Thursday, June 15, 2017

By cook or by crook

On hot days when I don't feel like moving, I read.  Of course, I read all the time - I'm a librarian (retired).  So far this year I've read about 35 books, give or take a few, and I'm always looking for a new series.  The library has books to download to my Kindle for free, and this has introduced me to quite a few new authors.  I'm devouring this first book by Maya Corrigan, set on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  It combines two themes I like - the Bay area and cooking.   I'm about halfway through this cozy, and can't wait to read the next one.   The "five ingredient" recipes sound perfect, too.  I've enjoyed quite a few series featuring cooks, including the ones by Diane Mott Davidson, Joanne Fluke, and Katherine Hall Page.  I especially like to try out the recipes they include.

This rainy spring/summer, I've read several good series, including the second book in the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James, all four books in the Peridale CafĂ© series by Agatha Frost (pen name for a man), and The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, ninth in the series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway.  I especially like the latter series because it features a very human heroine who's a bit overweight and has some odd friends.  None of this reading is all that taxing which is just fine for sitting on the back porch or in the living room if the rain is streaming down.  The forecast is for more heat and humidity in the next few days, so you know what I'll be up to!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A summer walk

Yesterday was a busy day, but so nice because the sun was shining!  Friday afternoon (it threatened rain as usual), I baked chocolate chip cookies to take to the library's volunteer luncheon yesterday.  The staff holds it every year to thank the many volunteers who do things from gathering recycling to keeping the circulation desk running and more.  As a trustee, I am really grateful, and as a member of the Friends, I'm one of those helpers, too.  There were about 75 people there. 

I couldn't stay until the end because children's librarian Ian and I were heading up to the town forest for storytime.  Pam, a Friend and fellow retired librarian, helped, too, although her granddaughter didn't join us as we had hoped.  Just back from a couple of weeks vacation in Scotland, Ian piped us up to the story area in the forest, nicely marked out by Al, disc golfer extraordinaire, and his pug, Angie.  He wanted to make sure no one threw any stray discs our way.

Ian had taken some storytelling classes while on vacation and shared one about "Witch Wash-a-Dish" with the group.  It was a good one because the kids could get involved, naming potential suitors for the picky princess and serving as various trees.  He lead a fingerplay and then read a story about fairy houses before the grand finale - building fairy houses in the forest.  On an earlier walk I had spotted a fairy house from last year, a little worse for the wear, but still available for occupancy.  There were 18 kids and parents there, and a good time was had by all.

After a light dinner (considering the luncheon was pot luck and delicious), Paul and I went to the Opera House for a Hank Williams tribute.  We spotted his sister and her husband up in the balcony.  The musicians, especially the pedal steel/lead guitarist, were very good.  It was a fun day!

Monday, June 5, 2017

27 Days!

That's right - 27 days of rain in May, and rain every day so far in June.  Vermont is as green as it can be which is fine unless you want to do something outside.  Yesterday we did find a little morning sun to walk in the forest for a welcome change.   Most of the wildflowers have finished blooming but the ferns are still filling out, and we were pleased that the trails weren't as wet as they might have been.  Nearing the parking area, we heard the distinct sound of a woodpecker on metal.  There is very little metal in the forest, naturally, so we had to stop and find out what it was.  Samantha took a short video, but also this photo:
It was such a distinctive looking woodpecker that Samantha used her phone app to find out what type it was.  While she was looking, I jokingly said, "a yellow bellied sapsucker," and it really was!

It did rain later in the day, so I dove into the latest Elly Griffiths mystery, The Chalk Pit, her ninth featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway.   Earlier, I finished putting together a bookshelf for the row-by-row robin I'll be participating in later this year.  It was easy - why haven't I made one of these quilts before?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A few finishes

Last week, I put pedal to the metal and finished two quilts!  First is Taquila Sunrise, made with part of a jelly roll and some black, using a pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Company (Diamond Rail Fence).  I quilted this quite closely using a diamond pattern and echo quilting starting at the center.  It would make a nice wall hanging in a contemporary home or office.  It's a bit too stiff to use as a table topper.  I was going to take a photo of it on my neighbor's bistro table, but I realized it would not show well.

And next is the Scrappy Logs, using 2" logs from the rest of the Amy Butler fat quarter "Violetta" bundle.   It's crib-sized and quilted in waves going across.  I experimented with a "faux piping" binding and it turned out great.

Now on to the scrappy hearts top - all pin-basted and ready to quilt after a trip to Joann's for some wide muslin.  It really feels good to finish up a few things.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


A few days ago, I started making pinwheels using a couple of charm packs I've had for at least a year.  They're 1930's prints by Boundless from Craftsy.   I like their solids more than Kona solids, but hadn't worked with any prints before.  I'm not wild about the "hand" of these prints.  They feel cheap to me, but the resulting quilt will be small anyway.   I have a bundle of fat quarters in a different line of Boundless prints and hope they feel a little more substantial. 

I used the quick and dirty method of making the half square triangles,  putting two squares face-to-face, sewing all the way around the four sides, and cutting diagonally both ways.  This results in lots of bias edges, but it's fast and when fabric isn't prewashed, it doesn't stretch too much... in theory.  I only hope the reds don't run in the wash.

