Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Candle mat

While in Colorado I tried my hand at making a "penny rug," raw-edge applique using wool and embroidery floss. My Dear Jane Secret Pal sent me a kit, complete with pre-cut wool, floss, a glue stick, needle, and a small pair of scissors. It was really fun!
I haven't found out who my SP is this year, but I should soon. She has an incredible sense of humor and has known just exactly what I'd like each month. The Jane Stickle quilt has brought an incredible number of people together, all around the world.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Changes ahead

I got back from a quick trip to Colorado late last week. Mom needed some surgery which kept her overnight in the hospital. When she got home, my job was to see that she didn't over-do. Dad, of course, needed help getting around, getting in and out of bed, etc. I ran errands, did some driving around, and generally helped out. We had some snow twice while I was there, and I was surprised at how bad the roads were one day. I expected Coloradans to be as able to cope as Vermonters, but maybe it was a particularly icy storm. I also went to my favorite haunt - the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden - and bought a few fat quarters in the quilt shop across the street from it. Traveling in winter is always fraught with hang-ups, and so it was with this trip.

We have received an offer on our house and business! The prospective buyers want a closing date of January 19 - yikes! We've been looking at houses, and once all the signatures have been affixed and all the changes have been accepted on the Maplecroft offer, we will most likely make an offer on a house. I don't relish the thought of moving in winter, let alone moving twice, but if need be, we will move to Pat & Jay's house on the Barre-Mont. Rd. for a while. I have been cleaning out junk for quite a while, but the more I throw out, the more there seems to be.

Our Christmas tree is up and gifts have all been bought. If the sun ever shines, I'll post a photo. I've even done some holiday baking although that is dangerous considering the 25 lbs. I have lost. I made some fruit cake for the first time since the 1970's. Every year I wait for someone to give me some, and no one does. So I will enjoy this batch except for one loaf I took to Midstate.

All this talk of moving has made me loath to sew much. I made 5 Dear Jane(R) blocks while in Colorado and just finished a wool candle mat. I have 49 red and beige blocks to put together. I'll need to decide whether it needs a border soon because I hope to get it and another quilt to the long arm quilter's next week, so I can deal with them after we move. Wow - everything seems to be hinging on that all of a sudden!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey breast is in the refrigerator and we just vaccuumed and washed the floors downstairs. I have 2 yds. of fall fabric draped over the tablecloth, and it looks festive. Tomorrow, Chris, Cindy, Vicki and Samantha will join us. It's a smaller crowd than in the past, but that is just fine. More for everyone! Fewer dishes for me!

I've spent the last few weeks Christmas shopping, sewing, and wrapping, and today we'll take the last of the packages to the post office. I plan to take my parents' and Jenny's presents with me to Colorado on Monday. I'm going to help Mom recouperate from surgery and Dad get along without her. She won't be able to drive for a week and shouldn't pick up anything either. Sometimes Dad needs to "kick start" to get out of bed in the mornings, so I'll do whatever I can.

It has been nice shopping and sewing so far in advance actually. Yesterday, walking in the mall with Cindy, I realized that I probably won't be back there until the week before Christmas. This will be good since I am already tired of the "music" they play there. I made five bathmats out of old, frayed bathmats or towels and "orphan" quilt blocks and scraps. I also made a bunch of potholders out of scraps. Here's one of the bathmats:

As a reward, I started working on a scrappy red and beige quilt. I need 49 blocks (or more, depending on how big I want it to be) so it will take a while. I have a batch of handsewing to take along to Colorado - mostly appliqued Dear Jane blocks, small projects to fit in here and there.

I'm currently reading "Growing Up" by Russell Baker, a sweet story set in the Depression. It is a little slow for me, probably because I've been reading so many mysteries lately. I'm tucking a batch of mysteries into my bags for Colorado, too. The trip will be long, with late arrivals at both ends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Central Vermont Quilt Show

Plans are moving ahead for the first Central Vermont Quilt Show, set for May 8 and 9, 2009, at Barre's historic Old Labor Hall. Our featured quilter is Christine Fries-Ureel, a Barre resident who has won many awards for her art quilts. Years ago, we both attended a class called "Fractured Landscapes," and her class project was gorgeous. It has been fun to watch her work develop. We will also have about 50 quilts of all sizes by local quilters and several vendors. Our first vendor check came in this week, so I'll be opening a checking account for the fledgling show soon!

