Thursday, December 31, 2009

Before There was Burger King, There was Molly

In an earlier post I gave a recipe for oatmeal cookies, but I have to tell you how I actually make them, but first the back story.

When I was growing up, my mother had a take it or leave it policy regarding food. Don't like frog loaf, too bad, it's what's for dinner. There was no option to make yourself a frozen pizza or a peanut butter sandwich. I was also of the clean plate generation, so over the years my siblings and I ate a lot of things we didn't like. When I married and moved to my husband's home town, things were much different. Tom's mother made everyone exactly what they wanted. You like cold fried chicken? I'll put it in the freezer while I get everything else ready. Counting calories? I'll bake yours instead. You want your chocolate pie warm? I'll put it in the oven a bit while we have supper. (pre microwave days) We always went to her home on Sundays and at least once a week when I didn't feel like making dinner. I'd call and ask her if we could come, and she never turned us down. It was always a spread.

My cooking is a hybrid of my mother's and my mother in law's styles, but I do carry the recipe for oatmeal cookies to the extreme. When I make them, I just make one batch. In the final stages I pull out some of the dough for my daughter who doesn't like nuts. When a friend came for Christmas one year, he didn't like dried fruits, so I made his with just nuts and chocolate chips. It gets complicated, but like Molly, I say, "Have it your Way".

Molly died two years ago today, and I will always live by the lessons she taught me. Thanks!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Birthday Presents Under the Tree

Anyone who has a late December birthday knows the challenge of sharing the celebration with the festivities of the Christmas season. My Mother's birthday was December 21st, and my older daughter's is December 31st. I married into a family with three birthdays in late December, so there have always been birthday presents under the tree. I did a little creative wrapping this year and used what I had in the studio to make festive gift wrap. Freezer paper for wrapping, and markers and gel pens for drawing and embellishing. Happy Birthday Laurel!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Fiber Arts in Jordan

good fortune camelsOn our last day of the tour, we visited the Roman city of Jerash, about 45 minutes from Amman. The columns of the city were beautiful, and many of the Corinthian capitals are beautifully preserved. Of course you always leave a historic site through the gift shop plaza. In one of the shops, I found these camels, made just like Kelli Perkins good fortune birds. I’m making three sets of Kelli’s birds for a swap, but maybe I’ll make some camels too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Carter’s Oatmeal Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these cookies. My mother came up with this recipe forty-five years ago, and it is still my family’s favorite cookie. The original recipe included raisins, but when my children came along, they turned up their noses at anything with raisins in it, so I substituted dried cranberries.

Carter’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 Cup Crisco (don’t even think about a substitute)
1C brown sugar
1C white sugar
2 beaten eggs
1t. vanilla extract
1t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups goodies (I use 2/3 cup each of chocolate chips, pecans, and dried cranberries)


Cream sugars and shortenings, add eggs. Add vanilla and mix well. Add soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix, then add flour. Mix again, then add oatmeal. After more mixing add nuts, chips and fruits. Drop on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees. Forty five years ago, it made 60 cookies, but along with everything else, they have been supersized, so you might get 45-50 cookies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fiber Arts in Jordan

Shortly after we arrived in Jordan, we visited the city of Madaba and saw its beautiful mosaics in a 6th century Byzantine church. While walking from the bus to the church, we passed a store with beautiful handmade dolls. I just had to have one.doll from Madaba

Journal Pages (corrected)

Tom and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Israel and Jordan. I tried something new with my journal on this trip. Before we left I painted several pages in an inexpensive sketchbook. While we were traveling, I dated each page, then listed the letters of the alphabet. During the day, I would jot down a word or a phrase for as many of the letters as I could. Many letters had more than one entry. Then at the end of the day, I would doodle all over the pages with a type of drawing inspired by zentangles. I found it very relaxing, and while doodling, I would always remember other things to add to the list of the day’s events.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Extreme Shepherding

I found this video on Robinsunne's blog, It will make you smile.

click here to see video

We leave for Israel tomorrow morning. I promise photos when we get back. My Christmas shopping is done, and today I’m packing and cleaning up my studio so it’s all ready for me when I return.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Close-up stitch paper garland

I tried some close-ups of the stitch paper garland today, and here are the results.

tree and bell

purple and blue

red and blue


The process I used was:

1.Make stitch paper using Christmas music and paint with metallic paint and gloss glazing liquid

2. Cut out two shapes for each ornament and stencil with white paint

3. Emboss using clear embossing powder. I used clear as the stitch paper is somewhat tacky and extra embossing powder sticks to it. The clear embossing powder doesn’t show like colors do.

