February 29, 2012

Farmer's Wife QAL - Barns and New Blocks...

My Wisconsin Barn Mosaic
In October of 2009, I wrote a blog post with this mosaic I created from all the barns I photographed on a trip to Wisconsin. (You can read that post here.) When I see barns, I feel something inside that's difficult to explain.

On more than one occasion, I've found myself spellbound by light coming into a barn between the boards. The last time it happened, I looked at Handsome with tears in my eyes. I don't know how I feel about reincarnation, but it's like I was meant to be there. It felt like home. Like I'd been there before. Like I knew that place.
Stock Photo from web
These deep feelings prompted me to want to create the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt...and the desire to share my project with some of you. Imagine my pure joy to find that twenty four other women wanted to join me in a quiltalong.
 We started in February with a list of quilt blocks from the book. I blogged and emailed the list to the participants, with a promise that this would be a no-pressure endeavor. We've been uploading our block photos to a special Flickr album, and we've also shared comments and questions among the group. It reminds me of the old-time barn raising, where everyone worked together to create something beautiful...the barn.

We're all working from the same book...The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird. We're also using either the templates from the cd inside the book, or plastic templates from Marti Mitchell's website.
This is how I'm using my book to chronicle my Farmer's quilt journey. I start by taking colored sticky notes and bookmarking the blocks chosen for the month. (I used pink stickies for February and yellow for March.)

You'll notice that there are still pink stickies in there. I haven't sewn those blocks yet (but will this month). Remember, I said that the group is "no pressure", and I'm proving it by showing how I'm working at my own pace.
As I stitch each block, I write the date that I created it, along with my initials. I'm also writing notes on the pages so that whoever sees my finished quilt years and years from now, they'll know what I was thinking as I created the quilt.
I keep all of my supplies (except the fabric I have on bolts) in one of those plastic organizers (like this) so that everything is in one convenient place when I sit down to work on my blocks.

I know farming folk who keep daily records of the weather, along with other information that serves as a diary of their farming life. They keep track of all the grains, seeds and supplies they purchase toward running their farm. Women keep detailed budgets to enable them to purchase the supplies used to run their households, but in days past, they also wrote down their inventories of precious possessions. In some cases, they cataloged their linens and fabrics needed to clothe and comfort their families.

I just added a new app to my iPad that I can use to inventory my fabrics, patterns and threads. How much easier it might have been for the farmer's wives of yesteryear had they been able to use technology as we do.

Before I end my thoughts for today, I'll leave you with the list of blocks that our group will create for March. There are ten this month.

These are the blocks:
  • Block # 2 - Autumn Tints
  • Block # 6 - Big Dipper
  • Block #10 - Bowtie
  • Block #15 - Buzzard's Roost
  • Block #29 - Economy
  • Block #31 - Evening Star
  • Block #34 - Flock
  • Block #51 - Hovering Birds
  • Block #52 - Hovering Hawks
  • Block $103 - Whirlwind
These block names make me smile, and some of them hold special meaning.
 I think back on the Autumn tints seen in crisp Wisconsin twilights when I could hear the last of the flocks of geese heading out to the marsh to settle in for the night. Gazing up at the evening stars in the sky with the Big Dipper the most prominent - the first constellation I learned to identify as a child. 

We built our home there and called it "Hawk Hill" for the red-tailed hawks that lived on our property year-round. I can still envision lying in the grass and watching the hawks hover, lift and soar on the breeze.

We have many new memories in the eleven years we've been in Florida. Days seem to pass so quickly, like a whirlwind in time. (No, I'm not going to mention the hurricanes.)

One frequently sees the buzzards that patrol for "opportunities" (meals usually provided when automobiles and wildlife collide), as they roost in the trees along the roads, or even perched on the street lights lining the main roads into town (makes me laugh out loud. "Welcome to North Port, my pretties!").

Better to focus instead on the afternoon and evening musical performances when Handsome dons his tuxedo and black bowtie. I think of a friend's favorite quote "Music softens life's hard edges."

