Sunday, September 18, 2011


My fellow choir member Mary runs a farm, and she regularly offers eggs to fellow choir members. Today I brought home two dozen. She has a variety of chickens, hence the variety of egg colors.

Did you know that the color of egg depends on the variety of hen that lays it? My absolute favorite is the pretty blue-green egg laid by the Ameraucana. (There is no difference in taste, though!)

 Today she brought me a rainbow of eggs -- blue, blue/green, white, brown, pinkish-brown.

Thanks, Mary!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dia de los Animales

I couldn't wait to post this photo. I bought the fabric for this quilt two years ago or so, and "discovered" it in my stash a year ago. I designed and made the quilt top and sent it to my sister Pat, who quilted it for me "freestyle" using her neighbor Deb's longarm machine. I am so very thrilled with how it turned out!

The fabric is from a line called "Folklorica" by children's book illustrator Julie Paschkis. Unfortunately the fabric is no longer available (unless you're fortunate enough to find it on eBay or elsewhere).

I named the quilt "Dia de los Animales," or "Day of the Animals," because the fabric reminds me of the wonderful textiles celebrating the Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos," or "Day of the Dead."

This isn't the best photo, but at least you can see the way I used the fabrics. There was a large panel which I cut into different elements, a really lovely border, and several blenders. I love the result! Thanks, Patsy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I had a long talk with Ted recently, seriously discussing my concern with my lack of creativity. He suggested that I follow my own advice and take one small step. So last night I rummaged through my UFOs (unfinished quilting objects) and discovered a pretty quilt that I pieced sometime last year, and it was already basted. Last night I quilted it, and today I bound, labeled, and washed it.

It is an incredibly simple four-patch on white using 30s fabrics. The size is just smaller than twin. For obvious reasons I've called it "Simplicity."

I particularly like the binding, a pastel stripe with which I made bias strips. It perfectly complements the 30s fabrics.
At this moment I am washing yet a second completed quilt that I call "Dia de los Animales." It is a fabulous quilt that I designed and pieced, and my sister Pat quilted. I finally found time (and the creative spirit!) to bind, label, and wash it today. I will take a photo within the next day or two to share. It's incredibly beautiful, and the complete opposite of "Simplicity" in its style and color.

So Ted was right -- I took a single step that led me to yet another, and within a 24 hour period I have TWO quilts completed! YAY ME!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Housewarming Gifts

Yes, I know it's been ages, but my job has sapped me of my creative energy. (insert frowny face)

Ironically, it was my job (in a way, at least) that spurred a flurry of creativity this week. One of my bosses has moved into a new house and tonight is his housewarming party. I can't go empty handed, so I thought up a clever gift to present to him and his wife.

One of my favorite films is "It's a Wonderful Life." I'm sure you recall the scene where Mary Baily presents the Martini family three gifts. (I'm paraphrasing) " Bread that you may never know hunger; salt that your life may always have flavor; and wine that you may always have joy."

I created a card with those words:
The image is from Dover Publications and I used one of my favorite fonts, Albermarle, by Fontcraft. I printed the image onto watercolor paper and colored it in with watercolor pencils and then used a wet brush to activate the watercolor pencils. It turned out quite well, I think.

Then I assembled a gift basket with those three things. I baked a loaf of white sandwich bread, hand-mixed exotic salts (Pacific black and red sea salt, Atlantic white sea salt) in a nice crockery container, and added a bottle of Vineyard Tears white wine from my favorite Michigan winery, Round Barn in Baroda.

I know that Bryon and Jenn will appreciate not only the contents of the basket, but also the effort that went into making the gift!

Meanwhile, I still hope to get back to podcasting. If nothing else, I'll post projects here on my blog so you don't forget me!

Oh -- and excitement of excitements! Today when I was at my market buying the wine, I discovered that Honey Crisp apples are in season! Callooh callay!

'Til later (I hope not much later!),

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teddy's Knitting Has Far Surpassed Mine!

