Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let the sun shine in!

Though the winds are still howling, the snow is still blowing, the streets are still icy and there's no let up in sight, we somehow got to the girls' house yesterday to babysit and spend my birthday.
We walked in the house with paints and watercolor paper and the directive that we were going to paint some spring or summer.
Then we hung the pictures of the beach, watermelon, robins flying to a nest and flowers in the window so when we looked out we would see something other than white.  We had a great time.

The school around here have been closed for the past four days.  Last Friday, and M-T-W this week.  The districts have all agreed when the wind/windchill is -30 below zero, they close.  Well, we're kind of stuck in a holding pattern.  Schools are allowed 6 snow days before the time is supposed to be made up.  I think, according to Elizabeth, we are at 8.  And it's still January. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Enough, already!

Tired of being cold
Tired of being wet
Tired of being inside
Tired of boots
Tired of layers of bulky outerwear
Tired of being told there's more on the way.

I would gladly send some of this to my friends suffering drought.
(Oh, and those pictures?  That's just what we got last night!)

So today I am auditioning for the first round of the block from Germany.  I'll cut, stitch and watch old movies.  What I do with this block will remain a surprise, of course. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Just counting

This is what I've been tinkering with.  It's layed out in no order, it's night so the light isn't good and it's a far away view and I'm just counting basket squares to see how many I have left to do.  The patchwork squares are what I received from the girls at retreat.  Remember?  We gave a focus fabric to each and everyone made a block using your fabric.  I am adding the little posy baskets.  Our charge is to bring them back the following October in a quilt....or top. 
I got hooked on these little posy baskets so have been stitching right along.  When I get the top completely done and bordered I'll show it in better light and closer views.  I think I'm going to like this quilt.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Open the box! Hurry!

Our Round Robin box from Germany arrived and this morning Friend Marilyn and I opened it with the help of our little Adelaide.  Our group is geographically scattered so unfortunately we couldn't open it together.  Well, maybe we could have but it would have taken many phone calls and much planning to coordinate it and I KNOW everyone is too anxious to see what was inside and get their needles sharpened so they can get to work creating!

So, Michigan Robins, here's what was inside.  Goodies were included, too.  Each quilter included a journal with a picture of themselves and some of their families, their city, and homes.  Friend Marilyn and I just belly laughed over one journal.  The quilter explained she was going to have carpal tunnel surgery and so was in a rush to get her block done because of the following therapy for her arm.  But, alas, she didn't get the block done, was working well into December to finish it and didn't use ANY of the fabric she bought for it in the summer and changed her mind on the design and used totally different fabrics and so she's really anxious to see what we do with her square and will she even remember it's what she sent??   Now tell me, does she sound like anyone you know?  Go look in the mirror!

We did a drawing to determine which block we would start with.  Here's a peek in case you want to get started riffling through your stash.
 This is Anja's block and Karen gets it first.
 This is Elke's block and Dodie gets it first.  Elke said she took inspiration for this from a group of sculptures in Hanover that caused controversy but now they are a landmark popular with everyone.  She wants to honor these sculptures that are called NANA.
 This is Ulrikes' and Marilyn gets it first.
 This is Anke's block and I get it first.
 This is Angela's block and Jan B. gets it first.  Angela asks for all red and white in her quilt.
 This is Annette's block and Barb gets it first.  Let me tell you, Barb, Annette can do points! She included fabric with hers but allows for surprises.
This is Marion's quilt and Ines gets it first.
This is Maria's and Janet gets it first.
Watch your mailbox early next week, girls!  We're on our way!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Artists in residence

We had a busy weekend.  We had Charlie, Ceci and Michael here for three days,  and Elizabeth and Adelaide came to play Saturday afternoon.  Of course there was much running, racing, play doh, a new thing...grandma let them play basketball in the house and they built forts.  After lunch they needed some down time so out came the paints. 

 Charlie experimented with a different canvas to hilarious giggles from the girls.
 Grandpa had the most important job this weekend.

Sunday morning Grandpa took Charlie and Ceci for a walk to see the ice on the lake.  They took the hard road over piles and through ditches.  They reported you can see forever and that they could see open water way out there.  They saw two low flying airplanes and lots and lots of ice.

