Monday, December 29, 2008

Under Construction

I hope everyone had a happy and enjoyable Holiday! As you can see Malibu loved playing in our tree this year. He was such a good kitty last year -- didn't even bother it once. Well he made up for it this year. He was sleeping under it, batting the lower ornaments, chewing on the branches and drinking the tree water (yuck!). Guess he made up for being a naive kitten last Christmas!

Now that the holidays are over I managed to find some time to finish up the last little house from a class I took with Megan in early December. The scrappy border uses 132 1-1/4 inch squares. I started cutting them tonight but this is definitely going to take a couple more nights of cutting and digging through fabric scraps.

As far as handmade Christmas gifts, I only managed to finish two quilts for my great-nephews who are 4 years old and 8 months. I used Hungry Alphabet panels that I had purchased a few years ago with no immediate need or use. Since I am on a mission to reduce my stash and make more giveaway quilts, I thought these would be the perfect gift for the boys. I also made pillowcases to match out of the remaining fabric (far be it from me to only buy what I need). I used the pillowcases to wrap the quilts.

Happy Stitchin'

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bitten by the Knitting Bug

Okay I have to admit it I have been bitten by the knitting bug. Years ago when my youngest DH was a baby I took on the challenge of knitting a baby sweater. I don't know what I was thinking as I had never knitted before attempting the baby sweater. Needless to say, it remains unfinished as I dropped stitches somewhere along the way and gave up. A couple years ago I tried again. This time I stuck with the basic knitted scarves which were so popular. The eyelash yarns and furry yarns were great. Not easy to work with and there were several scarves that were ripped out and started again when I dropped a stitch and couldn't find it in the eyelash yarn. When the cold weather came this year, I got the urge to once again try to learn to knit. Not quite ready for a sweater . . . how about a shawl? So while visiting my favorite LQS which isn't really that local, I stopped into the knit shop next door. Actually I was looking for a pair of bamboo handles for Caryn. However they did not have them. Since I was already in the store, I decided to look around and admire the beautiful sweaters wishing I knew how to knit. I stumbled onto a shawl that used the stockinette stitch -- thinking I could do that -- I know how to knit and I know how to purl. How hard could it be? But wait there is a buttonhole in the shawl . . . not sure I can do this. The shopowner assured me it was an easy pattern and the instructions explained the buttonhole step by step. Okay, SOLD!

Last night I finally kniited enough rows and had to put in the buttonhole. It took a bit of reading and re-reading of the directions. I had to pull out my only knitting book for clarification but in the end I managed to complete the buttonhole without dropping any stitches!

Happy Stitchin!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Polka Dot & Rick Rack Swap

A few months ago I joined the Polka Dot and Rick Rack Swap hosted by Sharon. I sent my package off to the Netherlands and in return I received one from Lorraine in Australia. I was thrilled to receive all of the goodies which were mostly handmade. I cannot express my thanks enough to my swap partner for all of her gifts.

It was like an early Christmas at Thanksgiving. Thank you Lorraine!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Miranda is calling . . . .

Okay so I have absolutely no business thinking about what fabrics I will use for my mini Miranda. So needless to say I shouldn't be setting up the rotary mat and ironing board . . . Thanksgiving is only two days away and there is still plenty of cleaning to be done and pies to bake. I'll just cut them and then put them away until after turkey day . . . . promise . . .

Good thing I don't have enough light/medium plaids to make the little quilt Kathie recently posted. After seeing Caryn's version, I had myself convinced there was more than enough time to cut and piece one of my own between the cleaning and baking. Of course I don't have to use plaids. Kathie's original version is just as nice as the plaids. Hmmm I think there is still time to pull something from my stash and have it pieced before the bird is on the table.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yesterday's Mail

Don't you just love getting a new pattern or fabric in the mail? Yesterday's mail contained the newest Lazy Girl Pattern, the Mini Miranda.

But it will have to wait until I finish my little stars . . . the next class is tomorrow night.

Happy Stitchin!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time Flies When . . . .

Hello fellow bloggers! It seems the days slipped away from me again. I have good intentions almost daily of posting something. I formulate blog posts in my head on the way to and from work but somehow they never quite seem to make it out of my head and into the computer for posting in blogland.

The sew away weekend with the Posse was great except a few of us (mainly Caryn and me) caught some type of head cold / sinus / coughy thing that has yet to release its hold on either of us. Fortunately I think the worst is behind us and we are well on the road to recovery. I had visions of finishing numerous UFOs during the course of the sew-away. Unfortunately I didn't happen. I did manage to piece a baby quilt for charity (still needs to be quilted) and I started a rag quilt that I purchased a few years ago when rag quilts were all the rage. They were never my favorite type of quilt and still aren't. However I do recognize that there is a place for them in the quilting world -- just not my little corner of it :) I will post a picture as soon as it is complete or maybe sooner as I still need to clip the seams and then wash it, etc.

