Monday, December 28, 2015

Allietare Mystery Progress: Steps 2 & 3!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. I had a very nice time with family. And for those who know me in real life, I had some helpful conversations with friends and family, heard two sermons custom-tailored for me, and I'm doing alright.

Yesterday I got home and enjoyed spending most of the afternoon and evening with some serious quilting therapy on Bonnie Hunter's Allietare mystery! To see my colors and step 1, look here.

Check out what others have been getting up to on Bonnie's Mystery Monday Link-up here!

Here's step 2, which I finished a little while back, but hadn't taken the time to blog about. I also went ahead and redid my step 1 hst's that didn't have enough contrast.

When I was about halfway through step 3, I was getting bored with my neutrals already (yawn!) and realized I also wanted more variety in my lime greens (gold for Bonnie). Back to the stash I went, digging deeper and expanding my horizons. I wanted more prints to spice things up. Here's what I came up with to add to the mix:

This made me much happier. And yesterday I finished up step 3:

Step 4 is almost cut out. I just have some more hot pink (Bonnie's black) to finish cutting. I'm itching to start sewing on it! Mystery quilt time is so much fun. Thanks Bonnie! 

It's been rainy and unusually warm for awhile in Georgia. The poor trees are confused and think it's spring. Can you see the pink blossoms beside the Christmas decorations? I love spring in the South. I hope we'll still have a nice one!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's Mystery Time!

It's my favorite time of the quilting year! Bonnie Hunter hosts a mystery quilt every year that starts Black Friday. This year it's called Allietare, which means "to gladden", or "rejoice" in Italian and is inspired by her trip to Italy last spring.

Bonnie's colors are red, black, gold, grey and neutrals. But I used red, black and gray (among other colors) in last year's mystery so my supply of those colors is lower in my stash. Plus, I decided I wanted a quilt for my bed for spring. So I went with pastels. A palette I don't usually work with.

Here are my fabrics:

After some thought, I decided my pinks were too flat, so have since added the ones from the hearts to the left to the mix. I'm happier now. I'd forgotten about some 5" charm squares, and I like what the white/creams with pink in them do for the pile.

Here's my "during" shot:

And now I'm done!!! :)

My constant is mottled, and I didn't realize the light parts of it were so light until I started pressing my hst's open. So I pulled some of them out and set them aside. Depending on how they get used, I'm thinking I'll probably need to remake these so they'll have enough contrast. But out of 294, 14 rejects isn't so bad. And I love the variation in the fabric, so this is a small price to pay.

And now I'm ready for Step 2! Just in time for it to be released tomorrow morning. See how others are coming along by checking out Bonnie's Linkup here. Thanks, Bonnie for this fun mystery!

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bulldog with Tiger Stripes Quilt

Yesterday I finished the binding on this quilt, FINALLY!!! :)

It's Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery from this past winter (thanks, Bonnie!), made for my oldest sister, Gwynn. She's in the pic on the left and I'm on the right. She (like I) is a lifelong Georgia bulldog fan. She had been teaching at UGA, but a few years ago she returned to Clemson, where she got her PhD. So now she jokes that she's a bulldog with tiger stripes.

I'd been wanting to make a bed-size quilt for her combining red & black for UGA with orange & purple for Clemson. But how to do it? Yikes! Last fall Bonnie announced the colors for Grand Illusion and there were enough colors that I could sub out for Gwynn's colors, plus have a neutral and an extra color leftover (the green), so I knew I could do it. The "extra" green represents the football field for me. For Gwynn it represents camp (her professional field and true love). It's wild and we both love it. :)

Here's a close-up of one block with a little sashing showing, so you can make out the pattern a little better.

And here's the back so you can see the quilting. An easy allover design to keep the focus on the fabrics.

And one last picture. This morning I was up earlier than usual and caught this shot just before sunrise off my parents' dock at Lake Hartwell. Beautiful!

What are you up to this weekend?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Quilt Ambassador

My oldest sister Gwynn goes to Russia every summer, leading a study abroad as part of her work as a Clemson professor (details here). This summer she also had the privilege of representing the U.S. at the 90th anniversary of another camp, Artek. I made this table runner for her to present as the gift from the U.S. to Artek. Pretty cool! I made it with leftover blocks from a quilt shown in this post.

