Thursday, April 30, 2020

That Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Recipe!

I made another batch.

Last week I posted about a terrific Banana Chocolate Chip cake recipe I had made with simple ingredients on hand -

And so many asked for the recipe that I decided to make it again, this time taking photos.

I mean – just look at this!  Isn’t your mouth watering already?

To me, this is a bit lighter than traditional banana bread, but not really as light as a true “cake” so I have put it in the coffee cake realm of yummies for dismal rainy days that need a bit of a warm pick me up.

What makes it a bit different?  Cinnamon and chocolate chips for two things – and two more:

It uses BOTH baking powder and baking soda which changes the texture a bit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Endless April!

Be careful what you wish for!

That April you were always missing because you are always on the road – may just be the April that keeps you home!

It’s been ALL GOOD, really.  But I shake my head in constant wonder at how things evolve in ways we never saw coming.

Two years ago yesterday I signed the papers on the purchase of what is now known as Quiltville Inn.

We barely got running with our beta test retreat Black Friday weekend, and our first real retreat happening Valentine's Day weekend.

I am uncertain as to what will happen with the rest of 2020 but we are hoping for the best.

I know this one thing.

We will be ready when we are given the go ahead!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Moving at a Snail’s Pace!

This has been occupying my thoughts lately.

That little treadle project I posted about HERE.

I decided to take the 3 “too small” blocks and make a 4th – stitch them together and make my self a little cutie just because.

Some further digging unearthed two baggies of already matched four-patch pairs, that just needed to be sewn.

Digging back in my memory I do believe these are from the “Sand Castles” Quilt from String Frenzy – evidently the four-patch frenzy had me continuing to sew strip sets and sub-cut them until the cows came home, and left again.  Evidently I made far too many. 

Which can sometimes be a good thing -


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Paws (Pause) and Bind!

The best time ever to adopt a dog?

During a global pandemic!

We were talking just this morning on how bringing Zoey Jo into our lives at this time could have really added to the chaos, but instead it has brought us so much joy, distraction, laughter, frustration, focus, and peace.

And I hope we have brought the same to her. We are sure that she is getting ALL of her exercise and mental stimulation during the day – She never tires of the frisbee play, though we can’t get her to really want to play tug of war with the ropey things yet.

She has an eagle eye whether she is near a window looking out, or outside looking around – she could be in the middle of “doing her business” but she never stops looking for movement in the woods, for birds, squirrels, gophers, chipmunks – even the wind moving the leaves on the ground catch her attention.

It’s like she is cataloging everything to memory – She remember just which tree that squirrel ran up the last time, and she will not forget to go right back there to see if she can find him again.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Sewing, Blowing, and a Wee Bit of Rain -

Yesterday I dug into to one of the many “Someday I wanna” projects.

Have you been doing the same?

This project has been started before – shoot, many many moons ago and my test blocks ended up in a random sampler orphan block quilt top that I finished in 2002.

That project took me more than another 10 years  to quilt – I think I finished the quilting while here at the cabin within the past couple of years.

Some projects are just like that.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Pandemic Pastimes!

What’s in the box, Zoey??

We’ve been here in Virginia for 3 years (as of last month!) and it is amazing how all of those “We’ll get around to it someday” honey-do’s are now at the forefront and happening!

This bedroom closet had the stupidest set up ever – long and narrow – it had shelves at one short end – and a very short hanging rod at the other end with nothing but empty waste of space in the middle.

“Lowe’s by Mail Order!” has become a frequent battle cry around here and last week this big heavy box showed up and I got excited.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sewing Wild & Free!

This was my yesterday!

And part of my Tuesday too if we confess it all - 

This lovely machine,from the Free Sewing Machine Company of Rockford, Illinois was made somewhere after the turn of the 20th century.  At a time when beauty and style were as important as function.

A machine to last a lifetime.  And many more at 100 years old.

The old advertising card for this model.

It opens up to so much space beneath!

It was September when I met with a cute group of quilters on my way to Pennsylvania for the hand off of this beautiful machine.  It has taken until now for life to slow down enough for me to really get into this machine and get her up and running.

Other than some lint dust and grime – who knows when the last time it actually sewed on – all it took was a slight adjustment of the tension on the shuttle (Thread used to be way thicker then and it needed more tension for today’s finer threads) and the top thread adjusted to work with the new shuttle tension before we were off and rolling together.

Click to Play:

She is a sweetheart of a machine!

And yes – she has a manual!

I will likely scan and make a PDF copy of the manual as the pages are very brittle.

Lecture on using quality thread!

(Somethings are still the same!)

Are these peacocks??

