Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween and the End of October!

Happy HALLOWEEN and the end of October!

This is a very special post.  Last month I vowed I would start October's blog post earlier in the month but as usual life got in the way.  I'm getting it out tonight no matter what so it's all good.

September 24th I went to a quilt/craft retreat at The Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, CT.  It was one of the most wonderful long weekends I've ever had.  The Incarnation Center is set on a beautiful picturesque piece of land.  It's a very spiritual place and well known for many types of retreats.  Sue arranged the whole long weekend with Marianne's (former owner of Quadrille Quilting) help.

As you drive up the long driveway you see a big sprawling lodge.  

There are several wings to the lodge and then lots of smaller buildings surrounding it.  This is the fire pit where at night people gather to make s'mores by the fire.  We lucked out with the most beautiful warm weekend. 

As you walk into the lodge this prayer greets you.

Here's the big room where we all worked on our projects.  We had sooo much fun!  I couldn't get a photo of everyone at their tables because we all flit around all weekend in and out of the lodge and talking to everyone.  

Our rooms were off this "dorm like" hallway.

Here's my room.  Sue was next door and Ellen was across the hall.

And here's my room!!  This little room may not look like much and certainly not like the hotel rooms we're all used to but it was the cozy, warm and safest feeling room I've ever stayed in.  By the end of our stay I didn't want to leave it.  I made a mental note to clean out my bedroom and every other room I've junked up and simplify my life.  Have I done it?  Stay tuned!

Surprisingly the bathrooms were beautiful and updated.  With all the ladies on the premises that weekend I rarely saw anyone except Nancy in the morning!!

So all weekend we worked on all of our treasures.  No housework, no shopping, no cooking.  NO NOTHING BUT FUN!  What a freeing experience.  We could go to bed whenever we wanted and wake up and not have a single thing to do except play!  This is Ellen's quilt.  It's beautiful and she got so much done on it!

Yes, we made a package store and chips/candy run before we got to the retreat!!  This is Barb's glass of wine sitting on Cathi's handmade coasters!

Cathi was a busy bee that weekend.  She was working on this applique cat and

this wreath.  Cathi is so funny.  She said she was going to get up in the middle of the night and work on something and she did!

Barb made these beautiful kitty totes.  I have one on order!  She was making them for an animal fundraiser.

She wore a different beautiful dress she made every day!

Here's Donna's beautiful quilt blocks.  We always had our snacks within reach!

Sue was working on her Irish Chain quilt.  

Here's Marianne's beautiful Grandma's Flower garden quilt.  Just amazing!!

Nancy is a terrific sewer and she makes the most gorgeous outfits.  This is a jacket and scarf she was working one.

There were all kinds of crafters at this retreat and spinners.

  Here's our wonderful private chef Tim!!  He made whatever we wanted and if he didn't have it he went to the store first thing in the morning and bought it for us! 

 Sat. night we had raffles and door prizes.  Sue bought the most amazing things for this retreat.  I never win anything and I even won a gift basket!!!

Maryse won something too!!

And we celebrated Cathi's birthday with a cake!

  Sunday morning I went for a walk all around the property and came to the Chapel. 

This is like a big sports complex.  In the summer this is a well known summer camp destination.

This is a little maple syrup shack. 

My walk took me past the petting zoo.  I loved watching these adorable friendly animals!

This pig made one lap around the fenced-in area and then went back to his little house and just laid down, closed his eyes and slept like a baby.

I wish I had food to feel this little guy.

Sunday afternoon after we packed up and started to head out we had one more area on this property to see.  It was the lake!

This part of the Center was the most beautiful.  

You would never believe this beautiful beach was there!

We felt like we were on a tropical island.

It was so tranquil and

quiet and peaceful!

If you've never been on a retreat before PLEASE go to one.  The experience we had was so profound we are still talking about it.  The best part of a retreat is it can be a getaway for anything.  It's a place where when you're there you lose track of the daily routine of normal life.  And that enables your mind to be free to focus on other things. There were AA people there, a church group and a couple's retreat all staying harmoniously on the property.  We only saw them in the dining room for meals and occasionally walking around outside.

That Sunday morning I met this handsome guy and we had quite a talk.  I told him a lot of things that were on my mind.  He planted himself in that stance and listened to my every word.  I was as mesmerized by him as he was by me.

When I was done talking he moved as close he could to me and gave me a big smile as if to say he enjoyed our talk.  I hope to see him again.  He was quite the guy.

