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I am a wife, mama and grandmama getting through life by hanging on to a needle and thread.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Is On The Way!

I took a break from quilting yesterday to enjoy the beautiful sunny late winter (early spring?) day. A walk around the yard revealed these daffodils just starting to poke up through the mulch. What a welcome sight! This morning it is raining and there were even a few rumbles of thunder. My grandpa always said "It takes a good thunderstorm to really wake things up for spring", so I'm hoping that this morning's thunder did the job and that spring is really on the way!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

This dense, not-too-sweet carrot cake is irresistible once topped with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting! It's a favorite among my quilty friends.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
3 medium carrots, grated
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and milk into butter mixture. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Beat together butter and cream cheese at medium speed until completely smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Place cake on a serving plate. Spread frosting over top and sides and sprinkle with brown sugar and nut topping (below).


1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

Mix together nuts and brown sugar. Sprinkle on top of frosted cake.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Birds In The Air

I have mentioned before that I am adding some traditional quilt blocks to my Dear Jane quilt. I paper pieced this block, birds in the air, and I really like the way this one turned out. I don't know that all of the blocks I have made will make it into "the quilt", but I think this one will make it in for sure!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Set-In Seams

Somehow I have managed to avoid set in seams over my 10 years of quilting. OK, not "somehow", I have avoided them like the plague! Most of the time I try to stick to the KISS motto (Keep It Simple Stupid) and set-in seams didn't look all that simple to me. At the Dear Jane Mini Retreat on Saturday I decided that as long as I had lots of tech support it would be a good time to give set-in seams a whirl with an "easy" spool block. It took some coaching from several seasoned quilters and a little unsewing, but I finally ended up with a fairly flat alternate DJ block when all was said and done.

Monday, February 23, 2009

North Carolina Patterns

I did get to visit one quilt shop while I was in North Carolina, Sew It Seams, in Morehead City. It's a nice small shop with a little bit of everything. I like to look for unique or local quilty things when I'm shopping away from home, so I was really happy when I found these two patterns by designers from North Carolina. The Two-Hour Tulip Purse pattern is designed by Janice Pope. The shop sample was absolutely adorable made up in cowboy fabrics...how could I resist that one? The Kwik Pinwheel/Flower pattern was designed by Two Kwik Quilters of Jacksonville. That one had me sold before I even realized that it was by a local designer! It's a freezer paper pattern that you stack the fabrics and cut them all at the same time...no measuring and no templates! I'm anxious to try both patterns, but I'm trying really hard to stick to my "finish the UFO's before starting any new projects" rule. That rule is getting harder and harder to follow though when I keep finding projects like these!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fun With The Laurel Janes

Yesterday my guild's Dear Jane group, The Laurel Janes, got together for a mini retreat and we spent the whole day stitching on our "Dear Jane" quilt projects. This is one of the six blocks that I managed to complete yesterday, K-9 Scouts Honor. I was surprised that I was able to complete so many blocks with all of the chatting, laughing and eating that was going on, but apparently I did some sewing too! It was great fun and I'm really looking forward to our next get together!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yarn, Yarn And More Yarn!

Our first day in North Carolina we decided to stroll the streets of historic New Bern. It's a beautiful little town full of historical attractions and wonderful little shops. Weaver's Webb was one of the shops that we stepped into and it was like walking through the gates of knitter's heaven! They had every kind of yarn imaginable! It was stacked floor to ceiling...rows and rows of beautiful colors in wools, silks, cottons and all kinds of combinations. I could have done some serious financial damage to our bank account in that one little store, but I restrained myself and only brought home a skein of self-patterning wool. I know my way back though and you can be sure that I will be visiting this shop each time I am in North Carolina!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not A Single Stitch!

We are home after spending a wonderful week in North Carolina with our son, daughter-in-law and lil' cowboy. You can tell by the obvious lack of quilting on my "travel projects" that I never even threaded a needle while we were gone. I was too busy rocking, feeding, burping, changing diapers and giving "pony rides" around the kitchen to even think about quilting. Isn't it funny how one tiny baby boy could make a grandmama forget all about her big quilting plans?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

English Muffin Bread

Care to join me for breakfast? This English Muffin Bread is super simple to make using a bread machine and is a whole lot better than store bought English muffins!

