Friday, October 31

"Friends Forever" Retreat.......

Well, you've had a peek at the goodie baskets and you've seen the entrance door to Villa Maria so it's time to go back to last Friday morning and tell you how are retreat began.

I was up early, totally organized and ready to go a half hour sooner than expected. However, you know how it goes. Just about the time you think you are "ahead of schedule" something pops up and you're not. This time I got behind because I stopped at the post office to mail a package of fudge to my son (I figured he deserved some goodies, too) and I got to talking to our postmaster who is not a master, actually, but a "post mistress". She's a quilter and bear maker, too, and had brought in her photo album for me to see. I had to look! One of her bears is so cute that I asked to borrow a picture of it and you'll see it come Election Day! So, I was running a little late but that was okay because when I called Collette (my daughter) to say I'd be late picking her up, she said she was hoping it was me calling to say I would be late! She owns a daycare center and had to work that morning and couldn't quite get away as soon as expected. Funny how sometimes things work out even when you're late. :-)

When I arrive at her house to pick her up, I realize that she has even more stuff than I anticipated. My car was pretty full but I thought I had left enough room for her things as well as mine. However, we were providing the meal so it meant transporting food for the dinner, snacks, projects, sewing machines, suitcases, etc. etc. etc. so we had a lot of stuff to get in the car! We wiggled it here, juggled a bit and moved things around and got it all in. I was able to shut the back hatch and we were off.

Our destination was Villa Maria Retreat Center that is located in Frontenac, MN south of Red Wing (click here for more info) . The retreat center sits nestled in the woods not far from the Mississippi River and it is just beautiful no matter what time of year that one visits!! It took us about two hours to get there and we spent the time going over details for our dinner and making plans for our next retreat. We had already come up with the theme for the next gathering! The fall colors were fading but it is still lovely when you are in the area of Old Frontenac and the cliffs, the hills, the water, the old homes. When we turned into the curved driveway that leads up to the Villa, it was like "coming home". My first retreat there was in 1991 or 92 with our church women's group. When the membership in our church dwindled and our women's group disbanded, there was a sadness knowing that we would not go back to the Villa. I just couldn't imagine not going to the Villa so I began planning a quilting retreat with my friend, Sara. That first one was in Feb. of 2003. There's no set schedule for the retreats and it depends largely on availability at the Villa and my own personal schedule. Someday I'll do a post just about the past retreats. Right now, I'll get back to this current one - "Friends Forever" was the theme.

Our first priority when we arrived was to get the soup into the crock pot so it would be hot enough by the dinner hour. We weren't sure when that would be because when the soup was hot enough was when the dinner hour would be! :-) With the soup in the crockpot and all the food unloaded from the car to the dining room, we scurried upstairs to put name signs on the doors so our guests would know which room they were assigned. Then we had to set up the sewing room and some of our guests started arriving. We decided we don't want to "scurry around" so much and we are going to go the night before next time, no matter what!!!

Once our guests could settle into their rooms and begin setting up their sewing spaces, we headed back to the dining room to finish preparations for dinner. The last guests arrived just as I was coming upstairs to say "Dinner is served" and as you can see in the photos the laughter and the sewing, the visiting with old friends had already begun and it just made me smile. Our sewing space was the Villa Library and it was just right, as baby bear would say. :-)

And here is the table ready for dinner. I was scurrying again and wanted to snap a picture before our guests started filling their plates so guess who wasn't paying attention? Me, of course. See those plastic bags on the cookies and the biscuits? I need an assistant to stage photos for me so I don't have these little mistakes happening. Oh, well. As you can see the food looks good and everyone said it tasted really good.

There were cucumber sandwiches and stuffed olives that Collette made and I baked up a big batch of my homemade biscuits. There was jam and honey for the biscuits, and cheese and crackers, nuts, veggies, and those really good cookies from Pepperidge Farms (so sorry, can't remember their name, only that they are really good).

And then there was soup - a chicken wild rice vegetable concoction that I made and, if I do say so myself, yep, it was really good. I'll share the recipe for it later.

Here are Joan and Sue filling their plates. You can see that the plastic bags have disappeared and the biscuits and cookies were disappearing, too. :-)
Just before I sat down to eat.......time for another photo. Here we are - Collette on the right and moving to the left are Jane, Joan, Gretchen, Sue, Laura and Sharon.

And in this photo from left to right are - Arlis, Barb, Carol F., Carol M., and Kate. While everyone was our guest, each of them is also a good friend. We were all so happy to be together and anticipating a great weekend! Sister Rose came in to extend a welcome from the Villa staff and then it was time to clean up and head upstairs. Everyone pitched in and clean-up went very fast. I sent everyone upstairs while I washed up the bowls and then I headed upstairs to set up my machine and get started on some sewing fun. As I passed through the lobby this little guy caught my eye. He's made from a gourd. Isn't he awesome?!! Somewhere, I have a link to the website where you can order these. I'll find it, just give me time. :-) Speaking of time, it's way late, so time to turn out the lights once again and head to bed. Oh, and I hate to keep you hanging but there really is a bedbug story coming soon.
Night everyone, or Good morning depending on when you're reading this!!! I'll be back Friday evening after the Trick or Treaters have been here to tell you more about the retreat.

Thursday, October 30

My Christmas Cottages are ready for the holidays!

