Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's time to leave here

Our month on the Gulf of Mexico has ended and tomorrow we leave to go home. Mixed feelings for sure. I'm anxious to return to my usual routine but I also will miss the sun and (relative) warmth as well as the beach and the lush foliage.

Sunset on the beach
Don by a 300-400 year old live oak tree draped in Spanish Moss.

Mobile Bay at Ft. Morgan

I know these pix don't do justice to the beauty of the area. Many days were cloudy and overcast so I'm sure that a bit of sun would have helped.

In between Don's golf games and my quilting projects, we did manage a bit of sightseeing and other activities. Three guided hikes in the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, a trip to beautiful Fairhope AL, touring historic Ft Morgan, taking in the miniature railroad museum in Foley, and yesterday we went on the pitcher plant bog walk at Weeks Bay estuary. We went to Lulu's twice, it was that good and that much fun!  Two day trips to Pensacola to find a quilting store that sounded really great on their website but turned out to be a real bust in real life, and to spend an afternoon at the Naval Aviation Museum--fantastic display!  Dinner in Pensacola at the Fish House was sooo good!

Don and I went walking every day along the highway, him going up to 8 miles and me not so far.  On the first day I wasn't able to go even two miles and by now, I'm going 4 miles without a problem!  And, my arthritic knees aren't complaining very much either. Today,I did two miles for my walk and then we went on a 4 mile hike in Bon Secour just for fun!  Walking is something I will definitely continue when I get home, although I am anxious to spend some time on the stationary bike as well.

I worked on four of the six projects I brought with and here they are, recapped.

Fishy Fishy lap throw

Son Dan's new quilt, "Garden Steps"

Don's T-shirt quilt celebrating his running days

Prairie Farm auction quilt

 So, that's my month at Gulf Shores AL in a very small nutshell. I really enjoyed my stay here and hope to repeat it next year.

When I get home, I'll be spending my time quilting up these projects before I will allow myself to begin any new projects. Right!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fishy, fishy quilt

It's been raining here like crazy. On Thursday, we drove to Pensacola FL to pick up Don's golfing friend, Steve, at the airport and overnight, it began raining and it hasn't stopped since.  They are so disappointed with this weather, but there's not a thing that can be done about it. I'm glad I'm a quilter and can work on my projects no matter what the weather is. 

I brought along a quilt sandwich in hopes that I'd be able to get the quilting done while I was here and the other afternoon, I did!  Even without my quilting gloves which I've never done before.  It was a little tricky and my hands were sore but I got it done. 

This is a piece I made as a gift for Don's cousin, Wayne, who has been such a good friend to both of us. Don's closer to this cousin than he is to his own brothers and I've been wanting to make a quilt for him for a long time. It's appropriate that I worked on a "fishy" quilt in this monsoon-like rain that we've been having! I bought this in kit form about 2 years ago, made up the top last year and made the quilt sandwich just before we left Wisconsin.  I sewed on the binding and will hand sew it on the drive home next week.

Wayne loves to fish and I thought this would be perfect for him either at his house in central IL or at the family cabin in N WI. 

Here's a close up of the simple quilting design I used in the quilt. I love the border fabric of various fishing lures, and Wayne will like it as well, I'm sure.

What kind of quilting do you do on a rainy/snowy day?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Day at Fort Morgan

Since we're going home soon, we decided to do a bit of sightseeing yesterday. We went to historic Fort Morgan, one of the guardians of Mobile Bay.  This fort was built in the early 1800's, I believe, and saw action in the War of 1812 as well as in the Civil War.  It was kept in use until just after WWII and now is a national historical site as well as a state park.

This is a view of Mobile Bay as seen from the fort. That's Dauphin Island in the distance where the other guardian, Fort Gaines, is located. We plan on visiting there next week.

 This is a shot of the inside of the fort. This fort is a hexagon, I think, and the ground surrounding it is built up so the soldiers inside would be able to fire down on attackers. Between the hillside (called the Glacis) and the fort there's a dry moat or ditch, to give further advantage to the defenders in case the attackers managed to come over the glacis.  And inside the fort, there are many storage areas for ammunition and gun powder and there are the remains of numerous cannon mounts up on the top level of the building.  Some of the cannons were mounted on tracks so they could swivel about 180 degrees and could fire across a large area of the bay. There was a ten sided barracks or citadel inside the fort which is gone now except for a few foundation stones but I imagine it was quite a bustling place when it was an active fort.

I had to take this pic of a pair of pelicans resting on this abandoned pier.  Just waiting for a little lunch! In the background is one of the numerous gas rigs that dot the bay and the gulf where we're located.

So, Don and I had a very nice afternoon exploring a bit of American history. In the morning, we worked together to clean up the cottage before our friend Steve arrives this afternoon. We're going to Pensacola FL to pick him up at the airport and he'll stay for a few days of golfing before leaving on Monday.

I think Don's feeling a little guilty about all the golf he's been playing. I don't care how much he plays--he's earned the right to indulge in his passion and when he's out of the house, I can work on my quilting without any interruptions. I took a look at Bonnie Hunter's calendar to see if she's going to be teaching near me in the future--and she is!  In May she's going to be in central Illinois, so I emailed the guild contact person to see if there were any openings and, long story short, I've reserved a spot for myself!  I discussed it with Don and he didn't put up any objections at all!  Hey, if he's feeling guilty about doing all this golfing, I'll use that to my advantage. right?

