Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Switching from fall to Christmas

Swapping out the fall decorations for Christmas is partially done.

On Sunday all of the stockings were hung from the mantle, lights and some of the ornaments were added to the tree.  Somehow those fall flowers just don't fit in.  I have this big pot on the hearth and change out the flowers for different seasons.  Guess it's time to turn this into a poinsettia pot. 

It was easier to decorate an 8' Christmas tree when I was younger.  I have a huge collection of ornaments collected over my entire life.  My mom gave me a new ornament every year, and I've continued that tradition with my kids, and now my grandkids.  And I add at least one new one for myself each year.  Even an 8' tree can't hold them all.  

So I work on it for awhile, then take a break to do something else before going back to work on it more.  It won't feel like the holiday season until that tree is done and the rest of the house is decorated.  It's the only season I go overboard with decorations.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Scrappiness Is Happiness blocks

I'm all caught up with the Scrappiness Is Happiness blocks. Yay!

For week #5 the block is Happy Trails.  It's 16" square.  I can picture this one made in all Christmas prints, or in patriotic colors.  Imagine scrappy blue with red and white 4-patches running through it. 

Week #6 is a Log Cabin variation.  This was a quick one to sew, and finishes at 12".  

There are a variety of block sizes in this sew-along, and each block is different.  This will be a cheery sampler when it's finished.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Design Wall Monday - planning ahead

 I'm in planning mode this morning instead of quilting mode.  My sewing room needs some reorganization, and I'm still working toward some end of the year finishes.  As a list-maker, I am working on a plan to keep some focus.

Keeping up with a couple of sew-along projects is pretty high priority.  I finished the 3.5" red and white Empower block for Sewcialites 2.  That means I'm up-to-date with all of the versions of all 5 blocks so far - until the next block is posted on Friday.

I'm not so sure the upper left section of this Empower block had the best fabric choice. There was too much white to use it in such tiny pieces.  But it's staying as is.  

The Scrappiness Is Happiness sew-along block for last week is half made.  So my goal this morning is to finish this block and make the one for this week.  Then I'll be up-to-date on this one.

My list of goals for this week:

** finish Scrappiness blocks for weeks 5 and 6
** clean up ONE area of sewing room
** finish quilt top for Nanci's Stars quilt
** work on Row 4 applique (houses & trees) for Humble Homes.  I've neglected this for a couple of weeks to play with other projects. Time to finish this up!

What's on YOUR design wall today?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Saturday sewing and reading

 One itty bitty block is done and the other is in progress.  A success in spite of the challenges.

One inch half square triangles - 20 of them in a single 3.5” block.  Plus 4 more HSTs just a bit bigger at 1.5”.  Yikes!!  This was certainly a test of my fine motors skills - and accurate cutting and stitching.  I feel pretty confident about my cutting skills and of accurate seams.  However, it was sometimes challenging to just hold onto the small pieces.  

I pressed all of the seams open, and I used Best Press, which did make a difference.  The wool ironing mat also helped make these little bits lay flat. The thought that the block designer was punishing us briefly flitted through my brain.  But once this one was done I felt really proud of myself.  The designer was clever to name it Empower. LOL

After finishing the black and bright one, I got started on the red and white version.  The tiny HSTs are all stitched, but still need to be pressed and trimmed to size. However, I decided I really needed a break to sew larger pieces for awhile.  Since that bag of fall fabrics was still sitting on the floor next to my cutting station, that is where I turned.

Four new garlic knot blocks are complete, and added to the 5 that were already in the bag.  Some of the parts for the new ones were also in the bag.  I quickly cut what I needed to finish them.  

And today I’ll hopefully get that other 3” Sewcialites block finished.  And I should get the naked Christmas tree decorated.  All of that MIGHT happen if I can pull myself away from the book I’m reading - Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate.  

On Thanksgiving Day daughter #1 recommended this book and a couple of others to her sister and I.  We had been talking about how frustrating it is to try to solve some of the mysteries in family history, and the topic came around to adoptions and how secretive they often were.  This is a fascinating novel based on the true story about a woman who ran a child trafficking business from the 1920s until 1950.  

