Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Wages of Sin

I am heading out this morning to the Cape for our annual February quilting weekend. I am bringing these nine little lovelies with me...unfortunately not all of them will return.
However, I could come home with 45 fat quarters or more if Lady Luck shines upon me. Joannie has organized three rounds of Right, Left, Center, which is a dice game. We play for fat quarters, based on a theme. As you can see, we will be playing three rounds for Black and White FQs, Kaffe Fassett FQs, and Batik FQs. I love all of these fabrics!

Wish me luck!

I am sticking to my guns and I have packed the three projects you saw here.

If you are not quilting this weekend, and you want to try a new recipe, Mike made this Chicken Marsala on Tuesday night and it was delicious! So good, we ate it two nights in a row. Mike doubled the amount of Marsala wine and the mushrooms. Yum!

Happy Birthday Marion!

Linking up with Freemotion by the River and Sew Fresh Quilts. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Word is "No!"

A lot of quilt bloggers have been posting their "word" for 2014. Your word is supposed to be your mantra, your inspiration, your theme for the year. Bonnie Hunter has a word (actually, she has three). Pat Sloan has a word. In fact, if you Google search "my word for 2014 quilting" you can find a lot of quilt bloggers who have picked a word for the year.

I'm late to the party, but I have a word too. And for 2014, it's going to be "No!" as in "No way, no how, I don't want to." It may sound selfish, but after 20 plus years of quilting and giving away about 80% of what I make, I think I'm entitled to take a year for myself.

We quilters are a generous lot, and if we're not getting asked to hem your pants or make curtains for your sun room, someone is asking for an "extra" quilt for a donation.

Joanne put together this quilt for a charity auction at her workplace in under two weeks.
I haven't actually put my word to good use yet. My first finishes this year have been two fleece blankets and a pillowcase, all intended as gifts.

Sometimes it's not my fault. I got "volunteered" for the first blanket, when we visited our friends Matt and MaryKate for Thanksgiving. Right before we left, Matt said to his wife, "Honey, why don't you give Nancy that bag of fleece you bought at JoAnn Fabrics and she'll make you a blanket." I had to make a blanket for my dear friend's husband who has to have six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. How could I let him go to treatment without something hand made and warm to comfort him? The pillowcase is for a friend's three year old boy who loves music. I found the fabric at Sewphisticates ($3.99 a yard) and couldn't resist it. I'm trying to save it for a Valentine's Day gift, but I may end up mailing it early.

If I look at my giant UFO (unfinished objects) list, 99% of the items on it are for me. That's why they never get finished, because I put myself last. So, in honor of saying "No!" in 2014, here are some of MY projects that I want to work on.
My Bali Bed Runner that I started this summer with Ginny Radloff.
I'm taking another class with her this year. I'm so excited!

My 2013 Swoon Block of the Month. I have two blocks finished. Seven more to go.

My Edyta Sitar Laundry Basket applique Block of the Month, started September 2012.
This will be a "life time" achievement quilt if I ever get it finished. And if I do,
I have a couple of Kim MacLean applique patterns in mind.
Here we go 2014. And I'm saying "No!"

What's your word?

I am linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Richard and Tanya Quilts and CrazyMom Quilts. Thanks for visiting.

Have a great day!
Pugs and kisses,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Quilting with a Rock Star!

My friend Janet is a scrap quilter. I save all my scraps that I deem too tiny to use and put them in the "Janet bag" for her. Janet also likes to use recycled fabrics, such as old plaid shirts. It has been her dream to take a class with Bonnie Hunter.

In case you've been living inside a quilt vacuum, Bonnie Hunter is a very talented and famous quilter, known for her love of scrap quilts. She has published five books (a sixth one coming soon!), writes for quilt magazines, has an amazing website with tons of free patterns, and blogs daily (even multiple times).

In 2012, Joannie, Sue and I were lucky enough to take a class with Bonnie Hunter at the Vermont Quilt Festival. Janet was unable to join us. Bonnie is one of my quilting idols too!

We did a shout out to Janet from our class. She was so surprised to see us on Bonnie's Quiltville Facebook page with a note for her.

Janet was disappointed to miss out on Bonnie's class because she loves Bonnie too. So she was delighted when she found that Bonnie was going to be teaching several classes at a nearby quilt guild in Florida this month. (Janet is a Snowbird, spends half her time in MA and half in FL).