I have been working on a few things for my swap partner which need to be finished and sent by November 15th. I will post pictures once she receives them -- don't want to ruin the surprise! I am still drawn to handwork rather than sewing at my machine. Perhaps once the holidays are over and we are in the heart of winter I will be more inclined to sit at the machine. My latest projects include the Halloween redwork (although I am tempted to put that aside since Halloween is close to a year away). I have also taken to knitting those addicting little dishcloths. I have always wanted to knit a sweater for myself but am intimidated by a project of that nature so I decided to work on my knit stitches and gauge by making dishcloths. Most of the ones I have made are just the basic knit / purl stitch. However I recently completed one following a pattern and just found another pattern that requires increasing and decreasing (something I haven't done before).

Happy Stitching!

Those Who Served - Veteran's Day

Today I would like to take a moment and ask everyone to remember the Veterans who gave the greatest sacrifice of all -- their life -- for us and our country. God Bless America -- Land of the Free and Home of the Brave!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snow in October ???

The good news is I am feeling much better after spending the better part of last weekend either in bed or on the couch. The bad news is that I did not get too much of anything accomplished last weekend sewing related or otherwise which really stinks as it was a rainy weekend and perfect weather for sewing and/or cleaning.

On Tuesday we had a bit of a surprise here in the Northeast -- our first snowstorm of the season! I think somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature it was October. I remember having snow on Thanksgiving which is rare -- but before Halloween is just plain crazy. We had about 5 inches before it turned back to rain/sleet. However in areas not that far from me there were reports of 11 inches. Needless to say, there were fallen trees, closed roads and loss of power for many residents. We lost our power for more than 24 hours. There are still people in our town without power -- they even setup a shelter at the local high school. If this is any indication of the winter ahead, I am packing my bags and moving south until Spring returns.

I won't be blogging for the next few days as the Posse is going on a sewing retreat for the weekend. We are meeting for breakfast tomorrow morning, then it is off to do a bit of shopping before checking into the resort for the weekend. I am looking forward to spending the weekend with my quilting buddies -- just sewing, chatting, sharing a bottle of wine or two. No one asking what we are having for dinner, when dinner will be ready and whether or not there will be dessert. Yup, I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend with friends. And Mother Nature is forecast to be back in her Autumn mode -- sunny, crisp fall days with temps in the 50's & 60's.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Musings and a New Book

Okay so it wasn't the beginning of the month for the past week and a half -- so much for my theory that I would blog more often during mid-month. This week should have been a quiet week at work -- however, my boss, who is not based in the same office (or country for that matter) as me, was in for a few days. Suffice it to say it was a rather intense week and I am now paying for it as I left work early today as I am not feeling well. What is even more disappointing is that even after taking some medicine and sleeping for the better part of the afternoon, I am still not feeling well. Not to mention that there is absolutely nothing on daytime television worth watching!

Fortunately for me the postman brought a package today so at least I have a new book to browse. Upon first review it looks like a good reference book to have if you are interested in creating photo quilts or anything that incorporates fabrics and photos.

I have made two photo quilts --- both of which were wedding gifts and incorporated various photos from the happy couples' lives both before and after they met. Unfortunately with the crash of my hard drive earlier this year I lost the photos of the second quilt so I cannot post any of them. However I will have to dig through my photo CDs and find the pictures from the first quilt. On my never-ending list of projects is a photo quilt incorporating the lighthouse photos I have taken during my travels.

I did manage to remember that Oprah was on this afternoon. Her guests today included Jeff Bezos, founder. They were promoting the new Kindle which is an electronic book created by Jeff Bezos. I am jealous as they gave one to everyone in the studio audience. It is not cheap but it does look like a very cool gadget. Techie gadgets are my other downfall besides quilting. In fact, my oldest DS has the same tendencies with techie toys and we decided long ago that it is VERY dangerous for the two of us to be in a store like Best Buy or Circuit City together. Inevitably we are walking out with something that we can't possibly live without and usually don't need. I don't dare mention this new gadget to him since Borders and Barnes & Noble are other stores that we spend lots of time and lots of $$$ in when we are together. Can you imagine the trouble we would get into with an electronic book device???? If it wasn't so expensive and if DH and I had already decided we were not spending lots of money for Christmas this year, I would add it to my Christmas list. I am sure, as with every new technological gadget, the price will come down and the product will improve. I think I can live without the Kindle for now.

Happy Stitchin!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Few Pleasant Surprises and A Bit of Housekeeping

My oldest DS and his friends went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today and I got a souvenir -- the 2009 Calendar of American Quilts.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had taken a class by Megan. Here is my finished tote bag. It is a great size to carry a book or handwork.