I've been attending monthly meetings of a new quilt guild in the area, the Heart of Vermont Quilters, which meets on Tuesday nights. Now that I'm retired, I can also find time to attend Saturday afternoon meetings of the Calico County Quilters now and then. When we have B&B guests, I sometimes can't come but am looking forward to some winter meetings.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Duhks and a coupla quilts

We had a little respite from guests last week, so I took over the dining room to quilt a few tops that were hiding in the closet. The baby-sized quilt is based on a pattern by Bonnie Hunter ( called Happy Scrappy Houses. It was a lot of fun to do, and didn't take too long. The larger quilt came from a pattern in BHG's American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine early this year. I had the pink floral pattern for a long time before I found just the right use for it. I'll put up some photos as soon as it gets sunny enough to take some.

Friday, Halloween, we were visited by The Duhks, a Canadian band (the paper called them "neo-traditional") which played at the Opera House on Saturday. It was like having a houseful of 20-something nieces and nephews. They slept late, worked on their computers at the dining room table, did laundry, drove a bio-diesel van, and really had a relaxed attitude toward their show, leaving home after we did. It was a good show - they are great musicians - and we enjoyed their visit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Yesterday, we had a chilly rain most of the day, and this morning, it was dark as I drove to the gym. I noticed a car with about an inch of snow on top in the parking lot, and all day it has been spitting snow. We just walked downtown, I in my new, water-resistant jacket with some light-weight thermo.... material. I dug out a pair of stretchy gloves, too. It was cold but bearable.

We did a little leaf raking over the weekend, and the next nice day, I plan to bring in planters and put away outdoor furniture. I need to knit faster on the sweater I've been working on since August. Winter is on its way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What would Dad have done?

I really don't think it happened because we have had full houses nearly every night for two weeks and are losing our enthusiasm for guests. In the past eight years, we've had only a small number of needy, messy, inconsiderate people. Most of our guests have been wonderful, caring, interesting ones we would definitely like to see again. When people ask if we ever have "bad" guests, I used to reply, "only one," a distant relation on Paul's side who was extremely rude to us and other guests. Even Paul's mother agreed that the relative in question should be encouraged not to return.

I was really surprised to encounter the guest we had recently, an ordinary, garden variety bigot who was proud of it. Over breakfast, he decided to instruct some foreign guests in what he believes are at the root of America's problems. I could not believe my ears - and these foreigners listened in rapt attention - as he noted that African Americans have caused all of our problems. And he did use the term "African American," but rather one that went out of fashion in the 1960's. He said that they abuse "the system" by expecting a free ride on government benefits. He went on to describe Sherman's march to the sea, noting that it did not focus on the right target. I was so upset that I fled the dining room and busied myself with linens, dishes, and whatever else I could find.

But his diatribe did not end at breakfast. The foreigners wanted to take photos of us all and of the house. As they finally left, Mr. Racist told them to remember the root of all of our problems as they continued on their travels. With that, he plopped down in the livingroom to wait for his wife to get ready to leave. I went up to our room to sew until they left. I kept thinking about what my father would have done in that situation. I didn't want to make the foreign guests uncomfortable or cause a scene. I considered following them out to their car and explaining that not all Americans feel the same way, but I was not sure they would understand even though their English was fairly good.

I know my father would have exploded with anger at the breakfast table. He most likely would have told the man to leave immediately. But of course, such a person would never have been invited to my parents' house or, for that matter, my own. Businesspeople must sometimes put up with despicable customers in order to make a living. I continue to wish I had done more in this situation, and look forward to talking with Dad about it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Which Jane Austen heroine are you?

I took a fun quiz and found out I was most like Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, my favorite Austen novel. Try it at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just keeping on!

I just haven't had much time to post lately. Maplecroft has been busy! We had over 70 guest nights in September and are off to a roaring good October. Between now and the 18th, we will be full most of the time. This year, many guests are staying more than one night which gives us a bit of a break. Still, breakfast for 10 can be quite a job! We have decided to close for the winter Nov. 1, which will give us time to catch our breaths, travel, and goof off. Can't wait!

Our guests have come from Denmark, Ontario, California, New Hampshire, England, Michigan, Connecticut, Georgia, New York state, and even Vermont. Fall foliage is at peak color right now, and we try to get outside as much as we can to enjoy it, too. I am determined to take a decent photo for Margaret from England who arrived before the colors changed. Maybe tomorrow!

Last weekend we went to a concert at the Opera House with Dan Tyminski and his band. It was great! We are looking forward to Nov. 1 when the Duhks are playing. In between guest-business, I've been knitting a sweater, appliqueing the borders of a pink and green quilt, gathering polka dot fat 8ths for a swap, and finishing off Christmas Dear Jane swap blocks.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quite a challenge!

