“Whirlygig” Quilt Top Finished

Turkey Tracks: December 31, 2021

“Whirlygig” Quilt Top Finished

I had such fun making this very modern quilt top.

All the fabrics are Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society from my stash.

The geometrics here just make the eyes sing: the ”whirlygigs,” at the center of each block, of course, but also x’s and o’s and squares with a tiny square in the middle, and crosses in the narrow sashing down the middle of the big blocks. The interruption of the eye using the neutral to break up the flow is so interesting to me—and is a challenge the eye easily overcomes as our brains look for the patterns and start ”to see.” Wendy Sheppard designed “Whirlygigs,” and it can be found in Simply Moderne magazine, issue #26.

A friend helped me install the groovy board adapter that Urban Elementz sells for the Innova, so I can now use the two traditional patterns that I have and that cannot really be done by hand or with a pantograph. The groovy board is sitting on a pantograph I’ll use for ”Whirlygig”—it’s called ”Bayside” and will put down a lovely texture. (Thanks Wendy’s Quilting.)

The screws at the top turn bolts inside that have to turn from flat, to go into the groove, to upwards, so they catch the edges of the groove. I couldn’t make the bolts get into the right position—which my friend did in under two minutes. So, another lesson learned about using tools. I thought it might be pretty simple, which it was.

DIL Tami sent me this picture of ”Calm” last night—working its magic.

I sent her this one back:

We may get a little snow tomorrow to start the year off right.

“Calm” Quilt Has Landed

Turkey Tracks: December 30, 2021

“Calm” Quilt Has Landed

“Calm” landed in its forever home yesterday. I took these pics of it before mailing it.

The backing is a stylized version of ”daisy” petals—at one time the favorite flower of my DIL, whose birthday present this quilt is. Tamara Enright, with founding help from The Savanna Bee Company, has pioneered The Bee Cause, which now has bee hives meant to provide safety for this species in all 50 states. There is a Facebook page if you care to check it out.

The Innova quilting stitch is awesome—and the pantograph is ”Feather Grande” designed by Bethanne Nemesh—and seen by me on the blog wendysquilting.wordpress.com. Wendy lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and we have become online friends—a friendship I treasure. Wendy is an awesome longarm quilter and quilt maker. I purchased the pantograph from Urban Elementz.

”Calm” provided so many lovely quilting hours. She was so fun to make.

A Sunny Morning

Turkey Tracks: December 29, 2021

A Sunny Morning

What a beautiful day we have today—as we all lumber toward the New Year 2022.

But, it’s too warm for the thin layer of snow we have on the ground to last—which is too bad as the Snow Bowl ski area had made enough snow for at least half of the mountain to be used.

On Monday, AC and I were able to visit the athletic field, and I took this video of all the activity at the ski area.

Note the father helping his young daughter learn to ski in the foreground as they return to their car. This way is how parents help the little ones learn to ski at early ages.

Yesterday was rainy and dreary, so it was good that I had house cleaning and laundry to do. And today is beautiful, so AC and I will try to throw his ball at the Snow Bowl athletic field, which will work if the snow isn’t too wet and mushy.

A Quilter’s Table blogger Debbie Jeske posted her most popular blog entries this year the other day—among them was the ”Liberated Wedding Ring” quilt she made—which started me on my own journey with this quilt block. That quilt now sits on the back of a chair that I see as I come down the stairs from the upper floor. It never fails to make me smile.

*To remind, the block is a ”Liberated Wedding Ring” designed by Freddie Moran and Gwen Marston and can be found in their book FREDDIE AND GWEN COLLABORATE AGAIN: FRIENDS.

I had some triangle ”outcuts” from a top I’ve now completed (more on this quilt in a future blog), so I sewed them together to get more parts for the ”parts department” bin.

The joke on me is that I intended to sew them with the colors in the triangle—but somehow I pinned them or sewed them so the white part made the triangle.

It’s all ok. I like them both ways. Apparently the universe had a different project in mind for me with this task.

A Rafter of Turkeys

Turkey Tracks: December 24, 2021

A Rafter of Turkeys

Here are some wildlife pictures for today—of a ”rafter” of turkeys—thanks to my Camden friend who has been sending me pictures recently of wildlife showing up in her yard, which backs up to the Mt. Battie woods.

I’ve always wondered if there was a special name for a flock of turkeys.

So, it’s ”rafter,” says my friend. That’s not as gruesome as a ”murder” of crows, is it?

Big ”rafters” of wild turkeys have been very present in our woods this fall—and that isn’t at all unusual. A big rafter used to spend the winter near my house—until AC Slater said ”no, just no.” They still come, but he puts them to flight pretty quickly.

