Irish Lake Quilter

......snippets and quilts, family, pets and friends....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pineapple Quilt

There is a small group of quilters that I discovered last summer while we were at the cottage. The small town nearby has a community center where we meet every Monday morning, either for a meeting or for sit-and-sew. One of the group projects is a batik pineapple quilt that must be done for the show in June. Of course, I opened my mouth and said that it would look good with appliqued guessed it - I'm appliquing like a mad woman! The picture is the auditioning of fabrics, most of which I'm using and there will be a narrow pink border between the appliqued one and the quilt. It has to be at the quilter by the first of March so push time has arrived. I don't think I'll do quite as much applique as I originally planned, but I think it will still look good.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Special Christmas Memories

In 1988, we decided that the time spent opening Christmas gifts came and went much too quickly on Christmas morning. Try as we might..........the kids waited at the top of the steps, the smell of the Swedish Tea Rings baking in the oven, waiting until Dad got the video camera balanced and ready to go. The presents were passed out and each waited until the other had opened a present and so on. But still it seemed to vanish into thin air and the magic quickly disappeared. That year, a pair of roller blades and some Legos were the hot tickets. We decided that a treasure hunt would slow things down and add to the excitement of those much sought-after gifts. Jim got in touch with his poetic side and wrote a series of clues in a 4 line poem, leaving out the last word which described the spot for the next clue. After finding 3 sets, the final one took them to their prize. We had soooo much fun! We had to read the clues in the early years as they helped each other find their gifts and only one at a time could be hunting. By the time high school rolled around and the college years often busy years, it wasn't too cool to do such silly things, so the tradition was set aside.

Zoom forward to 2007. Those two young ones are now in their mid-twenties and the question "are we having a treasure hunt this year?" was presented to us. Oh dear! Jim had to dig deep to find those rhymes and clues but we had not one, not two, but three! treasure hunts devised and they also included Anne, Chris's girlfriend.

Now to backtrack again....... Each summer at the cottage the two guys would pair up with their cousins and spend many hours playing board games. Their all-time favorite was the game Hotels that Grandma had given to their cousins. Weekend after weekend for many years, the four spent time on the floor gathered around the coffee table playing the game. For years we searched garage sales but could never find the game. Finally, this year when the cousins were all together talking about those fun memories and Anne said "oh I LOVE that game!" we decided to hit E-Bay and see what we could do. We got the game and I'm not sure who was more excited that we had something that none of the three would ever guess. So, on Friday night as we gathered around the table, Jim passed out the first of the clues. Such laughter and giggling! My my would have thought we had struck gold in them thar hills when they finally found the package under the sofa!! They pushed aside all else and began assembling pieces, talking about the way it was played, the fun times they've had and how much they wanted to get right to it. The game started as soon as the rest of the presents had been opened. By 2 a.m. they were nodding off but staunchly hanging in there not wanting the game to end and as the night turned into morning, they gave up and went to bed. It's for sure they will remember this Christmas hunt and it will be right up there with the rollerblades, the Legos, the GI Joes, the Micro Machines and all those other wonderful Christmas memories. We will remember those special peals of laughter as well. Christmas is such a delightful and magical time! I hope yours is special too!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas presents

Retirement means very little time alone - the kind of time one needs to get quilts made for your husband! I've managed to get the quilt to the point of binding, but I think he is suspicious. Oh well.....he'll just have to act surprised instead of being truly surprised.

Jim is a woodworker and loves to putter in his shop. He also likes to make wooden jigsaw puzzles - like the kind you buy at Wal-Mart only better. He takes a photo, has it enlarged, adheres it to a special piece of wood and then works his magic. His puzzles are all interlocking and can usually be picked up by one corner and the whole puzzle stays intact.

Anyway, a couple of years ago on a quilting weekend, my friends suggested I make Jim a puzzle quilt and even went so far as to buy a pattern. The pattern had squared off "bumps" and wasn't interlocking. So I designed my own and came up with a puzzle quilt for him. I don't even want to guess how much I spent searching for all kinds of novelty fabrics depicting the things that he likes.........from french fries to a muscle car to our special pup, Jordan. The bumps were all sewn on by hand and that took some evenings in the upstairs when he wasn't around.

I'm down to binding it now and hope to have it all done by Christmas. It isn't a pretty quilt at all. But it has all the things that mean something to him. I think he'll like it!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


We have walls, a roof and altho the picture doesn't show it, windows, a furnace and some plumbing. The upper left window is in the kitchen area, bottom right is the laundry room with my quilting area behind it. The place isn't real big but it will greatly improve life as we know it when we have kids or company come to visit us at the lake cottage! And...I get to have some space where I can spread out and just close the door when I want to leave it.

Mom has been here for the past week. As part of her Christmas present, I took her to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show. It was really awesome, especially the live nativity. Mom enjoyed it all and it made me glad I took her. She is 84 and still loves to get out and go. I saw the Rockettes in NY in the late 70's, enjoyed them then and again this past week.

Quilting has taken a back seat for several weeks. Other than making several go-green grocery bags, I haven't done any sewing at all. I'm really ready to get some done! There's been just too much going on and I want to be organized when I go back to my projects. So, patience is being practiced, much against my will!!

We are experiencing a blast of Ol' Man Winter today. Lots of icy stuff all over the ground and the car when we came out of Macy's after doing some Christmas shopping. It is one of those days when a fire, something warm to drink and a bit of quilting feels good. I'll get back to it in a week or two......

Monday, November 12, 2007

Demolition Time

The cottage where we have spent many summer weekends over the past 30 years was built in the late 40's by Jim's Uncle Jay. He raised his family there and we've done the same with our guys. It is a very small place (700 sf) and now that our sons are older, we need extra bedroom space. Rather than tear down the cottage, we decided it to be smarter for now to demolish the garage and build a new one with living quarters above it. My sister in law and I spent countless hours playing around with floor plans this summer and finally landed on one that works. We'll have 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a living/kitchen combo or about 900 sf upstairs. Below will be a laundry room, workshop, space for one car and possibly a quilt room for me!

Demolition took place a few weeks ago and today we heard that framing has started. Long distance building isn't real easy, but we make the trip there about once a week to see the progress. The builder promises that it will be framed in by Christmas and then Jim will finish the inside work during the winter. Picking out cabinets, lights, appliances and some furniture should keep me busy during the cold winter months. I'm also planning quilts for all the beds and how I will set up my space with all my quilty stuff. Isn't dreaming about quilting time a lot of fun?!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Retreat Challenge

In September I was fortunate enough to go to a retreat at the same place as the one I went to in May. Many of the same gals were there and we had a great time! New friends were also made. The amount of talent in that place was phenomenal! We laughed til we cried and ate enough to make us explode, but we also got a lot of quilting done. One gal, Mary, issues a challenge to us and this time it was the Paint Chip Challenge. She went to the paint store and got one of every color of the paint strips. Then she placed them face down on the floor, mixed them up and chose three at a time. Those three went into an envelope with instructions. We all picked an envelope at random. I think I lucked out! That same weekend when we went to Shipshewana as a group, there was an endcap with fabric that I think looks pretty good with the paint strips! My plan is to make a Vera Bradley kind of tote for quilting stuff. Of course, I have until September to get it done so it may be a while!

