"...for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Garden Time!!

And that makes for one very happy Jennie :)

This made me happy too- there are dozens of little daffodil buds coming up in my little garden at the end of the driveway!

I got the strawberries in! I thought it was way too early, but a friend of mine (who happens to be a Master Gardener!) told me to get in them in ASAP then cover them with a thick layer of straw. I hope they're growing under there :)

The Grand Plan
And last but not least, I've been completely re-doing the garden to get the maximum planting space. The supported raised beds are gone, and in their place will be 6 unsupported beds 12 feet long by 3 feet wide. I have 2 of them established, and am planning to have the rest done this week! That will give them a week to settle before I plant the early things like peas, lettuce and spinach.

Now it's lunchtime, and then I'm going to get my peppers, tomatoes and broccoli started indoors!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A New Shop!

Woohoo!! There's a new shop close(ish) to me! And it's a great one :)

It's called Acorn Quilts, and it's in Rockford, IL, about 25 miles west of me. Paige and I drove out this morning to check it out.

It's very nice!! The decor is really modern, and the fabrics are a pretty good mix of Civil War repro-type stuff and modern. She had the entire "Nicey Jane" line by Heather Bailey! The prices were pretty much standard for brick-and-mortar stores.

The best feature of this shop? They were SO friendly and nice and seemed genuinely happy that we were there!! I actually wanted to buy fabric there, they were so helpful and pleasant- and it's important to have that personal customer service, especially in this day and age of internet shopping. I don't go back to shops I don't get a good "vibe" from. I'll be going back to this shop!

So if you're going to be in the Rockford IL area, I highly recommend you check out this shop!! It's not far off the interstate (I-39/I-90 north, the Riverside Blvd. exit), so it's a great place to stop even if you're on your way to somewhere else :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shopping Finds!

I'm visiting my mom for a couple days this week... one of the things we decided to do was drive to Stoughton, WI, park the car and walk the lovely downtown area. There are a lot of really cute shops (including a quilt shop!), and it was a beautiful day for walking.

I found a couple of really cute things that fit right in with my love of sunflowers :)

Great Shopping Find!
I just love this little print!! It's perfect for my quilting studio :)

Shopping Find!
And aren't these just darling? I don't know if I'll ever actually use them as coasters- I may hang them on the wall.

The best part is that both of these items are made in the USA. That's important to me!

I also found some really great black and white prints to use in my New York Beauty blocks :)

Now I'm off to work on some Hoop Up swap stitching!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Drive

This afternoon was so bright and sunny that Hubby and I decided to hop in the car and drive! We chose to drive southwest, just to see what there was to see. And let me tell you, I was in seventh heaven when we saw this!!

Wind Farm
A wind farm!!! Of those big, huge, lovely windmills!

I cannot even begin to describe how much I love these windmills. I think they are so beautiful and powerful and they give the impression of being graceful, too. I really think they are among the most beautiful things on earth.

Wind Farm
Hubby knows of my love for these, so we followed the windfarm for miles and miles so I could just look and look!

Powerful Beauty
He even took us off the beaten (or paved...!) path so I could get up close! They make such a lovely swooshing sound as they go round and round :)

It was a lovely drive- I'm so glad we got out of the house and out into the world for a while :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

National Quilting Day

Well, today didn't start out the best. To start with, it was snowing... after the temps getting almost to 70 yesterday, this was a total slap in the face! I also woke up with a terrible sore throat and a fever. I don't know what it was. I ended up cancelling a few plans because of this. And then I felt fine by 3pm and felt silly that I'd changed my plans! Oh, well.

I decided to celebrate National Quilting Day by doing a LOT of sewing! I made 5 New York Beauty blocks today, along with 5 blocks for my Park Slope log cabin.

Today's Progress :)
The New York Beauty blocks I have done so far. I think I'm going to take that one with the dark purple "crust" and change it. The dark purple is just not doing it for me. It's too dark and blendy with the black.

