The best is yet to come - happy new year:

Restored optimism:  I like the ring of this and that's how I'm starting the new year. 

I am optimistic that I can:
be realistic, yet optimistic
being creative
even if I
am the only one who enjoys
why I choose a particular
or color
or draw a distorted face
and love it's smirk
or scowl
or feelings of pain and tears.

I am optimistic that I can:
be me
and express myself
and color outside the lines
and think outside the box
write without lines on my tablet
when the words fall off the page
or get lost in translation

I am optimistic that I can:
wake up each morning with restored optimism

and look forward to this day and every day that follows

Candied Orange or Lemon Peel - A Recipe

So Good!

In fruit cake or dipped in chocolate or just eaten as is! 

I made a fruit cake for the Christmas holidays - nope, not even one picture was taken before it was sliced and eaten!  Darn me!

But the fruit cake recipe called for a slice of orange peel???  Now what!  I scoured all my Louisiana cookbooks - found lots of ways to make jambalaya and gumbo....lots of recipes for pecan and sweet potato pies - and how to make a roux....boy did I learn everything I ever needed to know about making a roux.... and then.....eureka!  In one of my oldest cookbooks  - Looking at Cooking with Mildred Swift - there it was....the recipe.  Older.....local.....folks will certainly remember this cooking and gardening legend and probably have her cook book on the shelf.  If you do, pull it out to page 226.  And the uncooked fruit cake recipe is on page 155. 

Candied Orange Peel

Peel of 6 oranges (or lemons) (or a grapefruit)
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups water
3 cups sugar
hot water

I only used one orange and one lemon, so I cut the other ingredients proportionately.....

Cover peel with salt and water.  Weight down with plate.  Let stand over night.  Drain and wash.  Cover with cold water. Bring to boiling point.  Repeat this rinse and raise to boil point 3 times, changing water each time.  Cut peel in 1/4 inch strips with scissors.  Add sugar and hot water.  Cook slowly until peel is translucent.  It takes a while!  Drain.  Roll in granulated sugar and dry on a wire cake rack. 

Calico Carriage Quilt Design with Kaffe Fassett Fabric - YES!

Forty-eight 6" half square triangles later, this Debbie Maddy Calico Carriage quilt design now measures 48" square.   She's a star in my book!

 with 2 " inner border I'm up to 54" ....just need more fabric! to add one more border to make this one the size I need - 6" outer borders will give me 66" square.  That will be okay....or I could make it 78" square....that will be okay too. 

I'm not wild about square quilts - BUT some things just can't be helped.  What?  my mama made me do it! 

I won a bundle of Vicki's hand dyes:

and the bundle arrived  ~

When I woke up this morning ..... you were on my mind!

The postman arrived yesterday and since all the expected gifts had been received, I wasn't much excited.  HOWEVER,  me of little faith got a large surprise.  Vicki's hand dyed fabric had arrived - over a yard of it and even more scrumptious than any picture ever allowed! 
As I spread each fourth-quarter yard on the table, I could hear myself (even though alone in the house) go oooh and aaaah. 

Thanks Vicki - your Field Trip In Fiber is to dye for.

The Brown Half-Square Triangle Quilt Update!

This baby is finished (well, it still has to be quilted....but that's not until next year)!  It took a few weeks, but was well worth all that sewing....I love it! 

One thousand six half square triangles later ~

 And in my usual style, I pieced the back  using all my left-over fabric from the quilt top!  The center back contains twenty-four more HST's.  Not pictured is the border fabric that I added to make the quilt back large enough. 


.....and the day has come

Merry Christmas from The Masons.  Join us as we sing our hallelujah's this morning. 
And, thank you Marie for this star-filled clipping mask. 

It's been a long time coming:

When I started seeing the bands lined up for the concerts and stages for the upcoming 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival - I realized I still had the 2011 poster in the tube!  We were doing kitchen remodel last May when this one arrived  so just stuck it in the closet until last week.  A young Jimmy Buffett now joins Mahalia Jackson in the corner of the living room.   The Buffett poster is resting on a vintage wooden easel and Jackson is hanging on the wall.  You see, we are just about out of wall space for these very large posters.....But we have a gallery of them throughout the house - dating back to 1982....I wish I had the other seven to have a continuous stream. 

Mahalia Jackson - the 2003 Jazz Fest poster....thoughts on and about!  We didn't like it - at first - HuMan still doesn't - and wants to replace it......I continue to resist and through the years it has really begun to become one of my favorites.  And what you see in this little snippet - the wire wrapped microphone stand and Mahalia's red choir robe - what's not to love? 

Painfully Obvious

I have been knee-deep in half-square triangles and have made great progress on the one I started here.  Thirty five of the fifty six blocks are finished....

However, today as I was auditioning block placement, it became painfully obvious that one is being a rogue!  

Happiness is winning Vicki's hand dyed stash pack!

