Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Remembering Ma-Ma

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my grandmother - and this was before her homecoming...for you see, my life has been engulfed in her love and I am surrounded by things that remind me of her -- in almost every room of my house and every corner of my mind...

Take a walk with me and let me show you a few things about my Ma-ma.

First of all, in case you might be confused on how we say Ma-ma down here in the south...it's phonetically pronounced maw maw ... at first glance you might be tempted to pronounce it differently, but as my mother explained to me, it's the dash that is the clue to correct pronunciation. (grin)

As long as I can remember I've been surrounded by love. I had very loving parents and grandparents, as well as a great grandmother on my dad's side (his mother's mother) and a great grandfather on my mother's side (her mother's dad, my Ma-ma's father). If that were all it would be enough. God truly blessed me by placing me in this family.

The photo above was taken at my grandmothers when I was 5 going on 6, and by the candy jar in the photo I know this had to be taken around Christmas 1965 even though the photo was printed in the spring of 1966 because that candy jar only came out at Christmas! In fact, I have that candy jar and it continues to come out at Christmas! I also have the quilt I'm wrapped up in, it was made by my Ma-ma, and she gave it to me when she went into assisted living and then a nursing home in just the recent years. When my great aunt Luna died two years ago at the wonderful age of 105 I inherited several of her quilts - at that time I photo documented the family quilts in my possession and have them recorded in my webshot album I have other quilts that my grandmother made me that I will always cherish.

There are sooo many stories to share, but I want to share what I have around my house that reminds me of Ma-ma....something I inherited from her...show and tell! Every time we'd go visit my grandparents Ma-ma would walk us from room to room and show us anything she had new since our last visit. Little things were important to her...so in keeping with that, let's walk through my house beginning in the studio where I spend the majority of my day!

This quilt rack hangs near my longarm. If you've ever looked at my studio photos you may recognize this. What you may not be aware of is I call this my corner of faith, family and inspiration. The snow crystal block was pieced by Ma-ma's mother at the turn of the century (not 2000, think 1900!) She died at an early age so I never knew her, but I did know my Papa, he died when I was 12. The photo of the three beauties was taken in 1944...

To the left is my great aunt Effie, I have inherited a quilt or two of hers. She taught me how to embroidery and file my fingernails. I know, that sounds funny, but she bought me my first nail file and I still have it. Aunt Effie was the oldest of the three sisters. Ma-ma is in the middle, and my great aunt Stella is on the right. Don't they just look like angels! Hum...right now they are among the angels, as Ma-ma was the last of her immediate family...there were four brothers too. Anyway, this photo and the quilt block are just some of my inspiration when I come into my quilt studio...

Next there's gentle reminders of my grandmother in my kitchen/dining room. The table was my grandmother's dining room table. I inherited it when she moved into the assisted living facility a few years ago. I can remember many a family Thanksgiving dinner at that table, and especially when, as the oldest grandchild, I was able to 'move up' to the grown up table and not have to eat in the kitchen with the little cousins!

Moving on to my living room...These rocking chairs were my Ma-ma and Pa-pa's (paw paw) and were purchased prior to my mother's birth, sometime around 1934-1936. Countless hours were spent in these wonderful rocking chairs, and countless more to come. They are most comfortable. More than that, they are memorial -- I can see Ma-Ma rocking the babies of the family -- me, my sister, my three cousins, and even my two sons...if only the rocking chairs could sing the lullabies...

This is Ma-ma's kitchen table - the one we ate most of our meals on, and the 'little kids table' at Thanksgiving. I have it in my living room with a few knick-nacks inherited either from Ma-ma or Aunt Luna...

On the table I have a framed ad dated 1934 concerning the price and purchase of this table. Ma-ma was very good about documenting things (I think I inherited that trait too!)

The blue bowl was given to me several years ago by my grandmother, she particularly wanted me to have it. I'd forgotten the story but was reminded this weekend by my mother as we reminised about our family....seems Ma-ma had given it to her sister Effie, and inherited it back and wanted me to have it. In the bowl are little balls of cotton, both brown and white, that in recent years grew in my Ma-ma's flower garden. She remembered picking cotton as a child and decided she wanted her own little bushes so she nurtured them and gave everyone she knew some of her cotton. When she went into the nursing home she was very concerned about who would get her cotton bolls, I told her I would be the keeper of the cotton - how very fitting that I was a quilter who benefited from this humble plant....

