Sunday, December 31, 2017


We are so thrilled that the non quilter in the household "got" the concept of this quilt we have adopted his name for the idea. The "Suburbs" pattern from Cluck, Cluck, Sew, in this iteration is henceforth to be known as "Duluth".

Top finished!

The first version of this pattern was Little Cabins in the Woods.

A Fine Litter of Pups

The bromeliad family is getting bigger.

Pup #1 was adopted out to a good home. Pup #2 is still in the house.

Here comes pup #3.

It too has been birthed, weaned from mom, and after spaying or neutering and getting its shots will also be off to live with another qualified family with a reliable track record for keeping houseplants alive. Housebreaking should be a snap.

Reusable Christmas

The young people in the family, ever aware of how our actions affect the planet, suggested that we strive to use less throw-away wrapping at Christmas time. "Hear, hear", we said and promptly got to hemming fabrics that we had aquired for their jaunty holiday patterns and/or attractive July sale prices, to use as wrap in the style of Japanese Furoshiki.

It was fun to both sew and wrap with these pretty fabrics that had been purchased with no real plan in mind. 

One can only make and use so many stockings, table runners, and tree skirts with all the amazing fabrics available.

These wraps, made in a variety of sizes should hold up for many Christmases to come. 

And, post Christmas there are plenty of other uses for the technique with other fabrics. 

This two bottle wrap is great for gifting, or for transporting party supplies.

Furoshiki also works for carrying loose objects such as a stack of books, awkward items like your potluck casserole, or anything that needs a temporary carrying handle. 

Pre-made fabric pieces like handkerchiefs, scarves and dishtowels work too. And fabric with raw or pinked edges can of course be used and may even double as part of the gift for your favorite sewists.

Here is the basic wrap we used for most of the Christmas packages:

Image result for japanese wrap diagram

But there are so many more possibilities. Check out Suika Tsutsumi, the watermelon wrap.

Image result for japanese wrap diagram

And, while it is great to have one more idea for saving the planet, we all know the true value of this project.... reducing our fabric stash and acting like that was our plan all along.

The Good News About Bad Weather

 It is attractive to stay in one's nice warm sewing area vs. being tempted into more post-Christmas sale shopping when the temps are as they are today. 
It is -17F at present with the day's high predicted to be -6F. 

Baby, it's cold outside. 
And that is conducive to the time honored cabin fever tradition of sewing. No more putting off finishing projects when the alternative activities involve five layers of clothing and risking life and limb with frost bite or idiot drivers on slippery roads.

And being well stocked from a recent, sad, going out of business sale of a favorite fabric store there is no reason to venture out for additional stash building.

So finally we have:

A new ironing board cover.

Six new tea towels of MoMo for Moda Japanese cotton/linen.

Six new pillowcases to use up Julie Paschkis fabric. 

A log carrier.

And a good start on 68 little houses for a queen size

Suburbs quilt which may be called


Merry Making with Faux Suede

Getting in the holiday spirit we got back to the sewing machine for a seasonal home accessory update. A very generous friend shared some painterly deer print faux suede from Spoonflower with us. Wish you could feel it. Isn't the design great?

And so fitting as on Christmas Eve eve morning we saw three deer walking right down the middle of Columbia Street. Speculation was that they were doing advance intel for Santa to make the Chippewa Falls run go more smoothly. Probably they were noting details such as the loss of one of our two chimneys when we got new shingles and that our Norway maple has grown another 10 feet up into sleigh airspace. Important time saving tips like that make Santa's job easier for sure.

It must have helped. Santa was very, very good to us.


Look who's ready for some New Year's Eve fun!

Always the hit of the party. 

Penguins reminiscent of Wallace and Gromit's arch nemesis, Feathers McGraw,
bring smiles in the buffet line.

But nobody wants to take the last one off the platter. 

Who could you eat a face like that?

From Betty Crocker's Best Christmas Cookbook.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hunt and Gather

Awhile back we heard author Sam Thayer  speak on foraging. Up until then we had no idea that many, maybe even most, of the plants, nuts, and berries that we see every time we go out in our Northern woods and waters are edible. We bought one of Sam's books and have checked out his website, Forager's Harvest. Now we are starting to see nature as one big pantry. 

