Monday, December 27, 2010

If You Go Into the Woods Today........

This was supposed to be my Christmas Greeting to you, but the time got away from me.  I started to post last week and all of a sudden Christmas had come and gone! 

Hope you had a Merry Christmas with family and friends.  I hope you remembered that we celebrate Jesus Birthday on Christmas Day.

This little quilt If you Go Into the Woods Today, Don't Forget Your Compass is only 18" square.  It was on the cover of my book, Pine Tree Quilts.  On the cover it appears to be rectangular, but it is not.  For those of you who are non quilters, the "compass" blocks are in the four corners.  They are 3" squares.  That's a lot of pieces of fabric in a 3" square.  Thank goodness for paper piecing.

It was fun to make and I think it is fun to look at.

I hope you enjoy looking at it. It really isn't as hard to make as it might look.  The borders are paper pieced as well.  For you non quilters, that means you have a drawn line to sew on that is printed on paper so you really can't mess up all those little points.

We now have a whole year minus a couple of days to prepare for next Christmas.  Maybe if I start now, I'll be ready on time.  Don't hold your breath, though!

Until next time,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Friendship Pines

My mother-in-law passed away last week and I had to stay in AZ to run the company while Gary went back to make arrangements, etc.  Last night I made the date bars that she used to make every Christmas in her honor.  Maybe later I will post the recipe.  I needed to make them once again before posting the recipe as it's another of those recipes that all the instructions aren't there and I need to write them in.

Several years ago I was a part of a sub-group in Nimble Thimbles chapter of AZ Quilters Guild.  These were groups that we signed up to participate for a short time - usually a year.  Each participant made kits to give to the others for quilt blocks for a project they wanted to do.  You may have noticed that I'm sort of "into" pine trees so my project was a small, simple pine tree block.  (I've been "into" red and white quilts, too!)

This is the result of that project.   There were 9 people in the group who were given kits to make the pine tree block and a few extra half-square triangle units for the friendship stars used as alternate blocks.

One of the participants very apologetically gave me her block saying that she had problems doing the block and that when she squared the block she cut off points.  After studying the block at home, I could tell it was not salvageable.  I called to let her know that it was a problem and that we had a couple of options.  I could 1. give her another kit or 2. I could just remake the block or 3, if she was willing to come over, I would give her a private lesson in making half-square triangle units that were accurate.  She chose option 3 and we had a lovely day.  She went on to make a beautiful feathered star after completing a block that fit perfectly into my quilt.  I got a better block and got to spend the day with a friend -- how cool is that?.

Recently I thought about how fortunate we are to have some of our friends.  I sent an e-mail to two of my close friends recently pointing out how unlikely it was that we became friends since we were born in different states, went to different schools and churches and did not live on the same street, etc.  One is a native Arizonan and two of us moved here at different times.  We met at the first guild meeting I attended in AZ and they had only met a couple of months earlier when they each attended the same guild for the first time the same night without knowing each other previously.  Lucky us!

This past week, one of those friends, Joyce, has been meeting me at my office every morning so I won't have to unlock and open the business by myself since Gary is out of state attending to the details of his mother's funeral, etc.  How fortunate I am to have a friend willing to take time out of her busy day at the busiest time of year to make sure I'm safe until our employees come in.  A big "thank you" to Joyce!

Have you hugged a friend lately?  If not, at least call them and tell them how much you love them!

Until next time,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whig Rose Quilt

My dear friend, Diane, collects antique quilts.  She has purchased them and been gifted with them.  She has an awesome collection.  But, every time she talked about her antique quilts, she would mention that someday she was going to find a Whig Rose quilt that would be in her price range.  If you know quilts, you know that this type of applique quilt in good conditions is hard to find and usually expensive.  Diane talked about wanting one of these a LOT.

A group of friends that includes Diane and me used to exchange Christmas gifts which were usually wall hangings we made for one another.  One year I was fortunate enough to draw Diane's name.  She had made several wall hangings for me over the years, but I had never drawn her name before.  To say I was excited to be able to make a wall hanging for her would be an understatement!  We drew names a year in advance so there was plenty of time to design and create a wall hanging.  Now, a 4 x 4 quilt would have been more in keeping with the tradition, but..........

