Sunday, 30 December 2007

Secret Santa

Sharon's fantastic cookie -decorated tree

Sandra likes this one!
When we meet in December it is near the end of the month and becomes a Christmas celebration. As well as bringing food and having a festive drink or two we enjoy our Secret Santa gifts. Not for us the tame drawing of lots for gifts, we have adapted our own rules, which are basically these:- There is a cash limit on each of the gifts, and they must anonymously be put in the basket. When the time comes, we are each issued with a number to show in which order we must choose a gift. Number one can do nothing more than choose a gift and open it, but from two onwards you choose a gift, open it and decide if you like it better than any other previously opened one. If you covet someone else's you just do a swap. This year we decided to bring two gifts each, which made for a much livlier occasion, as we have previously been a bit reluctant to steal things when people really seem to like them. Imogen swears that her gifts are always taken from her, I don't know why she should feel that, but she does always seem to choose nice ones from the basket.

Now Sharon's got it, it was the one that Imogen wanted

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

Red beads to represent cranberries on plant material from Imogen's garden.

Imogen did a little reading for each of us about the meaning of Thanksgiving, half were on corn shapes and half on fish. The turkey place names are from a Martha Stewart pattern. Find it at along with a lot of other interesting ideas.

Sharon, under an American Flag!!

A well-used copy of a book I bought in the '80's, Martha Stewart 'Entertaining' provided the recipes for cornbread and a cranberry, orange and walnut relish. The turkey stuffing came from an adaptation of two recipes I found on her website, the first one was highly calorific and the second more modern version, far too sensibly low-cal for us. Principle ingredients are apples, chestnuts and prunes, loved by all of us

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Giving Thanks

How can I possibly thank all my friends enough?

For Thanksgiving, everyone got together and feasted!

Angela and Imogen did all the cooking and produced a real, traditional, American Thanksgiving FEAST!

There was turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, stuffing, cranberry jelly, cornbread, everything you can possibly imagine - even popcorn! The feast was amazing! We all know that Angela and Imogen are brilliant cooks, but they really outdid themselves this time! We ate and laughed and talked for hours while listening to The Glenn Miller Orchestra (which really put us all "In the Mood" - we danced a bit to that one!)

The decorations included adorable, handmade turkey place cards, a flag banner and matching napkins.

Imogen even created a reading for each guest about the original Thanksgiving on handmade cards in the shapes of fish and ears of corn!

I am thankful for many things, especially for knowing Angela, Imogen, Ann, Trish, Sandra, Jane, and Caroline.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Making a Recovery

Here's Jane
about two weeks after her hip op, in a convalescent home. We had great plans for Jane to write her own amusing anecdotes but haven't got round to it yet. As she is now well enough to resume minding her grandchildren I thought I'd better post this picture.
One of the most memorable episodes for me was a phone call from Jane when she was in her convalescent home, fairly late in the evening, to say that she had run out of paracetamol, hadn't had any all day and there didn't seem to be any available on site. Could I get some and bring them in? As it was dark and windy when I turned up with them I felt like a veritable boot-legger, even more so next day when we found out that I should have checked them in!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Sponge Bob and Square Pants!

Caroline's Post
The Wedding Quilt
Started Planning and Sewing Blocks:- March 2007
Finished Wedding Quilt top:- 24th June 2007
Finished Quilt:- September 2007
Note:- 9th July 2007 - I have been to the hospital to see the Consultant. He is operating on my Left Hand taking out a Bone also Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (too much sewing!). Believe it or not on Friday 13th. Asks me are you superstitious? Is the Pope Catholic? thinks me.
Will be in a cast for 4 weeks, then a plastic cast for a further 6 weeks.
With great determination I manage to finish machine quilting and quilt edges! forgot how difficult this can be, but the challenge was worth it.
First week of September I finished the Wedding Quilt, ready for the Big Day. September 15th 2007
I started planning Daughter No. 1's Wedding Quilt while trying to finish machine quilting Nemo! She was brought up with Sunbonnet Sue and Calico Joe on most of my quilts. I have always been crazy for these characters and have numerous patterns and books. Looking through my books I found an idea for a wedding block. (Having got rid of my Art Deco Book, with the pattern in it, stupid!) I searched for a similar one. Good Luck came with "Sunbonnet Sue is Alive and Well", on the back of the book was just what I was looking for.
The problem I found the most hard was trying to buy fabric that I don't normally work with as I love Bright Fabric.
Having settled on 12 fat quarters I thought would be OK for her, I sneaked some bright yellow in!
The Bondaweb and cutting plus fusing on 8 oblongs and 16 small oblongs took me forever! Sewing with the DMC No 8 threads was the most satisfying thing I found (Relaxing Heaven).
Daughter No. 1 has decided she will on no account see any stage of the quilt being made. The Best bit that makes me laugh was when I finished the top of the Quilt and I was ironing the edges. She came through to my workroom backwards, asking for paper scissors shouting "I don't want to see it"
It reminded me of someone backing out of a room after an audience with the Queen!
My mate Jane took to Midsomer Quilting for a trip to buy backing and maybe a few fat quarters if any money was left over. To my delight I searched and found some fabric for £3.00 a metre, with five and a half metres left on the roll it was plenty for backing. Oh! what a joy! That cost me £15.00 so after choosing some already delicious fat quarters, I went off to find some more.
A Quilter in a fabric shop is like a child in a sweetie shop.
Now I just need a sunny day for drying the backing fabric.
Son-in-law has named the characters 'Sponge Bob and Square Pants' so that will go on the label when finished.
Machine Quilted in YLI. Variegated thread named 'The Red Hat Club', very apt for the Quilter being over 50.
Emma & Ade Note ......... I hope you both enjoy the story and the Quilt. It has been a joy and Challenge to make and brought me hours of fun! Love Ma. September 2007

