Mystical Avalon

” Come, she said. “You wanted to see if the view was as you remembered…

She led him from the ring stones and they looked out over the Lake. Bright water, rippling softly in the sunlight, stretched all around the Island; far below, a little boat, no larger at this height than a fish leaping, streaked the surface. Other islands, indistinct in the mist, rose as dim shapes, blurred by distance and by the magical veil which removed Avalon from the world.

” Not very far from here, ” he said, “there is an old fairy fort at the top of a hill, and the view from the wall is such that standing there, a man can see the Tor, and the Lake, and there is an island which is like the shape of a coiled dragon…” He gestured with his hand.

” I know the place, ” Morgaine said. “It is on one of the old magical lines of power which crisscross the earth; I was brought there once to feel the earth powers there. The fairy people knew those things…I can sense them a little, feel the earth and the air tingling. ”  __Marion Zimmer Bradley in The Mists of Avalon



The BBC interpretation of the Isle of the Blessed, which is usually associated with Avalon.


From Glastonbury Abbey’s site :  ” In the beginning, when the legends of mystical Avalon began, Glastonbury, a small town in Somerset, cradled in a cluster of hills in the south of England, was thought to have been a site for pre-Christian worship.

A powerful natural phenomenon, visible from many miles away yet imperceptible from nearby, the highest of these hills, the 500-foot Glastonbury Tor, rising sheer from the Somerset levels has inspired spiritual speculation.


Glastobury Tor, showing the church on the summit and the processional way.


Was Avalon a centre for ley-lines – routes of spiritual energy? Around the sides of the Tor is a strange system of terracing. Much weathered and eroded, but still well-defined, it has been interpreted as a maze following an ancient magical pattern. If the maze on the Tor is real, human labour formed it four or five thousand years ago, during the period of the vast ritual works that created Stonehenge. ”



I read “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley many years ago. I began re-reading it early in the summer…put it aside for some other reading and recently picked it back up again. I’d forgotten so much of it, in regards to what happened from the middle of the book on, that it was like a new reading.  It’s an amazing and powerful book. It can most likely be found in your local library or in the used books section on Amazon. It depends on your tastes.. this is a book set in the days of King Arthur.

You might also enjoy I Highly Recommend “The Hundred Foot Journey” Movie  or Books & BBC Series

Stitching, Fall Decor, Ice Cream & More

Chocolate ice cream with a caramel coconut swirl and brownie pieces….oh, when Edy’s brings out these limited editions it is wonderful but they are only available for a short time.

Edys ltd edition

What’s that have to do with stitching? Well the color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is brown, which might sound dull, unless you think of brown as chocolate :)

I found a few more browns around the house…

browns around the house collage

  • For the Scrap Challenge, here is an orange orange peel sliding in from September’s color, orange.
  • I recently started making some spool blocks. I wanted to do something with predominantly reds, but also some blacks and browns…so I sewed three brown ones this week.
  • A friend had sent me a lot of fabric scraps (  HERE ) and I was happy to use the funny brown kitties for a granny block.
  • I sewed an HST block in browns and hope to do more later in the month.
  • I also had recently started cutting out pieces for hour glass blocks, that will be used in a quilt border down the line. Since some of them are brown toned, I sewed a few of them together as well.

browns collage

As to  Sunday Slow Stitching over at Kathy’s,  I want to finish up this block…there are a few leaves, a rosebud, and half of a flower to sew down yet.

rose applique block almost done

Then if you read this blog regularly, you know that I greatly enjoy hand-quilting out on my front porch. I may yet get to do so if we have a warm-up this fall for a bit, but the cooler temps have arrived. I don’t bring out fall decor until it feels like fall, and it certainly does now. The other push to do so was that I’d told my DIL that I had so much that I’d give half of it to her….well she was ready!  So two bags went to her, I put out what was left of mine, changed out all my pillow covers, and it’s back to quilting indoors now. Ready to move the hoop…

quilting moved indoors early Oct

Outdoors, all of my flowers are still hanging on…there’s no danger of frost yet. But indoors it was time to get the fall on. My youngest son is to come over this weekend and take out my window A/C units…Saturday morning’s temperature was 43 degrees.

