Thursday, December 31, 2009

Photos past

This post is for DiscoJen, who is enjoying summer weather while we have a high of 16 degrees. She's been on my case for years to find and develop the film from Scotland 2001. Well Jen my dear, guess what I found cleaning out my closet this week!!!
Dryburgh Abbey, where Sir Walter Scott is buried. We had a view of the ruins from our bathroom window at the Dryburgh Hotel.

The main town on the island of Mull

A view of McLean Castle from somewhere, but I don't recall where.

Hydrangeas (my favorite flowers) in Sterling, in the courtyard of a house on the road between Sterling Castle and the William Wallace Monument (where at the top, an American teenaged boy recited the entire "FREEDOM" speech from Braveheart). Weird the details we remember, huh?

Sterling Castle

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday photos

Yesterday's post was all words, today's will be all photos!
My new dog, Magic in the snow, eating the snow, etc..
The lovely flower arrangements my sister made for the tables.
Christmas lights in a small neighborhood on the way home from Tammy Tadd Designs last Sat.

The fabulous quilting book that the Christmas Kangroo (aka: my most wonderful of all sisters-sister) brought me all the way from Australia!
I totally can't decided which to make first!
The cookbook that I got the amazing horseradish cream sauce and baked carrots recipe from.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I hope everyone had as lovely a Christmas as I did. I spent Christmas eve at the house of dear friends and then had the family and friends over for Christmas day dinner. I was so glad my cousins were able to make it in from Iowa for the holiday. It was a lot of fun, we had about 14 people over and we all ate a lot and played "pass the baby" with my unbelieveably adorable new nephew. I especially enjoyed making the 20-something year old men in attendance hold him. They always look so uncomfortable doing it. All the girls love holding the baby though, and he's all smiley and giggly and has that nice baby smell. He thought the huskies were very funny and would smile and laugh at them when they walked by. Little ones are so great at Christmas. My friend's Great Niece, who's around 4, and I had this conversation on Christmas Eve about a stuffed animal reindeer that was on the couch we were sitting on:

Me - "Wow, this reindeer has ear muffs, a snowball and ice skates. He's got a lot going on, don't you think?"
Nora (giggling hysterically) - "Reindeers don't skate! Reindeers fly!"
Ah, the voice of authority. She totally cracked me up.

I had a TON of projects due by Christmas, which is why I haven't posted in quite a while. I made 2 twin quilts, 4 pillowcases, 3 grocery bags, 2 dish towels and a long table runner. I had pictures of them all that I took at 2:45am Weds morning when I finished them up, but I somehow managed to delete them from my SD card just now. I'm going to have to ask the Secret Squirrel IT guys at my day job if there's anyway to get them back. There was a darling photo I took of our new Husky, Magic, at 3am Christmas morning. I made the mistake of giving the canines water too late in the evening and they were up prancing about at 3am. I was waiting for Robbie to come back in when Magic laid down under the Christmas stockings to wait with me. It was so cute, he looked like he was waiting for Santa!

Given all of the quilting projects that I finished between the first weekend in October and December 22nd, it's a miracle I got dinner on the table Christmas day, much less the tree up, but thanks to help from my wonderful sister and the hubby, we got most of it done. I tried some new recipes this time, most of them were keepers. A couple need some tweeking. I made a horseradish cream from a Nordstroms cookbook that was out of this world. I also tried a different ice cream base recipe for my holiday spice tea ice cream. These two were definitely keepers.

I've spent the last 2 days doing dishes and laundry and vegging in front of Mama Mia and other chick movies while enjoying the winter wonderland weather we have been having. It's been snowing since Christmas night, we probably have 8 inches or more by now. The huskies can't get enough of it. Beaner just goes out there and lays down in it for hours. Even Abbie, my old girl, is energized by it. Beaner and Magic wrestle and chase each other around for hours, stopping only to eat some snow.

I have some photos of the snow and various Christmas items, but blogger won't upload anything just now, so my post will just have to be photoless today. It seems I have some bad photo karma going on this weekend.
I'm off to attempt to put some order back in my sewing room.

