Sunday, April 25, 2010


This is the first violet found on our property.  Its significance is emotional.  You see, my grandmother, who died in 1965, loved violets.  She and I would walk the grassy path between her house and her sister's, and she would swoop down and pick up all the violets along the way, gathering a tiny, delicately fragrant bouquet by the time we arrived at my (great) Aunt Mary's house. 
Invariably, no matter where I lived once I grew up and moved away from my family's home, if there weren't violets there at my arrival, they appeared as if by magic within a year or two.  I would always celebrate these blossoms as evidence that my own special guardian angel  had found me again and was once more watching over me.  I cannot tell you the peace that that gives me to think that I am so destined to be forever spiritually linked with my grandmother, who grew up poor and hard working but always found joy in the simplest things and whose heart held us all in its embrace.
No one else in the neighborhood has violets growing on his/her property....

This is my best bud, quilter extraordinaire, and psychological twin, Mary Nielsen.  We do lots of quilting together, and talking, and eating of Good N Plenty and M&M's.  Recently she came to visit in order to teach my guild how to use the Square in a Square ruler.  And then she stayed to "play" with fabric with me for the next three days. 
So, we dug out our Jodi Barrows books and rulers and about 22 of us stared at Mary like deer in the headlights, but eventually her patient explanations and demonstrations took hold, and we got down to work.  Below is my little Constellation Star quilt -- a table topper.  If I had it to do over again, I would make the red and white striped squares with the blue star points be at the four corners to define the quilt a little better.

Once our visit was over, I quickly got back to work on a customer's quilt that had been waiting in the wings for the last week.  Below is Gussie's Quilt.  The white areas are for future applique.  Gussie wanted to have the background done first.  This is a novel approach for me, but I happily pitched in and gave her some geometric lines for the top and bottom borders and then used four echoed sunflowers with MacTavishing behind them to fill the 26" square in the middle.  What do you think?

Here's a closeup of the sunflowers.

So that's it for today -- grandma's watching over me, Mary is safely back home creating new quilts to marvel over, and I'm back in the saddle with my work.  It's a wonderful life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to spend a sunny day

Look at this picture of the loveseat in our study.  What do you see?  A quilt on the back -- more about that later, and a pillow.

Take a closer look at the pillow.  No truer words were ever spoken, except in the case of Jesse James these days....  Well, anyway, what I wanted to be doing today was to be out in the sunshine on my hubby's motorcycle while he drove us lazily through the countryside, enjoying the 86 degree weather and the myriad of twisting and turning lanes in this neck of the woods.

But no, what am I doing instead?  I'm cleaning.  In fact, I've been cleaning for the last week, off and on.  We have guests coming for the first time to our new house tomorrow.  They are former neighbors from the old neighborhood in Silver Spring, MD.  She's a great gal, but she's also the world's most exacting housekeeper, while I am one of the most lackadaisical ones.  If there's space to get into a room and a place to sit, it's clean enough for me. 

But back to the love seat.  I bought the quilt top from one of my guild ladies during our annual guild yard sale.  It just happened to match that love seat, so I quilted it, and I put it on the back of this couch, where one of my dogs, Jet, drapes himself for naps from time to time.

And why is this important?  Because I had to wash it two times to get all the dog fur off it, just in case my company sits on it and gets all furry.

The only thing I did today for fun was to plant a tomato plant.  Just one.  I'm an optimist.  I believe it will live.  My husband says I should just buy all my plants already dead and cut out the middle man.  Cynical man.  I figure that I can't eat all the tomatoes two plants can produce, so I'll plant just one and hope I remember to water it daily.  That way if it dies, I'll only be missing 20 tomatoes instead of 40.  (scrambled logic...)

And basil!  How can you live without basil?  Last year's basil plant produced so many big strong leaves that I just about had it on everything, even my cereal!  There are two things that must exist in my food groups:  pickled ginger and basil.  Interestingly, I have not yet found a recipe that calls for both.  Maybe that would be like critical mass, and my stomach would explode.  Actually, there are three things -- one must also have chocolate....

Ack!!!  No sooner had I vacuumed and dusted and polished and gotten out the wet mop and the Murphy's oil soap than my dogs trotted in happily, the red of Virginia clay clinging to their feet.  They had dug up a garden again.  Well, it's not a garden yet.  It's supposed to become a series of water falls with a little pond some day.  They have dug up this garden several times a year since we moved down here.  But this time I have a plan.  I have bought some of those white picket fence thingy's at the Home Depot, and I'm going to put them around this doggone garden/water fall area and try to keep them out of it -- at least until the company goes!  But first to tackle their feet before they ruin all my hard work.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blossoms everywhere

My pink dogwood has its first bloom.  Seems a little shy around the other, older plants, but it'll find its way.   The sprinkler system keeps it watered every morning.  I walked around the house and watered the other plants and was rewarded by this effusive burst of color from the phlox in the terraced garden.  What you see with the phlox is a rambling rose that creeps over everything like ground cover and blooms prolifically all summer long.                                                                                            

And down at the dock, a large pot holds a very happy hibiscus and pansy combination, which gives wonderful color to the weathered wood.


To round out the day nicely, I have finished and trimmed my Sloanie Stashbuster Quilt, and will bind it this afternoon.


If you really stretch your imagination, you can envision the angular equivalent of crop circles, only these would be flower quadrangles, interspersed with tilled fields (the black and white rows) as seen from an airplane high up in the sky.  Don't scoff.  Try it.  (OK....... maybe that's stretching it a bit TOO much.)

I used a vineyard-themed pattern for the full blocks, both colored and black and white, and then put a curved and gridded triangle in the setting blocks.  This was a wonderful way to use up my Kaffe Fassett scraps;  the black and white ones came from the leftovers from the black and white guild challenge, during which I made the Caribbean jacket that I showed you in a previous post.  Maybe you would like to see a close up of the patterns.


But how is it that no sooner do I use up a whole bunch of scraps than more appear, as if by magic?  Do they hide in my shelves and sneak out at night into my scrap basket?  Do quilt fairies bring them while I'm asleep?  Well, whatever it is, I am LOADED with scraps these days and looking for a great project to use them up.  Any suggestions?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunshine on my shoulder...

You know how you wait through the bleakness and the cold and the insane snowfalls of winter, dreaming of spring? Well, it's here, and every muscle in my body hurts to prove it. Why do we have to go out and buy forty seven plants and fertilizer and topsoil and bend over to plant all these and to walk around and pick up fallen branches and twigs on the lawn and then decide that it needs a little trim here and there so it looks well groomed and then as if that's not enough, one MUST put posies in large pots at the front door and in front of the garage or else heavens! It will look like we're not in the spirit of things! Well, I mean to tell you -- I haven't bent and stretched and lifted and climbed and lugged the whole winter, and my body is on strike! I can barely walk today. What ever possessed me?!

But you know how cute pansies can be. They're like puppies, or kittens if you're of that persuasion, and you just can't pass them by without envisioning how adorable they will be in their tub, greeting all who come to your door. No matter that it's mostly the UPS lady, and that she drops and runs because the dogs are always barking just inches away behind the front door.

But I fell sway to my fantasies and planted some yesterday anyway. The sun is shining today on them, making each dear little scrunched up face look like it's blinking to keep from getting blinded. Like every proud mama, I had to take a picture: here they are, my kinder flora (interpret that as flower children).

I am also happy to say that I finally put some holes in one of the walls in this new house and hung a sunflower and chickadee quilt that I made some time ago.

Hmmm. You can't see how cute the little birdhouses are around the periphery with their wooden buttons for doors. Here's another, closer shot. There, that's better.

The sunflower and birds are appliqued, and the birdhouses are rectangles and prairie points sewn into one of the borders. The pattern is called Sunflower Cafe by Sue Harvey and Sandy Boobar. It can be found in the August 2008 Quilter's World magazine. My friend, Mary, made one of these and put it in her powder room. After I saw it, I just had to go out and buy that magazine (about a year later!) and make one for myself!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hot already!

What happened to spring?! It hit 90 degrees down here in Ebony today. I went out to buy pansies, dogwoods (one pink and one white), three purple lilacs and three blue phlox, but no way was I going to dig in the ground during this heat! I watered them after placing them in the shade and then dashed into the house to blissful airconditioning -- ahhhhhhh.
While straightening up my studio on the main floor of the house, I was putting away some quilts that I had entered in my guild's quilt show at the local library. We don't know yet who won anything as far as viewer's choice goes, but I thought I'd share with you one of my entries. I used oodles of feathers on this stack-n-whack, and the librarians told me that it got lots of comments.

DH promises to stay home tomorrow to help plant all those flowers and trees. He has taken up go cart racing these days, so I have to entertain myself. Left to my own devices, I tend to buy plants and fabric, so he should count himself lucky that I didn't bring home more than I did, ha ha.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Little by little

It's catch up day today. I finished my Easter Egg jacket while visiting my sister last week.

Then I didn't like the neck of my Caribbean Summer jacket that I had made as part of a black and white challenge for the guild, so I fixed that one today.

And I quilted a charity quilt for the local orphanage today as well. It's a twin size and very bright! I hope the young lady that gets it likes it.

And here are some of the pictures of the final product for the Golden Retriever quilt. I made the laurel wreaths with my IntelliQuilter, and they really enhance the embroidered blocks.

Here's a close up of the center block. I used metallic gold thread on that wreath.

Now I have a lamb roast in the oven and sleepy dogs at my feet. I think I'll fix a tall glass of ice water and put my feet up till hubby comes home. Ahhhhhh.....