Wednesday, October 22, 2014

this and that

Our days have been packed lately so a lot has been going on that I haven't written about.  Here are some highlights:

Little Jack Robert Burke was baptized at home with us, thanks to our pastor who is generous with his time.  We needed to fit this into a weekend when Dan and Lauren were here, and we are so glad that it worked out for them.  Grant Tanner is our pastor at Cedar United Methodist Church.

It is a special day when our kids can all be in one place at one time.  Dan and Lauren live in Whitefish, MT.  Ben and Brita and Ian and Jack live in Minneapolis, but are soon moving to Charlotte, NC.  So I think these group photos will be hard to come by in the future.  But we do have a good time and laughs whenever we can.

It was bittersweet to take Dan and Lauren to the airport for their trip back to Whitefish.  So sad to see them go, but after I got back in the car and felt that big void where they had been, I decided I should turn that frown upside down and go to IKEA!  It is just on the other side of the airport and it is a treat to go there since it isn't convenient for any spur-of-the-moment trips.  And I had been lusting after this rug for my sewing room for quite awhile! 

Now it makes me happy to see it and remember Dan and Lauren's visit with something bright and pretty.

A few weeks ago, Ian got to visit his great grandma and great grandpa in Iowa.  He always gets to do something new when he is there, this time he learned how to pick tomatoes with great grandma.  I think he will be hired again next summer!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I have become a temporary citizen of Wisconsin!  I have spent the better part of the last 10 days across the border in Augusta, WI, and have 3 more days to go.
Staying at this retreat center makes me feel kind of spoiled, it is such a nice pleasant place and surroundings, and someone else does the cleaning!  

A week ago I was here with a group of quilters, organized by the Ham Lake Piecemakers, but attended by an assortment of quilters who enjoyed the time together.
Here are pictures of some of the beautiful things that were created:

Judy G. put all the pieces together on her quilt of pears, a pattern by Fig Tree.
Love her color choices!

A wise owl quilt by wise Tracy E.--destined to be a gift.

Bags to the left of her, bags to the right--Leisl's beach bag factory!
She reconstructs discarded broken beach umbrellas during her summer
at the East coast, and they sell like hotcakes!

Tiffany, daugher-in-law of Judy, finished her first quilt!

We all shared meal duties and feasted on good food, snacks, and laughter!
Another excellent adventure, sign me up for next year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

alive and well

Just letting you know that I am still breathing!

I have found the answer to one of life's important questions:
How many times can a 2 year old ask "What's that"?
Answer:  Infinity

We (Bob and I) spent a wonderful long weekend with our 2 little grandsons.  And then collapsed!
There are many entertaining things to do when you are 2.
Ride on Grandpa's lawn tractor.
Look for toads.
Go to the apple orchard.
Help grandma cook something.
Build a fire with Grandpa.
Pull weeds.
Play outside with front end loaders and dump trucks in the sand.

And then there's baby brother, who likes his bottle many times a day.
And learning to eat cereal.
And work on rolling over.
And tummy time.
And holding onto rattles.
And jumping in the bouncer.

We all had a good time, and we were all glad to see mom and dad return from their trip.
Being grandparents is a good thing!

One of our weekly produce bags brought us these very pretty vegies, and I just had to take a picture.  I have never seen a purple cauliflower before!  It turned the water purple when I steamed it.  I should have used it for dying some yarn!

Remember the new yarns that I bought on vacation? I made myself leave them alone until I finished the little sweater that I had been working on.

Here it is after washing, all laid out to dry.  
The letter "B" stands for Burke, their last name.
And solves the problem of whether to put their first initial on it and then the other won't get to use it.
And now that that's done, I am figuring out my next project!

Monday, September 1, 2014

2 finishes

I have finally had a little uninterrupted (well, mostly) time in my sewing room to finish up some things for new classes at the store.  Right now is the back to school time of year, and that carries over to the store, too!  We have a long list of new classes opening up, for a full list go to the "Classes" tab on the website and choose the list of classes from the drop down menu.

I am really happy to finally get things pulled together for a new class I have wanted to get organized for quite awhile.  Since learning how to do English Paper Piecing a couple of years ago, I have wanted to do more with all of the different shapes.  Maybe it's the geometry thing, I always did like that class!  But stacking, moving, shifting, reversing and twisting those shapes fascinates me.  I know, dorky!

This new class will meet once a month or so (I plan to lay low during December!).  It's mostly a social and work time for anyone who wants to come, but each time I will have a new "featured shape" and a project that showcases that shape.

Our first class (in October) will feature the clamshell and this pillow project as an example of how to use them.

Then, in November, we will feature the tumbler shape, and the instructions for this little zipper tote.  It was fun to put together the tumblers using a little "Moda Candy" pack that I had picked up somewhere.  This pack is a bundle of 2 1/2" squares cut from a whole group of coordinating fabrics.  Makes it so easy to get a bunch of prints that go together.

I assembled all of the tumblers and then had to decide what they would be used for.  Not another pillow.  Maybe a little tote?  Make that a zippered tote!  I appliqued (by machine) the tumbler blocks onto the turquoise fabric, added some Soft and Stable, lining, zipper, and voila!

After I had it all together, it needed a really good steam press.  Which is hard to do on these 3-dimensional objects.  I was reaching for my pressing ham (which needed a dusting) and realized that my special little pressing mitt would be just right for this.  It actually is an oven glove or potholder for cooking, made of some of that heat resistant silicone stuff.  It's pretty firm, yet flexible.  It fits on my hand like a mitten, and I wear that on one hand inside the little tote while holding the iron in the other hand and moving the iron over the area that needs pressing.  It's a little clumsy, but it just dawned on me that it would work so much better to have a 3rd hand!  Look out, Bob!  Next time you will be wearing the mitt!

And now my next task is to write up the directions for these 2 projects!

Then, for my wool applique class, I really should get these 4 little guys quilted and bound.  They are part of my on-going wool applique group at the store.  It's been fun to see the combinations of wool and cotton, piecing and applique.  These patterns are all designed by Stacy West of Buttermilk Basin.



And speaking of Stacy, I am so excited to be a student of hers at a special event she is organizing.  It is just a few short weeks away!  She is using a barn in the Wisconsin countryside for what I hope will be an annual event.  Classes, shopping, food and fiber!  I might never leave!  You, too, can attend.  All the info is on her website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

home is good

So nice to be back home, after feeling cooped up in the car for 2 days!  Even though we drove a
l-o-o-n-g time Sunday (about 12 hours or so) that meant that we had an easy day (about 8 hours) on Monday and arrived at home with some time to unpack, start the laundry, mow the lawn and even take a walk!

I forgot to tell you much about our time at Glacier Distillery.  They use cherries in some of their products, and it is prime time for cherries.  Lauren showed us the huge vat of Rainier cherries that were fermenting and bubbling away.  Yes, there are bits of foreign material in there since they do come from a tree, not a lab!  But all that is filtered off so you won't end up with a stem in your cocktail!

I bought a cherry brandy liqueur, Daughter of the Sun, as well as Little Cottonwood which also has some cherry flavor along with other good seasonings.  I had a delicious cocktail at the Whiskey Barn tasting room--Daughter of the Sun mixed with sparkling apple juice (at least I think it was Daughter of the Sun, but to be honest I might be mistaken about that after inhaling all those fermentation fumes!)

And since I have a special place in my heart for a good gin and tonic, I sampled and purchased the Glacier Distilling gin.  I like that fresh flavor, like a little pine tree in a glass!
I'm not sure why the gin doesn't get a beautiful label like the others, there's one more question for me to take back to Lauren.

On our last day of vacation, we had a bird's-eye view of the Flathead River valley.  It was pretty cloudy so the picture isn't the best, but I liked to look all the way over Whitefish, down to Flathead Lake and Columbia Falls just off to the left.

Also, on that last afternoon, we went to Brewfest in the Depot Park in Whitefish.  There were several (12-14?) microbreweries present serving up samples of their brews.  Not only did it taste good, and we had fun meeting more of the Whitefish folks, but the glass was really cute, too!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

call me huckleberry hound

Yesterday Dan and Lauren took us up the gondola on Whitefish Mountain and showed us how to find and pick huckleberries.  These are a local delicacy, and folks get sort of territorial about the berry patches in the wild.  We did not witness any berry wars!  We just wandered around the mountainside a bit and didn't have to look far to find some bushes.  These berries are a little small, they do develop larger when given the right growing conditions.  We were picking them simply to eat, not collecting a bunch like a few other people we saw.  When we arrived in Whitefish last Sunday night, we were treated to a fresh huckleberry galette (sort of a rustic pie) that was delicious.  Now that I have seen how hard it is to gather any significant number of berries without eating them, I am so impressed that Dan and Lauren shared their berries with us in a pie!

Today has been spent on the road, after forcing ourselves to reluctantly leave the kids and Whitefish behind.  We did so many fun things, and have some left to do next time!
We drove east across the middle of Montana, with rain most of the way.  There had been significant rains in some areas, with lots of water in ditches, etc.
Even covering the road that we had to drive through!  There was a police-type person there who told us it was safe to drive slowly on the left side of the road, which Bob did while I pictured the car floating out to the prairie!  

I have had a chance to do some hand stitching on these wool applique samples for a future class for Bear Patch.  I did most of the preparation before leaving home.  I finished up the cornucopia that I had begun back at home.  Then today I got almost all of the candy cane done.  And tonight in our hotel I did the pressing to fuse the snowman all together so he is ready for stitching tomorrow.  I can stitch without motion sickness when the road is pretty smooth and straight, as it is in a big chunk of eastern MT as well as the rest of North Dakota that we will cover tomorrow.

patterns from Buttermilk Basin
 Before leaving Whitefish, I did make stops at a couple of shops for more "souvenirs"--
first, at Whitefish Quilts.

I found some odds and ends, patterns by local designers, a bit of fabric, etc.  I always like to find things that I won't find easily back home in Minnesota, and I really scored at this shop!  Some fabric lines that we don't have at Bear Patch, a sweet little ruler that will always remind me where I got it, some applique designs from an Alaskan woman with blueberries and lupines, both appropriate for MN, too!  The woman working (sorry, I didn't get her name) was very good at answering my questions and giving suggestions.

Then I hopped over about 3 blocks to Knit 'n Needle.  Their online presence is Polka Dot Sheep, selling both their own patterns and now their own yarn, too.  I liberated 2 skeins of yarn and one little pattern to bring home with me!  Jill was working there and was so friendly and helpful.

I think that pretty much covers the yarn and fabric shopping portion of this trip!  I did even get a little bit of sew time because I took my machine (Viking) out for Dan to experiment with.  He's interested in making some tote bags so we had a little sewing lesson.  If only I could have stayed longer, I could have taken him through the construction of a whole bag.  Instead, I left him some instructions and spare fabric to practice on.  I'm sure he can create something amazing!