Wednesday, August 26, 2020


 On our recent trip to Vicksburg, MS, we arrived at our Airbnb at 11:00 am.  Checking in, our host recommended that we go to The Tomato Place for lunch.  We always like local recommendations so we followed his directions to go there.  Its a vegetable market/food place on the side of a busy highway with nothing else around it.  

We ventured inside passing this flat of beautiful tomatoes!  

$20 a flat and they were large beefsteak tomatoes.  We don't get those where I live in Florida except in the Grocery store and they aren't all that good.  We went into order lunch and I ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.  

Oh, my it was huge!  I ended up just eating the insides and leaving the bread.  They also had tomato sandwiches with mayo.  Would have loved that.  My husband ordered a double cheeseburger which was also huge!  He's not a big fan of tomatoes.  

It was rustic decor and we had to eat outside.  Here is Allan waiting for his cheeseburger.  

This sign was on the door!  I thought it was very clever made out of old license plates.  Before we left Vicksburg, we went back to The Tomato Place and I bought 4 beefsteak tomatoes and 4 peaches.  The tomatoes were from Tennessee and had an acidic flavor to them.  I guess they pick up flavors from the dirt they are grown in.  Makes sense that ours  aren't that good because our dirt is sand.  The peaches were so yummy and came from South Carolina.  Sadly they are all gone.  I shared them with my sister and a friend!  

Saturday, August 22, 2020


 The second part of our trip away from home involved going to Vicksburg, MS, a place my husband had long wanted to visit.  Sadly a few things were closed due to covid but mostly we got to do the main things.  We hired a guide to drive us around the National Park and tell us about the Civil War and see the variety of different monuments set out by the states whose armies participated in the battle.  It was a two hour tour and quite educational. Our guide was descended from one of the original settlers in Mississippi way back years ago.  He also had a great great grandfather who served in the Confederacy.  They are proud of their heritage!  And I agree they should be proud.  

The next day after a good breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, we headed to the Old Court House Museum.  It was one of the best museums with local history that I have ever been to.  The first room we visited was The Confederate Room.  Many of the items in this room were donated by Mississippi families who relatives also served in the Confederacy.  Civil War Uniforms, musket balls, newspaper reports, swords, guns, medical equipment and much more showed me a side of the Civil War you don't get in history books.  The room was packed full of artifacts, mostly Confederate but quite a few Union items as well.  The next room was a costume room and what a treat that was for me.  Wedding dresses and shoes from the 1800's were kept in cases, day dresses and more.  All the things you would need to adorn yourself in the 1800's. 

 The Furniture room held a whole complete parlor with fireplace donated by a family.  Collections of Meissen porcelain, dinnerware and household items and this is where we started seeing the quilts.  

Below is a quilt that was attributed to a slave maker.  It was applique and such tiny stitches. 

    Below is a selection of quilts with a wedding dress underneath.                                                              
I enjoyed seeing all the textiles and there were more quilts hanging up high in other rooms.  

There was one more quilt I noted that was laid over the foot of a bed.  It was beautifully appliqued and I realized that it wasn't a new quilt.  So I lifted up one corner and found a label on the back with a phone number.  I thought that was so smart of this woman to make this beautiful quilt and donate it and include a label.  I dont always label my quilts but I should.  Someone 100 years from now might be interested.  

Friday, August 21, 2020


 My husband and I took a driving trip to Laurel Mississippi and later on to Vicksburg!   I've been binge watching design shows on HGTV during the pandemic and Hometown with Ben and Erin Napier has become a favorite.  I love renovating old homes and making them new again and I appreciate their use of old materials instead of throwing them away.  So when our trip to France and Germany fell through because of Covid, we decided to take a drive to Mississippi.  We booked The Blue Rabbithole in Laurel and I blogged about that previously.  

The first morning after a good nights rest, we decided to find a local restaurant to have breakfast.  Well, that didnt work out so well as a lot of things were closed.  One place looked promising but it turned out to be a restaurant turned into a medical clinic.  So we ended up at Waffle House where we had a healthy breakfast and then talked about what we were going to do the rest of the day.  We wondered if there was even anything to do as a drive through downtown the previous evening didn't look very promising.  Lots of empty buildings as you can usually find in a southern town.  

Going to Laurel was my thing so we put on a brave face and proceeded to the Laurel Mercantile which is the shop owned by Erin and Ben in hopes it would be open.  When we got there at 10:00, there was a line to get in!  They were only allowing ten in at a time but there were plenty of like minded folks that were fans of the show lining up.  Inside, a woman gave us a map of Laurel and circled all the places to eat and things to do  and where to go to see some of the homes that Erin and Ben had renovated.  Here I am meeting Erin and Ben.    Carol, Erin and Ben

The shop was super cute and we didn't buy a thing.  My husband was very gracious to let me look at everything because Laurel was my place to visit on our trip.  Afterward we walked through the downtown and visited a few other shops, some we had seen in the show, like Lott Furniture.  When it got near lunchtime, we thought about going to Miss Pearl's as we had seen her in the show and saw her home being renovated.  But I wasn't into another day of southern home cooking so we went to another coffee and deli with the best chicken salad!  After lunch we visited the Scotsman store where Ben had his woodshop.  

Allan and the woodshop! 

Here is my husband sitting on the bench outside of the shop.  Note the filming in progess sign although they weren't filming when we were there.  I made him wear a mask so we could remember the year we were there.  Who could forget!  

For the rest of the day we drove up and down the avenues near our cottage.  We were told we would recognize the homes that we had seen on TV and I did find a few.  They dont share locations due to privacy of the owners which is a good thing.  We had a good dinner at a steak restaurant and enjoyed our last evening, drinking wine and watching Amazon Prime movies in our cottage!  As we headed out the next morning, I looked at a home behind us and thought I recognized the deck!  And sure enough it was one of the renovated homes!  We loved our trip to Laurel and I would recommend it!  
Until next time have a great day!      

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


 So my husband and I left Friday morning to drive to Laurel Mississippi!  Laurel is the birthplace of Hometown, the HGTV show featuring Erin and Ben Napier.  They renovate cute old and dilapidated cottages in Laurel with their clients.  I hadn't watched many of their shows but this year, during the Covid phase when we were all stuck at home, I spent a lot of time binge watching Hometown as well as many others.  You can find more about Hometown here

So when we decided to go to Laurel, a 4 hour drive from our home in Florida, we needed a place to stay.  I had wanted to stay at the Wisteria Bed and Breakfast but sadly it was booked.  So I went online and found The Blue RabbitHole with AirBNB.  It was available and looked super cute so we booked it.  It wasn't that easy to find.  There is a small alley situated between two houses but first we had to find the two houses.        This is the road and when we arrived it was pouring down rain.  That hose in the corner of the building came in handy as my shoes found the mud and I had to rinse them off.                                                                                                                                                                                                

Road entry to the cottage.

The Blue Rabbit Hole is a super cute and charming cottage.  The owner Sally is an artist and the lively bright colors were enjoyable!  My interior design hat came on and I appreciated the bright bedspread and pillows, the cute chairs and tiny sofa as well as art work by Sally.  She went the extra mile with appointments, even supplying milk and orange juice and bagels for breakfast.  Coffee and snacks are a staple.
The Blue Rabbit Hole is very close to the downtown area and within walking distance.  However, we elected to drive after I almost fell in the mud left by the rain three times.  And the sidewalks are uneven.  I'm not the most in shape person to be walking around.  Here are some more photos.  

You can learn more about The Blue Rabbit Hole by going to  

The day we arrived, we got there early enough to go to the Veterans Memorial Museum in Laurel.  I would definitely recommend a visit to this museum, especially if you are a veteran.  My father was a POW in Japan for 42 months during WWII and there was information from another POW there in the museum.  It was nice to see some of the pictures he included.  
After a nice dinner and relaxing in our little cottage, the next morning we found a Waffle House for Breakfast and then proceeded to the downtown area.  We pulled up in front of the Lauren Mercantile which is owned by Erin and Ben Napier and had to stand in line to get in!  OMG.  There were quite a few older couples and men with their wives waiting to visit the place where Erin and Ben call home.  We also went to the Scotsman shop and saw the woodworking shop where Ben creates his master pieces. More about that tomorrow!  

