Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

From the Davis and Dykstra family. (Paul is stranded on the plaines of Nebraska)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

stretched stars

I used the idea from Kathie's Plaid kits to make my own version of stretched stars for my dear friend and neighbor. Sharon and I are both thrift shoppers for plaid shirts and give each other a sleeve from every shirt we buy.
I cut the greens 4 1/2 inch square and the reds 2 1/2 inches.
Also, when you are not paying attention, the stars go different ways. So, a second little quilt will come soon from the backwards stars.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

let us get back to quilting!

Today is my last day with students, the paperwork is nearly complete, the anxiety of the next classes is several weeks away, hospice work is manageable--time to return to quilting--and quilt blogging!
I have managed a bit of sewing now and then, have been working on crumb blocks for this piece that is growing nicely.

I have this quilt for my sister Beth--I intended to give it to her two years ago, got the machine binding and most of the handwork done last year, and have about 1/2 hour of hand sewing left on it. It has been in use on the couches for the past year, the kids have used it with pins in it, they are very careful around quilts. I love that Hoffman peacock feather fabric in the border. It had been on my shelves for at least a decade. There was about 6 inches of it left over after using it in this wide border.

Monday, December 01, 2008

city life

Things that a farm girl transported to the city takes delight in:
--the el and buses--you step out of your door and the city is at your footsteps; for 2 bucks, you can go anywhere!
--multi story stores--I love the Dominicks and Targets and Home Depots that are on two or more floors; you take an escalator and your cart takes it along side you, racing to see if it gets there before you. As a child we loved going to Yonkers in Sioux Falls because they had escalators--the store people must have hated us farm kids who could have spent the whole day on those things.
--being in the flight path of the President--our house in in the flight path of the secret service helicopters, and when the president or vice president or president elect is going somewhere, we get strafed.
--alleys--wonderful part of Chicago is the number of alleys, secondary thoroughfares where so much happens. When I was pregnant with Seth and trying to take a nap, I told Paul he could not bring neighbor kids into the house so I could have quiet. I awoke to a house full of Polish speaking kids--I scolded Paul, "I said no neighbor kids" and he replied, "they aren't neighbor kids, they are alley kids". Apparently, in his mind, neighbors were just kids who lived on our street, those who lived across the alley were fair game. Alleys are also great for dumpster diving and for putting out things you hope someone will take off your hands. I love the metal scavenger trucks that are piled with all sorts of discards of our lives.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Finn shows her Country Threads quilt on her site--here is mine. I made mine in 1993 as part of a guild challenge, so the fabrics were set. I could add only one. I don't remember which one I added. I did use the wrong sides of most of the fabrics to increase my selections.
Here is my favorite turkey.

I worked at the hospice on Thanksgiving; we went out to the Phoenix in Chinatown for supper and I cooked our feast on Friday.
Holidays are good days to work, other than the missing my own family part of it. The patients and families are thankful that the patient lived to the holiday and are in a state of grace.
It is funny, though, to work on New Years Eve and get the Estate Call. A patient will die in the evening and, like clockwork, about 2 hours later, a phone call will come from a family member, usually a son-in-law or brother-in-law, asking us to hold off the time of death until after the new year for tax purposes. We always politely tell them that we cannot do this, and they always apologise but say they thought it was worth a phone call. There is a little thing called FRAUD we are dealing with here. My L&D friends get inductions before New Years Eve for the same reason, to get the baby born in the right tax year. Folks, let these things happen in their own time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sarah's Sisters

These are several members of my church group, Sarah's Sisters; very important people in my life. (that's me on the right)
Our name was chosen from the story in Genesis where Sarah laughed, and we have much laughter in our group.
We meet on Wednesday mornings to make sack lunches for homeless/hungry people in the neighborhood and take on other projects in the church. I haven't been able to attend this fall due to my teaching schedule, and look forward to being back there in a few weeks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

dutch treats

Seth's class is studying the Netherlands, and, good mama that I am, I am feeding the class this noon--pea soup, banket, and hot chocolate.
Droste Cacao is no where to be found in this city--I used to get it at the Jewel, but I have been to 6 stores in the last week with no success, so it is Hershey's Dark for the cocoa. I do have an old Droste tin I can hide it in.
I just sampled it and the pea soup is wonderful--I think the kids (5th graders) will like the nickname for this soup--SNERT.
The banket baked beautifully. My great aunt's recipe calls for dividing the dough and filling into 7 equal portions. WHAT?? Seven equal portion? I make it into 6 equal easily, but how do you eyeball seven? My mom thinks Aunt Hattie said 7 because she would hide one on a top shelf just for herself to snoop from. Good incentive to figure out how to divide into sevens.

