Saturday, February 27, 2021


Just looking through my photos for the week in preparation for writing this blogpost and there aren't many???  Why is that?  Have I been that idle for the past week or so?  My hands maybe, but my head no!  Like many of you, I'm waiting for my first vaccine shot and that has led me to think about how I will exit the current state of things.  

What will I do first?  Who will I visit?  When can I leave?

For sure, the first visit will be to my daughter and her family who live over 300 miles away.  Since my oldest granddaughter was born in 2006, I've made the trip to see them four to six times a year.  This is the longest I've gone without seeing them and I'm getting antsy to go.

These are pictures from BIG trips I took with each of them the summer of 2019 and I'm so glad I did it when I did!!  They are both doing virtual school and are a bit bored -- so my grandson has been puttering with map and chart creation and my granddaughter has become a thrifting clothing fan!  My gifts to them at Christmas reflected these new interests and I'm looking forward to seeing what they've created!

(Brief pause to go get more photos organized.)

There was more progress towards my "finish 20 tops in 2021" -- as I type that, I'm thinking it should be " 21 in 2021"?!?  Hmmm??   I quilted it exactly the same as the last one -- no thinking required!!
One of the perks of doing the same thing is you get better at it.  So this time in anticipation of going back to quilt the outside scallops after binding the quilt, I made one little adjustment!
My stop-point for the first and the last arcs in each row was 3/8" from the edge of the top -- easy to do once I realized my presser foot was a perfect "stop" guide.  The results weren't perfect but better than the edge of the first one!
 So #4 is finished -- another Mississippi Mud teaching sample.
I love being able to "shop my stash" these days -- this backing has been without a purpose for so many years and now it's not!!  And the binding is just right.  Even the thread was lurking in my embroidery thread stash.
Now that the little hexie flowers have been added to the picket fence border, layering up #5 is on the "to-do" list for this weekend . . . . . . .
. . . . . . right after I clear off the table which means finishing up the photo sorting project which I lost interest in completing one week ago -- too many decisions just wear me out.  How about you?
How about a couple of entertaining ideas?
First up is tropical birding via the Cornell Bird Lab's webcam in Panama.  I was fortunate to bird in Costa Rica in 2007 and of course, I needed the "book".  This past week, while doing research in order to harass some local owl stalkers (it's breeding season for owls and they need peace and quiet, not stalking) I discovered this webcam.    It's HERE.  
It's live during daylight hours and is just one of a half dozen cams around the world.  So much fun to eat lunch with bluegray tanagers eating fruit and flipping through the pages of my book identifying species -- many are new to me but I've been told I can't add them to my lifelist even though I identified with just the help of my book!!
(If you scroll down the page, there is a guide of the birds that visit the feeder if you need to know their names.)
The other is a quirky English retro clothing maker I found on Instragram.
This little video of her reflection about her "to-do" list hooked me and then a couple days ago she shared a quote, "let go of the hand rail" which has been buzzing around my head since trying to figure out what that might mean for me -- to let go???
Check her out when you have a few minutes to explore her feed!!

Well, help just arrived or it's time for lunch?!?
I hope we all get through our weekend "to-do" lists and that there is some fun included!!



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Feeling Chuffed!!

 I've picked up the expression "I'm chuffed" from watching too much Britbox and Acorn TV.  But it described my current state of mind perfectly -- I'm delighted!!

Why you ask?

Quilts have been finished in the past couple days!!  The whimsical 8-pointed star took about 8 days to quilt -- would have been faster but I took a 2-day break to ponder (and whine) about the border quilting.

Isn't the cute, cute, cute backing perfect!!  The quilting is simple which is the key right now to keeping my momentum going.  

I thought I was finished it Sunday afternoon but then went back Monday morning and added a bit more quilting. The intersections of the sashing and cornerstones looked too blank.
Echoing the large squares that cut across the sashing improved the look for me.  Another reason I like simple quilting for many of my pieces is the quilt is softer and drapes beautifully which ups the cuddle factor for me!
So three finished!!  Sixteen to go!!
I recognize that the key to maintaining my momentum is to know ahead of time which top I'm going to layer and quilt next -- trying to eliminate those "it's finished" pauses.  My birthyear temperature quilt was next up but I've been a bit dissatisfied with the cute picket fence border I added to it last fall.  
It's "blah" against the rest of the quilt which is so bright and cheery.
Happily, inspiration happened and I'm adding nine little hexie flowers to spark it up.  The hexies are 5/8" -- as small as I'll ever go with hexies -- and the center of each flower has a fussy cut bee.
It will take a few days to get this top ready to layer so I opted to layer another Mississippi Mud sample and quilt it this week while I finish the hexie flowers and get them appliqued to the top.  I plan to quilt it the same way I did the last one using gold rayon or metallic thread -- whichever one the machine enjoys using!
In the meantime, this beauty came back from the quilter.  I sent it to Julie Stocker here in Ohio and she used a delightful swirly snowflake-style pantograph with a silvery sheened thread.  
It's just perfect!
(It's not on my list of nineteen quilt tops to finish in 2021 but by sending it out, 
I could enjoy it sooner and it won't be on my 2022 list!!)
This morning we woke up to fresh snow and just enough sunshine to get some great pictures.
The blocks came from December's Moda Bakeshop quilt sewalong -- Winter Frost.  There were 6", 12" and 18" blocks.  I used eight of the 6" patterns and thirteen of the 12" patterns.  The setting is called Bear Creek Trail and the only modification I made was to leave off the sashing between the blocks to make the quilt shorter.  I worked out of my HUGE stash of blues and added some special bird prints here and there.  Tonight it goes up on the living room wall for the remainder of the winter!
A friend and I are thinking we'll have a little private stitching retreat before spring and so I started thinking about a project that I could take along.  It will be a break from the quilting frenzy and Jennifer Sampou's Polygon Play pattern has been on my list from the moment I first saw it.  
So I started to gather fabrics and then this happened!?!  
We have not even set a date and I'm almost ready to start!!
Really I'm just avoiding the work of finishing the quilt on the design wall (did you notice where the temperature quilt is hanging -- on the fabric shelves?!?).  So "someone" needs to have a toe-to-toe convo in the next couple days to refocus and empty that design wall before diving into this exciting new project prematurely.

