Friday, June 21, 2013

Fabric Freaks Friday Fun with the PPP Group!

Circling Geese Block

Our little Paper Piecing Perfection group had such fun this morning!  This time I brought two blocks from Amy Gibson, at Stitchery Dickory for the gals to piece.  They are the Circling Geese Block from her Craftsy Class and the Sunny Days Block from her Sugar Block Club.  I will not be posting these patterns online, but will offer you the links below to get them. 
My friend Dianna Atherton joined us for the day all the way from Nevada City and she brought along a most delightful lunch for me!  Thank you Dianna, it was great fun to have you with us today!

Sunny Days

Both of these blocks offer so many design options.  I am working on two quilts concurrently in this group.  One is a "Champagne and Caviar" colorway and the other is a "Fall" colorway.  Both have a completely different feel about them.  I made the block above, Sunny Days, as part of Amy's Sugar Block Club.  You can see how different it looks below.

Last year I took Amy's Craftsy course "Craftsy Block of The Month, 2012" and made the Circling Geese Block.  You can see how different that one looks in Kaffe Fassett fabrics below.

If you like these blocks and want to make some yourself, you can find the patterns at the following links:

For the Circling Geese Block:
Look for the 2012 Crafts Block of The Month Class.  It is the October Block.

For the Sunny Days Block:
You will need to sign up for Amy's Sugar Block Club.  Worth the nominal sign up fee.  She has a great group of gals quilting along with her and it's fun to see all their blocks each month.

I did not have my camera with me at class today and Brenda Allen was kind enough to snap some photos with her phone to send to they are!  Great blocks, successfully executed!

Brenda's Block

Mavis' Block

Sandy's Block

Teri's Block

Dianna's Block

Valerie's Blocks

As I promised my gals, here is the link for Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting!  Please stop by and see her blog, great videos of all kinds of free motion quilting, wonderful instructions.  HINT:  start  on the right side of her blog, scroll down to the Blog Archive and select September 2009, just work your way through from day one!

More to come this weekend, so check back!  I will be uploading some more fun paper piecing patterns for PPP, should be up by Sunday at the latest! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Reflections In The Canning Kettle

Reflections in the canning kettle

I learned to can as a little girl in my grandmother's kitchen.  We shared pleasant conversations about all the goings on in the world at the time and she would patiently and methodically work through what ever fruit she was canning.  There was always something that I could help with and she would tie one of her aprons around my waist as we would get underway.  She never whipped out a recipe book, she just knew how to do it.  So calm in her process, laughing, assigning me little was all great fun.  Showing me how she sieved the apples to make applesauce, how she measured the sugar carefully, how she worked the fruit over to make sure that only the very best was going into the recipe.  I watched as she carefully wiped the rims of the jars before she screwed on the lids, so many little things that you just absorb over time, watching year in, year out.  My mother, for me, had a frenetic energy and since I was a kid with my own frenetic energy...we kind of clashed, but with Gram, I always felt calm and wanted to learn everything she knew.  I wanted to hear all of her stories, even if I had heard them hundreds of times before.  She was an amazing story teller.  Every time I can, to this day, I am reminded of those sweet times we shared together, of how much she taught me, not just about canning but about life in general.

Gram, as we called her, was born in Sheffield, England.  She told a story about a sign her dad saw shortly after the 1906 earth quake in San Francisco.  They desperately needed plumbers and skilled labor to rebuild the city.  And so Great Grandpa Desmond came to America and shortly sent for his family.  They lived in Oakland for a bit and one day took a buggy ride to the Merced area, fell in love with it and moved there.  Gram was an only child, her father leased out irrigation equipment to folks in the valley, he would come with his pipes and set up to irrigate their fields.  Later he went to work for Standard Oil.  

Gram married a man much older than she, they moved away to Paso Robles and she had two daughters during the Great Depression Era.  The marriage did not work out and she found herself divorced with two young girls.  She, along with many women during that time, learned to be very frugal.  Those things that we take for granted...a jar of jelly, were a luxury.  Sugar was hard to come by.  Gram did what she needed to in order to get by, she took in boarders, she mended and ironed clothes and worked in a dress shop.  She eventually remarried and moved to Sonoma.  Our Pop was the only grandfather that I ever knew.  He adored her and they were a beautiful example to me.  Married over 50 years!  And both lived well into their 90's.

