Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Finishes

I finished the binding on two quilts this weekend. First is Jewel Box Number Two, pieced last summer. I love Jewel Box quilts and probably will make more than these two. This one is mostly from Civil War reproduction fabrics, though here and there is the occasional contemporary bit. It's the size that goes over the back of the couch, the kind that you pull down over you when you lie down for a bit of a nap.

This is the first quilt I've sold. It is the one that the administrative team at school is buying for a gift for an administrator who is leaving the school after a long tenure. I didn't have another recipient in mind for JB2, and when I think about this woman who will be receiving it, I believe it to be fortuitous that I had the top pieced and ready to finish, because if I were asked to make one especially for her, I think that it would have turned out something like this.

The picture was taken with the ties still long. Trust me when I tell you they have since been trimmed.

Emboldened by having sold JB2, I approached the chair of the English Department about another employee who is leaving. This young woman came to us this year when we needed someone to cover just two sections of English in the Upper School. Quickly she became a valued employee, someone we hoped would stay around for a long time.

As it happened, her second baby is coming late this summer, and she knows this one is a little girl. I asked the English Chair if the department was going to give her a gift for the baby and she said yes, but they hadn't gotten around to it yet. I mentioned that I had a little old-fashioned baby quilt top that had some pink in it and would be good for a little girl. I hand quilted it last week and then bound it this weekend. I seldom use a light fabric for binding, but in this case, it really seemed like the right thing to do. This quilt is made entirely from CW repros. I loved making it.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In and Out

When we came home from our trip, our good neighbor Maggie had brought in the mail when she'd come over to feed Bodacious. There was a nice brown box in the mail and I had no idea what it was.

It contained all of these wonderful things -- fabric pieces, FQs, charm packs, and other delightful goodies of a stationery variety -- recipe cards, note cards, little notebook. Oh, it was just splendid! It had all come from Summer Sadie, who had had a give-away earlier in the month. Isn't she clever? Isn't she generous? Isn't she just terrific?

Thank you so much, Sadie!

I got word yesterday from Anne that my give-away to her had arrived. I was amazed at the speed of the Transatlantic mail!

For her bag, I had offered Anne a choice of batiks, dignified burgundy floral, or surprise and she went with surprise. I had a nice bit piece of Daiwabo taupe and lots of scraps from previous projects and made her bag from those.

It was fun to do and I was happy with the way it turned out.

I know I promised a give-away to celebrate my 700th post. There's going to be a little bit of a delay on that. Probably Sunday. Or Monday. Stay tuned.


Quilting Adventures

On Sunday afternoon, Anastasia and I had some errands to run. I'd looked on line earlier to see what there might be in the way of quilt shops in Richmond and found Quilting Adventures. It wasn't very far out of our way, so we went over.

Oh, my! Friends, if you find yourself anywhere near Richmond, you simply must get over to this shop. Bright and cheerful, it has spectacular contemporary fabrics and a humongous stash of batiks.

Immediately on entering the shop the batiks caught our eye and Anastasia went directly to the print pictured here (the background is more of a soft green than it looks like -- drat the flash!) and said how pretty it was. We wandered around and ultimately I remembered that their good friends are expecting a little girl in August. So I offered to make a little quilt for this baby girl and we picked out the coordinates.

The shop doesn't have on-line sales as yet, but they are working on that. And, surprisingly for a shop in Richmond, they don't have any Civil War repros. But they more than make up for that with the bright, light, happy designer fabrics that they do have.

Next time we go south, this will be a must stop!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I feel as though this is going to be a long post; there is so much in my head, and in my heart today.

We arrived home a couple of hours ago after a good weekend with our sons and daughters-in-law. Now, I've just realized that I've started at the end rather than the beginning.

I had a terrible week last week. I was an emotional wreck and couldn't figure out why. A nightmare that was actually, according to my hearers, pretty amusing, had me in tears. My problems with Blogger, with the bank, with some issues at school, with some responsibilities, all seemed insurmountable. I was dealing with things at work and trying to be a good friend to those who were asking things of me. But in all honesty, I've no idea how well I did. There were a couple of times when I wondered if I was losing my mind.

We had plans to go south for the holiday weekend, and it was late Friday morning that it dawned on me what was wrong. Friday of Memorial Day weekend last year was when Joe "got sick" which is the euphemism we use for "had a serious heart attack."

