Thursday, December 30, 2021


 Generally I don't go in for quilting tool gadgets.  There isn't a studio for my stuff, the sewing machine is in the bathroom closet, the extra bedroom closet holds the stash, there are baskets here and there with projects in progress, a small chest of drawers in the entryway holds other stuffs.  It's all over the house and that can dictate what I'm going to work on, measured by the effort to pull it all together.

One of my problems has been ongoing and I thought I solved it when the local group I would stitch with moved to a place that had big tables I could use at my will, anytime I wanted. But then this covid thing changed that when I discovered none of them are vaccinated nor do they mask nor do they intend to do either of those.  So, I no longer go there.   My dining room table was a possible but it wasn't wide enough.  Who knew when we had it made and ordered something narrower than normal that I would someday wish for more standard width?  

To hold my backing down I taped with masking tape.  Run out of that so switch to painters tape.  Doesn't hold as well, as they advertise it doesn't, of course.  Then a couple of months ago I noticed on  Kiwikids blog Sue used binder clips to hold her backing in place.  A quick email asking the size she used.

But there was a problem yet again.  The biggest clip size I could find was 2 inches wide and that was fine to a point but they didn't open wide enough for the base of our dining room table.  I slept on it for a few nights

I came up with something like this in my dream state.  We found this at a local hardware store and they worked perfectly.  One of the issues was not only did they have to  open far enough to fit the table skirting but I had to be able to open them with my strength-less hands.  I bought the two they had and asked them to get ten more for me.

        They open wide enough for the table and my hands can squeeze them hard enough to open them. Now where to store them?? 


For the record as I was thinking my problem out loud PH went out to the garage and brought these back in thinking the word "clamp" mean something universal. He isn't fluent yet in quilt but he's learning.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas 2021

 Well, another one in the books.  We had a wonderful time, they were here overnight from the 22nd to 23rd. The kids are just as wiggly and reluctant to get a photo taken as they ever have been but at least now they know when we say, "if you just cooperate it will only take a second" that it really will only take a second if they cooperate.  This was first thing in the morning and they weren't yet on their toes so still maleable.  

                                                       Adelaide found the pickle

We love having them spread out all over the house in spare beds, couch, floor and cot and they are self sufficient enough to not require constant supervision. They even help!
Our son is a master at grilling our dinner steaks.  Somehow he does them perfectly and to everyone's specific desired done-ness.  Notice no snow and the weather while cold wasn't freezing so shirtsleeves were just enough.
                                             I had to show you one of the things in my stocking. 

                                  Notice the line - Keep Scent of Book Away from Kindle.
                                Don't you just marvel sometimes at peoples' imaginations? 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Toy Soldier


 Our Ceci is into dance. She loves it and when she isn't in her dance classes her dad said she dances around the house.  She auditioned for and got a part in her dance studio's Christmas extravaganza.  That's all I can call it, an extravaganza.  Now, we've been to her recitals over the years and I've always been stunned at the professional approach to the recital.  The sound and lights, scenes and settings, choreography and costumes.  It's QUITE the show.   So when she was accepted to be in the Christmas program we knew we had to go to not only support her but to see something spectacular.

We sure did, it was spectacular in every way!  This is her stay warm in between shows snuggly outfit
And this is her toy soldier costume.  She didn't wear her glasses because I think her brother told her toy soldiers don't wear glasses.   This was her main dance but she was also in four other choreographed crowd dances. 
We all had lunch after the show we saw but she, dressed in her snuggly warmth,  had two more to go on Saturday. 
Amazing!  What a beautiful event!  Congratulations Ceci! 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Pillow Talk

 Once upon a time so very long ago I learned to needlepoint.  I've been trying to remember when, if it was before or after I learned counted cross-stitch.  There are dates on the cross-stitch projects from the early 1980's so I'm thinking that needlepoint came first as I have one piece dated 1977.   Doing something creative with my hands has always been necessary and I clearly remember the needlepoint lessons.  I'm thinking they were at least 45 years ago.

 Well, recently while looking for something I unearthed these three unfinished pieces.  I remember thinking way back then that they would be framed and that's as far as they got.  Tucked away neatly they've been moved and moved and moved from one project box to another.  Until now.  I am seriously looking at a lot of things lately and thinking "WHAT are you waiting for???"  So I made pillows.

