Monday, February 28, 2011

A Gift of Summer on a Winter Day

Watermelons just say "summer" to me!
Picnics! Backyard barbeques! The Beach! Cool, juicy watermelon to refresh on even the hottest summer day! Ah ... I just cannot wait for the warm weather to return to my quilty corner of the world.

Last summer I joined a "Sizzlin' Summer Table Runner Swap" on Q&N. Partners were paired and ideas and wishes went out and we all got busy sewing just the right gift of summer for our friend. Well, I was paired with a lovely lady as my partner. I had just the right fabric and the perfect pattern jumped right out of a magazine. Plans were even laid to meet and swap our gifts in person at a quilt show ... but, as life happens ... best laid plans sometimes go astray ... at least on my end.

This old house felt like it was falling down around our ears ... everything seemed to break at once. All time and energy went to just trying to keep everything working. At the end of the day there was not much sewing or quilting happening. By the early fall I was as rundown as the house and even the pretty fabric calling could not get me moving again. Guilt set in, as I knew I was letting down my quilty pals. I could not even find a good book to read. My seasonal sinus problems set in and head just hurt. Visits to the doctor did not help much and sinus meds made no lasting improvement. Finally in December I went in for my bi-annual eye exam and I found I could not even read the largest letters on the chart without blurring. Now how did I let that happen? I have always had vision problems and know I have to take care of my eyes. Well, after the first of the year, I got my new glasses ... and the doctor warned me that it would take some time for my eyes to adjust to the vastly changed prescription ... and, after a lot of tweaking of the frame adjustment, I got the bifocals in the right place that I could see what I was sewing ... and what I had sewed looked pretty bad ...

... sew ... it was back to the beginning.

I started with the long overdue table topper. I had actually made one. No pictures of that one will be seen. I thought about keeping it for the cats to enjoy, but, no ... I do not want to ever see it again so it has gone to warm the landfill.

I got the original pattern out. It is from the Jul/Aug 2010 issue of Fons and Porter magazine and is called "Veranda Sunrise" Just lovely! Yep... still the one that I wanted to make. But one of the units which in the magazine called for machine-appliqued bias strips. I am just no good at anything beyond the simplest of applique. I am sure there is nothing wrong with the pattern as designed, but I re-designed the "watermelon slice" units to be pieced curves and did them on my machine. I picked watermelons in part because red is the favorite color of the friend for whom I was making the topper. These machine pieced slices of summer came out sew much better for me.

When it came time to think about the backing, I decided that since it would be a few months before picnics and watermelon are enjoyed here in the northeast that I should make a two-sided "Spring Into Summer" table topper. I used red again as the focus color and added soft yellow and pink and green. The wavy striped "watermelon rind" fabric went very well with both sides.

So here is the "backside" of this table topper ...

My gift at last got to its new home today and I also opened the box which my friend mailed to me last August which was still sitting unopened in its mailing box.


I have a very wonderful Watermelon table topper of my own, which my friend, Cherie, made for me. The piecing and stitching on this one is just so perfect! The fabrics are fabulous and my kitchen table looks so bright and summery on the cold, bleak, gray winter day.

I should not be feeling so pleased with myself and my gift ... after all the months I took to complete this commitment. I am, though. It feels "sew good" to be sewing again!

On to my next long overdue commitment ... one of the two Round Robin 2010 borders that I still need to sew and send. No pictures yet of the one I am working on. My patient friend Sherry has hers in the non-peekers album.

ummmmmmm ... about my own Round Robin that I sent out last January? ... it is complete and still sealed in the package that Ann sent to me ... waiting for me to enjoy after I get these others on their way ...

I am so blessed to have such good and patient quilty friends ...

time to sew .... :) Pat

Friday, February 25, 2011

"What Are Words"

"What are words if you really don't mean them ...
if they're only for good times ...
when it's love ... yeah, you say them outloud ...
they never go away ...
they live on ... even when we're gone ..."

By Chris Medina, 2011

Not my usual type of post, but music plays a constant soundtrack in the background of my life ... and this song will forever become a part of it.

Listen ...

... and if it touches you the way it touches me, buy the single ...

... and may Chris and Juliana know that they are loved ...

Casting the only vote I may make for American Idol this year right here ...

;) Pat

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patches of brightness to warm this Winter Day

Yesterday's special dessert is pictured above ... a fresh fruit pie called Berry Lover's Delight with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I received the recipe in a free email newsletter from this Pillsbury site:

Berry Lover's Delight Pie

You would have to login to get the recipe. It is free and I have found some good easy recipes on this site. Very often I adapt them to our taste. For example, I used my own pie crust recipe, as I much rather make my own from scratch than use a refrigerator crust.
My pie actually looked like the one on their website and it was yummy! In the recipe you placed fresh fruit in the baked pie shell and made a glaze from cooking some of the berries and straining it and thickening it with cornstarch. Well, the recipe did not tell you what to do with the extra fruit pulp after you drained the syrup. I was not sure if I should add it to the pie and I did not want to waste it so I took the leftover pie crust from making the pastry heart cut-outs and rolled it to make a tart with the combined cooked strawberries and blueberries. This was the result ... an extra dessert ... a little "rustic" fruit tart. It was also yummy! I will make this recipe again as it was not too sweet and maybe I will add the cooked fruit into the pie and put a lattice crust on it and bake it as a regular two-crust pie. ;)

It has been a long winter so far and there is a few more weeks to go. A lot of things have been keeping me from sewing and blogging but things are better and I am going to make more of an effort to keep up with these activities which I enjoy.

Although today is very cold and wind has a distinct bite to it, winter is getting old and gray and starting to lose its teeth. This does also mean that the beautiful white snow is now reduced to icy, dirty piles ... still huge icy dirty piles ... but they did melt some and the ice is just about off the roof, thank goodness! We have had some wet ceilings in the last few storms.
The best news I have is that I have been sewing again and it feels so nice to have the pretty fabric flowing through my fingers. I am working on a long-overdue project which is a surprise gift for a friend ... so no pictures yet. The biggest surprise for my very patient friend will likely be getting it at all. I have not been a very good partner in this swap and the one she made for me is still sitting unopened in the box in which she mailed it to me. I could not enjoy it while I knew I had let her down, so we shall someday soon open our gifts at the same time ... as it should have been months ago.

I have also been running another Layer Cake Swap!
My friend Annette wrote to me about co-hosting a fabric swap she wanted to run at the beginning of the year and we set up a vote on the Quilt & Needle and one thing led to another and it ended with her running the "Creamy Neutrals Layer Cake Swap" and me running the "Jewel Batik Layer Cake Swap" at the same time.

Here some photos of these gorgeous batik fabrics ...
... as usual, I had my curious furry little helpers with me in the sewing area. What would I do without them?
I really enjoy receiving these bright fabric layers in the mail during the winter gloom and sitting down to swap and sort them. The fabrics are all beautiful and different and each square is a treasure.

I have everything swapped and today I am packing the "layer cakes" back in the baggies and tucking them into the return packages for the trip Friday to the post office.

I have fabric from several swaps now that I hope to be turning into quilts someday soon. With the price going up on fabric, I think I am going to be happy I have such a stash built up to choose from. Well ... having lots of pretty fabric stashed makes me happy anyway ...
;) Pat