Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Stitching, stitching

Yesterday was a very busy day for me.  Mostly working on things for the Menomonie Quilt Festival which you can check out here if you want to.  I prepared and submitted 3 grant requests and I'm a bit nervous about them. Despite over 40 years working in the human services field, I've never written a grant proposal and now I've done it.  I only hope I made a good enough case and we get at least one of the 3 grants.  My husband read them over and said if he was in charge, I'd get the grants--but then he's my husband and I've trained him pretty well over the past 45 years to say the right things!  So wish me luck.  I think I'll hear from 2 of them in September and one of them won't decide until Oct.

Other than that, I had to electronically as well as physically make a trip to the printers to have written materials ready to go to quilt shows beginning in September.  And of course, a few household chores, primarily the weekly laundry.  Don and I have developed a pretty good system for 2 retired folks--I do the washing and drying and he folds and puts away.  Works for us!

While he was folding, I was able to spend several hours in the sewing room working on my McKenna Ryan piece.  I did the outline stitching on all the fused pieces. Had a little trouble with the tension and finally decided that instead of stitching and picking out, I should make up a practice piece. Duh!  Sometimes I wonder . . .  Anyway, I managed to get it figured out that with the invisible thread, I needed to use a much lower tension number than I do when I have cotton thread in the top.

I also was able to get all the quilting done on the grasses, sand dune, water, bear, and sun, and I began stitching fluffy little clouds, or as Bob Ross would have said, "happy little clouds," in the sky. (I miss Bob Ross's show.)  I'll finish them today and then I'll have to do something with the borders.  Always difficult for me to decide on how to quilt the borders.

I took this pic of the tree that's in the piece.  These leaf pieces are the ones I explained seemed to be reversed when I was fusing them, only to realize when I was finished with them that I was using the tracing guide instead of the placement guide.  However, I think they look tree-like despite being kind of thrown on there, helter skelter.  I think I'll call this an example of taking liberty with the designer's plan and creating my own distinct work of art.  Instead of calling it a stupid mistake. LOL

In the evening, I worked on the 19th Bee-utiful block and have it nearly finished.  Again, I'm taking some liberty with this block.  Instead of making a pinwheel barn quilt with satin stitch as the designer did, I'm going to use red and yellow french knots to make a more floral design in the pinwheel triangles.  I may do some background coloring in the pinwheel triangles as well.  Well, I'll try it and see how it looks and then decide.  I also want to add some grasses and flowers on the left side of the barn--where the vertical lines are.  I think that would be a little more balanced with the corn on the right side. 

After this one, I only have the 20th block to make up and I'm also going to embroider a label for the back. I found this quotation from Victor Hugo, "Life is the Flower for Which Love is the Honey."  I think it's appropriate for this quilt which is all about bees and honey.

Today, I have more work to do on the Festival. Don asked if I'd notified all the area quilting groups about the Festival and I haven't. But the lightbulb went on as we talked and I found a website with contacts for WI quilt guilds. I'll be emailing them a notice to share with their groups if they would, please. And then I want to get that McKenna Ryan piece finished and ready for hand stitching the binding.  I believe I'll have it finished in time for guild meeting on the 6th.

So, off I go.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Whoa! I'm glad it's Monday!

Don't ask me what I did over the weekend cuz I have no idea! And no, I wasn't out partying from Friday thru Sunday--I'll leave that to the younger ones these days. No, I was just busy and the days flew past.

I spent some time in the sewing room on Saturday and finished fusing this McKenna Ryan pattern that I've had for several years: Note:  When I say "several years" it likely means since Medieval times when I was a child

I pulled out this pattern when I did a demo of McKenna Ryan's method at my guild last spring. I'd made up the pieced foundation--the blue sky, blue water, sand dune, shrubbery and the two borders.  I'd also traced all the pieces and had the tree cut out.  I had a few leaves cut out and showed how to use the teflon pressing sheet over the placement diagram so the tree could be assembled on the pressing sheet and then lifted in one piece to fuse onto the background. The demo went really well and when I got home that night, I simply put everything in the corner and forgot about it for the summer.  