Janet almost missed her first class. In an email she sent me, she wrote:

Oh, I have to tell you that on Wednesday morning I was on my computer checking out her blog when I saw her opening line. "Hello Punta Gorda.  Are you ready for My Blue Heaven?"  I jumped up and yelled, "My quilting class is today!!"  I had the days mixed up and thought it was Thursday & Friday, instead of Wednesday & Thursday.  I washed my face, brushed my teeth, ran a comb through my hair and literally threw clothes on.  Eddie made me lunch and out the door I went.  The drive is a little over 1 hr.  I was only about 5-10 min. late.  Not bad.  Not a good way to start the day, but I had a table to myself and soon calmed down. All the girls were very friendly, 3 coming over to my table for lunch break. I also got invited to go out to dinner with Bonnie and a few others last night, 8 total.  It was nice to get to chat and  be up close and personal with her.  I forgot my camera both days.  What a dunce.  Someone took a picture with my phone camera for me.

Janet, at right, meets her quilting idol, Bonnie Hunter
Janet was fortunate enough to take two classes with Bonnie, My Blue Heaven and Pineapple Blossom. I look forward to seeing her quilts when she comes home from Florida. Janet brought four of her quilts to show Bonnie. Three of them are from Bonnie's free patterns on her website. The bottom quilt is a pattern that Janet found in a magazine. The photos and captions below appeared on Bonnie's blog.

The patterns below are:
Ohio Stars and Rails
Boxy Stars
Scrappy Bargello

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Bonnie Hunter, jump on it! She is just as nice as you can possibly imagine and an excellent instructor. She is a rock star (at least in the quilting world.)

And since every rock star needs a music video, here is a link to a music video (not related to Bonnie) using sewing elements for all the visuals. My friend Judith, who blogs at Made by J in Australia found this. I had to share.

I am linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Richard and Tanya Quilts and CrazyMom Quilts. Thanks for visiting.

Have a great day!
Pugs and kisses,

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Very Quilty Birthday!

Among my quilt group friends, it is well known that you have two birthdays. First there is your real birthday, typically celebrated with family and sometimes friends. Second, and often more important, is your quilting birthday, which is celebrated in our quilt group with cake, gifts of fabric and birthday blocks, and a spectacular off-key rendition of Happy Birthday which often sounds more like a funeral dirge. We need to work on our tempo...

Saturday was Marion's quilting birthday.
Cake! Chocolate of course!


Birthday blocks!
Each year our group chooses a block pattern. Participation is optional. The birthday girl chooses her own colors and everyone in the group makes blocks for the birthday girl. Marion has chosen black and white fabrics with a brightly colored center for her 2014 birthday block. Our block this year is a pattern by Terry Atkinson, called Snap Shot and it is the cover quilt of her book, Happy Hour.

I asked the girls to bring in some of the quilts they've made from birthday blocks in past years. It is fun to see how different they appear depending on the fabrics, settings, and size that they've chosen.

The first year we did a birthday block exchange was 1996. We did a star signature block. These blocks are extra special because they are signed, and one of our original members has passed away.
This is Kim P.'s birthday quilt done in patriotic colors.

This is Lori's birthday quilt in shades of blue.
One of the hardest birthday blocks we made was in 2007. It required a special ruler, precise cutting and perfect 1/4 seams. The pattern is called Oriental Lanterns and it was in an Australian quilt magazine. Lots of tears were shed over this one.
I used the original nine blocks I received and finally made a wall hanging in 2012.
Lori was brave and made hers larger.
This is Pat's quilt with our birthday blocks from 2009.

This is Kim P.'s birthday block quilt using the Bento Box pattern
in batik fabrics. We made this block in 2006. I finished mine last year
and you can see it under the tab, 2013 Finished Quilts.
We made this quilt for Karen's 50th birthday and it was also our
birthday block last year because we liked it so much.

One year we did a sampler quilt. This is Nancy D.'s in blue and yellow.
This was our birthday block in 2010 or 2011. Pat super-sized hers and made it out of Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

Karen's quilt is made of batiks.

Don't they look very different from each other?
I hope that you enjoyed seeing some of our birthday block quilts! Happy Quilting Birthday Marion!

Linking up on Tuesday to FreeMotion by the River. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Something Old, Something New

I met my friend Linda in the first grade at the Brophy School in Framingham. Our teacher was Mrs. Spelicacy. We're still friends 44 years later. So, next to my family, I've known Linda longer than anyone else, and unbelievably she still likes me!

My friendship with Linda is epitomized by this poem I learned back in my Brownie troop:

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
and the other is gold.