Here are a few older finishes I thought I'd share. Last year I made two baby quilts for a cousin's new baby and my boyfriend's new baby niece. They're made from 30's bow tie swap blocks and I think they turned out really sweet. I haven't been able to stop making these cute blocks, so I still have lots more of them. The second one was quilted by Dianne Dye in Roberta, GA.

These cute little animal blocks are a combination of two different swaps, and went to another of my boyfriend's nieces for her birthday.

Now for my most recent project. Earlier this summer I got my Grand Illusion (Bonnie Hunter's-2014-15 mystery quilt) quilt top finished and have started quilting it. 

So that will be the next finish up, hopefully before too much longer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

5 Things I Wish a Doctor Had Told Me About Migraines

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. Please consult your doctor; you know the drill.

I've dealt with migraines all my life. Lots of them. My official diagnosis is "chronic daily migraine". Here are some things I never heard from any of the many doctors I've seen, but have picked up along the way other places or just figured out on my own. Maybe some you've heard of, maybe others you haven't and they'll help you, too.

1. Chocolate milk

This is a tip my Mom overheard about a year ago. Where, oh where has it been all my life?!? What she heard was chocolate ice cream, which I started out trying, and soon shortened it to chocolate milk which is quicker, plus easier on the budget and the waistline. The key here is to give yourself an ice cream headache. Sounds weird but it works. The instant you start to feel a headache coming on, drink a whole glass down as quickly as you can. It works great for me, and hopefully will for you, too. In a pinch, a few chocolate chips and ice water will work, too.

Update: A reader commented on facebook to use organic milk only. She says the additives in regular milk cause inflammation. (Inflammation is thought to cause headaches.) So I've switched to organic milk. It's only been a few days, but may be helping. Too soon to say, but I'd never heard this before, and it's definitely worth a try!

2. Crystallized ginger

This doesn't work nearly as well for me as chocolate milk, but it travels a lot better in my purse than chocolate milk does. Lol (Although you can find chocolate milk, or at least Yoo Hoo at almost any convenience store.) Anyway, the person I heard this from said a piece about the size of a quarter works for him. That amount didn't work for me, but several pieces can hold off headache progression for me long enough until I can get to some chocolate milk. The taste is really strong, but of course better than the pain of a headache.

3. Avoid heat

This is a tip from a friend with MS. It's summertime in the south, so this can mean rearranging my schedule, and sometimes just staying in, but if you've ever had a migraine, you know you'll do anything to avoid another one. Staying inside in the heat of the day is a small price to pay to avoid a headache.

4. Sit up in bed

I spent years and years trying to sleep off headaches...lying flat in the bed. A few years ago when I went to a headache clinic, (MHNI, which I highly recommend) for the inpatient part we were in hospital beds which were tilted upright. The connection didn't dawn on me until sometime after that. Do your headaches get worse if you lean forward? If so, then when you're in pain, instead of lying flat in bed, try propping yourself up with pillows, or sit up in a recliner. Also, I've been waking up with headaches, so have started sleeping more propped up instead of flat, and it's helping me wake up with fewer headaches.

5. Avoid eye strain

Avoiding glare from the sun is something I've known about for years. But did you know you shouldn't look at a computer/phone/tv screen in the dark? My sister mentioned this to me a year or two ago and it's been helpful. I've also got my computer and phone brightness settings turned down pretty low.

Here are 2 bonus tips:
Bonus 1. Ice the back of your head, too

This isn't on the list above because I learned it from my doctors at MHNI. You probably feel relief from putting ice on your forehead, or whichever temple is throbbing. Did you know the pain originates in the back of your head? Feel behind your ear, just above your neck. Feel that knob? There's one on each side of the back of your head. Whichever temple hurts, the pain starts in the knob on that side. Put ice on that knob, plus that temple. Be careful though, because too much pressure there can be aggravating. And if I don't have a headache, massaging that area can cause one.

Bonus 2. Flonase

This didn't make the list above because I haven't tried it yet. The other day my dentist told me he saw evidence that I have "airway issues" and said there's some evidence that could be a factor in headaches for some people. He suggested I look into it, and my doctor and pharmacist gave it the green light, so I picked some up today.

Update: It's only been a few days, and the switch to organic milk happened at the same time as trying Flonase, so I don't know whether Flonase or organice milk gets the credit, but I've been better for the last few days. When the Flonase runs out, I'll keep the organic milk and skip the Flonase to test it. I'll keep y'all posted.

You've probably already spent time looking for your triggers, but in case you need a refresher, here's a good article on food triggers, and here's an overview that also covers several environmental triggers.

Do you have any tried and true remedies? And if you find some of my tips helpful, please let me know.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Peach Crisp

Some people think summer starts with Memorial Day or Summer Solstice. That's fine for them, but for me it starts with the first peach crisp of the season. This year that came with the peach crisp I made for my Dad for Father's Day. was so good! So I thought I'd share the recipe.

My recipe came from my Mom. She scrawled it out on the back of an envelope, and I still keep it that way. As with many great, classic recipes, it's also simple and easy. I think that's why they stand the test of time.

Peach Crisp:
12-15 medium peaches (or whatever fruit you like, but what's better than peaches?!?)
1 c sugar, divided
2 T instant tapioca (if you use apples, leave this out but adding cinnamon would be good)
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted

Blanche peaches for 30 seconds in boiling water and put immediately in cold water. Rub peaches, and the skin will fall off. Cut peaches into bite size pieces and put into casserole dish (mine is 3.2 quart, 8" square and 4" deep; anything similar is fine). Mix in about 1/2 cup sugar (less if fruit is really sweet, or to taste) and instant tapioca. (I prefer my crisp less runny, so I use lots more than 2 T, maybe 4 or 5.)

Topping: Mix together flour, baking powder and 1/2 c sugar. Add egg. Mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle topping over fruit. Pour melted butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and edges are bubbly.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and try not to lick the bowl in front of company! :)

Serves 6-8.
My casserole dish is deep enough that I could have easily used 20-24 peaches with the same amount of topping and served more people. You could also double the whole thing and put it into a bigger container. I once served about 24 people by using 4 large cans of (drained) canned peaches (no need to add any sugar because they're packed in syrup) and quadrupled the topping. I used a large disposable aluminum pan (on a cookie sheet to support the weight).

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

PSA: Please don't wash antique quilt tops!

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on antique quilts. The best I know is Barbara Brackman and there are many others that know more than me. Now here's my story:

Years ago (10?), my great-aunt gave me an antique quilt top made by someone in the family. She didn't remember anything about it. Most of the fabrics are from the 1930's, though some seem possibly older. It's a true scrap bag treasure. My great-grandmother was a quilter, so I'm hoping she was the quiltmaker, but there's really no way to know.

The pattern is Nosegay, and like most of the fabrics in it, is typical of the 1930's:

You can see that the edges are really wavy. All the patches on the edge of the quilt top are cut on the bias. There were no setting triangles or borders to contain the bias and they got really stretched out.

Here's a close-up of the bottom edge to show a little better how wavy it is, plus how the corners look like tear drops. 

Now here's a close up shot of the back. You can see that someone along the way washed it. The seams have raveled...a lot.

I repaired the open seams but you can see that the top is hand pieced and there is not a lot of seam allowance left in places because when the top was washed, so much of the seam allowance raveled up and went away.

Here's what I trimmed off the back. The pen is just to show you how big the wad of thread is. All of this should have been seam allowance helping hold the beautiful patchwork together.

It's understandable that old quilt tops are sometimes smelly and dirty, but if you're willing to go to the trouble to work on them and want to use them, then don't you want them to hold up as best as possible? Here's my advice: put them in a plastic bag with several dryer sheets and let them sit for a few days. This should take care of any smells. If it doesn't, put new dryer sheets in and give them a few more days. Please, please wait until after you have quilted and bound your treasure, then wash it.

I quilted this top in a simple but dense swirl pattern that gave me the flexibility to wander around as I needed to and reinforce trouble spots, and help hold everything together as well as possible. I don't personally feel that old quilts have to be either hand quilted, or quilted in motifs as they would have been in the era they were made. There are those who do feel that way, and that's fine, too.

After it was quilted, I trimmed off some of the wavy edges to try to make it a (little!) flatter but also try to preserve the half-block look of the design on the sides. I had some vintage 30's fabric a friend gave me that I used for the binding, and now instead of a top sitting in the closet, it's a full-grown quilt! And labeled with what little I know about it.

When it needs washing, I'll wash it by hand in the bath tub. It's too fragile to do anything else.

If you have an old family heirloom sitting around, why not pull it out and finish it up? There are some tops that may have been set aside because they had problems (like not laying flat! lol) or for any other number of reasons, but done is better than perfect, right? I'd like to think my great grandmother, or whoever set this aside way back when, is smiling right now.

Do you have an old top that's been passed down to you? Have you thought about finishing it?

Thanks for stopping by!