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,