Friday, February 24, 2017

what have I been doing??

Last time I was sharing here, I was on vacation, and now that seems like so long ago even though it hasn't really been that long!  I have been trying to make the most of my time at home for sewing, but that has become more limited as I have been working more at the store.  We have needed to rearrange some hours and duties there, and some of that has come my way.  It's all things that I enjoy doing, I really love being a part of the quilt shop.  

We are adjusting to the absence of one of our key players, as she recuperates from a devastating injury.  This is the kind of injury that strikes horror in the heart of anyone who loves to work with their hands.  She took a bad fall on her stairs at home, and ended up with multiple fractures of wrists and a shoulder.  For weeks, she was incapacitated for anything involving upper extremities.  Now, 4 months later, she is in the midst of constant therapy and exercises.  She has regained limited use of her hands, and can sew on her machine for brief periods and slowly knit with big needles and chunky yarn.  The physical ramifications are a huge challenge, but also the mental and emotional hurdles.  Loosing the ability to do what you love to do (sewing and knitting), loss of independence (unable to drive until a week or so ago) and just feeling like everything has changed without wanting it to change!  We all express encouraging words, but can't truly identify with her situation.  We just want her to get better!  It takes a lot of determination and work for her on a daily basis to do even some of the basic things that we take for granted.  

So, as I share with you about the things I work on, it is good to be reminded that I am lucky to have the ability to enjoy this big part of my life and creativity.

In January, I started making blocks for Urbanology by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  It's a 12-month plan to create interesting shapes and designs with the Mini Quick Curve ruler.  I've used the ruler before, and now I'm a big fan!  These feathers and arrows are my favorites from the whole quilt.  I still have to make the last section, the antlers.  And then, of course, put it all together and quilt it!  I would love to teach this at the store starting in the fall, so I hope I get it all together by then!




My little grandsons, Ian and Jack, like to help with a little stirring and mixing in the kitchen.  So I am making them some little chef aprons with a Mickey Mouse theme.  I found the fabric at the JoAnn's store, they have a lot of licensed fabrics of all kinds to choose from.  I know these guys like Mickey, so this should be a good fit.  I had enough fabric to make 4, so that's what I'm doing, and they can share with friends.


The directions are from Mom and Me Aprons by Atkinson Designs.  It's a straight forward and well-constructed design.


One of the things I do for the store is help with designing and organizing the little make-and-take projects that we use for retreats.  I altered a free online design to make this bag, and have written up the instructions for my modifications.  I get inspiration from all kinds of places, but with something like this, I always feel it's important to give credit to the source that I took that inspiration from.  We make up little kits to hand out to the 54 women at the retreat.  I'm calling it My Tiny Treasure Bag!


I'm also preparing for Grandson #3, arriving in March!  The nursery has the colors shown below in the chevron, arrows and feathers fabrics.  I just spent a little time pulling out some colors of solids in my stash to go with them.  I have some more work to do to get the combinations just right, and then do some sewing.  I'm thinking sheets, changing pad cover, boppy pillow cover, name pennants, diaper storage box and a couple other things if I can.  Better get busy!  Glad I just have to deliver these things, not the baby!


I've had little time for my English Paper Piecing project, Glorious Hexagons.  But I whittle away at the blocks and eventually I hope to have enough to make a quilt.  I have decided that I am going to simplify things a bit and instead of making several of each of the 54 blocks, I am going to make multiples of the blocks that I really prefer.  Those are the blocks with less pieces!  Here are 6 that I have basted and ready to hand stitch together.


And that's all for now!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

More Montana

Last Sunday we had a unique experience.  Glacier National Park offers weekend snowshoe hikes led by a park ranger.  Most of the roads through the park are closed all winter, but the West Entrance is open and the Apgar Visitor Center near there.  We were part of a group of about 12 that spent 2 hours walking through the woods and learning some things about the winter environment from Anna, our leader.  It's a great program and doesn't cost anything unless you need to rent the snowshoes for $2.  

A snow shower from the treetops looks like a veil behind the tree trunks.

