Low Volume HST Quilt

Over two years ago I started thinking about making a king size quilt for my bed. I did not have a specific pattern in mind, but I knew I wanted it to be somewhat neutral in color to match my bedroom. While perusing Pinterest one day I came across a HST (Half Square Triangle) quilt made by Diary of a Quilter. It was stunning in gray and white.

I loved the simple design and knew I would need something similar in order to make it through the process of creating a massive king size quilt. A few weeks later I saw a quilt made by Andrea at HomewithAndreaSims. I loved the Starglass pattern she designed (and purchased it for later use) but was enamored with the fabric which was called Soften the Volume by Art Gallery Fabrics.

Using these two quilts as inspiration I started designing my own low volume quilt. A low volume quilt describes the intensity of the colors used, in this case, fabrics with a subdued color way. I knew I wanted to use 6″ squares and determined the size of the quilt would be 108 x 90 inches. I would make 15 rows of 18 squares. Putting my quilt math knowledge to use I determined I would need to make 270 six-inch half square triangle blocks.

In order to make a six-inch half square triangle block I needed to cut 7″ squares initially. That provides a quarter inch on each side for the seams plus room to square up the blocks after they are sewn together.

The next step was to actually purchase my fabric and I calculated I needed five fat quarter bundles to cut out 270 7 inch squares. Buying fat quarter bundles is not the most economical way to buy fabric but at the time this was all I could find.

Next it was time to cut the fabric and make the blocks. There are many on-line tutorials on how to make a half square triangle block so I will not go into detail here, however here is a link for three different ways to make a half square triangle from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I used the “two at a time” method.

Creating all 270 squares was the most time-consuming part of the construction. Once that was complete, I started sewing the rows, then attached the rows together to finish the quilt top.

I knew before I finished this quilt that I would send it out for quilting on a long arm. There was no way I was going to try and tackle this huge quilt on my domestic sewing machine. Fortunately, I know a wonderful quilter who I have trusted with four other quilt tops. She is quick, reasonably priced and treats the quilt with care. You can find her on ETSY at Nancysquiltingcoshop.

I told Nancy that since this quilt top was dominated with hard triangles, I wanted the quilting to be loops and swirls. She sent me several options to choose from. I could not be happier with how it turned out.

The quilting really pops on the neutral fabric. I started thinking about what fabric I would use to bind the quilt the minute I sent it off for quilting. I wanted to be ready as soon as the quilt was returned. I had a fair amount of leftover fabric that was probably too small for many projects but might work for the binding. All I needed were 2 1/2″ strips of fabric that I could sew together to measure 406 inches, or about 34 feet!!!! Turns out I had enough. I love that the binding is made of the same fabric as the quilt top.

This quilt is now nicely folded on the foot of my bed. There is nothing better than snuggling up with a quilt, especially when you have created it yourself!

February Bread Challenge: Focaccia

Last month I shared with you that I am participating in LittleFarmFolk’s #MAKEBREAD365 challenge.

In January we made everyday sandwich bread and my choice was oatmeal bread. You can read all about that here. The February challenge is focaccia which is a large, flat Italian bread sprinkled with olive oil, salt and often herbs.

An added challenge for me is that I am spending the month of February away from my home and my own kitchen. My cooking and baking are limited while on vacation so I knew I would not necessarily have all the tools and ingredients I would normally have on hand. In preparation, I reviewed the recipe I would be using, Natashia’s Kitchen Focaccia Bread, and packed a few items to bring with me including:

  • My food thermometer
  • a small amount of honey
  • olive oil
  • dried Italian seasoning
  • pre-measured flour, 470 grams to be exact.

There are two things I have learned over the years that have made a huge difference in my bread making success and that is to measure the temperature of the water before adding the yeast (approximately 110 degrees) and weighing the flour. Neither of those things are hard or time consuming so I always do them even if the recipe does not call for it. I have an inexpensive digital scale that can toggle between ounces and grams. This recipe calls for 470 grams of flour so I pre-measured that amount and packed it in a zip lock bag.

I certainly did not want to be inside when it was a sunny day outside and I could be here,

so I waited for a rainy day to make my bread!

Natashia’s recipe is very straightforward but does require several hours of rising time. She has a great video that takes you through the process step by step.

I only took a couple of pictures of my process because my work area was small and the lightening was not very good.

The final result was fabulous. A savory bread, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

This bread paired so well with the pasta dinner I made that evening. It also works great sliced in half for sandwich bread. I shared a few pieces with my friend and condo neighbor who sliced it and used it for toast.

I will definily be making this bread again and I highly encourage you to try Natasha’s recipe, it is worth the time it takes to make it!! Up next month, tortillas!

Now back to that beach….

Oatmeal Bread

One of my goals this year is to make more bread. I love to make bread! I love the process, the smell of the bread cooking and of course the eating of a warm loaf. Making homemade bread always makes me think of my mom who made a loaf of bread, hot rolls or cinnamon rolls every week without a recipe.

She must have had a recipe in her head, but I never saw her use one and I do not ever remember her bread coming out less than perfect, at least from my young perspective. When I was older and had my own young family, making bread was not something on my busy agenda so I missed the opportunity of learning from my mom.

I have attempted many bread recipes over the years, some successful and some not so much. I have learned a few things in my journey, but I still have so much to learn. This year I want to work on that skillset and try new recipes. With that in the back of my mind, I ran across a bread making challenge from www.Littlefarmfolk.com that provided some inspiration and suggestions for a different type of bread each month. This month’s suggestion was sandwich bread, so I went to my bread baking source, King Arthur Baking, and the first recipe I came across was their Back-of-the-Bag Oatmeal Recipe.

This loaf looks way more difficult than it is. In fact, it does not call for a specific temperature of liquid or to even proof the yeast, it just says to mix all the ingredients together. I have to admit that I did use milk heated to 110 degrees and added the recipe’s sweetener, honey, to the yeast for proofing. Since I have started proofing yeast, I have not had a bread failure so I will continue to do that in my bread baking.

This bread taste yummy and is perfect for making sandwiches and toast. It is very soft, almost too soft for me. I tend to like my bread sturdy and chewy. However, I think I accomplished my goal for sandwich bread for this month of January.

Stephenson’s Apple Fritter Recipe and more

I have written before about my love for the old Stephenson’s Apple Orchard and Restaurant which closed several years ago. You can read about that here. Thanks to a friend I found a new apple orchard that I also love, Johnson Farms in Belton, Missouri. They are much more than an apple orchard, and are now my official supplier of mums, pumpkins and many varieties of apples.

A couple of weeks ago Kayla, Dave and I took five of the grandkids to pick apples on the opening day of the orchard! On that particular day only Gala apples were available but you can be sure I will be back soon for their Honey Crisp variety.

The kids had a blast and we picked two flats in record time. It even started raining on us but that did not damper the spirit of the kids at all!

With the flat I brought home I made two apple pies.

I also made cinnamon apple sauce which according to Dave was the best he had ever eaten. I am making a second batch as I write this with the last of the apples. I sure wish you could smell the aroma in my house right now. Holy cow it smells gooooood!

So easy to make and freezes well also.

However, the best of all the apple recipes I have made in the last two weeks was the Stephenson’s Apple Fritters.

And yes, I am deep frying these on the grill. We also make bacon on the grill to keep the mess and smell out of the house!

This recipe comes from a cookbook I purchased in their restaurant probably thirty or more years ago. I highly recommend you try it; you will not be disappointed.

Copy right 1967 Stephenson’s Apple Farm Restaurant

Let me know if you try these and how you like them!

Little Ducklings Quilt

In a just under one week we will be welcoming grandbaby number 8! We are so blessed to have so many little one’s in our family. As soon as I found out the baby was going to be a boy, I begin thinking about the quilt I would make for him.

About two years ago I ran across the cutest fabric at KCMakersStudio. Yes, I am one of those people who buy fabric just because I like it and not necessarily because I have a use for it. I am definitely a lover of fabric. This particular fabric was cut into a jelly roll which is a pre-cut bundle 2 1/2″ wide that typically highlights most or all of the fabrics in a particular design line. This bundle was Little Ducklings by Paper + Cloth for Moda fabrics and was absolutely adorable.

Just take a close look at a few of these fabrics.

At one point in the past, I had seen a pre-made quilt that was perfect to make from a jelly roll but of course I could not remember where I had seen it. I do this all the time! I really need to start saving pictures and writing down quilts I run across that I love. I searched several sources including Pinterest and Etsy, as well as googled patterns for jelly roll quilts. Still not finding what I was looking for, I got out my graph paper and created my own pattern. Pattern is probably too strong of a word to use in this instance. It is more like a guide, or a way for me to think through the construction prior to cutting out the fabric.

Once I had a map in my head of the process, I started cutting out all the pieces.

Then I pieced together all the squares.

After I assembled all the blocks into rows, I added three borders, two solid and one pieced. Now my quilt top was complete.

I recently purchased an ironing mat that is 32″x55″ that can be used on a counter, cabinet or table to provide additional pressing space. It was great to be able to lay out this quilt and press much larger sections than an ironing board would provide. Pressing is not my favorite step in making a quilt so anything that makes the process easier is a winner in my book.

Once the top was ironed, I layered the backing, batting and quilt top using Hobbs Heirloom Fusible 100% Cotton batting.

This is the first time I have tried using this batting which is fusible on both sides and eliminates the need to pin or baste the layers together. Once the layers are in place all you need to do is press the quilt. The quilting mat again was extremely useful especially for this size of a quilt.

I chose a simple diagonal line quilting pattern. I wanted to make sure the diagonal lines met in the center of each square so I laid out my quilting lines with tape to use as a guide.

I love this fabric so much that I ordered a few extra yards to use as the backing and binding for the quilt. I love how the striped fabric finished it off.

I am so excited to meet our new grandson, I sure hope he likes it!

Halloween Quilt

Although I am a huge lover of fall, especially the month of October, Halloween has never been a favorite day of mine. I think it goes back to the days when my girls were little, having spent a hard day at work, then needing to rush home (in the dark no less) trying to get something that resembled dinner into my family’s mouths before the big trick or treating event. There is also just something about sending your kids to strangers houses to beg for candy that does not sit well with me!

Now that I have more time on my hands I do enjoy seeing all the littles in their Halloween costumes and have actually started a tradition of having a small Halloween party for my grandkids. However, making a Halloween quilt was never on my long list of quilts to be made.

All that changed when I saw a kit for sale at KCMakerStudio that consisted of the Rana Heredia’s pattern Low Tide and the Moda Holiday Halloween fabric. I was smitten. Just take a look at a few of the fabrics in this collection. They are so darn cute….

Pretty sure those kitten faces sealed the deal for me!

The pattern is a clean line, sewn with a traditional strip construction. Although straight-forward, accuracy is essential with this pattern, many of the cuts are down to 1/8th of an inch. A definite challenge for me.

It is a nice lap size quilt, about 45×55 inches. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Two pre-cut fabric quilts and my favorite quilt so far.

Last January I discovered a new quilt shop here in Kansas City, KC Maker Studio, that was having on-line quilt classes during the pandemic. The series of classes available on Saturday mornings introduced the different types of pre-cut fabrics and patterns that could be used with them. For a nominal fee, I was provided with a new quilt pattern, directions for cutting and piecing the pre-cut fabric, and a forum for asking questions and working through issues.

The first month’s class focused on Layer Cakes, which are 10″ square cuts of fabric. We were provided with the Disappearing 4-Patch Pattern. Like any good quilter I just happened to have a layer cake packet in my stash that I had bought several years ago with no particular project in mind, I just loved the fabric. Unfortunately I do not remember the brand or the fabric line. I added solid black and white fabric to the layer cake selections and the quilt top went together quickly.

I have been working through Christa Watson’s 99 Machine Quilting Designs book and choose the Single Wavy Lines for a quilting pattern. I loved how easy and fast the quilting was.

For each of her designs, Christa provides a stitched sample, a stitching diagram along with a description and tips/tricks. This particular pattern uses a walking foot. I have not yet tried any of the free-motion designs.

In February, the class worked with Jelly Rolls, which are Moda fabrics 2 1/2″ by 42″ strips of a fabric collection. I purchased a Sophie Jelly Roll on-line from KC Maker Studio and when I received it I just fell in love with all the fabric. It is a delicious collection of vintage florals along with a few ginghams in greens, pinks, grey and even red.