The serial number is behind the pillar.

The closest date I can even find on this machine is somewhere between 1911 and 1920.  From what I found out, the Free company didn’t keep records as meticulously as Singer.  So other than the fact that this machine HAS a serial number, the serial number isn’t any good at really dating the machine.

And the patent was applied for – but was it ever granted?

She is a honey of a machine -

in the ONLY parlor cabinet that I have found I could sew in comfortably – my knees were not inside of a box – and this machine sits taller than some treadles I’ve sewn at.

When I shared the video through facebook and instagram yesterday I was asked why the spool pin is upside down.  I know someone will catch it here, so I’ll tell you!

LESS DRAG. And I also like the thread coming off the back side of the spool, not the front.  I’ve been told that matters.  Why, I don’t know – This way the thread comes off counter-clockwise. 

Other things about this machine – check out the stitch length regulator at the base of the pillar.  Up for bigger, down for smaller.

I did wind a bobbin and it was effortless other than it takes a lot of treadle foot power to wind a long bobbin. It was a great way to get all of the new oil down into places where it hadn't been for decades and the more I treadled the quieter the machine got – SO HAPPY to be sewing again.

Yesterday’s lunch by the fire.

I cooked my lunch at Quiltville Inn today. I miss the hustle and bustle of machines sewing and laughter roaring within these walls.

I await the day with great anticipation when we can safely open the doors and let the quilters back in.

I was there waiting for the pest control guy to come do his quarterly treatments for bugs and critters and other things that happen out in the country.

I'm so glad that he is considered essential so that we will be ready when the time comes – whenever it comes.

We awoke to rain again this morning and it is supposed to continue through the day.  It’s one of those soft and soaking spring rains – and it is soothing and lovely.  But it doesn’t help when I was wanting to get Zoey out on another long walk!  I’m waiting for the next sunny day.

So to beat the rain, let’s start this day out with a healthy belly laugh:

Thank you Stephen – posted through facebook.  LOL!

It’s week 5 or 6 of lock down for us I think.

Send more humor – I think we need it!

I will be drawing for the winner of our April Quilty Box Gift-Away TOMORROW morning so be sure you get your entry in on THAT POST.  It’s a great one for lock down – a whole fabric kit is included, all you need to add is backing and batting.

And we are one day closer to releasing Part 5 of our Unity Quilt Along!  How is yours coming?  Have you watched any of the recommended shows and series or listened to or added any Audio book titles to our Binge Worthy tab?  It’s so fun to see what you find entertaining and worth stitching to.

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Life is still rich with abundance.

Give with your heart and you will never run out of what comes back!

I see so much of this in action as I watch folks all around the world making masks for people they don't even know.

It's a scary time to live in, but our hearts are huge when it comes to caring for others and just look at the human spirit in action!

Do you think we can keep some of this alive when the virus is long past?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dogwoods and Doggie Drives

Oh, how I love the blooming trees!

But oh, how the blooming trees and emerging leaves and pollen storms hate me!

I wait and wait and wait for spring to really get here – for trees to bloom in shades of pink, yellow, and red bud red-violet.

And my eyes swell up, and glue shut overnight!

But it’s so WORTH it I tell myself when the antihistamines have me sleepy and closing my eyes by 7pm because they just feel better closed rather than open.


But so pretty!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quilting Little Things.

Attempting to get binding on here -

Someone else has other ideas!

Saturday.  Yes – I think it was Saturday, but you know how the days are running together after 5 weeks of this – it could be ANY day.  It could be Wednesday or Thursday -

Even Monday felt like a Saturday so let’s just go with it!

Since we brought Zoey Jo home there has been ZERO hand stitching in my comfy chair because she wants to be RIGHT THERE. Curled up next to my leg, taking up half the chair, half the ottoman – and I’m going to continue to let her because these first few bonding months are important.  Both for her, and for me.

Even the Hubster swears she likes ME more than she does him – and I counter back with “Oh, not so!  She loves you too!” But deep down inside I’m gloating. LOL! 

Maybe it’s a girl/girl thing.  Maybe she has adopted me as her mom because I came and got her out of that shelter.  Maybe it’s because we spent our first 48 hours together with Dave not here – he was working from Wallburg that week and taking care of some things at the Wallburg house.

Whatever it is – she is glued to my side.  My shadow.  And she is just what I needed over the past 5 weeks.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

April 2020 Quilty Box Gift-Away!

I have an April 2020 Quilty Box to give to someone!  And you are going to WANT this box -

It comes with a complete kit for making Elizabeth Hartman’s Macaws quilt – pattern, fabric, everything but the batting. 

