Thursday, March 29, 2007

Look what came in the mail yesterday—April’s Block for the Primitive Garden. I just love it. The colors just jump out at you.
Except for pumpkins, I don’t think I have a single quilt with orange in it so I’m looking forward to getting this put together. Extra fabric is included each month for a scrappy border that will join all the blocks. I try to complete the current block before posting the next, but I just liked the rusty shovel ----- it wouldn’t wait. You’ve got to remember, this is kind of a mystery quilt for me as no one has seen the finished quilt and Lisa Bongean is detailing as she goes along.

I went on and outlined this block as long as I was setting up the placement for the March block as well. It’s so portable I can work on it in any room of the house or even on the porch with weather permitting because I'm hand appliquéing it.

No quilting tonight. I’m running by the grocery store after work and getting the house presentable for dinner guests tomorrow night. I love having company so this should be fun. Chelsey’s got plans so she won’t be there and Don’s grilling.

Ransom and I walked the perimeter of our property last night. If the weather holds out we may be raking – not this weekend, but next. Eric will be home and we can make him feel like part of the family --- hand him a rake. Raking is a funny thing. We do it like mad in the fall to gather leaves before the snowfall. Then we’re at it again in the spring to fluff up the grass covered with snow all winter.

Candles - Harvest is my favorite (next to Apple Pie)
My Carhartt Painter's Bibs

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It’s Wednesday. We’re having friends over on Friday night for supper. I’ve got a game plan outlined so that life doesn’t fall apart on Thursday night. It’ll be fun and if I did it on Saturday night I’d fuss all day Saturday and weekends are too precious to do that.

I’m ready to start next block on the Primitive Garden by Lisa Bonegean.
It’s crows on a barbwire fence. I think she must have known the placement “stress” I was having with the blocks. She place a hint section in this month’s block that suggested using a light box to outline the pattern on the background fabric to help with placement. It’s a great idea--- Why didn’t I think of that???? I don’t have a light box, but I did have a lamp and a glass French door. I just taped it up on the glass door and traced. I got the same end result.

Here is February’s block, a graniteware pot of geraniums. It wasn’t easy… lots of curves, but I smile every time I look at it.
Every summer I line the porch steps with geraniums. While the colors have changed—various shades of red, white, pink; the flower is always the same--- geraniums. The pot—my grandmother always cooked in either iron skillets or black graniteware. I like the way quilt blocks can make you hold onto memories….So many things I don’t want to forget….

Cheese Crackers
Pink sunrise this morning
Maple Syrup from friends

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don’t dwell on this being an ‘ugly’ picture, because if you’re living in the U.P. of Michigan this photograph of the garden is as beautiful as if it held a bounty of vegetables. A picture that looks like this means the snow has almost all melted and we just about have another winter behind us. It was 72 degrees yesterday, and back down in the low 50’s today. But in March you take what you can get…. Last night we swung on the porch and had the Screen Doors pulled until sunset. It’s a pretty safe bet that the snow isn’t over, but one can hope….

I’m still plugging away on my Primitive garden block of the month and I’ve pulled fabrics to start a quilt this weekend. I’ll have to take some photos. I did want to share a piece that I made about 15 years ago. She’s a bunny I pull out at Easter time. I love her grey eyes. The dress has gathers that resemble smocking (something I plan on learning to do one of these years) and Clooney lace around the neck. She’s made of muslin that was tea dyed. I don’t remember the pattern name… but it’s definitely the eyes that make her a keeper. I’m off to take advantage of the sunshine…

Lunch with Don
Coke bottle money
The barking at the door

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here’s my birthday gift from Eric. It’s an Ellison Die.
When I had my kids I made the choice to give up my job and be a “stay-at home” Mom. I had a couple of part time jobs and volunteered a lot at school. One of the perks was I got to use the school’s Ellison Machine which is like a fancy cookie cutter press for paper. I used it to work with my Sunday school class for cards, crafts and bulletin boards. I got an opportunity to go back to work fulltime, which had always been the game plan for our family. It’s not that we needed the money so much then; it’s just that I needed to get my skills back up to par so that when the kids went off to college--- when we would really need the money--- I could contribute. It was tough going back to work ---at getting the routine down and plus the emotional rollercoaster Moms go through. So Don bought me an Ellison Machine to ease the tears. Working fulltime, the school was closed by the time I had a chance to use theirs. And for a year, instead of flowers for Mother’s day, I got the tulip Ellison Die, for Valentine’s Day I got the heart. He still treats me every now and then. Well, Eric got me Daisies for my birthday. I used it to make, bible verse tags for my SS kids, cards for their weekly letter, and a fabric postcard for my Mom this week. They cut fabric or paper.

