Friday, October 31, 2014

Early Voting

Here in Wisconsin, there's been controversy and confusion over changes in the requirements needed to vote.  Since we moved to our new home last December, I haven't voted in any election so I knew I had to be registered and I wasn't sure what would be required.  So I decided to go to City Hall and get registered and cast my vote early just in case I needed to do something extra  this time. Not a problem. Everything was easy and I'm proud to say that I have voted !  

When I saw my son in Milwaukee last week, he said he's decided not to vote this time because there wasn't a candidate that he really wanted to vote "for" and he was tired of voting "against" a candidate.  Well, he's an adult so I didn't really say very much other than nearly every time I've voted it's been against a candidate since there have been very few candidates in the 40+ years that I've been old enough to vote where there's been a candidate that I really felt was the right choice, not just the best choice.

I got an email a few days later from Dan saying he'd gone ahead and voted !  Good for him!

I know what my political leanings are and I won't express them here. I'm a firm believer that the more people who bother to vote, the better it is for our country. Right now, the USA needs all the political help it can get and the more voters, the better.

So, please go to the polls on Tuesday and vote for the candidates of your choice. It's your right and your responsibility--and it is the future of this country. End of this diatribe. Now get out there and vote!  Go on, do it!  You know you want to, so just go out there and cast your ballot!  Go on now! Get 'er done!

All Hallows Eve!

All Hallows Eve!

What a wonderful holiday!  I'm so glad we celebrate it here in the US as not all countries in the world do.  I decided to look up a little about Halloween and found a lot of information on Wikipedia, of course!  And I'm sure all of it's 100% accurate, right? 

It seems that All Hallows Eve began as a Celtic or maybe Roman harvest festival and gradually developed a Christian association, but never the less, it's a time to celebrate the afterlife, to prepare for the coming of winter, and interestingly, to divine one's future.  If a woman wanted to know if she would marry, she sat in a darkened room and stared into a mirror. Eventually, she would see the face of her future husband or she would see a skull which meant she would die before marrying.  Hmmmm--which would be better?    She could also peel an apple and toss it over her shoulder. It would land on the floor in the shape of her future husband's initial.  

Anyway, here a is some information paraphrased from Wikipedia in case you're interested.  
     Samhain ( a Celtic festival) marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the          'darker half' of the year. It was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies could more easily        come into our world and were particularly active.

     At Samhain, it was believed that the fairies needed to be propitiated (win favor of the spirits) to       ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink, or             portions of the crops, were left for the spirits. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their       homes. Places were set at the dinner table or by the fire to welcome them.

    Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames, smoke and ashes were     deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and were also used for divination. It is suggested     that the fires were a kind of imitative or sympathetic magic– they mimicked the Sun, helping the         "powers of growth" and holding back the decay and darkness of winter. 

And there's a lot more information on the Wikipedia.

So, prepare your bonfire, carve your pumpkin or turnip, don your scary costume, get the apples ready for bobbing and have a wonderful, scary All Hallows Eve!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Portland Head Light 
I'm home from the trip to Maine, and I'm soooo glad to be off the road!  Two and a half days of hard driving each way is not fun!  At least we had a couple of days to spend with Tessa and Lily before we headed back.

Both Don and I are feeling a little at loose ends right now without Lily here. We both have to establish a new lifestyle for ourselves and for the most part I'm looking forward to that. While we won't have the joy of living with a bright and witty 10 year old, we also won't have the responsibility of raising her.

The trip was amazing in so many ways. It was the first time I'd been in New England and I have to say that NY state is incredibly beautiful!  Every mile on the road brought a new view of something beautiful.  We drove across Vermont and New Hampshire and again, non-stop beauty in the woods, rivers and valleys around us, punctured by such picturesque little towns!  The Midwest has it's own kind of beauty but this was spectacular!

Old Port section of Portland
In Portland, we did touristy things and had a lot of fun with our girls.  On the way home, I slammed on the brakes as we drove through Wilmington VT and I saw a quilt store on the side of the road. Norton House.  Of course I stopped in while Don amused himself at the craft beer shop next door.  I was looking for something Vermonty to remind me of my first trip to New England but no luck.  I did get a great bag of scraps and a couple of fat quarters but that was it.  Even though they're not particularly New England-ish, I'll be reminded of this trip every time I see the fabrics in the quilts I make.

copied from
As I drove across the states, I planned the new quilt I'll be making based on the colors of this trip.  Even though the fall leaves had passed their prime colors, they were still gorgeous.  The quilt will be made of the copper, russet, gold and forest green colors of the trees with splashes of lime green from the moss on the rocks and crimson from a few remaining maple and sumac leaves with cream as the neutral. I decided to use a variety of grays for the sashings because of the granite rocks and stones that were everywhere.  Now, if I could just find a pattern for these colors, I'd be set to go.  :-)

Well, I have the laundry in the washer, something frozen from the freezer for dinner and the suitcases unpacked.  Should I do a little cleaning or should I go the my sewing room?  I think you know the answer!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Back home again

I am recovering from one of the greatest weekends I've ever experienced!  As I said in the previous post, I was going to a weekend quilting retreat with my guild and it was fantastic!  Because, the members of the guild are fantastic!  I have always felt so welcomed in this group--they are amazing women and I consider myself very lucky to have found them and to have been accepted by them.

