22 May, 2019

Quilts of Valor

I have really enjoyed being a volunteer quilter for Quilts of Valor. It's a unique opportunity to give back, practice my  long-arming and being treated to new and different patriotic quilt top designs; layouts, settings and blocks.  
I receive and quilt two a month and just finished this month's assignment. They are folded and boxed and ready to be shipped back for binding and future presentation. I thought you would like to see them too.
I loved this simple block design and the way it combined over all to create the look of the "floating" square. It looks great in red, white and blue but would be equally stunning in any three color combination. Here is a close up of the block.
I drafted it up in EQ to save the idea on a front-burner of my brain. (Too many ideas get back burnered and, eventually, fall off the stove top!) The colored block plan and cutting directions are below, enjoy!
The block measures 12", finished. It is composed of the following pieces: cut 1 center square (shown in blue), 6.5". From white fabric cut 2 rectangles, 6.5" X 3.5" and 2 squares, 3.5" squares. Cut from red: 2 rectangles, 6.5" X 3.5" and 2 squares, 3.5" squares. Lay out the block as shown above. Using 1/4" seam, attach two joined squares to the top and bottom of the center square, paying attention to color placement and then adding the side rectangles which have been joined on the short ends. Press. Repeat. Admire!
Life is Good!

21 May, 2019

All About Family - Cornfields and Collages

We've been on the road; a quick, and sad, trip to western Illinois to say good-bye to my husband's favorite cousin who lost her battle with both kidney disease and cancer a week ago. Thanks to one and all who prayed for her; she is now at peace in her heavenly home. As heartbroken as we were it was wonderful, as always, to reconnect with family that we haven't seen for far too long. I love this picture of my husband and Kathy from twenty-five years ago. They always had fun together. Our trip out and back was uneventful, thank goodness; there were storms all around us both coming and going! 
We saw a lot of empty cornfields and farmland that remains, frustratingly for the farmers, too wet to plant. 
Back at home: work continues at home on my new perennial garden. There's very little that's blooming yet, I hope to update this picture with one full of color very soon! 
The babies are getting ready to fledge, I would guess in the next couple of days. Yesterday I checked inside the nesting box but didn't take a picture. The box opens from the side and the babies are so big now, and so crammed inside there, that I was fearful if I opened it wide enough to take a photo they would topple out! They are distinctive now in their markings, fully feathered and NOISY!
Speaking of babies growing-- these are just a sampling from a photo shoot of our son's family a few weeks ago. I think each and every shot is wonderful, the photographer captured their personalities perfectly. Our son and daughter-in-law just celebrated their eleventh wedding anniversary, so hard to believe! Although their babies like to frequently test their own wings, these little ones are content to stay at home for at least a few years longer. Sigh. 😍

Life is Good!

12 May, 2019

Thanks, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day! Especially to commemorate the occasion I am wearing this "time to say thank you" Swatch today. When we lived in Europe, twenty-plus years ago, I used to love to shop in the Swatch store there, they always had fun watches and I remember sending two of these watches back to the United States, one for my mother and one for my mother-in-law. I found this one, that had belonged to my MIL, a few years ago when were cleaning out. It is precious to me on many levels. The watchband is emblazoned with "thank you, mother" in many different languages.
My mother and me, a few years ago; at Quilted Threads in Henniker, NH. I am extremely thankful to have a mother who's always ready to ride along and indulge me in my "need" to visit every quilt shop in a multi-state region when I come up north to visit. She's just like that; for her sense of adventure and SO MUCH MORE, thanks, Mom!
The Bluebirds are developing, growing feathers and increasing in size by the moment~ thanks to the excellent care of their super-attentive and ever-vigilant birdie-Mom!
No matter who you're with today, your mother or a mother figure in your life. 
Remember to give them a big hug and thank them; they'll appreciate it more than you can know!
Thanks, Mom!

Life is Good!

11 May, 2019

One More Soft Spot

Here I am, 'modeling' my newest acquisition; it's all about those "soft spots".
Jelly Roll rug~ 30" X 44"
Hi, it's me, Hannes. Ever since Mom got home from retreat last weekend with that great big ball to make into a rug I have been eager to get 'r done! I could always use one more soft spot on which to sit. But then, she became distracted with other things. What gives? Why the delay? What's stopping the action?

I didn't see a whole lot happening on my "soft spot" project; some days a pup simply has to take matters into his own paws.
The hardest part was getting up in, and down from, the sewing chair-- it rolls! What's up with that? One more instance of Mom placing her own comfort over mine. 🙄 Sheesh!
Nothing stands in the way of some serious determination and outright perseverance. Ta-da!
Finally; it's nice to have a soft spot for me while Mom does laundry; seriously, what took so long? 
I don't see Mom sitting on the cold, hard floor. What else do you have for me to work on?
Let's go!
Life is Good!

09 May, 2019

Lifted On Wings

The Bluebirds are growing feathers at the speed of light; their daily growth and development is startling in its rapid progress! Before long those six little beaks will be clamoring for worms and bugs in a cacophony of frantic chirps and that nest will grow ever smaller and smaller. Soon Mama and Papa will beckon their bluebird babies to fly, to test out those God-given wings and set out on their own; it all happens so fast. This morning I am asking you to lift up prayers, as if on wings. I ask that you pray for my husband's sweet cousin, Kathy. Kathy has faced life changing illness head-on over the past few years and fought like a warrior; her road back to health has been littered by complications and obstacles every single step of the way. Kathy loves fiercely, she has the sweetest spirit, and unfaltering faith. She and my husband have always claimed, unashamedly, to be each other's "favorite"; they have a life-long history of being just that for each other.
Mr. Goodneedle with his sister (left) and his three cousins in July 2014, Kathy is wearing green, in the center.

