Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good News

One of the families in our community is getting a new home this week thanks to Extreme Home Makeover. My son is friends with one of the boys and we are so excited for Drew and his family!
The family arrives home from vacation to see their new house today! It still amazes me how quickly they can complete a house. They demolished the house on Saturday. The roof was on the house late Sunday night and the drywall was completed by the time this picture was taken Tueday evening. Our whole community is thrilled for this family. Move that Bus!
I also received a note from Patsy today to let me know that the ladies that had flood damage in their homes were showered with a "car load" full of material. She says they were stunned that our group chipped in the way we did. She also mentioned that each woman chose one of the charity quilts that our guild had made for those in need.

Blue Green Treasury - Lovely !

I just heard that one of my flying geese pendants is featured in knock your socks off Etsy Treasury. The choices are gorgeous. Thanks Whimbrella! Stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lake Day

We never know what kind of weather we will have when we visit the lake. Today was a lake day. The tempurature was perfect for watersports and snuggling up with a book under a shadetree. It was also a great day for building a sand castle for snail "princesses".

There are still a lot of early fishing cabins along the shoreline. I hate to see these give way to the bigger homes that are slowly taking their place.

One of my favorite places on the lake is Pelican Point, a long sandbar that separates the larger part of the lake from the smaller portion. I can definately see myself in that hammock on a long summer day.

Days end...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Greetings from Vergas and Perham, MN

Greetings from Vergas, Minnesota, Home of the world's Largest Loon. If you have been reading my blog for a while you know I love roadside attractions. I can't resist stopping to take a photo. I love the call of the loon. There is nothing quite like it. Robyn, this link is for you. Click here to link to a website with various loon calls.
Vergas is always a favorite stop for shopping. I love to stop in at Coco's Bait and Tackle shop and the Quiet Cricket to start my Christmas shopping.
On the road again...

My real mission on this trip was to visit the Bay Window Quilt Shop in Perham, MN. I had heard such wonderful things about the shop and I was not disappointed. I walked in to a small quilt shop full of bright fabrics from batiks to contemporary/trendy and 30's reproduction fabrics. Much to my surprise there was so much more to see. The shop is comprised of at least two adjoining store fronts. Earth tones, primitives, holiday & Civil War reproductions are in another room. Don't miss the flannels, wool and Minkee fabric in the basement. This store is well organized. Plan to take some time on your trip so you can see everything. It was easy to find coordinating fabrics to use in an applique project that I have had on the back burner. This shop was well worth the trip out of the way to find. Perham has a lot of nice shops to visit and I hope to get back someday for an extended visit.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Never Ending Seashores

There are many things I love about Minnesota. Pine groves and birch trees are abundant in the wetlands and northern lake shores. Central and southern Minnesota have vast expanses of grasslands and oak savannas and oak groves. Minnesota has crops ranging from corn, wheat, oats and sunflowers. We are about two weeks early to see the sunflowers in bloom... sigh.

When I drive through the western grasslands I get a feeling of being just at the edge of massive sea shore. I keep expecting to crest the hill and see the shoreline in the distance. As a boy my great grandfather Shoemaker traveled with his family across Minnesota to settle in South Dakota in the late 1800's. He told his daughter that the grasses were so high he had to stand on top of the buckboard to guide the horse team. I can only imagine what it was like.

Traveling through the northern part of the state there are lakes everywhere. Some are crowded with summer cottages but many are not. It is the best of both worlds.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Greetings From The Land of 10,000 Lakes

Greetings from Western Minnesota! This week we are spending time with family and friends on the shores of Pelican Lake. My mother's family originated from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Visiting the area gives us all a feeling of coming home. The weather was perfect for an early morning walk today.

I shot this photo of a loon just off the dock near our cabin.