The big groups this time of year are hens. The males usually band together in smaller groups of 5 or 6. They are often near the hens, but do not mix in until later in the winter when they start mating. Males have a long ”beard” that dangles from the front of their chests—and you can clearly see there are no males in these pictures.

Christmas Eve 2021

Turkey Tracks: December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve 2021

It is brrrrr…. cold today.

It was 18 degrees outside my kitchen windows this morning. AC didn’t stay out long for his morning excursion at all.

And to think we were complaining that it was in the 40s and raining only last Tuesday.

My Camden friend sent me this picture of a hawk in Tuesday’s rain—she said he was ”patiently waiting” for a meal to arrive. Isn’t s/he beautiful. And s/he blends so well with the winter woods.

I finished ”Calm” last night and took pictures this morning. This quilt has provided many, many fun hours of planning and quilting. I’ll mail it on Monday—and now it’s in the wash—remember the chipmunk-in-the-house episode…

The new printer came and had a software problem that rendered it inoperable. Strange. It will go back Monday and another one sent in its place. I hope it works. The printer comes with great reviews.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

May your homes be warm and filled with light and laughter and joy.

And I wish you all the very best Happy New Year 2022 as we travel around the sun together once more.

Rain and Ice, But Warm and Sweet Inside

Turkey Tracks: December 22, 2021

Rain and Ice, But Warm and Sweet Inside

The warm and sweet includes a beautiful beef stew, which I made Sunday.

I’ll tell how I make a tender beef stew in a little over an hour below this message.

Friend Rosie Pilkerton’s Christmas card came yesterday, and as is her sweet habit, included was one of her Christmas stocking ornaments. I have many from her over the years, but these four are handily available and I will keep them nearby for the holidays next year. (I went through the Christmas decorations last summer and isolated the special ornaments in boxes that are now in dry storage upstairs—and the rest of Rosie’s stockings are up there.)

My friend in town who sends me pictures of the wild life critters that come into her yard, which backs up to the Mt. Battie woods, sent this picture yesterday. (Remember the fox pics from yesterday?) This beautiful deer was eating her junipers. Deer have been a real problem for me this past year as well. And it is early for the deer to be eating shrubs like the junipers—which usually happens in the extreme cold and lots of snow that *used to* come in January and February.

AC and I ventured out in the light fluffy snow yesterday as we both needed exercise and fresh air. AC’s chasing of his ball in the snow turned out to be really fun for both of us. We both had to watch really carefully to see where the ball landed as it would go ”plop” into the snow. That action produced a mystery for AC that he delighted in solving until he found the ball.

While at the Snow Bowl athletic field we also saw a cherished neighbor and had a little visit.

And now, we have passed over the Solstice, and the light will begin to return, ever so slowly, but it will return.


Beef Stew

I use an Instant Pot to cook the beef and savory part of the stew.

I cook the small whole unpeeled potatoes and carrots separately, and I cut up the potatoes into bite-size pieces when they are cool enough to handle. How you cut up the carrots is up to you. You can cook both potatoes and carrots in the same big pot if you like. The carrots will get done before the potatoes, but you can just dip them out when done.

The cooked potatoes and carrots go into a bowl big enough to handle the whole stew, and when the beef part is done, I just pour it all over the veggies and mix them together. What ever green veggie I add is also cooked separately. BUT, as the warm dish sat in the bowl and after I had eaten one meal, I thought it would be good to add some frozen peas, which I did. And, yes, they were a nice addition. They more or less defrost in the warm stew, and if they need it, they cook more when one reheats one’s portion of stew for the next meal. I don’t reheat the whole stew when I want to eat some—just the portion I want for my meal. (I also froze about half of the stew for other meals.)

For this stew I sautéed 2 small onions, one celery stick, and 6 thin leeks (about 1 inch thick—so just under 2 cups?) in leftover lamb fat in the Instant Pot. (I don’t use veggie oils for this step as they—except for coconut oil—are too fragile and many are not healthy fats. Beef tallow would be a good choice too.) Add some herbs and salt. That first sauté does take a bit of prep time—maybe 20 minutes—I sauté and stir occasionally while I do other tasks until I start to see bits of brown in the sweated veggies. I remove those onto something like a plate, add a bit more fat (this time I used some ghee), and put in the cubes of beef that I had dried well in paper towels. Add more herbs, chopped garlic, and salt. As the beef sautés in the Instant Pot it will exude a fair amount of liquid. You want to cook down that liquid a little, which will begin to let the beef brown a little.

When the beef is ready, I add just under a quarter cup of thickener. I used sprouted brown rice flour as I can’t eat wheat. Mix it well with the meat. Add about 3 cups of water or stock and the savory veggies. I set the Instant Pot for 35 minutes and when it has stopped, I let it sit for 15 minutes before I release the steam.

