Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 is off to a Fantabulous Start!

Back from the excited as I was about going, it Far Exceeded my expectations. Someone asked me about the cruise the other day and said when I was describing it, I was positively glowing. Must have been the food. Much to update...

Good news first - my friend Edith won First Place in the block challenge! At least my block went to a good home!

I don't have a closeup, but Edith's block featured a beautiful mermaid appliqued to the fabric, swimming amongst fish and seaweed. She says she spent 3 days appliqueing everything down. It is a gorgeous block and she deserved to win. She won 16 blocks and the second place winner won 16 blocks.

The cruise was brought to you by Quilt Seminars at Sea, and I would cruise with them again in a minute. Everything was well organized and they did their best to make sure we had a good time. By the way - the whole ship wasn't quilting! Not all 2000 passengers were there to quilt - just 50-something of us! Our instructors were (L to R) Gyleen Fitzgerald, Paula Nadelstern, Sue Nickels, and Mary Sorenson.

I did all three classes with Paula. Edith and Mercidene also took classes with Sue to work on free motion quilting. Quilt cruises are really a fantastic concept...when we weren't in port, we had class, and on the days we were in port, we could do all the tours just like the regular folk. As our Cruise Director said, we could choose to do a little of it, a lot of it, or none of it at all.

Funny story - getting on the bus to the ship from the hotel, someone asked me if I was one of the instructors. I knew immediately she was talking about Gyleen, and I politely responded no, I wasn't Gyleen. Then as we were boarding the ship, someone else asked me the same thing, and I politely responded no again. When the third person asked me, I said, "Yes, yes I am. I look forward to seeing you in class!" I told Gyleen this when I met her and we had a good laugh! I only confessed because I wanted her to be aware when someone said, "Don't you remember? We met yesterday?"

And...I didn't gain any weight! Who goes on a cruise and doesn't gain weight? I wasn't trying not to...we were on vacation. I did make healthy choices (some of the time!), but I also enjoyed every meal. This was my favorite dessert:
It was a watermelon sorbet on a chocolate crust...delicious! All the food was excellent...there were a few could have been better dishes, but overall...A+.

I think I didn't gain weight because we danced just about every single night. They had an outstanding band. OMG -  let me introduce you to the B.B. King Blues All Stars. Their drummer on the left, whose name I am blanking on right now, Lil Rounds, female lead vocalist and seventh place finalist on American Idol in Season 8, and Larry Springfield, male lead vocalist, who won the 1991 Star Search competition. We ran into them one day after we were returning from a tour, and they were gracious and let us take photos.

Why yes, yes that is me with their sax player, the handsome and talented Tiger Rogers. He has dimples "you could eat soup out of" (apparently this is a saying. One of the women from Mississippi said that in describing him.)
Hmmm? Projects? Oh yes - I will probably never finish this, but this is a layout of the pieces of one block from the kaleidoscope class, and here is my completed ball from the Opulent Ornament class.
My ball was differently abled (had a huge dent in the side from travel), so I didn't want to spend a lot of time and energy on it.
All in all, a fantastic voyage. Al now wants to go on a cruise! This is the 100-year anniversary of the Panama Canal, so we have booked a November cruise! So much for no more trips than already planned. But I knew when I said it that it wouldn't happen!

My boss said dress for the job you want, not the job you have...Now I'm sitting in a disciplinary meeting wearing my Wonder Woman costume.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fanciful Fish - Acquired Taste Much Better!

I like the new version better...what do you think?


So glad to have a block done! Now I can think about packing! I'm really excited about this cruise...can't wait to try something new!
Some people are like slinkies...really good for nothing, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

An Acquired Taste

I always ask Al for input when I want an unbiased, layman's opinion. He has a good eye for color and what "doesn't look right," and he gives it to me straight, no chaser. Which is why I never ask whether or not an outfit makes my butt look big.

On the 26th, I'm taking an 11-day quilting cruise on Holland America, and taking classes with Paula Nadelstern.  I have been a long time admirer of her work, have all her books, just haven't completed any of her designs. No good reason, just haven't. For the cruise, there's a challenge where you have to complete a block with the theme, "Under the Sea." The block can be pieced, appliqued, whatever, and has to use a specific piece of fabric. The winner of the challenge gets all the blocks.

So fish are "Under the Sea." I asked Al what he thought of this block and he said, "What's it supposed to be?" "A fish!" "Yeah, it's all right. I guess it's an acquired taste." I laid out laughing! Like caviar!