Little wonder I was a mess. Memorial Day this year could have had a far more personal meaning for me.

Once this was figured out, I somehow was better.

We had a long and stressful drive to Alexandria on Friday evening. The traffic on the highway was thick and slow moving (with a nod to Honna). A&A's hospitality was terrific, though, and we had a nice visit with them and were on our way to Richmond at a reasonable hour on Saturday. Again, congested traffic was the order of the day, but we arrived safely at T&A's home and Joe settled immediately into their welcoming hammock for a nice nap.

On Sunday evening we attended a Memorial Day event at T&A's church. There were readings, hymns, and the performance of a requiem (Anastasia was the harpist), all of which were very beautiful and a reminder of what Memorial Day really is about -- it is not just a three-day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. I was moved to tears during part of the program.

Again splendid hospitality from a son and his wife. Joe realized on Saturday morning that he'd forgotten to bring his pills with him, but a phone call home to the pharmacy and a trip to a local one in Richmond solved the problem. We did a lot of good eating and high quality laughing with both pairs of kids.

The trip home was surreal. Simply unwilling to cope with the Interstate again, we took an alternate route and for the first several hours had absolutely no traffic whatsoever. We stopped at an unknown lunch spot in an unknown town in Maryland and, friends, it was the kind of place where you'd expect to see Ruth and Idgie walk through the door at any minute brandishing their fried green tomatoes. The proprietress was doing it all -- clearing the tables, taking the orders, cooking the orders, delivering the food, and all with a style and panache that had us captivated. People seemed to know each other but the fact that they didn't know us --yet -- didn't daunt them a bit. We had a marvelous lunch and splurged on a chocolate milkshake to go, because somehow we knew she would make it just right.

So, as I started out, we're home, and Memorial Day is nearly at an end. And I'm okay. And so is he.

Love from,

Friday, May 22, 2009

They're Working On It!

They say they're working on it.

I'm not the only one affected.

I'll give them the weekend and if it isn't better by Tuesday, I'm going to Typepad where I've already tried to get started. But I do not want to do this. The time involved would be formidable.

Oy.

Sheesh.

Like I really need this right about now.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Productive Evening

I started doing a mountain of laundry when I got home today and since the laundry room is right next to the sewing studio, it made perfect sense to spend some time with Bernina. And time I did spend. This picture, however, is all I have to show for my four or five hours!

Because most of the time I was making the giveaway bag that Anne won. And she has asked to be surprised. So surprised she must be. I'll post a pic of her bag once she's received it. Anne, it's going in the mail tomorrow.

Speaking of Anne, wouldja take a look at what she has been working on? Beautiferous baskets. And she was kind enough to send me a link to the pattern.

Now, I ask you to remember this wonderful fabric that I bought at Nicole's yard sale. And think of the Bebbs Baskets. Will this not be a most glorious combination, asked she who really, really, needs to get just one more project in progress!

PS: The cute little Louisiana block in the picture is for dear Pegatha, one of my pals in the monthly block swap. Hope you like it, Peg!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Runaways

Joe and I ran away last week. We hadn't been down to Cape May in quite a while, and hadn't spent a night at The Mainstay in a couple of years. The room rates had become uncomfortable for us. But we got to missing that porch of theirs and Joe has been overwhelmed by a project that's currently taking over his life and me, well, I'm always good for a trip to Cape May.

The weekday rates before the end of May are actually tolerable, and so we booked the Harrison Room for last Thursday. We left right after school and had an uneventful drive down. Our kids had given us a gift certificate to one of the loveliest restaurants and we went there for dinner.

Spent the whole day Friday, relaxing on that porch, shopping, driving out to the Point, and actually investigating another bed and breakfast where we will plan to stay next autumn for a weekend. Nice fish dinner on Friday and we were on our way home.

Runaways. That's us.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wonderful Wanda's Wares

Wanda was cutting and selling some of her batiks. I told her I was interested in browns/neutrals and she said how about some rust and I said why not and today this glorious package was waiting for me when I got home from school. I fondled them for quite a while before making dinner (ravioli and salad; that goodness for Whole Foods on days like this), and fondled them some more after dinner.

I know exactly what I am going to do with them. The thing is, though, I can't start it yet. Too many irons in the fire. Have to tie that Jewel Box giftie, finish the hand quilting on the current baby quilt, make the bag for the bloGIVErsary, finish the alternate blocks for Emancipation Proclamation, see what's going on with the Sister's Choice blocks that got banished to make room for something else, bind Porcelainberry, and so forth. So I'll leave Wanda's wonders within fondling distance until I can deal with them.