This is no fancy photo but it is proof that all my blocks are done - and if you look carefully you can see that there are two of each. I pinned the blocks to the curtains in my sewing room and I actually kind of like the look of plaid bordering the blocks. This was really fun project. I have oodles of Christmas fabrics thanks to 40 years of collecting fabrics. Yep, I have scraps from my first projects made in 1968, the year we got married (none of them are in these blocks but some day they'll end up in some quilt). I noticed that not everyone was using white for their sky pieces so I checked with Nanette because I had all these snowflake type fabrics that I knew would look great. I like the "night sky" ones and hope whoever gets them does, too. :-) I chose the "gray brick" for the cottages because our real house is gray.

I think the one with Snoopy is my favorite and Santa on the roof. I have lots of Snoopy scraps if anyone wants a Snoopy for a block.

These will go in the mail to Nanette tomorrow. Now it's time for supper and then a little clean-up in my sewing room. Imagine that!?! :-)

Blog Pick of the Week, a peak at my Stitcher's Angel project, and the retreat photos begin!

This is what I was doing a week ago this day.........getting ready for the retreat but I couldn't tell you all about it because of the eleven friends who came to the retreat, nine of them regularly read my blog! The retreat was wonderful, as it always is because we are able to step away from the busyness of life and into the quiet halls of Villa Maria and just enjoy time with each other and time for lots of sewing! Now that it's over I can tell you what we did and share some of the photos. Interestingly, I took about 150 photos so it is going to take some time to decide which ones to share.

The first photo you see is empty baskets waiting to be filled with goodies. You already know that I made fudge, plus I filled little Halloween bags with candy corn, some with candy kisses and others with tea, hot chocolate and cappucino mixes. I set up an assembly line to fill all the goodie bags and here's what they looked like when they were filled...........

Each basket also had the little Halloween pattern I shared last week, plus a packet of fabric, some scented candles and, of course, shampoo and soap from my husband's travels (this has become a joke-he travels a great deal and these items came from the Formosa Regency or something like that - he likes to "contribute"). Sometimes I am up really late getting "last-minute" things done but I had stayed focused on retreat stuff and managed to remember almost everything that I intended to take. Notice, I say - almost - you'll find out later what I forgot, but it wasn't my pj's this time.
I'll be back Friday morning with the details of the arrival at the retreat last Friday, our dinner and some of Friday's sewing fun. And oh, was there a lot of laughter!!!
Here's a peek at the front doors to Villa Maria. For me, it's like taking a short trip to some place in the woods in Europe. Just a lovely place!
So, Monday of this week, I had to catch up on some sleep, some laundry, a little housecleaning and unpacking everything and putting it away. Then Monday night, I had to get serious about my Stitcher's Angel project. I had a hard time figuring out what to make and changed my mind more than once! Then when I was reading my secret angel's blog, I read a bit about her kitchen and thought, - I know what I am going to do......... and here it is..........

I had this Debbie Mumm panel that was originally to be a calendar so I "fussy cut" parts of it to make a totebag for sewing projects and then made a matching pincushion and needlecase to go with it.

Here's the back of the bag, the base of the pincushion, and the inside of the needlecase. Plus, I tucked in a really nice, sharp pair of embroidery scissors.

A close-up of the pincushion and needlecase. I appliqued the little teapot on the front.

I wrapped it all up in a piece of fabric tied with rick rack, inserted this little card I made to match and took it to the post office and it is on it's way to ......................can't tell, but the address is under the card and you just can't see it. :-) So one swap done, and I think I have five to go. One of those is the Cottage block exchange and I am almost done with my blocks. I am not making just 12 as most are because I want a large quilt so I am making two of each block for a total of 24 blocks. I only have the sky to do tomorrow and they will all be done and will go in the mail on Friday morning (thank goodness because that is the final date to send - nothing like being right "up to the wire"!).
So, today I got so busy sewing cottage blocks that I forgot to post my Blog Pick of the Week so here it is..........ta's Teresa at DiddleDaddleDesigns! She was my partner in the Gratitude Swap that some of us participated in a few weeks ago. More on that when I post about the retreat message I shared.
Time to turn out the lights and keep those bedbugs at bay. Hee hee! There's a bedbug story coming soon.................
Night all!

Monday, October 27

Deer in my back yard....

At dusk this evening, I happened to look out the windows to our backyard there they were - a group of deer five of them several feet apart, but walking across our yard. I stopped vacuuming and ran over to the window to get a good look. I watched as first one and then the second one ran down the little hill toward our neighbor's back yard. Two more followed more slowly and those four days stopped in our neighbor's woods to graze on grass (and probably bugs). The fifth deer was in our garden nibbling what bit's of carrots and such that he could find. Then he walked across our yard as the other deer had but I noticed he had a limp. Then I saw the wound on the side of his upper haunch and it wasn't just that he limped, as he actually "favored" the leg even when he stopped to graze by holding it just slightly off the ground. Perhaps, he was shot once by a hunter but got away and survived in the woods. As he trotted out of our yard and over to the rest of the deer, I saw the most amazing thing. One of the deer in the group of four walked up to the wounded deer, they touched noses and then he joined the group. Now I don't know what that was all about because I am not a student of nature, but it seemed to me that the four knew that he was in need of being cared for and they waited to make sure that he joined them, then gave him (or her, as how can I tell in the dark?) a kiss to say "glad you are here". Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)
My car is finally unpacked, two loads of laundry are out of the way, I vacuumed and I baked a batch of cookies as the kitchen seemed to cold so I had to do something to warm it up. Why turn up the furnace when baking cookies will give you heat and something good to eat, too?
Speaking of something good, over at LeeLouBlogs, you'll find a "Launch Party" and some amazing giveaways. I took a peek and will check it out more carefully later on tonight. That's when I'm going to load the pictures from the retreat so that I can let you all see what fun we had and what a lovely place that Villa Maria is for a retreat. So, I'll be back later. In the meantime, check out LeeLousBlog. :-)

I'm baaaaaaacccckkk............

