Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going around the world

So far we have had about 14" of snow in the last 24 hours, and it's still snowing.  I don't know if I'll be able to get down to the Historical Society tomorrow to volunteer. 

I spent the morning today cutting fat quarters out of the fabric I got for the "Around the World" swap with an online group.  This is modeled after the swap in Jennifer Chiaverini's book Cross Country Quilters.  Each person sends a fat quarter to the others who make blocks representing themselves and send them back.  We have quite a bit of time to do this, but the weather was perfect for cutting the FQs, addressing envelopes, writing notes and including a return mailing label. I will get the international ones (to Canada, the UK, and Australia) to the post office as soon as I fill out the customs forms and the roads clear.

When I get the FQs from the other 19 (so far) people in the swap, I'll be making Dutch[wo]man's Puzzle blocks.  I should be pretty good at making flying geese by the end of the swap!

We did go for a walk in the snow this afternoon, and the snow in the street (which had been plowed once) was up to Max's belly.  He hopped all the way but loved being in the snow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Books for 2012

I didn't read much that was "literature" last year, but I did enjoy what I read immensely.  When I encountered something I didn't like, I set it aside, which I did with a couple of books our book group tackled (e.g., Tall Trees, Tough Men).  I resolved to read more classics, so I spent all of September reading The Grapes of Wrath.  It was great, but loooong.  Here are my favorites, in no particular order:
  • Following Atticus - author Tom Ryan hikes all the peaks 4,000 feet and up with his incredibly sweet and smart miniature Schnauzer.  Very engaging, and the dog doesn't die at the end!
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice - the first book in an involving series by Laurie R. King that features Sherlock Holmes and his "wife," Mary Russell.  I enjoy the World War I setting, and Mary is quite a strong character.  She's 15 in this book which describes how they met and began to work together.  I encountered the series toward the end of the run, but every one is as good as the last, no matter what order I read them in.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Amazingly, scenes from the whole trilogy come back to me now and then, particularly when thinking about the 99% and their chances for improving their lot.  The movie was very true to the book, and I'm looking forward to the next two films.
  • Breakdown - this latest V. I. Warshawski mystery by Sara Paretsky is thought-provoking as always.
  • True Sisters by Sandra Dallas, one of my favorite authors.  This tells the story of a group of Mormons who travelled west with handcarts.  I never knew any of the people on the Westward journey had taken such an arduous way, and this group started out far too late in the season.
  • The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian's latest novel deals with the Armenian diaspora, with all its pain and sorrow.  I loved it, though.
  • Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenheiser - a true account of a year in the life of two Upstate New York society girls who sign up to be teachers in the early 1900's in frontier Colorado.  They rode horses to school in all weather, brought people together from far and wide for community events, and really changed lives, including their own.  I just happened to pick this up in an airport and am really glad I did.
  • The Beautiful Mystery -  Louise Penny's latest Inspector Gamache mystery is amazing for its suspense and a twist on the limited number people in an isolated place plot.  It's literate and thoughtful, my favorite of the year.
I'm looking forward to 2013 for new books by Sue Grafton, Jennifer Chiaverini, Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear, and more.  There's a new biography of Georgette Heyer, my all-time favorite author, coming out in January.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas, 2012

I got up at 5 am today which give me a chance to fill stockings since I don't trust the dog overnight.  It would't be good if he decided to take a nibble of chocolate or some other goodie.  Santa was definitely good to us.

It was fine outside when we got up but by 8 am it was snowing like crazy.  This is the view from our back porch:

Strangely enough, the sun came out at about 11 am, and it was a gorgeous day!  Chris came over after braving the storm, we opened gifts, and then we had brunch - sausages, scrambled eggs, English muffins.  The guys had already dipped into the sticky buns and Chex mix while opening gifts, so after that we were all content.

Chris went home to take a nap, and, after walking Max, we just sat around the read for most of the day.  It was good to talk with family on the phone in between.  A nice quiet Christmas!  Hope yours was, too!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours, best wishes for a wonderful holiday.  We are planning a simple celebration with a close friend tonight and my son tomorrow.  In between I'll be pin basting and then beginning to quilt the last quilt of the year on my trusty Viking Rose.  We're bound to have a White Christmas as almost always in Vermont.  The ski areas had about a foot of snow in the last few days while we only had a little bit.  Great for the economy and the roads!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"A true Vermont day..."

     ...That's what the news blog called yesterday's weather.  When we woke up, it was lightly drizzling freezing rain, but soon it turned to pelting snow.  The kids all got snow-covered waiting for the school bus.  I looked at the thermometer and it was hovering around the freezing point.  The roads were slushy at first, so I decided to sew for a while before going to the grocery store.  By around 10:30 am, I couldn't stand it anymore and headed out.  The roads were a mix of just wet and icy patches, and Hannaford's parking lot was full of sloppy wet stuff.  It was hard to push the carts around, and the snowplow was trying hard to work around the cars.  I was glad to get back home.

     I've been working on a memory quilt, gathering orphan blocks and making them all 12" square to  border a center medallion.  I'm using what I consider "neutrals" (navy, red, black, brown) around them to get them all to fit, and by the time I've attached them, the quilt will be 72" square.  It's fun working with blocks that date back to 2005 and my Dear Jane days.  Memory lane!  Hope to finish today or tomorrow and then start piecing the back.

     Yesterday I was feeling a little overwhelmed by holidays, the tragedy in Connecticut, some endless gloomy days, iffy driving conditions.  So I decided to streamline my life for a change.  I simply said I wasn't going to the three meetings tonight and tomorrow night that popped up with little notice.  And I feel a whole lot less stressed.  Amazing what saying "no" can do for the psyche!  Today I plan to go to the post office with two more packages, then head to the Health Dept. for a TDap shot (Pertussis is on the rise but I really need the Tetanus part), and, if we're lucky, have lunch at the new Cornerstone Restaurant everyone's talking about. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Working on UFOs

The news is so horrific and such a contrast to what this holiday season should be all about.  As therapy, I am buried in fabric and working hard on various UFOs.  The other day I did a little assessment and found I have eight projects going on right now.  That's a few too many, even for me:
  •  I did a couple of Grandmother's Choice blocks a few days ago, and today there's a new weekly block which I'll work on tomorrow.  These are more difficult than they might seem because they're an odd size - 8" finished.   I'm using muslin as a background and scraps of many colors for this one.
  • I made the guild block of the month, a 12" square in a square, with a snowflake in the center.  This is another stashbuster, in blues and greens. 
  • I have yet to do this month's guild "block robin" block, but I did look at Jennine's fabrics and picked out a 9" block to make.
  • Cornucopia of Thanks is a monthly quilt along I've been doing online.  I had ten blocks done and need 16.  Today I made 3 more, way ahead of the group.  But it's one project that I can see an end to, so I hope to work on the last 3 blocks in the coming week.  I have the sashing and cornerstones done, too, so it won't be hard to finish. 
  • There are nine 12" signature blocks from an online group that need to be put together.   Maybe I will leave them until it's time to put together the Around the World swap blocks made with the same group.  They might be a good basis for the back?
  • I'm expecting some Sylvia's Bridal Sampler Christmas swap blocks any day now.  Shall I make a table runner?  I'll have to wait and see how they "play" together.
  • The Calico County challenge fabric is hanging on my design wall for inspiration.  One is a blue/brown print and the other a soft yellow.  I have almost decided to make a basket block with them.  Maybe it will just be a hotpad, since the finished product needs to be no more than 12".  This means a trip to the LQS to get some "Insulbrite."
  • And then there's that pesky L'il Twister block I made last week and a box of disconnected (a/k/a orphan) blocks I was going to put together into a 2012 "memory" quilt.   
Yes, all good projects to keep my mind focused on positive things in life.  My heart goes out to the families touched by tragedy in what should be a time of fun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

