Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mail Fulfillment and Team Marissa

You gotta love the U.S. mail system, still best in the world.   My letter carrier left me three presents today.   My Kuerig coffee shipment and these two beauties:

The first is my supply package for the Bloom Bloom Pow! A Springtime Quilt-Along with Lee at Freshly Pieced.   

Just for this quilt-a-long, Amanda of A Crafty Fox and Westwood Acres made up these beautiful bundles from Lizzie House's Pearl Braclets line at Andover fabrics.

I just ordered my bundle two days ago and it's here already. The quilt-a-long starts March 28th and now I'm ready and psyched.  

The other present is my copy of Victoria Findlay Wolfe's book that I ordered just one week ago.  

Can't wait to dig in to both of these treasures.

While my letter carrier was bringing me these luscious gifts, I was actually at the post office (Click-n-Ship at was down all morning long).

I sent off my quilt top and pieced backing to my great friends at Missouri Star Quilt Company for them to do their magical machine quilting on my finished pieces made as part of the quilt-a-long with the Patchwork Posse and the Sewing Loft.  Here are nine of the eleven blocks laid out in the order I planned to stitch them together.  You might remember seeing some of them in earlier posts.  

The top left block is one I made up to use the left over triangle pieces from the Flying Geese block.   I had originally planned to make this a 12 block quilt and was looking for two other blocks to include while working on the raw edge applique block.  

The quilt-a-long was called Quick-As-A-Fox and had a fox as the raw edge applique piece, but the instructions from Becky at the Patchwork Posse didn't initially include a template for the fox as she wanted us to find the creativity within and use coloring book pages.  I made my block from a cartoon cat and went wild making him into a scrappy and scraggly tabby.

I have to admit it was hard forcing myself to sew it scrappy.   I kept wanting all the sewing lines to be perfect, but once I got into it, it was somewhat liberating.

When I placed "Tom" as an homage to my childhood cat, into the mix with the other blocks, he just didn't fit.  So then, still planning to make a couple of extra blocks, I decided he needed something on which to focus.  What better than a grouping of birdhouses?

This block is another free pattern in Marcia Hohn's  The Quilter's Cache.  I still have pins in the birdhouse holes in the photo above.  I eventually machine stitched them using a blanket stitch.

So I played around with the arrangment and still couldn't fit the cat and birdhouses into the quilt to my liking.    And then inspiration hit and voila.....they could go on the quilt back.

That also meant, I was done making blocks for this quilt.   Good thing too, since I got a call from my good friend Aimee who asked me to help her put baskets together for a silent auction for a fundraiser to fight childhood cancer (more on that a bit later).   I then decided that this quilt would be donated for the auction instead of going to the Blessed Trinity Parish prayer blanket ministry.   The church will get a replacement quilt before the end of summer.

So the quilt top was pieced, sashed and bordered and measures 48" x 48".   Ooh, and it looks like I finally cleaned up the guest bedroom!   

Now the fun began with piecing the back together.    I wanted to use the brown as the backing but didn't have enough even with the two blocks.   So I framed the birdhouses similar to the quilt top with a wide pieced border and then added sashing strips to break up the large brown spaces.   Tom was kept at the angle I liked in the photo above.

The plan is to use the yummy paisley print (directly above) for the binding.   I know I'll get the quilt back in time for the fundraiser on April 20th.

So now, let's talk about Team Marissa.

Marissa Ierna is the beautiful 19 year old daughter of Todd and Diane who live next door to Aimee.   Aimee is my good friend and was my neighbor across the street in Centreville, Virginia and what a joy that we now live only a couple miles from each other in Jacksonville, Florida.   Through Aimee and Rob, we met Todd and Diane and have grown very close to their family.   Marissa got me hooked on the Twilight books and soon we were buddies at the midnight premieres for each of the next films; unfortunately, Marissa could not make the very last premiere due to the effects of her chemo regimen.    

Now back to the fundraiser.  Todd will be the Elvis in the flyer and yes, I made his Elvis costume a few years ago.   I'll have to get picture for the Maus blog.

We'll be there to support Marissa and if you're interested in helping out....'s a link to Marissa's blog...

She'll tell you her story on her own words and you'll see how she plans to give back to Wolfson's Childrens Hospital.

Marissa:  you are a remarkable young woman who embodies inspiration, grace and dignity.   You go girl!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

99 Things I Have Done

I just saw this on Munchkin Quilts and thought I'd play along.  

This is an existing list which I've just reviewed and updated for me.

Things in RED are what I have done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightening storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (beading)

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run  (I'm guessing Wii baseball doesn't count, huh?)

