About Me

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I am a wife, mama and grandmama getting through life by hanging on to a needle and thread.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dandelions & Grandchildren

This week northern Pennsylvania is expected to have summer like temperatures, abundant sunshine and pure blue skies. With weather like that the dandelions will be popping up all over the yard. I know a lot of people curse the sight of the little yellow weed, but I always welcome them. I love the yellow polka dots against the green grass and what could possibly be better than a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow dandelions brought to you by a child who loves you? This week all of my children and grandchildren are all here together, so don't expect to see very many quilt related posts...I am going to be enjoying the warm weather and picking dandelions with my grandchildren!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One More For Project Linus

Once a month a group from our guild meets at a friend's lake house to sew together. I almost always use this time to make a charity quilt from the stash of donated fabrics that is kept there. This month I was in the mood to work on something bright and cheerful, so I chose all floral prints and put this top together. I used the Candy Cane Lane pattern from Eleanor Burns' Christmas at Bear's Paw Ranch book. I've made several quilts using this pattern and I've always been pleased with the results, but I really love this one! I'm not sure what it is that makes this one special...maybe it's just all of the bright floral fabrics and knowing that spring is finally here after a very long winter!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Welcome Selvage Blog Visitors!

I am honored that Karen Griska, author and selvage guru, has featured my latest selvage projects on the Selvage Blog today! If you are here visiting from the Selvage Blog...welcome! You can see all of my selvage projects and find links to most of the patterns used by clicking HERE.

All Clean!

I am happy to report that my sewing room is clean and all horizontal surfaces are clear of clutter! I have to admit that the pep talk from the professional organizer was very motivating, but I have some even stronger motivation to get things in shape...we are having company! Next week my sewing room will be turned into a bunkhouse for the lil' cowboy while he and his mommy and daddy are here visiting from North Carolina! If that's not motivation enough to clean up the sewing room then I don't know what is!

If you still need some organization motivation check out yesterday's post titled Spring Clean Your Sewing Room at Sew, Mama, Sew! for lots of great ideas and ways to organize your sewing room. There is even a printable checklist for spring cleaning your sewing room as well as a great giveaway!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Professional Help!

At last night's monthly meeting of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild, members received some tips for organizing their sewing spaces from a professional organizer. Going into the meeting I thought that I was a fairly organized person and I still do for the most part. I have the clear totes to hold my fabric and supplies and like things are grouped together as she was suggesting, but I tend to not put things away after getting them out of those containers. When she came to the point in her talk where she said that horizontal surfaces were the enemy I knew that she was talking to me! I shook my head in agreement and made the comment that there was so much stuff on my ironing board right now that I couldn't iron anything even if I wanted to! Instead of sewing today I am going to clear off the horizontal surfaces in my sewing room and put everything in its place in an effort to give myself a more harmonious stitching environment. Once I have that done, I will try to spend a few minutes after each stitching session to tidy up as the organizer suggested (instead of just closing the door) and maybe my sewing room will stay a little neater from now on.

If you think you might be in need of professional help, you can visit the National Association of Professional Organizers website to locate a professional organizer in your area.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Selvage Stash

Yesterday Karen Griska of the Selvage Blog asked that her readers show their selvage stash and tell how they store their precious selvages. I would like to say that I store mine in something a little more creative than a paper grocery bag, but then again, maybe selvages are best hidden away in a plain brown wrapper!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AAQI Mini Retreat

Yesterday our guild held an AAQI (Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative) Mini Retreat for guild members to make mini quilts. These mini quilts will all be donated to Ami Simms for her Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt Project when she visits our guild in June. I have written about this project before, but for those of you who are unaware, these little 9" x 12" quilts are auctioned from the AAQI website or sold outright at select locations across the United States with 100% of the profits going directly to Alzheimer's research. It's an amazing project that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars mainly due to generous quilters who have donated a bit of their time and a few scraps of fabric. The photo above is just a small sampling of the mini quilts that were completed by the group yesterday. I think everyone who attended would agree with me and say that it was lots of fun spending the day together piecing scraps for such a great cause!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pop, Pop, POP!

You can almost hear the leaves popping open here in northern Pennsylvania! It will be awhile before we see lilacs blooming on this bush, but for now I'm thrilled just to see a few little green leaves!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

There were a lot of firsts for me in this sampler quilt and I think that is what makes it one of my favorite quilts. The quilt started out as a BOM held by Needles Quilt Shop a few years ago. Up until this quilt I had only made crib quilts and smaller projects, so I was a bit intimidated by the idea of making a full size quilt. The owners of the shop convinced me that making one block a month would be the easiest way to complete a bed size quilt and it did work out very well. The pattern is from the Eleanor Burns book Underground Railroad Sampler and I really enjoyed learning the Quilt In A Day piecing methods and working with the Civil War reproduction fabrics. After the top was completed I knew that there was no way that I would be able to do the quilting on such a large quilt myself, so I decided to have it professionally quilted by a local longarm artist...another first. I remember having a dream (nightmare?) shortly after dropping the top to be quilted that when it was put on the frame it was so out of square and the borders were so wavy that it couldn't be quilted! Do you think I was a little anxious about the quality of my work? My fears were totally unfounded though and the quilt and quilting came out beautifully!

