Happy Thanksgiving

In the 1990s, my oldest daughter and I had a booth at a large craft mall which we kept supplied with a variety of handmade crafts.  My interest was in decorative painting.  I liked to scour antique malls and thrift shops to find old wooden or enamelware items to paint and sold hundreds of pieces over the years.

Fast forward to 2010 and a walk through the Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Fairfield, Ohio (near Cincinnati).  In one of their beautifully decorated booths, I saw a familiar object….an enamelware platter that I had painted in 1996.  I had adapted the design from a picture in a school textbook, simplifying it and adding a few items.

I had painted the design on several projects through the years but had never kept one for myself.   A week before Thanksgiving, this old platter seemed to call to me to take it back home, so I bought it and after 14 years, it’s on display in my living room.


Granddaughter at her First Grade Thanksgiving Dinner

Dolphin’s Butterfly Quilt

When my 7-year-old granddaughter (known here as Dolphin) saw us picking out fabric for an anniversary quilt I was making for her mother, she said she wanted to choose some fabric for a new quilt for herself.  Actually, I started learning to quilt 8 years ago so I could make a baby quilt for this little girl.  She has long ago outgrown the baby quilt and I was happy to take her shopping for just the right fabric.  It took her a short time to pick out butterfly fabric in pink and lavendar and the border in pale pink.  We thought maybe a brighter pink would work better, but she wanted it to be all pastel.

Since this quilt will be drug around the house and probably wind up as a tent, a theater curtain or anything else a first-grader can imagine, I wanted to make it sturdy and without my favorite intricate piecing.  It was a very fast quilt to put together with 12-inch blocks, 1-1/2 inch sashing and borders which became a rather wide 6 inches because of the length and width that Dolphin requested.

For the backing/batting, she chose a flowered fleece which she liked because it was so snuggly-soft.

Her mother also loved the soft fleece backing (and she loves large bright-colored flowers).

The only place I used a bright pink color was in the binding.  I scanned a picture of Dolphin and me and printed it on fabric to make a label so she would always remember how we looked when she received the quilt.

Because of the fleece backing, I could use minimum quilting and just did some very simple straight line and in-the-ditch machine quilting.  The finished quilt measures 50×63 inches.

Wednesdays with Grandma

From the time my youngest granddaughter (known here as Dolphin) was a baby, I’ve had her at my house on Wednesdays while her big brother was at school, to give her mother a break.   For the first couple of years, I spent most of the time pushing her around the neighborhood in a stroller.

Then, as she grew older, we spent more time in the house and she made friends with a small stuffed Moose and ate popsicles.  Her first word was “yellow” and that’s the kind of popsicle she wanted.

We tried to spend an hour every week at the park, trying out the big tire swing and slide.  We made bread, we made cookies….

Finally, the day came when Dolphin went to pre-school

and then to kindergarten, and I only had her until lunchtime on Wednesday.

Now, the school year is drawing to a close and she will be spending the summer with brother Jellyfish enjoying all the good warm weather activities.  In the fall, she’ll be going to the first grade all day, so today was her last Wednesday with Grandma.

It’s been so much fun.

The Great-Grandkids Bake Christmas Cookies

My two great-grandchildren have never come to my house before to make Christmas cookies, but this year their mother thought they were old enough at 2 and 4 years to have the fun she used to have with all the flour and butter and cookie cutters.  Here’s their mother baking cookies when she was nine years old.

I supervised as great-granddaughter measured flour and sugar, and even broke an egg.

The two-year-old wanted to do anything his sister was doing and got right into the spirit.

Great-granddaughter soon caught on to the art of rolling cookie dough….

….and great-grandson let his mother help him, his only comment being, “Bite, bite” for bits of the cookie dough which we didn’t want him to have.

They each brushed milk and sprinkled colored sugar on a sheet full of wonderful cookies.

We used the same recipe from all those years ago – it’s a good one.

Grandma’s Sugar Crisps

A Linus Quilt for a Little Girl


For the past 6 years, I’ve been making 3 quilts a year for the Greater Cincinnati Linus Project.  This year, I made an additional quilt.  I had bought some panel fabric on Etsy showing girls and boys at work and play.  I cut it apart and used the boy panels for one quilt and now I’ve used the girl panels for this one.  For alternate blocks I found an interesting block on my Judy Martin Stars & Sets software.  Judy has a way of giving a relatively easy block a twist and making it special.  This block is called Waltzing Matilda and is also in her book, Ultimate Book of Quilt Block Patterns.  There is a tiny amount of partial seaming at the very beginning of the block and from that point, it’s an easy block to piece.  It’s a good introduction to partial seaming for beginners.

matildaThe software was used to make a 4″ version for the border and I used the outline shape to quilt in the center of each 12″ block.


I used red calico as sashing to bring the panels to the correct size and did some decorative stitching in the sashing and borders.  Fleece forms the backing/batting as recommended by the Linus Project.

The quilt measures 40-1/2″x50″.  I hope some little girl in the hospital enjoys the bright colors and cute pictures in this quilt.


Grandparents’ Day and a New Dessert


Yesterday, on Grandparents’ Day, my two youngest grandchildren showed up at my front door, bearing handmade gifts as usual …. six-year-old Dolphin ….


…and ten-year-old Jellyfish (currently in training as a “Ghostbuster”).

joshsuitJellyfish had taken my picture last week and printed out a frame and mounted it plus he made a great bookmark.


Dolphin had promised me a hundred times on Saturday that she would make my favorite Scottie, which she did, along with a colored picture of a grandma and granddaughter baking.  She even made her own wrapping paper and a paper bow.

gifts_0002Their mother has always had a mug made up with a picture on it for Grandparents’ Day.  This year, number 11 will join the others on my special shelf.


