Tuesday, November 18, 2014

End of Harvest



Well, they said it was coming and it did, the last 3 days we've been getting dumped on, I think we have around 6 or more inches of snow. It's hard to tell the wind is blowing so hard. This is way too early, it's going to be a long winter. But before the snow hit I picked the last of my herbs to make a batch of herbal salt. I used all my savory favorites with sea salt.



Chopped the herbs and mixed them in. I put it in a covered container and shake it up once in a while. In about a month it should be ready to use. I use it in everything from cooking on the stove to seasoning on the table. You only need a little to impart wonderful flavor.



Last night I finally had time to cook down my pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies. I cut the pumpkins in half and arrange them on a plate. Next microwave it about 15-20 minutes in 5 minute increments, rearranging the pumpkin every 5 minutes. After the pumpkin cools I scoop out the flesh, and use my mixer to blend it smooth. I then freeze it in containers with the correct amount for the pies.
I use Pie pumpkins, they have so much flavor.



Next I cooked down squash for muffins (do you think I could remember the name of the squash, I'm at work and my mind is blank, if only the phone would stop ringing! Just kidding). 
Anyway I prepare it just like the pumpkin then freeze it for muffins. This ugly squash makes the best muffins and bread. Just use it in your favorite pumpkin muffin recipe.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quilt Retreat


Last week my girlfriends and I went North on our annual quilt retreat, this being our 15th  year. Every year our local quilt shop owner "Quilted Memories" sends a little gift for us. This collection of Moda fabrics says it all "BEST. DAY. EVER",  except it could have read Best 10 days ever, that's how long we had the cottage for. We all had to come and go for appointments but we made it for most of the time. You can get a lot done when you have 10 days of inspiration and no house work and not a whole lot of cooking.



This is the lake home we rented, so close to the lake you felt like you were in a boat when you looked out the front windows.



This is where we set up our machines.



Everyone had a view.



Even a great view when you ironed.



Two of us went up the Halloween morning and spent the day working on Halloween projects, I machine quilted on my "Ultimate Halloween"  that was a "row by row" quilt that my girlfriends and I made a few years ago. I'd been collecting Halloween fabrics for years when we decided to make each other a quilt this is what I used. Everyone had their own fabric from Christmas to just beautiful prints. After a year of passing around the fabric you took home a beautiful quilt top.
I machine quilted "in the ditch" around all the blocks. Next year I'll free motion quilt around all the critters and bring them to life.




That evening Kay and I each made a wool table mat. Hand-stitched and a glass of Witches Brew by the fire. A perfect Halloween for a quilter.
With Halloween done it's on to other quilts.



The first quilt I worked on was this queen size wool quilt my daughter has been piecing for years. She started hand-piecing it when she was about 18 and finished machine piecing it a few years ago. I spent the entire day, 8 hours sewing 3 set of boarders on it. I do everything in my life fast but when it comes to quilting I take my time and enjoy. It's now ready to be quilted. I plan on machine quilting it, hopefully soon.



My next project started with these antique Japanese fabrics I bought this past summer at the AQS quilt show from The Ardent Thread. The owner specializes in Japanese fabrics old and new.
These pieces are hand woven, indigo dyes.


When I was a child growing up my dad would always draw this picture for us kids. Last Christmas I asked him to draw the picture and put one in each card for the grand kids. After saving a picture I traced it on 3 blocks and hand embroidered them to use in my wall hanging.



This is the finished wall hanging. I'm real disappointed in how the color shows. There are no bright yellow blocks in it. I hope this looks better on your computer than on mine.



Just lots on antique fabrics mixed with new.



Hand-woven and batiked fabrics from Thailand.



Boarder fabrics from  vintage men's kimono, hand woven, indigo dyed.



Another project I worked on was this wool piece. A few years ago I traced my grandsons feet and hands on wool tweed fabric with the intention of putting them together on this tan wool as a memory quilt for their mom. I next added their first snow hats and mittens and 3 wool felted snowflakes. There will be 3 more wool snowflakes each embroidered with the boys name on it. The moose will have black button noses and eyes. Then we will layer it with batting and a flannel back and quilt it with wool yarn snowflakes.
I worked on several more projects but forgot to take pictures but as I finish them I'll post a picture.


This was our evening view when it wasn't raining, but even stormy days are wonderful if you don't have to go out in it.






Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Herbal Dream Pillows/ Earth Loom



Last night was my Herb Society meeting. Of course this being October out came "the" hat. I made a new one this year for my daughter to wear when Trick or Treating with her boys.
I have to laugh, my mom always use to make summer hats to cover her hair while at the beach, she would have liked to be a milliner. Now, her daughter making witches hats!



