doesn't particularly like dogs, loves Molly and asks about her well being on a regular basis. 

Last night I actually finished the Wacky Web Halloween quilt I pieced together last year.  It was quilted by Reggie, my long-arm quilter.  I love Halloween colors....the oranges, acid greens, purples and yellows ~~ all set off with large amounts of black~~~~~

This quilt turned out fairly large. The backing is a spooky purple and it was quilted with variegated thread in Halloween colors.  I had quite a good selection of prints in my stash and only had to buy the border fabric for this project.  The free tutorial is available at Missouri Star Quilt Company.

There will be a big pot of homemade potato soup for dinner tonight with cornbread.  I would be thrilled if some little goblins stop by begging for candy!!!

My prayers are with everyone who has been touched by Hurricane Sandy.  The devastation is unbelievable and the loss of lives tugs at my heart.  I have never seen a storm in our country of this magnitude. 

Until we meet again...Peace and Plenty.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Lest you think I've forgotten about my blog, I thought I would check in.  Work continues on our old house and yesterday, and several days before that, I spent painting.  Last night after Hubby got home from work we tried to clear out the garage at the old house.  Today is Clean-Up Day for the local trash company and we were able to rid ourselves of several large items.

Our weather has been wonderful but by tomorrow evening our temperatures will be below freezing.  I will have one more day to enjoy our flowers in front of the garage (above).   

Since my last post I have mostly worked on a few more table runners for gifts.  I'm also collecting everything to make my daughter a Luna Notte quilt like the one I made for us this Spring....with a few fabric changes so they don't look identical. 

I have been from one end of the Internet to the other trying to find the jellyrolls, charm packs and yardage.  I believe I have everything on the way if they don't notify me that they ran out ~~  this is discontinued fabric.  Once everything has arrived it will be a joy to make another one.  This is one of my favorite fabric lines of all time and the pattern is beyond simple.

I will be back in full force as soon as I am able.  I'm assuming the cold temperatures will shut down a lot of the work at the old house.  We don't heat it and at times it's way too cold for paint to spread even indoors!

Until next time, I wish you Peace & Plenty!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This is the time of year when I become a hunting widow for short spurts of time ~ sometimes two or three days and sometimes a week.  For me this time is all about sewing, not cooking, staying in my jammies all day and catching up with my girlfriends over lunch.  Now that we have a wonderful tea room in town we have a lovely little getaway spot for great food and a walk through the antique mall. 

So far this year Hubby hasn't gone hunting, but I can feel it in the air.  He's beginning to stockpile hunting gear in the garage and making lists of what to take.  He loads the 4-wheeler and all his gear on our long trailer and looks like he's running away from home! 

Molly is good company when Hubby's gone.  She has a pile of afghans in my sewing room and she takes up residence when I sew.  I love to sew and hear her soft snoring in the background.  This is the time that I allow her to sleep with me and she never forgets from year to year. 

The work at our old house continues.  I am trying to get the painting done before the weather turns cold.  Paint just doesn't want to spread on cold walls.  Hubby put the washer and dryer back in their place yesterday after replacing the wall and all the plumbing.  It's been a real ordeal for him. 

Old houses know when they aren't being lived in and they begin to disintegrate from lack of use.  Houses need people as much as people need houses.  I love old houses with their beautiful woodwork and charm ~~ and let's not forget their quirks!  My MIL lives in an old farmhouse and the only electrical outlet in her kitchen is in the floor.  She's afraid of extension cords so she makes her toast on the floor.  The only outlet in her bathroom is inside the medicine cabinet!  Talk about quirks!! 

I will make meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade rolls for dinner today.  If all goes well today I plan to make a Dutch Apple pie.   Stop by if you're in our neck of the woods.

I wish you Peace & Plenty until we meet again.....Barb


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Some people dabble in oil painting and others in antiques ~~  lately I've been dabbling in making homemade cleaning products.  Why bother doing this when there are so many wonderful products already on the market?  Have you seen the price of laundry products and dishwasher soap lately??  The more money I save, the more I have to indulge my passion ~~  buying fabric.  Did I even have to tell you!!

There are countless websites and blogs dedicated to recipes for making every manner of cleaning product imaginable.  So, with an investment of under $20 I bought the ingredients to make countless gallons of laundry detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, glass cleaner and dishwasher soap.  A few of the ingredients I even had on hand.  I haven't used the Fels Naptha soap yet and I may just save it for stains like I have for several years.

My findings are that I like the liquid laundry detergent, although I have to use about 3/4 cup per load.  This is not a real issue because a gallon of detergent costs pennies to make.  With commercial products I used about 1/2 cup.  My recipe is as follows:  1/4 cup Borateem (borax), 1/4 Washing Soda (not baking soda) and 2 Tablespoons Dawn dish soap (blue).  Put ingredients into a gallon container and swirl in 4 cups boiling water, mixing well.  When mixture has cooled to warm, fill container with water.  We have a high efficiency washer and I feel this thinner liquid is better for my machine than something real thick.

