New York Spoils


Scrap pack



Nano iro2

We are home from New York.

It was a good, long, exhausting and fun week. We saw Tara and Tim twice - the perfect bookends to a week in Manhattan where we shopped, walked, shopped, ate, walked, drank, ate, drank, walked, shopped our way through Manhattan. Did I mention the eating and drinking and shopping?

All of the above came from Purl Soho with the exception of the dandelion fabric. That's from Marimekko (on sale!). The second photo is actually a scrap pack. I saw it when I walked in the store and thought about it the whole time I was there. The fabrics are not necessarily ones that I'd be drawn to on their own, but together like that? Yes. Please. And thank you, too. I scooped up the other blues and whites to go along. I know exactly what I am going to make and if I have the time, I will start it today. The green? Well, of course, I had to have that.

Now, home, I'm feeling incredibly spoiled. I have loving in-laws that take my kids so that Fatty and I can run away for a week together every summer. I have a husband who is more than a husband - he's my best friend and partner in crime. He makes me laugh and knows that if my blood sugar gets too low, it's not pretty. He holds my hand as we walk down the street and sits patiently while I spend hours looking at textiles and trying on clothes at Anthropologie. It is such a blessing to have that time alone, to be able to manage a vacation each year, to feel completely in love for the last eighteen years. I don't ever want to take that for granted. I feel incredibly blessed.

And the girls? I missed them just the right amount - not too much and not too little. We are hanging out today, running errands and doing other everyday life things like laundry and cooking. I've already referee-ed one fight and I'm sure it won't be the last. I'm slowly bringing them back to our world of limited television and healthier eating. Most of the time, I have the best job. I wouldn't change it for the world. Those girls - an equally big blessing.

Outstanding in the Field

Two weeks ago, Fatty and I, along with some friends, attended an Outstanding in the Field dinner on a beautiful farm overlooking the Ohio River. It was event that we had anticipated for many months and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful evening. From bourbon sweet tea and local wines, to the foods grown and prepared for us, everything was delicious and more. Tradition dictates that everyone brings a plate, thus allowing everyone to bring something to the long, outstretched table. It was a grand sight and sitting there, watching the sun set over the river, was an idyllic scene. I have always loved the idea behind Outstanding in the Field and I was happy that the experience lived up to that idea. Before too much time went by, I wanted to document that wonderful night. It was the first time in a long while that I felt like taking more than one or two or ten photos. I know this is a photo heavy post, but I had a hard time narrowing down my selections. These are my favorites.

Otf 1

Otf 2

Otf 3

Otf 4

Otf 5

Otf 8

Otf 7

October 4

Otf 6

Otf 9

Otf 13

Fatty 2

Otf 12

Otf 10

Otf 17

Otf 16

Otf 14

October 4 b

Blueberries for Fatty

Blueberry 2

Blueberry 3 


  Blueberry 7

Blueberry 5 

Blueberry 4

I woke the girls early this morning, met a friend at the coffee shop for some to-go treats and then we hit the berry patch.  The only blueberry picking I had done before was in Alaska on our honeymoon and those little gems were wild and everywhere in Denali National Park.  This experience was entirely different and so fun.  No bending over like with strawberries and no thorns like with raspberries.  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 70's.  Indeed, it was a glorious morning.  As soon as the first berries fell into my bucket, the girls said the plink sound reminded them of Blueberries for Sal, one of our favorite storybooks.  I love that book! I wish I could say that I was planning on canning these like Sal's mother.  I'll probably bake batch of muffins or scones, or maybe a coffee cake and the remaining majority of the 17 pounds will be frozen for Fatty, who likes a handful in his cereal every morning.

I had good intentions


This weekend I got to everything on my list except the quilt binding and the hand sewing.  Not bad.  I made the binding today and it'll go on tomorrow.  Hopefully, I will finish it on Wednesday.

We did go to the farmers market as a family.  After I had bought two huge cinnamon rolls for the girls, I picked up some roma tomatoes, yellow squash, french red fingerling potatoes, pork chops, bison steaks and zinnias.  Later in the morning, we embarked on a family adventure to Madison, Indiana.  On the way there, we picked up some peaches and blueberries.  Once there, we walked around town and shopped.  It was a fantastic day.  Fatty and I know how to shop well together - I blitz through antique stores and he lolly-gags.  He's always calling after me, to show me the good stuff I missed. We came home with a lot of treasures.  LOTS.  And that isn't even the best part.  The best part is........



This, in and of itself, was worth the trip.  These young ladies lasted all day through two large antique malls plus a few stores here and there.  Fatty gave them each $5 at our last stop.  They shopped and shopped, trying to find THE PERFECT THING.  And in one of the last booths we entered, there were tons of vintage, handmade doll clothes in a basket for $1 to $2 an outfit.  I helped them go through and decide which would fit the dolls they had at home and for a couple of bucks, they each took home a treasure.

