Friday, January 31, 2014

A Party

My daughter is having a birthday....and I feel really old!
However, we wish her a great one and her gift was a small suitcase for a trip that she will be taking...to Maui!
She needed a carry-on bag, which according to airlines, is a 21" suitcase! Yikes, that is small, but I did manage to find her a good one....now, how do you wrap a suitcase??
I looked for those plastic gift bags, to no avail. Personally, I am not a great gift wrapper, and a bag would have been so easy. But, I came up with a solution....."create" a bag using one of those plastic "tablecloths" that you can get that are disposable. Folded in half it was just perfect. I had to use fun shipping tape as regular scotch tape did not work on the plastic....but, it was wonderful.....well, not beautiful wrapping, but it did the trick!
Then, Hubby came home with some little silver cups and tray from a white elephant gift exchange at Kiwanis and what to do with these little things?? Humm, couldn't drink from them, a couple of them had very bad tarnish/damage to the inside....
Ah ha! turn them into votives!



They are actually quite beautiful as little votives! And the tray, well it wall for the little dishes of munchies we had before going out to dinner.....
Both the tablecloth and the little cups show that most anything can be used in another way than originally intended!
Hope you have a great day....
Nancy

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creating Art....

I have been very busy of late....
Quilting has been the mainstay of my days...and in between I have been getting things sort of organized and preparing for my sister's visit.
I finally cleaned up the guest room, finding the bed that had been a "dumping" ground for various things here and there....
And when I cleaned up in the craft room closet, I found this little pillow I had made for the WildOakDesigns store (now closed). I felt it was a perfect pillow for the guest room. Plus, I found this teddy bear...who couldn't sleep here??
Then, I got going for what seems like weeks now, cutting hundreds of squares for a quilt I had in mind. I finished the quilt top a few days ago, it looks like this...
It is a single Irish Chain pattern, it uses two beige backgrounds, and a variety of dark brown background fabrics....can you see the "chain"?
Then yesterday I decided how I want to quilt this top...and spent 7 1/2 hours quilting....


As you can see, I quilted the squares...then the center squares are getting a different pattern quilted in them, I am waiting for a stencil....
The border is big because I wanted to do a pattern on that too...so you can see I have been busy.
I will show you when it is finished....in between my sister's visit and the Super bowl.....
Have a great day!
Nancy

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An unexpected trip

My Hubby is the most wonderful Hubby in the world....know why? He put the playoffs on record and took us up to Los Olivos and Ballard this last weekend!
Yup, He is fantastic!
We stayed at the Ballard Inn, which was really, really wonderful! It was a B&B style and like staying in a relative's home....the staff are amazing, and the food in their restaurant....world class!
For those who may not be aware of it, Ballard and Los Olivos are in the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barabara. Solvang is also in that area, though we didn't spend time there.
We stayed in the Gaviota Room for two of the nights, quite lovely and comfortable.

Now, just to let you know, there are no TVs in the room....frankly, to me that is the best part. No hum, no distraction from the box...just reading, conversation and meeting new people downstairs....
People come from all over the world to the Santa Ynez Valley to sample some of California's best wines....and they stay here. The Ballard Inn is a 4 Diamond resort complete with Concierge service.
We got one of those packages that included a wine tour....through Stagecoach Wine Tours. That was amazing!
Now, Hubby and I often go with friends, one being designated driver or we go ourselves and only one gets to really enjoy the wine....
This tour was really fun and great. They take only three couples....and take you to wineries that you probably wouldn't know or go to.....
We went to four wineries on the tour, we joined two clubs....yup, we did....fantastic wines...
The day before the tour, we went to see our friends at Zaca Mesa Winery....and besides tasting, we took a picnic and enjoyed the surroundings.
I took fun pictures of the barn area....love that place...


