Saturday, July 31, 2010

A finish and a WIP

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Yesterday I finished LHN's Holly & Berries. Such a cute little piece. I don't know why it took me so long. I started it last spring at my quilt retreat and didn't pick it up again until this week while in Florida. I actually brought it to Florida last spring but didn't touch it. So, it's racking up as many frequent flyer miles as me.

The WIP I brought along is a Crab Apple Hill pattern called Over the River and Through the Woods. It's a quilt with 3 embroidered panels. I traced the pattern on to the fabric and have only stitched a little part. I'm expecting this to take ages to finish. I love these types of patterns and have trouble resisting them. It looks daunting in the beginning but it will be worth it in the end. I've seen pictures of this made in other colors but I was really drawn to the cream and black. No guarantee there will be an update on this for a long time but you never know.

Back to work.

The Queen Bee

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vacation, smacation...

So, I'm on vacation with no pictures to post. This is a vacation to be lazy, stitch, read, and laze in the sun. But, today it thundered all afternoon so what's happening is I'm watching the news. I much prefer to get my news from Jon Stewart. He just puts the right spin on it. (Really, I'm kidding, I follow the news.) It's just a whole different story here in Florida. There is news on regular local channels ALL THE TIME. So, here's what is of concern here on the Gulf Coast (besides the obvious oil spill).....

The hunt is on for an alligator that ate a dog. Isn't that what they'll do? Do we really have to hunt them down for making a meal out of a yippy little dog that wouldn't stop 'harassing' it? Oh, that makes me remember a previous picture I posted from our last trip to Florida.

(I do apologize to anyone who might have lost their beloved pet in such a manner.... and do agree that nobody should find a gator under the shrubbery in the back yard.) I come from an area where coyotes roam the countryside and nobody leaves their dogs out. For real. I feel like Laura Ingles on the prairie some nights.

Then, there was a story about Dengue Fever. Apparently, a risk in Florida this summer. Just today I saw a mosquito that was kind of green. I thought that was weird, luckily I hadn't seen the news story yet. I would have been more scared.

Other then watching for alligators and mosquitoes I'm getting lots of stitching and reading done. Maybe I'll have something of interest to post tomorrow.

Until then, I'm off.

The Queen Bee

Monday, July 26, 2010

The newest quilt

Hmmm. Not sure what to do to make this photograph better. I've taken 3 batches of pictures and this is the best. In real life the colors in the big squares match the other squares better. This quilt is from a pattern called 'Just Can't Cut It'. It is twin bed size and the tropical floral squares are 12 inches. I don't think I've ever made a quilt with such big pieces. I like little pieces. The smaller the better but this was fun to make and only took me a week. I'll take it to the long arm quilter and see what kind of magic she can work.

Now, back to outlining Holiday Express. I'm almost done. Then the beads. Seems like there is always just one more step.... but really.... it's ALMOST done.

The Queen Bee

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nice deflection

Lee over at Lake Sticher recently posted about what she's been doing instead of stitching. Seems to be a common problem this summer. I have plenty of time but a lack of motivation. At my house, the excuses are few. The kids were gone all week, work was slow, weather was bad, but the motivation was nowhere to be seen. I did make a quilt. It's almost done. I only need about half an hour but today I spent about 10 minutes working on it when the rain started so I had to go close windows. I never went back to the sewing room. Soon I'll finish it and take pictures. So, to deflect from my total lack of stitching, here are the homemade ice cream sandwiches I made.

See how you're wishing you could sample this and have completely forgotten that you came here to see what I've been stitching or reading? Even I tasted it and I don't eat ice cream. Delicious. If anyone cares how they were made just ask, but it involved a boxed brownie mix and ice cream. Anyone can do it. I've never made them before, had to rush a little which probably explains the oozing around the edges, but whatever... the taste was perfect.

I'm off to see what's happening with the kids.... all home for the weekend.

The Queen Bee

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A classic cat moment

The second I flipped on the camera my 'helper' took her spot... smack in the middle of the quilt. Such instinct wasted, no less, on a cat. Why don't kids pop into place the second you want them to? No waiting for anyone after practice..... the list is so long it's a waste of time to think about it.

So, anyway, this....

is what I was taking a picture of. My latest finish. A wall hanging from the May/June 2009 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. It's called Sailing by Lori Hein. I purchased the fabric kit sold thru the magazine. It uses batik fabrics, which are fun to work with. Usually there isn't a front or back to the fabrics and they are a little stiffer then regular cotton but they piece nicely. Also, they come in the most fabulous colors and patterns.

