Monday, April 30, 2012

Incentive to Quilt

It’s that time of the year … we went to the big box store this morning and started buying the giant bags to renew our mulch.
Loading and unloading was all we did before lunch.  And then it was 86 and very humid.  What a great incentive to stay inside and quilt!  I can always put down mulch in the morning tomorrow … or maybe the next day …

So, this is what I finished quilting and binding this afternoon:

The backing is the same as in the little "windows"
I’m calling it “Windows on the Serengeti”.  I’m liking it!  This one will go into the next box to Wrap-a-Smile - I'm hoping a little kid will like it, too.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Basket Failure

Some days you just can’t win.
I should have used this ...
There I was – happily making up a quilt block that was new to me – a nice, simple basket block from a quilt magazine.  I was humming along with the radio and cutting meticulously when it dawned on me that the basket part was only supposed to be cut from two different sized squares.  Why did I have lots and lots of pieces?  Because I had cut the background out of the lovely green fabric that was supposed to comprise the basket, of course!

No problem – I would just make the background the green and make the basket from the cream color – not too awfully weird.  Until the light colored triangle fell onto the floor and I didn’t notice and I sewed a green triangle into the basket part instead of the light.  Where is the bottom of the basket?
Ghost basket
I predict a little seam-ripping in my future.  Oh well, I did get these two pastel blocks made earlier this month to send off for the April lottery with my group, so all is not lost.  I’ll just be ahead for next year when I get my baskets finished!
Meanwhile, my orchid is still blooming – since I’ve become a basket case today, in a manner of speaking, I think I’ll go watch it grow for awhile …
There's one bloom hidden and two have come out since this picture - Yea!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Road Trip to Ocala, FL

I am a member of the on-line Sunshine Quilt Guild that makes quilts for children’s charities.  I have met several of the members in person when they traveled or stayed in Florida (one from Michigan and *V* was all the way from California!).  It is such a treat to meet people that you only chat with on-line.

Well, one of the members that is here from Michigan (we had met before) and I ran up to Ocala, FL yesterday to meet another member that lives there.  It was a pleasant drive up the interstate for about an hour or so and *B* and I caught up on our recent vacations and I even gleaned a few quilting tips (just a hint - she’s a great quilting resource for patterns and what’s on-line).

After we got to Ocala, what a good time we had.  It was like three clones, we had so much in common!  Quilts, quilts, quilts galore.  We met at one Ocala quilt shop, Peggy’s Heirlooms of Tomorrow, ate at Panera Bread, and continued on to another quilt shop, Tomorrow’s Treasures.
The Arbor inside Peggy's - Good Luck was to be found here!

Tomorrow's Treasures was a real Treasure!
*J* (that we were meeting for the first time) is charming and has a lot of energy and personality.  She was showing us around that day, going out to dinner with some other folks, then heading out to a quilting retreat the next day.  Whew!  I had to go take a nap just thinking about it – tee hee, hee.

In addition to her own and charity quilts, *J* makes sample quilts for classes and patterns sold at the first quilt shop and I was in awe of her work.  These are just a few of her projects on display there (there were plenty more):
J made this Shadow Box quilt

Another quilter started this and J put it together and finished it up

J made this gorgeous batiks table runner

I had taken along a picture of the 30s Reproductions that I had cut into 4 ½ inch squares this past weekend and was thinking of buying a few FQs to fill in the missing colors (like oranges, yellows, a touch of red or larger scale fabrics).  Between the two shops, I found just what I was looking for plus a nice fabric on sale for the backing:
The backing isn’t 30s but it will blend well and I’m betting that a little girl in Costa Rica or Guatemala won’t quibble about it!

And, of course, I made a few impulse purchases.  Hey!  It was a day of fun …
Couldn't resist this sign for my sewing room!
*B* gave us both small knitted gifts (the rat!).  In addition to quilting and sewing projects for sale at art fairs, she knits.  She’s a real over-achiever!  I wish I had been smart enough to get some photos of the show-and-tells.  *B* makes lots of different kinds of things, including table runners, to show and *J* had a Baltimore Album type quilt almost finished that was awesome.  When we were in the shops, *B* was looking at batiks to make a bedspread – I hope I didn’t drool over her cool greens and rust reds …

All-in-all, it was a wonderful day and now I’m inspired to get up into the sewing room and get some work done.  Gotta finish off those 30s.  More on that later, I hope.

