Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day NOT!!!!! Kendall's Birthday and Nora Jean

i took this picture of our back yard about an hour ago. I'd love to say APRIL FOOL'S but I'm afraid it's the real thing. This has been one heck of a winter and our front yard has just as much snow as our back yard. if you can enlarge the picture you'll see all of the animal foot prints. we've got quite a busy back yard! that being said, we had to take down our feeders and suets. we love watching and feeding our small birds and woodpeckers but we've seen too many bear in our backyard to keep the feeders up. they've been reporting all over town that the bears are waking up, snow or no snow and they are hungry! the mister and i were coming back from our walk recently and a wolf (yes i said a wolf!) was walking out of our yard to cross the street. it stopped and looked at us and quickly continued on his way. we've also caught 3 raccoons, a coyote, fox and of course deer quite regularly on our game camera.it is fun to watch them pass through.

i made these for kendall's birthday and we filled them with stuff she likes and of course some money. we can't believe she is 13 years old already. i got the pattern for the red and blue bags from the new Sew It magazine that is only $3.99. The mister got me a subscription to it and to the sister magazine Quilt It. they're great magazines for the money and there is always something i want to make that's in it. the lacrosse bag i made by adjusting the size of the bag patterns. very easy to make! the little gift envelope i got off the allpeoplequilt website. it literally takes minutes to make and fits a gift card or cash in it nicely.
for some reason i didn't get a picture of kendi with her cake but her brother will do! they're both so sweet i could just squeeze them to death! (i think I've tried but their father interfered :>} )


 this is the backing I've been working on for my next big quilt. (the top is all finished) it's turning out to look like a modern quilt! i have tried several times to make a modern quilt but i end up switching things up and when I'm done it goes back to looking like a traditional quilt. i am taking my time with this because it is as big as Andrew's quilt is. it's going on our bed and i want it to look nice.....front and back. if i manage to do this right i'll be able to use both sides. fun!



this is a ufo that I finished. i bought the material when i worked at joann's and it is a cheater cloth. i machine tied it because that's what it seemed to need. it came out great and will go in my pile of kiddie quilts to be donated or given to family and friends. i found the perfect binding for it in my stash. do you know how long its been since I've bought material???? it is backed in flannel and is nice and soft. i have enough to make another one and may do that this coming week.
now for our nora jean news. finally we have a diagnosis. she has lymphoma. we took her to the animal hospital about 80 miles from here and she had two hours of surgery and 15 staples in her little belly. she had the staples taken out yesterday by our vet and we will be starting her on chemo and prednisone tomorrow. she'll also be getting a b12 shot once a week for a while. while this type of cancer is not curable, it is very treatable and most cats respond to the treatment very well (so we've been told). she has been a brave little girl and we're hoping and praying for many more years to spend with her. this is the mister giving her a nice "brushy" while she rests.
i took this picture yesterday because, as we all know, she is the best helper cat there is. she is not allowed to jump or climb for a while so she gave me a sweet bliiiip when i put her in her "spot". after checking out the doves and squirrels outside she settled down to listen to my audiobook and the hum of my sewing machine with me. we were both calmer and happier for it. keep good and healing thoughts in your hearts for out nora jean. i'll write again soon. nancyb

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Andrew's Quilt and so much more!


