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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

DJ Mini Retreat Report

What a wonderful time we all had at the Laurel Janes Mini Retreat yesterday! It was a great day filled with friends, food and fun! I will say that I was feeling pretty insignificant with my 32 little blocks when this beauty was unfolded though. I've been working on my blocks for a year and it seems like this one was put together "overnight"! (Although the maker assures me that it took a bit longer than that.) There are several others in our group who are getting fairly close to having all of their center blocks completed as well, each in different color schemes and each just as beautiful as the next! Seeing these center panels so close to completion was almost enough to make me want to keep making blocks, but that didn't last long once the setting suggestions started coming in for my blocks. I think they all must have hatched this plan together to keep me in the group for life because I have been talked into putting a solid neutral colored block in-between each DJ block and then hand quilting it. Yes, even with only making 32 blocks this is still going to be a lifelong project!
(The last photo is a small section of Anya's Dear Jane quilt. You can follow her progress at Hills Creek Quilter.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

What Do I Do Now, Jane?

Our Dear Jane group is meeting tomorrow for an all day mini retreat. It's always so much fun getting together with these ladies. They are all so great to offer help or suggestions and I'm going to put them to the test tomorrow! I have made the decision that my Dear Jane quilt is going to be a throw size and will be made up of the thirty-something blocks that I have completed along with some other block in between each DJ block. I just don't know what the alternate block will be or how I am going to set them. I'm hoping that my fellow Laurel Janes will help me come up with the perfect plan tomorrow!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Little Cowboy Feet

I finally finished the lil' cowboy's artwork wall hangings! The one with the blue border will be hung in my sewing room with the the others in the series. The one with the gold borders is on its way to the lil' cowboy's house in North Carolina...I just wish I was the one delivering it and not the mailman!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Giveaway Day!

Today is the May Giveaway Day hosted by Sew, Mama, Sew! and I'm joining in the fun! For this giveaway I am offering a Fat-Quarter Scrap-bags pattern along with two fat quarters...enough fabric to make not one, but two great bags!

Here are a few simple rules:

Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Any old comment will do, but it would be great if you could tell me where you are from or a little something about yourself.

I will ship internationally, so everyone is eligible to win, but please only one entry per person.

The giveaway will be open until midnight (EST) on May 31, 2009. The winner will then be chosen at random and announced Monday, June 1, 2009.

The winner will be notified by email, so please make sure I have a way to contact you. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another entry will be chosen to receive the prize.

There are lots and lots of craft blogs participating in the May Giveaway Day, so be sure to stop by Sew, Mama, Sew! for the complete list of participating sites!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sugar Cookie Bars

Frosted sugar cookies are a favorite around here, but honestly they are my least favorite cookie to make. Mixing the dough, letting it chill, rolling, cutting, baking, more rolling, more cutting...it's too much like work, so when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it! Let me tell you, my family may never get "regular" frosted sugar cookies again!

Sugar Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 -20 minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool.


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar and milk until smooth and spreading consistency.

Monday, May 25, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Today marks one year since I started Hanging On by a Needle and Thread. My how time flies when you are having fun! It's been a wonderful year connecting with so many fabulous quilters from all over the world and I'm so appreciative of your visits and kind words over this past year. I wanted to have a special giveaway to thank those of you who take the time to read and comment on a regular basis and I thought the fairest way to do that was to keep it a secret. Each comment that was left on my blog for the month of May counted as an entry in this giveaway. I listed them all in order starting with the first comment on May 1st and ending with the last comment on yesterday's post. I numbered them all and then used RANDOM.ORG to choose the winner...

25. Barb said...

I totally agree, the grass calls, the flower beds beg for attention, and I want to sew...hmmmm doesn't seem to work out so well right now! By the way I love the picture, quilts and grass...and those little dandelion heads...GREAT PICTURE!!

MAY 9, 2009 8:36 PM
Barb from *We* Quilt is the winner! I will be sending you the pattern and fat quarters shown in the photo. Congratulations!