CJ's Bento Box

I joined the "strip club" at my local quilt shop this year.  For $10 a month, we get a coordinated set of 2.5" wide strips from new fabric.  Last month's included beiges, blues, and brick reds, some from the "Stonehenge" collection as well as some other designers.  I saw a picture of a pattern called "Bento Box" online and figured at 12" block version out.  Then I put a top together last weekend and quilted it early this week.  I think it will be a perfect thank you for my Dad's caregiver, CJ, who is so willing to do anything we ask.  Hope he likes it!

Secret Santa ornaments

An online group has a Secret Santa swap each year.  This year, I happened to get Terry's name and sent her a table runner made with my Lil Twister tool as well as a little quilted star ornament.  I forgot to get a photo of the table runner, so I hope she does.  It's still wrapped up, under her tree. 

Just by chance, Terry got my name, and sent me these lovely ornaments she made.

I'll put them on the tree when we finally get it up, but until then, the two wool ones are hanging in the kitchen window over the sink so I can admire them whenever I'm there. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Susan's quilt

It's finally done!  It will be winging its way, along with several other quilts, to the Netherlands next weekend with Tracy.  Susan and her sisters will pick it up from Tracy's sister sometime during the holidays.

Susan told me her favorite color is blue, and I just happened to be making a blue and white sampler.  Some of the blocks were made by members of the Heart of Vermont guild, as part of the "square robin" we did.  The appliqued rectangle was a sample I made for a basic applique class I taught last year.  There are a few pieces using Dutch tile fabric here and there, including the "kissing couple."  I love it - hope she does, too!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

L'il Twister

This summer, I hosted a swap of floral charm squares (5" squares) for an online group.  It was tough to swap them out because many people sent quite a few squares to swap.  Each set of five was in a slippery baggie.  Only two duplicates in the whole bunch, though, so everyone got a good variety.  Since then, the charms have been in a box waiting to be used, so last weekend I got a few out and used my "L'il Twister" tool to make this piece.  I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it but I do have a few ideas.  First, I have to finish sewing the binding down on Susan's blue and white quilt, and then I'm going to quilt CJ's Bento Box throw.  As I'm working on these, I'll be thinking!

It's been a busy week, but luckily next week will be a little less frenetic.  In the past week, I attended meetings of the town recreation committee, the Central Vermont Quilt Show committee, and the board of the Vermont Institute for Government, a musical program for seniors at the library, and the Christmas farmer's market, along with helping at the Vermont Historical Society.  In between, I did some Christmas shopping and wrapping.  Phew!  This afternoon I'll be at the Calico County Quilters meeting - fun!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Around the World swap

With an international online group, I'm going to be doing something Jennifer Chiaverini mentioned in her Cross Country Quilters book.  Each person chooses a particular fabric and mails a fat quarter to each other person participating in the swap.  Those people use the fabric to make blocks representing them.  Yesterday, I bought many yards of a lovely yellow fabric with colorful butterflies.  It's all washed and ready to be cut into fat quarters eventually.  I hope five yards was enough, but if not, I will send out some coordinating brights.

I chose to make the traditional Dutchman's Puzzle block for each person in the Around the World swap.
I'm calling it Dutchwoman's Puzzle, of course. This sample block is blue and green because I am making blue/green blocks each month for the Heart of Vermont guild's "block of the month."  I also packed up some blue/green fabrics for the guild's "square robin" this year.  That should all result in a very pretty quilt by the end of the school year.

Yesterday, I started a little quilt with my L'il Twister tool.  It involves sewing squares together and then cutting them all apart and sewing them together again in order.  I'm using my design wall quite a bit, and this last process is somewhat slow.  No pictures yet!

Today we're off to Burlington meet Bob and Pauline at the Fleming Museum at UVM.  They have a special John Singer Sargent exhibit which ends this weekend.  Lunch at the India House, we hope.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Karen's autograph quilt

I put the last stitches in the binding of the autograph quilt I've been making for Karen since early summer.  It was sunny this afternoon so we took some pictures before I wrap it up.  We'll give it to her for her birthday which we'll celebrate at a library staff appreciation dinner Friday night.
It started out as a memento of the library's weekly Authors at Aldrich programs during the summer, and I have signatures from almost all of the authors who spoke this summer, including Jeff Danziger (noted editorial cartoonist), Jack DuBrul (coauthor with Clive Cussler), and Chris Tebbets (coauthor with James Patterson).  I don't know if Karen noticed me asking the authors for their autographs.  She was certainly in the room a few times.  Then I got autographs from the staff and trustees while she was on vacation, and I managed to get most of the Friends of the Library, too, during the summer. 
The block is called "Ribbon Star" on, and I liked it as a variation of "Friendship Star."  In the borders, I quilted her name, the date, and our town, along with the words Dear Friend, Beloved Librarian.  I used a variety of fabrics, including some Asian prints, Civil War repros, and favorites from past quilts.   Some people signed their names, and others wrote some very touching tributes.  My favorite was from Cary who wrote Thank you, for being YOU.  That's how we feel about this very special person who Mark called Our most important citizen!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bento Box

I joined the "Strip Club" at A Quilter's Garden this year and received my first batch of strips for $10 around the first of the month.  There are about 2 yards of fabric in each batch, so it's a good deal, and someone has done all the cutting besides.   They're much more coordinated than I expected which is great.

After moving the strips around and sorting by color, I decided to try a Bento Box pattern with them.  Here's the first 12" block:
It's really easy which is good for this stressful time of year.  I have enough to make 12 blocks with a few singles for a border or two, which should make a nice little quilt.  Should be a nice practice piece for some free motion quilting... if I'm brave enough.  :-)

A Quick Gift

The day before Thanksgiving, I made up this little evening bag for my Mom for Christmas.  A few years ago, I made her one for summer with an old hankie and some cream fabrics.  Someone gave her a lovely Belgian linen hankie for her 90th birthday, so she requested a black bag for winter evenings.  Yes, she still goes out of an evening!  To the symphony gala, opera benefits, etc.  So for this "runaround" gal, I made another Lazy Girl Run Around Bag. 

