Thursday, December 30, 2010


 This is a machine embroidered quilt that my mother and I made. Each of the machine embroidered dogs is different. I found the cute puppy material to put between the blocks.
 Some more details of some of the embroidery work done. Also, if you look closely, you can see some of the quilting. It is not clear here, but the quilting pattern is dachshunds.
 In this photo, you can see the back end of one of the dachshunds on the quilting pattern and the front of another dachshund.  It is a continuous line pattern that I saw in a book and drew it out on a long piece of paper off a fax machine roll. I drew enough to put on the quilting machine for tracing onto the quilt.

 More embroidery detail plus you can see more of the dogs printed on the fabric I used around my embroidered blocks.
I made these pillow cases to match the quilt. The bottom of the case is the backing fabric that I used on the quilt.  I gave this quilt to my husband's brother Geary and his wife, Vernetta. They own a kennel called "Show-me puppies". I didn't get a photo of it, but I quilted that name across the top of the quilt before I started quilting the rows of the dachshunds.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GRANDMOTHER'S SEWING ROOM: Christmas bookmarks

Here are a couple of the bookmarks I made for Christmas. If you look closely, you can see both the wash-away stabilizer and the tulle I used as an extra stabilizer for this FSL (free standing lace) project. The wash-away stabilizer on the top bookmark has been washed away, but the tulle is still there to help keep the bookmark together.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: State Fair by Earlene Fowler

I just finished reading State Fair. It is the latest of the Benni Harper mysteries written by Earlene Fowler. Benni Harper is the curator of a folk art museum in California, so the books have wonderful crafty elements in them. As a matter of fact, all the names of the books are names of quilt blocks and, of course, there are quilts in the story!  In 'State Fair", the quilts are on display at the state fair. In this story, one of the quilts is stolen from the fair exhibit and wrapped around a murder victim.. (aahhh!!  I know, quilt sacrilege!)

Benni is married to the local sheriff, who frowns on her exploits! I just love all these books: there is no foul language nor any explicit sex scenes.  Benni is very family oriented, living close to her father and grandmother and cousin. I really enjoy these wonderful books and wouldn't think twice about having my children read them!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


 I have been a member of the Calico Cabin Quilter's Sew-ciety for about ten years or so now.  I have been president for almost two years. We will vote again in February, where I will step down to give someone else a chance to be president.  Sometimes I didn't follow protocol (forgetting to call for a motion), and sometimes I'd forget things or make the wrong copies, but through it all the gals have been wonderful!  I wanted to make them all a gift since they've put up with me for so long. hehe

I have a Janome 200E embroidery machine. I absolutely LOVE it!  It has a 7x7 hoop but only does about a 5 1/2 square design. I would eventually like to get a larger one, but need to use this for a while first.  I bought this last year from Gamill Sewing Center in West Plains. I love working with them: the staff are so friendly and helpful!

When I bought my machine, my mother bought me a set of machine embroidery thread for my birthday. She ordered them through Designs by Sick. (Terrible name but great deal on the threads!! PLUS this is also where I got the patterns for these ornaments).

 FSL stands for "Free Standing Lace".  These are actually embroidery designs that are not on anything.
Well, they start out on a plastic paper that is water soluble: after the design is finished, you run it under hot water and the plastic melts away leaving only the embroidered lace ornament.  On some of these, I put tulle between two layers of the melt away plastic. When the plastic was washed off, the tulle helped give support to the design.  On some I left the tulle out, because they are called Free Standing Lace, after all.  I think I will just 'eyeball' the designs from now on and if there is a lot of 'space' in the ornament, I will use the tulle. If it is a pretty filled design (as in the calico cabin ornament above), I will not add the tulle.

The snowflake here has the plastic still in it: If you look at the stocking and the angel, you can see the tulle in the design.

Some of the tulle tears off easily. Some needs to be cut off the design,but be careful because you might slip and accidentally cut some of the design.  I was actually bold enough to 'test' the tulle before I bought it. At Wal-Mart (yes, our local Wal-Mart still sells material!! Yay!), I found the light color I wanted and pulled a bit on the corners and bought the one that tore most easily.

Wanda, one of the wonderful people from Gammil's, has a burning tool that she uses along the edges of her FSL projects, which burns the tulle and leaves a nice clean edge. I hope she is able to find one for me! (They were out of stock and she was trying!).

