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Happy New Year 2015

That is how I feel today - pretty excited to see the new year start. Last week was not the same. Everyone in this house had a cold. We spent lots of time wrapped in blankets, lying on the couch and sipping tea with old Christmas movies to keep us company. Not a bad way to be sick, although the amount of work pushed aside so we could just be sick was staggering. Now that I'm recovered, I'm running to catch up so that I can be off to Atlanta on Sunday.

This is not a beer, 
but it is my favorite insulated mug filled with steaming hot Earl Grey, honey and lemon. 


These little birds were gifts this year but we were too sick to add them to the birdie tree. For now they look pretty sweet keeping my books company. Thank you Betty and Kevin!

 My new Quilted Women series is making lots of people happy. At first they were released as blank cards. I always knew they needed to say something. I must say, I really labored over the sentiments. It was important to me that they conveyed messages as uplifting as the paintings are. Finally, after writes and rewrites,  and finding a few inspirational quotes, they were ready for print. I can't wait for you to read them. I've just added the new greeting cards to my shop on the website and you can read the wonderful messages with them. I'm so pleased to add 9 new cards to my greeting card line. Below is a preview of one I've written for comfort.

Inside greeting: 

Just as quilts are pieced from the worn dresses
and shirts of our relatives, they are evidence of our own history, 
and provide us with soulful comfort.

May you gain strength and comfort from those who love you.

I'll be at the Atlanta Gift Show, America's Mart
Jan 8th through 12th
Building 3, floor 5, booth 1706

All of my new greeting cards, note cards and a few new ladies (shown above) will be in the booth each day. If you are a gift buyer please stop by and say HI! If you are a card fan, please show them to your favorite gift shop and perhaps they will carry the cards so that you can buy them locally. They are always available in the SHOP on my website.

And here is my motto for 2015! Remember reading Ann Lander's column? I started reading it in 7th grade and always looked for her sage wisdom. What a smart clever woman.  I'm going to follow her advise.

Happy New Year girlfriends!



Knitting - Making Things With Purpose

I absolutely love to make things. I always have. I come from a family of makers. Sometimes I have been driven by practical reasons to create when the things I wanted would have been to expensive to buy.  I just looked at an item I admired and told myself, "I can can make that!" Over the years I've really come to appreciate my ability to be a maker, especially in a "mass produced" world market. There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing how things are constructed, if they are well done, and what "some assembly required" actually means.

I make a lot of things - specifically greeting cards that you all know about. But I love to bake cookies, occasionally I sew and sculpt my dolls, and a lot of my free time is spent knitting. Knitting is my "time not wasted" activity. There are always a number of knitting projects in various stages of progress waiting for my interest to return. Almost everyone of them is a gift for someone. My Tuesday night knitting group often discusses the number of hours invested in this sweater or that scarf. It's a constant running joke that we would kill anyone who threw our knitted gift in the wash machine, or even worse - THE DRYER! There are labels that you can purchase to sew in a garment that say that very thing!

Here is an example of what making things looks like!

Inside these baskets is the promise of a winter hat, a baby sweater, afgahn squares, at least three new scarfs and a gift exchangew for my knitting group. I'm going to be bold and tell you that cedar chest is full of more projects. 

From the beginning cast on there is so much promise in those first stitches. Of course there is the delight in what the fiber looks like when all that beautiful color is knit. And then there is the complexity of design, not just in the pattern you choose, but in the very idea that you can just make little loops and turn a long strand of fiber into - "Something, Anything!" That's pretty glorious in it's self, but now add in the joy that comes with giving something you created.

As makers, we all know that until the gift is given, the project is not complete.

I know I've shown you this before. It's titled "A Knitty Christmas"
from Left is Uncle Bob, husband John, Aunt Margie and John's mom, Jane - all sporting hand knits from me.
They were funny to see all lined up for a photo but they were worn for many years!

 I'm wishing all of you, my friends, a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season!
May all of your hand made treasures be loved and appreciated for many years to come! 





Elsie and Jean, Side by Side

Before John and I bought our first home, we lived in several different apartments, moving around every year or so and getting a feeling of how we wanted to live. One of our favorite homes was a flat in South St Louis. It was easy walking distance to my parent's home, and I could visit my Mom most mornings. 

We really liked our home on Fillmore St. It had two bedrooms, so there was plenty of space to start our family. We lived on the first floor. Upstairs lived a very sweet couple of senior women, Elsie and Jean. They were very good friends for many years, and when their husbands passed away they decided to live together. Aside from the traditional front and back entrances, our flat had a side entrance. It provided access from both of our apartments to the outside and the basement for storage and laundry. As we got to know each other, we left the side doors open so that we could visit and help each other out.

