Monday, March 30, 2009

We had a great weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, to participate in our nephew Tom's Court of Honor for the Eagle Scout award. He looked great up there! The McBrayer family was well-represented, as both of Charlie's brothers also attended with their wives and one of Tom's cousins.
A proud moment for our family.
I look like a bobble-head doll perched on Tom's shoulder in this group shot!
It rained the whole way to Asheville on Friday night, and most of the day Saturday. What a bummer, because everything was in bloom and would have looked lovely.
What a difference a day makes...Sunday had a bright blue sky and just some puffy clouds for our drive home.
It was goodbye to the mountains for another week. Next weekend is the annual opening day of trout season at our little place in Ashe County, North Carolina, and we are planning to be there.
Here at home in Wake Forest, it was clear blue skies and beautiful cherry trees in full bloom along our driveway.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mountain Sunset

Not much blogging activity from me this week...that big weekend at the beach wore me out, and I have not been very productive in the quilting department.

I did finish the Mountain Sunset quilt in time for Charlie's birthday. I had it pretty flat, but after traveling to the beach, it could use a bit more time being straightened. He liked it. :)

This one has quite a bit of sparkle due to shiny threads, some crystal organza fog, and a little Angelina. It also is a bit dimensional, especially the dark green hills in the background.

And here is something too cute not to show baby Ragen. This would make a good
Anne Geddes image inside a rosebud, wouldn't it!

We are traveling again this weekend, this time to the beautiful mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina. My husband Charlie, the old Eagle Scout, will be administering the Eagle Award to our nephew, Tom Logan, on Saturday. Quite an honor to be asked to do this. Congratulations to Tom on a great accomplishment!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Joyful Blessings

Here is my niece Melinda's new baby girl, Ragen.

And less than a week later, here is my niece Rachel's new baby boy, Christopher, with my brother Chris and proud Papa Wasim looking on.

Little Christopher does not have a baby quilt yet, because they did not tell us the baby's gender until he was born. I better get busy! My nephew Jason's little girl is due this summer!

Now I can't wait to play "Pass the Baby." :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Changes at Sunset Beach

Continuing with our Sunset Beach weekend...we go there for a week every June, renting the same well-loved and well-worn cottage on Madd Inlet, facing the marsh, close to the ocean. Each year it is interesting to see what changes have been made, either by Mother Nature or by Man. We got an early preview with this weekend trip.

The most obvious change this year is the on-going construction of a new, high span bridge to Sunset Beach. Like almost all North Carolina beaches, it is a barrier island. For years, passage to the island has meant crossing a one-lane drawbridge that swings sideways to open on the hour to any boat traffic, and on demand by commercial boats. Trips off the island to shop or dine have to be timed to avoid the fifteen minutes of sitting and waiting for the bridge to open and close. Some love the charm of the slower pace of life. It is interesting to watch the bridge open and close, and see the boats that are passing through on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Obviously, others were impatient and decided to do something about it. Oh, and the old bridge is kind of unsafe and crumbling apart.

Another change in the man-made department is, they moved the ABC store to the Food Lion shopping center! What, you may ask, is an ABC store? Here in the Bible Belt of the South, there are no liquor stores, only state-controlled Alcohol Beverage Control stores. For years, the ABC in Sunset has been located across the street from the Twin Lakes restaurant by the drawbridge. Many is the time we sent someone out during dinner five minutes before closing time at the ABC to make sure we had enough tequila for the next day's Margaritas! Alas, now we must plan better for those emergencies.

As for Mother Nature's work, she has drastically changed the island over the last fifteen years or so by completely filling in the channel that used to separate Sunset Beach from Bird Island. In the old days, you could cross the channel at low tide to visit Bird Island and look for sand dollars or shore birds. But if you got stuck at high tide, you either had to be a strong swimmer, or wait several hours for the tide to recede. Can't tell you how many eyeglasses and car keys have been lost in the channel! Now the sands have shifted, and the island does not end until you walk to the jetty.

Bird Island is a bird sanctuary. You have to stay off the dunes where the birds nest. In the summer, volunteers mark the sea turtle nests by building little fences around them so they will not be disturbed. It is so beautiful and tranquil here. As long as I can remember, someone has provided a bench and a mailbox with a journal on the dune.

Known as the Kindred Spirit, many people have stopped and recorded their thoughts as they sat on the bench. But I could swear that the bench used to actually be in the dune. And this year, someone has put up two flagpoles on Bird Island with American flags.

There has always been the "skeleton" of a wrecked wooden boat right next to the jetty. Not much is visible of the wreck anymore, just the engine block.

Well, there will always be changes. I remember being amused whenever we visited my mother-in-law when our kids were little, and she always cried when we left. Now I understand. Here I am enjoying a last cuddle on the deck with my little Lily. Good news...we will see them again in the mountains in two weeks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beautiful beach weekend

If you have read my blog at all, you may know that I love the North Carolina mountains...but if you drive three hours south instead of west, you come to my other favorite location...Sunset Beach, North Carolina, the last beach in the state before reaching South Carolina. We took a little walk Friday winter coats. It is always breath-taking to walk down the long boardwalk across the dunes and see the Atlantic appear before us.

Although we had lingered on the deck over several cups of morning coffee, I was surprised to still see traces of sunrise in the sky, and silvery reflections on the water.

Charlie and I were the only ones there Thursday night and most of the day Friday. We walked all the way to the jetty.

