Homespun Gathering

Monday, October 31, 2016

All Done

Oh my goodness, y'all.  The weather is still crazy.  We got a smidgen (little) rain a couple Saturday mornings ago, but that has been it.  The temps were back in the mid 80s today, and it will be a little hotter tomorrow.  There is very little chance of rain in the foreseeable future.  So how do I see this as a blessing?  I have never had dry weather this long this early and dry weather is ideal for making marshmallows and springerle!  Looks like I'll be able to get started early this year. :-)

I'm thrilled to say that I'm finished with my version of Love Never Fails.   It will be going to the framer this week.  She always picks out the most perfect frame.

I'm now looking forward to finishing up the piecing of the quilt, basting the sandwich together and then the quilting portion.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Happy Birthday

Every year in October the weather begins to cool, days shorten, and our son turns another year older and wiser.  This year he is 17.  Each year I ask him what kind of cake he would like me to make for him.  This year he had no particular desire and turned it completely over to me.  Really :-) !?!  It didn't take long for me to decide on an Autumn Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Our DS's evening began with dinner at a local restaurant.  I figured he would rather eat something fun instead of what I thought was good for him.  How right I was.  He eventually settled on fried chicken and waffles.

After frosting the cake I felt like it needed something.  Of course, SPRINKLES!  I chose dark chocolate chip.  Some of you probably don't know Ghiradelli makes dark chocolate sprinkles, but I love them a lot.  They are a great addition to my Giant Ginger Cookies.

Once we got home we sang Happy Birthday like goof balls and embarrassed our son before cutting the cake.  I think it was a winner.  A few years ago I stopped putting one candle on for each year.  I've grown to love the simplicity and ease of one candle.

I do believe I'm finally coming to the end of this cross stitch project.  I was getting all excited until I noticed something off as I stitched the flower above the man's hat.  Why was all that space there?

After checking the pattern I recognized mistake #574.  I had properly counted based on the wrong wing.  Guess what I'll be ripping out tonight.

In addition to ripping I think I'll fill in my lady's eyes.  She's looking so tired.

 Autumn has arrived, and I do believe the animals know.  The cat has been extra "kitteny"  the last few weeks, and the last few days the crows have been very squawky in the back yard trees and woods.

Even I have been getting a little squirrely.  I was making dinner the other night and found the very rare Bell Pepper Bird.  Isn't he cute?

Later on this evening . . . 

Well, I have officially ripped out the stitches on all the stars and my right thumb and index finger are now officially sore.  The hot tea I drank to keep me awake little longer has now worn off.  It appears the lady's eyes will have to be filled in tomorrow before mine close.

All the while Abigail's eyes were staring at me in shock and awe.  I know she was just wondering why I'm allowed to clip and scratch the linen, but she's quickly chastised.  Don't let the content look fool you.  She was all wide eyes when the camera wasn't around.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Break

I Can See Clearly Now

Fall Break has been a wonderful break from the full on focus since school started.  With nothing planned I decided to make an appt. with my former eye doctor at Sam's.  I didn't want to go anywhere else, but we were trying to work with the eye insurance we get with my husband's work.  The other insurance is pretty good, but the eye insurance options are few because of the size of the company my husband works for.  Onward and upward . . . we are back to our favorite doctor.  We are extremely happy with the level of care we are getting.  

Here is the fabulous part.  I have been held hostage by readers the last couple of years.  I thought I was just in the part of life where I was growing into an unwanted need for bifocals.  Turns out my nearsightedness was getting better in the last two years, but my prescription wasn't changing.  I had just gotten a couple of different pairs of reader sunglasses I loved.  Being able to read your RunKeeper app is important on the trail as is cross stitching or reading car gauges on a sunny day. 
(Enter appointment with correct Rx contacts)
Driving Home
 Oh, dear, why are the gauges all fuzzy through the bifocal?  Weird.   I was on my computer after the appt. for about 10 minutes when I realized I was reading the screen without readers.  Before this was impossible.  {insert Hallelujah Chorus}  The day after my appointment I knew I'd need new readers to stitch, so off to the Dollar Tree I went.  I purchased a selection of powers.  My doctor gave me the reader Rx when I went back in for the dilation Wednesday.  I had told her about my shopping trip so I could stitch again.  I had forgotten she's a stitcher too, so she gets it.  Y'all it just keeps getting better and better.

