Archive for January, 2010

Things To Do…

…on a cold winter weekend…we woke up to 18 below on Saturday morning, not unusual for us. I am getting whimpier as I “mature.” So what does one do inside on a cold winter’s day in Northern Wisconsin?

You can always poke around blogland – lots of new quilting-related blogs are popping up and I finally had a chance to check a few out. New to me and quickly added to My Favorites List…

Dragonfly Quilting – check out Sharron’s new site – her quilts are fantastic and full of rich, vintage-look fabrics –

Minick & Simpson – more wonderful quilts from great designers – so much motivation!

Jane Kirkpatrick – This remarkable writer has a long list of published books & a great blog! More about her in a minute…

You can read books…I just finished “Somebody Knows My Name” by Lawrence Hill – thanks Pondside for the recommendation. If you read historically based books add this to your list…it is a tough read with heartbreaking, brutal descriptions of the slave trade in the 1700’s & one woman’s determination to survive & most of all be treated as a human being. It covers a lifetime – from Africa to America & on to Nova Scotia and beyond.

Finally after a 2 year wait – the final installment of the Wilderness series by Sara Donati – The Endless Forest. I have read the first five novels – more history again – my first love! It follows the generations of the Bonner family based on the family lines from The Last of the Mohicans. You could call this saga a “rollicking” adventure series. Great stuff!

And back to Jane Kirkpatrick – can’t figure out where I have been?? Just discovered this gem of a book…

A description of what life was like in the Aurora Colony in Oregon – included are a number of photos of quilts (also describes food preservation, furniture making, community service, etc.)

Love those prairie points on the log cabin quilt and check out the pooches…just a charming book – lovingly written.

…only to find out Jane has written so many stories – I will seek these out one by one – what a treasure chest!
I tend to be slow at embracing some of the new technology – don’t think I will be owning an eBook in the future, although the new Apple iPad sure looks cool. (And I do love my iPod Touch very, very much!) But there is just something special about actually picking up a book and turning the pages…the feel of it in your hands, the smell of the paper, the colors of the dust jacket…how about you? Are you like me? I have had a passion for books as far back as the memory goes. A good day shopping is to come home with new quilting fabric and a precious book. Our family has books loaded on the shelves in the loft, down to the basement and not to mention the quilting-related books I have collected over the years. One of the best moments with our son when he was small – before his bedtime, bathed & in jammies, curled up on the sofa and reading to him.  I read in the car, the doctor’s office, while getting the oil changed, my favorite chair, on the bar stool by our kitchen island and the treadmill.

A few years ago, I stitched a redwork dolly blanket for my Mom’s doll collection. Embroidered on the matching pillow were these words…
“Richer than I
You will never be
I had a Mother
Who read to me.”

Another great way to spend a cold day? Screwing up the borders on a quilt top! And then doing some reverse sewing…that can take up a real nice chunk of time…

Oh – and do I ever love my new Bendable Bright Light – all the comments and feedback I got earlier were right on! How did I ever get along without one…thanks for your input!

How will I spend the day? – My sewing basket is packed and I am off to join friends at a Sew-In – good times, good company…

Hoping where ever you are, there are lots of fun things for you to choose from…life is filled with so many riches – right at our fingertips…make the most of your day.

If you do run out of things to do on a cold day…

Find a little square of sunlight coming in the window and a comfy little bed –

When you wake up…

Always take time to stitch…


Reproduction Civil War Soldier's Friend - made by Roger Z. out of applewood


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Such an odd weekend, weather wise, here in Northern Wisconsin…I wasn’t really sure what to title this week’s journal posting. The weather forecast was for a nasty mix of stuff – so we decided to stay put at home by the fire. Looking back, it was a sound decision. We went from fog, heavy mist, blowing winds, to icy mist and finally this morning – back to a regular winter…a heavy snowfall. So much for thoughts of my little potting shed…I do miss being out there.

So guess you could say we have had a smattering of everything – much like my thoughts and activities of the last 2 days…spent most of Saturday morning in the basement defrosting and straightening the big freezer, organizing Christmas storage boxes and cleaning the dog grooming area (which by the way contained little dog fur but a lot of shotgun shell cleaning material – little beads of something that had been spilled by DH – go figure.)

By afternoon I was ready to head to the sewing room and finish up two more of those “Jenny Pockets” I talked about last Thursday.

