Far-Flung Friends, Reunited

July was a busy month, and August is doing its best to keep up! The highlight of July, as usual, was my annual retreat in St. Cloud, MN with…

CindyCollage

Cindy

MaryCollage

Mary

MichelleCollage

Michelle

ReneCollage

Rene

StephanieCollage

Stephanie

ToniCollage

Toni

AmandaCollage

Amanda

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and myself.

This year, we sadly missed our friends from Missouri and Wisconsin–hopefully they can both make next year.  It’s hard to put this friendship into words; I treasure each and every one of these ladies and I’m so glad I took a leap of faith four summers ago and drove to St. Cloud to spend three days with a group of complete strangers (a very scary and anxious prospect for an introvert like me!)

From the pics above, you get a little taste of what everyone worked on over the weekend, but there was also plenty of laughing, sharing, eating, brain-picking, debating, Instagramming (is that a word?), even a little sleeping.  No one was ever far from their technology (typical, in a room full of bloggers)…

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(In the center photo shows evidence of what happens when a group of bloggers go out.) A few years ago, someone started the tradition of exchanging “happies”… I forgot to take a single photo of the happy that Toni and I collaborated on, but these are the goodies I received:

Happies

a Minnesota trivet and drawstring bag from Cindy

a “pencil” pencil case and luggage tag from Mary

a mini pincushion from Michelle

a wool needle case from Stephanie

A thread catcher and FQ from Amanda

and Montana Cowboy Chocolate from Rene

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Love these ladies — everyone needs a group of friends like this!

Really Random: the 3 R’s

The blog got very quiet when November arrived, did you notice?  November is the month I dread, because at work it is my most challenging and stress-inducing month, and incidentally, seems to be the  l o n g e s t.  At the end of the day I am fairly well spent, and have little time for sewing or socializing, much less blogging about any of it.  Today is the 15th, it’s half over.  Praise the Lord!

I’ve been doing some Pinterest cooking (you know, pinning recipes) and then making them by reading them on the iPad on the kitchen counter. Would you like to see what I’ve made and know how I rated it?

  • I made this Spaghetti with Creamy Butternut Leek Parmesan Sauce.  I’d give it 3 stars; delicious, but mine didn’t look anything like her’s, and the leftovers weren’t fabulous.  A recipe has to provide GREAT tasting leftovers to get 5 stars from me.
  • These I made and enjoyed for days following.  5 stars fabulous.
  • I’m a comfort food junky during times in my life, like “November”, and when the temps start to dip.  One of my faves from childhood?  Grilled cheese and tomato soup. This recipe got another 5 stars.  But sadly, I will never be hired as a food stylist…  Agreed?
  • Gina’s Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork in the slow cooker gets 4.5 stars.  Even my sweetie raved about this one (it’s not that he doesn’t like my cooking, it’s that I am more adventurous with “healthy eating” than he cares to be…) ;-)
  • And he gave the No Sugar Sloppy Joe’s 5 stars, I gave them a 3.5 because I wasn’t crazy about the BBQ sauce I used.  Will try this again and tweak it, ’cause Kelly does write some great recipes, and I love the low-no sugar ideas she comes up with.

I also made pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend, as in, I baked two sugar pumpkins and everything.  Followed this recipe for the most part.  It was fabulous, at least 6 stars tasty.  It is, of course, long gone.

I have a bunch of pumpkin stuff pinned, that I am hoping to try next week.  Well, Pumpkin is one of my comfort foods, too, y’know.

Tomorrow I am heading to retreat.  I am over-the-moon THANKFUL for the vacation day from work and looking forward to hours and hours of sewing time…

Hoping to finish up this quilt top:

btw, go see Stephanie, she finished her Urban Nine Patch quilt top (those 3 awesome blocks on the left) — a  really cool quilt…

And go see Cindy, where I’m linking up today, for Really Random Thursday.

Live A Colorful Life

Happiness, delivered.

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 12

Yesterday I showed you the wonderful happy I received from Mary. Today, I’ll show what I sent to Cindy in Fresno, CA. Cindy makes all manner of fun selvage items, her most recent came in SECOND in a recent online contest, Texting while Sewing:

I’ve started collecting my selvages, but I had yet to make anything with them.  I knew I had to include something with a selvage for Cindy… but what?   I had seen this pincushion and sewing kit on someone’s blog recently, as part of the Zakka Sew-Along–suddenly I knew this was the item to create for Cindy and just how I would use the selvage!  I don’t own a copy of the book, so I made this up as I went along, and modified it to make it work for me.

