Monday, August 29, 2011

I won!

I opened my email and had a message from Sharon at Vrooman Quilts saying I'd won her drawing for the traveling stash box! I can't believe it! I NEVER win in these drawings, but I DID!

Check it out at Sharon's blog here:

I hope she's been safe from the storm and that the emergency lock down has been lifted. I've not paid any attention to news of the world since Sat AM so I hope the hurricane wasn't too bad.

Anyway, I suppose I'll be posting the next drawing for the traveling stash on my blog in a few weeks, so pay attention! I promised Sharon that I would reload the box with choice bits and pieces so the box will continue to be a treat for whoever gets it.

Can't believe she drew my name!

Weekend update

My weekend was FANTASTIC! I had a houseful of people and had a ball with them! Don and Dobie exchanged lots of ideas of how to improve camping with the pop-up and Dobie and Elaine decided to camp with us at the end of this month. Luckily, the season will be about over and they were able to reserve the campsite right next to us. Yea! This is going to be so much fun!

We cooked on the grill--brined pork chops on Saturday and brined turkey breast on Sunday. Absolutely yummy! I vow to never cook pork or turkey again without brining it first! We sat around on the patio and visited. We played volleyball in the pool--the guys skunked us 3 games to none! I told them we were "just hitting our stride when you guys decided to quit!" Rationalizing, I know, but fun. We hiked in the hills and down to the river, and we went out and saw the most brilliant star-filled skies at night. Saw the International Space Station twice, making it's way across the Southern sky.

What a great weekend! I love being with such good friends. I hope we have many, many more weekends with them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

All done

I did it! All my cleaning chores--I LOVE my clean house! :)--with a lot of help from Lily. She's (almost) always ready to help out with chores and today she didn't let me down. As well as finishing the cleaning, Lily and I made a batch of peach jam and I got the last picking of green beans in the freezer. And, I had time after supper to work on the raffle quilt! I haven't worked this hard in a long time. HA! When I was in my 20's and 30's, even my 40's, this would have been an average day. I wish I had a little more of that energy these days. But, I'm happy I got it all done and am now relaxing before my friends arrive tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Company's coming!

I love having company! Not only do I get to spend time with good friends that I don't see nearly as often as I would like, but I get to try out my culinary skills to folks who, hopefully, will appreciate it. Not that the Husband doesn't like my cooking, but he could care less about food. He'd eat boiled tires if there was enough sauce on them. LOL The other plus about having company is that I have to give my house a good cleaning.

I LOVE having a clean house. I absolutely HATE the cleaning process! I'm also too cheap ( I mean, frugal ;) ) to hire someone to clean for me. So I usually do superficial cleaning but when Company's coming, I get down and clean it really well.

Friends are coming on Saturday and staying through Monday AM. I created a cleaning plan and assigned Husband certain areas that are his to do and certain areas that are for me. So far I have 2 of my 4 areas finished and will do the other 2 on Friday. Husband also has only 1 area left for him to do on Friday. I also made a menu plan so I know what I'm going to serve for meals and snacks. Does this sound a bit compulsive? Well, I call it "organized." When I have so much out-of-the-ordinary stuff to do, I tend to get confused and end up not doing the things that should have been done. So, it's lists and plans for me.

I told myself that I had to get my cleaning chores done before I could work on any quilting and so far, I'm sticking to that plan. I've finished cleaning for today and now have to move on to freezing the green beans that have finally started to come in in the garden. Pretty late, but we had to plant late due to a cool and wet spring. After beans, it's quilting for a few hours before bed.

I'm working an a holiday lap quilt that will be raffled off in a fundraiser for the local volunteer services organization in the county where I work. This group of volunteers provide transportation for folks who don't have a way to get to their medical appointments, a truly critical service in such a rural area. They are funded through donations and the volunteer director and I decided to have a raffle this fall to raise some money. I offered to make a quilt and since the drawing will be in early December, I decided on a Christmas quilt.

I'll post pix of it when it's finished. I started the quilting on Monday and nearly have the center finished but am having a difficult time, as always, with designs for the sashing and borders. Oh well, it will come to me. I'm pleased with how this is coming along--I hope the public likes enough to buy lots of chances! There will be other items in the raffle as well but that's not determined just yet.

I hear green beans calling me . . .

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quilting and Camping

Here are a few additional pix from the quilt show. Again, these are NOT the winners! Actually, I realized that I never did see the best in show and other first place winners. They must have been hidden away in a room I didn't get to. Anyway, I love the brilliant colors in this quilt and very intricate piecing as well.

