Monday, April 28, 2014

Keeping It Real

I'm right at my least favorite part of the quilt making process - the actual quilting. I'm just not good at it and no matter how many times I do it I just don't seem to get any better. I struggle, I tug, I go fast, I slow down. I watch free motion videos and read Harriet Hartman's instructions. I make smaller sandwiches and practice before hand all to no avail. My stipple is lumpy and ham handed.
 I'm just being honest here in the interest of keeping it real. I persevere because #1 I'm not made of money and can't afford to send every quilt I make to the longarm quilter, #2 this quilt is for my grand baby and I want to be able to say I made it 100% myself for my little one and #3 I just want to be able to conquer this skill darn it!

 My straight line quilting isn't so bad, at least I can sew a reasonably straight line!  I'm pretty sure the baby won't care and I'm also pretty sure that once it's laundered the stitches will sink in and not look too bad so I'll keep on and try my best not to be my own worst critic.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday hoping to be inspired.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I have such a cool tip for you this morning I can hardly wait to show you. I've discovered a way to keep my threads from unraveling while in storage and it's so easy that I'm slapping my forehead that I haven't done this before.
I purchased a couple of rolls of this stuff at a quilt shop in San Diego (I'll tell you about that wonderful place in a minute) Hugo's Amazing Tape.  This is re-positionable self-sticking tape that you can use to hold all kinds of things together. Here's what I used it for and it worked like a charm!
There's no adhesive and it can be used over and over. Perfect for my spools of thread. This is the 1 inch size on my big spool. It also comes in a 1/2 inch size which works well for the smaller spools. I also tried it out on my rolls of stabilizer and that worked well too.
 Just look at this tidy thread drawer with no unraveled, tangled thread. Let me say up front that this is not cheap but it really works and the one roll I got has gone a long way.

Now on to the San Diego quilt store. My kids are so smart! My youngest son and his lovely wife had the great good sense to buy a home within walking distance of a fabulous quilt store, Rosie's Calico Cupboard Quilt Shop . This place is amazing and a lot overwhelming with literally thousands of bolts of fabric with fantastic prices. Whenever I'm visiting the kids I always go to Rosie's and I always come home with fabric so you know I have a little something to show you.
I picked up these super cute flannels to replenish the stash since I've been on a baby quilt binge.
Some background fabrics, a girl can never have too many of those, and the bottom two, I have no idea what I'll use them for but they were in the sale area for $4/yd so two yards each came home with me just because.

Sadly, I must leave you for a dentist appointment. The morning before my trip I broke one of my front teeth on a piece of toast and today is the day for my ROOT CANAL! Yikes! Say a little prayer for me will you? Like most of us I hate the dentist.

Until next time,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wake Up & Smell the Coffee!

Shocker alert! I managed to stumble my way upstairs this week and find my sewing machine! After more than three weeks it was such a joy to get back to needle and thread. When last I showed anything fabric related I was starting the quilting on my coffee and chocolate table runner and ta da - it's a finish!
I love this one for it's color and playful fabrics and it looks great in my living room, (obviously, I won't be keeping it on the floor that's just for the photo shoot.)
I didn't fuss a lot with the quilting I just marked a simple cross hatch and some straight lines in the borders. I wanted to keep it clean and modern looking. My shell and pottery collection look wonderful on this runner.
I still had a tiny bit of scraps left and you know what that means, mug rugs of course.
I like to make mine a little bigger because I tend to be a messy gal and a little machine embroidery always jazzes things up don't ya think?

I'm linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. I always find so much inspiration there and you will too.

I saw this this morning on Linda's blog, Buzzing and Bumbling and I think it's so true. "Creativity cannot be used up. The more you use, the more you have!" If you haven't visited Buzzing and Bumbling yet I suggest you take yourself there right away Linda is so talented and I know you will love her creations.

