Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Quilting of the Year

First up is the next step in the Mystery quilt. It looks very similar to the last step - they are both four-square blocks, but this set uses the background fabric (grey) and the medium fabric (orange). Only 6 more steps/months until it will be a quilt top!

I also finished a quilt top by adding a border. I bought the border fabric in Toledo. Border fabric is allowed under the no-buy challenge rules. I also bought backing fabric for it. My original thought was to machine quilt this quilt myself, but it is a bit bigger then I originally thought.

The patter for this quilt was from the MODA Bakeshop blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New (Half) Year Resolutions

I have decided since I have a summer birthday my resolutions will be for the half-year and then I will have new/renewed resolutions starting in July.
So for the first 6 months here are my goals:

1.) Lose 10 pounds by May 20, 2011 (in time for Aaron’s and Barbie’s wedding). I will achieve this by eating more fruits and veg, minimizing the junk food (but not giving it up completely), and consistently going to the gym and otherwise keeping active – like hiking mountains when it get warm enough.

2.) Completely finish an already started quilting project before starting a new one. This may or may not diminish my list of things to finish, but at least it will keep the list from getting any bigger. By default this means I will be working on my machine quilting skills this year.

3.) On the professional front I would like to have another article published. The goal is to have at least a full rough draft done by the end of June.

Well 3 is a nice number so I will stop my list there. Sure there are lots of other things I could list that I want to do and achieve but these are the more on-going things that will need regular attention. I should keep track by doing monthly confessions on the progress with all of these to keep me honest.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Holiday Wrap-Up

Well we are all dog-tired after the holidays. As you can see Ivan was busy hoarding all the new toys. But after that he was busy sleeping on the couch.

Damon and I prepared a few dishes and went over to our friends' Gina and Terry's for Christmas dinner. Then we all came back here for desert.

Being on a quilting fabric no-buy I was thrilled with all the quilting fabric and other quilting related gifts this year. Pictured here are some the fabric rolls and a quilting book that Damon got me. Aren't the colors fabulous! The second picture includes a rotary blade sharpener and a book and DVD on free motion quilting and even more fabric.

This along with the fabric from Tammy and the patterns from Gina should keep me busy for a while. Not that it should be much of an issue as the number of quilting UFOs (UnFinished Objects) is piling up around me.
When I was in Toledo I did buy a border and backing for a quilt top already in progress. Once those are set I will be setting up the sewing room for machine quilting that and one other quilt.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Group Quilt Done

Well the quilt is finally done! It has been about a year and a half, but our small quilting group (about 8 of us) have finished this quilt for Cheryl who is giving it to her mom for a raffle quilt for an organization she belongs to.
We all made a couple of blocks. Mine are the last 2 in the 3rd row. We also all contributed to finishing the quilt. I hand sewed the back of the binding on. So other than a label, it is now all done. This picture was taken in November so it still has the raw edges.
The blocks for this quit were taken from Rosemary Makhan's Biblical Quilt Block books.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Making Candy

The house smells wonderful tonight! Damon is busy making his second batch of Torrone. He has been experimenting with a variety of recipes the past few years, but has found the Martha Stewart Torrone Recipe to be the best for the type of consistency for the finished product. Although her recipe calls for Pistachios, Damon alters flavorings and nuts. Usually the flavors are Vanilla, Orange or Lemon and he uses Pistachios or Almonds.
The current batches are for family back in Toledo. I think we will be be doing a couple more latter in the month for us and for local friends.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mystery Quilt - step #1 Done

The first step in the mystery quilt was to cut strips of the background and dark fabrics and make 4-patches. For the queen sized quilt I am working on I needed to make 80 of the 4-patches.
I am happy to say that all my blocks are done and I am ready for the next step which we will get on Wednesday at the guild meeting.
80 blocks is a lot but I broke it up into small steps and smaller batches so I was rotating between cutting, sewing and pressing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ready for the Holidays