Park Slope Log Cabin
This is the Park Slope log cabin as far as I had it back in September 2009. I just picked it back up again today. I can't for the life of me explain why I set it aside- I fell in love with it all over again today! I made 5 new blocks for it today too :)

I am having SO much fun with quilting again!

Friday, March 19, 2010

So I Went A Little Crazy...

I basically spent the whole day yesterday making New York Beauty blocks! I was having so much fun I just couldn't stop...

More Beauty!
This is the second block I made. It was a simpler version of the block, so I chose a Heather Bailey fabric that had a strong curve in it and fussy cut to add dimension to the block.

It's Complicated...
Hubby was watching me pin this last night and thought it was hysterically funny that I used SO many pins... there are 31 pins holding those pieces together! Normally I hate pinning, and I never pin when I'm piecing straight seams. But curves like that need those pins!

One Of Each
All four blocks I made yesterday, one each of the four variations I plan to use for the quilt!

Today's plan is to organize a couple other projects- the Park Slope curved log cabin and Heather Bailey wonky log cabin- and along with the New York Beauty blocks do one block per day (of each project!) until they're done!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back To My Basics

I have always been drawn to the more complicated side of quilting. I think it's fun to make blocks that have a zillion pieces, have curves, and involve paper piecing. It was a New York Beauty quilt that first sparked my interest in quilting, actually!

I also like all the simple modern stuff that's all over Flickr and Blogland nowadays. It's been fun doing some simple stuff that is quick to make and has good visual impact. There are so many amazing quilts out there, made by so many seriously talented people!

But, lately, I've been getting bored. I don't particularly like doing free-pieced, really wonky stuff, no matter how hard I've tried to get into it. Don't mistake me- I love, love, LOVE looking at  all those lovely quilts- I just don't like doing it myself. My symmetrical little heart just can't get into the spirit of it :)

So I decided to go back to my "basics", what drew me into quilting in the first place!

Bright Beauty
I sat down with my scrap box and my black stash and made this today!! I just love it! I had a little "issue" with the first curved piece, but it'll be in the seam. And it showed me I needed to be a little more careful and pin a little bit better :)

I have plans to make many more blocks using templates for 4 different styles of New York Beauty blocks. I found them at this lovely site! The color scheme for this was inspired by this lovely mini quilt I saw on Flickr.

I am glad I have found my spot again. I was getting to the point where I was wondering if I even enjoyed quilting anymore. Sometimes we all just need to get back to basics- our own personal basics- to find the joy of our art again!

PS: I would like to say thank you to QuiltHome.com for choosing me as their link-of-the-week this week! I was so surprised and happy to open my e-mail and see that yesterday morning! I would also like to say hello and thank you to everyone who is visiting from QuiltHome.com :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

DQS8 And The Pillow Talk Swap

I am officially done sending and recieving for both these swaps!! They were really great swaps- I am glad I was a part of them, even though emergency surgeries and serious illness made actually making things stressful for me ;)

In the DQS8 swap, I was to make a mini for Jeanette. She said that she really likes cherries. And I happened to have a bunch of Sandi Henderson's cherries from the "Farmer's Market" line :)

DQS8 Quilt Top

This is what I sent to her. I forgot to take a picure if it finished, though :( Fortunately she was a lot better than I was and took this great photo of it :)

And I recieved this AMAZING mini from Karen. I absolutely adore it and I am always looking at it! I hung it above my sewing machine table so I can see it all the time :)

DQS8 Rec'd: AMAZING Owl Mini From Karen!!

And in the Pillow Talk swap....

I was to make a pillow for Julie. She gave very good details regarding the colors of her home decor, and I was able to make this for her:
Pillow Talk Swap DONE!!

And then I recieved my Pillow Talk Swap pillow cover from Charlotte!
Pillow Talk Swap: Rec'd!
I simply ADORE it!! It's so springy, and let me tell you, almost all of that applique is done by hand... she must have a LOT more patience than I have or will ever have!! It's beautifully done. I am going out to Joann's tomorrow to get a pillow form for it!