Yesterday, we had a young man scraping our little back porch, using a sander much of the day.  At the same time, the lawns were being mowed, so the cacophony was overwhelming.   I usually read for a while after lunch, and sometimes I even take a little nap.  Not yesterday!   I spent most of the day sewing,  farthest from the "action."  I got a lot of blocks made and then started to sash them in an on-point setting.  I have a few charm squares left, but probably not enough for a pieced border.

The porch work continues today until it rains, possibly this afternoon.  So I'll work in the sewing room again and will probably finish the top.  That will make 3 waiting to be quilted, so it's time to tackle at least one before starting anything new.  I also need to put a binding on the little quilt I made last week.   This weekend looks relatively free, so I hope to make a little progress with UFOs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

State guild meeting

Yesterday's state quilt was held just over the state line in New Hampshire.  The drive back and forth was gorgeous, and I was happy to be accompanied by Pat and Robin.  The time goes by so quickly that way.  Attendance was light, perhaps due to the nice weather, and there were only two vendors, so I only spent $5 on raffle tickets.   Here are a few of the show and tell items I liked - all were wall hangings, and the bottom two were only 12" square.  As usual, I came home with IDEAS...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all!  We all had mothers, after all, and some of us are mothers.  I feel very lucky that my mom is still vital at age 94.  Still driving, attending classes, going swimming, and buzzing around.  I rarely call her because she's never home!   She uses a walker when she's out, just for stability, but it's hard to keep up with her nonetheless.  At right are Mom and Paul at a park near Denver last fall. 

It's raining here today (what else is new?), so we won't be grilling or gardening.  Yesterday I did do a little gardening and hope to do some planting during the week.  There are a few places in the yard that could use some new perennials.  I would like to plant dahlias and iris, too, near the house where the soil is less than optimal.  Last year I had tomatoes there, but I'm going to use pots for those this year.  I like to go to the garden stores during the week, so if I get a chance, I'll do that.  We don't plant vegetables until around Memorial Day here anyway, so even though I'd like to plant, it's good to wait.

Yesterday I finished appliqueing the wool piece and squared it off.  I'm setting it aside while I work on a small Rail Fence Diamond quilt using what's left of a jelly roll.  Everyone in one of my guilds received one from a rep of Quilting Treasures, and it's been fun to see what folks do with them.  I'm using a pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Co. (, with black diamonds.  My goal is to have a piece small enough to practice quilting in a spiral with my walking foot.

Chris helped me gather and load miscellaneous junk around the house to take to the town-wide bulk trash day yesterday, and he'll come over at noon to join Paul and me for lunch at the Chinese.  Eating Chinese food is a long-time family tradition.  Dad used to boast that he could feed our whole family of six for $10, so we used to go for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and any other special day.   For dessert we'll go home for a blueberry pastry I made yesterday with refrigerated puff pastry dough.  That was so easy that I'll be working with it again soon.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wool applique WIP

The sun was shining for the first time in many weeks, so I quickly took a picture of my wool work in progress.  Unfortunately, the pane threw a shadow on the photo, but you can get the idea of what's happening.   I'm using a light green cotton blender for the background.  There will be centers in each big flower, and I'm going to embellish a little with embroidery after everything is stitched down.  This has been fun!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

This n that

I seem to be sailing from one thing to another these days, mostly library related, with not a lot of sewing time.  I'll be glad for Sunday (Mother's Day) when I don't plan to live on anyone else's schedule! 

Last weekend was the library board's annual Spring Fling fundraiser.  Caterers and bartenders set up, along with a band and a magician.  We trustees do a lot of the physical labor, and there were about 150 people there for a great time.  I don't generally enjoy those kinds of events (stand around chatting, balancing food and drink), but it was indeed fun.  Some of the Friends and I sold raffle tickets which offered an opportunity to chat with people (while not needing to balance comestibles).  Profits were good.

Tuesday was the annual Town vote on the Town budget, library budget, high school budget, and more.  We had done quite a bit of politicking for the library budget and staffed the polls (actually a grassy knoll outside the polls) all day.  It was in the high 30's and raining most of the day, but we were successful by a wide margin, thank goodness.   Our board meeting the following morning was quite jovial.

Today I'm helping run some focus groups for library planning, at noon and at 6 pm.  Over sandwiches, people are telling us what they think library should focus on in the coming years.  It's been quite interesting and fun.  I'm the note taker, while a local minister is leading the discussions.  Good ideas are coming out.

In between all this activity, I've been working on a small (14" square) wool appliqued piece, a vase of flowers, my favorite theme.  I have all the pieces cut out and have been basting on a few at a time before using embroidery floss for stitching.   I even bought a project box to store woolens in - my paper shopping bag has outlived its usefulness.  Now to figure out how to store the floss.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Small projects

There's something to be said for making smaller pieces.  Because they get done quickly, there's a nice sense of accomplishment.  Yesterday, I finished two things - how often can I say that?!? 

First, there was a little wallhanging I made for Cindy to give Taylor, a new graduate of Cornell's School of Veterinary Medicine.  Taylor has a gray cat and loves horses, so I looked through my pattern books.  Couldn't find a paper pieced horse, but Janet Kime's It's Raining Cats and Dogs is always good for a cute cat or dog pattern. 

I had  a very nice Laurel Burch fat quarter that I used for the back, binding, and collars, and then I rummaged around for some gray.  I love the background fabric, and added the star just to give it a "wish upon a star" feeling.  Taylor really worked hard to get through a demanding curriculum. 

