Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SKD?

More than a year ago, I won a giveaway that Mrs. Schmenkman was having. It was a collection of absolutely delicious FQs, and I fondled them for a good long time before cutting into them to make a quilt for Sherry to give to her friend Adam for his new daughter. I loved the way the pinks and greens got along with each other, and I liked them on the white background. I had a fair amount of fabric left over, and since Sherry had liked the baby quilt so much, I thought that someday I'd do something for her with the pink fabric.

Then a couple of months ago Amanda Jean (thank you, Liz, for jogging my failing memory!) was motivating people to start a nine-patch quilt with white sashing. Her sample was enticing -- it was so crisp and clean. I couldn't resist. I plunged into making organized nine-patches out of the Schmenkman left-overs. I tried setting them with a narrow lattice the way Amanda Jean did, but there was so much going on in the blocks that Joe and I both felt that they needed some space! I tried a lattice 2/3 the width of the block and found that to be just right. I had four blocks more than I needed, so I made a 6" border and put them in the corners. They don't show up well on this picture, but I think you prolly get the idea.

So, it is a finish! A nameless finish, but a finish nonetheless. Dare we continue to call it Mrs. Schmenkman's left-overs? I think not. How about Strawberry Kiwi Daiquiri? I could live with that. Could drink one, too, it's humid Near Philadelphia!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Leader-Endering

Lest the reader have come to believe that this writer no longer sews and quilts, let us set the record straight!

"Summer Hours" have begun at work and this is the second week of them. During the school year, I work from 7:30 or 8:00 until 4:00 most days. Some days longer. But during winter break, spring break, and summer break, we are blessed with shorter workdays.

And, of course, I have been sewing away. Nothing is quite ready to share just yet, but know that I've been working on the baby quilt for Tom and Anastasia's friends, Matt and Ann and it will soon be ready to show you. I've also cut and pieced all 120 of the swap blocks for the Quilt for Melanie Wilkes. And the quilt that reader Amy named Emancipation Proclamation is ready to have the blocks sewn into rows. So there is great potential for a Major Reveal in the next few days. Then there's a nine-patch quilt -- someone in blogland suggested people join her in making nine patches and set them with nice plain white sashing; I had some fabrics left over from a recent quilt and have been working on that little project, too. I wish I could remember who she was -- I'd give her a link.

Yes, I guess I do have a relatively short attention span.

Today what I'm sharing is my current leader-ender project. There are two different six-inch blocks, and I need 60 of each. A perfect leader-ender, wouldn't you say? The finished quilt will be for Caroline when she moves into her big girl bed in another six or nine months.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Apricots, Pineapple, and Blueberries



Each morning Joe cuts up fresh fruit for our breakfast. He's been doing this for five years or so, and takes care to make the fruit bowl is not just a mixture of tasty combinations, but also that it is a delight to the eye. This morning's offering of apricots, pineapple, and blueberries was particularly beautiful, I thought.

I also felt another quilt coming on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just What I Needed

Our weekend getaway was just what I needed. In so many ways. Being away from work. Being away from the phone. Being away from the news. Being away. Being with Joe. Being someplace beautiful. Being in new environments. Being in a fabric store. And, frankly, just being.

We left home on Friday morning, starting with breakfast out, right here in town. We headed up the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and stopped in the town of Jim Thorpe, a place we'd heard about but never visited. It turned out to be terrific! After an hour of sightseeing there, we went northwest to Lewisburg, where we met Bob and Pat for a most delicious lunch at a unique restaurant that I'd recommend unconditionally, Reba and Pancho's. After catching up with family, we continued north to Wellsboro.

We spent two comfortable nights at Arvgarden, where we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our hosts, Keith and Hilma, and met some other delightful guests. Hilma's breakfasts were delicious and Keith was a wealth of knowledge on almost any subject. The home is Swedish in style, beautifully decorated, with this terrific quilt in the sitting area of the guest wing.