Yes, even the background and binding is included!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Zoey Teaches Social Distancing -

Yesterday afternoon in the sunshine -

Looking off into the distance at ridges and ranges beyond.

After yesterday’s deer chasing adventure we sat Zoey down and gave her a good talking to – not that she will listen.  In dog years we know she is entering that teenager stage, and the eye roll and body language told us that we were ruining her fun and that we didn’t know ANYTHING where herding was concerned.

She didn’t seem to think that deer chasing was not up with social distancing standards.  And after all, if we wanted to enforce the distancing thing, shouldn’t the deer be OUT of the yard, not in it?

When asked what kinds of things ARE good to do during social distancing, she gave us her newest version of Zoey-Yoga-Downward-Dog:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Spring Sewing Along the Side -

I’ve nearly made it through ALL of my block kits.

I will need to be cutting more soon -

I know that when I was cutting up these kits to take to Asilomar in California for the Empty Spools Seminars and evening sewing time that I didn’t have the WHOLE QUILT cut out – just what I thought I would need to occupy my time during the evenings over the two back to back sessions I was to be teaching there.

Of course, we know that didn’t happen.  I’ve been pushing these pieces through as Leaders & Enders while making folded fabric face filters for friends and family. (Five F’s in a row, say that five times fast!) and I am amazed that I have blown through nearly everything that had been baggied up for travel.

More cutting to follow.

This photo came in from my brother Scott who owns and operates Wilkinson Pest Control in the Boise, Idaho area:

Thursday, April 16, 2020

And Spring Comes Blooming -

The old apple tree at Quiltville Inn is blooming!

Barely pink – and so delicate.  My heart leapt when I also saw the tiny leaves beginning to unfurl.  Bees will be buzzing.  Spring is here.

I have no idea how old this apple tree is.  Truth be told, the apples on it aren’t that great, no one has tended the old apple tree for decades and it’s kind of grown amok. 

But the sweetest blossoms – with some pruning and care, could this tree return to productivity?

In the past 2 years (Yes, 2 years in the next 2 weeks that this place has been ours!) the apples have proven to be mealy, not much taste, buggy, and the only folks appreciative of this trees fruitful efforts are the deer who come to gobble up anything that has fallen to the ground.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Braving the Grocery Wilderness

Food Lion, Jefferson North Carolina.

Do you notice the one way signs?  I thought this was BRILLIANT!

I haven’t been to any sizable town in weeks, preferring the tiny Independence Food City market – a quick in and out and no masses of people.  Less population in the area means, well – less population.

But last night we needed to head to Jefferson to pick up the new washer/dryer that are replacing the 23 year old ones at the Cabin.  It was time.  There was a sale.  We ordered online and did curbside pick up. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Spring Green and Easter Things -

A drive-by scene as things turn green -

I pass this lovely old farm house daily on my drive between Quiltville Inn, the QPO (Quiltville Post Office) and the USPS.

I LOVE this place sitting high on a hillside, old silo standing guard, two brick fireplace chimneys flanking the sides of the house, tall and proud.

“I would like to get to know who lives there!” I have often said to myself – but not now.  Not while social distancing still dictates that we stay away.  Not just for ourselves, but for others, as a kindness to them. 

I think at this time we all take into account what the Hippocratic oath states: “Do No Harm.”  to yourself – to others.

If you want a REALLY good read, here is a retrospective on the 1918 Spanish Flu “The Forgotten Pandemic

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Greetings, 2020!

Happy Easter, everyone!

It feels kind of like the Grinch Stole Easter around here – but Easter is in our hearts, not in the hubbub of outside activity and gatherings. 

Perhaps a quiet Easter is just what our souls need to silence the “too much noise” that has been a symbol of our lives up to this point?

It’s something I keep reflecting on over and over –And now that we’ve been sequestered for a month, do I really want to go back to the way things were BEFORE we stepped away from the world?

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves back in tune with who they really are, because they were forced to step away from what the world wanted them to be.

Once I finished the units needed for tomorrow’s Unity Quilt Along Part 3 release, I started using the kitted up tulip blocks that had taken a way back seat in their place as leaders & enders while mask making. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Quiltmaker May/June ‘20 Gift-Away!

Happy Saturday, everyone!

This morning’s post is a bit later than most as I had some early morning things on the agenda that I didn’t find out about until last night.

Our son Jeff moved into a new house with Ashlyn and her 3 year old son Casden – and when I asked if there was anything they needed as they begin setting up housekeeping together, the request came of “Yes!  Do you have spare pots & pans? Silverware?”

It’s not the easiest time or the wisest time to be out shopping for these kinds of things.  Money is tight as working hours have been cut back due to Covid-19, and it’s all good. We want them safe.

So let’s shop through mom’s stuff instead!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Home Quarantine–Day 548 (Or what feels like it!)

New Day, Same Routine -

Are you feeling like it?

The one thing I can say about this is the sense of humor that so many have – shared through social media has really helped!

If it weren’t for laughter to lighten our moods – I don’t know how we would survive even the next month ahead of us!

Check this out:

Thursday, April 09, 2020

You Asked–So Here You Go!

I bit the bullet.

I tried explaining that there are 5,000 different YouTube videos and patterns out there for mask making.

But the requests kept coming to PLEASE share what I was doing to make these masks my way. 

So here it is.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s not even a very good video.  I will not be making a PDF instruction sheet but you can copy the information I have added below – I am currently deep into working on our Unity Quilt Along so that I’ll have the next round (Part 3!) ready to go on Monday.  

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Simple Dog Pleasures (and much sewing!)

I felt like miss Zoey last night.

*EDIT* Something is happening with Google and they are deleting any photos I have posted that have to do with mask making.  I am sorry - I tried to re-upload but something has gone strange...as in many posts back and i can't rewrite all of these, so I'm sorry.

Yes, she is all backed in to my hip in my comfy chair – she’s nearly too big for a lap dog at 35 lbs, but you see – I love the doggie lovin’s and I can’t say no!

I kept the news off yesterday.  I needed to.  I needed to just go about my business and pretend that things are their old normal and just do the things I do.

I am sure many of you are feeling that way as well.

Other than being vigilant – is there anything that cramming our heads full of Covid-19 news updates can do to help?

The only thing that helps me at this time is creating.

And so I dug into the next round of our Unity Quilt Along – to have part 3 ready this coming Monday.

You realize, I am sure  - that each round makes the quilt bigger, so each round has more parts to it, right?

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Random Acts of Mail Delivery Kindness!

This arrived yesterday, with no return address.

When I picked up the box, along with all of the other routine package deliveries I knew I didn’t order this -

No return address other than the company that shipped it.  Little note on the enclosed invoice, but no name as to who sent it – in fact, I think they ran out of the alloted number of letters they could use because the message was cut off. 

Maybe there was a name – but it got cut off too by the limited number of characters?

This beautiful color – and the words on the front.  it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Thank you so much for thinking of me and sending me this bit of cheer right when I needed it.  All of these words are reminders of things that keep us putting one foot in front of the other, day by day by day.

These are the things that will see us through.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Scraps are a Thing of Beauty!

Red, Glorious Red!

Back in January over my birthday week, the quilters of Ashe County came to Quiltville Inn for a Sew Day.

This was just after I had scrounged for red scraps during some very snowy weather to finish up a holiday table runner.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, there is much pattern writing to be done in due time!)

As I work to get this next round on our Unity Quilt Along, I have dug into this treasure trove of pieces, thanking each quilter within my heart for the gift of friendship and fabric.  Little did we know how much this red bag would be needed, and how quickly it would find its way into a quilt.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Quilt Tools to the Rescue!

You never know when your quilting tools are going to come in handy for other things!

This is one of my favorites.  I keep one by the sewing machine.  I keep one here by my comfy hand stitching chair.

It’s a 4-in-one goodie from Alex Anderson (Some still in the Quiltville Store, need to order more) and It is one tool that does not get lost in my sewing area.

With the wooden caps on the ends – I can use the angled wood end for finger pressing, the pointed wood end (seen by my pliers in the background on the table) to poke out corners when turning things right side out (as in all of this mask making type activity) and the seam ripper itself needs no explanation.

I’m not one who usually sews with a stiletto – but you know where it came in handy this morning?

Friday, April 03, 2020

Your Efforts MATTER!

Thanks from the nurses & health care workers in Winston Salem, NC!

Our plea for help a week ago was answered by so many of our local NC quilters and beyond!

I received these photos from Martha yesterday (Her sister is a nurse in the ER at Forsythe Medical Center in Winston Salem) and holding back tears I was told that they had received enough home made masks for every member of staff to have one as supplies run out.

You have done phenomenal work, and I know many of you are reeling and feeling mask burn out.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Securely Venturing -

Some things are necessary.

Someone had surgery yesterday. We were considering putting it off, but it needed to be done within 30 days of adoption, and at a year old we really didn't want her going into heat. So many folks HAD already rescheduled with the vet that their calendar down the line is already a mess many months out.

She had to be spayed within the same county we adopted her from as the county vets and the county shelter work together. which meant an hour drive off mountain to Wilkesboro, NC.

