Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Post of The Year

We hope you are having a wonderful holiday that's been filled with friends, family, and feasts.  Are you planning one more party?  Maybe drinking a little of the bubbly?

Bill and I have been drinking quite a bit here, but it's not champagne.  No.  We bought each other a coffee maker for Christmas.  "Coffee-maker" just doesn't seem to do it justice.  Coffee system?  Caffeine delivery mechanism?  After many coffee makers that have all seen their demise, we bought the new shiny toy that is on the market right now - the Keurig Platinum Plus.    I can vouch for it's spiffiness. We get super hot, fresh coffee in under a minute.  It's brewed to your desired strength and temperature.  What a fun toy.  We've been drinking more coffee this past week than these people.

Yes, we know that brewing one hot, perfect cup at a time is more expensive than brewing a pot - but we usually just want one cup at a time.  No more pouring out cold, stale, half pots of coffee.  What makes it even better..... I got this

Breville Frother

A Breville Frother to steam and froth milk to make cappuccinos.  I'm in heaven.  I have a big cappuccino in the morning and in the evening I have a hot cup of herbal tea (which we have the pods for) or a hot chocolate.  Just froth the milk, add the cocoa and it's the best hot chocolate ever.   Why do you ask, am I telling you all this boring stuff about our caffeine consumption?  Well, Bill has taken to the frother too.  He used to be a regular Joe type of guy - coffee, maybe some cream and that was it.  Not now.  He is frothing up milk from morning till night.  Yesterday he told me gleefully that he just invented a new drink!!  Coffee, frothed milk, and cocoa - all together.  Should I tell him that somebody has already thought of that?

Starbucks Cafe Mocha


Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Stress

Have you been stretched too thin, both economically and emotionally?  Too many things to do and not enough time?  Somebody knows how you feel.
What's that in front of Gibby, you say?  Why it's my new spool of 28 weight Aurifil thread I got for hand quilting.  I had just started using it last night. It looks a bit different now than when I unwrapped it yesterday.

It must taste delicious, imported from Italy and all.........


I had just started to quilt the Hawaiian quilt.  Good thing I ordered 2 spools.

Gibby says not to let the stress get to you.  Take out your anxiety on some helpless, inanimate object.  Preferably one that must be special ordered and takes a week to arrive.

Merry Christmas


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Virtual Decorating

Christmas Tree place card courtesy of

Most of the decorating this year will be virtual decorating.  Sigh.  It has something to do with a house full of fabric, unexpected dog-sitting,  and my dining room table looking like this....

Kits, and lots of them.  This is the first stage of cutting, kitting and shipping to France.  I could almost feel sorry for myself, but it does mean that we get to go to France in a few months.  Pinch me.

In the process of cutting these kits I found I have a little bit left over.  Two kits here, three kits there...... not quite enough to put up on the website, but enough to let some of you know they are available.  
So, these very limited runs and unpredictable items will go up in our new Etsy shop!!!  I'll be adding more items as they become available.

I'll have our trusty website person put up a button on the blog.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Decorations

Anthropologie window at Rockefeller Center
Holiday Decorations in New York City
The exquisite windows at Ralph Lauren, Madison Avenue - NYC
While Polly and I got a little bit of business done in New York this past week, everywhere we looked the holiday decorations were out.  They were wonderful.  The theme at the Anthropologie this season is white paper.  All the stores will be decorated in some way using this.  We could go on and on about Anthropologies' decorating, but know this - all stores have the same theme and they are given free rein in how they accomplish it.  Just know that the high profile store at Rockefeller Center out does everyone in this feat.  This store is a must see in New York every holiday season.

If you have followed Polly's home in many publications over the years - you know her holiday decorating is pretty good too.

I try, but I'm not up to Polly's level (but who is?).  This was my tree from a couple years ago....

What about this year, you ask?  Nada.  Nothing.  Between travel and other stuff..... it hasn't happened yet.  Actually what is filling my house at the moment is this.

