Floral cabin – Part 1 Quilting Design

My aunt and cousin made a king size quilt and I offered to do the quilting. As usual I had some general ideas, but not a specific design in mind.

The quilt is a log cabin with a pinwheel setting.

Log cabin

I drew out some sample blocks and started drawing. I knew I wanted feathers in the cream section, but what should I do in the colored sections.

1st idea: Double feathers. I really like how it looked, but I think its too many feathers (yes, I really did say that).

Double Feathers

2nd idea: Replace one of the feather sets with some swirls. I really like this one, and it may be a keeper. But, wasn’t quite singing to me.

Feathers and swirls 3rd idea: Feather wreath. And although I really like how it looks. My wreaths still need a lot of work. And being such light fabric you would see all my learning. I think I’ll save my practice wreaths for a busier quilt.

Feather wreath4th idea: Feathers and continuous curve. OH YEAH! That sings to me!

Feathers and continous curvesNow I just need to load the quilt and get started quilting this baby!!!


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Not Quite as Easy as Apple Pie

So I can’t remember how it came about, but Mr. Steam suggested that I make a lemon meringue pie. And being that…

  1. I LOVE lemon meringue pie and
  2. I am almost always up for a culinary challenge

I said SURE!!!!! I knew that lemon meringue pie could be a little challenging. So I did a bunch of research on line for different methods and recipes.

I settled on using Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network. I had remembered watching his show and him going through the science of both the lemon custard and the meringue. The viedo was even attached to the recipe! Yeah!

A while later, THIS came out of the oven.

lemon meringue pie

Two most beautiful pies!!!! Now I just had to wait for them to cool off to see if I had pie or soup.

Alas, after dinner when the pie was served, we had lemon soup. Mr. Steam and I still enjoyed it. And declared that a do-over was REQUIRED!!!!

And don’t ask my why. But this semi-failed attempt at a lemon meringue pie inspired me to try and make a pie a week this year. (I know completely logical right?) But no, not a pie a week for the rest of the year. No, that would be too easy. 52 pies this year.

Yep. I am a nut.

But, I did grant myself some gimme’s.

  1. Savory pies (chicken pot, etc) count!
  2. It can be a pie I have made before. It doesn’t have to be a new to me recipe.
  3. The pies I already made this year also count (HA! Remember the 9 pies I made for pie day?!)
  4. Tarts count!
  5. If it has pie in the name it counts!

Now lets see if I can pull this pie challenge off!!!!

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Mommy’s Favorite Thing

Both my kids love to craft. I have NO idea where they get that from. And now they have been making crafts specifically to give to other people. Again, no clue where that comes from.

But this one really struck me. N decided to make book marks for everyone in the family. He put each person’s favorite thing on their bookmark.

Mr. Steam got Star Wars characters.

Ms M got dinosaurs

N got a steam train

And this is what I got. I knew what it was right away. Do you know?

Millie BookmarkWell?

Its Me. Sewing with Millie.

Sweet boy!

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National Railroad Museum

Poor Mr. Steam. His train passion doesn’t get nearly as much air time here as my quilting and cooking do. Of course he could get more air time if he posted.

Ok, I’ll wait while you catch your breath from laughing.


Our spring break was this last week and we decided to just take a short trip up to Green Bay. Nothing big. A few days at a water park, maybe a tour of Lambeau Field, a visit to the National Railroad Museum.

We love the museum. We usually make a quick stop on the way up to my favorite place to vacation – Door County. But, it’s always a QUICK stop. This trip we actually spent quite a bit of time there and everyone had a blast.

When you first come in the museum there is a room where they display their temporary and traveling exhibits. In the past the exhibits are a hit or miss for me. My favorite was a display of railway dinnerware. Ah-maze-ing!!!!

But my jaw about hit the floor when I walked in the room. I was a display of toy trains. And not just any old toy trains. But the Lionel Enameled trains. MY VERY FAVORITES!!!!!

Lionel Enameled Trains Lionel Enameled Trains - Milwaukee Road 04-07-2015 Lyonel enamel trains (7) Lionel Enameled Trains

And N wanted to pose with “Mommy’s favorite train – BIG BOY!”Lionel Enameled Trains and a Big BoyThe pictures just don’t do them justice. They are so wonderful. I would love to have just one set for display. (They are too big to run on our layout.)

Next up is the display room with the full size trains. And front and center is the star! The BIG  BOY 4017. This is my favorite train. It is so huge. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to hear / see one run.

