Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two More Finished in 2014

I made it just under the wire for two more 2014 finishes. 

These photos are awful, but that's what happens when you have a lousy camera and lousy lighting conditions. I wanted to count these as 2014 finishes, so the lousy photos will have to do for now.

Two of my resolutions for 2015 are to buy a new camera and to set up some sort of clothesline to take photos of my quilts outdoors. I used to do it at my parents' old house where they had the perfect setup, but since they've moved here, I've been stuck with less-than-perfect photography conditions.

The free pattern is available here. I just adjusted it a bit to make the quilts bigger.

I did a simple meandering quilting design on both, but only took a picture of one. The colors are much, much richer in person.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Finally, a Finish for 2014!

I've been working feverishly to finish up a few quilts in 2014. This is a top that I made in November of this year using a jelly roll that I bought on a whim when I was having fun on a quilters' day out with friends. The pattern is Jelly Roll Jam II, a free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop. Very quick and easy.

Here's a closeup of the meandering quilting...

And a shot of the pieced back...

I used up every inch of the jelly roll by putting the extras on the back. No scraps to add to my out-of-control scrap bins!

Of course, I had to add bias striped binding, but you can't see it well in the photos above. Here's a better shot taken while I was sewing it on.

Now on to the next quilt top. Can I do it for 2014? I'm certainly going to try!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

For Family and Friends, Near and Far

An early Christmas greeting to my readers who celebrate -- and a Happy Festivus to everyone!

How did I make the lights on my tree twinkle in the photo, you ask? It's done using an app called "Photos" on my Android tablet. If you have an Android device, you probably have this app on there -- the icon looks like a primary-colored pinwheel. The effect is called "Auto Awesome". When I uploaded my tree photo to my Google account, the program recognized that there were lights on the tree and it automatically created a photo with the lights twinkling.  There are a few other interesting effects available (like capturing the best smiles on faces, creating panoramic photos, etc.). My son is on the engineering team working on the app at Google, and he tells me that the app is not available for Apple products; however, if you have a Google+ account, you should be able to do this to photos that you upload there by just using the web, not an app. No smartphone or tablet necessary.

If you want to learn more about Google+, here's a link with info, and if you want to learn more about the photo features, click here.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Can I Do It?

Earlier this year I vowed to quilt two quilt tops for every new one that I pieced (I had quite a backlog of tops waiting). So far, I haven't broken that vow and it looks like I may even do better. This is the third top now loaded on my machine since I last pieced a top. I won't agonize over how to quilt it; I'll just meander and get it done! And then I can start the new year with lots of new piecing projects!

Monday, December 15, 2014


After staring at my quilt on the frame for the last month, I finally decided to just quilt a simple meander over all of it and get it done. The binding will be done in no time.

Now that I've quilted two tops since piecing one, I give myself permission to start another top. And my pile of quilt tops is getting smaller all the time -- yeah!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Look What I Got

I recently won a giveaway on Jacquie Gering's blog, Tallgrass Prairie Studio, and the prize is a Robert Kaufman Kona Color Card, with 1-inch swatches of 303 luscious shades of solid fabrics! Who knew there were so many shades of blue! or pink! or gray!

Monday, December 8, 2014

What a Mess

How the heck am I supposed to get any sewing/quilting done when every inch of the horizontal space is taken up by stuff, LOTS of stuff?! I have a large 24" x 36" cutting mat under there, but you can barely see it below all the mess!

This will not do. My work space is cluttered, which means my mind is also cluttered and I can't seem to get anything done. Time to get to work!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once a New Yorker, Always a New Yorker

In September, I took an overnight trip to NYC for the Quilters Take Manhattan event. One of the places that I was lucky to shop in was The City Quilter, a wonderful fabric shop right in the garment district of the city.

I didn't buy much, but I couldn't resist a couple of charm packs filled with fun NYC-themed fabrics. Now this NYC native needs to make herself a quilt!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eternal UFO

Every year for the last nine or ten years (at least that many!), I've been invited to talk about quilting to the local second graders for their Colonial Days in November. I always bring this UFO to show what a quilt sandwich looks like and to demonstrate some hand quilting.

This was one of my very first finished quilt tops, probably about 14 years ago. I started hand quilting it, but gave up because the quilt just wasn't talking to me. Now that I look at it, I don't mind it so much. I think I did a pretty good job with the layout.