decor collage

Last of all, in regards to fall, my Pee Gee Hydrangea which initially blooms white, turns to deep pink hues when fall really arrives. I will be cutting many of these soon, filling a container and storing them in my basement to dry. Once Fall is over, and Christmas is over, I’ll be bringing them up to decorate the house in Jan / February : )

pee gee hydrangea

Well, it’s a great weekend for stitching….chilly, windy and rainy is the forecast here in southwestern PA.

You might also enjoy : Lily Goes to the Beauty Parlor  or ODE TO FALL 

Sharing at: So Scrappy / Kathy’s Quilts / Sew Many Ways


The Herr House : Built in 1719

I have some Andrew Wyeth prints in my home and came across a book in the library about the Herr House.

herr house collage

This Mennonite home was built in 1719 by Christian Herr, a distant relative of Andrew Wyeth the painter, who visited the home on several occasions to make sketches and watercolors.

Andrew Wyeth : the Herr House

Andrew Wyeth : the Herr House


The Mennonites came from the initial Anabaptist movement in Europe, and ” Historians generally agree that the original Mennonite settlers of Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania  were ethinically Swiss. Documents from William Penn’s government specifically refer to the Mennonites as “Swissers”.

Christian Herr’s family and community settled in what was then called the Conestogo area, named after the Conestogo Indians. Temporary shelters of tents and crude cabins were built at first, then log homes “reflecting Germanic styles from the immigrant’s past.”

Christian Herr built such a cabin and then later on,  built his stone house.

“The Mennonites and Conestogos not only tolerated each other but cooperated.  When the winters became cold, the Indians would take shelter and sleep side by side “of  a genial fire”.   The Indians might supply the settlers with fish or venison which they’d trade for bread.”

The book that I quoted  from is “A Modest Mennonite Home” by Steve Friesen, with an introduction by Andrew Wyeth, and photographs by John Herr, who played in the Herr House ( then deserted ) during visits to his grandfather, Elvin Herr.  The Herr House was eventually restored and the author, Steve Friesen, was the director of the Hans Herr House at the time of this book’s publication. It is a small book but holds a wealth of history on the Anabaptists, the Mennonites, William Penn and Pennsylvania, if you are interested in that history and can find the book in your local library or online.

Other than that, I thought that you might enjoy some of the photos of the house. I took these out on my front porch and have had to sharpen / enhance a few so that you could read the captions a bit better but I’ve not altered them very much :)

Herr House bedroom

Herr House Bible

Herr House Cellar with fruits and vegetables

Herr House Five Plate Stove

Herr house general photo

Herr House Kitchen View

Herr House second attic

Herr House Steps to the Attic

Herr House Swiss corner cupboard holds communion cups etc

As a quilter, I enjoyed finding this online to complete this post :





You might also enjoy:   Puttin’ Up & Eatin’ Food in Days Gone By  or  Baskets & Laura Ingalls Wilder Here  or  Red & Green Applique Quilts

Sharing at : Common Ground / French Country Cottage

End of September


cosmos against end of sept sky

Towards the end of September, and just entering into the fall season, much of the beauty of summer lingers on here.

Cooler mornings…but generally not needing a heavy jacket before school yet…( FB phone pic of my grandson  at the bus stop courtesy of my DIL )

brent ready for school cropped


And the pool is still open!

sparrow in birdbath

I recently finished up a quilt that I intended to give to my mom for Christmas. When my little grandson and I went out there this past weekend I gave it to her early.  HE wanted to give it to her so rather than wrap it, we folded it up and put it into a white garbage bag…..she had no clue, thinking that it was probably some school project or something :)  Here he is posing with it in her rocking chair, redoing her fall decor, and here is a view of the farmers’ fields below her property.