It's hard to see from the picture, but I used a variety of black-on-black fabrics, including a Fairy Frost.  I had been concerned about the high contrast between black and white, but the F.F. helped with that since it has a sheen of its own.  The lining features a whimsical black and white fabric.  I handstitched the hanky on before putting the pieces together.  This is an easy pattern and I ought to make a few more.   I have lots of hankies left in my stash from Jay's late mother's collection.  A satisfying project for an afternoon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I tried to get out of cooking tomorrow, really.  I called all sorts of restaurants in the area, but only one is open and it's always booked solid.  So we are having the next best thing - pot luck, more or less.  Rob is coming from New Jersey, and Sandy and Cindy are coming from Montpelier with vegetables and pie.  The rest of the menu will include a boneless turkey which is currently thawing in the refrig., potatoes au gratin, zucchini bread (also defrosting), and a roasted squash with craisins and ginger.  I got some vanilla frozen yogurt and whipped cream to go with the pie, and of course some extras like black olives and cranberry sauce.  Easy peasy.  I have some turkey gravy and biscuits-in-a-can for Friday's leftovers. 

I am truly thankful to be healthy and happy, engaged in life in many ways, and with good friends and a loving family.  If I had to make a quilt block to put into the Cornucopia of Thanks this year, it would surely be "peace and plenty."   May your holiday be full of fun and surprises!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blocks of the Month

I finished quilting Karen's quilt and sewed the binding onto the front.  Hooray!  I can hand stitch the binding down while Jacqueline is here, if we're sitting in the living room just chatting.  She won't be here long, but then there's also the Thanksgiving holiday in case I don't get to it.  The party will be on the 30th so there is plenty of time.  I'll take a picture once it's done.

Before Jacqueline arrives, I need to clean my sewing room, but first I thought I'd catch up on various blocks of the month and week.  On Saturdays, I print out and try to start "Grandmother's Choice," Barbara Brackman's weekly blocks and stories about the women's suffrage movement.  I ended up doing this week's, Little Red Schoolhouse, today because of yesterday's state guild meeting.  But it's done.  These can be difficult because they are 8.5" unfinished, which can make for some interesting math when it's a nine-grid block.

Next, I did the Block Lotto block in black, white, and bright pink this month.  The winner takes all, and so far I haven't won even though I did three blocks last month in an attempt to win.  We can do up to four.  If I have some time later in the month, I'll try to do another.  It should make a great quilt.

Finally today, I made "Swamp Patch," this month's Cornucopia of Thanks block.  I noticed last month when I laid out all the blocks I'd made so far, that I really needed a few more green ones.  Hence, the lime green and bright pink (nearly red).  There are only three more blocks to make and then we put them all together.  Can't wait.   I do like the pace of blocks of the month except that I sometimes forget what fabric I used when I'm making a sampler.  For the guild block of the month (12" finished size) I'm using green and blue, and I'm using the same color scheme for the guild square robin in 6" (finished size) blocks.  I plan to make some 3" and 9" blocks to go with those later this winter, too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Sunny Election Day

Yesterday we had a snow squall in the morning.  Everyone groaned, but I noticed the city paving a street in the [brief] blizzard anyway.  It was windy and gloomy all day which made it seem even colder.  I went to WalMart and bought a head band so my ears stay warm when out walking.  I look dorky, but what the heck!  The snow melted almost as soon as it fell, but I resolved to shop for some pants warmer than jeans soon.

Today it's sunny which makes everything nicer, and the parking lot at the school was packed when we went to vote.  After nearly four years in the town (as opposed to the city), I am finally feeling a part of things as I know many of the people helping out at the polls.  I will be really happy when tomorrow comes, just so we won't have all those awful ads on TV and so our landscape will no longer be littered with signs.  Of course, I won't be happy if the "right" people don't win.

This afternoon I plan to attach the third and last section of the autograph quilt to the rest.  That's a little intense since parts already quilted need to match up well.  I sew the top sections together, cut the batting so I can use batting tape to put it together, and then sew the back seam by hand over the whole thing.  Then I quilt the parts that haven't been quilted yet.   I doubt if I'll finish this process by the end of the day, but after this is all done, I'll be able to add and quilt the side borders.  Hope to be done with all of this by Friday so I can attach a binding.

In between, I've been reading Jennifer Chiaverini's The Giving Quilt which I'm enjoying pretty much.  While I've never really enjoyed short stories, that's what many of her books are even though they are embedded in a common scenario.  In this case, the Elm Creek Quilters are holding a special retreat, and the book focuses on several of the campers.  The first few stories were interesting, but Chiaverini spends entirely too much time on one about a widowed teacher.  I skimmed a bit to get past it, and am looking forward to the final story.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prepping for "Sandy"

The WCAX-TV weatherman says he has never seen such an odd pattern of isobars over New York City, and he is not one to get really excited.  When all the other weathermen are yelling away over just a few inches of snow, this broadcaster is usually calm and reassuring.  So it sounds like we're in for a wild time inthe next few days.  I went grocery shopping early today, as I usually do on Sunday mornings.  Today the usually quiet store was teeming with shoppers at 7:30 am.  The high wind warnings don't start until 2 pm tomorrow!  Still, everyone was stocking up.

When I got home, we took in the nearly dead mums in pots (which needed to be disposed of anyway) and then got everything off the back porch.  That includes the big wooden rockers which are now crowding the living room.  If they got blown around, they would certainly go through the glass doors.  We also laid down a large slab of granite Chris brought over for next year's new grill.  I think everything in our yard is now buttoned down.  On the news they suggested that people bring in political lawn signs which might add to the general debris expected.  So much for our esteemed candidates!

Then I settled in to finish some borders for Karen's quilt which are quite "fiddly" lines of 3" Friendship Stars.  I have the top and bottom ones on, but the ones on the side will be added after I quilt the three sections and put them together.  This afternoon I sandwiched the sections and started to quilt.  It's going to be mostly stitched in the ditch, but I want to quilt some thoughts into the borders - her name, our town, 2012, and "with love, respect and thanks."  I'll use Golden Threads quilting paper for that part.  I've been worried that I won't have enough backing fabric left over for the binding, but it looks like I figured it out just right.  What a relief!

If the power goes out tomorrow, I will switch to handwork or read with my clip on LED light, depending on the time of day.  It's going to be in the 60's so we won't freeze, thank goodness.   And besides, we have plenty of quilts.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A plethora of Swiss Chard

Yesterday was a lovely day - in the 60's and sunny.  What an unusual occurence!  Tuesday I heard that out of the last 12 days, 11 were rainy.  I was up early to plant some daffodils and rake up pine needles to mulch the blueberries.  Then I went down to the community gardens and picked two huge bags of Swiss Chard.  I pulled everything out, spaded the bed, and raked it smooth.  Then I called Pat to see if she wanted some chard and delivered that later in the day.  I was still left with a bag and a half.  It's rainy again today, just right for a nice, thick soup made in our stove to table earthenware pot.  And here's the recipe:

Rainy Day Chard Soup  (serves 3)
    Chop one onion and saute in about 1 T. olive oil
    Peel and dice two medium-sized potatoes and add to the pot with 2 cups of broth.  I used vegetable, but chicken would be fine.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft.
    Add as much chopped Swiss Chard as the pot will hold, cover and cook until wilted.  Add more broth if needed (I used about 3 c. all together).  Season with some chopped parsley, pepper, and marjoram (maybe 1 t.).  Cook 15-20 minutes to blend flavors.
    Use an immersion blender to make it smooth, and add about 1/2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese.  Stir until cheese melts, and serve.

