Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallow's Eve

I've always loved Halloween, it was such an exciting day when I was a kid. My sisters and I could hardly stand to wait until it got dark, that was when Mom would let us start trick-or-treating. Supper was torture, and we had to eat or else we wouldn't be allowed to go trick-or-treating. It was such a blast to be able to choose to be anything we wanted, and of course having people give us free candy wasn't so bad either!
I think being a gypsy was my favorite thing, I remember being so excited about being able to wear makeup and big earrings. Of course our aunt's and uncle's homes were the first stops, and they would ohhhhh and ahhhh over our costumes and always had the best candy to get us started. It was so fun (and scary) to run around the neighborhood in the dark, see what the other kids were wearing, "scare" the people answering their doors, and compare and trade candy. Actual full sized candy bars were the best, but rare, of course nobody wanted those gross candies in the solid black or orange wrappers. What were those things anyway, and why did anyone buy them? I was a picky kid, so I'll bet my sisters usually came out better in the candy trades, there were a lot of things I didn't like.
We lived in a quiet little neighborhood, so we didn't have to worry about our safety, though I remember when we had to start having our candy checked at home before we could eat any, there were reports of pins and razor blades in apples and candy tampering.
Though my kids are grown and I don't have anyone to trick or treat with right now, I still love it. I still carve pumpkins, decorate the house with cute Halloween things and love watching scary movies (Sleepy Hollow being one of my favorites). Unfortunately, living in the country, we usually don't get trick-or-treaters here. We did get one family this year, good thing we always buy candy just in case!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another day in the life.....

Things sure don't go as planned, at least for us. I made plans for DH & I to stay overnight in a nice room with a whirlpool in Shipshewana, mostly just to get him away from home for a while. He's away pretty much every weekday for work, and on the weekends he works like crazy around here. If I want him to relax at all, I have to take him away somewhere. Things started out well, but the bed was so uncomfortable in the room where we stayed that neither of us got any sleep. Saturday was nice in Shipshy, it was cold and windy, but at least the sun was out and we didn't get the expected rain. We got home Saturday afternoon, both really tired and ready to take a rest for a while, and found out that the power had been out for a couple of hours due to the high winds. Our outdoor woodburner won't heat the house if we don't have power, so Steve went to get the generator going, but it wasn't working right, it's kind of old. Next stop, Home Depot, man have we spent too much time and money there in the last year. We spent a fortune, got a new generator, it did work (pretty much) but the electric start didn't work, so that's a problem for another day. I feel so bad for Steve, he works really hard and then he comes home and something always breaks down. He's probably getting afraid to call me on Friday in case I have bad news!
Today is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the sky is such a beautiful bright blue with big fluffy clouds. Such a nice change from the rainy weather we've had lately. I hope we get a walk in this afternoon, we both need the exercise and this is the perfect day for it.
I just finished reading "A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska; The Story of Hannah Breece edited by Jane Jacobs. It was put together from letters she wrote to people over the years. It's interesting to read about her life, but since the book is taken from her letters and so many things happened between those letter writings, the story is kind of choppy. It really made me realize what a wimp I am though. She was describing her living conditions, and how her cottage would get cold at night (sometimes 40 BELOW!) and she would have to get up in the morning and heat up an iron to carry in her hands so she could walk to the schoolhouse and get the fire going. It would be so cold some days that it was practically unbearable even with the iron in her hands and she would "weep like a child". That's the least of what she went though, but she was dedicated to teaching the children the little villages of Alaska where few teachers cared to venture.

Next I'm going to read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, I've seen a few bloggers mention it as a good book and I spotted it at a used book store recently so I grabbed it. I'm also hooked on two new series thanks to the blogs I've read, Grey's Anatomy & Gilmore Girls. I'd seen bits a pieces of both before, but I don't like watching a series unless I can see every show, I don't want to miss anything important in the story. I love Netflix for that reason, I can rent the series discs without having to worry about how long I take to watch it.
Time to go have some dinner. We're having my niece and her fiance over for dinner and guess what......the GRILL BROKE!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tutorial on putting finished blocks together-

I had a couple of ladies ask how I put the blocks together for the "Loaner Quilt", so I'm going to attempt a tutorial. I saw this method in a couple of different articles a while back (I'll give credit if I can figure out where I saw it). I'm not sure if they did it exactly the same way, but I remembered the general idea.

Start with your quilted block of any size, for this quilt one side was pretty wild and one was mild colors. I cut a 1 inch strip of green from the wild colors, and a 1.5 inch strip of blue from the mild colors. Fold the 1.5 inch blue strip in half and iron it. I like to cut the strips a bit longer than the blocks and trim them down later.
Place the 1 inch green strip on top of one block (on top of the wild side of the quilt), and the blue strip on the bottom, with the rough edge to the outside edge of the block, pinning carefully so the edges of all the pieces match up. Sew a 1/4 inch seam along the edge.
At this point I trim the ends of the strips so they're even with the size of the block. Get another block and placing the "wild sides" of the two blocks together, pin the other edge of the green strip to the second block, and sew a 1/4 inch seam. Picture three is showing how my block looked with the green strip pinned and ready to sew, this blue block is the other side of the block in the first picture.
Lay the blocks out flat as shown in the fourth picture and flip over the blue strip and pin (iron it down if you want), and hand sew along the fold (which will run right along the line of stitching). I was going to show one last pic of the other side, but blogger has had enough, no more pics tonight!
Use this method to put together your rows of blocks, and then put those rows together the same way (using strips the length of the rows). When you pin the rows together be sure to check that the block edges and sashing match up as you go.
I hope this makes sense, let me know if you have a suggestion to make it easier to understand.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lazy Weekend

