Blue Screen

Have you ever planned out your day right down to the last-minute only to encounter a blip that throws your whole schedule of kilter? Well of course you have! Not too long ago I had a pile of customer quilts waiting their turn on my long-arm quilt machine. The time allotted was very tight. I was racing against the clock that was ticking down the days and minutes until I would leave for several weeks at my Little Cabin In The Woods. Things were flowing along rather nicely until the day that ruined my plans.

It was early in the morning. My plan was to make major progress on the quilt that was loaded on my machine. When I had closed shop the previous evening everything about my machine was fine. Other than being a bit out of level, all of the bells and whistles were operating smoothly. Expecting everything to be as it was when I walked away the previous evening, I plugged in my machine and flipped on the switch. As is my typical habit I walked from the rear of the machine on around to the front. The control screen sits directly above the handlebars. In order to operate the machine the screen must power up. Once finishing its start-up routine the screen displays a menu listing the available options.

On this very unfortunate day things did not go as usual. The screen on my Tin Lizzie didn’t respond the way it should. Rather than loading the menu I had been accustomed to seeing, the screen displayed vertical columns of blue and red lines.

IMG_0249IMG_0247Never before had I seen anything like it. Unsure what or why I was seeing this I decided to wait a spell in hopes it would somehow miraculously correct itself. When it seemed no further changes would take place I felt the best think to do was turn the machine off, wait a while, then turn it on once again. That’s what we do with computers when they aren’t responding….right? Hopefully this time everything would return to normal.

I repeated my typical routine then waited for my miracle to occur. Unfortunately nothing changed. The same screen filled with lines appeared. This was NOT supposed to happen. Time for equipment failure was not included in the schedule. For a brief moment panic set in. After overcoming the desire to burst out into tears and throw a tantrum I gathered my wits and made a plan.

I had recently made friends on Facebook with the owner of the shop that had sold me my Tin Lizzie. Knowing that an open line of communication was now available between the two of us I thought why not take advantage of that resource. The first thing I did was grab my phone and take a photo of my screen. Next I attached it to a message in the Facebook Messenger app. Once the message was in transit the only thing I could do was wait for her to reply.

To my surprise she responded quite quickly. After trading a few messages back and forth plans were made to meet at the store early the following week. Fortunately for me the screen was covered under warranty. Even if it hadn’t been my machine was worthless without it so I would have needed to expend whatever funds were necessary to get things back in working order.

After returning home with my brand new part I went through the procedures to install it and bring the software up to date. With very little effort my Tin Lizzie was back in operating order and I was once again off and running. The equipment failure had set me way behind in my schedule so very little time was wasted. I focused all of my attention on conquering the tasks I had set before me. After working diligently, with barely a break to breathe, I finished the last quilt just in time. Phone calls were made to the respective customers and arrangements were made for them to pick their quilts up. By the time the last customer walked out the door, grinning from ear to ear, with her quilt snug beneath her arms, I had only hours left to pack and get ready to leave.

The wonders of the internet had saved the day!! Hurray!


Friday Favorites: Chicken Parisienne

IMG_7639_ffWelcome to Friday Favorites!

Chicken Parisienne is one of our all-time favorite comfort dishes.  The recipe was added to my library back in the early 1990’s.  It is one of many I have received from my mother.  She’s not the author however.

Here’s what I know about it’s history.

  • It was published in a spiral bound cookbook similar to those used by church groups.  I know this because my copy of the recipe was not written on a typical recipe card.  I’m often too lazy to do that.  The recipe was photocopied and because anything that is placed on the photocopier along with the document will also become a permanent part of the image.  So how do I know it was spiral bound . . . you’ve guess it . . . my photocopied recipe includes the image of spiral binding.
  • The recipe was found in the “Meats & Main Dishes” section of the cookbook according to the wording in the top right corner.
  • Along the right side of the page one can see images of tabs marking additional sections in the cookbook.  There are tabs labeled
  • Breads, Rolls and Pastries
  • Cakes, Cookies & Desserts
  • Beverages, Microwave & Misc
  • Vegetables
  • The recipe was printed on page 51.
  • The author of the recipe is Connie Fenske.  I have no idea who Ms. Fenske is nor does my mother.
  • The other important information one would like to know about a recipe’s origin such as the name of the book, when and where it was published shall remain a mystery.  Unless of course one of my readers is privy to the information.  I welcome any details you might be able to shed light on.

Internet Search

I’ve searched the internet hoping to find more information about this recipe but have been unsuccessful.  So I offer this recipe to my readers as one that most certainly must be tried and will undoubtedly be added to your stack of favorite comfort foods.  Without further ado I now present to you Connie Fenske’s recipe for Chicken Parisienne.

