Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Kids Being Kids, Like Kids Should Be!

How can you not smile at so much delight!

Seeing groups of kids with so much promise touches my heart and makes me realize how just the basics in life can be so important.  Safe and comfortable shelter and the love from parents and grandparents.  Clean water.  Nourishing food. Healthcare. Education and the desire to learn. Teachers who care.  Friends to bond with and grow up with.

The knowledge that no matter where you are born, you are the hope of our future.  If only given the chance that so many of us from other parts of the world take for granted, simply by the privilege of being born where we were.

We made a visit to the PCEA Academy in Nanyuki, Kenya – a private school that Craftours is helping to fund a new computer lab where these precious ones can continue to learn – to grow – to step out in the world prepared to take it on with everything they’ve got.  And we were so happy to be able to meet the teachers and the kids and see just what our helping hands were doing there.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Amongst the Samburu

Oh these beautiful Samburu women and their bright colors!

Our Quiltville Goes to Kenya group paid a visit to a local Samburu tribal village while staying at in the Samburu Nature Reserve in Kenya. The gorgeous colors worn by these beautiful people will capture you and inspire you – the ground is very sandy and the perfect neutral backdrop against a blue sky with puffy clouds.

It’s like that commercial for “Claritin Clear!” you know? VIBRANT. BOLD. Breathtaking.

The Samburu people are a sub tribe of the Massai. They live their lives as semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels.

One of the things I really strive to do when visiting other cultures is to leave my white bread American born and bred middle class blonde hair blue eyed pre conceived notions on my doorstep at home and dive in with an open heart and mind, focusing on the things we have in common and allowing differences to sink in with a different mind set than “Oh, they have it wrong and we have it right.” kind of mentality. 

So I encourage all who are reading this to leave your judgement in another room and just come with open eyes to experience what we did amongst the Samburu people.

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Visit to Kazuri Beads, Nairobi!

I’m working backwards -

But these smiles are too precious not to share RIGHT AWAY!

Our final tour on our “journey home” day in Nairobi was the Kazuri Bead Factory – and we were in for not only a feast for the eyes and hearts, but our ears too!

The whole story behind Kazuri Beads is fascinating.

Kazuri began in 1975 with two Kenyan women as a tiny workshop experimenting on making handmade beads.   And they soon discovered that there were many other women in the villages around Nairobi, most of whom were single mothers, who were also in great need of regular employment.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Just Jump In Anywhere!

This is the most AWESOME airport in Samburu, Kenya!

And this post comes with an apology.  I’ve been up since 2am – I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 8pm last night and….well you know how that jet lag spirals out of control!

No complaints here – it was worth it all the way, just that it’s going to be a bit sketchy getting back to a normal routine around here!

See this DUTY FREE shop?  (Hysterical!!)

This is the Samburu air strip, and really – that’s all it is.  A gravel runway with vendors.  And oh did we shop, unloading the last of our shillings in exhange for trinkets to bring home to loved ones.  But the best souvenirs?  Those are the smiles and memories we gathered along the way.

Still – THIS AIRPORT!  DUTY FREE!  Click to Play:

Saturday, October 26, 2019

October ‘19 Quilty Box Gift-Away!

Hello!  I am home from my whirlwind trip to Africa!

I returned last evening to a stack of mail that had gathered during the 9 days that we were touring Kenya, and at the top of the stack?  The October Quilty Box, just waiting to be opened and discovered!

It arrived that day AFTER I left, as Indigenous Peoples Day (Formerly known as Columbus Day) fell on the Monday stopping mail in its tracks.

But all good things come to those who wait, and this box is worth waiting for!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Go Plant A Tree in Africa!

One of the things I love about traveling with Craftours – it’s not just about destinations and locations.  It’s not just about shopping and sight seeing.

It’s about connection, about reaching down into your soul and waking it up to the wonders around you.

We break away from complacency and routine.  We realize that even though we hear such bad things about what is going on in the world today, that the people of the world are inherently good and all have their gifts.  They also have hopes and dreams and loves and losses.

We are far more alike than we are different.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa

This house.  The ACTUAL house!