PS  Blogger changed and I had to update my template – I had hoped for a slightly lighter background, but I’ll be working on the colors and how to use the new blogger over the next few days.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Today is Earth Day - a day to celebrate and promote environmental awareness around the world.  One huge rally that takes place annually is Earth Day on the National Mall.  This greenspace lies between the Nation’s Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial encompassing the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial.  The event includes concerts, speakers, renewable energy exhibit and other demonstrations.
Even if you are nowhere near Washington, DC, you can participate in the Earth Day on the Mall event on-line at

April is also National Lawn and Garden Month.  This is NOT my backyard:
It is the backyard of my dreams if I won the mega-lottery and could afford a team of gardeners – LOL.

My DH and I have been busy transplanting some bushes that have never thrived in the front of our house and placing them in better locations in the back.  We will never make it as landscapers because our backs and every joint in our bodies ache now!  And I won’t even mention the unusual bruises, scratches and bug-bites that magically appeared.  But our plant beds look better and will be even nicer after I get the mulch put down next week.

There is a good website sponsored by the National Gardening AssociationThey have lots of great articles, including one about edible landscaping.   Their project of the month for April is about making plant-based dyes.   I have always been fascinated by the possibilities, but have never tested the waters, so to speak (ok – that pun was intended).   They have a varied list of plant possibilities on this site for different color results.  Maybe someday I’ll get around to trying  the technique.

Meanwhile, I have been using my Go!baby to cut up all my small pieces of 30s reproduction fabrics into 4 ½” squares.
I’ve also purchased the Star cutting die so I can make appliqués but I haven’t started on them yet.  I’m keeping my eye out for Go! dies at clearance prices so I can gain further control of my scraps.   I’m having good luck with a scrap savers system that an on-line friend suggested but it’s taking me awhile since I tend to play with my fabric while I try to sort it!  And don’t tell me you don’t do that, too …
Drawer Before - no sense of order

Drawer After - More uniform for selecting for scrap quilts

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I know I’m a little late to be posting about Friday the 13th, but it was such a great day that I couldn’t resist and was busy working in the yard today until now.  And no, I do not have either friggatriskaidekaphobia (a phobia of Friday the 13th) or the more familiar noun triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13).  Good thing since this year has three Fridays that fall on the 13th.  One was back in January and one will be in July.  Did you know that they all are 13 weeks apart?  How strange!

So why did I have such a great day?  I went to my monthly Quilts of Valor group meeting and we accomplished a lot … I’ll be writing more about that in another post.  There were several exciting finished quilts that were stunning.  Here’s a sneak preview:
And I was on such a roll that I finished up a child-sized top for Wrap-a-Smile using the blocks I had won from that group’s monthly lotto.  I won the February blocks, so of course, the color scheme for the month was reds.  These went together so nicely and I had the blue sashing on hand so it was a pleasure to work with.  I will quilt it up and bind it with the same blue as the sashing.
And what else made the day great?  Well, I had made brownies to take to the QOV meeting and I had bought a box of Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins to take also.  I only ate one brownie and two Munchkins.  Now that’s an accomplishment!
PS  They were very good …

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting Back in Form

When you come back from vacation do you jump back into your regular routine or do you ease back into it gradually?

I am a gradual person myself:
ü        First, I have to get the seven loads of laundry done (we weren’t gone all that long!).
ü        And I have to pet the dog who is ecstatic that her entire dog-pack has returned home (she considers herself a doggie/person). 
ü        While that’s being done,  I have to go through all of the mail and newspapers (yes, I do save the comics pages in order so I don’t lose out on the funny story lines).
ü        And pet the dog a few times and tell her she’s still the best and prettiest dog on the planet.
ü        Then I have to make a grocery list so I can buy healthy foods and repent of my wicked ways when we were on vacation (well, the food was great!).
ü        And, of course, I have to pet the dog some more who is hovering to make sure we don’t sneak out the back door of the bathroom (our bathroom doesn’t have a back door).

