Saturday, April 20, 2024

Just a Quickie

 Just a quickie post before I leave for retreat weekend.



This is my April Chookshed Stitcher project...and finish!  Someday I'll remember to straighten things out before photographing them but (there's always an excuse, isn't there?) I took this photo while zooming last night and just kind of laid it on the bed in the sun and  - done!

This is obviously a small one and while I chose projects that needed to be finished this one was a new start.  And finish.  The piece I used for the binding was color perfect with a dash of red and I do love this little thing.  And the truth squad will make me admit to machine piecing and quilting it.  New to me for sure.

I absolutely loved this blue strawberry for years and just didn't want to cut it up.  But as we said last night during zoom, we aren't getting any younger, we have a lot of money tied up in our stashes and in the end our kids would rather disperse our finished quilts than put our stashes in an estate sale. I decided when choosing this little piece that if I used the blue strawberry it would not get lost. 

Wonderful zoom last night, too!  Now, off to retreat weekend.


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Milestones

 Well, looky here.  Somehow fifty years have passed.  They say the days are long but the years are short and they aren't kidding.

 Our daughter arranged for the marquee in town to announce to one and all we've had a milestone anniversary. It didn't take long, those fifty years.  No, we didn't join the line dancing.
We had a very nice dinner at one of our favorite places, even sat on the porch because the weather was so nice.   After all this time he still gazes at me this way!
Tuesday we waited for the eclipse.  Here we were supposed to have 95% coverage and because it was a gorgeous day we sat on the porch playing cribbage while we waited, checking with our safety glasses every few minutes.

You can see by how much shadow there is we still had a way to go, but even with 95% coverage we had quite a bit of light and never felt like it was even twilight. Still, it was a milestone event for the entire U.S. and the anticipation was fun.




Monday, April 1, 2024

April Number 9



It looks like my number 9 is a simple project even though it's a new one, not a finish. It's a small one, too. 

I printed the pattern and it's still dark here this morning so the colors aren't bright but you get the idea.  It's a small wall quilt so I could actually finish this!  I AM also working on those yellow daffodils from the previous two posts, too. I started cutting them the other day.  They don't even have a number but my thumb split and that prevented me from getting March's project pinned.  It's layered but folded and waiting for the thumb to heal. 

We are expecting the usual spring break weather, the first half of the week is going to be rainy and cold so I do believe I'll get these cut.  

On your marks, get set, go!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Katy Did it!

 I wasn't kidding when I said I can't do nor "see" math.  I've always said I can't "see" it. And even though I stared and stared at the Twelve Inch Square block, even measured and drew it all out, I really still didn't "see" it. 

But Katy did.  

Katy commented on my last post that the true block is the yellow and THAT measures 8 inches.  The sashing with the green points is just that. Sashing.  Take those away and voila! an 8 inch block.  Thank you, Katie.  I do appreciate the second set of eyes.  Bloggers are so cool!

I hope everyone has a nice Easter, for the first time in forever I am not cooking. We are the guests. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Twelve Inch Square

 Over at The Polka Dot Chicken the other day I saw a quilt that really hit me. Go over to Carol's post and look at it.   I don't know if it's because we were staring down a cold snap after a beautifully balmy porch sitting week or that I've never made a yellow quilt or whatever the reason, everything about it just said 'yes!'  I saw daffodils, I saw sunshine, and after enlarging a square and staring at it I saw the pattern. 


   Now, I'm severely math challenged.  I can barely count my change. If left alone without interruption I can fix the toaster but I need a padded room to work out math.  This, though, I could draft.  I didn't know what Carol's pattern measured out to but I drafted a 12 x 12 finished square.  I can do that kind of math.
   I asked Carol in her comments how big her square is and she said in the post I'm sending you to that her squares measure 8.5 unfinished.  You can see more of the quilt if you go to a couple of the older posts.
   Hmmmm...are my 12 inch blocks going to be too big?  I am looking at using my stash so the bigger block will use more fabric.   Now, of course, I am second guessing myself. 
   Yesterday we had Daughter and family here for dinner.  Elizabeth is a very smart young lady and very good at detail and math.  I thought I would ask her to draft the 12 inch pattern down to an 8 inch because I could NEVER do THAT math.  

