Sister Road Trip – Bitter-sweet

The geographic distance between us makes us thankful that we no longer rely on the Pony Express to trade packages. And the distances give us a growing affection for the Wright brothers and the “flying machines” legacy they left us all – especially as we needed those machines to rendezvous in St. Louis in order to drive into Illinois for a family funeral.

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Uncle Bruce – history lover, story-teller, outdoorsman, bibliophile…

We sisters love every minute we have together but this trip was bitter-sweet in the face of losing our one-of-a-kind Uncle Bruce. We say he was one of our very own Second Hand Lions (if you’ve seen the movie you will understand this even better) because of the grand adventures and extraordinary fun he and our Uncle Bob always concocted for us and our cousins – and later, for our children.

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Some of the cousins from Texas, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Arizona. Others were too far away to come – like in the Middle East. And we missed them.

Uncle Bruce was a gifted cartoonist and held Lincoln in high regard.

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His “Little Bear” Lincoln Bear shirts were prized possessions for us!

It’s a great loss for our family. And for everyone who knew this kind, devoted, fiercely patriotic Marine Corps veteran who loved his family and his Savior.

Huddling together in the winter weather reminds us that family closeness is important in this cold world!

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We were all born Graham girls. These dear aunts have offered many kindnesses to us through our lives.

He loved to hunt – sometimes with his binoculars and camera and sometimes with bow and arrows. So the cousins banded together to honor him with an arrangement that held arrows.

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The other sister and I determined to get one of those arrows to our dad, who at age 94 was unable to attend the funeral for his youngest sibling. The problem with going from concept to reality in this case was due to the fact that the arrow wouldn’t fit into either of our suitcases. After brief consultation we decided it wouldn’t work to convince TSA agents that one single arrow doesn’t really qualify as “dangerous” materials. They are funny about stuff like that.

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The arrows were a personal touch.

Now, I’m including this instructional episode because I’m sure that sometime in the future many of you will need to know how to solve this dilemma.

Should we cut the arrow so that it fits into the suitcase? Neither of us happened to have a saw with us. So we hatched a late night plot to mail the arrow home to the Colorado ranch – if only we could find a mailing container that would fit an arrow. This took us to the wrapping paper aisle at the large chain “general store” and also involved the taping of Styrofoam cups to each end to prevent the arrow from poking through.

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Step #1 – Make sure the wrapping paper roll is longer than the arrow. Use thread to measure if you don’t have the arrow in the store when purchasing the wrapping paper.

 

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Step #2 – use plastic cups to protect ends of wrapping paper and then insert the arrow.

 

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The post office lady didn’t think it strange at all that we would be mailing wrapping paper to ourselves.

 

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The arrow hit the bull’s eye – undented and intact. Success!

It worked! The arrow – an important memento for our dad – is safely in place! What sisters can accomplish we when concoct together!

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Small town often hold big treasures!

And on the way back to the St. Louis airport we took a quick detour to find Quilting on Aisle 3 in the little town (with some great Victorian houses) in Virden, Ill. We got some hot tips from Trudi about the heat activated pens they carry and discovered that the three friends who run this shop are willing to do custom quilts! You can find their web site HERE.

The quick trip made me conscious once again that our time together here is so brief and so fleeting. We do well to soak up the pleasure of every minute.

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Farewells touch us deeply.

And now we are home safe and sound – and so is Uncle Bruce!

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The uncles always “keep the light on” so we knew we were always welcome! Makes me homesick for our real Home!

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Fight the Chaos Friday – February edition

The Sister and I have a Challenge going this year. We are going to fight the chaos and conquer the clutter in our sewing studios. I call it “studio” because that sounds more like serious business whereas “sewing room” sounds like an option. It’s a mind game with myself. She has a bit of an advantage since she thinks and even breathes in a more orderly fashion than I do. But, I’m giving it my best shot.

So, we started the year off with a once-a-week list called Fight the Chaos Fridays and last month it focused on:

  • Put away gifts and Clean the work area
  • Clean machine, including a new needle and Put a new blade in the rotary cutter
  • Cut fabric that has accumulated on cutting table into usable sizes
  • List and post projects and due dates

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER shots of my “work area” i.e. cutting table.

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Remember I cropped out the really messy part.

 

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Amazing how this open space motivates me!

You can tell already it is a necessary challenge. And you will be more convinced as the year moves along and you see the other BEFORE pictures I will post – as often as I can stand the embarrassment.