Mary also issued a challenge for the May Retreat. It is a bit harder and I haven't come up with a good plan. We are to make a quilt (36" or larger) that shows inspiration, or how our May group made us feel. Lots of hand applique ideas are floating around in my head, but I need to be realistic on time. Not enough days or years left for all of my quilty wishes and dreams!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

We are long past the days of Trick or Treating at our house. In fact, last year we had no goblins come to our door. How sad - I had to eat all those candy bars! But, as I think about our guys and the past Halloweens, a few fun ones come to mind. The first one I remember so well is one that Chris had strep throat and couldn't go out. They were 4 and 2 at the time. Michael had limited verbal skills but excellent social skills. Every person he met was his friend (and is still that way). Since we couldn't go out, the boys were allowed to hand out the candy, Chris from a distance. Michael, however, was worried that people would go by and not stop, so he stood in the doorway and shouted at all the ghosts and goblins..."hey you guys, come heah, me give you candy!" And then there were the years that the Dads took the kids out. Three Dads, 6 kids. The Dads insisted that they needed a wagon just in case the kids got tired and needed to be pulled home. In reality, they needed the wagon to hold the beer that they bought to help them get thru the miles of walking that the kids put them thru! Those were the days...........such fun memories! Hope all your memories are fun ones and that you have a smile on your face as you greet your goblins tonight!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Drew's Quilt

Let me tell you a little about Drew.....well-liked, kind, brother, son, college student, teacher of indigent children in Turkey, teacher and worker in a small mission in Mexico, environmentalist, full of life and energy. He died at age 21, and over 1000 neighbors and friends came to the celebration of his life. Drew was the son of a gal who became a good friend when our son needed a career counselor. Drew was a college student and gave up his summers to work with children in poor areas and then, gave up his car for a bike because he felt his car wasn't environmentally sound. Unfortunately, he was killed while riding his bike.

After Drew's death, I told Amy I'd like to make her a quilt from Drew's shirts that she and her husband could use as a hug when they needed it. It took her nearly two years to be able to get the shirts together for the quilt - it has been a very rough time for them - and once I got them, I knew I had to do it right away. It was an emotionally hard one to make and truly a labor of love for a friend. It will be a Christmas gift for her husband.

I put the top together during my recent retreat and it didn't go quite as my graphed design indicated, but it is done and will be sent to the quilter this week. I hope it will provide a tiny bit of comfort to them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It has been a busy few weeks and I keep thinking that I need to post........ Going between the cottage and home has it's pluses and minuses. The minus part is getting to fight Chicago traffic and then trying to get everything caught up at home before returning. I'm happy to do it, though, because I realize that life is good whenever I return to either place! Today the lake is a mirror that followed an early morning of steam rising from a warm lake into cooler air. The ducks and swans don't seem to mind the cool air, but my toes and nose do!

It's almost time for our church's annual garage sale and I am in charge of it. That takes a lot of time and while we were home last time, I called a meeting of the helpers. While chatting with one of my cohorts, she asked me if I had a room dedicated to sewing. Well, sort of.......I share it with a twin bed in case we need it, but mostly it is mine. She then asked if I would like to have her thimble collection that was displayed in a printer's drawer. Of course! She has traveled all over the world and has collected everything from Waterford to Mickey Mouse. She had a few little things in it that aren't thimbles but will they fill the holes until I get around to putting mine in with hers. Mine are mostly antique ones but these are fun and fancy, not utilitarian. The second picture shows a few of the ones I found interesting.

Tonight is the start of a 5 day retreat that I am attending near the cottage. I've had my project list made for weeks and am excited to go and laugh and sew! Hopefully, I will finish the applique on the quilt I call Bee Quilt #1 and will get the blocks done on the Bee Trees quilt. Then, if I can find sashing fabric for a T-shirt quilt, I'll try to get that one sewn as well. The T's are all fused to the non-woven backing and are trimmed to the right sizes. The group will go to Shipshewana for breakfast at the Blue Gate on Saturday, then we will shop at Lolly's and Yoder's, both wonderful quilt shops. Hopefully, I'll find just the right fabric for the T-shirt quilt. I've made my Pretzel Kisses, have my share of tonight's dinner ready to go (potatoes and Tornado Cake will be my part) and by mid afternoon will be headed to the lakeside lodge and a few days of fun! Wish you were here to join in the fun!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


It has been one of those weeks where doing anything that requires a lot of attention or a lot of time just isn't in the works for me. It has been a hard week to focus on anything. We returned home from the cottage on Tuesday thinking that we would return on Thursday. No need to bring my sewing machine and projects with me.......or so I thought. Once home, we've found that we needed to be here for longer than planned, so my projects are 150 miles down the road and I am here! I tried using another sewing machine to work on my Bee Trees blocks but it just doesn't measure that 1/4" the same. However, I needed to get some sewing in each day just so I could have my fabric fix. While reading one of the Stashbusters digests, I saw that a gal is collecting pillow cases for children with cancer. I figured that it didn't matter which machine I used for that so I pulled some fabrics and came up with a few to send to her. These fabrics called my name many months ago at Hobby Lobby. Now I know why!

It's a gloomy, rainy day and almost a bit chilly at times. We had huge thunderboomers last night with lots of unneeded rain. If this keeps up, the mosquitoes will be of a size to BBQ! Tonight I'm going to sew the bindings on two queen size flannel quilts that I made last winter. It has been too hot for handling flannel and tonight is a good night to do them. Hope you all are staying high and dry!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Charms and Construction

They jumped out at me and I had to take them home with me! These are the Moda charms from the Roman Holiday collection that I purchased at the Chicago show in April. I bought them at The Creative Stitch from North Manchester IN, a small town near the cottage. I frequent it fairly often. One of these days, they promise to have a website. We are getting ready to build a garage here at the lake with living area above it and I'm thinking I might like this in one of the bedrooms. The sashing is Moda's Crackle in a light gold and that would be kind of pretty on the walls.

Currently, we are moving a couple of walls in our teeny-tiny cottage kitchen and putting our fridge where there was a closet. Now that most of it is put back together, I know it looks like we've done nothing. My grandmother always called it a "one-butt kitchen" we'll have room for two butts! :>) It's amazing how big the footprint of a fridge is! As Jim works on the electrical or the plumbing, I sneak in a few seams on the Roman Holiday squares. The rest of the time I've been the cleaner-upper or the gopher. He does a great job on these projects but we're always happy when they're done. The next phase calls for cabinets that he will build, new counter tops and some new flooring. We're trying to make the proverbial silk purse out of a sow's ear but it's cheaper than starting from scratch. You'll be hearing a lot about the old garage demolition and the new construction. I'm excited about some extra space for company.

Tonight is a night alone - just me and my gal, Leah. Jim is at his class reunion.........a good time for some extra stitching, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer are here. I wonder why they are called "dog days"? In the small town where I grew up, there were Dog Day Sales with the local merchants. Maybe hot, summer days are slow, lazy days - just like some dogs? Our love, Leah, doesn't seem to mind the heat as long as there is a rabbit to chase or a ball to retrieve, but she definitely hits the floor in a big FLOP when she comes in and recharges her batteries. Here she has parked herself in the car wearing her "you're not leaving without me!" look. My days have been slow and lazy lately as well. The snuggly feeling of fabric just isn't high on my list and those long days of doing nothing but quilting are but a vague memory right now. Yesterday a few blocks got sewn together as I sat in front of a breeze off the lake, but even that breeze wasn't enough to entice me to stay at my sewing machine. The swing and a good book called and off I went. How are you spending your dog days?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sew-In Fun

This morning was a great, but cool, morning for outdoor church. The local Methodist church sponsors a lakeside/boat-in service for anyne who wants to attend the 7:37 a.m. gathering. The unusual time was set so that no one would forget what time church starts! We all take our coffee, lawn chairs and jackets to a large grassy knoll that looks out over the lake, listen to some great music, have a homemade snack, visit with those we know and don't know and generally have a delightful, peaceful start to our Sunday morning. Things like this make life pretty good.