Kidding, I said, "Elizabeth, can you use your advanced trigonometry skills and make this twelve inch pattern into an 8 inch?  

     When she tried to explain her calculations to me I said, "is that the sign for square root???"  

     "Yes," she said, "and this is the hypotenuse of the triangle and..."   I know I looked like a deer in the headlights.  I thanked her profusely and told her I'd go with the twelve inch square.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Chookshed Challenge Number 4 Half Finish

 Half month, half finish, this is my number 4.  I am not sure how much farther I am going to get with this, if anything it might be layered and pinned but we'll see. I was just so happy to get this far I whipped it off the machine and onto the floor for a photo.  Not ironed yet.  Don't look too closely at the placement of the patches.  I thought I did pretty well till I got it finished and looked at it.  Isn't that when just everything wrong shows up?  I don't care, it's a finish.  Also not thinking I'm going to border it.  When I get it ironed I'll decide.


I used the stack of already put together nine patches I inherited from Friend Sally and there are STILL more left.  It's a bit like dealing with the loaves and fishes.  The more I use the more there are. I used these in TWO quilts now and I have no idea what to do with these.  Pillows?  
While rummaging around my project pile I found these Dresden plates I put together last summer, again the petals were all cut and part of the 30s stash from Sally.  I sat on the front porch last September and put them together into plates with my crank sewing machine.  My plan was to do all of them in yellow and make daisies out of them.  There weren't enough to do the whole thing in daisies but too many to separate them well.  Upon looking at them closely many of the yellows are combinations of yellows to make a full plate/flower.  Again, all of these were from the stash of 30s Sally gave me - all except the sashing.  I WILL put a border on this one but again, I'm tired and called it good for now.  In person it really is a sweet top.

After battling with my back for two months I came down with shingles and have been dealing with that the past week and a half-two weeks.  It's better now, just a little twingey reminder now and then.  And I'm tired.

Today is Pi (e) day.   I had just a small container of black raspberries in the freezer and since I'm home alone for a couple of days I thought I would celebrate.  Black raspberries are too hard to come by to waste them. We go through a lot to pick them wild so each berry is cherished.  I knew because it was going to be a rainy day today I was going to devote it to my Chookshed #4 and didn't want to be distracted.  I went to the store and bought a pie shell.  I NEVER buy pie shells.  NEVER.  But again, I just wanted to get this in the oven with a minimum of fuss and distraction.   I will probably have this whole thing eaten by the time PH comes home. If you celebrate, Happy Pi Day.


Friday, March 1, 2024

Number 4

 Well, once again I prove to all I'm not good with directions, not good with even reading them.

My Chookshed Challenge number 4 has to be moved...again.  It got shunted last month, too.  But the one I had as number 4 was the one I intend to take to retreat in April.  I always take to retreat a layered quilt to hand quilt.  I don't take a machine, I don't pack a huge bunch of materials and supplies,  I don't do lots of things fast so I always just take a quilt top to be quilted, hunker down in my corner between two windows with good lighting and spend the weekend hand quilting.  That one would have been number four for March.  I had to move it.  Probably will have to move it again if number 5 isn't chosen for April (which is the number I switched with.)  Confused?  You should have been me this morning when I tried my darndest to remember what "blue quilt" meant at number 4!


This moved to spot number 4 for March.  I have the nine patches done from that never ending stash Friend Sally gave me of the 1930's prints.  There was a pile of nine patches all done so I decided this small medallion center would be do-able and allow the use of still more of Sally's gift. 

This originally was number 2 but moved last month to number 5 and now to number 4.  But at least I'm keeping up with one project a month!! And finishing!  

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bonds

Sometimes in life you just get lucky.  Really, really lucky. Sometimes during your journey you meet a lifelong friend and sometimes you are handed yours.  

These two guys shared a cradle, they go that far back.  Bob and PH are just 3 months apart in age, they are related, part of a big family full of strong women - mothers and aunts - who were the glue that held everyone together in a time before all of the distractions we endure now. They were taught from birth on how life should be lived and what kind of person you were expected to be and that families are what matters. No questions.    


