Friday, July 30, 2010

Last Friday of the Month Flaunt

We're settling into a routine with our daughter and family living with us until around August 15. Thus far it's been Jill, Celina and Tay. Beginning Saturday, Maher, their husband/dad will be here too. Then, if all goes well, the family will move into temporary, furnished housing in Overland Park, Kansas while their house (don't know if it's really theirs yet or not!) is being updated, and Celina starts middle school (sixth grade) on August 17. That start date seems terribly early to me. In Iowa, schools wouldn't dare begin to have classes until the Iowa State Fair is over! That's August 22.

Because we're in a routine, I'm getting a little creative time during Tay's naps. I managed to finish stitching July's seventh block in Willowberry Design's (Cheryl Goss's) "Under the Sea" BOM. As always, it's cute, and easy to color and stitch. I've finished it just in time for the release of the August block on Sunday!
Eleven year-old Celina likes spending time in my basement sewing room. Who wouldn't, what with bins of colorful fabric, and bits and bobs of this and that to create anything one's heart desires?! She's scrabbling together strips and scraps to make a collage-y thing that she's yet to determine what it will be.

While she's busily playing, I'm in the same sewing area, digging through a large box full of a decade of saved blue jeans. I've decided to upcycle old jeans to make Marie-Madeline's Route 66, 12-gore skirt. Twelve gores means picking out jeans with a backside large enough for the flare of each gore! Who would ever think that it's desireable to have "big butt" jeans!
Celina suggested I could ask my larger girlfriends for their old jeans. We dissolved into giggles trying to figure out how I would diplomatically make such a request. Thankfully, I discovered that Mr. Flourishing Palms' old jeans have just the right backside width.

That's been about it for creative productivity this week. But it's worth the sacrifice of my time when it comes to this adorable little guy. This is what I get to see, Tay in his travel bed, when I'm the one who gets him up from his nap. He awakens so cheerfully!Disappointingly, this is the guy who's been our challenge during the family's stay. Six year old Hogan is a mixed breed (beagle-chow-chow) dog Jill rescued from a shelter in Kansas City. Hogan's been with us since Jill began working in Australia about three-and-a-half years ago. We love Hogan to pieces, and he's generally pretty friendly... except when it comes to very small children. Knowing Hogan had been abused, we speculate that at one time he was mistreated by a child. As much as we have tried to gentle him into accepting Tay, it hasn't happened. This fence is one of two barricades that separates him from crawling Tay.

Let me leave you on a happy note... This is one of the comments received as an entry in my recent giveaway. Agus from Argentina offers this funny:

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day
but I couldn't find any...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Time with Grandchildren

Thank you to those of you who have inquired about my family's arrival and visit. I had hoped to post sooner, but our Internet access went down! After four years, our modem died at the most inappropriate time with Jill needing access to handle all sorts of business, and converse with her DH who is still in Australia (until the end of this week)! It been frustrating to say the least, but I expect regular access by tomorrow.

With Jill, Celina and Tay's arrival my days haven't been much about sewing or stitching. We're having some great times together. These are just a few things we've been doing.

Celina and Jill tried out the new basketball and hoop their first day. Being outdoors in the natural light seems to help one's body adjust to the 15-hour time difference.

For Tay, there's a swing in the backyard, and he took to it without hesitation!
Amazingly, their air cargo shipment of personal items made it from Australia to our house before they did! Inside one of the boxes was Tay's jumper which we were happy to set up for him. Get a load of those legs!
He's also fascinated by the quilt I made last week. It tickles me to no end that he's attracted to the various bright prints scattered across the top. He lays his hand on a design and "talks" to it, repeatedly returning to a couple favorite prints. Aussies will note, I hope with pleasure, that I bought the kangaroo toy next to him. This little Australian will not soon be allowed to forget where he came from.And about that 15 hour time difference... I'm surprised to say it, but Tay seems to have adjusted the most quickly. It was just a couple nights that he was awake for a while, with crying turning into babbling playtime, fussiness, and then sleep again. After less than a week, he's on the same schedule here that he was in Sydney. Celina turned it all around quickly too. Jill though is having a tough time making the switch. She's waking up at 2 a.m., trying to return to sleep, but then getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. Then, by 3 p.m., she can barely stay awake to carry on a conversation. Poor thing. It's especially wearing, being nearly six months pregnant.