This is the beautiful farmhouse where Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, lived between 1914 and 1931, until she left Kenya after a series of personal tragedies. I haven't seen the movie in 30 years. I need a repeat. This was fascinating - The house contains many pieces of her original furniture and our tour guide was fabulous in setting the scene for us as to what really happened here.

The grounds are lovely and I wish we could have spent more time.

the downside?  No photos were allowed inside.  But it was truly wonderful.  Not a huge house, only 2 bedrooms and one bath – but the remarkable lives that were spent here.

Karen was truly a phenomenal woman!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Oh, the Naibrobi Rain!

It’s the rainy season in Kenya.

And with it, comes the coolest of breezes, delicate and misty on the skin.  The flowers are so HAPPY!

I admit it. With this being my first trip to Africa, all I could think of was “Hot, hot Africa hot!” and when I checked the 10 day forecast just prior to packing I was breathing a sigh of relief.  Temps in the 70s to 80s.  80% chance of rain – no HOT HOT HOT!

I am sure it is of great relief to the animals, too!

We started out our morning with a panoramic tour of Nairobi by bus.  Oh my word – check this out!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Way to Nairobi!

And there were 36 of us making our way to Kenya!

Ever since I was a teen – My heart has been focused on Africa. 

My Grannie and Grandpa John (Dad’s mom and step-dad) made a journey to Africa in the 1970s. Grannie LOVED photography, and was pretty good at it even with cameras before the computerized era – when technology dictated that you look for the right conditions, reset all the settings, set up the shot, take it – and cross your fingers until you could have the film developed never knowing if you caught what you hoped you caught.

Slides were the viewing of choice back then, and oh the evenings we spent with Grandpa John going into long winded stories with each and every frame – the click of advancing slides on the carousel interrupting his speech as he’d announce “Next!”

The giraffes.  Grannie loved the giraffes so much. And every time I see something with a giraffe, I think to myself how Grannie would love this one, or that one – or what would she think of her Bonnie Belle being here now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

On Our Way -

Sunset in New York.

It was an afternoon of hustle and bustle as I made my way to JFK, NY.  Just a day to get here – nothing big going on.  That all starts TODAY with the gathering of my Quiltville goes to Kenya peeps.  I can’t wait to meet them at our airport gate!

Several have traveled with me before – it’s going to be a fabulous reunion.  Some folks will be new, and I can’t wait to welcome them in and get to know them as well.

So many thoughts have been going through my head, wondering and pondering over all of the adventures that lie ahead of us – but we’ve got to GET THERE first.

Kenya Air flies direct from JFK to Nairobi.  That makes it REALLY nice – no layovers.  But it still makes for a very long flight.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Something Quilty at the Top!

Isn’t this just SO lovely?

Yesterday’s 100 mile drive from Mouth of Wilson, VA home to Wallburg, NC was dotted with stops on the way.  And still, the only thing I’m missing is a wide brimmed safari hat that I can tie under my chin.

I think my departure to the airport in Greensboro may happen EARLY because there are a couple of places I can try before I check in.

But THIS beauty!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Three IronEZ Winners & A Whole Lotta Design Wall!

It’s time!

Let’s draw our three winners for the IronEZ spray bottle holders and get these off to our 3 lucky winners!

I’ve got one on my ironing board.  I’ve got one on my cabinet next to my machine-side pressing table -

And yesterday, I FINALLY recovered a big board ironing board, and clamped it there during the great flannel-pressing-design-wall-covering event of 2019!

Check this out:

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Duct Tape Queen! *Singing*

This is me in design wall land.

There are many reasons for covering every available wall space in the Quilting Quarters at Quiltville Inn with design wall boards, (Foam insulation board covered with flannel.) and the top 12 reasons are the 12 quilters the Quilting Quarters will hold! 

I can’t wait to see these walls covered with blocks and parts – dreams and possibilities.  BRING ON THE COLOR.  It’s far too “beige” in here as it is!

I have used foam insulation boards for design walls at my own home studio in Wallburg, NC.  Those I covered with grey fleece, and they wouldn’t hold anything of weight as the blocks got bigger and heavier with seams, so I am opting for flannel this time.

Some folks said they used staples in their own design wall experience to hold the fabric to the foam board, but I’m STICKING (see that pun there…punny! haha!) with duct tape. There are many reasons for this, but the duct tape lets me unstick and readjust until I’m certain things are a taut as I want them to be. I don’t enjoy picking out staples.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Never to Old to Learn New Things!