Midsummers Day 2007

This is Caroline's Post.

We all met up for our annual garden Midsummer Madness get together. Last year it poured down with rain and we sat under the gazebo with umbrellas up. What a laugh that was!

Time came around for our get-together in the garden again. We could not believe our eyes! Raining again but harder this time so we moved inside for our Bun and Tea fight. You'd think we would have had better weather in June but no, someone up there is having a laugh!

What fun we had, stuffing our faces talking of men, eyes, hips, hands etc. Honest, we are like walking nightmares!

It came round to our Midsummer Madness parcel surprises - Santa's Secret really- Nobody wanted to swap. Sharon's was the best - A packet of Rich Tea Biscuits - How original for a group of Mad Quilters! Hoots all round. Everyone enjoyed themseves and we are looking forward to next year

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Quilt Exhibition at Radstock Museum, Somerset

Yesterday I went, with husband and a friend to the Midsomer Quilting Exhibition at the Industrial Museum in Radstock. There are 213 exhibits listed in the catalogue, we didn't expect such a large number. The lady on the welcome desk told us proudly that Quilts UK only had 15 more quilts on display.
Had I known that there was so much to see I would have made a visit with quilting friends, I might still do that because the exhibition continues to the end of November, as I don't feel I have paid each quilt the attention it deserves.
I have to say that there was no one particular quilt which blew me away, nothing which made me want to rush home and emulate it, but I left feeling that more people, probably all woman, are enjoying this form of creativity. There were a lot of people in the gallery, and what I love most about these exhibitions is the feeling of kinship one has to fellow visitors, you can talk to anyone and find common ground.

It was difficult to give distance to view some of the quilts, and even more tricky to get photos of whole quilts, so these three details are just to give some idea of what there was to see. I loved the vintage quilts in their faded splendour, the original inspiration for my love of quilting, there are lots of fun pieces, one reminded me of a Beryl Cook painting, another favourite was a beach hut scene. The one we all remarked upon was the hanging which stated "Well behaved women seldom make history"
Radstock Museum itself is well worth perusal, it is about the coal mining history of the area, with a mock-up underground mine and many details of the sites of coal mines in Somerset.
There is a nice little shop selling books about local history, and a small, but yesterday very well used, tea room.

Monday, 1 October 2007

"sewing day"

Today we had another of our fab "sewing" days - not all of us actually sew - well I don't anyway! Ann and Sandra were missed and Jane phoned to wish us well and to let us know how she is getting on - I am happy to report that she sounded in good spirits and was looking forward to lunch and rest after physio.
I love having everyone at my house for my turn as much as I love going to the homes of the others -we eat, drink loads of coffee and laugh.
We've been working on baby quilts and now have 14 nearly ready to go! They are beautiful. Angela took some photos of them today and I'm sure they'll turn out well.

I'm trying very hard to sew every day. At the moment I love working with wool felt (after long Google sessions I have found an English web source) and primitive embroidery. Being an American, I adore Halloween and have made this little applique for myself - it's a freebie pattern from, a prim website. The more I look at these prim sites, the more inspired I become and am even working on designs of my own!
Angela very kindly took a photo for me - thanks Angela. The little triangle shapes are meant to be "candy corn," something my children and I still crave after 15 years!!

Monday, 17 September 2007

Just for Jane

This message is for Jane who is in hospital - with new hip!! Caroline arrived this morning by taxi-thought it was an all day sew-in!!! Here now are Angela, Sandra, Trish , Ann, and Imogen. Sharon to follow, Jonathan permitting! We all send love and will be thinking of you as we scoff coffee and walnut shortbread-recipe to follow soon!Over to Trish---

When we know where you'll be, we'll come to terrorise you, hopefully with Caroline with photos of the wedding. That's if she ever gets over today's abortive attempt.

