Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Emma Amongst the Violets

Emma is sporting stick-on diamond "blink" on each ear which only adds to her sparkling personality after her visit to the groomer yesterday.   :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Modern Quilt Sampler

At this morning's meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild, member Nancy Hunt showed off her quilt based on Tula Pink's City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book.  It was so striking that I asked her permission to share this photo on my blog. Here's a close-up to show you the awesome sashing that she used.

In the foreground of the top photo, you will also see the tuffet that Nancy made during the recent Herring Run Quilt Guild  retreat. 

I, too, have this book and after seeing her quilt, it makes me think I should work on one; h'mmm . . . perhaps I'll add it to my list. :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Sampler

This morning after church, Emma and I went for a refreshing, brisk walk. This determined clump of yellow flowers was growing in the crevice of a wall along Commercial Street.

When we returned home, I grabbed my camera to attempt to capture some of the violets and grape hyacinths which cover parts of my backyard. 

Since there was a gentle, steady breeze, I set up my splatter guard. I had picked up that tip many years ago in a photography magazine; not only does it block the wind, but it also acts as a reflector.


Next, I stretched out on the ground to get a better angle. Soon, my assistant joined me.

I fooled with different depths of field and lens, but it wasn't the best time of day to shoot so my results were mixed. Perhaps I'll give it another try with tomorrow's early morning light.

Why photograph a dandelion? Well, many, many years ago I was lucky enough to attend an all-day photography workshop at the Boston Camera Club with Freeman Patterson, the master Canadian nature photographer, and one of the things he talked about was perspective. I remember that he told the story of a woman in a remote African village who grew dandelions in her garden because they were such a beautiful flower. I never forgot that story, and when you study them up close they truly are lovely in form and color. Perhaps that is why as children we always picked bouquets of them for our mothers.

Friday, April 22, 2016

I Brake for Santas

Okay, I don't usually brake for Santas, but this morning I did.  Let me tell you what happened. I was on my way to pick up a friend as we were going to Falmouth for a guild quilting getaway. As I was driving down her street, I spotted this perfectly fine Santa blow mold sticking out of someone's trash barrel. Horrors!!! Who would do such a thing to Santa??? 

My godchild and her family have a very fine collection of Christmas blow molds, so I knew they would be happy to give this jolly guy a home. Here he is looking mighty darn comfortable in the back seat waving to all the passing motorists. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay overnight at the retreat, but at least I had Santa to keep me company on the ride home.  :-)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dances with the Daffodils

I went to a friend's for lunch today and brought this arrangement from  my garden. Three friends and I meet regularly in an attempt to practice speaking Italian. I told them the history of the bulbs throughout my garden and yard, and they thought it was amazing. If you are new to my blog or don't know the background story of these daffodils, please read my post "Full Circle"; I guarantee that you will enjoy it. Interestingly enough, in that post from 2011 I also had a photo of the wall hanging that  I wrote about yesterday.

The retired English teacher in me would like to point out that the title of today's post, "Dances with the Daffodils," comes from the final line of a lovely William Wordsworth poem; take a moment if you wish to click on "Daffodils" to read it.

Last, my pink chairs are now out; I'm officially declaring that spring has finally arrived!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Inkense Pencils to the Rescue

The other day when I took out this spring wall hanging, I was saddened to realize how badly it had faded throughout the past few years. The daffodils, once bright and cheerful, now were pale and lifeless.

That's when I decided to try and salvage the piece with the use of Inktense pencils which I had on hand but had never used. They look like ordinary colored pencils, but they have a touch of magic in them as you will see. I started by lightly penciling in some color on the blossoms which helped a bit, but then I used a small paint brush to go over each blossom with a bit of water which really brought out the colors. I should add that when I machine applique, I use a very narrow zig zag stitch which prevented bleeding from one area of applied color to another.  Thus, I was able to go from this. . .

to this . . .

Once I saw the effect,  I added leaf green to the stems which had faded to grey. In the photo above, you can see that I started with the right side of the group of stems first. It's subtle, but it definitely made a difference. (Note: while the area is still damp, you can always add more shading for a more intense effect which I didn't in this case.)

Here's another close-up photo to show the effect on the leaves.  I didn't enhance the pink and red flowers as they had retained fairly good color.

Here's the completed "brightened up" piece. From this point on, I don't think I will be hanging any more quilt pieces on the front door. 