Moving on to my bathroom -- The jar of sea shells was collected by my Ma-ma in Oct 1993 when my mom, dad, and sister brought her to join my little family of four at a rented beach house in Florida. Ma-ma was 81 and had never been to the Florida beaches...she picked up sea shells endlessly! We all did. I will always remember that trip! Oh, and the little jewelry box where I keep my watch and ring was also hers.

I don't think you can read it, but see the masking tape on the sea shell with the date on it? I told you, Ma-ma liked to document things! After her return home from the beach she went to a local antique store and purchased the jar and carefully arranged all the shells as well as purchased the little etched glass bowl and carefully arranged the larger shells.

This rose is on Ma-ma's dining room table in my dining room right now - I brought it home from her birthday party just a few days ago...a gentle reminder that flowers fade, but love goes on forever.

Yesterday my mom returned to me two quilts I had made my Ma-ma... The first (not pictured) was one of my very first attempts at quilting. It was Eleanor Burn's Quilt in a Day Log Cabin and just a lap size. I made this teddy bear from the left-over fabrics - I'd been given it back, again, when Ma-ma moved, and it sits in my studio. Soon the matching quilt will join it...

This quilt was made by me for my Ma-ma on her 91st birthday in 2003. I was so proud of it, I 'd just learned to meander free motion on my sewing machine and I'd just had a weekend with Linda Taylor trying my hand at the idea of being a longarm quilter. It would be two years later before I purchased my A-1 Quilting Machine. My Ma-ma loved the red, white, and blue. She was very much a proud American, having lost a brother in WWII, patriotism ran deep in her veins. She loved God, country and family.

Ma-ma was proud that I was turning out to be a quilter. She loved it when I brought my quilts for show and tell, she was very good at remembering the names of blocks such as shoe fly, monkey's wrench and others. I was so pleased that once we purchased this house and my longarm that she was able to make a trip down to see my home and my studio. If ever I had love and support I can say it's been from my family. She has meant so much to me in my life...this simple little tribute is but a drop in the bucket - only a small glimpse as to my daily reminders around my home that I have indeed been blessed and privileged to have had such a wonderful grandmother whom I fondly called Ma-ma and who will be greatly missed.

One day the circle will be unbroken and I'll join my loved ones .... yesterday at the grave side service we closed with this, one of her favorite songs...

I'll Fly Away
Albert Brumley

Some glad morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have grown
I'll fly away
like a bird from prison walls have flown
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
to a land where joy will never end
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gallery Basket Class

Decided last night not to cancel my teaching obligation today and am so glad the ladies joined me today. It was a blessing to be surrounded by friends, to laugh, to talk, to share, to be able to teach a new technique and see their smiles as the project progressed. Thank you ladies for not only being great friends and students, but for being my tangible support group - the kind that can give real hugs, that I know represents all the cyper-hugs I've been blessed with the past 24 hours.

I can't express my gratitude and love to all who are uplifting me and my family in prayer...

Take a moment and enjoy the class photos! And then order a DVD and have your own fun!

Since the slide show sorta cuts out some of the photos you may want to go directly to webshots for the full view

Mrs. King’s Gallery Basket Class

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ma-Ma and Me

The call. The one you dread. The one you know will someday come. The one that takes your breath away and knocks you to your knees. The one that says "Karen, Ma-ma is dead". Thirty minutes ago. The words still have that hollow ring in my ear.

That's all I know right now. Don't know when, don't know how, don't know what the family will need to do. Just know that my precious 97 year old grandmother who I am so blessed that I was able to see last week, one week ago today, to celebrate her birthday is at this very moment being welcomed into the heavenly home, greeted by those gone before and being ushered into the very presence of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

A sad day for those of us left behind, a reminder that our time on this earth is short. A temporary separation, for I know I will see her again. Parting is sweet sorrow, but the hope of eternity softens the blow.