And then, there is the wonderful time we spend in the Airstream. There, our furnishings are more sparse, and our life is spent enjoying the economy of our mobile accommodations.

I think you can see why this group of blocks will be so meaningful to me. I hope that all the other participants are making notes and sharing their thoughts as they create their blocks.  You can click on the QAL link at the top of my blog to find a list of participants and links to their blogs. (No link, no blog - yet!)

You might also enjoy clicking on the Farmer's Quilt book image in my sidebar. That's how you can get to the Flickr album with all our block submissions. Everyone gets to see the blocks being created by their friends, and they can upload their own for an online "bring and brag". Feel free to leave comments on their blocks. They're all so wonderful!

I'll share my newest blocks here when I finish the March group (and those I haven't completed for February), as well as in the group album.

February 28, 2012

Look What I Found...

A new book, called It's Quilting Cats & Dogs by Lynette Anderson. I paid full price for it when I found it in a shop in Wisconsin, but if you click on the title, the link will take you to the discounted Books-a-Million price. Don't feel bad for me, though. I'm so tickled to have found it that I'm not grumping about paying what I did.
Remember this fabric that I'm using in my Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt? I chose it mainly because I couldn't resist the animal images on it.
I just love the sweet dog, cat, bluebird, owl and butterfly images. They're just adorable, don't you think?
Image from "It's Quilting Cats and Dogs" book
Then I found the book and look what was inside! The same animals that appear on my fabric, along with other project patterns and transfers for sewing and/or stitching!
Image from "It's Quilting Cats and Dogs" book
You know I won't be able to resist stitching this piece. It even has a little Airstream on this block!

But mostly I think I might have to add those appliqued' animals on the purse onto a block to add to my Farmer's Wife quilt. They're just too cute to resist! I'll be working on my other blocks this week as I prepare for the new batch for March, but believe me, those little animal applique's are going to be calling to me the whole time!

Oh, before I close, I've started a Brynwood Needleworks group on Facebook. If you already hang out on FB, you're invited to join my new group.

Wishing you a week filled only with good things and time for something creative, too!

February 27, 2012

Tuesdays With Tag - Best In Show...

Hi again. It's me...Tag.
It's not what you think. I'm not a show dog, but they intrique me.
Mom had the Westminster Dog Show on a couple of weeks ago.
All that clapping, hollering and carrying on got my attention.
Then I saw this dog trotting across the tv screen.
I couldn't believe it! 
I had to sit down and watch for a while.
I saw some pretty interesting dogs.

I thought they were acting like sissies.
Letting people stick their hands in their mouth,
(I don't let anyone do that to me except Mom, Dad and my doctors!)
being accosted by strangers, and
 I won't even mention how they had to stand funny while
some important-looking man checked them out.
Not even one piece of fur out of place, either.
It was all so curious to me.
Me. Almost 11 months old.
Mom said I shouldn't lose any sleep over it.
She said I'll always be her "Best In Show".

'til next time...
"More Waggin' and Less Barkin'!"

February 26, 2012

Memory Lane Monday - Uncle Johnny...

I'd like you to meet my Uncle Johnny. He's the younger of my mum's two younger brothers and he lives in England. I love this picture of him with their family dog, Lizzie. The photo was taken in 1953, which is the year before I was born. He's always reminded me of the singer, Paul Anka here.
My sweet uncle gave me this teddy bear when I was born, and I still have it. In fact, I wrote a blog post about "Coco" here in May, 2009. I've loved and cared for this bear all these years and it's still a treasure to me...
as is my uncle. He and my Aunt Anette have been to the United States to visit, but now that we all live in different parts of the country (and world), we don't see each other very often.

I love that we're able to talk with each other on Skype from time to time, and we're "friends" on Facebook. Don't you just love the miles that can be bridged with "technology"? It makes the world seem smaller and loved ones closer. I'm so glad that I'm still able to converse with this loving man and that we can share the stories of our lives with each other.
Thanks for joining me for another Memory Lane Monday. I hope you'll share a tale from your past on your own blog and then link back here. Don't worry if you haven't written it yet. You'll have a whole week to link back (below).