Once I finish the novel I plan to dive into a couple of the other recommended books with the real stories of the criminal Georgia Tann.  The topic hits close to home as I have never been able to find my own half brother given up for adoption in 1948.  This is one of those books that is difficult to put down.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

No more sewing withdrawal

 After being gone for a week, then having a day with grandkids, followed by a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with family - I was happy to have some sewing time on Friday.  No Black Friday shopping for me!  Just Black Friday sewing, and then another Quilt of Valor presentation. 

On the RSC front, I assembled Column 4 of the small hearts project, and then added that one to the first 3 completed.  It's really beginning to take shape.  There are probably enough 4.5" hearts left in the basket to begin assembling another vertical column.  And then I'll just continue making more of them during 2023 as various colors are announced.  I'm aiming for 9 vertical columns of hearts. 

I also made the 9" and 6" versions of the 5th Sewcialites 2 block.  It's called Empower and designed by Carrie Nelson.  Getting this one to lay flat without cutting off points is definitely fitting the definition of being empowered.  The green 9" version wasn't too difficult.  And I even used the extra triangles for a 3.5"  pinwheel block.  Not sure where it will go, but maybe as part of the back or label.

The 6" (finished) block required a bit more concentration.  But it turned out great, much to my surprise.  Now to see if I can manage that teensy tiny 3" version.  

And I got the top 2 rows sewn together for the Nanci's Stars RSC project. 

I'm linking up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge:

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Back to the real world

 We're finally back home!  Now to get caught up on things, and to enjoy some family time for Thanksgiving too.  I have a long checklist for today.  

We left last week Wednesday for the Bahamas, and were supposed to be back home last night.  The plan was to pick up 3 of the grandkids once our flight arrived and bring them home with us. They don't have school today and then we'll all meet up with the family for Thanksgiving.

Our flight out of Nassau left early, and we arrived early in Atlanta, with an expected 3 hour layover.  But instead of leaving Atlanta about 8:30 pm (Eastern time), it was about 10:30 pm.  Luckily there was only 1 gate change, and that was close by.  We just crashed at our daughter's house once we finally arrived as we were exhausted.  Up early this morning and headed the 90 miles home with the kids, so grandpa could make his 9:00 am Zoom meeting.  We made it.  

The suitcases are unpacked, the first load of laundry is running, and a late breakfast was made.

The grocery list has been updated and a couple of the kids will probably go with me to pick up mail and restock our grocery situation.  Then I think we'll make a couple of treats to take with us for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  My 2 daughters and 2 sons-in-law are doing ALL the cooking.  Knowing we were not going to be home long, I offered to bring the wine and some snacks.  That I can handle.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Taking a holiday

I’ll return shortly . . .

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Autumn themed scraps

Hmmm . . . hiding in a bin under the table in my sewing room was this big bag full of autumn fabrics, and even a few blocks.  I knew that I had pulled together some fall prints a few years ago for a possible project but had no idea where that fabric might have ended up.  And I didn't make whatever project I was planning at the time.  Maybe I quit after making these blocks.

Now the lost is found.  There were 5 Garlic Knot blocks pinned together, and the squares for another sitting in the top of this bag.  And the bag is really stuffed FULL and packed tight.  

So when I get home next week, and once Thanksgiving is over, this bag will get some attention.  Maybe there will be a pretty new autumn quilt happening over the winter.  Or maybe much of this will end up back in the bin under the table.  Either way, it will be fun to play with those newly discovered scraps.  

 I'm linking up with RSC this weekend . . . and hopefully I can get my link actually saved to the linky party as my iPad doesn't always cooperate.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Reflecting on the past

 Last Sunday afternoon my husband and I went to our previous home town for the Veteran's Day lunch, and to present a Quilt of Valor - and of course we did a bit of exploring too while there.  The town is really tiny with only about 150 people there anymore.  The school building where he and his 3 siblings all attended K-12 and where I taught for 18 years stands empty and sad looking.  His mother and her 11 siblings, plus our girls and their 16 cousins also all attended that school. 