Celina and I spent a half day in the sewing room, making fabric bookmarks similar to these. She's already using hers in a new book, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan.

Celina and Tay met their second cousin, Esme, who is a month older than Tay, but much more petite. You can also see who has more hair. And Tay's already had a haircut!

My 80 year-old dad came for a visit Sunday and was glad to meet Tay for the first time.

Oh, we're all just so glad, and feeling very blessed, to have them near us again.

Monday, July 19, 2010


This is the week we've been waiting for. Our daughter Jill, and her family are moving back to the US! This is the first time in five years Jill has lived in the states. She left the US single and is returning a wife, and a mother with two children... and another on the way.

Until they buy a car and find a place to live (in Kansas City), the family be staying with us for several weeks. That means my blog posts may be a smidgen less about my "flourishing palms." I intend to spend as much time as possible with them, giving particular attention to hugging, snuggling and playing with Celina and Tay. I can't wait to get my hands on these two sweeties!

They will arrive here after having sold all their belongings; packed and sent only three boxes of stuff here; lived in temporary, furnished housing in Sydney (Australia); and been in transit for 40 hours, including an overnight in Los Angeles. All that followed by the big adjustment to the 15-hour time difference.

In anticipation of Tay being understandably unsettled by the time he gets to our house, Jill asked if I would sew a "lovey" for him. Her idea is to have a little something, other than his thumb, that he can use to comfort himself. She wanted a lovey that was inexpensive, and could be made in multiples so they'd never be without one.

The 16" X 16" loveys I made aren't much in the way of cuteness, but are all about being tactile. One side is a brown, corduroy-looking Minky-type fabric - soft with a plush, directional nap. The other side is ivory flannel. It's bound with satin binding. Cutting and sewing them was a mess with lots of ravelings and fuzzies all over my sewing area.
Satin binding isn't fun to sew either. But since I'm in the habit of binding quilts with machine-sewn mitered corners, (refer to my binding tutorial), I did the same with these loveys. They should be durable through repeated machine washings.

Now, four loveys are awaiting Tay's arrival.
While I spent several hours sewing loveys, Mr. FP was outdoors in 90-degree heat putting a new rim and net on our long unused basketball hoop. A new basketball is waiting for Celina's arrival.
We have heaps of anticipation at our house!

I'll conclude this post with one of the many funnies I received as comments in my recent giveaway. Spamgirl left a sewing-related joke.
  • What's the difference between a woman jogger and a sewing machine?
  • A sewing machine has only one bobbin.

Vacation Bible School

Last week, at Lutheran Church of Hope, I was a co-leader (Shepherd) for one of the six sections of sixth-graders at Vacation Bible School. The theme: "Raise the Roof."

This is how I spent my mornings with at least 1,199 other kids of Jesus. The kids are responding to the question, "Who do we raise the roof for?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Giveaway Winner Announced

The true random number generator picked the giveaway winner.
The 126th comment came from blogless Linda (I am completely impartial, even to other Lindas!) of Cudahy, California, who will choose her favorite Marie-Madeline Studio pattern and fabric. Congratulations to her!

This week, while you were entering this giveaway, I sewed the Marie-Madeline Studio Route 66 skirt pattern. (Note: This pattern is on sale right now.) To be perfectly honest, I struggled to choose three fabrics that I thought would look nice together.

I began with this (at left). Several people liked it, including the lovely ladies at Marie-Madeline Studio, but I knew I wouldn't be comfortable wearing so much pattern. That's just me.

When I auditioned a more subdued fabric to replace the blue stripe, I was much happier with it.

This morning I wore my skirt to church and heard several nice compliments.
I really like this pattern: how fast it is to make; how well it fits (size 6 for me); and how feminine I feel wearing it. I'll definitely be making this one again and have been considering cutting the 12 gores from old, saved blue jeans.

