Friday, June 29, 2012

Red, White and Blue Winner!

Finally my internet is back up!  It's been down since yesterday, and I've spent way too much time checking on whether it's working.  It's sad that I'm so lost without it!
Are you interested in finding out who won?  Yay! for Lindsey who left the following on the 22nd:

following your blog! Love to celebrate the 4th with a casual bbq. :) on Red, White and Blue Giveaway!

And, of course, thanks to everyone who entered.  I was a bit worried that I would get only the two or three who entered on the first day.  It turns out that Lindsey didn't have much competition in the end, only about 24 or so folks signed up, but oh well...   

As soon as Lindsey answers my email and sends her address, I'll get these fabric squares out to her.  

Of course, I used to choose a number for me.  But there's a random issue with that: I can not figure out what to do to show a picture of the number.  I'll have to spend some more time trying to figure that out before the next giveaway.  It didn't seem so difficult when I did it before, or maybe it's the heat. At 100 degree temps, we're blaming the heat for everything, including what the grandchildren call a "brain drain," when your brain drains out and there's nothing left to function.  We're getting lots of that lately.  

Thanks again for playing along, I'm going back to the wonderful air conditioning in the studio to finish up a fun project.
Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Only one day left

For my Red, White and Blue 4 1/2 inch fabric squares giveaway!  Click here for the details and to enter!

Entries will close tomorrow at midnight, and I will choose a winner on Thursday.  Once I've contacted the winner, I will announce it here.

Good luck and happy quilting,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pot holder tutorial

Since I left one of my two oven mitts at a son's house--and am not getting it back--I decided it was time to invest in something to protect my hands while handling hot pots.

Can you believe that pot holders and oven mitts run upwards of $3 each?  And those were the cheap ones!  I simply did not want to pay that kind of money for something I could easily make.  So instead, I bought dish towels and smaller dish cloths. 

$10 for everything...not too bad.  

I really like bar mops because they are absorbent and come in a variety of sizes and weights.  I tossed in one striped dish towel that matched the stripes on the bar mops.  When I got home, I tossed the bar mops into the washer and brought the striped towel to the studio.  

The Plan:  Make two or more pot holders from the one dish towel and whatever I happen to have on hand in the studio.

I cut off the hem, which I could have ripped out but it simply was not worth the extra work.  I then cut the dish towel evenly into thirds.

To determine how large I needed, I simply measured my own hand with the fingers spread apart.    

Fold each piece in half, and add three layers of quilt batting. 

Sew around the three open sides, leaving an opening to turn right side out.

Turn right side out and using a blunt object, push out the corners.  (I have a small dowel rod that I used for this purpose.)

Turn the raw edges in and pin in place.  

Sew opening closed and continue completely around the pot holder.

To make sure that the batting does not shift when I wash these, I stitched in straight lines using the stripes as my guide.  First in one direction.....

then in the other direction.

I want to be able to hang these pot holders, so I found a shoe lace that wasn't being used and happened to be a good color for the project.  I cut it into three 8 inch pieces and tied the ends into small knots.  

Stitch onto one corner for a hanger, but be careful--I broke two needles doing just that!  

And we're ready to get if only I could get rid of the crud as easily!  

The Result: three pot holders for the $1.45 dish towel, batting scraps and an hour of my time.  For less than $10 we now have five dish towels, eight dish cloths, and three pot holders....all color coordinated, clean, and put away!  Considering that three pot holders alone would have cost $9, don't you think it was worth the effort?

Only three days left to enter the Red, White and Blue Giveaway!  Click on the link to get the details and leave a comment to enter a chance to win.  Good luck and Happy Quilting,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Threads of Encouragement

Some time after Daddy died in January, a wonderful friend sent this book to me in the hopes that it would encourage me through my grief.  At the time I was in the middle of a novel, so I set it aside intending to pick it up next.  I've said many times that I'm a wolf-reader, devouring books once I get started.  This book, however, is not a wolf read.  There are short stories of three to five pages, divided into themes that mostly deal with needle work.  Perfect for a grieving quilter, right?

One gloomy day I picked it up and read a story or two.  A few days later, I picked it up again.  Then again.  The heartwarming, quick reads are immediately followed by a line of scripture or a quote.   The writers honestly share moments when faith was tested, when times were especially difficult, or when the world was not right.  Since I've experienced the sense of loss, especially during mom's long illness and right after dad died, it helped to read how others have coped.  Certainly, it's been helpful just to know that others have traveled the hard road and kept going.  And it's humbling to read how much more difficult the road is for others.

Of course, there are times when I've picked it up and wolfed-down several stories, but that hasn't happened as much as I expected.  Guess it helps to fight the urge to gobble it down quickly and to keep telling myself that I don't have to finish it right away.

I even put it aside for a while to read another novel, and I found picking it back up not difficult at all.  I've finished with the book, but I think I'll give it one more go.  I've decided to read it sort of backwards.....I'll look up the scripture in my Bible first, and then read the story.  This may help me to use it more for meditation, rather than as a quick readlike a magazine article.   Honestly, doesn't my friend know me really well?  I would not have picked this book up for myself, but I have certainly gotten so much more from it than I could have hoped.

