Mar 31, 2012

It's Official

March's Little Quilt is officially done. Machine pieced...hand quilted, washed to a lovely crinkle and bound.
Thank you Cheri Payne for giving us Apple Brown Betty as your blog project for March. I loved making it, complete with planned Cheri- like "mistakes". There is even a make-do in one of the star blocks. Can you find it? Pam Buda would be proud!
I am still trying to work up the courage to grunge my Betty up a bit. I know Cheri would approve; I just want to make sure I will do Betty justice with my staining technique. Now on to next month's challenge(s). What will it (they) be??

Mar 30, 2012

Not so good with the words these days!

I seem to be having difficulties across multiple platforms this week:

1. I couldn't string several sentences together to make a readable post.
2. My wireless router went AWOL. Not physically, but it has disappeared from my "preferred network" settings and I can't figure out the correct way to get it back.
3. Because of #2, my laptop is virtually useless
4. My iMac told me today it was set at a date earlier than March 30th. Really?? I went in to take a look and not only is it not set for March, the year it shows is 1903!! I don't even think apples had parts back then-- you just picked them and ATE 'em.

So I thought that I would show you what i decided to do this morning until I felt like getting some of these issues fixed (success with #3- the other 2 will have to wait!).

Behold! It is beginning to feel like spring in this abode!!

The bunnies (and the good old memories they carry) came out of hibernation:

Mr. Carrots is one of my favorites! How many of us had those Martha Washington bedspreads on their beds growing up (or even past growing up!)?

This little bunny basket works well on my very spring like little quilt:

Remember when venues like the Folk Art Craft shows used to travel the country and make a stop in your neck of the woods with just the best stuff ever? What ever happened to those good ole days. This was a Folk Art Fair purchase and I still love the heck out of him. I have a feeling my train obsessed grandson may too!

One of the first wool rabbits I ever bought. He is very at home on top of my wooden quilting box (and yes, I made those little blocks in the 4 windowed sides). He takes the place of the pincushion I haven't permanently placed onto the top:

These little fluffy guys were made back in the early 80's when you could get those fuzzy, pastel colored ankle socks! The yellow one was for my son, and the pink one my eldest daughter (yes, yes...I hear the collected awwwww's! Such a good mommy). Poor third child lost out. No pastel ankle socks in the late 80's!! These relics are a bit scruffy now-a-days, but I love them like crazy (kind of like my kids!).

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The dining room got decked out in its finery and the table is starting to look festive:

Even the kitchen got a few little touches. Don't want to over do the rabbit thing! This little glass dish is just the touch for the long counter and may get some jelly beans. Yellow of course- my favorites. Then again, maybe not!!

Thanks for following me through the downstairs of the house. I think surrounded with all these smiling critters one can't help but feel better. Even The Husband commented that the house looked "pretty". I'm glad.


Mar 23, 2012

Overflowing Basket of Blessings

(Basket #3 of Temecula Quilt Shop's sew along)

I'm back and want to extend a heart felt thank you for all the comments/email messages etc. while I took some time away from the blog. I hope I had the chance to personally let you all know what a day brightener they were, and especially hope that I didn't forget anyone. If I did, know that you and your offers of help and good wishes are very much appreciated. This has been a quiet week, thankfully, and I am looking forward to more quiet weeks without unforeseen stress added to the daily doses dished out. As most of you are aware of, my husband is fighting a fairly aggressive form of lung cancer, and while we face each day with as much of a smile as we can muster and with what his oncologist calls SPUNK (!) there are times when life will force me into the background. In the meantime, each day brings a new blessing and those are the things I reach out to grab. I intend to make my basket(s) runneth over so to speak.

