Friday, February 26, 2010

lineage & the mayflower . . . and a quilt?

Being a member of the (relatively) full-time, out-of-the-home workforce, I don't have a lot of spare time to quilt. Not nearly as much as I'd like to have! Between work and responsibilities at home, and family, and our ministry, I'm already spread about as thin as I care to be (wish that thinness would spill over into...ah, never mind). And as much as I'd like to be able to be a "hands on" quilter more frequently, the fact of the matter is, I am not. But, that doesn't mean I don't *think* about quilting on a daily basis! I do, I do!

You may remember that yesterday, was my mom's birthday. Below is the bouquet she received . . . they did do a great job! Not *exactly* like the picture, but close. And most importantly, my mom loved them! They do look like Spring, don't you think?
So, it being an important family member's birthday and all, I got to thinking about my family and my ancestors and those who made me, well, me. I just happen to have pictures of both sets of my grandparents to share . . .
This is my Grandma Willie and Pop-pop, my dad's parents. Pop drove the back end of a hook and ladder truck for the District of Columbia's fire & rescue before he retired. Then he honed a tin can craft which was wonderful. These two were camping adventurers; they had a travel trailer that they would take out west and stay for months at a time. I loved traveling and camping with them! Our family went with them to Mexico several times, and I traveled with them to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on one trip, and to Ireland on another trip. They were wonderful, loving grandparents.
This is my Grandma and Grandpa Wadleigh, my mom's folks. Aren't they a handsome couple? Dr. Cecil H. Wadleigh worked for the Department of Agriculture and is published. They were both terribly good cooks, although when he retired from the government, he moved into the kitchen (from which she promptly retired)! I get my love of kitchen gadgets from him. They were so sweet with each other. I believe this portrait was taken around their 50th wedding anniversary. Grandma Wadleigh was a member of all kinds of things like the Daughter's of the American Revolution and The Mayflower Society and several other such groups. She was also a quilter!

Interestingly enough, from both my sets of grandparents (and both my parents, accordingly), I inherited a legacy that traces back to the Mayflower. Pop Fowler and Grandma Wadleigh both had ancestors that made that harrowing trip from England and made a life in what would become these United States of America. Pop and my dad trace their lineage back to William White, father of Peregrine White (the only baby born on the Mayflower who survived). My Grandma Wadleigh and my mom have a whole slew of folks--at least eight lines--that they can trace their lineage back through! Most notably, Priscilla Mullins, John Alden, and Miles Standish.

Both my mom & dad are very active in The Mayflower Society, and they gifted each of their four daughters with membership, as well, several years ago. I hope to be able to do the same thing for my children sometime down the road, if they're interested. And now, with a grandson due any time now, I hope to be able to share our Mayflower history with him some day, too!

Hang in there with me; I'm coming back to quilting . . .

All of that to say that someday, I'd like to take this beautiful picture of the Mayflower, from Best Scale Models.com, and do a landscape quilt from it.
Choppy seas, gulls and all . . . except not with that other ship in the background. I've dreamed of trying my hand at a landscape quilt for a while (add that to the list of all the quilts I want to try my hand). Though, this one is certainly not the place to start! I've seen online classes for landscape quilts at quiltuniversity.com. That's probably where I'll start. Anyone else out there have any experience, advice, etc., about doing a landscape quilt? For now I'd best just finish up that baby quilt!

Ships ahoy!

:)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

happy birthday, MOM!


These are the pretty flowers I had sent to my mommy for her birthday! I ordered them from her favorite florist, Benfield Florists. She got them this morning, just as she and my dad were leaving, so the timing was great! My dad was taking her to the Eastern Shore for lunch at one of their favorite restaurants. She's going to take a picture of the arrangement she got--which she loved--and send it to me; I'll post the comparison picture tomorrow (if I get it)! I love to send my mom flowers for her birthday. Always something bright and full of the promise of Spring -- especially after the snowy and grey winter they've had so far!

