Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day

It's the day before...and this is the first year that I'm not baking pies. We're having turkey "take-out" and it comes with pie. This was my dad's idea, not mine.

I'm for having dinner here at my house, cooking the turkey at home, getting up at the crack of dawn to stuff and truss and toss the bird in the oven, setting the table with pretty linens and the good china and hoping that the gravy is lump free and my sister brings cranberry sauce.

My dad doesn't see it that way anymore. He's for keeping it simple, with easy clean up, and no left-overs so after all of us have left, he can put out the garbage and watch TV. He'd rather not drive too far anymore, and my house is a harrowing one-hour drive through a multi-lane tunnel and the busy interstate highway. Dinner at my house would have to be timed perfectly because after dinner, he and my mom would skedaddle--even if it meant missing dessert--so they'd have enough daylight for the ride home.

It's hard to see your parents growing old; harder still to imagine a thanksgiving someday without them. I'm thankful that I've shared so many Thanksgivings with them when I was living at home and later when I was a young wife cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. I'm thankful that their quality of life has been, for the most, part good. I'm thankful that they've been able to watch their granddaughters grow up and see their first great-grandchild. I'm thankful that they've been able to stay in the house my sister and I grew up in and I'm thankful that I can call them on the phone and they remember my name.

In the end, it doesn't matter what we eat, or where, its only important that we are all together sharing it, savoring the memories, and knowing what we are most thankful for.
So I'm giving in this year, hanging up my apron and letting my Mom and Dad do it their way--turkey take-out.

Friday, November 19, 2010


My outside projects are done, the leaves are raked up, reflective markers have been pounded into the ground so the snowplow guy won't tear the new driveway up, and I've even managed to plant a few daffodil bulbs around the lamp post. Hooray!

I'm really pleased with what's been accomplished since August. The old UG fuel tank is gone, the ugly pipes that stuck up out of it are gone, the broken brick steps are gone, the sink hole in the middle of the driveway is gone, the stone walls have been replaced and repaired, the ruts in the lawn have been filled and reseeded, a new asphalt driveway has been installed and I'm sighing with relief that the "to do" list is shorter.

What's next? Well, this week the town handyman extroardinaire, is replacing some windows that were a tad more energy efficient than a gaping hole and one dysfunctional sliding glass door along with a few broken and missing pieces of trim both inside and outside. After that he's going to replace the gutters which are now hanging onto the roof for dear life.

The John Deere guy will be here tomorrow changing over my lawn tractor, removing the mower deck and installing the snowblower and chains. It's been unusually warm for November and that's helped with getting everything finished, but winter is coming and now I think I'm ready.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Post - Have You Seen This Quilt?

This beautiful antique quilt was stolen from John Saul's booth at International Quilt Festival about two weeks ago.

Please keep an eye out for this quilt if you happen to be shopping for vintage quilts or antiques or if you attend any auctions. It could turn up anywhere in the US (hopefully undamaged). Please share this post with other bloggers and lets get the word out into the quilting community. If you are a quilt appraiser or are connected with a quilt museum, share this info with them and with your guild members.

If you do spot this quilt please do not confront the person in possession of it--be safe and let the authorities handle this matter-- just send an email to with the location where you saw it and any other information that could aid in its recovery and return.

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Prewash or Not - An Easy Way to Dye Your Underwear

Last weekend I bought 1 & 3/4 yards of a dark red cotton print for a quilt I'm going to start next month. I really love the fabric and it works great with the other colors I'm using.

The first thing I did when I got it home was to toss it into the washer with warm water and detergent, but then I forgot to turn the agitator on, so it soaked all night. I've never had issues with red fabrics before so the next day I was very surprised to see a tub full of red water! I'll give this fabric another chance (wash cycle)with a cup of vinegar but I'm not sure I'll use it in my project. I just don't trust it not to rub onto my other fabrics. I am glad that I took the time to find out that it bleeds before I sewed it into a full-size quilt. So a word to the wise quilter--prewash, unless you like to live dangerously.

Last summer, I asked a busy quilt shop owner if the fabrics in her block-of-the month kits were pre-washed. She hesitated a minute before responding to my question, as if trying to understand what language I was speaking. I guess it was a stupid question but I've asked the same question several times since and been told by both quilters and shop owners that the better quality cotton fabrics have very little shrinkage so they don't really need to be prewashed. There are also some quilters who just like the vintage look that puckering gives a quilt after a wash or two.

