Saturday, June 21, 2014

A YEAR OF QUILTS

I've been a quiltin' the past year.  Some of my own design and some as part of the Saturday Sampler group that meets at The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA once a month.  Here is a sample of what I've been up to:

I worked every month on the Block of Month, Women of  Courage quilt and it was well worth the work. 

 
 
The colors are vibrant and rich.  It was easy to put all of the blocks together.  I also received a history of each woman the each block represents. While it was fun to learn about all of these women, but the blocks to not represent them in the literal sense, so it was a little disappointing in that respect.  Still needs to be quilted.  I think it will grace my bed when finally done - which may be in 20 years or so!  LOL
 
*****
 
When Karen at The Quilt Shop on Main offers a projects for the Saturday Sampler, you always have two choices as to the fabric.  Cotton, batik, solids, etc.  Below are two exact quilts that I made.  The project was called "Tea and Cookies."  While I like the batik quilt, I love, love, love the cotton quilt!
 




I guess I should have made sure they were both held up in the same direction so that it is more obvious that they are the same "quilt" as far as each block is concerns, but you get the idea.  Both need to be quilted.

*****


The above "Jiffy Nine Patch" was another Saturday Sampler.  Jiffy?  Glad the picture of this little quilt isn't a close up!  I had issues with every block and had trouble putting the blocks together.  Whoosh!  Just happy it is done.  Still needs to be quilted.

*****
 

This little winter themed quilt will be given to my friend, Martha, when completed.  I just used a couple of charm packs, added borders to each individual 5" square and a border.  Click on the picture to get a better view.  Making it went really fast.  I'm not happy with the border.  I might cut it down to 2" and add another 5" border.   But what fabric?  Hmmmm.  Still needs to be quilted!

*****


Here is a little doll quilt I made for my great-niece, Shannon.  I used 1930 fabrics and the pin wheel pattern.  Except for the border and backing, all of the fabric used was scrap fabric from other projects.  It is modeled by my sweet, little neighbor, Meredith.  Her mom, Lisa is the other "arm" in the quilt pictures and her daddy, David, was the photographer.  Big brother Keeton decided to stay out of the pictures.  I have great neighbors!

I currently have three quilts ready at the shop waiting to be quilted.  I have two more Saturday Samplers just about completed.  I think I need to win the lottery in order to have enough money to have all of the quilted! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

BEAUREGARD

Here's the trouble I have with fostering dogs:  I tend to fall in love with all of them!

Mostly Mutts (MM) posted on their private Facebook page that transport was needed from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter to MM's main office.  All I knew was it was a little boy dog, Yorkie mix.  I had the day off, so I volunteered since I live relatively close to the shelter. 


Well, when they brought out this little guy it was love at first sight. 

His name was Peanut, although at MM we changed it to Beauregard.  I strongly feel that if a dog is to be in your life for a long time, it is one of the family and should be named as one of the family.  Hopefully, Peanut is not given as a human name very often!  I suggested a "good Southern" male name.  After tossing around several names, Beauregard seemed just right.  Beau for short.  I think it fits him perfectly.

He is a hot mess, though.  Hernia, growth on right eye lid, questionable moles on his body, rotting teeth and a slight heart murmur (probably due to the teeth issue).  At seven years old, he was an owner surrender.  Now, don't get me started on why an owner would surrender a wonderful, little guy like Beau and let him get into such bad shape - but, I am not them and try not to judge.  I try, it's hard.  But, he is heartworm negative, which is one thing in his favor.

He goes in for surgery on all of issues this Wednesday.  I am sure he will come out just fine.  Then he will be ready for adoptions. 

Will I?  Hmmm.  . . .

2014 GARDEN

I'm not big on growing veggies or herbs.  I prefer my flowers, trees and shrubs. 

Since I moved Georgia, I have started growing herbs. It is fun to be cooking, walk out the back door, snip some fresh herbs and add them to the pot.  Mint in tea is great, too.


Since I have boy dogs, I need to keep my herbs, ahhh - elevated - if you get my drift!  While I don't go to Walmart very often, I was in there around the holidays.  They were offering herbs growing in these cute little pots.  I purchased four of them.  The herbs died rather quickly, but I knew I could use the pots for my summer herbs.  The bench was purchased for $15.  It was in rough shape.  I sanded it down, put two coats of oil based primer on it and spray painted the heck out of it.  It is really more of a purple color.  I think it all looks rather cool.


Tucked in the yarrow are two pots of herbs - my rosemary and mint.  The dogs don't like the yarrow and the pots are big enough that they herbs are safe from "extra watering!"


I also decided to try my hand at tomatoes. 

 I choose heirloom tomatoes.  I have four pots, two large and two smaller  In the large pots I added petunias.  Not sure if they will alter the taste of the tomatoes, but they look pretty.


I also recently had my fence power washed and painted.  I think it turned out great and is a good color to highlight my flowers and flowering shrubs.  It's been either too rainy or too hot to sit at my little bistro table.  Maybe one morning I will be able to enjoy my coffee out there.

Watching the tomatoes grow has been fun.  I am looking forward to when I can harvest them! 


Considering my yard looked like this when I moved in four years ago, I think I am doing pretty good!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

FOSTER MOM

I love dogs.  Always have.  I grew up with an awesome Springer Spaniel named Sugar. 

Sugar, the dog I grew up with, waiting for her dinner
I can't tell you how many of my little girl tears were dried on Sugar's soft, floppy ears.  Thus began my love of dogs.
 

Diva Gracie
A few dogs have come in and out of my life over the years, but in 2000 I adopted my Gracie, who was simply the dog love of my life.  In 2005 Lucy Lou joined us.  Both died in 2010 within three weeks of each other.


Sweet Lucy Lou

I then adopted my Sam and a few months later Oliver wandered into my heart.  I love my doggie boys.
My sweet Oliver
 
Sam the Man with the playtime plan

 
Two dogs are enough.  More than enough.  Yet, I still yearn for another dog.  Jeez!  And, dogs seemed to start wandering into my life.  Many dogs were found as strays in my subdivision and somehow ended up at my house.  Fortunately, all have either been returned to their homes or adopted by residents or friends.  Since I enjoyed the short stints with these dogs,  I started to volunteer with animal rescue groups as a "foster mom".

Murphy was my first official foster.  A sweet, little older gentleman.  I had him 2 1/2 months before he found his forever home.  I really considered adoption him myself, but kept holding back.  I regret that decision - he was a sweet boy.
 
Mr. Murphy

Ellie May was another foster.  Still a lot of puppy in her, she and Sam became good play buddies with Oliver sometimes joining in the fun.  After almost two months in my home while her health returned and she was spayed, her first time at adoptions she was adopted by a young couple with another younger dog.  They adore her.

Elly May

Recently I've had Maci.  A border collie and three years old, she is full of energy.  Sam is intimidated by her.  She is a great dog, but I am not sure just how long I will be able to foster her.  Her high energy and need to play so much makes my Sam upset and he cowers under chairs and tables.  She is just a little bigger than he is, too, which doesn't help the matter.  Hopefully, she will find her forever home very soon.


Miss Maci

The rescue groups I work with are amazing  - dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly for homeless dogs and cats.  I am proud to be associated with them.  My only concern is that one day a little dog is going to be given to me as a foster and I will fall in love with her/him and not be able to give her/him up - like what almost happened with Murphy.  Then I would no longer be able to foster.  But, there are a lot of other things I can do to help rescue groups so that option is always open!

www.mostlymutts.org

www.angelsrescue.org



FACEBOOK -VS- BLOGGING

Obviously I have not been blogging.  And, I feel bad about that.  I am not the best writer in the world, but I do enjoy writing.  I miss blogging.

When I moved in Georgia in 2010 I became hooked on Facebook.  It is a quick and easy way to stay in touch with the friends I left behind in Milwaukee and those throughout the States and the world.  One or two sentences, hit post and updates are complete.  I can use Facebook no matter where I am or what time it is.  I don't need my computer or a tablet - my phone can do it all.

But, the thought process, the feelings can be lacking with Facebook.  Similar to the attitude of why pick up the phone to connect to those we care about when we can shoot them a text or a post on Facebook.  Sometimes you just need more, that voice.  Well, that is the way I've been feeling about Facebook.  I need to write more.  I need more of a connection, more of working out my thoughts, more input.

Maybe no one reads my blog.  That's OK.  I am going to start up with my blog posts anyway.  It makes me feel better, helps me work things out (there are lots of my "posts" that have never been officially been posted) and I really enjoy it.  Yes, I will continue to use Facebook, but maybe not so much.  Who knows?

It's good to be back in blog land!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ANNUAL HOLIDAY LETTER



Solstice 2013

Dear Family & Friends
 
As the nights lengthen I find myself watching more TV than usual – not a good thing.  But, I have been scanning the TV listings looking for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  After years of watching this holiday classic and then avoiding it due to burnout, I am anxious to see it again.  Watching it again will be another affirmation of just how wonderful my life is.  No angels or drama needed to remind me!  Life is just good.
 
 
I’m still working part time at the local library.  I work with great people and the “cast of characters” that come into the library on a regular basis are fun.  I find great satisfaction in helping patrons find things from a popular book to a map of the fault lines across Texas.  Always interesting. 
 

This year my neighbor and friend, Pam, and I went to Palm Coast, FL in April.  We enjoyed the area, especially St. Augustine.  Pam left early due to work commitments . I got rained out the last day or so and returned home early.  In August I drove to Oak Island, NC where I was invited by my friend, Rita, to spend a few days at a beach house with a couple of other ladies.  Beautiful location right on the ocean.  We had a good time, laughed a lot, but I brought the rain with me so I left a day early.  Obviously, we got a lot of rain down here this summer! 
 

All is well with my extended family.  Suzanne and Marlon are always busy, but decided it is time to bow out of a lot of their volunteer activities.  Linda is still in Arizona.  She has had quite a few health problems this year, but is on the mend and looking forward to spending Christmas in Wisconsin with her son.  My nephews and the “greats” are all doing well.  The “greats” are all growing up too fast.  Aaron turned 21 in June.  Coggan is 10, Cadyn 8, Shannon 7 and Zach is 3.   
 

Martha visited me for a week over the New Year in January.  Then, I didn’t have any company for 10 months.  Beth (my friend of 52 years) stopped in for a short visit in October.  Martha returned for a week in early November.  Sally and Amy were here for their annual visit the week of Thanksgiving.  Michelle is coming for the week of Christmas.  Seems like everyone is coming at once, but I am so happy they want to visit. 
 

I have started fostering dogs for Life’s Little Paws, a cocker rescue group based along the east coast states.  I started with Murphy, a cock-a-poo and extremely adorable.  He arrived in mid-October and I expect I will have him through January or longer.  Luckily, Sam and Oliver are pretty laid back, friendly dogs - a little jealous, but they know they are the top dogs around here! It will be difficult to give Murphy up, but I will deal with it when the time comes.  And, unfortunately, there are always other dogs that need love and fostering. 
 

 
As I type this, with the lap top on my lap and dogs snoozing at my feet, I am also watching the birds at the feeder.  I have counted over ten species this morning.  A squirrel tries to get at the suet, driving my Sam, sitting at the window,  crazy.  It is such fun watching them.  There are so many simple pleasures – great cup of coffee, the creek behind my house, children in my neighborhood, my garden, a long walk, the good laugh or a much needed hug of a friend.  One quote from It’s a Wonderful Life that most of us recognize is from Clarence, the angel sent down to help the main character, George.  Clarence said, “Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings.”  I don’t need to hear a bell to realize I have a wonderful life.  That bell would be ringing all of the time!  And, one main reason my life is so awesome is that you are a part of it – the wind lifting my wings, helping me to fly.  As Clarence wrote in the book he gave to George, “No man is a failure who has friends.”  I’ll include the love and support of a great family, too! 
 

May the return of the light this Solstice brighten your path on your life’s journey.  Have a great holiday season and to my friends far way - I hope to see you in 2014!


Friday, August 09, 2013

AUTOGRAPH QUILT & MAINTAINING FRIENDSHIPS

After I moved to Georgia  I realized how much I missed my friends back in Wisconsin and other places.  It was a big wake up call on how important my friends are to me, whether we were close in proximity or not.  I decided to try and do an autograph quilt.  I did two previous blog posts on this quilt.  First post link is here and the second post link is here if you are interested in reading the whole history.

Reminds me of newsprint
I finally got it completed, quilted and bound.  It was quilted at The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA.  I think I should have bound it in solid black, but I am happy with the way it turned out. The fabric is beautiful and the result reminds me of newspaper print.