Happy Birthday, my beautiful mom! I love you!

:)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

dinner and dashed hopes . . .

Todd & I enjoyed a lovely evening with Jocelyn & Jason. Joc has done such a marvelous job of making their house a beautiful and comfortable home. Plus Joc sets such a pretty table!! I love the red chargers with her china. Nice! It felt festive and special!

Plus she served yummy food -- Ravioli Soup, garden salad, and wheat rolls. *And* homemade lemonade! Deeee-licious!

Cute domestic moments . . .

This is Joc's baby. Princess Leia is her name. She is beautiful as can be, but mean as spit! Well, to me she is. But she's so darling! I can't resist {trying to} petting her!

But she's even a bit of a pickle with her mom . . . no kisses, mom!

Ah well. The cheesecake I brought was a hit . . . so good it stayed with them! Much to my husband's dismay. It's okay; I promised him I'd make a whole new one just for us! :)

Here's the recipe for it:

Sugar Free Cheesecake

12 oz. Light Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup granular splenda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups skim milk
*2 packages sugar free/fat free instant pudding (any flavor)
*3/4 cup sugar fruit spread (to coordinate with pudding flavor) (I prefer Polander's)
**Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Beat cream cheese, vanilla, and splenda until mix is creamy and smooth. Add milk and continue to beat until well blended. Add both packages of pudding and beat some more until mixture is thickened and smooth.

Spread scant half of mix into graham cracker pie and smooth surface. Spread fruit spread on top. Pour and spread the rest of the cheesecake mix on top to form third layer. Cover and allow to set for at least four hours (over night is better). (NOTE: there is usually TOO much filling for the pie shell. When that happens I pour the mix into 1/2 cup containers and we just eat the filling . . . who really needs the crust anyway?!?)

Cut and serve with sugar free cool whip and a dollop of the fruit spread, if you like!

*Good combinations are chocolate pudding and strawberry or cherry fruit spread; cheesecake pudding and apricot or blackberry or raspberry (or really, any kind of fruit) spread; or vanilla pudding and whatever. I throw in a little almond extract with my vanilla extract, especially with chocolate and vanilla pudding.

**The graham cracker pie crusts are NOT sugar free. The low fat crust has the same amount of sugar (6 grams per serving) as the regular. I used chocolate with my chocolate. :) You can also make your own graham cracker crust; this may cut down on your sugar.

I play around with most recipes I try, just because that's how I roll. This one is no different--or rather, it's quite different from how I originally found it!

A NICE giveaway I found today is over at A Little Bit Biased . . . check it out for yourself!!

Another NICE (and purple-ly) giveaway is happening over at Lila Tueller Designs . . . oh my goodness!!!

Oh yeah, and speaking about giveaways, remember yesterday when I talked about the offer of a sponsor for a giveaway? Total spam/hoax. I had a lovely lady, Kim from Sherrod Studio, who read my blog yesterday on Quilter Blogs.com, and said she'd had a similar experience from the same company that went bad. Ah well.

I'll be my own sponsor. How's that? I'll do a, "I'm a GRANDMA!" giveaway next month.

Yay! I'll be a grandma next month (in TWO weeks)!

Sweet!

:)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

happy, happy . . . joy, joy!

I had a very interesting e-mail today . . . it was from an advertiser who thought their products might be of interest to my 'readers' and asked me to take a look at their websites to see if I also though their products might make good giveaways on my blog! How funny! What's even more amusing to me is that the three sites they gave me are all three cooking/kitchen product websites! LOL! Well, while I predominantly talk about quilting, I do love to cook (in fact, I'll share my recipe for sugar free easy cheesecake tomorrow), so I'm going to consider their offer! Yay!

Tonight, Todd & I are taking my sf easy cheesecake to Jocelyn and Jason's home for dinner! I haven't seen my baby girl in ages, so I'm very excited. Plus I get to see Princess Leia! She's such a darling looking (if not acting) pussycat. I have to get my cat lovin' in when I can!

