Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Country Cottage

As promised in my previous post (about the Hometown Farmers' Market) here are some pictures of The Country Cottage "Home of the Blue Ribbon Pickles". This is the VERY CUTE shop on Race Street in Jim Thorpe,Pa where I buy VERY YUMMY homemade pickles and jams AND , their newest creation, jalapeno salsa -- it'll knock your socks off !!!! Lori, the shop owner, aka "the Pickle Lady" cooks up all these goodies in her little kitchen right there in the back of her shop. She has won many blue ribbons at the county fair for her pickles (there they are -- the pickles and their well - deserved blue ribbons in picture #2). The third picture shows the cupboard with all those mouth watering jams Lori makes. You can also see into the front room of the shop where she has all sorts of pretty things, such as floral quilts and table runners, pretty tea cups, and another of my favorite things --- BUTTONS !! A big bowl filled with buttons she picks up at various flea markets, etc. Upstairs, she has a room filled with quaint Christmas themed items.

Of course I can't go in The Country Cottage and come out empty handed -- the last picture I posted shows you my loot from today's visit -- some yummy jam (peach, strawberry, and strawberry peach -- I like to keep a couple of extra jars on hand to use as little gifts along with homemade British Scones.) --- AND I also bought some really neat buttons from Lori's stash of favorites !! (don't they look like candy the way they're wrapped up?!)

So, if you're in the area , come visit Lori at The Country Cottage, 37 Race Street, Jim Thorpe, Pa . You can also contact her at 1-800-304-8522.

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hometown Farmers' Market

Yesterday I went to the Hometown Farmer's Market. (the name of the town is actually Hometown -- this is where I grew up -- Hometown, Pa -- a "suburb" of Tamaqua , Pa -- HA! now you know how big it ISN'T !) Anyhow, the Hometown Farmer's Market has been there, every Wednesday for as long as I can remember. I used to go there with my Mom when I was a kid. She used to buy peaches and strawberries to make jam , or cucumbers to make pickles. Back then, we, the locals , all called the Farmers' Market the Auction. I don't know why -- I don't ever remember seeing an auction going on when I was there, but I guess before my time it may have started out as an auction. Anyhow, over the years it has expanded from the one indoor building and surrounding stalls, to a 2nd building (which used to be the bowling alley where we'd go in the winter when we were kids ) and a ton of outdoor stalls. Nowadays, there are alot of vendors with t-shirts, socks, purses, and that kind of stuff. BUT, happily, there still are many vendors with fresh produce AND homemade baked goods (alot of Pa Dutch baked goods like shoo-fly pie ).

Now, I wish I was industrious enough like my mother was and go to the Farmers' Market to buy peaches and strawberries, and cucumbers to make homemade jam and pickles -- BUT, right now, I'm not --- I'd like to be -- maybe one of these days I'll ask my mother to teach me how to make that stuff -- but right now, I buy jams and homemade pickles at a local shop in town called "the Country Cottage" .(Lori, the shop owner and Pickle Lady, as my kids call her, makes the absolute BEST stuff -- and she's a regular at the Wednesday Hometown Farmers' Mkt where she buys all her produce to make all that good stuff -- Then she goes back to her shop where she has a kitchen in the back and cooks up all her produce into wonderful goodies -- her shop smells heavenly !-- so, if Lori's making that good homemade stuff, I'll save myself and my kitchen the huge mess I'm sure I'd be making , and I'll buy it from Lori at "the Country Cottage"! -- she doesn't have a website, otherwise I'd post it here for you -- I'll take a picture of her VERY cute shop one of these days and post it for you -- it's on Race St in Jim Thorpe -- go visit if you're in the area.)

Anyhow, there's a picture of what I did end up buying at the Farmers' Market yesterday (last picture). I couldn't resist those pretty Black Eyed Susans -- some local peaches, zucchini and tomatoes. I think I'll make a peach cobbler and some zucchini bread , and I think I'll have one of those tomatoes for lunch today stuffed with some tuna salad ---- ooohhhhh , my mouth is watering!