Wishing you a wonderful week!

February 25, 2012

Sunday Scripture...

image that hangs in Grace's home
I have created you and cared for you since you were born.  
I will be your God through all your lifetime, 
Yes, even when your hair is white with age.  
I made you and I will care for you.”
                                                    - Isaiah 46:3b-4a

February 24, 2012

I'm Baaack...

In case you're looking for me - or are in the area with a free day - I'll be here. 

I called the "Quilt Girls" (Kathy and Flo) when I got home Friday afternoon, and they told me the show is really wonderful. I can't wait to see it. I'll be one of the White Glove people from 9 am to 1 pm today, and will try to get some photographs to share with you next week.

Happy Weekend!

February 23, 2012

Celebrate Me Home...

Some of my fabric stash. Mine. AAALLL mine!
I made it to Chattanooga last night, which leaves an easy drive home for today. I'll be home mid-afternoon and although I can poke my head in the studio to see some of my favorite things, I won't be spending any time in there 'til Sunday.
Goodies that sit on my sewing table
Just a quick peek to make sure it's waiting for me to sew a few stitches later in the weekend.
My Little "Man About Town".
I don't need to share a photo of Handsome for you to know that I'll be home once I see his smile, so I'll close with the face that will be jumping up and down when he sees me walk through the door. (I think I'll jump up and down right along with him.) You didn't get your Tuesday With Tag fix this week, so I thought you might like to say "hi" to him, too! He'll be back to visit with you next week.

Happy Friday, everyone!

February 22, 2012

Country Roads, Take Me Home...

l-r: Donna, DeeDee, granddaughter Sarah and Deb
Yesterday was a good day. Grace's daughters and I spent the day together with one of her granddaughters (Sarah). When the nurse came in to see Grace, she asked if we were all sisters and before I could say anything, her daughters said, "Yes. Donna is our half-sister." Later, they told me, "You know Donna, you even look like you belong to our family." (The conversation started when they that all of Grace's children's names begin with a "D", as does mine.) I smiled to know that they love and embrace me as much as I love them.

It warmed my heart to witness the love and generosity Grace has instilled in her family. I can say, without a doubt, that she also had a hand in shaping the woman I've become, and I'm proud to be her "daughter". Although so much of what has to be done was difficult, watching her daughters make decisions with consideration and concern for her was further testament to the examples she set for all her children.

The four of us toured a nursing home/assisted living facility in town and we agreed that it would be a perfect place for Grace (as she won't be allowed to go back home to live alone). Even better is that there was a lovely room with a garden view immediately available for her. It was most important for them to find a place where she will be happy and cared-for, and this place perfectly fit their parameters.

I'm leaving for home today, but my heart is at ease knowing that Mom will be moving into her new home while I'm driving. We all enjoyed the time we were able to spend together while I was there, and although the doctors still cannot pinpoint the source of her most immediate health issue, they were able to stabilize her and improve her condition so that she was alert and comfortable while we visited. I prayed that she would be this way when I arrived, and my (and your) prayers were doubly answered.

There were no tears at our parting (which has not always been the case). She is happy and hopeful, and I am leaving her with a calm heart. We are looking forward to seeing each other again this summer and she told me she'll do her best to get stronger.

My goal is to reach Chattanooga, TN today and then finish my journey mid-day tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing Handsome and Tag, so I won't be taking the long route!

(Note: This is what a picture looks like when a short photographer uses the screen instead of the viewfinder on the camera. There's more than a little image distortion. Note to self: Next time, set up to use the viewfinder.)

February 21, 2012

How To Make A Spool Elephant...