And you’ll agree that it’s a good thing Sister was here for a visit last month to get me off to a strong start. Here’s some more of the work area AFTER we fought through the chaos.

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And an empty ironing board is actually quite handy.

While Sister2 was here we went on a hunt to find creative storage for the “useable pieces” we cut from my accumulated scraps.

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We stuck gold! What a pile of treasures!

 

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The Colorado sister’s creativity tells us that 2 1/2″ squares can be tucked away in so many places – even a little chicken feeder!

 

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My 2 1/2″ squares fit perfectly in the little drawers of the tin space cabinet. Thank you for the gift, sister!

And now, as you can see above, there is a place at the end of my vintage ammo box to hang our Spools for Tools project (get pattern HERE) which holds my favorite rulers – like the skini minis by Martelli with their wonderful non-slip backing.

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A metal vintage film reel box is just the right size for the Colorado sister’s 5″ squares!

 

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And this vintage metal filing drawer is filling up with my 5″ squares. My own “pre-cut” charm square stash!

 

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The 10″ squares (some call them layer cakes) will be tucked away in this portable school desk I just couldn’t resist.

 

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This beautiful spool cabinet, found on her Florida road trip, is just the right size for Sister 2’s 10″ squares. (and some 5″ strips she added to the equation.)

 

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For now my 2 1/2″ strips will nestle in this metal mesh lantern so that I can see them in their light, medium, and dark glory.

The whole cutting process to get control of accumulated scraps has been addictive! Probably because we have been using some templates made by Martelli. The non-slip backing grips through about 8 layers of fabric and you can turn the template without the fabric slipping! If you want a set of non-slip templates to help you cut those “pre-cut” sizes, send me an email (SistersAtHeartMilesApart@gmail.com) and we’ll give you a special Stitching Sisters price. Look HERE under Template for Precuts for details.

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These non-slip templates make cutting your own “pre-cut” sizes so easy!

So, how’s the rest of my Fight the Chaos Friday list?

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I still have a little work to do as far as cleaning my machines. And my project To Do list is right on the Notes section of my calendar, although some of the due dates are a little flexible.

Remember, it’s a year-long effort so celebrate the things you check off each week and don’t worry about what is still left to do. Trust me, honey, it’ll still be there when you find it on our challenge list in a few weeks.

We’d love to hear from you if you think of things we have missed. And we’d love to see pictures of your progress!

Here’s the list for February:

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Since it’s the first Friday of the month, you can get your FREE February printable checklist HERE.

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Sister Time 2017 (with brother, too)

It’s not often enough that we sisters are in the same state at the same time. So when we are, I soak up every minute we have together like it’s a life prolonging magic vitamin. This time the Dietz B&B was the southern-most stop in the Escape the Winter road trip for the Colorado sister and her rancher husband.

To double the fun, our brother and his wife made the trip down from their house hunting in Atlanta for the Kick Off weekend. Having three of the four siblings together is a rare pleasure. I missed our other cowboy brother, I admit.

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Our brother, Bill, and his wife, Susan, soon to be closer to us as Georgia residents.

We ate Italian stew and Mexican green chili (recipe at the end of this post), played raucous games of cards, visited the USS Alabama,

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A sewing machine on board! The tailor’s quarters. Note that he sewed under his bunk.

 

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Three of the siblings in the Marine Corp quarters of the ship – thinking about our dad, a WWII Marine Corps veteran.

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The reason they needed Marines on a Navy ship.

went to church together, and watched football. Then brother Bill and his wife, Susan had to return to the real world while we partied on.

Once the first weekend was over Sister 2 and I got down to the business of organizing my studio. We needed to legitimize our trips to antique malls and thrift stores.

We found great organizing treasurers to help us with our Fight the Chaos Friday Challenge,

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This stuff really is useful. Stand by for more details next post.

as well as other treasures,

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We thought it was a great idea but after texting our daughters we stepped away from the display case and back into reality.

and we went to a Glenn Miller Band concert.

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It was a trip back in time.

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Cindy knows how to do 1940’s glam!

 

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We did no swing dancing but it was a fun night.

And we stitched! A 10-minute runner. (more on that later.) And we cut scraps into useable sizes. (more on that later, too.) We also gave attention to the row quilt we are working on. Once again – more on that later.

And then she went home. Sorry for the sad ending. Please pass the tissues.