The pincushion is filled with walnut shells (why?  They are inexpensive and readily available… and the crushed shells work like emery, keeping your pin and needle points sharp!)

Yep, I buy it at a pet store, a giant bag is under $10.00.  Fill your pincushion with a funnel, and stitch up the opening.  Easy as that.

The pincushion fits nicely inside this roll-up sewing kit, which has small pockets to hold your package of needles, thread, your English paper piecing hexies(!), your scissors, your thimble, etc…

Most of Cindy’a kit came from my scrap bin, except for the green “tree” print used for the binding and one end of the pincushion.  I chose that fat quarter because I had purchased it at Grubers last year, the same weekend I met Cindy for the first time.  The entire kit rolls up and ties nicely, for a fun take along sewing kit:

The band is attached, it is another piece of selvage dots (from a Dr. Seuss fabric as it had the brightest colors I could find!) and satin ribbon for the tie.  Enjoy, Cindy, I had a lot of fun making this for you!

p.s  HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN to my beautiful Goddaughter, Leah!  

(My God, how did sixteen happen?!?)

 

A Challenge

At some point about midway through retreat last weekend, everyone decided on something to challenge themselves.  Either a sewing skill they had never tried, or one they were uncomfortable with, learning a new craft or technique, or just stepping outside the box.  It’s always good to push yourself a little, right?

Stephanie chose curved piecing using her new Quick Curve Ruler (see those awesome Urban 9 Patch blocks?).  She also brought along an amazing medallion quilt for show-and-tell, and her tiny duffle bag made from Lucy’s Crab Shack scraps was the envy of everyone of us!

Amanda challenged herself to learn how to put in a zipper (taught by Terri).  She quilted her Oatmeal quilt (the entire thing) using the cursive e design, and shared her 36 patch quilt that she was making blocks for at last year’s retreat, and she made the cutest little fabric buckets (we each took one home!):
Cindy flew to Minnesota from California for retreat, along with her favorite Singer Featherweight (ahem.  it’s my favorite, too).  She has the most impressive selvage camera strap–seriously, what a great use of SCRAPS!  And her llama quilt blocks are truly awesome!  Cindy’s husband (a Minnesota native) joined her on Sunday and they were spending the rest of the week driving around Minnesota visiting family.  Cindy challenged herself to try free-motion quilting–and she liked it!

Mary’s challenge was trying crochet, she was teaching herself from a book she won on Cindy’s blog last week–studying and learning with all that activity going on around her!  She brought along an intricate piecing project that she hadn’t touched since February, that’s it in top left photo–she nearly completed the top and my photo does not do it justice!
Terri is back in school, studying graphic art and design.  She doesn’t have a lot of time to sew these days, so she took full advantage of her three days of sewing time.  She made two patchwork rugs, a scrappy pincushion, a tablecloth, table runner, a giant pincushion, a wrist rest and I’m guessing several other items I forgot about already!  I don’t recall what she challenged herself too, but no worries, there was no moss growing on her sewing machine.  ;-)
Rene flew in from the Pacific Northwest to join us, and brought along three beautiful show-and-tell quilts, including the peace sign quilt same made for her first grandson, who is just a few weeks old.  She worked on a shot cotton quilt, with fussy cut cowboy (and cowgirl!) fabric, and even challenged herself to go 3-D with a pincushion project after some coaxing from the rest of us.
Michelle, Rene’s little sister, joined us again this year from Georgia, and she still claims to be a new quilter, but this girl has made some serious strides!  She even shared a quilt this year (a challenge for her), the mini quilt in aquas and browns that she made for her sister’s birthday, that blew us all away–it’s beautiful!  And the fabric she bought at Grubers last year made a return trip to Minnesota and were turned into some very pretty window blocks.
I worked on my Love in a Mist Bee quilt top (it may actually be a quilt one day), cut oodles of 5″ hexagons for my niece’s quilt (thank you, Go! Cutter), paper-pieced blocks for a table runner from my scraps… and my challenge was to re-learn Adobe Illustrator, or at least enough to make diagrams for the newest quilt pattern.  I was grateful to have Terri in the room to help when I got stuck.  Diagrams drawn and complete!