The verdict is out on the fabric softener, which is made from hair conditioner, vinegar and water.  In the bottle it smells a bit like salad dressing, but once used the clothes smell nice.  I guess the trick is to find the conditioner with the right fragrance.  I have used this product on two loads and find that it makes our clothes a little too soft.  This may be simply a matter of tweaking the recipe and diluting it a bit.

These products took very little time to concoct, but I've seen recipes that call for grating soap and cooking the mixtures, leaving it overnight, etc., and that all sounds too time consuming and messy for me.  I like to keep things simple.

The blue jar holds the liquid soap and the milk bottle is the fabric softener.  It's fun to do the research on these recipes and experimenting a little with them.  Who knows, you might really love them and save money in the process!  Just do an internet search on homemade laundry products and be amazed at what you can find.

Until next time...Peace & Blessings!

Monday, October 15, 2012


This is the time of year when I often need a nice little gift in a hurry.   When I was a young Mom I was always wondering what to give to the school teachers, school bus drivers, Sunday School teachers, etc ~~ those special people you want to remember with more than a card but maybe you don't have a lot of time or funds for their gift. 

I recently stumbled upon a wonderfully simple and cute table runner while visiting a quilt shop.  I flipped it from one side to the other, took a few mental measurements and came home and produced one in 30 minutes!  Here are three I made yesterday~~~

Chicken Runner

Veggie Runner

You will need two fabrics:  A 9 inch piece for the center, cut the width of your fabric and an 18 inch piece (for back, borders and ends), cut the width of your fabric.  You will make a whole runner with only 3/4 yard of fabric!!

1.  Place right sides of both fabrics together and sew along both long edges with a 1/4 inch seam.  press your seams toward the border fabric.  You have just sewn a tube.

2.  Put your hand inside the tube and turn it right side out.  Fold your runner so the center section is in the middle and the borders on each side are the same size.  Now give it a good press. 

3.  If your ends need to be straightened, now is the time to do it. 

4.  Fold your runner in half the long way with the borders on the outside.  Beginning at the border edges, sew a 3/8 inch seam across each end.  You might want to trim a tiny triangle when you stop your seam to reduce bulk when this is turned (because it will be the pointed end of your runner). 

5.  Press the seam you just sewed open and then turn the end you just sewed right side out.  You now have a lovely pointed end on your runner.  Work a little with the point to make sure it's nice and sharp.

6.  Repeat sewing the other end of your runner (see #4 and #5 above).

The only thing left to do is to sew down the edge of the triangle on each end.  I sew mine with a blind stitch by hand, but you can certainly top stitch yours or use a decorative stitch.

If you want your runner longer or wider, you can cut your pieces running lengthwise, but it will take more fabric this way.  I have plans to try strip piecing my center fabric and finish it per the instructions. 

Your first runner may take you a little longer than 30 minutes, but there is a very short learning curve with this project.  Just think what you can make with fabric you probably already have in your stash! 

Wishing you Peace & Plenty of runners!!



Saturday, October 13, 2012

I've Been Away

I've been away from my blog several days painting kitchen cabinets in our old house to prepare it for renting....not fun.  I'm thinking two or three more full days should do it. Before I could begin painting I had to remove about 40 years worth of old contact paper from the shelves.  This was a real ordeal until I remembered a tip I read somewhere and I dashed home for my hair dryer.  Fifteen seconds of hot air on the sticky paper and it releases its grip and can be peeled off without broken nails and sweat! Too bad I didn't remember this until so far into the job. 

Before I leave for the day I will put together a crock pot of chili so we have a hot meal waiting for us after our day of work.  I found a nice recipe for corndogs made in mini muffin cups with a corn muffin batter and chunks of hotdog poked in the center.  Cute and yummy looking.  If they turn out well I will share the recipe with you on a later post.

We have been getting a lot of rain, storms and wind.  We had the propane take filled yesterday because Halloween is usually the beginning of our really cold weather every year.  Our traditional Halloween meal is homemade vegetable beef soup and cornbread ~~ yes, we eat a lot of cornbread around here. 

I'm off to find my painting clothes.  I hope you have a great weekend. 

Until next time  ~~  Peace & Plenty

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Running With Scissors

Sometimes I wish I had named my blog 'Running With Scissors'.  This is not so much because I actually run with scissors in my hands, but due to an attitude shift I have regarding quilt making.

I had a very loving (but strict) heartland upbringing.  I was taught to respect my elders, love God and country, always tell the truth, work hard, help your neighbors and others who need help, obey the Golden Rule, clean my plate at every meal, be nice to old people and never run with scissors in my hands.  My upbringing was traditional and so are most of my quilts.  I do venture outside my traditional comfort zone from time to time.

Since my Grammy Rose and Grandma Nan taught me everything I needed to know about sewing, quilting, knitting (only when wearing safety glasses), crochet and embroidery and being 'ladyfied', I thought I was set for life .  My seams have always been as perfect as I could manage, I hand-quilted every quilt I made, my stitches were small and even and my embroidery didn't have knots that showed.  Let's not talk about my knitting because I've already blogged about this skill!

I admit to turning a blind eye to machine quilting until the last few years when arthritis took up residence in my quilting hand.  There is a movement today in quilting called Modern Quilting that's revolutionizing quilt making as we know it.  Modern quilts are notably geometric in design (there are always exceptions) and most of them don't have borders, just binding on the edges.  The designs are edgy and bold and most are interpreted using solid fabrics or blenders, rather than the prints we normally see.  Modern quilt blocks can be quite large and go together quickly.  Machine quilting is the star on these quilts, although I see utility hand quilting on some of them.  Look through any quilt magazine or catalogue and see the many kits for modern quilts. 

'Modern quilting' rattled my cage a little at first because it flies in the face of traditional quilting on some level in my mind.  Making quilts without small pieces sewn together or borders feels dangerous to me ~~  much like running with scissors!  Imagine being able to piece a quilt in one afternoon using no pattern, just blocks and strips!  I love the color saturated solids available now everywhere you turn.  White is being used as a focal fabric rather than a background fabric, and gray is used with abandon as the new neutral. The colors are as fresh and sparkling as some of the new designers.  It's intriguing and exciting.  Notably, it's not just the younger quilters pursuing this new trend, at least half of the modern quilters are over age 45.   There is a lot to be learned from the new, younger quilters. 

I have decided to dip my toes into the Modern Quilt movement to see if it's for me.  I will always make my beloved traditional quilts with the techniques taught from hand to hand (and heart to heart) from the women in my family, but I'm ready for a taste of geometrics and solids. 

Bring on the scissors ~~  I'm not afraid to run with them!

Wishing you Piece & Plenty!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Paralysis By Analysis

I have a friend who wants to be a quilter with all her heart.  Her Mom is a quilter, but 'J' just can't make herself take that first step into quilting.  She tells me she reads every quilting magazine, watches tutorials and even buys fabric!  In my mind she is a quilter ~ she just doesn't realize it.  She gets encouragement from all sides and has been invited to private sewing sessions as well as the local quilt guild meetings.  I have offered to help her with her first project so she can see how simple it really can be.  The only thing I can figure is that she's a perfectionist and she's worried that her first efforts might not be perfect. 

From time to time I've been paralyzed by analysis.  One such situation is sitting in a drawer in my sewing room right now.  I have glorious fabric to make a fairly small Dresden Plate (around 60" square) quilt.  The fabric is designed by Robyn Pandolph (my favorite designer) and I have everything I need to make the quilt from start to finish.  I have also made a few Dresden Plate quilts, so it's not new pattern fear.  Last year I was positive this quilt would be complete in time for Christmas 2012 ~ but not so.

Maybe the inspiration will strike me soon, but I won't be able to have it done for this year.  I guess I began thinking about this project and J because I have been sewing together some Dresden blocks made from 1930's reproduction fabrics that I made last winter. 

So I have plenty to work on until inspiration strikes! 

Wishing everyone here a day blessed with Peace & Plenty and loads of quilts!

Monday, October 1, 2012

When Simple Isn't Easy!

This is the first day of October and I would like to know where the summer went!  I always heard that the older you get the quicker time flies by and so far that's my experience.

I admit that I love the modern quilt movement and I wholeheartedly endorse the use of pre-cuts.  I also spend a huge amount of time watching quilting tutorials, especially Jenny Doan's from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I also admire the gorgeous quilts that appear to almost make themselves when I watch the tutorial.  Most often I have a slightly different experience...!

I'm currently working on a Circle quilt made from a printed layer cake and two solid white layer cakes.  All you do is cut a 6" circle from the center of the printed fabric and place that circle on top of a solid white square and stitch 1/4" around the edge of the circle.  The remaining "frame" from around the circle is placed on top of a second layer cake and you again stitch 1/4" around the circle.  Sounds so simple and quick. 

I sewed five blocks like this and after they were sewn, despite pinning everything in place, the circles were slightly poufy.  Even after pressing I wasn't happy with them.  I 'unsewed' all five blocks and spent about two hours yesterday pinning and hand basting everything in place.  This should solve the problem.  I also decided that there is no one thread color that will look good on all the blocks, so I will be using four or five different threads on the visible stitching.

I suppose simple patterns give us the challenge of executing them as skillfully as we can.  The fabric for this quilt is Zoe by Jennifer Young for Benartex.  It's rather retro in feel and the colors are primarily warm.  The stack of circles is awaiting the arrival of another white layer cake.  I hope this will be a quilt that doesn't need a border. 

Things are extra quiet around here today because Miss Molly is at the groomer.  I will vacuum while she is away because the Dyson and Miss Molly don't mix well. 

I wish you all a terrific Monday blessed with Peace & Plenty ~~~  Barb