Minas Tirith – cake!

We are celebrating Jack's birthday tonight, a few days early. Steve is cooking dinner, I made the cake. Jack requested a Minas Tirith cake. In case you need a refresher, Minas Tirith is the heavily fortified capital of Gondor from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I asked for pictures…


Really?!!!! I make cakes but nothing like this. Jack is turning five but he's always been interested in extravagent cake making. I have no idea where that came from.

Chris sent me this link to show me cakes that others have made. I am once again surprised at what people think of, and how they do it. Here's an example:


Again – really?!!!! Jack requested my lemon cake with buttercream frosting which is not particularly moldable. Plus, I couldn't devote days to this. However, I kept calm and carried on.

I made one layer each at 9", 8" and 6" round. I made a foil-covered cardboard base with a back wall that is supposed to be the mountain. I got everlything out and ready. That included slicing each cake layer in half horizontally and spreading my home-made lemon curd inside. (That is a key ingredient that makes this cake taste so good.)


With the frosting made, I had to work fast because the frosting was not stiff. I used lots of toothpicks to hold various layers together. I managed to get the cake into the refrigerator without dropping it. The cold hardened the frosting and made it all more stable. I decided that the cake crumbs in the frosting were OK because it looked rougher, more rock-like. That blue bowl has extra frosting in case I need it.


After the frosting hardened I took the cake out of the refrigerator and used gray cake spray paint on it – yet another thing I didn't know existed until a few days ago. I thought I would use the sparkly sugar flakes too but they didn't show up and this cake does not need any more sugar. I made a pointy tower and various add-ons with crumpled foil…


It's official. I am really bad at this! I'm hoping that it's so bad it's good, but it may be too bad to ever be good. The cake itself should taste just fine (even though shiny gray cake looks pretty unappetizing). 


Jack and Chris are going decorate it with Lego guys. I hope Jack will use his imagination and sort of see Minas Tirith. At the very least he'll know I tried and maybe that's the most important thing.




It’s good to be busy!

I'm home from my last teaching engagement of the year! Oh boy! You'd think that means that I now have days, weeks, of free time to make new quilts. Well, not so much. But that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. Celia requested a new Christmas tree skirt — one that is a little smaller to better fit in their new apartment. What a fun project!

Do you remember the three small quilts I made for Celia last year? They turned into the Christmas Cuteness ePattern (click here). Here's one of the quilts:


I wanted to make a reversible tree skirt that works with the Christmas Cuteness designs, but that is different.The tree skirt I've designed utilzes fun Christmas fabric on one side (easy!) and an appliqued string of lights on the other. It be a new ePattern in a very few weeks.

I've taken lots of how-to photos that will be in the ePattern, including how to use the bias stem bars to make the 'string'. I pinned and then sewed my bias stem to the background fabric. TIP: Use a walking foot, matching thread, and keep your hands on the fabric!


AND I used the Sewline glue pen today. I used it to glue the seam allowances under on the bases of the tree 'lights'.


I learned some things:

  • I'm not a particularly good gluer. I think if I really meant to do this a lot, I'd get better at it
  • Place the fabric on your sandpaper board! It keeps the fabric from stretching as you move the glue pen along it.
  • I put the glue on the seam allowance, then I finger-pressed the seam allowance under. That worked better than putting the glue on the body of the applique piece and finger-pressing the seam allowance to it. (I hope that makes sense.)
  • The Sewline Glue Pen works! It stuck the fabric in place. It's not stiff. If you have no problems with glueing, this is a good toy.

It is now time for me to go pick up mom who is having dinner with us. It's nice to be home :-).

PS – Who can tell me what happened in the last 5 minutes of Walking Dead? I know the doctor got his leg… OK, spoiler alert. What happened after that? My TIVO cut me off!




The last tidbits…

I had four more photos that didn't seem to fit well in any of the previous posts. Here they are…

It was fun to see how they used small pumpkins: strung tightly together into garlands, strung farther apart in streamers. And there was that hanging thing that was a cross between and mobile and a chandelier. It was better looking in person – here you mostly see the corn husks – but still, a nice idea.

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Individual little pumpkins were wrapped with a bit of flexible (copper?) wire and hung on the fences… None of these pumpkin ideas would be hard to do at home.

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I didn't take many flower pictures but could not pass up this pink hibiscus. The way the bud sits, head held high, was nice.

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I found one iron manhole cover that just needed to pose with my new boots! Don't you love this design? It would be nice in a cutaway applique…


That's the end of the Dallas Arboretum pictures. I'm teaching in Granbury, TX, Monday. It's my last 'real' job this year. Then I hope to turn my attention to planning the quilts for my next book. Oh happy, happy day!