The blue in this one doesn't show as well as the green in the photo but the blue is the exact color of the fabric.  Please notice this person who is allergic to sewing machines put a fringe on this one.  There is a friend here in town who dabbles in antiques and often gives me pieces she pulls out of HER closets.  This fringe came off a bedspread but I didn't care.  I knew I'd use it. There's plenty more!
She also gave me the fabric I used for the school house pillow.  I've used it in SO many things and I think it works well here.  It's a chintz and I think the 1940's?
Remember the pineapple days of the 70's?  That's partly how I know how old these needlepoint pieces are.  I was into pineapple motifs in our first house.  Another local friend gave me a big piece of this yellow rose fabric and I thought it worked with this.  

The pillows are nothing fancy, no piping, etc., but they ARE  out of the box and into the light. Finally.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


 Panettone has always intrigued me.  This time of year you see stacks of boxed panettone in kitchen shops, grocery stores, gift shops, and it's always made me wonder what something that was packed and shipped weeks or even months ago might taste like.  And I've never been tempted to buy one of those mystery loaves.  I'm a bit of a snob about baked goods.  I want to eat baked goods the day they are made. I even ask at bakeries when something was made.  Sometimes you don't want to know the answer. But wanting fresh day eating sometimes can be a problem so I freeze everything.  Thawing cookies or breads brings them really close to day of flavor and texture. And I freeze in single serving sizes so they can be taken out little by little.  This was another problem I thought of as I would stand and stare at the mountain of large boxed panettone.

Then one day I was somewhere and had the opportunity to try one piece of panettone. It was one of the boxed things someone served up and I thought this was my chance to try it.  I was surprised at the texture of something that was probably months old.    

Lately I've been thinking of making some on my own.  I searched online for recipes, read them, compared the recipes and settled on trying three.   That was my task yesterday when I should have been taking the time to make some Christmas cookies - again for the freezer, which I did do during rising times: made three batches of cookie dough for baking today.  

So, this is what yesterday was like:

First I tried a panettone muffin from   I knew what muffin meant, it didn't have yeast so there was no rising involved and they would be cakey not bready.  I would make them in muffin cups and control how and when they were eaten.

In the freezer I had some sugared orange peel I made last year and about 8 dates leftover from an appetizer I made for company recently. I chopped those for the fruit.  I also added some finely chopped walnuts. That little purple dot is a black raspberry. You can find anything in our freezer, even a container holding 12 frozen black raspberries.  These turned out very nice.  The taste was citrusy, the nuts gave it a little texture.  Really good taste. I almost stopped here but told myself they were panettone TASTING but not really the panettone bread.

Then I tried the mini chocolate chip panettone from

 These were the texture of bread but absolutely tasteless.  I wouldn't make these again.  I knew when I did make them that all things panettone were not there, the candied fruits, the orange zest, etc. Nope.

This was the last recipe  I tried

I loved these. I wanted to put the chopped walnuts in but didn't because I forgot.  This recipe soaks the candied orange peel and dates in rum and after the first rise all of that extra soaked goodness is added to the dough and worked in.  Oh, yum. It turned into a sticky, ooey, gooey mess and I baked it in the tall muffin wrappers like I did the others because I didn't want a huge loaf.  The gooeyness meant I had to use an ice cream scoop to put the batter in the papers but it worked.  

The only questionable thing about this experiment was the time it took.  The rising time was extra long with the third batch because of the liquid that was in the dough/batter and it meant no nap for me. Granted I was doing three different ones in one day, two needing to rise, but still, no nap.

  I change things all of the time with recipes.  I think if you are a good enough cook you can read a recipe and know if it will work out or taste good and what can be tweaked. The first and third, with the fruits, called for  a LOT of the chopped candied citrus peels and I put in a fraction of what was asked.   I also made the third one in tall muffin papers, not the tall loaf the recipe asks for.  If I were to want chocolate in a panettone I'll just add chocolate chips to the third recipe.  Chocolate and citrus works well so why not?  It was the dough itself in the chocolate chip recipe that was tasteless. 
I loved the third one day of but when I packed them into the freezer I kept one out for this morning and was astounded at how much better it tasted the next day.  Maybe that's why the ones in the stores are made so far ahead.  Like Sean Connery, they get better with age.

PH didn't like the third ones as much as the muffin ones but his comment was that the first one had more chew...he liked the walnuts.  When I make these third ones again some year I won't forget the walnuts and might add chocolate.  If I were to do these adjustments I'll divide the dough into thirds and add the extras that way. 

All in all I was glad I did this little experiment - after all I DID read all three recipes and I am a good enough cook to have chosen these three to try because I COULD taste them when I read the recipe.  But it all comes out in the end, doesn't it?  