This isn't a very good picture of the sitting area, but it shows the beautiful view a little bit. The Wellsboro area, as well as the roads leading there, is view after view. Just lovely. On Friday night we had dinner at a place in downtown Wellsboro -- at lunch Bob and Pat mentioned that they had camped near Wellsboro and when I asked if they could recommend a place to eat, Pat told us about "a place with a terrible name and terrific food," Timeless Destination. Golly, was Pat right -- about the terrific food part, especially. And surprisingly inexpensive. With a cute young waiter, too!

The town was all geared up for the Laurel Festival. The square had been taken over by a humongous crafts fair. It was rainy so we didn't loiter long. The parade was scheduled to begin at 2:00 on Saturday, "rain or shine," and already on Friday evening people had set up chairs along the parade route. And somehow we knew that those chairs would remain undisturbed, no matter how many more people came through the area. It was just that kind of place.

On Saturday, with a forecast of heavy rain, we made an executive decision to bypass the parade and see what else the area had to offer. Which turned out to be plenty! A scenic drive took us out towards Coudersport where we spent more than an hour at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, of all places! Joe had heard about it and wanted to visit, and it turned out to be a fascinating place. Expansive and educational, it began with an orientation video, and then a self-guided tour of the various components of the museum and the outbuildings. It would be a terrific place for a family to take kids.

After lunch we drove to the western rim of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The rain was still fairly intense, so we only got out of the car for one viewing spot. But we were very glad that we did, because the view was gorgeous.

We got back to Arvgarden in time for a nice afternoon nap and then drove over to nearby Mansfield, where community players were putting on a fine production of "Plain and Fancy," a rather silly story set in Amish country, but with good acting, really nice sets, and some excellent voices.

On Saturday morning, I spent the better part of an hour at Needles, the LQS for Wellsboro. I have to tell you it is probably one of the top five quilt shops I've ever visited! The people were so friendly and helpful. The fabric was gorgeous and abundant and priced fairly. They had kits for this quilt. I didn't buy one on Saturday, but I certainly did write down the name of it because I just might have to do it! Isn't it stunning?

We drove home slowly, stopping at at kennel where we saw some sweet English Springer Spaniel puppies. We were not looking to buy a puppy at this time, but I wasn't closed to the possibility if we found precisely the right dog. We are both aware that we have another little vacation scheduled for later in the summer and didn't like the idea of having a little guy for a few weeks and then boarding him to go away. There was a little liver and white male that I could quite easily have brought home had the timing been right. But it wasn't. Joe's main reason for stopping was to meet the owner and see the adult dogs at the kennel. We'll stay in touch with Mrs. Leshock, because her kennel does seem like a very good place. This time next year, I suspect we'll have a new family member.

We visited briefly with Joe's aging aunt and his cousin close to Bloomsburg, and then started homeward. We decided to go back to Jim Thorpe for dinner on the way, and had a nice meal there.

Did I mention that I bought some fabric? Did I need to mention it?

I needed some additional light CWs for the Melanie Wilkes quilt, and Needles had a very wide selection. Mary had mentioned that her study had shown that CW fabrics were often a little brighter than what we are currently thinking of as CWs, and I liked that idea, so I looked for and found some very nice brighter lights for Melly's quilt.

I also needed some shirtings for Caroline's big girl bed quilt (more about which later) and picked them up at Needles, too.

We got home around ten o'clock last night. And guess what -- I have two more days of vacation! Lady, start your Bernina!





Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Vacation

For Christmas, Bonnie gave us a gift certificate for two nights at Arvgarden, a Swedish-style bed and breakfast in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. We've both heard of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, the nearby major attraction, but neither of us has ever been there. That is about to change.

We're going tomorrow to spend the Laurel Festival weekend at Arvgarden. We'll explore Wellsboro, attend a parade, hope to attend a play and perhaps a blue grass concert, visit a quilt shop, see that there Grand Canyon, and rest and relax.

On our way north, we might stop at the town of Jim Thorpe to see what is going on there. Another place we've heard about, but never visited.


