Saturday, July 24, 2010


My D#2 is home from Europe.  My German daughter is here for a few weeks.  Teenagers are swarming about most evenings.  There are a record number of soda cans in recycling

Life is good.

[Updated to add photo.  Yes, I know it's not a clear photo and it wasn't even taken in the US.  But that's on purpose, since I'm not sure how they would feel about being shown on my blog.  Anyone who knows my daughter will recognize her.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bonus Quilt Retreat -- Part 2

[Note to self -- write follow-ups to "To be continued" posts while you can still remember details.]

At the White Oak, I found three retreat-ers already there, including Bobbi, our first-timer.  Wine, cheese, crackers, and chatting ensued, then dinner with innkeepers extraordinaire, Rob and Carol.  With just 8 quilters in attendance, we could all gather at one table for the first time!   What a way to create a warm feeling of connection among us all!  We all enjoyed and complimented dinner and dessert, then tables were cleared, spaces claimed and arranged.

Ladies, start your machines! 

And sew we did. (Bad pun intended!)  I dug into clearing the backlog of small projects "owed" since the March retreat, the last time I'd even turned on my machine.  Traveling, packing, moving, and some unpacking accomplished in the interim, but not a stitch had been placed on any of my projects.

From Friday evening until after Sunday brunch, voices in speech or in song accompanied the drone of sewing machines.  I was thrilled at how well my projects came along!  Pillowcase for D#1 at camp (annual tradition): check.  Catch up on overdue birthday blocks: check.   Borders for two baby quilt tops that had been made in March: check!   (Each was a variation of the one pictured below -- 30's repro 9-patches and white with 4-patch cornerblocks.)   Backing for both cut and packed away waiting for white batting to ensure preservation of the snowy backgrounds.

Up-to-date on existing projects, I could finally turn my attention to the new one I'd been anticipating for months: a bordello bargello of aquas and browns picked out a year ago by my "German daughter" (best friend of D#2) just before she had to go home.  (BTW, D#2 returns from Germany tomorrow, bringing GerD for a visit!)  With the Queen of Bordellos Bargellos (Judy) in residence, I knew I'd have all the guidance I needed to undertake this impressive, but daunting, quilt pattern.   It turned out to be easier than I thought, but Judy's calming encouragement was much appreciated when I made those first cuts through so many layers of fabric! 

All around me quilts took shape, in all stages of creation: charm packs into tops, tops augmented by borders, blocks sashed and set.  NnP finished two drop-dead gorgeous tops over the weekend -- Indigo and caramel baskets & "Twelve Oaks".  The sophisticated subtle colors of one person could be found next to the bold and bright of another's -- testimony that one could say of quilts, as of people, "It takes all kinds...".

As usual, Ruth/Turbo pulled one project after another out of her magical bags, including striking tulip blocks that had been, shall we say... not her favorite, as all needed to be squared down to a consistent size.  Help was offered, accepted and, tulips were trimmed.  Pat (no longer the newbie) introduced us to Schnibbles.  Diane/Honna, the Queen of YBR, assembled a top, and added borders for a finished flimsy. Bobbi started with charm packs and ended up with cheerful, bold and I-never-would-have-thought-of-that-combination log cabin blocks.  Helen made "Cars" pillowcases for her grand-sons, and did something with indigo and caramel baskets, I think.  And Judy did stuff too, in addition to being my bordello bargello advisor.   [This is where my memory reaches its limit, so I must beg forgiveness of everyone else whose work I haven't acknowledged.]

Sunday brunch brought the get-away to an end, as one or two at a time, we packed up and headed home.  I had the first 8 strips of my bordello (WTH) quilt assembled and ready to sew together and had even cut the rest of the fabric strips for the top!   With sun and blue skies above (and heat and humidity outside...), I packed up Violet (my purple/plum/aubergine PT Cruiser), hugged everyone, started engine, AC, and CD player, and went full circle back home, singing along (bad harmony and all) to Glee.

Knowing that the following Saturday was semi-annual Quilt Day at church, I knew there was more sewing in the very-near future!   Sometimes the Rolling Stones are wrong and you can get satisfaction!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

59th Street Bridge Song: Retreat, Part I

Anybody remember it? Simon and Garfunkel. "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobblestones. Lookin' for fun and feeling groovy..." [Aside: "Groovy" -- now there's a word you don't hear much anymore!]

59SBS could have been my theme song last weekend. I had taken Friday off work since I needed to be home when the workmen arrived to reline my chimney (#19), but once they were settled in and my car was loaded, I hit the road. Listened to CDs (Glee) and sang along the entire way to the turnpike exit, car windows closed to the sticky, humid outside, and AC running. Stopped at Sauder's where I picked up my online order (sale + no shipping cost!) and replenished my bulk food supply of dried fruit, spices, and my traditional addition to the White Oak snack table: peanut butter filled pretzel bites. Yum.

Because it was still early, I headed down the back road leading directly to Intercourse, PA and had time to dawdle in my favorite shops there: Zooks (purchased only half a yard of a Civil War repro for a swap block), and Old Country Store, where I ran into Nancy and Honna while selecting a number of FQs for my stash and a charm pack to coordinate with the jelly roll previously acquired online. The charm packets were not the identical line, but I decided to "make do" as they were similar, and from the same designer. (Oddly, this was the first time I had ever planned to make a quilt using all fabrics from the same line!)  Hearing of my dilemma, Nancy informed me that the Log Cabin shop in Bird-in-Hand (formerly known as "The Green Ruler" place) carried a lot of charm packs. As I'd not been there since the name and management changed a couple of years ago, I decided to drop in on my way to White Oak. Made my happily obligatory Immergut pretzel stop, then on the road again, west on Old Philadelphia Pike.

