Friday, December 23, 2022


  It's all everyone is talking about, the cold, the wind, the snow (we have just 4 inches here but other places closer to Lake Michigan have much more) and the cold. Did I mention the cold? This little blue jay is all puffed up trying to stay warm as the birds are eating me out of house and home.  I want to open the door and let them all in the house.  I've heard from Brian in England, Jenny in Australia, our son checked in from the other side of the state.  The weather people have the maps all colored in pretty colors, and they are jabbering about nothing but telling people to go home and stay there.   Of course there are plenty of people out there who are invincible.  

Take care wherever you are and have a peaceful Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Tis the Season

This is probably the last post before Christmas because things are ramping up and so am I.  Baking is the name of the game around here. I ran out of room in the freezer so I put everything in coolers on the front porch because it's colder out there than in the freezer....and they are predicting (read: warning)   the coldest temperatures in 40 years for this weekend, starting Thursday. With blizzard conditions thrown in for good measure.  Why not?  I'm sure no one has anything to do this week, right?  Australia friends keep posting photos of your flowers and visits to the beaches and sleeveless arms and legs sticking out of shorts. It gives me hope.

Saturday, while this side of the state was getting 12 inches of snow, we were on the other side of Michigan with dry pavement and a few peeks of the sun.  We went to watch our Ceci in the Christmas extravaganza her dance studio/school performs each year.  This is her second year in the show and it is magnificent.  Completely professional in every way, lights, music, costumes, sets, we loved seeing her in several dances.

After the show she wore a snuggly onesie to keep warm while we had lunch to fortify her for the second performance.  She and our Adelaide are joined at the hip and we are all sorry they live 2 hours apart.
I had a bonus treat the other day when I went to the elementary school I go to to read to a class of first graders.  That day, Adelaide's orchestra was travelling to each elementary school for a Christmas concert and I just happened to be  here when she was.  She's in the blue hat on violin. It was a treat for both of us.
Highlights - of course meeting friends.  We had two friend dinners last week but I only remembered a photo for this one.  

And much, much fun we caught up on all the news in a two hour Christmas call with Brian (in England.)  Here, he is in Italy in September and since then he's been to Portugal and Budapest.  

PH is really climbing the mountain with this puzzle.  It's taken him longer than any.  I told him he has to have it finished and back in the box by Sunday so today while we watched the final January 6 congressional hearing on television he started to really power through. You can see from the photo on the box he's on the hardest part  - all red and white and points.  

I still have not picked up a needle but I AM thinking about it so there's forward progress.

                               Everyone, have a nice holiday weekend - whether it snows or not!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Seasonal bits

 Well, hello out there.  Even I am tired of looking at the horse blanket but there is just so much jollying  going on but not much to document so I've not been good about changing your view.

Baking. That's what 's been going on. Cookies, candy, bread, it's been like Disney's Fantasia in the kitchen and the freezer is on its way to being open-at-your-own-risk full.  But I put an audiobook in my ear and the time and chores just disappear.  So far I made 500 normal sized peppermint patties and when I realized I was going to run out and yet had a few parties to go to I made another batch but made the patties mini party sized.  That gave me another 200.  That worked very well. But I'm down to 24  normal sized mints and in my mind that means I've run out. Honestly, there just wasn't room in the refrigerator for anything once I had the patties in tins and stored.  Where do they all go? Well, it's my dish to pass at parties - three so far and one more to go - and gifting friends. It is so nice to be able to get together with our friends and be at gatherings again!

I had Elizabeth make a batch of seafoam (honeycomb) and it worked well for her.  She used a slightly bigger pan so the pieces weren't as deep as the ones I made. Australia Judy said there is an Australian candy made with bits of honeycomb and chocolate.  So when Elizabeth finished with the big pieces we put the broken bits and honey dust into the remaining chocolate and put them into a mold.  Yes, Judy, we should go into production!! Delicious.

I was just beginning to have a free shelf in the refrigerator till yesterday when I made peanut butter balls (buckeyes) and two batches of almond toffee. You don't want to know how much chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs I go through in these two months!!  

This year 've decided, too, to make the cookies mini in size because really, who needs the big size? There are two more to go, regular sugar cookies and the chocolate teddy bears which are formed not  cut out.  There was also some stollen made the other day.  I'm playing with what I put in it and this year did dates and the candied lemon and orange peel I made myself.  

