Tuesday, July 29, 2008

At Home in Niagara Falls

We spent a couple of days at Niagara Falls at the end of last week. I'd been there once when I was about four or five, and Joe had never been. Since it was not very far from Chautauqua, we decided to make our vacation a little bit longer.

We stayed at Park Place Bed and Breakfast, where our hosts Louise and Tom were ever so gracious, accommodating, and helpful. Yummy breakfasts, and at the end of a long day of walking in the heat, we returned to find a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade and some decadent cookies. Who could ask for more?

We'd chosen the place because of the Arts and Crafts period style, and we surely were not disappointed. It was absolutely exquisite. There is only one thing I would change, and of course I did not hesitate to mention it: The placemats and napkins should have been made from William Morris fabric! Other than that, the place is perfect.

If you visit Niagara Falls, and you really should (more about which in a subsequent post), I urge you to consider these accommodations. Within walking distance of the tram that unites the various attractions, it is so convenient. Here are some pictures to whet your appetite:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Five Finished by the End of July!

My fifth project for Peg's challenge is finished! I'd made the blocks for this quilt over a long period of time -- not because I was postponing, but because I was enjoying the process of making them so much that I didn't want to finish. I did get the blocks finished and set, and sent it off to Kat to quilt last winter. She did an exquisite job, and it has been sitting in my WISPs pile for several months.

My #5 goal was to make and attach the binding and the sleeve. And I have done so!

If Peg had not started this challenge, I don't imagine I would have finished all these projects. I'm so glad she did!

We leave for vacation on Thursday morning and there is much to be done before then. I doubt I'll have an opportunity to post again until at least Saturday. We are heading to Niagara Falls where we'll spend two nights in a B&B and then down to the Chautauqua Institution for a week, then a night in Ohio with friends before returning home. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 21, 2008

41 . . . And Counting

If you were familiar with Near Philadelphia, you'd see this picture and ask, "Why is this Methodist Church on this Lutheran woman's blog?"

Though we are no longer Methodists, this is the church where we were married forty-one years ago today.

It was a small wedding, on a Friday evening with candlelight. I wore a short white dress, Honna a similar short yellow dress, and we served our guests icecream and cake at my mother's home following the ceremony.

We'd gotten married quickly and suddenly. Too quickly and too suddenly, it seemed; my aunts suspected The Worst.

But, you see, this was at the height of the Vietnam War. Joe had spent the previous academic year at Kent State with his draft board breathing down his neck. The day after he got home from school, he went for his physical and was told to expect a letter the next week from the United States Army. Without a college degree, he'd be sent to basic training and to 'Nam right away.

The Navy Recruiter provided an option. Enlist for four years (instead of the two required by the draft), serve as an illustrator/draftsman, and be spared Danang. Furthermore, there would be a 90-day delay in reporting! He signed on the dotted line and called me from the nearest payphone. "How soon can we get married?" Three weeks seemed to be the minimum if we wanted anything more than an elopement.

My mother rose to the occasion. We put it together. Karen even managed to squeeze in a wedding shower.

We put it together. And stayed together. A honeymoon of two nights in Lake George Village was what we could afford. It was wonderful.

In October we learned that the recruiter had been less that totally honest -- the illustrator/draftsman position was by no means a done deal; Joe had to compete with hundreds of other applicants for the one position that was available. Miraculously, he landed it. And we were spared Danang; we spent the four years in the South, in Pensacola, in Norfolk, in Charleston -- those great Navy towns. I held a variety of peculiar jobs, Joe progressed in rank, we acquired a cat and a dog, and counted the days.

Four long years later we were still together and headed back to Kent State where he finished his B.Arch. and stayed on for a Master's and the first baby finally showed up. And so forth, and so on. The first thirteen years we were married, we moved thirteen times. Finally in 1980 we moved back to Near Philadelphia, where we've been ever since.

Together. The threatening Widow Maker has subsided, perhaps gone away completely . My fears of a few weeks ago are put to rest. Thank God.

Forty-one years. And anticipating many more.

Enjoy the Sunshine

I've had my "Living the Dream" book for quite a while now, after first discovering it over at Juliann's place. A month or so ago, I decided to use a group of FQs that I'd bought last summer as a start for the quilt, and a few weeks ago when Turbo and I were at Sauder's, I found the rest of the fabrics.