Look at these:

They are American Hazelnuts
After realizing that the odd shaped clusters hanging on the ubiquitous, previously not even noticed shrubs are not mutant plant deformations one can recognize them as food. This is the kind of opportunity that hunter gathers like NDL delight in.

The nuts require husking, which can be a rather pleasant, even addicting activity that draws others in. It is a perfect pastime for chatting on a sunny screen porch or at the kitchen table.

Once husked the nuts are cracked and the nutmeats extracted. Taking a hammer to a handful of nuts is a surprisingly satisfying part of the process. 

Toasting brings out the flavor. 
Pretty, eh?

And now we can make our own Nutella, top a dish of ice cream, roll a cheese ball in them, use them in baked goods, or pop a fistful into our mouths as a snack if we are willing to give up an hour's work for one delicious moment.

From our first batch we made these previously featured Hazelnut Krinkle cookies.

Never did we think we would be making them some day with our very own harvest of hazelnuts.

So gratifying! So good!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Chlorociboria aeruginascens (say that five times fast) AKA Green Elf Cups.

Spotted by a keen-eyed nature lover while on a blackberry picking foray.

The rainy summer has brought out some amazing fungi, but this one is particularly charming. 

 9 out of 10 elves agree.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Titan Sphinx

Whose heinie is sticking out of the nasturtium?

Why, it's the Titan Sphinx moth of course. 

Aelepos titan is far from home. The most southern edge of his or her range is Uruguay. Wisconsin is about as far north as titan sightings are reported and their brooding area is the Florida Keys. Seems like someone heeded hurricane evacuation orders and hightailed it to safe space. Good call!

I guess if your favorite tropical hibiscus lunch has been blown out to sea, a northern narcissus will do. Any port in a storm, eh?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Underfoot

We sat on the porch under the big overhanging roof so we wouldn't be tempted to stare at the sun.

We could still see the partial eclipse.

And then many mini eclipses. 

And some teeny tiny eclipses.  

And even more on the sidewalk under our big shade trees on Columbia Street. 

In the end we think we had more fun seeing hundreds of eclipses than if we had seen only one  

big, full, real one. 

And our retinas are completely unscathed. 

Seedy Art

Got a tip on artful seed packets full of lovely heirloom seed varieties from 

How could we not order and share some?

Brilliant red, butterfly attracting, blooms for gifting? Grumpy, but fragrant gnomes? Gleaming edible flowers and foliage?

All right in our wheelhouse.

The true gift was that of a young gardener in the family starting some of them for us while we were gallivanting around Europe right during prime seed sprouting season.

She did a great job!

We have nasturtium, zinnia, 

and a bumper crop of lovely, lemon cucumbers.

So gifted!

Now to think of something clever to do with the beautiful artist-designed packets. 

Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Portable Poutine

Poutine potato chips. No knife, fork, or napkin required, and perhaps minus a few hundred calories and the ensuing stomach ache one might receive from eating real poutine

 Hope the relatives leave room in their luggage for a bag or two of these when they come to WI this week for Christmas in July.

Warning: Santa has been sited in a red, Princecraft fishing boat powered by a 50 horsepower outboard motor named Rudolph. Last chance to make sure your name is on the "Nice" list.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

One Fina Day

For a a garden club field trip. And we really did go to a field this time.

Fina Gardens, right in our own backyard in Hillsdale, WI, sells cut peonies to the floral industry during bloom season and rootstock by mail to any old body in the fall.

Some of these are headed for Hawaii where they will bloom beautifully for some bride who wants bouquet blooms just like in her granny's garden back in the Midwest. The ants have to stay behind.

This is Bartzella, an intersectional peony, and friendly model Earl's beard.

The garden club ladies had sooooo many questions.

NDL mostly looked and oohed and aahed and wished she had a big old yard with full sun.

Partial photo credit: M. Blue, garden club guest (and her amazing iPhone 7)