Friday, May 30, 2008

Huck Finn


I apologize for being so delinquent in posting. I've been devoting all my time to getting quilts made for the above: The Huck Finn Jubilee, taking place in just 2 weeks up in Victorville, CA. I'm making 10 of these little beauties to sell at the Valley of the Mist Quilters' booth.

This one is #3, in the process of being hand-quilted. I hope to get the remaining 7 tops pieced today, then I'll get them sandwiched & focus on quilting until they're done done!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

OY. I'm thisclose to getting that 9-patch & snowball top together. Tonight at Sisters I stitched the blocks into rows, then all but one of the rows together. I just had to leave before getting the last one done, but that's OK -- I can do the last row in the morning, then add the borders & move on to the next one: an alternating striped one patch with woven striped fabric -- very quick & very good-looking.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Monday was busy: what was supposed to be a new cycle in the beginning quilting class turned out to be a one-on-one with Diane, who's finishing up her first project. Yay, Diane!! The others didn't show, & the new students hadn't been notified we were starting, so we'll begin that group in 2 weeks (next Monday is Memorial Day). Then, home to finish getting the house ready for my DB's & SIL's visit.
I was able to finish the April applique block & get the May parts traced onto freezer paper. Today I'll get that pressed onto another layer & get the parts cut out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The sum total of my creativity today? A masterpiece of a salad. To the beautiful greens our neighbor gave us the other day, I added some romaine from the fridge, then sliced up some strawberries & added dried cranberries & some sliced almonds. 15 sprays of Ken's honey mustard, & it was fabulous.
Yeah, it was blistering hot again today -- I'm willing to pass on the 100+ temps for the rest of my life, but I'm guessing this is only the beginning. My DB & SIL arrive tomorrow from Ohio. She wanted to know if the 105 yesterday was a comfortable 105. Um.....no. Not so much.
So tomorrow I'll start a new cycle of beginners' quilting & see what the previous group has accomplished while I was away. Should be exciting, I'm thinking.
DH filled a kiddie pool for the dogs this morning, but the heat just made bathwater of it. The dogs drank out of it after dark, though. I just want to see Mama lying down in it. She splashes in their water bowl; why not in the pretty blue pool?
I gave myself a pedicure tonight -- couldn't stand the godawful mess my naked toes were. Now I have what my sister refers to as a "crack-whore pedicure". feh. If I leave my glasses off, they don't look too bad, I guess.
Oof. Time for sleep. I wonder if I can get Mama to come in & go to bed. Wish me luck.

Wylie

Wylie is our old boy dog -- the prettiest boy I've ever seen. It's hard to prove, though, since he won't sit for a portrait. He has a deep-seated fear of the camera & will turn tail & become smoke whenever he even hears the camera turning on. This morning, I tried to get him to cooperate, but as you can see, he just keeps moving, a very effective way of avoiding capture of his image. I'd swear he's in the Witness Protection Program. Mama had no worries about posing for me, though. Cute, huh?






Creative Everyday

Now I want to return to including some creativity in each day's activities. Yesterday, I was able to make all the snowball blocks for my current red & white effort. I'm liking the way the 9-patches & the dark corners of the snowballs create a star. It took me awhile to see it, but whoomp! There it is. I'm liking it. Later on, I finished hand quilting one of the Glory Be minis & started on the next one. I so love this little quilt.


Friday, May 16, 2008

A last thought before I turn in. It's a little SoCal tidbit I've noticed over the last couple of years: Love starved or sex-crazed, male mockingbirds will sing through the night in the spring, hoping to attract their hearts' desires. It seems that around 11 p.m., they get all excited & start singing until who knows when. All I know is that I'm asleep before it ends. God bless 'em. For some reason, their repetetive songs are much preferable to the screaming inanities of the teenage girl next door, which also seem to begin about this time. Fortunately, the birds outlast the girl & her friends.
Getting light-headed from the scent of the night-blooming jasmine climbing up the trellis outside our neighbors' bedroom window. Heavenly.


