Thursday, June 30, 2011

a lovely day

I found these folks hanging around on my patio this morning--my stalkers! My mom and dad are visiting from Iowa, and Dan just left for his return to CA. Because Dan's time here is in short supply, and my parents don't travel across the country as readily as they used to, we had them all here at the same time. It is so lush and green here right now, everything is growing like gangbusters. The woods around our house become so dense with the underbrush, vines, weeds, etc., that we really feel isolated because we don't see much of the neighbors' houses. Kind of feels like being on our own little island! Today is sort of hot and steamy, so the A/C is feeling good.

Not much sewing or quilting going on around here, but I will be back at it soon. I have several things in the queue.

This was my souvenir of the Twins' game--an empty root beer bottle! I know, some people buy all kinds of fabulous team gear and baseball stuff. I just collect the free stuff! When we used to camp a lot, nearly all our cups and glasses were from the ballpark! Actually, I thought it was pretty neat and will be good for holding a stem or two of flowers. And it was very tasty root beer, too!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

big fish story

I have been away a few days with family festivities. Last week #1 son Dan got here from his home in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Then we drove north a ways for the annual gathering of the Hansen clan and 3 days of fishing on Lake Winnibigoshish. Now we are back home and my parents are visiting for a few days. I am so lucky to have enough flexibility in my work schedule to make it all happen!

Since there are up to 38 (or so) Hansens involved in this expedition, it really helps to have some routines and understandings about how things happen. Before hand, we get meal assignments so the main meals can be made ahead and frozen as much as possible. We always have 1 fish meal a day, so that's a given.
We also have assignment sheets made out in advance designating fish cleaners, meal prep, clean-up, fish cookers, etc. Everyone gets slotted in to one or more jobs throughout the 4 days. Luckily, there is a whole new generation to take on more of the responsibilities, and the older cousins educate the younger ones on what to do. Like, for example, meal clean-up includes wiping off the tables and sweeping up the big chunks on the floor!

Another key component to making this a real group experience is the boat assignment. Here John is laboring over the assignment sheet.
This becomes a very complicated puzzle with many variables. Reminds me of those logic problems we used to do. The number of boats varies a little, but let's just say 9 on average. Some boats hold more than others, the pontoon carries the most and Josh's boat the least. Certain people know how to run the motors, and how to get around the lake, so they are captains. But we don't want one person to have to captain every day, so that has to be shuffled and new captains have to be trained in. Then there are the littlest people to consider, they have to be in a boat with someone responsible for keeping them from drowning and help with bait and unhooking fish. And there is Grandma, she needs a comfy seat and she never has to bait her hook or take off a fish. And then we shuffle everyone around so distant cousins, aunts and uncles get to spend time together. And some people make it for 3 days, others for 2, 1 1/2, or even 1 day, so that adds to the mix. Out of all of this, we get the master list. Seems like there should be an app for that!

For the most part, we stick to the assignments unless there is a compelling reason to make a switch. I really enjoy the fact that I can spend several hours with 2 or 3 of my family that I seldom can spend time with, and sitting out in a little boat does bring out some stories and laughs and memories that would never happen otherwise.

This year we caught plenty of perch and fewer walleyes.
This is the textbook walleye, and these are the real deal:

Dan and I tied for the largest walleyes, both measuring 24", but I do have to say that Dan's looks a tad bigger. Of course, he is thrusting it out at the camera man to make it appear much more impressive, while I am just trying to stay upright in the wind and rain! Those fish are "in the slot", which means that they cannot be legally taken and they go back in the lake. But the catching is most of the fun, so that works for everyone!

Also the usual northerns, a fish that I don't have any fondness for. They look all snakey and evil.
On the other hand, the one sunny that I caught was a work of art. It was much more colorful than this drawing depicts. Beautiful turquoise and gold coloring.

Last night we had an outing to the baseball park in downtown Minneapolis to watch the Twins play the Los Angeles Dodgers. We suffered a sad loss, but we had a good time.
Dan, mom, dad, Brita and Ben gave each other moral support.

It's wonderful to have opportunities like these, times we will never forget!

