Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Things That Fill My Days

I was surprised, when I wrote yesterday's post, to see that it had been almost a week since I posted anything here at GiraffeDreams. Life has kept me busy, and I'll talk randomly about what some of those things are and were.

About ten months ago I bought a John Flynn frame for machine quilting. It sat in the box for many months until I finally took it out and gave it its big debut.

It looks kind of cool, doesn't it? But I did not find it very cool to work with. To be honest, I found it to be very awkward, and my quilting on it was terrible. I know I haven't given it much of a try (two quilts, both of which I abandoned and finished my normal way directly on my machine.) One thing it did do for me is help me to realize than my own machine quilting is not as bad as I remembered. It's very basic and unfancy, but not too bad for an amateur. So I think I'll stick with that. I have been working on quilting tops, which I have a LOT of (especially since our vast production at Lake Tahoe. See blog post here.)

I have been very busy with church volunteerism lately. We collected school supplies for a local elementary school, and I put in hours of sorting and packing and organizing that stuff. We delivered it this week, Tuesday, and the school was very happy to receive our gifts. We'll be doing more work with this school in a new partnership that we're all very excited about.

Here are a couple of the quilts that I started on the JF frame and finished on my machine. As of this writing, I have another one being worked on (machine only - no awkward frame this time).

Not too long ago I went to see my mom, and also got to see my great-niece and great-nephew (two of the many). Yesterday, Friday, was g-nephew's 2nd birthday. They are growing up fast! G-niece was proudly holding the new puzzle she got at Grandma's bookstore.

This weekend I have been on the phone a lot, trying to figure out my mom's situation. She has been in a lot of pain due to flare ups of her Rheumatoid Arthritis. My niece and my mother and her doctor and I have been exchanging phone calls, and others have been included in text messages... the upshot is, Mom is doing slightly better now as her meds finally kicked in to help with the pain. She will go in next week to see the doctor. I was ready to drop everything and drive up to help her, if needed, but it looks like she's good for now. I plan to go back and visit in a few more days.

What else? I volunteered to take over half of the Power Point production at church (sharing with another volunteer). I had no idea what I was signing up for! It's fun, and I get to work with finding gorgeous photos, which is a love of mine, but it takes hours and hours of work to produce one Power Point for one church service! I really had no idea... I spent ALL DAY and into the evening on Thursday working on this week's PP. But, hey... come to a church service some time and see what beautiful pictures I choose! Bit of bragging here, but I do love trying to find just the right, perfect photo for each slide. Perhaps that explains the long hours I spend working on it.

This last week I also attended a gathering of our small group, Loose Threads. One of our members taught us about making collage quilts. It was a great day, and I look forward to getting back to my collage. It's still in the design stage, along with think about, ponder, re-work, re-design stage. It'll be a while before I get it done.

Below: S, our teacher for the day; S shows us her Kaffe quilt; C shows us some of the hand dying she has done

And if all of THAT isn't enough to keep me busy, I also have been taking food over to the food shelf, and maintaining the bulletin board on which we record the poundage that has been donated and up-coming food drives and other events.

Whew! I'm wearing myself out just talking about all this stuff. It is one reason why I have not had much time to read lately. Cram in a couple work shifts per week, and my time is gone!

Happy, full days, everyone!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Books: Australia

I finally have a book to tell you about: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. This was an audio book read by the author. I listened to it while I sewed.

This was a very enjoyable book. If you don't know much about Australia, this gives you an overall look at a large variety of terrain: seaside, mountains, urban, rural, VERY rural areas. The author took three trips to Australia, and this book combines the highlights of the three trips; it covers a huge geographical overview of Australia... more than most of us will ever get to see. You'll fall in love with a country/continent that so many of us know very little about.

If you have been to Australia, this book will make you feel nostalgic and very eager to go back. If you are going to be there in the future, this book will make you excited about all the great (and odd) things you're about to see and experience. I was excited when he talked about places I have been! And so interested by his discussion of places I have not been. I'm ready to go back!

Summer time reads like this are soon coming to a close. It's hot right now, but next week it will cool off, and I'm afraid that's the end of our summer. Guess I'll have to go back to Australia to catch some more summer weather!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pencil Cases

At church we are collecting school supplies for a local elementary school. I was in charge of purchasing the supplies we needed to supplement what everyone else donated. The list asked for pencil boxes, which were really picked over by the time I went shopping. First, I thought they were ugly. Second, there were very few left in the two stores I went to.

I decided to make some. Our goal was to have 30 of everything, but I am just not going to keep my sanity if I try to make 30 of these babies. An even dozen is what I could manage. Along with the ten or so pencil boxes we purchased, this should be a pretty decent contribution.

The school is grades K-4. I hope the little cuties like these home-made pencil cases. I had fun making them, though I was ready to stop after a dozen.

