Saturday, July 30, 2011

life is good . . .

Thursday night Todd and I were able to put up over six quarts of apples in the freezer ... they're all set and ready to go into apple pies! There's something about putting up (canning or freezing) fruits or vegetables that you've grown yourself that is immensely satisfying. I know I'll make more than six apples pies over the course of the coming fall/winter, but those made with apples from our own tree will taste the best!

Then yesterday afternoon I took the figs and made a batch of freezer jam. Because I used splenda and not sugar -- along with the sugar free pectin -- I was a little anxious about it setting up okay, but it did great! Todd and I will have a little fig jam on our English muffins this morning!

Doesn't it look yummy? You'll have to take my word for it, I'm afraid. Unless you stop by for breakfast some morning. Soon. I'm sure it won't last too long!

Since my darling husband was on shift yesterday, I had dinner with James, Kim and . . .


He's showing off here for his daddy's new camera. James showed me some of the videoing capabilities of his camera last night. Very, very nice. He gave me a green screen demo; it was very cool. I learned why they snap that slate and say, "Take One" or whatever. It has to do with lining up the audio with the video, which is why they have to show the slate snapping as well as taking the audio of it.

James and Kim ran out for a bit while I was there, so I got to spend bath time with my Sawyer. He's so much fun in the tub! And getting ready for bedtime, when he's so snuggly and lovey, is my favorite. It prompted me to take my own little video clip . . .

He melts my heart! Life is good.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

flowers, figs and watermelon . . .

I headed over to Hunter Road earlier this week. We had several different kinds of fruit trees/bushes/vines, and it seemed a shame to just let everything go to the birds! We've got a guy that comes every two weeks and mows, weed eats, and picks up limbs and such, but that's the extent of the yard work. The garden area has gone *wild*!

When I pulled up, the first thing that caught my eye were these beauties, blooming just anywhere they pleased.

They're so happy and pretty. I knew I wanted to take some home, but I needed to check out the fruit situation first. I bagged fruit first and then came back and cut flowers.

By the time I got them home they were looking a little wilted, but I gave them clean cuts, put them in a vase, and they perked right up.

The apple tree was laden with red/green apples, ready for the picking. I picked about a half bushel (as high as I could reach) and Todd and I are going to pare, core and slice them tonight while we watch a movie. Do you know that watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (which is what we'll put in tonight) while peeling apples from our tree was the FIRST thing we did in our RV back in July 2009, when we got it? It's like we'll be celebrating our RV anniversary tonight! I'm so glad we were able to move one of our freezers up to the camp -- I'll freeze those apples slices and we'll have apple pie filling for the winter!

For the first year since it was planted, the fig tree was filled, filled, filled with luscious fig fruit!

Aren't they beautiful?

They smell good and they taste even more wonderful. Only, besides from just popping them in our mouths, I wasn't sure what to do with them.

So after a little google time, I found a recipe at Linda's Italian Table for Freezer Fig Jam. I'll substitute Splenda and use a no-sugar pectin and we'll have fig jam for our winter biscuits, too! Whoohoo! I'll take care of them tomorrow or Saturday. While I'm thinking about it, if you're into Italian food, Linda's Italian Table is filled with scrumptious recipes and lots of interesting Italian information.

Finally, the watermelon. Watermelon is a favorite in our home over the summer, especially if it's seedless. Todd and I enjoy it as much as anything for a light, cool summertime dessert. Evidently we're not the only ones. A couple of weeks ago I threw the leftover rind out into the habitat. Within the hour it had disappeared! So yesterday, when I threw out another rind, I kept a closer watch. Sure enough, it didn't take long . . .

One of our little raccoon friends has decided he really likes watermelon too.

Yes, you!

What wonderful summer bounty -- from flowers to fruits to critters -- God is so good!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

thread play . . .

Saturday morning I attended my first guild workshop (not including the teddy bear workshop), and I have to say, I had a BLAST!! It was the Sulky thread workshop, and it really it was a time of instructed 'thread play'.