The rest is easy—just pour the beef mixture over the veggies, mix them up, and serve up a bowl of your beautiful beef stew—knowing you have LEFTOVERS and some to freeze.


Brrrr Cold, But Sunny

Turkey Tracks: December 20, 2021

Brrr Cold, But Sunny

The weekend was snowy and cloudy, and we got enough snow to cover the ground.

This morning it was 18 degrees on the north side of my house. AC returned from his morning run with VERY cold ears. I blew warm air on them to warm them up a little. He’ll be 4 in late March 2022 and handles indoor days better now, but he still is and always will be a very active fellow.

Our weather on Wednesday will warm and there will be RAIN! I hope that forecast doesn’t pan out and the snow can stay for a White Christmas. Low temps return on Thursday, so there is hope. What could occur I suppose is…icy roads and walks.

A friend whose house backs up to the Mount Battie woods sends me wonderful pictures of local wildlife that appear in her yard. This weekend, there was this beautiful fox:

I had some good sewing time. I’ve gotten two sides of the binding on the big log cabin quilt sewn down. At 96-inches square, that task takes…time…and I don’t feel a need to rush through it.

I’ve been piecing this scrappy quilt using the lively and interesting Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society stash fabrics—the pattern, ”Whirlygig,” is featured in the most recent issue of Simply Modern magazine—and I’ll give more info when I get further along. It is, I now realize, similar to the funky wedding ring quilt I did not that long ago. I think I have enough of the butterfly fabric for the backing. Not sure about binding yet. Will keep this one at 49 inches square and will not add a border. I want it to stay modern. I want it to be used and washed and dragged around and loved.

To remind, here’s the ”Funky” wedding ring quilt—it has the big cross, but not the inner ”Whirlygig.”

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice—followed by each day gaining more light.

Don’t forget to take some time to acknowledge this darkest night of the year that marks the turning toward light returning.

Betsy Maislen’s Fun Pillows

Turkey Tracks: December 17, 2021

Betsy Maislen’s Fun Pillows

Betsy spent a chunk of last winter having fun making some foundation pieced patterns that she liked.

But, what to do with them?

How about 20-inch gift pillows for loved ones? How about keeping some too?

This quail was the first pillow, which sent her on to the next pillows. The hand-stitching quilting was her first effort with this skill, and she liked what happened.

The woodpecker came next:

Then the hot peppers:

And on to the peach:

She is keeping this New York Beauty block pillow, and I’m wondering if we’ll see more of these blocks down Betsy’s quilting road.

This chicken is staying with Betsy as well. And I look forward to seeing the pillow she makes. Isn’t the feather fabric terrific?

Question? Is Betsy done, or will she go back to this well?

Refrigerators and AC’s ”Chase Me: I Have the Ball”

Turkey Tracks: December 16, 2021

Refrigerators and AC’s ”Chase Me: I Have the Ball”

Can I just say that NO ONE in my life has ever told me it is really important to take off the front grill on the bottom of your refrigerator and to vacuum out the dust balls that accumulate there? Even better, after vacuuming from the front, pull out the refrigerator and take a shop vacuum and blow beneath the refrigerator from front to back.

I was hesitant to reach beneath the refrigerator with the vacuum as I didn’t know what kind of electrical connections could be present there, but it turns out, nothing to worry about under there.

And can I just also say that getting appliance fix-it people to come fix something up here in rural Maine is not an easy task. Most are tremendously overworked and super busy.


No one told me…


And I think it might be that I am a military brat, and we always moved pretty often, so maybe my mother didn’t ever do this task.

I have learned the hard way, and right now I’m feeling really lucky that doing those two tasks (vacuum and shop vac blowing out) allowed my refrigerator to once again run its fan and to cool to the proper temperatures.

If you don’t have a shop vacuum and have a garage, I’d highly recommend you get one. I have used the one John bought more than I would have thought. But, mostly for tasks in the garage.

Of course I can’t get that front grill back on. There are these two pesky clips, and I don’t see how or where they work. But help is on the way next Thursday, and meanwhile, all seems good again.

So, today is a rainy day, and AC hates rainy days. We did take a ride out to the post office to mail something, but AC doesn’t think that ride counted. He wants to RUN, to chase his ball at the Snow Bowl field.

AC is all about play—of all kinds—especially if balls are involved. ”Chase Me I Have the Ball” is his favorite game. Unless it’s ”Chase Me: I Have the Stick,” which happens when I walk down to get the mail.

Anyway, here’s a little video of AC inviting me to play with him—taken a few days ago AFTER he had a good run.