If there's any shrinkage or color bleeding that's going to happen, I'd like it to PLEASE happen BEFORE I start sewing. How embarrassing would it be to gift a quilt or tablerunner and have it bleed in the recipient's wash? Think lots of pink underwear for an entire family!

You'll probably think I've got a compulsive disorder but I even prewash my scraps, sometimes by hand if the pieces are very small. If I can't wash it, I'll steam it with my iron a couple of times using the cotton setting and lots of steam. Yes, It's an extra time-consuming step when I'd rather be stitching but I think it's worth my "piece" of mind [pun intended] :)

Sewing Projects Update

It may seem like I blog more about gardening than quilting which is probably true (after all I am the Fairy Gardener) but I have been working on some sewing and quilting projects too. I just haven't had the time to post pictures afterwards because of everything else that's been going on here.

For instance, I made a Glow Worm costume for Calvin's first Halloween. This was the first time I've worked with polar fleece and I can understand why it's so popular and why you see huge bolts of it when you walk into Jo-Ann's.

It's really and truly a dream to work with. The only trouble I had was pinning it. My straight pins were hard to get through the fabric. I even tried ball-point pins but they weren't any better so I'd suggest using pattern weights and you need really sharp scissors. I used my best Ginghers for cutting. That being said however, I did use a regular machine needle, size 80 and the normal sewing thread I use for patchwork and both worked perfectly. My machine had no trouble sewing through multiple layers of the fleece.

I adapted the Glow Worm costume from a Kwik Sew Pattern I got off of Ebay. I've used Kwik Sew patterns before and like them because they include a master pattern with multiple sizes and views. Instead of cutting the master pattern, you trace the pattern pieces you're using onto non-woven tracing material and use them to cut your fabric. This may sound like extra work but trust me, once you use this method, you'll never want to wrestle with those commercial tissue paper patterns again.

Aren't the Glow Worm's antennae cute? They're made from two strips of fleece that I sewed into tubes and turned right side out. This is another area where fleece is great, it has a little bit of stretch, that helps in turning small pieces but doesn't lose its shape. I tied one end of the tube and stuffed the open end with a wired chenille craft stem called "Noodleroni" the wire allows them to bend.You can't see it in this photo but I found an image online of the same Playskool label that's on the real toy, enlarged it and printed it onto a June Taylor design fabric sheet then sewed it into the side seam of the costume just like the real toy's.

You can see in the picture that the costume was a little big for Calvin. That was my fault, not the pattern's, for adding an extra six inches to the length. When I compared Calvin's measurements to the pattern, I forgot to add the hood length and miscalculated. Because I didn't want the hood to be too tight on the baby's head, I also cut the elastic longer than the measurement given, so it was a little loose too. It certainly would have fit better if I'd been able to fit it to the little wearer in person instead of by phone, but no matter, the costume still got great reviews from everyone who saw it and Calvin was warm and comfortable while wearing it.

This summer I finished Calvin's baby quilt and also made matching crib bumpers and a pillow sham for his crib layette. Just in time for his baby-naming too. The quilt is a variation of the "Patience Corner" block. I found a beautiful Winnie-the-P00h toile that I used for the backing and bumpers and added checks and plaids in the same colors for the blocks.

Working with plaids and checks for this quilt turned out to be more of a pain than I anticipated. I wasted a lot of fabric because I had to make a new straightening cut after cutting each strip for the blocks to make sure the fabric was not going off kilter. If I hadn't done this the checks & plaids wouldn't have run in a straight line when the blocks were sewn. I suppose it wouldn't have made much difference if I were using triangles or smaller shapes.

I'm still working on my Martinique BOM quilt. This is month 7 and I'm ashamed to say I only have 4 blocks done out of the fourteen I should have finished. I have other projects in the works too but I'm going to have to start wreath making soon and prepping for Thanksgiving and the Garden Club's Xmas party. Here it is only November and I'm already looking forward to January, to a fire in the fireplace and holding up in my den with a steaming hot cup of tea and a project to work on. How about you? :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." John Fitzgerald Kennedy

When I was searching for a way to commemorate Veteran's Day on my blog, I came across this quote by John F. Kennedy. I had been thinking that I wanted to write something about bravery in combat and heroism but instead I started thinking about gratitude. Veteran's day, after all, is about honoring those who've served our country. Being grateful for their sacrifices seems a fitting way to honor our veterans.