Now it's Anne ...... We are on standby with the Marigolds!!! Glad you've had it done.

Sandra .... Lots of love, I'm good at shopping... forget the marigolds.

Angela .... We are off tomorrow, see you at the end of the week, love........

Imogen....Night night sleep tight or good morning from the CLOUDS/PRIX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Rhubarb Cake

We grow rhubarb on our allotment.

Many years ago a Dutch quilting friend, Irene, gave me a recipe for a rhubarb cake, which she used to serve at her quilt meetings, having found it again a while ago I made it for the friends I have made here. Everyone liked it so much I thought I would share the recipe with you. I don't have a picture of the cake, so I have included a picture of rhubarb instead! Before we eat in future I will have to get out the camera.

What has never occurred to me before I set out to copy this recipe, is that it is in imperial weights. I'm sure you can adjust it to whichever method you are happy with, as it's the idea that counts.

Rhubarb Crumble Cake
14 oz trimmed rhubarb
7 oz butter
10 oz SR flour
3 oz pale muscovado sugar
4 oz caster sugar
11/2 oz chopped hazelnuts
1 orange
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the nutty crumble topping:- Sift 4 oz flour into a bowl - add 3 oz butter, rub in roughly, stir in muscovado and nuts, set aside.
Cake mixture:- Slice rhubarb into 1-inch chunks and finely grate the rind of orange over it.
Put remaining 4oz butter, softened but not runny, caster sugar, remaining flour, spice, eggs and two tablespoons of the orange juice into a bowl and beat together.
Spoon cake mixture into a greased and lined 8 - 9 inch loose bottomed or spring clip cake pan. Scatter over rhubarb and orange, then cover the fruit with the crumble mixture.
Bake at 180c, Gas mark 4 for about one and a quarter hours. Cool slowly - don't turn out until completely cold - try to wait until the next day before eating.
You can make this with frozen rhubarb.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Quilt Show Birmingham

Finally, after waiting three long years, I made it to the quilt show in Bham. My sister Michelle, over from Boston, went with me. We looked at many mad and fantastic works - nice to see so many done by machine these days - in fact my sis thinks I should buy a long arm quilter! She's not really into quilts and sewing but was a very good sport about the whole thing - didn't grumble once in 6 hours! My love of all things primitive or with hearts on it made her decide that I must be Amish - my husband agrees and simply says "that explains it."

While there I got very close to Kaffe and Janet Bolton (actually telling her "I love your work" she smiled at me kindly).

I was very good and spent hardly a penny, we were there after all to see the quilts, AND I didn't even go near the book stalls!!!!

Before going on the train , we sat down for a coffee. Two women from Cornwall joined us. They are part of a group of 4 who meet at each others homes. They USED to belong to a formal group BUT....

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Using up those fabrics

Lingering after lunch

About a year or so ago we decided to make some small quilts for the childrens' hospice. We have been fairly prolific quilters in the past, and each have a large stash of fabric (show me a quilter who hasn't), so we though we'd use some of it up.

We decided on a bobbin/spool pattern, and to start with we each made as many little blocks as we found time for. When we had made enough to go together attractively one of us would take the blocks home, sew them together, back it and quilt it.

The first pieced quilt and more blocks finished

Then we thought, rather than just meeting up one evening a month, why don't we have a day when we meet together and just work on the little quilts, cutting, machining, sandwiching with wadding etc. in company. These day-time meetings have become great fun, we have made several quilts, made much conversation and generally enjoyed each others company. Until last year daytime meetings were not possible as many of us were still working, but now it is only Anne who is working full time, and as she works term times only we do see her on some of these days.
The hostess for the day makes soup and bread, it's quite a challenge to find a different and interesting soup for each occasion, none of us like lumpy soups. Last time we all met up I have to be honest and say that the weather was so good we sat in Imogen's garden and talked, not a needle was plied, we are full of good intentions for rainy days and winter ones too, but we are considering a picnic for our next day-time event, weather permitting!
Here is my recipe for :-