Back to the lessons of canning.  I was taught not to waste.  If you had an abundance of fruit, you would put some by for winter time.  Jellies, Jams, Canned Fruit, Sauces, Pie Fillings...they would all serve as a source of security if times got hard.  Along with your beans and rice, you would always have a little fruit put up.   The jars once emptied, were carefully saved for the next seasons harvest.  

Fresh Ripe Bing Cherries

So this week I was given a large box of beautiful, perfectly ripe sweet Bing cherries!  My weekend was laid out for me.  Now, where did I put that cherry stoner???  I know I have one!  Frantic rummaging through cupboards, finally...Success!  I mean, you could remove the stones without a cherry stoner, but you might be there a month of Sundays and have your fingers cut and black from the process...LOL.  John was fascinated by the cherry stoner and so I put him to work, pitting the cherries.  I need 2 quarts pitted for this recipe honey!

Some people like their jam smooth, or even prefer jelly.  I am not one of those, I like to see the fruit in the jam.  Some of the cherries were left whole and most were cut in half.  It's a simple recipe really.

2 quarts pitted cherries (cut in half)
1 pkg MCP pectin or Sure Jell
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp butter
7 cups of sugar.

Mix the fruit, pectin, lemon juice and butter in a large non reactive pan.  Bring to a full rolling boil ( a boil that cannot be stirred down) Add your sugar and bring to a full rolling boil again, boiling it for 1 minute at sea level, 2 minutes at 1000-3000 ft, and 5 minutes over that.  Ladle into clean jars and seal.  

What you get is a jeweled jar bounty!  Waiting quietly in your cupboard for that cold rainy winter day.  Waiting to be spread on a piece of hot homemade bread, freshly toasted.  Mmmmm.  Yes, it's worth the effort!  So tie on your apron, organize your canning supplies, calmly and methodically put up your abundance.  You are creating space for summer in the dead of winter and you, my friend, will be well rewarded for your efforts.

Be sure to write what you canned on the lid with a permanent marker, along with the month and year...this way, you can rotate your canned goods and you will know at a glance, is that Boysenberry or Cherry Jam?

Well, of course, I had to make a fresh cherry pie tonight, so I am off now to have a piece with my husband and watch a little TV together.  Tomorrow I might have to make some french vanilla ice cream to go with this!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Whimseys

Ruched Happy Bag
Been staying close to home, caring for my husband.  We will be heading down the hill to see the doctor tomorrow for the second post op visit after his emergency eye surgery last weekend.  So, keeping myself busy with some fun projects.  First, this little Ruched Happy Bag.  I have made lots of these.  The pattern is by Amy Friend, you can visit her website at

Then it was on to some BOM's that I am a little behind on.  First one is a block for the Vintage Block Quilt Along hosted by Charise at  The patterns are free and although they make look easy, I guarantee you they are a bit challenging.

Daisy Block #7

Crazy Anne Block #6

I finished the quilt top for my Saturdays Charms Quilt...which is a pattern that is from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  If you look back in my blog a couple entries, you will see the video that demonstrates this fun and easy quilt top.  Next, shop for border fabric, backing and binding.

My husband has called dibs on this one, he loves it...go figure.  

Then another block for the Perfect Paper Piecing group...this will be our June Block.  I am not crazy about how this photos, not enough contrast, but it looks rich in the quilt.  I will make another in the other colorway I am working, which I think will more effectively show off this block.   But I think it's important to show you what is working and not working so that you can make choices for your block that will work for you!

Circling Geese

This is the current block for the Sugar Block Club 2013 which is called Home Sweet Home.  This BOM is being hosted by Amy Gibson at  There is a nominal fee, under $10. for the year and you have access to all of her blocks for this year.  All of my blocks will have the same white background, then they will vary in shades of turquoise and gray.    Each block has a bit of a story or theme for me.  This one...which came first the bird or the egg?  

Home Sweet Home

And this little scrappy potholder, which will be for work.  We have an old beat up one that we use with the sterilizer when it's too hot, this will work just fine with insulated heat resistant batting, and it will gussy up the place.

I got the idea for this potholder from a new book I just downloaded from Kindle.  Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks.  

If you have wanted to make a quilt, or a potholder, or a table runner...and you don't know how to quilt and you need to start with something easy.  If you don't want to make your grandmother's sampler quilt.   If you like the modern aesthetic, this is a book you should get.  So very easy, and such pretty results.  She gives you the nudge and let's you explore your own creativity.  Well Done!   

Well, you can see that I have a rather eclectic bunch of projects going...LOL.  Ah, isn't that the way of a quilter?  One day you feel traditional, another modern, who says you can't have it all?!