Photos from my new Canon SX70 HS

Take pictures of EVERYTHING.  It’s not usually the first photo that turns out.

I took this photo while we were taking Sadie on an afternoon road hike – the steep drive down from the cabin, to the road and down a bit, and then all the way back up to the top.

Believe me, it’s much easier going down than up! 

The little house below our property proved to be a great photo op – the colorful laundry on the line, the shadows on the grass…The American flag on the shed porch.

Blue Ridge Mountains.  Appalachia.

Come on mom, you are lagging behind!

I know!  But zooming in on mossy rocks is so interesting!

And this drive is so steep!

And we still have to climb all the way – UP THERE!?

I think I’ll sit right down on the drive and catch my breath.
Click to Play:

I tried the video feature on the new SX70 just to see how it would work and how long it would take for it to wifi connect and transfer to my phone.  It was really pretty seamless actually, and I was able to post it to Instagram right away.

I’m afraid you are going to get a lot more test photos over the next while.

One of the hints I got, not even knowing all the settings, is to at least know where the SPORT setting is to catch action burst shots.  That’s how I was able to get Sadie’s wagging tail at a stand still in the photo above.

This however is cell phone.

At about 12 miles an hour.

I had Emmy Lou in the cat carrier in the passenger seat next to me so she could see me and I could reach my fingers in through the grate to comfort her.

THIS is an Appalachian Traffic Jam of amazing proportions  It usually doesn’t happen line this.  I had to call the vet to tell them why I was running late. The conversation went something like this: “Hi, this is Bonnie Hunter, I’m running a bit late as I am following a long line of vehicles at 12 miles an hour.  There is tractor of some sort heading up our slow moving parade, and in the mix in front of me are also a school bus and a dump truck full of gravel.  I’ll be there when I get there.”

The response was “Oh wow, that’s a trifecta of un-passability. Drive safely!”  LOL!

I showed her the photo when I finally got there. We had a good laugh.  These roads are steep, winding and narrow and there is nowhere to pass or pull over.  The tractor thing at the front finally turned off at a side road next to a church, and we picked up speed.

Emmy Lou in not her favorite spot.

The medicine helped with the yowling.  It did not help much with the pooping (You should have seen me at a rural stop sign grabbing Kleenex and flinging cat poop out of the window to the side of the road!) or throwing up.  (Which only happened once.  ON the towel. Thank heavens.)  After that she did settle down, got quiet, and I think she actually slept part of the way.  She was even better on the way home so the next time we have to do this? I’m giving her the meds 3 hours ahead of leaving instead of 2.

Diagnosis on the growing barnacle on her side?  Sebaceous cyst. The vet lanced and drained it (totally gross. Seriously. eww.) And shaved around it to increase the air drying it out. I’ve just got to wash it once a day.  As it is in a place she can’t reach we don’t have to worry about her licking it.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger voice in my head shouting “It’s a TUMOR!” can now be quieted.  We trimmed her nails while we had her there since she won’t use a scratching post.  She got a rabies shot and we were good to go.  For the 1/2 hour drive home.  Miss sweet thing.  For 19 years old she is in great health and we should have another few good years with her.  I’m so glad we didn’t get a “terminal” diagnosis on her.

Some sewing did happen -

But not much – just a set of 5 more.

You know how I love to switch machines out.  I do I do I do.  I also brought up my darker art deco cabinet from Wallburg, to sit opposite the blonde wood art deco cabinet that holds my 301 in its cradle at the Quiltville Post Office. I moved the beautiful mahogany cabinet with the 15 in it over to the Inn how that we are on the push to get everything set up over there.

The art deco cabinets have MORE LEG ROOM beneath as it is minus a front left leg.  The fold out table sections really do add a lot of workspace, and the three drawers for storage are so practical.

The machine in the cabinet?  My friend Nancy B brought several machines to me when I was teaching in Pennsylvania in September.  I spent some time cleaning up the 201 and placed her in the cabinet this week to give her a go.  Such a quiet stitcher, and so much power!  Her main task will be for binding, but I loved piecing the Crooked Log Cabin blocks on her.  Thanks, Nancy!  The little Singer 99 machines are going to live at Quiltville Inn as loaner/back up machines for retreaters. They are the perfect size and so easy to run. And no bobbin cases to lose.

