30 April 2015

Home Again!

2015.04.28Spring01
After eleven incredible days of traveling, I returned home to spring in full bloom!  The tulips and daffodils were at their peak!  So glorious! 

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The white Bleeding Hearts under the aspen trees appear to be exceedingly happy in their new home!  

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One of the lilac bushes is blooming and so wonderfully fragrant!  I wasn't expecting any blossoms for a year or two yet, so this is a delightful surprise! 

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The Centaurea Montana is in full beautiful bloom in the side garden!  Just lovely!

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I just can't get enough of the tulips!

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Waiting for me when I got home, was the Summer issue of Crazy Quilt Quarterly, which features three articles by me!  One is a tutorial for my beaded Seahorse. 

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The second features my Seashell Accordion Book, which I created out of round robin blocks.

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The third article is about the Under the Sea Pincushion that I created for the CQJP 2014 and used as my gift for the CQI Retreat gift exchange. 

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My trip was truly amazing.  Eleven days, each packed to the gills with so many activities, friends and family to spend time with and incredible experiences.    I had not travelled to New York City since I was a teenager about 40 years ago.  How fun to see places like Grand Central Station that I'd only seen in photographs before!  My dear friend Heidi met me at Penn Station first thing in the morning and guided me through the maze of subway and train stations and showed me the ropes of getting around New York City!   

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After getting oriented to the subway system, I was off exploring!  I spent my first day in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I've been to many art museums in other cities, but was truly astounded and a bit overwhelmed by the vast quantity of amazing art here.  Such an inspiring day!  

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When my family had visited here so many years earlier, we had come to see the Egyptian art specifically as I had a huge interest in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs in those days.  Somehow, we never made it to this part of the museum.  It's really an amazing space and was such a treat to see! 

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After five hours of art, my heart was full to overflowing and so utterly saturated that I went and sat in Central Park for a while.  Spring was just coming out, with the flowers blooming, the trees beginning to leaf out and the grass turning the most brilliant shade of emerald green.  I sat on a bench here and sketched for a while before rejoining my friend Heidi at the end of the day.

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We finished the day with a lovely sushi dinner accompanied by my second cousin Natalie and two of Heidi's co-workers!  Lots of laughs and good food!

I'll be sharing more about my trip over the next few days!

10 April 2015

Cleaning up the Garden

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Violets are one of my most favorite of all flowers - right up there with roses and lilacs!  When I lived in Iowa, I loved how violets covered the lawns in spring time - enough that I was able to pick enough blossoms to make violet syrup for the first time!  In Colorado, violets don't always do well.  The summers are too hot and dry and the winter too uneven in temps to allow them to thrive.   

Last spring, just before tearing out the old flagstone patio, my daughter and I discovered a few small violet plants blooming among the flagstones.  We tenderly dug them up and transplanted them into the large flowerbeds in the side yard.  Most of the summer they looked rather forlorn.  I really wasn't sure they would survive the summer, much less the winter. 

Today, taking advantage of a beautiful day, I decided to catch up on some garden work, namely clearing out the side gardens to prepare them for spring and summer.  What a delight to discover that not only had the violets survived the winter, but they were thriving and blooming like crazy!  Such big glorious blossoms!  I am in heaven!  

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The violets are on each side of the garden path - they don't really show up from a distance - but I know they are there and it makes my heart glad!  

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After clearing out a huge pile of old stalks and leaves from last year's gardens, all the freshly growing plants have space to grow!  It's time to get the sweet peas planted around the tuteurs!  Last year I got them in far to late and they never did much, though the morning glories were fabulous! 

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I found another surprise when I cleaned things up - a blossom on the Centaurea Montana (Perennial Bachelor Button).  The variety is Amethyst in Snow.  It didn't bloom last year, but looks like it's off to a fabulous start this year!  

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All the bulbs I planted last fall are coming up along the flagstone walk by the driveway!  I've been weeding a bit, so it's not terribly neat at the moment.  The Apricot Blush tulips are pretty orange!  Soon, the brown forsythia branches above them will be bursting into bloom!  Maybe then the old leaves left from last year will finally drop off! 

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A closer look at some of the hyacinths along the flagstone walk.  I love the large fragrant hyacinths!  I  also enjoy Grape Hyacinths and planted an assortment of pale blue and white varieties on this side of the house.  The front walk is lined with the old fashioned purple spreading variety.  

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The bed along the driveway is coming up as well!  A few tiny crocus, a different variety of pale blue grape hyacinth (seen up close below), several varieties of tulips and some allium that will bloom later.  One of the lilacs actually has blossoms on it this year!  I wasn't expecting any for another two or three years!  

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Loving these pale blue beauties!  I can imagine what this bed will look like in a few years as these multiply!  It won't be long until it's time to plant some annuals to fill in the bed for summer.  

It's a beautiful spring here and I'm so grateful for such a lovely day in the garden!  

05 April 2015

Jesus Christ Is Risen! {Happy Easter!}

St. Martin's Cross on Iona
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 
Philippians 2:5-11


If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 
Romans 10:9

Wishing you a very Blessed and Joyful Easter! 

03 April 2015

Summer's Garden CQ

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This summer, I'll be teaching a Crazy Quilting 101 class at The Loopy Ewe in Fort Collins, CO!  This is the sample block that is going to be displayed in the shop!  It's an 8 inch block with enough seams to try out a few of the basic embroidered seams and to play  bit with some simple motifs. 

To start with, we are going to try a 3 week class series with 2 hours a class and homework to complete in between!  I'm so excited to be starting this new adventure!  

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I'm hoping that this block isn't too ambitious for a six hour class!  We'll learn how to piece a block during the first class and apply the lace trim.  The second class, we'll learn how to do a few basic embroidery seam stitches.  The last class, we'll finish whatever embroidery seams we didn't finish in week 2 and learn about adding beads, buttons and some little motifs.   

Can't wait to get started!   The first class is June 13, 20 and 27th from 10:00 to noon.  The second class will be July 23, 30 and August 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  If you are in the area and would like to join in, watch the Loopy Ewe website for class details and registration, which will be coming soon! 


02 April 2015

Needlework Satchel

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With several trips coming up, a couple of which involve taking my stitching projects and accompany accoutrements, I wanted a case to keep everything contained in a lovely manner.  My daughter and spent an evening looking through pattern books for something that I could modify without having to reinvent the wheel and discovered a Simplicity Pattern (#1238 os) for a doll case that was just the kind of thing that I was after.  

I had several fabrics to choose from, and ended up going with my favorite natural linen trimmed with green.  In the past, I have made several cosmetic bags, that I use when traveling, from the same fabrics that are also embroidered with the same type of button flowers.  

I only had to make a few minor modifications to make the case work for my purposes!  Mostly I added the front pocket that can stash a handout or small project, and widened the sides by about 1 1/2".  Inside, I eliminated the doll accoutrements and bed that the pattern called for and instead added some elastic straps to hold thread and bead cases in place more securely.   Eventually, I would like to add a shoulder strap to it, but that will happen down the road. 

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One of the things I love about it, is that when fully loaded, it actually stands up on its own!  The overall size is 14 1/2" tall x 17" wide x 6" deep. 

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When opened, it lays out flat, so I'll be able to put it at my place and have everything I need within easy reach and somewhat organized!  I'd like to add two "packing" style cubes to this to contain some of the smaller items.  There's even room for my small battery operated LED OTT light!  

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On the right side, there is a plastic case of the beads I am using on my CQJP 2015 project, my stitching book, a velux bead mat, a bag of stitching threads on metal rings and several bags containing projects I am currently working on. 

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On the left , there are two plastic cases for threads.  One contains an assortment of embroidery threads, particularly variegated varieties, which I really love in CQ work!  The other contains an assortment of pearl cotton spools for the projects I am working on.  There is the small battery operated Ott Light, my pincushion, a pouch containing large scissors, pens, pencils, disappearing ink markers, a small ruler and a 4" embroidery hoop.  I've also included two little fabric baskets, one of which contains some bead-mixes that I'm using on my current projects and the other contains a ring of embroidery threads and silk ribbon that I'm using on my current CQJP blocks.  There is also another little stack of beads that didn't fit in the other case.  Lastly, you can see my Hussif, which contains the basics of all my sewing tools, and which can also be used separately as a mini-needlework pouch that fits in my handbag. 

Front of Hussif
I posted much more about my Hussif when I was making it back in 2009.

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Here is the inside of the Hussif now.  Assorted needles and pins on the left.  On the right, small embroidery scissors, some bone sewing implements and laying tools, a tatting shuttle, and a micron pen and needle threader. 

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The left flap opens out and reveals rings to hold thread or in this case, silk ribbons.  The pocket under the pincushion/needle area is where I keep my set of Sharon Boggen CQ templates (my favorite, other than the old Dritz scalloped ruler that is in the scissor pouch), and the pocket on the right I use to contain miscellaneous bits.  If I'm using the hussif separate from the big satchel, it might contain the block that I am stitching on at the moment.  

The bit of lace towards the left is actually a small pouch that contains my thimbles and the green velvet strawberry underneath is filled with emery to smooth rough needles.  

Altogether, the hussif measures about 8" x 6" x 2" when folded and about 8" x 18" when unfolded.  Small enough to drop in my (large) handbag, but large enough to contain the basics I need when working on a simple CQ block or piece of embroidery. I like the fact that I can also use it in the larger satchel as well without having to come up with other solutions for holding the miscellaneous small stuff that goes with most stitching projects! 

The big Needlework Satchel fits neatly in my suitcase or could be used as a small carryon bag by itself if I choose to.    If I use it as a carry-on, I'll put the pouch with the large scissors and the Ott Light in my checked bag, so I don't lose them to the TSA!  I'll let you know how it all works when I come back from April's Slow Stitching retreat in New Jersey! 

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