This was fun to do and only took a couple of hours.  Most of the time was spent changing out presser feet - sewing, walking foot, free motion foot, etc.  Gave me a chance to clean the machine in between, too.  I sewed two triangles to the upper corners so that it can be hung on a wall with thumb tacks.   And then there was the embroidery and beading - not my favorite thing to do, but done!

I was on a roll, so I made a little blue batik zippered bag for Polly's birthday tomorrow.  We're meeting her at Quechee Gorge for lunch May 8 and have a gift certificate to Keepsake Quilting for her.  The bag is just a cute way to wrap it.  I machine quilted the bag, which measures about 6" x 9". 

On tap today:  figure out how to set a bunch of  multi-colored 12" scrappy heart blocks.  Yes, another bigger project!

Sunday, April 16, 2017


I'm a sucker for swaps!  It's so much fun to get those little packages of blocks in the mail.  This year I'm participating in several:
  • Be My Neighbor - a Moda block of the week from 2016.  I think there are 16 blocks, so each of the 8 people participating made 2 blocks, which are fairly large.  Every block had to have a little yellow in it.  My two have gone to the hostess and she'll swap them out in June.
  • "Back to Our Roots" - my online swap group began as a group to swap blocks from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler, by Jennifer Chiaverini.  We are to make sets of five of the same 6" block and mail them in by the end of August.  I'm the hostess, and so far I've made five sets.  Here's one of my Orange Peel blocks, using a charm pack of William Morris prints.  I keep thinking about making more, but I got side-tracked making some blocks in the Moda "Blockheads" block of the week program.   And as hostess, I keep thinking maybe I'll make a block for each person participating?  Not sure.
  • A "block robin" in one of my local guilds (I belong to two).  We pass a bag of fabric we've chosen around all year until the big reveal in June.  Each of us is making two blocks per person this year.  I told people I don't care what size the blocks are, as I plan to make a quilt with a variety of sizes.  I'll combine these with the guild blocks of the month and some others I've made.
  • A row robin with my online group.  Our first rows aren't due to the next person until fall, but I am not gathering fabrics and thinking a lot about the bookshelf quilt I'm planning.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Dutch Treat" reboot

I started working on Dutch Treat earlier this year but found the white I had chosen raveled too much.  I hunted around for some off-white batik and got some blue, too.  The blocks are reverse appliqued, so the blue is behind the off-white.  My three earlier blocks were all sorts of colors which was nice, but I thought I might only do a small number of the blue blocks.  Here's what I finished this week.

There are 146 4" blocks in the quilt, much like Dear Jane.  Because each block takes at least two hours to do, I don't know how much time I'll devote.  I do have four more prepared for applique, and we'll see how I feel after those are done.  The batik is easier to needle turn, and I can make much smaller stitches.  Not all of the blocks in the book are Dutch-related, but I doubt if I'll have the patience to do them all anyway.

And what will happen to the earlier blocks?   I have put them in with the other orphans for projects along the way - potholders?  a table runner?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quilting, albeit slowly

Because my recent back problems seem to be finally getting better, I decided that I wouldn't overdo sandwiching the 365 Challenge-inspired quilt.  It's about 80" x 80" so took a little finagling as I pin-basted it on the double bed in my sewing room.  It takes a lot of care to do it in a way that avoids puckers on the back.  I started the process Sunday, taking breaks to read and work on hand appliqueing my "reboot" of the Dutch Treat blocks, this time with cream batik on the top and blue batik on the bottom.

It was all ready to quilt by Tuesday noon, so I started what will be several weeks of quilting.  (And I finished one DT block and started on a second one).  First, I went around the borders, and now I'm filling some in.  I often don't know what I'm going to do until I start handling the quilt.  So I begin with straight lines and think about further designs while quilting.  It often depends on how the quilt handles, although lately I having been using Quilters Dream Select which is very easy to maneuver.  I will probably stipple the center and crosshatch the outer border.  But what about the borders in between?  We'll have to wait and see! 

Yesterday I got no sewing done at all due to a library board meeting, grocery shopping, and a chiropractor appointment.  I spent a bit of time this morning before heading to an elderly neighbor's to pick up 9 boxes of books for the library booksale which Paul and I delivered after that.   It is nice to be able to take my time quilting when the mood strikes.  I have also revised my expectations of how many DT blocks I'll be able to do.  If I can get a nice wallhanging or table runner out of the blocks, I will be happy.  Each block takes enormous concentration and fairly bright light to work on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunny days = photos!

On Saturday, it snowed, but on Sunday and Monday, it was warm and sunny.  Most of our snow is gone now, so we could finally get out and take some photos.  Here's the scrappy squares quilt I finished a week ago:
I love it, but I am still learning how to edit photos using our new photo program.  Could not get the granite step out of the finished photo.   Still, I took a closeup and a photo of the back in order to list it for sale at my etsy shop, Cobble Hill Quilts. 

Friday, April 7, 2017


I've been working on the Moda "Blockheads" block of the week for the past few weeks.  They are all 6" blocks, but one week I cut out a 9" one by mistake.  This week's block had a lot of fussy little pieces, so I made it 9" also.  I figure I can put these blocks together with the ones from a swap I'm in for a bigger quilt.  So I may continue to make 9" blocks now and then and fit them all together with scraps.  It all depends on what the swap blocks look like.

