Tuesday, April 29, 2008

green leaves II

This is the same branch that I posted in a picture about a week ago with nearly the same appearance. We have had a week of abnormally cold weather, temps still down in the 30's at night and even snow! So the leaves are not busting out all over. There is a faint haze of green through the trees and brush, all it would take is a couple hot days and our neighbors would be invisible again.
Enjoyed dinner at Ursula's Wine Bar tonight with Debbie,Nancy and Gail. Good wine, good food, and the best company. Tuesday nights they have wine specials, so we like to go then. A very comfortable little restaurant. While dining, we watched across the street as the line grew at the Cup and Cone, longtime famous local ice cream stand. Even in the chilly air, folks were lined up 10 or more deep! Everyone is glad to see it reopen after the winter closing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

too pretty to walk on!

At a March retreat, Nancy and I experimented with making floormats from fabric, artist's canvas and lots of mod podge.This is how mine turned out, using up a bunch of scraps and what seemed like a bucket of mod podge! I like it and really do walk on it every day. It's not the soft kind of rug that feels good to the toes, but a utilitarian and yet decorative rug. It is finished off with some acrylic varnish and wax which gives it that shine that reflects the flash so nicely. Nancy's turned out quite differently, she used an applique folkart flower design on a smaller size, and it worked out well, too. We might be able to teach this in some way at a future retreat, but it takes several days to allow for drying of the coats. Maybe a small project to start out with, even coasters or something like that. Will have to see.
Finished Brita's socks, and just in time since she is coming for a visit this weekend. And I started in on a new pair with Plymouth Yarn Sara Superwash wool, worsted weight in a nice tweedy tan color. Nancy found this yarn for me when she was on a shopping trip in Wisconsin and now I realize I haven't paid her for it! Maybe I can pay her in socks! Maybe that's why she brought me 4 skeins, which is definitely more than I need for 1 pair!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I am now finding some green leaves starting to show on some of the brush around here, although this morning it was all covered in white again! Nasty Mother Nature! But that didn't stop me and my friend, Betty, from going into the city for a Craftstravaganza, and I'm glad we did. The vendors were almost entirely young (at least under 40) with many interesting products. Buttons are really hot, whether actual buttons made into every sort of pin, magnet, bracelet, etc., or the buttons you make from a disk with plastic cover and pinback. A lot of use of retro fabrics, trims, jewelry, papers. A lot of "re-purposed" things, which amounts to making new things out of old things. It was well attended, even though it was almost as cold inside as it was outside--it was in a building on the state fairgrounds and the doors were wide open and unheated. It was really nice to see a younger generation's take on the arts and crafts, as well as a lot more guys than I expected.
Taking a little break from my binding, it must be 2 miles around this quilt I need to finish! Can't convince Bob that he would really be good at it if only he would try! We could work on it together and have some "quality time". I'm not giving up hope.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Some days at home have proven to be just what I need to feel like I can accomplish something. These 2 small quilts are Bamboo and Pinwheels by From Me to You. They are basically made at the same time because one strip set is cut into triangles but makes 2 designs. The fabrics are mostly Kaffe Fassett, something new at the store and very striking in big blocks like these. The first one is all quilted and bound and ready to go, the second one is not. Draping them over the couch was my best display choice at the moment when I don't have Bob home to hold them up for you!

So many stars! 56 in fact! Got the borders on yesterday and now working on quilting, I am on a deadline to get this finished to display at the store by Sunday. It will be offered as a class come summer. It is the 1800 Haussmann collection, fabric and pattern by Sharon Evans Yenter for In the Beginning Fabrics. I will have to do a little research on the history, they are great reproductions of that era. Again, draped over the couch, what can I say!

I forgot to credit the baby quilt shown on my previous post. It is a pattern called Posh Tot by Blue Underground Studios. A quick and easy one that I probably will use again.
Expecting rain again today so quilting in the basement and listening to a book on tape sound like a good thing! Over the past 2 days I have watched way to much daytime TV while sewing and working around the house, today will be a day off from that in order to stop my brain from turning into mush! Looking for a good laugh? Check out Dan's latest video for Mammoth Mountain! I think he has stopped shivering by now!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Finished Quilts are Wonderful!

What a good feeling to finish the last stitch on binding! These 2 quilts hit the mark yesterday. The little quilt is for a baby, and I know it doesn't look very babyish, but this is for a contemporary baby! It will go in the mail to Colorado real soon, and was made in green and brown to match the nursery decor. The other large quilt is the Carry Nation quilt by Kay England, part of a series dedicated to women of the past. Carry Nation (yes, that is the correct spelling) was famous as member of the Women's Christian Temperence Union, devoted to abolishing alcohol. Some of her rules to live by: To live long, walk past twenty saloons a day. If you must pour liquor, pour it down the sewer. Don't chew tobacco unless you prefer to take your food predigested after forty. Words of wisdom, indeed! Although piecing all those little squares nearly drove me to drink, which would not make Carry very happy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunny Day

I felt motivated to take the camera outside with me to see if I could find any evidence of spring. A few bits of new growth, and the grass is starting to green up, and the dandelions and weeds are already nice and green. Why is that?