Well, it's been nagging me and I thought I should get it finished up so I can bring it to guild and show them what it looks like finished.  On Saturday, instead of working on all the other sewing projects I've started, I finished cutting out the pieces and fused them on the background.  Unfortunately, I had trouble with putting the leaves on the tree--they were all backwards, and I didn't know how I did that since I was using batik fabrics so it shouldn't have mattered.  I finally gave up matching the leaves to the guide and just stuck them on as best as I could, and I think they look fine.  Then I turned over the instruction sheet and realized I'd been using the "tracing" guide instead of the "placement" guide.  Of course, the leaves would all be backwards!  I guess I need to do more McKenna Ryan projects so I remember to use the correct guide when I do the fusing!

Anyway, I'm happy with how it looks. I found a piece of fabric for the backing and fused several scraps of batting and made up a sandwich. It's all pinned and waiting for me to begin stitching down the applique pieces with invisible thread.  Maybe that will come tomorrow.

Also on Saturday, I cut the framing strips for my Bee-utiful blocks and got all 17 finished blocks framed up.  The designer used  a fabric from the line that had cursive writing on it. I couldn't find that fabric at my quilt shop so I used this gray fabric that says, "made with (heart)" and I'm very happy at how it came out.  

Also on Saturday, I began stitching this block of the flower filled pick up which is number 18 of the 20 blocks.  I became obsessed with it and finished it last night--or was it early this morning?  Anyway it's done, sized and framed, ready to take it's place with the other blocks.  

I also managed to finish up the little doll sweater I'd been working on. Now I only have 5 more to go, I think.  And my doc said I had to stop knitting until my wrist heals!  Like that's going to happen! Fortunately, I'm able to hold the knitting needle steady in my left hand and I can also hold the embroidery hoop in the left hand and the right hand does most of the work for both knitting and embroidery. The brace stabilizes my left wrist so I'm not causing any more damage to it and I've noticed a remarkable improvement since I began wearing the splint. 

Next on my sewing agenda is to quilt up the McKenna Ryan project and begin sashing the Bee-utiful blocks into the center of the top.  I also have block #19 ready to begin stitching tonight. 

I guess I've been "busy as a bee."   LOL

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Festival is coming together!

Last night I met with most of the other Festival committee members and we all got updated.  I'm just amazed at how each one is working so hard in their area and making this Festival idea come to life!  The classes are set up, speaker and lunch arranged, publicity ready to go out, and we're up and running in a Facebook Group:  Search for MenomonieQuiltFestival and you'll find us. Or you can click on this link 

The Festival will run from Nov. 10 through the 12th and is a fundraiser for the local domestic abuse agency.  We hope to raise a ton of money for them as well as offering a good time and something of interest to everyone who's here.  If you're anywhere near West Central WI (1+ hours drive east of the Twin Cities in MN) plan to stop by and participate.  We arranged 4 classes, a bus tour of Dunn County barn quilts, presentation of Quilts of Valor to area veterans since it's Veteran's Day weekend, and Laurie Aaron Hird, creator of "The Farmer's Wife" quilts is coming here as our keynote speaker! She'll be presenting in the gorgeous Mabel Tainter theater here in downtown Menomonie,  one of the most beautiful theaters in the world!

And the jewel of the weekend is the "Quilt Tour" all day Saturday.  Six or seven area quilting groups will have exhibits of their work at 4 venues throughout the city, totalling about 400 quilts.  In addition, some venues have demos, vendors, lunchrooms, and shops offering handmade goods.

This is the 3rd time we've had the "Quilt Tour" but the first time we've added the Festival to make it a weekend for quilters.  It's a huge amount of work, especially the first time, but hopefully, well worth it. Please check out our Facebook group and invite everyone you know to join.  We want the word of our Festival to go out far and wide. :)  And you can "he'p" as the kid said in the old TV commercial.

So all this coordinating takes a lot of my time, but I still spent a couple of hours in the sewing room yesterday making pillowcases for the guild charity.  I got 6 finished but have at least one more to go. I hate odd numbers so I may have to make one more for a total of 8.  I guess that's a little OCD!

One of these blue sky and clouds with tiny birds.

One of these with little blue snails creeping along.

And I had enough fabric for 4 of these "3 Blind Mice" design.  I hope the kids like these pillowcases.

When I finish the last pillowcase, I'm going to trace the final 3 blocks of the Bee-utiful Quilt Along and get back to working on them in the evenings.  I'm anxious to put them together and see what the quilt top looks like.  Here a more pics of the blocks I've finished.

