Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Raining Pom Poms

Hi Everyone and welcome to the Shake Your Pom Pom blog hop!!

I'd like to thank Thearica and Madame Samm for all of the effort they put into arranging these hops. It's a huge amount of work and they've done a great job!

I finally got my beloved Janome back last week and had an already scheduled girls quilting weekend, so I've spent the last 72 hours quilting like a mad woman! I've literally had 5 hours sleep in that 72 hours, so this is going to be short and sweet in order to keep it somewhat coherent. Even though I pulled 2 all nighters, I wasn't able to completely finish my quilt, but it's mostly done.
 I couldn't believe my luck when I found multi-colored blue poms that I think actually look like a rainy day.
This is my in fully assembled quilt top. I put the hot pink rain drops on pre-applique, but found that I couldn't quilt with them on, so I had to snip them off and will reattach them once the quilting is complete. I used my pom poms to symbolize rain drops around some of the cutest umbrellas possible.

I used white metallic thread and quilted a Morton Salt girl silhouette in the focus, beaded umbrella. I used blue metallic thread to quilt the umbrellas and rain.
My dear friend Sophie happend to be at the quilting weekend, which was lucky for me since she can draw and I can't. Stick figures are my forte, so the salty girl was well out of my league. Thanks Soph!!!
Unfortunately I had a mishap and some of the colors started to bleed onto the gray, so I had to quickly wash and dry my unfinished quilt, pins and all. I would not recommend this, but I was terrified the bleeding wouldn't come out if I didn't deal with it immediately.
This is it's current state:

Thanks for visiting and putting up with my sleep deprived ramblings. I'm off to sleep for about 14 hours now.

Here's my fellow Pom Pom Hoppers, I hope you get to visit them all and enjoy their Pom Pom Shaking as much as I do!!
April 29

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Showers....

Well it's official, my beloved machine is broken! I have been without a machine for 3 weeks now and I've got one more to go! The bar that holds the needle and goes up and down is worn out and has to be replaced. Things are bound to wear out, so I really can't complain, and considering I've had it 11 years and I sew about 5 days a week, I've probably been lucky it's made it this far without needing major repair.

In the meantime I've been talked into joining the Shake Your Pom Poms blog hop at the end of this month by Thearica. I debated it for a while, because I couldn't come up with a project that included pom poms that the dogs wouldn't eat. Koda has been systematically redecorating my reading room curtains by plucking the pom poms off the trim. He chews them, decides they don't taste all that good and leaves spitty fringe all over the room for me to clean up.

Then it hit me. I bought the Laundry Basket Quilts "Dancing Umbrellas" pattern a couple of weeks back when my friend Pattie and I stopped at a local quilt shop:
As I totally love cute umbrellas, my first thought was "oooo, wouldn't this be cute in bright, happy fabrics!"
As I only have my small travel machine, which is fine for piecing but not heavy duty quilting, I decided I could at least get the blocks together fairly quickly. Then I realized it was Watchathon week and Comcast has all of the seasons of Downton Abbey for free. So I sat on my hiney most of the week and watched and watched. I did try to be somewhat productive though. I have 14 umbrellas together, not bad for the weekend, don't you think?
Here are my first two blocks: 
They aren't appliqued down yet, I just posed them because I was excited to see them all together.
I've mostly used Tanya Whelan's fabrics (who has a gorgeous new shabby chic line coming out that I'm sure I will need to have some of). I did through in a couple of Sarah Jane's Out to Sea line because I totally would love a real life Narwhal umbrella! The background is Kaufman's Mix Master Fizz by Patrick Loose.

Well that's all for today. I think I'll post the rest of my vacation while waiting for my machine to be fixed. I can't possibly forget to share the time I spent with the lovely quilting ladies at Borderland Fabrics in Jedburgh!

Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Living Like Nancy Drew

Well, it's here! My day to post my Nancy Drew project.
The good news is all of my ridiculously small flying geese are done and the top is put together. 
The bad news, when I went to started to quilt it I had a machine / tension issue which I tried to resolve myself. I got the machine back together, with only one extra screw! I hope it's not an important one. The issue came back within a short time, so my project is sadly not complete.

