Final decisions and ribbon search.

The end nears.... Update:    The narrower of these two trims is the one I had for years and years and goes beautifully but it is just not wide enough for the look I want.. So it is at this stage I go a little crazy just to get the right thing.  I found the wider trim on ebay  which coordinates  but it was $33  for 5 yards/... and I knew I would regret not getting it and settling for something I didn't like.  The color was a tad off when it arrived but I soaked it in some coffee and it is perfect.  I will also use the rattail and cording pictured. 

I have the perfect 1/4" pale pink velvet ribbon to add but I only have 2 yards of it so have been searching the internet in vein for more.    I may have to give up on the velvet ribbon. I can find lots of velvet ribbon but it is either the wrong width or the wrong shade of pink.  I want a very soft shade and the only one I found was shipped from China and you had to buy a full spool so I will look some more today.  Of course it would have been easier if I would have thought of the ribbon months ago...

The wider trim is not the best quality so will all have to be carefully hand sewn to keep it straight..  I can use the heavier trim as a guide.

I have squared up the backing taffeta but  I will have to do a little tap dancing when it come to adding the main piece as it is anything BUT square..  It will require a lot of fine maneuvering to have it look square..  and FINALLY an egg...


And the winner of the 2016 scone bake-0ff

There was definitely a grand winner and I'll save that until last.. But coming in with 4.5 stars was the very first recipe I tried.  In fact they were so good I really thought they would be unbeatable.

This recipe was.. "the World's Best Scones! From Scotland to the Savoy"  I used raisins and walnuts in this batch.  The  Oregon bakery's scones had just a bit of rosemary in them and since my rosemary was so lovely  I added some fresh from the garden....

At 4 stars were the "Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones" from the King Arthur flour site and they were  judged in first place by Morris.  With spices, fresh apples and applesauce they were really outstanding.  They will be a repeat recipe for sure..

Also at 4 stars (just barely) were the "Lemon-Poppy Seed Scones"..  They were just a tad too "cakey" but still delicious and deserve  another bake. I would definitely add more lemon zest to them next time. This recipe only called for 2 T. lemon juice and the lemon flavor could have been stronger for my taste.

And at dismal last and did not even get photographed were the chocolate/orange scones.  The recipe went straight into the trash and I had such high hopes for that recipe...  just dreadful.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ricotta Scones

And the winner was a recipe I chose on a whim for a really  unrelated reason.  Every so often I cook an Italian recipe which calls for ricotta cheese so I buy a carton and then only use half of it.  And there is never a second recipe imminent to use before the rest of  it spoils.  So when I was searching scone recipes and found one that actually called for ricotta cheese I immediately printed it out.  And lo and behold it turned out to be the winning 5 star recipe.  I did recently see a recipe for orange-ricotta scones which I will try also..

 This did make a double recipe but could easily be halved.  I did make one change though....I reduced the sugar to 1 cup as DH does not like his scones too sweet... Also I did not add the glaze on these or any of the scones because again DH does like his too sweet.
Chocolate Hazelnut Ricotta Scones with Nutella Glaze
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 16 scones
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or organic shortening, ice cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 100g (about 2/3 cup) semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons nutella
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. -If using food processor (steps 2-3):
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of a food processor
  4. Add cold butter to dry mixture and pulse until it is fine and powdery. Add ricotta, egg, and vanilla extract to mixture and pulse to combine until it comes together into a dough.
  5. -If doing by hand (steps 4-5):
  6. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Grate butter with a cheese grater then use a pastry cutter or pair of knives to cut it into the dry mix until you have a course, crumbly mixture.
  7. Add the ricotta, egg, and vanilla extract to a small bowl and stir to combine, then pour into dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula until it comes together.
  8. Fold in chocolate and hazelnuts then scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and, with well floured hands because the dough will be a bit wet, flatten each half into a circular disc shape, about an inch high. Do your best to handle the dough as little as possible in order to keep it cold. (If you're having trouble with handling it you can chill it for about 30 minutes in the fridge or even the freezer to make it easier to work with.)
  9. Make 4 cuts, straight, across, and diagonally, in the circle so that you have 8 equal triangles (see photos) Repeat with other half of dough. Seperate them and place each triangle about 2 inches apart to allow spreading room on prepared pan.
  10. Bake for 12 - 16 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11. While the scones are cooling, whisk all ingredients together for the glaze until smooth. When completely cool drizzle glaze over scones and let dry for about 30 minutes. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

 I didn't get the pumpkin scones baked but will give them a try next month.  I can't imagine any recipe will displace the chocolate/ricotta scones though.. 