This beehive block was quite simple to do. I appliqued a piece of brown batik instead of the wool that was suggested, and I added two more bees to the single one in the original design. I figured there would be more than one lonely bee outside a hive!

I love this block!  The bike reminds me of one that I rode when I was a kid, complete with the rear carrier.  I love the delicate aqua color as well but mine was blue, I think.

In the bicycle block, I used a shiny, silvery floss that I had for the spokes, chain and handlebars.  I also used a little of my glitter floss in the bouquet--I just outlined the pink swirls which you can barely see.

So, I'm off to enjoy a beautiful, cool, autumn-like day, and I hope you enjoy yours as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another ordinary day

Today is Thursday, and I'm so glad Wednesday has gone on it's way!  I think my brain was short circuited yesterday!  My husband agrees.

Met with the insurance agent and she had found a better plan for half the cost and that's always a good thing!  And she found a good plan for Don as well. Another good thing.  Then the day began to slide downhill!

After she left, I decided to do some work on the computer writing up stuff for the Festival (and wasting a lot of time as well!).  I did some reading while having a bit of lunch and continued until it was time to go to my 3 o'clock hair appointment.  Except I got a call from the hairdresser asking if I still was coming in for my 2:30 appointment!  Well, no. She didn't have any more time so I have to wait until Monday to go in. Darn it!  I also have to wash my hair myself between now and then as well!  Life can be so complicated at times, but as my Peace Corps daughter would say, "That's a 1st world problem!"

So then it was either clean the laundry room (another 1st world problem) or go to the sewing room. Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what I decided. I was able to cut fabrics for half a dozen pillowcases and even sewed one up before it was time to come upstairs and get ready for the 7 pm meeting of the Festival committees.  Seven o'clock came and went and no one appeared.  I began to worry that everyone had forgotten when I decided to check my calendar to make sure I had the correct time, and I saw that the meeting is set up for Thursday night!  Good grief!  I set up the meeting, how could I have confused the date!  I think I have just a bit too much stress in my life right now and need to do something about that.

So, today, the cleaning gets done and a few more pillowcases get sewn--and the meeting will be held!

And since every blog post must have a picture, here you go!  Just imagine me working away at my machine like this gracious lady!

Image result for pictures of sewing women

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's Hump Day!

Indeed, even when you're retired you can still celebrate Hump Day, and give a Whoot Whoot!

Today will be a bit more laid back than the earlier part of the week.  Just a run to the grocery store and one household chore--and then the house is DONE!  Whoot Whoot!  First I have a visit with the insurance agent to see if I can get a more reasonably priced policy--she thinks I can, which is always good.  And today, I have to get into the sewing room and make some pillow cases for our guild charity project since I've given up on finishing the quilt I had in mind.  

And then tonight, I have a meeting with all the people involved with the Quilt Festival that we're working on.  I've been working really hard on writing posts for the FB group as well as other details that need attending.  I have to say that everything seems to be coming together but I'm still a bit on edge about it all.  

Yesterday I finished the dilly beans and have these 4 pints as well as one that didn't seal and is in the frig.  

In addition to the dill, I added a couple cloves of garlic and a (very hot!) Thai pepper to each jar. These will all go to my daughter, niece and her brothers-in-law. When we were making Bloody Mary's last spring, I suggested Dilly Beans might be good and offered to make up some for everyone.  Personally, I don't like very many kinds of pickles but since I have the unsealed jar here, I just might have to start making a Bloody Mary every now and then.  Maybe my quilting would improve--or maybe not!

I also found this on my table after my guild officers' meeting the other night.  It was just sitting on my note pad and I found it after everyone had left.  It says "Yourself" on the rectangular tag along with the Bee.  Today I got a response to my email asking if this was left by mistake or if it was a gift.  It's a gift!  And I'm so happy to receive it!  One of the members of the guild gave it to me as a little thanks for sharing the information about the Bee-utiful Quilt Along that's being offered by Moda Bakeshop.  I'd mentioned it at the August Guild meeting and several members seemed interested.  Only one more block to be released and I think it will show up tomorrow.  


Here's another of the blocks.  The designer did a simple outline stitch or backstitch around the cake but others began posting pics of their cakes on FB and some of them were very elaborately decorated.  Like wedding cakes!  So I decided to take it up a notch or two as well. 

