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I’m on the home stretch of quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.  All that’s left is about one half of the last flying geese border and adding the binding.  Then it will need a good hand washing.  I’m anxious to see it finished and to start hand stitching the next quilt (batik Winding Ways).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter taking a quick inventory of our chest freezer, I decided to use one of the several beef roasts to make and can veggie/beef soup.  In all of my 63 years, when making a beef-type soup, I’ve opted to make tomato gravy base stew (with carrots and potatoes).  After seeing a few online videos on making veggie/beef soup, I decided to try my hand.

Once the beef was cubed and seared, I was surprised how fast the soup came together.  I added chopped whole canned tomatoes, onions, frozen soup vegetables, celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, potatoes, broth, beef base and water.

As soon as the soup came to a boil, I ladled it into 6 quart jars and pressure canned them at 10 lbs. for 90 minutes.  I continued cooking the soup that was left until the potatoes were done.  We ate it for last night’s dinner.

Oh my, that is some really good soup.  Bob liked it so much, he headed to the store this morning to buy more of the same ingredients so I can make and can more.  We like having enough on hand to eat and share.

With leftovers from baking a big ham this week, I plan to can more charro beans this weekend.  We enjoy eating them often and everyone I’ve shared with has requested more.

We also discovered several whole pork butts in the freezer.  I am seriously considering making tamales during the Christmas holiday.  It’s a BIG job but I figure I can spread it over 2 days and accomplish it.  We will freeze them and bring out a few at a time to eat with canned charro beans.  It’s an easy, delicious dinner!  I wonder if I can convince Bob to make a thick chili I could can for a terrific tamale sauce.  He makes excellent chili and I have plenty of 1/2 pint jars available.   Sounds like an outstanding idea.  I hope he thinks so too.

We expect to see Jacob this weekend and by studying the calendar, this might be our Christmas gathering.  We do not decorate or make a big deal of exchanging gifts.  We celebrate by being together.  I’m looking forward to seeing him.



Lately, I have spent several hours each day quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.   The body is done, along with one side border.  Though it’s not visible in this picture, there are two straight, parallel lines of stitching between the quilt body and border.

My fingers are suffering.  My left index finger and half of my right thumb are numb and callused.  Along with misshaped nails (from needle abuse), this is the price hand quilters pay for the love of the craft.  I wear my quilter’s hands proudly!

I have decided to begin cutting out another Winding Ways quilt,SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES but this time incorporating batik fabric.  I really enjoyed making this pattern earlier this year and want one for my own.  I have a nice collection of batiks and will use most of them.  When my hands need a break from quilting, I cut a few more pieces.  At this time, I plan to make a queen+ size quilt for my own bed (if I have enough batik fabric).  We’ll see.  I’m excited at the prospect.

It’s a quiet weekend here with nothing special planned and no visitors expected.  I’ll stay busy with needle, thread, scissors and a few good movies.  Happy weekend!



In hopes of allowing my raw fingers to heal a bitSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES, I took time away from quilting and made this shirt for Jacob.  It’s number 17 of the shirts made for his new position at work.  I acquired the fabric in an unusual way.

I’ve been picking up marked down bolt ends of fabric from a few of my favorite online shops and a piece of this fabric was included.  I fell in love but since it was a bolt end, the shop had none and no plans to order more.  I shopped over a dozen online stores with no luck so I went to eBay.  I had no idea of the manufacturer or designer so I searched for ‘peacock feather fabric’ and found it offered by one seller.  Unfortunately it wasn’t cheap but I had to have it.  I knew it would make a gorgeous shirt.

I’ve taken dozens of photos under different lighting situations and get nothing that correctly represents the rich beauty of the fabric…. but take my word for it, it’s a darned pretty shirt!  (Yes, that’s my own hand patting myself on the back!)

It’s not much different than many of the shirts I’ve made.  This one has a single pocket, rounded collar, contrasting black inner collar stand and inner yoke.  The buttons are teal mother-of-pearl and the top stitching is done with black thread.  It has a rounded, tuck-in style tail.

… and thankfully, my raw, sensitive fingers are feeling a little better (until tonight when I’ll return to quilting).