Oh, my did we have a good time at the retreat or what!!?!! You bet and I have so much fun stuff to share. I'll "parcel" it out in posts over the next few days. Some of you might be wondering who wins the extra goodie basket. Well, my Random Number Man has selected number ELEVEN and that is Swooze at SwoozesQuiltsAndTallTales. I have e-mailed her to send me her snail mail address and I will get the basket on the way to her!
I only partially unpacked my car last night so must finish that and spend the day "cleaning up and putting way stuff from the retreat. I don't mind a bit because the retreat was so much fun!
Back later!
Sandi :-)

Thursday, October 23

A Halloween Treat for you!

Almost all things are ready for the retreat that my daughter, Collette, and I will be hosting this weekend. While we are away, here's a little Halloween quilt that you can make. It's quick and easy and makes a great gift for you or a friend. I designed the little quilt back in 1999 and taught it through community ed more than once. I'm taking along the left-overs from my classes and am going to make a couple as gifts only I am going to use woolfelt for the applique pieces this time. So here's what the quilt looks like when it's finished (it's 13" square)............

If you right click on the instructions and pattern page and save to your computer, you can print out the pages for your own use. If you have any problems with this please e-mail me or leave a comment with your contact info and I will e-mail you a pdf file (blogger won't load pdf's and I don't have a website yet where I can post them). You may share this pattern with friends because that's how this pattern first came to be........I wanted to share a little something with my friends. Please do not print and sell the pattern. If you wish to make this little quilt for bazaars, festivals, etc. please do and just give a little credit to where the design originated. :-)

One last thing............I mentioned in an earlier post that I would prepare one extra goodie basket like those that each of our retreat guests will be receiving. So, right now, begin leaving comments for your chance to win the little basket of goodies. I'll draw a winner on Sunday evening after I return and will announce the winner Monday morning. Be sure to leave an e-mail address or blog link so that I may contact you. If I cannot reach you, I'll have to draw another name. No questions to answer or comments to share but if want to say lovely things, they are always welcome. I read every comment and love every one of them. So until Sunday evening..........Hope you all have a great weekend. We will, I am sure, as we stitch and eat and laugh and sew and eat and share and on it goes!!!!

Wednesday, October 22

The mailman brought me a package and my Blog Pick of the Week!

And it is one that I was anxiously watching for as it is the gift I won on Nihal's blog. I thought the package might come today so I was actually thinking I might see the mailman come to my door. I had just finished working on some things for the retreat and I looked up from the kitchen counter just in time to see him walk up the sidewalk. I grabbed Kaiser by the collar and quickly put him in the bathroom. He gets way too excited when someone comes to the door! Thankfully, our mailman doesn't mind but I wanted to receive my package and not have to worry about the dog. And here is what the mailman handed to me................all the way from Turkey, I said to him and then had to tell him the story of what it was. :-)

I opened the package and took out this lovely giftwrapped book..............I placed it on a doily that we bought in Turkey in 1998......................

................and then I removed the ribbon and net fabric and thought "these pieces will go into my crazy quilt"...............and here is the beautiful book "Turkish Delights"!!

I opened it for a quick look and then came to a page that caught my eye.........Magic Carpets. I feel as if I have gone on a "magic carpet" ride to Istanbul just by receiving this generous gift from Nihal!

So what did I do to win this? Well, she had a giveaway to celebrate her blog anniversary and she offered two gifts. You had to tell her which gift you would like to have - the N-Rich gift or the N-Joy gift. I still can hardly believe that she selected me to win one of the two lovely gifts that she offered. To read what I wrote go to NihalsCrossroads and you can read her post about the winners!

As I've already mentioned, my husband, Steve, and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this year. Ten years ago we celebrated it in Turkey when he added a week of vacation to a business trip to the south of Turkey. It was a lovely trip and we always hoped one day to return. The likelihood of that grows dimmer and dimmer with the gloomy economy and we're not getting any younger. So, I am thrilled to have this book to recall that wonderful adventure. Come mid-November I am going to post pictures from that long ago trip and share some of the highlights. Plus I'll be posting a little quilt that I made in 2000 to celebrate the Millennium that I named, of all things - Turkish Delights! I loved the Turkish rugs and textiles and would have brought home a ton of stuff if we had the money to do so. We did buy one rug and I thought I would share the photo today but I'll save the story for when I tell you of the trip in November. Receiving this gift from Nihal.......meeting other bloggers who have become friends like Nanette and Teresa and Joanna and Jessica and Kathey and more ........preparing for our retreat with my daughter Collette for a treasured group of quilting friends (you'll meet them next week) ........all are things that make me feel so lucky, so blessed. I am very fortunate and never dreamed as a little girl that I would have a life so full, visit so many places and have so many wonderful friends!
I have some more good news but I have to get back to preparing for the retreat and building my cottage blocks. Later, friends.
And one more thing ....... it is only natural that Nihal at Crossroads would be my Blog pick of the week!!!

Monday, October 20

The Story behind the Pickled Pink Pincushion.......

