Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post-Christmas Cold

By 'cold' I mean it in both senses of the word. Our high temperature yesterday as 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

My lofty goals for the winter break of cleaning and organizing all the closets (one per day) and quilting a full-size quilt was waylaid by a head cold. I am back on track today. I did manage to spray-baste the quilt the other day and started quilting today. I am using 3 sizes of star shaped cookie cutters and tracing them onto the quilt as part of the free-motion pattern and joining them with swirls and loops.

Damon's mom Pat creates an original Christmas ornament every year for everyone in the family. This is this year's ornament - a hand-sewn felted wool dove.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Decorating with Quilts

I don't usually keep many of the quilts I make but I do tend to keep those I can decorate with during the holidays. Here is the hand-applique Hawaiian quilt hanging in the dining room.

There is also the compass star piece on the dining room table.

The first thing I made that was a holiday decoration was the wool holly wreath. It was hand-sewn with blanket and running stitches using pearl cotton. The red 'berries' are buttons.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NYC during the Holidays

Survived a trip to NYC during the holiday season. Here is a picture of the tree in Rockefeller Center. It is a bit blurry because I needed to use the night setting on the camera. The crowds were incredible!

Across from the plaza is Sak's 5th Ave. There light display is also impressive. You can see all the snowflake lights on the side of their building. But what you cannot see is that every now and again they play Christmas music and the lights blink along in time with the music.

Just to assure you that this was not just a holiday trip into the city I am including a picture of myself with the poster that Holly and I presented at the ACRL/NY conference on Friday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

600 Half-Square Triangles

Its Done!!!!

This quilt started as a bunch of fat-quarters I bought the 2nd year I started quilting (2004?). I bought a variety of prints in 4 colors - black, pink, beige, and green. The fabrics sat in a box for a few years but about a year and a half ago I made the half-square triangles using the Thangles method and ended up with a box of 600 of them. I had the top pieced together by May 2009, but I just machine quilted it in Nov. 2009 and put the binding on.

The front of the quilt actually has only 576 (24 x 24) of the HSTs but I plan on using the last 24 on the back as part of the hanging sleeve and the label.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Quilting and Decorating

Last weekend's construction project is really paying off this week. I went to the home renovation store and purchased Styrofoam insulation boards to level my quilting tables up to the height of my sewing machine. This makes it much easier to machine quilt quilts. Especially if you are doing free-motion quilting. I have been quilting a little bit for the the past couple of days and I only have a little bit more to finish the quilt you see. I have been using a basic wandering stipple style of quilting.

Now that the cooking and cleaning is done for Thanksgiving (except for a few more dishes) I have switched gears and started my holiday decorating. I remembered yesterday that last year I was having problems with a couple of the strands of tree lights so the decision for this year was - by all new lights or get a new pre-light tree. New pre-lit tree won out. Found a 7 foot pre-lit for $129. Considering that led lights were running about $16 for 100 lights and I needed 600 I thought the $33 dollar difference was worth not having to string lights for the next several years.
You may also notice if you had seen our previous Christmas trees that this one is considerably bigger. So while our past tree was stuffed with all our ornaments this one has plenty of room for expansion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Head Start on the Cooking

The Thanksgiving holiday cooking has been underway. Yesterday I baked these Chocolate-pumpkin brownies. Follow the link to the recipe. I will taste-test them today to be sure the are good enough for our guest, but if the batters are anything to go by they should be fabulous. I think this was the first time I have made brownies from scratch (the box mixes are so convenient). One change to the recipe I would recommend is not to use a double-boiler to melt the chocolate and butter - just microwave it - easier, quicker and fewer dishes. It says to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, but mine were done right at 30 minutes.

