The Traverse Quilt is Basted

I put her on the longarm yesterday, after prepping and ironing her backing and trimming the batting. It took all afternoon, so no work happened on my two new projects that are filling up the design wall.

I can set my machine to a VERY big stitch. When I am longarm quilting a quilt, I follow this same process, but just baste down the edges as I go–so the longarm needle plate does not get caught in the fabric at the edge of the quilt. Believe me, that creates a terrible mess. And, sometimes, at least once for me, a hole in the quilt. For a regular quilt I just sew straight lines across the quilt, and I measure the distance of the sides to the quilt frame to make sure the quilt stays even on its backing and batting.

But with a quilt I want to hand quilt, I make big curvy swirls as they will really hold down the fabric. The top might look a little puffy, but trust me, it is tight to the backing and batting as that is the gift of the longarm basting.

Here she is–and remember the camera distorts…

I have a whole little bin of Sulky 12-weight threads in so many lovely colors. And I want to use a lot of thread color in this quilt–probably to match the colors in the quilt. These are “little” spools that are very inexpensive at Red Rock Threads–under $3 each the last time I looked.

Tara Faughnan also likes Wonderful 12-weight “Spaghetti” threads, and she has a lovely package of them in her shop. I ordered it as I’d like to try the Wonderful 12-weight threads. Those two big spools are threads I’ve had for years, for decades actually, that I bought for a quilting project when I wanted a thick-thread look.

I won’t let myself start quilting this quilt, although my fingers are itching to start it, especially after taking Tara’s online class on hand quilting, where I got a much-needed refresher on hand quilting. I’m going to practice delayed gratification until I get the quilt from hell all together–and except for its borders, I’m close to that moment. Yeah!

Coastal Clouds

I am no stranger to coastal weather as I lived near the Maine coast for almost 19 years.

The clouds are always fascinating along a coast, and weather moves fast.

I like to eat my noon dinner in the “outdoor room” (screened porch), after which I enjoy an espresso and read a little. And I watch the clouds. (The porch screen distorts a bit.)

Weather boils up, for the most part, from the direction straight in front of my porch. And almost always these days, there is a very cool breeze that comes directly into my porch.

Summer heat in the south will still the wind on a lot of days. Even the ocean will become flat and smooth, except for the fringe of the waves at the water’s edge. But for now, our weather has just been delightful.

Quilty Play Time

Traverse is waiting for me to put her on the longarm to baste her layers, but I’ve digressed to quilty playing for a bit.

Almost two decades ago I bought this kit from the now-closed Mainely Sewing quilt shop. Actually I bought TWO kits as I wanted to make a quilt that was wider than one kit allowed. The main fabrics are Kaffe Fasset RED florals.

The sashing is an Alexander Henry pattern from 2008. And it is fine, as is the above pattern. But why didn’t I make this project back in the day? I don’t really know. I do remember that I wanted to make a RED quilt.

But I’ve moved on and changed with my quilting–becoming much more interested in modern quilts and the modern traditional category–both of which are simpler and often very graphic. So, how to use these red floral fabrics? I’m determined to wipe out all the saved projects I have–and I’m moving right along on that effort.

First, the pink sashing went into the stash–and I pulled out solid scraps that needed to be used. And here is what is growing on the design wall.

The blocks finish at 10 inches. And I’ll use a solid for a narrow sashing. I won’t use borders–I’ll take the blocks out to the border and use the narrow sashing as a finish–with no corner stones. Maybe the binding will be one of the red florals? I have a hunk of one fabric that…strangely…is cut on a bias and it might work. Seven 10-inch blocks by 8 blocks would make a nice-size quilt.

I don’t know the sashing color yet. Maybe a lime green? There is a lot of bright green these fabrics.

Meanwhile, I’m also cutting and making half-square triangles from the solid scraps. And, playing with this idea, which would make a 20-inch block. Perhaps that rose sashing needs to be brighter? I saw a quilt Tara Faughnan made, using this kind of a block, and it is so fun. Her creativity knows no bounds. For sure. The squares on the right are for the next big block so I won’t repeat blocks in this first one.

