Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Signature Quilt

I designed and made this quilt years ago and wanted to share the story behind it.

I have a friend who's name is Judy and every Thanksgiving they put out their special tablecloth. As friends and family come to their home for dinner they have each person sign their name on the tablecloth and write something they are grateful for that day. I thought it would be fun to make a quilt to document the blessings we have in our family each year. It's fun to look back and see the kid's signature and what they wrote.

The leaves, branches, and acorns are machine appliqued. The words are embroidered and the machine quilting was done by a local quilt shop. I really love this quilt. I left the center open so when the quilt is on the table you can place a nice floral arrangement in the middle.

Here are the signatures from years past. I forgot to bring it out this year because when I'm in charge of the big Thanksgiving dinner I get distracted. I even put it out on the stair railing so I wouldn't forget and I did. Oh well! Maybe next year I can remember!

Our Day of Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful day of Thanksgiving with Friends and Family. I thought I'd just share our day with you through pictures so you could feel part of our Thanksgiving Day.

Welcome to Our Home.
Come on in and enjoy a bit of our day together with family.

My sister Leah and her husband Eddie.

My sister asked me to take a family picture. Here it is.

This is a picture of my niece Ashleigh holding Kora Belle (my grandaughter), Kenna (my youngest daughter), and Mark (my oldest son).

Ashleigh, Kora, and Emma (my niece).

Kora Belle with Shelby (my niece). They all loved playing with Kora.

Leah ( my sister) with her youngest son, William.

Jason, Janice, and Courtney.
This is my Brother Tim's family (he had to work).

Ben (grandson) going through a tunnel. He loves tunnels.

The head pilgrim and his wife in the kitchen.

Most of the girls that were at the party.
Eddie's sister, Tammy and her daughter Brianna joined our family this year. They have a yearly invitation to our Thanksgiving dinner. Their Mother, LaJoy passed away not too long ago.

This is the BEST apple pie ever!!!
My sister makes these for our family every year!!!
She also makes awesome ROLLS!
Natalie made our family's favorite spinach salad and Janice brought pumpkin pie.

I am so grateful for all of you, my blogging friends! Have a great holiday season.

The Turkey Master

My husband Mark has perfected the making of our Thanksgiving Turkey and this year he has reached the Turkey Master Level of achievement. The Turkey has been hailed as the BEST TURKEY EVER by everyone who attended this years Thanksgiving Feast. It was moist, tender, full of flavor, and just plain brilliant. We will be talking about this turkey for years to come or at least until next Thanksgiving. Great JOB Mark, we all loved it and appreciate your efforts in preparing our TURKEY this year and in the past years!!!

Here is a play by play of the Turkey Master's preparations. You'll also get a glimpse of his Turkey apprentice, Kenna, helping with the vegetable cutting.

Here's Kenna helping Dad prepare the turkey brine.

Mark is preparing the vegetables for brining.

Here's the Turkey in it's brine.
It was in the brine for 12 hours.

Rinsing the turkey before cooking.

Adding the aromatics to the cavity of the turkey. That's one apple, half an onion, 3 sprigs of rosemary and one sprig of thyme.

Applying canola oil to the turkeys.

The two turkeys ready to go in the oven.

Here's the turkey after cooking for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. According to Alton Brown, the high temperature sears and seals in the juices. Then you reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for the remaining cooking time. Notice the tinfoil tent, this protects the breast meat from getting too brown and becoming over cooked.

Turkeys in the oven. They cooked for an additional two hours until they reached 161 degrees.

Here they are all ready to be carved.

After watching Alton Brown of Good Eats on the Food Network he wanted to get a carving knife. So he looked them up on the internet, did his research and we headed down to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a Cuisinart Carving Knife. It was really cool and has two blades. One for carving meat and the other for carving breads. Mark said it cut beautifully and wondered why he never bought one before this year. I think we just never thought about how cool it was to use and how nicely it cut the slices.

Another view of the turkey carving.

Mark is preparing the vegetables for the turkey stuffing.
Doesn't he look cute in his pilgrim hat?

All in All we had the most wonderful and relaxing day with our Family!
The food was EXCELLENT too!

Thanksgiving Bonus:
Here's the Recipe we followed this year and we think it's the best we've ever tried.


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
  • 1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our Wedding Day!

Wow!!! Mark and I are celebrating our 26th Wedding Anniversary today!!

It's been fun pulling out the wedding pictures and seeing how old we are now. Don't be shocked but, we were once young and really CUTE! We're still CUTE but in a refined kind of way ; ). The pictures are getting so dated it's funny, especially the bridesmaids dresses and the wedding backdrop but, ya know, we loved it!