 There was some accumulation of new snow over the weekend, so Monday found Bob and Dan out skiing on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort.  Bob had not skied in quite awhile, but he had a good day with tired legs afterwards.  Dan skis often, so he knows the terrain and people and hangouts well.  In fact, he regularly skis UP the mountain in the morning before the lifts open and before work.  There are specialized skis and boots that convert for use on the uphill as well as downhill runs.  That is one super fitness plan!  
The view from the mountain slope out towards the lake and town of Whitefish.

And, of course, warming up with a beautiful coffee drink is a good part of the winter fun!  And since we met Matthew, the barista, at the Sunday Super Bowl party, we were happy to see a familiar face.  There is such a great small town feel here!
Montana Coffee Traders has a great coffee shop on Main Street in Whitefish, a coffee roastery on the edge of town, and additional coffee shop locations.
Today we are winging back to Minnesota and some more cold weather.  Delta runs direct flights between Minneapolis and Kalispell, so we are always watching for a good deal on tickets!  Next trip has to be during the warmer weather months!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter vacation in Montana

 We landed in Kalispell, MT, Friday afternoon during a snowstorm.  The plane had to circle the airport awhile to find a break in the snow with visibility improved so we could land.  Dan lives about 20 miles from there, in Whitefish.  We are spending a few nights here with him, catching up on what's going on with our son.
Dan's windowsill garden of succulents seems to be thriving despite the snowbanks on the other side of the glass!

We watched the Whitefish Winter Festival parade from the top of the Great Northern Brewing Company right on the parade route.  Father and son enjoying a brew, and there seems to be some similarity in neckwear!  Snowflakes were falling, as was happening off and on throughout the day.
The Festival theme this year was One Fish, Two Fish, Whitefish.  A lot of Dr. Seuss fun!

Bob made friends with part of the Cindy Lou Who Crew!



We've done some walking around the area on the city trail system.  They are kept very well-cleared, and easy to access.  This picture was down on Whitefish Lake, with the ski resort seen up on the mountain when the clouds lifted.  Not much sunshine to be found Saturday, but we were part of a crowd watching the Penguin Plunge anyway.  Crazy people jumping into crazy cold water!  It made me flinch just to watch!
Warm and cozy at the Taphouse, choosing from their extensive list of beverages.


And there was even some sewing done!  Dan is using his spare time to craft market totes and yoga bags from burlap coffee bean bags.  This little serger, kindly donated for a good cause by Debbie, flew with us on this trip to Montana.  He's using it to finish off the rough edges of the burlap, and sew the linings of regular cotton fabric.  This is working great, but we may have to look for some heavy-duty equipment if he continues with this idea!  He's doing such a good job of teaching himself how to construct these bags.  I've given him some instruction along the way as far as running the machine and understanding the basic construction, but he has a rack of bags already made and ready to sell at some local places, plus at the Farmer's Market in the spring.  He's a quick learner!

We are going to be getting a lot more snow in the next couple of days, we'll hope we can still carry on our plans to snowshoe in Glacier National Park and ski on Whitefish Mountain.
From the National Weather Service for this area:

..WINTER STORM WARNING NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 PM MST MONDAY...
...BLIZZARD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH
MONDAY MORNING...

* IMPACTS/TIMING: LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH
  THIS MORNING BEFORE ANOTHER EVEN MORE ROBUST WEATHER SYSTEM
  ARRIVES LATER THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY.

* LATE TONIGHT THROUGH MONDAY: VERY HEAVY SNOW WILL COMBINE WITH
  INCREASING EAST WINDS TO CAUSE BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. SNOWFALL
  RATES OF 2 INCHES PER HOUR WILL BE LIKELY. ROADS WILL BECOME
  IMPASSIBLE THROUGH MONDAY MORNING. VISIBILITY WILL LOWER TO
  LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE. SNOW DRIFTS OVER ROADS WILL MAKE
  DRIVING TREACHEROUS AND SNOW PLOW OPERATIONS DIFFICULT.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: 15 TO 35 INCHES THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT.
  HIGHWAY 2 OVER MARIAS PASS COULD SEE A STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL
  AMOUNT EXCEEDING 50 INCHES.