I loved Nancy Drew as a young girl. My friends and I read and re-read every book a billion times. My all time favorite were the originals with the blue and orange covers. Nancy was smart, independent, and fearless, which are all things I strive to be in my life. These are also qualities that we should teach all girls to be, in my opinion!

Nancy maze quilt top.

Nancy's following the clues.

Flying geese lead the path to the center.

All pinned a little quilted.
I picked some of my favorite sayings from Nancy's Guide to Life for the white areas. It will say things like:
Boys like girls who doggedly pursue their goals (or prey, as the case may be) - The Secret of the Wooden Lady
Clumsy, fat men who are looking at middle age through a rear-view mirror should not attempt to keep pace with lithe young women. - The Whispering Statue
A young lady with some judo skills can take care of unwanted advances in short order. - The Whispering Statue
I keep my Guide to Life on my desk at work, next to my Congolese "Speak no Evil" gorillas and my mold spore.
 I hope to get my machine fixed asap, so I hope you all can check back and see the final product!

In the meantime, please visit my fellow Nancy Drew bloggers and see what they've been inspired to make with Get a Clue with Nancy Drew!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Things that make me smile Sunday

Ok, this is going to be a super short, sweet and picture filled post because I'm in the final time crunch to finish my Nancy Drew quilt and I've already lost an hour thanks to the time change last night.
These are all things that made me smile today:
Cute sleeping dogs.
Freaking adorable tea things.

Fun butter dishes
(I know, it's weird.
What can I say,  I like cute butter dishes,
especially if they have wee sheep on the them.)

Gorgeous pink and white tulips.
Finally finding Nessie!

Having my quilt hanger (aka: curtain rod) hung up.

Finishing the cutting down of 150+ flying geese from 2x4 to 1x2.
(A serious miscalculation on my part for the Nancy Drew quilt)

My Ness pink and blue tartan purses and cow.
How can you not smile at a plaid cow?
Chocolate mouse eclairs from Ambrosia in Barrington.
(Thanks June!)
Dogs who shouldn't be on couches but are anyway.

And last, but certainly  not least;
 Ness pink and navy tartan wellies under my chalk board.
( I made the chalk board out of an old cabinet door and vintage chalkboard slate from an 1800's schoolhouse in Rockford which was renovated into lofts.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


We interrupt this fabulous vacation for an important quilting announcement and a dose of reality.

I'm unfortunately back from my vacation, which means I'm back to real life. I have to say, vacation is so much better than real life. I will get back to the vacation photos and travel log soon,but for the moment I have to scramble to get my Nancy Drew quilt done in time for the blog hop! I'm scheduled for March 12th, and have many flying geese to go before I sleep.

While the things that made me want to run away from home are still there, I have a different attitude about them now. As an added bonus, I'm also no longer intimidated/self conscious about going into that male bastion, the free weight room, in the health club. It's funny how spending so much time on your own, dealing with everything yourself and meeting new people teaches you about yourself and your fortitude. I found these two quotes that kind of sum it all up for me:

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

I had a fun reminder of my trip this week. One of my bosses happened to be in London for meetings while I was staying with Anne and Matt and he kindly consented to hauling my London purchases home for me in the suitcase I bought at an OxFam charity shop for 5 GBP. (Little did he know how much the fabric and books weighed when he agreed to this!) This is also the boss that keeps me in Belgium chocolates from his travels there, and also hauled my loot home from the New Orleans estate sale in March, so he's a really fabulous guy in my book regardless of all the whining about how heavy my suitcase was (consider please that I had three 75lb checked bags and two 40-50lb carry-ons that I hauled all over Scotland for 3 weeks and through 2 airports all by myself). I brought him a lovely bottle of Scottish whiskey for his pains.
Cath Kidston happiness!
It was like Christmas again this week as I unpacked my English goodies, which consisted mostly of Cath Kidston and Liberty of London products. I was really glad to be there during sale time, because I could get some things at Liberty that I wouldn't have been able to afford if not on sale.

