Simple Easy Banana Cake



I was amazed at how good this turned out.  I had a few bananas that was over ripe.  I wanted to use them but didn’t want to make banana bread.  I wanted something fast a quick. This recipe fit the bill.  I am sure this would taste making it with butter cake mix. butter pecan cake mix and other flavors.  Think a little out of the box and make strawberry cake mix with banana for banana strawberry cake mix.

Quick and Easy Banana Cake

Preheat oven 350 degrees and prepare a bundt pan with spray coating.

1 box of yellow cake mix

3 ripe bananas

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Follow the directions in mixing the cake but reduce the water by 1/4 cup.  Mash bananas in a bowl and add baking soda to the bananas.  Add mashed bananas to cake batter and blend.  Pour in prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

This is a very moist cake and has a wonderful banana aroma to it. All it needs is just a dusting a powder sugar.


Blueberry Pie Made From Frozen Berries-Easy and Quick


I see frozen blueberries all the time at the grocery store.  It just never crossed my mind to use them in pie.  Even though I used to pick blueberries when I lived in Ohio and froze them to use for pies years ago.  I usually buy the pie filling already made in cans because I live to far south to grow them.  Because it takes two cans to make a 9 inch pie, blueberry pie is reserved for special occasions.  This time I bought a couple of bags of frozen berries.  I wanted them also for muffins and pancakes.  The 2 for the price of 1 sale also help to convince me to try a pie with commercially frozen berries.

Normally like to make my own pie crust but I picked up a package of pie dough to help make this pie quick and easy.  I knew I wasn’t going to have time to roll out dough.

The pie turned out wonderful.  It tasted better then can filling.  The filling didn’t run all over the place after the pie was baked and cooled.  Each slice held together and was filled with berries.  It only took about 15 minutes to put together before baking.

Blueberry Pie

3 to 4 cups of frozen blueberries

2/3 cups of sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of cold butter

Double pie crust.

In a medium size sauce pan measure out berries.  My berries had a lot of ice so I went with 4 cups.  If you freeze your own berries you won’t need the quite that much.  Add sugar and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until thickened.  Add vanilla and stir.  DSCN1584DSCN1588

I use a pie bird to help vent the pie so it don’t boil over while baking and place on the pie shell before filling.   Fill your pie with warm filling and dot with butter.  I use cold better because it cuts up easier in to little even pieces.  Then I add top.  I use a cookie cutter that I let my youngest grand child press into the crust top before I place it on the pie.  He doesn’t think the pie is ready to bake until he sprinkles colored sugar on it.


I place a pie shield on it and bake on the bottom rack close to the bottom.  The lower rack will make sure your bottom pie crust does not turn out soggy.  The shield keeps the pie crust edges from over cooking.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees then lower the temperature to 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Ovens all cook different so if you bake pies often you know where to set your time and temperature which maybe different from mine.  The warm filling helps it to bake faster.  Cool and serve.


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Sewing Together Batting Scraps



I was taught a technique of piecing batting together so there would not be any waste when I was young.  There was always stories that went along with why this was done.  In the early 20th century women was still carding their own in remote rural areas.  All the trimmings was saved and used from commercial bats by the women I grew up around.  The smallest pieces could be used in stuffing toys and larger pieces would be sewn together in lap quilting as you go. This is a hand technique that I still use today.  I like the process of quilting and tend not to be in a big hurry to finish.  Also the price of batting is very expensive now for a bed size quilt.  I like to stick with one type of batting from the same manufacture.  My favorite is 80% cotton and 20% polyester.  There are several new types of batting made with different fibers that are new to quilting. My choice is because I live in a hot climate and this is a comfortable choice to sleep under.

I decided that I had enough scrap batting that I could use for my sampler quilt.  Since this project is a quilt by section technique, it was an ideal way of using up this scrap.  I have two bags of Fairfield Cotton Classic trimmings.


To sort all of this out. I use an ironing board and iron set on low.  The temperature is just warm enough to smooth out the batting. I don’t want to melt the polyester that is worked into the cotton.  There is enough polly to make this batting easy to needle by hand. It is also soft and breaths so it is ideal for hot climates with cool nights.  Polly you sweat under and cotton is too heavy.  I use my rulers to measure out the size of the block with the pieces that fit together.  I am only going to piece at the most 3 pieces together for my 16 inch block. In this next picture I have 15 blocks sorted out ready to stitch together.