 

Green Chili Pulled Pork Bowls

  • 4   pounds pork butt or shoulder
  • 1 can green chili (4 oz)
  • 1 large onion — chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic-chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro — chopped
  • 1 jar salsa verde

Dry seasoning:

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 4 teaspoons cumin

Serve with:

  • Monterey jack cheese shredded
  • Corn tortillas
  • limes — cut in wedges
  • Sour cream

To the slow cooker add onion, garlic, green chilies, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and salsa.

Season each side of the pork with the dry seasoning and place in slow cooker fat side up

Cover and slow cook on high for 4 -6 hours until tender

Shred with two forks and mix well with the sauce.

Serve with fried corn tortillas or chips, cheese, sour cream and lime wedges.

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Let the New Year unfold!

FL Sister id tag

I’m not sure if I’m excited by the possibilities of the new year or if I’m unnerved by the possibilities. My state of conflictedness may have something to do with how Day #1 of 2017 started.

 

On New Year’s Day at about 7 o’clock in the morning I got a message from my neighbor with some pictures of our house attached. (We were driving home from the Georgia mountains.)

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Dietz says the back yard is more important to me than the house. That is true. This was hard.

That’s right. At about 4 o’clock that morning they woke up to strange whistling in the air and lots of debris hitting their house so they had a family meeting in the bathtub. (That’s a safe place to ride out a storm, in case you haven’t experienced this kind of event in person.)

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This and 9″ of rain in 3 days is not a good combination.

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Those little shards of glass can travel quite a distance from the blown out windows!

 

Let’s just say that the tornadic activity did not translate into good news for the old live oak trees in our yard. So the next several days have meant getting to know tree service people – and our home owners insurance people.

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For some reason the storm left this branch on the deck and snatched the cover from our grill. Go figure!

 

Looking back, I should have known that the holidays would be anything but normal when I sent to the dentist right before we left on our Christmas trip and found my dentist in strange garb. Evidently his family loves the movie The Christmas Story and designated him to wear the Ralphy costume for a day this year. THAT should have been a forewarning that unusual things were coming our way.

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He really is a good dentist. I promise you. And his family has great humor. Obviously.

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Is there a striking resemblance? you decide.

Flash forward to our return home:

When we finally faced the chaos in person, it helped me to remember the fun of the previous week when we spent Christmas in Minnesota with our daughters, son-in-law, mostly grownup grandchildren and their – ummm – friends. Should I say boyfriend/girlfriend? Love interest? Significant other? I’m never sure. I include that category because we got to go on a triple date to the movies with these fun people – such good sports!

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They promised to cover my eyes if we came to a kissing part!

As we faced the tornado cleanup, we kept our smiles in place, in part, because of the great time we had celebrating:

amazing food, fun games, Christmas eve candlelight service & family pictures

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Why does Minnesota have to be SO far away?

the white elephant gift exchange (which included one poor soul who received his own video game which had been snatched from his room with great slyness) and other delightful gifts …

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That leg happens to belong to my just-turned-eighteen-so-he-got-to-vote grandson!

decorating cookies

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She painted a VanGogh version! I barely did stripes!

and visiting my granddaughter’s favorite antique shop. I found this sweet set of hot pads which needed embroidered. That size project is great for airplane rides!

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The old stuffing had to come out before the stitching could start.

It’s probably safe to assume that the rest of the year will continue to unfold in much the same way as these last couple of weeks – hard and easy, laughter and chaos, excitement and disappointment, celebrations and surprises …. and stitching.

I’ll have to admit that I’m hoping for less of some and more of others. What are you hoping for in the coming year?

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This daughter, our first child, is an amazing woman! (I know – that’s sappy and I’m okay with it.)

PS – Thank you, Ryan & Mandy and Joby for all your work to host this celebration! And nice to meet you, Tony!

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Happiness is seeing your children smile! (Even when they are grown ups!)

 

 

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Fight the Chaos Friday – January edition

The Colorado Sister has a natural bent toward organization and intentionality. And she has never backed down from a challenge to my knowledge. So, it’s only natural that she would set in motion a challenge to conquer the clutter of our studios during this next year. And since titles need to have some kind of alliteration, we are calling this challenge Fight the Chaos Fridays.

 

Here’s how it will work:

  • Take some BEFORE pictures of troublesome, chaotic corners of your sewing space. Okay, let’s be honest, I need to take a panoramic shot from the doorway to capture the whole thing.
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REALITY ALERT!!! This is the view of my cutting table from my ironing board. And I cropped out the really messy part.