Thursday, August 13, 2020


 For an entire year, my husband and I had planned a dream trip from Paris to Normandy to Belgium and Germany.  It was all paid for and we were set to go in May 2020.  Then covid-19 came along.  The tour company sent us a notice that all trips would be delayed.  Then when our emails weren't answered we started to worry.  The tour company had gone bankrupt!  We then started to worry about whether we would get our money back or not.  Thankfully, our credit card company was great to work with and we got a full refund.  Delta had cancelled the flights so we got that money back too.  What a relief that was.  Word to the wise, always pay with a valid credit card like American Express or, in our case Chase Sapphire.  We have heard of folks who paid by debit card.  And Cash, writing a check.  Always insure with a credit card!  

So, my husband and I still wanted to go on a trip.  I've been binge watching Home Town on HGTV, the show featuring Ben and Erin Napier rehabbing cottages in Laurel MS.  Laurel is about a 4 hour drive from our home in the Panhandle of Fl so we will be leaving tomorrow to stay in a cute cottage for 2 nights.  From there we are going to Vicksburg.  My husband has long wanted to go to Vicksburg for the Civil War battlefield.  We went to Gettysburg and Antietam a few years back.  So its the best of both worlds.  I get to see the cute cottages and nostalgic Laurel Ms and he gets to go back to the Civil War.  

While researching our trip this morning, I found there is a Veterans Memorial Museum in Laurel as well.  If we get there early enough we can go there.    Both of us are retired from the USAF and we enjoy that sort of thing.  Him more than me but I'll go along with it.  

There are probably a few quilt shops available to shop in but I'm not really interested in that.  I just want to see and visit Home Town!  If I dont blog for a few days, you will know why!  

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


This past year, two of my quilting friends passed away leaving huge stashes and a variety of notions, rulers and more.  One of the quilters named a friend in her will to receive all of her quilting things.  The other quilter had a recurrence of her cancer and lined up friends to take care of her things as well.  

With two guilds in our area, the two quilting friends designated to dispense of the stashes, came to each guild with fabrics, notions and more to share.  What a great gift these two quilters made!  

Which leads me to my blog post today.  Leave quilts, not fabric!  Use up that stash and if you aren't using it, share it!  I've been doing a lot of sharing lately.  I was cleaning out my sewing room recently and I had a large plastic bin that I put in the hallway outside my room.  When I found something I didn't want anymore it went in the bin.  Once it goes into a bin or box that I intend to mail, I dont look at it again.  Out of sight out of mind.  I have a couple of quilters that I send boxes to.  One collects greens and the other collects everything fabric.  I"ve sent out 3 boxes this month.  

This particular large bin I was filling had a purpose.  There was a new quilter  friend of one of our guild members and she was going to be the recipient of this large bin.  When I was new to quilting, I received 2 large bins stuffed full of fabrics and I was extremely appreciative.  When you don't have a large stash, you will take just about anything to sew with.  So lets get back to the recent stashes left by my quilting friends.  

The two quilters in charge of distributing the stashes were ready for them to go.  I came home with two bins full of folded fat quarters around comic boards and some partial fat quarters.  I was impressed with how organized the bins were.  Every piece was folded around a board.  Most of the fabrics were dark, civil war and Thimbleberry type fabrics.  I pulled a stack of greens and instantly packed a box to send to my green friend.  Then Jo at Jo's Country Junction said her daughter Kelli was going to be sewing masks for children so I packed a box with all the child themed fabrics I could find, including Peppa Pig!    

What to do with the rest of them?  We collect 10 1/2" squares at our church guild so I sat down and started cutting out squares for the church.  I was able to empty one of the bins and the other bin I started attacking yesterday.  In addition to the 10 1/2" squares, I'm cutting (2) 4 1/2" squares and (4) 2 1/2" matching squares from the remaining pieces and 5" charms when I can get them.  I found a quilt in a magazine using the above mentioned pieces and I need 120 sets of them.  