Friday, December 10, 2021

Evening on the Riverfront

 I've always called this riverfront park Lowell's front porch.  It's where the city gathers for concerts, festival events, to walk the dog, and tonight, to sit on Santa's lap in his new spot on the new showboat.  

The line to see Santa was long but if you had a place holder in your party you could take part in everything else going on.

                There were free hot dogs, free cocoa and cookies, chestnuts, horse and carriage rides,

                                                            and reindeer to pet and pretend

The line to see Santa on the boat was long but everyone was having such a good time.  The weather was perfect, for once we weren't freezing in the snow.

This year daughter was training the girls in chestnut roasting and selling and they sold out in an hour. People were following their noses to the aroma of roasting chestnuts.

Adelaide put aside a cup for Mrs. Claus, who told Adelaide as she arrived tonight that she had never had a roasted chestnut.  We were given special permission to cut the line so she could deliver some chestnuts and I could take a photo. 

All in all, because the weather was so good we had a great time on the front porch.  And only one grandma fell in the river tonight!  No, it wasn't me.  It's a boat. It lives in the river and I know enough not to get so close to the edge I'd fall in.   So does a three year old - just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


 We were able to have our real Thanksgiving this year even though covid was the elephant in the room. None of us was infected but so very many of the people we know are.

I love going back in time to see the obligatory pictures of the kids each year.  It's incredible how much they change in just one year.  One day at a time, that's all it takes.
Our daughter cooks our holiday meal, she loves it and does an amazing job.  This year she printed out the research she has done on PH's family.  She's gone back to the earliest people who came here from England.  Each of us got one person from the ancestor family at our seat and then she printed out the whole thing for each family to take home.  One of the ancestors, a man, was hanged as a witch for "not having the fear of God before your eyes."  His wife, too, was convicted of the same and met the same fate.  It didn't take much back then.

But we, today, celebrated being together, the 11 of us and our little T-Rex meat eater wants his meat on a bone.


Covid is running rampant in Michigan right now. The hospitals are over run worse than when this thing was at its peak a year ago.  95% of the people who are in the hospitals are NOT vaccinated and so here we all are, prisoners to this thing still (but don't get me started on this.)  It's seeping everywhere, like smoke, and the smart people are vaccinated, boostered and always masked.  Always.  The library people are conscientious and believers in this insipid life changer so I agreed to help assemble the library's Christmas tree the other day.  There were just a very few of us and you can see masks.                         

There hasn't been much quilting mojo going on.  I've been shopping online and baking a little but not much.   But I did prep two projects from the same book.

This table runner struck me when I saw it in a book ages ago.  Here it's painted on canvas but you all know you can take anything and make a quilting pattern out of it.  So I did. There will be two of them. One for daughter and one for daughter-in-law.  I obviously missed this year's fall season so will give it to them for next year.  I also changed it by not adding some things - like as many leaves. I liked the less is more look to it.

This one is for daughter-in-law, the color doesn't show true but the background is black with teeny pink and red roses.  Teeny. 
This is where I am on daughter's. And this is as far as I am with it.  

Some of the small pieces from previous posts are now quilted and some are still waiting. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Bits and pieces again

 OK, you're all finished wishing Charlie a happy birthday  and it's been awhile since I've blogged.  But we've been busy.  We've gone to friends' house for dinner, took a few days and went to Illinois to visit relatives and worked at putting the pots away for the winter and now it's time to think of Thanksgiving next week and are slowly dragging out bits and pieces of Christmas decorations and baking for the freezer. It adds up and sometimes the nap just sounds good.  You know how that goes.  

There hasn't been much quilting done but I have been in a mood to prep some things for finishing.  Sometimes you just have to clean up the small stuff.

Many years ago Friend Sally was cleaning out.  She brought a couple of tubs to  a meeting and a couple of us went through them.  I've had these pieces and parts for years and decided to just put them together, not caring or spending time being fussy with them.  At least now they aren't pieces.  Don't look too close.  I discovered things after they were put together and was NOT going to take it apart and no, I don't care.  It's not big, it will probably have a plant or lamp put on top when it's done.
I had some strings left and somewhen I put them together and decided next fall I'll put it on a table and put a plant or lamp on top.  Another utility clean up. Again, at least it's not in pieces and will be used. Maybe under dishes on a buffet table.
                                                                 I layered the basket
                                                               and the pumpkin

Remember I said I was going to make bitsy squares and border this?  Well, I eliminated the white, made the bitsy squares and decided it was too bright for this little snowlady.

