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.