Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scenes from the Grove Park Inn

We celebrated Thanksgiving again this year with Charlie's sister Lee and family in Asheville, NC. I drove to the mountains by myself on Thursday, about a four and a half hour drive, and enjoyed beautiful weather and scenery.

Our reservations at the Grove Park Inn were for 7:30 PM. We could see the lights of the city twinkling below us from the Blue Ridge Room. This room is like a long veranda with large stained glass chandeliers.

After dinner we walked around to see the decorations and Christmas trees on display. There are two opposite wings of the resort that each feature a theme tree in each window.

They also had the annual Gingerbread House contest entries on display. Always amazing!

The next day Lee and I went off to our artsy shopping trip to Sanctuary of Stuff in Woodfin and then to Biltmore Village. We ate at a great Mexican restaurant called LaPaz. Charlie's brother Richard came to Asheville and they rode around together.

That night we went to the French Broad River Brewing Company, a microbrewery that features entertainment some nights. The musician was none other than Dave Desmelik, who was Lee's teaching assistant last year. We enjoyed his performance, which reminds me of one Avett Brother or maybe a folk singer like John Prine.

We came home Saturday since Charlie had been away from home so long at deer camp. Today we both went out to Cary to see our son Dave's new home. They have gotten a lot done since I saw it last week. I volunteered Charlie's assistance in switching out the chandelier in the dining room. This ended up a family project, with all of us helping to hold up the fixture while DH did the wiring.
I gave them a framed print that I found at SOS that has the blues, greens, and taupes of some of their rooms.

I hope you and your loved ones also had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Clone

What I did not mention yesterday in my turkey quilt that I actually made twin turkeys! The first one was delivered today (two hours after completion of label and sleeve) to Dave and Emily when I previewed their new home. They are having a few repairs and some painting done, and will move in on Friday. I loved their home and its nice woodsy view.

To make these guys, I loaded both turkeys on the Gammill at the same time and quilted them almost identically.

The clone will be a hospitality gift to Charlie's sister and her family, who will be hosting us for Thanksgiving weekend in Asheville, NC. We will be having dinner at the Grove Park Inn, a wonderful mountain resort. The next day, Lee usually takes me to some wonderful shopping opportunities and art galleries in Asheville, and then we meet the guys downtown at a microbrewery for a sandwich and a refreshing beverage.

And I may have to stop in at Waechter's Silk Shop on Saturday, which is in the neighborhood. Great eye candy!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Almost Turkey Time

And here is the only kind of turkey I have prepared for this holiday! This was a quick project, fun to make.

I used this pattern, which was easy to follow.

And would have been a breeze to make, except for a little error on my part. I had it on the Gammill and was at the part I enjoy, basting down the bottom edge of the quilt to finish. And I felt something hard underneath. Huh?

I ran out of backing fabric! I was hitting the pins that attached the backing to the leader.

Now, I always check to make sure my backings are bigger than the quilt top. But I guess I started down too far when I was basting the quilt top.

Yup, I did not know how to baste this turkey. (Groan)

I was able to take it off the machine, cut a strip off the top of the backing, sew it to the bottom, and finish the whole thing in time to watch the grand finale of Dancing With the Stars while I sewed on the binding.

Today I will be picking up my new eyeglasses, and then going out to Cary to see the new home my son Dave and his wife Emily have just bought. I am so happy for them! Their first home. After their apartment burned down last year, I am more than glad that they are out of the apartment complex and into a home. Thankful indeed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Little WildLife

Sorry about not posting for several days. My spouse left last week for his week of deer hunting, and left me a little reminder of him...a stomach bug he had before he left. So, instead of the usual frenzy of sewing, I have not gotten much accomplished while he has been gone. Yesterday I abandoned all other on-going projects, and started making a fun turkey wall-hanging which I hope to finish later today and will post.
I did go for a walk this morning. We had a heavy rain during the night, but today is much warmer and the sun is shining. Beautiful! Here is the first house they have built in the new neighborhood that used to be a field/pasture at the end of my street. It looks great beneath those ancient oak trees.

And here is the neighbor's duck pond all shiny in the morning sun.

The ducks were all still in their funny little duck chalet after last night's rain. But isn't this a nice November scene? Maybe not pretty enough for a calendar, but nice.

Speaking of calendars, my husband buys a North Carolina WildLife Calendar every year as Christmas gifts for many of our friends and relatives, especially those who come to the mountains. Not only is there nice calendar art, but it lists the moon cycles, the hunting and fishing seasons, and other helpful wildlife information like this tidbit, which is featured on Thanksgiving Day.

We have had quite a spell of winter temperatures and some early snow, so I laughed when I looked at that note this morning before setting out for my walk. 'Twould be a foolish snake that had not yet gone below ground for the season.

So, what did I see on my walk this morning? You guessed it. I did not take a photo because it was dead, but a young and foolish garter snake had ventured out to the road, perhaps looking for dry ground, and got himself run over.

Anyway, speaking of the North Carolina Wildlife Calendar, I have always admired the quality of the art, but had been getting a little tired of always seeing a hunter in the field with his shotgun raised to his shoulder, pointed at the (name a game bird), or a big rainbow trout with a hook in his mouth. This year's calendar has some gorgeous scenes, some of which are featured on this web page.

But the nicest surprise is that they have a kid's art calendar this year, featuring work from school art classes.

I love children's art, but the quality of the work here is amazing. You can see all the winning pictures here. I really recommend this calendar as a gift. I like it better than the "adult" version. It is only $6.00. Kind of large, but would make a great gift for an art-or-nature-loving child (of any age!).

Kerchuan Soong, Charlotte Eighth grade, Age 15, Charlotte Preparatory School

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Quilt Story

Today I would like to tell you the story of the wall-hanging that I offered as a prize for the Pink Artist Project in October. The goal was to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation, and the project was wildly successful, with more than $3,000 contributed. Contributors via the blog Girl Gone Thread Wild earned the chances to win the Love Squared art doll and other prizes by contributing artists.

The little quilted piece that I made is not my usual style at all. It is mixed media, containing paper bits as well as fabric, fiber, and lots of beads, buttons, and trinkets. It has unfinished edges and is really PINK. I figured that if the recipient did not particularly want it for their own home, they might donate it to a cancer treatment center to be a bright spot on the wall in the treatment room.

So, when I found out the winner of my prize, I mailed it off to her. And did not hear anything. It was someone in Arizona, and I began to worry that she was a person who had homes in different parts of the country. Did my package arrive at its destination?

And then, two weeks later, I received an e-mail that left my jaw dropping and tears dripping down my cheeks.

Elaine wrote that when she received it: "I about flipped out,,,,,,,its soooooooooooo me and I hung it up in my bedroom right away, I adore it and thank you so much......It made my day, you have no idea what it meant to me."

She went on to explain that when it arrived, her husband was suffering his final days before dying of kidney failure and cancer of the blood. She lost him soon after.

I think that my quilt went to the perfect person at the perfect time. It was meant to be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Snow

Yesterday was filled with so much activity that I don't think I listened to the news all day. So I was surprised this morning to look out the window at 7:15 and see snow falling and covering the deck, trees, and plants.
I am hopeful that my next-door neighbors might actually put away their deflated swimming pool that has been occupying their side yard since Labor Day.

This is unreal for our little piece of the South, where we often do not see a flake all winter. This is our second snow of the week. Since then the sun has come out and the snow is melting fast, turning the tree branches to sparkling crystal.

I'm not too sure how my job interview went yesterday, but would be interested if it comes through. The school follows the year-round calendar, a popular concept in this system. The classroom teachers have three weeks off every nine weeks, and there are four different tracks rotating between being in school or tracking out. This job position would not track out, and would last until June 30. That actually sounds appealing since it would offer more earning opportunity.

I spent two hours in the ophthalmologist's office yesterday. Surprise- after seven years I needed a new prescription. I love the frames I have had for ten years, but decided I was due for a new pair of glasses. Merry Christmas to me!

The shopping expedition was wildly successful, squeezed in between appointments. I caught some great sales and discounts. Don't start throwing things at your computer, but I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping!

Our dinner last night at the Cafe Capistrano was terrific. If you are in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend it! The ingredients are fresh and the flavor is fantastic.

Our guild meeting with speaker Mary Stori was wonderful! Mary is just a delight, very humorous, yet inspiring to follow your heart in your quilting. I had commented on her blog that we were so happy that she would be filling in for Ami Simms. She wrote me a nice email and asked me to come by and introduce myself. So I did, and got a nice hug from this lovely lady. I think she is happy in the North Carolina mountains, so I hope that we North Carolina quilters will be seeing a lot more of this national teacher at our quilting events. Mary brought a ton of quilts with her, and it was fun to see all her embellishments.

I had my camera with me last night, but did not even think to take any pictures. Please visit Mary's website to see some pictures of her quilts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busy Day

Today is a busy one- 10:00 job interview, then shopping for Christmas, then eye appointment. Back home long enough to gather my show-and-tell for a Capital Quilters Guild meeting. I am meeting three members of my bee for dinner,
then we will be off to the guild meeting to hear speaker Mary Stori. Tonight was supposed to be delightful speaker and Alzheimer's art quilt fundraiser Ami Simms. Unfortunately, Ami's mother appears to be in crisis stage with this terrible disease. Our hearts go out to Ami and her family. I took a workshop on hand quilting with Ami when I first began quilting back in the eighties. I think I laughed so hard that I never quite mastered her perfect stitches.

Anyway, we are delighted that Ami arranged for Mary to take her place tonight. Mary has relocated to the mountains of North Carolina, the Asheville area I think, and her lecture should be a treat. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weird Weather

Yesterday I went for my morning walk at 10:00. It was sunny and cool, but it felt good with no hat or mittens, just a jacket. After my errands, I came out of the grocery store and it was snowing like crazy! I got home and ran for the camera. To the left of my house, the sky looked like this:

To the right, this was the sky:

Well, I thought that was the fastest snow storm to ever pass through. But throughout the afternoon, we continued to experience snow showers. The snow was blowing horizontally as the winds picked up.

Then it cleared again. We had a gorgeous sunset with salmon and purple lines of clouds.
Yesterday I almost finished the project with the patchwork houses. I also added a couple more pages to my journal, which I will show since I have had several nice comments about them. I even got an e-mail from quilt artist Pamela Allen complimenting my feather sampler. That made my day!

For this page, I just grabbed one of the sketching pencils and filled up the page. Mistake- I should not have used the soft "B" pencil, because my hand smudged the drawings.

Yesterday, I picked up a new pack of colored pencils at the grocery store to try out. They are Crayola Twistables. The lead retracts to keep the tips covered when not in use, and you can twist them to get more lead instead of sharpening. The pack had 12 pretty colors. I thought this would be a good set to put with a portable journal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Project

Here is a peek at a new patchwork project that is underway. This is all I can show until after Christmas...yes, I am actually starting some Christmas gifts before the second week in December. I love the bright colors popping against the black prints.

When I was making my second journal for my online class, I had lots of narrow pieces of watercolor paper left over from trimming the papers to size. These are perfect for bookmarks and experimenting with different types of embellishment.

The top one has a strip of hand-dyed fabric fused to the watercolor paper, and then I doodled on the fabric with gel pens. The center one also has fused fabric and some fiber and ribbon embellishments. I printed some words on a transparency master in different fonts. The word "laughter" is just stitched on to this bookmark. I like the effect. The bottom one had a light lavender wash of paint, and I just doodled over it with the gel pens.

In fact, I doodled my way to the mountains on Friday while DH was driving. The scenery was not too good in the gray fog and rain, so it was fun to work with bright colors. Here are a couple of new pages in my art journal.

The spiral feather is similar to the floribunda feathers I learned from machine quilter Nichole Webb. I used them on the white wedding quilt I made for Dave and Emily. Now I am working on another project to go with the quilt, so I need a little practice on these.

I have an interview lined up on Thursday for a teaching job at an elementary school in North Raleigh. The job begins January 2. I started making appointments for doctor visits in the event that I get the job. Today I am off for my annual mammogram. I also made an appointment with the ophthalmologist who performed my Lasik surgery back in the 90's. My last eye check was in 2001! That is awful. I have been squinting at my crossword puzzles, so I know my near vision has gotten worse as I have gotten closer to the big 6-0.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Change of Seasons

This weekend I had planned to stay home while DH went to the mountains for opening day of black powder (muzzle-loader) deer season. However, my sister called Thursday night and said she would be going, and this would be her last chance until Christmas. So, at the last minute, I decided to accompany my husband.

The weather had been rainy here at home Thursday and Friday, and it was like pea soup as we ascended the mountain in the fog. Saturday morning began with rain, but by the afternoon the sun poked its way through the clouds. I was doing a little patchwork on my tiny sewing machine in the cabin when I decided the sunlight was just about right for some late afternoon shots of the photography kind. While the guys are hunting, I limit my walks to the area around the cabin, creek and pond. Look at all the bare trees! A big change from my last trip back in October.
This is a view of the pond from my yard. Some day we will clear out some of these skinny trees so we have a better view.

As I walked around the pond, I noticed the sunlight creating slats of light and shadow across the pond.

I also liked the look of the sun dappling the rocks and grass near the dam on the creek.

And reflecting on the water.

After all the rain, there was a lot of COLD water spilling over the dam.

I noticed a little spot of color across the street from the dam, and zoomed in on this little red shrub.
About an hour later, the weather turned bitter cold and windy. My husband had a successful day, shooting an 8-point buck that was about as big as he is. I'm not sure how he picked it up and got it in the Gator. My nephew also shot an 8-pointer, so the guys were all pleased with themselves. There was a little dusting of snow that night.

My father came over for dinner, and we had a lot company with my brother-in-law's family also visiting. We did not get home until about eight o'clock Sunday night. I have a message to call a school about a teaching job, so I guess I better get my act together.