Friday, November 30, 2012

What a BUSY November!

November 30, 2012

my mother turned 85 this month and we all went down and celebrated her birthday with her. the nursing home that she's in has a really wonderful craft fair every year and this year it was the day before her birthday. the food that they were selling was outstanding! huge whoopie pies and homemade bread to name a few things. most of the people you see in the pictures have worked in the nursing home the whole time my mother has been there (12 years). it is amazing to me that in those 12 years i have only good things to say about the nursing home and the employees. they are so caring and add little touches to the residents lives that make them feel like they have a home. i am so grateful to them for that.

this picture is of me, my son andrew and my mom. it is thanksgiving day and the mister and I and andrew always go to dinner at the home with my mom. it is such a great meal and for some reason i don't have any pictures of it. i know i took some! they set up round tables with nice tablecloths and placetags (we buy tickets) and volunteers serve us our beverages and desserts. it is buffet style and the chefs stand at the buffet table carving nice slices of turkey and ham and wonderful mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and about 5 different veggies. at the end of the meal they go around with trays of different types of homemade pies. my mother had two pieces! she is well known for her sweet tooth and they happily gave her what she wanted. it was a nice time. after that meal we go to the mister's brother's house and have another thanksgiving meal. he is an outstanding cook and he and his wife always put on a wonderful meal. its quite a festive day for us!

i do have to add that as we started out on thanksgiving day and came to the end of our street i always look for the chickens that are at the farm we pass. (i want chickens some day). that day they were in the middle of their large pen. i said to the mister, "huh, all the chickens are huddled together in the middle of the pen." he replied absolutely straight faced without missing a beat, "oh, they're probably holding services for their departed friends". i was still laughing miles down the road. the mister is a very funny man!

I think i have mentioned that my favorite quilts to make are I SPY quilts. every child that i have a special place in my heart for, has one. when the mister & I went to our good friends' daughter's wedding, their twin grandgirls were there (and in the wedding looking soooo adorable). they are 4 now and i realized on the long ride home that i had never mailed them the I SPY quilts that i had made them last winter!!! our house was so unfinished and unorganized that i'm surprised i got them done! well, i cleaned off the nora jean cat hairs and mailed them off that week! i've made so many of them that they are easy & fun for me to do. I love fussy cutting the squares and do that when i need some quiet and calming time. i have boxes of fussy cut shapes that i pull out when i'm in the mood to put an I SPY quilt together. it is also fun to look for interesting material that i can use in the quilts. i can usually get 5-10 different hexagons out of a piece of material.  these quilts are so much fun for young children. i have two "grandma" quilts that i keep at the house and the grands still sleep under them when they stay over. when they were little, before they would go to sleep i would play games with them using the quilts.....who can find a monkey first? who can find a picture that matches the other quilt? can you find a picture that doesn't match any others? they are 13 & 11 now so they don't play with them much but they do sleep under them.....sigh.....all grown up almost!

another thing i finished this month was a sweatshirt for my sister. i bought a sweatshirt from a thrift shop and trimmed it and added a zipper and pockets. i made one for my mother for her birthday (again that would be with the missing thanksgiving pictures) and my sister talked about how she still wore the one my mother made her many years ago. these are so comfortable and great for wearing around the house. while i was working on it i could not keep nora jean from laying on it. when it was finished i dehaired it thoroughly and draped it over the back of the kitchen chair so that she couldn't lay on it again. i went off to do something and when i came back she was on the table leaning against the chair with her tail draped over the sweater. i mailed it to my sister with my apologies for the cat hairs. i told her that nora wanted to put as much love into the sweater as i had because she really does love her "aunt beth". i mailed that yesterday and she should receive it tomorrow. i am counting on her not reading my blog until after it arrives! it's a surprise!

i am quite proud of myself for solving a problem we had with blue jays. they had taken over our feeder, not letting all the little guys in. i put my feather duster in the window and spent a morning shaking it every time they went to the feeder (there were 4 of them and they were big!). the nuthatches, chickadees and finches weren't bothered in the least by the feather duster. it has been 2 weeks and i see them in the trees but they haven't been near the window! i think the (color at least) reminds me & them? of the barred owl that we have in our back yard. oh, btw, we saw our piliated woodpecker for the first time in a year! it was nice to see that he's still around!  nora jean jumped on the table and posed for me while i was taking the pictures. she takes her jobs in this house very seriously!well, i'm off to sew in my "studio". the last item on my "have to do list" are some curtains for my french doors. i'll take pictures when i'm done. even though i make nice curtains, i really do hate to make them. they are a pain in the neck but i have to say they come out looking really nice and will last for at least 10 years and longer if i can help it!

lately i've been thankful for everything that i have. sometimes i forget all the things i have and concentrate on all that i want or don't have. i have all of the important things and i hope you do too.
i'll be blogging again really soon in honor of my son andrew's birthday.

until then, hugs and good thoughts, nancyb

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Prolific Quilting Week!