One more thing that it's encouraged me to do: pick up those NICU gowns again.  (more on that in a day or so)  A common theme, I've discovered, is that when we're hurting, it's especially helpful to do for others, and I so love making those tiny little gowns! 

Reminder: if you haven't signed up for my Red, White and Blue fabric giveaway, you might want to do so......go here for the details!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What gives?

I am definitely not understanding this! Since when do people NOT want fabrics?  I just don't get it.  I offered a giveaway of 40 four and one half inch square blocks in red, white and blue fabrics.  So far at least 150 people have visited the post, but only two have left comments, one of two things needed to be eligible to win.  The other thing is to be a follower, but following doesn't seem to be the issue since four or five have become followers.

I don't know what to do except to say, here's your chance at free fabrics.  Of course, you don't have to use the fabrics together, that was my idea, but certainly they can be separated, or just added to your stash.

Leave a message either on the original red-white-and-blue-giveaway post or on this post.  The drawing will be on the 27th.

I'm not going to let it worry me too much.  In fact, check out what I've been up to lately.   Wanting to practice some feathers, I loaded plain white fabric on the machine and played.  
 It's difficult to see white on white, but I basically dropped in some feathers till the small table runner was allmost filled, then I added a few flower motifs and filled the open spaces with pebbles. 

It was fun and easy and looks quite elegant.  

I'm thinking it will make a great wedding gift, if I should need one any time soon.  Otherwise, I could give it to a sister.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Red, White and Blue Giveaway!

A week or so ago, I wrote about our recent trip to Washington, D.C.  We invited our oldest son and his family to come with us because his children are the perfect ages for learning about our country.  

They've been studying American history and will have more of it in high school.  Besides, it's also a great way to instill a little national pride in our grandchildren, which is really important to our family.  

Between our trip to D.C. and July Fourth about to occur, I had the idea to giveaway a pack of red and blue fabrics.  My assumption, of course, is that the winner will add some white fabrics to the mix, but that is completely up to whomever wins.

Included in the pack of fabrics is 40 die cut 4 1/2 inch squares--20 in red and 20 in blue.  I cut them today from fabrics in stash using my Accuquilt Studio.  It took only a little while to cut all 40 squares.

The question, of course, is what do you do for a chance to win?  Let's make it easy and fun with only two rules:

1. be a follower or become one.

2. leave a comment telling how your family celebrates the Fourth of July.  

In a few days I'll tell you how you can earn extra chances to win, so come back and check it out.  I'd also appreciate if my bloggy friends helped to get the word out.

And since July 4th is right around the corner, I'll draw the winner on June 27.  That will give me a week to get the fabrics to the winner.
This giveaway is open to anyone living in the United States and to any U.S. citizen living our of the country since it's meant to celebrate our Independence Day.  Unfortunately that does eliminate some folks, but we'll have another giveaway soon that will be open to everyone. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

From today's first reading: 
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
“‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. ’”        Ezekiel 17:22-24

Reading this passage as lector during mass today, I could not help but think of my father, Riley.  He was so much like the cedar tree in the reading.  A farmer for most of my life, he planted vegetables that fed the family both at the table and by bringing in money, so today's reading and gospel were especially poignant to me.  

I guess if dad was the cedar, that would make my seven sisters and I the fruit.  In my mind, the birds would be the cousins who spend summers at our house, our many friends and our husbands. 

Of course, at the time I was reading to the entire congregation. Thanks to my ADD, I managed without too many errors, but I could not think through the idea while reading aloud.  When I did have the time this afternoon, my thoughts were mostly about my dad and the kind of person he was, his love for momma and us girls, his faith and integrity and pride.  I am blessed to have known him and to have had the opportunity to learn from him.  

I miss him terribly and this weekend has taken a toll my emotions, but the hurt and grief are signs of how much he has meant to us all.  I can only hope I leave such a legacy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Maggie's Memory Quilt

Last month I wrote a bit about making a memory quilt for one of my students who graduated just a few days later.  She showed her tee shirt quilt to a friend, Maggie, and within a few days I had more tee shirts to cut and sew.  Maggie's quilt is now finished.  In fact, I just put the binding on it this afternoon.  

Like I did with Lindsey's quilt, I found a place to add in Maggie's initials.  I want these quilts to be a little more than just a quilt made from their tee shirts.  

Originally I had planned to sash it in red, but after auditioning several reds, I decided to use the black.  A red that worked with one tee looked orange next to a different tee and had purple undertones next to a third tee.  Since there are four red shirts and one that is almost an orange, I decided that we needed some thing much more neutral.  The black works well, don't you think?

After finishing the binding, I raced outside to snap a few pics before the rain started.  I just made it!  It's pouring right now, which we're thrilled about, despite the sweltering humidity.