Erwtensoep/Dutch Pea Soup--my mom's recipe that I adapted for the crock pot. Mom also prefers an unsmoked pork roast for the meat--I prefer smoked ham hocks. From her mother Ella Scholten's recipe.

The night before:
1 lb dried split peas and if you can find them, 1/2 cup of dried whole peas. I usually find them in the Hispanic food aisle. Sort and rinse peas. Place in large pan and fill with cool water, covering by 2-3 inches.

In the morning:
Drain and rinse peas. Do not reuse soaking water.
Put peas in crock pot with 2 smoked ham hocks or a ham bone or small smoked port butt or an unsmoked pork roast. Add water to cover by 1 inch.
Set for low for 6 hours or high for 4.

In the afternoon:
Skim bubbles from the top and discard. Remove meat from the crock pot. When it is cool enough to touch, discard the rind and bones, chop up the meat and return to to the pot. If there is not enough meat, I add some cut up ham.
Chop a large onion and 1-1/2 cups chopped celery with the leaves and saute for a few minutes if you wish--else just put in the pot.
Peel and dice a sweet potato
Scrub and dice 2-3 potatoes and 2-3 carrots
Add all these vegetables to the peas and cook another 1-2 hours.

In the evening:
Salt and pepper to taste. A bit off nutmeg may be grated on top.

When cold, pea soup is really stiff; reheat with a bit of water. Pea soup scorches easily, so reheat gently.

Banket (Dutch Almond Letters)--my great Aunt Hattie Scholten's recipe.
1 cup cold butter
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
Mix dough as for pie crust--I use my Kitchenaid mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
1/2 lb almond paste (1 cup)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs plus 1 yolk (save the white)
1 tsp vanilla
Beat almond paste until smooth. Add sugar and beat. Add eggs and yolk and vanilla. Cover and chill overnight.

Divide dough into 7 (!) equal portions. Roll each into a 4" by 14" strip. You have to work fast to keep the dough cold. It will be a really thin piece--I flip it over with each pass of the rolling pin. You really have to have someone show you how to do this. Find one of my sisters if I'm not around.
Take 1/7th (!) of the filling and place down the center of the dough. Fold ends of dough in, then roll sides over filling.
You are going to have to watch me or one of my sisters for this part too.
Place seam side down on parchment paper. You can shape these into letters, but I usually go for the straight pastries so I can fit 3-4 on a sheet.
Prick down the center every 2 inches to let steam escape. Beat the reserved egg white into a froth and brush the tops. Sprinkle with more sugar than you think you will need. Again, you will have to watch Janna or Beth or me.
Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Hide one on a top shelf for your own snooping.

A few hours later:
Success! They are all ready to go work on the polders.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

quilt show

My sister Janna's church is celebrating their 150th year--a few months ago I posted photographs of their wedding dress review. Today they had a quilt show and Janna entered about a dozen of our family's quilts. The pink quilt on the pulpit and the pink one on the right in the sanctuary are quilts I made for our parents' 45th and 50th anniversaries.

Mom made this quilt for Janna many years ago. I remember loving to choose my favorite lady--this one was usually my choice.