 I love what the cold does for cheeks.
What an action packed, fun weekend we had! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm a believer

OK, hopefully this will be the last time I have to talk about extreme cold but I thought this would be interesting.  The weather people on TV have tried this and so, doubter that I am, I had to see it to believe it. 

I soaked a t-shirt
 and hung it on a hanger outside at 9:35 a.m.
 and at 9:41 a.m.,  just 6 minutes, it was frozen solid.
See the icicles hanging off the bottom? 
I'm a believer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside

  Yup, and snowy, too.  We are getting dumped on.  But oh, look at the calm before the storm sunset last Friday!  Actually, I took this a little too early because baby, it IS cold outside.  The afterglow was stupendous.

 The lake is freezing, the waves are creating some really interesting forms, the bottom of the steps down to the beach are solid ice.  The white plume looking thing beyond the ice is .... ice!  It floats in pieces till the waves bring it to shore to play with the big mass.  This was taken Saturday morning while the sun was out for oh, maybe an hour.
This was what today looked like.  Alllllllll   dayyyyyyyyy  longggggg.  But, this is Michigan and if you live here in the winter this is what you get.  It's not unusual, we get snow, we get cold (just not THIS cold) and we shovel out of it.  We get at least one blizzard a year and this is it. It's just we're a little out of practice.  The past couple of winters were unusually mild and so we got a little lazy about it. 
So, I worked on these blocks.  The centers are all different, but the leaves and baskets are all the same and I tried to show them but the pictures load sideways and I can't get them to show upright, so trust me, they're summery, simple little baskets.
Then I made chocolate chip cookies and took a nap so I wouldn't eat them all.
Actually, I was wondering about something.  I'm experimenting with coconut oil.  Apparently it's the new darling of cooking, the healthiest oil we can consume, so they say.  But the problem is in Michigan it's a solid  and thus very hard to incorporate into baking cookies if substituting it instead of butter.  The first batch I made a couple of weeks ago got turned up noses for votes because the coconut flavor is definitely there.  This time I used half butter and half coconut oil but again, I have to melt it down to use it.  This makes the dough seem oily.  So I put the dough in the fridge to solidify a little so the cookies bake upright and not like they've been stepped on.  My opinion so far is:  you have to like coconut because you can taste it. I am learning to like it. I think it's hard to work with because it IS a solid here in this chilly time of year.   I use it to fry, though.    Just curious.  Do you use and like it or no?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Something new

Something new, something fun, something untried. That's what's happening this new year.  I have a pen pal friend in Burgdorf, Germany.  Over this past year we gathered 7 friends in our quilting life and organized a Round Robin exchange.  I have only ever done one Round Robin before and that was locally with a guild group.  But as I have said many times before, the purpose of starting this blog for me, was to meet people all over the world.  I met Elke through a mutual friend and we have been corresponding for a couple of years. 

I took the plunge.  I asked if she and her friends would be willing to try a Round Robin.  She tested the waters with her friends and said she could come up with seven who would like to participate. I said I could match that.  We set very few rules, parameters, it what you will.  I just wanted to try this, make it simple and friendly. 

So, tomorrow I mail our package!  There are eight centers measuring no smaller than 12.5 inches and some small gifties for all eight there.  We are dividing and distributing the eight centers in two groups of four so the end quilts don't become huge.  We will mail them this week and next January mail them back to each other.  We've included a small journal with each of our centers showing a picture of ourselves, some of our work, some our homes, and included email addresses. Some of us added some of the fabric from their center to be used in the borders.  I didn't do that.  We will each make our border and pass it along until each of our centers - and theirs - have four borders.

Below are the squares we are sending to Germany.  Not ironed any longer since they've been packed (and to take a picture I unpacked them!!! then repacked!!!!)  Have a look.  You'll see we are a varied group, and I am so very excited about this.  I'll keep you posted!  This is going to be so much fun!

I was much encouraged by the Secret Santa exchange I am in with Chookyblue.  She manages to organize, match up  and encourage over 100 people worldwide in a much smaller time frame.  I think this can work. 

 Jan B.
Here they are, Elke!  Packed and ready to go!!!  I'm sending it out tomorrow!