Teddy was home this past week on "spring" break, and while home he finished this scarf for a female friend of his. He was inspired by a scarf he saw somewhere, but this is his own design. The scarf is about six feet in length.Yarn is a super chunky wool in cerulean (the iPhone photo doesn't do it justice).

Good job, Teddy! I'm putting my order in for fingerless gloves in avocado green!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Day! Quilting a Little Gem

I had an unexpected snow day today and accomplished a lot with the gift of time. Ted and I reorganized my sewing room to accommodate the treasures that my sister-in-law Michelle gave me Friday. I designed and printed the label for Piper Floriana's baby quilt.

When I make a quilt label I prepare fabric with Bubble Jet Set 2000, a liquid that makes regular fabric printable so that the ink doesn't wash out. Then I ironed the prepared fabric to freezer paper cut to fit my color ink-jet printer.

The prepared fabric sheet was 8.5 x 11 inches, and the label was only 4.5 x 3.5 or so, and I didn't want to waste all that space. I found an old image from a 19th century fairy tale book and pulled it into my computer program and printed it alongside the quilt label. I added a couple of borders to enhance the image.

Here is the resulting quilt. This finished gem of a quilt is about 10 x 12 inches, and it's embellished with Swarovski crystals and a variety of decorative threads. Not a bad accomplishment for a snowy afternoon! (and it's snowing yet again as I type this!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Babies Cause Creativity!

One of my recent blog posts included a photo of the cute little hat I knit my new grand-niece Riley Rose. Well, just two days ago I had yet another grand-niece, Piper Floriane --  nephew Adam and niece-in-law Kara's first baby. I started to knit a hat for her, too, but ended up ripping the stitches out three times. There's either something wrong with the pattern, or something wrong with me! (Hmmm, I wonder which it could be!)

If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you know that my wonderful sister-in-law Michelle stopped by yesterday with her SUV loaded with quilting supplies, from entire bolts of batiks to yardage of first-quality quilting fabric, and all sorts of quilting supplies, books, and patterns. (She and my brother are moving to a condo in Florida and she simply hasn't the room to store her enormous stash of quilting treasures! -- I suggested that they buy a second condo just for their hobbies and arts!)

She had one package of fabric all ready to be made into a quilt, including the book containing the pattern. The fabric is called Vintage Alphabet by Michael Miller fabrics, and the pattern is from the book "Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts" by Mary Hickey (page 60 -- and the fabric is identical to the quilt from the book). Click this link to buy the book on Amazon: Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts If you're looking for easy, cute quilts to make in a day or two for that new baby in your life, definitely buy this book! Unfortunately the fabric is discontinued (it was produced in 2002-2003).

Here is my quilt -- it took just several hours to make, including machine quilting --  easily a one-day project. It's about 33 x 33 inches square, perfect for a lap blanket in the stroller.

The fabric is so charming -- I love using the Snowball quilt block to showcase "conversation" prints. And here is the back showing the quilting -- nothing fancy, just functional!

I'm working on a podcast for February -- this time it'll feature a paper project for sure, and maybe a fiber arts project. 

My Big Podcast Project for April is at my sister Patsy's for long-arm quilting. I'm so excited about the April podcast -- it'll feature an original quilt, a moving story, a history lesson, and a song or two, all rolled into one.

My thought for the day: If you're not feeling particularly creative, find someone who has a new baby -- talk about a creative muse! I feel so blessed to have these two little beauties in my life! Riley Rose and Piper Floriane, thanks so much for the inspiration!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Bonus Recipe: Ruthann's Blue Cheese Dressing

I just had to share this fantastic recipe I developed today (after a shortened day of work when our roof caved in!). Unfortunately I ate the salad so fast that I couldn't capture a photo, so you'll just have to imagine it.

The recipe is quick and easy, and is by far the best blue cheese dressing I've ever had. The addition of garlic and cayenne pepper help to even out the sweetness of some homemade blue cheese dressings.

Oh my goodness, I think I need yet a THIRD helping!