We drove around town taking note of houses recently getting updates, and houses falling into decay. Main Street only has a bank, the post office, a bar, and a seed company remaining.  And then we drove out past the farm he grew up on, where we lived for 10 years too.  That big old house is gone now, and the young family farming that land has built a new house.  That was bittersweet.  But it was an old house when we lived there, so I'm sure it was time.

And then we drove a few miles south past his uncle's farm.  The aunt and uncle have been gone a long time of course, but one of his cousins has farmed it for decades.  This cousin just retired this fall and rented the land out to some younger farmers.  And look at what filled the pasture across from his house!!  I haven't seen a big herd of sheep in this area in many many years.  And those llamas were so curious - doing their job as the herd guardians.  If I had approached the fence I'm sure those guardians would have taken notice.

We lived on and farmed my husband's family farm from 1978 to 1988 following the sudden death of his dad.  I was a city girl so that was a definite culture shock to me, but I loved it.  We raised cattle and sheep, having a herd of 700-750 ewes.  And we had a few horses.  My father-in-law was a horseman, even training horses for other people.  He loved horses. 

This old photo is my husband and his dad with Lady.  She was the last horse remaining during our farming years.  She was a really big quarter horse and we always used her to sort off calves and to move cattle from pasture to pasture, or home for the winter.  She was the horse my husband grew up with, and rode the most often as a kid.  I had to step on an overturned 5 gallon pail to get a foot in the stirrup when I rode her because she was so big.  But she was very gentle. 

No hogs or chickens for us like his folks had, but we did raise pheasants a few years.  Back in the 70s and 80s there were a lot of big sheep herds in this area, along with the usual cattle.  But about the time we left the farm, most of our neighbors were getting rid of their sheep.  So we were quite excited to see this big herd.  My nephew's wife is a local veterinarian, and she recently told us that due to the drought the cattle herds are shrinking too.  Hopefully that will cycle back.  

It was a beautiful day, and I'm really glad we took the time to explore and reminisce.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Quilts of Valor

On Veteran's Day last week our group was privileged to award 2 Quilts of Valor in front of a very large crowd at the local Veteran's Day luncheon. There was supposed to be a third gentleman that day, but he has Covid unfortunately.  So we'll make arrangements for that one to be presented once he is recovered.

The ladies with me draped the quilts, and I did the speaking and photography.  

Then on Sunday I was lucky enough to present a quilt back in the small town (150 people) we used to live in - and it was to my brother-in-law.  He has served in uniform since he graduated from high school.  First he served in the military, then has devoted his life to law enforcement currently as the county sheriff.  This one was kept a surprise until we called him to come up front. 

 Have I said how honored I always feel being a part of the Quilts of Valor program?  

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Wildlife refuge

Our backyard is a safe place for all the wildlife that visits, and now my husband has really compounded the whole issue.  He's FEEDING them! 

Wild turkeys pass through our neighborhood, and yard, a couple of times a day.  Early in the summer we had 2 mama turkeys with a whole flock of little ones.  And then about a month ago we started seeing a mama turkey with 8 little ones from a late hatch.  Now she has only 6, but they seem to have joined forces with the big group.  

And now that Dave keeps tossing bird seed onto the back lawn, those turkeys have been going crazy out there.  It's a feast.  And now the squirrels just join the fun.  Yesterday we counted 10 squirrels.  He had to grease the poles on the hanging bird feeders to keep the squirrels away.

And we have deer who've discovered the easy feeding and stop by too.  The deer also are frequent visitors whether we feed them or not. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Design Wall Monday - Nov. 14

 My design wall is currently a crazy mix of projects, and that isn't likely to change any time soon.

Sewcialites 2 block #4 is Flirty by Chelsi Stratton.  This was a very quick and easy block, but just as cute as the others in the series so far.   And so far I'm keeping up with making 4 different versions.  I know that I got carried away here, but these have been fun.  And even making 4 blocks each week hasn't taken up much time.  

This will be a very busy week with appointments, college basketball, and some travel time.  Not much time for sewing will be available, except for maybe some counted cross stitch while traveling.  So I'll have to make blocks 5 and 6 over Thanksgiving weekend most likely.  

I'll be sharing some photos later in the week of the Quilts of Valor presentations our group has done this past week.  It was a really good week.  