Before I zoom out of here to work for the day, let me tell you quickly about those quilts in the last picture. There are 2 quilts (I just kind of bunched them up for the picture). My mother - in - law gave me these pretty little quilts a few years ago. She found them in one of the New Jersey shore houses my father -in - law owned over the years. They're what I think are called summer quilts -- there's no batting , just the quilt top and the backing. These 2 quilts are very narrow with a muslin dust ruffle attached to 3 sides . Maybe they were used on a cot (like a camping type cot) or maybe for a crib. I'm not sure how old they are, but the fabrics look like they could be feedsacks from the 1930's or 1940's.

Well, gotta zoom to work to make some $ (DARN -- that really cuts into my play time of sewing, baking , gardening, etc. BUT, I guess I better make some $ to help pay for that fabric buying habit I seem to have!!!)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Quilts and the Underground Railroad - - Brilliant !!

Last Wednesday my mother and I went to a really interesting lecture about "Quilts of the Underground Railroad". The lecture was given by a local lady , Susan Paul , who is a quilt maker, quilt teacher, quilt designer AND also a high school home ec teacher. (that's Sue in the first picture posing with her Underground Railroad sampler quilt she made and uses to explain the theory. The patterns for her sampler came from Eleanor Burns' book "Underground Railroad Sampler"--- picture #3) Sue uses the book "Hidden in Plan View" (by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard --- picture #2) as the basis of her lecture. This whole theory/story came to the attention of Jacqueline Tobin in 1994 when she was in Charleston, SC and met an African American quilter Ozella McDaniel Williams who was a vendor in the Old Market Building in Charleston (I was there last summer -- it's really neat -- what I could see of it in the half hour blur I was alloted by my husband and 2 teenage sons who were bored out of their minds -- UGH! --I've got to go there sometime BY MYSELF !) Anyhow, Ozella , over the course of a few years, told Jacqueline Tobin a story that had been passed along in her family from generation to generation. That story has to do with quilts and "how enslaved men and women encoded messages within quilt patterns that helped fugitives navigate their escape along the Underground Railroad." In her lecture, Sue explained that a seemingly innocent and very everyday sort of object like a quilt hanging on a fence or airing out in an open window was really a message to a slave who was getting ready to make their escape. Each pattern had a specific meaning or code and gave that slave instructions for their next move. According to Eleanor Burns' book, the Monkey Wrench quilt was the first quilt displayed as a signal for any slaves who planned to escape.(on Sue's quilt, that's the block in the middle of the top row.) "This quilt symbolized the time to collect tools they would need on their journey north to freedom." The second quilt the slaves would see would be the Wagon Wheel quilt (on Sue's quilt, that's the block on the far right in the top row.) This quilt was "a message to pack provisions for their journey as if they were packing a wagon....... pack supplies that would be essential for survival." The next block Sue has on her sampler is the Bear Paw block (2nd row, 1st block). To a slave "reading" this quilt, it meant they were to follow the actual trail of a bear's footprints. "Animal footprints would indicate the best path through the mountains....and would lead to food and water." Sue went on the explain the meanings/codes behind the rest of the quilt blocks -- VERY INTERESTING !!

The third book , Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (by Deborah Hopkinson) is a fictional story of a young slave girl who was separated from her mother and sent to another plantation to work. She is taken care of by another slave, Aunt Rachel, who is the seamstress for the "Missus" in the "Big House". Aunt Rachel teaches Clara to sew, and Clara eventually figures out how to piece a quilt that is an actual map showing the way through the woods, streams, etc to the Ohio River , then to Canada and freedom.

Now - - here's my summary of this entire theory . In a nutshell, this is just another example of how women and their "ho hum" domestic skills played a HUGE role in this country's history and (let's shout this loud and clear) SAVED THE DAY !!! Right?!? Think about it -- who were the quiltmakers? WOMEN !!! LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS !!!!