I've never done the kind of "stitchery" that involves tracing a pattern onto fabric and before I made a real commitment to the 35 little stitcheries that the quilt calls for, I'd do a test to see how it went. There was a terrific bag in the book, just the kind of thing to take to the farmer's market or out shopping in a spiffy neighborhood, and I decided to give it a try. Leanne's directions were so clear, and the bag went together in a jiffy, stitchery and all. I only bought the fabric on Thursday and it was finished on Sunday night. The only thing I did differently was I omitted the quilting that Leanne prescribed for this particular bag. I'm delighted with how it turned out!

Am ready now to make the commitment to the 35 stitcheries and, in fact, have a possible plan. Perhaps if I'm not thinking clearly, someone can tell me why? Instead of cutting all of the bricks and assembling the flimsy and then doing the stitcheries, I was thinking of mapping out the bricks on the solid fabrics and tracing the stitcheries, and applying the interfacing and doing the stitching and then cutting the bricks apart and assembling the quilt top. Seemed it would be more portable that way. I think that is what Juliann did, but am not positive. Any thoughts on why this may not be a sensible plan?

Have a lovely day. And Enjoy the Sunshine!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Caroline Maria, Child of God . . .

. . . you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever." Sunday, July 20, 2008, St. James Lutheran Church, Pottstown.

At the Church

At the Picnic
with Great-Grandmother and by Herself

and with her Doting Grandmother. A lovely and special day for all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

500th Post Celebration Give-Away

I took some time this morning to photograph the items for the give-away. In the grand scheme of give-aways, this one is not a grand and glorious one; it is mostly things that I have purchased or been given and I know I won't use. There are five give-aways, one for each 100 posts.

If you want to enter the drawing for one of the give-aways, leave a comment and indicate by number which give-away you would like to win. I'd love it if you would link my give-away to your blog. The time to Comment will end on Saturday, July 26, and winners will be announced shortly thereafter. Give-away items will be mailed early in the week of August 4.

Number One is Judy Martin's Creative Pattern Book. This absolutely wonderful book contains the pattern for Shakespeare in the Park. Somehow I have two copies, and I certainly don't need both.

Don't you want to make a Shakespeare in the Park? Here's a picture of Amy's. I certainly do, and have hopes of beginning it sometime during the coming winter.

Number Two is four patterns that I either was given or purchased. Raggedy Hearts is often made out of flannel, and I've seen it at vendors' booths at the Lancaster Show and always thought it was cute. At one time I thought I would make one. I don't think so any longer.

There are also patterns for a patriotic bargello, a sewing machine cover, and a Sudoku wall hanging. An interesting assortment.

Number Three is a head start on your own Mostly Civil War Jewel Box quilt.

There are enough HSTs (or ingredients for them) to make a dozen 16" blocks -- each block contains eight of the HSTs and eight four-patches. There are a few of the four-patch units and lots of precut CW squares for the four-patch units. You'll need to add some shirtings and possibly some additional squares and borders, if you want them. Your finished project will be this size.

I've loved having this as a leader-ender project, but two similar tops is enough. It's your turn!

Number Four is three FQs of hand-dyed/batiky fabric. I won them at a quilting day and they have been sitting on the shelf looking at me, begging to be used, and I just don't foresee that happening.

It isn't that they are badly behaved or not-nice fabrics. They are pretty and pleasant and just don't seem to go with anything else that I have. But perhaps they are exactly what you need to add a little zing to something you are working on.

Number Five is three more patterns. All are sort of folky. One is about cats.

The other two are about houses, and the one with buttons makes me think of Juliann -- I could just see her making something terrific with it.

So there you have it. Five different small-scale give-aways, one for each of my 100 posts. Leave a comment with the number of the one that interests you, and good luck!

In Good Time

The Give-Away post is coming.

The matching up of the Summer Scrap Participants (eleven of us!) is coming.

If my mother were here, she'd say, "So is Christmas."

But she isn't here, and I've got a lot going on, and am running late. Which is unusual for a person who usually aims to have things finished several days before they are due and who, when going someplace new, always allows an extra half-hour for getting lost.

I'm not feeling like the guy in the picture, and I'm proud of that. Usually when I'm late or fail a commitment, I get panicky. This time, I know I'll get these things done. Just not as quickly as I'd hoped and planned.

Friends, this is progress for me. (See that, Guenveur? There is hope.)

