Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Wonderful Day

What a wonderful day.  I have the beauty of flowers to see, the sound of rain to hear, good food to taste, laughter of friends and the company of my wonderful husband.  And I'm thankful for all my blessings on this day. 

A late Merry Christmas to all and a wish for a New Year filled with happiness and good health.

Y'all take care.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Played Santa

Took a little road trip earlier this week to deliver the quilts I'd made for my siblings.  I think they were all suitably surprised and pleased.  It made me feel really good to be able to give them something so totally unexpected.  However, since I made a quilt for brother # 4 last year, he didn't get another one this year.  That's just the way it is -- I'm not that magnanimous!  
For my sister-in-law, widow of oldest brother

For Sister # 1
For brother # 3
For brother # 2
Brother # 4 (Last Year)
For Sister # 2
It was very nice for me to get to see all my brothers and sisters within a few days before Christmas.  I spent Monday night with one brother and then Tuesday night with a different brother.   

I haven't sewn a stitch since I finished the last binding!! 

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I wish you Peace. 

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Riding and Swimming

Oh, my!  How the time has flown.  There's been lots of activity around our house and we've been on the road, too.   Only one day after I returned from the quilting retreat, we took off to Iowa to visit the kids for Thanksgiving.  Although we were gone over two weeks, we were very busy the whole time.  That 1072 mile trip (one way) seems to get longer each time we make it.  Thankfully, we did not have any weather issues to contend with.  

After spending the holiday weekend with the kids, I took off to Minneapolis to visit an old friend.  I sure do miss that woman.  We've been through a lot together in the past 25 years or so.  Her new love is riding.  She took me to the stables with her for her lesson on English riding and dressage.  She's looking into buying her own horse and had one at the stables "on loan" while deciding whether to buy or not.  He is a gorgeous animal but is absolutely huge.  Not fat, but very tall at 16.3 hands.  

Here's my friend standing behind the horse.  She's about 5'9" and you can't even see her head over his withers.  Can see only the very top of her helmet.
Ollie is a beautiful thoroughbred.  Tall but very narrow, so don't know if he will work out for her in the long run or not.  May not be the right fit physically.
That is not the most technically beautiful photograph but it shows the horse's lines. 

On our way home, I spied a flock of wild swans and just had to stop for some pictures. 

Bottoms up!!!
The visit was way too short but you take what you can get. 

Y'all take care. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Retreat Treasures

My life has been a whirlwind the past week or so.  My quilting retreat was beyond fabulous.  I don't think I've laughed so much in a few days in my whole life.  I'd turn around and do it again tomorrow if I could.   We sewed, we laughed, we gossiped, we ate (boy! did we eat), we sewed and we laughed some more. 

We had a fashion show that would put the catwalks in Paris to shame.  And, yes, they said we could post their pictures.    The dialogue was priceless.

Our competitive juices got to flowing during the jelly roll race.  Now, I'm not talking about eating jelly rolls, but we probably could have done that too with all the wonderful food served to us.     The race entailed taking strips of fabric called a jelly roll, sewing them end to end and then sewing them edge to edge.  Fold and sew edge to edge again for several more times.  You wind up with a lap sized quilt top.  I think our illustrious winner took a whole 43 minutes or so to make hers.  I came in third because my stinking little scissors wouldn't cut fast enough!!!   Its time for a shopping trip to find some new fabric shears.    And, would you believe I didn't take a picture of my own top?  I guess my reasoning was that since I was taking it home with me, I could get one later.  That's the only thing I can figure out.  Anyway, here's one of the lovely products of our race. 
Lois's Jelly Roll Race quilt top 

We were also treated to a trunk show by some wonderful ladies.  They design quilts and also design and hook wool rugs.  I've been interested in that craft for a while but never had any idea how to access the learning of it.  Now I do!  I really need another expensive hobby don't you think?   

I was totally awed by a true treasure, Ms. Bettye Kimbrell, who demonstrated the art of Cherokee Leaf Pounding.  The artistry she exhibits with her work is outstanding.  I can see some of that in my life also. 

I know some of my fellow thread catchers stop in here and I want every one of you to know just how much I loved spending time with all of you.  And I can't wait until the next time. 

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Running Away a Few Days

I'm off in the morning for a quilting retreat and I can't wait!!!   A bunch of us from all over the eastern U.S. are gathering  for a few days of girlfriend time.  Now just how much sewing gets done is a whole other question.   :)    I'm not taking the computer with me, so I'll be unplugged for a bit. 

Y'all take care and I'll be back soon. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Days of Autumn

I'm sorry I've been missing in action, but here's a little update of life on the home front these days.  

We've had some very cool weather already.  Last night it was 35 degrees here at our house, which surprised me.  Today when I went to the mailbox, there were several butterflies flitting around the pentas that are still blooming.   These are gulf fritillaries.

We also have a bumper crop of acorns this year.  Never have I seen so many of them.  The squirrels can't even begin to make a dent and there are far too many to just leave on the ground.  We'd be overrun with seedlings if only a small fraction of them decided to germinate. 
This  photo was taken nearly two weeks ago, and you should see that area now.  We've begun the process of raking them up but it will be a slow process.  Where are the deer when you need them?  They'd never want to leave. 

