Monday, January 23, 2012


I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with quilting or gardening, but I made kale and bean soup yesterday from a recipe posted by Jess over at the Sweet Amandine blog.  If you like food,  and photographs of food and want to read some wonderful posts, you should pay her a visit.

Don’t tell her but I tweaked her recipe a bit because I didn’t have chickpeas or veggie stock but I did have Italian sausage and chicken stock.

Knowing I have a  big pot of soup waiting for me when I come home Monday night is almost as good as having someone there to serve it and pour me a glass of wine.  OK, that’s not really true but I’ll keep pretending till I can hook up with Curtis Stone, the “Take Home Chef”.

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Till later…

P.S.  Happy Birthday, Carolyn! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow Day Crochet

Yesterday was a snow day here and now I get to look out my windows at a lovely blanket of sparkly snow covering the ground! 

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HHere’s a picture of the two stained glass snowflakes that I hang in my kitchen window every December and they stay up till I’m sick of snow, lol :)  They were made by my dear friend, Dee.  You can’t see it well but the clear one is made from iridescent glass that sparkles like the sun on the snow.   Winter morning 2012 003

After spending much of my Friday vacay day moving the Christmas decorations from the guest bedroom to the attic, I just didn’t feel like dragging my sewing machine out  so, instead, I dug out the granny squares I started in 2009, and no that’s not a typo.

On most snow days, I like curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a book or movie but yesterday I pulled out my knitting bag and crochet hook.  

These squares were supposed to go into an afghan for my sister’s birthday, but when I was half-way done and started to join them, I realized they weren’t all the same size.  I guess I was paying more attention to the television than crocheting because I had used two different sized hooks.  I lost my enthusiasm and this project stalled when I realized I was going to have to rework all the squares I’d made.  It’s been sitting since last winter, probably since the last snowstorm. 

I’d like to get this finished for my sister’s 2012 birthday but I have a lot more squares to go.  In case you’re wondering, I used “Vanna’s Choice” acrylic yarn from Lion Brand.  afghan pictures 009I have 65 squares completed but they’re only 5 inches so I have quite a few left to make a nap-sized afghan.



afghan pictures 005It’s a traditional granny square based on a vintage  wool afghan my sister and I spotted in a resale shop but neither of us liked the bright primary colors and black borders of the original so I chose softer colors of moss, rose, turquoise and violet.  I love wool yarn but acrylic is a much better choice for an afghan that will be used for snuggling on the sofa while watching television and snacking. 

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Garden Chores This Week – 1/22/12

  • Keep those bird feeders full.  Check the suet feeders too. Tree-mounted suet feeders will attract nuthatches and woodpeckers as well as those tiny brown tree creepers and if you want to attract wild turkeys and keep squirrels away from your feeder, scatter some cracked corn a fair distance from your feeder but where you can still see the wildlife (you can buy cracked corn from feed stores or where bird feeders are sold)
  • Gather some seed catalogues or visit gardening websites and start making your list for next summer.  Try growing one “new-to-you” variety of vegetable or flower this year. 
  • For a winter tonic, grab a shallow container fill it with damp peat moss and sow some water cress seeds, place in the window or how about growing some sprouts! 
  • What did you do with your Christmas tree?  Did you know you can cut off the branches and use them as mulch around roses and perennials?  They help keep the ground frozen and protect tender perennial roots during short February thaws.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Season Two

Yesterday, I got my first garden catalogue of 2012.  The dust hasn’t really settled from new year’s yet,  but I get excited when the first couple of garden catalogues arrive. jan_2012_mis 028 I know these companies all have websites but I prefer  sitting down with a cup of tea on a wintery afternoon and looking at the pictures, reading the descriptions and getting inspired.


I’ve been taking it easy this weekend, just doing what I absolutely have to but feeling a lot better.  Today, I’m catching up on  laundry and doing a little light sewing on the UFO’s that didn’t get finished in time for Thanksgiving & Christmas 2011! Can we just pretend I’m getting a big head start on Holidays 2012, lol?

I had to make more pinwheels for the stocking I was making Calvin.  Each pinwheel is about 5” finished.  I thought 15” x 15” would be enough for the front of the stocking but I need one more row to fit my pattern.  I’m still undecided whether to quilt it or not.  Only the front of the stocking will be made from the pinwheels.  The reverse will be the brown fabric and the lining will be the multi-colored dots.jan_2012_mis 027

What are your Sunday afternoon plans?  I’m going to make some soup this afternoon and have an early dinner so I can watch the first Season II episode of “Downton Abbey” which airs tonight on most Public Television Stations at 9PM EST.  

I love English period dramas and “Downton Abbey” fills the bill.  It’s the story of an early 20th century aristocratic family, The Crawleys,  and the maids, butlers and footmen who serve them in their Edwardian Country Manor.   Let me just say that the costumes,  characters and plot in this series are everything an Anglophile could ask for.

If you didn’t watch Season 1 you can catch up and watch them online or read the synopsis HERE

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Little Spot of Blue Can Make You Feel A Lot Better!

I wanted to share this picture, taken by my sister, from her kitchen window in southeastern Massachusetts yesterday morning.   She lives about 50 miles from me but at a lower elevation (I’m about 800 ft. above sea level).  

Up until this year, I didn’t know that the Eastern Bluebird was a year-round resident in New England.

If you’re wondering what’s in the feeder, it’s freeze-dried mealy worms.  In summer, my sister and brother-in-law treat them to live mealy worms.

Seeing a large group of these birds is a thrill for bird watchers who grew up in the 1960’s when Rachel Carson’s book, “The Silent Spring” was published.  She sounded the alarm about DDT use (an agricultural pesticide) which was responsible for the near extinction of many bird species including the Eastern Bluebird.  

