Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekly update: holiday runner and stash report

The AAUW branch board met Thursday evening for a potluck and the summer planning meeting. We finished business just as Chelsea began her introduction.  I could not have gotten home in time so I was grateful that our hostess happily welcomed us to join her in watching Hillary's acceptance speech.                                                                                                                     AAUW "advances equity for women and girls, empowering them to reach their highest promise."  Being nominated for POTUS is just that! 
Sewing this week:  I finished the placemats for Cindy's MIL (oval shape, bias binding). Cindy loved them.  She picked them up Saturday, along with the pillowcases she'd commissioned. She brought more fabric for another set of placemats AND another project.  She'd like me to alter a fitted bed sheet for her daughter's dorm bed.  She was able to get the flat sheet in a long twin but could only get the fitted sheet in queen. (It is a lovely print:  here is a sample.)  It should be simple, right?

 Here's my third contribution for the silent auction at the November guild show. The pattern, "Poinsettia and Pine," is from AmP&Q. The pattern can be downloaded here.  I used quilting fabric rather than wool (as patterned).  It's 12 x 52 and used 1-14 yards.

Stash report for July: 
Fabric out: 73-5/8 (includes 60 yds given away at the guild raffle)
Fabric in: 80-3/8  (includes 28 yds won at the guild raffle, a thrift shop sheet, and leftover fabric from Cindy's commissions).  Expense: $86.91

Year to date: 
Fabric out: 174 yards
Fabric in:  282-7/8, $918 ($3.24/yd) 

Monday linkups include 

Whose yard is it? and the Terra Cotta Warriors

Robins built a nest in the crook of the downspout outside the bedroom window overlooking the back yard.  The hen robin is sitting on the nest and the cock robin is aggressively protecting the territory -- to the extent that we can't sit out on the patio.  It's a good thing it's been so dry that I haven't had to mow.  

I sat in the garage at the doorway to the patio to get a picture of Cock Robin in action.  He chirps a warning, then puffs up his feathers, then swoops in. He veers off a good distance from the intruder.  (This is an enlarged and cropped photo -- I'd say he was about 20 feet away.)

I looked online and learned that robins can have as many as three broods a season, but that they hatch and fledge in about two weeks.  (Helpful advice included the fact that the robin aims for the highest point of the intruder, so if you go out holding up a broom it will go for the broom head, not your head. However, that doesn't help much if you're trying to mow the lawn.)

Meanwhile, we saw warriors of another sort on Wednesday. The Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors are on exhibit at the Field Museum.  Stevens and I met my friend Pat at the museum.  The warriors were discovered in 1974 and the excavation is still going on.  More than 7,000 have been unearthed so far. (This website is one of many with additional information.)   Since it is unlikely that we'll get to China to see them in situ we were glad that about 30 of them came to Chicago.  

 No two warriors look alike. Archaeologists have been able to determine ranks and specialties by the costumes and postures.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekly update: another auction entry

This 18 x 40 table runner was quick to make.  The pattern is by Kim Schaefer. It will be donated to the silent auction at our November guild show.

It's been seven years since I last had a garage sale ( here). I'm overdue for another one. We've had sunny Saturdays for three weeks and now, when I am finally getting off my duff -- predictions are for thunderstorms both Friday and Saturday.  Next week?  I have a meeting the first Friday morning each month and there's a guild workshop that Saturday .... if not then, it will have to wait until after our August trip. Maybe a garage sale can be my August OMG.

I finished all the commission pillowcases for my friend Cindy. I need to cut up an old vinyl mattress protector (hers) to make into a protector for her dog bed (two seams and a hem).  The last part of the commission is to make four placemats for Ardy, Cindy's MIL.  Ardy would like them to be oval, so the binding will be slightly trickier. The fabric she chose needs to be fussy-cut. Fortunately there's enough for the front and back of all four plus the bias binding. You can tell I'm procrastinating!

See what non-procrastinators are up to this week at Oh, Scrap!,  Monday Making , Main Crush Monday , Design Wall Monday .

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vinnie's all set -- and another goal met

Here is Vinnie's Beads.  It's my version of Vinnie Loves Maude.  (Designer Beth Helfter combined "vintage" and "modern" when she named the pattern.)