Thank you all for entering my giveaway, and for your jokes and one-liners. You should have seen - and heard - me reading them. I had some out-loud chuckles, many big grins, and a few groans. I'll share some of these funnies with you in future blog posts. Thank so much, everyone! Special thanks to Marie-Madeline Studio. It was a blast!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Pattern and Fabric Giveaway


This is me. Well, the lower half of me. I'm modeling the skirt I made on Saturday and wore to church Sunday. The pattern is Street Fair Skirts, designed by Marie-Madeline Studio, and made from "Zesty Zinnia" fabric by Michael Miller. I love my new skirt, and how comfortable and feminine it feels to wear.

Now, courtesy of Marie-Madeline Studio, you have a chance to win a pattern and the fabric of your choice! Yes, it's a giveaway!

You can have up to three entries. Here's how:

1. For your first entry, leave a comment telling me which one of the 15 Marie-Madeline Studio patterns you'd like to win.

2. For a second entry, just tell me a joke - a clean joke, please! Whether you have a knock-knock or a one-liner, leave the joke and punchline in a comment. We all like a good giggle, or even a good groan, if it comes to that. (Does everyone know why the chicken crossed the road?)

3. For a third entry in the giveaway, post about this giveaway on your blog, linking back to my post. Then return here and leave a comment saying you've blogged about it and where we should go have a look.

Here are a few other giveaway details:
  • This giveaway is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world. Yay! (This includes YOU, my Aussie friends!)
  • You have until midnight (Central time, USA) Saturday, July 17 to enter your comment(s).
  • Be sure your comment includes your email address, so I can tell you if you've won.
Easy-peasy, isn't it?
Now that I'm hooked on Marie-Madeline Studio patterns, I'll be making this Route 66 Skirt pattern next.

Enjoy looking through all the other Marie-Madeline Studio patterns for aprons, girls' clothing, and darling bags, totes and accessories.
If you win, these are just some of the yummy Marie-Madeline Studio fabrics you can choose!
Have fun browsing Marie-Madeline Studio website, or check out the Marie-Madeline Studio blog.

Entries/comments accepted until midnight (Central time, USA) Saturday, July 17.
Go! Browse! Comment! Win!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Finish

It didn't take much time spent free-motion quilting for me to figure out I love my new Pfaff Grand Quilter. It's going to see a lot of use!

I used Superior variegated rayon thread in the top and 50-weight Aurifil in the bobbin to quilt this 44" x 56" quilt.
Though I quilted a pretty simple design, it was the perfect pattern with which to familiarize myself with the Pfaff - how it feels - and to work out the proper rhythm.
It's kinda like riding a new bicycle. You already know how to ride one, but you need to feel comfortable on the seat, changing gears, and controlling the brake!
I'll say that it did feel different than quilting on my Bernina, and certainly that's attributable to the Pfaff being an industrial machine. But the difference is definitely in a good way. I seemed to be able to manage the quilt much better, with less hand and quilt repositioning. That surely has much to do with the extra 1-1/2" of throat space. I never would have believed such a small amount of additional space would give me so much more control.
For the first time, I think I am actually looking forward to free-motion quilting, a step in quiltmaking process I usually dread. Gosh, I'm even planning and anticipating quilting the next quilt!
As always, I think spiral binding adds pizazz to the outside of a quilt, especially when the fabrics are vibrant colors.
The quilt back.

On another note... Friday morning I drove about 20 miles north to attend a small quilt show. Of course, I couldn't leave without strolling through vendor booths. I was surely grinning like a fool when I saw this booth, filled with patterns from Australian quilt and stitchery designers! Here are patterns from Kellie Wulfsohn of Don't Look Now.
I also saw patterns by Melly & Me, Janelle Wind Collection, Cinderberry Stitches, and Rosalie Quinlan, among others. These are all sold by Treasured Threads, a company based right here in Iowa! I actually found a $14.50 pattern I purchase for $16 in Australia in May. How could I have known?

Please be sure to visit again sometime this coming week. Here's a big hint why...

I'm hosting a giveaway.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Machine and Friends

This week has started with a couple fun activities. First, after much research that mostly involved talking with helpful quilting friends, I decided to purchase this three-year old Pfaff Grand Quilter machine through Craigslist. The seller was offering it along with a stitch regulator and Inspira quilt frame, neither of which I wanted, so I was very please to learn I could purchase the machine separately.
Though the needle threader is missing (I never use one anyway) and the telescoping thread holder is damaged, I think both are easily repairable and in no way impact the mechanical aspects of this machine. Since oiling it, putting in a new needle, and making tension adjustments, it's running like a champ. I couldn't be more pleased with my bargain purchase.

Of course, being anxious to free-motion quilt on my new machine, I had to whip up a quilt top! After seeing this one on Rene's blog, I wanted to make it too. The original design is a pattern called "Red Centre" from Material Obsessions. After doing some math, I made my 44" X 56" quilt from 4" (finished) blocks.You can see that I made it with bright, kid-friendly prints, and my all-time favorite "bullseye" white-on-white print from Timeless Treasures. In the past year I've used nearly 7 yards of bullseye in quilts! Sadly, I have only 1/3 yard left.The second fun thing this week was to visit several Iowa quilt shops with my friends. Susan, Michelle, Kim and I went to the Quilting Connection in Ames, Block Party Studios in Nevada, and Quilter's Cupboard in Ankeny.
Being the practical sort, my purchases were needed fabric for quilt backings and binding, machine needles, and a big hunk of Hobbs wool. The latter is for my next new adventure in free-motion quilting with that Pfaff.

None of us went overboard adding to our stashes, but still had a great time together. Chatter was pretty much non-stop, except when our mouths were occupied with lunch or a treat from Dairy Queen. What a blessing it is to have friends with whom you can share your life and be yourself. Thank you, Buds!

Like I said, "Fun!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Unlocking a Gazebo

During my recent three-week stay in Florida, I walked the dog through Kate Jackson Park in OldeHyde Park, Tampa.

This pretty gazebo attracted my attention, and as I got closer I came to a surprising realization. The stuff dangling from the top...
 hundreds of keys! House keys, car keys...

What a clever way to upcycle something that's otherwise completely worthless... except maybe to a burglar!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to Americans everywhere!
God bless the USA, and protect our troops stationed throughout the world.

Yesterday, July 3, was our community's annual Independence Day parade.
On this hot summer day, passing by us were the usual antique cars, antique tractors, scouting organizations, church groups, Za-Ga-Zig Shriner vehicles, local dignitaries, fire department vehicles, and politicians.

Among the political types walking in the parade was our former governor, Terry Branstad. He was Iowa's 39th governor, and our state's longest-serving governor, from 1983 to 1999. After leaving office he worked in education, but in 2009 he left that position to again run for governor. When I saw him walking down the street, I brazenly called out, "Governor!" and motioned him over for a picture. I appreciate that he obligingly and hastily paused to do. On November 2 of this year, we hope Terry Branstad is again elected governor of Iowa.

On another patriotic note...

In October 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center, our area quilters guild decided to donate all the proceeds of our annual mini-quilt auction to the American Red Cross.

I bid on and won this 15-1/2" X 15-1/2" I Pledge quilt made by one of our guild members, JoAnn Belling.
Each year I hang it up, and pause to admire Joann's handwork.
Happy July Fourth!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Periwinkle Stars Progress

Because I'm taking my own "Ten in '10" Challenge" (see right menu bar) very seriously, when I traveled to Florida recently, I opted to take along my Periwinkle Stars quilt project, instead of the traveling Candied Hexagon quilt that has been to Australia with me twice. Periwinkle Stars is on my Ten in '10 list; Candied Hexagons is not.

This is the Periwinkle Stars hand-pieced quilt center measuring 80" X 90". It has been this way for more than a year.
I've been hand-appliquing four borders that will bring the quilt top size to a whopping 92" X 102"!

As you can see, two appliqued borders are ready to be hand-pieced to two opposite sides of the quilt center. I'm liking how this is going to look.
In more than 30 years of making quilts, this is my first try at adding hand-appliqued borders. This is also the first time I've designed my own borders. I can see problems ahead!
Getting the vine to wrap prettily around each of the four corners will not be easy to figure out. Also, I started hand-appliquing the borders using the needleturn technique. Since then I have discovered how much more I prefer back-basted applique. So I'm now making excuses not to work on it.

Anyone have some corner inspiration, or motivation for me?


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