I came in and got set up. There was a pretty good crowd for the day -- about 15 of us participated.

The two women sitting to my left were friends and relatively new to the guild. One brought in a quilt top she'd found in her dad's attic . What a treasure!

Based on the fabrics, she's guessing it was sewn by her aunt in the late 30's. What a treasure! It reminds me very much of the unfinished top that I have of my grandma's.

I was really looking forward to this workshop because of the kit that we got along with it!

Look at all these fun and sparkly threads!! Yum! You know, I think I could become as addicted to pretty threads as I am to fabric! They sure are a lot easier to store . . .

In addition, we had some pretty fabrics, muslin, batting, and four different types of stabilizers in our kits.

As we walked through the stabilizer uses, I was *fascinated*! There a whole new aspect to quilting I'd never considered!

She had us start just by doing some free motion quilting. I've never really done a lot of that, and I admit I was a little anxious about it.

It's amazing to me what a difference the right threads (and perhaps a new needle) makes in the process! True test of ability . . . legibly write your name in script. Haha!

I had a little tension problem with one of the heavier weight threads . . .

But honestly, keeping 'art' quilting in mind, I thought it was a pretty cool looking effect.

The instructor had lots of beautiful samples to show off.

The embroidery work on those flowers was stunning.

She also showed us how to trace a quilting design on stabilizer like she's done on this one, with the elephants.

We tried it with polar bears and leaves. Again I'm completely captivated by the process. Your trace your design onto this water-soluble stabilizer, adhesive spray it to your fabric, and stitch right through the stabilizer. When you're finished, run it under water (or wash it) and it goes away, leaving just your beautiful quilting!

She also had us do a little meandering or stippling around our design to help make it stand out.

It was interesting to play with the invisible thread. Especially when we used colored thread up top and the invisible thread in the bobbin. I'd played with invisible thread before but had not had really great luck with it. Evidently it makes a huge difference when you're using polyester invisible versus nylon invisible. The polyester is better.

I just loved the fun quilting on this little dogwood wall hanging!

Of course I'm a sucker for dogwood flowers anyway.

In the span of the morning, I had my name drawn for a prize, too!

A transfer pen! I always wanted one of these!! No really -- I have.

Isn't this piece gorgeous? And I really think I could DO this!

What I found most interesting about this was that the center stitching was double (or maybe even triple) stitched, with different thread colors/styles.

I had the most fun playing with the metallic threads! I think I may have oooh'ed and aaah'ed over my machine as I sat there stitching. There may have even been a giggle or two . . .

I had always admired quilting that highlighted fabric pattern, but had no idea it was something I could easily do. It helped learning that thread lines didn't have to exactly match the lines in the fabric itself. In fact, that my thread lines were not perfectly fitted to the lines of the flower just gave it more character and dimension. Or perhaps that's just my justification for not staying in the lines!

Here's the back side of that same piece. You can see where I've outlined the flower and several leaves, even though you can't see the thread -- tah dah!

It was a workshop well worth the price. Not only did I learn several new techniques, I gained a great deal of confidence in free motion quilting, playing with different types of threads, and the freedom to try new things! Who knows what I'll come up with now?!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

mystery, thread, tea . . .

Well, no -- they're *not* all connected. I'm not throwing a mystery tea party with a thread theme, if that's what you were wondering. I'm just looking at the last few days and hitting a couple the highlights.

Thursday evening was our guild meeting. It was packed! Among other things, all the women who participated in the guild's mystery quilt were to bring in their tops for display. Look at all these wonderful quilts!

It never, never ceases to amaze me how one pattern can look so very different, just by switching out color/fabric. As you can see, there's a wide array of both! It was fun to see everyone's hard work.

Our speaker was Nancy Sapin, the Sulky National Educator. She was very vibrant and energized and quite fun to listen to. Are you aware of all the amazing things you can do with thread? Well, with Sulky threads (and stabilizers), anyway.

This was one of the sample projects she passed around. I wish I could have captured the lattice look of the picture background. It was wonderful! I know I'm going to want to duplicate that look in something I do soon -- perhaps a quilted postcard. I wish I'd had my brains in gear earlier in the game and snapped photos of all the sample stuff she passed around!

These were some of her thread baskets and boxes. And I don't mean boxes for holding thread. I mean they were created with thread (and stabilizers)!

She held a build-a-box workshop last night. After seeing these I was a little sad I hadn't signed up for that workshop! But I'm really looking forward to going to today's workshop, which is thread play. We'll be getting a kit with all kinds of fun threads and stabilizers and she's going to walk us through playing with them.

Friday, I met up with one of the young women from our church, at my favorite tea place . . .

Emma's! Amberley had never been there and I hadn't been there in a month, so it was a good choice.

Requisite outing picture. I'm glad the ladies who work at Emma's are always so obliging to take a snapshot for me!

Lunch was fabulous as always, as was the tea I tried -- chocolate hazelnut -- but the piece de resistance was this lovely brownie trifle!

It's actually half a trifle. Isn't that nice? I can't imagine eating two of these, but they'll take one, split it into two sweet little bowls, and serve it for the same price. It was just perfect.

Okay. Well maybe I *could* have eaten a bite more. At least I didn't lick my bowl, right?

I'm not so sure about the little lady who sat at the table next to us . . .

This is the smile of a girl who licks the bowl if I ever saw one!

I'm off to thread play -- then a pack of Boy Scouts are heading into the camp this afternoon, and I *may* get in a little Sawyer time this evening! What a GREAT Saturday!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

a fun day with a quilty friend . . .

My first longings to quilt were stirred long, long before I actually put the backing to the batting (so to speak). My grandma (my mom's mom) was a quilter and made lots of beautiful quilts by hand. I always admired her ability to take pieces of fabric and turn them into beautiful quilt tops. My favorite was a Dresden Plate quilt she made, though I have no idea where it went. I do have a Grandmother's Garden quilt top she was working on when she died. Someday I'll garner the courage to finish it, perhaps. I've always loved sewing and fabric and creating with my sewing machine, but after a failed attempt when my children were very young, many years passed before I considered quilting again.

Two things happened to resurface that quilting desire. One was a friend who was working on a BOM during a Bible study. The other was my friend, Jane. We had gone to her home for a church Superbowl party/fellowship and she was watching the game and quilting on this beautiful signature quilt she'd made for her daughter's wedding. I so longed to be able to do that, too!! Jane has remained a good friend through the years, and she's also a bloggy friend! Jane is the author of Grandmama's Stories blog. How lucky am I to have a friend that's a quilter *and* a blogger that lives nearby?!?

Yesterday, Jane packed up some of her delicious homemade chicken salad, her bag of quilting, and headed out to Camp MACOBA! After touring the camp, sharing lunch, and watching the birds out the picture window, we pulled out our respective quilting projects and sat down to stitch. Jane is working on a quilt for her grandson . . .

Isn't this darling?! Ryan was up here a couple of weeks ago with his mom. That there's frogs in this quilt is *so* appropriate!! Ryan is going to be so excited to receive this!

This is the back of that quilt . . .

In Jane's words, "the fabric hides a multitude of quilting sins." How funny!

Jane also pulled out and showed me some cute little blocks she was working on. It's from a technique she learned in a class she took in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.

I hear there might be a little tutorial for this darling little block coming soon to a blog near you!!

I pulled this out to work on . . .

I purchased the cutest little holly stencil that was perfect for the center of the topper.

I had to laugh when I looked at this picture; truly Christmas in July.

Jane was such a darling. Not only did she bring her yummy chicken salad, she also came bearing gifts!

Isn't this cute, CUTE alphabet fabric?

And look at that darling little owl!

And a sweet little mug warmer! She'd received two from another blogging friend; one to keep and one to share. She shared with me! The maple leaf button on it is too cute.

And then these beautiful layer cake swatches . . . in colors right up my alley!

While she was here, I gave her the grand tour in the all-terrain golf cart.

We went up and down this road to the pavilion and down the Nature Trail.

Up and down this steep road to the gate and the main campground.

In and out of the Beech Bottom Trail down to the Secret Creek.

And came down the High Ridge Trail from the ponds.

All in all, we probably better than traveled seven or eight miles in that little golf cart.

When I went to drive her the 100 feet from the RV to the pavilion to get her vehicle, the back tire fell off! Oh my goodness -- the good Lord was certainly watching out for us as we traveled over hill and dale (and down very steep roads)!

It was an awesome day in the life of this quilter. It was followed by a fun evening at the movies with the young women from Ignite City Church. We went to see Winnie the Pooh. It was a darling movie and brought back many nostalgic memories for me. It was *short* too -- which makes it a great movie to take children/grandchildren to see! Tonight it's dinner with my Stitcher's Group and a guild meeting. Yay!


Monday, July 18, 2011

hodgepodge . . .

Really I have just a strange collection of odds and ends from my life to share today. All of them are important to me in one way or another, so I just piled 'em up together. There's no wonder I don't have a design wall per se . . . I've been too busy buying fabrics and running the video on my camera . . .

First, a nod back to Knoxville and the AQS show. One of the most poignant exhibits there was the traveling Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative exhibit. Unfortunately, in order to preserve the quilts, no photography was allowed, but you can see photos of it HERE at their website and some HERE if you "like" them on facebook. (Photo from the website.)

I had actually had an opportunity earlier in the year to put the name of a dear friend and mentor on one of the squares. I was so excited and touched to find her name -- my handwriting -- on the exhibit (yes; that's the thing I had a part in that was hanging at the AQS show) . It's a very beautiful and moving display and would have been worth the AQS entrance fee if that had been all I'd seen. If you have the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it.

Next? I got not one, but TWO happy packages in the mail! The first was this wonderful collection of books - and you can see, there are some great titles (and a cute little notepad which is perfect for list-making and/or doodling)!

This came from Peggy at The Simple Woman's Day Book.

The second package came from Karen over at Lisnaweary Quilts. She picked my names, "Cactus Kid & Bo" for her little guys on her Wild West Quilt.

Aren't these fun and pretty? Perfect for the little cowgirl in my life (and I do have one or two).

Saturday I got to spend a couple of hours with my favorite little man, Sawyer Graham. I cannot believe how busy and chatty he is!

Just bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

See that frown? That's what happens when you try and read your books upside down!

Great profile shot, non?

Just so HAPPY!

I managed to whittle this little clip down from the eleven minute mini-movie it originally was. It's still entertaining to me -- and I've already watched it a dozen times!

Remind me to share why the pig says, "La la la!" I love being a grandmaaaaaa. :)

Then finally, from today, we have new visitors at the camp!

Mama Raccoon and her sweet little babies! They were the first raccoon babies I've ever seen. We saw the first fawn of the season up here last week -- but it was very timid and wouldn't come out for a camera shot. With the baby raccoons I had no such problems.

They were so cute -- and they didn't get too far from mama at first.

Todd commented how amazing it is that we're seeing them in the daylight like this.

Something startled them (another raccoon -- a big male -- came out to eat) and they went dashing up the tree!

After they'd been in the clearing for a while, they got a little braver and let mom get more than six feet away. But my favorite part of their visit I managed to catch on video . . .

Isn't that fun?!?!

All right, I've got a busy, busy (but fun) week in store. Tomorrow I'm off to a church finances seminar and then we've got Community Groups in the evening. I've got a dear, quilty friend coming for lunch and iced tea on Wednesday followed by an evening with the Ignite ladies at the movies (Winnie the Pooh), then Thursday I've got some book-keeping to do before I head off to my guild meeting. Friday I've got lunch at Emma's with a sweet young lady from church, and then a Friday evening ladies' conference at Lighthouse Baptist, and then Saturday morning is the Sulky Thread workshop. Whew! I'm out of breath just typing all that! Good thing the list Todd gave me for the week was such that I finished everything but one item today!