Friday, June 23, 2017

Florida Home Anniversary

Today, June 23, marks five years of living in The Villages. We've all heard it said, have probably even said it ourselves, and I will say it again, "I can't believe it's been five years!"

Time is whizzing by.

I blogged here about move-in day which was a remarkable experience. We'd barely unloaded the U-Haul truck and closed the garage door before Tropical Storm Debby blew in, causing several days of non-stop rain. Being Florida newbies; and well-remembering the 1993 floods in Des Moines, when the Des Moines drinking water supply was contaminated, and floodwaters overflowed the rivers, also threatening West Des Moines' drinking water; we were sure we would again be sandbagging, and dealing with flooding in our new home!

Happily, we were wrong. We've become accustomed to the frequent rains, and that rainwater just flows down through the sand.

The Villages, now comprised of more than 80 villages, continues to be a beautiful place in which to appreciate the outdoors - the weather and the scenery. And the best way to enjoy it is traveling along at about 20 mph in a golf cart, in the golf cart lane or on a multi-modal path...

The approximately 150,000 residents do a pretty good job of sharing the road, though with us being seniors, often having visitors to The Villages, and with more than 100 miles of golf cart paths, there are occasionally unfortunate accidents.

This is one of my favorite stretches of the multi-modal path paralleling Buena Vista Boulevard (on the right).

Round-abouts for automobiles are common in The Villages so anyone who's new to the area almost certainly needs an education as to how to properly drive through, or make a turn on a round-about.

As far as I know, this multi-modal path golf cart round about on the south side of town is the only one in The Villages.

There are dozens of golf cart tunnels that allow carts to pass under state and county highways.

A favorite activity when grandchildren visit is to drive through a tunnel and hit the horn to hear the "beep-beep."

Everywhere you look, we see lush vegetation and flowers. Especially in the common areas, The Villages does a wonderful job of showing something blooming, year 'round. This bed is just outside one of the more than 70 recreation centers.

Big Cypress rec center is where I go each Tuesday afternoon to meet with quilters. There are now 20 chapters of Quilting Guild of The Villages, with more than 1,100 quilters in the guild.

May and June are months when the crape myrtle are in bloom. They're gorgeous, and make me think of Iowa's lilacs that I miss so much. But disappointingly, crape myrtle doesn't have a scent. 

We live in a golfer's paradise which is ironic because neither Dan nor I golf. But we appreciate the beauty of each one.

The wildlife love the golf courses too. This is a dance of sandhill cranes. They are so big! In this picture, Mother Crane is following three of her colts. (Yes, I looked up the proper terms for a group of cranes, and baby cranes.)

We have lots of wetland in the area too. Homes located on those are highly desirable, with lovely views of marsh and wildlife.

Twenty-four-hour staffed guard stations are throughout The Villages. The people working in them are always friendly, help when someone needs directions, and monitor resident and non-resident vehicles passing in and out of residential areas. 

We have to admire that the city planners who laid-out the area, left live oak trees intact. Roadways, multi-modal paths, and golf courses have been designed around live oaks so we can continue to appreciate the beauty of them with their dripping Spanish moss.

Fire stations look good too. We appreciate that a couple times we've been able to drop into a station with our grandchildren where they get to see and climb into the driver's seat of a fire engine. Around here though, it seems that the EMS vehicles are most often called into service.

Major automobile intersections are beautified with flowers...  and fountains.

Here's where we live. I snapped this picture at about 6:30 in the evening, just after a heavy rain. The sun came out and made the house seem to glow. 

Our Bismarck Palm has grown into a show-stopper. It's certainly taken over my front sewing room bay window view! I love hearing those huge fronds (they're at least 72" across!) clack in the wind.

It's been great to live here five years now. I love my home, and sewing room set-up. We're thoroughly engaged in activities, and keep ourselves happily occupied. We have good health - Dan more so than me, but I'm doing very well now - so we''re anticipating another five good years.

We are blessed! Linda

Monday, June 19, 2017

Florida Quilt

I'm happy to say that my Florida Quilt pattern is now available in both print and digital formats!

Thank you to neighbor-quilter-friend Becky who tested my pattern and made a quilt of her own. She also accompanied me to take photos of our quilts. The cover photo was taken along Lake Sumter, at Sumter Landing.

Becky's quilt photographed well and showed off her lovely walking-foot quilting using the #28 serpentine stitch on her Bernina.

I've been thrilled to use this backing on our quilts. It's just too-perfect!
State Cotton, The Sunshine State by Windham Fabrics.

My friend Lora is selling the Florida Quilt pattern in both print and digital formats, a fabric kit, and backing fabric (separately) though her Etsy shop: DragonflyQuiltworks.

Locally, the printed pattern can be purchased from me, or at Sharky's Vac 'n Sew in Wildwood.

