Monday, December 29, 2008

Tidying Up

Our holidays were wonderful this year.  We reminisced, celebrated the day and our good health, and talked about future dreams.  My son was delivered back to school in record time on a sunny Sunday.  His girlfriend, bless her heart, was kind enough to meet us halfway.  I returned home to this glorious sunset taken on the bluff overlooking our farm.  My house is at least 200 ft below in the valley beyond.   

The only visitors left at our home are the early morning risers looking for a fallen apple in the orchard.

I was able to sneak in some time to sew over the holiday.  I worked hard to get a long awaited crazy quilt block under way.  I hand pieced most of the fabrics and should be able to start the embroidery by the New Year.  Sorry, I can't show you any photos until June.  It will be part of a quilt top gifted to our current guild president.  I am back to doing a lot of work by hand lately.  I love the soothing feeling you get from a darting needle.  

Housework is next on my list.  I plan to get everything in order this coming week so I can relax a little bit and get caught up on my blog reading.  I have been checking for updates as time permitted these last few weeks.  I am getting caught up little by little but will be leaving fewer comments so I have more time to read.  

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year full of joy and peace!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Every Christmas brings out the little kid in me that couldn't wait for Santa to arrive. We would read "The Night Before Christmas" each Christmas Eve. I also remember setting out cookies for Santa and even hearing his sleigh bells one Christmas! I cherish so many wonderful times with my family past and present.
I wish all of peace, joy and the merriest of Christmases this year. Thank you for your friendships near and far.
Update: I just had a Currier and Ives moment. Yes, sometimes life here really is as it seems. When the sky lit up this morning I looked out of my office window and I was able to see mom and the twins (our local deer family) moving up the hill through the snow. Out the other window was a family with horse and buggy traveling to town.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

Sorry to start my post with this out of focus shot of Jack but I just couldn't resist sharing this picture of our snow puppy. This shot was taken on Friday morning after we received 8" of snow overnight with a total of 12" by the time the weather broke.

Saturday brought more snow and a choice, do I travel in the snow or wait until Sunday when 30 mile per hour winds were forecast? I chose the snow. The 9 hour trip took 14 hours. It is good to be home safe and warm. Next year my son is getting a bus ticket for Christmas...
As you travel north of where we live the land levels out quite a bit. There are rolling hills and the occasional limestone outcropping. Into the Northwoods the roads are lined with pine trees, oak and birch as far as the eye can see. It was too snowy to capture the distant tree lined hills today. I had also hoped for some pretty shots of Lake Superior but had to settle for this freighter in drydock and a grain storage facility in Superior, WI. Duluth Harbor, located between Duluth Minnesota and Superior Wisconsin, is the largest and the farthest western port on the Great Lakes. The chief exports from Duluth Harbor are grains from the US and Canada, coal and iron ore. Here is a link to the Lake Superior Martime Mueseum's webcam. Not much action today.

Here is a link to some quick facts about Lake Superior. There are so many beautiful places to see along the shore line. More about that on another visit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waiting for the Snow Storm

It has been a snowy winter so far. We have received about 15 inches since the beginning of December. We are due for 10 inches tonight and tomorrow and expect two more snow storms in the next seven days. I have to pick up my son from college in Duluth this weekend and hope to make the 9 hour round trip during a break in the weather.

We finished decorating our Christmas tree tonight. Christmas cards are started and most of the shopping is completed. We are looking forward to visits from family soon to come.

I wish many happy and memorable days ahead for you and the ones your love as the new year approaches. Happy Holidays! - Chris

Friday, December 12, 2008

Local Attractions

In late October and early November the local male deer go through a rutting season. My husband and I had a chance to see the "rut" in action. Five bucks were competing for the affection of one doe in the field behind our house. It was quite a sight to see. This buck was by far the oldest and strongest of the bunch and also the victor.
--Friday night you will be able to see the largest full moon of the year. The moon is closest to the earth this time of year. Look for high tides in coastal areas.
--In the early evening on Sunday, December 14, there will be a "window of opportunity" to view for Geminids meteor shower in a dark, moonless sky. Between the times that evening twilight ends and the time that the bright waning gibbous moon rises, there will be about an hour of dark sky available.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homestead Cabin Retreat

I spent the weekend at the Homestead Cabin Retreat. Each time I have stayed there in the past I have taken projects with deadlines and put lots of pressure on myself to get them completed.
This time I decided to take a few works in progress. Friday night was spent by the fire under my king size bed quilt while I hand quilted and spent time with some of my favorite girlfriends. It was such a wonderful way to unwind and re-energize my spirits.
On Saturday I broke out my tumbling block quilt top which I started hand piecing while on vacation visiting my MIL in Florida three years ago. This project has been close to completion for two and a half years.

I will be adding stars to the top and bottom of the quilt top. I have not been able to figure out a good way to finish off the left and right sides of the quilt with out losing definition of the tumbling blocks. Does anyone have a suggestion?