This is my cake, a little more elaborate that the designers, but not nearly as elaborate as some others. Truth be told, I am sorely lacking artistic talents and I copied ideas from other stitchers. Hey!  There's nothing in the rules saying you can't do that, and there are no embroidery police!  A nyway, isn't imitation the highest form of flattery?   

What makes my cake "special" is that I used my super glittery Cosmo floss to make French knots and some outlining on this cake.  It barely shows up in the photo but looks pretty good in person.  I used the glitter floss on a couple of other blocks as well, and I like how it's turning out. On my list of things to do in the sewing room today is to begin framing the blocks and get them ready for assembly. 

So, that's about all I have to say for this day.  Bye, bye!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monday, Monday

When I was still working, I used to love Mondays. Strange, right?  Well, I was rested from the weekend and ready to tackle the job at hand. By Friday, I was too worn out and tired to do more than the minimum.  I think I'm still like that since yesterday was Monday and I got sooo much accomplished. It helped that I had a group of women coming to the house for supper and a meeting and I had to get the house cleaned up!

It was the guild officers' planning meeting.  We're supposed to meet twice a year to develop programs for the upcoming 6 months but we were in such a groove that we did the entire year. Yea!  These ladies are so awesome!  I'm thrilled to be part of such a great group.

So, I cleaned house and fixed supper for everyone, but when the mail arrived, I got a very nice surprise, wrapped in such pretty tissue.  I don't usually order fabrics online--I like to touch the fabrics and get a better idea of color and the scale of the design that I can't get from the pictures--but I'd heard about a moving sale at Lavender Quilts on Etsy, and here's the link: The owner, Kris, is having a moving sale and with coupon code "moving 25" you get 25% off your order! When I checked it out, I found several fabrics that would work very well in my stash--and 25% off is too good to pass buy!  (a little word play here)

Kris had omitted one of the fabrics I'd ordered so I received 2 packages of pretties in the mail instead of just one.

Inside were these two cute prints. The blue snowmen will work well with some blue work embroidery I have in mind, and the red printed sayings are just fun neutrals to include in a quilt.

I have plans to make a Quilt of Valor this fall and these red-white-blue fabrics will work nicely in it. The small neutral piece on the top of the stack is a bonus Kris included--she must sense that I love to have scrappy neutrals in my stash!

Other than cleaning and cooking and playing with fabric a little, I only did a little work on my knitting after the group left.  I've been neglecting my Bee-utiful blocks while I finish the sweater and that should be done by the end of today and I can return to embroidery.  Here are a few more of the blocks I've finished already:

I love the look of all the honeycombs in this block but, oh my! were they tedious to do!  The designer had filled some at random with satin stitch, but I declined to do that, satin stitch and I not being very good friends!

This one was appliqued using blanket stitch. The designer called for wool applique but I chose batiks instead, since I have more batiks than wool.

This is one of my favorites.  It looks a little pinky in this photo but really, the fabric is the same as all the other blocks.  I thought I should add a little wonky hair bow to the bunny. Oh yes, I deliberately made the bow lopsided.  LOL

What does Tuesday hold for me?  A little more housework and I'll have everything done.  Green beans again. (groan) Lots of work on the computer regarding the Festival.  Yesterday I'd written up a class description and when I was satisfied that it was good, I hit "Don't Save" instead!  It was late and I was tired and I just shut off the computer and called it a day. So I have to rewrite the article today, as well as several other things that have to be done by the end of the day.  We're supposed to have temps in the mid 80's so I think I'll be doing a little swimming before dinner tonight.  Well, I guess I'd better get on with the day's tasks, right?

Monday, August 22, 2016

I missed Sunday

Sorry about not posting yesterday.  After a sleepless night of tossing and turning, thinking about all that I have to do in the next few weeks, I simply got up early and began doing things.

I realize that my stress is being caused by having many, many things that have to be done soon, and not working on them. I decided, about 4 am, that I would designate 3 things to do each day and just do them. Eventually everything will be accomplished.

Does this make any sense at all?  What I'm talking about is a new set of responsibilities in my life!  As of tonight, I'm the chair of my quilting guild.  While there's not a great deal that I'll have to actually do, because the members are amazingly competent women, I still have to coordinate things. Beginning with a meeting at my house tonight to plan the next 6 months agenda for the guild.  I promised I'd have a little supper for everyone and now I can't decide what it's going to be.  Help!  Seriously, I know I'll figure it out in time.  It also means a trip to the grocery store that I really don't have time for but at least I can swing by the nearby store which is now in pretty good shape under new ownership and not have to drive clear across town to shop.