Now I still have another bag of chard - quiche tomorrow or Sunday?

Monday, October 15, 2012

My English Garden

It's another sunny day, perfect for taking pictures.  Here's the "one block wonder" I just finished.
At first, I thought it looked like end papers, but as it came together it began to have a garden quality to it.  The fabric I used for the back has landmarks of England - Stonehenge, Parliament, Shakespeare's cottage.  Hence, the name.  I'll be putting it up on my etsy site, Cobble Hill Quilts, shortly.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Raspberry Sherbet

I have been collecting selvages for ages.  One year, I sent a batch to Karen, but the next year, I used them for the backs of mug rugs I made for my family and friends for Christmas.  I just cut 1.5" from the printed side of the selvage of everything I cut and throw it into a bag that hangs on the doorknob of my sewing room. 
 Last week, the bag was overflowing, so I started putting them together.  I add a thin strip at one end and topstitch them lengthwise, ending up with 6" blocks.  A few of the blocks were a little smaller, so when I made the sashing (which I had in my stash) I adjusted it to fit so I ended up with 10" blocks.  I purposely didn't arrange the writing all in the same direction so that there's no real top or bottom to the quilt.  After adding a little border, it ended up about 57" square.  I quilted it in an up and down grid, simply, and even sewed the binding down by machine.   Easy - and it really feels good to use stash!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cornucopia of Thanks

This month's block in the quilt along is Cornucopia.  It wasn't too hard but did have a lot of "y" seams.  I think I have nine blocks finished and most, if not all, of the sashing and cornerstones.  There are three more blocks to go and then I'll be putting it together.  I'm really liking the slower pace but also can't wait to see the finished product.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall foliage

Yes, even the "natives" and "adoptees" become leaf peepers at this time of year.  After days and days of drizzle, we finally had a break in the clouds yesterday afternoon.  So we hopped in the car and spent a little time on the road.  As you can see, fall foliage has already peaked, but it's pretty anyway.  Today it's raining again, so I'm glad we got out when we did!

When we owned the B&B, we rarely had time to do any leaf peeping because we were so busy taking care of guests.  This weekend in particular, Norwich University's Parents' Weekend, was really busy.  But for about a month, every room was full every night, and there were times when each room turned over every night.  Sometimes we were lucky enough to get a breather and go out for lunch.  Other times we just kept our noses to the grindstone until mid-October when there was a slight let up.

We did have some very nice guests who came for fall foliage, though.  We'll never forget the couple from Tasmania, the California magician and his wife (was she transgendered?), and several sets of NU parents who came year after year.  But it is nice to be "civilians," especially at this lovely time of year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

An autograph quilt

I've been working on a quilt for Karen, our beloved librarian, all summer long.  Every Wednesday night in the summer, our library has an author program, right after the Farmer's Market and right before concerts in the park.  Over the years, we've had a mix of big names, including Captain Richard Phillips, and locals..  About 50 people come each Wed. night, which is quite a good audience for our town.  S/he talks about a book or about writing in general and also sometimes reads.  

This year, I asked each author to sign a 3.5" muslin square, and I managed to get nine autographs, including political cartoonist Jeff Danziger, Clive Cussler's co-author Jack DuBrul, and James Patterson's co-author Chris Tebbets.  Each was happy to autograph a square and said how nice it was that I was making the quilt.  I have also gotten members of the Friends of the Library, the staff, and the board of trustees to sign blocks.  I have a few more to collect before I can put the quilt together.

I chose this block, Ribbon Star, because it would make a scrappy quilt.  Above is the block without an autograph in the center of the star.   Active in our local historical society and with a degree in folklore, Karen always admires the quilts we've raffled off in support of the library.  A quilt with an old fashioned look seems good for her.  Some of the scraps are Civil War and '30's repros, but others are Asian or batik.   The blocks aren't hard to make but do take some time.  I have made blocks in spurts throughout the summer, and now I'm auditioning fabrics for the sashing.  I have a beige print and a blue print spread out on the bed in my sewing room.  I laid some blocks on each and added cornerstones.   I will leave them there for a few days and see which looks best to me.  Today it's gloomy so the blue looks dull.   I'm hoping for some sun tomorrow for a different look.

I plan to do the quilting myself, in sections, and to present the quilt to Karen for her birthday.  And here comes another decision - what sort of event?  When I told the Friends early this summer that I wanted to do this and needed a deadline, someone said Karen's birthday is in late November.  That seemed really far off at the time, but now it's not.  A special birthday party is in order, so I'll be conferring with them and the staff to figure out just when. 

My favorite autograph came from Cary, a man who used the library as an "office" while he started up his business:  Thank you for being you!  That's just how I feel, too.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Salsa Beef

I discovered a new, easy stew recipe in Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine.  My brother gave me a subscription last year for Christmas and renewed in 2012.  I have tried quite a few things, but many of the recipes just rely on small portion sizes to reduce the number of calories one takes in.  This stew is low-fat and even better the next day.  Some carrots might be a good addition although it's fine as is with a salad on the side.

Combine in crock pot:

            1.5 lbs. beef round stew meat, cut in cubes

            2 c. salsa (mild)

            1 T. brown sugar

            1 T. soy sauce

            1 garlic clove, minced

 Cook 8-10 hrs. on low.  Serve over rice!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Etsy shop

I took a baby step into selling the other day.  After several months of consideration and some advice from Samantha, I opened an Etsy shop.  I agonized the most about a name and finally settled on "Cobble Hill Quilts," since that's where I live and I like alliteration. 

I posted two quilts for sale:  last year's throw-sized guild mystery quilt, and last year's guild challenge quilt which is baby-sized.   This is the front of the challenge quilt.  The back used the challenge fabric in a modified Blooming Nine Patch with brighter colors.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

A little of this and that

It was fun to go to quilt guild Tuesday night and see people I haven't seen since June.  Show and tell was terrific - people were certainly busy this summer.  I showed my "Drunken Row Robin," which I made using the rows I received last June.

We sat in "teams" to plan next year's programs, and since I'm on the November team, we really have to get our act together soon.  Each team is to come up with a block of the month; we are going to do something for the holidays that highlights fusible applique which will be our program.  Each of us is to create a block to audition for next time. 

The following morning, I made a snowball block with a "poufy" tree appliqued on it.  I'm not sure the tree is beginner friendly, so I'm going to see if I can create am easier,  more triangular one before our October meeting. 