Monday, December 7, 2009


A friend at work brought this in for me today. It cracked me up!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dumbo's Bath

I finished a baby quilt for the soon to be granddaughter of a friend of mine. The mom-to-be loved Dumbo as a child and had Dumbo on the shower invitations. I took one of those images and blew it up to extra large sized, traced it onto freezer paper and replicated it in Minky and Chenille.

During my retreat weekend, I made the blocks in a stack and whack, crazy block style. I originally made 25 blocks, and sewed them together in a 5x5 setting. Then I put Dumbo in the middle and he disappeared! The blocks were just too busy. I went into my stash and found a fabulous Moda plaid from a couple of years ago, and it was perfect, but I didn't have enough, so I decided on the pink hearts to border it to make it the correct size. I had to rip out the 9 middle blocks. Jennie suggested that I use them on the back, which I agreed would be a great idea. I surounded the blocks with a pink gingham minky and now the quilt is reversible!

There's nothing more fun then ripping out 3/4 of the quilt you just assembled! Oh well, it just confirms my favorite quilt saying "it's not a mistake, it's a design opportunity." I love how it turned out. I think it's just the cutest and has a lot of great texture for the baby.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I won!!!

Well now, this is exciting! I received an email on Monday informing me that I am the lucky recipient of a Rouenneries charm pack! (For those non-quilters, that's a little packet of 5" squares, one each of  all of the fabrics in the line. We quilters totally love them.)
Why did I get this fabulous prize? It was a blog give away by the Etsy store, 44th Street Fabric . Thanks so much Bev!!!!

I'm not normally a reproductions kind of girl, but this line is GORGEOUS!!!! And it has linens with it. How fabulous is that? It was designed by Kaari Meng, the owner of the  French General store in California, and is based on antique French fabrics.

Winning this packet of gorgeousness is especially exciting for me because I have been stalking this line of fabric since I first saw it in the blog photos from Spring Market.
I know, I'm a total quilting geek. I can't help it. As Pitti-Pat's daughter said about her quilting dorkiness, 'at least your friends appreciate it.' Or something similar.

On another total geek front, can I just say how excited I am that they are doing a new V on ABC? I loved the original with Marc Singer back in the 80's. Now there's 3 whole tv shows that I watch, Psych, Castle and V! Maybe with 3 whole hours to hand stitch I'll get the first block of my Halloween Baltimore done before the end of the year. Or not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The Chicken Catapult!
It's no secret among my friends and family that I really, truly love Williams Sonoma. I especially have an affinity for their shaped Bundt Pans. But seriously, this new chicken roasting pan cracked me up!

Enough said.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mark Lipinski mystery class

These are long delayed, but better late than never!
In July Jennie, Jan and I took the Mark Lipinski Mystery class through Prairie Shop Quilts in Batavia. What a blast! Mark was a good teacher and actually spent time with each and every student, asking them about themselves, their lives, etc. This impressed all of us greatly. Most teachers, nationally renown or not do not do take the time to get to know each of their students, especially when there were like 40 or 50 of us.

The purpose of the class was to open your creative thinking. He said at the beginning that the pattern was ugly and that each person would be changing theirs according to their fabrics.  The photo above is the original design.

This is Mark working on Jennie's quilt, because, of course, our favorite over-achiever (said in the fondest manner possible) was done first. She already knew how to curve piece though, (I believe she's taught classes in it as well) so she did have an advantage going in.

The Tula Pink 'Flutterbys' quilt below is Jan's. Totally loved it. And love the maniacal look on Mark's face.

This is mine. Jennie, Jan and I did this all by our little selves! I completely love it. I think it might be the first thing I work on after the Christmas rush is over. I really want to see it finished and hanging on the wall.