Yesterday some gals from the May Retreat met in a small town not far from here for an all -day sew-in. We got a little bit of sewing done............but more laughing than anything! Why is it that when quilters get together there is more hooting and hollering than working? Show and tell, advice asked and given on current projects and lunch at the local diner took us thru nearly 2 o'clock! I think we all always enjoy a good time, good friends and of course, chocolate! :>) I got the pieces cut for the pinwheel blocks yesterday and sewed them this morning. The top will end up being about 50 x 60 and a donation to charity at the September retreat.
The top shown here is the one purchased last week at the Topeka Quilt Show. Each border was a different fabric which was OK but didn't suit my taste. I found some coordinating fabrics while at home last week and put it on the quilt. News that our local quilt shop is going out of business was in the mail, much to my dismay, although we've known it was coming for some time. The fabrics still found at the shop are a little outdated and that worked to my advantage. She still had some of the Holly Taylor fabrics that were in the top so now the borders are on and it can be sent to the quilter.
And one more picture to evening before some much needed rain came through........ life is good.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Topeka Rose

The Topeka Rose is a very simple, but pretty, applique pattern. The signs around the small country town advertising the Topeka Quilt Show were a soft pink and carried a dainty air about them. They were placed so visitors could find their way to the tidy, little red brick church on the corner of Pine and Babcock. Cars were parked along the tree-lined streets and a few held gentlemen patiently waiting for their wives who had come to satisfy their quilting urges.

As I entered the church, almost with a feeling of reverence for where I was, there was a bit of excitement in the air. Old friends greeting one another. The white haired lady taking money was a former grade school teacher and the slightly graying lady in front of me was one of her former students. They greeted each other with hugs, smiles and laughter, catching up on each others' lives. I wish I could know more of my former students! As I joined the crowd, others could be heard renewing their annual hellos and catching up briefly on what was going on while those like me, quietly looked and touched with glove-covered hands.

In what we have always called the "vestibule" and others call the "narthex", there were piles of quilts that had already been spoken for, off to the side. Beautiful hand appliqued bed size quilts hung from the dividers and had price tags on them. I wondered how anyone could let go of such beauties. My experience has always been that an appliqued quilt becomes too much a part of my life simply because of the hours, life events that get stitched into the quilt and the thoughts or memories that go with those bits of fabric. I would never be able to come up with a price fair to either me or the purchaser. The sanctuary was full full full. Racks held completed quilts, Christmas tree skirts, lap quilts and wallhangings. Quilt tops, donated and not yet quilted, draped over the backs of the worn oak pews that have held hundreds of worshipers over the years. I wonder how many of those who have sat or now sit in those pews are quiltmakers. I love old church pews.........there is something about smooth, old, wood that is well worn by the touch of hands, that tugs at my heartstrings.

I found a top that will get new borders before I send it to the quilter. This top will go to a young man who just moved into his first apartment. The price was such that I couldn't buy fabric for the price they were asking and different borders will give it a new, more masculine look.

As I made my way through the maze of friendly quilters and quilts, I saw several of the gals from the quilt group near the cottage and after a few words, an invitation to Tiffany's for lunch was given. Of course I'd go - I never turn down an invitation to lunch!! :>) Tiffany's is a small, white building with a large parking lot lined for cars and a hitching post for horses. The food there is really good, down-home cooking! Homemade chicken and noodles, served over real mashed potatoes (I think it is a midwestern thing), pork manhattans and homemade pies. Yum Yummmmm. Almost sinful! The German Chocolate Pie was sinfully good as well - and I ate the whole piece! Lunch time brings in the locals as well as the area visitors. The Amish lady across the aisle, reminded me of my grandmother who was born in 1883 and was raised with religion reflected in her clothing. Men with farmers' tans, young Amish girls working as waitresses and lots of quilters filled the large room with noise.

Following the much-too-much for lunch, we headed to Shipshewana and some shopping. Shipshe is becoming very commercial, but there are two very good quilt shops there that always get my attention several times during the summer. I found sashing for a T-shirt quilt that I'm helping a friend do at Yoder's, some 25% off fabrics at Lolly's and a few birthday gifts for quilty friends before I headed home. It was a truly delightful day - just the kind a quilter loves to have.......quilt ideas, friends, chocolate and fabric purchases on a sunny summer afternoon!

This year was the last year that the show would be held in Topeka at the church. 33 years is a long time reported the gray haired lady at the checkout. It will be moved down the road a ways to Honeyville where there is more space. On the way home, the urge to drive thru Honeyville hit me. There is a very large quilt sale held there every year and my curiosity got the best of me. Honeyville is small - so small that there are no stoplights and only one stop sign, a few homes and an old school where the show will be held. A former general store sits empty and another antiques shop is at the edge of town, but the local color of buggies and bonnets is missing.

I suppose after 33 years it is time to move on, but the setting and the comraderie felt in that little brick church was something special. I wonder what they will do with those pretty pink signs.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Oh, I Wish I Had Taken My Camera!

Here in northern IN, the corn is passing the knee high before the 4th of July test and fields of grain are turning golden - summer is here. Quilting often takes a back seat to outside activities and adventures and it is a time to explore one's world. Small town IN is one of those places where one can enjoy a double dip ice cream cone at an old-fashioned soda fountain or hear an old wooden floor creak as one enters the local hardware store. Wooden screen doors slamming shut are often heard as one enters the world of those who are not on the fast-paced time of those around them. On a sleepy Wednesday afternoon in June, an unknown quilt shop beckoned and nagged at the thoughts in my head. I and a neighbor got in my car and headed to a little town about 30 miles north. I had heard that there was a quilt shop in Wakarusa but didn’t know much about it. We chatted as we traveled and soon found it. Sidewalk Days, a summer ritual in most small towns, were coming up and bins were filled with sale fabrics. Following some shopping, we inquired about other quilting places in the area.. "Go down highway 19 to County Road 46. Go east a few miles and you will find one, Martin’s Quilt Shop". We nearly missed the small sign by the mailbox. It was tucked at the end of a lane amid the cornfields. The drive circled under a giant oak shading the small gray outbuilding that looked like someone’s workshop off to the side of the house. As we pulled in, a white haired Mennonite lady came from the house to open the shop and turn on the lights. It was filled with probably 200 hand-made quilts of all sizes. We were looking for fabrics, but we didn’t let that stop us from admiring her handiwork and chatting about our common interest. As we started to leave, I noticed several cookbooks on her desk near the door. Being a collector of cookbooks, I looked through a couple before I came upon the Martin Family Cookbook. The shop owner, Mary Alice, explained that it was a compilation of her family’s favorites and showed us one of her father’s favorites - Homemade Apple Butter. It makes enough for a small army, but he had 17 children so that much was probably needed during the year. Under the recipe was a story about Mary Alice falling into the well on Apple Butter Making Day and how Grandpa Martin pulled her to safety. Interesting stories appeared at the end of many of these recipes. At that point I knew I wanted to buy the book and she asked if I’d like to have her autograph the Apple Butter recipe. An autograph won’t make this book more valuable, but from the proud look on her face, I could tell it meant a lot to her. She then asked if we’d like to go in the house and have Edna and Miriam sign the book as well. I was hooked and although I had no idea who Edna or Miriam were, I replied that I’d love that!
We walked the few steps to the house and down three steps into what would be the family room in most homes. To my complete and utter surprise, there were three Mennonite ladies sitting at an old quilting frame working on another quilt for the shop! I was hit with a feeling of returning to my Grandmother’s era. White starched net hats covered their snowy colored hair that had gentle waves reaching back to the buns on the back of their heads. Summer weight dresses in pastels helped with keeping cool on a hot day. My delight with this discovery was evident and the fact that I had come to get recipes autographed was no longer as important as what they were doing. I was more intrigued by their quilting skills and immediately went to each one’s section to admire tiny, tiny stitches loaded on their needles. Mary Alice explained to them that she had offered autographs and the ladies were happy to share the recipes that they had submitted. When asked why they turned in certain recipes, the stories began about "Grossmommy" and chocolate gravy and so on. Two of the ladies happily chatted and signed various recipes. The third, Elizabeth remained a bit quiet and kept working so I went to her and asked about her tiny stitches and other quilt related things. After a bit, I asked her to sign the book as well, but she said that although her name was Martin, she wasn’t in the same family and didn’t have any recipes in it. I asked her to sign it any way as a memory for our afternoon adventure and Miriam encouraged her to put her Strawberry Pie recipe in. Elizabeth neatly wrote the recipe from memory and signed the her name below it. She proudly told me about her recipe and some tricks to making it better. They all invited us to sit and stay awhile and even place a few stitches. We declined - but in hindsight, I might have learned to some ways to improve my quilting if we had done so. The offer was also made to open the quilt for us to see, but with respect for their work and time, we said we wouldn’t ask that of them. The quilt was nearly finished and the four women had been at the frame for almost five days, sitting and chatting with each other about the things that make up their lives.
If I had had my camera with me, I’m not sure I would have asked for a picture. Most Amish do not want their faces photographed, but the Mennonite may be different in that way. I’m not sure. It would have been a wonderful printed memory. However, there is a wonderful picture stored in my mind that I’d love to see framed - that of four white haired women sitting at a homemade quilt frame, laughing and enjoying a sleepy summer afternoon, doing what they love to do.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quilts and Cicadas