I'm trying to cut kits for a workshop in France that happens in a few months (more about that later!).  I need to cut kits, because I sort of need how to figure out how to ship them there.  Anyhow..... in the process of stepping over piles of fabric bolts I now know I can cut a couple kits and offer them here - just in time for Santa to put one under your tree.

I have a very limited supply of Ellen's Sewing Basket quilt kits (2 to be precise).  The kit features over 17 yards of Independence Trail fabric and makes this.....

Our website person in on vacation, so I won't put it up on the website - if you are interested in this kit - just email me HERE and I'll get it off to you.  The kit is $200.00 and includes shipping if you are in the contiguous 48 states.  An additional shipping charge will be added if you want it shipped international.

Hope your decorating is going as planned.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Shoes

How has your week been?  It's been very good here.  I've gotten a little work done on some projects while waiting for 2 different ones to be mailed to me.  It seems the secret to being productive is to have something to work on at all times.  I finished the 2nd block of the Spirit of Sacagawea Block of The Month class.

While stitching on this and other projects I listened to an audio book - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Whoo-whee.  One third of the way through I thought the characters were annoying and insipid.  Halfway through things got VERY interesting.  All I will say is that if you are looking for a feel-good holiday read - don't go near this, but if you want a devious thriller - jump right in.

Bill and I are packing for a short trip for a hockey tournament.  We are looking forward to it as we had another little hockey event planned that is now been cancelled.  The Winter Classic was to be played right here in Ann Arbor on New Years Day, but a little disagreement between millionaires and bigger millionaires put a kibosh on that.  Boo.

I added another border or two to Mrs. Billings Coverlet.  The next border involves hexagons.  While I was at Happiness is Quilting in McKinney Texas last month, Wendy showed me her paper piecing project.  And she showed me this........

The Sewline glue pen.  Yep, Wendy just marked the glue pen on all 6 edges of her hexies - and folded back the fabric.  DONE!  This will be my "car project" on the way to the hockey tournament: glue basting hexagons instead of stitch basting.  I expect I can get all the needed hexagons basted in one 4 hour car ride.  

Once back from the tournament - I unpack, do a load of laundry, repack and head to the airport.  Polly and I have a little trip planned to do some business, have meals with friends, and maybe take in a few holiday sights.
Bergdorf's Christmas Windows 2012
Christmas window displays can be the best entertainment in town.

Oh, and I found these on my doorstep this week.  I'm in love.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Does Pat Sloan Ever Sleep?

I believe the days are speeding up.  That's the only explanation.  Time for tinsel, lights, and pretty wrapped treasures.  Not here, of course - but I'm optimistic.  Soon.   I bet Pat Sloan's house is decorated already.   More about Pat, a little farther down this post.

There are several projects going on here in different stages.  Some on paper, some on cloth, and some only dreamt about.  I hope to be able to show more soon.  I do have this project - The Mrs. Billings Coverlet by Somerset Patchwork & Quilting.  This is what my hand piecing looks like in my lap....

I just added the 5th border today.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I LOVE it, but the pressing of this project is vexing.  There are many pieces here, most on the bias.  Karen's wonderful instructions suggest to finger press, so not to stretch out your quilt top.  I can agree wholeheartedly with this recommendation - yet I WANT to press.  I long to iron.  Mrs. Billings is looking a little wrinkled and puffy right now - like she has had a wild night out on the town.

So, except for the center block of hexagons, this has only been finger pressed.  I so want to steam this baby into submission, but know that isn't really wise at this point.  Yet I see other peoples Mrs. Billings posted online looked prim and starched.  C'mon people - confess that you're pressing this.

Besides that little problem - I love working on this and am dreading the time when it has to be put away for awhile.

Make sure to stop over at Pat Sloan's Blog today - she is having Pat Sloan's Holiday Giveaway!
Today she is talking about Polly and I.  No doubt Pat is talking about us because she is delirious.  She is one of the hardest working women in the textile industries.  Really.  She has projects going ALL THE TIME.  Today she has a Minick and Simpson giveaway..... a Game Board Quilt Kit featuring Indigo Crossing fabric from Moda.