32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person  (Honeymoon)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance  (riding shotgun has to count)

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class  (self defense class)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square  (on New Years Eve - twice - so extra credit)

74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (presuming a fish counts; but I was there   watching when my uncle in Germany killed and prepared a rabbit)

88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury  (got only as far as the jury box but wasn't selected, so this is like horseshoes and hand grenades....close enough)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
Not too bad, there are only 23 of these things I haven't done.   And I must say, a few of them are just never going to happen.  
See how you do.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Inspiration Found

Not quite as dramatic as Paradise Lost (still love my Milton!), but I did find inspiration today at the Jacksonville Modern Quilt Guild [my local guild] meeting.  For those "few" of you who actually read and follow this blog, ha ha....yes, I did make the meeting today, although I was a good 45 minutes late.

I walked in and Lynn was talking about Victoria Findlay Wolfe's book, 

and showed us some sample blocks she made by making fabric following Victoria's process. I thought to myself, that's pretty easy to do and then didn't think about it again until much later in the day. 

After the meeting I stopped at the JoAnn Fabrics on that side of town, across the river and through the woods; looking for just one fat quarter of the orange swirl print I used in my chevron quilt to augment the Swirl Charm packs by Whistler Studios at Windham Fabrics.

I already tried the two JoAnn's on my side of town, as well as, JoAnn's website but to no avail.   After deciding earlier this month to add another four panels to each row in this quilt, I was moving along quickly until I hit the orange row and realized I didn't have enough fabric for another block.   I already used most of that fat quarter for the Alzheimer's art quilt I donated last month.  Hence my mad search in all the Jacksonville JoAnn Fabric stores. 

I was contemplating using different fabric and taking the whole orange row apart; when the inspiration struck.   I have a pile of small pieces of the orange swirl fabric in a ziploc baggie, which is my favorite way to save the small scraps.  Since I do a lot of foundation paper piecing, I always keep a few small scraps just in case I need to add a smidge here or there.

So, I looked at this small orange swirl pile and thought to myself; can I make enough fabric from this?  I just needed one 5" square.   

The answer is yes!    Thank you, Victoria, Lynn and the JMQG.

It's not exactly beautiful yet:  a.) I need to clean up a couple of the seams at the points;     b.)  definitely clean up those blue chalk marks, funny how the naked eye doesn't pick these things up; and  c.)  the made fabric seams will all but disappear when the quilt is machine quilted.   My goal is now to have this quilt completed by the end of the month. 
I was so thrilled to be inspired, I ordered Victoria's book today and should get it by the end of the week.  

So back to the JMQG meeting.  Yes, I did donate a block and told the story about how I had this dilemma about taking back the promised paper pieced block.   I made a duplicate of the one below but with a thin 1/2 inch border around the block.  I'm using some paper piecing templates from The Quilter's Cache by Marcia Hohn, but didn't pay close enough attention when I made the first block.   Her templates are for 12 inch unfinished blocks and they need to be adjusted since the other blocks are going to be 12 1/2 inches unfinished.  

After getting home from the guild meeting [inspiration hadn't struck me yet] I decided to make another turquoise and gray block.    As I was trimming the last of eight pieces for my variation of Marcia Hohn's Spiderweb block, below....

that's when the inspiration hit!  I was thinking about the making fabric process and my baggie of small orange scraps and trimmed the last spiderweb piece exactly at the 1/4 inch mark instead of adjusting and making it 1/2 inch on the outside border.  So while I solved the chevron quilt dilemma, I now have to make another corner for the spiderweb block.   I'll just have to add this too perfectly trimmed corner to my stash for future fabric making.

All in all, it was a great day.  See you soon,


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to reneg on a promised Block?

I posted last month about making the February block in the Lucky Stars BOM (with don't call me betsy) using turquoise and gray for the Jacksonville Modern Quilt Guild meeting. 

Well, due to that four week work commitment I had in February, I neither made the meeting nor sent in my block.  Not to worry, the JMQG extended the submissions through the March meeting which is this Saturday.   I decided to make a second block for the local guild since I still had lots of turquoise and gray fabric.  

So I went back to the "not betsy" Lucky Stars BOM folder and made the practice block from December.  

I really liked how this one came out so I made the 6 1/2 inch version for my Alzheimer's Quilt which I'll talk about later this month.   Anyway, I then decided to make the January block using the turquoise and gray fabrics.