We shared lots of ideas with each other. I taught a quick tutorial about ruching. Cindy and Susan took it further and made some beautiful ruched flowers to embellish Christmas gifts and pincushions. Another Cindy joined us and brought along her paper crafts made in a recent class.

Here is another habit (or did I mean hobby?) that I could get addicted to.

Snow came on Friday night. It was wonderful to sit by the fire and watch it falling against the backdrop of a rustic log cabin. I was one of the first to rise. These are the scenes that greeted me in the morning. A little bit of heaven in the middle of nowhere.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Favorite Bloggers and Beautiful Things

A few weeks ago I received this from Lynn & Linda, two new blogging friends. I have been remiss in passing this on. I read so many wonderful blogs and it is really hard to choose. You all deserve this award. I chose four blogging friends that I have not recognized before.

Here are the rules:- Five people are allowed to receive this award: four dedicated followers of your blog and one who is new to your blog and lives in another part of the world.- Please link back to the person who gave you this award.

Jude of Cariad in Crete
Bindu of Transient Lives
Embellisher of Million Little Stitches
Jackie of Jackie's Stitches

And a new blog I have recently found: Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods in beautiful Norway.

I had a few minutes to shop at the craft fair this weekend. I purchased a few Christmas gifts for my family and bought this for myself. I have always loved glass paperweights and I couldn't resist this lampwork necklace made by Jamie of Uh-Oh Art Studio. All of my favorite colors! See more of her work at her Etsy store.
Monday night we had our guild party at Patsy's retreat. We had a gift exchange of something handmade. By chance Patsy and I each exchanged gifts with each other. This is the second year in a row that Patsy received my gift. This year Patsy received two of the Christmas ornaments I designed, last year it was one of my snowflakes. Here is what I received from Patsy:

It's perfect for me. I love hand embroidered linens and this hand towel in soooo lovely! I adore the little quilt basket ornaments. I will enjoy unpacking them each year and remembering her friendship. I also love the tissue paper she packed this gift in. Don't be surprised when you see me using pattern tissue paper if you order from my Etsy shop. I just purchased a ton of patterns left over from Jeanne's fabric sale to use for packing material. Patsy, you are a genius! Follow this link to see the party decorations. It was like walking in to a fairly tale, dazzling and so picturesque!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tales from the Kitchen and Beyond

I love the rituals of baking a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The smells remind me of family far away. We have so many things to be grateful for this year. All we love are healthy and have a warm home.

There are so many friendships in my life that lift me up and inspire me. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement this year.

I finished my Christmas ornaments and hung them in the kitchen window to enjoy on Thanksgiving day. They looked so nice there that my husband asked me to leave some hanging in the window year round.

Here are some of my wares in progress. I finished my work late (as always) Friday night and packed for the craft fair. I was not sure what to expect as I am new to the craft show scene. We were in a small town and I had a reasonably good day despite the fact.
I am happy to say the mad rush is behind me. Next weekend will be spent at Patsy's Homestead Cabin Retreat. If you would like to join us, there are still four openings left for this discounted weekend. I am leaving my sewing machine at home and taking a tumbling blocks quilt that I have been hand piecing as well as a hand quilting project. I can't wait!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Apple Picking With the Twins

We have spent the summer watching this doe raise her two fawns. A few months ago I found them in the apple orchard early one morning. The fawns were very young and still had their spots. They were racing around chasing each other. They are so much fun to watch. The deer are very possessive of the apple trees. They will snort and stamp at us trying to chase us away so they can come down and eat.

Winter is here. I'm not sure I am ready for it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

So Little Time to Write Lately

A few weeks ago I received this from Lynn andLinda:

Thank you Ladies! I've recently gotten to know them. They both have beautiful art quilts on their blogs and are both members of Around the World In 20 Quilts. I can't wait until December to see your "Stellar Progress" completed.

I have homework to do. I hope you don't mind if I wait to name some of my blogging friends in another week once my Christmas items are all assembled and the next craft show is over. I will be vending this coming Saturday at the Elroy Quilt Show and Christmas Craft Fair at the Royall High School in Elroy, WI. Stop by and say hello if you are in the area. I'll post some photos of my last few weeks of stained glass work in a few more days.

I leave you with a photo of part of my first quilt. It is a king size quilt. I read the advice "start small". I'm not so good at following advice. I wanted to make this quilt for our guest bedroom. I figured if I didn't like quilting at least this quilt would be finished. It took me a couple of months to piece the blocks and then I hand quilted it. The project took me 11 months. Most of the quilting was completed in the last two months. I quit smoking during that time. Whenever I felt like smoking I hand quilted instead. Now I'm addicted to hand quilting.

Monday, November 17, 2008


"Red Sails at Sunset"
These are two of my favorite paintings. They were painted by my Grandmother. I have always admired her sense of color. She spent so much of her younger days exploring nature that I think her eye easily captured the essence of a landscape.
"Home from Market" was painted from memories of a trip to the market in Octavolo, Ecuador. Grandma traveled the world on a retired teacher's salary. She had so many stories to tell.

