May 29, 2009

vacation's over--time to report in

I'm back! We left a day later than originally planned but I got a ride up to central IL a week ago Thursday with my friend Marilyn and her husband Roger. They have family in NE, MO, IA and MN and are so kind to let me tag along.

One of my brothers lives in a small town just to the west of Bloomington-Normal and about a mile off the interstate. I called ahead to tell my folks to meet me at Phil's about 8 since they had a short drive ahead of them. The plan was to just knock of the door and have the kids answer it saying "Aunt Linda's here!" since they didn't know I was coming. That kinda backfired, LOL. It looked like no one was home. We all were out on the curb chatting and saying our goodbye's when my brother came out to see who's car and truck were out front. My SIL and oldest nephew were at event in Bloomington while the other nephew and the two nieces were over at a neighbor's home.

WOOHOO! Since Mom and I are Cardinal fans, he had news that Albert Pujols had hit a homer than knocked the "I" out of the "Big Mac" sign. We went back over on Saturday evening for a cookout at their home so I did get to visit with Phil and his family while I was back.

Friday Mom and I got busy pinning her donation quilt tops. We always do something quilt related together if time permits. Above you see one of the 6 I helped her with--her version of Hanky Panky, a Darlene Zimmerman pattern. Mom has "Two of a Kind" like mine (also by Zimmeman and her daughter) started but she is using 2 inch finished squares and mine are cut 3 inch. I think she is using some authentic 30's-40's fabrics in hers from one of my paternal aunts.

One of my sisters who works in one of the area hospitals had a short shift on Friday so she came up to see us. We all went out for lunch at a local restaurant. She kept us entertained with stories of her recent experiences with jury selection. Cracked us up! She had come up for rhubarb from Dad's garden patch as well as to see me so we had a large bag picked for her and the freezer. Can't find it down in AL and my guess is that the soil isn't right and it is too hot down here for it?

No sewing this trip for me but I did get the binding completed on my on of my Twisted Sister quilts. Since we both send quilts to Wrap Them In Love, she will mail it off with hers and save me lugging it back home. I got Mom started on a Twisted Sister top of her own----she is going to do one in a light background and one with a dark in the same colorways so she was busy cutting strips.

Her other project involved some EQ work. We have a target range of 40 x 60 for the donation quilts so that means we often have to re-size the blocks from things we spot in our books and patterns to meet that criteria. She had been string piecing bands of strips and strings and had about 900 inches of the stuff rolled up and thought Evelyn Sloppy's "On the Wild Side" (or something named like that) from her Strips and Strings book was one she wanted to use them on BUT the block was too large for her needs. She is going with a 7.5 inch finished blocks and changing the sashing size a bit along with colors to suit her stash--something like this.

One cool thing was that we were able to print off a template piece for the trapezoid shape she needed and stick that on to a companion angle ruler for easier cutting.

Let's see what else did I do? Stitched on my redwork Santa block. Read 4 books---one I had started here at home but the others were some we checked out from the local library. Sunday was church and afterwards I met my godchild/niece Allison for lunch at Flat Top's. Yummy, stir fry! She had had a birthday the day I arrived so I planned to treat her to lunch. Turned out that she knows the manager, best friends of the guy she is dating. The check came and there was no charge! How sweet of Aaron to do that for both of us. From there I went on to decorate the family graves for my husband and ran a couple of errands.

Monday Allison picked us up and we traveled up to Bourbonnais for a cookout at my brother's home. I had not seen her parents and my nephew for at least 2 years. Allison's other set of grandparents came too and it is always nice to visit with them. Good people, good food.

Tuesday I ran a couple more errands and picked up some gondolas from Avanti's for our lunch. Yummers! Boy, do I wish I could make bread like that! These are always a favorite for anyone who attended Illinois State University or resident of the Twin Cities. I didn't get to Schooner's for onion rings and a burger this trip but we hit Steak and Shake in Clarksville, TN on the way up so a few of those "traditional" tastes were satisfied.

I flew home on Wednesday into ATL Hartsfield. The flight was a little late leaving BMI and of course, DJ left too early even with factoring in catching the shuttle from the offsite parking lot and waited about an hour for me to get up to baggage claim. We ate late lunch/early supper on the way home once we were out on I-20 a ways so I didn't get home till about 5:30-6 p.m.