I won I won I won:  Vicki Welsh  has the most delectable hand dyes:  find them here in her Etsy Shop.

Vicki and Sew, Mama, Sew! teamed up for a huge giveaway and I won one of Vicki's hand dyed fabric stash packs.  Oh,I can't wait! 

Here is one example of the beauty of  Vicki's hand dyed fabric - orange to turquoise! 

Fix it with Paint ~

Divide and Conquer, a war strategy that dates back way before my time, but one I often use in sewing when my success ratio begins to falter.....this means I take the quilt or quilt block I'm unhappy with, cut it into pieces then re-sew.  Amazing what this technique will do.  Since this is not really the topic of this blog, I have no pictures available!

Another often used strategy is the one I call the  if it doesn't work, just add paint in these dish towels. 

From the beginning:  I found these over sized flour sack dish towels while last at Sur la table in Seattle.
I took this great picture of my purchase, then took the rotary cutter and cut each one in half and hemmed the raw edges.  I did this because they were too large for my project!  I next took snippets of fabric and using raw-edge applique technique sewed them to the bottom of each dish towel.

I looked at these for several days and with each glance, became more disenchanted with my dish towels......they were suppose to be so french country but looked more like blah!

This morning, determined that I couldn't go wrong with paint, I gathered my supplies and then did a dry run on a piece of muslin. 

I'm smiling.....You see, I just grabbed a piece of cardboard out of the trash, punched random holes in it, stenciled in red, then topped with orange paint, added circles rectangles triangles and flowers with my china marker.  Now they are more to my liking.  This is the whimsey that I thrive on ~

Some information is better late than never.....

How to wrap a gift - the article's title in the morning news read.  Hey, I thought, I could have used this information yesterday! 

You see, here's my gift wrapping attempt #1: the first cut was a little too small - but being the frugal person that I am - and the person who likes to give my family memories - I just continued wrapping the too large package in the too small amount of paper.  And, so they wouldn't think I was trying to hide my mistake, I just got the big felt tipper and Ooops!!ed it. 

Moving on to gift wrap attempt #2: 

Oh no - I didn't make the same mistake twice. This time, I cut way too much paper and it kinda bunched and over-lapped on each end.  So much so that it took three slices of tape to hold it all together!

By now the boys in the choir are snickering and I'm getting the eye-roll treatment -

Stop it you guys - I've gotten it all together now.  Third attempt is the charm.  Every gift is wrapped and tagged and under the tree or in the mail.

Ho Ho Ho

The Sewing Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana - I wouldn't shop there if I were you!

I repeat....the Sewing Gallery is NOT a place you want to do business with:  Here's my Janome I purchased from The Sewing Gallery, 5747 Youree Drive, now located at corner of Youree and Pennsylvania, Shreveport, Louisiana, phone 318-865-8705. 

If you are a smart shopper, you need this information SO THAT YOU WILL NOT SHOP AT THE SEWING GALLERY....HERE'S WHY!  I bought this Janome exactly one year ago today to be my second sewing machine.  It was light weight so perfect for me to pack up on my sewing days with friends.  Being my second....not primary....machine I used it less than 100 hours this past year.  Now, here's the rub.  It malfunctioned (same malfunction) four times this past year.  Since I  live in Monroe, 90 miles east of Shreveport,  this means that with every malfunction, I had to make the 180 mile round trip.  And twice, I had to leave it which meant I had to go back to pick it up!  You and I can both figure the mileage.  So Sunday....knowing the warranty was about to expire, I was happily sewing away...and damn - er - I mean bam - it malfunctioned.  Monday, I called the store owner and told him the problem.  And he declared loud and clear that this machine was a real workhorse, tried and tested, tested and tried over and over by the manufacturer, so it was not a problem with the machine, but with the owner!  Did I ever see red, but being the (tongue in cheek) gentle spirit that I am, I told him I would bring it to his shop Wednesday (today) so he could show me how to sew on this damn - er - I mean jammed machine.....I did and he found nothing wrong with it!!! refused to send it back to manufacturer, refused to accept any responsibility....offered me $100 to buy it back.  I thanked him for his generosity since my receipt in hand showed I paid $703.55 for one and the same! 

I ultimately accepted $250 and left his store.    Oh, but let me backtrack.  When we agreed on the $250, he reached into his pocket and offered me $100 in cash and told me he would mail the rest of the money to me.  Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to refuse this offer.  I told him I would be back in one hour for the money...thought this would give him enough time to find a bank.  When I got back over to The Sewing Gallery (the place you do not want to shop) the store clerk had the money for me.    She also told me that she had been sewing on the machine and that indeed it did have problems but that there was nothing she could do about was not her store and while she felt the owner was wrong, she could not intercede on my behalf. 

Here is part of the printed warranty: 
Your authorized Janome dealer or Janome Authorized Service Center will evaluate your report of a possible defect and if one is discovered, will (at its option) repair or replace the Product either with an identical Product or with a substitute product that is substantially similar to the original Product. Your authorized Janome dealer or Janome Authorized Service Center reserves the right to supply refurbished Products or substitute product provided that they conform to the written specifications of Janome America, Inc. for new Products or new substitute products.

Hey.....Janome, Hey....The Sewing Gallery - listen up - You are not the kind of folks I do business with.  You are on my list to never, ever visit again and I'm spreading the word about your actions today. 

My Focus:

Oh it was a wonderful luncheon - with lots of food and quilts for eye candy and the very best of friends with whom to visit and share and laugh. 

But my focus ultimately landed here: 

and I played until I got this result:

Love the Feel of Handmade:

If I can make house slippers - you can too:  Thanks go way back to April, 2009, 21st Century Dressmakers.  A blog site to love: 

Me and My Shadow

What did I ever do before finding all those free images for The Graphics Fairy?  Me and my shadow.....just tip-toeing through my Christmas greenery....just as if they belonged there! 

First download an image, make a brush, stamp on picture in two different sizes and colors....change opacity as the type and shadow that also...further enhance with a tile mosaic overlay,, sign and save.'s brag Monday over at The Graphics Fairy, so I joined in. 

Christmas Time's a comin'

Free Christmas icons:  what fun!

to make brushes out of free Christmas icons.... once my brush saved, I stamped away on a picture of my Christmas greenery.  Just a reminder to get busy 'cause he's on his way!

I'm happy to report that my Christmas shopping is almost done and every gift  that's in the house is wrapped and under the tree.

week - ending

.....on track

more half-square triangles made for brown quilt. This just about takes care of all my sunflower fabric.  It was a very good year! 

and a road trip to Hannah's with Kaffe Fassett on her shelf

and what came home with me - only eight fat quarters that I can't wait to cut into: 

and chartreuse for the back of two quilts.   Just a dose of happiness for the week just ending ~

A Free Christmas Card Template

Just an ordinary picture -

 became the love of my morning -

 and then, thanks to French Kiss Studios and artist Dianne Poinski, a free Christmas card template became the focus of my morning  play time....

I've already printed this's gonna be delivered to the owner of these beautiful upholstered bar chairs!

Working with half-square triangles: AGAIN

A day has to start somewhere:  might as well be browsing through quilting books - like this one published by Better Homes and Gardens....It's still available, I checked. 

It's one I've had on my shelf forever, but have never really looked at it - until this morning when I caught a glimpse of that brown half-square triangle quilt folded on the trunk at the foot of the bed!

I ran (didn't stop to walk) to my fabric bin and found 12-15 brown time to stop and count, plus some brown/orange, brown/green, brown/black just to mix things up a bit.  Grabbed my bolt of muslin for the background and here's where I've landed:  56 HST blocks are sewn, pressed and squared to 6 1/2" and I've started  making  640 2" little guys that will surround the large one! It takes 16..yikes.   I've finally stopped long enough to catch my breath and grab a bite to eat.  I'll be back, but in the meantime's my mess - and

here's the three I've finished.  They are 10" blocks, so I'm guessing my quilt will be 74" x 84" after I
add an outside guessed it:  more 2" half-square triangles! 

A Free Christmas Name Tag and More to Download

The most delightful gift from Bronwyn Hayes at Red Brolly to us:  A Christmas tag - free to download - and personalize as you wish!  I've just printed the HuMan's gift tags on heavy card to find the hole punch and yarn to attach to his first gift that will go under the tree....tomorrow (I hope it will be delivered tomorrow)....the postman Santa promised.  It pays to follow Quilt Inspiration!  That's where I found this delightful freebie and more.  There is also a mini Christmas bunting pattern/tutorial and a free Christmas stitchery pattern....hurry!  'Tis the season.....

Miscellaneous Handmade/Sewing Projects: A Folder

Have I ever told you that I have folders for my in particular I'll focus on for this post.....and it is called Miscellaneous Handmade/Sewing Projects.   The sun is out and so I opened up the folder:  Here are some dish towels I adorned.  Yes, they are meant to be displayed, used and then washed.  I attached the fabric snippets using the raw-edge applique technique....which means that when washed, the edges will fray - as they are meant to do.  It's not tearing up, it's simply becoming frayed! 

Next, I found a picture of the fabric nesting boxes.....the smallest is approximately 1" square and it nests inside the 1 1/2" box and the next size nests into the next size....all the way up to 3 1/2" or 4".  Too much fun to make!  I bundled and bowed and grouped all three together on my dressing table. 

Then there are hot pads ~ made with selvages

and hot pads ~ made in the round

and blue stripe ticking hot pads ~

and hot pads for the Christmas table ~ an idea and tutorial from Debbie at Esch House Quilts.

and the munchkins pillows - each measuring about 6" or 8" made from washed wool remnants:

oh, that folder has even more stuff ....but I'm out of time!