Mark taught us how to curve piece without pinning. I have decided that technique is not for me. I'm a pinner. I have to pin! Jennie had the brilliant idea to make them bigger and cut them down. I think I'm going to employ this method as well. Curved piecing is a pain in the patooty, but I just love the results.
As a side note, in case you haven't heard the bummer news, Mark is no longer publishing Quilt Home magazine. So sad. It made me laugh and had interesting things that you don't find in typical quilting magazines.
Well, I'm off to my quilt retreat w/friends. I hope to complete many things! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creative Endeavors

I have been very busy lately with various retreats, working, creating all manner of items out of fabric, and capturing a dog that I haven't had much time to update the blog. The Christmas crunch is on, and I'm starting to panic, even though it's only October!
Here are some of the things I have been working on lately:

All of these are pins execept the hoopy one. That's either an earring or a wine glass marker. Could go either way. I couldn't believe how fast these came together. I whipped them all up in an evening, and not a solid one at that. I took a couple hours off for dinner and such. The orange flower has a vintage clip earring in the middle. I got the template for the holly and oak leaves out of a couple of applique books. I used pre-cut felt flowers and circles as well as the pre-made felt beads from Handbehg Felts that I got at Tammy Tadd Designs (needless to say, since I work there.) I free cut the leaves behind the flowers.
I was inspired by a couple of different blogs, Betz White and Felt-o-Rama. Both blogs have fabulous tutorials and links to wonderful other tutorials. And really, if I can hand sew these babies, anyone can. You can also use general Aleene's Tacky Glue and glue them together as well. Important Note: Only use the original gold bottle, not the silver quick dry, the quick dry left some schmootz on my felt, but the gold one didn't.
The turtle was the inspiration of my friend Debbie. We were playing with the flower parts at our quilting guild meeting and Debbie pointed out that if you folded two opposite flower petals under, it looked like a turtle. I handed her a needle and thread and told her to have at it! The shell is another of the vintage earrings I had.I thought the wine glass markers would be a great gift to have on hand. You can make a ton in an evening w/just a packet of beads and pre-formed earring hoops all from your local craft store. Display 6 or 8 of them on a nice piece of card stock, wrap in cellophane and keep on hand for that last minute party or hostess gift. Get yourself a nice bottle of wine and the glass markers and you have yourself a nice and thoughtful gift (for those that drink that is).The acorns were made w/two of the beads and small circles of felt glued to the top. I used a seed bead for the little doohicky on the bottom and larger beads for the top stems. It's a toss up between the acorns and the pea pod as to which I like better.
I also made this quilt top:

I put this together at my guild retreat in September. I wanted it to be a large sized throw to give as a gift. Even though I had added 2 rows to the side and 4 to the bottom, it ended up being almost square! I had not taken into account at the time that the cream in-between blocks were really rectangles. It also ended up being almost a queen sized quilt. Once I got the borders on, the ladies at the retreat convinced me that it was too large and way too excellent to give away. I must say that I was easily convinced.
The pattern is Pie Crust by Terry Atkinson, the colored fabrics are from the Moda Bistro line by Deb Strain, the cream is from Riley Blake's Just Dreamy line.

Sophie started playing with the corners that I cut off when mitering and noticed that you could make a pillow out of the corner remnants. Now that's a bonus, miter your corners and get 2 pillows to boot!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Adventures of Brave Sir Robin

