29 July, 2014

Face Forward

This zippered pouch contains some of my most valued possessions... my makeup!  My greatest fear has always been that I would take a trip away from home somewhere and forget to take my makeup with me. Okay, well maybe not my greatest fear, but it ranks right up there!  It has taken me years to streamline my daily beauty routine into one smooth and efficient process that allows me to look natural, but improved, and ready to face the world. I don't ever leave the house without my enhanced "face" on. Years ago our neighbor, who was a young boy at the time, told me that he would never have a girlfriend who wore makeup because girls grow dependant upon it! His Mom and I laughed about this for years, referring to ourselves as makeup dependant and proud of it.  Fast forward to last weekend and our quick weekend trip to New England.  We'd been in the car for at least ten hours when I had this dreaded premonition creep into my brain that I might not have placed my makeup bag into my suitcase. I quickly dismissed the thought (I've had this happen before) and decided to put my mind at rest by checking the bag when we stopped at the next rest stop. I did check the bag, but instead of my mind being put at rest I found my worst fear confirmed... no makeup. I knew that Mr. Goodneedle wouldn't be happy at the prospects of stopping at a mall with a major department store (where I find my favorite brand of cosmetics) when time was of the essence and he was in travel-mode. He wasn't pleased, at all; but said the sweetest thing after I explained what I'd forgotten: "you don't need any makeup, you look just fine without it" I appreciated that but asked again anyway; he agreed to a  quick Target visit, one that was right off the highway.  I knew, naturally that this wasn't a necessity... my husband and family would love my blotchy skin, lack of eyelashes and brows as well as pale cheeks and ghost-like lips regardless; but I had a class coming up the next day and the outside world to face too, I didn't want to frighten anyone! I had to be fast when I ran into the store... it was hard to know what to get, I grabbed what I could, items that I thought would get me through the weekend; I was delighted to pay a mere fraction of what I normally do but the proof would be on my face.  I appeared passable the next morning, probably no one could even tell any difference in how I looked compared to any other day, but I knew; my face felt different!  I was never happier than to return to my normal beauty routine at home. I have a pouch full of brand-new, bargain cosmetics stashed in my suitcase for "emergencies"; now that I have that, you realize, I will never forget my real makeup pouch ever again!

I admit it, I'm makeup dependant;
I can't say I wasn't warned.
Life is Good!

28 July, 2014

"It's The Journey"

"It's The Journey" ~ 49" X 61"
After months of deliberation "It's The Journey" has become a full-fledged flimsy; and a life lesson! What started out as the ultimate LQS border challenge has resulted in a well defined wall hanging that has named itself... and taught me a lot along the way. Let me recap the process that brought this quilt top into existence. Back in January I posted here about the project and showed my progress to date. At that time I decided to name this one "The Long and Winding Road"; I was naive enough back then to think I knew, sort of, where this might be headed and that I might have a bit of control!  By the end of January, with the selection of the third border (squares) and color (brown) I was flummoxed and desperate for help; I posted that plea here. By now I was referring to this project as "Destination: Unknown" which it remained until only recently.  By early May I was propelling this along by changing things up, cutting corners, and adding appliqué. Eventually, the outer black seemed necessary to rein it all in and keep the center contained. The final design elements selected, at the end of May, were appliqué and the color(s) red, yellow and/or blue. I machine appliquéd the words, they became the best definition for what this entire challenge represented. Suddenly it all became crystal clear to this quiltmaker: it never had been about the destination at all, but rather, the journey.  Given the chance I'd set out all over again on another one; I'm grateful for the challenge.
Life is Good!

27 July, 2014

"Got Cookies?"