Friday, June 17, 2011

MN quilt show

Lots and lots of eye candy yesterday morning as I wandered the aisles of quilts on display and vendors. I haven't been to the state quilt show in 4 years, and that time I was only there for about 2 hours to test drive longarm machines. So seeing all the displays was great fun. I am not showing entire quilts because for most of these I don't know how to credit the pattern designers, so it would be better to not take the chance of violating any copyright rules. One of the things that I did notice is that there could have been information on the labels and signs to tell who did the designing. As a pattern designer myself, I would like to think that if someone used my pattern to make a stunning quilt in a show, there would be some small mention of my own design contribution. Here are a few selections of things that caught my eye:

I tend to focus in on the quilting stitching on most of these, which is not to say that the color and fabric design is to be minimized. The quilt above was interesting to me because it was all about letters. Letters were quilted into the yellow portion, you can see the shadows, I think. There were buttons with letters and letters appliqued to the flower centers. A great whimsical quilt for a child.

I want to learn how to do this--
when I look at the individual lines, it seems pretty simple. Something tells me that I could do it.

This next one is an area of background quilting that perfectly fits with the floral applique that was the focus of the quilt. I need to remember to do that.

I went to the show with Debbie, and saw many familiar faces in the aisles. I was happy to see that it was pretty crowded during the time we were there. We did end up leaving earlier than planned because a bus of 28 quilters was stopping at Bear Patch and our presence was needed there. They had come from Osh Kosh (WI) to stay overnight and go to the quilt show today. An event like this becomes a major social event for a lot of ladies (and a few gentlemen) all around the area. Taylor Swift was performing in the adjacent Excel Center last night, but I didn't see her at the quilt show. I bet she was there in the afternoon after I left, don't you?

I am having a totally new experience today! This morning I picked up contact lenses at the eye clinic. I have never worn contacts before. I didn't start wearing glasses full time until I was in my late 30's. Now I have been having problems with sore spots from the glasses, and no amount of adjusting really fixed that problem. So I am trying this instead. A unique feeling for my eyeballs. I am lucky that Bob is an experienced contact-wearer, so if I have problems I know who to go to for help on short notice! I am hoping that getting these will prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

and they're off!

A shared sense of excitement is present this morning among many women of a certain age and interest in Minnesota. The annual Minnesota Quilters' show opens its doors at River Center in downtown St. Paul! I am appropriately dressed and wearing comfortable shoes, sporting my name badge and little purse of necessities. You know, cash, plastic, car key, phone, camera and chapstick! Heading out to pick up Debbie and make our way into the city, hoping to return with a bunch of pictures to share with you! See you later!

Monday, June 13, 2011

over the weekend

Last weekend I put in some hours at the quilt shop, and then some hours at Leisl's where we were taking advantage of the fact that her husband was out of town. Oh yeah, big party--used to be our parties were BYOB (bring your own bottle), now they are BYOC (bring your own cheese) so I can have my fake mozzarella on my vegie pizza. The kids at Papa Murphy's always have a hard time with my order: vegie delite pizza, but use red sauce instead of white and don't put on any cheese. Yes, just crust, red sauce and vegies. And then they ask me if I want cheese bread with that!

I worked some more on this quilt:
which was started a few years back and taken out of the mothballs last January. I am over halfway there, if I choose to leave it at 6 blocks x 6 blocks. There will be some kind of border added, and depending on if I want to make it the right size for my bed there might need to be more blocks, too. This is a quilt design that is traditionally called the Hap Quilt, not sure where the name came from but it has been around a long time. The block is a log cabin variation called Courthouse Steps.

This is one block, and the colors have to be matched up with the blocks on all 4 sides. These strips start out at 1 1/4" and the block is 9" when completed. The idea for making this from batik fabrics came from one of the early posse trips to Iowa. We stopped in a little quilt shop on a farm and saw a quilt like this. It was really a great looking quilt, and the idea stuck with us. Leisl has some strips cut, too, but she hasn't let them out of the bag, yet.

When I got tired of those strips, I pulled out another well-aged bag of blocks and fabrics for this:
It is a pattern called Diamond Jubilee by From Me to You. I'm not sure how big this one is going to be, I just keep adding blocks until either I run out of fabric, ambition or space!