You all know that sometimes life gives us "twists and turns" that we can't even imagine and sometimes there are things we can imagine but we don't want to think about. And then just when we think we have been through enough "twists and turns" in our lives, we find that, for lack of a better phrase, our lives are tossed up in the air and nothing goes like you think it will at all. That was the case at this time last year.
My mother fell seriously ill at a time when we were totally not expecting it. Our dad had been admitted to a care center the year before and we were always worried about him. But due to a serious kidney stone condition our mother nearly died before doctors found a blockage and took the steps needed for her recovery. My mother spent a week in intensive care before she was moved to a regular floor for another week of care and then on to the care center for a couple of weeks for therapy. I stayed in Iowa at her apartment during that time and was thankful that I didn't have to work so I was free to be with her and my dad. He worried constantly about her and was so relieved when she came to the care center so that he could see she was really all right. I took him to the hospital a couple of times while she was there but anytime he couldn't see her or talk to her was a confusing time for him. It was a hard time to watch my parents ill and not able to be with each other.
It was during my mother's stay in the hospital that an act of kindness by someone inspired me to create the little pickle pincushion. Prior to my mother's illness, I had joined a couple of Yahoo quilting groups. I had accidently signed up for one group but couldn't get up the courage to post a message. Another group I joined was Mark Lipinski's Quilter's Home group and he calls the members of his group his "Pickle Posse" because he lives on Pickle Road. Because I was so inept at figuring out how to post and comment on-line, I did what many folks do - I "lurked". I read the postings about quilts and recipes, kids and more. The Pickle group is a very diverse and chatty group so it was fun to read the conversations. :-) I noticed a post by a Donna Jo from Iowa and e-mailed her off-line. We discovered we had some things in common - crazy quilting, among other things - and after only a couple of weeks we were talking about meeting the next time I came to Iowa to visit my parents. There was the wedding of my niece in a few weeks and we thought perhaps we could meet then. But my mother got sick and I e-mailed Donna Jo what had happened. And then she replied with the amazing offer to come and sit with me one day while my mother was in intensive care. She said "I'll just come and be there and if you need to go do something I'll just be there if you need help of any kind." So, she drove over an hour to get to the hospital (only a year earlier, my friend, Sue, had done the same thing when my parents were hospitalized at the same time - I have some really great friends!) and she came on a Wednesday, the fifth day my mother had been in ICU and a day when finally she could squeeze my hand and nod her head and you knew she was really doing it, that we weren't imagining it. It was also a day, when across the hall from my mother, a dear family friend slipped away. I was glad Donna Jo was there. She met my brother and was there when we got the news about our friend. It was not an easy day but she had a calming effect. It was good to have her to talk to and yet we'd only known each other for a few weeks via the Internet.
I wanted to do something fun and say thank you to her for taking time from her day, from her family to spend it with me. So, since we met on Mark's Pickle Posse group, I designed the Pickled Pink Pincushion for her. I was "tickled pink" to have met her, that she came to sit with me, and that she was such a lovely person. We still e-mail although right now she's planning a wedding for her daughter so it's not quite as often as it was for awhile. We'll get back to it and at some point we will meet for a quilt shop adventure. Meeting her was a "twist and turn" that I hadn't expected just like my mother becoming so ill when it was my father we were always worried about. She's not the only good friend I've made since joining Mark's Pickle Posse group. Like I said, it's a diverse group and right now the talk of politics is so thick in group chats "that you could cut it with a knife" as the saying goes. When I returned home and throughout the winter while my mother continued to have health challenges and my dad's health declined, members of the Pickle Posse offered thoughts, prayers, then condolences when my dad passed away. Many of them were going through similar situations and we found solace in the thoughts and conversations of other Pickles. Signing on to the group at night and reading and then posting messages to chat, gave me an outlet for my stress and grief. If I could, I would thank each one of them with a "Pickled Pink Pincushion". Instead, though, I can offer up the pattern and finally a tutorial. Click here for the "Pickled Pink Pincushion" tutorial.
And that's how the "Pickled Pink Pincushion" came to be. If you aren't crazy about having a pickle on your pincushion, replace the pickle with a flower or any other shape to make a nice little gift for yourself or a friend. Have fun whatever you do. Life is filled with "sew" many blessings and sometimes we don't have to look very far to see them.

Last thought for this evening............I am going to have a hard time not writing about all the fun stuff I am preparing for our retreat this weekend. In an earlier post I wrote that I was making fudge for the retreat and was starting to write some other things when it suddenly hit me that, good grief, my friends who are coming to the retreat also read my blog on a regular basis. What was I thinking? So, mum's the word on the retreat until we get back Sunday night. I'll have to find some other things to post about and I am not usually short on stories so I'll figure it out. :-)

Night all.


P.S. I would add this thought - Offer up a gentle kindness to someone who is least expecting it. It may be just the thing that will make or break their day.

A little something extra......... for a chance to win a kit for the Pickled Pink Pincushion click here.

The "Pickled Pink Pincushion" Tutorial!

The "Pickled Pink Pincushion" tutorial is ready for you. However, you won't find it here. I have been working hard at organizing my patterns, poems, thoughts, etc. and blogging has been a lifesaver for that. From the moment I started blogging I knew that it was the key to sharing all my creative ventures and such. Only a week or so after I started this blog, I had set up a pincushion one, then a couple more, including the SewandShare blog. I didn't do much with the others but knew the time would come when I would "activate" them. And that time is now. The tutorial for the PickledPinPincushion is posted on my new blog that will be devoted to Pincushions and other tiny items. I have a few pretty pincushions and I've made lots of miniatures in the last 40 years and from time to time they'll appear there and here, too. So to find the tutorial, just pop over to MommasPincushions and you'll find it. Let me know what you think!!
As with everything I make, there's a story behind it and this one has a very important one. I'll add it later tonight as right now I have to head off to a meeting at the Library. Back later.