Jesus, thank you for the years you have blessed me, and my children, with a precious grandmother. Be with my mother now as she has lost her mother. Be with the rest of our family as we remember our joy of knowing her and what she has meant to us. Thank you Jesus that because of Your sacrifice on the cross for my sin that I too will meet You one day in Your glory and spend eternity with You and with all who have called upon Your name. Be with us now and comfort as only You can comfort. Thank you Lord for the friends who are already surrounding us with love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Humbled by this Honor

I just received a notification from The Daily Reviewer, that you, my wonderful faithful readers to this quilter's ramblings, have nominated The Quilt Rambler blog to be honored with a "Top 100 Blog" Award. I am truly humbled by this honor and thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to see what's going on in mine!

God is so good! Today has held several blessings. I can't share a lot of details at this time because of a 'non-disclosure' clause, but I have been commissioned to quilt a customer quilt that will be included in a future quilting publication!

We sang a song at church tonight that was based on this verse - Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

I give Him the honor and glory and thanksgiving for my good and perfect gifts!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Countdown to the Houston International Quilt Market and Festival

Sixteen days until Market (wholesale side) and Twenty-two days until Festival! Houston is truly quilter's paridise!

Oh I can hardly wait!! I love this time of year when 56,000+ quilters converge in George R. Brown convention center for non-stop fun, fellowship and SHOPPING!

Quilter's Paradise indeed! Literally hundreds if not a thousand or more exhibitors in the vendor mall - everything from buttons to batting, from sewing machines to longarm quilting machines, oh and did I mention fabric! ohhhh and thread! It's been said that quilters have a fabric stash while longarm quilters have a thread stash. I'm guilty of both!

But it's not just about the shopping - there are demos, classes, exhibits, and a fabulous quilt show with prizes in the thousands! The cream of the crop come to Houston!

For the past several years I have been involved in several online quilting groups and it's always been fun to try to meet up with my online friends at Houston and put a face to the name. As much as I love Market and Festival, I can't deny how much I love meeting people!

SO! For any of you out there in blogville that have Houston in your plans I want to invite you to stop by and say howdy! I'll be working in the A-1 Quilting Machine booth for both Market and Festival so stop by any time - but! If you want to meet other folks from around the globe then I've set a few time slots to do just that.

Saturday, 10/10 during Market, friends are gathering at the A-1 booth at 11 AM to take photos, give out hugs and exchange business cards, then those that desire will mo-ze on down to the food court and continue our fellowship.

Wednesday 10/14 is Preview Night for Festival. Again friends are gathering at the A-1 booth the last hour of the show (between 9 and 10) to have our meet and greet and decide on a place to go after the show to share a coke.

Thursday 10/15 also during Festival, once again we'll meet at the A1 booth at 11 AM, and have a real old fashioned hen party - I've made the statement that roosters are welcome too - quilting isn't just for the gals ya'know!

I'm sew excited about meeting up with old friends and making new friends. I can hardly wait!! Please come by and introduce yourself to me and others. Our A-1 booth is a hoppin place and we'd love to have you join the party! Houston knows how to have a good time!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taking Care of Business

I normally don't post photos of a customer quilt until the customer has picked it up .... but I just had to share this with ya'll (grin)

Yep, I'm still taking care of business. Being out of town two weeks in a row has certainly cut into my quilting time, but I worked until 11 PM last night and then finished this beauty up today and like I said, I just had to share.

I love what I do. I love seeing the creativity of others. I love being able to add to that with my creativity in the stitchin. It's like two artists working on one canvas. Hum, I guess that's really what it is!

My camera doesn't always give true colors, especially when I photograph in the evenings...but hey, I hang'em as I finish'em, don't clock in or out by the sun! This quilt is a beautiful shade of purple -- and you KNOW how much I love purple. Then when you add lime green...well, I couldn't ask for anything better! Ah, but I got it! My customer wanted me to quilt using hot pink thread -- another one of my favorites!!

Ya'know, more times than not I'm really wishing I could keep all the quilts that I get to work on. I know that would be silly, I certainly have enough of my own (some unfinished of course, but still lots of potential). I don't know. I guess there's really just a little part of me in a quilt...my time, my thoughts, my thread play...quilting gets personal ya'know. For me it's not about get'em in and get'em out. It's a part of my life, my time, and I guess if you think about it, my limited time here on earth....for we don't know really how long we have...I love what my friend Jamie Wallen says about quilting for hire (and in his case teaching and producing DVD's) "it's how I pay my rent here on earth" -- that translates, for me at least, that I don't quilt just for money, it's bigger than that, but I do need to make a living (grin).