With The Husband back in chemotherapy after last week's hospital stay, I have concentrated time weekly to hand quilt. I've been steadily hand quilting my Apple Brown Betty designed by Cheri Payne, and should be finished with that shortly. Why I felt it necessary to use a million and one pins in this small top is beyond me- surely it was totally unnecessary and I curse myself every time my thread gets caught up on a safety pin. Live and learn. Before the 80* March weather (what's with that!?) hit upstate NY, I was spending The Husband's nap times in the sewing room across the hall. It made me feel better and I enjoyed stitching away. It is truly my stress reliever and happy place. It's a big reason why I am getting things done in a way I've never been able to before. It's been a very long time since I've been home 7 days a week, and the "retired housewife" label is fitting well, thank you very much. Sewing, cooking, decluttering and cleaning the house, puttering in the garden, how can one complain about such simple things? This is almost how I envisioned retirement, just didn't count on the little quirk of fate.

Besides all the small projects I've been musing about over the last few posts (and no, I didn't forget- I will blog about that closet and the fabric storage units soon!)I pulled out my Folk Art Album kit to arrange the applique on the blocks, and have them ready to hand stitch. The applique is wool on a flannel background. I bought the kit from Lisa Bongean (Primitive Gatherings)in Paducha. That was either the 2007 or 2008 quilt show, not sure which. Either way, it was a long time ago, and I have 3 blocks finished. Since this year I am hell bent on getting my older and larger projects (in various stages of completion) finished up (in between the newly started ones, of course), this was my first pick. Sewing nights this week have concentrated on making the 105(at least I hope that is all) 1.5" HSTs needed to set the 12 main blocks. I am loving it, and am happy with my decision to do as much as I possibly can during the quiet times. What do you think of it? Sweet, no?

(Forgive the badly placed row- I just threw it on the design wall over another large project that should be next on the list of must finish!!)

Mar 13, 2012

Be Back Soon

Having to take a short Life Break. Will be back with you all soon!
Keep on stitching


Mar 11, 2012

Designer Stalking

I'll get to my designer stalking in a minute, but before I admit to past transgressions, I think I'll show you the little baskets I've already talked about.
Each Thursday, Temecula Quilt Company puts up a new basket for the Blessings Sew-Along. This week we were presented with this wee endeavor:

It plays along nicely with the past week's block, don't you think?

Yesterday, I decided it was time to organize the sewing room closet, and actually make a plan for all that wool I've accumulated. I caught the Crazy Wool bug when it got started last year (or was it two?) thanks to this book. I love working with wool and have a good sized stash of it. HA! Good sized?? That is an understatement from what I discovered yesterday. But it all has a home now- and it just took some elbow grease, some moving of storage drawers and reorganization of the scrap baskets (yes! baskets)and my current stalled large scale projects. As you can see from the way my posts have been going, little is doable for me right now. Not so sure about those larger civil war era blocks that gave me fits even on a good day. Why is it I don't blink an eye at a 5" or 4" or even a 3" block but throw me a 10" or 12" and I get flustered?? I definitely need some quilting therapy to figure that one out.

As I was doing that move it around, organize/dump/find a new home for it and the all important: "Yes, that looks good there" (come on, admit it, we all do that- don't we?? Yes, say "yes"!), I came across a baggie with the remnants to this project:

I just need to make 2 more little star blocks and then the top is finished. This is a Lori Smith pattern (I tried linking you,but google wouldn't connect to her pattern company, sorry!) by the name of Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too, and is one of her Four Plus One Equals Fun series. You chose four prints plus one background (in fat quarters).From these you make not only the top, but the pieced back AND the binding. How is that for some fat quarter fun. It's not like we don't have a ton of those (is it?? right???). I am hoping to piece the stars later today and the have another little project ready for quilting. Not so sure I'll hand quilt this one.