If you're worried about fat content, use low-fat mayonnaise and sour cream; you can also use a sugar substitute, such as Splenda. (Although I always use The Real Thing!)

Here it is:

Ruthann's Blue Cheese Dressing
  •        1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
  •        1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  •        1 large clove garlic
  •        ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  •        ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  •        ½ teaspoon table salt
  •        1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •        ½ cup mayonnaise (I make my own mayonnaise)
  •        ½ cup sour cream
  •        ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (I used Maytag)
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until creamy. Thin with a bit of milk if necessary.
Serve over a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with very thin slivers of sweet red onion, pineapple, and more crumbled blue cheese.

I dare you to eat just one helping! YUM!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

And With February Came CREATIVITY!

February is usually my least favorite month of the year, and I've often been thankful that it is the shortest.

Interestingly, this February dawned with a spark of the creative flame I've been missing since June.

Just this week I've completed two quilt tops and a skirt.

Here is the first quilt top, which is called "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," and is dedicated to my Great-great Grandfather, John Emsch, who served and died in the American Civil War. I will offer this quilt pattern and a story (and one or two songs) in my April podcast.

My "little sister" Patsy (who is actually older, but is tinier than I am, hence "little") is quilting both of the tops I completed this week. Her neighbor, Deb, has a longarm machine that she allows Patsy to use -- wouldn't you like a neighbor like that?!?

I haven't taken a photo of the second top I completed yet -- maybe I'll take one before I send it to Patsy. I bought the fabric a year ago and when I was cleaning my sewing room this week I discovered the shopping bag! It was like a little gift! I had forgotten all about it. The fabric is called Folklorica, and was designed by noted children's book illustrator Julie Pachkis. I adored this fabric and couldn't stop myself from buying every fabric in the line. The quilt top I made (my original design) is fairly straightforward, and features the various fabrics. Yes, I promise to take a photo to share! Sadly, the line is no longer available. [Insert sad face!]

Anyway, I wanted to share with everyone that somehow, this bleakest of winter months (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) has sparked just a bit of creativity in my soul!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Baby!

We have a new baby in the family. My beautiful niece Christy Lee just gave birth to Riley Rose. She, husband Nick, and Big Brother Brady are thrilled to have a sweet little princess in the family!

I made Riley Rose a cute little hat using a kit by Debby Ware. The hat I made is called "Scrumptious Squiggle Beanie," although I added different embellishments than the pattern. Click this link to buy the pattern: Scrumptious Squiggle Beanie Pattern

This hat was super easy to make, and I know I'll be making more as gifts (another baby is due SOON!).


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Podcast 20 - "A Single Step"

Total length of this podcast: 29:56

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 020. Right-click on the link to save it to your hard drive, or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe via iTunes or PodBean using one of the links on the right side of my blog.

Special thanks to this episode's sponsor, Valerie Swain Moss of Pastimes Online. Click the image below to visit her Web site, where you'll find blocks of the month, classes, fabrics, patterns, kits, and much more! Thanks, Valerie!
My Surgery Update
While I'm recovering quite well physically, I've had a few memory problems stemming from undergoing general anesthesia. Have you had memory loss after undergoing general anesthesia? You are not alone! CLICK HERE for information.

Craftication in San Diego!
The full moon setting over my sister's swimming pool.

The guest house on my sister's estate

A photo taken at Balboa Park --
I love how you can see the spiral staircase in the steeple.

Huzzah! Teddy is now a knitter!
A cowl and hat he made for his room mate,
the green scarf he made as a surprise for me, and a really cool "sunflower" hat
 Here's a close-up of the sunflower hat. I love the detail.

Teddy's knitting has inspired me to begin knitting again. 
I've gone crazy for hats! I'm donating several of these to charity. 
The blue and yellow was my first -- I since learned to do a rib stitch 
at the bottom because stockinette rolls.


Click the image below to open the next of my Audubon redwork series, the White-Throated Sparrow.

Click the image below to open the free project sheet for my Jeweled Bookmarks.
And remember . . .
every adventure begins
with a single step.