Spicy Squash and Carrot Soup
Medium-sized butternut squash and carrots equivalent to approx. three quarters of prepared weight of squash.
2 onions.
Ground cumin and small amount of hot chilli powder to taste - or fresh red chilli if you have it
Enough olive oil to lightly coat a shallow roasting tin
Chicken stock, (or cube and water), milk
Roast the vegetables at the top of a hot oven until browned and caramelised. (Carrots may not be cooked all the way through, but will finish cooking in the stock).
Scrape the browned vegetables into a large pan, stir in seasoning, try 2 teaspoonfuls cumin and one half teaspoon chilli powder to start with, you can add more later, swish out the roasting pan with boiling water to make sure you have all the juices and add to the pan with the vegetables. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables comfortably and cook until everything is soft enough to puree.
Dilute with stock and add milk to make it creamier, and to tone down an over spicy soup,check the seasoning, make sure it is not bland, you can heat extra spice in a little olive oil and add to the mixture. Heat to serve, adding salt if you have used home made chicken stock. This should make more than enough for eight.
When I started to make this soup I used Schwartz Moroccan Seasoning, now discontinued, which was a very easy option, but I did use about two dessertspoons for this quantity of soup. There may be other Moroccan style seasoning that would work, Caroline has given me a sachet she bought in Asda, but I have yet to try it in soup. Cumin and chilli works well though.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Caroline, our Quirky Quilter

One Nemo Quilt wrapped around Daughter No. 2

Caroline is the only professional quilter is our group, mad as they come, here is her story of her quilt for Jess.
Thank goodness Nemo is finished!
What a story to tell!
Daughter number 2 asked me if she could have a Nemo Quilt for Christmas. No problem, says I, thinking I could knock up a Lap Quilt in no time. Was I wrong!
No, says Daughter no. 2, I would like to have one that wraps around me! Oh! and don't worry about the material, I will buy it off the Internet so you will not have to pay for it.
Planning ahead, how to use my pattern knowledge, thinks me, easy: - stars, squares, oblongs, no problem.
Material came, oh brother! all that rotary cutting, it took me two weeks before I could even start making the blocks. All blocks done and top pieced took me another 4 weeks, long gone past Christmas I may add.
Trying to iron the 'Darn Thing' with my Jack Russell puppy and my kitten Mr. Tibbs wrapping themselves in it and Moo Cow (puppy) sitting on the bottom of it thinking ' Oh, wot fun!' My temper was not too good...
Then came the sandwich:- Wadding and Backing (I love to pin on the ironing board).
1) Run out of safety pins. 2) Moo Cow sitting on the end of the quilt, dragging it off the ironing board. 3) Mr. Tibbs thinking it is a climbing frame!
FINISHED:- MAY 2007, One delighted customer, 1 Moo Cow in picture, One label on the back.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Introducing Imogen

This is me at Jane's 70th birthday party with the pavlova I made.

I am the badly behaved drunkard on the first photograph swigging back---a bottle of lavender liqueur with the lid firmly on! I am a retired primary school teacher and have discovered that my 'Lavender Licence' is wonderful i.e. doing what I like , when I like , how I like and with whom I like!! AND I like my quilting days more than I can say. We decided ,gathered round and sewing one evening, to sparkle up our get-togethers,so various hilarious suggestions followed. Our next get-together was round about my birthday so ,egged on by Sharon, I decided to give the evening a lavender theme. I made a victoria sponge and soaked it with lavender liqueur,topped with the last of my lavender from the garden, and served it with cream. Then I made shortbread and tipped the liqueur into the mixture. It actually tasted nice-subtley lavender. We watched Ladies in Lavender, did absolutely no sewing and laughed a lot!

My husband (banished to another room for the evening on the promise of some cake) took the photograph.

Since this evening we have had other wonderful outings/evenings with plenty of hilarity!!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Jane is 70

Jane and Sandra

Jane was 70 on May 23rd, the first of us to reach
that milestone, so we decided to have a supper party, just the eight of us, with everyone doing something. We made up a menu and printed it with our Ladies in Lavender picture on the back, and a purple ribbon trim on the front.

You will guess that we are very fond of Jenny Joseph's poem 'When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn't go', but I had better say quickly that three of us are only in their early fifties.

Sharon made a very festive looking, and delicious punch with raspberry and pomegranate bucks fizz from M&S mixed equally with their matching juice, and lots of summer berries. It suited the evening perfectly.

The menu for the evening started with a vegetable terrine, followed by chicken tagine, with cous-cous (or rice for the cous-cous haters), delicious puddings, pavlova with beautiful fresh fruit and a lemon meringue pie. We all ate some of each I'm afraid, but we could not manage birthday cake as well, so Jane took it home to share with her family. There was a photo on top of the cake of some of us on a shopping spree... for fabric of course.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

The First Stitch

... Thus the day was spent in friendly gossip as they quilted and rolled and talked and laughed... Harriet Beecher Stowe

We are a group of eight friends who have been quilting, cooking, eating, gossiping, weeping and laughing together for over 15 years.

Some of us were founders of a formal quilting organisation but after a few years couldn't cope with the constraints i.e. lack of laughs as the group got bigger and bigger. So we rebelled, closed ranks and surreptitiously became 'sew-together', sharing the threads and patches of our lives as well as our fabrics.

We are starting this blog to share together our recipes, our quilt patterns and our lives.