It’s coming!

Ahhhh, Turkey Day! The smell of cooking turkey, stuffing, potatoes, acorn squash… the setting of the table, anticipation of good food and time spent with relatives. I love Thanksgiving.

I especially love pumpkin pie with “dilly whip” (that’s what my family calls Cool Whip or whip cream). You see, as much as we love pumpkin pie, the pumpkin pie just serves as a medium for eating a ton of “dilly whip.” We eat mounds of it on Thanksgiving. I should just buy everyone their own container of Cool Whip and put that in front of them on Thanksgiving. Hmmmm. Maybe?

Another special treat we have is “cranberry sauce shaped like a can.” It’s a gourmet thing at our house. Maybe I should make a tutorial on this so you can share the fun!

Our bird is thawing… actually, we’re going to have one in the oven and one on the grill outside. Yummy!

What special things do you have for Thanksgiving?

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A Weekend Wedding

hearts We had a blast at a wedding and reception this weekend.  Mike Roman and Jennifer Grabowski were married at our church (Flushing United Methodist).  It was the first contemporary-style wedding at the church, with our praise band playing the music.  Our pastor Jeff plays guitar, so he was kept very busy!  It was an awesome service.

The reception was in Frankenmuth at the Bavarian Inn, and the place was decorated so beautifully!  Mike and Jennifer did a fantastic job organizing everything, right down to the little details.  I think this was the nicest wedding I’ve ever been to!

I don’t think my mother-in-law likes holidays anymore.  Last year, a few days before Christmas she fell and broke her pelvis.  Yesterday, she fell and broke her wrist.  GEESH!  I think we need to keep her in a padded room from now on. 

Living in Michigan

It’s cold this morning. VERY cold. Like 19 degrees F cold. Brrrrr. The two cold bluebirds in the picture did not like the weather here last Thanksgiving. Hope they have flown south for this Thanksgiving! We have had snow already!

That’s Michigan. Where are YOU from? Is it cold there? Darilyn lives in Hawaii, and yesterday on her blog she posted that “We’re melting a little. It’s right around 85F and 50% humidity.”

I’ll take some of that heat. You can keep your humidity, though!

Ever wonder what it’s like in Michigan? Here’s a little joke thing that’s traveling the Internet. Funny, but far too true.

You Know You’re From Michigan When…

  • You define summer as three months of bad sledding.
  • You think Alkaline batteries were named for a Tiger outfielder.
  • You can identify an Ohio accent.
  • Your idea of a seven-course meal is a six pack and a bucket of smelt.
  • Owning a Japanese car is a hanging offense in your hometown.
  • You know how to play (and pronounce) Euchre.
  • The Big Mac is something that you drive across.
  • You believe that “down south” means Toledo.
  • You bake with soda and drink pop.
  • You drive 75 on the highway and you pass on the right.
  • Your Little League baseball game was snowed out.
  • You learned how to drive a boat before you learned how to ride a bike.
  • You know how to pronounce “Mackinac”. (Clue to non-Michiganders: The “nac” is pronounced “naw”
  • The word “thumb” has a geographical rather than ananatomical s ignificance.
  • You have experienced frostbite and sunburn in the sameweek.
  • You expect Vernor’s when you order ginger ale.
  • You know that Kalamazoo not only exists, but that it isn’t far from Hell.
  • Your favorite holidays are Christmas, Thanksgiving,the opening of deer season and Devil’s Night.
  • Your snowmobile, lawn mower and fishing boat all have big block Chevy engines.
  • At least one person in your family disowns you for the week of the Michigan/Michigan State football game.
  • You know what a millage is.
  • Traveling coast to coast means driving from Port Huron to Muskegon.
  • Half the change in your pocket is Canadian, eh.
  • You show people where you grew up by pointing to a spot on your left hand.
  • You know what a “Yooper” is.
  • You know what a “Troll” is.
  • Your car rusts out before you need the brakes done.
  • Half the people you know say they are from Detroit… yet you don’t personally know anyone who actually lives in Detroit.
  • “Up North” means north of Clare.
  • You know what a pastie is.
  • You occasionally cheer “Go Lions- and take the Tigers with you.”
  • Snow tires come standard on all your cars.
  • At least 25% of your relatives work for the auto industry.
  • You don’t understand what the big deal about Chicago is.
  • Octopus and hockey go together as naturally as hotdogs and baseball.
  • You know more about chill factors and lake effect than you’d EVER like to know!
  • You measure distance in time rather than miles.
  • Your snowblower has more miles on it than your car.
  • Shoveling the driveway constitutes a great upper body workout.
  • When giving directions, you refer to “A Michigan Left.”
  • You know when it has rained because of the smell of worms.
  • You never watch the Weather Channel – you can just assume they’re wrong .
  • The snowmen you make in your front yard actually freeze. Solid.
  • The snow freezes so hard that you can actually walk across it and not break it or leave any marks.
  • All your shoes are called “tennis shoes”, even though no one here plays tennis anyway.
  • Your major school field trip includes camping and cross-country skiing.
  • Half your friends have a perfect sledding hill right in their own backyard.
  • You laugh when people call 50 degrees F cold.
  • The idea of a Christmas without snow is just sacreligious.

