Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiration along the way

Lazy days of summer. Goodness where has the month gone?

I really haven't been lazy, have had lots going on but I've managed to take some time out to enjoy life too.

After all, life is a journey not a destination right? Time to enjoy the simple pleasures and to laugh along the way.

Take this kitty for example. Driving through the neighborhood to go check on the bay and this caught my eye. I just had to share the laugh with you.

That's what I enjoy about this journey, sharing the laughter.

Earlier this month I shared lots of laughter and the joy of quilting with some very special ladies. I held an "A-1 Reunion" where my A1 quilting machine customers were invited to join me on Friday for a piecing class using the Square in a Square technique ... along with piecing we enjoyed lunch outside under the Tiki hut.

On Saturday others joined us as we had a A1 Maintenance Class and some hands on demos on the longarm.

It's always inspiring to be around others that share your same passion. Following the reunion we set up machines for new A1 customers. That's always a joy to share the excitement of a new quilter seeing her dreams come true by owning her own longarm.

Along the way I find that I have to stop and regroup, do a little something for myself to keep my creative juices flowing. This past weekend I did just that, a little home decorating so to speak...added a pillow to better enjoy my hammock...

And covered the lawn chair cushions to add a little color to the deck, and made pillows to help with the comfort of the love seat/bench.

I also managed to FINALLY make the curtains for my bathroom that was repainted almost two years ago. Yep, I'm a procrastinator, but when I get inspired then I really push that peddle on the old sewing machine and crank out the projects!

Earlier in the month I found a really neat pattern in a magazine that I wanted to make. It's called Summer Breeze by Karen DuMont published in Quilt magazine Jun/July 2010 #112 issue. What I liked about it was that it used 32 fat quarters and I'm the queen of fat quarters. I thought it would be fun to do an exchange with two of my friends...the pattern called for 4.5 inch strips and you could get 3 out of the fat quarter, 1 strip equaled one block. So instead of using the same color three times I figured we could each contribute 30+ strips in an exchange...yielding 60 or more colors. The girls readily agreed and we made our exchange.

The original pattern calls for 72 blocks with the remaining 4.5 squares to be used as a border. I got so carried away piecing the four patch that I forgot to save extras for the border. Instead I just enlarged the quilt by about 26 blocks! I'm debating on adding the border, it's already a large queen and with a border would be a king... still thinking on that one. by the way, this is the quilt top folded in half, so you can get a better picture of the size if you understand that.

For the past 5+ years I've tried to make a quilt on or around my birthday. The girls thought this block looked like presents so I've called this my 2010 birthday quilt...and since it's made with fabrics from my friends I think I'm going to rename it from Summer Breeze to Hen Party (grin). The hardest part about this quilt was not using a design wall to lay out the blocks. I just randomly picked them up and pieced row by row. Sometimes colors didn't end up where I would have normally put them, and I'm trying to get over that (grin).

Yes, I'm trying to be more spontaneous with my fabrics. I love color. I love bright fun fabrics. Sometimes they don't seem to go together, at least in the traditional way of lights/darks, you know, all that value stuff that seems to be the 'right way' of doing things. The way I figure it, if I like this fabric and that fabric why can't they play nicely together? So I'm experimenting....

I just purchased the AccuQuilt Go! fabric cutter and have had a wild wonderful weekend working through my stash. I've cut up 2.5 inch strips which I've sewn in sets of 3 with plans on subcutting and making 9 patches. Then I've cut the components for flying geese. My idea is to make a star block with these parts. My goal is for the black and white fabric to be the calming fabric is this pool of fabric splash. We'll see how it works out. May be a while as I've taken my mini vacation and need to get back to work (grin)

Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration, a little detour off the beaten path, to jump start the day/week/month. Just like a little rain brings refreshment so does a little time of reflection bring me back to center. Whether it's taking time to be with friends, time to play in my fabric, or time to just sit by the water and be in awe of God's handiwork...

May your day be joyful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing my journey

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Current World View

I've been hibernating.

Betcha' been wondering since the Quilt Rambler has been silent for awhile (grin). I know that's out of character and I do appreciate those who have inquired. I'm still alive and kicking, kickin' back!

Yep, this is my current world view - enjoying my hammock in the back yard. Wish I could say this has been an every day occurrence since MQS, but of course I did have to get back to work... I have, however, tried to make it my world view and am working hard to make this my state of mind.

Sometimes we just need to pull back and relax (recuperate). We live in a very busy world that is "on" 24/7. Emails, cell phones, text messages, busy schedules - we are constantly in touch with anyone and everyone - and can do it instantly! This can unknowingly lead to stress or burnout and takes a toll on our bodies, mental health and yes, even our spiritual lives get ignored (not to mention family). Sometimes it's time to pull back and take time to regroup.

That's what I did the weekend after returning from MQS - I purchased a hammock and actually utilized it the entire weekend reading a very good book The Schwarzbein Principle II The Transition. This book talks about improving your metabolism and regenerating your hormones through a healthy diet. Over the weekend in my hammock, and some 500 pages of reading, I learned all about adrenaline, insulin, and cortisol and how my lifestyle of always being ON was catching up with me. Time to make some changes!

So a visit to my local farmers market was the first thing on my agenda! I've been working on eating fresh veggies and fruit and limiting processed foods...ah, but that's what summer is all about anyway right?

It really felt good to take a weekend off to reflect, relax, and enjoy my backyard. I had every intention of doing a follow up blog from MQS and sharing photos of all the wonderful people that I put a face to - those I know through blogville or longarm lists, but alas, I just didn't get around to it (my dad once cut out little circular disks and printed round toit on them then gave them to family and friends so we'd all have no more excuses not to get around to it, whatever that it was, we all had a round toit in our pockets!)