My hand-quilting stitches are pretty amateurish, but at least they're big enough so the students can see them!

This quilt will now be put away for another year -- unfinished. My excuse is that I'll need it for the demo next year!

Friday, November 14, 2014


OK, now I have the second quilt top loaded and ready to be quilted. I'm still on track with my "sew one, quilt two" pledge.

Now if only I could decide on how to quilt this....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Off to a Good Home

Back in the spring, on Facebook, I gave away eight of my quilts to friends and family members who had never received a quilt from me (see my blog post about it here). But not all of the people I know who are deserving of a quilt are on Facebook, so I've been offering quilts to them as well (although my pile of available ones is getting quite small). The quilt in the photo recently went to one of these friends, and I hear she's quite pleased. That makes me feel good!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Moving Right Along

The quilting is finished and now it's time to sew on the binding. Oh, how I love striped bias binding!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sew One, Quilt Two

Not too long ago, I came home from a fun quilters' day out with friends with a Moda Hubba, Hubba jelly roll. I didn't really need to buy more fabric, but this bright, cheery collection was calling my name, especially since it was at a great price. So I brought it home with me, with no real plans for what to make with it. Admit it, you do it, too.

Soon afterward, I quickly sewed a quilt top together. But that means I need to follow through with my commitment to quilt two tops for every one that I sew. Right now there are four more tops waiting to be quilted, and even though I'm itching to sew a few more tops, my focus right now is on quilting. Once this top is quilted, I will load another one that's waiting in the wings.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coming Down From Cloud 9

I am just slowly recovering from my adventure at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. What a thrill to see my quilt on display there...and on my birthday!

What a fantastic show...I hope to post more photos in another post soon!

Friday, October 24, 2014

1960s Repurposing

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember a post from several years ago where I showed a picture of an apron that my grandmother made from one of my dresses (she actually made two aprons). At that time, the photo I had only showed a little bit of my dress. I was recently organizing some family photos and came across a better one showing quite a bit more of the dress.

Even the ric-rac came from the dress. I'm not sure about the source of the orange fabric, though...I'll have to look through more old photos.

Monday, October 20, 2014

You've Got Mail!

I'm a member of the Ithaca Modern Quilt Guild, and the guild's latest project is a Halloween postcard exchange with the Rochester Modern Quilt Guild. I finally finished mine and will be putting this in the mail this week. The thread colors are much more intense in person and the black fabric is much blacker. It's getting to be time to get a new camera....

Monday, October 13, 2014

"My" Block

My guild is in the process of making an identifying banner that will be displayed at various public events in which the guild is involved. Guild members have been asked to contribute blocks for this project and the only rule is that the block must be 6 1/2 inches unfinished. Since the guild has members who quilt in a wide variety of styles and fabrics, we want the banner to represent our diversity, so the blocks are supposed to represent the individual blockmaker.

I've chosen to make a red and white block using a pattern called "Anna's Choice" or "Annie's Choice" (in my research, I've seen both names used). I think it fits perfectly for this project because my first name is Anna (Anya is a Russian nickname for Anna), and because one of the best days of my life was when I got to see the famous "Infinite Variety" red and white quilt exhibit in New York City several years ago. 

I loved the block so much that I decided to use it as the design for our garage quilt, which has been up for more than three years now.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Moosewood Monday

In addition to not having had much time for sewing/quilting over the last several months, I haven't had too much time to try new recipes, either. I finally got back into that recently and tried one from one of my favorite restaurants, The Moosewood in Ithaca, NY. It's a recipe for Creamy Fish Chowder.

I forgot to take a picture of my version, but you can see the recipe and a photo of it by clicking here. I didn't have any zucchini, so I didn't use it, and it worked out just fine. The fish I used was cod. It's a keeper!

I am fortunate to live close enough (75 miles) to the restaurant itself to occasionally dine there, so I took this photo one day recently after having a delicious meal on their patio!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More for the Bachelor Pad

As I mentioned in the previous post, my son's "bachelor pad with minimal IKEA furniture" is in need of some colorful accessories, so here are a few throw pillows that I made for him out of scraps from previous quilts. I told my son that if he doesn't like them, he can put them in the closet and only get them out when I come to visit!