After a lot of moaning and groaning but certainly not a lot of time, I finished Todd's Army retirement quilt. It was somewhat out of my comfort zone, but what a challenge!
Todd is Paul's niece Beth's husband, and officially retires in January, 2009. Beth sent a box full of fatigues, t-shirts, patches, medals, pins, khaki-colored cord, and blue starred fabric. After trying a few different possibilities, I settled on some sawtoothed star blocks to hold the "fruit salad" and other pins. Todd was a member of the Polar Bears out of Ft. Drum, NY, and served in

a variety of places, thus the blue polar bear and different styles of fatigue fabric. I did a little research on ranks in the Army to make sure that the ranks were in the proper order and right-side up. The cord wound around the top to signify the "long and winding road" of Army personnel. I wish Todd and Beth well in their new life, featuring new jobs and a new house in NH.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Works in progress

I have nothing to show, but lots I'm in the middle of:
  1. A pink baby quilt for Justin & Kelly's Natalie - just needs to be photographed and then it's on its way south.
  2. A memory quilt for Beth's husband Todd, who's retiring from the Army at the end of the year. This is definitely out of my color comfort zone! I put the "sandwich" together yesterday and am ready to quilt.
  3. Quilting a scrappy house baby quilt in lime and blues which I just "sandwiched" yesterday, too. I will give this to a local organization to raffle off this winter.
  4. Dear Jane winter/holiday swap blocks - 3 sets of 5 each, plus one for me
  5. Dear Jane birthday siggie swap blocks for Sept.-Dec.
  6. Dear Jane polka dot fat eighth swap

I also offered to make a few quilt blocks for a raffle quilt to publicize the Central Vermont Quilt Show next May. Should be getting my assignment next week. That's a lot but will surely keep me busy through the fall foliage season. The B&B is just about full from mid-Sept. through mid-Oct.

Yve gave me a great journal to record my quilts in, and Cindy has been printing photos for me from my Flickr page. I still like having something I can just page through now and then to see what I've done.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I finished two projects last weekend. The landscape had been hanging around for years after an initial blast of post-Jo-Diggs-workshop energy. The garden was inspired by Sharon Baker's first "Fabulous Flowers" book.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

B&B busy-ness

Maplecroft has been extremely busy this summer so far. I thought I was shopping for food a lot (nearly every day), but then I decided to add up the guest nights - 74 by last Friday, with a week left to go in the month. Last year we had 48 for the whole month! This summer we have had a host of interesting, nice guests including:
  • my brother, his wife, and two daughters
  • master's degree graduates from Norwich University and Vermont College and their families
  • craftspeople attending the International Preservation Trades conference
  • two sets of mothers and their daughters for get-aways
  • people attending weddings and family reunions
  • genealogists and researchers
  • several writers, including a noted travel writer
  • tourists from Canada, Texas, California, Virginia, and lots of places in between, visiting the granite quarries, Ben & Jerry's, Trapp Family Lodge, and so much more. Vermont looks so good at this time of year!

Last weekend was Barre's Homecoming Days celebration, and the new configuration - closing off part of Main Street for performers and concessions - seemed to work very well. Paul helped set up tents for the library booksale in the pouring rain on Thursday, but by Friday, the sun was out, and the booksale seemed to be a huge success. Guests raved after showings of the film "If Stone Could Speak," shown at the Old Labor Hall by the Barre Historical Society. And we were pleased that our very first B&B guest, a Barre native who has become a dear friend, could come for the weekend with her husband and join the fun.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Small projects, lotsa guests

With an international building trades conference drawing carvers, architectural engineers, and others to Barre along with the usual summer tourists, we have been full almost every night this week. This summer's pattern seems to be longer stays, so that means we make up rooms and wash linens less often. But it does sometimes present a challenge to the cook who likes to vary the menu. Yesterday we served French Toast, today Quiche, tomorrow...? We just picked some raspberries, blueberries, and rhubarb, so that will figure somehow. The breakfast conversation among the trades people is way above my head, but they are happy to be together.

On the quilting front, I'm sticking to smaller projects with the humid days we've been having. For years, I've paged through a book called "Fabulous Flowers" by Sharon Baker, and last year I even made a quilted base for the dimensional flowers I wanted to make. I am finally making them now, and it is a lot of fun to create a little garden of fabric. My applique workshop with Anita Shackleford has come in handy, too, since the flower stems are narrow using her method and I plan to include a sweet little butterfly.

Monday is my long-awaited class in Long Arm Quilting, after which I hope to be able to finish off a few of the tops hanging in the closet. There were three at last count.