Yesterday, my husband and son had their appointments, and I can say without reservation we are extremely happy to be home with our trusted doctor of preference.

Baking Bread

Yes, that's right.  The cooler weather has me craving the baking process again.  My body gets really cranky when I eat it, but I have decided this little tidbit shouldn't stop me from enjoying a fun hobby.  My son has been thrilled with bread he hasn't had to fight me for, and I'm excited to be baking bread again and learning from the process.  The only sense I'm not using in the baking process is my sense of taste.

French Ciabatta Bread
the tighter crumb of this French Ciabatta

This no knead multi grain bread from Jenny Can Cook turned out wonderfully.  I have a dutch oven with a heat proof knob, but it can still be made with a couple of metal pans and binder clips.  A simple search of YouTube will provide better directions.  I'm pulling this one from the freezer tomorrow morning for Sunday School tomorrow.  Sorry, son. 

This is how I usually eat--fresh whole foods prepared by me.  I love colorful vegetables and a couple nights ago I sauteed them in my grandmother's cast iron pan.  This pan was brought as a gift (set of three) when one of my Grandfather's WWI (not a typo) buddies came to visit him in the early 1960s.  Mom inherited the set when my grandmother died, and now the largest pan blesses our home.

Speedy Delivery

This month I decided to put a few things in the cart.  I don't just begin Autumnal Nesting as Fall arrives.  As soon as cooler weather sets in I begin to crave miso soup.  This shiro miso was a flavor I came to absolutely adore during our three year Army tour in Japan in the late 1990s.  Now I can add it to many recipes to get my fix.  A little goes a long way, so this will last a while in my fridge--that and the salt content. 

Our son is in his junior year of high school and I'm beginning to prepare him for going off into the world without starving.  I thought this cookbook would be a good one to start with.  A single man would do better to know how confidently to cook dishes for two than dishes big enough to feed a family.  Not only does the recipe book come with pictures, but it tells why each recipe works.  This is right up my son's alley.  He loves that sort of knowlegey stuff.  I may not feel like letting this one go when he's ready to leave.  Fortunately, ATK recipe books aren't hard to replace.  I'll buy you a new one if you want it, son. 

I may have already mentioned before that my mom's mind is going as she is getting older.  It's time to start having her tell family stories and giving the rich history of the the family treasures.  My iPhone's microphone isn't the best for this, so here is my solution.  It even came with a little "coat" to cancel any wind noise that might occur if we are outside.  So far I'm loving it.

Run, Judy, Run!

Well, I suppose you can walk if you have to.

 It was time for the annual Go Commando (no, not that kind) 5K and Half Marathon.  The route and parking were new this year and both were needed and wonderful changes.  There was finally enough parking and the route was wide enough to run without feelings of claustrophobia.

It seems I can't stop using the word "run".  This year I actually walked it.  I haven't done the work to get strong enough to run again since my knees quit on me in June.  I put too many miles on me too quickly.  

Do you see the Three Amigos below.  We are crossing the finish line together.  The guy in the middle was my inspiration for the race this morning.  I pick someone I think I can run with (secret spy like) during every race.  Our quick walking pace was pretty close, so before getting to the finish line I looped back around, thanked him for being my encouragement today, and asked him if I could cross the finish line with him.  He graciously agreed.  I don't know the lady on his other side, but I'm pretty sure she didn't know either of us.  The camaraderie at a these races is amazing.  We all just want to have a good time whether we are walking or running.

having a great time 

My Iowa husband was practically giddy when he found out there was going to be Corn Hole at the race.

The warmer temperatures this years meant I wasn't bundled up in a running jacket and gloves.  
I'm Free!

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

She's Home!

That's right.  My quilt chest is home.  A couple of years ago I saw a antique mule chest online and fell in love with it.  I figured even if I could find one I'd never be able to afford it.
Oh contraire, mon frere! Several weeks ago my husband and I swung by a local shop that specializes in making furniture and other small wood items.  My husband agreed we could just go ahead and have something made, and this is what we came up with.

