Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quilting Day

"Days like today make me really happy to be a quilter." I made this proclamation around 2:00 this afternoon. I was with my friend Terry (of the Frankfort quilting group) and three other women I met just this morning. We shared a day of quilting and getting to know each other. And it was a wonderful day.

This is a pretty little building called a "barn" by its owner, Mary, who was our hostess today. (And, yes, those are snowflakes!) Inside, it is a quilter's haven. Work stations, ironing board, counter space, all the necessary amenities!

The "barn" is a delightfully cozy cottage-like building draped with quilts and wall hangings. Eye candy everywhere!!

Mary has regularly scheduled quilting events here in her barn, and it's just as casual and comfortable as can be. Terry has been going for awhile now, and invited me to join her today. The other two quilters who shared in our fun were Sherrie and Monica.

My friend Terry has been working diligently over the past year or so on the Farmer's Wife quilt. Today she finished off 3 more blocks (she has around 80 done!).

Her blocks are beautiful, and this quilt will be stunning. I can't wait to see it come together!

My new acquaintances were all working on diverse and interesting projects.
Monica worked on this Gathering Baskets quilt. Quite a lot of half-square triangles, and she was using blacks and beiges - very striking results!

Sherrie worked on a black and cream quilt. These 16-patch blocks will be alternated with star blocks.
Hostess Mary worked on a log cabin. These colors are greens and aquas mixed with beiges and browns.
I pulled out an old UFO - Broken Dishes by Kaffe Fassett. I need to look back through my records to see if I can locate a start date on this quilt. I will hazard a guess at 4 years ago - 2007. I would really like to be able to call this a finish for 2011.

The opportunity to meet new quilting friends, and get in a quality day-full of quilting on a long-term project - well, both were quite welcome and satisfying. The community aspect of quilting cannot be overstated. We grow in our knowlege of the craft as much as in the richness of our friendships.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cheese and Spinach Strata

A week ago Saturday, I hosted my Frienzies for brunch, and wrote about it here. I shared my menu among other things. Several dear readers have contacted me to ask about the recipes for some of the dishes, so I will begin to get them out here day by day.

With the craziness of the last 2 weeks and all that Emma's been involved in, I've not done any quilting to speak of, unfortunately. So until I can get some more work going, I will post recipes for the next few days.

First, when trying to decide the main dish for my brunch, I decided to go meatless. I searched the internet for interesting ideas, and found the following at Epicurious. Generally, I would never prepare a dish for guests that I hadn't already made for my family, as practice. This time I did, however, and it all worked out okay.

Spinach and Cheese Strata

Yield: 6-8 servings


1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen spinach, thawed

1 ½ c. finely chopped onion (1 large)

3 T. unsalted butter

1 t. salt

½ t. black pepper

¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg

8 c. cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 lb.)

6 oz. coarsely grated Gruyere (2 c.)

2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 c.)

2 ¾ c. milk

9 large eggs

2 T. Dijon mustard


1. Squeeze handfuls of spinach, removing as much liquid as possible, and then finely chop.

2. Cook onion in butter in heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring until soft 4-5 minutes. Add half the salt and pepper, and the nutmeg, stirring an additional minute. Add spinach, stir thoroughly, and remove from heat.

3. Spread a third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-qt. baking dish. Top evenly with a third of the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with a third of each of the cheeses. Repeat. Repeat. Be sure to end with cheese.

4. Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard and remaining salt and pepper. Pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap, chill overnight, at least 8 hours.

(Bread needs this time to absorb the egg/milk mixture.)

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let strata stand at room temp about 30 minutes.

6. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, about 45-55 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Busy Week

Living with a senior in high school is so much fun. Emma has had an active school career, and this week exemplifies that. And, the reason I decided to retire in 2009 was so I could enjoy her school activities and be more involved in them. My older 2 kids didn't get that attention, and I regret it.

So, Emma had a part in the school musical, Bye, Bye Birdie. She played the Ann-Margaret character, Kim MacAfee, who gets chosen to kiss Conrad Birdie before he goes into the army. The stage adaptation of that old movie is quite funny, and several scenes had the audiences nearly rolling in the aisles.

