Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A fair day in Fairhope


Yesterday, Don and I took a little road trip to nearby Fairhope, AL, one of the most charming community I've ever encountered.  A friend recommended that we check it out on our first winter here on the Gulf coast and we loved it.  As you may have guessed, I'm a bit lacking in photographic skills so I'm taking pics from the town website, for your viewing pleasure.


Fairhope is located on the Eastern shore of Mobile Bay, across from the city of Mobile. This pic from the city website is a view of the bay taken from the large and lovely city park that stretches along the shore of the bay.  We always finish our visit to Fairhope with a drive through the park.  Yesterday was a beautiful day to be outdoors, and plenty of people were at the park when we drove through at 4 o'clock, enjoying the sun and the warm, feeding the ducks and geese, and fishing from the fishing pier. I've always thought this park was a wonderful gift to the people of Fairhope.

When we arrived in the city, the first thing was for Don to get in line for his haircut at the local barbershop.  He found this old fashioned barbershop--complete with a revolving red striped barber pole outside the door!--last year and Vernon, the barber, gave him the best haircut he's ever had in his life! Vernon (all last year we referred to it as "Bubba's Barber shop" since we didn't know the barber's name, but now we know it's Vernon.) only takes walk-ins so Don had to wait quite awhile until the chair was ready for him. While he waited in the shop, I explored a couple of boutique clothing stores nearby and then sat at the outdoor Lebanese cafe and sipped a glass of Lebanese iced tea. Unique and tasty!

After Don was all spruced up, we walked to one of the many interesting restaurants in this town and got ourselves a bowl of seafood gumbo for me and a gigantic smoked turkey sandwich for Don. He also ordered Cajun potato salad which I tasted and liked. It's a basic potato salad with some Cajun seasoning added, so I can easily make this at home too.

We stopped at a couple of stores on our walk back to the car and picked up some things to take home with us.  But the real pleasure of being in this town is that it surrounds you with charm and beauty. I did manage to get a couple of pics I want to share with you, beginning with this shot of one of the flower beds that line every sidewalk in the downtown part of the city.  There are a wide variety of flowers in these beds but primarily tulips and pansies along with fillers like the Dusty Miller shown in this pix.

Lots of the shops had hanging baskets of flowers and potted flowers around their doors. I particularly liked this one featuring the pink cyclomen. Even in the summer, we don't have planters as beautiful as this one, but I just got an idea of how I can begin changing that, starting with my own pots this summer! Yes!

We do have lots of bright red geraniums back home, and I was delighted when I saw these window boxes outside this jewelry store.  So brilliant along side of the white trim on this building.

My friend tells me that Fairhope hosts an amazing art fair in March every year and I'd like to take it in some day, but we're usually back home before the fair begins.  Maybe another time.

Before we went on our road trip, I deconstructed the striped Solstice block that I didn't like, here,  

and resewed it into something I like better, here,

I also took a good look at the most recent block Pat Sloan posted and decided to pass on it. It's kind of an exploding star that finishes at about 32" and that's way more than I bargained for!  I'm liking the 12" blocks and I'm sure there will be enough to make a throw sized quilt if nor a bed quilt. Besides, if I need a few more blocks, I can make them up with designs of my own choosing. I mean, it's my quilt, isn't it?

Today I'll put away all my sewing paraphernalia in preparation of our guests who will be here before lunch time.  It's pouring rain right now and that cancels Don's golfing for the day. I don't know what we'll do with the 8 year old if it's still raining this afternoon.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Meeting the Solstice Challenge

Yesterday was simply amazing!  Sunny, warm temps, and a gentle breeze coming off the Gulf.  It doesn't get much better than that, except for the humidity. That's not my thing so yesterday I felt a little sweaty all day, but not enough to really complain.  I rely on cool showers and ceiling fans to help me through days of high humidity. While I enjoy spending this winter month here in the South, I doubt that I would be very comfortable here in the summer.  It's warm enough and humid enough in WI to suit me, thank you very much.

Don and I took a walk in the preserve--his first time there this winter--and found a couple of birds but not the Great Blue Heron I'd seen the day before.  He/she must have been off to another hunting ground, I guess, or maybe just shy.

I spent some time at the sewing machine and managed to complete 3 more Solstice blocks. As I've mentioned before, I'm making these blocks out of leftover Christmas fabrics with the same light background in each block.