Wednesday I also got fabric together for the "Block Robin" we have been doing for the past three years, and this time I chose blues and greens which I'll also use for the blocks of the month.  That way, I can combine the blocks for a larger quilt.   I also made this month's block and finished off the guild logo block to go into the quilt.  I feel caught up, just a little.

Wednesday we also went down to Woodstock to the Billings Farm quilt show, a smaller show by area quilters.  It was nice to see contemporary designs mixed in with traditional, and there was some lovely quilting, too.  The leaves are just beginning to turn, promising a beautiful fall.  Because bad weather always catches me unaware, I decided to go to the shoe store yesterday and buy some rubber shoes.  I had tried some "Bogs" last year, but they didn't have my size, and, sadly, they didn't again this time.  I would really rather buy locally, but online it would have to be.  And they have just arrived via UPS.  Amazing!  These have great tread and will be great for running around in wet weather.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yard sale today

Our neighborhood yard sale was yesterday and today, but I only sold stuff today.  Fridays I volunteer at the historical society, and I didn't have that much to sell.  I set out some quilts on a rack, knowing that they wouldn't sell, but they offered some attractive color.  I did sell a whole lot of potholders made with orphan blocks - bet I had 20 made up, and I only have 4 left (did give a few to Chris for helping me).  I had one larger 12" hotpad that sold, but the other two didn't.

It is amazing what some people buy - a Ben & Jerry's t-shirt, an old pink bathroom rug, an old laptop computer, an iPod without a power cord, a cheap plastic picture frame, some old jewelry, an alabaster owl.  They did not buy empty instrument cases, several yards of fabric, a ukulele (although many looked), an antique gypsy wagon, some nice oil lamps, and a Richard Scarry book.  And they didn't want old curtain rods or skis, no matter how free.  During slow times, we cleaned the garage which really needed it.

Yesterday, it was 80 degrees and sunny, but unfortunately today it was 60 and cloudy.  My neighbors all seemed pleased with their sales, and we had a good time buying from each other.   I only bought a lovely blue and white flower pot, and Chris bought a hockey stick.  He was looking for a coffee maker, so when we couldn't find one, I gave him our backup from the basement.  I was saving it "just in case."  Hmmm - what else do I have down there that could have gone?  At any rate, I've got only two boxes of leftovers to take to goodwill on Monday, and we are having pizza for dinner tonight with some of my earnings.  I'll sleep well, having spent the whole day outside, chatting people up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you on Sept. 11?

Eleven years ago, on a sunny Tuesday very much like today, I was sitting in a public library statistics steering committee meeting with some of my colleagues from other states and some "feds."  We were at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase, right over the DC line, in what we natives used to call "Friendship Heights."  Someone came in around 9 am to let us know that a plane had just hit one of the World Trade Towers in New York.  By the time we had caught our breaths, planes had hit the other tower and the Pentagon, and all of the federal workers were heading home.  Washington seemed under attack, they said, and the DC Metro was shut down.

We librarians huddled together in one room, watching TV most of the day.  All of the stores and most of the restaurants nearby closed, including the grocery store, and the streets were deserted.  We tried to call home with little success, since the phone lines were jammed all over the country with people calling each other.  I finally got through to Paul and then to Chris to let them know I was OK.  Then came the arduous task of trying to get home.  All flights in and out of DC were cancelled, and there were no rental cars to be had.  The hotel was extremely helpful, despite being short-staffed, and we found a restaurant around the corner open for dinner.   Stores reopened Thursday, but the atmosphere was somber.

The following day, we gathered again and, despite the lack of federal employees, got back down to business.  We were stuck anyway, so we might as well get some work done.  Some of the "feds" did call to check on us.  But most people in the DC area, we noticed, were sticking close to family and home.  One by one, we found transportation back to our states, and I ended up taking the train home on Friday, a 14 hour ride due to a tense delay outside New York City.  We became family that week, and while I would much rather have been home with Paul and Chris, I can't think of a better group of people to go through such an unsettling time with:  Keith, Carolyn, JD, Libby, Mary Jo, Suzanne, Darla. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grandmother's Choice

Starting Sept. 1, Barbara Brackman has been offering a block of the week relating to the Women's Suffrage movement around the world.  She usually includes some interesting historical information along with an 8" block pattern.  I enjoyed the Civil War block of the week tremendously and used it to make two sampler quilts in 2011.  For this project, I wasn't quite sure what colorway to use, so I didn't start last week.  But yesterday I decided just to take the plunge with any fabric that I really like along with a muslin/off white background.  Here's the first week's block, called "Grandmother's Choice":
I love this sunny yellow!  According to Brackman, America's primary suffrage color was gold, often contrasted with black or dark violetThe next block, "Amethyst" represents the British movement which adopted green, purple, and white as its colors.  So I'll be digging through my stash for just the right combination.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Guild block

Last June, anyone in the Heart of Vermont guild was invited to create a 10" quilt block that would be used as the logo for the guild.  Only two people entered four designs, but mine won!  It was a takeoff on the traditional Moon over the Mountains block.  I wanted something that could be machine or hand-stitched and that a beginner might be able to do.  It can also be embellished.

Over the summer, Geri and I spent a little time creating instructions, and she scanned it for use on the guild nametags this year.  I tried following the instructions to make the block in a different colorway, and I like it!
It's a little hard to see that I used three different black and white prints, and I buttonhole stitched around all the pieces.  Before our Sept. meeting, I'll make copies for people to pick up on the membership table.  We're going to have a block of the month this year, so this can be an "extra" for everyone.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cornucopia of Thanks for September

I've been making Jennifer Chiaverini's Cornucopia of Thanks quilt as a Block of the Month in an online group.  This month's block was "Best Friends," to signify the quilting friends her characters get together with on the day after Thanksgiving.  Each quilter makes a block of gratitude to put into a cornucopia on the potluck table in her book The Quilters' Holiday

My quilt is going to be quite bright, with hot pink, green/lime, purple, turquoise, and yellow.  The sashing in this quilt is what really makes it outstanding, and I love the dotted fabric I'm using for it.  I'm chipping away at the borders as I go along so I won't have to make them all at the end.  This quilt is going to be queen-sized with 12" blocks and 6" sashing.  The original has only 9 12" blocks, but I've made three more to make it bigger.  Thanks to Yankee Pride Quilts, I have another two yards of the yellow for borders. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Where've I been?

It's been a busy, intense time since I last wrote.  I was in Colorado for a week while my mom had shoulder replacement surgery.  Besides caring for her after her 3 nights in the hospital, I also cared for my dad who has Parkinson's Disease and has home caregivers part of each day.  His PD is fairly advanced, but he is quite determined to be independent.  Sometimes that works and other times, it is a detriment since he gets himself into some "situations."  I had to call 9-1-1 one afternoon when he tried to get out of an easy chair to his wheelchair by using his walker and ended up on the floor.  The firemen were cheery and told him the Broncos game was about to start, so they would get him settled to watch.  Most of the other near misses, I was able to pick him up, though it was exhausting.   I was in high gear from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm each day and was pretty glad to be back in Vermont, if only to get a solid night's sleep.

