Saturday, March 26, 2011

driving with the window open (a bit)

Yesterday was a fine, fine day, even though it included a visit to the dentist. I had several places to go and missions to complete, and since most everything is at least 10 miles from my house that means a bit of driving around. But it was a sunny day and in the afternoon, I found myself enjoying the open window and tunes on the radio as I shuttled from bank to grocery store to PO. I may have been a little premature in my thoughtthat the glacier was receding because 2 days later we got another healthy snowfall (about 8"). So we are not exactly back to square one, but took a baby step backwards in the snowbank game.

Speaking of snowbanks, how would you like to be waiting for this one to melt?!!
This picture and the next are from the Mammoth Mountain website. If you check their website and the "My Mammoth" tab, there are photo galleries there that will allow you to view these and many other pictures. The one below shows #1 son Dan leaping to his death over a cliff, I don't know what possesses an otherwise reasonable young man to do this!
Must be some fun in it, though, otherwise he would be living at home!

On my frame--

Nancy's primitive applique quilt "Town and Country", not sure who designed the pattern but it might be Sue Spargo. I am doing freehand quirky quilting around and inside some of the shapes. I know Nancy really enjoyed making this (except for the forest of little trees!) so I am taking pleasure in adding the quilting to her applique. This is one panel of about 15 that make the total design. It will fit perfectly in her new home.

Very happy to receive a little package in the mail yesterday with a new jar of my favorite and best winter skin care product, Surgeon's Secret.
Their beeswax cream is just what I need to heal up those little cuticle cracks and rough heels that are an annoyance. I sound like a commercial! If you do try some of this, don't be surprised with the consistency of this product. It is not a cream, it is not an ointment, it is nearly a solid. They do have other lotions and creams that might also be very nice, but this is the only one I have tried so I am sticking with it!

"Reality is the leading cause of stress among those who are in touch with it." --Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

new (to me) video

This short video was brought to my attention by my friend, Sue. It is an inspiration.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


A few days ago I shared a project that I had started, and now have finished:



And it's Christmas on the quilt frame!
This is a quilt that will go to my friend, Diane, and was partially made of blocks from her quilting friends a few years ago. Diane added her own applique blocks to make it complete. This has been a real group project, with many hands making it possible. Diane has had some bad health and bad luck lately, so it will be fun to get this back to her.

It has been warming up around here, and there are signs that the glacier is receding!
For about 4 months, Bob has kept a little path clear from the back step to the grill (because a guy never knows when he might need to grill even in the middle of a blizzard!) and now the edge of the ice is shrinking away. It's a promising sign!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the big picture

Sometimes I need to push the pause button and take a step back and a deep breath! To regain perspective. To remember what counts. To not sweat the small stuff. Last weekend Bob and I went to visit our parents, who conveniently live within driving distance of our home. It's about
3-4 hours drive out of the city and into farmland. Not only were we privileged to spend time with our parents, but some of our brothers and sisters and offspring, too! One overnight, 2 full days of talking, laughing, playing cards, and catching up. It is so good for us to step out of our daily routines and be with the people who we come from. That's probably not grammatically correct, but I think you know what I mean! As we were making the trip home Sunday night (the last hour in blowing snow and snarled traffic-yuck!) I started to think of everything I didn't get done on the weekend. How stupid is that! I gave myself a little mental smack on the head, and stopped to think about the precious minutes we had spent with the VIP's in our lives. Yes, remember the big picture!

Here's a fun book that changes your perspective, literally!
It is a volume of aerial photos from around the world, within information about each of the places pictured. A different photo for each day. It is not a new book, this one is copyrighted 2001, and there may be other editions since then.

I love to look at the pictures overall and then up close.
The picture on the left shows the big picture, which looks kind of strange and puzzling. What am I looking at? The picture on the right is a closer view and explains things better, we are looking directly down on a camel caravan with long shadows laying out on the sand. How cool! There are a few people on foot with the caravan. And what do you suppose they are thinking about? Is this a regular daily occurrence for them? Where do they live? Do they have families? What do they eat for breakfast? Do they mind walking all day in the desert? Do they wear the same clothes each day or do they have an overnight bag packed? If they are wearing long robes, do they wear underwear? Do they ever get to visit their parents?

Back to my little world--let me show you what is on my design wall--
The top left section is all sewn together, the rest is coming along steadily. This uses a bunch of the 3" nine patch blocks I made in January from the book Nine Patch Gatherings from the Primitive Gatherings folks. When I started putting these blocks together, I was a little perturbed because the nine patches weren't all measuring up to the right size and the edges were uneven. I want to use this for an upcoming class to teach a new technique, so it needs to look good when displayed for a bunch of other quilters to see. Rather than start over with new blocks, I decided to go ahead with them and see what would happen. And when I look at the big picture, there is no doubt that they will work just fine, because the imperfections are nowhere to be seen! Another reminder to step back and pause.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

sometimes it's the little things that count

I found out about a wonderful program from my favorite batting company, Quilter's Dream Batting. They help support charitable causes by offering a very good price on the batting seconds. I use the Request Cotton batting for most of my own quilts and many customer quilts. I also have used their poly, poly/cotton blend, poly from recycled plastic, and silk blend, all with good results. I spoke to them about getting some of these seconds, and they are sending me an assortment at half of wholesale price. I can't wait tosee what arrives, we will be using them next week for my guild members making Quilts For Kids. If you are involved in making quilts for charities, please contact Quilters' Dream for information.