Monday, September 29, 2014


It feels so good to be back at the sewing machine and getting some projects finished! As I mentioned in the previous post, my son recently moved to an apartment in California. He furnished it in typical basic bachelor-pad style (thank goodness for IKEA!), which means it's a bit boring. He did buy a few things with color -- red kitchen towels, oven mitts, toaster oven, kitchen rug, etc. -- but a lot of his furniture is black, including the dining table and chairs, so I decided that his place needed some more color. I made the placemats and coasters from scraps of two previous quilts -- one that I made for my son when he went off to college and then another one I made for myself using scraps from his college quilt.

Here's a shot of his quilt...

It made me feel good that he took this quilt to California!

And mine...

I just realized that I had another red/black/gray/white quilt that I made from some of these fabrics...

donated to charity earlier in 2014
The black and red scraps are getting very limited, but I have enough for a couple more things. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anybody There?

Wow, what a summer. I had so many things keeping me busy that I didn't really have much time for quilting/sewing stuff, just an occasional quilters' day out with friends or a day spent charity sewing with guild members. And that meant that I didn't have time for too much blogging, either.

So, what was it that kept me so busy? First, it was moving my elderly parents and aunt to a house that we built next door (and then helping them get settled in -- changing bank accounts, driver's licenses, doctor's appointments, etc.) Then, it was my son's graduation from college and job hunt, culminating in helping him move to California for a job with Google (yeah!).

My sewing machine barely got turned on all summer. About all I managed to finish were the labels and sleeves for entries in my guild's exhibit this past month.

Anyway, things are slowly getting back to normal, so now I'm getting back into the routine of sewing something (and finishing it)! And hopefully, that will mean more regular blogging, too, mainly to show my projects.

And since I don't like to write a blog post without a photo, here's a shot what greeted us when we stopped by at one of the Google buildings!

I hope to be back real soon to show what I finished sewing this past week! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's Almost Exhibit Time!

2014 MLQG Raffle Quilt

My guild's 2014 exhibit opens this upcoming Friday, September 5th with a gala evening reception (7-9 PM) at the Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center located at 134 Main Street in Wellsboro, PA. There will be refreshments and door prizes (and lots of gorgeous quilts, of course). The public is invited.

The exhibit will be on display September 6-28, open 2-5 PM daily, with free admission.

You can check the details on the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild website, blog, or Facebook page.

Monday, August 18, 2014

For My "No Reply" Readers

Over the last few weeks, several of my readers have left comments on my blog posts, but because their Blogger profiles are set to "no reply", I am not able to respond to them directly.

Is your profile set to "no reply"? Are you not sure? Here is one of many tutorials online with clear instructions on how to change that. And here's another one.

So...Becki, Marina, Donna, Chris, and Quilting are the most recent readers who have left comments and your profiles are set to "no reply". I apologize for not acknowledging your comments, but there's no way I can contact you directly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On the Road Again

My Jane Stickle quilt (aka "Dear Jane") just got back from a trip to Charlotte, and now she's getting ready for a trip to the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Once I send her off this time, she won't be home until August 2015. I will miss her and my wall will be quite bare, but I know she'll get lots of admirers during her tour.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cheering Up

I was in need of some fabric retail therapy last week, so some of my quilting friends and I made a trip to Verna's fabrics in Mifflinburg, PA. I didn't really need any fabric, but I couldn't help myself, so I bought an addition for my striped fabric stash (love those bias striped bindings), a large charm pack (I already have a project in mind for it), and a Moda jelly roll at a great price. Verna also threw in a cup celebrating her 30 years in business (I use the 25-year cup for filling my iron with water).

And, of course, we don't usually make a trip to that area without stopping at the wonderful Lewisburg, PA farmers' market. I came home with a giant head of cabbage larger than a bowling ball (for only $2), juicy cantaloupes (3/$5), sweet peaches (for ice cream sauce), green bell peppers (3/$1), and even a few zucchini. My muscles got a workout carrying everything back to my van, but I think my friend Dori won the prize for carrying half a bushel of beets!

There's nothing better than a fun quilters' day out with dear quilting friends to cheer one up!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Almost Forgot

My version of Jane Stickle's 1863 quilt will be on display later this week at the AQS show in Charlotte, NC. If any of my readers sees it in person, please take a picture of it for me (and one with you standing next to it!).

Click here for info on the show (July 30 - August 2)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Messy, Messy

I really should organize this better... this would go more quickly!...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Summertime Soup

I love trying new soup recipes and thankfully, I have a family and friends who don't mind being guinea pigs when it comes to trying something new.