It's hard to get a picture of this, but I think you get the idea. Lots of variety, lots of color.

Enjoying a great summery day here, and counting down the days until a certain young man is giving me a hug--you know who you are!

Friday, June 10, 2011


I came upon a new recipe last week, my co-worker Beth brought this to work. I was hooked. I admit it, I am a sucker for the chocolate/caramel combo. She told me the recipe from memory, so something tells me this was not her first batch, if you know what I mean! She did not tell me a name so I decided I would call it:

Chocolate Goodness
1 box (14 oz. or 8 cups) chocolate Chex cereal
6 tablespoons butter/margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted

Put the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a microwaveable dish, 2 cup size or larger. Heat in microwave 1-2 minutes until melted and stir together to mix. Add the baking soda and stir well. Pour over the dry cereal in a large microwaveable bowl,stir to coat. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stopping to stir after each minute. Spread the coated cereal out on a flat surface covered with wax paper or parchment. Let cool. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over all. Try to wait until it is cool to eat it.
A note of caution--that white chocolate really stinks up the kitchen when you burn it. Vanilla almond bark is an acceptable substitute.

I took some of this to my Ham Lake Piecemakers meeting last night, the lovely ladies were demanding the recipe, so here you go!

I also took along this quilt for Carol--

I think it turned out wonderfully, even though she wasn't sure she was up to the challenge of all those angles and diamonds. I was happy that she let me quilt it for her, but I had to bring it back home with me. You see, as soon as she unfolded it, I immediately saw one lone little diamond that was missing its curlicue. So tonight I got that quilt back up on the machine, found the right threads, and in about 5 seconds I finished it up! I will get it dropped off in the next couple days, so it is home with Carol where it rightfully belongs.
Here's the offender--

I usually grow a few herbs each year, mostly basil, cilantro, chives, and sage. This is the first time I can remember that my sage survived outside through the winter, and now it is big and blooming. I never even knew it flowered!

We are fast approaching Midsummer, and this quote seems appropriate:

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. Wallace Stevens

Thursday, June 9, 2011

tick town

Now that I have shown you Poison Ivy Place by my driveway, I will share with you a little more about the landscape here. We also have an area I call Tick Town, it's full of small shrubs and long grasses. There has been a bumper crop of ticks this year, and Bob has had his share. One night at about 3 AM, he got out of bed, went into the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and came back to bed. I truly thought he was walking in his sleep. It took only one word to explain. Tick. Left me wondering where the thing had been for the past several hours, and if he was a loner! A little hard to get back to sleep! Today I was minding my own business, sitting at my sewing machine, and felt a little tickle on my neck. Yup. Tick.

Luckily, we have not had any attached ticks yet, and no deer ticks spotted. This area of the country, along with New England, claim the most cases of Lyme's disease. And now it's not just Lyme's but a few other diseases to worry about, too. We need a natural predator to wipe out the ticks, I'm not aware of any purpose they serve except to annoy people.

If you make it through the poison ivy and the ticks, you will find your self out back in the itchweed. At least the itchweed reaction is temporary and non-life threatening! Really, it's not all that hazardous here, because every now and then a tornado comes through and that takes care of the ticks, poison ivy and itchweed!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

plants and poison

I've been out poking around the yard this morning, before it gets above 90. It gave me the chance to take some garden pictures:
a row of little green beans from the rabbit cam

perky little onions, the ladder in the background has to stay there to get up to the squirrel hole to get it repaired

a cluster of basil hoping to become pesto when it grows up

Also on my mind is poison ivy, and The Selvage Quilter understands what I am talking about! Before we bought this property and built our house, I had no experience with poison ivy. That quickly changed as we worked on removing brush and plants to make a little oasis in the wooded area. I had more than one break out, and now I know that I don't mess around if a rash starts, because I inevitably end up getting a cortisone prescription to get over it.
I'm no horticulturist, but I'm pretty sure this greenery by my driveway is the real deal. The proof would be taking a roll in it, but that's not happening! Every year, we spray with Roundup. Every year, it comes back. Probably slows the spread, but never completely gone. In the fall I see the lovely red leaves and white berries. Why is it that birds eat the seeds and don't need steriods? Why aren't the bunnies scratching themselves to death? And why hasn't niece Ali perfected the poison ivy detector spray that she had hoped to develop? She worked as a gardener/landscaper and had the wonderful idea to find a way to identify poison plants by spraying a liquid that would turn color on the offenders. I would love to be her beta site!