About 2 months ago I dropped a cast iron doorstop on my foot and after the pretty colors went away I was left with a lump just about where the nail would go if I were to be crucified.  The whole thing didn't impede any walking in any way except the lump was exactly where the shoes hit the top of my foot.  After a couple of months I decided there was something going on in there because it wasn't going away itself and went to the doctor.  Sure enough there is a bone chipped.  He thinks if I don't aggravate it with shoes it might heal itself so for a few weeks this donut patch lifts the shoe just enough.  Artist Friend Barb couldn't resist adding the artwork.

I think she was modelling my foot patch after this guy.  He was maybe 10 feet away on the other side of the dining room window.  You can see to the right the branches of the felt tree I keep in the window.  This gentleman has 8 points. That's a puddle of corn at his feet and he found it.  We have a deer out back that has a broken back leg so I throw out a couple of cups of corn and hope she finds it.  Sometimes she does.  
PH once asked me if I wanted him to teach me how to sleep sitting up.  If I see he's out I put a blanket  over him.  This Santa was one of those sew it and stuff it pillow things we've had since the kids were tiny.  Stuffed up Santa eventually was a lost soul at Christmas.  We always brought him out but he kind of languished in a corner forgotten till it was time to pack it all up again.   A few years ago I split his seams, took the stuffing out and made this blanket front and back matched up reversible.  Forgotten no more, he is used every day during  the season. 

So, other than that?  No stitching whatsoever.  I packed it all away in the spare bedroom when the girls were going to be here before Thanksgiving and left it packed up.  I did take the butterflies out of the to-do basket because this is what I'll start on soon as I feel like it.  It's the only thing layered and ready and so won't make a mess till I'm feeling like piecing again come January. Oh! And I did finish a baby quilt  before mid-November but can't find a photo.  I can't believe I didn't take a  picture! 

So that's it in a nut basket.  Hope your holiday preps are going smoothly and you even choose to let something go.

Monday, November 28, 2022


  I've only ever once bought a whole bolt of fabric ever.  And really it wasn't even the whole bolt. Back  then, SIL Joyce was buying pretty close to a whole bolt so I said, "what the heck? I'll take the rest."  That was many, years ago when I was first starting to quilt and I've never done it again.  Until now.

I bought a bolt of horse blanket

 I'm not sure how to explain it.  There is/was a cute shop in town that sold some antiques, some upholstery fabrics, trims, buttons, some new chotchkies, a little of everything and we loved it.  I tried not to go in TOO often because I'd come home with something.  The grand girls went there exclusively to find something for their mom's birthday and Christmas and as she walked out for the last time Adelaide cried.  We will miss this place.

Anyway, when I found out they were closing I stopped in a few times.  I had my eye on this bolt of horse blanket because come on, when do you see a bolt of horse blanket? And what would a person who doesn't have a horse do with a bolt of horse blanket?  It didn't matter. I kept stroking it and decided it had to have the headache test.  Headache test:  when I see something that's unique and keeps drawing me in I ask myself "When you get home will you have a bigger headache if you DIDN'T buy it or if you DID? " One of those kinds of things.  A missed chance kind of thing.  How often do you see a bolt of something this cool?  And unique?  And cool?  And no, I had no idea what I'd do with it when I got it home.  But I had to be the one to take it home.

Because the shop owner knew me and because she was closing shop she gave it to me for a song. I wrestled it out to the car - it weighed as much as a ten year old.

Daughter loves plaid.  It reminds her of her school year at St. Andrews in Scotland so I called her.  She came to inspect and decided whatever, she would find a use for some of it.  

She has a small room.  She measured the room and decided cutting two 90 inch lengths would fit nicely as a rug. The bolt is 42 inches wide.  Cutting two pieces 90 inches long and seaming them together with carpet heat seam tape would make a nice sized rug.
So I spent a couple of nights sleeping on the hows. It is tightly and densely woven. I zig zagged the edges (no, I don't have a serger) to control the ravel, ordered 2 inch cotton twill tape, cut it to length for the cut edges, ironed it in half, pinned it on and miracles of all miracles my little machine handled the binding beautifully. 
Two 90 inch pieces are now cut with edges bound. 

On noodle making day I took it  over to daughter's house so we could combine the two pieces. Everything matched perfectly, but of course it would.
We think it looks great and is surprisingly comfy to walk on.   
Now, what to do with the rest of the bolt !?!?

Monday, November 21, 2022

Noodle Day and an amendment

 I am amending this post because Robin said I should add a little of the back story/history of the noodles and she's right! 

It was noodle day yesterday and the torch has passed to the girls.  Actually, it passed to them years ago but I'm not usually there to help and learn.  Believe me, they have their system.  Forty-eight eggs.  Lots of flour, much cranking muscle.  We spelled each other as someone got tired and the job tedious.  We were making so many noodles it took determination to get through it. 

