Friday, July 24, 2015

Fishing adventures!

We returned home today after a couple of days at my cousin's lake cabin and it was a wonderful time there in the peace and serenity of the lake and woods.  When we arrived and I stepped out of the car, I immediately breathed in the warm pine-scented air and felt the gentle breeze coming off the water. Ahhh, this was bliss!

Lily caught 11 fish and brought home 9 of them.  They'll be fried up tonight and turned into Bahn Mi sandwiches,  Vietnamese street food.  We make them with Sriracha mayo, pickled carrots, slivers of cucumber and Braggs sprinkled over all, and instead of pork, we use floured and fried fish of some sort. Sooo good! And her freshly caught pan fish will be perfect in these sandwiches.
While she and Don were fishing with Wayne, I did as I promised myself--sat in the shady porch overlooking the lake and finished the hand stitching on my Ingi Matako quilt.  Now it's officially complete!  Except, I found a couple of places where I want to remove the quilting and do it better. That should be easy and quick to do, then into the washer and dryer before I place it on Don's TV chair, ready for him when the chilly becomes unbearable.

Well, I didn't have any problem drawing a name for my "Completed Quilt" giveaway--it's Shay from Australia!  I'll have the package in the mail as soon as you email me your mailing address.  There may be a few other goodies in there for you as well as the camping quilt kit.  I mean, if I'm sending a package Down Under, it should be filled to the brim, right?  

I also got a small start on the Halloween embroidery but will set that aside for a bit. I decided that I need to make a table runner to take with next weekend when we go to another of Don's family reunions.  They all bring items to be auctioned or raffled off by the crowd attending. The money goes into the family coffers and is used to pay the expenses of next year's gathering. So, I think I can whip up a runner to bring along this year.  I'll bring the embroidery along to work on as we sail along on the interstate to central Illinois.  

Now, I have to change into my gardening clothes. There are weeds waiting for me to come and pull them out of the ground--as always!  Maybe a zucchini or two as well, to take home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Give away! Give Away!

In my last post, I shared that I'd virtually finished the "ingi makato" quilt and that I wanted to celebrate with a giveaway.  Here's the post if you want to take another look at it.

You may or may not know that I have a closet filled with pieced bed sized quilt tops that are waiting to be quilted up. One of them I made more than 10 years ago! I have the backings for many of them and I always have a huge roll of batting on hand, but the energy to take on the quilting of these big quilts is sadly in short supply.  Although I love the look of a professionally quilted piece, I prefer to do the quilting on my own domestic sewing machine.  And you probably know that it takes a lot of stamina to wrestle the thing under and around the needle.  So when I actually finish the entire quilt, I feel a grand sense of accomplishment.

That's how it was the other day when I machine stitched on the binding for this throw sized quilt:

I'm leaving tomorrow for a couple of days at a lake cabin and will do the hand stitching while I'm sitting on the porch and the others are in the boat catching fish--theoretically!

So I want to celebrate this finish with you and I decided that, from now on, I will have a give away every time I finish a throw sized or larger quilt.  I mean pieced, quilted and bound, even labeled!  Maybe that will be the incentive I need to get that 10 year old quilt finished and on a bed.

To celebrate this finish, I'm giving away this kit for a camping themed throw or wall hanging.

It's hard to see the completed piece but it's a center panel featuring camping pix such as S'mores, campfire, and so forth, with the plaid border/binding and a final camping themed fabric for the outer border. I'm adding a pine tree fabric for the backing.

All you have to do to join in my celebration of completing a quilt is to leave a comment at the end of the previous post, here.  I know people read this blog but I hardly ever hear from any of you.  I'd love to see your comments and even better, I'd love to send one of you this camping quilt kit.  So please leave a comment before I draw the name on the 24th.  

