Sunday, March 28, 2010

Batting Buds Retreat

I'm blessed to be a member of the Batting Buds small quilt group. The six of us are best buddies, and share much of our lives with one another, beyond our mutual interest in quilting. We call ourselves the Batting Buds because just like when making a quilt, it's the part on the inside that's the most important... batting is what makes a quilt what it is, and what's inside each of us makes us special friends with one another.

This weekend we retreated, and we're all grateful that Mary opened her home for our long weekend stay -
from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon!
When Mary asked for input on the t-shirt quilt she's making for her daughter who will graduate from high school in May, we were all happy to respond.
Quite a bit of time was spent on the floor, analyzing and testing various aspects of this quilt's layout and assembly process. Such a bright and fun t-shirt quilt!
Lola (Her real name is Linda, but with two of us named Linda, it's less confusing to call her Lola.) worked exclusively on a 144-block quilt called "Sylvia's Bridal Sampler."
Lola's making it with her mom, and between them they've made about 100 of these six-inch blocks made from Aunt Grace type 1930s reproduction prints.
Kim mostly embroidered on "Snowmen A to Zzz" blocks, a pattern from Crabapple Hill Designs.
Susan decided to begin something new, reading up on and then starting to English paper piece tumbling blocks. Susan's already hedging on how far she'll get, referring to this project as a "coaster."
Michelle worked on hand-appliqueing a Joseph's Coat block that she, Kim and I are slowly making along with Kellie of Don't Look Now.
After two and a half days and two nights of sewing into the wee hours, lots of laughter, a good movie (Australia), some wonderful eating, drinks, and chocolate... we don't look much the worse for wear, do we?
I'm very grateful for my Buds! They are the stuff of a beautiful life.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Flaunt - Fifth Ten in '10 Finished!

Since I didn't flaunt last Friday (due to the giveaway), I have this finished 34" X 37" wall hanging quilt to show you. I will donate it to Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, Iowa. The annual quilt auction - the camp's largest fundraiser - is Saturday, July 25, and this quilt will be among those sold in the silent auction, prior to the live auction.

Last year's event happened on the most gorgeous summer day. It was simply beautiful to see the quilts pegged to clotheslines among the trees, wafting in a gentle breeze.

Quilting this was a treat because it fit so easily in the 7-1/2" throat space - the area between the sewing machine needle and the machine body.

See the quilted trees?

Though I know a quilt rarely sells for an amount relative to the quantity of time put into making it, I hope this earns a lot of money for Riverside.

You may have noticed this is my fifth completed Ten in '10. While this is very encouraging to me, the pace of finishes will doubtlessly decline as I switch to handwork for project #6.

And now, for something completely different...

I made a denim, embroidered fabric skirt! It's the one on the left. When I found the material at Joann's I knew immediately I wanted to make a casual skirt like the khaki embroidered skirt I purchased last October while in Australia. So, the skirt on the right from Aus was the pattern for the skirt on the left. Mine doesn't have a tie (I don't tuck in my top), but the rest of it is the same even to having an invisible zipper. Wow, I can still sew a garment!
Aussie friends: Don't be surprised to see me wearing this when I'm there, in just a few weeks!

This afternoon I'm off to a weekend quilt retreat. Six of us in the Batting Buds group are retreating from 2 pm Friday to 2 pm Sunday... sheer bliss! I will tell you all about it on Monday. Have a great weekend.

P.S. While on retreat, on TV we'll watch a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball play-off game. Our beloved, and #9 nationally-ranked University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Panthers - who in a huge, unexpected upset beat the #1 ranked Kansas University (KU) Jayhawks - will play Michigan State.

Go Panthers!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blogobirthiversaryday Winners!

Thirty-six comments were received for my giveaway. Using the random number generator I selected three winners. (Sadly, two numbers selected had to be passed over because the commenters left no way for me to contact them - a good reason for bloggers to check their email profile status.)

And now for the winners...

FIRST PRIZE - Loz Lloyd of New South Wales, Australia

Loz commented: I've found the perfect use for my old quilts or friend's not wanted half done smallish quilts - I finish them off for the preschool I work in and the kids love them. Latest one was a friend's I spy quilt - I added fun vegetable fabric borders. I love seeing the kids playing in them or using them for imaginerary things.

SECOND PRIZE - QuiltMom Anna of Western Canada

Anna commented: I have made baby quilts for ICU units and gifts for friends. My professional life is spent teaching in an inner city school.

THIRD PRIZE - Mary Alice of Memphis, Tennessee

Mary Alice commented: I am raising a 15 year old granddaughter and together we make quilts for the homeless. We use only recycled fabric - I purchased old church tableclothes to make them and donate to the Manna House here in Memphis. My blog is if you want to see one we made.

The Bible says:

Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. - Phillipians 2:1-4 (The Message)
Thank you, everyone, for entering my giveaway. And more importantly, thank you for sharing yourself to help others.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Today is my 200th Flourishing Palms blog post.

Today is my 57th birthday.


To celebrate, I'm having a Flourishing Palms giveaway. This giveaway ended March 24.