The wind was calm this morning. Little Pelican Lake was as smooth as glass. I love the reflections on the water. Another beautiful day dawns.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brief Blogging

I just checked Patsy's blog. She has more pictures of her re-purposed gardens. Enjoy. Chris

I dreamed a thousand paths, I awoke and walked my own. - Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Trip to Patsy's

I had to make a second trip to Patsy's recently. I mentioned earlier that our area had heavy rains in June that flooded many of the towns surrounding our farm. I received a call a few days ago that two of the quilters in our guild had substantial flooding in their homes. Wilda lost all of her fabric along with craft supplies and 50 years worth of Christmas decorations to flood waters. I have no idea how much more was lost. Sharon was luckier but we are still waiting to hear if her fabric can be salvaged. Her fabric and sewing machines did not get wet however she was out of her house for a month before she was able to return. I packed a basket for Sharon and Wilda and dropped them off at Patsy's Homestead Cabin Retreat so they could be added to the other donations at the next meeting.

In the last year our area has suffered so much loss due to flooding. It makes one so much more cognisant of all that is good in one's life. I am very grateful for the people in my life and my good fortune. I count my blessings every day.

I thought you might enjoy some of the creative ways Patsy brightens up her retreat. You never know what you will find on the clothes line when you arrive. Her thrift store finds turn into imaginative planters and can be found through out the retreat used in other creative ways. It's always fun to see what she will come up with next.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Color and inspirations

If you've visited my Etsy Store you know I make miniature quilt block jewelry from my hand dyed fabrics. These are foundation pieced quilt blocks enclosed between two pieced of glass and then sealed with lead free solder.I was recently asked to choose my favorite colorways in my jewelry collection. Here is what I decided on. They are all reminders of childhood memories. This brooch reminds me of a Maxfield Parrish sky in one of his paintings. My mother used to read us stories from "Poems of Childhood" by Eugene Fields and Illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. The illustrations in that book were so dreamlike.

This pin reminds me of the fields of sunflowers near our favorite lake in Minnesota. This is a favorite memory for myself as well as my sister.

My mother had an aunt that lived in New Mexico. Over the years we have all treasured the craftsmanship of lovely pieces of turquoise jewelry that came from my mothers visits to the area. This is the first pattern I designed for a pair of earrings. I love the flying geese pattern. The colors in this jewelry came from my first attempt at dying a color gradation. When I saw the result I was hooked!

This last piece was inspired by the only piece of clothing I still own from my childhood. It is a printed cotton sundress from Sears with a picture of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet printed on it. I'll have to dig it out to photograph it some day. It's so adorable. I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Mine was full of fun and family times.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Road to a Friend's House

I stopped off at the Homestead Cabin Retreat on Friday to drop off an order to one of Patsy's guests, Amy, who I met at the retreat last December. It turned out the rest of Patsy's guests were women I had met at an earlier retreat from the Life's a Stitch Quilt Shoppe. It was great to see everyone again. I had been lamenting that I wouldn't be able to attend the next meeting of the Piecemaker's Quilt Guild which meets at the retreat monthly. The entire drive to Patsy's place is blazing with wildflowers in July. I was very glad to have an excuse to stop in. Thanks Amy! Patsy has created a wonderful setting to come relax and create. Oh, and the food! I can't wait for my next stay at her Homestead. This photo was taken enroute to the retreat. It features a mix of Black Eyed Susans and Daisies.

I also had a stop at my friend Susan's house. This is the first time I have been to her house in the summer time. What a treat. She has flower gardens everywhere, each garden is it's own "room". Her husband purchased a train caboose a few years ago. As far as I knew it was filled with junk. Much to my surprise She and her husband had cleaned things up and made it into a wonderful guest cabin for their kids. TOO COOL! I wish I had taken pictures. She had couple old iron beds with lovely quilts on them and all the furnishings were early antiques. Susan had been hand dyeing silk scarves and they were all strung out to dry in the windows. Susan has an amazing spirit and is always wonderful to be around.
I took my time driving home and stopped to take pictures along the way. I found a teepee tucked away in a little island of mowed grass.
The sun was obscured by clouds on and off all evening. I love seeing the rays of light from filtered sunlight.

