Oh, Joy!

I have been blessed today! First of all, we went to the Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner at church, so I got to celebrate with the Irish and didn’t have to cook or clean up. But, there was something even better about our night out.
Each year there is an auction following the dinner. One of my friends, Mary Rinn, passed away at the end of last year. She had been instrumental in creating Scraps on a Mission. I had been making a wonderful, bright baby quilt to show her when we met again, and then she was gone. So, when I was asked if I would contribute a baby quilt to the auction, I said yes. I added a name tag to the quilt saying that it was in memory of Mary Rinn.
I was concerned, in these tight economic times, that no one would want to bid on the quilt. Dear Husband and I discussed it, and came to an amount we could afford to bid. I was actually expecting to win back the quilt I had made.
The crowd was difficult and noisy. The bids were small and slow in coming, despite the fact that the money went to support an excellent cause. I didn’t realize it, but the auctioneer saved my quilt for last. The very first bid blew me out of the water. I never had the chance to bid and sat back and watched the bids increase until it fetched two and a half times what would have been my top bid!
The quilt has gone to a very good home. The woman who won it, remembers Mary fondly, and felt she needed the ties it provided to Mary. When she asked her husband what she could bid, he said, “Whatever it takes.”
Mary, your big heart and generosity have helped others one more time. Thanks!

Charity

I have been incredibly busy with three charitable projects in the past couple of months. Let me tell you about them, briefly, I hope.
A dozen women in my exercise group wanted to sing for the vets at Hines VA hospital, and at a local nursing home. We met two times a week to learn the songs, and prepared a 20-25 minute program. I had a tiny solo in one song. The most difficult part of the rehearsal was learning simple movements. I tended to be the one going the wrong direction a good part of the time. The day of the performance at Hines, several of the men in class, and husbands of some of the performers drove us to Hines, and helped us with our presentation. We stayed to talk with the men, and that was the best part of our visit. We raised $205 in cash, and another $500 in personal products and books for the men. IT was a very satisfying experience. I’m so very glad I did it.
I also crocheted 50 six-inch squares for Share a Square. Shelly Tucker is working on assembling the last of 150 afghans for kids who are attending cancer care camps this summer. This will be the last season of this charity, and like many others, I’ll miss it. My crocheting knowledge grew this year. I’ve really enjoyed sitting with Dear Husband while I crochet in the evening. I’m looking forward to being able to see the delivery of the afghans to Camp Quality this summer. Thanks, Shelly, for providing such a lovely experience for us!
And……I have been working on lap sized quilts for kids in cancer care, and for adults at a local nursing home. Unfortunately, the wonderful woman who started Scraps on a Mission passed away a week before Christmas. I miss her terribly. I know the ladies want to continue the work she started, so I’ve been making tops and getting ready for a season of quilting. There will be pictures to follow, probably in a month or so. When my heart is heavy, piecing is a comfort, so these past two years I’ve made a LOT of quilted items!
I believe we all need to pay back our good fortune. I’ve been blessed with a good life and feel that I need to use my talents to do something for those in need. How lucky I am to be able to help others! Yea!!