Yesterday was a grilled lamb chop and roasted squash day–zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion, carrots sliced thin, and fresh herbs from the garden. I should have added some garlic chopped fine too. Next time. ***I’ve learned from son Mike NOT to roast these tender squashes very long in the oven or they get mushy. Just 20 minutes in a hot oven. Then just broil them for a few minutes.

I can’t wait to get back to my studio upstairs today! But I have some errands to run first. And cooking for the day as well, though I have more of the squash mixture.

The Traverse Quilt Top is Finished

Tara Faughnan designed Traverse and Sewtopia hosted the project, which ran as a block-of-the-month project, starting early fall last year. I chose this version, made with Windham’s Artisan Cottons (shot cottons). Those fabrics…glow. As usual, when I work with Tara Faughnan, I learn so much. And I continue to love her design work.

Somehow I’ve never learned the trick of getting my cell phone NOT to distort a quilt picture so the bottoms always look like they are not as wide as the tops.

I took Tara Faughnan’s “on demand” online class about hand quilting last week. She pretty much hand quilts all of her work. (I don’t know how she has the necessary time, but like me with hand work at night, she finds hand quilting can sooth away one’s stresses.)

I’ve hand quilted for decades now, and in more recent years gravitated to thicker threads and bigger stitches. But in both methods, I’ve never been terribly good about getting my back stitches to be even like the front ones. Busy backing fabrics help hide that lack, but Tara pretty much works in all solids, and her quilt backs are as pretty as her fronts!

Can I just say I learned so much with this hand quilting update. Like me with these bigger threads, she does not use a hoop. And it was so good to see how she uses her hands and her thimble. I’ve learned a lot of new information about using the thicker threads I’ve grown to love for these projects; which of these threads work best; and which needles, thimbles, and thread conditioners work best. (I’ve gotten some new thimbles and a new thread conditioner which I love already.)

The other issue is what solid backings make hand quilting easier as they have a lighter base–so I ordered a Michael Miller Couture Cotton backing in a beautiful teal color. And I chose Dream Cotton’s lightest backing–Request.

So, yes, I’m going to hand quilt Traverse–after I put it on the longarm and baste it. And after I make myself finish the last row of the “quilt from hell,” join the two big pieces, and set up the final border, which will be much easier than all the curves in the quilt. And, yes, I’ll hand quilt it too when it is done.

Finally, one bunch of grocery store flowers fixed these two empty pots on the porch which were begging to be used. I could hardly walk past them as they were screaming at me…so loudly too.

And a friend brought me these lovely beauties Tuesday.

Grandson Kelly graduates high school today. The family is now gathering for that event.

Go Kelly!

Local Jo’s

Here’s where I pick up my raw milk, raw cream, raw butter, and healthy eggs here in South Carolina.

This store is about 10-15 minutes from my house. (Local peeps, it is at the end of Rifle Range, where it meets Ben Sawyer Boulevard., on the left in the Oyster Park shopping center.)

The Milky Way Farm raw milk is local and comes in every other week on Wednesday. The raw cream and butter from Pennsylvania comes in late in the day on that same Wednesday. Note, in Pennsylvania, these products have to be labeled for use for dogs and cats–and that is a political fact that shows how industry has been able to control what we eat by creating fear about a natural food that people have consumed for thousands of years. Note that Maine allows the sale of raw dairy and has for a long time–without problems. I believe South Carolina does as well. But there are different laws in different states. All of these raw dairy products are rigorously tested for any problems.

I absolutely thrive on raw dairy products and have for decades now. I feel so lucky that I can obtain them here in South Carolina. Note that the very best time to buy raw butter is in the spring when the grass is fresh. The spring butter is a deep yellow color, unlike the winter butter. I try to buy some extra to freeze for the winter, but I don’t have much freezer space here, and I’m hesitant to stock a small freezer in the garage–hurricanes and power outages, you know. And it is easy enough to shop frequently here.