These noodles are something PH's mom and aunts made for every holiday and while the women are long gone now, everyone is making sure there is someone from each family learning how to make them. One cousin has six grandsons and he and his wife are holding noodle making classes so those boys learn how it's done. They are cooked in chicken  broth instead of water  and eaten without sauce, kind of like a spaetzle but noodle length and rarely does anyone put gravy on them (I do, but I am the in-law!)No holiday table or family gathering will happen without these noodles, even picnics in July!Each aunt would bring a pot of noodles and plunk the pot on the table and each batch was different and everyone could walk up to the table and name who made which batch.   PH's mom's were thick and very yellow and it wasn't until our daughter was teaching herself how to make them that she called  PH's  brother to ask how she got that yellow color.

Well.  In the old days they had chickens on the farm that gave eggs with  very yellow yolks. But after she moved to the city and used store bought eggs she resorted to a drop or two of yellow food coloring.  One of the aunts rolled hers paper thin and the other's were a different color, much lighter.  

I am a devotee of the Pasta Grannies episodes on YouTube.  Have you seen them?   Eighty, 90, even 100 year old Grannies in Italy showing us how they do it.  I am addicted to those little ladies, they are inspiring. They've been making pasta every day of their lives and they are strong!    So when I collapse on the couch after making a batch of brownies I put an episode of Pasta Grannies on TV and am reinvigorated.

It was a very productive afternoon and I think we might have enough for the two holidays!  Hopefully.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Snow day

Remember when I said the snowfall the other day was perfect because it was just a little, not a lot and not on the roads?  Well, scratch that. We've had 8 inches here at our house but can get up our driveway thanks to the plow service.

The kids had a snow day from school so Elizabeth and her friend walked over here to go tromping around in the snowy woods. 

Bottom line is it's pretty but still icky.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Perfect snow

This is a perfect snow.  Just a little, not a lot and not on the driveway or streets. If only. We woke up to this today but they are promising more and more for the next three days.  

Here's another geography lesson.  Michigan is unique in that we are surrounded by the Great Lakes,  lakes which people think of as inland seas because they are so big. It's about 120 miles or so across Lake Michigan.  Draw a line directly down the middle of the state and Lake Michigan governs our weather to the west of that line.  When the cold Canadian air comes across Lake Michigan, which is considered warm because it isn't frozen, snow happens.  We call it Lake Effect snow and that impacts the western shores and depending on the wind speeds, can reach into Grand Rapids, a 45 minute drive    from the lake. Anything west of Grand Rapids can get really pounded with lake effect snow.  I am  about 15 miles further inland (see that little blue box east of Grand Rapids? It says Grand River?  That's about where I am. We can skirt by many big snowfall inches by just being that little bit farther from the lake.  Lansing? No lake effect unless the winds are very, very strong and carry the snow that much further.  Detroit?  No lake effect.  

Then there's what is called system snow and everybody gets that. It's a storm that wonks everyone.  Tomorrow's forcasted 6 inch snow? Lake effect.

Absolutely no stitching being done.  

Sunday, November 6, 2022


Not a lot of stitching going on because other things are happening.   I commented once to some quilty friends that I can and do go for days, sometimes weeks without picking up a needle and then someone, bless her, said that is because I do other things.  It's true.  While I love cutting pieces of fabric into little pieces and putting them back together again it's my something but not my everything.  Reading, now not a day goes by without that happening.

We had a birthday, our Charlie turned 17 and wow.  We all went down for the day and celebrated with him by watching an Ohio State football game on TV.  Mike's bestie was with us and since those two are inseparable I told him he had to be in the cousin photo, too.
PH is on puzzle number 2 for the season. The first was too easy and done too quickly so I pulled this one out.  It's much more challenging so he likes it better.

Yesterday I coated 446 peppermint patties in by one.  I make the minty middle one day, stack them between cling wrap on a cookie sheet and put them in the fridge overnight to harden.  Next day I melt the chocolate and dip them one by one and put them on a sheet and into the fridge to harden for about 20 minutes each then into big containers separated by parchment between the layers so they stay nice. I took 4 hours for this step. But I was listening to an audio book, an easy one, so time went fast.

Elizabeth requested seafoam (sometimes called honeycomb.)  I made some to take to her on Halloween but the first batch was a puzzle.  I wasn't sure if it was what she and her dad remembered, it seemed too holey.  This is batch 2 and it came out just about the same but less chewy, more crunchy like I remember it.  After breaking it apart I covered it in chocolate and took it over for Halloween night buffet.  Well, they both declared it a winner and requested more for Christmas.  Daughter said I made the pieces too big, Son in law and Elizabeth said the big pieces were great.  My worry that it was too holey was put to rest when SIL said it was so good because it wasn't tight and condensed like you get in the stores.  When I make it for Christmas I will have Elizabeth here to learn how it's done.