Anyway...I'm just so grateful that I am able to do what I love and I hope help people accomplish their goals of a finished quilt....to be used as intended....again, to borrow a cliche, it's not a quilt until its quilted!

So take a moment to look at the close ups so you can see the hot pink thread (maybe if you click on the photo it will be bigger...not sure about that but it's worth a try). Oh, and be sure and look at the photo taken from the back, I always love to look at the back - kinda my report card...

I hope my customer thinks I've passed (grin) if not I certainly wouldn't mind keeping this quilt!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Celebrating Family

500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles Lord I'm five hundred miles away from home

I remember this song from my childhood...there was a time in my life when I was MORE than 500 miles from home, actually it was more like a thousand miles from my parents, sister, grandparents as a newly wed! Now it's more like a 500 mile round trip - much easier to make as I'm no longer that young woman raising two young'uns with my hubby in Tennessee... those were the days!

Ah, but that's not what I want to reminisce about today...today I'm thankful for the closer distance to my roots....deep family roots that have shaped me to who I am today (at least the good parts, can't blame my family for my mistakes, I've made those all by myself ).

In the photo above is my grandmother, we celebrated her 97th birthday this week. My younger sister is seated next to her, behind her is myself, next to me is my aunt who is married to my mother's brother, the next lady is also married into the family to one of my mother's cousins, and my mom is the cute one in pink.

We celebrated by hosting a birthday party at the nursing home. All the residents and staff were invited to join in, we had a beautifully decorated birthday cake and sherbet punch served on yellow or orange paper plates with coordinating napkins, cups and forks. The colors were beautiful as you can see in the table decoration in front of us - each table had a single orange-tipped yellow rose on the table. We told our guests that they were welcomed to keep the rose if someone at the table wanted it....obviously this met with satisfaction as there weren't any roses left on the tables at the end of the event (except the one we kept for our grandmother of course!)

I have to admit as wonderful as the day was it was also very difficult emotionally for me. A strong reminder that time does march on. I'm not the little girl baking cookies at my grandmother's house any more. Many, many pillars of my life are now among those faithful cloud of witnesses, gone on before to their heavenly reward. The empty place settings, how be it only in my mind, were a harsh reality as I fought to maintain my composure several times.

Our "party" was scheduled at 2:30 as one of the "activities" for the residents. At 3 PM a big burly of a fellow came in with a guitar...he had the sweetest voice as he sang many of the old time hymns. From what I learned he is an ER nurse and comes regularly to sing with the residents, yes, many many were joining him in song. He was such a testimony for Jesus. Again, difficult to maintain my composure as I joined in several songs that hold a special memory from my past.

I am counting my blessings that I was raised in a Christian home, from a long line of faithful believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Faithful family that shared the love of God through their love for one another that overflowed to others. Giving, compassionate, steadfast. Strong.


Can't put into words what that one simple word means to me. Many gone, many still here, many more to join us in the future. Boggles my mind.


Again, more to this word than my emotions can try to attempt to capture in words. Home is shared with so many - and I hope so many more as I turn my thoughts towards my eternal home...

I'm kind of homesick for a country
To which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
for time won't matter anymore.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you
and some day on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land -- Sweet Beulah Land

I'm looking now across the river
where my faith will end in sight.
There's just a few more days to labor.
Then I will take my heavenly flight.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you
and some day on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land -- Sweet Beulah Land

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stash Builders report

I've had a lot of fun opening packages lately! They have come from Barbara in NC, Theresa in MO, Laura in CA, Judi in OR, and Elizabeth in PA - so far...I know of a couple of more that should be arriving soon.

All this beautiful fabric has been generously donated by fellow quilters to be given to quilters from the Island Quilters Guild in Galveston.

A year ago today many of our guild members lost their homes - and fabric stash - to Hurricane Ike.
Many are still displaced and rebuilding their homes. Galveston folk are hardy, Texas folk in general are just that way. Everyone pitches in and gets the job done no matter what it is. It's been fascinating to see how the area is rebuilding. Have to admit it's been hard too, but folks around here had rather focus on the rainbow than the storm that caused it.

