From My Carolina Home

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Late May Morning

It is the last day of May, everywhere the garden and land are all so green!!  The view this morning is sunny and bright.  Last weekend, hubby and I got out on the veranda to scrub it down.  No sense in doing this until the forsythias and azaleas are done blooming due to the layer of pollen on everything.


The rhododendrons are still going, and now the honeysuckle is coming out. I haven’t been into the woods to get those yet, but their sweet scent fills the air. The gorgeous dogwoods have changed from pale green to bright white, lovely! The hostas are getting big and they will bloom later!


Up on the veranda, the flowers are really coming in. The torenias in their baskets are starting to spill over with flowers. A hummingbird came by yesterday but was gone before I could grab the camera.



Here’s the long view of the clean veranda.  The torenia baskets are one to an arch. I moved the little yellow and white striped trumpet flower to the rail to get more sun.


I had to deadhead the geraniums, but they are coming on again for blooming in a few days. There is another torenia in that pot with them. I like the combination of pink and purple together.


The pale yellow petunias and the verbena also seem to be growing bigger. We have has a little rain everyday for the past week or so, so everything is growing! But I still don’t remember what is in the floral ceramic pot, LOL!! Still waiting to see if it blooms!


Enjoy this beautiful day!!  Hi to Joyce, my mother-in-law, who says the flower posts are her favorites.



Leftover Pork Roast Pot Stickers

I pulled out the last of the pork roast to make a new leftover pork roast dish that won’t taste like a leftover.  This Asian flavored dish can be a main entree, or used as an appetizer for a larger group.  Here’s what you need.


One cup of shredded pork, mixed with green onions and teriyaki sauce.


Take a won-ton wrapper and place it on a crimper.  Brush the edge with water.


Add a bit more than a teaspoon of filling


Fold over the crimper and press.  If you don’t have a crimper, just fold them in half, press well with your fingers, then use a fork to crimp the edge.



Trim off the points with a pair of kitchen scissors.


Spray your frying pan with cooking spray, and heat to medium.  Add the pot stickers and allow them to brown on one side.


Turn them over and allow to brown briefly.


Add 3-4 tablespoons of water (I measure mine into a cup and add it all at once)…


then, cover and steam until done, just a couple of minutes.

Serve and enjoy with a little more teriyaki sauce on the side for dipping.  Yum!



Leftover Pork Roast Teriyaki Pot Stickers

1 cup shredded pork

1 tblsp chopped green onion

1 tbsp Teriyaki sauce

36 won-ton wrappers

Cooking Spray


Mix together the pork, green onion and Teriyaki sauce.  Place won-ton wrapper one at a time on a crimper, brush edge with a little water (using your finger), then add a bit more than a teaspoon of filling.  Fold and crimp.  Remove the points with a knife or kitchen shears.  Use a fork to crimp the edges if you do not have a crimper.  Spray your pan with no-stick spray, add the pot stickers and allow to brown on one side.  Turn them over, and allow to brown on second side.  Then add three to four tablespoons of water, cover and steam until done, two to three minutes.


We have now made 5 different meals from one crock pot cooked pork roast. See the recipe page at the top for more recipes and the series on the pork roast.



Work In Progress Wednesday May 28

Working on this Project Linus quilt.  This will be sent to the folks at Fave Quilts for their Project Linus Charity Drive.  I am excited that I was contacted by the editor and will be one of their new contributors!!  I am working on the tutorial for making this quilt, and it will be up in early June.


Did you guess that it has a Farmer’s Market theme?

I need to quilt it and bind it, and then write up the instructions.  So, definitely a work in progress Wednesday!

Happy Quilting!!





Banana Coffee Cake

I have been experimenting with recipes for coffee cake recently and wanted to do something with bananas.   When I have bananas, I usually make banana bread, but this time I wanted it to be lighter and more cake-like, yet substantial enough for breakfast.  My mother-in-law gave me a recipe long ago for a Sour Cream Coffee Cake, and I thought that might just be amenable to a little tweaking.  And indeed it was!!


I served it warm this time, with some of my Scone Cream and a little butter. So here are the basic ingredients.  Ignore the half and half, I didn’t end up using it.  Plus I added some butter flavor shortening instead of using all butter.


Start by combining all the dry ingredients together in a bowl including the spices.  Cream the butter and shortening together well.


A standing mixer helps a lot here.   Then add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.


Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat well after each addition.


Mash two bananas and mix them in well.


Then add 1/3 of the flour mix, then 1/2 of the sour cream, 1/3 of the flour mix, last half of the sour cream and the last third of flour mix. Pour into a bundt pan sprayed with no-stick spray. Bake about 55-60 minutes.   After cooling, I cut mine into fourths and freeze each wrapped in wax paper in one large zipper locking bag.  My husband can polish off a fourth of a cake for breakfast, so he can just defrost one serving at a time.


Just for fun, this Memorial Day weekend, I did a variation.  I only had one banana, but I had a few strawberries left over from a picnic.  So, I cut up the strawberries, mashed the one banana and used the two together as a substitute for 2 bananas.  I used just cinnamon, and left out the cloves and nutmeg.  This time I baked it in a tube pan.  Came out great!  Strawberry Banana Coffee Cake.


Cinnamon Banana Coffee Cake

3 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon (yes, a tablespoon)
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup light sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour and next 6 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Spray a bundt pan with no-stick spray.  Beat butter and shortening together until fluffy, add sugar and beat well.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Reduce mixer speed and stir in bananas until well mixed.  Add 1/3 of the flour mix and mix well.  Add 1/2 of the sour cream and mix well.  Continue with 1/3 flour and rest of sour cream mixing well after each addition.  End with the last of the flour mix and combine.  Pour into a bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 55-60 minutes until top is springy.  Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.


Variation – substitute four or five cut up strawberries for one of the bananas, leave out the nutmeg and cloves.


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Voting is Open at Amy’s Creative Side for Bloggers Quilt Festival

Voting is open at Amy’s Creative Side and you can go vote for your favorites in all the categories.  There are lots of prizes to be won by those who have entered.  If you feel inclined to vote, click on the icon in the sidebar or on the links below.  Thank you Amy for hosting this fun event!!

Just to remind you, I have two quilts entered.  My Miniature Mariner’s Compass is in the Mini Quilt Category.


And my Scrappy Mystery is in the Small Quilts Category.


Go see all the wonderful quilts, a full quilt show on the internet!  Of course, I would love your vote, but the fun is in the show itself.    There are a lot of beautiful quilts to get you inspired this holiday weekend to do some quilting.  Have fun!!


Updated May 31,  didn’t win, not even close.  There were some really wonderful quilts in the show, and you can still see them.  My Mariner’s Compass got only 13 votes.  I think I didn’t make it clear in the picture how small it is.  I think I will enter it again in another show with a different picture to highlight its tiny size.  The scrappy only got a few votes, but it had a lot of competition with some spectacular quilting.  Congratulations to all the winners!!





How to Clean and Care For Your Older Sewing Machine

I have several old workhorse machines in the sewing room.  As I was taking one apart a day or so ago, it occurred to me that this is such an easy thing to do, but most sewing enthusiasts are scared of it.  Truly, if your machine is older, out of warranty, you have nothing to lose by trying to make it run better yourself.  So, here is how to fix an old machine making strange noises, or maintain an older machine so you can continue to get good service from it.


Right now I have two older machines from the 1970s that I am going through for a friend.  He wants to sell them, so I am making sure they run nicely and make good stitches.  One is an old Singer Touch and Sew, the other is a Necchi 535FA.

photo5 SewMachCleanSinger

I’ll also show you my 1972 model Kenmore that I have taken apart many times.  I have serviced several older rough running machines for a charity too, and this method has worked every time.  If this doesn’t fix your problem, then you can take it to a service person, as there may be a broken part.  I have only had to do this one time in more than 30 years of cleaning my own machines.