With fair accuracy, I'm predicting that Florida will be of most interest to Floridians. 😉🌞🌴Linda

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Picket Fence Pin-Basting

I've had my Picket Fence quilt top finished for more than a year. What put me off finishing it was the thought of pin-basting this huge 98" X 112" quilt top!

After talking with local quilty friends about it, we figured that I would need eight tables - at any of The Villages rec centers - to lay it out. Several possible rec centers came up in conversation, but whenever a rec center room is open to quilters, it's understandable that those quilters are using the tables! Such was the case when I went to the weekly Big Cypress Quilters on Tuesday afternoon. Eight tables were not available. Even a quick stop at another rec center proved fruitless. So I returned home, determined to see the job done.

After thinking about emptying my sewing room, it occurred to me that I really didn't want to pin on the laminate floor, for fear of scratching it. So, I turned to our open living space to determine my best option.

I decided to empty the chat room. It has tile floor, and it's where the dining room is supposed to be. Since we don't have a dining room set, that space is our designated chat room with two chairs, console table, rug and silk plant.

The tile got a good mopping, and the baseboard were cleaned too - an unanticipated side benefit of doing choosing this as a pin-basting spot!

Another good thing is that the painter's tape sticks nicely to the tile. Getting the tape to adhere to plastic table tops has previously been a problem.

Backing fabric is a silver and white wide back called "Spot On Wide" by Robert Kaufman. I purchased it from my friend Lora's Etsy shop: here. I made the quilt sandwich with Quilter's Dream Cotton Request.

And so began almost three hours of crawling around on the tile. In this picture I'm showing that I'm armed with my Kwik Klip and ready to tackle this monster.

As much as possible, I sat on my bum, though after a couple hours, that got sore too. (groan)

I completely emptied two tins of one-inch safety pins - well over 1,000, I'm sure. I store my straight pins separately from my curved pins, in separate tins. Now they're all in this quilt, and I'm still a little short of them. As I remove pins, I'll have to reinsert them in another place.

It's apparent that I have my work cut out for me! Another quilt is currently in the Janome, being FMQed, and now that mongo pile-o-quilt in the front - Picket Fence - is also waiting for attention.

My summertime physical activity is pretty obvious, isn't it? Quilt-wrestling! Linda

Friday, June 9, 2017

Routine Stuff

We're in a routine around here as we've settled into the month of June with some much-needed rain. Several days worth. It's very good because we can see the yard greening-up, and the area ponds filled again.

Dan turned 65 years old last Tuesday. He's thrilled about being on Medicare now! We celebrated his birthday by eating out, which we seldom do. We went to Oakwood Barbecue, a place that serves decent barbecue. But our favorite barbecue is from Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, just outside of Austin. OMG!

This week saw me at line dancing, dance workout, Big Cypress Quilters, and Ukulele Player Club. I was even quoted - very poorly - in a brief article in the Daily Sun newspaper: "I made my own case to protect it," Hungerford said. "It can be hard to find a case that you like, so me being craft, I cut out my own pattern."
At home, I'm sticking to my vow to finish quilt tops that have languished for too long on hangers in the guest room closet, and have made some forward progress.

First: Last week I pieced a quilt back from my stash - the most satisfying way to come up with backing fabric.

Then using that backing, I sandwiched and pin-basted this string-pieced scrappy half-square triangles quilt top that I finished last December! It's now about one-fourth quilted.

I'm going with quilting designs that travels so I can make this a quick finish. I plan to donate it to Project Linus.

Second: Making another quilt back. After specifically going shopping for backing fabric that coordinate with the Urban Trek quilt top, I found this half-priced yardage (I finished the bolt) at our local shop, Sharky's Vac and Sew. The fabric is a Robert Kaufman print called "Mod Tex." Can you see the seam where I matched the print pattern?

Third: I'm ready to sandwich and pin-baste Picket Fence. This 98" X 112" quilt top has quite a history now! I started it when I went on a sew day with my Kansas City friend, Carla. That was November 8, 2011! (Check out my long hair then!) I continued to work on Picket Fence with West Des Moines quilting friends on a retreat with Hope Quilters in January 2012, and finally finished the top in February 2016!

To buy a king-sized Quilter's Dream Request Cotton batt, I patronized a new local quilt shop, The Quilting Palette in Lady Lake. I now have all the parts together to pin-baste this ginormous quilt that will fit our king-sized bed. Finding a place to pin-baste this is gonna be a real challenge! 

This was my second visit to The Quilting Palette and my first purchase. While the owner carries a few solids - mostly Moda Bella - she doesn't carry modern fabrics. She's apparently catering to traditional quilters. Still, I'm always happy to buy locally whenever that's possible. 

That said, to get Painter's Palette Solids (made by Paintbrush Studios) I had to shop online. When had their 20 percent off sale over Memorial Day weekend, it was a good opportunity to stock up on my new favorite brand of solids. These are absolutely fabulous - the hand, the colors. Can't you see how satiny they are? My stash has grown by 17 yards!

I've always been a pre-washer, so when I washed these I was very happy to discover that Painter's Palette Solids do not run! The color catchers came out as white as they went in. In a odd sort of way, I find it relaxing to press and fold fabric after washing. I labeled every piece "PP" with the color name. Yep, I've got a PP color card now too.

A little diversion has been crocheting. For a reason. My dear friend Patty (@iowagrammy on Instagram) has asked me to teach her how to crochet by making dish cloths. I've knitted all my own dishcloths, so I'm attempting to find an easy crochet pattern on Pinterest.

This one, which is crocheted on the diagonal from corner to corner, is really pretty, especially with variegated Sugar and Cream.

But it's a little complicated for a newbie. If you can recommend a simpler dishcloth pattern, please do!

Now, back to the routine -  making progress on finishes, practicing the uke (Can you overdo that? My left wrist has been sore) and generally appreciating good health and a good life. Linda

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Scraps of Life

I appreciate everyone's comments, and a few suggestions about the edge of the Janome throat plate being a deterrent to smooth quilting using a ruler. Thanks to a long-time quilter, and new(er) friend, Judi, I have a fix! 

It was as easy as removing the thick throat plate, and putting back on the regular throat plate! 

The thickness that caused the lip is no longer there.  

And, by dialing down the stitch length to zero, there is no interference from the feed dogs while quilting with or without a ruler!

Here's my test quilting - straight lines with a ruler, and then without a ruler. It doesn't look like much, but it quilted very well. An easy fix. If only all of life were that simple.

After many weeks of working on and off on a pattern for Florida, I had it printed over the weekend.   

I spent quite a while machine-sewing the pages into a booklet (rather than use staples), and putting each into a plastic bag.

My best intentions for a perfect pattern went awry when it was brought to my attention that I'd neglected to include binding yardage on the back cover. Sigh. Well, at least the information is there, even if it doesn't look very pretty.

On a happier note... Even though I had to miss the Central Florida MQG annual quilt retreat (we were in Kansas City), I have some wonderful friends who let me know I was missed. A friend, Karen T., gave a little presentation telling me that I am appreciated, have taught them a lot, and I was missed at retreat. She then handed me a bag of goodies:
  • a green cupcake that I am assured has "fiber"
  • MQG koozie that snuggles around a glass of Lutheran "juice," permitted at the retreat center
  • an iPad or iPhone holder made with Central Florida MQG fabric from Spoonflower
  • Cbubbles Soaps awesome homemade soap with lemongrass, spearmint, coconut, palm, and soy
  • Velcro-backed pin cushion, for the sewing machine, made with Central Florida MQG fabric
  • a pin, a chocolate, and microwave popcorn
Thank you, Karen, Cindy, and Dee for making these things! You know how to make a quilter feel special!

I've added to our place settings of Fiestaware through another Macy's sale - 50 percent off! We have ten fruit bowls now. I put one to use right away with vanilla yogurt and fresh Florida blueberries.

"Urban Trek" at 62" X 77" is a quilt top. The design is by Heather Black (Quiltachusetts on IG) from the March/April issue of Modern Patchwork magazine. I'm very happy with the Kona solids I picked: Iron, Cerise, Glacier, Pond, and Sunflower. Quilting design options should be fun!

With Urban Trek ready for quilting, I now have four quilt tops to finish into quilts. My summer resolution is to get all four quilt tops quilted before beginning any new pieced project. Though I will take WIP pieced projects with me when I'm away from home - like when I'm with Big Cypress Quilters, or Central Florida MQGers at Sew-Ins - at home sewing room time is this.

I don't particularly like this quilt which has a sort of space-y, orbit-y feel to it. I'm quilting blob-ish designs that really mean "anything goes." When this quilt is done, it's going directly to Project Linus. I'm hoping some teen will think it's great.

Recently, I've been communicating with two different quilt guilds to give a domestic machine quilting presentation and workshop in August and September. (See "Teaching Schedule" above, if you'd like to know more.) Surprisingly, both guilds have already filled a 20-person workshop, and both guilds are trying to make arrangements for workshop number two! I'm honored, and thrilled, especially as I've missing teaching lately.

My ukulele is still my go-to pick-up toy for engaging in something different. Perhaps I'm playing it too much though as I've developed soreness in my left wrist from trying to make my fingers form difficult chords like D, E, and B-flat. Maybe practicing for an hour or more at a time isn't the best way to go about learning. Shorter practices with FMQ in between is my new plan. Linda


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