My blockheads blocks are partly made with some historical reproduction fabrics from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.  I'm using shirtings and plain creams to go with the swap blocks.  So far, I like them:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Making progress

I've been quilting a scrappy throw (58" x 58") over the past week, and today I hope to do a few more rounds on the borders before binding it.  I usually machine stitch the binding of anything that I suspect will be machine washed.  Will post a photo when it's finished - it's incredibly colorful, representing a large number of 2.5" squares from my stash.

Next up is quilting a little wall hanging that I made with a panel Carol gave me and a bunch of orphan blocks.  I have some lime green thread I got in an auction that I am thinking of using with it.  Will I have the courage to use it?  And... to bind or to face?  We'll see!  

After that, I plan to work on the blue/green scrappy medallion quilt inspired by the 365 challenge last year.  I may need to use the table at the Old Labor Hall to sandwich it.  For smaller quilts, the double bed in the guest room works OK, yet the big table at the OLH is so much faster.  Not sure how I'll quilt it but I'll think about it as I sandwich.  I have the batt and am waiting for the back for it and one more top, another scrappy throw.  I'll quilt that eventually, in a quick, modern style (straight lines across).

All this is to make way for some swap blocks coming in the door - the scrappy heart blocks are already here, but I'm expecting guild block robin blocks in June, Be My Neighbor in June, and then some Sylvia's Bridal Sampler blocks at the end of the summer.  Phew!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"If you say so!"

The last couple of weeks have been particularly trying.  There was a long list of things I needed to catch up on, including following the shenanigans of the town budget committee when dealing with the library appropriation for the coming year; finalizing plans for the April guild meeting; creating a budget for and applying for tax exempt status reinstatement for the state quilt guild.  Oh, how I hate dealing with the IRS!  And why don't people return emails, for heaven's sake!?!

By Saturday night, I was just worn out.  Thank goodness for quilting - my therapy for tough (and not so tough) times.  Brunch with Pauline on Sunday helped, too.   I sold her a lovely quilt to send to her daughter in California, and afterwards, I engaged in a little fabric therapy at Jennine's quilt shop.  Perfect rewards for a difficult week.

But I do need to remind myself to chill out.  Last night's Friends of the Library meeting was one of those occasions.  One of our members, J-, has a drill sergeant way about her.  I think she's actually quite insecure, but she covers it up by issuing orders, even when it's not her place to do so.  We were going over the recent Friends auction and banquet (which I missed), suggesting ways to make it better next year before we forget.   J- had a long list of gripes, including some "very unprofessional" typos she claimed I had made on some of the posters.  I didn't think I had done this (only on some but not all???), but rather than argue as I usually do, I just smiled and said, "if you say so."  Everyone glared at J- who immediately stopped carping.  I went home feeling OK rather than mad.  That helps!

This week the cleaning ladies didn't come for some reason, so I did a little myself.  Later today I'll try yoga for the first time since I hurt my knee a couple of months ago.  Our instructor, bless her heart, has said that she will set aside a chair for me to use when everyone else is on the floor or on their knees.  I walked up and down several flights of steps at the library last night, without much pain, so I think I'm finally on the mend.  Things all seem to be looking up this week - if only the snow would melt!

Friday, March 24, 2017


This morning I read a very timely item on the Moda blog:  Before going to Alabama I had sort of lost my sewing mojo.    Maybe it was the weather.   I did a couple of smaller projects, including some wool applique.  Those were fun, and, when I finished, I found I wanted to sew again.  While away, I finished up some fairly easy appliqued swap blocks and hand quilted on my Atlantic Flyway wallhanging. 

Now that we're back, I've been reading a lot because of a couple of my favorite authors have just published new books.  But I've also spent a good bit of time cutting and sewing for the scrappy 2.5" block quilt I started before vacation.  I have made 5 out of 9 16" blocks so far.  I'm finding I need to cut a few more 2.5" squares, not because I've run out but because I need some brighter colors here and there.  A lot of my leftovers seem to be neutrals.  But I definitely have my mojo back.

I've been doing the Moda Blockheads 6" block of the week which I'm doing in the same fabric as I used for the swap blocks.  I hope that this will result in a larger quilt.  With only the 25 blocks I'll receive,  I really need a few more.  So far the Blockheads blocks have been nice.  Wednesday, I made a bunch of 9" blocks of the month for one of my guilds and then I went to a very frustrating meeting about the library budget.  Upon coming home, I  decided to make the Blockheads block to cool off.  That was great, but when I got finished I realized the block I'd made was 9" instead of 6".  So I made another one.  I did feel better after all that, but a little sheepish, too.  Don't know where I'll use that 9 incher - maybe I'll make a few more that size and mix them together.

Who knows?  I may even get back to Dutch Treat soon.  I still haven't found the white-ish batik that I'd like to use.  I had been using a sold white and it frays too much.  But Sunday I'll meet Pauline for lunch in Burlington and head over to Jennine's quilt shop to see if she has something I can use.  Hope so!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Time goes by so fast on vacation!  We already miss the flowers, green grass, and budding trees, as well as the opportunities to walk to events, restaurants, stores, and the beach.  Seeing new things and having new experiences is the point of vacation, and we did that.   We also relaxed (sewing and reading for me, doing research and planning a new book for Paul).

