Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Aftermath

We survived the hurricane. As I write this from a friend's house, we still have no electricity and no running water. Power has been out for about 20 hours, but we are not expecting to get power back tomorrow, so we will make do. Lots of water in the basement, but a friend from church kindly let us use their generator, so we can keep the freezer going and my husband was able to shop-vac the water out of the basement.
Several bridges and dams in our area washed out- this bridge is about a mile and a half from our house, and we will have to take an alternate route for a while:

Truly, though, we are grateful that we are safe and sound. I am sad to say that a 20 year old girl that my daughter went to high school with was swept away in her car while driving through the storm, and she drowned. It happened only about 3 miles from our house. Just a week ago, a young man (age 21) that we knew was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. It has been a sad week. It makes us all the more aware of how fragile and tenuous life is. It makes me want to grab my kids and hug them and squeeze them and kiss them, and never ever let them out of my sight. These families are in my prayers.

I don't know when power will be back on. In the meantime, I am cleaning out the studio, throwing away lots of stuff and giving lots of fabric away to friends and to charities. Have a safe and good week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fun Friday Silhouette Project

Look what daughter did! I think it’s sooooo cool. Older daughter is getting ready to move into her first apartment for her senior year at college. (She was supposed to move in on Sunday…. But due to the impending Hurricane, the semester will start 2 days late.) Anyway, she wanted some cool stuff to decorate her apartment with, and of course being a college student she needs to decorate on a very limited budget. She “commissioned” younger daughter to make her something for the wall. Her only condition- that it had to go into an old beat up frame that older daughter had “requisitioned” from my mother’s garage. This was younger daughter’s inspiration:

A photo of a cool sofa from an Anthropologie catalog. It has curved piecing and the seam allowances are on the outside. Here is the link to a tutorial for doing the curved piecing.

To make this project, choose your frame and cut a piece of foam core board to fit in the frame. Go through your stash and find some interesting fabrics. Piece a background that is at least an inch larger than the foam core board. Do any kind of decorative stitching that you would like on the fabric. Daughter did wavy lines. Wrap the fabric around the foam core board and secure. Place in the frame.
Choose a silhouette design that you like (there are tons on the internet). Enlarge it to the size that you need, and trace onto a dark fabric (such as brown, black, or gray.) Cut out. Glue to background. (Of course, you could do this step before you attach the background piece to the foam core board, and you could use fusible webbing or applique it. But since this is a wall hanging, a few small drops of Tacky Glue will work just fine.)
Voila! Totally cool and inexpensive art!

Here on the East Coast, we are hunkering down for Hurricane Irene, which is supposed to hit late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. We are just hoping that the electric does not go out for days and days (as has been known to happen here where we live.) Since we have an electric water pump and lose water whenever the electric goes out, I have been collecting water in every available container I can find for drinking, cooking (luckily we have a gas stove) and flushing the toilet. Hmmm, it's kind of like camping (have I ever mentioned that I hate camping??) 
Stay safe and dry, everyone, and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In the Studio Today....

Some Friendship Star blocks that I have been working on. Friendship Star is one of my favorite blocks because it's so simple, but when you set it in a quilt it just kind of comes alive and is so effective and has so much "movement." I love the colors in these. Mostly I have been pulling stuff out of my stash for this project... My stash has become large enough that I don't have to shop for fabric very much any more (but I still do...)

And I always know when my fabric is coming from the mill overseas, because I get a phone call from FedEx the day before to let me know that I will need to be home to sign for a delivery. Sure enough, yesterday I got my box of sample yardage for my Apple Blossom Acres fabric, so I can start playing.

I have 6 or 7 quilt designs to go with this line. This week, I have to start writing all of those patterns (yuck), and start my piecing so I can get it all done by Quilt Market which is in October. Luckily, I got my fabric really early, so I have a good amount of time to get it all done. Thank goodness! It's so much harder when you get your fabric like, 2 or 3 weeks before Market! And you always seem to get your best ideas about 2 days before you hop on the plane! Always! I guess because those creative juices are really flowing, and you always end up wishing you had thought of whatever about 2 weeks earlier....