Paul had a hard time without me partly because our dog Max wasn't feeling well - tummy troubles.  We took him to the vet nearly every day and spoke to him when he wasn't in the office.  I've made Max a "bland diet" (chicken and rice) for several days.  Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't.  Now he's taking Pepsid A-C, old geezer that he is (almost 15)!

In Colorado, I read quite a few light mysteries, and when I got home Louise Penny's latest arrived and I dove right in.  The Beautiful Mystery is set in a monastery in a remote part of Quebec, and it's the classic situation with a set number of characters, one of whom must be the murderer.  The pace is a little slow but that just makes the suspense build.  Penny has outdone herself again.

I also visited the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, a few miles from my parents' home, but I wasn't thrilled with the exhibit as I sometimes am.  There were some political quilts which I enjoyed, and then some very geometric ones.  I noticed that Sandra Dallas will be there for a booksigning in October.  What a good speaker she is!

On the quilting front, I'm working on Cornucopia of Thanks, from Jennifer Chiaverini's latest quilt pattern book.  I'm doing a block a month with an online group and finished this month's "Best Friends" block.  Now I'm working on the sashing which is the distinctive part of this quilt.  I was afraid I'd run out of one fabric, so I called the shop where I bought it, and they sent me more the very next day! 

Our weather has been beautiful, Max appears to be better today, and Chris built me a lovely little table with a Vermont verde (green stone) top.  Life is looking up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Block lotto

Yesterday, I took a drive down to Waitsfield to Mad River Quilting to deliver the blue and white and lime and black quilts for longarming.  It is always a lovely drive, and now that scrub and grasses have grown up along the river, you can hardly see the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Irene last year.  Let's hope this Labor Day weekend doesn't include another "event."  People are still recovering in so many ways. 

I picked out some black on white fabric for the back of the lime quilt.  I love the selection of fabric in Lisa's shop and wish she were a little closer.  I don't expect the quilts back until early November when I'll see her at the state quilt guild meeting.  We talked about the room set up for the meeting, too, since I'll be handling that and she handles the vendors.

When I got home, I took stock of projects in "the hopper" and finished a block for an online "block lotto."  This month's block has a bright green accent to its mainly black and white colorway:
We can make up to four blocks, and the names of participants are put in a hat.  The winner takes all.  I had a hard time coming up with my bright green accent fabric after making that lime and black quilt.  There were mostly strings left.  But I did manage to find this.  Next month's block has yellow accents and I hope to make a few more blocks since the more one makes, the more chances to win the whole shebang. 

I also made six Sylvia's Bridal Sampler "Wedding Ring 2" blocks for a Christmas novelty swap.  The blocks aren't due until November 30, but I like to keep on top of things.  I also have "Orange Peel" blocks prepared for the swap, and will take them to Colorado when Mom has her shoulder replacement surgery.

Some whim caused me to open the pizza box with my black/white/red row robin strips, and I decided to use them to border something.  I started cutting out 4" "Drunkard's Path" blocks, and made a bunch in black and white fairly quickly using my "Curve Master Foot."  It's fun to arrange them on the wall, so that's what I'll be doing today!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Black and lime ready for quilting!

American Patchwork and Quilting magazine called this Marti Michell pattern"Summer Bliss," but with my lime and black colorway, I am at a loss for a name.  I have plenty of time to think of one, though, since I'll be taking it to a long arm quilter along with another quilt.  I don't expect to see it until November when I'll see Lisa at the Green Mountain Quilters Guild meeting.  I am pleased with the way it turned out although I hardly have any scraps of lime left.  The 12 blocks were 20" each, so it measures 79" x 99" or thereabouts. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple Graces

Yesterday our humidity broke long enough for me to finish handsewing the binding down on a quilt I've been working on for a while.  It's from Kim Diehl's book Simple Graces, although the border is based on a Barn Raising quilt in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society.  I quilted the center and then added the border before finishing the quilting.  It was a lot of maneuver but I'm happy with the result.

The background is a variety of shirting which I love to use for applique.  I won't be making any log cabin blocks with 1/2" blocks for a while, though!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lime and black queen-sized quilt

slideshow image
It's been a rather intense week since I've been working on a quilt.  I don't usually follow patterns but this quilt, "Summer Bliss," designed by Marti Michell and featured in American Patchwork and Quilting magazine last month, caught my eye.   The magazine called it "easy, breezy," and I was looking for something rather quick that would use lime and black fabrics I've been accumulating for a while.  So picture this in those striking colors. 

The blocks are big - 20" - and there are just 12.  The star blocks alternate with the square in a square ones.  I started it last Saturday and hope to finish it today.  I ran out of one crucial fabric, so I called the store where I bought it about six months ago, and they popped it into the mail.  It came the next day!  Stay tuned for real photos...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cornucopia of Thanks - month 3

I've been working on a block of the month with an online group.  Our aim is to finish Cornucopia of Thanks from Jennifer Chiaverini's new quilt book Traditions from Elm Creek.  So far, the blocks have been mighty difficult, so I hope next month's is easy.  Yesterday, amid the heat and humidity, I slaved over "Prosperity."
The "Y" seams were tough and I almost wished I had done them by hand.  But it turned out pretty good.  The colors don't show well here - the "red" is really a lipstick hot pink.

I am planning to make this a queen-sized quilt, so I made a few more blocks over the last few weeks.  Two came from various issues of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.  It's going to be colorful!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Birthday fun

I signed up for a birthday fat quarter swap this year.  All month long, squishy envelopes of all shapes and sizes have appeared, and have been piling up.  It's been hard waiting.  Today I got to open them all - aren't they amazing?!?  These should make a luscious quilt full of nice memories.

So far, it has been a great day!  I went to Montpelier for breakfast with Cindy, Sandy and Polly at the new Clean Slate Cafe.  It's in the old building where the old Thrush Tavern was, next door to my old office.  They had the best burgers in town but closed some years ago.  This Clean Slate has a nice, small menu, and the memorable (to many) bar and tiny bathroom are still there. 

Afterwards, Paul and I drove over to the Burlington area to leave something at Merrill's Auction Barn and stopped at Sew Many Treasures on the way home.  I couldn't find anything that grabbed me, but I hope to see some things tomorrow at A Quilter's Garden.  I have a gift certificate and I get a discount half my age!

My parents called after we got home, and then I took a nap before tackling all the squishies.  Tonight we're heading back to Montpelier for dinner with Chris at J. Morgan's.  Couldn't ask for a more relaxed day!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mid-summer busy

We have been running around most of the past week, and finally there is time to sit down and reflect. Barre's annual Heritage Days Festival  kept most residents hopping.  Wednesday night Paul was the author of the week at the library.  I ran the powerpoint, and 80 people came, including several good friends, family, and neighbors.  He did a great job, despite the jitters all day long.

