Monday, March 23, 2015

friends in high places

There is that old saying "It's good to have friends in high places".  Well, I have a friend at the tippy top of the high places.  At the Summit!
At our quilting retreats, we all supply our own food and beverage for retreat, and have a shared snack table to graze between feeding times.
This time, in addition to the snack buffet, Leisl offered to tap into her connection to Summit Brewing in St. Paul.  She brought an assortment of beers for us to sample.
So I did.

My problem is, I am not a very good sampler.  They all were very drinkable, so I really can't rate or compare them to each other!  The Maibock and Porter are varieties that I probably would not have purchased because my pre-conceived notion would tell me that I would be wasting my money on something I would end up passing over to Bob to consume.  (He'll drink anything!)

Well, they were actually very tasty, and I would not have shared with Bob!

And then, while shopping at the local little Gordy's Groceries in Augusta, I spied this--

I was not familiar with a "malt specialty" liquor.  I did buy this and brought it home to share with the previously mentioned guy.  It was probably the marketing that made it for this beverage.  The patriotic theme of the name, complete with eagle flying and mountain peaks on the horizon.  The flavor "apple pie" is like the trademark of America!  The folksy chalkboard-art-looking graphics, which remind us of the good old school days of our childhood.  The description at the bottom states it is brewed in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, evoking a picture of the beauty of nature all around us as we sip our drinks.  And then, bottling it in a mason jar really completes that moonshiney backwoods down home feel!  After sampling it straight, I'm not a fan.  But it has been suggested to me that I might like to try it mixed with ginger beer or cranberry juice.  Sounds like a good idea!  As I did a little more research into the making of this product, I found that it is made by Stout Brewing Company.  My first thought was that it had a connection to the nearby University of Wisconsin - Stout in Menomonie, nowhere near the Blue Ridge Mountains.  But it's a different Stout.  In North Carolina.  Not far from Charlotte, in the city of King's Mountain.  42.4 miles from Ballantyne, the home of the Carolina branch of our family!  Maybe a field trip on our next visit there!  It's a small world after all!  (And now I will have that earworm in my head all day!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

please don't touch the quilters

I went to the quilt show in Augusta, presented by the local quilting guild.  If you have ever visited a quilt show before, you probably know that it is pretty normal to see signs posted as reminders to not touch the quilts.  The oils and unseen dirt on our hands can accumulate and cause problems with some fabrics.  Sometimes there are even "white glove ladies" present, who will lift a corner of the hanging quilt to give a view of the back of the quilt.  They wear cotton gloves to protect the quilts.

At the Augusta quilt show, this sign says "please don't touch the quilters".
I guess it's OK to touch the quilts?
I think the person in charge of the signs needs to start over!

At the quilt show, there was a woman selling tote bags made from recycled feed sacks.  This one was a chicken feed bag in a former life.  I think it looks like just the right thing for browsing around the farmer's market!

I worked on several easy little projects, and thanks to my mom's help with binding, we got these made:

little baby blankies made from double-sided plush fabric.  Just attach a binding and it's done!  We made this binding wider than usual, cutting the strips 6" wide.

Then there were the pillowcases, little and big, for 2 little boys.  Featuring Frozen, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Seuss.

The first picture shows mini size pillowcases, which is just right for my little guys.  Neither one is big enough to need a full size pillow, so they like the little ones.  Here are the directions, if you are interested in trying one:

Pint-sized Pillowcases
5/8 yard fabric for body of pillowcase--cut 18" x 32"
3/8 yard fabric for cuff of pillowcase--cut 9" x 32"
This is designed for the small travel pillows (approx. 14" x 20").

It is a very good idea to wash the fabrics before cutting.  And since they do shrink, I stated the amount required with a little cushion to allow for shrinkage.  Finished pillowcase is approx. 16" x 22".  Seam allowance is 1/4".  It is best to finish the seams with zigzag or serger.

Iron the cuff fabric, wrong sides together to form a strip 4 1/2" x 32".
Sew the folded cuff strip to the 32" edge of the pillowcase fabric, right sides together, matching the raw edges.  Press the seam away from the cuff.
Fold the pillowcase in half with right sides together and the cuff at one end.  Sew the side seam, backstitching at the opening.  Sew the bottom of the pillowcase closed, backstitch at beginning and end.  Turn right side out and press.