Sunday, on our way home, we plan to stop in the Bloomsburg area to visit Joe's aunt (sorry, no link but waving vigorously -- "Hi, Aunt Arlene! See you soon!"

And Joe has an idea about another stop on Sunday.

I wonder what that could be!



Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feet Up Kind of a Day

Some sweet reader, noticing that I'd not posted since Wednesday, wrote to see if I was okay. Wasn't that lovely?

I'm okay. Dog tired, but okay. The past week was the last week of school, with Commencement and all of the associated activity that brings. We were out for four consecutive nights, too. It was all good stuff, mind you, but just too much too close together.

Besides that, today was Stephen Ministry Sunday at our church, and I had been asked to preach. I hadn't done that it a while, and fortunately I got the sermon written last Saturday before everything got so hectic. I read it each afternoon and again late last night and early this morning, and it went very well.

But I'm just whupped. Have spent much of today with my feet up.

Tomorrow, Scarlett reminds us, is another day. And I hope to post some pics of the sewing I've worked in despite all of the activity: finished the blocks for the Liberation quilt, made two blocks for Caroline's quilt (yes, another new project), and continued work on the Quilt for Melanie Wilkes blocks. I've decided that this quilt is going to be named Rhett Butler Slept Here, and am sending it off this week to have it machine basted for hand quilting. First I have to piece the backing. And I just can't do that today.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Bloggist

About once every three years, my wonderful daughter takes a stint as guest blogger. She doesn't know ahead of time that this is going to happen -- I'll just be so dazzled with something she writes me that I just have to share it. So, without further adoo, here's a recent email that showed up in my in box:

I got an old keyboard and put it on Sam's easel under the white board so that he can have an office. The office also contains a cell phone, fake ham, dry erase markers, keys, bracelet, and lipstick. He says he works in a bank and I often hear him giving someone directions. This morning before we left for school, he stopped at his office real quick and sent what sounded like an email to God. "Thank you for the rain, and the trees, and the
flowers. Love, Sam"

Caroline is up to walking about 7 or 8 steps in a row and is very proud of herself. She asks for things she wants although most of her requests sound the same so I have to repeat back until I get the affirmative sign: a big smile and hum noise sometimes accompanied by rubbing her hand across her chest.


Life is good, yup, it is. And grandchildren are spectacular!


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Shout Out!

Isn't it just the nicest feeling when someone you like or admire thinks you're pretty nifty, too? Doncha get all smiley and happy and kind of canary-whiskered (as in the cat who swallowed the) when that happens?

Happened to me today. From someone I just think is the cat's meow, in a feline manner of speaking. Yup, it was Kim! The gal I'd really love to have live down the street. Right next to Nicole. And across from Mz. G. Yeah, I know: I'd never get anything done!

Thanks so much, Kim!

Lovin' ya back,

Pinot Noir?

The thoughts for this post have been marinating for a couple of weeks. I'm still not certain about whether they are ready to post. Perhaps some other ingredients, i.e., your thoughts and your comments, will help.

Here's a picture of a nice glass of pinot noir. About three out of four Fridays each month we go down to the Glenside Pub for dinner and while we wait for our meal to come, we catch up on our weeks-just-past over my wine and his Heineken. Been doing this for more years than I can keep track of. Never thought much of that glass of wine other than how good it tastes and how nice it is to raise a glass with the love of my life.

I didn't grow up in a home with an alcoholic. Neither did my husband. When the kids were in high school, I was confident that they weren't drinking with their friends (I discerned this by the facial grimace on Sunday mornings as they choked down a sip of Communion wine).

Most of our friends are comfortable with a glass or two of wine, a beer or two. Heck, most of us don't even stock anything else! I'm a tad bewildered by our sons' recent fascination with scotch which I consider to be among the vilest tastes ever. But that's not what's inspiring the post because I think it will pass much as my own youthful fascination with gin did.