I have chosen black thread and large stitches for illustration. This is a basic a modern taylor tack stitch that is used to add interfacing to suiting.  There are times when iron interfacing will not work.  You don’t have to put a knot in the thread and you use one strand to stitch with.  The two pieces are butted together and not over lapped so make a smooth seam.  This is important if you were hand quilting.  You start by inserting the needle away from you and take one stitch on one side.  You can leave a thread tail.



Now you cross over to the other side and take the same stitch. Pulling the thread gently until the sides butt together.


Continue until you have finished the seam in completed. You can leave a tail at the end and no need to knot it. I use a smaller stitch for this.  I usually do this in front of the TV using a tray for support.  It goes fast and don’t take too long.

This holds the pieces together and will remain that way. Quilting helps hold it in place.  I rough cut the pieces and after it is sew together I will square it up to the size I need.  If I need to I can pull the thread out of the first or last stitch so I don’t have to cut through the thread and keep the tail. You don’t need a long tail just enough so you don’t pull the first stitch out while working with it.

Most of us today have wonderful stitches on our machines that can be used to butt together batting with.  The elastic stitch that goes back and forth is a good choice.  Just set it at the widest and longest stitch length.  I still like doing it by hand in a quilt like this.  A charity quilt I would use my machine.  I want it to feel like it was cut from whole pieces.  There will be plenty of quilting on each block to hold it all together while washing. This is a good technique to know how to do in case you need to add a piece of batting to a special quilt.

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Fabric From The Past-Toile de Jouy


Toile de Jouy simply means “cloth made in Jouy en Josas,” a village in southwest France.  This type of cloth was soon just called by this name even though it was made in other countries. The factory became famous because of it’s monochromatic prints of scenes with people in the French country side.  Come join us as we explore this fabric that began in 1760 and is still produced today even though the original factory closed in 1843.

The factory was founded in 1760 by Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf.  He was a descendant of family of Bavarian dyers.  He was inspired by the traditional Indian printing techniques. In 1686 France banned the Indian fabrics both the import and making of them.  This was not lifted until 1759. France was behind in this technology of this very popular fashion in fabrics. Oberkampf left Germany and started the factory.  Other countries that was printing fabric was England and Netherlands using this technique. The first 10 years of the factory in Jouy-en-Josas, wooden blocks was used in the printing.  The process is explained by:…

For the actual printing process, wooden blocks were carved to reproduce specific patterns in relief. ‘Mordants’(starch, iron aceta or alumna) were then applied on to the wooden block, which was then used to print the prepared cloth . Therefore dyes weren’t directly applied on to the cloth but ‘mordants’ were. After treatment, these ‘mordants’ revealed the desired colors.

After printing, the cloth was rinsed in a vat of cow dung and then washed. In order to reveal the colors on the areas stamped by the ‘mordants’, the cloth was plunged into a vat full of dye, made from madder roots. This process is called ‘garançage’. A range of colors was obtained using this technique: from dark red to soft pink, from black to lilac, violet or brown. Since the background would become pinkish, the cloth was laid out in the prairies to bleach. To print patterns in yellow and blue, the dyes were directly applied on to the cloth. Until 1808 green was obtained by applying layers of blue and yellow. In 1808 Samuel Widmer, Oberkampf’s nephew, discovered a green dye that could be applied directly on to the cloth.

After the finishing touches, a last coating was applied to some of the pieces. This coating was made of a mixture of wax and starch. Once coated the piece was flattened through a hot calender. To give a satin finish, the piece was then smoothed using a machine called ‘lissoir’, which consisted of an articulate arm that would flatten the cloth with ‘marbles’ of agate or crystal.


At first the prints were only of flowers and vases. Brass plates were added to the wooden blocks to give fine detail like stems.  To produce little dots used for shading fine nails were hammered into the blocks. This was called picotage and was used in backgrounds.


