October 12, 2019

Wholecloth Mend

Hello and welcome! In the year 2000, I began a wholecloth quilt. I've always enjoyed quilting, but I found the piecing a bit fussy and hurried through it so that I could get the layers of fabric and batting all basted and then stitch them together in curved and gentle lines. That moment when I finally sat down and inserted my tiny needle into the layers was heaven. Once I did the wholecloth I never pieced another quilt. Instead, I cut right to the stitching that I loved.

That quilt has since been on my bed from the moment I finished it in 2002, every cool night and for every fall and winter nap. Before it even hit the bed it warmed me as I stitched, stretched over my huge quilting hoop, immersed in the rhythm of tiny stitches. Through every stitch, I had a companion who shared my needlework meditation, and I thought of her as I repaired the old quilt. I remembered the night she first came into our lives, filthy and mewling and injured. Her tail was broken and torn, likely from being hit by a car. She was sweet and appreciative as we doused her in peroxide and tried to clean her wound. It was a Friday night and the veterinarian's office was closed so we did the best we could at the time. By Monday morning she had a home.

In the garden - 2008

She was an odd color, a type of Siamese I had never seen before. When I did take her to the vet he told me she was a "flame point" and it made perfect sense. Her points were a soft orange, like a little red-headed kid, and her eyes a crystal blue. She often sat in the front doorway and watched the neighborhood in the sunshine. Her ears glowed the color of a soft rosebud and the letter carrier nicknamed her "Pinky". After all the bottles of peroxide we had poured on her and the soft bleached coloring of her points we named her "Roxie", short for Peroxide. 

Roxie was my close companion for many years, often sitting beside me while I weeded in the garden or watching me cut fabric on the floor, but the one time I knew she would be there was when I sat down to quilt. She would steal up under the big hooped stand and crawl into my lap. No matter how hot it got underneath there she would stick around as long I was stitching. Her life has run its course, but her memory lives in the stitches of that quilt.

The quilting has held well and every bit of the cotton has withstood all of that sleeping and snuggling, except for the binding. That's where I am today, replacing the edge to keep the beloved piece alive. I pulled out the little Singer Featherweight and set it on the counter so that I had plenty of space to work and set to attaching the new binding. It will get folded over the edge and hand-stitched in place. Once again it will warm my lap and I'll remember fond moments that I have enjoyed with it thus far.

  Attaching new binding.

It's clear that the edge was very frayed.

 The quilt is queen sized and needed lots of binding.

It looks like I'll need to embroider a new date onto the quilt as well.

Ready for bedtime.

Beautiful and back on the bed.

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October 10, 2019

Pear Pie Two

Since nothing else seems to come quite as close to pie heaven as the surprising Pear Crumble Pie this Sunday's pie just had to be a trip back to pear deliciousness. After pulling out the ingredients and setting up for baking I remembered that I had made a mistake the last time. Well, of course, it turned out so well I just had to do that mistake again and so a new recipe was born. I used Bartlett pears for both pies because it's in season in late summer/early fall. Maybe you'd like to try one yourself? I can't say that I've had a better pie!

Pear Crumble Pie

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbls. flour
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
5 cups of sliced, peeled fresh pears (About 2 1/2 lbs.)
3 Tbls. lemon juice
1 unbaked single crust for pie
1 cup flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, the 2 Tbls. flour and the lemon peel. In a large bowl sprinkle pears with lemon juice and then the sugar/flour mixture and toss to coat. Fill pie crust with pear mixture. Combine the remaining flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl and cut in the butter. Sprinkle this mixture over the pears. Cover edge of crust and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 25-30 mins until crust is golden.

After years of trial and error making my own crust, with lard, Crisco and other fats I discovered that I really like the taste of Pillsbury's pre-made crust. It bakes up light and delicious and is much easier than starting a crust from scratch. You can find it in the dairy/cooler aisle. It freezes well and I usually keep a couple of crusts in the freezer.

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October 8, 2019

October Purge

I love stuff. Making stuff, buying stuff, keeping stuff. Don't we all? A couple of years ago I discovered the Bowl Full of Lemons book. I love a good organizing book, but most of them fall short. This was the first book that motivated me enough that I actually got out of my chair while reading and started rearranging my kitchen set-up. It was not much later that I found the Facebook group that has a kind of organization-fest every January. I took on the challenge that year and it not only changed my entire way of thinking about and keeping my home but I must say it was a real lifesaver a couple of years later when we sold our house. I still had to do a huge downsizing, but it was clear that without the big organizing a year earlier it would have been impossible to move in the timeline that we did. When we did get into our new home I used many of the methods I had learned from the book in our new place. From the get-go, my kitchen, for example, was ready for easy cooking almost immediately after I unpacked.