Big Boy - 4017We also got to see the newly restored Dwight D Eisenhower. This engine and the cars were used by General Eisenhower as his command train during WWII. It sure looks great! What an incredible piece of history.

Dwight D EisenhowerThey also had a very revealing display about the Pullman Porters and their struggle to organize a labor union. I am not sure Mr. Steam would have been able to get a birth set up nicely. Grin.04-07-2015 daddy in a pullmanWe skipped the engines in the outdoor shed as I was feeling under the weather and it was a cold and blustery day. So we headed over to the depot that they have set up for the kids. We haven’t been able to visit this before. I didn’t get any pictures here as I was having too much fun watching the kids play. They have a pretend steam engine that the kids can shovel coal and be an engineer. There are dress up clothes to add to the experience. There’s also a wooden train table and train set. And even some large train cargo cars that the kids can load with livestock and other goods. And we didn’t notice until we were on the way out they have a big table with a train game all set up to play. We’ll have to do that next time.

If you are ever in Green Bay and looking for something to do with the kids, I highly recommend stopping by!

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Prepping the Next Generation!

One thing I love about my son is he wants to TRY everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. (not food-wise believe me, that is a challenge!). He sees me or Mr. Steam do something and HE wants to do it.

He used to sit for an hour or longer and watch Mr. Steam work on cars in the garage. That is until he was old enough to fetch tools or even help.

When he turned 3 he would go fix his cozy coupe or his trike. He put it up on blocks first. Because, you know that’s what you do, then he’d go get tools and fix it.

Trike on blocks 05-10-2010 cozy coupe on blocks 03

When he was only 4 he changed out the training wheels on Ms M’s bike all by himself.

Fixing Ms M's training wheelsSo why all this talk about tools and helping Mr. Steam? Because this spring break N asked if he could learn to sew. Please.

Sew? Please? The angels sang!

Of course my dear you can learn to sew. How about a pillowcase? Would you like to pick out your fabric?


So off he and I went to my local quilt shop. The plan had been to pick out 3 fabrics to make one pillow case.

That was the plan.

But, it turns out that N is a fabric shopper like me. So instead we got fabric for THREE pillow cases and the quilt for his bed in the new camper.

Pillow case 1 – Monster Truckspillow case 1 - Monster Trucks

Pillow case 2 – Construction truckspillow case 2 - construction trucks

Pillow case 3 – Packerspillow case 3 - Packers

Quilt – Packers. This is actually awesome. He had requested a packers quilt for his camper bed. My plan had been to get plain green fabric and applique on white to make it look like a football field, and then make football and packer blocks to go around the edge. But N found this panel, which will totally save time!!!! And he loves the packer fabric. PERFECT!Ns Camper quilt fabric

First thing we had to deal with was the foot pedal. N couldn’t reach it and the sewing table from the chair. So we found a box that was just the perfect height.

Raising the foot pedal

So first, I had him practice sewing some straight lines. I had just coincidentally read a post on Quilts of Love where Margaret was teaching her daughter to sew. She thought it would be easier for a kid to follow a drawn line than line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the foot. That was a slap me in the head moment. One of those things that should have been SOOOOO obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it.

We did 2 lines. One with a sharpie that was FAT and BLACK. Super easy to see. The second one was with a blue wash out pen. He did great. And as you can see, was super excited.

Pratice seams Pratice seamsNext up was the actual pillowcase. I did all the ironing, cutting and pinning. I am not quite ready to let him at the rotary cutter. But he did EVERYTHING else.

First up – The cuff seam

Sewing the cuffcuff doneNext the French seams to make the case. What a ham!

Sewing the French seamsAnd here’s the proud creator of his very own pillow case!!!!

Finished PillowcaseHe was all ready to go to make his next one, but we really had to get shoe shopping. The boy’s toes were literally coming out of the front of his shoes. Besides we have to save a project for next weekend!!!

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QOV #2 for 2015 – Letters Home

I love this QOV quilt. Normally the QOV tops are sent to me by our awesome coordinator, but this time I was able to pick them out and take them home during our long arm guild meeting. They were all ready to take home in large zip top bags, so I couldn’t really see the pattern. But I did try to pick out ones that looked like they had lots of negative space so I could play.

This one was quite a surprise when I got it home and opened up the bag. Each block was designed to look like an open envelope with a letter home in it. How AWESOME is that?!