This will be a gift for a friend…just needs a dried bouquet…

I bought yardage of the vintage look red print – Portabello Road/Moda – thinking about more applique – it is such a beautiful piece!

The 2nd one is for me…it hangs on the guest bathroom door – I am a nut for designs with pine cones…the sink, tile counter top and wall paper border reflects that…

Thought the door needed something with pine cone fabric. The eucalyptus is temporary until I can find some pine branches that will work.

And finally finished the 2nd applique block in the Elizabeth’s Pride project – it’s okay – or as Mary Ellen Hopkins says – “if it looks good from a galloping horse…”  but I can see some issues with it. This is, afterall, a learning experience and is part of my dedicating 2010 as the Year of Learning Applique.

Part of my struggle is just working with colors – give me a scrap quilt and two brown paper bags – one for lights and one for darks and I can go forever. But applique is so much more structured and defined…and you have to be thinking about the placement of the blocks overall – not putting a bunch of heavy looking blocks next to each other; or trying to coordinate your color pallet to achieve some kind of continuity. Well, 2 blocks down and 12 to go…so much to learn. The wonderful thing is – I have some dear friends who are really accomplished appliquers and give so freely of their knowledge and support. Quilters certainly make up a special Sisterhood. There is nothing quite like it anywhere!

I will close tonight with an image of one of my antique sewing notions – this is a chatelaine which is Shaker made. The ribbon was once blue and is now faded. It is silk and was made by the Shaker Community. The Shakers raised their own silk worms. The chatelaine is composed of a ivory bodkin, a silk strawberry emery, a wooden darning piece used to mend gloves ( originally painted cream, the paint is old and flaking off) and is linked together with the ribbons woven through ivory rings. I found it in an old wicker sewing basket which I had purchased for $2.25 in Red Wing, Minnesota years ago. Neither the dealer or myself was aware of the significance of the chatelaine at the time. Wouldn’t you love to know the whole story behind this piece? I wonder what it would tell? And did the owner…

Always take time to stitch…


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Thoughtful Thursday…

What are you thinking about today? The coffee is on so come sit a while and visit…

Before I share a few quilty things with you – just thought you might “get a charge out of this!”  If you are like me, no doubt you have your own little tool kit handy, complete with screwdrivers and a “lady size” hammer.  You feel confident enough using the basics in most situations. I get a tad nervous though when it comes to those black and red cables you need when faced with charging a car battery…which color goes where? Will I blow up the car? My DH found this in one of his guy catalogs and decided it would be perfect for me.

Pretty straightforward to use – just plug it into your cigarette lighter and this little box will recharge your car battery for you.  When you have the car running again, leave the box hooked up for a while and it will automatically recharge itself for the next use (hopefully you won’t need it for a long time!) No messing with black and red cables under the hood and needing another vehicle to help start you up. I think every woman who drives should consider one of these – makes you even more self-reliant!

Now – quilty things – or how to use fat quarters to make a clever and easily constructed gift for someone or yourself. Hop over to Jenny of Elefantz (she is part of that wonderfully creative group – Among the Gum Trees) and download the instructions for her “Jenny-Pocket.”  You will have to go back to the 2009 Archives and click on the icon for Among the Gum Trees – free patterns.  The illustrations show this cute pocket done in stripped pieced Christmas fabrics and attached tag that reads “Noel.” Soooooo – since I was running so far behind with Christmas gifts, I used vintage look fabrics from “Mary’s Muslins” instead.  Less seasonal…but you could use all kinds of fun fabrics for spirng, Easter, Fall, etc. Needing to get these gifts finished under a deadline, instead of strip piecing the main unit, I just cut my fat quarter to size (18″) square. Then I went into Print Shop and found a font I liked and traced that onto my fabric tag. One of my monthly stitching groups is called Garden Buds so I embroidered that onto each tag. I gave these to the girls yesterday when we met.

I have a couple more to make – another gift and think I will make one for moi.

If you have pets – you will understand…about 4:00 a.m. the other morning, DH got up to let one of our girls out…he kept feeling something cobwebby on his leg as he went down the  stairs. When he got to the bottom of the steps, here stood our “middle-child,” Molly – wrapped round and round with red thread…she had apparently brushed up against a trailing length off a spool that was in my sewing basket on the chair. The thread somehow got caught on her and unwound all the way up the stairs, back down again and around her legs. Not sure how many yards we are talking – but this is part of the clump we retrieved. Poor little girl – just patiently waiting for someone to come and unwind her…..

