Updated: Aug 26, 2022
I am someone who has been sewing most of my life. I have had many professions but sewing has always been my passion. In the eighties, my friend, Jan, introduced me to quilting. I started because I wanted to leave some type of legacy. Learning this craft has sent me on a journey I never planned:
I learned how to quilt,
I designed quilting patterns,
I was featured in several quilting magazines,
I opened a quilt shop,
I began a retreat house where quilters from all over the country came to a little town of 800 people to sew together,
I set up a retreat for other quilt shop owners and made lifelong friends with those shop owners,
I traveled to quilt shows all across the country selling our products,
My husband and I started a business making tools and notions for quilting such as:
racks to hold a quilter’s rulers,
racks for longarm machine to hold tools,
a table for a longarm,
and our most recent a camera that allows one to see under the quilt as a longarmer is quilting,
But most of all I met the most wonderful people!
All those years ago I had no idea that sewing would bring me so much joy. I have been in quarantine for about four weeks sewing almost every day. As I sit in front of my sewing machine today I still truly feel a sense of joy as I am making something. After all these years sewing excites me every day. Sewing makes me calm and makes me take count of the wonderful things it has brought me. And it makes me want to spread that joy to everyone I touch.
This past week I learned that my dearest friend Jan has a serious illness. I can’t think of life without her. She has been my friend for over 40 years. She knows everything about me and me. I am not sure where this illness will take us but I do know that one day you are well and busy and the next life can be changed completely. I will do just about anything to hold onto my friend. My advice to each of you is to pay attention, it all goes too quickly.
On the lighter side:
A few months ago Dennis and I were on a trip. Dennis doesn’t talk much when he is driving and I have a bit of a problem with car sickness so often I sleep while he drives. So asleep I was. Suddenly with great urgency, Dennis slams on the brakes! Sorry if the next sentence offends you, but I need to be graphic. I, of course, wake up as I am flying towards the dashboard. I yell out, “Jesus Christ, Dennis!” I don't usually use God's name in vain but I was panicked. After a few seconds I hear Siri, from my iPhone, say “There is no Jesus Christ in your contact list, Rita”.
This left me with two thoughts.
One, I am gonna need to add his name to my contacts,
two, I need to spend a bit more time in church.
As I mentioned, last week was a difficult one with the news of my friend's illness. I do not get much sleep, so about five hours is my usual. I have one of those beds that records sleep patterns. Imagine my surprise when I receive an email from my bed telling me I had very little sleep in the past three days. "Perhaps I had been drinking a bit too much or eating before you go to bed?" It also told me how important sleep is and gave me several tips on how to get more sleep. Not sure I am ready for my bed to be in that close of contact with me. I am thinking of changing my bed's email to my daughter’s address. That should keep her up all night!
This post is longer than usual. But I have so many ideas I need to share them all.
It’s been a long year for all of us. I have been in my studio a great deal. It is where I find calm and inspiration. Therefore, I decided that 2021 will be designated as:
My Year Of Making Things.
I will record every project I work on. You will be seeing what I am up to along the way. I also would like to make it a year of kindness so I intend to share some of the things I make. (Please don't expect a quilt.) You as my reader may receive a small handmade item during the year from me. So, send me your address and you never know what or when something will show up in your mailbox. I will share a picture of what I sent.
I have been taking an online class from Phillipa Naylor. This is a beginning quilting class. I know, I have been quilting for years but I thought there is always something to learn so I joined her class. She is an award-winning teacher from the UK. Well, I am super impressed! She is very thorough and has many tips. This is a twelve-month class so I have lots more to go over but these classes are really in-depth and very well done. I would suggest any quilter sign up for these. It’s $15 a month. If you are new to quilting it will put you on the right path and if you are an experienced quilter you will find all sorts of impressive tips. Truly well worth the money. One of the best reminders in her classes is to SLOW DOWN. I know, that sounds pretty simple but when I do I get much better results. If you have an interested her web address is: https://www.quiltersquestiontime.com
What I have been up to
I have been working on Christmas gifts. The Noodle-head patterns for bags are excellent. Here is a sampling of what I have done. The directions are good and the bags impreare massive.
These are some of the Sandhill Bags I made:
I made matching pencil pouches.
She has quite a few free patterns as well as patterns to download. The directions are done well.
I also designed and made some door quilts
I have been working on a quilt for one of my granddaughters for her graduation. I love Kaffe Fasset quilts and this pattern is rather old. His quilts are usually rather simple as he lets the fabric speak rather than the pattern. I think I have mentioned Jinney Beyer’s tool the Perfect Piecer previously but I thought I would show you how easy and what great results you get when you use this ruler.
Jesus is not on my Contact List
We will be home for Christmas. We will not be able to see our entire family which is sad but we have all been working hard to stay safe so we can be with each other on the next holiday. Boy, are we going to have a party next year!!!
I give you my Irish goodbye.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Dark Chocolate Sables
Every year I try and find a dark chocolate dessert for my daughter-in-law and it seems to fizzle. Something always goes wrong. I am excited about her birthday this year because these cookies are truly delicious!
Maybe not so glamorous but people will remember and ask you for these. You can freeze the dough and have them on hand for a special treat.
1 c salted butter, softened 1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Bittersweet baking bars 4 oz or I used a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt smashed candy canes or chopped toasted pecans
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy: add vanilla, and beat till combined. Stir together flour, cocoa, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until combined. Finely chop the chocolate and stir into cookie dough until well incorporated.
Divide dough in half; shape each into an 8" long log. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. (Dough may be frozen for up to one month.) If you freeze it for a while you will need to let it thaw for about 30 minutes before slicing it into cookies.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut dough into 1/4" thick slices and place on parchment paper-lined sheets.
Bake in preheated oven until bottoms are lightly browned, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on pans for five minutes; remove cookies to wire racks and cool completely for about 20 minutes.
Using chopped up a bittersweet chocolate bar or 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, place in microwave bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds, remove from microwave and stir. Heat for another 30 seconds and stir again. Continue for 10 seconds at a time until the chocolate is smooth.
Dip half of the top side of each cookie in melted chocolate. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, peppermint candy, or chopped pecans and chill until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes. Layer cookies between wax paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
This sounds like a bit of work but it went quite quickly. It is now my husband's favorite cookie.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you.”
– Winnie the Pooh