The Pickled Pink Pincushion!

This "learn by trial and error" is really difficult. I got the directions written and I thought you'd be able to do a "right click" and save this file to print it out. It's not working on my computer so I don't think it will work on your computer. Back to "trial and error learning". Please have patience with my challenged brain cells. Photos of the "step-by-step process" will follow soon.

Sunday, October 19

Is it summer or fall here in Minnesota?

This has been the mildest fall that I can remember in all the years that we have lived in Minnesota. This is the middle of October and I went off to church without wearing a coat or jacket. Later on, we washed my car and I got hot while working in the sun. I was wearing a knit shirt with a sweater and slacks. Took the sweater off as who needs it when it's 60 degrees and sunny! Our neighbor, Kathy, walked over while we were washing the car, just as my husband was pointing out that I wasn't keeping the car wet enough and it was going to waterspot. What is it about some men and cars? As Kathy knows, I had the urge to turn the hose on him, but I wisely chose to remain calm as I was more interested in finishing the job than in getting even. :-)

When the car was finished, I decided to whip up a batch of fudge. Every day this week, I have stuff I'll be doing in preparation for our retreat this weekend. I am really looking forward to it. Have some fun stuff planned for everyone and we all know each other and love to get together so this is gonna be a fun, fun, weekend! It just occurred to me that I may not post many more details of the retreat as my friends read my blog. Hmmmmmmmm..........looks like you'll have to wait til the retreat is over for details and pictures.


Saturday, October 18

Birthdays and Cupcakes make me smile!

Well, I promised a cupcake story and it's time to deliver the goods. First let me say that I wanted to share the photo below with you and I have spent the last half hour trying to figure out how I loaded the last black and white photo to my blog and I totally cannot recall how I did it. My previous attempt was done differently than this one because it was clear and this one is fuzzy. I'll have to do more research on this because I have more black and white photos to share.

Back to the subject of cupcakes......this is National Cupcake Day! I like cupcakes. Who doesn't? One of my favorite treats as a kid was chocolate Hostess cupcakes and it's still a favorite for the kid that still lives within me! :-) My mother was a good baker and I remember that one of her best treats was cupcakes at Easter time. I loved being able to bring cupcakes to school for a special treat. They were always chocolate and covered with green icing that was topped with coconut that she had tossed with green food coloring to look like grass. Then she added jelly beans for the eggs. They were so cute and soooooo good. One of her best cakes was a Chocolate Mayonnaise cake that was exceptionally good and moist. Yum, yum.

Two years ago at my 40th high school reunion, I discovered that I wasn't the only one who remembered my mother's cupcakes. As several of us girls recalled birthday and slumber parties, my friend Kathy said "oh, and I remember your mom's cupcakes and how I loved to come to birthdays at your house!" I was really touched to know that she remembered because that was more than 40 years ago, my friends. Evidence of that fact is this picture taken on my sixth birthday. There we all are in our fancy birthday dresses and all this amidst spring flooding that had caused our house that was being built to be flooded so it had to be moved to higher ground (hence the unfinished look to the steps, etc.). You can't stop girls from having fun!

That's me on the lower left with my cousin, Kathy sitting next to me. The second row, left to right are my friend Linda and my cousins, Shirley and Janet (they lived up over the hill from us and I loved to visit because they had all these wonderful quilts on their beds!). The second row is friend Judy, cousin Linda, and friend Charlene and the top row is friend Darlene, then my sister Judy and neighbor and friend, Adeline. I surely do remember that we had an awfully lot of fun together!

I think I'll have to make some special cupcakes for Halloween this year. I feel a burst of orange and green frosting, chocolate cake creativity coming on!!


Taking a deep breath.......

and collecting my thoughts. Feeling a little better today. Decided I should acknowledge that I have some good days and some not so good. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I keep it at bay most of the time by pacing myself and eating right and resting, etc. Then sometimes I take on too much, don't eat right (my problem yesterday) and I "take a hit". Actually, I was "under the weather" with a back pain issue last weekend so I should have "laid low" a little longer but didn't. So, I am taking a deep breath and readjusting a couple of things.
Later today, I'm going to post a little photo and a cupcake story. A few minutes ago, I updated the SewandShare blog with new photos and in about an hour, I will deliver the last of the quilts for Iowa to my son's house, so that the quilts can make their way to Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area). My husband is going along to help.
I will post the Pickled Pink Pincushion tutorial on Monday and then I'll post the Redwork Pincushion tutorial after I get back from the retreat that Collette and I are hosting next weekend. So, all that should give me a little more room to breath in. I enjoy all of the things I do, sometimes I just take on too many things to enjoy!!
Hope you are having a good weekend!

Friday, October 17

A little "under the weather"......

Was planning to post my "Pickled Pink Pincushion" but am not feeling real chipper. Going to bed. Back soon.