The one below, I may take apart and reassemble. I don't like the stripe effect and may simply set the HSTs in rows.  We'll see.

I've had to skip over a couple of blocks since they require either applique or a fussy cut center. I have some fabrics with cardinals on it that I'd like to use in these blocks, so they'll have to wait until I get back home.  I've made 6 of the 9 blocks that have been released so far, so I guess I'm getting a bit caught up. If I can I may make the 9th one today or tomorrow, depending on when our guests arrive.

Today is a day for Don and I to do some exploring. We make a trip to the charming little town of Fairhope, AL, right on Mobile Bay, to do some sightseeing, window shopping, and to have lunch. So far today seems to be sunny and mild again, so it's a good day to get out of the house.  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A change of pace

After a couple of days of cloudy and rainy weather, yesterday morning dawned cloudy again, but by noon, the clouds had lifted and we had a beautiful, warm, although a bit humid, afternoon and evening.
I did no sewing yesterday and instead chose to spend my time in the nature preserve with a pair of binoculars.  I looked everywhere for birds, but only saw a Great Blue Heron perched on a branch overlooking a swampy pond.  I could see him quite well with my binoculars but he was too far away to get a photo, so I stole borrowed this from the interwebs. The Heron I saw looked just like this guy except he/she was perched on a branch on a dead tree so, above the water.

Image result for great blue heron

As we travel around this area, it's not unusual to see these birds flying, with their long legs extended behind them.  They are very common in WI during the warm weather months so I wonder if the ones I see here are wintering where the waters don't freeze.  Hmmm.

Another bird that I often see flying and occasionally on the beach, is the brown pelican. I took this picture a couple of years ago when we were exploring historic Ft. Morgan at the entrance of Mobile Bay.  Once I saw a guy fishing off the beach and right at his side, waiting for a fish or some bait to drop from the fisherman, was one of these birds.  Greedy little thing!  

Even though yesterday's search for birds was quite unsuccessful, I had a very leisurely walk that I enjoyed. There are always others walking in the nature preserve, but not so many that it ever feels crowded, and I like it like that.

After my walk, I did the weekly shopping, came home and by then it was too late in the day to do any sewing.  So I worked on the embroidery project the rest of the day.  Making very good progress on this and I'm feeling optimistic that the entire quilt will be finished by April 1 when it goes into the library show.

Today, Don and I will walk in the preserve again and then I'll sit down at the machine, so I'll have some progress to report tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Triple Day!

Yes, I hit a triple yesterday in my quilting journey!  Three finishes in one day! Whoo Hoo! Here they are:

First up is the completed top Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll.  All borders attached and it's ready for sandwiching and quilting.  I love the aqua and neutral palette with the occasional bright touch in some of the neutrals.  This is definitely staying in my sun room.


After I finished with the piano key border on the above quilt, I decided to work on a third table quilt for my Etsy shop.  This one is gingerbread boys and girls and it's about 24 inches across and down, with slanted corners.  I like the red plaid that I used along with the brownish and red gingerbread print.  This will be in the shop come fall.

I didn't have to cook last night. There's a fish and seafood shop nearby and every year when we're down here, we order a shrimp boil for ourselves and friends.  Last night it was only Don and me and it wasn't as much fun as it is when we're surrounded by friends, but the food was just as tasty as I remember.  

I mention this because I had extra time after dinner to work on my embroidery.  I immediately commenced stitching the moose's cute little derriere and got the block finished. Yea!  The last of the 6" blocks!  Now I have the 4 rectangular blocks which are much easier and don't have any of the tiny stitching that some of the 6" blocks have in the background trees.  I'm so glad I managed to get all that done--this is going to be a great little wall hanging and I have the perfect spot for it in my house.

Today calls for grocery shopping and laundry.  I have another UFO that I could take out and work on but I think not.  I only have a few sewing days left before I pack it all up while our guests are here in the middle of the week and then it'll be time for us to go home.  Instead, I'll spend the next couple of days making up some of the Solstice Challenge blocks and see if I can get a little caught up on that project.

I follow Sarah's blog at "Confessions of a Fabric Addict" and today I read about the 2017 Hands2Help charity project that she sponsors every year.  You can read about it here.  I've heard about this in previous years but have not joined but this year I think I will. One of the charities is International Institute St. Louis, an agency which helps immigrants, many of them fleeing wars and chaos, to get settled in the US. All three charities this year, as always, are very worthwhile, but this one hits home with me as a daughter of immigrants. As I was reading about the project, I was already thinking of the stack of large 9 patch blocks I'd made many years ago as a way to use up scraps, and how to use them in a couple of twin sized quilts which is what the Institute is needing. I'll be commenting on this as I get into it.