I finally got to give my son Andrew his 40th birthday quilt. the bottom picture is the back and i had it on our bed. when he saw it he said, mom! nice! i said no, no, that's the back and had him help me turn it over (that quilt is BIG!). He was stunned and i could tell he REALLY loved it. there is nothing like the feeling of totally making a loved one happy. the middle picture is when the mister and i were trying to sandwich it. nora jean, of course, was checking it out but her sitting on it makes you realize how big it is. the one i am making the backing for right now is just as big.
this is the quilt I'm entering in the common threads quilt show this year. i am a long distance member of the Wichita Kansas prairie quilt guild. my sister belongs and we attend the meetings together whenever i am visiting her. i don't have a guild to belong to up here and don't know enough people to form a mini group. i miss it and am happy to belong to this very active and awesome group. the pattern for this quilt is called the Mexican star and it was so much fun to make! i bought the pattern quite a few years ago at a quilt show and then never made it. the directions were well written and it was something i hadn't tried before. it is 3 dimensional and when you are all done piecing it together you sew down the corners to give it a cathedral window look. in my 2014 goal to use what i have, i pulled this material from my stash. i love it! I'm going to have it judged. I'm curious to see if i win anything. speaking of judging and judges........there are so many people who are afraid to have their quilts judged (my sister being one of them). I've never understood that. I've gotten some really excellent and helpful criticisms over the years. one year i got a zero from the judge on my quilting! the back of the wall hanging was a mess. i not only wasn't very good at machine quilting yet but it was a new machine and wasn't calibrated correctly. that being said, it was a really cool quilt and i got 11 people's choice votes for my quilt! so what did i learn about this incident? 1. a good judge would never give anyone a zero for anything. everyone needs a few points for effort! 2. a quilt doesn't have to be perfect for people to like it. other than that incident though, my judges comments have been either glowing or a nice but very helpful criticism. so if you are putting your quilt(s) in a show this year try having it judged. its fun!
we have an aunt celebrating her 90th birthday next week and is in a nursing home. i made her two pillowcases. they always seem to go over big with the younger and older generations. i made them very different so that she could have a change of pace when she puts a clean one on her bed. if you make them for a gift don't forget to put their name inside it so it doesn't get lost in the laundry and end up on someone else bed. trust me, from experience, it doesn't go over well! there is a great tutorial for this quick and easy pillowcase on the Missouri star quilt company website.
well i finally used the dress form i made for my granddaughter. it worked well and the skirt i made her came out really cute. we'll see how well it fits her when we visit her next week. she and my grandson have been growing like weeds recently. we may have to make her another dress form for next year!
i'll close with a picture of my grands. i can't believe how mature they're getting. they are such wonderful young people! today i love our grandchildren, who have been such a blessing in our lives. i love my children and my really great daughter in law. they are all such caring human beings. the mister and i are very proud of them. and finally, today my heart and prayers go out to our beloved nora jean. she was back at the vets today. they still haven't found out exactly what's wrong with her. she seems to recover and then starts going downhill again. it just breaks my heart to see her so quiet and still. i hope they'll find out soon! have a great day and i will too. nancyb

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's the Mister's Birthday! projects and its Still cold and snowy here!

March 1, 2014
The Mister and Our New Motorhome!
We went and picked up our new motorhome yesterday. it's a bit smaller than our Minnie was but is perfect for us. we took it for a test drive and we kept hearing a sound like a can rolling back and forth when we would turn a corner. the mister took a panel apart that was under the dining table and there was an extra leg for the dinette rolling around in there! the men must have laid it there when they were putting things together and forgot it. its a good thing the mister is so clever with those things because I would have just put up with the noise. we can't wait to go on a few getaways in it! I don't think this winter is ever going to end. it was minus 5 this morning when we got up and very cold in the house. we are almost out of wood so are using our precious propane. everyone around here is in the same boat. next year we'll make sure we have a bigger supply of wood. when the mister gets his tractor running it'll be put to good use. btw, our neighbor, a nice elderly woman stopped by. she saw the tractor in the yard and asked who we had bought it off. we told her and she smiled and said that it had originally been her husband's and she had sold it to the guy we bought it from! she's going to look to see if there are any spare parts around her place and give them to us. its a small world!!!! well, the mister is having a cold but nice birthday so far. the boys and family are coming up tomorrow for vegetarian spaghetti, homemade bread and salad. they haven't seen the tractor yet and don't know a thing about the motorhome. we can't wait to surprise them!                                          
do you all remember when these potato bags were the rage? well, I made some for gifts and for myself and we all love them. i made two this week. one for our aunt's birthday and one for our new motorhome! if you haven't tried baking a potato in this you've got to try it out. wash the potato, pierce it with a knife and put it in the bag. the bag doesn't close. I've put as much as 4 potatoes in the bag at a time. the more you have in the bag or the bigger the potato, the longer you microwave it. i always start out with 3 minutes. when the beep sounds, i take the sack out, pierce it with a fork to test how much its cooked and then flip the bag over and pierce the other side of the potatoes with a knife. put it back in the microwave for 2-4 minutes and check again using the same process. when they feel done then leave them in the bag while you finish cooking the rest of your supper. they are so tasty! i finally talked my mil through the process one day (she's had hers for 2 years and was afraid to use it). she LOVES it and uses it regularly to cook a potato to go with her supper. there is a special batting to use for these potato bags. i know you can get them online or at joann's. the directions for making one are with it. you don't have to use the potato material. 100% cotton will do fine. i used muslin for the lining. i throw it in the laundry and wash it with the rest of the clothes. this is great for a quick gift. its an easy project and fun.

i totally forgot to even mention valentines day on my last post! this is a wall hanging that i made several years ago. i got it off the allpeoplequilt.com site. i think the pattern is still on the site. I love it and it looks festive! i used it for a table runner this year instead of hanging it on the wall. the mister and i went out to a restaurant we had been curious to try and had a lovely seafood dinner. it was a fun day.