Back to the photo shoot, the camera is giving me trouble again.  I'm going to have to return it.  I really think this has more issues than just "operator challenges."  I've read the paperwork and there is nothing about when the picture is split like this.  And notice how the bottom is washed out.  The truer colors are always on the top section.

My assumption is that it's not supposed to happen, otherwise the info would tell me how to make it stop happening, right?

Worse is that some of the photos get split and when they're stitched back together, they are off kilter.  Take a look at the close up  of the panel with Maggie's initials.  Notice how the word "Bunkie" is broken up so that the letters don't match above and below the split?  That's it.  I promise I did not do that.

That noted, I'll have to call the company and find out what I can do for the return. It's not a terribly expensive camera (as cameras go) but $300 for something that doesn't work correctly is a terribly big expense.  Nikon will just have to make it right.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Laura and her new camera....
photography is one of her hobbies.
My sister, Laura, and her two daughters were here last week for a visit.  She phoned ahead and told me she had a plan for at least one day of her vacation in Louisiana: she wanted to go on a swamp tour.  

I've been on a trip something like this before, when the boys were young, and I wasn't so impressed, but I could be convinced provided she brought along mosquito spray.  She agreed.  Turns out we didn't need it but I didn't know that at the time.

Haley and Riley (sorry the photo is so bad girls)
She invited our other sisters and made arrangements with Cajun Country Swamp Tours which is located in Breaux Bridge, and headed by a zoologist/botanist tour guide who unabashedly loves the water, the swamp, and the Acadians.

Sisters Angie and Sid

Lake Martin
I must admit, it was way more interesting than I could have hoped for.  In fact, I really want to take the grandchildren on a tour in a few weeks.  

The weather was perfect, bright and sunny, warm but not sweltering and breezy.  Of course, I would not have wanted to be going out at 11:00 when we returned to shore!  We were tired but it was getting a bit too warm.  The tours last two hours, so that means the 11:00 tour ends at 1:00, a very hot part of the day. 

We saw all sorts of birds from roseate spoonbills, several egrets, a great blue heron, anhingas, an owl, Carolina chickadees, and maybe a few more I've forgotten.

My favorite were the beautiful water lilies, which I photographed, but my camera is acting up again and those pics did not come out.
Since we were in a swamp, there were only two types of trees, but don't let that make you think that there's no variety.  It's amazing how beautiful the trees are.  

Cypress tree 

Check out these beauties.  Isn't it interesting how this tree on the right is alive but has no center?  I love it that the guide points out these sights and explains them.

That he explains them in a humorous, entertaining way made the tour even more fun.  These guys are serious about their Cajun hospitality!  

An alligator

A bit of land
Of course, he was good about pointing out those things we expected to see.  Spanish moss, cypress knees, alligators, they were all there!  And we got to see them all from a crawfish skiff deep enough to feel safe but open so that we could easily see and snap photos.  Definitely worth the trip!    And as an extra special mosquitoes!
Spanish moss

Cypress knees

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

National Zoo

If I were to recommend any of the many things we did while in Washington, D.C. last week, one would definitely have to be the National Zoo.  
I wasn't surprised by the variety of animals, their enclosures or how well they are kept.  In fact, I fully expect that this zoo would be one of the best in the world.  
 What surprised me most is the educational opportunities that the zoo provides for its patrons and for the world in general.
I tend to read everything I can get my eyes on.  

So our visit naturally includes my reading every sign, every post, every pamphlet.  In fact, it was a bit of a problem since we were supposed to get to the end of the trail at some point so that we could go on to another place.
Richard rushed me, and hurried me along, and came back for me, and well, didn't give me time enough to read everything.  I mean, how am I supposed to remember the name of this quirky bird if I didn't even have time to read the poster, connect the live bird to the picture and tell someone?  See, that's how I learn.  I read, make a connection, and then teach.  So we arrive at the famed panda bear exhibit.
I have a special connection to panda....first off, they're just cute and darling and cuddly.  But also, I once had a stuffed toy panda as a child.  My panda was accidentally left in a train station and my dad, who was trying to catch up to the rest of the family, saw the toy bear on a bench and recognized it.  He didn't pick it up but, the story goes, he knew he was getting close when he saw my bear, and indeed, found us just a short time later.   
So, I had to read all about the near extinction of the pandas in China, how the National Zoo has helped that government in recovery efforts, and how those efforts helped the two government to begin talks and work toward peace.  Isn't that a great story for a sweet, peaceful little bear?  Yes, well, to get the whole story (and I did) I had to throw a southern girl hissy fit.....but it work!  Want to read it for yourself?  Here it is!  The link will take you to the zoo website page for the giant panda center.  There you can get e-newsletters and watch live action on the panda cam.
We loved the panda exhibit, but I do believe we spent the most time in the aviary buildings.  
There are both an indoor and an outdoor building, and the variety of birds is pretty special and beautiful.
I'll close with a recommendation that if you have the opportunity to visit Washington with children (or without) visit the National Zoo