I went to a family gathering last weekend and spent the night with my brother and sister-in-law.  He had gotten a new toy and he was so pleased to show it off to me. 
He has several tractors but this is the first he's ever had with an enclosed and climate controlled cab.  Just that morning he had worked in his pasture while it was a chilly and very windy 45 degrees and he just smiled the whole time.  He does love his toy!  

The ponies were looking fat and sassy, as usual.  They ought to, considering the pampering and  care they are given. 
It was very late in the afternoon and I wasn't able to get a good shot of them.  

I'm continuing to work on several quilts and am nearly finished with all the quilting.  I still have many hours of hand work to do the bindings, but if I persevere, I will get them done in time for Christmas as planned. 

Y'all take care.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Slump

Quilt I bought at an antique store.  
I have been working on my quilts for the siblings.  It is intimidating too, to face five quilts on a deadline.  All of them are sandwiched (top, batting and backing spray basted together) and ready to be quilted.  One is done and I'm about half way through with the second one.   I sure am loving my Janome Horizon and the space it has in the harp area.  And, I'm loving my new table with the machine inset so that the surface is level with the table.   I can't even imagine trying to quilt these things any other way.  
Made this Hunky Cowboy quilt for my friend Mary
Somehow I'm not taking any pictures these days.  Got to fix that during this gorgeous weather we're having.  

Guess I've been in a bit of a slump.  Don't seem to find anything that strikes my fancy to post.  So, hang in there and I'll try to get myself out and about and enthused about something to share with you.    

Y'all take care. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heritage Festival

Immediately following the trip to DeSoto State Park in Alabama, I spent a week camping in Blackwater State Forest in preparations for the Heritage Festival.  I'd never stayed in that particular campground before but I really liked it.  In fact, I like it much better than the one we normally stay in.

My Birdlady friend came up and spent part of the week with me.  We spent two long days covering sections of the forest for our survey.  The wildflowers are in full bloom. 

None of these pictures do them justice, of course, but they are beautiful. 

At our campground, I was visited almost daily by pileated woodpeckers. 
We also had the resident gray squirrels.  This one quickly found a few seeds that had fallen on the table when I filled a bird feeder.
I think the most exciting thing that happened all week was that I got to see Eastern screech owls live in the wild!!!   I've seen them once in captivity before.  We were sitting inside reading one night and the windows were open, of course.  Suddenly, I catch this faint call and quickly turned my head.  Birdlady wondered what happened and I told her.  

So, we gathered out flashlight and the recorded bird calls and went outside.  She told me ahead of time what to expect as we stood quietly in the dark.  She turned on the recording for just a few seconds and heard nothing at first.  Then there was a slight rustle in the leaves overhead.  She turned on the flashlight and there on a limb not six feet over my head was a gorgeous little red screech owl!!   His eyes were big and golden and he was turning every which way trying to see us.  After a minute, he flew over to another branch and there was a scuffling sound.  When we aimed the light in that direction, we discovered another one!!!!  This one was mottled brown and gray but just as gorgeous as the other one.   I got really good looks at both of them and I don't think I'll ever forget those eyes.   These guys are little - only about 8 inches tall.  Had the first one not bumped a leaf while landing on the limb, we never would have known they were there.  They make absolutely NO sound when flying.  I was listening closely and anticipating, but didn't hear a thing until that leaf rustled.   No pictures, needless to say, except those etched on my brain.

Over the weekend, the Heritage Festival was held in the park where we were camped.  One circle held heritage crafts and exhibits and the other was general exhibits.  Our Audubon booth was across the little road from the Florida Wildlife Commission's huge exhibit, so we were in a good place.  As an exhibitor, we were allowed to camp  on premises and set up our display in front of our site.  We had a great opportunity to share our knowledge of the birds in the forest with the local residents.  Of course, they also shared their knowledge with us.  Some of these folks live on private inholdings totally surrounded by the forest and they can be very knowledgeable about the animals and birds there.  

We shared our space with quilters, and since I'm a quilter, too, I was pleased to have them join us. 
There was an excellent turnout on Saturday, but not so many on Sunday. 

Fall is one of the best times to live in this area. 

Y'all take care.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hot Glass

While in northeast Alabama, hubby and I took a day to drive the Little River Canyon loop.  The canyon is carved by the Little River and is just east of Ft. Payne, Alabama.  At the end of the day, we rounded a corner and took a fortuitous turn to check out a park nearby.  Never made it to the park because there before us was Orbix Hot Glass works.   I had wanted to see the glass blowing studio but had not made an effort to locate it. 