  • Make a list of the areas that slow down your effectiveness the most. Those are Priority One places that impede your progress, clog your creativity and stifle your stitching. Conquer the Clutter!
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PRIORITY ONE!!! I need to find a safe landing spot for this Christmas present from Dietz. Make room for vintage drawers! (And the mess under the cutting table has my attention, too!)

Every month on the first Friday, Sisters will post four areas to focus on during that month. Some routine items will be repeated several times throughout the year for those of us who need to be reminded. A couple times a year there will be time for back up work but you can add that more often if you prefer. We wanted to give room to personalize the process based on your existing clutter (We all have it, dear. It’s okay to call it what it is. Breathe deep and think of where we will all be at the end of the year!) so every once in a while we will include time to address your personal Priority One list.

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This magazine rack is waaaay beyond capacity. Think of the hidden inspiration under this pile!

  • Print off the little monthly reminder we are giving you at the end of this post and check off your progress. We’ll tackle this challenge like we eat an elephant – one bite at a time. One checkmark on the list every week is plenty – we’ll have a whole year to work on this.

 

  • Take some AFTER pictures as you conquer each area. This will help you stay with it along about the first of May when the outside To Do list kicks into high gear too.

 

  • Every 1st Friday post the new Fight the Chaos  list that you’ll find posted here.

 

We’d love to hear from you if you think of things we have missed. And we’d love to see pictures of your progress!

Here’s the list for January:

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You can get your FREE January printable checklist HERE.

Together we can Fight the Chaos!

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Fresh Start for the New Year

Yes, I know the new year of 2017 isn’t here yet.  Goodness, we haven’t even had Christmas!  But while you are finishing that last minute shopping, you might look ahead and see what’s coming.

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It’s coming.

I’m going to make a fresh start of it… but not

  • diet
  • exercise
  • recycling
  • reading
  • closet cleaning

or anything harder that “changing my pillow wraps” every month.

This year, since I don’t have to pack them up for the shows, I can be on time, every time with a fresh monthly pillow wrap.  Seasons do change and winter will fade so I want to be ready.

December is on my chair as we speak…er, write.

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December pillow wrap

I’ll be ready for the “passing of time” with the January hourglass wrap.  All the wraps have the darling “deconstructed” patches in some way.

Dec. Pillow Wrap

January Pillow Wrap

And of course, the month of love has to have a heart somewhere!

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February Pillow wrap

I’m on a roll but if you really are “pillow-less” on your couch you can turn your hand to the other projects from the same collection.  The Spring Window puts it all together by the season.  Great wall hanging and you don’t have to worry about changing it every month.

SPRING window Bedited(1)

Ready for March, April, May.

Last but not least, there are 3 different projects altogether which you can do individually or send to a friend as a post card.  Winter Post Cards come in sets of three.  Each set has a table mat, a towel, and a tea cozy.

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3 in 1 post card patterns

Enjoy your holidays and the coming seasons in any and every room of the house.

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12 Days of Quilting Christmas

FL Sister id tagI’ve been inspired by the clever and creative adaptations of the 12 Days of Christmas that float around in gift shops and on social media.

This is our version:

 

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Hope your Christmas celebration is filled with lots of reasons for joy!

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The Button Box: recommended therapy

FL Sister id tag

This has not been the most productive month of my quilting, stitching life due to some kind of lingering skjoxpeddlfkdjf-ITIS. And for much of the last 30 days my life has centered around this box:

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So glad to have them but so ready to see them disappear!

You can imagine how quickly that got to be ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

Since a variety of medicines and medical approaches were not bringing relief very quickly, I knew for my sanity’s sake I needed to find some kind of therapeutic distraction. Something sewing related, not too strenuous, not requiring much focus. (Even 2 Tylenol can make me fuzzy)  hmmmmmm  I needed to trade the Kleenex box in for a different kind of box!

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So much fun from such a simple thing!

The button box was in chaos! Okay, I admit – the buttons were not even in a specific box. There was a box, a couple of tins, some jars and some plastic bags.

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What treasures would I find?

The whole sorting by color and setting special ones aside goes back to the days when our great grandmother would keep us occupied with the button box.

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Grandma’s button box looked much like this. And so did our mother’s.

 

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Some of the vintage buttons were divided by color into old milk jugs

 

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The special vintage buttons still on their cards were tucked away in this special wooden box.

 

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I love the pearly sheen through this old canning jar.

I cannot explain it but I feel better already.