Some interesting things going on in blog land . . .

Julie, over at jaybird quilts, has a listing of all the quilt blogs having give aways that she knows about! How awesome is that? You can simply go to her blog and you've got your one-stop resource! Check out the current listing here.

Rachel, at p.s. i quilt, is giving away a free blog makeover! Isn't that fun??? Check it out here.

Brooke, at Everyday Bailey, is celebrating her darling baby's first birthday! Happy birthday sweet girl!!!

And Amy, from Diary of a Quilter, went on her first-ever quilt retreat this past weekend, too! It sounds like she had almost as much fun as I did on mine!

And lastly, for today, Heather at A La Mode fabric, is celebrating her blog turning one year old. And she is doing it in *style*! She's got two awesome giveaways; check it out here.

So . . . just a few fun things happening out there. Stay tuned for more info on the potential giveaway!!! Whooohooo!

:)

Monday, February 22, 2010

final shots . . . new week!

I know; late in the day and *gasp* I didn't even post yesterday! But c'mon -- I hadn't seen my darling sweet husband in forever, and quite frankly, I had things to do other than blog! :)

As promised, here's a finished look at the water-colored quilt. Well, finished as in the back has been stitched on the vertical and horizontal grids, the intersections have been snipped, and it's been pressed. Isn't it beautiful?? I am *SO* captivated by this process, and by the colors in this particular piece!

Here's the flip side. It's pretty too!

Here's our group of Stitchers! We are, if I say so myself, an incredibly versatile and talented group of women! We are minus Angie, who had to leave early for an honors band competition.

This is Patches & Stitches 2010 Block of the Month. Jackie was working on this. I loved the orange paisley! It screams summer to me (like, summer of 1968 and the shorts my mommy made for me)! Oooh . . . and Orange Dreamsicles. Yum. :)

This was what I worked on for the last hour or two before checkout. My free motion quilting! Yeah, I'm definitely not a pro, but it sure is less daunting and mysterious to me now. The other ladies at the retreat -- especially those down at our station -- were so kind and helpful! I had some tension issues, but I finally got it figured out! Who needs a manual when you've got friends with talent??? Anyway, I'm glad I'm at least feeling comfortable with this, since it's how I'm going to quilt Sawyer's baby quilt! I just have to remember: shoulders down, relax, keep hands moving, and BREATHE!

And speaking of our work station, this was the crew I sat and worked with. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed spending this weekend quilting (and laughing and eating and playing) with this wonderful group of women!

I'm signed up for next year already!

:)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

grand oak . . . the fun continues!

*Let me preface this post by saying that it looks a little odd. I know. The connection here is incredibly slow and I was having a very hard time uploading my pics. For some reason the layout of the photos didn't work right, so there's text and photos hodge-podged. I'm ready for bed, so I'm tired of fooling with it. Text and pictures . . . how hard can this be??? Argh! :)

Ah, what a glorious day! The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the sewing machines were humming! We got up and got a little sewing/chatting time in before our meal bell rang and we went upstairs for a breakfast of raisin bread french toast casserole. Yummy! We have not had a bad meal -- or a bad anything -- since we've been here! It's been so good, in fact, I purchased
this . . .



Today I was a little slack. I did finish piecing the baby's quilt!!!! This was a little more intense because I was having to do all the figuring (since it's an original, so to speak). I did a LOT of seam ripping on this, because I was struggling to get the vertical orange strips the right size. Or, as the ladies here often referred to it, I did a lot of the frog stitch. Ripit, ripit. *sigh*
BUT it is finished! I did some practice on free-motion quilting today -- I think that's how I'll quilt it. I dunno. I'm still wanting to tie bows in it. :)

Next I pulled out fabrics to work with . . . block ten . . . of the P&S BOM. You know, the one that never ends. Or rather, that I have never finished. Whatever. I particularly like the gold and purple floral. Isn't this gorgeous fabric? Really, my pictures do not do it justice.