Letters home

The only problem was I was STUMPED as to how I should quilt it. I really wanted to show off the envelopes. So I didn’t want to create a secondary pattern. Which meant thinking INSIDE the box block.

For the sashing I considered writing different words. But not having been in the military myself, I was worried that I might pick words that either weren’t meaningful, or worse actually caused offense. So I put that idea aside.

But these are letters right? And letters have to go thru the post right? So they get post marked! I could make a post mark shape in the sashing! That would keep with the spirit of the quilt! Awesome!


Now, what to do in those darn blocks. I really didn’t want to do anything elaborate in the envelopes. 1) I didn’t want to do a bunch of color changes and 2) I really wanted them to stand out as envelopes.

I could just do a fill in the white space. But that would be sooooo plain.


I could do different fills. But there were 63 blocks on the quilt. No way I wanted to come up with 63 different fills.

Now what?! Dang it.

Well, there were nine blocks per row. 9 different fills are totally doable. Then I could just do those fills randomly on each row. I liked that idea. It would give me good pratice on different fills. I wouldn’t get bored. AND it would give good variation to the quilt. Yea, that’s the ticket!

1. Radiating linesradiating lines

2. McTavishingMcTavish

3. Pebblespebbles

4. Clam shellclamshell

5. Paisleypaisley

6. Swirlsswirls

7. Diagonal linesdiagonal lines

8. Stipplestipple

9. Lineslines

only one problem. I have issues with random. Um, well, you see, I am an engineer by training. Mechanical Engineer specifically. We like things in order, very precise order. Random? Ug, gives me the shudders!

Why? Well what happens if I am randomly picking my designs and two adjacent blocks end up with the same pattern?! ARGGGGGGG! The horror! Disaster! (Well at least in my head).

So what did I do, the same thing I always do when I am working on a “random” quilt. I plan the randomness! That’s right. Hey, I have to cope with my issues somehow!

So I made a mini layout. And planned out what fill would go in each block. I put this on the top of the quilt as I was quilting and used it as my guide. As I finished each row I would cross it out so I wouldn’t forget which row I was on. It worked like a dream! And kept my  in check. Yea, yea I know I don’t have to do this. But really it keeps me from being all wierded out, and the 5 minutes it took to do this was worth not fighting in my head the whole time.

layout sheet

I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Its rained for the last 3 days, so I couldn’t lay the quilt out on the grass, or anywhere in the yard for that matter. But, hey, what about on Hubs military jeep? HA! Sure.

Letters home

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Ms. M is having a hard time recognizing her numbers and letters. She can tell you what letter almost any word starts with, but recognizing them written is a challenge.

I am pretty sure its because there are tons of more fun things she’d rather be doing. So, how do I make numbers and letters more fun?

Add DINOS!!!!! Trust me on this one!

First off I went thru M’s dino bins and found all of her tiny dinosaurs.

Pile o dinosI took ten of them and wrote 0 – 9 on them. Then I made a little velcro bag to store them.

Dinosaur LettersThen I took another batch and wrote A – Z. These got a zipper bag.

Dinosaur NumbersNow Ms M can’t wait to do her “homework!” And yep, her dino hat is keeping a close eye on her!

Dino Numbers

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First Quilt of Valor for 2015 – Finished!

Last time I showed you this quilt I had promised myself I wouldn’t work on it so I could get all our tax forms pulled together.

One of the things that I hadn’t been able to decide on for the quilting design was the border. I love piano keys. So I decided to go with that. But I wanted to mix it up some so I added some candy ribbon in every other key.
Quilt of Valor

This really took a long time to quilt out. There was quite a bit of stopping and starting until I could find a good quilt path. But it was sooooo worth it. Don’t you think?
Quilt of Valor

I really like all the texture that it added without detracting from the piecing.
Quilt of Valor
Quilt of Valor

I am so happy with how the finished quilt turned out. And I can wait for show and tell with our guild, because another guild member is quilting the same quilt in a different colorway and we both wanted to see what different ideas we would have come up with.

Quilt of Valor

Now I need to get the second QOV quilt loaded and get started on that one!!!

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Finished by the Skin of My Teeth

Ms M and I have been talking about getting her tooth fairy pillow made because any day now her teeth were going to start wiggling. But there has always been so much to do that we just never got around to getting fabric and a design finished.

Well, lo, one of Ms M’s teeth got wiggly this week. Eeek! We had better get rocking on that pillow. Ms M and I had already discussed that she wanted a dinosaur tooth pillow. Earlier she had picked out one shaped like a brachiosaurus. But, unlike N who will make up his mind and keep it that way for years, Ms M’s ideas are much more like the wind. They flit about here and there, and you never know where they will end up.

So on the way to the fabric store the conversation went like this:

Me: M what kind of tooth pillow do you want?


Me: (thanking that the car windows didn’t blow out due to the volume of Ms M’s response) What kind of dinosaur do you want?

M: A parasaurolophus!

Me: (groaning internally, you just had to ask didn’t you! You couldn’t have lead with “do you want a brachiosaurus?” No, of course not, you had to lead with an open ended question). Ok. What color did you want it?

M: Um……… Red and green

Me: (Mentally slapping head. It’s going to look like Christmas!) Ok, well lets see what we can find when we get to the fabric store.

So Ms M and I hunt around and acutally find a red and green fabric combination that would work without looking Christmas-y. And then we find the PERFECT fabric. A teal, yellow, and green polka dot that SCREAMS dinosaur to both of us. But it wasn’t going to work with either the red or green that had already selected.  But then we found a deep blue sorta wood grain that was perfect. So off to check out we went and an hour or two later Ms. M had her tooth pillow.

Dino tooth pillow - back Dino tooth pillow - front15 space

And although we got it done before Ms M lost her tooth. It was all for naught. Because Ms M LOST her tooth. I mean really lost it. She doesn’t know when or where it came out. Oh well there’s always the 2nd tooth!

1st Tooth

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How to Celebrate Pi Day in Style!

March 14 may be the best geek day of the year. Why? Because its 3.14 which is also Pi.

But this year was extra special because it’s 2015 so this year’s Pi day was 3.1415! Sa-weet.

Oh, but wait! It gets even better. If you wished someone “Happy Pi Day!” at 9:26 with 53 seconds… then you’d have 3.141592653! A whopping 9 decimal Pi celebration!

So, to honor this once in a century event, Mr. Steam and I concocted the best all day Pi menu. Could we get to 9 digits in one day?

  1.  Ham and swiss quiche (aka egg pi)
  2. Broccoli and cheddar quiche 15 space
    Quiche aka Egg Pi Before

    Ready for the oven

    Quiche aka Egg Pi

    Ready to eat

    15 space

  3. Chicken Pot Pi – I thought the crust decoration was appropriate!15 space
    Chicken Pot Pi Before

    Ready for the oven

    Chicken Pot Pi

    Ready to eat

    15 space

  4. Spinach pi (bonus that this is one of Mr. Steam’s all time favorite meals)Spinach Pi
  5. Pizza pi – this was made much easier by getting the dough pre made from our favorite pizza place. All we had to do was roll out the dough and add our favorite toppings. We like doing it this way because everyone gets to make their own.
    15 space


    Ready for the oven


    Ready to eat

    15 space

  6. Pasty – OK, technically we didn’t make them, we just got them out of the freezer from our last pasty making extravaganza. But I am still counting it, because we got them out ON pi day.15 space
    Not Your Normal Steam - Cornish Pasty

    ready for the oven

    Not Your Normal Steam - Cornish Pasty

    Ready to eat

    15 space

  7. Banana Cream pi – Mom has been craving these recently, and we didn’t want her to be left out of the celebration, so the Mini Steams and I made these and dropped them off at her house. The Mini Steams helped make the pudding and did the assembly.Banana Cream Pi
  8. Ice cream pi – the kids won’t eat fruit pi, so we made these with two of the mini graham cracker crusts.Ice Cream Pi
  9. Raspberry pi – this is my all time favorite pi. I was worried that taking out a whole part of the crust (like I did with the chicken pot pi) would be a problem, so I just cut the shape. It turned out awesome.15 space
    Raspberry Pi Before

    Ready for the oven

    Raspberry Pi

    Ready to eat

    15 space

We did it! NINE, count ’em NINE, different Pis!

Sure there are plenty of pis that we could have made, shepard’s pi, steak and mushroom pi, key lime pi, blueberry pi. The list goes on and on of both savory and sweet pis that we love here in the Steam house, but although both Pi and our love of pi is infinite, we had to draw the line arc somewhere.

A friend of mine suggested we should have had a pirate next to the two chicken pot pis, because then we would have had 2 pi arrrrrrrr. Mr. Steam upped the anti and said that the pirate should have had a square head. Since we missed that opportunity, Mr. Steam has declared that we also have to have pie on talk like a pirate day. I can’t say that I will complain about that!!!!

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