Hey, guess what? This is my 700th post! Surely this calls for another give-away. But not yet. Stay tuned for the announcement. Within a few days. Really.

Okay, back to hand quilting.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miss Melly

Well, I'd thought I wasn't going to get involved with another swap for a while. I've got a few (!) sets of blocks in the cupboard waiting to be set. And I was determined to get them set before I got into any more swaps. I was sincere. And earnest. And feeling uncharacteristically virtuous. Then I was on some blog or another and followed a link of some sort and ended up here.

And, as Jan would intone, I folded like a cheap tent.

Isn't this quilt terrific? So simple, and so gosh darned gorgeous. And it happens that the blogmistress is running a swap so that people can make their own, and have a marvelous variety of blocks. Oh, yes, yes, yes, pull those tent poles and pegs right out.

But here's the catch: Her swap is only for people in Australia! (Slow down, reader, you are anticipating me too fast!)

What's a body to do? I posted a link to the little swap list I run and within just a few days, I've had a very nice response. People want to make this quilt.

Do you? If so, leave a comment, being sure to leave a way for me to contact you back, and I'll sign you up for my swap list. We'll be swapping both the nine-patches and the unpieced squares, and the due date will be mid August. Civil War repros only. 120 pieced blocks (think leader-ender, girlfriend) and 120 squares. The quilt, if my math is correct (and you'll prolly want to check, knowing me as you do) is made up of 128 of each species, leaving you only 8 of each to create in September when you get everything back!

We'd love to have you join our swap. It's called, A Quilt for Melanie Wilkes. I'd have named it for Scarlett, but just knew she'd say, "Oh, fiddle-dee-dee!" She'd want to think about it tomorrow. And I want to get started tomorrow!

Important Update: Sign-Ups for this close on May 15!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not-Quite-A-Mother's Day

I just finished making tomorrow night's dinner. Not for us, but for a young friend from work. The biology teacher is expecting her first baby at the end of May or the beginning of June and things have not gone according to plan.

Several weeks ago, high blood pressure reared its ugly head and Kristina was placed on modified bedrest and we scurried around to find a long-term sub to cover her classes. To add insult to injury, more recently, it was determined that the modified bedrest was not totally effective and she's now consigned to complete bedrest. People are astounded; of all people, Kristina was not a candidate for this type of thing. She's a healthy eater, has run a marathon, practices yoga, and dances. She's the absolute picture of health and wellbeing. And she's a biology teacher, fercryinoutloud.

The sunshine group rallied and committed to providing dinners three nights per week. And tomorrow is my night. So today I made a nice salmon pasta salad and corn muffins and some other good things and packaged them up for Andrew and Kristina.

And earlier today I finished the binding on the little quilt for the little someone, whenever s/he makes an appearance. I'd pieced the top with a couple of FQs left over from What Was I Thinking, and after hand-quilting the little quilt for the school auction, I decided to hand quilt this one, too. X's in the 9-patches, cats in the squares, and nice [pretty] straight lines on the borders. I didn't have enough of any of the fabrics left over for the binding, so I went to the LQS and was real happy with what I found.

Okay, little someone, it's time to join the party -- we're all waiting for you!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

I'm a Winner!

Will you take a look at this wonderful, wonderful tote bag! Complete with jewel-studded tiara! Both exactly the right size for a certain young royal I happen to know, the Princess Caroline Thunderthighs, recently of ruffled capri fame.

Two Succulent Sisters (isn't that just the best name?) held a give-away recently. When the box came in the mail, I was so excited and when I opened it, the bag and tiara were even more adorable in person than they are in photo.

Check out their blog. It is all about precious and adorable, as Reberta is wont to proclaim. Their Succulences are majorly occupied at present with preparing a one hundredth birthday party for their monther. Who doesn't look a day over eighty. I swear. I suspect they'll be back to routine creating before long.

Meanwhile, I've got to consult the Princess's mommy to arrange a presentation date!



Her Royal Highness, The Princess Caroline Thunderthighs


Hey, Y'All -- Help Me Out!

It's time -- a little bit late, actually -- to make summer plans!

Tom and Anastasia will be working at Brevard Music Festival throughout the festival season, and for Christmas our kids gave us the gift of two nights at a B&B there. We're scheduled for August 1 and 2.

