Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oh, boy! Vacation!

Mark and I got home this afternoon after a wonderful vacation!  As great a time as we had, it feels good to be back home.  If you'd like to see some vacation pics, keep reading. :)

The first stop on our trip was Savannah, GA.  What a beautiful city.  There's so much history there, and all the restored historic houses, plus beautiful squares that are like mini-parks spread all throughout the historic district make Savannah special.  There are also lots of old, old live oaks with spanish moss hanging off the branches.  City leaders negotiated with Sherman to turn over the city without any gunfire in exchange for him not burning the town on his march to the sea, so many historic buildings remain.

Here's the oldest and therefore biggest live oak we saw:
The building in the back was a hospital during the Civil War.  According to a tour guide, the confederate soldiers were hospitalized here.  Union soldiers were "patched up" then put outside under this tree to recuperate.  The circumference of this tree is 16 feet!

Forsyth Park is so beautiful.  Here's a fountain in the park.

This is St. John's Episcopal Church.  We saw it one night while walking but didn't get to go inside. Gen Sherman spent Christmas here in 1863.  He was in Savannah that winter.

This is The Catherdral of St. John the Baptist. (Not to be confused with the Episcopal church above!)

These pics are from the graveyard at Colonial Park Cemetery.  The marker above says, "Here lyeth the body of Theodora Ash who passed this life February 17th, 1770 aged 17 years" I think the detail work of the flowers on the sides and scrollwork at the top are beautiful.  I couldn't read all of the bottom, but it starts out, "If innocence and virtue..."

The marker below says, "..?.daughter of William & Rebecca Pinder died July ? 1794..?." 
I was struck by how many of the gravestones were for people who died before the age of 30.  Most of them were only children.  There were also many graves of people who died from the yellow fever epidemic in the early 1820's.

One morning we had a delicious brunch at Clary's, made famous by the book & movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil".  We watched it again just before we left, and I found the book at the library and read it on the trip.  Here's Mark posing with his breakfast. :)

This is the Mercer-Williams house, where much of "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil" was filmed. Mark took this pic from across the street in Monterey Square.  We took a tour of the house and saw the study where Jim Williams killed Danny Hansford. Some of Jim's family still lives in the top floor of the house and the first floor where we were remains much the same as it was when Jim died.

This may look like a mild mannered park, or even a parking lot.  But it's the Dueling Grounds where adversaries would stand back to back, walk 12 paces, then turn and shoot!  Yikes!  I guess that would be "winner take all" competition to the extreme.

The squares in Savannah are so beautiful.  There are 21 in all.  We ran across 3 different weddings over the weekend while we were there.  This bride arrived at the ceremony in a pedal taxi!

We spotted the Independent Presbyterian Church while walking, and decided to worship there on Sunday morning. I admit, I can be a tacky tourist.  Here's the inside which I shamelessly snapped pics of before the service started.  At least I turned off the flash! lol

 This is just a cute gutter ornament that I couldn't resist.
One of the last things we got to do was have lunch with a friend of mine from high school.  What fun to catch up with her!

Mark & I are eager to go back to Savannah some time.  We feel like we barely scratched the surface of this fantastic city. Have you ever been there?  What were your favorite sites?

Next stop, Charleston...stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sewing with Bonnie, more progress

After not feeling well at the beginning of the week, I made up for lost time the rest of the week and ended up with 10 hours of hand work on my Vintage Tin embroidery block. 

And it's finished!  You can see where the block was when I started the week here. I have two more blocks cut and ready to trace.

I also spent some time piecing this weekend.  Remember this pile of fabric?  Now it's not only a finished quilt top, but it's also quilted!  I even got the binding sewn on and ready to hand tack. :)
I couldn't get the whole thing in my pic, but you can get the idea.  This will be a sample at the shop.  It's made out of fun Christmas flannels and minkee.  So soft and cuddly!

How are you doing with your one hour of hand work a day? 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week is off to a great start,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Whatcha' reading?