In machine embroidery, there are two types of people...those who do a stitch out (practice) and those who wish they had. I actually am not in love with this block...this is my practice run. I will do it again with a different background fabric, and change up some of the thread colors, and submit one or the other.

In alcohol's defense, I've done some pretty dumb stuff while completely sober, too.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Made For Walking

Those under the age of 30 (40?) have no idea why this boot quilt has that title - LOL!  The Brown Sugar Stitchers have an exhibit at the Douglasville Art Center from January 25th through February 24th, and this is one of my entries. I haven't quite finished putting the binding on because I made a small (ha!!!) mistake...after I finished the boot, I measured from the top of the boot then from the bottom of the boot and cut it, but I forgot about the cuff! When I put the cuff on, the space from the top of the cuff is less than from the bottom of the boot. Ooops! So I'm looking at it now to try to think of what I can do to turn my lemons into lemonade. Thinking....(that's what the smoke is.)

I don't have a Twitter account, so I just go around announcing what I'm doing at random times...I've got three followers so far, but I think two are cops.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa -

I've been good all year.
OK, most of the time.
Well, once in a while.
Never mind, I'll buy my own stuff.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Brown Sugar Stitchers Christmas Party

Yesterday we had our annual Christmas Party...our guild gift this year was a pillowcase with the guild name on one side and personalized with the individual's name on the other. We had a small group this year (probably something to do with the way the holiday fell this year and proximity to Christmas), only 18, so I "volunteered" to embroider the names of everyone on the pillowcases. Why pillowcases? When we turn in quilts for shows and exhibits, we ask members to put them in pillowcases to protect the quilts from dust. We get quilts in paper bags, trash bags, boxes, and worst of all, nothing. (Always me, because I always forget. In California, we don't put the quilts in anything, so I'm in the habit of just bringing my quilt.)

The party was fun, as always. We met at Murphy's , the service was great, the food was excellent, the Bloody Mary delicious!
The winner of our raffle, donated by KiwiQuilts, was Joyce Turk.
The winner of our raffle quilt was Ali Reeves of Marietta! We hope she and her family will enjoy the quilt for many years to come!
I dream of a world where I'm in charge, chocolate makes you skinny, and everything is always 75% off. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Moody Blues

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Which is what makes a Block of the Month so appealing. You work on one block of the quilt each month (usually for a period of 8 - 12 months) and at the end of a year, ta-da! You've got a finished top! I have sooooooo many unfinished BOM's...many still in their unopened packages. And yet - I signed up for another!  Do not ask me why I didn't just work on one of the gazillion I already have. I'm not crazy about this pattern, but I wanted to do something that wasn't paper piecing and something different than what I usually do, colorwise. It's good to step outside your comfort zone, yes?

The finished quilt is called Asteria, by Tiffany Hayes. I got it from Quilting by the Bay in Panama City, Florida. I finished the first and second blocks today.  The blocks on the bottom left are me just fooling around with the layout and thinking about making another quilt as I do this one.
Let's be bad and save Santa a trip!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Need Not Be Present To Win...

...but turns out you do need to be present to sew. Who knew? There's always hand work, of course, but then I really would never get anything finished.

The trip to Australia/New Zealand was fantastic. Every day was a new adventure. If forced to choose one favorite event, it would be climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  About four hours, 1332 steps to the top, 134 metres (about 440 feet) high. I was terrified!

Second equally favorite moment - as we came through the tunnel in New Zealand, the bus driver played "What a Wonderful World."  I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat on the last drawn out note of "woooooorrrrlllllllddddddd."

And yes, I found quilt shops in Australia and New Zealand! (Of Course!) Fabric is EXPENSIVE...about $22 a metre (little more than a yard).

I came back from Australia with no chance to recover from jet lag - The Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Show opened at the AUC Woodruff Library. We hung over 70 quilts, and the opening was great. So great that the library asked if we could extend the show until May, 2014! Atlanta friends who are interested, let's go to lunch and then see the show!

111 James P. Brawley Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA.
Library Hours to view the exhibit:
9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Noon to 6:00 PM

Then I had jury duty for two and half weeks on a murder trial - couldn't believe I was selected! It was awful! I thought my liberal California butt would be excused by our conservative local Law and Order court by lunch time, but alas, 'twas not to be. I had PTSD after that trial. Just starting to recover.

But this is a blog about quilting...I've gotten a few things done. Here's an update from September to now...

Just before I left for Australia, I completed my block for the outgoing East Cobb Quilt Guild President's Quilt:
The quilt was designed by incoming president Ben Hollingsworth, and it is beautiful. I didn't get a picture of the completed quilt at guild meeting on Friday, but will post when I get one. Also, I was installed as Third Vice President - Membership on Friday.