I worked on the wall hanging everywhere I went that year which included Turkey.  It was a well traveled quilt and created the opportunity for a lot of conversations with strangers on planes and in airport waiting areas as I worked on the quilt.

All year Gary kept saying, "I can't believe you are giving that away!"  He liked it, he saw how much time it was taking and he knew I liked it, too.

Diane was thrilled with her gift.  Her husband told her to take down a perfectly lovely Amish wall hanging in order to hang the Whig Rose in a special place.  Her surprise and delight at finally owning a Whig Rose quilt, even a small one, was a delight to me.  But, now I wanted one, too.  I spent the next year making version 2 of the Whig Rose.  Diane entered hers in the AZ Quilters Guild show that year under my name and it won first place in it's category.  We were both pleased with that!

Here is a picture of version 2.  I don't have a digital file for version 1.  I'm sure I did, but it is one of the missing digital photos that got lost in the computer transfer.  There are a few differences in the two versions.  Diane's is on a lighter background.  I love that background, but only bought enough for 1 quilt to be made from it.  Diane's also has fewer leaves than version 2.  I'm not sure how that happened except I was using Version 2 as a teaching tool as I demonstrated how to applique leaves and stems for a year.  There are a lot of leaves on it -- a lot!

Four of these would make the traditional way the Whig Rose quilts were done.

Diane, does beautiful machine quilting.  I was nervous machine quilting something for her.  Hers was one of the first quilts that I machine quilted feathers on.

I LOVE machine quilting feathers!  Straight lines, not so much!

 I hope you've enjoyed both the story behind this quilt and the quilt.  I totally enjoyed making both version 1 and version 2.  Version 1 for Diane was the most fun as I anticipated her surprise for a whole year.

Until next time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ginger Cookies

This ginger cookie recipe is one I got from Gary's grandmother, Lena Hilgendorf Arnold, when we were first married. It is a family favorite.  I don't make them often enough!  Since this came from Gary's grandmother and I have it in her own handwriting, it is one of those where the ingredients are simple, but the flour amount is "enough to make a soft dough".  This is the way my mother cooked, too, and I never quite get the exact same results, unfortunately.  But, no matter because the cookies are still good even if they aren't identical to Great-Grandma's.  My mother-in-law used the same recipe and hers were different, too.  It's all in the interpretation of the "enough flour to make a soft dough", I think.

Here is what you do.

Start with 1 cup shortening (I use either butter or margarine)

Beat to soften.

Add 1-1/2 cups sugar and cream together.

Add 2 eggs, preferably without the shells.

Add 1 cup molasses, mix and then add 1/2 cup water and mix again..

Add 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon nutmeg.

You do not have to grate your own nutmeg, but I do -- it's so aromatic!

Mix well and add flour one cup at a time.

Mix in enough to make a soft dough -- at least 4-1/2 cups, but I use more, 6 cups or so.

The dough is easier to handle if you refrigerate it for several hours or overnight at this point.  When it's ready to handle, use an small scoop to get equal amounts of dough.  If you don't have  one of these, run out and get one right now! They make the job easier and the cookies are a uniform size for baking, You can find these in any cooking store. I would tell you where I got mine, but I forgot, I just know it was a cooking store.

Roll in granulated sugar. Apparently I forgot to upload this photo!, They look like this on the cookie sheet.

Flatten the balls with a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Be sure to enjoy a couple while they are still warm.  Yum!



1 C. shortening, butter or margarine
1-1/2 C. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 C molasses
1/2 C. water
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon soda
Flour enough for a soft dough.  Start with 4-1/2 C and add until it feels right.
Refrigerate dough for several hours or overnight.
Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on cookie sheet
Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes

These are a softer gingerbread type cookie rather than a crisp gingersnap type cookie.

Bake some of these soon.  Your house will smell amazing.  You must bake these at Christmas time!