Truth be told, I've not thought a lot about alcohol in the past thirty-five years, other than to fine-tune which red wine I like on those Friday nights. In the past few weeks, however, that's changed.

First, someone that I've known, liked, and admired for several years lost a job because of inappropriate and excessive use of alcohol. Next, a good, close friend had the excruciating experience of confronting her twenty-something son about his drinking; fortunately, he's a wise lad and without an argument, he went off to a rehab center. The last thing that happened in this series of events was when another friend -- from a "girlfriend" friendship rather than a "couples" friendship -- told me that she and her children had employed a professional interventionist for help in persuading her husband to seek treatment for the alcoholism that has been destroying the family for more than twenty years.

I said to her -- the way we do -- "I'll pray for you as you go into this intervention. If I can do anything else to help, let me know." Never imagining for a moment that she would.

Which, reader, is how I found myself involved in two lengthy and detailed preparation meetings and as a participant in an Intervention. Part of me wants to explore and process the experience a little more, for it was intense. Another part of me knows that this blog is most likely not the appropriate venue for such exploration.

I wonder about the coincidence of these events. I wonder what deeper pondering and reflection might reveal.

Know this, though: On Friday night, it was not with my usual casual, non-thinking air that I ordered my pinot noir.


Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm a Winner -- YOU'RE a Winner!

Today is a Win-Win kind of a day. I'm a Winner and YOU'RE a Winner (perhaps). Well, I'm sure all of you readers are winners in one way or another. One of you, however, is the winner in my 700th post celebration give-away.

But first, friends, would you look at what I won? This terrific pattern! Kim was having a give-away on her blog of this terrific pattern that she'd designed. Do you ever visit Kim? Well, you should. She's a terrific writer, a non-complainer, a talented designer and appears to be a most engaging teacher, judging by the lesson plans she posts for the classes she holds at her LQS. This pattern was finished and she was ready to teach it, but the pattern lacked a name. So she asked for help from her readers. My name was one of those picked to win a pattern. I didn't submit the winning name, but I was among the finalists. So I won this pattern.

If you wander over to Kim's blog you'll see that it's a versatile design --presently she's making it again, this time out of Halloween fabrics with spiderweb fabric where the white is. Isn't that just adorable? And aren't I just lucky?

Okay, now for my own giveaway. Remember these lime and chocolate F8s that I picked up at Sauder's? That pretty many of you seemed to like? I like them pretty much myself. But I'm going to give them away.

I counted the comments and asked DH to pick a number between 1 and 25 and the winner is someone who apparently doesn't have a blog! Imagine that! Laura, it's time to get with the program! Here's what you wrote:

What wonderful finds you discovered! And thank you for the hint about Zands, saving those pennies for shipping help the coin purse. Laura (rebusrebus@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx)

Time to make yourself known -- email me your name and mailing address, and your chocolate-lime treat will be in the mail on Monday. Oh, and Sharon, if you're reading this, I'll mail that book to you at the same time!


Thursday, June 04, 2009

He's Here! He's Here!

Long-time readers of this blog may recall that each year, just around the time that school lets out for the summer, someone or someones come to spend the coming months in my office. The head of school and I become foster parents for a member of the lower school science department.

The first year we had Fig, a most amiable and interesting newt, and the following year we had an anole named Survivor. You can read all about their adventures, such as they are (although there's one really good story about Fig) by going here. So that brings us to last year when we were fortunate to accommodate a quartet of fire-bellied toads who were nameless upon arrival. I put the question of names to my readers and Fitzy came up with One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, four and the deal was done.

Well, after three years of responsible reptile/amphibian fostering (including weekly trips to the pet shop for their live crickets dinners), we've proven ourselves. This year, we've qualified for a turtle, and so a baby snapper (who bears a striking resemblance to the downloaded picture above), with a total shell area about the size of a half-dollar, who was apparently born last autumn will be our companion. He/she didn't have a name so I looked for something ambiguous. My husband suggested "Watch Your Fingers," which I thought was great and the science teacher shortened it to WYFI and hence s/he is named. I don't expect to have a lot of interesting reports of this new roommate, if any at all. But I did feel obliged to report the arrival!