Making the blocks and setting them was my OMG for July.

I made this wallhanging for the silent auction at our November guild show.  The pattern is by Tammy Johnson and Avis Shirer (d/b/a Joined at the Hip) and was published in AmP&Q (December, 2005). I made it in 2008 (photo here -- I like this year's colors better).   26 x 32.

The change game -- and a new computer

 Months ago I realized my 2008 Sony laptop was not long for this world. It would overheat. The screen kept freezing.  Sheer inertia prevented me from replacing it.  When  Valerie at Val's Quilting Studio announced the annual piggy bank challenge I realized this was an opportunity to upgrade the computer.  

The challenge:  save spare change and at the end of the year use it for a special purchase.

My backstory: I have played my own version of "the change game" for years.  I began  when I lived in Brenham, Texas, in the 1970's. I wrote checks or paid cash in those days. (The only credit card I had was for Sears. It had a $160 credit limit).  When I got change back from a purchase there were usually nickels rather than dimes. I asked the assistant librarian about that. She laughed and said it was because the local farmers felt that nickels were more substantial than dimes. When she and her husband owned a restaurant and they learned to stock up on nickels.
 I put those nickels, and other change, in an orange papier-mache piggy bank that looked a lot like this one.  I used it for many years until the rubber plug in the bottom finally crumbled.   I emptied the piggy bank periodically and deposited the coins into a passbook savings account.

The years went on, I moved and married and moved again.  I kept on saving change.   I established a routine that I still follow. At  the end of each day I empty my change purse, keeping only four quarters and five pennies. All the rest goes into the piggy bank and then into passbook savings.  When I got my first computer I began recording the piggy bank savings. (I am not so detailed that I have kept all the old spreadsheets, though.)

A few years ago I watched as a friend sorted $1 bills from his wallet. He kept out all those with the Federal Reserve Bank "B" and "C," the initials of his wife's first name and their last name. He said his wife saved them for vacation spending.  That gave me an idea. Since then I've saved $1 bills with "B" and "H."  Soon after I added $5 bills to that savings.  I usually pay with a credit card (for frequent flyer miles or cash back) so the $1/$5 savings don't empty my wallet.

This week it turned out that I had saved enough coins and enough $1/$5 bills to pay for a new computer (17" HP plus MS Office, virus protection, Geek Squad setup, etc.)  [Bonus: I will get gift cards from Best Buy and, because I used my Discover card I will get cash back. (I will make a savings withdrawal to pay the credit card bill when it arrives.)]

I keep change in this pottery jar, a souvenir from the 2014 P.E.O. convention.

Now I can begin  Valerie 's Challenge with a clean slate!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Friday field trip: but wait! there's more!

On Friday my husband and I visited three museums in Elmhurst. The trip provided the material for my column in the July 21 issue of the Zion-Benton News. 

“It chops, it slices, it dices!”   

How can you forget that catchy line from the TV’s first infomercials in the 1960s and 70s?   Pitchman extraordinaire Ron Popeil used the airwaves to sell millions of Veg-o-Matics, Pocket Fishermen, and Mr. Microphones. 

“But Wait … There’s More!” opened at the Elmhurst History Museum last month and continues through September 18.   The exhibit tells the story of the Popeil family – beginning as peddlers in Asbury Park, NJ; moving to Chicago to operate their own manufacturing plant; and inventing everything from the Giant Auto-Grate to the Slice-a-Way to the iconic Chop-o-Matic.  Did you know that  Popeil invented a trash compactor? Put the trash in the device, affix the lid, and sit on it.   One wall of the exhibit is devoted to LP record album covers of  “greatest hits” anthologies.  

My husband and I drove to Elmhurst last week in part to see the Popeil exhibit.  We went upstairs in the history museum to see the permanent exhibit, “By All Accounts.” It is an interactive journey through Elmhurst’s history, from the native Americans to the first European settlement in the 1830’s. (Like Zion-Benton, York Township’s early farmers were Yankees and Germans who bought land for $1.25 per acre.) Photos, video interviews, and hundreds of artifacts document the past 175 years.

Elmhurst boasts two other not-to-miss museums which we enjoyed on our day trip.

