How Fun Was That?

Taking a chance on trying new things.

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Quilting – A Not So Lost Art

I am so lucky to have a mother that decades ago took the time to teach me to sew.  I received my first sewing machine from my grandmother because she just couldn’t make the transition from a treadle to an electric machine.  I put many hours on that first machine making clothes and a few crafts.  In 1979 I bought a brand new Kenmore sewing machine and this is the machine that I still use.  While my children were growing up, I used it quite a bit for clothes but over the past 10 to 15 years, it has been sitting idle in the basement.


Sophie – The Best Dog in the Whole World

After seeing the beautiful quilts that my son’s lady friend, Meghan, had created I decided to unpack my machine and see if I could create some craftiness.  Just a word of warning – leaving a sewing machine in a basement is not a good idea.  Thankfully, my dad was able to get it all oiled up and working in tip-top shape.

I decided to start small so I made a camouflage baby quilt.  My sister-in-law and her husband are going to be first-time grandparents and the “theme” for the baby’s room at their house is camo.  It turned out quite cute and was a real confidence booster.  I also had done a Fred’s Spool quilt top for the guest bedroom but decided against quilting it.  Instead I made it into a duvet cover.  Oh, and I can’t forget my precious dog, Sophie; she has her own quilt to lay on.

During these practice runs, I decided that to commemorate my daughter and son-in-law’s upcoming five-year anniversary I would make them a quilt.  I wanted it to reflect the beautiful view that they see every day – the Pacific Ocean.  The other criteria was that the fabric would come from a quilt shop in Indianapolis – Crimson Tate:: Modern Quilter.  I had been following the owner, Heather Givans, on Facebook and wanted to use some of her fabrics.  So enter the modern age – FaceTime!!!  On one of Meghan’s excursions to Indy, she set aside some time to FaceTime with me to select my fabrics.  I was also able to meet Heather and she was just as I imagined – passionate about fabric and quilts.  A week later when Meghan and my son, Eric, came to visit my fabric came with them.  Perfect timing, as I had a four-day week-end that turned into a five-day week-end.  Bonus!!

So how to turn yards of fabric into a quilt?  For me, it starts with planning the design.  I decided on a pattern that caught my eye over at Cluck Cluck Sew.  Although it was posted as a baby quilt, I had a feeling this was the pattern I wanted and I was right.  Now the fun begins with cutting and sewing the pieces together.  Thank goodness for the modern convenience of a rotary cutter and mat.  Old school would have me using pinking shears – not so much!!!


Just a few of the squares ready for piecing.

A little explanation of the fabric choices.  The inspiration fabric is in the upper left corner – all the microbes and plankton that can be found in the ocean.  To the right are the “shells” that wash up on the beach.  In the lower left corner is the sun and sand and to the right is the “sea weed”.  It all reminds me of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the fun I had during my last visit.

I am straying from my story…..having a long week-end and plenty of fabric makes a quilt top go very fast.  I learned about squaring up quilt squares and how important it is to the overall quilt top.  You can see my handy-dandy block squarer-upper in the next picture.  As I sewed each square and row into place, the design started to come alive.  I was getting so excited to see the finished product.  In only a week, I had completed the top and just needed to start working on the back.


All cut and ready to sew.

After a few attempts at piecing the back (another lesson learned in planning) I was ready to put it all together.  Oh, and it helps to buy the right size batting.  I have a few in my stash now for future projects.

I thought about it all day at work and I was ready to take the plunge.  I had decided on a simple quilting design to put it all together.  I had no idea that this quilt was going to weigh at least 100 lbs.  Okay, so I’m exaggerating but it certainly felt like it.  A full night of quilting and then I was ready to put on the binding; that would wait until the next night.  Something else I learned to do – make my own bias tape.  Pinterest to the rescue!!


Here it is!!!

And then it was done.  I couldn’t believe that I had created this quilt.  I still loved the colors and design and how it all came together.  Each time  I worked on it, I couldn’t help but wonder how the recipients would like it and how much I missed them.  Perhaps this was a way to let them know they are thought about each and every day.

I hope that Lisa and Kyle enjoy this quilt as much as I did creating it.  I hope that it will bring some warmth on those cold, foggy San Francisco days and remind them of another  west coast – Lake Michigan – and the family that loves them.

And “How Fun Was That???” – it was AWESOME!!!  Time to get started on another.