Of course. first day back always means unpacking, laundry, laying in groceries etc. DJ didn't starve but he doesn't really cook either. He said the oven and stovetop had not been turned on since I left and he had only run the dishwasher once--meaning, carry out, sandwiches, Hungry Man dinners in the microwave once the leftovers I had set up for him ran out. I asked him if he was bragging about that, LOL. Oh well---he is a big boy and that was his choice of meals though he had a few things he could have tried to fix or re-heat from the freezer.

I got a call from Susan, the long arm quilter, while I was gone that my Cheese and Cracker quilt was finished and ready for pickup. LOL, see you in a week. I ran up to Boaz this morning to pick it up. I hope that you click the photo bigger to see what a wonderful job she did on it! Freehand feathers in the sashing bits between the blocks and she did diagonal lines in the blocks themselves and the modified piano key border. Of course, Skyler needed to check it out and give it the kitty stamp of approval! I picked up a nice pink that goes well with the backing for the binding while at the shop. Not that I am in any hurry to put it on----way too hot for a quilt at night and I am not tired of looking at the bargello either though it is used as a spread more than a quilt at this point.

Susan and Joan had been asked to make two quilts for a woman that incorporates clothing her daughters had worn. We had talked about this when I dropped the CNC top off. I guess they thought it might be easier to just ask me to do make the tops which is fine with me. The client had brought them two bins of clothes, one for each daughter, and requested pink sashing/background for one and blue for the other. Susan cut the estimated amount of yardage I might need from two bolts she had in stock while I was there. This eliminated mailing anything since I was there already anyway. I'll figure out something---it looked like a lot of t-shirts in the box though I did not closely inspect the contents. DJ hauled the bins in from the car and parked them in my bedroom for now--give me a few days and a 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon so I can get some interfacing and I'll get started.

I had received an email from Debora, my friend Joy's friend and my friend too, about 7 quilts that Joy had started that she had intended to go to "the babies" as Joy always said when referring to Wrap 'Em quilts. Debora and Joy's daughter wondered if me (and/or the Belles) would want to complete them for the kids. Of course, I would be proud to do this last thing for her. There wouldn't be a Belles except for Joy and I getting busy making quilts from WTIL after all. Debora has family in the area and will drop them by next week.

With all that it looks like I will be back to stitching around here in no time. Once I got done quilting all but one in the stack, I swapped out machines and haven't sewn a lick since. I was thinking about cutting out the June "Be Attitudes" block and rough cutting the applique sections after supper-----yeah, that's the ticket!

Thanks for stopping by and reading through the chatter. That's what you get from me not posting for two weeks, LOL.

May 16, 2009

lazy day

Skyler is shown chasing a puff ball under the Twisted Sister top I quilted yesterday---this one is mine and I'll drag it along in the car next week to bind. Actually my donation quilt stack which one had 6 or 7 piled up in it is now down to one. I did three tops for Linda C over a two day span but had no binding for any of them so she is getting them back to take care of that part of the job.

It has been a rather lazy day here so far. I walked this morning and did a load of wash since I will be packing for my trip soon. I also drove into town to drop some books off at the library and over to our meeting place to drop off the risers, pins, clamps and batting. I chatted with any of the FABS that were available this morning. DJ and I went out to lunch (all I have to do is suggest grilled cheese sandwiches as our only lunch option. I love them more than him obviously, LOL). Other than going on a treasure hunt for a pattern I had misplaced and playing on the computer I am NOT getting any sewing done as I intended.

Actually I think you could call some of my playing "quilt research" as I found some ideas of what to do with large focus prints by the gallery inspiration pages for Heather Mulder Peterson's book Livin' Large. Now that is something to look for at the next quilt shop trip. One pattern sort of reminds me of the "Chiclet" pattern that was so popular on the net a few years back but one big square versus 16 or 25 small ones would work for me!

DJ has an "appointment" with me for a haircut so I guess I better quit goofing off or just decide that sewing on my "Two of a Kind/Cheap Trick" isn't going to happen today. Before you know it it will be time to start supper.....and I'll wonder just where did the day go?

