Back to Reality

I’ve taken a little break from blogging the last two weeks.  I had several quilts to finish for some deadlines, then I was out of town for a week, and I’ve spent the last couple days playing catch-up.   My husband had a trade show in Orlando, so I decided to go with him.  We almost didn’t make it out of town.  We left during the beginning or a huge snowstorm.  I kept thinking our flight was going to be delayed.  They loaded the plane and we took off from the gate.  It was a total white out all around us.  It took them about 30 minutes to de-ice the plane.  Then the captain announced that they had to plow the runway for us to be able to take off.  Despite all of that, we did get off the ground.    Some areas in the Twin Cities got up to 20″.  My Dad said he has never cleared so much snow off his drive way.  I have never been so happy to get out of Minnesota!

Down in Florida, we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Resort.

Joel was in meetings pretty much the entire time – day and night.  So, I spent my days sitting by the pool, eating bonbons for two days.  Actually, there were no bon bons as any snacks from the resort cost an arm and a leg.  That didn’t really seem like an even trade for some chocolate, and I really love chocolate.

They had two pools, so I could change up the scenery every so often.  Can you guess which is the quiet pool?

I’m sooooo not used to sitting around all day, so I got really bored just hanging out by myself all day.  I’m sure you feel really sorry for me!  I did get lots of knitting done though.

The setting really was beautiful . . .

and the weather was perfect.  Every single day was beautiful, sunny, and just the right temperature.  That is so rare in Minnesota, that I was just in awe of the weather.

After Joel’s trade show was over, we rented a car and drove south to Punta Gorda.  Joel’s parents are newly retired and rented a house there for the month.  The house was located on one of the canals and has this lovely view.

 We invited ourselves over and spent a few days exploring the area with them.

This little island that we visited was called Gasparilla.  The island was so quaint ~  I loved all the flowers and the beach houses . . .

It is a quiet island, with little traffic, just a few shops and restaurants.  No mobs of people, just slow-paced and relaxed.

Oh, and beautiful beaches.

The boys enjoyed fishing off this beach.

The world record hammer-head shark was caught off this beach, though mackerel was the catch of the day.

We had some company that was after the boys’ catch . .

Back in Punta Gorda, we found a spot to watch the sunset.

We get beautiful sunsets back in Minnesota in the summer, which means I haven’t seen anything like this for about 5 months.

We made a quick trip down to the Everglades for an air boat ride.

We had hoped to see some gators on our ride, but this is all we saw there.

On the drive home, we noticed that the other side of the road was a nature preserve and was loaded with alligators.  We couldn’t get close enough for a great picture, but at least we saw some.  This one was HUGE!

On our way back, we stopped at Marco Island.  I loved this little island too.

It was so beautiful and pretty swanky.  We discovered that it was a great spot to go shelling.

The beach was just covered with shells, especially right by the shoreline. 

Time to head back home. . .

Back to reality

But at least I can afford the bon bons here! 

Posted in Family, Travel | 27 Comments

Artful Diva

Happy Friday!

I thought I would start out today with the prettiest of my pictures that I have to share.  It’s a cake that I made over the weekend that I have been wanting to try.  While I am working in the studio everyday, I make the mistake of having the Food Channel playing on TV.  Episode after episode the hosts turn out beautiful things, while making lots of yummy noises. 

By the end of the day, I am craving all sorts of unhealthy things and feeling much hungrier than I should.  I’m not sure why I torture myself, but I continue to do it.  After seeing this recipe I printed it and saved it for occasion when I needed something to bring.  Last weekend we had a family meal and I got to try it out.  In the end, it looked really pretty, but didn’t taste quite as good as it looked.  (granted that is a pretty cake, so it’s “face” probably is writing checks that it’s “taste” can’t fully cash,  if you know what I mean)

That sums up my husband’s philosophy on those television shows – the food always look really good on camera, the host raves about them, but in the end, Mom’s is much better.  Maybe you guys can help us settle this debate.  Does anyone else agree with him?  We’ll put it to a vote.  (Maybe the issue is more that our Moms make some really good food, therefore we have high expectations?)

