Thursday, March 31, 2016

Show and Tell

Show and Tell at my monthly guild meeting is always a treat for the eyes.  The ladies are so talented!  I look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on during the month.  The quilt to the right was made by shop owner, Evelyn Griffore.  She owns Bayview Calico Quilt Shop in Au Gres, MI.  This quilt reminds me that spring is coming!

Jean shared her rooster table runner.  I warned her that I might have to distract her and smuggle this beauty home!  It would be right at home here on the farm.  She made this for a friend of hers.  That's one lucky friend!

This pretty baby Irish Chain baby quilt was made by Dee.  What a great pattern for fussy cutting fabric to put in the center squares.

We ended our monthly meeting with a birthday party!  Nothing is better than sharing food, fabric, and friendly chatter among friends.

Evelyn is someone I am privileged to call a friend.  She is one of the women I greatly admire for her love of life and gentle spirit.  If I grow up to be even a little like her, I will be happy.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quilt Guild Challenge

I am part of the Wednesday Night Strippers Quilt Guild.   A wonderful group of quilters.  Last month a challenge was given for anyone who wanted to participate.  We were given a strip of fabric and instructed to use our creativity and make a hot pad.  The project was intended to be doable in 1 hour or less. Six members brought in a finished project.  I love how different they are. 

Made by Earleen Hubner

 Purple beauties! Made by Betty Nitz and Sandy Kata.  Take a look at those 1"x1/2" flying geese!  Made by Cathy Bush

My creation
Made by Jean Hogan

Our next challenge is to use a "new to us" product and bring back our review of that item.

Friday, March 25, 2016


 I can just hear the conversation between this little guy and the other birds hopping about the icy branches.  "Tell me again why we decided to come back to the arctic tundra?"  Mr. Robin complains to his wife.  "Dear, the weather man said Michigan has been having above record temperatures for March."  replies Mrs. Robin.  The fat sparrow, who wintered in the free-stall barn, pipes up, "Stop complaining.  You always get to winter in Florida.  A little ice and cold never hurt anyone!"  "Yikes," they all screech as they fly away, "look out! that over exuberant puppy is coming our way!"

After hearing a fantastic crash last night, we woke to this.  Thankful it didn't land on our house.  The ice looks to be a good .25 - .5 inch thick in places.

The sun is trying to peek out and begin it's job of melting all this ice.  They are calling for 40 degrees today.  Trees should be shedding their heavy load by evening.

Love the glow of the sun on the tree tops in the distance
And the sparkle of sun on ice is really pretty outside my kitchen window.  Notice I said "outside"!  I'd rather be inside on a day like this, creating vignettes.  Liking how this looks in the corner of my dining room.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Outside Frozy inside Cozy

The weather men hit the nail on the head with this winter storm.  We woke to snow and ice.  I felt bad for the farmer.  Bundling up at five o'clock in the morning to make sure the milk man could get his truck in and out of the driveway.  Took him awhile to warm up when he came back in.

On a positive note, since school was cancelled I was able to spend time at the sewing machine.  I now have all my star parts made for the Smith Mountain Morning quilt.  I am happy with the progress I am making on the units and how easily they go together.

Star parts to make......
..... this beauty!
Stay safe and warm!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Pinwheels in the making.  112 half square triangles to create 28 pinwheels!  Chain piecing definitely makes them go quickly.  Now to assemble my pinwheels.  I have them stacked in groups of 5.  I am hoping I don't mix them up as I chain piece.  I think I'll be okay as long as I have the sing song voice in my head of "top, bottom, top, bottom" to keep me pulling squares from the correct place.  These babies will be the center of my star blocks for the Smith Mountain Morning Quilt.  I am enjoying the process of piecing even these tiny things.  When your cutting and subsequent 1/4" seam is exact, things fit nicely and there's no temptation to tug or pull to make things line up.  A little care in the preparation makes the sewing experience lovely indeed.

I pinned this finished block above my machine to remind me what I am working toward.  In the workshop last Sunday we completed two blocks from start to finish.  Now I am going to make the remaining 26 blocks assembly style.  My goal is to have a finished top by the end of April.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Borders and Bindings

Borders and Bindings and Bears, o my!  Borders and Bindings and Bears!  Today was filled with adding borders and bindings to several quilts.  The above quilt will be donated to the Northern Michigan Relief Sale for their quilt auction in August.  I love the blue and brown Majestic Mountain block border. My mother-in-law did the hand quilting.