This was a very labor intensive process and took time to produce the beautiful cloth that was so fashionable.  In Dublin, Ireland, Francis Nixon developed fabric printing using a copper tube stamped or engraved with the design in 1752. This cylinder system sped up the process of stamping the fabric.  Where block stamping was done to produce a pattern using many different blocks that had to be lined up.  The blocks were usually 10 inches where as copper tubes were up to 45 inches on a tube. This had an advantage of repeating design areas.  It also could produce very fine detail that was not able to do with wooden blocks.

In 1770, Oberkampf started to use the new cylinder printing process and that led to the monochromatic print that his factory was known for and became synonymous for the fabric’s name. It was printed in blue, red and black on white or cream background fabric.


Artist Jean Baptiste Huet in 1783, became art director for the factory.  He designed cameo prints that became lasting signature of this fabric.  He produce idyllic scenes of life during that time period.  He died in 1811 leaving a legacy of design that is still produced today for home decor. Oberkampf died in 1815.


In 1783, King Louis XVI proclaimed Oberkampf to be Manufacture Royale de Jouy because Maria Antoinette was a great supporter of the fabric.  It was very popular among the upper classes. The most famous print was of the process and factory in Jouy-en-Josas. There was other factories in France that produced the fabric in Rouen, Alsace and Nantes. Even Americans loved the fabric.  Benjamin Franklin used the fabric for his home. One of the famous American toiles were cameos of the sons of liberty.  It was entitled “American Presenting at the Alter of Liberty Medallions Her Illustrious Sons.”


People was also fascinated with scenes from far away places like China and India.  The Chines prints was called Chinoiserie fabrics that had Chines characters and oriental scenes.  This fashion also went along with pottery imported from China.  This came from engravings of Jean Baptieste Pillement and Francoise Boucher that had traveled to the Far East.  Almost all of the chinoiserie designs were not orginal and was also copied by ceramic factories from books of engravings.

Today the traditional designs are still being produced and are being used in quilting as well as home decor.  During the 1970’s toile prints were used in fashion fabrics of heat transfer polyester knits.


Reproduction print of print toile by Mary Kovel that I used on the back of a “strippy quilt.” This is in the traditional 19th century colors green, chrome cheddar and madder brown/purple. The triple quilting was also common in the first half of the 19th century.


Strips were also a main fashion in decor during the first part of 19th century. The upper classes set the fashion and ladies would copy it in their quilting.  The result was a quilt that is called a “strippy” by today’s collectors of antique quilts. Lower classes of women didn’t have the homes that they could paint stripes on the walls or furniture that could be covered in striped fabric.  This was their way of decorating their homes fashionably. They would piece from scraps of fabric blocks then join them with strips of fabric to make strips. The backs some times were also pieced with strips of fabric.

We did not manufacture fabric until 1815 which was a coarse white muslin that was called domestic. It was not until 1830 that we started to print fabric.  Strippy quilts was popular from the 1830’s until the Civil War.  Toile continued to show up in quilts after the Civil War mostly in curtain fabric.  Nothing was wasted when it came to fabric because it was expensive.





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Black Forest Cheese Cake



Black Forest Cheese Cake will impress your family and friends.  Only don’t tell them how easy it is to make.  When ever you want a wonderful cake for a special occasion, you can go wrong with this one.  It is made using a chocolate cake mix, cherry pie filling, container of fudge frosting, can of condensed milk and 8 oz. package of cream cheese.  You will also need three 9 inch round cake pans.



To prepare the pans, spray them with vegetable baking spray and line them with parchment paper.  I brush the spray to make sure it is evenly coating the pan .

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix chocolate cake using the directions from the box.  Then divide the batter evenly into the 3 cake pans.

Cream Cheese Filling

1  package (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 can sweeten condensed milk (14 oz.)

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of corn starch

1 large egg

Warm cream cheese to room temperature by putting it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Some times it takes another 15 seconds to take the chill off.  Beat cream cheese until smooth with butter.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until creamy.

Spoon the cheese cake batter in the center of the top of chocolate cake batter in each cake pan .  Don’t worry about it being level and keep it about a inch from the edge.



Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  The cake will be pulled away from the sides of the pan and the cheese cake part may giggle a little in the center but it will firm up as it cools.   Also the cheese cake part will sink as it cools.


Leave in pans until the cake is completely cool.  The parchment paper will make it easy to remove the layers.   You just peel the parchment paper off after you remove the layer from the pan.




Choose the layer with the deepest indent for the bottom layer.  You will want the cheese cake facing up.  You will fill the indent with about half of the cherry pie filling.  Spread some frosting around the edges to keep the filling inside.



DSCN1424 Now add the second layer face down on top of the bottom layer. You will have the 2 cream cheese fillings together with the cherries in between.


Peel the parchment paper off and frost a thin layer of frosting on top.



Remove the parchment paper from the third layer and place on top with the cheese cake facing up.   Frost the sides of the cake with the rest of the frosting.


Finish the top with the rest of the cherry pie filling.  This makes a really tall cake.  You may have to hold it together by inserting drinking straws to keep it from sliding around.  Just cut 3 straws a little shorter then the height of the cake.  Just push them in evenly spaced in a triangle from the top.  This will hold the cake together.  I didn’t have to do this time because it was sitting straight.



Chill and serve.  My family kept waiting for me to photograph this so they could eat it.  It didn’t make it to the refrigerator until it was a quarter gone.


One container of frosting only covers it with a thin coating so if you want a thicker coating it will take 2 containers.


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Rising Sun Quilt Block-Sampler Quilt



This is the last block in this 19th century sampler quilt.  The block is the Rising Sun from the period just before the Civil War.  It was one of the few block patterns that had a name during that period.  I looked for a long time for this pattern on the internet but could not find a free pattern for it.  I was also having a hard time locating a pattern for it in my collection that was not a large size block.  I did find a 13 inch block pattern for the rising sun.  I had to redraft it to fit in a 12 inch finished square. I then printed it out on artist tracing paper so I could paper piece it. It is an easy design to paper piece.


I made four copies of this on artist tracing paper.  I cut out the eight pieces.  This pattern is worked in sections.  I marked the light and dark sections and numbered them in the order that they would be paper pieced.  That kept me organized and less likely to make a mistake in order.  I finished the sections.


This is how they are assembled. I had to hand baste them first because of how stiff the pieces are with paper in them.  I needed the lines to follow the curve so I did not pull the paper out until after they were assembled.  Also hand basting allows me more control over how the points are worked in. I didn’t have the time to fiddle with all the diamonds so they were perfect.  I rather liked the rustic look of the piece and some of that will quilt out and not be noticed.




It was time to make the center.  I used a round small bowl that was the right size to draft the circle. The paper was pulled off of the back of the center sections before I started. I left the paper on the outer sections so I would have a line to follow later.  Then I pinned it in the center to applique. I turned under the edges as I pinned.  I will make sure my points are nice and pointy and the circle will not be perfectly round but close.  If I did it a perfect circle some of my points would be cut off or not touching the center which is more noticeable then a slightly wonky circle.



I used a round 10 inch plate to make my next pattern piece.  I traced the curve on a corner of a piece of paper leaving plenty of space for squaring up the block.  I also used one of the sections as a guide for the size. Remember in the 1840’s women used what ever they had to help make a curved pattern.  They figured it out even with out being able to read or write. A string and a couple of pins could make an arch.  You could even score the paper with the pin if you didn’t want to attempt it with a pen.


I sewed the 4 sections together and checked to make sure the circle was the right size to fit around the block. It was a little too big so I took a bigger seam to correct that.  Sorry about the smug on the lens but I did want to show that all you do is lay it down over your block.  You will be able to tell because you need the circle to be smaller then where the points end.



I sewed the curve by basting it first.  You don’t have to baste but I like to have all my points sharp and this way works well for me.  I don’t have all those pins to worry with as I sew.  I just follow my thread line.  I pulled the rest of the paper off after I was done.  Steamed pressed it and squared it up to 12 1/2 inches.



Now I will start on the quilting.  I will sash these blocks and layer them with backing.  I plan to do this in sections and bind them together.  There is  30 blocks in this quilt.  When I am done the quilt will be queen size.