And now it is confession time!
For years I have been an avid admirer of Bonnie Blue Quilts. I adore reproduction quilts and work almost exclusively in repros, so the Bonnie Blue patterns are high on my list of must haves. I have a good many of their patterns and was overcome with joy when Paula Barnes started designing fabrics. The year I went to Paducha was made even more amazing because the gals from Bonnie Blue were there, with tons of samples- so many I thought my eyes would pop out of my head for sure! I went to their booth every day while the show was running. Some days I went back numerous times just to stand and stare. I bought a kit and lovingly brought it home, where it is still hermetically sealed in its holder. The following year, I returned to Paducha with one thing and one thing only on my mind (besides hitting up Hancock's of Paducha!) and that was to find Bonnie Blue. It was easy enough...and I went to the booth every day. Some times multiple times a day. I stood there and stared. I fondled fabric. I bought a kit. Do you see a behavioral pattern emerging?? The following year The gals came to my neck of the woods, to the Vermont Quilt Festival. I sought out the booth on opening night (OK, so I ran like hell!), I stood and I stared. I fondled fabric. I bought a know the drill by now. I returned to the booth multiple times through out the show. I stood...I know where this is going (but I only buy one large kit a year!). So as time has gone on, I've gotten 3 kits, yards of fabric and pounds worth of paper patterns. Then came Paula Barnes' Cotton Club! Oh. MY. Goodness.
Are there words for the happiness I felt hearing about this block of the month. Could I really give myself permission to collect one more project from Bonnie Blue and Paula? I wrestled with myself- that is until the day I was at my LQS and the shop pack had just arrived. Evil, evil women...they gave me a discreet sneak peek,and I immediately asked to be shown the dotted line just waiting for my signature! So without much more chatter (and no more stalking) I give you my first six Cotton Club blocks:

Happy Stitching and thanks for bearing with me- I got long winded today.
Perhaps tomorrow we'll take a little tour of the sewing room (and the wool closet!). I'd love to show it off before it looks like there was a fabric explosion once again!!


Mar 9, 2012

Oh Yes I Did!

I think that title is a double exclamation!! Last night I finished setting the little civil war baskets, my March little quilt (monthly challenge). I am very happy with how it turned out, and happy that I gave myself permission to use "that green". That is my second "oh yes I did"!! I have been hoarding this piece of fabric for what seems like forever. I love this green. I love any of the old historic greens- the ones a quilt friend calls my puke greens.
Why oh why can't we find more of them?? The bright almost ugly greens of yore?? I guess for the same reason it gets harder to find homespuns and brushed cottons- the larger community isn't quite sure what to do with them.
But I gave in, sighed a huge sigh of resignation and cut into my green. The top needed it!
Originally (see my last post) I had pulled a light blue paisley for the sashing strips and was going to pair it with two different blue patterns for the borders- all very lovely, but I still had my doubts. When I got to audition the paisley with the blocks and cornerstones the red flags went up. YUCK!! No real contrast. It just laid there looking sad, so back into the Jo Morton Cabinet it went. Now what?? I went through the Jo fabrics until I came to another older piece and shouted Eureka! Yes, this orange/cheddar would definitely work. But now what do I do for borders. Another trip down memory lane into the older stash piles I've been hoarding (I should show you my upper cabinet where the Jo Morton's live- remind me to do that). Not the new stuff,mind you, it hasn't aged enough just yet!
There it was- "THAT" green. Could I really use it?? Really? It was, in my opinion, perfect. So, Yes I Did!! Then came the next problem. What to pair with it? I tried various combinations, knowing in my heart I wanted (the top NEEDED) black. Just didn't have the right one where I was looking. Enter the triple dresser of goodies.
In the half yard cuts came the perfect black print and it was off to the finish so I could press, photograph, share and then get it layered and ready for hand quilting on Monday when I have two hours of uninterrupted time in the morning. So without further ramblings, what do you think?? Did that green do the trick? And how about that black? Nice, no??

And just in case, like me, you can't get enough of that green, here is a bit of a close up!

Off to a morning appointment, and then this afternoon I will tackle the next little Blessings Basket from the Temecula Quilt Company's new sew-along.
Happy stitching to all..