While its always appropriate to pray to God for health and healing, our prayer now for Kathy and her family is for peace and comfort, if you're a praying person I ask that you join me in that prayer today; please lift those prayers up, as if on wings-- but not the faltering wings of a baby Bluebird this time; lift your prayers up on strong wings so that they will soar with strength and confidence, like those of an Eagle. Go ahead; God's strong, He is ready for the prayer bombardment. We love you, Kathy!
Thank you.
Life is Good!

08 May, 2019

Back From Retreat

Dogs in Sweaters ~ 45" X 60"
Well, yes, I AM back from retreat! We had an absolutely wonderful weekend in every way and I did get a LOT done. The projects that I took to work on were polar opposites, though. Next time I'll know better. The jelly roll rug requires nothing more that mindless sewing: joining the strips, one after another and then folding them with the batting inside as they were fed through the machine to topstitch through all the layers; this went on for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I got the "rope" into a loosely wound ball about the size of a volleyball, this was a boring task. The "Dogs in Sweaters", however, was another thing all together! With all of my pieces labeled and organized it went together splendidly; but, it took every bit of focus and concentration that I could muster. If I turned an ear wrong once, it would happen again, I am nothing if not consistent! This pattern is a good one but think of it as part quilt block and part jigsaw puzzle, when there's nineteen other ladies in your sewing space at the same time it's hard concentrate; it's probably not a good retreat project. And yet, undaunted, I persevered!
Almost immediately after my arrival back from retreat we traveled to a local park for an inspiring outdoor worship service. Our pastor used a story-telling sermon format to tell the Creation story. The event was well attended and there was a lot of good food and fellowship following the service, always a fun occasion. 
Speaking of creation, the bluebirds hatched while I was gone, lots of babies in one cozy nest.
We had our two youngest grandchildren the last couple of days as their Mommy had to attend a conference and their school hours (drop off and pick up) doesn't quite lend itself to Daddy's work schedule. We volunteered to keep them here with us until this morning. They're funny-- and SMART. Here PawPaw and Gregory are working on his homework while his sister has an after school activity. I had forgotten how I used to get so much done when I was a young mother-- it's all crammed into making the most of little snatches of time when they're available, I have been a master of accomplishment since Monday while they were here. It felt good to get showered and dressed, laundry done, the beds made and the dishwasher loaded and running all before eight o'clock AM! 
We saw this flag near the highway the other day when running errands. Lynnleigh said that its the biggest flag that she had ever seen. Gregory piped up and said that if you're going to fly a flag you should always fly the largest one that you can (it depends on how tall your flagpole is, he said). That made me smile; he's one very logical and patriotic boy! 
This is a LOT more fun than sewing the "rope", at least there's an end in sight now, and a pretty one. 
Hannes is doing a great job, don't you think?

Life is Good!

03 May, 2019

The Ruby Ruse

So, after packing up all the projects that I thought I could manage to work on in one weekend, I found myself still leaving one on the cutting table. That's a good thing, I will have another to work on when I return home and everything else is completed. Notice that brand-new rotary cutter on the table too, it is special; Olfa's 40th anniversary ruby red (supposedly a proprietary color) edition. I saw this cutter displayed with all of the other collector's editions at the Olfa booth at MidAtlantic Quilt Festival a couple of months ago. When I inquired about it from the salesman working at the booth I was told that it was in very short supply. He relayed a tale about miscommunication between someone in purchasing and their manufacturer and, because of that, they were so scarce that they were unable to fill thousands of standing orders with shops. Naturally, this made me want one all the more; well, actually, when I learned of this dilemma I wanted two-- one for myself and one for Quiltkeemosabe! The salesman told me that he might be able to locate two, but he was unsure. He got on his phone and spoke with someone, then told me that if I came back in an hour he would have two to sell, but that was all that he could get. I had to laugh, it all sounded like a back-alley drug deal or some such thing. I shopped around at different vendor booths and returned back in an hour. The deal was finalized and I felt victorious! Score!!
I saved back Quiltkeemosabe's gift for a future occasion. I was in my LQS a few weeks ago and what did I happen to see but a display of these ruby-red Olfa cutters! I was astounded. Quiltkeemosabe works at the shop; I asked her how hard it was to stock that item. "It wasn't" she responded, "why?" The next question I asked her was if she already had one, she assured me that she did not, I winked and told her not to buy one. From there I conducted some market research and found them to be easily available. I had been duped, fallen victim to the great Ruby Ruse; my gullible nature was to blame. I don't know if the guy was misinformed, if he had a sales quota for the event, or if he was simply dishonest; I hope it's not the latter. I have been an Olfa fan for almost the last four decades (began quilting in 1983, and still used cutting shears back then) and this little incident won't steer me away. I just love this cutter, I paid a fair price and red is my favorite color. I hope that Quiltkeemosabe loves hers too. So, back to what I left sitting on the cutting table: that one thing that I will have remaining to work on when I return home when everything else is completed-- if you believe that you're as gullible as I am. If I could convince you that I had all my other projects done I would be qualified to get a job at the Olfa booth! Every time I use my 40th anniversary collector's edition I will smile remembering the story. Do you have yours yet? Time's a wastin', it's only available for a limited time; at least that's what I've been told. 😉

Life is Good!