Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, You Beautiful Doll(s) . . . ahhh, Dog(s)!

My blogging friend, Misti, painted these awesome portraits of my girls. Aren't they the cutest little doggie girls you have ever seen? Both in real life and in art.

The Paris Hilton of the dog world, Gracie

Gracie thinks she should have her own show. She believes thousands of 2-leggeds as well as 4-leggeds would come to see her one and only portrait. No cats or squirrels allowed. Lucy Lou sniffed the portrait and went back to sleep. If it is not a walk or food, she isn't interested. Although she did ask Gracie if food would be served at the "opening." Gracie is thinking about it.

My shy Lucy Lou

I think Misti did a fabulous job. Check out her blog and you can find her on Etsy, too.

Gracie is taking appointments for private views. Lucy Lou told me she won't let anyone in the door. Not that she doesn't love her portrait, but that it will distrub her beauty rest.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home Again

Here is what I have to say about my vacation:

Wonderful. Fabulous. Relaxing. Fun.

I traveled to Mesa, AZ to visit my dear friend, Nancy. Nancy followed her dreams and moved to Mesa, AZ in April after a long and happy career as a teacher with the Milwaukee Public School system. She told me she misses teaching every single day. I think she does. She is a master teacher. She lives in a charming 2-bedroom apartment that includes a beautiful club house and pool.

Nancy was a great host. She loves to entertain and her passion is cooking. Thanksgiving dinner was awesome! She also likes to explore new places and restaurants. Ahhh - a woman after my own heart! I ate well on this vacation! (Marcie - we never made it to Tia Rosa, but will on my next trip).

Highlights include the a great lunch at the Olive Mill in Queen's Creek, meeting up with Pam (another teacher we knew when we all worked together at Eighth Street Middle School where I was the secretary) and her husband, daughter and grandson to watch the Packers on Sunday. A trip to Urgent Care to get meds so I could survive Nancy's cat, Lucy. Only my eyes are happy to be back in Wisconsin! Drives to ruins and up to the mountains. Singing to Peter, Paul and Mary at the top of our lungs. Watching TV in our jammies. Going to the date and nut store where Nancy negotiated a great deal on a bench for her porch (where I had a yummy date milk shake) and visiting on quilt store (had to do that).

Nancy & her great deal of a bench!

We also saw two musicals. The 25th Annual Putham County Spelling Bee was just a hoot. It was funny and included four people from the audience participating in the "bee." One had to spell Kinnickinnic. Well, being good Milwaukee girls we laughed so hard as we were probably the only people other than the actors who knew how to spell Kinnickinnic within 1,000 miles(Kinnickinnic Parkway, Kinnickinnic River, Kinnickinnic Avenue - you get the picture!). The other musical was Meet Me in St. Louis at a dinner theater. It was fun, too, and we all enjoyed it. I love the songs, but somehow the Judy Garland movie will always be the best.

I spent time with my sister, Linda. She moved to Mesa in October and lives in a very nice trailer park 10 minutes away from Nancy. She still is unpacking a little, but I can see where she will love living there. Her trailer is very nice and the park has a great community room with a nice large pool and hot tub. She is already involved in many activities.

More on this wonderful trip later. Today in Milwaukee it is overcast, in the low 50s and very, very damp. Where's the sun?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I am here in Mesa, AZ - staying with my good friend, Nancy. It's been a great vacation. Well - except the trip to the Urgent Care Clinic on Sunday, due to my allergic reaction to her kitty! The weather is just beautiful and we have been all over the area. I have also seen my sister, Linda, and we will all spend today together. (More on this trip when I get home).

Last night Nancy and I watched Slum Dog Millionaire together. It is a great movie and I highly recommend it. At one point - watching the poverty of India - I looked over at Nancy and said, "Thank God we were born in the United States!"

I have so very many things to be grateful for and I will spare you the list as it is long! But today my thoughts will drift to all of the wonderful things in my life - past, present and future - and I will be filled with awe and gratitude.

I am a very blessed woman.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Panel Hangings

Here a a couple of holiday panels I made in October and finished this month.

I love the Santa with the polar bear. I added a border to the panel. Of course, it is in blues, which is one reason why I love it. I love all of the animals, too.