A couple more spots along the driveway, don't worry, I was standing as far away as possible!
If you want to learn more about the wonders of this plant, here is a helpful website. While you are doing that, I am mixing the Roundup!

Monday, June 6, 2011

weekend fun

We just had one of the nicest weekends, this is why I like living in Minnesota! Clear skies, no storms, mid-70's most of the time, lush green landscape, flowers blooming. Who could ask for anything more? Well, in between weeding flower beds, joining friends at grad parties, and sipping wine by the fire in the backyard, I snuck in a little sewing. Very little! But enough to double the number of these spiderweb blocks--

I started this awhile back, and my box of selvage edges keeps growing, so I took some time to make a few more blocks. I used the basic format shown in this tutorial, but randomly adding selvages instead of fabric strips.

I did these spiderweb blocks while I should really have been doing something with this--
a bundle of fabrics for the 2011 MN Shop Hop! Just received some bolts at the store on Friday, and I am cooking up some ideas of quilts, etc., to feature these prints. Only on paper so far, I am having "quilter's block" with deciding what to do. Just have to clear my mind and cut into it!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

how does your garden grow?

We have had a small vegetable garden in our yard since we built our house and moved here in 1988. In the beginning, it was mostly my deal, as were the flower beds that developed all around the house and lot. I do like the feel of some good black dirt and the pleasure of watching little things grow. Now Bob has become more interested in the vegie garden, so I make a willing assistant. We have warded off rabbits, deer and even a rogue woodchuck. Last year the deer had an especially fine time with Bob's garden plants, and he resorted to MacGyvering a taller fence out of stuff he could find in the garage. It served the purpose of keeping the deer away, but wasn't so much to look at, sort of a ramshackle look. Not quaint or folksy, just plain trashy! Yesterday he installed some new fenceposts and wire fencing that will be a much nicer barrier. However, he hasn't yet quite figured out how to close off the end of the garden near the patio. He positioned these 2 chairs to partially block it off, but I think they actually make a good spot to collect an admission fee from the animals as they enter Bob's Old Country Garden Buffet! It's still a work in progress!

I always have a stack of "charity quilts" to be completed, and Thursday it occurred to me that I hadn't quilted one since February. So this quilt had been languishing the longest, and I am happy to say that it now is done (except for stitching down the binding). It was made from blocks that were donated by customers of Bear Patch and might be found in our next Breast Cancer Awareness display and auction.

Feeling very domestic on this fine Saturday morning, baking brownies and monster cookies. Wish I could share them with you! Even without my goodies, I hope you will have an excellent weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

video time

I found this interesting video about San Francisco which is so fun to watch because I have had family living in this lovely city for a long time. They probably have seen it, but it is new to me. As I listened, I realized that so many of the places highlighted in the video are places that I have been able to visit. If you have never visited San Francisco, you really should go.

Then, a little video that I prepared and posted on the Bear Patch blog:

hooked up again

After another 1.5 hours on the phone to troubleshoot the new modem, Bob has succeeded in getting one of our 2 computers back online--yay! The man deserves a medal! So here are some photos:

First, the quilt that I quilted for Bernina Barb--
I don't know the pattern name, but I do know that a kit for it is available at the Bear Patch Sewing Center. The unique part of this quilt is the machine embroidered designs that match the designs of the fabric motifs. The machine embroidery is a whole new element to incorporate into quilt designs. When I purchased my new Bernina 730 last December, I opted not to include the embroidery module. Maybe need to re-think that? Here's a closer look at a small section of the machine embroidery.

After completing that, I decided to do one of my own quilts that has been waiting for some attention! This is a small baby-size version of my Star Light pattern--

And I love it when the planets align and bring me the perfect fabric for backing and binding!