Friday, April 30, 2010

Florida on the horizon

Yesterday, that is Thursday, my brother was released from the hospital.  He will have a long rehabilitation at home, but we were told he would be on the critical list for a minimum of 14 days.  Well 14 days is not until tomorrow.  So I don't think you can remain on the critical list and also be released to go home.  Praise the Lord for bringing Tim through this ordeal, and thank you, all those who were praying for him.  There surely is power in prayer.

I made the decision a couple days ago, before I knew that Tim would be going home on Thursday, that I would make the trip to Florida to spend some time with Tim, and also be there to take my Dad to visit him.  I am flying there by myself and will be staying at my Dad's house.  Dad is 97 and he should not be driving, although he does still drive to the store and other nearby places.  I will not have to find the hospital now, but I will have to find my way from Dad's house to my brother's house through lots of unfamiliar territory.  I will only be there a couple days, but it will be good to see my Dad, and especially to see my brother not in the hospital.

Again, thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apple pie is done

The quilt is done... after many votes for red and several for green, I decided on a red and green binding.  With just the binding in question, it probably would have looked good either way. 

On the status of my brother... Praise the Lord, I was able to talk to Tim today, and he actually sounded pretty good considering what he has gone through in the past week.  He is definitely not out of the woods yet, but his progress is moving along in a positive direction.  His daughter said that he went for a walk with her a couple times already.  He will still be in the hospital for another week, but with the number of people who have been praying for him I know he will be home soon.  He again told me that "God is in Control". 

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a beautiful Friday

It's been a while since there has been anything new here.  The last week or so it has been very eventful.  Last week at this time I was getting ready to leave for a ladies retreat where I was going to be a facilitator for the craft event that would follow the speaker for the evening session.  I'm not a jewelry maker, but I can string a few beads without a problem.  I have lots of beads and ribbon and I think you can come up with some pretty neat creations with beads and ribbons. It was strictly the "fun factor" that was most important. The event went over pretty well with lots of variations in the completed "necklaces".  Of course another reason that I was elected to go was to drive the church bus.  I get that honor bestowed upon me often when it's a ladies' event... being the only "lady driver" of the bus.

When I was on the way home from the church on Saturday, I got a call from my sister to let me know that my brother had a stroke.  Now this is a younger brother, and it totally took me by surprise.  I thought he was a pretty healthy, strong individual.  Saturday night while at the hospital, he had a heart attack... and my sister calls me again on Sunday morning to advise me I should call to speak to him before he went in to surgery for the brain aneurysm.  He was in a lot of pain and was not able to talk a lot, but he was able to let me know "God is in control".  Well his surgery was successful, it was determined that he definitely had a heart attack, but here it is Friday and last I heard he was able to pick up a fork and feed himself.  Praise the Lord!  I won't go into the ups and downs that he has gone through this week, but he is still not out of the woods, and he still needs lots of prayers, so if you are reading this please add my brother Tim to your prayer list.

The whole week has been very busy.  I made a decision on the binding color for my apple quilt, and I will post a picture when I get the wall hanging quilted and have the binding complete.  I decided on a red AND green binding.  Thanks for all your votes.

I belong to a smaller quilting group that meets on Thursdays twice a month in a little cottage in a rural setting. It is a really neat place with quilts all over the walls, and antiques all around.  I got a call on Wednesday that the creek was up and it would not be good for a normal car to try to drive through, so I was asked to have the girls come to my house for quilting.  So yesterday I had 7 ladies here quilting.  We had sewing machines all over the place.  I think it was a pretty productive day for everyone.  It somehow seems that meeting in a different place adds to the fun.  We did a lot of laughing and story telling... and did I say that no one went away hungry didn't I?  Of course I had to show everyone my "mini" garden before I would let them come into the house.

Now Fridays are good days.  Ron and I used to go to dinner on Friday evenings.  That was what we did every Friday... kind of like date night.  A few months back we decided it might be fun to make a few changes.  We changed the time.  Instead of going out to supper, we go out to lunch... and we changed the place... actually every week is different, usually anyhow.  We head to San Antonio and beyond sometimes.  Because we are going to San Antonio, we wait until Friday instead of making a special run to Lowe's or Joann's or the big WalMart or anything else we might need up that way.  Doesn't mean we can't go other times, but if we know we are going on Friday anyhow, we can typically wait.  Instead of repeating the minimal selection of restaurants they have in our little town, we try to pick something new and/or exciting.  We've been to Chili's a few times because we love those "burger bites", and their desserts are wonderful, and there is this really neat Italian restaurant way up on the NW side of SA.  I found out that IHOP had cheesecake pancakes... if you have not had these and you like cheesecake... you need to try them.  We sometimes target an area for the restaurant and then find some place interesting or fun to shop, or at times we have something particular we need to shop for so we shop then look for some place that looks like a good place to eat.