Way back when I started this blog–and after getting to Maine and researching food issues for various complicated issues of my own–I tried to read for folks too busy to research for themselves and to post what I was learning on the blog AND to publish informative essays in the local paper for my community to read. Over 40 essays were published, and they are all here on the blog.

One of the books I read fairly early in this effort was THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK by Ron Schmid (2009). Starting in April 2010, I wrote three essays around this book and my own life experiences with raw dairy. They are the Mainely Tipping Points essays 6, 7, and 8. If my links below do not work, just search on the title of the book. I, myself, had trouble getting to these essays as the blog is old, and I often have trouble getting back to early essays until I figure out what search words to use.

It is so, so important to constantly read food labels–because they change all the time, as does the meaning of various words used in labels. And it is important to know the history of many foods in order to make good choices that will keep you and your loved ones healthy. And to know what constitutes an objective scientific study that is valid and what is just industry advertising all dressed up as something useful for you.


Raw dairy was one of the many food places where I started to transform my life and my health, so I took this little trip down memory lane as to why I took this direction.

Memorial Day 2023

It’s a beautiful day here today–after (much needed) two days of rain and one day of overcast clouds.

I have the porch back for lunch as it has now dried out and the temps are comfortably warmer. We’ve all been in warmer clothes these past three days.

So, I grilled a steak–which will give me three meals.

And I put my dinner portion of steak on a big salad as that just felt right today. In addition to a lettuce medley, I had cooked food “assets” in the refrigerator that I added (corn taken off cobs, broccoli, little green peas). Fresh food additions were carrot, red pepper, sweet onion, cucumber, and fresh herbs (dill, mint, basil) added to a shake or two of a dried herbal mixture. Dressing was my Organic Roots Koroneiki olive oil. And, flaked salt, of course.

The flowers my granddaughter and son brought me a week ago are playing out now. I don’t quite have enough flowers in the garden to fill two pots yet. Hmmm… I’m sure something else can be done about the lack of flowers!

I’m reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I somehow missed some years back. There is a movie, too, but I thought I should read the book before watching the movie.

I puttered about in the garden this morning, and Alex was here to mow my lush-looking grass.

About a year ago, maybe more, SIL Maryann took some of the mint in my Maine garden. That mint came from my grandmother’s Georgia garden, and I had had it for at least 50 years. When I moved to South Carolina, winter was encroaching, and I was so, so busy that I did not dig any of the mint to take with me. The mint at Maryann’s is thriving, so she dug me some and mailed it. I planted it this morning. Best of all, if it doesn’t make it, I could probably get more. I planted it well away from the mint I bought here, which is thriving.

I’m making the last row of the Traverse quilt. It’s a complicated row, and a granddaughter spent Friday night with me, and we played for most of Saturday, so Traverse got put on hold. But…maybe today…it will be ready for some pictures.

And that is where I am going now.

I hope you are all enjoying this holiday Monday.

The Last Plant?

I think perhaps I’ve planted the last plant in this very long sunny bed. Unless I suppose, I happen across another perennial that wants to come home with me. But, mostly, I want to see how these plants spread and if they hold their own. I don’t want to overcrowd this bed. The last two plants are on the far end and are another Encore (everblooming) azalea and another “Frost Proof Gardenia.” The herbs below are basil, mint (perennial), and Italian parsley (it will come back for a second year and seed itself).

I still need a hose solution…

The roses are THRIVING and the moment and are covered with blooms and new growth. And unlike the roses in islands in highways, these have lots of leaves all the way down–which means they are getting the nutrition they need.

The roses are so cheerful. And, pretty.

The Asiatic Jasmine (which is not really jasmine) is spreading nicely now. It is sending out shoots underneath the pine straw in many cases.

Here it is in the long bed on the sunny side of the house. For the moment, I’m not planning on doing anything else with this bed as the ground cover will cover it. And, it will bloom and be fragrant in the spring.

On the front (street) side of this bed I planted one of the gardenias, and the luscious smell from it greets one at the garage door area.

These two plants below were among the first ones of the first I planted. They are to the left of the screen porch door and are under my bedroom windows. Each will get MUCH bigger. The Limelight hydrangea is forming blooms. And on the left, the viburnum will bloom next spring.