November 10, 2012


This is the first quilt that i totally finished this week. it's called the "mile a minute" quilt (i think) and it's supposed to take you less than an hour to sew the top (after cutting the strips). you can make it with a jelly roll but i used my accuquilt go and my 2.5" die and my own stash. it took me about 3 hours to do because i really took my time, listened to an audio book and just sewed. it was fun. now the back took another 3 hours because i decided to use up the leftover material and make a scrappy back. then for the quilting! i never know how long it takes me to do quilty projects because i'm always stopping and interrupting my work. this time i listened to the audio book "a separate peace". it was 13.5 hours long and i finished my quilt about 15 minutes after the book finished. i haven't used my hq16 for a LONG time and it took me a bit to get back into the rhythm of things but it was like getting back on the horse. the quilting totally makes this quilt interesting. i did free motion flowers on it in different sizes. i also used the frixion pens to mark it and with a touch of an iron the ink was gone. so to sum up, this lap sized quilt took 2hrs(cutting fabric) plus 3 hrs(sewing top together) plus 3hrs(back and sandwich) plus 14hrs(quilting) plus 2 hours(binding) = 24 hours to make this quilt! wow, that's the first time i've ever kept track of how much time i've invested into a project! the missouri star quilt company has a tutorial to make this quilt if you're interested. this quilt is going to one of our best friends' daughter who is getting married tomorrow.

the second quilt i finished this week is the modern? quilt that i've been working on for the past few months. this is for the same family. their son was married in september and we were not able to attend the wedding. this took me much less time to quilt because i did straight lines. i used my hq16, my frixion pens for marking and i free motion quilted it. i don't think it took me more than 4 hours to quilt it. piecing the top and the back took much more time than the mile a minute quilt. i used my fancy stitches with some variegated thread i had and it added some pizzaz to the back. i think if i had kept track i would have found it took about the same amount of time for this quilt. i am lucky that i like all the processes of making a quilt. i think they will both like their quilts. the mister and i do!

as a bridal shower gift for both of them i made a sewing kit. i put scissors, pins, needles, clips, buttons, thread, a pincushion that i made and the most important item.....iron on hemming tape. i can remember i could have used that more than once when my family was young and the mister and i were working many hours and running around for our 3 sons. i made it so that they could take it if they were traveling or stick it in a drawer when they are at home. i hope they like it and find it useful. i am thinking of making some for gifts for my sons & daughter in law. i used my joannes coupons for the items and really didn't spend too much on it.

nora jean took a real liking to this quilt and whenever and wherever i set it down she plopped on it. the other quilt she didn't really bother with. i wonder if she could see the colors better on this one? i know that cats can't see all colors. she was quite miffed when i shooed her off  of it and jumped back on the table several times and laid back down on it. usually she just strolls off kind of like she didn't care anyway. i was trying to clean the cat hairs off of it so that i could take pictures and then wrap it!

well our weather has been quite blustery but not really too cold. we love it like this. we've been bringing wood in and stoking up the stove. this year, with the extra insulation we put in last spring, it has been keeping the house pretty toasty. we've had some very aggressive bluejays that have been taking over the feeder. bummer! they're such a beautiful bird but they're not into sharing!

well, this week i love: weddings, windy weather, birds, QUILTING, the mister and of course nora jean. have a great week and i will too. nancyb

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who's cuter? Nora Jean, Mr. Evening Grosbeak or my sister?

November 1, 2012

I can't believe it's been so long since i've written! my mom is still hanging in there but was so bad that my sister flew out from wichita kansas for 2 weeks to help me and my mom cope with this. mom has made a feeble recovery for now but still remains pretty frail. it seems my sister's visit really bolstered her spirits and gave her the strength she needed to pull through this latest setback. if anyone wonders how much a visit to a loved one (friend or relative) means take it from me. it really helps. attitude is everything in life. keep a good one and you'll have a happy life.

i need everyone to tell me who they think is the cutest. #1 nora jean took her normal position on a pile of freshly laundered quilts (they were wallhangings and table runners) that i unpacked to use about the house. i left the room for 5 minutes and when i came back she had settled herself in for a nice nap. i have to tell you that she takes her job very seriously and if i (as politely as possible) remove her from the newest project she is totally insulted and sulks for quite a bit of the day. the second picture is of an adorable male evening grosbeak that spent 2 days at our feeder with 3 female grosbeaks. he would catch our eye in the window & tap on it before he hopped over to the feeder. he obviously is used to feeders and people and cats and kept us quite amused while he was here.#3 is my sister laughing at herself. we got up late (7:30!) one day but i insisted that we go by the beautiful covered bridge up the road from us to take pictures. her hair wasn't dry so she kept it in rollers for the 2 hour ride to visit our mother. i assured her that NOONE would care or probably even notice her rollers up here in the north country. we are all very casual. just as we parked our car to take pictures a tour bus of senior citizens pulled up. as people were getting off the bus my sister greeted each with a smile and pointing to her rollers, apologized for the state of her hair. people smiled and walked off to see the bridge.she didn't even realize that she was doing this until i pointed it out to her. she & i and the people getting off of the bus had a good laugh over this. she's going to kill me for putting this picture on the blog but it was too cute not to. besides, i'm her baby sister and she forgives me everything.

i haven't had much time to quilt but am determined to finish this one! this is the front and the backof my still unnamed modern-like? quilt. the back looks kind of like a modern quilt, don't you think? i'm going to try to sandwich it today and start quilting on it tomorrow. i have an hq16 which nora jean loves to sit on while i quilt. i haven't used it for some time and i'm afraid i'm going to be quite rusty.   i promise i'll show you the finished results.

going down to my sewing studio has been so calming for me. i can't wait until i can do a little bit (or a lot!) of sewing every day. in our old house, i had such a nice setup. i was able to just walk in the room and work on a project. some times it was only for a few minutes and other times longer but i didn't feel hurried when i was in my room. it always settled  me. hopefully when my studio is all put together i'll have the same sense of order. the mister and i have been planning how it will be when we start putting the finishing touches on it. it will be a while before it is done but i enjoy just daydreaming about it. one of the nice things about it not being finished is that it gives me time to decide how i want it set up. i don't plan on moving anything once it's done! i really hate decorating! it was nice to have my sister see my space because she does like putting a room together and has had several good ideas for me to follow. well, my bread just beeped and is done. time to get back to my chores.
today i love, my mother, the mister, nora jean and especially my sister who came out here when both our mother and i needed her the most. i love the fact that i didn't think of my sister and i as the same age as the senior citizens getting off of the tour bus.  i also love a good attitude and getting things done! have a great day and i will too! nancyb

Friday, September 14, 2012

my modern quilt (NOT!), making laundry soap

September 14, 2012

what a week! does anyone have elderly relatives/loved ones that they watch over? well, in our family we have my mother & chip's mother & aunt. my mother (who is in a nursing home) is not doing well so i have spent more time with her than usual. this cuts in to my quilting time! i like starting my quilt blog out with a picture of sweet nora jean. i can't believe i finally got a picture of her on my sewing machine! she got on it the day after my last blog and i had my camera right there. she is looking at me with disdain. she does not like to be disturbed when she is watching my thread go round and round.
while i'm looking at this picture i'm puzzled at how she can sit up there and not get tangled in the thread. i literally sew while she is up there. she never bothers anything and gets down only when i stop sewing. she's a smart cat!

i did finish the quilt top that i was talking about last time. you will see (and i have to smile every time i look at it) that it is a traditional quilt with some of the more "modern" colors. i think i will stick to what i like and know. i have always felt very comfortable doing what I like to do. if that means that i do what's new and popular or sticking to "the old way" then so be it. i remember my sister and i talking about getting older and she said what she liked so much about it was that she didn't worry so much about what other people's opinions were or if she was doing the right thing. that conversation was about ten years ago and i've tried to live by it ever since. the second quilt picture is going to be the back of the quilt. i'm going to have a scrap strip going down the center of it and amish black around it. that just may come out looking "modern"! i promise i'll show you when the whole quilt is done and quilted.

i emailed vistaprints and told them my complaint about the size of the lettering on my business cards. they replaced the whole order without batting an eyelash and i received the new cards yesterday. they also threw in some return address labels that i had wanted to get for chip & i. nice people, really nice products and i couldn't be happier. go on to and see their products and get some free business cards to try. if my etsy shoppe gets going i'm going to order the tape measures for a gift for my customers.

