Friday, May 22, 2020


When we moved to this house 5 years ago I immediately noticed this cast iron cauldron sitting in the yard next door.  Not used, not planted, not even a single brew on Halloween.  I just talked about it all of the time.  A perfect planter.   Then those people moved.

A new person moved in for a very few months. When his For Sale sign went in the yard I strongly urged PH to ask if we could have it.  The guy said no.  Nice, huh?  I kept mumbling that he was moving, what did he care?

New owner moves in.  Without my knowing it, PH again went to ask if there was a chance we could adopt the cauldron.  He said yes!  It helps that his wife didn't like it not even a little bit.
PH took our hand cart with wheels at the top and bottom, the two strong young men hefted it onto the cart and wheeled it down their driveway, down the middle of the street and around the corner to our driveway.

They said, "Denice, go stand in the exact spot you want this!"  So I did.  I did not ask them to haul it up the steep, twisty driveway to the top, where I originally thought I'd want it.  I made the concession to putting it at the bottom of the hill.
Then we went to a garden center near here and bought sweet potatoes to plant.  These aren't the decorative sweet potato vines you use in hanging baskets, these will grow real yummy sweet potatoes.  I scattered some marigolds in there to keep curious deer away at first.  I can take them out when the sweet potatoes take over.  They grow underground and I think the warm sun warming this cast iron pot will be a really good environment for them.

Chocolate cake number 4.  This was a mint chip sheet cake I put into two 8 inch layer pans.  I got this recipe  here
This one rates a 4 from the girls (they were eating it with their fingers standing in the doorway till we told them to go cut a piece on a plate) but more like a 3 from daughter and son-in-law.  They didn't like the chocolate chips in the frosting.  But the name of this is mint chip chocolate cake and it does have that mint chip ice cream taste to it.  I liked this one almost the best. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Surprise, surprise

Sometimes we - or rather, I - start a project and don't know if I'll like it in the end. Especially when I'm just winging it, working off an idea in my head. Those ideas don't always turn out.  That happened quite recently.  When it does, the top gets folded and put away or at least on the bottom of the pile. One was so butt ugly I gave it to daughter for the dog.

But not this time.

I've been wanting to do a flying geese quilt and have been on a mission during  this Great Pause to use my scraps.  After randomly constructing these geese/goose units I thought I was really going to like this one.

But there was one problem.  Seams.  Lots of them.  Let me tell you, when I finished this quilt top I put the machine back in the bathroom closet.  But I found I really, really liked this top.  It's not big because I just plain got tired of using the machine to make the geese.  Because of the seams and my arthritic hands I knew if this was ever going to be quilted I'd have to send it to a long arm quilter.

Friend Marilyn knew of someone, Dawn, who lives about 45 minutes away.  I've only ever had two other quilts finished by machine and that was many years ago, so Dawn and I talked about batting, what I was looking for, and where on her porch to leave the quilt. 

And here it is, finished and beautiful, she did a beautiful job.  I was so excited to get it back yesterday I put the binding on immediately and just finished sewing it down.

This quilt really makes me smile when I look at it.  I don't know why but it hits just the right note, it turned out exactly how I wanted it to and that doesn't always happen.

Friday, May 15, 2020


Last year a quilty friend told me of a woman in the next town over who has so much rhubarb she lets people come and pick.  It was such a beautiful day Wednesday I called her to see if it was close to ready.  She laughed and said it's so very ready to pick now.  I went over, masked, and was amazed at the size of her patch.
 In no time I picked 14 pounds!
 After cleaning and cutting and sugaring  and letting it sit to juice up
 I made a pie and four crisps.  The first pie of the season always goes to my brother, my sister got a crisp, we ate one and put two in the freezer.  I'll go again next week and get more.  It was so nice in January to pull out the crisps I made last summer for a taste of spring. 
 A couple of years ago Friend Marilyn and I split these antique stars between us.  Friend Jan was given them by someone and didn't want to fuss with them.  After carrying them around with me as my toteable project for two years I finally finished them.  This is the flimsy.  It's going to be awhile before it's quilted. This is a big one. 
 In the interest of clearing out I decided I've carried these pieces of old upholstery fabric from here to there long enough.  The two flowered blue ones in the middle?  That was our couch from about 22 years ago.   I don't know where I got the blue daisy fabric from.  The ticking?  I love that.  A local quilty friend often calls with antique pieces of things she doesn't want because SHE is cleaning out.  I always say yes to whatever she is willing to give away.   The ticking was a pillow.  PH and I dumped the feathers into the firepit to burn (that's a yucky smell!) and I washed and washed the ticking.  I absolutely loved the oldness of it and didn't want to fold it away.  So, it's a large tote with shoulder handles.
 I lined it with some chintz I had from who knows where?  This one is my favorite.  But I'm a bag lady so none of these will be lonely for tote jobs.
 I had some really heavy canvas that I thought I'd use as a tablecloth but didn't and won't. So a lining it is.
 This is another orphan.  I made the stars from diamonds the local friend gave me and the diamonds are cut from feedsacks and made cute stars.  I don't know if this will be hung or a table runner but I love the colors.