4. Embellish stenciling with extra lines with Pitt extra fine pen, and paint writers

5. Add beads and sequins (the beads and sequins made it hard to stitch in the next step, might just glue them on after final step)

6. Sandwich ribbon between matching ornaments and zigzag all around. Using paper clips helped to hold the two ornaments together while stitching.

7. Touch up stitching with gold metallic paint

8. Finish ends of ribbon for hanging

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stitch Paper Christmas garland

I’ve been busy making a Christmas garland with my new addiction, stitch paper, a fusion of fabric, paper and glue. This garland is a prototype, so I have learned a lot about how this medium behaves and the best way to stitch and assemble.

stitch garland2

The underlying paper is from so old hymnals. I cut out the Christmas songs and glued them to fabric, then painted and embellished. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Warning: blog contains graphic photo

Last weekend, Tom and I went to Merritt Island on a bird watching, hiking and photography expedition. It is a beautiful place less than an hour south of us. It was created in 1963 when NASA purchased the land surrounding Cape Canaveral as a security buffer for the space program. Conservationists saw it as an opportunity to transform the property into a wildlife refuge. The refuge and the adjacent Canaveral National Seashore have flourished.

We were looking for Roseate Spoonbills, but they not making an appearance on Saturday. However on a hike, we came upon a pile of feathers which we determined to be the remains of a Great Blue Heron. Every other bird photograph that day was taken with a telephoto lens, but this guy met his end right in the middle of the trail.

Heron remains

…and the companion photo shot in a Publix parking lotpoking things

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My New Favorite Condiment

chipotle en adobo

Last weekend we were with friends in Santa Fe, New Mexico and a group of us attended a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. One of the recipes our chef Rocky made was a cream of tomato soup with Chipotle en adobo, which means Chipotle peppers in marinade.

Santa Fe Tomato Soup

4-6 Roma tomatoes

4 medium onions

4 garlic cloves

Olive oil

1 t. ground oregano

2-28oz cartons tomatoes with no citric acid (I used Pomi)

1 carton low fat silken tofu

2-3 t. chipotle en adobo

Slice Roma tomatoes in half, peel and quarter onions, peel garlic cloves. Toss all with olive oil and roast in 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Toast ground oregano in pan on cook top, add tomatoes and stir until mixed. Set aside until vegetables are roasted.

Put tomato mixture, and roasted vegetables in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed. Add 2/3 carton silken tofu to mixture and blend well. This may need to be done in several batches. Return pureed mixture to pan, stirring to mix thoroughly. Heat just to a simmer and stir in chipotle en adobo. Assess, adjust, proceed.


I added about ½ t. salt since the tomatoes I used had no salt. I did not skin the tomatoes either before or after roasting. I used tofu, but you used cream you would probably use about 1/2-2/3 cup cream. Just be sure to not boil it after adding the cream. Making it with tofu did not produce the same result as making it with cream, but we liked it enough to repeat it. The Chipotle en adobo is my new favorite condiment. We’ve put it in black bean soup and chili, and the results are delicious.

Friday, November 6, 2009


UFPC totepycling, a term for making something better out of what was likely to go in the trash. Similar to recycling, but the end project should be as good or better than the original. Last May I made the teacher appreciation gifts for all the teachers and workers with youth and children at our church. I purchased canvas tote bags, used Leslie Riley’s transfer artist paper, and ironed the images to the totes. The image is of an art quilt that is displayed in our church. Maybe some day I’ll blog about the process of making the art quilt. The recipients were pleased with their gifts, and I was happy to make them.

But in any new art project, there are practice pieces. Several totes were rendered unsuitable in the learning process. So rather than throwing them away, I added two layers of fabric, ironed a new image to canvas and stitched the whole thing over the ruined image on the tote. I’m happy with the results.