What am I grateful for? I am grateful for the freedom to worship and practice whatever faith that I choose. I am grateful that I sleep peacefully at night without fear of being taken from my home forcefully and without explanation. I am grateful that no foreign armies camp within our borders. I am grateful that I can express my opinion in public and on my blog without fear of reprisal. I am grateful that I can go out in public without having to cover my head and face. I am grateful that women and young girls have equal rights and protection under the law and are not oppressed and exploited as they are in other parts of the world.

To all the veterans who's service to our country has secured and protected these reasons I have to be grateful, I say, "Thank you".


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Layout

Well, I'm a little bored today as I watch the paving crew remove the old driveway and make it level for the new hot top that will be poured tomorrow. I certainly will not miss the sinkhole in the middle. I'm also blocked in and can't escape so what's a girl to do but tweak her blog.

I'm still learning my way around the blogger world and I'm visiting other blog sites to comparison shop (sort of). So far the one element that all of my favorite blogs have in common is two columns, one on either side of the blog entry so I thought I'd try that.

In the process I've lost my background photo but I'm kind of liking the serenity of the plain wallpaper, so maybe that will stay. I also like that the name of my blog is now all on one line. In any case I'm sure as I post more, I'll make more changes. After all it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind, right? :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cure for the Halloween Hangover

It's been a week now since Halloween ended. I've already taken down my decorations and put them away till next year. All of the Halloween candy has been handed out, eaten or given away. My candy "hangover" is almost gone and I'm contemplating the next season of "excess".

The fancy holiday gardening & gift catalogues have already started arriving in my mail. You know the ones I'm talking about, I'm sure. They're full of wonderful images and offer "fresh from Maine" balsam wreaths, table top trees, ivy topiaries, giant amaryllis baskets and Paperwhite narcissi in gorgeous ceramic containers at pretty fancy prices.

I like to look through these catalogues and collect ideas that I can duplicate and use for my own Christmas decorations. This year I'm copying a page from one popular catalogue and planting my paper whites (narcissus papyraceus tazetta) in a tall glass hurricane vase instead of my usual shallow bowl. They should bloom in four to six weeks which nicely coincides with Christmas. When they bloom, I'll cut some winterberry branches (ilex verticillarta) and arrange them in with the clusters of paper white blossoms just like the photograph in the fancy catalogue but at a fraction of the $99.00 price.

Forcing a few paperwhite bulbs every year is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I love the way they look on a windowsill, especially if there's snow on the ground outside. If you haven't grown them before you should give them a try, at least once. Each bulb produces multiple stems with clusters of small snowflake-like flowers that are heavily perfumed and quite intoxicating, though some people find their scent overpowering. The flowers of just a couple of bulbs can scent an entire house!

You can buy paper white bulbs from lots of sources online but you'll get the best price and save shipping if you patronize your local garden center. I paid $1.25 each for five large bulbs at my favorite garden center. Planting them successively every four weeks will make winter seem a lot shorter.

To grow paper whites all you need is a shallow container that can hold water and some pebbles. You don't want a traditional flower pot with a drainage hole because you'll be planting your bulbs in about 2 inches of pebbles and adding water. I planted four good-sized bulbs in a ten-inch tall hurricane vase that I bought for $7.00 at the big box store, but most any container will do, as long as it can hold about 2 inches of water without leaking. Glazed ceramics generally work best. F.Y.I. don't use your best crystal. Minerals from the stones and in the water can permanently damage it. I know. I've done it.

Place the bulbs pointed sides up in your container filled with about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of smooth pebbles and then add water up to the bottom (base) of the bulb (it should just touch the old root hairs). Add additional pebbles to anchor the bulbs till they root and place the pot where they will receive a lot of light (avoid direct sunlight if possible). Turning the pot a quarter turn every couple of days will insure that you have even growth, though one or more bulbs may grow faster. That's OK, don't worry about it.

If you planted them in a clear container you'll see roots growing into the pebbles, followed by a show of green growth emerging from the top of the bulb in a just few days. Continue to check the water level daily and add more as needed. It should come up just to the bottom of the bulbs.
Because paper white bulbs are grown in water they can't be reused from year to year. Water doesn't provide the nutrients that a bulb needs to rebuild its energy stores and rebloom so it's best just to discard them when they fade and buy new bulbs each year. Plant them now and in a few weeks you'll wake up to a house filled with heavenly scent--perfect for this blessed time of year!