A co-worker of mine also took the class. Yesterday she showed me one of the latest versions -- the combination of fabrics she chose were fantastic. The world has another obsessed quilter -- she has made at least 6 of the Chloe bags I taught in August and she has made at least 4 or 5 of Megan's tote. It gives me a great feeling to know that I have helped a friend improve her skills and develop a passion about quilting.

As promised in my last post, here is a photo of the tote bag book I picked up in Pennsylvania last week. It is written by an Australian author which I did not realize at the time I purchased it. I was too busy oodling over the great tote bags and purses. There are several I would love to try in the very near future.

And just for fun a picture of my kitty, Malibu Blue . . .

As I write this post I realize that my last post was a milestone -- my 50th post. When I started my blog earlier this year, I had no idea where it would take me or the friends it would bring me. It has been a great journey so far and I hope the next 50 posts are just as wonderful.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Crazy Life

As a teenager I had a steady babysitting job during the week after school. I watched two preschoolers during the afternoon for the two hours between the time their mother had to leave for work and their father came home from work. I remember thinking that Patti had such a busy, exciting life always running from here to there compared to my mother who was a stay-at-home mom and rarely went anywhere outside of the weekly food shopping. Hmm what I would not give for some of that quiet, boring life that my mother seemed to lead. I keep trying to figure out how to get some control and sanity back into my life particularly during the first 10 days of the month when I am at my absolute busiest at work. My latest thinking is I just need to accept that fact that work will over take my life for the 3 or 4 business days of the month and there is not much I can do about it since there are deadlines and deliverables that are not going to change just because I want some work/life balance. The next 6 or 7 days are full of deliverables as well but the deadlines are a bit longer so there is a little bit of breathing space. So, you are wondering, what does this have to do with quilting, blogging, etc.? Not much except that I probably won't post during those first 7 to 10 days of each month. Not because I don't want to -- believe me there a posts swirling inside my head that just can't get out. There just isn't enough time in the day to post or even think about writing a post during those first few days. So if I disappear for a few days or more and it is the beginning of a new month, you will know why.

In addition to the month-end craziness, I will be traveling for work during the next few months. This morning I am in Pennsylvania on business. Fortunately I was able to drive out yesterday afternoon so there is no flying in and out within 24 hours AND I have enough gas to make it back to NJ before needing to fill the tank! Another plus to this trip is there are two quilt shops within a short distance of my location. One of them I went to yesterday afternoon. The other one I am hoping to visit on my way home this afternoon. Although I don't have pictures to share with you of my purchases, I can tell you there was a purse/tote bag book calling to me. Obviously I couldn't leave it at the shop, it had to come home with me. I promise to share more in my next post.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

A recipe to share

It was another rainy day here in the Northeast. Some members of the Posse went to a local quilt show but I did not tag along as I needed to get a few things done around the house. The morning was quite productive -- food shopping, some housecleaning and a bit of laundry. The afternoon was devoted to quilting :) However, it was not so productive as my machine was not very cooperative. I was attempting to free motion a Project Linus quilt but the stitch regulator on my Bernina did not want to work today -- I kept getting long, jerky stitches. I tried changing the needle and even the thread but with no luck. I think it is time to go to the shop for a cleaning . . .

For dinner I decided to try a recipe given to me by a friend. It was well-received by the members of my family. They all said they would eat it if I made it again. Over the years I have learned to ask not only if they like the dish but whether they would eat it if I made it again.

Tangy Pork Chop Stuffing Bake

6 bone-in pork chops
1 pkg (6 oz) of Stove Top stuffing for pork
1 can (16 oz) of whole cranberry sauce
3/4 cup of Kraft Original BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stuffing as directed on box. Brown chops for 5 minutes on each side. Place chops in 9x13 baking pan. Mix cranberry sauce, BBQ sauce and brown sugar together. Gently mix in stuffing. Spoon over chops. Bake for 30 minutes or until chops are done.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Jersey Girl . . .

It's been a busy week for me -- on Wednesday I had to fly in and out of Chicago in the same day. I was on the 6:00 a.m. flight out of Newark which meant a 4:00 a.m. limo pickup!!!! I was schedule to fly back on the 6:20 p.m. flight out of O'Hare. Unfortunately, we were delayed two hours due to severe storms which made an already long day even longer --- the return limo dropped me off at 12:37 a.m. the next day! One of the highlights of my trip was driving on a portion of historic Route 66. The other comical event was having to fill the rental car with gas before returning it to Enterprise. You have to understand that I have never pumped gas. In NJ, it is illegal for anyone except the gas attendant to pump gas. It's not that I haven't even driven in states that have self-service stations. It's just DH has always been there to fill the tank. Thankfully there are instructions and pictures to help dummies like me figure out how to pump gas! Guess I truly am a Jersey Girl . . .