Damon was also busy cooking - or in this case making candy. The picture is of some of the torrone candy cut up for serving. He found a new recipe and it turned out really well. We also discovered that parchment paper works really well to keep the candy from sticking to itself and everything else. Damon made two flavors vanilla and lemon, both with almonds. It is a good thing we have friends coming over - don't want this amount of goodies around the house to ourselves.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quilt Guild Tree Decorating

For the past 3 years the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild of New York has participated in a fund raising event where local groups and businesses decorate Christmas trees and they are raffled off.
This is a picture of the group of us that decorated the tree on Sunday. Mary Lou, Kitty, Sandy (aka Sarge), Deborah, and me.
The tree theme this year was the 'Warmth of Winter'. Handmade decorations included mini-quilts, felt hot coco mugs, and mittens.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Retreat Report

Its been over a week since the annual fall Wadhams quilting retreat but between unpacking and going strait back to work (lots going on due to budget cuts to the college) I haven't had the time to take photos or post any info.

The first thing I worked on was a WIP (Work In Progress). About 2 years ago I was learning to do curved piecing and made all the blocks in the middle of this quilt. At the retreat I added the thin inner border and did the top diamond border and the bottom off-set flying geese border. I ran out of the black background fabric so once I pick up more if it I will finish it with 2 side borders. This quilt does not follow any pattern I am just making it up as I go along.

I also packed up a bunch of my fall themed batik fabrics and found a pattern called "Down Memory Lane" in the book Successful Scrap Quilts: From Simple Rectangles by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe. All the patterns in the book use 2 inch x 3 1/2 inch rectangle pieces of fabrics to make the blocks. So it is a lot of little pieces.

I did all the cutting and piecing while at the retreat so it is pretty impressive I got all the blocks done and started joining them into 4-block mega blocks - what you see here are the 12 mega blocks laid out. I still need to add a small border to the edges and then I will bind it with some of the leftover scraps.

By Monday I was a bit burned out on working on the bigger projects so I switched back to my old stand-by the New York Beauty blocks. I am using the blocks from Karen Stone's pattern and using my fabric scraps to make the blocks. Here are 4 of the latest.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Evil Twin

I found a way to create my own evil twin!
I was playing with the web camera features on the laptop and found a way to make myself a twin. Kind of difficult to tell which one is which - but I guess that is the whole point to twins.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Checking Progress

I have been slowly making New York Beauty blocks since last summer from my fabric scraps and decided to lay them out to see how many I had and to see if I could find a design I liked. I think this pattern is my favorite so far. I would need at least 9 more blocks just to finish this design. Of course it would also need a border or two.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to Sewing

I have been a bit distracted and preoccupied with traveling, the quilt show, work and all the usual busywork of living and have done almost no sewing since spring. I have signed up for the Stashbuster (a Yahoo! group) No-Buy challenge starting on Nov 1st. So I hope I will have more time for sewing.
I decided to start small. Here are two small gift bags for Christmas gifts. Already tied up and ready to go. Plus they can be re-gifted so they are a green idea too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quilt Show Set Up

The quilt show set up was yesterday. We started just after 3pm and I left after the last quilt was hung up just after 9pm. We might have been out a bit sooner but the last row in the gym had set up with 8' pieces where they should have used 6' and of course they ran out of room! We told them they had to swap out all the quilts on 8' and put them on 6'.
The Bailey Ave. School is now packed with quilts. It is amazing how full it is. Everywhere you turn you are looking at a quilt. I took my camera but the batteries died - hopefully I will get some pictures from other folks taking pictures.
As I will be the one in charge of the set up of the next show in 2011 I have taken copious notes and what things needed to be done and what emergency items we needed - drills, saws, etc...

Friday, October 9, 2009

In preparation for my presentation at the Successful Teaching conference in Corning, NY in 2 weeks I have been playing with the video and audio equipment and software in the Faculty technology lab. Thought I would see how posting to the blog would work.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Windows!

Here are the new windows from the inside. The contractor just needs to prime the drywall and all the inside work will be done. We are doing the finish painting. Next week they will do the finish work to the outside, including putting up new siding.