Thanks to Amy for organizing this virtual quilt show! Be sure to visit Park City Girl for a complete list of all the participants.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Glad Press 'n Seal

Several people asked how I marked the pumpkin seed design on the table runner that I showed yesterday, so I thought I would share my secret with everyone...Glad Press 'n Seal. Just trace your pattern directly on the Press 'n Seal*, then stick it to your basted quilt top and machine quilt along the lines. Press 'n Seal sticks without pins, is repositionable, leaves no residue on the quilt or your machine and the plastic tears away easily once you're done. Simple as that!

*Make sure that the marker/ink lines are dry before you place the Press 'n Seal on your quilt. You wouldn't want to risk an accidental ink smear on a new quilt top!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Warning: Curves Ahead

I am the first one to admit that I am not a quilter...I am a piecer. I find the whole process of quilting very intimidating whether it be by hand or machine. I think that is because most quilt patterns say "quilt as desired" and leave it at that with no further explanation. Just how do you figure out what motif or design best suits the quilt top??? I don't have a clue, so normally I play it safe and do straight line quilting, echo quilting or stitch in the ditch. All of those quilting designs are very effective, but are also a little on the boring side. Lately I've been working to get past my fear of quilting with curves and trying some different quilting techniques here and there. Yesterday I worked up some serious curvy courage and quilted this strip pieced table runner with a pumpkin seed motif. I am very pleased with how it turned out, so much so that I'm not sure I want to give it up to the friend it was made for (but I will). I guess I am going to have to make one for myself and quilt some more curves!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bread Machine Bread From The Oven

I love my bread machine, but I have never cared for the way that it bakes bread. The bread is always over done, the crust too thick and to be honest I'm not crazy about the shape of the loaf once it's finished either. What I love about my bread machine is the dough cycle! Any bread machine recipe can be made on the dough cycle and shaped into dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or just a regular loaf of bread and then baked in the oven. The extra step of shaping and then baking the bread in the oven doesn't add very much time or mess and the end results are well worth it!

Basic White Bread

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients into bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer. Select the dough cycle and press start.

10 minutes after your machine has started kneading the dough open the lid and check the consistency of the dough. The dough should be tacky to the touch (like the sticky part of a Post-It Note). If the bread is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water at a time allowing a minute or two of kneading then check it again. If needed add another tablespoon of liquid. Repeat this until the dough reaches the proper consistency. If the dough is too dry apply the above steps but using flour instead of liquid.

Note... just because you had to make this adjustment doesn't mean there is something wrong with the recipe or your machine. The weather plays an important part in bread making and adjustments you make one time may not be the same adjustments you make next time. This is why it is important to check the dough consistency.

Once you have checked and if needed adjusted the dough close the lid of your machine allow the machine to complete the cycle.

When the machine beeps indicating the dough is finished remove it to a floured work surface and shape into a loaf (or in any shape you choose). Place dough in greased pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place 35-50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes or until the top of loaf is deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped with a finger.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grandma's Gameboy

This is another quilt that caught my eye at the Quilters' Heritage Celebration in Lancaster earlier this month. The quilt was made by Sandra Peterson of Muncie, IN and was inspired by the antique game boards that she played with as a child. Not only was I drawn to this quilt by its design and color, but I loved the name...Grandma's Gameboy! Although my kids have had different video game systems over the years, I have never been a big fan of them myself. I would much rather spend my time accomplishing something (like working on a quilt). After Easter dinner yesterday I spent the evening playing Wii with my grandchildren and the rest of the family. I will admit that it was tons of fun and a great way to spend the evening, but my aching muscles tell me today that this grandmama is much better suited for quilting!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fabric Baskets For Easter

I have been busy this week making fabric baskets to fill for the grandkids for Easter. I know you are thinking that there only four baskets here, but five grandkids. Not to worry...the lil' cowboy's basket was stitched, filled and in the mail before I thought to take a photo of the finished baskets!

You can find a great tutorial for making fabric baskets similar to these at the Pink Penguin blog!

Friday, April 10, 2009

In My Easter Bonnet

Eileen from Eileen's Attic thought it would be fun to show off Easter dresses of yesteryear and I thought I would join in the Easter parade too!
I was 2 years old when this photo was taken and I won't even pretend to remember anything about the dress, coat or bonnet. I do think that I can safely say that the coat and bonnet had smocking on them and the dress probably did too. Almost every photo of me from this era shows me in a smocked dress!