My favorite surprise was that Janna included photographs of us on the labels.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Andy and I went to vote today. After an hour and a half in line and after accidentally committing a felony by dropping my printouts of judge recommendations by IVI/IPO under all the voting booths, we were able to make our choices.
We were at a library voting because we both work on election day and aren't sure we could be at the polls in time.
Eve at age 17 will be an election judge. The average age of an election judge in Chicago is 72 so they are recruiting Chicago Public High School students to be judges to help with the computers. My parents are computer savvy, and many of the 72 year old judges will be too, but I am sure Eve is going to be of help. They are assigning her to a Chinese neighborhood because she knows basic Mandarin. She says all she can tell them is how to find the bathroom.
Voting in Chicago is not for the squeamish. The arts center where I taught quilting was a polling sight and there would be shouting matches amongst the judges every year.
We are not a contested state, but we get some of the Wisconsin and Indiana directed television ads. I am ready for this election to be over, and am excited to see in which direction our country will go.
GO VOTE! Or, if you cannot, offer to babysit for or drive someone who can vote.

Monday, October 13, 2008

not much quilting going on

I have spent too much time away from sewing--I hope to have a little time today. I remember when the children were little, I would do "magazine quilting" because the real thing wasn't happening. Now, I do "blog quilting", reading and getting inspired for future events.

I made this Patience Corner quilt in 2000. Every block has a different green and neutral. The closeups are of my favorite neutrals--on the left some kittens and on the right, tiny images of Saturn on a Japanese fabric.
The neutrals are cut 2 1/2 inch squares, the greens cut 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 by 3 1/2, making the finished block 6 inches square.

Knitting, being portable, is getting some play here. Our church knitting group (I never make the meetings) is making red scarves to include in Christmas stocking for teens at risk or refugee families. Crazy Aunt Purl recommended this yarn--Licorice, from Joann. It is 100% wool, $5.99 for 3.5 ounces. I am using 2 skeins (bought with coupons), 20 stitches on #11 needles, garter stitch. It really is pretty, and the wool knits beautifully.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

other women's notions

Actually, my friend refers to our thrift shop finds of sewing supplies as "Dead Women's Notions", but the huge piles of bags and boxes dropped off by three friends this month were from their living relatives. My new mission has been to take in these piles, sort through them, throw away what is trash, pass on to charity groups what is useful but not quilt worthy, and save the small amount remaining to be divvied up amongst my quilting friends.
I smile as the bags are given--they act like they are doing me a favor. I know (and they probably do too) that I am doing the dirty work. They are spared the trauma of putting stuff in the garbage.
There were some treasures in the piles. The finest tatting I have ever seen on this handkerchief.

This turtle fabric and the ships and lighthouses.

More fun 1940s fabrics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

perseid meteor shower and evening stars

I love meteor showers; something I miss most from living on the farm is the sky--morning, noon, and night. We had great sunrises and sunsets. I am amazed that I am able to enjoy the sunsets and sunrises in the city, but the night sky is paltry, and the meteor showers totally absent.
I made this quilt in 1994 when Andy was working in Atlanta during his sabbatical. Eve and Paul were 4 and 7, and I set up my machine in our bedroom and sewed after they went to bed. I call the border treatment "sprockets" because it looks like the edges of film. If you click on it, you can see that the borders are just a continuation of the center of the quilt--the whole quilt is 2 inch finished squares and half-square triangles.

I made a pair of these evening star quilts for their beds about the same time. They remain some of my favorite quilts. I haven't seen these quilts for a while, they were unearthed in a futile attempt to clean the attic.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I was lamenting my lack of time/energy/inclination to accomplish anything domestic lately. My wonderful neighbor Sharon suggested we spend Friday afternoon cooking together.
We made the black bean soup and cheese muffins from Pioneer Woman .
Sharon had some heirloom Black Valentine beans that took longer to cook than we expected, giving us more time to talk. She even let me raid her stash of brown fabrics for a quilt I am working on.
Our families enjoyed the suppers and we have enough bean soup at both houses to last until our next cooking date set for September 25th.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

rolling start/remembering less irritating kids

The rolling start of the school year is in full steam. Andy teaches year round. I started mid August, my grad-student nephew who lives here was next, then Seth in 5th grade, this week Eve a Junior, and, lazing at home for another two weeks until the university gets its act together to start O week, Paul. His ability to mosey around is all the more striking with 5 people busy leaving the house between 0530-0700. A lesser mother might become resentful. OK, this mother has become resentful.
Here is one of my favorite pictures of them, about 5 years ago, back when they didn't irritate me so much. I had given it to my father-in-law and I just found it going through a pile of his possessions.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

our wonderful block party

Block Party time again. It was a glorious day, perfect weather, and a cast of thousands. We took a block party portrait I will post when I get it.
We decorate our houses for the day. I, as usual, pulled out quilts that seem to fit the theme--this year Fiesta LeClaire.