So enjoy the rainbow of fabric and thank you to those who have contributed - both of their stash and to all those who contribute their prayers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Work in Progress

I've been working off and on the past two days on this fabulous project, I can hardly wait to finish, but as hubby keeps reminding me - enjoy the process.

And a process this is! But I know it's going to be so worth it!

I'm sorta a speedy Gonzales (aka smoking needle) when it comes to wanting to make things...my thoughts have always been 'finished is good' -- well, I'm learning that sometimes rushing through things just to be able to check it off the to do list isn't always the best way to approach a project. Somethings just take time. My dad used to say, if you are going to do something, do it well. Actually I think it was more along the lines of do it right the first time because having to redo takes longer (grin). Being an instant potato sort of gal I'm having to really remind myself to be patient, to slow down, do it right, enjoy the process - that all this hard work is going to pay off and I'll have something to really be proud of....

Okay - so you ask - what am I making?!?!?! Well the photo above was the fun part at the end of a long day of cutting out parts and pieces, fusing that thick Pellon fleece in place, trimming to just the right size, keeping the labels on all the parts and pieces so I don't get confused....and then finally I could get to the fun part of embellishing a few of the parts.... parts for what!!!!????!!!!

I am learning sew much as I follow along with my newest favorite mentor Rosanne Campisi -- she's teaching me via DVD how to make a messenger bag. I've seen one of her originals, she designed it for Jamie Wallen and he carries it to all the shows and of course when he's teaching here in my studio. It's full of wonderful pockets - one for the iPod, one for the cell phone, a couple with zippers and a few more just for good measure. I have always loved bags and this is the bag among bags!

Jamie and Rosanne have teamed up for yet another quality DVD (she's the designer of Mrs. Kings Gallery Basket DVD that I've been enamored with). This one is 5 disks long plus a CD with PDF files for cutting and marking instructions. It's called Jamie's Messenger Bag and can be found at the same website as the fabric basket DVD.

Here's the front flap of my project!!

Notice the nice rounded bottom of the faux suede - I learned the secret to accomplishing that from the DVD (thanks Rosanne!) For the record, this is hand dyed fabric, a couple of pieces actually. Two of them were dyed last year when Jamie came for workshops here in my studio, and one that I will be using for the lining is from this year's workshops. I knew I was saving them for something special!!

As of tonight I've worked through 2 of the 5 DVD's - the longest ones because they included all the prep work. The sewing is going pretty fast and I love that I can have Rosanne on the TV in the studio talking to me and telling me what to do as I do it, and I love how patient she is if I have a question and need a review (rewind button!). It's like sewing with your best buddy. And I'm learning some techniques that make for better finished results along the way -- things I somehow missed in Home Economics (probably because I was talking!) I truly believe that once I complete this project that I'll not only be a better seamstress, but that I can take what I've learned and apply it to other bag construction (I'm a bag lady at heart!). I'm only half-way through but I do recommend this DVD without any hesitation!

I wish I didn't have to eat or sleep (or get back to other commitments) because I'd really like to finish up this bag. I truly hope to have it completed by the Houston International Quilt Market and Festival in October...several years ago I designed a tote bag that had a pocket on it with what has now become my logo (the butterfly). I enjoyed carrying it and meeting several of my internet friends (look for the bag with the butterfly!). I'm hoping this one will be completed and become this year's "how we will recognize karen O from Texas" bag. So with that in mind - here's a close up of my butterfly logo modified to fit the front pocket of my (soon to be finished) Messenger Bag! Stay tuned for more!

PS I forgot to mention my new LED light attachment for the A-1 in the top photo - it has a magnet and adds an extra light to my quilting area - in the photo it is the only light on even though I have two others mounted on the machine - I wanted you to see just how bright it is for such a little guy....I've been told that it will be fabulous for when I need to open up the throat plate to adjust timing, or even just having a better light to change the needle. It plugs in and has an on off switch. Available from A-1 Quilting Machines for $45 - should be able to fit any machine if you have a flat surface for it to attach...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Road Trip...Naturally Quilt Related!

As an A-1 Quilt Machine dealer I am privileged to be able to setup machines and train new customers on the use of their machines. This is always a joy to get to know fellow quilters as well as a fabulous excuse to get out of town!!

Wednesday we left on such a road trip to set up a new machine for a customer in Yorktown Texas. We decided to take the back roads and enjoy the Texas country side.