I believe part of the success was due to a few extra tips   I found as I was researching recipes.  All recipes cautioned about overworking the dough and I did find specific instructions on handling the dough with a bench scraper and gently folding it.  The second tip was freezing the butter and grating it into the flour mixture which I did with every recipe.  And the final tip was once the dough was cut and on a baking sheet to stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking to achieve a better rise which I also did.  These tips seemed to help.

Because of this challenge Morris has received the official title of "Royal Guardian of the Scones."  As long as a tray of scones sat on the counter cooling he parked himself right by it as long as it was there...and nary a crumb made it all the way to the floor.


A bonanza day!!!

Due to being gone and other commitments it had been weeks and weeks since my thrifting partner and I have had a day out... Yesterday was to be our day and not only was I primed to go I actually had a list... Most times I have a thing or two I'm watching for but this time I   had a real list and it was a long one.

My friend has some mobility problems and not only needs a cane, but  it is also necessary she wear a brace on her leg.  So we are always looking for the best handicapped parking spot.  We started yesterday with this spot right in front of the door at our first stop... We call this a "movie star parking spot" and it's always a  sign of momentous bargains awaiting us. And it was true...not only did I fill my list, I found many things I didn't even realized I needed..  We went to four stores and had to come home because the car and the trunk were full.

These were a few of the things that were high on my list... One was pans to replace the several I have burned beyond saving without Molly alerting me when the kitchen is smoking.  I found 3 high quality pans with lids...

When I was at the retreat Connie Kalina had a nifty "mini" curling iron for her silk ribbons so that was on my list.  I found this mini hair straightener and it works perfectly.  I needed a pouch for a organizer for medications in my purse and a nice frame for a picture of Molly for my kitchen.. I found a lovely velour blanket to make new inserts for Morris's bed and several nice high count cotton sheets to cut up....

Although a extra large suitcase was on my list for DH, another magnifying lamp wasn't.

This "Atlantic" suitcase is in pristine condition and just what DH wanted...extra large and sturdy.

I never have found the other extension for the rolling base on one of my big magnifying lamp and this base will work perfectly for my big heavy lamp to be mobile again...

The lamp part itself is lightweight and has a long enough arm  that if I add two mounts to the kitchen counters, it will be ideal for reading recipes.

I was jumping for joy with this unexpected find.

I get bored with my everyday dishes and am always taking sets to the thrift stores and bringing home new ones for each season... These will be comfy and fun for this winter.

Also found 2 absolutely gorgeous glasses for my gin and tonics...

And there were many other finds I didn't even get photographed.  I was not just joking when I said the car was full.

All in all we were grinning ear to ear at every check out counter..

I am at the final stage of the hanky anniversary piece and adding the last few charms before it goes onto the backing... It seems when I get to this stage with any project I see every single flaw and hate it. I'll be so glad to be done with this as it has been a real struggle.


Let's talk tools

I'm the first to admit that I'm a tool "junkie"  and am always buying tools that I think will be fabulous and they are a dud.  But I've had some good luck lately and this first tool is absolutely fabulous and there are just not enough superlatives that I can use to describe it... If you have ever had a problem threading needles you will love this.

First it is about the size of a donut and fits perfectly in any sewing tote.  Second your hands are free when you use it...

The lid goes up and it telescopes out and HAS A LED LIGHT (battery operated).  You can get
your hand with a needle right under it.  It came just before I went to Kansas City and everyone saw me doing a happy dance every time I used it...  I keep it wherever I'm working when I am at home.

This would make an excellent gift for any friend with vision problems.  It is available at Amazon/

Next when I stitch away from home I use a travel light...  I have at least 5 or 6 of them... Some too big, some not enough light but my favorite up until now was this OTT led light which can be used with either batteries or electricity....

It is nice and compact to take in a suitcase and give good light with AC/DC.  I took this one to London.  Hotel rooms are notorious for inadequate lighting.

But it is going to be discontinued and my new one is better.

I just bought this one before we left for Seaside and it too folds down perfectly to fit in a suitcase or sewing bag.  It is about 5X6"....not much bigger than my cell phone but thicker.

But it too telescopes out and is very adjustable.  It can be used with batteries but it can also be used with electricity which gives a better light. I really like the option of either power source.  It is very adjustable and I can bring it right over my needlework...

The light is led and very bright.  In fact it has two brightness settings.  I've only had it about a month and have only taken it on one trip but so far I love it.

It   is available at Amazon.

