Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snoring is my revenge

Nightly there is a battle of the bed covers, which I invariably lose. Not so much a problem during the summer, but we haven't really had one this year. Last night, after the annual block party, we slept under this:

Stack-n-Whack, pattern by Bethany Reynolds.

The quilt is probably 10 years old. I really should label these things, but by the time I finished this queen-size top I was so sick of it I almost didn't get it quilted. Fortunately there are long-armers so I didn't have to look at it any more. By the time I got it back I didn't detest it. It's definitely not a favorite, but it fits the bed.

And this:

Half Log Cabin, technique by Sharyn Squier Craig. Beautifully quilted by Maggi Honeyman.

I took this class in 1997 when I was relatively new to quilting. I like how the variety of background fabrics bring texture to the quilt. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same variety in the darks. Probably I was trying too hard to match colors and limited the number of different fabrics I used.

And this:

2002 Florida Cabin Fever Quilt Guild mystery quilt.

The real solution was Aunt Sukey's Choice, but I was playing around with the pieced units before the last clue and liked my solution better because it was more suited to the Asian fabric. This is one of my favorite quilts. I wish I'd had enough fabric to make it bigger, and that I hadn't experimented with black bobbin thread.

The block party was great even though it was quite chilly. We have the best neighbors, and every year on the last Saturday in August the street is blocked off, we set up tables and chairs in the streets, fire up the grills, play games and share appetizers, salads and desserts.

We lost seven trees this year on our block to Dutch Elm disease so there's no good way to string up the volleyball net. Instead one of the adult games was to guess which famous persons' name was written on the stickers on our foreheads by asking each neighbor two yes-or-no questions. My husband guessed he was Oprah after just three questions!

Don't look now! is having an unbelievable giveaway, and I am shamelessly plugging it here in order to get some extra entries. Although now probably you'll enter and my chances will go down. Kellie is giving away this gorgeous quilt. I can't believe it! I love her applique and patterns, but it's not really my quilting forte, so winning would be heaven.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bombs away

Galt Airport flour drop target. It looks easy to hit from the ground, but it's not!

Saturday was the 2nd Annual Galt Airport Flour Drop, and this year we actually hit the target! At one point we were in a six-way tie for third place with our 10-point hit (the ring outside the bullseye), but were quickly knocked out by better bombadiers.

Some of the competition in the flour drop.

View from the air. Not all that smoke is flying flour. Some of the planes purposely created smoke to heighten the drama of the day. Like someone afraid of heights needs any more excitement than hanging flour bombs out the window of a small plane.

We went up in "Chubby," a fabric and plywood contraption with "Experimental" emblazoned on the side. I don't mind small planes at all, which is a good thing when you are married to a pilot who insists that every vacation involves getting there via our little Mooney. (We regularly take separate vacations!)

The pilot.

But, I don't like heights. At all. My able pilot had the plane sideways. I had one hand extended out the window, clutching a 1-pound bag of flour, and the other one clutching the camera. My eyes were tightly closed (from both the wind and the frightening view of the ground), so Larry had to yell "Now!" so I'd know when to let go of the flour sack.

The bombardier.

It was great fun. Especially when we were back on the ground!

St. Ignace, MI.

Earlier in the week we flew to St. Ignace, Mackinaw Island and Traverse City, Michigan, for vacation. We both enjoyed being away for a few days, and then coming home for a few days around the house before going back to work.

St. Ignace was pretty and quiet. We stayed at the Tradewinds, which was clean and comfortable, although not fancy, and within walking distance of the downtown area.

Ojibwe Museum, St. Ignace, MI.

The area is home to the Ojibwe, and the museum in town is small, but good. The gift shop is nice because it features crafts from Native Americans and not a bunch of things made in China. There was a display of Ojibwe crafts, including stitchery with porcupine quills. I didn't get any pictures of the museum pieces nor could I afford to buy any of the ones on sale, but this site has pictures of some birch bark boxes decorated with quill stitchery. Beautiful.

Unpacking the plane at Mackinaw Island, MI.

Flew to Mackinac Island for the day. Our folding bicycles came in handy, but after a full day of biking -- Larry estimated we did 15 miles -- I wasn't sure I would be able to sit down again. Ouch. All that padding didn't seem to help.

He didn't really bike up that hill. If he had, he probably wouldn't be smiling.

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island. It's walk, bike or ride a horse-drawn carriage. All those horses in August meant a rather smelly bike ride through the high-traffic areas of the island. Phew! Worth it for the beautiful landscape.

View of Mackinac Island from the air.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sue Ross BOM

When I saw the Sue Ross BOM on Material Obsession's blog, I signed up right away. I know, I know. I can't keep up with my blog, how am I going to keep up with a block of the month. One block a month. One. Not 15 a month like that flag exchange. One.