These herbs are mostly doing ok. I put some compost on them the other day. The lavender and the taller thyme are blooming.

The rosemary in the pot on the porch is thriving. I use it all the time.

As is the newly planted small pot on the table–with an annual I know but whose name is not on the tip of my tongue this morning.

We are expecting rain today, which is now needed again. The grass will be happy, the new plants will be happy, and I will be happy as I’m going to have time to sew. The Traverse quilt is only lacking 2 pieced rows now, and one of those is half finished.

Cricket Frogs

I am fascinated with the, literally, hundreds of tiny little frogs that live in the pine straw in my garden beds–and who bail to the grass when heavy rains make the pine straw too wet for them (?).

After researching frogs in South Carolina, I think they are a local form of the Southern Cricket Frog. The Northern Cricket Frog may be more prevalent in the western part of the state.

I took this pictures on the driveway after heavy rains.

These tiny frogs range from 1/2 inch to just under an inch. They derive from the tree frog family, but do NOT have tree-frog sticky foot pads. But they can jump, apparently, astonishing distances.

Mostly, I see them RUNNING and jumping.

Here’s a video I took just a big ago–before we get more rain today.

These little creatures eat insects, of course. They can, apparently camouflage themselves, so I see a range of tan/grey (the clay), to brown (the pine straw) to a deep black (the compost dirt). They can also “play dead” when you pick them up. And, they will pee on your hand too.

Here’s more info if you feel so inclined.,with%20shallow%20bodies%20of%20freshwater.

Baked Fish Chowder Revisited

I tried the baked fish “chowder” again–but this time with a base of sliced Russet potatoes treated a bit like a scalloped recipe. Russets will hold up to baking without falling apart. I added a carrot sliced thin, alongside the frozen corn and peas from last time. I added, again, bits of sweet onion, but also some grated mozzarella cheese over my potato base just before adding the fish. You could add Swiss cheese, which is included in a classic scalloped potato dish. Or whatever cheese you want. Add herbs and salt, of course.

I sliced the one Russet potato with the mandolin to get really thin slices. And that was plenty for my square pan.

The trick is that the potatoes should be covered with a mixture of whole milk and cream or half and half. *** AND they need to cook by themselves for a good 30 minutes before adding the cheese and the fish. Remember that thin fish fillets will cook in about 15-20 minutes.

The fish will add liquid that will be needed, but add more of your milk mixture if it has cooked out enough that it won’t cover at least the bottom of the fish. Add the cheese to the top of the potatoes and put the fish on top. Add salt and herbs to the fish. Dot the fish with butter.

Again, it was a delicious meal. And by cooking two fillets, I had food for another meal that just needed to be reheated–and maybe a bit more milk added.

I am loving this dish!

The Gardenia Is Blooming

The “Frost Proof Gardenia” I planted on the shade side of the house is BLOOMING and is covered with buds. I couldn’t believe how fragrant it is. I cut two blooms and brought them into the house to occupy one of the little pottery vases that sit next to my kitchen sink. The pottery vase on the left holds a sprig of mint and some blooms from the Vitex I planted last week.

I often bring herbs from the into the house and put them into these vases, so their goodness is available when I’m cooking. I particularly like the mint in the bowls of fresh fruit I’ve been eating lately (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cut up cantaloupe).

We had two nights and one day of really good rain, so yesterday when the sun emerged again, I dug a hole for the azalea that has been waiting for me to plant. After all that rain, the digging into the clay was easy, so I went ahead and dug the last two holes I will need on the sunny side of the house. And I prepped them with sand and compost mixed with the clay. I hope the sand will provide the drainage needed here and the compost will provide food for the plants.

I am off this morning to buy one more of these amazing azaleas that will bloom all summer and another gardenia. I would love a Tea Olive shrub, but the remaining area I could plant isn’t sunny enough for one. Plus, even the shrub versions get too tall for most area around this house. The plantings, for the most part, need to be kept to shorter choices. And, more shallow rooted.

Have a great weekend everyone!