Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hezekiah Alexander's Stone House

we had a great time visiting with Jason, Kim and her parents over Thanksgiving. It's amazing how much warmer a 3 hour drive can make you. The difference? About 10 degrees. It isn't that much in the summer, but in the winter...it makes all the difference between freezing and being warm! I also realized how much I miss all the green pine trees. They add so much more color to winter surroundings.

The area around where I live doesn't have nearly the amount of pines that SC does. We've got tons of hard woods..so in the winter time, the surroundings look like a bunch of dead sticks and twigs. This also means that you drive through the country side in full view of people's old buicks left up on blocks, old washing machines dumped at the end of the property, old farm equipment, etc. I liked it better in the summer where I couldn't see anyone from my kitchen window...just green trees.

Jason and Kim have an adorable pair of orange tabby cats they adopted a year ago as small kittens. What a pair these are! I always look forward to visiting my "grand kitties" to see what they are up to. The little boy's name is Coheed...and he has gotten HUGE! His favorite thing to do is to crawl into any available space, which includes the cabinet under the bathroom sink (where he proceeds to shred any bit of toilet paper that is within his reach!) a grocery bag, a box, and even MY duffel! I had placed my duffel on the kitchen table, packing, getting ready for our trip home, and I returned to find Coheed nestled deeply within. Too funny!

The little girl is Cambria, and she maybe small,but her motor is HUGE!! She has the loudest purr I've ever heard, and she is very affectionate.

On our way home from SC we stopped at the Charlotte Museum of History They have the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Stone House on property, and you can tour it. You know me and history! I love seeing things like this, thinking what my life would have been like 225 years ago. What they had to do just to survive, to feed a family, to preserve food. Don't get me wrong, I love my modern conveniences, and I wouldn't give them up to go back in time like that, but I still feel a connection to the past.

It was amazing to see the date stamped in the cornerstone of the house. The furnishings are original. The house was lived in through WWII, and at some point it was electrified, but it had no running water or indoor plumbing added...ever..The original owner lived here with his wife and 10 children. It is amazing that all of those children lived to adulthood. That wasn't always the case in those days.

Visiting the museum was a great way to miss out on the Holiday shopping. Or should I say AVOID IT COMPLETELY!?? I am not one of those who runs out for Black Friday shopping. Black Friday is always a day for me to just stay in and spend quiet time. It's been raining since last night, so today is much the same, and I am perfectly fine with that!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

We are off this morning to Columbia where we will be spending Turkey Day with Jason and Kim, and Kim's parents, Charlotte & Jerry.

I'm packing the car....leaving this morning because I have a dental appt in Columbia, before I can even get to the FUN stuff. I broke a crown when I was in PA, and it has taken me until now to be able to be home long enough to go home to my dentist that did the crown in the first place (won't trust anyone else!) and today is the DAY!

I'm wishing you all full tummies and full hearts! Find some down time in there some where to take a few Grateful Stitches over this wonderful long weekend! I'm not sure how long we will be gone, maybe late Friday or early Saturday. Jeff isn't coming...he has to work. Ahhhhh, Bliss.....a job for Jeff..it's been SO wonderful. *LOL*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just Quilt It....NOW!!

I finished the machine quilting on Kim and Jason's Carolina Crossroads quilt. I'm sure Charlotte will be stymied....she dropped it off to me for quilting over 4th of July weekend. What can I say about best laid intentions? It turned out REALLY nice, and when she gets the binding on, we'll get pics of it to post. Right now, I wanted her to be the FIRST to see it, so..the world will have to wait. :c)

Last night I had a VERY fun evening! Middle of the afternoon I got an email from Karen saying she had to be downtown earlier than our scheduled bee meeting, and would anyone like to join her for dinner? SURE!! Rain didn't stop me either. I managed to find Trade Street in downtown Winston Salem, and even managed to PARALLEL park in the first spot I came across. Well, mostly. I think I was too far from the curb, but the car behind me wasn't leaving much wiggle room..so I called it good enough.

I met up with Karen at Chelsee's Coffee shop, and was told that Lisa was also joining us for dinner. Because Sweet Potatoes was closed monday nights, we ended up at a little Irish Pub place called Finnegan's Wake. YUMMY FOOD! I had the teriyaki beef tips, sauteed veggies, and grilled asparagus. I know Teriyaki is NOT Irish, but hey...it was the special and I was in a special mood!

From there we walked back up to Chelsees to meet with the other Ms Bee Havens for our monthly chatter-bee. There were only a couple of us doing needle work, so that's why it was more of a chatter-bee than a quilting bee. I'd never been to Chelsees before either, but I really enjoyed it..they have a sitting area in the back with a fireplace, comfy couches and chairs and we had a good visit for about 2 1/2 hours!