May 13, 2009

WIP Weds and other stuff

There was not a huge amount of productivity going on around here this last week. I quilted 3 of Marilyn's small baby type quilts all in one afternoon. ( Just easy straight line, stitch in the ditch mostly and only one for me to put binding on. ) The following day I quilted one of my Twisted Sister donation tops. I started another top the day after that but barely got half of the blocks locked in when I decided I would rather be reading. I didn't get busy on anything remotely quilty till the weekend. Oh well--- a break never hurt anyone if your heart was not in it.

The "Be Patient" block was my Wednesday WIP until just before lunch. I had done the fusing on Saturday, the applique on Sunday and quilted it Monday. I worked on the binding at the quilt meeting yesterday, finished it this morning and then added all the buttons in order to hang it, a little crookedly if not shoved a bit to the left. DJ insisted on helping me "right" it. I am really enjoying these Nancy Halvorsen designs. Since I started on mine, I found out some other quilting friends are making the quilt for a woman going through a rough patch in the evening J'ville group. They divided up the 12 blocks amongst themselves to get the blocks done.

This is the other sign of spring/summer in my house. When I put the Easter/bunny stuff away I pulled out the Gardening Angel I had made from a kit years ago---not even sure where I got it now but it is was another "dress up a soda bottle" things. My mom made the butterfly wall hanging several years ago and I added it to the area.

Speaking of Nancy Halvorsen's designs, I have her In Season book that has 4 small wall hangings for each of the seasons. (Click on the link, then books, and look for the title or number #507B) I want to make those to hang up for seasonal decorating. Not today or anything but down the line. It is getting too late for the "Spring" one but I could get started with Summer whenever I feel like pulling stuff from my stash and playing.

The quilt group and I received some bad news last week when our dear friend and quilting mentor Joy passed away on May 5th. She had had heart surgery earlier in the year and had complication after complication following it. While relieved that she is no longer suffering, she will be missed.

What a full interesting life she led! Not only was she was she a quilter but a writer, painter and singer. She was a teacher and librarian by profession and upon retirement, a quilt shop owner. She had even worked for the FBI for year right out of high school. She was a "hostess with the mostest. Made a darned good pound cake. I swear that anyone who knew her felt like her best friend. Her lovely children and grandchildren are a tribute to their parents. Good people.

I had lived here for two years and had not met a single quilter. How could I have done that? There was no quilt shop at the time, no known guild at the fabric shops where I asked. Then in July of 99 Joy's son gave her a computer, hooked her up to the first quilt list on onelist that he spotted which just happened to be one I co-moderated. It didn't take long for us to find out that we lived about 5 miles from each other. We formed Bama Belles about 6 months later following a sew-in for WTIL in early 2000 that she hosted in her home. Her husband passed away later that year and two years later she moved home to the town where she had grown up. Since that was about 50 miles away from here, I didn't see as much of her as when I could just hop in the car and be there in 10 minutes. But we had the retreats up in Collinsville where this group shot was taken. Rest in peach, my friend.

As I said, the quilt group met yesterday but not at our usual location. The church was having some painting and the sanctuary re-roofed so it was best that we stay out of the worker's hair. Betsy offered her home and we had a mini-potluck since we were clear out in the country at the north end of the county. It was hand work kind of day though we did pin one top too. Shown is a top that Lois was binding. I believe she said it was a Thimbleberries Block of the Month. It may go to one of her grandchildren, she said.

I did a bit of baking on Saturday-- Pearson House Hummingbird Muffins for one thing since there were a few over-ripened bananas on hand. DJ likes them a good bit greener than I do and I prefer them just a step above banana bread so I don't always get to eat them when I just buy a few. Muffins work!

Recently I had spotted a recipe online for English Muffin Toasting Bread that I wanted to try. I had all the ingredients I needed to proceed so as soon as the muffins were done I had a loaf to pop in the oven. That stuff is good! No kneading required--just plop in the pan, let raise and then bake. Later that day I was trying my hand a yet another pizza crust recipe. I am doing better in this regard but think I need to invest in two smaller 12 inch pans rather than 1-14 inch one. I missed one important line in the directions or I think this batch would have been better and less thick. I don't like thin crust necesarily but this was a little too thick since I wasn't making Chicago style deep dish. My bread/yeast odyssey continues.