The  nucleus of the Elmhurst Art Museum is a house designed by modernist architect Mies Van der Rohe. Wings have been added to accommodate a variety of exhibits.  The featured exhibit this summer is Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979. It explores the role of modern architecture (interiors, furniture, products) that made up the Playboy image of suave, sophisticated mid-century masculinity.  (The same time period but a social world away from Popeil gadgets!)  Trivia tidbit:  Hugh Hefner’s famous round bed had a spread made out of Tasmanian opossum pelts.
The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is a true gem.  Founder Joseph Lizzadro was a lapidary hobbyist who began collecting jade carvings in the 1930’s.  The pieces on exhibit are exquisite. In addition to Asian jade there are European cameos, an array of snuff bottles, and dioramas featuring animals made out of carved and polished rocks.  A permanent exhibit on the lower level provides the geological background with maps showing the sources of different minerals and rocks around the world.

Guan Yin (goddess of mercy) 

Elmhurst is just 55 miles from Zion.  It’s close to home and worth the visit!

For more information:  The Lizzadro Museum participates in the Museum Pass program. Check out a pass at the Zion-Benton Public Library for half off the second ticket when one is purchased.  Free admission to all on Fridays.  Free admission (donations welcome).

Breakfast: all the "food" is rocks/minerals

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekly update: Vinnie progress

I finished 20 "Vinnie" blocks and assembled them Saturday evening. I think they look like beads. The little patches in the centers of the white spaces are 1-1/4" and I will applique them.

The blocks are 10" so this is 40 x 50. I'd like it a little larger, but not to the extent of making more blocks.  I'm considering what to do for a border. I may do piano keys, or a variation thereof, to emphasize all the scrappy 30's prints.

This coming week I need to work on the commissioned pillowcases, this month's Block Lotto, and get started on a project for the silent auction for the guild's November show.

I'm joining other quiltmakers on Monday for these linkups:
 Oh, Scrap!
  Monday Making
 Main Crush Monday
 Design Wall Monday

The bobbin runs out for Quilters Newsletter

 This news appeared in my Facebook feed today:  


Oldest (issue #8) to the newest (arrived last week)
I was shocked. Now I'm sad.  I consider QN to be the best quilt magazine. It covers quilts, quiltmaking, and quiltmakers -- the art, the technique, and the people/industry.  QN was not the first quilt magazine I purchased (that honor goes to three McCall's special interest publications from the 1976 quilt revival) nor was it the first one I subscribed to (that was American Patchwork & Quilting).  But over the years I managed to acquire a near-complete run of QN. My collection goes back to the single-digit issues of the early 70's. 
Two shelves of QN

I liked the "family" feeling of QN when Bonnie Leman was the editor. Remember the September anniversary issues with youngest son Matthew on the cover? He was born as the first issue was going to press. Daughter Mary Leman Austin succeeded her mother as editor-in-chief.  The family sold the magazines (QN and Quiltmaker) to a media company. After a a couple of mergers the F+W group purchased QN and QM -- as well as the Fons & Porter and the McCall's quilt groups. (And Keepsake Quilting, too.) I read mastheads in magazines (that's the list of the editorial staff) and note that editors are now "content directors" and that they rotate from QN/QM to F&P to McC.  

I loved Helen Kelley's "Loose Threads" columns.  Before her there was Theo Eson with her stories about Grandma. After Helen there was, for a short time, "Off the Bolt" by Alison Bolt. More recently I've enjoyed the modern quilts column by Pam Rocco.

Follow the money, they say. The money comes from the fabric companies.  Patterns in the magazines are designed to show off current collections.  Sorry,  folks. I'm going to buy what I like and make scrappy quilts. That's my style and I'm sticking to it. 

Throwback Thursday (delayed)

(I was sure I'd remember to post this on time, but when I checked my old Day-Timers calendars (yes, I save them) I found out I remembered a week late.) 

Twenty-five years ago last week: the second White House Conference on Library and Information Services was held in Washington, DC, from July 9-13. I was one of the "library professional" delegates. It was event-filled, exciting, and energizing. It was an introduction (for me) to federal bureaucracy and politics, as well as the power of advocacy. I was elected (or did I volunteer?) to the WHCLIS Taskforce which provided a wealth of experience and many friends. 