Before heading out to Chicago, I took a tote bag class with Megan on Tuesday night. What I was thinking sitting in quilt class rather then being at home sleeping is beyond me. It was a great class and I managed to finish my tote on Thursday night (after taking a nap in the afternoon). Besides, in the words of my co-worker who attended the class with me "sleep is overrated". I promise to post a picture as soon as I take one!

Today, the ladies gathered at the firehouse for our sewing day. We had a good group -- many of the usual participants and some new faces. I had not been to a gathering in several months so it was good to see everyone and to see what projects they have been working on the past few months. I am still working on my 30's Irish Chain quilt (see previous post for pictures). I am determined to finish that quilt by the end of the decade :)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend! I hope you find some time to quilt!

Update to this post: The NFL officially confirmed that "The Boss" will play during the Super Bowl halftime show on February 1, 2009. It is great to be a Jersey Girl!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Unfinished Projects

I have decided the problem with old UFO's is that by the time you get back to them --- if you ever get back to them -- is the fabrics are no longer available. This isn't an issue if you purchased enough fabric for potential errors. The combination of an inexperienced quilter and wrong cutting directions can be hazardous to your quilt project. This quilt is probably my oldest UFO -- I can't remember exactly when I started this quilt. But last weekend I pulled it out of the pile and decided to put the blocks into rows. I love the look of blocks set on point but am not so good at putting together quilts with blocks set on point. Even after years of quilting I still shy away from on-point quilt patterns. What I was thinking as a new quilter several years ago when I started this project is beyond me. Obviously I wasn't thinking about the difficulty level!

The pattern calls for two borders -- one is made of small snowball blocks and the other is just a regular border. The fabric used for the corners of the snowball blocks had been cut by me at an earlier date. All I had left to do was cut the squares and piece the blocks -- simple enough. Not exactly, the instructions said to cut 4 1/2" squares for the inside of the snowball block and to cut 3 3/4" squares in half diagonally for the corners of the blocks. I had previously cut the 3 3/4" squares when this was a new and exciting project. Unfortunately I was a new quilter and had no idea that if you cut 3 3/4" squares in half diagonally there is no way they are going to fit on the sides of a 4 1/2" square. Since I don't have enough of the red fabric left to re-cut the 3 3/4" squares to the correct size, I have decided to put a three inch border around the quilt so that the pinwheel blocks "float" in the quilt. I will then add the 6 1/2" red border.

So does anyone need 64 red 3 3/4" squares cut in half diagonally?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Aunt Millie's Garden

This afternoon a few of us are gathering at Megan's to work on our Aunt Millie's blocks based on the Piece o' Cake pattern, Aunt Millie's Garden. Cousin Caryn is joining us too -- she is working on the Stars in the Garden blocks which was a BOM at our LQS. Actually this quilt shop isn't exactly local since it is about an hour's drive from my house. I also joined this BOM but haven't started any of the blocks. Thus it is not an UFO and I clearly start Aunt Millie's Garden instead.

I decided to use brights for the flowers, leaves and stems. However, I have yet to decide on the background fabrics. Initially I thought I would use a black and white dot. I then thought about a white on white print. However I never got to the LQS to look for backgrounds -- so I am thinking the Kona White or the Kona Snow that is sitting in my stash may work just fine for today's gathering and with a little luck I will get to a quilt shop soon.

Here is a sampling of my fabrics -- hmmm maybe a few yellows should be added to the bunch.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer Handwork

I thought I would share with you my summer handwork projects which are still works in progress. The Halloween Redwork pattern has 9 designs. I had originally intended to stitch all 9 designs and create a Halloween quilt. I have been rethinking that decision recently -- mainly because there are other handwork projects I want to do. My latest thinking is that I will stitch up four of these blocks and make a wallhanging. Since I have already traced 6 designs onto fabric, I think I will make either pillows or small wall quilt with the remaining designs.

I don't know which Halloween they will actually be completed, but the good thing about holidays is that they come around every year so eventually they will decorate my house.

A little work, a little play

Hurricane Hanna came to visit the Northeast on Saturday bringing the opportunity to spend the day quilting or cleaning the house. As a child we were not allowed to play with our friends until all of our chores were done on Saturday. Although I moved out of my childhood home over 20 years ago, those values my parents instilled are still with me. On Saturday morning, my sewing machine was calling my name but so was the dust covering my coffee table. My mother's voice was in my head "you can't play with your friends until your chores are done". So I compromised -- I spent the morning cleaning the house and then spent the afternoon sewing. I also finished up some work that needed to be completed for the committee I am chairing in our local guild. Once those were behind me, I picked up this UFO from last fall.