Wow, it has been a while since I posted, but details of life often get in the way. We returned from the cottage for a few days only to be bombarded by Cicadas. Their mating call, which they emerge from the ground every 17 years to do, is quite loud and incessant for weeks at a time. We can hear them in our basement with the house windows closed. Noisy little buggers!! Fortunately, they become quiet at night. Since we border virgin forests, we are blessed with many of these large bugs in the trees, on the screens, scrunched up on the driveway and flying thru the air. Some areas of ground that has not been disturbed since 17 years ago, looks like a machine gunner ran his gun over the ground - many, many holes where they have emerged. Where the ground has been disturbed in the past 17 years, there are very few bugs. Our friends live in a newer subdivision and have none at all. Interesting. I took a picture of one.

The bright yellow star quilt is done and on it's way to the quilter along with three others. It was a fun one to do and I'll probably donate it to charity. This week I'm going to try to finish the Bee Trees and work on the center of my Baltimore some more.....

The is small. Our sons want to bring friends and enjoy the place with us and we encourage them to come. However, beds are an issue and bathrooms a bigger one. So, if given permission by the county board, we've decided to tear down our very inadequate garage and replace it with a larger one with a small apartment upstairs. I spent several days last week drawing plans, jotting down ideas and dreaming about the quilts I can make to use in it! If all goes well - it depends on the permit process - we should be able to start in August and hopefully have a basic box done by Labor Day. That in itself will be great for the holiday as the younger crowd only wants a place to crash, shower and hang out. There will be an outdoor camp-style shower attached as well. (also a great place to shower the dog!) Jim will complete the inside work so that may take several more months. It should be useable next summer if things go as planned. Then it will be time to address the house which also needs to be bulldozed. It was built in the 40's as a weekend fishing cottage and the moisture has slowly taken it's toll. We love the knotty pine cabin interior, the view of the lake and the quaintness of the place so it will be hard to replace it.

We're off again for a week or two. My quilting is packed in my bag and the swing on the patio awaits some evening reflections. Enjoy this summer sunshine!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer in Full Swing

It has been way too long since I posted, but things have been busy. It is difficult to do a lot of computer work at the cottage where we've been for the past many days and with the holiday, things got hectic. Some sewing was accomplished - I got all the blocks done for another charity quilt, this one for a boy, wherever he may be. The sashings have been started and it will go much faster now.

The holiday was a lot of fun! We had 7 guests between the ages of 23 and 26, one, a friend of Anne's, was from Australia (far right) and the rest were friends of our guys. It was a time of lots of laughing and way too many big bodies in a too-small cottage, but we all scrunched and enjoyed the time even tho it wasn't such a great weekend weatherwise. The front yard was full of good natured ribbing and games. One, the lake version of golf, went on until the darkness came and when the lights came on, the bugs drove everyone inside.

We're home again for a few days so that such things as lawn cutting and general chores can be done. Then we're off again to the cottage where we will start plans for building a new garage. Everything there is from the 40's and is beginning to fall apart. We need more space and will make an apartment above the garage. Then, someday, we might tear the cottage down and build a year-round home. That is still on the back burner.

While home, I'm putting together some projects to take back with me and hope that I can get a few of them done. No promises! :>) But I do promise to get in as much quilting as I can!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Home again

The wedding of our niece was beautiful, set in a small church in the hills of Tennessee near Norris Lake. The bride was radiant in a simple strapless, straight embroidered gown, a bouquet of deep purple, yellow and white flowers. Following the reception and festivities, we took off for the Smoky Mountains to see God's handiwork. We were not disappointed and found that it was much more beautiful than we'd heard. It had been many, many years since any of us had been there so we oohed and aahed like the typical tourist. Up and down, over and around the roads with one view as good as the one before it. One road in particular was 6 full miles of nothing but switchbacks, right turns and left turns up and down hills with a most beautiful drive through the woods. Jim was on his toes and did a great job driving. In the tiny town of Cosby, we found Holloway's Quilt Shop. As the men were enjoying refreshments as they sat in the rocking chairs on the front porch of their log cabin shop, the gals were shopping and chatting with the shop workers. As the conversation progressed, we discovered that one gal was originally from a suburb only a few miles away from our Chicago home. We talked about a lot of common interests in the Chicago area. Then, to our amazement, she mentioned having worked at the District BSA office - a place Jim frequents at least weekly in his BSA work - and she knows many of the people he comes into contact with for Boy Scout activities. A small, small world, eh? Part of the charm of this place is not only the log cabin shop with it's front porch and rockers, but the site next door that is set up for retreats. A group from Chattanooga was due in later that afternoon and it was all set up and ready for their busy few days. We chatted and found out about the local restaurants and other things to see. Unfortunately, my camera has died since our trip and the pictures of the wedding and many of the trip are lost until we figure out how to recover them. I bought 3 small pieces of fabric at this shop and will enjoy making something from them someday. When I do, I shall remember the trip through a most beautiful country, sights that are magnificent and the friendly people found in the hills of Tennessee.

We're off again to the cottage until after the holiday. I will take my sewing with me but won't have internet access for at least part of a week. Hopefully, there will be a picture of a finished project when I return. There's always hope that one will be finished........isn't there? :>)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Stashbuster question of the week is whether we follow the pattern or not when making a quilt. It is extremely rare that I follow a pattern. Many times I'm using fabrics that I've had for some time and may not have enough. Then I improvise. Often the pattern may not be just what I'd like, so it gets changed. The picture is one that sort of looks like the pattern when I started........but the medallion is different, there were no branches, no roses and no swags - but other than that, it looks the same! This is a king size but it doesn't go on the bed. There is a black furry one that we love and she loves to shed black hair all over things. So for now, no quilts where dog hair will show.
We're off next week for a wedding in TN and then along with another couple, we will travel about TN, KY and possibly OH for a few days. I'm looking forward to finding a few new quilt shops and have my Quilters' Traveling Companion with me. Enjoy this wonderful Spring weather! I'll catch up with everyone next week.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bee Tree and Other projects

I am making a bee tree! Each member of The Monday Morning Strippers, a bee that I attend occasionally, is making a quilt called The Blossoming Tree. I call it My Bee Tree - no bees, but I like the the name. The first few blocks went rather well. I worked on them while I was at the retreat and the batik colors are fun to work with. However, having made a mistake in cutting, I didn't have enough of the small batik blocks and didn't have more fabric with me, so it was put on hold until I returned home. I'm anxious to get the remainder of the blocks finished.

I did make a quilt top at the retreat that is similar to one I made and gave as a Christmas gift. I loved the look of the appliqued border and when I found the fabric again, decided to make another. The first one had dark setting triangles and the 9 patches popped a bit more. I think I prefer the dark triangles. This is hanging on a clothesline on our deck, thus the half quilt look.

While at the retreat, I shared my Baltimore Tribute applique blocks with the group. (I posted pictures of them a month or so ago.) This album quilt has been in the making for several years and I have struggled to "get 'er done". Some blocks have been easy to do (as the one at the left) and others have really presented challenges. I've tossed it all aside several times until I've gathered enough stamina to go at it again. I work at it rarely but the retreat ladies were sooo encouraging and so positive about my work that I made a commitment to them that the quilt would be done by the next retreat in May. If it is handquilted, that means it needs to be done by Christmas. Guess I had better get busy, eh? I wonder if I am the only one who lets a bunch of little fabric pieces intimidate them?! :>)

May Retreat

Wow! I returned yesterday from a quilting retreat and my head is still buzzing with all the laughter, ideas and warm fuzzies from a great group of ladies. I knew I would arrive late on Thursday due to the drive from Chicago to IN and I was quite nervous. In fact, I almost didn't show up. Not knowing anyone and walking into a roomful of gals who either knew each other or had arrived at the same time everyone else had was quite intimidating. But, I pulled it together and went and am I ever glad I did! Not only did I accomplish a fair amount of quilting, but the comraderie and friendship was phenomenal! These gals came from all walks of life and ranged from 20-somethings to 70-somethings. The center is on a beautiful lake near our cottage and is primarily used for summer church camps for youth. The weather was perfect and we even got to see an outdoor wedding, complete with white dress, veil and white lawnchairs at lakeside just a few doors away. We all ate til we couldn't hold any more, laughed until we cried and some sewed until the wee hours of the morning. It doesn't get much better! I feel renewed! This is an annual event and I can't wait for the next time to come around again.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunrise at the Lake

The sun rose gently this morning over the foggy lake. The sound of the cardinals and robins woke me early so that I could see the sunrise and enjoy the serenity. At this time of year, the lake is so peaceful and quiet. The majority of the summer people come after Memorial Day and often only spend weekends here. It gets hectic then, making me appreciate this solitude today even more.

Several days ago, Carolyn tagged me with the Blogger Thinking Award and I am to pass it on to 5 others. I am not too familiar with a lot of bloggers, but Alycia of CO is certainly one to whom I would pass the torch. Alycia has made QOV for soldiers for some time. Not unusual that a quilter would do that. However, she is doing it with 2nd and 5th graders! Being a former 5th grade teacher, she caught my attention with this project. I love the idea of her teaching children that volunteering is a great thing to do as well the teaching of an art, quilting. My next one would be Nancy. Nancy makes quilts for children, families who are in crisis or for those whose life is turned upside down. She is selfless in her efforts, making beautiful works of art for those who need a big hug. I know this isn't 5 but you get the idea of my choices.....people doing for others, paying it forward.

Tonight we'll go home for a couple of days to check the mail, cut the grass and do the homeowner routine. Thursday starts a quilt retreat that I've signed up to do and things have to be readied for that. It is held only a few minutes from here and is a group of mostly Indiana quilters. There are no assignments; just bring what you want to accomplish over a 3+ day retreat and plan to laugh a lot. I am so looking forward to being with quilty women and getting a few things done. I'm planning to take a bit of applique, a lot of piecing and some Redwork. Who knows? I just might get it all done!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Meet My Guys

The past several days have been spent at the lake house doing electrical work and some clean up. I did get one of the star quilts bound but not much else. Jim changed the electrical panel, originally installed in the mid-40's, and gave us new and better service. With all that had to be done, we were without power for part of one day and overnight. Not too bad, really. We ran a cord to his sister's house next door and were able to plug in the TV and a lamp and ran another cord to his brother's house which let us plug in the fridge. Sort of like camping only better? We came home on Wednesday to catch up on the mail and a couple of other things. This morning we're returning for the weekend and I'm hoping to get some work done on the Bee Trees that my Bee is doing as a group project and maybe another binding done.

Since my sewing has been put on hold this week and I haven't taken any pictures of what I'm doing currently, I thought I'd introduce you to my guys. I talk about them all the time, so thought you should know who they are! The top picture is one of Jim at a BSA Award Dinner, along with myself, Chris and Anne. Chris's girlfriend, Anne, is my applique prodigy and we love her dearly. Chris, a DePaul grad is working in dental medical malpractice. Michael, another Eagle Scout, was in CO at the time doing a Wilderness First Responder course and couldn't join us. Jim has been involved in Scouting for over 50 years and loves the involvement with the Scouts. In the second picture, Michael is in the middle with his two buddies. Tyler, on the right, has been his best bud since Mom's and Tots at age 2. Bob, Michael and Tyler went on an 8000 mile road trip in 2005 visiting national parks and doing their hiking thing. They had some exciting days and will have stories to tell their children some day. Oh to be so young and full of energy again!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Seeing Stars!

It has been a busy few days. We spent the weekend at the cottage and got to spend the time with Chris and Anne, always a fun time. Our niece is getting married in May so there was the family/neighborhood bridal shower to attend and we had lots of laughs. We did a cookbook for her and since she loves to garden, we each took a vegetable and gave her recipes and some seeds for those vegetables. My vegetable was carrots and fortunately I had a few carrot recipes. Wal-Mart also had Easter items on their clearance and guess what - lots of crazy carrot items....a fiber-optic carrot, a carrot baseball bat, carrot bowling pins and a pick up sticks in a carrot. Jim made her a goofy gardener's survival kit with the silly carrots and it provided a lot of laughs. On Sunday morning the dock went in but with white caps on the lake and snow in the air, the boats will wait for warmer weather. Yesterday we woke to 22* and snow. April???

The Rosemont IQA Show was a lot of fun. We went on Preview Night but only had 3 hours to see the whole thing. Not enough time! Preview was shortened by 2 hours this year and it really made a difference. There were some awesome quilts and too many vendors for such a short time. I spent too much and didn't get to see everything but what I did see was great.

The quilter returned seven quilts to me on Friday so I have lots of binding to be done. All but one were scrappy, utility kind of quilts and I wasn't thrilled with any of them when they were sent to her. However, the gal made silk purses out of sow's ears! I was sooo pleased with the way those simple quilts turned out. The 7th one was one that will be appliqued after the quilting...a new technique for me. I'm hoping to get it done soon and will post a picture of it. It is called Columbine and was in AP&Q about a year ago. The stars quilt at the left is one of 3 identical ones that I made out of a bunch of blocks that were hanging around after a summer weekend retreat at a friend's lake house. They will make great gifts for Michael's pals or for some needy kidlets. Amazing what some nice quilting will do for a bunch of scraps! :>)

Tomorrow, a special thank you to Carolyn for the tag. Tonight I'm off to put my feet up, watch the dancing stars and do some binding on one of the star quilts.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Quilting Beginnings.....