More accomplishments for mom--

She finished the hand quilting on this small quilt.  She used embroidery floss and larger than usual stitch size.  It's called "big stitch quilting" and is a growing trend.  Never knew my mom was such a trendy gal!

More treats for those little boys--

5 pairs of fun pajama pants that I hope will come close to fitting one or the other!
Fire trucks, jungle animals, triangles (kites according to Ian), red pickup trucks with Penny (Lauren's dog) in the back, and goofy faces.  This should keep them entertained for a moment or 2.

And I continue with my obsession with Bridget's Bagettes--

I just can't seem to kick the habit!

Monday, March 16, 2015

the retreat treat

My mom, Sally, and I have just completed a 5 day quilting retreat in Augusta, WI.  It's great that she could come with me.  We have wished we could do more of this, but the past few years she has not been able to leave home very much since Dad needed her there.  So, even though it's sad that he is gone, it's good that she can once again do some of the things she missed out on.

There were 20 of us staying at Bridge Creek Cottage.  Plenty of sewing space, food and fun.  There was even a local quilt show going on!  We all had meal assignments, so we each had to cook only once during the whole time, which was great!

Here we are in our natural habitat--

I spent time completing the blocks for this quilt, Hexie Blossoms by Whimsicals.  I will work on getting this quilted and bound so it can probably be a summer class at Bear Patch.

My mom worked on finishing the borders for this quilt for her grandson, Spencer.

Each of her 6 grandkids will have received their quilt when this is done, and then she can start on the great-grands!  They all have little baby quilts from grandma, but the latest edition is a grown-up quilt.
This was derived from a block that she found in an old magazine, and we tweaked it a little and enlarged everything to make it a good size.  The main element is the blue paisley print, which gave us a basis for all of the other colors.  Since I drove her home and stayed overnight last night, we got this layered with the backing and batting, pin basted, and mounted on her quilting frame for hand quilting.

The next quilt was made by Laura.  This is only a portion of it.  It is a pattern by Bonnie Hunter.  It was a mystery from a previous year, and I don't see it on her blog but it will probably be in a future publication.  I am always amazed at the circle effect achieved with straight lines, no curves.

And here's a beautiful accomplishment, many hours of work and TLC went into this one.  It's called Indian Orange Peel by Karen K. Stone.  It is the work of Amy.  It is all paper pieced by machine, small pieces of fabrics sewn onto a paper pattern, then joined with other sections.

There were 2 or 3 other people at retreat who have the intention of making this design in different color schemes.  I hope they can do it!

And here's a cute new pattern that Jean was working on---

You have to click to her website to see the cute ideas and the hedgehogs!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

scrap deliveries

Now, I usually am not on the receiving end of scraps from friends.  Most often, I am the one passing scraps on to friends.  But lately, the tables have turned!  These are selected scraps that fit my needs, so they are most welcome!

This batch came from my South Dakota connection, after she saw my posting about the Gypsy Wife quilt over on the Bear Patch blog.  These are from the PBandJ group that I am using as the basis for my color choices in that scrappy quilt.  And I really needed some help in the blue and yellow category, so these are perfect!

I am doing well by South Dakota lately, as this piece also arrived from there--

I had admired this print used in the background of a block that my friend had made, and I benefited from her scraps!  This will also go into Gypsy Wife.

And then yesterday, at the Paper Pizzazz class I am teaching at Bear Patch
, one of our "regulars" (sounds like a what we would call Norm at Cheers!), Elaine, pulled this out of her bag of tricks for me--

The story behind this is from awhile back.  Elaine was working on an English paper pieced project with hexagons and Halloween prints.  She likes to work with small scale prints in little pieces, and I remember commenting to her about this print used in her project.  Well, she remembered, and gifted me with a piece of my own!
It's so good to have friends with scraps!

Friday, March 6, 2015

a mid-winter break

Bob and I just had the great pleasure of a trip to an island paradise!  We do love a chance to savor a few days away from the cold and snow.  It has to be timed right--not too early in the winter because then the good after effect wears off before spring arrives.  Not too late in the winter to waste the good effect because it is followed too closely by actual nice weather at home!  It's a double-edged sword of vacation timing!