What's on your design wall today?

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Another scrappy quilt

 The layout planning is done, so now it's time to start assembling it into rows.

This is Nanci's Stars.  It's all made with the same blocks and all in batiks.  The darker blocks were done with monthly RSC colors this year, and the neutral ones were done this last month.  Because I've taken several block sets from RSC and set them into quilt tops recently, my mind is turning to what blocks to have fun with going forward.  I love making a few at a time until I have enough for a quilt. 

And just because I'm so easily distracted, I've been playing every week with possible future scrappy projects.  There were empty skirt hangers in the closet that needed new block sets.  So now I have a few for "seed" hanging in there with the instructions attached.

The blocks above are a variation of an Irish Chain.  Very fast, very easy, and simple to adjust to pretty much any size you want to do.  These are 8.5" unfinished and used pieces cut in increments of 2.5", 4.5" (big square) and 6.5".  Since I have small bins holding those scrap sizes they were quick to put together.   If I went to 6.5" squares in that bottom corner, I could use up more of my guild friendship squares in the bin.  Then those other pieces would be cut using 3.5" measurements. Voila! - a 12" block is born just like that.  

Earlier this fall I tried out these Brick blocks - and again they could be made in any size you might want.  These were cut with 3.5" x 6.5" bricks and used 2" side strips.  It's a 6.5" block that would be turned in alternating directions.  Another great potential scrappy project for future.  And I have a project box FULL of bricks cut this size already - mostly in fun kid themed novelty prints.  

In mid-October I played with this scrappy block - from the Border Creek Station website.  This one is from their 2022 Stashbuster Challenge.  I actually made 2 blocks as test blocks.  These will be fun too.

And of course there are the small heart blocks too.  Notice how often I use white backgrounds?  I love the brightness of white backgrounds, so I make a lot of my scrappy quilts with scrappy white in the background.  Or creams, or other neutrals.  Guess I should think about stepping out of that comfort zone more often.  Or not.  LOL

Check out more Rainbow Scrap Challenge fun -

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veteran's Day

 A big thank you to all of the Veteran's in my life!  They include my dad, my grandfathers, my father-in-law, several uncles, 2 brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews-by-marriage, cousins, and more.

Earlier this year one of my cousins gathered photos of each of our fathers for a special Memorial Day edition of her local newspaper.  All 6 brothers served proudly in the military.  At our family reunion over Labor Day she had a laminated copy for each of us.  My dad is 3rd from the left.  All 3 oldest brothers served in combat during WWII.  The next 2 brothers were Korean War era, and the youngest brother served just after the Korean War.  

This morning I'll be helping with the presentation of several Quilts of Valor at the local Veteran's Day luncheon hosted by the VFW and Legion organizations.  I'm very honored to have a small part in recognizing the veterans in the community.

Two of the newest block sets made by our group went to QOV group members to assemble into tops.  And I've made 5 more QOV blocks this week.  These have been my Leader/Enders as I worked on other things all week.  There will be more!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Playing hooky

 Yesterday saw no sewing whatsoever.  It's good to play hooky once in awhile and just spend time with friends doing something relaxing together.

I hosted 3 friends yesterday for an afternoon of card playing.  We played Hand and Foot - a good game to play while talking and laughing together.  And we drank hot apple cider and ate lots of yummy snacks all afternoon.  

Today I'll do a little sewing, do some monthly budget updates for work, and then get a pedicure this afternoon in anticipation of the tropical trip planned next week.  

Tomorrow morning our Quilts of Valor group is presenting 3 quilts to veterans at a luncheon event.  And tomorrow evening we're going to a retirement party for a friend.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Red and white possibilities

If you wait long enough, some abandoned projects get new life. 

The red and white house block was the beginning of the Stay At Home Round Robin from last year.  I didn't get very far on that online sew-along.  Each week a new designer challenged the group to add either a whole "round" or elements with specific instructions - like diamonds.  I started with that pieced schoolhouse block, added the border with diamonds - and then it just fell by the wayside.