Close up of some of the quilting
I especially love the backing fabric.  So pretty!

I love the backing fabric

The quilt has made me realize  more than ever how important it is to work at maintaining friendships no matter where you are on this earth.  Social media has become huge for me.  Facebook keeps me "talking" to friends far and near.  I can stay active in their lives and they mine, to a point.  As we all know, it does have its issues.  But, what a great way to stay in touch.

Anne Marie is the sassy one! LOL
The past year I have also made an effort to send out more cards to friends - especially for no real reason, but just to let them know I am thinking of them.  Who doesn't like to go to the mailbox and find a piece of mail that is not a bill or junk?  And, sometimes when going through a bad time, knowing that a friend took the time to mail a card can lift your spirits.  I know it does mine.


There is nothing like picking up the phone and calling someone.  Hearing someones voice, their laughter - well, there is nothing like it.  And, sometimes you just need to talk.


Becky and Cary included their wonderful children - a great family!

My friend, Nancy, retired to the Phoenix, AZ area a couple of years before I moved to Georgia.  We have found a unique, fun why to stay in touch.  We both enjoy watching certain TV shows, especially Project Runway.  For the last couple of years every week we call each other within a few days after the show and discuss the program.  It may seem silly, but we really do talk about the clothing made, the techniques used, the results and, of course, the contestants.  Our conversation then goes into what is happening in our lives, the world, the books we are reading, mutual friends, etc.  We joked that after Project Runway is done for the season we wouldn't talk.  But, there is Design Star and Food Network Star!  Calling each other weekly to discuss a TV show may sound funny, but Nancy is one of my dearest friends and even though we are thousand of miles away, we are extremely close.

Close up of border and binding

Getting back to the autograph quilt, my friend, Kate, wrote on her block, "a quilt of 26 hugs." How true. When I miss my friends from Wisconsin and other places I can cuddle up underneath this quilt  remember how wonderful it is to have them in my life.  I can be quiet and still and think about how important they are to me and feel their love.


I am truly blessed.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

CHICKENS AND EGGS

I like fresh goods.  I like good food.  I like to eat.  And, I love eggs. 
Look at these beautiful and colorful eggs
Fried, scrambled, poached.  I love them. 

Since retirement I have found a lot of pleasure in baking.  I have a "new" Kitchenaid mixer (bought at an estate sale) and I have been baking like crazy.  I find using good ingredients is a must.  Pure vanilla, good butter and, of course, eggs.


Good ingredients make fabulous cakes, like this Strawberry cake
I had been trying to find someone or someplace that sold organic/free range chicken eggs to no avail.  Then, a few months ago I stopped in a little craft store in Ball Ground, GA and the owner sold the eggs I was looking for.  She connected up with a local man who has a flock of "girls" as he calls them, he raises for pure enjoyment.  Over 55 chickens gives him a lot of eggs.  So, some he sells to the store owner, who, in turn, sells them to the public.  Beautiful eggs.  I would purchase two dozen at a time and had at least one double yolk in the bunch.  Yes - a real double yolk egg.  Who sees that in eggs from the grocery store?  I was in in egg heaven.  Deep orange yolk.  Shells of brown, white and blue.  What fun to cook with and so good to eat! 
Look at the deep, rich color of the yolks
And, while driving down the road close to my house I saw a sign stating "Eggs for Sale."  Another source for egg!  Yea!

The best thing is that while talking to my neighbor, Rachel, and she mentioned her parents had a small flock of chickens.  They could not use all of the eggs and sold them to friends.  REALLY?  My friend, Pam, and I went to check out the chickens.  And, I got right into the coop!  I could gather my own eggs.  How cool is that?  I lived in a city all my life until I moved to Georgia in 2010.  I have been around farm animals, but not chickens.  Rachel's mom lives less than a mile from my house.  Perfect.  And, the eggs are just as wonderful.

You can't get eggs much fresher than this!

Gathering my own eggs! 
So, now I text Rachel when I need eggs and within a day or so she delivers them to my door.   Tonight Rachel dropped off a couple of dozen eggs for me.  I hand her the money (considerably less than in the grocery store) and empty egg cartons.  One time she said I might want to wash them as her parents were out of town and they gathered the eggs in a hurry.  How fresh is that?  