The inside of the drawers had to be a bare minimum of 40" to accommodate the new millennium frame my husband gave me for Christmas last year.  There is nothing worse than the bowing of most scroll frame types over a certain width.


As you can see, there is about 3" to spare.  I would love to cap the ends off with the bar parks.  Sadly, they are awaiting stock, and it's probably going to be a while.

I love the stain for the interior.
Look a little closer and you will see Carolyn in the shop signed and dated it.  I love this family, and I love this shop.  Click on the link for a taste of all the eye candy.  This new site is only about a month old, and they are building it a little at a time.  If you are curious about the variety of things they have to offer check out their FB page.  Yes, they ship! :-)
Abigail keeping an eye on the big red box as we figure out what to do with it.  I nixed the original furniture placement plan.
Both drawers have a job.  The bottom drawer will hold frames and misc. stitchy things.  The top drawer has been tasked with holding quilting tools.  Of course the chest portion will hold my current and antique quilts.  I'm letting the paint cure a little more before I put any type of decorations on it.  

There are a couple of drawbacks to the current placement of this chest.  The scale is a bit off with the Shaker shelf.  I think when I get some simple decorations up on the the chest that will  balance things. 
 The drawback that's really concerning me is the vent on the far side of the chest.  Yes, we have a diverter on it, but I'm considering modifying the diverter so no or almost no air is hitting the chest.
Sadly, this is the best solution right now in the entire house.
It's fall, y'all, and that means the cat is more than ready to be back outside again.  We live in the mid south, and this cat is only interested in going out in early morning or after sunset during the hot summer.  This year this was hotter than normal with double the days over 90 than average--80 some I think.  

Abigail was begging to go out this nice cool morning the other day.  Do you see the object of her affection prey in her sights?

Without her leash I'm pretty sure she'd be getting us some venison.

But not all animals are snacks to feed her hunting instinct.  They other night I came out to find her soft pawing this little guy.  He didn't see to mind and just sat there.  Huh?
Do you see him now?

Here's a better look.  Honestly!  I think they are friends.  I've seen them hanging out together two separate nights since the shadow boxing incident.  This is one patient critter.

Speaking of outdoors . . . our living room opens onto our back patio.  When we put the cat out at night during warm weather there are door prizes that come in when she comes back in.  Usually it's only a moth or two, but this particular night we must have gotten 20 or 30 of these little buggers.  Of course the first place they wanted to hang out was my Ott light and the stitching.  

I'm working on 32 count, and the insect on the cat I'm stitching is about the size of a full cross.
I killed about 15 of them before I met my match.  Mighty "Moth" had drunk way too many espressos, and I just couldn't catch him.  I'm sure he thought it was hilarious as he brought decoy flyers for me to take out before flying away.  Finally, I just turned off the light and put my stitching away.

I wanted to show you the progress I have made on the bottom of my current project.  As I write this the diamond "border" has been completely filled in.  Cats have been added to either side.  The flower centers have been filled and the leaves are all there.  There is a surprise all stitched under the cats, but you will have to wait for the full reveal.  I have decided to stitch our wedding date at the bottom of the heart.  I just didn't feel like messing with iStitch any longer--for a little while anyway.  Why iStitch?  Well, I'm not completely following the pattern.  [GASP]  It's really going to be okay.  I promise. :-)

The bride's eyes are nearly finished, and when filled in she will be done.  I'm a methodical stitcher and I like to use only one color in several places at a time, so DMC ### will just have to hang tight for now.  When my stitching tote gets messy I get a little crazy.  Crazy stitchers drop needles and run with scissors.  Don't let your stitching tote get messy.

I've made some progress since this shot, but you can see I'm getting close to the end.

Before I leave I just wanted to share a sweet story.  I teach Sunday School on Sunday in the same hallway I teach preschoolers during the week.  The preshooler I have on Sunday is in another preschool class during the week.  The last school day before Fall Break the Mom brought by these two beautiful roses.  Her son had wanted me to have them.  Her son has a lot of energy, but I can't help but love him to death.  I see his energy as a gift.  The Sunday before was a little more character building than typical as the result of another child I'm patiently working with.  But, this rose giving child seemed not to notice what was going on around him.  He DID notice all the fun he had and told his mom every detail.  This, my dear friends, is the grace of God.  What a blessing he is.  God is so good.