These two guys spent their lives entwined together from infancy to life moments to school classrooms, to paper routes, to baseball, to basketball, riding their bikes all over the city to, as they say, "find a game."  They were masters at Euchre and could read each other's minds.  No one ever could beat them when they teamed up.  Ever.  Don't even try. Just hand over your quarters.


 If there was a situation and one needed advice, they called each other. And because of the way they were raised and because of the kind of guys they grew up to be they passed those values on to their own children.  If ever there was a bond between two people, it was between these two.


                                           Yesterday we buried Bob. He tried.  He tried hard.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Number 2 finish

 Well, I didn't think it would happen, and I didn't even have to do the hard part - piecing the blocks - but I did put the finish on my number two in the Chookshed Stitcher challenge, even though I spent the better part of the last month on a heating pad.  

These blocks were part of a retreat challenge/exchange.  We each gave a piece of fabric to everyone else and asked or didn't ask for something particular.  I gave the green with flower dot (you can see it on the basket closest to the bottom of the pic) and asked for baskets.  I didn't care what kind of basket, just baskets.  We were supposed to have them composed into something and finished, including the binding ( !! ) by retreat in April.  I like that this goes exactly end to end on the dining room table. 

I don't much like deadlines because life happens when you're trying to have fun and I needed to get this done well ahead of April.  And now I have.  Can't wait to see what number the spin of the wheel will give us for March!




Friday, February 9, 2024

Paczki (POONCH key)

 Recently we were talking on a zoom about paczki (POONCH key) and many wondered what they were.   Well, basically they are a jelly filled donut, you might know them as a bismark?  But I know them differently.

My Polish grandma used to make them and over time ate them all herself because she filled them with prunes, which was a traditional Polish filling.  No kid I ever knew would eat a prune even if a donut was wrapped around it. 

My Busia rolled hers in granulated sugar, she never used powdered sugar nor a glaze.  It was that sugar crunch that was traditional.  

The idea in the Old Country was to use up all the sugar, butter, lard and eggs, anything that might tempt you during Lent and get it out of the house. If it was rich and tasty and could spoil in the 40 days before Easter you used it up.  This started in the early 1700s.  This was traditionally a Fat THURSDAY thing, clearing out the cupboards of fattening, deliciousness before Lent.  Now, it's thought of as a Fat Tuesday thing to gorge yourself on donuts and decadence.  Back when I guess you needed the whole weekend to get the job done.  Now Fat Tuesday is marketed at Paczki Day and lines form. 

Many years ago bakeries began to really push this paczki thing and marketed them to the masses.  And thus the changes came.  Way back you could still find ethnic bakeries make paczki with prunes  but if they were going to expand their following and appeal to the masses they needed to be filled with other more popular fillings.  And cover them in different sugars, glazes, and even plain.  

Now you can get custard, cream, blueberry, raspberry, apple, lemon, strawberry, etc. And I can't find any with prunes.  Not where the masses shop.  If you found a bakery in a Polish neighborhood I'm sure they would offer prunes, but maybe not. Prunes have a reputation.

It's been many, many years since I've indulged in paczki (I know there is not "N" in the spelling but there IS in the prouncing) but since we recently had the conversation on zoom for the sake of research I went in search of some.  

Our local grocery store stocks them this way, mountains of them. And they start pushing them weeks and weeks ahead of time.  This grocery store started piling them up immediately after Christmas. But I am a bit of a pastry snob.  I don't want to buy a box of something with a sell by date stamped on them.  I want my baked goods the day they were made.  So I didn't buy any of these.

PH and I found a bakery. We had choices of flavors we could buy in singles.  For the sake of research you know, I bought blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.  And all are/were delicious.  

But if you aren't Polish nor feel the need to purge your house of anything with lard, butter, sugar and eggs you can go to the bakery anytime, any day and buy a Bismark.  It's the same thing. 


Saturday, February 3, 2024

Five Became Two

 


OK, well, deadlines being what they are I did a little rearranging and my number five became number two just for peace of mind. 