My involvement was making costumes (2 skirts) and creating the program (8 pages, 750 copies, folded and stapled). I also volunteered to help with hair, since some of the kids were apparently clueless about hairstyles in the late 1950s.

Here is my star, Emma, with the boy who played Conrad after the show, where the cast does a meet and greet with the audience.
Can't you just see how much fun she is having? Not only does she love the limelight, she also has a positive attitude and a happy disposition, so she's just an all-around fun person to be around. I'm pretty proud of her, that's for sure.  *big grin on Mom's face!*

In other news from our household, my washer died this week. Crazy busy doing stuff on a deadline, and my washer goes out...that's a Murphy's Law if I ever heard one. Had a new one delivered on Friday afternoon, after I'd done 7 loads of laundry at the Laundry-Mat on Thursday!! I hate that!

I did manage to get to Quilt Group for just an hour or so on Friday morning. I grabbed the yo-yos, since I'd not been working on anything for the past 2 weeks. I do have some pics to share from the other gals, though. They'd been to a quilt retreat last weekend with the guild they belong to - gosh, they got a lot accomplished at this retreat!! Terry and JoAnn had some projects for show and tell.

JoAnn made this table mat, which she was binding, and...

This wall-hanging. The blocks are charm-square size, to give you an idea. Both of these projects are from scraps, and JoAnn is a master of using up her leftovers. She's created quite a lot of beautiful pieces from the scrap pile! Good for her!

Terry had several also:
This blue and white beauty. Love it!

Small projects with big impact. Love them all and seeing them gives me inspiration to get back to work on my own stash!

And Terry had one BIG project - BEAUTIFUL!! She's going to lend me her pattern when she locates it! :-)

Now, here is a new technique the two of them experiemented with: sew circles one on top of another, raw edges exposed. After batting, quilting and binding, they will wash their piece and Voila! the edges will fray and look all soft and cuddly. 

JoAnn did a small wall-hanging.

Terry did a larger lap quilt.

I think these will look fantastic when they are finished!

Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Found Quilt


It was with a huge sigh of relief that I finally found my missing retirement quilt! I looked upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, every room of the house and was frantic. I called DD Erin, to see if she had taken it for some reason. My great fear was that she had taken it, and it was in the car that was stolen about 3 weeks ago! Alas, she knew nothing. I texted DS Adam to see if he'd taken it to his girlfriend's. Nope. Nothing. I questioned DD Emma, who still lives at home. She'd not seen it, either.

I repeated my all-out search a number of times, before finally locating the quilt hanging from a clothes rack in the laundry area of the basement. The reason I didn't see it any of the gazillion times I searched the laundry area is because the back was facing out, and it was just too easy to look right past it!

See what I mean? Rather ordinary-looking, right?

When I was searching high and low for my quilt, I was NOT looking for ordinary, believe me!! I have the wildest retirement quilt of all!

My retirement quilt is made 100% of Kaffe Fassett fabrics! So, when I tell you that I didn't see the quilt, believe me, it would be hard to miss if it were turned to this side!

Isn't it scrumptious? Wouldn't it have been a shame if it had truly been lost?? Perish the thought!

A couple of questions beg to be answered, I'm sure:
1. Why was it hanging over a clothes rack? To keep it from becoming soiled against all the other 'uck' that one finds in dirty laundry.
2. Why was it in the laundry? I don't know for sure on this one, but I'm guessing that either the cat or the dog had slept on it and gotten it really hairy (and if it was the dog, then smelly, too!)
3. Did I put it there and forget about it? Or did one of the kids? Don't know. I probably did; the kids wouldn't know to put it up out of the way. They treat all laundry equally. Nothing gets special care when they are doing laundry! (Are all kids this way?)

So, my mystery is solved, and I am relieved.

I still don't have a picture of all the retirement quilts together in one place, however. We might have to have another reunion.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brunch for Frienzies

Today was the big reveal! Finally! My dear, dear friend Sharon retired at the end of February, but our celebration of the occasion was this morning at brunch here at my house.

Here is Sharon, wearing a tiara, for retiring is cause for royal treatment, as she opens her quilt.