brent at great grandma's

Back home again : in a previous post I mentioned that the hyacinth bean vine was coming into bloom again…more have blossomed and a rose or two has returned. Nasturtiums, yarrow and russian sage are still going strong.

flower collage 2

While I do love fall, I hope that its colder temperatures hold off for awhile as I want to enjoy all of these dahlias that have just started blooming recently.

flower collage sept 25

New zinnias are blooming now as well. The tomatoes are still producing, though less and less and they are smaller now. Still, these “Early Girl” plants have never let up once they started and are a winner with me.  While I don’t like the job of trimming it, the barberry bush is always a beauty to watch with its subtle changes throughout the seasons.

zinnias tomatoes barberry

Speaking of trimming, there’s lots of yard work still in the picture before the colder temperatures arrive.  I have started trimming a few bushes here and there.  We have been in a bit of a drought lately with sporadic rainfall, so the latest mowing that I did was a quick one with the reel mower versus dragging the gas powered one out.

reel mower etc

“Just don’t trim this russian sage spilling all over your sidewalk until we bees are done with it! ”

bee on salvia

I don’t purchase mums when they first go on sale in August.  If I did, they’d be done by now. I wait until close to October and at that point, there is usually a good sale on them. The local grocery store often has a 2-day sale with specials throughout the store. One of the specials were mums for 2.99.  I looked for ones that were not in full bloom yet…those are the best if you want them to last throughout the fall season.  This little garden cart / wheelbarrow that I picked up for 20.00 at a thrift sale has gotten many a compliment from the neighbors and passers-by.  I removed 2 pots where the marigolds were breathing their last and replaced them with the mums.

garden cart with mums

One last photo….the sedum in the photo above has deepened to such a rich hue this year. I don’t recall it ever being quite this vibrant. Generally both of them remain a pretty salmon shade, like this one in the back of the house. I am not complaining though…I just love it. I attribute everything that’s been different this year to the strange weather and this is no exception.

sedum and grasses in the back

“I trust in Nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility.  Spring shall plant and Autumn garner to the ends of time.”
–   Robert Browning

You might also enjoy: End of Summer Garden / Yard Tour  or  Grandmothers Embroidery

Sharing at : Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / French Country Cottage / Sew Many Ways


Flower Basket Medallion Quilt Round One

When I first posted about seeing this flower basket medallion ( HERE ) I had ordered and received the pattern but was considering using a Kim Diehl block for the center, because it’s a block that I really liked and it would work wonderfully with the color scheme that I was thinking about.

In the end I decided to use the pattern’s medallion. What was I going to call this if I didn’t? Kim Mclean’s Flower Basket Medallion without the Basket? Or the Two Kims Medallion? :)

So I opened the pattern up and oh my, there are so many leaves and little berries…bazillions of them, it seemed.  ” Don’t think about that now.”   In looking at the pattern I realized that I really didn’t know how to make this basket.

Basket part of pattern

Maybe I could name the quilt “I’m a basket-case? “

“Go find that Jeanne Sullivan applique book.”    Right!  Surely Jeanne’s got a basket in there just like this! Nope, she didn’t but I decided to just follow one of her ways to create stems/ bias. I traced the pattern lines onto freezer paper and then added second lines with my clear 1/4 inch marker.  I ironed two sheets of freezer paper together and cut out my stems, (in this case the lattice of the basket ) ironed the templates on to fabric, then finished the final prep with starch.

freezer paper for lattice

I found that if I got these really pressed well with the starch, then I could rip the paper out quickly and just as quickly re-press and it would all hold.

First round pinned and ready to applique.

lattice pinned

Originally I thought that I’d start on the first border while I decided about the center but when I decided on Kim McLean’s center I started it quickly, lest I talk myself out of it.  Because of all of those leaves and berries, you see :)  “Don’t think about those leaves now…just concentrate on the basket. You’ll learn something new. ”  Yes, I’ll learn that I don’t ever want to make another lattice basket after this one.