I did not work on these hearts, but I was fascinated by them! Therese, one of my sewing station mates, pulled these out and I was absolutely captivated by them! The technique is called watercolor quilting, and you use a gridded transfer sheet. You fussy cut your fabric into the appropriate sized squares, arrange them in the grids, and iron them to the sheet. I fell in love with the blue heart with the ivy. It is so pretty, it almost makes me cry!

After you've laid out all your squares and ironed them down, you turn it over, fold each vertical line and stitch leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. This is the front after she's finished all of the vertical stitching

And this is the back . . .
Then she'll snip into the seam on all of the intersections, press it, and fold & sew on the horizontal grids. I hope she finishes stitching it tomorrow so I can see the finished top and take pictures! She has the book at home; she's going to bring it in to the next guild meeting for me! Yay!

It was a happy day. I learned stuff, I finished stuff, and I read my book (aka, took a nap). I was diligent and both made my bed *and* picked up my socks. Or rather, I never left any socks on the floor to be picked up! The Bed Nazis and the Sock Police are in full force. LOL! One of the great things about retreats is that you build a camaraderie that can't be forged any other way than by spending extended hours in the same room with ten other women! Lots of inside jokes will work its way out of it . . .

My utmost appreciation goes to Kari, who both invited me to the Stitcher's group and this retreat, and who was the coordinator of the retreat. She did a great job and I've had a blast! One more night (I'm off to bed shortly) and then tomorrow's check out time is at two. So a leisurely morning and a late brunch and we'll be packing up . . .
Tomorrow: wedding quilt. Again. To the death! Umm, I mean, until two o'clock.

*Yawn*smile*Yawn*!

:)

Friday, February 19, 2010

grand oak . . . day two!

Did you think I wouldn't post today? I'm on *such* a roll, I couldn't stop now!

Today was busy, busy, busy! I started working on the wedding quilt; I have two rows completed. It would go faster, but I have to square each block before I sew them. What I've done looks so pretty, though!

Then I pulled out the BOM that never ends and finished Block 6 (June, which was the wedding) of each version. They are darling, but I was really irritated by the pre-cut fabrics that were included in the kits; some were WAY big, and several were too SMALL! I can cut down the big 'uns, but I've really got to creatively sew to deal with the small ones!

Then it was time for a break . . .

Then I pulled out Sawyer's quilt and did all the math for the sashing and borders and got that cut.

Then it dinner time! Our menu . . .

Another double YUM!

Here is our gracious hostess (and awesome cook) Cindy, standing next to the greatest quilty roommate ever, Susan!

And after dinner, back down for more sewing and perhaps a little fireside chatting . . .
Or up to the home theater room for a movie or two . . .

Can a quilting day get much more perfect? Productive, possibly; perfect?

I think not!

:)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

i'm here! grand oak retreat . . .

So I'm here, set up and working! This is the first project I'm tackling . . .
Joc will be very happy I'm working on it before her first anniversary!
This is my work station. I'm *so* impressed with all of these
ladies' setups! I'm taking pictures and collecting ideas. Oh yeah!
One of the best benefits of my table?
The VIEW!
Here's an outside photo. It's absolutely beautiful here!
As an added bonus, I can smell dinner. YUM. And dessert.
YUM!
:)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a day job . . .

I do have one. One, on most days, I enjoy very much. Today just happened to be one of those days. I spent my day working on our brochure graphics and playing in autocad. Here's a sampling of what I did, and consequently, some of the beautiful ornamental iron work we do here . . .

and the inside . . .

We primarily do custom ornamental iron handrails, fences, and mailboxes. But we can do a huge variety of stuff. Like curtain rods. And vanities and tables and grills and beds and just let your imagination run WILD!

I like playing around in autocad/fabcad. I've even done some quilt designs and layouts using the program. Joc's wedding quilt was done that way, and so was my 2008 challenge quilt. I've also created some quilt patterns in autocad. I haven't put fabric to those yet, though!