Notice that Sharon is wearing red and white, and that she matches her quilt??? Uncanny. When a retirement is approaching, the group decides on the color scheme for the retiree based on colors that are "her." Everyone knows that Sharon loves red -- she has red walls in her bedroom, a red sofa and chair in her living room, and has made at least one red and white quilt. So we dug out our red scraps to make the stars, found some fabulous red/white and white/red fabric on the sale table at Ben Franklin, and constructed this over the past year or so. (Sharon considered retiring at the end of last school year, so we began this quilt last Feb!)  Anyway, back to what Sharon is wearing. She told us she actually had a purple top on this moring, but changed into red and white, because "I'm red!"

Do we know each other, or what??

Well, she loves her retirement quilt, and now we have 6 retirees in our little group of 8 - all using the same  pattern. You may see that quilt folded up on the floor in that last pic . . .

We had a retirement quilt reunion! Everyone who has a retirement quilt brought theirs today.

In the foreground is Lyn's, whose colors are earth tones - browns, greens, blues and tan. It has a very calm look to it.

Next is Pam's Ohio State quilt - it's Scarlet and Gray.

Next is Kay's blue and white quilt. Her quilt is our first, as Kay was the first of the Frienzies to retire.

Last is Sherrie's burgundy and beige quilt.

Where is mine?? I don't know! It's lost!! I could do a whole post on my missing retirement quilt, and I suppose I will when I find it. Can you believe that I have lost a quilt?!?!? Good grief. My first thought is to interrogate my three kids... I suspect someone has committed quiltnapping!

So, the idea to have a retirement quilt reunion was a good one, until the hostess of the reunion couldn't find her own. *grumble, grumble*

Okay, for the brunch portion of our morning, here are some shots of the table and food.

I found the table linens at Kohl's. They look very much like the French General lines of fabric. So I bought them. Of course.

The spinach and egg strata. I took a risk with this, as I'd never made it before. It turned out great. Very cheesy - gruyere and parmesan. It made the house smell yummy.

Cheesy potato casserole is a huge favorite with my family; I made a huge pan so there'd be plenty of leftovers.

Scones. I have had scones before that were moist and smooth. These tasted dry, so maybe a bit long in the oven.

Kay brought a fruit bowl - this is what is left of the chocolate covered strawberries. There was also pineapple, but I didn't get a pic of that.

I also did not get a pic of the pound cake and topping, but suffice it to say it was both pretty and delicious. We were scheduled to have bellinis, but a couple of the girls had to rush, so we didn't get to linger over pretty drinks. Darn. Just iced tea this time.

It was a fun morning.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Birthday Surprise

Tomorrow morning I will be hostessing a brunch for a group of very close friends to celebrate the recent retirement of one of our number. She is the one who will receive the quilt I've teased you about for a month or so.

My menu:
Spinach and egg strata
Cheesy potato casserole
Fresh fruit
Pound Cake with whipped topping

The strata, casserole and pound cake will be made tonight, leaving just prep work for in the morning.

In addition to celebrating the retirement, another of our group has a birthday this month, so I stopped at Creations Sew Clever in Chillicothe earlier today for a little birthday gift.

A pattern for making little quilts with fat quarters, 3 fat quartersin  red, white and blue for Sherrie, the birthday girl, who does a lot of quilts in patriotic colors, and a tiny pair of scissors. I have a pair of these little snipperstand they are really nice. So I think Sherrie will like them, too.

I hadn't been to Creations for quite awhile. I worked in Chillicothe for 30 years, however I surely don'g get over that way nearly as often as I did then. While at Creations,  saw several quilts on display that I liked, and a few pieces of fabric tried to get me to buy them. But I remained strong in my resolve to focus on using the stash.

Okay, so that's sort of a little white lie, because if you go back through this blog you'll learn that I'm not a real strong person when it comes to resisting the urge to buy fabric, but I did today, so good for me. In a few weeks, I know that I will be going to a big quilt shindig in Cincinnati. You don't think I'm going to be resisting fabric purchases there, do you???  *grinning!!*

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

When I went searching for an image to use today, I found this one which features the harp. Let's take a little tour to Dublin today, since I have no quilting news to report.

The  Brian Boru harp, one of the three surviving medieval Gaelic harps, and a national symbol of Ireland, was gifted to Trinity College in the 18th Century.