I'm finally getting around to reading "Suite Francaise," a book I noticed everyone carrying around last year. I can't help comparing it to "The Madonnas of Leningrad," which my mother recommended. "SF" deals with the occupation of Paris by the Nazis in 1940, while "TMOL" gives an account of 2000 people living in the basement The Hermitage during the Nazi seige of Russia a little later in WW II.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


We are having what I think is our third heat wave this summer. We may have had more and I've just lost count. I don't get much quilting done when it's like this, but I still read quite a bit. I have just finished my sixth book by Lisa Wingate, an author recommended by another Dear Jane quilt fanatic. Wingate's "Tending Roses" series is set in Missouri and Oklahoma and features individuals in an extended family. Her stories are thoughtful and satisfying. As soon as I finished one, I looked for the next, and now I'm waiting for her next book to be published!

At the end of June, I attended the Vermont Quilt Festival, including a day-long dimensional applique workshop with Anita Shackleford. We learned to stuff cherries with batting, thread yarn through stems, ruch a little butterfly, and embroider details. Anita used a camera to project what she was doing on the wall so that we could really see, and she was a very warm and encouraging teacher. The quilt show itself required another day of oohing and aahing at some very impressive works of art. Contest quilts can be viewed at

Here in Barre, we are planning our own Central Vermont Quilt Show on May 8 and 9, 2009, at the Old Labor Hall. Our featured quilter will be Christine Fries-Ureel, and our website will be up very shortly. Details are coming together, and we hope to encourage area quilters, including those too shy or intimidated to enter VQF, to display their work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer busy-ness

Many days go by in a cheerful daze of guest breakfasts, room make-up, grocery shopping, and guest check-ins. Maplecroft is busier than ever this June. The price of gas doesn't seem to be curtailing anyone's travel, but it may mean that people stay in one place more than one night, which is nice for the chambermaids (us!). In the past, many people would "do" New England in six days - one state per day. Perhaps with the price of gas, they are concentrating on a few areas instead. I took some guests to Bragg Farm sugarhouse last week, and the owners told me they are busier, too. Today's paper said that tourism is up 25% this year, which is good for the state economy all the way around.

We were, however, saddened by the sudden closing of our favorite local restaurant last week. Sean & Nora's was visited by almost all of our guests at one time or another during their stays, and we went there quite a bit, too. We were happy that we had managed to go a week or so before the closing, and we are optimistic that something similar will take its place. Still, we will miss the community-mindedness of owners John and Shannon, who freely gave to the Friends of the Library silent auction and many other events.

Meanwhile, Main St. has a new topcoat and looks very spiffy. We - and many others - enjoyed strolling downtown Friday night while the street was still blocked off. Studio Place Arts had an opening, and there was the usual line at the Creamee stand. Summer is off to a pretty good start!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gone quilting!

These summer days are just right for quilting - of course, winter ones are, too! A couple of weeks ago, I quilting a brown, peach and teal throw and now have to tack the binding on the back. Then I'll post a photo. It is hard to find time to quilt anything of size since I need to use the dining room table. Since we are busier than ever at the B&B, it's hard to find a day when we don't have guests.

I signed up for a birthday signature block swap on the Dear Jane Alternate List and have been furiously making "siggies" to mail out. In between, I continue to try to make at least one Dear Jane block a week in the new color scheme - Far Eastern fabrics with a black background.

Above is my most recent finish, a pink and blue tote bag made of upholstery sample scraps. I like the two pockets at the ends - great for water bottles!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Posie tote bag

Here's something I just finished, with much gnashing of teeth since there were problems with the pattern. It's a thank you for Claire, who is stepping down after a number of years as treasurer of the Aldrich Library Friends. It has been a pleasure getting to know her, and I remember with fondness selling popcorn together on the Library lawn last summer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spring and vacation

Since I last wrote, spring has come to our corner of Vermont with a vengeance. We had temperatures in the 70's and lots of sun for several weeks. It was time to get outside, rake detritous from the lawn and gardens, mulch, wash lawn furniture, scrub the house, and all the other things that have accumulated over the long winter. There's still plenty to do outdoors, but things are fairly under control now. Yesterday we planted some rose bushes, a gift from some neighbors, and I need to tend to my shady garden behind the garage soon. This year I have decided to plant only cherry tomatoes in pots and some parsley here and there in the flower beds. I am hoping to depend on LACE (Local Agricultural Community Exchange) for fresh veggies.

During late April, Paul and I took our annual trip to Colorado to visit my parents and sister and to chase spring. Unfortunately, spring wasn't as far along as it usually is there, and it even snowed a little on May 1. But we enjoyed ourselves anyway, especially a three day trip to Mesa Verde National Park where the ancient cliff dwellings are fascinating. We stayed at Far View Lodge in the park which offered beautiful vistas at meals and in the mornings especially. We spent a day in Boulder with my sister Jenny, visited the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and American Mountaineering Museum, and generally relaxed with my parents.