The other big responsibility is the Menomonie Quilt Festival.  Somehow, I have ended up being in charge of the Festival!   If you want to check it out, we're on Facebook.  Just search for it by name. or click on this link.  It's not going to happen until mid-November but there's a lot that has to happen between now and then.  We just got the FB group up and running last week and there's a lot of material that needs to be put in there. That's the big stressor--there are deadlines that have to be met as far as publicity goes, and I haven't got all the information yet.  Makes me a little crazy when that happens!

I'll just give you a nutshell version of what the Festival is all about.  Every two years my guild participates in a fundraiser for the local domestic abuse program. It's called The Quilt Tour and it's a series of quilt shows by the local groups set up in churches around town. Kind of like a garden tour but with this, you go from one quilt show to the other. They raffle off quilts and baskets of really nice things as well.

I was at a planning meeting last April, and they were discussing bringing in a keynote speaker but didn't know who to ask.
Barb's Big Mouth!
Well, I opened my big mouth and before I knew it, we had not only a speaker but a full weekend of activities planned and I was put in charge of it!  I have a great committee of women who are arranging the classes, the speaker and luncheon, the barn quilt tour and the Quilts of Valor ceremony.  I also have a great publicity person and 2 wonderful techies who do their thing.  So why am I stressed?  There are a lot of details that I have to attend to and lots of decisions that have to be made.

I know all of this will be worked out in the end, but I wish all the loose ends were tied right now! Then I could relax and simply let it happen. By the way, the reason for having this Festival is to raise additional funds for the domestic abuse program.  I have a goal, in my head, of generating $5000 to donate.  Wish us luck!

So yesterday, I worked on a number of computer tasks--writing FB posts, writing up a grant request--and I also began the housecleaning that I've neglected all summer.  I should have the house in some kind of cleanliness and order before the meeting tonight, right?

No sewing was done--just a little knitting on a doll sweater that I'm making. Oh, yes, that's the other stressor in my life right now.  As part of the Quilt Tour, my guild is running a store that we're filling with handmade items.  I'm making clothes for 18" dolls (like American Girl) and I'm feeling the pressure to get to work on that task. I have the fabrics, patterns, and trims. Just to sit down and do the work.  The guild has planned a work day in the middle of Sept where we will gather to work on the items for the store, and I plan to get a lot done at that time.

Today's tasks are 1) clean the house and 2) prepare food for the meeting tonight.  If there's time, I'll tackle the latest picking of green beans that need to be dealt with. Here I go!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

At the cabin . .

We met with family who are also good friends. Had a little conversation, drank a bit of beer and ate a delicious meal hot off from the grill. Three of the 6 of us are gluten intolerant and they truly enjoyed the mint chocolate brownies I brought.  Check yesterday's post to find out more about these luscious treats!

Don and I drove 1 hour to the Orange Moose hotel where I had a 10 am meeting on Saturday instead of driving 2.5 hours home and then another 1.5 to go to the meeting this morning.  So Don got to see where my guild goes on retreat and he was quite impressed, I think.

The meeting went well--we got all the details nailed down for the upcoming 4 day retreat in October.  and now we're home. I have the kitchen to myself to finally get the dilly beans done!

When they're finished, I'll be working on the two most recent Bee-utiful quilt along blocks.  They are so very cute!  This is No. 18


and this came out today


I really like the pickup filled with flowers but I'll have to be disciplined and work on the barn first. The last block will be released on the 25th along with assembly directions. I'm so eager to see this quilt put together!  I know it's going to be so sweet!

That's it.  Dilly beans are calling!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yea! It's the weekend!

As soon as I'm finished writing this post, I have to pack a bag and get ready to go to the cabin.  Yea for Don and me!  His cousin has a cabin about 2 hours drive from here and we go there every year for a family gathering and cookout. This year, we're not coming home after but we're staying in the hotel where my guild holds its fall retreat.  I call it the "Orange Moose" hotel but it's really a Best Western in Black River Falls.

Best Western Arrowhead Lodge & Suites!

Isn't she (or he) a beauty!  This orange moose is huge and can be easily seen from the freeway as you pass. Great marketing device, I think.  