What do falling temps and falling leaves signal?  Not just the start of ragweed allergy season!  It's time for the Friends of the Library book sale!
This afternoon I stopped by to see what kind of damage I could do.  I had a coupon for a free paperback because I completed the adult summer reading program at the library.  I was sure I'd win one of the big prizes like an e-reader, but hey, a free paperback is worth 75 cents! :)

I briefly considered trying out a few new authors, but texted Mom and based on her reviews, decided against them.  I've been on a John Grisham kick lately, so I picked up a few of his that I haven't read yet.  When was the last time I've read anything by Scott Turow ?  A long time, but I liked his one of those in the pile.  A Jan Karon Mitford book I haven't read yet, and finally Dan Brown.  I liked The Da Vinci Code, so decided another of his would be a good bet.  When my arms started hurting from carrying the load, I knew it was time to stop browsing. lol

So in the end, I wasn't adventurous at all, but I like all these authors, so a big stack of their books for $13, and I'm happy.  And happy to support the library.  I think I've given away more books in the last year than I've brought home (mainly reading from the library instead of buying), so the overflowing bookshelves in our house shouldn't complain too much.
What's that empty cup on top of the stack, you ask?  Oh, that.  Well, I redeemed my free frozen custard coupon that I also got for reading this summer!  I still have a free movie rental and a buy one get one free pizza buffet.

So what have you been reading lately?  And is it book sale time at your library, too?

A final pic for the day:
This morning I hosted quilt group at our house, and one of the ladies brought me these beautiful flowers.  What a nice surprise!

Thanks for stopping by & TGIF!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sewing with Bonnie, progress report

Last week I told you I'd taken up Bonnie K Hunter's challenge of spending one hour a day doing hand work.  I can't say that I did one hour each day, but I did average more than an hour a day, so I'll take it!

I spent lots of time here:

Here's a better pic to show some of the detail on the Vintage Tin block I'm embroidering.  You can see where I was when I started the challenge here.  I was hoping to be finished with this block by now, but I'm not too far away!
Here's my calendar.  You might be able to see that I only missed two days (I was busy machine quilting late into the night both of those days).  My total for the week is 11 hours.  Not too shabby for me.  It's the first time I've ever counted hand work hours, so it's interesting to see and definitely more than an average week for me.   And I didn't count the time I spent hand tacking down binding, because while that's handwork, it wasn't progress on Vintage Tin, which I specifically was committing myself to.
Are you taking the challenge?  How did you do?  Catch up with Bonnie and everyone else who took on the challenge (there are 40 of us!  Wow!) here.

Thanks for stopping by & happy Monday,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

K-Staters at the Olympics

Yesterday, we went to Manhattan to see KSU play U of Miami.  What a great game!  Go Cats!  The weather was picture perfect, so of course I had to take a picture. lol  I thought this was so part of the half-time show, the band honored the K-Staters who competed at the Olympics.  Four of them were present and if you look closely, you can see them just below the middle ring (one of them is wearing a red jacket).  I love how the band did a formation of the Olympic rings!

The weather is perfect again today.  I wish I could bottle this up and save it til February!  I hope the weather is also beautiful wherever you are.  But either way, have a nice end to your weekend. :)

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roll, Roll Cotton Boll quilt is done!

I've finished the binding and have labeled the quilt I've mentioned the last several days.  It's Roll, Roll Cotton Boll, a mystery quilt designed by Bonnie K Hunter.  The pattern is now in her latest book, String Fling.  I started it in 2010 when the mystery started, getting the middle of the quilt done within a few months.  But I was nervous about the pieced borders fitting correctly, so I stalled at the border stage.  At retreat last month I finished the top first thing.  The borders came out great!  Why did I let fear hold me back for so long?

Then I quilted it on Monday and machine-attached the binding Monday night.  I've been hand-tacking the binding like a fiend ever since!  And here it is all finished!
I had some top thread breakage problems on the longarm quilting machine starting about halfway through the quilting.  I tried all my usual tricks but nothing helped, and you know what solved the problem?  Changing from a 3.5 needle to a 4.0 (ball) needle.  I decided to try it because of all the seams in the quilt.  It seemed like the needle wasn't quite strong enough when it hit bulkier seam allowances.  I had tried replacing the needle (twice!) with new 3.5 needles but that didn't help.  After the needle change to a 4.0, it worked like a champ!