This prized possession and many other famous artifacts are housed at Trinity College, most notably, the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells is also called the Iluminated Manuscript. This famous book in Latin and  illustrated by priests, and is one of the most treasured artifacts in all of Ireland. This particular page (folio) features the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, John and Luke.

This is Trinity College, a beautiful place right in the heart of Dublin. It has such character and history and tradition! The part of the college that I liked the best was the library, known as the Long Room.
Here's the exterior:

And here is the interior; isn't it magnificent?

So, have a Happy St. Patrick's Day, dear quilters! This little tour through Dublin's Trinity College was lots of fun! I recommend a real trip if you ever have the opportunity!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Filler Work

When life gets really busy, and there's no time to work on the project I want to be devoted to, it's time to bring out the yo-yos. Over the last 8 or 9 years (guesstimate), I have been making blue and beige yo-yos for an as-yet-to-be-determined project.

I've made so many that it's time I decided what I will do with them! My container can't hold them anymore! Above is the overflow from the tub (below) I'd been using for storage.
I began these yo-yos just prior to one of our European trips - I'm thinking it was 2003. With the circles cut ahead of time, a pair of nail clippers for snipping thread, needle and thread, all tucked inside a large zip-lock bag, they travel well, and make great use of time spent in airports and on planes (reading usually works for me, but it's good to have a back-up plan!).

I have taken them now on several European trips, plus many quilt getaways, weekends at in-laws, Friday morning quiltalongs, etc. These are also nice to grab when you just need something to keep your hands busy without having to think too much!

I have seen many blogs recently about the little hexies that many quilters are making. Their projects are wonderful! Grandmother's Flower Garden and Garden Paths are just a couple that caught my fancy. Seeing the hexies made me think of my little yo-yos, and what I will end up doing with them. I'm thinking a table-topper, but there could be enough to make a coverlet for a single bed.

Oh well, the end game was never the focus. I've always just been interested in keeping the needle busy!

Happy quilting, Friends!

Monday, March 14, 2011

It Won't Be a Secret Much Longer

This beauty, that is. Remember, a few weeks ago, I shared the binding with you. . .

So, during the Big 10 Tournament basketball games that we've watched these past couple of days, I finished stitching the binding. We will be gifting the surprise to our newest retiree on Saturday here at my house where we will gather for brunch.

I promise it will be worth the wait.

I've got a busy week with things other-than-quilting. Program material for Emma's upcoming h.s. musical production, make a couple of costumes for said musical, a writing project that our town's historical society is beginning, cleaning and cooking for Saturday's brunch. That's the big stuff. You know the small stuff that has to happen on a daily basis. Because of the deadline-nature of some of these projects, my blogging frequency might take a hit, unfortunately. I've made a concerted effort since starting back up the first of the year to keep my posting regular and frequent.

We shall see what we shall see. . .

Happy Quilting, Friends.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday Morning Quilting Group

It was my turn to play hostess to the Friday morning group. Those every-other Fridays sure seem to come awfully fast!

I had no finishes to share, but the rest of the girls had several.

Sharon brought some hope for sunnier days to our dreary Ohio weather with her tablerunner featuring watermelon slices. We have had clouds, rain, snow, flood watches, and wind this week - we are weary of our long winter and ready for warm, sunny weather!

Sheryll was stitching the binding on this pretty wall hanging. She says that it goes straight in with her Christmas decorations, as this green and red star quilt is going to be used next December for holiday decorating.

Terry had two tops to show us. Both used related colors and fabrics - Civil War-themed fabrics of red, black, gray and off-white.

Good job, Ladies, for getting so much accomplished since our last gathering!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Civil War Blocks Updated

I seem to go in fits and spurts with these Civil War blocks. I have it in my head that they are easy, quick to accomplish, so I hold off doing them weekly. Then, it seems like I just turn around and behold! I have 3 or 4 that I need to get caught up on!

Earlier today I rectified that just a bit by completing 2 blocks.

This is called Lincoln's Platform. I wish the colors in the pic were truer - the flower is burgundy, and I think it looks sort of brown in this photo. I used some new fat quarters that I've recently bought, but right at the moment I couldn't even tell you what line they are from!

This block is called Birds in the Air. I love blue quilts. This might just be the inspiration for my to do a blue quilt.

Short post this time around . . . seems like life is calling extra loud today!

Happy Quilting, Friends!