25 June, 2019

A Little Bit Of Family Time

I've been gone for a little over a week; we made a quick trip to New England to celebrate both Father's Day with my dad and my Mom's birthday two days later. It's always a great time when we get together, and it always goes by way too fast! This photo (L) was taken out in my Dad's workshop just as we were leaving to drive back home on Friday last week. I am posting, below, family photos that sum up our week together; mainly gathered around the table for meals, if not at my Mom and Dad's table at various other tables out and about, it's what we do!
Father's Day-- steak tips on the grill, Dad's choice! Mom, my BIL, sister, Mr. Goodneedle and Dad.
A fried clam roll from a take-out stand in Winnisquam, NH. I save up all year for this many carbohydrates and cholesterol in one meal. Yes, it is worth it. Just looking at this picture right now transports me back. 
The ladies all together for Mom's birthday. We ate at a favorite restaurant chosen by the birthday girl; we all had her favorite of all desserts instead of birthday cake there: fried ice cream! 
Lunch out at a great, old-fashioned diner after shopping at Keepsake Quilter. Hats are optional. 😉
My haul from the shopping trip. Great buys on backing fabric when purchased by the pound. I found a couple of books that I had been looking for and a pattern for placemats which are touted as quick and easy-- we'll see! I was very happy to see Keepsake Quilter return to the beautiful, well-stocked flagship store that it had been in the past; the new owners have turned this premiere shop back around.
This may seem totally unrelated, and maybe it is, but I wanted to add it to this "going back home" post. Mr. Goodneedle and I were in the same high school graduating class in Massachusetts. We recently observed the 48th anniversary of that occasion and couldn't resist swinging by our old alma mater on our way up to New Hampshire this time after spending time in the Boston area. The renovated building now bears little resemblance to the school as we knew it. In our minds, though, it remains exactly the same. On a warm June evening  in 1971 three hundred plus students stood proudly in the front driveway and walked up to the the podium, one by one, to receive their diplomas; a long time ago but, then, it sure doesn't seem that way.
That's the funny thing about time, the clock and the heart measure it completely differently;
in a blink, our short week was over and it was time to hop back in the car for our drive south.
I'm holding on to these memories,  I've tucked them away. 
I wouldn't trade this time of double celebrations together for the world.
★Two quilty posts to follow! Stay tuned~

Life is Good!

14 June, 2019

Dogs In Sweaters

I finally got the quilting done on that retreat project that consumed me last month; Elizabeth Hartman's Dogs In Sweaters quilt will soon be hanging in my studio in all its canine glory! I am truly in love with this little quilt. I chose to quilt it with a pantograph called Bauhaus by Patricia Ritter for Urban Elementz, it had just the right feel. I didn't want to quilt it too densely because I had a time with the fabrics laying flat. This is constructed entirely (except for the back and binding) from Essex Linen and cotton flannel. For some reason the flannels "grew" a little and required some steam and coaxing to behave in a straight and square manner before this one was quilted. It all worked out extremely well.
Is this not the cutest thing? This quilt measures 45" X 60"
Here's a detail shot with the back folded up so that you can read the most perfect backing fabric.
The binding got an extra shot of color with some red and black print piping, added before stitching the binding on but after the quilted portion was squared and trimmed. I originally bought enough materials to do the entire full sized quilt and then realized that it was too big to hang in its designated spot, over the loveseat. I will use those leftovers to make a sofa cushion with from a single block (16" X 26") and add the eyeglasses to that one as it will be a pillow to sit and read with. 
Picture from pattern envelope
I loved using this pattern, the cutting directions are not for wimps, but once that's accomplished you're good to go! I have two more of hers to tackle this summer: "Penguin Party" and "Cuckoo", they're on my to do list! 

Have you done any of these patterns? 
Which ones?
Life is Good!

11 June, 2019

A Smattering

I swear, I try to keep up with posting, I honestly do; what takes me so much longer than it used to? I don't know. But, in a continuing effort to be more timely, let me entertain you this morning with a smattering of various and sundry events in my life over the past week. There was this-- Theodore the chipmunk who decided to jump in the watering can just prior to my filling it! I heard a telltale scratching, amplified by the galvanized metal, and look who was inside! I jumped-- you bet I did, and my glasses flew off and landed, lenses DOWN (of course!) on the bricks.  The left lens was chipped; smack-dab in the center of my line of vision! Take my word for it, I tried to get a shot of the offensive area (above) but it's hard to tell. I called the eye doctor's office the next morning and was advised to bring them in. I really wanted the lens to be replaced if possible. I was informed, after the glasses were inspected that my lenses were going to be replaced, both of them; and that my warranty expired that VERY DAY! 😲 One day later and it would have cost me, dearly. As they say, timing is everything. Oh, Theodore was released to scamper back under a shrub! If it's not one thing it's something else; remember that toad that hid in my tennis shoe?
My favorite first cup of the morning tea; has been for years. Stash, Christmas Morning, a blend of black and green teas with a hint of jasmine. It is perfect. Why do they have to mess with the packaging and even the tag? It's bad enough that the box sizes are smaller now but I have a whole new item to search for when shopping, the new branding doesn't resemble the original in the least. I liked the tag to read "Cup of Joy", it made me happy. A dear friend once told me that "change is life" and if one doesn't adapt to change we know what the alternative to life is-- but change for the sake of change?
I took Lynnleigh shopping the other afternoon for fabric to make a sundress. Here's the pattern:
I told her that she would need to choose something to make a dress for herself and and also a contrast fabric. (Yes, of course, there will be a doll dress too!)  She was very serious about the entire selection process, no greater decision has ever taken longer. The hardest part for her? Finding the "contract fabric"!😉 I believe that she had a fun time and was pleased with her ultimate selections. 
She had a performance with her singing friends the following evening, it couldn't have been cuter!