We are in the process of preparing for our Thanksgiving celebration this weekend.  In order to keep Jacob off the busy roads during the holiday, he will be here this weekend.  With our encouragement, he has requested smoked turkey.  While Bob tends the smoker,  I plan to make others of Jake’s favorites including au gratin potatoes and green bean casserole.  I’m still considering making a cinnamon swirl or apple/cinnamon cake he also likes.  Regardless of what we eat, we will enjoy seeing him and sharing family time.



Have had the Urban Renewal quilt top sandwiched for over a week.  Because of never-ending interruptions, the hand basting (which SHOULD have taken 2 days) took a week to complete.  I hope I don’t come to regret that I forgot to iron the quilt backing before basting.  I’m not thrilled with the wrinkled appearance.  I’m being extra-careful to keep from quilting in creases.

I began the quilting process last night and am totally enjoying it.  This top is being hoop quilted in my lap at night as I watch movies on my computer.  Last night, I enjoyed ‘Savannah’ and ‘The Physician’ as I quilted 10 units.  I liked both movies.

For those interested in the details, I’m using Hobb’s Poly-Down batting and a light grey and black ‘stone’ 108″ wide backing (trimmed).  The thread is black YLI Quilting SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES40/3 ply.  The needles for this project are R.J. Roberts Betweens, size 7 and size 8 (depending on what I grab from the pincushion).  I always use Crayola Washable Markers to draw my quilting guide lines.  They’re readily available, cheap and wash out completely.  My 36 years experience with these markers proves to me they are stable, leave no residue and wash out without returning.  I won’t risk my handmade quilts to anything else.

I’ve spent a little time doing more canning recently.  Yesterday, I cooked two large packages of 15 Bean Soup.  I included lots of onion, bell pepper, garlic, celery, ham and bacon.  Just as it finished cooking, we lost electricity so I postponed the canning process until today.  Although our stove is gas, I didn’t want to stand in the dark as I processed the jars.

Rain is predicted for the next couple days.  Since getting the new roof, I LOVE it.  No more worrying about leaks!  Yippee!  I didn’t realize just how much I worried until the burden was lifted.  Once again, I can enjoy these wet days.




Shirt 16

After receiving a request from Jacob for a warm shirt to wear during his upcoming vacation, I’ve spent a little time sewing this flannel shirt.  It’s rather boring but will do the intended job of acting as a light over-shirt on those days when it’s too warm to wear a jacket but too cool for short sleeves alone.

This flannel (along with several other large pieces) has been in my stash for years.  It wasn’t expensive nor is it high quality but about the time it wears out, Jake will probably be sick of looking at it.  It will serve the purpose and when its life is over, I can always make another.

I’m now thinking of making one for myself.  We don’t keep our home overly heated so a flannel shirt would be nice on these cool mornings.  I also intend to make some long sleeve thermal t-shirts for myself.  Those from years past are looking a little shabby.  Thankfully, I have plenty of jeans.

The Urban Renewal quilt top is sandwiched and 1/2 hand basted.  I’m hoping to have that chore finished this weekend.  I’ll also be doing extra cooking during Jacob’s weekend visit.  I plan to make a big batch of chicken/spinach enchiladas to go with the charro beans I’ve made today.

I made 2 pounds of dry pinto beans for charro bean soup, with lots of fresh baked ham, bacon and taco-seasoned ground beef.  Along with several varieties of peppers, onion, cilantro, tomatoes, cumin and onions, they smell wonderful.  I was able to pressure can 7 more quarts to add to our ‘easy meal’ stash.

Earlier this week, I interviewed a new family physician.  He seems knowledgeable and willing to work with me and my health challenges.  I’m so glad to be leaving behind my old doctor and finding a place where I feel confident of the care.

Not much else has been happening on our hilltop.  Today is Halloween and I’m curious if we will have any goblins tapping at our door tonight.  In the 20+ years living here, we’ve only been visited by 1 trick-or-treater.  That’s OK… we don’t mind eating the Kit-Kats and Milky Way candies we’ve purchased….JUST IN CASE!  Wouldn’t want them to go to waste!

Happy Boo Day!


I’m continuing to stitch on the Urban Renewal quilt top.  This week, I’ve added the filler pieces to even out the edges and included a narrow black border.  This required lots more hand piecing which I have been thoroughly enjoying.