"Got Cookies?" 75" X 92"
Another UFO bites the dust! There's no other feeling quite like tackling those pesky languishing projects-half-done and finishing them up. Our road trip last weekend provided more than enough seat time in the car to complete the handwork on the binding and move this scrap quilt, at long last, onto the "done" list. Mr. Goodneedle helped me to rig up a hanging system off of our side porch for quilt photography, this was the system's premier. I prefer to shoot photos outside when possible, this location is perfect as it's a nothern exposure and the colors are true. I'm going to have to figure out a way to eliminate the shadow in the top third for future photos, it's the result of the overhang from the eaves, I might have to aim some light up there... we'll see. As far as improvements to the quilt itself, in regard to layout and design, I'll make alternating block quilts from here on in with an uneven number of rows to ensure all four corners reflect the same block... how many years have I been quilting before I figured this out? But, for now, this one is done and documented; and it's all good!

A shot from the side to show the quilting detail.

The back side of the quilt with the light shining through,
offering a beautiful, and unexpected, stained-glass effect.

Life is Good!

26 July, 2014

In A Nutshell

This post is a potpourri of happenings
 from the past week... in a nutshell:

 I read this book on our most recent car trip, it was a gift from a friend; and it's a book that I simply cannot stop thinking about! It is the true story of a music teacher, a Ukranian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, who held his students to the highest standard of excellence without heaping on any undeserved praise. I was a student during the same time period that "Mr. K" was a teacher and I recall this time in our history (1960's, 1970's) as one when the teachers were always right and, heaven forbid, if we ever came home and complained to our parents about how hard or seemingly unfair our teachers were our parents would take the teacher's side. Perhaps, because this is the time frame from which Mr. K's story is told, I can relate to it better from that perspective. I dare say that any teacher who employed the method of instruction related here, in today's schools, they would find themselves unemployed. But, interestingly, his former students can now point to the high expectations of their music teacher for the successful lives that they're living today. Co-written by a former student and Mr. K's daughter this is an easy read with a powerful lesson to ponder... it's a book you won't soon forget.
My husband's cousins came to town for a far-too-rare visit (it's been eleven+ years); we had a wonderful time eating together and catching up on Tuesday evening... the catching up portion could have gone on forever!  It was blatantly obvious to me that we need to be much more pro-active in the effort to make reunions happen; time passes much too quickly, as evidence of that I offer these photos, below...
 Mason has celebrated yet another birthday! 
I believe he liked his gift, he was good at it too;
observe his concentration on the bag before the pitch.
We joined him for dinner and birthday cake on his big day; 
where, oh where, have the last 6 years gone?
I must have blinked...  and I tried so hard not to.
Happy birthday, sweet boy~
Life is Good!

25 July, 2014

Coming Clean

Last year I completed this quilted table topper for our kitchen table. I had prewashed the binding fabric, as well as the backing fabric and used my favorite go-to product with that laundry, Shout Color Catcher sheets.  As far as I was concerned we were all set (pun!) in that department from here on in.  Was I ever wrong! The table quilt needed washing the other day and it emerged, after its bath and quick tumble in the dryer(!) with ugly green stains leaching into the white from the binding. I was horrified. Yesterday, having little to lose at this point, I summoned up my nerve and soaked it for a few hours in a warm water and Biz solution; then washed it, again, along with three Color Catchers this time. The quilt has been restored to its original pristine beauty. It looks like I have yet one more go-to laundry product; this one-two punch worked like a charm! Lesson learned... those Color Catchers are going in the wash with all of my quilts from now on, it doesn't matter if its their first wash or their twenty first, it's inexpensive insurance and I'm not taking any more chances.
Life is Good!

22 July, 2014

Birds, Butterflies and Flowers... Oh, My!