Suzette asked....How did you come to start quilting? Was it passed down in the family? What was your first project and is it finished? Where does it live now?

My very first post has a picture of my maternal Grandma and her quilt, one of my treasured possessions and something that is an inspiration for me to do some of those tedious quilts. It is a Grandmother's Flower Garden, all done by hand. As far as my sewing career, I don't remember not sewing or quilting in my 60+ years even though there were a few gaps when children took precedence. My earliest memory of sewing is playing with my paternal Grandma's basket of scraps, making things for my dolls. She lived with us, had a wonderful old hickory rocking chair that rocked me often, made pies while I sat on the counter watching her and made her clothes without using a pattern. She also wore those aprons that were soft and snuggly from so much wear and use. My Great Grandma made her clothes (she loved purple!) until her eyesight failed and she could no longer do it. Mom sewed as did my aunts and cousins - and a couple of great uncles who were tailors. It was just something that everyone did and I did as well. Grandma once told me that sewing and stitching went back several generations to a couple of tailors in Germany and it had not skipped anyone in between. My niece is a seamtress and her daughters are learning the skills as well. I think the younger ones are the 7th or 8th generation of stitchers. I would hate for it to become a lost art in the family! My first quilt was a log cabin, still my favorite pattern and it lives on the balcony of our foyer. My true love is applique and Mom says that came from Aunt Helen. Interesting isn't it how we mimic our ancestors?

So to answer her questions about sewing in my isn't in my life, it has become my life now that the boys are grown. It gives me peace of mind when things get tough, makes me feel good when I can make something for someone else and most of all, it satisfies that inner creative beast that has to be fed! So that's me and my quilting in a nutshell.

I have 7 quilts being returned from the quilter today! Yeah!! She has had them for a couple of months and I was getting antsy about them, but now I have plenty of handwork to do during those mindless TV shows!

April Snow for Rosemont Show

Old Man Winter just won't give up! Michael, our outdoorsman, has stated he'd rather see the snow on a slope than just lying on the ground being wasted! He can't wait to head back to the mountains one of these days. Here's a picture of our back yard yesterday, April 11. So much for getting the deck furniture out!
Tonight I'm going to the Rosemont Quilt Show here in Chicago. They've cut the hours back from 5 - 10 to 5-8. Hopefully, we will have enough time to race thru the quilts and most of the vendors.....will have to be time efficient! I have my list of things that I would like to find while there since there won't be a lot of extra time for browsing and drooling. It is always nice to see the wonderful quilts that have been accepted into the show and see all the unusual ideas. I'm looking for a few Asian prints to help Anne with her wallhanging, a few fillers for one floating around in my head, possibly a black or navy background for Rosemary Makhan's Woodland Creatures (but that isn't a necessity) and then of course, some patterns for redwork and others if they ring my bell. I'll let you all know how the quilts are and if I get some great pictures, will share a few.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Another One Finished!!

It's done! Kinda funky, eh? It is amazing how the colors show up differently when a photograph is taken. Had I looked at it in a photo before stitching, I would have changed a few of the blocks around in the middle but in person it looks pretty good! Those blues really pop in the picture. The corners were in lieu of mitred ones (which I would rather have done) but I didn't have enough fabric. Given that it was from my stash, it is a "make do" and I did just that. I made it for charity but .....hmmmm... I'm feeling kinda needy. :>) Not really - I think it may go to a children's home.

The second one is on it's way as well. I'm in a mood to sew, sew, sew - fast and furious - so there won't be any great techniques involved. This one is a batch of T'Berries pre-printed squares that I had from a few years ago and I am putting them on point with pieced blocks. With a few adjustments, it will be ready for the two halves to be sewn together shortly. I'll add a green and then a gold/tan set of narrow borders and then a burgundy final border, bind it in the gold/tan since there isn't enough of the burgundy left. It will also be donated to a shelter or Habitat for Humanity. Feels good to do a couple of these for someone who can use them!

However........last night as I sat in my chair with a fuzzy Chicago Bears blanket over my legs, I realized that nearly all of my comfy quilts have been given away or taken to the cottage and there are none left in the family room for snuggling. It's a good thing that it is summer and I will have some time to make a few more for us. Of course, I could get out the "good ones"(hand appliqued), but I'd rather the dog hair and dust settle on those less time intensive. Am I the Lone Ranger when it comes to spending all my days quilting and having little to show for it?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I Needed a Reminder!

I am a follower of Carolyn's blog because she and I have been in contact for several years. She showed the picture of the hats that she had knitted for her church charity program and then came her yarn for a prayer shawl for her church program. It has been a while since I donated anything to charity and felt that I needed to fess up and get something going. Being a Mom of guys, I rarely get to do anything with brights and fun colors, so I found a clearance rack at Hobby Lobby full of goodies and then went to the stash. I think this will be a very fun quilt for a little girl! It is so much fun to work with these colors but they are really out of my normal range. Do I make the flowers all grow in the same direction or do I make them grow to the center of the quilt? I'm thinking to the center, but we'll see how it looks when I get a few more blocks done. (There was a lamp right beside the fabric and the yellow washes out a bit but you get the idea.) It truly feels good to do something for someone less fortunate. Hiding in my closet there are some string blocks in these colors as well and one of these days they will find a border and grow up to be a quilt too!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate!!

Since things have been in a muddle around here for a couple of weeks and this weekend was spent moving our son to his new apartment/condo, I haven't had the time to spend on my quilting like I would like. I got his place set up with everything from a paring knife to a quilt (in picture) for his sofa. The fridge is stocked, dishes, pans, furniture , etc., are all in a very lovely 2 bedroom rehab. Very little has gotten done with my quilting lately, but it will hopefully get back to normal this week. Since cooking is another one of my passions, I thought I'd post two of my favorite recipes. The first one is a true quilter recipe......chocolate and salt combined! Great munching and easily transported to a quilting retreat. Very easy! The second is one that I've taken or served several times and it is always a hit. I hope you enjoy them too!

Pretzel Kisses

Hershey Hugs (milk and white chocolate Kisses)
Pretzel Rings

Unwrap Hugs. Place pretzel rings on a cookie sheet. Put a Kiss inside each pretzel. Bake in a low oven (250° - 300°) for about 5 minutes. You can tell when they are done by lightly pressing on the tip of the Kiss - it will melt down into the ring and fill it. Remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate for best results. The traditional Hershey Kisses will work, but they don’t melt as nicely as the white chocolate does. I’m not sure who gave this recipe to me, but it is always a hit! I'm considering the caramel kisses for a retreat that I am attending in a few weeks. They might be a little gooey when warm, but when cooled, they just might be pretty yummy! Thoughts?

Chocolate Trifle
1 (19.8 oz) brownie mix
1 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
½ cup water
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) Cool Whip - thawed (I often use a 12 oz here as well)
1 (12 oz) Cool Whip - thawed
1 (1.5 oz) chocolate bar

Prepare brownie mix according to directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water and milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 oz Cool Whip until no streaks remain. In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 12 oz Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate onto top layer for garnish. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving. (I go a little heavy on the Cool Whip and add extra so that the intense sweetness of the condensed milk is lessened.)

