Where Have I Been?

I have been playing in my sewing room.  These two blocks are leftovers from projects I did last year and the year before.  Both will probably end up as pillow covers unless I can think of some other use for them.  I love half-square triangles because they can make so many different patterns.  The one on the left is from Jeni Baker’s book Half Square Triangles.  She has close to a hundred patterns and lots of quilts, too.  I picked one I liked and went with the blocks I had left.  It’s so cute.  The one on the right is larger. It ended up being 18″ square.  The first one is 16″.  Those will be some pretty big pillows.IMG_1241Then this happened.  Can anybody sew together 64 half-square triangles without making a mistake?  That seam ripper sitting next the block was useful.  It’s all correct now and waiting for a pillow and a chair to sit on.

IMG_1247My next project was a table runner I made with charm squares I received in a quilt box from the Fat Quarter Shop.  Moda color of the year is flamingo, and I received a charm pack of the color. I also got the floral charm pack earlier and the two seemed to fit together. I have a table runner from that same pattern in red and apple fabric for fall.  This one seemed suited for spring and summer on my side table.

Speaking of spring, that’s what I’m waiting for.  Last Saturday it was warm, 70 degrees.  I went to a landscape center and bought the best compost ever.  Pure cow manure, no seeds, no weeds, nor straw; just pure, unadulterated manure.  I covered my raised bed garden and enhanced my flowerbeds.  I’m really wanting the weather to get warm so I can get some early seeds in the garden: lettuce, radishes, broccoli, parsley, onions.  I’m watching gardening videos, planning my summer landscape.  But until it gets warm in Wisconsin I’ll remain in my sewing room.

Do You Sit On a Tuffet?

IMG_1236IMG_1234More than a year ago I bought a kit to make my own tuffet.  I liked Kelly’s two midcentury modern footstools she bought for her condo and figured I could make my own.  I found a kit that contained a base, feet, and foam.  All I had to do was sew the cover.  I could have just covered it with upholstery fabric like I did my small footstool, but I wanted it unique and cute.  Of course, there were tons of pictures of them all over the Internet.  Besides that, sewists were making and stuffing their own.

After procrastinating long enough, I broke down and bought a pattern custom made for my square tuffet.  It was worth it. It included fusible interfacing with the pattern on it, a button for the center, cording to attach the button, and instructions to carry me through to the finish.

I found the fabric at Stitch Supply Co, in Altoona. (Love Anne’s shop). The main fabric is new from Joel Dewberry and the stripes are coordinates the clerks helped me find. The sewing was fun but not for a beginner, lots of bias and curves. The construction of the tuffet after I completed the top required the help of Patty, my neighbor, who is a craft/sewing genius. John was even helpful with attaching the foam and fabric, and getting the button in place.

I love it. It was worth the time and money. It wasn’t cheap, but I wasn’t looking for the best deal; I was looking for one-of-a-kind.  I got that.  Of course, I have extra fabric to make a few coordinating pillows.

kit and pattern are from Quilter’s Cocoon

 

Getting Scrappy

I save scraps, fabric scraps.  Some sewists don’t save any, some save every bit.  I don’t get too obsessive, but I do save pieces that I hope to use at some point.  My sewing room and closet were getting a tad messy from tossing scraps randomly, so I got busy sorting through them and organizing my sewing room and supplies. After sorting through my fabrics I ended up with a small tub of strips, a box of squares and rectangles from 1.5 inches to about 4 inches, another box of small(ish) scraps, and another of large scraps.  Large scraps are pieces that I can’t make into fat quarters.  I organized the entire closet where I store my fabrics.  I bought plastic storage containers, I labeled them and packed away much of my supply of fabrics and supplies.IMG_1223The first thing I did was admire my work, then I got after the strips and sewed a few of them together.  Then I “made” fabric by sewing scraps together.  From that I made a hot pad and a pillow.  I’ll be making pin cushions, too.  I have one project to finish before spring gardening and golf begin, so most of my summer sewing will be from the scraps I have accumulated and organized.