However I will say that it was much easier to just iron the images directly to the bags. I suppose that is the point of upcycling, it takes longer than making the original.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sock Monkey Baby Quilt

Several years ago I found this fabric collection in a quilt store in Boonville, Indiana. My quilting group at church liked it too, so we ordered bolts of it and divided it among ourselves. I have made at least six of them, and I still have enough for two or three more quilts. Whenever I start working on one of these sock monkey quilts for a baby, I get the urge to start singing, to the tune of "Matchmaker" from Hello Dolly. "Sock Monkey, Sock Monkey, make me a quilt, make it so strong, sturdily built...." It is a sturdy quilt ready to take outside for a picnic, throw over funiture to make a tent, wash and dry again and again, and eventually be used to wrap furniture when the youngster grows up and moves out.

I've need to get this in the mail tomorrow for the Manley Bambino.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First stitch paper project

I meet once a month with a bunch of wonderful fiber and mixed media artists, and we are challenged each month to make a project based on a theme. October's theme is "Fright Night". I started to think about what a "Fright Night" is for me and how to use the stitch paper techniques I have been playing with for the last three weeks.

Long ago, I had a lapse in my formal education. My family moved when I started the third grade and I went to the school in our new neighborhood. We had a teacher for about the first six weeks, then she left, and we never had another regular teacher again. My mother says there was a long string of substitutes including the school custodian and parents willing to come in and help out. Consequently, I didn't learn much that year. My parents then sent me to a private school for fourth, fifth and part of sixth grade. I loved this school. There were only about 50 students in the whole school, first grade through twelfth. So there was a lot of mingling. I must have had some regular classes with my grade, but I remember sitting in on a lot of high school English and History classes. I was behind in math, having missed out on multiplication and division the previous year, so I just didn't go to math class. For some reason, no one seemed to mind.

In the middle of sixth grade my parents realized that my sister and I were not getting the education they were paying for. We transferred to a school in our old neighborhood, and I was happy because I was around all my old friends again. However, I was woefully behind in math. I had multiplication and division tables to learn, the concept of the decimal point, fractions, long division, story problems. I developed a bad case of math anxiety. Eventually I caught up, but I never got over the fear of math tests. My interpretation of Fright Night; it's the night before the trig test. The ghost is made of stitch paper using pages from a trigonometry textbook.

Friday, October 9, 2009

addicted to making stitch paper

This may show up on a family valentine next year.
For this piece of stitch paper, I added color as I glued the papers to the fabric. I ran out of glue today, but I'll be back in business tomorrow. I need a bunch of sheets completed by the time we start week 2 of the book study. I'll do more to this piece as I am inspired.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

more stitch paper

This one was made with a world map, security envelopes and assorted tissue papers

This one was made with raffia, pattern tissue and tea bag papers. Can't wait to see how this looks when paint is added.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

stitch paper

Today I cleaned my studio enough to play with fabric, papers and glue. I’ve joined mixed media art friends on Yahoo, and we are doing a book study of Kelli Nina Perkins book, Stitch Alchemy.

I made four sheets of the basic paper, and put them out on the porch to dry. Next week we will paint them. Can’t wait. I may have to make some more between now and then so I’ll have plenty to play with. These sheets are about 15”x20”.

For this one I used security envelopes, pattern tissue, church bulletin, origami paper and a French dictionary.

This was the lining from a greeting card envelope, tissue paper and some dictionary text and pattern tissue

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wedding quilt

It’s done. The bride and groom married in April, just as warm weather arrived in Florida, so I had the summer to finish their queen sized quilt. A cold front is moving in this week, so maybe it will get cool enough to bundle up.

all done

The couple has two poodles, so I couldn’t resist putting a poodle in each of the corners.

corner detail

here’s another detail

date detail

and a motif from the church

church motif detail

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Studio Tour

I use a spare bedroom for my studio, but the space often has to serve other purposes such as a guest room, staging room for parties, and most recently storage of items from my mother’s apartment.


The sewing area has my machine and cabinet, plastic drawers for threads and notions and my design wall. It is thick styrofoam insulation that my husband bolted to the wall. I covered it with a piece of cotton batting. The project on the wall is now a set of placemats. My sister found a vintage Mexican tablecloth that was in bad shape, but many of the images could be salvaged.