Now… if you don’t get these then, well, you’re not really from Michigan.

What’s it like where you are?

The Importance of Good Photography

It’s so important to take good photos of the quilts you make. Case in point: This is the only photo I have of a quilt I made for my brother Bob in the mid-1980’s. I dug it and the other two photos out of my scrapbook. Bob’s quilt was/is roughly twin size, machine pieced and hand quilted. There are feathers wandering around the border, filled in with diagonal quilting lines. It was a good pattern for using up scraps, and I had a lot of them. I gave it to him shortly after he graduated from Michigan State University. The photo is a little blury, and I wish I had close-ups of the quilting. Darn.

The quilt on the right is another picture that’s not so great. This is a very heavy quilt. I bought an old quilt top, and many of the blocks were in very bad condition. I salvaged those I could and sewed them together into a top. It says “1983 Restored Pinwheel” in the center, along with an explanation of the process of restoring the quilt. The quilt is 82 inches square, hand quilted. Again, there is a very intricate feather pattern that winds around the quilt. It took first place at a Michigan State Fair for hand quilting. I wish I had better pictures of it. It’s still in my possession, so I think I’ll dig it out and take them before I forget.

The pink quilt below is an example of a good “quilt portrait.” Naturally, I didn’t take the photo. It was done professionally for my second book, Contemporary Quilts From Traditional Designs. Notice how the lighting is even all over the quilt? You can click on the photo to enlarge it and see the quilting design. Your quilting design should be visible in your photographs! After all, that is a huge part of the quilt!

If you don’t already own one, treat yourself to a good digital camera. Find a place to hang a full-size quilt. I used to use the back outside wall of my garage (at our first house). That had some limitations, though. It had to be a nice day with little wind. Slightly overcast days are best for shooting photos outside. If you can take photos inside, make sure you have enough light surrounding your area so the flash won’t bounce off the quilt in one area. It’s better to use more lights that are diffused than one very bright light. See how the center of my pinwheel quilt is brighter than the rest? That’s a big NO-NO.

Of course, if money is no object, feel free to support a local photographer. They need to put food on their table, too. Just don’t forget to take your quilt’s picture. Sometime. Soon.

Interruptions

What is your pet peeve? Mine is interruptions. I’m one of those people who get very focused when they are working on something. It doesn’t matter if it’s reading a book, quilting, cleaning, or doing a task at my REAL job (w.o.r.k.). Interruptions throw me off. The only thing worse than an interruption is someone who constantly interrupts a conversation. It’s bad enough when you’re with a group of people and the same person keeps interrupting, but it’s worse when you’re having a one-on-one discussion with someone and they keep cutting you off while you’re talking. Doesn’t that make you feel like you’re not important? I have decided to speak up and point it out to “the culprit” more often, because it’s really getting on my last nerve!

If you’re surfing the Internet, here are some very pleasant interruptions that you probably won’t mind at all!

  • Ronda’s Creative Quilting – Take a look at the beautiful quilt that Penny finished and Ronda quilted. Stunning!
  • Pine Ridge Quilter – Laura is posting a quilt each of the days of Christmas and has started already! Check out this beautiful antique quilt, and bookmark her blog so you can follow along. What a super great idea!
  • Treadle Quilts – A spectacular miniature quilt called “Underground Railroad.” Wow!
  • Real Men Quilt – I could be Adam’s biggest fan. I love his quilting. It is so detailed! Check out his new quilt in progress!