I also have to tell you about a fun little bonus from Sue's lecture last Wednesday evening. An elderly lady who also was at the lecture went up to Sue afterwards to tell Sue how much she enjoyed the lecture and also to see if Sue remembered her. It turns out this lady, Miss Richards, was Sue's 7th grade Home Ec teacher at Tamaqua Junior High -- AND, she was also MY 7th grade Home Ec teacher !!!!---which , of course, I had to jump right in the middle of their conversation and practically shout --"MISS RICHARD'S -- you were my home ec teacher ,too !!! Remember me ?!? I still have the SPAM recipe !! Poor Miss Richard's!! I think it was all coming back to her now -- Anyhow, Sue , who was a few years ahead of me in school, said they also made a Spam recipe (their's was a BBQ Spam, ours was an Easter Spam -- yum, yum ! I guess Miss Richard's was a big fan of Spam.) The 7th grade sewing project was the same for Sue's class and for mine -- that being an apron with GIGANTIC rick rack !! At the time I hated the rick rack -- but now I have to say, I'm a huge fan of rick rack -- and I have Miss Richard's to thank for that!!!

Anyhow, if you're interested in having Sue teach a class or give a lecture, you can reach her at (she lives not too far from me in Pa.)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Garland instructions -- Grand Finale !!

Ready for the Garland Grand Finale ? OK -- here it is ! Tie a knot at each end of the rope. Now take the 2 remaining blue stars and tack one to each knot at the ends of the rope (picture #1).

Next you need to tack together a medium red star, an off white star and a blue star (one with the 2 red rick rack tails dangling from the legs of the blue star) to make 2 cascading star segments (see picture #3). I used the red pearl cotton to take just a few stitches at the "foot" of one star to attach it to the "head" of the next star.

Now it's time to attach the ties to the 3 big red stripe stars, and the 2 sets of cascading stars. Take a blue tie and fold it in half with wrong sides together. Place the fold at the tip of a star and just tack in place with a few stitches (I used the same red pearl cotton that I used to sew the buttons on with). (See picture #4). Now you can tie the 3 big stars and the 2 sets of cascading stars onto the rope and adjust the spacing however you want.

FINALLY -- take the 6 red ties and tie 3 on each end of the rope, above each blue star on either end of the rope (see picture #2) -- adjust spacing of the ties however you want.

. . . . and . . . TA DA !!!!! You're all DONE !!!!! I hope you enjoyed this project and it wasn't too confusing to follow (let me know if it was and I'll try my best to clear up the mud !) Happy sewing!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Garland instructions - finishing touches !

OK -- NOW it's time to add doo dads to decorate the stars even more! On the 3 biggest stars and on the 2 blue stars on each end of the garland rope I sewed a large white button in the center. I used Pearl Cotton in red and used a x-stitch through all layers of the stars. I also sewed a large white button on the ends of the rick rack that dangle down from the 2 blue stars in the cascading star segments.

Next I cut 2 pieces of fabric measuring about 2 inches wide by 6 inches long from the red stripe fabric (using pinking shears). I tied each of these pieces in a knot in the middle. Using the Pearl Cotton, I tacked one red stripe "bow" to the middle of each off white star of the cascading star segments.

OK -- we're almost at the finish line!! Tomorrow --- the Grand Finale !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Play list not quite straightened out . . .

OK -- now my play list is back , but so are the last 2 songs that Evan accidentally added to my blog instead of his My Space -- I'll have to consult "Tech support" again when he can squeeze me in (that would be after he tinkers with his dirt bike and before he goes out riding again.) In the mean time, enjoy those last 2 songs on my play list, compliments of Evan.

. . . and now .... (drum roll please .........) back to the garland instructions -- FINALLY ! ! !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Oops! slight technical difficulty

No -- there's nothing wrong with your computer -- my play list of songs is temporarily on the fritz. Kid #2 was trying to add some songs to his play list on his My Space and somehow got them on my list. Then he tried to delete the songs he added and decided he had to delete the entire play list. ARRGGGHHHH ! ! ! (How many more weeks until school starts?) Anyhow, now we'll wait for big brother Matt to get home to help his technically challenged mother put the play list back on the blog.