Here's where you come into the picture: What else should we investigate, do, see, enjoy on our trip? We'll travel I-81 in at least one direction, and we already know to spend at least one night in Asheville and to see The Biltmore. We've never been to this part of the country before. It appears that the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are not terribly far. Should we go there? We're not interested in Dollywood, but would like to know what else there is to see and do in that area.

Any thoughts, friends?


Friday, May 08, 2009

Book Reviews: Spring, 2009

I bought this book after my friend Sharon had sent me another one by this author, a book that I enjoyed so much that I wanted to read more by him. I took it on our little spring vacation, thinking perhaps that a book about the sea would be appropriate shipboard reading.

Alas, the ship's library held lighter fare and instead of this book, I polished off two or three from there -- none of which I remember to share with you! I started Sea of Glory on our last day at sea and am about halfway finished. I put it aside to read something else, and I will return and finish it. It is about the great U.S. Exploring Expedition of the 1800s, and is a terrific character study of the captain of the ship. I'm giving it a "B."



Olive is the book club's pick for May and, readers, I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed reading it. Each chapter is self contained, and yet they all hold together into a comprehensible whole, a full picture of Olive as seen by many other people.

We've all known someone like Olive and loved her in spite of her failings. Heck, people have felt that way about us!

It is a library book, and I have passed it along to Joe. He's unlikely to finish it before it is due, and I really don't mind that I'm going to have to buy a copy. I'll want to lend it to Sherry, to Amy, and prolly some others. There is good reason that Olive won the Pulitzer. A+.



Resistant to anything Oprah endorses, I never gave this book a second look. Until someone at school began sharing his insights with me. I'm halfway through reading it, need a little break, and will definitely resume.

It is probably too long. The first several chapters are excellent.

The main thrust of the book is recognizing our ego and our true self and differentiating between the two. It is about not thinking better of ourselves than other people. Another point has to do with being gentle with those we encounter for they are carrying around a burden of life-experience pain.

It is an excellent book. I'd give it an A- or a B+ at this point.


My recent houseguest Sharon gave me this book as a gift. It's a wonderful book of practical spirituality and I'm loving reading one chapter per night.

Some months ago I read Brown's Leaving Church and liked it very much. So I was delighted with Sharon's thoughtfulness, as I suspected she had a great deal more to say.

This is another one I'll share with Joe and with others when I'm finished. An "A" book, fershure.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

We Have A Winner

It's been a very, very busy week Near Philadelphia. I suppose that once again I had forgotten just how hectic May can be. And we're barely 1/4 of the way through!

I've been scrambling with evening meetings and insistent errands and updating the calendar. Busy to the point of not having finished the bag for the give-away. And, the way the calendar looks right now, it is going to be several days before I can get it finished. I'm a little bit peeved about that.

But we do have a winner! And it is a wonderful winner! On Wednesday evening I told Joe that he needed to pick a number between one and twenty-eight and that commenter would be the winner. He said, "I like twenty-three." I like twenty-three, too. And I'll bet Anne does too!

Anne's another quilting blogger I'd absolutely love to meet IRL. Her quilts are lovely, her family is delightful, and I'll always remember the kind and gentle message she sent me nearly a year ago when Joe was sick. So, Anne, send me your mailing address, and one day next week, your bag will be heading overseas to its rightful home!

Thank you to all who commented. My 700th post is coming up soon, and I imagine that will call for another give-away!


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

If At First . . .

Well, the first pair of ruffled capri pants did not fit. Not by a long shot. Sherry said, "I couldn't get them over her thighs!" Not to worry; her friend Kate expects a baby girl any time now, so those pants can go directly to that new little one.

Saturday night we measured Caroline and measured a pair of pants that fit her.


Tonight I dug through my minimal stash and found some terrific left over Laurel Burch and tried another pair, two sizes larger. If they turn out to be too big, I figure Carrie is more likely to grow than to shrink, right? There wasn't quite enough of the animal print to do the ruffle, but there was a terrific coordinate in that box.

If these are a go, then I'll be ready to start the next patterns! Oh, what fun!


Monday, May 04, 2009

Unexpected

Remember this nice quilt from my Jewel Box Period of the Summer of '08? It has been languishing in a pile of flimsies waiting for the right recipient.

