Turkey Tracks: Katja Marek’s EPP: THE NEW HEXAGON

Turkey Tracks:  March 23, 2016


Katja Marek has designed 52 hexagon blocks, each of which has been split into interesting shapes.

AND, there are many ways to use these blocks.

AND, there are many ways to make these blocks.

First, you can use other shapes to combine the hexagons into a quilt, like the triangles on the cover.


Like THE FARMER’S WIFE books, each block has a female name.

You can draw your own templates.  Or, you can go to English Paper Piecing LLC and buy the pieces for each block.  I bought the whole package to make all 52 blocks.  AND/OR, you can buy a set of acrylic templates that help you fussy cut and/or make your own paper pieces.  (I’m going to try to make my “fussy cut” pieces by tracing pieces onto template plastic.)



BUT, BUT, BUT, what I discovered in the past few days is that Marek is ALSO making these blocks into finished tiny quilts that you then sew together to make a quilt.  They are SO CUTE!  Each has a neutral low-volume fabric border.

Here are some pics from Instagram:

A single “quilt-let”:

And several in a pile:

I’m going to do this latter project BEFORE doing a project linked by the triangles.

These blocks, without the neutral border, have three-inch sides.

The English Paper Piecing LLC site has materials for BOTH Marek’s projects:  the Millifiore quilt I’m going to do AND these little “quilt-lets.”  The book has the three-inch blocks and the English PP LLC site also has a four-inch project.

My Essays: Big House: Reynolds, Georgia

My Essays:  March 2016

Big House:  Reynolds, Georgia

This.  House.

A cousin who lives in Georgia recently posted this picture of our family home in Reynolds, Georgia.

I cannot even begin to tell you the memories and love that this house holds for so many people.  I cannot even begin to tell you that I still dream of being in that house among the beloved members of my family–the older members of which can now live only in my memories and dreams.

Or, how happy I am to see that it is being lovingly restored so that it will go on to be a haven for even more people.

Big House was a casualty of the consolidation of small farms into big ones, of changes in federal monetary policy, of the movement of rural people into cities.  It had just been bought and restoration started the last time I saw it–at my mother’s funeral.


Behind the two windows on the upper left was the “blue” bedroom.  One could crawl through a third window on the “poka chez” (porte cochère) side– quietly as the floor out there was tin that crackled–and spy on an older cousin coming in from a date.  Would she let her date kiss her or not???  I fell asleep, so never really found out.  We were, of course, strictly forbidden from going out onto those roofs.

Upstairs were the blue room, the pink room, the red room, the small sleeping room, and in the middle, over the stairs, the sleeping porch with its bed raised up to the height of the windows so it could catch any summer breeze.  (Air conditioning wasn’t around when I was about 10 or so.)  Big windows opened up over the central stair well from this room, and once, a cousin sleep walked out of them and fell down the stairs.  Why that fall didn’t kill him, we will never know.  He didn’t seem to be hurt at all.  It was a drop of 8 feet or so to the middle stair landing.

Upstairs had ONE bathroom that we all shared–even when all the bedrooms were full.  I never recall feeling I needed it and could not get into it.

Downstairs ceilings were so high–at least twelve feet.  The rooms had BIG fireplaces, and in the winter, roaring fires, around which we gathered, were part of that season.

On the right, behind the green tree, lower level, is “the north porch”–site of many evenings of sitting in the dark after dinner and visiting, telling stories, and talking politics sometimes–with the glow of the adults’ cigarettes the only light as the dark closed in on a hot summer night.  Often, after breakfast, my grandfather would come in from the farm with a mess of peas  or beans that needed shelling for dinner, and we’d sit in the cool of this porch and do this work before being driven out to the “Reynolds pool” for a morning swim.  This pool was fed by three artisan wells that were crystal clear and icy cold.