More….by now I was wearing a wrist brace on the right hand…my wrist and thumbs will rebel sometimes…I did decide to make the sides of the basket 1/2 inch bias versus 1/4 inch.

working more on lattice basket

I suppose that the main goal in my mind was to have this center set up for the winter : Basket in place, guidelines and center markings on the fabric, and stems in place. Once that was accomplished I could return to existing projects, enjoy the start of the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Quilt Sew Along in October, and return to this here and there.

Without a lightbox or any sort of similar setup, I did manage to mark basket and stem lines and a few other guides on to my center 34 inch square piece of fabric when the sun was pouring into the dining room one day. And in the end, when the basket was finished, it was a good 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch smaller than the original…that is how much applique can shrink from all of the sewing! And at that point did I care? NO! :)  I was just glad to have the basket done and I was sure that the sun would still rise the next morning.  I just put it into the middle and sewed it all down.

For Slow Stitching Sunday, I want to finish the basket handles and this first round of stems. If you are unfamiliar with applique, any applique that I have worked on thus far has a leaf fitting under the stem. So you can’t just stitch an entire stem down…you stitch so far, then stick the leaf under, stitch some more, stick another leaf under, and so on.

With this pattern, I can concentrate on all of the stems first, and then return to the leaves and berries later on : see how they are floating apart from the stems:

leaves and berries not attached

Referencing the photo below,  ( and I didn’t notice the breeze was curling some of it up until now ) the stem on the left is sewn down on one side to anchor it, and needs the rest of it sewn. The basket handles and other stems are just glued and pinned in place. There are more stems to this, but I have not gotten that far.

basket and stems thus far

When I finish these, I will most likely fold this up and put it away for awhile, and return to other projects. For one thing, I have not hand quilted for a week….this was all that I did, and once this portion is completed I need a little break from applique :)

You might also enjoy : From the Kitchen : Hopple Popple   or  More Old Photos From the 1900’s

Sharing at : Kathy’s Quilts / Cozy Little House / Freemotion by the River / Savvy Southern Style/ Freshly Pieced / Sew Fresh Quilts / Sew Many Ways

A Fabric Surprise for Kanga the Cat

Kanga was having a snooze next to Jugsy in the late September sun.

Sometimes she’ll wash his face and ears before cuddling up….

kanga and jugsy kanga and jugsy 2

Perhaps she was dreaming about the little birds that she often watches from the window.

bird on wire in kangas dream

Another favorite activity of hers is seeing what I am up to…especially if it involves cloth of some sort on the table. So she was very curious when I received a box of fabric today.  Judy, my friend at New England Garden and Thread, had wondered if I could use some scraps in applique, English paper piecing and such. I’d expected an envelope of a few pretty little scraps to arrive, but a large box came with a huge assortment of fabric in every color and style!

Best of all, there was fabric for Kanga! Yes, her very own cat fabric.  She was quite pleased with it as you can see!

kanga and fabric

“Judy thank you so much for thinking of ME!

XO XO XO, Love, Kanga

Kanga thanks Judy


You might also enjoy :  Make a Small Batch of Jam

Sharing at : Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / Sew Many Ways

ugly duckling

Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Ugly Duckling” is one that we are all familiar with.

“For the last two centuries “The Ugly Duckling” has been one of the few stories to encourage successive generations of ‘outsiders’ to hold on till they find their own.

It is a psychological and spiritual root story. A root story is one that contains a truth so fundamental to human development…”

The problem of the exiled one is primeval. Many fairy tales and myths center around the theme of the outcast.

“In the case of the Ugly Duckling, the tale is the “exile of the unmatched child”.

There are so many examples of this. How many times a child might have heard “why can’t you be more like your brother / sister?”   Or a child is a loner, and introvert, finding it hard to make friends or fit in with the other children at school.   A child is artistic and the rest of the family is athletic and view her as an oddball; they try to change her and mold her to their way. A child, from the moment she / he goes to Sunday School and church just doesn’t think that those particular teachings make sense.

A child is a bit eccentric in this way or that and the parent can’t deal with it.

” Considering that the creative life is the soul’s food and water, this basic development is excruciatingly critical.”