Okay, I have to make up a shopping list and get going here.  Have a great Saturday!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oops! Its a double post!

I just now posted what I'd written yesterday. I must have clicked on save instead of publish so, it's a day late.  Sorry about that.

I'll just update you on my quilting progress from yesterday.  I was quite busy--I decided I had to do some housekeeping since I'd neglected it for too long. So it was an hour or so before I sat down at the machine.  I was able to assemble and attach the two side borders on the quilt before I stopped for the day.

So far I'm happy with this border, and I'm pretty sure I have enough of the colored fabrics to make up the other two sides.  By the end of the day, this UFO will be finished and ready for sandwiching and quilting when I get home.  Whoo Hoo!

As I've worked on this quilt, I've noticed several errors that are bothering me.  One of the string pieced blocks isn't stitched accurately to the aqua blocks and I think it's that way because the seam allowance is a little off. Just gazing at the quilt you don't notice it, but now that I've seen it, I will always see it.  However, I'll leave it as is.  I had thought of donating this to my friend's charity auction, but now I don't think so.  Actually, this will look very nice in my sun porch at home. The room is pretty much browns and taupe and this will really give a nice pop of color.  As well as being cozy to wrap up in on cool spring days and cool summer nights.  So, this one will stay at my house.

On the embroidery project, making good progress there as well.  I only have the back half of the moose (the "ass" end) to stitch up and this block will be done. And that will complete all the 6" blocks for this wall hanging.  

Yesterday I got word that my nephew and his son will be arriving on Monday or Tuesday so I have to finish up my sewing by then.  They plan on leaving on Thursday which is perfect since Don and I will pack up our stuff and load the car, getting ready to depart Friday morning. I checked the long range weather forecast and it looks as though we'll miss any storms. That's always a worry and especially this year since we have to be home in time for Don to fly to Maine on the 2nd of March.  

I'd better get back to stitching piano keys so I can call that quilt top finished.  

Slow and steady wins the race

Image result for images of slow and steady wins the race

Do you find this saying apropos to your quilting journey?  Many times, I've had that saying in mind as I plug away on a quilting project.  It's those projects that require hundreds of individual units to make up the blocks, like Bonnie Hunter's scrappy quilts.  When her directions call for 589 four squares units, it can be a bit daunting, but I plunge in and begin what sometimes seems like an endless journey, and around the halfway mark, I hear the "slow and steady" refrain in my mind. That's when I feel like this little sea turtle trying to make it's way to the ocean.  But somehow I manage to carry on because I have faith that in the end I'll have a beautiful quilt.

The past 2 days, I've been in the "slow but steady," more slow than steady.  I took out the third UFO, the aqua and neutral Roll Roll Cotton Boll, by Bonnie Hunter, that I began last year here at the Gulf when I took a class from her.  This is the center with the first narrow border that I put on 2 days ago.

I really like how this is turning out. I'd made this quilt in neutrals, reds and greens when Bonnie introduced it as a mystery quilt about 4 years ago, and when I had the opportunity to take her class last year, I decided to use up a lot of aqua, blue and green fabrics I had left over from other quilts.  One of the things I like best about Bonnie's quilts is the variety in the fabrics. When I buy neutral fabrics, I look for ones that ate a bit whimsical and interesting, like the ones below.  A black and white tiger kitten, kites, Downton Abbey and theater playbill fabrics all mixed together.  So much more interesting that simply cutting a triangle and sewing it in.  But it all takes a lot of time, and it gets tedious!

After attaching the narrow border, I decided to make a 4 inch piano key border, and began piecing it. This is going to take quite a while! 

Yesterday, I did very little sewing--just did a little cutting for the piano keys.  Don and I met our new friends, Mary Ann and OH for lunch at a very nice restaurant that we'd not been to, Acme Oyster House. Oh my goodness! What a delicious meal we had! For anyone who likes the foods of New Orleans and Cajun Country, you will love this place! There are several locations along the Gulf from New Orleans east to Gulf Shores AL.  Each of us had a shrimp Po Boy which were amazingly good!  Although I've been to New Orleans many times, I've never had a Po Boy and I absolutely loved the one I had yesterday.  Actually, I had a half Po Boy and added a cup of shrimp gumbo that also was out of this world delish!  I highly recommend this place and will definitely return for another meal.  