The shot below was taken on the road to my house. The yellow flowers are a small wild relative of the sunflower. They grow on many roadsides throughout the Midwestern US.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A T-Shirt to Match

Sometimes the best laid plans go a bit wild, especially when it comes to dying a shirt for myself. I started out with the intention of matching this lovely barrette purchased from Jackie at DogDaisyChains. I think I lost control when I took some old golden yellow dye and threw it into the mix with the sky blue and lemon yellow. They still look great together but I think I'll try again next time with a lighter saturation of dye. I took at least 20 pictures of this shirt in various lights and still could not capture all of the gorgeous color that resulted. There are some really vibrant greens and the yellows are washed out. I have a similar problem capturing fuchsia in some of my photos. Does anyone have advice to offer?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Inspiration Found Far and Wide

Last week I received a package in the mail that I had been waiting for not so patiently. It was a barrette purchased from Jackie of DogDaisyChains. I fell in love with her work the first time I saw it and had been waiting for just the right thing to come up for sale in her store. Two weeks ago she posted a picture of this barrette on her blog and I knew it was what I had been looking for. I contacted her and it was mine :)

Jackie is an extremely talented artist. She has superior hand and machine embroidery skills. She works with her own handmade silk paper and velvet which she hand dyes and embroiders. She is also a needle felter. Please take the time to visit her blog. She has links to her Etsy store and she also has links to her work on Flickr (a must see).

My new treasure inspired my recent dye lot. I wanted to dye a shirt that would match Jackie's work. I will give you a glimpse of the shirt in my next blog. I mixed up some lemon yellow dye and some sky blue dye so I could dye some yardage for my store. I planned for leftovers so I could dye the shirt. The fabric turned out beautifully! Hope you like it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"This Is"

About a week ago I had planned to show you two of my favorite books from childhood. It took me a week to find one of the books. In the mean time I saw DogDaisyChains's post about "This is"my most precious childhood possession. I have a favorite stuffed dog named Morgan that would make a barking sound when you squeezed his nose. He was so precious he even went to college and back with me. Morgan stopped barking after about 20 years but is still an honored part of my home. But when I think about the things from childhood that made the most impression on me I'd have to say it was these two books. I have always loved color. I grew up with the big box of crayons and watercolor paints. I knew that names of obscure colors at a very early age. I was shocked to find out that most of the people in my eighth grade English class had no idea that chartreuse was a vibrant shade of green/yellow.

When my son was small I tried to find my copy of "The Color Kittens" to no avail. It was no longer in print much to my dismay. Enter my mom's friend Mary Pat. Her husband worked for Golden Books and they were working on a special run of out of print books. My mom had mentioned to Mary Pat how much that book meant to me and surprised me with a reprinted copy of the book. This book is even more cherished because of the way I received it. It is so nice to be able to look back at your childhood and see where your passions started and how they were kindled into adulthood.

Oh did I mention the book has a happy ending?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting Re-Organized

Here is my latest find in the long battle to get organized. I found this metal bucket in the picnic section of the local discount store. The pail is split into four sections. The largest section made for napkins fits my treasured box of colored pencils. The pin cushions pictured are gifts from quilting friends and family. My latest came from Alaska when my mom and stepfather traveled there in June. The pin cushion is called a spice baby and boy does it smell good!

I live in an old farmhouse. The age is unknown but local county records show a building at this location as far back as 1876. The house had no closets until the late 1990's when the last homeowner added an addition of two large rooms and two measly closets. We have added a walk-in closet and many other storage ideas over the last few years. I use lots of storage boxes for my projects. My girlfriends have even started to give me boxes as birthday gifts. Another gift was the beautiful metal pail. I use it as the trash can next to my sewing machine. I love those gals.

Have I ever mentioned my love affair with Ikea? Let's just say I'm just glad the closest store is four hours away. Every time I travel to Chicago I find a reason to stop in either to browse or purchase something. Last time it was curtains, storage boxes (almost always on my list) and a fabulous colander that hangs from the edges of the sink.

One of my favorite items from Ikea is my cheese grater. If you have one of these I'm sure you agree with me. It has a rubber foot at the bottom of the bowl and a lid to seal up the leftovers. I live in Wisconsin and we eat a lot of cheese to support our local industries.