This is another example of the amazing machine quilting in one of the entries as well as perfect hand applique. While I personally don't like such intense quilting in my projects, I admire the skill it takes to make something like this.

And this is a beautiful work of art that just shimmered and sparkled in the light. I think some of the metallic threads showed up in the pix. Looks a bit "Russia in the time of the Czars" to me. :)

Now for new news. Don and I took Lily camping this week in our new/used pop-up camper! I've always been a tent camper and have done mostly wilderness camping. Now, however, my bum knees prevent that kind of strenuous activity and my bum back says, "No more sleeping on the ground." Arthritis is a scourge!

I loved being in the pop-up, especially the morning after a storm and I could fix breakfast on the little propane stove in there. Sweet! No more cussing at damp wood and fires that refuse to be lit! We went to Pattison State Park just south of Superior and Lily had a ball. She made a friend within an hour of arrival and the girls were together all evening and the next morning until the girl's family had to leave for home. Then it was hiking with Gramma and Grandpa, swimming in Lake Superior on Wisconsin Point, and cooking over the fire for supper. I found out that Lily is a S'More hound! She would have toasted the entire bag of marshmallows if we'd let her! We left Saturday afternoon, one day early, since storms were forecast for the evening continuing until morning, and I particularly don't like breaking up camp in the rain. :-(

This is the lake at the park. The beach was closed due to bacteria and debris from recent storms.

Lily loves going to the Lake Superior beaches! Water's a bit too cold for swimming but a great sandy beach for playing.

Here's the S'Mores queen!
Lily roasted the marshmallows and Don assembled the chocolate and cracker. What a team!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Milwaukee Machine Quilting Show

I spent 2 days last week in Milwaukee at the Machine Quilting Show and I can't begin to tell you how beautiful the show quilts were. Absolutely amazing in design and workmanship! I thought the non-winners were wonderful and the ones that got the ribbons--true works of art.

I took some pix and then the camera failed. Note to Barb--check the battery next time. Anyway, here's some of what I got:

Here's a close up of the quilt above. The quilting was so dense and precise. The little dots are crystals. A lot of the quilts had crystals and ample use of metallic threads.

This quilt was rather "ordinary" compared to the jeweled masterpieces but I like the quilting design and will use this in one of my "ordinary" quilts.

This is a blue on white quilt that looked amazing in person but the pix doesn't do it justice. Very intricate quilting on this one.

This one looked like an abstract design until I stepped back to take the picture and saw the face! I love the uniqueness of this one.

And here's a close up of the quilting and embellishments.

This quilt was absolutely beyond belief! I think it was done on silk fabric with lots of metallic threads and crystals. I remember that the mermaids were appliqued onto the top. I couldn't get the entire length of the piece in one picture--I think there's several more inches on the bottom and the top of this one. Just amazing!

And the last picture is one that was extraordinary in the show, but looks a bit dull here. It's a variation of a whack and stack--the quilter bordered each medallion like a feathered star. Another simply amazing entry.

I took two classes at the show--and learned a lot of things on how to attend to the details of finishing the quilt. Like various kinds of bindings and lots of tips on machine quilting.

I also spent some time at the Sunshine 16/Pennywinkle Ranch booth. This Tennessee company makes an affordable sit-down quilting machine--which is what I'd like to own--but I've never heard of them. Has anyone in Blogland heard of this company or better yet, owned one of their machines? Even tho their product is more affordable than those of the "big boys" it's still a sizeable amount and I'm hesitant to buy it without hearing from someone who's bought one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quilting and politics

Go together like a horse and carriage??? Oh well. Tuesday was the big recall elections in WI and while the candidate I was campaigning for did not win her contest, I'm so glad I am a participant in this movement. I've always been politically progressive in my thinking and all my life I've carried on about the injustices of the system, etc, etc--from my living room. I've never even written a letter to the newspaper until this year, much less demonstrated or knocked on doors to get out the vote. Even when I was in college in the 60's I never protested although I agreed with the protesters. So now, in 2011, I got off the couch, left my house, and became active in this political movement, and I'm really glad I did. I feel as though I've made a contribution as a citizen--more than simply casting a vote on election day. It's exhilarating!