A few weeks ago, I made this Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho Soup (recipe can be found here), with just a few changes -- I added a bit of chopped up onion and yellow bell pepper, and used a jalapeno pepper instead of a serrano pepper. I used my immersion blender to puree the watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber, and then added the onions and peppers for a little crunch. I didn't bother with a sieve. And since I like a few chunks in my soups, I added another cup or two of watermelon pieces.

Oh, yes, and a little Sriracha sauce for extra kick...that never hurts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More Pink Prettiness

I'm slowly getting into the groove of sewing/quilting again. but right now I only have time for small projects or for projects that I plan to enter in my guild's upcoming exhibit in September.

This pretty pink hexie flower will hopefully be part of a project that I plan to enter in the exhibit. We'll see if my plan works. If it does, I'll show a completed photo at a later date.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pretty in Pink Soup

When I was growing up (in a household of WWII Russian refugees), one of my vivid memories is having soup as the first course for dinner just about every day. All sorts of soups, mostly Russian recipes by my mother and grandmother. Winters in Russia are quite severe, so of course most Russian soup recipes are for hot, stomach-warming soups. But for the times when the heat of summer discourages Russian cooks from using any kind of stove or oven, there is a traditional cold soup called Okroshka that is perfect for hot summer days.

Okroshka is traditionally made with kvass (a mildly alcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread), but I don't know of anyplace that most of us can buy kvass (unless we live in Eastern Europe). I do remember my grandparents making kvass in our basement occasionally, but it was never something that I developed a taste for. The kvass gives the soup a bit of a tangy flavor, but my recipe just uses vinegar for that. You can read more than you ever wanted to know about kvass here. And about Okroshka here.

The Okroshka that I remember eating in my childhood was always made with beets in addition to the other traditional vegetables in the recipe. Most recipes that I find on the internet don't include the beets, but it's the only way that I make it.

Anyway, I've served this to some of my quilting friends a few times, and everyone seems to like it. I've had requests for the recipe, so I thought I'd just write it up here in a blog post. When you first read the ingredients, it sounds like an awful combination, but the flavors seem to work well together. And the picture is pretty, too.

I suppose you could also call this a version of a cold borscht, but I like to call it Pretty in Pink Soup.

Here you go...and please remember that a lot of the amounts are approximations. I almost never measure for this.

Pretty in Pink Soup

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced (the long ones in the grocery store or you can use the equivalent of smaller home-grown cukes)
2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
4-5 radishes, sliced into small pieces
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
12 oz sour cream (OK, use the low-fat if you must, but don't even bother with non-fat)
1 24-oz jar borscht with diced beets (found in the kosher section of Wegmans or probably any other larger grocery store with a kosher section)
1 large potato, baked, peeled, cooled, and diced (don't overbake)
1/4 cup vinegar (to start)
1/4 cup sugar (to start)
1 cup water
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill

In large soup pot, combine cucumber, scallions, radishes, eggs, and sour cream. Add borscht and stir until blended. Add potato, vinegar, sugar, water, and dill. Stir and taste. Add more sugar, vinegar, or water to taste, but don't overdo it -- taste it after it's been refrigerated. The flavor gets a bit more intense when it's ice cold (and don't add too much water or it will be too diluted). Serve ice cold.  Add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it. Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Still More Good Stitches

As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven't been doing much of my own sewing or quilting, but I have been participating in group outreach projects with other members of my guild. Last week, on our monthly charity quilting day, we put together three fun kids' quilt tops that we'll be using for demos during our county fair in August (I took the picture before we finished the third one). Just simple solid squares and novelty squares, but the tops look great. We'll work on tying them during the fair, with the goal of donating them to our local foster child program.

If I'm not able to do my own sewing, I'm always happy to participate in something like this!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Doing Good Stitches

Although I haven't been working much on my own quilting lately, I am still happy to be helping with some group projects in my guild. In the last few months, we have made several comfort quilts for members who are dealing with some tough health issues...and I've been honored to quilt a couple of them. Nothing fancy, just plain free-motion loops and few hearts. It does the soul good knowing that these quilts may give comfort for some very dear people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Retail Therapy

Just because I haven't had much time for stitching lately, that doesn't mean that I don't take an opportunity here and there for some retail therapy at a fabric sale. I recently added these to my stash of binding fabrics because I love how bias striped bindings look.

And although the fabric on the left doesn't really look like a stripe, look how cool it looks when folded on the bias...