  • Do you challenge yourself to try new things?
  • What sewing technique would you like to try (if nothing was holding you back)?

Quilting is my Therapy, too.

Angela has a familiar sounding blog title; I’m not sure I know a quilter that hasn’t used the phrase, or at least agrees with it!  Quilting is my therapy, and quilt retreats are the best form of that therapy!  Last weekend was spent with seven lovely bloggers in Waite Park, MN, at Grubers Quilt Shop Retreat Center.  This is our third Summer retreat, and each year Day 1 is just like a reunion of old forever friends.  I am blessed, and honored, to call them friends.  Here we are just before heading home on Sunday (standing in front of Terri’s lovely patchwork):

back row, l to r:  Me, Michelle, Rene, Terri, Mary

front row, l to r:  Cindy, Amanda, Stephanie

Most of the people I know don’t understand why I enjoy quilt retreats; and I’ve never found a good way to explain it to a non-quilter.  But maybe visually, with a few shots of our sewing space, I can make it a little easier to comprehend.

Sewing and quilting can be a very solitary activity, lots of quiet time for introspection, relaxation, contemplation.  But at retreat–cutting, piecing and sewing is surrounded by a flurry of conversation, laughter, shared obsessions; room to spread out with our sewing machines, iPads, laptops, etc., play together and inspire each other:

I borrowed this pic from Stephanie, because it is a great shot of the space, the table, and of Rene!

In a room full of bloggers, you’re bound to see some blog reading, writing, emailing, and texting going on…

Last year, we started a practice of exchanging happies (Rene explained the origin of “happies” in this post), no one is expected to give happies, but if you want to, they are always received with open arms.  Last year I was not on the ball, I did not give happies.  But this year I arrived the evening before everyone else, so I used the extra time to make each of my friends a vinyl zipper bag to hold sewing and quilting notions:


And what they look like inside:


I’m trying to decide if I should write a tutorial for those bags… what do you think?

and (OH, my!) the happies I received:

  • A mini-trash-bucket made by Amanda (at the top of the photo);
  • Lucy’s Crab Shack sachets made by Stephanie, along with a copy of The Quilted Fish book she is featured in!
  •  A zipper bag made by Terri from her own Spoonflower designed fabric!
  • A Mardi Gras themed FQ and “therapy in session” door sign from Michelle;
  • Gourmet chocolates and FQs from Rene, each representing part of where she calls home.

I brought home plenty of things I “treated” myself to in the way of fabric, as well as an autographed copy of Amanda’s book, Sunday Morning Quilts.  Such talented friends–thank you all!!!  We already have next year’s July retreat booked.

  • Do you go to quilt retreats?  Have a favorite you return to over and over?
  • Does your family or group of friends have a tradition or practice similar to the Harper family practice of giving happies?

Creative Clips-Leap Week

Last weekend I attended a quilt retreat, approximately 80 miles from home.  I went Friday and stayed until noon on Saturday, and I only accomplished one thing: cutting out the rest of the pieces for my Candied Hexagons quilt:

and those pieces look like such a small pile, but it isn’t small at all.  There are at least 18 half blocks, and 30 full hexagon blocks represented in that photo.  Lots of tedious cutting, using Mari Michell Templates (set H) and a Clover 28mm Rotary Cutter.  I spent much of my Grubers retreat weekend last July cutting pieces for this quilt, too.  It’s probably best I didn’t keep track of the hours (cutting or hand-piecing), it is by far my most time consuming quilt to date.

I brought this home, along with a borrowed Go! Cutter, to make another, far less time consuming hexagon quilt!

I bought a few end-of-the-bolt goodies at the shop that hosted the retreat, and she had a buy one-get one free book sale, so….  

You can probably tell by my photos here that I have yet to read that top book (HA!), and I’ve already made a project from the bottom book (blog post coming tomorrow!!).  Both of these had been on my Amazon wishlist for a while, so I couldn’t resist the BOGO special.

What else have I been doing this week?  Getting to know my new acquaintance…

I think we’re going to be great friends.