This fabric doesn't even exist yet (at least not in yardage).  This kit is made from the last of the sample yardage from the mill.  Indigo Crossing will be in your local quilt shops in February.   Go over to Pat's blog RIGHT NOW.  Maybe if we all follow along on her blog hop - Pat will take a much deserved nap.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

No Leftovers

In the new special issue of Country Home magazine, there is an article on some of Polly's Christmas decorating.... it's available on newsstands right now.  

We hope your Thanksgiving went well, your Black Friday was productive, and that you are not too bogged down with leftovers.  Bill and I had a wonderful time in Texas.  There was a little bit of quilt stuff and a lot of good food and family.  If this blog was written by someone more competent there would be lots of pictures to record it.  But, you're not that lucky.  Happiness is Quilting is a great shop in McKinney Texas that invited me to do a book signing.  Check out their facebook page for proof!

Earlier in the day I was at Moda - checking out our new fabric strike-offs and shopping the warehouse. Of course, some of the ladies took me to lunch too.  Thanks Susan, Lissa, and Deb!

I'm now home and getting back into work mode.  A whole bunch of stuff needs to be cleared off the worktable to even start working.  One of the things on my work table...... this new toy from Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe in West Linn Oregon...... 

The LightPad from Artograph

This cool toy is a lightweight, slim, portable lightbox.  Think of a large iPad.    This baby really throws off a lot of light.  I have been coveting a lightbox for quite awhile and was thrilled to find this at Hollyhill.  I can't wait to mark some quilt designs onto my next completed quilt top.  

While running errands last night and this morning a wonderful thing happened!  I could drive from one side of town to the other.  The Ann Arbor Stadium Bridge is completed.  Finally.  For 13 months, it seemed like it could be said, "You can't get there from here."  Now we can.  The west side is now connected to the east side.   13 months.  You know what else took 13 months to build?  This.

Empire State Building
Yes, our little 400 foot bridge took the same amount of time, and just about the same amount of money.  

Seems about right.  

Now that we're back home someone is bemoaning the lack of Thanksgiving leftovers.  Without turkey leftovers, there can be no turkey corn chowder.  I think a small roasted turkey is on our schedule for tomorrow.  Bon Appetit!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Airports and Caffeine

I'm home for a few hours until my next trip to the airport.  Just enough time to download a few pictures and tell you all about Homespun and Holly!  The wonderful workshop we just finished at the Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe in West Linn, Oregon.

It was fabulous, just like we expected.  I can still smell the pine needles and spruce.  Real trees everywhere! 

Santa stopped by and delivered presents

Or maybe it was one of Santa's helpers - Chief Elf Brian.
What a peaceful and lovely place to work all day on stitching and hooking.

And then there's the shop.... 
Holiday Decorations.....
Goodies Everywhere

I would go back again in a heartbeat.  As a teacher or a student.  

Now on to some family gatherings, turkey, football and more.  Have a safe holiday everyone.


P.S.  As I surf the internet a tiny bit on my way back to the airport, I saw this.  Just so you know where ALL the Twinkies went?  They went here.

Courtesy of Cute Overload - This guy is the reason you won't be able to find any Twinkies.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Wrap-up

Happy Friday to you all!  Just going to post a few items to keep us all up to date.....

First of all - make sure you read this post on Moda's Blog - The Cutting Table about quilts for Hurricane Sandy victims.  I'm sure we all have a spare quilt or two hanging around.  I know I do.

This month starts Polly's and my whirl-wind travelogue.  We have about 7 trips planned in the next 6 months and each one is better than the last.  First - we have the Homespun & Holly event at Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe in West Linn Oregon.  That is next weekend and we CANNOT wait.  Those folks at Hollyhill sure know how to treat customers - and teachers alike.  I will guarantee a good time will be had by all.  Here is a snapshot from last year's event.