I looked up the poem on the web and found that it is much longer than the first verse that I remembered. You can read it here.

Of course, Linda's friendship is more of the platinum standard. She's always been there when I needed her. Unlike a lot of my other friends that frequent my blog, she is NOT a quilter, but she does like crafting. When we were in High School, we had a Friday night craft group with three other friends: Lisa, Lydia, and Kathy. I still have my finished needlepoint picture hanging in my basement. We called our group, Needlepoint and M&M's. Yes, some things never change...

I met Linda for dinner last night and brought her a surprise gift. This gift put itself together and it has a theme: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

Something Borrowed
I got this ice cream scoop as a party favor eight years ago at Linda's wedding shower. It is absolutely the best ice cream scoop ever, plus it has a cute handle with ice cream cones. One of the last times we went out, Linda lamented that hers had broken in the dishwasher and she was very upset because it was a memento of her wedding and, as I said above, it truly is the best ice cream scoop ever. I knew that I had to give it back to her.
I surprised Linda with a large wrapped basket and made her open the scoop first.
Something New and Blue
Linda's favorite color is blue and her favorite food is ice cream, so when I saw this fabric on a shopping expedition with the girls, I had to buy it and make her something.
My first finish for 2014. Two pillowcases.
Something Old
My friend Linda is very thrifty as well as family-oriented, so I gave her a set of ice cream glasses that my parents had given me when they moved out of our family home and retired to Florida. They had been sitting unused in my kitchen cabinets and were in perfect condition. Linda and I had definitely eaten ice cream out of them back in High School.
Linda loved her gift! Now, all she needs is a little ice cream!
I also got Linda a gift card for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, so she can use her scoop and ice cream glasses. I wonder if she stopped and bought ice cream on her drive home last night?

I bought myself a replacement ice cream scoop on Amazon. It works really well, except that it lacks the cute handle.

I hope that you have a life-time friend like Linda in your life!

Pugs and kisses,

Linking up to Sew Many Ways, Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Color Me Happy!

Pantone's color of the year is Radiant Orchid! Pantone is a color matching system used in the print industry. You can read more about Pantone here.

Purple makes me happy. It is one of my "go-to" colors both for quilting and wearables. I am on trend for 2014.

Last month before the big Pantone announcement, I pulled the batik fabrics below from my stash. (Note to blog friends: this does not even make the teeniest dent in my fabric stash.) I am going to make a Queen size reversible quilt. One side will be a Scrappy Bargello, the other side will be a Yellow Brick Road.

Blues and Aquas in one pile (note the purples sneaking in...)


All the purples and blues together in perfect harmony!

I haven't even finished cutting out this project but I am excited to start work on it. The colors are gorgeous and I can't wait to see how they will all looks together.

If you are new to my blog, you can read another post about purple here. There are a couple of predominantly purple quilts seen here in my 2013 Finished Quilt Projects. And you can see the Grape-Ade Quilt top here.

Linking up to CrazyMom Quilts!

Here's to Purple Power!

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Florida Fun

Mike and I rang in New Year's Eve 2013 at Allison's wedding hosted by my friend Pat and her family. Allison is Pat's middle daughter. It was a blistery cold evening, but the wedding was lovely. The church was decorated with evergreen boughs and the dance hall was rocking way past my bedtime. The wedding reception had a candy bar, a photo booth, and a cupcake tower--my kind of party!
At the reception with my handsome husband Mike.

Posing with Pat. Doesn't she look gorgeous in her silver dress?
Here is the stunning bride with her Mom.
The next day, Mike and I hopped a plane to Florida to visit my family. My parents retired to Florida about 15 years ago. It makes a great excuse for an annual vacation. My brother Jeff and his family come from California too!

We were lucky and flew out a day before a big snow storm hit Boston. The nasty child sitting behind me kicked my seat all the way from Logan airport to Fort Lauderdale. My back still hurts.

This was the view from my friend Cindy's windshield last Thursday. Brrrr!

This was my view in Florida! Sunny and 85 degrees.
Mike took me to a great quilt shop in Boca Raton, called StitchCraft. They were recently featured in the Quilt Sampler magazine. StitchCraft has two giant rooms full of fabric and a really friendly staff. There were beautiful samples hung all around the shop. I could have stayed there all day.
If you're ever in Boca Raton, check out StitchCraft!
The focus of our visit was to spend time with my family. We spent a couple of afternoons at the beach with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew. We had a big family dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant one night and at our favorite Italian restaurant a different night. On Saturday it rained, so Mike and I took my parents to the indoor Flea Market. We all had a lot of fun. Before we left on Sunday afternoon, we all met at the Highland Beach Holiday Inn for brunch. Mike and I got married there in February of 2012.

