Thursday, October 29, 2009


As part of my own personal appliance health plan, I had to pull the plug on my washing machine. It gave up the ghost last week and the examination by the AT (appliance technician) was not promising. Given the fact that it is the youngest appliance I own, I was actually surprised that it could not be resuscitated for a more reasonable investment. It's only 7 years old, which in this house is just an appliance infant. It stands next to my lovely antique Kenmore gas dryer purchased in 1982 and going strong ever since. Bob has had to tinker with a few things to keep it in shape, but I really don't mind that the handle for the lint trap is fastened on with a chunk of wire, it still catches the lint! I had actually expected the dishwasher to be the next to go, both it and the refrigerator were purchased when we built this house in 1988. The dishwasher is in sad shape, badly needs a new bottom rack, but keeps on ticking. I know I might be able to replace the rack, but it's one of those items that never moves up very high on the Must Do list. Plus you know as soon as I replace it, the whole thing will die! After shopping in the appliance department at a couple local megastores, I realized just how humble my little refrigerator is--no fancy faucet with computerized keyboard in the door, no high tech food storage containers inside, not even an ice maker! Must be my inner Amish, but when I am looking at appliances I try to keep it simple! (Actually, the fridge is an Amana so I do see the connection there! Who knew appliances had religion!) For example, when choosing a new washer, I know that basically I use only 2 cycles (regular or gentle) and 2 temperature settings (cold/cold or hot/cold for felting), so why can't I find a frontloader that doesn't have 15 choices? Anyway, I await the delivery of my new washer and removal of the washer carcass that is easy to say goodbye to because I don't have 20+ years of attachment!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things done

I was very productive the last 2 days and have moved a couple things off the ToDo list.
Some little invisible machine applique wall hangings, samples for the store, patterns from When Quilts Fly. I used the applique fiber that this particular designer has developed for her patterns. This is being offered as a class at the store on Tuesday 10/27.
A new sample of my own pattern, Solitaire Bear, using batiks and rather detailed quilting, at least in my world! I kind of enjoyed the challenge of trying to do some very small-scale quilting on this but can't imagine doing it on anything very much bigger! This little tabletopper is my limit for tolerance of tiny stitches!
A new little baby-sized quilt using Texture Magic in alternating blocks. This is a very fun product that shrinks when steamed, and causes the quilting fabric to bubble up and become textured. I made up a new quilting design (new to me) for the non-textured blocks and a similar shape in the border, I like it so much when I get to experiment with something like this and it even turns out well! This might become the newest Emmaline Design pattern!
Lest you think that all I ever do around here is sewing/quilting, let me share with you a good recipe that isn't new at all, but not something that I had stirred up for a long time. Now that I made a batch I am hopelessly hooked on them again.

Monster Cookies
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
pinch of salt
5 cups oatmeal (quick cooking type, or old-fashioned oats that have been chopped in the food processor)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups creamy peanut butter
your choice of 2 - 3 cups of added ingredients, things like chocolate chips, M&M's, chopped nuts, butterscotch chips, toffee bits, coconut, etc.
Cream butter and sugars in a large bowl, use a mixer if you have one. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add the flour, salt, soda and oats gradually. Fold in the goodies and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Make large clumps (1-2 tablespoons) on parchment paper covered cookie sheets, bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Leave them on the cookie sheet about 10 minutes before even trying to move them to the cooling rack. You can make the cookies bigger, but adjust the baking time so they are just barely browned. This makes a large batch.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

pretty things

This is a quilt top that I put together while I was at Nancy's last weekend. The fabric is the new Amy Butler Love group and the pattern is Archipelago by Blue Underground. Went together very well, and makes a nice cheery quilt. It is on display at Bear Patch and kits are in the works, in case you can't resist!
Hot Tip
Every now and then I find out something new that I am surprised that I didn't know about before. This is one of those things. And it seems like it's too good to be true because it's so simple! I learned about it from other longarm quilters. When I first started learning about longarm quilting, I took great care to iron all the quilt backs and tops carefully to get all the wrinkles from folds out. I even constructed a "big board" for my ironing board next to the quilt frame. Well, that big board has grown dusty lately because I learned the magic of a spray bottle of water! Low and behold, no more toiling over a hot iron! Now I lay out the fabric flat on my work table/cutting table/former pool table or drape it over the rails of the quilt frame for bigger chunks. Just so it can lay or hang flat. Then spray all over, especially any creases or fold marks, and let it dry. When you come back it is like magic! This even works to get that stubborn crease out of the fabric where it is folded on the bolt. Who knew it could be so simple? I know, you are feeling doubtful about this right now, and you are thinking I must not know what wrinkles really are because this is just too good to be true, there must be a catch. That's what I have been thinking about the Vikings lately and last Sunday they almost proved the point. But I digress. If you don't believe me, just try it, even if you do believe me, give it a try. It just might save you some ironing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

other things

Stuff I have been working on:
the clapotis scarf made from Happy Feet yarn. A very different approach to making a scarf, it is knit diagonally with intentional dropped stitches causing a repeating open ladder across the scarf. I have to admit that it was really fun to pull the stitches and watch the ladder open up, I had to force myself to put down the knitting because I just wanted to get to the next repeat! I found the pattern through Ravelry, which is a wonderful source of knitting information and inspiration. Wish someone would come up with the same thing for quilting!
quilted this up for Laurel, it is called Tea Time and kits and patterns will soon be available at Bear Patch

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Progress report

Thought I should show you a little of what we are doing this long weekend. Leisl picked me up Thursday morning and we drove the ~2 hours to Nancy's house near Long Prairie. Moved all our sewing equipment into her luxuriously large sewing room and kicked into gear. I did go out for some groceries on Friday but otherwise we have been perfectly content to sew, cook, talk, watch movies, etc., without interruption. Here's a sampling:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Very Important News!