So I'm very excited to be going there, and I'll be staying in the same hotel as Bonnie. How great is that!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dan's quilt

Before we left Wisconsin to come to Alabama, I made up the quilt blocks for this quilt and the other day I assembled them.   This was supposed to be a Courthouse Steps pattern but I realized (after I'd cut all the pieces, of course!) that it wouldn't turn out that way. So I proceeded to make the blocks in a new pattern. I'm trying to come up with a name for this block but all I can think of are things like "Basement Steps,"  "Stair Steps," and so forth. I'll have to do some work on the name, I think.  Wait a minute.  How about "Garden Steps?"  I like that. It reflects the few floral fabrics in the blocks and still keeps the steps idea going.  Yes, that's it--"Garden Steps." (Now watch. Some one will comment that there's already a Garden Steps block.  Oh well.)

I'll quilt this up when I get home.  I'm not adding any borders and I'll probably just do a meander all over it. Nothing too fancy.

I made a black and white quilt for my son over 10 years ago when I was beginning to be a quilter. He's still using it and I examined it when I was visiting him last fall. It's an okay quilt but I think it's time for him to have a better one, so I got this fabric a few years ago and finally have it made up.

I bought several pieces of a line of fabric and I was very happy with them except there wasn't enough to make a bed sized quilt.  One night at guild, our speaker threw out the idea that it was okay to add fabrics from other lines together. She said that sticking with the fabrics from the manufacturer's line was nice and safe but adding other fabrics made it more interesting.  Well, that was exactly what I needed and I went home and found several additional fabrics from my stash and now they're all incorporated in this quilt. I'm happy with all of it except for one fabric that is a little bit off but not too much.

This was an easy quilt to assemble using 2.5" strips. It would be a good one to make using a jelly roll as well.  In order to avoid having to match seams, and pressing in certain ways so the seams would nest, I chose to offset the blocks, using half blocks at the ends of half of the rows. Easy peasy!

So this is Dan's quilt and I hope to get it to him before summer.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Eye of newt and toes of frogs

I've been walking every morning since we got here to Gulf Shores.  I haven't walked much since September in Germany when I got a nasty blister between my big toe and first toe. Well, the same thing has happened to me again, but on both feet.  The other day I decided I'd better put some Band Aids over the blisters.  I had 4 Band Aids in the cosmetic bag I take on my travels.  The first one was a plain brown colored bandage but the other three---Holy Quiditch, Harry!  They were Harry Potter band aids!  

I think I must have put them in the bag when we took Johanna on a trip to Mexico, over 10 years ago and she was all into Harry Potter at that time. Amazing that they are a sticky as anything and are doing a great job of protecting my poor toes. So now my toes are looking bee-you-tea-full in Harry Potter bandaids!

Since I had no more band aids in my bag, I bought a box of Tinkerbell band aids to have on hand for the next trip.  I don't think pretty band aids should be only for little girls, do you?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Winter (?) Update

I'm at the Gulf  of Mexico hence the question mark after "Winter."  Don and I have wanted to be "snowbirds" for many years now and we decided 2013 was the year to give it a try.  We chose to come to Gulf Shores, AL, and it's been a great vacation so far. We'll be here for the entire month of February before returning to the cold and snow of Wisconsin.  

We've been having a lot of cloudy and rainy weather so far but the other day, it was sunny although a bit chilly. I took off for the beach and got a few snaps to share. This is the boardwalk leading from the parking area to the beach. The most beautiful white sand beach, stretching on forever.  Lots of beach houses like the one on the right, all up on stilts, I suppose to protect against hurricane flooding.  In Wisconsin, everyone has a basement under the house, so these look rather foreign to me.

When I arrived at the beach I saw a person fishing.  No more than a few yards away was this handsome fella, watching and waiting for a tidbit. I chatted with this lady's husband who was walking the dogs on the beach and he said this Great Blue Heron was seen a lot on the beach, not the least bit shy of people at all.  The next day, Don and I took a walk through the Bon Secour Nature Refuge nearby and again, a GBH came very near to us as we walked along the beach. Maybe it's the same one? 

Since I knew Don would be spending a lot of time on the gulf course, I brought my sewing machine and quilting things along to work on while he played. Isn't that always the case:  Women "work" while men "play!"  Just kidding, "working" on a quilt is play for me and I think for most of us, right?

Anyway, Don was an avid runner before his knee gave out on him. He ran many marathons and smaller races all over the upper Midwest.  Years ago, I took his marathon T shirts and made a wall hanging for him that he kept in his office at school until he retired and now it's hanging in the exercise room at home.  He saved all his T shirts from the shorter races and has wanted me to make him a T shirt quilt for the bed. Before we left home to come here, he selected 25 shirts and I fused the fronts to interfacing so I could assemble the top while I was here. I finished it the other day and here it is.  Don absolutely loves it and that makes me feel glad.  I've not got enough fabric to make a border and the binding so he decided to forgo the border. Since it's a T shirt quilt I'll simply tie it when I get home and get the binding on it so he can sleep under it as soon as possible.

 The other project I've been working on while here is this "tessellating star" quilt which will be donated to the school auction in June. I decided that this year I'll have this baby finished way ahead of time so I don't have to rush to get it done at the same time as the gardening work makes demands on me. For the first time, the Wisconsin Shop Hop had fabric designed especially for it. I bought a jelly roll of 2.5 inch strips and some yardage for the border and this is what I got.  

I decided at the end to make a pieced border and I like how it gives the quilt a bit of an extra touch.  When I get home, I'll quilt it on my machine in a simple meandering design and call it good.

Today I begin working on the 3rd of the 4 kits I brought with me. This next project is a new quilt for my son which has been promised to him for several years.  I made all the blocks at home and simply have to assemble the top. 

So, my vacation to the Land of Sunshine has been filled with interesting things to do and lots of good quilting as well.