So in the middle of one night I went rummaging in the stash and found just barely enough of the stripe, which works MUCH better.  I added the rose border because I started seeing pics of roses pop up on the blogs of those of you who live in Australia and decided that roses in winter are a thing.  Somewhere.
THIS is what I did with those bitsy squares I made for the snowlady.  I put too much angst and naughty words into making these squares to not use them on something and remembered in the middle of another night I had this winter fabric - again something I've had for so many years I can't remember when I bought it.  I started to quilt it last night because it might just be done in another day and hung on a wall for this Christmas season. Definitely too bright and bold for that little embroidered snowlady .

OK. Done.

Monday, November 1, 2021


                                                                   From 0 to 16 in a blink

                                                                   Happy Birthday, Charlie

Monday, October 25, 2021

Lost and Found

 Have you ever put something somewhere, can see exactly in your mind's eye where but when you went for it, there was no sign of it anywhere?  Did that then mean you took apart your whole stash while looking for it?  And did you find it then?  I thought not, but at least my stash is more organized now.  That was a project a couple of weeks ago.  I was looking for these three embroidered pieces and knew exactly how I stored them, where I put them, even had my hands on them a few months ago.  But no, I couldn't find them.

 I kept my mom busy for a long time embroidering for me.  She loved embroidering, I took advantage of her eyesight while she had it, and she liked the projects.  She had gone through the whole family with tablecloths, pillow cases, table runners, so this was different for her.

I stored them thinking they would be a center medallion for a couple of quilts so stored them on a roll for many years.  Then I decided I didn't need to make them a centerpiece for a whole quilt.  A small hanging piece would be just fine.  And the small piece wouldn't get the wear and tear of a quilt.  So, I went looking for them.  And they were hiding well.  But I found them, bordered them and am now getting them ready to hand quilt.

It's a very dark day here today, rainy, and yucky so finding a good window for the brightness isn't good but the lack of sunshine makes the colors here true. I love that the colors are reflected from the basket center.
I loved the fabric I used for this border and over time used it very sparingly and now it's almost all gone but for a very small piece. I thought it worked well with the pumpkin theme.  My mom embroidered the pumpkin and basket for Friend Marilyn, too.
This one hasn't been done yet but these are the colors I'll use.  I'm going to TRY a Friend Sally-ish very small checked border. I like the idea of that and hope I can pull it off.  

On this dark and dreary and rainy and cold day I think this is my task for the day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Ballad of Laurel Springs


   The Ballad of Laurel Springs by Janet Beard

Old folk songs are more than just songs of entertainment.  Old folk songs are poetry, stories, documents passed on through voice when sometimes the written word couldn't be read.  Old folk songs, if you were so inclined, can be mined for the story behind the story.  You can enjoy them for the music or you can learn something about yourself.

Grace was assigned a family history project in fifth grade.  She was told by an aunt that her great-great-great-great grandfather stabbed his lover to death and well, if you know a fifth grader, learning something like that in your family's history can only make you very determined to find out what happened.

Through YouTube Grace is introduced to the song Pretty Polly, the ballad tells the story of her ancestor Willy Reid and his killing of Polly.  Now, country bands just add the song to their list and perform it but Grace wants to know the story behind the story and she traces each generation through the women in the family all the way back to Polly and thus giving Polly her life back.

Lucky us. 


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Something New

   Yesterday I did something new to me.  Daughter and family went on their annual chestnut foraging trip and I went along. Chestnut hulls are very spiky and sharp and pokey for your fingers. I don't know how the squirrels do it, unless they just wait till the nuts drop.  

  They go picking them because they roast and eat them all winter long.  Roasted chestnuts smell divine and I think they taste a little like a baked potato.  Adelaide says if you put a little butter and salt on them they taste even more like a baked potato.  They are a cozy, yummy winter treat.

  This is what they look like as they get ready to fall.  The husk opens and will either drop completely or just drop the nuts. 

                                       I thought this empty hull looked like a muppet mouth.

  Either way, the ground is covered.  I saw no squirrels.  Years ago we lived across from a park with one lone chestnut tree and you truly had to be there as they dropped to catch even one before the squirrels ran off with them.  In this grove there were thousands.
  On the way there Adelaide said to open them with our feet.  Wear old shoes and open them with our feet.  Then when we got there I was shown how to step on the sides of the spiky pointy sharp part, spread them a little and reach carefully in for the nuts.  Of course there were thousands on the ground that had fallen out of the husks that you just bent and picked up. 

It's hard to stop.  Kind of like picking strawberries and you just can't leave that one in the field.

                                                      Twenty eight pounds of yummy

                                             There's always time to stop and pick a flower.