Thursday, July 24, 2014

Astronomical Star Block Challenge

     When astronaut Karen Nyberg went into space last year, she brought with her some fabric, thread, a needle, and a pair of scissors with which she created a star themed quilt block. This was no easy feat in a weightless environment. The Houston International Quilt Show this year has issued an astronomical quilt block challenge.  The 9.5 inch star themed blocks will be displayed along with Karen's at the 40th International Quilt Festival. For fun, I am submitting the above block.  For a touch of whimsy around the center square, I added the tiny alien in the flying saucer.

     On Monday, my godchild and her adorable girls came to visit Emma and me. Instead of a regular lunch, I suggested that we head to Hornstra Farm on Prospect Street in Norwell for ice cream!!!  The girls saw calves in the barn and these lovely ladies in the field. Unfortunately, only one was looking my way :-(), but it sure is a pretty setting. (Ice cream lovers take note: the ice cream window is open seven days a week from 12:00 to 8:00, and trust me, the ice cream is beyond delicious!!!)

     On Tuesday, the weather was hot and humid, but not on the deck of the Hull Yacht Club where Linda C. hosted a "game" day luncheon. It was so breezy and cool that many of us were borrowing sweaters. After a delicious lunch, we settled in for a few rounds of a dice game called Mexican train. As always, there was some confusion about the rules and lots and lots of laughs. 
     Life is good!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Flip Flop and "Row by Row" Shop Hop

     It has been a very quilty week. It all started last Saturday when I drove down to Rhode Island to visit some quilt shops taking part in the "Row by Row Experience." What's that you say? I'll explain further down in this post. One of the shops, Just Quilts, in Bristol, RI had a table runner similar to this one on display which caught my eye, so of course, I had to purchase some fabric and whip up this little flip flop table runner.
     On Wednesday night, I took a class at Heart in Hands in South Weymouth, MA. Here's the little zippered bag that I made. Wouldn't these make lovely, handy little gifts?

     On Thursday night, it was my turn to host my quilting group, and we made plans to visit some of the shops taking part in the "Row by Row Experience" in Massachusetts. Many quilt shops across the country are taking part. Only sixteen states are not represented. This is how it works. You must visit a shop in person and ask for their pattern which is free. Many of the shops also have kits made up for their row which you may purchase, or you may choose to use your own fabrics. In addition, many shops have fabric license plates with cute sewing-related sayings available for purchases. For instance, Heart in Hand's plate says, "Wicked Quiltah." (For those not from this area . . . "wicked" means awesome, as in, I had a "wicked" good time, and people from the Boston area are alleged to have a bit of an accent. We sometimes use "ah" in our speech where there should be "er"s. 
     Anyway, at 9:00 on Saturday we met at Donna's and with Edith behind the wheel we set out on our adventure. (This is Donna's mandavilla; it's magnificent.) After picking up another friend and with our GPS, lists, and maps in hand we were off.

      Our first stop was Marketplace Quilts in Salem. It was a really cute little shop.

     Here is this shop's sample row. . . purr-fectly adorable.

     From there, we took a short drive to Sew Creative in Beverly. Next up, Red Barn Sewing and Yarn Center in Merrimac which had lots and lots of tempting fabrics, and finally, Quilters Common in Wakefield.  Just a note if you are "rowing," this Wakefield shop is around the back of a building. It may appear as if it is closed, but go through the glass double doors in the center of the building, head down the stairs, and you will see the shop with its helpful, friendly staff and bolts and bolts of fabric. (I added this note because if Liz hadn't got out to see if there was any info posted, we would have driven off believing that the shop was closed. We did stop at one other teenie-tiny shop on the list which I won't mention by name. There really wasn't much fabric at all, but the owner seemed thrilled to have visitors stop by. 
     All of the shop owners were very enthusiastic about the number of new people visiting their shops. People are traveling from all over trying to collect the patterns; it's a bit addictive. :-) All in all, it was a fun day and we did our part to help the economy of Massachusetts. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Music Themed Quilt and a Book Recommendation

     I finally finished sewing down the binding of my new musical themed quilt. As you can see in the photo below, the octagons are made with note fabric as is the final border. 

     Last week, I met friends for breakfast, and the talk turned to what everyone had been reading. One friend highly recommended The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor. Now I am probably one of the few people who has never seen the blockbuster movie Titanic, but the story of the ill-fated maiden voyage of the supposedly unsinkable ship has always intrigued me. Having just finished another book, I decided to download this one. Annette was right; this was a great read!!! The story begins with Maggie and thirteen others from a small village in Ireland who are leaving their homes for a better life in America. Sunday afternoon was a bit too warm for gardening or quilting, so I grabbed a tall glass of pink lemonade and headed to the sunporch where I began reading. I couldn't put the book down. Page after page, I just kept going with only short breaks here and there. I stayed on the porch until 11:30 reading and would have finished it, except for the fact that I had an obligation early Monday morning.  Yesterday afternoon, I did have time to finish the book . . . 375 pages in two days. I guess that's a pretty strong indication of how much I enjoyed this novel. This was Hazel Gaynor's first novel, and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Week in My Garden

     I grabbed my camera a couple of times today when I went outside with Emma. These first few shots were taken with my Tamron 90mm macro lens. Though I absolutely know better, I was too lazy to use a tripod. I love how these balloon plants look in my smaller garden with the red bee balm and the yellow black-eyed susans.
     The coneflowers are also beginning to bloom.

     Bee buzzing bee balm . . .

     Later I switched to my 70-300 lens  . . . still too lazy to use a tripod. The black-eyed susans are making quite a statement this year.

      Finally, here's my sweet Emma just back from the groomer late this afternoon. Cheryl at Pooch Paws in Rockland always does such a wonderful job. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Illusive Little Hummer

     I have been trying to attract hummingbirds to my gardens for years. I dutifully put in all the recommended plants to attract them and always keep the hummingbird feeder cleaned and filled. In recent years, I have seen them occasionally, but I have never been able to capture a photo of one until yesterday!!! It was way too hot to do much gardening in the afternoon, so when I saw this little winged jewel, I put down my tools and ran for my camera. The stand of red bee balm seemed to be the center of interest. I moved my chair at least six or seven times to get the best lighting and best background and then I waited and waited and waited. The little hummer would flit in, take a quick sip from two or three different flowers and then dart off. Because of its speed, it was nearly impossible to focus fast enough. It would return in anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. No exaggeration . . . I sat there for a good hour trying to get this shot. This was the best that I could do, and I'm pleased with it. (If you would like, click on the photo to see a larger version.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!!

     With the rains from Hurricane Arthur rapidly approaching, our cookout has become a "cookin - eatin" little get-together. A few friends will be arriving soon, so meanwhile I snapped a few photos of the decorations. I'll throw in some fun July 4th facts along the way.

According to an article in yesterday's newspaper, "More than 153 million people - close to half the population of the 50 states - will observe Independence Day with a cookout, barbecue, or picnic." 

An estimated $6.2 billion will be spent on hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, and snack items. Yikes!!!

"About 105 million of us - one in three Americans - will attend a fireworks display or other community celebration, and about 27 million will view a parade."

One last photo . . . even Emma gets into the patriotic spirit. She's draped across my lap as I am writing this posting.

Have a flag waving, wonderful day!