I then laid out the top to decide ifFillers and borders I would use a pieced border.  After auditioning several including braids, bricks, piano keys and plain fabric, I decided to go with flying geese.

There was already a box of half-square triangles saved from other projects so it was easy work to machine stitch them together for the geese.  I’m not thrilled with the look but it’s the best decision I can make today.  I do like how the border has increased the size of the top.

This evening I’m trying to decide if I want to hand stitch them to the top or zip them through the sewing machine.  I’m in the mood to watch movies and hand stitch so that’s what I will probably do.  With our cooler weather, I don’t mind having it in my lap.  I’ve begun thinking about how I want to hand quilt it.

Jacob was here for the weekend.  We just love that he drives down and visits often.  This time, I made lots of handmade egg noodles to go with the mushroom chicken he loves.  I also baked sugar free banana bread we always enjoy.  He was able to take home some homemade chicken broth, 2 big bags of dried homemade noodles and 1/2 loaf of banana bread for enjoying later.

He left just an hour ago and I already miss him.


In my quest to make a month of shirts for Jacob, this one represents the half-way mark.

#15 - Half way to goal!

#15 – Half way to goal!

This shirt is made with gorilla fabric Jake selected years ago and I’ve kept in my stash.  In hopes of making another casual shirt, I asked him if he still likes it.  He gave a resounding “YES!” and plans to wear it to work on ‘Casual Friday’.  What fun!

To change things up, I decided instead of assembling the shirt with my vintage Kenmore (circa 1972) machine, I’d use the Singer 301a (circa 1951).  My theory is the older the machine, the nicer the straight stitch.  I wasn’t disappointed with the stitching on this shirt.  I even used its old buttonhole attachment and it worked wonderfully.  The only drawback to using this straight-stitch-only machine is there’s no way to attach buttons by machine.  I hand sewed them.

The shirt is made with the same KwikSew pattern I’ve used many times but with my own ‘sharks tail’ collar.  All seams are flat felled.  It’s another well-made shirt.

I have several choices when deciding which will be the next shirt.  I have flannel and chambray for long sleeved shirts or fabric for dress and casual shirts.  I’m currently undecided so I’ll continue hand stitching the Urban Renewal quilt top until the decision is made.  I never run short of projects!

Last week, I canned 12 more jars of sugar free hatch pepper jam.  We like it so much, we are eating it quickly and after Jacob took home a jar and tasted it, he has requested more.  Strangely, he especially likes it on pizza!  Thus far, Bob and I eat it with breakfast and on fresh baked, warm bread.  Good stuff!


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis week on Facebook, I posted this picture of my progress on the Urban Renewal (Inner City) quilt top.  I was overwhelmed by the positive comments and ‘likes’ it received.  I also received quite a few inquiries about assembly.

I’d LOVE to see boatloads of quilts made with this pattern so I thought I would show a picture story of the steps I’m taking to make this top and the thought process behind my choices.  It may not be the easiest or most efficient method but it is the one that works for me.

I wanted to use up many of the already cut fabric pieces I had left from assembling my Grandmother’s Flower Garden top.  After making a queen size top, I used some of the leftover pieces to make a baby quilt top.  Yes, I’m frugal!  I STILL have pieces left!  I took light, medium and dark hues of individual colors and trimmed the hexagrams to the trapezoid shapes I need for this new quilt. I also cut new paper pieces (1.5″ on each short side) from used printer paper for assembly in the English Paper Piecing technique.



1.  In this first picture, you see the trapezoid papers set atop the fabric pieces. I add holes (with a holepunch) to the center of each paper to assist in removing the papers after assembling the top.   Notice the fabric is cut 1/4″ all around larger than the papers.  The fabric doesn’t need to be cut perfectly as the outside edges are turned under and basted around the paper.  The papers should be precisely cut, each to the same size and shape.






2.  In this picture, you see basted pieces in three green hues.  Each 2 matching pieces need to be stitched together as shown.  To do this, I place the pieces atop each other, right sides together, and whip stitch together along one angled side to make a boomerang.  These three boomerangs will make one ‘Y’ unit.








3.  This top is not made in blocks, but in ‘Y’ units.  Each unit is made with 3 boomerangs, whipstitched down each long side.  Be certain to lay out each hue identically with the other units.  On my top, I placed the lightest hue on the top, and the darkest on the right.  This gives the 3 D effect to the top.