Happy baking,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Redwood Forest

Christmas is a time of year that I absolutely love!  I know, I know, I said that about Fall, but I DO love Christmas.  I love the reason we celebrate, I love the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas.  I love the baking, the decorating, the cards from friends, the whole shebang!

Usually I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and continue until everything is out.  I'm a little behind this year, but the Redwood Forest quilt has been put on the bed in the "red" room and the red log cabin that I made for my dad's 90th birthday is on the sofa in the family room.  The red and green 9-patch quilt is in the family room, too.

Today, I'll show just the Redwood Forest quilt and then continue to show other pine tree and Christmas quilts throughout the month of December.

When I made Redwood Forest, I thought it would be on the cover of my book, Pine Tree Quilts, but the editor chose a different quilt.  I'll show that one and the cover of the book later this month.  Last year I made red and white toile pillowcases and with the red work pine needles pillow shams, the "red" room looks very festive and ready for guests.

Today I'm working on a deadline so this will have to be short.  I'm hoping to get to bake ginger cookies from Gary's grandmother's recipe later today, but I thought I'd get to it yesterday and didn't.  When I do bake them, I'll share the recipe here.

What are your favorite Christmas memories?  One of mine is all the cookies my mom used to bake -- especially what she called date pinwheels.  They were even yummy frozen, but don't ask me how I know this.  I would never have sneaked them from the plates in the freezer.

Blessings of the season,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

Daughter M asked for the recipe for my Pumpkin Bars on Face book and several people wanted the recipe, so I'm posting it here for you all to enjoy.  The recipe if simple and fast to make.  The ingredients are probably already on your pantry shelf especially this time of year.

Being a traditionalist, I mix the sugar, oil and eggs together, then add the dry ingredients.  Last, I mix in the pumpkin well.  At this point it looks like this.

You will put the batter in two 13 x 9 cake pans that have either been greased and floured or sprayed with baking spray -- the kind with the flour in it.  That's what I do, it so much faster and easier!  After 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, they look like this.

Next comes the good stuff -- the cream cheese/butter frosting.  I sift the powdered sugar, but you don't have to.  It just makes it creamier to me, so I take the time to do this.  It's up to you, but it is SO creamy when you do this.

Since there are TWO, you can keep one at home and take one to share with friends or co-workers.  That's the best part!

That is Starbucks coffee made with freshly ground beans, but these are equally good with Earl Grey tea.
YUM!  and your house will smell terrific as well.  Enjoy.  Here is the recipe. I know you are saying "Finally!"



2 C. sugar                                                                                       1 tsp. cloves
1 C oil                                                                                            2 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs                                                                                             2 tsp. baking powder
dash salt                                                                                          1 tsp soda
2 C flour                                                                                          1 C pumpkin

Put in a large bowl and beat well.  Bake in two 9 x 13 cake pans 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


2 tsp milk
3 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter (yes, the REAL thing)
1 8oz package cream cheese (can use the 1/3 less fat version to counteract the butter)

Beat cheese and butter smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and continue beating until well blended and smooth.  Spread on the cooled bars.

Hope you enjoy this as much as our family does.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


When we lived in Alabama, we built a flagstone patio.  I absolutely loved it!  I loved it enough to move literally a ton of stone and placed most of the stones myself.  The colors were wonderful and Fall-like to me.  I took a picture of some of the stones and played with it in Photo Shop.  The result I liked best was watercolor, so I printed it out on watercolor paper.  I also printed it out even larger on fabric, quilted and embellished the mini quilt with beads and a leaf skeleton after attaching the photo to the quilt top.  Here is the result.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

 The lighter rectangle in the center is the photo printed on watercolor paper.  The leaf skeleton is to the left of that.  Unfortunately, the beads do not really show up , but they make the sandy area between the flagstones sparkle a bit.

This is the original picture with no enhancement or help from Photo Shop.  I think I LOVE Photo Shop!  Yesterday my new camera came and I can hardly wait to play with it.  It has 12mp as opposed to the 3.1mp on my old one.  This should be a lot of fun.

Enjoy the photos and let me know if you like them.