And so, the quiet days of January continue – with a few silly moments thrown in to keep us light…

Weather for the weekend sounds dismal…a mix of icy rain and snow…thinking our frig is pretty well stocked as is the sewing room so life should be okay. Hoping to show you a completed 2nd applique block on Sunday…stay tuned.

Would love to hear what is going on in your creative thoughts today…and that you

Always take time to stitch.


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A Sunday Loaf…

It is hard to match a loaf of fresh home-made bread isn’t it? No matter what method you use, the process brings comfort and we would be hard pressed to find another fragrance as pleasant as bread baking in the oven.

Today as been filled with sunshine and “soaring” temperatures – into the upper 30’s! In mid-January in Wisconsin, no less!! But as long-time residents state – we will pay for this down the road…you can bet your brats and cheese curds on that. At any rate, it just seemed like a good day for bread making and my DH even put a jug of Sun Tea to brew in the sunroom window…now that is optimism.

While the bread was rising, I  returned to the sewing room and worked on more belated Christmas gifts…making good progress and will post a more revealing photo later in the week, once the recipients have been presented with them. Here is a little peak…

Also completed the small wall hanging for another gift – I decided to use a Sulky variegated quilting thread – Blendables in a bricky red fading to dark gray. It shows up fairly well and was sure easier on the eyes compared to using a solid black thread. Always good to have another finish, right??!!

We had special company up for lunch yesterday – my folks and a friend of our son’s whom we met during Christmas. How nice it is to relax with everyone and just visit and talk – not with that rushed feeling that often occurs around the holidays. I forgot to take a picture of our dessert, but it was a hit! Visit King Arthur Flour and click on Recipes – go to Miscellaneous and look for “Italian Cherry Bread Pudding.” What a comfort food! The recipe is simple and quick to put together. The first step is to soak the dried cherries in an orange-based liquor or orange juice…so you know right away, the cherries are gonna be real happy! Give it a try – betting you will love it.

Thank you so much for the lovely bouquet of flowers, Jena – fresh daisies and carnations in January – what a treat.

That is about it for now – kind of quiet around these parts but that is okay. Good days for sewing, dreaming and enjoying family and friends…and alittle baking on the side. Guess you could call me A Sunday Loaf (er).

Until next time – have a good week filled with things you love to do…and

Always take time to stitch…


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Bendable light feedback…

Do you have one of these? Would love to hear your thoughts – pro and/or con. Are they worth the almost $50.00 price tag? Visit bendablebrightlight to check it out…did not want to post an image in case of copyright, etc. I have been thinking about getting one of these lights and assume it is easy to install on any sewing machine?? (Mine is a Bernina 440QE.) Please feel free to post your comments! Honestly, since going on Medicare last year, it seems like all the warranties are running out on my body parts…now it is the eyes and unless I sit under my Ott floor lamp when doing handwork, nothing is bright enough anymore. There is fairly good lighting over my sewing machine area, but still…Enough with the whining! :0)

One block down and 14 to go…trying to follow through on my goal of learning applique in 2010…this pattern offers blocks with easier curves and should provide me some good lessons along the way. Those office dots sure help when making circles!

I need to head back into the sewing room this afternoon though – must do some machine quilting on this piece which is a belated gift for some friends..still going after that list of delayed holiday projects but making progress. Oh my, that is a dark background isn’t it? Should I do black quilting thread or go to a dark red – which at least I could see! Anybody want to hold a hi-intensity spot light for me??

That’s about it for now – have a fun, creative and productive week. And I look forward to your comments!

Always take time to stitch…and go Packers!


Vintage pin cushion - filled with emery

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Stash Envy…

Wanted to share an image of a quilt top my friend, Chris, has pieced. The deal is – we have entered into a “Barter and Trade” arrangement which is proving to be great fun. Chris had a number of quilt tops which were close to being finished and basically needed borders or putting the appliqued or embroidered blocks together. She also had a fabulous rustic twig loveseat that no longer fit in her home.  I really loved that loveseat…SO! I got the very enjoyable assignment to complete some of her quilt tops.