Also this week, daughter has 2 bridal shop appointments (hoping that this week we can decide on the dress and order it- I love checking things off of my list!) Right now, there are 3 dresses that are serious contenders... On Thursday, I have an appointment with local a quilt shop- I am partnering with them to develop a new product, so hopefully all will go well and I'll be sharing with you soon.
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday Reflections....

My kids made me this fabulous chocolate pie for my birthday on Tuesday. It's one of the best desserts I've ever eaten (and I've tried a lot of desserts in my lifetime...)
It was low calorie and low fat (not), and they found the recipe in a Southern Living Cook Book (which, as you know, automatically disqualifies it for being low calorie OR low fat.) We went to dinner at Outback Steakhouse. I had the tilapia. Because, frankly, I'm not there for the steak. I'm there for the Bloomin' Onion and baked sweet potato with honey butter and cinnamon. (I also have it under good authority that in the REAL outback, they do not eat Bloomin' Onions....)

I spent the day relaxing and reflecting. I have been reading a book called Creating Your Best Life, about setting life goals. When you get to be my age (I have not yet mentally recovered from turning 40, and 50 seems to be approaching with unbelievable and alarming speed), life goals and priorities seem to become more and more important. Over the last few years, my life seems to have been lacking balance. Which is funny, because as my kids become older and more self-sufficient (they are almost 21 and 16 1/2), you would think that I'd have more free time. Not so. I have become busier and busier with work. Which is good, because I really like what I do and I am so glad that I get to do it. But I can tend to have tunnel vision, and as I spend more time working, other things tend to fall to the wayside.

Over the last several months, I have tried to make more of an effort to do stuff just for fun, instead of locking myself up in my office and studio all the time. There have been more trips to the beach and to the flea market and craft shows. It's good because being in a creative field, I think that your work should be an overflow of your personal life and passions. And when you let the stuff that you love to do for fun & that fills up your soul get pushed out of the way, not only does life become dull and boring, but so does your work. I am still striving for balance, it is an everyday challenge.

So anyhow, writing down your life goals is really exciting. I have found that it fills me with hope and anticipation. You are supposed to write down 100 life goals- I got to about 70 and I can't imagine coming up with more. But over the next days and weeks, I probably will. Some of my goals are really simple and can be done in a day or two. For example, even though I'm a pretty good cook, I've never been able to make a really great steak- so that is one of my goals to accomplish soon. I would also like to take a  ballroom dance class (which is a little harder, because it will involve convincing my husband to come along!) I have a lot of personal and family goals and hopes and wishes. And of course, work and career related goals- again, some will take a little bit of time, and some will probably take years.

I know I said that writing all of my goals fills me with hope. But there is just a little part of me that wonders if I still have time for it all. In order to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed with what I have left "to do" with my life, I decided to write down some of the goals that I have already accomplished in my 40+ years: Married for 22 years. Raised 2 GREAT kids. Published a book. Designed fabric. Live in a house that I love. Writing this list made me extremely grateful for the life that I have lived until now. And it helps me keep perspective, because when I get down and discouraged, I can look at my list and see that there is always something to be thankful for.

I recommend the above mentioned book, and also there is a website called SuperViva, where you can make your own "bucket list" (list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket") and see other people's lists for inspiration. C'mon- try it.....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey Babe- It's Time for the County Fair

 (BTW, let me start out by saying that I do realize that by putting the word "Babe" in my post title, I am opening myself up for a slew of spam comments here.)
 One of my favorite things about summer is the county fair. I will admit it unabashedly- we have a great fair! A couple of weeks ago we went to the county fair for the neighboring county, and it just paled in comparison (and they charged an unconscionable $10 for parking! Ours is only $5.00). The best part of the fair is all of the animals. CAUTION: MANY MANY PHOTOS OF LIVESTOCK AHEAD. Please indulge me- I am just a sucker for the big brown eyes.

Piles of piggies:
 What do you get when you put 20 kids in a pen with 19 piglets, and the kids have to try to catch a pig? The Pig Scramble, of course:

What? You say you want to see more livestock photos???
 Lamancha Dairy goats are born with little tiny ears.

A Nigerian Dwarf goat kid- my favorite.

Miniature horses were very popular this year.

There were some gorgeous poultry specimens (hard to get a good photo through the caging, though.)