So, in addition to great food and lots of laughter, I managed to get lots of sewing done too.  My goal was to finish the top for the king sized quilt I'm making for my friend, Elaine.  We decided last spring to swap services--I'm making her quilt and she's making my draperies.  It's win-win for both of us--and we'll have to get together to exchange these things when they're finished since we live a few hundred miles apart.  Triple win!

Here's the finished top laid out on the floor of the quilting room we used.

Elaine chose the most beautiful autumn colored fabrics for her quilt and the pattern is called "Perfect Ten"  I think because the blocks are made from 10 fat quarters which are nearly all used up in the quilt.  The pattern is for a throw sized quilt but she wants this on her bed so I added extra borders on 3 sides. She wants the pieced center to cover the top of her bed and the borders dropping down. She didn't want any borders up at the top of the quilt since she doesn't bring the covering over her pillows.  For some reason, I ended up with 4 yards of extra fabric in one of the patterns and I think I'll make a couple of pillowcases for her out of that and she can do whatever she likes with the rest.

This one will go to my neighborhood long arm quilter since I don't have the energy to do this on my domestic machine, and I know that Carol will do a beautiful job on it.

I also finished the 72 blocks for this Sister's Choice quilt from Bonnie Hunter but didn't get started on stitching the blocks together.

I think I've mentioned that I'm saving the triangles that I cut off the flying geese blocks that form the star points in these blocks, and I squared up 100 1/2" half square triangle blocks to add to the 500 or so that I have at home.  They'll be going into the border when I get to that part.

One of the members, Pat, brought along her box of crumbs and she and I got distracted, working on making crumb blocks and before I knew it I had 6 or 7  4 1/2' blocks done up. They will go into my small but growing collection.  (Those darn little crumbs are so addicting!  It was really hard returning to my designated projects!)  One person was paper piecing with batik fabrics and she gave me all the scraps--tiny little wedges about 3/4" by 3" and I pieced a lot of them together to make crumb fabric. I know when I look at these blocks I'll remember the women who shared with me and all the laughter we had about being "crumby quilters."  

I did squeeze in some work on the Talkin' Turkey quilt but not much. That's the next piecing project on my agenda and when it's complete, I'm going to begin quilting some of the finished  tops I've had in my cupboard for the past several (or more) years.  Time to get them finished and on the beds!

So, today I'm tired and happy and ready to tackle the chores of the day. Have to push myself to get everything ready to go before we leave in a couple of days to take Lily to Maine.  Happy/sad task.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's retreat time!

I'm preparing for the Guild's annual 3 day quilting retreat! It's the highlight of my year in so many ways!

We limit the retreat to 24 people and we go to a hotel just off the freeway about an hour's drive from here. Other years we've gone to a lakeside resort, again about an hour from here--I like being by the lake better than being by the freeway-Duh!  But I'm not in charge of the thing so I keep my mouth shut (Can you believe that?  It's true, I really can keep my mouth shut when I have to!)

I'm leaving here Thursday late afternoon, carpooling with one of the retreat committee members, and I'm so eager to get started, I think I'll wet myself have to calm down and keep packing.

I really love the women in the guild--no male members so far.  Each of them is so interesting and they come from such unique backgrounds. Very few are Menomonie natives.  Most have moved here because of their jobs or their husband's job, many of them connected with the University here.  It's just so interesting to be with these ladies.

And laugh!  I probably will wet myself from laughter--note to self, better get some Depends to bring along.  This will be my 4th retreat with the guild and each one gets better than the one before.

I have 3 bed sized quilt projects that I'm taking with. One is the Talkin' Turkey that I started in March. I have the blocks finished and will work on the pieced sashings and pieced borders and hopefully will have the top finished and ready to be pinned and quilted by the time I come home.  I'd like to have this on my bed in time for Christmas.

The other quilt I'd like to have on a bed for Christmas is the Roll Roll Cotton Boll that I made a few years ago when Bonnie Hunter offered it as a mystery. You can read about it at my blog post here. This is it without the borders which I know I added afterwards.  Can't believe it's been ready for quilting for nearly 4 years!  Get a move on, Barb, and get her done!

I'm also taking the Sister's Choice that I've been working on as a leader/ender project and which I'm ready to finish and be done with. This is the picture from Bonnie Hunter's website:


I'm making mine from a ton of 9-Patch blocks I got as part of a guild exchange program we had last year and "simply" adding the points to turn them into stars.  I say simply because I'm stitching about a quarter inch away from the fold line so I have tiny half square triangles when I trim the corners of the star point units.  I plan to use these in the border. I have to press each one and trim it to 1 1/2 inches and that takes a lot of time. So far I have over 300 of the little things and about 80 cut ones ready to be pressed and trimmed.  Why  did I ever start this project!!!!!