This is one happy quilt she put together – from a Buggy Barn pattern…I just love the rich reds and buttery yellows that she used.We have been cold here in the Northwoods the last few weeks and have had snow on the ground since late November. We won’t see grass until late March or April if we are lucky…the sun was shining in my sewing room window the other day while working on this quilt and the colors really revived my winter soul…

What has happened is that I have been concentrating on reproduction fabrics the last couple of years – so many in muted tones…overall my own stash is very quiet. In addition to that, some of my fabrics are becoming “vintage.” While there is nothing wrong with that, most of us enjoy a fresh approach as new color palettes appear on the quilt shop shelves. Working with another quilters color choices is just like seeing brand new fabric and can take you down a completely different road.Now I have genuine Stash Envy and will be looking for some cheery colors to brighten up my own fabrics.

As for that loveseat I mentioned – well that was what I received in exchange for the fun of finishing my friend’s borders. You may have noticed this photo on an earlier post – now you know how it  ended up on my covered front porch…and oh yes! There will be a very colorful seat cushion made by this coming Spring…maybe even a couple of matching pillows??!! The dusting of snow on it now? Blame that on a stiff North wind the other day.

Chris is also a very talented and creative altered art person – she loves using papers and trims and working with the vintage look. This is a lovely journal she made for me – I keep it out on my desk and think of Springtime.

I hope each of you have dear friends that you treasure – the gift of friendship is so precious – we thrive in their company, gain inspiration and grow as individuals…and from time to time…have a little Stash Envy!!

Have a good weekend and drop by for a visit again soon – each of you are treasures too!

Stay warm and cozy and

Always take time to stitch…


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A Quiet House…

The cookie jar is about empty; the 2 % milk is gone; the freezer is considerably roomier; no more laptop cables running across the living room rug and the guest room has returned to its “usual” status…our son has left for his return journey to Alaska.  Our shelties seem restless and wander from room to room looking for their buddy. The house is much too quiet…We had such a wonderful visit with our Dave and it went by so swiftly. The days were well balanced with visiting his friends and special family times, Grandma and Grandpa & relatives. We even took time to see AVATAR together! (Dave saw it on Monday with his friend, Jena, &  went with us again on Wednesday) Dad got the popcorn and Mother and Son got the DOTS (hey, it has to be a genetic thing!) If you don’t think this movie is your cup of tea – think again. I went in prepared to be mildly interested – at most.  Now, just send me to Pandora, let me lie under the Tree of Souls and be totally rejuvenated – new knee and all! Do yourself a favor – go see it!

Taken with iPhone

So, now we begin a New Year – a new calendar – a clean slate – with more goals than could ever be accomplished. Hopes and dreams of weight loss, feeling less tired and stiff and immediately tackling that pile of quilt projects. Being totally overwhelmed in trying to prioritize everything, I just went back to square one and decided to start with things that have a definite deadline. First out of the gate is getting a brief presentation together for this coming week. It is my turn to do a program for our monthly Liberty Ladies and I have chosen Clara Barton. Not only did she have a lifetime of service, particularly during the Civil War, but there is also an interesting Album quilt connected with her. Everything is done on the little mini-reproduction piece I have made – just need to finish the binding & get my notes in order. You can find fabrics from the Clara Barton Collection at Reproduction Fabrics. And for more information about Clara visit the Clara Barton Museum.

Our Liberty Ladies group is also starting an applique project this month using Lori Smith’s pattern…this is my starter color palette…

At the same time, I am also finishing up borders on 2 quilts for a friend, which are long overdue because of weeks lost to the “Green Cast.” And still need to finish up some gifty things!

One of my goals in 2010 is to work on my basic applique skills –  requested and received Elly’s Applique CD from DH – have all ready viewed it once and look forward to watching it again & again. You get the feeling that you are sitting right next to Elly and enjoying a personal lesson in hand applique. She is such a calm, relaxed instructor and goes over every little detail with tips. Also included is an autographed notecard in her lovely script.  Visit Elly Sienkiewicz for further information.

So much to do – how can anyone be bored?? It always amazes me when hearing someone state they are bored…try making something new in the kitchen, read a book, listen to beautiful music, be outside, even in our winter…there is so much beauty surrounding us, get together with friends and for so many of us who  love the feel of fabric, needle and thread…

Always take time to stitch…


Antique child's sewing basket - silk drawstring top

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