We have been working on our fundraiser at Bear Patch Quilting Co., and have a great chance for you to donate to Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer reserach and take home a wonderful handcrafted item. Even if you are far, far away, we want to include you in the fun! So if you look at the front page of the store's website, you can click through to a display of each item. Then you can call or email the store to find out what the current bid is and add your own bid. We have 17 items from little things (like a dishtowel and dishcloth) to big things (like quilts) so there is sure to be something to interest you. Please take a look and help us make this a super fundraiser! Thanks!

wonders of nature

We are treated to some great images with our changing seasons. On Saturday I took some pictures of the pretty fall colors, which never seem to look as good in the pictures as they do in real life with real sunshine highlighting the leaves.
Then yesterday I watched the snowflakes coming down and piling up on our patio furniture which hasn't yet been put away for the winter. Most of that snow has disappeared by today, but there is still some white stuff out there. This is only October 14 and already I've had 3 snows--one out in CA and 2 here in the week that I've been back home. Very odd weather, but at least so far there has been no shoveling!

Monday, October 12, 2009

family heirloom

One of the fun parts of preparing for Brita and Ben's wedding was knowing about the quilt that my mom was making for them. It started last winter, I think, or thereabouts. The Tessallating Leaves pattern (I don't know the designer) was a good pick because the kids have an affinity for the outdoors and nature. The fabrics came from Bear Patch, the border fabric was from a Moda line and then I picked out numerous coordinating prints. It was a major chunk of sewing time for Mom and required careful planning to get the layout correct. Then she loaded it up on a frame in the living room and handquilted the whole thing. It turned out beautifully! It was fun to keep the secret, even when Mom made a set of coordinating pillowcases and gave them to Brita at her shower in August.
This picture was taken after the rehearsal dinner with my mom and dad, Ben and Brita. It was very special to also use the quilt as part of some wedding photos. The golden fabrics in the quilt blended perfectly with the tall grasses. Future generations will be able to know the history of this one!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


If you are looking for some good ideas for free motion quilting designs, take a look at this good website. A new design every day! One thing I really like about this is that there are not just pictures of the finished design, but a video showing the actual process. And the designer narrates with such a calm, cool voice that it makes everything seem totally achievable.
This came to my attention from my sister, Jan, who also loves needle and thread. She has some good info and even tutorials on her blog, so give her a visit!
You will find a bit of overlap in some of the things we have posted, most noticeable recently because her son and my daughter each had a wedding within a month of each other. Jan lives way out in San Francisco, so for a long time that has been one of my favorite places to visit. And she has been a great surrogate mom for both my kids who for a variety of reasons have migrated to CA, and that helps ease my mind a bit when I think about my kids (young adults, I know) living so far from me. This picture was taken at my daughter's wedding reception one week ago yesterday, and is appropriate because if she's not holding a needle, she's likely holding a wine glass! So here's to you, Jan!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Truly Vintage

So about 59 years ago, a lovely young couple were wed in a little church in a little town in Iowa. Fast forward to 10/3/09, and the same cake topper graces the wedding cake of their grand-daughter. What a good feeling when the circle keeps going on and on and on...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Way to go Twins!

Not usually a big fan of TV sports, but couldn't ignore the Twins fever here tonight. The Twins kind of have a history of being the underdog, and tonight toughed it out to beat Detroit for the Division Championship. Bring on the Yankees!
Wanted to share this taste of winter with you, this was last Sunday morning in Squaw Valley, a coating of snow over the area and on the mountains. It wasn't very deep, but I did see some pictures from Mammoth Mountain that day with a good 6" or more of fresh snow, making the skiers go nuts, I'm sure!

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's official!

Finally we are home again, worn out and happy. I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see my daughter as a beautiful bride on Saturday. What a joy to see her and Ben both glowing with happiness, surrounded by so many friends and family members. I know it was very emotional for all of us and we are still coming down from the thrill. They are truly much loved and celebrated. All of their planning paid off and with the assistance of Audrey and Liz at Plumpjack Squaw Valley, it was an unforgettable experience. In the photo above, you can see a corner of the quilt that my mother made them, draped over the wooden fence in a meadow, it was a perfect backdrop for those outdoor photos. It turned very windy that day, so some of the photos were hampered by that, but I can't wait to see the professional pictures because those 2 photographers worked very hard that day!
Just a quick glimpse of the wonderful flowers, outstanding tablerunners and amazing son!
Now back to reality and what to make for supper! Missing my kids after these wonderful days together.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Changing seasons

Lots of fun things going on out here in these days before Brita and Ben's wedding. Lots of friends and family arriving, it is so wonderful to see everyone here. We had a beautiful sunny day today so took the chance to go for a hike. It was steeper than we had expected, and our flat-lander lungs took a little extra work, but we had a good trip uphill for about an hour. We had hoped to make it to the top of the ridge in the background and look over the top to the 5 lakes on the other side, but we were a little limited on time (had to get Dan back to meet up with the guys to go play disc golf). The descent back to the car went much quicker!
The view across this meadow towards Squaw Valley is like a picture postcard. There is a golf course running across part of this valley with the ski resort down towards the end.
One interesting aspect of being here right now is that this is very much the "off-season" for the area--after the summer vacationers and before the snow flies and skiers arrive. It's kind of fun to pause and imagine what it all looks like under a thick blanket of snow. There are very few people around, many shops and restaurants are closed or operating on shortened hours. And lots of maintenance and improvements visible wherever we go. Feels like all the locals are either hurrying to get the necessary things done before the rush arrives, or taking advantage of the lull to get a little R&R for themselves. I hope they are ready for a good winter!