I love fabric; I love to look at it, admire it, pet it, and ooh and aah over it.  Why would I throw it away.  Sometimes I don’t even want to sew with it. I know many sewists who are like that.  But once I use the fabric, it’s important that I utilize as much of it as I can.  I have to get ideas from blogs and Pinterest and the internet, but I try to get the most I can out of my fabrics. Here’s the cute little pillow.

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We Love the Fair

IMG_0295This is Hannah’s science fair project.  What is the best way to thaw raw, frozen chicken to prevent bacterial growth?  That was the question and she researched and tested and concluded that using a cold-water bath is best with thawing in the refrigerator close behind.  Don’t thaw on the counter…that’s where those 700 colonies of bacteria appear.

So research gave her the best answer, and she wrote up the entire procedure, cited background and graphed results.  That project took her to the Minnesota State Science Fair.  She was one of about 500 middle and high school students asked to display their work on individual scientific research.  IMG_0297

Isn’t she cute?  As a seventh grader she was unable to compete for state awards; these middle schoolers were there for experience and sponsor awards.  Food science businesses like Minnesota’s Land-O-Lakes and Institue of Food Technologists awarded Hannah money for her excellent research and hard work.  Food scientists are important in many businesses in Minnesota as our family found out this weekend.  We are very proud of Hannah and know how hard she worked on this project. She is a very deserving student.

She and her friend Becca spent the weekend at the Marriot along with the rest of the participants.  We took the girls out for something to eat at the end of the fair and before the awards presentation.  I’m sure this is a weekend neither will forget. Hannah has a bright future.IMG_0298

Making Birthday Gifts

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I grew up on a dairy farm which meant work 24/7.  There was never a break, except on our birthday. That was the best part about our birthday; we never had to do chores in the house or in the barn. Nothing. No work. All day. It was a special day. All six of my sisters and my brother have all grown up and are off the farm so birthdays are different and gifts become more relevant in making the day special.

My mom crocheted and gifted afghans for many years.  She gifted 99 in her lifetime and she told me every time she made one she would think about the person for whom she was making it the entire time.  I know what she means.  I made this spring mug rug and two pin cushions for my sister Jo whose birthday was on the 19th.  I thought about her the whole time I was making these.  Jo embroiders. She does beautiful work.  She made me a table runner for my birthday.She was able to listen to 50 hours of Gone With The Wind as she sewed.  That’s a long time.  Of course, my simple little gift took just a few hours and cannot even compare to the gift I received from her.

But she has to know she is loved a lot and my thoughts are with her.  I hope she uses her mug rug as she continues her embroidery work.  And from one seamstress to another–who can’t use another pin cushion?

Back to the Sewing Room

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A little boy I do not know will be using this quilt as he grows into a toddler.  While in California a Facebook friend invited those who wished to, to a long distance baby shower for her sister who now lives in Connecticut.  Both she and her sister were students of mine and I very much wanted to participate.  Best part was that I didn’t have to go to a shower, but could send a gift.  Of course, I love making quilts and baby quilts are so fun and easy.  I wasn’t home in time to get the quilt made and in the mail by the deadline, but I got it done and sent, not in time for the official opening of the gifts, but in plenty of time before the baby arrives.

The name of the pattern is Dapper, from Camille Roskelly. It’s a bit bigger than a baby quilt so he can use it as a toddler in a youth bed.  I hope he uses it for many more years than that…

I tried something new on this quilt; I used a stencil to mark and quilt a border.  I used a water soluble marker and stitched over the lines.  The first border I sewed isn’t so great, but once I got the hang of it, it went fine.  I used the border between the columns and around the edges. I quilted the pinwheel columns with straight lines spaced at various widths. I guess you could call them organic straight lines.  I love the way it turned out, and I hope Mom, Dad, and Baby know they are loved.IMG_1209

Hockey Weekend

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This is the Coon Rapids-Champlain Park Rapid Rebels 12UB girls hockey team at the Minnesota State Tournament.  Aren’t they cute?  We spent the entire weekend with these girls and their families in St. Cloud Minnesota.  Hockey is serious business in Minnesota.