Now it wouldn't be the same without a picture, so here is a clip of the restaurant we visited today. I have to tell you about this little restaurant I remembered visiting with some friends a couple years ago when we went to a quilt show in New Braunfels.  The name of the place is Huisache Grill, and if you don't know where it is, you could drive in circles trying to find it.  I guess if you are from New Braunfels you would know about it, but you cross the railroad tracks and there is one block of buildings then an alley.... you have to know it is down the alley cause there is no sign.  Boy what a neat place.  I convinced my husband that I could find it and it would be worth finding... so we ate there today, and lunch was wonderful.... and he agreed.

The sun is out and it is quite beautiful, so we drove home with the top down on the Miata.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apple border is done

I made a big dent in my apple pie quilt project today.  All of the apples have now been appliqued onto the border.  I now have to decide what color to make the binding... whether I will repeat the red from the first border or pick up the green color from the darker leaves.  That is probably not an option because I am quite sure there isn't enough left.  Actually the quilting will have to be considered before the binding gets applied, but once I start the quilting, I'm going to be ready to finish the quilt, so knowing what fabric I will be using for the binding really does come before I begin quilting. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Apple pie anyone?

It has been few days since I last posted and I thought I would take a picture of one of the projects that I am working on so you can see the difference when it is done... hopefully in the not too distant future.

First, this is the recipe for my apple pie, including my crust.  I don't do alot of measuring sometimes, but this is close for the filling part.  The pie crust was my grandmother's recipe. The pie in the picture is an applique that was part of the embroidery process. 

I have had this center block for a wall hanging embroidered and ready to add some borders for a very long time... like a couple years I think.  I have finally found the apples that I want to applique on the border, and I now have them ready to start stitching on.  I was going to do turned edge, but I think a raw edge applique will work nicely.  Yesterday I trimmed the center block and added the red border.  The next 6" border will have the apples on it.  I'm kind of creating as I go on this one. Once this is done, I have to decide whether my daughter or my son would appreciate it more.

On another front, I have added to my garden.  A lady from church brought me some more plants.  I still had 5 more black bins, so I had to start digging again.  It is not real clear in the picture, but the pepper plants and tomato plants have really grown in the one week since I planted them.  I even have beans that are popping through already.
I decided a couple days ago that if I was going to plant a garden, I should take the time to add some color to a flower bed that has not had any flowers in it since we have been here.  Not sure whether it is a good place for petunias under the tree, but in the sun here is really hot.  For now it is already pretty... let's see if it lasts.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Musical convergence quilt

The other day I watched one of the earlier videos with Ricky showing how to make an easy convergence quilt. I went into my sewing room and found a couple fat quarters that looked fairly good together.  I wasn't looking to create anything special, I just wanted to try the convergence technique to make sure I had it right.  After I had it sewn back together it didn't quite look like Ricky's, but I did not have any of his hand-dyed fabric.  It looked similar though.  I pondered for a moment trying to decide what I would do with this little convergence.  I thought about putting a clear plastic sleeve on the front to make it into a picture frame.  My husband said that I would be hiding the neat design I had just created.  It reminded him of music and he suggested that I put some musical notes on it.  I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea and I started looking for some images of music that I could use to create some applique notes to add to the mini-quilt I had just created.  I was considering how I was going to deal with the skinny part of the notes... thinking I could hand embroider them.  My husband suggested that I do them on my embroidery machine.

Did I mention that my husband is very good at critiquing my work, and often has some very good suggestions to improve or help me through a decision process when I'm stuck or unsure where to go.  Now I don't always agree, but more often than not he has influenced me to go with his suggestions.  He even offered to digitize the notes for me.