I passed all these out at my last Quilter's Sew-ciety meeting: I sure hope the gals like them!!  Now, I need to make some for myself! (My ornaments are buried deep in the remodeling mess, and I doubt I get to them in time to decorate my tree this year.)  I'm sad about not being able to get to all my decorations, but am excited about my new family room!! Guess I'll need to add a "Grandmother's House" feature to my blog!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


 I decided to have a fun baking day, so I dug out my Christmas cast iron. I have a santa cookie (or muffin) mold and I have a sleigh full of toys cookie mold.
I decided to make shortbread:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp homemade vanilla (or store bought if you must)
2 - 2 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt.  If dough is too sticky, add more flour.
It had been a while since I had used these pans, so I decided to make sure they were well seasoned.  As you can tell by the photo to the right, I seasoned the outside as well as the inside of these pans -- this not only helps keep things from sticking, but also helps prevent rust on your molds.  I used crisco shortening to slather all over the pans.  I then place in a low oven for an hour or two right side up.  The molds will catch much of the melted shortening in the shapes and prevent much of it from dripping into the oven.  After an hour or so, I take out and tip the pans around to distribute more of the melted shortening around the mold interior, making sure each crevice is well oiled.  I then invert on paper toweling to drain as they cool. 
Notice how thick I've put Crisco on my sleigh full of
toys! Oil will not work as it tends to leave a sticky residue on the molds.
I made my cookie dough while my molds were cooling off from the pre-seasoning treatment.

**Make sure to use real butter: that is what gives shortbread its buttery goodness!  I only use Crisco for seasoning my pans.

When ready to use, oil the pan with a pastry brush and vegetable oil, then flour it well. Make sure all the nicks and crannies have been well greased and floured.

Take a fork and prick all of the cookies in the mold. This helps prevent it from rising by releasing air from the dough as it bakes. You do not want this to rise. The flat top (which is really the bottom when inverted) is essential especially when you are ready to decorate the cookies.

Bake at 325*F for 20 to 30 minutes (or more, depending on your mold) until slightly browned. 
Once you take them out of the oven, let them set about 5 minutes. THEN you need to take a knife and go around the whole edge of EACH COOKIE!! If you miss one, that will be the one to break when you invert them.  Another thing to help prevent breakage is to put the cooling rack on top of the cookie mold and invert together. This keeps the cookies from falling out and breaking.  Once inverted, gently lift the mold away from the shortbread and allow to cool.  This would be the time to prepare the frosting, or to just keep making cookies to prepare for a marathon decorating day.

I cannot say "Here's the finished product" because they still need decorating (although many shortbread pans are a decoration in themselves: no frosting required). I made these with decorating in mind.
Sadly, they did not last long enough to decorate.
My husband moaned and groaned with each bite of most of the cookies about how they were not sweet enough to suit him. I admit, these are NOT sweet: they are a shortbread, full of buttery goodness!  I will have to make some sugar cookies next time. Maybe they will last long enough to decorate. If so, I'll post it!


 I'm just embroidering on cloth pre-folded diapers to make them a little more special. That's what we use for 'burp rags' anyway. I think this makes them look more like a burp rag and less like a diaper.

This one is applique for the monogram K and embroidery for the rest of her name.

Monday, December 6, 2010

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: The Parable of the Chocolate Chips by Sharon Larsen

This is the sweetest book about a kingdom that cannot eat chocolate: it is very bad! The story tells how it is slowly infiltrated into the lives of the people in such tiny steps that it was hardly noticeable, and before long, chocolate was a common confection.
Sharon Larsen is NOT trying to say that chocolate is bad!  She has written a wonderful parable in which  evil or sin is represented by chocolate.  It starts out as chocolate chips -- after all, there's hardly any chocolate in the cookies.. and before long , there is chocolate cake and eclairs! Pretty soon things that were once taboo have become acceptable practice. It reminds me of how immodesty crept it's way into television.  I remember some of the first bra commercials.  There was a black mannequin and a white bra. And we thought, "Yuck, who wants to see a bra commercial?!"  Soon after that, a model was in the commercial wearing a bra over a black turtle neck T-shirt. Then it didn't take long until she was modeling the bra without the shirt under it: and we see a LOT more than that now!  It didn't happen over night, but was a gradual thing where just a little was done until it became common, then a little more, then a little more. It is just a beautifully written little book that teaches a wonderful lesson -- to beware of the little sins because they grows and grows until they are out of control.