Anyway, we're staying there because I have a meeting with the hotel staff and the retreat committee on Saturday morning and it's a lot of driving back and forth for us to come back home tonight.  

After we return home, Don will continue his adventure with pickle making--he put up 28 quarts of spicy hot dill pickles already with another 28 more to go.  I have to put up a few pints of dilly beans and the rest will go in the freezer.

Today the 18th block of the Bee-utiful Quilt Along was released:  


And here's the link if you want to get it for yourself:  I was all caught up with the blocks so last night I decided to try my hand at knitting with the wrist splint on. Not a problem!  It's a little clumsy but I got used to that.

Let me explain about my knitting adventures. In November, the local domestic abuse program holds a fundraiser called The Quilt Tour.  There are four sites where local quilters display their work and guests go from one to the other, kind of like a garden tour.  At the church where my guild displays, we also offer a lunch and have a store where we have handmade items for sale.  Mostly gifty things since it's the middle of November and the holidays are nearing.  I decided to make doll clothes for 18" dolls like American Girl. I found a couple of sweater patterns online--a pullover and a cardigan--and I'm knitting a dozen or so to go with the dresses and slacks that I'm sewing. As soon as I can, I'm going to go full steam at sewing doll clothes and get as many finished as I possibly can.  Whatever doesn't sell in the shop I'll put in my Etsy store, Jolly Ruby.  Half of the proceeds from the store and the lunch go to the domestic abuse program and half are kept by the guild, so we want to make as much money as we can. I also have a recipe for an orange and spice scented bar soap and for a lavender milk bath that I'll be making up as well. So, as usual, I have a full plate in front of me.

But now, it's off to pack my bag and get out of here!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another "relaxing" day

Yes, I practiced relaxing yesterday and I must say I did very well for someone who hasn't really done much relaxing for quite awhile.  (The above statement is code for "I was lazy and sat on my rear end all afternoon!")  

And the reason for such laziness is this:  

I have  De Quervain's Tendonosis in my left wrist.  I finally saw the doc yesterday after suffering with wrist pain since mid-May and she diagnosed it as tendinitis.  I'd overdone it on a knitting project one evening in May and the next day, Holy Cow! Did my wrist ever hurt when I used it!  I thought it was a simple sprain but when it didn't get better in a few weeks, I knew it was something other than that. but after 2 months and it wasn't getting better, I decided it was time to see the doc. The diagnosis didn't really surprise me.

However, I have to wear the lovely wrist splint shown above for 6 to 8 weeks while this thing heals.  And Doc said I was to stop knitting!  Well, you can guess what I think of that idea.  Last night I tried holding my embroidery hoop in my left hand and although it's a bit clumsy, I was able to do it without any stress on the thumb.  So today I'll try to do a bit of knitting and see how that goes.

So all my great plans to get things done yesterday went out the window and the chores are still waiting for me!  Why can't there be a Housework Fairy like the shoemaker's elf who comes in at night and does the housework chores for me!  Not fair!

Today, I have a meeting at 1 and nothing else planned. I have to make a pan of brownies before the meeting. We're going to Don's cousin's cabin this weekend and I always bring a gluten-free dessert for the Celiac people in the crowd.  As well as for the rest of us.  This year, it's Chocolate Mint Brownies:
  Gluten-free Mint Layered Brownies. Copycat recipe for brownies I fell in love with at a now-closed bakery. Delicious!

and here's the recipe if you want to try it too.  I've made this several time and they are truly delicious!  If I bake the brownies this morning, they'll be cool enough for me to add the mint layer and the ganache in time for it to refrigerate all night.

And here are a few more of the Bee-utiful blocks that I've done:

This dapper fella was done up with a red embroidered tie and a red band around his hat. Instead, I appliqued a piece of yellow batik for the tie and embroidered the hat band, also in yellow/gold

The designer embroidered all of these flowers but I appliqued the yellow one and the red one.  And embroidered the bluebells--more satin stitch!--and the sunflower.

And I love this one of the bee hive hanging from the tree branch.  I'm considering going back and covering the hive with rows of vertical satin stitch as some of the members of the group have done. What do you think?

Speaking of thinking, when I got up this morning, I was thinking about the aqua and cream quilt that I was going to add pieced borders to and get it finished in time for the guild meeting on Sept. 6. That's only a little more than 2 weeks from now and I'm not sure I want that kind of pressure on me. So I may just put that project aside and not worry about it any more.  We'll see how guilty I feel for shirking my duty on this one.

