My crafting and family life journal

Mariner’s Compass quilt

Now that the quilts for the grandchildren are complete I have moved my mariner’s compass top back to the worktable. The center of this top consists of five rounds of paper pieced units. Since each of the rounds is circular, and sewing circles is one of my weakest areas, I am hand appliquéing the rounds to each other. This technique may take a bit longer than machine joining, but for me, the results are better. And since there are some many small units and repeated patterns in the stars I am using freezer paper pattern templates. The freezer paper allows me to only have to draw each pattern once and then stack template paper and use an unthreaded needle on my sewing machine to create multiple foundation patterns at once — it also means that I do not have to pick paper out of seams at the end of the project. 👍


I hope to complete the quilt center in the next week or so, and another month or two to complete the multiple borders selected for the piece. The the end of the project the top will be approximately 90 inches square.

The following Videos demonstrate a few of the techniques I am using in this project

Kids quilts done


Today I finished the binding on the last of my 2015 Christmas quilts. I had good intentions for getting the quilts for my youngest two grandchildren in the mail in early December. And that should have been possible since the pricing and quilting was completed in mid November. The problem was that I kept avoiding hand stitching the binding on the two full size quilts until a few weeks ago. I even set a new goal for myself by texting my daughter to tell her the quilts would be dropped in the mail that week. With the new goal in hand I started sewing the binding on the first quilt, got about halfway around the piece before I was distracted by another project. Earlier this week I texted her again noting that I was having a problem with the binding and that it would be an additional week before the quilts would be sent to the girls. This week I spent each evening working on the bindings so that I would not have to send another text of regret. The added pressure on myself did the trick. The bindings are now done and the quilts will be in the mail early next week.

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The lesson that I learned from this is that I cannot  have more than one binding project at a time on my work table. If I do I get a bit overwhelmed and revert to my avoidance behavior.


… Now I should move on to the new quilt my daughter requested.

The Ladies

A bit more of the work on my Blackwork piece has been completed. I am at a loss as to what pattern to use for the remaining outer sections. So I will move onto finishing the ladies in the center of the piece. Please let me know if you have any stitch recommendations for the outside blocks.


Cranberry bran muffins

We have been blessed with another sunny winter day so I decided to make some low sugar bran muffins as a treat for my honey. For some reason the chickens decided that they wanted to take a rest from laying so we have no eggs in the house. Since there was a missing ingredient I used flax eggs for recipe which reduced the calories and made the recipe vegan. The resulting muffins were light and tasty so I thought I would share the recipe.

Cranberry bran muffins


  • 1 1/4 cups bran cereal
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 5 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (use the ones sweetened with apple juice if possible)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare two 12 cup muffin tins (I like to use silicone muffin tins — they do not have to be oiled and are reusable)
  2. In a small bowl stir bran cereal into 1 cup of apple juice and set aside for 15 minutes to soften.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking power, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat flax meal with the remaining 3/4 cup of apple juice and beat for about a minute. Blend in oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the bran and apple sauce mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just incorporated — do not over mix.
  6. Divide the mixture among the muffin tins (an ice cream scoop makes quick work of this).
  7. Bake for 7 minutes, turn the tins and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the middle come out clean.
  8. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Freeze any muffins not consumed the day made.

2016 Projects

I entered the new year with several started craft projects and just as many projects that have been moved to the UFO pile.

Before a major work related project, and the growing season starts I hope to make some major progress on four started projects.

1. Winter in the village quilt for our bed. I got a nice start on the blocks during the holidays, but lost a bit off interest when I started working on the roof and sky areas that require a large number of Y seams. Hopefully I will get back to the project soon.


2. The ladies (working title) Blackwork piece. I love, love, love Blackwork, but it takes a great deal of time to lay all of the stitches — for example the band of Blackwork in the photo took me more than two weeks to complete. To be honest I have pushed many of my other projects aside to spend time on this project. I think I will do one or two more sections and then put it aside to work on one of my other projects.


3. The Lady at the Lake needlepoint is another one of my original designs that I started working the Summer of 2015. It is a very large piece that I worked on non stop for a few months — then lost interest in the project. I plan on picking the project up again about mid spring when I can sit on the sun porch while I stitch.


4. I have been working on the Sun Goddess needlepoint canvas for more than five years.My partner bought this canvas for me more than 10 years ago and it sat in the closet for a few years before I brought it out and started stitching the project. It uses many complex stitches that were selected to challenge my skills, and I rose to the challenge, but every time I make a major mistake I put the canvas aside for a time. Currently I have had a very had time deciding on a stitch to use of the dress. Several have been trials and I have pulled all of them out. If an appropriate stitch for the dress can be found I will pick the project up again this year, and maybe even finish the project.


I have started to make a bit of headway with my latest piece. All of the outlining has been completed and pattern work started. All of the areas around the central images will be filled with some traditional backgrounds in black, and the images will be done in dull colors and open patterns, and the skin of the women will be cross stitched with natural skin tones. I think I will attempt to do a shaded background on the center square (never tried this before so we will see how it works out).


Do you have any thoughts or feedback on this project?

First project for 2016

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season full of friends and family. Our holidays were just the right mix for us. There were a few family members that live to far away for a visit, but we were still blessed with a nice mix of family and friends new and old this season.

Between house guests I designed and started outlining my first Blackwork projects for 2016.


The ladies in the piece were originally used in a much larger piece of needlepoint I created last year. I liked the fished designed so much that they were repurposed for this project.


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