My "swap mama" for both of these swaps was the lovely Natasha! She is a great mama :) All in all, these were two very good swaps!

And now I will be taking a bit of a swapping break- because it's GARDENING TIME!!! I am getting the tomatoes, peppers and broccoli started indoors this week, and will start preparing the garden beds next week! I am so excited about this I can hardly even type :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Doll Quilt Swap Recieved!!!

And I could NOT be happier!

DQS8 Rec'd: AMAZING Owl Mini From Karen!!
Isn't this just absolutely amazing?!?!? It's from Karen at Badlands Quilts. She did the MOST amazing job with this- every part of it is perfect, and perfect for ME! I was crying and dancing at the same time when I opened this... the postmistress must have thought I was completely insane, because I opened it standing in the post office :)

DQS8 Rec'd: Owl At Home
Isn't he cute? I must find out what that amazing brown fabric she used for the binding is... I just love it!

DQS8 Rec'd: Back
Even the back is lovely, with that cute owl for a label!

DQS8 Rec'd: Lovely Extras!
Karen sent some lovey fabric too, including a piece of gold! Er, I mean, a piece of "Lush" paint-by-number fabric. That fabric is impossible to find and I'm so happy that I now have a little piece of it in my stash!

Thank you, Karen, thank you, thank you, thank you! I actually prayed that this one would come to me when I first saw it in the Doll Quilt Swap pool on Flickr! And now it's mine!

Now I need to find the perfect place to hang it...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Since I really wasn't able to do much of anything this past weekend (I was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday and am supposed to rest- a LOT) I decided to make a list of spring cleaning stuff to do around the house. I went into each room. And with each room I grew more and more unhappy with my small, out-of-date house. I was really working myself into a state about it!

So I decided to take some time and think about what is good about my house. And to my suprise, I came up with a much longer list of good than I had of bad!

My house is out in the country. Yes, it's pretty far from everything, but when I look at my huge garden area, or settle down in front of my bay window to knit and watch the sheep in their pasture across the road, I am so happy that I'm not squished onto a city block somewhere, with long lists of things I can and cannot do with my own property.

My house was built in the early 1970's, and it shows. Especially in the kitchen. It's small, has outdated cabinets and what we laughingly refer to as the "kitchen jail"- a row of turned wooden pillars that help distinguish it from the family room.

But you know what? I have all the room I need, really. And everything is just a couple steps away- I don't have to walk far to get to anything I need. I've never had trouble making good meals and tasty treats in my kitchen :) And the "kitchen jail" is really just cosmetic- if we could find time we could change it quite easily!

And lastly, my house is filled with love. We have so much fun here, and with both of us working hard to be considerate and caring towards the other, lovely things happen.

I know so many people who live in big beautiful homes that are filled with stress and strife. I am so happy here in my small outdated home that's filled with love and compassion and caring!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stash Building

As every quilter knows, you can have too much fabric. But you can also never have enough fabric... especially when designers keep coming out with such awesome stuff! Here's some of what I've added to my stash in the last couple weeks!

Eye Candy :)
"Make Life..." by Sweetwater for Moda. Isn't it gorgeous? I don't know when (or if...) I will pull that ribbon, but it's so pretty sitting up on the shelf :)

"Modern Meadow" by Joel Dewberry, the "Berry" colorway. I really think this may be my favorite fabric collection of all time... I will definitely be ordering more of this- lots more!! It looks AMAZING with Kona's charcoal solid. I'm thinking something really simple to show off the prints would be good for this one!

"Modern Meadow" by Joel Dewberry, the "Pond" colorway. This reminds me of the Finger Lakes region of New York, and I may have to make a quilt that reflects the beauty and wonder of that area- if I can find a pattern that would even come close to doing that :)

I've also added some amazing solids, like Kona charcoal and Moda Bella Solid white and chocolate.

I'm almost done catching up with swaps, then I plan to take a small swapping hiatus (except for my ongoing bees) and work on some of my own projects for a while :) I have dozens of ideas and quilts planned out already... and I need to start actually using some of the fabics I've been buying!