Until next time, leave beautiful quilts!  Sew up that fabric and share!  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


 Yesterday was my quilting day at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Walton Beach, Fl.  A group of 70, 80 and one 90 year old meet twice a month to work on mission quilts.  This year our mission has been rocked by the explosion in Beirut which took out 3 containers full of quilts, personal care kits and layettes.  In addition Covid-19 has also taken a toll.  

Our group has made over 100 quilts this year, however our participation number is down due to Covid concerns.  Also, Lutheran World Relief is not sending a truck to pick up our quilts this year.  A truck usually comes in August to a church in Daphne Al and we drive over with our quilts to distribute them.  But this year, that isn't going to happen.  

We have a blessing of our quilts in August where we display them in our church, laying them over the pews as in this picture 

This is such a special day for the quilters but this year, we aren't even back in the sanctuary yet.  It will happen later.  We offer our parishioners the opportunity to purchase one of the quilts for $50.  The money we earn through this goes to purchase batting and supplies.  But we always have more than 100 quilt to go to LWR in addition to school kits and personal care kits.  Its all up in the air for now.

There was an article at yesterday where the whole Lutheran church is trying to replace the loss in some way.  The quilts need to by 60 by 80.  That is it.  They can be whole cloth or pieced.  Yesterday was our day to meet at church and I spent time creating backs out of gifted sheets.  The backs are 64 by 84 and we lay them on a table.  Then we layer the batting.  And then a top that is 60 by 80.  The quilts are tied.  And then the backing is folded up and hemmed.  My job is to cut 10 ½” squares out of donated fabrics and cut offs from sheets.  Another woman takes the squares and lays them out in a pleasing fashion, 48 of them.  Another woman sews up 3 a week but she is in her 80’s and slowing down.  In fact we are all over 70 and one woman is 94.  Sallie irons everything.   She is the best ironer.  And then there is a group of 5 or 6 who tie the quilts. 

Yesterday I spent my time cutting out backings from donated sheets and other fabrics.  One woman was sewing so I would take pieces to her to sew up.  Then I paired up backs with completed tops. 

My suggestion to you, is there a Lutheran church in your community?    Reach out to a Lutheran Church and see if they have a quilting group.  Not all of them do.  If you can find a quilting group, they would appreciate any donation you could give. 

LWR was established after WWII when the German people were impoverished after losing their homes and lively hood.  There is a large contingent of German Lutherans in the Midwest and so they set up an organization to ship needed food and supplies to their families and friends in Germany after the war.  Thanks for being so generous.  

Carol Stearns

Sunday, August 9, 2020


 The explosion in Beirut Lebanon is a real shock to everyone and to a host of Lutherans around the world who make quilts for Lutheran World Relief (LWR).  The explosion took our shipping containers full of quilts, baby layouts and school and personal care quilts that are put together from Lutheran Churches around the world.  You can find out more information here

We work hard at our Lutheran Church making quilts and care kits year round.  

The photos above picture the quilts we make during the year.  Our quilts are collected in August when a truck is sent to a church in Daphne, Al to retrieve quilts from a variety of churches.  We display our quilts in our church to be blessed prior to boxing up and taking to Daphne.  This year the truck isn't coming so we will have to pack up our quilts and store them until something happens.  When we display our quilts in the church, we offer them to sale for the congregation to purchase for $40.  In so doing, we raise funds to purchase needed supplies, like rolls of batting and anything else we may need. 

Of course this is all changing because of Covid 19.  What a dismal thing to have happened in the world but with God's help, we can pull through this.  

If there is a Lutheran Church in your town, maybe you would consider donating excess fabrics, sheets, blankets and such.  We often use blankets and quilted bed coverings as batting.  Our quilts are 60 by 80.  My job is to cut the fabrics into 10 1/2" squares.  In addition, I put the backings together, pulling sheets or fabrics to sew together.  

So instead of taking your used sheets, mattress covers and more to Goodwill, find a Lutheran Church that makes quilts and donate there instead.  With the loss of these quilts and supplies in Beirut, the need is even greater.   