If you'd like to join the Easter Parade hop on over to Eileen's Attic and leave a link to your Easter dress blog post in the Mr. Linky box.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Closer Look

Mary from Quilting In Oz asked if the bows in the border of the quilt that I showed photos of yesterday were actually tied 3-D bows or appliqued, so I thought I would show a close up view of the border. (Click on the photo for a larger view.) I don't do much applique and I certainly don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but it looks to me as if the bows were placed under the swags and that all has been appliqued. No matter how it was done, it's a beautiful border!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One Of My Favorites

You can't really tell it by my latest selvage projects, but my heart really belongs to traditional quilting. I love old fashioned traditional quilts, reproduction fabrics and hand quilting. This quilt, Rebecca's Legacy, was one of my favorite quilts at the Quilters' Heritage Celebration. It was made by Barbara Diem of Watchung, NJ and is her version of a quilt that was made by her great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Miles, during the late 1840's. Tiny squares, eight pointed stars, an appliqued border, and wonderful hand quilting make up this gorgeous 76x88 inch quilt. It's no wonder that it won the blue ribbon in the 100 Pieced Traditional category...it was absolutely breathtaking!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Alas, There Was Shopping

Not only were there hundreds of beautiful quilts at the Quilters' Heritage Celebration, but there were also lots and lots of vendors selling just about every kind of fabric, quilt pattern and quilt gadget imaginable! I really hadn't planned on buying anything while at the show because I'm trying to stick to my "use what you have" plan, but the temptation was too great and I ended up coming home with a bag full of patterns, books, templates and even a bit of fabric. I do have plans for everything that I bought though and the books and patterns will be especially helpful in using up some of my stash fabrics, so I guess I didn't do too bad after all!

P.S. Be sure to stop by Hills Creek Quilter and see the slide show that Anya put together of some of the colorful quilts that were on display in Lancaster this past weekend!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Wonderful Time Was Had By All!

Despite a major downpour (I knew I should have made that selvage umbrella!) and a certain member of our party almost being arrested by the quilt police (Note...don't take photo's in restricted areas because the quilt police really do exist!) I think it's safe to say that we all had a wonderful time at the Quilters' Heritage Celebration yesterday! The quilts were absolutely beautiful and we all remarked about the use of color in this year's quilts...lots and lots of bright colors! I came home feeling both inspired and slightly inadequate, but mostly inspired, so I'm off to do some stitching!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Road Trip!

Monday night Anya was kind enough to share a big bag of selvages with me. She said that it was well worth giving up a few selvages if it would keep me from digging through the garbage. Who could ask for a better friend?
With my selvage shortage taken care of, I decided to make a full size quilted selvage wallet. I used this quilted wallet tutorial from that*darn*kat. It has lots of room for everything...cash, cards and checkbook. The tutorial is well written with clear instructions and it's perfect to make with selvages!
Now that I have all of my selvage bag accessories completed I'm ready to try them out and the Quilters' Heritage Celebration is the perfect place to do just that! Tomorrow a few of my quilty friends and I will leave bright and early for Lancaster. This quilt show is always spectacular and never disappoints me! There are hundreds of gorgeous quilts to drool over and enough vendors to max out all of your credit cards if you're not careful, but what usually gets me in the most trouble is all of the inspiration that I find there! I always come home with so many things that I want to try and at least one new addiction. At last year's show we saw a beautiful Dear Jane quilt and before we even got home we had decided to form a Dear Jane group and make our own Dear Jane quilts. I wonder what new projects and ideas we will come home with this year???

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Raffle Quilt In The Works

Thanks to an "influential friend" it seems that I have found myself in the position of 2010 Exhibit Chairperson for the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild's next quilt show. I had almost forgotten when I signed on as co-chair for the 2008 exhibit that I was also agreeing to be the chairperson for the following exhibit, but last November it all came back to me when Anya handed the chairperson's notebook to me, smiled and wished me luck (seems like she was skipping as she left the room too, but I'm not sure about that).
You might think that two years to plan a little quilt exhibit sounds like a long time...I thought so too when I was helping to organize the 2008 Exhibit, but those two years go by very fast and there is a lot that needs to be done in that short amount of time.
The first thing on my "to do" list is to get started on the quilt that will be raffled off at the end of the 2010 Exhibit. The pattern that we (the Raffle Quilt Committee and myself) have selected for the raffle quilt is, Dressed to the Nines, a pattern that appeared in the November 2003 issue of Quilters Newsletter magazine. It's a relatively simple pattern of nine-patch and half-square blocks that will allow guild members of all skill levels to help with the piecing. The fabric line that we are using is Wildflower Serenade II by Moda and it goes beautifully with the design of the quilt. Once the top is pieced, a group of talented ladies from the guild will hand applique the center medallion and floral border around the outside edge. The finished top will then be hand quilted by guild members. It's going to take some time to complete, but I have no doubt that the MLQG 2010 raffle quilt will be nothing short of dazzling once it is finished!

And speaking of my "influential friend"...stop by Hills Creek Quilter and find out how she is managing to keep me off the streets and out of trouble!

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