The way I look at it, we all came home winners.

And, I get to thrift and antique a little more often.


What a weekend

We are easing into summer around here.  Swim practices, play dates with friends, getting ready for camp, backyard barbecues, impromptu parties and just hanging out.  It's been good and tiring all at the same time.  I've been falling in to bed, exhausted after long, overfilled days.  All good.

Tracy came to visit over the weekend.  We hung out and drank beer.  We took the girls swimming and chatted poolside.  There were margaritas and corn salad.  Caroline took the two of us on a field trip.  We took lots of photos of old buildings, tramped through fields in inappropriate foot wear and had many laughs.  There was a flat tire on the side of the highway and the nicest rescue ranger got us on the move quick-like.  Oddly enough, the flat tire only added to the fun of the afternoon.  Tracy also made me a quilt.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.







What a weekend.

Advanced Improv with Denyse Schmidt

In November, I went to Denyse Schmidt's workshop and it was an a amazing experience.  Denyse just wrote about the class on the Purl Bee the other day.  You can read about my experience here and see a quilt I made using the technique I learned here.  For Christmas, Fatty gave me a gift certificate for Denyse's Advanced Improv class so the two of us took a trip to New York last weekend so I could cash it in.

The whole idea behind the advanced improv class is to take an idea and to develop it into a plan for a quilt.  I struggled for many weeks about what to actually work on in this class. What it came down to in the end was what I had on hand.  And what I have is a HUGE stack of Heather Bailey fabrics to use for Jane.  I was planning to make her a zig zag quilt, but never started it.  So, I chose the one large-scale floral that her room colors are based on and started buying solids to go with it.  I want something suit a 9 year old and a 19 year old, something she won't outgrow before it's even finished.

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The night I made the homework blocks, they didn't seem that bad.  It was late, I was (over)tired and put them in pile, happy to have that bit of business finished.  The next day, after I took this photo, I knew it was bad.  Really bad.  And the one block that I didn't like while I was piecing them, was the one I liked the best of all.  When I say best, that is an exaggeration - it was like the least offending of all four.  I didn't have any spare time to do them over or even make another two.

At the studio on Saturday, I showed my blocks and inspiration fabric to Denyse, Richard (her teaching partner) and my two fellow classmates.  I explained why I chose these colors and who the quilt would be for.  I went through the laundry list of things I didn't like:  the proportion was off; the dark pink really, really bothered me (and everyone else!); the rest of the pink wasn't much better; I felt I needed more neutrals (maybe a brown?).  What I did like about these blocks was that there were "L" shapes made by strips of continuous colors in all of them.  The repetition of that pattern was really appealing to me.  The somewhat monochromatic blue/green/yellow block was the one I liked best and I wonder aloud if maybe I should take the pink out all together or separate it somehow. 

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After some consultation, I started sketching a bit and playing with fabric.  Denyse and Richard pulled bolts of different solids and we compared them to the ones I had.  We picked a few more yellows to add in - a pale butter, a bright lemon and a mustard - along with a second lime green and a second ivory.  We talked about cutting up the floral fabric to use it as a solid.  Then I started sewing.

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I liked my first block and used it as a starting point to make other blocks.  I made some blue blocks, some pink blocks, and per Denyse's suggestion, an ivory one.  I took Richard's suggestion and used the Heather Bailey fabric as a print in some places and as a solid in others.  I strategically cut it to get pieces that were mostly pink or green or yellow or just the background alone.  I repeated the "L" shape in all the blocks and used the ivory for continuity.  Five blocks into this project, I like where it is going.  I like the log cabin-ish centers and the small (well, small for me) scale of the blocks.  The muted yellows, especially the mustard, help ground all those easter egg pastels and tone down that dark pink.

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I haven't worked on it any more since I have been home.  I have been letting the process and the ideas percolate a bit.  I am going to keep at it, though.  I think I will have to make at least four more blocks to see if I can make this quilt come together the way I want.  I will be pulling some other prints from my stash to see if I can add a few more bits of interest and texture. If it doesn't come together, that is ok, too.  I am learning so much about myself as an artist just through the process.  That alone is enough.

A big thank you to Denyse and Richard.  You guys are great inspiration and a lot of fun!  I appreciate your feedback and encouragement.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you come up with another class.  I'd love to come back!

