Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back at it!

I've made it through my reunion and hope to have some more time for quilting now that that's behind me (well... I do still have some bills and accounting to take care of, but at this point, the time commitment is minimal). I was completely exhausted upon my return from New Hampshire and found it difficult to motivate this past week, but I did make some progress on my Suffragette quilt. Here it is in its current state. All of the blocks are sewn, and laid out and about half of the rows are sewn together. I may actually have the top pieced in time for the 4th of July!!

I also wanted to share pictures of Ben's Gram with the quilt I made her. He gave it to her when he saw her on the Cape two weeks ago. She really likes it, thankfully, and apparently others have dibs on the quilt when she's no longer around to appreciate it (isn't that awful?).

My main tasks for the weekend, however, involved time outdoors and in the kitchen. The local fruit farm where I go to pick strawberries, apples and pears wasn't terribly impacted by the rains and they just opened their fields for picking. Ben and I got up bright and early yesterday to pick these yummy treats (and we managed to not go too much overboard with the picking this year!). This afternoon's work in the kitchen yielded 32 of these lovely jars of jam. I have some left and need to decide how much more I want to make, if any (I think I've made about 48 jars in past years and don't want to be caught short).

I even got inspired to pick up ribbon at Jo-Ann's yesterday and work on the labels before December rolls around and I need to get it ready for the holidays ASAP (gasp!).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bizarre weather

Well, the weather has been bizarre around here. On Friday afternoon, we had to go to the basement at work because of a tornado warning. And I was at the mall on Saturday afternoon and there was another warning - they were encouraging everyone to go to the center of the mall and away from the windows (which I didn't understand because there are huge windows up above all along the center of the mall). All I could think about at that point was the fact that Betty III was sitting in the parking lot and there were reports of golf ball sized hail in Waukesha. And I couldn't have my new vehicle getting hit by huge hail, now could I? So I ran out through the downpour and drove the couple of miles home. Had I been driving Betty II, I doubt I would have made it because it was really coming down and there were already some big puddles on the street. I did go to the basement once I got home and got the windows closed and water sopped up; I do take the warnings somewhat seriously!

We had between 7 and 8 inches of rain from Saturday to Sunday. There's been a lot of flooding and people with water in their basements (see reader submitted photos on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website), but fortunately, my basement stayed perfectly dry (I'm extra thankful because Ben has been out of town and I would have had to deal with any emergency all on my own). You can tell who had issues in their basements based on all of the stuff on the street that was clearly damaged. Sad.

I went for a run tonight along the Menomonee River Parkway and the water was still extremely high (thankfully we didn't get any more rain today). I think some animals have been displaced; a fox actually ran from the river area out in front of me and crossed the road into someone's yard.

Rainy days can be good for sewing. Seeing as I couldn't get outside for as many runs or all of the yardwork I'd anticipated, I had a bit more time for sewing. Here's a photo of my progress on the Suffragette quilt. I laid out the first row because I do actually have all of the component parts for those rows. The only blocks I have yet to sew are the pinwheel blocks (9). I've made the pinwheels, but still need to make the flying geese units that surround them and then piece the blocks. Not bad!

I also took a few minutes tonight to cover a Bag-E-Bottom that I owed Johanna for the purse I made her for Christmas. At that time, I couldn't find the acrylic base, but I don't think I probably took too much time then (I do realize that I could probably get this cut at some Ace hardware or some such shop), and I rather forgot about it. The most recent Connecting Threads catalog featured them, so I ordered a couple; one for Johanna and one for a purse I'll make myself. (Total aside: I used to like this catalog so much more before they started marketing their own fabrics.)

Anyways, that's what I've been up to. Hope things have been better weather-wise in your necks of the woods!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Introducing Betty III

As I mentioned yesterday, Ben and I were hoping to get a call from the dealership today so that we could go get our new car. What I really needed was the new car this morning - when it was raining torrentially. Betty II (yes, we name our vehicles and have just continued to apply the Betty name to all of the ones I drive) stalled once on the way in and sputtered a number of times. You better believe that I was hoping for that call from the dealership all the more! (Ben couldn't drive me in this morning because he had to drive down to northern Illinois for work. And he made me call him when I made it to work because he was afraid I might not make it. That's how bad things had gotten with Betty II.)