The back yard was shady and covered with pine straw.  When freshly laid down, we had to walk gently with our bare feet.  My grandmother’s famous garden stretched to the right side of the house for several hundred feet or so and was laid out in sandy paths bordered by river rocks.  She had so many azaleas and camellias.  It was here that I learned from her so many plant names–and where attempts to pick up baby blue jays in the spring resulted in the mother bird dive bombing my head with real intent to harm.  We played “kick the can” by the hours in this back yard, with grandmother threatening our deaths if we hurt any of her bushes when we hid beneath them.  Or if we pulled any of the red Nandina berries to use for weapons. With all that running, someone always stubbed a toe on the pathway river rocks, and grandmother used to laugh her great big belly laugh.  We had to laugh, too, through the pain, and realized we had just learned a lesson about being more careful.  We used to climb up onto the roof of the garage–using the roof of the smoke house to get started–though forbidden.  None of us ever fell off.

Pop and Grandmother had any of their grandchildren or children of their cousins who could come–at any time of the year.  Big House was our home away from home.  It was my anchor in a military life of moving every few years.  It was where my love of the land, of gardening, of growing food, of preserving good, of cooking, of making your own fun, of being part of a family started and grew.  I spent a lot of time in a city while raising my own children (and myself, truth to tell), so it an utter joy to be able to live once again close to the land up here in Maine and among people who value a more rural life and who still have small farms.

Big House is lost.  That way of life is lost.  At 71 now, I often mourn that loss and wish for those simpler times.  They were simple, yes, but also harder.  Cash was hard to come by.  Credit, too.  Goods had not yet flooded the market as they have now.  Racism ran rampant, yes, and that’s a whole other story.  But, many people could and did take a month’s vacation without worrying about their jobs.  People lived with having less and made do.  We fished, we swam, we spent time in the woods, we visited with friends, we grew and harvested food, and we ate well three times a day–together–with food freshly cooked that we shared.  (No one had special meals made for them.)  Life was not so “instant,” so fast, so connected in ways that have killed one’s privacy and time off.  There was time for reflection before acting.  Educated people were respected, even though some of the “educated” were sometimes thought to be a bit strange.  Nevertheless, getting good grades in school was important.

Kindness was valued.  Personal honor was valued.  Community was supported.  Winning was not ok if one cheated or lied to win.  Sex was private and personal, and bodies and body parts were not flaunted.  Polite language was demanded in mixed company.  Of course people still “sinned” in those ways, but they were socially punished when they did.  Those sanctions could last a life time if the deeds were severe enough.

Where are we now?  Today’s politics tells it all.  Kindness is not valued.  Personal honor is not valued.  Community is not supported when factions of it are called out for ridicule and demonization and when good people support this behavior because they believe that they, personally, will benefit.  Cheating and lying are par for the course, and people do not care because they think they, personally, will benefit.  Sex and body parts are flaunted–the wife of one presidential wannabe who has been married three times has naked, sexy pictures all over the internet.  Polite language and manners are a thing of the past.  Education and knowledge is demeaned; the hard work of learning about issues or government structures is not done.  And the one candidate who “sins” in this way every day could win the GOP primary, though not, I think, the national election.

Indeed, it’s more clear every day that winning an election is more important than honor for many of these candidates and for their political party.  Personal ego and preserving wealth for the wealthy has overridden community.  The market, with all its mandates (like business driven health care/insurance) and controls (deep pockets in legal fights) and political money infusions, is winning.  And we, all, will be further lost in this morass of false promises because the ends do not ever justify the means.  No one can “lead” from inside such a morass.

I want to go back…

…to my childhood days at Big House.

It was not a perfect time, but the rules were clear and the punishments clearer, and we were all better for them.









Turkey Tracks: Alewives Fabrics Low-Volume Monthly Fabric Club

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2016

Alewives Fabrics Low-Volume Monthly Fabric Club

Friend Megan Bruns did a monthly fabric club with Alewives Fabric (Damariscotta Mills, Maine) that she truly enjoyed.  She’s using those fabrics in her Passacaglia Millefiori Quilt.  (See earlier posts.)

Alewives is doing a low-volume version, and I just signed up.  I LOVE the low-volume fabrics the market is putting out now.  This club starts in May and is already filling.  They will limit membership as they are a small shop.