And finally, I have to get back up into my sewing room.  I have a few deadlines, so I made this sample block for a block swap at Mailblocks that is due in mid-May – hope to whip those out this week – they’re going to Canada and I like to allow extra time.  This pattern is from the Quilter’s Cache.
If you go to this site often, I would encourage you to support Marcia Hohn with a small donation as I consider this an invaluable source for block designs.  I usually make 12 ½ inch blocks and I almost passed out when I went to square-up this sample block.  It was so small!
Then I remembered that it is designed to be a 10 ½ inch block and it’s just perfect.  Sometimes we just have to be re-trained when we come back from vacation – LOL.  This is one finished layout idea:
And I have this month’s Quilts of Valor group meeting this Friday, so I’m finishing up some more triangles for the pinwheel blocks.
And I checked out this month’s BOM at the Craftsy site.  The featured technique is English paper-piecing hexagons.  Yikes!  Gonna put that on hold until this weekend, but then I’m going to make some cardstock templates and tackle it.  I’m starting with cardstock and not investing in templates ‘cause I don’t know if I’ll keep up with the handwork – not my strong suit.  We’ll see what develops.  Maybe I'll invest in the AccuQuilt Hexagon Template if I like them:
We did have a fantastic time on vacation.  I haven’t been north in the Spring in years and was delighted to see the dogwoods peeking out everywhere and the many flowering fruit trees.  The weather was wonderful – pleasant during the day when we played golf and cool and crisp in the mornings and evenings when we sat on the balconies.  Can’t complain about the weather here at home though – it’s still nice and not overly hot, so there’s no excuse to not start back on that walking plan!  Maybe tomorrow – like I said, I’m a gradual person …

Here’s some vacation shots:
Dogwoods at a Welcome Center

Pink and White Dogwoods

Dogwood Closeup

Beautiful Purple/Blue Blooms - Chaste Tree Maybe?

Don't know what this was!

Fog on the Mountain our last day

Cherry Blossoms
Altogether, I could say a good time was had by all (and I include the dog in that – she does love her dog-sitter).  And as an aside, my husband wants you all to know that he had at least one birdie on all three golf courses … and that’s special!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Visit Washington, DC

US Capitol Building
If you have never visited our nation’s capital city, I would strongly suggest that you do so.  Washington, DC is absolutely one of the most beautiful cities in the world – from the monuments to the memorials – from the greenspaces to the museums - and from the art galleries to the various seats of government.
Smithsonian Museum Castle

Inside the Air and Space Museum

Inside the Library of Congress
But one of the absolute best times to visit is during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The Festival this year began March 20th and will continue until April 27th.   And this year’s celebration is extra special because it is the 100th Anniversary of the bestowing of the first cherry trees by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo who presented a gift of 3,000 trees to the city of Washington in honor of the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan.
Tidal Basin with the Wahington Monument
The original gift trees were planted at the Tidal Basin and almost 100 of them still survive today, very much exceeding their original life expectancy.  They have been babied by the National Park Service and treated with such care that they still blossom annually.

The Japanese government gave First Lady Lady Bird Johnson an additional 3,800 trees in 1965 and they were planted around the Tidal Basin also.  Each year, the National Park Service predicts the peak bloom period so check it out for next year (it was to be March 20-23 in 2012).  The cherry trees usually continue to bloom into April throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.  If ever you are able to, pay a visit to Washington, DC - you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is It April 1st Already?

Do you ever trust what you read on Wikipedia immediately?  Me neither – that’s why I looked in several places to find out what in the world may have started the tradition of April Fool’s Day.  Several sites agreed that it may have begun way back in 1582 in France.  The problems started when the Gregorian Calendar was mandated by Charles IX.  The New Year was changed from its previous celebration that lasted multiple days (from March 25th to April 1st) to January 1st.

Well, you have to remember that news traveled much slower back then and didn’t reach many people for several years.  Others, set in their ways, just plain refused to change and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1st.  The general populace then labeled these people “fools”, ridiculed them and made them the butt of jokes.  Thus began a tradition of practical jokes and pranks and the tradition spread.

So for your April Fool’s Day pleasure, here are a few of my favorite Ant jokes for kids:

  1. Where do ants go for their holidays?
  1. Frants!

  1. What do you call an ant who skips school?
  1. A truant!

  1. What do you get if you cross some ants with some tics?
A.   All sorts of antics!

Had enough?  Me too … enjoy your April 1st!

And keeping with the Ant theme, this is my favorite Bug Quilt.  I made it back in 2008 and I know that a child having surgery in Venezuela received it – and that’s no joke!