In other news, I've made progress in tracing the pattern for this Halloween table runner from Bird Brain Designs:

On the banner it says, "Ghosts, Goblins, Witches, Hooray . . .Halloween Parties Are On The Way" and the characters are so cute. I made one of these last year and it sold within a week in my Etsy Store, so I'll offer it again this year.  If it doesn't sell, I'll keep it for myself!  Win/Win!  When I'm finished with the binding on the ingi matako quilt, I'll begin on the embroidery piece.

My Etsy store, Jolly Ruby, has been sorely neglected for months now, and I intend to begin remedying that very soon.  I sold nearly all my goods when I had an after Christmas sale and haven't replenished anything at all in there.  Last winter I was working (Such a mistake!  It took way too much time away from quilting!) and as soon as I finished the job,I went under the knife and it was weeks before I could make it down the steps to my basement sewing room.  And now I'm preoccupied with my granddaughter's stay here in Wisconsin.  But as soon as September rolls around, I'll be working on some table quilts and so forth  and will be ready to reopen the store before Halloween.  At least, that's the plan!

Today, I'm finishing my work in the garden, paying my property taxes and picking out a countertop for the kitchen mini-remodel.  All fun things, right? What's on your plate for today?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Finish!

Well, almost a finish. I have to hand stitch the binding on the Zebra Butts quilt but I'm saving that for later this week when we go to our cousin's cabin for fishing. Well, Don and Lily will be fishing, I'll be relaxing in the shade of the cabin porch with my hand stitching to keep me company.

Here's one of the famous zebra butts blocks which I put on the back of the quilt.

In addition to the 2 blocks of zebra butts on the back, there's a third block on the front featuring giraffe butts!  I have no explanation of how all these butts ended up in my quilt!  And, unfortunately, there are no blocks with peacocks and leopards in them. How did that happen, I wonder.

In this section of the back you can see some of the quilting designs I used on this piece.  Some were totally free hand, some were free hand with location markers, and one design was made with a stencil.

I made this quilt for my husband to snuggle under when he's in the cool basement watching TV.  He was complaining last winter that he didn't have anything warm enough, so I decided to get this one finished and he can use it.  The unexpected zebra butts have nothing to do with giving it to Don!  

Speaking of zebra butts, I'm really not satisfied with that name for my quilt. I've been calling it that because of the 2 blocks in the back that are composed of the hind ends of the zebra's in the print.  I think the quilt is a very pretty one, using a stack and whack technique, and it deserves a less "common" name.  So I asked Dr. Google for suggestions of Swahili words for "zebra buttocks" and didn't like the sound of what came up. So I asked for Swahili words for "many buttocks" and  came up with the name of the quilt:  "Ingi Matako."  That's Swahili, according to Google, for "many buttocks."  Which this quilt has in abundance.

At any rate, I'm calling this a finish and am ready to move on to another project. I always feel so good--accomplished, I think is the word--when a quilt is totally finished that I want to celebrate with everyone. So I had a thought the other day that whenever I truly finish a throw-sized quilt or larger--pieced, quilted and bound--I'm going to offer a give-away here on my blog. With the total finish of the Ingi Matako quilt happening very soon, I'm going to give away the following kit to one lucky winner.

It's called Happy Camping and it's a wall hanging or small throw, with a camping theme. Above is the center panel of the piece.

The kit contains the center panel of mountains and camping images, the diagonal check fabric and the camping themed border fabric.  

I'm including enough of the brown with green pine tree fabric for the backing.  Just leave a comment in this post and I'll draw a name on Friday the 24th and get the package in the mail on Saturday. I'm in the mood to celebrate my quilt finish and I'd love it if you joined me!  And in the middle of July, what better way to celebrate than with camping!  Apologies to those in the Southern hemisphere--you'll have to wait until January to embrace the camping celebration! But you can join me in celebrating this week anyway!

Today or tomorrow, I hope to prepare an embroidery project to take with me to the cabin as well.

 I have this witchy one for Halloween to do as well as . . .

 this one of the Santas for a Christmas table runner.  I'm looking forward to making both of them but will begin with the Halloween one.

