Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Days, School Daze

I can hardly believe that the first day of school is right around the corner. We are in the midst of registration, and tonight my baby will perform on the Dance team for the first time of her Senior year. I'm trying to enjoy all of these times and not be sad, but once in a while it hits me that this is the "last time" we will be enjoying these times.

My oldest daughter started kindergarten 25 years ago, and for all these years I have happily prepared and sent my girls off to be taught all the wonderful things you learn in school. How to write your letters and do math and give a speech. Finding out that there are all kinds of people in the world and you have to get along with them the best you can. Learning to be independent and do your homework and show up when you are supposed to. All 5 girls have done well, and now I am down to the last year. Where does time go?

I started quilting at around the same my oldest started school, so I've been quilting for 25 years, too - I have to remind people of this when they see some of my "collection". It has taken me a long time to accumulate all those quilts, and the skills needed to create them. It is a process to learn all the skills you need to be a success, in life and in quilting, but if you don't enjoy the journey you miss out on a lot. So we enjoy the moment while we are in it, look forward to the future and what will be, and look back on the past with tears in our eyes and gratitude in our hearts.

Good lessons for life, and for quilting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I was really excited yesterday when I looked at my art book! I knew immediately what I wanted to try for my creative challenge, but had to go to work, run errands and attend to some business matters. I haven't been so excited about getting to work on a project in ages. I even forced myself to do the work I had planned on some journals before I allowed myself that hour of play time, but I can tell you - that picture was open on my sewing table and the ideas were running through my head.

The part that I really liked about this painting you can't see on the large picture but check it out here: Schloss Kammer on the Attersee I. The reflection of the trees on the water really was my inspiration. This would be a really neat painting to re-create in fabric, but given my short time span what I really wanted to do was focus on that reflection and I though the best way to do this would be to piece in wiggly strips, using the front of my fabric for the trees and the back for the reflection in the water. It would have been nice if I had time to piece the house and bushes, but for the sake of time I chose this barn fabric as my background. Kind of funky, right? This was left over from a pair of boxer shorts I made for one of my girls about 15 years ago!

I loved the green I found for the trees/reflection - it really captured the look of the trees in the painting in color. Piecing in the wiggly strips was not too hard, and now is a technique I wouldn't hesitate to use for other projects. It's interesting how the look of the strips changes depending on the direction you press the seams, too.

I'm not sure if I will finish this up in any way, or just let it live for a while on my design board, then discard it. I did have a wonderful time playing, and it was really enjoyable to be so enthusiastic about a project - so for my, this challenge is a success already. I did decide though, that I need one rule. I have to put away my toys when I am done playing. Otherwise I am going to have a big mess to deal with!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's Shakin'?

Seems like a lot of shaking going on this week - earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia (where my parents and grandparents live!). Hope we don't get any shaking going on here - I've got enough going on without any natural disasters, thank you very much.

I'm working on some more fun projects - Beatles fabrics! I've got some pillowcases, journal covers and a messenger bag to sew. They're looking pretty cute so far, I'll share some pictures when I finish!

I had fun celebrating my birthday last week. Enjoyed a very special treat - authentic french Macarons! A dozen delightfully delicious treats were delivered to my door and savored bit by bit throughout the week. I am inspired to try to make some of these on my own, but they sound pretty tricky. Maybe when the weather is cooler. Right now it's pretty warm and humid for our area. My daughter says it's sad we complain about the heat when it's 70 degrees. That's ok. We'll take what we can get!

I decided that I want to do some creative challenges (totally on my own, no rules, no deadlines, no guilt!). I have a wonderful book that has a beautiful piece of art for each day of the year. So every day I want to create something inspired by the featured art. Today I did this little 6 1/2 inch block. It was inspired by the colors in the painting. I loved the rich reds and blues. I like how my block turned out. I don't think I'll make a block every day, but I think when I do make a block, it will be a 6" block so I can put them all together into a quilt eventually. Anyway, that's my idea for today. It could change next week, but for now, that's my idea. I'm not going to post every day on this, but will try to once in a while. I don't want to feel pressured about this, just want to have fun and do something to stretch myself. Right now I'm excited about it and can't wait for tomorrow to see what I am going to do!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


A year ago today I was celebrating my special day here...