Chelsee's also displays work of local artists in the shop, hanging things on the walls. A couple months (?) ago, Karen displayed her art quilts, and now Lisa has her traditional quilts hanging there through the month of November. I'm so proud of these girls! Their work is top notch.

I was able to finish the hand quilting on my Crossed Tulips machine applique. It's SO FOLKY...I just love it! I did the hand quilting right through everything, appliques and all, and I tell you...that starching everything stiff before machine appliquing was just the ticket. The starch washed out, the appliques are soft, I had control with the machine. I'll definately be exploring more of this.

I also want to admit that I quilted this one from the BACK also. Crumbs are so busy to try to see black thread through, especially since I was following Tonya's lead and freehanding my fans. Chalk lines make it easy to see what you are doing, but freehanded? I could see better by quilting the quilt upside down. So I did! I guess that might make it look like a left-hander did my quilting because from the front the fans go the opposite direction. Let them wonder!

So now the binding and sleeve are on and ready for handwork as is the label.
I might get working on stitching the binding down tonight.

The next hand quilting project? Why stop when I'm on a roll! I've basted "JUST QUILT IT" and it's ready to go. I pieced together some funky stuff for the backing. I'm not sure what I'm going to quilt where yet, because these blocks aren't uniform. I cared more about the width of the blocks than the height....and just let it be really free form. Maybe the quilting will follow suit? At any case, it's ready to go with me in the car to Columbia tomorrow for Turkey Day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday on Pilot Mountain....

If you are an Andy Griffith fan, or watched it as a kid,you will remember the town of Mayberry, RFD. Mayberry is patterned after Mt Airy, NC, where Andy Griffith grew up. The highway is even NAMED after Andy Griffith around Mt Airy!

If you remember Mayberry, you may also remember many references of trips they took to "Mount Pilot". Mount Pilot is actually Pilot Mountain in reverse, and it is a real town and mountain!

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, and so we decided to drive the 45 miles to visit Pilot Mountain. We enjoyed the vistas, did a LOT of hiking. The trails go from moderate to tough, and the stairs up and down are actually large slabs of stone. In other words, who needs a stair master??

The "Knob" of Pilot Mountain, or the "Big Pinnacle" as it is named is just breathtaking. There are trails that go all the way around the base, and we walked that yesterday. It was icy chilly in the shade, the kind that makes you want to draw your hands up inside your sleeves for warmth because you didn't think you would need your gloves! But as soon as you got around the sunny side....out came the hands, and down went the coat zipper!

After hiking around Mount Pilot, we drove to Mt Airy (AKA Mayberry) to see the downtown. Of course, like all good southern small towns, it is all closed up on a Sunday, but it was fun to see things like Floyd's Barber Shop, and Opie's Candy store! We will go back on another day when places are open. They even have an original Mayberry police car there, but we didn't stay long enough to see it.

Of course, the antique malls I wanted to visit were closed as well. Probably a good thing! Besides...I had family with me, and they would have moaned and groaned to all get out if I had made them tag along ;c)

I spent the late afternoon/evening cleaning my sewing room. Oh MAN did it need it. I dusted, arranged, re-arranged, de cluttered, EVERYTHING. I'm settling back in to being home.

While I was cleaning, I caught a couple funny shots of Oscar. I have a bin on top of my file cabinet behind my desk armoir door...I guess he thought it was a small cozy place to take a nap! What a Gomer :cD (And yes, another nickname from the Andy Griffith Show!)

Would you believe that today I am MACHINE QUILTING!?? Is it like riding a bicycle? Will I have forgotten how? I have Jason & Kim's Carolina Crossroads on the machine. I want to have it done to take to Columbia with me for Thanksgiving. So funny, when I told the kids that if Charlotte (Kim's mom) did the piecing, I'd do the quilting..and she said it would take TEN YEARS. Well, the person who took the longest was ME. I guess I couldn't help being gone, but I'm sure wanting this quilt done for them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

3am Hotflash.....Done!

My two boxes came from Wisconsin....the stuff that wouldn't fit into my luggage :c) Along with it was the 3am hotflash quilt that only needed the binding finished,and the sleeve sewn down. I finished it yesterday while watching a movie on TV..with my feet up in the recliner.

I gently washed the quilt, and blocked it to dry. I really like the crinkly texture of cotton quilts when washed. The quilting just sinks in and the detail comes to life, playing against the patches.