So for many this early exile in the formative years of childhood leaves a wounded psyche within. It may not be through any deliberate fault or intention by the parents, siblings, teachers, etc. but it is a common theme and this is why “The Ugly Duckling” resonates with so many.

No matter what happened early on, the little duckling keeps seeking. It must, because the driving force within is of her own nature.

We know that at the end of the story the little duckling discovers that it was never a duck after all, but a beautiful swan.


If you have attempted to fit whatever mold and failed to do so, you are probably lucky. You may be an exile of some sort, but you have sheltered your soul. There is an odd phenomenon that happens when one keeps trying to fit and fails. Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin, whether these be a course of study, an art form, or a group of people.”

All quotations in this post were taken from “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

A Glorious End of Summer Day

Sunday, close to the end of summer,  was preceded here  ( Southwestern PA.) by a short but heavy much needed evening rainfall. The following morning was cool, crisp and clear with all of the myriad stars sparkling in the sky clearly visible before dawn.  It was a glorious end of summer day on Sunday.

There’s something special about September’s light…and I went out to capture a bit of it mid-morning.

Is it brighter, more golden, more diffused, or is it just that it’s coming later and later in the morning now and therefore it is more precious and appreciated ?

flowers sept morning light

The sky that day… I had run an errand and pulled off to the side of the road on my way home to grab a photo with my phone. There’s a field off to the left of this area that usually has hay bales  in mid-summer.  They must have gathered it all in.

Sept 20 skies

As you can see, we have no foliage change here yet. It doesn’t look like fall at the moment.

I thought that I’d harvested all of the grapes a few weeks ago but when I was trimming the vine I found two more clusters. I took a photo of one…and how nice it is to stand in your backyard after hanging sheets out on the laundry line, and just stroll over and eat some grapes…so much sweeter after having been left on the vine a bit longer.


These are the old-fashioned Concord Grape variety, with seeds. So just spit in the yard :)

Again, there’s something different about the light at this time of year…what I think is a juvenile cardinal is basking in it as he sang his morning serenade.


Here’s a bee enjoying the Cleome.  While the bees might land on a zinnia or another flower and just stay there for awhile, they seem to dance around these flowers very quickly.

bee and cleome

We have had heat waves, normal for summer, but when we get a cool front, it’s not moving from sleeveless shirts to short sleeves…’s moving to long sleeves and a sweater! This has occured several times and some of my plants are confused. In the back, the privet bush is starting to produce berries, which is normal for this time of year. It is also producing June blooms on some of the branches, and my snowball bush had some blooms last week ( it blooms in May. ) The hyacinth bean vine is done…the pods are ready to harvest. Yet now, it’s coming into bloom again!

hyacinth bean vine blooming again

The Pee Gee Hydrangea is behaving normally…its pristine white blooms are turning pink and will continue to deepen.


For a delightful post about the end of summer, visit Mimi over at  247 Mulberry Lane for “Fall Pageant“.  You won’t be sorry; it is quite creative and absolutely wonderful. MUCH more interesting than this one of mine ! :)

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / French Country Cottage

Sewing Review & How Kathy’s Post Helped in Several Ways

Kathy’s post of Just Say No the other day had me thinking. I had to smile because she has a tremendous amount of projects that she juggles. I also had to smile because one of the projects that she listed was the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album Quilt. It begins in October and I’d done a post about it HERE since I signed up for it.

Kathy’s post also reminded me of a projects review that I did mid-year , towards the end of Juneto try to keep  track of what I was doing and hoped to do. With a new quarter coming up I thought to do another review in light of the June one. It was interesting for me to go back and read June’s, as I’d already forgotten about it. I really need to remember to do these every few months as it can only be beneficial to me over time.  In comparison to my mid-June list :

  • I did make another appliqued house block, my third, as I’d hoped to.
  • I did not touch the scrappy hourglass block project ( this is something that will most likely be a tied quilt in the end, with large hourglasses / girly colors )
  • I did make more Granny blocks…I finished a second row and have a few more for the third row.
  • I did finish my first Rose Applique block for another red / green kind of quilt and am working on a second one.
  • I did finish embroidering a little block or two for the “Whimsy” quilt but I’ve not done anything more since then that I can recall on that project.
  • I decided to continue on with something and make it into a medallion and I have been working on that here and there and am seeing progress, albeit slow progress since it involves EPP and Applique.
  • I JUST finished up the Crosses and Losses top binding the other day and my little red & green applique top is currently in the hoop.