The cat panel is a Christmas gift for my doggie sitter, Mary Sue, from Gracie and Lucy Lou. Mary Sue is really a cat person, but she loves all animals and adores my "girls." I have always given her dog themed Christmas presents, so this year I saw this cat panel and decided to go with it. I added border to this, too.

Both panels were quilted at The Patched Works.

I added crystals to both panels, which do not show up on the pictures. On the Santa panel I added over 60 clear and blue Swarovski crystals and amber Swarovski crystals to the cat panel border, trying to place them on the stars. I bought the crystals, which are flat on the bottom and have heat activated glue on them, along with this tool that heats up and affixes the crystal to the material. The tool really doesn't work as it should. You can purchase these crystals in all different sizes and the tool comes with "bits" to match the size of the crystal. The instructions say to place the crystal right side up on the material and place the heated to (with correct size bit) over the crystal for 15 seconds or so. Well, I found the crystals would stick inside the bit of the tool and it was hard to get them out. So, I placed the crystal where I wanted it and pressed the side of the bit to it and hold it in place. This works as far as heating the crystal enough to get the glue to stick, but it also moves the crystal a little. I had crystals flying all over the place!

Anyway, I am very pleased with the way they both turned out and thanks to Jen who gave me the idea to add the crystals. It adds a little something extra and special both panels.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jeannie's Block of the Month

Right Hand of Friendship block on right, Army Star block on left
Dark blue print is feature fabric

I keep calling this BOM all different names, but I have decided to officially call it Jeannie's quilt. She is the owner of Ye Olde Schoolhouse where we meet once a month to get our patterns and feature fabric.

This month the pattern wasn't written in Greek, as in previous months! Well, Greek to me, that is. Slowly I am starting to figure out these patterns that come with little instruction. I still have difficultly with putting the squares together to make the larger block, but it is getting better. I finished these two blocks off on a Sunday morning.

We had fun when we met this month. It was a large group and everyone brought the blocks they completed. It was great to see the fabric choices each lady picked to go with the feature fabric Jeannie gives us each month to use in each of the two blocks. It was also a "show and tell." Some of the projects these women do are amazing. Maybe next month I will be brave enough to bring something in I have completed.

Eight blocks down, 16 more to go!

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's a Brand New Me

Well, almost a brand new me. It's a brand new look for my blog.

Joanna, from Southern Girl Blog Designs, developed this new look. I gotta tell you - I love it! Joanna is great to work with !

It's not completed yet. I have pictures to add and other things; but, like me - it is a work in progress.

Hope you like it!

A Quilt for the Burn Camp

Every year the Wisconsin Association of Fire Chief's has a conference in June. For several years a quilt is raffled off and the proceeds are donated to the Burn Camp, which is a week-long summer camp for children, ages 7-17, who have suffered from burns. Many members of the Milwaukee Fire Department volunteer their own time each summer at the camp.

Late last spring a plea went out from the lady in charge of the quilt donation. The quilter who had been donating quilts the past few years could no longer do so. While it was too late for me to help, I told her I would ask the Friendship Ladies quilting group at Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilt Store in Cedarburg, WI if they would like to help in this worthy cause.

I know quilters have generous spirits. This proved itself when last summer I mentioned the possibility of making a quilt to be raffled off . They all agreed it was a good idea. Well, it's now time to get down to business. Last Thursday we we met, Jeannie and I brought up the subject again. Within minutes a pattern was decided on, copies of it distributed and colors decided. Each lady will make one 12" Twin Star block using the colors of cream, black and deep red/burgundy. I asked that each lady have her block to me by February so I have time to add sashing and borders (if needed) and get it to the quilter. It should all be ready by the June conference.

I was overwhelmed how fast these ladies agreed to help. One lady ran out to her car to show us a Twin Star quilt she had pieced that she thought would work. The colors were perfect and the pattern easy enough for even me!

If any of you out in blog land would like to add a block to this very worthwhile cause, please contact me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Help! Name this Quilt Pattern!

In September I bought this quilt at an antique store in Cedarburg, WI. It is all hand stitched and in perfect condition.

Can anyone help me name the pattern? Era? I don't think it is older than the 1930s and probably made a lot later. In fact, it almost looks new, but it's not.

When I first saw it I was taken back by the bright colors. But, once I opened it and saw the beautiful pattern, I was hooked. I find the circles and squares amazing. Now I need the name of the pattern and any other info I can find on it. Thanks for Mary Sue and Pam (hidden behind the quilt) for holding it up while I took the picture!

Also, I have several antique quilts I need repairs. Some I have purchased and two that were made by my mother and grandmother. Any recommendations on where I could take them?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Skin Deep

Yesterday I had a laser treatment done on my face to remove the red "spider" lines caused by broken blood vessels. I have my Dad's complexion, which is on the reddish side and broken veins on the face runs in the family.

I have always been very self conscious about these little red lines and clusters in my face. I have worn a heavier foundation in attempts to cover them up. While right now my face is red and looks like I have hives all over it - due to the treatment - in a few days this will clear up and I will be able to see the results.

Boy - it hurt like hell when the dermatologist was doing the procedure. And, she told me some of the lines were very deep and I might (probably) need one or two more treatments. That's OK - if this first treatment gets rid of 50-75% of these lines, I will be happy. And, I will go back to have the rest removed. I feel better about my face already (despite looking like lobster lady).

Vanity? Yes. But I will also feel much better about myself.

However, I do not believe in extensive plastic surgery on your face if it is purely for vanity.

Good exception: Years ago I worked with a young woman, Amy, in her mid-twenties who had a rather large nose. It really bothered her (I didn't think it was that bad, but it wasn't my nose). She told me how all of her life she had been teased. She hated people to see her profile. Amy decided to have a nose job. She even took out a 3 year loan from her bank to pay for it as insurance wouldn't cover the cost. Boy, what an uproar this caused! Her mother was very upset she was having it done. Even other women at work thought is was ridiculous to take out a loan (I think it was around $5,000) just to have a nose job. But, Amy brushed them all aside and had it done. Her nose did look better. A few months later I walked into her work area and she was holding up a compact and "powdering her nose," obviously liking what she saw. I said, "Amy, what a cute little nose you have to powder." She beamed at me and told me if she lived to be 100, it would be the best thing she ever did for herself. (Note: for herself, not to herself.) By now, the loan has long been paid up and Amy is out there in the world somewhere really liking how she looks. More power to her.

Bad example: A few years ago I was down in Atlanta with my family and we were at a very nice restaurant. At a table across from us sat a large family gathering. They were a happy group, having fun with lots of laughter came from their table. One lady who as probably between 55 - 65 had an expression on her face that never changed. Not while she ate, not while she laughed, not while she listened. It never changed. And, it was so very obvious that she had extensive plastic surgery done to her face. She looked a little goofy. Her brows were too high, her eyes wide in surprise and her lips here pumped up so that they were huge. The skin was so tight across her facial bones she looked like someone was pulling it from behind her ears. How awful she looked.

There is a lot to be said for aging gracefully. There is a lot to be said for having plastic surgery to correct a feature that detracts from your looks, if you so choose.

I can't see myself having any more procedures done to my face once I am done with the laser treatments. But, I believe "never say never." I like the way I look and while my skin is changing from age, it's OK. It's a part of life. If other woman want plastic surgery or face lifts - more power to them. But, I do think it is important to age gracefully and not try to look or be something you are not. And, I would be very careful about what I had done and how much I had done. When you are 60 you are not 20 and to try to look like you are is silly.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

October Accomplishments

Well, I quilted my little heart out in October.

I added my "to do" list to the side bar of this blog. It was really fun to "check" things off as I completed them. I can't believe I got so much done considering one weekend I didn't quilt at all and I have a home to maintain. I did a lot of yard work, too.

I wish you could see the metallic thread I used on the stems of the fern.

Underground Railroad blocks 6 & 7.

Carpenter's Wheel on the left. Bear Claw on the right.

I'm posting of a couple of wall hangings I finishing binding in October - Jars Aplenty and the small fern piece. My witch wall hanging is shown in a previous post. I also finished my two Underground Railroad blocks, and am I am on a roll with making more this week.

This month I am gone for a week to Arizona to visit a good gal pal and my sister. Both recently moved out there and, unbeknown to each other, moved within a few miles of each other! Small world. So this trip will "kill to birds with on stone" so to speak. I will be staying with Nancy and she invited my sister Linda over for Thanksgiving dinner. This way we will both be with family. I think my sister is feeling the effects of moving so far way from her son, daughter-in-law and grand kids. Even though we are not that close, it will be good for her to be with people she knows and feels comfortable with.

I am so ready for this trip to Mesa. However, my quilting accomplishments will suffer. Oh, well. . . .

On the bright side, Nancy has already located quilt shops in the area!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Stole for Lori

I first met Lori in the early 1990s while we were both attending Unitarian Universalist Church-West in Brookfield, WI. I started a Women's Spirituality Group, Lori joined and we became friends. A few years later, Lori and Sharon (another Church Lady) facilitated a 13-week curriculum for women entitled Rise Up and Call Her Name. It is from this group that the "Church Ladies "officially " began.

Almost from the start I think we all realized Lori had Unitarian Universalist minister potential. Our group presented several church services over the years, which were very well received and which Lori had a huge role in organizing. And, there was something in Lori that just made us feel she had the calling. But, life can sometimes get in the way of thoughts and suggestions. Lori and her husband had three young children and were busy people. Also, as the Brookfield church grew, a group left the church and started Lake Country UU Church, about 40 miles to the west. Lori and her husband are charter members and became active is developing this successful church.

Time moves on, kids get older and thoughts/yearnings turn into solid ideas and actions. A few years ago, Lori announced that she had been accepted in the Chicago Theological Seminary. This program better suited her schedule and needs better Meadville Lombard , the UU theological seminary in Chicago. She was able to take classes at Meadville and CTS would accept her credits. After three years of studies and a one year internship at a UU church, Lori could become a UU minister.

To the Church Ladies this was a no-brainer. We knew Lori would make a fabulous UU minister and while the seminary would be challenging, we know she could do it. And, she did. When it came time for an internship, Lori landed Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, WI with one of the best ministers UU has to offer.

Around this time, the Church Ladies began to think of what we could do for Lori as a "congratulations" for all of her hard work and dedication. We decided on a clerical stole. I contacted and worked with Jenna, from Cotton Patch Designs, out of Texas. This company normally works with Christian ministers, and I think Jenna was a little curious about designing a UU stole, especially one as specific as we wanted. But Jenna listened to what we wanted and designed a beautiful stole. Jenna was great to work with. She is an artist!

Yet, Lori had one more hurdle. The last part of the UU ministerial program is a grueling panel interview, which included Lori giving a sermon, at the UU headquarters in Boston, MA. Lori and her husband flew east. Again, we had no doubt. And, Lori passed with flying colors. She will be officially ordained as a UU minister this spring.

At our Church Lady gathering on Halloween, we presented Lori with her stole. Represented on it are the Church Ladies (circle of women) Unitarian Universalism (flaming chalice), earth, air, fire and water (ground/trees, swirls, stars and river). Inside is a quote from one of Lori's favorites, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The back has the pink ribbon of a breast cancer survivor along with the Chinese symbols for strength and hope. Also, stitched inside is all of our names. You may click on the pictures for a more detailed view - it's worth it!

It is a beautiful stole, but not as beautiful as Lori.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Whole Lotta Witches

My Halloween panel

Church ladies without me

Last night my "church lady" friends came over for our annual celebration of Halloween. It is a tradition we meet at my house for Halloween (Joanne's for Winter Solstice, Kristin's for Summer Solstice, Janet's for Lammas, etc.). We try to meet according to the Earth-based spiritual celebrations. While many of us consider our spiritual paths Earth-based, not all of us do. We have a wide variety of spiritual beliefs (Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Earth-based to name a few) and we respect each others individuality. Our gatherings are always meaningful and fun. Halloween is the one time we "dress up." What fun!

Church Ladies with me (and Gracie, Lucy Lou being camera shy)

We had a great surprise when Nikki showed up! Nikki, a founding member of the Church Ladies, moved back home to Chico, California about 2 years ago. Although we all communicate via our yahoo group, it's not the same as having her here with us. It was great to see her.

It was also a very special night was we had another surprise for one of our group, Lori. More about that on my next post.

Amy & me show off our great hats we bought together at Cracker Barrel.

We had a great potluck, we checked in with each other and we honored the holiday by talking about our experiences with loved one who have passed. Lori read 2 beautiful poems.

I will never be able to express how much these women mean to me. To quote a song, "They are the wind beneath my wings." I love them one and all.