Thursday morning we put up the tents and tables for the Friends of the Library's summer booksale.  Ugh!  There was a soft but persistent rain the whole time, and a few people we count on were laid up for one reason or another.  Thursday night was a reception at the Vermont Historical Society for the opening of two new exhibits.  It was quite crowded, which was great, but I will have to go back soon to spend more time looking.  One fun thing was bumping into a former guest who was in town for his class reunion.  It's always nice to catch up with those people we became fond of, and I was happy to see his sister Saturday.  In fact, running into people we haven't seen for a while is one of the best things about this hectic weekend, which seems to be stretching to a Wed.-Sun. event.

Friday morning, I was down early helping with the start of the booksale, and I returned at noon for the afternoon.   Business was steady throughout the day and Saturday, and we did quite well despite being short-handed.  Friday night we indulged in the ethnic food tent and listened to the Starline Rhythm Boys in the park before heading home to rest up for Saturday.  After I set up the Democrats' table, where we registered voters and handed out various local candidates' literature, I went back to the booksale until it ended at 2 pm.  Lunch in the park was super - samosas and iced coffee.  Then I went back to the Dems' table which was right along the parade route.  What a good seat!  And, despite looking threatening for both days, the downpour held off until the parade ended.  We decided it was a good time to pack up the table and head for home a little early.  Around dinner time, people aren't inclined to think about politics anyway - they just want to enjoy the food and music, which they apparently did after the rain stopped.

This morning, the last day of Heritage Days featured a bike race, which we watched a little of, and in the afternoon, a newly renovated library branch near our house opened with a little celebration.   Tomorrow we'll be back to "normal," thank goodness!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happiness is a new roll of sticky painter's tape

Last week, it was so hot and humid that I went to the [airconditioned] library for some frothy mysteries - and finished them in less than a week.  They included Buried in Buttercream and The Body in the Boudoir, definitely lightweight but great for hot days.  It cooled down Wednesday night, and we've had nearly perfect conditions ever since - sunny, moderately warm, low humidity. 

I froze some vegetables from the garden and actually cooked a few hot meals for dinner.  The vegetable lasagna had chard, a small summer squash, green beans, and a few late peas from the garden.  And this morning I made the first two zucchini breads of the summer.  Some sweet little girls came by yesterday pulling a wagon full of just-picked blueberries and raspberries, so those went into the freezer, too.

Thoughout these days, I've been working steadily on the medallion quilt.  I finished outlining all of the flowers, leaves, and stems in the center and did a little decorative stitching with rayon thread to add texture to the applique.  Then I sewed and attached the 16" log cabin borders, along with more batting and backing.  That was a tough job, but it worked out OK.  And now I'm quilting a grid all the way around and into the medallion.  The quilt is quite heavy now with all its seams since the "logs" are only 1/2" finished. 

This part of the quilting has not been without difficulties though.  It wasn't until the second day that I realized I had forgotten to put the walking foot on and a larger size needle in the sewing machine.  Now it's sewing more smoothly.  Then, I was having a terrible time keeping the painter's tape down on the top, and had to keep pinning it so it wouldn't move as I worked with it.  I was so frustrated that I finally went down to the hardware store for a new roll.  I bought Scotch painter's tape this time instead of "Duck" brand, and what a difference.  It actually sticks as I move the quilt around.  At the rate I'm going, I think it will be another week before I'm done, but it's looking good so far.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ready to quilt

Yesterday and this morning, I worked steadily on the many little circles on the 40" center medallion that I've been working on sporadically for a year.   It's from a pattern called Bittersweet Briar by Kim Diehl.  The background is shirting, which I love working with. 

Now I'm sandwiching this section and will begin quilting by machine later today.  I'm going to take it easy partly because it's hot and partly because I want to put quite a bit of quilting into it.  I have the log cabin blocks all made for a border, and then who knows?   It will be 64 inches square by then, so I may add a thin green border and call it finished.  Or...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Block lotto

The other day I made a couple of 12" blocks for a "block lotto" game I'm doing with an online group.  Each of us makes up to four specific blocks and, at the end of the month, we hold a drawing.  Whoever wins gets all the blocks we made.  This month, I made two which were fairly easy.

I still have a bag of rows in black, white and red from this year's guild row robin, so if I win, I'll combine them.  If I don't win (the drawing is August 1), I will work on some Drunkard's Path blocks as initially planned.  I have plenty to keep me busy until then. 

For one thing, I am hostessing a charm square swap with some online friends with an August 1 deadline.  Each person cut as many sets of 5" floral squares as she wanted.  Most people sent between 20 and 35 sets, so that's a lot of charm squares in baggies to handle.  The baggies are slippery and the squares stick together.  But the squares are awfully cute, and I can't wait for them all to come in so I can swap them and use mine.  Right now, the big envelopes are all laid out on the bed in the guest room.

Also, yesterday, I finished the last of about 25 potholders I made with orphan quilt blocks.  I'll put them in my yard sale this September since I don't have a whole lot to sell.  I am enjoying getting to know the two new neighbors as we coordinate the sale. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Christmas in July

Finally, a nice day and two men to hold up the two larger quilts I finished recently!  Here's the first, made with Christmas star swap blocks that came toward the end of 2011.  I put them together and sent them to the long armer, who did an overall leaf and berries design.  I think it's going to a niece, but I'm going to enjoy it for a while before giving it away.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath

The first book of my own "Classics Challenge" (read 50 classics in 5 years) was one that I never got to, perhaps because the story was fairly well-known.  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck follows the Joad family from the Oklahoma dustbowl to California to find work during the 1930's.  It's a story of trial and tribulation, some humor, and a lot of anger.  Why don't the "haves" help out the "have-nots"?  How can we allow our citizens to live in hovels and on very little good food?  The Joads are ever-hopeful for a break, but they are beset by their fellow Americans at every turn and, finally, by nature.

Young Tom Joad leaves prison after several years of having three square meals a day.  He runs into Casy, a former preacher, on his way home, and they both arrive just in time to accompany three generations (and another on the way) of the Joad family on a sad trip west.  Death, hunger, and deception follow them at every turn.  When they do find work picking fruit or cotton, the prices get consistently lowered by greedy landowners who know how hungry potential workers are.  If the workers try to strike, there are others hungry enough to take their places.  Organzing has little effect, yet seems the only solution to a situation spiraling out of control. 

The family tries to stay together, with Ma Joad becoming the strength they need and Pa just puzzled and trying the best he knows to do what the situation requires.  It's a sad story and still relevant today.  Jim, visiting here from Alabama this week, mentioned that parts of that state have no electricity or phone service.  Public schools, he says, are lousy and those who cannot afford private schools (blacks, Latinos, the poor) receive minimal educations.  Property taxes, which would pay for education, are kept low, but sales taxes are high and even cover food and clothing.  This is shocking in an age when many of us have so much.  The Grapes of Wrath certainly offers much to think about.  I'm glad I read it!  I even liked the format:  one chapter plot, the next a poetic riff on the situation.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Fruitbowl" of Thanks

Last month, I started a block of the month from Jennifer Chiaverini's latest pattern book.  "Cornucopia of Thanks" is a sampler with very interesting sashing.  I want to make a queen-sized quilt rather than a twin, so I'm making a few extra blocks.  So far, I love the colors I'm using, but I think the result is going to be more fruity than vegie.  Here's the latest block, "Providence."