 I should tell you I am not a fan of roses or the smell that can give me a headache in larger bunches, but these roses have just melted my heart, and I love them.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chocolate Rye . . . Oh My

I love to cook with my preschoolers.  Since we were learning the letter "B" this week I decided to break out my Crockpot to bake in for the first time this year.  Usually we make a yeast bread, but this year we made Banana Bread.

When we make bread I always have the kiddos make butter with me.  I was in kindergarten when I made butter for the first time.  My teacher gave each one of her students a small glass baby food jar with some cream.  I'm pretty sure Mrs. Handly would approve of my plastic bottle. :-)   I empty a 16 oz. water bottle into my coffee maker for cup #2 and then fill it halfway with cream and a pinch of salt before transporting to school.  I learned the first year 3/4 of the way doesn't give the cream enough room to move around and actually make butter.  We shook that bottle a while.  When the time is right I take the bottle out of my chill bag and we give each child a turn (or two) to shake the bottle really hard.  I usually finish it off.  The butter is done when the butter solids completely separate from the buttermilk.  There will be a hard ball of butter sloshing around in the buttermilk.

The best part of making butter is the buttermilk byproduct.  Because it's still fresh the buttermilk tastes like sweet milk.  Most of the kids are so excited to try it, and I have at least one every year try it even though they're scared and realize how good it is.  Buttermilk in stores has already been cultured, but ours never is, so it's much more palatable to a preschooler.
Chocolate Rye Bread
Progress continues on Love Never Fails.  I have fixed the bottom and am now filling in the diamonds.
The original bottom center read "LOVE".  I have free handed my last name in there.  That was either bold or foolish considering how many mistakes I have already made using the pattern.  I'm happy to say things worked out.
The dress is nearly finished.  School started nearly a month ago, and stitching has been mostly ignored.  I think I just need to force myself to stitch an hour a day whether I feel like it or not.  I'm hoping to have this piece finished by the Homespun Gathering in a couple of weeks.  That's probably very ambitious, but if I'm not done the goal will have gotten me closer than I might have been otherwise.
I have been looking for a replacement coffee mug for several years.  I bought two stoneware cups from Target around 8-10 years ago--one blue, one green.  Of course there are others in the cabinets, but these were stoneware, felt great, looked great, and were the perfect size.  In general, the others are ignored.   The blue cup's handle finally broke off a several years ago, so I was down to the green.  First, it developed crazing.  Then, there was a tiny hairline crack developing along the side.  From time to time, as I'm drinking one of my many cups, I hear the sounds of the crack lengthening. 

Finally, a our church's choir Christmas (German themed) dinner arrived.  We hear and receive the music we will sing at Christmas.  This dinner, a couple of weeks ago, got me to thinking.  I could use a beer stein for my coffee.  We don't drink anything stronger than coffee in my house, but vessels are fair game.  A little surfing later I came up with this beauty of a beer mug, and I'm totally in love.  It feels fabulous in hand.  It was made by hand.  It can be microwaved or placed into the dishwasher.  The best part of the mug is its 20 oz. size.  I get a full 16 oz. of coffee and there is still enough room for milk if I'm not using cream. :-)  I'm strongly considering the 32 oz. size for the ice when I make iced coffee.    This mug has been such a blessing and a gift. :-)

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mondo Bag

Today I packed my bags and headed to the quilt shop.  This month's Bag Ladies class taught the Mondo Bag.  My stitching speed was in the top 10% of the class before lunch, but after Sewing Fatigue set in, and I was drawing on my ability to put my nose to the grind stone and get each step completed.  In the south we say "getterdun", and I did.  Class was from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00, and I finished up around 5:30.  Some left without completing the bag, but our teacher told us she would stay until we had all gone.  God bless her!  There were a couple of other ladies still sewing away when I left, so I didn't feel so bad.
the lining with sneak peek of inner pocket

A closer look at the outside of the bag

All done. :-)

 My husband and I lived in Japan for three years.  We came home with an 8 month old and good friends I thought I may never see again.  I am happy to say after 16 years I was able to reunite with one of those friends, and this week she taught me how to make a beautiful Mondo Bag.  I can't tell you how blessed I feel to have that connection again.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.