But better than the food was the company.  Mary Ann and I met at the Bonnie Hunter class last year and have stayed in touch throughout the year. She lives in Missouri and such a very nice person.  I really enjoyed spending the day with her when we went to the quilt show a week or so ago, and now we arranged to have lunch so our husbands could meet.  Both men are retired educators and had lots to talk about, so that was a hit.  Mary Ann and I made plans to get together when Don and I are in Missouri next June for a family reunion, and I wouldn't be surprised if the guys found some way to spend time together as well.  

After lunch, Don and I headed to the outlet mall to see if there was something we could waste our money on.  And, yes, there was!  Both of us found a couple of shirts that we had to bring home with us, but that was all. We also stopped at "Old Tyme Pottery,"  which was on the way. Now understand, I have a collection of hand made pottery that I've collected over the years, and I've always been interested in stopping at this place. Last year we did, and discovered that this huge warehouse kind of store had tons of interesting things, but no pottery!  What's with that?  False advertising, I think.  Anyway, it's an interesting place and last year we were tempted to bring home something but common sense prevailed and we didn't.  This year we decided to go back and get the thing.  We found the things and liked them so well, we decided to get two!  And here the little guys are:  

Gnome 1

Gmone 2

We have given the acquisition of garden gnomes a great deal of thought over the year and finally decided that they will be perfectly at home along side the small flock of wooden pink flamingos I've had for years.  We'll find appropriate names for the little guys and I've heard that there's no snow in WI so maybe I'll put them outside as soon as we get back.

On the embroidery front, good progress is being made. I finished stitching the snowshoe block and will rinse out the sticky later today.

I immediately took out the last of the 6" blocks, the moose, and began on it. When it's finished, I'll only have the 4 rectangular blocks to do and then I can begin turning it into a wall quilt.  

Today, Don is on the golf course and that means I have uninterrupted time to work on the piano key border for the RRCB quilt.  I'd like to get all the pieceing done on that today so I can attach it tomorrow and call it done. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Back on Track

Image result for images of back on track

Yesterday was a productive day for me, sewing wise and other wise. Sometimes it seems that I can go, go, go for 4 or 5 days and then I kind of crash and do nothing for a day.  After a day of doing nothing sewing wise, I'm raring to go again on my projects.

Yesterday, I was back on track and in addition to sewing, I also did laundry and cleaned bathrooms, AND read a couple chapters in my book! Whoo Hoo!

First thing was to attach borders to the red and taupe table runner I began the day before.  Done! I like the gentle curve in the border print--a nice contrast to the squares in the center of the piece.

And I love the little deer in this print. They have teeny, tiny white polka dots!  And this Danish fabric is so nice to work with. It feels like there's a kind of finish on the cloth that gives it just the slightest stiffy-ness. (That's a word, isn't it?  Well, it is now.)

Instead of beginning on the next UFO, I decided to skip ahead and make a third Solstice Challenge block.  After all, I'm 6 blocks behind and want to get caught up. This is a simple half log cabin made of 2.5" strips and it went together so well.  No seam ripper needed on this one!

I also set up a light "box" so I could trace the last two blocks of Among the Pines.  I don't have a true light box--it's on my list--and at home, I usually simply trace on the white table top.  Here at the Gulf, the dining table is huge and has a glass top. I brought in a lamp without it's shade and set it up under the table and then I could easily see the pattern I needed to trace. Actually, I traced both blocks, so they're ready to go when I get to them, which should be in a week or so.  

After dinner, I continued to work on the embroidery, but I also took out the next UFO that needs to be worked on. It's Bonny Hunter's "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" which I began last year at the class I took from her while here.  At home I finished the center of the quilt and now I need to put the borders on. Bonnie's quilt calls for a pieced border made up of 3 rows of diamonds but I'm not sure I have enough fabric for that.  Before I got up this morning, I was thinking about it and decided to change it out to a piano key border. I'll have enough fabric, I'm sure, since I can use a lot of the neutral strips in addition to the colored (aqua and green) fabrics.  So that's on my agenda today--begin assembling the border for this quilt.

And, NO, I didn't forget that it's Valentine's Day.  I hope to get a gift like this from my sweety! And I hope you do too.  

Image result for cartoon  of  women quilting