Thursday, October 16

Gratitude and Giveaways, Part II

Well, the big "Fall into Fall Giveaway" has ended and out there in Blogland there are about 50 lucky winners who will soon receive packages of goodies in the mail. Earlier tonight I packed up the box that will go off to Sherri at AQuiltingLife. I found the perfect box in the basement that the basket of woolfelt would fit into and still leave room for the 15 other items I added each day of the Giveaway. Once I know Sherri has received the box and she's had a peek inside, then I'll post what she received. I love doing this. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I will never use all the sewing stuff I have and I love to see it go to someone who might use it or at least enjoy seeing it in their stash of fabrics!! Hee hee!
I also received word today that Mary Grace at received the little blue basket of vintage trims and she liked the extra little goodies I placed in the bottom of the basket (some fall fat quarters) and her kids liked the Milk Duds I tucked in each corner of the box! I was a little late getting the Pumpkin filled with goodies sent off to Angie at CedarChestQuilts but any day now it should arrive on her doorstep. Don't you just love it when you get something in the mail? I sure do. Just makes my day when the mailman has to come to my door with something instead of just putting letters, bills, etc. in the mailbox.
I was quite excited back in July when I received the little cupcake that I won from Joanna at MrMonkeySuit. I couldn't believe I won. Still can't. Granted, it was just a cupcake but it came on a day when I was really "down" and just opening the package and seeing the cupcake reminded me of being a kid and I didn't feel so "down" anymore. Then there was the package from Scott at BlueNickelStudios who sent me the goodies you see in this photo. They were my prize for taking third place in the Tootsie Roll Pop Mini Quilt Contest. This is one of those times when I say "gee, if someone had asked me if I would ever make a quilt out of Tootsie Roll Pop wrappers, I would say why would I do that?" Well, I did because it was a challenge, a lark, kind of like "coloring outside the lines".

In the bag was this panel that will make a nice wallhanging in my green bedroom that is full of quilts and bears, toys, and books and other fun stuff that my grandson enjoys. Also in the bag were two blue nickels, a trademark that comes with anything you receive from Scott. I'll keep one and the other goes to my grandson. I'm not sure but I think Scott sent me two just for that purpose because I commented on his post that my grandson wanted to know why he was painting nickels.

This whole aspect of giveaways and sharing was not what I expected from blogging. I thought I'd just be writing about my quilts, family, what I enjoy doing but it is so much more. I have now "crossed paths" with some of the most interesting bloggers and I am sure there are more to come. I have come to think of us as "a mutual admiration society", you know, like in that old song by Doris Day. We like each other because we share similar crafting or sewing interests. Then sometimes you even find out you grew up just 20 miles from each other as I did with Tammy at QuiltTherapy! So, anyway, I won on Scott's blog, so he visited my blog when I posted by "Twenty-five years in the making" quilt and he was the one who guessed the closest to the actual size of the quilt. For his efforts, I sent him fat quarters of each of the four glitter fabrics you see below. I like them a lot and plan to use them in a fall table runner. But nothing in my stash matched. Well, lo and behold, Sue at FeatherstoneQuilteworks was having a little mini Giveaway for the first three who posted a comment prior to her 10,000 visitor and I was one of them. When my little gift came in the mail - it's the leaf fabric with the beige background - I happened to lay it next to my glitteries and wow! it was just right. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was in River City Quilts in Mankato and there in the fat quarters were two pieces with purple backgrounds from the same fabric line. Lucky me, I bought them. These fabrics and a whole suitcase of fall fabrics are going with me to our retreat in just a little over a week. I will have lots of show and tell for you when we return. In the meantime, there's lots of work to do!

One can't work without nourishment, so occasionally I go downtown to eat lunch one day during the week. This week, I went to Bittersweet for the Tomato Basil Soup. Absolutely delicious!! Last week it was the Chicken Salad at Toody's and the week before my husband and I enjoyed Saturday night dinner at the Hog Wild Eatery. This is a town of just about 900 people and there are three great places to eat! Now that provides inspiration for me when I don't have to cook!!

This is the quilt that I am currently sharing that hangs in the back dining area at Bittersweet. It was a little hard to get a good picture because of the table but I think you can see that it is a pretty quilt. It's likely from the 30's, made by Mrs. Larson from Burnside, Iowa and intended for just a double bed top or it could be used on a twin bed. It's a favorite of mine and it's full story is a good one for another post at another time. By the way, see that rack that holds the quilt? A friend left that on my doorstep when she gave up quilting for knitting because she knew I would make good use of it. :-)

So, I've rattled on about all these great Giveaway's, good food, good friends, and I just have to add one more picture of the trees in our backyard. It's sort of a "giveaway", too, as in "the green leaves are giving way to red and gold more every day". :-) The prettiest colors are past but still there are days when the sun shines on the trees and they almost glow! We never had such pretty trees in our yard at our old house. I just love looking out in my backyard here!

This whole gratitude theme started when I signed up for Melissa's "Gratitude Swap" (her blog is OneCraftyMumma ) and then my swap partner, Teresa, (at DiddleDaddleDesigns) sent me that lovely "Give Thanks" mini quilt. If you check out her blog you'll see that she is posting things for which she is thankful. I like reading her lists. There is much we can be thankful for even in these tough times. I am thankful that my husband has a good job, that my kids are doing well, for my grandson whose so much fun and for my mother whose health is getting better everyday. I miss my dad but there is still joy in every day. I don't see my sister and brother often as we live a good distance from each other, but I am thankful that I have such a great sister and a great brother. I am thankful for my home, old friends and new ones which include all you bloggers that I have recently met. I am thankful that I have enough that I can share with others some of the talents and gifts that I have. I am just plain thankful and I hope you are, too. I don't know where this blogging journey will lead or if it even leads anywhere but I sure do know that I am enjoying it and right now, that is all that counts.
That's all for this post. I'm going to try my skills at a couple of tutorials this weekend so wish me luck that I do it right! And if not, please give me thoughts on doing it better!
P.S. It was quite cool here this morning and we have not yet turned on our heat. Kaiser disappeared from his usual spot in my sewing room and when I went in search of him, I found him snuggled on the couch with a comforter that Steve covers up with when he's on the couch. Caught in the act again, I am sure Kaiser is saying "Please go away, I am warm and comfy and want to go back to sleep. No paparazzi, please!"

