Just Peachy

Just down the hill a little ways is a lovely organic vegetable farm called Quest Farm Produce. The company started only a few years ago, right around the time I bought my house and, honestly, it’s location was a factor is my home buying decision. I was charmed by the idea of being able to stroll down the hill to buy my vegetables.

Dennis and Bridget’s business has thrived over the years: they’ve added a high tunnel and bee hives, they bought and restored the barn behind the storefront and they’ve been really good neighbors to other producers in the region. I love how they have worked together to provide a real service to the community. It is a true labor of love.

Late in the growing season a few years back,  Mom and I got a wild hair that we needed to make salsa. We’d never done it before and we had no peppers to do it with, and we couldn’t buy in bulk from any of the big grocers. But sure enough Dennis and Bridget found us a peck of crazy hot mixed peppers that turned into tasty salsa that we canned and enjoyed all winter long.

This year’s wild hair is all about the peaches. The peach crop seems unusually delicious — even with the late cold snap and the hot humid summer. The trees have produced a sweet, firm fruit that just screams PEACH in your mouth. Well, the ones from Quest scream like that anyways. I bought a half bushel just to quiet down the little beggars.

Mom found a recipe for canned peach pie filling that was burning a hole in my soul. I kid you not, I’ve been obsessing about peach pie for some time now. I don’t even like pie that much, but I had to give this recipe a try.


Mom loves canning! Do not ask her how many canning jars she has!

With the giant peaches from Quest Farm in the half bushel size, we were able to make three batches of filling on Saturday afternoon. We altered the recipe a bit each time, hoping to find the most perfect combination of flavors. The final batch was exquisite with these modifications: we upped the peaches so the filling would be chunkier, we reduced the sugar by quite a bit (which really made the lemon flavor shine through),then we increased the cinnamon by 1/2 and we replaced some of the water with peach schnapps for a bit of added peach flavor (shh!).


Peach pie filling before water bath processing.

 This is yummy stuff. Why do I always do these things right before I get really serious about eliminating sweets from my diet? <sigh>

What does all of this have to do with quilting? It’s all about the peaches.  In 1982 a dear friend of my mother’s (a story I’ll save for another time) gave me this peach Asian-print inspired quilt. It’s a simple twin bed sized quilt that was hand quilted and machine finished.


Simple quilt circa 1982. Made by Mrs. Beiter, Buffalo, NY


Hand stitching.

When I was working with my mother this weekend, she asked whether or not still I had this quilt. Of course I do I told her, “Good peaches are worth preserving.”  Happy canning season!

Down for the Count

Fall is really coming. My son started JV soccer practice today. Can cool, rainy fall nights be far away?


Sisters are the best! Cindy took my dracula mug rug pattern and made it into something real! She even quilted it — a skill I have yet to master. We posted the pattern on Craftsy for $1.00 as an experiment. Does anyone buy quilt patterns?  We shall see!

If you think I’m jumping the season, one of my spooky friends in Texas posted this on her Facebook page today — it made me laugh and reminded me about how welcome some cool air will be.


It’s time to start sewing some of that fall swag!


Count Dracula mug rug in action.

Seasonal Peer Pressure

IMG_0687Have you noticed all the fall-themed quilts on social media sites this week? As soon as the calendar turns to August, the back-to-school drumbeat begins and everything is all brilliant maple leaves and pumpkins. This is not new. I remember when I was in high school, the highlight of the summer was driving to Rochester, NY to shop at the Southtown Plaza for school clothes. We had to make this 70+ mile trip because there were no real stores in our small town. We always stopped at a restaurant called the Carriage House. They served the most delicious clam chowder.

One of my all-time favorite back to school outfits from the big-time Rochester shopping trip was a three piece burgundy velvet pantsuit. Yes it was the ’70s, yes it was glorious. Yes it was stunning and yes that outfit during the first week of September was hotter than the “hot place” if you know where I mean. I had been sucked in by marketing, believing that Mother Nature obeyed the laws of retail and I spent one uncomfortable still-summer September day drenched in sweat — but I still looked good!

Anyway, back to people jumping the quilting gun on fall. I surrender. Here’s my first autumn offering: Count Dracula in an inglorious mug rug format.



My quilt sandwich is ready to go (again). I’ve tried to quilt this three times (can you see the holes where the stitches went off the rails?): once free-form, once using painter’s tape for rules (thanks for the tip, Cindy)  and once stitching in the ditch. I think I need a class (or 12).

I do so love those goofy googly eyes.

Little Bits

When I first started quilting I did not have much fabric. I hoarded all my scraps and, using Lori Holt’s advice, I started cutting them into “standard sizes” that would be available whenever I was ready with a project. After a while I had so many pre-cut scrap blocks that I had to start sorting them by color.

Late night surfing led me to Red Pepper Quilts where I was inspired by the vibrant colors of a Postage Stamp quilt. Later I spied another version of the Postage Stamp quilt blocks that used white space to break up the colors and tiny pinwheels that pointed to the corresponding color in the quilt. I knew I had to use that technique to dive into my ready-made blocks.

I waded through my stash of  1.5″ squares and tried to keep my sanity. Now I know that it’s better to cut strips, sew them together, then rotate them around to get this effect, but hey — I was a newbie, a dewy-eyed quilter, a Lori-Holt-following, Red-Pepper-Quilt-inspired greenhorn.

Plus I needed to learn how to sew a straight line — it was good practice to sew on these little bits and tear it out quickly when necessary (much more often than I care to discuss!).


Piecing all the blue bits together.


Pink postage block.

About two years ago I finished the top. It was so crisp and clean and bright! I was terribly excited! I started calling it the picnic quilt (can’t you just see mustard smeared across it?)…But it was smaller than I envisioned (56″x56″). It needed some seriously wide borders.


Quilt top inspired by Red Pepper Quilts.

I agonized about those borders for a long time — maybe  year or two??? The multitude of colors stumped me. I tried many black background rainbow prints, but they always looked too somber, and lots of them were juvenile prints. I finally settled on a green lawn-like dotted Swiss. And then I waited to cut out and attach said borders for another year.

But this week I have broken through my stasis. I love this quilt, but I let it languish unfinished for a long time. Now I need to cut out the binding and search for a backing. In my mind the backing has always been red gingham to go along with the picnic theme. What do you think? Too literal?


Picnic quilt top