I really like the new windows - a bit bigger than the miss-matched set we had. And now we have a really nice wide sill. I have started researching what sort of window treatments I want.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

There is a Hole in the House

Here are the 'Before' pictures. We had already taken down the shutters outside and started moving out the living room furniture. So these are the old windows - mismatched and not aligned.

And here are a couple of pictures of the 'During'. The hole in the wall got a bit bigger the next day. I am hoping when I get home today we will have a few windows installed. The goal is 3 windows that match and all line up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Full Day

Saturday was a full day. I left the house at 8:30am for the quilt guild meetings and didn't get home till 5pm. The meetings went well but they there were lots of details with the quilt show that needed to be ironed out.

I figured on a pretty quiet evening when I got home - but surprise the new laptop I ordered arrived (3 days early). So I spent the evening setting up the system and software.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Web Image Toys

I have been playing with some of the free cool image tools on the web this week so here is one of those images. This is from a site that lets you build an avatar/cartoon of yourself (or anyone else). They then e-mail you the image and you can use it pretty much anywhere. The only mistake I made on this one way that I forgot to change the eyebrow color to brown instead of black. Otherwise I think it is pretty close to what I look like. Damon also went to the site and made an image of himself that he is using on FaceBook - I am not posting it here as his cartoon self is making a rude hand gesture.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Catching up in the Garden

The garden was very busy with me away the past week or so. As you can see the sunflowers are now in bloom. I have a couple tiny tomatoes starting to form and the blueberries are starting to turn blue. Of course the busiest part of the garden was the weeds. Damon's bed of peppers is overrun with weeds - some as tall as the pepper plants themselves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ready for Warm Weather - should it arrive

No, its not the weather that has Boris feeling down. He went to the groomer's this week. As usual he comes back looking a bit more like a sheep than a Newfoundland. But he should be more comfortable if we ever do warm up this summer.
Went out to lunch with a colleague today and it was so nice out (not raining) we went down to the Naked Turtle on the docks to eat outside by the water.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ending the Quilting Hiatus

I knew I wouldn't get to spend much time sewing the first half of the summer due to a conference and a trip but even after I was back home things (like broken fridges) conspired against getting any sewing done - or even started.
So today, finally, I sewed this New York Beauty block. I have high hopes that this will not be a false start and I will be making headway shortly on my current list of projects.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Fridge

So here is the new fridge. Its about the same size as the other one, but about an inch higher. We have a bit more room, as this one doesn't have the ice maker or water dispenser - neither of which we ever used.
I didn't have huge expectations for my birthday, no party, no cake, no going out to dinner or even fireworks, but what I had hoped for was a single day of me doing what I wanted to do - no housework or other required drudgery. As that did not happen I have decided I get a birthday re-do this year. Some day this month I will take a vacation day and just do what ever I want to do.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

To celebrate it looks like I will be going out and buying a new fridge. The last two days we have noticed the fridge seemed to be getting warmer (the freezer is fine). Damon cleaned all the coils and I found a web site that said to check the connection between the fridge and the freezer (ours was iced over). But even after addressing both issues the fridge doesn't seem to be cooling down any. So I plan on going out and looking for a new fridge later today.

In other exciting and uplifting news the rain continues, and continues, and continues. Yesterday we had 3 downpours and 2 showers. Today (and its only 7:30am so far) we have had 1 shower with more predicted for later. It felt like a real accomplishment on Thursday to rush out and actually get half the lawn mowed before it rained again.

The plants don't seem to mind so far, but blight has been reported in the area and if it stays this wet for much longer we may have some garden loses. In the meantime you can see we are pretty lush and green, if damp.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Highlights from the Oregon Coast

We visited several towns along the coast including Cannon Beach, Tillamook, Newport and Florence. We also visited several lighthouses. Pictured here is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Agate Beach. We also visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Just about every town along the coast has a bead shop and most have quilt shops. Thanks to recommendations I made a few quilt shop stops. The Center Diamond shop at Cannon Beach was wonderful - big selections of fabrics, books and patterns. We also stopped at the Latimer Quilt & Textile Museum in Tillamook.
Other Quilting related stops I recommend (but not on the coast) are the Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, OR and the Button Emporium & Ribbonry in Portland.