Here is this year's Christmas tree. I usually add some sort of garland, either ribbons or strings of poinsettias. But I decided just to leave it with the ornaments. I did add one big poinsettia at the top of the tree just under the star. So far everything is still intact, the dogs seem to be good about avoiding the tree, but just in case the lower branches have the not-so-breakable ornaments.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The latest quilting projects

First up is the 12 1/2 inch purple hippopotamus block. The quilt guild has a viewers choice contest for children's blocks at the December meeting. This is my entry for this year. I found the hippo by searching images of online coloring pages. (Always a great source for finding applique shapes.) I used four different purple fabrics to build my hippo.

Next up is the paper-pieced feathered star. Sandy (Damon's Aunt) bought me the pattern and bought one for herself in the summer of 2009.

I have been wanting to do a feathered star for quite a while, but if you know anything about quilting you will understand why it is a somewhat intimidating pattern to take on.

I paper pieced the individual parts at the quilting retreat in November and put together the parts and removed all the paper backing last weekend. I like my choice of fabrics - it gives off a nice frost look. I just have to figure out what I want to do with it. Feature this one block in a small quilt or wall hanging or do make more and make a bigger project?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mystery Quilt - fabric

This year's challenge at the quilt guild is a Mystery Quilt.

How a mystery quilt works is that you get the supply list and they tell you what amount of fabrics you will need and if they should be darks, mediums and light colored fabrics.

Once you have your fabric you get the next step of the directions. I will be documenting my progress on this mystery quilt. According to the coordinators of this project, I should have a queen sized quilt top fully assembled by June if I follow the monthly mystery schedule.

So here are my fabrics. The top picture is my primary dark, medium and the gray-ish fabric will be my background fabric. Along with these 3, we also needed 18 fat quarters of assorted mediums and darks. These can be seen in the second photo with the background fabric.

So far so good.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Catching Up

I have been without my laptop for about 2 weeks. It needed a new hard drive. The tech folks were able to save all my data, programs and favorites lists but I am behind on posting.
A lot has actually been going on so this is post #1 in the catching up.
I went to the craft fair at the college field house a couple of weeks ago and 'Adopted an Alien'
check out her blog or her Etsy shop. I have not come up with a name yet for the twins but if you have any ideas leave a comment.
Also at the craft fair I picked up a few snowflake ornaments. They are made of wood, using a scroll saw and then painted. They look great on the tree.
The white
against the dark green tree really stands out.

I also picked up a pair of mittens. They are wool on the outside and are fleece-lined on the inside.
After hitting the craft fair I had a hand quilting class. Not sure I will be hand quilting a lot but I like the idea of trying a few small projects.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quilt Retreat

The Fall quilting retreat was last weekend. The weather was cold, dark, damp and dreary - so pretty much an excellent weekend for staying inside and quilting.

I worked on several projects but didn't think to take any pictures except for this project. The pattern is called 4-Patch Posy. The only reason I did take a picture was that I had all the blocks lined up on the design wall and I didn't want to forget what order I had them in. I originally was going to put all the blocks on-point but I thought it left too much blue background - so on a whim I alternated on-point with straight-on. I was able to sew the columns together at the retreat but will need to sew the columns together later.

One of the quilters at the retreat also makes dolls check out these photos. Jacquie makes and sells patterns for her dolls - you can check them out at her web page:

The first doll pictured she made at the retreat. The other 2 were made a while ago from scraps from other projects their names are 'Left' and 'Over'.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Damon's New Ride

Yesterday we went down to Rutland, VT and Damon bought this 1976 Triumph Spitfire. It is dark blue with silver stripes.
Traffic was a bit slow but the drive was nice. On the way back we got a great view of a mostly full moon over lake Champlain. And we got to see the work being done on the new bridge in Port Henry.
It is supposed to rain all week and as is typical it is already getting pretty cold so odds are good that the car won't be out of the garage until spring.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mid-Semester Catch-Up