I can partly blame the weather, it was rainy almost all weekend, but mostly I'm just feeling lazy. When the cold weather sets in I just feel like curling up in a comfortable place with some thick socks on and a warm quilt wrapped around me and reading until I fall asleep (and then sleeping until MAY!).
Since I didn't do anything exciting I'm just posting some pics of things around the house. We live in an old house, it's on the 1873 plat maps, so it was built sometime before that. From what I've learned about the construction of old houses I would guess it was built around 1870, give or take a few years. From the time we first saw this place I felt like we were supposed to be here, and I've loved it ever since, it was a great place to raise kids. It's been remodeled pretty much everywhere, but it's still got a lot of charm.
I made this ark set about 10 years ago. I looked at any pictures I could find of carved Noah's ark sets and carved the animals mostly from pieces of pine that were left over from the construction at the church we were attending at the time. I guess that's kind of fitting for an ark. I want to get back to wood carving, but so far have been too engrossed in quilting. I think a lot of the problem is that it's a bit difficult to wood carve in the house, it's pretty messy, quilting fits into my lifestyle better. I made another set of animals that I need to make an ark for, and I'd like to make one more set so that each of the kids can have one someday. I use basswood now, it's good for carving and fortunately we have basswood trees on our property.

Monday, October 16, 2006

That's more like it

The snow melted and we had a pretty nice weekend after all, now they're forecasting a week of rain.....ah well, what can you do? I actually got outside and did a little work this weekend, Steve and I cut up a branch that fell out back & got some wood cut and stacked by the woodstove. I spend way too much time sitting and sewing, it feels good to get out and do some work. I do miss the kids, though, it was more fun when they were back there running around the woods. They'd help move the brush & load the smaller pieces, and got a kick out of seeing the trees fall, especially the bigger ones.

Steve got a new trailer for his tractor, he and our SIL had to run right out and put it together immediately & we all got to ooooohhh and aaaaaaaahhhh over it. He works too much, and really enjoys coming home and working on his tractor, I imagine he feels the same way about it that I do about my Bernina (only my Bernina can't do nearly as much cool stuff!).

This quilt was made in less than 3 weeks, a world record for me. My son, who was visiting from Seattle recently, mentioned that the quilt I made for his wedding needs some small repairs, so I told him to have his wife send it home. His wife said she really didn't want to send it, as they're using it & would miss it, so I jokingly said I'd have to send a "Loaner Quilt". When Jas got home he e-mailed and asked if I could get that loaner quilt sent out, ha! Guess he didn't know I was joking. I asked my DH about sending a quilt off our bed, but he won't part with one of them, soooooo what to do? I tried to think of the fastest way to make a quilt, didn't want to do a tied one, so I made large individual blocks, machine quilted each one and then put them together. It's taken about 2-3 weeks of working on it almost every day. The blue/green/purple side is my favorite, I hate the bright side (why did I buy those fabrics anyway?), but I figured someone would like it and I was right, my daughter likes that side the best. I renamed it "Madman Across the Water", I think that describes it pretty well and I was listening to a lot of Elton John while I was making it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not yet!

I can't believe it's snowing already, no fair! The snow broke a record in Grand Rapids for the earliest snowfall of over 1/2 inch or something like that. Hopefully we're still going to get some more nice fall weather, I love the fall & we were just getting some great color in the trees.
At least it's good quilting weather (yeah, I'm reaching to find a bright spot here). I'm making some headway on hand quilting this quilt. I think the pattern is called Fancy Grandmother's Flower Garden, but I'm not sure. It looks like I have about 1/3 of this quilted, but it seems like it's going slow for as much time as I've been putting in to it. This top was made by my husband's grandma, my MIL gave it to me for Christmas last year, I got to choose from several tops that Grandma didn't get quilted. This year I get to choose another, that is a great Christmas present for someone like me! I love scrap quilts and vintage fabrics, so this is the perfect quilt for me.

How cute is this fabric?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A tisket a tasket.....

.....here's my new Amish made magazine basket. It's from Rebecca Haarer's
Arts & Antiques store in Shipshewana, Indiana. She has a room full of vintage quilts, blocks and quilt tops at her shop, and many other interesting things. It's one of those places where there's so much to see that you never see it all in one visit. My husband and I are planning a weekend away to Galena, Illinois soon. He's been working too hard and needs a break. If anyone has been there and has any advice, I'd be happy to hear from you. I'm going to have to do some research and find out if there are any good quilt stores in that area or on the way there.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Another rainy day.....

Fall is really here now, just in the last day or two the colors have changed a lot. My daughter, SIL & I went to Shipshewana today, it's a great time of year to visit because everything is decorated up for fall & halloween. I have a couple more fall pics I wanted to post, but blogger isn't going for it, so maybe another day. We've had so much rain lately, today it rained on & off all day. I was hoping it would be different in Indiana, but no such luck. Of course being around the Amish made me think about the tragedy that happened in Pennsylvania a couple of days ago, and wonder how it would affect the Indiana Amish. When we got to the main 4 corners of town there were people on three of the corners, one groups was singing and somebody was yelling. Two signs were being waved, the one in the picture below and another that said something about fornicators & adulterers. On the other corner some guy had a blown up poster of a baby all cut to pieces & bloody and was yelling in people's car windows about abortion. I'm not going to give my views on the subject of abortion here, but I can't imagine that he can really believe he's going to reach anyone that way. It was really a gross picture blown up to a very large size and children should definitely not be seeing such a thing. There were two young girls standing with the sign wavers that were dressed as the Amish, but I have a hard time believing that any Amish would do that. The men were all dressed in regular street clothes, so I have to wonder if they just got the girls dressed that way to make people think of the Amish girls that were killed in Pennsylvania. I'm sure they were thinking that they're doing something useful, but I can't imagine anyone changing because of what they were doing.