Today at school it was time to work on end-of-year plans. An administrator is leaving after more than fifteen years at the school and an appropriate send-off for her is being organized. A reception or a dinner, it seems. And a gift.

Out of the blue I asked about the budget for the gift. Because, unexpectedly, this quilt came to my mind when this lady was mentioned. I could see her liking it, snuggling under it on a day like today (more rain and even MORE rain Near Philadelphia), and remembering fondly her years at our school. And I like the idea of her snuggling under it. Or having a picnic on it. So I spoke to the right person and offered to tie it and bind it in time for the party.

And I'll be paid the amount of the gift budget! Me, who has never thought she would sell a quilt.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Not Really Mocha Trail

Sometimes the way a quilt happens is a story in itself. More than a year ago when I was out in Lancaster County at the place on 340, I saw the pattern "Mocha Trails" and bought it. This was odd in and of itself because I seldom buy individual patterns. I put it up on my bulletin board over the cutting table and pondered what fabrics to use for it. Nothing came to mind, so it hung there pleasantly and quietly.

In the autumn of '08, I had a BOM project that I'd accumulated and realized I was never going to complete. So I put up a trade offer on da blog and within literally hours, a nice person had offered to trade me a bunch of CW FQs for the set. When her fabrics arrived, I was dazzled. There were many, many terrific FQs from the "Civil War Crossings" line. I didn't think they were true, pure CW repros, but rather fabrics in the style of CW repros. I liked them. But I'd no idea what to do with them, so I put them at one end of the cutting table and let them rest until inspiration struck.

All at once it was the week before March 1 and it was my turn to send out fabrics and a block request to my on-line group. I had thought about letting my friends help me get started on my SITP (Shakespeare in the Park, Diana, a gorgeous quilt you can find by googling it!) but I didn't have everything in place. As I was standing at the cutting table working on something else, the pattern on the wall and the fabrics in the corner came together and -- viola!

While my friends worked on the blocks (I had asked them to add CW shirtings as background to the two fabrics I sent each of them), I tracked down the yardage I'd need for the alternate blocks and the borders.

The focus blocks have come home and by golly, aren't they great? Today I started on the alternate blocks.

Only trouble at present is this quilt is not a "mocha" trail. It's going to need its own name. Any ideas?


Saturday, May 02, 2009

It's My BloGIVErsary

How about that! I just notice that there is a GIVE right smack in the middle of Blogiversary -- isn't that nifty?

May 2, 2006 was my initial blog post. I tried it out as an experiment, having no idea of the world it was opening to me. At that time not yet knowing but a half dozen quilting bloggers. Never having heard of Chez. Or Mrs. Goodneedle. Or Karendianne. Or Jonco. Or so many more!

What a glorious ride it has been these three years! The quilting bloggers, the thinking and theological bloggers, the quilting/thinking bloggers -- all have
enriched my life so abundantly.

A bloGIVErsary calls, I think, for a GIVEaway.

Eight months ago I discovered a pattern for a terrific tote bag and I've made several as gifts since then. You can see the first one here. Like it? Want one? It won't be the same fabric; each bag is unique. Leave a comment on this post, and on Wednesday, I'll draw a the name of the winner. If you are a "no-reply" commenter, you must provide your email address so I can contact you.

'Kay. Enough for now. Gotta go start making YOUR bag!




Friday, May 01, 2009

Visiting Nicole

I've said many times that stash isn't my particular personal problem; rather, it is WIPs. Here's my newest WIP!!!!! It isn't stash, you see, because somebody else bought it and actually cut into it. So that would make it a WIP, wouldn't it? Come on -- humor me already.

Dear Nicole -- who has over the past couple of years has provided quite the inspiration for me -- has been having a sort of virtual yard sale. Because, you see, stash apparently is her problem (though she makes many references to WIPs as well). So she's selling off some stash/WIPs, and I was fortunate to purchase the fabric pictured above (photo lifted without permission from Sister's Choice blog). I just love it. I fondled it for quite a while last evening and sincerely predict that whether it is now stash or not, it will be a WIP before it even hits the shelf!

A good writer with a wonderful family and a dog situation that really no one deserves, she's one of the people I wish lived down the street. How I'd enjoy dropping in, Sophie or no Sophie. She'd pour me a glass of her son-in-law's good wine, shoo Ozzie off the chair so I'd have a place to sit, and settle in for a good long chat.

Go visit Nicole if you haven't before. I think you'll be as at home at her place as I am!