Today is bright and clear,but cold for NC in November! It was only 25 degrees this morning. Patches of snow were still there along the interstate as I went to go do some shopping and errands, the patches hidden beneath the limbs of evergreens and hardwood trees, places where the sun couldn't reach to fully melt it yesterday.

And HA to me....I thought I was leaving all this stuff back in Wisconsin and Detroit, and here I seem to have brought cold and snow back with me!

Never mind....it makes it feel more like Thanksgiving. I even hung a Christmas stocking today :c) This one was a gift from Patsy of Middle of Nowhere where I enjoyed being a guest during my time in Wisconsin. I love this stocking SO much Patsy! I keep looking at the patches, the corners chopped off, the interesting quilting design in the alternate blocks. I wish I could know this lady (or this young girl?) and how she came upon her quilting designs...

I've got a fire going in the wood stove...a pot of soup in the crock pot, no where else I need to go today, and the machine is calling me for some more 3.5" stringy crumb blocks. How many do I have so far? Almost 180! They are safety pinned in groups of 10, which makes them easy to count. Do I know what I'm doing yet? Oh, I have some ideas...maybe it will be a whole series..*LOL* All I know is that basket I showed the other day is still not looking at all DOWN. 180 blocks, all with 5 to 8 pieces in them...that is a lot of pieces given purpose, you know? But it is not making a dent. There are still lots of LITTLE pieces left. Little triangles and such. I've been using them for the corners of the string blocks,but I'm also thinking of something I can paper piece with them to give them purpose as well. Maybe a small pineapple or a flying geese block? I wonder....just how many quilts I can get out of this stuff??

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feeling Crumbie....

This is the kind of day I've been longing to have for MONTHS. I am NOT going anywhere...doing anything.....but maybe going out for a walk in a bit.

I am sewing crumb blocks. Maybe they are really more stringy than crumbie, but the size means I can use lots more small pieces. The blocks are 3.5" unfinished.

Do I know how I want to set them? NOPE. How many I want to make? NOPE. I just want to be in my room mindlessly sewing, listening to Lifetime Movie Network while I sew, making a complete huge ole mess, and making a pile of blocks that will become "something, someday."

I've been living with lots of deadlines and lists and itineraries. Today is mine. To do nothing but sew! I'll worry about the other upcoming stuff later. I think I really do need at least one "mental health" day just to play!

Oscar and Chloe are here with me, as you can tell, they are not quite impressed with my progress. :cD

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

...If I Had A Hammer.....

Remember that song?

"If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin' I'd hammer in the evenin' All over this land..."

Well, that's how I've been feeling. Ever since getting the walls painted, and my efforts to hang everything back UP.

There are at least THREE hammers in this household that I am aware of. But does ANYONE ever put them back where they got them? NO! ARGHGHG!!!!

SO..today...lookee what I bought for ME! It's Pink....and since it's PINK they better keep their paws off!

It has ALL the goodies you see on the label.....pink and purple EVERYTHING! MINE...all MINE. The first person I see who is NOT me with these pink/purple tools in their mitts better watch out.....more better yet, go find their own tools wherever they left them because I know they left them SOMEWHERE!

Cost for cool pink tool case with tools? $20 bucks.
Having my own tools when and where I need them (and PINK!)? PRICELESS!

P.S. So many people have mailed to ask where I got the lovely pink tools....where else? WALMART! :cD

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Blissful is Housework!

Yes, I'm home...so much has CHANGED in my surroundings here in the 2 weeks I've been gone! I couldn't tell last night, got home about 9:30pm, of course in full darkness, but this morning I noticed that ALL the leaves are down now, and it really feels like winter is arriving in NC...

Not as bad as Detroit though! It was snowing pretty good when we took off..we had to stop on the runway for more de-icing...get me outta there! :cD

Really, I love the snow...as long as the sun comes out afterwards and the sky is blue and...have I mentioned this before?

So what have I done all day? Laundry. Vacuuming. Mopping. Dishes. Cleaning off appliances. Grocery shopping. Bank run. Post office run. You get the idea. Tackled the HUGE pile of snail mail that has been waiting for me to come home.

The best part? I've been home ALONE all day!Jeff is at work...Dave is in Hickory...I'm HOME ALONE!! Of course I am dying to SEW, but it will have to wait until my ducks are in a row. That means luggage unpacked, house taken care of,etc.

Domestic chores are soul centering in their own right, though, aren't they? I haven't had to talk to anyone other than the pets, the phone really hasn't rang. I've had MY music on the stereo, and I'm singing along just doing my thing, putting my life back in order so I can enjoy the next month off.