Well... we finally called the dealership because they didn't call us. Apparently the vehicle was there, but the running boards weren't installed (Ben thought this would be a nice option for me and for when we get a roof rack for the bikes). Because Ben leaves tomorrow, and we were pretty sure that he needed to sign some of the paperwork (which he did), we really wanted to get it today rather than waiting until we were both back from reunion.

Ben suggested to the dealer that we just pick up the vehicle today and schedule a time to get the running boards added later, which the dealership was amenable to, thankfully (heck - if the economy's so bad and American car makers are having a tough time of it, you'd certainly think that they'd want to be doing whatever they could to get these things off of the lot!).

So here she is - in our driveway! Vista Blue. Sunroof and satellite radio. Automatic (what a change!). Ours with just 42 miles on it. Poor Betty II has to sit outside until we figure out where exactly she is going. Anyone want a car that doesn't like the rain?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Suffragette in Progress

On Saturday I tempted you by mentioning that I might post images showing my progress on the Suffragette quilt that I purchased at the IQF Chicago. I did do some serious work on it over Memorial Day Weekend, when I cut everything out and started making the cake stand blocks, and when I also managed to sew my own finger! To date, I've made time to finish half of the cake stand blocks (18) and I pieced all of the four-patches as well. Here are four of each of the blocks. I still have loads to sew before I finish and I think the goal of having it done by the Fourth of July is hopeless, but at least it's bright and summer-y and I've been able to accomplish a small bit of sewing these last few weeks.

I really do love this fabric line and once I finish this (assuming I don't get distracted by another project), I think I'll whip up the bargello-y flag design that Julie presented in last month's Moda U. meeting at Patched Works. (An added benefit - at least it should be from Ben's perspective - is that that project won't require any additional fabric shopping!)

I still might go fabric shopping on Saturday (when Ben is gone) in my new vehicle... which is now supposed to arrive on tomorrow (Thursday). The date keeps getting moved back. Yes, we're finally getting rid of Betty II and getting Betty III - a blue Ford Escape! Yay!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Serenity Circles

I took some time out of reunion planning tonight and finished sewing down the binding on this quilt for Ben's Grandma (Gram). He's headed to New Hampshire this weekend for his high school reunion (15... ha ha ha!) and will head to the Cape for a few days, where he'll see her and give this to her as a belated Mother's Day gift. (Mom Sweetser: if you read this, mum's the word for a few more days!)

I was inspired to make this quilt after seeing a sample at Bigsby's Sewing Center, where I've been going to the Daiwabo Club and building up quite a stash of these subtle fabrics. The quilt is made from the Serenity Circles pattern by Elisa's Backporch. The pattern calls for her 7" Crazy Curves Template, but I modified the pattern (inspired by the model at Bigsby's) by using a smaller template from the Strips'n Curves Template Set, which made a 6-inch block. (Plus I already had this template set... because I have a Strips'n Curves work-in-progress that may get finished some day.)

I shared a photo of this and another Daiwabo work-in-progress (that is still a WIP) a while back before I'd had it quilted. Once again, Sandi quilted this for me and did a beautiful job. Finished size of the quilt is 48x60. I like it so much that I hate to part with it, but I know it's going to a loving home. Enjoy, Gram!

Mark Lipinski Blogged About Me!

It's amazing what technology can do. On Saturday, I blogged about receiving the newest issue of Mark Lipinski's Quilter's Home. Last night, I stole a few minutes to read a couple of blog postings in Google Reader - including Mark's Blog from Pickle Road. As I'm at the bottom, I read
"Michelle got her Quilter’s Home but she’s feeling really guilty….read why here Good mail day!" and realized that it must be me - would anyone else have created a post called "Good mail day"?

Sure enough, he'd posted about my post. If only I'd realized he might pick it up; I might have spent a bit more time composing my entry, or perhaps I'd have have taken a bit of time to include some prettier posts on the blog. But how cool - someone big in the quilting industry linked to my blog!