So when I thought about it, I have not done too badly. Most of what I do requires prep work. I often think that I spend more time with freezer paper, iron and starch than sewing : )  For example, here is a small pile of prep-in-progress items for this, that & the other projects that I am intermittently working on.

prep work

ANOTHER way that Kathy’s post helped me was this:    I am not one that is thrilled with binding a quilt. It may be because it is the same sort of stitch that I use for applique so I’d rather be sewing a leaf or something. Or maybe I just get bored easily.  But that morning I thought about her mention of “keeping too many tabs open” and the things that I read occasionally  about mindfulness, and I reminded myself to just sit down, close all the other tabs, be MINDFUL, and sew my daily quota of binding that morning. And it worked. I thought about that quilt and that quilt only.

I thought about how far I’ve come since getting back into sewing and quilting just a few years ago. ( When you do something like this don’t think about how far you have to GO, and how much better others are, lol…when THAT TAB OPENS, shut it :)  

I thought about other pleasant things, including the fact that I was almost done, and how delightful it would be to see my mom’s expression when I gave this to her as a gift.  I thought about how enjoyable it would be when I took it out of the wash and dried it, and would see that wonderful crinkly thing that happens when you have hand quilted a quilt, and how  it would smell of the fresh outdoors when it finished drying on the laundry line after a brief time in the dryer first.

Kathy’s post reminded me that is ok to have a lot of tabs...we just can’t keep them all open at the same time and stress ourselves out, whether that is in regards to our projects or life in general.

A collage of my projects from the June review until now, with a baby quilt thrown in there that was not on the June list.

reviews collage picture pile

Recently ADDED to the list :

  • Joined the RSC ( Rainbow Scrap Challenge ) which meets on Saturdays.
  • Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album Quilt which will start in October.
  • Flower Basket Medallion / Kim McLean but not in bright colors  ( the post about that is HERE )

That’s probably enough “tabs” for quite awhile. For Slow Sunday Stitching I am going to enjoy hand quilting. After quilting that dark Crosses & Losses quilt, which is finished now, it is a pleasure to have the white space to play with in the red & green quilt that is now in the hoop.

I have not purchased any stencils…I am practicing drawing my own feathers…we can call that Frugal Quilting :)  And I am going to have some butterflies land here and there as well.

handq mid sept

HQ Feathers and Butterfly Front Porch

After all of the blank areas are filled with feathers and butterflies and what-not, I will echo quilt the floral portion, and then I suppose finish off with a cross hatch of some sort.

You might also enjoy : Reading, Eating, Simmering…  or  Baskets & Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sharing at : Kathy’s Quilts / Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / Cozy Little House

Rainbow Scrap Challenge Mid-September

Here’s a hodgepodge collage of blocks made over the last two weeks.   I just jumped into the rainbow scrap challenge in late August, so the black toile orange peels are from dark scraps, and the other orange peel block is from a combo of August dark and a print with some September orange shades. There are two granny blocks that do have some orange in them, though not much on this round,  and a block of half square triangles. Two elements, an english paper pieced starflower and an applique flower using shades of orange….by finishing up those two elements, I was able to have enough to applique onto the long strip that you see in the center of the collage.

hodgepodge sewing collage

That became the second border on this stars and spools quilt top that I’ve been working on here and there.

stars spools medallion 2nd border on collage

To see what others are creating with the color orange, head over to So Scrappy on Saturdays for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

You might also enjoy : Early Fall   or  Vintage Coffee Pot : Hall’s Kitchenware