Last night at the meeting we studied about herbal dream pillows. I made these a few years ago with the grandsons and it was unanimous all slept much better. I first learned about the pillows at a herb conference when Jim Long, a respected herbalist spoke about them. He researched and used them for years and finally wrote a book on the subject. A little background from the book: "The European craft of making dream pillows goes back several centuries. There is much evidence, both historical and modern, that pleasant fragrances from herbs and flower do have a positive effect on dreaming".
There is so much more information in this book if your interested he also has a blog.
He goes on to list several quotes from past centuries extolling the virtues for sleep pillows.

My other book I found reference to them is this book "Healing Secrets of the Native Americans".



A couple of pages from the Native America book on the use of Hops for sleeping.



I love this paragraph on President Abraham Lincoln.



At our meeting we had lots of dried herbs to choose from. There are many different herb blends,  peaceful slumbers, convalescent rest, romantic evening, inspiring creativity, and many more.
We mixed the correct herbs for peaceful slumbers.



Some of the herbs we used were sweet hops flowers for relaxation and peacefulness.



Mugwort for increased clarity to remember your dreams, while also encouraging relaxation.



We also added catnip, chamomile, lots of lavender, rose petals, rosemary, and mint.
With this blend how can you not have a wonderful nights sleep.



Mixed well, then we filled little cloth bags for everyone to take home and tuck in their pillow case.
About 1/2 cup per bag is all you need.



Last weekend was peak color season here, the maple leaves were calling me. I went out in our woods and collected some of the reddest,



also a few sumac branches. The sumac leaves glowed.



The loom was patiently waiting, looking kind of dull,
not anymore!




Now it's in full color, ready for the Season.
Not much room left for weaving this year, I hope to weave a row of oak leaves and the final row of winter greens. Then the weaving will have completed the growing cycle of plants this year, starting with dandelions and ending with the greens.
What a wonderful time I had weaving on it. (Oh, and Mother Nature loved weaving too!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Catching up in October



Where has October gone, I don't know. I've been meaning to post but never seem to have any extra minutes.
So from last week, I finally had one of my summer Moon flower plants bloom. I planted the seedlings late and with the cold summer I got only one bud which took forever to open and when it did it was with the Full moon last week. If I was only going to have one flower this was perfect timing.



What a wonderful moon week, the blood moon was visible here and at a good time. The grand kids and I went out early to see it.
 




Then that night we drove around to get the best picture of the Hunters Moon.




It also was time to decorate the house. Fist, Fall garlands and ceramic pumpkins on the piano.



The kitchen hutch gets a new look with a Halloween quilted table runner, herbal vinegars,



and velvet pumpkins and pears.



Wool pumpkin people tucked inside.



Several years ago I made this wool wall hanging from wool I naturally dyed (all except the black).



My favorite Halloween memory from childhood, my paper-mache pumpkin now used to hold napkins.



Last weekend we went camping at our local State Park. Every year they have a Fall Festival, starting with trailer decorating contests and ending with hay rides and trick-or treating. We have a large group of family and friends camping.. This year we made candle holders to decorate our tables with. A garland of leaves from the local craft store, old jars and mod podge. The most important part to make this a successful project is to pull the plastic "veins" off the leaves before trying to glue them on.



We didn't coat the top of the leaves with the glue but we did coat the whole jar. Some of the leaves were velvet, they looked beautiful in the candle light.
This idea came from Pinterest. Oh, we love Pinterest!



Next pumpkins in my flower pots,



my favorite for the season, black and orange pansies in a crock.




Fall garland around the light.



And the porch is ready for the season.



Back to the campground, the weather was perfect, the water beautiful and the grand kids happy.
They fished and fished.





Catching and releasing.



Lots of hiking.



My husband and daughter.



And my grandson taking a selfie.



Last night I had my girlfriends over for dinner. I pulled out my good china. My mom bought them 65 years ago for her wedding china. She was raised in town and when she got married they were moving out into the "woods".  Not really far out but that's how it felt to her.



So while all her girlfriends were buying rose patterned china she bought these pine bough and leaf dishes. Long ago she gave them to me. I use them for special occasions but hate the fact that I'm afraid to put them in the dishwasher and have to hand wash them.



I had my friends over for hot soup, salad, crackers and cheeses. Laura made this cute jack- o-lantern cheese ball.
Another idea from pinterest, if your not familiar with this site google it and enjoy.



 Laura also made me this wonderful witch wall hanging, it has a companion piece of a cat but after paper piecing this for hours she gave me the cat pattern to do myself! LOL, Next year.



And on to the next holiday, Jamie paper pieced this cute Thanksgiving wall hanging.

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