At our retreat a time and a half ago we all gave a piece of fabric and if we had specifics we asked for it.
I asked for baskets and gave the green print with little flower circles on it.  I also asked that the background read white. 
I love the colors and creativity everyone chose 
Our deadline was to have our blocks composed, quilted and bound by our next retreat in April. Well, I didn't need nor want to invest the time into a larger quilt so chose a table runner.  I measured this against the dining room table and it fits exactly edge to edge.  I had a perfect viny/berry print for borders and just did it.  And yes, it isn't as wrinkled in person but right now the floor is a long way away. 

But my back is not cooperating with my life right now and so far I have just one square quilted.  Hoping for the best soon....

Monday, January 29, 2024

Aunt Marcella's Chocolate Cake

 This past weekend we again celebrated Mike's and my birthdays.  We meet in a city half way between our son and us so we all do the drive.  It works great, the weather cooperated and by the time we left all of the grands were completely convinced I'm a crazy old lady.  But we had fun getting to that point.

The central point to a birthday is the cake.  You must have a cake on your birthday, I don't care how old you get.  We had two.  Mine is always a cake I love from a bakery here and it's a major splurge.  

Mike asked for Aunt Marcella's chocolate cake. And therein lies the problem.  

PH's Aunt Marcella lived to be 95 and has been gone a good long time. Such stories we have about her! Our son first tasted her cake when he was maybe 4 or 5 years old, so that's 40 years ago.  He flipped for it so I asked for the recipe.  

Step one was to mix cocoa, water and salt over a flame till it was "thick thin."  I knew I was in trouble.  But my son hit it on the head when he said we can ask someone for a recipe but it's the technique that we need.  And he is absolutley right.  If I give someone a recipe the page is overflowing with comments on how I do it.  "This is what it says, but this is what I DO."

Aunt Marcella's cake is great and has always turns out like a charm. It's the frosting that's possessed. In the 40 years I've been trying, I can't think of more than once, maybe twice that it turned out. It's a frosting you pour on, not spread.  And it is impossible!  

More times than not it congeals into a solid lump of fudge.  I dare you to sharpen your best knife and cut it.   

This year daughter was probably tired of listening to me going on in angst over having to make this frosting for this cake because Mike asked for it.  You ALWAYS do what the grands ask, don't you? I do.
So daughter said she would try the frosting and I make the cake.  Deal.
She made the frosting a week before and put it in the refrigerator.  Of course it fudged. I microwaved it to break it down again.  That worked but when I put it on that cake it immediately turned into asphalt patch. See above photo.

So, I was down to making the second cake of the day and doing the frosting myself and trying to meditate myself into being calm.

Over the years I've tried tricking everyone by making some other chocolate frosting.  A ganache, I even resorted to using a boxed frosting mix I don't think they even make anymore. I tried everything but my son has that food memory of HER frosting on THIS cake and he's passed that myth on to his kids.

Well, I tried a new technique.  After cooking it for the required seven minutes and then taking it off the heat and stirring for 15-20 minutes (yes, that's right) I decided maybe I'd use the hand mixer and beat it occasionally during that cooling time.  That seemed to work ok.  It thickened just enough, it didn't turn into fudge.  I poured it over the cake and it didn't run down the side of the counter and onto the floor.  It seemed to act like a slightly loose ganache that stayed in place.  

In the meantime, I put a bottle of sprinkles on the table and told PH he had to pick all of the blue balls out and put them on a plate.  It was a big football weekend for us and Detroit Lions' colors are blue and silver and if this frosting worked this time I would need a nap, not cake decorations.  

Well, you can see what happened when I lifted the cake on the plate after the frosting cooled.  Everything stayed intact but it wrinkled so it looks like my neck.   But it was delicious.  Does all of this deserve it's own blog post?  Probably not but sometimes you need to get something off your chest.

I also told the kids in no uncertain terms will I make their wedding cakes with Aunt Marcella's frosting. 
And when I die I will have her recipe in my hand and when I see her I will insist she tell me her techniques.  

I needed a bottle of this.  I haven't had red wine for two years but I needed this!  And it tasted so good and because everyone else was drinking beer I didn't have to share!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

I'm in trouble now...


One of the numbers on the Chookshed Challenge was to do something with my blue fabric.  I like blue.  I have lots of blues.   I've been drawn to the village quilts, you know, row upon row of houses, and thought the blues would be fun to use in the houses and it would take care of lots of larger pieces of scraps.  But it's piecing and not applique so I thought I should try making one to see if I might go forward with them.  Blue project is number four on the list but if number five isn't called up this month there is some rearranging to be done.  My number five needs to get done.  