It's been hanging on my design wall in the sewing room along with some other orphan blocks for months with no plan.  Suddenly over the weekend, I had this lightbulb moment - I could use the 3.5" red and white Sewcialites2 blocks WITH the schoolhouse block.  I have no firm idea what it will become, but there is a whisper of a plan at least. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Quilt of Valor odds and ends

With Friday being Veteran's Day, my thoughts on Monday morning turned to Quilts of Valor. I wanted to cut some binding for a couple of new quilts we just got back from a quilter.  So I emptied out the bag of "leftovers" to see if there was a good binding option, and also take stock of the QOV odds and ends collecting in that big tote bag.  

I did find binding fabric, but I also discovered the orphan blocks that have accumulated over the approximately 4 years we've been making Quilts of Valor.  Part of this stack is what is still left from a large collection of blocks donated by a former member who has since passed away.  Some are leftover from blocks collected for specific quilts done by our group - garlic knots, stars, etc.  Some are just random blocks made to test out ideas.  And there are several different sizes of blocks in this pile.

It's time to use these blocks in a crazy sampler I think.  These are too pretty to NOT use.  We should be able to combine these with some spacer fabric strips and come up with something fun and unique.  Or maybe there are enough for a couple of quilts.

And that brought me around to my own leftovers.  It's pretty much common knowledge that I tend to work on lots of different projects at once, and that I like to "stockpile" blocks until there are enough for a finish.  I also stockpile parts for possible future blocks - mainly because I can't bear to throw away some things.

Above my ironing station is a big bulletin board that is literally covered with odds and ends - pictures of ideas, a calendar, and a couple of bags holding block parts just waiting for inspiration.  This one is a gallon sized zippered bag and it was stuffed so full of QOV "parts" that I couldn't get anything more into it.  It's now under control.

Lots and lots of triangles were in that bag, mostly trimmed from the various Quilts of Valor projects that I've been working on all year.   And there were the 2 little friendship star blocks (top left), some pinwheels, some 4-patch blocks, and a bunch of hourglass blocks.  I trimmed up lots of the smaller hourglass blocks, and sewed them into 10 blocks using 2 blue and 2 red in each one.  Those blocks are still only 6.5" square, so it would take a lot of them to make anything.  But, they could be framed to enlarge them.  And they could be used along with other odds and ends in a sampler.  

And while I was organizing I also cut more red, white, blue Twinkle Star blocks to play with as I have time this week.  One of them is even partially sewn. 

And I cut the border strips for one more Quilt of Valor I've been playing with.  I hope to have that quilt top ready to share later this week.  

Monday, November 7, 2022

Design Wall Monday - Nov 7

 Guild meetings are always inspirational but sometimes we get an added bonus.  We meet at a local church and this Saturday the sanctuary was draped in dozens of quilts destined for Lutheran World Relief.  I believe these will be boxed up and delivered this week.  

Some of our members mentioned that their church also had quilts displayed this weekend.  That's amazing when you consider how many there are. Then during our guild meeting the conversation turned to how our members could use our quilting even more to support local needs.  So I think our guild will be working on more charity quilting in the future.

The Sew Vintage group is going to be working out of the Lori Holt book Scrappiness Is Happiness for the next few months.  I got a start with the blocks posted in the online sew-along with this book on Fat Quarter Shop blog.  The first block is the Buzzy Bee, which is 14" square.

And the second week both the big and small Calico Mushroom blocks have been added.  They are 12" and 6" blocks (finished). I'm using my 30s stash and a scrappy background.  Should be fun!

And I'm hoping to finish a couple of other things this week:
* sew labels on 3 Quilts of Valor for Friday's presentations
* Row 4 of Humble Homes
*  last blocks for Nanci's Stars

There should be plenty of sewing time on Monday, but then the week gets kind of crazy.

What's on YOUR design wall today?

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Next RSC quilt progress

Continuing the focus on finishing up some of my RSC projects this year, the next one is Nanci's Stars, made all of batiks.  The brightly colored blocks were done each month with the monthly color, so now I'm working on low volume colors for the alternate blocks.  All of the blocks have come from my stash of batiks.  