Three people have a chance to win - first prize, second prize and third prize. Entries will be accepted for one week, ending at midnight Wednesday, March 24. Winners will be selected by random number generator.

All three prizes are my handiwork... from my "flourishing palms."

First prize is one of these two accessory holders - the winner gets to pick. Each of these is upcycled - meaning I used something acquired to make something new. Each is 17" X 30" and sewn from upholstery samples. The prints are palm trees, naturally!
Various sizes of nine vinyl pouches will hold your assorted quilting and sewing supplies, or anything you choose to store. Notions and tools are shown to demonstrate how to use the accessory holder; they are not included in the prize.

Second prize is this 7-1/2" X 7-1/2" zipper bag. Read more here about how it was made.
Third prize is all six of these bottle cap pin cushion rings. Keep one or two for yourself and share the others with your sewing/stitching/quilting friends.
To be entered in the drawing simply leave a comment telling me how you share your "flourishing palms" - the work of your hands.
For example:
Do you make quilts for missions, or people in need?
Do you prepare meals for shut-ins?
Are you a volunteer at a hospital, school, or other non-profit organization?
How do you use your "flourishing palms" help others?
Please, one comment per person.

Comments from "no reply" bloggers will not be entered in the drawing. (If I can't email you, I can't tell you that you've won!)

First, second and third place winners will be drawn by random number generator after midnight Wednesday, March 24. This giveaway ended March 24.

May God bless your flourishing palms!

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Walk in the Woods

Spring is gradually arriving in Des Moines. This morning's walk at Raccoon River Park shows how much snow has melted, and how it's causing the river to swell. In some places, fast moving water was only eight feet (2.4 meters) from the trail.

Compare today's March 15 photo...
...with this one taken January 8.

Another trail-walker clued me in to keep watch for this migratory Eastern bluebird which I was able to catch with my camera. Though my picture isn't the best, it was lovely to see this spot of color on such a gloomy morning.
Our side yard has a minimal amount of snow remaining. We have lots of clean-up ahead, removing dead branches that have fallen from river birch trees.

And this dirty pile of snow, shaded from the sun on the north side of the house, will likely be the last bit to melt.
Happily, we're ahead of schedule with the expected snow melting progress, and we're hoping for the best as experts monitor flooding in low-lying areas.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ohio Family

Last Monday, my siblings and I drove to Ohio to attend the funeral of our dear aunt, and I just returned home Saturday. Though the occasion was sad, it was beautiful. Aunt Ina was a follower of Christ, and taught her children and grandchildren to love Him too. They are each a living testimony to her influence, and it was a pleasure for me to be in their company.

Aunt Ina would have been seated in the empty chair, next to her brother, my Dad (seated). In this photo I'm standing to the left of Dad. Except for me, everyone else in the photo is a descendant- either by blood, or by marriage - of my aunt. (At the time this photo was taken, my siblings were heading back home.)
I will always cherish this time spent with very special, extended family.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mail Order

I've admired many of the bright prints designed for Marcus Brothers by Prints Charming since I visited that shop in Sydney. Marcus Brothers fabrics in Australia are much higher priced than in the US. You can imagine my delight when I found six pieces from the "Rainbow Garden" collection, for only $3.50 a yard! I purchased them online from Whittles Fabrics of Kentucky.

My Prints Charming pieces are the ones beginning with the brown/orange/blue print on the left, to the plaid at the bottom of the stack. I think my favorite print is their distinctive starburst, the royal blue and orange pieces.
I just liked the other two prints - turquoise and white; and pink/chartreuse - so at only $4 a yard, why not? Whittles added that green print fat quarter as a thank you. Fabric shopping doesn't get more economical than this!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Flaunt - Zipper Bags

Remember this quilting from a couple weeks ago?

It's the back side of a pieced quilt sandwich.

Now that birthday presents have been given, I can show you what the front looks like. Following a tutorial on LuAnn's blog, I sewed strips together, sandwiched and quilted the fabric.

From the quilted fabric, I cut out and sewed zipper bags.
LuAnn was able to make five bags using 45"-wide fabric. My fabric wasn't that wide, so I could make only four bags. You can see I turned fabric different directions to assemble the bags. I also changed zipper directions, and added ribbon and beads to the zipper pull tabs.
All the bags have been spoken for, so it was a worthwhile effort that went a long way. It's fun to surprise friends with an unexpected birthday present.

Thank you, LuAnn for a great idea.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sad News - Good News

My 90 year-old aunt, a faithful Christian, passed away. To attend her funeral and spend time with cousins and extended family I haven't seen in at least five years, I cancelled the second Stitchin' Mission lesson. It was a difficult decision because it's the first time in leading 21 Stitchin' Mission series that I've missed. But everyone has been completely understanding, and the host church was able to add another week to the end of the class schedule, so everyone will get their full five beginner quiltmaking lessons... albeit with a long gap between the first and second lessons.

And in other, extremely happy news...

I am returning to Sydney, Australia!