Wasn't that a birthday to remember? I was feeling a little wistful last week thinking about it, but then I realized what a blessing it was to get to go at all! I will never forget the wonderful time I had sharing this experience with my daughter - what a terrific way to spend a birthday - but isn't each day a precious gift? Should I be any less happy because I am in my own home? I think not!

And every day we have to spend with our loved ones here on this earth is a blessing, no matter what. Life brings trials and pain, but how we choose to live each moment is how we overcome those things. Yes, I have worries and troubles, but each day I want to laugh, and experience the peace that I have been given through trusting in the One who holds me in His Almighty hands.

My husband and I were laughing this morning. Guess what I got for my birthday this year? A new radiator for my car! Ah, yes, I could cry and pout that we had to do this, but I am happy for a car that will get me where I want to go - what a blessing not to have to walk up hill to the store for milk and bread! (yes, I really did cry a little when we found out that it needed to be done, but I got over it...)

Whatever is bugging you today, let it go - think of something to be thankful for and smile. Life is too short to be sad!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Historic Paris Walk,

***no quilting in this post, more detail of Paris 2010 trip!***

After enjoying the view from the top of Notre Dame we brought out our guidebook and started out on the Historic Paris walk from Rick Steves. His self guided tours are probably not for everyone, but we enjoyed his slightly corny sense of humor and the historic insights presented. They can be downloaded for free, and are a great resource that can really add to your trip, especially if you don't plan on taking organized tours.

The first place we went afterwards was the Deportation Memorial. It was closed, but we listened to the guide and were sobered by the things that this memorial seeks to remind visitors of. Such a sad piece of history that World War II is.

After hearing about the Isle de la Cite we proceeded on to the left bank and enjoyed strolling the narrow streets and taking in the sights. We loved the book stalls and picked up a nice stash of postcards at a wonderful price!
I don't remember what church this was, but the gates were locked! We were brought into the world of medieval paris. We skipped the bookstores, knowing that we didn't have room in our luggage for all the temptations there! We actually passed up the quilt shop, not even realizing it, but would return there later, for today we were on the way to the Latin Quarter.

This is St Severins. It is an example of flamboyant architecture. Flamboyant means flame like. Really interesting, as I just thought of the word as meaning something showy and extravagant. Words are so interesting to me, and learning the root of this word really added a different point of view on it! This church also featured some great gargoyles!
This is St. Michael's fountain in Place St Michelle, aren't the dragons great? We learned about the Sorbonne, cafe culture, and revolutionists! Lots of history took place in this area, very interesting!
St. Chapelle -I was very excited to see this church's famous stained glass windows. We were also eager to use our special passes to skip the line, but since the church is located in the courtyard of the government buildings we didn't see much, if any benefit to our passes. There was a long line of people outside and on occasion a man would come out and pull a few people with passes through. Eventually we got to go in, having to pass through metal detectors and having our bags checked out first. Can you believe this magnificent cathedral was quilt in only 5 years? This is the ground floor - for the common folks.
Upstairs was for the wealthy patrons! (More spiral stairs, but not as many as Notre Dame!) We had a fabulous time looking at the windows - they tell the entire Christian history of the world in these glass panels, there are so many to look at you could literally spend hours here. They are simply breathtaking with all the detail.
The outside, which is beautiful, but nothing compared to the lovely windows inside.
The huge gates outside the church (and government buidings!). The bathrooms here were awful, we figured that they would be nice, but the public ones are actually a little scary, no attendant, the lighting is iffy and I wouldn't linger here alone at all. We looked at the Palais de Justice, complete with robed attorneys!
At this point we headed for the Conciergerie, but it had closed for the day, so we decided to return after our visit to the Louvre Museum the next day. This clock there was built in 1370! By this time were a bit tired, so decided to return to our hotel room for a rest before we ventured out for dinner and more sight seeing. We were definitely in need of a little rest before we could carry on after the climb up Notre Dame, and it made our evening so much nicer.