I'll post the next trip too..... as I might not have time to do it beforehand.  You see, I fly back from Oregon next Sunday and the following day I fly to Dallas.  Whew.  It's a family thing - you know, turkey and all the trimmings - BUT I will make some time to be at Happiness Is Quilting in McKinney Texas on Tuesday, November 20th at 4pm for a Spirit of Sacagawea book signing.  Happiness Is Quilting is doing the Sacagawea quilt as a BOM for 2013!  Make sure to stop by if you are in the area.

Happiness Is Quilting is one of my favorite shops and I'm so tickled that they will be doing this quilt as a Block Of The Month.

What else?  Well, Polly wants you to know that you can expect some rug hooking kits to be posted in the next couple of weeks.  Whee!  These are all small rugs and we think you'll love them.  Watch here and our website for those.

I've been designing quilts this week.  Just me, graph paper, pencils, lots of erasers, and instant photos and emails to our CrackerJack digital pattern person - Lisa.  You see, I draw - old school - on paper and Lisa transforms it into the pattern you see.  Yeah, Lisa!

Nothing to show you yet - as we don't even have digital fabric to make digital quilts out of.  (Who knew that this would be a sentence I would write one day).

While designing and other stuff.... This is my Mrs. Billings Coverlet so far.  I'm prepping lots of hand-piecing for my upcoming travels.

Have a great weekend.  Bill and I are going to make a little time to see this....


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mrs. Billings, Miss Marple, and Me

Mrs. Billings Coverlet by Karen Styles of Somerset Patchwork

Are you familiar with Mrs. Billings?  This is the Mrs. Billings Coverlet.  Karen Styles of Somerset Patchwork in Mt. Waverly, Victoria in Australia did this masterpiece.  It is an interpretation of an antique quilt made in 1790 that is in the York Museum in Great Britain.   Yeah, Karen spied that antique quilt and said - "I can do that".  And she did.  If you follow lots of quilting blogs like I do, you've probably seen this.  For those of us who like hand piecing - it's kind of like the holy grail.  There are several Aussie quilters who are doing this and I have been watching and wishing I was doing it too.  There were lots of excuses.  Time, being the main one.  I have other fish to fry.  BUT wouldn't it be lovely to have this beauty to come back to when you could do a bit of handwork?  On the bus, train, or airplane?  In hotel rooms and comfy couches while watching a murder mystery?  I procrastinated, yet I kept going back to Karen's website  and blog to lurk and dream.

No more!  Mrs. Billings is here.  I met Karen at International Quilt Market in Houston last week and I confessed my obsession with her quilt.  I now have the booklet, the template, and the paper pattern pieces - and I've started!  These are the wonderful acrylic templates for each shape.  Notice the little holes in the corners so you can mark your seam lines.  Perfection.  

While waiting for deliveries and while packing up shipments..... This is what I've done.  I'm trying to work from just my scrap box (except for the background) and I don't think I'll even make a dent in that bad boy.  I'm pretty pleased with what I've done so far (center block and 2 borders - only 13 borders to go).  When I took the above picture I noticed a problem.  Sigh.  It seems I added the 2nd border backwards.  My points should point out - not in.  You have no idea how many times I checked the picture before I sewed it on.  But, it fits and I'm leaving it that way.  Just like an American to do it bass-ackwards.

Now Mrs. Billings will have to wait as I have other things that need tending to.  Just thought you'd like to see and maybe start one of your own.  I'll post my progress as it goes along, but I think there will be long periods when I can't work on it.  But, it's about loving the process, not necessarily being fixated on the end product.  I think Mrs. Billings and I will be long time friends (Miss Marple hangs out with us too).


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Fabric Shopper, Red Cross and Helping

This photo has gone viral.  It was taken a couple days ago in Hoboken New Jersey.  One small act of kindness.  It inspires others.  Sandy, the unruly houseguest has left, but she has still left many in need.

Meander over to The Fabric Shopper Blog and see what Christie has done!  If you make a donation to the Red Cross - you are in a drawing for lots of sewing and quilting goodies.  Great idea!



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