Leaving Des Moines Wednesday, April 14, I'll arrive in Sydney on Friday, April 16. Yes, it is most certainly a long trip! I will be in transit for more than 23 hours, but it will be worth it to be with...
Celina, age 11

and Tay, 5-1/2 months
and our daughter and son-in-law, the same family I stayed with during my Oct/Nov visit last year. This time I'll stay three weeks, returning home May 7.

I can't wait to go! I simply adore Australia! I can't wait to see my family in person, instead of on a Skype screen. Poor baby doesn't know that Nana is actually a three-dimensional person!
I can't wait to see my Aus friends! I can't wait to share more of Sydney with my blog friends.

I am undoubtedly blessed as this will be my fourth trip to Australia.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Flaunt - Machine Quilting, Stitchery

Purging and organzing continue at my house. Today was spent going through two file cabinet drawers. One would think that wouldn't demand much time, but going through every page of paper consumed most of the day. The result is a 16" pile of papers in the green recycle bin, a basketful of shredded paper, and two empty file cabinet drawers. Rah!

Quilting-wise, I pin-basted the Riverside quilt and have started free-motion quilting. It's nice to work on something smaller than a queen-size quilt.

But, how to quilt around embroidery? This 12" block needed to be secured so I quilted along the top of the words, and around some of the major elements like the trees.
Then I quilted in the valley around the perimeter of the embroidered block. Do you use your walking foot to quilt straight lines? I used to use the walking foot but now find that quilting straight lines with the free-motion foot gives me more maneuverability.

In the pieced Flying Geese around the stitchery I quilted wavy feathers.

I love the look of feathers, and they're fun to quilt too.
For the first time, I quilted these without marking the veins or feathers!

How often do you stop to clean your machine?
My Bernina technician suggests doing so every time the bobbin empties. Even though I sew with high quality Aurifil thread, lint still builds up. I brush it out and follow that with a blast of canned air.

An old t-shirt, cut into small pieces, works well for wiping off lint and excess oil. The last step before reassembling is to put a drop of Tri-Flow oil/lubricant on the hook race.
My Bernina fairly sighs with contentment after a fresh cleaning.
My finished cutie this week is Josephine Jellyfish, the January "Under the Sea" block from Willowberry Designs. I appreciate Cheryl Goss' design talent, and that she's giving away this pattern... how nice is that!?I hope your week has been productively satisfying.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Special Day

This morning was the awards ceremony for the 2010 American Red Cross "Heroes of the Heartland." Nineteen people received awards before a breakfast crowd of at least 500 people. They were recognized for contributions in emergency situations, health care, international outreach, community outreach, and the like.

I was nominated as a 2010 "hero" because of the Stitchin' Mission quiltmaking ministry. Neither I nor 31 other nominees received an award, but it was a lovely ceremony. I was especially pleased to invite Michelle (on the left in the photo) to join me. She has been a loyal Stitchin' Mission supporter, devotedly helping at nearly every one of the 21 Stitchin' Missions there have been since 2003.

I am deeply grateful for her continued support, as well as the support of numerous others. Without them, Stitchin' Mission would not be possible. Thank you everyone!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Swiss Friend, and Organizing

In 1996, when the World Wide Web - yes, that's what "www" stands for - was in its infancy, I met Edith on what must have surely been one of the first quilting-related chat groups. It was called Kaffee Klatch and was moderated by a woman in Germany.

Since then, Edith and I have swapped countless emails, sent packages, and "crossed the big pond" to visit one another. Edith lives in Switzerland.

She visited me for the first time in 2000; I visited her in 2002. She has since returned twice: once in 2005 so we could attend the AQS national quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky; and another time in 2008 so we could attend the AQS national show here in Des Moines, Iowa. Both of us had quilts juried into the 2008 AQS show.

This is Edith in 2008 with her quilt "Mama Africa."

This is me in 2008 with the "AlJundi Wedding Quilt," a double wedding ring quilt, free-motion quilted and trapuntoed. The quilt was a wedding gift for our daughter and son-in-law, though it remains in my possession until they move to the US.
Neither Edith or I won anything for our quilts, but it was fun to have made it "in" together.

Through the years, Edith has thoughtfully made fabric cards for me. And boy, are there cards! During all the sorting and organizing that continues to go on around here, I found these in various places around the house.

Edith is very talented as you can see by the beautiful ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), and these paper greeting cards with fabric inserts and machine stitching.
Edith and I remain close friends, but now instead of laboriously writing emails, we visit one anothers' blogs, and Skype. As technology has evolved, so have we.

Visit Edith's "quilts und mehr" blog here. She posts in German, but thoughtfully translates her posts into English for us monolingual followers.

Sorting and Organizing
This week began with one dresser drawer containing jewelry. There's not so much to show for three hours of work, but I have purged! More than 50 pairs of earrings are poked into card stock, ready to give away. My SIL who makes jewelry has first dibs. Perhaps she can find something of worth in all this.
Most of the pieces are either gold-colored - I'm a silver gal these days - or "professional" stuff worn to work in the 90s. I'm not fond of hearts either, so everything with a heart shape is gone.
What little organizing progress I've made with this jewelry is still satisfying, like I'm taking bites of that elephant.

Nibbling away,


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