Adorable Alert!
This is a vintage J.P. Coats - Clark card for John Martin's Spool Zoo. The copyright date is 1921.
There was a whole series of these cards including the elephant, fox, bear, zebra, lion and hippo. (Look close to the back of the card. They're all listed.)

The card is meant to be cut around the animal shape (you can enlarge the card to see the dotted lines) and then each side of the animal was glued to an end of a spool. Once assembled, the animal was free-standing. The card advertises acquiring an entire zoo. The little red square on the back of the card shows a tiny illustration of the finished spool elephant.
There was also an insert to order a 48 page book of "Sewing Secrets". Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone. lol

I'm having a wonderful time visiting with Grace, her daughters (my "sisters" by choice) and last night, one of Grace's granddaughters (Sarah) joined me at "Grammies" house to stay overnight. It was wonderful catching up with her. I haven't seen her since she was in elementary school. She's grown into quite the lovely young woman.

It's nice to remember that every cloud has its silver lining.

February 20, 2012

We're Together Again...

So, this is how I dressed yesterday morning when I left the hotel just north of Nashville. It was 27º and I had frost all over the windows of the Explorer!!! (It was 82º when I left Florida on Sunday. sigh) No more sandals until after I get back home. You have no idea how long it's been since I wore a turtleneck. I was warm and comfortable as I covered the second leg of my trip.

I drove the final miles back to Wisconsin and arrived at 5:30 yesterday afternoon. I was able to meet up with Sis so that she and I could get to the hospital to visit Grace before it got too late. Grace knew that I was coming, but was surprised that I saw her right away rather than just curl up somewhere and take a nap.

Sis told me that one of Grace's three remaining sisters died yesterday, too. And, another sister totalled her car on a short trip yesterday. It was not a good day for the sisters, but thankfully, there were no injuries with the car accident - unless you count the car. We broke the news to Grace last night. I'm glad I was there to hold her hand and as the sister who died had been in a coma for that past two weeks, it wasn't a complete shock for her.
This is a photograph I took out the windshield of my car, truck SUV as I drove through Effingham, IL. It never ceases to lift my spirits. A message to motorists that God is always watching over them as they travel. I smiled again just to see it. Seeing the "Welcome To Wisconsin" sign was almost as wonderful.

My visit with "Mom" was so nice. She's in good spirits and has gone through a barrage of tests. We still have no idea what's wrong, but while she's in the hospital, her symptoms are being managed and she's alert, coherent and funny. It's so nice to be here so that I can spend the time with her.

I'll see her again today, and I'll take my scrappy plates to work on while we chat. I'll be sure to rest and refresh, too. Thanks again for all your sweet notes. You warm my heart with your prayers and good wishes.

February 19, 2012

A Secret Revealed...

Today, I'll share a secret with you. Some of you know, but perhaps most of you do not, that I write my daily blog posts late at night the day before they appear on my blog. Sometimes, but rarely, I'll write them and schedule them to appear on a certain day, but usually it's just the night before.

I write them as though I'm writing them the day of the post, but now you know. I cheat...except for today.

Today - Sunday - I've spent on the road in my Explorer. I've left Handsome, Tag, hearth and home to go to Wisconsin to be with Mom Grace. She's been quite ill, and those of us who love her are concerned. Out of respect for her privacy, I will not go into detail, but I felt compelled to travel back into cold weather and possibly snow, rather than wait until summer, when we'd planned to go back again.

I left home at 7:30 this morning and drove over 800 miles to Nashville, TN. As I write this (7:42 pm central time - an hour earlier than home), I'm in my pj's with my laptop on my...er...lap...exhausted. It seemed that there was heavy traffic all bloody day for every. single. mile. I drove! The photo above was mostly stopped traffic in Atlanta. (There was an accident about 2 miles ahead.) Grrr!

I got to do the stop and go traffic two more times, but mostly there was just lots of humanity on the road...on a Sunday! What the...? I had expected an easy day of driving and found something quite different.

I'll drive the rest of the way to Wisconsin today, and hope to arrive early enough to get to the hospital for visiting hours. Mom said she wants me to stay at her home, so I'll accept her gracious offer. About 600 miles to go and I'll be with her.

