Friday, May 30, 2008

The younger version...

My husband has always liked this photo of me. He took it when we were both 22 in 1978. It's funny that this old photo is so similar to the new picture that I posted on May 28 showing the new hairdo. Steve says I still look the same. Isn't he sweet! I, however, can see the difference time has made. 
Right now I'm not unhappy with the changes time has wrought. I do wonder, though, what I'm going to think when I look at myself in my 80's. My grandmother told me (when she was about 95) that looking in the mirror always gave her a shock. She felt a lot younger on the inside than she was on the outside. As a consequence she didn't look in the mirror much—which seems like a decent solution to me!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New hair!

I got a haircut today! That in itself is not unusual because I get my hair cut every 4 weeks like clockwork. But today I got lots of hair cut off! Henri, who has cut my hair for more than 13 years, agreed that it was time for a new look. Little did he know that this is, in fact, an old look for me. This is what my hair looked like when I was in my 20s. 
My husband, Steve, likes the new look. That's nice since he looks at me more than anyone else does. He took this photo at lunch today so I could show you. I had forgotten how my ears feel without hair over them. It's cooler!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Healthy powdered peanut butter...

I keep forgetting to share this news. When I was teaching in Sarasota, FL, the ladies there shared with me a sample of a peanut butter that has 75% less fat. It was pretty tasty! Not as wonderful as full-fat peanut butter, but close. It's called PB2 and you can find it online at Bell Plantation.
There are other good things on that site but I haven't tried them.
As long as I'm sharing food news... my home-made granola recipe is attached below. It's a Word document that I hope most of you can open. I eat my granola with non-fat, plain yogurt. I strain my yogurt to make it thicker. That's not hard to do... just let the yogurt sit on cheesecloth suspended over a bowl (use a rubber band to hold the cheesecloth up) and let the liquid drain off. Your very own Greek-style yogurt!
FYI - I use whole flax seed in the granola. I do grind up a healthy spoonful of flax seed each morning and sprinkle it over my bowl. It has a nutty taste that I like a lot.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A day well spent...

My very good friend, Laurie, is in charge of the garage sale at her church every June. The money they raise goes to mission work. Spring is an excellent time to organize so I usually have things to give Laurie. I always have clothes and sometimes I have fabric. The local quilters love it!
I spent 3 hours this morning weeding out my fabric. I know that sounds horrible to some of you but I want every fabric in my stash to be something I can actually use. I don't want fabric that I loved years ago but no longer can get excited about. Linda taught me the virtue of a clean stash years ago and I'm so glad she did.
Laurie got 5 big bags of prewashed, folded 100% cotton, good-quality cotton. I hope she sells it all and raises lots of money. I didn't have the least bit of remorse seeing it go. 
My fabric stash is much happier. FYI - the top of the top shelf is about 6' off the ground and the shelves are 5' wide. I still have LOTS of fabric in my stash :-).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spring in Connecticut...

I am continually surprised at the size of the USA! It is hot summer in north Texas right now but it is spring in Hartford, Connecticut. I've been in Connecticut since last Wednesday, lecturing and teaching. Quilting is alive and well here! Isn't it nice that quilters are the same no matter where you are?
Judy, who was in charge of me on Wednesday and Thursday, took me by the house and garden of a lady who is famous for her house and garden! I only got a quick look (and photo) but I was impressed. The cars were zipping by so I tried to see lots, fast.
Don't you love the starfish around her front door?! Her plants were young and on the small side because it is still spring here, but it is obvious that her garden will be incredible as it gets warmer. I wish I lived across the street so that I could look at her yard all summer long!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lasting Memories from Quilt Market...

I'm home and unpacked and have been thinking back on market. I have to say that my strongest memories are of the people I got to visit with there. It's always nice to re-connect with friends that I only see once or twice a year, and this year was no exception. 
I met many people for the first time and for many of them, this was their first market. They were as stunned at the enormity of the quilt industry as I remember being 14 years ago. It was nice to share in their excitement!
Clear, fresh colors were big at this market. Linda and I love these colors, so that is happy news! Green in many shades was much in evidence - as was pink.
I got a chance to see a new product that will have our name on it at this market. We have worked with Superior Threads on 3 sets of thread pre-wound onto bobbins - made especially for applique! Linda and I chose 36 of the colors we use the most from Superior's Masterpiece line. Masterpiece is one of the threads we recommend for hand applique, piecing, and machine quilting. Masterpiece is 100% cotton (we don't use silk), strong, and fine. 
There are 12 colors in each set. Each of the 12 bobbins has 85 yards of thread. (I had no idea that much thread fit on a bobbin.) Bobbins are a great way to carry thread - they are a lot less bulky than spools. We'll post the bobbin sets on our web site when we get them in stock - probably in June.
Lastly, I want to share with you one of my quirky finds in Portland. I ended up in a toy store (Little Finnigan's) that sells odd toys. I happen to like odd toys. They live in my studio. Anyway I saw these Horrified B-Movie Victims on Friday and resisted them. 
Luckily, I had just enough time at lunch on Saturday to sneak out of market and go back and buy them! They are about the size of the GI Joe figures that my boys had when they were little. I think they look great perched on top of my computer. 

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More about market...