Now I am never without these glasses with the flip down magnifying lenses. They are very light weight and I can slip them on quite comfortably over my prescription glasses..  Mostly at home I work directly under my large magnifying lamp but there are times that I need  to see close and also farther away and then I can look right over these magnifiers.

I do NOT like the ones that clip onto my regular glasses where I would have to constantly be putting them up or down and the weight of the clip-ons drag my glasses right now my nose and are also very uncomfortable.  These are working great.

Again... Amazon 

These have become a godsend for playing cards where I have to see the cards in my hand and look  at the cards on the table.

I've saved the latest new tool for last.  This does count as a stitching aide as I am usually off stitching when the kitchen is filling with smoke. I recently blogged about our loss of Molly and how she was so diligent about alerting me when the stove timer went off... I am constantly "overbrowning" things without her... For me this is a very big problem.   I began searching for timers but almost all just ding or buzz for a short interval and quit and also the alarm levels were not adjustable.  But I have found this.  It is designed for a noisy restaurant kitchen station.

It is large and plugs into electricity.  The alarm is adjustable up to 90 decimals and will not stop until you turn it off manually.  Besides the siren it has a flashing red light.  And once it goes off it begins recording the length of time it has been ringing.

It too is available at Amazon and is quite large (about 5 x 7" and weighs a pound) and also very pricey but Molly would approve...  I really miss my "kitchen buddy."

Product Features
  • Volume Control Dial - Adjusts Alarm Up To 90 dB
  • Large, Easy to Read Display
  • Flashing Red Alarm Light Can be Seen Across a Room
  • Automatically Counts Up Once Timer Has Elapsed
  • Non-Skid Rubber Feet


Adding type instead of an image.

Sometimes I like to add some wording to a block that has a theme.  Such is the case of this block with a rabbit theme.  This little poem was too long to stitch so I used my favorite method of adding words to a block...

Here it is on the entire block and it is the perfect final touch.

On my current project inspired by my anniversary sampler, I wanted to use the original words on the sampler.  My original plan was to cross stitch the words petit point but it just wasn't going to work.

So I scanned it and printed it on paper-backed cloth made for image printing.  I use a cotton variety but there are also silk sheets available.  I personally like the cotton better because it has more body and is more dense.  I just rough cut what I want to print and will trim it after I have the Wonder Under on the back.

Wonder Under is a fusible paper-backed web made by Pellon.  It comes in two weights and I prefer the heavier one.  It is readily available at fabric stores and is usually shelved with the interfacings.  It is widely used by stitchers doing applique.

I want to mount my wording  on felt.  The problem is that even the denser cotton is very transparent once the paper backing on the image is removed.  First if you are using a colored felt, the color will show through and spoil the image.  Second often the fibers of the felt might also show through when attached to the fabric with the image.

To get around that problem I attached the image FIRST to a piece of plain white cotton or muslin.  I use Wonder-Under to attach it.

Here are the materials assembled.... image on fabric, wonder-under, cotton square and colored felt.

After the image is backed with Wonder Under and ironed to the cotton/muslin square I trim it to size and attach ANOTHER piece of wonder-under and iron it to a larger piece of felt.

 Once it is attached to the felt I trim again leaving about 1/8" of felt exposed.  And it is looking like this.. There is nothing turned under so it will lay flat and the wonder-under keeps any edges from fraying.  Now it is ready to attach to my block.

Sometimes I use trim on the edges or just attach with tiny stitches and/or beads.  Here I am using trim across the top and beading around the rest of it.

The smaller image of our name I just attached with tiny stitches.

The first time I added a poem I just printed it on silk and turned the edges under.  It did not lay flat and the needlework underneath showed through.  I was not happy with it.  It was lumpy and wrinkled.

When I was working on my Morris book I wanted it to be "interactive" with flaps that could be lifted with an image underneath.  The flap needed to be even more firm so I added another step with two pieces of felt.

When you lift this flap there is a wild turkey underneath.  I have these flaps throughout the Morris book.   I added the flaps with beads as "hinges."

When I did the book about my sheep I used the same technique to add a poem, names, and other information.

I know someone will write and ask how I got the curve in the type of the rabbit poem.  Years and years ago I downloaded a little free software program called "Type Twister"  I just love it but it is no longer available and it now only works on my old computer. It is a fabulous little program and so sorry it's not compatible anymore.


Sexy squash and scones #2

I planted 3 types of squash this year in my tiny garden...  butternut, spaghetti, and buttercup...  buttercup is my absolute favorite (far right). But while I was puttering along with my life there was an orgy of cross pollinating going on.  I ended up with a LOT of squash but very few are true to type...