I fixed a roast beef dinner for the family and for dessert tried out one I had seen on All Recipes, Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball.  I called it a “girly” dessert but my son-in-law and grandson managed to enjoy some of it, maybe not as much as my two daughters and I did.


  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese (not low-fat or Neufchatel), softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (butter only, no substitutes), softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and softened butter until smooth.  Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, shape the chilled cream cheese mixture into three balls.  Wrap each ball in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Before serving, roll one ball in toffee bits, one in pecans and keep one with just the chocolate chips.

I served these dessert cheese balls with honey pretzels, thin cinnamon wafers and Golden Delicious apple slices.

The comments on All Recipes indicated some people had problems getting the mixture to form a ball.  Other people suggested storing the beaten cheese mixture in a metal bowl and refrigerating overnight.  They also stressed using only full-fat butter and cream cheese.  I followed these suggestions and had no problems forming the balls.

It was a fun dessert and a nice ending to our Grandparents’ Day dinner.


A Day at Kings Island


When I was raising my first three children in Cincinnati in the 1950s and 1960s, our amusement park was Coney Island on the Ohio River, east of town.  There were rides including a gorgeous merry-go-round and an exciting Shooting Star roller coaster, shady picnic groves, a huge swimming pool, and a big lake for paddle boats.  It had everything we needed and the kids loved it.

By the time my fourth child was a toddler in 1972, things had changed.  Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, became the place to go.  We didn’t get to visit that often because it was expensive for a big family and a long drive from our house, but it’s the place that my youngest daughter remembers fondly.

Coney Island has remained in business and we visit a couple of times a year, but now we all live about 10 minutes from Kings Island and my daughter buys season passes for everybody.

Last week, I went along for the sights and sounds of Kings Island with my daughter and two grandchildren, known here as Jellyfish (age 10) and Dolphin (age 6).  I don’t get on any of the rides but I come in handy sitting with one of the kids while the other is on a favorite ride with mother.  The Beast is one of Jellyfish’s favorites.


Dolphin has a lot of exciting rides to choose from like the Dodgems, the Scrambler, Shake Rattle & Roll, a kid-sized roller coaster ….


sydwaterA ride I like to watch is the old 1926 merry-go-round which was moved from Coney Island.



It has 48 beautiful horses….


Jellyfish is a very good photographer and took the pictures in this post (except this one).  This is a view from the top of the Kings Island Eiffel Tower, a 1/3 replica of the one in Paris.


We all had several hours of fun and then drove the short distance to my house for lunch.  Just like in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, I have a chance to enjoy going on a summer outing with some cute kids.

A Linus Quilt for a Little Boy

fullqEach year, I try to make 3 quilts to donate to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky branch of Project Linus which provides quilts and blankets for hospitalized children.  For my second donation this year, I used some fabric panels that I found on Etsy.  The beautiful, colorful images are of children at work and play.  I picked out 5 panels that featured boys and used fabric incorporating white stars on a red background for the sashing.

For the alternate blocks, I used a block called “Perky Split Nine Patch” from my Electric Quilt 6 software.

closeupFor the top and bottom borders, I used a technique for putting together small diamonds that I had seen on the Fons & Porter TV show.

I used fleece for the backing/batting, as recommended by Project Linus, and machine quilting was in-the-ditch and outline stitching.

The finished quilt measures 37×49 inches.

I hope some little boy will enjoy this quilt.

A Young Artist-Crafter

syd-dressMy five-year-old granddaughter (known here as Dolphin) is a budding artist-crafter.  As soon as she was able to hold a pencil or crayon in her hand, she started creating artwork.  She loves the idea of recycling and finding uses for odd items in a craft.  Everything is fair game – wrappers from the straws at McDonald’s as well as the paper napkins, bits of fabric, beads, pretty stones, cereal boxes, etc., etc.  Her mother and I both keep an area well stocked with all kinds of paper, tape, crayons, markers – all Dolphin needs is an inspiration to get her started and she gets inspired multiple times an hour.  She’s come up with some really interesting projects and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do as she gets older and more experienced.

For my Easter gift, she used a kit rather than one of her own creations, but carefully put together a unicorn with a tiny flower.  I told her I would  mount it and frame it so I could set it up and admire it.  She specified a blue frame and I printed out a background with a moon.  Her only complaint was that she thought red flowers on the frame would have looked nice and I imagine there will be some on it as soon as she has a chance to work on them.


A Linus Quilt with a Vintage Look

fullqI like to make quilts to donate to the Linus Project which distributes blankets and quilts to hospitalized children in the Cincinnati area.  I’m always on the lookout for cute, kid-oriented fabric and found a remnant while shopping in Holmes County (Ohio) Amish Country last fall.  I thought the 1930s era panels would work out well with some type of filler block.  I tried out several patterns but wanted to avoid taking attention away from the cute pictures.  Since I always have scraps, I tried making a block with 3/4″ finished postage stamp squares and this seemed to be the perfect block to accompany the puppies, kittens, bunnies and kids in the panels.  Each postage stamp square block took about two hours to make but I used up a lot of small scraps and liked the vintage look.


seesawI used some pink, blue and yellow fabric to complete the borders….

bottom…and used a fleece backing, as recommended by the Linus Project.

backingAll of the sewing was done on my Bernina and the quilting was very simple and minimal since I wasn’t working with batting.  For the binding, I sewed together strips alternating in pink, yellow, white  and blue.

I’m not usually tempted to keep the quilts I make for the Linus Project because they’re designed to appeal to kids, but I wouldn’t have minded keeping this quilt with its vintage images from my childhood.  My granddaughter and her friend, George, liked the quilt, so I’m hoping some little girl in the hospital will like it, too.