That's it for today.  Baking is calling to me so I have to go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Adjusting to life without Lily

Yesterday seemed to simply fly by.  I felt like the dog who gets distracted by squirrels--Make the bed. Squirrel! Do some paperwork!  Squirrel! Get the laundry started!  Squirrel! Take things to the sewing room! Squirrel!, . . .  And on and on it went all day!  I'm usually very focused on the task at hand and take things in the order I've determined, but yesterday I found there were so many things I'd neglected while Lily was here that I just did whatever I happened to come across.  At the end of the day, I was satisfied that I'd accomplished at least a bit of what I'd planned on doing--and a lot of things I'd happened on that also got finished.

At least the laundry was done so I have clean underwear!  And I got some groceries that we needed for dinner.  For supper I made what we call "Bobsled Beans."  Lily doesn't like them so it's been several months since we had this dish which is one of our favorite vegetarian meals.  It's actually called "Jamaican Bobsled Team Beans and Rice" but of course, we've shortened it!  Here's a link to the recipe if you want to check it out:  It's humble simple and nutritious and tasty. I used a Jalapeno pepper instead of the Habanero and I usually serve it with brown rice.  Sorry, but I can't find a picture of it on line and the batch I cooked last night is all eaten up without any pictures taken. 

I also got 6 bags of green beans in the freezer and when Don came home from the garden he brought more beans and some broccoli.  I remembered that I'd promised to make dilly beans for my friends who love Bloody Marys so I hope to get that done this afternoon.

But, you want to see some pics, don't you?  I promised I'd post pics of the Bee-utiful blocks I've embroidered--all 17 of them, but only a few at a time.  Each of these blocks has at least one bumblebee in it and they are satin stitched in yellow and black. I love embroidery but satin stitch has been one thing that I've avoided like the plague!  For some reason, I could never get the threads to lay flat and close together and it always looked like crap. But I'm liking the satin stitching I'm doing on these blocks. I think it's because the areas to be covered are narrow and because I'm outlining each area and satin stitching over the outline. That way I'm getting a nice smooth edge--most of the time. :-)

This simple block called for satin stitch for all the petals and a new-to-me stitch for the flower stem. It looks rather complicated but actually was easy to do.

I realized when I took the pic of this watermelon block that I'd forgotten to complete the star section  just right of center. Sometimes I don't see errors until I've taken a picture.  So I'm glad I found this now instead of after the quilt is finished!

This block of the cat, the bee and the flowers is the first one that was released and it's the one that caught my heart!  I love my cat and my flowers and this just looked so cute I had to start the entire project.  Squirrel!

This morning I took out the quilt top I'd made to donate to the guild's charity project. It's Bonnie Hunter's Roll Roll Cotton Boll done in aqua and neutral.

I thought I just had borders to put on but when I looked at it, I think it's a little small for a twin size.  In order to make this quilt into the correct size, I'd have to add about 10" border, adding 20" all total!  My first thought was to make more blocks, but now I'm thinking that maybe it would be easier and faster to make several pieced borders that would add up to 10" on a side.  I think I have enough of the aqua fabrics and I have tons of neutrals and if I have to improvise with the aquas, that's okay since it's a scrappy quilt to begin with.  This afternoon, I'll be in the sewing room, making borders!

But first, I have a few squirrels to chase around!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Time to get back to my blog

It's been about 2 months since I posted on this blog, and I want to correct that habit. I've never been a regular blogger, except when I challenge myself to post everyday for a month or something.  But I've never gone 2 MONTHS without a post!

I feel as though I'm beginning anew, even though I've had this blog for so many years I can't remember, and I'm too lazy to go look it up.  So I'm going to offer a little intro for you in case you've forgotten who I am.  :-)  Retired social worker, passionate about quilting, and more recently, about embroidery.  Wife of a retired school administrator, mother of 3 grown kids, grandmother to one and step-grand to 3 more.  Living in Menomonie WI--for those who're interested, that's in West Central WI,closer to Minneapolis than any large city in WI.  I like to cook, a little gardening, and lots of reading.  That's it in a nutshell, I guess. Not too exciting but it is what it is.  ,

So, the reason I've not been blogging is that my life this summer has been focused on granddaughter Lily.  She's 12 years old and lives in Maine with her mother and spends the summers in WI with us.  We've been on the go with her since mid-June when we drove to Maine to bring her back home with us.  In addition to swimming and horseback riding, we've been on a few road trips with her--

Rodeo Parade

The Spooner rodeo parade where I let the local politicians know my views about the state of the State, waved at the local beauty queens, and Lily managed to snag a few Tootsie Rolls from the parade floats. We skipped the rodeo this year since I took Lily to it last year and there's only so many rodeos one can handle in a lifetime, IMHO.