Here’s the information:

Source: Alewives Fabrics: Fabrics

In the newsletter message I got from them, they included the prettiest picture of an English Paper Piecing project from Tracey Jay Quilts–called a “Morning Star” block.  I just ordered that for $6 too.


The block is in the center, and the pattern forms through color manipulation.  The package comes with a blank coloring plan.

Isn’t this gorgeous.  Low volume prints and brights.  Heaven must be made of these colors!

Fussy cutting could add a whole new intricacy to this idea as well.



Turkey Tracks: Katja Marek’s Millefiore Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2016

Katja Marek’s Millefiore Quilt

I finally found a good picture of Katja Marek’s Millefiori Quilt:


I have 5 of the “rosette” packages for the English Paper Pieces.  You can get them at the English Paper Piecing Web site.  And there is a “club” of people doing a rosette a month, or something like that.  Once you have a package in hand, you go to Katja Marek’s web site for refined instructions.

The large rosette in the middle left of the quilt (rose/yellow/green) is the starting point.  I have TWO of these packages as I want to do one with baby fabrics and use it as the beginning of a medallion quilt.

These pieces are larger than some of the other millefiori quilt patterns–so I think this quilt will be more accessible to more people, including ME.

My thanks to friend Becca Babb-Brott (Etsy store:  Sew Me A Song) for introducing me to this Katja Marek pattern.

AND to friend Megan Bruns, who has been a trailblazer in this whole millefiori quilt knowledge base.  (You should see her finished rosettes–and I will ask her for some pics when I get back from Charleston.)


Turkey Tracks: Tami’s Table Runner

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2016

Tami’s Table Runner

DIL Tami came for my birthday this past weekend.

What a terrific gift.

It was a win-win as her birthday is in mid-February, so I helped with her trip up, and she came for my birthday.

We went flat out for four days–and, of course, had non-stop talking and catching up.

We never get this kind of time together in any large measure–and Tami has such a rigorous schedule with four kiddos and lots of school drop off/pick up, that the break away was good for her.

We went to Alewives–Tami loves Alewives–and I do too.  We came home with fabrics for a table runner for her looooonnnng farm-style dining table.


We copied Rhea Butler’s idea of combining light and dark 3 1/2-inch light/dark squares into blocks.  Rhea used 5 blocks, which works better in a quilt.  We used 7 to get the width Tami needs for the table runner.

Here are some of the other fabrics we chose:


The next day we spent about 5 hours sewing and cutting and organizing a long, thin batting, and the time flew by.

Tami got all the blocks cut and into baggies, so she just has to sew the blocks together into the big blocks when she gets home.

She left with the math done for the backing and binding and what threads she will need.

I am going to Charleston next week, so we’ll finish it up then.

We could not get everything into her suitcase, so the package is going into the top of a box of two quilts that I am mailing to two of my son Bryan’s daughters.  I was to mail that package today, but will when the hill I live on gets plowed.  I’ll post pics on those quilts when the girls and  parents have seen them.

Turkey Tracks: Kathy Dietz Pesce’s French Braid Quilts

Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2016

Kathy Dietz Pesce’s

French Braid Quilts

Today is the first day of spring AND we are having a snow storm here in Maine.

(That’s not unusual.  And I probably caused it because I switched out my winter cords/sweaters/wool socks/mittens/hats for spring clothes.  I had to retrieve some of my winter gear.)


This morning was lazy–a catch-up day after a terrific weekend with DIL Tami, where we went flat out for 4 days.  Along the way this morning, Kathy Pesce and I traded some FB messages, and she sent me her “snow day” and weekend quilting, a beautiful little French Braid quilt in shades of rose/pink/garnet.  That led to more sharing, and I thought you might like to share her beautiful quilts with me too.

Here’s the rose/pink one:


The border fabric is Japanese–up close it has the most wonderful texture.

Kathy is trying to use up her stash, like me, and loves small pieces of fabric, like me.  And, like me, she’s found Bonnie Hunter’s stash management system and scrappy quilt projects.  She’s made more of Bonnie’s mystery quilts than I have.  The florals in her quilts are an effort to use up stash.  And, like me, these days she is more drawn to the brighter and low-volume fabrics, but has a lot of fabric from earlier quilting eras.