Highlights from Portland, OR

Started vacation in Portland Oregon during the Rose Festival so of course we needed to visit the International Test Rose Garden. Just about everything was in bloom. There were rows and rows of different varieties and colors. Most were hybrid roses with almost no scent, but every now and again we would come across a heirloom variety with a beautiful scent.
Across the way from the Rose Garden is the Japanese Garden. The garden is located were the old Portland zoo used to be. (The current zoo is just a few minutes away.) Along with including all the traditional elements of a Japanese garden, it includes several recycled items including the old stone steps from the Portland municipal building and several ballast stones from the port.

As is typical in the north west the weather was warm, but cloudy and a bit hazy. Only had a few minutes of light showers in the afternoon, but nothing to cause us to miss these outside attractions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Spring?

Don't let this beautiful flower deceive you! It is safely living in the living room. The plants outside are miserable! Its been cold, dark, cloudy and rainy for a week and we had yet another frost warning last night.
This is the only sign of spring (not holding out much hope for summer) that we have had.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Spring Gap

It happens every spring; between the end of the semester, professional conferences, annual reports and vacations the time between mid-May and mid-June zips by in a blur - so this is my excuse for the lack of posting lately.

As a way of partially catching up here is a picture of the summer placements I made for my sister. They have been done for a month and shipped to her a couple of weeks ago.

All quilting is on hold for a bit, but I should re-group by late June when I have a full schedule of classes at the Vermont Quilt Festival.

Well I can't dawdle online today, the rain has stopped and I need to tackle the jungle that used to be my yard. I am going to attempt to mow the whole thing in one day. Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Catching Up

Hi All,
Its been a busy few weeks. I am finally moved back into my office. The ceiling and lights were replaced after the flood, and the movers brought back my file cabinets and desk. I also have a new computer, printer and phone, so for the past week I have been trying to get caught up with work.

Last Saturday I road-tripped to the Machine Quilters Expo (MQX) in Manchester, NH. A very pleasant trip. Took lots of photos for inspiration. I picked up a free-motion quilting foot for my sewing machine, a couple of books, three spools of thread and just a few small pieces of fabric. (See photo above).

I took this Friday off and tried to get to a few things that I just never seem to have time to do. One of them is to figure out Grandma Toth's sewing machine. I wound some bobbins with some new thread and figured out how to thread the machine. It seems to be stitching fine.
Damon (also had the day off) and I ran to Lowe's for supplies and spent several hours in the garden. Damon is putting in supports for the Hop beds we put in this spring and I was adding compost to our regular raised beds. What we ended up with is a bumper crop of new rocks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Flood Saga

Here are some photos of my flood experience this week. As you can see from this first photo just about everything on my bookshelves on the back wall of my office got drenched.

As you can see soggy misery loves company. Here are my colleagues Karen, Gordon and Anne, all off us to some degree were affected by water in our offices. This is day one (April first) of the clean up.

I spent a lot of my time sorting through all my wet paperwork and tried to write down all the titles of stuff I will need to get new copies of.

As you can see here, the LIS (Division of Library and Information Services) Disaster Recovery Plan did not survive and will not recover - it too went to the dumpster with all the other soaking wet stuff.
On Friday morning I came in with a bleach solution and wiped everything down and anticipated that I would shortly be putting my office back together. Around 11am our building supervisor notified me that M&O had decided to rip out my ceiling and put in a new one. This meant I had to get everything out of my office by the end of the day. The ceiling replacement process will take 1 - 2 weeks. I am temporarily taking refuge in a library carrel and still need to see about getting my computer data and a phone. I think I will be working at home a bit more in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Fooling - My Office Flooded!!!