Wednesday, October 15

Blog Pick of the Week and a Winner of the Fall into Fall Giveaway!

No more waiting.......the winner is Sherri at A Quilting Life!!! You'll find her blog here. I have sent her an e-mail and as soon as I get her snail mail address the package will be on it's way to her house. Thank you to everyone who left a comment and shared a memory of fall. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every one of them, sometimes more than once! I tried to e-mail each of you my thanks but was not able to reach each of you. But I tried! I am looking forward to the "Whirl into Winter Giveaway" that Debi is planning. Before that takes place there will be a little opportunity to win something the weekend of Oct. 24th. My daughter and I will be hosting a quilting retreat that weekend called "Friends Forever" and we are going to be preparing the favor baskets this coming Friday evening. I will prepare one extra basket for one lucky blogger. Come back on Friday, Oct. 24th and while we are at the retreat, you can sign up for a chance to win that basket. When I return Sunday evening, I'll draw a lucky name and post the winner on Monday morn, Oct. 27th.

Now to my "Blog Pick of the Week". You may have noticed that I have added a button on my sidebar for my weekly blog pick. I wasn't able to figure out how to do it but Terri at Purple&Paisley came to my rescue and in less time than I could be told how to do it, she had done it. Wow, I was impressed and very thankful! I have had so many helpful bloggers that have made it so much easier for me to learn about blogging. I wanted a way to say "hey, take a look at this blog because it's really cool" and if you have popped into my blog, I don't mind if you leave and check this one out because it is so neat. And who is my choice for this week..........well, it just has to go to Terri because she has a neat blog, shares her time and talents with others and for those of you who are doing Nanette's cottages, Terri also did the cottage block button. So take a peek at her blog (if you haven't already) and see just why I think it's a great blog.

Tomorrow I'll be posting Part II of my "Gratitude and Giveaways" post. See you then. Night all!

Tuesday, October 14

A Happy Anniversary and some Brain Power....

Today is my daughter, Collette and son-in-law, Daryl's, 11th wedding anniversary. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!! I would share a photo but all the boxes of photos are still just that - boxes of photos still not unpacked from our move here in December of 2006. That will change this winter. We are going to work on organizing our photos and try to get names of people on them before we forget who they are! And speaking of that, it will require some Brain Power to do that and did you know that searching the internet can help you get more Brain Power? Just click here and you'll find out there's more to the internet and blogging than meets the eye. Now when I feel like I am on the computer too long, I'll just remind myself that I am actually exercising my brain when I go from blog to blog and topic to topic. If my son is reading this, he is saying, you're rationalizing again, mom. Hee hee!

And don't forget that there are only about 36 hours left to sign up for my Fall into Fall Giveaway basket. Click on the photo of Percy the Pumpkin on my sidebar and add a comment about your favorite fall memory on the Giveaway post and you could be the lucky winner!

Monday, October 13

"Building" Christmas Cottages!

My hammer is neatly tucked away so that's not what I am using to "build" Christmas Cottages. No, I am using my sewing machine to make the Christmas Cottage blocks for the exchange at FredasHive and I am having a lot of fun with this!!! Designer Nanette has created a fun block that a host of bloggers are "building" and then the little houses will be sent to her, sorted out, and sent back to all of us. We will all end up with cottages from all over the country, maybe the world!! If you pop over to MelsOwnPlace today you will see that she is having a wonderful party to show you the cottages that she has created.
A couple of week's ago, I posted my sample cottage block and now I am ready to make the dozen that I need to send to Nanette at Freda's Hive. Yesterday, I "fussy-cut" all the window blocks and some of the doors. So, above, you can see my first finished block. I've decided all my cottages will be gray brick as our house is gray, so it will be my "signature". Everything else will be different. I have lots of "snow-print" fabric so all my cottages will have snowy skies. Also, I decided that I want more than twelve blocks for a quilt so I am making two of each block and will send one set of twelve to Nanette and keep the other twelve identical blocks for me. Then I will add them to the twelve I'll get back in the exchange and have 24 for a big Christmas quilt to hang on the wall! Two blocks done, twenty-two to go.......... Then when it's all done and quilted, I have a lot of Christmas buttons and embellishments that I am going to add to the finished quilt. This is going to be a lot of fun. In fact, it already is fun. Just realized that I forgot to add the trim along the roof edge so I will have to go back and do that. Time now for lunch, then some more sewing room cleaning and then another cottage block. :-)

Friday, October 10

Peeking into the Past at Wit's End!!!

I told you that yesterday I would be posting about fall colors and also my adventure at Wit's End Antiques. Well, as you can see, I posted my fall color photos but never got to my Wit's End post. You see, I got side-tracked because I started cleaning (playing) projects in my sewing room and then there was the whole stock market thing to think about and I never quite got back to posting. Here I am now and with a real "peek at the past" as I take you on a visit to Wit's End Antiques on Main Street in downtown Henderson, MN.