The pattern we used is called Sweet Love by Villa Rosa Designs. Besides the Sophie jelly roll, I used some green dot fabric for the background from my stash. As I was piecing the fabric I knew I needed to select one of the fabrics from the collection to use as backing and binding for this quilt since I loved it so much. It took me a couple of weeks to piece the top and decide on the layout.

It was difficult to pick just one of the gorgeous fabrics in the collection for the backing but I eventually settled on Cobblestone which is a grey background with delicate pink florals.

One thing I learned is that pre-cuts of a new collection typically hit the stores first and then yardage follows some time later. It took six weeks for my order to arrive but when it did, I immediately started the process of quilting and binding. For the quilting design I again turned to Christa Watson’s 99 Machine Quilting Designs book and choose the Wavy Grid as a quilting pattern. It built on the Single Wavy line design I used for my last quilt.

The quilting went far more quickly than any I have done before. I am sure I will use this pattern over again!

What I loved about using pre-cuts is that the cutting process is faster and cutting is not my favorite step in the process of making a quilt. It also allows you to use pre-coordinated fabrics from a single collection. Pre-cuts also optimizes the amount of fabric that is used although my stash collection always likes leftovers!

The KCMakerStudio classes were a perfect introduction for me into pre-cuts and using patterns I may have not chosen for myself. I am pretty sure this Sophie quilt is my most favorite to date……at least until I make my next one!!

Stephenson’s Apple Farm

Every year at this time I patiently wait for Stephenson’s Apple Cider to show up in my local grocery store. There are several other brands that appear weeks before Stephenson’s but I never purchase anything else. For me, Stephenson’s is the thread that runs through my years of fall activities and holidays.

Hot mugs of cider are always present on cold fall evenings in this house and a favorite thing to offer guest throughout the season. It would not be Christmas Eve without a pot of cider warming on the stovetop fortified with orange and apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

When I was growing up we often traveled to Lexington, MO to visit my grandmother and from our house Stephenson’s Apple Farm Restaurant in Independence, MO, was directly on the path traveled. Invariably, my parents would stop on the way either to or from Lexington to enjoy lunch or dinner.


Having a working mom, we were no strangers to eating out but there are no other restaurants I can remember with such clarity. From my young eyes Stephenson’s was a “fancy” restaurant that included candle-lit tables with white tablecloths and dim lighting.


Due to it’s popularity there was often a wait to be seated at a table. This never proved to be a problem because while waiting you could serve yourself ice cold apple cider in a little white paper cup. No one limited themselves to just one cup.

The food served at Stephenson’s became folklore in my family, the green rice casserole, the melt-in-your-mouth brisket, and even the side salad served with a little horn of cheese garnish. Yet, the best thing on the menu was the hot apple fritters covered with powdered sugar that would be delivered to the tables throughout the meal. As an adult I have attempted to make those fritters on multiple occasions but they never measure up to those I remember.

I continued going to Stephenson’s Restaurant on a regular basis with my own family for years. Each fall we would gather up the kids and go to the apple orchard to pick our own apples bringing home more pounds than we could ever eat. One year the orchard closed permanently for pick-your-own apples but there was still a small farm stand next to the restaurant where you could appease the craving for Stephenson’s apples. Sadly the restaurant closed in 2007 after being in business for sixty years.

It was said that Stephenson’s was President Truman’s favorite hometown restaurant. Another story I love was when Bess Truman brought her bridge club to the restaurant and they ordered punch with their lunch, Bess added, “Let’s have it with a little authority.” The adult drink was soon added to the restaurant menu and called wine punch.

I know some day Stephenson’s apple cider will not show up in my grocery store because each year the volume available becomes less and less. However, until then I will continue to sip this cider and cherish all the special memories each mug brings to mind.

Texas Flag Quilt

My first grandson who just turned seven is a born and bred Texan.  Besides his two bicycles and legos, he loves his cowboy boots, goes to the Rodeo each year and has even participated in a mutton busting event.  Several months ago Levi told me his baby blanket that I made for him was too small and he needed a bigger quilt.  You can see the first quilt I made him here.  He also requested red since that is his favorite color. After thinking about designs for awhile I decided to make him a Texas Flag replica.  As quilts go, this is a pretty easy design, three large blocks of a solid color and a star.

The star is where the challenge came in.  I needed a big star and could not find a pattern that worked well.  I ended up making my own pattern using pieced together wrapping paper.  For my first attempt at the star I  cut out one large piece and machine appliqued it to the navy background.  I was not at all happy with the way it turned out.  There was too much puckering and the points on the star did not come out well.  For the second attempt I tried to piece the star together along with a few sections of navy material to get one large square block.  This was better but I still was not happy with how the star tips turned out.  On my third and final attempt, I just recreated the pieced square block but really worked on getting the points corrected.  It certainly is not perfect but it works.

I did the machine quilting in three sections using one inch masking tape to create sewing lines.  This quilt is large, a little bigger than queen size.  Even quilting in sections was challenging on my home sewing machine since the quilt was so large and bulky.  It sure made me dream of a long arm quilting machine…….maybe someday!

When it came time to bind the quilt I debated if I should use the navy, red or white fabric as binding.  I decided to try and use binding that matched each section of the quilt.  I had never done this before so was not sure how it would work but I really like the results.


I already have at least four more quilts lined up to make…….plus I just found out I am having a new grandbaby so make that 5!


Air Fryer Attempts: Potato Chips and Donuts

My sister and her husband love their air fryer so much that they upgraded to a bigger model and lent me their original one to try out for myself.  We have made pork chops, onion rings, fish and a few other things.  Most have been pretty good.  The air fryer does a great job on items that should be crispy on the outside, blowing hot air around like a convection oven does.


I came across a recipe for Air-Fryer Potato Chips at Taste of Home that looked very easy so I decided to give it a try.  First I made a batch of french onion dip because you simply cannot eat potato chips without it!

The recipe for the potato chips is super simple, slice potatoes very thin, soak in ice water, dry potato slices, then cook them in a single layer in the air fryer.

Next thing you know Dave and I were enjoying Happy Hour!


The chips were good and definitely crispy but a little thick for me.  I did use a mandolin slicer but next time will try to adjust it to create thinner slices.  On the other hand, the french onion dip was delightful!!!

When I was telling my girl gang about the potato chips on our twice weekly ZOOM call, Julie mentioned she had seen an Air-Fryer donut recipe I should try.  Loving donuts like I do, and feeling confident from my potato chip experiment I figured I couldn’t lose.  Silly me!

The first issue I had was that the recipe I used from The Kitchn for Easy Air Fryer Donuts called for Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Biscuits.  These are the premium in the canned biscuit world.  I should have known before I made the trip to the store during these days of empty shelves they might be low on these.  What I found was that there was not a Pillsbury baking product left on the shelves.  I had to settle for the store’s brand of biscuits that were small, flat and misshapen right out of the can.  I went ahead with the recipe anyway, cut out the holes and placed them in the Air-Fryer.


The recipe calls for cooking them 5-6 minutes and turning half way through.  Once they were done I rolled half in cinnamon sugar and glazed the other half.

The first few I made were not just crispy but hard so I adjusted the cooking time.  I also tried putting two of the biscuits together to get a thicker donut but this just resulted in a chewy donut…..basically a glazed biscuit.  When eating them warm they were ok  but I would hesitate to call them good.  I wonder if using the better quality Pillsbury biscuits or even making homemade biscuit dough would make them better?

I have used the Air-Fryer enough to discover a couple of things with at least the model/brand I am using.  First, setting the temperature is tricky……there is a wheel with temperature numbers on it but no real indicator of what temperature you are selecting.  Additionally, the timer is just another wheel to turn that is not very precise for selecting time.  Since the machine turns off when you pull out the basket, for making these donuts I turned the wheel to the ten minute range but used Alexa to set an actual timer.  Having a digital display of temperature and timer is probably available on upgraded models and what I would look for if I actually buy one myself.

I have not decided if I am going to try and make the donuts again, never say never, but I do know that for a mere $1 each I can always get one of these at Hy_Vee.

Let me know if you have ever made donuts in your Air-Fryer and how they turned out!