4.  Make a bunch of ‘Y’ units, all with light, medium and dark hues.  You’ll be amazed at just how many it takes to assemble a top.  I became bored after making several dozen units so I would assemble them into diagonal rows, being careful to distribute my colors as I wanted them in the top and making certain the hues were positioned correctly.









5.  Though there’s not a great variety here, this is a sample of how to assemble diagonal rows.  There is no need to snip the little ears from the units as they will swirl on the back without leaving a hard bump.  I assemble enough of these diagonal rows to make the width of the quilt top.  My top is currently 52″ wide before adding borders.







In the near future, I plan to add Kona black trapezoids and hexagrams to fill in the edges of the top.  My thinking is it will provide the sought-after 3 D effect all the way to the borders.  At this time, I have not decided if I will include a pieced or solid border or two.  I will begin auditioning options soon.



I’ve never lived in a location quite as dusty as this.  Maybe it’s because I live in a farmhouse that’s over 100 years old or maybe it’s the multitude of dirt (sand actually) roads in the area but this is the dustiest house imaginable.

After losing sleep because of wheezing and coughing, I decided in my fight against dust, to eliminate the carpet in my bedroom.  Believe me, it’s no great loss and raw concrete floors may be ugly but they’re much easier to keep clean.  I’ve spent the week not only pulling up carpet and padding, but vacuuming the cathedral ceiling and walls, cleaning windows and sills, washing all furniture front and back before lemon oiling, washing the ceiling fan and curtains.  The room looks much cleaner and I’m wheezing less.  Now my back hurts.   SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bob and I decided to take advantage of the hatch pepper harvest from New Mexico this year and purchase some for making jam.  We both love pepper jam but since I’m diabetic, I avoid eating sugar.  Up until recently, in order for jelly or jam to ‘set’, sugar was required.  Fortunately, a new pectin has been developed that sets without sugar.  Yippee!

Bob bought enough hatch peppers for a double batch.  He also purchased jalapeño peppers for added flavor and some kick.  It smelled wonderful as it cooked and we were pleased how it tasted before canning.

I was able to put up 8 jelly jars of jam.  That same evening, for dinner I made omelets and we cracked open the first jar of hatch pepper jam to spread on fresh baked bread.  Oh my stars!!!  It’s delicious!  Although I added 8 jalapeño peppers to the mix, it’s not hot.  It’s wonderfully sweet and peppery!

Bob has purchased an even bigger bunch of peppers for another batch of jam which will include enough to share with family.  If I don’t get a chance this weekend, I’ll make jam on Monday.

I was able to do a little sewing between canning and cleaning.  I’ve made another gingham shirt for Jacob.  This time it’s forest green gingham with a bias pocket and outside back yoke.  The collar is a cut back style with rounded tips and white backside.  The collar band is also white inside and out.  It has antique mother-of-pearl buttons and a tuck-in tail.

Jacob is on his way here for a weekend visit.  I’m looking forward to seeing him, feeding him well and giving him new shirts.

Happy weekend!


After a few weeks of accomplishing little, I’ve finally got some energy back. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  I’ve managed to make shirt #13 (since March) and have cut out another.

This shirt is grey, white, red and pink stripe seersucker with a stark white collar band and no collar.  There is also a white accent on the pocket, horizontal-cut yoke and rounded, tuck-in hem.  The seams are flat felled and top stitched for lasting wear.  I hope he likes it.

While stitching, I’ve decided to try and make enough shirts for Jacob to wear a different shirt each day for a month.  If that is the goal, I’m nearly halfway there!  If I don’t poop out or if he doesn’t stop me, I hope to reach that goal by late Spring.  I hope it’s not too ambitious.  We shall see!

As I type this post, the pressure canner is singing its jiggling song.  I’m processing 7 pints of split pea and ham soup.  Along with a grilled cheese sandwich, a pint of split pea and ham soup will make a super easy dinner this winter when a hot, hearty meal will be appreciated.  If my energy holds this week, I plan to can some chicken soup too.  Bob stocked our freezer near full of chicken he found on sale so I’m anxious to process some for easy meal preparation.

I much prefer opening jars of my own soup (canned with love) than opening anything commercially prepared (with chemicals and preservatives).  Mine tastes SO much better too!


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