Wednesday, June 17, 2009

100th Post Giveaway

One of the blogs I follow is having a 100th post giveaway. It's a great prize of 14 FQs, 2 templates, electric scissors, a picture frame, rick-rack, and metalic gold ribbon. Visit her blog to learn more:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

I live in a small farming community and our crops are delayed this season because of the extended cold and wet weather we experienced this year. But in the last few weeks the field activity has increased and we now have several stands scattered throughout the area filled with freshly picked strawberries.

If you’ve ever tasted food freshly picked from your garden then you can understand my enthusiasm. My husband lives for this time of the year. One of his favorites is fresh strawberry shortcake. He believes strawberry shortcake was created for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve tried to explain to him nutrition, but he states strawberry shortcake contains all of the necessary nutrients for his existence: dairy and fruit. It’s hard to argue with his logic since it does contain eggs, cream, butter, and fresh strawberries. But this is a man who lives for the holidays when his mother makes him egg nog pie and I bake him pumpkin pie.

Have you ever watched the Cosby Show starring Bill Cosby? Cliff Huxtable has a weakness for subway sandwiches and greasy chips washed down with soda drank from a 2-liter bottle. The sandwich mimics something you’d see Dagwood from the Blondie comic strip eat. But as he prepares to eat this subway sandwich, which is forbidden by his wife Claire Huxtable, pure enjoyment is displayed in his facial expression. That is my husband eating strawberry shortcake, egg nog pie, and pumpkin pie.

How can I keep him from such pure pleasure? It would be like him trying to keep me from fabric.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brand New Day!

Don't you just love the start of a new day? I do! It is God's way of giving us the opportunity to start anew. Leave our 'baggage' behind and take a new path with a fresh perspective on life. I like the analogy of comparing a brand new day with freshly fallen snow.

The snow lands delicately onto the ground covering everything in its path. Not a blemish in sight. If you take a deep breath, the air is cool as it fills your lungs and everything smells cleans. And only after you have taken a step as you build a new path does a definitive direction appear. Of course, as you change directions the whiteness of the snow begins to change color and you begin to see the hidden ground, or the results of your path underneath each step. You can always change direction as you’re walking, but the path you left behind will always remain… until the overnight snowfall covers it up so a new path can be formed.

So, today is my Brand New Day where I have awakened to admire the freshly fallen snow and have chosen a new path, leaving yesterday’s path behind. Sometimes, I may have to close my eyes as I take a couple of deep breaths before putting one foot in front of the other, but I know I will have the power to face the day with renewed energy and courage, regardless of my path from yesterday.

With this, I am going to work in my sewing room today. Initially, I plan to work on piecing the backing of my musical angels quilt. But if by chance I work on one of my other sewing or quilting projects, I know I will approach the change with a positive, enthusiastic approach.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No Time For Sewing

This week has been busy and it looks as though I will be even busier as I move into the next couple of weeks.

This week has been doctor appointments and doing things for a friend. Next week I'm toddler proofing my house as three of my grandchildren are coming for a visit. One of them is my 2 year old granddaughter. I also have several family obligations the next two weeks because my sister-in-law and her family will be visiting from Utah. The following week I have a wedding to attend, with three grand kids. So I've been busy cleaning house and synchronizing the family schedule all week. I just don't have the energy.

What do you do when you hit a rut like this? Do you have a trick that energizes you and gets you in the mood?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

White vs Bright Pink Icing

This weekend has not been as productive as I would have liked. I had wanted to sew all weekend. Maybe it was the hot temperatures we had last week. Or, maybe it was the overcast sky that began to roll in Friday evening. For whatever reason I just didn't have the energy to go into my sewing room and put thread to fabric. Instead, I spent yesterday at a three year old's birthday party.

Some very good friends of ours granddaughter celebrated her third birthday. Children are always so excited about birthdays. I think they begin the countdown to their next birthday the day after this year's birthday. The adults are always busy preparing for the party to make sure everything is perfect, but the guest of honor is interested in three things: Who's coming, how many presents, and what kind of cake and ice cream are we having. At the age of three, I believe their only concern is the cake, ice cream, and presents. Not necessarily in that order.

As I was getting dressed I made the decision to wear my brand new white pants and a raspberry knit top. My only defense is I must have been in a daze from the cloud cover outside. I wasn't thinking. Anyone who has spent any time with three year olds knows they do not get along with white. White anything.

We arrived at our friend's house and the guest of honor, Jasmine, and I spent time playing with the balloons. We talked about their colors while we tossed them in the air. When we weren't tossing the balloons, we were outside talking and/or playing. Everything was going great. We had a nice BBQ with great conversation. Jasmine opened her gifts while modeling her presents for Nana to take the pictures and I was keeping the gifts and wrapping paper separate and orderly. Then came the cake. Jasmine's cake had Tinker Bell on it with bright pink flowers on green icing. We all sang happy birthday to her and cheered her on as she blew out her three candles. I was helping Jasmine with her cake and ice cream...

About ten minutes after we were finished with the cake and ice cream I happened to look down at my new white pants and discovered I had bright pink icing on the left leg of my new white pants.

I have raised five children. I have nine grandchildren of my own. My oldest son is thirty-two next month and my oldest grandson is fourteen. So I have a lot of years of experience. I've given a lot of birthday parties. I was room mother every year as the kids were growing up. Sometimes in two classrooms at the same time. I knew better! This is not the first time I've had something spilled or smeared on me at the hands of a small child. I immediately when into damage control mode.