This dessert is one where I end up with an empty bowl! Good to the last drop!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Stash and the Pink and Green

The tulips and the daffodils are shivering but at least they are up and trying to bloom! Such a wonderful time of the year!!
We've been asked to share pictures of our sewing areas and/or our stash. Oh my.... since I moved upstairs, there hasn't been a lot of time to trade the stash closet with the Christmas closet (old guest room). However, the stash hasn't changed much since I took this last picture. The white bins/drawers are scraps and strips and there are batting packages on the top shelf. You can see the end of the board I made that fits on top of the ironing board. In addition, I have 3 small color coded drawer stacks of smaller pieces. I'm beginning to feel as if the stash is now manageable. In January, I gave away yards of stuff I knew I wouldn't use. Some of it has already been made into quilts by a couple of Stashbuster friends.

My pink and is amazing how one starts off on one journey with a quilt and it ends up being totally different than ever expected. That is this top (upside down). It was to have been an all applique quilt of 25 blocks. It soon became apparent that the kind of applique that was in it wasn't my favorite (too "chunky") so after 6 blocks I decided that some chunky pieced blocks would be good. A border? Swags - chunky ones. wrong. At this time I am making the swags narrower and will put some simple flowers between each one, scallop the edges, quilt and bind. White, pink or green binding?
In the meantime we have our house pretty much back to normal and will move son Chris this weekend from a roommate/apartment situation to a condo. Next week we have canasta club here, but there will be some time for stitching, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The floors are done. It isn't a pretty site in two places, but we are moving forward - no more refinishing for us in this house. We went to the cottage until the odor dissipated, and thanks to son Michael who monitored things, kept fans blowing, windows and doors opened, it wasn't too bad when we returned last night. At the cottage we got things ready for summer and we're looking forward to some time to enjoy the loons, our friends and get into relaxation mode. We may even replace the garage this summer. Sounds like a project the guys can really get into! The grass was green and the trees starting to bud. We're not quite so advanced here but at least the tulips and daffodils are a couple of inches out of the ground! Great sunshine and warm weather here today - just maybe we're in for some outside delight!

I find it more interesting to post a picture whenever I post on my blog but since my quilting has taken a back seat to house chores, I'm posting a picture of a quilt that our guild did two years ago. It was an effort of many people. My part, unplanned completely, was to finish the applique borders and to "fix" some of the applique that needed a bit of help and then, with a friend, to assemble the blocks. The border was done in blocks as well. It turned out to be a beautiful quilt - wish I could have won it! Jan Taylor Anderson designed it. She has a great method for doing Mariner's Compass blocks and one of these days I will make one. Don't you think the colors and the design are awesome? She really has great patterns.
Once we get the dust cleaned off of everything and things back into place, I'll get back into the sewing room and find my way back to quilting. I'm having trouble staying on task - I'd rather be quilting!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lime Green in the Spring

When the weather starts to warm up, Jim brings out his favorite toy. For you Boomers, it is a muscle car from the 70's. When I met Jim in 1971, he had just purchased his Buick Gran Sport, 4 on the floor convertible. It has an extra powerful engine in it and will scoot down the road with little effort. Not the kind of car we would encourage our sons to purchase!! We dated in this car for four years before getting married. It served us well but at the time we lived in Cleveland and as you know, there is lots of snow on the east side of that town! The rear end just goes every which way on slippery surfaces so we bought something more practical and this one sat, not being used much at all and it started rusting out. My brother's company car was eliminated and he needed something temporary. So, the green car went to Indiana. Then the engine needed work, we had kids and no time to mess with the car, we had moved to Chicago with no place to store it, brother didn't need it any more so Jim said "get rid of it". They hauled it away on a flatbed. Once it was gone, we bemoaned the fact that we had not made the effort to keep it. For years we read the newspapers looking for something that would come close. We half heartedly tried to find out who had taken the car, but never really put a lot into it. One day several years later, my brother called and said "I think I found Jim's car". He knew we were missing it (do I sound like it has life? :>) He said he was driving thru Fort Wayne and saw it sitting on a car lot near there and was I still interested in getting it back. Knowing that Jim would be ecstatic, I didn't tell him until after I had called the dealership to figure out if it was the same car or not. When the guy said it had a trailer hitch on the back with a wire for pulling a trailer, I knew it was the right one! Jim has always been involved in Boy Scouts and pulling a scout trailer on camp outs was one of his things to do. The original paper work was still with it with Jim's name as well. We drove to Fort Wayne the following day and purchased the car - for nearly twice what he paid for it.

Now the car sits in our extra garage bay and gets driven just for fun. Our youngest, Michael, taught himself how to drive the stick shift and now takes it out for joy rides with his friends. So far this year, it has been out a couple of times because as soon as the temp starts to climb in the spring, the car comes out and we "cruise" to DQ, A&W, to the Cruise In at Mickey D's or just around town. Fun! If only we were so young again!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Today the sun and temp are gorgeous here in Northern IL! The sky is blue and the clouds are few and far between. Maybe spring is just around the corner. This morning as I was putzing around the kitchen, I noticed a flurry of activity in our very small back yard. It was a sizeable red-tail hawk chasing a squirrel. The squirrel must have been familiar with the deck area (they eat all the bird seed at the feeder :>) because he darted under one of the benches that we have out there and hunkered down. The hawk landed above him and sat there long enough for me to call Jim to take a look. Neither of us have ever seen a hawk up close. I swear his head turned in circles! Anyway, the squirrel sat there all hunched up and eventually the hawk got tired of waiting and flew off into the woods. Mr. Hawk has been around most of the day so the feeder is rather quiet.

The floors, the floors. They will be done on Thursday. Jim and I will head off to the cottage and get it opened for the summer while the workers are here. We can get the cob webs cleaned up, the windows washed and do our annual Pick-Up Sticks routine in the yard. Our son Michael will have fend for himself while the floor guys are here. Not being able to get upstairs didn't stop him last summe - He put a ladder to the bedroom window and climbed in! He may do that again, but the smell from the coating is pretty ugly. We've advised that he find a friend's house for crashing. The picture is what my living room currently looks like. Disaster! Oh well, we're hoping that the 3rd time (in 3 years) will be a charm.

The rail fence quilt is finished and ready to go to the quilter. It will be kind of nice when it is done but right now it looks a bit ragged. I did it on point and put 6-7 rows together and did the same on the second half. You guessed it! When I went to put the two halves together, I had pattern matching pattern as opposed to off-setting patterns. ARGH!! I took the outside row off and moved it to the other side making my rectangular quilt a square one. Oh dear.......but it's OK. It's made from leftovers from another quilt and will be a snuggle one at the cottage. It may end up being one of our favorites!

Jim is off getting his "baby" appraised. When he gets home, I'll get a picture of it and tell you the story. Kinda fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The daffodils and the irises are just beginning to poke their tips through the ground today. The 70* that we had yesterday was just enough to coax them up, out and toward the sunshine. However, the 20* tonight might make them curl up and go back into the ground. I added an early spring picture looking down our street - not yet this year but hopefully, we will have all that green in a few weeks! This is truly a lovely time of year - rejuvenation by being outside and rejoicing in all that grows!

It has been sort of a busy week, but mostly just messy. Jim has been retro-fitting the kitchen and family room (all one big room) with ceiling/can lights. Shudda had them put in when we built! But he, being the ever-so-kind hubby, agreed to humor me and is working hard at doing a rather difficult job. It will make the room much brighter for these old eyes. My penance is all the dry wall dust everywhere!! To avoid this nasty mess, I went off to work on a few things in my sewing room. The rail fence, made with Holly Taylor's Cub Lake scraps (10 years+ old) has been in the works for a year or so. It just happens that this week was one where I needed some mindless work and it filled the need. I may add a small border and then will definitely do a scrappy binding. This will go to the lake cottage for snuggling on chilly nights.