Once again, I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to every one of you who visit here and especially to those of you who take the time to leave a comment along the way. I'm looking forward to year number two and what's the best way to start off another year of blogging? Another giveaway! On Wednesday, May 27th I will be participating in the May Giveaway Day coordinated by Sew, Mama, Sew!, so be sure to stop by on Wednesday to see what is up for grabs!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Couldn't Resist

Yesterday a couple of my quilty friends and I went to a craft rummage sale that was sponsored by the Corning (NY) Quilter's Guild. So much for my fabric diet...walking into that huge room filled with tables that were all over flowing with craft supplies, fabric, yarn, quilting books and patterns all at rummage sale prices was more than I could resist. I found charm packs for 50 cents each, 1 yard cuts of quilt shop quality fabrics for a dollar and a dollar also bought a large piece of the softest pink fleece. Actually, at those prices, I should probably be proud of myself for limiting my purchases to just one bag!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

...I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring.
Salute the ones who died
The ones that give their lives so we don`t have to sacrifice
All the things we love
Like our chicken fried...

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Linus Finish

Even with all of the beautiful weather this week, I still managed to finish this Project Linus quilt! I mention Project Linus quite a bit in my blog posts, but I think some things are worth repeating every now and then... Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides handmade quilts, blankets and afghans to children who are hospitalized, seriously ill or otherwise in need. Project Linus quilts are a great way to try out new patterns or techniques and you certainly don't have to be an expert to create a blanket that is beautiful to a child. If you can quilt, crochet, or knit - please consider making a quilt or blanket for a child who needs a little extra love.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Can You Find The Needle?

Can you find the needle in this photo? Neither can I! I was working at stitching down the binding on this quilt last night and somehow managed to drop the needle. I watched it fall onto my lap and then bounce onto the sofa cushion, but after that it was gone. I searched all of the cracks and crevices of the sofa, looked under the sofa, all around the sofa, high and low, but no needle. I am normally very careful to keep track of all my pins and needles and it really bothers me to know that there is a small sharp object floating around my living room where one of my grandkids might possibly find it, but I don't know what else to do. I just hope that it has gone to the part of the sofa where all of the pocket change, earrings, hair clips and playing cards have vanished to, never to be seen again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More On Basting

I received a lot of questions about basting after Sunday's "Basting Up A Storm" post, so I thought I would elaborate a bit on my basting method. About a year ago I was introduced to Sharon Schamber's Pinless Painless Basting and I haven't considered basting a quilt any other way since. Even though it's probably the fastest and easiest way to baste a quilt, I have never cared for pin basting. The pins are always in the way and they just don't seem to hold as well as thread basting. Before finding Sharon's method I always thread basted the "old fashioned way" (on the floor crawling around on my hands and knees with a needle and thread) which worked fine, but it also meant that I wouldn't be able to walk for two days after basting a quilt! Sharon Schamber's Pinless Painless Basting method involves a table, two 1x4 finished boards, a spool of DMC cotton thread and a needle and no crawling on your hands and knees! You can learn more about this method by watching the instructional video at the Sharon Schamber Network. http://sharonschambernetwork.com/free_area/videos/basting/index.html

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warm Up?

I am sure I heard the weatherman say that the temperatures in northern Pennsylvania were going to warm up this week, but apparently I missed the part about it getting really cold before the temperatures start to climb. I braved the 26 degree record low temperature to take this photograph this morning (yes, that is frost) and that's all I'll be doing outside until the thermometer goes above 65 degrees. I may get in some quilting time this week after all!