This year the group has an October purge and I didn't hesitate to check it out. It's a simple 30 days purge where you take a couple of minutes to attack the areas in your home that tend to get cluttered. For the first of October, it began with the bathroom counter. Mine was set up attractively, but when we moved I put out far more items than I actually needed every day. This morning I took a look at all of the clutter and pared it down. Now I have much more workspace and an easier space to keep clean. 

This purge is a good way to begin, whether your house is pretty well organized or you are getting buried under all of that stuff we love so much!

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October 6, 2019

White Roosters


I saw a picture of a French Provincial kitchen one day and on the table sat a gorgeous, white rooster. I loved how crisp and proud he looked on the beautiful table setting. I just had to have a white rooster after that! Then reality set in. Roosters are not cheap and oddly white ones are the most expensive. It was time to add a bit of imagination, somehow make one fit in the budget and fulfill the rooster dream.

The inspirational rooster.

I found a couple of vinyl statues on Amazon from their warehouse. If you aren't familiar with Amazon warehouse the bargains there are great. Sometimes orders get damaged slightly in shipping, oftentimes it's only the packaging that is ruined. Anytime I order there I always look for a warehouse version. Acrylic roosters are a bit fragile and I happened to find two with some minor damage. They both were very brightly colored but they only needed to be white to fit into my new decor.

One is done in an antique finish. First I spray painted it white. The oil-based finish is slick and a good base for antiquing. Once it had dried overnight I made a wash of a slightly golden/brown paint and brushed it into the feathers and details, wiping quickly afterward with a soft cloth for that aged look.

After it had dried I sprayed it with a cheap hair spray. Hair spray is a great finish. It leaves a soft, slightly glossy finish that looks very much like aged ceramic.

For the other, brighter rooster, I simply sprayed him white with a regular can of spray paint then with hairspray once it had dried completely. I can't decide which one I like more! I'm sure this method would work as well on any ceramic rooster.

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October 5, 2019


There's nothing as warming and delicious as a steaming bowl good old-fashioned oatmeal. Not that quick stuff, but the real steel-cut Irish type. Now that autumn has arrived it's definitely time to think about a good hot breakfast. However, the really good oatmeal takes time and watching and stirring over the stove. I would rather plug in my earbuds and get out for a brisk walk in the morning instead of stirring over a pot.  

Enter crock-pot. That wonderful slow-cooking device is perfect for old-fashioned oats. You can make up a batch for now or even keep it for a few days in the refrigerator. This cereal is delicious hot or cold with little or no sweetening and maybe even a pinch of cinnamon or a few raisins or bananas. In small storage containers it's easy to grab, get a good breakfast into your belly and then begin your day full of good food.

I follow the recipe on the can: 4 cups of water to two cups of oats and put it in the slow-cooker for a couple of hours. Check it occasionally and when almost, but not all of the water is absorbed turn it off and let it sit another hour. I stir it every hour and that's all the attention it requires. When finished I either put the cooled crockpot liner right into the refrigerator or divide the oats into smaller storage containers. I have found that it can even be frozen, put into the refrigerator overnight and enjoyed cold or warmed in the microwave. Good healthy eating!

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October 3, 2019

Tiny Office

The clouds parted this morning making it perfect for a bit of embroidery. Yesterday the builders came and moved the shed that came with our new home. The house had been completed in February and the ground was too soggy and snowy to set it in a permanent location so it simply got parked in the center of the yard. There it sat while the finishing touches were added to the porch and the inside. At last, all of the stars of new construction must have aligned because the crew came for shed relocation yesterday. It had been parked right outside of my office window so the room was dark and felt close. Today it's bright and inspiring. 

I did a bit more organizing, and will likely do much more over the next year. I just can't help but try to fit too darned much into the tiny space, but I am confident it will settle into the perfect room over time.

I have a big Moonstrik stand by the window and with the shed gone the light is wonderful! I was finally able to grab a good eBook from the online library, pull up a chair and start cross-stitching. 

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October 1, 2019

Lace Pumpkin


   My friend Marianne sent me the cutest link on Pinterest the other day and it was clear she knows my taste. It's a pumpkin covered in lace doilies and I just had to have one! I considered running to the craft shop and investing in a plastic pumpkin and either digging out some old doilies or hitting the dollar store for some cheap ones. My little inner budget voice instead decided to rummage through my craft supplies first to see what I could concoct without buying anything. When I dug a bit I ran across the big doily I just replaced in the kitchen and right away it was clear it needed a second life as a lacy pumpkin.