this is another of my ufo's I've been working on. it is 96" X 104". i am not piecing the backing like i did with son Andrew's quilt. I'm going to go to joann's with my trusty coupon and get 3.5 yards of backing material. i have got to stop making these large quilts! they are so hard to put together! this one is staying with us. it goes nicely with our bedroom walls and furniture. I've got one more large quilt to finish and then i'll stay away from them for a while.
i will close with nora jean fixing herself up to take a nice afternoon nap on the new quilt. she feels it is her solemn duty to put her kitty love in everything i make. she's such a helper cat! well, that's it for now. today i love, love, love the mister. i hope his birthday is as wonderful as he is. happy quilting, nancyb

Saturday, February 15, 2014

SJ's dolly dresses, chickens and SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!

February 15, 21014

aren't these dresses absolutely adorable? my great niece, Samantha Jean (my namesake) asked her grandma, my sister, to make them for her. she has the Samantha American girl doll and she also has Molly, which her big sister gave her. she told my sister she needed TWO party dresses, EXACTLY alike, so that when she brought her dolls to her friends houses they could be dressed up. I think my sister outdid herself! my sister lives many states away but "babysits" sammi via the phone when she is home from school. this allows her mother to get things done in the house while my sister amuses her. sammi puts the phone on speaker and goes up to her room and together they play whatever sammi wants. its very cool and a great way for a long distance grandma and granddaughter to get to know each other. sammi is very interested in sewing and crafts. the mister and I had her for a few days this past summer and I was able to give her a few sewing lessons. she is quite talented!
here's sammi at the sewing machine. I started her out by drawing some straight lines on a piece of typing paper and taking the thread out of the machine. I then talked to her and showed her some basics safety measures and then letting her go at it. usually I have to give whomever I'm teaching a few more pieces of paper and more instruction, but sammi just calmly went ahead and followed the lines perfectly. I had her try out the backstitch, the up/down needle and the speed control and she accomplished each the first try. we went right to making pillows and pillowcases for her ag dolls. she was amazing and definitely takes after our maternal side of the family! I can't wait to be able to give her another lesson!
I don't know whether I've told you all about my obsession with chickens. I just think they are so cute! at first I wanted to have chickens up here in northern nh but have realized that I'd just be feeding the fox, fisher cats, coyotes and raccoons that walk through our yard. we catch these animals nightly on our game cameras so we know they're regulars. so I've decided to do the next best thing and collect things with chickens on them. this is my nice new tea mug that I bought at the christmas tree shop. I don't want too much chicken stuff because it will drive the mister crazy but I think he's relieved that I've decided on not buying the real thing right now. he says he still hasn't gotten over the time about 35 years ago that I wanted to get a dog and we talked about it all night and decided not to. he came home from work the next day and our boys were excitedly playing with our new dog. In my defense, nicky (our dog) was a wonderful and loyal pet that we had for 16 years. he really needs to get over these things, don't you think?
sitting under my new chicken mug is my latest ufo project. I am adding 3 rows to what I have done so that it will fit our bed. it will go perfectly in there and I can't wait to finish it. its a real scrappy quilt and I'm using my accuquilt go cutter so its coming along quickly.
this is my view from my sewing machine. I can see the brook to the right and about in the middle is where the deer come by to see if there's anything left of the deer blocks we like to leave out for them. nora jean sleeps in front of my machine. she likes to sew with me but I think she also likes the books on tape that I get from the library. its a comforting place to be and I wish for all of you today to have a nice peaceful place to rest and reflect. today I am grateful for my family. I hope my sister gets over her cold quickly so she can make Samantha jean more ag doll clothes! I'm thankful for my sons who are a blessing to me even though they don't call their mother as often as she would like :>} I am not grateful for all the snow we've been getting....14" yesterday and 4-6 more to come today! I'm not bothered by the snow but the mister is tired of dealing with it. I can't blame him! see you all soon.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy 40th birthday Andrew! Big Quilts & Doll Clothes.

January 5, 2014
hi everyone! it is a very snowy day here in the northeast. we've got at least 8 inches and it's still snowing. it makes it nice and cozy in our little house. to warm up our kitchen this morning I made cinnamon rolls from scratch. they were SO GOOD! I love being retired!!!! below is a picture of my son Andrew and his grandmother (the mister's mom) in December. its hard to believe he's 40 years old! where has the time gone! my mil isn't looking too shabby for 92 either! I asked him if he wanted anything special for his birthday and he said he'd like another quilt. a BIG one to fit his king size bed.... and blue!