Of course, you can't have a fair without the Home Ec competitions. There were baking, flower arrangement, quilt, photography, artwork, needlework and scrapbook exhibits (didn't get photos of those.)

A nice display of restored antique tractors:

Can't have a county fair without funnel cake and ice cream....

 (thanks to hubby for the great photos.)
Happy Summer!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Stuff and This & That

Are you a quick sew-er or a slow sew-er?? I am a slooooowwwwww sew-er. No matter how I try to speed things up, it seems to take me forever to make a few blocks. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that my chair is uncomfortable so I'm always finding some excuse to get up and stretch..... and I like to press my blocks more than I like sewing them.... is that weird??? I just like the satisfaction of getting a seam nice and flat. I confess: I am a very aggressive presser!! And I'm addicted to my steam setting!! So anyway, I made these adorable little blocks the other day.
Love the colors, they remind me of sherbet. Yummy. Still working on the embroidery part of this design, that's gonna take me quite a while.

I love the beautiful photography that you see in magazines (hence, my addiction.) As if the magazines weren't enough, now I can just go the the Better Homes and Gardens website and see more.... It's a dangerous thing....
I want to do this to the spare bedroom:

And I think this would look great at the beach house (living room is the next room to get done):

And I am a sucker for repainted scruffy old cabinets AND pears, so, yeah:
Yep, I could just get lost on that website...

Daughter and hubby decided that my blog needed an updated look, so recently they have been busy working on a blog makeover. Yesterday, daughter showed me what she came up with, and it looks so great.... she spent a really long time on it, and she is so, so talented. It amazes me what she can do at the age of 16- and she is completely self taught. I am gushing, but really, my kids just knock me over with their creativity sometimes.... I think the "new and improved" blog will make its appearance at the end of this month.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Time to Announce ALL of the Winners....

Thank you for all of your wonderful comments during the tour. I went through and re-read them, and it so warmed my heart that you all had such kind things to say. Your support has meant so much to me. I really wish that I could send a book to every single one of you!I have really enjoyed sharing this little journey with you.....  But boy am I tired! It's kind of like coming home from a whirlwind vacation- you had a great time and you have wonderful memories, but you are pooped out!

So I know you are thinking, yeah yeah, blah blah blah, WHO WON???? I have sent emails to all of the winners. So without further ado, the winners, chosen at random, are:
Day 1- Quiltma
Day 2- Heather R.
Day 3- Ramona
Day 4- Barb
Day 5- Katie M.

Winners from other giveaways were:
Pat Sloan's winner- Cathie L.
Natalie Lymer- Becky R.

I haven't received the names for the winners on the other blogs yet. As I mentioned, the winners have been sent emails. If you didn't get one, I'm so sorry! But thanks for touring with us!
If you didn't win and you'd like to purchase a copy of the book, there are several places where it is available:

My Website
Kansas City Star Website

And of course- it is available in your favorite local quilt shop! (If it isn't, be sure to ask them to order it.....)

If you are a shop owner, the book is available through Checker, Moda (United Notions), or directly from Kansas City Star (email me and I'll send you the contact information).

So now that the HOOPLA has died down, I am spending some time today working on a project for my next book. (I will let you in on a little secret- I just submitted the proposal a few days ago, and I haven't heard back yet.... but I am so excited about this little project that I'm working on it on faith that it will be in the next book....) This morning I went through my stash for some fabrics:
Hmmm.... definitely needs more orange.... guess I'll have to go to the quilt shop this week.... don't you just HATE when that happens?....

This weekend, I started doing some embroidery for the project:

After years of denial and eye strain, and with my birthday approaching next week, I finally broke down and wore these:

Yep, the magnifiers have been in my desk drawer for 2 years... but I have managed to talk myself out of wearing them. But finally, this weekend, I could resist no longer. I did a little stitching Saturday night and my eyes were just so out of focus, I couldn't see what I was doing. The next night, I put on the glasses.... and I could see how terrible my stitching was from the night before! I guess I just have to accept it, that these are now a necessary tool in my everyday life! Blech!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Blog Tour Day 5

 It's the last day of the tour-phew! Thanks for sticking with me! I have really enjoyed reading all of your comments. Leave a comment on this post by midnight Saturday Sunday EDT (you get 2 extra days this time!) for your chance to win a copy of my book! And remember that I will list ALL of the winners of my giveaways here on my blog on Monday, so be sure to check in to see if you're a winner.

