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Monday, December 27, 2010

Amaryllis

     The weather on Christmas was perfect and that's what we need to remember as we dig out from the blizzard we woke up to this morning. Fortunately for me, one of my wonderful neighbors has plowed out my driveway. Life is good!
                                            
     Here is my five dollar amaryllis that I purchased at Ocean State Job Lot. There are four big flowers and three more yet to open. Wow!
      On a sad note, my cute little pine tree, pictured in my previous post, that I decorate each year with Christmas ornaments  has become a victim of the blizzard. I can't be sure, but it looks as if the top of the tree has snapped off.  Darn!  It was a DPW sapling giveaway on a recycling day about ten years ago and has grown into a fine little Christmas tree which was taller than I am.                                                              

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Greetings

I snapped this photo of Katie on Monday just as the snow began falling.
Also, I saw the cutest holiday youtube video yesterday. Check it out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4_EdJ-XkUA It will definitely put a smile on your face.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Believe in the Gift

      Tonight I went with friends to the National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette in Attleboro, MA, to see the Christmas Festival of Lights.  I had never been there before. According to the info on the shrine's website, there are over 300,000 lights on display. It was freezing cold but beautiful. The theme for this year  is
After strolling the grounds, we attended a concert in the chapel with Father Pat who has a most wonderful voice.
     I would encourage anyone to bundle up and head to Attleboro, MA, to see this incredible, colorful display.
      [One tip though, eat before or after visiting the shrine as the cafeteria there isn't very good.]

For more information and a schedule of events,  go to http://www.lasalette-shrine.org/Christmas.html
                                                

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Villa Quilt Completed!!!

        In September I traveled to Meleto, Italy, to attend an art quilt workshop taught by Esterita Austin, http://esteritaaustin.com/. It was awesome! If you click on the link, you will see  a brief Youtube  overview of the trip.
        I am beyond thrilled to report that my piece is finally completed and is now hanging in my living room.  It's a lovely reminder of a wonderful trip.
       Here is a view of the villa's courtyard.
                          
     Esterita (Teri) provided us with a full size pattern of the scene, but I made a couple of  changes. Teri had issued us each an "official creative license," so I turned the above structure into another house and because I loved the rolling hills and fields on the way to Siena, I incorporated those into my background.
The finished piece measures 30 x 24, and the actual quilted piece is brighter than it appears in this photo.
    Here are two close-up shots to give you a better look at the piece. The color in these photos is much more accurate.


     I have many photos from the trip that I hope to make into quilt pieces based on what I learned at this workshop.
  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Open House at A&P Orchids

     I attended an open house with two orchid loving friends at A&P Orchids in Swansea, MA on  Saturday. The greenhouses were filled with wonderful plants. Here is a cymbidium that I purchased. Cymbidiums have done well for me in the past spending the spring, summer, and fall months on my sunporch. I can only hope that I will have similar luck with this beauty.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday Night Football

     One of the great things about being retired is that you can stay up just as late as you want. Last night that meant watching every last minute of the New England Patriots crushing the New York Jets 45 to 3. It was awesome!
     I was driving by Gillette Stadium this afternoon, so I stopped to snap this photo. It's probably as close as I'll ever get to attending a Pats game in person.

       I was in the area because I had made a quick trip to the Quilters Stash in North Attleboro, one of my very favorite quilt shops as I needed some fabric to complete the binding for my villa quilt. Hopefully, I will be posting a photo of the finished piece in a day or two. I'm really excited about how it has turned out.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Contoocook Artisan Fair

Yesterday, my friends Donna, Edith and I headed to Hopkinton, N.H. to attend the 33rd Annual Contoocook Artisan Holiday Craft Fair. Donna purchased a beautiful basket to hold  a small portion of her fabric stash, Edith purchased some ornaments as did I along with a pair of earrings. After that we stopped by a smaller craft fair at the depot in Contoocook. A portion of the proceeds of which go to maintaining the depot site.
              
 There I treated myself to a gorgeous rayon chenille scarf.
           I have learned that it is good to treat yourself once in a while.  After this it was on to Daniel's Restaurant in Henniker for lunch. Wonder of wonder, we didn't stop at Quilted Threads, one of our very favorite quilt shops. We did, however, make a quick stop at the Pine Tree Quilt Shop in Salem, N.H.

      Now in case you are wondering, Contoocock, N.H., is about an hour and a half from Boston. Some of us bring our quilts up to Dancing Crane Quilting to be machine quilted by Suki Wright. She is one of the nicest people who you could ever meet and her work is wonderful. And did I mention that a trip up usually includes going to lunch and a stop at Quilted Threads?



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hallelulah

   A friend sent me this link today. http://www.philly.com/philly/video/106492678.html  Over 650 voices from 28 choirs participated in a FlashMob singing of Handel's Messiah at the Philadelphia Macy's recently. It was arranged by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Take a moment and watch this cool video.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Plymouth Daredevil

   Yesterday I drove down to the Cape to visit two quilt shops. I found the fabric that I was looking for and rest assured I did my small part to help the economy. On the way home I decided to stop in Plymouth for lunch at the Lobster Hut. Later, heading along the waterfront I spotted a very large green kite. I continued on, but then my curiosity got the better of me and I circled back to take a closer look. This is what I saw.
   Let me tell you, it was bitter cold and windy. I can't even imagine the temperature of the water.  The wind gusts were so strong that this guy would be periodically lifted high up in the air before splashing down into the water.  He would then skim across the waves at a terrific speed. I'm sure he was having the time of his life and while it was thrilling to watch, I definitely won't be taking up this sport.                  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cactus Starting to Bloom

This cactus surely must love its spot in my sewing room as the plant is now covered with buds. A few have just started opening. Isn't the color specular?
                                          

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quilting in Vermont

      Five friends and I returned last night from a four-day quilt weekend at The Strong House Inn in Vergennes, Vermont. We had attended another quilt weekend at the inn in June, and that experience had been so delightful that we decided to return. We met two lovely ladies from Montreal and another group of talented, fun ladies who have been coming to the inn together for many years.  Here's a photo of the group taken in the library.
 The inn offers workshops with well-known teachers and also packages without instruction.    For more information, visit  http://quiltinginvermont.stronghouseinn.com/   
        I completed this autumn inspired quilt top during the weekend.