Mar 7, 2012

March Work Board Peek

What? Could this be a return to Workspace Wednesday?? Don't get your hopes up, but I do have a peek of my work board for you as it begins to fill with my chosen March projects. The little postage stamp baskets are moving right along now. I have three more handles to applique and then I can begin setting them. I think they came out very nicely, what do you think? (this photo was from the other night- so all 12 weren't up and showing off their finery)

The fabric to the left hand side is the one I'm thinking of using for the setting strips. I intend to use tiny scrappy cornerstones, using 1.75" squares cut from each of the basket and handle fabrics. With a quiet day today and another tomorrow I should have something to show by the weekend. This project will be hand quilted as well. I can do that easily with these mini projects, and still stay on track. I'm doing quite well since today is only the 7th of March. Hope I just didn't jinx myself by saying that!

Also on my board is the finished February block of Jan Patek's Collections I. I had a wonderful time appliquing this one. It has her older fabrics for most of it, with some newer Moda thrown in, but it is her fabrics and designs of years gone by that truly make me the most happy. I love homespuns and brushed cottons, and they are hard to come by here. Even my favorite local shop is discontinuing them. Customers just don't know how to use them, the owner lamented to me. I so remember that from my days working at another shop in the area. I tried to convert people, I truly did, but it just didn't work. Oh well, what can I say!
I hope subsequent blocks have more of the vintage Patek feel. I miss that.

The star points were particularly fun. I got to make my own fabric by sewing strips together and then getting all those points from the resulting piece. Naturally it was just "this much" short, so one point is askew, but that is primitive folk art- and that is why I love it. Simple. Make-do. The end result is perfect no matter....

The third little peek sitting on the board is thanks to the gals at Temecula Quilt Company. They have begun another sew along on their blog. I had such a good time making this:

how could I resist this new project. Meet my first (little) Blessings basket:

March is stacking up to be a good month on the sewing front so far, but gosh darn! Do I have time to jump on board the project Cheri Payne started on her blog?? Oh decisions, decisions!! I do know it helps to keep my hands (and my mind) busy.
May all YOUR decisions today be happy ones...
Off to stitch a bit


Mar 6, 2012

The Power of Friendship

Some days are more difficult than others. There are days that make it hard to get out of bed, to carry on with normal activities....
putting a smile on your face, planning meals, cleaning house, laundry. Those stiff upper lip days when you know you have to put on the super woman cape and carry on. These days can happen regularly when life gets turned up side down. That is where I fall many a time these days. Carrying on with the "normal" when things are not normal at all. I am not, however, complaining in the least.
I do get out of bed. I walk the dog. I make breakfast, I do the dishes, vacuum the rugs, wash the floors. I smile, I run the errands. I plan the meals, and cook. Laundry gets done. In between all this normalcy are the multiple appointments that come with having a family member who is fighting a serious illness.
Some days are just harder than others. I admire those who can carry on with out thinking of themselves. Those who give until there is nothing else to give, yet dig down deep and give more. I try. I've been called amazing. I find that to be an over statement, but will strive for just a little bit of "amazing". I am glad for the down times, when I can curl up on the couch with a good book. The times in my sewing room, or sitting in the living room with some applique or a small project to hand quilt. The quiet times, the content times. I look forward to the few outside quilting activities I try to get to monthly- they remind me that things can still function on a normal field. Then there are the other days.
This weekend, I was reminded of the power of friendship in such a tangible way. I was reminded of how lucky I am to have a core group of friends I've made through quilting and just life in general. I am also thankful for the smaller sub-groups the make my heart full. Each little group has its own dynamic. Even though we all know each other within the larger whole, these smaller pieces are what keeps me going often times. Again, the power of friendship.
Sunday three dear quiting friends took me out to breakfast, and at the end of our life chats (work, an impending marriage, newly wed news, quilt making and just some plain silliness) a bag appeared. Not just any bag, but a large gift bag holding a most magnificent gift. A signature quilt made by that larger quilting community of women I call friend. A quilt made to comfort, to bring a smile, to warm me on a cold day- literally and figuratively. It was beautiful, and it was most overwhelming.
It was....powerful....
When all is said and done at the end of the day, it is the friendships one makes (and keeps close to their heart) that matter the most. In this regard I am truly blessed. I can be super woman with all this love and support behind me. And on the days I can't muster up that super power, I can just curl up under this and be warmed:

My hope for all of you reading this is that you too have the power of friendship. It is, besides the family, one of life's most important gifts.