Of course, I couldn't stop there, so I whipped up the March "Ninja Star" block.   By this time, I was beginning to envision a quilt with these blocks.  While this color scheme wasn't one I would have picked on my own, it was beginning to grow on me.    
For grins and giggles, I wanted to see what a potential row of these stars would look like, and began to feel it.  Now I am hooked.
We're only on the fourth block with the Lucky Stars BOM, so I looked through my online links  and found a bunch of other foundation paper piecing patterns from the The Quilter's Cache by Marcia Hohn.    Click on her link and see the hundreds of patterns she offers for free.
The following block from Quilters Cache is called Snowblossoms...

and then this block they call Stars and Diamonds, which still needs to be sewn together; only the top right corner has been stitched.

Ok, I admit it,  I'm out of control with these blocks and have yet to decide which one (if any) I'll bring as my donation to the JMQG meeting on Saturday.   
I still have a couple of days to figure it out....or better yet,  I can make more turquoise and gray blocks.  I'm thinking queen sized quilt, so that would be roughly 64 blocks;  add sashing and borders and maybe also a few modern minimalist blocks here and there, and we're at a king sized quilt.  Enough, make me stop!!!
Tomorrow I'm teaching a basic crochet class so have to switch craft hats.

See you later,


Monday, March 11, 2013

Angela's Quilt

About ten days ago, I got back Angela's comfort quilt that I sent to my friends at the Missouri Star Quilt Company for them to machine quilt.   

Here's the quilt top on the queen-sized guest bed.  It's a 42" by 42" disappearing four patch quilt using 5" squares.   I selected fabrics and colors trying for a sense of whimsy.

The folks at MSQC are truly quilting magicians. I sent them quilt top and included backing fabric that was technically too small.  I called them once I recognized my mistake, but they made it work and sent me back a beautifully quilted piece.   

Here's the quilt hanging in the Family Room.  

Here's another view on my King-sized bed.  I guess I need to work on my photography focus.   Well you get the idea of the movement of the piece, even if the photo is a bit fuzzy.

I am really pleased how it came out.  The background fabric is a black reversal of the pink butterfly print used in the quilt top and binding.

And.....yes, the Maus has her own label.....

I hope Angela enjoys the quilt, especially on the crappy chemo days.

Stay strong Ang, and Happy Birthday.   Love you lots little sister.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Starts and Stops and Some Progress, Oh My!

I admit it.   I have too many works in progress; and most of them are knitting WIPS that are rapidly aging since I got the quilting bug.  One of the goals of the blog is to post photos of these unfinished projects as a kick in the pants to myself so I will be hopefully inspired but probably just shamed into finally finishing some of them.    Today, I'll start posting the quilt projects and over the next week, I'll have to post the Knitting projects.

Angela's Quilt

Woo Hoo!  It is totally finished but I can't post any photos until she receives it for her birthday on March 11th.  Growing up, we always watched Lawrence Welk, and during one show he mentioned his upcoming birthday was on March 11th.  So with the urging of Mum, Angela wrote to Mr. Welk and he sent her a birthday card every year until he passed away.    Wonderful....Wonderful. 

Angela's Quilt is my third quilt completed this year and I love how it turned out.      

The Chevron Quilt

This is going to be one of my favorite quilts and will probably go to one of the Munchkins (great nieces) who live out west.   Not sure yet; I'm waiting for the quilt to tell me with whom it wants to live. 
Right now with the eight panels in each row, the width is around 33 inches and the length when I add on the ninth row (Black and Gray) is at 72 inches.    I think I'll add another four panels to each row which would make it around 48 inches wide without borders and binding.
I'm still playing around with the rows or order of colors in the quilt, so I may have to post a few more photos before I decide.   
The fabric consists of Swirl Charm packs by Whistler Studios at Windham Fabrics purchased online from my good friends at the Missouri Star Quilt Company (MSQC).   They have the best stuff and I haven't been disappointed yet.   Unfortunately there wasn't equal variation by color in the charm packs, so I had to augment with fat quarters here and there.    
Chevron Quilt - HSTs
Amazing how these little piles of Half Square Triangles turn into a stunning chevron quilt.
The Ugly Quilt
I purchased the 4 inch flowered pre-cuts online from a well known catalogue company when I first contemplated quilting again.   I absolutely hated the prints the minute I opened the package.  I just don't recall them being this BLECH when I ordered them; but obviously they were on sale for a reason.  I matched them with gold and green since those colors are in each flowered print and with an off-white floral print. 
When I look at the quilt I think, Hmmm, it's not that bad.   Then I fold it up and it gets buried under other projects and in my mind's eye I shudder when I think about it.  I'm looking for just the right fabric for borders and backing to dress it up a bit. 
Quick-as-a-Fox Quilt 
This is the Quilt-along with the Patchwork Posse and The Sewing Loft and I've been posting photos of the individual blocks fairly regularly, since they come out once a week.  We have two more blocks to make before it gets put together.    
Lucky Stars BOM

This is the year-long foundation paper piecing Quilt-along with don't call me betsy.   Elizabeth Dackson, (not Betsy) recently gave me permission to use her Lucky Stars patterns for my Alzheimer's art quilt commitment, so I've been making  a few 6-1/2 inch blocks instead of the larger ones.
That's it for now, so...
Maus Out



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Can these jeans be saved?