 Finally, meet Duke, resident greeter at The Strong House Inn.  His brother tends to be much shyer, but Duke loves to keep all of the ladies company while they quilt.
                                          


                                        

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Last night, I went with a friend to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. She always find interesting things for us to do.  There were thousand of carved, lit pumpkins along the trail and in the pond. It was really something to see. There were pumpkins depicting famous people and scenes from different periods in history and pop culture along with hundreds of other "regular" carved pumpkins.
You were not allowed to use flash photography or a tripod, so these photos are hand held shots.
Here's one of my favorites.
Even the Duke was there.

The event runs through Halloween. Here's my advice if you decide to visit this Halloween spectacular. The gates open at 6:00, and it is very crowded at that time. Wait until 7:30 when the first rush is leaving and you will be less crowded on the trail, and you will be able  to park closer to the entrance. Also go Monday through Thursday as the weekend has the peak crowds.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Puppy Girl Katie


My miniature schnauzer was groomed today, and she looked so cute that I thought I would post this photo. The flash makes it appear as if she is white but in reality she is salt and pepper grey. She's my pride and joy and also my fitness buddy as we take long walks  each and every day.
                                            

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cranberry Harvest


I love living in New England and truly enjoy all four seasons. The foliage has not been very spectacular this year no doubt due to the dry, incredibly hot summer that we had. In search of some fall color, I headed down to Carver last weekend to see if any bogs were being harvested and took these photos.



                                                                                                                      

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Treasure of Montano Bay

 "Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. . . " was the theme of the challenge issued for our recent guild show. I decided to create an underwater cove based on ideas and techniques  explained in Judith Baker Montano's wonderful book, Fiberart Montage - Combining Quilting, Embroidery, and Photography with Embellishments. This was my first attempt at an art quilt, and I really enjoyed the journey.

In her book, the author uses velvet to create the walls of the cove. This would give incredibly richness to the piece, but as a beginner I decided to try something else. The walls of my cove were created using multi-colored batiks and Texture Magic which after some experimentation yielded just the effect which I was looking for. My friend, also named Janice, is a  jewelry maker, and she gave me access to her vast collection of beads. I thought the piece needed something more, so I added a treasure chest overflowing with pearls, rubies, and gold. That explains the title of the piece which I named in honor of the author.
  I was thrilled with the final  product. My only regret was that I didn't make it larger. The finished piece measures just fourteen by sixteen.   Some day I may revisit this subject.                      

Friday, October 8, 2010

Summer Breeze - Kaleidoscope Quilt

While I was in Tuscany, the Herring Run Quilt Guild of which I am a member had a wonderful show. What with preparations for my trip, I barely had this quilt finished in time. This paper pieced kaleidoscope quilt was from the March/April 2008 issue of Fons & Porter Love of Quilting, and it took me about a year and a half to complete the eighty blocks.

I belong to a group which meets once a month for the weekend at a local hotel. We set up our machines and supplies and then come and go as we wish returning to our homes each night. During the course of the weekend, there is usually a visit or two to local quilt shops.  It's a fantastic arrangement. Anyway, I'm sure those ladies never thought I would get this done as it was all I ever worked on, and truth to tell, I'm not the world's fastest paper piecer. I liked having this project though as I always knew what I would be working on and would just pick up the project box and be off.

I'll try to post a better photo soon which shows the borders. It is a large quilt and my friend's arms were not long enough to hold it up and out straight!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Balmy Day at the Beach

Last week I suggested to friends that Nantasket Beach would be a great place to meet for a walk. We usually meet at Webb State Park. I remember the joy of walking the beach on warm September mornings last year and feeling as if I was playing hooky from school. We met this morning just as the drizzle began getting steadier and steadier. Hearty New Englanders that we are, off we went. We walked the length of the beach and back which was close to two miles with the ocean spray giving us marvelous facials. We saw only four other brave souls on the route including a women with a small black dog nattily attired in a hot pink, floral raincoat. Were we all nuts? No, it was fun, and it was an adventure, and that's what life is all about. Of course, after our healthy walk we immediately crossed the street to have a calorie-laden breakfast at Toast. Y'mmm . . . life is good!

     It was much nicer last Sunday when I took this photo from Fort Revere in Hull.
                                                                            

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quilting Under the Tuscan Sun

I've just recently returned from an amazing art quilt workshop in Tuscany. The instructor and organizer of the trip was award-winning quilter, Esterita Austin. It was truly a dream vacation. I had first seen Esterita  on episode #506 of The Quilt Show. Earlier this year, a local quilt shop had a one-day workshop with this wonderful teacher. The experience that day was so enjoyable that a few months later I decided to sign  up for the seven-day trip to Tuscany. I am so glad that I did! What a friendly, talented group of people attended this workshop. Four days were spent working on our quilt pieces and two days were spent exploring the beautiful cities of Florence and Siena.

The piece I chose to work on is a scene of the villa where the workshop was held.  I've started this blog to motivate me to finish this piece and to continue to develop as a quilter and fiber artist. If you would like more information about the trip, visit http://www.esteritaaustin.com/tuscanworkshop.htm

Here is the view from my room at the villa.
                  

Okay, now that I am committed, I better get to work on finishing my piece.