Ah Liberty of London, how do I love thee, let me count the ways....
We got a proper snow this week. I love snow, and I love the snow in my new house. It's so pretty with all of the trees and deer that I will now bore you with photos of trees in the snow.
View from the Reading Room
Birdbath in the snow.
View from the deck.
Garden fence
House from the street.
The contrast of the branches in the snow at dawn was really striking.

My glorious pine tree.

I love how the needles look furry on this pine when it snows.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A perfect day

The day after skiing and my spectacular face landing, everything in my body pretty much hurt and it was raining torrentially, so I decided to stay in. I spent a truly lovely day working on my wool appliqué project and watching the rain and mist on Loch Ness.
It's important to take some time on vacation and just relax. There have been so many vacations I've had that were so crazy full and busy that I was more exhausted when I got home than when I left, so I really try to take some time to just chill.
January 25th was Burns Night, which celebrates the Scottish national bard, Robert Burns (referred to as "Rabbie Burns"). I decided, when in Scotland, go to a Burns Night dinner! I found a dinner just across the street from the Abbey at the Lovat Hotel. (As a completely off track, side note, a lovely woman told me that she has nae use for him as he was a total "male chauvinist, well endowed, womanizing scalawag who had an anti-social, sexual disease." She also used the term 'gobsmacked' which totally made my day.)
Anyhoo, the Burns night dinner features the Presentation of the Haggis as it is piped in by the bag pipes. The Selkirk Grace is said:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Then the host reads the 'Address to the Haggis' (which is very long, so if you want to read it, google "address to the haggis" by Burns) and stabs the haggis, making it ooze out in a completely unappetizing fashion.
After the stabbing of the haggis, you get to toast it with whisky. I completely choked, I'm not a whiskey drinker. Finally, you eat the haggis. Our haggis was served in a fancy, gourmet fashion - haggis cannelloni on neeps, tatties and puffed rice. It was really quite good. Modern haggis in not made of the intestines and other left over innards of sheep. It's main ingredient now is liver. Still not my fav, but in a pasta shell with turnip/potato puree under it and a lovely gravey, it was pretty tasty. I laughed when I saw the description 'haggis cannelloni' and said "it's a lot like Charles Stewart, the Italian Scot." I have managed to avoid the haggis on my previous trips to Scotland, but I decided it was disguised enough this time to give it a try.

The food was all excellent (see the menu and pics). The dessert had pop rocks on the top which the ladies at my table called 'star dust'. It was a fun surprise. There was bag piping and traditional Highland dancing to entertain us between the courses. The Highland Sword Dance was fun to see in person. Dinner is followed by a Ceilidh (pronounced 'kaylee'), which is dancing. One of the ladies at my table exclaimed "Oh! A Disco! We like Disco." I told her that I didn't think it would be the kind of dancing she was envisioning.

The best part of the evening was the company. The first people I met upon arrival at the hotel happened to be my downstairs neighbors at the abbey, Bridget and Otto, a retired couple who used to run a hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Bridget ran the hotel and Otto did all the cooking. Otto's English is broken, and my Swiss-German is non-existant, but we were totally able to talk about food with no translation issues! I was so thrilled when they invited me to dinner at their apartment!!

I was seated with three sisters and their husbands who were in Ft. Augustus for a get away weekend from Lancaster. They were all so very nice and we had a lovely conversation over dinner and afterwards in the bar. Michelle and I also participated in the traditional dance "Stripping the Willow" during the Ceilidh. There were two lines of people facing one another, and a LOT of twirling, confusion and laughing involved. Nobody had a clue what they were doing, but all were having a great time. I now know where American country dancing comes from.

To top the evening off, I could hear the band playing "Bad Moon Rising" as I strolled home to the abbey with my super cute umbrella, in the light rain. Oh, and it was a day until the full moon.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enjoying the snow

Since the Eastern half of Scotland (just on the other side of the mountains that border Loch Ness) had a few days of snow, I decided that it was time to go skiing and headed off to the Cairngorm Mountain ski facility. This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that I haven't been skiing in almost 20 years, if you don't count the ill fated trip to the Villa Olivia hill a couple of years back where I spent more time on my hiney than on my skis.