Here’s another French Braid that is using florals:


Gorgeous!!  I did not ask her if she does her own quilting…

Love the quilt admirer on this quilt too.

Here’s a French Braid where Kathy has really gone scrappy:


This one has set my brain into project planning!!!

Thanks so much Kathy, for the connection, the sharing this morning, and these beautiful quilts.

Turkey Tracks: Happy Birthday Miss Reynolds Georgia

Turkey Tracks:  March 15, 2016

Happy Birthday Miss Reynolds Georgia

Fourteen years ago, I brought home Miss Reynolds Georgia, aka “The Beauty Queen.”

(She’s always “the queen” with regard to usurper No No Penny, who steals her beds, her place at my side, and tries to steal her food from time to time.”)

She’s a rat terrier, but one who is the product of being bred back to Chihuahuas to make them smaller.  It has also made them “trickier” in terms of health and temperament.

Rey Rey was so so tiny.  She could fit into my two palms.

She came home in my lap, under a towel, on the long ride from the Virginia countryside to Falls Church.

For the past fourteen years, she has followed my every step, my every move from room to room, my sleeping and waking, my car trips.  (She rides shot gun on the front seat and loves to drive.)

She grieves when I leave her and settles down to wait out the separation.

It’s hard to get a picture of her as she does not like the camera and looks away.

But, here she is today.

She has a huge place in my heart.



She looks great for fourteen, doesn’t she?

(That quilt was made by Gail Galloway Nicholson and quilted by Joan Herrick and gets used every night while we watch television.)

Interesting Information: ‘Cancer Screening Has Never Saved Lives’ – BMJ Study Concludes

Interesting Information:  March 16, 2016

“Cancer Screening Has Never Saved Lives”

Here’s how the article begins:

Millions have marched for “cancer causes.” Millions more have been diagnosed “early” and now believe screening saved their lives. But a new study confirms something we have been reporting on since our inception: In most cases, screening not only has not “saved lives,” but actually increases your risk of dying.

First, what is The BMJ?

The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) is an international peer reviewed medical journal and a fully online first publication. The website is updated daily with original articles, podcasts, videos, and blogs and organised into four main content streams—research, education, news and views, and campaigns. In addition, the site is fully searchable, with an archive back to 1840 and numerous topic collections on clinical and non-clinical subjects. Articles of relevance to specific countries and regions are grouped together on country portals.

My understanding is that medical claims of screening efficacy are based on yet another “medical math” con job.  Success is being measured by claimed reductions in a specific disease due to early discovery, not by overall mortality figures.  So, if I am understanding correctly, if someone is diagnosed and treated for disease X and dies from anything but that disease, that disease is not credited with the death.  Nor is the screening.  Nor are the treatments.  By looking at OVERALL death, a truer picture emerges.  Think about it, lots of folks die from conditions caused by screening methods, like cancer from too many x-rays.  When screenings are followed by cut, poison, burn treatments, many of which cause other diseases, other cancers, more death occurs.  But under the current system, the real death picture is not being captured.  Instead, something like pneumonia might be on the death certificate.  But, what caused the pneumonia?  What caused the eruption of other cancers?

Further, the major medical committees that review, say, mammographies and prostrate screenings, are saying these screenings are not reducing survival at all.  Rather, for much of the time, these screenings are leading to unnecessary and ineffective treatments.  Yet, up here in Maine, our newspapers are full of ads urging people to come and be screened.  Why?  Screenings make money not only in and of themselves, but in the treatments that follow.  Science is not involved here.  Or your health.  Money is.

Further still, the cancer industry has Americans by the throat–in that people all over the world are experiencing genuine cancer cures.  But that information, those cures, are not being recognized or utilized by the American cancer industry.  They are making far too much money to shift gears.  So, we are living with a rigged system.  And it’s killing us.