My birding-sidekick-daughter and I actually left town for the day on Sunday and headed west to the never-freezing pond in the village of Castalia, Ohio.  Lake Erie is freezing up so any open water is a treasure trove of ducks right now!
All the males are sporting their best plumage in anticipation of breeding season. 
Those are Redheads above and Shovelers with one handsome Gadwall in the upper right below.
I've made an appointment for the vaccine -- shot #1.  If you haven't found your first shot yet, I suggest you round up one of the tech-savvy young ones in your life to help you navigate the websites.  Then once you feel savvy, help your friends get their shots organized so you can start to get together again!!

And finish something else this week!!  It will make you feel sooooo gooood!!


Monday, February 8, 2021


 Hello!!  How are you doing?

We seem to be finally having a bit of winter here in Northeast Ohio.  There is snow on the ground with more coming and it's cold enough that it's staying.  All the small lakes are frozen over and Lake Erie is freezing up, too.  We've even had some February sunshine -- not a typical part of winter here on the south shore of Lake Erie.

And I've been able to build up some momentum working on quilting up that pile of tops.  Last week I finished this little 30's version of my Mississippi Mud pattern.  I know lots of you have bought this pattern from me so I decided to try a new to me quilting strategy for this one and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

It was a simple process of stitching point to point arcs from one edge of the quilt to the opposite edge doing a separate pass down the right side of the seams and then down the left side.  I'm always reluctant to mask the stars with the quilting and while this idea does that to some extent, I'm okay with it!
And there's a lot to be said for a finished quilt!!
And look at this cute print I've been sitting on forever -- there was enough for the backing and a little leftover to play with another day.  I'm determined to use up all the beautiful prints in my stash instead of leaving them for the big yard sale.
I took a short break from machine quilting to put together a simple little piece using some perhaps 125 year old hand pieced quilt blocks that a friend passed off to me last month rather than shove them onto the shelf where all the antique treasures live.
After looking at them on the design wall for a couple weeks, I decided they would need to be trimmed in order to set them together easily.  That's always a hard decision for me, but it was trim them and use them or put them on a shelf for another 10 years.
As I worked with the blocks, I realized these were perhaps pieced by my friend's grandmother as her mother taught her to stitch.  Grandma Saffron grew up to be an excellent seamstress and although her skills didn't move down the family line any further, the memory of the things she made for them is special.
The finished result is a simple little tabletopper with no batting, lined with a vintage piece of fabric.  It tells a story of a mother teaching her daughter a life skill using bits and pieces of leftover garment fabrics that would have been familiar to her as a woman.  The fact that she saved them for so many years (she died in her late 80's) speaks to their meaningfulness to her.
And now my friend will be reminded of a beloved grandmother daily.
It was time to layer up #4!  My choice of the next quilt top was spontaneous and influenced by all the "arcing" on the Mississippi Mud.  I'm sure you notice when you are quilting that it's always better by the end of the project, so while the arcing was flowing, it made sense to keep it going.
This 8-pointed star was pieced from a jelly roll using Marti Michell's Stripper Template Set which contains an assortment of templates sized for 2 1/2" strips.  These blocks were demonstration blocks for my Set-In Piecing Simplified workshops and set together with leftover strips from the jelly roll, so the sashing and cornerstones are random! Fun, fun, fun!!

And look at the backing!?!  This print has been on the shelf for at least 15 years and I could never cut into it even though I had "a plan".  It wasn't quite long enough so I cut the bands apart and inserted strips of the polka dot.  There was scarcely enough polka dot so it needed to be stretched with the bands of bright prints.  So at last, I got to use this print myself!!

I expect to finish this quilt by the end of the week (keeping it simple is the key) putting me around the 20% mark towards my goal.  Almost every evening finds me hand quilting for an hour or so on the big dodecagon quilt -- steady progress there, too!!!

I'm feeling confidently cocky at this point but maintaining the momentum to reach big goals is always a challenge.  I'm sure you've experienced being puzzled about why it took so long to get around to something when it was such an easy task once you tackled it.  So in truth, I'll be happy with any progress made this year!

I'll leave you with a picture of a special place and a special bird nearby.  A local farmer has planted and left standing about 20 rows of sunflowers down the middle of a large crop field.  And he's gone one step further and welcomes birders to wander in the field during the winter months.

Generous man!!!  

So my daughter (who I raised to bird with me) and I stood in the middle of this field Saturday morning and watched several hundred common redpolls and American goldfinch swoop in and out of the field.  The longer we stood, the closer they came!


Here's to all of us finishing something this week!!