We weren't far from home when we decided it was lunch time and looked for a local establishment to refresh ourselves. We weren't disappointed! Bo's Bar B-Q and Sizzling Steak on Hwy 35 in Angleton offered us fabulous chopped beef sandwiches with home made chips. I can still taste the sauce! Should have asked if they bottled it.

Along the way I discovered a quilt shop in Blessing called Quilt Fabric & More and really enjoyed visiting with the owner, Aven, while I picked out some beautiful fabrics to add to my stash. For a small shop, only a year old this week, she had a really nice inventory. Several purples came home with me! If you are traveling in the area be sure to email her for her hours of operation. quiltfabric@wildblue.net I'm hoping to visit with Aven again at the upcoming Houston Quilt Festival, she promised to look me up in the A-1 booth.

As we adventured further down the road I received an email from my friend Susan, who also happened to be my FIRST A-1 customer....she was telling me of other quilt shops along the way....unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs when we went through Victoria so we didn't go on a hunt for that quilt shop....hated to complain about the rain because it has been so badly needed...figured we'd pass that way again someday and I'd take a little more time in Victoria.

As our afternoon was getting on into early evening we found our way to Cuero, which is near Yorktown, only a little larger. Our customer was 'in between' in a rural area and had suggested that we would have better luck with a hotel in Cuero than Yorktown. We settled into a local establishment and found a Pizza Hut for dinner. In small towns the quaint places are usually in the town square and they roll up the sidewalks between 5 and 6 pm, so pizza sounded better than McDonalds. Afterward we decided to wander around the Walmart that was next to our lodging. Wow, it's been a long time since I've been in a Walmart that wasn't a "super" Walmart. And they still had a fabric department!! Naturally I got lost there while hubby went to look at the movie selection....

An hour later (I kid you not) we walked out of Wally-world with fig newtons, a $5 DVD to watch on the laptop in the hotel room, and fusible fleece for my next project back home....(which I hope to work on this weekend, sneak peak...visit Jamie Wallen's website and take a look at the new DVD for Jamie's Messenger Bag - I got the DVD the first of the week and I can't wait!!)

Thursday morning, bright and early after a wonderful on the road breakfast at the local WhatABurger, we met our new customer, Gaye. She lives really way out there in the country, dirt road and all. Oh my goodness, it was soooo beautiful! As my husband said, the yard (as in multiple acres) was a squirrels haven -- the trees in this area are just gorgeous! Gaye has a wonderful 40 x 40+ studio separate from her home (with land to spread out, why not!) She has been a longarm quilter for 10+ years and has sold her first longarm and is upgrading to the A-1 Professional Favorite. We enjoyed our day with Gaye as we set up her machine and trained her on all the features, care and routine maintenance. I enjoyed looking at her quilts in the studio. She shared a quilt she is working on for the upcoming Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Quilt Show, she will be representing her county again this year. I'll be eager to see it when the rodeo comes to town in Feb/March 2010.

With thoughts of the rodeo we decided to head toward Yoakum for the evening, with thoughts of finding a friend of ours from our rodeo days when we were the Ben & Jerry vendor, Yoakum Packing Co., who has the best turkey legs in the south! We knew it would be dark-thirty when we arrived, but thought we could spend the night and visit him in the morning, perhaps bringing home some goodies in our cooler...with that in mind we looked for a good place to eat dinner and found Fat Albert's BBQ & Icehouse. Hubby said he thought he recognized it from a TV show about the best BBQ places...don't know it was the same place or not, but he said the BBQ chicken was great - I don't know because we were suppose to "share" but between my baked potato being so large and him enjoying the chicken so much I never got a sampling (grin).

We didn't really find a place that we thought we wanted to camp for the night so decided we'd hit the meat market another trip and headed on down to Gonzales to see for ourselves the town that boasted of the "first shot" of the battle for Texas Independence. We weren't disappointed, a quaint little town that I'd move to in a heartbeat. Upon finding our hotel we went in search of a McDonalds and the "Red box" - decided we could rent a DVD for a dollar, watch it that night and return it the next morning at breakfast! Why not!

This morning, after our preplanned breakfast and having read all the tourist brochures in the hotel room the night before, we decided that we at least wanted to visit the Old Jail built in 1887 which now housed a museum...

