17 October 2016

Preparing for Workshops and Enjoying Autumn!

This has been a year of stitching and completing projects requested by other people.  The latest project has been in preparation for a workshop I will be teaching for the Santa Clara Quilter's Association in San Jose, CA next week.  They requested an Altoid Tin workshop and kits, so much of my free time for the past few months has been spent in preparation.  At last the instructions and pattern is complete!  Eventually, I hope to make kits available on Etsy... but not until I have some time to work on some of my own projects first!  

I've also been preparing for some other workshops on basic crazy quilting.  Among the items I've created for it is a stitch sampler on cotton to facilitate teaching the core stitches for Crazy Quilting.  Then there are the handouts that go with.  A simple block pattern, an exercise to take a basic stitched seam beyond into something a bit fancier, stitch instructions, and a list of a few of my favorite resources.  

To go with my basic embroidery preparation has been the preparation of a Mini Stitch Book, which if you've seen my personal stitch book, you'll realize that this little 8 page guide is very small in comparison!  But I hope it gives my students a glimpse of possibilities and spurs them on to lots of creativity when they are stitching! 

 I was so pleased to have Pam Kellogg's request to stitch the cover piece for her special Holiday issue of Crazy Quilt Quarterly!  I had a lot of fun stitching this piece, which will be the centerpiece of a larger Christmas wall hanging... eventually!  You can get your own issue with lots of lovely Holiday themed stitching and personal Christmas memories from each of the stitchers at MagCloud or on Pam's Etsy site.

What a blessing to be able to spend time and get to know this little cherub a bit better!  Is there anything more beautiful than a peacefully sleeping baby?  I can't wait to get my two grand girls together soon!  

With autumn in full sway here, I added a few fall leaves and berries to my kitchen windowsill.  I may not have a large nature table like Salley Mavor, but I do have a nature windowsill with bits that I've picked up here and there throughout the year.  I love that this year's windowsill includes shells from Cape Cod and even a tiny perfect dried out crab!  

The other end of the window sill includes my growing collection of Christmas Cactus.  The one of the left is just on the verge of bursting into full bloom!  It will be the third time it has bloomed since Christmas last year when I first got it.  The other two pots are cuttings from the Christmas Cactus that once belonged to my Grandmother!  A cousin has it, and it's gotten quite large, so when we all gathered in May, she brought enough cuttings for everyone.  I divided mine up into two pots and they've already tripled in size!  Can't wait to see how it blooms!  

With the changing season, I did a little fall decorating around the house.  The China Cabinet in the dining room got a simple treatment with white pumpkins and one of my sunflower paintings and my mother's electric candles.  

The fireplace mantel is always a challenge to decorate as it is so long ~ about 12 feet long!  I keep a lit green garland on it most of the year and for autumn I added a garland of autumn leaves and spread my halloween items along it.  Mister Crow, my collection of black cats, and my collection of mice along with a few crows and mushrooms.  

The black cat in the foreground came from my DIL Amanda's mom.  The black cat in the background was my Mother's.  The mouse came from Robert Burn's home in Scotland. 

The church mouse in front of the mushroom is from one of the English Cathedrals I visited in 2012.  The figurine was made by my youngest son Zach in a High School art class.  

Lots of fun things!  The painting was by my Aunt Olive and used to hang in my Grandmother's living room!  

In another corner of the living room I have hung one of my own paintings of an old shed that I used to pass in rural Iowa when I was in nursing school.  On the table is an old brass candlestick from our dear family friend, Miss Jessie, which holds one of my hand-dipped beeswax candles.  The wooden mushrooms were from my mother's collection.  

I love having all these memories around me.  Every year I enjoy pulling them out and seeing how I can put them together differently.  Some years, things stay packed away, and I find that I rarely put every single item out every year.  Like life, the decor ebbs and flows depending on where my tastes and preferences lie that year.  But always, there are the memories of loved ones... and isn't that what All Hallows Eve is all about anyway?  A time to celebrate memories of those who have departed from us.   


29 September 2016

Mollie Feathers, a Pincushion, and the CQI Retreat

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Mollie Feathers, tribute to my dear little kitty, is finished!  It will hang in my dining room.  So pleased with how it turned out! 

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Before adding the borders, I stitched my signature on the bottom of the feather-stitched center.  To see photos of the seams as I blogged about them, see the "Mollie Feathers" tag. 

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On the back I added Mollie's photo that I took the same day I had the inspiration for the name.  

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I snuck in a bit of stitching on a pincushion as well!  This bright piece was for the Crazy Gift Exchange at the CQI retreat!  

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The winding herringbone seam was a huge favorite on my CQJP 2015 quilt, so I thought I'd repeat it here. 

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I had some fun floral trim from M&J Trims in NYC.  It was perfect to go around the base! 

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It's just a happy piece!  

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Another favorite seam from the CQJP 2015 quilt.