Got a bit of a shock today when I got to work - several offices on the 3rd floor of the library had been flooded overnight and my office was one of the worst hit by all the water. Apparently a water pipe from the heating system broke. Water came from the ceiling and 3 of the walls in my office. Almost all the stuff I had on the bookcases on the back wall took on water. I threw a way about 6 large garbage bags of wet files, papers, binders, etc... and there is still more to do tomorrow.
I currently do not have a computer (they said they were able to salvage the data, but I will need a new machine) I also do not have a phone at the moment.
I took some photos and will see about posting them tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Practice, Practice, Practice

I love designing, making fabric choices and piecing quilt tops. I even enjoy binding quilts. But the one area that I still find intimidating is the actual quilting of the quilt.
Last summer at the Vermont Quilt Festival I bought two pre-printed mini whole-cloth quilt tops - design specifically to practice quilting. This is the first one. It is only 16x16 inches. I free-motion quilted the middle and used my regular machine foot for the lattice. I used a variety of brightly colored threads so they would show up against the black background. For a first attempt I am pretty pleased with the results.
You can get the pre-printed tops at:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

National Quilting Day

Here is the second card for my Stashbuster's Fabric Postcard swap. We have not yet reached this stage of spring here yet - the grass is still flat and brown, even the weeds really haven't popped up yet. The only insects so far are the ladybugs in the house. I put both postcards in the mail on the 20th. The other postcard is pictured in my last blog post.

As this is officially National Quilting Day I have spent some time in the quilting room. I made another of my New York Beauty blocks. They are quite addictive and I now have 21 blocks. I laid them out to play with the design. I figure once I have 40 or more blocks I with think of starting to put them together. Here is what I have so far.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Quilting Retreat

Attended the spring Wadhams Hall quilting retreat this past weekend. A fabulous time! I took a lot of projects to work on but only finished one - one of my Spring fabric postcard swap cards. (pictured here). I need to make one other postcard for the swap and get both in the mail by the 28th.

I took the fabric for my sister's place mats and did manage to piece the tops for all 6 of them - but I am not posting pictures - no sneak peeks Tammy, you get to see them when they are all done and sent to you. Not sure when that will be yet.

I also worked on my Brown Bag challenge quilt and did manage to finish piecing the top. It is a bit bigger than I initially envisioned it (roughly 60 x 60 inches). This project is an original design of my own - and the first creative quilt project that came out pretty much exactly as I envisioned it so I am thrilled with it. The flowers are paper pieced and the leaves are 'caveman' style curved piecing. The background is crazy pieced and the flowers were appliqued on with a machine blanket stitch.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Almost Spring - Sort -of, Kind-of

Well we had a wonderfully warm weekend - almost 50 degrees. I even took a walk each day without a winter coat and hat and scarf. But winter hasn't given up on us yet - we got about 2 inches of snow on Monday.

Since this fall I have been working on the guilds' Brown Bag challenge (pictured here in its not quite finished state). I came up with the idea of paper-pieced 'flowers' even before I got the fabrics. I have to finish one last flower and then figure out how I want to piece the background which will be in a variety of greens. It fits nicely with the general hope for spring.

Monday, February 23, 2009

One Stitch at a Time

I didn't figure I would get any quilting projects done this weekend, but I got into a groove and finished this 'One-Block Wonder' quilt that I started last year. It was pieced and the center and outside border had been sent out for machine quilting, but I wanted to do some decorative quilting in the orange border. So I did some free-hand machine quilting and put on the binding.

I am still working on my Brown Bag Challenge quilt which is due in April and my guild WIP (Work in Progress) quilt due in June. I also signed up for the Spring Stashbusters quilted postcard swap. I am trying to keep the number of projects with deadlines to a manageable size and timeline. The last thing I want from a hobby is more stress.

I am looking forward to our regular Spring quilting retreat in March. And I hope I will have made some real progress by then on these projects.