We aren't sure we'll go to Fairhope again next year.  It seems too old fogey-ish to go to the same place four years running, but who knows?  There's still a lot of the world to explore, and we also want to get to Colorado to visit my nearly 95 year old mom at least once a year. 

On our last days, it rained quite a bit, so we read and walked around town in between rain drops.  Sunday, we returned to the Gumbo Shack for dinner.  Tucked away from the traffic and a bit of a dive, it does serve some really good food.  They smoke their own meats right out front.  Monday, we ate everything left in the apartment for lunch and had dinner at the Lebanese restaurant, Sage, another favorite. 

We were on the road Tuesday by 7:30 am, trying a new route by Birmingham.  This kept us in Alabama and the Central time zone most of the day until we crossed into Georgia.  The change to daylight savings time made for a double whammy, but over the four days we did adjust.  The trip took us through Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, with overnight stops in Chattanooga; Fairfield, VA (south of Staunton); and Montgomery, NY (near Newburgh).   A big snowstorm hit the eastern seaboard Tuesday, so we kept our eyes on the weather.  Wednesday morning found us crawling along the interstate over ice in Tennessee, but we didn't see much snow on the ground until we got to northern Virginia.  Then it started to pile up, with the most around Scranton (18" or so).   But the skies remained blue all the way, and the roads were clean and dry.  Good timing!

Besides the usual post-vacation grocery shopping and laundry, I have a long list of things to do, including picking up three quilts that were at the Wood Art Gallery show, working on a new budget for the state quilt guild, advocating for the library budget, and more.  Still, it's good to sleep in our own bed, make our own coffee, and just spread out a little more after living in a small apartment and the car for the last several weeks.  And... I'm looking forward to getting back behind my sewing machine! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Just relaxing

We only have a few more days here in Fairhope, Alabama, before starting the four day trek back up north to Vermont.  How to best to "use" them?  Just by "chilling"!  I've been doing quite a bit of hand quilting on my Atlantic Flyway wallhanging.  I started hand quilting it on last year's visit, so it is time to get it finished.  I'm on the first side of the last border and doubt if it will be done by the time we get home.  But the closer I get to the end, the more motivated I'll be to finish.  Also, I'd like to get it all finished by April 8 when the guilds will be holding a Studio 180 class on that and another pattern.

But that's thinking ahead, and right now we live for today.  Friday was a lovely day, so we took a couple of walks, stopping at the Gumbo Shack for lunch.  The last time we were there, it was dark, so we didn't notice that they smoke their own meat.  My turkey sandwich was cut right from the bird - delicious.  We took some gumbo home for dinner, too.   I finished reading Fanny Flagg's latest novel (entertaining but a bit "meh") and started on letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart, a woman homesteader in Wyoming in 1909-1911.  Fascinating and on my bucket list for a long time.

Yesterday was gloomy and called for another trip to the movies, this time to see Verdi's opera La Traviata live from the Met via simulcast.  At home we'd need to travel an hour or so to get there, making it a bit iffy to plan in winter.  But it would be worth doing a few times a year for such a unique opportunity.  The production was wonderful, and we enjoyed the backstage bits as well.  My mother, who has seen this particular production, wasn't wild about the modern staging - minimal in black/white/red accents - but we thought it helped focus attention on the main characters and music.

We woke up to rain, but after it clears we'll be back walking.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Most definitely not in Vermont!

Seen on our morning walk,,,

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

By Mobile Bay

It's a beautiful day!

"La La Land" and Fannie Flagg

It was cloudy Sunday and threatened to rain, so after lunch we headed up the highway to Daphne and the 12-plex.  We do like to go to the movies when we travel because we rarely go to our 2-plex which features movies of interest to kids and teens.  We usually wait to see the good movies via Netflix, but some are best on the big screen.  La La Land is one of those.  The opening number is just great as everyone is singing and dancing on the congested freeway.  It's an old fashioned story with a realistic ending.  One friend didn't like it; others (who love musical theater) loved it.  We liked it - it was perfect for a gloomy day.  Not that any day in Fairhope or on vacation can be all that gloomy.

Before the movies, I finished off a couple more appliqued swap blocks and read a little.  Dinner was at a nearly deserted Italian bistro, and we brought home quite a bit of food for at least a couple of lunches.  Monday was partly cloudy, but warm enough for capris!  So glad I brought some.  We took a couple of walks, roamed around the pharmacy, wrote post cards to various people, and visited the bookstore.  I got a first edition, signed copy of Fannie Flagg's latest, The Whole Town's Talking.  She lives here - wish I'd been able to come to her book signing last fall.  After I read it, I'll put it in a raffle basket for the library along with other fun things for summer.

Tuesday featured a booktalk at the library about One Minute to Midnight, which detailed the Cuban Missile Crisis in you-are-there detail.  The reviewer, who is also the president of the library's Friends group, did a great job.  I don't usually read nonfiction, but she made me want to.  Afterwards, we had lunch at a French bakery, and my turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise was delicious.  Because it was threatening to rain again, we headed up to Daphne to the movies again, this time seeing Hidden Figures.  Wow!  It was an inspirational, great story about black women who worked for NASA in Virginia where Jim Crow laws were still in place with separate rest rooms and even the office coffee pot the "way it was!"

We have discovered a very nice walking path along Mobile Bay, with park benches for lovely views and this sculpture by one of our favorite Vermont sculptors, Jim Sardonis.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


It is one degree with snow at home, but today in Fairhope the high will be 66, and it's sunny.  We've been having a very low key time, walking around, visiting old favorites, and eating very well.  In between, we've been reading, sewing, and just plain goofing off.