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week's Quilting Forecast

Be prepared to see flower photos instead of quilt photos for awhile, because this week's quilting forecast isn't looking very promising. The weatherman is calling for sunny skies all week long with temperatures climbing into the 80's by the end of the week. My kind of weather, but that means that I will most likely be spending most of the week outside working in my flowerbeds rather than inside at my sewing machine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Basting Up A Storm

Northern Pennsylvania doesn't usually see a lot of severe spring weather, but every once in awhile we get a day like yesterday when we have thunderstorms all day long with an occasional tornado warning thrown in for good measure. I would have loved to have spent the day with my sewing machine, but the idea of having my foot on a metal pedal that is attached to an electric outlet during a thunderstorm made me just a bit nervous, so I opted to do some hand basting instead. It was a day well spent, because I now have three crib quilts basted and ready to quilt!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Success! I managed to sew the pinwheel blocks that I made on Wednesday into this beautiful crib sized top. Even after all of the trouble I had with it, I still love this pattern and am very happy with the final results. I will definitely make this pattern again...I will just make sure that I don't have any distractions when I do!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Concentration Abilities

Yesterday was our monthly sewing day at "the lake house" and I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to try the Kwik Pinwheel/Flower pattern that I bought last winter in North Carolina. It was a good thought, but probably not the best idea to try out a brand new pattern that was going to require a bit of concentration. You see, if you were to look back at any of my old report cards from grade school somewhere on the card there would be a phrase something like this, "Susan is distracted easily. When she improves her concentration abilities, I know her work will improve." Apparently that is still the case, because I proved today that I cannot talk to my friends and piece a top without making mistakes...lots and lots of mistakes! My first mistake was not making sure that my fabric was all right side up when cutting the pieces for the pinwheels. Now I could say that the light was bad or that white on white print is hard to see, but the truth is that I only skimmed the directions and missed the note that specifically said "All your fabric should be right side up." My second and biggest mistake was made when I "squared up" the blocks. Once again, I wasn't paying attention and misread the measurements for centering the 9 1/2" ruler on the block which resulted in a pinwheel that had two long sections and two short sections which meant that none of the seams were going to match up. All was not lost though, I would just trim the long sides to match the short sides...easy! Wrong! Can you believe that I trimmed the short side of not one but two blocks before realizing what I was doing? I tried to keep the cursing to a minimum and the spectators did a pretty good job at containing their laughter, but it was at that point that I decided to pack the whole mess up and call it a day. Once I got home, I surveyed the damaged blocks and realized that I could re-re-square them and the blocks would still be large enough to make a nice sized Project Linus quilt. Just a few distraction free cuts with the rotary cutter and I now have twelve perfectly uniform pinwheel blocks. Granted, they are an inch smaller than they should be, but at least all of the seams should match up once they are put together!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crock-Pot Almost Minestrone

My diet continues, so you'll be seeing healthier recipes while I try to stay away from the desserts. This is one of those "dump" recipes that changes a little each time I make it. Use this recipe as a base and use what veggies you have on hand, add kidney beans or spinach, substitute ground turkey for the ground beef or leave the meat out altogether...whatever you like!

Crock-Pot Almost Minestrone

1/2 pound lean ground beef
3 carrots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (32 ounce) can beef broth
3/4 cup elbow macaroni

In a large saucepan, cook ground beef until well done. Drain the ground beef and put into crock-pot. Add carrots, zucchini, garlic, onion and celery. Season with basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes with juice and beef broth. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add the macaroni and turn crock-pot to high 30 minutes before serving, stirring occasionally.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Comment Help Needed

For some reason I am not able to comment on blogs that use the above comment format. I have tried commenting by using my Google account without success. The Name/URL and Anonymous options won't work either. I'm assuming that it has something to do with a setting somewhere that I am overlooking because I see others replying without any trouble. Can anyone offer a solution to my problem?

Edited to add that the problem has been solved! I am using the Mozilla Firefox browser and for this comment format to work properly you have to accept third-party cookies. Tools>Options>Privacy>check box "Accept third-party cookies".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Yard Work vs. Yardage Work

As much as I love warm weather, I am really missing quilting season! (Notice that I said "quilting season" and not "winter".) There are three quilts in this pile waiting to be finished, but the grass is growing faster than ever and the flower beds are needing attention as well. There just aren't enough hours in a day to do all of the things that I want to do as well as the things that I have to do this time of year! High temperatures are predicted in the 70's along with bright sunshine, so I guess yard work wins over yardage work today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Look At Them Now...