And on Monday, I'm returning to Mall of America in nearby Minneapolis to return all the things I bought last Monday on my wedding dress shopping expedition.  I wrote about that day in this post if you want to read it.  The more I thought about the dress I chose--quite simple except for the beaded cap sleeves--the less I liked it. I've put it on several times and each time I feel more uncomfortable in it. I just don't like the beaded sleeves! If they were made of fabric, I'd be fine because I love everything else about the dress.  So, I've decided that I'm paying way too much for a dress, shoes and clutch to settle for something I'm not happy with.  This time, I'm shopping by myself--no personal shopper again. I think I can do better by myself than with her suggestions which led me into the beading and glitz in the first place!

And today is a day to be spent outdoors.  Not in the veggie garden but in the flower gardens of my yard, and when they are all weeded, in the pool with Don and Lily.  What's in the plan for your day? After you leave your comment for the give-away, of course!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Garden Shed

You may remember that I posted last fall about the garden shed that we bought and had moved  into our yard from the vacant property next to us.  This is the picture that I took at that time to have a "before," knowing that we'd be sprucing it up this spring.

It was built years ago by the first owners of this house as a playhouse for their children, and I think it must have been a marvelous place for the kids.  If Lily was a little bit younger, I can imagine her playing house out there and maybe even having sleepovers in the shed.  Well, it's been used as a storage shed for the past how many years and has been sorely neglected, and frankly, it looks quite dismal in this picture.  We're still using it as a storage shed but after some paint and flowers, it doesn't look as bad.  

We decided on a yellow and blue color scheme with white trim and Don managed to get all the painting finished before we went on our trip to Maine.  When we returned, I placed the blue window shelves and the red flowers in the window boxes. And here's the shed today!

Now I have to find some azalea bushes to plant along the side of the shed on the left in this pic and Don wants to fit some kind of step at the door, and then it should be finished.

I found this little bird house at a garden center and thought it would be a cute accent on the shed.  We have lots of birds in our yard thanks to our nearness to the river and to the abundance of trees in the neighborhood.  I think the house is decorative, but one day I actually saw a bird perched on it, househunting!  I think the "for sale" sign is still out on this one tho!

I also neglected to post pictures of the fabric find I made the other day. I had to go to Rice Lake (50 miles away) for business and while there, I had to stop in at one of my favorite quilting shops, The Busy Bobbin, which carries the world's largest selection of batiks, I think!  (I'm not associated in any way with this shop other than being, probably, one of their best customers!)  


There is a large sale room in the basement that I always have to check out whenever I go there and I usually find something either to add to my stash, or in the case the other day, to make a complete bed quilt. 

I found this panel of pink and girly floral prints and a coordinating border print.

I thought I'd cut the panels into squares and make sawtooth stars out of them using these colored fabrics for the star points. Each block will have the same color points on it instead of mixing them all up.  The white on white is for the background of the stars.  The pinks and the purple were in the sale room and the other fabrics came from the full price part of the shop.

I will use the bug strip from the border print for the sashing with cornerstones cut from the fabrics above.  

I'll probably add a solid color for a mini border around the entire center and then finish off with the 6" wide floral panel of the border fabric.  

This will be a queen sized quilt for my guest bedroom which already has pink, raspberry, green and white striped curtains on the window.  This winter, we'll be painting that room and I'll choose a color to coordinate.  This is the room that Lily uses when she's here and I think she'll like this quilt.

So, that brings you up to date on the happenings in my household.  Today is cool and dry so I want to spend a few hours in the garden finishing the things I began on Sunday.  How are you planning on spending the day?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Enjoying summer with Lily

I can't express how much I'm enjoying my time with granddaughter, Lily, age 11, this summer. She has changed so much--from a child to a young lady--in the 8.5 months since she moved to Maine. She is so much fun to be with! Sadly, I realized the other day that we'll only have her 6 more weeks before her mom flies home the week before the wedding. And Lily will fly back to Maine with her mother the day after the wedding. Believe me, that will be a sad day for Don and me.  