Fair warning, this is a long, but amusing story. It’s worth it if you hang on to the end, I promise.
My dog Robbie is officially named Brave Sir Robin after the Monty Python character who features a chicken on his knightly tunic. He’s called this because Brave Sir Robin bravely runs away. Robbie was a stray in our neighborhood an entire winter. He’s good at and loves to be free. He can also jump our 6ft board on board fence, so he has to be tethered to the planet when outdoors. He hasn’t escaped in probably 3 years, so we were lulled into thinking he was over that. Not.I was on a shop hop bus tour as a ‘bus mom’ for Tammy Tadd Designs on Friday and Saturday. We hit 8 shops in 4 states in 2 days. It was action packed. As we left the store in Iowa for Pearl City, Illinois, in the early afternoon on Saturday I received a panicked call from the hubby telling me that I have to get home immediately because he lost Robbie out in Harvard at a forest preserve. I asked him how exactly he expected me to do that, not to mention that I was responsible for the bus along with Mary Lynn, and I couldn’t just leave those responsibilities.
Apparently he had Daisy and Robbie at a Siberian rescue hike event and the leashes got all tangled and as he was untangling them, Robbie pulled and got loose. Robbie had stopped at the edge of the clearing, and I think that if the people trying to help hadn’t lunged and chased him, the hubby might have been able to get him to sit and wait. The good thing was that he had on his collar with all his ID tags, a blue harness and the leash attached to the harness on. He is also microchipped, but unfortunately doesn’t have doggy LoJack. The bad news, it was a very large preserve full of forest and meadowlands w/waist high browning grasses and Robbie would be totally camouflaged in such an area.
As you likely know, my beloved Bug died just over a month ago, and the thought of losing my Robbie too just devastated me. The Tammy and the ladies from TTD and the bus trip ladies were so sweet, their concern and comforting words helped me keep it together long enough to get home and head out in the rain and cold to try and find him. I had fairy tale visions of him hearing my voice and being so excited I had returned, he would run right into my arms.
No such luck. The little wretch hunkered down and hid while we were out in the cold calling him and walking miles of creepy, muddy forest paths in the cold, rain and dark. I called for him until 11:00pm.
We got up early the next morning and made a lost dog poster and were on the road shortly before 8:00am. We were about a half hour out when the minister from the church next to the preserve called and said that he had just seen him laying in the grassy area right next to where we had parked and started out from last night. He ran off when he saw the minister.
This was good news. We know from past experience that Robbie is a creature of habit, and when loose, he tends to stay in one area. My big fear was that he either stepped out onto Route 14 in the dark, where the speed limit is 55mph and got hit by a semi-truck or that his leash got tangled up and he was coyote food.
I called for him all morning, the hubby following out of view at a distance (Robbie would possibly come to me, but not if the hubby were viewable). We saw that he had eaten the pizza the hubby had left out for him the night before. It was left in the spot where the minister had seen him. We knew he had eaten it and not a raccoon because the lid was neatly flipped off and the whole pizza was gone. Not a speck left. As my sister said, if he had had a napkin, it would have been folded neatly next to the box. He apparently thinks the Pizza-Fairy lives in the preserve.
We had contacted all the local authorities, the microchip company and local rescues. I talked to the neighbors who lived behind the preserve. They were all so very nice and helpful. One of the neighbors works at a vet, so I thought she might know where I could get a large animal live trap. That’s one of those traps where it’s a big cage, with a flap on the bottom, that when pressed, it closes the door behind the animal. It’s worked on Robbie before and we felt that since he hadn’t come out for me, he wasn’t likely to and this was our only shot at getting him. The nice lady told me that I should leave a message for animal control, that they have people on call that will get back to me. The McHenry County animal control people were very, very helpful. We set the trap in the spot where the Pizza-Fairy had left the pizza that he ate and covered it w/a comforter to disguise that it's a cage. I then went off in search of a rotisserie chicken to bait the trap with.
I got my chicken and pulled off all the fat and skin and some meat and mixed it in w/the dog food I had brought with. I had positioned my car so that I could sit in it and watch the back of the trap unobtrusively. I walked through the brush to the path and heard a jingle that could only be dog tags. I turned to the left, and who was in the middle of the path? Robbie of course. He saw me and took off like a shot in the other direction. I called to him that I had chicken; he just looked back at me over his shoulder as he ran. What a stinker! I could just picture him yelling a nice Mel Gibson as Braveheart “FRREEEEDDDOOOMM!” as he ran. The good thing was that I knew he was returning to that spot repeatedly and I knew his stomach would eventually get the best of him.