Now that we're home again, we have been busy at the B&B, taking care of guests, serving breakfasts, and cleaning up. So far this year has been our busiest ever, and we have bookings as far out as mid-October already. Paul and I have also been meeting with some local quilt shop owners to begin planning a quilt show for Central Vermont in spring, 2009. We have yet to determine the scope or the date, but it will be an interesting project that can bring some more visitors to Barre.

Hope you all had a happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Totally behind

I have not been keeping up with the 23 things or even my blog, although every week, I mean to do another lesson. The fun of retirement just keeps getting in the way, and now the weather is making it difficult to stay indoors. Even though it's too cool to do much outside, I still find excuses to do so - walking to the post office, taking the garbage out, checking the progress of bulbs, returning library books.

It has been busy here at the B&B, too. I went on a pre-spring cleaning binge, picking a room each day for deep dusting. Paul called it "one woman's war against cobwebs." They certainly have accumulated over the winter. Then Barre had its Jackson Browne weekend and LACE gallery opening, which we helped with. It took about a week to catch our breath, and now we have a bunch more weekend guests.

I have also been madly sewing, perhaps because I know that as the weather improves, I'll do less of it. I am making a small dent in my fabric stash as a result. Today I counted four finished tops of various sizes waiting for quilting. My good sewing machine is being cleaned, but when it comes back, I'll get busy finishing them off. Meanwhile, I have plenty of reading, hand sewing, and even a little yard work to keep me busy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Week 8: catching up

Well, I know I missed catch up week and I am still getting acquainted with FaceBook and MySpace. I haven't opened accounts in either because I am still roaming around the sites. Also, with this blog and a Flickr account, don't I have enough presence on the 'net? I belong to several quilting discussion groups via Yahoo, too. Those groups give me good advice, inspiration, and motivation to finish projects.

One of my biggest frustrations in this technological age is the number of user names and passwords one can accumulate. At first I used the same one all the time. But some companies or organizations want longer or "safer" passwords than others. Now I have resorted to creating a Word file of them all, which defeats the whole idea of "passwords" and makes them accessible only from my home computer. An online password management program would be a great boon to me - does one exist?

Meanwhile, I have read a bunch of mysteries, worked on several quilting projects, traveled to West Virginia to conduct a multi-day planning workshop, recommitted myself to a diet/exercise regime, and took care of quite a few B&B guests in the last few weeks. Life is pretty good!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Week 4: RSS

I have been subscribing to various blogs via Bloglines for several months and find it a very handy way to keep track of developments in the library and readers' advisory world now that I am retired and not entirely in the loop. Someone mentioned an article in Library Journal recently, and I realized how much I miss reading book reviews. I'm going to add a few more book review blogs to my list of subscriptions. If you have a favorite blog, please let me know.

I also subscribe to several quilt-related blogs since I am always looking for new ideas. One quilter even has a separate blog for sharing recipes. One of my favorite blogs is This month there is a "quilt of the day" feature which has been lots of fun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week 3: Flickr and its mashups

I have a bunch of photos of quilts I've made posted for some time, but I only made one "public." If you want to look at it, its URL is It took me several years to make the 93 blocks for this quilt, which I put together during the first two weeks of my retirement. Each block is 4.5" so many of the blocks are quite detailed. I don't know if I will make more of my quilts public, as I am a little uncomfortable having them "out there." It's like a virtual quilt show! I did explore making a calendar, photo album, or other gifts using them but the holidays came and went before I could make up my mind. I am really not a great digital photographer yet.

Still, I enjoyed playing Flickr Sudoku, even though I found the photos a little hard to see. The other mashups were interesting to fool around with, too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Life in the slow lane

Everyone asks how I am liking retirement. Simply put, it is an incredible amount of fun! This morning I watched a steady stream of cars crawl by my house and down the hill to work. I didn't turn on WCAX to see if schools were cancelled or state offices had a delayed opening. I just went back to sewing, thankful that I didn't have to navigate the traffic, worry about the front walk at MRL, or clean off my car in a hurry. I can take my time doing just about anything. I can even read in the middle of the day! I have not worn a watch since January 1.

Week 2: creating a blog

This was easy enough to do but I had trouble signing into Blogger once I left it. Google noted that I needed to make sure I could accept cookies. When I checked my settings, I found cookies enabled but then learned that I had to delete the many cookies I have accepted lately. Guess I will need to go to the gym more often!