I have a lot of things planned to do with her this summer beginning with the Heart of the North Rodeo in Spooner, WI where Don and I lived for 7 years, raising the kids.  The picture below is taken from here if you want to know more about it.  I'm not a rodeo fan at all but we took each of the kids in turn and since Lily is interested in horses these days, we decided to take her too. We went Sat night and we both enjoyed it very much, Lily--the ladies and girls on horseback and me--the people watching.  In a nutshell, it seemed as though everyone was having a very good time!  The most memorable thing about the entire evening was in a vendor's booth, Lily spotted a bikini made of the Confederate flag! You know, the one that was just taken down from the So Carolina state house.  It didn't look as though too many girls were interested in getting it, but somewhere out there is someone who will just love it!  Go figure!
Opening Ceremony at Spooner Rodeo

The next things I have to get arranged for Lily is to have a couple of riding lessons and to get her to the local archery club so she can get some bow shooting practice.  When she got her bow, we tried having her shoot in the back yard but it occurred to me that there probably is a city regulation against that. Whoops!  I guess I have to learn to play by the rules after nearly 30 years of living in the country where the rules are minimal and loosely enforced!

Yesterday she and I met my best friend in Minneapolis for lunch and shopping at the Mall of America for a dress for me to wear to my son's wedding in late August.  I had arranged for a stylist to have some things ready for me to try on and she did a great job of selecting things that I might like.  I decided in the end to get the first dress I tried on, of course.  But let me tell you, it's really hard to find something a little dressy without all the beading and glitz which I don't really care for.  I'd rather get my glitz from my jewelry than have it attached to the dress.  So the one I chose has a little beading but it can easily be covered if I want to wear the dress for something less dressy, like my anniversary dinner.  

Lily and I also shopped for shoes and she found a pair for herself (she's in the wedding party as a jr. bridesmaid) but no luck with me.  Tomorrow I'm going to check out my favorite shoe store in Eau Claire to find something for my feet.

While we were in the Cities, I picked up my sewing machine from the cleaning it needed. Now to find time to actually use it!  I haven't done any sewing or quilting since the middle of June when we drove to Maine to get Lily.  I'm of the mind that the quilting can wait, but a growing girl needs my attention now.  As I said above, we only have her for a few weeks more.  :(

I've also been working like a dog in the garden, while Don plays golf. Is there something wrong with that picture?????  When he returns from his current golfing week, I'll turn it over to him to care for. Maybe then I can get some stitching done. For once, the garden looks pretty good and nearly all the weeding has been done and about half of the mulching.  I've been generous with spreading the composted cow shit manure so hopefully we'll get a nice harvest. The other day I cooked the first of the garden peas--oh, my, they were so good! I have high hopes for this garden.

So, that's what I've been up to these days.  If I get back to finishing the quilting on the zebra butts quilt (I really should find a different name for that) I'll let you know.  Enjoy your day!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

3 weeks worth of adventure!

Oh my gosh, it's been nearly a month since I posted and I have so much to share! I have no pix but will pull them from the internet to illustrate where I've been and what I've been doing.

First of all, Don and I loaded up the car with most of the rest of our daughter's things that were left here when she moved to the Portland, ME area last July.  We drove out there to have a short vacation with her and to pick up her daughter, Lily, to bring her back to WI for the summer.  While we were in Maine, we did a few touristy things.  Here are pics of Peak's Island, a beautiful island community just a short ferry ride from Portland.  It was a perfect day to tour the island and view all the charming homes and amazing ocean views.  There were wild roses blooming everywhere! This island had a military presence during WWII and I'd love to spend rent a cottage there for a few weeks, writing a novel about that time period.

Another day we spent on the Casco Bay mailboat tour that goes further out into the Bay delivering the mail and other supplies to the islands' residents, and again, it was a gorgeous day and the islands were all so lovely.  I think I must have some seafarers in my ancestry! I just love being on the water!