I forgot about Martha!

I've let magazines pile up but finally had time to flip through my Martha Stewart Living issues in the car on Saturday (Steve was driving). Of course there was Photoshopping involved but Martha looks pretty good! I wonder if it's a shock to see her in person?

I think that's really her in the photo below – not her head photoshopped onto a model. I think it's all Martha is because of the looks on the faces of the two girls closest to her.


The grin looks a bit strained, don't you think? That could be because they'd been at it a while; kids do get tired of smiling. (See, I'm trying to cut Martha some slack!)




Do you think they have a fan blowing on her (above) to make her hair look so casually brushed back? And I wonder if the paint on the brush is wet or dry? If I had that much wet paint on a brush it wouldn't take long for me to have paint on me, the table, etc. – but then I'm not Martha.


It's possible that that's only Martha's head on a model's body, but if so, they matched up the parts well. This ad actually worked on me – I would like to buy 1 or more of those glass domes. I'm leaving for Granbury soon. Maybe I'll drive near a Macy's!



Because it’s pretty, four

Are you tired of pretty yet? I hope not because my favorite piece is coming up. This is the Dallas Star and it was amazing…

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Notice those pumpkins lining the walk. There were hundreds of them in this part of the Arboretum. They led to the pumpkin patch the likes of which I have not seen before. More on that later. Now, back to the Dallas Star, much closer… It's icy looking!

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We walked on a little ways and came upon the most exciting display of pumpkins that I have ever seen!

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As you might imagine, this area was full of children who were (sometimes) happily posing for their parents. I was sorry that Elanor and Jack weren't with us. I suppose I might have been able to get Linda to pose among the pumpkins but neither of us thought that. 

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You can walk through the houses. Pumpkins are visible from the inside as well. I don't know if they re-use the framework but I would suspect that they do. 

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It was so much fun watching parents take pictures of their kids that I couldn't help be take a few myself. Don't you love the pink outfits with the orange pumpkins!

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I really wanted to stand in front of these little girls' mother to take their picture, but that would have been presumptuous of me. They were so cute in their costumes and honestly, the view from the side is not bad at all. 

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Linda spotted this family. Look close, down in the pumpkins… I'll bet that turned out to be a good picture.

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And, last but not least, is this figure reclining on the grass back in a quiet area of the park. At first glance, I thought she was a sculpture. She must have been napping, or maybe reading, because she was motionless. Her footwear looks like work boots so maybe she was resting on her break. I think that is a knitted hat on her head… at any rate, I reminded of shapes Henry Moore might have sculpted.

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The more photos I take of random people, the more I appreciate how different we all are. And how wonderful! 

Because it’s pretty, three

These lovely white glass 'flowers' are more Chihuly-esque to my eye. There was surprisingly little of this sort of shape on display at the Dallas Arboretum.

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I stood behind a mother taking a photo of her brood. It's a nice way to show you the scale of this glass sculpture – and to show how happy even teenagers were to be here!

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I was headed to the ladies room when we saw the sculpture in the next photo. I might have gotten a better photo but was more interested in where I was headed :-).

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Linda called this one 'snakes'. Now, if snakes don't agree with you, you might call it flames.

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The butterflies loved this one too.

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The next two photos show glass in waterfalls. Linda and I both loved these…

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Look, they're dancing!

Because it’s pretty, two

Here are more photos from the Dale Chihuyly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. Not all of the glass was spiky…

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There were butterflies in the air. Can you spot the one in this photo? It's a where's Waldo-ish photo.

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I had fun including random people in some of my photos. People are so interesting to look at! This little girl in the colorful sweater looked so nice behind the purple spires. I'll show more random people intentionally photographed in other posts.

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The green glass (below) was almost irridescent. It would have been spectacular with the sun on it. 

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Look in the background in the photo above… see the squares in the distance?

There was a large, bronze lady in one of them. I love large bronze ladies. There were 3 ladies on a corner (at 63rd and Pennsylvania) in OKC near where Mom used to live. They always made me smile.

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And this is what she's looking at (below). If you haven't clicked on any of the other photos in this post, you should click on this one to see it bigger. Really, isn't that deep blue sky reflected in the water amazing!?

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I'll share more photos tomorrow. And, for those of you who read this far, I uploaded a new ePattern and a thread pack this afternoon. I'll probably send a newsletter with the announcement in the next few days. You're getting the news early! Click here to see what's new.