So Many Thoughts

Why is it that I’m never close to the computer when I have a thought I’d like to share?
Mostly those thoughts are just worthy of a line or two, so a bunch of them might make a post. I’ll see how many of them I can remember.
This has been the warmest Fall on record for those of us on the outskirts of Chicago. We FINALLY had our first measurable snowfall on Thursday night, and it amounted to less than 1/2 an inch. We have been known to have snow as early as the end of September, or into October; definitely by November, so it’s quite a surprise to have waited well into December for the first white stuff. Dear Husband would like me to be quiet and quit tempting fate.
Thanksgiving went very well. As usual, we had plenty of food to send home with everyone, and we ate leftovers on Friday. It was a joy to have not only sisters and nieces and nephews, but some of their in-laws and pets as well. I was thankful that so many of us were able to gather.
The Sunday following Thanksgiving I was invited to do a short trunk show of some of my quilts for the Empty Nesters at church. The theme for the pot luck which followed church was “Leftovers,” which seemed fitting following Thanksgiving. I made a raspberry pretzel salad to share, one of my favorite salads/desserts. I’m usually lucky to have just one piece a year, and this year I’ve topped out at more than FOUR!!! YEA!!!
The trunk show was fun. I started out by saying that I was NOT showing all my quilts. I showed enough quilts to fill about 25 minutes, and was gratified when one of the men told me that he found the presentation interesting.
I’ve been watching the birds at the feeders, thinking of how my Mother loved to watch them. We have the usual suspects: blue jays, chickadees, juncos, mourning doves and a host of other small birds (mostly sparrows, I think), but my favorites are the cardinals. They are truly gorgeous against the snow.
The house is chilly now. I’ve been considering using a space heater in the studio when I’m working in there, and I’m rarely without a quilt over my lap when I sit to read in the living room. I don’t know whether I just need to acclimate to the lower temps or whether I need to get more exercise to warm myself up, but I’m not fond of the cold. I can appreciate how much DH must dislike having to be out in it most of the day!
Midweek, as the temperatures were dropping, a skim of ice was beginning to develop on the retention ponds. I’ll be watching tomorrow when we go out to see if they are totally covered with ice.
I’ve started a new quilt for Scraps on a Mission. A friend at quilting bee showed us a pattern that I thought might use up scraps. After the next session at the sewing machine, I’ll have 25 blocks done. I’ve used bright children’s fabrics, and the blocks will be set with white sashing to a finished size of 40×40.
My plan for the coming week is to finish labels for baby quilts that I plan to give just before Christmas. I’m using “Printed Treasures” to make the labels, adding a picture of the baby to the inscription. This is the first time I’ve added pictures, so I hope they turn out well.
I’m sure there are lots of other short thoughts that have gotten away from me. Perhaps it’s just as well that I’ve forgotten some of them, or you’d be here all day! *G*
I hope you are all enjoying the preparations for Christmas, are well, and have good weather. Merry Christmas to you all!

Trunk Show

NO…..I’m not showing trunks. (Blame that comment on Dear Husband, who would have asked what trunks.)
I’ve been invited to so a short showing of some of my quilts. The church which my Mother attended has an Empty Nester group. I know many of the members, and have worked with several of them on Scraps on a Mission, making gift quilts for people in the hospital and nursing homes.
The woman who founded Scraps on a Mission is the person who happens to be in charge of the Empty Nester Luncheon following church on Sunday, and she asked if I would be willing to show some of the quilts.
I have a list of quilts I think would work, and on Saturday, I’ll get them out, fold them up and bag them (just in case the weather is bad). I’ll be speaking very extemporaneously, and showing a quilt every 60-90 seconds. I believe that I’ll have to prune my list a bit to keep the men in the audience from being overwhelmed. *G*
Dear Husband, and My-Sister-The-Nurse will help me carry the quilts in. The theme of the luncheon is “Leftovers.” I’ll be taking raspberry pretzel salad, the one item of Thanksgiving dinner of which I never get enough! I may save two small servings, so that the salad has a “cut-into” look about it.
Too bad we can’t video tape the show, so that I could put it on YouTube for you. Next time I’m invited to do this, I’ll have to think ahead!
Wish me luck!

Scraps on a Mission June 7, 2011

Scraps on a Mission met for the first time in 2011 last Tuesday. I had been making kits all winter, putting together pieces for blocks to make the first session easy. I thought if I could present a non-threatening situation to the beginning quilters, we might be able to ease them into a positive experience.
My co-coordinator had called ladies from the church whom we thought might be interested in participating, and she expected five to attend, in addition to the two of us. And, one of my quilting friends has volunteered to join us on occasion, so that brought the total to eight. It was not the rousing turnout that I had hoped for, but it wasn’t a bad start.
The reality was something else. We were supposed to begin at 10:00. By 10:30 there were three of us. My quilting friend joined us at 11:00 and one more member from church arrived at noon. The session was to run from 10:00 to 2:00. We stopped for lunch at noon. After lunch, I gave a brief lesson on the basics of piecing to the one lady who arrived at noon. She is the least experienced at piecing of the group.
I was distressed about the lack of turn out, but at the end of the session, we had three tops finished, backings chosen, and batting cut to size. I’ve spent half my day today working on kits, and I have two more tops completed, and backings cut and pieced for four of tops. I’ve also cut batting, so that the kits are ready to be basted.
I haven’t totaled them up, but I’m fairly sure that we have easily 15 tops done. Our next meeting is at the end of the month, and we will work on basting the quilt packages. I’ve seen a video of a new way to baste them, to eliminate wrinkles, and I hope to try it before Scraps on a Mission meets again.
If we should have more members attend next time, I will teach a beginning class on assembling the blocks. If not, I’ll work on basting the quilt tops. I’m eager to try my hand at quilting with my new sewing machine.
I think we are off to a good start!

Nine days???

Could it really be nine says since I last posted? I’ve certainly thought about posting, but my days have been full, so the ideas haven’t made it to the page.
The egrets and herons returned around the seventh of May. We don’t have huge numbers of them yet, but I have the pleasure of seeing at least one of them each time I go out. I have seen the big gray herons in flight several times, and they always remind me of pterodactyls.
Up until this week we had a long run of gray weather without the rain. This week we have finally gotten the rain. I made a trip to Morris, Illinois last Tuesday, and was pleasantly surprised to see that about 90% of the fields between Yorkville and Morris were planted, and many even had corn 4-6 inches tall. I know that many of the Midwestern states have had so much rain that the farmers haven’t been able to get into the fields. We seem to have been a little area short on precipitation, so I’m not complaining. What I don’t care for is being drop-kicked from the 60s to 90 degrees overnight!
Despite my post on being frugal, I bought a sewing machine! I have been concerned that my beloved Singer 301A would eventually go kaput, and not be repairable. I’ve sewed on that machine for more than fifty years, and adore it! I thought that it might be wise to have a newer machine as a back up, before Dear Husband and I retire. The new machine couldn’t be more different. The Singer is a straight stitch portable machine made of iron. While I can drop the feed dogs to stipple quilt, it was never really intended for that purpose. The new machine is computerized, has a built-in dual feed system and an 11 inch opening through which I can feed quilts. There is a built-in needle threader. It has more than 100 stitches, an alphabet and numbers, and pattern memory. I can arrange for the needle to stop in the down position and there is a knee lever for lifting the presser foot. It’s possible to run the machine without using the foot pedal. Most women who sew today take a lot of this for granted, but it’s all new to me! I hope the learning curve won’t be too steep.
I’ve planted all but two of the plants I picked up in my first garden shopping trip. The last two to go in were purple fountain grass, along the back of the bed next to the garage wall. If I had planted them a month ago, it would have been a lot easier, but this week I had to work around iris that were ready to open, and the last of the tulips. I asked DH to bring a chair and sit where he could keep an eye on me as I planted. I was afraid that I would get into a position I couldn’t get out of. Luckily, the plants went in well, and with the use of the shovel handle, I was able to maneuver myself out of a tight spot and back onto my feet. I’m sure that his presence was what made that work. Had he not been there, I’d still be waiting for a hand out of the garden! *G*
I believe that eight to ten iris were blooming yesterday. One was open for a couple of days, and then it was a domino effect. It must have been just warm enough, and sunny enough to move them along on Tuesday. I have a lot of dark colored iris: navy, purple, burgundy, bronze, contrasted with yellow and peach. There’s no rhyme or reason. If I see one I like, I try it, and they almost always multiply for me. They are at the top of the list for my favorite flowers.
We are going to celebrate my oldest granddaughter’s seventh birthday today. Her birthday was last week, and they did a party for the kids, but the adults are gathering this weekend to celebrate. Last weekend was so popular there wasn’t enough time to fit everything in. I was tickled to hear that GD1 wanted to be the Cake Boss. To further this goal, I bought her a Nordic pan that lets you create filled cup cakes that resemble a soft serve ice cream cone in shape when they are assembled. The top and bottom are baked separately, and then pudding or frosting or even ice cream can be spooned into the indentation in the bottom half. I doubt her mother has the time to cook with her, but I thought it might be something that GD1 and I could do this summer. It interests me that it’s not the eating of the cupcakes, but the baking of them, that appeals to her.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I hope that those of you who have been around for our wars will help our younger generation understand why we choose to remember those who have fought on our behalf.

Baby Quilts

I’m so behind in my quilting! There’s just never enough time to do all I want to do in my sewing room! Can you tell I’m addicted??
I have pieces for five baby quilts sitting on the work table. Four of them are in every shade of pink, with sashing that has tiny pink rosebuds. Two more are sailboat patterns that are in bright colors with a multi-colored microdot background.
What will likely happen is that four of the pink quilts will come together quite quickly. I have the fabric for the sashing and borders to cut, but once they are cut, the rest will go together in no time.
The sailboat pieces are cut, but I have to sew and then sub-cut about 150 pieces, At that point I can assemble the sailboat blocks, and the pinwheels that alternate with the boats.
Both of these projects came about because I wanted to see what I could create from the stash I have on hand, and because my family is so darned busy making babies!
I need to get several of these done so that I can give them before the little girls are 21. I’m waiting to hear whether I need to make a quilt for a boy.
There must be something in the water…..