Below is a close up of one corner so you can see how the border turns, and also how many seams there are with the string piecing.  You can probably guess how bulky those seam allowances are where the blocks meet.
And here's a close up of one block that shows the quilting.  I agree with Bonnie that when you have so much activity in the piecing, a nice smoothly flowing overall quilting design works because it doesn't compete for too much attention.  It just enhances the piecing.
This is my "tease" pic of the backing from the other day that shows the quilting better.

Whew - I'm happy to cross this off my list!  And now onward!  I've been spending my 1 hour a day doing hand embroidery on the Vintage Tin Woody & bridge block as part of Bonnie's 1 hour a day hand work challenge.  It's coming along nicely.  Are you doing one hour of hand work a day?  If you're not a quilter, maybe you could find an hour a day to do something relaxing and just for yourself that you enjoy - like read a book, take a walk or listen to your favorite music?

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crockpot Spaghetti

So what's a girl with 10 miles (give or take just a little!) of binding to tack down to do for supper?  Why, turn to my BFF in the kitchen, the crockpot, of course!  This recipe is easy and good, my two must-haves.  And it's also  reasonably healthy, which I usually try for.

Crockpot Spaghetti
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
2 jars pasta sauce
1 box pasta
1 pkg shredded Italian-compatible cheese (like mozzarella, parmesan or this "5 Cheese Italian" blend I've found)
That's it!

 Did you know you can cook ground beef in the crockpot?  You can!  My mom told me she did it for chili and I tried it and appreciated the convenience of not having to stand over the stove.  The only downside is that draining it isn't the easiest thing in the world.  I use paper towels to sop up the grease.

Anyway, put the ground beef (the leaner the easier the draining) in the crock pot on high for about 2 hours, or low 6-8 hours or so, until it's cooked or you get home, whichever comes first.  Drain or sop up the grease.  Add the pasta sauce and let it simmer on low until about 30 minutes before you want to eat.  (If I'm working the day I make this, I cook the ground beef starting when I go to bed the night before.  In the morning drain the grease and add the pasta sauce and when you get home from work continue with the directions below.)

Break the pasta in half and stir it into your meat/sauce.  (Unless your crockpot is bigger than mine - maybe you wouldn't have to break it?)  Let it cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Stir well.  Add about half the package of cheese to the top and let it go another 5 mins or so, until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is melted.  Be careful not to let the pasta overcook.  Turn off the crockpot and remove leftovers to storage container asap so the pasta doesn't keep cooking and get overdone.

Then enjoy!  Reserve the remaining cheese for the leftovers.  This serves an army.  Yay, leftovers and no more cooking for the foreseeable future! :)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh, Happy Day!

Yesterday I spent most of the day machine quilting and I'm so excited that I did all the quilting on Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll - a mystery quilt from Bonnie K Hunter that I started back when Bonnie presented the mystery in November 2010.  The pattern is now in her newest book, String Fling.

Haha!  I'm such a tease. :)  I'll show the front once the binding is tacked down.

I was planning to stop for the evening after that, but then Bonnie posted that she was going to turn on her quilt cam and attach binding to a quilt she'd quilted yesterday.  It was meant to back to work I went and got my binding attached and it's now ready to hand-tack down!  I listened to her on quilt cam and watched occasionally until my phone died.  It was fun sewing "with Bonnie".

A few years ago Reeze taught me a great binding tip.  Maybe you've heard this before, but in case it's new to you like it was to me, here it is.

Once the binding is attached, press it out away from the quilt top.
There's a sneak peak of the front for you! lol

Now turn the quilt over and press the binding down toward the backing, where it will end up when hand-tacked down.

This extra step takes some time, but I'm such a slooooow hand-tacker that it's worth it to me.  The extra time spent pressing means that I don't have to use pins, clips or anything else while I'm doing the hand work.  I can just lightly hold the binding with my thumb while I stitch with the other hand.  The saved time on the hand work is way more than the time it takes me to do the pressing.

I also save time because of another binding tip from Eula at the shop.  Did you know you don't have to press your binding in half lengthways before you sew it on?  This was a revelation to me!  Just fold it as you line it up and attach it.  The crease that you're missing out on from skipping this step likely wouldn't have ended up exactly where it needed to be anyway b/c of folding the binding over.  And if you try the pressing tip, then you've put the crease exactly where it needs to be instead.

This quilt was too big to manage the pressing on the ironing board, even though I have a big board.  So I used my small table-top ironing board on the floor and didn't have to worry about the weight of the quilt causing it to fall to the floor off my big board. The quilt just stayed on the floor as I worked the quilt, small section at a time, across the smaller ironing board on the floor.

And now for some serious time hand-tacking!  I'm ready to finish this puppy!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sewing with Bonnie

Bonnie K Hunter has put out a challenge to do hand work for 1 hour a day this month.  I'm in!  I've been working on my Vintage Tin by Crabapple Hill and am now doing the woody and bridge block.  My blocks will be samples for the BOM that will be starting this fall at the shop where I work.  I haven't been working on it everyday, so this challenge seemed like a great idea!  Last night I worked on it for 2 hours and this is how it now stands:
I'm pleased with my progress, and am hoping that by the end of the month not only this block, but maybe the next will be done!

The pic shows where I do handwork, which is in the living room on the sofa.  I prop up pillows behind my back and sit sidewides to make it more comfortable.  See the bright pillow sticking out under my work?  That pillow goes in my lap to keep my project closer to me.  And you can even see a little embroidery floss hanging off the back of the sofa. :)  It's ready for me when I need it.

On the floor I have my little trash can, a pin cushion, my calendar to mark progress, and the scissors with a retractable holder - ready to wear and calling out to me to linger and stitch!  I do most of my handwork in the evenings so I can spend time with Mark.  We watch a lot of sports and I can listen to the action, then look up for the exciting parts!
Did you notice there's even a little pile of floss labels?  I need to keep track of how many skeins of floss I use for each block so we can put the right amount in each month's BOM kit.  The oil cans block used 2 1/2 skeins!

Check out linkys to the other participants in this challenge over at today's post on Bonnie's blog by clicking here! Are you participating?  I look forward to seeing everyone's projects and progress!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And now for some good news!

I've gotten a lot done in the past week.  Here's a pic of my finished August monthly twilling hanging on display at the shop.

I also finished the machine applique on the center medallion for Minglewood.  I've made a lot of the sashing for the pieced blocks but don't have them put together yet. I'm almost done with the October pieced block samples.

I remembered to take a pic of the first block from Vintage Tin, oil cans:

And here is the Route 66 block finished.

I've gotten a good start on the 3rd block, Woody and bridge:

Over the long weekend I have plans to get lots more done in the sewing room.  But for now, it's time to do some hand embroidery while cheering on the Dawgs!  What are your plans this weekend?

Happy holiday weekend & thanks for stopping by,

A little too much excitement

Yesterday I did something careless and stupid.  I got distracted and looked away from my longarm quilting machine while I was basting a quilt.  I've heard war stories of people sewing through their fingers but never imagined how easily it could happen and certainly never thought I'd do it, but I did.  I'm fine, but the sight of a large industrial size sewing machine needle going in my finger at the top and coming out at the bottom was pretty weird and one I doubt I'll ever forget!  Thank goodness it missed the nail and bone, so while painful, it could have been much worse.

Here I am revisiting the scene of the crime. (No, I didn't take a pic during all the excitement, so squeamish readers needn't worry!)

Fortunately a friend was with me at the time and helped me get the needle out of the machine, then pulled the needle out of my finger, got me ice and took me to my doc for a tetanus shot.  About 45 minutes later we were back in business quilting! :)

Hopefully I only have to learn this lesson the hard way once.   I plan to be very careful from now on!

Thanks for stopping by and be careful everyone,