As usual the mid semester crunch hit and I haven't posted in a while. But lots has been happening. It didn't help that I have been sick with a cold since October 1st.
We had some electrical work done and the entertainment center is now able to be placed on the other side of the living room. While looking for a corner unit entertainment stand I discovered that they have ones that have electric fire inserts. I have always wanted a fire place in the living room, its not the same as a real fire, but I am willing to make do. It comes complete with fake flames and an electric heater. It also takes up a lot less space in the room.
Damon's folks came up for the Columbus day week. We visited the Wild Center and a couple of the area orchards. Pat also attended the quilt guild meeting with me on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Crochet Season

A month or so ago I found this yarn at JoAnne Fabrics and fell in love with it. The picture doesn't really do the colors justice. It has these really nice bright vibrant blues, greens and pinks, and some other colors but the yarn overall doesn't come across as bright or garish.
I haven't crocheted anything in a couple of years but decided to make myself a scarf. The 3 packages of yarn I bought got me only about half-way to a scarf. Of course it didn't help that I ended up making it a bit wider then I was original thinking of. Rather than drive all the way to another JoAnne Fabrics - the closest one is about an hour away - I ordered three more packages online. They showed up yesterday so I should be able to finish my scarf in the next couple of weeks.
I do not crochet for long stretches of time, usually just when we are sitting down in the evening to watch TV. The timing of this project is pretty good, the heat wave of this past week has broke and we are looking a the start of cooler temperatures for the next week or so.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Poke-O-Moonshine - The Blue Trail

I finally made it to the summit of Poke-O-Moonshine. The attempt in May got me as far as the cabin ruins. This time we took the new blue trail. Details about this alternate trail are here:
The new trial is longer but less steep and rocky. It joins up with the original red trail at the cabin ruins.

The first picture is of Damon near the top of the fire tower located at the summit. The second picture is of the fire-tower itself. And finally is a shot of me (way down at the bottom of the photo) on the summit taken by Damon from his spot up in the fire-tower.

We started on the trail at 8:15am. We made it to the top around 10:00am, and made it back down to the trail-head by 10:55am. So we made the round-trip in under 3 hours.
The day was cloudy and we had a very light sprinkle of rain for about 5 minutes early on, but it was dry the rest of the time and in the upper 60s.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Still Working on the Scrap Pile

As I mentioned earlier this summer I am working on reducing my pile of scrap fabric. My vague notion was to reduce it by half. But of course I did not measure it or weigh it, so deciding when I reach half is based on the 'I guess that is about half' system.

Pictured here are the blocks I have been making for my second scrap quilt of the summer. I still need to sew them together. They are scraps from making my nieces' and nephew's quilts (see blog post dated Saturday, July 3, 2010). The blocks are 6 1/2 inches unfinished.

Once this quilt is finished - including quilting and binding I think I will have made enough of a dent in the scrap pile. I can go back to working on several other projects that have been waiting for attention. I do have plans on working on more crumb blocks at this fall's quilt retreat though so the scrap pile doesn't start growing too much.

Of the 2 scrap quilts from this summer, one will be donated to the Quilt Guild's Community Outreach program and the other will be given to the Guild for its 'Latte Lotto' raffle at the quilt show next year.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Silver Lake Mountain Hike

Damon and I both took today off as a vacation day. I talked him into joining me to hike Silver Lake Mountain. It is about a 20 minute drive from home - but with the bridge out due to construction on Silver Lake Road the detour took us a little bit longer.

Silver Lake Mountain is considered one of the 'easy' Adirondack mountains to hike. It took us a total of an hour and a half to get to the summit, sit for about 10 minutes and then make it back back down to the trail head.

The weather today was great for the hike. We started the hike at 9:30am and the temperature was still in the 60s. It was sunny but there were some really nice cool breezes most of the way up.
The white speck in the first picture is Damon. No, that is not the summit - just a nice stopping spot on the way up. The best views are at the summit. This second photo is from the vantage point from where Damon is standing in the first photo. The views are toward the south, so plenty of Adirondack mountains and lakes to see.

As it was a weekday the trail was not crowded. We saw one hiker on our way up (they were heading down) and about six folks were at the summit when we got up there.
The final photo is of me on the trail on the way down. As you can see, like many Adirondack trails the path is full of rocks and roots. When hiking you really need to watch your step.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Garden Update

The heat wave we had in July really seems to have agreed with the garden. All the plants are really taking off - tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, raspberries, blueberries and all the herbs.

This is also the earliest I can recall the tomatoes starting to ripen. Usually they are not ready until mid August. I went out today and picked the first cherry tomato and as you can see in the photo the first of the full-sized tomatoes will be ready in a couple of days.

I will have to remember to put bacon on the grocery list next week in anticipation of making BLTs with fresh tomatoes from the garden.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still Reducing Scraps

Well, I am still working on getting my scrap pile reduced but I have moved, at least temporarily, from crumb blocks on to other projects. I had some bigger scraps and some partially pieced blocks left over from my nieces and nephew's quilts. Since they are bigger pieces I figured making a crib-sized quilt out of them would help reduce the scrap pile a little quicker. This quilt will be donated for the quilt guild's community service project.
As you can see the top is done. Next week's goal is to piece a back for it and get it basted and ready for quilting. As this is only crib-sized I should be able to machine quilt it on my home machine.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From Scraps to Crumbs

When the sewing room reverted back to a guest bedroom a couple of weeks ago pretty much all the sewing stuff was packed away. As a strategy I have decided only to pull out my scrap bags/boxes and I am trying to make a dent in them by making crumb blocks. The goal is to reduce the scrap pile by about half before I let myself start pulling out other projects or starting new ones.

Here are the 12 blocks I made this week. I would have likely made more but the heat wave this week made the sewing room upstairs (with no air conditioner) pretty intolerable. I couldn't imagine sitting up there in the heat with the iron on as well.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where did June go? - New Stuff - Part 2

Along with the family arriving in June for a visit we had a few other additions in June.

The big item is the new gazebo. When we bought the house 10 years ago one of the first things my dad said was that we should get a gazebo and place out by the brook. So here we are 10 years later and we finally have one. Officially this is my birthday present with several family members and Damon contributing, but I paid a big chunk of it too. The biggest benefit of this is that it is fully screened in. I can go out and enjoy the warm summer weather without all the pesky biting, swarming bugs! I still would like to do some landscaping around it, but I think that will have to wait till next year.

A few days after the gazebo arrived our ridding mower died so we had to go out and get a new mower. The new mower has a wider deck and is faster so getting the mowing done should take less time. Of course since the mower is wider than our last one, all the spacing between the raised beds in the garden is a bit to small. The mower will fit between the rows but not between the individual beds, so this means more time and areas that will need trimming.

I attended the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) in June. While I am on a fabric no-buy challenge (and I was good and did not by any fabric) I did buy a few books, a pattern, a stencil, and some pearl cotton. So as you can tell, June was an expensive month. The rest of the year will be devoted to building the savings back up.

Where did June go? - A Re-cap - Part 1

One of the big events this summer was the whole family coming up to the Adirondacks for a visit. Since this is was the first visit for my nieces and nephew (all between the ages of 4 and 8). I thought it would be nice to make them all quilts for when they arrived.

I started on the quilts in March. My sister told me their favorite colors and I came up with what I hoped would be visually interesting quilts that would be pretty quick to piece.

The first one here (the pink one) was for my youngest niece - she is all about pink and princesses. I found a picture online of a quilt made of quarter log cabin blocks and decided to use that block. I could not decide on one single corner block to use for the whole quilt, so I went with 4. I used a variety of different sized strips for the rest of the block.

The second quilt (orange) is for my nephew. I found a picture online - I think the pattern is called 'Stones and Bricks' or something like that. As with the other quilt, I did not use a pattern I just figured how to create the blocks on my own. All the blocks in this quilt are made with 2 1/2 inch strips.

This quilt was the first one I finished. I got the top done in about 2 days at a quilt retreat in March. Of all the quilts, this one seems to have the biggest visual impact - it is very bright.

The third quilt (Blue) is for my eldest niece. She lives in Michigan and is a U of M fan. Having been born and raised in Ohio myself (the rivalry between Ohio and Michigan in college football is legendary) I could not bring myself to go with a purely Michigan theme. The result is the use of the U of M colors, but the night sky with stars is a nice neutral idea.

The blocks were constructed using Gwen Marston's Liberated Stars method (Gwen lives in Michigan so there is another Michigan connection for the quilt).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Montreal Quilt Show

Trudy, Cheryl, Jane and I went up to Montreal on Saturday for the Quebec Quilts Salon 2010 Quilt show. A few quilting friends from the Wadhans Hall quilt retreats are members of the guild in Montreal. So we went up to see the show and have lunch with them. We had gone to their previous show 2 years ago. It is a really great show - a lot of variety and really stunning quilts. I took lots of pictures. As I am on the fabric no-buy challenge I did really good and did not buy anything at the show from the vendors. Of course it is a bit easier because fabric in Canada is more expensive.

The pictures are the 2 quilts that our friend Katherine "Kat" Hornstein had in the show. She has a wonderful flair for using vibrant, beautiful colors. The top one is called "Amish All Sorte" and the second one is called "Bohemia".
The trip into Montreal went well, we didn't get lost and the traffic wasn't bad. And on Saturday there was no smoke. Today (Monday, Memorial Day) even here in Saranac we are engulfed in the smoke and smell of the large fires burning in the Quebec Province. We checked the maps and nothing appears to be very close to us but the winds are from the north so here we sit in the smoke. It really smells strongly of fire in the neighborhood. Its a great reason to stay inside and quilt. I am putting the bindings on the quilts for the nieces'.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My First ADK Mountain

I finally got around to 'hiking' an Adirondack peak. It only took ten years to get around to doing it. The Conference on Instructional Technologies was on campus this week and as part of the pre-conference activities was a group hike up Poke-O-Moonshine. We were a small group - apparently the 90 degree heat scared some off.

Having grown up in a very flat area of the world, I have been very poorly prepared for the sort of 'hiking' done here in the mountains. The hike up Poke-O-Moonshine is real more of a climb, scrambling over rocks and pulling your self up using small trail-side trees.

I blame the heat for not making it all the way to the top. But I did make it to the ruins of the cabin that the fire tower watchers lived. The photos I took do not do justice to the trail. It is very steep and I was glad that we had a guide, because the trail looked more like a dry stream bed. I would not think it was a trail at all with all the rocks. The ruin is just the fireplace and the foundation of what was a log cabin. The fire tower is still at the top of the mountain.

I figured that the trip down would be less strenuous, but I was surprised at how easy and quick getting back down the trail was. It took us about 3 hours for the trip from top to bottom.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Snow

Yup, I know I should have put my car in the garage last night. It snowed all day yesterday but it didn't really stick. Obviously overnight that changed. It is a very wet heavy snow. It was reported that about 20,000 in the area are without power this morning.

We still had power and while the tree branches are a bit low everything so far is fine at our house.

As with all our spring snow storms they are short lived, they are forecasting 79 degrees for Saturday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Quilt Decision Making Process

Getting ready to put together another quilt top. I have made several 12 1/2 inch blocks, but there is a ridiculous number of options for putting them together. So this morning I set up the portable design wall and laid out some options. For your viewing pleasure here are the top candidates and my thoughts on them.

Option #1 is a center square made of 4 blocks with blocks radiating out from the center. This would be a 6' X 6' quilt with just the blocks. To make a 6' X 6' I would need to make 6 more blocks. I couldn't lay it out as a 5' X 6' because it would be lop-sided. But I do like the way it features the corner colors in each block. I could add bottom and top borders to make it a bit longer than wide - which would be better for fitting a twin-sized bed.

Option #2 is off-set squares. I initially liked the look, but to make the top I would have to add either solid 6 1/2 inch strips or more pieced strip to fill in the gaps at the top and bottom. For this layout I would need to make 1 more block. As with Option #1 it doesn't really look right laid out 5 X 6.

Option #3 was suggested by my friend Becky at the Wadhams quilting retreat where I started making these blocks. This would be a 5 X 6 layout and I would likely add borders. I have lined up the corner blocks so they make diagonal rows. For this layout I would need to make 3 more blocks. This layout has visual impact for its zig-zag pattern across the quilt.

Option #4 is to put the blocks on point. This layout would take the most additional work because I would have to cut and sew all the side triangles. If I really loved the look of it on point it would be worth doing, but I don't think this layout is the best to feature the blocks anyway.

Option #5 is the most straight forward - just lining up the squares with the corner squares in all the same corner. I would only need to make 1 more block for this layout. I would also likely put a border on it. Using the block in the order laid out also gives it a secondary pattern with the corner colors lining up.
I plan on taking a break and then coming back to look at these variations and deciding on one later today. Right now I am thinking that Options 3 and 5 are the front runners because of their visual impact the small amount of work it will take to finish them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why Home Brewers Need 2nd Bathrooms

We are in the throws of brew-making. And be 'we' I mean Damon. Instead of featuring my quilting or gardening I figured I would focus on Damon's projects. He made a batch in March while I was at my quilt retreat. And he made a batch last Wednesday when I had a late meeting. The brewing process is a bit smelly, especially when the hops goes in. So he kindly does this while I am out of the house.
The first thing you are looking at is a bottle tree. It is what is used to dry bottles that have been washed. Having any sort of dirt or debris in the bottle will ruin your beer. It actually looks sort of decorative.

The second picture is a shot of all the beer sitting in their carboys in the downstairs bathroom shower. The one on the right is the secondary, so this is the beer from March. The bottles in the bottle tree are for this batch of beer. The back, left carboy is the new batch, the hose from the top going into the bucket is letting out the gas being generated by the fermentation.

You definitely want someplace like a shower stall or bathtub for this stage of the process because it can make a bit of a mess. It also isn't a bad idea to store the bottled beer in the shower either.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I'm Back

It is the day before Easter, so I am doing what all good Polish families do – I am sitting in the kitchen and watching kielbasa boil. Mind you, this is not chain grocery store kielbasa (its crap and nothing like real kielbasa). We have ours imported from Stanley’s in Toledo, Ohio - the folks usually drop it off when they come to visit in the fall. We freeze and usually pull it out for New Years and Easter. Freezing is OK, but you do miss out on the smell of fresh kielbasa stinking up the fridge and overwhelming you when you open the fridge door.

The lull in the blog posts I will blame on work. Pretty much weeks 3-10 of the semester are the most hectic. Long days, and grading on the weekends leaves me burnt out and with no time for blogging. I usually try to fight this, but as I have been sick since Feb 19th (cold, then sinus infection) I decided to take it easy. The end of my course (still grading final projects but the end is in sight) and the ridiculously fabulous weather has brought back some of my energy.

I have been quilting a bit. I am participating in the quilt guild’s Brown Bag Challenge again this year. If you saw my posts last year about this you will recall I went overboard with my project. It is still my favorite quilting creation, but this year I know I needed to keep it smaller. This year I used an appliqué pattern from Piece O’ Cake designs to make this wall hanging. I am still in the process of finishing the machine quilting – I am doing free-motion on my domestic machine. Barring any catastrophe it will be done on time for the April 14th meeting.