After several successful meals we were ready to tackle finding our dinner near the Eiffel Tower. We had thoughts of going up the tower, but the lines were long so we settled for a stroll from the busy Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower, then on to the Champs De Mars Brasserie for dinner. Naomi had a pasta dish and I had a Salade Nicoise, complete with anchovies which I tried for the first time! Very salty, but not too bad. We enjoyed a leisurely meal there - loving that we didn't feel rushed to complete our meal and make way for the next diners. One of the best things about Paris is that leisurely attitude toward dining. I loved the feeling of not being in a hurry! We stayed til it was dark, then made our way back to the Eiffel Tower, being treated to a lovely sight of it starting to glitter just as we turned the corner through the trees - simply breathtaking. We debated taking a boat tour, or simply returning to the hotel so we could make an early assault on the Louvre Museum the next day. Sleep won out, so we headed to the metro and ended our evening with plenty of time for a hot bath and a good night of rest, looking forward to Mona Lisa and Winged Victory.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Going With the Flow

Sometimes you start out the day with grand intentions of what you will accomplish. At times that will work, and your day will go the way you planned. I find that more often than not my days don't seem to proceed accordingly. Take this morning for instance. My plan when I went to bed last night was to work on getting a quilt finished. I awoke too early to get up, so my brain started working and planning on it's own. Before you know it I fell back to sleep and dreamed of...making bags. Out of corduroy! Where in the world did that come from, I don't know, but I decided to go with it.

Or not...I started writing this in the morning, fully intending to get some purses sewn and pictures taken, but it was not to be. I did found some pretty corduroy with flowers, but not the one with cherries that I really wanted. Then I messed around for a while, cleaning and putting things away, went to work on a top for a shop sample, cut the background for another top that I am making and never did get around to the purses! Oh well. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

By the way, if you like lemon, buy some rice chex and make "lemon buddies" They are so good! Like little bites of lemon meringue pie we decided. Yumm!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Retro Messenger Bag by Ellen Medlock

Isn't this a fun bag? It was so much fun to work with these great fabrics - the bicycle prints are organic cotton, so soft and a wonderful texture. This is the Retro Messenger Bag. The pattern is by Ellen Medlock and is a great, easy to follow set of instructions. Every step was quite clear and the result was wonderful. (I love how the strap came out with the bicycle wheels on this side!)
I liked the way the handle attacked with the hardware - it makes the bag hang quite well.
It was fun to fussy cut the panels for the front and the back of the bag. The Rosie panel on the front is from a t-shirt. I used fusible interface on the back to stabilize it, then just used it like any piece of fabric. It worked quite well and I am excited to try some other projects using t-shirt panels - I definitely have enough to work with!

Anyway, this is a pattern I would make again, very easy and I love the results.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Apple Blossom Fairy Quilt

Crossed another quilt off the UFO list this week! I've had this top home for a few months now, it was a shop sample for over a year and finally sold all the panels that went with it. I loved it as a top, but was really conflicted about quilting it. I really did not want to outline all the detailing, but find it really hard to quilt through faces on quilts. Especially when they are as sweet as these are.
It just doesn't seem right to sew through such darling little faces, does it? Last week I basted it, though, fully intending to overall quilt through the whole thing. Chose a nice peach colored thread that wouldn't be too obvious and told myself it would be just fine, like a piece of art with brush strokes. Up until the moment I started I really wasn't going to outline. But then I took one more look at that precious baby and had to do it. Outlined the entire center panel. It really wasn't that bad, and I love the way it looks. Except for the sky. I might have to load some blue thread on and do clouds or something.
But at least for now, it's done, and I've even listed it for sale in my Etsy shop! So if you are looking for some darling Apple Blossom Fairies, they are available right now...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Notre Dame - Underground and Up to the Top!

***No quilting in this post, I am continuing with my Paris Tour!***

On Tuesday morning, Naomi and I got up early, ready for our first day of "real" sight-seeing. We had decided the night before to take the easy road and eat breakfast at our hotel instead of struggling with trying to find a cafe. So down a set of spiral stairs we went, not sure exactly what we would find, but comforted in knowing that we would be able to nourish our bodies before starting out on the days adventure. We were thrilled with the breakfast available - fresh juice (the best orange juice ever, we both wanted to drink the whole pitcher!) yogurt, cheese and ham slices, and wonderful coffee! After we seated ourselves at a small table a hostess came and brought us each three rolls on a plate - one hard roll, one regular croissant and a chocolate croissant! Yummy, yum, yum. There was no one else in the breakfast room and we contentedly ate and chatted, planning our excursion of the day. I think another family came in midway through, but they were not american, so did not visit with us.

After eating, we set out for the metro, this time fully confident we could find our way. I believe this is the morning that we spotted our banks atm machine, just down from the stop - very convenient! We boarded the metro, (thankful for knowing the stop this time) - we wanted to find the Tourist Office, but only knew the metro stop. So we bravely got off at the Pyramides station and exited. We were momentarily lost, but quickly spotted our destination, stepped inside and purchased our 4-day passes. I highly recommend purchasing one if you plan on doing a lot of museum hopping as we were. Not only did we save a lot of money, but we also saved a lot of time, as often we were able to enter the museums through a special line without waiting long. Not everywhere unfortunately, but at many places.

We entered the courtyard of Notre Dame, and unfortunately I had forgotten my headphones so we were forced to use the guidebook instead of the audio guide. This was a little more difficult, but fortunately the entire guide is the same, so it worked out. We both enjoyed learning the history and reading details about what we were seeing, so it was something we enjoyed and we felt like it gave an added depth to our experience. It's impossible to tell the scale of the church from pictures. It's absolutely breathtaking, not only the sheer size, but the detail is awesome.

As you can see we arrived earlier than most of the crowds! For the rest of the day this courtyard was jam-packed with other tourists! I am glad we were able to get some pictures before it got busy - this is me, with the same big cheesy grin I wore for most of the trip. This is near Point Zero - the center of Paris.

This is a close up of the statues at the bottom of the rose window at the entrance of the church. It depicts Mary cradling baby Jesus, with Adam and Eve. It was fascinating to read about all the statues and carvings! After spending some time just taking in the front of the church we took a quick detour to check out the Archeological Crypt. It was fascinating to see the remains of Roman ruins and see how the city of Paris began hundreds of years ago - there were some signs and explanations in English, but a lot was in French, and most of the interactive displays were broken. It was included in our Museum Pass, and didn't take long, so we didn't regret our visit, but were ready to see Notre Dame from the inside!
By the time we re-entered the courtyard a line had formed for entry. We joined the line, which seemed quite long, but in reality only took about 15 minutes. The inside of the church was so lovely - very large, and despite the people there was a very hushed and reverent atmosphere. I took a lot of very blurry photos, but like this one of one of the windows. All of the windows tell a story, so one can spend a good amount of time, just looking at those. There are many statues (we spotted another Joan of Arc!) and historical artifacts to be seen.

Outdoors once again we walked around the right side of the cathedral where there is a small park with benches where you can sit and relax. As this day was a rainy one we didn't linger long, but enjoyed taking a few more pictures and proceded to the rear of the church to use the facilities, then around to the left to join the line to climb the tower! The line stretched around to the rear of the church, but wasn't moving very quickly. After seeing the lady in front of us finishing up a sandwich we decided to do the same and eat our lunch in line. The lady turned out to be from Australia, and we ended up having a very fun chat - both of us happy to find someone who speaks English that we could share with! Naomi came back with lunch - Croque Madame, and Ham and Cheese Crepe. Yummy! I never would have thought about adding a fried egg to a sandwich, but it was delicious. The rain came in little spurts, but not too bad. I was glad for my raincoat! Unfortunately the Museum Pass does not give you an advantage here and we had to wait in the same line as everyone else.Every once in a while the line would move forward in bursts. We later realized that they can only allow a certain amount of people up at a time - the tower is only so big and can only accommodate a limited amount at once. It was a nice wait, and good company with our new friend!
I was really glad it didn't rain hard, if it had we would have had to move away from the side of the church, as these chimera would have started spitting water on our heads! Finally we rounded the side of the building and entered the gate to climb the tower. To get there we had to ascend a very narrow (just over the span of my arms!) spiral staircase up about a million stairs! And then you are just in the gift shop! At this point our new friend discovered that she had waited for two hours to climb the stairs when she though she was going in the cathedral - wonder how many people this happens to? Pretty easy mistake to make as there are no signs outside!