Grandma gets a visitor.
My father took these photos earlier this summer.

My Grandmother is 104 years old. I had a chance to visit her recently. She was having a good day (her memory is not very sharp these days) and we had a lovely time together. When we were leaving I ran into a friend of my grandmother's. She described my grandmother as one of the most elegant women she had ever known. I had to smile because she had come up with really appropriate description.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Serious Stash Enhancement and the Winners Are...

Thank you so much for all of your comments on my 100th post. It was really helpful to hear your favorites. I won't keep you in suspense. The winners are....

Quilt Crazy Gal Jenna who has a wonderful blog showcasing all sorts of quilting techniques and

Jackie's Stitches, a knitter and a new quilter. She has some lovely pictures of a recent trip along the Appalachian Trail. I've always wanted to make that trip.

A big thank you to everyone that turned out for the Fabric Sale yesterday.

Here are my purchases, made in the afternoon after most people had come and gone. There are 4 sets of purchases in the photo above. The assortment of oriental prints fanned out in the front is the most expensive group on the table. The other 3 groups were bags of 2-3 lbs each (or 8-12 yards each) purchased for $5.00 a piece. On the left is a group of silks that include a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired fabric. The bag in the center holds strips sets of light and dark hues of brown. (I always need more of these in my stash.) The last on the right are generous scraps of different African prints. I've always wanted to add these to my collection.

This sale is on two levels of the home. I worked in Jeanne's quilting studio where all the fancy fabric are located. Oh... there is still so much left to choose from. I don't think it will matter what day you come to shop. You will not go away unhappy.

There still many large pieces of African print. Some are mud cloth, some with shells and still others are appliqued. There are a couple of bins full of hand dyed cotton sateens, print cloth and hand painted fabrics. Other items on this level include fancy garment fabrics, wool, overdyed wool, fleece, oriental fabrics (both silk and cotton prints), velvets and upscale batiks.

I came home with yards of Laura Wasilowski's cotton sateens, lovely hand dyed flannels and some of Wendy Richardson's overdyed velvets. Scrumptious!!!

The upper level of the home houses the traditional fabrics. There are cottons, flannels and even courduroy fabrics to choose from.

There are three more days left to this sale. Look for details in the upper right hand corner of my blog. I borrowed some of these pictures from Patsy's blog. You can see more photos here.

Leonids meteor showers peak tomorrow night November 17th in the late evening. I hope your skies are clear.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making Every Minute Count - Updated Friday PM

Update***Patsy has a post about the fabric sale with photos. ***Click here***
A couple weeks ago I took a few evenings off to enjoy the last of nice weather. We had some glorious days. My husband and I took a couple of trips up the hill to watch the sunset.

Last weekend I finished putting together a jewelry shipment for the Iowa Artisans Gallery in Iowa City. It took a bit longer than I had planned. I ended up with a head cold that stole most of my energy. It took 16 hours of sleep to put me on the path to recovery.

I have also been working on some stained glass snowflakes and Christmas ornaments for the local art galleries and an upcoming craft show. Stained glass is the perfect cold weather project. I cut the glass after work in the last of the daylight and cover the edges with copper foil in the evening after dinner. I should be able to get some of these finished by the end of the weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, I will be helping with the fabric sale this Saturday in Blue River, WI. There is a link to the sale information in the upper right hand corner of my blog. Four dates are scheduled, spread out over the next week and a half. There is so much fabric to choose from. Volunteers have been sorting and organizing by color and theme for weeks. There are a few sewing machines available too. Tell all your friends. The prices are too good to pass up.

P.S. Don't miss your chance to enter my 100th blog post giveaway. Drawing will be this Sunday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quiltville Comes to Spring Green, Wisconsin

Bonnie Hunter came to town yesterday and brought a beautiful scrappy trunk show with her. I've been following her blog for a while now and couldn't wait for this day to arrive. She spoke to a full house. People came by the car load and bus load. (I'll let Bonnie tell the story about the bus on her blog.) Bonnie is a excellent lecturer. She had so many tips to share and she kept us all laughing.

You can visit Bonnie's blog Quiltville to find links to her mystery quilts. The quilt above was made by Bonnie.

And here is the same pattern made and modified by another quilter (I wish I knew her name).

I purchased a copy of Bonnie's book "Scraps and Shirttails" a few weeks ago. I've been wanting to make this quilt ever since:

This is Virginia Bound. It was my favorite until I saw this quilt:

I love these little log cabin blocks. When I first saw this quilt I thought WOW! Then I thought, "who would want to make blocks so small? Oh yeah, me, duh."

I hope all of you have a chance to hear Bonnie speak. She inspires and will change the way you think about your stash. Thanks Bonnie!
Pictures published with permission of Bonnie K. Hunter.
P.S. There are still four more days to enter my 100th blog post giveaway.