I so love this quilt! Patty won the collection of blocks at last year's Sarah's Grove retreat. She had us all sign one, then put it together so nicely, as you can see. I just love looking at it when I'm sewing at Patty's; now I can look at it anytime I want!

Couples Gourmet



These are dear friends, all of whom (including Patty) we met through a Couples Gourmet group. At the top are Patty & Cheryl; bottom are Lynn & Kathy. Our mutual friend, Mary, who couldn't attend this outing, is responsible for introducing DH & me to the group, God bless her! We would take turns hosting the group, with the hosts creating the menu, then assigning recipes for each other couple to bring on the night. Sometimes there were disasters, at other times it was a feast. In recent years, the group has stopped cooking & goes out to a restaurant of the hosts' choice, often returning to their home for dessert & some visiting. That's what we did this time. May used to be our month, & it always fell on the Saturday night before Mother's Day. Since we moved to CA, this has been the night we get to catch up with the group, continuing the tradition of being with the gang even though we don't live there anymore. So nice!

Skeletor!

Scary-looking, isn't it? This is a caseless machine, brought by Lisa & Lori from Stiches 'n Stuffing of Naperville, IL, to the Sarah's Grove Quilters Circle meeting to illustrate some of the finer points of sewing machine maintenance. They also discussed in some detail the various uses & benefits of different needles & threads, too. Very informative & fun -- these are a couple of entertaining ladies. Lisa is the "sewing machine repairman" at S&S, inspiring me to think about looking into getting some training in that field. It actually sounds very interesting to me. I wonder what it would take?

Adieu, old friends


This is Jane, one of the three owners of Calico. She looks happy because she's wanted to retire for a few years & finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The flag quilt behind her is one of their original designs, all published by Calico Printworks, which will continue even after the store closes. We'll just have to be happy with that, I expect.

Old friends


Friends for a very long time, here are Patty & Terry before the official start of the retreat. Terry's the one who wears the orange Crocs. She wasn't able to join us on the trip to Racine, while Kathy was only able to be with us for that day. Things work out.

The Fabric Store, Crystal Lake, IL

This is Miss Millie, the owner of The Fabric Store. She'll be 90 this year! She's showing me the hand-puppet drawer, with handmade puppets for the children of her customers to play with while their moms shop. Miss Millie told me about a day at the beach with her 50-ish grandson last summer. She told him she was going to do a cartwheel, & he said, "Grandma! What if you fall?!?" She said, "It's sand!!" This lady is the original & only owner of this incredible store, which includes a wall of home dec fabrics on rolls, more buttons than I've seen under one roof anywhere, fabulous trims, tassels & braids, & a huge range of up-to-the-minute quilt fabrics, all arranged by color. Miss Millie & her 60-ish clerk do everything by hand, including calling in credit card payments. They are inspiring.

Retreat project: Mini-Me's!

This is Patty's nearly-complete retreat project, an MH Designs pattern we called Mini-Me's. We each made 4 copies of ourselves, then swapped so that we each had one copy of each of us. That's me on the left, then Patty, Verna & Terry with her orange crocs! All of us are accomplished paper-piecers, so it was hilarious that each of us had a terrible time getting these right. At this distance, you can't see the awful mis-matches & broken arms, but up close, it looks like a beginner's hot mess. yikes! We've decided this is the last group project we'll do -- we want to make good use of the time together without the frustration of a complicated project.
The boys, along with Matt's fiance, Jill & her sister, Lauren, made dinner for the moms & dads at Jill's parents' house. What a fun day, in spite of the stormy spring weather. Laughter, hugs & kisses more than made up for not being able to walk in the park or visit on the deck.

Mother's Day

Here are my sons & me on Mother's Day: Josh, Ben & Matt. The perfect gift: all of my children with me on the day. SOOOOO satisfying! Even though they make me feel short & stout, I will treasure every picture with them, anytime -- I can't get enough of those faces!