Words can not do it justice

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Mar 7 107_1_1

I went to Baltimore this weekend.  I was excited when I boarded the plane on Friday morning.  To say it was fun and good is an understatement.  The women I met were incredible, their families friendly and welcoming.  I stayed with Emily, spent time at Molly's and had a visit from Jennifer.  There was lots of talking, great food, cameras clicking, more talking and then talking some more.  When I arrived, it was like meeting pen pals I had known for a long time.  When I departed, I left behind dear friends.  Thank you, silly old blog, for connecting me with them.  I feel lucky and blessed to have these people in my life.

All the trimmings

I was going through some photos and found these that I took while in New York a couple of weekends ago.  These are the Anthropologie windows at Rockefeller Center.  Just a little eye candy to get your holiday decorating ideas percolating.





I think it might be a good weekend to have the girls start making paper chains or snowflakes.  I'll be making pie crusts and finalizing my Thanksgiving menu.  Bring on the holidays - I can't wait!

Saturday Afternoon

So, on Saturday, I went to Denyse Schmidt's studio for a workshop.  Yes, I did.  That was really my birthday present, the rest of the trip was like icing on the cake.  I took the train from NYC to Fairfield, CT, where my friend Cynthia (hi Cynthia!) picked me up.   We had a quick hour or so to visit before she drove me to Bridgeport where Denyse's studio and business are located.  I arrived a few minutes early, set out my cutting mat, rotary cutter, scissors and thread and chatted with the other ladies who were there for the class.  It was an amazing group of woman - all but one of the eleven had traveled to be there.  And after quick introductions all the way around, Denyse explained to us what we were going to do.  It was all about improvisational piecing, the fabrics being chosen by chance.  If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I like to have control.  I think and over-think when I am sewing far too often.  This was just the type of exercise I needed.


My first block started with a peach colored, small scale polka dot and a burgundy solid.  Not really my colors, but I was going with the flow.  I then drew out a small bit of orange followed by a gold batik.  I was happy with it - they were all in the same color family - until I that blue, black and white print came out of the bag.  I did not like it, not one bit.  But I used it because I had to.  There was not throwing anything back.


This is what I ended up with.  Not too bad for the first go-round.  I would have added more of the blue and black print had there been enough time.


This shows everyone's first round squares.  When I saw them up on the flannel wall, I was amazed at how they looked together.  What I noticed looking at my square on the wall and not flat in front of me was that it was very, very log cabin-ish.  There isn't anything wrong with that - I like making log cabins.  But the problem was that I like making log cabins.  I was there to challenge myself and to learn something new.


My second square was not log cabin in style at all. (It's the one over on the left, all by itself).  I didn't realize it until it was finished, but the first fabric I pulled was on one end of the block and not in the middle.  I liked this square a lot.  It was very different from what I did on the first round.


We then set out to make four to six blocks with the fabric we brought as a constant.  I brought the green/white/brown print.  It was interesting to see how everything changed when choice was added to the process.  I had never thought about this before.  That extra decision made a big difference.  It was a bit freeing for me - I knew that all the blocks I made would be cohesive in some way.  At the same time, however, I found myself starting to over-think a bit, worrying that the prints I was pulling would take away from the entire piece.  I realized that if I went with my first instinct and kept moving at a fast pace, the over-thinking fell to the side and I just focused on creating.  And in the end, I was very happy with what I created.  With my six blocks, I have the beginnings of something bigger.  I'm pumped up to put it all together and keep sewing.


I left there completely inspired.  Denyse is an talented artist and a wonderful teacher.  Her insight into the finished blocks was poignant and she was so enthusiastic about our work.  Her friend, Richard, who helped out the entire day, was great, too.  I really enjoyed meeting the other women in the class, talking to them and seeing what they made.  It was remarkable to see eleven different blocks, made by eleven different people, each with its own point of view, that looked so cohesive when grouped together.


Denyse has workshops a few times a year.  If you are in the area, or can get yourself there, go.  It was amazing for me.  I left feeling inspired and invigorated, ready to create.  I can't imagine that you all wouldn't like it, too.


Friends, Family, Pretzels and Beer

This past weekend, we traveled to Wisconsin for my cousin Dallas's wedding.  On the way there, we made a pit stop in Madison to see Tracy and Nate.


The two hours went by super fast - we had such a great time.  Tracy and I are total dorks - in the best way.  If you don't believe me, look here and here.

Saturday, before the wedding, we went and toured the Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls.  Lucky us, we had a private tour from none other than Jake Leinenkugel himself.  I guess it pays to have friends in the beer business. (Thanks Dad!)





Yes, that pretzel was just as good as it looks.  Of course, the Fireside Nut Brown was even better.

We had a great time at the wedding - the bride was beautiful and we danced a ton.  Sunday morning, we drove 10 hours home.  I managed to screw up my tangled yoke in the car, but made a recovery after not allowing any one in my family to speak to me while I untangled it.  I'm past the cable, ready to start the short rows.  Cross your fingers for me.  I really need to be finished with this.