No, this isn't Elaine!
 We spent a day with my friend, Elaine, at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI where Lily searched for Pokemon Go creatures, and where we saw some very unusual animals like the Capybara above, the world's largest rodent from South America, which may be a model for a Pokemon Go character, I don't know.

The three of us took a trip to beautiful Lake of the Ozarks, MO to search out a location for next year's family reunion.  We found a very nice resort that will work well for our family, and we had time to make a side trip to Mansfield, MO, home of Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder and their daughter, Rose.  I loved reading the Little House books when I was a girl, daughter Tessa loved them as well, and now her daughter, Lily, is a big Laura fan.  When Lily and Tessa lived here in Wisconsin we went to "Laura Days" several times in Pepin, WI, site of the original "Little House in the Big Woods."

Mansfield is a very well preserved documentation of Laura's adult life--a museum where lots of the family's possessions are on display including 2 amazing quilts that Laura pieced and appliqued, the farm house shown above where the family lived most of their lives, and the stone house that Rose built for her parents in the 1920s and where they lived for 8 years, I think. And the fee included a tour of the property with a very well informed guide.  Luckily for us, the buildings had air conditioning because the day we were there it was 97 F with 55% humidity!  I don't know how people lived in that kind of heat back in the day!  I guess they moved very slowly and didn't stress out about it.  

After we concluded our trip in MO, we drove to Peoria, IL where we met up with Don's family for a reunion of that branch. Since we had extra time on the way, we stopped in Springfield and checked out Abe Lincoln's home where he, Mary and the boys lived before he became president.  This is a National Historical site and it includes a museum with gift shop, of course, the house pictured above, and the National Park Service has restored the area surrounding the house for about 2 blocks all around. So, the neighborhood appears exactly as it did when Lincoln lived there.  Again, we had a very well informed ranger who took us through the house and told us about the Lincolns' lives in Springfield.  Not only was this very well done, as are all the National Park sites I've been too, this one was FREE!  That's right, ladies and gents, no charge for anything--except souvenirs in the gift shop. I appreciate that this is open to everyone to see, but I certainly would have been willing to pay a fee for it.  Wow!  I guess this is my tax dollars at work.  :-)


Needless to say, with all this gallivanting about, I did very little in the sewing room this summer. However, I discovered the Bee-utiful quilt-a-long offered by the Moda Bake Shoppe. Above is the completed quilt posted on the site, and so far 17 of the 20 blocks have been released.  These little blocks are absolutely addicting!  They're the perfect handwork for me to take with to riding lessons, and other places where I've had to sit and wait, as well as while watching TV in the evenings.  I've managed to pretty much keep up and have only a little left to do on #17.  I'll be showing you my individual blocks over the next few days.  

The fabrics used in the quilt are from a line called "Bee Creative" by Deb Strain for Moda fabrics. I was able to find them at the LQS so I'm all set to go on putting the blocks together.  I didn't want to spend time in the sewing room when I could be spending time with Lily, so now that she's gone home, I want to get on it.  The designer, Pamela Morgan from used a jelly roll to piece the sashing but I'm going to use a single fabric from the line, patterned with bees, and honeycomb fabric for the corner posts instead. I find the pieced sashing a little too busy for my taste and I think it draws attention away from the embroidery.  

In addition I have a charity quilt to finish up in time to give to the guild at the September meeting. But today, I first have to spend some time in the rest of the house.  There are green beans that need to go in the freezer, a bathroom that desperately need a cleaning, a trip to the grocery store, and of course, the ever present pile of dirty laundry is calling my name.  After those things are done, I'll see if I have the time and the energy to make it to the sewing machine! I think I'll need to do some fabric fondling by that time!

So, that's pretty much how I spent my summer vacation.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free!  I'd love to hear from you!