Well. As I told the group on zoom the other night, now I'm in trouble.  One test house turned into 15...and counting.  I'm using my crank sewing machine and loving it.  
These are so easy and fun. I'm using bits and pieces for the doors and bigger pieces for the houses and roofs. The pile of pieces I've picked through and are on the spare bed isn't taking care of the main stash because I look at the big pieces in the stash and really hesitate to cut into something for small pieces so I'm back to digging through scraps and small bigger pieces.  Does that make sense?  Which means I may never use those nice cuts.
I don't understand when people say to use your uglies or pieces you don't like.  I wouldn't have bought the fabric if I didn't like it and the larger pieces are still in my stash - some of them for many years - because I LOVE them and don't want to cut into them.  There are no uglies in my stash.  
 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Number 6 finish

 

This is Number Six finished. Bound and gagged.  It's not a big quilt but it was in the pile of UFOs so it worked to be able to finish hand quilting in a month.
I dug in and found a piece of floral for the border, sifted through Sally's 30's fabric bag and bound it in scrappy strips of red.  All of the colors in the border even that out.
These were squares I got from Sally who gave me a large grocery bag full of 30's fabrics and blocks that were abandoned after becoming blocks.  All I did was added scrappy sashings and quilted it.  It's been done for a week but my back is misbehaving and I'm kind of best friends with a heating pad lately so  projects have just languished.

While we have been homebound because of big snowstorms and below 0  temperatures I've spent some time prepping for numbers 1-5 and 7-10.  I rarely ever sew during the day but sometimes it has to be done and we were home so there were no outside distractions.  So I'm cutting for number four, put together  number 5 as it waits to be quilted.  But that one must be done by end of April so if that number isn't chosen soon it may have to jump the line.  Number one will be an easy finish.  Number seven is layered and pinned and waiting to be called up. 
I think I have this under control.  You?


Saturday, January 6, 2024

Do You Remember What YOU Were doing?

 Do you remember Dec. 31, 1999, when the media picked up on some techie person's prediction that when the calendar changed to the year 2000 life as we knew it would come to an end?  

In anticipation of that we thought we should put together a time capsule with three friend couples.  

We had the can, we brought things to contribute, we had a big last supper, we filled the can and the next day, after we lived, I put in photos of the evening and sealed it.  We agreed to get together again in 20 years to open it.  Well, that was covid and then other things happened so we couldn't get to the grand opening till today.

I wasn't sure if I was unleashing a genie or King Tut's remains as I lifted the lid.  None of us could remember either doing this activity in the first place or what they contributed.  I remembered because it was in my care for 24 years. 
                                                                                 No genie. 


                                                                   Marge and Harry
                             Roger and Beth, who now live in Illinois so couldn't be with us today.
                                                                   Sue and Paul
                                                                                 PH and me
                            The first thing I pulled out was a newspaper from Dec. 31, 1999
The second thing was the newspaper from Jan. 1, 2000.  It was obvious the world didn't implode as predicted.
This packet of photos was taken that night for the most part, and the other were photos of our family PH and I put in the can.  We were so much younger, less gray, thinner. Remarkably so.  Our kids weren't married yet so no grandkids yet. 
Besides the newspapers  I pulled out an empty candy bag, some coins, a disintegrating hat with the Jeep logo, a poem about living the dash in your life, a review copy of a Harry Potter book, a pen from a former employ, a card from the game Risk, an unopened deck of cards, a corkscrew with wine cork attached, a cork from champagne which we drank that night, a little owl, a magazine, all of the Christmas cards PH and I received that year, and that was it.   And other than the hat, we can't remember who contributed what.  It was a bit anti-climactic. 

One of the photos I put in was this one of Sue, Marge and Me.  We went through grade school together so for over 60+ years we've been friends.

What started out as a day promising laughs, well, that was delivered.  As for the time capsule?  I was the one who said it aloud, If those trinkets were the best we could come up with, "boy were we boring!!"  But in the end, it really was and is the fact we are life long friends. 
We are the time capsule, not the trinkets we put in a can.