Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Postcrossing Update

A while back I posted about my new hobby - Postcrossing.  I joined this group and send and receive postcards all over the world to random people.  I truly enjoy the sending as much as the receiving.  It's been just over a year since I joined and last week I passed 200 cards.  That means that I have had brief contact with 400 strangers (200 that I sent cards to and 200 that sent me cards) all over the world.  The cards have been as varied as the people.  There has only been one repeat. It's nice to think that 200 people had smiles on their faces when they opened their mailbox and saw a postcard sent by me.  And 200 others made me smile when I opened my mailbox.

Here are three of my favorites:


Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas Quilt

I managed to finish another quilt in-between my other projects.

The center part was made from a pattern by Fabric Café.  I changed the borders a bit and didn't use their signature chenille by the inch.  The back is fleece.  This woman wanted a warm quilt, but I find it difficult to quilt thick batting on my home machine so I thought the fleece backing would add extra warmth.

It's been unseasonably cold here...good weather to snuggle under a quilt and read a book! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Puppies and Babies - Is There Any Cuter Combination?

We have been visiting our puppies twice a week at the kennel.  We've become attached to SO many of the dogs there. There's Hudson who likes to play catch with a tennis ball; Titan (one of our puppy daddies) who, though he is excited to see us, is always the gentleman; Clyde who can climb a chain link fence (really!); Lacey our baby mommy who just wants love; Meg, our other baby mommy who just loves to lick; Scarlett, another mommy who needs some serious R&R after having an active litter of 7 and on and on. We usually visit with our pockets full of Milkbones for all!

Yesterday we brought Winter, our granddaughter and her Mom with us for our puppy visit.  We figured it was time the "kids" met each other.  She looks a bit curious in this picture.  What you can't see is her other hand touching the puppy's face and the puppy tasting her fingers! I think they'll make a great pair.

This guy is Aiden.  He will come live with us November 21!  On November 22 you can probably call me Sleepless.

Two  weeks later our girl (who will maybe be named Fiona...still keeping the options open) comes home to join the fun.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fair Trade Sewing

I haven't linked with Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet in a long time, but this month I'm going to join in the fun.  So, if you've wandered here from Lily's place, "Welcome." and "Nice to meet you!"

I mentioned in a previous post about Son #1's new adventures in retail.  He has been working on the structure of his new booth at a local farmer's market.  He hopes to set it up on a fair trade model and have a variety of sewists contribute items for sale.

So far I've made him a sign:
 Some pot holders:
Some pillows:
Some placemats:

And a few zippered and drawstring bags:

This was the "new stock".  He sold out of some items in the first batch and had a few requests so that determined the items in this batch.  I'm anxious to see what sells the next time around.

It's been fun to have something to work on together.  It can be difficult to find things to enjoy together with grown male offspring so this has been a great activity in so many ways. And it's nice to have reasons to use other features on my machine like decorative stitches and the embroidery module.  My quilt output has suffered a bit but it has been a lot of fun to work on this stuff.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Bias Stripes: Finally Another Quilt Finish!

It's been a long time since I've had a quilt finish to report.  Most of my sewing time has been directed at small items for son #1's new farmer's market booth (more about that in another post).  I have finished several tops but thought I'd wait until I had them quilted to write about them, never thinking that it would take this long!

My local guild started a PhD program this year.  It's like the old UFO (Un Finished Objects) with a new title - Projects Half Done.  I decided to join.  For the "cost" of two fat quarters you list 6 projects that you want to finish this year (September to August).  Every other meeting a number is drawn and you have two months to finish that numbered project.  The fine for not finishing is another fat quarter.  At the end of the year the amassed fat quarters are awarded by drawing to one of the participants in the program.  My list consists of three tops that need to be quilted and three quilts never yet started!  They are the remaining three projects of a Craftsy class by Elizabeth Hartman that I started in 2012.  Of course, the first number chosen was one of the quilts not yet started.  But, it was a design that I had looked at and decided would work with my scraps and make a good donation quilt.

So here we have Bias Stripes, an Elizabeth Hartman modern quilt design:

The stripes are foundation pieced on large format copy paper.