A busy and stressful time at work. A couple of social obligations. The second eye surgery. Instilling countless eye drops in both eyes at strategic intervals. Working on the Finish Five challenge. Beginning to plan for our vacation which begins in a few days. Managing a heart-healthy household. Taking a dinner to a broke-leg friend. And an inordinate amount of napping. Watching the Tour De France with Joe (of all things!). These are the things that have filled my past week.

The Give-Away and Summer Scrap Swatch Match are coming. I want them to stay fun things, and not turn into obligations and have the joy sucked right out of them. Hang in there with me, will you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Celebrate Good Times -- Come On!

This is my 500th blog post!

Since I first began what Chez would call "this little experiment" about two years ago, I've met some of the most wonderful people. I've laughed and cried at what people have shared. I've grown as a quilter and as a reader! Blogging has enriched my life immeasurably, and I've enjoyed it more than I can say.

How else would I have ever met the Mistress of Leehaven? How else would I have had the opportunity to laugh at Ozzie's antics? How else would I have acquired a delicious pile of kimono scraps from a friend across the globe? Would I ever have actually thought, much said out loud (as I often now do), "Life Is Good!" And then there's Anne, who somehow knows the right thing to say at the right time, and my dear little friend from Oz, and so many others.

I put a counter on my blog three months into it, and as of today, it shows 56,300 visits. Unbelievable. And another device, put on more recently, indicates that visitors have come from -- are you ready for this, because I wasn't -- 77 countries!

Today I celebrate my 2+ years in bloggerville and my 500th post, I celebrate the lovely connections I've made, the support I've received during these past difficult two months, and everything else about blogging.

Tomorrow this celebration will be cemented by a giveaway, something I'd planned to do before Life Got In The Way late in May. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aggravated Doc Surg

I don't have any recollection at all of how I stumbled on this guy's blog. I don't get back there often, but every now and again I check in to see what he's up to. He's usually up to something.

Mixed in with spectacular rants about hospital politics and medical bureaucracy are gems like this one from a few days ago.

Being tuned in to mortality in a slightly more personal way these past weeks, I liked the message in Sara's style, the legacy in coping with the uncopable that she leaves. You might like it, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Big Jake is a Flimsy!

Big Jakes is a Flimsy!

Sounds like a children's playground taunt, doesn't it?

Honna came over yesterday afternoon and we sewed together for several hours. My main task was to get Big Jake into a filmsy status, and we pulled it off. I like him quite a bit, and he's going into the flimsy pile (need to come up with a classier name for this waiting area) until needed for a recipient.

So, he's Finish Number Four and I still have one more to go. I'd initially outlined six possible finishes and would choose five, but since I've accomplished so much, I do believe I'm going to go for broke and try to have all six finished by July 23 (we leave for vacation on July 24).

Those two are going to have to wait a day or so because those demanding Log Cabins are insisting that their borders get on so they can join BJ in flimsyville. Honna helped me decide for sure on the borders -- the choice we made for the inner green border necessitated my removing one of the outermost logs and replacing it; the poison green and the dark green were being horrible to each other. So with that little replacement completed, I started putting the green on. I'd like to finish these borders tonight, but there are household tasks speaking up. So, we'll see.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Images from a Cluttered Studio

At this point in the afternoon on a hot July day, I lack enthusiasm for any of the chores, projects, delights on my list. I just want to sit here in front of the fan and sip a cool something. So while I do that, I will take you on a little tour of what is going on downstairs.

First up is the cutting table. Yep, it's there. Really. Trust me. See: There's the mat to the right. We won't talk about the heap to the left, will we?

Some weeks ago somebody or another posted a challenge for the messiest cutting table. I lacked the courage to enter. But, she said in her best Rocky Balboa voice, "I coulda been a contendah!"

This chair is covered with the fabrics intended for my Living the Dream Quilt. I bought the ribbon-tied pack of FQs last summer, before I even knew about Living the Dream. We were on vacation in Onset and had taken a ride over to Hyannis to have lunch and visit the best quilt shop I've ever been to. I spent a bundle, if I recall correctly (and you just know that I do), and among my purchases was this stack of seaside themed blue and white Fats. They were designed by the shop owner and were irresistible.

I brought them home and they've been calling to me but without any specificity. And then it dawned on me that they were the start for Living the Dream! Supplemented with some goodies from the recent trip to Sauder's.

Once the Daiwabo Jacob's Ladder got off the wall and onto the floor (we'll get to that in a minute), the Snowballs somehow found out that the wall was empty and they set up such a hollerin' and a clammorin' to get up there that I couldn't stand the din any longer and finally put them up. Besides, Snowballs were a very nice thought on a day where the high Near Philadelphia is 90 or above.

They're all batiks and there's such a nice variety of hots and cools and this and that. Oh, my!

What I need to do next is calculate the size of the setting triangles and cut them and then as a Leader-Ender interlude, start getting the batik corners on them. These blocks are from a swap that is only about five or six months old. I think.

All right, here's what happened with wimpy old Jacob's Ladder. As you know, we decided to rename him Big Jake and apply an acid green border. It took just two sides of the border to make him more assertive, and, by golly, he's a presence to be reckoned with. The border, he said, was nice, but it was too much. He said he felt folks might question his masculinity. I asked him who was making this quilt, anyway, and he just sort of stuck his lip out. I cut the next two sides of the border and when one fell under the cutting table (see above) and I reached down to get it, there on the top of the boxes piled underneath was a grayish-brown Asian print I'd picked up on that same trip to Hyannis, thinking it would look nice with whatever I ultimately did with the Daiwabos. I've laid a folded piece on one portion of the acid green to see how it might look, and Jacob practically purred.

Speaking of purring, here's Bodacious, back on that sofa. I'd moved him off earlier because he was sprawled on the Log Cabins, who were patiently waiting their turn to be bordered.

Weekends are exhausting for him; he just doesn't know how to contend with having the two of us home all day for two consecutive days. Interferes with his sleep, it does.

What a life!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Summer 2008 Scrap Swap

This is a picture of Nicole's scraps that she has offered to one lucky comment leaver (comments closed at this point).

After I left my comment, with the hope of being the lucky winner of Nicole's scraps, I got to thinking about the time that my on-line group swapped scraps and what fun it was. You know, the old bit about one person's trash being another's treasure? One person organized and drew the names. Then everyone packed up a shoebox of her usable scraps and sent them off to her recipient.

I received Jill's (no link available; in fact, I dunno whatever happened to Jill after she left that group) and, friends, they were splendid! I enthused over them in an email and she was bewildered, claiming they were nothing special. But they were special to me! I used them as scrappy borders on some applique blocks from a garden theme swap. And, in fact, that very quilt is a wallhanging in my darling grandson's room!

I thought about how Helen receives my wee little cut-offs each month and does amazing things with them. I thought about how Turbo beams with pleasure when I give her a little baggie of smallish scraps. And I thought about how familiar my own scrap pile is. Mostly I thought about how great Jill's scraps were.

So here's a plan. Shall we have a Summer 2008 Scrap Swap?

Yes, we shall. And here are the rules:

1. By July 16 you will send me an email saying that you want to participate. You will use this address for your email: summerscrapswap@gmail.com
2. In your email you will provide me your name, mailing address, email address, and blog if you have one.
3. In your email, if you are a U.S. resident and are NOT willing to mail a package to another country, you will tell me that.
4. On July 17 or 18 I will assign you a scrap recipient.
5. When you receive the name, you will email me back that you have received it.
6. You will fill a shoebox or shoebox-size box with scraps of cotton fabric suitable for quiltmaking. You will send nothing smaller than a 2 inch square and you will try to include some nice generous-size scraps. You will not send anything that you would not wish to receive. You will include your name, email address, and blog ID with your scraps, so that your recipient can thank you properly.
7. No later than July 25 you will seal up your box very securely and send it to your recipient. You will email summerscrapswap@gmail.com to tell me you have sent your box.
8. You will receive a box from someone who has your name. When you get it, you will email me at summerscrapswap@gmail.com to let me know you have received it. You will email the sender to let her know that you have received it. You probably will post a picture of it on your blog.

Now, does that not sound like fun? Are you ready? Let's go!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jewel Box Leader-Ender Lesson

So many people have shown interest in my Jewel Box that I thought I'd write a little lesson on how to do it. If you look at the picture, you can see one Jewel Box block. I had a different picture at first, but Karen was good enough to crop it for me so that only this block shows. Thank you, Karen!

The first thing you want to do is go here so you can read and understand the whole leader-ender concept as developed and explained by Bonnie Hunter.