Evenings bring sitting in front of the TV and applique for me. The swag at the left is one of 18 that I am working on to add to the pink and green blocks that were posted earlier. They have been working up rather quickly. It would greatly please me if they all fit with no fudging!! I am half way through this part and then will add them to the border pieces.

Next week brings more mess to the house. Our wood floors were lightly sanded 3 years ago. The finisher wasn't quite honest and put a poly finish over a glitza (oil) finish and it started to peel within a year. Last summer we had them completely sanded to the bare wood, restained and varnished. A special solution was given to me for washing the floors. However, it leaves a horrible film and the floors look pretty dreary. They also did not have the sheen as promised by the 2nd finisher. week we will completely empty the remains of my sewing items in the laundry room, the w/d, two pantries, kitchen, dining room, foyer and all the closets and place it all in the family room or in the garage. We've packed up and moved from the first floor of our home 3 times in 3 years! ARGH!! They will again screen buff and recoat the floors at no cost to us, at least $$-wise. Dust will reign until we can get everything back into place and cleaned up. Returning the furniture can't take place until a few days after the coating is put on. And....I will return to using my old standby, Shaklee Basic H, for cleaning the wood floors as it never leaves a film. Our son is moving the following weekend and then it is time for Easter. I think I'll play like a bunny and hop off into the woods!! :>) All these projects do keep one moving and the dust can't settle for long when we are busy.

For those of you with the daffodils blooming and for those who are only dreaming of them, I hope you all have a wonderful Spring-y, daffodilly kind of day!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Favorites of Mine

The Stashbusters topic of the week is our favorite tool for quilting. I have several favorites that are the obvious ones that make quilting easier - rotary cutter, rulers, etc. However, I have two favorites. The one thing that makes my quilting life easier is my and DH's version of the commercial Big Board. It is made of 3/4" plywood, covered in several layers of Warm 'n Natural batting, (there might be something else buried in there also), and topped with a layer of ironing board fabric. We covered the board and stapled it all neatly on the back. Since it is made of 3/4" wood, it is quite heavy and doesn't move around at all, but is easily moved from one location to another if I wish and can be stored behind a door or under a bed. Currently, it is resting on my Grandmother's old wooden ironing board, perpendicular to the sewing machine and sits at elbow height while I am sewing. Each piece that gets sewn can be pressed. The board is extra long and can hold many pieces for a layout. I have a smaller one that I take on retreats or to the cottage.

My second favorite "tool" is a small pillow that I use for applique. If you have ever appliqued, you soon realize that your neck hurts after a while because you are always leaning over your work. By placing a pillow on your lap, placing your work and hands on top of the pillow and putting your feet on a small footstool, your shoulders are forced back and the neck issue goes away. I carry my little green pillow everywhere I take my is all prickly with a variety of pins and threads hanging from it, but I wouldn't be without it!

The quilt shown in the picture is my first full applique project. Grandmother's Country Album pattern came out many years ago and I, along with several others online, (Carolyn) decided to make the quilt together. We chatted often and gave each other support. I think I made this quilt at least 3 times! I kept learning new techniques and improving and as that happened, I would do the blocks over. The center cabin block still doesn't satisfy me (it's too dark), but it is done and as everyone knows, done is better than perfect! As is the norm for me, I didn't follow the pattern completely. DH built the hanger and I stained/varnished it.

DH is putting in some ceiling lights this week that I requested and retro-fitting isn't the easiest thing to do in a ceiling. They are small flood lights strategically placed, so my sewing has taken a bit of a back seat while I help him with that. (guilt? :>) The pink and green applique/pieced blocks are now a top but it is taking on a life of it's own. It just keeps growing and taking more and more time - it was going to be a simple throw-it-together -and-be-done quilt. I just haven't learned about listening to those little voices that say "try this on your quilt" or "do it this way - it will look better". Gets me into trouble every time!

We are in for some warmer weather and the snow is beginning to melt. There are still big piles of snow yet and we still can't see the grass in our yard, but the sunshine is a promise of things to come!! I hope you have a very sun-shiny kind of day!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Moving On Up!

Thank you to all who were so kind and sent birthday wishes! Aside from the fact that the number keeps getting higher, it was a great day. Among other things, Chris and girlfriend Anne, gave me a book of inspirational readings called The Quilt of Life. Michael's card played "I'm Walking on Sunshine". Fun!!

For the past several days I have been moving my sewing room from what is the laundry room to what used to be the guest room. As you all know, a laundry room (no matter how large) is a busy place and not always the best for spreading out projects. On Tuesday, the pink and green applique blocks were spread out on the floor, ready to be sewn. Little Dog was quite comfy as she slept on them and Michael was trying to dodge them as he did his laundry. ARGH!! Enough, I said, and made the decision to move to the guest room and that any overflow company would result in the use of an Aero Bed. It is rare that we need more beds, so I felt safe in emptying the guest room. Our home has wood floors thruout most of the main level and they are to be screen buffed and recoated in a couple of weeks, so everything has to be moved out of the laundry room any way. I packed most of it up and enlisted the strong back and arms of a 23 yr old son and moved to the upstairs. It is sooo cozy and I can now spread things out, walk out and close the door and avoid a lot of frustration. I still need to clean out one of the closets in that room (Christmas storage) before I can move my stash up. But that isn't a big deal - I just wanted a place to work without the need to put everything away when laundry had to be done. ahhhh.........

This is Little Dog, or Leah, Michael's pound puppy that he got while in Fort Collins a couple of years ago. She was found wandering the streets at the young age of about 6 months. We had to put our favorite pup down about a year later, so she has taken over a warm spot in our hearts. The picture below is of Big Dog (Jordan) whom Leah has replaced. The reason I'm posting her picture is to show you what a gal did for us - this is all thread and small scraps of fabrics. I sent her a picture and she duplicated it and really did a wonderful job.......the likeness is unbelieveable. It is amazing how these animals work their way into our hearts - even if they do enjoy sleeping on our quilts! :>)

Hopefully my next post will have pictures of a completed pink and green top!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Windy Progress

The blizzard went through last night leaving us with some icy and treacherous driving and about 6" of a very heavy, wet snow. But now it is warmer and raining and quite dreary looking and the snow is melting. A great day for staying in and quilting! However, tomorrow is my birthday and the kids are coming home today for dinner. We could have gone out, but having been out the past 2 days, I opted for staying home and enjoying my company.

The bright Hearts and Stars now has a backing. A LQS is reducing their inventory and everything is 70% off until Feb 28. I found this one as well as another one that isn't quite so bright that I'll use in a quilt made from this ones leftovers and also found a very nice green backing for the Bee tree quilt that I need to get going on. A $15 backing works for me any day!! I was good and didn't buy anything else that would create another project!

So on to another UFO....... the picture shows some nearly-finished applique blocks that I did using the backbasting method. These were started about a year ago and still need a few circles or bits completed. I had never used the backbasting method before, always using needleturn or freezer paper underneath and I have found that I like that method. It is very accurate, there are no pins or paper to catch the thread and is very portable. After doing 6 out of 16 blocks .... Lori Smith's Love Always patterns..( , I decided to get on with it and find a way to call it quits. Originally, I had chosen the black fabric as the border, matched the pinks and greens and was going to applique all the blocks. After they were laid out on the floor, I realized that the black was much too strong for them and that I should do pieced blocks to go along with the appliqued ones. The pieced blocks were quickly whipped together last night along with the decision to replace the black with cream and maybe add some applique on the border, or do a border that will go along with the pieced blocks. I'll have to give it some thought. Now you can understand why I work on 5 or more projects at one time! I rarely follow a pattern from start to I the only one who has that problem? In any case, it won't be long until another UFO is done done done.