While sewing, I listened to my audio book, which I had neglected for quite some time. Maybe NEXT week I'll be able to get back to my Friday Books report.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

40 Years -- How Did This Happen?

Yesterday (Aug 24) was our 40th anniversary. I can't imagine where all the time went. It sneaks up on a person in such a hurry.

at the eastern-most point in Australia, at Byron Bay

As you know, we went to Australia in May, which was our early anniversary celebration. This weekend, when it really was our anniversary, we were going to go out of town to celebrate, but at the last minute we decided we'd rather stay home. We had a secret Stay-cation, not telling many people that we had stayed in town. Every day we decided to do a little thing to commemorate the anniversary.

Friday night we went out for dinner with my cousin and her husband. They bought us cupcakes afterwards for our anniversary (no photo). Saturday we went to Stone Cold Creamery after dinner for an ice cream treat (no photo). Sunday we went to a bookstore which recently moved into downtown Saint Paul, and then took a short walk around downtown.

We saw this newly-married couple. I hope they are lucky enough to have a happy marriage and some day celebrate their 40th anniversary, too. Strange thought to think that we probably won't be around to help them celebrate.

On Monday we delivered some food to the local food shelf. I wore a home-made veil. Haha! Fun and crazy idea.. I didn't even wear a veil on the original wedding day! We had a modified-hippie wedding in 1975. I wore flowers in my hair, but no veil.

I am a lucky woman to have such a nice husband and good marriage! Here's to 40 more (or as many as we can eke out).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Quilting in South Lake Tahoe

You undoubtedly recall that I frequently talk about Sunshine. It is an online quilt guild of which I am a member. We work together to make quilts for kids; we currently support two programs: Wrap-a-Smile and Quilts Beyond Borders.

Over the years Sunshine has tried numerous times to have IRL retreats so that we can meet in person and enjoy sewing together. This year, we FINALLY succeeded! Twelve of us gathered at a sewing retreat center in South Lake Tahoe, California. We came from Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, and California. We had so much fun!!!

Lake Tahoe is beautiful. I was fortunate to get this opportunity to see the gorgeous Tahoe area.

One night I spent hours organizing my Tahoe photos, but when I got up the next day, they were back to their original, disorganized state. (Computers: grrr!) So I will simply post them and hope you don't mind if they are a bit disorganized.

I was picked up at the Reno airport by Sarah and Claire. We then drove to South Lake Tahoe, which was about an hour away. This view out the truck window is one of the first views I had of Nevada... my first time in that state. The second photo is the retreat center at which we stayed, just over the border in California.

above: the beautiful front doors, one of the bedrooms, the kitchen (with Beth, Claire, Gail H. and Penni)


the beautiful view and the patio

We had tons of raw materials to work with! A few months earlier we had identified a very simple block which we called the Tahoe Block. People made piles of them and sent them to the people who were driving to the retreat. When we got there, we could hardly believe how much fabric, blocks, and block pieces we had to work with! But wait... it goes down really fast!

We immediately got busy sewing. We designed and planned and did random things, and pretty soon we had some beautiful quilt tops put together. Sarah was hoping that blocks on her head would communicate design ideas right into her brain, and I think it worked! she was very creative.

We started churning out tops.

By the time we went to bed on Friday night, we already had 8 quilt tops made.

Lake Tahoe; a trip to a quilt shop in Nevada

On the way back from the quilt shop, something strange was happening in the sky! As far as we know, no major calamities occurred, and no aliens from Mars landed on Earth.

Sarah using the design wall, Terry and Penni conferring, Jeanie sewing diligently

We were serious the whole time and never wasted any time with silliness.

We continued making quilts...

...and more quilts...

..and even more quilts.

The pile of tops grew almost faster than we could count them!

We did take some time for sight-seeing. Here was a trip up to the overlook at Emerald Bay, Carol(yours truly) and Sarah posing.

Back at the ranch, the quilt factory is still churning out tops.

Below: the whole gang of 12 -- Gail H., Val, Beth, Jeanie, Kathleen, Heidi, Claire, Sarah, Penni, Terry, Carol, Gail S.
Don't ask me why Kathleen is helping Claire wipe her nose on one of the quilts... go figure.

By the end, the tables were groaning under the increasing number of quilts.. and remember all those raw materials? They were almost entirely GONE! At the end, we put a few remaining pieces into kits in baggies. We could hardly believe we'd use up almost all the blocks and block parts! Our grand total of quilt tops was .... drum roll .... 78!

Plus, some people who couldn't attend were working with us from home. They made about ten, and I had made three before hand, and we have been finishing up some extra pieces after we returned home. I would guess that our final total is pretty durn close to 100! Amazing!

Wish I could show you all the pictures, but that's a lot of quilt tops... here are a few more, for your enjoyment:

Last day, Monday: some birds visited us in the back yard --

We had fun, made some new friends, and made a zillion beautiful quilts for kids. I call that a very successful retreat!