Monday, February 18, 2019


It's always an honor and treat for me to participate in a giveaway, so when my friend Geraldine Wilkins @livingwaterquilter (I can't wait to meet her IRL someday) invited me to test a pattern for her, and participate in a blog hop, I "hopped" at the chance.
In fact, I made Geraldine's "Dena's" Heading Home quilt design in April 2018! Didn't I do a good job of keeping it a secret like she asked? I may have shared a few photos, but nothing that would give away her cute design.
Trimmings from blocks, while on a May quilt retreat with Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild.
This is Heading Home. It finished at 55" X 55".

I like this design, mostly because it's foundation paper pieced, a technique I thoroughly enjoy. Don't ya love that precision when stitching on paper?

Being a little contrary, I chose to use different fabrics than the Island Batik Fabrics suggested by Dena. Since 2018 was my self-imposed "year of no fabric-buying," I worked entirely from my stash.

I didn't have any trouble coming up with colorful prints for the Y blocks, or solids for the Wild Goose Chase blocks.

I had a whole bolt of Painter's Palette solid white for the background of the Y-blocks, so those weren't a problem either. I was a little more challenged when it came to Wild Goose Chase background fabric.

I took a risk by using a black and white graphic print for Wild Goose Chase blocks... and failed, falling short of having enough fabric to complete two rows. No amount of searching online uncovered more.

So, two rows of goose blocks have different backgrounds. You probably wouldn't have noticed if I didn't point it out.

I managed to come up with stashed fabric for a quilt back, using an Amy Butler print and an inserted strip of Blueberry Park.
As always for me, domestic machine quilting was lots of fun. I used these 50-weight Aurifil colors. 

For the flying geese designs I straight-line quilted with a ruler. I also quilted straight lines on both sides of the Y-block design, and then free motion quilted swirls between the lines.

For this giveaway, Dena is offering my US ONLY blog-readers (so sorry international friends!) a chance to win this stack of 10"-square "Blossom" prints from Island Batik.

I'll choose a winner Friday, February 22.

Comment, and make SURE I have a way to reach you to tell you if you've won. For my last giveaway, I had to try three times before coming with a comment that I could reply to! A couple of you missed winning!

If you'd like more chances to win one of these...
Island Batik "Blossom" jelly roll
Island Batik "Blossom" scraps
... go to these places to enter: 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Been Cruisin'

Living in a retirement city as we do, we hear a lot about cruises from people who frequently go on them. One line dancer-friend told me she's been on 30 cruises!

So, to find out what cruising is all about, from February 2 to 9, Dan and I cruised for the first time.

Our friends invited us. Well aware that Patty's pre-retirement job was as a tour director with cruise experiences, we knew we could count on her guidance as we made plans.
Friends, Greg and Patty
Our biggest challenge was at home though, making arrangements for Hogan, our 15 years/4 months old dog. Quite honestly, when we decided to go, about eight months ago, we didn't think Hogan would still be with us. We're extremely grateful that our son-in-law was available to stay at our house and assume dog-care responsibilities while we were away.

On Saturday afternoon, February 2, after driving to Miami, we boarded our 2,850-passenger ship. Our cruise took us to four ports in the Eastern Caribbean:
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • St. Thomas/St. John's Islands
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Nassau, Bahamas

This was our stateroom. Compact, but with generous closet and drawer space.

We had no regrets whatsoever about paying for a room with a balcony. Both of us spent time there, and it's where I was able to keep up with my Beth Moore Bible study, A Woman's Heart.

Starting out, we all wore Sea-Bands. I'd not heard of them, but learned they are readily available at Walgreens as a means to prevent sea-sickness or nausea. A package includes two elastic knit bands, one for each wrist. Each has a white "button" that's meant to be positioned over a pressure point on the inside wrist. I don't know if I get seasick, or if the Sea-Bands work, but I never felt queasy when we were on the slightly-rougher Atlantic Ocean side of the islands, or when we were onboard the ship's smaller "tenders" (life boats) riding to a port's dock.

The Equinox captain is 40 year-old Captain Kate McCue, the only female captain of a "mega-ship." We saw her several times out-and-about on the ship.
Instagram picture of Captain Kate with her hairless cat, Bug Naked.
When I was line dancing to the Cupid Shuffle, Captain Kate jumped in next to me to dance along!

Her daily public announcements always had us giggling. She had a humorous explanation of the differences between a boat and a ship. Just before we left the Port of Miami, she shared info about the weather, when we'd arrive in San Juan, and other information. She ended by saying, "We'll be underway shortly. Just as soon as I find the keys in my purse." 

Once we were underway, I was glad we were on the port side (deck 9) of the Equinox for this view of the famous Miami Beach. 

We cruised all of Saturday and Sunday, traveling at about 28 knots, and early Monday morning arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's known for it's charming pastel-painted houses. 

In each of the four ports, we took an excursion, most often choosing to do a bus ride city tour. At San Juan's historic Castillo de San Cristóbal we saw this large iguana. 

Our evening shipboard view of San Juan was lovely.

Another overnight of cruising found us the next morning at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

As we rode one of the tenders (the smaller orange-colored, 120-passenger boats) to the dock, this was our view of the Equinox. It's 15 decks high with indoor and outdoor pools on top. There's also real grass growing where passengers putt golf balls and play boccé.

From the dock we took a ferry excursion to St. John's Island, followed by a bus tour of St. John's that included a stop overlooking Trunk Beach. As lovely as this appears, much of the island still shows the still-unrepaired effects of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.

Our third port of call was Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Again, we rode a tender from the ship to then board a bus for stops at a: 1) cigar-making shop; 2) coffee shop; 3) chocolate shop; and 4) the Blue Mall
Cigar-aging humidor
Cigar-aging humidor
 I loved the look of this furniture at the mall.

This is an inside view of the impressively thatched mall roof.

I got a kick out of this... what I deduced to be a cell phone tower disguised as a palm!

Our last stop was Friday (just five days ago!) in Nassau, Bahamas. 

Dan and me in Nassau
Again, a city bus tour gave us a good overview of the area that included a stop at the Queen's Staircase. It's a 66-step staircase carved through limestone by slaves working from 1793-1794. It was used as an escape route from Fort Fincastle. 

We also stopped at John Watling's Distillery where we sampled rum... and a piña colada.

A stop at one of Nassau's beaches afforded us a great view of the harbor. Those are five docked cruise ships of which the Equinox was the smallest!

I was sorry to see that all the port cities and surrounding areas - except for the resorts - looked impoverished. We heard more than once that these islands haven't recovered since Hurricane Irma.
Departing Nassau
While onboard, we were treated royally, enjoying five-star meals and excellent service in the Equinox's Silhouette Dining Room. This is the wine rack - as art - making quite a statement.

We also had tour of the ship's kitchen, and a backstage tour. We attended four excellent shows: female vocalist Jayne Curry; Elysium; a silk aerialist duo; and a comedian.

We are still marveling at how hard the 1,200 crew members work - long hours for months at a time, all while glowing with friendliness and smiles. We can't pay enough compliments to our attendants Kumar, Dave, and Ali.

It was wonderful to get away and spend time with our friends, but we think 2,850 is too many people to travel with. I doubt another cruise is in our future. Still, I'm glad for the chance to have a better understanding of what everyone talks about. Cruising is a world apart from real life. 

And of course, who doesn't want to get-away to somewhere warm(er) in the winter? I bet my Iowa friends, who are experiencing a relentlessly cold, snow and ice-covered winter would appreciate any kind of get-away! Linda

Friday, February 8, 2019

An Old Quilt

As many of you know, I've been making quilts pretty much since forever. I started my first quilt in 1977 when I was a 24 year-old stay-at-home mom. After borrowing two quilting books from the library (so few were available then!), I cut into our daughter's outgrown baby clothes - with scissors! - and began hand-piecing.

I continued to dabble in quiltmaking, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that I began making quilts in earnest. In 1994 I was one of the early World Wide Web users through my job at Drake University in Des Moines. During breaks and lunch, I visited online chat rooms, and made the unexpected but exciting discovery that I could get to know quilters from all over the world! Our quilting chat room was Kaffee Klatch. Interestingly, many of those quilters also worked at universities and colleges.

You might imagine how exciting it was to actually meet in person, one of the first quilters I met in the chat room! That happened in 1995, when Deb from Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska) visited Des Moines for our quilt show. This is Deb and me when we met for the first time at that show. We stood in front of one of my quilts, a Tumbling Blocks quilt I'd made for my then 16 year-old son.

That Kaffee Klatch chat room is where Deb and I came to know one another better, swapping quiltmaking advice, and deciding to do a block swap.

So, it was with great pride that I machine pieced coffee mug blocks to mail and exchange with my online friends. This is the "Coffee Time"quilt I made in 1996 that hung in our kitchen for many years. And yep, that's me about 20 years ago.

Fast-forward to January of this year, when I went through quilts to select those I would offer for sale during Quilting Guild of The Villages' quilt show and "Boutique." (See my previous post about the quilts that sold, and those that will be donated.)

I came across the Coffee Time quilt that has been stored in a pillowcase for at least eight years. It's looking quite the worse for wear. 

You can clearly see what has happened. Colors have bled! Presumably this occurred when the quilt was folded and fabrics were pressed on top of one another.

The stain on the left is really telling because it's actually a checked print stain! It's exactly the same print as the faded fabric in the mug! I'm deducing that these fabrics, made in the mid-1990s, just aren't as colorfast as those we use today. 

I was so proud to have thought to embroider a "steam" feather coming from one mug. It's also stained blue from some other print. 

The quilt back was pieced with fabric strips where stains can also clearly be seen. 

This blog post is meant not only to share what can happen to a 23 year-old quilt made with old fabrics, but to document what I shared with these quilts - a unique, then-new, online relationship! Quilters worked at Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska), the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and Drake University. To this day, Deb remains a very special friend with whom I often FaceTime.

This is what I've done with the quilt. I sewed three sides together and am tossing fabrics bits, threads, and batting pieces into it. 

When it's full I'll sew closed the fourth side and donate it to an area shelter for cats and dogs. Pet beds are a great way to recycle all the fibers from a sewing room. 

I am sure my block swap friends will approve of what I've done with this old quilt. Thanks for the memories. Linda

Monday, February 4, 2019

Managing Quilts

I shared in an earlier post that I was putting 33 quilts into the Boutique, to sell during Quilting Guild of The Villages' Showcase of Quilts.

Twenty-four of those 33 quilts were returned to me. Though I'm happy about the quilts that were sold, it's appears that the newer ones, made in a more modern style with brightly-color fabrics, are what people preferred.

One of the quilts that sold was "Prism," finished in 2015. It appeared in the Jacksonville Quilt Show, and the 2017 Quilting Guild of The Villages Showcase of Quilts where it earned a second place ribbon. I double-batted it, and home machine quilted 42 different designs.

It's the quilt I priced a little higher thinking I wouldn't mind getting it back. Ha, ha. That's what I get. I'm gonna miss this one. 

This one also sold, a block of the month set in a modern layout. Lots of free motion quilting in this one too. 

Rainbow Rounds sold too, and was just finished in 2018.

This little 16" X 22" quilt, made with 1930s reproduction fabrics also sold. It was a blue-ribbon winner at a Des Moines Area Quilters Guild show, made during my traditional quiltmaking days in Iowa. 

I doubt I earned what the quilts were worth, but who's to say?

Of the returned quilts, I snagged nine to donate to charities this year. They're ready for disbursement.

I've designated the remaining small quilts as "pet beds."

As a charity project, Big Cypress Quilters put fabric scraps, threads, and batting bits into bags made from home dec weigh material. I think these quilts will sew together nicely into "bags." Then, when they're nearly full of fluffy stuff, we'll sew the fourth side closed and take the beds to a local animal shelter for cats and dogs to lie on.

One of them will lay on the prettiest, Amish-style, hand-quilted bed.

It sorta makes me sad to see these quilts go away, but I must keep reminding myself that I can't keep them all! It's more important to spread the love, right?  Linda


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