Until next time remember,

Friday, April 18, 2014


What's going on here? Am I making some kind of crazy health food smoothy with the whole egg, shells and all? Not eggxactly, (see what I did there, now you know it's a post about eggs) although I hope this concoction will turn out to be healthy it's going to be for the birds not for me or for my health nut husband. We have an overabundance of eggs right now with all 15 hens in our flock laying like their little lives depended on it. That's a good thing right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because we have plenty of fresh eggs to go around and no because we have more eggs than we can use. 
Here's my solution for using those extra eggs. Scrambled eggs, shells and all for the girls. Mix them up in the blender and cook them up, protein and calcium in one go round. Before you get all upset about what a waste this is let me tell you that I have tried to find ways to share these eggs with NO success. As you may remember I do sell my eggs to a very small group of customers for a very small price (half of what organic, free range eggs sell for in the market) and I do give eggs to my son's family down the road. That still leaves a surplus. I offered the eggs to the local food bank but they could not take them because of Dept. of Health restrictions. So I looked into getting a county certification as a certified egg handler. The county required that I register as an egg producer of over 50 doz/wk, attend food handling classes and have a food safe kitchen, agree to be inspected by county officials and pay a tax on said non-existent 50dz/wk. Say what?! No thanks. I'm doing just fine as is with my VERY small barter/trade system thank you.
Here the ladies are enjoying their treat. I don't do this more than once a week because that would be just too much protein for them and would upset the diet balance. Hard to get a good picture because they were really going after these goodies. I threw in some shriveled apples as well as you can see. 
It's also the time of year when the mint, sage, oregano and rosemary are threatening to take over the flower beds so I trim away and take all those snippets to the hens as well. Some of these go into the coop and nest boxes. Herbs discourage bugs and other crawly pests in the hen house and keep it smelling sweet until clean out day. The rest I just toss into the yard for the girls to cluck over.
A mad stampede ensues! They love mint, lemon balm, oregano, grass, rosemary, rose petals but not cuttings from the chives or garlic. My girls are picky that way. The yolks from these ladies are impossibly orange!
A portrait of Cinnamon, a nine month old Rhode Island Red hen hatched here on Dogwood Lane. She did not want to hold still for her picture, actually none of them did. I have to figure out the action setting on my camera if I want to get a good pic of these babes.

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

 Just look what I discovered taking over the garden when I returned from my travels - Rhubarb! I love this stuff but I've discovered over the years that when I mention it people either love it, hate it or have never heard of it. My Aunt Sissy called it pie plant and we always looked forward to the rhubarb as the first spring plant from the garden that we could harvest and make into something yummy. Perhaps your only encounter with rhubarb has been with the ubiquitous strawberry rhubarb jam which is actually my least favorite way to eat rhubarb. I like my rhubarb on the tart side and I detest the addition of strawberry jello in anything so most SR jam recipes leave me cold.

You can see the gorgeous red of the stalks is only skin deep and the color disappears when they're cooked so if you see rhubarb desserts that are pink or red you can bet that food coloring or some other fruit has been added. This is not necessarily a bad thing just wanted you to know.

This is what I chose to make with my first rhubarb of the season. Delicious Rhubarb Crumb Bars. Crunchy on the top and bottom with a sweet tart rhubarb filling. Since I also picked up fresh strawberries from a roadside stand on the drive home I decided to top my bars off with sweet chopped strawberry goodness. Perfect! You can eat yours plain or with ice cream.

Rhubarb Crumb Bars makes 20-24
recipe adapted from Favorite Recipes From Quilters by Louise Stoltzfus
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sour your rhubarb is and how tart you like it you may need more sugar, you should give it a taste after it’s cooked for a bit and adjust the sugar accordingly.)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crust: Combine all ingredients until crumbly. I used my food processor. Be sure that your butter is really cold in this step. No need to make the crumbs too fine the size of small peas is about right but if they end up smaller don’t fret. You could even use your hands and rub the butter into the dry ingredients in this step.
Pat half of crust mixture into lightly greased 13x9" baking pan (I use cooking spray for this step) and reserve the rest for the top.
In saucepan combine rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and water.
Cook over medium low heat until juices form and filling starts to thicken.
Blend in vanilla.
Pour over crust.
Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes.

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the whipped cream!

Until next time,

Friday, April 11, 2014

April Photo Challenge - Macro Shots

I love this challenge! I've been playing around with macro shots for a long time and love the challenge of trying to capture the up close and personal. I've always been drawn to tiny details and I have several paintings in my home which feature those kinds of details rather than the big picture. Of course, most of my macro shots are of flowers! It was hard to choose just three I have sooooo many. Perfect subjects for close up details right? And they can't object that you're taking too long to set up!

