Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Storybook Quilts

One more bit of news from our November guild meeting. Remember our challenge from 2009? The Storybook Quilts?  Well, they are now famous!

During the meeting, Janie and her team shared two exciting things.

1.  The Storybook Quilts are going to be featured on Sewing With Nancy sometime in 2012.
2.  The Storybook Quilts are going to be displayed at the 43rd Annual NQA Show in Columbus, Ohio on June 14-16, 2012.

It's so cool to watch this dream come true. 

You can read all about how the storybook quilts got their start in this article and on their website,

PS...we've already decided that next year's challenge is Round 2 of The Storybook Quilts.  


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Green Quilts

In addition to our winners, we also had another twenty-two quilters participate in this year's challenge.  Here are just some of the memorable and unique:

Ben made a second challenge quilt as a joke.  This dog bed might not be very cozy, but it sure is green!  Made completely of dog treat wrappers, each section is stuffed with plastic grocery sacks. 

Rena shared these gorgeous rag rugs that she crochets with a giant hook.  They are made completely of old sheets cut into strips.

Laurie made this quilt called Global Warming.  She made this quilt entirely from her stash after being inspired by a visit to several national parks.  On the back she included a poem she found in one of the parks.  

Julie made the panels for this quilt of memories from a trip to Egypt completely out of recycled tea bags!  Her instructions read:  "Rinse them, let them dry, and oh yes...empty them before you use them."  The back, batting and binding all came from her stash. 

Doris wrote:  "Throughout the years, my mother-in-law has been giving me all of her leftovers from her quilting years...I came across these drunkard's path blocks.  The bubblegum  color really caught my eye...As I placed them together I noticed that they were not squared, so I undid all the blocks to the simple units.  I trimmed them, sewed them together by machine, and hand quilted them...I hope the person who made them is happy with the job I did!"  A pretty sure bet, Doris, since I can't think of any quilter who wouldn't love one more posthumous finish...and such a treasure!

Once again we had a bumper crop of challenge quilts and so much fun hearing all the stories. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Going to Guild - Green Challenge Winners

It's time for the annual guild challenge show!

In case you haven't been paying attention are a new reader, this year's guild challenge was a green challenge.  There were no size or fabric requirements; the only rule is that there had to be some element of the quilt that you could defend as being "green."

Throughout the year I brought in several examples of entries to get the creative juices flowing.  One month I brought in Bonnie Hunter's book Scraps & Shirttails.  One month I brought in my denim quilt.  One month I brought in an item made with bamboo batting, and another time I brought a UFO that had pieced batting scraps and a pieced back from my stash.

Here are the winners:

Third place went to Lene.  This beauty is made out of her late father's silk ties.  She used red and white silk for the centers and the opposite sides of the log cabins, and silk batting.  She said her machine has never sounded so happy!  Isn't it a beauty?

Second place went to Ben.  When his wife Jackie was alive, one of her favorite things to do was to go thrift shopping.  She was the green queen, and loved to come up with new uses for old clothes.  Aprons from skirts, tote bags from drapes or upholstery samples...and quilts.  This pastoral scene reflects a time when everything was used and reused, before it was cheaper to replace than to repair.  I believe he said all of the pieces in this wool quilt were from Jackie's adventures in thrifting.

First place went to Vicki.  For her artist's statement she wrote:  "This quilt has 2330 pieces of more than 250 men's ties and 30 yards of fabric.  It has over 200,000 hand stitches and has taken more than three years to complete.  I wish to thank my husband for accompanying me to all of the Goodwill stores during our travels to buy men's ties, and also for his contribution of his and all of his relatives' and friends' ties."  

Isn't it amazing?  I wish I had taken more pictures close up.  This whole thing is made up of Cathedral Stars.  I've watched Vicki work on it for what seems like forever.  In person, it almost glows with the gorgeous fabrics and textures.  It is truly a work of art.

And, no, you aren't imagining it.  The WannaBees rocked the house for this year's challenge!  I'm so proud to be able to work and learn alongside these incredibly talented quilters.

Tomorrow I'll share some honorable mentions. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 14 - Deck the Halls

It's Week 14 of the Holiday Grand Plan!

I have been such a bad blogger.  I haven't shared half the recipes or tutorials I promised.  I haven't even given you the challenge update from last month's guild meeting!

BUT...the main floor of my house is pretty darned clean.  I had a little fit right before my cousin and my brother arrived for Thanksgiving and had a major cleaning binge to make up for all the weeks before when I gave it a lick and a promise.

Thanksgiving was lovely, with all the cousins camped out in my family room, far too much delicious food, and a birthday celebration for The Pit Boss.

And now we're down to crunch time.  This is the week to pull out your holiday decorations and tidy that area.  Give away any decorations that you no longer use or care for NOW when someone else might like them.  Pitch the stuff that's falling apart or doesn't work or smells funny.

We're going to mail any overseas cards and get our packages ready for the post office.

Find a Christmas tree and spend a quiet afternoon or cozy evening decorating it.

Are you making homemade gifts?  FINISH THEM, for Pete's sake!  You don't want to be whipping down binding on Christmas Eve.

And I'm going to try to download the 27,000 pictures from my camera so I can get at least partially caught up with all of you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

...from my home to yours.  May you be surrounded by people you love, plenty to eat...

and squeeze in a nap!