Also -- coming soon - - the rest of the instructions for the Star Spangled Garland -- I promise!! OK -- gotta zoom to work!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Star Spangled Garland cont'd . . . . .

This is what these instructions are for (in case you forgot after all this time!) It's ,the Star Spangled Garland.

Garland instructions -- fire up your sewing machine!

OK !! Sewing machines fired up? Here we go!First, make star sandwiches ( picture #1) -- top piece, bottom piece and batting piece in the middle. (all edges are raw edges -- no finished edges in this project -- YEAH!). For the 3 big stars (mine are the red stripe stars -- and , in case you're wondering, I used the WRONG side of the red ticking stripe fabric as my RIGHT side -- I just liked the faded look of it.) -- Anyhow, for the 3 big stars, place a small red star(star #3) in the center (see picture #2) and applique through all 3 layers. (I did this by machine sewing through all 3 layers close to the inside edge of the small star). For all of the star sandwiches, sew all 3 layers together about a 1/4 inch inside the outside edges of the stars (see picture #3). Oh WAIT !! I almost forgot -- before you sew up 2 of the blue stars, cut the rick rack in 4 pieces (I made 2 short and 2 longer pieces) and layer them as in picture #4 -- NOW you can sew all around the edges of those 2 blue stars (the other 2 blue stars don't get rick rack in them since they're on the very ends of the garland ropes - so just sew those all the way around like all the other stars.)

OK -- enough mild confusion for one day! (hopefully not ! BUT, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me ) .

Tomorrow -- the finishing touches !! Happy sewing!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

For your listening pleasure . . . .

We interrupt our ongoing program (of garland instructions) to bring you this latest bulletin. Thanks to my "tech support",17 year old son Matt and his buddy Lance, who installed the playlist for me, you can now enjoy some jazzy music while you read my blog . Just turn on your computer speakers and have a listen. I got the idea from Tina's blog , Cherry Hill Cottage. Thanks Tina !

Enjoy! Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Star Garland continued . . .

OK --- ready to make the patterns? (and believe me, this is a VERY inexact science !! -- just free and easy !) To start each star, I just drew a 5 pointed star the way they taught back in elementary school (see picture #1) -- start at point A , go up to point B, down to point C, up to point D , across to point E and back down to point A. After that, I just rounded out the points to come up with my finished star pattern. The largest star (#1) measures approximately 7 1/2 " tall and 6 1/2 " wide. The medium star (#2) measures approximately 5 3/4 " tall and 5 1/4" wide. The smallest star (#3) measures approximately 3 1/2 " tall and 3 1/2" wide. Of course, if you want a more precise star, you could use Betsy Ross's directions for a 5 - pointed star.

To make the tie pattern, I first drew a sideways figure 8 - - then I just eliminated the middle part where the lines cross over and rounded it out. The tie measures approximately 7 1/4" wide by 1 1/4" tall.

I decided to tea dye the rope base ( picture #4) that the stars are strung on (I wanted a more vintage look and felt the rope was too stark white). To tea dye, (another inexact science the way I do it!) I pour boiling water into a large bowl and put 2 tea bags in to steep for a few minutes. I used Red Rose tea bags -- i.e. just regular tea bags. I think you might get slightly different shades by using different tea bags e.g. green tea bags give a lighter, more yellow finished dye color). I put the rope in the tea bath and let it sit for about 5 minutes. (I think it would get darker if you let it in there longer. ). After I take it out, I rinse it with cold water and let it dry.

Okee, dokee -- on to the cutting directions!

Cutting out the pieces

I used pinking shears to cut out all the stars , batting and ties.

From red stripe fabric, using largest star pattern (#1) cut 6 stars (enough for 3 large finished stars front and back)

From red fabric with white stars, using medium size star pattern (#2) cut 4 stars (enough for 2 medium finished stars front and back).

From blue fabric with white stars, using star pattern #2 cut 8 stars (enough for 4 medium finished stars front and back)

From beige print fabric , using star pattern #2 , cut 4 stars (enough for 2 medium finished stars)

From red fabric with white stars, using star pattern #3 (smallest star) cut 3 stars (to applique on 3 large stars)

Using the tie pattern, cut 5 blue ties and 6 red ties (red fabric with white stars).