And do you see what I see to the RIGHT of the cabinet?

My IronEZ #2 has found a perfect spot next to my machine-side pressing table!

I love that the clip has a wide range of adjustability and the thick rubber grips in the top and bottom of the clip won't harm my vintage sewing cabinet - where I've got it clipped here.

No more spray bottles will be taking long drops to the floor, and the holster fits numerous sizes of spray bottles including your Best Press, Flatter, spray starch in a can, fine mist flairosol bottles, and even a beverage water bottle! (Hydrate hydrate hydrate!)

If you'd like to win one (USA addresses only please) enter to win on this past Wednesday's blog post. Drawing to happen Monday!

And SURPRISE!  We will be drawing THREE LUCKY WINNERS!

You can order them directly at myironez.com and save 15٪ using coupon code BH15off on the checkout page!

October is still in full swing!

And so is the half-price sale on my Punkin Patch Table Runner pattern, only $4.00!

You could be stitching pumpkins by lunch time! NOTE - you do not need a PayPal account to make a purchase Paypal jus just my credit card processor.  You can use your regular credit card as a Paypal Guest.  You can also do an Echeck this way.  Just follow the illustration directions found partway down the front page of the Quiltville Store.

And with that, (and very slow internet this morning) It’s time to get this day up and going.  It’s Design Wall Saturday – I’ll be covering foam insulation boards and getting them ready to install – ONE STEP CLOSER!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Vintage broken dishes in a nine patch quilt found in North Carolina.

Every day is a brand new chapter. We can fill the pages however we want to.

The past doesn't dictate who we are becoming.

Welcome to the weekend, folks!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag!

Downtown Independence, Virginia!

Side view of the old 1908 Courthouse as seen from the steps of the NEWER Grayson County Courthouse.

I was down here yesterday to take care of all of the tax and business license stuff for Quiltville Inn.  Let’s check all of those boxes and consider them done.  We are good to go!  Yippee!

What was so funny – as I explained to Larry, the Grayson County Commissioner of Revenue (Now that’s a title!) just what we were doing I was reminded of how wonderful small town living is, and how everyone knows everyone and they are genuinely interested in what folks are doing to create their own kind of happiness.

“I purchased the old Field’s Mansion in Mouth of Wilson a year and a half ago with the intent to turn it into a Quilter’s Retreat.  I also plan on teaching workshops there.”

“Oh, you are the one who bought Aaron Floyd’s old place?” (the previous owners.  LOL!)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Cooler Nights are Made for Quilting!

I thought I was making good progress on this – but – what?  Oh, Emmy Lou Lou, how am I supposed to get ANYTHING DONE?!

Yesterday was a blur.  That’s all I can say.  From the time I cooked breakfast to the time I toddled the 7 miles home to the cabin, it was just many hours of scattered go go go.  The kind of day where you don’t feel like you accomplish much of anything.  A bit of this, a bit of that – the proverbial “keeping all plates spinning” while trying to keep any one of them from flying off its stick and crashing to the floor.

My brain kept saying “Too much! too much! too much!” And I had to remind myself that I can only do what I can only do.

So at the end of it all, stitching in the evening is what it took to finally calm my heart and soul.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

IronEZ Gift-Away, and a Whole Lotta Painting Going On!

Have I ever got a give away for you!

I received 3 MORE IronEZ  Spray bottle holders in the mail.  I was so sold after the first one that I immediately thought of where else I NEED to put one. 

The adjustable clip can fit a multitude of thicknesses – this will even clamp to a table top, tray or big board.

It fits and corrals a multitude of favorite bottle sizes – and the free bottle that comes with it has even a finer mist than the traditional trigger spray on Best Press. 

I am just this sold on the product, and the kind folks at IronEZ are offering a 15% discount to my readers – AND – we are giving away one! (Due to shipping, this gift-away is available to USA residents only please.) 

Someone is going to save themselves from knocking that spray bottle off of their ironing board ever again.

Here is the back story behind IronEZ:

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Virginia is for……Quilters!

Die, Kudzu, Die!