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Have you tried button box therapy?

What are your tips for keeping your buttons easy to access?

 

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Thanks for the Memories

CO Sister id tagOver and over I hear the best way to be happy is to be thankful.  Let’s just say I’m very happy this month as we take a specific look at what we are thankful for.  Sisters are VERY near the top.  Fabric is in the first paragraph.  And those two things brought me back to one of our first pattern lines that is still a best seller.  The Thank You, God series brings back so many memories.

We were learning to write (and read) each others directions like in the Pilgrim apron pattern, which I still tie on wrong.

final TG apron photo for printing

Can you see the back in the mirror?

We were learning to “blend” our color choices and terms, like in the bread wrap pattern. What did you really mean as reddish-brown?  Which green is leaf green?  Yellow or Gold?

TG bread wrap

Love that this idea is double sided.

We were learning to photograph, like on the table runner.  How many times did we go to this table and still not have any food there?!  Ok, so we are still learning this one, but we are quilters not photographers.

TG table runner

Thankfully, this is not the photo we ended up using!

We were learning to use our computers & technology, like posting these table mats to our etsy store.

TG place mat

Almost too cute to use.

We were learning how to do two for one sizes, like the casserole carrier, and get both in the same pattern (later this was the concept for our topsy-turvey patterns that have two in one from the Linens and Old Lace collection).

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Both 9 x 13 and 8 x 8

We were learning which ideas to keep, like enlarging the figure for a papoose cuddle quilt, and which ideas to let go, like making a whole pilgrim village!

papoose1 for FB

Cuddle up cozy in flannel.

So, sister, not just this month but all year long.  Thanks for the memories that we have and those that we are making during this business process and life in general.

What quilting memories are you thankful for?

Categories: Patterns and Projects, Seasonal Stitches | Tags: | 1 Comment

I’m a “Prepper”–Are You?

I’m a “prepper” but with no bunker or ammo or supply stock (other than fabric).  I’m not prepping for the end of the world but I am prepping for the first winter blizzard. Here in Colorado it is very hard to believe that it is even fall let alone winter. But a dear friend (I think she is still a friend even though she totally destroyed the order I had just put into the sewing studio. :/) has given me BAGS of fabric and “stuff” to go through.  I don’t mean little grocery bags, I mean trash bags! Six of them!

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Bags of friendship!

There were yardages, starts and stops of projects, kits, scraps, books and one whole bag of Christmas fabric.  It is enough to keep me busy all winter.  I’m ready for a little snow on the ground to keep me in the house. If you know me at all, you know I have never met a shade of green that I didn’t like but would you believe that in all those piles there was only ONE piece of green.  Guess I’ll be OK working with the bag of fall colors. 🙂

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Lonely Green

All of us have projects that we start and then put away for a while (Tell me I’m not alone in this).  A couple of these were put away for good reason (not working out as planned), but some I’m sure were just not on a deadline.  So I’m thinking about imposing a deadline on myself to finish these up.  I can’t let my sister in on the decision because she knows my procrastination skills are excellent. The first special treat to work on are the squares of embroidery that are completely finished. They await a special setting that will of course use some of the bag fabrics.

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Embroidery blocks

I know a little girl that is REALLY in need of a new quilt for her big-girl bed.  She might like the mouse, or the bear, or the A-B-Cs.  I know that she would like some fabric out of the purple bag.

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Girl without a quilt.

Other pieces are not my favorites. As my mom would tell me, “Don’t say “Ugh!”  until you’ve tried it.” But I’m prepping for winter not for a character building session, so I’ll pass them on to be used as backs for a charity quilt or book bags for the kids.

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Ugly fabric. Ummm, backing pieces.

There was even a challenge inside the bags and Sister knows I can’t resist a challenge.  I’ve seen the block in magazines but never attempted it before.  Someone made an excellent start on the 3″ nine-patch blocks set into hexagons and even sent along the extra pieces.  I can just see this finished with maybe some very large wool applique on it.  Back to the design board after I finish this little start up.

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Fun in a bag.

I do have one last confession to make.  I’m keeping something just because.  I have no plan for these blocks.  I have no purpose for them.  They don’t match anything in my house.  But who wouldn’t want to look at butterflies in the middle of the winter and that’s what I’m preparing for.

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Wouldn’t they look great with black sashing?!

I’ve got extra needles, now if I can just find a sale on thread before the snow flies I’ll be prepped and ready to be house-bound for a few days.  How are you prepping for winter?

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