There is a story behind this little tote involving myself and the posse. Caryn found the fabrics at the LQS near her work. During one of the Saturday Sew Days at the firehouse last year, the four of us started this little tote. Due to the misreading of the instructions regarding the use of a strip for the bottom of the purse, the striped fabric was cut incorrectly. So three of the totes have the strip horizontal on the bag. Mine is vertical because I happen to find the same fabric online while looking for other striped fabrics for another project. I have had this fabric for months and kept looking at the bag thinking "I should finish this little tote -- but Fall is several months away so no need to finish it now." Since Fall is almost upon us I thought it was the perfect project for this past weekend. I like this tote very much and already have fabric to make it in another colorway or two.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Unofficial End of Summer . . . .

Fairport Harbor, Ohio

Labor Day has come and gone along with our annual trek west to visit my cousin in Northeast Ohio. We have been getting together with my cousin and his wife on Labor Day weekend for well over 10 years. It has been so long that none of us could remember how or exactly when we started. Not that it matters since we always have a great time when we are together. This year the new addition to my cousins' finished basement was the Nintendo Wii. After dinner each night we would begin our bowling tournament which usually lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Amazingly we got better as the night wore on -- wonder if it had anything to do with the consumption of alcohol?

The local schools started again this week bringing increased traffic to the roads in our town and the highways I travel to work each day. It took me over 10 minutes to get to the gym this morning -- a trip that was taking less than 5 minutes just last week.

The end of summer brings the start of football season. Football is my favorite sport. On Sunday afternoons you will find me in front of the TV with some sort of needlework in hand. My favorite team is the Miami Dolphins who I have followed since I was in grammar school in the early '70s. While I enjoy watching the pros and even some college ball, I have to admit what I miss the most is watching my youngest DS play. He started at the flag football level and continued through his high school years. From August to November our lives and schedules revolved around his practices and games.

Although I am sad to see the summer end (actually the Jersey shore is wonderful in September but don't tell anyone), I am looking forward to sewing and maybe actually finishing one or two of the projects I started earlier this year -- like the CW Diary blocks. The ladies will be gathering at the firehouse later this month and so far two of my local quilting buddies have said they would like to come sew with us.

Maybe the fall isn't so bad after all . . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fall Purse Giveaway

If anyone loves tote bags and purses as much as I do, be sure to check out Bonnie's giveaway at Calamity Jane's Cottage. Don't forget to mention you found the giveaway on my blog.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can't seem to get out of the kitchen today . . .

Ever have one of those days when it seems you spend most of it in the kitchen? I love to bake but dislike to cook. This morning DH wanted buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. This is actually my fault as it used to be that DH made breakfast on Sundays. However several months ago I got the hair-brain idea to make buttermilk pancakes from scratch using Alton Brown's recipe (Good Eats on The Food Network). So I made pancakes for DH. I noticed there were a couple bananas left from the bunch I purchased earlier in the week. The only thing they were good for was banana bread. However my recipe calls for 5 to 6 bananas (it makes 4 loaves) and since I only had 3 bananas . . . I remembered a recipe I found in a recent issue of a magazine for Banana Crumb Cake. Since it only called for one cup of mashed bananas, I knew I found my recipe! Luckily I had the ingredients needed on hand. About 30 minutes later, the banana crumb cake was baking in the oven.
I then remembered that my oldest DS wanted macaroni salad with dinner tonight. So after cleaning up the breakfast dishes and the bowls, etc. from the crumb cake, I began making the macaroni salad -- it is rare that either of my sons eat dinner with us so when they make an appearance I usually try to accommodate their requests. Silly me .... about a hour before dinner my oldest DS comes downstairs and asks if I would make the seasoned potatoes with dinner -- what about the macaroni salad, I ask. Oh he wants both -- so back into the kitchen to make the potatoes while DH grills the steaks. Then of course there is the clean-up after dinner.

Oh well at least I was able to spend an hour sitting on the deck with a bit of handwork!

Below is the recipe for the banana nut crumb cake.

Crumb Topping:
2 cups flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 cup mashed banana (2 large)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
confectioner's sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9x2 pan with non stick aluminum foil -- the ends will hang over the edge of the pan.

Crumb topping; mix flour and brown sugar in bowl. cut in butter with two knives until mixture forms coarse crumbs. mix in nuts.

Cake: mix bananas, oil, sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon and salt with whisk until combined. Stir in flour and baking soda until blended. Spread evenly in lined pan and crumble topping on top.

Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Lift foil by ends onto cutting board. cut into squares, sprinkle with Confectioner's sugar.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quilts, museums and London, England

As soon as I read about this book on Kathie's blog, I knew I had to find a copy. During my whirlwind two day tour of London several years ago while on a business trip I was unable to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum. However, one of my closest friends is celebrating a milestone birthday next year and her husband is sending her to England. Guess who is going with her? The Victoria and Albert Museum is high on my list of places to visit along with Westminster Abbey which was closed for Sunday services when we were there. As we plan our trip for next year, I plan to include some of the English countryside and hopefully a quilt shop or two although I know the fabric is far more expensive across the pond.