We visited the island of Vieques, a place I had not even heard of before.  It is part of Puerto Rico, a small island (compared to Puerto Rico) just a wee bit east of the Puerto Rican coast.  You can see the island from the coast.  We flew to San Juan.  There is an airport on Vieques for small planes, so you can take anther flight and get to Vieques faster if need be.  But we had the time to spare, and the spirit of enjoying the life like the locals do, so we went by ferry.  This involved a taxi ride from the airport, about 45-60 minutes to the town of Fajardo.  We made it just in time for the 4:45 ferry, which was a very good thing because the next one would have been after dark and not nearly so fun.  The ferry ride was about an hour, and, get this--$4 for both of us round trip!  That helped make up a little bit for the expensive (in my book) taxi ride!  We did get the senior citizen discount, you younguns' would have to pay twice that.

The trip over was not very rough, and my stomach stayed calm since I stood where I could watch the horizon.  We were with family members on the ferry, and greeted at the pier by brother and sister-in-law, Art and Sharon.  We were all congregating for a wedding, with a few days of fun before and after.  The 4 of us rented a house through VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and had the luxury of a lovely house all to ourselves, plenty of space both indoors and out.

Almost everything we did involved being outdoors.  We spent a lot of time out in the sun, or seeking shelter in the shade!  The opportunity to get a bad sunburn was ever-present, so a lot of sunscreen was slathered about!  Our lily-white skin soon took on a pink tint, but not painfully so.

I love this picture of us, it looks like a painting!

The beaches were fantastic, and not at all crowded.  We used to take some vacations in Mexico, and I think this is what Mexico, and many other locations, was like 30 years ago.  There was no one near enough to our spot on the beach to overhear their conversation or music.  There was no one hawking beads and trinkets.  There was nobody braiding hair.  There was no one serving buckets of beer.  We had to bring our own!  There was no sign of garbage or pollution.  There were no personal watercraft zipping around in the water.  There was no parasailing.  Just beauty and peace and quiet!  Amazing!

Did you know that starfish don't always have 5 legs?!  This special little guy was in a big aquarium tank at the little museum and cultural center in Esperanza, the town on the south coastline.

Morning coffee and breakfast in a little cafe in Isabel, the little town on the northern coastline.  All of the eating establishments had more outdoor seating than indoor.

Wouldn't you love to live on this street?!  Leading right down to the waterfront.  The streets were narrow, actually, all the roads were narrow, too!  We had a rented jeep, and I'm glad I didn't have the job of driving.  Most of the roads were somewhat paved, but full of potholes, speed bumps, and only about 1 1/2 lanes wide by our standards!  Some areas were not paved, and full of dips and bumps and puddles.  It was quite exciting!  Sometimes it was so bumpy that all we could do was laugh as we hung on for dear life!

And for the real reason for our trip--the wedding!
Here are proud parents, Dave and Ruth, (Bob's brother) and their wonderful daughter, Jessica Joy.
What a perfect name, it completely fits this young woman.

She married Josh right there on the sand.  We had never been to a beachfront wedding before, and we didn't know quite what to expect!  There were about 20 of us in all, with people from both families and a few friends that all made the trip.

Dave and Ruth have 3 daughters, definitely of Scandinavian descent!  Together with their spouses (or soon to be spouses for Kirstin and Jimmy!) they make a fine family.

Eventually, we all had to make our separate ways back home, to the real world again.  Lucky for us, we had 3 more days of fun with our visitors from Charlotte--

Ben, Brita, Ian and Jack stayed with us so we got caught up on the accomplishments and antics of these little grandsons.  Ian just turned 3, and is quite the little jabberbox.  When it's storytime, he is an active participant in the telling.  He slept on a regular mattress on the floor for the first time at our house.  Jack turns 1 in a few weeks, and is really a mover!  He has a "running crawl" that gets him wherever he wants to go, and wherever we don't want him to go!  He gets himself standing up whenever he has something to hang onto.  Brita and Ben let us have some quality time with the boys, while they slipped away for some fun for themselves!  Now we are looking at a trip to Charlotte in April, to visit them in the new house they are moving into!