Since we have about a month until any field work can be done, she will also hand quilt this wall hanging for the Relief Sale.  I enjoy the piecing and she enjoys having something to do during the long winter evenings.

I also got my Guild's raffle quilt back from the long-armer this week.  I am pleased with the way this quilt has turned out.  We had divided the jobs out in blocks, flying geese, assembling the center blocks, and borders.  I am in charge of adding the binding.  Our next guild meeting is this coming Wednesday, and so the plan is to show it off during Show and Tell.  We will begin selling raffle tickets next month.

Whenever I have a queen or king size quilt, the living room floor is the only place I have to spread the quilt out for squaring it up.  My knees get quite the work out as I crawl around the edges of the quilt.  Following is a short tutorial on my favorite way to finish the binding on my quilts.

I always leave about a 6 inch tail when I begin sewing the binding to the quilt.  I then stop sewing when I am within about 18" of the starting point.

 Next, lay that section of the quilt as smoothly as possible on your work table.  Cut binding ends so that they overlap the width of your binding.  (I cut my binding at 2" so I cut my ends to overlap by 2").

Lay one binding strip face up and lay the other end face down, see positioning above.  Pinning helps hold the pieces in place.  Draw a line from corner to corner, and then sew directly on the line.

 Trim the corner to 1/4" seam allowance and finger press the seam open.  You can then continue sewing the binding onto your quilt.

Well, I am off to milk the cows.  After supper I am looking forward to watching a movie while hand stitching the binding down on the back of the quilt.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fire and Ice (Wild at Heart) by Mary Connealy

This is the third book in Mary Connealy's "Wild at Heart" series.  I have read the other two books in the series, but do not think I would have enjoyed "Fire and Ice" any less without knowing the stories of Bailey's two sisters.

This book is typical of most historical fiction with conflict, romance, and misunderstandings between the two main characters.  Bailey and Gage both need each other, but are head strong and don't realize how much they need each other until they join together to battle an unknown threat trying to destroy what they have built.

The only problem I had was with the flow of the story in a few places.  Several months would pass between a few of the chapters and I had a hard time catching up with what was happening.  I found myself going back to reread the end of the chapter to try and make sense of what was happening in the next chapter.  Once I figured out a few months had passed, it made sense.  It would have been less confusing if the author would put "two months later" under the chapter number, as I've seen in other books.

That aside, I really enjoyed the story of Bailey and Gage as they figured out how to become a team without loosing their individuality.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bonnie Hunter - Smith Mountain Morning Workshop

I finally have time to sit down and write about my experience this weekend.  The District win by my boys in basketball, a regional game 3 hours away, and the time change on Sunday really did a number on my body.

Sunday morning I got up early and drove the 2 1/2 hours to Traverse City to attend Bonnie Hunter's Smith Mountain Morning Workshop.  If you ever have a chance to attend one of her workshops please do!  I have been sewing and quilting for about 20 years now, and I still learned so much from her.  She is a down to earth kind of gal, and makes everyone feel comfortable and unafraid to ask even the "stupid" questions.

There were 15 - 20 minute teaching sessions and then we were sent back to our machine to work on that segment of the block.  She did a fabulous job coming around the room checking to see if we had questions or problems, but didn't hover over us all the time.  I appreciated that greatly.  Nothing makes me more nervous than someone peering over my shoulder to see how I'm doing.

Silly as it was, I was a little shy about asking for a photo with Bonnie!  These are the girls I attended the workshop along with Bonnie.  Left to right:  Jean, Betty, Bonnie Hunter, myself, and Cathy

I finished these blocks during the workshop and feel confident in using the rulers and techniques Bonnie taught us.  I am anxious for Saturday to arrive so that I can sew all day long! 

And just because I'm so proud of my 6'3" and 6'5" boys, I'll leave off this post with two pics from their District win.  I love the quote, "Most people wait all their lives to meet their favorite players.  I'm raising mine."  I am also proud of the choices they are making off the court.

Trent and Tyler with Coach DeBeau

2016 District Champions!  Go Wolverines!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Come on Spring!

Anytime I see green growing things I feel like a breath of fresh air has arrived.  This morning as I was sitting at the dining room table with my cup of coffee I noticed how much this plant has grown over the last few days. When I took down the nativity after Christmas I decided I wanted something different on this beautiful stand that my uncle Linden made.   I added the plaque to the window and a stack of books, but it still needed something.  I had this plant on top of the fridge in the kitchen and even though it was 3 years old, it had maybe 8 or 9 leaves at the most. Apparently she loves her new spot!  I'm excited that I'll finally be able to take some cuttings and create new plants for other places in my home.
Earlier this week as the temps started to climb, I took a walk around the yard and spent time looking at my flowerbeds to see what damage winter had done and to see if anything was emerging from hibernation.  The skunk smell in the air assured me that at least the critters were beginning to come out of their dens!  Sure enough, irises the farmer's grandmother had planted years ago were emerging.  There is nothing more exciting that the first few buds of spring. 

