Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WIP, January 21

I haven't done a "Work In Progress Wednesday" post in a long LONG time.  I know I need to blog more but I'm busy sewing.  Beth and I are working on a new program that celebrates the quilt designer, Ruby Short McKim.  This program is heavy on sewing/light on research---so it is quite a change for me. Today and tomorrow I'll be making oriental poppies:
This poppy pattern is probably one of McKim's most famous.  I'm finding it fascinating the range of her work and how that can be adapted to modern quilting.   What are you working on?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First snow day of 2015!

This morning I was awakened by Seamus barking:  "The world is white! The world is white!"  
Later my brother Jim telephoned to call "dibs" on shoveling for me (I'm still recovering in the boot).  You may wonder why people call for dibs on shoveling?  Simple:
I bake cookies for shovelers.  
Which brings me to the whole reason for this post.  I have had a variety of people ask me this past month why my cookies are so delicious and why the texture and height is so good.  My first reason is that anyone else's cookies taste great because you didn't have to bake them.   I learned this first hand when Jessica did the cookie baking this year.  It was a sad day for me when her gingerbread cookies were all gone:

 But there are other reasons why my cookies turn out the way they do.  Here are some things I thought of today as I assembled the dough:
1- BUTTER:  my great-grandmother and grandmother swore that you bake with butter.  In stating this, I also have to make an important suggestion.  Let the butter soften naturally.  I could go on about this because I think we as a society are used to cooking/baking "FAST and EASY!" but cookies--like a lot of good things-- requires some forethought and preparation.  Melt your butter in a microwave and your cookies will be flat.  That's just the way it goes.
2--MEASURE properly.  Baking isn't a creative outlet, it's chemistry.  
3- Don't---DO NOT--over mix your dough once you add your flour.  A few turns with the mixer or spoon and then be done with it.  Over mix and your cookies become crumbly.  
4-COOL IT!  Refrigerate your dough before you bake so they don't spread out and get flat.  Once you are baking, be sure your tray is cooled before dropping your dough again.  
So there are my big suggestions for baking cookies.  As my dough refrigerates and gets cool, I'm working on my calendar and schedule for the next year.  Be safe and have a nice cuppa tea or coffee on this cold snowy day!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country, we eat pork, sauerkraut and potatoes to ring in the New Year.  According to my mother, the pig roots forward which is why it is a good thing to eat pork on the first day of the year.  May you all have a wonderful year to look forward to--full of health, peace, and creativity!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Stars over Bethlehem...

I was born and mostly raised in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, the "Christmas City."  In our region, stars are pretty important to us.  One is alight over the city:
Seriously, this is one of the most comforting sights from my childhood because I always knew we were almost home when I saw the star.  Although our family was Irish American, we enjoyed the local culture including things like the Moravian star.
The Kemerer Museum in Bethlehem has an exhibit of star quilts on display right now so if you are in the area, check it out!
Here are some close-ups of a few of my star quilts:

The one above, I can't seem to capture on film well.  It is an autumn purchase and I am in love with it and use it every night.  It is bright and cheerful and makes me smile when I first wake up.
Hope your holiday remains happy and bright!  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ghost of Christmas Quilts (Past)

 These are a few of the Christmas quilts I've made through the years.  There are others but I can't find the photos today.  It's fun to look back at them, even if I'm unable to rummage through the attic to pull them out.  Maybe I will for next Christmas.  I'm at that age where I have simplified decorating.  

Despite the broken foot, I'm managing the Christmas festivities again.  I've lucked out with an amazing daughter-in-law.  Jessica is making the holiday cookies for us.  I'm so grateful.   She is an amazing baker so I'm sure her treats will be delicious.  We never think we are going to give up certain traditions but I'm finding it fun and inspiring to see what the young 'uns do.
Hopefully in 2015, I'll be able to teach Jessica to sew.  She is so clever and I would love to see what kind of projects she makes!
 Wishing you all a wonderful and safe holiday! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Jolly Christmas

Wishes for a Jolly Christmas being sent your way!
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nana and Pop's Window

I have a walking boot!  I'm still in the "resting it a lot" phase.  So my brother made sure to give me a good project.  Fifteen years ago my brother replaced the windows in our grandparents home.  When he asked me to dispose two of them, I thought he was crazy.  My brother Jim and I were very close to our maternal grandparents.  Not only did they have kids our age but we spent a great deal of our childhood with them.   
Our grandfather was famous for recycling and upcycling long before those terms were part of our society.  So.....Pop would have loved what we did with one of the windows.  Jim built a stand for support and here is our window, upcycled style:

The piece can be set anywhere, but I like it on our wardrobe.  The wood finishes match well.  I can decorate Nana and Pop's window for every holiday with my antique postcards.   Fifteen years ago I thought my the windows were beautiful and held on to them (ala Pop style).  Jim admitted later that he was glad I had held on to them.  I am too!
Have a safe and happy day!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Healing projects: #1 completed!

I previously posted about my ankle, which has been declared broken after x-rays.  I miss my long walks with Seamus and he misses them too.  Fortunately, I have great neighbors who really took care of me while we waited for my husband to get home.  Thanks Denise, Ken, Katie and Mike!  They've been walking Seamus, feeding me, and even helped me get out of a car when I was stuck with a wet cast.  I'm supposed to be on crutches, but my left arm is too weak.  I'm back to hobbling on a cane and using one crutch.  On Friday I see the orthopedic doctor and am hoping for a boot instead of a cast.
My brother Jim lives down the street and he has been helpful too.  Mostly helping to take me out of my funk by working on a project we discussed and planned a while ago.  More on that later.  So what do you do when you are stuck with your foot elevated?
You sew of course!
I have a list of embroidery projects to do for an upcoming program.  Yesterday I completed the last of the "Colonial Quilt" blocks.  I purchased unfinished blocks because they had the original ad from the 1920s with them and finished the last 8 that the quiltmaker didn't complete.  Yes, nothing like completing other people's UFOs!
So I guess I WILL be sewing this December and much to my chagrin, I'm leaving a lot of work for my husband to do.  He's arranged to be home to help me the next few weeks until I'm back on my feet.  At least it is happening while there is snow on the ground.  Above is a photo from a dawn jaunt Seamus and I took in November.  Have a great day and be safe!