Mar 3, 2012

Then and Now

Thirty- Three years ago today we took the plunge

and it has been quite the ride full of the usual bumps along the road! But one house, three children, one adorable grandson, and a lot of give and take later, we are still going strong!

Our bumps aren't over, in fact some days they seem like major mountains on the scale of Everest, but all in all that song by Kenny Rogers still starts in my head every year as I wake up on our anniversary:

I can't remember when you weren't there
When I didn't care for anyone but you
I swear, we've been through everything there is
Can't imagine anything we've missed
Can't imagine anything the two of us can't do

Through the years, you've never let me down
You turned my life around, the sweetest days I've found
I've found with you, through the years
I've never been afraid, I've loved the life we've made
And I'm so glad I've stayed, right here with you
Through the years

I can't remember what I used to do
Who I trusted, who I listened to before
I swear, you've taught me everything I know
Can't imagine needing someone so
But through the years it seems to me, I need you more and more

Through the years, through all the good and bad
I knew how much we had, I've always been so glad
To be with you, through the years
It's better every day, you've kissed my tears away
As long as it's okay, I'll stay with you
Through the years

Through the years, when everything went wrong
Together we were strong, I know that I belong
Right here with you, through the years
I never had a doubt, we'd always work things out
I've learned what love's about, by loving you
Through the years

Through the years, you've never let me down
You've turned my life around, the sweetest days I've found
I've found with you, through the years
It's better every day, you've kissed my tears away
As long as it's okay, I'll stay with you
Through the years

-Songwriters: Stephen Dorff, Marty Panzer

Yes, indeed, I do love that song and think it sums it up just fine.
So with that....
We'll go celebrate (I'm giving a supreme sacrifice- taking the hubby to Jersey Boys (said I'd never go to this!) and then we will hit our favorite restaurant. The rest we'll work out as it comes.

Mar 1, 2012

March Project is Decided

Over at the Kathleen Tracy yahoo group there is a monthly challenge to make a small quilt. I have basically jumped on board, but don't always make the chosen monthly project. Last month you'll remember I opted to make the alternate February quilt.

Well, the decision is in and on the blog today the challenge for March is Civil War Baskets! This little quilt is from the book Remembering Adelia, one of my favorites by Ms. Tracy. I have them all, but this one just really makes me happy. Better yet, the baskets are one of the quilts from the book I did NOT make yet! Even better yet, my friend Mary Ellen gifted me with a lovely packet of 25 beautiful fabric squares that I think I can use to make these little baskets (keeping my fingers crossed), not that my stash is without choices mind you!

I am so pleased. Time to get work for the day is done and I have a few hours of me time. Let the basket making begin!!

Finally! Some Winter...

YES! Winter has finally come to New York! Beautiful winter- not the gut wrenching, stay inside and hope for the best kind of winter, but the pretty, snowman snowy winter! The trees are bowed with their load of snow, there is an abundance of peace and quiet (schools are cancelled today), and the pristine cleanliness of it all (for now) is the kind of beautiful that soothes my soul. Winter is smiling on us.

So yesterday when this

and this

Fell around us, I had this baking in the oven

while the men folk took naps (this one especially was so cute)

and finished up this block of Jan Patek's Collections One (you can see the information on the side bar of her blog)

It is supposed to snow on and off again today, and we are looking forward to the Little Family (son, DIL and grandson) coming for the ultimate toddler dinner- spaghetti and meatballs- tonight. Today will be all about shoveling, letting the dog romp in the snow, cleaning the floors, making the dinner and oh yes, getting some more sewing in! Sounds like a mostly perfect day to me.
Thank you Ole Man Winter. I am so glad you came to pay us one visit before this winter was completely over. Just wish your "cousin" with his 50* temperatures wasn't in such a hurry to come back (this Saturday, supposedly). I'd like for this all to stick around for just a little bit.
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