Other exciting news at our house is the accomplishment of our oldest son on the basketball court.  On Wednesday he scored his 1,000th career point in Varsity basketball.  Making him the 7th person in the history of the school to do so.  The farmer and I are quite proud of the hard work he has put in.

Because of the basketball tournament going on this week, my sewing machine has been silent.  I'm looking forward to going to Traverse City this weekend to take a Bonnie Hunter class!  I have followed her blog for quite a few years and am beyond thrilled at the opportunity to take a class.  I have my fabric all picked out for the Smith Mountain Morning quilt. Take time to check out Bonnie's blog.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bloom Quilt

I picked up some of Amylee Weeks fabric at a Quilt Show this summer.  I loved the print from her Bloom line and decided to pick up the panel and four coordinates.    With no plan in place, the fabric went on my shelf.  About 2 weeks ago my daughter was over and happened to see the fabric.  She loved the fabric.  Since she and her husband, of less than a year, had just purchased and moved into their own house, I told her I would make her a large throw as a house warming gift.

For two days the fabric lay out on my sewing table as I tried to come up with a design.  I decided that a simple four patch alternating with the panel squares would be just the thing.  What follows is a simple tutorial on my favorite way of making four patch squares.

To make a 6" square block, cut four separate fabrics 3 1/2" by Width of Fabric.  Sew two strips together, making two separate strip sets.  Because you will want your seams to nest while sewing them together, you will need to iron the seams in opposite directions.  I happened to have a gray in both strip sets, so it was easy to always iron my seam toward the gray.  

Next, place your strips sets right sides together, making sure your seams are matched so that your center corners come together perfectly.  I usually pin my strips sets together about every 5 or 6 inches to help hold them in place while cutting.  The flat flower head pins are great because the ruler can be placed over top without moving the pins.

Once you have your strip sets nested together, sub cut the strip into 3 1/2" segments.
Because they are already nested together, you can go to your machine and sew down one side using a quarter inch seam.  Open them up and tada! You have a four patch square.

Next I laid out my quilt blocks and rearranged until I liked the pattern.  I used to walk from my design wall to the machine, block by block.  This is great for getting in steps, but also takes longer to get the rows sewn together.  Last year for my birthday, my husband bought me pins with numbers printed on the pin heads.  I love them!  I put one pin in the first block of each row.

I can then stack the blocks and take them as a pile to my sewing machine.  As long as I keep the block with the pin to the left of the machine, my blocks will remain in the correct order for each row.

I generally have two rows going at the same time, so that I can chain piece without wasting thread between blocks.   The numbered pins make it easy to lay the rows back out in their proper order when I'm ready to start sewing the rows together.

This is my completed quilt center.  I just need to add borders.  My daughter loves it so far, and I'm enjoying the process of making something I know she will love and use in her new home.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The life-changing magic of tidying up

I have a life-long love with organization when it comes to my home.  Even though some may walk into my house and think things are uncluttered, I feel like so much time is taken up with stuff.  I began googling "minimalism" and the KonMari Method began showing up everywhere.  Curious about this method, I picked up Marie Kondo's book, "the life-changing magic of tidying up".

The first thing you should be aware of, is that Marie Kondo is a practicing Buddist and brings Buddist values and core beliefs into her method of decluttering, organizing, and tidying.  Although I disagree with her religion (I am a born again Christian) I was able to see the value of her method above and beyond her religious views.  For example, she talks about telling the items you are discarding, "thank you for your service in my life" and to "greet your home when you enter".  I feel uncomfortable talking to things as though they are alive, but do see the value in being thankful for what I have been blessed with.

I have always found sentimental items the hardest to deal with.  It annoys me that they take up so much space, and yet I feel bad discarding them.  Marie says, "No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past.  The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important." I want to be present in life, looking forward to the future, not stuck in the past.  Marie's habit of asking "does this bring me joy" will become a normal question to ask myself when I am working on decluttering and organizing.

I would recommend this book, as long as you are able to separate the religion with the method.  I would hate for anyone to change their faith due to my recommendation of reading this book.  It is a well written, easy to read book on the subject of decluttering.