    Lastly, I want to share this great picture with you. Dean and I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts on Sunday and saw an exhibit of the great masters. This is one of my favorites that we had the pleasure to see up close. It is called “July: Specimen of a Portrait” c. 1878 by Jacques-Joseph Tissot, a French painter who lived from 1836-1902. This picture of it does not do it justice. It’s a fairly large oil painting on fabric, and the detail on it is exquisite. It looks like a photograph! The way he used his paints to show the sunlight is simply amazing. Her dress just shines! If you ever get a chance to see his work – or any of the masters – in person, please take the time to go. You will never regret it!

It makes me wonder what people 200 years from now will look at that we have left behind!

Changes

A lot can happen in thirty years… you can live in three different houses, two little boys can grow up to become men, a woman can fulfill her dream to become a school teacher and principal, two quilting books can be written and published, and two grandchildren can appear. The word “can” has always been a part of my vocabulary. I’m a determined sort of person.

I started quilting when I was eighteen and a freshman at Olivet College in Michigan (1974). My first quilt was for a friend’s new baby girl. Renee’ was the proud recipient of a quilt based on nursery rhymes. I don’t have a photo of it, which is probably a really GOOD thing. It was hideous, mostly constructed of gingham fabrics because they were cheap. Hey, it was college!

Roll the clock ahead two years, and I was married to Dean with a baby of our own, quilting into the wee hours of the night. I was hooked! If I wasn’t burping the baby, I was quilting. Sean was not quite four years old when his brother Loren was born. The four of us lived in a tiny house, and my quilting frame took up a good portion of the living room. The toy basket and stereo speakers were under the quilt frame, and quilts were on all our walls.

I made a lot of friends who were into quilting in those early years. I wrote my first book in that little house. America’s Pictorial Quilts was written out of frustration at not finding books on pictorial quilts. It was the early 1980’s, and while you could find pictorial quilts in magazines, there just wasn’t a pictorial quilt book to be found. I was blessed to be one of the first quilter/writers to be published by the brand NEW American Quilter’s Society. I participated as a teacher and exhibitor at the first AQS quilt show and contest in April of 1985, and for several years toured the country teaching what I loved: quilting.

Cyril Nelson of E.P. Dutton Publishers (now PenguinBooks,USA) became the editor for my second book, Contemporary Quilts From Traditional Designs. Cy joined me in my excitement with the changing face of quilting, and I was thrilled that he supported my second venture. I learned a lot about quilts, folk art and writing from Cyril, who sadly passed away in June of 2005.

Our second house, much bigger this time, placed us next door to one of quilting’s greatest:
Mary Shafer. Mary was a dear friend, and I loved spending time with her to learn about all types of quilts, patterns, and quilting history. We shared a love for gardening, and many of the plants in our yard were transplanted by Mary, sometimes in the rain. Two of her good friends, Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham chronicled her work in exhibitions and several books. Mary was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana in July 2007, less than a year after her death at age 96.

I owe a lot of my talents and love for quilting to two other people. First, to my mother, who from the age of 16 sewed all of her own clothes… and mine. She sewed curtains, upholstered furniture, and created just about everything she could make using fabric and thread and her Singer Featherweight. She had more talent in her little finger than I will ever have. And, second, to my friend Ami Simms, who makes a great partner to dye (fabric) with.

Quilting is an addiction. It can consume your life and take you to places you would never otherwise visit. It is the perfect therapy for hundreds of thousands of people world-wide. Quilts and quilting have a way of uniting people from all walks of life. I love that the invention of the Internet has given quilters yet one more way to connect.

Welcome to my little quilting bee, here in the heart of Michigan.

More Memories

“In Love With Birds,” 1983 12 inches square.

I made this log cabin in my first few years of quilting… full size, but I don’t remember who I gave it to. It is the only quilt I ever tied.

This little quilt is only 16 by 19 inches, and was made in 1984.

I did this little block yesterday for my DJ quilt… J7 – Chicken Tracks. I paper pieced it because of all the tiny little squares. Not thrilled with how it turned out, but it’s done.
I’ll post more later… we’re off to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see an exhibit. Have a fantastic day!


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