Chicken Parisienne

By Connie Fenske


10 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breasts (5 whole), split

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 c. sherry wine

1/2 c. milk

1/4 c. melted butter

1 1/2 c. wild rice (can use 1/2 wild and 1/2 white)

3 oz. Parmesan cheese

1 pkg. slivered almonds

Combine soups, wine, milk and butter.  Stir.  Set aside.  Place rice (uncooked) in a well-greased 9 x 12-inch pan.  Spread 1/2 liquid mixture over rice.  Lay breasts on top and pour remaining liquid on top of breasts.  Cover with grated Parmesan cheese and slivered almonds.  Bake at 275 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  Do not cover.  Do not disturb while baking.  Serve with tossed salad and rolls.

So What Do You Think?

Now that you’ve read the recipe, of one thing I am certain, you’ve come to the conclusion that this definitely does not fall into the lo-cal category.  On this little detail I will concur.  However, since when do comfort foods fall into the lo-cal arena anyway?

I’ve Done A Little Tweaking

As with all cooks and their favorite recipes, I have my own adaptations I have made.  You have the option to first try the recipe, as it was originally intended, and then on your second attempt implement my adjustments.  Or, if you are inclined, skip the original directions and follow mine instead.  Which ever route you choose I have no doubt you will be well-pleased.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Rice  Definitely mix the wild rice with another option.  Long-grain, short-grain, white or brown rice are all suitable candidates.  If you are not a fan of wild rice then feel free to omit it.  Just make sure what ever combination you choose adds up to 1 1/2 cups of rice.
  • Soup  There are already three cans of soup listed in the ingredients.  This may sound like a large quantity of soup, but trust me, every ounce of liquid will be absorbed by the rice.  I’ve often toyed with the idea of either increasing the amount of milk or adding a fourth can of soup.  I tend to like my hot-dishes a little creamier than this one often is.  I’ve also thought of soaking my rice overnight hoping that would result in a creamier texture.
  • Mixing  Although the recipe does not tell you to mix the liquids and rice together, I do.  I think the rice cooks up much nicer when they have been combined together before layering in the pan.  I follow the directions for stirring together the liquids then add in the rice.  I pour 1/2 of my liquid and rice mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Then I put in the chicken and pour the left-over rice mixture on top.

With all of the adaptations I have made one might wonder why we are so fond of this dish.  We are unique individuals with different taste buds.  These minor changes just happen to make our experience much more to our liking.  I’m sure when you try the recipe you will do a bit of tweaking as well.

I hope that you will at least try the original version.  When you do I expect you will send me a message telling me all about your experience.  I am confident you will fall in love with this Chicken Parisienne recipe just like we have.  Enjoy!  Bon Appetite!

First Year Quilt: Part Four

IMG_5117I’ve been working at constructing a quilt top and backing for the First Year quilt pattern I purchased from Acorn Quilts. Links to my previous posts can be found here:

IMG_8741When we last visited, the center panel for the backing had been finished.  My next task was to add enough fabric to the center panel to reach the dimensions of 74″ x 74″. Note: 8″ of the additional fabric are required to properly secure the quilt on my long-arm quilt machine. Here’s how the center panel looked.

IMG_8763Deciding which fabrics and in what dimensions I would use them was my next step. The process of selecting fabric for my project is one of my favorite tasks. I could sit for hours with bolts and bolts of fabric mentally painting a picture of how they would best be combined. The hours and hours spent in contemplation would not mean that I am indecisive. Quite the contrary. Typically I can walk inside a fabric store and in very short order know exactly what I want. The extra time is simply because I enjoy creating with color so the longer it takes the more entertainment I can derive from it.

Below are the fabrics I chose.


Who knew that while learning math in school I would be using it years later in my quilting. From simple computations to very complex, they are all a part of this craft. For those that design their own quilts many utilize computer technology. I’ve never had the chance to experiment with such tools. Then on the other hand I’ve never tackled the art of designing complex quilts. If I make a design from scratch it’s usually a very simple one requiring only a paper and pencil.

To calculate the fabric needed to finish the quilt backing for this First Year Quilt all I had to do was a few simple subtraction and division calculations. The existing center panel measures 29 1/4″ x 50 1/2″. The desired end result was 74″ x 74″. Through my simple subtraction equation I was able to determine that I needed to add 23 1/2″ to the length and 44 3/4″ to the width. Next I had to decide if I wanted to add the extra fabric evenly on all four sides. Some people might decide to offset the panel either to the left or right and or either the top or bottom. Exactly centered would be the easiest. Here is where one can add a bit of artistic flair.