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Carolina Lilly Quilt Block – Sampler Quilt



I needed more novelty blocks for my sampler quilt to give it more visual appeal.  I actually didn’t want to do any applique blocks in the series because I feel that technique needs to be taught in several lessons.  So that will make a future diary series for our group at a later time.  This is a pieced block of stylized flowers that was made in the 19th century and has stayed popular through the 1930’s.  It is still a pattern that is well loved even today.  Many like to make this pattern as a red and green quilt that can be used for Christmas.

In Barbara Brackman’s book,”America’s Printed Fabrics 1770-1890,” she features a pattern call Cactus Rose.  She also shows the original block in turkey red and green fabrics from the 1840-1860 time period. Carolina Lilly is very similar to this pieced flower. You can see this quilt on the back cover of her book pictured on this blog with a great book review of “America’s Printed Fabrics 1770-1890.”…

In Brackman’s Civil War Quilts, there is some history on the Carolina Lilly block. There is a nice picture of that block from that period farther down the page.…

The National Museum of Natural History has a wonderful picture of a quilt from 1840-1860 of a Carolina Lilly quilt.  If you click on the picture you will get a full page picture.  You can see the turkey red fabric now has white holes in it.  The black dyes then contained metals that oxidized and ate through the cotton. I have chosen some turkey red fabrics that have been reproduced from that period for my quilt block


Pinterest also has a wonderful picture of a 1870’s quilt.…

I did find the Carolina Lilly pattern that could be down loaded for free in a PDF file.  Make sure you use the 12 inch finished block.  I also used the 13 inch pattern for my half squares then squared them up as I went along.  I found that I needed the extra because they were hard to set in with y seams. You have a choice of the two pattern sizes.

Pattern for Carolina Lilly…

PDF for 12 inch finished block.…


You can still use your rotary cutter by laying the pattern pieces under the plastic ruler. I also scissored cut some of mine because I was using small scraps.


You start with laying out your lilly and sewing together the petals. Check closely your 1/4 inch seam allowance as you sew.  Even with careful checking the biases will hard to make each flower the size you want them to be.  I used the 12 in pattern for these pieces in this pictures.




The next step is the most challenging of this pattern.  You have to set in the background pieces.  That is done with a Y seam.  In my last diary there was a great video showing how to sew hexagons with Y seams.  I used this same technique with these.



Setting in those background pieces took the longest time to do.  After that everything went together at a normal sewing speed.  I did find that later I had to replace a couple of them with a larger piece to square up right.  Those did go in easier then the first ones. The next step was to sew the two large background half squares.



Now that is done, it is time to applique the stems to the center background block. I pin them down as I folded the edges under.  Actually that was fun after doing those Y seams and was a nice break.  I was able to press them with an iron so the edges stayed under while sewing.  I used a tiny little blanket stitch on my sewing machine and green thread that matched.  I have speed setting on my machine so I slowed it down at first until I had a feel for it.  I am very pleased as to how it turned out. You can’t see the stitching. It certainly made me feel better after those crappy Y seams.


The two other lilies was sewed to the center block to complete row two. I used my rotary cutter to square up the bottom of the first row and the top of the second row before I sewed them together.  They went together nicely on the first try. The basket half square also went on with out to much trouble. The basket weave print is also a reproduction of a fabric from the mid 19th century.



The block squared up to 10 1/2 inches at this point.  I think the pattern wanted it to be smaller.  That really isn’t a problem because the last few pieces can be squared down.


I laid the next pieces out and thought about how I would make this fit into a 12 1/2 inch unfinished block.  The basket fabric is very busy so looking at it I knew no one would notice the bottom point cut off when I sewed the two bottom pieces to the basket.





The bottom half square was sewed on cutting the bottom of the point off the basket. It looks nice and no one will ever know that was not the way the pattern went. It squared up to the size I wanted.


I am real pleased with it.  The colors actually looks better then in the pictures.  I was doing this at night and the pictures doesn’t show how well all the shirting and various red and greens work together.  I am keeping with the scrappy theme of the quilt.

I will only have 2 more blocks to do for the next diary.  I will be searching for something interesting to add to this quilt to finish it off. Then I will show you how I sometimes quilt my quilts.


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