well i finally made my own laundry soap and just did some laundry with it. it was GREAT! the stuff is easy to find in the grocery stores and is very inexpensive. what i like about it is that it is not only MUCH, MUCH cheaper but there are no additives for my sensitive skin. the naptha soap (it comes in bars) is the only thing i have to buy to make more. i have enough of the other ingredients to make 6-8 more batches. i was going to make the liquid version the the duggars use (19 kids and counting) but i found this tutorial using a dry powder in a much smaller amount. you can double or triple this amount and i will be doing this to make xmas gifts for the family. she even supplies a label you can print out to put on your container! sweet! her website is: i don't know whether it is still active or not but i plan on finding out and thanking her for putting this on the web. it is very easy to make. after i grated the naptha soap i put it in my old blender and made it a fine powder. then i just mixed up the rest of the ingredients with the naptha soap and used 2 tblsps per wash. i taped her label on a coffee can and voila!!!! easy peasy is what i say!

well the mister and i have been apple picking and i've made homemade applesauce for my dear mom. she loved it and it cheered her up. of course i don't know if it was because i loaded it with cool whip (the light version but she doesn't have to know that) or because she actually liked the applesauce. chip and i enjoyed it though so maybe she liked both. this week i am loving apples, laundry soap, this wonderful weather we're having, and of course, my mom. have a great week and i will too. nancyb

Thursday, September 6, 2012

UFO's, nora jean helps, business cards

September 6, 2012

hi everyone! it's been about 3 weeks since i blogged but i've been kind of bummed. is anyone out there reading this? i do love to write about things so i've decided to keep doing this. i'm also going to do a little more advertising. there are so many blogs out there that i don't know how any one finds any one!

i've finally ordered and received my business cards. i really like them but i enlarged the lettering and it doesn't seem to me that they did that. i've written them a note. we'll see how they respond. what do you think of them? the ones on the left were free! pretty nice, especially for free! i used which ones do you like better? i like them both!

well i've been trying to get my ufos under control. nora jean has (as usual) been helping me. she's such a big help!!! during this session she spent part of her time sitting on the top of my sewing machine watching the spool of thread. we've had her 11 years and she has always done this but never even attempted (even as a kitten) to put her paws under the needle. smart kitty! i do have to hold her considerable coon sized tail because she likes to flick it in my way as i'm sewing. she seems to like to have me hold it while i sew. what a helper cat she is!

well here are some of my ufo's. when i was working and my boys were in college/high school and things were crazy busy, i finished each project that i started. now i seem to be all over the place. this year, especially with my etsy shoppe up and running i really need to get organized! that will be my goal. the big block in the 2nd row was my attempt to make a "modern" quilt. i loved the block but when i put them all together they just weren't symetrical enough for me. i changed the block and added a plum and green square to an outside edge and now i have them lined up and looking woven. i should have taken a picture of the squares together before i changed them but i didn't think of it! i guess there's no changing the traditional quilter in me. i love some of the modern quilts tho! in the next blog i'll show you the finished product (i hope!).

well, our garden has produced a TON of zucchini and i have been making zucchini bread and zucchini brownies and we've had zucchini almost every night for supper! we're not complaining, we're just happy our efforts produced something! i have a freezer and i'm going to grate up and freeze some of the zucchini this week.
this week i cat, nora jean, zucchini, FINISHED ufos and my business cards. please check out my etsy shoppe some time at and tell me what you think. have a great day and i will too. it's beautiful up here in the white mountains.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I sewed up a storm!!!!

August 19, 2012

what a great vacation i had! my big sister is truly such a treasure. here she is with the serger chip and i bought her for her birthday (her birthday is in december but since i don't see her then i celebrate it with mine). we both LOVE it. we used it almost daily. now i'll feel more confident to use my very expensive and complicated one that i have had for 6 years but been too afraid to use! we made clothes for our granddaughters: 4 dresses, 2 skirts, 3 pillowcases, 2 bibs, 2 tutu's and doll skirts and blouses and tutus with the left over material for her granddaughter's american girl doll.

we also took a soap making class at "the Flying Pig". what fun that was! Danielle, the owner,  had the cutest shop with all kinds of homemade and antique goodies. there were 8 of us in the class. the scent i used was "brown sugar and fig". we made the soap using goat's milk and a ton of other ingredients. to buy all of the stuff isn't very expensive and i think i'll make up a batch or two for christmas presents. i'm letting my soap "cure" right now and i'll tell you in a week or two how i like it!