This is the quilt I wanted to quilt myself using the Fab-u-motion attachment for my Pfaff machine. After practicing on various small projects I finally took the plunge and got to work. Each border is done in a different free motion pattern. I think I'm really going to like the machine attachment, but for small things. It's a lot of work pushing and pulling that fabric thru the opening of the machine. I have several other small wall hangings or table toppers I'm going to get at now that I feel like I've taken the plunge and learned how to use the thing.

The kids have left for another week at camp and Buttercup goes this afternoon for her first week at camp. I'll have the house to myself..... I haven't been kid free in a few years! I'm sure the week will race by and I'll only accomplish a fraction of what I'm hoping to get done.

In the mean time, I'm off to switch some laundry around.

The Queen Bee

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's overcast today, so what's

the first thing I decide to do??? Take pictures. Yup. That's the secret to the eye catching pictures I'm forever posting..... no sun, or better yet, take the picture in the basement sewing room with virtually no natural light! It's a true art form... ha, ha. Mostly I just take the pictures when the urge strikes or I'll totally forget about ever showing you what's been happening. The finish I'm actually showing is Summer House by Little House Needlworks. The other piece has been done for a few years so I don't remember who it's by. It's just there for added style...or something.

Does anyone read Annemarie's blog, Orts and Ends? Her latest post is about a finish she did using her sewing machine, instead of hand sewing, with less then satisfactory results. I love my sewing machine so am not going to blame my unhappiness on that. I'm blaming it on poly-fil. Hate the stuff. Should have known better then to go that route. What I wanted was the look of the pillow finish but I'm not happy with the end result. I'll admit there is plenty to like so I'm willing to show it. I'm just not going to be doing it again anytime soon. I prefer crushed walnut shells but this was too big to fill like that. Lord knows, I've got more then enough of the little things, but it would have been too heavy and flopped over. The crushed shells work better with something the size of an ornament. So, anyway, it was a very cute little free pattern. I used the recommended threads with the exception of the red. I didn't have what they called for so dug around and came up with Old Red Barn by?? I don't know.... it was in a little baggie labeled with the color so that means it came as part of a kit. The stupid stuff ran, too, when I spritzed it before ironing it flat.

Back to work. I'm machine quilting a wall hanging. I'm close to being finished which means more pictures. Hold your breath......

Until then,

The Queen Bee

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer reading

Thanks for all your kind thoughts about how much we were roasting. The heat has passed so now we can just get back to being plain old 'hot'. The A/C is off and we're managing with ceiling fans and open windows.

Despite the heat, or maybe because of it, it's been a good summer for reading. I have borrowed all my book pictures from all time favorite online book browsing and shopping website.

Years ago, when it first came out, I read Scott Turow's 'Presumed Innocent'. I enjoy a legal thriller and he's written some good ones. When the sequel, 'Innocent', came out I thought it would be good to go back and read the first one again. I gave both books to my husband for Father's Day and read them after he was done. It had been 20 years since the first reading and nothing rang a bell until I hit page 27. It all came back, who committed the murder, why, with what, etc. So I asked my husband if I was right. I was happy to think that I could skip 400 pages and move on to the next book. After all, there are just so many books to read I didn't want to spend the time reading the same book twice if I already knew the ending. He said I was right but that I really needed to read the whole book to reacquaint myself with the characters so the next book would make sense. So, back I went. It was still a good book and I liked the way the ending is revealed. I like a good courtroom drama, which both these books contain.

So, with the first book finished I moved on to the second. I can't say I enjoyed this one, though. In the first book, the main character might be a little bit likable.... just a little bit. By the time the second book rolls around he's NOT. He's still making poor choices, acting like a fool, and, once again, in need of a good defense attorney. Given that none of the characters were anyone I wanted to keep reading about, the second book was mostly a waste of time. The big reveal, at the end, was depressing to top it all off. So, if you have the desire for a good legal thriller, read 'Presumed Innocent' and leave it at that.

Another very enjoyable book is Amy Dickinson's 'The Mighty Queens of Freeville'. Amy is the new Dear Abby of the Chicago Tribune. She's not who writes that column in our local newspaper so I didn't recognize her name. She is, however, from a little town not that far from here. I picked up the book at an independent bookstore in a town about an hour from here because it was featured on a table of local authors. The description caught my attention right away. Amy finds herself in a foreign country with a little girl and no husband. She comes back home to regroup and find a job. She ends up living and working a days drive away from her home town of Freeville. She manages to raise her daughter by herself while maintaining her ties with her family and her old home town. I loved the writing style of this book. I also loved the way Amy didn't wallow in her misfortunes or loneliness. The book wasn't about her struggles to cope, it was just about her life. Life wasn't easy for her, but it wasn't easy for Amy's mother either, so I don't think Amy thought her's was anything dramatic. I find much to admire about a women who doesn't feel the need to wallow in self pity. There was no 'poor me, life is too hard all alone with a daughter to raise' that seem to make some other authors write books and become best sellers. Quite frankly, I'm tired of reading books about how hard it is to function in today's' world, even when you have a spouse, family around to help, money to survive, and good health insurance. (Not that I'm naming any names but I've found myself reading more then one such book lately.)