From the cotton batting cut 3 large stars, and 8 medium stars.

Happy cutting !! I'll start posting the sewing/construction directions tomorrow (I think! -- kids have a dirt bike race tomorrow -- so I may not get to post again until Monday -- but I'll try for tomorrow!!) . . . and, like I said, if this is all about as clear as mud, please feel free to post any questions in the comments or email me.

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Garland instructions ..........(finally !!!) SHEESH !

Nope -- No -- I haven't fallen off the face of the earth --just got way too busy at work , etc. Kept me away from sewing, crafting and blogging. BUT, now that it's Friday early evening, I'm squeezing in my blogging before my jogging, (well, it's more like a combination of a fast walk and a slow trot ....) and also before that pile of paperwork which has , again , accumulated on my desk.

ANYHOW, as usual I'm a day late and a dollar short (actually it's more like many days late). My original plan for the Star Spangled Garland was to post the instructions for making it BEFORE the 4th of July so anyone who wanted to also make it in time to actually display on the 4th of July could. However, since I didn't finish the one I made until the morning of the 4th of July, Plan A didn't work out ....... so, here' s Plan B : you could make one now and be WAY early for the next 4th of July, OR you could make the garland in Christmas colors , OR you could make the garland in colors to go in a baby's room, etc ! (the picture with the red, white and blue fabrics are the fabrics I used for my garland. The picture with the pinks, and greens I thought would make a pretty Christmas garland or a pretty garland for a little girl's room; and the blue and yellow fabrics , which I LOVE, would also make a cute garland for a baby's room)

So, here's the list of stuff you need to make this garland ( you can make it longer, with more stars, but then , of course, you need more stuff to make it. I made my garland with 3 big stars, and 2 sets of cascading stars , and 1 star at each end of the rope).

(I used 4 different fabrics)

1/4 yd red stripe fabric
1/4 yd red with white stars fabric
1/4 yd blue with white stars fabric
fat 1/8 yd beige print
82 inches cotton clothesline rope (approx 1/4 inch diameter)
25 inches jumbo rick rack
1/2 yd cotton batting
9 large buttons
Pearl cotton or embroidery floss (red)
pinking shears

OK, I think that's everything - - oh, except a sewing machine -- but, actually, you could do this entire project by hand stitching -- which would be fun and relaxing, but , as usual, being the "Queen of Last Minute", I had my sewing machine pedal floored and was breaking the sewing speed limit at 2:30 AM in an attempt to finish the project on time.

ANYHOW, this is my first attempt at giving instructions for one of my sewing projects ( I usually make stuff up as I go along, so this time I tried to take notes and take pictures as I was sewing.) -- so, if anything is as clear as mud and you have questions, please feel free to post your questions in the comments or also feel free to email me (and I will attempt to clear up the mud!)

OKee Dokey --- I will continue these instructions tomorrow (right now I need to get off my butt and get out and walk before it gets dark and the bears come out!) So........ see you tomorrow ! Same Bat time, same Bat station!! ( remember that from that 1960's Batman TV show? I know, I'm dating myself ......UGH !)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sweet Summertime .... (more pictures from the "crick")

Just had to add these picture to today's earlier post ( yes! - 2 posts in one day!). . . More picture from yesterday's afternoon spent at the "crick". The first one is of the stone steps/pathway leading from the trailer down to the dock and creek. (VERY lush and pretty !). Next is Evan in the kayak towing Pop Pop. That's my husband Dave (goofy smile ) sitting in the front of the canoe, with his brother Mark in the back. AND, the last picture is of Evan -- prepared for anything and everything!!

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Ahhh . . . Sweet summertime . . .