There are a number of lovely antique shops in our area but Wit's End has to be my favorite. Patty, the owner, used to have her shop in Jordan, MN just up the road from Henderson (another great place for fall colors) but moved her business to Henderson a few years ago. I am certainly pleased because I just love to go in the shop and wander around. Sometimes I find just a little something for me or a gift for someone else. Last year shortly before Christmas I took my son's girlfriend into Wit's End as she enjoys vintage items just like my daughter Collette and I do. She happened to comment on a lovely beaded handbag and I thought "oh, my, that's the gift I can give her at Christmas this year". I just love it when that kind of thing happens. My son-in-law ended up with a white enamel coffee pot that he loved and my husband wondered "why". I think I could safely say that my husband prefers new with a longer than-one-would-expect warranty on the item. :-) That's not what I look for as I love things that have been "dearly loved" and want to be "loved" once again! These pictures are a mix of a photos I took on a visit in mid-July and then from this past Wednesday. I found some lovely treasures to take home on both visits. :-)

Patty's shop has a first and second floor. The first floor has some lovely, fine antiques but it's the second floor that calls my name - it's only one flight up to "cottage, country and classy finds" and I am there. As you climb up the steps you can see the old "box office" window where tickets were once purchased for theatre productions for this was once the local "Opera House"! Just the thought of all the plays, the singing and dancing that must have taken place here is exciting in it's own right.

Once you step into the large room upstairs, the first thing you notice are the high ceilings and then all the things that are set about to look at. Here are some of my favorite vignettes that Patty and her staff have created for all of us who love vintage and antique items.

I love the pink wooden chairs (reproductions) and they capture your eye as soon as you come into the room. In the background you can see a whole array of things just waiting to go "home" again. :-) Each time I visit the shop, I pick up a few items so that I may give them a good home. :-)

Opposite the pink chairs, are these pretty little white wicker chairs. If I had a screened in porch, these would be mine.

Here's the corner that was once the make-up area. Can't you just picture the scurry of activity as make-up was applied, costumes changed and the call came "on stage now, act II is beginning!!"

Around the corner from the make-up area is a little niche with odds and ends. Isn't this little piece sweet? It was once an old sewing machine and the sign on it said "would make a good coffee table". I saw this piece in July and said "hmmmmmm, that would be really nice with my old quilts......."

I loved this laundry corner and that cute sign. Hope it makes you giggle just like I did!!

The kitchen corner is a favorite of mine because I love to look in the doily baskets and at the wide selection of vintage cook booklets. Most are little booklets that were likely free with a product or for a few coins and a postage paid envelope. I realized that I am now more vintage than I might like to be when I found some little booklets from the 1960's and 70's that I have at home in my cupboard! I love the ones from the 30's and 40's and each time I stop in I try to pick up a couple (by the way, I keep saying I "pick up" this and that but I do pay for the items, I don't just "pick them up and take them home"!).

Those black enamel coffee pots are similar to the one I gave to my son-in-law for Christmas last year. I remember cooking on a stove like that in one of the first apartments that we lived in. I really like cooking, though, so I am happy to buy little vintage cookbooklets but I love going home to my modern kitchen and my cooktop and oven.

Here's another favorite area in the shop - the "Chicken Coop Corner" as I call it. I had chickens in my kitchen for 33 years prior to our move and I decided they were going to be replaced by an apple theme in our new kitchen. I don't bring home any chicken items as I still have three boxes of chicken stuff to unpack that will decorate my laundry room when I get a shelf in there. Chickens remind me of my grandma and grandpa's farm and when I was a little girl. I am blessed to have such good memories of my childhood.

Dotted around the displays are a few of these lovely gift-boxed items. What a neat gift for a friend, right?

Way in the back, I found this cozy little scene and it brought two sounds to mind - the clickety-click of the old adding machine and the scratchy sound of records played on an old phonograph. I like the thought of both those sounds. Brings back memories of times in my hometown of Lehigh.

That's just a little sampling of what is on the second floor of Wit's End. Every time I visit, I see something new and always go away wishing I had a little extra cash for some certain something that caught my eye. Oh, well, another time and if it's still there when I have the extra cash, then it's meant to be mine. If not, it's a treasure for someone else to take home.

I only took a couple of pictures of the first floor of Patty's shop. This scene is on the right just as you come in the door. I love the way that she set the chest inside of the bed frame. All of her displays are just like artwork!

Speaking of Patty, here she is at the counter. Lovely lady, lovely shop. I like the name she chose. I am always at my "Wit's End" as to what items to purchase and what not to because not only can I not afford everything my eyes see but I also don't have room for all I see!!

So, you're at the end of the tour of "Wit's End". Hope you enjoyed it. In these tough economic times, think of this as shopping trip with no cost. Take an imaginary trip through the displays and pick out the things that will make you smile. And, of course, I'm sure if you see something you really like, you could stop in the shop and check it out for yourself (or give Patty a call)!
Now then, remember that little green sewing machine piece. Well, I saw the piece on my visit to Wit's End in July and it just screamed my name so I bought it. I knew it would look really nice with my vintage quilts but even more - I knew my grandson would like it as it would go in the room he sleeps in. You see, the top lifts up - as Brown Bear is so kindly showing you - and where the sewing machine once was, there is now a "cubby hole" for storage. I knew Jacob would like this feature. The first time he visited after I had bought the piece, he went up to "his room" and shortly after I followed him. Sure enough, he had already discovered the "cubby hole" feature and had placed some bears inside and other stuff. Too fun!!!

Poor Brown Bear is not left hanging, though, as the lid goes down and the quilts go on top, making a comfy place for Brown Bear and friends to sit.
You can't see the front of the "green sewing chest" but you can see how it looks just right in my little green bedroom. And so, the burning question is "what did I find to bring home from my visit this past Wednesday?" Well, I found three things that will all show up in future posts - one item has to do with crazy quilting, another has to do with the doily basket and pincushions and the last one is those little cook booklets. You'll hear more about all three in upcoming posts!
Hope you are having a great day!!

"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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