What a wonderful, whirlwind weekend  I have to report on today. Mr. Goodneedle, Hannes and I left our home before dawn on Friday morning and drove north, to New Hampshire, before the day was done!  Yes, we put another 2000 miles on the car... but you know I like to make the miles count*. My parents,  sister and brother-in-law live in New Hampshire; we were able to squeeze in a quick visit with them as well as a quilt class for Mom and me on Saturday! She and I drove to Quilted Threads in Henniker, NH; about an hour away from my parent's home, to spend the day with Lynne Tyler and learn her free-piecing method for birds, butterflies, asterisk flowers and hearts. I have followed Lynne through her Patchery Menagerie blog for years and always wanted an opportunity to learn how she created some of her masterpieces... she is just as much fun as I had imagined. We had a blast, I had to pinch myself a few times to make sure I was really there!  The class sample is on the right, above. I can't say enough good things about the class experience at Quilted Threads, this is one shop that bends over backwards to accommodate their customers! The classroom is on the second floor and my Mom has some mobility issues... no problem whatsoever, they have an electric chair lift! Have you ever been in a quilt class where poor lighting, low chairs, not enough electrical outlets or small tables were a hindrance to your learning experience? You won't have to worry about that at QT. The lighting is superior, the chairs (for every student) are padded, swiveling, office chairs and there are power strips at every large table! I was in heaven with so much space in which to spread out. Students also had access to a kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator and a spotless bathroom too. This is one top-notch shop!
Lynne (standing) and a classmate hard at work!  Lynne did a wonderful job leading us through a technique that really doesn't have a lot of rules... she helped us by guiding our vision and expanding our horizons; not an easy job at all, but she was up to the task! 
Lynne treated us to a inspiring quilt show of her works while we sewed and created.
This is my Mom, busy at work on a wonky, free-pieced heart.

Mom and me with our twin birds, we got a LOT done in class; we each came home with four creations from the class, plus some "wing" fabric to make more birds... as well as happy memories of a great day spent together! We've already asked Lynne what she'll teach us next time; this may just become an annual event for us!

Sunday was spent making up for lost time. A year ago while visiting my parents we went to my favorite little lakeside seafood restaurant specifically for a fried clam roll. Unfortunately we picked the wrong day to do that, his fryolater was out of commission. This year, thankfully, was not a repeat of that calamity; my lunch was well worth the two+ year wait! 

We arrived home very late last night. When I walked back to the bedroom this morning to unpack the laundry this is what I found! Hannes likes his road trips as much as we do... in fact this is his way of saying if we're going on another one he's ready and eager to go!

Life is Good!

* You'll see what I did while riding, and read, in a future post.

17 July, 2014

This and That Thursday

I'm picking up where I left off yesterday on the subject of basting down the binding and including the quilt label as another step in the finishing process. My quilts aren't really done until they're labeled! I design my labels on the computer and print them directly onto Printed Treasures fabric sheets that I run through my printer. I heat-set the label with an iron and cut it to fit before I bind the upper and left sides of the label (to match the quilt's binding) before tucking the label under the existing binding on the quilt, in the lower right corner; finally, I baste that down into postion so that the entire process of whipping down the binding, and the label, can be done at the same time. This "framed up" label is a neat last step; be sure and include the quilt's name, your name, where you live and the date; I use the date when I finish the project!
Speaking of cookies... the grandchildren visited over the weekend and I baked M&M cookies; digging out a recipe that I hadn't used for years.  The little ones loved them, naturally, and so did Mr. Goodneedle! He got his own batch after the weekend was over, he didn't have to share any of these! When was the last time you baked up a batch of FUN?
The Corn Hole boards have been completed for Mason's upcoming birthday. Once again, something beautifully crafted from the workshop; Mr. Goodneedle earned those cookies!
Do you have a button box? I have a button tin (foreground) it is ten inches in diameter and four inches deep... it holds all of these buttons, barely! It is a great resource when I need a button, as I did for the back of my khaki pants the other day. I couldn't find one that matched the one on the other side, so I needed to find a pair that would work. Any search through the button box takes time... there are so many treasures contained and I have a tendancy to become distracted by the contents. Originally I inherited my grandmother's button basket, her mother-of-pearl and antique shell buttons are a part of this collection; when I outgrew that basket all the buttons came to live together in this one place... novelty buttons, pewter buttons, ceramic buttons, hand painted buttons and so on. It's never too late to start a collection of your own if you don't have one; you'll find countless, handy uses for your buttons, but don't say you haven't been warned about how much time you'll spend poring over them.

I loaded Swiss Baskets on Snowbird and started quilting, I am enjoying this one already!
Life is Good!