My critique:
  • This is not the first time that I've struggled with straight quilting on the sashing. I used a walking foot but still the fabric wants to migrate downward.  I don't think I will try this again unless I decide to change something significant in my machine set up.
  • The whole piece is a bit off kilter in shape.  Again, I'm not sure why.
  • I like the loopy free motion design in the striped boxes. 
  • I like the fleece backing (sorry, no picture).  The backing is actually a re-purposed snuggly from a year when many were exchanged as Christmas gifts but none were every used.  They really have a lot of yardage in them.
  • I used a blue thread for the quilting.  I hardly ever use contrasting thread but I thought it would help the white sashing.  And I think it did.  It makes the quilting more visible - for better or worse!
So, overall I'm partially pleased with this one. Hopefully, it will serve to keep it's owner warm through the winter this year.  It will go to the donations for the service bee I'm a member of.  We are donating quilts to a local organization that provides services to the elderly.  We meet once a month and sew and chat and share lunch.  It's a great format to get to know each other better.

Next during service bee I'm going to get working on the green scrap bin!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Puppy Pictures

We visited the pups yesterday and got some nice pictures to share:

Honestly....I AM sewing.  This is just so much more interesting right now!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Scent of a Dog

This is Titan:
This is Lacy:
They got together and made two little boys puppies born October 8.  And right before Thanksgiving one of the boys will be coming to live with us.  We visit them about twice a week to give out lots of love.  Lacy is such a good mother and Titan is a total gentleman.  They live at Gap View Kennel where they are well cared for.

We are counting the days!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book #4: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan is a wonderfully uplifting book.  It is a true story about the authors family.  She grew up in a family of ten children with an alcoholic father whose financial provision was inconsistent.  Her mother, however, used her writing skills to enter the many contests of the era and kept the family afloat.
We drove right past Defiance on our recent travels. I found myself looking up various towns on the map that were mentioned in the book. 
This one is a true story, an easy read and very entertaining and positive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Silver Lining of Losing Your Email

When we got back from our travels I discovered that my primary email account was deactivated.  Our internet provider is Comcast and despite what their commercials say, they are the poster child for bad service.  We've had an ongoing battle with them for years over redundant charges.  This was their next strategic move - deactivating my account.  It's been a bit of a bother to switch to an alternate email account and I still haven't switched everything since I'm a tiny bit hopeful that we will be able to resolve this (I know....silly me) We still have internet because, well, because they have been charging us for two accounts for years. The funny thing is, though that in some ways it's been a great thing.  I used to want to check my email frequently even though most of the messages were just junk trying to get me to buy something or donate money.  Now I only get a handful of messages a day and have no urgency to keep checking since there is so little to see.  I feel like I've been given more time in the day!

Maybe losing your email suddenly isn't that bad a problem.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Christmas Story House and Museum

A Christmas Story is my husband's all time favorite Christmas movie....maybe his favorite movie ever.  The outside scenes were all shot in a neighborhood in Cleveland, OH.  And, a fan of the movie bought the house, restored it to look like the rooms in the movie and created a museum and gift shop to go along with it.  Since we were nearby visiting Niagara Falls, we decided to stop by and see the place.  We had a lot of fun talking about the movie with the guide and learning all kinds of trivia about the making of the film. 

There is a leg lamp in the window and a Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree, a "turkey" in the oven and the "Old Man's" car in the garage.

At the gift shop you can buy leg lamps of all sizes, a variety of movie memorabilia and even a bunny suit like Ralphie got from his aunt.

It's a great stop on your way through the Cleveland area!

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Travels: Niagara Falls

We've been on the road again....this time to Niagara Falls, Canada.  It is one of a very few places in the world that I have visited, but my husband has not.  It seemed like my parents went to Canada several times when I was young.  It was so much fun to revisit the area and see that the falls are as awesome as ever. 

We rode the boat, went under the tunnels, saw the whole downtown area and even visited the Floral Clock.  My mother always insisted that we visit the clock and a shrine on every trip to Canada.  I was never overly impressed with either.  The clock is nice, but after experiencing the power and size of the falls it sort of comes up short.  And every year I had my picture taken in front of the clock.
We were even treated to an Elvis impersonator in an outside café!
He had the look down pretty good, but not the sound.

From Canada we made a stop in Cleveland and then a few family visits and back home.  Except for our two nights in Canada we slept in a different place every night!  The pace was a bit exhausting and home was a welcomed sight!

Friday, September 5, 2014

When Time Flies

The summer is drawing to a close and I've started to think about just what I've been doing with my time!