Saturday, August 8, 2020


 So, I've been doing The Scrap Happy Sampler through my local quilt shop, Stitcher's Quest, for about a year.  We are winding down our monthly meetings and I'll be ready.  This sampler was a great opportunity because, as long as you completed your two blocks each month, the next two blocks were free!  Free is good!  The other reason I wanted to do the sampler is because it used the Miss Rosies Cake Mix papers to make all of the half square triangles (HST).  I had never used these papers so this was an opportunity to learn soething new.  Here is a video showing how it is done. 

I think I should have watched the video earlier.  One of the things I keep forgetting is to lower my stitch count.  This helps to keep the stitches from tearing out when you remove the papers.  I remembered to do it this morning but then, I had to make an adjustment and it reverted back to 2.5 and so I forgot to fix it.  Oh, well.  

Another thing I learned from watching the video this morning was to how to easily tear off the papers by pressing them first.  I hadn't done that and it looks so much easier.  If you havent' tried Miss Rosies Cake Mix papers, they are designed for layer cakes!  I dont buy many layer cakes but just recently purchased one on sale from Stitcher's Quest.  Now I"ll be looking for a pattern.  Another nice thing about the papers is that your HST are fairly perfect, no trimming involved!  So if you have to make a lot of HST, its a good investment and almost fun to do.  You do have to trim off those pesky dog ears though.  

Once I get the hang of this blogging 101, I promise lots more pictures!  Until next time, make beautiful quilts, one beautiful quilt at a time!  

Friday, August 7, 2020


So for a few years now, I've been testing quilts for 
Erica very quickly puts designs and writes quilt patterns so I have the opportunity to test quite a few. The most recent was the Iris Quilt and Erica wrote a post on her blog showcasing her pattern testers quilts! Mine is the next to last one on this page When I saw this quilt pattern I instantly thought how perfect it is for scraps! So I pulled all the scraps I could find.  It went together so fast and easy.  I had a very big stack of 2 1/2" strips in the light aqua color and decided to use it for the background sashings.  The quilt cost me zero dollars and when finished, I donated it to my church for a donation quilt to Lutheran World Relief.  Those quilts need to be 60 by 80" so I had to add an additional row.  All in all it turned out beautifully.  I'll likely make another one out of scraps.  I have more of the light aqua strips.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020


I'm still navigating the new blog to try and see how I am going to work this. I am excited to be able to share my quilting and design expertise with you. Now to find some followers. Today I am working on a project where I have to make 480 four patches that measure 2 1/2" square. Its a pattern from a magazine and I'm a sucker for little things like that. Each square requires 4 four patches, 4 2 1/2" squares and 2 4 1/2" squares. Two of the quilters in my guild have passed this year and somehow I inherited 2 bins of fabric an a smaller bin. Most were darks like civil war or thimbleberry and the pattern I'm doing will be perfect to showcase them. I need 120 blocks or more with the parts listed above. I'll post pics when I get a chance to do so. Right now I just want to blog. Making those 480 4 patches is quite a chore. But I'll get there and can use them for leaders and enders while I'm sewing other things. I read somewhere that you should leave quilts and not fabric when you pass away. How many quilters have we known who have passed leaving an enormous stash and several machines. One of the quilters redid her will and named another quilter in it as the person who was to get her sewing room when she passed. The other quilter died suddenly with a recurrence of cancer but she had plenty of quilting friends who were called upon to take the stash and distribute it. I managed to cut quite a few fabrics in 10 1/2" squares to take to my church for Lutheran World RElief quilts. You can find more about that at Then I've taken the remainder and working on cutting the squares for the quilt mentioned above. I'll keep you posted! Until next time, make beautiful quilts! One beautiful quilt at a time!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


So I've been working with Kayla Pins who is Jo Kramer's daughter. Jo blogs at I love reading jo's posts as she is such a caring and generous person. And so far, Kayla has been the same! I have enjoyed working with her. She set up my header and has been very patient with me. Thank you Kayla. I'm hoping she can help me with simple things as well. Like how do I highlight something so that my readers can click on it and go directly to the site? Let me know!