The Inktense pencils are made in England, but they are readily available at craft stores or online. I had the package of twelve pencils, but they do come in larger sets. They are intended for artists, but quilt artists may also use them as our wall hangings are never washed. 

Think how effective they would be to add a bit of shading to a design. I saw a show on Quilting Arts TV where the guest created a design with Intense pencils and then enhanced it with free motion quilting. There's always something new and interesting to explore in the world of quilting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Colorful Lakeshore Scene

On the way back from the two quilt shops on Saturday, I asked my friend Edith to stop the car so that I could jump out and take a few quick photos. This colorful scene is along the shore of Newfoundland Lake in Bristol, NH.


When we were in snowy Bristol two years ago,  I captured the same scene. As always, you may click on any of the photos to view a larger image.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Quilting Weekend in New Hampshire

I spent the weekend at the vacation home of one of our friends in Bristol, New Hampshire. There were seven of us who spent Friday quilting. Rather than lug my machine and all that goes with it, I decided to only bring my crazy quilt project. It was lovely to spend long stretches of time hand stitching. Here is a completed block with my grandparents.

On Saturday morning, we all went to a mecca for quilters in Center Harbor, Keepsake Quilting. The best part was that I had a gift certificate from Christmas which allowed me to purchases a wall hanging pattern and the backing for a quilt.


After this stop, we split up with four going on to a favored gift shop while three of us headed on to
 North Country Quilters & Sew 'n Vac in Rumney.  It is a lovely shop and, of course, a couple of things did catch my eye. Support the local economy!!!

Now . . . just to put a smile on your face . . . If you're like me, you might just spend a little too much time visiting blogs and Pinterest in search of holiday decorating ideas. I asked Edith to stop the car so that I might jump out to capture this festive holiday display in someone's backyard. 

Don't you just feel flush with holiday spirit ???

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Flower Garden Quilt

On this gloomy, rainy day I thought I would brighten things up with a peak at the quilt on which I am currently working, Garden Quilt, an Amy Bradley design.

I'm in the process of preparing the eighteen blocks which I will then machine applique with a narrow zigzag stitch. It takes a while to prepare each block, but this happy, fun quilt will make it all worthwhile.

Speaking of fun, yesterday was an early release day for my godchild's children, so we had "Ladies Lunch." After a meal at a local restaurant, we headed to a large, wonderful playground in Braintree. Five or six inches of snow remained on the ground, but with their snow pants and boots it didn't spoil their fun. Of course, later there was time to play with Emma who is crazy about them. It was a really fun afternoon as it always is when they come to visit.

Pansy update: Remember the pot of pansies that I brought in the other day? Well, after brushing off six inches of snow, I had brought them down to the cellar and put them in one of the large soapstone sinks next to the washing machine. Yesterday morning when I was putting something away, I checked and was pleased to see that the pansies were doing okay. Well . . . that is until a few hours later when I decided to throw in a load of clothes. You guessed it. I had totally forgotten to remove the pot. The poor pansies were assaulted by wave after wave of soapy, cold water from the washing machine hose which empties into the sink. Thank goodness it was cold water. Those poor pansies. . . They don't look too bad after all that they have been through, but I'm going to let them recover on the window sill before moving them outside again. By the way, the pansies in the front yard around the light pole seem to have weathered the snow, cold, and today's pouring rain just fine. :-)

One more thing . . . Tuesday night I attended a performance of Meet Julia Child! sponsored by our town library. Oh my gosh was it ever funny!!! People were laughing so hard that tears were running down their faces. I mentioning this in case you ever see that this is being offered again locally. The incredible actress who portrayed Julia Child was Lynne Moulton of The Delvena Theatre Company from Lynn, MA.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Say It Isn't Snow

Sunday morning it looked like the middle of winter with blowing snow and strong winds.  By 11:00, the snow had stopped and by later in the afternoon, the snow was almost entirely gone. Amazing!!! Unfortunately, the same thing didn't happen today.  The snow began falling around 8:00, and it didn't stop until this evening.  These quick shot were taken with my iPhone early in the morning.

By evening, these flowers were covered with five inches of snow.  Pansies can survive being buried under the snow, but since the forecast calls for frigid morning temperatures,  I took pity on them and brought this pot inside. They'll be spending the next couple of days in the basement until spring returns.

 Think warm thoughts!