My intent was not to create a masterpiece, but I think the musical notes really made this little quilt turn out pretty neat.  The wall hanging size quilt is about 32" x 20".  From start to finish I think it took me less than 2 evenings to get this done.  That is almost unheard of to get a quilt done that quick, no matter what size it is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My garden is planted

My exposure to gardening since our move to Texas has been very limited.  I think the first year I wanted to give it a try and planted a hill of zucchini in front of the house.  I got a big bushy plant and it grew lots of blossoms.  When the blossoms dropped off and little zucchini started to grow, they got about 1" long and then they shriveled up and dropped off.  I had planted the seeds in mid-May... something you do not do here in south Texas.  It is already too hot by the time the plants are ready to produce.  I think it was the following year that a neighbor gave me a couple pieces of a spineless cactus that I stuck in the ground beside the driveway... I did nothing special.  The picture of the cactus today shows how much more successful I was at planting cactus.  Two little paddles to this massive cactus... I'm impressed.

I have been wanting to have a garden ever since we moved here, but that experience the first year made me realize I had alot to learn before I could become a gardener in Texas.  We have some friends that are ranchers, and one of the things they feed their livestock for a treat is some kind of special grain that has molasses on it.  This grain comes in big black plastic bins... perfect for a container garden.  One of the things that makes gardening so different, besides the climate change, is the soil where we live is almost exclusively sand.  I am used to dealing with soil that is closer to clay, so this is really a challenge.  Our rancher friend JB gave us about 8 or 10 of the black bins last year and I have been trying to get the courage to try my hand at gardening in these containers.  Today I began digging.

Yesterday I stopped at WalMart and picked up some bags of top soil.  This morning I started the process of submerging these containers about 1/2 way into the ground.  I drilled holes around the base first for drainage. After the bin was in the hole I dug, I put about 1/2 of the sand back in the bottom, then I put a layer of leaves, about an armful, then covered the leaves with some more sand.  Then I added a bag of topsoil.  Voila, I had a mini garden... so I dug five more holes and ended up with six mini gardens.  After I had the first four in place, I planted one with zucchini, another with watermelon, and a third one with basil.  These were seeds I had on hand, so if they are not successful, it could be that the seeds are too old.  After lunch Ron and I took a ride into town and bought some more topsoil and 2 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants.  I also bought some onion plants and a package of green beans.  I used one bin for the tomato plants and one bin for the peppers.  The last bin I planted the green beans.  I had another friend give me a small orange tree that you can see in a smaller container beside the six bins.  To the right I planted the onions... directly in the sand, not in any bins.  Ron thinks they could be in danger if we get a big rain, but I'm hopeful they will survive.

We shall see how my garden grows.  I still may be just a bit too late, but I'm much closer to the right time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Balancing Act - this time complete

The picture looks almost like the one I last posted, but this one is actually complete.  As you can probably tell from the background on the previous picture, it was taken in Colorado.  The picture here was taken in our front yard this afternoon.  I used a pointy swirl pantograph pattern for the quilting.  I completed the quilting phase yesterday.  After a beautiful Easter service at church this morning we were invited to our dear friends, Mary Ellen and John's house for dinner.  Almost every holiday that we are not going to be out of town. we have been guests for dinner at the Longs.

When we got home from the Longs' I wanted to make an effort to complete the binding so I could bring the quilt for Show 'n Tell tomorrow at my Monday quilt group.  I was actually able to get the binding added by using a decorative stitch on my Singer Xl-1000.

Now I have to decide which quilt I will work on next.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Balancing Act

I started prepping a quilt to be put on my quilting frame.  The quilt I began with this morning belongs to a friend, which I had reluctantly let her slip the quilt in my queue a couple weeks ago.  You know how exceptions go... please, please, please, just this one.  I had made the announcement at my quilt meeting that I would not be doing anyone's quilt besides my own until September.  I had finished piecing the backing to make it wide enough, and before I sewed it onto the leaders, I went out to my studio to see what color thread I would use.  Well the blue I thought I had was not to be found.  I'm not sure if it is hiding, or I just do not have any appropriate blue left... Big PLUS... I have to order thread.  That means I can put one of my own quilt tops on my frame.  That is major.  It has been a while since I have had one of my own quilts on my frame.

The quilt that I have now prepped of my own is called Balancing Act and it was featured in the April 2009 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. There were so many colors involved in this quilt that I opted to purchase the kit.  I pieced this quilt when I was at our cabin in Colorado early last summer.  I found the backing I was going to use in September, also while back out  in Colorado.  The big wait has been a time issue.  The outdoor pictures were taken in back of our cabin.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bluebonnets abound

The other day I had a friend tell me about this really neat place, he said that the bluebonnets were so dense that it looked like a sea.  We decided to take a ride over that way today.  Boy was he right... bluebonnets almost as far as you could see.  The wild flowers are really prolific this year... they are making up for their absence last year.