New friend Bobbie got a shoe quilt wallhanging for her birthday:

And I finished piecing the Waterfalls top I started in Montana. I want to use it as a teaching sample.
All this traveling has been fun, but I have really missed having time to sew. I have three trips planned in 2014, but I'm not going to add any big trips (little weekend trips to quilt shows don't count), no matter what comes up. No, really.
Dear Sleep: I know we had problems when I was younger...but I love you now.
My bed is way more comfortable in the morning than it is at night.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oh - I have a blog?

This summer has flown by in a blur of travel and social activities and quilt shows. There has been some sewing, which has saved my mind. I've updated my quilting related travel to Ireland and Montana...I'll spare the details of my non-quilting related travel, except to say there is going to be another long drought of blog posts. On September 13th, I leave for 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. I'm really excited about the trip...I'll let you know if I do anything quilting related while there.

Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.


Yes, I went back to Montana and had an awesome trip! I loved the look from the bag checker in Atlanta..."Your job sending you there?" "Nope, going voluntarily." "Why????"

We had a really good group of women! There's always one person who tries to dominate the room, but not this time...Just a lot of really creative women who made me realize I really need to step up my game!

In keeping with no new UFO's, I finished piecing the Forever Yours Table Runner. I'm actually glad I worked on it before doing the Wedding Star...there are a lot of tricky places where things have to come together and a quarter inch seam allowance is crucial. In fact, I had to put my project in time out because the fabric wouldn't behave. After she had time to think about her behavior, she got right in line and behaved like a perfect lady.

This was funny - my sewing neighbor and I decided to take a walk on Tuesday. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, but we both felt like we wouldn't melt, so off we went. Of course it started to pour. We actually had to take shelter from the storm. 
Here are some of my favorite projects:
I wish you could see the colors of this quilt. It's the most beautiful Amazon Star I've ever seen. I told her she should kit it. It was cut out when she came, and she completed it before the week was over. Her friends call her "Judy Junior."
This pink and gray colorway doesn't appeal to me personally, but it is really innovative and pretty. It's the queen size version of the feathered star.

 Fourth of July pattern...another finished project!
And my new Quilting BFF Jennifer! Her Mariner's Compass is stunning!

Jennifer cracked me up the entire time. You know how people always say to "drive carefully" when you are going someplace? Jennifer would say, "Drive fast, take chances." Her rendition of "I like big butts and I cannot lie" is hilarious. As she says, you can insert any noun and it will work. As proven by Delta recently when they introduced a new plane and did "I like big planes and I cannot lie." But best of all was that Jennifer and I went to have Margaritas with Judy. Jennifer and I were talking one afternoon about going to get Margaritas and Judy said she knew the best place in the valley and would take us there. The three of us piled into Judy's truck and sat out in the sun and drank a pitcher of Margaritas at The Vista Linda.

I wasn't at all put off by the Confederate Flags on the advertisement for the Southern Catfish Buffett.

You really do see a different side of Judy when you're at the Retreat Center in Montana. One day she invited us to her lakeside home...this is the view from her backyard.

I don't want to brag or make anybody jealous, but...I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.

céad míle fáilte

...a hundred thousand welcomes! 

I so enjoyed the trip to the Quilt Festival in Ireland!!!  Yes, there were a few organizational frustrations (how do we get from the airport in Dublin on the west side of Ireland to the hotel in Galway on the east side, two and a half hours away? Oh, no one knows? Oh, it's $75?), but once those minor little details were resolved, it was a great trip.  The people were warm and friendly, the countryside is amazing, hotels we stayed in were great, food was good (as evidenced by the 5 pounds I gained...apparently eating fish and chips, eating Irish bread and butter, and drinking Jameson's whisky every night will cause weight gain. Go figure.)

The flight over wasn't too bad. Ireland is 5 hours ahead of EDT, and the flight is 7 hours, so we left NYC about 9PM and arrived in Ireland at 9 AM. The Dublin airport is very modern. Puts JFK to shame.