Typically I like my things to be neat and orderly which also transfers over to my quilting. Feeling the urge to stray from my natural tendencies I contemplated placing the panel off-center. After-all, if it didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined this was going on the back of my quilt. It was never meant to be the main focus so why not experiment.

When deciding how much fabric to add to each edge I let the available fabrics dictate my decisions. Here again is where I was able to draw from my artistic leanings. To select which fabric went where I laid the center panel out on the floor. Then one by one I auditioned each of the fabrics on all four sides arriving at what I felt was the best outcome. Next I pondered how much of each fabric I would want to be visible. From there I cut the required lengths of fabric and stitched them to the designated areas. When I was finished I had a quilt back perfectly sized for my First Year Quilt top. After carefully pressing the backing making sure each seam laid in the correct direction my quilt backing was finally ready to join the quilt top already waiting for time on my long-arm quilt machine.

IMG_8941Here’s a quick look at the quilt backing.

In the next update I will be finishing up the quilt. Until then have fun quilting! Oh, and if you have time share your thoughts on my progress by posting a comment.




Friday Favorites: Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery

IMG_7639_ffWelcome to Friday Favorites!

Greetings on this very chilly day!  I hope this finds you with far warmer weather than we are currently experiencing. In spite of the frigid temperature I have a really yummy favorite to share with you so . . . let’s get to today’s Friday Favorites!

My hubby and I have several restaurants that fall into our favorite’s category.  Very near the top of our list is the Daisy Care & Cupcakery in Madison, Wisconsin.


The Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery opened on May 18, 2009.  Since their launch they have sold 291,472 absolutely yummy, made in-house, from scratch, cupcakes.  The flavors and themes of their cupcakes change on a regular basis.  Of course anything with chocolate in it or on it would be my preference.

Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their award-winning wait staff helps make this restaurant rise to the top of our list.  The breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are filled with made from scratch, luscious ingredients.  Included in the selections are vegetarian as well as gluten-free items.  To accompany your meal they also offer fair-trade, organic coffee from a locally owned vendor.

If you are ever in the Madison, Wisconsin area you simply must include Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery on your places to visit.

A Quilt for Mr. J Part One

When I first purchased my long-arm quilt machine and started my own business I made a very simple smallish quilt for my then three grandchildren. The quilts were really nothing special. They had a center panel, all one piece of fabric, encapsulated by one or more borders. Here’s a few photos.

A Quilt for Mr. J
A Quilt for Miss L
A Quilt for Miss L
Miss M’s Quilt
Miss M’s Quilt
My Favorite Stitch Pattern

Even though the quilts weren’t anything special the quilting stitches, if I might say so myself, were spectacular. All three of my grandchildren instantly fell in love with their “Nannie” quilts, as they so lovingly nicknamed them.

When my fourth grandchild was born I made a quilt for her as well. This quilt, however, was much fancier. I used the Cathedral pattern designed by Villa Rosa Designs. After finishing that quilt I made a vow to myself to make a new quilt for my other grand kids using the exact same pattern but different fabrics.


Miss A’s Quilt

The quilt I’m making for Mr. J, my only grandson, will be made using a jelli-roll from Moda called S’mores Love along with two coordinating fabrics. The first is a blue fabric called Modern Texture from the Riverwoods collection and an orange fabric from the Color Weave collection.

The best part of this pattern is that it utilizes a jelli-roll. Having the 40 2 1/2″ strips already cut makes the process of assembly go much smoother as well as much easier. I purchased the jelli-roll from the Fat Quarter Shop. The coordinating fabrics were acquired from Bungalow Quilting and Yarn.

Before starting anything I made sure the blue and orange fabrics were free of creases. After pressing them it was time to start cutting fabric. From the forty strips I cut 480 individual 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ pieces. From the blue I cut sixty 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ strips and from the orange eight 5 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ blocks. As you can tell from the cutting instructions the quilt has sixty blocks. To each of the sixty blocks four 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ strips are added. Once the blocks are ready the real fun begins.

The process of laying out the blocks into rows is the best part about making the quilt. It’s a great chance to show your creativity. Since I worked on this quilt while staying at my Little Cabin in the Woods the available floor space was minimal. I knew I would probably have to step on one or more of the blocks to be able to maneuver around to other areas so I made sure my feet were clean and bare.

After swapping this one here and that one there over and over again I finally achieved a color scheme I was pleased with. The blocks were then carefully stacked in rows to maintain the same order, then sewn together. As I finished a row I carefully laid it over the back of one of my couches. All nine remained there until morning when I was ready to press their seams. As morning light arrived I warmed up my iron and prepared to press the resting rows. All nine were retrieved, pressed and returned to their original home on the couch.

That’s all for today. Be watching for Part Two.