I was so happy with this picture when I took it over four years ago! It's been my computer wallpaper for quite a while. I used my Cyber Shot camera on the macro setting and that's it. What a great little camera, I was sad when it died I can tell you. No enhancement on this at all. I love the shadow of the bee's wing on the flower.

Another flower picture for you. We have dogwoods in bloom right now here on Dogwood Lane so this is a treat after a cold winter. I was standing in the rain to take this picture and hoping that the wind would die down for just a minute! I bumped up the exposure a tiny bit and sharpened it a little using PicMonkey. The heart of the dogwood blossom, a cluster of flowers within a flower.

I'm a quilter so I'm obsessed with stitching and I'm passing along my obsession to you. I don't think you can fully appreciate why I took this picture unless you see the entire work so I must break the three photo rule and include photo number four of the complete stitched piece. This will be your fiber eye candy for the day.
Circle the Date by Libby Lehman
I was fortunate enough to take a quilting class with Libby Lehman in 2010 and found her to be a fun and gracious teacher. Since that time she has suffered a catastrophic stroke and is working hard on her recovery. I wish her nothing but the best as she is a wonderful fiber artist and generous person.

Can't wait to see what others are using for their close up/macro challenge shots this month. Be sure to click on the button in my side bar and check out all the other photographers who I assure you are far more talented than I. I'm learning so much by studying their work.

A Personal Photo Challenge

Until next time,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not The Iliad But Certainly An Odyssey!

As you all have probably figured out by now I have been on another one of my walk-a bouts. Two weeks of travel all over the state of California visiting family and friends, attending a baby shower, working a health clinic and playing with grand kids. Chris stayed home for the first part of my journey to take care of the homestead and the animals and then he drove to meet me and work the health clinic with me. The two of us have covered a lot of ground in the last two months and I don't mind admitting I'm pretty tired and ready to stay home for a while.

By Nserrano (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

First stop for me was Los Angeles the land where I was raised and where most of our family and friends still reside. Our oldest son and his family live outside L.A. and so I get to be Mimi while I'm here too. I was so happy and excited to be attending the baby shower for my God Daughter Katie and she loved the ruffle flannel quilt I made for her little boy due in just two more weeks.

Of course whenever I'm visiting the home place I squeeze in as much time with friends as I can but there's never as much time as I would like to see everyone. We'll be back in the summer for a family anniversary party and a Dowell Family reunion is planned for late summer so I'm not worried about the clan, I know we'll be gathering soon.

By Andrew Garrett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris met me for the next stop, Coachella Valley - the California desert outside Palm Springs, to work in a four day health clinic sponsored by California Care Force. You can click on the link to find out more about the organization and what the clinic accomplished. We worked two days of the four day event. I'm not as young as I used to be and find I just can't stay on my feet that many days in a row an more. (sigh*)

On to San Diego to see our youngest son and his family. His daughter Paige will be two years old in June and will be receiving a baby sister as a birthday gift. She would probably rather have a puppy, we'll see how all that plays out. In the mean time I get to be Grammy and share bath time and story time and play dollies. Her new obsession is changing diapers on all her babies and we went through a lot of diapers while I was there - sorry mom! 

Did you notice that each of my sets of grand kids call me by a different name? Don't know how that started but I have to keep track of where I am and answer to the correct name depending on household. Hope when I'm gone they'll all know who they're talking about when they talk about me!

It's so hard to say good-bye to all my sweet babies but I am glad to be sleeping in my own bed. For those of you who may be wondering it's an 11 hour drive from San Diego to Georgetown, that's with necessary rest stops only, no meals. We stagger in like a couple of drunks and kiss the ground of our driveway when we finally make it home I can tell ya and we vow to NEVER do it again. But then we always do because we miss our kids and love our grand kids and we always have fun when we're with them. I'm done with laundry, I've picked up the dogs from the boarding kennel (they were not best pleased about their little vacay) and I'm ready to settle into the spring chores. So tell me, what's been going on with all of you?

Until next time,