Thursday, July 31, 2014


A lot of busyness going on, living every minute with as much oomph as I can muster!  A little trauma in our lives last week when Ian had to have a tonsillectomy, not a good experience for a 2 year old that has no concept of what's really happening to him!  After surgery, he stayed overnight with his papa, mama and favorite things near:  pillow, blankie, trains, ipad, juice, monkey and videos to distract from the soreness and strange surroundings.  Recovery has been a rocky road at home, with the most irritable and hard-to-please child that I have seen in forever!  Well, he is progressing, and that is excellent.  The tonsils had to be removed due to hypertrophy, causing airway and swallowing problems.  So the fact that he will be able to sleep without apnea and snoring is wonderful!

And while big brother was struggling, Baby Jack was giggling!

I got to spend a lot of time with Jack over a few days, which was great.  And now I'm playing catch-up with getting 3 patterns ready for display and purchase at Bear Patch.

These use the new 2014 Quilt MN fabrics, and are part of a large display and collection at the store.  If you want to know more, head on over to the Bear Patch blog where I will be showcasing projects over the next few days.

16 In Between is a makeover of a pattern I made 4 years ago.  I enlarged the blocks to be able to use the 2 1/2" strip packs and the pictures panel that are part of the fabric group.
16 In Between
 This pillow is probably my favorite thing that I have made lately, I enjoyed the process and the result is pleasing.  I have some good tips in the pattern for getting a really nice professional finish to not only the pillow top but the back, as well.  I have to credit my mom with helping me come up with the name "Stix Mix".  I was sitting in her kitchen with my computer, working on writing the directions, and pondering variations of pattern names.  We were looking for words rhyming (since that is my thing!) with sticks or stripes or strips.  She was mixing up something, as is usual for her, and up popped Mix and Stix, and it stuck!

Stix Mix

 And thirdly, Ring-A-Ding, a twofer, since I have both a circular and oval tabletopper in the pattern.
And to make things easier with pattern-writing, I had a great view of Silver Lake from the kitchen window and deck.  This is a small lake in the middle of farm country in northwest Iowa.  The town of Lake Park is situated next to the lake, and houses surround part of the shore.  But there is a state park and city park and undeveloped land on a large portion of the shoreline.  It's not busy with boat traffic, although the occasional pontoon, motorboat and jet-ski can be found.  It's a tranquil spot.
Silver Lake, Iowa
And then it's back home to enjoy my own little spot of tranquility, with the not so tranquil city and bustle nearby!  One final word of advice for all of you--make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your house!  Last Saturday, ours detected CO and alarmed.  Not life-threatening levels, but not good for your health.  The fire department came and verified that it was a legitimate alarm on their meter, as well, and they summoned the energy company who narrowed it down to a problem with our oven.  It's the same oven I had before the remodel, but it had been disconnected for about 2 months, then put back into place and something is amiss.  Anyway, I'm glad we had the detector in place!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

natural beauty

The hydrangeas seem to be especially lush this summer, they are practically blocking our front walk so I will have to go cut some today.  They never last real well in water, and I do dry some but there is a limit to how many I can use.

I saw 2 unusual animals last week, in 2 different locations nearby.  These pictures are not real good, I only used my iphone for these and the critters don't like to sit still anywhere close to where I was.  The first picture shows a regular brown squirrel on the right side of the trunk, and on the left side you can get a glimpse of a black squirrel.  I don't think I have ever seen a black one before.

Then a couple days later I saw this pretty white squirrel, and he shows up much better in the picture.  I have seen a couple white squirrels before, so they must be a little more common.

Ian spent an overnight with us and he learned how to help me dig a hole to transplant some hostas.  He was proud to be able to help with his little trowel.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I cooked in my kitchen!

Oh, happy day!  All appliances in place and in working order!  Just a few loose ends left to finish before I can actually say the remodel is totally done, but won't it always be a work in progress?  I have targeted my next update--the light over our table has got to go.  It is sooo 1989!

Still awaiting the range hood, 1 light fixture and shower glass to be installed.  We have made a lot of progress with unpacking everything that we removed from the kitchen and bath 2 months ago.  Why does it seem like this has been going on for 6 months?!  Anyway, I did do some sorting at that time to weed out stuff to donate, but now as I am unpacking I am doing the same thing!  This is mostly because I feel like I have all of the essentials in place in the new kitchen, yet there are more boxes awaiting us.  This probably means that we have non-essentials that could go live with someone else instead of cluttering up this place!  Just one small example:

Inside a plastic storage box I found a whole bunch of costume jewelry.  Some of it I actually remembered wearing at about the turn of the century!  Some of it seemed totally unfamiliar to me, like maybe someone else stashed it in there?  And I don't think it was Bob!  So almost all of it went into a bag for the donation box.  One very fine rose among the thorns were those fantastic skeleton earrings!  Halloween, here I come!