Here’s an abstract:

The claim that cancer screening saves lives is based on fewer deaths due to the target cancer. Vinay Prasad and colleagues argue that reductions in overall mortality should be the benchmark and call for higher standards of evidence for cancer screening

Despite growing appreciation of the harms of cancer screening,1 2 3 advocates still claim that it “saves lives.”4 This assertion rests, however, on reductions in disease specific mortality rather than overall mortality.

Using disease specific mortality as a proxy for overall mortality deprives people of information about their chief concern: reducing their risk of dying.5 6 Although some people may have personal reasons for wanting to avoid a specific diagnosis, the burden falls on providers to provide clear information about both disease specific and overall mortality and to ensure that the overall goal of healthcare—to improve quantity and quality of life—is not undermined.7

In this article we argue that overall mortality should be the benchmark against which screening is judged and discuss how to improve the evidence upon which screening rests.

Source: ‘Cancer Screening Has Never Saved Lives’ – BMJ Study Concludes

Turkey Tracks: “Crayon Crumbs Box” Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  March 16, 2016

Crayon Crumbs Box Quilt

I have been obsessed for much of the winter with making use of the small leftover pieces from my quilt projects.  These pieces are too small, for the most part, to cut into a 1 1/2-inch strip or a 2-inch block.  so, I started making 2 1/2 inch wide strips with the “crumbs” (as Bonnie Hunter calls them).  I use a flip and sew method–and trim from the back when I am done.

I used these strips as sashing for the cheddar version of Bonnie Hunter’s 2015 American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine‘s four-patch challenge.

My four-patch blocks came from my “parts department”–so named by Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston in their excellent book COLLABORATIVE QUILTING.  Remember that I spent a lot of time last summer making four-patches from my two-inch bin of squares–cut from leftovers from finished quilts.  I love this idea of having a “parts department.”  Bonnie Hunter also amasses and uses blocks from her quilt projects–like the small triangles one can salvage from making half-square triangles by laying a square over the corner of a rectangle or larger square (as with a snowball block), sewing from corner to corner, and trimming.  Bonnie Hunter uses a template to also mark a sewing line for this smaller triangle.  For more info, see her quiltville.com web site and click on tips/etc. at the top of the page.  Right now I’m getting about 400 2-inch half-square triangles from a snowball block project–using Bonnie’s method.  (They’re going into a border on that quilt.)

So, here is the finished quilt:


Red-orange (or cheddar in quilting terms), teal blue/green, and violet magenta form a triad on the color wheel.

The backing and binding bring in the violet purple/magenta:


You can see the quilting–an soft rose colored thread from Signature–on the border:


The rose color “knocked back” the brightness just a bit.  I like it.

The pantograph is “Whirlwind” by Patricia Ritter.

Here are some pics of the quilt top–so you can see the way this block and the sashings work together.



And one showing a secondary pattern:


I have loved every minute of this project!!!


Turkey Tracks: Making Applesauce Is Dead Easy

Turkey Tracks:  March 9, 2016

Making Applesauce is Dead Easy

I’ve had a bag of juicing apples bought in the fall and hanging around the refrigerator all winter.

Time to do something with them as they are starting to go bad.

Making applesauce is dead easy.

Dump the chunked apples, peel and all, into a heavy pot.

Add some water so the apples don’t burn.

You could cover the apples and let them render out slowly, but I was in a hurry.

I cooked them down pretty fast, and when they were soft, added a splash of maple syrup and a splash of some Fiore chocolate/cherry balsamic vinegar to the pot.  The vinegar, I hoped, would add an interesting layer of flavor.  It did.

When the apples are soft, drag out your “boat motor” emulsifier and run it through them.  Or use a food processor or a blender.

The good thing here is that all the fiber of the peels stays in this mix, but you don’t taste the peel.



Here’s the applesauce and my boat motor.


I’ve been using it as a topping for the gorgeous raw milk yogurt we get here in Maine.  My favorite comes from THE MILK HOUSE, a local business.  I top it with a tablespoon of fresh maple syrup and a handful of nuts that I’ve soaked in salt water and dried.  BEYOND YUMMY–and healthy!