What a wet spring we are having! It is raining again today--not hard but rain none the less. The weather guy says it might be early next week before this lets up. There is some possibility of storms in the area come the weekend. DJ has been out chopping on the kudzu roots in the early morning and has about 10 foot to go in the first section. He can't be out there if the ground is wet but if it dries up, then the dirt is too compacted to loosen up. He has grass seed planted in some of the area he has been working on but it may be a little too early to see any signs of it germinating. Honeysuckle is out everywhere! Some of our roses have been out too. The yellow ones never last though--out one day and gone the next.

Now what do I want to work on? I would like to get back to my "Two of a Kind" bu I should quilt, I guess---no one came in to do those donation quilts so I guess it falls to me. I could always use something to bind in the car on the way up to IL next week. Lord knows, I will have enough time to work on it, LOL as I am facing about 12 hrs in the car, give or take. Then I can have Mom mail it off with her next box to WTIL rather than drag it back home. That plan might just work but not if I don't get cracking!

May 4, 2009

this and that

I don't know how well this picture turned out but there were three birds out there that Skyler was trying to charm, one a cardinal and a pair of two others that I can't identify. I think there is a nest in the nearby holly bushes but haven't spotted it yet. They are squawky things with a fairly long beak and they torment him a goodly part of the day. It does not seem to bother the birds that I am in here with the TV or book on tape on either.

Norma was off on Friday so we had a sort of spontaneous "Move It Forward" thing going on. My "Two of a Kind" had been going slowly for a good part of the week but I have it up to the 11 of 21 row mark or the upper right corner is the actually corner top of the quilt's width at this point. I think we nudged Pat to get the borders applied on her Magic Trip Around the World though she was headed there anyway! See her blog for the finished top and a few posts back as to what makes this a magic method--pretty cool!

Yesterday after the grocery run I was busy in the kitchen so no sewing there. I had hardly sat down when another day's golf tournament DJ was following was pre-empted for continuous weather coverage. It was in the county just east of us and headed this way to the northern part of the county. Weather spotters apparently saw one on the ground near our little town. We didn't feel the house shaking and couldn't tell if there was rain or high winds at the time but didn't take any chances and went through our safety plan. Never lost power which was good because I sure needed those fans on after my kitchen stint. No way would we, stupidly, stand by a window or outside to look. It is still raining this morning---DJ said we had an inch in the rain gauge a few minutes ago.

No signs of lightning in the area so I will able to get the machine. A friend needs my help with some quilting--she tried but none of her machines were cooperating for various reasons. She brought over three pinned baby quilts on Saturday afternoon. It should go quickly with simple stitch in the ditch straight lines. I have 6 donation quilts piled up at this point so I'll probably keep pushing to get those done or near done this week. I'll definitely be ready to get back to my Two of Kind after that!

After I posted last Sunday, I had found out the May dates when this same friend and her husband would traveling through IL. Marilyn has family in MO, IA and MN while Roger has family in eastern NE so they drive within miles of where my parents and a brother lives. She asked if I wanted to ride along---I do-- but told my mom that I was not sure that I could be gone for 11-12 days especially since I have my Dream Trip to OR (DT2OR) coming up in August. DJ agreed to pick me up at the ATL airport----he better! A one way flight was arranged so I can be home in a week. Thanks, Mom!

Also last weekend the FABS finally nailed down the dates for our retreat. Two of girls needed to put in for their vacation time so it was decision time. Just set the dates and we'll work out the rest of the details from there was the plan and consensus. I have been watching airfare rates for some time to get a ballpark idea of rates but with Pam's help we looked at flights that would get me to her house a few days ahead of the retreat and closer to her home. We both have been waiting for this trip for 10 years!! We met in a yahoogroup back in 98-99 and swore this day would come, someday.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Cher in person on several occasions when she came east to see her sister who lives in the ATL area, approx 2 hrs away. Norma and I have become fast friends the past couple years through our blogs, emails, IM's. We aren't going to let something like the US/Canadian BC border stand in our way if I'm coming to PDX! Pat joined the 4 of us more recently, again through blogging, and I can't wait to meet her in person! The flights to and from are booked and I'm counting down the days (92 at this writing) I am still pinching myself.

So that's about it for this installment---darned near a pictureless post and likely to be that way for awhile. IIWII--------