Some quilting has been going on. I quilted this for a friend last week. Her desire was for parallel wavy lines; it turned out nicely, I really liked this pattern. She made it in a mystery block of the month class. 
I have another QOV on the rails now, these are always different, inspiring, and so much fun to work on!
The Hydrangea are spectacular this year! These are around back, adjacent to our patio space. I have inadvertently cut them back at the wrong time of year, more than once, only to be left bloomless the next summer. Now my plan is one of benign neglect and they're rewarding me. We still have no 'start date' from the contractor for our screened-in porch project back here; we know that we're on the list, hopefully we're getting near the top. Sadly, it looks to me like we'll be enjoying it in the fall instead of the summer this year; but there are many summers to come, it's all good. 
The new perennial garden is coming along; blooming is beginning! We have, at long last completed the making of all the stepping stones and are still in the process of installing them.
Another viewpoint. The beaten-up large stone in the foreground has since been replaced. 
As I posted earlier, we made four personalized stones and placed them randomly for the grandchildren to discover, each one bearing their initials. Gregory was first one to stop by and discover his on Sunday afternoon. I think he liked it!

Today is the last day of school in public schools here; remember how that felt?
Forty eight years ago today my husband and I graduated from high school together. We were the last class to graduate in front of the school, outside in the driveway, squinting into the setting sun. (Since then, graduations have been moved indoors, into a field house that wasn't quite ready in 1971.)
SUMMER!! It seemed like it lasted forever back then. 

Life is Good!

04 June, 2019

Watch Your Step

"So, we had this idea"; isn't that the first thing you usually hear when you're about to learn of someone's latest undertaking, their vision and all the details of what they endured and learned along the way?  This post is no exception! Like all great adventures, it started off innocently. We had "inherited" (translates to: found when cleaning out my MIL's house) a large number of hand-fabricated aluminum rings that my FIL had made for one of his long-ago ideas. We thought that they would be perfect forms from which to make stepping stones for the perennial garden. There are two sizes: 15" and 27". We kicked around some ideas for how to pattern them. I found a link to someone's blog on Pinterest where the maker had used a decorative rubber doormat to make some really pretty stones from concrete, she explained the process in detail and it seemed to be exactly the thing that we had in mind. We gathered the supplies: a doormat, Crisco, non-stick aerosol cooking spray and tons and tons of concrete mix! We were able to cut enough motifs from the original door mat to emboss four stones at a time (three small and one large). This cuts down on productivity and, considering that each "batch" takes twenty-four hours to dry, plus the fact that we figure we will require approximately fifty stones, our days are now consumed with stepping stone production! Every morning, at the crack of dawn (before it gets too hot), we've been up and mixing up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of concrete and making our "daily four". We're in a rhythm now. The following photos will serve chronicle the process.

Inside each ring we laid out the motifs, initially, to make sure that they would fit properly for embossing. There is a layer of chicken wire inside each stone: concrete, wire, more concrete and then the rubber mat on top. 
Crucial for release is a liberal coating of non-stick cooking oil before placing in the form.
A days' full batch, drying in the sun. 

Close-up of a stone with the rubber form removed, next it will be gently tapped out of the ring form.
And so it goes, one day at a time and four more stones added for a path through the garden. 
There are four special stones for the grandchildren to discover placed randomly along the paths. 
We're all enjoying the garden project, even if we're not strolling through step by step; we have a quiet, tranquil place to rest and observe the birds and the emerging flowers at the end of each day.

Life is Good!

29 May, 2019

Just Add Insects

The newest porch quilt to be added to a growing collection; they're all from Kim Shaefer's Calendar Quilts and measure in at the same size; 20.5" X 28.5". This one just needs bugs. I messed up when copying the shapes onto the fusible web and forgot to reverse the images, my version is a variation on the pattern as published. Oh, well; it's an original.
I finish all the raw edges so that these quilts will stand up to the elements and won't curl or fray over time. 
A lady bug, butterfly and a bumblebee are pre-fused and added to the flowers and background. 
I need to get this quilted up now; as small as these quilts are, that takes no time at all, binding takes longer.  I love the touch of whimsy that these porch quilts add to our outdoor space. I hang them on our side porch just outside the door that leads out of the sewing room. Mr. Goodneedle and I usually sit out there every evening enjoying the birds and other visitors in and beyond the developing perennial garden space; things that fly, crawl, hop, run or slither on by, we see them all.
Speaking of garden "visitors". My shoes were so caked with mud the other day after working in the garden that I left them outside in the sun to dry. The next day I scraped the dried mud and dirt off the bottoms of my shoes and banged them, repeatedly and HARD, against the brick wall to knock off any remaining dirt. I picked them up to carry them inside and felt a slight vibration inside one shoe. I pulled back the tongue of one shoe and out hopped this little friend. I know he had to have quite a headache after all that!😲

Life is Good!

24 May, 2019


May 24, 1975

Forty-four years. Two children. Four grandchildren. Ten homes in three countries. 
Thanks be to God for each and every blessing: for the incalculable number of special moments,
exciting adventures and treasured memories bestowed upon us as we've built our lives together.
Forty-four wonderful years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. 
Yes, "I do"; and I would absolutely do it all over again! 
From this morning's most timely devotion, Ephesians 5:2:
"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, 
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God".

Life is Good!

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!