Lots of first this weekend. The first time in 2007 that Ransom and I made our hike without boots…. I might as well as had ballet slippers as good as those tennis shoes felt compared to heavy boots. Another first--- no jackets… It got in the low 60’s, and while I realize it’s early for the temperatures to be permanent….it sure is fun to pretend that winter is over….

Eric spoke at Purdue this weekend, had fun. He spoke with his Pharmacy Frat or student government or something. Wish I could have heard him. I’ve always told him if the Pharmacy thing fell through, he could always be a Baptist preacher….He looks great behind a pulpit…. He just laughs….

1. Belated birthday cards from my SS kids
2. Sleeping late 2 days in a row.
3. Phone calls with my Mom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The week is just getting away. We went to Green Bay/Appleton last weekend. We purchased the new faucet for the bathroom makeover. I got a birthday outfit and this quilt fabric. I have no clue what I’m going to make.
I just knew it looked like spring and was destined to come home with me.

I love the time change and we’re getting just about 12 hours of daylight a day. Chelsey had a field trip yesterday so she left for school at a quarter to six. I finished getting ready and was about to put Ransom out. It was dark and 12 degrees—he looked at me like I was crazy, so I just left him inside. Hey, I wouldn’t want to go out then either. By the time I got home I was beat and while it’s warmer (30’s), the wind is up. I did some laundry, cooked supper, started the pellet stove; I clearly wasn’t taking Ransom for a run. I got the kitchen cleaned up and went downstairs. I stitched up beanbags for my kids to make in Sunday school this week.
I press my luck with my Sunday school helpers about once a year and they get to finish hand-stitching them while I tell the bible story. Chelsey’s real good about coming and helping too. Ransom sat at my feet the entire time. I looked at the clock—6:30 pm. “Come on Ransom…it’s still daylight, let’s go for a run…” It had already dropped below freezing. The ground was hard… But I can still tell spring is just around the corner…and the fresh air does everything good…

1. The wind drying up the snow.
2. New socks
3. Don’s Pep talk with Chelsey

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today’s the 15th of March and my birthday---Chelsey came by the Hangar before school and brought me these gifts. I think she’s got her Mom pretty well figured out. A plate, checked towels, and an angel….

For the years behind me and the years ahead of me I’m pretty content. Looking back there’s no way of predicting the future. I think if I could tell anyone something—this would be the message--- 'Live your life to the fullest because while you can plan for the future you certainly cannot predict it.'

I’ll never forget my ten-year class reunion. I had planned to go, but living so far away, with two infants; money was tight. Don gave me the choice between the reunion or grass for the yard… I chose the latter. I send in my twenty bucks for the photo and class directory. The directory was a compilation of questionnaires we all filled out. It asked marital status, address, job etc. At the time I was a stay at home Mom raising two kids, 1 and 3 years old. I felt like I had the greatest job in the world and in the job “blank” I put housewife. Never gave it a second thought. When I got my directory… I was the only one in the class that wrote that. Anyone “not employed” listed his or her degrees or volunteer work. Can you believe it?!? My Mom was real great about it. She said, “Melanie you were from a class of real overachievers. Time will take care of everything. At your 30 or 40-year reunion people don’t care about titles or paychecks—they’re just glad they made it to the 40th year reunion. Don’t give it another thought.” She knew just what to say…

1. Family that loves me
2. Health
3. Dark Chocolate M & M's

Monday, March 12, 2007

The temperatures and our spirits are both up in the U.P., after work, I ran Ransom 2 miles and hit the tread mill for another. Don’s been in meetings all day, and has another dinner meeting tonight. Sooo, it’s Taco night at our house just Chels and I. We make them together and she practically bathes in them as she eats. I always remind her--- this is NOT a date food for her… the guy would run for his life!!!!

Here’s my quilt picture for today.
Chelsey is going to Mexico with her Spanish language class this summer. A few weeks ago she says, “Mom, you know I’m going to be hurt if I don’t get a Spanish Quilt to bring my tour family like you made Eric for his French family…” I had already kind of thought about it, but thought maybe she wouldn’t bring it up. But fair is fair, so I had extra blocks left over from the French quilt and look what I pulled together on Sunday. I went to my stash and literally pulled out the “lonely” fat quarters (you know, the not so pretty ones that usually get thrown in as an extra in a fat quarter pack). We won’t call them ugly because I don’t think any one would create ugly fabric on purpose. I even pulled colors that weren’t in the main part of the quilt—totally fun. I sewed it all together and when Chelsey got home from work, I showed her. Her first comment was-‘Wow, I love the borders!”. So the next step is to baste and machine quilt it.

OK—on a growth moment—look back to my June 7th post and the French quilt.
While every quilt is special…I think I’ve learned so much from others over the past year, kind of interesting…
1. Warmer Temps
2. Baby Pink sweaters
3. More Daylight hours

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It’s Sunday evening and the weekend is winding down. I have a week’s worth of quilt pictures to share so it’s pretty well safe to say I’ve had enough “Quilting Therapy” to get me through the week.

Here is My Primitive Garden January block of the month completed. I’m half way through with February too. I didn’t sign up until 6 weeks into the year—I’m a contemplator--- so I’m a little behind. I’m hoping to be caught up by the end of the month. I stressed over it for a while. I’ve been working on my “attention to detail” component in my quilting. So I carefully spaced out the flower nosegays. I did them in the order of 1-3-5. I thought it would help make them centered and balanced. Well, when it came time for the 2nd and 4th bunches only 2 flowers instead of 3 would fit. At first, I felt like I flunked a test or something. As long is you don’t compare it to the pattern I think it looks fine. Still I was disappointed. Then I talked with a good friend.
She said, “Think about flowers that are out in the world. They are all different - not evenly numbered and spaced. Just make them come out however they want to work - that's how they really are. Not what a quilt designer decided or a fabric shop owner used up to finish some fabric on a bolt. Remember -- quilting is supposed to be fun and relaxing and we should take a little license from time to time.”

It was my quilt and I shouldn’t care if it matches a pattern or not. And it’s kind of like a testament to life, no one else’s life is a carbon copy to your own, and there comes a point when it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Thanks, I needed that. And fifty years from now, someone may find it in a thrift shop and comment that it’s not a carbon copy of a BOM quilt --- just similar to those BOM quilts made back in the 2000’s with variations.

Eric is past the Mackinac Bridge on his way back to school. We enjoyed his visit. I know one thing… I’ve got to come up with a better meal plan or I’m going the size of a barn. I guess I tried over compensating from him not getting home cooking and cooked huge meals every day—except for pizza night.

Here are a couple of pictures of my two buddies outside—Ransom and Heidi, the neighbor’s Springer…

Back to the sewing room…..Until tomorrow….

Friday, March 09, 2007

It’s Friday and we’re looking toward a weekend with 40-degree temperatures. Eric said he’s picking up the house today--- what a guy… So hopefully I’ll have quilt pictures for next week. I want to grab another snowshoe run before the snow melts. Ransom and I should definitely get some runs up the road and back.

It’s probably just from working hard throughout the day, so I come home tired, but I think I’m spending too much time in front of the TV. I need to work on that.

Work is work. I had a few phone calls from people where I used to work this week. It’s always easy to remember the good times when you’re not there everyday.

I wanted a picture so here goes.
Whenever we travel Don has always been a team player and made pit stops at quilt stores. I know Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Maine all have quilt shops because I’ve been there. I’ve made purchases at each, and I’ve got memories that last. Some of my favorite purchases are pewter pins.

My favorite is the Quilter’s Angel. I got it at a quilt shop in Minnesota, the very first I ever went to. The shop has since closed as the owner was in poor health and retired and no one purchased it. I purchased Thimbleberries fabric before I ever new What Thimbleberries fabric was…

1. Friday
2. Rubber Stamps
3. The Radio

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Work’s been tough this week. I haven’t been working late, but I do come home beat. We’re enjoying having Eric home. I realize that life is different when he’s home versus when he’s not.

I went down this morning before work and had my coffee in my sewing room. I really didn’t have time to sew a stitch, but it was great therapy. Anybody else would think I was crazy, but quilters do understand. Just looking at thread, playing with the needles, or folding the fabric can be a great attitude adjustment.

Here are fabric pieces from a friend. I’m going to add them to something and I’ll always remember where they come from.

You’ve got to remember there’s no quilt shop in our town so I always pick up the Quilt Sampler when it comes out.
I tell Don about the towns these quilt shops are in. We plan how we’re going to have an old Victorian house with a winding drive way lined with Maple trees. He’ll repair something like ---lawnmowers and I’ll work 2 days a week at a variety store. We’ll have all the money in the world to pay the bills and live happily ever after--- in the same town as the quilt store. Then we just laugh. It’s fun to pretend.

It’s Pizza Night at our house……no cooking.

1. My Sister-in-Law
2. Vanilla Crème in my Coffee
3. Finding My checkbook—it was in my purse the entire time…..

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The sun was rising as I made my way into work this morning. However it was 13 below Zero. Having Kenny Chesney’s Be As You Are CD in the player made it seem not quite as cold. And it will warm up through out the day… throughout the month…..

I cut out my primitive garden block pieces after supper and then hit the elliptical machine for 3 miles. It was too cold with the wind whipping for the snow shoes. Maybe tomorrow.

A CD in the player, quilt blocks, miles behind a workout---they’re all pieces of a good mood.

Here’s March’s kitchen table.
Last year Chelsey and I went shopping for on birthday and found these napkin rings. She laughed when I found plaid napkins that would work. I made the runner for the table.

I laughed. I wanted Eric for something so I went downstairs looking for him last night. There he was wrapped up in a flannel quilt on a beanbag chair playing video games. He tugged at the quilt and said, “Man, I love this thing…” Yeah, he’s my kid…..

1. My watch for keeping track of the time until I get home.
2. My kids

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The weekend is over, well almost. We call it ‘Graveyard Blues’---the feeling you get when you’re about to go back to work and you’re just not ready to. It comes from years of Don working shift work and working the ‘Graveyard Shift’ 10:00 pm to 6:00am. I’m really glad he works straight day shift now.

Eric’s home for Spring break, an entire week. The weather cooperated and he had a safe trip. I played with one of my Christmas gifts for the first time this weekend--- My snow shoes.
I really wanted them, but until this week we hadn’t had enough snow to even use them. So Sunday, I decided … this is it Ransom and I are going Snow Shoeing. It was then that I realized… how much fun can this be alone? Don hates the cold, and made no bones about it… I was on my own for this. But he helped fit them for me. I brought my cell phone because reality was catching up to me… and I finally told him out loud… ”What if I get lost?” He kind of grinned and said…”Just take your tracks in reverse...” I wasn’t giving up and so Ransom and I took off behind the house. I had so much fun. I wished I had brought my camera. It’s totally amazing to see the drifts of snow with no foot prints. I can’t wait until tomorrow…. And Don even called me about 10 minutes out.

I changed all the bulletin boards in my Sunday school class. We had 10 kids this week. It was the story of Baby Moses. Four year olds love that story.

On the quilting front I completed one block of my Primitive Garden and now I’m onto the next block—A Pot of Geraniums.
I went down to my sewing room, but opted to come back up and sew by the sunny window instead.

I had a three day weekend complete with a nap every day—yes—I’m bragging. I hope this week is even half as great as the weekend was.

1. Sunny days with snowy backgrounds.
2. Chicken Alfredo—definitely.
3. three day weekends

Friday, March 02, 2007

It’s Friday morning—and I’m home. I’ve taken the day off. I’m going to knock out the grocery run and housework, so that everyone gets a full weekend. Don’t feel that it’s a bad way to spend a day off. I always say, “I’d make a great housewife; I just want the paycheck too.” Trust me--House wives earn their keep ---several thousand $$ over. I love taking care of the house and being at home—and I never turn the TV on.

I have friends at work that ask—what are you doing this weekend? My pretty standard answer is take care of the house and be at home. Again – that’s what I like doing. With the exception of maybe dinner out and a shopping trip now and then, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. I’m not the “party animal” type. Family, quilting, gardening, biking, maybe reading a book. That’s me.

A few weeks ago we had trouble. My sewing machine went on the “fritz”. I didn’t panic. I did the usual—change the thread, give it a break, clean it. It still was acting up. It’s time to call in the hired guns—Don.
With all the patience in the world, he moved the machine to the kitchen counter and took it apart and got her back together with out a hitch. And no Valium was required on my part. I completely trust him with it. He knows how important it is to me.

We talked while he worked. We both agreed that we have things “we can’t live without”. The sewing machine is mine, and his treadmill is his. Yeah, he’s a guy that cable TV is not his top priority--- it’s close--- but the treadmill wins.

The sewing machine has been working like a charm ever since. Word of advice: Don’t use a can of air on your sewing machine unless you really know what you are doing….

He laughed and said his only complaint is that I drank a whole pot of coffee while he worked on it--- I smiled… and made him another pot.

1. The furnace purring.
2. 3 day weekend for me.
3. Socks