      I started with an old, linen napkin. I have scores of them and they are great for crafting. I stitched around the top of it, gathered it up and stuffed it well.

Then I gathered up the big doily around it and gathered it up as well.

Once it was pumpkin-shaped I got out a huge needle and some thin jute and added the sectioning thread.

After some shaping, a stick from the yard and a bit of ribbon it looked pretty good! I left some of the jute hanging to add to the ribbon, but once I looked at it for a few minutes I rubbed white glue on the jute and wrapped it around paper straws and allowed it to dry overnight. In the morning I pulled out the straw and the thread had curled nicely.

Thank you, Mare, for the inspiration!  

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September 29, 2019


Some time before we relocated I watched a close friend move across the country to begin a new life. It was the right time for her, as it was for us over a year later. I saw her working hard to prepare and did not appreciate how difficult it must have been for her until I began to break down my own place. She was alone, I was not. I admire her more for that. We have corresponded through letters on frilly stationery, handmade cards and a few phone calls over time. I have things now in my new home she left behind and they are very special to me, but the package I found on my porch yesterday afternoon has me floored. I was a bit nervous and excited when I saw the package there. Downsizing puts you into a weird place where you get into a state of mind that you don't want any more "things" in your life. I was wrong to feel that way. This thing is exactly what I need in my life. I am so thankful that I have so many friends who have "house warmed" me in so many perfect ways. From the backscratcher brought by one friend to replace the forgotten and terribly missed one I left on a windowsill in my old home, to the handy shoehorn for those considerate folks who remove their footwear when they visit and the amazing tablecloth we received recently, each gift has been thoughtful and loved. This latest gift is no exception.

Inside the big box on my porch is a beautiful print done by my friend's daughter, a graphic artist in Tuscon, Arizona and I love it! Of course, I carried it around the house looking to find the perfect place for it and I finally decided to hang it above my little fireplace in the living room/kitchen area where I could see it all day long and enjoy it constantly.

My husband sees a fishing net upon a shore and I love his interpretation of it. I see a ghost that is invisible except for her veil that comes down from her head and trails over her back and shoulders. But more than our interpretation of what the print really is, I see the love in the heart of my good friend, Fay, who chose it for me and my home. Once again I am touched.

Fay and I in our old neighborhood.

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September 28, 2019

A Walk

One of the reasons I chose this particular spot to buy a home is because it's so perfect for walking. The lakes and trails go on for miles and even in the little neighborhood where my new home sits there are perfect places for a brisk stroll. We moved in June, just as the Pennsylvania summer began, and although it's much cooler here than down in the city, it was still warm and I spent the better part of the season getting settled indoors. And baking. And eating.

I lost over 20 pounds while moving, but the changes in relocating, retiring and overall lifestyle brought those pounds back very quickly. That means that it's time to get my butt outside and enjoy some of the reasons I have come here. I set my watch alarm, dug out my walking shoes and hit the trail just as the sun came over the trees. What a joy! The day promised to be very warm and the morning fog had just lifted. It was peaceful and perfect and I found a little hill to climb to get my heart rate up and make me feel alive. When I got home I was rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

For fun I loaded an app on my phone called MapMyWalk. I believe they have a running version as well. It makes a cute little map of where you go, how far you went and how long. It can be inspirational, to be sure, but nothing like taking a deep breath on a beautiful autumn morning and seeing the world anew while walking.

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September 26, 2019

Finally Fall!

Hello! I hope you are having the perfect first day of autumn 2019! It has been foggy here in the morning since we are close to the water and the temperature drops so much at night. By 9:00 A.M. the sky is a bright blue.

I got out some music by a new artist we have discovered... just perfect for kicking up a good baking day and went to it!

Of course, considering it is actually autumn now, this week's pie just had to be an apple! Combine that with the excuse to compare an apple crumb to the pear crumb pie I made a couple of weeks ago. This should be interesting since that pear version will be mighty hard to beat. I was even able to get out my handy dandy peeler for this one. I ordinarily use it primarily for peeling potatoes, but the monster versions sold here in the local markets are just too much even for this cast iron workhorse.

This recipe is very close to the pear version. It's clear the difference will be all in the apples.

Into the oven, it goes!


 I can't wait to slice this one up and add a scoop of cold ice cream!

 I have to say that there are few things better than a good slice of pie. This one is very delicious! It's right up there with the better pies I've made lately, but I have to say that it's still a tiny step down from that delicious Pear Crumble Pie. I guess I'll have to make the pear next week and compare again.

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