The birthday boy was king of the hill as he climbed up on the rocks.
The kids enjoyed playing in the sand on the beach the next day.
Wish it could have warmed up a bit, but it was gorgeous and sunny. Good kite-flying weather!

The beach was mostly deserted except for the occasional dog walker and lots of shore birds.Not much trouble finding a spot on the beach. This view is facing Ocean Isle Beach to the north, with its giant eyesore condo building sticking up like a sore thumb.

I have lots more pics and will share a few each day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday and Happy Spring

Today is my husband's sixtieth birthday. What a milestone! I am so proud of his accomplishments in life. He is a role model for setting goals and achieving them. For example:
  • attaining the Eagle Scout award

  • being first chair in trombone in high school

  • working at a gas station from age fourteen to earn money for his first car by age 16

  • working his way through college and graduating (after changing majors three times)

  • switching careers from a university administrator to successful stockbroker at age 36

  • becoming such a good slalom water-skier that other boaters on the lake would stop and watch

  • becoming an expert marksman

  • becoming a private pilot

  • best of all, being a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend

I love you, Charlie McBrayer!

We are heading to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, tonight for a beach weekend with family and friends. Yep, I'm playing hooky tomorrow. The weather should be sunny but a little cool for sunning or swimming. But we can't wait! Here is a little snapshot of spring, which is looking glorious here in central North Carolina- especially since the sun decided to shine again yesterday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Great Quilty Websites

Do you ever have a few extra minutes to seek inspiration for new projects on the web?

If you are a blog reader, you probably are already aware of the excitement that starts to sizzle when you come across awesome artistic projects and wonder, what if...? could I do that? would it work to use a different technique? how did they make this?

Of course, going to a quilt show or workshop is the ideal way to increase your knowledge of what's new in the quilting world. But we are so lucky in this day and age to have the Internet to bring the information we seek right into our living rooms.

I have featured Bonnie McCaffery's site before, but would like to point you in her direction once again. Bonnie's own quilts and techniques are very well-known, and she is a popular teacher of portrait quilts, fantasy fabrics, and more. I personally own two of her books, one of which is now out of print. Portrait Quilts has been reprinted and is even on Barnes and Noble's site.

In the last few years, Bonnie has provided a wonderful service of producing short vidcasts or "podcasts" of interviews with quilters. Bonnie's interviews are friendly and informative, but not too "gushy." They are available on the Internet from her site, or you can download them to your iPod from the iTunes store- for free!

One of my favorite of her vidcasts is with Larkin Van Horn, beader extraordinaire and textile artist. After watching this vidcast, I signed up to take a workshop with Larkin at the upcoming North Carolina Quilt Symposium. The workshop topic is Beaded Buttons- something I have never tried. Always learning something new!

I also was very impressed with the vidcast with Pam Holland. I started out smiling as Pam described how she and three quilting friends had their eyeliner or eyebrows tattooed after downing a few margaritas. After seeing Pam describe her "Drapplique" technique (drawing + applique), I immediately went to her website. Wow- some very detailed techniques for creating portrait quilts, and so many beautiful projects to ponder.

Okay, grab your coffee (or a margarita!) and spend a few minutes with Bonnie and friends!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

She's Here

Remember the little baby quilt I made earlier this year?

Yesterday, the baby arrived! I can't wait to meet my little great-niece, Regan Leigh Smith. Here are some photos her mom sent of the crib with the dust ruffle, quilt, and pillow I made. A sweet nursery for a sweet baby girl! Congratulations, Melinda and Darren!

Now I want some baby pics!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cyberbee Saturday

Since we opted not to go to the North Carolina mountains and watch it rain all weekend, I was able to attend the All Day Sew-In meeting of my quilting group, the CyberBee. What a great way to beat the Rainy Day Blues. Fun, food, friends...and you would not believe the great projects from this group.

I did not go until lunchtime since I wanted to sew the binding on my Mountain Sunset quilt. I got that done, and then made Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries from the South Beach diet book to bring along.

The best part is show-and-tell. Here are some of the pictures I took at the meeting.
Look at this eye-popping Hawaiian applique! Amy says she grew up in Hawaii, but had to move to North Carolina before she learned how to do this. She says the pattern is Nancy Chong's Woodland Lei.

Donna made a delightful Cat in the Hat quilt with her Kindergarten class to honor Dr. Seuss's birthday. The children used fabric markers.

Ann is a talented longarm quilter who used a pattern on her Statler Stitcher to make this one-piece quilted pillow.

Tess made a feathered star medallion quilt. These are Civil War reproduction fabrics.

Carolyn had a scrappy star quilt, always one of my favorites.

DJ finished a large batik stack'n'slash quilt, and also a lovely baby quilt in soft colors by Moda. There are lace motifs like doilies over some of the patches.

For all you Dear Jane fans, here is a fabulous, large quilt by Holly Sweet.
She even added design work to the triangles in the border. What a labor of love!
Holly is also one of the designated piecers for a well-known applique quilter and author. She brought us the exquisite blocks she is piecing into a Baltimore Album style quilt made by students of the author's applique classes. I will share this beautiful project after the book comes out.
You have seen this one before on my blog, but here is Jean showing the progress on her hand-quilted Chocolate Bunnies quilt.

Several of the ladies are exchanging Big Blocks in a swap. I always regret not participating when I see the gorgeous swap results.

Jenny's appliqued flower blocks:

A cotton boll block made by Margaret:

Jean made this appliqued Big Block for Margaret in Aunt Gracie fabrics

And here are Margaret's other completed blocks.

I showed my embellished projects, which have all been posted here before. A great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon!