Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Year in Review

The year 2016 is winding down and some have purchased party dresses and are ready to ring in the new year.  Being traditionalist, AppleJack and I will ring in 2017 the same way we rang in 2016--snuggled under our warm down conformer cutting zzzzz's.  We are party animals!  I usually watch at least one of those network TV shows which gives  the year in review, you know the ones.  The network gives a rundown of top news stories and of influential people who have passed.  As I watch these shows, my mind tends to wander (especially when they talk about all the negative things) and I find myself taking my own inventory of what I have accomplished and what I would like to accomplish in 2017.  As I put my list together it is always a little scary and sometimes disappointing because I want the list of accomplishments to be a loooooong list of finishes.  Here goes:

Hooking:  American Eagle Chair Mat
Not a stellar year for hooking, I did use my stash wool and am pleased I was able to make something I had seen on a blog come to life.  This will make a nice addition to my patriotic collection.

First the larger quilts:  Just One Star was quilted and the binding sewn on by my 89 year old Mother.  Susan, the long armed quilter did a fabulous job with the quilting.  In addition to being a prize winning quilter, Susan is just a super nice lady.  My Mother enjoys hand sewing the binding, she says it gives her something to do in the evenings and the quilts are more cherished  knowing her hands are a part of the quilts story.  Each time I see this quilt it makes me smile.

North and South (could not locate my photo)  The piecing is finishing and I have an appt with Susan in early 2017 for the quilting.  Due to my own ambition, the making of this quilt became a major project.    Setting this quilt took hours.  Hopefully, after Susan works her magic with the quilting, this quilt and I will be friends.

Jo Morton's:  Am giving myself a huge pat on the back for the making of three Jo Morton quilts, yes three:  Be My Valentine, Sadie's Quilt and Christmas log cabin (could not locate the photo of Be My Valentine).  Jo Morton's are teaching me patience and accuracy and to appreciate my Itty Bitty Rulers.

Primitive Gathering Frivol: Crown of Thorns  Lisa, Primitive Gatherings is a huge proponent of starching her fabric pieces.  Perhaps in 2017 I will try her method to see if it improves the accuracy of my quilting.

Wool Applique:  I treated myself to a wool appliqué class with Rebekah Smith in Mooresville, Alabama.  Rebekah was wonderful, the class was awesome her designs are just to my liking.  I have been watching YouTube and improving my blanket stitch.  (I have learned to make a three stack wool penny with backing).  There are many wool appliqué projects and wool in my stash and I see many wool projects in my future for 2017.  Oh, Rebekah will be releasing her second book in June.  Preordered thru Amazon, check.

Stitching:  Yes, after starting this sampler in 2012, I finally finished, framed and enjoyed for Christmas 2016.  It's Stacy Nash's Christmas at Hollyberry Farm.  I also finished three Stacy Nash club kits offered through Country Sampler;  December 25th pinkeep,The Gift is Small and Love is All and Sampler Sewing Bag.

A strawberry from Erica Michaels.  Quaker Berry is stitched and is off a the finishers.  I also see more Erica Michaels strawberries in my future.

Ahh Annie Magnolia (my photo file is not playing nice and I could locate a photo of Annie) aka Anne Pennsylvania Peacock.  Annie has been in my stash for more years than I am willing to admit.  Am so glad, Annie was stitched, framed, traveled and is living in Arkansas.  The best part AppleJack, his daughter, and grand daughter sat around a bond fire and talked about his life with his Grandmother, the real Annie Magnolia.  

I always want the list to be longer and finishes great.  Oh well, there is always next year, after all the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  Hope springs eternal!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Country Sampler-Stacy Nash Club Schoolgirl Sampler Spring Sewing Bag

Country Sampler-Stacy Nash Club
Schoolgirl Sampler Spring Sewing Bag
Linen --Weeks Stash
NPI silks

A finish is always exciting.  Let's not talk about the number of club kits I am behind, instead let's talk about the one just finished.  I changed the linen 32 count Raw Belfast Linen to a Weeks linen in my stash.   I also changed one of the colors, it went better with my finishing fabric.

Since this is a sewing bag I am including some felt for needles.  I saved a fabric wrap by Moda--it looks like a measuring tape and will be including across the pocket.

It's off to the finisher and fingers crossed this will be a project to share with the stitch girls when we reunite in March.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pecan Pie Bars

Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • Heat over to 350 degrees F
  • Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, softened butter and sugar in a bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  • Add the 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • Press crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch ungreased baking dish
  • Bake 18-22 minutes or until the edges are very light golden brown
  • Combine filling ingredients
  • Evenly distribute the 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans over the hot partially baked crust
  • Pour the filling ingredients over the top of the pecans
  • Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set and knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.
  • Cool completely (refrigerate overnight)
  • Cut into bars
I find putting the pecans on top of the crust and pouring the filling over the top of the nuts helps the nuts to evenly rise to the top.  Cooling the bars completely is a must.  Since the bars need to be completely cooled before cutting they can be made ahead which is another plus for a delicious carry out dessert.  One of the stitch girls made these pecan bars for the last gathering, they were delicious!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is a most wonderful time of the year and very busy time of the year:  baking, shopping, wrapping gifts, mailing Christmas cards.  One of my favorite trees, my all handmade ornament tree.

 Another view of the hand made ornament tree.  AppleJack asks me how many hours he thinks I have spent stitching these ornaments, I have no idea.  Each time I see this tree it makes me wish I had spent more hours.

The snowman ornament took on special meaning today:  It was 73 degrees yesterday and I was raking leaves and sweating.  We awoke this morning to a chilling 23 degrees and snow!  Don't think a white Christmas is forecast but certainly a cold Christmas.   Brrrrr sure glad we have those mugs for hot cocoa

Merry Christmas!  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Feather Trees and Baskets

Feather trees were first created in Germany in the 1880's or 1890's and are considered one of the first types of artificial Christmas trees.  Goose, turkey and swan feathers were a plentiful commodity on the farms and easily transformed into Christmas trees.  Feathers were dyed green and wired to wooden sticks and then drilled into a dowel into the shape of a typical white pine German tree.  Artificial berries were attached onto the ends of some branches and wire candle holders adorned others.  The branches were placed some distance apart so ornaments were easily hung and admired and lit candles would not burn other branches.  The American market was first introduced to feather trees by German immigrants in Pennsylvania and Texas.

AppleJack and I have used this feather tree for many Christmas seasons.  Don't look to closely--some of the red berries at the tips of the branches are missing, our cats, Miss Katie and the General, ate the berries.  The tree is decorated with miniature white oak baskets, some barely measure one inch.  We have been collecting the baskets for several years.  The baskets are a reminder of our Appalachian heritage.  This year we were fortunate enough to find more miniatures at the spring wool festival in Dickson.  The sampler behind the feather tree is Stacy Nash's Christmas at Hollyberry Farm.  Gulp, the design was released in 2012, it took me a few years, but I finally have a Christmas sampler to enjoy.  Kinda makes me want to stitch another Christmas sampler, maybe after I finish stitching And Heaven and Nature Sing.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Memories by Liberty Hill 2008

December 2008

This Christmas memories box is meant to be a replica of a present that a child, living in about the late 1800's might have received for Christmas.  A handmade box filled with special little presents such as sewing smalls which included a needle book in its own wool pocket, a ring to keep her threads on, a Christmas tree thread winder and a little house to hang on her scissors or to wear as a necklace on a ribbon.  In the decorated box, there might have also been a special ornament for their tree and some candy canes.  As you use this little box, may it bring Christmas memories of your own.

Liberty Hill

One of my favorite Christmas enjoyments!  This Liberty Hill Christmas box is placed under the Christmas tree with the stitched or handmade ornaments and enjoyed from one Christmas season until the next.  Thanks for the memories Liberty Hill.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Nutcracker Parade

It's time for the nutcracker parade!  The mantel is one of the first things I decorate for Christmas.  Listening to the music of The Nutcracker is relaxing--love the Dance of the Sugar Plum Faeries.

Yum Yum I'll take another cup of that boiled custard/eggnog.

The nutcrackers are standing in their own Black Forest of trees, collected over the years, carefully stored from one Christmas season to the next and delicately placed on the mantel.  AppleJack has a different description.