One caution, if your machine is electronic with lots of computerized goodies, don’t do this unless it is old as the hills and you have nothing to lose.  Electronic machines are quite a bit finickier, and there is more to mess up.  If you cannot easily take the cover off and look inside, leave it to a professional.

In this tutorial, you’ll see three very different machines with one thing in common – the mechanism for almost all machines is the same.  It is a series of gears and pulleys, with some pistons that ride along a bar.  I would guess that the great majority of machine issues are simple dirt and lack of oil and grease in the right places.  Most clunking noises and squealing are simple cleaning issues.  Tension problems and thread breakage are often caused by dirt or stray threads in the bobbin race.

stray thread2

Here are my tools for servicing a sewing machine.  Several screwdrivers, three flat and one Phillips head, a tiny bottle brush, a nylon stiff bristle brush, several kinds of tweezers, canned air, sewing machine oil. and (not pictured) blue gear grease.  New needles are good too.


First, remove the needle and the presser foot.  Raise the presser bar.  Take out the bobbin case.  This will allow us to move the gears without damaging the bobbin case or the presser bar.  Blow out the bobbin case with air, remove any stray threads, and put a drop of oil on the mechanism where the parts slide over each other, keeping it out of the area where the bobbin sits.  I have sometimes used dental floss to clean this area thoroughly.


To safely discard a needle, tape it to a cardboard card (I use the blow in magazine inserts for this), then fold the cardboard in half and tape again.  You will want a new needle after this anyway, so discard one that might be part of your problem.

discardneedle discardneedle2

Next, take off the top cover.  This is usually very easy with only two screws.


The only machine ever to defeat me was my friend Carolyn’s Pfaff, we never did figure out how to get the cover off that one, even with an internet search!  Pfaff just doesn’t want you doing this.  But I have a Pfaff 7570, and I want to be able to service it, so I’ll keep trying.  But that’s another post, LOL!!  Done!!  Click on Pfixing the Pfaff So, locate the two screws that will allow you to lift off the top and unscrew them, setting them carefully where you won’t lose them.  Sometimes one will be under the handle.  I use a little dish to hold the screws.  Do not remove the screw holding the bobbin check in place, it isn’t necessary and is a pain to get back in the right place.


See all those gears and moving parts?  They need to be cleaned off, and regreased or oiled.  I use the blue gear grease.  All those spots where there are parts moving against each other need oil.


Only use sewing machine oil, it is clear and has a low odor, and it will not stain your projects should a drop happen to land on some fabric.   To find where you need to put some oil, turn the hand crank back and forth and watch the moving parts.  If your machine has cams like this one, remove the cam and clean under it too.


Use only a couple of drops in each point.  Use what you need, expect some drips but don’t overdo it.


Sometimes you will find little holes to allow the oil to reach under the moving parts.  Just put a drop in there.  Be sure it is an oiling port, not a set screw (won’t hurt anything just won’t help to put oil on a set screw).


Clean off the rods, oil the parts that move.  There will likely be gunk in lots of places, so use a tiny bottle brush, and a nylon brush to get out the crud.


Once you have wiggled the hand crank, found and oiled or greased all the parts that move against each other, then go to the next area.   In general you will want to grease gears like the picture above, and oil everything else.  With some machines, you will need to get underneath to get to the last rod and piston assembly.  Don’t be afraid.  Just lay the machine on its back, and remove the two screws holding the bottom plate.  My Kenmore doesn’t have a bottom plate, all the parts underneath are easy to reach.


Clean and lubricate the gears and pistons in this area as well.  One caveat, do not get any oil on the belt from the motor to the first gear.  That will cause the belt to slip and your machine will run but not make stitches.  If you think you got oil on it, turn the hand crank while you thread a paper towel under the belt to soak up any oil.  Look around for any other gears or moving parts, remembering to stay away from the motor belt.