For the star points, I'm using another ton of green fabrics I had stashed away and they are all scrappy instead of coordinated as Bonnie's are.  The problem with this project is that the entire bed quilt will only use about half of the 9 Patch blocks--what am I going to do with the rest of them?  I think I'll start another leader/ender project and make a second Sister's Choice.  I have committed to 2 charity quilts for fundraisers next year.  The second one, I think I'll make controlled star points instead of scrappy.

And the third project I'm bringing is the king sized bed quilt I promised to make my friend in exchange for her making draperies for my house. It's been a year since I made the promise so it's time to start. That quilt will go to the neighborhood long-arm quilter as I know I'd have a hard time doing it on my machine.  And it's so much easier to turn it over to her!

 And I have a couple of fabrics selected to make pillowcases which we will donate to one of our members whose son is stationed somewhere in the Middle East. He asked for bright pillow cases for his unit since he said they get all dingy from being thrown in the laundry, helter skelter.   Trying to find fabrics in my stash that weren't too girly girl was a challenge but I finally found 2 sets.  I think we're doing them like this if you want to take a look:  Hot Dog Pillowcase video.

Today, I'm working on packing up more of Lily's and Tessa's things to take out to Maine next week.  I'm happy Lily will be back with her mom again, and I'm happy that Don and I will resume our lives as empty nesters, but I'm just going to miss that little girl like crazy!  Thank goodness for Skype!

Friday, October 10, 2014

More Halloween!

I'm not a Halloween person. In fact, I always preferred to take the kids out in the neighborhood trick or treating rather than stay home and hand out treats.  This year, however, I'm obsessed with making Halloween things for my Etsy shop Jolly Ruby. I don't understand it,---I'm just accepting it. :o)

Today I put a couple of table runners in the shop and thought I'd post a pic or two of them.  They are the same in design, I just changed out the fabrics I used in the pinwheels, one orange (Jack-O-Lanterns--I love that old English term!  :) --

and the other purple--witches, black cats, and hooty owls.

And of course, accented by a bit of Halloween candy! That's the best part of the holiday, in my opinion.  Don and I used to "screen" the candy loot brought home by the kids to make sure there weren't nasty things in there and also to make sure the kids didn't get too many mini chocolate bars like Snickers which just happened to be Don's favorite!  Interesting coincidence, don't you think?  I didn't have a favorite--any chocolate candy would do as long as it wasn't Tootsie Rolls!  This year, we will be prepared for trick or treaters now that we live in town. In the ten years we lived in the country, we only had one trick or treater--in all 10 years!  It was embarrassing when the doorbell rant that one time! We didn't have any candy to give these poor kids so we scrambled around and finally found some coins for them.  Needless to say, neither the kids not the parents were impressed!

We are beginning to pack up Lily's things in order to move them with her to Maine in less than 2 weeks.  I'm feeling so much better about this move than I was when I last posted.  My friends and husband have been a great help, getting me to see the positives of this move, not just for her and her mother, but for me and Don as well. Much as I love my little granddaughter, caring for a 10 year old was not how I envisioned spending my retirement years!  ;)  Lily will spend the next few summers with us--until she's old enough to spend the summer on her own or has a job, whichever comes first--and I'm looking forward to that. It will be good to reconnect with her on summer vacation and I already have some fun things in mind for next year. It will be more like vacation than full time parenting, right?

Now I have to go stitch the binding on a table runner (not a Halloween one!) I made for my niece and this afternoon, we have to take Lily from school to the homecoming parade site so she can be on one of the floats in the parade.  She's soooooo excited!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Big changes are a'comin'

This is how I'm feeling these days as we prepare to take Lily to Maine to join her mother.  Pretty sad person.  Don's sad too.  We are going to miss her terribly.

cemetery mourning angel

As you may know, my daughter took a job opportunity in Portland ME and moved there in the middle of last July. Lily stayed with us while Tessa got settled. Well, she's finally found an apartment and Lily is so anxious to move out there!  She has missed her mother terribly, and Tessa tells me that she's missed Lily terribly as well.  We're taking Lily out to Maine in a couple of weeks so there's lots to do before then!

Lily was born before Tessa was married so Don and I have been very involved in raising her for these past 10 1/2 years.  I have seen Lily at least weekly for most of her life, and there have been extended times when they have lived at our house due to various factors like divorce and job layoffs.  I feel as though I've been Lily's second mother so now, although I know it's the best thing, I feel devastated knowing that I have to turn her over to her mother completely.

Actually, when you think of it, that's such a very good thing.  Tessa is finally in a place where she can financially take care of Lily with very little assistance from us ( I still plan on paying for the piano lessons, of course!) and Lily has grown up to to be quite an independent little lady as well as a big help to her mother!  So, it's good that I'm not as needed as I once was.

It's still going to be a huge change in my life--and Don's too. We were talking this morning how we were going to handle this change, and I think the best thing for me is to get more involved in community groups as I'd planned on doing when I retired.  I have quilting, of course, but I think doing some other things as well will be helpful.

Change is part of living, isn't it?  It's just hard when you have to handle it.  I know that all of us will be better off making this change, but it means some major adjustments for me. I know I can handle it even though I'm so sad right now.  I think I need to go to my sewing room--working with beautiful fabrics always makes me feel better.