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Aischa's Got Me Thinking

Friends, your fellow reader Aischa is a thinker. And she's got me to thinking. And I'll bet she'll get you to thinking, too.

Aisha writes:

Dear Nancy, usually I am a lurker and enjoy reading about what you are working on and LOVE your quilts!! I rarely comment on blogs...but today I feel I have to say something and please do not feel offended, just a short remark, delete the comment if you feel it is inappropriate.

I think I know of whoms blog you are talking but please Nancy, dont you realize that some people have worked really, really hard to achieve the place where they are? I am only 30, starting a family and working hard. When I retire I also want some things to enjoy. Some travel, others build their dream house. The economy is bad, yes, but those people have probably worked hard and saved every penny for centuries??

Also, do you realize that out of your last 4 blog posts you yourself wrote about buying fabric? I am living in Europe and I can only dream about 9$/yard of fabric. Here we pay 16 to 18 EURO for one yard!!!!! You can probably imagine how much fabric an average quilter in Europe can afford? And the 100$ for the pattern....maybe you forgot to add that this is not a simple patchwork pattern with 2 pages, but probably a BOM with a LOT of instructions???
Again, please, delete the comment if you feel my reaction is inappropriate...Aischa

Wow, Aischa. I'd be so wrong to suggest your reaction is inappropriate. Even if I totally disagreed with everything you say. Which I don't. Your reaction is coming from your feelings, and feelings just are. There's no inappropriate. At least IMNSHO.

I've been thinking and stewing since I read your comment. I think you are covering quite a bit of territory in one comment. So let me see if I can break down some areas for response. And also to see what kind of response all of this generates from other commenters.

First, you write about people who have worked and saved for a long time, "Some travel, others build their dream house." I'm really glad that you pointed that out, Aischa. It helped me see how judgmental I'd been about the bazillion-cabinet lady. It reminded me that my husband and I took a little trip this spring and I blogged about it when we returned. I wanted to share my experience with the people who read my blog, and I wanted it as a record for myself. Your observation reminds me that the b-c lady may well have been doing the same thing. I wasn't bragging or showing off when I told about my trip, and you've helped me to see that Mrs. Cabinets probably really wasn't either. She just wanted to share her happiness about her new home with her readers. So thanks for your help with that. I still don't want to look at any more of her cabinets; I much preferred her quilts. But I'm feeling much more kindly disposed towards her.

Second, I do realize that in two of my four most recent blog posts I mentioned buying fabric. I'm a little unclear about why you find that objectionable or inconsistent. I think most quilters like to share pictures of new fabric that they've purchased. I don't buy a lot of fabric, and most of that shown in those two posts was bought on sale, much of it for as little as $2.29 per yard, which made me very happy. I did know, that fabric in Europe is considerably more expensive than fabric in the States, so $9 does not sound like a lot to you. But it does to me. Relativity.

Last, about that pattern. You're right. I didn't say that the $100 pattern is a BOM with a lot of detailed instructions. It is a gorgeous and imaginative BOM with really terrific creative designs, and I don't know how detailed the instructions are. It makes a gorgeous little quilt, a real conversation starter. And the designer certainly has the right to charge whatever she feels is appropriate compensation for her considerable talent. But I don't have enough money to justify purchasing this pattern. And I don't think many people do.

So, friend, that is some of the thinking that you've generated for me. I wonder what others are thinking.

And I hope you'll continue to visit. And to comment more often.



Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Doesn't Grow on Trees

When I was a little girl, I was frequently annoyed by a particular expression my mother used. "Do you think money grows on trees?" she'd ask (rhetorically, I believe). I didn't think that then, and I certainly don't think that now.