Have a great day, everyone.

Vacation fabric shopping

Thanks for all the pajama pant love!  They were such a satisfying and fast project - I am sure there will be more.  Maybe even some for me!

Many of you asked about the fabric I used for Jane's pair.  I picked that up in Sarasota at Sew Worth It (thanks for telling me about that store, Celene!) along with some other goodies.


These are all part of Flutterby by Moda.  The pink and aqua ladybugs were bought for p.j. pants (I told you the idea was floating around in there for awhile!) and the others are half yard cuts I am going to use in various patchwork projects.  And maybe a skirt or two for the girls.


These beauties are part of the Cake Rock Beach collection by Joelle Hoverson, owner of Purl and Purl Patchwork in New York.  I was very excited to see these in person as I am not sure that any of my local fabric stores will carry them!  All of the prints are gorgeous with deep saturated colors - I have a feeling I will be ordering more of the collection from sometime soon.


These last pieces are from different collections - an Amy Butler print, the Joel Dewberry woodgrain I have wanted for awhile and a green polka dot from Moda.

OK, then....not sure if I will be back tomorrow or next week.  My right wrist is sporting a new accessory and it is really limiting my motions.  I'll just have to see if there is anything crafty I can do.  I'm thinking embroidery.  If not, then I guess it is time to get caught up in a good book.  Take care friends!

It's been so nice


I'm sitting here thinking I should probably be packing our suitcases, but I don't want to.  We have had such a lovely has been restful and relaxing and to top it off, the girls have been so agreeable.  And pretty nice to each other.  Kind of like a dream.  Additionally, I am not sure how I am going to fit everything in the bags.  You see, I picked up some new flip flops, a couple of skirts and fabric.  Too much fabric - well, kind of.  Can you have too much fabric?  Don't say yes.

While on vacation, I've been snooping around the net, reading your blogs, commenting a tad bit, not really too much, and dreading re-entry into normal life.  School is back in session on Monday and my big race is coming up in about two weeks.  I have a little injury so I am resting, trusting that it will be OK in time.  I have been working on checking number 2 off of my personal goal list since January.  And I will be really sad, probably devastated, if I cannot run.  I have an overnight trip to Chicago smashed in there and a family event the day after the race, too.

So I am predicting more quiet for a couple of weeks - here and elsewhere.  I'm not proclaiming a total break, but maybe a little siesta.  Back soon friends.



So far this vacation:

- we have been in the pool everyday.

- at one point, all four of us had our noses in good books.

- I went on a 7 mile run.  And I liked it.

- there have been margaritas every night.

- Fatty has golfed with his dad.

- I have started cutting a quilt with my mother-in-law.

- the girls have gone swimming in the dark.  twice.

- I have napped every afternoon.

The best part?  We still have four more days.


So the weekend was great.  Juno was fantabulous.  Really.  Fatty and I went to our favorite Mexican joint then to the bookstore before the movie.  This is our standard date night and it has been a long time since we had one.  So good.  I like date night.  It just makes me happy.

During the day, I had my class on the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR).  Yes, I have a Bernina.  I know, I all thought I had a Babylock.  Well, I do.  And as much as I love that machine, it has spent too much time in the shop within the past year.  I think that is because I use it for utilitarian, everyday sewing so much more than I use it for embroidery.  Anyhow, I have been on the look out for a back-up machine for awhile.  What I ended up with is now my primary machine, with the Ellageo taking back up status.  I got a great deal on the Bernina Aurora 430 back in November.  I didn't open the box until January.  I know that is plain crazy, but I just didn't have time for a learning curve with all the holiday gifts hanging over my head.

So I started the new year with a new machine.  And I love it.  I have been using it for my x quilt (5 x's down, 4 to go, in case you were wondering) and did my first batch of applique t-shirts on it without too many problems.  Good, right?  Well, after my BSR class, it is even better.  It is great.  I can now free motion quilt (which never worked so well on the Babylock).  Look and see:


It's not the best, but look!  I stitched a house with a tree free hand and then wrote with thread.  So cool!


I also drew a bicycle for fatty.  If you look closely, you can see my name upside down, stitched with a double needle.  Fun stuff, I tell you.


And here is some bobbin work - the fancy, glittery thread goes in the bobbin and you use regular thread up top.  So cool!  Glitter and loops, for you, Daria.

It is safe to say that I am addicted to the free motion thing now.  I need to practice a TON more, but then, watch out!  The project ideas are swimming in my head.  Of course, I am going to play it safe and use the walking foot for the string x quilt - I think it begs for straight lines.  Then it's pillows and potholders with free motion.  I can't wait!