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My standard signature on the bottom. 

Lisa & Betty
Betty was the winner!  Hope it brightens her days!  

Made by Diana Williams
I "won" (sorry Cathy!) this lovely piece stitched by Diana Williams!  It's a lovely fabric box!  I'm using it on my studio table to hold extra balls of pearl cotton!  

Stitching at the CQI Retreat 
As always, there was lots of lovely stitching to see from all the participants!  I really loved the contemporary piece of crazy quilting on the wall, 2nd from right, by Colleen Anderson!  Though I did get a couple of photos of it, none of them were grand, so I'm hoping she will get to share it through other means!  

See the quilt on the right side of the table?  Oh my!!!  To see Gerry Kreuger's Suffragette quilt in person was a treat!  Just exquisite.  Reading about it as Gerry blogged about it was wonderful and I was really taken with the black and coppery gold colors.  But to see it in person... you really must because none of the photos I've ever seen of it do it justice.  There is so much put into the entire piece.  It's beautiful as a whole, but once you start looking closely, with Gerry to tell you about all the little bits, buttons, lace and the exquisite and detailed tiny seams... well, words fail me.  If you get the opportunity, do not pass up a chance to see it in person!  

Gerry Kreuger 
Better than seeing her lovely quilt was getting to meet Gerry in person at long last!  She was in one of the first round robins that ever participated in and we've been online friends ever since.  Kindred spirits of the best sort!  Love, love, loved being able to sit and stitch next to her for the better part of 4 days and to share a room together so we could chat until we fell asleep!  

Gerry & Lisa
Gerry ~ So glad we were able to spend this time together!  You are a treasure!  So wonderful to have had this time together! 

Flowers in Kansas
On the way home from the retreat, I drove some rural roads for a bit.  Loved all the golden wildflowers in bloom!  I believe these are Jerusalem Artichoke.  The roadside were filled with them in eastern Kansas!  

Now I'm home once again and have started orientation at my new job!  How I love being able to walk to work within 15 minutes!  I'm working madly in preparation for some up-coming lecture/workshops taking place in October!  Hope to have more to post soon!  

28 September 2016

A Month of Renewal - Part 3

Vivian Anne
Since I posted last time, I have another new granddaughter!  Meet Vivian Anne!  Born to my oldest son Jonathan and his wife Becca!  She's a bit sleepy here, just after feeding and getting burped!

Jonathan and Vivian
What a wonder it is to see your own child with their first child!  Jonathan and Vivian have spent lots of time bonding while Mama catches up on sleep! 

Jonathan Becca & Vivian
They had a bit of a rough start with an emergency c-section, but are all doing great now!  

Time to finish up a bit more about my trip to Cape Cod!
Forest path
While out exploring Cape Cod National Seashore, I hiked a few of the shorter trails through the woods.  This one led to the site of the Pilgrim Spring.  Things change a lot over 400 years and the spring is no longer, though the site is marked.  I loved the soft trail through the oak woods.  So different from the pine & fir forests of the mountain west!  

I loved seeing this shrub!  Bayberry!  It is my favorite scent of Christmas, and in the past, when I was doing things like dipping candles, I once made a dozen or so teeny tiny bayberry wax candles to burn at the holidays.  The wax was ever so expensive and I quickly learned to mix it with beeswax to make it go further!  Seeing these tiny waxy berries made it clear why the wax was so expensive.  It would take a huge number of these teensy berries to provide enough wax for one tiny candle!  

Forest floor
Loved the mossy ground under the trees.  

DunesWhile walking in the woods, the trail seems ever so far from the shore, but then the trail came out upon this lovely vista of dunes and marsh and the sea beyond.  So lovely!

Lifesaving Station
At the Provincetown visitor center, there was a lovely view of the life saving station.  

It was late enough in the day that most people had left the beach.  I loved watching this little sanderling searching along the wave lines on the beach for tidbits to eat.  So pretty!  

Ringbilled Gull
A ring-billed gull was taking what seemed a leisurely walk along the beach!  

Wave lines on the beach
Love the patterns that the waves leave on the sand.  

Surf and patterns left behind
Just gorgeous.  And so different on this north shore of the cape than on the outer bank.  

Dune Grass
Lots of lovely dune grass here.

With that, my time on Cape Cod came to an end.  What a wonderful trip it was!  Di and her husband John were splendid hosts, and I came back renewed from my time with them!  

Plymoth Plantation
On the way back to the airport in Boston, I stopped at Plimoth Plantation, a place that I have wanted to visit for most of my adult life!  Loved walking through the village, peering into the houses, exploring the gardens, and meeting the people. 

Eastern Chipmunk
What fun to see this Eastern chipmunk!  It is much larger and much redder than the Colorado Least chipmunks that we get in the Colorado mountains!  

Brilliant plants
On the Cape and in Plimoth, I was fascinated by these striking plants.  No one I asked could tell me what they were.  But I love their brilliant fuchsia stems, the perfect little storybook white flowers they produce while in the blooming stage, the little purple berries and the green seedpods.  Found it so interesting!  I took photos of it in several locations but this one was particularly striking! 

Making a spoon
I don't know that I have ever been to a living history museum where the docents stay in character as well as they do at Plimoth Plantation!  Truth be told, I find it a little uncomfortable to interact with them, like I'm intruding upon them somehow.  Their presence and demeanor really does provide a great in person look at the time and place though.  

Splash of color
On my way out, I spotted this flash of brilliant color peering from between the vince boards around a garden!  

Getting Cozy
At home the kitties were so glad to see me!  Kitzy learned a new trip of pulling the afghan over herself while sitting in my chair!  

Evening under the lights
The day after I got home, a group of the childbirth educators that I used to teach with years ago, had a lovely party at the mountain home of one of them!  So much fun to sit alongside the mountain stream in the cool evening air amongst the fairy lights and magical atmosphere and visit with these dear old friends!  

21 September 2016

A Month of Renewal ~ Part 2

Marsh on Bumps River
The evening before, the marsh looked like this at high tide. 

Hermine rain and high tide on Bumps River Marsh
The  morning tropical storm Hermine arrived, it looked like this at high tide, with water washing over the entire marsh.  I spent much of the day inside watching the rain and wind patterns on the water!  Fascinating! 

Hermine rough surf at Sandy Neck
In the afternoon, we drove out to see the heavy surf.  On the south side of the Cape, the surf was pretty calm, so instead we drove to the north side of the Cape to Sandy Neck.  Here, the surf was wild where the winds of Hermine were beating down from the northeast.  

Sandy Neck Rough Surf from Hermine
It really was impressive to see!  The last time I visited Cape Cod was February 2013 ~ just in time for superstorm Nemo!  Several of our group of friends had joined Di for a long weekend getaway ~ and what an adventure that was, to get snowed in during the blizzard and to be without power or heat for a few days!  We joked that with this trip, they just wanted to round out my experience a bit with a tropical storm!

I noted an interesting coincidence when looking back at my post about my last visit to Cape Cod, that it also was just prior to starting a new job!  

Salt Marsh at Nauset
The day following storm Hermine, I spent the day exploring Cape Cod National Seashore on my own.  First stop was at the Salt Marsh Visitor Center.  Another book I had read and enjoyed was about this area of the marsh: The House on Nauset Marsh: A Cape Cod Memoir, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Wyman Richardson

Sketch of Salt Marsh at Nauset
While sitting on the bench outside the visitor center, I did this small watercolor sketch.  A canoe floated down the waterway while I was there so I had to add it in! 

Nauset Marsh with birds
From the visitor center, I drove up to the Coast Guard Station, and since it was the day AFTER Labor Day, I was able to park in the lot!  During the summer, you may only park there with a handicapped placard and if you want to visit the station, the beach or the trails, you must catch the shuttle bus.  I loved looking out over the marsh from this side and seeing all the birds in the air and on the water.  It seemed so much closer to what I'd read about in the Outermost House

Path to the Beach
Since I was able to park so close, I decided to walk down to the beach and see the surf that I could only glimpse from the top.  

Nauset Beach
Oh my!  For this landlubber, who has really only been to the seaside a handful of times this is what dreams are made of!  To see the green/blue water against a deep blue sky pouring over itself and sending foaming water streaming up the beach... words are not enough to tell you what it was to walk along this shore and experience the wind, the sand, the foamy water sloshing about my feet.  Like the prairie, the sea gives one perspective.  We are just a speck of sand in the larger scheme of things.  We get so caught up in our own troubles and the bubble of our own little world, that sometimes we forget that there is SO much more out there, that the world does not revolve around us.  It brings home to me what a precious gift it is that God, the creator of all this cares about 'little ol' me' despite the immensity of all the other things and all the other 'little ol' me's' out there.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it;
for his hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95:3-5 RSV

Nauset Beach
Who can stand at the seaside with this immensity and not feel the hand of God at work?  It fills my heart.  It rejuvenates.  At last, I can breathe again.  And know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my troubles are small and that the God who can create this immensity and this exquisite beauty, who wants a relationship with me, (ME!) holds ALL things in the palm of his hand.
The Lord on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.
Psalm 93:4  NKJV

Surf at Nauset Beach
Just amazing.
For the earth will be filled 
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14  RSV

On the shore, the waves leave tracks, the foam leaving behind a trail of bubble marks and a gull, tracks like ivy leaves.  The immensity of the sea, and these little tiny details.  All in God's hands.  

Lisa at Nauset Beach
What a joy to have a few hours here to stand in the wet sand, to let the seas wash my feet and to experience that great immensity from the shore.  Truly a wonderful afternoon!

To be continued...


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