The tour was set up for us to do the quilt show for two days, then tour Ireland for the rest of the trip. We arrived on Wednesday, June 5th, a gorgeous, 70+ degree, sunshiny day. We took the aforementioned $75 bus from Dublin Airport and enjoyed the beautiful Irish scenery - a green patchwork lined with stone walls and dotted with sheep.  The land on the coast of Galway is really rocky, and as the rocks came up out of the ground, the farmers would stack them to mark off property lines.
Since our bus got us to Galway a little bit later than planned, we stopped and had a quick lunch (can you see the Burger King sign?),

and then went directly to the marble factory. From the marble factory, we went to the crystal factory. Guess what we were told? There is only one factory in Ireland where crystal is still made. Waterford Crystal (my favorite!) is made in Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany now.  We went to the Celtic Crystal Factory where we saw a demo and had an opportunity to buy beautiful crystal. This master craftsman is doing the equivalent of free motion quilting, carving the design into this bowl freehand. Kind of like free motion quilting without marking 
the quilt!

We had a delicious welcome dinner the first night. One of our servers made a drink and asked two of us to taste it. Shock and surprise, I volunteered to test the Irish Flag shooter. The colors of the flag are green, white and orange, and this wonderful drink is made with Crème de Menthe, Bailey's Irish Crème, and Grand Marnier. The trick is to pour it slowly over the back of a spoon so that the liquors don't blend.

On Thursday, I took my first tour of Ireland in the beautiful Connemara Region. We drove through mountains, past lakes and streams to arrive at the spectacular Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.  The castle was originally completed in 1871, by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife. Hard to take a bad picture of this picturesque location. The gardens were gorgeous.

The Quilt Festival itself was fun...they had maybe 150 quilts...different displays all over the campus of the University of Galway. Aren't these cutouts cute? They had them all over the campus by the exhibits:

This one outside the prison exhibit says, "Guilty of Hoarding Too Much Fabric!"

The prison exhibit was comprised of quilts made by prisoners in the Art and Craft class in Limerick Prison.
I'm pretty sure this is the same guy who announced the birth of Prince George:
There was an exhibit called "I Believe" at the Galway Cathedral. The quilts were hung on the walls on the side of the cathedral, representing all faiths and spiritual beliefs. We ended up at the exhibit just as a Mass was starting and decided to stay. Tracy and I said if you had told me a year ago that I would be attending a Mass in Ireland, I would have looked at you like you were crazy! I lit a candle for Libby Lehman and one for my Mom.
On Sunday our bus left Galway and drove to Killarney. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, which as you can see from this photo is spec-tac-u-lar.
Monday we went to the Dingle Peninsula, another beautiful area. Ryan's Daughter was filmed in this area. Fun Fact #1: On a clear day, you can see the Statue of Liberty from here.
OK, not really, but Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula is the most Western point of Europe.

Our bus driver was the charming Derrick.

He was funny, knowledgeable, and an excellent driver! He called us his "little flowers."  And he almost left me. The back story...Derrick was very prompt and would tell us to have our "bums warming the seats" of the bus at a certain time when we made a stop. In Dingle, we stopped at a shop which engraved your name in Gaelic on a piece of silver...earrings, bracelet, get the idea...tourist trinkets. We were supposed to have our bums warming the seats of the bus at 12:30, and I got stuck behind a woman who was having problems with her credit card. I noticed that I was the only one from my bus still in the shop, but they said, oh don't worry, they won't leave you. Riiiiiiight. Thanks to Tracy for making sure I wasn't hitchhiking from Dingle. So for our visit to Limerick, we were asked to write a limerick about our Irish experience, and here's mine:

While shopping may give you a tingle
And your purchases make the registers jingle.
Best be fast on your feet,
Bums warming your seat,
Or Derrick will leave you in Dingle.

On Tuesday we drove to the village of Blarney, where of course there is the famed Blarney Stone at the Blarney Castle. You have to queue up and climb a gazillion stairs to the tower, so I didn't do it, but walked around the beautiful grounds. We had lunch in an old horse feeding trough.  (The red thing in the back is the trough.)
Fun Fact # 2:  You know those rhododendrons that you carefully nurture, water faithfully, feed fertilizer for acid loving plants, make sure that they get the proper amount of sun, and they die anyway?  They grow wild in Ireland. They're like weeds there! They are invasive. The Irish hate them because they take over the landscape!!!  This one was easily 15 feet tall...probably more. Taken on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

More beautiful rhododendron on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there...70-80 every day! It rained the day we left! The people were positively giddy over the sun, and just like people every where, flocked to the beach when the weather was nice.

And my most favorite thing?  They drive on the left in Ireland, so when you cross the street, you have to look the other way. In downtown Galway, some of the streets were painted with this:

I would go back again, but the list of places to go and people to see is a long one. International Quilt Festival of Ireland, the vision of Jim West of Sew Many Places travel.

My dentist said I need a crown. I said, "I know, right?"