And finally, I read Elizabeth Berg's newest book: The Last Time I Saw You. Elizabeth Berg has always been one of my favorite authors. I used to say she could tell a good story in just 200 pages. Her last few books haven't been all that good, though. I'm not sure if it's just the topic or the story or what. I've been unable to connect to the characters, or to find the story interesting. While I liked this last one, the characters were shallow and hard to care about. We're introduced to various people as they prepare for their 40th high school reunion. Everyone has a different story with one exception.... they all feel the need to attend their class reunion. Most feel like they left something unfinished when they left school. I think it's an old story. The story of the who fits in, who never fit in, who wishes they'd treated classmates better, who wants to show their classmates that they've succeeded, and so on. It's a pleasant read, with a happy ending, so I didn't not enjoy this book, I just like something a little meatier.

So, there it is. What I've been reading over the last couple weeks. I have a book shelf full and a book or 2 on reserve at the library so keep checking back to see if any of them are worth mentioning.

Until then,

The Queen Bee

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heatwave, we're having a heatwave....

The temperature is a little exaggerated.... but not by much. The outside thermometer is in the sun, but if someone was out there I'm sure the beating down sun feels like 105! Yuck. Here, in upstate NY we don't do hot like this. Generally, houses aren't air conditioned so, we suffer. Our window a/c unites are managing but we've already replaced one that pooped out Tuesday. And, probably, I'd feel quite a breeze if I stood next to the spinning electric meter!

Now, before you folks in southern climates laugh... keep in mind we're thinking the exact same thing when you get snow. Snow is what we do. We know how to manage snow and cold.... heat, not so much.

Anyhow, along with having to schedule our day around when to raise or lower shades to keep the sun out, what we can fix for supper that doesn't heat up the house, and where we can go that has air conditioning I've managed to stitch a little.

I started Jenny Bean's Christmas Sampler. And seriously, the designer? Shakespeare's Peddler, isn't it? I'm not going back downstairs to look. Sorry. Next time I'll be more efficient.

Then, on Vonna's blog, she was doing a give away of Little House Needlework's 'Summer House'. I love this little pattern, and since I have it, I thought I'd just whip it up myself. It really is a quick stitch... it's just me that's not stitching it very fast.

Lastly, here is my progress on The Library by Little House Needleworks. I'm doing a Monday SAL with my friend Rebecca. I love the piece and hope to dedicate some serious stitching time to it over the next few Mondays. I'd love to get it done and framed.

This weekend we're off to visit another college campus. Luckily, the weather is supposed to break.

Until next time, I'm off.

The Queen Bee

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You're all going to think

I made up those posts about not having any time to sew since every time you check in I have a new finish to post. Really, I hardly did anything for a couple weeks but now I'm back at it.

This is another piece that's been languishing in my 'waiting to be finished' pile. It's Blackbird Design's Easter Parade. It's in the same pattern booklet that the violets are in (a finish I posted a couple days ago.) There is a clue in this picture about what else is happening around our house today.

The birthday table runner only comes out when it's some one's birthday..... and today Buttercup turns 14. A funny story from the day she was born. We didn't know if she was going to be a girl or a boy, a rarity these days. When a delivery room nurse asked me if we knew and I said we didn't she was most excited to tell me that she was the one that got to tell us! I would have never thought about how the people in the delivery room worked that little detail out. Whoever calls it, or by taking turns, or maybe they draw straws. At any rate, it's something they don't get to do very often anymore.

I am still practicing my machine quilting with the attachment for my sewing machine. I am very close to trying it on something I really want to turn out well. It's supposed to be very hot this weekend so hanging out in my basement sewing room might be just perfect.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

The Queen Bee

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Holiday Express Update

I have finished the sky, engine smoke, and mountains. Next, the back stitching. Previously, I'd finished the entire right side and a little bit of the engine. The outlining is tedious because the directions say to outline in a matching thread color. That makes for a ton of color changes. I am allowing myself the month of July for this phase. Here's hoping I can stay motivated. The frame sale will be here fast.

Wish me luck.

The Queen Bee