Once in the gift shop you wait until enough people have cleared that the next batch can go up to the tower - an even narrower staircase - you can feel the wear in the stairs and your foot barely fits on the actual step! Another million steps, the stairs just go round and round with an occasional small window. You have no clue when you will get to the top so you just keep climbing and climbing because there are people behind and you don't want to look like an old woman that just turned step out a small door and look out on the most spectacular view! I had to stand for a while and just breath. My legs felt like rubber and my heart was pounding so fiercely I was afraid they would have to carry me down (how in the world would they do that down that little stair case?) Whew....but it was worth it! After catching my breath I was ready for the final assault to see the bell - wasn't going to miss that after making it all this way!
The spire of the cathedral from the tower. The green statues include the 12 apostles along with the architect of the spire. He is looking toward the spire, the apostles look out. Interesting, right? Although everything is still wet, it was just overcast and drippy. Now it's time to go back down the stairs...easier, but I was more worried about taking a tumble on the way down.
And a look up at where we had just been! 387 steps to the top, not a million. Still, a hard climb, and just the beginning of all the stairs we ended up climbing during our trip!One more look as we continued on our walk of Historic Paris. As you can see the clouds are starting to break up and the day is getting more pleasant!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"Land Army Bag" and Organizer Pattern

I had the pleasure of making two more projects from this nice red fabric with gold bicycles. One of them was an Organizer Pattern by 4Charity. She has a very nice little shop and donates 100% of the proceeds from her patterns! Isn't that sweet? I really loved making this little project, and found the pattern to be quite easy to follow and quick to make. It has pockets inside for a notebook and a pen, and whatever else you would like to keep safe and organized. This would make a nice little gift item, and she includes directions on personalizing your notepad and covering a button with fabric (I didn't do that, but used a vintage button from my stash instead.)

The next project is the "Land Army" bag by CharliesAunt. This is a pattern designer from Great Britain, and I love her patterns! They have a fun retro look and are really a pleasure to make! The "Land Army" bag pattern has a bow on the front that my customer did not want, so I had to make a few adjustments to make the bag without the bow, but it came out great - the instructions were very complete and easy to follow. The pattern pieces did not require any enlarging, just taping together the pieces. I like the shape and size of the bag, and the way the strap is attached works very well and is different. I added a small patch pocket to the inside of the bag, also.
I liked this bag so much that I purchased another pattern from her shop to make a bag for myself - I will post a picture of that some other time, I think I might like to make more of that one, too. Emma is nice enough to allow purchasers to make a limited amount of her bags for sale, so I might add a few to my shop for the fun of it!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cleaning out - and a swap!

I've been rather distracted the last few days with doing some cleaning out. My attic is full of lots of random boxes full of important keepsakes and treasures and Christmas decorations and - well, junk. Stuff I've collected and don't know what to do with. So I'm pulling out and sorting. Right now I've got a couple of boxes of fabric scraps from the 80s. The really bad part is it's not even mine. It was being cleared out of someone else's house about 10 years ago and ended up in mine. So now I am going to either make something out of these bits and pieces or pass them on.

Do you hold onto things for years, or do you pass them on for someone else to enjoy and use? I'm a big packrat, but I'm working on it. I have a nice collection of Christmas fabrics, and I'm signing up on Paula's blog for a swap - how exciting! I will get to pass some of my collection on and get some new goodies without actually adding to my stash - a win/win proposition in my book. If you would like to join in hop over and sign up!

I'm looking forward to sorting through some of my goodies and sharing with another quilter - how fun!