Just in case you want the info on the cake, here it is.   I love the idea of combining chocolate and coffee and the cake was good.  I just happen to like my Mom’s chocolate frosting recipe better ;-)

So what else have I been up to lately?  I’ve just come home from two quilt retreats, so I have been doing lots of sewing, machine quilting, and binding.  Much of the work has been for an upcoming book, so I will show more on that later.  I start the photography next week, so I have been busy trying to hit my deadlines.

In the meantime I made a couple more things with Artful Home.  (I promise that I will soon move on and make some quilts from something else.  I am waiting for my Christmas line to arrive next month, so then I will switch to that!)

I started making blocks for my Diamond Diva pattern.

I decided I didn’t have time to complete the wall quilt, but there are two other smaller options in the pattern, as you can see here.

So, I used those blocks to make this:

 

and this:

 Now I have lots of leftover blocks, but at least I have two finished projects.

The runner works well on the island in my little kitchen. Plus, it works out nicely that the Keyholes quilt from my last picture is in the background, to kind of pull things together.

I’m still auditioning the little guy in various places.

These little accessories actually got me started on my love of dark turquoise.  I already loved red, but now I love them both together.

Funny how that happens.

I’m off to quilt another quilt that needs to be done by Sunday, so I better get crackin’. 

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Pattern of the Week, Quilting, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Keyholes

I spent yesterday finishing up this quilt top.  I spent yesterday evening under the quilt stitching binding.  It was really cold yesterday (and today), so it was the perfect time to be snuggled up under a quilt stitching binding.

The quilt is meant to hang in my entry, but the lighting is so bad for taking pictures.

The lighting is better in my studio.  The only problem is the entire floor is covered in parts and pieces of several new quilt designs.  The only available space to lay it out is on my cutting table.  {Everything that was piled on the cutting table is now on the floor ;-)  }

The original pattern doesn’t have the applique, but I couldn’t help adding another splash of the red.

Speaking of the original pattern, here it is.  It’s called Keyholes and it’s from an older book of mine called “On a Roll Again“.  The original quilt is done out of Shangri-la, which I love, but I always wondering what the quilt would look like in bolder, less floral-ish fabrics.

Now I know!  I made several other changes, in addition to the applique.  I made all the rectangular block centers black, instead of scrappy.  I also took out the center square block and substituted in a large, solid black square.   I think the pattern looks much bolder this way, and a little more modern.  By the way, this fabric is from my new line Artful Home.  It will be hitting stores next month.

I braved the cold to take the quilt outside where there was enough light to make some of the quilting show.  I tried something a little different, as I am just so sick of meandering everything!  I was quite easy and required no marking.

I started with the center stem, than added points to form a leaf design.  I think the trick is to make each point with a slightly curved line, as shown in the bottom of the leaf, rather than a straight point, as shown in the top of the photo.

I just repeated that design in each rectangle, than did a simple flower in the block center.  The flower design is taken directly from the design in the black fabric.

So that’s all for today.  I’m busy packing to head out to a retreat this weekend.  Hopefully I will have a few more finished things to show soon!

Posted in Machine Quilting, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Cold Weather Therapy

I’ve been busy sewing on lots of projects this week.  As you can see, none of them are finished yet, although both of these projects are a little further along than when I took this picture.

I’ll share more when these projects are actually finished.  In the meantime, I do have a couple of knitting projects that are finished.  They’ve been finished for a little while now, but I am always behind on blogging about what I’m doing.

The pattern is called Sorelle Lace Edged Pullover.

It’s not my favorite project, as it turned out a little small.  I used one of my favorite yarns – Waterlily by Classic Elite.

For the Ravelry link, click here

This next sweater is the Leitmotif Cardigan.  I have wanted to make it ever since I saw it in Interweave Knits.  (Fall 2010)

It’s full of great details and lots of cables.  You know how I love cables!

Those cables continue around to the back.  (Wow, my hair is messy.  It looks like I have been standing under the dryers in a car wash.)

There are more cables along the hem.

Again, here’s the Ravelry link for more details.

It’s been a pretty intense winter here in Minnesota, which really makes me want to knit.  I think knitting helps me stay sane through all the long, dark, cold winter evenings.  In fact, with so many projects going they just fly by!  What would I do without it?  Lots of therapy?  I guess I’ll have to keep knitting until I can afford to move south for the winter  ;-).   Considering all the cold weather that the rest of the US is having, I’m guessing there are a few of you who understand what I’m dealing with here!!!