Wildlife


This is the creek where I saw the beaver swimming on the first of my walks. It's dried up quite a bit since then, but supports a wide array of wildlife in the area, primarily birds of all description. There are Canada geese, ducks, cardinals, blue jays, robins, finches of every sort & wrens, red-winged blackbirds, etc. Walking in this park was a lovely way to start my day, even when it was cold & windy.

Last call


Here we are during our last visit at our favorite never-local quilt shop: Calico, Canvas & Colors in Racine, WI. That's Patty on the left, then Verna, Kathy & finally, me. I know: we look happy, but it was a bittersweet pilgrimmage: 30% off everything!/it's really the last time we'll be here!

Retreating with old friends

This is a crabapple tree I watched bloom during my daily morning walks through Patty's neighborhood. These beauties literally explode into bloom, after teasing with tiny buds, then gradually plumper & more colorful buds, then this stunning display of dense color. Fantastic!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Slacker girl here. But I wanted to share this with you before I go unpack, after which I'll get the promised pictures posted. Some friends & I are participating in this WOMAN Challenge sponsored by the US Dept. of Health & Human Services. It's a virtual walk along one of several paths across & around the US. Each day, team members post their day's activities &/or steps, & their progress is shown on a US map. It's a way to get more active & start a daily habit of exercise, something quilters, especially, need more of. Check out the site & see if you & your friends don't want to form a team & join in the fun. Here's the site: www.womenshealth.gov/woman Let me know if you do decide to join & the name of your team. Ours is Sisters of the Cloth!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Only one more day before we officially begin retreating -- can't wait! Tomorrow we'll head up to Crystal Lake to a great OLD quilt shop, the kind with wooden floors & 15 foot ceilings. We'll meet up with our friend Lynn for lunch, then wander the little shops in town for a bit before heading back here to the grocery for supplies for the week's lunches & breakfasts. I'll cook some spicy sesame noodles for Patty's & my dinner (her DH will be playing softball) & then I can get some more cutting done on my balloon quilt. Tuesday morning, Verna arrives! Woo hoo!!! Terry will join us, depending on her MIL's situation, & we'll be off & running. Dinner will be at Cheesecake Factory, then we'll head to guild (our local, Sarah's Grove Quilters Circle) for a program on maintaing our sewing machines. With Verna & me in attendance, the total of people there will jump to about 25!
Wednesday we'll be making a last pilgrimmage to our old favorite, Calico in Racine, WI. It'll be the last time we'll get to wander through that darling old house, visit with Kathy, Jane & Linda, & get some great deals as they close down their store. sigh. We'll stop at the Jelly Belly factory store on the way home. Goodie! We will have started our crockpot salsa chicken before we left home, so it will be waiting for us on our return. Thursday, it will be all sewing, all the time. Ditto for Friday, I'm thinking. Thursday night we'll head over to Lou Malnati's for some of their individual deep dish pizzas & some fabulous Lou's salad with gorgonzola dressing. Friday's dinner will be carried in by Patty's DH from Portillo's -- I'll be having their wonderful fruit & chicken salad with poppyseed dressing. SO yummy! Saturday morning, Verna will head back to IN. That night, my DH & I will join Patty & hers in meeting our couples gourmet group for dinner at the Ram. I expect lots of hugs & laughter all week. Are you jealous yet? Well, why not?!?!? I look forward to this week all year long & we do have a great time. It's exhausting, & sometimes I don't even get much done, but the "fellowship" as my friend, Mary, says, is soul-satisfying & feeds me for the next 12 months.
I promise, I'll start posting pictures on Tuesday. I did quite a bit of sewing today & got the top of my 13 Colonies put together. I'll be looking for a border & back for it tomorrow. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Whew! A whole week -- I know: too long. I've been bizzy! Had to get ready for the retreat, then get myself packed, get to Chicago, get some sleep & get acclimated. Now I'm here & sewing....aaaahhhh!
Pictures will follow pretty soon -- no finished or even nearly finished projects just yet, but I DID find some good Levi's in a size smaller!! wheeeeee!