(Note the logo: going from books to floppy discs) 

The delegates' totebags had the same logo as the button. I have the totebag, too. I was the co-chair of the 1992 WHCLIST (=taskforce) conference  and later edited the WHCLIST quarterly newsletter.  Annual conferences were held until about 2001. I went to many (Washington, DC three times; Indianapolis; Santa Clara, CA; Charleston; Little Rock.)   I gave the filebox with planning and program documents as well as the 1991 delegate binder to the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Weekly update: this, that, the other -- and more

Last week I said I was working on this, that, and the other.

Here's "this":  the scrappy rail fence with sashing.  It's 64 x 72.  I didn't use all the rail fence blocks I'd made, partly because I ran out of HSTs and didn't feel like making  more and partly because this is a good size for a donation quilt.

Here's "that":  pillowcases and two dog bed covers for Cindy and her family.  She paid me very generously and gave me a Jewel gift card and chocolate -- and brought over *more* fabric for pillowcases and a set of placemats. She lets me keep the leftover fabric, too.

Here's "the other":  the first block of my OMG project for July.  The pattern is Beth Helfter's "Vinnie Loves Maude." The units start with 2.5" squares with a 1.5" square sewn to one corner and a 1" square sewn to the opposite corner. The blocks are 10.5" unfin.

And more -- a pink block for this month's RSC.  I like the intense-yet-varied way the multiple tones work in each block. I am going to duplicate some of the colorways so that I'll have 20 blocks at the end of the year.

Monday linkups:
Oh, Scrap!
Monday Making
Rainbow Scrap Challenge
Design Wall Monday

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rafflemania: kit quilt

Our July quilt guild meeting featured an ice cream social and the annual Rafflemania. That's a bucket (or "Chinese") raffle for quilt-related stuff.  We bring what we no longer love. We get free tickets based on the number of meetings we've attended in the last year and we can buy more tickets for .50 each. The tickets are our chances to win new-to-us stuff.

Fabric went out....and this came in
I didn't take pictures of my contributions, but I flung 60 yards of fabric. (I weighed it: 4 yards to a pound.)  I also filled two baskets with miscellaneous notions.  In return I won two fabric bundles (28 yards) and what I really wanted:  a mint-in-bag kit quilt.

Here's information about Progress kits, from Vintage Kit Quilts  

"...The Progress quilt kit company...produced some of the [best-known]full sized quilt kits....All were done on various colored backgrounds from white, yellow, green, pink and blue with prestamped appliqu├ęs of flowers, leaves and swags in many colors…..All blue quilt lines were prestamped too. Some 135 kits including embroidery quilt kits that were produced from 1923-1994 have been document. A great deal sold thru Lee Wards and other catalogs and stores. Progress was bought by Tobin, Sporn and Glaser Inc. in 1944 when they were in business in Chicago. They are still in business today but out of New York."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

An old table and new shelves

I bought my cutting table circa 1996 when I lived in Fargo. That was when I began to identify myself as a quiltmaker.   I had a room dedicated to sewing, no guest bed in the way, and I could have a large cutting table set up all the time.
There are shelves on the side facing away

I put one divider on each shelf, rather than two. 
This spring one of the gate legs on the twenty-year-old laminate table broke. Fortunately no fingers were pinched or pins were spilled when the leaf collapsed.  I checked online for cutting tables. The new versions appear to be flimsier.  I'd love a Tracy's Table  but that's 72x40 and too large.  So I propped up the busted gate leg and continued cutting (albeit gingerly) until the splints began to give way.  Twin bookcases (bought, used, from the library) were just the right height. They slid into place. But what to put in the space where the bookcases had been?  Two 9-cube laminate shelving units ($40 at Wal-Mart) filled the bill.

How long do you think it will take me to fill all the shelves?

July OMG decision

I've considered this, that, and the other for my One Monthly Goal project.

"This" is the scrappy, strippy project on my design wall now. (You can see it in Monday's post.)

"That" is (are) the pillowcases that my friend Cindy has commissioned. She provides the fabric, pays me, and lets me keep the leftover fabric.  I have four finished and five to go. She called yesterday to say that her daughter found sheets she loved, but her dorm bed is a twin and the sheets are full. Could I take them in? (Yes.)  And her MIL would like a set of placemats, just rectangles of fabric. Could I make them? (Yes.)