My neighbor, also a quilter, put hers out this year too!

There was face painting and balloon hats
A puppet show and a talent show with joke telling. The jumping jack and fire truck came to visit.

A scavenger hunt, corn hole, obstacle course, Mexican Hat Dance, the Limbo, musical chairs, the wonderful pick-up band of talented block and neighbor musicians.
And dancing in the streets until the police shut us down.
Summer in the City.
Life is good.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

more plaids

The complex beauty of plaids makes them ideal for simple patterns. I adapted a Moda pattern I saw on the net to make this top. The large blocks are cut 6 1/2 by 4 1/2, the red plaids are cut 2 1/2 inch square, the little neutrals 1 1/2" by 2 1/2".

When shopping the thrifts, I get most of my shirts in the men's aisles because of the large amount of usable fabric. But, I do a quick trip down the women's and children's areas to get the most unusual plaids that are well worth the small yield of fabric.

I photographed it in front of the only place in my garden without weeds. Ok, I had to pull about 6 before taking the picture.

Monday, July 28, 2008

plaid scraps

I've been playing with leftover trimmings of the Bordello/Bargello quilt of a few months ago. I had 1/3 yard of a great red Kona Cotton that worked well for internal frames. Bonnie's recent quilting into the night was an influence, as were my friend Mary's wonderful improvisational quilts.
It is sitting at this stage for a while until I decide if it needs to be bigger.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

road to oklahoma

After the Oklahoma City City bombing in 1995 a group of us on QuiltNet held a fundraising raffle. Participants sent in a fat quarter of fabric plus a $5.00 check made out to the American Red Cross. The fabric was split into 75 piece, 50 piece, and 25 piece parcels and $750.00 was raised. This was a great way to handle a fund raiser.
I received the 75 piece bundle. It was not a happy packet to get, and I decided to make a sober Road to Oklahoma quilt from the fabrics. I selected the browns and tans, added more of my own. I really love this quilt. One of the kids hauled it out for use this week and I was flooded with memories of that time.

An aside on underlying structure in scrap quilts--note the rust diagonals one way and dark tan the other, the rust narrow border on two sides. tan on the other two.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

documentation problems

My neighbor Margaret died this winter at the age of nearly 90. She moved into the house in 1953, and was instrumental in making the block a neighborhood, helping start the Women's Club and the block party.
Her children have been taking apart the house and gave this quilt to me. There is a yellowed card with it:
"Quilt made by Mary Shogrin as a young girl. Circa 1905"
This was Margaret's grandmother's name and she was from Kansas.
I think the quilt is actually earlier than that, as the fabrics look 1890s and it is hand carded cotton batting. But mostly, I think it is wrong because the date and the age of her grandmother don't sync.
Margaret's grandmother would have been a young girl in the 1800s. Her mother may have been young right at the turn of the century. The card is the only thing that links it to 1905--the hand made batt, fabrics, and name associated with it indicate it be earlier.
Even with documentation, dates may be off.
I have totally lost when I made some of my quilts. They don't all get labels!

Monday, June 30, 2008

the journey of an idea

This little quilt 24" by 39" is one of my favorites. It was made in about 1990 and has some of my early use of shirt parts in the plaids of the trees. There was a photograph on the cover of Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts with plaid trees that started my idea--this quilt looks nothing like the magazine cover. I love how we quilters can be triggered by something and when we go back to the original, you wonder what the journey was that brought you there.

This second quilt I rescued from the Salvation Army thrift many years ago. The wonderful eggplant bodies of the Sunbonnet Sue are different from any others I've ever seen. My friend Kevin thinks the maker saw a Sunbonnet Sue quilt and didn't have a chance to draw it out until she got home, and her imagination filled in all the forgotten details. I used this as a block of the month pattern for my guild and now there are many quilts out there with this one woman's warped idea!