These blocks began with the death of a friend a year ago.  Her sister - also a good friend - gifted me with some of Nanci's stash.  Included in that basket of goodies was a table runner kit using those 3 blue blocks.  Once I made those blue blocks, I decided to just keep making them using the RSC colors to make a donation quilt in Nanci's honor.  And it's getting there - only 4 more low volume blocks needed.  That will be my goal for this coming week - finish the blocks and start making rows.

A bit of rearranging of colors will need to happen before the rows come together.  And maybe the 2 pale yellow low volume blocks need to be replaced with better choices as they do stick out in this arrangment.

What is happening in the rest of the RSC world today?

Friday, November 4, 2022

Getting carried away with Sewcialites 2

The third block in the Sewcialites 2 sew-along will be posted today, and I'm eager to add to my little collection of blocks.  In all the sizes - 3", 6", and 9" finished.  These are making a great break from all the applique I've been doing.

These tiny red and white versions of the first 2 blocks are the 3" ones.  Red and white was my original plan for the littlest ones.  But then I had the black and bright scraps laying there and I couldn't resist.  But I kept thinking about the red and white so . . . here they are.

Proving that I've probably lost any good sense that I may have possessed, here are all 4 versions of Sewcialites 2 Block #1.  At first I was only going to do the 6" ones using some deeply colored batiks in the stash.  Then I decided to do the 9" ones using up some of the green scraps that are overflowing.  And then those 3" blocks happened too. 

And here are all 4 versions of Block #2.  Can't wait to work on Block #3, in all 4 colorways.  Just call me CRAZY!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

3 rows for Humble Homes

There are now 3 rows of houses and trees for Humble Homes. Two more rows to go on this UFO.

And then I'll have to decide if the braided borders will happen, or will I do something less complicated once I get to that stage.  I'm really leaning toward a simple border to frame all of this applique.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I did it

 Yes, I did . . . I made those 3" blocks for the Sewcialites sew-along.

I talked myself into - and then out of - making these teeny tiny blocks.  I had even pulled out some scraps to make them, and then convinced myself NOT to. 

But yesterday afternoon my resolve weakened, and an hour later I had these added to the project box with the green 9" blocks, and the batik 6" blocks.  And I have to admit these were not as fussy to make as I had anticipated.  They were actually kind of fun to make.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November goals

Oops!  I got sidetracked and forgot to actually hit the Publish button on this post.  

After months of having little or nothing on my calendar most days, November is shaping up to be very busy.  College basketball season is beginning tomorrow, some Quilts of Valor will be presented at a couple of different events, there is some family time for Thanksgiving, and a week-long trip is planned.  That means I either need to get better organized, or should not plan quite so many projects to work on.  However - I've decided that ANY progress this month on UFOs or some of the WIPS will be OK.  No pressure to finish anything!!

I had this quilt on my list of November goals, but then got the binding done on Happy Cats while watching football on TV last weekend.  SDSU Jackrabbit football (homecoming) on Saturday afternoon, and Vikings football on Sunday.  So I guess I have one thing checked off my list already.  The Happy Block pattern is a freebie from MaryQuilts website, and it is great for showing off a fun focus fabric - or an I-Spy project.  I used 6" squares for this one rather than charms. 

The APQ UFO Challenge chose #10 for this month.  One of my #10 projects is the Windmill, so this one will go to the quilter next along with the Hello Birdie flimsy. 

  • On-going BOM type projects
    • Scrappiness Is Happiness sew-along (Sew Vintage/Lori Holt)
    • Sewcialities 2 (Fat Quarter Shop)
    • Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks
    • a new Saturday Sampler to plan for? 
  • Quilting and/or Binding 
    • bind Happy Cats quilt - DONE
    • Colorful Windmills
    • Hello Birdie
  • UFOs & WIPs - ANY progress is good!
    • Humble Homes - 2 of 5 rows done
    • Country Bunnies - no layout plan YET
    • R/W/B Twinkle Stars (needs more blocks)
    • Friendship Squares (needs more blocks)
    • Falling In Love (needs sashing)
  • NEW projects
    • 5 pillowcases for grandkids
    • Pick a PIG (something purchased but not started)
    • clean up the sewing room!!!