I thought I should have sent this photo to family and tell them that my husband spent the night in Gonzales...

And then send this photo...but they'd never believe me...one, he's smiling, and two, everyone knows better! I have a saint for a husband!

I loved the jailer's quarters....

Of course, I really loved the old quilts! Have you ever been watching a movie and notice quilts? We do this all the time and I love trying to name the pattern. Of course, this is a crazy quilt on the bed as a spread and the other one is simple patchwork....but they were hand quilted and wonderful!!

While in Gonzales we went on a driving tour with a local fellow that took us around town. Have to admit when he approached us, introducing himself as a volunteer for the museum, and asking if we wanted to get into his truck for a one hour tour I had this crazy thought of 'I don't know who this man is, no one knows I'm here, if he kidnapped me would anyone even know I was missing?' And then I thought, 'he's awfully trusting to ask two strangers to get into his truck' and then I remembered I was in small town Texas!

Best hour of the day! Leon was most delightful and knowledgeable. History just comes alive when it's an oral presentation. We drove past beautiful homes and city buildings full of such history! I've been reminded of the Texas history I'd forgot...with a renewed pride in the roots of Texas. If you are ever in Gonzales you owe it to yourselves to look up Leon and ask for tour. He'll be quick to tell you too that he's got some ghost stories to tell about the area too, even wrote a booklet about it! Naturally I bought it to remember my day, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that the only ghost stories I like are the ones of the Holy Ghost ~ and how God dwells within us with His Spirit...

Yes, Gonzales was an unexpected bend around the corner of our trip....the real intentions for today was a visit to Shiner - a little town of 2000 that boasts of two quilt shops (and the home of Shiner beer, but that wasn't on my agenda). Earlier this year I'd met Carol at the Square in a Square teachers reunion, she's the owner of The Square Quilter as well as a seasoned A-1 Quilting Machine owner! I just had to see her shop and see her 10 year old longarm! She is one of the gifted quilters who learned to quilt before there were stitch regulators! I loved seeing her machine and how the basic machine and engineering is the same as mine, I just have more buttons (grin). Her machine is a testimony of the A-1 being a true workhorse! No repairs, just routine oiling and greasing has kept her quilting all these years. I enjoyed seeing all the Square in a Square books, fabrics and quilt samples in her shop. She teaches classes at her shop in addition to her longarm quilting.

We also visited another quilt shop in Shiner, Martha's Quilting Corner. Martha is a delightful woman, I could have visited with her all day. Her shop is as cheery as she is! I loved looking over and over, row by row, all the beautiful fabrics. Hubby was quick to point out some Route 66 fabric similar to some I purchased for him on our Oklahoma set up earlier this summer. I, however, went for a beautiful print with sea shells that just happened to be purple with a touch of lime green (grin). Martha and I visited a lot about being longarm quilters (she has a Gammill Longarm) and I shared with her how there were several longarm quilters in my area, so many so that I decided to start a longarm guild so we could get to know each other as friends and not view ourselves as competitors. I shared how we gather to share ideas, resources, and how we are able to bring in national teachers, etc. .... as I said, I could have talked all day, but goodness, it was lunch time and this time we were in a quaint little town before the sidewalks were rolled up so best take advantage of that!

And we did! Right around the corner was Sandwiches and Such, joined to a really neat little candy shop!! I'm talking a great ham and swiss on rye with a glass of lemonade and then next door for homemade fudge! Doesn't get any better than this my friends! Small town Texas is where it's at!

We could have roamed the back roads for days and never gotten our fill....but I knew we had this cute little puppy eagerly waiting on us at home...so we became homeward bound!

Yep, there's no place like home. I love seeing new parts of the country, I love visiting and talking with quilters, I love finding quaint places to eat (can't say I love staying in hotels, but gone are the RV days, for now), and I love coming home to familiar surroundings and the cutest tail wager in town!

Time to do the laundry and settle back into normality (grin)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Painting Play Day

All work and no play....well, you know the saying!

Yes, yesterday was Labor Day and most folks had the day off -- well, I decided to work some yesterday and finished the Island Quilters Guild's raffle quilt so I could take today off to be with Son #2...he works shift work and today was his day off. We'd been hoping to get together and try our hand at painting the quilted fabric I did several weeks ago.