Since it had been so long, I wisely decided to invest in lessons. You see, skis are shaped differently now than they were back when I was half way decent at skiing. They are a lot shorter and curvier now and you balance on them differently to get them to go the way you want. And I am 20 years older, which puts a whole different spin on it as well
Davey was a great teacher. I won't lie, he scared the crap out of me when he took my poles away about five minutes into the lesson. Much to my amazement, I ski better without them! I fell a few times, two of which were pretty spectacular. The first I didn't turn in time and went up some big rocks and was grateful I'm flexible because what my legs did would have resulted in pulled muscles for most people. The second was when I got cut off by some guy and I went arse over teakettle multiple times and landed on my face. I heard my nose crunch and was terrified that I had broken it. Luckily I hadn't. It was bruised and swollen, but not to the point where you'd notice if you didn't know what it looked like normally, so I figure I got off pretty lightly. When the ski instructor looks worried, you figure it looked like a pretty bad fall. He told me to just sit down next time I can't stop.

One of the things he did was point out skiers with good and poor techniques. He said "See how the men have no form? They don't care what they look like or if they get hurt. The blokes just want to go as fast as possible and beat their mates to the bottom. Now women, about the age of 13/14 start to care about what they look like. So watch how the woman go slow, work on their technique and go for the safer routes. They want to look good and not get hurt. I want you to be in between those two styles." I thought these were some very shrewd observations of the genders which it also ended up applying to my second snow sport enjoyment, dog sled racing!

Last Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the Aviemore Dog Sled Race. Aviemore is the town at the base of the Cairngorm mountain range. One of the race marshals told me that in thirty years they've only had snow around 4 times. They usually race on these chariot-esk wheely cart things, so people aren't as good on the sleds because they don't get to use them very often.

I didn't really miss my dogs until I saw the dog sled dogs. They were so freaking excited and happy!!! There was much wooing. howling and tail wagging. I teared up a bit once. Huskies are really friendly dogs so the owners let people come up and pet all the dogs. Only the Nordic breeds are allowed to race in the Aviemore Race, but a couple of teams brought their other dogs with that they have on the teams when not in the race. Once couple had two German Springer Spaniels. I commented that I had never seen a spaniel on a race team. The woman told me that one team has a Cocker Spaniel and then pointed to the end team and said they have a Bichon on their team!!! I thought it was just like Yukon Cornelius in Rudolf.

I was standing at a turn near the end of the race to take photos and thought it was really interesting how the men all went tearing around the curve, losing control and tilting onto one runner while every last woman racer took it at a nice, slower pace and had control the entire time.

The view from the top of the Cairngorm Mountain was truly spectacular, but I wisely chose to not bring my camera or phone with me on the slopes so most of my photos are of the dog sled race. My favorite was the guy in the goofy hat.
The first photo was a dog I seriously wanted to put in my pocket and take home. She was a miniture Husky, only about mid-calf high on me and the absolute sweetest thing ever!!! The moose next to her is a Malmute who acted just like Koda. He was hysterical. When I went on from petting him to the darling little one, he pawed at me and when that didn't work to get my attention, he threw himself on the ground and rolled over for a belly rub.

The third photo has a dog riding with the racer on the sled. The dog must have injured itself or was having a problem making it not able/safe to run. They call it 'bagging the dog'. The rest of the photos are of the race, Huskies/Malamutes and the Cairngorms across the loch.

My favorite is the series of 3 pictures w/a whole slew of huskies on their stakes willy nilly then when them all focused one direction. The final photo shows them staring in rapt attention at their owner, who I thought was either rather brave or totally stupid to say to them "What, you want my cookie? Yuuummmm cookie!" He must have been very confident that he had them well secured, because if nothing else, a Husky is extremely food oriented.
The last picture is of one of the wheely carts that they race in when there's no snow. That woman was so color coordinated that even her transportation crates in her truck were matching purple. She told me her husband had spray painted them to match for her. Because you know, it's better to look good....