Here's another thing that is simple but brings me happiness! Silk yogurt in the large size containers!
This is my favorite yogurt, even though it costs about 2-3 times what normal yogurt costs, it is worth it for my morning granola. But finding this large container at my grocery store last week was a real treat, because it does bring down the cost per serving significantly, and these days I am all about saving a buck. Shopping for non-dairy substitutes at the friendly neighborhood grocery stores here is kind of like a roll of the dice--sometimes I am lucky and find several things, sometimes not so much. So the big carton of Silk yogurt really made my day! Yes, the only flavor was vanilla, but you will hear no complaints from this girl!

This is part of the gift that keeps on giving---
a Christmas gift from excellent friend, Debbie. It is a monthly delivery from the Label Crew, with directions for a project and specialty printed labels. This one arrived on Friday and I was in the mood to immediately put it together. A cute little bucket and 4 tags to embellish it. One of the tags is my own name! I did alter these directions a little, adding the ricrac, and making a webbing handle instead of fabric, and simplifying the tags by just stitching around them and then using my pinking shears to finish the edges. I think it looks kind of like a little Easter basket, don't you?

Friday, March 4, 2011

the march lamb

Do you believe in the old saying that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb? And is the opposite also true? Here on the frozen tundra it has seemed pretty lambish for these first days of March, cold but no storms. That does not bode well for the end of the month! Our March weather is typically snowy inshort periods, often coinciding with high school tournament time and snarling up plans for people traveling from all over the state to St. Paul for the final rounds of hockey, wrestling and basketball games. The good thing about any snow we get now isknowing that it won't be around for long, as compared to the snows of Nov/Dec that you know will remain as icebergs for months to come. It's all a mind game at this point!

I am loving my morning at home today, it's quiet, I have noplace to go so I can keep my jammies and robe on for a bit longer, and the fire in the woodstove is keeping me toasty. I've been taking some pictures to share with you---

This is a nice little woolen penny rug that I handstitched not too long ago. The little circles were all cut out for quite awhile, patiently waiting for my attention. If I remember correctly, this started out in Wisconsin when I was on a retreat at Beaver Lake Landing. We walked across the frozen lake to visit the home workshop of a wool dyer, and ended up with assorted woolens that someone (maybe Marilee?) started cutting into little pieces so we could exchange and get a better variety. I might have the facts wrong on that, but I doknow that it was a cooperative project, which always makes it more special.

I finally finished the binding on this baby quilt:
I really got some sore fingers from this one because I made the binding just a titch too small, or the seam allowance just a titch too big, because it really needed some pushing and pulling to turn around the edges neatly. I showed you this here before when I was blocking the yardage to get it squared up. These are not individual little pieces that I sewed together, they are just designs printed on fabric. I quilted them as blocks with a coordinated blue backing that has words about babies all over it. It finished up about 36" square and will be heading off to Arizona soon for a new baby boy in Laura and Rommel's family.

Still doing some winter-type knitting, making an "infinity scarf", which is basically just a big loop to be worn around the neck. The colder it gets, the more it encircles the neck!
Nice bulky washable wool yarn, pattern free here.

I spent part of my morning yesterday making up kits for quilts to be made and donated to Quilts For Kids.
My club, guild, gang, whatever you want to call it, officially the Ham Lake Piecemakers, is having a sewing fest next Friday and Saturday to see how many donation quilts we can generate. So I am getting some prep work done for that, using fabric from my own accumulation and a little support for key pieces from the quilt shop. I think these will bring lots of comfort to some little ones.

Putting my new design wall to good use as I construct these rows. The top row has been sewn together with triangles, but I am not loving this fabric. I might have to have a do-over on that one. I have 4 other rows done and this one just doesn't go with the flow.
Three more rows to go!

And the sorting, reorganizing and purging of my sewing stuff is winding down (alleluhia!). I have prepared a bundle of patterns that I am ready to part with.
These will go to the Piecemakers for a little fund-raiser that we usually do at our retreats. If you are part of a quilt group you might want to try this, it has been a success in adding to our treasury and helping us buy batting for our charity quilts. Here's the deal:
members are encouraged to donate a few items that are likely desirable, not junky. These can be fabric bundles, a basket of notions, a bag of thread, a group of patterns, etc. The coordinator places a few of them on a display table with a little basket next to each item. During the next few hours, group members can put their name into the baskets that they are interested in. $0.25 per name! You can put your name in as many times as you want, but it costs each time. At a pre-determined time, one name is drawn from each basket and that person is the new owner of that treasure. And we start it all over again, until we run out of items! It's fun to see what is in demand, and how many quarters some women are willing to part with!

Time to get on with the day and I will leave you with this parting thought:
"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful." Sophia Loren