My other favorite buy is this group of shelving units. They were sold as modular units with a choice of doors or drawer inserts. They do a great job of hiding my clutter. Ikea marketed these as entertainment units. I think they totally missed the mark and should have sold these as storage units. I'm sad to say these were discontinued a month after I purchased them. I spent yesterday moving all of my inventory and shipping supplies to one location. I hope this will stop me from walking circles around the house trying to find what I'm looking for now. Wish me luck. Ever since I hit 40 I can't remember what I did 5 minutes ago. I hear it gets worse at 50. Yikes!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More Treasured Items

My hand embroidered velvet crazy patch purse was just featured in an Etsy treasury this week. Thanks Desiree for blogging about us too. Her theme was "Phenomenal Fuchsia" and I have to agree. Her choice are gorgeous. I started making these purses a few years ago after taking a class from my friend Marcia Wachuta a former school teacher that is now a long arm quilter. She does amazing free motion quilting work.

When Marcia was unable to teach a class at our local quilt guild, the Friendship Quilters, I was asked to take her place. I really had a lot of fun teaching this class and went on to teach at the other guild I belong to in Hillpoint, WI the Piecemakers Quilt Guild. Thank you Marcia for giving me the push to teach. I really enjoy it. I've since gone on to teach hand embroidery and hand applique classes and really feel confident in my skills.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dreaming and Creating

It all started again with stained glass. My husband and I took a stained glass class one winter. I had always wanted to learn this skill. After discovering the art glass designed for Greene and Greene's Gamble House I knew I had to learn. I fell in love with stained glass work and I decided I would eventually start a business called Shady Grove Studios. I sat down to design a logo, a rambling oak tree. My seven year old son saw the drawing and said "I didn't know you could draw." It was that pivotal moment where I learned something very important. I had lost my artistic self in becoming a wife and a mother and it was time to rediscover myself. I opened the door to my creativity and it has not stopped since. Our move to the beauty of the country and away from daily distractions of the city catapulted things exponentially. I can't wait to see what comes next.

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” - Bernard Edmonds
Have a wonderful weekend! Chris

Morning in the Shady Grove

At long last. The ever elusive white tail deer. I have been trying to get a shot of a deer for months. I see them almost daily on our farm but I can never seem to catch one at the right moment. I have lots of shots of deer from the back end going into the tall grass. This one is feeding off of an apple tree. As the apples ripen we will see many more deer near the house. They will get bolder as the season progresses. Last year when I was mowing the lawn I had a deer no more than 20 feet away from me. It was stamping and snorting at me trying to scare me out of the way so it could get to the apple tree.
Recently we have spotted doe and her fawn living on the farm. Fawns are really fun to watch. They are really playful when they feel they are in a safe environment. I hope to get a photo of them later in the season.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rush Hour One Week Later

Here is a shot of Rush Hour 1 week later. This shot was taken at 4:30 pm Wednesday on the way to town. It's good to be back in Wisconsin! The county I live in has 18,000 people and 6 stop lights. It's heaven on earth!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Favorite Colors of the Week

I love to dye fabric. The results are so satisfying. I have tried to choose a favorite color to no avail. I love every color. This lot is my favorite color of the week.

I start the dye process with unbleached muslin. The use of unbleached muslin is a conscious choice. I have not used bleach in my household for the last 20 years because of the impact chlorine has on our environment. The muslin is a good quality product with a 78 x 76 thread count. This fabric works well for needle turn applique and hand quilting.

This time I combined Golden Yellow Dye and Hot Pink in various dilutions. The darker fabrics have 4 times more dye in the solution than the pastel fabrics. I usually let the dye sit for 24 hours although it is not neccesary to wait that long. It is always hard for me to wait to see the finished product.

I ironed 33 yards of fabric last night and boy can I feel it. Does anyone have a favorite lightweight iron? Mine works wonders but weighs a ton.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Work at the Red Door Gallery

I volunteer once a month at our local art gallery. The Red Door Gallery is artist cooperative staffed by its members. We have so many talented artists in our area. Here are some photos of my stained glass work on display. The two small items next to the prairie style lamp belong to another artist, Mary Stewart.