Hard to resist those toothy smiles and big blue eyes

This year I added a cranberry swag.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Mugs and Hot Chocolate

Finally a break in the weather!  Fall missed us this year, we had Summer I followed by Summer II.  There were many days in October when the temps were in the 80's.  Fall I missed you!  This morning when I took my walk, it was 43 degrees and it felt wonderful.  With the arrival of cooler temps comes a change in seasonal recipes.

Last year, I treated myself to one of the Christmas mugs offered by Primitive Gatherings.  Christmas mug 2015 featured a tree, mug 2016 is a snowman in frosty blue color.  Mug 2014 was a star--I missed the boat on that one.  Nothing more relaxing or warming than a good cup of hot chocolate by the fire.  Below is one of Martha Stewart's recipes for hot chocolate.

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 split vanilla beans
  • 19 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate cut into small pieces
  • whipped cream
  • chocolate shavings
Heat milk to scalding in a medium saucepan.  Add split vanilla beans.
Let steep 10 minutes
Remove saucepan from heat, strain, and return to saucepan
Reheat milk, using a whisk, stir in chocolate until the chocolate is melted and the milk is frothy
Serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream
Garnish with chocolate shavings

Here is an easy homemade Hot Chocolate Mix to be shared with friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.

3 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cocoa
1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl, combine, sugar, cocoa and salt and whisk to combine well.  Store the mixture in an airtight container.  For individual services, pour 1 cup whole milk into a microwave safe mug and microwave on high just until hot.  Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa mix and stir to dissolve.  For a larger batch of cocoa, warm the milk in a saucepan set over medium-low heat, taking care not to let the milk boil as it warms.  Stir in two tablespoons of mix for each cup of milk.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Saturday was the last Homespun Gathering day for 2016.  The Gatherings are always filled with good food, laughter and beautiful needlework.  This is a Scarlet Letter piece which Debby stitched.

Debby also stitched this piece by Blackbird Designs.  It's hard to resist a sampler with Adam and Eve and a big old red house.

Judy has also had a set of busy hands and needles.  This was a collection of freebies designed by Paulette Stewart of Plum Street Samplers --a great piece and she stitched using just four colors of fibers.

Judy also stitched this piece, I think the designer is Barbara Ann.  A great marriage sampler, so many wonderful elements in this piece.

Can't remember the name of the piece, the designer is Prairie Schooler.  Mary Ann did a fabulous job with the stitching--a great piece for Christmas or to celebrate winter.

Delilah's birthday gift signature quilt--a true heirloom.  

Cathy stitched this club piece from Tomorrow's Sampler club.  Seeing this piece makes me want to join this club.

I'm a little fuzzy on who stitched this piece, maybe Mary.  A great fabric selection-- the snow man and snow woman look like they are the woods in the middle of a snowstorm.  

Jane was catching up on club pieces, this one by Stacy Nash.  A great fall finish.

Debby had prepared a delicious chicken pot pie, Ruth had a tasty bean dip and Cathy had banana pudding!  Good food, beautiful needlework, and dear friends, it just doesn't get any better.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Let Us Have Peace

Grant House 1865
Chessie and Me (Linda Lautenschlager)
30 count Confederate Gray (Weeks Dye Works)
Needlepoint Silks

One of the things which I have always admired about women is their ability to express themselves in their needlework.  Quilts with names like broken dishes and wedding rings and mourning samplers.  It is pure coincidence, I am stitching this sampler in conjunction with the recent presidential election.

On a daily basis, I read something historical either current or past.  The presidential election of 2016 is one for the history books.  With the contentious campaign and results of 2016, I turned to my history books to see if there had been other presidential elections filled with all the mud slinging as the one of 2016.  Yes there was, the seventh president from the state of Tennessee.  One of the dirtiest presidential campaigns in history goes to Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in 1828.  Andrew Jackson had a fierce temper.  He participated in a number of duels killing Charles Dickinson in one of his duels.  He had six men in his militia who were accused of desertion, executed.  He spent most of his life defending his wife, Rachel who was accused of being an adulteress and a bigamist.

After winning the 1828 election, Andrew Jackson and his supporters had one of the wildest inauguration parties in the White House.  The party was so rowdy and out of control,  Jackson left the White House through a window for his own protection.  The party goers destroyed furniture and china and left the White House after they were promised free liquor.