When we got married my parents were celebrating their 25th anniversary less than a month after our wedding and I remember thinking that it would be a long time before we'd ever be married that long! Well, here we are and I'm more happy and grateful for the time we've spent together and the memories that we've shared than for having any concerns about how old we are. We do have more aches and pains but for every one of those aches we have an abundance of blessings and for every pain we have great joy.

We're actually old enough now that we've seen such an advance in technology. It's funny to think that we didn't have cell phones, ipods, personal computers, or the internet. It's amazing what we've been blessed with and how it's changed our lives and how it's connected us with friends and family around the world.

I thought I'd just share a few pictures from that very special day. . .

The newly married couple kissing!

Mr. and Mrs.

A symbol of our LOVE for each other.

The Wedding Cake.
My mom made the paper roses on the top of each cake.

Mark's Parents wedding day happens to be the same as ours.
Ben & Carole were married in 1955.

Here's a Picture of My Family!

Here's my Sweetie on our Honeymoon cruise.

Here's Happy ME!

We had such a fun time on our cruise to the carribbean. I was a travel agent at the time and was able to get a really great deal on a cruise. We couldn't afford not to take advantage of this opportunity even though we were just starting out and didn't have very much money. The airline tickets were free and the cruise cost us $500.oo for a stand-by status, meaning we didn't know if we could go until two weeks before the cruise departure. It was worth the anxiety over waiting for confirmation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Charm Pack Quilt Tutorial

As promised, here is the tutorial I made for RaeAnn's Charm Pack Quilt. Thanks go to RaeAnn for preparing the fabric squares for me so I could take pictures of them and for sharing the quilt with all of us. It's such a great idea!!! Enjoy!

This method is a fun and easy way to use your 5" Charm Packs that are readily available in nearly every quilt shop. First you'll need to decide how many quilt blocks you want to use in your quilt. RaeAnn's quilt is 10 blocks across by 10 rows down for a total of 100 blocks. So that means she bought 3 Charm packs with at least 34 squares per pack for a total of 102 squares. You can use any number of blocks and rows to make your quilt. Just remember that each 5" Charm Square will make one block.

For the striped center you will determine yardage this way. For example if you have 100 blocks you will need 100 strips cut @ 1 1/2" x 10" just to make it easy. So, that means you will get 4 pieces measuring @ 1 1/2" x 10" per 1 1/2" x 40" strip of fabric. Now divide the number 4 into 100 necessary strips. To put it more simply that means you will need 25 strips to get your 100 smaller strips.

Take one or more 5" squares at a time from your charm pack and cut them from top left corner down to the bottom right corner.

Take one 1 1/2" x 10" strip of a striped fabric for the center of each half square triangle block. Look CLOSELY and you will see that I folded each piece in half and did a finger press.

Now take the triangle and match the pressed marks together. Sew using a 1/4" seam. Press the seams out toward the corners.

Next you will trim the corners.

Use a ruler with a 45 degree angle then line up the markings and then trim excess.

Closer view.

When laying out the rows you will alternate the direction of the blocks to form an "X" or an "O" thus creating a criss cross pattern. Lay out all of your blocks before sewing the rows together. The block measures a bit more than 5 1/4" before all four edges are sewn into a quilt which will then take the measurement to a bit less than 5" x 5".

Here's a look at the "O" pattern.

Here's a look at another charm pack I cut up to make a table runner for the teacher's lunchroom at school. It's really fun to use all the different charm packs out there. You'll have to let me know if you make a quilt using this method. I love seeing your quilt pictures!!! If you have any questions let me know.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Charm Pack Quilt

I took pictures of this fun Halloween quilt my friend Rae Ann made using three charm packs from Moda's "Chic or Treat" by Arrin Turnmire. I told her that I would blog about it for her since she has no interest in doing a blog herself. I told her that I would be more than happy to do it since I love blogging so much and sharing with all of you in quilting blogworld. Look for the upcoming tutorial on this quilt.

I did a search on my favorite quilt connection called and you can still get some of this fabric at the Fabric Shack which is an online fabric store. You can also find it on sale here. I think the stripe she used was from one of last years collections but, I'm sure you can find a stripe that you like.

Chic or Treat made by my friend, Rae Ann.

Here's a great view of the quilt.

I just love the FUN Halloween fabric she used.

Here's a close-up of some of the fabric blocks.

Our next project using this same method will be a Christmas Quilt. We're going to use 3 charm packs from Moda's "Isn't Christmas Jolly?" by Mary Englebright. I'll be putting together a tutorial for this quilt over the weekend so keep an eye open and check back.