Wednesday, February 29, 2012

happy surprises . . .

There's so much from the quilting retreat that I have wanted to share ... but I feel like I need to break it up into bits and pieces -- because there really was *so* much!  I want to start with the location of Grand Oak Retreat.  Out in Scottsboro, overlooking the lake, it's really a beautiful spot.  You can just barely make out the house from the road, it's so far up the hill . . . this is about one-third of the way up the (very winding) drive.
The first happy surprise came just a tad further up the drive, at a level spot . . .
The gate had not been there on my last visit and there's a good reason for that.  If you remember THIS post, you will recall that in my prior work life, I sometimes had the opportunity to put my *creative* skills to use designing ornamental iron.  And it just so happens, I designed this gate!!  I was so *tickled* to see it hanging!  Cindy, the owner, told me that it had been installed in September.  They don't have the electric opener on it yet -- hopefully before summer.
The block is the Lucky Clover and I found it on Quilter's Cache.  The original drawing I did (which is what is shown on the earlier blog post) had the square half the size.  I doubled it for the final drawing for Cindy, and I think it really does look pretty incredible.
If I do say so myself!! 

You know what else is incredible?  The view once you get to the top of the drive!
Sometimes, with a view like that, it's hard to stay focused on sewing!  But more on that in a future post.

Another happy surprise awaited me at home.  I'd won a sweet giveaway on Quilt Hollow and the sweet little felt stitchery patterns had arrived!
Aren't these darling?  Mary had been given five patterns to give away from Little Stitches.  The first winner got to pick two of her choice.  I loved the little bunnies and the chick train.  It's just in time for Easter!  Yay!!

Today will be a busy day catching up on ministry paperwork and things I didn't do while I was gone.  It's piling up a bit!  Tonight is church and tomorrow is an Ellie day, so I need to get 'er done!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

settling back in . . .

What a fun day yesterday was ... and I didn't even spend any time sewing!  LOL!  I spent the day with Sawyer, while Kim put in time working to set up for the big Kid's Consignment shop for the spring sale.  The weather was so glorious, we spent most of the morning outside.
Little man really enjoys being outside and could find things "to do" for hours!!  He's *so* busy!
And everything outside is interesting to him.  A blade of grass, an acorn, a dandelion, a leaf -- they're all worthy of his inspection, wonder and awe.  Ah, to view creation through the eyes of a child again.

And then there's balls . . .
Kicking, throwing, catching and fetching . . . balls make for endless hours of outdoor entertainment!  We had a lovely day together and I enjoyed spending so much time with him.  His vocabulary has gotten bigger since the last time I saw him and it's such fun to listen to him try out new words.  And he parrots *everything* he hears, which is such fun!

One of his new words is "dinosaurs".  I was *so* glad to learn this!!  I recently won some dinosaur fabric from Frances, over at One More Quilt -- she had leftovers from a project she'd made.
I had originally thought to use it in an I Spy quilt, but I guess I hadn't paid close enough attention to the picture of the fabric . . .
Because the dinosaurs are WAY bigger than the blocks I'm using for my I Spy quilt!  But the minute I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.  I've got six blocks from a 6-month BOM I did in 2008.  The fabrics were bright, primary colors with worms and wigglies.  The demo quilt in the shop matched these blocks with applique animal blocks -- cats, dogs, ducks, etc.  
But those blocks didn't appeal to me, and I never did find something that I wanted to put it together with.  Until the dinosaur fabric arrived!!  I'm going to put six different dinosaurs in the center of blocks and put together a "big boy" quilt for Sawyer!  My only concern was that Sawyer might be intimidated by the dinosaurs, so I took the fabric with me to show him.  I was so tickled to see him point to the stegosaurus and hear him say "dinosaurs!"   And then he 'roared', because that's what dinosaurs do.  I think this is a quilt that was destined to be!!  Thank you, Frances!!

After my day with Sawyer, I went and spent the latter part of the afternoon with Joc and Ellie.  It was a quiet afternoon of snuggling and cooing and rocking ... and since I was contentedly holding Ellie, I didn't capture any snapshots!  I did want to share this one that Joc had from Everett's birthday . . . 
Do you see that sweet little smile on my girl's face?!  Joc did a lovely post about their day over on her blog

Today I need to get back into the swing of things ... laundry, cleaning, cooking ... I need to work!!


Monday, February 27, 2012

design wall bliss . . .

What a productive five days for me!
I think I got more done in the past five days than I have in the past five months.  Well, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration ... but not by much!  I mean look at that busy work station!!  Okay, so let's see what I've got to "show and tell" on my (real) design wall!

First, I started and finished this sweet little pillow face, using that fabulous swoon block pattern and the Little Apples charm pack that I was gifted by Joy at Joy & Comfort.
We'd agreed we'd do a project with the fabrics and share the results.  I've still got to face it and put a back on it!

I also finished up the December, January, February *and* MARCH blocks for my guild's anniversary BOM!
One of the other quilters at the retreat was working on the blocks too -- only she was a real over-achiever and had done THREE of each block!  LOL!  I'm happy to have finished one!  But her blocks looked great and will make some beautiful treasures!

And last (for today's viewing pleasure, anyway) I got all of the blocks for My Orange Crush set on point and all the backs and batting pieces cut and ready to make the individual quilt sandwiches so I can do the lap quilting.  HOORAY!!!
So far I've got eight blocks quilted ... but now that they're all ready to go, the hand work will go quickly.  The purple strip up at the top is the stripping I'm going to use to put the blocks together.  All that orange needs a little purple to break it up!  I like the dark four corners, though -- I'm glad I decided to go that route!

Head on over to Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times to check out other fabulous design walls!  As for me, I'm headed out for some much needed 'catch up' time with grandbabies today!!

Hasta la vista!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

stash report #9 and the consequences . . .

Well here it is. The last day of quilting retreat coincides with stash reporting. And like every addicted body, I didn't pay any mind to the consequences of my actions ... I threw caution to the wind and indulged to my heart's content. I even ignored my own lofty words from last week's stash report: Plus, I won't be buying any fabric while I'm there!  And I know many of you saw those words and just shook your heads, thinking, "Bless her heart!"  (And we Southerners know what that really means, right?!)  There's not getting around it; it's time to pay the Piper.  I have to divulge how much I *gained* over retreat versus how much I (*cringe*) used.  It's time to stand up and say, Hi, my name is Denise ... and I'm a fabricaholicAnd PROUD OF IT!!  LOL!

Used/donated this week: 1.5 yards
Used/donated year-to-date: 4.75 yards
Purchased/added this week: 20.0 yards
Purchased/added year-to-date: 30.75 yards
Net used/donated for 2012: -20.25 yards

Ay yi yi!!!!  What in the world was I thinking?!??  I'll tell you exactly what I was thinking . . . I was thinking that the five yards (all that was left on the bolt) of one darling, darling fabric that was $4.50/yard and 60% off to boot, would make a darling sundress for Ellie (a new one for the next five or six summers).  And hey -- since I'm thinking clothes and not quilts, do I have to count it??  I was thinking that 60% off all those batiks could not be passed up.  I was thinking...what a bargain!!  Plus there was free fabric ... I totally shouldn't have to count that, right?!?  Hahaha!!  Ah well, as always, be sure to check out the link-ups at Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times!
Hanging on the wall at Grand Oak Retreat

 As for today?  I've got a couple more hours of stitching and then it's time to pack up and head home.  It'll be nice to see my sweet husband and sleep in my own bed tonight!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

(mis)adventures in quilt retreating . . .

Breakfast flash mob in the dining room.  (no pictures)

Line dancing in the common sewing room.  (no pictures)

Sewing machine fail -- complete breakdown.  (no pictures)

Area-wide power outage at 10:30 in the evening.  (no pictures)

Three days at retreat and so far my only complete finish is a mug rug.

Having a BLAST!


Friday, February 24, 2012

retreat life . . .

 Three wonderful meals a day (that I don't have to cook or clean up after):

Snacks galore:

Fabric remnants and notions to rifle through:

Field trips to fabric shops with SIXTY PERCENT off:

And sewing to my heart's content from six a.m. to midnight then getting up the next day and doing it all over again.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

. . .

Wish you were here!!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

dolls and swaps . . .

Since yesterday was an Ellie-day, it only goes to follow that today would be an Ellie picture day!  It never ceases to amaze me how much and how fast babies grow.  I'd just seen her last Thursday, and already I know she's gained at least another pound, she's moved up a size in diapers, and she's filling out her clothes so nicely!
So far, her eyes are holding onto the blue.  Her daddy has pretty brown eyes though, so we're waiting to see! She's also much more awake and alert for longer periods of times between napping (which is still her main function) and follows you with her eyes.  It was so funny to see her turn her head trying to find mama when I was holding her and Joc was talking to me. 
Still, sleeping is a favorite activity.  Of course, having a baby sleeping contentedly on my chest is a favorite of mine, so we get along well.
Had to share a shot from the rear . . . such a cutie-pie!  She's gotten so round ... and long!
And the feet; can't forget the feet!  Already the little lady, crossing her ankles.

Okay ... needless to say I took dozens of photos of my dear little dolly, but I'll show restraint here!  However, speaking of dollies . . .

There's a NEW doll quilt SWAP in town!!
It's monthly, open to anyone who wants to participate (even international), and promises to be a LOT of fun!!  Barbara, from Cat Patches is organizing (and doing a terrific job of it, I might mention), and there's already twenty folks signed up for this!  Click on the picture to get more information on the swap and info on how to sign up, or click on the button on my right sidebar!

I'm off to pack.  I've not packed the FIRST thing!  Yikes!!!  Better get a scootin'!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

hale, hale . . .

Definitely, the gang's all here!  Not the greatest shot -- it's through the window and zoomed -- but I did want to share that hunting season is over and our "pets" are back.  We counted nine yesterday; we've seen as many as twelve in the last couple of weeks.  They were a little skittish yesterday, but it was windy.  They did manage to "hoover" up all the corn out there.

We had Sawyer and his gang here yesterday, too.  Sawyer walked in the door saying, "Ride?  Ride?!"  The golf cart is parked right by the front door, so it was definitely on his mind!
They didn't wait too long before going out for a spin.  Sawyer went right for the driver's seat ... he knows what he wants!  
He was happy enough to settle in between his Paw-paw and his daddy.

I love this capture of him looking up at his Paw-paw ... so sweet!!

And always with a hat ... any hat will do ... even if he's got to sneak it from daddy!!

We also had this little (or not so) critter up here yesterday.  
I'd never seen one out here in the middle of the day like that.  He was rather . . . scruffy . . . looking.  Yeah.  Definitely not the most attractive looking possum I've ever seen!

I managed to finish up the string rectangles in fall leaf colors for the collaborative project!  I finished 'em up just in time to hit the road and get to my guild board meeting.  And turn them in.  LOL!  But seeing as how they weren't due until March 1, so I done good!  (And p.s. -- I don't think I much care for string blocks.  Just sayin'.)

Today I'm off to see my Ellie ... and I need to pack for RETREAT!


Monday, February 20, 2012

design wall bust . . .

My wall has not changed at all since last week.  I've still got the three fabrics for my guild's BOM hanging out waiting to be finished:

And I've pulled out my tub of browns for the four "fallish" string blocks I need to create for a collaborative project:

But I did finish my little owl stitchery!
Isn't he cute?  I think I'm going to frame him in a log cabin frame, with earthy tones.  Good thing the brown are out, right?  On on over to Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times to check other (more productive, I'm sure) design walls this happy Monday morning.

I got this in Saturday's mail:
It was a giveaway from Kim Hanson Quilts that she held on facebook ... you had to post a picture of your quilting space and she randomly chose a winner.  And it was me!  Todd told me that since I'm so good at "winning" I needed to work on winning us that new RV.  LOL!  He's so funny!  

And today, guess who's coming for a visit?!
Yay!  I think boys are born with a gene that makes them want to be behind the wheel of a vehicle -- any kind of vehicle -- from a very young age.  But he's so CUTE!  (I stole this pic from his mommy, by the way!)

Happy Monday!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

stash report #8 and stuff . . .

I had a great time in my Sunday School class this morning.  Know what I learned?  There are at least three other quilters in my class!!  I'm really excited to already have some common ground with these new ladies!

I think I will probably be the girl who nickels and dimes her stash into triple in-the-red digits.  You know ... a yard here, a yard there, toss in a couple of fat quarters ... and before you know it, BAM!  Haha!  I only added one yard this week -- a tonal white, for redwork -- but since I didn't finish anything, it just keeps piling on!  The good thing is that I've got the retreat in a couple of days and I really hope to have some finishes out that.  Plus, I won't be buying any fabric while I'm there!

Used/donated this week: 0.0 yards
Used/donated year-to-date: 3.25 yards
Purchased/added this week: 1.0 yards
Purchased/added year-to-date: 10.75 yards
Net used/donated for 2012: -7.5 yards

As always, be sure to check out the link-ups at Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times!
Yesterday, instead of working on any of the projects I had planned on working on (that I needed to work on), I found this cute little owl stitchery to play around with.  I printed him out on regular paper, used my new Sulky transfer pen to draw over the lines, and then I ironed it onto my fabric.  
 It worked pretty well considering I didn't read the instructions.  (Yes, I'm that girl, too.)  I imagine it would have been even better had I shaken the pen first, and had I pre-heated the fabric I was transferring to the first time.  Since I didn't do those things, I had to use my little blue Bohin marker to fill in the blanks. And then I started stitching . . .
And kept stitching . . . 
Mind you, I'm still not sure exactly how I'm going to finish him out (he was started with no final project in mind), but he'll be done and ready for whatever it is this afternoon, I imagine!  Well, considering they're calling for flurries this afternoon, curling up with a bit of stitchery sounds like the proper thing to do!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

february's daybook . . .

I can't quite believe I let December, January, and more than half of February get away without posting a daybook entry.  This is one of my favorite writing exercises. :)

Outside my window... it's gray and cloudy, but relatively warm for February.  Rain is promised for this afternoon and through the night.  In anticipation of the rain and bluster, the birds are hitting the feeders pretty heavily . . . cardinals, tufted titmouse, goldfinches (which are more like olive-colored finches in the winter), several varieties of woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.  They're so sweet!

I am thinking... about the retreat with my Stitcher's Group next week!  I'll leave early on Wednesday morning and be back Sunday afternoon.  Five days and four nights of stitching, stitching and stitching.  I'm thinking about what projects (and what extras) I'll take with me!

I am thankful... for my darling grandbabies.  They are the best, best, bestest!  (Right after husbands and children, right?!)

From the learning rooms... I'm learning some new embroidery stitches *and* I'm playing around with FMQ.  I like learning new things!

In the kitchen... today there's not a whole lot going on.  I'll probably make some Firehouse Crackers for Todd (so he's got them to munch on while I'm gone next week).  I heated up some Ravioli Soup for lunch.  Yummy!

I am wearing... a jean skirt and tee-shirt.  And my snuggy.  It's chilly in here today!

I am creating... mostly I'm working on projects I'd started years (and years!) before, and need to get wrapped up and put on my "finit" list.  There are a couple of new projects in the works, too.  Some, like my scripture tree and the rainbow swirl are very much in the 'thinking out' stage.  Some are in process like my 25th Anniversary quilt!

I am going... nowhere today ... except perhaps around the camp.  We've got campers in and I've been around once already, grabbing pics.  One group is very large -- 75 campers -- and is here for a "He-Man" weekend.  When Todd and I went around yesterday, the boys were all up on the upper field playing ball and frisbee in shorts.  And quite a number of them were not wearing shirts!  And NO!  It was NOT that warm!  The other group is a Boy Scout group working on their wilderness badge.  There are about 20 of them, scattered all over the camp. 

I am wondering... how those boys (who're spending the day constructing shelters in the woods) are going to fare tonight when then weather comes pouring in.

I am reading... the Bible study and accompanying Bible text to A Woman's Heart:  God's Dwelling Place.  It's a Beth Moore study we're doing at Cornerstone.  I just finished a quick novel on my Kindle.  I don't know what I'm going to pick up next.  I also just received a new book in the mail -- I won it in a FB contest -- Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space, which is filled with lots of awesome ideas.

I am hoping... we're somehow able to trade out RV for the new one.  Yeah ... it was that great.  :)

I am looking forward to... church tomorrow ... spending the day with Joc and Ellie on Tuesday ... and heading to the retreat on Wednesday, of course!

I am hearing... all the boys out there enjoying the splendor of nature!

Around the house... music is playing and the quilting bunkroom is calling my name.

I am pondering... next week -- the 23rd -- will be the one year anniversary of Everett's stillbirth.  I know this is heavy on Joc's mind, too.

One of my favorite things... pretty, fresh cut flowers.  My bouquet from my darling man are sitting on the counter in front of me, still looking so pink and pretty!

A few plans for the rest of the week... well, there's not much left of the rest of the week, is there?  This afternoon I plan on playing with some quilt blocks and this evening I want to write some notes and do some hand quilting!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
This is the block I'm currently quilting and will be working on tonight.  I cannot wait until this is a finished project I can curl up in!

As always, I'll be linking up to The Simple Woman's Daybook.  Happy Saturday!


Friday, February 17, 2012

the dentist and the guild . . .

It sounds like a bad title for an even worse novel, doesn't it?  Well it actually made for a pretty good day for me!

Joc called me yesterday morning and needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to spend some more time with Miss Ellie!
While I was there, Joc asked me to take some shots of her holding Ellie, so I captured a few for her.  I love, love this one:
Aren't they beautiful?! Evidently Ellie thought it was a pretty great shot, too!
Tuesday (Valentine's Day) was Ellie's five week mark and here's the commemorating shot:
I love how they changed the graphic on her onesie to a heart shape!  Funny story.  Leia, Joc's cat, feels very strongly that she needs to also have *her* picture picture taken on the fabric, too.
Such a complete cat!

From Joc's house I headed into Huntsville for dinner with my stitcher's group and then the guild meeting.  I'd mentioned our speaker was Lisa Binkley, of fiber art and embellishing fame.  I tried to capture some shots of my favorites of her slides, but the room was dark and so very few are really viewable.  I think everything I'm showing here can be seen (much more clearly and with better detail) at her website.
I have to admit that while I really like the idea of beading and embellishing quilts (it's definitely something on my NewFO list) -- and that Lisa's work is beautiful and intricate and high quality -- her style is definitely not my style.  And since all of her pieces seem to follow in the same vein (and if you'd seen the leaf, after leaf, after leaf piece that she displayed last night, that would be punny), I struggled with the program a little.  Click on the pics to see the great photo on her own website.
The pine cone--and especially the beaded pine needles--really caught my eye.  All these pieces are relatively small -- 8" X 9".  One thing I did find very interesting were the items she uses for embellishing.  A lot of beads, but also a lot of buttons and even old jewelry.  In January I went through my jewelry box and moved a lot of pieces (that I don't wear anymore or that had broken) into my embellishing jar.  Hey!  I'm ahead of the game! 
I also really like how she included these rose buttons around the window and used beading to create the vines.

This weekend I need to pull together the projects I'm taking with me on retreat.  I've got some ideas--definitely the wedding quilt, and My Orange Crush, and probably the Pineapple Quilt.  I don't know what else, but I know I definitely need something more so I can have a little creative freedom!  We've also got two different groups coming in today -- we'll have about 100 campers up here this weekend.  Busy, busy, busy!

Happy Friday and happy weekend!