That's the raffle quilt on the longarm behind our art table. Just wanted to prove to everyone that I really did finish my work before I took time off to play. And as you can see, Pixxie is still working hard at being my Professional Quilt Model. She is tireless, doesn't matter what time of the day a quilt is hung, she's ready, willing, and able to do her part in the online show and tell.

By the way, if you want tickets, email me for my address and send a SASE with a check made out to the guild....details when you email... karen @ quiltsnkaboodle.com

Okay, back to our play day...
This is as close as I could get to Son #2's attempt at painting his piece ( on the right hiding behind the pink soap). He did not like the way it turned out and since he doesn't live here any more he couldn't threaten to run away...but he did say he'd be really mad if I posted a photo of what he did...

This was the rejected one. I had quilted two of his art design, he started to paint in the purple with acrylics plus textile medium and didn't like it so went to the second one and did it in the fabric markers. My friend Trish came over for a little while so she played with us too. She tried her hand at the colored pencils on the leaves (bottom ones), didn't like it, and switched to good old fashioned crayons...this is as far as she got before she had to leave for another appointment. She voted for the crayons.

Now remember, we were just playing and trying to see what medium we thought we liked best, and to see how the colors played together.

I started out by painting the pink rosettes in the corner (not pictured) and quickly found that the acrylic wasn't going to do very good at layering, so I switched and worked in the star and did some wet blending to get the shadowing effect I wanted. I quickly found out that paint on a brush wasn't easy to use on poofy quilted fabric. So I switched to the markers... in the photo above I'm laying in my shading.

Here's the same feather plume finished...and the green design is also done with the markers.

Then I decided to play with the crayons. I did the bottom pink one. I liked the control I had on the shading, but seems so pastel. I guess I could color harder but I was ready to move on to try the colored pencils in the blue and green feathers.

Here's another shot showing two that were done with markers. I found that I couldn't wet or dry blend very well so figured I wasnt' going to use the yellow highlight in any future project. The light feather in peach is done with colored pencil.

And here we see my whole experiment, including those nasty corner pieces. My favorite look is the star in the center with the acrylic plus textile medium, but it's stiff and up close it's not all that great. My next favorite is the feathers done in the fabric markers. I think I can go back in and layer some to achieve a softer look, but quite frankly I'm ready to move on to a different practice piece.

I do want to try my hand at this again and do something "real" but I have to say, I'd rather be quilting than coloring. I'm disappointed as I thought this was going to be my next new thing.....Had visions of Son #2 designing his original art, me quilting it, perhaps having folks ask for patterns....okay, so I was dreaming....but it was a nice dream.

Time to get back to work! It was a great play day, and I loved spending it with my son.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just can't get enough of these fabric baskets!

Ta da!The lid is finished. My covered basket was made entirely from leftover binding -- hence the lack of color theory (grin). I just sewed them in the order they were wound up on my binding roll.

It's a good size basket too. Count the little squares on the cutting table...about 11 inches in diameter.

Haven't decided yet what I'm going to do with this one...the oval basket found a home near my longarm holding all my marking pens and such. This one may hold small scraps of fabric on the cutting table, or tools on the sewing table...who knows.

I do know that I'm already trying to figure out how to make a basket to hold magazines, and perhaps one to be my "to be filed" holding basket for all the paperwork that seems to mount up. I'm thinking one on my nightstand could be useful...hum, what about one to hold CD's by my stereo? Or what about one that would hold my Hersey's dark chocolate kisses??

I learn so much from watching the DVD over and over again and then doing one. After doing one I figured out where I can improve on the next one...namely I'd like my lid to fit a little tighter, I went one round too many for fear of it being too small. Lesson learned.

The fabric balls? Just scraps that were less than an inch wide and I didn't know what else to do with them. Too bad I don't crochet or knit, I'm sure they could be useful to someone that does that. Maybe I'll just have a fabric basket that holds fabric balls!

Oh, have I mentioned that Mrs. Kings Fabric Gallery Basket DVD also has ideas for handles - I may make a market basket next with swing handles, who knows. And there's lots of ideas for trim, but that hasn't tickled my fancy just yet.

Hum....so many ideas....it's a wonder I even sleep at night, I have such a busy brain and a very very long to do list! Being creative is never boring.