"You don't talk about money," my friend Nancy has said. And I've always thought she was right about that. But now we do. Everyone does. Most of us in very general terms, alluding to "the economy's being what it is," and statements of that nature. Conspicuous consumption is out; frugal choices are in. Last week I deleted a blog from my sidebar; the author used to write about her quilts and they were darned nice quilts. But in recent months all she posted were pictures and more pictures of her extravagant new home. I just couldn't stand another shot of her bazillion kitchen cabinets! Maybe deep down I'm jealous, but I don't think so. It just seemed tasteless for her to flaunt her wealth when so many people are dealing with frozen salaries or lay-offs.

In our quilting world, Bonnie Hunter's book is selling like hotcakes, in part, I believe, because Bonnie doesn't urge us to go out and buy yards and yards of fabric (which at many shops now starts at nine dollars per yard) but instead has designed patterns to use our fabric scraps and even cut-up clothing. My big problem with Shirttails is deciding which project to do first!

This morning when I was running through my sidebar blogs, I came across one of the cutest patterns in a long time. Immediately I thought of someone who would love this quilt. And then I thought of someone else! I followed the links for purchasing the pattern and stopped dead in my tracks. It was one hundred dollars. For the pattern. No fabric. Just the pattern.

Oh, well.

Money doesn't grow on trees.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Well, well, well, just what do we have here? It is a sweet little stack of ten fat eighths of the most amazing color combination! I picked them up on Saturday when Honna and Helen and I drove out to Sauder's for some retail therapy. Golly, I love that store!

Helen had disappeared for a bit and when I went in search of her, I found her examining some pre-cut stacks. So I thought I would help her and I ended up with two of the stacks in my take-home pile! Of course you can click on the photo for a closer look. Which you might want to do . . . .

There's this stack, more about which later in this post, and then there is . . .

This stack! This one is fat quarters of some absolutely excellent pink and brown CW repros. I have this quilt for Caroline in mind that calls for such fabrics as these. I had seen the pattern in a Keepsake Catalog and decided I didn't need a pattern but I could figure out how to make the quilt myself.

The first fun step, of course, is acquiring the pink and brown fabrics. I suspect that the HST making will get a little bit tedious, but I have at least eight months before Carrie will be ready for a big girl bed. I'd like to get started on this project during this summer and perhaps even be getting it quilted early in the winter.

Next we have a fabric that I just had to have. Honna found it, actually, and she bought a huge hunk. I found her with it at the cutting table and when I saw those dancing ladies, I just knew I had to have some for myself.

I'd picked up the orange earlier in the morning without knowing what I was going to do with it -- this is something I don't often do, actually. But I was dazzled by it and planned to buy a piece just to have on hand. Then I realized that it would really look great with those dancing ladies. I think I see a big bag for myself here, yes?

These CW repros are ones I ordered from the Zands website earlier in the week when they were 20 percent off. For you readers who are also near Philadelphia, did you know you can place an order with Zands and in the instructions box ask them not to ship it but to hold it at the Sauder's cash register for you to pick up. They'll refund your postage and stil tie it up in a nice fabric strip for you!

I'm going to use these for the Quilt for Melanie Wilkes swap. In fact, tonight I cut and stitched some nine-patches from them.

The first place I always look when I walk into the store is that big table of flatfolds to the left. I really hit the jackpot this time -- see these fabrics? They are flatfolds of five yards each at $2.29 per yard! No, they won't cut them for you. But five yards at $2.29 makes some truly magnificent backs. I bought five. Or maybe six. Some of the same fabrics were on the bolts on the shelves for about $9 per yard.

Okay, back to the darling little stack at the top of the post. They are my give-away in late celebration of my 700th post a week or so ago. You know what to do -- leave a comment on this post and I'll draw a random number on Friday for a winner. No extra chances for posting about it on your blog -- My goal here is not to increase my readership but rather to do something nice for the peoploe who hang out here regularly. Like you.

Oh, and by the way, thanks to Helen, Honna and me, the economy of the Muddy Creek area is intact. Not to worry.