Image (c) Beth Helfter
But I've decided on "the other" for the July OMG:   Vinnie Loves Maude , a design by Beth Helfter, d/b/a EvaPaige Quilt Designs.  I purchased and downloaded the pattern several weeks ago. I'd like to have the quilt finished by our September 7 guild meeting when Beth will be the speaker.

The pattern directions are for two sizes of blocks. Several settings are given.  I need to decide which size, which setting, and what fabric to use. Once I get going the quilt should come together easily.

Image (c) Beth Helfter

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Road Scholar: two weeks, two Great Lakes

Our 33rd and  34th Road Scholar trips are now wonderful memories.  We drove 1,541 miles in all.  We discovered new sights, revisited familiar places, met interesting people, learned a lot, and enjoyed good food. The weather was great.  What more could you ask from a vacation?

We have now been on nine Road Scholar programs on the Great Lakes. The previous seven are Cedarville, MI, on Lake Huron; Mackinac Island; South Bass Island (Lake Erie); Superior, WI; Sandstone, MN; Grand Marais, MN; and Isle Royale.   We visited Bayfield briefly after the Superior RS.  When I was very small our family spent a week each summer in Door County (Ephraim).  I’ve only been back twice as an adult, once with Stevens, once with friends. It was time for a return trip!

We left home Saturday, June 18. Destination: Wausau, Wisconsin.  We saw the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, the Yawkey House, the Marathon Co. Historical Society, the Monk Botanical Garden, and the dells of the Eau Claire River (a county park). 

Sunday, June 19:  Phillips, WI, has the Smith Concrete  Park.  We drove past . . . then we turned around to take a look.  Fred Smith created folk art out of concrete and glass. What a treat!

  We arrived in Bayfield about 2 p.m.  The program was based at the Bayfield Inn, right on the harbor. The rooms were comfortable and the food was excellent.   Road Scholar was the only group at the Inn all week.  Participants came from as close as Kenosha, others from suburban Chicago, and as far as California.

The theme of the program was the history of the Apostle Islands and Bayfield.  Presenters were local historians and area experts.

 Solstice sunrise over Basswood Island
The area was settled by Native Americans guided by the Great Spirit to migrate from the St. Lawrence valley.   The Ojibwe defeated the Dakota and the Iroquois and solidified their control of the south coast of Lake Superior, just in time for the arrival of the fur traders.  That was a lucrative for the Ojibwe, the French, and the English. 

Why “Apostle” Islands?  Because there are so many.  None is named for any of the apostles.  Madeline Island is the in the archipelago but not in the national park.  That is the Christian name taken by the Ojibwe wife of trader Michel Cadotte.  (The town was chartered in 1856 and named for Adm. Henry Bayfield, the British Navy surveyor stationed there.)

 Field trips took us to the Apostle Islands National Park visitors’ center, housed in the old courthouse. The chief ranger told us about the geology of the islands, including the sea caves (summer) and the ice caves (winter).   There are 175,000 summer visitors, on average. In the winter of 2014 the ice cover was so extensive and lasted so long that 135,000 visitors came from January 1-March 17.   In 2015 there were 28,000 visitors between February 28 and March 9.  However, the long-term trend is warming. Fishermen have to set their nets farther out to get coldwater fish and zebra mussels (an invasive species that prefers warmer water) have been found.

We saw the sea caves for ourselves on a boat cruise around the islands.

Coast Guardsmen stationed at Bayfield showed us their equipment and described their duties, primarily safety inspections but also rescues.   A tour of the Bayfield Maritime Museum provided a glimpse into the past: fisheries, lighthouses, and shipwrecks.

Bayfield from the ferry

We spent all day Wednesday on Madeline Island.  It is the size of Manhattan but has far fewer people – 300 in the winter, 2500 in the summer.  It’s been a summer resort since the 1890’s.  Both a state park and a county park ensure open lands.

Our bus went past Madeline Island School of the Arts, which hosts quilting courses every summer. I'm seriously thinking about it.