Some of the wineries have included picnic areas so you can sip and munch your lunch at leisure. None of them sell food however, so be sure to take your own picnic and be prepared to stay a while.....
I think the highlight of our tour is a winery you can't just go to. You have to be with Stagecoach....It was the Bella Cavalli winery.
This winery is on land that used to belong to Monty Roberts, known as the "Horse Whisperer"....remember him?? Well, this wonderful couple bought it and he built a magnificent barn and horse area and home for his wife, and then set about creating a winery!
His wines are unique, which you need in an area that has 130 different wineries. His take on wines is different, preferring to use let pressure on the grapes and getting a softer flavor from his grapes. He has a few whites that are truly outstanding and his tasting area is wonderful as you sit and enjoy the scenery and the horses...many retired racehorses....


Meet Jerry, a 28 year old Clydesdale that has come to retire here at Bella Cavalli.....he has a great retirement ahead....
So, all said and done and we have come home.....
I just wanted to share a taste of the area....there is so much to see and taste in the valley....if you haven't gone, you should...
I know we will be back......
What did you do over the weekend??
Nancy

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Designing Sunday

For my birthday everyone got together and got me Accuquilt cutters....that much I told you. I think I mentioned that along with the cutters they gave me fabric and a suggestion of what they thought would be good....
Now, I am not so great at being told what color, what fabric, what pattern etc when it comes to quilting. In fact, I am so stubborn about it that I will make mistakes and learn from them rather than take a directive. Anyone else like that?? Probably because of a Home Economics class I had and then a quilting class here and there. My neighbor was the best guide I ever had. Her favorite quote, "there is no quilting police here...."
Well, thankfully, Hubby gave me other cutters, so I could put it together...my way....
The applique cutters required a 6 1/2" cutter...and since squares are just so boring after a while, I wanted the matching triangles... Yeah, I know, spoiled rotten. Yup I am.
So, it was a task, to do what they suggested and make it fun....
I worked and in the morning I realized that the triangles I used at the ends on the top were pulling the fabric so it was rounding the whole thing. So, I ripped it all out and started again. I was off by 1/2'', that is huge....which meant new border pieces that I also had to fix....so, all day I worked on it, again. It isn't a big quilt. Good thing. Big would have made me cry. This was just a challenge.....
So, here is the little quilt.....




It actually turned out very cute....
I also learned (two years later) that when using the open toe foot for quilting on my machine, there is a button to push that makes life just a little easier.....funny, I took a class about my machine and asked this...they didn't know and I still had to find out myself!
Anyway, how was your Sunday??
Take care,
Nancy

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas present and quilting

For my Christmas present, I wanted an Accuquilt Go, so Hubby got me one. And, since my birthday is on the heels of Christmas (Jan. 3), I asked for more Accuquilt die cutters. hummmmmmm
For those of you not familiar with what it is, it is a die cutter for fabric. It makes perfect cuts! Therefore, when you start quilting, you start with a square that is really square!It makes piecing a joy and much faster. You can cut several (up to 6 or 8 layers) at a time. For serious quilters or even beginners, it can be addictive. Imagine perfect applique figures or perfect shape pieces for piecing....yeah...addictive.
My darling husband and daughters got together on their planning and bought me so many dies that I should be busy for the next 20 years!

Here is a picture of me playing with scraps and cutting up fabric using the original die cutter it came with.....
All through Christmas time, I was wanting a red and white quilt to be able to throw over the couch in the livingroom, for that festive spirit and coziness. So, with the Accuquilt, I set about making one! I can't tell you how exciting it is. I cut all the pieces, including binding and borders (another die cutter) and then it literally just goes together. Errors are from slippage while sewing or the fact that my 1/4" foot relies on me keeping close eye....all in all, I very, very pleased.


This quilt isn't done yet, what is in the picture is half the quilt.....
At the moment, I am playing with borders, because well, it is fun again to piece a quilt! I will show you a picture when I am done.....
The main body of the quilt is 20 10" squares that are bordered by 2 1/1" strips and red set point squares. I then added (not shown) white strips to make a border and then I got to thinking. So, when I am done, I will show you.
Did I tell you I am excited?? This thing cuts scraps. It cuts and wastes less than I can and makes short work of it. It is not electric, just an old fashioned crank, that runs both ways.
Well, I am off to work on it some more....
Have a great day....
Nancy