Nails also trimmed, shots updated, and chipped. Zoey Jo is now officially official.

It was very weird being off mountain. The hospital is under protocol to retrieve your pet from your car, all transactions and paperwork are either done ahead of time by sign, scan and email or over the phone for info and payment.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

The Mess of Creativity -

Some days there isn’t a lot to share!

By the time I got back to the house from filling book/ruler orders at the QPO it was 4pm, with just a couple of hours before dinner to deal with what was in the above photo.

My plan?  To cut pieces to sew into units in that 2 hour span – making daily progress on our next round for the Unity Quilt Along.

Well, remember that thing called PUPPY!?

And while we were in a break between bouts of rain, we rain Zoey out hoping that she would settle into the evening hours.

Only, by 9:00 p.m. she was still so wound up we had to do it again.  In the dark.  With an umbrella. 


And she has seriously been the best thing one could acquire when pandemicking from home.  Never a dull moment.

Zoey, come!  Zoey, Stay.  ZOEY!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!

It’s like having a toddler.

Some piles are here to the side of my cutting table.

I’m going to need to spend some time reorganizing because this quilt has turned into a frenzy of HURRY SEWING.  And we all know what happens with hurry sewing.

Mis-cuts, wrong fabrics, loads of seam ripping. And where is that rotary cutter?  There have to be at least THREE on this table, but can I find them?

Not here, but I found that bag of neutral strips!


It’s a good thing that the aqua rotary cutter is the one at the QPO or it’s likely it would still be hidden under this pile of strips I’d been cutting from.

That little blue bin?  It is holding all of the trimmed off corners from Monday’s center.  I want to do something with those.  Even if I just border the label or something.

What did I get accomplished while potatoes were baking? (We did stuffed baked potatoes and salad for dinner – yummy! I baked a couple of extra potatoes with the batch and will do pan friend potatoes from those with another meal this week.)

CUTTING.  NO SEWING. Pieces laid out by the machine.  But no sewing.



This 35 lb girl thinks she is still a lap puppy.

And I’m not going to make her realize otherwise.

This is comfort.

This is bonding.

This is love.

And it will all be okay.

I laughed about this all day long.

My little sister Mary (She’s 37 with 4 kids, but she will always be the baby sister!) sent a message saying the kids were singing “Bring back Aunt Bonnie to me, to me….”  I miss these kids!

I also really appreciate the busy moms who in the midst of all of this have taken on homeschooling (harder than raising a puppy!) their children to keep them current with the school year until school resumes after Summer break. 

What a job.  These moms are heros!

Other unsung heros:

From the Charlotte Observer:

Amid warnings of an impending shortage of protective equipment for medical staff, a Gastonia NC based textile company is organizing a national effort to ramp up production of face masks for healthcare workers.

Parkdale Mills Inc., one of the country’s largest yarn spinners, is working with companies like Hanesbrand, Fruit of the Loom, and six others to build a manufacturing supply chain for the masks, the National Council of Textile Organizations said in a press release.

The decision, according to NCTO, “heeds call of nation” to help. [source]

This makes me SO HAPPY.  I know it will take some time to get them into the places where they are needed most – but it’s a start.

And I hope it will continue.  Living in the south, it’s been really sad realizing that most of our once abundant and thriving textile industry has been moved overseas.  Where once many mills stood creating product and providing jobs and livelihoods – it’s been reduced to minimal over the past several decades.

I would love to see industry come back to our country so that we don’t find ourselves cut off from places that are unable to provide what we need.

Maybe it’s naïve of me to think this way – but putting all of our eggs in someone else’s basket gives the power to the basket holders. 

This is a wonderful thing.

Once at full capacity (in about four to five weeks) the coalition expects to produce up to 10 million face masks per week.

And the call for home made masks continues in the mean time, and I love the stories from around the country of quilters and sewists banding together to make colorful cheerful masks that although do not protect against Covid-19, are helpful and useful in many ways.

So please keep it up – we are in this for the long haul!

And next – it’s time to draw for the winner of the March 2020 Quilty Box!

This was a lovely box, and the projects are great!  For the more info, click to the original post.

Who is 621 of 4535 entries?

LeAnn Ryan!

Congrats, LeAnn – I have sent you an email to the address you provided with your entry.  Please reply with your mailing address so I can have the folks at Quilty Box get your prize off to you.  I hope this helps brighten your shelter-at-home time!

There will be more goodies coming soon so stay tuned.

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Miracles are everywhere.

You just have to stop, pay attention and appreciate the little things.

Or the puppy things.

Will I get to sewing today? (It may be a miracle in itself!)

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!