My friend brought me one of those laundry pens and a clean damp cloth. I began to squeeze and rub... squeeze and rub... bright pink icing smears... it begins to spread on white lycra jeans... I squeezed and rubbed some more... finally; I took the damp cloth and blotted before squeezing and rubbing again. When my friend and I saw it was only smearing she suggested using this cleaner she used on her countertops. She had used it to get the bright pink icing off her countertops and it worked great. I was saying I'll just go get some Rit Dye to change the color of my new white pants. But, I thought it couldn't hurt to try. I sprayed it on. No change. I shrugged my shoulders and went back outside to visit with everyone. As I said before, this isn't the first time I've had something stained...

After sitting outside for an hour or so and the pant leg continued to dry, the bright pink stain began to fade. I don't know if it was the laundry pen or the cleaning solution used on the countertops. It really doesn't matter because I will never buy white anything anymore. White and me don't get along.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer is Here!

Today I can finally say that summer has arrived in my little shaded garden as my peonies have begun to bloom. I love peonies. Their petals are so delicate, yet they create layers and layers of dimension and colors. Often times, it is raining when they bloom and I don't get to enjoy them. But this year, they are not predicting rain until early next week and then, it is only light sprinkles so it shouldn't ruin the beauty of my peonies.
I only have three that have opened, but I wanted to share them with you.

Because we live in an area known for rain, I find myself racing to see if my flowers will survive our weather. Sort of a game to see which will arrive first. My flowers or the rain? I must admit, this year is somewhat disappointing for me because I wasn't able to work in my gardens or plant a vegetable garden because of my broken ankle. So my gardens are not full of beautiful blooms.
I'm not a master at gardening. In fact, far from it. But I love to have freshly cut flowers around the house, which can be difficult since our property is mostly shade. I have a sister who is what I would call a Master Gardner. As long as I can remember, she has been knowledgeable of gardening. She knows most of their Latin names and all the tricks to get them to grow to their fullest. When I first moved up to our house I wanted to put in a couple of garden areas and solicited the assistance of my sister, brother-in-law, and my husband. My husband did a lot of prep work before the big day while I was at work.
My sister and brother-in-law arrived early that Saturday morning and we were outside working in my gardens in 20° temperature. The ground was solid as a ice as we planted all the bulbs and plants I had purchased. But we managed to get everything in within a couple of hours and that spring, we had some of the most beautiful displays of color. We had daffodils, crocus, and several varieties of tulips welcoming anyone who entered our property.
I can only hope I will be able to properly prepare my garden for next year's display.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Musical Angels Quilt - Border On!

It has been quite the process, but I finally have the border attached and the corners mitre'd on the musical angels quilt. I think having three borders of varying widths is a nice design feature to the quilt. Originally, I was thinking of starting narrow and gradually wider towards the binding but after auditioning the fabric, I decided I liked having the narrow border in the middle of the two wider ones.
Here are a couple of pictures of the quilt with the borders on. The first one is a close-up of the upper left corner and the second is of the whole quilt.

My next step is to build my quilt sandwich in preparation of machine quilting it. This process will take a little longer since I'm not quite sure what quilting design(s) I will use. I have a few ideas and will need to audition them before I make a final decision. Also, before I quilt on the quilt I will be doing some practice exercises with my new toy, which I would do anyways to select thread colors and designs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Musical Angels Quilt - Update

It has been a couple of days since my last posting. I've been a little busy enjoying the beautiful sunshine. We don't get a lot of sunshine, so I like to take advantage of it when I can. I've also been working on my granddaughter Brielle's quilt.
Sometimes preparation in quiltmaking can take longer than the actual sewing. In my case, it has been taking me even longer because I am not able to spend long periods of time standing. In December, we had over 31 inches of snowfall compared to our normal up to a foot of annual snowfall. When the snow began to first fall I was trying to get one of our dogs into the house before we left to go into town to run errands and he thought I was playing. Needless to say, I was paying more attention on the dog instead of where I was walking and slipped on black ice. I knew I was in trouble when I looked back at my left foot, still in my snow boot, but facing the wrong direction. To make a long story short, I broke my ankle. Ten screws, three pins, and a plate. My orthopedic surgeon told my husband my ankle literally exploded. Folks, do not try to do this at home. I've made a lot of progress in my recovery but my ankle still swells three to four times its normal size and it is incredibly tender. I walk around the house in my slippers but am still tied to my casting boot when I venture outside the house. Usually by the end of the day my ankle is throbbing and I can barely move around.
In any case, I've been working on the borders on Brielle's musical angels quilt for the past week. The quilt will have three borders and each print requires me to measure, starch, iron, and cut to size before I can sew. I like to use a sizing and it usually takes a couple of applications to get it to the correct stiffness before I can cut it. Due to my ankle swelling I've been having to do it in shifts of less than one hour. It's unbelievable how long it takes to prep the fabric before I can cut it. But I have managed to stitch the three border prints together and I've measured the length of the quilt sides and marked them so now all I have to do is sew the borders to the quilt top and mitre the corners.
I'm still undecided on how I will quilt it. Traditionally, most nine-patch squares are quilted with an X from point to point but I'm wanting to do something more elaborate. I've considered sending it out to be professionally quilted by one of my friends, but since it is for my granddaughter, I would really like to do the quilting myself. I've always been a handquilter but I have a new toy and I'm going to start learning how to machine quilt using my Fabric Mover with stitch regulator.
When I get to that point, I'll take pictures of my progress and post them to my blog so you can see how it works.