Much of my sewing has been occupied by a project of Son #1.  Ever since he was little he has had an entrepreneurial streak.  He would sit by the road and try to sell vegetables from our garden, jars of "hand made" sand (He would rub rocks together until they powdered into sand.), and anything else that he thought I wouldn't miss.  Now, although he has a real job, he wants to revisit the world of retail.  So, with me as his supplier he will be having a booth at a farmer's market in his area.  I've been producing a variety of small objects to compliment some quilts and larger pieces.  The shop will be set up as a fair trade store so that if there is more interest than I can supply he can draw in other crafters to work within the fair trade framework.
I also made a Dorothy costume (sorry, no picture yet) for our October trip to Autumn at Oz.   It has been a long time since I did any garment sewing and just like I remember...the hardest part is the fit.  At first I made this way too big and even now I think the skirt is too full, but I'm going with it as it is, because after all, I'm living in the "invisible years" so I don't think it will matter a whole lot.

Then....there have been many opportunities to hang with my best girl.  She is so much fun to have around and such a good, good baby.
In between all that there have been a few trips with the husband.  Recently we went to the beach to meet up with family.  It was my first trip back without Seamus and it felt a bit sad not to have him with me on the beach.  I was a little lost.  But with the passing of time we have been able to start to discuss filling our house again with furry little paws. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book #3: The First Phone Call From Heaven

I actually read this book at the start of the summer but never got around to posting about it.  The First Phone Call From Heaven is by Mitch Albom.  I've read several of his previous books and always enjoyed them.  They tend to be inspirational and thought provoking.  This one had the added benefit of providing a bit of a mystery to the story.  I really enjoyed that added element.  The story focuses on a small town where several people are experiencing phone calls from loved ones that they have lost.  There are a variety of responses to the calls from the receivers as well as those who are not getting calls.  It gets a "thumbs up" from me.

Whenever I give a "book report" I always feel that my reading quantity is rather pathetic especially compared to the husband who devours one book after another.  But then I read this and felt a bit better.  :-)

I tried three times to get this graphic to appear readable, but I'm not too sure I was successful.  If you click on the graphic it brings it up in a more readable form or here's the link to the original source with the graphic is towards the end of the article.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blogs, Life and Choices - and Quilting

It seems like, in general, you either make your life happen or your life happens to you.  And usually we have seasons of one - having some order or control over what is going on in our lives and seasons of the second - reacting to life happening around us.  Lately I've been in that second category of watching life swirl around me.  And consequently blogging hasn't been at the top of my list.  I have a paper by my computer of topics I want to blog about but haven't, for one reason or another.  But I have had so many thoughts and ponderings and getting older means that those thoughts will only stay with me for so long unless they get written down.

Long ago, at the start of my blog I wondered why blogs stop.  I was new to following blogs and would often find one that I enjoyed but taking a closer look at the dates I realized that the writer had been gone for months or sometimes years.  There was no conclusion like a book, no season finale like a TV series, no final thoughts.  The blog just seemed abandoned like someone had walked out of their house one day and left everything behind.  Now, having blogged for several years, I think I understand a little better.  Sometimes life happens.  Other interests take over.  Writing down thoughts and activities no longer adds to our day, it just becomes another thing to do.  Sometimes the whole process of picture taking and editing and posting is more than we want to deal with.  But we still sort of like the idea.  Maybe life will slow down or inspiration will strike so we just sort of put our bookmark in place and set the blog aside.  Then time moves on and suddenly it's been months or years and blogging becomes something we did "back then"- sort of like diaries of old or paper and pencil journaling (both of which I've done in the past).  I guess the main difference is that no one knew when those writings were started or when they ended.  No, I'm not getting out of the blogosphere.....just acknowledging a little insight into some old questions I've had.

That sort of leads me to my second pondering (which actually has a quilting connection).   We often think of choices in life in terms of what we choose, but in reality choices are more about what we DON'T choose.....what we say "no" to can be as important as what we say "yes" to.  Son #1 had a very broad assortment of interests in high school - from drama to art to engineering to logic and debate to science.  But to be good at one he would have to spend less time with the others.  His dilemma was not finding what he liked or should pursue in life but acknowledging the need to say  "no" to other likes.  So maybe my missing bloggers have decided to say "yes" to other interests for awhile and need to harness some of the time and energy spent on blogging in their other areas.  Just like (wait for it.....here comes the quilting transition) choosing fabrics for a quilt.  We may have 20 fabrics that seem to go together and that are all pleasing to us.  But saying "yes" to all of them would create a chaotic design.  So we need to figure out what to say "no" to so that we can accomplish our final goal of a coordinated pattern that we like.  Did we like ALL of the fabrics?  Yes.  But we couldn't make our quilt with all of them.  Did Son #1 like all of those varied interests? Yes.  But pursuing his eventual profession required a total concentration of his time and energy for several years.  Saying "no" to good things is sometimes needed so that we can say "yes" to other good things.