For now, I'm tired, cold and a bit weepy (I know. Just like a little kid.) I already ate a little something hot and will close this note to you with a few notes of thanks...

Thank you, my Quilt shop Coffee friends - Kathy, Nora, Betty, Brenda and Flo (Faye wasn't there yesterday, or I know she would have helped, too!). I saw you on Saturday, a bit completely frazzled because I had things that I needed to finish for the quilt show next week. You took my quilt submissions for the show. You added a sleeve to the one quilt that needed one (because I did it wrong), delivered them to Joan today because I wouldn't be home to do it, and took a huge load off my shoulders. I love all of you and thank you again from the bottom of my heart for caring for me.

Thank you, Farmer's Wife QAL girlfriends for taking care of each other by answering questions and helping solve problems while I am unable to do so.

Thank you, Handsome, for understanding that I had to go - and for supporting my decision to drive. Oh, yes...and for caring for Tag while I'm away. I won't say more. You already know.

Thank you to my own mum and my beautiful sister, Diana for calling me on and off throughout the day to break up the tedium with stories and news.

Thank you to all my friends, near and far, for adding your prayers to mine that Grace will be alright.

I'll close for tonight before I get further "soppy".  I will tell you that I brought those scrappy plates with me so I can continue to stitch centers on the blocks once I settled in in Wisconsin. That way, I'll have some crafty posts while I'm away from home. More tomorrow. I have to turn off my brain and my lights now.

February 18, 2012

Sunday Scripture...

Flowers from Grace's backyard last summer.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and 
not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
                                                                   - Isaiah 40:31

February 17, 2012

My Newest Valentine...

What a delightful surprise to receive an envelope this week from my friend, Wendy at The Frog Palace!
 I opened it to find a fun pink-theme Valentine.
Wendy used part of a dictionary page and made the
definition of "pink" the focal point 
Then, she added cutout leaves and a pearly pink button.

 Then, she added lots of fab-u-lous vintage buttons and 
a length of vintage trim (see top photo).
See those soft pink buttons? They're my favorites, but 
I love all of them. Remember that Handsome frequently
calls me "Scrooge McDuck" when I'm playing in my buttons!

Everything surely brightened my day, and I couldn't 
stop smiling at her generosity and thoughtfulness.

Thank you, Wendy!
You've got my creative juices flowing, and I can't wait to play!
You'd giggle to see me dancing a little happy dance. 
I'll hope you'll visit her blog and leave a note for her to read.

There are emergency travel plans in my near future. I'll know more later today, and I'll tell you more on Monday. Your continued prayers are appreciated.

February 16, 2012

A Scrappy Update...

I played in the studio most of the day yesterday. I am enjoying the quiet process of hand stitching. My needle was dancing and I smiled with every stitch.

I placed nearly-finished blocks on the fabric I've chosen for the sashing, and imagined how it's going to look when it's assembled. Adding the centers will really make the plates pop. I had originally chosen the aqua fabric for the centers, but am doing a rusty red now. Perhaps I'll do some of each!
Late in the day, I received word that my dear friend, "Mom" Grace is not doing well. As I continued to sew, I stitched prayers for her into my quilt.

I've always believed that if I'm going to pray, I shouldn't worry, and if I'm going to worry, I shouldn't pray. I know worrying accomplishes nothing, but prayer can move mountains. So, I prayed that God will care for Grace.

I'll know more about her condition later today, and I may decide to go north to be with her and her family. In the meantime, if you're moved to add a thought or two on her behalf, I would appreciate it, and I know she and her family would, too.

I'll be attending a training class today with Handsome. We're learning to work at our local polling place. I'm looking forward to "doing my part" for the process.

When we get back home, I'll finish tacking down the last two plates and then work on attaching the rest of the centers - and praying.

By the way...Tag is doing great. I think my little bug was just pulling my leg!