There is a wide variety of shapes, colors, and textures... so every squash I cut into is an adventure.  Luckily we love all squash... even if it's "spaghetnut" or butterghetti"

We also had our 1st frost and dozens of the late apples fell to the ground.  I know of at least 3 that Morris brought into the house today and ate...stem, core, seeds, and all.  This evening I found 3 more that he also brought in today and hid... there may be more.  Luckily the chickens love them and the deer keep the area under the three trees tidy indeed.  And speaking of chickens I'm now suspecting our chickens may be roosters in drag. ...still no eggs.  I really expected eggs late September and now we are well into October.

This second batch of scones is fresh apple cinnamon (with applesauce in them from above apples)  They too are delicious and I did repeat grating the frozen butter and chilling the dough.  They rapidly disappeared and tomorrow will be chocolate/orange scones.

And of course Morris guarded them while they were cooling on the rack....

I did burn a batch of sour cream rolls the other day and luckily passed through the kitchen today when the scones were in the oven and noticed the timer had expired and caught them before they burned.  Unless I am actually next to the stove I never hear the timer go off... I depended on Molly for that as she always came to find me (even if I was in the barn) to get me to the oven.  She could actually sensed when it was going to go off about 20 seconds before it did.

Unfortunately Molly has left us.  I knew it was time when the timer went off and she couldn't pull herself up to fetch me. It was several weeks ago and it is still hard to talk about her.  Any time we sneezed or coughed she would charge through the house to check on us.  She always slept right in front of the bedroom door at night and also when I was sick, injured, or having a bad day with my eye injections.  Even though not trained as a service dog, she was a fierce protector by nature. She was a rescue dog and we were her fourth home and we loved her to the very end.

Morris misses her terribly as we all do...


A Bit About Borders....

Sometimes  I notice stitchers do things because it's the way it's always done and don't seek a better or more inventive approach.  I can count myself among these stitchers even though I'm trying to expand my horizons.  The first time I saw blocks assembled so that the sashing, border, and blocks were harmonious as a work of art was when the late Leslie Erhlich assembled her blocks from a fan round robin...

This is on a dark brown velvet and the laces were hand dyed by Leslie to pick up the colors from the block.. As you can see the sashing is anything but simple and is embellished with stitching that extends into both the blocks and the borders and unifies the entire piece. Notice the detail in the lower corner.

This round robin goes back a long, long way.  It's easy to pick out the blocks I worked on as I always painted a special button for each.
The majority of times CQers assemble blocks with a simple sashing and a "ho-hum" border...like the majority of quilts.. Either there is a sashing between the blocks or the blocked are abutted to each other and most often the borders are simple bands of color...

Not that I don't appreciate the work and beauty of these quilts but I am always stunned by the occasional quilt that goes beyond these parameters.

And this is certainly such a quilt..  But even though the border has all the elements of the quilt, it seems to get lost.
I like a border that stands on its own and is also an integral part of the quilt.

When I do  a spider web I go to Helen Stevens for inspiration and when I am about to do a border my "go-to" person is ALWAYS Allie Aller.  Like the quilt above the border in Allie's has incorporated all the elements of the center but at the same time it stands alone while it enhances the quilt as a whole..

This crazy quilt is also Allie's and an entirely different and unique approach to borders. The entire pink outer border is highly embellished.

If you follow her quilts on her blog you will see her borders are all tailored to each quilt and add immensely to the entire piece...  Again the outer border on this quilt is highly embellished which is a point I'm trying to remember as I start thinking borders for the anniversary quilt.

But her ultimate borders were the ones on this quilt which went to Houston a couple years ago..  It's difficult to see in the complexity of this border in a photograph.  Not only is it complex it is all hand embellished.

This shot of it hanging on her design wall gives a better idea of the work involved.

But one of my favorites is this small quilt that is itself an elaborate border for a piece of embroidery. I love all the diverse elements in this border.  It's my inspiration as I'm choosing trims and elements for my anniversary.  I marvel at the light fabric near the center that has the huge floral elements and works beautifully.  I would have never considered it in a million years and I just love it.

Here is a close up of one section and you can see how Allie combines seemingly unlikely fabrics and trims.  The lace above the stitching looks like ordinary machine lace from a curtain or tablecloth.  I've always wanted to use this piece as an inspiration for a bag.  It's the diversity of elements that speaks to me and I keep coming back again and again to look at it.

I just recently visited Allie's blog and she's starting a new project and laying out these trims to consider.  Here I was yesterday considering just ONE woven trim and a couple pieces of cording.  I'm going to have to give this a lot more thought..  and the next time you're assembling blocks think of Allie's borders...

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