English Muffin Bread

3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup water

Place ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the dough cycle. Shape dough into a long loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover, and allow to raise until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Susan's Frustration

When I decided to take this Dear Jane journey I knew that I would need more instruction than what the book provided, so I purchased the software to save myself some mental anguish. The software is a wonderful tool and it provides instructions for rotary cutting, paper piecing and templates for all of the blocks, but it is not free of errors...not by a long shot! I have renamed F-3 Snowball "Susan's Frustration" because of all of the errors in the rotary cutting directions for this block. The photo on the printout confirms that I did print the correct pattern, but if I had followed the cutting directions as written there's no way it would have produced a snowball block. I strongly suggest to anyone using patterns from the DJ software to look at the cutting diagrams closely and make sure the measurements and number of pieces needed are correct before cutting your fabric.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eye Candy

I'm sure we have all had plenty of Valentine's candy, so here's a little eye candy to enjoy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

For Valentine's Day this year I thought that I would make some heart blocks to donate to our guild's Hug Quilt project. When one of our guild members is facing a long-term illness or other personal hardship, guild members work together to make her a “hug quilt”. These hug quilts are made from 6 1/2 inch (unfinished) heart blocks that are stitched with love by guild members. The blocks can be made from any pattern and in any color, but they should have a white, off white or cream colored background. If you are a member of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild please remember that the Hug Quilt project is ongoing and February is a great time to replenish our supply of heart blocks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

North Carolina Here We Come!

Today we are leaving a cold and very windy Pennsylvania and heading for a much warmer and sunnier North Carolina to visit with our son, daughter-in-law and little cowboy! I am so looking forward to spending the whole week spoiling the little guy, but we hope to enjoy some warm weather, shopping and sight seeing while we are there too. The weather is promising to be in the lower 60's, which will be quite a bit warmer than the temperatures that we have been having here in Pennsylvania. While we are there our son, who is an USMC MP with the K9 Unit, is going to be doing a demonstration with is K9 partner, so we are very excited that we are going to be able to see them both in action. We're also looking forward to visiting some of the surrounding towns that we didn't get to see the last time we were there. In anticipation of the shopping part of the trip, I contacted the Twin Rivers Quilters Guild and asked for information about local quilt shops in the area. Their president was most helpful and sent me a list of several "don't miss" shops complete with driving directions! I don't know that we'll get to see and do everything on our list, but I am sure that this is going to be a very good trip!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shortbread Cookies

Mmmm....shortbread and chocolate for Valentine's Day! Need I say more?

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter (no substitutes)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in flour by hand until the dough is smooth. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.
For chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening over a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Dip one half of each cookie into the chocolate. Place onto cooling racks until set.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Look at the lovely surprise that I found in my mailbox from Kathy at Creative Urges for participating in her virtual tea party. Not only did she send this beautiful teapot print, but she also included a quilt pattern that features unique log cabin style heart blocks. Thanks to Kathy for a wonderful tea party and such a sweet surprise!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Peeky Border Defined

Apparently "peeky border" is a technical term...it can also be called a flange, flat piping, border accent and probably half a dozen other things, but personally I think "peeky border" sounds more fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Borders Added

I finally decided on borders for the blocks that Miss One and Miss Two made for me for Christmas. I found the perfect match for the blue in Miss One's block with a Jo Morton print. I added a little peeky border and it was all it needed. For Miss Two's block I added a narrow black border followed by a wonky piano key border. I think I will probably bind it in the same black once it is quilted.
Next week we are finally going to make the trip to North Carolina to meet our little cowboy in person and my plan is to hand quilt these little wall hangings while we are there...that is if I can put the baby down long enough to pick up a needle!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Family Reunion

It has been quite awhile since I have sewn a Dear Jane block, so I thought that I would put together an easy one, C-12 Family Reunion, just so I could say that I am still working on them. Our Dear Jane group is having a mini retreat on Saturday, February 21. It should be a lot of fun...a whole day to work on Dear Jane blocks with friends! I wonder how many blocks I'll be able to complete between all of the snacking and chatting?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quilted Notebook Folio

My very talented quilty friend, Mary Jane, developed this quilted notebook folio pattern and was kind enough to share her pattern with me so I could make one for a very dear friend of mine. This is a view of the open folio and you can see that the construction is fairly simple and just uses fabric scraps and a bit of heavy interfacing. I added ribbon ties on each side, so the folio could be tied closed, but a button closure or even a velcro tab would have been nice too. Thanks, Mary Jane, for being so willing to share your pattern and ideas!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow this morning, saw his shadow, and promptly declared that there would be six more weeks of quilting weather. Happy Groundhog's Day and happy quilting!

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