I also worked in the C&T booth, telling shop owners about our new block of the month, Aunt Millie's Garden. It hung behind where the sales folks worked on their orders. Part of the quilt was hidden, but that didn't seem to matter! It's too bad Linda wasn't there to hear the lovely things people said about her quilt - but I'll do my best to share their comments with her. 
I did have a little time to get out and about in Portland. There is wonderful public transportation here. I rode the bus, the light rail, and the streetcar! This is just one of the cool sculptures I saw on the streets. Portland has a lot of good public art.

Quilt Market in Portland

I got to Portland last Wednesday. I admit it... I should have taken more photos during market, but I didn't. There was just too darned much going on!

I stayed at the Silver Cloud Hotel on the NW side of the downtown Portland. It was a nice place with good (way too good) shopping nearby. There is not a lot of time off during market but what time I had, I spent walking in a variety of downtown areas.
Market started for me on Thursday with a Schoolhouse presentation. Schoolhouse is an event where you get a chance to tell shop owners about your new products. For us, it was the block of the month, Aunt Millie's Garden. Linda is in FL at her niece, Magan's, graduation. Usually we are both at market so her not being there was different.
Friday I had some time to walk the rows at market to see what's new. I took this photo before the doors opened and it got crowded. Walking market is sort of like walking the vendors at a quilt show, except that there is not a lot that you can buy and have right now. This is a wholesale market so you see fabric that you'd love to have (right now!). It is the same for me - I wanted a lot of the new fabric - but I have to wait like everyone else until it comes to a shop near me. Market can be a little frustrating if you don't know that before you come.
It's nice to visit with the people Linda and I have both come to know over the years. That's probably the best part of market. 
I worked in two booths at this show... below is a picture of one of our quilts in the P&B booth. The quilt is made from some of our new fabric, Elanor's Picnic. The fabric will ship in August. You will hear more about that when we have it in hand!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Getting ready for market...

I have been really busy this last week tying up loose ends before I leave for Quilt Market in Portland, OR, on Wednesday. Normally both Linda and I go to market but this year Linda is going to her niece's graduation. Luckily, Linda was able to help with a lot of the preparation for market - she'll just miss out on the visiting. She really enjoys that part of market so I'll have to visit for the both of us!

So, how do we prepare for market? This time we have a new collection of fabric coming out with P&B called Elanor's Picnic. It is way cute and includes our first ever cheater cloth prints. Linda has heard that some are now calling them "convenience prints" which does sound pretty good. Quilt shops can order the fabric at market, but it isn't going to ship until August. We all have to be patient until then. I'll be teaching a short Take & Teach class using the fabric at market.
We are also introducing Aunt Millie's Garden, our new block of the month published by C&T. Many of you may already have it but, if not, it's lovely! I'll be talking to the shop owners at market about good ways to offer blocks of the month in their shops. 
Linda made the red Aunt Millie quilt that is pictured on the pattern. (FYI - we don't usually work together on our quilts. We each make our own. That way we know who gets to keep which quilts!) I have added Aunt Millie to my teaching repertoire and since I won't have Linda's quilt with me on the road, I'm working on a 4-block version of it using some of our new fabric! 
We have been working with Superior Threads on bobbin sets of their Masterpiece, 100% cotton thread, in luscious colors. There are 3 sets of 12 bobbins and they are called Frostings! We'll get them on the site when we have them in hand. 
I have one more day to get ready... tomorrow will be a day spent on the computer. I'm mostly packed. I'm looking forward to seeing friends I only see once or twice a year!
And, last but not least, the kids were over for dinner earlier this week. I took a movie of my grandson, Jack. He's gets more interesting every day! It's not going to be long before he actually makes forward progress. I'll have to do a little more baby proofing!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

from Thunder Bay, MI...

I'm just returning from teaching at a quilters retreat in Thunder Bay, MI. It was held at the Thunder Bay Golf and RV Resort just outside of Alpena, MI. This event is similar to a guild retreat. You can sew as late as you like on whatever project you want to. But here they also bring in a nationally known teacher to teach a class or two. There's golf which is nice if your spouse or a friend wanted to come along and not quilt.I've never been to this part of the country before so I learned a lot about it. Did you know that the upper part of Michigan is referred to as "UP" (not the word "up" but U-P, the two letters). That's easier than saying "upper peninsula" all the time. 
There is still snow on the ground in the UP! I didn't see it, but I believe that it's true because it was practically cold at Thunder Bay in the mornings. I'll be flying home to hotter weather so it felt nice to me.
The Thunder Bay Resort is known for their elk viewing sleigh/carriage rides that include a gourmet dinner. I went with several of the women in my class last night. We rode out in horse-drawn carriages (when there is snow on the ground, runners are exchanged for the wheels on the carriages). This is the carriage that was behind the one I was in. 
We did, in fact, see elk! They are there in the photo, hidden in the trees. I learned a lot about elk last night. More than I can write about here. Suffice it to say that if you want to know what I know, you should go on the carriage ride.
Dinner was lovely. Cooked on wood stoves in a modernized cabin in the woods by Jan. She and her husband, Jack, are the developers and owners of the resort - and of a herd of elk! They are rightfully proud of what they have built. This retreat is a fun event and worth considering if you like to quilt and travel.