Here is a shot of the whole family. My 16 year old niece Rachel is
the tallest of all of us, standing in the middle.
I'm still taller than my nephew Ben, but there's always next year!
Here are the girls: me, Mom, Rachel and Diane (my sister-in-law).
Most of the time, Ben looked like this.
Ben is very fond of my husband Mike and demanded to sit next to him at every meal.
Here I am with my brother Jeff.
Hope you got to enjoy some family time over the holidays!

Pugs and kisses,

January Quilt of the Month

In 2014, I'm going to change the quilt on my bed monthly and share its story with you. I'm sure that I have more than a year's worth to choose from.

This is a queen size quilt made of flannel fabrics. The pattern is Yellow Brick Road by Terry Atkinson. Marion, of course, has an identical quilt. I think a couple of the other Brown Baggers also have one. If you've never made a Yellow Brick Road quilt before, I recommend it. It is a quick and easy pattern that is fun to make.

I purchased the fabric for the quilt below back in May of 2004 at the now defunct Tala's in North Adams, MA, during our annual Berkshires quilting retreat. I finished the quilt in May of 2011.

The interesting ladder-shaped reflection on the
quilt is from the blinds, it is not part of the quilt.

As always, my quilts look better with a pug or two on top. LarryPug on
the left, Elvis on the right. Romeo was downstairs napping.
I have to admit that I don't really like the colors in this quilt. I brightened them a little in iPhoto. I hate beige and the whole thing is kind of drab to me. I have ordered some new batik flannel from Sew Batik and will make a new flannel quilt, hopefully by next year.

As you know, it's been bitterly cold here in Boston as well as in many other parts of the country. In addition to the flannel quilt, we also have a down comforter and a heated mattress pad on the bed! Hope you are staying warm! And I hope that my Australian friends are staying cool!

Adding links on Friday to Richard and Tanya Quilts at  Link A Finish Friday (Happy 100th Richard!) and to Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Thanks for visiting! 

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 By The Numbers

Sorry you haven't heard from me in Blogville lately. I lazed around the last week of 2013 and then Mike and I were in Florida visiting my parents for a few days. I'll post some photos shortly in another blog. My niece and nephew have gotten big, whereas my parents continue to shrink.

I have kept a running list of my quilt projects since 2001. It is currently 8 pages long. I have a lot of unfinished projects. I also make a monthly quilting "to do" list. I'm not sure if this keeps me on track, but every time I add something to the finished projects section, it makes me feel really good.

My fabric stash definitely looks like this pie chart.
In 2013 I finished 82 projects which included 11 quilts (13% of my projects). I also finished 71 small projects which included 43 pillowcases, five tote bags, and other assorted items. Fourteen of the small non-quilt items were quilted. I gave away 71 items, including two king size quilts, shown here and here, which was 79% of my output. This year I didn't keep track of any items that I made for the Etsy shop that I share with Marion.

I did squeak out six more pillowcases the last week of December that I brought to Florida as gifts for my family.
Three Star Trek pillowcases for my brother and my niece to share.
My nephew Benny got the pillowcase with the money printed on it.

Joannie gave me her extra Scrabble fabric so I could make a
pillowcase for my Mom. Dad got the pillowcase with the tools on it.
I wrote 131 blog posts in 2013, which was more than double the amount I wrote in 2012. I think I'm getting the hang of this blogging thing! I am pleased and proud to report that I have 20 followers through Bloglovin', 23 Google followers, and 30 email subscribers, so my Mom isn't the only one that reads my blog, although she is still probably my biggest fan (Thanks Mom!). Thank you, each and every one of you that read and follow my Blog and a really big thank you to those of you who take the time to write me comments! I am so excited every time I get a comment on my Blog.

So what's up for 2014? More quilts, more blog posts, and more pug photos of course. I'm still trying to decide if I should make some resolutions for 2014. I will see my Brown Bagger buddies next weekend and check in with them to see how they did with their 2013 New Year's resolutions. I was really surprised to re-read my post and find that I hadn't made 2 out of the 3 quilts that I had committed to for 2013.

Pugs and kisses to all! Stay safe and warm. It is 5 degrees (-15 Celsius) here in Boston.

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River. Adding links on Friday to Richard and Tanya Quilts at  Link A Finish Friday (Happy 100th Richard!) and to Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Thanks for visiting!