Once I've got a design in autocad -- whether I drew it or the boss man drew it -- I can screen copy it and pull it up in paint or photoshop to fill it in, tweek it, and save it as a graphic.

This custom gate I absolutely love. We did it for a customer with a "W" in the center; but I put our NMIW in the center. It looks better!

Our new logo . . .

Isn't this Iris Gate beautiful?? I love it! Can you imagine having such a whimsical driveway gate? We actually did this for a customer. We plasma cut the irises out of steel plate and welded them into the frame. Something like this would look so cool at the entrance of Camp Macoba!

And this final photo is a custom bed frame & headboard our ornamental artist, Neil, just completed. It's incredible! The thing is HUGE and quite solid. I don't envy the install crew on this one! It's waiting to go into powder coat and then it will get a hand finish. The customer wanted a Celtic look. I think she got it!

So, when I'm not working on graphics and drawings and with customers, I do the (*yawn*) fun things . . . like answer the phone, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll. LOL! Actually I do enjoy that part of my job too -- when I have enough of it to keep me busy!

Today let's just say I didn't have time to yawn.

:)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

whoops!

I was going to load up some pictures from our Valentine's party on Saturday night, but I forgot I'd taken them off my camera and loaded them onto my laptop. Bummer. Oh well, there's always manana!

We had another minor snow event last evening . . . and off an on throughout the night and into today, even. Just enough to keep patches of black ice on the roads, so drivers must beware. I'm holding out for a *major* snow event. If ever there's been a year for it, this would have to be it!

I did get all my quilting stuff packed and organized for my weekend! I decided to take Joc's wedding quilt project, Sawyer's baby quilt project, the two Patches & Stitches BOMs from last year that I never finished doing the blocks for (forget putting the blocks together), some crafty stuff I got from Hooked on Quilting *ages* ago -- I think it's felt winter ornaments -- AND I am bringing my book and special fabric for getting comfortable with machine quilting! What better time to play with such a thing, right?!?!

I have a subscription to The Quilt Show, which my darling son and daughter-in-law got me for my birthday last year. I've really enjoyed it, too. Yesterday I watched part one of a series of tutorials that really got me wanting to put my hand (so to speak) to free-motion machine quilting -- the first tutorial is free and can be seen here. The woman who does the tutorial is Patsy Thompson and she does a wonderful job walking through the set-up stages. I had to pause it several times to run back to my machine to see if it did what hers did. I'm good! Oh yeah -- and she was giving the tutorial on her own home sewing machine. Yay! I'm really looking forward to parts 2 & 3! Her voice is well-modulated and she's easy to listen to, too. Definite "two-thumbs up!"

From there I went to the current show, which featured "quilt doodler" Linda Taylor. Oh. my. goodness. Her work is absolutely INCREDIBLE! I was in awe of her long-arm quilting skills! She has classes on Quilting School.Com and you can find a gallery of thumbnails of some of her work here (if you register you can see regular sized photos). It's worth the two minutes it took to register to look through her quilts!! Breathtakingly beautiful!

On that same show, Alex Anderson demonstrated how to draw a perfect eight-pointed star. That was an intriguing process.

Anyway, I e-mailed the owner of Grand Oak Retreat and found out they *do* have wireless Internet throughout the building. Forget the bathing suit for the hot tub -- I'm taking my laptop!

I'm getting more and more excited!

Toodles!

:)

Monday, February 15, 2010

counting down to retreat!

Thursday afternoon I'm heading to Scottsboro, Alabama, and Grand Oak Retreat! Our sewing group, The Stitcher's, has made the arrangements. This is the first quilting retreat I've ever been to, and I have to admit that I'm a strange combination of excited and nervous.

Excited because it's an opportunity to quilt my little heart out Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, all day Saturday, and into Sunday! Nervous because I'm relatively new to the group and this is *way* outside my introverted little comfort zone!