Their flat was filled with all of the collections that represented women of their era. They had beautiful carved Old World style furniture with embroidered linens draped over the arm rests, backs of chairs and all polished wood surfaces. In the front room they displayed an enormous collection of Hummel figurines. To this day, if I see one, I think of the two of them.

The ladies wore pretty print dresses with hats. In the spring they wore hand knit shawls and in the winter, long coats.They started every day walking several blocks to early morning mass. They cooked lightly and served everything on the delicate china they both had collected. Elsie and Jean had a fondness for baked goods so many of their daily outtings were to local bakeries. They were charming, sharing stories of their own young lives. We liked them very much.

I only knew them for a short time. Elsie passed away on a winter morning.  It was cold out for walking, but she would not consider missing daily mass. Just a little while after she returned she died. Jean was beside herself with grief, and could not continue to live in the flat without Elsie. It was very sad not to have them upstairs any longer. 

I made the above painting from a photo one of my friends shared with me. The photo triggered the memory, as the two women in the picture so much reminded me of Elsie and Jean. I had not thought of them in many years - but a flood of memory returned as I made my painting. And how perfect to make them into a birthday card tribute to such a friendship! 

 My best memories always include you!

                                                                     Happy Birthday



Little Wonder Woman

I took a beautiful photograph of my niece, Rebecca many years ago. We were was getting ready for her 3rd birthday party. She was so excited, busy overseeing all the party preprations and anticipating an event about her. I thought she was just adorable in her wonder woman underwear and sponge curlers. When I decided last year to begin adding some younger women into my card line, I simply fell in love with this photo again.

I'm so happy she granted me permission to use the image in one of my greeting cards. She is an awesome adult - educator, wife and mother with her own little wonder woman (and son!)

Little Wonder Woman is a perfect encouragement card for any woman, young or old.

Find this card at retailers who stock my greeting cards, or in my shop




Fruit Strudel with Peaches and Cherries

 In the picture above is a recipe for Chop Chop steak that my mother-in-law used to make in an electric skillet. It is really very good, and even with out the San Francisco style Rice-a-Roni no longer available, long grain wild rice substitues nicely. On the right is my family's recipe for Hot Tamales. I can only slightly remember them at one of my uncle's homes. My mom had the recipe written down on the folded sheet above and then I copied it for myself 20 years ago. Making hot tamales is an all day affair requiring many tamale makers. It's a party that begins in the morning while assembling them, an all day simmer in a giant canning pot, and at the end of the party - serve tamales! 

My recipe cards are varied in style and shape. Some are worn from many uses. Some I inherited from my mother and mother-in-law, and even though I don't make all of them, I simply can't bare to toss any. Each recipe is hand written by my mother, a girlfriend or one of my grandmothers. When digging through them to search out a certain recipe, I often get caught up in the nostalgia of the whole thing - remembering what the food tasted like or a party it might have been served at. I can't imagine not having these memories tucked away in my kitchen drawer.

My mother-in-law, Jane made this cookbook for me. They were all of her family's favorite recipes. She typed them on her IBM electronic type writer. She placed a strip of linen tape on the pages so they wouldn't tear and then punched the holes for the ring binder. That's a lot of effort to make such a pretty recipe binder. All of her recipes that my husband loved are in this book! 

I have the book open to one of her Go-To desserts that became one of mine. It's fast to assemble and you can use just about any available fruit. Since I had peaches and cherries available that's what I used.

Arrange pitted cherries cut in half with sliced and peeled peaches in a butter 7 x 11 inch pan.

Mix the batter (recipe provided) and spread over the top of the fruit with a spatula. It's very thick so I usually drop small dollops of batter over the surface and then use the spatula to spread it out.

There it is, ready for the oven! Bake at 350o for 45 to 50 minutes until lightly brown.

Cool and then cut into squares. Serve upside down! Isn't that pretty? It's a great fruit cake served warm from the oven with ice cream!

In case you couldn't read Jane's recipe, here is one printed on one of my new recipe cards!
Feel free to copy and print this

Just in time for the holidays I now have a collection of 5 different recipe cards. All of them can be purchased in my shop. Here's an easy link to the recipe cards 

My family's favorite version of Fruit Strudel is with apples, in season right now, with cinnamon, sugar and nuts sprinkled over them. Served warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla on top.  I think it's a perfect autumn dessert! Hope you enjoy Jane's fruit strudel recipe. 


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