During his denture, Jackson accomplished the following:
  • first and only president to pay off the entire national debt
  • dismantled the Second Bank of the United States in 1832 on policy grounds
  • faced down South Carolina during the Nullification Crises
  • forefather of the modern Democratic Party
One of the darkest, saddest chapters in American history is the Trail of Tears.  President Jackson defied a Supreme Court ruling when he said:  Chief Justice John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.  Jackson was referring to the Indian removal (all Indians east of the Mississippi River would be relocated west of the Mississippi River).  The Indians were forcibly relocated and during the removal they suffered from exposure, disease and starvation and more than four thousand died before reaching their destination.

There have many dark and uncertain times for our country.  As citizens, we don't always agree.  Let us have Peace was the campaign slogan used by Ulysses S. Grant.  I will close this post with the words from our sixteenth president (Abraham Lincoln)  who also had a contentious campaign and presidency.  

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to do all which many achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Crown of Thorns

Primitive Gatherings Frivol #7
Crown of Thorns
Fabric:  Primitive Gatherings Songbird Gatherings

Ever had one of those projects?  The excitement builds when you first see it and you quickly add it to your shopping cart and can't wait to get home to start it.  And then. . .the wheels start coming off the bus.

Yes, that's me.  I fell in love with this quilt the minute I saw it.  The problem with making this little quilt started when I put myself on a "you must complete older projects before you start another project" diet. The North and South quilt using the five inch charm squares took much, much longer to complete than I had anticipated.  Annie Magnolia, the sampler had travel arrangements to Arkansas and she had to be finished and framed.  October/November in Nashville has been one of the hottest and driest on record--my quilting motivation is challenged when sweat is dripping off me while I am making a quilt.

My biggest problem is thinking the quilt has to be perfect and finding fault with my color selection and placement and my less than perfect sewing results.  My quilting friend, Lori, says "excellence is good enough, stop finding fault and finish the darn thing."

I finally, finally, finally finished sewing the sixteen crown of thorns blocks!  

Sewed the boogers together, hoping the flimsy would be square and not all wonky for the long armed quilter to sort out.  Added the inner border.

Put the pedal to the metal on the sewing machine and made the 68 1 3/4" HST's for the border.  Where would the quilt world be without HST's?  Practise makes perfect and I have been making so many quilts with HST's and using my Itty Bitty ruler for measuring and squaring, I am becoming more efficient in making them.  Piecing papers are also helpful.

Added the larger outer border, and I have a flimsy.  Am not really happy with the outer border.  Time to step away from the quilt for a couple of days and come back with a fresh prospective.  Whew! It was a struggle and am glad it is this close to being finished.  Quilting, binding and label still to be done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


 November is just a few short days away!  The temps are still in the high 70's and there has not been the beautiful fall color.  Thank goodness for Hobby Lobby and manufactured fall color.

The dishes are like Grandmother Bessie's pattern called Autumn Leaf, the Fiesta wear from Belk added the beautiful red which is missing from this years leaf color 

 This is Blackbird's Autumn Song.

Haven't seen many acorns this year, the squirrels who occupy our backyard in the winter will be disappointed.  Again, thank goodness for manufactured Hobby Lobby fall.

My version of pumpkin row.  My wool stash has lots of fall color.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  While reading Facebook last week, I noticed Jo Morton had posted a photo of Sadie's quilt from her book Jo's Little Favorites.  Since Sadie's quilt was one of my favorite quilts from her book and since I have a dry sink and since Jo Morton is one of my favorite fabric/quilt designers, I decided to follow Jo's lead and display Sadie's quilt in my own dry sink.  Thank you for the inspiration!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

American Eagle

Veterans' Day 2016 is 21 short days away--November 11.  Another great day to bring out the red, white and blue.  I have another patriotic addition, an American Eagle chair pad.  While reading blogs one day, I saw this American Eagle with surrounding stars and thought it seemed a natural fit to compliment my patriotic quilts.  My wool stash had a good assortment of red, white and blues.  The eagle motif came from the Primitive Quilts magazine and I modified the stars until they fit.  If anyone is counting, there are thirteen stars for the thirteen original colonies.  Forever the history buff.