I took this ufo top I had and added a couple more rows to it and made it 96X96. if it isn't big enough....well that's as big as I could do! I then took a bunch of my blues (I still have so many blues left) and pieced them together to make the back. he can always turn the quilt over and use the back for a change of pace! I've been taking a machine quilting class through craftsy by leah day and used a couple of the suggestions she had. it really did make quilting this quilt so much easier! since it was so big and busy, I did an overall stippling pattern on my hq16. fancy designs wouldn't have shown up. I really like how it came out. sandwiching the quilt was the hardest part. if the mister hadn't helped me I never would have done it! boy those big quilts are hard but so worth it when you're done! I have two more ufo's that I'm making for our bedrooms and the only thing I dread is sandwiching them. my goal for 2014 is to finish those quilts. one down and two to go! btw, this is the jewel box pattern. its one of my go-to patterns when I want something easy but interesting. I used my accuquilt go cutter to cut the squares and triangles. it makes it so fast and easy! one of the habits I started in 2012 was to cut up any small pieces I had left over from my projects into useable squares, trangles and strips. I have plastic boxes filled with all of my cutouts. my sewing studio is looking more organized and better every day!

after I was done Andrew's quilt I needed something easy and fun to work with so I made this little table runner. it was fun and came out cute. the pattern was free on the internet.

I had a nice big sale with the American girl doll clothes I make. I sold 6 poncho/hat sets, several knit hats and these skirt and blouse outfits. I put the money I made in my swear jar (yes, I'm still using the jar and working on my spicy mouth which has improved tremendously!). I'm saving up for a new laptop. I haven't counted how much money I have but my jar is stuffed!!! :>)
and finally, here is our nora jean putting her kitty love in Andrew's quilt. she is still not feeling well and the vet has done every test going with no defining answers. she thinks nora may have an ulcer due to the flea allergy she developed last summer. our poor darling!

today I am grateful for our new vet who is very caring and thorough with our nora. I am glad that nora is still with us and seems to be improving. a big thank you to my mister who helps me with whatever it is I need. much love to my wonderful son Andrew. you've been a pleasure and a source of pride to dad and me. happy birthday!
have a great day and I will too! nancyb

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Things I Did in 2013

Is everybody staying warm? we are, but just barely! it was 6 degrees when I got up this morning and that's the warmest its been here in a week. I can't remember such a cold winter! we are fortunate that we put in extra batting in our eaves and increased the size of our biasi furnace last year. we are not using much propane compared to everyone else around here but our wood pile is going down fast.



 Looking through my pictures, I was surprised at how much quilting and sewing that I accomplished last year! this one is my favorite. my son Andrew's good friend is a buyer for brooks brothers and saved me a whole bunch of shirt material samples that she had. I came across this pattern on the internet and wanted to try it. I still had a bunch of old jeans from my grandson Paxton's quilt and decided it was perfect for this project. it was fun to make. it was a quilt as you go process so I was able to make it as large as I wanted. I was tempted to make it fit the bed but it was getting way too heavy so I made it twin size. it looks really great on the bed and will be a great "drag around" quilt.

 I never showed you Kendall's birthday quilt! I made curtains from material she picked out for her room and with this quilt her room looks great! there is nora jean putting her kitty love into the quilt before I quilted it. she loves quilts and kendall.

this is an I spy quilt I made for my son Gregory's office. he is a school councilor and loves his job. this is the first quilt I have ever pieced by hand. once I got going on it, it was really a lot of fun. I took the patches with me to my sister's house in august and worked on them there and while waiting for my plane connections. I fussy cut some things that I thought his kids could relate to. there is an I spy patch of a man with dark hair and glasses and everyone picks it out as Mr Y-B! I've made so many
I Spy quilts (at least 30!) but I discovered when I made this with the English paper piecing method the edges you sew are all on the bias so you can fit the hexies wonderfully. I machine quilted it to give it strength and I put a cool kitty material on the back. all in all, a success!
this is a wall hanging I made for my niece's birthday. I hardly ever buy kits because I like to put my own color scheme into things. this ufo kit had to be quite old and a really good price for me to buy it. they are the colors that my niece, Cynthia, likes so I decided to make it for her. the directions were so confusing and terrible! if I bought this as a new quilter there's no way I could have made it. I finally had to just look at the colored picture on the front and use that as a guide because the directions were that bad! it was really cute when it was finished but I hope whoever was selling this kit has improved the directions on it!
this last quilt was a "mile a minute" quilt. I just had to try it! it was fun to make and so quick! I did the entire quilt in about 8 hours and that was just taking my time and enjoying the process. I thought it looked too plain so I machine quilted big flowers on it and it really dressed it up. I gave it to a good friend as a gift for her wedding. it's lap quilt size and should make a good "throw" quilt. she and her new husband were traveling by car across the country to their new home so I wanted something she could use right away and would be easy to pack. this is a great beginners quilt or if you're like me, some days you just want to sew!