When the email arrived saying it was coming I would have started right then, but no templates and no fabrics. And the instructions said hand piecing. Seriously? I've never done that in my life. Should I make a practice block or just go for it? One block a month. Remember? A practice block might be all I got done. Plus I had to cut out and draw seam allowances on 61 pieces per block. One block. Easy decision. Do it by machine or take a stab at hand piecing? What's life without learning? Besides how hard could it be? (Don't know yet as I haven't finished it, but it still looks like it could fit together.)

And, then I asked to join the Sue Ross BOM blog. Two blogs? That second blog will push me to blog AND finish the block each month. Playing psychological tricks on myself seems to be working. I've already posted twice today! And that other post has links to some great hand piecing tutorials I found online.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What happened to/in July

Yikes! It's a week into August. How'd that happen?

Nothing to show for July? Really there was. Here's some of it.

July 4th inspired me to pull out my flag blocks (take pictures and then put them back in their UFO drawer). My friends Joni and Angie and I went to the AQS show in Nashville and saw this quilt hanging in a hallway of the Opryland Hotel.

We decided we could make 15 five-inch blocks every month, send five to each other and keep five and in less than a year we'd have enough different blocks to put together this wall hanging. We even bought blue star fabric at the show to unify the blocks. Well, it's been six years now, and this UFO isn't any closer to getting done. The blocks are simple, but those stripes finish at 1/2 inch, and so it takes some effort to get them nice. And only the best effort will do for your swap partners!

I made this tea wallet for a friend using this tutorial. Her favorite color is grey, and this daisy print said Heather to me. She really seemed to like it. She got us drinking tea at work every afternoon at 3, a tradition we're trying to maintain now that she has left us to marry a Dane and live in Copenhagen.

My friend Fran came to Chicago with her daughter, Maddie, for a day of shopping at Nordstrom's big July sale. I think they spent all their shopping money before lunch! They stopped by, left a pile of bags and went out again. I stayed at the office and worked. Boo.

We had dinner at Frontera before Maddie left for the airport and went back to Orlando. Rick Bayless' Mexican food is so good! One of the best dishes I've ever had was the ox tail at Frontera. This time, he had his winning tongue tacos from Top Chef Masters on the menu so we had to try them. They were good! Really. I doubt I'll be making them at home, but the recipe is on Bravo's site. (Love the recipe from this week's winner, which can be made in under four hours. Ha. Won't be making that for dinner.)

The next day we drove with hubby to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to see Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's house. All three of us had read "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan and were excited to see the house. If you haven't read the book, I recommend it. But don't look up anything about him, his mistress Mamah Cheney or the house before you do. It'll spoil the book.

Good thing I'd ordered house tour tickets ahead of time because our tour was full. Would have been awful to have driven three hours to see the house and then not be able to. But it was worth the six-hour round trip. The tour was really good. Wright was an amazing man. The guide explained how Wright was constantly changing the house, such as adding a study to his bedroom before it was photographed by a magazine, and adding a library so his friend Guggenheim would have a nice place to drink his coffee when he visited.

We couldn't take pictures of the inside, which is too bad. The amazing thing was all the plywood! A new building material at the time, and Wright seemed enamored. Now it seems odd. Also, no kitchen in sight!

Wright's grave is on the left of the big pine tree near the family chapel, although our guide told us his last wife's family dug him up and had his ashes scattered in Arizona. Mamah Cheney is buried under the pine.

On the way home we stopped at Culvers. We had to get some cheese curds for Fran this being her first trip to Wisconsin. They didn't have fresh, but the fried were good. We got some fresh at the farmer's market the next day before I took her to the airport, but they didn't squeak. Very disappointing. She probably thinks I lied about that.

Speaking of food, July was a good month for trying recipes and reading food blogs. This is one of my favorites. I've made her zucchini, pizza dough, pie crust and blueberry crumb bars. And, I found this amazing potato salad recipe. Amazing because I, who hate mayonnaise and pickles (and ketchup), actually like this (after cutting the mayo in half and still having way more dressing than potatoes). For those who know me, my eating mayo is one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Our neighbor gave us a big bowl of currants so I boiled them, strained them and added sugar to make a drink as he instructed. Wasn't sure what else to do with currants besides make jam.

And, in July, I started a new project! On the plus side, this got me motivated enough to get one of the Monkey Wrench tops done so I could use the design wall for the new project. I deleted the Monkey Wrench pix because as I was going through them I saw that I'd turned one unit around and sewed it in backwards. It was, of course, in the middle of the quilt necessitating a rather long session of "reverse sewing."

The finished top and the new project in the next post. Later this month. Promise.