As for quilting, I'm off to Milwaukee this afternoon--Can't Wait!!! I have all my stuff packed up except for a couple of things that go in at the last minute and I'm off! Since I'm taking a couple of classes, I'm bringing my machine and sewing stuff so I'll be able to work on things in the hotel room in the evening. Two days of quilting immersion without having to do laundry, tend the garden, or even cook food for myself. Now that's my idea of bliss!

Even more blissful is that the bandage has come off my hand! It was big and bulky and starting to get really gross. The first thing I did was wash my hands and put on lotion. I have a little pain but all the carpal tunnel symptoms are gone--Hallelujah! This means, I can cut, stitch and press without a worry! Thank you, modern medicine, and health insurance.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quilting and elections

I spent yesterday evening in Menomonie knocking on doors in the "Get Out The Vote" effort I've been involved in over the summer. Today is the last day. We are having elections today for the 6 Republican state senators who are up for recall. I am only one of hundreds of volunteers who have put in probably thousands of hours in this effort and at 8 pm we will begin to get the results of it all. Regardless of the outcome of the voting, it will all be worth it since this state has experienced a lesson in Democracy that we wouldn't have otherwise. Unfortunately, the candidates seem to have been overshadowed by the PACs who are spending millions of dollars in advertising. I don't agree with the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which gives corporations and unions the "freedom of speech" that the constitution states is for the people. If corporations have the same rights as the people, why don't they own up to the responsibilities that go along with those rights? Like paying taxes!

Enough of that soapbox. I was looking at some examples of machine quilting which were very beautiful. The quilting was very dense and I realized that as time passes, I'm seeing more and more densely stitched quilts. Is it just me or do others see this as well? Personally, I don't like my quilts to be too densely quilted--just enough to keep it all together and to emphasize the main features of the piece. Also, it's cheaper than using all that thread and it's faster to not do all the extra quilting. I'd be interested in what others think about this trend. I'm going to a machine quilting show in Milwaukee this week and I'll take some pix of the pieces I find there.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Road trip

I've been on the road lately. Don and I left Friday AM for Galena IL, a picturesque little riverboat town on the Galena River in NW Illinois that I've been wanting to visit for sometime. Halfway there, I remembered that I'd left the camera at home so--no pix. Sorry. Anyway, we spent the afternoon there wandering about the shops and took a trolley ride all over the town. I didn't know that it was the home of President Grant! Unfortunately, we were there too late to tour his home--next time, maybe. There are some spectacular examples of late Victorian era architecture--gingerbread overload! The shops were filled with very nice crafty products. I spent some $ at the wine store (The best wine I sampled turned out to be, you guessed it, the most expensive on this list!) and Don spent some at the "Canning Company" on salsa and BBQ sauce. We stopped by the Phat Quarters temp shop and I was a bit disappointed. Last week, apparently, there had been a massive rainfall--20" overnight!--that swelled the Galena River and did some nasty flooding in part of the downtown, including the Phat Quarter shop. So they had piled their stuff into a temp shop higher up until the other shop got cleaned up. Thank goodness they were able to salvage at least some of their goods.

On Saturday, we headed to Peoria, Don's home town, for the annual family reunion. I haven't attended for over 15 years and I really enjoyed being back there. The same people--and more--were there, except for those who have passed on their way, and I missed seeing them. We had some good food and good visiting as well. It was waaaay too hot for the annual softball game so the festivities ended sooner than usual. Every year, we have an money-raising auction of things that each family donates. This is how we pay for the food, park rental, and supplies. I compiled a basket of Wisconsin foods, particularly from my area of the state, and it was very well received (meaning, a lot of people wanted it so they bid a lot of money for it :) ) We always include a bottle of local maple syrup, pancake mix and honey and this year I added cranberries, wild rice, some steak sauce and mustard, and jam from my kitchen. I would have put in some cheese curds, brats, and local beer, but refrigeration is a challenge. Darn it anyhow!

After the reunion, we headed north and spent the night in Janesville and today we finished the trip and came home. We stuck to the interstate all the way and I saw that there were blue astors blooming with some other kind of yellow flower and the white Queen Anne's Lace. I think it's time I made a blue-yellow-white kind of quilt, don't you? Now, Don has the lawn to mow, and I have some work in the garden to tend to. Then a quiet evening.

I really love traveling, but I like getting back into my own house where I feel the most comfortable. Now I'm home until Thursday when I head to the Milwaukee Machine Quilting Show for 2 days. Can't wait for that--and I'm going to take the camera on this trip for sure!