I am so glad that we lucked up on it.  We spent at least an hour or more watching the glass artist, Cal Breed,  and his assistants creating a  couple of pieces.   Although my husband enjoyed the stay, I was absolutely enthralled by the magic that took place before our eyes.   
After picking up a small glob of molten glass, he started shaping it on a metal table.   Then the picked up  more glass which his assistants had prepared.  That was then taken to the kiln for heating. 
At first, I wondered why it took three people to work, but as they progressed I understood better.  The young lady had just started working at the studio and her job was to open and close the kiln as needed, fetch heat shields, get the wooden molds from their water baths, move the propane blow torch as needed, and anything else that was required for the artist to to his work.    The artist assistant helped with all the tasks between the basics and the actual glass work.  Actually, he also helped with shaping and heating the glass, and it was his job to take the artwork from the rod and transport it to the cooling bin.  Foolishly, I didn't get a picture of him in his Darth Vader like heat shield transporting a piece of artwork.  When you are working with glass at 1,500 degrees or so, safety is not something to be taken lightly.  
In the above picture the young woman is holding a wooden heat shield between the hot glass and the artist's arm.  It has been thoroughly charred due the the extreme heat of the glass.
After the large orb of glass was suitably smoothed, two blocks of soaked wood were used to mold the glass into smooth ovals.   After a couple of passes, the wood actually catches fire due to the heat.  It's quite a spectacular thing to see.  
Metal tools can be used to make impressions or indentations.  In this case, a new rod was heated and used to form a small protrusion that was attached to the bottom of the original piece.  As you can see above, it certainly takes all three people working harmoniously to accomplish the task.  Shortly after, the original rod was tapped and the piece was then on the new rod.   

Once the artwork has been put into the cooling bin, it takes several days for it to cool off completely.  

I was also amazed by the sheer physicality of glass work.  I never would have realized the strength required without this visit.  Molten glass is very heavy, even though there are stands and trolleys to help. 

If any of you are ever in the Ft. Payne area, I strongly recommend that you make the trip to Orbix so that you can see the same magic as me.  Mr. Breed was a very cordial man and was happy to answer any questions we had.  He's been doing glass work for seventeen years now and lives with his family just up the lane from the studio. 

Y'all take care. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Some Early Leaf Peeping

I haven't disappeared.  Just been on a little vacation and had limited internet access.  We spent this week at DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne, Alabama.  It's a wonderful place and I loved being up there.  If there weren't other obligations to bring us back south, we'd likely have  stayed longer.  

The leaves are beginning to change there.  I have more to tell but that will have to wait. 

After Monday, I'll be without internet access for a week.  Going to be RV camping still, but at more remote locations.  I'm sure that outing will produce some interesting day as well.  So, stay tuned and I'll be back when I can.  

Y'all take care.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011


It's so easy to take readers for granted and I don't ever want to do that.  
I am always so happy when I know someone new has stopped by for a bit.  
I get a great deal of joy out of the blogs that I read, and I hope you get some enjoyment out of visiting me. 

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Procrastination and Cruising 'Round Town

I’m sitting here today knowing that I need to get busy making the backings for the quilts I’m working on.  I have confirmed that I have the proper yardages, but getting them made and pressed just isn’t what I want to be doing.  Unfortunately, the backing and the basting of the quilt “sandwich” are necessary evils before quilting.

I looked into John Flynn’s diagonal piecing method for the backs, but because of their size, there’s not a lot of difference in fabric requirements between the diagonal method and normal.  So, I’ll just do the normal backings and not attempt the diagonal on five quilts on the first try.   Oh, four tops are totally done and just need a border on the fifth to have them ready.  I’m still waiting on my batting order to arrive.  Once that happens, I won’t have an excuse for not moving forward. 

I’m finding all kinds of things to distract me from the job at hand.  Do you ever do that?

On Saturday, hubby and I went into town to the farmers’ market.  It’s a ways in there, so this is the first time we’ve been.  I think we're convinced that its worth making the trip. 
It was small but held in a lovely setting and there’s certainly room to expand if it can ever grow enough to need the space.  Very little produce was available because the gardens down here have quit producing by now.  There were baked goods, plants, crafts, soaps and toiletries, free range eggs and other good stuff. 
After strolling through, we sat for a while and just enjoyed the lovely day and the beautiful blue sky. 
Pensacola is a very old city and there is some lovely architecture in the downtown area, not the least of which is St. Michael's Catholic Church just across from the market area. 
During our travels throughout the country, farmers’ markets have been a favorite pastime for hubby and me.  Everything from two or three farmers on a corner to the one in Des Moines, Iowa which fills downtown every Saturday morning with 10,000 or so people and hundreds of vendors.

After the market and a couple of errands, we headed over to Five Sisters Cafe for lunch, our first time there.  Been hearing about it for a while but just haven't gotten over to it.  Had a lovely lunch and would love to return when the music is underway.
We have been having good weather lately.  Right now it is a bit above normal in temperature but the humidity levels have dropped and that makes it a lot more bearable.    Three of us went birdwatching in Blackwater yesterday for the first time in a while.  It’s an awkward time of the year for birding.  The winter migrants haven’t arrived yet and the residents are quiet and still.  However, as we all exclaimed, it was just good to be out in the woods with the fresh air and sunshine.   Besides, we enjoy each others company.

Y'all take care.