Wherever I go I like to check out different teas. I just love tea. Here is a pic of a couple new ones I bought. Nothing like a cup of tea in a dainty china cup (my great grandmother's!) from a pretty tea pot. BY MYSELF!

And yes, I do love the fruity flavors. And the Vanilla flavors too. I know some don't, but I do....oh yes, and cinnamon spicy chi type teas are top of my list as well!

There may be sewing going on tomorrow....but for today, I'm not pushing it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging From Detroit!

So here I sit in Detroit, a 3 hour layover...Actually, it is not too bad because for the first time in 2 weeks I am sitting at a gate all by myself, just typing with my thoughts. Detroit looks pretty gray and chilly, in fact, my flight from Madison was delayed because they had to "de-ice" the wings. Oh...I am so happy to be going back SOUTH!!

I don't mind the cold..but ice is tricky. I don't mind the snow as long as the sun comes out and the sky goes blue and sunny, but that gray stuff that lingers for days, where it feels perpetually 4pm all day long...that drags on me.

I've had a WONDERFUL time. You know, I got to meet people that I've only known through blogging and internet groups, and it is so fun how they appear just how they do in email. I think conversation and communication really is the key to knowing someone. I felt right at home with these ladies because we have worked on this trip for the past year or so...and it went off without a hitch.

I have my camera card in the computer...but I am having a hard time running the program to get them into a folder and able to edit them down. Pictures may still need to wait until I get home to deal with them, but then again..a lot can be done in 3 hours! There maybe be pictures to this post by the time I am done!

The first thing I can tell you is that I was able to finish the hand quilting on 3am hot flash! The binding is in progress. I packed up a couple of boxes to UPS home so I didn't have to deal with excess baggage. They won't beat me home, but should be there by wednesday, so you'll get pics of that then.

I have started the hand quilting on my crumb-y tulips and that is going fast. I'm quilting it from the BACK because I am quilting with black thread and it is easier to see what the heck I'm doing. I just couldn't see the stitches in the miriad of fabric scraps and crumbs in the front.

(AS I'm sitting here, I'm uploading a slide show to webshots..yeah!)

Here is the first slide show, mostly Illinois, a bit of Wisconsin, all before the Madison retreat.

I have to tell you about the most amazing experience....okay, it was ALL amazing..but I was able to travel to Patsy McClusky's Homestead Retreat.

It really IS an authentic old cabin turned into a wonderful retreat center that sleeps 24! I was able to spend one afternoon sewing before we had to go to Spring Green to do a lecture/trunkshow at Spring Green, Wisconsin. I wasn't sure how many people to expect, we were holding it at Arthur's Restaurant, and like Patsy's blog says..it's the "Middle of NOWHERE." Imagine my surprise when BUSLOADS of quilters started arriving!

Guilds had chartered busses and had a grand time talking and luaghing and singing and visiting from outlying areas to come to our trunkshow! One bus almost hit a deer...so that was quite the talk of the town for a bit, but I also understand that deer are like squirrels out there...everywhere..so we shouldn't have been surprised.

The next morning I had to leave Patsy's at 6am to get to Oconomowoc (And yes, after all this time I have learned how to spell it!) for a class there. I did several guilds in the area, spending from Tuesday morning to Sunday afternoon (today) as the Guest of Cathy and Tom who hosted me in their beautiful home on the lake, fed me full, tucked me into a dark quiet guestroom, and converted me to the wonder of heated floors on a cold wintery morning...ohhhhh! My toes have never been so toasty!

The gals in the Oconomowoc area were wonderful. I feel like I've added new friends to my life! We are thinking of a retreat in 2010...will have to book that on my calendar :c)

Wisconsin Nov 2008
This slideshow includes the Janesville gal's reterat in Madison, and the Oconomowoc workshops....I am SO inspired by the fabrics that everyone was using for the various projects. Several ladies were doing theirs in Christmas fabrics and I thought that was a cool idea. I neer feel like sewing for Christmas until After Thanksgiving, and by then it's too late to really do anything but create a new UFO..so...if you take a class, pull out the Christmas fabrics and away you go!

I really LOVED the Virginia Bound quilts done with the Christmas fabrics..way to go!

Okay everyone..that should catch you up just a bit. I've got another hour or so here in Detroit, but I'm going to walk around, find some dinner (Heaven forbid they feed you ANYTHING on the plane anymore, it's just a beverage) and wing my way home. I am now HOME for a full month before I leave for the Netherlands on Nov 15th! OH happy day...I'm going to S E W !!!! (I am in desparate need of more machine time!)

My best to you!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hello from Illinois!

I have been here in Illinois since Sunday evening, and have been having a wonderful time.