* WINDS TONIGHT THROUGH MONDAY: 15 TO 25 MPH WITH LOCALLY STRONGER
  GUSTS.

I love how they use the word "robust" to describe the expected storm!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

retreat recap

I have prepared a slideshow of the fun things that have been going on during my 5 day retreat at Stitch Supply Company in Altoona, WI.  The shop has a very nice retreat facility that is for rent for groups or individuals on some weekends.


This weekend happened to be one of the "per person" retreats, so Leisl and I decided to sign up and see what a new retreat place would be like.  It's always good to try something new now and then!  There were 11 of us, max capacity is 16, so we weren't crowded.  Meals are "on your own" for this weekend, but in other situations either the meals are included or the group shares meal assignments.  We have gotten to know the 9 other people here, from different locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Quite a variety of sewing backgrounds, styles, interests, etc.
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

a brew or two for you!

It's a special time of year, which calls for a special kind of beer!
Here are a couple of my recommendations, taste-tested, of course!

Deschutes makes an annual winter beer, and I would have never picked it out of the crowd normally.  But, they put some cool art on their labels and boxes that are especially appealing to the quilter in me, and my thoughtful son gave me some.  In 2014 it looked like an appliqued scene.  I missed 2015, but last week I was able to pick up the 2016 release.  The label is by Karen Ruanne, an artist of marbled paper, and that is what is shown on the beer label.  Would be very nice to have on fabric!  The beer itself, once I get past the pretty label, is dark and flavorful.  I'm not a connoisseur of beer, I couldn't tell you whether it has notes of apple, spice or dustballs, but I do like it for a change from the routine.


Next up, an even darker beer--
This is a real departure for me, since I always choose a lighter beer.  I don't like the real light ones, or the lite ones, but a medium is fine for me.
This beer, however, is a special one.  It's crafted by a young guy I know since he was just a little kid, Pete Stacy.  His mom, Leisl, is one of my best quilting buddies, and we have been on many a trip and retreat together.  Since he started working at Summit a couple years ago (roughly), she has been able to share some Summit brews with us.  This beer, Dark Infusion, is a special release in a line of "Unchained" beers.  Pete is the brewer, and the label bears his name and signature!  It is a coffee milk stout, which didn't sound too promising at first.  I remember Bob getting some stout beer in Germany or England, and one sip was enough for me!  So I was very happy when I sampled Dark Infusion and liked it!  Very strong coffee flavor, so a good choice for breakfast!


So there you go--my beer review for the year!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

travel here and there

We've been visiting back home in Iowa for Thanksgiving.  We had a yummy dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's place on the farm.  We had both wild and domesticated turkey and all the necessary side dishes.  The wild turkey was contributed by my nephew, Spencer, from a spring hunting foray.

Back at my mom's we took care of the list of odd jobs that she needed doing.  And had some reading and sewing time.  I finished up these 3 hexagon pieces, each made from 6 triangles.  They don't necessarily look like they go together, but they might all end up in the same quilt!


The maple leaf print was a souvenir from a trip to Fernie, British Columbia, last May.  If you are ever there, make sure you visit the Cotton Tree Quilt Shop.

I've been admiring some of the artful decor here at my mom's, so I took some pictures to share.  My mom and dad traveled all over the world, and brought back interesting things from all over.


This plate is displayed on the mantel and mom can't quite remember where it came from.  This label is on the back--


 Looks like Greek to me!
The colors and designs are very impressive.

These pieces came from Russia, from Petrozavodsk, a town northeast of St. Petersburg.  They went there to teach English in a Russian school for several weeks.  These were given to them in gratitude for their volunteer work.  The colors are very rich and vibrant.  The gold seems metallic.  They are made of wood.




Also from Russia, but not sure exactly where.  I love the shades of blue and red and gold in the figurines painted on a large (about 5" high) wooden egg.  I would love to know the stories behind the characters.