We had our share of lobster and spent some time on the beach exploring tidal pools.  I even found a quilt shop about 8 miles from Tessa's home and we all had to go there.  It's called Calico Basket Quilt Shop and it is so nice.  I don't have any pix of the interior but I was looking for lobster, moose and other Maine related fabrics, and they have them!  I got blue and white lobster fabric and blueberry fabric as well as a couple of neutral fabrics.  I'll be using them in the blue and white/neutral Log Cabin quilt that I'm going to make for my son and daughter-in-law (as of Aug 28).  In addition to the regional fabrics they have tons of "regular" fabrics as well as lots of embroidery patterns and supplies.  I remember seeing several of the McKenna Ryan designs as well. If you're in the Portland ME area, I highly recommend this shop--good variety and great service.

After we packed up Lily and her things, we took off for Virginia for our first stop on the way home.  Lily had been studying the Civil War during her last few months of school so we went to Appomattox Courthouse where Lee surrendered to Grant, beginning the end of the Civil War.  I was impressed that she found this quite interesting as an 11 year old, but of course, this is a National Historical Site run by the National Park Service, so they did an excellent job of making it interesting.

Image result for appomattox courthouse

Image result for appomattox courthouse

I'd always thought that this surrender ended the war but learned that this was only the Army of Virginia which surrendered. There were 3 other armies which surrendered between April and June, 1865, the last one being in Texas.  

When we left there, we aimed to Asheville, NC where we had originally wanted to tour Biltmore Estate but after learning how much the entrance fees were, we decided to go to the Moses Cone Manor instead. What a beautiful vacation home for the Cone family back in the day! It's in need of maintenance now and I hope funds are found before it gets too bad.  

I'd heard about his place while reading Bonnie Hunter's blog one day so when we were ready to leave Asheville, we entered the address into the GPS thingy only to learn that the Manor was 70 miles away--the wrong way from where we wanted to end up!   Don was quite upset--he likes to travel in a straight line from A to B with as few stops in between as possible--but I insisted that this was my vacation too so off we went, North into the Appalachian Mountains.  We found the place and then learned that the house wasn't open for touring except on weekends and we were there on Friday. The bottom level was filled with beautiful articles made by the Southern Highland Craft Guild--pottery, weaving, glass, jewelry, etc., but only a few quilted items.  Maybe they have more quilts there closer to the cold season.  Anyway, Don and I decided that it would have been a neat place to stop at along the way, but not a destination site.  The good thing about this little jog in our travels is that I got to experience some of the Blue Ridge Parkway--oh so beautiful!  And Don got over his ire when he looked out at the beautiful views! 

Then it was west to Tennessee where we met up with Don's relatives at a state park south of Nashville for a family reunion. We only stayed 2 nights--we're getting pretty tired of traveling by that time!--and headed home to WI which took another 1 1/2 days of traveling.  We returned home last Monday and were sooooo glad to be home!  

This week has been filled with taking care of things that were neglected while we were gone for 2 weeks and getting Lily settled in again. As well, we had to prepare for the big July Fourth party we have every year!  My son and his fiance and kids were here as well as my best friend and her husband for a few days and then some of the neighbors dropped by and other family members came for the day.  So it was very busy and I'm pretty much exhausted about now.  Everyone was gone by about 1 pm today and Lily, Don, and I have just been sitting and taking deep breaths.  This evening, my daughter Jo will be here for the night but she's not any work at all--just more fun!  

Have I been quilting?  Heck no!  And I don't know when I'll have time to resume the quilting on the zebra butts quilt.  I still would like to have that finished by the end of summer.  (I know I originally said it would be finished by June 1st, and then July 1st, but, hey, I'm flexible!)  I have another busy week ahead of me so I doubt that I'll be at the machine any time soon.  

So, that, in a nutshell, is what I've been up to the past 3 weeks. What about you?