So - I've hit the bottom of the drawer! Not counting the four tops that need to be layered.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

In the Mood

Yesterday was cold and cloudy - better weather is promised - and I was in the mood. 

 Homemade hamburger buns
 pasta for lasagna
which we both approved of heartily.  I observed while loading the dishwasher that I didn't even have to rinse the plates.  The green you see is pesto. The meat this time is a combination of Johnsonville original brats and Italian sausage brats.  I don't have a recipe for lasagna.  I just open the refrigerator and freezer and use what sounds good.  It's never the same twice.
and chocolate cake number 3.  This one has two pieces cut out for PH and me and was then sent down the street for taste testing. As I knocked on the door I could hear Adelaide inside, "It's Grandma with another chocolate cake!" and the door was quickly opened.
  This recipe came out of a 1979 cookbook I go back to over and over again.  So much so it's held together with clips and all pages are now single sheets of paper.  This is a sour cream chocolate cake with a butter cream frosting.  I didn't have sour cream so used yogurt.  It isn't as moist as the Ina Garten cake but definitely wasn't dry, had a nice dense crumb and I liked the taste. I would definitely make this one again.  Listen to me!  All of this gushing over a chocolate cake! 

A very productive morning!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Makin' Things

It's been a week of nice weather so far.  That's scheduled to change tomorrow so interspersed with reading sessions on the front porch I've been working on makin' things.

 Part Two of the Chocolate Cake Showdown.  This one was a malted milk chocolate cake with the the frosting I had left from last week's cake (Last week I made Ina Garten's cake but not her frosting.)  For this one, once the leftover frosting was warmed to room temperature I added lots of malted milk powder to the frosting, too.  The concensus was three to one.  Daughter liked this one better because the cake was a little more dense. Taste was a tie.
And, as I put this together I prayed a lot to my guardian angel.  I do so hate piecing by machine.  I hate points.  I hate bits of fabric.  I hate that no matter how careful I am they just don't look like they do in the pictures.  But I persevered, mumbled, and gave thanks when it got to this point where the rows could be attached.  Now, I'm tired of scraps. I've come to realize I will never, ever be rid of scraps.  I want to make a real quilt, a planned out quilt that I hand applique and feel good about while working it.    I want to do a basket quilt but all I see are those HSTs and points and I'm not loving that idea so I continue the search for ideas.

Here's the recipe for the frosting I made for Chocolate Cake Showdown Number 1 (and used the leftover for cake #2)
Last week's cake was Ina Garten's chocolate cake recipe.  You can find it anywhere online. The kids all put it in a hands down winner category. This is the frosting I used:

Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cups softened butter*
8 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
7-8 cups powdered sugar
about 1/4 cup milk as needed

Yup, that's 1.5 cups butter and 8 oz. cream cheese.  I told you it was good.    So, mix everything together but stop adding the powdered sugar at 7 cups and see how it feels to you. Powdered sugar measures differently depending on: how long it's been in the cupboard and settled, how you scoop it, do you pack it into the measuring cup or just spoon it loosely? It can be finicky, so stop at 7 and see what it feels like.   I used more than 1/4 cup milk, it was almost 1/2 cup by the time I got the consistency I wanted. The cake is moist and light so you want this frosting to be smoothable.  It makes way more than you will need. The frosting on the 10 inch single layer cake in this picture is what was left over from last week!  You might want to refrigerate the frosted cake if not eating it right away.  The kids didn't wait that long.

For the second week's cake I added malt powder to the softened left over frosting and used a mixer to combine.

* I don't really have to tell you to use REAL BUTTER do I?  No margarine, no fake stuff, just real, honest to goodness BUTTER.  

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Teachable Moment

Many times I've said that the grand girls love to play in the woods out back.  Several times during The Great Pause they've come over, said hi through the door and headed out back to the woods.  They have their favorite spots, projects and things they like back there.  I wouldn't know. It's their world and we don't follow them. 

One beautiful, sunny and warm day they showed up with these topgraphic maps their dad printed out for them.  They were armed with water, juice and chocolate, pencils, markers and off they went to map.

  Finger marks the starting spot.
Some real thought went into marking everything they claim as theirs in the forest
Teachable moment indeed!