So, life is still happening to me and probably won't slow down for awhile yet, but I'm not ready to say "no" to blogging.....just a bit slow at it. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seamus: 2001-2014

Seamus, sweet beloved Golden Retriever, family member of Nina and her husband, died August 7, 2014 at the age of 13 from complications of a prostate mass, most likely, cancer.

He was born in the summer of 2001 to a family in rural Virginia, one of a very large litter.  He came to live with his busy household in the fall of that year and enjoyed the active, somewhat chaotic household of five.  He enjoyed lots of love from the entire household.  As a puppy he loved to chew T.V. remotes, eyeglasses and gloves; loved treats, roughhousing, climbing in the shower and being outside.  He tolerated the cats.  He hated crates, constraints and being alone.

As he grew older he became an avid hiker doing surrounding trails on a regular basis with Nina.  He especially was fond of hikes that ended at a waterfall and rewarded him with a swim in the cool water.  At the end of the hike he also enjoyed the traditional picnic before heading home.  They usually shared an apple and peanuts on a blanket before the drive back.

He loved all types of water from swimming pools and mountain lakes to the ocean and sound. He always stayed in control of the game of "retrieve" in the water by just not returning the stick or ball when he had enough of the game.

He loved to travel in the car.  He could tell when an adventure was forthcoming and would dance with excitement hoping that he was to be included in the ride.  He spent most of the trip with his head on the front console between his two people.

He loved Beggin' Strips and looked forward each morning to a ritual of being fed them in small pieces.  But he was always willing to share this special time with his doggie cousin, Jackie, taking turns being fed the special treat.

In his older age he became the ambassador of the neighborhood.  Daily walks were opportunities to greet two and four footed members of the area with a sniff and tail wag.  He brought a smile to the face of many people - most of whom were never known by name, but all of whom remembered him fondly.

He was a loyal and faithful companion to the very end.  While his passing has left his family with much sadness and tears, they are comforted in knowing that he lived a long and full life with them, even making them better humans along the way for having shared their lives and home.  He trusts that in time the sadness will fade and the wonderful warm memories of fun times they all shared will comfort them.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life's Buttons

Several years ago I wrote a post about buttons.  I have both my mother's and my mother-in-law's button collection along with my own.  Both reflect the woman who owned them - as I'm sure mine does.  And I have a deep inability to use some of the buttons in any project that will leave me and never come back again.  They are so much more than buttons to me.  Some of the ones in my mother's box have been there since I was a little girl.  I remember looking through them during the long lazy summer days.  I just can't seem to part with them.

Yesterday our quilt guild speaker, Deborah Schupp of Gumbo Design Studios shared several of her quilt designs.  This one caught my eye and a bit of my heart:

She made this wall hanging out of buttons from her mother and grandmothers...and maybe great grandmothers.

There is definitely one of these in my future!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Being One With the Hummingbirds

This past weekend we traveled to Lake Hope State Park in Ohio.  We read an article in Birds and Bloom Magazine (my absolutely favorite birding magazine, btw) about a hummingbird event at the park.  Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through July and August you can hand feed hummingbirds and last weekend a hummingbird expert from Michigan was there to band the birds and talk about them.  We made plans (but choose our accommodations poorly - won't rent there again), packed our bags and off we went.

It was FANTASTIC!  Having those delicate little creatures so close was totally awesome.   The Nature Center puts out feeders on a regular basis:
Then when it's time to hand feed they take them down.  (Sorry, no pictures of that yet.  They are on the husband's camera and I haven't gotten copies.  I'll add them when I can.)

On Saturday the banding expert did his thing and I was allowed to release the only male bird caught!  Several people attending took pictures and sent them to me.  (I felt like a model - well, no, not really.  :-) 

It was a great experience.  If you live anywhere near there the feeding alone is worth the ride.  It happens at 1pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July and August.

We hope to go back next year and stay in the park itself.  The lake was beautiful, very clear and had lily pads in bloom! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vacation Quilty-ness

This year our beach vacation was spent at a different rental than usual.  We really liked this house.  There was a great place to fly the pig flag:
When we stay on the ocean side the pig flag helps us remember which stairs off the beach go to "our" house.  Here we put it on the mailbox on the day that our daughter-in-law was joining us so that she could find the house.  The rest of the time it flew off the deck to announce that we were "in residence".