Three short weeks ago the leaves were just starting to pop open on my lilac bushes. Look at them now...not only do we have leaves, but the bushes are loaded with beautiful, fragrant blooms!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I have been on a fabric diet since January and trying my hardest to only use fabric from my stash. It's working out pretty well, but I can't say that I've noticed much of a dent in my stash fabrics, even after 4 full months of stitching.
Another thing that I have recently noticed (thanks to a week of very warm weather and the need to break out the summer clothes) is that my waistline needs a bit of trimming too (maybe even more than my fabric stash)!
Yesterday several of my quilty friends and I made a trip to the Lewisburg area to shop at the Lewisburg Farmer's Market and Verna's Fabrics. I did a good job staying away from the luscious looking pies and baked goods and selected only fresh fruits and veggies at the farmer's market, so I'm off to a good start to healthier eating. However, this beautiful metallic paisley and companion fabric by Hoffman California International Fabrics that I found at Verna's was much harder to resist than chocolate whoopie pies. I "justified" my fabric purchase with a "stash busting" quilt pattern, Crazy Eights by Bits 'n Pieces. It uses 8 fat quarters to make the 38x45 quilt top. I think it will be a great pattern for Project Linus quilts and will work well to further trim my stash.
Maybe I didn't do too badly with either diet yesterday after all...I just hope that I can stick to them both long enough to be able to fit all my fabric into the sewing room closet and to be able to wear all of the clothes that are in my dresser!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Selvage Bag

Several years ago my sister-in-law gave me a quilted wallet/purse for my birthday and I literally loved it to death. It was just the right size to hold a checkbook, cash, cards and cell phone and all of the pockets and zippers were "in the right place". It could be tucked inside a larger bag, but because it had a strap, it could also be carried alone. I have had several other wallets similar to that one over the years, but none that I liked as much as that first one. I recently came across that old wallet and decided that I could use it for a pattern and make another one just like it! It wasn't that hard to make, but I now understand why Vera Bradley bags are so expensive...just working at minimum wage, labor alone would be more than $50 for this wallet! It would have been faster and maybe even cheaper to buy a new quilted wallet, but Vera hasn't discovered selvages yet!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pinwheel Gone Awry

This is Dear Jane block A-1, Pinwheel Gone Awry, which seemed like a good block to try and get back into my Dear Jane project because it has obviously gone awry as well! It's been weeks since I have even thought about Dear Jane, let alone put together a block. There are just so many other quilting projects that are distracting me and not enough time in a day to do them all. I am starting to think that I need to trim this project down to a more manageable size and make a wall hanging or throw size quilt otherwise Jane may become a UFO!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coffee House Coffee Cake

This recipe may not be the best thing for a low cholesterol diet, but a little coffee cake every now and then never hurt anyone!

Coffee House Coffee Cake


1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Make topping by combining flour with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mixture should have the consistency of moist sand. Add chopped pecans.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the moist ingredients a little bit at a time. Add milk and mix well.

Spoon batter into a 9x13-inch baking pan that has been buttered and dusted with a light coating of flour.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter. Be sure the topping completely covers the batter.

Bake cake for 50 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn light brown and cake tests done. Cool.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wet Paint And Little Feet

Look what I convinced the lil' cowboy's mommy and daddy to let me do! It wasn't that hard...all I had to do was promise to make them a little artwork wall hanging too. It was an interesting process that just took a little fabric paint, some muslin, three adults and one squirmy baby. I think we all all had blue paint on us before we were done, but we ended up with two sets of nice baby foot prints to use for the wall hangings. We found this perfect cowboy boot fabric at Needles Quilt Shop to use for the border, so now I just need to get stitching!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy Trails

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smilin' until then!

What a wonderful time we had with our lil' cowboy and his mommy and daddy! You can tell by the blurry feet in the photo that the little guy is never still and he did his best to keep the rest of us on the move and off the computer this week. This morning the lil' cowboy and his family saddled up and headed home, so somewhat sadly, I now return to my sewing room and my regular blogging schedule.

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