well, its time to make the mister and myself some breakfast. oatmeal or eggs and toasts? mmmmmm big decisions when you're retired!!!! today I love the fact that winter is half over and we have survived it quite well thank you!

p.s. we caught a total of 8 squirrels last week and dropped them off 3 miles up the road in the national forest. we now have 2 more in our back yard. did they find their way back or are they new? I wanted to spray paint their little butts after we caught them and before we released them but the mister said NO! regardless, these two aren't climbing up our siding to get to our birdfeeders. the blue jays seem to have gone with the squirrels. so for now, things are peaceful up here in the wonderful white mountains of nh. our little birds and woodpeckers are enjoying the homemade suet and birdseed and we are enjoying watching them. if the feeder gets too low the little guys sit on our windowsill peeking into the kitchen. like their saying.....helloooo! we're out of food here!  have a great day and I will too. nancyb




Monday, January 13, 2014

Linen water and vodka!

January 13, 2014

Good morning everyone! have you ever made your own best press? the first time I tried it I LOVED IT! I got it as a gift about 10 years ago and quickly used it up. well, I went to buy some more and was stunned at how much it cost! I looked up the "recipe" for it and I thought I had ended up in the wrong site or that it was a joke. I found that all the recipes included vodka. its to preserve the linen water (or best press)! who da figured? so I've been making my own ever since. its not quite as good as Best Press but does the job and costs only pennies. I am an ironer and go through a lot of this stuff. you can use any type of vodka you want. the cheaper the better! I used the smirnoffs because it was a gift! as I was leaving to go to the liquor store, I mentioned to the mister that if I died before him, when "they" were cleaning out my sewing stuff and came across my vodka bottle, I'd appreciate him explaining why I had an opened bottle of vodka down in my studio. "mmmmmmmmm," he replied with a little smirk on his face, "sure I will". I'm suspecting he won't so let it be said here. I am not a closet vodka drinker (although some days I've thought about it). here's the recipe I use:
Nancy's Linen Water
1/4 cup vodka (any kind)
10-20 drops lavender oil or any fragrance you like
mix this together and then add 2 cups distilled water

I use the original Best Press bottle and I taped the recipe right on the bottle. as simple a recipe as it is, I still forget the amounts! this is a really inexpensive alternative to best press and your material smells really nice as you're ironing, but the scent doesn't overwhelm you or stay. try it and tell me how you like it.




this is one of the gifts I made for Christmas this year. The top pillow I made for my dil using the Cocheco Mill works collection I had on hand. I made a large pocket in the back of the pillows (like you see in photo #2) that holds a magazine, journal or book. I made the other two pillows (with a pocket in the back) to match the quilts I made my grandchildren for their birthdays. the mister and I put an envelope with cash in it for each, with a magazine that they would be interested in, some candy and a note. They are 12 & 14 now and seemed to like this gift. I was happy with how the pillows came out. in the middle picture I tucked in the fairy doll I made my great niece, Sammi. btw, that fairy book is really good. it gives good guidance on how you can make your own fairy. it also has a great section on making felt gnomes. i used some specialty yarn i had kicking around and glued it to her head for her hair. it came out really cute and Sammi loved it. I would recommend this book if you're interested in making fairies.

and finally........this is what i made for my etsy shoppe to sell. I never did get my shoppe up and running again but plan on it soon. these outfits are never wasted though. sadly, my granddaughter has outgrown her dolls but my great niece (who is 8)has  American girl dolls. I can always give her the leftover outfits . it is hard to sell my crafts up here because I no longer have a customer base. between work and my girlfriends in the seacoast and my boys in college, I never needed to advertise anything I was selling! one of my goals for 2014 is to become more proactive with my etsy shoppe and I thought I might go around to some of the specialty shops around here to see if they would let me put my wares in on consignment. I also need to be more aware of the background when I'm taking my pictures! this is obviously an unfinished wall down in my sewing studio. i'll have to retake these pictures for my etsy shoppe! i will put the info for my shoppe on this blog when I get it all set again.
meanwhile, the mister and I are catching squirrels in our have-a-heart traps and we just caught #2. we are taking them up the road and releasing them in the national forest. we were ignoring them because of the weather but yesterday we counted 8 in our back yard. they are eating the birdfood and word is getting out that its a great place to dine. we don't want them trying to get in the house and we do want to feed our winter birds. well, i'll write again very soon. I still haven't caught up on all I want to tell you! have a great day and I will too! nancyb