Some updates on the kiddos:
Ian cashed in his IOU that we gave him at Christmas to go to a ballgame with us.  Last Sunday we took him to see the St. Paul Saints, our minor league team.  They have a very entertaining ballgame and very family friendly.  They have spectators participate in contests between innings, doing races while rolling a tire around the bases; spinning around until too dizzy to stand then required to cross a finish line; sumo wrestling, etc.  The ballgame was pretty non-existant to Ian, except when the pitchers were warming up right in front of our seats.  His biggest impressions from the excursion were the garbage truck in the parking lot (he loves garbage trucks) and the "funny lady" (a pig mascot wearing a dress).

Jack is now a little over 3 months old, and I propped him up on a pillow for a different perspective.  He is so happy and healthy right now.  His mommy had her first day back at work and he did OK being away from her for 13 hours.  Next week he will start at the same daycare that Ian goes to, so that will be another transition.  Much easier the second time around, and not just for his parents!

Most of my time at home has been devoted to organizing and cleaning.  I have been on a cleaning bender the likes of which this house has not experienced in a long time!  With the new kitchen and bathroom, I feel like the whole place needs sprucing up.  I think I have cleaned and washed in a few places that have not been touched in decades!  Seriously!  But occasionally I take a few moments to sit down and do something like write a blogpost or assemble these little pie pieces:

English paper pieced circles that measure 5" diameter.
Plans for more but not sure where it is all going.
I just get satisfaction in how neatly the points all meet!

 So I hope you are getting some satisfaction from something you are doing, too!

Friday, July 4, 2014

a little bit of quilting

I have been seriously lacking time to quilt on my longarm, but I hope to kick that habit soon!  Right now I am using a poinsettia pantogram on this Christmas quilt--

The quilt blocks were all made by members of my quilt group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers.  At Christmas time, we take up the challenge to use one or two chosen fabrics to create a block.  Then we have a drawing to pick the winner(s).  Our friend, Thora Lee, won this group of blocks.  She has moved away from the area, but still comes back here occasionally so I hope that this can all get done and be ready for her soon.

One big reason why my quilting time has become minimal is the fact that I have been involved with the kitchen and bath renovation at home.  Some days it just isn't conducive to creative work, and other days I just have to be out of the house.  To have our cabinetry all painted, the 2 rooms had to be completely taped off and sealed up.  The fumes were very strong, and we stayed 3 nights with Ben and Brita.  Here are some pictures of how much has been accomplished--

tile floor in the bathroom looks wonderful

counter tops and sink installation looks fantastic

shower is coming together, still some grout left to do on the dark sections

and the wood flooring is now completely done
I really love to see the craftsmanship that goes into all of this.  I regret that I was not at home when the counter tops were done, because I would really like to see that process.  We chose to use a laminate product, meticulously installed by our friend, Dana Lewis.  He can undermount sinks from a certain manufacturer, and the join is flawless!  And now the faucets and drains are in working order, so we can start using them.  Oh, the things we take for granted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

quilts for the basin

A little while ago, I told you that I had been working on quilting several (10) small quilts for Stacy of Buttermilk Basin.  And by small, I mean less than 1 square yard.  They are part of a group of 12 patterns, designed to be done on your own or as part of a monthly sew-along.  It is called the Basin Quilt Club.  Pictured below are several of the quilts I did.  I can only find pictures of 7 of the 10.

Now for a piece of humble pie--on the last picture, upper right side, you might detect a lack of quilting. For some reason, I sewed the circle but not the feathers around it.  Didn't see it until Stacy brought it up, and now she won't let me take it back to fix it because she thinks it's good to not be perfect or some such malarky.  All I can say is I might just have to creep into her studio and sneak it back home to finish it up right!

Most of the fabrics used in these samples are reproductions of fabric that would have been in existence during the period of the Civil War.  They really complement the traditional blocks she is using.  So my quilting needed to also be somewhat along the traditional line, plus able to stay in the background so the photography for the patterns would look beautiful.

Thanks, Stacy, for the pleasure of being a little part of your creativity!