Thursday, our first stop was the visitors center and then the library to pick up information about goings on in town.  We had delicious hamburgers at Panini Pete's and, in the evening, attended an historical talk about the arts in Fairhope.  Not at all what we expected, but very entertaining, the speaker was a raconteur with a great accent.  Walking home, we enjoyed the fairy lights strung on the trees which lend a certain peacefulness to downtown after dark.

Friday morning, we walked a few more blocks to the art center where they were still hanging the show that was to debut for the evening Art Walk.  We thought that event was just for the art center, but it turned out that it involved many art and antique shops downtown where there were musicians playing in a variety of styles.  Small crowds gathered here and there, and one short street was blocked off to traffic.  We were happy to join in and to enjoy a delicious Lebanese dinner at Sage, a place we discovered on the last night of last year's visit. 

Today's agenda includes a talk by a writer-in-residence at the library (AJB Johnson?), and I also want to visit the Page and Palette book store to check out their local authors' offerings.  One of my favorite books last year, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, was displayed there (even though the author isn't local at all).

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Welcome to Alabama

We left Barre Saturday, Feb. 25, arriving in Wilkes-Barre, PA, at around 3 pm.  The last 20 minutes of the drive were simply awful - thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and - worst of all - hail.  I had to pull off the highway twice, something I've never done before.  There was a lot of truck traffic, and even the truckers stopped.  There were emergency vehicles standing by, which was reassuring.

Sunday morning, we headed south amid much quieter conditions, stopping in Camp Hill to visit my college friend Madelyn and her husband, Jim.  After all these years in the north (45?), Jim still has a heavy Georgia accent.  I was happy to see Madelyn doing so well as she has stage 4 cancer and was using a walker most of the time the last time we saw her.  She was walking well and looking forward to hearing details of her latest MRI.  I'll call to get the scoop after we get home in a few weeks. 

After brunch, we heading on south, stopping overnight in Harrisonburg, VA, and near Chattanooga.  We made it to the Alabama line Tuesday morning and were greeted by this camellia bush at the Welcome Center.
From the Virginia line on down, we saw increasing signs of spring - daffodils, forsythia and cherries in bloom, buds forming on trees.  It seems to be an early spring for some, but in Alabama the daffodils have already gone by.  Jim wasn't going to be home until about 4:30, so we headed over to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts to see a special exhibit of Alabama quilts.  They had paired antiques with more modern quilts, many from the 1980's and 1990's.  I thought the contemporary ones were really uninteresting, but the antiques were beautiful.  Here's a sweet baby quilt which had some amazing quilting.
The sashing was a print that was fussy cut, and each block was about 4".  This is a very nice museum in a lovely park setting, complete with walking trails, picnic areas, a Shakespeare theater, and an Elizabethan garden which was planted with lots of herbs and pansies.  Azaleas are also blooming throughout Alabama.  Quite a sight for these northern eyes.

After a cozy evening with Jim, which included dinner at a Greek restaurant, we headed on our last leg of the trip, down to Fairhope by Mobile Bay.  It was muggy and cloudy, so I didn't take any pictures, but it sure was nice on the pier.  We had lunch there - gumbo for Paul and fried green tomatoes with shrimp for me.  Now for a few weeks of doing next to nothing - aaahhh!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pre-vacation sewing

I told myself not to start anything new since we are leaving in a couple of days.  But when my pre-trip chores are done, my hands have to keep busy.   I usually do mindless sewing when this happens, so the other day I made a bunch of 6" selvage blocks to add to my stack.  Someday I'll have enough for a quilt, but not yet.  I did use up a lot of selvages, and I now have only very long (72" or so) strips left to use as ribbon for packages and such.   I've been gathering stuff for the month we'll be away - lots of it!  There are tote bags with extra linens, food, cooking supplies, books, electronics, sewing, etc. all over the house.  Saturday, we'll just load them up and head out.

Meanwhile, yesterday, since all my selvages were used up, I started on a new scrap quilt.  I didn't want to cut much, but just start sewing.   This one uses 2.5" squares which are all precut scraps from previous projects.  I keep a box of 2.5" squares as well as boxes of half-square triangles and 2" squares handy.   I saw this pattern in a blog recently, but mine has multicolored squares and black scrap strips.  I made three 16" blocks in just a few hours yesterday and aim to make a smaller charity quilt with 9 blocks.  It looks really nice so far.  My collection of 2.5" squares really hasn't diminished much - amazing how scraps tend to spread out as you use them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I had every intention of going to the LQS and getting some white-ish batik so I can continue with Dutch Treat.  But "life" got in the way.  First, Paul had a slight medical procedure requiring me to take him to the hospital in Burlington on Tuesday (what a way to spend Valentine's Day!).  We had to be there by 8:15 am, so we left home at 6:45.  I did a lot of waiting, but he came through just fine.  His roommate, once he landed, was a neighbor which was quite a nice and fun thing.  Paul spent the night in the hospital, and of course the weather report for Wednesday was simply dire, with lots of snow predicted. 