The Road Scholar program ended Thursday morning.  (Happy birthday to me!) Stevens and I checked out of the Inn, drove 25 miles to Ashland, and checked in to the Ashland Super 8.  (The Inn was fully booked, but would have cost $199/night.  The Super 8 was just $65.)  We had lunch with John and Ann who were the group leaders of the Isle Royale Road Scholar program that we enjoyed in 2012. They live outside Ashland, though they’d been on Isle Royale with a RS group just the week before.  That evening we heard “Belfast to Blue Grass” at Big Top Chautauqua.  Big Top is a cultural institution in the region, providing concerts all summer long under a real canvas tent.  The ensemble cast performed Irish and American folk music – a wonderful program!

We saw most of the 15 murals depicting Ashland’s history (earning it the title of “mural capital of Wisconsin”).  The town was founded in 1856. The Soo Line railway delivered iron ore to the docks to be loaded on freighters destined for Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland.  (Sandstone quarried in nearby Washburn was shipped to the east and midwest and used in thousands of buildings and homes.)

Lake in the Clouds, Porcupine Mtns. State Park
We headed northeast along the lake shore to Ontonagon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I chose it because we’d never been there and because it’s the largest town adjacent to the Porcupine Mountains. We stayed at a small family-owned resort with a nice stretch of sandy beach.  Ontonagon is the western-most municipality in the Eastern Time Zone – at this time of year the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10 p.m.  It was founded in 1843 as the market town for the area lumber industry at a time when the white pine forest seemed inexhaustible.  Nowadays the economy relies on tourism.  A shipbuilder operated for several decades and apparently a federal subcontractor is making something in the facility (but no one could say precisely what). The paper-bag manufacturing plant closed in 2010. We visited the historical society and toured the Ontanogon light house on Saturday morning. That afternoon we went to the Porcupine Mountains State Park.  (We saw more of it than we intended because I turned the wrong way when we left the visitors’ center.)

Ontanogon Lighthouse

The northern terminus of US 45 (which runs just west of home)
Morning mist, south of Ontanogon
It was a long drive from Ontanogon to Door County:  south, then east, then north. We left early Sunday morning and arrived at Rowleys Bay Resort in Ellison Bay mid-afternoon.    

There were 11 in our group for “The Door County Experience.”  It ran concurrently with “Door County Cooking, Cuisine, and Culinary Arts.”  We had separate group leaders, but we ate most of our meals together and shared two of the evening programs.  It was fun to swap stories of our days’ activities.  

For our group: 

 ·         Artist Ed Fenendael showed us how to paint watercolors. We each made a 4 x 6 piece to take home. (And I bought the painting he created as the class sample.)

·         Taxidermist Mike Orthober was wonderful!  None of us knew much about taxidermy. Mike showed how he creates the plastic molds over which he stretches the skin – whether it’s a snake, a bird, or a deer.  We are better informed and much more appreciative.
·         Orchardists Mary Pat and Mark Carlson told us about small-scale cherry orchard farming.

·         Field trips to Eagle Bluff state park and light house, Peninsula State Park, Seaquist Orchards (a huge commercial operation), the Door County Museum, and the Door County Maritime Museum.  
Niagara escarpment, Eagle Bluff S.P.

Fossil-hunting on the beach
Eagle Bluff light house
·         Door County fish boils are a traditional way to serve white fish with onions and potatoes. The process is very dramatic.

·         Wednesday afternoon and evening were free time.  We caught the 11:45 ferry to Washington Island, had lunch, and drove along tree-lined roads speculating about the lakefront houses at the ends of all the driveways.  We went past Sievers School of Fiber Arts where quilting classes are taught. (Maybe I’ll need to register for classes at both Madeline Island and Sievers, just to compare. J)  That evening we joined another couple and went to the Peninsula Players, an 80-year-old summer stock theater, to see “Chapatti.” It was an excellent play.

We checked out after breakfast on Friday and pulled into our driveway at 1 p.m.   Laundry done, groceries restocked, souvenirs accounted for . . . and great memories of a delightful trip.

P.S.  Door County artwork, then and now. My parents bought the picture on the left circa 1955. The view of the church and harbor in Ephraim hasn't changed much.  We watched Ed paint the Cana Island lighthouse (from a photograph). 


Door County comestibles!