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Baby Zachary

It’s been an interesting morning so far.  I accidentally deleted my blog template, temporarily lost all my customizations, and then decided to start over.  I have been wanting to use a template that would let me use larger photos and customize the background.  I’ve been scared to try it because I’m not very adept with things like this, so my accident this morning was just the thing to get me to take the plunge.

I think I will really like being able to show larger photos and today I have a group of photos that I am really excited to share.  Remember the new baby I mentioned in my last post?  He arrived on Tuesday morning. 

His name is Zachary and he was 7 lbs 7 oz.  The blanket was made by an Auntie on the other side of the family.  She is supposedly a “new” quilter, but by the looks of that perfect blanket stitch, I think she might have been secretly practicing for the last few years and didn’t tell anybody.  Either that or she is a natural.

These photos were taken when he was only one day old.  We all decided he looked more like a two-week old baby.  He didn’t have that red, wrinkled, slightly bruise, cone shaped look that many babies do.  He is absolutely perfect. 

The only thing that came out wrinkled, were his skis.  Oops.  I meant feet.

He is welcomed home by an older sister and two older brothers.

He has a full head of brown hair, just like his brothers did when they were this age.

After seeing Camille’s new baby post, I thought it would be fun to try some black and white photos too.  I think they turned out pretty sweet, plus it gives me a chance to share a few more pictures.

Last one – just the boys.

We are all glad that the waiting is over and that everything turned out fine.   Congrats to my brother and his wife on the new addition.  He is beautiful!

Now, I feel the need to go knit a baby hat :-)

Posted in Family | 20 Comments

Modern Day Diamonds Runner

Happy Monday Everyone!

Did you have a good weekend?

Ours wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it was going to be.  We got a call on Friday night that my brother and his wife were headed to the hospital to have their baby.  It turned out to be a false alarm, so no baby yet.  Other than that, it was too cold outside to do anything.  In some parts of Minnesota, it got to be -40 below, which means it is actually painful to step foot outside.   Instead the house got cleaned and the binding got done on my first project with the Artful Home fabrics.

Can you believe that I almost didn’t have black in this line?  I added it as an after thought .  Some of you may know that ALL my early quilts included black and in the last few years I have gotten away from using it.   My philosopy on black is that it provides such nice contrast and helps make the colors around it pop. 

Case in point . .

It matches my dishes well, don’t you think?

Here it is in my dining room.  It matches so well with the red, black, and white – and it should!   The whole idea behind this line was to have something to decorate my main living area with –  Something that would pull all the colors together. 

Now I just need to get a few more quilts finished with this line.  Remember in my last post how I said something about having 3 or 4 quilts to show you?  That didn’t happen this week.  The problem was I started like 6 new quilts, which meant only one got finished.  In fact, I just put this binding on  last night during the football games . . .

It’s probably my favorite binding stripe ever.  I know I say that a lot, but that is what happens when you have a stripe obsession.

Just in case you are wondering about the pattern, it can be found in my Livin’ Large book.

Here is the original colorway, done up in some beautiful Amy Butler prints.

The book also includes a pattern for a larger quilt featuring that design.

I think the new one is my favorite though, but then again, I might be a little biased!

Posted in Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , | 30 Comments

Artful Home Sample Yardage

That’s a really clever title isn’t it?   I always struggle with naming things, and blog titles are no exception.  Oh well, not my gift.

Getting to the point, I had a fun package arrive from overseas.  This was inside ~

My sample yardage of Artful Home has arrived!   That means that the line has been printed and has been stashed on a boat to make its journey to the US.  Before it is trapped on that boat for 2 months, 5 yards are sent ahead to me, so I can start making some projects.  That way they are ready when the yardage arrived in quilt shops.

I can’t wait to get started planning and cutting . . . .

In fact, I am so anxious to get to work that I am going to forgo talking (or in this case, typing) and just show a few pictures.

Next time I talk to you, this stack may look different.  Hopefully, it will look more like a quilt or two.  Or maybe three or four. 

Posted in Fabric Trends, Quilting | Tagged | 57 Comments