Ahhh....... sweet, sweet summertime! Yesterday was spent swimming in the creek (pronounced "crick" in these parts). My father - in - law has a little house (actually it's more like a trailer) not too far from Jim Thorpe , off the beaten path near the town of Parryville. It's a beautiful, peaceful spot in the woods , on the creek that comes off of Beltzville Dam around the bend -- so the water is COLD !!! (we like to refer to it as refreshing on a hot summer day - - your limbs won't go numb if you keep moving !!) Up around the bend , up the crick, is a really deep spot where the kids can jump off of the rocks. There are also tons of trout , ducks and geese , beavers, etc. There in the first picture are my boys, Matt and Evan horsing around trying to dunk each other. Ahhhh ...... a "refreshing" swim, then sitting on the dock in the sun eating watermelon and spitting the seeds into the crick --- a little heaven on earth!

Today, I finally got around to making that cherry cobbler I've been talking about for at least a week. So, there it is , ready for a picnic on yet another perfect summer afternoon ! (by the way, that quilt was a birthday gift from my husband a couple of years ago. He found it in a wicker warehouse store where he buys alot of furniture for the hotel (The Inn at Jim Thorpe) that he is partner and manager of -- if you want to take a peek, it's listed over there on the right in my list of fun blogs, etc. Blogger wouldn't cooperate with me to link it here in my message). He said the guy was pretty much using it to throw over stuff in the back of his truck -- YIKES !! So, my husband rescued it and gave it to me for my birthday -- I LOVE it!! I'm not sure how old it is, but it's all hand appliqued, embroidered, and hand quilted !! AND it has a scalloped border !!!)

Anyhow, here's the Weight Watcher friendly cherry cobbler recipe if you want to make it.


1 20 oz can of Lite cherry pie filling (I used Lucky Leaf)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
3 Tbsp reduced - calorie margarine
1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
1 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Pour cherry pie filling into 8-inch square baking pan. (originally , I was going to use fresh cherries, but then decided it would take too long to pit all those cherries !! )

To make the topping , in a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Work in margarine with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and stir until flour mixture is evenly moistened.

Drop 8 tablespoons of topping mixture onto cherry mixture. (I kind of flattened my 8 blobs out into 1 big blob). Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly,about 20-25 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces and serve. (3 Wt Watcher points per serving).


Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

it's a BEAR ! ! ! ! ! !

Look who came to the Breakfast Club this morning !! It's Papa Bear ! ! (or maybe Teenager Bear -- it wasn't one of the real huge guys, however I still wouldn't want to be on the business end of those claws ! !) -- Anyhow, just now, at about 9 AM, I was still half asleep and putting my tea kettle on the stove when I looked out of my kitchen window and saw this guy making a bee line for the bird feeder. He started clawing the tree like a cat claws the sofa -- then sniffed around the bird seed that had fallen on the ground. I took one picture through the filthy window and screen, then opened the kitchen door to try and get a clearer picture, but that scared Yogi (or it may have been Boo Boo) off into the woods right next to our house. O.K. --- now that I'm REALLY awake, I'll go finish getting my cup of tea .

Mary Anne (aka. Mare)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom ! !

Yesterday, the 4th of July , was my mother's birthday. Here she is with 6 of her 8 grandkids (the 2 oldest visited over the weekend, but had to fly back to Florida for work, college classes, and grad school internships .) Notice that GREAT birthday crown Mom is wearing? It was designed and crafted by my 2 sweet as pie nieces, Maura and Erin (in the 2nd picture, Maura is wearing the white Carmel sweat shirt). Anyhow, yesterday, true to form, I was totally running behind schedule trying to get my food assignments together for the cookout, so I let the girls loose in the Very Pink Sewing Room to wrap my mother's birthday presents for me and to craft some kind of birthday hat . . . and that's what they came up with !!!! (the birthday crown says "4th of July Birthday Girl" )I totally LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it !!! SUCH TALENT !!!!! I really must hire these two ! ! !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July !!

Ta Da ! ! The 4th of July project is finished !! (it's a Star Spangled Garland !) . I'm happy with how it turned out -- I plan to post the instructions later this week. I'm thinkin' my toes are lookin' Mi--tee fine, too! Have a great holiday !

Mary Anne (aka Mare)