Walked in the door of the shop, just ten minutes before closing, and right there, on a display up front, were the exact charm packs I'd been looking for! And for $1-2 less than at OCS!  Took a quick minute to check out the rest of the store, finding an entire cabinet with a variety of charm packs, all reasonably priced.  Filed that information away for the future.

Still singing, I headed on to White Oak, where I expected to be one of the earlier arrivals, in contrast to usually being one of the last.

[To Be Continued]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bonus Quilt Retreat

On a Friday, twice a year, spring and fall, a number of us quilters head to the Quilting Mecca of Pennsylvania -- Lancaster County.  There we take over a B&B, called the White Oak, run by the unparallelled innkeepers Rob and Carol.  We update each other over wine & cheese and Amish-farm-prepared dinner on Friday evening.  After enjoying a choice of desserts, we clear the decks, i.e. the two huge dining tables, jockey for a space there for our Berninas, Pfaff, and Featherweights, help Rob set up the ironing boards and cutting tables...   and we SEW!

Fabric and projects abound! Quilts from inception to binding and all stages in-between.  A few years ago, someone taught the rest of the group how to make fantastic no-raw-seams pillowcases.  Many a child, teen, or adult now sleeps on one of these custom creations.   Music is added according to a specific routine.  (Yes, we've been doing this so long that we have "traditions"!)  Help is requested and offered; opinions are shared, solicited or not.  The downstairs hums with activity into the night, with pajama-clad women (mostly "of a certain age") leisurely cutting, pressing, sewing, as well as chatting, laughing, singing, and dancing.

Fortified by great food through Sunday brunch, our projects take shape and our souls are fed with fellowship.  Another place where there is company but also "kind".   Most carve out some time to support the economy of the local fabric stores. I try to visit several favorite shops in Intercourse, Pa, and treat myself to the best soft pretzel in the world -- warm and butter-brushed -- from Immergut. Saturday dinner is on our own and has progressed over the years from most of us going out to dinner somewhere in the area, to nearly all of us ordering sandwiches for pickup.

On our latest outing in March, Rob and Carol told us they had a free weekend in July and asked if we were interested.   Duh...  The group will be a little smaller than usual this time, but promises to be no less compatible.  Just gives us all a little more space to spread out!

I will be working on several of my list items in "HOBBIES", and plan to post again on my return.   Someday I'll tackle #100 and post some photos!   But don't hold your breath...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Stuff" goes out... "stuff" comes in (oops...)

One of my big goals (#7) is to de-clutter/de-junk my house, even it's one piece at a time, one day at a time.  What I didn't think about is stuff coming in!   Not talking consumables or needed household items here -- groceries, curtain rods, etc. -- but More Stuff.   

In the separation, I "lost" the pan used to hard-boil eggs and none of what I have left will work well, so (being frugal), I set off for the local thrift store to find an egg-boiling pan.  Found one quickly for the perfect sum of $3.  That's when the trouble began.  

Right there, in the same place, was a covered plastic thermos-type bowl in Harvest Gold for only $2!   Since the kitchen in my new house is completely 60's colors: Avocado Green and Burnt Orange, I was missing only Harvest Gold to complete the triumvirate of cutting-edge colors of that decade.  Into the egg-boiling pan it went.  I'm still not sure what it is exactly, other than Harvest Gold.  Behind me, in that small room, was another shelf was a sugarbowl/creamer set in silver [plate, I presume] -- just the ticket to complement the butterdish and gravy boat I already have in this pseudo-silver -- $2 for the set.   Into the Harvest Gold thingy.

The fun was just beginning.   I found a lovely little paste-board box in an odd shape and pretty paisley-like pattern.  Apparently a jewelry box, it had a center divider for several rings and sections on each side for bracelets, necklaces, etc.   I'm a sucker for pretty boxes, and at just 50 cents, how could I go wrong?   My final error was to duck into the electronics room to price television sets for when I start working on # 35 and obtain an exercise bike and a TV to watch DVDs while I exercise in my basement. (I always think ahead, sometimes way ahead.) Thought that this might be a good place to start my shopping when the time comes.  Unfortunately, I walked past the DVDs on the way out.   Before I knew it, 4 DVDs (at $3 each) had found their way into my arms.  One is a replacement of a VHS tape that we watch repeatedly, one a classic musical, another a brand-new copy of an older rom-com/time travel film I've always wanted to see, and the last a "small" film with a well-known director and some actors I like a lot.  

Total cost: just over $20 -- could have bought a new egg-cooking pan for that!       

But now my dilemma is: how many more things do I need to get rid of to equalize the in/out equation?  Not counting the egg-boiling pan and the one DVD that will replace the VHS, since one was a needed household item and the other an even-up. So there's the box, and 3 DVDs but does the sugar bowl/creamer set count as one or two?   Guess I'll go for 6 in addition to the one daily divestment. 

Next decision will be what to do about the quilt fabric, the book and 2 CDs I bought online.  They aren't here yet, so, like Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorrow."