Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It was so nice the other day that Maggy and I walked the entire neighborhood, instead of just to the end of our street and back. The reason we do not usually walk farther is that people keep their dogs in their front yards on invisible fences, and they all charge at us and bark like crazy. Because of the recent bitter cold, most of the dogs were inside, so we had a great morning walk.

First stop is the duck pond at the end of the street. It is fed by a spring, and so far has not suffered much from our area's drought. For the past week, the mallard duck family has been feeding in the area closest to the street, where the spring waters enter.

This pond was supposed to be surrounded by a greenway, but the developer of this section of neighborhood passed away. No greenway, in fact the owners have built a fence and it is almost unviewable. The lady of the house by the pond is crazy about the ducks, and even built them a duck house and dock. In the summer I have seen her out in hip boots, cleaning out the duck house. She keeps a wading pool on the dock for them. Check out the electric light.

Next stop is the former end of my street. This was once a huge field filled with deer and other wildlife. I have seen a gray fox, hundreds of goldfinches, you name it. Now there will be a new neighborhood, and the road will become a thoroughfare to a busy road. Look closely at the houses at the far back of the field on the right. You know they are not happy about this new development.

If you keep walking up the street with the barking dogs, you will see that the road ends in a line of boulders. This is to prevent the common folks of my neighborhood from actually driving through to the adjacent golf course neighborhood.

Turning left, you can see that Mother Nature has decided to decorate the corner sign post with a smilax vine. And some careless driver apparently knocked the sign down and ran over it at some point!

As soon as you turn left on Springflow, you can see the largest lake in the neighborhood. This one is on the developer's property. Check out the boat dock, which is currently not even near the water. That is a common sight here in North Carolina with our extended drought.

I have seen all manner of wildlife on this lake, including herds of deer, muskrats, turtles, and blue herons. It is dominated by the Canadian geese, which have become a nuisance bird in this area. They like it here so well that they have completely forsaken the yearly flight back to Canada. They fly over my house twice a day in the famous Vee formation with up to fifty birds, honking and pooping like flying dogs. Don't let this stately pair fool you---there are dozens of geese on this pond.

Across from this lake are the four large houses visible from the picture of the new neighborhood. Two of them are for sale. Wonder why? It's a shame, because the homes are beautiful and face this nice lake view. But their back yard will face houses on quarter-acre lots. Doesn't every neighborhood have a house that is too large to fit it? Here is our winner for ostentatious house. It is for sale!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Postcard

Snow Ballet

While in my sewing room yesterday to make and apply binding to Hunting Season II (boring job), I found a half-finished postcard that was needing some TLC. My friend Pauline (see yesterday's blog re: potted plant rescue) sometimes sends me the fabric left over when she has her dresses shortened. This one was royal and turquoise blue sheer fabric with sequins!
Don't ask what I did to it, because I can't remember. I know it involved adding some sheer navy ribbon with silver snowflakes, a blue and silver fiber, and snowflake beads and buttons. Some time before yesterday I used the heat gun to melt something away. The three hearts are just some fused Angelina that I cut out freehand and stitched down. I like the feathery yarn trim on the outside! And a few clear Swarovski crystals.
I may send this as a non-traditional Valentine!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hunting Season II

I finished the quilting on my newest quilt yesterday. All over leaves and woodsy-looking things. I think it looks great! Too nice for a twenty-one year old single guy??? I think he will take good care of it. I made one for my nephew, another hard-partying deer hunter, and he has had it reverently folded on a quilt stand at the end of his bed for years. Does not even sleep under it. That is never my intention! I always want my bed quilts to be used. I made one for one of my husband's friends at deer camp a few years ago when he was suffering from terminal cancer. I envisioned him snuggling under the quilt with his beloved cocker spaniel. Nope, his wife hung it on the wall. This was Buddy's quilt, also a Yellow Brick Road. But once you give your quilts away, it is up to the owner to decide on its new life. Anyway, Buddy's quilt was named Hunting Season, also a Yellow Brick Road. So this one for James is now Hunting Season II. I will try to get the binding attached today so I can do the handwork in the mountains this weekend.

Our weather here in the Raleigh, NC area has been very schizophrenic- bitter cold for a few days, snow showers, then balmy warmth and sunshine. Yesterday when I walked the dog, it was only 24 degrees. Today it is supposed to get up in the sixties. Could not help purchasing this cute little pot of daffodils yesterday when I went out for groceries.

And here is another little touch of color, courtesy of my husband's colleague Pauline. They work in a very nice office building with a huge atrium. Every month, professional decorators change out the floral arrangements in the lobby, and just toss out the old plants. Since their office is on the first floor, Pauline and some of the other women salvage some of the potted plants. She saved these two kalanchoes for me. I need to get them in some better pots.

In this photo, they are sitting on the lazy Susan section of an old oak table from my husband's family. The three children in the black and white photo are my brother Chris, brother Tim, and me back when there were only three children in the family. Another sister and three more brothers later joined the family.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Yellow Brick Road

I got my Yellow Brick Road quilt loaded on the machine today, and about halfway finished quilting it in the style of Forest Floor, one of Suzanne Earley's Meandering Magic designs. Everything is going well! The biggest problem is that the thread blends so well, I can't always tell where I have quilted. I'm using Signature cotton in "Mother Goose," a light brown color. I hated to stop quilting, it was so much fun!

The Lilly Look

The Lilly Look
All finished!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lilly Pulitzer fabric quilt, and change in lifestyle coming soon!

More progress on the Lilly Pulitzer fabric quilt- still unnamed. I got brave and cut the border into funky curves, then made a bias stripe binding. I have the binding hemmed on two sides and it is going pretty well. I think the diagonal look of the bias stripe adds to the style of this piece. Any naming ideas?
My current burst of trying to finish some projects stems partially from the fact that I applied for a teaching job at an elementary school only three miles from my home. I had not heard from them after a week, so decided that it probably was not to be. Then, I got a call from the principal yesterday at 4:00, offering me the position! It is teaching remedial reading and math to third grade students. Not special ed, but students at risk of failing the end-of-grade exams. Of course, I have mixed feelings about giving up my freedom of time, but I think I can handle anything for four months! I don't know when the start date will be, as Central Office can take two weeks to go through their bureaucracy. Two weeks ago I went over there to sign a release for my criminal background check. This after having worked for the school system as my only employer for twenty-four years. Oh, well!
DSH and I went to the movies last night, a rare event for us. We saw Will Smith in the sci-fi horror, I Am Legend. Grim! He was good, but I can't say I enjoyed it. Makes me want to go see a piece of fluff like 27 Dresses.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I am getting a lot accomplished, quilting-wise, this week! Yesterday, I finished quilting the Lilly Pulitzer fabric quilt. This one is going to my daughter-in-law's sister Ellen, and her husband Arno. We attended their beautiful beach wedding in Nags Head, NC, in which all the bridesmaids wore their choice of Lilly Pulitzer sundress. I personally had never heard of Lilly Pulitzer, but she is the designer of many Florida-style dresses and garments using tropical colors and themes. All of her fabrics have the name Lilly hidden somewhere in the print- sort of a "Where's Waldo" gimmick. Anyway, Ellen and Arno both worked on a cruise ship and currently live in Miami. Did I mention that Ellen and Emily's mother is an interior designer? Needless to say, they both have a sense of style that won't quit. So, here is the quilt, which has yet to be bound. I am thinking of a funky curvy shape instead of just square.
Anyway, I started out with a curly free-form feather in the border, and a pantograph design in the center by Linda Taylor, called Double Rose. I thought that with the busy fabrics, an overall would be fine, and this pattern has funky flowers. This is how they look: Just a little side note here: I have not used a pantograph pattern in over a year. And I probably will not use one again. I tried twice to complete a row across the quilt, only to discover at the end that my thread had broken back at the beginning. I was having some other problems, too, and said "Heck with this!" So, I gleefully went back to the front of the machine and finished up with free-motion flowers, leaves, and vines.
The borders have funky curly feathers I made up as I went along. It was fun using this sea-green thread against the black, white, and tropical prints.
By the way, Ellen's hunky handsome husband is set to premier on television today and tomorrow as host of a show on the Food Network (Kitchen Spaces.) I think he definitely will soon be famous! If you happen to catch a handsome brown-haired TV personality named Arno, with a South African accent, somewhere on the tube, that will be him! By the way, this wedding took place in May of 2006. I am not the speediest maker of wedding presents, but I hope they don't mind too much!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sewing and Reading

I have been cocooned in my sewing room for the past two days, finishing up two quilt tops and cutting out another. I have finished the deer fabric Yellow Brick Road, including borders and backing, and also added the borders to my Lilly Pulitzer fabric quilt and made the backing. One of these will go on the Gammill today. It might have to be the Lilly: its bright cheerful fabrics will be a solace for cold winter days!

The one I cut out is using up lots of the other deer/mountain related fabric. I am a little tired of Yellow Brick Road, so I pulled out another Atkinson pattern, Lucky Stars. This one also uses fat quarters cut into strips. This is the quilt on the pattern and the website. I am thinking of combining flannel and regular cotton in the top. Anything wrong with that?

Bonus: Much more space in the sewing room after cutting up all those fabrics and making backings!

While I have been sewing, I have been listening to the audiobook, On Agate Hill by Lee Smith. I love to read books by North Carolina authors, and Lee Smith is certainly a master story-teller. This book follows Molly Petree from her girlhood on a plantation during reconstruction days, to her adult life teaching school. Guess where? In Ashe County, North Carolina! Huge smiles as I listened about living in Jefferson, NC in the late 1800's. Of course this is where we go shopping when we are in the mountains at our cabin. I want to go to the sewing room and make some bindings before quilting on the Gammill, just so I can listen to the end of the story.

When we got back from the very same Ashe County on Monday, I had a Voice message from a woman in my Cary High School class with information about our 40th Re-Union. Yikes! That seems impossible! Our re-union will be very informal, a pig-picking followed by a DJ and dancing. This is to occur on the day we return from our annual beach vacation. Usually that is a day to unwind after frantic packing, traveling, and unpacking. I may be attending by myself if I can't talk DSH into going. I live about 45 minutes from Cary in non-rush hour traffic, and may join the group of planners at the monthly lunch meetings. How fun to re-connect with old school chums.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beautiful sights

While we were in the mountains last weekend, we visited friends from Raleigh who were staying in a borrowed cabin. Below is their awesome view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The cabin itself was so tucked away that we could not find it, so we met at an intersection and followed our host. Not only was the cabin and view a delightful hidden surprise, but the furniture and decor of the cabin was a lovely cache of art treasures from all over the world. This guest room has two twin beds with pillows and bedspreads made from molas from Panama. Aren't they scrumptious! I actually own three mola squares which I purchased at a Latin American festival in Chapel Hill one year. They are made by using reverse applique, cutting away layers of different colored fabrics.

One of my favorite things to do at our mountain place is to walk along the creek and take pictures. This is the dam that used to power a mine at the top of the mountain. The structure for the turbine is still in place. We used to camp next to the dam, just behind that big tree on the left. It was wonderful to hear the sound of the waterfall. Along the creek and all up the mountain are huge laurel thickets. Actually, rhododendron, but known as laurel up there in Laurel Springs. They should know! The laurel leaves are a weather indicator. Flat when it is warm, they curl up to the size of pencils when it is freezing! The first afternoon it was quite warm and sunny.
After that, it got down to the single digits every day. It was only 2 degrees F when we woke Monday morning.
Friday night a group of us rode to the top of the mountain on Gators and four-wheelers. What a memorable night! the moon was almost full, the sky was clear, and the snow crystals sparkled like diamonds in our headlights.

Christmas tree farms in the snow.
We had no trouble with power outage or frozen pipes up there in the frigid cold. However, when we got home, our water pipes had frozen at the connection at the street. Poor DSH dragged a generator up our long driveway to the curb and used it to place a light in the connection box until they thawed. It was not nearly as cold here. Made me glad for our snug little home in the hills.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Quilt Wagon Rolled On...

At the Capital Quilters' Guild on Thursday night, I picked up more of the quilts for the wounded soldiers at Camp Lejeune. A set of five beautiful quilts was donated by the Honeycomb Bee, quilted by Cathy Kirk. I really loved the "fireworks" quilting on one of the quilts.
We left Wake Forest, NC for the mountains on Friday morning, stopping in Durham to pick up two more soldier quilts from Jan Struble, and then meeting Theresa DeWalt and her husband in Kernersville to deliver 13 quilts. Then, on to the mountains!

That day last week when all we got was rain...well, the northern mountains got several inches of lovely white snow. Our new pond was frozen solid. Wasn't this a pretty sight?The men were hunting wild turkeys on Friday and Saturday. I set up a tiny sewing studio in our one-room cabin. Look at this tiny sewing machine...a Janome that looks like a child's toy. It does a fine straight stitch, though it is noisy and slow. Every time you get to a seam it goes, "Thwunk!" But I got about all the rows of the Yellow Brick Road pieced together, and sewed four of them together.
I have lots more pictures to post and adventures to relate. But here are two of the barns from the Ashe County Quilt Barn project, looking pretty in the snow!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yellow Brick Road on a Rainy Day

Yesterday, all the news was about the "wintry mix" of weather we were supposed to receive today, starting early in the morning. The schools all scheduled a "Two-Hour Delay" to allow for the roads to be cleared and the rush hour traffic to subside. Well, all we have gotten is a cold, dreary, rainy day. Not to complain since our lakes are still so dry from the months of drought.

I worked on Yellow Brick Road blocks in deer, leaf, and and other grassy and woodland fabrics fabrics for the young man I wrote about yesterday. We have fondly called him "Jimmy-James" since he was a baby. I also want to make a quilt for the one nephew who has never gotten a quilt from me. He is the oldest, and came along before I started making quilts. I have made three for his children, however! I also want to make one for my sister and her husband. And I have never finished the one for my daughter-in-law's sister, using Lilly Pulitzer fabric. All it needs is borders and to be quilted. Maybe if we have a few more rainy days!

Blogger is not performing well this afternoon, and won't allow me to upload any pictures right now. Tonight is quilt guild, and tomorrow morning we are leaving for our first trip to the mountains in several months. BRRR- I have packed my long-johns and my "Hot-Fingers Mittens." Maybe I will be able to bring one of my small sewing machines finish piecing the quilt top up there. (Pictures posted Jan. 21)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seeing Stars

Yesterday was the day to quilt the donation projects for Camp Lejeune soldiers. I actually missed the explanation of the project when they handed out the quilt tops back in September. Well, if you know Theresa DeWalt, aka "Quilt Room Granny," it would not matter what they were for. She is such an energetic, cheerful, loving person, that I would have taken the tops to do for whatever reason. So, I unwrapped my packages yesterday, and found one pieced in all different fabrics with MANY seams, and lots of red, white, and blue prints. The other turned out to be a whole cloth or "cheater cloth" print, circa 1987, with stars and hearts.

With all the busy fabrics and colors on the patchwork top, I chose to just meander and add free-style stars.

I thought the "cheater" top needed some emphasis on the block designs to make it look like it was pieced. One of the Line Dancing patterns by Diana Phillips fit the bill. That kind of quilting goes quickly: go down, turn right, go up, go down, and then at the end make a left turn and work your way back! Actually, I did not look it up to see if this was one of her designs, I just added a loop in the line dance curve.

Next problem: what to do about the young man's quilt I offered to "see about." DSH brought it back from the mountains after the November hunt camp. This was a high school graduation gift from his mom, who does not sew. She picked out some very appropriate deer fabric for this member of the hunt club, and a plain red for the back. She got her mother-in-law to close it all in with a zig-zagged hem over the turned-in sides. I had thought I could add some nice leafy quilting to it, but it has very high-loft batting and LOTS of pucker factor. So, I think I may leave this one for him to use in his camper, and make him a quick patchwork one that is easier to work with. HMM, I may have promised him to make one a long time ago. His dad is one of my sister's brothers-in-law. He also owns his own plumbing company and did all our plumbing for free in the mountain cabin. Need I say more?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Little Quilting and a Little Plumbing

Yesterday, I worked on a cute little baby quilt for my friend and customer, Karen. There are little cowboy boots in the black fabric, some brands, stars, and other cute fabrics. This one went quickly! Today I will try to finish both of the patriotic-themed quilts made for soldiers at Camp Lejeune, NC. I have had them since the Carolina Long-arm Quilt Show back in late September, and need to turn them in on Friday! Both are small and should be do-able in one day.

On a non-quilt-related topic, I am so happy with my new kitchen faucet! Our old one has leaked out the base at times since we built this house. Finally, DSH recently decided to fix it with a new O-ring, and it developed a non-stop drip. He is a wonderful fix-it man, working on everything from brakes to Gammills, but is Not a Plumber. I kept a pitcher underneath the tap, and used that water for my plants, dog water dish, etc. Fortunately for us, we have a connection in the high-end plumbing fixture market. My sons often joke that I can brag, "One of my boys sells toilets, and the other sells tampons!" (Manager of a chain drugstore.) Well, the toilet-selling one helped us select a nice new kitchen faucet kit. It has a little dish soap dispenser on the left, and a sprayer on the right. Our old sprayer had not worked in about ten years.

Anyway, Stacy the Plumber came over to once again rescue us from DSH's plumbing mishaps, and got the new fixtures installed.

Much better, yes?