Thursday, August 11, 2016

First Birthday

It has been one year, this week, since I started this blog.  I've enjoyed getting to know you as I share my heart.  I've heard it said that some bloggers blog as a way to chronicle their personal life journeys.  I believe that is what this blog is for me, but I do enjoy sharing my life with those around the world who might also love the same things I do.  For all of you who have commented and become followers I want to say, "thank you".  I really do cherish you.

Before we update you on my quilting progress I do want to share some stitching progress.   The dressmaker has arrived and she's done fabulous work.  We decided the indigo dress was appropriate to the time period of the 1850s and matched the indigo jacket worn by Mr. Halland House.  Yes, this is a wedding sampler to retire the original stitched in 1999.
"Love Never Fails"
Last Saturday a friend and I went to our local Farmer's Market.  It was fun seeing friends in their booths and grabbing some produce.  The last time I was there I got some raw honey.  This time I got a sampler of local cave aged cheese.  I was blown away by the mildness of the jalapeno gouda.  The maker said the raw milk is left alone, but the jalapenos have to be boiled before adding to the cheese.  This reduces the heat significantly.  How significantly?  Her four year old can eat the cheese.  That's mild.  If you live in the States and have never had raw milk cheese this is a treat.  The closest I have ever tasted in complexity is Kerry Gold cheddar.  I think it comes from a similar grass fed diet.  I'm waiting to open these until I can bake some bread from a special recipe I have.  I know it will be heaven. 
After getting back from the market I talked my husband into taking me to our local quilt shop for the first time.  I was quite surprised by all the incredible farmland beauty on the second half of our trip.  We had been there a while before realizing there was no service for either one of us.  Our son now has the number to the quilt shop.  While there I signed up for a Mondo Bag class, got some fabric strips and other important bag items.  One of the shop ladies was the wife of our former Singles Minister at church.  He's been the senior pastor of a local church for nearly 20 years now, and I hadn't seen this sweet woman for almost the same length of time.  

I'm not afraid of asking for help and definitely needed some on the triangle sections of the border.  She graciously helped me.
OH, that's how I lay that out.
While I was in the quilt shop my husband shopped the Farmer's Market next door.  This is a tiny town and there was plenty of room in the open area next to the shop.  We couldn't help but browse through the antique shop across the street.  Tempting treasures included wooden shoes, firkins, a speculaas mold, a mule chest, and on and on.

All that antiquing made my husband hungry, so off to a barbecue (smoked meat) we went in that same block.  The food was good, and what's not to love about iced tea served in a canning jar.  It's a southern thing.

Wednesday I made it down to the quilt shop to prep my Mondo bag for the class on Saturday.  I need to iron the squares onto the glue dot fabric, but there will be four sections just like the one below. I can't wait to see this one through. 

As promised I want to update you on quilting progress.  Last week I dug back into the quilt knowing I would start school this week.  There is always a lot of preparation before the kiddos get there.  I was all set to cut out my last group of strip sets for the checkerboard blocks.  The iced coffee would keep my eyes open and my mind sharp.  I really love listening to the Alex Anderson podcast as I work on all things quilty.  
I wanted to sew through these quickly, so I piled the 5 square strips in order of sewing for the 25 patch blocks.
I think Abigail is less interested in being my quilt companion, but she will come in if she thinks there is a bug or blue tailed skink.  They've been really bad this year, but I can't help but think the woods behind us make things worse.
I'm really wanting to iron and square up the blocks, but I think I wait until I head to the quilt shop on Saturday and ask how I'm supposed to iron these seams before I make things hard on myself.  
I put the Audible app on my phone last week, and have been listening to my favorite quilting series--in order this time.  Jennifer Chiaverini is a very talented author, and I can highly recommend her books.

Second book in the story's chronological order 

I could no longer wait to see the quilt so I spread 49 of 80 navy and cream blocks on my bed.  This will be a huge accomplishment when complete.  I feel so blessed to have attempted something that stretches me and the determination to see it through. 

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.