I have been cooped up inside for most of the day, Bob was gone at work and I was on my machine. I am working on a flag quilt for Nancy, making good progress. But I realized that maybe you aren't familiar with a longarm machine (why would you be if you aren't a quilter?) so here are some additional pictures just to show what the contraption looks like. The quilt layers are each rolled onto the long rollers (the table is 14') and held taut by a sprocket system while I steer the machine and stitch across the fabric layers. The machine rests on rollers and channels that allow 360 degree maneuverablity. As the exposed area is stitched, I stop and advance the rollers until the whole thing is quilted. And that's all there is to it!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Lighter Side

Just had to share this wonderful picture with you!

I actually am rejoicing in the fact that I have been able to lose some weight recently, and it feels so good to fit into my pants again! I always hate to tell people if I do something like a diet because then I feel the pressure to carry through, and any woman my age can tell you that losing weight just isn't what it used to be! So January 1 I signed up for Weight Watchers online, inspired by Brita and Ben's success. And slowly but surely I have seen the scale numbers drift downward. This is no Incredible Shrinking Pam, but it does make a difference in a lot of things. I feel more physically energetic and able to move around easier, and happy that I can wear some flattering clothes. Not at my goal yet, but it is within sight. Plus, this has nudged me in the direction of looking more closely at the food that I buy, and I have found some good stuff for my lactose intolerance, too. Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese that tastes very close to the real thing, fake cheddar cheese that is vegetable based and tastes OK on a sandwich, soy ice cream, soy yogurt and Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean patties as a meat substitute. And right now I am baking a portion of Amy's frozen lasagna that is dairy free, so I am excited to see what that tastes like. I baked the black bean patties, crumbled them and added them to a lettuce salad with low fat ranch dressing and it was delicious! Some of this has rubbed off on Bob, and he has made good use of the treadmill we bought in January, so he has lightened up as well. Looking good!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quilt Fun

I have finished up a couple quilts on the longarm and have selected a couple photos to show you. The vines with flowers and leaves worked out well on this small quilt made mostly of Amy Butler prints from a pattern by Aardvark Quilts. It is hopefully now in Arizona in the home of newlyweds Angie and Jake! Not much in need of a quilt down there, but it's the thought that counts, and maybe one day they will feel a chill and need a little warmth and there you go!
Next is a flower quilt top done for a friend, I'm just selecting one of the blocks to show you an example of the fun flowers I put into the blocks. Each block was a different flower, so I had ample opportunity to put different motifs in place. I was rewarded with the smile of the owner when she picked it up and could see her finished work in a new way. This gets to be pretty fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Twice in one day--it's a miracle! Actually, as soon as I was done with the previous post I realized I had totally forgotten to write about my Thursday adventure with Maggie. We had an excellent afternoon and evening. Visits to: Crafty Planet, Borealis Yarn, The Bead Monkey, Ten Thousand Villages, Chipotle, and to top it all off--The Yarn Harlot! We were thoroughly entertained by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, AKA the Yarn Harlot, during her speaking engagement at St. Thomas campus sponsered by The Yarnery. You really have to read her blog and look for her books. Had it not been for the rain, snow, sleet, ice and winds, it would have been a perfect day!

I'm Back!

I've been a busy girl and not taking time to compose my thoughts for posting. Between work at the store, work at the hospital, 4-day quilt retreat, long-arm quilting, and once in awhile managing the recliner and remote, I have been stretched. Good news is I enjoy it all, well almost all, the 2 shifts in ICU have been at the bottom of the list!
My very part-time job in the Neuro/Trauma ICU has been a challenge, to put it nicely. My shifts there are almost always very busy, I can fill 12 hours up very easily with taking care of my 1 or 2 patients. Add on top of that a change in everything I have done for the last 30 or so years, and it gets complicated. Our hospital converted to an electronic medical record on April 1 (no joke here). Now, I am no stranger to a computer, as evidenced by the fact that you are reading this, and I am not afraid to try new things. And I had 3 8-hour classes on the new system, which seems like it should be more than adequate. But when faced with integrating this total change into my normally fully occupied day, it was very discouraging. I know it is a very good system, and totally what needs to be done, and something I have looked forward to because Bob has been working on portions of it for 3 years. But when I found myself in tears after my first shift I was pretty worried about my ability to succeed. However, yesterday's shift was an improvement (i.e., no tears) and I did indeed sign up for 2 more!
Last weekend we (Stitchin' Trips) hosted a 4 day quilting retreat at Lutherpoint for our quilting group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers. It is located near Siren, WI, about 60 or so miles from here. Our group totalled 27 happy women, brimming with creativity and enthusiasm and friendship. Some beautiful items resulted from our time away, everything from tote bags to garments to art quilts to embroidery to knitting to quilts large and small.
I have been working to rearrange my schedule and committments to allow more time for my quilting, and I am looking at several quilt tops that are lined up for me to work on. I am thrilled that I have friends that are trusting me with their quilts, and I am going directly from this keyboard to my machine, Emma, to complete my own project and start on the next. Today is a day off from all my other jobs, so I have some quality time. Hope you have the same!