I didn’t see an Eastern Bluebird till I was 34.  I’m glad they’re getting to be a common sight again.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Under the weather

under the weatherTruth be told, this little guy probably looks better than I do right now.  Somewhere between Christmas and New Years I picked up a nasty little alien that has taken over my body and refused to let me have a good night’s sleep. 

I usually try to “tough these things out” with over-the-counter meds but they haven’t worked on this bug and my co-workers have been giving me sideways looks and avoiding me, communicating via email and voice mail and approaching me when they had no other choice in order to hand me something. Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same, if they had this bug instead of me.

Every time I entered the kitchen area, hasty excuses were made about needing to get back to work and my normally chatty co-workers scattered like scared rabbits so I decided maybe I better stop playing doctor and go see one.

I finally got there this afternoon.  My doctor is usually fifteen to twenty minutes behind schedule  but after a robust coughing fit in the lobby when I checked in at the receptionist’s desk, I was quickly wisked into the examining room. 

I was a little worried that I’d be sent for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia but my lungs are clear and it turns out this is really just a garden variety virus with a few quirky symptoms. The worst being the severe coughing spells.  My doctor said it can also cause diarrhea—and can take as long as three or four weeks to get better---doesn’t that sound like fun?

The treatment she prescribed was what you might expect for a regular cold---rest, fluids cough lozeners, mucinex and an Rx for an inhaler to help the wheezing and bronchial spasms.

Tomorrow afternoon is our company’s Christmas party which has been postponed several times already.  I planned it so I know it’s going to be fun and the food will be great—I just won’t be there and really I don’t mind---going home early tomorrow and taking a long nap on the sofa sounds like a pretty good time to me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Putting Xmas Away

I’m a little behind…I’m just taking the Christmas “stuff” down  and I realized that I’ve never shared pictures of my “quilty” Xmas decorations so I thought it would be fun to show you a few things that I look forward to displaying.  These go back a few years and might remind you of some of your own early projects.

Remember this quilt designer?  This is a Debbie Mumm pattern that I finished in 1991.  I was a big fan of Debbie Mumm back then and made a few of her designs.  I still love her early “penstitch” applique patterns.


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This next quilt was a gift from my pen pal, Denise in 1998.  Denise lives in England and is an avid seamstress and quilter.  We met through an ad in the back of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine in 1987 and corresponded via snail mail for over a decade (email wasn’t around then). 

Denise came for a visit in 1989 and we went to Lancaster, PA for the Quilters Heritage Celebration.   Sadly we’ve since lost touch but she was a generous friend and I have a few lovely gifts from her.  I usually hang this quilt on my porch entryway where it welcomes visitors and gives some holiday color to the porch.  I love the batik fabrics Denise used in this quilt. 

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Remember these “folded stars” in embroidery hoops?    Can’t remember exactly what year I made this, but I do remember making several including one for my sister in those ‘80’s dusty blues and dusty roses.

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I still  love the red and green fabrics in this folded star.  They’re all from VIP and Concord.  The quality of the fabric was really good back then cost a whopping $2.99/ yd!  Wish we had those prices again. 

Lastly,  I have this little angel made back in the early ‘90’s from a “Finder’s Keeper’s” pattern.  I think I made three or 4 of these little angels for quilting friends out of tea-dyed muslin.  Back then, folk art dolls were really popular and you could find lots of doll-making supplies like the curly synthetic hair in craft stores.  

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Well that’s it for my nostalgic trip down Candy Cane Lane.   Hope it brings back memories of some of your early Christmas sewing projects and I hope you still display them.   Mine bring back memories of people and times past and isn’t that what Christmas is about.

Sew glad that this is a short work week!   We’re in the deep-freeze too—Woke up this morning and the thermometer said 9 degrees!

Catch you later…


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Second Chance

One of my coworkers was a bit down this week after the Christmas holiday and when I asked her about it, she said the new year always filled her with regret  because it meant looking back and being reminded of  another year of missed opportunities.

I think it’s sad that anyone should feel that way about what I think of as a “second chance”.  January 1st is my opportunity to make a whole new set of resolutions and to set different goals based on last year’s successes and failures.

When I went to grade school, the last day before Christmas break was the day we had our holiday party.  It was also the day that we cleaned out our desks of broken crayons, and papers and  brought home all of our books to make new covers from the heavy brown  bags that grocery stores  used back then. 

At the end of the school day, our teacher would change our seat assignments, splitting up the chatty girls and mischievous boys from the previous term.  We would then have an opportunity to try out the new seat (while she finalized her seating chart) and see who the new neighbors were.  She passed around damp rags and paper towels for us to wipe off our new desk.  It was always kind of thrilling if you got moved to the front of the class with a good vantage point of the blackboard and hallway, unless it meant moving rows away from your best recess friend.

Like all the other kids, I was excited and impatient for Santa to come on Christmas morning.  I usually got everything on my list plus extras from eleven aunts and uncles and two wonderful godparents.  There were a few practical gifts under the tree too--new snow boots from Mom, and a hand-knit hat and mitten set or a pair of slipper socks from my Great Aunt Kate and Nana.

Over the holidays my mother would launder my army-green book bag and blue catholic school uniform and I would carefully and neatly recover all of my school books with the brown grocery bags my grandmother saved and then  helped me cut and fold.  By the time New Year’s Eve came, I was eager to see school friends again and sit in my new seat and open a freshly covered textbook.  Every year, I resolved that I would pay better attention, raise my hand more and get better grades.

I still feel the same way about new year’s today.  Just like the blackboards which were always washed down by the janitors over the holidays and restocked with new chalk, TODAY life is a fresh tablet ready for whatever new assignment we give it. 

Happy New Year! 

Gail :)