So I worried all night, and when I saw flakes coming down in the morning, I got in the car and drove back to Burlington.  They had said he probably wouldn't be released until noon, but I was taking no chance.  When I arrived, he had been discharged and was ready to leave, amid some big, sloppy snowflakes.  They let up on our way home, though, and all that worry was for nothing.  Paul is fine, just has to take it easy and then have cardiac rehab when we get back from Alabama in March.  We'll walk and take it easy down there, where it's in the 60's and 70's.  Can't wait!

Meanwhile, Dutch Treat.  Still haven't gotten the batik (I have a gift certificate burning a hole in my purse), so I've been making little wallhangings instead.  One is a vase of flowers with almost everything - stems, petals, vase - made of selvages.  It needs a little more work - outlining some of the flowers in black or green so they stand out better. 

But this one, done with wool and a vase made of selvages, is coming along really well.  I'm not great at embroidery, but I'm learning as I go along.  I need to add the leaves and a bluebird.  It's from a book by Wendy Williams - Wild Blooms & Colorful Creatures.  There are some really fun designs that I hope to use as inspiration.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


We are having a fairly serious snowstorm today.  This morning, we got out early to do a few errands - gas, milk, bagels, money machine.  Then we hunkered down, and the snow started right at 11:30 as the weatherman had predicted.  And it "poured."   By dinner time we had at least 6" and nothing was moving outside except the snowplows.

I spent the morning working on some 6" snail's trail blocks for a swap, and then I started working on another set - 6" orange peels.  The background is Craftsy's "boundless" cream and the "peels" use a set of William Morris charms I've had around for quite a while.  Love the subtle colors.   I'll square it up to size when they're all done. 

I still have some Grandmother's fan blocks to applique, and then the five sets I signed up for will be done.  Maybe I'll make another set or maybe I'll just make a few sets that no one else has signed up to do to fill out my quilt.  They aren't due til the end of September, so I have time to decide.

I had been thinking of doing a project with selvages today - maybe I'll work on them tomorrow if we're still snowed in...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Need a lift?

It's been an unusual winter in that the temperatures have been chilly and the skies gloomy.  It snows a tiny bit nearly every day.  Often January-February have been very cold - below zero - and sunny.  Occasionally we used to have big dumps of snow, including the still-famous Valentine's Day of 2007 when we had 21" in a matter of hours.  Our relative lack of sun had me worried that the amaryllis bulb Mom sent us for Christmas wouldn't bloom.  Two buds did make their way up, though, and yesterday it burst into bloom!

What's more, when I posted a photo of these flowers on Facebook, 27 people "liked" it!  Sure says a lot about social media.  You can't see it from the photo, but my plants are sitting on a lovely boot tray my cousin Jeannie sent for Christmas.  I had made her a quilt this summer, and this was her thank you - it's far too nice for boots.

I had a stomach bug over the weekend so did nothing but sleep, read, and watch some TV.  I discovered a new British detective I want to read more of - Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope, smart, unattractive, and of a "certain age."  I felt well enough yesterday to go downtown to pick up another gift certificate for the Friends of the Library winter banquet/auction.  While I was there, I got a big container of hot and sour soup - yum!  That can cure whatever ails.  

That old nuisance, snow-sleet-freezing rain-rain, is predicted for later today and into tomorrow.  After early morning errands (walk in the mall, shop for essential foods), I'll get back to cutting up 2" x 3.5" strips for a very scrappy quilt I'm making from The Big Book of Scrappy Quilts.  I need thousands, but I still have plenty from the Curved Log Cabin I showed a few days ago.  And when I need a break, I'll dip into The Little Paris Bookshop, completely different from Ann Cleeves but just as compelling.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Heading away...

I make quilts for people with Parkinsons Disease for the VT/NH Parkinsons Comfort Project, and a few have been piling up to be mailed soon.  I hope to get them on their way in the next few days.  First is the quilt from one of my local guilds' 2016 round robin.  I like the way I quilted it, with grids in most of the borders, some outlining in the center, and a bit of "borders made easy" on the plain border. It isn't really the prescribed size, but I imagine it will appeal to someone who is in need of a lift, mood-wise.

I had a quilt that was 60" x 60" that I really didn't like.  So I cut it down to the requested 40" x 60" size.  That is so that someone in a wheelchair can keep cozy, and I actually like it better in this new size.  The process of cutting the quilt down was surprisingly easy as I simply cut 10" off each side with my rotary cutter and added new bindings.  I hated to cut into it, but at the same time I am happy to make something that someone can use.

The third quilt is 40" x 60" and was the result of a swap of half-square triangle blocks in an online group.  I had a bunch of other sizes of HSTs also, and, as a matter of fact, still have a whole bunch more sitting in a box waiting to be used somehow.  I quilted this quilt fairly simply also, following the pattern of the lights and darks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Did I show this?

This is the curved log cabin that I finished in January.  The long arm quilter did a great job, offering flowers and curves, with just enough texture.  I used a soft yellow for the back.  I need to take a better photo - actually, a few - so I can list it on etsy.  Winter is a tough time for picture taking, though.  The weather is too gloomy for indoor pictures, or too cold to take them outside.  I have several waiting to be photographed and then I'll send them off to the Parkinsons Comfort Project.

I've been laid up with a bum knee for a week, and it sure is getting old.  I don't know what happened.  I just woke up last Tuesday in pain with swelling.  I've been putting arneca gel on it (at Mom's recommendation), taking turmeric pills (at Yve's recommendation), and taking Tylenol when it starts hurting.  I have been walking in the mall most days but not as fast or as long.  Have missed yoga twice, and hope to go next week since every day I feel a little better.  Sorry to whine!