An Incredible GIft

I have a friend named June who lives in Aberdeen Scotland. We have never met, but we have corresponded and shared gifts. She has overwhelmed me with her generosity in the past, with lovely gifts that show her Scottish heritage.
June and I share a passion for quilting. We’ve swapped fabric and pictures of our projects. She sent me two exquisitely done shadow quilted pillow shams. They are elegant and perfect for the guest room in my home. They took a lot of time to create, and I was bowled over when I opened the package and saw what she sent.
However, she has topped herself in gift giving! In November she sent me a quilt! I’d admired the pattern on one of the quilts she’d made for her daughter. I asked if she would make a quilt top for me. Now, you need to know that I’m not brazen enough to ask a friend to make a quilt top for me without intending to reimburse her. June was raising funds for a poly-house her daughter needed to extend their growing season. I thought buying a top that June had made so that she could donate to the fund was a win-win situation.
So, imagine my surprise when I opened this package and found a completed quilt. This is the very first time (I think) that I have ever received a quilt from someone. My mother made quilts for all the women in my family, but we ran out of time before she could make one for me…..so this quilt is very special to me.
Here’s a picture (forgive my amateurish photography, please):
June Finnie Quilt 3B.jpg
I LOVE the colors! I LOVE the prints that June used. She and I are as different as night and day in our choices of patterns and fabrics, and for that very reason, I treasure this quilt. I hope one day I’ll get to meet June, and she can take me shopping for vibrant fabrics like the ones she has used in this quilt.
June…..thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Scraps on a Mission

Scraps on a Mission is the name of a group of ladies who are taking donated cotton fabrics and making quilts for those in need. It grew out of my friendship with a woman who is a member of the Empty Nester group at church, and is quietly taking over my life.
Two of my friends have donated hundreds of yards of fabric. They got to clear their stashes of fabric they were never going to use, and we got the basic material we need to make the quilts. I sorted through the fabrics and divided them up by color. I washed the very large pieces that will be used for backing, measured them, and stowed them away.
Today I spent a good part of the day cutting blue, gold and brown fabric into strips, the first step toward creating kits for inexperienced quilters to assemble. I have some more sub-cutting to do before I can bag the pieces. Many of the ladies who are working with us do not have any experience using a rotary cutter and mat, so I’m donating my time on this until I can teach them how to cut their own patchwork.
I believe that I have enough fabric sliced up to make at the very least six quilt tops! When I get a little further along in my preparations, I’ll take pictures for the blog.

An Early Christmas

Do you recall that I have been grinching around about people who have begun their Christmas shopping before we have even gotten to Thanksgiving? Hmmmm…perhaps that was over at Facebook that I said that. At any rate, every year it becomes more irritating to me to hear Christmas carols in October, and discover that one of my sisters started her Christmas shopping last year! Bah HUMBUG, I say!
But…..I received a package today. And when I opened that package, I discovered that there was a full size finished quilt inside! My first Christmas gift, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Of course there’s a story to this.
A decade ago I was a dedicated chatter. I was addicted to the computer and to chat rooms. If I couldn’t log in and talk to someone, I went into withdrawal. Then, I realized that I needed to get a life, and I cut back severely on the chatting. Ultimately, I ended with a handful of people with whom share occasional e-mails, and there was one young man I “spoke” to frequently via Yahoo Messenger. As time went on, and my mother came to need me more, my time at the computer dwindled, but not before I discovered that this young man’s mother QUILTED!
We sent items back and forth across the “pond,” and we shared letters. She is certain that if she sits at a computer it will break, so we occasionally do snail-mail. We’ve been trying to get her to e-mail, or to even communicate through Skype, without a lot of luck, and our connection was dropped this summer as my mother’s health began to fail, and she passed away.
My friend was selling quilts to raise cash for her daughter to build a poly house, so they could extend the growing season at their very northern home. I admired one of the patterns she had made, and told her that I’d be happy to buy just the top, to help raise funds. I thought ultimately it would be less expensive to ship it, and I could get it quilted here. So, I was absolutely floored to find the entire quilt, right down to the label, in the box!
This gift came all the way from Scotland! My friend had to be planning this during the summer to get the quilt completed and mailed off in time to beat the holiday mailing rush, and she came through like a champ! The quilt is a wonderful collection of fabrics with a very scrappy look, and a white background. When I have the chance to hang it, I’ll take a picture to share with you.
So….I guess I must say, “Let the celebrating begin!” Nooooelllll, Nooooellllllll…..