Replace the bottom plate, and stand the machine back up.  Pop off the cover over the light bulb.  There is a rod there as well that the piston moves on to make the needle go up and down.


Clean off any gunk, then put some oil on the the piston so it slides easily.  Turn the hand crank to watch it.


When you think you have all of it oiled, plug in the machine and turn it on.  Step lightly on the foot control to listen to it work.  If it sounds smooth, increase the speed.  If you hear a clunking noise, or a squealing, there is something you missed with the oil or grease.  Go back to the hand crank and follow all the moving parts to figure out where the noise is coming from.  Inspect it carefully and remove any gunk, then oil.  Then go back to the foot control, and increase the speed until you are pedal to the floor and the machine is running at its highest speed.


Don’t worry, this won’t hurt it, but it will be sure that all the oil is distributed.  If all sounds good, place a paper towel under the presser bar, and let it sit for a day to allow any excess oil to drain out.  Wipe off the excess oil inside and out so it won’t collect dust and become gunk in the future.  Replace the covers, replace the presser foot, insert a new needle and you are ready to go.  When you are done, thread it with different colors of thread in the top and bobbin and check your stitches.  You can adjust the tensions to create perfect stitches if you know which one is the problem.

I hope you find this useful for your older machines.  The three I have used in this tutorial are all 40 years old or older.  Featherweights are the same for oil and gear grease, except you can only reach the parts from under the machine and on the left side.  My Featherweight still sews beautifully and it is over 70 years old.   The wonderful thing about these older machines is the parts are all metal, and will last forever, unless a gear breaks.


So don’t be afraid to open up your older machine and take a look.  That noise you hear, or the rough running is probably a bit of crud on a gear or a rod that you can easily take care of yourself.

Happy Sewing!!

Linking up with

Serenity Now Weekend Bloggy Reading.

Craftberry Bush Inspiration Gallery

Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes

A Time for Seasons Favorite Things Saturday

Show Off Saturday at Sew Can She

Best of the Weekend at A Little CLAIREification





Block of the Month May 2014

Seems like there is a theme developing.  The ladies at the LQS were hinting about this at the April meeting, maybe we are doing all blocks of earth elements?  I guess I should have paid better attention to that part of the program, LOL!  Anyway, this months block has a real curve ball thrown, as we are to change the colors in the block.  The block chosen for May is called Four Winds, pattern available on Quilt Blocks Galore –

The original pattern has a dark blue background which will change to light grey.  The light grey will be blue.  The red and orange stay the same, but let me warn you this is really easy to mess up!



Once again, I do not like the strip method of sewing HSTs, it is too much start and stop, turn the fabric this way and that.  So, ignore the cutting directions and cut these – 2-1/2 squares, four of orange, and four of white.  Cut 2-7/8 inch squares in the following quantities – 4 red, 4 orange, 6 blue, and 14 white/grey.  Pair up the white/grey with each of the 2-7/8″ colors.  Mark your diagonal lines like we have done before.  Sew the HSTs.



Flip them to the opposite side of the marked line and run them all through the machine to get the other side sewn. Then cut on the line.



Iron them all open with the seam towards the darker color.  Then square them up.  If you need a refresher, click on How To Square Up A Block.


Remember that the blue in the pattern is now grey, and the grey is blue.  So lay it out.


OK, think that is good.  Sew the pieces together in twos, then lay it out again.


Now do two sets of two in rows.  I started on the right.


Add the other set of two to each row and lay it out again.


Pick it up with the rows in order and iron the seams opposing, so you can nest the seams for more accurate piecing.  Lay it out one more time and sew the rows.



And that’s our Block of the Month for May.  See you next month!  Since it is almost all HSTs, I’m also sharing it over at Vicki Welsh’s Field Trips in Fiber HSTeria.