Catching up . . .

I started this piece at the beginning of the summer. It is a good feeling to know that I was able to finish the stitching and piece the setting triangles and border before summer's end. My hope is that I will be able to quilt and bind it prior to the first guild meeting next month. It would be a good show and tell of what I accomplished this summer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't been quilting that much over the summer. I am enjoying my handwork projects and sitting in the backyard enjoying the nice weather. Before long, we will be dealing with the Northeast winters.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Sewing Machine Day

Did you know on this day in 1851 Isaac M. Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine? By 1860 Singer had become the largest manufacturer of sewing machines and by 1863 he held 20 patents for his machines.

I hope each of you are able to spend time with your machines today whether they are Singers, Berninas or Pfaffs -- that is my plan as soon as I get home from work!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, August 11, 2008

If you can't beat them . . . .

Everyone seems to be working on tumbler quilts these days (Kathi / Megan). So it seem only fitting that I dig out my thimble template that I purchased at the Lancaster, PA show this past March and start cutting up my scraps. Well I don't have that big of scrap basket as I usually pass them along to a friend who loves scrap quilts. Fortunately for me I haven't seen her in quite some time so I had a scrap bag to pick from for my thimbles. I also have been putting aside small pieces of my civil war reproductions in the anticipation of one day cutting thimbles to make a doll quilt.

I spent an hour tonight cutting usable scraps from my scrap bag and the small pieces of civil war reproductions into thimbles. I have a nice little pile started for both quilts considering I only spent one hour cutting.

I have to admit the thimble is small and it takes time to get used to cutting around such a small template. I used a small rotary cutter which was very helpful. I am considering putting a dot of sandpaper on it so it won't slide around. However I don't want to lose the ability to see through the template in case I want to align a motif in the center. Maybe I will get better with practice. I also think it would be easier to cut the template from a strip of fabric rather than 2 or 3 inch scraps.

Of course it might have been easier to start with my 3" tumbler and ease into tumbler quilts . . .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Old Sturbridge Village

On our way home from Maine last week, we stopped at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA. If you are ever in the area, it is a great place to spend the afternoon. There are buildings which date back to the 1800's as well as demonstrations of life during that time period. There were a few quilts and embroidery samplers on display. One of the items that caught my attention was this sewing table. It has a drawer where you could store your sewing tools and then a second drawer with a cloth bag attached which was a storage area for your sewing. I thought it was a very neat idea.
I told DH that I was going to write Norm at the New Yankee Workshop and suggest he recreate this sewing table. This way DH would be able to purchase the plans and make one for me. He didn't buy it --- oh well I tried. Maybe I can convince my brother to make one for me . . . . .
On our way out of the village DH suggested we wander through the gift shop. I think DH regretted his suggestion as soon as we entered --- there were numerous bolts of fabric of what else but the reproduction line "Old Sturbridge Village". Since I have been neglecting my Civil War Diary blocks and I probably have enough civil war reproductions to make numerous civil war quilts, I resisted the temptation to purchase any fabrics. Besides, I had a number of them in my stash already -- but don't tell DH.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back from Vacation

I was fortunate enough to spend the past two weeks on vacation. DH and I packed up the car and headed north to Cape Cod for a few days and then even further north to Maine. This was our first trip to Cape Cod and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. During the 5 days we spent on the Cape, we had 4 1/2 days of clouds and rain. The sun finally came out the afternoon of our last day and of course it was out in full force the day we were packing to leave.

Fortunately we headed to Maine and the weather was absolutely beautiful while we were there -- blue skies, a few fluffy clouds now and then, no humidity and temps in the upper 70's, low '80's. I have been to Maine before and I have to say it is one of my favorite states that I would go back to again and again. And although I love the beaches of the Jersey shore, there is something peaceful about watching the waves crash against the rocky shores of Maine. It one of the few places where I completely relax and put aside the daily worries.

I did manage to see (not necessarily visit) 33 lighthouses during this trip. A few of the ones in Maine I had been to before (Portland Head Light (my favorite), Pemaquid Point and Cape Neddick). We even walked two miles out and two miles back along the Cape Cod National Seashore to see the Race Point Lighthouse which is at the very end of the Cape. After we arrived at the lighthouse we saw 4-wheel drive vehicles parked on the beach most of whom were surf fishing. Turns out we could have bought a permit and drove my SUV to the lighthouse! Not to mention I could have drove on the beach!

Somehow I don't think our vacation next year will involve lighthouses --- DH is a bit tired of them. Guess it might be a good time to visit Nashville . . . .

In addition to playing travel agent (planning the trip / booking hotels, etc.) one of my roles is to navigate from place to place. DH does all the driving when we vacation. And although we probably covered about 1500 miles during this trip there wasn't much time for handwork. I did manage to stitch up both of these towels which will hang in my kitchen during the summer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffet and Cross Stitch . .