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holiday Grand Plan Week 12 - Upstairs/Downstairs

It's Week 12 of the Holiday Grand Plan!  I totally blew off last week, which supposed to be the garage. Oh well...that's the least of my worries!

This week is the week we're supposed to deep clean our attic and/or storage areas.  I don't know about you, but we don't store anything in our attic except the furnace and as much insulation as we can squeeze up there.  It just gets too hot in the summer for anything to survive intact.  My other main storage area is where I keep my holiday decor, an area we'll get to in two more weeks when we pull out the Christmas decorations. 

Instead, I use this week to have a full blown panic attack prepare for Thanksgiving company (my brother and his kids arrive in seven days!) and try to catch up on all the other weeks I've done a half-assed job on or, more likely, skipped completely. 

In other news, let's get going on any last minute goodies to share that we need for Thanksgiving.  I'll try to get the recipes up by tomorrow for Gram's stuffing and our old favorite, Calypso Pie.

In addition to the usual tasks, this week we're going to:
  • Make place cards and centerpiece.
  • Assign each food item a serving dish. I have these out on my dining room table with a note and utensil in each one.
  • Put any disposable foil bakeware needed on your grocery list.
  • Make sure the linens you plan to use are clean and pressed.  I go ahead and put these on the dining room table as well.
Are you playing along?  Just joining in?  Link up!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Day with an Angel

As I've mentioned a few times before, I wasn't one of those people who planned out the most convenient time to have children and then had everything go according to my plan.  One of the things that helped me survive that time was a mutual help support group called SHARE Atlanta.  The families I got to know as I grieved became some of my most trusted and beloved friends. 

Ten years ago, I helped get one of the Christmas Box Angels installed here in Georgia.  SHARE Atlanta had already collaborated with Arlington Memorial Park to beautify their Babyland section of the cemetery; a generous donor made it possible for the angel to be our centerpiece. 

Last Sunday we celebrated the memories of our children, and came together once again in love and support.  I was proud to bring Gracie to meet so many other children who came along after the heartbreak, and to introduce her once again to friends who hadn't seen her since she was a toddler.  She participated with several siblings in lighting the candles, and I read a poem written just for the occasion.

Holding on While Letting Go

Ten years later
I've learned to let go
in a hundred different ways.

My living children look back and wave


as they go
to kindergarten
spend the night
off in the car
on a date.

I know it's coming:

I've learned to hang on
a hundred different ways.

Some things never fade.
love of every shade

My fingers brush the wings of an angel
eternally hopeful
face forever tipped up to heaven
arms open, wings wide
holding on while letting go.

And I know
no matter how long I live
even when I'm a hundred
the love will stay
the memories will remain
the hope will blaze in my heart.

I've made two quilts for SHARE Atlanta.  One was a simple applique of the double heart logo and tagline, "The love stays...forever in our hearts."  The other I made with Pam; yes, that Pam.  Families designed quilt squares which I pieced and Pam machine quilted...back when we were both new at it and terrified, but sure we did not have time to hand quilt! Why can I not find the picture?

Although life goes on and is so good, I love to take time to remember how precious it truly is.  In the day to day rushing around and minor frustrations, it is easy to forget how beautiful and miraculous each one of us is.  I hope you have a moment today to sit and be calm and grateful for all the people who have touched your life, whether they are here with you still or gone long ago. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gifts From the Kitchen - Hot Cocoa Mix

I know this is a repeat from last year, but the holiday season isn't complete without Mom's Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix. 

Holiday Treat of the Week - Mom's "Homemade" Hot Cocoa Mix
Remember those jars you saved when you cleaned out the fridge?  Let the kids decorate the outside of the lids and stir up some hot cocoa mix.  Mix up in the biggest bowl you have and get the popcorn ready for movie night. 
  1. 2 lb box (actually 40 oz) Nesquick
  2. 1 lb powdered sugar
  3. 11 oz jar CoffeeMate
  4. 8 qts powdered milk
Stir together.  To make cocoa, add 2 heaping Tbsps to a cup of hot (not boiling) water.

If you didn't save any jars, it's also quite cute to put the mix in a disposable icing piping bag, top with mini marshmallows, and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Book List

I only read one book this whole month.  Depressing.  I honestly don't remember the last time I read at this pace.  Second grade?  No, I had far more free time then. 

Truthfully, I'm reading a lot.  I'm reading blogs and book reviews and the news.  But while I normally love to lie in bed and read a novel for an hour or more before I fall asleep, lately I've been drifting off before I turn the page.  I blame the weather...and Daylight Savings Time.  Thank goodness we're going to get our hour back this weekend!

After all those excuses, the one book I read is John Sandford's Shock Wave.  I love this man.  Seriously, LOVE him.  I love the way he writes and his heroes and the little funny bits in his stories that make them seem real.  I can't remember which book it was when Lucas Davenport got an iPod and a $100 iTunes gift card.  Lucas decided to buy the hundred greatest rock songs ever; this minor subplot throughout the rest of the book made such an impression on The Pit Boss and I that it has become a running family joke.  Once I even wrote to Mr. Sandford about it; his son wrote back the nicest note explaining that the story was based on a real event in their lives and was a family joke for them too.  LOVE. 

So I can tell you that, yes, we bought this book practically the moment it came out in hardback, both read it cover to cover in less than 72 hours, and I'm holding my breath for this:

Mark Harmon is Lucas Davenport?  ~Swoon~

Mark your calendars.  November 6.

That puts me at forty-seven books in forty-three weeks.

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