Feeding the girls.
 
Looking at these eggs I have to laugh.  Along with the blue, brown and green eggs is always one HUGE white egg - far bigger than any "extra large" size eggs I would get at the store.  This egg makes me shudder a little.  Poor hen - having to push out an egg that size a couple of times a day. 

This is the lady who pumps out those huge white eggs. 
She doesn't seem too stressed!
Using these eggs makes me almost giddy and I love the thought that I am eating something so fresh, local and contributing to my neighbor's hobby.  It's a win/win situation. 
Fun signs in the chicken coop.
I love knowing my eggs come from good, healthy chickens.  I love that I can get them from a neighbor.  Now all I have to figure out is which came first - the chicken or the egg?

* All pictures were taken at Rachels mom's chicken coop.  Thanks, Rachel!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

LOTS OF QULTING PROJECTS

I have been busy quilting, just not posting what I have been working on!  So, here is some of what I have been up to.  Most of these are quilt tops that will slowly be professionally quilted as I can afford it.  Some I have posted months or even a few years ago as I was working on them, but not the completed projects. Thanks to my friends, Karin and Ann for being the "quilt models" even if they were hiding behind the quilts!

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 My Aunt Grace's Circle of Friends is top is finally completed.  Yea!

 
This Block of the Month project turned out great.  I love the bright, happy colors of the 1930s reproduction fabric.

Karin is being silly!  This quilt does make you happy!  The center medallion and flowers around it are all hand stitched on the quilt.  This quilt top was a ton of work, but worth all of the time and effort.  More close up views will be shown after it is quilted and bound.

How can this bright quilt top not make you smile?  Just knowing it is finally done makes me smile!

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So, what do you do when you win two charm packs?  (A charm pack is usually 44, 5" squares of fabric all from the same fabric line.) Purchase two more, throw them all in a paper bag and pull out four charm squares at a time (making sure they are all different) and make four square blocks! Arrange the blocks in a way that pleases your eyes, sew them together, add a couple of borders and you got a very, very simple and easy quilt top!

 
I had five fabric pieces featuring tea cups left over from a different project.  Those got fussy cut and added to the mix.


Here's the backing fabric.


This was quilted at The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA. I think they did a wonderful job.


It is time for Ann to be silly in this picture. 


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I loved this fabric and the panels that came with it.  As much as I hate working with pre-printed fabric panels and after drooling over the fabric for about a year, I finally purchased it and made a quilt top. This little quilt will grace my back porch when completed.

 
Close up of this beautiful fabric.  Not fond of working with panels, but it was  worth is on this quilt.
 


Had to get the dragonfly panel in a picture!

 
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I fell in love with this quilt while visiting a quilt store in Colorado in 2008. I purchased the kit and finally got it done in 2013. It is my hydrangea quilt, so soft and pretty. Again, working with printed panels can be a challenge, but it turned out great. Can't wait to see it once it is quilted.


Close up of these lovely fabrics.  So soft and pretty.

 
Close up of a couple of the panels and the pretty border fabric.
 
 
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Finally, finally, finally this quilt is finished. I call it Jeannie's quilt after the owner of Ye Olde Schoolhouse quilt store in Cedarburg, WI, which was my home quilt store before I moved to Georgia. This was a project! Jeannie gave each of us in the Friendship Quilting Group a fat quarter and two quilt block patterns each month. We had to use the fat quarter fabric in each of the two very different blocks filling in the rest of the fabric from our stash. Over the course of the year we made 24 blocks. I added the Friendship Star square in the center. I think it is fabulous and can't wait to get it quilted.


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Put on your sun glasses and gaze at the Tropical Breeze quilt! This was a Block of the Month I did from my new home quilt shop, The Quilt Shop on Main. I had never done a piano border before and it was fun to make. Before this quilt top was done, my friend Sally was visiting. She really liked the blocks I had complete at that point.  We stopped in the quilt shop and she saw the completed quilt. While we were both looking at it I said I wasn't sure about the border and thought it might be too loud. Sally laughed and said she just loved it. So, once quilted and bound it will go to Sally.

See Karin and Ann's twinkle toes? 
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Thanks again to Karin and Ann for displaying and refolding the quilts for me. You're the best!