The next thing you need to do, the most time-consuming part, is to prepare your fabrics. I wanted this project to be very scrappy, so I used lots of different fabrics, most of which were left-overs from Civil War projects.

All of the lights are shirtings. I had some, and I wrote to my on-line group to see if anyone had any shirting scraps to spare. Several friends each sent me some 2.5" strips of assorted shirtings. I cut them into 2.5" squares and put them into a bin. I cut my own shirting FQs into 4-7/8" strips and then into 4-7/8" squares and set them aside.

The darks are mostly CW repro left-overs, although I did buy some FQs and I did throw in some non-CWs to make it a little more interesting. In a couple of places my darks aren't really all that dark. I used various reds, browns, tans, greens and an occasional purple for my darks. The darks were also cut into squares that were 2.5" and 4-7/8". No specific number of squares were cut. The 2.5" squares went into the bin with the lights and the larger squares were set aside.

Now, this next step is crucial! I have an obliging husband who likes to watch TV in the evening. So I set him up with the pile of 4-7/8" squares, a ruler, and a pencil, and had him draw the diagonal line on the back of each light square. I'd run out of squares by the time he was in the hospital, so one day I cut a bunch more and took them there for him to draw the lines! A cooperative husband or a friend who owes you a favor will get you through this step very easily; lacking those, you'll need to draw the lines yourself!

Next you take all of the 4-7/8" squares and put them in a bin. So, as you are sewing on whatever you are working on for your real project, each time you need a leader or an ender, you reach into one of the bins and pull out a random light and a random dark square. And you sew them together. The small squares go very quickly -- you can even do a couple instead of one as a leader or an ender. The larger ones take a little longer since you have to do your quarter-inch stitching line on either side of the drawn line. And I usually take the time to pin these together so they'll be more accurate.

As you clip off your leaders and your enders, you put them in a little pile and when the pile becomes medium-size, you press everything. The large HST blocks go into a basket and you take the little pairs of dark/lights and put two pair together to make a 4-patch -- you do this as leader-ender, too, accumulating them, and when there are a pile you press them, and put them in the basket.

At some point the basket will have lots of components in it. When this happens, you take eight of each component and arrange them on the design wall in the Jewel Box pattern. And you sew the components into rows, using them as leaders and enders. And, of course, the rows become great big leaders and enders as you complete them into blocks!

The blocks all get set aside and it is fun to watch that pile grow. When you think you have enough, you lay them out and make a pleasing arrangement and sew them into rows (I did this as a leader-ender, too!) and then the rows into a complete top.

You don't have to plan ahead and cut a precise number of squares. You just cut until you are tired of cutting or your blade gets dull. When your basket of squares starts to run low and you think you want more blocks, you simply cut more squares!

The Jewel Box that I saw on the fabric shop wall that got me started on this was three rows of three blocks; it was a wall hanging without any borders and was very nice. This size made of kiddy fabrics would make a right nice baby quilt. The first Jewel Box that I made was a gift for a graduate and I made it 5 blocks by 5 blocks so she could use it for a nap. The most recent one is 3 blocks by 4 blocks plus a border.

If you decide to make a leader-ender Jewel Box, I hope you'll send me pictures!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Third of Five, Peg!

I'm gettin' there, Peg! I'm gettin' there!

I've posted previously about Finish #1 for the Challenge; this was Meadowbrook Pasture, which, even as I write, is in the hands of the machine quilter! Finish #2 is hanging on Caroline's nursery wall.

Which brings us to this evening's entry: Finish #3, a completed-to-flimsy-stage top, pictured to the left (apparently being inspected by a member of the Quilt Police). This is my second leader-ender Jewel Box; both were made from the same fabrics, but the first one had more blocks and no border. I suppose this will have to be called "Bordered Jewel Box" until a recipient comes to mind.

Finish #4 should be along in another couple of days.

Cannot thank Peg enough for this motivational challenge!

Back to the sweat shop . . . .

Standing Corrected, Feeling Relieved

She doesn't leave blog comments. But she does send emails. She writes:


I am generally negligent in the area of regularly reading your blog, though I always enjoy it. But I have just come from it, and was shaken by your “Negative Magical Thinking” bit. There is one inaccuracy: Bob and I were married 41-1/2 years: June, 1959 – Jan. 2001. Don’t know whether this will help or hurt your fear, but I say “let it go.”

This is your Big Sister talking. Pay attention.

Love you,


*Dear Sister