For those of you unfamiliar with the south – you might not even have a clue of what the heck KUDZU is.  Just think of it like the old Jack & the Beanstalk legend – this leafy green vine grows at incredible rates – it’s true!  You can actually WATCH it grow (up to a foot a day!) until it covers everything in its path, turning anything that stands still into topiary sculptures. 

It will grow up the tallest tree, and then grow back down to the ground again forming curtains of green around everything.  It is comically (and non-comically as it has consequences) known as "the vine that ate the South."

Monday, October 07, 2019

Thank You SEW MUCH, Ladies!

I’m back home in Wallburg!  My flights went smoothly, and my feet where touching down in Greensboro by 7pm.

Grab the suitcases, locate the car in long term parking – head home and crash.  Running the four-airport-gauntlet can just wear a girl out.  But it is the best kind of worn out, and as I look at this photo and all of the faces in it I am so happy that i got to spend 3 days with these wonderful, amazing, kind, funny, talented folks.

And I hope that some day we can do this all again.  And I’d come earlier.  And play LONGER!

Saturday, October 05, 2019

A Friday in the Punkin’ Patch!

We are having THE BEST TIME!

It’s one thing to give this class as a one day, hurry up, get all the parts done, all techniques covered in the span of 6 hours.

It’s quite another when you get to ease into production starting on a Thursday evening after a lovely dinner – and then on in to Friday, spacing out the demos between smaller groups and realizing there is no worry, no hurry and folks can work at their own paces – 

We want happy pumpkins, not tired, hurried, regimented ones!

Friday, October 04, 2019

From Coast to Coast and a Bit of Quilt-Cam!

Salt Lake City in the sunshine!

My travel day from the east coast to the west started at the sound of my alarm going off at 3am to get me going.  It was a four airport day, a three time zone change but it was worth it for all the fun stuff going on this weekend in Pleasanton California for the 19th Annual Alex Anderson Fall Retreat!

It was one of those days that starts with a hiccup – after leaving the house at 4am to arrive at the airport by 4:30am to check my bags, head through security, find my gate – the announcement came over the speaker that maintenance had been called to check a switch. This caused a delay.  Would I make my Detroit connection? Or would this be the start of a domino effect that could topple the whole itinerary?

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Nov/Dec ‘19 Quiltmaker Gift-Away!

Here I am, on the road again – flying coast to coast to sunshine filled California, to teach for Alex Anderson’s Fall Retreat in Livermore!

Oh, someone pinch me, this is just a dream come true.  I love Alex to bits, it’s been too long since we’ve been in the same place at the same time, and I am going to be spending the weekend with 40+ quilters deep into the string piecing of Punkin Patch from String Frenzy!

And since my flight leaves extra extra early and I was in the need of writing a post ahead of time, what better time is there to offer up this fun Gift-Away, and draw for our winner when I return on Monday.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Crooked Courthouse Steps!

It all started with The Plague.

Okay, so it wasn’t really the PLAGUE – but a round of bronchitis, double ear infection and sinus infection that may as well be forever known as the 2019 Trifecta of Death.

But something happens when I’m under the effects of copious amounts of antibiotics, cold meds and Nyquil.  I QUILT!  

In fact, I can’t even TYPE NYQUIL without turning it into NYQUILT and then have to edit it.  So there you go. Enough explanation.

I love my string bins more than life itself.  The depths are bottomless and full of so much variety that it is a complete joy to dig in and see what I can find and sew into good use.  And that’s where this whole saga of a tutorial starts.  The strings.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Well, Hello October!

It appears we have a bear that likes salt licks.

And although I find bears fascinating from afar – (Like in a ZOO – behind walls.) I am terrified of bears in my front yard.

I take that back – I know they are amazing, and nature is wonderful, and they can live on any part of this 42 acres of mountainside we call home in Southwestern Virginia, but please – stay where I can’t see you!  My biggest fear is they will catch me unaware when I am leaving the cabin for the car, or opening the garage or what have you.

I do know that these little black bears are more scared of us than we are of them – but the story still holds true.  Don’t get between a mama bear and her babies.  And this one is about a teenager in age from what we can guess.

And this was in the DAYLIGHT – not sneaky in the night time.  Oy!