My oldest DS won a VIP package to the Bon Jovi concert on Monday night. I must have raised him right because he took him mom! He said he didn't know anyone else who was a bigger fan. We had seats that were center stage about 10 rows back. Not only did we get to go up on stage for 3 songs, we also received a $100 web bucks good for Bon Jovi merchandise. This week marks the 25th anniversary of Bon Jovi -- they were the opening act for ZZ Top at Madison Square Garden 25 years ago. Bon Jovi's opening act for this show was The All American Rejects. Okay so I am showing my age as I had heard of them but really didn't know what genre they were. Turns out they are a punk rock band and Monday night was their first gig at Madison Square Garden. We had a great time and Bon Jovi puts on an awesome show!! He is even cuter in person!!

Between yesterday afternoon and this evening I flew to and from Toronto for a few meetings --- the flights were actually on time which is unusual for the Newark / Toronto route. During my flights I was able to read the newest book by Jimmy Buffet "Swine Not". It is an easy read about a pig that lives in an apartment in Manhattan. It is a good summer read :)

I even managed to find time on Sunday to finish stitching the top of a mattressbox pincushion. It is done in counted cross stitch and all that is left is the assembly. I will post pictures once it is complete.

Not bad for the start of the week - floor seats for Bon Jovi, having the time to read a book and some time to stitch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Market Tote Bag

As mentioned in a previous post, below is a picture of the market tote bag I made just before the trip to VQF. What I love about this tote is the drawstring top. I picked up a toggle to easily open / close the drawstring. This one is going to my LQS as a class sample. Hmm guess I need to make a second one using some of the fabric I picked up in Vermont.

Monday, July 7, 2008

VQF, 4th of July, etc.

Bet you are wondering if I made it back from Vermont. I did make it back. However, I came back to work just in time to deal with month end and half year reporting which is almost as intense as year-end reporting. Some days I wonder why I chose finance but then I remember that my full-time job supports my hobbies as well as other necessities in life :)

The festival was wonderful and a great time was had by all who went. It is so inspiring to see the quilts on display and browse through the vendor booths. At the show I picked up a book on the quilts at the Shelbourne Musuem. I was able to see some of them on display when we went to the museum. In addition to the quilt exhibit there was a handbag exhibit. One of the handbags was made from a rubber rainboot. Another was made from flip tops from aluminum cans.

Haven't had too much time to quilt the past couple weeks but I have picked up some of my handwork in the evening. With the longer days I enjoy sitting outside and stitching. The lighting couldn't be better and it is nice to spend some time outdoors after being inside all day.

I have joined Caryn in her pincushion mania. We met on Saturday afternoon at a local needlework shop to look for cross stitch patterns. We both picked up some patterns, fabric and threads. When I got home I started working on one of them. DH made the comment "so you are starting that again". I just smiled and said "yes dear". It could be worse -- I could be starting an entirely new hobby and need to invest $$$$ to start . . . .

Happy Stitchin'

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back Online

I am finally back online with my own PC. Since my existing laptop was almost 5 years old and the hard has crashed twice in the last 6 months, I thought it might be time to purchase a new PC. So far I am quite happy with my new purchase :)

One would think I had more time to quilt since I had no PC to distract me with surfing the 'Net. I did not accomplish as much as I had thought but I did manager to start and almost complete a "seasons" embroidery. I will post pictures as soon as I take them :) I also made a tote bag using fabrics from my stash and a pattern I purchased at our local quilt show earlier this month. I felt very good about using fabrics from my stash.

I am busy preparing for a trip to Vermont. I am joining Megan and the sisters in their "Invasion of Vermont". Should be a fun weekend --- good friends, quilt shops, a quilt show, lots of wine and food, Ben & Jerry's . . . what more could a girl ask for?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Quilt shows, friends and PC update

I spent yesterday with the Posse at the Quilt Show in Edison. We had decided to take a day off from work and go see the show. Lots of nice quilts and vendors. I picked up a few more fat quarters for my CWD blocks. As Megan mentions in her recent post, I tempted her with my fabric selection -- obviously Megan has a bit more restraint than I do when it comes to fabric shopping. Of course, it didn't help that I had my friend Sue with me who is very good at spending other people's money.

On the PC front, I haven't made much progress. I need to call the company who manufactured the hard drive and see it if is covered under the warranty. I should really look for a new PC. In the meantime, I will just have to sneak onto DS computer when he is not home so I can surf the Net and post updates on my blog.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Hello fellow bloggers -- I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last post. I can't even remember what happened during the past two weeks except that DH was on vacation last week and threw a monkey wrench into my entire schedule! I love the man dearly, even more so now that he is back at work and I have my evenings to myself.