I do want to at least share a photo of the A-team These were my partners, my co-workers, my friends in the A-1 booth...and yes, what happens at MQS stays at MQS (grin)! Needless to say, we had fun in our booth!

To the far left is Victor, he's one of the voices you hear when you call the home office. Victor is a jack of all trades, he helps in the office as well as in the back working on machines, getting them shipped, etc. This was his first show and he did great working with the public! Next to him is Kim Stotsenberg, she's the author of "Just Leaf It" a fabulous technique workbook for longarm quilters. She has an A1 and is a national teacher, helping us out in the booth (and she was my roomie for the week, and yes, we stayed up way too late talking! She talks as much as I do, so you can only imagine!). In the middle is me, first timer to MQS (grin). Next to me is Brenda Janovy, our A1 dealer from South Dakota, she's just great. Period. She knows her stuff when it comes to these machines, she's great to work with, and my new best friend (grin) If the three of us had roomed together it would have been a week-long slumber party with no one getting any sleep! I'm looking forward to working more shows with Brenda. Just wish SD wasn't so far from TX! On the far right is another one of our handsome A1 home office fellows - that's Justin, he's the machinist who helps build the A1's one at a time. We are talking quality workmanship here folks. He's also a new fantastic quilter...when he wasn't helping in the classroom or talking to a customer about the A1 he was doodling on the machine. Justin just wowed everyone with his feather puffs, did I mention that he quilts one handed in non stitch regulated mode? oh and he's also the son of our owner Stewart Plank who isn't pictured. ... so that was our gang for the week. It's hard to think that's been several weeks ago, we certainly had a blast together, and I certainly needed my hammock when I got home! It's wonderful to go, but oh so wonderful to come home.

So what's been going on in the meantime? Glad you asked....

Had a little honey-do project this past week...if you've been following my blog for any length of time you may remember that we are Ike Survivors - hurricane Ike knocked down my carport support beams in Sept 2008 (among other things), they were replaced sometime the following spring, but didn't get painted until this past week. Sometimes things just take awhile to get done...but they are done now and the front door got repainted to boot! Thanks honey!

My youngest son said something to my mom, who was visiting this past week, concerning how I tend to over commit to too many projects and then seem to always enlist the rest of the family to help me out with completing them...well, it was his turn to help his momma! Yes, somewhere between the hammock and catching up on customer quilts there was a short visit with my mother and I enlisted both her and my son to help me recover a rocking chair...

I inherited two of these masterpieces several years ago when my grandmother moved into assisted living. I grew up being rocked in these chairs (after my mother before me), and later rocked my children when we went to visit...the chairs are circa 1935 - wish they could talk! Oh the stories they'd share! I posted this photo on facebook and my cousin shared her memories with these same chairs. Yep. True heirlooms.

My grandmother had them recovered many years ago and it was time to give them a fresh look again... especially since I found a bolt of fabric that matched the rest of my living room that I'd redone a year or so ago. It was just meant to be (grin). (I'll try to remember to take photos of the curtains, quilt and wall hanging that makes up the rest of this room...)

No, I know nothing about upholstery, but how hard could it be right? Take the old cover off, use it for a pattern and there ya'go.

Never that easy, just ask my son whom I enlisted for this task (grin). Taking off the old fabric wasn't easy. Goodness they must have invested a fortune in upholstery tacks and stables.

It was interesting what we found inside. I'd never thought of what makes a rocker a rocker, have you? (grin). Check out the old springs in the seat - or what about this stuff coming out the back?

My son commented that it looked like pine straw (which is in abundance in East Texas where these chairs originated). My good friend Trish explained to me that it's called horsehair, and was used a lot in furniture prior to foam and modern materials. I've since learned that it's still in
use today but is a very expensive upholstery item. Trish shared that it wasn't really horse hair, but the by product of cleaning/stripping Spanish Moss...hum... All I knew was I didn't know how to replace it, so we left it intact as much as possible.

After pulling off the first layer, which was the newer upholstery job, we decided that the original bottom cushion would best be left intact. At least we think it's the original - we didn't take it down any further to see if there was anything else underneath. So much for trying to get a pattern. I just had to wing it.

But then again, that's typical of how I do stuff. Just jump right in and figure it out as I go.

Got the backing stapled on and decided to add a little modern fluff to the back to make it sturdier. That's what quilters do with left over poofy poly batting (grin).

One down, one to go. Mom was just here for a day (two nights but one day) so this was all we accomplished on the chairs. Not all we accomplished during her stay - we made another visit to the farmer's market, went out to eat at the Kemah Boardwalk (she misses fresh seafood) and did just a little shopping...Yep, we cram a lot in a short visit. Never a dull moment around my house!

Did I mention that after she left I made a run to JoAnn's for upholstery tacks to finish off the backing real pretty like? While there I found books on upholstery - imagine that! I bought a couple to read up on before I do the next rocker, who knows, there's probably an easier way - but then again, that would take all the fun out of it wouldn't it??

So know ya'know what the Quilt Rambler has been up to these past few weeks. Resting, reading about health and nutrition (and the need to rest more), watching "honey" do his projects while enlisting the rest of the family to assist with mine, and somewhere in between working on customer quilts and taking time out to sit in my hammock while eaating as many of my healthy meals outside as possible. (Have I mentioned how much I love berries!)

Time to celebrate summer! I hope to keep my current world view status for quite a while. And hope you will join me in taking time to rest, reflect, rejuvenate and enjoy life!