Last month, I made a Dresden Plate using all of the colors in Providence as well as more yellows and pink/reds.  I'll try to take a photo soon.  You can see a photo of the original quilt at Jennifer's website.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rhapsody in Blue

The guest room will be occupied for a few days, so I hurried to finish a quilt top this morning.  Tomorrow I'll clean the room well before our guest arrives for the family reunion.  This top has been hung on a hanger in the closet and later this month I'll make the back before taking it to the longarmer.  I got on a blue and white kick last fall and made a number of blocks to go along with the blocks I got back from the guild square robin.  I have quite a few blocks left over, but I think I'll turn them into potholders sometime.

Here's another view:

It always feels so nice to finish a top.  I love the border fabric, which you can't see.  It's a swirly blue from the "Sophia" line by Jinny Beyer.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vermont Quilt Festival

We got home from a whirlwind trip to Colorado Friday at noon, after taking the red-eye.  All we did was sleep Friday, and the getting-back-to-normal continued yesterday.  Today I was refreshed enough to go to VQF, something I look forward to every year.  My friend Pauline went along, and she got quite interested as we went along.  A friend's husband warned her that quilting is addictive.  I was happy to run into that old friend, Sadie, and another, Laurraine, along with some Vermont quilters and vendors.

This year's quilts were pretty glitzy, with winners bejeweled and quilted with metallic thread.  Quite a few entries were of the Paula Nadelstern variety, with amazing bright colors and perfect paper piecing.  Photos of winners will be up on the VQF website soon.

There were quite a few lovely traditional quilts, mostly of the Baltimore Album variety.  In fact, one was Best in Show.  Here are a few others that I enjoyed.  First is a Dear Jane quilt made in neutrals - beige/brown.  Very chic.

This one's for Karen - a One Block Wonder with embellishment.  Looks similar to your Joseph's Coat.

This was based on a Terry Clothier Thompson pattern, and I love it.  Will have to look for the pattern.  I really like the print used for the background, unfortunately not so visible here.  You can tell, though, that it won an award.

Here's another One Block Wonder in very cool colors.  I was disappointed not to be able to see the actual fabric that was used (and sorry about the lady's tote bag in front!).

This log cabin with appliqued border was hand quilted and featured soft colors.  The photo doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reading quiz

I saw this today and thought it would be fun to include:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:   I try not to, but it happens.  Wine and cheese would be my favorite, but cookies are nice.

What is your favorite drink while reading?       Most definitely a cold glass of white wine.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?  I don’t like to see writing in books.  If I mark anything, it is with a sticky note.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?.  I have a drawer devoted to bookmarks and if one isn’t handy, I use a slip of paper until I can find one.  Paul leaves his books open flat which I am always amazed at.  But he knows what he’s doing (too).

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?  Fiction for sure although I’m trying to read more nonfiction lately.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?  I try to stop at the end of a chapter, or the end of a section.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you? I don’t throw books anywhere!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away? I try to figure it out from the context – or I ask Paul!

What are you currently reading?  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

What is the last book you bought?  The Grapes of Wrath.  I also just placed an advance order for the latest books by Louise Penny and Jennifer Chiaverini, coming out soon.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?  After I make dinner and before we eat, I do like to sit in the living room and read until dinnertime.  I can't get on an airplane without a book, either.

 Do you prefer series books or stand alones?   I don’t care, but it is fun to gulp up a good series.  I did that with the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear recently.

 Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?  Louise Penny, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, and an old saw The Land of the Burnt Thigh, about women homesteading in North Dakota.

 How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)  I gather books by the same author together and also have some arranged by topic.  Paul and I have “his and hers” shelves.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My brain was overheated

It's going to be nearly 90 degrees today, and at 6 am it was already steamy.  I think I'll just stay in today and try to keep cool.  Even sewing will be a challenge!  I have almost all of the 68 log cabin blocks made except two sides of shirting on each.  They are looking good.  Paul says that by the sounds emanating from my machine, I'm being paid by the piece. 

I also have almost half of the circles appliqued onto the stems on the center medallion.   However!  I would like to clarify my previous post.   Re-reading, I neglected to say that the photo of the center medallion came from the book.  My center is still in progress, and of course, will look a little different.  I will have a plain border - not a sawtoothed one with more circle appliques.  56 floral + 3 center circles are enough for me!

Last night, we had our last Heart of Vermont guild meeting, and I'll be sorry not to attend for a few months.  We each revealed our finished (or nearly finished) mystery quilts - the Christmas quilt I'm not wild about.   We voted on a quilt block for a new guild logo, and mine won!  I forgot to take a photo, but it was a take off on the Moon Over the Mountains block, with three peaks, a large moon (or sun depending on your perspective), and a small heart appliqued on top of the mountains.  Simple but pretty.  Geri is going to scan it for use on our nametags next year and then decide what to do with it.  Meanwhile, I'll be spending my prize - a gift certificate to A Quilter's Garden!

This will come in handy since I need some Christmas fabric for a swap.  I used a lot of my stash for the mystery quilt, and last night I thought I'd replenished it by picking up a baggie of scraps from the free table.  However, when I got them home, I found they all included some glitz which I can't use in the swap.  :-(  I don't really like glitz anyway, so I guess I'll set the scraps aside and head down to the quilt shop soon. 

I'll also be looking for sashing at that time since my guild "square robin" came back to me.  I had asked for 12" blue and white blocks, and the blocks I received are just beautiful.  I have a pizza box of other blocks I've made over the year, including some from the Just Takes 2 project.   I'll be moving those blocks around a lot in the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One of my older UFOs

Last July, I started appliqueing a 40" piece that I hope will be the center medallion of a quilt.  It's based on this wallhanging by Kim Diehl, called Bittersweet Briar.   Its size makes it a bit unwieldy to applique.  Today I finished the leaves and now "all" I have to do is applique the many little circles.  There are 14 about the size of a nickel on each stem, but I have about half of them ready to applique.
This has been one of those projects that I pick up and put down, but I am now anxious to get it finished.  It's silly to keep procrastinating on something so lovely. 

The other day I started working on some log cabin blocks that will serve as a border.  I thought this would spur me on to finish the applique, and it has.  The "chimney" is 3" and the "logs" are 1", before sewing.  They are based on a quilt I love that's owned by the Vermont Historical Society.  The background of the center medallion is various pieces of shirting, and so are the lighter logs.  So far the blocks are coming together nicely, but  I'm not yet sure how they'll be arranged for the border.  Quilting, for me, is very much a plan-as-I-go process!