I'm two and a half years into my guild membership. At the August potluck this past year, I sat at this table with a grand group of extroverted women, one of whom was Charmaigne, the lady who single-handedly is responsible for me staying at my first guild meeting. Anyway, I was extended an invitation to join their bi-weekly stitching group, and I hopped on it. I'm not able to meet too regularly, because of work, but I do when I can and I try to join them for dinner before our monthly guild meetings.

Not too long after I joined, the opportunity presented itself to go on this retreat. I was immediately interested; even more so when I heard where it would be -- Grand Oak Retreat. I had knowledge of this place and its owners -- my company did all the iron (rails, brackets, etc.) for the place, and the owner, Cindy Hildebrand, was wonderful to work with. I loved her vision for a place for quilters and scrapbookers to come and play! She also took my advice on some fiction quilting books to add to her collection of reading stash for guests! So I knew I wanted to go, and I was quick to sign up and get my deposit paid . . .

But the closer it gets, the more anxious I get!

This is a group of women who know each other really well -- and I'm still on the fringe. I know this is my opportunity to get to know them better (and for them to get to know me better), but like I said, it's really outside this introvert's comfort zone! I'm not painfully introverted; I won't not be able to function -- I'll just have to WORK for it!

It will give me the opportunity to really put some time into Joc's wedding quilt, which I really want to pay some attention to. I'll also bring Sawyer's quilt, some reading material, and probably some DVDs. I'm semi-considering my laptop, too . . . !!

So. Today I will pack up my sewing stuff for next weekend. The more prepared I am, the easier it will be to go! Getting my stuff together is no big deal. I think. I don't know! What do you bring so you've got everything you need when you're sewing/quilting away from home!!!!!!

Big breaths.

Who would have thought a quilting retreat would bring so much . . . drama??

Enough!

:)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

happy valentine's day!!

My best friend and valentine . . .

And the pretty & snowy view out our window
this morning. The table is all set for a romantic,
candlelit breakfast before heading to church!

Today is a day to enjoy . . .

Vive l'amour!

:)

Friday, February 12, 2010

what a guy!

I'm just gonna take a few well-deserved moments here and brag on my man. He is the total stuff!

Last night (after receiving flowers at work) I came home to a prepared meal. I was so grateful! And let me tell you, my darling man is a *great* cook! We had a hearty stew that was just wonderful. And he cleaned up after dinner to boot.

Then he showed me a picture of what he thinks our next big purchase for RV living should be:

Is that awesome or what???? It actually is pretty cool. It's portable, fits a full place setting for four, and it will SANITIZE our dishes while it cleans them. With all the sickness the two of us have been enjoying over the last two months, that's pretty important. Even when I rinse the dishes in rinse water with Clorox diluted into it, I don't feel like they're as clean as they need to be!

Cute, non? It looks a little like a microwave! I just wanna pinch its cute little cheeks! Ahem. Anyway . . .

So, as if all that (flowers, dinner, dishwasher) is not enough, this morning Todd, my SUPERman, leaves when I leave for work so he can open and shut the gate for me. He's so sweet! So as he walks to the gate, he opens my car door and slips me a little sugar . . . literally *and* figuratively!

What can it be?? I know one thing . . . it's from one of my favorite stores, Two Friends! (I did lots of Secret Pal shopping there.)

A heart-shaped box of Godiva chocolates! Godiva chocolates are my favorite! They even make flowers smell better. Really, they do! Can you believe this husband of mine? Flowers & dinner yesterday, chocolates today . . . gracious!

Yum, yum, yum. This is true love. I am a spoiled, pampered wife. I know I've got it good! You know what the best part is, though? He's such a godly man; he loves the Lord and serves Him with all his heart.

I am blessed.

:)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

flower power flash . . .

There's nothing like a vase of fresh flowers to make
a girl feel good. Lots & lots better. Great even.
Maybe, dare I say it . . . FANTASTIC!

Especially when they're delivered to her at work . . .

and she's not expecting them in the least . . .

and they're absolutely beautiful . . .

and they're from her most darling, wonderful, loving husband.

*girl sigh*

:)