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Woolie and Not-So-Woolie Sheep

Thanks to Facebook, I received a notice that there would be a sheep shearing day only 30 miles away.  Who could resist?  Not me.  I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and after a few errands, headed south to Shady Side Farm.  I had forgotten how much I missed being on a farm.  My grandparents had dairy cows 50+ years ago (gosh, do I sound old??) and I loved spending time helping out in the barn and in the fields.  OK, I digress….

So here are a few waiting their turn.  I had an interesting talk with the farm wife and she explained that they stage a couple sheep in the chute so the rest will follow – herd mentality in action.  They get about 8 lbs. of wool but after washing and processing, it gets down to about 4 lbs. of useable wool.


There were two shearers – the young lady on the right was a “newbie”.  I talked with her after a bit and she had only sheared 10 sheep within the last year.  Unfortunately for this sheep, she had a bit of an “accident” and the sheep required some stitches.  Her dad – man of the farm – did the surgery and the sheep was on it’s way.

The shearer on the left seemed to be an expert even for his young age – I’m guessing early 20s.  I found out that there is a group of older shearers in the state that are looking for youngsters to learn the craft.  There is also a sheep shearing school in September that teaches the finer points.   Who knew?

It was remarkable to me that the sheep were so calm.  Just lay them back and they just relaxed.


That’s going to make some nice warm socks!!


I hung out in the barn for a while and checked out the Black-faced Sheep.  I thought I had a picture, but not so much.  There were quite a few lambs that had been born and they were not far from their mothers.

Before I left the farm, I took a look around their store.  There were knitted items from Frankenmuth made from Shady Side Farm wool and also a young woman spinning some yarn.  Tucked away in a corner was a display of heirloom organic dried beans.  I couldn’t resist so I purchased a bag of Jacob’s Cattle Beans.  They are currently simmering with some carrots, onion and celery with some ham tossed in and seasoned with some basil and pepper.  Can’t wait until they are ready for tasting.

A thirty-minute drive and “How Fun Was That”?  Awesome!!

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San Francisco – Day 2

Although my goal is to try something new each day, my breakfast just had to be Brioche French Toast and a bowl of coffee from La Boulange Bakery on Fillmore.  It was incredible and just as I remembered.  Such deliciousness.  Then it was off to walk in Muir Woods.  Majestic redwoods amidst the quietness of nature.  I had never been there so it was a new place to visit and enjoy.  We spent several hours walking through the woods, gazing toward the sky and trying to see the tops of the trees.  Many pictures were taken by my daughter to help us remember our visit.  I even saw my first banana slug.  Such a relaxing afternoon and then it was time to head back to the city for our evening adventure.

As if we didn’t get enough exercise, it was time for some line dancing.  A few nights before my arrival in San Francisco, I received a mysterious text regarding line dancing.  Well, it’s a new adventure so let’s give it a whirl.  After all, how hard can it be?  My daughter’s co-worker is part of a non-profit that provides a venue for country line dancing and as luck would have it, a 3-day event was on the horizon.  After we gathered with some of my daughter’s friends,  our host offered to give us an advance lesson to help bolster our confidence.  In just a few minutes, they were good to go.  Me – Not So Much!!!  The twirling was going to be my downfall.  Off they went to the dance floor, however, the music suddenly was much faster than the lesson steps.  As the song progressed, people were spit out like watermelon seeds up against the wall.  So much fun to watch people that knew what they were doing.  It wasn’t much longer and my daughter convinced me to get on the dance floor.  The song sounded familiar and I had mustered the courage to give it my all.  Well, again – Not So Much!!!  I could feel myself being flung from the mix as if the dance was saying, “You are not quite ready.  You need practice.”  So many people having a great time.  I was so grateful to have had the experience.


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San Francisco – Day 1

It had been a long time, 4 1/2 years in fact, since I had visited my daughter and son-in-law.  I decided that now was the time and my mission was to try something new every day.  My adventure would start with electronic check-in from home but still printed out my boarding passes.  Return trip will have an added twist.

The flight was uneventful and gave me much-needed reading time on my Kindle, which I had not used for quite some time.  Ah….this electronic age – I love it.  Texted the hubby when I landed and then it was off to gather my belongings and meet up with “the kids”.  Our big decision was where to have dinner; so many options in this wonderful city.  We decided on Pacific Cafe, and I had a dinner so delicious – Wild Shrimp Louisiana.  Absolutely, spicy goodness.  Then it was time to plan the rest of my trip; so many things to fit in.  Time for some shut-eye and pleasant dreams.