Many many many years ago, my brother Eric asked me if I could fix a pair of jeans he ripped.   Ever since then, he'll call me every so often and ask, "can you still do that thing you do with your sewing machine and fix my jeans?"    That thing I do, was something I stumbled upon way back in the early 1990's and is basically a darning function using the honeycomb stitch and free motion sewing.  The result is an indestructible armor like patch on his jeans that I call "Armor-Darning." 

Most folks would just throw out the jeans, but not Eric, and here are some pictures of his latest requests...

Jeans #1 - Front

Jeans #1 Front to Back Inseam view

How Eric manages to destroy his jeans the way he does especially since they aren't a tight fit on him, is beyond my comprehension.   

Jeans #2
If you look closely at this second pair of jeans, you'll notice the shaded area to the left of the fly.   That's where I armor darned them back in 2009!   
Here's how the fixed jeans look after my armor darning today.

Jeans #2


Jeans #1 Front

Jeans #1 Back
Although Eric says he doesn't care what color thread I use, I've noticed over time and a few washings, thread in the armor does tend to blend into the denim quite nicely.     
These two pairs of jeans will be in the mail back to New Hampshire tomorrow, just in time for Eric to have them for the next snowstorm!
Until next time,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What have I been up to, you ask?

Aside from being "missing in action" due to a temporary four week work commitment, I have actually accomplished a few odds and ends.

Let's backtrack a bit first.  After my last post on February 6th, I helped a neighbor and good friend Helen coordinate a couples baby shower for another neighborhood couple,  Francesca and Michael as they await the arrival of John Carlo Alexander.   The shower was great and even Bubba enjoyed himself.   

Last Fall, I made a few reversible flannel baby bibs and burp cloths for Francesca when I found out she was pregnant.   These are from my own pattern created almost 20 years ago when I lived in Virginia.  The bibs have a knit ribbed neckband for easily pulling on or off over the child's head.  Thank God for the serger!  


At the last minute (which means the night before the shower) I decided to whip up a quilt for John Carlo's room after learning it was decorated in trains.   I did finish hand sewing the quilt binding literally an hour before we had to be at Helen's.  All Bubba could do was watch my typical last minute frenzy and try to stay out of the way.   Did I mention I was also finishing the Stromboli, prepping the prosciutto and pesto flatbread, and piping home made whipped cream onto the mini cheesecakes at the same time?      

The plan of documenting my endeavors clearly failed with the last minute quilt and I forgot to photograph it before wrapping it.   I'll have to visit Francesca to take a picture of the quilt in John Carlo's room.

I did photograph the spiced nut tray since that was delivered to Helen's house before the quilt madness started.

Spiced Roasted Nuts
This is a favorite holiday treat I've been making for a few years and the nuts have a similar flavor and texture to the roasted Bavarian nuts you get at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.  The recipe came from a friend here in Jacksonville who probably got it from a food magazine since the printed recipe she gave me reflects page 49. 

Here's the recipe and I make both individual nut batches and mixed batches using almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts ....


Works in Progress:

I also finished and registered the three art quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative and mailed them off in late February.     Here's a photo of the back of my Homage to Music  art quilt.  It is registered as #13327.

The Eternity Knot quilt entitled "Eternally Gerti" and dedicated to Gerti Meck who passed away in February after a long battle with Alzheimer's is registered as #13330.

The August Sunset art quilt dedicated to Uncle Frank is registered as #13328.   Please click on the AAQI link over to the right on my blog and check out all of the art quilts available for auction.


Quick-as-a-fox Quilt along with the Patchwork Posse and the Sewing Loft.   I was three weeks and three blocks behind schedule, so now that I have the work commitment over, I was able to focus on Block 5 - Appliqued Hexagons; Block 6 - Dresden Plate; and Block 7 - Curved Strips.   They were all relatively easy to complete. 

Block 5 - Appliqued 3" Hexies

Block 6 - Dresden Plate

Block 7 - Curved Strips

I wasn't sure if I would enjoy making this quilt and now that there are only two blocks left, I think I will make another one but with more vibrant colors.   I still love these fabrics, but the colors just look too sedate to me.   I'm sure when it is all put together it will be beautiful and is scheduled to be one of my quilt donations for the prayer blanket ministry at Blessed Trinity Church.

So that's all for now.   See you all soon.