Till next time,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Missing Quilt Photos

My plan today was to post photos of all the Autumn colored quilts I have made, but I've discovered that a couple of years worth of photos did not get transferred from the last computer to this one.  Those photos will have to be retaken.  Of course, some of the older quilts were not in digital format so they will need to be retaken as well.  Guess it's time to schedule a photo session.

I hope you enjoy the one I am able to post today, though.  This one is called "Fire on the Mountain" and was made in response to the fires that plague the Southwest.  When I showed this one for the first time to a guild in Florida, I did not tell the name of the quilt.  After the lecture, a woman came up and said she was very touched by the quilt as it reminded her of the forest fires in California where she had lived most of her life.  When I had flown out from Phoenix we passed over a fire that had burned thousands of acres and was still burning.  This quilt hangs behind my desk in my office at work.  On the file cabinets nearby are two books the company worked on that are in the exact same colors.  I love the colors and I love the quilt.  It is also the quilt I was privileged to demonstrate on "Simply Quilts" when that show was on HGTV.

Now I need to get busy quilting and figuring out when I can retake the photos of the quilts that are missing.  I may even take a photo of the first Autumn colored quilt that I did.  It's not lovely, it is obviously a beginner quilt and it is readily apparent that it was made in the 1970's.  It is humbling!

Until next time,

Friday, November 5, 2010

True quilt Story

Our granddaughter who is 5 and in Kindergarten asked her mother (our daughter) for permission to take her baby quilt to school for rest time.  Her mother told her no as she didn't want to have the quilt be on the floor of the classroom.  Later that day when our daughter  picked the kids up from school she noticed our granddaughter's backpack was bulging.  Upon opening it, she found the quilt.  Our daughter asked why H had taken the quilt to school when she'd been told not to.  H's answer, "But it's my special Grandma Lo quilt and I love it!  I had to take it."  That's when you want to hug em, right?

I've been thinking about teachers and how grateful I am that many have been in my  life -- good teachers!  Teachers who have inspired me to want to learn not just repeat back facts on tests to get a good grade.  First was my mom who often sent us to the dictionary to look up a word rather than tell us how to spell the word.  We learned a lot more from that than the spelling, of course.  She also taught us good values and to appreciate people, places and things.

I'm grateful to my first quilt teacher and the many who followed her.  I'm grateful for the students I've been privileged to teach since I learned as much from them as they learned from me, I'm sure.

Who are you grateful for?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Maybe we've already met, but if not, let me intruduce myself.

I'm a wife and mother of 3 grown children.  I am also the auathor of Pine Tree Quilts. We have been blessed with 11 grandchildren and this year 1 very sweet great grandchild.  I'm not sure how all that happened since I certainly don't feel old enough to be a grandmother let alone a great grandmother or as my friend, Diane, says, a gigi.  That I think I can handle.

We've lived in a lot of different states, but have been in Arizona the longest of any.  I like it here even with the extremely hot summers.  We've lived here twice so we must like it here! I miss the change of seasons in the other states, but the mountain views and the wonderful winters make up for it a bit. Cotton grows here -- I like that a lot!  Cotton = quilt fabric and quilt batts! We drive by cotton fields every day. The sheep have just come down from the upper pastures.  There aren't as many this year which makes me sad. Apparently it is harder than it used to be to get the right-of-way to bring them down.

Quilts are among my favorite things.  My mother was a quilter and my grandmother at least pieced quilts since I am fortunate enough to have a quilt pieced by her and quilted by my mother.  Quilts are cozy.  Quilts are fun to look at.  Quilts even record American history. As long as I can remember quilts have been on our beds.  We used and probably abused them using them for everthing from picnic table cloths to tents.  In some ways I wish we hadn't done that, but, ah, the memories!

My favorite quilt is always the one I'm working on now.  Of course, I'm usually working on more than one at a time.

Cooking is a favorite, as well.  There is an armoire in the family room full of cookbooks.  I love to look at them and decide what would be good for the Holiday meals.  The cooking channel is a favorite as well.  One of the grands has already put in her "order" for what we should have for Christmas this year. She'll get it, too.

I have other favorites which I'll introduce you to in later posts.

Till next time,