This has been a dream come true- I have known for a long time that I wanted to do a book, and it took me a while to put it all together in my head, to figure out just what I wanted it to be. I knew I wanted to paint my own illustrations for diagrams and to "decorate" the book, and I knew I wanted to add some recipes, because the kitchen is an important part to my creative life.  I loved putting this book together. As I mentioned, it started in my head about 4 years ago, and it has been a lesson in patience and persistence for me. What I liked most is that it has let me combine so many things that I love doing into one project- sewing, cooking, painting. It was really fun (and sometimes challenging ) to come up with a good balance of projects and recipes, and then paint all of the diagrams and illustrations to go with them.
Someone asked in a comment the other day what part I enjoy most, and I would have to say, all of it... When I'm tired of sewing I do a little painting, and vice versa. As far as the food, my family is always ready and willing to taste and test.... the only thing I don't like about it is actually sitting down to write the pattern, and then the endless proofing when it is time to edit. But the fun of creating new projects and recipes far outweighs that part.

The first project that I worked on, before I ever had the nerve to even THINK about submitting a proposal to a publisher, was the Pineapple Welcome Wall Hanging. I made this sample probably 3 or 4 years ago, knowing in the back of my mind that "someday" it would be in my book:

Another project that I did early on was the Citrus Peel Quilt- I really like the refreshing colors in it. It does not match a single room in my house.... so maybe some redecorating is in order?

And the recipe? Orange Chocolate Chip Scones.

I am happy to announce that today is Sandi Andersen's day for the blog tour!

Her blog is called A Legacy of Stitches. Sandi is the only person on my blog tour that I have never met face to face- but I consider her a dear friend. We "met" while blogging, and have sent many, many emails back and forth, as well as packages stuffed with fabric, little gifts, etc. Last week I got a package from Sandi...

....and I just LOVED what was inside- it's honestly one of the nicest things anyone has ever given me. She made me this cute little pin cushion from my Sewing Room Social fabric, I will always cherish it (and I cried a little when I opened it- which is really rare for me):
 Want to learn to make this pincushion? Click here to go to the tutorial on Sandi's blog.

Sandi is another one of those "Energizer Bunny" type of people! She is always sewing something, blogging something, hosting or attending a retreat, doing volunteer work.... I don't think she ever sits still. She often designs projects for her favorite quilt shop, Firefly Quilt Shop in nearby Mankato, Minnesota. I sent her a big box of Sewing Room Social fabric, and Wow! has she been busy... some of the projects she has made:

 a sewing kit

 a tote bag (love this one!)

  a wallet

Sandi is the perfect person to help me finish up my blog tour, because the theme of her blog has a connection to my book theme.  Her quilting blog was inspired by the women who shared their creativity .......her mother, Mary, Grandma Goldie, Aunt Marie and so many more ladies in her hometown of Lehigh, Iowa.

Several years ago, she began sharing the vintage quilts her parents bought at estate auctions and some family quilts along with her own designs, in a program she calls "A Legacy of Stitches". If you check out her blog, you'll find a poem that shares her thoughts on those quilts and quilters who inspired her. Every Monday, Sandi has a post called "What's On the Line" where she shares an antique or vintage quilt from her vast collection. It's the perfect platform for her natural story telling ability, when she shares her memories related to the quilt and some of its background.

(Sandi and I have talked before about trying to get these outdoor photos while the Minnesota wind was blowing- I think we came up with the term "aerobic quilting" ha ha.)

Click here to join Sandi on her blog today for another chance to win a copy of my book and some A LOT other goodies that Sandi is generously sharing with the winner.

Monday: Brenda Riddle of Acorn Quilt and Gift Company
              Jill Finley of Jillily Studio
Tuesday: Pat Sloan of, well, everything!
Wednesday: Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches
Thursday: Michele Foster of The Quilting Gallery
Friday: Sandi Andersen of A Legacy of Stitches

Thanks to everyone who came along for the tour! 
Have a great weekend!


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