Tonight I'm heading downtown for a community forum on livable wages and how we are training people for jobs in the 21st century.  I contacted two of the three panelists who sound terrific, and I hope we (the Greater Barre Democrats) get a good turnout.  Tomorrow I'm meeting with Louise and Guy to see how we can inject a little new life into the town Democratic committee.  The school consolidation vote went down for a second time yesterday, so we really need to get some new, energetic members.

In between quilting, reading, and political this-and-that, I have been picking up items for the Friends of the Library annual banquet/auction in March.  We will be away for that wonderful event, so I want to make sure I do my part before we go.  Saturday I picked up a 919 piece Lego firehouse from a toy store - it should be a hit in the live auction.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

365 Challenge

Last year, I started off following the 365 Challenge an Australian quilter was posting each day.   She had designed a quilt that used scraps, which I thought would be perfect for all of my blues and greens.  The bins they are in are overflowing.  The first batch used only dark values and were 3" (finished).  I made quite a few before going south for a month.  By the time I got back, the patterns had moved on to a center medallion which I attempted.  I hated the results so threw it away and made up my own.  As the spring went on, I wanted to work on other things, so I set it what had become a 24" x 24" medallion aside.  And it's been gnawing at me ever since.

This winter, I got it out again and decided it wasn't all that bad.  I surrounded the medallion with scrappy courthouse steps blocks, and I liked it again.  Then I started making "ribbon star" blocks from a Block magazine I had saved.
 Now I'm making another border, this time using the half-square triangles cut off the ribbon stars and sewn into pinwheels.  It will be 66" square.  Question is:  what to do now?  My bins are still overflowing.  It's as if I never made anything at all!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Another UFO quilted

A couple of days ago, I finished quilting and binding the round robin I made with my local guild.  It hung in the closet all summer as I contemplated whether to add another border to make it bigger.  Finally, I decided it was big enough.  It measures about 53" x 53".  
I wasn't all that wild about some of the color choices in the borders, but after quilting, it does look quite nice.  I used some multicolored thread (King Tut's "circus") down the center of that wide teal border.  It adds a subtle shine.  And I used a black and blue batik for the binding.  I'm so glad it's finished!  That was the last quilt waiting to be quilted in my closet.  Now I can stockpile a few more!

I have several project boxes going, including a guild block of the month which I'm doing in the same fabrics as a guild "block robin."  We're making each other a block every month, and the bag I picked up last night had some lovely, rich burgundies in it.  I made the owner, Deedee, a ribbon star block and am now appliqueing a Dresden Plate.  I want to pass it along to Sheree at the February meeting because I don't know if I'll be able to go to the March one.

I'm also working on Dutch Treat blocks, very slowly; five sets of blocks for a Sylvia's Bridal Sampler swap; an adaptation of last year's 365 challenge, run by an Australian quilter; and a wild scrappy quilt from The Big Book of Scrappy Quilts which has 77 patterns from different designers.  Last, but not least, I am hosting a swap of scrappy heart blocks, most of which have arrived.  I'm just waiting for the Canadian ones, and then they'll go back out to the swappers.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A new project

Try as I might, I can't resist a new project.   I started Dutch Treat this week, having eyed it for years.  It's a lot like the Dear Jane quilt in that it's a sampler with lots of small blocks.  I have no plans to make a full-sized quilt because each block is reverse appliqued, but, when an online group was starting a quilt along, I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Here are my two blocks for the week.

As you can see, they are pretty wonky, and I labored over each one for two afternoons.   I'm making a purple one today and hope to finish before the next three blocks are announced.  The original quilt is in blue and white, and while I love that color combination, I thought I'd do each of the blocks in a different color.  I think the resulting table runner will be very pretty!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Quilting on a budget

I am an incredible time waster, but who cares?!  I'm retired and ought to enjoy myself, I say.  I do get a lot done anyway, but in bursts of energy.  I need to take down the Christmas stuff, but always I do that gradually.  Yesterday it was everything that wasn't tree- or village-related.  Maybe tomorrow I'll do one or the other while the cleaning ladies are here.  Paul and I have been walking at the mall when the driving is OK, about five times a week.  We go around 8:30 and return home by 9:30 unless we have errands to run.  That's not a time waster, but it does take a chunk of time.

Yesterday, I finished pin-basting a small quilt to go to the Parkinson's Comfort Project and started quilting it.  It is made entirely of scraps except the back which is a large piece I bought on sale.  There's enough left to go on the back of the next quilt which is the last one hanging in the closet waiting for quilting.  I have several UFOs that are in process, so I expect my closet to fill up again during the year.

My resolution for the year is to use more fabric that I already have rather than to shop for it (even though I still have a $5 gift certificate to my LQS in my purse!).  This is one of the "rules" that Allison, who writes the Cluck Cluck Sew blog promotes this year.  You can read it all here, and it makes all kinds of sense, even though the first suggestion, not to read blogs, is a tough one.  I know they do give me ideas, but usually that's a good thing - I prefer ideas for scrappy quilts anyway, and I love to try new recipes.  The other day, though, I discovered some sets of charm squares, both 5" and 2.5", and hope to use them in 2017.  I don't know how long they've been hiding, but at least a year.