Friday I finally could make Chooky's  zoom meeting with the world.  Sometimes the timing just doesn't work so I can't always make it.  But Friday I could for a couple of hours.   It's good to have a hand project to work on for zooms so I brought out my tin of Liberty circles, found a spot in the spare bedroom  and we chatted and worked.   I don't have the computer equipment others have, no lap top, just an iPad that I prop onto books till the height is right, drag over a lamp and sit in a too stiff chair.  Most everyone else is in their quilt room, some are in their recliners working on hand work, but it doesn't matter, if you can bring up their image and turn on the audio, it works. When the weather is good I'm outside on a porch but  those days are done till next year.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Finish line

 I made it to the finish line!  How many of you will finish by the end of the month?  I have to say everything else took a back seat this month so I could wrap this up.....pun intended. Machine pieced and for me that's saying something. Big stitch quilted which is supposed to be quicker than regular quilting but it still takes time to hand quilt anything.  I kept it simple and not on point for sanity and in the end I like it a lot. 

Now I can work on the Liberty circles,

The going is slow but I had no idea I had this many finished till I just put them out for the photo.  This is a project with Friend Barb and she has many more done than I do but now that the churn dash is done the evening hand work will be the circles.  There is no rhyme or reason to these colors.  The fabrics are from what I purchased in London and here and online.  Totally random.  And there are over 300 to do so more variety will show up as I go along. 

So that's it, folks.  We are moving into Halloween weekend and as the kids grow the plans change. Then it's serious Christmas shopping plans.  Ugh. 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Mug Shots

 Barb told us to bring a yard of fabric that "says you " to retreat. It was a mystery but she said we would take the fabric back home uncut.  I asked if we were going to be expected to wrap our naked bodies in a yard of fabric, you know, like the Calendar Girls, but she assured me it would be painless.

So, here we are:

  Joyce is all batik and a certain color scheme.  If it's teal, turquoise, wine/burgundy, green or navy, it's in her stash.
Barb is in a blue mode right now as you saw in her show and tell  quilts
I don't remember why Lisa chose this sand color. I must have been distracted and not listening when she said.
Here's me with strawberries, of course.  This is a piece I just don't want to cut. 
Sally likes Christmas quilts so she chose this red wonky stripe
I wasn't in the room when Jan had her s taken and explained her choice but it's identical to Lisa's.
Marissa just moved back to Michigan from 14 years in Colorado. Her fabric had feel good messages printed on it. 

We should have had a mug shot number pinned to our shirts!  This was a fun thing to do if you want to  take photos of your retreat people.  For lots of years I have taken much larger frame with me to gatherings. It's a great ice breaker and the pictures are a nice souvenir of the event.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


 Lots of pictures in this one, ladies.  We had our retreat this past weekend.  There were seven of us, the weather just could not have been nicer so there was lots of hand stitching on the porch. There was no way I was going to sit inside any building when we know the clock is ticking on this perfect weather.

This is our Inn and after over 10 years of going twice a year it feels like coming home . The porch is uninhabited at the moment, but only for the moment!

I like to take a walk or two or three and there are so many choices with over 130 acres of woods, meadows, ponds, lake.  I walked around the lake but then discovered it was opening weekend for bow hunting so didn't go out again. 
The porch is perfect for hand stitching with our drinks at hand.
My porch sitting hand work.  Barb and I are each doing a liberty circle quilt.  She is way further than I am because she works faster than I do and spends more time at it.  I keep waiting for the shoemaker's elves to come in the night and work on some of my stuff.  

We did show and tell on the porch because no one wanted to go in and the photos turn out better with the lighting.

The long armer used lime green thread on Barb's blue quilt and you can't tell from the front, only the back. 
Marissa worked this bargello to look like Colorado's mountain country. The skies, the trees, the rivers. You can see she added trunks to her tree wave.  She lived there for 12 years and only just came home to Michigan.

And Sally.  I've said before many times our Sally loves to do itsy bitsy teeny weeny piecing and no one can top per perfection.  

This one?  You know those corners you cut off flying geese or other blocks?  She saves them and this is what she used this group for.  I'm telling you, they are teeny!

She made this one for her grand daughter but didn't want to give it to her when it was finished! So she didn't!  
Every year we take a group photo to document the weekend.  You can see I spent the weekend working on my churn dash.