We started out the weekend with a Friday afternoon game.  The unfortunate 3-2 loss put us in the consolation bracket.  The opposing team scored the winning goal in the last minute.  Our second game was scheduled for 7:00 pm Saturday evening, but that didn’t happen.  The game prior to ours went into overtime–4 OTs to be exact.  It was a grueling game, and very exciting.  So our girls didn’t get out onto the ice until 8.  They played hard, and we were evenly matched again with a team from Buffalo.  At the end of regulation both teams had scored 2 goals.  Overtime again.  This time for 5 OTs.  Our goalie prevented 70 shots from going into the net. And after 83 minutes on the ice in three hours’ time we got a three-on-one break away to score the winning goal.  No one deserved to lose that game.

We got to play for the consolation championship.  We played Luverne even through three periods ending in a 1-1 tie. Overtime again. Really?  After playing the equivalent of two-and-a-half games last night, 12 hours later they are going into another overtime game.  It was too much.  Just a minute or so into the OT, a Luverne skater broke away and scored the winning goal.  The girls were crushed.

But what a weekend.  It had been 12 years since a Coon Rapids team had been to a state tournament; we are proud of our girls. And what an experience for them and their coaches.  Youth sports help form our kids’ lives.

This weekend gave us the opportunity to spend time with both of our grand-girls: Hannah mostly on the ice and Hailey because we had lots of downtime.  We met some great hockey parents and reminisced about Dan’s youth hockey teams from almost 30 years ago.  Those cold hockey rinks provide warm memories.IMG_1210

 

Our Last Few Days in the Desert

Now that we are home I want to document our last few days in Palm Desert.  The day after our visit to Joshua Tree we climbed another mountain.  It was not as high and not as long as Ryan Mountain yesterday.  At the end of this climb is a lighted cross. I don’t know the story of it, but it is visible at night in most places in Palm Desert.  It happened to have been Ash Wednesday, and when we reached the top about a dozen people were participating an an Ash Wednesday service.  Cool.

Kelly spent her last day basking in the sun; the sun was warm and the breezes were cool.  We relaxed in the hot tub and pool, drank a few beverages, and ate our last meal together el fresco.  John and I were as sad to see her leave as she was to go.

We found the cutest little par three golf course ever; you don’t even have to call for a tee time.  Just show up.  We walked the nine holes and carried our clubs at the foot of the snowy mountains.  Life is good especially when life is simple. Then we found a public golf course where we were able to play nine holes and got a complimentary happy hour drink.  It’s a course very similar to Mill Run, our home course.

We attended the Wildflower Festival on Saturday as the desert was just beginning to bloom.  We were told that by next week those hiking the hills will walk in a sea of yellows and reds and purples.  High winds plagued our Sunday so we shopped and drove around a bit.  Last days are bittersweet.

I can’t leave without showing off our mountain landscape. So much snow–more than we have ever seen in our 6 years here. The drought is over.  The Coachella Valley got 5.5 inches of rain in January and February this year; last year they had a total of 2 inches all year.IMG_0283

Joshua Tree National Park

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This is a Joshua Tree, and it’s not even a real tree.  You can look it up if you want to know more about it.  I just want to record our trip to this park.  Geological formations abound.  Rock formations, mountains, desert, canyons, valleys: all are in this park, and some you won’t find anywhere else in the US.  How do I even begin to post pictures?

We went on a crisp, cool, spring day, perfect for hiking and seeing the sights.  We started out at the skull, a rock formation that looks amazingly like a skull, hence its name.  We explored some great little canyons around the area and traveled down the road.  We stopped at Ryan Mountain and Kelly made us climb it.  We were at about 4300 feet and the top of Ryan Mountain is over 5400 feet.  At the top you are over a mile into the sky, but you have to walk to get their.  John and I made it about 75% of the way; Kelly made it all the way.

We walked a hidden canyon where rustled cattle were once hidden, we watched a pair of climbers repell the Big Burrito, and we strolled through a cholla (“choy-a) cactus garden.  The most amazing part of all this is that this was Kelly’s first visit to a national park, any national park.  She is 37; we deprived her as a child.  But we made up for it yesterday.  Family time is the best time.