I went back to the car and got out my Halloween Baltimore appliqué and started to stitch figuring I had quite a bit of time to kill. I left the front passenger window open so I could hear the goings on. The hubby had parked in the church parking lot where he was out of site incase the elusive Robbie-bird appeared. Not 15 minutes later, I heard a jingle and I saw Robbie checking out the trap. I sat totally still. He was peeking up around the brush checking out my car. He would duck down; then pop up in another spot, being very watchful. He totally reminded me of that Muppets episode where they sing "Stop Children What's That Sound?"
I had forgotten to throw out the other pizza from the woods that the hubby left out for Robbie when I went to the store and saw it had ants in it, so I had tucked it under the car on the driver’s side. Here’s the thing, Robbie LOVES cheese. He was smelling the pizza. He crept around the back of the car, and I slowly opened my door and peeked out. I talked all soft and happy to him. He was leary. He took two pieces of pizza and ran away down the clearing. He dropped one and started to dig furiously to bury the other. I wondered how much of the other pizza was buried in the forest preserve!
I took the rest of the chicken in its plastic container out of the car and got his attention. I threw him some pieces, trying to reel him in. He refused to get close enough to grab. I decided to try to get him in the car by leaving the back passenger door open and putting the whole chicken on the seat against the other door so he's have to get all the way in to get it. I crept around the car to get behind the door so I could slam it closed when he went in for the chicken. He was on to me though. He would creep around the car and see me, so I would duck down and move. He craned his head around the door and saw me. We went on this way playing hide and seek for quite some time. I notice that he had a pretty good gash in his front leg at that point and was worried about infection if left too long. It looked like it had happened recently.
He finally gave up and scampered away to check out the trap. Unfortunately he bumped the trap just so and sprang it without being in it. He circled it a while trying to figure out how to get at the yummy food inside. I was in my car, and had left the phone connection w/the hubby open the whole time. He suggested that I should lie down in the grass and play like I was hurt. I had actually thought of that earlier in the day, but since I hadn’t seen him at that point, I didn’t think it would work and forgot about it. I thought it might this time though since he was engaging with me.
I took the chicken and went into the brush about half way between the path and my car and laid down, setting the chicken on my stomach. Yes, I was laying in the brush, arms outstretched like a police line drawing with a whole chicken on my belly. I positioned my arm so that it was in line w/the path he would most likely take to the chicken. I was hoping to be able to grab his harness as he passed over my hand. Can you picture this?
I figured that if he didn’t care that I was dying, he’d at least come for the chicken. I made some moaning sounds and he came closer, but not close enough for me to grab the harness or leash. I knew I had to be very quick and twist the harness to tighten it when I caught it because he knows how to pull his leg just so and get out of the harness when someone grabs it.
He started to walk away and I felt I may be losing my best chance to get him before dark, if ever, so I started whimpering like a puppy. He came over and bent into my face and I seized his harness from underneath and twisted. He immediately bucked up and tried to get his leg out, but I had him tight. I swiftly reached around w/my left hand and grabbed his collar and twisted it as well, spilling chicken and chicken juice all down my shirt and pants and into my shoes. I yelled at him to stop and he did.
Boy, did he not look happy at being caught! I fed him some chicken (not that the wretch deserved it) to calm him down, but kept a tight hold on his harness and collar.
The hubby came running over, calling, “get him in the car, quick!” I realized that the front passenger window was still wide open, but the back driver’s window was cracked, so I pulled his leash trough the opening, got him into the car and shut the door, all the while holding his leash through the window. I turned the car on and shut the open window. The hubby was saying “Lock the doors! Roll up the windows! Don’t even leave them cracked!” Of course he also had more to say, but he had told me to roll up the windows, so I couldn’t hear him.
We headed home, the hubby issuing instructions that Robbie was not to be let out of the car until the garage door was completely closed. It took two shampooings to get him clean. Boy, was he dirty for only 36 hours of freedom. I picked at least half a dozen thorns out of his ears and legs. I bandaged his wound. He was all happy that night, like he had never left. Tired too. He kept falling asleep with his head up. I took him to the vet and had his wounds looked at and got anti-biotics, just in case. He has very thin skin and scrapes easily, so he has a bunch of scratches.
We now have strict rules in place for Robbie to be taken out in public, even though the hubby says that he will never take him out of the house or yard again. Robbie is to have a choke chain on, connected to a regular leash (he doesn’t challenge a choker or pull when in one like he does on the harness), he’s also to wear a harness with the 20ft training lead attached to it. I’m heading to the store tonight to get a glow in the dark collar too.
The end!