I could give a travelogue....but what I would rather do is focus on the relationships between women, and the bond that quilting brings.

In the first guild I visited, I witnessed quilters caring about and surrounding with love, a member who's husband had passed away this past week. I thought about the comfort and compassion that comes from our connection to each other through the stitches that bind our lives.

I can just bet that there are instances like this all across not only America, but the world, and that no matter where it happened, or who it happened to, we would be there for each other. I don't know if anyone has ever studied it, us as a demographic, but quilters come to the rescue of other quilters, no matter what the other differences may be.

Do scrapbookers do the same? Maybe..maybe with all the knitters and other groups too, there is this kind of womanshipping, but when I look at my life and try to imagine it without quilters...it would just not be such a warm and nurturing place...or a funny laugh out loud place...a place where we can talk about everything and anything and there will be someone there who has been through the same things, felt the same way, and understands.

When I think of this...I can now understand WHY quilting bees were such a necessary activity for our foremothers. I'm just feeling in awe of how comfortable it has been for me to travel from guild to guild to guild. Women have opened their homes to me, a complete stranger, and we have parted as friends. I know they would be there for me no matter what I needed, as I would for any of you. I just think this is special.

I was in Dixon up until yesterday afternoon......I left a Pineapple Blossom class at 3pm to drive to Antioch to do a lecture/trunkshow here. I got to town early enough to call up Dawn, ask her where a good place to eat was, and suggest that she come meet me. She dropped everything, just to come share a meal with me and caravan with me to the meeting place so I didn't get lost. This is what quilters do.

Today was a "mostly down" day....I just have a guild meeting in McHenry tonight, so again Dawn came and picked me up, drove me to Rockford to get mailing envelopes at Sam's Club, shared a meal with me, shared conversation and lots of laughter and much talk of projects with me. She waited while we stopped at the AT&T store to find out why my cell phone isnt getting a net connection to work. (Why is it that taking the battery out and putting it back in makes all the difference? hmmmm!)

We went to one quilt shop, and wandered and browsed, and yes, bought SOME fabric because it was half off...I couldn't do much because of weight limits, but yes, I know, I can SHIP IT HOME! :cD

As I type this, another quilter friend, Randy, is flying from California to Madison so she can help me teach at a retreat this weekend, and spend some time with me in the midst of my busy travel life. This is what quilters do. And again, I'm humbled.

I am in Richmond, IL right now..last night and tonight the guest of a Bed and Breakfast owner who is also a member of the guild. I am here by myself because she is in MEXICO..but still..she made the house available for my stay, because this is what quilters do for quilters that they don't even know. It's a lovely victorian home and I feel quite pampered. I won't even get to thank her in person.....

I know I am rambling, and not sharing pictures, but I just wanted to get my thoughts down on how grateful I am to have this connection with all of you. I stand all amazed :c)

In Stitches - - -

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How to pack it all?!

I've got the trunkshow packed...that is.... what I am able to carry, in two duffel bags weighing approx 45 lbs each. I think my jacket is going to go in one, and an extra pair of shoes in the other,and that's all going to be checked.

Still ticks me off....to have to pay to check two bags, coming and going. It just seems like a huge rip off! In the future, I'll think of it as a "Shopping expense" And instead of paying for packed bags, I'll just buy things to wear once I'm there!

But wait..I'd still have to pay to check a bag on the way home...*sigh*

Luckily I've got my clothes in a carry on. Minimal stuff. 3 pairs of pants, about 5 different shirts to go with either this or that, undies, socks. My other "personal" item holds the laptop and a project and a book. And my wallet. The purse is packed in the carry on with the clothes. And the camera. Oh...and the cell phone, the Ipod...sheeesh. At this rate we might as WELL throw in that little poratble washboard from my laundry room wall! *LOL*

The nicest kid dropped off a load of firewood yesterday. I tried burning it today, and it's still a bit green. Lots of smoke, wouldn't catch. *SIGH* It said AGED AND SEASONED in the ad! But then this kid is only about college age, and I bet he feels *HE* is aged and seasoned too, and I would consider HIM a bit green :c)

So now the basement smells a bit like a campfire from all this trying to get it to light. Don't suppose the wood will age and season over the next 2 weeks while I am gone?

Oh, yesterday I *DID* get some sewing done! I sewed triangles for the border of my Fungly Challenge. I basted 3 small projects for hand quilting....and I finished quilting the feather on 3am Hot Flash..so just the black border and outer pieced border to go! Whoopeee!! :cD Maybe I should pack some binding strips for it so I can borrow someone's machine to put it on??? And the sleeve too.."adding those to her list"