But I thought it was a real sign that this was our new favorite home when I saw this on the master bed:
 I sort of fell in love with this quilt.  In fact, some day I'm going to make my own in this pattern.  I guess it just shows that a quilter may be away from the machine for awhile or take a break from sewing tasks, but she is always thinking about patterns, admiring quilts and planning the next project.  Or at least I am.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vacation and Technology Ponderings

We recently spent two weeks at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Neither the husband nor I have ever spent two straight weeks in one place.  But this year everything seemed to fall into place to make that happen.  We are both now retired; we liked the rental house; it was available the following week; the weather was great; we had minimal commitments at home to cancel; we were able to get the mail delivery/paper delivery, medication, flower watering, etc. managed; and the owners gave us a last minute rental discount to stay another week.  So, we went for it.  And the experience of staying two straight weeks away from home brought some interesting thoughts to mind and some longing for the "old days".  For instance:
  • Two weeks was long enough.  We were both ready to come home by the end.
  • We noticed when we got home how very soft our carpet is.  I know that sounds funny.  And it wasn't like the carpet in the rental home was bad, but apparently ours is much softer and something we had never appreciated fully before.
  • A reversed floor plan (bedrooms downstairs) might be nice at the beach, but it makes for a lot of stair climbing throughout the day.
  • Dogs who swim in the sound daily begin to stink.
But, perhaps my biggest revelation was how very complicated technology has made our lives.  Disclaimer:  I'm about to rant.  In the old days, we got up, ate, showered, did some housework or went to work and that was it....our daily duties were done.  Our free time was free.  But now we add to the list:  check the email (maybe several accounts), the voice mail - on the home phone AND the cell phone, Facebook, blog updates and whatever other internet distractions we participate in.  And here's the thing....they follow you whenever you leave home.  Sure, you can unplug, and to some extent we do, but now if you have a cell phone or an email there is an expectation that you will respond no matter where you are just because the message can get to you.

It wasn't always this way.  Let's take a look back in time. It used to be that when you went away you told a few trusted neighbors where you were going and gave a general number (like the number at the resort or hotel where you were staying) to reach you.  In the small town where I grew up my father even told the police that we were going away so that they would "keep an eye" on the house.  And you were really away.  In fact one time we were staying in a cabin in a remote part of the state and my oldest sister needed to tell my father about a death in the family.  She called the State Police who drove up to the cabin, knocked on the door and told us to call home because there was an emergency.  We drove into town, found a pay phone and called her landline and she answered.  And when you did get home there was no answering machine to check, no emails to delete, no Facebook, blog or websites to catch up on.  And there was no backlog of TV shows to watch....you just missed them and waited for reruns. There were no pictures to download from your camera or rename and file on the computer so that someday you could find them again. 

My conclusion: technology is a two edged sword.  I love that it lets me keep up with extended family, pay bills fast, and I really do enjoy the blogosphere.  I like that I can Facetime with my granddaughter when we are apart for awhile.  And our spontaneous extra week of vacation would have been much more difficult to pull off without the wonders of the Internet.  But keeping technology in it's place takes a real conscious effort.  I guess that's why I played blog hooky last month.

 I just needed to remember a simpler time.


Friday, July 4, 2014

"Q" is for WHISPER Quilts

Several of the Whisper Quilts were displayed at the Quilt Show.  I shared about these along the way, but to recap:  this challenge placed us in groups of five.  Each person choose a picture that they liked.  The picture was passed on to another person who interpreted it into a block.  Then that block (but not the picture) was passed to a second person who interpreted it into another block which was then passed on again and one more time.  The results were surprising and not what you would expect at all.  Here are a few of them:

 Some of them are difficult to appreciate in such small pictures.  The last one is my favorite.  The original picture wasn't included, though and I'm curious weather it was a picture of a sunflower or the sun.  I also wonder if it's hanging upside down? 

So, I think that wraps up my "quilt show report".   I'm heading to the show in Hershey, PA at the end of the month with some quilting friends for some more quilty eye candy.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Q" Is For Quilts, Russian Challenge Exhibit

Remember this fabric......
.....that was given to my quilt guild by our sister guild in Russia with the challenge to create a quilt that expressed our view of Russia?  And that I used to make this....

 Well, all of the quilts along with all of those made by our sister guild and showing their interpretation of the USA were exhibited at our recent quilt show. 

I thought the uniformity of the Russia to US quilts was quite a contrast to the variety of the US to Russia entries.  The pictures on the quilts made in Russia are a bit hard to see here but they are images of: cowboys, Indians, the US Capital, basketball players, a sax player, a mountain landscape and a city skyline. There is some talk of this exhibit traveling to some other shows but eventually the US to Russia quilts will be given to the Russian guild and their quilts to us will stay here.