my sister and i also went to the musical "legally blonde". we had front row center seats (she is a long season ticket holder). the seats are about 2 feet from the symphony orchestra that plays during the play. it is so wonderful! we ate out a few times but mostly ate in. this fish was my favorite meal. it would have rivaled any 5 star restaurant, it was that good! she also made corned beef hash the way our mother made it and she made me pumpkin muffins. i got so spoiled! the only thing we didn't do was quilt! we had so much fun it didn't matter.

this week i:  LOVE my big sister, my big brother (who sent us each a check to spend celebrating our birthdays!), my husband chip for being such a great guy and not minding that i leave him every year for 2 weeks, my serger and the fact that i have time to enjoy my hobbies. yeah!!! see you next week. nancyb

Monday, July 30, 2012

happy birthday to me!

my wonderful granddaughter, kendall, made this cake for me! it was sooooo delicious and we all enjoyed every bite! the second picture shows kendall and her brother, paxton  (who also is no stranger to the kitchen) after they've lit the cake. i had a wonderful birthday party. there's nothing better than family! although i complain about only having 2 grandchildren, i have to say that they are so much fun that i should be embarrassed to complain. but then again, they're so much fun that i want more! grandchildren really are the gift to us parents. our only responsibility is to make them happy. we don't have to spend a ton of money on them, just spend time with them and love them.

i'm getting ready to go to kansas. i'll be leaving at 3am tuesday morning and will arrive at 11:30am. my sister and i have been skyping back and forth daily, planning our great vacation. we have so many projects and things we want to do! wichita is a very large and busy city. while i'll miss my hubby a great deal, i can't wait to spend one on one time with my big sister. i will try to do a blog while i'm out there but as i've told you, i can't always figure things out on the computer! i have improved a great deal and will honestly try to publish a blog.

it is a balmy 82 degrees here in new hampshire and a whopping 108 degrees in wichita! thank heavens for air conditioning! well, this week i love.............birthdays (especially mine), grandchildren, my sons and daughter in law, books, crossword puzzles and my ipod with my favorite podcasts downloaded and ready for the bus and plane ride. see you in a couple of weeks if not sooner! nancyb

Thursday, July 19, 2012

new scrappy quilt & BLUEBERRIES!!!

July 19, 2012

what an unbelievably busy week i've had. the blueberries are out early this year and they are wonderful! i love, love, love the high bush blueberries. they are large and sweet and easy to pick. chip and i picked 6 quarts in an hour. i froze those and went back the next day and froze the next batch. yesterday i went by myself and picked 3 more quarts to have fresh. it was too hot to cook but i did make my blueberry sauce. this is so easy and soooooooo delicious! it is best on pancakes or ice cream but my friends put it on their cereal and over sweet biscuits with whipped cream on top. i also like to put it on my toast. it is a jam consistancy when it is cold. here's the recipe:
2 cups blueberries
3 TBSP honey
1/2 c orange juice
1 TBSP cornstarch
mix 1.5 cups blueberries, honey & 1/4 cup oj in saucepan. cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. mix the remaining 1/4 cup oj with the cornstarch and slowly stir it into the boiling mixture stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened (about 2-3 minutes). add remaining 1/2 cup blueberries and serve warm. refrigerate remaining reheats in microwave well.
i have canned this recipe and given it out as gifts throughout the year with great reviews.

now for the quilting news! i don't think i've told you that i really love making scrap quilts. i can't seem to help it. i try to follow a pattern and start throwing in more colors or different prints of the same colorway. this is what i've been working on: this quilt will be large so that it completely covers our bed. the top photo is the 16 blocks i've made up. they are finishing up at 12.5". i can't decide whether to put sashing in it or not. i think i won't but haven't committed to that yet. i'm also thinking of not adding a border......just keeping it all over scrappy. any opinions out there? the kitty is leftover from another project but i may applique some throughout the quilt top in honor of our wonderful nora jean. it dresses it up a bit i think. i've had this material quite a while but can't seem to remember where i bought it. since i had so much of the same line of fabric it was probably at a quilt show. i've cut this whole quilt out on my accuquilt. it really saves you so much time and wear and tear on the hands and elbows. i'm glad i like it so much but i really think the dies are way too expensive.

it has been very hot up here in northern nh. where we are, we get some wonderful cool breezes every evening from the woods in our backyard. it is so comfortable and feels better than airconditioning. its easy on the electric bill too!

this week i love: blueberries, quilting & nh mountains. have a great day and i will too! nancyb