Unfortunately this post has to be quick as my personal computer is not working AGAIN and I am borrowing one to post this update. For some unknown reason Windows has decided not to start on my PC -- not even in Safe Mode. My oldest DS has promised to look at it as soon as he has the time.

I hope to be back online again soon and in the meantime, maybe I can get a little sewing done.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is there a better way to spend a Monday?

I was fortunate to spend Monday at my LQS in attending a workshop with Libby Lehman. Actually the LQS wasn't that local - about two hours from home but well worth the trip even with rising gas prices. The workshop was titled "Super Machine Stitching". Libby demonstrated various satin stitching techniques including mitered corners and satin stitched circles which we were able to practice -- many of us (including me) still need practice but at least we have the idea. And with a bit of practice one can perfect these techniques. We also played with the many decorative stitches on our machines that we never seem to use. My best machine has 180 plus stitches but it seems I always use the the same one -- the straight stitch. While learning these techniques, we used many decorative threads such as metallic and rayon. For the first time I used a double needle. I also broke the double needle but at least I know how to thread it and how cool satin stitching looks for two different colored threads.

And although I don't have much to show for the 6 hours spent in class today --- two 12 inches squares of fabric with some stitch samples, etc. on them, I also don't have another UFO to add to the pile.

Have a great week!

Productive Week

Although I haven't spent much time in blog land this week, I have been busy working on civil war blocks and a couple of purses.

First my latest civil war blocks. I need to create a design wall and lay them out so I can do a sense check on my color choices. I think I may be heavily weighted in the blue/browns.

I was also able to finish my hobo bag that I started a few weeks ago. I quilted it on Monday night, started sewing it together and realized I didn't understand the directions. Luckily Caryn was going to the shop the next day and was able to look at the shop sample. The hard part was explaining to me over the phone how to piece the sides together. Not an easy task since I tend to be a visual person. However, Caryn did a great job explaining the construction method. Now I have to remember so I can tell her when she gets around to making her version of the hobo. This was the first time I had quilted the orange peel. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be -- I just need to remove my chalk marks.

On Saturday afternoon DH was called into work, my older DS was also working and the younger DS was out and about. Hmmm what to do in a quiet house with no interruptions for a few hours? Make a purse, of course!

Start to finish I don't think it took me more than 3 hours. I am already planning the next one. The metal handles are designed in such a way that you can easily remove them and use them for a similar bag in different fabrics. Perhaps something a bit more elegant that can be used as an evening bag? And it only uses 3 fat quarters! After the initial investment in the handles -- around $15, you can have a new purse for less than $10 and a couple of hours of sewing. How cool is that?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you are able to spend the day doing what you like to do --- reading a book . . . working in the garden . . . sewing, whether by hand or machine. Since the sun is shining in the Northeast today I think I will spend my day working in the flower beds. I may even find some time to do a little handwork on the deck this afternoon.

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Civil War Blocks

I managed to piece 3 more civil war blocks last night --- at first I wasn't sure about my fabric selection for the Panic block (top left). But now that I have seen it in the photo, I think the choices are just fine.

Here are the two blocks that will make up my 30's quilt I mentioned in yesterday's post. One of the reasons I decided to make this quilt was because of the pink flower in the center of each of these blocks.

Does it surprise you that all of the easy blocks are complete? The white space will be a great place for a nice quilting design . . . maybe a circle of feathers? Perhaps I should research quilting designs of the 30's and pick a design from the time period.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Catchin' Up

Last week was DH's birthday --- I usually struggle with gift ideas but this time was different. He had been asking for an iPod so I thought it would be a good gift. DH loved it! He is like a little kid going through our CD collection and uploading the songs to his new toy. Alas, the perfect gift . . .

Sewing was on the light side last week but I did manage to finish a few more civil war blocks and even picked out fabrics for several more blocks -- now to press and cut the fabrics.

And one more lone block . . .

Saturday was Sew Day with the firehouse ladies. A few months ago the auxiliary ladies asked if we would each make a few blocks so they could put together a quilt for the tricky tray later this year. On Saturday, we made the few remaining blocks and were able to layout the quilt top. Before the end of the day we had the blocks sewn into rows and the rows sewn together. All that is needed are a couple of borders and the quilt top will be off to the long arm quilter. Unfortunately I did not have my camera so I cannot share a picture of our work in progress. It always give me a good feeling when I use my talents to help others.

Fortunately I was also able to make some progress on my "firehouse" project. I always struggle with the decision of what to bring on sew day. In January I decided I was going to choose one of my UFO projects and bring it to the firehouse until it is completed. I am making progress on my "Jenny's Flower Garden Quilt". It is a triple Irish chain in 30's fabrics. Of the 49 blocks needed, I have 30 completed -- so far my theory seems to be working.

Have a great week!