The bald eagle (I prefer the American eagle) was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks.  Benjamin Franklin did not want the bald eagle to be the chosen bird.  Here is what our founding forefather wrote about the bald eagle:

I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. . .  Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district.  He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest of America.  For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard wearing his red coat.

Franklin did not hold back about his feelings about the bald eagle being chosen.  The turkey, well he earned his place in American history for another holiday celebrated in November--Thanksgiving.

As much as I love and respect the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, I am glad the eagle became the emblem for the United States--the eagle is a majestic bird.  One other reason for loving the eagle:  his amazing eyesight.  It is estimated the eagle's eyesight is 4 to 8 times stronger than that of the average human.  Some say an eagle can see a rabbit up to two miles away.  No more glasses, no more magnifying lights--a plus for all the needlework projects.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Where Art Thou?

Crown of Thorns
Frivol #7 by Primitive Gatherings
Songbird Gatherings Fabric

Slowly, ever so slowly I am making progress on the Crown of Thorns quilt.  The official date for fall is September 22 (that was almost a month ago).  With temps still in the high 80's it does not feel like fall!  There is no color, it is hotter than Hades, it is very dry and brown and ugly!  With all the beautiful colors, cooler temps, soups, sweaters and decorations fall is one of my favorite seasons.  I am blaming my lack of progress on my projects on the hot weather!

Whew!  I made a huge error on the Crown of Thorns quilt and am so glad I purchased extra fabric--I am sure going to need it to compensate for my mistake.

Grant House1865 Sampler
Chessie and Me
30 count Confederate Gray linen
NPI Silks

Chessie and Me released this design at the Nashville Needlework Market in March 2016.  It is a smallish sampler and will go great with my patriotic quilts.  At the top of the sampler there is this great eagle and the words Preserve the Union.  I really like the way Linda incorporated the date into the grass.

Stacy Nash Primitives
Country Sampler--Schoolgirl Sampler Spring Sewing Bag

I have fallen behind, way behind on the club projects.  While Stacy calls this a spring sewing bag, I have changed the linen colors and fibers to match some homespun and rick rack I had in my stash.

My finishing fabric is more fall like than spring like and I changed some of the fibers to better match the finishing fabric.

The weather man is forecasting a significant drop in temps for the weekend.  Bring it on!  Maybe the cooler temps is the motivation I need to get myself in gear and get some of these projects finished.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Crown of Thorns

Primitive Gatherings Frivol #7
Songbird Gatherings Fabric
Crown of Thorns

My name is Betty and I have a fabric collection addiction problem.  Isn't admitting you have a problem one of the steps in the twelve step program?  I love nice fabric, the feel, the colors and the designs all sing to my heart and call my name.

What's a Frivol?  It is a collectible tin containing 42 squares of 7" x 7" fabric, a classic pattern which finishes to 15" x 35" and a small surprise from Moda.  There were several of the Frivol's which caught my eye and the one I chose to make was Frivol #7.  The pattern is a very traditional pattern, Crown of Thorns.  I do love me some red fabric and the Songbird Gatherings fabric sure fills that bill.

After finishing the North and South quilt, my sewing mojo took a mini break.  Between the combination of taking much longer to finish the North and South quilt than I had anticipated and a very late fall with temps still in the high 80's, I needed a quilting break.  Christmas is just a few short months away (it is hard to focus on Christmas when the temps are still in the 80's) and the red fabrics in the Frivol #7, would sure make a nice Christmas quilt.  Who knows, by starting this small quilt in October, it might actually be finished in time for Christmas or Valentine's.

Lisa Bonegan, the designer of Frivol #7 included HST piecing papers in the kit.  The addition of the piecing papers speeds up the process and makes for some nice accurate HST's.  The directions complete with diagrams are easy to follow and the time to sew the blocks goes quickly.  Measuring and trimming the HST's makes them even more accurate.  When I was in Paducah for Quilt Week, one of my shopping stops was at Hancock's and they had the Songbird collection of fabric in stock.  I was able to purchase setting fabric, backing fabric and binding fabric.

So far I have limited myself to just one Frivol; however my fabric addiction may be stronger than my will power and I may cave and purchase another one or two.