Behind my machine is one of my storage areas. The red tool chest came from a hardware store. It stores many of my small paint jars and drawing tools. My parents' vintage leather luggage is on top. I keep my button and bead collections in them.

pressing and cutting area
Next to the bookcases is my work table. I use it for everything, just changing the cover as needed. I use it as an ironing board, a cutting table, and a surface for painting and design. Although not pictured, I have four plastic drawer units below the table that I can roll around as needed.


I took out the closet hardware and installed shelving. Normally the curtains are open so I can see what’s in there, but when I want to neaten things up, I close the curtains.

ready for company

Last year two friends came and stayed with with me for a week. I was able to set up two extra sewing stations. The room was tight, but we had a lot of fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pet Quilts

I don’t know when I started doing this, but I make a small sample quilt whenever I get ready to quilt a bed size quilt. I use fabric scraps and put it together randomly just so I have most of the fabrics I have used. I make a quilt sandwich it just like the big one using the same batting and backing. I then use this sample quilt to try out quilting motifs and thread colors. I also use it to check thread tension and quilt on it for a minute or two after I have oiled my machine so I don’t get oil on my large quilt. It is never a masterpiece, just a practice piece. After I have quilted it, I serge the edges. Then it is ready to give to the recipient for their pet. If they don’t have a pet, I give it to my daughter who works at a cat shelter.

Don’t tell the bride, this is a the pet quilt for the quilt I have been working on since last January. The couple married in April. I hope I’ll have it completed by cold weather.

pet quilt

Friday, September 4, 2009

Iraqi Bundles of Love

I found out about this program just as I was going through the last of my mother’s sewing notions. When I added some fabric of my own that was just taking up space on the shelf, I put together two boxes for Iraqi women to use in sewing projects. The people at the Sew, Mama, Sew website put together 161 boxes. I think my mother would be pleased.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Laughter amidst the grief

Many of you know that my mother became ill in July and died five weeks later. My sister and I have begun the task of cleaning out her apartment. The work is not physically hard, but every item we touch has an emotional impact. While looking through a box labeled "papers" I found this note I wrote when I was eight years old. It made me laugh in ways that I so needed.

I remember the event that prompted the note. I had misbehaved and had been sent to bed without dinner. I can remember being hungry and angry. Can't you just see the fingers gripping the pencil to write the note?

My starvation became part of family lore, but I had no idea that the actual note existed. What a treasure!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


My mother has been ill and I’ve been spending a lot of time in hospitals, nursing homes and now hospice, but one thing has kept me going throughout the process, Martha Lever's online Calligrafun class. I’ve just been able to watch two of the five videos, and have not had a lot of time to practice, but I decided to make a project. Since my Mother has always gone by her middle name instead of her first name, I made a name plate for her door. Now everyone calls her Carter instead of her medical chart name. This doodling is so much fun!

Carter Cobb

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Camp in Progress

we are still having lots of fun, and the books are beginning to take shape.

Phoebe Joanna

Eme and Phoebe linda


Their creativity is apparent as they try new techniques



tooling foil

Tooling and coloring metal foil

Phoebe's pages  joanna's pages

Arranging images


Most of the wet work is done, and we will begin lettering and embellishing next week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our first transplanted bloom

Three years ago we a home in Indiana and moved to Florida. We had a collection of exotic daylilies which we dug up before listing the house and transplanted to Tom’s sister’s yard in Kentucky. Having made a place for them in our Florida landscape, we divided them on a recent trip to Kentucky and brought them home with us. Here is our first bloom. Since we cut them back so much to transplant them we didn’t expect any blooms this year.


Friday, July 3, 2009

sewing camp day 3

The final day BJ worked mostly on her own. We spent part of the morning making fleece chicksflock

then she cut out and assembled another pair of shorts (this time with a much better fit)

After lunch we took a beach break. We swam toat the beach the sandbar and gathered shells. We had a great time and left just before the rain.

During any down time, BJ worked on making more fish placemats, and by 9pm, the sewing room was picked up, the machine cleaned, and the graduate posed with her creations.

pomp and circumstance

She’s leaving tomorrow at 5:30 am, but not before giving me a gift of this fantastic bead and button bracelet.


Many thanks to Tom who fixed many of meals and washed all the dishes.

washing dishes