Thanks for allowing me to share my experience of going on a retreat.  I can't wait to do it again.  This could just be one of my favorite vacations.  This was a very different kind of vacation for me.  For the first time in my 27 years of married life I was away without my family.  It was an empowering and enlightening weekend.  I know that material possessions don't mean anything really in this life.  Yes, they're nice to have but the simplicity of a weekend like this really drives home the fact that sometimes the simplest pleasures in life are nature, peace and love.  Leave the Marriott and Hilton's at home and go find a place where you'll find happiness surrounded by very little. You will come away just a little bit changed for the better!

See you next month!   

Monday, September 26, 2016

September, 2016

September 2016

My favorite season is Fall.  The weather is just starting to get cool.  I've put away my white clothes which means now we'll get another heat spell!

I've been really busy and will blog a fantastic experience I just came back from next month.  I need some time to digest it all before I post about it.

Hope this wasn't the last lobster roll of the season but pumpkin everything is calling me now!!

Here are some of the things I've been working on since we last visited.  And YES more Atlas stuff!  He now has a little placemat for his water and food.  Sue is the most generous friend I've ever met.  She will give you anything she has.  She had this adorable kitty fabric in her stash and didn't bat an eye when she handed it to me.

Here's the pattern Cathi lent Sue and Sue lent me!  Enlarge it to whatever you size you like.

Here's another photo of the gorgeous little guy that all the fuss is about.  He's the cutest little thing and just gets sassier and more fresh every time we see him.  Jessi, Kristen and I think that's all part of why we can't get enough of him.  I hope he always stays a kitty because now is the most fun I fear we'll have with him.  After a few years I hope he just doesn't sleep everywhere all the time.

So I had more left over kitty fabric and decided to make him a little quilt so he can play on it.  Susan and Luke say he's on it all the time which encourages me to make more things for him.

Here's his little quilt label without the label...

Sewing for Atlas isn't the only thing I've been doing.  A few weeks ago I decided I had to bake something with pumpkin.  I went through my Cakes, Pies and Tarts board on my Pinterest and found this delicious cake.  This was easy and fantastic for Fall.  This cake rose sooo high I couldn't believe it!!  Would I make it again?  YES!!!!!!!!!!



  1. Cake:
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 cup canola oil
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
    • 3/4 cup raisins
    • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut plus additional for garnish
  2. Frosting:
    • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
    • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon dark rum
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
    • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)


  1. For cake:
    1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporated. Stir in raisins and 3/4 cup coconut. Divide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.
    2. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper. Turn cakes over, rounded side up. Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops of cakes to level.
  2. For frosting:
    1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread). Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, flat side down, on platter. Spread half of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting over top (not sides) of cake. Sprinkle additional coconut over. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
    2. Cut cake into wedges and serve.
    1. It's better to underbeat the frosting than overbeat it. That bit of restraint makes for a slightly firmer frosting that's easier to spread.
This is what's next for Atlas!!  I still had more kitty fabric left!!  Soon I'm going to start making Susan and Luke a flannel quilt and I'll make sure to have leftovers for Atlas!!

Found this the other day - it will be something!!

Promise - no more Atlas stuff unless I make something so adorable I have to share it!!

I fell in love with this vintage looking 1930's lap quilt a few weeks ago when I went with Sue and Anne to Yankee Quilter and decided I have to make it.  

I got most of it cut out and now I'm waiting for more yellow from E-bay before I can cut out the 4 corner triangles.  Once again the yellow came from Sue.  She's making the same quilt but gave me her yellow border fabric.  Imagine that - I would never in a million years do that for anyone-even my kids!!  But as always she just gave it to me and said she has the same fabric in a few other colors and wasn't worried about it at all!!

I hope to get this BOO CAT kit from Yankee Cloth finished by Halloween.  I bought it a few years ago and of course never started it.  Luckily I did get it traced so the hard part is over.

Finally, I have a big fluffy bunny who has been hanging around the side of my garage for a very long time now.  This bunny is soooo friendly he doesn't even move when people are around.  Every time I have veggies or fruit that isn't edible I put it outside for my bunny.  It takes him a while but he always comes for dinner!  Last time I bought organic celery it was spotty in places.  I was going to take it back but then I remembered my bunny might be hungry so out it went.  This is what we caught on camera.  I thought there was going to be a war between this squirrel and my bunny.  The squirrel went right up to Ms. bunny and they kind of wrestled for an instant and then they separated and each munched away for so long I finally left before they finished.  It was the most beautiful sight to see these two little guys getting along side by side eating their dinner.  

See you next month with a really interesting post!!  Thanks for visiting and see you soon!!!